bibs and bubble baths

I started noticing a pattern with the kinds of pictures I take with my phone. They are the very far from staged, quick! grab a camera moments part of every day with a baby. And a huge number of them include two of Annie's favorite pastimes. Eating, followed by bathing. 

And even if we do the bathing before the eating, we typically do another round of bathing after the eating for good measure. Because who wants to put their kid to bed looking like this:

If you're curious why she's usually naked during mealtimes, it's because beets stain. And so do bananas - something I've learned since becoming a mama. And surprisingly, so does watermelon. And spaghetti sauce. And basically everything else that we feed this kid. So, we try to minimize food to cotton contact.

Are you wondering if I've ever heard of a bib? Well, then I'd have to ask you if you've ever fed Annie. I'm not worried about the five inch by six inch patch of her T-shirt that a bib covers. I'd like for the WHOLE outfit to stay clean...lap included. And that is not something any bib I've ever known has been effective at doing. Plus, this girl likes to put her hands on her head and rub crumbs into her hair as she chews. It's therapeutic, I think? Try it. Okay, don't. That'd be weird. 

We admit, it's not always Annie's doing that destroys her face and clothes at dinnertime. But hey, putting a spoonful of stainable food in the mouth of a moving target as she repeatedly dodges you is no easy task. Like this chocolate pudding Annie stole from Great Grandma Betty while she was in the hospital at Thanksgiving. 

You'd think our aim would have improved since this picture when I placed food into her mouth for the very first time at six months:

Apparently mashed bananas is not how she wanted to be introduced to the culinary world.

Before long she become all about solid food inspiring this 'thirty dirty' weekly photograph (find all the weekly pictures here):

It's amazing that only six months ago she subsisted on milk alone, and just last month she dove head first into this strawberry birthday cake: 

side note: This delicious Strawberry Cake recipe is from my Uncle Mark Lacy found in the Mueller Family Cookbook! Buy a copy here! It's the only cookbook I own - it's the best. Proceeds go toward the Alzheimer's Association in honor of my grandmother Nadine. 

But back to the point. This girl thinks of eating as a full body experience and likes her toes to get a taste, too. So, baths are a necessity. Or worst case, a foot rinse in the sink. 

Thank goodness she loves the water.

And her daddy.

In fact, she loves her daddy so much that he slaps on a swimsuit and gets in with her from time to time. And because she loves him so much, sometimes, just sometimes, she likes to offer a gift to him as a token of her appreciation.

Those aren't pebbles behind her bum...

I love how proud she looks to boot. 

And messes happen on vacations, too. So, bath time gets a better view for weekends at the lake.

But my favorite part of bath time is pulling her out and bundling her up in a big white towel.

And there you have it, bib blowouts and bubble baths.


slowly making our way

My failure to complete projects that I start runneth over into many facets of my life. Let's take a look at what that means for our condo...

You're looking at a ceiling that I didn't want to have to repaint, so I tried my darndest not to smudge it while painting the trim. But I was painting the windows from black to white, oil to latex, which involved a lot of sanding and a lot of black dust and debris. I resigned myself and accepted that the ceiling would someday, as in the next day, need to be repainted. But the next day came and went and as long as I didn't look up, I was really happy with the way the room turned out! 

Two months later, however, I was informed by my husband who just landed a new job - WOOHOO!! - that if I wanted his help, it was now or never. He only had five days before the job started. 

So this was our Monday...

As much as I hate prep work, I'm insistent on removing all vent covers, switch plate covers, etc. There's nothing worse than going through the trouble to paint a wall, only to have glare at you forever the paint that scraped the edge of the light switch. So, one might wonder why the chandelier cover hasn't been removed from the ceiling prior to cutting in. The answer is real bad simple. It's that I real bad jimmy rigged that chandelier in the first place and am real bad afraid that it may come crashing down if I so much as touch it with more than a bristle of my paint brush. Ok, it's really not that insecure, but it's bad enough for me to not dare undo it until the day I want it down permanently. 

Raise your hand if looking through your photo albums there are twenty pictures of your kids and husband for every one of you because you do all the picture taking. So, when John caught a wild hair and picked up the camera to take a picture of me painting, I thought, 'Should have taken that shower this morning... Well, beggars can't be choosers.'

Then I realized his sudden interest in picture taking had little to do with me and everything to do with the fact that he was way sick of painting and wanted to abandon ship on me.

But he got back on the horse.

Before you see that framed picture in the background and think we've gone overboard with our love of Annie, just know that we didn't spend a fortune on it and that I got it printed for $2.50 at Office Max on their engineer print machine. Read more about where I got that idea here and here.

By the way, this was the paint that we chose to use on all our ceilings. It's Sherwin Williams Brilliance. A few months ago I was at Home Depot and decided to repaint our bathroom, so I bought a cheap gallon of America's Best Ceiling Paint. It's not the best, despite its name. Especially after using both brands back to back, I can say with much confidence that that extra ten bucks at Sherwin Williams would be well spent. Not to mention that SW Brilliance is a much more brilliant white - I know, who would have thunk it? And America's Best is a dull white at best...also, much thinner in consistency and requires two coats, no question. SW spread better and we only needed one coat. 

You're probably waiting for the 'AFTER' pictures and in that case I would recommend you reread the first paragraph of this post. I have a problem. I don't finish things. 

So, here's where we are now. Kitchen cabinets are painted - did that last month. Ceilings are painted. Annie's room is completely finished as far paint goes, although no art is hung. And the walls in the kitchen and the trim aren't looking lurvly. Nor is the trim in the living room. 

A lot of people have strong opinions about whether you paint the trim before the ceiling and walls, etc. If you have two planes you are painting and one of them is at all textured, definitely paint that first. For example, if you have a popcorn ceiling next to sheetrock, start with the ceiling. If you have crown molding, I think it's hard to get paint in all the grooves and waves without getting it on the ceiling, so I like to paint the ceiling last. However, I only had a ceiling painter for one day so I'll be going backwards with the trim. 

And if - God help you - you are painting brick (like we did in Annie's room), DEFINITELY wait to paint the baseboard, molding, and ceiling until AFTER! It's hard to get paint into all the nooks and crannies. You end up with a brush looking like this:

Brick is rough. In every sense of the word. Rough on your brush, rough on your pocketbook and rough on your life. It took a lot more paint than planned to get great coverage and it rolled from one afternoon into a three day project. So, make sure you're good and motivated before you start. It helped us to know that as long as this project lagged on, our baby girl had to sleep at her grandparent's house. The same grandparents who tried to poison her. Kidding, mom and dad. We don't blame you. By the way, we'll let you know when the hospital bill arrives...

 All that to say, I pushed through and painted her bedroom's ceiling, drywall, brick, trim, window and door with as much speed as possible. And areas in the rest of the house, like the one in the picture above, are still suffering from neglect. 

Plus, we spent some much needed R&R at Grandma Mary's last night and left our trim to sulk another day. 

A little peek-a-boo action at dinner:

And have I ever mentioned that Annie has a deep fascination with dogs? Dog was her first word, and when she can get a hold of them, Griffin's dog bowls are her favorite toy.

She crawls like a dog and even barks back at him on occasion... 

So, being that we were outside and only minutes away from bath time, we let her indulge in doggy time!

How could you say no that this face?

But today it's back to the grind.

Oh, and a shout out to the makers of blue tape. Your product made my day. Thanks again. So glad I spent the time 'protecting' my drywall, only to have it rip off as I peeled the tape!


smile, you're on camera

I've mentioned this before but I really can't say enough about how bad I am at finishing projects. I am the queen of starting. QUEEN, I tell you! I will gladly pull out all your canned goods to organize your pantry but sadly that last jar of spaghetti sauce will never make its way back in.

A few weeks ago my parents swapped babies with me and John. We gave them our little baby and they gave us their 330 pound baby. 

Fair trade? Jury is still out...

So while they were vacationing in Colorado and letting Annie spend time with Aunt Kristin and Uncle Jesse, I hung out with my brother Ryan and sat on their dining room floor sorting through 35 years of photographs. And let's be real, it will be another 35 years before anyone finishes. 

Given the number of pictures that were thrown into 7 or 8 tubs covered in dust, I feel like real progress was made. 10 photo albums were filled. 

I doubt if that's even half in the end. Boo. I truly did sit on my behind and organize pictures for hours on end. In case you have any desire to beat out some photo books yourself, here was my method. 

I "inventoried" the whole shebang. It took me a solid 8 hours. I put them into 8 piles. Pictures of my brother; my sister; me; us together as siblings (i.e. group shots from vacations and christmas cards); friends of the family; extended family (aunts, uncles, thanksgiving dinners...); Colorado/Florida vacations; and my parents

They were BIG piles. I would show you a picture but my iPhone definitely erased all my photos from the month when I cancelled a syncing with iTunes because I was in a hurry. Love you, Apple. You're the bomb. Dot com.

So anyway, I took masking tape and made labels over my parents' long wet bar to sort the kids' pictures. Birth; toddler; k-3ish; 4-8; high school; college; adult; very recent.

That took another good 3 hours per kid but I went one at a time. Breathe.

THEN, I took the birth pile and started laying them out on the big dining room table. I cheated using outfits and anytime I saw two pictures where Ryan had the same clothes on, I assumed they were from the same roll of film and stacked them.  

And the reunions began! Photographs from the same roll that hadn't been next to each other in 30 years found their way back together again! I threw out duplicates and near duplicates unless I was too sentimental (i.e. first day of life pictures - that's kind of a big deal). 

Then came the final ordering. I picked up the stack or single picture where the kid looked the youngest and started filing the proceeding pictures behind it as best as I could guess with chronology. I'd end up with a thick pile to start sliding into the album. Then, on to toddler years, etc.

(By the way, I zestfully threw away all those strips of negatives that my mom had hoarded for decades. She's lying if she tells you she was ever going to accomplish finding a particular picture from that tangle. It filled a whole trash bag and it was well with my soul.)

In the end, I managed to finish our wedding, a siblings album and  each of the three kids. To my MAJOR dismay, I thought I had finished my own books only to find a folder of pictures that my mom had presorted ten years ago when she intended to organize pictures. So I had to do a lot of shuffling and page adding. No fun.

But I took a break one morning to go to Oceans of Fun with these cool kids:

Poor Ryan. That beam of sunlight did him no favors in this picture. Be gentle, sun. No need to highlight his bowl full of jelly. I could have cropped it out, but would have lost my chin. What to do?

Though the mountain of photos left on the floor when they came back from vacation was far from encouraging, my picture sorting mission (though not finished) was progress.

Here are a few favs discovered along the way...

Yeah, that's right. Fist pumps were cool even then.

You are not a Mueller grandkid unless you've ridden that minibike. First sign of Annie walking and we're going for a ride!

But I'm saving the best for last.

Who would have thought that this camera loving kid:

Would be an even better model 25 years later?

Ladies, he's single and ready to mingle.

But, alas. There is one picture that trumps it all. Sorry, Kristin. It's just too good not to blast across the internet.

And with that, my friends, farewell.

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