28 August 2007

A Roof Over Our Heads

After a very dry July, we have been blessed with a lot of rain in August. On one hand, YAY! On the other hand, sigh. We've had a very wet porch for a while now, and we've been looking forward to having the roof on. Well, now that dream is a reality. I overstate, of course, but it is nice to have that done. Abe, Tim, Tim, and Shaun worked on the roof for a bit on Sunday afternoon--it was slated to be done on Saturday morning before we had to depart for an afternoon anniversary party, but wouldn't you know it? It poured all morning. So after a few hours' work on Sunday and a few more hours' work on Monday evening, the roof is on. It took a lot of manpower to get it done: helping on Monday were Tim, Tim, Daren, Dave, Jim, and Shaun.

To elaborate, though, I should note that the addition is now 100% roofed. The old roof on the rest of the house is still there. The next project on the docket is the demolition of Judah's room and the installation of windows and doors. Then, there are a few repairs to be made on the roof and one more skylight (in Judah's room) to install before they can finish roofing the old portion. Somewhere in there, they'll knock down a basement wall and pour a basement floor--those things have been waiting for the roof to be completed.

So there's most of it! It is a very subtle green color, which will hopefully look smashing against the tan siding we'll be putting on sometime in the near future.

27 August 2007

A Mommy First

Everyone has a story like this: Loving, well-meaning family accidentally leaves a child behind. Hilarity ensues.

Today was my first.

I took the kids to the grocery store today, incident-free, and then we went to JoAnn fabrics so I could get some cheap fabric to satiate my purse-making craving. Though there were several times I thought I had lost Charis (you have no idea how interesting a fabric store can be for a three-year-old), I retained possession of her for the entire length of our time there. Judah, safely seated in the front of the cart, had nowhere to go. And it turns out that was a problem.

Charis had been sitting in the back of the cart for the last few minutes of our shopping trip, so when it came time to return the cart to its place, I lifted her out, grabbed my bag and purse, and began to walk away. Charis had wandered over to a bin of styrofoam pumpkins and was ogling them when I told her quite firmly that it was time to go.

"No, Mommy, we can't go yet!"

"Charis," I said, "I know you want a pumpkin to play with, but that is not on our list for today. Let's go."

"No, Mommy!"

"Charis. Yes. It's TIME."

"But we have to get BUBS!"

I looked behind me at the cart corral where my precious, forgotten son was sitting quietly in the front of our discarded cart. He looked so sad, so hopeful, so confused...

All I could do was chuckle. Uncontrollably. Because when an actual disaster has been averted, that's what you do.

(And then I kissed my eldest and thanked her for being so alert and taking such good care of her brother.)

24 August 2007

No Film At Eleven

Hello, there! It has been a while since my last post, and I've had several things to jot here for posterity's sake, but no time. So here's a smattering of stuff. (I don't promise it will be well-written, but it will be long. So maybe you'd rather go make a cup of tea.)

1) My Great-Aunt Gee passed away last week. She was 89, I believe. While it was very sad, particularly for her son and daughter-in-law (who had been her caregiver for years) and their kids, her health had been failing for quite a long time, and I think she was ready to go. She was a spunky lady with a very quick wit, and she will be missed.

The funny thing about funerals, though, is that they are very often the only way to bring together family members and friends who don't often have occasion to visit with one another. This is certainly the case in our family, where my three aunts and uncles all live in faraway states, and other cousins and second-cousins are scattered to the four winds. A funeral is a sad reason to get together, true, but that doesn't make it any less fun to catch up with each other and enjoy one another's company. It was wonderful to be able to sit down and share a meal, horse around outside, and hug and kiss each other. Charis seemed especially fond of my Uncle Jim. He took her to go looking for the deer he accidentally scared away, which was an activity apparently right up her alley. Later, she glanced around the crowd of people, and, not finding Jim among them, said very seriously, "Where's that Jim? I love him."
Here's a photo of my mom and her siblings. In the front row, there's mom, Grandma, and Aunt Diana. In the back row, there's That Jim and Gary. Gary, incidentally, beat me soundly in a game of washer horseshoes. In this game, very similar to horseshoes, you toss these huge washers toward pipes sunken into the ground, with the goal of getting the washers inside the pipe. Hey--it's a lot harder than it sounds.
2) Here's Charis helping us navigate on our trip to Ohio. She pointed to random spot in the middle of the map and exclaimed, "There's our home!"
I asked her where we were going.
"Go home and take a nap," she said.
"You want to go home to take a nap?" I asked.
"Yes, but first we need to read. This map says, 'We need to go take a nap!"
Apparently the child was tired.
Judah made no mention of a nap whatsoever, so I can only assume he was well-rested and full of vim and vigor.
Though, he was of no help at all in navigating.
3) The day after our return, the kids were desperately in need of a bath. Judah had maple syrup and banana in his hair, and the soles of Charis' feet were black. Abe gave Judah a bath at about 7:30, and got him all dried, combed, and dressed. Charis was slated for the next bath, so I took her up and got her started. I had forgotten the comb for her hair downstairs, so I hiked down to retrieve it. In the meantime, Judah went up to make sure Charis was okay in her bath. He's always so concerned about her. Abe and I heard a soft plop noise, and immediately knew what it was. Abe took off upstairs to make sure everyone was okay. I grabbed the camera on the way by, because I knew that if everyone was okay and that plop noise was what I thought it was, it'd be a pretty good picture. And it was--here's Judah enjoying bath #2 with his sister.
4) To continue the theme... Yesterday, I took a mini-holiday with two of my sisters-in-law, Beth and Auntie M. Beth and I ran Moriah's volleyball team's practice in the morning, then we headed up to the bigger city to our north for an afternoon of lunch at a favorite cafe, pedicures, and shopping. Whilst Beth and I got pedicures (which I could happily do weekly), M got some gel nails--a true departure for her, since she is a 15-year-old athlete and definitely NOT a girly-girl. I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't brought my camera to record such an event, but when I returned home that night and saw the pictures Abe was able to capture, I was pleased the camera had been left behind.
It was truly a dark and stormy night last night--even when it wasn't actually night. Both Abe and my mother-in-law called us while we were shopping to make sure we were safe and dry--storms raged through, downing trees and power lines, stranding cars and causing accidents. The downpour cut power in many of the area's neighborhoods, including ours. When the rain had subsided a bit, Abe and the kids went outside for a bit of dirty fun. Take a look:
Yes, those are my children sitting in the mud, surrounded by construction detritus, and yes, Judah is playing with a cat box litter scoop. Don't think for a minute I didn't cringe when I saw that. Rest assured that he wouldn't have been playing with such a toy if mama had been home...but I think daddies are a bit more lenient about that sort of thing. "Aw, they'll wash up."
I did ask Abe to please change the kids into grubby clothes the next time he lets them roll around in the mud.
5) Judah's new word is Hello, and it's the cutest thing. I had called my brother to wish him a Happy Birthday, and during the call, Judah woke up from a nap. I put the phone on speaker so Judah could hear his uncle's voice, and Steve said, "Hello, Judah!" to which Judah nonchalantly replied, "W-Oh."
"Wait, did he just say 'Hello'?" my brother asked.
"Yeah...I think so!" I replied. "He has never said that before!"
I think it was very cool that Steve, who lives hundreds and hundreds of miles away and doesn't get to experience very many of his niece and nephew's "first" things, was the first to hear Judah say Hello. Happy Birthday indeed, Steverino.
Well, that's all for now. But stay tuned.
*Please note: I've been playing with the formatting of this post for a while now, and I just can't seem to stop it from squishing all together. My humble apologies for this mishmosh of a post!

14 August 2007

Being Right is so Wrong. Being Left is soooo Right.

International Left Handers Day is August 13th. And I missed it! I didn't get a present or flowers or anything!

I celebrate my left-handedness. Shoot, I celebrate others' left-handedness. Every left-hander does--we make up only about 10% of the population, so we have got to stick together. We commiserate with each other about the injustices of living in a right-handed world: Did you know that the writing on pens and pencils is always upside down for lefties? Did you know that a standard butter knife is right-hand oriented? Did you know that the spout on punch bowl ladles is on the wrong side for people like me? Sure you didn't; you're probably right-handed. You don't think about the trial of having to learn to cut with right-handed scissors. You don't think about the fact that stick-shifts can only be operated with the right hand (not that it matters to me, since I stay away from those things as much as possible). You don't think about trying to write on those stupid desks attached to chairs--you just lean your elbow on the conveniently (for you) placed surface and ignore the fact that the lefty beside you is hunched over uncomfortably, trying to scribble something legible whilst her arm is completely unsupported. And people wonder why so many lefties have terrible handwriting.

Well, the websites HolidayInsights.com and lefthandersday.com have a lot to say on this topic. But if you have time for only one informative link, look to the Washington Post for a very enlightening article. Let this be a lesson to you right-handed folks: we lefties may be "America's only remaining uncoddled interest group," but WATCH OUT. We are a force to be reckoned with.

12 August 2007

Tickle Me Judah

Judah has another word, and that word is Tickle. Or, more accurately, Tickletickletickletickletickle. Or, even more accurately, ickl-ickl-ickl-ickl-ickl. It's pretty cute--he sort of grabs at your arm and giggles. And you just have to laugh!

Charis' new word...is one I wish she wouldn't say in public. We were in the car yesterday, and I said something about "going the opposite direction." We've been working on opposites, so that's what word I was focused on. She, however, was focused on the word "direction," though, try as I might (and, oh, did I try), I could not persuade her to put a D sound on the front of that word. And she kept saying it and saying it and saying it...so I changed it to "going the other way." It's just easier, you know? And maybe a little less embarrassing.

09 August 2007

Antiques Roadshow Update

I've referenced our Antiques Roadshow Experience a couple of times--namely, here and here. But PBS finally has its fall Antiques Roadshow schedule posted, and it looks like the Milwaukee episodes will air on October 29, November 5, and November 12. If we appear, we'll be in the background or in the "Feedback Booth" segment at the end with the credits. You never know--we might be on National Television!

02 August 2007

Let's Go Ride a Bike

Three years ago, when Charis was just a tiny bit of a baby, Abe and I purchased a pull-behind child carrier for a bike. It was a Cannondale, so it was a decent brand, but the metal strap meant to secure it to the actual bike was broken, so the seller only wanted $5 for it. We gladly paid, knowing that Abe works with metal and could easily fix it.

Three years later, he finally got around to doing it, and the repair only took about 10 minutes. He strapped it to his bike, put the kids inside, I hopped on my trusty bike, and we were off! Thus began the new family tradition of bike riding.

The kids didn't know exactly what to think at first. They were intrigued by the straps (and Abe and I were momentarily befuddled--why is safety so confusing?), but not sure they liked being attached to anything this unfamiliar. Judah kept leaning on Charis, which she did not love. But they quickly got over it, and now they're old pros.

We haven't gone for a ride in about a week and a half because the weather conditions haven't been favorable--I mean, who wants to struggle up a hill on a bike in 95 degree weather? Not I. Though, to be honest, hills are much easier for me than Abe, since all I'm hauling is me--Abe is hauling himself AND two children in a pod. On most hills, this makes me look superhuman, or at least like I could win a mountain stage or two of the Tour de France. (On the flip side, when Abe beats me to the top, I look like a weak little girl. My favorite.)

Honestly, I have been surprised by the vast amount of overwhelming hills near our house. It's not like we live in Colorado; we live in the Midwest, land of gently rolling hills and mild inclines. But even a mild incline feels like the Pyrenees, with my physical condition. I would be dead meat if we actually did live in a mountainous area, probably walking my bike more than riding it...

We do all the normal things on our bike rides; we drop off the mail, of course, to save a car trip. We're green like that. (I also use canvas grocery bags, and we compost and recycle.)

(Actually, we're less "green" and more "cheap", unwilling to pay for trash service, unwilling to pay for more gas than we need, gunning for the 5-cent-per-bag credit at the store for bringing reusable bags...but hey, I'll pretend we're environmentally aware.)

We go to the park to let the kiddies stretch their legs and climb on the dinosaurs. We actually have several parks within a short bike ride of our house, so we can mix it up a little bit. Admittedly, it's probably pretty boring for the kids to ride in the pod, unable to move, facing backward with nothing to look at but me, so we hope to keep the rides fun--toss in some ice cream here and there, trips to the playground, floating tree bark "boats" down a waterfall--so they won't revolt when we pull out the bikes in the future.

We even discovered a park we didn't know existed: about a mile from our house is a beautiful wildflower park. Of course, it isn't prime wildflower season, especially since we haven't had rain since, oh, May? But all the same, I think you'll agree that there are a lot worse ways you could spend your time than riding down paths that look like this. I look forward to spring and the cool, breezy rides we will take then, passing vibrant palettes of flowers in fresh bloom, breathing air not yet fattened with humidity and smog, stretching our legs after a long, construction-free winter. THAT will be a treat.