23 May 2007

Moving Right Along

Well, it's all happening so fast! Monday, Vic's Septic came and pumped out our tank, and shortly thereafter, Vic (I assume) hauled out the big digger and made us a big hole for our basement.
It did not take him long--he was done by 3 pm. That Vic is really something. After the hole was dug, cousin Brad, Abe and Shaun dug trenches for the footers so they could be inspected the next morning--Abe and Shaun dug until no light remained, but they got it done. On Tuesday, the inspector came by and gave the go-ahead to pour the footers, so Mr. Cement Man showed up and filled the trenches with "mud." After a break to let the footers set up and to let the guys go get the wall forms, Brad, Jed, and Abe began putting up the wall forms to pour into. At around 5 pm., our egress window was delivered, and on Wednesday, the guys fit the window into the wall forms and began drilling into the existing basement walls to anchor the new walls when they are poured. Then, on Thursday morning, Mr. Cement came back with more cement for the walls, and the walls were poured and leveled by about noon. I was away from the house, so I didn't get pictures of the actual pour, but we now have basement walls! They have to sit for a day or two before the forms can come off, then the walls must sit, untouched, for a week before we start framing things on top of them. After the forms come off, though, Abe and the fellas will cut a big hole in our existing basement wall and toss that concrete out of the egress window. Then, they have to dig out a bit more dirt and gravel to make room for a basement floor, which will apparently be poured at a later date.

Suffice it to say that it's been a long week. Well, frankly, it has been a long couple of weeks. Because of the noise and activity, the kids haven't had the naps they normally get, which means I don't get as much done. It also means my sanity drips away, too. Let's be clear: naps are mostly for moms. But yesterday, Abe's mom took the kids all day, so not only was I able to get a lot of houswork done that has really needed to be done, Abe and I were able to get out for dinner and Shrek the Third. (pretty funny.) I am feeling somewhat rejuvenated today!

But I think it will be a long summer...

19 May 2007

Charis Sings to Us

I love it. Up until recently, Charis has known songs only well enough to be able to fill in a few key words when we sang them to her. Now, the tables have turned. Now she sings, "God is so BIG! So strong, so miney, nothing g-God cannot do!" She also likes to sing "This Little Light of Mine," especially where we don't hide it under a bushel or let Satan blow it out. Another favorite is "Happy Birthday"--when we play in the sandbox, she makes a cake and puts it on a plate, then usually sticks a fluffy dandelion in the top for the candle, sings the song, and blows it out. This may explain the proliferation of dandelions in our yard!

Another topic of conversation has been bikes. Charis is getting a Dora the Explorer trike/big wheel for her birthday. We just call it a bike. But now, every night at bedtime, she wants me to tell her stories about bikes. We've had flying bikes and magic bikes, and she also loves to hear about our first bikes. I tell her about how I unwisely decided to ditch my training wheels and rode straight into a hedge, and Abe tells her about when he got his first bike as a kid--he had two to look at; one was a super fast, light bike. He loved it. the other, to hear him tell it, was slow and heavy. Charis' eyes got so wide when he told her it weighed "a thousand pounds." Then he disclosed that he had actually faked falling on the heavy, slow one so his dad wouldn't think it was a good bike for him...unfortunately, that was the very bike his dad decided to purchase. We all laugh. Charis asks for these stories again and again...and she won't even get her bike for another month! Poor soul.

Judah is growing like gangbusters. He says "Uh-oh" a lot, and is very quick to use the sign for "all done" when he's through eating. He is getting so bold and adventuresome--he loves going down the slide, but loves trying to climb up it even more. And swinging--he apparently thinks the higher, the better. He also seems a bit of an alchemist--what happens when I dump dog food into the dog's water? He has become increasingly vocal--we're just not quite sure what it's all about yet.

He is also getting to be a BIG boy. Yesterday, for the first time, I put a pair of Judah's pants on Charis--they seemed a little short, but otherwise, fit fine. All the same, I was surprised that 3T pants were that short--until I looked at the tag and discovered they were not #t, as I had thought, but 18 month pants. I never thought I'd mix up their clothes...

18 May 2007

Stage 1

As I may have mentioned in a previous post or two, we're embarking on a humongous construction project this summer. It will dramatically increase our home's value for resale, and it will also increase our square footage, which, as the kids and their toys keep getting bigger, sounds pretty good to me.

The breakdown: in exchange for ripping down our leaky, crumbling, mostly worthless 7.5x26 ft. back porch, we'll be getting a 12x29 ft. glossy, beautiful main floor addition, including main floor laundry (!!!!) and a full main-floor bath (our old one, part of the back porch, was only a .25 bath--the sink didn't work--and not insulated, so using it during the winter months meant one cold tushy), as well as 12x29 ft. of basement space and a 12x15 ft. addition to Judah's bedroom upstairs. In the process, we'll also be gutting and remodeling our kitchen and roofing and siding the entire house. I am excited beyond belief, while still trying to be realistic--we can expect this project to be a huge drain of time, resources, and energy, and fully expect it to drag on well into the fall.

But as Confucius said, The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So my first step last week was clearing out the back porch (formerly a dumping ground of coats, shoes, recyclables, and (most of all) random miscellany. Before I could do that first step, though, I had to clear out the front porch (formerly a dumping ground of random unused furniture and, of course, miscellany) and mop it. Those two steps took all of Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, I did all of the laundry--ALL of it. This includes sheets, blankets, towels, and the many things I've postponed washing because they weren't necessary--the neat sheet the dog sits on in the back seat, etc--because I knew that, on Friday, my washer and dryer were moving up to the front porch, and I had no idea how long it would be before I would be able to use them again. (They're still unhooked.) On Friday, I got the crazy notion that I should clean out the basement. Now, this is where it really got surreal. I can't adequately explain to you what a dumphole our basement had become (Don't know where to put it? Shove it down in the basement! No one ever looks down there!), but suffice it to say that I pulled the lawn tractor and trailer up to the house so I could carry a big load of junk out to the burn pile. I cleaned it out, for real--I even removed the carpet. Somehow, the kids stayed asleep for two hours, and I was able to do more than I ever dreamed possible--enough to make Abe mutter a mild expletive of amazement when he returned home that afternoon. I also ground and browned 5 lbs. or beef for sloppy joes for the workers on Saturday. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was bushed.

As you can imagine, Abe's week was also chaotic, trying to get, well, let's be honest here, I don't know what ready for the big demolition. He worked every bit as hard, and probably harder, than I did, and just want the record to reflect that.

Saturday was...an adventure. Abe's dad, two Tims, a Dave, a Jim, and a Shaun all came to help destroy our porch. It is unfathomable how much joy men get out of demolition. All I can say is that, with the mere mention of the word, Abe's friends were all too eager to come help.

The first blow was struck at about 8:30 or 9 am, and I nearly fell out of bed. I went outside to see what the noise had been, and found our contractor, Shaun, sheepish. Abe apologized for him. :) The porch was gone--I mean, to the dirt--by about noon. After setting out and cleaning up the guys' lunch, I took the kids out to Abe's parents' house so they could get naps--a frustrating and highly unsuccessful endeavor--and returned by about 3:30. Abe worked into the evening. He is a dedicated worker, he is.

So here are some snapshots from the day, if you care to see them. Some are blurry (I couldn't very well re-do shots), so they're not necessarily the best quality, but they should give you an idea!




15 May 2007

Before and After



what a difference a little jewelry makes! :)

Photos, round 2

Charis being shy, Judah being (apparently) awed

Lorie's handsome Isaac

Grandma reads to Charis

Proud Grandpa with his favorite grandkids

Photos, round 1

visiting with Stephanie on Wednesday

From L to R: Aunt Gee, Judah, me, Charis, Uncle Jim, Grandma, Aunt Marilyn, Dad visiting at Aunt Gee's house

Judah and Grandma cuddling

Judah admiring some sort of Australian animal

Charis dances at the zoo

12 May 2007

Therapy, Thy Name is Blog

Tee hee! Tee hee!
It's time for my padded room, I see!
I like to speak in poetry.
This recap of the week will be
a fluid, rhyming therapy.

Tuesday--what a funny day.
Time to laugh, and time to play--
"I've missed you, since you were away!
Too bad that I just can't stay.
It's off to softball . . . just today."

But Wednesday was a big fat hit.
Mop the porch, control the fit.
Work, work, work with polish and spit
Then off to choir to sing, that's it--
But what? My child got mad and bit?????
Sigh and sit. And keep your wit.

Thursday. Time to clean some more.
Move some stuff, sweep the floor.
Abe works late, and that's a bore.
So I'll do laundry (my favorite chore),
Or spend some money at the store.
Or bang my head against the door.

Friday brought a lot of dust.
And a lot of dirt and trash and rust.
I cleaned the basement--a big fat must
before today, you'll have to trust.
But I worked too hard and nearly cussed.
I shouldn't have so impulsively fussed.

This morning was the loudest din--
It very nearly did me in.
The tractor roared, the hammers scoffed
We pulled our crumbling back porch off.
Oh, so much wood and dirt and brick
But then, the part that made me sick
Was when the worker threw aside
A concrete lid which tried to hide
The septic tank that lurked beneath
The tacked-on bathroom. What a treat.
No one knew the tank was there.
We've got city sewer, and not a care!
But now the back yard smells like poo.
And tomorrow's Sunday--what can you do?
We'll have to get the septic pumped
(Let's hope our budget isn't sunk)
Before we dig a basement tall
And pour the concrete for the walls
And frame some rooms, and roof and side
And lay some hardwood 12 feet wide
And paint and trim and tile and buff
And hope our money is enough.
'Cause when it's done, our house will shine
And I'll be glad to call it mine.
And while then, these days will seem so sweet
This week I'd rather not repeat.

07 May 2007

Happy Trails

Well, last week sure turned out differently than I thought it would! On Monday, I had an email from my dear friend Stephanie, who is currently hiking the Appalachian Trail, saying that a close family friend had passed away and she was going to come off the trail and try to make it home for the funeral. The idea crossed my mind that this might be the perfect opportunity to drive back home as well--perhaps I'd see Steph, and I'd also get an opportunity to meet a little man named Isaac who was born to another dear friend, Lorie, almost 3 months ago, and also a chance for the kids to see their grandparents and other extended family. I was still on the fence about the matter when my mom called me--she and my dad were on their way back home from visiting my brother and had pulled into a rest area when who should they see? Stephanie. The odds of that happening, of their meeting by chance in a random city in West Virginia, are so very slim that I took it as a sign I was supposed to go home. So the next morning, I packed up the car, buckled up the kids, and headed for my parents' house.

I won't bore you with details, but I did eventually get a hold of Steph, and we arranged to meet the next morning for breakfast. The kids stayed home with Grandpa while Grandma had to go back to work. It was wonderful! Not only did I enjoy a kid-free outing with another adult, it was with Stephanie, one of my favorite people of all time. Later that day, we learned that two of my favorite relatives, Jim and Marilyn, were in town from South Carolina. We all jumped in the car and headed for my great-aunt Gee's house to visit with them and my grandmother, and also to see Gee's daughter-in-law and grandkids. Except for Jim and Marilyn, whom I have not seen for several years, we see the others maybe twice a year, so it was a great family shebang, and nice to visit when we're not centered around a holiday. Then, we were invited back to my grandma's house for dinner, so we were able to extend the visit and share a meal. It was just a wonderful day.

The next day, Aunt Connie invited us to the zoo, so Charis, Judah and I picked her up and headed out to look at the animals and have lunch and a troll through the gift shop (with Aunt Connie, there always seems to be a prize at the end!). It was apparetly one of the highlights of Charis' life, because ever since that day, she asks if we can go to the "zhou" and see the animals. On a side note, the zoo had an excellent area called the "Australian Adventure" which I enjoyed very much. At the time, I was reading Bill Bryson's book about Australia, In A Sunburned Country, and was feeling a great deal of fondness for the land down under. I would recommend almost anything written by Bryson (I haven't read all of his stuff, but close), but read with this asterisk: he's a little rough around the edges with his language and whatnot, and a little coarse at times, and his ideas about the beginning of the world are definitely not mine, but other than that, he is delightful to read. More than any other travel author, he makes you feel that, beyond having read a simple travel narrative, you have actually traveled to the places he writes about, and it's always special when a book has that sort of transporting power. Back to the day's events, we capped off the evening with a tasty, gut-busting meal at Max and Erma's with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Connie. Good day.

On Friday, I took the kids to visit my dear friend Lorie and her two beautiful (in a handsome sort of way) boys, which is always a treat, not the least of which because her house is very kid-friendly, so it's a bit of a break from the constant redirection I do at the houses of people who don't have small kids. Visiting with Lorie is always easy--we just pick up where we left off, which is a very valuable thing in a friendship. It helps that we've been friends for--gasp! I just did this math for the first time--17 years. Wow.

Saturday was reserved for Grandma. The kids spent ample time with Grandpa all week, but were only able to see grandma in the evenings, so what a wonderful thing to have a bit more time for them to enjoy each other! I don't think we did anything dramatic, but how often do the kids just get to "hang out" with my mom and dad? Not often enough.

Sunday was very similar, except that we also celebrated my dad's birthday (which was actually on Monday), so we had a big lunch, and Charis sang "Happy Dithday" A LOT. Then Mom, Charis, and I headed out for a bridal shower of a family friend. Now, this is the little girl I used to practice french braids on way back in the day, and now she is apparently old enough to marry, which will make you feel old in a hurry. Charis enjoyed her first bridal shower, especially because they served fresh strawberries and had a trampoline she could jump on. We didn't get back home from the shower until sometime after 8, but still found time for cake and pizza with the whole gang.

Monday, dad made a birthday breakfast, and we ate, then the kids and I hit the road back home. We arrived at about 2:30, at which point I began writing this blog. Now it's Friday. My next blog will be about how we passed this week. Oh boy.

Actually, I just tried to go back and add pictures, but it won't let me. So my next blog will be pictures from the week. Then the one after THAT will be this week's craziness. And I think I also have a blog in me somewhere about Gas prices. Stay tuned.