Monday, July 25, 2011

A real Bee-mergency

So, it's not such a big deal having chickens and goats and bees in your neighbors' yard, as was pointed out on my post below, except when they escape into your yard and you have a 1 and a 1/2 year old that loves getting into anything new and interesting.

But guess which one it was that got into our yard?

It was the BEES.

That's right, bees are like an adventurous dog that won't stay at home - sometimes they wander off and you have to go find them and bring them back!!

So, the Studly Hubby was at home on Friday innocently eating his lunch when he looked outside to find 10,000 bees swarming in the front yard. They were lost, and didn't know what to do! Eventually they took up residence in a tree next door.

This is a picture of the bee swarm in the tree.

That evening, a mysterious 'bee-catcher' showed up and collected most of the bees and disappeared. Later the next day, the rest of the bees disappeared.

What the heck, we wondered?

Well, a little internet research and asking around led to an unexpected story about bees and, well, babies.

Our neighbors just had a baby, and with a new baby comes a loosening of all that was once controlled, including their pet bees. When a bee hive gets too large, a new queen bee is raised and the old queen splits off with about half the workers and finds a new location. As the bees look for a new location, they don't sting and pose no threat, but they swarm together with their queen in the center and can actually easily be 10,000 bees thick. In Seattle, when your pet bees get loose, you call a 'swarm-catcher', of which there are about 20 in the city, who don't get paid but come catch the bees and take them off somewhere that needs them. Bee-catchers perform their services with a general 'save-the-bees' mentality, and obviously, we should all appreciate them more now that we know who they are!

We definitely appreciate the swarm-catchers!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Goats or chickens anyone?

There are a few things about Seattle that have taken some getting used to (from a Midwestern girl's perspective.

First, there is water everywhere. It rains all the time, we are surrounded by lakes, ocean inlets, canals, etc (every direction from our house will lead you to water within 5 miles, and in the north or south direction within about 10 blocks). Plus, it's super hilly here so you can SEE the water from everywhere too (and mountains!!). Where I come from, this sort of thing is very unusual.

Second, you can parallel park your car in any direction on the street. This is one of the weirdest things I have ever seen. Back home, if you didn't park in the direction of traffic you would be heavily fined. Here, they don't want people jamming up traffic trying to do tight U-turns to park so they just let you park on the wrong side in the wrong direction, no problem. It looks to me like everyone in the city was drunk when they parked their car, all the time. So strange!

Third, you can walk out in traffic any time you want. The cars will stop for you in the crosswalk, out of the crosswalk, no matter what, even if you just look like you might be thinking about walking out in traffic. I suspect this stems from a combination of the threat of heavy fines to any car that violates a pedestrian's right-of-way and a culture of extremely polite drivers. I've gotten dangerously used to this, and I'm not sure it's a good thing.

Fourth, and most bizarre: you can keep chickens, goats and bees in your backyard anywhere in the city. This means that all three of these are right in our very neighborhood - and I often see them as I walk around the block (chickens mostly, as the others are less popular and less visible). Our neighborhood has a 'neighborhood walk' tomorrow to get people out to see the bees, chickens and goats that people keep around the neighborhood - how exciting! Layla and I will have to miss, though - we already have plans to go see milk carton races up at Green Lake.

I hope everyone is having a fun July!

Summer in Seattle

Everyone says summer here starts on July 5, and that is SOOOOO true. It will be cool and in the '60s until about mid-July, then you get about a month of sort-of warm weather, and then fall is here in September. A lot of people get upset about this. I am not one of them.

But, we do try to get out and enjoy the summer weather when it's here.

Last weekend we went over to a friend's house who has a fabulous back yard (rare in Seattle) complete with an above-ground heated pool (exceptionally rare in Seattle) - and a toddler's fantasy land of toys and animals. Layla almost exploded with excitement when she got there. She played with the slide and playhouse in the backyard, the dog ('Thor'), the rabbit, and their two little girls that were happy to entertain her all afternoon. But the pool was a little scary I think - she much preferred to run around the deck screaming something that sounded a lot like 'HEY YOU GUYS!!' over and over. We finally coaxed her in by letting her ride their blow-up seal around while her daddy held her tight (her feet were the only part of her that actually got wet) and when she was done she wanted right back out again. Maybe next time...

Friday, July 01, 2011

The flying diaper change

We have really been around the block with Layla's diaper changes. Before she could roll over, she was a sweet little girl who would coo at you happily while you changed her diaper. Then she learned how to roll over and the fanstasy came to a screeching halt. Soon she would take off down the table and across the dresser at light speed towards the 5-foot drop off beyond. After a few close calls we decided to move her to the floor where she was at first a little better (something new!) and then even worse especially once she could walk because she would tear off through the house buck naked while you chased her down with the diaper.

This is dangerous on many levels.

Apparently the daycare has had some trouble too, so it makes me feel better that even trained professionals are finding Layla's diaper changes quite difficult.

We discovered about a month ago that some of her diaper disposition some bad rashes and she really seems to appreciate it when we make an extra effort to wipe her fanny very delicately (I am ashamed to admit we even bought a wipes warmer in the hope that this would help - it didn't, but it makes the wipes more accessible when you're in a rush so we kept it). Unfortunately anything delicate is impossible when her fanny is covered in poo and she's aiming for a quick escape across the living room.

So, we had to start doing all the diaper changes in her bedroom with the door closed, with a towel on the floor and a second parent nearby. It did the trick although both of us were exhausted after, sometimes we had to do almost a full load of laundry and on one occasion I had to go get my ear plugs from all the screaming. A diaper change in public almost landed us all a spot on the evening news.

But, I'm happy to report that she has gotten a tiny bit better in the past few weeks. Perhaps she is becoming wiser as she gets on in months and she is starting to better understand the business of the diaper change. Whatever it is, hopefully it is here to stay and we can breathe a little easier at the thought of all the diaper changing we have to do over the long 3-day weekend.

15 month update

Layla is a big 15 months now!!! What a big girl.

15 month update:

- she is TALKING to us! She can say so many useful words, like 'cracker' and 'crayon' and 'Alex' (her buddy at school) and 'flower' and 'bottle'... wow!! We're pretty sure she even said 'bucket' and 'elephant' which seems very advanced to me. There are a few sounds she still hasn't learned yet, like "S" and "L" so she's still working hard on those. Her favorite word this week is 'car' which she says at every single opportunity.

- she is finally starting to like daycare again, after a very traumatic transition to the toddler room a few months ago. One of the staff told me that he thought part of her trauma was associated with a bad mauling on the playground on her first day in the toddler room (an older girl ran her over and she got scraped up pretty badly) - how scary! (they told me at the time but I hadn't thought about the lasting effects). Poor thing! But, he told me this because he thought she was finally over it and starting to trust him and the other staff again, and he was really glad to see that happen finally.

- at the Doctor's office last week, she weighed in at the 50th percentile but is now in the 90th percentile for height - a total reversal from six months ago. So now she is tall and lean, and I officially miss her former chunky baby self. She still has very pudgy legs though which I squeeze as much as possible. She also got vaccinated for measles which didn't sit well with her - she got an awful rash and a fever and we had to take her back in 3 days later so she could complain to them for a while about how bad she felt. They noted it and told us to be wary when she gets the booster in 4 years (ugh!). She started to feel better the next day, thankfully.

- she crawled up on the couch tonight for the first time! holy moley, we are in trouble now!

- after a few months of hating her stroller, she is really starting to like it again, although only for short-ish rides. It's a nice change, and because of that and her generally improved mood these days we feel a little more like we can take her out again. Last weekend we actually went SHOPPING and it went fairly well (although it was super quick!). I bought some much-needed new jeans.

Baby book!!

After a year and a half, I finally finished the alleged baby book, which is now just 'the baby book'

That was a lot of work.

Actually, it wasn't super bad - it's just that anything is way hard when you have a 15-month old running around the house. I had to really hunker down at night and work even when I was super tired.

The great thing was, I had a deadline - I had a coupon from the company I bought the digital scrapbook software (Creative Memories) but it expired June 30, so I was gunning to finish by then and use the coupon to print the book (made it, just barely!). Another great thing - I really had gotten a lot done over the past year, I had to only finish about half (and about half of the remaining pictures were edited - the Studly Hubby really stepped up for this). And the third great thing - I got really fast at it! After about 15 pages or so I finally got a nice quick rhythm and really mastered the software. Now I think I could whip out another book pretty easily - so hopefully I will! I plan to try to make one every year or so.

Here are two example pages so you can oooooh and aaaaaahhhh and make me feel all gooey inside:


Last night, I had a bad craving for chocolate cake. I asked, 'do we happen to have any chocolate cake lying around anywhere?' and my husband poked around a bit and replied with, 'nope! sorry.' I was disappointed but then had some tapioca pudding and forgot all about it. But then later that night, I had a dream that we actually HAD chocolate cake, and the Studly Hubby was keeping it from me... in the dream I found it and was super excited.

I told the Studly Hubby about the dream this morning and then came home from work today to find... he made a chocolate cake! What a dream (no pun intended)!!