Monday, January 25, 2010

What A Difference Nine Years Makes

It has been a couple of years since Mike and I worked on a home improvement project together. I believe the last one was finishing the bathroom in our previous house before we moved. In our last house we did a lot of projects together. Usually it was me coming up with (obsessing about) an idea and Mike helping me bring it to fruition.

One of the first projects we did together (and almost the last) was the infamous swing set of 2001. I was 8.5 months pregnant with Bev and in nesting mode. We decided that before she came we would get Andrew a swing set. We bought it for $350 at Toys-R-Us. We had done our shopping--it was the best price we could find for everything that we wanted. We also got a purple turtle sand box. I had visions of happy children playing blissfully in the yard. I hadn't invisioned the "domestic" that would occur during the building of said playset.

We didn't have all of the instructions, and the ones we did have had been "roughly" translated into English from Chinese (I think it was Chinese.) I was great with child, so I did what I could. I sorted all of the nuts and bolts and helped give instruction. Apparently my "instruction" was deemed "bossy." I make no bones about the fact that I am (and I am searching here for the right word) shall we say capable (I think he said controlling and perfectionistic.) He actually didn't call me a perfectionist until after assembling one side we came up with several extra bolts. That concerned me. I wanted it to be secure. He wanted it to be secure, but also completed. In retrospect, I do think that the manufacturers just threw in a bunch of stuff and called it a kit.

Anyhoo, what started out as a project that we thought we could complete on a Saturday morning ended up being finished in the dark with the help of work lights late Saturday night.

I didn't think we would ever be able to work on something like that again. But we worked it out. I'm not saying that we didn't have our issues on other projects, but they were so much more pleasant. With the help of his grandpa, his brothers and some of my family we finished our basement in the last house. My dad and I put in the sprinker system (Mike had back surgery.) I repainted every room in the house (Mike helped move all of the furniture.) We designed and built a playhouse in the basement. Grandpa helped us build Bev a kitchen and he helped Mike build cabinets in our laundry room. Mike and I built storage for a mud room. We designed and planted our yard.

I have been feeling the project bug--I get it every year at this time. I came up with a plan for a wall-to-wall desk in the craft room. I got some money and gift cards for Christmas for the project and we finally had a free Saturday, so we headed out to Home Depot. I had purchased three short filing cabinets to use as the bases and we were going to install a counter top. I told Mike what I wanted and we worked together to find the best way to do it.

We completed the project in total peace. I don't know exactly what has changed. Obviously we have learned to work well together. Although I still want things to be as close to perfect as possible, I think we are both more mellow. It might help too that I tell him how attractive I find sawdusty hair and clothes.

The wall was not totally straight, so we used a sander to make it fit. I didn't want to sand in the house, so we had to take it in and out about 20 times to get it right. He didn't complain once.

The finished project.
This project went so well, I am already making plans for the next.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

That's Not My Name

I watched SNL yesterday while cleaning. These guys were on and sang this song and now I can't get it out of my head. Jessi and I have been singing it all day long. While we were driving to tumbling she said, "Hey, Mary Jo Lisa--that's not your name."

Warning: This song is addicting.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

moving on and helping

I have not allowed myself to watch too much TV lately. It is just too hard to watch and feel helpless. I learned during the days and weeks and months after 911 that too much TV coverage meant lots of anxiety and sadness. Also, I didn't get a lot done during that time. I know that I can't let the tragedy in Haiti take over my thoughts and life, so I am limiting my exposure--you know, the whole head in the sand thing.

I did see a clip of vacationers on a cruise docking nearby and, well, vacationing. That made me sick. I get disgusted that the world just seems to be moving on--people are enjoying cruises, people are just going about their lives when this horrible catastrophe is happening.

I have kept the details from the kids, but a few days after the earthquake, Andrew got up early and made himself breakfast and turned the TV on. Apparently he saw and heard enough to break his heart. We talked that morning and I assumed he was handling it alright. That night he had a hard time going to sleep. He has had a hard time since.

Last night as we were making some different sleeping arrangements, Bev asked the question. The one I don't have an answer to. The one I struggle with myself. "Why didn't Heavenly Father stop it?" Andrew, Bev and I started talking. We did some crying too. I wanted to say the things that would help them. I told them how badly I want to help, how hard it is to feel powerless to fix or help. We talked about what we can do. We made a donation. We can pray. And then I said it--the thing that had so disgusted me about what I saw people doing--we have to move on. I told them that they have to get up and go to school and learn and grow and develop skills that they can use to make the world a better place. We also decided that we have to do something tangible to help. I had researched organizations over the weekend and decided to support the American Red Cross. We love the Church Humanitarian Center. We will be doing some projects for them.

I saw this again today and this time it took on a different meaning.

P.S. When I do watch, it's CNN--I mean Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper can deliver the news!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Fish Tale

Saturday, Mike and his two fishing buddies (John and Randy--our bro.-in-law) decided to head out for an ice fishing adventure. Mike was planning on taking our three oldest and leaving Jessica and me behind (we are not fans of the cold.) Friday night Jessi announced that she too wanted to go ice fishing with Dad. I couldn't send him with all four kids--it's a lot of work just to get them bundled up--so I decided to come along. Mike went shopping to get us hand and feet warmers and some new gloves and socks. He wanted it to be as pleasant an experience as possible (for me.)

We set out bright and early. We ate a breakfast of champions--McDonald's. Why do I not remember how awful I feel after eating that junk so early in the morning?

We watched a little Paul Blart Mall Cop on the road.

Of course, Christian was the first one with a line in the water. He stayed the longest of any of the kids manning his pole.
Here's the fish story. Randy caught a pretty big rainbow trout. No one else caught anything. The kids left their poles sitting on buckets while they played on the ice. Mike was checking something on his IPhone (I have a love/hate relationship with that IPhone--love it for the internet and Bejeweled--hate it because he is on it a lot--another story for another day.) So, he is on his IPhone when Bev's pole jerks and then flys down the hole--the whole pole just flys out of the bucket and is pulled into the water. Mike jumps up and sticks his hand down the hole to try and get the pole. All he came up with was a really cold hand. A few minutes later, Randy gets another bite. We are all like, "seriously--you get two--no fair." He reels it in and pulls out not a fish, but Bev's pole. The line was broken and the fish got away with the bait and the hook, but he pulled out her pole. It was the darned craziest thing I have seen. It was even better than catching a fish, because, I mean, he caught the pole. That is the only thing having to do with fish that happened on the trip.
Jessi and I kept pretty warm. I will not lie--this is not my favorite thing to do. I did not like hearing the ice cracking. I do not like being cold (although we had reasonably good weather.) I found myself asking Mike how he determined just how long they stayed out there. He said it all depended on the kids.
I did love being together.
Christian lost his boot a few times. Thankfully, this time no one stepped in a hole.
I got pulled around the ice a bit.

We had eight kids in the company. They had a blast on the ice. They used the ice skimmers as hockey sticks. They pulled each other in the sleds. They shoveled snow and ice into the buckets. I forget how much fun they can have just being outside.

Mike brought some hot chocolate.

A great time was had by all.

On our way home we completed a few firsts. We went to Cabela's--don't get me wrong. It was really cool, but like I told Mike, I felt in there like he probably feels in a fabric or craft store. Seriously, I never imagined there existed that much stuff for lovers of the outdoors.

We then waited for 20 minutes for some In-N-Out Burgers. I was the only one that really enjoyed them.

We were exhausted. We came home and I slept on my bed with Jessi, Bev and Kiki for THREE hours. We took a THREE hour nap! That never happens, and I loved it. It was a great end to a great day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Picture A Day

One of my goals this year for my journal/memory-keeping is to take a picture every day. So far, so good. I will not post them all, but I am going to make a digital scrapbook of them. I think it will be a great way to document our lives. Here are some of the pictures so far.

Mike made paella for Sunday dinner with my family. It was muy delicioso.

We then played our newest oldest favorite game--Bonanza. My Grandma made this Bonanza board a long time ago. I learned to play with her, my mom and my aunts when I was a kid.

Saturday night and I cut the boys' hair--I had let it get way too long. When I got Christian onto the stool, he said, "Mom, are you going to torture me?" I don't know where he gets this stuff.

Christian and Jessi helped put together Tiger's new playhouse. Entertainment for the day consisted of watching her on her playset, bringing her stuff on her playset and placing her back on the playset if she ever got off.


We finally took down the tree. The kids are actually great helpers.

This season, we lost a dozen ornaments to Tiger's antics with the tree.


We finally gave Mike his birthday breakfast in bed. Notice Tiger looking lovingly at Mike--she wants his love and acceptance so much.


We headed out to a hill near our house. It was an incredibly beautiful day--the kids took their coats off. They would sled all day, everyday if we let them.


My Christmas gift to myself--I framed recent portraits of the rascals. They are at the top of the stairs, and I just love seeing them everytime I get to the top.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goodbye 2009, You Were Awesome

Every year I make end-of-the-year scrapbook pages for the grandmas. This year I did them digitally. I love looking back at how much the kids have grown and changed in a year. It was a great year for us. I can only hope that we are as happy in 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve

On New Year's Eve 35 years ago, Mike was born. I always worry that we don't appropriately celebrate his birthday because we are too busy celebrating New Year's. We will be making that up to him over the next few days.

Our New Year's Eve started with cousins visiting and cleaning the house. Mike came home and spelled me off while Bev and I took the cat to her first vet appointment. Mike is not thrilled with the expenses associated with the newest member of the family, but a healthy cat is a happy cat. We have to get her shots so that we can get her "fixed" before she hits that special time when kitties want special time with other kitties resulting in more kitties.

Mike was also not thrilled that the nurse and vet told me that a great way to deal with bad cat behavior (which she does not have too much of) is to get him or her a friend. Seriously, I only want one more. Then I will stop. Kidding--there are no plans to get Tiger a friend. I should say that there are no plans that I have verbalized in getting Tiger a friend.

So we had our annual New Year's Eve party with the gang. Good friends who know how to make good food and provide good entertainment. It was a great time. I forgot to take pictures (I was laughing too much to remember to get the camera out) so I took one this morning of the drink area. (Notice one of my favorite Christmas gifts in the background--a sign that reads, "My cat is not spoiled...I am just well-trained."

Andrew and Bev went to my parent's house. Christian and Jessi spent the night with Katie and Courtney. The kids don't do friend sleepovers, so going to Grandma's or to the sweet cousin's is a special event. Mike and I slept in. It was heaven. The house is NEVER that quiet. I loved it, but I was happy to know that the noise and chaos of the rascals would return later that day.

Now I have some resolutions to consider--I am extending the holidays until Monday. That is when my New Year will officially begin, and with it will come the beginning of the "healthy eating and exercise plan." Not looking forward to the return to real life--I much prefer living in the fantasy world that is the holidays.