Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekend Update

Good grief! I can't believe a post about the termite guy has been languishing here for over a week. Why didn't someone complain?

In no particular order, here are some things that have been keeping us busy:

1. We celebrated Matt's 31st birthday. His gifts included a couple of new games we can try out on vacation. I made ribs for dinner, and a homemade macaroni and cheese that should probably be outlawed. Seriously. It contained milk, evaporated milk, three kinds of cheese, and EGGS. So yes, it was a little rich.

2. Michael got a MUCH NEEDED haircut. He behaved beautifully and now he looks a little less like a feral child I picked up in the woods.



3. We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. (See floral evidence below, thanks Matt!). Eight years? What the heck? Have I even been out of high school for eight years? Uh, let's not think too hard about the answer to that question...

4. The AAU basketball team that Matt coaches took 7th place at their national tournament in Minnesota. I drove over from Wisconsin, leaving the kids with my parents, to watch their final two games. It was worth ten or so hours in the car to be there with Matt. This fall he's going to coach Harper's rec center team of five and six-year-olds - that should be entertaining!

5. Michael used the potty seat!

He's not actually ready to commit to potty training, but he is showing an interest so we're encouraging him to give it a go (hahaha). I think Harper first used her potty seat about ten months before she was even close to being fully trained. I guess you could say we take it slowly around here.

(Bonus flashback photo!)

So what have YOU been up to?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For Future Reference

Dear Terminex Man,

Thank you for coming and assuring us that there are no signs of termite activity in our home. I could have done without the stories of other inspections you've done recently which did turn up termite activity. In the future, might I also suggest you not tell a potentially arachnophobic customer that you'd recently found black widow spiders in not one, but two homes in her area? It might also be wise to refrain from further divulging that it isn't really the black widows but the brown recluse spiders that you worry about. After all, you've seen what they can do.

I appreciate your help on the termites, but save the insomnia inducing spider stories for back at the office, mkay?


Your Reluctantly Grateful Customer

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Unless You are My Clone This Will Probably Be Very Boring

"A home without books is a body without soul." - Cicero

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all." - Jacqueline Kennedy

"A house isn't a home until there is a bookshelf in every room." - Matt, making fun of me, when I eagerly accepted three new bookshelves from his workplace after they moved offices.

So. Way back in December I had what I thought would be a fun idea for a post... a bookshelf tour of our home. I walked around the day after Christmas taking photos of all the bookshelves in our house. And then I never posted them. Don't know why inspiration has hit me again but this time I'm going to do it. I realize that this may be of no interest to you whatsoever, but maybe someday the kids will get a kick out of it, so here I go:

I'm going to work from the basement, up through the living areas, into the bedrooms.

This is Matt's bookshelf in his basement office, it is one of the shelves we accepted from his workplace move. Not terribly exciting (because the others will fascinate you, I'm sure), but I've included it in the interest of full disclosure.

This is another bookshelf in the basement office, it was left here by the people who lived here before us! It holds some of my school binders, teacher workbook type things, the set of Little House Books that were mine and Shannon's growing up, books designated as holiday/seasonal that I rotate into a basket upstairs, and some science and social studies books that the kids aren't really old enough to be interested in yet.

Above is another basement bookshelf left behind by the previous owners. It contains chapter books from my own childhood as well as some I collected while I was teaching. There are a couple of dozen Nancy Drew Files there, as well as almost every Beverly Cleary book, books by L. M. Montgomery, Dick King-Smith, Roald Dahl, The Chronicles of Narnia, non-Baby Sitter Club books by Ann M. Martin, a few titles from a series called Freshman Year, and lots of other misc. books mostly acquired through Scholastic and Troll book orders.

This bookshelf was handed down from my friend MaryEllen. It contains an assortment of books I've read and loved (some Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner Katrina Kittle, Laurie Halse Anderson, the Traveling Pants and YaYas books) but there are also some random things on here, like my bin of tutoring materials (bottom shelf) and a baby names book.

This shelf is probably the most wonderful and most embarrassing because the three shelves of books that are open? Those are my Baby-Sitters Club books. I have all the regular and super special editions and the twelve "Friends Forever" books. I also have the first few mysteries, but I drew the line at collecting those. I had about half of these when I was sort of the age to read them and then I collected the rest in more recent years. Gotta love used books! And yes, I will be getting myself a copy of the newly-written BSC prequel.

On top of the BSC books are bins containing series for young readers: Henry and Mudge, Mr. Putter and Tabby, Amelia Bedelia, Frog and Toad, Franklin, Arthur, Nate the Great, A to Z Mysteries, The Magic Treehouse, and Poppleton.

This bookshelf has been mine since I was in grade school, it is in the family room of our house. It contains several hundred picture books I acquired while teaching elementary school. The bins on the bottom shelf hold easy reader books.

Remembering that these pictures were taken at holiday time, the basket w/ the red liner is full of our Christmas books. There are also Christmas books in the basket w/ the brown liner, but that is the basket that is always there and I rotate seasonal books in and out of it. The other baskets hold puzzles (always there) and Christmas movies (only there during the holidays).

This is a big, beautiful bookshelf which Matt's parents gave us when Matt moved into our first house (It had been in their house as Matt grew up). I love it and it fits perfectly on the wall between the living room windows and the dining room windows. It holds mostly Matt's books, our photo albums (top shelf), and a few miscellaneous items, including the huge American Heritage Dictionary I got for Christmas one year. The shelf that is covered with holiday decorations usually holds framed family photos.

This is in the "foyer" and is another of the book shelves we got from Matt's workplace. The basket on the bottom holds some of Michael's odd sized board books. There are also books on the second shelf. The top shelf is our children's music collection (I know it's almost as bad as the books!) and on the very top sits our Christmas CDs, seasonally, of course.

As you've seen before, here is the bookshelf in Michael's room. He's had a birthday since this picture was taken so his book collection has grown a bit.

This is the first of Harper's bookshelves made for her by her godfather. Uncle Joe made this one when Harper was just a baby. It used to hold her books, but she was outgrowing it - now it holds the containers for a handful of toys we keep in her room and has been replaced by...

This beautiful bookshelf! Also made by Uncle Joe. Her collection was thinned a bit when we passed the board books along to Michael, but she's not really hurting for books now, is she? I keep the kids' books in their own spaces.

This is the third bookshelf that we got from Matt's workplace. It is in our bedroom - I was so happy to have a bookshelf in our room! The books on this shelf are all mine, or books I've borrowed from my friend MaryEllen (whose collection outdoes even ours) and intend to read. Most of the books on the top shelf are things I have yet to read, but the bottom two selves hold quite an assortment, including my held-together-with-a-rubber-band copy of Ballet Shoes, one of my all time favorites.

So there you go, a bookshelf tour of our home. The shelves are pruned periodically and books donated or passed along in other ways. And of course new acquisitions are always welcome. It's a wonder we use the library isn't it? But, then again, we really can't own all the books. (Matt would probably say that it doesn't stop me from trying.)

P.S. I would like it if you did your own bookshelf pictures and shared them with me!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Home Again

We're back after several long drives and a week and a half away from home. There is too much to update tonight but I wanted to let everyone know we're safe and sound. And that our time in Wisconsin included an inflatable play land.

I know, Michael looks terrified in that picture, but as soon as he came down the slide, he'd climb off and shout, "Mo' gen!" (More again!)

Harper said it was like being in Fraggle Rock and I'm pretty sure that's a compliment.

Monday, July 05, 2010

How to Beat the Heat

The hot and humid weather has arrived! After yesterday morning's 4th of July festivities we decided to see how long the kids would be entertained by the kiddie pool (we actually don't have one of these at home). Turns out the answer is: a long time. We put the pool out around 10:30 a.m. and, besides one trip inside for the bathroom, Harper didn't come inside until 4:00 p.m, SEVEN HOURS LATER.

Michael didn't like to sit in the water, he mostly entertained himself by climbing into the pool, throwing the toys out onto the driveway, climbing out onto the driveway, and throwing the toys back into the pool. Repeat 387,000 times.

After a while my dad brought out some old paint brushes and the kids entertained themselves painting the driveway, and the neighbor's porch steps. Of course there was always more painting to be done because, as Harper would say, "It kept melting." (evaporating)

Michael eventually came in to eat lunch and take a nap, but not Harper.

She discovered that filling the plastic turtle with water gave it enough momentum to carry it down the slightly sloaped driveway. And then it could be chased!

This is how Harper avoided coming inside for lunch - she cooerced Grandpa into having a picnic with Kid Sister. Got to hand it to Grandpa for being such a good sport. Over 80 degrees and he didn't even get to sit in the shade.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th

So we're staying with my parents in small town Wisconsin. Sussex has about 10,000 residents and a tiny little downtown area. My parents live just off of Main Street. I did a quick change after church this morning and we walked across a grassly lot to wait for the children's parade.

Harper, Michael, and Kid Sister (Shannon's doll from the 80's) were anxiously awaiting the parade.

Actually, Michael was a little nervous. Turns out he had little to fear, it was a small and mostly quiet parade. He did get hit in the head with a rogue piece of candy and shed a few tears.

The parade started with a veterans' group with flags and rifles. Rifles which they shot into the air right in front of us (!), fortunately we saw it coming and quickly covered the kids' ears. The flags were followed by an old fashioned fire truck and a million children with decorated bikes and scooters. The bikes, scooters, wagons, and kiddie cars were the bulk of the parade. Lots of children had decorated bike helmets which was cool and many people threw candy at us. The family sitting next to us was thrilled because our kids didn't pick up any of the candy (couldn't tell if it was safe for Harper).

The parade ended with an ambulance and a fire truck and then we walked across the street to play at the park behind the library. There are lots of great things about the city we live in, but this small town life has its perks.

If you've been voting for Matt's Pepsi Refresh project, please keep it up, if you haven't voted please consider registering! I hadn't realized that these projects are being funded by money Pepsi would have spent on Super Bowl ads, which I think is pretty cool.

Friday, July 02, 2010

July in Wisconsin

Apparently the heat and humidity are going to be setting in soon, but yesterday was just unbelieveably gorgeous here. It was sunny and lightly windy and maybe in the low 70's? We took the kids for a walk after dinner, about a mile to a little park down the street. It was lovely and there wasn't even too much complaining when it was time to leave. Harper started to whine a bit on the way home but I distracted her with math and spelling, which is kind of hilarious, no? We spent about 3/4 of the walk giving her addition problems to solve or spelling words for her to guess. She LIKES this. And while she had to slow down while figuring out what 7 plus 4 came out too, it was a fair trade not to listen to how tired she was and that she needed a break.

And then we saw not one, not two, but THREE hot air balloons toward the end of our walk. I didn't realize this, but Harper had never seen one in real life before so it was very exciting. It was also funny to point it out to Michael and see the expression on his face completely change when he actually spotted it. Finally, on the bike/walking trail behind my parents' place we saw a bunny. Everyone was really really happy. And Michael learned to say lawn mower (which sounds a lot like Elmo, "yaw mo"). Not bad for a summer day.

Yesterday afternoon I drove Matt to Madison, where he met up with his assistant coaches. They were continuing on to Rochester, MN where his 12 year old basketball team is competing at AAU Nationals. If things go well I may drive out there next week for the final games, we'll see. It's about five hours from here, so it isn't a small undertaking.

The drive between here and Madison (and between here and Minnesota) is so calming. Rolling hills, woodland, farms, and lakes. This time of year everything is still nice and green with patches of colorful wildflowers every so often, to remind you that we haven't jumped in and ruined all of the land just yet. There's so much space up here - our area of Ohio is significantly more urban than where I grew up and if I'm away too long I forget how much I miss that openness. It reminds me why we need to learn to camp as a family - probably the only way my kids will experience the kind of spaces I remember.

My parents have a wedding to attend tonight so the kids and I are going to hang out with my sister, and maybe some takeout pizza. After they are in bed I think Shannon is going to watch the 6th Harry Potter movie with me. I missed it in the theater and haven't been able to bring myself to watch it on my own, silly of me, but it feels like a movie I want to share with someone, you know? I love Harry Potter.

Hope you're having blue skies and light breezes where you are, and if not, may I suggest a rum and coke?

Please remember to go vote for Matt's Pepsi Refresh Project - link on the right!

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Hi guys - we've arrived in Wisconsin and are settled in for a week of driving the grandparents crazy. Right now the kids are jumping off the stairs into the living room yelling, "Super balloony babies!" Actually, Michael is just yelling, "Go!"

The kids were excellent on the long car ride, which might mean I have some bad car karma coming for our drive to St. Louis and then back to Ohio in about a week, but we'll survive.

Today I'll drive Matt to Madison where he'll meet up with other coaches heading to their AAU National Tournament in Rochester, MN. If the team does well I might hightail it to Rochester next week to see some their last games, we'll see. It's only an extra ten or so hours in the car...

As you know today is July 1st and that means it is the first day you can vote for Matt's project idea through the Pepsi Refresh Project. There is a widget on the right that will take you to the page to vote - please consider signing up and voting this month. The top ten projects get funded! I know the widget isn't super attractive, but those are the sacrifices I'm willing to make for my beloved.

I'll try to update this week while we're chillin' in the WI, especially since Matt won't be here. Happy July yo!