Friday, November 28, 2008

Toys? What toys?

We want the box!

Our new television came in today.

The children were less than thrilled...

So...maybe this year we'll save our money and just troll the trash piles after Christmas and pick them up something in cardboard!

On a different note...I happen to be one of those "Audio/Visual" techno geeks. And a girl! Technological schematics do not scare me. Programing a brand new high definition television and blue ray player (it came free with the tv--kind of a sweet deal, don'tcha think?) was a piece of cake. Done. However, placing the batteries in the remote correctly--not so much. Fortunately for all of those involved I had enough faith in my own abilities to realize that the technical difficulty we were experiencing had to be something simple. We all need a humbling moment now and then.

Oh, all right...all I did was push a few buttons and wrangled children away from cables and cords. The Dear Sweet Husband created order out of chaos in the back and plugged everything in. Told you he was my hero.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Book geek meme...

Since the Husband tagged me and has since been nagging me about this I suppose I should play...

Here are some rules:

–Share seven random or weird Book Facts about yourself.
–Then tag seven other people--yeah, well...I don't know seven people. So play along if you want. Though I'd be interested to see Marit's and Melanie's answers on this...
–Notify the seven (or not) others that they have been tagged.

1. I don't exactly remember when I finally was able to look at a page and actually read--as opposed to the memorization and reciting back that I had been getting away with--but I know it was well after I was in grade school somewhere around Primary 3 or 4 (I was in a British school). Oddly enough, I wasn't diagnosed as dyslexic until college.

2. The first time I realized I could actually decipher the words was when my dad was reading me an Asterix comic book (excuse me--Graphic Novel) and he kept skipping over panels. I called him on it. I then proceeded to read through the rest on my own.

3. Once I had devoured our collection of Asterix and Obelix graphic novels I moved on to my sister's bookshelves--Nancy Drew, Madeline L'Engle. Then my mom's library--Victoria Holt, Phylis Whitney. And then my dad's--Clive Cussler, Louie L'Amour, Tom Clancy. By the time I graduated high school I had read through RVA's entire fiction section at least once.

4. I have a stash of
romance books. The historical kind. Manly men in kilts. Pirates and Strumpets. Can't tell you the last time I read one though. Kinda seems wrong to be reading about heaving bosoms while I have children clamoring for my attention.

5. In choosing books I really, really try to stay away from series. Just too much of a commitment for a book. Then there's the waiting--waiting--for the next book to come out. If it does--Robert Jordan.

6. On our bookshelves there are books that I have simply due to the fact that I drew or painted the illustrations. A coloring book. Training manuals. Reading primers. Even a story written by my mom and nephew.

7. Years ago I picked up a Judith Tarr novel in a used book store in Nairobi. Only to come to the end and realize it was merely the first in a series (grrrr....series). After several attempts to locate the follow-up novels, I gave up--these were before the days of Amazon, Google and the bookstore Super Store. Fast forward a few years...I was over at a friend's apartment and looking over his expansive book collection. And there--there was the complete trilogy. And a follow-up trilogy. That friend? Oh, yeah. I married him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So you think you've had a bad day?

I've been up since before 5am...well, almost. BOTH of us managed to sleep through alarms and snoozes because, well, it's just not natural to be getting up at that time. However, we did manage to make it to the hospital on time. Checked the man in. Enjoyed a spectacular sunrise over the river on the drive home. Went about my day. Passed out on the couch while the children ran wild and waited for the phone call from the Husband letting me know the sedation had worn off and he was ready for a ride home.

And then...well, you can read all about his day here. It's his tale to tell. Here's a spoiler: It didn't go so good.

Oh, and he gives the back story on yesterday's court case as well.

That's about all the conversation that's in me. I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oh look! An opinion...

Today I'm thankful for the fact that Miss Sunshine's court case came and went without so much as a hiccup. It had been continued from the 6th and I don't think a lot of people got that memo so there was very little media attention. Husband was professional and spectacular. She was convicted of all but one charge.

Interesting tidbit--the advocate group that originally backed her has since dropped her case and walked away...quickly. Hmmm. Maybe if they had done their research to begin with they wouldn't have accepted her version of events in the first place. But maybe that's just me. They were just so quick to cry "Racism!" that they didn't even look into her public record. But, neither did anyone in the press for that matter.

Of course, she has filed for an appeal. Because, after all--she is merely an innocent victim here.

In other news...

The love of my life is having hand surgery tomorrow. I have to have him at the Veteran's Hospital at 6am. Sweet Shivering Shiva it's gonna be cold! Fortunately (!) we have a friend coming to spend the night in order to be here in the morning with the little ones. I'm ever so grateful I don't have to drag them out of bed, bundle them up and cart them into the VA hospital as well. What a nightmare that would be. We could manage, of course. But I'm so glad we won't have to. Did I mention I was grateful?! The shiny side of this is that he'll be on medical leave for a couple of weeks and then off of the road for a few more. We actually get normal people time together. That's just crazy! Wanna place bets on how long it takes us to run outta stuff to talk about?!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More things handed down...

Jacob has discovered the amazing world of Legos. Not the big chunky ones--those are now being loved and adored by his sister. The real ones--the little ones that cause mind numbing pain when stepped on.

Hmmm...must be genetic....

Though, I didn't get my first set of Legos until the Christmas just before by 6th birthday. Even then, I had to fight off my dad (Hi, Daddy! Excellent shirt!) to actually be able to play with them.

Forget the Barbie cakes--I asked for a Lego cake. My mom (Hi, Mama!), the amazing woman that she is, managed to make Lego blocks from homemade marshmallows.

One of the boxes I pulled down out of the attic for Jacob a few days ago contained the remnants of the very same set I received that year. No small feat considering how many times I've moved in the past 30 years!

Jacob went to bed a little late tonight. We were building a bulldozer.

Edited for correction....I was just informed by a very reliable source that though it was, indeed, my mom that baked and decorated my Lego birthday cake, it was my dad that labored over the marshmallows.

Tagged by the Husband...

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago

- Getting used to using the word "Engaged"
-Feeling so unprepared to be married in a month's time
-Facing possible deportation from Spain
-Enjoying everyday life in the south of Spain again

5 Things on My To-Do List Today

Aside from my everyday list of keeping the kiddos alive...
- Laundry...blah!
-Clearing a space in the new Spear Room for JoAnna to sleep tomorrow night.
-attempting to find childcare for Thursday afternoon...what are the odds?

5 Snacks I Like

- Chevda
-Salt and vinegar potato chips
-JalapeƱo flavored kettle chips
-brownies...mmmm, brownies...
can't think of another one

5 Things I Would Do If I Was A Millionaire

So, ditto on my husband's answers to this one...

- Be debt-free
- Make sure the kids had money for college
- Give some back to the people who have helped us when needed
- Build the house the way we wanted
- Finally travel again

5 Places I Have Lived (for various lengths of time)

- A variety of states in the US...(North Dakota, North Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee, Virgina)
- Spain
- Kenya
- Tanzania
- Nigeria

5 Jobs I Have Had

- Waitress
-Airplane mechanic
-Radio talk show producer
-The Mommy (by far and above the toughest of all!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The taboo subjects...

Normal people have the typical "taboo" subjects--religion, know, the usual suspects. However, unless you are new around these parts (Hi!) then you will know that we really don't "do" normal. Off center, off color and leaning towards the sarcastic and macabre--but definitely not normal.

The Husband and I actually manage to discuss politics and religion--both falling into the "We Don't Agree" file--with respect, honesty and courtesy. Usually. Sometimes. We have been known to bring an end to a discussion with a closing argument of, "Yeah, well. You're Wrong!" (That's the sort of debate skillz a college degree in Communications will get ya!) We managed to make it through the past year of presidential campaign on opposite sides--each for our own passionate reasons--with very little argument or debate. Religion? At the bottom of it all we believe the same things. We just put different labels on it.

Yes, see...we live in peace and harmony. Until this morning. When we discussed the weather.

The weather forecasters are forecasting snow flurries for tonight. I. Hate. Being. Cold. My base layer Capilene has joined my daily pile of clothes. They'll come off sometime around mid-March. Just saying the word Snow sends my tropical blooded self to the internet searching for great, can't-pass-me-up deals to the Seychelles. (Then our bank balance calls and suggests that maybe I just pull on another fleece.) And this Colorado native freak that I vowed to love and adore until the cold, clammy hand of Death ripped us apart? He did a little dance. Not just a little happy dance. A full on In-Your-Face dance.

The temps start leaning towards freezing and yes, it is all his fault. Somehow. Don't bring logic into this! Because then you'd be Wrong.

Oh, fine...I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head and we can afford to turn the heat up. That we weren't stupid and went for more mortgage than we could afford and would now be facing foreclosure. Though, are we going to be rewarded for that in this whole bail-out scheme of the government? No. Whatever.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Community bath...

I am thankful that someone is benefiting from our broken up drive way!

I am also thankful that I cleaned the windows not too long ago and I was able to take these pictures without having to walk outside in the rain and ick.

Friday, November 14, 2008

And the hot water flowed...

We are once again enjoying the glorious thing that is Hot Water--bountiful enough to take a complete shower with. For the past couple of months we've been surviving on 2 minute showers and even then it was a rush to beat the looming threat of a cold shower. Both elements and both thermostats were replaced, and voila--hot water aplenty.

And once
again--a household repair that should have been soooooooo much easier and simpler than it was. There's a shut off valve that had been open for so long that after today's workout of close/open/close/open it is now exhausted beyond the point of fulfilling its duty of keeping all of the water contained. Husband is, as I'm typing, on his way back to Lowe's to pick up a new valve. No more work tonight though. Venturing under the house in the dark is far more than should be asked of any man. But he is on bucket emptying duty for the rest of the night. It's not like Insomnia Man was going to be able to sleep anyway.

I am thankful for the repaired--yet still dieing--hot water heater. I am also ever so thankful that the leaking, rusting appliance, along with the ancient pipes and their valves, is in the basement and can do very little water damage to its surroundings. Except create a moat around the cat box. Hmmm...a new way to Torment The Cat. We'll call that a Bonus--heh, I can be grateful for that too.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To be thankful...

A new group popped up on Facebook recently--Thanksgiving Challenge 2008. The idea is to daily update your status with something that you are thankful for--in honor of the US Thanksgiving Day at the end of the month. Of course, why should I limit myself to Facebook?

I've been reading a good number of blogs recently where someone is struggling. Life is just a little more than they feel they can handle right now. Financially, emotionally. Does it matter? What matters is, I have friends who could use some positivity. Some happy thoughts. Just today I was reminded that everything one works for one's whole life can be gone in a heartbeat. A lifetime reduced to rubble--whether metaphorically or not--someone tonight is struggling to pick up the pieces.

For at least this month--with an effort to continue the practice--I'm going to do my best to post at least one thing I'm thankful for each and every day.

I am thankful for the time I spent playing with my family this evening after supper. All four of us in the living room, three remote control cars and Kyleigh sitting in the middle like some adorable little Godzilla in a striped onesie snatching them up if they got too close. She was quick too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The things we're handed down...

I'm fascinated by the fact that the two granddaughters in this family have both been blessed with the most wondrous red hair. A feature that is uniquely theirs and theirs alone. A recessive Scotch/Irish gene carried and passed on by both my sister and I to our daughters?
My niece is a beautiful girl on the cusp of womanhood. Full of feisty attitude--more than enough to drive my sister (one of the most patient and long suffering people I know) to search for that icepick to gouge out one of her own eyes in order to numb the pain--an attribute that reminds me of...well, me. A feistyness that I lost somewhere along the way. Later regained--but I can't help but wonder what pain and heartache would have been avoided if I had managed to hold on to that attitude all along. And I see that same strong spirit budding in this precious little girl just learning to walk and explore her world.

What else might we have unconsciously given to our children?

Jacob puts his sentences together like I do. Tell Kyleigh "No" and she gives that look her daddy gives when I ask one of my "you're right, I wasn't thinking" questions.

Witnessing the
presidential election fallout over the last week, I hope we pass on tolerance. Acceptance of that fact that all people are created equal. Dislike someone because of their views or politics. Not because of the color of their skin or their gender.

Will they know that there are some things worth fighting for? Not a lot of things--but a few? Even fewer worth dieing for? Will they know that they are the source of their own happiness? Their own joy? Will they know to take care of what they have, what's been given to them? And to be gracious and grateful? Will they know the difference between those two words?

Will they know that they can fly? That they can soar?

All these were handed down to me. The greatest task I face in this life is insuring that my own children can say the same.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am...

A veteran of the United States Military.

I am married to a veteran.

I am the daughter of a veteran.

I am the granddaughter of a veteran.

On Memorial Day we gather together to honor and remember those who went before us. Today, however, is Veteran's Day. Today we honor the living. The ones who returned--whole, scarred or wounded. The ones we served with and fought beside.

For better or for worse, thank you.

Blame it on Casper

Mommy, how do I get to be a ghost?

Sweetie, you have to be Dead. But that, of course, would be violating House Hold Rule #1: Don't Be Dead.

(House Hold Rule #5 is: Don't Pee On The Cat. You'd think we actually wouldn't have to write that one down, wouldn't you?)

So, when I died I'll be a ghost?

Actually, Fruit of My Womb, I think the only people who get to be ghosts are those that feel really deeply they left something undone when they died and they somehow stick around.

So, where will I be when I died?

Ohhhhh....think, think, think! Faster....FASTER....the longer I hesitate the more questions he's thinking up...THINK! Do I go into the whole Heaven and Hell thing? How can I mention Heaven without talking about Hell? And the child is 3 years old! For the love of God, is he really ready for a discussion on Judgment and Eternal Damnation?! They never discussed this in Hermeneutics. That would have been far too practical of a lesson for a Bible college.

I'd like to say that I handled the situation with style and poetic grace. I'd like to say that. Instead, I choked.

After living a very long and happy life, when you die you'll just stay died--peaceful and happy.

Apparently it was a good enough answer and he moved on.

We'll start him on Dante next year.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The trouble with home improvement is...

there isn't ever really a point where you can say, "Yep. That's it. Done."

I may have mentioned in the past that we live in an 80-year-old house. Yes, we made the conscious decision to purchase an older home. New builds in this area had an appalling lack of character and trees. We knew, sorta, what we were getting ourselves into. The house had been renovated before we made our purchase. The contractor made it look real pretty. But a few months in we realized that he'd also made sure he didn't use up a lot of his employer's money. The best thing he did was paint over all of the horrendous color choices of the previous owner and refinished the hardwood floors (and they are beautiful). Other than that he just covered up a lot--sort of like slapping bandaids on everything. The downstairs bathroom would be a prime example.

So the latest project really wasn't huge--certainly not by our standards--but it still took time.*

There are two bedrooms downstairs. The smaller room on the back of the house was our office and the larger front (streetside) room was the guest room. Or Spear Room, as Jacob labeled it. We kept a spear in there--ergo...Spear Room. (I grew up around the Maasai. Of course I have a spear, or two.) Since my parents (Hi, Parents!) moved out and took their furniture with them the room has sort of been a catch all type place. It actually worked well as a holding room for the bathroom reconstruction. But the plan all along was to move our office into the larger room. And so, tonight I'm sitting in our new office, sprawled out on the chase lounge and enjoying my new surroundings.

Of course nothing in this house is ever as simple as that. There was a crater size hole in the plaster behind the radiator that needed fixing. We'll call that stage Fun With Plaster. And, of course, by "Fun" I mean "I'd Rather Stab Myself In the Eyeball With a Hotdog Skewer". Numerous coats of plaster later the wall is fixed and non-crumbling, painted a delightful shade of gray with a even more delightful zero VOC, non-toxic paint. The Husband and I--along with our gazillion books and two computers each--actually have room to move about and find stuff. Ahhhh.

Please don't ask me about the fate of the former office. For right now it is still home to the dust bunny colonies that managed to gain a foothold underneath the desks and bookshelves. It has been designated as a guest room. But we never have guests....

*Time for any project is of course figured by the usual formula--take the square footage of the space to be improved divided by the number of people doing the improvement and multiply that by the number of children needing constant and undivided attention, subtract the number of hours one is actually awake and then multiply that by the number of times Jacob asks for Mommy. Yeah, I'm pretty sure Home Depot wasn't using that formula when they figured that replacing a tub would only take 14 hours.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's a new day, a new dawn...

A little Nina Simone seemed apropos for the day...