Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Little JCrew Update

Little JCrew has turned into a "Yes" Man. There is still a lot of "No's" spoken, but at least he's polite about it.

His "No" is drawn out as he shakes his head and the palms of his hands toward you. It's usually followed by, "I cannot." And there are a lot of times I am told, "Don't do that." If a parent wants to hear how they sound, all they have to do is listen to their child. I hear all kinds of phrases I didn't know I said.

A controlling personality has appeared now that he is potty-trained. There is new empowerment in this skill. Mr. JCrew and I do a lot wrong and Little JCrew is always correcting us. He's lucky we find it cute right now. However, we've already had to step in and tell him he can't boss his parents around.

Little JCrew discovered Buzz Lightyear and it's actually how we got him potty-trained. He played with it at a friend's house and we told him if he pooped on the potty, we would go get him a Buzz. One early morning he used the potty and we went straight to the store to fulfill our promise. Forty-five dollars later, we were the new owners of a Buzz Lightyear. The most expensive toy I have purchased, but worth it to have a potty-trained child. Little JCrew then taught Buzz how to use the potty.

I love the Spider-Man underwear!!

Little JCrew is still a picky eater. He has his favorites and Mac & Cheese is not one of them! He cannot be my child! I lived on Macaroni and Cheese. But when he does have a favorite, he goes into feast mode.

The kid LOVES soccer and is good at it. He loves being active. He runs when we go outside and appears to never tire. We started putting a ball in front of him, and he has feet skills. It was me that put a ball in front of him when Mr. JCrew was not around, so there was no influence by the soccer player in the family.

He plays baseball and loves to hit the ball and pitch it. He's also great at encouraging others. When his friends play ball, he tells them, "Great job" and claps for them. They don't even have to hit the ball to get that kind of encouragement. He even does this for Mr. Brigglesworth.

Mr. Brigglesworth may be the little brother, but it's Little JCrew that is the pesky one. Little JCrew will naturally take things from Mr. Brigglesworth and a fight will break out. Mr. Brigglesworth is mellow most of the time, but if he really wanted that something brother took away, he'll fight for it.

Little JCrew is the opposite of Mr. Brigglesworth when it comes to interaction with his Daddy. Little JCrew thrives on Mr. JCrew's silliness and is energized by the chaos. When you get him laughing, it only makes you laugh with him.

At church we are told that Little JCrew really gets into story-time and the singing of songs. This didn't surprise us as we see him sing and dance at home, until we realized... he has an audience! This kid hams it up when eyes are watching him. Might have to introduce him to some performing arts.

I cannot believe Little JCrew will be 3 in less than 5 weeks. I couldn't imagine life without him. He makes me feel special when it is just him and me (once Dad is home, I'm minced meat). He gives the sweetest kisses and says, "I love you." It's not often, so I soak it up.

He's an awesome big brother and comforts Mr. Brigglesworth when he cries. My favorite phrase is, "Don't worry. I promise." Melt my heart!

Meeting Cousin Kyleigh

This Fall he starts the 3-year old program at school. I am very excited to see him grow and learn new things. He just amazes me. I am so thankful God chose me to be his momma. I'm the lucky one.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Mr. Brigglesworth Update

My littlest man is such a blessing. He is his brother's biggest fan and he loves his momma.

Mr. JCrew has a hold on him, and Mr. Brigglesworth loves to get "roughed up" by his daddy.

The words Mr. Brigglesworth says are countless. He is speaking sentences and you can understand him! His nickname for Little JCrew sounds like "Yolks" or "Dilts." We know what it means and it is adorable.

He will chase Little JCrew around trying to offer him something. He loves to share because he loves when people share with him. Sometimes I have to tell Little JCrew to take what Mr. Briggleworth is offering even if he doesn't want it.

At night time, our house is like the Walton's. Mr. Brigglesworth has to say "goodnight" to everyone. "Goodnight, Kates! Goodnight, Jackson! Goodnight, Mimi. Goodnight, Anderson. Goodnight, "Dilts." Goodnight, "Bolby" (Colby). Goodnight, Momom." He goes to sleep easily and loves to sing "Happy Birthday" as a bedtime song. He'll always ask for more songs. He will say the Lord's Prayer before bed and it's pretty good. The words are not clear, but the pattern is right on.

As crazy as he was as a baby, he is becoming organized! He still plays with his cars and trucks very delicately and passionately. He will call out a truck from far away; even just hearing a big engine, he calls out "truck" and looks for it. He can even distinguish an airplane flying by. We have promised him a truck when he can drive.

He is still an introvert and plays well by himself. He prefers quiet rest time and finds Dad's silliness too extreme. We let his hair grow out and I love it. I was afraid growing it out would make his spiky hair stand out even further, but the spikes have calmed down and his hair lays flat.

He loves to eat and wants a "bite." He has four breakfast's each morning; his own, part of mine, part of Mr. JCrew's and part of Mimi's. And we wonder why we are hungry after we just ate.

He's not a runner, but he tries. He LOVES to be "outside" and look for trucks! "Here it comes" and "There it goes"  are favorite phrases.

His sweet spirit is still there and he loves to cuddle. He loves his favorite blanket and big bear hugs.

I love this little boy of mine, and am so glad God picked me to be his momma.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Patching and Painting

We've moved out of the house and there was a lot of work that went into it. I do feel really lucky that I had three months to prepare. I couldn't imagine squeezing it all into 30 days. I would have had long days and taking time off from work. For that I am grateful I had 3 months.

After taking everything off the wall, I had to patch holes. Most holes were just nails, and those are easy. But the holes with anchors scared me. Not all my paints are in flat finish. When you work with non-flat paint, it accentuates imperfections. I’m a perfectionist.

I perfected my technique in patching holes. I did three coats each. I sanded in between coats. I was pretty proud. I even took some water with a rag to wipe the excess dust on the wall. Painting over the dust isn’t pretty. Even in some spots, I took a razor blade to get the raised drywall off the wall. I did that after I already applied the first coat of putty.

The part that I dread is the painting. Touch-up jobs are much harder than doing a whole wall.

I had thrown out my dining room paint the builder left me, so I bought a quart of it. My holes were perfect, but the paint shade was off. I knew it the minute I started rolling. And you can tell where I rolled.

I didn’t get upset as I knew it could change by morning. I woke up, still disappointed.

Dining Room

This meant I’d have to paint the entire room. Good thing the bottom portion is wainscoting! (Note: While packing up the house, on the VERY LAST day, I found the dining room can of paint left by the builder!)

Painting the whole room was not what I wanted to do. This is why it frustrated me. Even when I use the same paint can from the time I painted the original walls, it still doesn’t turn out right. I love painting, but HATE touch up.

The living room walls were frustrating me. They looked fine straight on. The color matched. But when you looked from the side, you could see the roller marks. I kept trying to fix that area until I called it good enough.

Living Room
The week before we moved out, I had a change of heart. I bought a new quart of the living room paint and decided to tackle it one more time. The new paint worked! I guess my old paint had gotten old enough. Thanks goodness it looks better now!

The room I dreaded most was Little JCrew’s room. The bed system was mounted to the wall, when I painted his room, I never removed the 2x4’s so I painted them. This meant I’d need to paint that portion now that it was gone.

Same issue with the boat propellers. Those suckers were mounted to the wall good. But the anchor caused a large hole.

I used the trick about leaving the drywall paper around the hole to create a smooth transition.

Tips say to cut a square because that’s easier, but I didn’t. I just used chalk around the circle and put my scrap drywall up to it to mark the size.

I then scored the sheetrock and started removing chunks.

The boys were helping me at this point. Little JCrew was identifying all the triangles.

At first the paper curled on the ends. That was because it got thinner during the process of removing the chunks. In hindsight, I should have worked to straighten them out, but instead I cut them.

I then tried to use the plaster to get the paper down, but it failed just like it failed when repairing the drywall on the stairwell. So, I used the same solution, of SuperGlue.

Then I used compound and sanded. I repeated those steps. It actually sanded down the sheetrock paper thinner, so that helped smooth the transition.

I waited to paint. It made me so nervous.

However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I did multiple coats of paint. Each layer that went on, disguised the drywall job I did.

Luckily, this is the new owner's office and he put a large wall system on that wall. It was really hard to tell unless you were looking for it. Glad it all worked out and all the holes were filled.

The bonus room was my next to biggest fear in regards to holes. The TV was mounted on the wall using large bolts into the stud. But I was able to patch it with no trouble and with new paint, you can't find it!

I learned how to perfect a skill but didn't master the drywall repair. I need more practice, but you won't find me making holes in my wall just for that.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Eagleston Holly - Update

I have received a lot of questions and traffic about my Eagleston Holly. The last question asked for an update on them, so here it is. (Sidenote: We are in zone 7.)

I have two Eagleston Hollies. They were planted in a bed that originally had Dogwoods.

June 2014

Those dogwoods had no shade to survive, and I needed something that would be a screen for my neighbor's yard. Eagleston Holly is an evergreen, so during the winter, I have a constant screen. It really does aid in providing privacy.

June 2014

The leaves do shed twice a year, but it is not bad. They shed right before a new growth. The leaves have one "point" per leaf but it would not hurt if you were to step on it bare foot.

Leaf Detail

This winter we had snow that lasted more than a day. I tried to shake the snow off the branches of my trees, but the weight of the snow held them down. I did heavily trim my Eagleston Hollies this year because of that. I do trim them regularly so that they are encouraged to grow fuller.

It is definitely not a perfect tree meant to be a specimen, but it is a nice tree. Something very unique about it.

Thanks for all the questions and comments.

May 2014 after pruning. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Transplanting Existing Plants to a New Yard

With the building of a new house, we are trying to save money in every corner possible. Of course, we are not trying to cut corners structurally, but there are some things that we can take with us to save on cost. Appliances are where we are saving the most money. Our kitchen appliances and washer and dryer are all coming with us. They are five years old and we love them.

When I moved to Alabama, my parents brought some plants from the home I grew up in in Florida. And some of those plants came from my grandparents' homes in Mississippi. One of those plants was the Cast Iron Plant. My mom calls it Ironwood.

We had it outside the dining room in Florida, and I had it outside my dining room in the last house.

It was the green in between my purple loropetalum. I took the clump at the back of the grouping because it would be less noticeable. They don't like the cold, so this winter killed them down to the ground, but they came back! I just cut down the freezer burned leaves and it shot up new growth.

The other plant that came from Mississippi / Florida, is my Border Grass. It was outside the Master Bedroom.

In the winter, it dies to the ground (in Alabama, not Florida). If you trim the old leaves off, it will send up new growth faster. Keeping the old leaves attached, only makes it harder and longer to come back, but it does.

This plant is easy to make babies from. It shoots off babies everywhere. It's how it fills in gaps so easily. I just dug up the babies that were spreading beyond where I wanted them and potted them.

These babies don't really die after being transplanted. They thrive! However, I think it does help that they are in pots. When I thinned out my border grass two years ago and placed them in another area, they acted hurt and didn't look great the first year. But after the winter, they came back great!

Having them in pots, will encourage them to thicken up in the pot and I will have nice full plants by the time I have a yard to put them in.

The daylilies were another plant I made smaller plants with.

You couldn't even tell I took some.

The daylilies have already started shooting up new leaves where I removed some just two weeks ago. These plants do like to be thinned out and improve the health. Overcrowding can become damaging to the plants.

We were able to make 25 daylilies out of the clumps I dug up!

However, it can be easy to become discouraged. When I transplanted my iris's years ago, I cut them down to 5-6 inch leaves so that the plant can focus on new roots and spend less energy on the long leaves. I dug up all my iris's to take to the new house and did the same cutting technique.

I used the same cutting technique on the daylilies. I didn't capture pictures of them right after they were potted, but they were green! And then they turned brown, quickly.

I didn't cut them at first, but after they turned brown, I started to remove the dead leaves and cut them down just a little. They were starting to look bad.

I cut them down three times, before I was as low as I wanted to go. Sure enough, new green leaves started sprouting up!

They aren't large now, but they will fill those containers up by the time they go dormant for Winter.

It's just enough to keep me encouraged.

They are growing at different rates, but they can all count as having new growth. That's 25 new daylilies for free! When they can be bought at a store for no less than $3.99, I just saved $100! And yes, I do plan to use them all in the new yard. They will be everywhere!

Cast Iron Plants and Iris's aren't cheap. You pay more for very little. However, they expand and fill in over time. Border Grass can be cheap, but dividing my own probably saved me $100 as well.

If you've got the time and space, I would definitely encourage you to use your own plants to make more before buying from a store. I was able to fill in gaps at the old house this way, and now I am going to be able to fill my new yard with transplants! The only thing we'll have to buy are sod, trees and some foundation shrubs. I'm really excited!

And I've already acquired some new plants from old friends thinning out their yards. And the neighborhood I live in is holding a perennial swap in September, and hopefully I can acquire some new-to-me plants.

"To Plant A Garden Is To Have Hope In Tomorrow" - Audrey Hepburn
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