Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mariah Eats Real Food (sort of)

Well, the day has come for Mariah to eat her first almost real food. Here's a clip of it.




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Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm Never Selling a House Again

This is the first quiet, unassigned moment that I've had in days (besides the fact that I should really go to choir practice... oh, well). I feel like I've been so busy that even while I'm eating or checking my email, I'm thinking about all the things we have left to do. Going in to yesterday, I was pretty stressed about how much we had left to do, and first thing tomorrow morning, I'll probably wake up and realize how much there still is, but for right now, I'm feeling pretty good about how much we've accomplished. Here's the home projects we've completed or mostly completed: caulked the bathrooms, fixed the broken drains, painted a closet, installed flooring transitions, ran an electrical line in our garage, and caulked the kitchen tile. Then add the emptying and organizing we've done: linen closet, master bath cabinets, kitchen cabinets, kitchen pantry, closets in all bedrooms, and coat closet. Now add to that all the stuff we've hauled out of here: living room chair, freezer, and about 25 boxes of all the stuff we emptied from the closets and cabinets. I'd say we've done a lot, all considering. What's left is mostly cleaning stuff up--not to make that sound simple. There's still a ton to do. But I'm pretty proud of us, and I feel like we've accomplished a lot. Plus, if you think about it, everything we've already done is one more thing we don't have to do before we move (including all the stuff that's already packed), and that is definitely a good thing.
Yesterday, in the midst of all our cleaning, we also babysat Kaylie, one of Anna's little friends. They're not quite old enough to entertain each other very well, so we had to help them play, but they had fun. Anna is still learning how to play with other kids, and one of my big struggles is teaching her how to stand up for herself when others take her toys away. At one point yesterday, Anna was actually running away from Kaylie, who was trying to take her ball, and yelling, "Mommy, Kaylie no have ball!" with abject panic on her face. Adam sat down with both girls (while holding Mariah, by the way) and gave them a little lesson about how they can BOTH play with a ball by rolling it back and forth. Their attention wandered quickly, and their game only lasted for a few seconds, but it was so cute to watch them. Anna would stand and hold the ball, then Adam would talk to her, and with a very concerned look, she would place the ball on the ground and roll it in Kaylie's general direction. Kaylie would go get it, pick it up, and after some encouragement, roll it back with a similar look of concern. Anna's face would light up as the ball came back to her, then darken as she had to roll it back, and Kaylie was the same. It made me proud of Anna's daddy, but it also made me glad to be a grownup who understands that the ball will come back. Of course, I guess most of us THINK we understand that.
The other adventure of last night was feeding dinner to the missionaries. Here's the play-by-play. At 2:00 P.M., they call and say they're coming at 6:00. Fine. At 4:00 P.M. they call and say they're coming "between 7:00 and 7:30." Not so fine. At 6:15, I start cooking, with the house such an out-of-control mess that there's not a seat anywhere on a couch or even a place to put a plate on the table. At 6:30, I turn the rice off instead of turning the heat down, I realize that I don't know how to flavor the chicken, and I call my mommy to ask her about Greek spices. At 7:00, I realize I turned the rice off, have a tantrum, and turn it back on. At 7:15, the food is done (except the rice), so I start cleaning off the table, and Anna decides she's eating NOW, so we get her some food. At 7:30, the table is set nicely, the rice is almost done, most of the food is sitting on the table, Anna is almost done, and the Elders knock on the door. It was a good thing they hadn't come at 7:00. At 8:00, after Adam has gone to put Anna's PJ's on and after every hint we can think of, I say to the Elders, "Well, guys, thanks for coming. Sorry to kick you out, but it's bedtime." "Oh, that's okay. We understand." And they keep sitting there. So I carry a few more dishes to the kitchen, then I come back out and call down the hall to Adam, "Can you guys come out here? We need to say a prayer so the Elders can leave!" Yeah, I know--I'm such a hostess. But after I've kicked my butt for almost 2 hours to feed them dinner, the last thing I have in me is a way to push them out the door with finesse.
Other fun this week:
1) Anna and I got to go shopping by ourselves for a couple of hours on Friday morning because Adam took the day off to work and stayed with Mariah. It was so fun to be able to focus on just her for a little while. We were silly, dancing around in the stores and singing funny songs, but I just felt so free.
2) Mariah has decided that she likes to scream. Anytime that she feels she's not getting the attention she deserves, she lets out this horrible, death-like squeal. As soon as you pick her up, she gives you a big grin, as if to say, "Wow! It worked! I'll try this more often!" She was screaming during Young Women's today, and every time she did, the girls in the row in front of us would turn around and grin at her, and she would grin back like an angel. Yes, we have us a girl who knows how to get what she wants.

That's all I got. Have a good week.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Fun Evening

I was going to install a new drain in one of our bathroom sinks this evening, but I don't seem to have a wrench big enough to take the old drain off, so instead I'm going to write a bit.

Sarah and Mariah are gone for the evening so I decided that Anna and I would go for a walk.  I asked Anna if she wanted to ride in our big stroller?   (We have a small umbrella stroller and then one of those monster Graco strollers that take up the whole trunk of our car.)  She said she did because that meant we were going to pick Black Berries.  I am always amazed and the things she knows and remembers.  Up here there are black berry bushes everywhere.  When I ride my bike to and from work in the summer it is great because I get to smell the black berries that are growing a long the trail.  Last summer Sarah and I took Anna out for walks in the big stroller.  As we walked we would pick blackberries and give some to her in  a bowl.  The last time we did that had to be in September, so, at least 6 months ago.  She wasn't even two yet, but somehow she remembers.  Smart little kid.

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Getting back to our walk, I told Anna that we wouldn't be able to pick any black berries till summer and then I tried to explain that summer was not a place, but a time.  I asked her where she wanted to go on a walk and she kept saying "to Summer."  Very cute. 

Well, I needed to walk over to the tire sales place.  There is a Les Schwab's near our place, so we went that way.  It was closed, so plan B was Dairy Queen.  I jogged with Anna about 1/2 mile down the road to the Dairy Queen.  The Lunar Eclipse was this evening, so we watched that.  I don't think the moon ever totally disappeared here, but it was fun to watch and to explain to Anna.  At one point I thought it disappeared, but it just went behind a cloud.  After that Anna kept saying "it came back."

After we got home I tried to take a picture of the moon.  I couldn't find my tripod though, so the pictures aren't so good.

  This one turned out well.  :)

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This one not so much.

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After taking the pictures, I read Anna's three new library books to her and put her to bed. All in all it was a fun night with my daughter. Now it's just too bad that I can't put this drain in and that I'll probably have to buy another tool.  Oh well. 

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Define "Eventful"



This week has been both eventful and uneventful. Uneventful because we did things this week just the same as we do every week: played, cooked, went grocery shopping, went to playgroup, etc. Eventful because looking back, I feel like a lot has changed, and therefore, a lot MUST have happened. What changes am I referring to?


1) We've gotten more serious about this house-buying bit--serious enough that we've talked to our realtor and two mortgage guys. We're just waiting for a market analysis to see whether selling right now would cost more than we are willing to pay. In the meantime, we are starting to get things ready by doing all the loose projects around here that we've been avoiding (e.g. spackling the nail holes in the baseboards, caulking the backsplash tile in the kitchen, etc.). I'm trying to get all this done before we even have an appointment with the realtor because then, even if we don't sell, we'll have gotten all these annoying projects done. We're also starting to box up our clutter and move it to the garage so that things will look "spacious" in here. Those of you who've been in our condo will know how humorous the term "spacious" is. It's really got me thinking, though: what is my clutter worth to me? Is the added convenience of an apple corer worth the amount of space it takes up? Or more visually, does the usefulness of an apple corer outweigh the amount of volume that it contributes to the "stuff" in that drawer? And not just the apple corer, but all similar implements: the citrus juicer, the garlic press, the mini-tongs that someone gave us for our wedding that have never even exited the bag... Is their presence in my home justified by their limited or even eventual convenience? So I ask again: what is it worth to me? Besides an impressively existential diatribe. Hehe.


2) Anna went from sainted, obedient angel to defiant, attitudinal troublemaker overnight. Okay, so that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still. I finally had to use time-outs as a threat this week. This is a first for us. It's actually really funny--she's not afaid of time-outs--she thinks they're so interesting that when I threaten one, she gets distracted in thinking about it and forgets to continue her naughtiness. She's also developed a defense mechanism this week--closing her eyes. I think it's because when she's been naughty, I pull out my "Supernanny," get down in her face, and make her look at me so that I know she's listening. Now, as soon as she knows she's in trouble, she closes her eyes and refuses to look at whoever is talking to her. It's sort of funny, but it won't stay funny for very long. She also closes her eyes now when she thinks she's going to get hurt. She stepped on the corner of one of her toys today, and instead of moving her foot off, she left her foot there and closed her eyes, as if that would make the problem go away. *sigh*


3) Another big stride for her this week, though, is that's she's learning to say prayers. I finally got her to follow me as I talk her through one, and now she wants to pray everytime. She has said her bedtime prayer twice and four or five meal prayers. She's very proud of herself. Here's a transcript of one of her prayers.

Mommy: "Okay, Anna, say what I say. Dear Heavenly Father..."

Anna whispers: "Heavly Fahder..."

Mommy: "Thank you for today..."

Anna whispers: "Tank you ... day..."

Mommy: "Thank you for the food..."

Anna whispers: "Tank you for food..."

Mommy: "Help it be good for us..."

Anna whispers: "Hepp be good for us..."

Mommy: "In the name..."

Anna YELLS: "Jesus Christ, Amen! Yea! Anna did it!"

I know--it's SO cute. :)


3) I know you all want to know this, but since it's a big deal to me, the sole diaper changer (see previous post about Adam and the broken wrist), Mariah's BM frequency has almost cut in half this week. It's like some kind of gift, and it so wonderful, that I'm almost afraid to accept it. What if it's just a fluke?? I can't afford to get too excited.


4) Mariah is learning to like her new Bumbo seat. She started out only sitting in it for a couple of minutes at a time, but now we've got her up to almost 10 minutes at a time without fussing as long as there's something interesting going on. When she does fuss, though, she tries awfully hard to get out, and I'm a little worried that she might actually be able to do it. She's like a Baby Miss Universe -- she's so strong!


5)We've got her laughing a little more reliably now. It actually sounds like she's crying, so you have to look at her big smile before you're sure that she's really laughing. She's so funny--she smiles all the time, at almost anything or anyone, but real laughter is rare. And therefore more precious, I suppose. One of the girls at Young Women's today got her laughing, and it was so adorable, except that it was right in the middle of Opening Exercises. Everyone got distracted, and we never could quite pull things back together. Reverence among a group of girls 12-18 requires "Constant Vigilance!"


6) Adam's big fun for the week was going to the cannery yesterday to get several boxes of food storage stuff. He came home very sore, but it was for a good cause--the cause of not starving if we ever really needed it. He also found out that the project he has spent months working on at work has just been cancelled. I'll let him expand on that himself if he wants to. Let's just say that he's been a little annoyed. But if you think about it, one of the blessings of working for a big company is that they can afford to cancel your whole project without cancelling you. Thank goodness for job security.


So, obviously, the week hasn't been that exciting for anyone else, but it's been eventful to me. I've changed my whole mindset about my home and our family's near future, I've lost my obedient angel, I've stopped changing diapers 10 times a day, and I've discovered that maybe it's possible to exist without a garlic press. Who knew one so young could experience so much? *wink* Have a good week.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Year of Projects

After we moved into our condo in August 2006 Sarah and I immediately started to think of everything we could do to really make this place our own.

 

Of course we decided that we should paint.  The paint that came with our place was this horrible cheap commercial grade junk that Anna ruined the first time she threw her bowl of mashed peas on the ground.  Before we could paint though, I had to go through and fix the 500 or so imperfections in the wall.  Sarah marked them all with blue tape (the small marks on the wall behind Anna.)

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Since it's best to let the place air out a lot during and after painting we had to wait until Winter was over to paint. So, on April 24, even though it was still cold outside we started our home remodeling adventure.

 

At first things didn't go so well.  We bought some primer to put on before we actually painted anything with real color.  That was tough.  It took me 4 hours to put primer on the ceiling.  I was so tired after the first night, that I didn't know how I would get through putting the paint on the next night.  Luckily for me, Sarah painted the ceiling while I was at work and that was much easier than planned. 

 

So, with the ceiling painted, we set out to get the main room + hallway done.  I had a friend coming over to help us Saturday morning, so we had to get everything primed before then.  And once again, priming was not fun.  I don't know how long it took to prime that area, but it was a while.  And then Friday night, just before midnight our power went out.  I called the Power Company to tell them it was out.  They asked if the power was out to the whole building or what.  So, I did some hunting around.  It turned out that someone had thrown the breakers for a couple of the condos in our building, including ours.  We got the power on, but we were too tired to finish up that evening.  I got up bright and early Saturday morning to finish priming. 

 

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I didn't mind painting (too much, once), but I'm not a big fan of picking out colors. So, Sarah picked them all out. And I'm fine with that. We bought all the paint in February when Home Depot was having a $5 off coupon on gallons of paint, but that meant we didn't really get to see the colors until we started painting 2 months later. That proved to be a problem since the Apple Crisp paint looked a little too much like Pumpkin Pie. So, off to Home Depot Sarah went to find another complementary color.

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Anna had a great time during all of this. She loved to climb up on the step stool and to even lean over the paint bucket. We're just lucky she didn't fall in!

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It was really nice that the paint went on so easily. During the day we managed to paint all of the hallway and main room twice. At the end of the day we treated ourselves at Red Robin.

 

 

So, with painting done, in two areas at least, it was on to the next project

Laminate flooring

As was the case with the cheap wall paint, the cheap carpet was dirtied by Anna in about 2 weeks.  One thing that both Sarah and I don't like is having carpet under dining tables.  Too  many things get spilled and dropped.  We like clean up to be quick and easy so the carpet had to go. 

We have one big main room, that we have kind of divided into two different areas, dining and sitting.  I would have liked to only put new flooring in the area that we deemed our dining room, but it just wouldn't fit very well.  The entry into our condo makes it hard, and doesn't line up with anything, so we would have had weird lines.  I also don't cut arcs, so making nice curvy lines was out of the question. 

We chose Saturday June 16, 2007 as the day to lay the floor.  During the week prior we pulled off all the baseboards (that would need to put back on at a lower level later), pulled up the laminate in the kitchen and the carpet in the main room, and pulled the kitchen stove, and fridge out (that was a feat.)  I had asked multiple people to come help me.  My friend John, who helped us paint, came.  That turned out to be really good since he used to put flooring in with his dad.  Two other friends came too.  Anna wasn't doing so well around the noisy saws and vacuums so she and Sarah went out while we were working, at least at first (the project turned out to take longer than I was expecting.) 

We started on the right hand wall that you can see in the picture and just worked our way across the room.  By 2 PM all my help was gone and we had made it to the last row before finishing the fireplace, so we had done about 7 rows.  Then I was on my own.  Sarah came back and helped my put the large rows in place after I finished cutting them.  Around 10 PM we decided that we should be done for the evening.  There were only 5 rows to go too.  I was so close. 

I ended up just going into work late on Monday and finishing then.   Here is Anna standing on our new floor.

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After doing the main room, Sarah and I decided that we wanted to do the hallway too.  So, I got to spend my next Saturday doing the hallway.  It took me most of the day, but by the end of the day, it was done. 

This picture was taken much later (the base boards are on), but it is of the end of the hallway where Anna has all her toys.

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We still needed to paint the rest of the house, so we chose July to do that.  On the cans of paint there is an interesting warning that reads:  This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.  We were lucky we live in Washington, but just to be safe we decided Sarah, who was 6 months pregnant and Anna should go to Utah for a week while I stay at home at paint.  I was very thrilled about this.  I just love staying home by myself with all the bedrooms cleared out so that I could paint.  Ok, it wasn't that great.  But, at least I got everything painted before driving down to Utah, also by myself, to spend a week out of the fumes.  I painted the master bedroom, Anna's bedroom and the office, which is now Mariah's bedroom.  I did have a friend, John (he helps a lot), come to help, so thankfully I didn't have to do it all by myself. 

 

Here is the color in Anna's room.

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Here is the office (Mariah's new bedroom.)

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And this is the master bedroom

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So far all of the work has gone pretty good. No huge mistakes, or problems. I guess we were just biding our time and waiting for the:

Adventure of the Baseboards

We took the baseboards off in June and it's now September.  Yeah, I did paint three more bedrooms between doing the laminate and putting the baseboards back on, but having the bottoms of the walls in our main room and hallway be really ugly was getting old.  It was time to put the back on.

Putting the baseboards back on was a multi-day multi-step job.  For starters, we didn't really put the baseboards back on.  We put new baseboards on, which meant I had to cut new baseboards.  I would like to thank Josh at this time for letting me use his saw.

Next, I had to figure out how to get them to stick to the wall.  Ok, it wasn't really as bad as that.  Of course I knew you used nails, but what size and how do you do it.  The easiest way, of course is to use a nail gun and an air compressor neither of which I owned.  We bought a nail set and some nails to go with it.  After about 2 minutes of use though, I decided it wasn't happening.  Either I was using a air compressor/nail gun combo, or else they weren't going on.  Well, the second wasn't viable so we started looking into the first.  We checked out rental prices at home depot, but soon came to the conclusion that we should just buy what we needed. 

So far, with all of our projects we have been about 1/3 to 1/2 over budget.  We always seem to leave out the tools that we have to buy.  I wasn't really looking forward to spending a bunch of money on an air compressor, but at the same time I'm, not a fan of junk, so I did a bunch of looking around and what we should buy.  I settled on a small model made buy De Walt.  The problem, or course, is that you can't us De Walt and inexpensive in the same sentence.  Thank goodness for eBay and my dad.  I ended up buying two air compressors one of which came in a set with two nail guns.  I kept the air compressor not from the set and the two nail guns, and sold the other air compressor to my dad.

 

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So, now that I had an air compressor, it was time to get to work.   The nail gun made quick work of the baseboards.  I put everything on in the hallway in about 20 minutes.  But, then came the hiss.  Only I could hear it so I assumed it was the air compressor.  Nope.  I had to pull one of the baseboards back off because I didn't put it on low enough.  In pulling the baseboard pack off I learned very quickly what that hiss was.  A water pipe with a hole the size of a 16 penny nail.  So much for getting the baseboards on.

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The worst thing about hitting the pipe, besides having all the skin on the tops of my thumbs fall off because of the pressure of the water against them, was that we weren't able to finish our housing projects that weekend.  It was a long weekend, Labor Day, and we had a goal of being completely done by Monday evening.  It didn't happen.  We were able to finish in the next few weeks, but as we sat there that Saturday afternoon as the plumbers did their work we were pretty sad. 

 

So, here we have the baseboards, Anna and Sarah.  Theses baseboards had just been painted, which meant all we needed to do was take the blue tape back off, move the furniture and we were done.

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Before:

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After:

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What we learned:

Of course we had to learn something with all of these projects, so here are a couple:

It always costs more than planned.

We never seemed to have all the tools.

It always takes longer than planned.

It can be really loud, just ask Anna, to run an air compressor or a miter saw in the living room.

Not everything a stud finder finds is a stud so use magnets to locate screws holding the drywall to the stud.

I like big tools.  :)

 

All in all, I would say it was a good year.  Sarah might say differently, but I think she likes the finished project more than what we had.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'm Sick, You're Sick, We're All Sick of Being Sick...

This week has been a pretty quiet one. I'll just jot down a few memorable points.

1) On Sunday, we decided that Anna's cold was too nasty to take her to nursery, so we all went to Sacrament Meeting, but Daddy brought Anna home for "Nursery at Home." She and Daddy got to play playdough and sing some songs and eat some lunch. They came back to pick us up from the church, and it worked out perfectly because we walked straight in the door and put Anna to bed. If only every Sunday could have naptimes work out so smoothly.

2) Mariah has been sick this week, too. On Tuesday, she woke up in the middle of her afternoon nap with a terrible coughing fit, so after she fell back asleep I immediately went online and did an hour's worth of research about Croup. Of course, it turned out to just be a typical dry, hacking cough because of her runny nose, but I am now armed for any future croupiness. The upside to being so well-prepared is that if it ever happens, I won't go into immediate, middle-of-the-night panic mode. The downside is that I wasted an hour when I could have been doing something more useful with my naptime freedom. Like playing Peggle on MSN games. Hey, we all have our weaknesses. *sigh*

3) Adam and I stayed up until nearly 1:00 A.M. on Wednesday night playing Peggle. Yes, you can all tell us that was stupid, but we already know that, and we've been paying for it for two days already, so we don't need any more convincing. Sometimes it's just nice to have the freedom to do something stupid like that. Both girls were sleeping better than they have in a while, so we celebrated.

4) The really big news for the week is that we've decided to start thinking about buying a house again. With interest rates going down, we are thinking we might actually be able to afford one without moving all the way to Spokane. The question is always "Should we wait 'til prices drop more, or should we do it now in case things go back up?" At this point, it's all just talk. The only real result has been that we've decided not to do any more big spending until we are sure about what our plans are. For those of you who know us well, you know that Tax Return season is the time when our house gets outfitted with all the moderately big stuff we haven't bought through the rest of the year... like a new TV or new carpet. I love tax season for just that reason. Well this year, all that money is going straight to the bank, which means no new TV, no new carpet, and no snowboard (Adam is crying even as we speak). We even talked about returning my sewing machine, but I don't think we want to deal with that. So, while you all go out spending your tax returns, think of poor little us, sitting in our house and watching our 15-year-old, 21" TV, and say, "Sheesh, I'm glad that's not me." But hey, it's all for a good cause, right? It's worth giving up all the new TV's in the world to even have hope that the time may come soon when I don't have to carry Mariah, Anna, and six bags of groceries the entire 27 miles and 13 flights of stairs between our parking spot and our front door. (That's a bit of an exaggeration, but think about when I was pregnant a few months ago, and that's how it FELT.)

5) Anna and I watched a movie about learning to use the potty this morning, and although she's not ready for it today, I'm hoping she'll start getting idea. Cross your fingers for me. Oh, and her favorite toys this week have been the two big exercise balls that I got for Christmas two years ago, so thanks to Mom and Mom-in-law for presents with multiple uses. I never knew inflating and deflating a ball could be SO much fun. Heh.

I can't think of anything else fun this week. I can't get to our camera right now because it's locked in Anna's room while she's napping, but if I find any cute pictures later, I'll post them. Have a terrific week!