Thursday, October 15, 2009

Progress

So, when we bought this house last December, this is what it looked like:



And, finally, the siding is all one color! (Or mostly; there's one small area that needs to be patched and repainted. But still, it's so much better!) (Oops, I just realized that the dormer window on the attic is only primed. It still needs to be painted, too.) Next up: painting trim, soffits, windows, etc. That will be a big job -- and it probably won't happen anytime soon.



Please note: new shingles on roof, new gutters and downspouts, new chimney. And, of course, new siding, where there once was only plywood.

Future project: the kitchen. I love this kitchen. I really do. But the canary yellow? It's not really my style. And tile countertops -- do-it-yourself tile countertops -- are not so good for my style of cooking and baking. As in, I like to roll out pie crusts, cookie dough, biscuit dough, etc., right on the counter. That doesn't work with a tile-and-grout countertop. Plus, it's hard to clean. And we have a fake-tile backsplash that goes halfway up the walls. Gag. Puke. I really don't like it.


And... they didn't finish the edges! Yuck. Nothing like a tile countertop with raw cut edges of tile, and the visible plywood underneath.


What I love about the kitchen is the space, and the potential for my dream kitchen. Other than that, there's almost no detail I like. The cabinets are low-quality, and we're pretty sure they were salvaged from some other kitchen. (Not that I'm opposed to that ... if it works. These are jury-rigged.) The vinyl flooring is scratched, stained, ugly, and unfinished. And it's pretty irritating that the floor doesn't look good, even minutes after sweeping and mopping. I do like the windows. This kitchen gets good light, and that's really important to me, as a SAD-sufferer.

What I have in mind is something more like this:



The good news is, the kitchen is totally functional, so I can make my grandmother's bread recipe and make the house smell fantastic. I'm satisfied.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weird.

What does it mean when your three-year-old is carrying around a bucket full of toys, announcing that it's "dog poop and vomit"??

Friday, September 4, 2009

So I had a baby...

Last Thursday, August 27th, Will joined the family.

My observations so far: he's very happy. He pretty much needs to eat, and then he's happy. He doesn't get mad when his diaper's dirty, he's not fussy. He doesn't so much like bath time, but then, I'm betting he'll like it better when he can actually be in the water. It's just sponge baths until his umbilical cord falls off.

I haven't blogged since his birth because, well, my life has been revolving around my breasts. Nursing, pumping, etc. And, though I could talk/write about breastfeeding (and my struggles with it) for hours, I won't. I've subjected Bob to probably more than he can stand. But in a nutshell, breastfeeding was not going well, and now it is. I'm glad.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today...

I will have a baby.

I'm being induced at 11:30. This is just too weird. I really don't like having it scheduled, but I'll address why we're doing it that way in another post.

So ... even though this isn't the ideal way I'd like to go into labor, I can't wait to meet the little guy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One Hour Photo

I often think of myself as the "one hour photo" type ... by which I mean that I don't like to wait. (Do you remember when you dropped off your film and had to wait at least a couple days, if not a week, for your pictures to be developed?) And, with the efficiency of today's technology, even one hour seems too long to wait for photos ... to me, anyway.

That said, 40 weeks is a long time to wait for a baby to be born. Granted, for a couple of those first weeks, I didn't know I was pregnant. (Technicality: based on how the OB-GYN world counts pregnancy, you're actually NOT PREGNANT for about the first two weeks that you're "pregnant." Go figure.)

So, I'm 38 weeks pregnant today. I've been having contractions off and on for at least a month. I had contractions all night last night, some of them relatively painful. I got excited, hopeful. I sat up from 3:30-5, timing them. They were coming 4-5 minutes apart. Not bad. But they didn't get any "worse" or stronger, so I went back to bed. I'm not in labor. And as a result, I'm in a really grouchy mood. It doesn't help that I'm tired, that my parents left today after a brief visit, that my dog ate (yet some more) of my home-made bread, that my washer has been out of commission for THREE WEEKS...

And while we're talking about the washer: I had the appliance guys come out three weeks ago today. They said they needed to order a couple parts, that it would take a couple of days, maybe a week. Of course, that seemed too long for Miss One Hour Photo, but I sucked it up and did laundry at my mother-in-law's, which was nice, except for all the hauling that involves. Every day that I didn't hear from the appliance guys, I would think, apparently over-optimistically, maybe they'll call tomorrow! Finally, Bob called them. Turns out a part is on back-order. Honestly, I do not understand why they didn't let me know this. Ugh. It would have been helpful, as the piles of laundry got taller and taller, to know that I should go do laundry somewhere, and not hold out hope that I'd be doing it in my own basement the next day or so.

Seriously, what were they thinking? And I don't even know if there's an estimate on when the part will arrive. But I am NOT HAPPY. Come on guys. Get my freaking washer fixed for me already. I do not want to bring a new baby home to a house filled with dirty laundry...

And may that new baby come soon...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Susan.

It seems a little crazy to blog about someone I've never met, but...

I came across Fat Cyclist at least a year ago, and I've been reading his blog faithfully since then. I'm not a cyclist, not particularly interested in cycling, but he's a good writer, and I've enjoyed reading his blog.

His wife Susan has been battling breast cancer off and on since 2004. In 2007, they learned that it had metastasized, eventually reaching her bones, lungs, and brain. She had a mastectomy, chemo, several rounds of radiation, and more chemo. Eventually, there was nothing more they could do for her, other than try to reduce her pain. But how do you reduce the pain of a woman who wants to live? Who loves her husband and wants to be there for her four children? She fought and fought and finally died August 5th.

We've been praying for her and their family, and I'm grieving for them, despite the fact that I've never met them.

I like that Elden (aka the Fat Cyclist) felt out of control, looked at the situation, and decided what he could control. They moved so he could take a job with better benefits so that she could have the best treatment available. And he started fighting cancer in the only way he could: he used his blog to create a LiveStrong team of over 500 members; to date, they've raised over a half million dollars. This is both the largest team and the largest sum of money ever in the LiveStrong challenges.

When people question the value of blogs, I feel I can cite his as an example of good. He's done a lot of good through his site, and a lot of people who are fighting cancer (or who have loved ones fighting cancer) have been encouraged in their fight. On his end, he's received tons of encouragement; Susan loved what he was doing; and being able to write about it has been good therapy. That, and cycling.

I realize this has nothing to do with my family, or my house, or this blog ... but perhaps you might say a prayer for the Nelson family out in Utah? They could use it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Tortoise and The Hare

I have two little girls. One of them is my tortoise. She is so slow it drives me crazy! A simple task, like climbing into her car seat, could take forever. So could putting toys away, washing her hands, throwing something in the trash can, etc. She gets side-tracked, stops to think about things, comments on everything she sees, and often forgets what she was doing. She comes by this honestly. It cracks me up to watch Bob mow the grass; I'll see him stop, with the mower running, and just look at the house, thinking, I'm sure about all the things we need to/plan to do to it. And, eventually, he'll start moving again. I'm much quicker at washing the dishes (and the floor stays dryer) because I don't hold dripping dishes over the floor while I finish a couple thoughts. Not that he does that, of course.

The other little girl is my hare. That girl does not slow down, ever, unless she's asleep. She takes after Bob's mom, who goes a mile a minute most of the time. She's also a little accident-prone, like her grandmother. She's often running into things, falling off things, etc. (Okay, so I do that, too! But she still gets it from my mother-in-law.)

Anyway, it makes for a constant tug-of-war: Caroline, hurry up! Lucy, slow down! Neither of them, of course, are moving at the rate I want them to. It should be interesting to see where this little boy fits into the spectrum. By the way, I'm due in 35 days. 35 days. Good grief. I'm excited. I'm ready, emotionally. I can't wait to meet him. But... we have so much to do! If he came today, the poor kid would have nothing to wear. I'd be able to set up a bassinet for him pretty quickly, but my bassinet sheets are all pink or purple.

We need to get hoppin'.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Day of Fun

Yesterday, Bob was headed up to Chicago for a meeting with one of the nuns (his company is owned by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago), and he invited the rest of us to tag along for the day. Of course we said yes.

We had an uneventful 2 1/2 hour drive up there, though Lucy only fell asleep shortly before we arrived, and Caroline didn't fall asleep at all. Then, we parted ways: he to his meeting, and us off to find some lunch. Of all the opportunities for good food in Chicago, I think (hope!) this was the crappiest. Nonetheless, it fit my criteria, since I'm 34 weeks pregnant, not so full of energy, and pushing an awkward double stroller: it was relatively close, there were no steps to get in, and it wasn't too crowded. That should have been a clue. Ugh. I actually called my mom after lunch to complain about how bad it was, from the food, to the environment, to the other customers, etc. (I mean, really, if you were the only customer, and you hadn't sat down yet, and a pregnant lady struggled in with a double jogger, would you STILL take the only table, rather than sitting at the bar-height counters with backless stools, where, clearly, a responsible parent could not seat her young children??? Would you? Tell me you wouldn't.) (Clearly, I'm totally over this already.)

Then we walked to a delightful little park where I sat in the grass, in the shade, and watched the girls run and burn some energy. They had a great time, and they definitely chased their fair share of pigeons. We even fed the pigeons (shh! don't tell!) the rest of the girls' crappy sandwich from lunch. The pigeons liked it.

At that point, I was feeling like I was wasting my time in Chicago ... I can get bad food and sit on grass at home! So we headed off to Tiffany & Co. Thankfully, Caroline fell asleep, and Lucy had a great time (lots of shiny things to see) while we waited for them to clean my ring. I go in once or twice a year, and it's amazing how shiny my ring is when they're done with it. That, or I just think it is, since I know they cleaned it...

Bob called then, having just finished his meeting, so we headed over to meet Sister Frances Clare, who was very sweet. You have to like a nun who gives you a hug immediately and is clearly sincere. She told us how the valet parking guy never knows what to call her, so her car is usually listed under The Nun. Sometimes The Nun Clare.

And then... after a quick trip to Starbucks to get the girls some whole milk (for Lucy) and soy milk (for Caroline), we got on a bus and headed up to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I'd looked up bus routes, and I thought I had a pretty good idea of where we were going; nonetheless, I'm sure it was obvious that we aren't from Chicago. I didn't have correct change, getting the stroller on and off the bus was less than smooth, and we weren't exactly sure where to get off. But, since I didn't feel like walking a mile and a half there, then strolling the zoo, and then walking a mile and a half back, the bus was a great option. And cheaper than driving there and parking.

The Lincoln Park Zoo is free. This was nice, as we were trying to keep the cost for the day pretty low. However ... Bob and I both agreed that if they charged about $15 or so for admission, the experience would probably be a lot better. Too many people! And some of the adults were behaving as badly as the children. I could not believe it when I saw adults banging on the glass of the exhibits, trying to get animals to look at them so they could get a good picture. Wow. We also concluded that they'd probably have more funding to fill some empty exhibits if they had an entrance fee... All that said, however, I loved it. It was beautiful, the animals were incredible, and Caroline had a great time. Lucy finally fell asleep, so she didn't see everything, but it was definitely worth it. I may have enjoyed the landscaping more than the animals, but that's ok with me.

The plan was to then walk down to Navy Pier, where the Children's Museum is free on Thursday nights. However, it started raining, and we took refuge under some scaffolding, and finally, I got tired of being on my feet, so we just headed back to the car. We drove out to Oak Park and ate at a fun little Italian cafe (pizza, followed by gelato), and then headed home. What a day. Exhausting, but oh, so memorable, and fun. I think my favorite part (and I wasn't even there! I was sitting on a bench, resting...) was when Bob and Caroline were exploring the Waterfowl Lagoon at the zoo, and all of a sudden, she got so excited because she saw some flamingoes. Bob didn't see them, but he followed her, and sure enough, there they were. She was in heaven, even though Bob said they reeked to, well, high heaven.

Next time we go, we're going to ride the El. I know a certain almost-three-year-old who would love it. As it is, she keeps talking about her ride on the bus yesterday.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Laundry

My brother-in-law jokes about blogging about laundry. But since that's what I've spent the last day-and-a-half doing, I'm going to write about it.

I don't have tons to say. I'll keep it short.

1. Is our water bill low because I've been drastically behind on laundry for 7 months?

2. (corollary to #1) Will our water bill for this month be totally out of line, thanks to this little laundry spree I've been on?

3. The 3-6 month onesies I just pre-treated and washed: have they been dirty for forever, or did I fish them out of the attic because I ran out of clean ones in the right size? (Please note: my youngest is 15 months old.)

4. Or is my youngest just really small for her age and can still fit in them? (Who am I kidding? If you can't really snap the onesie, it doesn't fit.)

5. Perhaps I really don't need a whole new set of maternity clothes. I've discovered all sorts of things I forgot I had. This is embarassing.

6. Front-loaders are the best. (By the way, after once hearing a guy refer to a bra that clasps in the front as a "front-loader", I'm always a bit nervous using that term. But there's no denying it: my washer is a front-loader.)

7. I've worked up a sweat, hauling all this laundry up and down two flights of stairs (though Bob has carried some of it for me). I'm hoping there's still some hot water left so I can take a nice long shower.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pregnancy

I'm now 32 weeks along, or seven months, for those of you who aren't familiar with the forty-week countdown.

This is my third pregnancy*, and it's been the roughest yet. Pregnancy #1 was a blast; I felt fantastic, I loved it, I could have stayed pregnant forever. Pregnancy #2 was rough, though I think it was mainly rough because we were living in a big unfurnished house, and there was no place to sit down except for our bed. (All our stuff was in storage while we were having the house rewired, replastered, etc., etc.) This one, though... ugh. It's been hot, and that's been hard. But mainly, my body has changed with the previous pregnancies, so this little guy is sitting a lot lower and causing me a good bit of discomfort. And the contractions! I start having fairly big contractions after merely climbing a flight of stairs. Or sometimes, just walking from one room to the next.

The good news is that I feel pretty good, apart from the back pain and the contractions. (Did I forget to mention the back pain? Man, it's a doozie.) And the girls are enjoying the pregnancy. Caroline loves praying for her brother, and Lucy gets a kick out of the fact that my belly button has begun sticking out. She likes to compare our belly buttons these days.

I was worried that I might deliver past my due date, which would not be ideal, since Bob's scheduled to be out of town for two weeks starting just a couple days after my due date. Not being there for the delivery is NOT an option. But with all these contractions at this point in the pregnancy, I'm inclined to think I probably won't deliver late. Let's hope not, anyway.

Anyway, this little guy is looking healthy. His heartbeat is strong, he's very active, especially after about 11pm, and he gets the hiccups all the time. (I feel slightly guilty that I delighted in all of Caroline's prenatal hiccups, and I find his annoying. The novelty has worn off, I guess.) I think we've settled on his name, which won't be revealed until he makes his appearance. I can't wait to meet him!

*This is actually my fourth pregnancy, though it's the third I've carried this far. I miscarried a baby at 10 weeks, shortly before I got pregnant with Caroline.

Friday, June 26, 2009

On this day, many years ago...

my husband was born.

Happy birthday, Bob!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Air Conditioning Update

So, really, it hasn't been that hot ... except that everything is exaggerated when I'm pregnant in the summertime, so I've been a bit (to grossly understate the facts) paralyzed by the heat.

The home warranty assigned an A/C company to us last week, and they came out promptly, flipped a breaker (why didn't I think of that?) added a lot of freon to the unit outside, and left. A half hour later, I discovered water dripping through the girls' ceiling on the second floor. (Their room is below the air handler, which is up in the attic.) I called the company; they sent two guys out that afternoon who determined that the air handler is in bad, bad shape. Oh, and the drain line (I'm making this term up; I know nothing about air conditioning) was disconnected, so that water was just flowing through the attic floor into the girls' room below. Nice.

I was gone that evening; when I came home, Bob informed me he'd put the girls to bed in the guest bedroom because as Caroline opened the door to their room at bedtime, the ceiling had fallen down. Not the whole ceiling, but probably a good 2-foot diameter circle. This is a plaster ceiling, and it dented and scratched up the wood floor. Luckily, no one was actually in the room, and I'd moved the empty crib (waiting for our little boy, due Aug. 26th!) that was under that spot when the water started coming through the ceiling.

Fun, fun. Our house is in worse shape than before we had them come "fix" things. And I forgot to mention that after those two guys arrived, they determined that the home warranty wasn't going to cover the repairs. So they left, we'd paid our $100 deductible, they'd billed the home warranty company another $200, but the place was in worse shape than before.

Meanwhile, I'm dying of the heat. I really don't like being like this. I don't want to be a complainer. I can tell I'm not succeeding in that, though, because Caroline has picked up phrases like, "I'm roasting!" and "I'm so hot!"

We were obviously not impressed with the A/C company that had come out last week, so yesterday, Bob called another company, and they came out yesterday evening. The guy had been working nonstop all day, it was after 6pm when he got here, and he spent a good two hours with us. We liked him ... and trusted him, which is always good. The bottom line: whoever installed our air handler up there doesn't know anything about electricity or air conditioning, and he recommended not spending any more money on that unit. When it dies, start fresh. They (somebody: previous owners? a buddy?) directly wired the thing so that the air handler runs constantly unless you flip off the breaker. (No, I don't mean "flip off" like that.) When you turn the thermostat to "on", the air conditioning shuts off. When you turn it to "auto", it comes on. But the thermostat display only works when it's switched to "on". Huh?? Heat/Off/Cool: that selection makes no difference to the operation of the system.

So there's no way to control temperature; it just either runs, or we turn off all power to the thing. And here's the frustrating thing: we've now put, well, a lot of money into getting the thing running, and it brings our bedroom temperature down to a whopping 80 degrees. Not so impressive. Mind you, this system is only for the upstairs; it has four bedrooms and a bathroom to cool. The only room that's cool is the bathroom. Bob and I both feel kind of sick about this, but there was no way of knowing all of this, short of doing the repairs we did.

I'm itching to replace the upstairs system, and install one downstairs while we're at it, but that's just not in the budget right now. We've got some other big projects on the docket this summer, and air conditioning isn't on the list.

Meanwhile, I'm just hoping this summer won't be too much of a scorcher.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Home Warranty

Our house came with a home warranty. I think I've mentioned this before. I am grateful for it, but it's been a month since we first called about our non-functioning air conditioning.

Tonight, I went to the website. Here's what it says:

"Whether you’re working with one of the HSA customer service representatives over the phone, or relying on a service contractor to make a repair in your home, HSA ensures prompt, convenient and reliable service."

And then it goes on to state the HSA guarantee: "HSA provides qualified, prescreened service contractors from its Preferred Vendor Network that arrive promptly and invoice HSA directly for covered repairs. If an HSA service provider cannot respond in a timely manner, HSA will approve the use of a contractor outside of its network to ensure the convenience of fast service."

Bob's going to call them tomorrow. Time to give up on this guy from Indy who's clearly not going to call us back, let alone fix our A/C. I need air. Stat. When I'm pregnant in the summertime, I'm hot all the time ... and that's WITH air conditioning. Without it, I'm grouchy. And hot.

Let's hope they stand behind their guarantee.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sweet Summertime

I really thought I'd be sleeping in a bit this summer, but that's just not happening. First, I thought that since Emily isn't coming every morning at 7:40ish, I'd just sleep til I woke up. But Caroline started waking up early (well, early is relative. She was waking up around 7, and I wanted to stay in bed.). So I became convinced that it was because their room gets too bright. So we installed (and by we, I mean Bob) pull-down blinds to go behind the sheers on the windows. So much for that; Lucy was up at 6:30 this morning. I just ignored her. She wasn't crying, just being a bit chatty.

So the sleep thing isn't quite working out as I'd planned.

But still, we're having a great summer already. I bought a baby pool, which we've only used once, but which Caroline loves. We'll use it more when I move it out from under the tree (that was a bad idea!), so it gets more direct sun and less bird poop -- and when I buy a bathing suit. I wore my normal bathing suit into the pool late the other evening, and it really was indecent. By the time the fabric had covered my, well, abdomen, there was hardly any left for my chest. TMI, I know. But I need a maternity suit.

We've been doing lots of fun things: going to parks, playgrounds. Walking to the library. Going to the Farmers' Market every Saturday. Playing on the front porch a lot.

Here's what I haven't been doing: staying cool. I don't want to be ungrateful; I'm glad we have a home warranty on this house, but that means we need to use the home warranty company's approved providers if/when something goes wrong. So the air conditioning (which is only in the upstairs -- well, and the attic) doesn't work, or rather, it may work, but the thermostat doesn't, so there's no way to turn it on. And need I remind you, it's summer, and I'm pregnant! Bob called the home warranty company a month ago, got the number of the approved HVAC company, which is located an hour away, and called and left a message. Since then, they've played phone tag a time or two ... but it's been a month! And I have no AC! And the downstairs windows conveniently have storm windows but no screens. I think it's time for Bob to call the home warranty company to complain about their (non-)service provider.

In the meantime, cool drinks and a shaded front porch are helping.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Saving Money

We're constantly tweaking our budget these days, and in light of that, I bought the Sunday paper this past week, so I could clip coupons. I am totally becoming my mother.

Anyway, I ended up saving $34 off my grocery bill by buying what was on sale and using coupons. (My total bill was $120, so it would have been $154.) I think the best deal I got was on Diet Coke. Diet Coke is the bane of Bob's existence, so I didn't feel that he was appropriately congratulatory when I shared my savings, ... so I'll share it with you. I think Target charges about $4.85 for a 12-pack, which is outrageous, but fairly consistent with other stores. Meijer had it on sale for 2 24-packs for $11, so I planned to get two. And then when I got there, they were also advertising: buy 2 24-packs, get one 12-pack free. So instead of paying $.40 per can, I paid $.18 per can. Total savings: $13.25. I'm very pleased with myself.

And... inside the paper was an ad for subscribing. I ended up deciding to subscribe to weekend delivery (Fri, Sat, & Sun) for $6.30, which is just slightly more than I'd pay if I just bought the Sunday paper each week at the store, for $1.50 a pop.

I'm sure this is fascinating stuff for you all, but it excites me!

Ooh, and because I'm feeling very proud of this, I might as well also share that I found out this morning that I qualified for the "super-preferred non-tobacco user" rate for my new life insurance policy. I was really hoping to qualify, partly because it's cheaper, and partly because I guess I like validation that I'm in pretty good shape. I thought I was a goner when they weighed me and recorded my current weight (I swear they said they'd use my non-pregnant weight!), but I guess perhaps it didn't matter. So ... I'm in good shape, but if I die, I think I have appropriate coverage so my family won't be left high and dry. That feels good.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One of those days


Today has definitely been one of those days.

I decided to work on painting the bathroom this morning while all the girls were napping, and it was going relatively well. Rather than stop after an hour as I'd planned, I just kept going. And then I spilled a gallon of paint. I had it balanced on the edge of the bathroom sink (bad decision, I know), and it just toppled over. Luckily, the paint was 99% contained in the sink, and the small amount on the floor was easily cleaned. And I was even able to salvage some of the paint from the sink. I'm left with about a half gallon, which should be enough to finish the room. In the midst of all this, Caroline heard a siren and started crying and screaming. I just ignored her as I was cleaning up, and then once I had things under control, I went to check on her. And apparently she'd decided to blow her nose over the edge of the Pack 'N Play, and I stepped in a puddle of snot. Barefooted.

Then during lunch, I was eating some yogurt with granola when Caroline, who'd already finished her lunch, came over to me, held up her hand, and said, "It's poop." And it sure was. I guess she'd put an exploratory hand down her pants and came up with a dirty hand. So while I was freaking out about that, Lucy, who was also done with lunch, decided to fling my yogurt/granola everywhere. I dealt with that, and then went back to cleaning up Caroline, when the phone rang. Ugh. And Lucy, I think, answered it. I don't know. I was yelling at her (I know, I know! Who yells at a 15-month-old? But I'd had it...), and I don't know if she'd answered a call or if she just turned the phone on after it stopped ringing. Somebody may have heard me yelling. It was not my proudest moment.

I also called to schedule Lucy's 15-month check-up, but called the car dealership instead of her doctor's office (448-1000 instead of 448-8000). It only struck me as funny after the fact.

I need a vacation.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Times, They are A'Changin'

Yesterday, I went to the BMV for three reasons: I had to sign off on some form releasing interest in our old Corolla (or last Corolla, since it's much, much newer than our "new" Corolla). I had to change the address on my driver's license (I realize you're supposed to do this within 30 days of moving, but really? Have you moved lately, with two kids and one on the way, into a house that needs a lot of work? 30 days?). And I needed to have them reissue my vehicle registration for the van since they apparently sent it to a house I no longer own. And I was driving around, illegally, without my 2010 sticker on the plates.

So... for your driver's license picture, you're now supposed to remove your glasses and maintain a neutral expression. The lady said, you're welcome to smile, as long as your teeth don't show. Apparently I'm not good at that... the system kept rejecting my pictures because, well, teeth were showing. I look like a freak in my new driver's license. Bob says he looks like a prisoner in his (he went in earlier in the day and did the same thing), so I guess we're a match made in heaven. But I already knew that. :)

I'm not going to over-think the new rules for your DL picture, but I can't help but speculate a little. Would I be easier to identify in the event of a crime if my picture shows a weird-looking woman without glasses? Since I never wear contacts anymore...

Also, then I took the girls over to where Bob works (a CCRC, or continuing care retirement community), and all these old women surrounded the girls, oohing and ahhing over them. It cracked me up that one woman took me aside, almost whispering, to ask me about the pregnancy. I forget that it used to be hush-hush; women did not used to talk about pregnancy at all, even when it was obvious. It was very cute.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Success!

It may be a little premature to call it success yet, but I would say it's at least big-time progress. Here's the situation:

Caroline has had big reactions to sirens for a while. We were always appropriately compassionate, but we never wanted to encourage the fear by making a big deal out of it. Well, somehow it became a big deal, despite our efforts. It really got a lot worse the last time I went to Tennessee (my parents live across the street from the hospital), and then she just started waking up all the time, screaming about sirens, even if nobody else heard a siren. It made for a lot of sleepless nights. We learned that she was fine as long as we were in the room, so we started spending more time in their room after saying goodnight.

Of course, this just escalated the problem. Finally, we took turns sleeping with her in the guest room. We all got more sleep, but I wasn't totally ok with it. As sweet as sleeping with my daughter is (and it's sweet!), I really prefer sleeping with Bob.

Anyway, Bob was out of town all last week, and I realized that I was NEVER going to get a break from the girls if I was sleeping with Caroline. So I decided to play hardball. That first night, I put her to bed in the guest room (so she wouldn't keep Lucy up -- not that that's an issue; Lucy could sleep through a tornado) and told her that even if she screamed and cried, she was going to have to sleep in there, and I was not coming back in. Oh boy, did she scream and cry. For two straight hours. It was awful. Torturous. I watched a movie, just to drown her out. But she fell asleep!

The next night, it took just over an hour and a half. It kept gradually taking less and less time, and now, for two nights straight, she's gone to bed (in her own bed, now)with no tears. None. I decided a couple days ago to take the same approach with the sirens. She can cry, but I'm not going to go comfort her. She did hear a siren late last night, and she woke up screaming, and I debated whether or not to go in. (I know, so much for resolve...) I waited until I couldn't hear the siren anymore, and then she just stopped. Mid-scream. And went back to sleep. Who knew??

Anyway, everybody's sleeping where they're supposed to, and we're all getting more sleep, and I feel so good about it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

I love my mom, and so I thought I'd do a short tribute to her today.

I love that my mom made a lot of sacrifices to send my sister and me to private schools because she thought it would be better for us (academically, spiritually, socially).

I love that my mom is the first person I call when I have some news. She (besides Bob) is just about the only person I like talking to on the phone. And we talk every day, sometimes more than once.

I love that of all the people in the world, the people I would most trust with my children are my parents. My mom might not do things exactly the way I would, but our goals and motives are the same.

I love that my mom is doing some things now that she's always wanted to do, like taking a yoga class. You go, Mom! And she recently acquired a cool bicycle, and she and Dad are having a blast exploring their town on bikes.

I love that my mom is proud of me. And I think of her whenever I hear the country song that goes, "I am Rosemary's granddaughter, the spitting image of my father, and when the day is done my momma's still my biggest fan..." I'm pretty sure she is my biggest fan.

I love that my mom, who seemed surprised when we told her we were expecting our third child, recovered quickly with genuine excitement.

I love that my mom is able to find good deals anywhere. She is the only person with whom I would shop at Goodwill. Turn her loose in a big store, and she'll find the top-quality but bottom-dollar steals.

I love that my mom drops everything to be with me when I have babies every 18 months. Bob's scheduled to be out of town this fall for two weeks, within a week of my due date. I called Mom and said, "I need you!" And she said she'd be there.

I love that sometimes on the phone, we get tickled and just laugh and laugh, uncontrollably. And that Caroline will join in, even though she has no idea why we're laughing. What fun!


Mom, I love you. Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Confessions

I didn't go to church this morning, and that makes two Sundays in a row. I'm pretty sure that's never happened before in my life. But... last week, Lucy had a bad cough, and this week, Bob and I stayed up late preparing for his week-long trip to PA, and then I was up early, folding clothes for him, proofreading his papers, and trying to find our missing garment bag. We never found it, and I swear we searched everywhere, which must mean that it's in the Corolla, back at the Collision Repair Shop (where we would be having it repaired ... if we were having it repaired. But we're not.). Anyway, by the time we finally had everything together and the car packed, it was 10:30, and church started at 9:30. I put the girls down for a nap, and then I took one myself. Don't tell.

I fell in love with a chair someone had set out at the curb. It was old, upholstered with terrible fabric, and incredibly sweetly-shaped. I asked Bob to drive by it yesterday, but he "forgot." He gave me his blessing today to go lug it home and put it in the garage 'til we can have it reupholstered. I'm still a little sad about this: when I actually got out of the car to look it over, I really did love it. But the fabric had burrs in it, and there were big moisture stains under the seat cushion. I just wasn't up for it. But it was so cute...

Today, I was driving down the road (very carefully, since some kind folks lent us their nice minivan for the week Bob's gone), and as I was crossing some railroad tracks, I heard (I thought) a train honking, really loudly, really close. I don't think I visibly panicked, but I was freaked out for the three seconds before I realized that an ambulance was a car or two behind me, warning us to get out of the way. I'm still a little shaky, thinking about what I thought was happening at that moment.

We bought a car yesterday. I've told a couple people, and everyone's reaction changes once I describe the car a bit. I love cars, and I enjoy shopping for them, and getting a good deal, and driving them... but this was not an exciting car purchase. It just wasn't. It totally met our goals, and I imagine it will probably be a good little car for us, but: it's old. It's not pretty. It has a lot of miles on it. The paint's really dull. I'm not excited about driving it. Etc. However, as we progress with our Total Money Makeover, we're committed to not taking on any new debt, even a tiny car loan. So we paid cash for the little car, and it feels good. It's a Toyota Corolla, if you're curious, which is what we're replacing, ironically. But this one is a LOT older. A lot. Which is fine. I guess.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Living Green, Living Locally

This morning I went to the Farmers' Market with the girls, and we had a great time! I didn't know what to expect this early in the season, and though there were some vegetables to be had (fresh lettuces, fresh asparagus), I ended up getting some local honey, maple syrup, and eggs. Oh, it was fun! And I feel good about supporting local farmers.

Poor Caroline thought we were going to come straight home and have pancakes, since obviously maple syrup=pancakes...

On another note, Bob and I are going to go look at a car in a half-hour. In light of our Total Money Makeover, we're just going to buy a beater with cash, and then save for a better car, rather than finance a car. We're both excited about getting rid of a car payment. And it won't be too much longer before we eliminate the second one.

At breakfast this morning, Caroline kept yakking away about the roofers, and I thought, wow, she's really interested in this whole process -- until I realized that they were there, working, and she could see them out the window behind me! I think they'll be done today; they're hanging new gutters, replacing the missing siding, and finishing the flashing around the new chimney. I'm pleased with the shingles we chose, and I think the roof is looking really nice. Boy oh boy, it feels good to actually be making progress with this house!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Long Time, No See.

I've been away from my blogging lately... probably because my basement computer set-up is increasingly uncomfortable for me these days, and because I'm still having camera-to-computer issues. I went out and bought a pack of DVD's to start storing all my pictures on, but I must be doing something wrong. Bob asked me if I'd programmed them first, but of course, I don't know how to do that! Hmm. So I'm stuck with a full hard drive and a full camera card. And no new pictures.

I did paint the area over the fireplace, and I've waffled a couple times already on the color I chose, but I think Bob doesn't like it, so we'll keep looking.

The chimney's done, and we'd burn a fire in it (the fireplace, that is) ... if we had firewood cut to size, and fireplace tools, and a screen. We're both pretty pleased with how it turned out.

We're getting close to having the roof done. In fact, it may be done already, but it's drizzling, and I haven't gone out to check. The roofers seem like good guys, which is good, since I don't really like having ladders set up outside all the windows.

The siding repairs come next, and I can't wait. A little bonus with the siding repairs is that our basement will be a bit brighter. Two of the windows on the east side of the basement are covered by that piece of plywood that covers the area missing siding. So once the plywood is gone, let there be light!

On the family front: Lucy's personality is just busting out these days. She cracks us up all the time, and despite the fact that she's very, very passionate, she's also pretty easy-going. Caroline's vocabulary continues to grow, and her favorite thing these days is to help Bob and me. "Humpy dishes, Momma?" means, "Help with the dishes, Momma?" "Humpy cook?" is the equivalent with cooking. Bob's favorite Caroline-ism is the Pack-n-Play. She calls it the "cwap-n-pway."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I love cars.

I really do. And I enjoy shopping for cars. And driving them. Particularly if they're on the small side, have a manual transmission, and feel zippy.

But Bob and I were pretty committed to our current cars until their respective deaths, so no car shopping for me. Until Bob's accident a week and a half ago. A guy (in a full-size truck) pulled out in front of Bob (in a Toyota Corolla), and Bob hit him. Hard. He said if he hadn't been wearing his seatbelt, he would have ended up in the hospital. I'm glad he was wearing his seatbelt.

So he's fine! Which is wonderful! And they thought they could fix the car until they started the "light tear-down" (I think that's what they called it) and discovered frame damage, etc.

We're now in the position of deciding what to do with the insurance proceeds: fix the car? get a different car? go down to one car? (that one's probably not going to happen)...

But I've spent a bit of time online today, looking at cars, and I'm reminded of something: I love shopping for cars!

Here are the criteria: relatively cheap, high mpg, not too old, not too high mileage, manual transmission, MUST HAVE FOUR DOORS ('cause we'll have three kids, and all...), and the color can't offend my husband.

What car would you buy right now if you were in the market for one?

We're leaning toward a Ford Focus.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pink or Blue?

The ultrasound tech had a heck of a time figuring out the sex of the baby; its legs were crossed, and the umbilical cord was in the way. She kept encouraging it, saying, "Come on baby, are you a pink baby or a blue baby? Let us see!" And finally, she got a couple of shots that were good enough. Had I been the only one "interpreting" the ultrasound, I would still have had no clue. But she was totally completely convinced that it's a boy. So, a boy it is!

I immediately ran to Target to buy some sheets I'd seen a couple weeks ago (they were adorable, and I'd told Bob that if the baby was a boy, I was going to go right away and buy those sheets!). Too bad they didn't seem to have them any more. They're available online, and I suppose I'll probably decide it's worth it to me to pay the shipping and buy them online.

Last night we fell asleep discussing boys' names. Bob's definitely got a favorite, but it's not even close to decided yet. And not to be a tease, but we will keep the name a secret until he arrives...

Whoa. I can't believe it's a boy!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Suspense...

is killing me.

In an hour and a half, give or take, we'll find out if the baby's a boy or a girl. I've been fine for about fifteen weeks, and now I HAVE TO KNOW. Even this morning, I was feeling totally patient. Not any more.

I need to get moving, and be productive, or I'll go crazy.

So I'm going to go wash some dishes and straighten up the living room.

I'm meeting Bob at the doctor's office in an hour and a half. I'm sure I can come up with an hour and a half's worth of work...

Maybe I'll go check the status of the chimney rebuild, or water in (again) my newly transplanted peonies. Or drive myself crazy online by looking up girls' and boys' names, and girls' and boys' bed sheets, etc.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Denouement

Yep. That's right. I studied French for four years, so I can throw out a word like denouement ... after double-checking Dictionary.com to make sure it means what I think it does!

Anyway, the resolution I'm talking about is the whole mirror saga. Turns out I don't like it after all. Whew! That makes it easy. So now we get to talk about other fun or creative things to do with the vast space above our mantel. It may still end up housing a mirror, or maybe it'll be the home for a funky red modern/grandfather clock Bob and I fell in love with at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Who knows. Do you want to see the mirror?

Ok. Here it is. I appreciate all the detail, but I was expecting something simpler, with elaborate molding, but no carving.


And I'm going to post pictures from the farm, for the heck of it.

This is looking at the house and garage from the northeast, from the driveway as you pull in. I have always thought the garage was sweet. And there's a teeny tiny apartment above it where my Uncle Dick lived for a while.


Here's the view from the front. You can see that the part to the left was added on; that was my grandparents' bedroom, and I will never forget sneaking in and out of there, with my sister and my cousin John, while my grandfather was taking a nap, trying not to pee our pants laughing because he snored SO loud.

Ah. the kitchen windows. You can bet that the ivy would not have made it that far with my grandmother around. The little curtains are a small strawberry print, and my grandmother loved them, so though my mom didn't, for the year that they lived there, she didn't have the heart to change them. There was a kitchen table in front of those windows, and we could pack in a lot of grandkids back then.


Here's the cabin. I'm not sure I know why they built the cabin; it's right across the driveway from the house. But I think it has something to do with Grandpa wanting to host fish fries (is that the right pluralization for a fish fry?) for the Lions Club, of which he was a long-time member. At one point in my childhood, my family lived in the cabin for, I don't know, maybe a month or a couple of months, when Dad was trying to figure out whether to take a job there in Murfreesboro, or do mission work in Appalachia. He opted for Appalachia. But this cabin? One room. A wood stove, but no central heat. The bathroom (which I think was added on?) is accessed by going out the side door, into the screen porch, and then opening a door to the bathroom. It shared a wall with the cabin, but was definitely not part of the cabin. I remember it as full of spiders then, and I don't think you could pay me to go in it now.


And here's the lane. My grandmother used to walk this lane, lap after lap, for her daily exercise. Then my mom did it. I have really fun memories of arriving at the farm, after driving for a couple hours to get there, and Dad would stop the car and tell us to get out and run down to the house. In retrospect, what a good way to get two little kids to burn off some steam before bombarding their grandparents...

It's still weird to me that this lane empties onto a six-lane road, across from a huge State Farm complex. It's more than an office, but I'm not sure that it's their national headquarters. I have a funny story about that which I'll share sometime.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Farm

Let me apologize upfront for the lack of pictures in this post. I should have taken pictures today ... but I didn't. I also apologize for the length of the post. I'm pregnant and emotional and overly reminiscent tonight.

Today, Mom, Caroline, Lucy & I went out to The Farm. The Farm is what we've taken to calling my grandparents' house here in Tennessee (the girls and I are visiting this week). My grandfather died in 2005, at age 96. A couple years ago, my parents moved here from Florida, and lived at The Farm for a year. It was really fun to bring Caroline back to my grandparents' house, which was then her grandparents' home.

So, as I said, they lived there for a year, until I found for them the perfect house in town. (Grandpa's farm is on the outskirts of town, with 20 acres.) They love old houses, cabins, bungalows. I found a log bungalow, right downtown. I guilt-tripped my mom for months before they FINALLY went to look at it ... and promptly fell in love. Once they moved, though, I never went back to The Farm. It's been over two years, I've been to Tennessee probably six times per year, and I've never been back. I think it seemed too sad.

Well, today, I went back. Mom needed to go over there, and so we went with her. Caroline and I looked around the cabin that's there on the property (where various family members, including my parents, are storing furniture and miscellany that they may or may not want in the future), and then we decided to go through the house. I love that house. It's a brick cape cod that is just FULL of memories. Though there aren't a whole lot of things I like about it (on the inside) aesthetically, I love that house.

It was heart-breaking to go inside. No one is living there, but the house hasn't been cleaned out. Some of my parents' stuff is still in there, plus there's a lot of stuff upstairs that's been there since my grandmother died in 1988 (or was it 1987?). There's ivy growing over the kitchen windows, so what used to be a bright room is now shady, with weirdly-filtered light. There are dead ladybugs everywhere, and cobwebs, and imprints in the carpet where furniture used to be. A pipe burst in what was my grandmother's sewing room but later became a laundry room, so the hardwood floors are a bit ripply/buckled.

I found my wedding dress in a closet upstairs, along with discarded clothing. That dress has been missing for years, and once, when my parents came to visit, they brought me "my dress"; except that when I unzipped the garment bag, it wasn't my dress, but was instead some of my dad's vestments (he's an Anglican priest). I just happened to find it today in a closet up there.

The lane leading back to the house is, I don't know, long. Let's say 1/3 of a mile. It used to be lined with trees, and honeysuckle grew on the fences. Now it's all overgrown, trees have fallen and lie where they fell, the grass is unmowed, nothing's been pruned. The fences are in disrepair and hang heavy with vines (mostly blackberries, but wildly unpruned ones). It seems to me that whipping that place back into shape would be a full-time job, and then some.

I was feeling positively glum about all of this, how such a happy, joyful home could become so forgotten and uncared for. It was good to have Caroline with me, exclaiming over all the positives. When we came back through the kitchen as we were leaving, she announced, "Nice kitchen, Momma!" I don't know what she saw in the green linoleum, ancient & dirty appliances, ragged curtains, etc., but I'm hoping she saw the beauty my grandmother saw in the room she loved so much, so long ago.

I want someone to live in that house and love it and take care of it and restore it to how it was. My grandmother was a good housekeeper, and the house used to just shine. The "grounds" were well cared-for. There was a pool, and fruit trees. I guess I want somebody to love it like we all loved it. But nobody wants to take it on. It belongs to the four kids (my dad, and his three siblings), and none of them need a house with twenty acres. And none of the grandchildren (I assume) can afford it.

I'm trying hard to not cry like a baby about it.

The Saga of the Mirror

I've really built up a desire for this mirror. I liked the shape of it (based on the paint outline on the wall) the first time I went through the house. "Matt" emailed me last night to say he was going to upload a picture of it, so I've been dying to see what it actually looks like. If he's uploaded it, I haven't found it yet. All of this communication is through Facebook, and I wonder if he added the picture as a wall photo or something ... and I haven't asked him to be my "friend", so I can't see his pictures.

But here's the bummer. I figured he would ask more money than I want to pay. I was expecting three figures. Turns out he paid (apparently) four figures. He's asking less than that, but more than four times what Bob had said he might be willing to pay. There's no way we'd pay what they're asking.

The mirror is made of oak, and (according to their description) complements all the woodwork in the house. It's five and a half feet high (taller than I am!), and weighs over 150 lbs (more than I weigh!). Part of me's thinking we should just go back to my original plan, which was to have Bob build something just like that mirror. Maybe we should. Or -- how much lower do you suppose they'd go? I do NOT want to offend them. But that's a buttload of money for a mirror.

Bob's never particularly cared, so after hearing the price, he is just pleased that it's out of the question. Me, I can't quite let it go yet.

Monday, March 30, 2009

House Colors

So when we went to Home Depot the other day to look at paint colors, we reached no consensus whatsoever for the exterior of our home.

Bob is adamant about not having a builder's neutral, and I told him I wanted to be able to say "we have the blue house on the right," or "we're the yellow house," etc. Yesterday, on our way out of town to the IMA, we took pictures of some house colors we liked. I took all these pictures, and you'll just have to prepare yourselves for the photographic excellence that follows:







I know. We have a huge range of colors, right? Wrong. Turns out I pretty much like the same colors, over and over. Should I bust out? Paint my house a bold color? Not like, hot pink or anything, but maybe a nice blue, or cheerful yellow?

The good news is, we're not to where we need to pick house colors yet. The roof color has been selected (it's a shade of gray), the new gutters will be white. The replacement siding for the hole in our exterior wall will come unpainted ... and then we need to paint. But we'll have the fireplace/chimney guys here all this week, and then two weeks after that, we'll have the roofing/siding/gutter guys here. So we have time.

But still: looking at these pictures makes me bored.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chimney. Or not.

Today, the chimney guys arrived to set up scaffolding at deconstruct the chimney. They got here around 8:30 and were gone by 12:30. The chimney is gone. Well, what was above the roof is gone.

After he was done, the main guy working this morning informed me that his boss really had wanted him to come later in the week, since we're expecting rain the next couple of days and we have a gaping hole in the roof, now... His boss, the owner of the company (and a man we really like), is on vacation this week, taking his daughter to see the ocean. He's not starting the rebuilding of the chimney until next week, when he's back in town.

Seriously, the guy told me to keep an eye on things and call him if we have water pouring into the attic. Yeah, I think I will.

He covered the hole with plastic and "secured the plastic" with bricks, but the chimney (or lack thereof) is at the base of the roof, so I'm assuming any water would just run under the plastic on its way down the roof. I'm not too pleased about this.

Here's the before picture:


I'm also a little nervous about having scaffolding outside the house for a week or two. God forbid, what if someone climbs it and falls? Would that be covered by the chimney company's insurance, or our homeowner's insurance? I need to stop thinking about this, or I'll freak out. I mentioned my concern to the chimney guy, and he offered to put some yellow caution tape on the scaffolding. Yeah, that'll keep them out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Roof Shingles, Paint Colors, Chimney Work

Yeehaw! We're about to see some forward progress (perhaps only because we're paying other people to do the work!).

Today, we signed and sent back the estimate for the chimney work that we're having done. The chimney needs to be rebuilt down to just below the roof-line; the firebox floor is not fire-ready (as in, it's just floor tile, not a fire-resistant fireblock), so it needs to be rebuilt; and the chimney itself needs a stainless steel liner, since the boiler and water heater vent into it, and that moisture causes damage to the masonry... When I saw the cost of the stainless steel liner, I immediately thought we'd just eliminate that part of the job -- until I rethought it and decided we've seen enough short-term fixes in this house and the last one. It's time to think about the long haul. That liner will significantly extend the life of the chimney. So anyway, they start next week! The scaffolding goes up, the chimney comes down, and then: a new, rebuilt chimney. We opted to go ahead and pay the extra to have the chimney replicated exactly (it requires special brick), since we have the original blueprints to the house and want to "honor the history"...

Tomorrow, our roofing/siding guy is coming over so we can pick shingle colors. (As a quick aside, he counseled Bob, "Let your wife pick the color!") Bob just called me from work to say, perhaps we should think about exterior paint colors before we wed ourselves to a shingle color? Since I was thinking the same thing, we agreed to go to Home Depot tonight after a quick dinner at Fazolis. I've been itching to go to Home Depot...

Anyway, once the chimney work is done, we'll start on the roof and siding, and I CAN'T WAIT. I really am tired of identifying our house as the one with 12 different paint colors on the outside, and plywood on the side of the house. Not to mention the fact that pieces of shingles seem to magically appear on the ground around the house all the time. That doesn't seem good.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

House Updates

To tell the truth, there haven't been that many house updates since we moved in in December. I am not discouraged, though.

Yesterday, I saw a high-school-aged boy coming up our front steps and automatically assumed who it was: let's call him Matt*. Matt's the boy who used to live here. He was stopping by for the pictures Bob had found while cleaning closets when we first moved in. I've mentioned it before, but I was amazed at how gracious this kid is! (I've communicated with him via Facebook once or twice, re: the pictures.) Caroline met him, and then Lily, the Great Dane lumbered down the stairs. She is usually annoyingly friendly/curious/protective when someone comes to the door, but she glanced at him and just headed on into the kitchen (the opposite direction of the front door). I told Bob that it seemed like she just knew he was a good guy.

*Not his real name.

Anyway, enough about Matt's goodness. He glanced around and mentioned that it looked pretty much the same ... yep, we've not done much yet! I asked him about the spot over the fireplace; there was clearly a huge frame over the fireplace. It had been painted around more than once, and I have been assuming it was a mirror. He said, yes, it was a mirror, and he thought his dad still had it and was planning to sell it. Under normal circumstances, I'd be annoyed, because the mirror looked like it had been built-in, so it should stay with the house! I know these things; I'm a realtor! But... this family lost their house to foreclosure, had a $14,000 federal tax lien on the house, which we discovered when we had title work done, and recently, I discovered the sheriff had delivered a court summons (rubber-banded to our front door) for Matt's dad, due to failure to pay according to a credit card settlement.

The reason I can't get over Matt's "goodness" is that it seems to me he could be really bitter about all this. I'm sure their life has changed a lot in the last year; they lost their house, they can't pay their bills, they're getting sued by a credit card company... and Matt's wondering if I've met the neighbors yet, because they're so nice! Seriously, I'm impressed. Anyway, I told him I'd check with Bob, but we might be interested in buying the mirror from his dad. He told me it came from a bar in Chicago. I'm liking the sound of this more and more... we could maybe help them out a little, and end up with a cool (huge) mirror with a neat history. I've also realized that the mirror was not original to the house, and there's no reason to have expected it to stay with the house. All that to say that I emailed Matt this morning and told him we'd like to at least see the mirror, or a picture of it.

Bob and I hung the porch swing this morning. We've brought it with us from our first house, and we love it dearly. Caroline and I sat in it this morning and watched cars go by.

This is depressing. I really thought I had at least a couple of things to mention in this list of things we've done to the house, but nope. Nothing. Maybe we can change that soon. I'm itching to spend some time at Home Depot soon, looking at paint colors.

Oops-- I've got a baby waking up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Budget

Bob and I have some financial goals for the next couple of years, and we're working the kinks out of our new budget. It's really nice that we're getting a huge tax refund this year. As I was thinking about it and discussing it with Bob, though, I realized that it would be wiser to decrease our withholding, rather than, in essence, loan it to the government all year. So... I did the math, projected what our 1040 might look like next year, and then divided excess being withheld by Bob's 26 pay periods. What it amounts to? A small raise. But a raise that's significantly bigger than the raise he actually got this year. How fun!

Bob's talking a lot about how he'd like the budget to spread from money to time and space (the house), as well. And I'm thinking about the environment, while we're at it. For Christmas, Ellen gave me cloth grocery bags and cloth napkins, and I love using them. We're also trying to be more diligent about recycling everything we can (before this year, I've never really recycled much paper, but now I'm recycling every catalog that comes through the door, plus cereal boxes, etc.). And, we're trying to see how much we can change our energy bills by not leaving unnecessary lights on, and by turning down the thermostat when we go to bed.

As an aside, when you say "turn down the thermostat", do you mean turn down the power, so the furnace/AC isn't working as hard, or do you mean turn down the temperature? I think I'm inconsistent ... but convinced I'm right, whichever way I use it. Ugh. I always think I'm right.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A gracious high school boy!

I'm thrilled to report that I got a Facebook message back from the boy who used to live here. He does want the pictures back, so he's going to stop by sometime.

You know how worried I was about offending or hurting him? His email was very gracious, saying he hoped we liked the house; that it's a neat house, and "you gotta love the big backyard" ... I was impressed. It made my day.

And it goes down on the list of evidence that Facebook can be a good thing. I know, it can be a waste of time, but it can also be GOOD!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another touchy subject

The house we now own was a foreclosure. We know that a family lived here. It was a sad thing for us, knowing that we were getting a "good deal" because of someone else's misfortune.

As Bob was cleaning the closet in [what I call his office and he calls] his study, he came across an elementary school yearbook from a while back, and some school pictures from Jeff High School. I wanted to give these back to the boy who lived here, but I didn't know how to go about it! My concern was that by trying to get in touch with them, I might bring up more grief that they lost their house... but I didn't want him to lose those pictures forever.

So I just tracked the boy down on Facebook and sent him a message. We'll see what happens. He may not even want the pictures -- but he might! I know that I wouldn't want to lose my elementary school yearbooks, dorky though I was. Anyway, I hope I haven't rubbed salt in any wounds, and I hope he takes my message in the spirit in which it was sent.

What more can I do?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Should I continue the list?

The latest, helpfully passed on to us, since they didn't tell us this first-hand:

do they know they're going to have three in college at the same time?

is Annie going to be ok? Didn't she just have a baby?

The answer to both, of course, is yes. I was told, shortly after marriage, by someone I won't name, that I have good hips for childbearing. Just what I'd always wanted to hear. But the truth is, I handle childbirth pretty darn well. And by the time I give birth, Lucy will be about 18 months. That's more than enough time for my body to recover from the last birth. Good grief: some people get pregnant right after giving birth! (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Now, to try to get out of my grouchiness, I'm going to include an email from my friend Lara:

"oh, just wait 'til you're having your 5th! ;)

we were afraid to tell anybody...friends, family, even the church, for fear of what people would say (and in front of our other children) or even for what they would think. there are some serious cultural prejudices against having more than the allowable 2.2 children. but we found that how people responded had much to do with how we told them the news, so we took to (1) having the children spread the word as much as possible- they were so overjoyed, who could possibly be anything other than happy for us? and (2) just not telling people who we thought might not respond positively until we knew we could handle their negativity in a positive way. in fact, although we usually tell really early on, this time we didn't go public until the second trimester when i was no longer sick and exhausted, so i could beam at them and tell them with all sincerity how great i felt.

people's comments often reflect their own values and priorities, so remembering that can help you let the comments roll off your back like water off a duck, or whatever the silly expression is. the college tuition person is thinking financially, not relationally. your children will be so close to each other! they can hold hands through some of life's tumultuous seasons. they will be there for each other during some critical developmental periods. i know i don't have to convince YOU, i'm just trying to help you see that people miss the best stuff when they focus on one small detail that seems important to them. i love the discouraging comments about how you only have two arms- what will you do with three small children in a parking lot? there is no end to the insensitive things people will think to share aloud with you, but eventually they'll see your joy and the beauty of your family, and they'll forget all about their negative assumptions.

my favorite retort for the really insensitive comment is, (and i'm not sure i've been brazen enough to actually utter this myself, but it makes me laugh to think of it in the proper circumstances), in a very sweet voice, "did you mean to say that out loud?" heh heh heh.

thank God for your baby, and don't let anyone steal your JOY!"

What a nice email to open this morning...

And, by the way, Lara's having her fifth; I'm pretty sure we're NOT planning on five.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Socially Awkward

So Bob and I have learned, really quickly, that people don't know what to say when you announce you're having a third (God forbid!) child. There are a couple standard responses:

1. I hope you don't mind my asking, but was this planned?
It is implied that either yes or no, we're idiots.

2. Wow!
In other words, they have no idea what to say, but we are probably idiots, and they're hoping we'll take their single-word response however we wish, as in, wow, that's great!, or wow, that's too bad.

3. (and I'll confess I don't really know how this gets communicated, but) Can you afford to have three kids?
Clearly, it is highly irresponsible of us.

It does take a bit of the fun out of telling people; in fact, Bob's ready to just stop telling people. I can't decide if it's better to beat people to the punch and save them the "embarassment" of asking an [unbelievably personal] question by saying, "And yes, it was planned."

Apparently, it's socially acceptable to have two children, but three is pushing it. A family at church (with three children) says that once you have your third, you've joined the "crazies". Perhaps so.

I've heard people say "I love so-and-so so much, I just can't imagine having another..." And I guess I feel the opposite. I love our girls so much, I can't wait to meet number 3. Social impropriety, and all.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I am so happy!

I'm 10 weeks pregnant, and we had our first OB-GYN appointment today. Everything looks great! We saw fingers, toes, the brain, the spine, we saw the baby moving around. I cannot describe how exciting this is!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's been too long...

When I started this blog, I envisioned myself blogging daily. That does happen. Sometimes. But I think I've been feeling uninspired since I can't find the freakin' cord for my camera to link pictures on here...

Anyway, this will be a random, train-of-thought post today.

It's snowing outside, little snowflakes that are coming down rapidly. It's beautiful. I hear we're supposed to get somewhere between three and five inches. I'm lovin' it, to quote the McDonald's campaign [that I don't get at all]. Seriously, it's hard for me to imagine loving McDonald's.

I fought the gas company, and I WON! When I called in early December to turn on the gas for our new house, I requested budget-billing, where they average your annual use and then charge you 1/12th each month, rather than paying ungodly amounts of money for gas in the winter. Since we have only ever lived in buildings built before 1920, we tend to have high ceilings, big (drafty) windows, and high gas bills. Anyway, last week, we got our first gas bill. WHOA... not a budget bill. It was a horribly high number, and I'm hoping it's from a combination of the heat being set on 80 (we're not sure how long it was set that high-- it's low enough for Cecil to reach the thermostat, and we should definitely change that) and from the back door being left ajar on the coldest night (so far) of the winter.

I called Vectren and said, we're supposed to be on budget billing! I was told that no, we were signed up for e-billing (where they email your statements), but not budget billing. She gave me a couple different options, none of which were acceptable to me, since WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ON BUDGET BILLING. So she offered (with a sigh) to research the phone call when I requested it. I gave her a window of about a week, during which I had called. She needed to know the number from which I called (I think it was Brian & Michelle's?), and I wasn't even sure about that. A couple days went by, and I assumed they weren't going to call back. But then they did, and sure enough, the records showed that I had requested budget billing! Woohoo! That just cut my bill for this month by three.

Confession: my Christmas tree is still up. I'm going to take the lights off today so Bob can drag it out to the street tonight. But I'm not really ready. Since I bought the tree by myself and we weren't here for Christmas and didn't even celebrate it the way I had envisioned (in our living room, with a fire in the fireplace), I feel like the tree isn't done... But the tree is done. It's incredibly thirsty and droopy. Objectively, it looks bad. But I still don't want to take it down.

Another confession: I want to be a Starbucks barista.

Here are some shots from Thanksgiving down in Evansville. We had a great time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stole from Michelle's Blog

You're supposed to copy and paste into your own blog, then boldface what you've done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower-- yup. On the beach, no less. It was glorious.
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo -- does it count if I was in 4th grade and it was for Mass?
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch--knitting, breadmaking
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning-- I was pregnant. It was not fun. Note to self: Wendy's salads? Not again.
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 -- I've slept on a train in the middle of the night ... but never on an "overnight" train.
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked-- sort of. I took a ride from a stranger. I was out running in FL with my dog, and he collapsed. (It was hot, and we'd gone too far for him.) I was really scared for him, so I asked a stranger to drive us home.
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon-- for me, it was harder than childbirth.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29 Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
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
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41 Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46.Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top 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
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
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
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy -- the girls love "Momma's bear" aka Fluffy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
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
79 Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
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
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
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 lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

There are definitely some things on here that I want to do.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Small Victory

We've been in the house since December 18th. Today I found a pair of scissors! It's hard to make it through the Christmas season without them, but I "made do" with the kitchen shears I had unpacked right away.

Still no luck with the camera cords. I'll keep looking.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Settling In

I think blogs without pictures can get old, fast, so I apologize for the lack of pictures. I'm taking them; I just can't find the cord that connects the camera to the computer. I hope to upload some pictures soon.

I've slept in the new house nine nights, now; Bob's slept here six. (He went to Pennsylvania for a retreat, and I stayed in the house alone with the girls -- and the cats -- and the dog-- for the first three nights.) I had announced in November that I wanted to have a New Year's Eve party in the new house. Bob and I both were disappointed that we never really had people over to the old house, and I wanted to start this one off with a bang. At the time, we were planning to close November 21st, so it seemed reasonable. Then the closing was going to be December 1st. Then December 9th. Then, finally, December 17th. And after staying in the house for a couple days with two girls and without Bob, I hadn't gotten much unpacking done. And then we took off to Tennessee for a week... coming back the day before New Year's Eve.

To say that December 31st was a mad dash, start to finish, does not adequately describe it. Bob had to work, at least part of the day, and he was on-call because someone was dying, and his wife was saying (desperately), "I need your help!" I wish that I had propped up our little video camera and recorded Wednesday afternoon, then sped it up with a musical background, for your viewing pleasure. The transformation of the house was amazing. Almost everything we own was in the living and dining rooms at 3:00pm; by 8:30, Bob had distributed everything to its rightful location, I had prepared some munchies, and we were relatively ready for the party. That I had forgotten to unpack glasses and wineglasses was a minor detail. And forgotten, despite specifically discussing it with Bob, to buy any beer.

I had a great time. It was fun to ring in the new year and the new house with our good friends. I was sorry that some people couldn't make it, but we still had a good time. If only Bob hadn't had to run back to work for an hour and a half ... but he did make it back in time for the countdown, and the champagne in plastic cups.