Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

It's the end of 2010, and all of a sudden (as in, yesterday), we realized that we were about to miss the chance to throw a Centennial Party for our house.

Our first house was built in 1909 ... but we sold it in 2007.

Our second house was built in 1912 ... but we sold it in 2008.

This house was built in 1910! So this was our shot. I sent out an email, and then started calling people, inviting them to celebrate with us. Even though it's New Year's Eve, I could justify having an early party since it's really just a house party. By 9:30, people had left, and I had changed into a brand-new pair of black maternity yoga pants (thank you, Laura!). I'm sitting in the living room, all the lights off except the trees (which put out a lot of light), and Bob's snoozing on the couch.

The kids are in bed, and I just threw out the remainder of the cake, since Lily decided to sample a chunk of it.

We don't have people over much, but we should. Not only do we enjoy it, but the scramble to get things done around the house is good for us.

Not that we got much done around the house, but we had fun.

I'm dreading taking down the trees. If it were socially acceptable, I'd keep them up all year round. Which would be bad for so many reasons, not the least of which is that these trees are really dry already. They just wouldn't make it...

(That's tree #1 on Christmas morning, while the kids were still sleeping hard, recovering from the late Christmas Eve service.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Some are silver, and the others gold"

Old friends are the best.

About a week and a half ago, I got an email out of the blue from my friend Chris. We were really close friends at the end of high school and into college, even though we ended up at colleges far away from each other. I hadn't seen him for something like five or six years.

The subject of the email was "Would you like to have lunch on the 17th?" He lives in DC, so I wasn't sure what he meant. The rest of the email said, "I'm serious. I have a voucher for Southwest that expires soon, and Indianapolis is the cheapest place to fly from BWI. I'd have to leave and come back the same day, but I can get a flight that arrives at 10:45 and leaves at 5:15."

I immediately replied, "Yes! Absolutely."

And then I started planning how to make it work. I really wanted some time to catch up with him without three kids interrupting, so I was able to line up childcare from 9-1, and then Bob watched them from 1-2. This gave me time to drive to the airport, bring him to our town, and take him to lunch. I gave him a really quick tour of our old neighborhood, and then brought him to our house where he got to see Bob and meet the kids. We spent maybe a half hour here before packing up the kids and heading back to the airport.

It was such a treat to see him. You know how some friends, you can just pick up where you left off years ago, and it's as if there was no gap? That's how it was for me. And we had a lot of catching up to do.

His dad died three weeks ago, and I was really sad to not be able to fly down to Florida for the funeral. I really liked his dad.

And it's crazy that I have THREE CHILDREN he'd never met. I think the only disappointing thing was that he didn't get to meet our cats, and he's a cat-lover. Other than that, the day was perfect.

Sometimes I get caught up in the daily tasks, and my life becomes drudgery. I forget to schedule things to look forward to, and that makes for a monotonous life.

Today? Today was like balm for my soul. I love that he thought to propose this plan. I love that we made it work. That it was fun, not too hurried, not awkward. I love friendships that bypass long distances, time apart, and totally different lives and just pick up in the now, with common ground we shared ten-plus years ago and the fun of being together again.

Dear Chris, thank you for coming to visit. And I hope we take a trip to DC sometime soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to do?

My to-do list is so long that I don't know where to start.

Cleaning the kitchen and starting some laundry would be a good beginning, I'm sure.

But the bathrooms need to be cleaned.

I need to take a huge load of stuff to Once Upon a Child.

We're all still recovering from the yard sale on Saturday. I couldn't sleep, so I got up at four, went outside, and started setting up. I worked straight until 4pm. I just barely broke even. My mother-in-law made $200. Was it worth it? Yes, I suppose so, but it was awfully disappointing. I had advertised a bunch of children's clothing, and I really expected young mothers to come. I had NONE. I think I sold maybe five articles of clothing. Woohoo.

Meanwhile, I unpacked 14 boxes of my mother-in-law's books for people to look through, and then we had to pack all of the left-overs up again (maybe 12 boxes? or more?) for Bob to take to a used bookstore up the hill. (No. Let's be honest. Bob packed all those boxes at his mom's house. Hauled them to our house. Schlepped them up the hill to beside our front porch. I unpacked them. Then he packed them, schlepped them down the hill, loaded them into the van, took them to the bookstore, and unloaded them again. I had the easy part of that job...)

After the yard sale, it had been my intention to give all the left-overs to a friend of mine for a yard sale to raise money for the LLS Team in Training, but since what was left over was junk (except for the clothes), I just took it to Goodwill as soon as the sale was over. The immediate closure was very satisfying. I would have gone to Once Upon a Child immediately, too, but there wasn't time. So I have tubs and tubs and tubs of clothes on the dining room window seat, and apparently those tubs are calling to my children, "Come and play with me! Throw me all over the floor! Momma won't care!" Except I will. I promise.

I just finished rearranging the guest bedroom to make room for an antique oak dresser that my mother-in-law doesn't have room for anymore (and that Bob and I love). I like the way the room looks so much that I'm tempted to go ahead and paint the room to make it lighter & brighter ... though, honestly, I really should finish the chair first. Yes. Must finish chair.

And I need to bake muffins for Caroline to take to school tomorrow for snack. And I need to locate and fill out the form for Picture Day tomorrow.

And I need to find babysitters so that I can attend my mother-in-law's two closings this week, plus Bob's fraternity reunion Friday night, plus maybe an evening out for me on Tuesday? Bob's going out of town, which is horrible timing since he'll actually be out of town when his mom moves, but it's been scheduled for months, way before she had any idea she might be thinking of moving.

This move has been really unsettling (I know. Shocking.) for my mother-in-law, and for us, too. We'll all be happy when she's settled in to her new place. I think she's going to love it there, but initially, I think just some stability will make her happier.

Goodness. I'd better stop talking about doing things and start actually doing things...

First things first: give Caroline a refill of cranberry apple juice. Then: prioritize the to-do list.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time's a' Wasting

So I think I'm on something like Day 47 with the chair now. Please don't tell Bob. I really am making progress, and I'm beginning to enjoy it. This is the fun part! Pulling staples out and removing the nasty old upholstery fabric was definitely not much fun. Retrieving someone else's candy wrappers, silver chains, and loose change from the depths of the stuffing was pretty gross.

But putting new fabric on and seeing it fit nicely? That's fun.

The chair's on hold, though, for a couple days.

I'm having a garage sale tomorrow. My mother-in-law is moving and downsizing, and her neighborhood doesn't allow garage sales, so I told her we could sell her excess at our house ... and that gave me a good excuse to round up all OUR excess. And apparently, we have a lot. Like tons of clothing that the girls have outgrown. Like 50 pairs of pajamas. Fifty! Crazy.

So I stayed up late last night, sorting clothes, making price lists, putting price tags on the non-clothing-items. All of our stuff is ready to go. Today, I'll work on my mother-in-law's stuff. About 2/3 of it is on our front porch, and I need to go pick up the rest of it today. (Except for her books, which Bob will get later. I packed two boxes of her boxes the other day, threw out my hip, and started having contractions. I'm only 22 weeks pregnant. It's a little early to go into labor without due cause.)

So, that said, I better get a move on.

I know I've mentioned before how much my grandfather enjoyed making money. Well, apparently, I do, too. I'm excited about this garage sale, in a way that's fairly abnormal, I think. I always wanted to be a cashier but never was, so there's that part of it. There's the organizational part of it, which I enjoy. And there's the profit! Woohoo.

Bob's hoping we make at least $100. I think we'll fly past that number, but we'll see.

Off I go to take a quick shower before the little'uns wake up.

P.S. Anyone want to make a guess at our profit number? And, should I bake and sell cookies? Or leave that to the end and only do it if there's time?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Because I know you're dying to know...

Here's an update on the chair.

This is what it looks like right now. (And what it's looked like for about a week.)

And here's the fabric I chose, pinned and ready to sew the first piece (the inside of the right arm). Of course, the trickiest piece comes first. (Dear Kate, thank you, thank you, thank you, for the tip about PrudentBaby's how-to's. I followed the instructions exactly for piping, and it worked beautifully!)

I got this fabric for $6/yard. Originally $24/yard.

That sound you hear is me, patting myself on the back.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Nine years ago today, I was getting ready for my Pastoral Counseling class (I was a junior in college), listening to the radio, when I heard the news of the plane crashing into the World Trade Center. It wasn't too long before I heard them reporting it again. (I was only halfway paying attention, and I didn't realize it was a SECOND plane.)

The enormity of it was lost on me at the time. Thinking it was just one plane, I assumed it was a fluke, an accident.

Once I got to class, one of my classmates asked the rest of us if we'd heard about the terrorist attack. I thought to myself, Geez, this is how rumors get started! Something goes wrong with one plane, and next thing you know, it's a terrorist attack!


I spent a good part of the day in front of the TV, and as the day wore on, I couldn't shake my fear that something had happened to Bob. You see, he was living in Brooklyn & working in Manhattan at the time. I emailed him. And waited. And then I called his apartment. And waited. (Phone calls were not getting through. The lines were completely swamped.) Finally, in mid-evening, I got an email saying that he was fine. He'd walked his friend Shira home, and he would call me when he got back to Brooklyn.

I was so grateful. He called, we talked, and when we got off the phone, I finally allowed myself to feel the fear that I'd been trying not to face. What if something had happened to him? It was that day that I thought, "Maybe my sister is right. Am I in love with Bob?"

(She had asked me that, point-blank, in the spring of that year.)

At that point, I'd known Bob for about ten years.

I'd never once thought that marrying Bob could be an option. I had no idea he might have feelings for me.

(As my dad pointed out later, any fool could see I had feelings for Bob.)

Perhaps as a result of Bob's post-traumatic stress, things were said more directly and more quickly than they might otherwise have been. September 11th was a Tuesday, I believe. By Saturday, our cards were on the table, so to speak.

We began dating (long-distance), and were married in July 2002, following a (suspiciously short, apparently!) six-week engagement.

On September 11th each year, I am grateful again that Bob was not near the Twin Towers that morning. I think of my classmate in that Pastoral Counseling class whose father HAD been in the Twin Towers that morning, and who was missing for weeks before they found him in a New Jersey hospital.

I grieve for the families who lost loved ones.

And I wince at the prejudice & hatred aimed at Muslims. Surely we can agree that prejudice & hatred do no one any good?

Friday, September 10, 2010

My life would be improved if...

these three inventions existed:

1. A [safe, of course!] stair-climbing machine for babies. Will would be happy all day, every day.

2. A car-simulator, to help Caroline go down for her nap in the afternoon. At home, she gets tired, but never sleepy. In the car, she's out like a light.

3. Some sort of sprayskirt like kayakers wear. It would attach to the high chair, and fit tight around Will's waist, so that the seat of the high chair would not end up full of smooshed bananas and crushed Cheerios. Yes, the food would end up on the floor, but the floor's easier to clean.

What do you think? Are you with me?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The chair is now stable. I can sit in it, and it doesn't fall over ... or even creak. It's comfortable! I like it.

So the time has come to start the upholstering process.

And I'm scared to death.

It's not even a scary part yet! I need to start taking the old upholstery off the thing, and I'm just completely intimidated.

Buying fabric would be much more fun.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Step 1, Take 2

Y'all might want to say a prayer for me. I'm about to go at this chair with some wood glue.

If I mess this up, I won't be able to look Bob in the eye. (He's skilled with wood-working and is still willing to glue the thing for me.)

But thanks to my [foolish?] pride, I'd really like to do this whole thing myself.

I may regret it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Chair, Step 1

So, as I was loading the chair into the back of the van (and Bob reluctantly came to my aid), I realized that one of the legs was, I thought, loose.

That would have been nice.

One of the legs is, in fact, barely attached. As a result, I don't even know if the chair I rescued is comfortable; you can't even sit on it without it collapsing. At least you fall forward-- I hate falling backward.

Bob wanted to glue the thing for me (less an act of chivalry than a self-protective measure, since I've never glued wood before in my life), but alas, he was headed out of town and did not have the time to do it. But he did give me a pointer or two. Namely, put the thing together, clamp it, and make sure you know what you're doing -- THEN unclamp, glue, and reclamp.

So I pulled back the upholstery to reveal the injury, put the thing back together (this involved a mallet), located the clamps, and secured them. Then I put the chair up on its feet, only to discover that the newly clamped leg is about a half-inch lower than its three siblings. Ta-da! The wingback chair is now a rocking chair!


I think I know the problem, but I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to tackle it yet tonight.

Meanwhile, this is the only thing I've done to the chair, other than look at upholstery fabrics at the store, which was totally cart-before-horse of me. And the clock keeps on ticking.

36 days.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tick Tick Tick...

Nope, not my biological clock.

But the countdown Bob & I agreed on for a chair I picked up off a curb. 45 days. If I don't have the chair presentable in 45 days, it's going back out to the curb.

Questions: Am I skilled enough to reupholster something? (I've never reupholstered anything in my life.)
Will I have the time to get this done in 45 days?
Should I just totally make it mine, or should I run upholstery & stain ideas past Bob?
Is this piece of furniture even worth it?

It has sweet lines, and we could use more soft chairs, either in the sunroom, or the foyer, or both.

Am I crazy?

Bob thinks so. I may be. But at least there's an end to the craziness. 45 days, one way or the other.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


In May 2009, we bought Bob a beater. A really ugly 1987 Toyota Corolla. We'd been a two-car-payment family for too long, and we were sick of it, so when his car was totaled in an accident, we decided to go ahead and pay cash for a cheap car.

I was disappointed. I'm a car-lover, and this car was exceptionally not exciting. Rust, dents, dings. Some clear packing tape on one of the headlights. The car came with a custom-cut piece of wood to prop the trunk open, and it had to be closed just so. Some more packing tape on the ceiling of the car, plus, horrors, no cup-holders.

Anyway, it has served us really well. That little car always starts, always runs well. It is the opposite of zippy, and it's a bit noisy, but it's totally reliable.

In early September, our friend Lindsey is going to England. While she's gone, Bob's going to drive her 2005 Ford Focus. There's no sense in keeping the Corolla. We never planned to keep it long-term anyway. So, late Monday night, (well, technically, early Tuesday morning), I posted the car on Craigslist. No pictures, not a whole lot of details. When I got up Tuesday morning, I had an email waiting for me from a guy who was VERY interested in the car. We exchanged a ton of emails back and forth, and they came to see the car at 4:30 that day.

They pulled up in an almost identical Toyota Corolla. (I said to Caroline, "Doesn't their car look just like Daddy's?" And she said, "No, look at their wheels!" That girl is detail-oriented. They had much, much newer tires.) Turns out they were shopping for a car for their son who's about to start his senior year in high school. We really liked them.

They took it for a test drive, and then came and picked it up this morning to have it checked out by their mechanic. They called me this afternoon to say that their mechanic said there was nothing wrong with it beyond old age: that it was safe and would be reliable, and was a good deal. So they just came by with $650 cash.

We bought it for $525.

My grandfather, who loved to make money, would be so proud. Who makes money on a 23-year-old car?

Grandpa, I've never forgotten the day that, as you were pulling out of the driveway, you yelled back to me, "Buy low, sell high!" Of all the parting words, those were the ones you chose. I sure do miss you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Garden Update

I've been letting my fears get the best of me.

You know, we have snakes in our yard. And I've been afraid from the start that the snakes would end up in the garden, and I'd reach into some plant to get a veggie, and I'd touch a snake. I'm not actually afraid of getting bitten; they seem as eager to get away from me, as I them.

Anyway, as the plants have gotten bigger (and bigger) (and BIGGER), my fear has grown. I've failed to mow around the beds, since the plants are growing out into the "paths" and I don't want to mow part of my squash (or zucchini, or cucumber) plants along with the grass.

So, the grass around the beds is overgrown. The plants are huge and overgrown. And today, I decided I should do something about it. I got out our little reel mower, thinking it might be easier to control than our heavy, self-propelled mower. I did a bit of weeding. I threw some overgrown squash & zucchini in the compost pile. (The snake skin on top of a zucchini did nothing to allay my fears.) And I started mowing a bit. All went well until I realized there was a snake in the blades of my mower. I stopped immediately, and it slithered off ... into my zucchini plant. Shudder.

I did a little bit more work before calling it a day. It's hot out, and I just didn't have it in me to stay out for too long. I'm maybe a third of the way done with weeding & mowing. Well, no. Probably a fourth. I did stop to harvest some zucchini, though ... after carefully checking to make sure I could see no snakes.

Next up: zucchini bread!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Sunroom

We're not done with it yet; Bob does not like the color I chose for the room, so it will probably get repainted, but it's still progress. I did not like the yellow.

Here's the before:

And here's the after:

Next up: changing out this light fixture. Not my style.

Monday, July 26, 2010


So for Christmas, Jon & Tomo gave us a gift card to the Four Seasons Hotel, with the hope that we could get away to Chicago for a child-free vacation sometime.

I began hoping we could go for our anniversary in July, but the timing just wasn't right. We ended up scheduling the trip for about two weeks later, when we could go for a Monday-to-Tuesday, and my parents could come up and watch the kids. ("Watch." Heh heh. More like "chase." Or "feed and change and bathe and read books endlessly to.")

I felt free the minute we got on the road. Bob got a little annoyed when we hit some construction on the interstate (or the InterNates, as Caroline calls both the internet and the interstate), but I enjoyed it all. Vacation! No deadlines! Just rest, sightseeing, luxury.

I will admit I felt a bit like an impostor checking into the Four Seasons. My family has always stayed in places that are as cheap as possible, and this is really far on the other side of the spectrum. Everything about the place was beautiful and luxurious. Even the maintenance men wore bow ties.

When we got to our room, we discovered that they'd upgraded us ... as I'd suspected they might. When I booked the room, they asked me if we were celebrating any special occasion, and I told them we were celebrating our anniversary. Sure enough, when we opened the door, this is what we saw:

Yes, champagne chilling in ice, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and a card addressed to us, from the Hotel Manager, wishing us many more years of happiness.

Our suite was gorgeous. A marble-floored foyer, two marble bathrooms, a living room, a long hallway with three closets, and a big beautiful bedroom. (With a mattress so comfortable that I now want to buy the Four Seasons Mattress. I'm pleased to learn that you can!) And our rooms looked out to Lake Michigan.

We walked to Millenium Park, past all the shopping on Michigan Avenue, caught a bus to Hyde Park, and walked around the [BEAUTIFUL] campus of the University of Chicago. We ate dinner in a popular little restaurant there, where the waiters wore t-shirts that said "OBAMA EATS HERE." The food was nothing to write home about, but we had a great time. We caught a bus back to the hotel and crashed for the night.

The next morning, we ate breakfast in the Seasons Restaurant. They seated us at a little table for two by the windows overlooking Michigan Avenue. Our food (and my hot chocolate) was excellent, and we lingered on and on. Our waiter was wonderful, exactly what you want in a waiter, and we had a great time. I don't know when I've had such a relaxing breakfast experience.

After breakfast, we headed to the Apple store, where Bob checked out the iPhone 4, and I looked at all sorts of things. We'd seen a young boy walking with his family on Michigan Avenue, cradling his new iMac in his arms, and Bob couldn't resist a trip there. He could have spent a lot more time there.

We headed back to the hotel, packed up, and checked out. It was sad to leave; there was so much more to explore, and we loved the hotel, and I could have stayed & stayed. (Well, no. I could not afford to stay and stay.) We also were missing our children.

It was such a great time, and now I get it. Before staying there, I did not understand why anyone would pay so much more to stay in a "fancy" hotel. I get it now. Everything about it was perfect and restful, and the service was fantastic. I loved it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Coming Soon

(I hope. I thought I'd have this done by now.)

I'm planning a post on our trip to Chicago, sans enfants. It was wonderful, and I don't have the energy to do it justice tonight.

But soon. I promise.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Typical Annie

We had friends over for dinner tonight, and since Bob's been painting the kitchen & sunroom, I had a lot of work to do before they got here. Like moving furniture by myself (nothing too heavy, I promise!), among other things.

I always forget what I intend to do, so I made myself a list. Lists help me a lot. And I got almost everything done.

It wasn't until I was cleaning up tonight that I realized that my list was out on the counter, in plain view. How embarrassing.

It seems to me that I've done this before. I think the last item on my list should now always be "Put list away!"

But, like the last time I did this, at least they knew I'd taken my shower.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pickles & Ice Cream

Yup. That's right.

There's a bun in the oven. I'm barefoot & pregnant.

We're thrilled, as are Caroline & Lucy. Caroline's had a hard time keeping it a secret, though to be fair, she only slipped once. I was congratulating my brother-in-law's brother-in-law, upon finding out that he & his wife are expecting, and Caroline asked me why I was saying congratulations. I said, "They're having a baby!" And she said, "We're having a baby!" I said, "No, they're having a baby." She said, "We're having a baby!" So much for that. I covered her mouth then, but it was NOT subtle. This was a couple weeks ago. We'd had an ultrasound, which is why the kids knew (they went to the appointment and saw that little heart beating).

Anyway, thanks to weakened abdominal muscles (yes, this is my fourth child), I'm already showing a bit, so Bob said, "You don't have to tell people yet, but they'll probably start guessing." I'd rather tell people.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why I Married Him

Yesterday, when I was at work with Bob for a short time, he gave two different people two different reasons for why he married me.*

It made me create my own list.

I married Bob because:

  • I love him. (That's the quick obvious answer. And true, of course.)
  • He makes me laugh. My family sets a pretty tight boundary around what's funny and what's not, and Bob is always pushing past those lines. I love it.
  • He's very capable. Our dining room table? He built it. My desk? He built it. The lamps in our living room? He built, wired, assembled them. He can paint, he can design, he's an engineer.
  • He is not as introverted as I am. I really love that he can engage in meaningful conversation with just about anyone.
  • In our house, I'm the one interested in cars, and he's pickier about paint colors. It works for us. Of the cars we've purchased together (a Honda Civic, a Ford F-150, a Honda Odyssey, and 2 Toyota Corollas), I selected each of them but MY FIRST CAR, the Civic. He chose that one, convinced that I would love a stick shift, though I could not drive one. It pains me to admit that he was right. If I ever come across a minivan with a manual transmission, I'll snap that baby up.
  • He cares. About the environment, about our family, about the church, about politics, about other people.
  • I knew he'd be a great dad. And he is.
  • He really values that I stay home with the kids, despite the obvious fact that having a second income would make a fairly significant impact on our finances.
I could go on, but I bet he'll be annoyed that I've written this much. He's not a sentimental guy.

*He told one person at work that he married me for my handwriting. He told another person it was because I was so strong. (Which reminds me of when we arm-wrestled for the first time. Have I told that story yet?)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eight Years Ago


I married Bob. July 7, 2002.

And eight years ago yesterday evening, I was lost in Yonkers. I'd dashed out to find a nail place to get my manicure redone. (I'm so not the mani/pedi type ... well, not the mani type, at least. I could get used to pedis.) Anyway, my sister had treated me to a mani/pedi about a week before the wedding, and in trying to drive home (from the salon that very day) (in a truck with a manual transmission, which I really couldn't drive at that point), I messed up the fingernail of my left ring finger. Go figure.

So I had the job redone a week later on July 6th, but then (maybe due to one-way roads? I don't know. I usually have a really good "bump of direction," as my family calls it.) I got lost. I could not figure out how to get back. I think the Metro North Railroad played a role in it, too. I was on the wrong side of the tracks, but couldn't find a way to get across them. I finally stopped and asked for directions at a cell phone store, but the employees were too busy talking amongst themselves to bother with what could be their next customer... They finally deigned to address me, and then, with much impatience, told me how to get back to the SVOTS chapel, where I was currently late for my own wedding rehearsal. By the time I got there, I was in tears. Of course, it was no big deal. They were hardly going to start without me...

I don't remember much about the rehearsal, but then we all headed down to Central Park, where we had a picnic with Chinese take-out. Lots of fun. I wish I could remember the fortune from my fortune cookie. It was hilariously a propos (how do you make an accent grave, for French words??), saying something reassuring about "tomorrow night."

Then Bob headed back to his apartment in Brooklyn, and I headed back to Yonkers for the night.

Does anyone sleep well the night before the wedding? I didn't. It was just so hard to imagine what my life was going to be like. I was 21, still in college, moving from Florida to NYC, marrying a man I'd known for 10 years, but dated for (maybe?) 10 months.

Big, big changes.

The best decisions of my life.

No regrets.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trip to the Park

We live walking distance from the park. We don't go as often as we should. The girls love it. Here we are, ready to go.

Caroline, racing toward her first trip down the slide:

She loves to climb these.

I tried to keep Will in the shade. Poor guy. I bet he can't wait 'til he's racing around with the girls.

Lucy is in heaven at the park. Give that girl a slide, and she is a happy camper.

I wish I'd taken a picture when we got home. Three tired, thirsty kids. I was able to transfer Will to his bed without waking him up. Lucy was eager for her nap. Caroline's still fighting it, but she's not going to make it long.

And sleeping kids make for a happy momma.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Midnight Bandit

Last night, late at night, I was awakened. Bob had checked the weather and determined that the overnight high was only going to be 73, so he turned off the A/C and opened our windows.

Out the windows, I heard the distinct clinking of empty soda cans. Enter the Soda Can Recycler. This has happened at least once before, where I notice that all the soda cans from my recycling bin have disappeared, but the garbage/recycling truck hasn't yet come by. So, of course, nosy woman that I am, I (first woke up Bob and then) hopped out of bed and joined Lily at the window to see who was out there.

I had suspected, as one of my FB friends had suggested, that it was a guy who rides around town on a bicycle, often pulling a trailer of recyclables. I was wrong. It was a large woman with a very small dog, armed with nothing but a large black garbage bag. I give her props for her thoroughness. She went through every single item in both the recycling bins. (Yes, I watched the whole thing.) (Lucky for me, I'd left the front porch light on, so the action was somewhat lit.) And then she and her dog disappeared into the night.

I think I may begin doing what my brother-in-law does: just completely separate all the cans so it's one-stop-shopping for the Soda Can Recycler.

*(I prefer to sort all my recycling, and I do, in the house, but then I throw it all in the bins together for the garbage/recycling truck. I wish our town required sorting, but they actually discourage it. Go figure.)

Monday, June 28, 2010


Today is one of those days when just making it to the morning naptime feels like a huge triumph. Toward the end of my pregnancy with Lucy, my back started killing me. It hurt during my pregnancy with Will. And now it's begun hurting me again. I think it has something to do with routinely walking around with 20-30 pounds of children on my left hip.

Anyway, last night, I hobbled up the stairs to help Bob with putting the kids to bed ... and then I just went to bed. I knew I didn't have it in me for another trip down & up the stairs. This morning, I'm better, but not much. I'm a little leery of pain medication, assuming I'm much more likely to do more than I should, if I'm not feeling the warning pain messages my body's sending me. So I've just been trying to lift the kids as little as possible (thank God that Will can now climb the stairs by himself!). The two little ones are down for a nap, and I'm about to lie down on the couch downstairs.

I'm going to be checking into my insurance coverage, because I believe I'm ready to see a chiropractor. I know they often get a bad rap, but I'm ready to give it a shot.

As my college roommate pointed out, I brought this on myself...

That's 40-ish pounds of children I'm carrying, and I do that more than I should.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Let there be light.

Not too long ago, our neighbor's tree came the rest of the way down.

It took our power line down with it. And damaged the entrance cable. And other stuff that I don't understand.
This happened on a Tuesday. We were without power from about 2pm on Tuesday to about 5:30pm on Wednesday. And hosted a party at 8pm on Wednesday. It was CRAZY, but everything came together just in time. I am awfully grateful for electricity. I really take it for granted, but laundry, cooking, keeping food fresh, having light in the bathroom, cooling the house ... all these things are pretty essential to my everyday life.

I don't have much to report these days. Nothing new to the house, except the new electrical service. But I've been taking pictures of my garden, so that's what you get today.

That's a carrot.

A black-eyed Susan, transplanted from my sister's front garden in PA.

Begonias. (Still waiting to be planted.)

Lettuce. I like it.

Mother's Day rose. Still lovin' it.

A tomato blossom.

An eager cucumber vine.

If I can just keep Lily from destroying any more plants (current count: one bean plant, one squash plant, one leek), I'll be in good shape. The rope fence is not entirely reliable at keeping her out. We're looking into other options.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Change is in the air.

Bob has accepted a new position, and it was announced yesterday at work. He's excited about the new position but sad to leave his current one. He's been there for over six years, and though he's staying within the same company (and in the same building!), he's still grieving .

I understand how he's feeling (well, as much as I can, I suppose), but I'm excited. And the people that we've built relationships with are still going to be there. We'll still get to see them.

Bob won't be on call 24/7/365.
He won't have to leave parties that we are hosting (though, to his credit, he did make it back by midnight on New Year's Eve), or dinners with friends.
He'll be able to choose his hours, work from home if he wants, and figure out how he wants to do this job.
And get paid a little more, too.

I am THRILLED that he'll be working less. As the application/interview/second interview process went on, family time definitely became the biggest plus for me about this job.

He starts July 5th. Bring it on!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Gardens make me happy.

My garden is starting to look like a garden, finally, instead of three burial plots.

Most of my vegetables are up and recognizable, but a couple things are looking like they're not going to sprout, like peppers and spinach. (I should have started both much, much sooner.)

I'm going to take you on a partial tour of the garden today.





And now, we'll move on to the rest of the grounds. Last summer was our first summer in the house, and Bob wanted to let the garden area around the garage do its own thing, so we'd know what we had there. Ooh, boy, did it look junky in all its glory. Tons and tons of weeds, with a few flowers thrown in.

This year, Bob's worked really hard (with the "help" of the girls) to weed the bed and prepare it for new flowers. We left the flowers that were there, of course. And by "we," I mean "Bob."

Some orange lilies:

Pink lilies:

Yellow and red are still waiting to bloom. They're gorgeous. Last year, we put some of the orange & red ones on my father-in-law's grave for Father's Day. I plan to do that again this year, if they're still blooming.

This hydrangea was part of the Easter flower arrangement at my mother-in-law's church. She gave each of the girls a plant, and I put them in the ground in front of the garage. I did a poor job of tending them, and we weren't sure they'd come back ... but they did!

My Mother's Day gift that keeps giving.

2010 is the Year of the Coupon at our house. This tree was free, using a coupon. I thought I'd killed it, leaving it for too long in our refrigerator, and not planting it in a big enough temporary pot. But when I finally put it in the ground, I started really faithfully watering it in, slowly & deeply, so the roots will grow well. And now I'm beginning to see little green buds on what was once a glorified stick. (By the way, these are the first pictures for which I've EVER used the manual focus option on our camera. It's a learning process.)

The first blossom on my new geranium.

The funny thing is, though, that as much as I love plants and flowers, I don't like to have too many in the house. I get overwhelmed by too many houseplants. My kitchen/sunroom have been overrun for months, and I'm dyin'. I'm moving them out. I can't take it anymore. Good thing they can all go outside, this time of year...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The evolution of a geranium

I like geraniums a lot. So I was really disappointed to discover that one of my children had broken off a huge bloom from one of my geranium plants. I put it in a vase with water and left it on my windowsill for a long time--longer than I should have ... but then I noticed it had developed roots! So I planted it and tried again. And again.

This is a newly vased set of four geranium cuttings (actually from one long stalk that snapped off, and then I cut it into sections).

This is a cutting that's been in water for a while. See those roots?

This is a geranium that was one of the centerpieces at my baby shower for Caroline, in 2006. Still going strong.

This is a pot of two geranium plants that I bought at the farmers' market last summer. These things are taking off. (And the pot itself was the first Christmas present I ever bought for Bob. He admired it at a museum, and I went back later and bought it.)

And this: this is a pot with some geraniums that I started in a vase. Yes, that's right. See all those new leaves? And those flower buds? I'm awfully proud of these little guys.

And, because I know you're dying to see it: the pulpit in our foyer. The story on that will have to come another time.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Do you know the children's game Telephone? Everybody sits in a circle, and one person starts a "rumor." They whisper it to the person next to them, who whispers it to the next person, and so on. The last person to hear it says it out loud, and then everybody laughs at how different it is from the original.

Well, this story may be like that. I don't know.

This is a true story. It happened to some friends of the in-laws of a friend of my sister's. (Got that?)

So the family is in Chicago for a day, and they decide to go to the aquarium. They've heard great things about it, and they know their kids will have a good time there. But, they've only been there for a little bit when they realize that their four-year-old is missing. They look for him quickly, don't see him, and grab a staff member from the aquarium to report that he's missing. The staff shut down the aquarium, and they find him THREE HOURS LATER. Ellen, my sister, was telling me this, and I was practically hyperventilating. I cannot even imagine the fear and panic those parents must have been feeling.

So, they finally find him, and they're so relieved that they just leave. The older siblings are a little annoyed because in the midst of all the panic, they never really got to have fun there. They've been on the road for just over an hour, and everybody's kind of zoned out, and the little boy says, "Daddy? Getting lost wasn't the worst thing I did today."

And the dad, only half paying attention, says, "What was the worst thing you did today?"

"I have a flamingo in my backpack."

No one's quite sure what to think. But they have to check. They pull off the road. The dad hops out, runs around to the passenger door, and opens the backpack.

There's a baby flamingo inside.

They turn around and drive back to the aquarium.

They return the flamingo.

They are asked to never return.

True story.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Growth & the Color of the Day

My garden is growing. And, we had to install a "fence" to keep Lily out. After the weekend's rain, though, the rope had stretched enough that she just jumped over it and ran through my garden beds, so Bob tightened it up on Sunday afternoon.

The girls helped me label the seedlings coming up yesterday.

This little zucchini sprout makes me happier than I can say.

And my tomato plants (which, apparently, my dad didn't think would make it!) are doing just fine, thank you very much!
This is my Mother's Day rose. I can't wait to get it in the ground. And I didn't even attempt subtlety when we were at the greenhouse picking it out: this is what I would like for Mother's Day each year. A new rosebush.

Changing the subject: Lucy has been having trouble identifying colors, so I decided we should make flashcards.

Necessary supplies: paint, paper cut to size, paintbrushes, baby food containers for the paint, tape to hold the paper in place on the table, and Caffeine Free Diet Coke.

Caroline was very focused and methodical, covering every inch of her paper.

Lucy's still working on finding a comfortable grip on her paintbrush.

The finished products:

Today's color of the day: