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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where I've Been

Amazing how fast a week can go! I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted. I guess we've been busy. Dear Husband has been busy for the past few weeks tearing apart the floor trim in the entire lower level of our home (which is approximately 1700 sq feet) and trimming the perimeter of the wood laminate flooring that covers every room except the lower bathroom and lower kitchen, in which there is tile. Several weeks ago the flooring on that level began to create a massive bubble. Dear Son wouldn't walk on the floor and would stand to one side screaming, "No! It's bumpy! It's bumpy! I wanna hold ya! (which means, 'I want you to hold me')."

I did what most every American in my generation does to find out about things of which one knows nothing: I G**gled words and phrases like "laminate flooring bumpy" and "laminate floor bubbles" and within 24 - 48 hours I was informing my husband that I my theory was that "Bonehead" (otherwise known as our home's original owner) had not allowed proper expansion room for the floor to swell in hot muggy weather. Bonehead was the one who finished out the basement, just prior to selling it to us. He was, indeed, the nephew of the original builder of the rest of our home, which was built only about 3 - 4 years ago. Apparently he didn't inherit his uncle's building talent. I found all this out by chatting with our closest neighbor, who, despite hesitating to gossip, spilled the dirt to me when I quizzed her if she knew if Bonehead had installed the basement flooring himself.

During my chat with the neighbor, I found out why it looked as though no one lived in this house when we originally took a little look-see at it before deciding to purchase it. It looked like no one lived here at the time, because, in fact, no one did. It seems that the home furnishings were all "staged" to appear as though someone lived here, though we thought it odd they didn't have a washer and dryer. They did have a crib, a highchair, and living room and bedroom furniture. There were clothes in the closets, etc. etc. It seemed that someone must live here, and yet it seemed sparsely furnished, and exceptionally clean for having three or four children living here as we were told.

Apparently the couple, who each had previous marriages, had a combined total of at least four children. During the epic ice storm of the winter previous to our purchase of the home last year, the wife apparently ran off with the tree-trimmer who was out early spring doing his job of trimming damaged trees. So she didn't live here anymore. I don't know why the husband moved out before selling the house, but apparently he did. This would fit with the approximate time frame that the house hit the sale market in April, and would fit the approximate time line for when the wife would have met the tree-trimmer and begun her affair and moved in with him. He apparently lives only a couple miles from here. It also fits the story our Realtor told us, which was that the previous owners were in need of a quick sale because they couldn't afford this place anymore. What we didn't know at that time was that they had both moved into different dwellings and needed to ditch this joint. The husband's aunt was their selling Realtor, and so she apparently thought it important that the place not look vacant.

I digress.

So I did my research on the floor thing and called Dear Husband at work the next morning to tell him that apparently Dim Bulb had ignored one of the cardinal rules of laminate floor installation: you MUST leave up to 5/8 of an inch along all sides for expansion. "This is a floating floor," I informed my husband. "It expands and contracts with the air temperatures. You're also not supposed to lay the flooring through doorways without installing a T-molding, as each room is to be able to float and move independently." I went on, "Also, you're not supposed to install a solid length of flooring that exceeds 30 feet." The basement is quite open with only one completely walled off room in the back that serves as the fourth bedroom. Or, in our case, the office. This means that there is much much more than 30 feet from one side of the basement to the other. I went on to explain that this wasn't as bad as it sounds, as one could "simply" trim the perimeter of the flooring to allow the proper expansion space.

In the same conversation, Dear Husband informed me that he had taken a trip to Home Depot on his lunch break and found they still carry the same brand of flooring as the partial box left in the storage room of our home. Given the completely unnatural amount of rainfall we've had since February, we hadn't ruled out our worst of horrifying possibilities: that moisture had seeped through the concrete and we had water damage causing the floor to lift.

I had all but ruled this out of my own thoughts as the evidence of improper floor installation was mounting as I did my research. I resumed discussion with Dear Husband about the likeliness of improper floor installation, and Dear Husband said he spoke with the associate at Home Depot about trimming the perimeter of the flooring with a dremel saw. "A dremel saw!" I exclaimed. "Oh no! You'll burn that thing up! It won't be powerful enough! You're gonna need a toe-kick saw for this job!" On his next visit to Home Depot, Dear Husband spoke with another associate about the circumstances, and the older and wiser associate supported the theory of lack of proper expansion space as well as the proper fix of trimming the perimeter to establish the proper space. He also asked my dear husband if he had the right kind of saw to do this job. Dear Husband confidently replied, "I'm planning to rent a toe-kick saw." To which the sage associate enthusiastically replied, "Yeah! That's the only way to go!" As Husband proudly told me about this conversation later, I smugly asked him if he had told the associate that he had learned from his wife that this was the saw he needed.

We were (relatively speaking) relieved that when the trim came off the walls, we discovered that Bonehead had, indeed, snugged the flooring right up against the walls. To Dear Husband's credit, he was the one that ripped off all the floor trim, trimmed the perimeter of the entire 1700 square feet with that crazy bad-ass saw, added the necessary T-moldings between rooms, made one helluva mess, and then reinstalled all the trim and retouched the paint as needed to make it look good as new.

Jobs like this take a long time around our house. The kids are at ages that require almost complete constant oversight, and Dear Son is a total Daddy's boy. This means that her requires lot of personal attention from his daddy. Our schedules do not allow time for these sorts of chores during the week. And so, a couple hours here and a couple hours there weekend after weekend after weekend has finally seen us to the end of this most annoying chore.

Additionally, sometime in the past couple weeks, in the midst of the flooring mess, there was a massive thunder storm that blew out the main computer in our home. I really don't understand all of this stuff the way my power-sawing, computer geeking husband does. What I do know is that I tried to boot up the desktop computer one day, only to discover that nothing happened. It think it was nearly a week after that before Dear Husband had the chance to do enough of an autopsy on the machine to determine that it was not the power supply as was his original (and hopeful) theory. Apparently the machine took a surge that fried the motherboard, and something about a network interface. All I know is that the flashes of blinding lightening and the accompanying kabooms were enough to light up the bedroom in the wee hours of the night.

This has happened before. Apparently the electrical currents in such storms are enough to turn on the overhead lights in every room in the house that are controlled in tandem with the ceiling fans by remote control. And so, during deafening thunder and lightening storms in the wee hours of the morning, we find ourselves lying in our king sized log bed jolted from our slumber by the blinding overhead light. Well, actually, during storms like this Husband is usually already awake, being unable to sleep through the racket. I, however, sleep with earplugs (which is another story of its own) and so I don't typically wake up. Not even in deafening thunder storms. Last time I even slept through the overhead light coming on. Dear Husband told me about it the next day. This particular night, however, I was jolted awake by the overhead light. I am not as thoughtful as my dear husband (who let me sleep through the ordeal the last time), and I'm quite foggy in the head when awakened from deep slumber. So I began poking with annoyance at my husband who was still snoring this particular time, and inquiring with great aggravation, why in the heck the light was on in the room. I am supposing that it was the same moment the electricity in the air caused the lights to turn on in specific rooms of the house that the desktop took a surge and fried the motherboard.

All this to say that we fortunately have two laptop computers in our home, as we don't function well around here without computers. I have been crippled, though, by not being set up to download photos directly to my laptop as we always store them on the desk top where they are backed up frequently. We've since remedied the situation with proper software to my laptop, and so hopefully I will soon be posting some pics of Dear Son helping his daddy cook, playing soccer in the backyard, and Dear Son tackling his older sister. Unfortunately, I forgot the camera when I took the kids to play in the downtown water fountain, so there won't be any pics of that.

Now that the basement flooring is fixed, Dear Husband can start rebuilding the desktop computer. I suggested maybe taking the toe-kick saw to it would help, but he has other lofty ideas about rebuilding it with new parts he has already ordered for the task. Whatever. That's the kind of stuff I don't even bother trying to G**gle.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Honey, Where's the Baseball Bat?

Dear Daughter likes to play with the closest neighbor boy who is seven years old. He's the only child remotely near her age that lives anywhere close to us, so she can't be too picky. She refers to him as her "best friend." He seems to love to play with her as much as she loves to play with him.

Our properties border each other, and if he's looking out the windows at the front of his house, he can see us walking down our long driveway to the mailbox. Dear Daughter and I often walk out to get the mail right after Dear Son settles down for his nap. One day last fall, as Daughter and I were walking back towards our house from getting the mail, he must have spotted her from inside his house because he suddenly came running across the expanse of grass towards us calling, "Zoe!" And Daughter, hearing him calling her name and seeing him running towards her began to run across the expanse of grass towards him calling, "Eddie!" I watched as the two ran toward each other calling each other's names. It was like a scene from an over dramatic chick flick where the two lovers run in slow motion across the prairie towards one another, and as the girl runs into the guy's arms he swings her around in circles as the sunlight illuminates the girl's hair and sappy music plays in the background

I watched and waited, partly with simple curiosity at what would happen next, and partly with smug horror, wondering if my daughter and the neighbor boy would embrace when they mete each other in the middle. When they came to face to face, they stopped short and stood awkwardly looking at each other. I finally exhaled with relief as my mind raced forward another decade when the two are teenagers, and that's when I forced myself to stop short in my thoughts.

A few days ago, as I stood pinning clothes to the line, the smell of a warm, gentle summer breeze mingled together with the scents of sunshine and clean laundry. I got lost in the memories stirred by these smells. They were memories of my own childhood, when I would stand at the clothes basket and select item by item one at a time from the basket and hand them to my mother, who stood next to me pinning the clothing on the backyard clothesline.

Dear Daughter was playing several yards away with Eddie and his six year old friend, who is the grandson of our neighbor to the other side. Suddenly, I overheard something that quickly pulled me back from the depths of my memories. Eddie said to his friend, "Hey! I know who I'm going to marry!" He then asked my daughter when her birthday is before saying again that he knew who he was going to marry, and then he boasted to his friend that he intended to marry my daughter. I quickly tried to remember if we owned a solid wood baseball bat or not, and if so whether it was readily available. I wanted to scream loudly that my daughter is only FOUR YEARS OLD and while it's true that her birthday is coming up in several weeks, she will still only be FIVE YEARS OLD. BARELY! And that he needed to put away these foolish thoughts for at least another twenty five years if not FOREVER!

I thought seven year old boys still thought girls were "yucky."

You can bet that I will be watching my daughter, AND the neighbor boy, like a hawk until my girl is at least thirty!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Conversations from the Backyard Wading Pool

The kids' swimming pool is just big enough for Dear Daughter and I to float around a bit together. Dear Son doesn't have any interest at this time, so it tends to be just the two of us.

As we floated lazily yesterday afternoon in the hot June sun, Dear Daughter grabbed her toy sailboat as it floated past us and began to make believe a conversation amongst the imaginary crew that occupied it. As the little boat bumped into my side, the "captain" on board was overheard commenting to his first mate, "Man! That's the biggest beluga whale I've ever SEEN!"

Summer time and bathing suits haven't done much for my self esteem ever since I gave up starving myself so that I could fit my 5' 9" frame into a size 3. *sigh*

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Boy and His Wormy

It rained yesterday. A. Lot. That means the worms came out. And that means that Dear Son was very happy. He likes to hold a "wormy" and say, "I love him!" He carries it around in his hand like his most prized possession. He drives it around in his Cozy Coupe and pretends to take it to the doctor (I have no idea).

After dragging it around in his pudgy little palm for a good long while, it was time to go inside. "Wormy," as far as I was concerned, was not invited inside. The problem was that Dear Son was not going inside without his "Wormy." I finally suggested that he put "Wormy" down for a nap in his "crib," the cup holder in Daddy's lawn chair (see picture below). At first Dear Son didn't want anything to do with that idea and was not, under ANY circumstances, going to put "Wormy" down anywhere.

Then he suddenly decided it was a good idea after all, and plunked "Wormy" down in Daddy's cup holder while he said under his breath, "Daddy will love that." It's what I was thinking as I made the original suggestion to him. Apparently I mumbled it out loud, though I didn't remember doing so. Who knows, maybe Dear Son wasn't repeating me. Maybe he really came up with the sarcasm himself. It's not like he never hears sarcasm around our house or anything.

The last picture has nothing to do with the worm story, it's just a picture of the kids taken the same day, traveling into outer space on the big-ass lawn mower. I later commented to Dear Husband that it was no wonder the doggone thing cost so much. We paid for an option that we didn't even know it had.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pics with Pete

Apparently the love affair is over, at least for now. Dear Son decided to go on potty chair strike. I'm not sure why the fickleness, but it feels like we are suddenly back to square one, so at least for the moment, ol' Pete sits neglected. *sigh*

Yes, that is a rocker "tat" on the boy-child's arm. Don't ask.

Oh yeah, and that's some chocolate at the corner of the boy-child's mouth. Apparently this pic was taken just after the last time that Peter got some attention.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Love Affair with Pete

We are having progress on the potty training thing!I finally got the whole ball rolling in full force by bribing with M&M's. Don't bother sending me comments trying to shame me for how wrong this is, because I really don't care if you think so. It worked. He got two M&M's for trying and five M&M's for actually producing something. He learned to work the system pretty quickly by dribbling a little in the potty pan and then asking for his "treat" and then five minutes later insisting on trying again and then he would make a dribble again and ask for his "treat" again. He only did that a couple times. By the next day he was going in his potty and saying "No thank you!" to treats.

I had already ordered his toddler-sized flushable urinal (Peter Potty) but it hadn't arrived yet. This is the first time I've potty trained a boy, and it's not easy keeping the pee from shooting around the room when he's sitting on a little potty chair. He's also much bigger than Dear Daughter was when she trained. She was done potty training by 22 months.

Peter Potty is a big hit with Son. It does an amazing job of containing the pee, and supposedly it can be used until they are at least four or five years old unless they outgrow it first. Our toilets are really tall, so it will be awhile before Son can stand at the regular toilet at our house to pee--unless he can master standing on a stool and aiming without falling off. I HATE the smell of stale urine, so I expect this purchase will be well worth the $35.00. Son LOVES it. He has to stand with his feet on either of the urinal's stabilizing feet and drape his arms over the top of it and lean into it, basically in a bear hug, while he does his thing. Dear Husband just snickers and says, "He's all boy!" I'll post a pic of Son with his Peter Potty later. I know you all just can't wait for that (*sarcasm*).

Son also likes to pee a little and say "That's enough!" and flush it and then pee a little more and say "That's enough!" and flush again.

The only problem so far is that Son doesn't want to pee at Grandma's house now because there's no Peter Potty there. I actually considered bringing it over with him for the day yesterday. Then I decided that if I did it once, he would want it every time, and I'd be dragging a toddler-sized urinal around with us everywhere we went. I decided he needed to learn to cope without his Peter Potty when necessary. Not sure how it went yesterday at Grandma's without Peter Potty. I had a marathon day--a 30 minute phone conference followed by five back to back individual therapy sessions, followed by a 20 minute lunch break (during which time Dear Husband had to come bring me some lunch and unlock the family mobile to get out the keys I had left in the ignition when I when I was finishing my phone conference several hours earlier), followed by a 90 minute therapy group of 10 adolescent girls, followed by three more back to back individual therapy sessions. I made it home just before 8:30 pm to kiss the kids and tuck them into bed.

The last thing on my mind was Peter Potty. For Son, however, Peter Potty was the last thing he squeezed before going to sleep last night and the first thing he squeezed when he woke up this morning. It's an odd love affair, to be sure, but whatever works.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

In the Eye of the Beholder

I was doing errands with the wee ones today, and as we sat at a stoplight I spotted a red cement mixer on the other side of the intersection. Dear Son LOVES "'ment mixers." I said, "Look, Zachy! There's a red cement mixer!" as I pointed his gaze in the right direction. "Where?! Where?!" he responded anxiously, afraid he'd miss it. Then, with awe and admiration in his voice, "Oh! THERE is it!" A dramatic pause followed, and then his voice lowered just a bit with a dreamy--almost swooning--intonation as he slowly spoke his next words, "It's bootiful!"