Saturday, February 27, 2010

3 Projects - February 21, 2010

What d'ya know? A few days after writing my previous post, 3 Projects - February 15, 2010, I landed a new client. This completed all 3 of the projects and I immediately came up with 3 new ones:

1. Prepare the front yard for veggie garden
2. Decorate the living room
3. Organize M's arts and crafts collection from last year

We had a small veggie garden in our front yard last year. It was so much fun for all, especially for M that this year we are expanding. In addition to the 3 raised beds, we will now have veggies and flowers all around the perimeter of the yard. We also hope to plant a couple of dwarf blueberries, some strawberries, and a goji berry.

Of course, there's a ton of work to do. So far we've done the planting diagrams for all the beds (subject to minor changes), bought all the seeds and ordered tomato and pepper plantings through Seed Savers Exchange and built some paths using woodchips from our woodchip mountain.
The plan for this weekend was to build all the planting beds (using sheet mulch), but the weather was nasty on Wednesday and Thursday and very cold on Friday; so we couldn't go pick up all the supplies for the mulch. This will have to wait until next weekend. That's ok; it's still too cold to plant even the hardy lettuces and radishes.

In the mean time, I am busy working on a DIY flea-market style project. Actually, it's a sub-project of #2 on the list - decorating the living room. Last weekend, what with all the nice weather and all, we went for a stroll at a flea market. And I happened to find this awesome bargain - a antique (?) printer drawer for an unbelievable $8! I've been wanting one (or three) for over a year, but could never justify spending $20-40 that they usually cost.

The awesome thing was that there was very little structural damage - only 1 small crack on the back, not a big deal at all. Of course, it required lots of cleaning. Actually, I didn't even realize just how much cleaning it'd need until I got started. But cleaning wasn't hard and even, to an extent, relaxing. Plus the results were amazing. So now I'm going to finally have a place for my tiny collection of sea shells (and with room for expantion).

Oh, and M's artwork project is DONE! I collected all his artwork from last year, cut it down to size, wrote dates on the back and filed in a storage box. It only took about an hour, but then again, we didn't have much stuff to begin with. Hopefully this year we'll do more arts and crafts projects.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

3 Projects - February 15, 2010

I'm reading Leo Babauta's Power of Less book and it's great. So now I'm taking some actions. Don't want to make it a very long post (since I already wrote 2 long ones today and don't want to bore you to death with the details).

So, last week, on February 15, I wrote down 3 projects. The rule is you write down 3 projects, at least one of which has to support your BIG goal (more on that some other time) and concentrate on these goals until ALL of them are completed.

Here was my list:
  1. Get the tree cut down

  2. Find 1 additional client for my biz to stay on track for March

  3. Build new compost bins

Each of this projects involves many steps. For example, before the tree could be cut down, we had to get the estimates, select the winning bid, raise the money ($850 in 2 days courtesy of my parents, our neighbor whose house the tree was about to crash, our renter who paid on time, and the Sell section on Craigslist), and schedule the removal itself.

Finding 1 additional client for my business is still a work in progress. But hold on, while we're on this, let me brag about my new client - Transparent Languages - and the blog I now write for - The Russian Blog.

And today we spent half a day building 2 new compost bins using some of our huge stash of woodchips. I think the bins turned out really well!

Cutting Down Trees is So Much Fun

I'm all about conservation and all, but when a huge half-dead tree in the farthest corner of your backyard threatens to topple over come next hurricane season (or even just some strong wind) and destroy your fence and your neighbor's shed (and maybe even part of the house), you gotta cut it down.

That's what we were so busy with. Ok, we didn't exactly cut the tree down ourselves. Instead we hired a tree-cutting service (good rate, great work, ask us for references if interested). And so last Tuesday I had to stay home with M most of the day. I thought it was going to be very boring. I am glad to admit, I was wrong with a capital W. In fact, if we only had some more cash on hand, I would gladly pay to get the tree cutting guys back to cut a couple more trees just so M and I can watch.

When the guys showed up, M pulled a chair next to the big door overlooking the deck and the backyard; sat himself there and requested milk and carrots. He then sat in the said chair for about 30 minutes (wow!) just snacking and watching the workmen.

And that was before we went upstairs for a birds-eye view of the industrial-strength wood-chipper in action. Talking about fun!

So after the tree was cut and the guys left, M wanted to go to the backyard and see the logs. And he took his little saw with him. For the next two days he insisted on calling himself the lumberjack. Pretty cute, right?

Oh, then, turns out that now we can climb on the stump and watch the neighbor's free-range chickens (2 black ones and 3 speckled ones). And our cat, Xander, liked this idea as well. But don't worry about the safety of the chickens as they are being guarded by 2 dogs at all times (plus they are bigger than our cat and look like they can defend themselves).

And after such an eventful day, our little lumberjack fell sound asleep.

P.S. Did I mention that we kept all the woodchips for the (future) garden and some other projects? Yep, the whole entire dump-truck full of chips.

P.P.S. M also collected some twigs and we added them to our Ride of Terror (a simple ramp for his toy cars made out of a chair, a toy drum, a mailer tube and a left-over peg board). We then added some Scary Plastic Critters to make it even more fun (a spider, two huge grasshoppers, a chameleon and an oversized ladybug).

The Case of a Missing Twin Brother

We finally found a little boy who seems to be M's missing twin brother. Ok, we found him over 2 years ago, when M was only 9 months old (and the little boy was 11 months old). But then it wasn't very apparent how much alike these two were.

Then last year little L went to Japan with his family. And now he's back and we had a big playdate. It went great! Better than great, actually. These two - M and L -clicked right away. At some point they were actually finishing each other's sentences, as when they were having a snack of pineapple and some black bean chocolate brownies and M said "chocolate", then L said "brownie" and both of them said "oh, yummy!" (and then they laughed silly).

The two of them painted a beautiful art project; played with the shaving foam "snow", then helped me clean up the kitchen;

drew with chalk on our new blackboard wall;

played lumberjacks in the backyard;

pretend-fished off the deck (M's idea);
Built a railroad (with my help) and a big Lego tower. Then broke it. Then built a big Lego tree (L's idea);

Shoveled sand on the playground;

Rode in a toy fire-truck and in a real car (ours) ; then took turns riding in our little plastic wagon around the front yard.

Smashing success and we'll be doing another playdate again (but maybe a slightly shorter one since I was totally exhausted at the end of this marathon).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Officially 3T

A bit belated... The whole birthday thing turned out very different from the original plan. For starters, M was going through some kind of funk the week before his birthday - lots of crying, "no-no-no"s, "I won't do it"s and such. He kept saying that he didn't want a birthday and whatever comes with it - balloons, guests, gifts, even a cake!

Then there was the issue of choosing a theme. For the last month or two I thought it'd be a Word World-themed party. After all, M's been crazy about Word World and, in particular, Chef Pig for the whole last year. Well, a week or so before his birthday, as if on cue, he stopped talking about WW, didn't want to play Chef Pig games and didn't even care to watch WW cartoons! (He did the same thing last year with the whole Thomas the Train obsession - dropped it a few days before his birthday party AFTER we bought a very expensive train cake form at William-Sonoma.)

Finally, it snowed here the weekend before his birthday. Why is it relevant? Because a few of his little friends' birthday parties got cancelled due to snow and rescheduled for the following weekend. And the other couple of kids played in snow way too much and came down with cold.

And so, there we were... So we decided to have a small birthday dinner the day of M's birthday (which fell on a Tuesday this year). We didn't send official invites, but instead called and told people to "stop by between 5pm and 7pm for some cake". And M's grandparents drove into town on Monday evening.

The day of M's birthday it rained very hard all day. And that, combined with the fact that a couple of friends were still sick, meant that noone "stopped by between 5pm and 7pm". Which was just fine.

The night before M's birthday Chris went to the store and bought a ton of balloons and put them into M's room while the little one was asleep. Imagine a 3-year old waking up and seeing a big bunch of balloons next to his bed! Can't go wrong on this one.

The day was spent playing with grandparents. And then, in the evening, M got to open a few gifts and eat a yummy cake which he helped to make and decorate. And he absolutely loved the whole thing!

(I actually really liked the low-key, low-stress and low-budget birthday production. Consider this - all the truly important elements were there: family, gifts, cake, candles, birthday song, balloons yet nobody got exhausted, fought over toys or threw fits and there was practically no cleanup afterwards. )

Sunday, February 7, 2010

12 Heroes of Russia

I've got a new client for whom I'll be writing some blog posts about Russia and all things Russian. That's pretty sweet. What's even cooler is that now I get to do things like this (see below) and count them as time well spent:

Вы ответили правильно на 15 вопросов из 15

За это Вы награждаетесь медалью "Корифей биографии Сталина".
Поздравляем! Вы оправдали, оказанное Вам высокое доверие. Увы, краткий курс ВКП(б), больше не преподают в высшей школе, но вы могли бы быть его преподавателем.

Want to try getting yourself a few medals? Here's the link to Russia's 12 Heroes.