Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dear Rowan (20 months)

You are taking a nap now, and normally I would take a nap too, but I can't sleep because your sister is kicking me like crazy.  I thought I'd finally come and post something on the blog about everything we did to the house this year, but as I was looking through the pictures to pick out ones to use, all I could see was you!

You're starting to talk a little-- you say mama, dada, car car, and nana (banana) and of course, uh-oh remains a fave (it probably always will.)  Lately you've been working on other words too, just today you asked for some grapes and we freaked out and you thought it was funny.  We went to Texas and MA (and PA and OH) to visit family and friends for Christmas and you had a grand time!

You like to eat spicy things which surprises me.  You also eat/lick things that you think will make me say ick and make faces at you-- like: 
your feet
I blame myself because my "ick" faces are too funny.  I'm working on that.  

You are so very sweet with babies which makes me happy.  When you see them, you grab their faces (one hand on each cheek) and get really close and say "hi baby!"  When we ask you where your baby sister is, you point to your belly.  Close enough.  

You love jumping (still) and you love cars.  You also love your dad.  ALOT.  He plays hide and seek with you and you wrestle all the time.  He's much more fun to wrestle with than I am because I am practically immobile and too easy to beat.  You have a wonderful wrestling signature yell which we call "The Pterodactyl."  You tried it out on your Uncle Ben in MA and I'm quite sure that his heart was struck with fear (and cuteness).  

You just woke up from your nap, so this is it for now!   

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dear Rowan (16 months),

Everyone warns you and it's 100% true!  Your babyhood went by so fast and now you are squarely a toddler.  You are the blondest thing that a girl like me could ever have a hand in producing.  Everyone calls you a "tow head" which confuses me.  I know it means that you are blonde, but as to whether it was "toe" or "tow" I was unsure.  I just looked it up on the internet, and it has German roots: tow headed is literally "flaxen haired". This meaning of tow comes from Middle Low German touw (which means "flax, hemp fiber") 
and so there you are, boy with the flaxen hair.  

Your favorite word is "uh-oh." You say it to the exclusion of all other words.  Sometimes you draw it out "UH...........
........oh."   such dramatic affectations already.  You get that from your Dad ;)  You are an EXCEPTIONAL dancer.  You are also an exceptional sleeper and I can't tell you how that has changed my life and made all things possible.  We had a rough go of things for a while there, but the moment that I went to NYC for 12 days you made an executive decision to 1. stop nursing (we kind of co-made that one) and 2. sleep through the night.  Your dad thought it was funny that the first night you slept all the way through was the first night I was gone thereby making the fact that you didn't sleep "my fault."  ha.
Now you sleep from 7 pm till 7 am most days and that is AWESOME.

You love to play in dirt and with water, you and your dad went to the beach a lot this summer and you are fearless when it comes to water.  You just run right in until you fall down and then you pop up-- so happy and drenched (and thankfully not drowned because your dad chases you all around while I sit and lament the heat.  I can't help it I'm such a Yank)

One of the (many) funny things you do is after bathtime when we kiss you goodnight you usually dodge us both and then one night you grabbed both our heads and pushed them together so that we'd kiss each other instead of you and we all thought it was so funny that now you do that every single night.  You splash the CRAP out of me at bathtime, you fresh thing.

Other fun things: you empty the pantry regularly, you're warming up to the idea of the piano, if even the slightest hint of a dog bark passes on any light breeze, you immediately bark like a dog, you approach dogs in our neighborhood freely but are deeply offended when they lick you and you reprimand them severely for it, you climb up to your room and sit in the rocking chair with books-- whenever we can't find you that's where you are, you think it's really funny to kick me in the belly when I change you-- that will have to change soon :)

There's a little brother or sister on the way for you!  You are very sweet and cautious with other babies so that makes me happy, I can't wait to see you turn into a big brother!  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quick! before the summer's over!

I am amazed at how fast/slowly this summer is moving.  Every morning I wake up with the intention of doing some sort of small house project or doing something fun and summery with Rowan-- sometimes we have some fun, but house projects are increasingly rare... maybe that's because every single wall in the house (excepting two closets) has finally been stripped of wallpaper and painted.  Every wall!  and there are a bunch of them!  I tackled our bedroom a few months ago but haven't posted anything about it because of extreme laziness.


  • come up with a solution for the back entry way-- where do we put our keys and bags and such?
  • come up with a recycling solution.  paper bag on the floor isn't cutting it anymore
  • make sno-cones by finding a snoopy sno cone machine
  • go somewhere "up north" in Michigan
  • acquire a dresser for Drake so that he doesn't have to keep all of his clothes in the guest room
  • get a corner shelving system built for the basement landing so that cleaning supplies don't just get flung there.
  • post pictures of the millions of changes that have taken place around here that I haven't communicated.  At least pictures, even if I don't write about them....

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Old Time Radio Hour-- Drake plays Liberace playing the Godfather prelude

Some piano rolls are "Celebrity Rolls" and record famous pianists performances-- We only have one of them-- and it's Liberace playing the prelude from the Godfather.  Naturally, this was Drake's choice for first piano roll when we got the piano.  :)  AND it's his first piano roll ever-- not just on our piano.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Back patio

It's summer!

Which means we've been working up a storm on the house-- inside and out.  We've worked on the back patio before though....
First we fixed this problem by installing a gutter system....

So that we are no longer terrorized by killer icicles. 

Here it is last summer, partially decked out for Drake's birthday party, but those are fake ferns.  We couldn't take them down because birds were nesting in them.  Also, do you see the little bird houses built in?  Those were really hornets nests.  So there was a lot of work to be done.  We weren't home for much of last summer, so that project got pushed to this year...

But last year we cleaned the deck and stained it-- but we  didn't like the cedar color, so then we painted it white, but I didn't like the white, and it didn't hold up very well SO we went with slate grey this spring, and I like it very very much :) 

A couple other things-- we painted the "pergola" white and also painted the fence white-- we also powerwashed the chairs and cushions and gave the chairs a fresh coat of glossy navy paint.  A BIG upgrade.
See Rowan's little sand and water table over in the corner?  That was his first birthday present :)  
He loves it and makes a giant mess every time he plays with it.  
We combined our Memorial Day cookout with an impromptu belated first birthday party for him since we didn't really get a chance to have a birthday party at home with him because we were traveling a lot this Spring.  I don't think  he noticed that it was late....
He really enjoyed the trips too!  (This is in Central Park)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our first Piano Roll-- Rowan was displeased

Rowan really had no time for Mack the Knife.  Granted, it is a rather horrifying song to play for a baby, but I didn't really think of that before I started singing it and came across such choice lyrics as "On a tugboat by the river lies a body oozing life"  Whoops!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Let the realization of my dreams commence.

You may or may not recall that before we moved to Michigan, I started talking about an old-time radio show that would be centered around pop tunes of the turn of the last century...

Of course this was inspired by the fact that my Memere (grandmother) had a player piano which we all loved-- and many many piano rolls which I have in my possession in Michigan.  I promise I'll share them, Ben, Joe and Greg!  I didn't mean to abscond with each and every one-- well yes I did, but only because I planned to acquire... THIS!

It's here!  It's here!

It's a Duo/Art, and I think it was manufactured in the 1940's or 50's which is rare, because players were at the peak of their popularity in the 1920's and fell out of favor after the Great Depression.  Most of the pianos that we saw before this one were Gigantors and in terrible shape.  But this one!  I swoon.  Here's a peek at the player mechanism:

Many amazing surprises about this piano.  
1. We bought it from its original owners, and it's in impeccable shape.  Needs to be tuned which is happening next Tuesday

2. They gave us all of their piano rolls!

Many things which make my heart happy, such as 
  • selections from The Sound of Music
  • Cabaret
  • Mack the Knife
  • Mame
  • Many Beatles songs
AND! hidden among this veritable treasure trove is a Celebrity Series Roll.... do you see it?

Why, yes!  Yes that is The Godfather played by Liberace.

Now, back to the continuing surprises:

3.  All of the original manuals for the piano were in the bench!  Here are a few favorite (and informative) pages:

We are TOTALLY getting those barbershop style hats for our friends to wear when they're playing the piano.

Thought these were pretty informative!

And then we have the marketing flyer. I truly believe that we will have evenings that look exactly like this:

Please draw your attention to the "Ukelano" attachment!  I have to ask our technician about this...

an oldtime razz-ma-tazz piano sound?!? Be still my heart.

So, in short, please be on the lookout for the impending web broadcast of the Orion Victorian Old-Time Radio Show.  Starring everyone who ever comes over to our house.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer's here!

I thought that I'd still be able to blog a bit since January, but no.  Things got too busy.  I'm teaching a ton and singing a ton and then there's this:
He turned one by the way... incredible. 

But now it's summer!  glorious summer!  We have such plans.  Last night we sat and wrote a (5 page) list of all of the things we wanted to do this summer.  Obviously, we will not get them all done, but at the top of the list (right after acquire a piano.  We're musicians!  How do we still not have a piano?!) are our Bedroom and the back patio.  Remember our bedroom?  It basically still looks the way it looked the first time we saw the house:

 Sad. sad. sad.  There is no taxidermied fowl anymore.  But that's about all the change that has occurred.  PLANS!

1. Build this awesome Master Closet System designed by Ana White



3. Re-floor

4. Perhaps vault the ceiling?  We're thinking that we could cut out the drop ceiling and vault it up into the attic, but that may be more than we are capable of doing ourselves, so we'll see about that one....

5. Re-tile and paint the bathroom 

Now, Back Patio options abound.... here's some inspiration that we're working with:

recycled-glass-lantern-a787.jpgwire-lanterns-c178.jpg     wood-slat-dining-collection-f726.jpg


We have an arbor already back there, and hung a few cute lanterns from it for Drake's birthday party last year

We took down the fake ferns and the hmmm... what do you call that?  That wooden stuff that goes between the structure of the arbor?  that stuff.  

So now we want to get some outdoor fabric that we can use as a shade cover and will be beautiful and flow-y
5106275.jpgsomething like this

So now to catch you up!  Here's the work we've already done that I'll be reporting on over the next few weeks:

  • Stripped, and used paintable textured wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom
  • Painted over the wood paneling in our hallway and started two gallery walls
  • Planted an herb garden in one of our windowboxes!
We'll also be working alot on landscaping this summer, so there will be countless reports on that I'm sure.  I can already report that in one of my first gardening experiences of the season I was pruning back some decorative grasses that have gotten out of hand and almost hit a frog with a hoe, then I screamed and ran inside.  

Summer!  hooray!!  
See you soon :) 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Before After Mania!

Oh boy oh boy.  We have a very long Christmas break, and we spent it on Rowan's first Christmas world tour, which was a great deal of fun.  (Pics soon)  

The benefit of having a lot of time off is that you have time off for projects! But then you get so busy with projects, and class planning and such that there is simply no time to blog about them.  BUT! know this! We have done some work in both the laundry room and the kitchen as follows:

note: stained carpets,  3 tulip light fixture, pastel wallpaper, pulldown staircase---

For about a year we were living with the under-paper.  Drake pulled down the pansies, and we were left with this lovely and calming wall dressing duo:


Now we just have to get rid of the laundry (move it into the bathroom) and pull up the linoleum and refinish the wood floors!


I wish I had a closeup of the border which said "Shadybrook Farms" (this is true)


What's that you say?  you can barely see the ceiling fan?  Well that's because we painted it and replaced the tulip light covers.  This is what it used to look like:

We are desperate for some art in here, but are pretty psyched about the more sophisticated (than Shadybrook farms) color palate. 
and now! Still have to put in a tile backsplash, and new floor, AND refinish the cabinets. (and perhaps move the sink to under the window....)

One more quick before:
And after:

Well begun, but never ending!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hoppin' John!

You know, I'm not really southern but they sure do have a lot of tasty food down there.  While we were in Dallas for Christmas Susan made a delicious black-eyed pea stew and it got me thinking.  I knew that black-eyed peas were traditionally eaten on New Year's Day for good luck-- I had my first stew after a New Year's 5K in Austin-- but I'd never cooked any!  I thought I remembered seeing a recipe in The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, and sure enough, I did.

So today I am making Saigon Hoppin' John (with a few alterations)
Rinse 1 cup of dried black eyed peas thoroughly, then put them in a large bowl and cover them with water.  Let soak for 4 hours (!)<---They're still soaking as I write this

bring 6 cups of Vegetable Broth to a boil and add the drained peas.  Reduce heat to Med. High and boil until peas are tender (about 25 minutes)

Add 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice, 1tsp ground ginger, one bruised (?) stalk of lemongrass (we didn't have any at our grocery store, so I skipped this part...) 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (um, again, none at the grocery store, but we did have coconut "juice" so I got that-- is this going to be a disaster?  stay tuned.), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar and return all of this to a boil.

Reduce to low and simmer until porridge-y (20 minutes)

Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro  and salt and pepper to taste.
This is where you'd also add lemongrass to each bowl when serving too (if you had lemongrass at your grocery store.)

Have I set myself up for New Year Disaster? I am quite distinctly *not* following the recipe in that I don't have Lemongrass and I'm using unsweetened coconut *juice* and not unsweetened coconut *milk.* Only time (5 hours) will tell.  But I'm thinking tis better to have attempted my first black-eyed pea new year than to have just given up due to lack of exotic ingredients :)
I'll let you know how it turns out!

First Year in Pictures

All of these pictures made me realize what I haven't showed you! 
There are new curtains in the Dining Room, We redid the front bedroom and never shared pictures, There aren't really any pictures of Rowan's room, AND we just redid the laundry room too :) 

Much more to come.