Friday, January 29, 2010

Painting and Pondering

I spent yesterday sanding then painting.  Then sanding and painting again.  Mike did the same after I left for church.

This left me with a lot of time to think.  Here's a few random thoughts from the past few days:

1.  Construction people must have the best night's sleep.  I mean, I'm hardly constructing anything, but I've been up and down ladders for two days and bending and lifting different things.  I about took a nap at lunch yesterday.  People that do this much work (times 10) must seriously sleep like a rock.

2.  I really don't have the greatest collection of music on my iPod.  Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy what I've got, but someone taking a look-see through my list might wonder what age I'm living in.  Wednesday Celine Dion, Bette Midler and I did several duets.  But where else will I get to sing with Dion and Pavarotti under one roof?  (Especially now that he's dead...)  Thursday it was Billy Joel (with the newest album being from around 1996) and Elton John (an album from roughly the same time frame).  I think the most current album I heard in two days was Brad Paisley from around 2007.

3.  I have got entirely too much earwax.'s the only thing holding in my crappy earpieces.

4.  I really don't mind painting.  I know a lot of people (hi, Tracy!) don't like to paint.  I really don't mind it.  However, I'm not the greatest with a roller.  I'm just not good at getting the right amount of paint on there.  I do like to cut in on painting though.

5.  There's something kind of satisfying about sanding.  Taking away the rough of everything.  Don't think I didn't get a little philosophical on this thought.

6.  Mike married me for comic relief.  He might have walked in on some of those Dion/Pavarotti/Murphy trios.  He doesn't know it, but American Idol called, I turned them down to stay home for him and the kids.

That looks sad.  I'm sure I had more than six thoughts in two days.  But those were the highlights.

Today I finish (hopefully!) painting the cabinet doors.  I'm thinking "The Sound of Music" and possibly "Beauty and the Beast" (stage version).  Mix in a little Harry Connick, Jr. and it'll be the concert of the year in this house.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

On the Clock

This morning Maddie asked if she and Jake could have some friends spend the night Friday.  I told her no and she was disappointed.  I didn't want her to think I was just saying "no" to say "no" so I explained:

"Guys.  Dad and I are working a bit overtime to get the laundry room ready in time for Sadie.  That's two weeks and we have A LOT to do.  Yesterday, starting as soon as you left I worked on the cabinets all day."

THEN...I realized I was talking to Maddie AND Jake.  Jake doesn't appreciate estimates.  He wants exact.  So, I modified it and said,

"As soon as you left, I worked on them for five hours.  When dad finished his regular work last night, he worked on them another two hours after me."

Thinking I had averted any argument I was pretty happy with myself.

Then Jake said, "But mom...we are in school for six hours."

I just stared.  I couldn't believe it.  I replied (through clenched teeth), "You are right, Jake.  I forgot.  I also went to Cub and Sam's Club.  There's my extra hour."

Jeez.  It's like clocking in and out with the bossman.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Laundry/Mud Room Update

Catchy title, huh?  It sure is to me!

Let's recap, shall we?

Enough said?

Last I mentioned I believe we had the cabinets sitting in our family room.  I had gone through and removed all the doors and labeled all the pieces so we could put them back together again correctly.  At some point Mike also did the electrical work though I've lost track of what day that happened.  But look at this:

FIVE recessed lights in a room 8x9.  Some may call it excessive but I'm in love with it.  We intended to only have four lights, but we were left with either a hole in the middle of the room or a very bizarre setup of lighting.  Mike doesn't do assymetrical, and I'm not opposed to overlighting a room so five cans it was.  Unfortunately, I shouldn't have any excuse on missing the stains in the laundry now!

Mike worked all day Saturday preparing the walls and whatever he needed to do for that.  He took Monday off to install the cabinets.  My dad came over to help him. 

By Monday afternoon Mike was a little frustrated because he didn't get quite as much done as he had hoped.  There were a few glitches, one being that a cabinet was an entire 1/8" off in size.  This slowed things up.

However, by Monday night (with only a little help from me) he had finished the cabinets.  We are going to have so much more storage! 

The open space below these cabinets will host our washer/dryer.  We were able to move them to a completely different wall which I've wanted to do since we moved into this house.  Whenever we came home, the washer/dryer was one of the first things we saw and it didn't say, "Welcome."  It said, "Get to work!"

Below these cabinets will be a bench and under the bench will be Sadie's crate.


Directly in this corner was our horrendously ugly work-sink.  This was the first thing we saw when we got home.  It just said, "BOO!!!" and I wanted to cry and run away each time.

Today my dad came over and installed the new sink and faucet and soap dispenser.  I told my dad this sink was going to be fancier than the one in our kitchen! 

Honestly, thank goodness my parents are people of many talents.  They've saved us a ton of money on projects (or just completely saved our hides...). We need to make sure we stay on their good sides.

This morning I started priming the cabinets.  It's my job to paint them.  I just went in to finish after teaching and I walked into a cloud of dust.  Mike is sanding the walls.  Looks like I'm off the hook for tonight.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Our Little Pooch

On Sunday afternoon we headed down to Minneapolis to see Sadie.  It's been two weeks since we met her and it marks the halfway point to when she comes home with us.  The kids were getting anxious to see her.

Heidi (the breeder) had told me that we wouldn't believe how big she had gotten.  Heidi said Sadie was definitely the alpha dog of the group.

They had all gotten bigger, but what Mike and I noticed most was how much lighter Sadie and her matching brother, Turtle, had gotten. 

Tutle is the runt of the litter (and Sadie's twin in color).  He's so much smaller than the rest of the puppies.  But he's a scrapper.  Here is Sadie trying to show him who is boss...

All the puppies were going strong until right before we left.  Then one by one they all started to fall asleep.  We left so Sadie could take her nap too and the family living there could catch a break of quiet before the next round of visitors came to invade their home.

See you in two weeks, Sadie!  The laundry room makeover is well underway for her, me, us and I'll have more of that tomorrow.

Forces to Reckon With

Saturday night we hosted Jake's 8th Birthday Party.  Last summer Tracy sent me a link to a birthday party site with tons of ideas for a very fun Star Wars party.  I showed it to Jake and filed it away for this past birthday.

It all started with the invitations:

As the boys arrived they received their Padawan robes.  Grandma to the rescue on these.  This website offered a simple robe pattern.  It really wasn't complicated and I found super cheap fabric.  Mom sewed up most of these as I cut. 

These were a hit.  My mom made 8 of these.  (Then she made one for each of Tracy's kids...).  These boys didn't remove the robes all night.  When they changed into their pajamas, they made sure to put the robes back on.  The next morning when I came down they were all wearing them again!

We collected wrapping paper rolls from family and friends and made a lightsaber for each boy.  These were also a huge hit.  (I crack myself up!)  More on that later.

We started with dinner.  Galactic Pizza with Yoda Sodas (which is just lime sherbert and Sprite).

Then we headed downstairs where we had set up an obstacle course.  Each boy had to crawl under a chair, jump across three bean bag chairs, duel Mike then pop a balloon on the other side of the room.

I couldn't begin to take pictures fast enough and keep track of times.  But the balloon popping?  CRAZY.  These boys had to run across the room and at least half of them took a flying leap, landing on their choice of balloon on their knees or butt. 

The night before I had drawn the emperor for the next game.  Jake decided the boys would get one chance to get their lightsaber landing as close to the "X" as possible to kill the emperor.  We covered their faces with a clone trooper mask we found on the internet, spun them around and let them go.

I'm not sure what we are going to do with this drawing.  But I spent the better part of an hour drawing and coloring it so someone is going to need to at least put it in his closet for awhile.  Poor emperor though.  He looks a bit like an evil Mother Theresa with the habit thing I managed to draw across his forehead.

Anyway - I did manage to get them to sit still for a picture.

"Sit still" might actually be a stretch.  But this gives you an idea of what the lightsabers looked like.  Wrapping paper, painter's tape, duct tape and electrical tape. 

After this I sent out a distress signal to my family telling them that we weren't sure we were going to survive until morning.  These guys were nuts.  My mom sent back an email with, "May the Force Be With You." - (everyone's a comedian).  We headed upstairs to feed them a cupcake and open presents.  We figured we'd go all out; they were already insane so why not give them sugar?  Maybe they'd crash faster.

In case you're wondering, they are lined up to look like a lightsaber.  Jake chose a gray cupcake, took a bite and said, "I never knew the lightsaber handle was so tasty!"

Then they all asked for a second cupcake and we said, "Are you crazy?" 

Afterward they headed downstairs and watched Episode IV of Star Wars.  Well, they watched almost all of it, but got restless 30 minutes from the end.  This just about killed Jake; he loves this movie and really wanted to see it all.

Instead they chose to play the Wii.  A few couldn't spend the night and the rest that did were in bed by 11pm. 

When they headed home they were given an official Jedi Training Packet.

These packets contained a Jedi word search, a mask, directions on drawing R2D2, cubecrafts, a coloring page and two Star Wars pencils (which Tracy found for me in the Valentine section!)

Finally, here's the deets you should know before you take this party on:

1.  8 boys with 8 lightsabers = total insanity.
2.  8 boys sitting around pizza and talking = "Hairy butts," "Smelly pits," and "Boobies" ad naseum.
3.  Despite all that, it's still fun to see your son and his friends get excited about Jedi Robes and homemade lightsabers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far....

When Maddie was about two or three my brother babysat for us one night.  Before we left we explained to him that Maddie has a ritual of things she says to us before bed.  Then we have specific things we answer and she goes on to her next question.  Off the top of my head, I listed these out.  I think I told him that bedtime would go much easier if he just went through the motions.  When we got home he said it was amazing because Maddie had actually said, almost word-for-word, what I had told him and he was so glad he had the right answers.

Over the years, she hasn't kept up the same conversation, but she still has her rituals.  One of them is to have some type of last-minute conversation with us right before we head downstairs.  It never fails.  She's in bed, we've tucked her in and said our goodnights and just as we head downstairs she says, "Mom?" or "Dad, I forgot to tell you..."  Usually these are small stories from something that happened that day or a quick question that could have waited until morning.  In fact, there are times when it's a really late night and we've said, "Maddie - couldn't this whole conversation have waited until morning?"  We love her to pieces, but there are definitely times where when we put the kids to bed, we just want to be done parenting for the day and one more question is impossible to handle.

The other night as Mike was leaving, Maddie had a five-minute story to tell him.  I waited at the top of the stairs for him.  As we walked downstairs he said, "She's just like you.  As soon as her head hits the pillow it's time to start up a conversation."  He's totally right.  Someday her husband will thank me, I'm sure.

In a completely unrelated story - we have a name for our future pet.  After my last post, someone suggested the name, "Reno" (as in "renovation") since we are having to redo our laundry room to make an appropriate space for her.  I think that's cute (and probably very appropriate).  But, after a very lengthy, exhaustive and slighty-anal-bordering-on-maniacal process our family has come up with a name.

Meet Sadie.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Reno '10 Begins

As I mentioned earlier, we are redoing our laundry room.  Our future puppy will be living in there, and while she will be in a crate at night and when we are gone, eventually (hopefully) she won't.  However, in it's current condition there was only a tiny space above the heating vent for her crate to be and that was only if we chose to move the ironing board to a different room.

[Shudder]  I can't believe I just showed the world that.  That's only a little bit of it.  I couldn't get far enough in the corner to get the other side with the laundry tub that is our greeting everytime we walk in the door.

So, Mike and I sat down together and tried to figure out a good plan for this room.  We've tossed around ideas for the last couple years, so we had a good start.  But we go about things in different ways.  He tends to plan according to size and specs.  I plan according to what styles I like and then assume he can make it happen. 

Here's some inspirations we were looking at:

(image from Pottery Barn)

Whenever we've gone in Parade of Homes houses we've usually been drawn to the mudrooms that featured these type of locker-style built-ins.  But they are kind of pricey.

In searching the other night for ideas, we came across this:

I honestly don't know whose house this is, but it seemed a better fit for our 8x9 room.  We want/need a lot of extra storage and being that this is the main entry point for us, it's where everything gets dropped.  So this is our main inspiration idea.  With completely different colors.

Monday I bought paint.  Yesterday we bought cabinets.

A couple nights ago we finished up every piece of laundry we could find and started emptying out the room.  It looked like this.  Just a few things left to remove.

Our current design looks like this on paper:

That's my anal-retentive husband's work.  I love it.  I really do, I'm honestly not making fun of him.  In some other post I'll make fun of his attention-to-detail tendencies, but not in this one.

Now I'm off to work on a project with my mom (for which I'm already late...).  Here's a hint...

Monday, January 18, 2010

If the Slipper Fits...

This past weekend Mike and I had to run to Home Depot to start pricing out things for the laundry room/dog home.  The kids were not happy to tag along, so we decided to let them stay home alone.  It was a good test; we were about 5 minutes away and knew we wouldn't be gone terribly long.

Mike thought it was also an excellent opportunity to put them to work.  So, we informed them they could stay home but one of them had to vacuum and one had to sweep the floor, and each had to get their piano practice done for the day.

We left.

They were going to have some fun with it all.

They decided that if we were going to treat them like Cinderella then they were going to dress for the parts.

Meet Maddie.  She was more the photojournalist princess in this crew.  She was there to document the truth behind the story...

Meet Cinderfella.

He might have enjoyed playing his part too much...

Photojournalist Maddie documented him getting to work.

Cinderfella said the dress kept getting in the way of the work and he was going to trip so he decided it was midnight and he was turning back into himself.

I think Maddie took those so we would know they actually did something.

And then he was exhausted.

Poor baby.  But it worked great and we'll definitely have a list ready for them next time too.  Pretty soon they'll be begging to go on the Home Depot runs with us!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seen Around These Parts

This week I took some random photos.  Shocking to my family, I know.  But these were sort-of random.  I decided to document what you would have seen around our house this week.

1.  A little bowl of deliciousness and frustration.  Curses you M&M company!!!

2.  This may not be exciting to some, but after missing for about a month I found the battery charger for our small camera.  If I'd had this even a couple weeks ago I might have gotten actual video of telling the kids we are getting a dog.  But I won't get started on that sad tale...

3.  Speaking of dogs...we are in study mode:

4.  I will probably have to give the dog a little extra treat when she arrives though. 

Her room will be the dreaded laundry room; my nemesis of this house.  I've begged, cried, pouted, whined, cursed it, and just plain hated this room.  But that we have a dog coming into the house it is getting renovated.  I mentioned this to Mike this afternoon as we sat drawing up plans and he said, " only took getting a dog to get the laundry room you wanted."  He thinks he got screwed though; the kids got their dog, I got a laundry room and he got bupkus.

5.  I finally finished this book.  All 1,037 pages of it.

This book started to take over my life.  I dreamt in Civil War times.  One day I said, "Fiddle-dee-dee!" and "'Lawd A-mighty...we sho is gonna have hotdish!" 

No...I didn't.  But I was frustrated with Jake one day and said to Mike, "He's being such a scoundrel!"  Mike just looked at me and I decided I needed a break from reading for awhile.

6.  Friday afternoon we attended a funeral.  Maddie doesn't really own any clothes appropriate for church in winter. 

I've asked several times for her to go shopping to no avail.  So, Friday at 10am I was at Kohl's and grabbed a bunch of clothes.  I dropped them in front of Maddie when we got them out of school and told her, "You ARE keeping some of these.  You have five minutes to pick one outfit for today."  Luckily she found something she liked and the shoes I got worked out too.

 7.  We have to pick a dog name.  We are anal.  We took all the names we'd come up with, plus those suggested (thanks...) and put them in an excel list.  We made two passes and whichever names received at least two votes got to the next round of name choosing.  Last night we took final suggestions and whittled the list down from 50 names to 17.  We hope to shorten it to the final five tonight and have a name picked by Monday.

The kids told the school secretary about our dog name list and the secretary suggested we put all the names in a bowl and draw out one and we would just "all have to like it."  I about had a heart-attack.  That is entirely too random for me.  We are a list-making family.  At least Mike and I are and we are trying our darndest to turn the kids into that too.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Under Attack

Last week it was ridiculously cold here.  The snow crunched when you walked outside and your nose hairs froze on that first breath in.  I think Mike declared "Caribou Days" at least twice, possibly three times.

It was so cold that a couple times in the middle of the night we would hear this thunderous crack from our backyard.  We still aren't sure what was happening, but we are hoping our deck is still attached this spring. 

If not it will be a big leap for the dog when she has to go out.

Anyway - about the time that the kids were supposed to be getting home from the bus, I heard another cracking sound and then another.  But this time they were coming from the front of the house.  I couldn't figure out what it was until I opened the front door...

This isn't our kids waving at me.  They are throwing snowballs at the house.

Specifically they are throwing these snowball/ice balls at the perpetual icicle that hangs from the corner of our entrance. 

It's been their newest game.  They are so excited when they see that an icicle has reformed.

On this day, I think Maddie was the winner in bringing it down.  Then they sit on the ground...the extremely cold ground, and discuss which snowball worked magic.

I think they will be thrilled to learn that this week should be warm enough to melt some snow and cold enough to freeze new icicles.  Let the games begin!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Party Results

It's been a crazy weekend for us and things are hopefully starting to slow down now in twenty-ten.


I haven't decided yet.

Anyway, Friday was our card party.  Our annual card party that we had to reschedule from December twenty-oh-nine 2009 - the one we made the eggnog for.  (And by the the end of the night we only had about a quart of eggnog left.  This crew also drank 2 1/2 cases of beer and some cider and pop and Cinnamon Shnapps.  What can we say...we were all thirsty.)

It's a fairly simple set-up.  This year we only had six tables.  Last year we had eight tables of players.  This year we set up with three tables upstairs and three tables in the basement.

Everyone comes with either an appetizer or dessert.  We had tons of great food on both levels.  I, unfortunately, only got a picture of our snowman that holds the hot cider.

Isn't he cute? 

This year we didn't even need to play a practice round.  It's the first year we've skipped that so everyone grabbed their plates of goodies and got down to business.

I'm sorry, Rob.  I thought everyone was smiling.

This year we got in five rounds of play!  We always award prizes to the player with the most points, and the player with the least points.  This year the player with the least points, Pete lost with a dismal 230 points.  That's not even a full game.  We told him that we thought he needed to take up a new game so we awarded him a game of checkers.

The winner this year was Chris.  He won with around 2600 points!  First he received the winning crown which he will get to keep until next year's party.  His prize package also included a Caribou gift card.

Then he signed the official document that all past royalty has signed.  It's what makes everything legit.

Chris and his Queen, Katie.  She said there was going to be no living with him now.

Katie drove home.  Chris said he would walk and wave to his peasants as he passed them by.

"Next year's" party will go back to December of two-thousand-ten.


I'll let you know by then.