Monday, October 27, 2014

Lock Out

I was thinking this morning of a funny story I never shared here. It happened just about a year ago, in one of the first few weeks after Elliott was born. I was on my own – Keith was back to work, my mom had gone home, it was just the boys and I. The stars were aligning and Elliott was fed and sleepy as Colter's nap time approached. I left Colter downstairs to finish his afternoon cartoon as I took Elliott up, changed him and swaddled him, and laid him down to nap.

I retrieved Colter from downstairs when his cartoon ended and took him up to use the potty. In the upheaval of Elliott's arrival, Colter decided the potty was going to be our biggest battleground. After a bit of whining and pleading (probably on both our parts), I decided to just close the door and let him take care of his business. When the door is latched, the knob is stiff enough that he couldn't turn it at the time. I went downstairs to wait him out for a bit.

Less than ten minutes later, I returned to see how he was making out. I turned the knob and pushed, only to find I couldn't open the door. I tried again and again but obviously that didn't change anything. The door was locked.

You see, in our 90-plus-year-old house, the doors each have a skeleton key for locking them. Most of the keys hang on a nail in each doorframe, but we had always left the bathroom one in the lock for convenience. Colter, in his grumping about, had managed to turn the key and lock me out of the bathroom. And lock himself in.

As I took a few deep breaths and peered under the door at Colter's toes, I was not yet panicking. If he could lock it, certainly he could unlock it. Right? I convinced him to give it a try, but those little two-year-old fingers just couldn't manage to get that tight lock unlocked. He got a little upset at first, but soon found plenty to explore in the cabinet under the sink.

Meanwhile, I was thinking up all manner of things to open the door.

If I put a key in from the other side, could I manage to open it? Nope, the key on the inside was in the way. No surprise there.

Was there a way to get in the window? Well, even if I got the ladder all the way up there, the window was locked and the storm window was down. That's out.

How about the hinges? Nope. They were on the inside of the door.

Ok, I'll take the knob and plate off and see what I can do. I went down to the work bench in the basement to gather tools: screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, picks, whatever I thought might be helpful.

In the midst of all this, I was still asking Colter to keep trying to unlock the door. I also slid a spoon under, instructing him to put the handle of it through the loop of the key, hoping he could gain a little leverage to turn it. I promised a cookie if he opened the door. He did what I asked, but still couldn't get it unlocked.

Oh, and at one point I heard him chewing and frantically asked, "What are you eating?!? Take it out of your mouth!" Visions of calling 911 and firemen chopping down the solid wood door crossed my mind. Finally, he slid the cap of a little sample tube of lotion for Elliott under the door. You know, the perfect size for choking on.

Seeing no quick fix to the problem after I had the plate off, I texted Keith to call me. I also called my dad, hoping that in the realm of his experiences was something that would help me and Colter out of this jam. He laughed, but had no save-the-day ideas.

About now Colter decided to sit down and poop. On the potty, thank goodness.

Keith called me and I let him know what was going on. I told him I'd work on it for awhile, not to come home just yet, but he decided to head straight home. Oh, and this little escapade pulled him out of a meeting just weeks after he started his new position at work. After awhile of fiddling with some little picks and tiny screwdrivers, I hadn't even budged the lock.

Finally, an hour or so into this ordeal, Keith arrived home. Seeing no other options, he drilled several holes around the lock mechanism so that we could put skinny screwdrivers in and push the key around, unlocking the door. Approximately an hour and half after being shut in the bathroom, Colter was freed. He promptly requested the cookie he had been promised.

Amazingly enough, he still went down for a nap. But by then, Elliott was up, though thankfully he had slept through the whole thing and I wasn't dealing with a crying baby in the midst of all of it.

If you are visiting and want to lock the bathroom door, the key now resides on top of the medicine cabinet. Please don't make us come in after you.

Monday, October 20, 2014


My mind keeps churning the thought, "I need to do another blog post. But what?" So today, you get a bit of this and that, because that's what life is at the moment. A little progress on a lot of things, a lot of repetition, and some new routines in the mix.

We (and I use the we generously because the bulk of this falls to Keith) have been laying flagstone on our patio. It is not the quick project we thought it would be, but we are really pleased with how it is turning out. It has eaten up nearly all of Keith's weekend time since the Labor Day weekend, and there are at least two more weekends of work to go. Literal tons of stone, sand, lime, and cement have been handled for this project. More details to follow when it is all finished!

There are projects that I can't show you yet, Halloween costumes and Christmas gifts that are keeping my hands busy. And Elliott's Christmas stocking, which I am madly stitching away at in hopes of having it ready for the holidays this year.

And of course there are these two, who keep a person quite busy.

There are things on repeat, like bread baking and yogurt making, that fill the days when I think there is nothing really going on.

There are brand-new things, like my sweet little niece who arrived earlier this month. Perhaps I am a bit biased, but I am certain she is the dearest thing I have ever seen. Have you ever seen such perfect little lips?

Colter was quite excited to meet her, as we all were.

The garden is finished with the exception of some brussels sprouts. We are enjoying the bold and beautiful blooms of some dahlias from bulbs a co-worker of Keith's gave us.

Colter has a playgroup one morning each week. The four families take turns hosting, and then every fifth week, we take a little outing. The first was to a pumpkin patch, where we enjoyed a hayride, a short movie about how pumpkins grow, and lots of play time in corn bin "sandboxes" and climbing on combines. Silly me, I didn't take any pictures but the other moms had me covered.

I feel like we are barreling through fall at warp speed, and I am not ready to say goodbye to mild weather and time spent outside. Certainly Colter isn't and Keith feels like he is racing the calendar to wrap up the patio project. I hope fall has been lovely so far for all of you!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Big One for the Little One

I already waxed on about Elliott last week ahead of his actual birthday, and I am a little delayed in getting some birthday photos up.

We had dinner and cake with Keith's parents to celebrate, and Elliott was so serious about the whole thing.

He was mesmerized by his pop-pop's deep voice when we all sang "Happy Birthday."

Elliott was completely perplexed by a big chunk of cake...

...and wouldn't eat it until it was cut in bite-sized pieces. Then he devoured it.

Then came a few presents to open.

He mostly just wanted to walk around with them still wrapped.

 Good thing he has a big brother to help.

Now he's got the idea!

It was a nice evening and it always wonderful when birthdays can be shared with family!

As for the cake, it had to be egg and milk-free, and actually turned out quite well. (You can find the recipe here.) Since icing made out of shortening didn't sound very appealing, I just decorated it with some powdered sugar. I made some train shapes by tracing cookie cutters and cutting them out of paper, but I think I was the only one who knew what was going on. And we reused Colter's "1" candle to top it off.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Welcome to Wonky

Bear with me. The blog needs some changes but they might take a little while and things will look wonky in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Year!

Amidst the fog of having a newborn and toddler at home, I remember thinking, "What a difference a year will make!" And what a difference it is. Elliott is walking, babbling, eating all manner of real food, driving his brother crazy by taking toys and knocking things over, and generally making our cups runneth over with his very presence. He is often serious and quiet, but has the funniest little chuckle when amused. He gets excited to see furry creatures: dogs, cows, kittens. He will follow his brother anywhere and protests loudly at being trapped behind baby gates. He likes his nap schedule but is easy-going enough that he isn't a total crank if we are out and about at nap time, though at home even Colter has been known to say, "I think Elliott's ready for a nap." He's a good sleeper and a good eater, though his milk and egg allergies keep us on our toes (fingers crossed for outgrowing them).

It feels like this has been the busiest year of our lives, but it's the year our family became the family we dreamed of, and so it has been the best year. 

Happy birthday, Baby E. We all love you so.

Apparently, it has been a busy year for Elliott as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yo! It's Yogurt!

Sometime in the last couple of years, post-Colter but pre-Elliott, a yogurt maker was passed along to me via my Mom-mom. Making yogurt sounded right up my alley, and I thought I would put it to use. And then it sat, and sat, and sat. I even considered taking it to the electronics recycling because I wasn't using it, but then forgot to send it along with Keith when he took a bunch of stuff over on the scheduled day. 

Then, a month or so ago, my mom told me she found a yogurt maker at a flea market and she was so excited about it. After she told me how simple it was, I got mine out and cleaned it up. By this point, I had lost the hand-written cards that came with it telling me how to use it. If I needed any proof that you can find anything on the internet, it came in the form of being able to find manuals to early 1970s yogurt makers. I was in business.

Really, the process is so simple. Take a quart of milk. Bring it to a boil. Let it cool down a bit. My yogurt maker came with a handy spoon thermometer that actually shows you when it is cool enough, then you stir in starter you can buy at a health food store or a tablespoon of fresh yogurt with live active cultures (ideally, a tablespoon from your previous batch).

Once the starter is mixed in, you pour it into the five glass cups and put the lids on, place them in the yogurt maker, and plug it in. 

The top of the yogurt maker has a little "time out" dial so that you can show what time to take the yogurt out, about 10 hours. It isn't actually a timer, just a marker so you can keep track of what time it  will be done.

My first batch was an experiment. Since Elliott can't have milk, we sometimes buy coconut milk yogurt. At over $4 for 16 ounces, it's a little pricey for me. Coconut milk is more reasonable though, so I thought I would use some of the coconut yogurt we had for the starter, and try a batch using coconut milk. I was really excited about the possibility of making our own, because of both the price and that our local grocery store doesn't carry coconut milk yogurt so it is a special trip to get it. Well, lo and behold, it didn't work. It never thickened up. Maybe the coconut milk yogurt I was using as a starter wasn't fresh enough, maybe there is a totally different process to making yogurt out of a non-dairy milk. Anyway, it was a bust.

But fear not, I carried on. Armed with some packs of yogurt starter, I started a batch using 2% milk we buy at the donut shop in town. It came out perfectly. Nice and thick and smooth, just as it should be. The next batch, I kept just a little yogurt from the first round and used that as my starter and it turned out just as well. I know it is hard to tell, but that's the finished yogurt below.

So, now we are making yogurt using local milk, and it comes out cheaper than buying it if we don't have to use a pack of starter each time. Plus, there is no extra sugar or anything in it to start. And we aren't using yogurt out of plastic tubs all the time so that waste is eliminated as well.

Boy, am I glad I didn't pitch the yogurt maker!

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