Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Quick Update

We closed on the house on Wednesday, Bob left for PA on Thursday, the girls and I spent our first night in the house Thursday night and bought a Christmas tree Friday night...

I'm trying to unpack, clean, get ready for Christmas, prepare for the New Year's Eve party I'm planning ... oh, and the washer and dryer aren't hooked up yet, and I have almost three weeks of laundry to catch up on. And we're leaving town on Tuesday. These next 48 hours are going to be packed.

I love this house. I'm so thankful for it. I think it's going to be a great house for our family.

Pictures coming soon.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Ever since living in Florida for six years, I've had trouble with cold weather. And when I say "trouble" I mean "I don't like it." Kind of like my mom saying she's allergic to coconut (nope, she just doesn't like it).

Anyway, I love old houses, but old houses are not known for their air-tight-ness or their insulation, so imagine my surprise and delight to discover that our new house is toasty! I mean, it's almost too hot upstairs when we set the thermostat for 68 degrees. I don't know if this is due to good construction, or if it's the difference between a forced air furnace and a boiler/radiator system. But I like it. I mean, this is winter! And I'm too warm unless I'm in short sleeves!

And, as an added bonus, the basement (which has no radiators) stays warm enough for Bob to work in his workshop down there comfortably and for me to do laundry down there. And the attic, also unheated, is nice, too. I'm thinking the attic may be "my room." Bob has his shop, I'll have the attic. As long as I'm warm...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I've been intermittently going crazy lately.

Originally we were selling a house and buying a house, both on Nov. 21. Then we were selling a house Dec. 1 and buying a house Dec. 9. Now, we've sold our house (on schedule, on Dec. 1), but have yet to buy one. We're living with my mother-in-law, as planned, in the intermediate time, and that's going remarkably well, considering we have four people in one bedroom, and lots of different schedules under one roof.

All our earthly belongings are in two moving trucks, parked at our old house. Our Great Dane and two cats are being boarded here in town.

Quick side-story:
On Sunday, I was supposed to drop off the cats at the kennel between 4 and 5. I started gathering them up just after 3, knowing that it might not be easy. I found Katie easily, and put her in the cat carrier. Then I started looking for Janie. I could not find her anywhere. She's quite a stealthy cat, so I checked all her hiding places (that I know of), and then started looking outside. They're inside cats, but I found pawprints around the perimeter of the house, so I started fearing (reasonably, I think) that she'd gotten out while we were moving things out on Saturday, and tried to get back in. I could not find her anywhere. I finally took Katie in without her, my heart almost breaking. I spent a lot of the evening walking the neighborhood, calling her name and shaking her food bowl. Nothing. I went through the house again a time or two. Nothing. We discussed making fliers and/or knocking on doors. It had been brutally cold (wind chill below zero), so we hoped someone had taken her in. We began to realize we might never see her again. We went about our business, cleaning the house, taking the last things out to the trucks, when all of a sudden, Janie walked into the kitchen. Hallelujah! She's an introverted cat, like her "parents", and I guess there had been too many people around for her to want to come out from wherever she'd been. We're so thankful she's ok.

Back to the original point of the post....

We're officially homeless now. I'm dying to live a settled life, to move in, put up pictures, decorate for Christmas, resume our normal life of cooking, laundry (am I really saying this?), living with our animals, etc. I've been hoping we could close on Friday so that we don't have to continue paying by the day for two moving trucks and boarding 140-ish pounds of animals through the weekend. And it looks like we're not closing on Friday. I've been feeling bitter, anxious, hysterical, you name it. Bob keeps talking me down.

Here's some perspective, though: we sold our house, at a relatively small loss, in a time when houses either aren't selling, or are selling incredibly low. We sold our house to a woman we really like, who loves the house, and who allowed us to keep our stuff in the house for a week after closing so we could avoid a storage unit. Our animals are warm and fed and cared for. Our belongings are safe. (I had clients once whose things were in a military storage unit, and EVERYTHING they had burned to the ground.) We have a place to stay that's comfortable, with free child care, meals cooked for us every night, and an open laundry room. Not to mention the fact that my mother-in-law is happy for us to stay as long as we need to. Not to mention the fact that we can watch all the football we want while we're there.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Roller Coaster Ride

This morning, Bob met a structural engineer over at the house. He had sent him a copy of the appraisal so that he'd know why the bank was concerned, and the engineer had read over it before meeting Bob this morning.

He was shocked. After reading the appraisal, he thought, What are these folks getting themselves into? And then he went through the house. And he was really impressed. The house is really solid, and incredibly well-built. He had no concerns about the structural integrity. He's going to write up a "clean bill of health" for our bank. I think he's also going to reference how misleading the appraisal is, with all of its references to the flaws, and none to the house's [many] positive attributes.

Now don't freak out (I know, that's the pot calling the kettle black), but here's one of the house's flaws:
Those are my brothers-in-law, Jon and Steve, up there. I love this picture, and I don't even know why, though if I thought about it much, I'm sure I could come up with reasons. I do not have time today.

There was a small fire in the base of the chimney, and they repaired the chimney but not the siding. Yep, we're buying a house with [a horrible chain link fence and] plywood on the side of it. It doesn't look pretty. Yet. But it will! (Oh, and they also have tried out various paint colors around the house on the siding. I think there are probably at least five different colors around the house. Here, you can see just two.)

Anyway, after the stress of yesterday, I feel particularly thankful for the hope I have now, after the engineer's assessment this morning. I don't know that we could have asked for a better result from their meeting this morning. Now, I just hope the bank is convinced. They should be. Let's see if they are.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Freakin' Out

I'm trying not to, but really? We're selling our house on Monday, moving in with my mother-in-law until we close (supposedly) on the house we're buying in two weeks.

And now our bank is telling us they don't want to lend us money for that particular house because they're worried that it's not structurally sound, based on the appraisal. The appraisal? What? The appraisal that specifically says, "There were no adverse physical deficiencies or adverse conditions observed at the time of inspection which would appear to affect the soundness of the property." But they were concerned about some things (the roof needs to be replaced -- but is not leaking--, there are two broken windows, they need to fix some flooring in the kitchen, the floors "slopp", etc.), and when they called the appraiser, they ended up talking with his boss who said that the appraiser should probably not have written that sentence. The boss who's never seen the house.

The house needs some work, I'll give them that. But structurally unsound because of "slopping" floors?? Whoa. They must not have experience with old houses. If that house is structurally unsound, this house is falling down. If those floors are sloping, then these floors are practically vertical, not horizontal. Honestly.

I am so p***ed off (and I don't curse!), I can hardly see straight. If we lose this house because the bank doesn't have a clue, I don't know what we'll do. Ironically, in this time of recession, our trouble with getting a mortgage doesn't have anything to do with our ability to get a loan, but with the house used as collateral for that loan.

I sat down with the girls this morning and prayed about it, but immediately resumed freaking out. Then I called Bob and left a message on his voice mail, crying. Poor guy. I know it doesn't help him to have a wife who's losing it.

I do not want to be homeless! With two little girls, a Great Dane, and two cats! At the holidays!

Pray for us, please.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mommy Blogging

Bob called me from work to inform me that I'm a mommy blogger. I suppose I am. I definitely meet the description in an article he read today. Of course, I resent being called a mommy. I am not a mommy! For whatever reason, I don't like that word/name. I can't stand it when people refer to me as a mommy, and thank goodness, Bob does a good job of correcting people, "she likes to be called Momma."

Anyway, so I'm a mommy blogger. Follow that link up there, and read what he read. I watched the Motrin commercial that is discussed, and it really irritated me. I'm glad they're taking it out of circulation. I realize that for a lot of people, it's no big deal. But it offended me.

I'm going to live up to my mommy blogger designation now and post videos of Cecil.

I can hardly believe that I've become one of those parents that thinks their kids are incredibly cute... but of course, I've become one of them.

Here goes (practicing pronunciation):

And everything is a phone, these days: alarm clocks, spoons, conch shells...

A Sad Turn of Events

No, before you get worried, nothing bad has happened. Not anything of real gravity.

But, the other night I spent hours baking bread. I love homemade bread, especially homemade bread from my grandmother's recipe. It is sad to me that I don't have a whole lot of memories of my dad's mom, but I do remember her cooking. For me, this is a small way for her to live on in my family: I like to cook using her recipes.

So, I baked bread the other night, and since it takes a long time and I don't do it often, I made a double batch, resulting in four loaves. You can imagine how pleased (or not) I was to discover that Lily (my Great Dane) had eaten a half loaf. I was so stricken at the waste of it that I haven't brought myself to throw it away. Should I compost it? That, too, seems like a waste. I'm wondering if we should feed it to the ducks at Columbian Park so we at least get some pleasure out of it.

The remaining loaves:

The disfigured, ruined one:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Busy Life

Last weekend was supposed to be a packing-heavy weekend, but I woke up Friday morning with the stomach flu, and it really knocked me for a loop. I hardly got off the couch until Monday morning. Yuck.

Thankfully, our closings have been pushed later (for reasons related to the complications of buying a foreclosure), so we still have time to get packed.

The woman buying our home has been gracious enough to allow us to leave all of our belongings in the downstairs during the 7-8 days after she buys this house, but before we close on that house. And we'll crash at my mother-in-law's in the meantime. We are very grateful to not have to put everything in storage, thereby moving everything twice, like we did last year when we bought this house.

Today, we bought a new dryer for the new house. We've really liked the set we have here, so we bought one exactly like what we already have. But... this had been a floor model, so it's deeply discounted. And its flaw? Tape residue. We can handle that. Because it was so much on sale, we went ahead and bought it (I didn't want someone else to get our good deal!), but there was not a similarly priced matching washer, so we didn't feel any rush to go ahead and buy the [full-priced] washer today. That and the fact that we'd rather not buy appliances here and move them there. It would be much easier to just have hhGregg deliver them there once we own the house...

Though we don't have cable and don't watch tv, when I have the chance to, I love TLC. They have lots of shows I like, including Clean Sweep, where families get desperately-needed help to weed out everything in their home, and then organize what's left. Moving gives me a good reason to go through what I have, and I really like having a good-sized box of things to give away. (George Foreman grill, anyone?)

Thursday, November 6, 2008


With all the talk on NPR these days, Caroline's picked up a new word:

I'm sorry-- I can't figure out how to get a different clip to show for this video...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Step 2

Our offer on a house we both really like has (finally!) been accepted.

We move on November 21.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Step 1

We've just accepted an offer on our house.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Waiting Game

So we've discussed it a couple of times over the weekend (to say the least), and Bob and I are on the same page now with regard to the house we looked at on Friday.

We made a list of the questions we'd want to answer about that house, and once they're answered satisfactorily, we'll make an offer... assuming: it's not sold yet (we know that there have already been two offers, though from the same buyer), and we've accepted an offer on our house. The offer arrives on Tuesday. We met with the buyer's agent on Thursday night, and the buyer gets back into town tomorrow, so the paperwork should all be ready for the "presentation" on Tuesday (per a message from the realtor tonight).

I'm trying hard not to be anxious, but I know that the timing might not work. But we know that the bank would not accept a contingent offer (the house we're looking at is a foreclosure, so we'd be negotiating with the bank), so we can't make an offer until we have one on our house. Argh. I'm not a very patient person.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm a glutton for punishment.

Seriously. I mean, I ran a marathon last weekend.

And now? Now, I've fallen in love with a house. Another big old house that needs work. I previewed it two days ago, and Bob went through with me today. Am I seeing it through rose-colored glasses? Probably. Is he seeing worst-case scenarios? Probably.

Here's what I know: it's my favorite house EVER. And I've been in a lot of houses. It needs work. I am sure I don't know everything that needs to be done, but I could probably make some good guesses. As we went through the house, though, Bob looked like I'd betrayed him or something. Not good.

I've told him two things: 1. I love that house. (I'll avoid superlatives, but I could pack them in there.) 2. I do not have to have it.

Anyway, it looks like we'll have some fun conversations ahead of us.

I feel totally drained, because, of course, I wanted him to walk in and be bowled over, swept away, wowed, as I was. I think it's a good thing he wasn't. We usually balance each other pretty well, and I think this is a great example of that. But still...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I ran a marathon on Sunday.

Ever since I was in high school, I've wanted to run a marathon, but for some reason, I've never actually done it.

Now I have.

Sunday, I started (and finished!) the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It was nothing like I'd hoped for or imagined. I felt pretty crappy most of the time. I didn't come anywhere near maintaining the pace I'd trained for. I had to walk some, starting after mile 18. I was really disappointed after the race. When most people are feeling exhilarated (after they cross the finish line), I started crying. It was just miserable, start to finish. I saw nothing good in it and did not EVER want to run another.

I've had a couple days now to process things (it usually takes me a while), and I'm feeling a lot better. I'm starting to get the "SuperWoman" feeling I expected -- I mean, hey, not everyone can run a marathon! And I'm really excited that the Team in Training raised 1.6 million dollars during the Chicago Marathon (of that, I raised just over $3,800) for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And I'm really, really thankful that Lucy was relatively not hungry while I was running, and that I didn't spend the race worrying about her. And I'm very thankful that Gerri wasn't hurt any more than she was. And that they actually did get to see me run by, right before the finish.

It's really surprising to me that I'm already looking up races online, thinking, hmm, how soon could I run a half-marathon? So at this point, I'm really pleased with the race. It was NOTHING like what I'd expected, and that's ok.

Some true confessions:

I despise bananas. As in the smell of them makes me gag a bit. It is a true act of motherly devotion that I'm willing to even touch them so I can feed them to my girls. But I felt so bad during the race that I ate half a banana. Ok, so it was part of a half-banana, but I have not eaten raw banana since I was a baby and my mom used to hide stuff (foods I didn't like) in bananas.

At the pasta dinner the night before the race, our speaker John Bingham talked about how exciting it is when you know you're going to finish. Of course, at that point I knew I was going to finish, so I didn't really get it. (I can be so cocky!) But at some point past the halfway mark on Sunday, I realized that I didn't care about whether or not I could finish; I just knew I didn't want to. Whoa. I didn't see that one coming. There were a couple things that kept me going:
  • the 49 (or so) people/couples/families who supported me financially (well, supported the LLS)
  • the woman I ran with/behind/in front of for 5 miles or so, with the sign on her back "Chemo to Chicago in 149 days"
  • my previous total assurance that I would finish
  • the fact that I had a hungry baby waiting for me, and the longer I took, the hungrier she'd be
  • my fear of failure

Anyway, I survived. I'm glad.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And we're off...

We leave for Chicago today. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is tomorrow morning, starting at 8 CST. (I keep wondering how long it will take for me to actually cross the starting line, since there are something like 45,000 runners.)

I'm nervous about the race, but I'm honestly more nervous about little L. She won't take a bottle (I nurse her, so she never has to), and I've been worrying about this for months. I usually feed her about every three hours during the day, so I know she's going to be ravenously hungry by the time I finish the race. She will eat Cheerios, or bananas, and Bob will maybe be able to force one ounce down her from the bottle, but she's not going to be happy.

How did this happen? Cecil wouldn't take a bottle either, though I know why. L. used to, and then just stopped. It freaks me out a little sometimes; sometimes, it just frustrates me. I love her to pieces, and I'm not itching to "break free" from her, but every once in a while, I'd like to be childless for a couple hours and not worry about being home for the next feeding.

Anyway, I have to be in the starting area at 7 CST, which means I can maybe nurse her around 6:30. Then nothing until I finish. And that will be after noon. I think I had better just stop thinking about this, or I'll go crazy.

After Cecil stopped taking a bottle, I vowed that I would make sure that our next child would take a bottle. And then I forgot how important it was...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Kitchen

This was what our kitchen looked like when we bought the house. I loved the sink.

This was the wallpaper.

On New Year's Eve, we stayed up and pulled down wallpaper in the kitchen. Honestly, we had a blast. It was one of our most memorable New Year's's (?)... (with the exception of the year Ross proposed to Kerrie. Hard to top that.)

Here I am, seven months pregnant, pulling one of the millions of nails that were hammered into the walls, doors, trim, etc.

Oh, and here's what it looks like now.

The stainless steel pieces are (mostly) salvaged from the house my parents bought last year. Go figure: we both bought houses with no cabinets or countertops. Weird.

Here's the Learning Tower that Gerri bought for the girls to help me cook. C. loves it.

She likes to help me cook and help her daddy with the dishes. In this shot, I think she'd splashed so much that it wasn't worth keeping the shirt on.

Hey! That's a doorbell! And it's hooked up!

And, one of my favorite things in the kitchen: my compost pail, a Christmas gift from Ellen. We compost religiously, to the point that I have to talk Bob out of bringing food scraps from other people's homes so we can compost them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So We're Not Moving to Chicago.

The company Bob works for is Catholic. We're not. Before he was officially offered his current job, he had to be approved by the Catholic bishop here, Bishop Higi. So before they could offer him this job in Chicago, he had to be approved by the bishop in Chicago. And he wasn't. Cardinal George had said from the start that he wanted a Catholic Director of Pastoral Care there at that community (which seems reasonable to me), but Bob's boss thought he might be persuaded since Bob's worked in the company for several years now, and we're Orthodox. Which shares a good bit of common ground and history with the Catholic Church. But not enough.

Cardinal George's response was something to the effect of "the candidate sounds great, but this is a Catholic company and the Director of Pastoral Care should be Catholic." I was so disappointed, and so was Bob. The job would have included some things he was really excited about, and we had really wrapped our minds around living in a city again.

But here's the thing: we love living here. We never wanted to leave, and each time this position in Chicago came up, Bob and I shot it down. I think we decided three times not to apply for it. Finally, when they asked Bob the last time, we decided that he should give it a shot. After all, they kept asking him, not the other way around.

Bob told me yesterday morning what the Cardinal had said. I had a good cry. And by the end of the day, I was really excited to be staying here.

What a roller coaster ride this has been.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Uncertainty, Anxiety, Hope...

So... we don't know if Bob will be getting a job offer.

We have decided to sell the house regardless. This is a relief and incredibly sad.

Since I like to deal with stress by looking at houses, I'm not sure if I'm wasting time looking at apartments (online) in Chicago, or if I should be looking for houses here (which I am). (I haven't found anything in town that I want.) (Which doesn't mean anything.) (End of parenthetical inserts.)

Yesterday, an appraiser came to the house. The woman who looked at the house on Saturday had arranged for an appraisal and an inspection prior to making an offer. The inspection was today. Lots of anxiety, though Bob and I agreed that we didn't think we'd really be surprised by anything in the inspection report. We pretty much know everything that's wrong with the house. We think.

After the inspection, the woman came back in and we talked (for an hour maybe? I'm really bad at gauging time) about the house, our plans, her ideas, etc. Bob and I really like her and would love for her to buy the house. After all we've put into it, we really want someone else to love it, too. And she does.

So... we don't have any idea what the house will appraise for. This is a little stressful. If I were still selling real estate, I could get into the MLS and find comps, but since that's what the appraiser's doing, I guess I could just let him do his job. I pray with the girls every day about all of this (how wonderful it is, to pray with children!), and we trust that God will provide for us. But I want to know WHERE He'll be providing for us!

After the inspection, I came down with a doozy of a headache, and heartburn, and who knows what all... Though I felt good about all that had happened today, I still think I managed to internalize all my stress. And now it's throbbing, back behind my eyes.

Bob came home in the middle of the day to hang smoke detectors, light fixtures, etc., and then went back to work with Caroline so that I only had to take Emily, Lucy, and Lily (the Great Dane) on a walk during the whole-house inspection. He wasn't entirely productive while Caroline was with him at work. Really? I don't understand that! :) So he's been at work since dinner, and it's now 11:30. I rented a sappy romance and sat upstairs by myself to escape the realities of my life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Message from a DoodlePro.

Because Bob has interviewed for a job in Chicago and we are probably selling our house. I showed the house today to a woman who loves it and wants to garden. Perfect! But when she left, I cried. I love our house. I don't want to sell it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I love...

my avocado plant. I know, I know. But it is such a pleasure to watch it grow that I must share it with you.

And I plunked the big table top on top of our dining room table, just to see how it would work in there. Then we moved out the three (3!) chests of drawers that had been residing in there since the drywalling work upstairs. The picture is before we moved out the extra furniture, but I like the way it looks. Of course, it's a little too high, what with being on top of the other table top, but I'm still happy.

Oh, and Bob thinks Caroline got bitten by something. Her eyelid is all red and puffy.

She doesn't seem bothered at all. Except when I make her shut her eyes so I can take a picture...

Thursday Confession

Bob and I have a Great Dane named Lily. She's a fantastic dog, and we love how gentle she is with the girls. I grew up with dogs (well, so did Bob), and when we got married, I felt dog-deprived for the first time in my life.

I started lobbying for a dog. Bob insisted he did not want a dog. So I said, "how about a labrador?" No. How about a weimeraner? No. If he were to get a dog, he would want a standard poodle or a labradoodle. No. Anything that ends in -oodle is too wussy. (For me.)

He proposed a chihuahua. Nope.
By this point, we were living in a little two-bedroom bungalow and discussing the possibility of children. I researched various breeds and one day casually mentioned, "what about a Great Dane?" Oh, he said, I've always liked Great Danes. !! What?? So what I read told me that they do well in small spaces and are very good with young children. Hmm... I said, "There are puppies in town!"

Three weeks later, we had Lily.

Bob says I use the Chinese water torture method to wear him down.

Now here's the confession: Bob cares for her at least as much, if not more, than I do. And by "cares for her", I mean walks her, cleans up after her, feeds her, etc. He's a good sport, mostly. But I do feel bad sometimes.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I checked out my route today (you can use GIS maps to figure out your distance), and I ran 17 miles at a 9:46 pace.

I thought I was running about 13-minute miles, there at the end.

I'm really glad that I was only a mile short, and now I know that I MUST eat before I run. I'm glad this happened Saturday, and not the day of the marathon.

Mad Dash to the Altar

(Not really, on that title. I just liked the sound of it.)

So Saturday was supposed to be my twenty mile run. Then, thanks be to God, I got an email from my coach, saying that we should only do eighteen, so we weren't running too much too close to the actual marathon. I was a little worried about this, since we would have gotten in late (we always get in late) to Murfreesboro, and I'd be tired, and L. won't take a bottle, so I have to run RIGHT AFTER I nurse her, so she won't be screaming by the time I get back from my three-ish hour run.

I decided to run on a trail that's 4.5 miles long, so I'd have to run out and back twice. As I started running, I felt bored already by the thought of doing the same route: out, back, out, back, so I decided to just run around when I got to the end of the trail, kill some time (so to speak) by running 9 miles in town, then heading back down the trail.

Oh, and did I mention it was getting really hot?

I realize that I could drag this story out, but the long and the short of it is that when I was about two miles from my van (parked at the trailhead), I could go no further. It was hot, I was worn out, and out of juice. I had had a bit of water before I started, and then maybe a half glass at the halfway point, but I had not eaten anything since the night before, and I started getting shakier and shakier. I started hyperventilating and almost blacked out a couple times.

Finally, I sat down on a bench, and when a nice gentleman walking by asked if I was ok, I confessed that I wasn't. He let me use his cell phone, and I called Mom, who informed me that Dad and Bob had just left to start looking for me. Bob has a pretty good sense of my pace and thought they should have heard from me by then.

I had Mom call them and send them to the "bark park" which (I thought) was just around the bend. I second-guessed myself when the guy said, didn't you just pass the dog park? But I hadn't. Anyway. I had to climb a very slight hill and when I got up to the bark park parking lot, I sat on the curb and tried not to cry. Dad and Bob didn't know where the park was, so Mom gave them the phone number I'd called from, and that man gave them directions, and boy, were we relieved to see each other...

It had taken me 25 minutes to walk a quarter of a mile.

I was whupped.

I had Bob take a picture before I went to hibernate in a hot bath. (On a sidenote, Mom and Dad have THE BEST soaker tub ever. It's long and deep and just plain heavenly.)

And then we hopped in the car to drive to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where one of my favorite cousins was getting married.

Nothing like heels and a baby strapped to you when EVERYTHING hurts...

It was a gorgeous wedding, and I was so glad we were there. And, for the record, if Bob and I had had an outdoor wedding, I would have wanted Allison's idea for the fans-- they were both the fan and the program... Very cool. And they also served as entertainment for a feisty two-year-old.

Congratulations, John & Allison!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We went to bed at three this morning (Saturday morning), then I was up and running at 9 -- 16/17/18ish miles. The run was a learning experience. More on that later. Then back home (to my parents') to shower, get dressed, and drive to Alabama for my cousin John's wedding. Now we're back in Murfreesboro, and I'm heading to bed. Tomorrow: church, then the six hour drive back home. A long weekend, but I'm really glad we came down for this wedding. It was beautiful, and I'm so happy for John & Allison. May God grant you many happy and blessed years together!

Pictures coming in the next day or two.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A List of Seven

One of the blogs I read is Ryan's, and today, he posted several things in sets of seven and encouraged his readers to do the same.

Seven random thoughts of the day:

1. I want to live an environmentally-friendly life, but when it's hard, I sometimes waffle. Case-in-point: light bulbs. Bob recently installed the new kitchen light fixture, and all he could find were CFL's, so he put those in. I love that they last so much longer and use so much less electricity, but here's the problem: I don't like the color of the light. Light is really important to me (I struggle with SAD anyway, and I have no control over the quantity or quality of the light outside, but I should inside...), and I've been struggling with this ever since he put the light up. I'm probably going to wimp out and [ask him to] change the bulbs.

2. I'm training for a marathon (the big day is October 12, coming right up), I'm in pretty darn good shape, I'm running regularly, I'm starting to lose the last of the baby weight from L., but I am not really thinking of myself as a runner. Go figure. Running helped pay for my college education, but I'm not a runner. I'm not sure what would convince me that I am.

This rather dorky picture was taken with the timer yesterday. I had the camera propped on the highchair, so I could send a picture of the new double jogger to my mom. I took the girls out for the inaugural double jogger run yesterday, we did 4.5 miles, and it worked really well. Woohoo!

3. Cloth diapers just aren't that bad. Actually, they're pretty darn cool. We use bumGeniuses, and, though they're expensive, we never have to buy disposables. Well, I say never, but the first time I bought disposables was when C was 14 months or so, we were moving, I had no laundry room, etc. I felt it was excusable. I but I still didn't like them. I've discovered that if I have them on hand, I'll use them (disposables, that is), but if I don't, I never need them.

4. I really love my husband. Some things I appreciate about him: he loves our girls so much; he's incredibly capable; he is my biggest supporter, from staying home with the girls, to breastfeeding, to running a marathon, etc.; he likes everything I cook (with one exception: the casserole I made, following my great-grandmother's recipe, shortly after we were married); he's hootie, which delights my soul.

5. I can get a lot done when all the girls (mine, plus Emily) are napping.

6. Facebook is addictive. So, of course, I love it.

7. Clean sheets make me really happy. (I have sheets in the washer as I type...)

Monday, September 8, 2008

She knows the routine

So I watch my friend Michelle's daughter during the school year, and there are a variety of reasons why I like this. Caroline likes having another playmate, Lucy likes having another playmate, I like getting to see Michelle, and sometimes Brian, Elijah, or Mary, on a regular basis. (Brian and Michelle are Caroline's godparents, so it's great that she gets to see them six times a week -- she misses them on Saturdays...)

Anyway, Michelle usually comes by to pick up Emily around 4:15 or 4:30, and by 3:00, Caroline's watching for her out the window. Today, as Caroline ate a late-afternoon snack, she started asking for Michelle. I like how she pronounces Michelle, so I recorded it for your viewing pleasure. Please excuse the spinach soup remnants on her face. (And I didn't edit out Caroline's quick follow-up with "Daddy" on the video.)

Oh wait. This blog is supposed to be about the house? Ok, then. Updates:

Kitchen light fixture, done. Thank you, Bob.

I potted the avocado. I guess I'm mildly obsessed with growing avocado trees. Please humor me. Oh, and the pot itself? Purchased down at the Indianapolis Museum of Art garden shop. It's biodegradable, though I'm not sure if this is counter-productive, when filled with soil. We've had it for over a year, though, and it shows no biodegradation (?) yet.

Upcoming project: installing the ringy part of the doorbell. The pushy part is up, just not the ringy. This throws people off when they come to the front door. Here's where the ringy part will go (in the kitchen).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I've been lucky to spend a good bit of time with my family over the summer, so here are some pictures of some of the girls' favorite people...
Here's Caroline with her Aunt Ellen and Uncle EJ, as well as little cousin Emily.

Here are the babies, born fewer than two months apart:

And here are Pokey & Poppy with their girls. (Note that Cecil's stealing a hat from a defenseless baby.) This may be the best of the pictures. There's not one where both Mom and Dad are looking at the cameras and the babies aren't looking down...

Tripping up the Back Stairs

Our house has a front and a back stairway, which is one of the features that I love about it. When we bought it, I had a hunch that we'd never use the back stairway, but, of course, I use it more than the front.

When we had all the drywalling done upstairs, they took down the light fixture in the back stairway, and Bob put it up in another room, since we were having company. We then had a dark stairway. Every night, I would either trip or be paranoid about tripping, so when we were out buying a toilet, I spotted a light fixture that I liked "well enough" for the back stairs.

It was on clearance, but I couldn't find one on the shelves. Long story short: I ended up buying the display model for $10. My mom would be proud. Bob hung it up, and I do like it, but I think it will look better when the ceiling's painted.

The kitchen light fixture has arrived, so we'll go from this (left) to this (right):

The avocado is growing roots:

I'm going to need to put it in some soil soon, and I can't wait... as long as the cats don't take it upon themselves to prune it themselves, which they have been known to do.

While my sister, brother-in-law, and niece were here, my brother-in-law helped Bob work in the yard, and one of the things they accomplished was the hacking-down of an annoying bush/shrub/tree of the honeysuckle variety (maybe?) that I can't mow under without practically getting on my hands and knees.

As you can see, there's still some hacking to do, but I'm so thankful to not have to stoop down and grumble each time I mow the grass...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On this day, in 2006...

the girl we now like to call Cecil was born.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Avocado Trees

Avocadoes are expensive, and C loved them when she was just starting solid foods, so we went through a bunch of them. I hated spending over a buck apiece, so after I read about how to start an avocado tree in Super Baby Food, I followed the steps. You peel the pit (there's a thin brown "skin" on the pit), poke a couple toothpicks in it and prop it in a vase or jar so about the bottom half is submerged in water. Like so:
And then you wait for it to split and pop out a root, like this:
And then, eventually, you pot it and water it, and it grows bigger than your daughter:

I've been thrilled with the success of this tree, but then I read (in addition to the years you wait before it will bear fruit) that you actually have to have at least two so they can cross-germinate, or something. [I should have paid attention in Biology class. Sorry, Mr. Cunningham.] So the tree at the bottom is Tree A, started in early 2007. The pit at the top is the beginnings of Tree B, started August 18th-ish, 2008. Let the cross-germinating begin...

The Installation of a Toilet, Part II

So it's in. And it's been tested. (TMI?) And it works. I'm very happy about all of this.

I'm going to photograph the new toilet, but you have to imagine what it will look like with a nice drywalled wall behind it, and a nice white baseboard.

There's a big chain of events for the downstairs bath:

1. Set water lines into wall for washer, so the washer and dryer can be moved back about 8 inches.

2. Move dryer vent to side, so the washer and dryer ... etc.

3. Box in the cold air return ductwork.

4. Drywall back wall of bathroom.

5. Run plumbing for a sink, then buy and install a sink.

6. Have Bob install a V-groove wood ceiling, painted shiny white. (Here's the ceiling, as it is now.)

7. Have Ross patch other walls and paint Sherwin Williams Mega-greige. I love this color, inspired by one of Martha Stewart's kitchens.

8. Install the light fixture that's waiting down in the basement.

By the way, wouldn't you assume that maybe an American Standard toilet would be made in the good old U.S.?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Installation of a Toilet, Part I

All you need are this stack of supplies:
And these.
It's very important to have a helper, and Bob has a good one.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yard Work

We spent a good part of Saturday working on the yard, and we made some headway. We're still trying to decide if it looks better or worse.

Bob's also been prepping the laundry room for a new toilet, thanks to C's interest in toilet training. I think he'll install it on Tuesday. We went to Home Depot and oohed and ahhed over all the options, cracking stupid jokes about how they try to *delicately* describe the toilet's abilities. Bob's totally sold on one model in particular. I can't remember the name of it, but I call it the Toilet of Champions. It can flush a whole bucket of golf balls in one flush-- seriously, that's how they advertise it. Bob joked about testing that claim, but, of course, just because the toilet can take it doesn't mean that the rest of our plumbing can...

Anyway, here's what the one of the big weed patches looks like now, after hours of weeding and pulling vines:

Pardon the messy garage. That's another project, waiting to happen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How are we ever going to find the time?

To deal with things like this:
And this:
Or, what annoys not just us, but our neighbors...
And here's a shot that shows the overgrowth behind the compost pile. It's too bad that this is what it looks like after being hacked back once already this summer...
And then there's the monstrous crack in the wall behind our bed.
To say that we have lots of work ahead of us would be a huge understatement. Every wall has cracks, most have holes from where the electricians ran wiring. (Our first task, upon closing on the house, was to rewire it, top to bottom.) The good news is that we feel totally confident in all the electrical systems. State Farm only insured the property contingent on replacing all the knob-and-tube wiring.

Soon, I'll show before and after pictures of the plaster downstairs.