The last few weeks have been difficult. Not because the two houses we own are both wrecks. Not because my children make me think that running off to join the circus would be a move towards embracing a simpler life. Nope. I just haven't been able to play my iPod in the car, because some how the Transpod I use to beam the sound into my radio lost its fuse.
One day I reached down to plug it in and the tip that sticks into the cigarette lighter was unscrewed and lying around the car in three parts. I found everything except the fuse. That was frustrating, but what was even more frustrating was that although I found lots of information about where the fuse was located and how some people have problems with the Transpods blowing fuses, nobody ever bothered mentioning what kind of fuse it was. I had no idea whether I needed a 1 amp fuse or a 10 amp fuse. The manual didn't say and neither did anybody else.
Finally, yesterday I went to Best Buy and made them open up a package take out the fuse and figure out what I needed. For those needing to know -- the Transpod takes a 2 amp, 250 V fuse. Naturally, Best Buy doesn't sell them. But Lowes does. I now have 5 of them, which cost about $2 for the package and several weeks of annoyance.
Work at the Big Purple Money Pit continues. We got the rest of the hall bathroom demolished and pulled out the bath tub. We had considered leaving the tub in place, but are happy that we pulled it out. The joist under it had been cut at some point and it was essentially unsupported. It would have really sucked to start a bath on the first floor and finished it in the basement.
We've almost got our ideas hashed out with the architect for how to finish the back of the downstairs and rework the upstairs.
I must admit that I'm feeling beaten down by the process. It seems like we'll never be able to put the house back in order and live there. Right now, with no working plumbing and several walls ripped out, it may arguably be less valuable than it was when we bought it, despite have a firmer foundation and new wiring.
I know it is now a sounder place and we're getting to the point where we can start putting it back together again, but it still feels like it's not coming together. Sigh.
This is really a question primarily for my female readers.
If you realized one day that the size of jeans you have been wearing was slipping down even with a belt on and causing a crack problem but the next smaller size while fastening and not being uncomfortable caused unsightly bulges around the abdomen, which would you wear?
In other words -- what's worse: A crack problem or a muffin top?
A while back, my parents brought down a load of books they were clearing out. In amongst everything else were three Smurf comic books that once belonged to my little brother. The seven year old has not just read through them, but they have become the newest obsession for an obsessive kid.
Forget dinosaurs, Sandra Boynton, Legos, the Bangles and all his other previous loves. Right now it's the Smurfs. Until I wowed until I wowed him with my mad YouTube skillz and pulled up a Smurf cartoon, he hadn't even seen one. He got interested from the comic books alone. And now he creates new Smurfs and writes Smurf stories whenever he gets the chance.
He even made himself a giant paper Smurf friend (although I hear frequently that this Smurf is larger than life, because a "real Smurf is only three apples tall").
Add to the Smurf craze that we just watched The Princess Bride as a family movie recently, and you get a crazy child running around saying, "Hello! My name is Inigo Mon-smurfo. You smurfed my father. Prepare to smurf!"
What they can't figure out is the proper response to "No more smurfs and I mean it!" Would that be (a) Anybody want a smurf? or (b) Anybody want a peanut? I'm inclined to go with (b), but (a) seems some what logical under the circumstances as well.
Okay, so the picture covered in coal dust isn't really his best look, but it shows how hard he works for us. Today my husband is 31. We started dating when he was 18. Some times that seems like long ago, and other times I can't believe we've been a couple for so many years. With nine years of marriage, four kids, a dog and now a full scale house renovation, we've been through a lot. We do things together as much as possible, and he's the very best friend I can possibly imagine.
As I mentioned below, we had to take down a very large, very rotten tree. It wasn't a particularly nice tree -- just a hackberry, but it was huge. We got the best price on taking it down from a guy known to some as "Crazy Billy."
Crazy Billy might not be what you'd call an educated man and looking at him just might make you think of Deliverance, but he knows trees and he knows how to cut them down safely.
So Crazy Billy and his guys were roping up and cutting the large limbs off the giant hackberry when one of our neighbors to be came running up, demanding they stop immediately and come down. Apparently the neighbor started demanding their license and taking photos of their trucks to document what was going on and when words were exchanged, they went inside and complained to our carpenters about the incident.
Then the neighbors called Justin, saying that it was a "historic" tree and would irreparably change the skyline. They wanted to know who diagnosed that the tree was rotten and noted that "the tree guys didn't seem very educated."
We hate to make enemies with neighbors we haven't even met yet. The other three neighbors we've met have all been extremely nice and neighborly. At least this couple doesn't live right next door. Of course, since they aren't even right next door, one wonders even more at their extreme concern over our tree.
We took pictures of the rot just in case we ever hear any more about it. But I'd rather have angry neighbors than a rotten tree in a yard I hope to let my kids run around.
Since I'm their mother, there is little hope that my children will ever be athletically inclined. However, I do demand that they at least be able to swim a little. My seven year old has been taking lessons since June and has gotten fairly competent, although he still doesn't want to put his face in the water or bring his arms out enough. My four year old started taking lessons in November and spent every week crying and clinging to the instructor even while holding a noodle and wearing a life vest.
This week I decided I had had enough lessons for the younger one with absolutely no progress. I told her if she actually let go of the teacher and floated (with all the flotation devices attached) I would take her to the Dollar Tree and let her pick out a treat. Amazingly enough, it actually worked and by the next lesson she was actually letting go of the teacher for longer periods and not freaking out so much. Finally, I don't feel like every trip to the pool is a waste of money. The dollar spent on crummy plastic junk was totally worth it.
Now I'm trying to convince my two year old that if she'll poop in the potty she can wear pretty Dora underwear. So far she seems more resistant to bribery incentives.
I didn't mean to disappear, but my parents were visiting, I've been trying to do school, the new house has been sucking out a lot of thought, and since we only have one car at the moment, I've been either driving a lot more or sticking around the house. The visitors have gone home now though and I hope that will make things seem a little less crazy around here.
It's an odd phenomenon, but in certain situations total stranger feel they can accost you and ask questions that when properly considered are at the very least impertinent and more likely downright rude.
For some reason, when a couple has more than three children, and occasionally more than two, people they have never met think it is perfectly reasonable to ask whether or not the couple plans to have more children. If one considers this question, it is really asking about the couple's birth control choices and decisions. That is not generally a topic I would discuss with most of my friends and certainly not one with which I chat up the parking garage attendants.
And yet, if a couple has several children, society thinks its okay to ask, "Are you done yet?"
Oddly enough, I am not asked these questions when my children are out in public and acting their worst, but rather when they are at their best. Maybe it is simply out of fear of the terrible howling masses that cling to my pants legs that I am not approached and offered advice and free condom samples when my children are at their worst, but I always wonder why in those times when they act like angels, I frequently ellicit pitying looks and questions that make me think the asker doubts my sanity or ability to control my lustful urges. In their minds, even when children are perfect, four of them is simply too many for any one.
I never mind the comments that I have my hands full -- because I do have my hands full. I like it better when the comment comes from someone opening the door or carrying my groceries than from someone merely observing, but I can tolerate it either way. I like much less questions that are really comments about when my husband and I should cut off the kiddie production. Whether or not I want any more is really not their business, but when I, on occasion, suggest that we're hoping to have at least a few more (which I can't actually say is an accurate statement) the jaw drop that always follows is worth it.
It's rude to ask if I use birth control. It's rude to ask if I'm done having children. If you're going to follow the question of, "Are you planning on more?" with, "I have a dozen and large families are wonderful." I might forgive the rudeness. Otherwise, keep the question to yourself.
My college friend NBS tagged me for a movie meme. He notes that growing up he had abusive parents that wouldn't let them have such things as color TVs and cable. My parents also were of a similar abusive bent and living in a small town, we couldn't even pick anything up with rabbit ears. However, we were allowed to check out movies and I watched a lot of old movies with particular emphasis on Cary Grant, Alfred Hitchcock and musicals.
I have several favorites, but I particularly like Gigi and Auntie Mame. No particularly good reason, but I do like them a lot.
Favorite movie with a religious theme:
I'm sure I could think of something I like better given time, but I'm rather fond of Ben Hur -- more so than Heston's Old Testament epic.
Favorite movie priest: There aren't any truly memorable films about priest that come to mind, although I think David Niven was pretty good in The Bishop's Wife and the priest in The Quiet Man is endearing.
We took almost a month off from school after closing on the new house. I don't think I could have concentrated on everything all at once, so it was a welcome break.
The time has come to start again though and fortunately The First Grader has retained what we learned last semester. Yesterday we did a quick review of nouns and all the poems we memorized last fall. We also reviewed math and history. Today we did the same for spelling and science.
And now we're moving on. We've put nouns behind us and moved on to pronouns. We're still doing ancient history and I'm excited that we've reached architecture of ancient Greece making it the perfect time to visit the Parthenon. If my husband doesn't need the car on Friday, I think we may go see Athena in all her golden glory.
We've finished our study of animals and have moved on to the human body. We're starting with the senses. Today I introduced them with an old favorite book. Then we did an experiment to see how sounds act on the ear drum.
Educationally all seems to be going pretty smoothly. I just wish reports on the purple house were so smooth.
1) What new thing would you like to attempt in the New Year?
Moving without going insane? Hmmm...I think I had better set my goals a little more realistically.
Potty train my two year old? Sure, I've done it before, but every child is different and challenging in new ways.
I'm sure I actually have a lot of answers, but they aren't coming to mind right now.
2) What one new thing do you really, REALLY need (not want, but truly need) to have?
Well, as mentioned below, we could really use a second car that works, although I think we'll be able to get by with one car for a while.
3) What grungy old ramshackle thing do you have that you should replace with something shiny and new but just can�t bring yourself to make the switch?
I would have said the car mentioned above until recently. But I'd be perfectly willing to shove it off a cliff now. I guess I'll have to go with our living room arm chairs, which aren't comfy, have sprung springs and are covered in an ugly gold fabric, but they can be sat on and might be pretty eventually with their channel back shape, if we can ever get around to having them spruced up.
We all know to expect time delays and unforeseen costs, right? Naturally those things are happening. Although things are moving right along and we've had very good luck getting people to come work on the big purple house, but when you clear away brush and find a quater acre of trash, a five foot in diameter rotten tree, and a destroyed fence where you thought it to be intact or when you pull off fake panelling and find studs sitting in dirt, well, these little surprises take time and money.
And when one of the family cars decides to die on the side of the interstate? You just have to be glad it is the ancient Volvo and not the vehicle that can carry the whole family.
In other words, things are progressing as expected in our renovations of the purple house. The HVAC work is finished. The electricians are mostly finished. The porch roof is just waiting for its metal. The back jungle has been cleared and leveled. A foundation guy is going to be taking care of the room that had studs sitting in dirt. One bathroom has been demolished.
Our original plan saw us hoping to move in some time in January. I suppose it should be obvious that that is not going to happen. However, the bright side of moving it a little later is that we'll be ready to put our current house on the market when more people are ready to start house hunting.