Archive - Parenting RSS Feed

A Birthday, A Surgery

Calvin had his first birthday!

Calvin and His First Birthday Cake

First piece of cake, too. He’s a fan.

Calvin and Ginger, the Dog

Nicole and Calvin


We celebrated his birthday the night before because Brandon was scheduled to go into surgery the next day.

Calvin and Brandon

Brandon hasn’t been well for a while and he delayed his surgery until after my sister’s wedding so that he could take part, but then the next available date was Calvin’s birthday. It was an outpatient procedure and I was able to take him home after a brief recovery period in the hospital. He isn’t feeling much better yet (there’s still a lot of pain), but hopefully he’s on the mend. He is supposed to take it easy and rest so that he can heal, and he won’t be able to lift anything heavy for several weeks at least, which means no picking up the baby.

Calvin and Brandon

It’s frustrating for him, feeling so weak right now. Hoping for a speedy and full recovery.

Brandon and Calvin

Kids and Small Pets

A few people have emailed with questions because their kids are interested in getting guinea pigs or other small pets of their own. I can’t claim to be an extensive resource for all things cavy, but I can share our experience with how much our kids really help take care of them.

We’ve had a dog and a couple of cats since before Eleanor born, but she had been asking for a new pet for about a year. Both Brandon and I grew up with pets (he had a rat and his family had dogs, cats, and bunnies — my family had a dog and a cat too, and over the years I’d had a rabbit, a hedgehog, fish, mice, and a hamster), and we agreed that E seemed ready for one of her own. She checked out a different book about animals each week from the library throughout kindergarten, in part because she loves all kinds of animals and in part because she was doing her research. For her, it came down to hamsters and guinea pigs. Hamsters have fun cages with crazy tubes and lookout towers, but they’re more fun to watch than to hold. Guinea pigs are larger and more docile so they’re easier for kids to play with, but they take up a lot of room. E made her decision and went with her grandparents for her sixth birthday to choose a pet, cage, and everything to go along with it. Guinea pigs are happier in pairs (thanks, library book), and after a week or so, we found another female to join our house… except she was a he, and then they had babies.*

So now we have two giant pet cages — one in Eleanor’s room with the girls (Speedy and Butterscotch), and one in August’s room with the boys (Gingerbread, Noisy, and Cute-Cute until he left yesterday for a new home). August likes them well enough, but either because of age (four) or temperament, he’s not as into them as E is. She loves the guinea pigs.

Eleanor with Her Guinea Pigs

Cleaning the Cage(s)
I organized all of the small pet supplies along the floor of our linen closet — food pellets, hay, chew sticks and toys, and clean bedding. (The best bedding is paper-based — pine and wood shavings are messy, smelly, and best avoided.) Guinea pigs are little poop machines, but they do tend to go more near where their food is. We clean that section as needed with a small dust pan reserved for the job, and then we completely change out the bedding once a week.

Eleanor can do it. Kind of. It takes her a long time and she makes a bit of a mess, so I usually do it with her while she ‘helps’ by holding the garbage bag. I want her to be there, not because I need the assistance, but because her pets are supposed to be her responsibility and she should know that they aren’t magically being cared for with no effort on her part. As she gets older, she may be able to change the bedding by herself, but I assumed going into it that Brandon and I would be helping for a while so it’s not a shock that I’m doing it. I am unfortunately allergic to them, so I sneeze and sniffle through the process (about 15 minutes per cage).

Food and Water
Eleanor can and does make sure there is food and water for the guinea pigs at all times. They need fresh fruit and veggies, and E likes figuring out what they’ll eat each day. We often give them any leftovers (carrots, apples, etc.) that the kids didn’t finish from their meals, but sometimes E has me make a teeny tiny fruit salad to serve. Adorable. The only part she has trouble with is the hay because it can get messy, so Brandon and I usually do that part.

The girl loves her pets. Eleanor couldn’t pick the guinea pigs up at first because they’re quick and nervous by nature, but she’s good at it now and no longer needs help catching them. She has done a good job of taming them, and even thinks they do tricks and communicate with her in a secret animal language! Calvin likes to watch them run around their cages, and August will pet them when they’re already out and being played with, but he doesn’t take the initiative like E does. She wakes up and pets them. She has gotten out of bed at night and slept on the floor to be next to them. We wondered (as a lot of parents do) if interest would wane but Eleanor is just as into them now as she was in the beginning, and I think the responsibility of caring for them has been good for her.

Butterscotch the Guinea Pig in a Dollhouse

Cute-Cute Goes to School

Yep, we’re less one guinea pig around here; Cute-Cute is now a school pet! He won’t be in August’s classroom, but just down the hall with another teacher. Eleanor was in school when Brandon and August took the little guy over, so I had them take a bunch of pictures to show her. They used the pet carrier toy from Eleanor’s vet set, and she thought that was pretty funny. She was also excited to see that there is a cage all set up in the classroom just like the one he was living in here, and that he’s going to have lots of new friends visiting him each day.

Cute-Cute, the Guinea Pig, Goes to School

* According to Eleanor: if our guinea pigs have any more babies (please no — but apparently they mate immediately after birth, which we didn’t know and I’m watching Speedy get fat…), the boys will be named George and Jr. and the girls will be Lily and Twilight.


Last summer, I was thinking about adding a porch swing out front. I searched out my favorites and was getting ready to make a purchase, but added expenses with our second floor remodel put decorating on hold. It got pushed back a year, but we’ve got a swing chair now, and it is wonderful.

There was a new model out this year that I preferred the look of, but the one I chose was more comfortable. The seat is deeper, and there are cup holders and pockets along the sides for magazines.

Swing Chair on a Victorian Front Porch | Making it Lovely

When I was pregnant, I would imagine how nice it would be to swing gently on the porch, baby in my arms. The reality surpasses the expectation.

Calvin sticks his tongue out!

Nicole and Calvin Balch on their front porch| Making it Lovely

We could have found a stud in the porch ceiling, but with the added height, the swing would have had room to bang into the house or the railing. The kids and their friends spend a lot of time playing on our front porch, and that seemed like an inevitable cause of injury, damage to the house, or both! I bought the matching stand so that the pivot point would be lowered, and the swing didn’t have as far to move. It gives us added flexibility too, so if we want to rearrange the porch or move the swing somewhere else (like the backyard), we could.

Nicole and Calvin Balch on their front porch| Making it Lovely

Nicole and Calvin Balch

Page 1 of 6912345»...Last »