Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Am Old?

I've been overly tired this week...I think I'm fighting something off.  So, not a lot happening...unless you count falling asleep at 5:30 pm as "a happening"! 

However, I cannot let today pass without talking about the reasons why I feel old when I watch American Idol.  The reasons are as follows:

1.  When the judges talk about a performance being "too close to the original, it was just a karaoke version", I have to admit that at least 40% of the time....I have no idea what the original sounds like.  "Fixing a Hole" by the Beatles?  I'm with you.  Anything by Fallout Boy?  I'll just have to trust you on that one.

2.  Whenever Andrew Garcia is shown (singing, talking, or just hanging out) I always turn to Erik and say, "Oh, I hope he wins!  He seems like such a nice young man."

And there you have it.  I am falling asleep during the Early Bird Dinner Hour and calling a twenty-four year old with a tattoo on his neck "a nice young man".  I honestly wish I had more to report.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bathroom ::Done::

Well, that was fun!  They finished the bathroom on Saturday, and I think they were even happier about that than we were.  So many details, and they did such an amazing job!  I can highly recommend them in every way ~ the price wasn't the cheapest for the labor, but well worth every penny, I can assure you.  And certainly reasonable...he really worked with my budget!

We're not all "moved" in yet, but we're very, very close!  Here we go....
 Remember this disaster?  That was in the doorway to the old bathroom.  You had to keep one foot in the toilet to take a shower which,  sadly, was preferable to putting both feet in that heinous, moldy shower stall!  All ugly, all the time, too, which doesn't help.

Now, from the same vantage point.  The wall with the door was knocked out, and the shower was moved out of this area completely.   It's now a floor to ceiling linen closet (completely stocked, within minutes of reno completion!).  This is the new vanity, and instead of a weird long counter, the new under-the-window area features a cut out of the new counter, and then a 12-inch deep cabinet for storage.  That was added to the vanity proper, of course.  A simple, 3-light vanity light replaces all the flourescent surrounds, and the mirror is very girl-y, which I has etches of small daisies all around the edge.  *love*  The sink and shower faucet are Kohler Forte, and toilet is schmancy, by Toto, with two flush plungers to conserve water when...uh...there's...well, not so much know...whatever.

 This is the before picture, taken from the opening into the bedroom.   There's now a proper door to the bedroom, and this whole area is now part of the actual bathroom.

And it looks like this.  I swear, this picture was taken from the exact spot as the 'before' picture.  The door to the bathroom is open, the (smaller) closet is to the left, behind the open door, and straight ahead, where the shower is?  That used to be that mess where Erik's clothes were hung straight back.

More details, what do you say?

Inside the shower, with custom made (sounds so fancy! it just means they cut one big square tile into about 8 little square tiles!) diamond rhombus accents.

The bench ~ bench! ~ in the back of the shower.  The shower itself is 4 feet deep, without the bench.  All four of us were standing around in the shower, just because we could.  I mean fully clothed, no water on, just chilling.  We ate dinner in there.  haha!  Just kidding!  This bench is the reason I lost almost 2 feet of closet space.  Non issue.  Love my bench!!!

Speaking of the clothes closet, here's a picture of it, taken from in front of the vanity.  That's the new linen closet on the right.  The new clothes closet is less than 50" across.  Shall we peek in side?

(PS paint is Wheatfield from Benjamin Moore.  It's photographing more yellow than it its...very 'buttery' in real life.)

 Left side:  hanging on top rod, my 'nicer' shirts.  Hanging on bottom rod...who knows?  It's all Erik's.  There are two shelves above (one you can see, and one that's too high).  On the top shelf, I have about a half dozen sweaters.  On the shelf you can see, a stack of long sleeved and a stack of short sleeved t-shirts.

On the right side:  one rod only, with my skirts and dresses.  Shelf you can see has pants, folded.  Shelf you can't see has some bags.  (You know, like purses.)

The way the shower is formed, there is a funky little corner in my closet.  No problem!  I commandeered the area with several homely shelves (all hidden by clothes, usually!) for my shoes.  Simple!

Oh, and I almost forgot!  (Jeez, we haven't taken the tag off of it.  Please, shoot me if you come to house in a month and that's still hanging there.)  So, there are three canned ceilings lights (two in the shower ~ bright! and one in front of the linen closet), plus the vanity fixture, plus Lior wanted to put a fourth canned light in front of the clothes closet.

But, no.  I wanted something "cute" there.  He just rolled his eyes at me (oh, I got this a lot over those 9 days!!!!  I was regularly demoted, but we got through it, with some counseling.  haha!  Couple's therapy for me and my contractor!  Not even kidding.)  Anyway, I wanted a little crystal chandelier here, but I couldn't find anything that had a shallow enough hang, and time was not on my side.  In the end, I found a little adjustable-length pendant, and it has a swirled glass 'shade' that matches the color and the swirls in the tiles on the both the shower and the floor.

And, oh so thankfully, Lior liked it!  From your perspective, that only means he installed it without giving me a ration of crap over it.  I still recommend him, though.  :)

Okay, that's it!  I'll need to move in, get some decorations in and/or up, some rugs or something, a little curtain-y solution for that window.  We don't need the coverage, but I enjoy the cute.  I'm in no hurry for any of that....but you know, whatever it ends up being, it will be documented here!

Thanks, honey, for my bathroom!  (Oh, that was for Erik.)  I love it.  :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sparkles Not Optional

So, so, SO much to say, never enough time to say it!  The bathroom is done (!) but that has to wait because what I really want to remember right now is Scotty's new recipe.

You will need a bowl, a clementine orange, chocolate chips, and "sparkles" (granulated sugar :).

First, drum up a customer.  Or three.  Each serving is custom made to order!

Then, place the orange in the bowl.

A handful of chocolate chips should do the trick.

Only use the freshest ingredients!

Sprinkle liberally with sparkles.

Deliver fresh at the drive through!


You know, I saw this picture come through the download, and I had to laugh.  How many pictures do I have, of this kid sitting barefoot on my counters?  (Let it be a warning to you, when you eat at my house!)  When Scotty was "Star of the Week" at the pre-school, they asked me to bring in 8 or 10 photos of him and his family to put up on the special bulletin board.  They pointed out to me that of the dozen pictures I brought, eight of them were of Scotty and/or Scotty & Tommy, playing, sitting, or working on the kitchen floor, from a bird's-eye (mama's eye!) perspective.  It's so true!  We all spend so much time in this kitchen!  Partly because our house is so small, it's one of the few places to go to, but mostly because it's where the action is at.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Everybody, Get on Your Feet

I was, for the record, totally opposed to getting Tommy an iPod Touch for Christmas.  I just don't believe that any 9 year old needs an electronic device that costs $175.  I mean really, Erik.  So, when it disappeared two weeks ago (and during which time we scoured the house, even where it could not possibly be) I had to bite back hard on the "I told you so" (but please note, he did get The Look) and we had just about moved on when I found it.  I found it! 

I found it, as I was taking a load of clothes out of the washing machine.  I found it laying, in the bottom of the washing machine.  After I had washed the clothes, it was just laying there.  Oh dear.

After a frantic Google search, I was able to ascertain that the best course was to just buy a new one.  No.  The second best course was to leave it submerged in rice for a couple of days (do not try to turn it on or charge it!!!) and then try it.  The trick, apparently, is to make sure it's completely dry (I knew this part from when I dropped my iPod into a toilet. *cough*) and the rice helps wick the moisture out (I learned this part from The Internets). 

I had high hopes, because it was completely dead before it went through the wash cycle.  Finally!  A bonus for leaving a pile of dirty clothes in front of the washing machine for a week!  But if it had no charge, surely there would be nothing to short out?

Erik asked me yesterday to give him the Touch (whoops!  totally forgot about there, in the rice!) and he plugged it in.  And last night?  When we got home?  Awwwww, yeeeeeaaaaahhhhh!  Works like a charm!

Which leads us to this morning, with Scotty flipping through the songs, and rocking out to AC/DC Back in Black, among other things.  Tommy asked him to please turn it down (haha!) when he was blaring "We Got the Beat" by The GoGos, and Scotty responded (in his little Mickey Mouse voice), "But I LOVE this song!"

Me too, kid!  Which was how, Scotty and I ended up spending this morning, dancing in the hallway. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunny on the Farm

This weekend, I had four days off. I don't know why, but our school district honors Lincoln and Washington's birthdays separately, rather than as one President's Day holiday.  I'm not complaining, you understand, it's just quirky. 

And it was one of those weekends.  It wasn't a spring weekend, but it was one of those winter weekends that lets you know that spring is coming. You know those days?  I love those days!  There are tulips sprouting....

But there is still the promise of more to come.

The trees are still mostly barren of leaves....

But the bushes are beginning to fill out and bloom.

The animals are still winter woolly, but the horses are beginning to stretch and the rooster is starting to fluff his feathers....

...the grass is green but the corrals are muddy.

A perfect, sunny, February day, that reminds me that we're sliding into spring.  At first, a day or two, here and there...then, more days will be like this than won't...and finally, spring will have sprung and I'll realize that I miss the promise that spring was coming.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Just Saying

Did you have a wonderful Valentine's Day?  I hope so!  Erik and I don't celebrate (does this surprise anyone who knows us?  I bet it doesn't!) but since The Boys have joined us, I have to say it has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

I can totally remember, in elementary school, decorating a box and getting it ready for Valentine's Mail ~ with glitter and stickers, of course, but... ~ with that all important slit at the top, where each classmate would drop in a sweet treat or a fun note.  *love*

I see my own boys, too, just as excited!  Tommy's hippie school that doesn't let them have candy (which, okay, I get that for, like, a daily policy, but hello it's Valentine's Day!!!) but the kids get around that stipulation by giving each other pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, and handwritten notes.  (ps  I do so wish there was a way to avoid the drama of signing their names to 30 or 40 cards!  It snuck up on us this year, so instead of pushing this "chore" over several nights, it was a marathon session that tried my patience and my sanity.   Just saying.)

How much did I love the two of them, sitting around and reading their notes, both  of them eating Scotty's candy?  So much!  As for us, I finally had a reason to use one of the many fabulous Williams-Sonoma treats my parents had for me under the Christmas tree.  They gave me two of these (one shaped like a heart, another like an apple).

You roll out pie dough, and use the heart as a 'cookie cutter'.  One side is plain, the other side also punches out a wee heart for venting!  Then, you open up the cookie cutter (it's on a hinge) and lay down the plain heart.  Spoon in any filling ~ I am still getting through all that apple pie filling I made in the fall! ~ then plop down the vented heart.  When you close the cookie cutter, it crimps the edges shut.

Bake on a cookie sheet.  The perfect Valentine's Day treat! 

Add to that two more pumpkins that I processed that same day  ~ netting pumpkin bread to the tune of 8 mini loaves, two large loaves, and five dozen pumpkin muffins...

...not to mention the four quarts of pumpkin puree I split with my mom and currently have in the freezer (one bag is enough for a double batch of batter!)....

....and of course the roasted pumpkin seeds.

*sigh*  One more pumpkin to go.  So bountiful!  Also?  By the time I had everything put away (or passed out, as so much gets gifted to neighbors and my mom) and the dishes done and the kitchen cleaned up?  It makes for one, very, very, very long day of baking!  I'll also add that, on the day I did this baking, my nieces were here and that makes 8 billion kids.  Still.  Just saying.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Progress, Already!

On Thursday, they demolished the old bathroom.

On Friday, they did the electrical, plumbing, and framing.  (The shower is moved, there are new lights and exhaust fan, the closet was shortened, and a bench was installed in the shower.)

On Saturday, they re-sheetrocked the walls and sealings, taped and put on the compound, and even re-textured the closet area.

They took Sunday off, but will be back at this morning with backerboard, and tiling the floors and shower stall walls.

Honestly?  If they would just put a toilet in, it's already about 1000% more livable than it was before they got started!

Friday, February 12, 2010

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

I mentioned earlier this week that there would be Big Happenings at The Shire.  And yes, games are afoot.   When we first bought our house (11 years ago, this summer) we knew we were getting a 'fixer-upper'.  But the price was right, the view was pretty, and we love not having a ton of neighbors.  When we first moved in, I was all, "This kitchen is UNLIVABLE!  It's all got to go!  Immediately!"  And then we went ahead and spent 8 years doing pretty much nothing at all.  I don't think we even changed a lightbulb until 2003.  I've painted the living room 7 times, but I can't muster the energy to do anything about the health hazard that is our master bath.

My dad did redo the (teeny-tiny) hall bathroom before we even moved in, mostly because the floor was so spongey that we risked putting a foot through the rotting boards.  Thanks, Daddy!  Then, when I was pregnant with Scotty, he redid the kitchen.  In spectacular fashion, I will add.  I love love love my kitchen!  And he did it all just because he loves me so much.  And, because I feed him sandwiches.  Thanks, Daddy!

Now, we are finally getting around to redoing the bathroom in our bedroom.**  This bathroom was every bit as foul as the hall bath when we moved in, but, as you do, this one went to the back burner.  The black toilet (rust stains add a lot!) and the moldy shower with the tiles that are falling off, the flourescent all adds to ambiance. Plus, the old fella who previously owned the house had everything ~ floors, ceilings, cabinetry ~ painted a robin's egg blue. 

It's a weird room anyway.  There's this "hallway" where we have a mess closet.  There was a weird space straight back where I ended up hanging a couple of bars for Erik's "work clothes".  (He wore Vans tennis shoes, 501 jeans, and a Transformers t-shirt to work last week with a black Hanes zipper hoodie...I think it's safe to say that "work clothes" should definitely be in quotes!)   And it's just this dead space that becomes a catch-all for books I need to put away, tools I can't seem to get back to the garage, and baskets of laundry that, wait, I forget ~ do they need to be washed or put away?  Eh.  Whatever.

My poor friend Maia has actually showered in this room (I'm sorry, honey!) and she has climbed over the (sometimes) mountainous piles of laundry; and I can't forget my cousin Moose peering at the running toilet as I explain to him that our current solution was to just turn the water valve off, so why don't you go ahead and pee now, so we can call it a night?  Ugh.  The hostess with the mostest I am not!

Now, though, we are entering the "during phase" of the project!  Everything is out, and tomorrow the plumbing, electrical, and new floor boards (good bye, termites!) will go in.  Probably the backer board, too.  The tile is ordered, as are the fixtures and vanity. 

I'm losing quite a bit of closet, but, honestly, I wear the same 6 things every week, so I might as well start thinning things out anyway.  I like to be minimalist, but I definitely need encouragement for that!  Entropy is so much easier. 

Hopefully much prettier during pictures are to come, and then (my favorite!) the afters.

**  My Daddy offered to do this bathroom too (can you believe this man?!?) but he is so swamped with work, and as much as I appreciate the offer, he couldn't even come over for a consult...there just wasn't enough time.  My mom has eleventy-million projects for him to do around their own house (shoemaker's children have no shoes!) and I know for a fact that despite all of that, he still would have done it if I asked.  So I didn't.  My bathroom will lack the charm of my pops, I have no doubt about that, but he will not have to spend his weekends or precious few evenings laying tile or doing the drywall either.  It's a fair trade, in my opinion!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Batter up!

I'm still new to the whole Little League culture.  I admit that, in my mind, it feels excessive to be doing a midweek and a weekend practice.  They've been holding practices now for about a month!   That's early even for Spring Training!  (I love his concentration here.  He loves this game.) 

It's so much more serious this year.  Last year was coach pitch, and it was mostly about learning the basics, and a lot of  'attaboys' for not much at all, if you want to know the truth.  This year is already significantly different.  A lot of shouting, actually.  "Where's the play?!?" and "Throw it to second!  Throw it to second!  Come ON!!"  or, randomly from the kids' perspectives, "Hold the ball!!!  NonoNOnoNOOOO! Don't throw it to first!!!!"

There's always a group of dads, ready to do pitch practice (oh, how they all want to be a pitcher!) or batting tutelage or to provide gentle reminders about where to play third or how to back second base.  I always bring a mitt, so we can play catch.  Tommy loves to play catch!  

I wasn't so sure about the increased pressure that I perceived, but Tommy is responding well, taking it oh-so-seriously, and I love that he loves it.  I also love baseball, and I like having a partner in crime for $1 nights at the A's games, or to take in a Giants game on a summer day.  But even more than that, I think it's so important for him to find things he's good at, and to stick with them.  I'm still hopeful that he'll go with math, but baseball is good for now, too!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Field Trip!

I took a day off yesterday to chaperon Tommy's field trip.  We spent the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and we had a BLAST!  (And yes, Kelly and Moose, we got a wee bit turned around and ended up taking 68 into town which meant that we passed right near you guys!  I recognized the route, fortunately, from the day we did the Run Forrest Run 5k that day!)

Did you know that you can take up to 40 hours a year to volunteer at your child's school?  It's true.  You have use vacation or personal days, or even take unpaid leave, but it's so nice to have that kind of support for parent involvement.  California's not the only state, either, as Nevada has enacted a similar law.  It's worth looking into, no matter where you live.  

As a teacher, I've always scheduled several field trips every year.  I love to see kids out in the world.  They are so different when they go out!  Kids that can drive you to distraction in the confines of the classroom can be so enchanting in a more natural environment.  They are funnier, more clever, and sweeter in every way.  It's nice to see them like this, because you take that memory back with you and it let's you see the best in them even when they may not be 'shining' at any particular moment.

Tommy and I had such a great time!  It's a beautiful aquarium; world class, actually.  And the Monterey Bay itself is one of the most fascinating ecosystems in the world.  

They do a fantastic job on the exhibits.  They have one deep sea tank that holds 1.2 million gallons of water...that's more than all the other tanks at the aquarium combined!  But it's so cool, because you can see sharks and tuna and school fish in an area that allows them to behave naturally.  Fascinating!  Is it just me?  I can watch fish swim for hours.

The touchpools were one of our favorite areas for sure.  These bat rays can be 'petted' by leaning over the railing.  So cool!  We also touched sea cucumbers (ugh!), star fish, and sea crabs. 

The Secret Lives of Sea Horses is their special exhibit right now.  Oh, my!  What a sweet, amazing creature!  Can you just die...look at his little tail, wrapped around that seaweed.  Eric Carle has a beautiful book called Mr. Seahorse, that I highly recommend.  His style of collage art is very inspiring and kids love to make their own animals.  I have them paint large sheets of plain construction paper (I like tempera paints for kids, because they are non-toxic and wash easily from clothes!) then tear the paper into different sizes.  Those swatches of paper are then used to create different shapes and creatures.  They are always, always beautiful.

The jellyfish have been there for awhile, but they are never stale.  I can watch them for-ever.  They are eyes, no brains, no spine.  Mind boggling!

But truly, these Leafy Sea Dragons were the showstoppers.  I can't do them justice (I'm still learning how to use my camera, especially without the flash!) but they were unreal.  In case you can't tell, he's sort of swimming downward, his head toward the lower left of the frame...he has a long snout, like a sea horse.  I couldn't take my eyes of these!

This just cracked me up!!!  Here's Tommy, playing with a wooden penguin display.

Here's his classmate, playing an interactive video game based on the penguins. are the very real penguins, just behind both of these boys!  haha!  I had to encourage them to actually abandon the fake penguins and go spend some time with the actual penguins.  I still giggle, just thinking about it!

There are shows and activities, including watching the feeding times, and a two-story exhibit of the kelp forests...did you know kelp can grow 12 inches in a day?  I can't tell you how sweet it was to get my teacher-geek on with my very own Big Boy!