Friday, November 21, 2008


Check it out!
Free Dr. Pepper! Oh, and Guns'n'Roses has a new album...;_ylt=Av4yDfHmkbIaz_2wFaKvctW_.nQA

The List-- from my sister's blog...

My sister put this in her blog and then challenged me to do it too(well, she emailed it to me). So here it is.

Bold the things you’ve done and will admit to:

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band yep, even recorded a cd. And played a show in Cincinnati!
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child (do dogs, cats, or bunny children count?)
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train It's not as cool as it sounds. Believe me.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill It's called a "sick prevention day"
24. Built a snow fort like once, when it even snowed enough...
25. Held a lamb If you think baby goats are cute (and you're right), just wait until you hold a baby lamb. They are probably one of the world's sweetest babies. Second to my own, of course.
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (why would I do that?)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice Okay, I didn't actually ride in a gondola (too expensive) so I settled for riding the public transportation boat. Much cheaper and still pretty cool. Venice, even loaded as it is with tourists, is quite amazing.
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run I kicked a home run in kickball a few years ago...
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language With help from Senora Lucy, por supuesto.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person I saw the mini version at Mini-Europe (in Brussels), though!
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke only like every thursday for about 2 years...
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant Well, I worked at the restaurant, and it wasn't a meal, it was pizza, but still...
44. Visited Africa (Hopefully someday)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted do sketches count? If done by a "real" artist? (Lauren, I'm looking in your general direction...)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person Okay, I haven't, but Adam is over my shoulder saying he has, and since we share everything, I guess I can share that experience, too, right?
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris Okay, again, I was too poor to pay and not patient enough to wait in the long line anyway, but I have stood at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower in Paris...
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business Okay, this one is Adam's again...
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching Not the kind on rafts, but I have seen and watched whales before.
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check Oh yeah.
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy I even saved the corpse of a childhood toy. After my dog tore its stuffing out. So sad. I'm still not over it.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar (no, thank you)
72. Pieced a quilt in my mind!
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle well, I don't know how fast we were going but it felt 2 fast, 2 furious... I was about 7 and my uncle was driving, just on trails in the woods, but still...
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book Well, there's only one copy of it, but my senior thesis was/is a book of my poems, and can be read by anyone who cares to at the Wilson Library on UNC's campus
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House Well, not as an invited guest, we just stopped by to look.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life mostly animal someones. but they count.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone although I did hold out until like 2003...
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Baked fresh bread

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Friends

Here are a couple of pictures of Buck and his buddy Hank.
The two youngest on our trip to the mountains in October!

And here's Buck and Dick Dudley, sharing life from opposite ends! Dick is a month or two short of 89 years, Buck is a month or two short of 8 months!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

mountain trip

We had a great time on our trip to Virginia! Keely and Curt put up with all of us-- and all our dogs-- for a long, fun, work and play weekend.

Aunt Jeanne, don't know if you read this, but DISREGARD THE NEXT PARAGRAPH AND DON'T LOOK AT THE PICTURES!!!!

Uncle Ben treated all the kids to Squirrel Hunting 101. Then we roasted the squirrel over the open fire and everybody got a bite. You can see that the kids were pretty impressed with his skills. They all huddled around the "work table" and watched the skinning and cleaning process. My littlest nephew was overheard remarking that if Uncle Ben got more squirrels, they could paint the table red with the blood...good observation, buddy!

We cleaned out the old barn, including our old bikes. I remembered them as being much, much bigger. I couldn't bear to let the "Machine Gun" go, so it went back in the barn. Maybe we can fix it up for Buck (I guess I should just clarify-- the Machine Gun is the red roadster-type bike, so-called because it used to rattle and shake when you rode it).

After hours of hauling out dirty what-nots and dusty odd-bits, we were all pretty grimy and greasy. So we all loaded up and took a dip in the beautiful Cowpasture River (not being sarcastic, it's the cleanest river in Virginia!!). It was cold but we all (even my niece and I) got in and went all the way under! There was some hair (and beard) washing as well. It ended with a free-for-all hornet's nest rock-throw. Kinda like a Turkey Shoot, but it doesn't matter who hits the nest, everybody gets a prize (which is being chased and stung by hornets!). Okay, actually, no one hit the nest but I think Ben was closest and no one got stung, not that we hung around too much longer...

I'll be posting some more "moments" and pictures later-- I finally got my pictures backed up on the external harddrive to make more room for the new ones (it's only been a month...) We really had a great time, though. The weather was beautiful. So were the mountains. And the old farm is looking younger everyday!

Also, even though I haven't been blogging, life here in the Big Woods has been trotting merrily along, so I have plenty of things to share with everyone... if only I can find the time to type them up!!!

Fun Things To Do With Baby

This is about the funnest thing Buck knows. Now, everyone, just calm down. In many peaceful, loving cultures, part of growing up is being tossed up in the air and caught. Caught. Not dropped, caught. Babies find the sensation irresistible. Buck is no exception.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Tough week

Well, it's been a crazy few weeks and now things are calming down a bit. Adam has been really busy with his business, which is both good and bad. Things are settling down now, and he's back to a more or less "regular" schedule.
In the past two weeks, several things have happened, all of them sort of connected. Our roof, as of September 14th (happy birthday, Meg!):

It obviously needed some work. It has actually been in bad shape getting worse since we moved in two Octobers ago. Then, in July, our landlord's son, Shannon, came and took off the shingles on the porch roof so he could replace some rotting beams (that were a result of the leaking roof). He didn't put any shingles back on, because the roofers were supposed to come that next week to replace the whole roof-- tear off all the shingles, re-do the flashing and put on a new metal roof.
The roofers never showed.
This coincided with Mr. Bob's (Bob Blackwood, our landlord) failing health. His emphesema started bothering him more, and he was just not feeling well. On top of that, he was furious about what he called, "the biggest half-ass job I have ever been a part of," and was calling all kinds of contractors trying to get somebody out here to put the new roof on.
Well. He finally found someone to do the job. They started on Monday, September 22nd. I kept waiting for Bob to show up to check that they were doing the work right- he is always supervising anything that happens around here. I knew when he never came down that he must be feeling very poorly.
Late in the afternoon, right around five, while the roofers were cleaning up the debris from shucking off the old shingles, they left the gate open and Red, Honey and Murdock all ran out and across the road. I didn't even realize what had happened until I saw Murdock sitting at the front door, waiting to be let in. Red and Honey weren't so quick to return. I strapped Buck in the Ergo carrier and set off looking for them without any luck. Around 7 pm, when Adam got home, he took the car and drove down the road and found Honey. We figured Red would be home shortly.
The next morning, he still hadn't come back.

Later that same morning, Shannon came down to the house to give me some more bad news: Mr. Bob had passed away the evening before at the hospital, with his wife Ann and Shannon there with him. I wish we'd gotten a picture of Bob, tending his bees, or driving around in his truck (fueled with biodiesel), or shooting squirrels off his bird feeders, or holding Buck. He loved Buck. He always said how much he wanted grandchildren, and was tickled when Adam declared Buck his "grand-neighbor." Just a couple days before he died, Adam took Buck up to see him, wearing his red and black-checked jacket and "Elmer Fudd" hat. Bob got a big kick out of that. We will really miss him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Chicks!!!

Well, the friendly folks down at Pittsboro Feed and Garden decided to order baby chicks for the fall, and, well...

We've got 10 baby Ameraucanas. These are very pretty chickens when they their feathers come in, and of course chicks are always cute. These are the chickens that lay light blue or green eggs, so sometimes they're called "Easter Egg Chickens," but the breed name is Ameraucana. They're related to the South American breed, Araucana, and look similiar. Araucanas also lay colored eggs and have bright, jungle-fowl-ish plumage. They have ear tufts and are rumpless, that is, they don't have tails. Ameraucanas are a breed that came from crossing American breeds with Aracaunas, which are rare in North America. The result is that Ameraucanas have tails, and no ear tufts. Some do have ear muffs and beards, which are feathers around the sides of the eyes and on their upper throats.

These are so freshly hatched, most of them still have their egg teeth, that little bump on the end of the beak that they use to break out of their shells. Left over from the dinosaur days. The egg tooth falls off a day or two after hatching, so obviously these babies are fresh!

In case you are wondering, yes, the USPS does ship live baby chicks through the regular mail. We ordered some last year and, boy, were the people at the Post Office excited about that package!

Buck really likes watching all the chicks cheeping and scratching around in the brooder. This one looks like it might have ear muffs.

We've had a lot of heavy rain this week and last, with the result being that mushrooms are popping up everywhere. Last year the drought was so bad I don't think I saw a mushroom all year. When a bunch popped up after a rain it was like I was seeing them for the first time-- I'd forgotten that they just spring up overnight! These are some of a large crop growing in the dog pen by the doghouses.

And here's some pretty blooms on Buck's swamp sunflower. I bought this one at the NC Botanical Gardens about a week before he was born. It was just three or four inches tall. You can see it's thriving just like Buck! We planted it in a spot where it can spread. Now that we have this one, I've been noticing them everywhere along the roads.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too many pictures?

Well, I filled up the computer's hard drive. It took about a year and a half, but I finally did it. So I spent this morning selectively deleting pictures. Not to worry, they are all backed up on the external hard drive, so those fifteen fuzzy, out-of-focus pictures of Ladybird sitting on the computer desk are still there. So relax. Even with having deleted probably 50-100 pictures, it won't take me long to fill it back up.

"Mom, quit taking pictures and PLAY WITH ME!!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Buck's First Swing

Buck and I took a trip to Manteo last week, coinciding with Keely and her kids being down there, too. We had a great time. One afternoon, Keely and I took all the kids over to the ol' swimming hole by the old ferry dock, beside the aquarium. I didn't get any pictures of Buck "swimming" in the sound, but did these great ones of him swinging for the first time. He loved it!! The older kids had fun on the swings, too, and I think they enjoyed the swimming hole being a little calmer and easier to manage than the ocean.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fun Things To Do With Baby

This is about the funnest thing Buck knows. Now, everyone, just calm down. In many peaceful, loving cultures, part of growing up is being tossed up in the air and caught. Caught. Not dropped, caught. Babies find the sensation irresistible. Buck is no exception.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Chicken Feet, Part II

So Phoenix's feet are looking better. Our internet service was out the last week and a half or so, so this update is actually from the first week.
Can't really tell, but his feet look a little better to me. He also seems to not be quite as freaked out by being cornered and grabbed out of the flock. He's a wily little guy, don't get me wrong. He's still doing his best not to be caught. He just doesn't seem as panicked about it.
I actually think he might even enjoy it a bit. It's like a chicken spa. I've put in some pictures to show the process, and also to compare with the first pictures. His feet are still red most of the way up, but the areas closer to his hock (the leg joint, roughly correlating to our ankle) look less irritated. His toes still look pretty bad, but they don't look as "angry" to me. We'll just have to wait and see if they start healing. The pictures aren't the best. It's hard to tell what's going on when you're holding a chicken in one hand and trying to photograph it's feet with the other.
I'm keeping an eye on the hens' legs and feet, and they all look fine. Not sure why Phoenix is more susceptible to whatever this is-- skin infection? Whatever it is, I hope it is actually getting better.

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

The other morning I woke up to a strange 'chirrup'-ing sound. I hopped up quickly, thinking the cats had dragged a bird in the house and were holding it hostage. I'm pretty familiar with this sound, as, at least once a season, the cats kidnap birds. They rarely get to actual killing, because I will usually intercept them before then.
Well, I walked out into the hall and all the cats were sitting there, looking very innocent. They all meowed and started darting over to the food bowl-- their normal morning ritual.
No bird.
So I figured I must have misheard and it was just one of the finches throwing its voice or something.
You may have already figured out there was indeed a bird in the house. Murdock the dog actually pointed it out to me. A very pretty little Carolina Wren, one of my favorites. She was in the bathroom, cleverly hiding in between the bathroom sink and the wall, where the cats couldn't reach her. I, however, have longer limbs than the cats and make quick work of scooping her up. She seemed fine, if startled, so while the cats were busy breakfasting, I took her out to the porch and opened my hand. She spread her wings and undulated to the neighbor's porch, where she sat, apparently collecting herself.
Well, the next day, I was folding laundry in the living room when I heard a familiar little 'chirrup.' I looked outside and saw the cats huddled under the bird feeders looking very intent. I investigated and found that once again, they had a little Carolina Wren, this time she was just sitting on the ground, looking around at all the cats, as if hypnotized by them. I can't be sure it was the same bird, but I think it was. She didn't seem as startled when I picked her up this time, and struggled hardly at all. Got some nice pictures of her. She was content to just perch on my hand.
I decided that since she was acting awful dazed, and this was possible the second time in as many days that she'd been nabbed by the cats, that if she were going to live, she was going to need some help. So I looked to the wonderful, non-profit, free to the public services of Piedmont Wildlife Center ( They will take in injured wildlife and rehabilitate them when possible, at no cost to the rescuer. They have had some pretty cool cases brought in from all over the state. Check out their website.
They were closed for the day but I found helpful instructions on their site (put the bird in a small cardboard box, no food or water, keep in a quiet, dark place away from other animals) and Adam ended up taking her in for me the next morning. I will check her status this week and let you know.
This makes the second bird in two weeks that cats have attempted to kidnap. The other was a young female cardinal that I caught under the porch with El Sucio. She wasn't as sweet as the wren and tried to take a chunk out of my pinky. Those seed-cracking beaks are strong!!
I'm guessing that this sudden outburst of bird hostages has to do with young birds starting out on their own for the first time. Hopefully this will be the last of the bird captives for awhile...although, with this crew:
...who knows.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chicken Feet

Well, it's always something here in our menagerie, and this time it's Phoenix. He is our little bantam Cochin rooster. That's him on the left, the little one with the creamy-colored neck and black body. The feathers on his legs make him a Cochin. They also make him look like he's wearing pants. I love him. He's a great little rooster. Always very polite to his ladies, offering them any choice morsel he finds. For those of you who have never seen a rooster taking care of his hens, what happens is this: When you toss some delicious treats into the pen (tomato ends, old green beans, apple cores, etc.) all the chickens start running around pecking and picking. The rooster, if he's a good one, will find a morsel and make a certain cluck. Kind of a quork. This means, "I've found a tasty treat, if anyone wants it," and a hen or two will respond by checking out what he has. If it is indeed a treat, he will let them take it right out of his beak. If he's just being dramatic about a bit of regular old food, they usually ignore him.
Well, the other day we noticed his feet looking red and scabby (see picture on the right). I looked and searched my poultry books and the internet, but really didn't come up with anything. So I emailed the Chatham County Extension agent in charge of poultry, sent him a couple pictures and asked for advice. He got right back with me and suggested soaking the feet up to the hocks in a dilute betadine bath 3 times a week and see if that helps.
Phoenix, while the only one of our chickens to have a name (the other ones all look alike), is not the tamest. He's actually quite dodgy about handling. I was a bit concerned, but having caught him without too much trouble in the past, set out this morning with my barn boots, leaving the boy with his daddy, and mixed up the solution in an old red bucket. 1 oz. betadine to 4 c. water. I estimated the betadine in the Motorhead shotglass and added about 5 cups warm water, just to make sure it wasn't too strong. Caught the little guy without much trouble on the second try, and after he squawked like he was being attacked and eaten, got him calmed down.
The best way to calm a chicken is to make sure you've got their wings comfortably pinned against them, hold them close to your body so they feel secure, speak gentle, soothing tones, and I've found that stroking their beak will almost always work.
So today was the first treatment. Phoenix did great. After his initial freak-out, he remained calm throughout the ordeal, excepting a few loud bi-cawks when he was startled, once by Honey tearing across the yard to bark at some squirrels, and once just because he's a chicken. Next soaking scheduled for Thursday.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I hate to upstage my own pesto, but...

Alright. You know how some packs of flower seeds say "attracts birds and butterflies"? Well here's proof that the folks at Burpee (or wherever I happened to buy these seeds) don't lie. This is the goldfinch that has been enjoying the cones on my purple coneflower (aka Echinacea). I took these through the screen door, so sorry if they're not the sharpest. Isn't he the prettiest little thing you've ever seen?
I've been feeling a little bad because Mr. Finch has been hanging around the four birdfeeders in our yard, plucking out blackoil sunflower seeds and tossing them to the ground as if to say, "Gimme something to work with already!!" We keep babbling to each other (in this, as in many cases, "we" refers to Adam and I. It also sometimes refers to Buck and I, and at other times refers to Lily and I, or some other animal and I), "we need to get a finch feeder," "I know, we really need to get one of those finch feeders," "yeah we need to get some finch food for the finch," "yeah we need to feed the finch." By next summer, what with Christmas and two birthdays, I'm sure we would have a nice, shiny, plastic finch feeder strategically placed within view of the porch and front window, but you can imagine my immense satisfaction with the current situation. I mean, awesome.

Besides the convenience and aesthetic of it, imagine what the Echinacea is doing for little Goldy's immune system!! He's got something right here that he can't get from any old "finch feeder." He's got nature. Nature that I nurtured. Nurturing that I'm a natural for. Natural... oh, okay.
I've lost the point.

I guess the point is, how cool is that?
Besides, the coneflowers are looking their age at this time of year, not exactly the fresh blossoms they were a few months ago, so having a pretty yellow bird landing on them all the time really brings out the best in them.
I haven't been able to capture the hummingbirds that have been, well, humming around. But maybe I'll try. Maybe I'll become a backyard wildlife photographer and just have a blog centered entirely around tufted titmice (titmouses?) and grey squirrels and white-breasted nuthatches and oh, yeah!! did you know I saw an indigo bunting this year?? No kidding, it was my first one, showed up right after Buck was born...

Presto Pesto Dip

So, this is the dish I brought to Nikki's (a fellow Pepper's employee) bachelorette party. She's getting married next weekend, to, get this, the RA of my dorm freshman year, Derek. Funny how people seem to keep coming around. I would never have guessed nine years ago that me and my husband and child would attend my RA's wedding to Nikki from Pepper's. Or that I would have a husband or child. Really, I don't know what I thought I'd be doing nine years from nine years ago. I think I could go so far as to call those my "short-sighted years," as I didn't really seem to think too far ahead about anything...
Anyway, back to pesto-- I had to photograph it. The pesto dip lies serenely in the middle, like a green sea of spice and smoothness, banked by the glistening tomatoes, nestled against the rocky shore of crustinis. The whole has been showered with fresh feta and a bit of basil.

Yes, the pesto was homemade with garden-fresh basil. Yes, it was garlicky as all get-out. Yes, the tomatoes, too, were garden fresh, and so succulently ripe. Yes, the crustinis were made by me, out of free rolls left over from a catering gig that Joe worked. Yes, Joe the guitar player from Blag'ard. Yes, they were brushed with olive oil and cracked black pepper and kosher salt.

No, I did not have to go to the store for any ingredients-- this is a work of pure serendipity.

I am extremely proud of this creation, and if there was no other purpose for this blog but to preserve it in all its splendor, that would be enough.

Yes, I am available for parties. As long as I can bring the boy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Daddy's Back

After a full 24 hours of food poisoning (as best as we can tell), Adam has fully recovered and is back to his old self. He's been reading to Buck out of the beautifully illustrated James Herriot's Treasury of Inspirational Stories for Children. It's got all the classics-- Only One Woof, The Christmas Day Kitten, and many more, as well as what's being read in the picture, Moses the Kitten, one of Adam's favorites since it features a black kitten. Buck will usually sit through almost a whole story. He also likes Eric Carle's books (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, "Slowly Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth, et al). The pictures in those are quite fascinating to him. I checked out a ton from the library. I would also have to add Goodnight Moon to the list, as he frequently sings to it whenever you read it to him.

I've got my day all planned out:
-wash all the bedclothes
-wash diapers
-clean bathroom (again)

Not a very long list but it will probably take all day, adding in my Buck time-- nursing, pooping/peeing/changing, napping, entertaining, etc., as well as kitchen cleaning and food preparation throughout the day I think Adam's still a little puny, so he'll probably stick around the house and can help with Buck. Also, if I get a second, I will probably stick my nose in the fourth Harry Potter book, Goblet of Fire, as I have been devouring that series once again. I started on Sunday with The Sorcerer's Stone and have blazed through the first three in about as many days.
Tip: you can read while nursing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Me, too!!

Well, I've been thinking about doing this for awhile. I've pretty much abandoned journal writing, though I still pretend I'm going to pick it back up again, and who knows? Maybe I will.
Really, it's the same problem my sister states in her first blog (Farm Kitchen Table), which is how to begin. There is a lot of pressure in any opening entry, be it blog, journal, slambook. It's what keeps me from getting back into journaling. I imagine myself, writing to myself, something like, "Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote in this thing! So much has happened, I don't even know where to start. I got married and had a baby." Then I'm like, uh, "____..."
I don't want to start with the cliches, "it's changed my life," "my baby is a miracle," "we are so happy," and the like, but really, there's a reason these are common expressions-- because that's the truth.

Then there's the insincerity of just glossing over it with no introduction, jumping right in with, "This morning Buck and I went to the library." To skip the very recent event of a child being born seems borderline negligent. Besides that, there are literary reasons not to go about it in this manner-- "Who is Buck?" I can see scribbled in red ink above my first entry. "Need to define characters and place."

Alright, so place? A little cabin in the Big Woods, a lake nearby, far enough out of town to not have to worry about neighbors, but close enough to town to make a run in if you need to.

Characters? Well, there's me, my husband Adam, our almost-four-month-old son Buck, and a host of four-, two- and no-legged creatures we share our cabin and woods with (yes, Mr. Huddleston, I do see those prepositions so incorrectly ending the previous sentences. I'm calling it my "style.").

Time? The present.
Mood? Changing.
Themes (if any)? We will just have to see.

p.s. I'm totally copying my older sister. She just started her blog and I was all, me too!!!