Sunday, January 31, 2010

hold the presses

There may be a name change. Stay tuned.

if a picture paints 1000 words, where was my camera?

Where was my camera?

When I locked my keys in the car before math class and didn't realize it until I returned to said locked car. (On the way to class I had thought my purse seemed much lighter than usual--doh!)

Where was my camera?

After math class (and rescue by Jr with Jack's car key) when Audrey and Ellie spent the night in the gardens with us, giving so many moments to remember--

Where was my camera?

How did I miss photos of Audrey and JoJo playing ball toss
and Ellie and JoJo kissing on the lips (sorry about that Shi).

Where was my camera?

To capture Audrey's almost-three-year-old comments:

Regarding Ellie:

Put 'er down I want you now, gwamma, I no wanna wait for Eleanor I'n sit on your lap too

but also:

Oh, Bay-Elly so cute. (accompanied by much kissing on the head)

To Gramma:

While playing with the princesses and their house--Gwamma, you be this one in the howwwwwssss. I be this one who twick you and shut the door.

and then

We pway with 'ore markers, you dwaw me a snow bunny an a momma bunny an a daddy bunny an a JoJo dawgie an a Audrey bunny. An a house wit a gween dohr.

Where was my camera?

To memorialize when Audrey used the potty--her little potty and gramma's big potty--and to note that Audrey totally knows quantities and sizes of stickers that accompany her various pottying accomplishments.

Where was my camera?

When I foolishly suggested that Audrey could wear a pullup if she wanted to sleep in my bed, to which she replied: "Gwamma, I no weahr diapers anymoe."

Where was my camera?

When finally, Ellie was asleep in the playpen, Audrey was passed out across Jack's pillows and JoJo made her way to the part of the bed where Jack's bum usually rests--

and Jack, entering the bedroom, gazing on the chaos of two hours of girls in the room, looks at me, Audrey, and JoJo, all three of us, sprawled across the king-sized bed and said, "Maybe I'll move the new bunkbed mattress onto the livingroom floor and sleep on that."

Where was my camera?

During the long night--(seriously, do these girls sleep more than oh, 20 seconds at a time? How do Stu and Shi survive?)--when Ellie called out (or perhaps it was more a scream of "where am I" terror) every 30 minutes, clearly having no part of my attempts to replace her pacifier while under my cloak of invisibility, and after three failures, joined Audrey, JoJo, and me in the king-sized bed.

Where was my camera?

To capture a picture of the long, brown dog, ever on guard for the safety of the soft blond-haired toddler, the fuzzy blond-haired baby, and the arms of the concerned gramma wrapped around everyone in the king-sized bed?

Where was my camera?

To capture the nonstop waking of kids caused by the licking of kids by JoJo or the snuggling of kids by JoJo, which caused the crying of kids who are not used to kissing or snuggling with a live dog all through the night.

Where was my camera?

When Audrey announced that since Gwamma was too tired to get toys from the basement that even though it was dark down there, she would get them, and then returned shortly thereafter, almost in tears, asking "Where my mommy & daddy?" since she had assumed they were still down there playing rock band... followed closely by a drowsy, recently startled awake, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes because it was 4:30 a.m., Jr (in red boxers) asking, "Is everything okay?"

Where was my camera?

When I woke Jack, the drummer, and Jr, shortly before leaving to take my first math test of the semester (at 8-freakin' a.m. on a Saturday morning!), when I gave each his own instructions regarding the care and feeding of two little girls. How did I miss:

The drummer feeding a bowl of mush and a bottle to Ellie.
Grampa and Audrey, sitting on the bed, playing trains and drawing on the white board with the markers while Jr went out to pick up McMuffins and cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk for breakfast.

Where was my camera?

When I parked next to my professor still in his car in the teacher's lot, saw the first question on the test, immediately forgot everything, including basics like what numbers are for, regained my composure, freaked out a tiny bit when people began exiting the classroom after finishing their tests when I was still trying to figure out the second problem, again regained my composure when I realized there are always a few smarty-pants math know-it-alls in every math class, finished the test with fairly high spirits and returned home.

Where was my camera?

When I entered the house, the drummer announcing, "Dad's changing Ellie's diaper, a big, stinky one." And Jack agreeing that it would be a good idea if the girls, Ellie in particular, had a bath.

Where was my camera?

To get a shot of me sleeping it off--

Until the call around 6:30 pm--(two-weeks ahead of schedule)
The long wait in the uncomfortable chairs and the broken recliner--
Until 2:37 a.m. for one push

And the arrival of the newest redhead

Natalie Paige Kilger 18.5" 7 lb 15 oz

Precious life-affirming cry

Plump arms and legs (check out the nurse getting ready to torture, uh, massage her)

Cheeks and lips and a chin like her daddy

Sweet girl like her momma

Ready to face anything.

Monday, January 25, 2010

and then i stayed in bed

Thursday morning--back spasms begin
Friday--sore, but painted walls anyway
Saturday--still sore, but painted walls again anyway
Sunday--still hurting, but painted the ceiling, two coats, and that room looks so great
Monday--sore, aching back wins--spent the afternoon in bed with the heating pad. Maybe tomorrow I will be back to my usual flexible, graceful self.

Jeez, that probably means I'm about to take a fall...

And by popular demand, here's a picture of my four amazing kids, two darling girls, and me with my usual glorious happy face. This one is from Shi's Facebook--Stu's birthday, just two months post-transplant. Not one of the best photos of us, but I really like that all four of my kids are together.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

what can i say?

Did I work 40 hours this week? Yes, ma'am, I did.
Did I make it through my first week of math? Yes, except for that one class I missed because--
Is my back feeling all better? No, sir, it is so not all better, but--
Did I finish the last coat of brioche and library red paint in the study? Yes, yes, I did.

So, there you have it. A coat of paint on the ceiling and in the closet and a bit of touch up on the trim and the study will be ready for a new floor. And then we can move in the desks and the books and computers and lights, and then the guest room will be ready for bunk beds and then--

let the sleepovers begin.

ps I found this photo on Shi's facebook. Four generations on the way to the ballet--

Thursday, January 21, 2010

what? whining again?

Well, not exactly.

As recent posts indicate, I've done a mess of rolling on paint in the last week.

Yesterday morning, I woke with some seriously achy wrists that were surprisingly loosened up after I ran the hot water on them in the tub.

This morning, I woke feeling so much better that I cleaned out the kitty litter box, made the bed, and emptied and filled the dishwasher before leaving for work. Unfortunately, as I bent to put away the clean saucepans, my lower back muscles, in one of those amazingly painful, astoundingly brief moments of life, contracted into spasms, causing my legs to forget their job of holding me upright, leaving me once again startled by how quickly I can find myself on the floor with JoJo hovering above me and licking my ears.

I'd like to blame both of these physically irritating events on advancing age, but the truth is that the first time my back went into spasms I was three months pregnant with Jessie. The wrists are probably due to too much mouse clicking during my world champion solitaire stage.

Since I vowed on Monday of this week that this would be the first full week I would work all 40 hours this year, having taken off time with mom for her surgery during the first week and staying home a whole day last week to sleep, I forced myself to stand, nearly upright, made my way to the non-narcotic muscle relaxant, and snuggled down into the wonderfully comfortable seat of my sweet little car and drove myself to work, stopping only to pass through the chai tea drive-up window. Whoever invented that drive-up window idea is my hero.

Yes, I stayed at the office all day today. Yes, I donned my jammies immediately upon entering the house after work. Totally is how much I love Jack for bringing me mint chocolate chip ice cream and Jr for bringing me samoa ice cream later in the evening. Although I am feeling a bit over the top full of ice cream right now. If that is possible.

Only one more work day this week. I can do this.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

how do we feel about brioche?

Turns out we like brioche better than powdered allspice when paired with library red.

This is powdered allspice (with blue painter's tape):

This is brioche (ditto the tape):

Brioche on the left, powdered allspice on the right:

Don't know if the pictures truly captured the horror of the may have to trust me on this one.

ps. This dog is fast even when she's laying around eating a Milkbone (that I gave to her yesterday morning that she left on my blogging chair I think because she was laying on my chair all day so she could feel near to me while I was at work.)

pps. On my drive home from up north today, not only did I see melting snow, sunshine, and blue sky, but several trees were beginning to show their new growth wood--a vibrant orangish-red color on the new ends of the branches. Even if it doesn't feel like winter will ever end, trees never lie.

Spring will come again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

one toke over the line

Before I begin the true story of this post, let me update you on the bff project.

I think we have reached that point in the cartoon where the cats in the house pull stunts that get the dog in trouble. That's really all I can say right now except that we haven't given up yet.

About the true story of this post. I think I mentioned Jack and I are working on an office upstairs in the gardens. We have hardwood floor to install, but of course, first the walls needed new paint. Jack and I agreed on library red for the below-the-chair-rail area and powdered allspice for the above-the-chair-rail area. It sounded so good, in fact, that I've been thinking about renaming the room "The Study."

Did I ever tell you the story about the color I painted the dining room when we first moved here? It was a delightful, sunny, sponged-on yellow. I loved it. (note the past tense.) Every time Jack's mom came for a visit, her first words were, "Oh my, this is soooo yellow," as if that were a bad thing. Eventually I gave up and painted it a muddy brown that suited almost everyone most of the time.

Back to The Study. I put on the second coat of library red tonight and began the powdered allspice. Almost immediately, I began to feel as though the room was closing in on me. Like it was a giant shadow behind me. Do you remember the crayon color combinations you liked when you were in, oh, maybe, 2nd grade? Because all this room needs is a pair of white patent leather kneehigh boots to complete its outfit. I think this may be the first time in recent memory that I'll need to test the thing I've said for years about painting--if you don't like the way it looks, go buy another gallon and repaint it for what, $20? I was convinced that Jack would be asking if I thought I was preparing a room for the girlies, but he simply, quietly, gasped, held his breath and his tongue, and said, "Maybe it isn't the powdered allspice. Maybe it's the library red."

All I know for sure, is that if I don't change something in there, Jack's mom will never comment about my yellow dining room again...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

you are so not going to believe this

But I am in a math class. Oh yes, another math class. Okay, so it isn't a different math class, it's 1010. Again. I don't have to take it again. I want to.

Seriously. Quit laughing.

I got a C+ when I took an online class during the summer of 2007. It should have been a better grade, but online classes are risky because if you don't pay close attention when the teacher changes the due dates, you can get confused and find yourself unable to turn in your last assignments and there goes your B. That you worked off your tail to earn. If only it had been my thighs I'd worked off. I might not be so bitter about the C+.

Anyway. I need to take two more math classes, but decided that I'd better redo 1010 because a) I needed a good review after two & a half years away from math, and b) I'm a grade hog--I want at least a B because I am above average-plus, which is the very definition of C+.

So. I'm in Friday night/Saturday morning math 1010 class, my teacher's name is Ping, and after sitting through the first session, I realized that nobody in that class is any smarter at math than me because if they were, they would have taken this class in high school or tested out. So, see, I fit right in. Even if most of the class could be my grandkids. Okay, maybe not my grandkids, but certainly my surprise babies.

oh--the picture of Audrey? Has nothing to do with this post. I saw it on Shi's facespace and something about it was so sweet that I pirated it to share with you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

here i go again

I have the secret to speedy recovery. Try this next time you get the sniffles.

Stay in your adorable jammies all evening and all the next day. Lay in your comfortable bed, between your lovely sheets. Only rise to visit the facilities or the fridge or the tylenol bottle. Make certain you have a big box of soft tissues by the bedside. Sip warm tea and eat noodles mid-day, still in bed. In an effort to entice readers to offer massive quantities of sympathy, pretend you are an adult man and post a long, detailed, whiny blog about how crappy you feel. Make certain you let everyone know that you are more sick than anyone ever before. Sleep all night and all day and all night. Before sleeping the second night, take a nice warm bath, wash your achy body and hair, and brush your teeth before donning another adorable set of jammies. Eat ice cream for dinner. Again, sleep all night.

And there's one more thing that helps.

This morning, I drove north for work, convinced that the sky would clear, the haze would be gone and I would be breathing easier. Boy was I wrong. The further north I went, the thicker the air soup. For the last 30 miles, the fog was so dense, I couldn't see approaching vehicles until we were nearly passing each other.

Then, the other thing happened. Mid-morning, the fog began to lift, the sky was a beautiful blue, and the sun was shining. That sunshine on my skin was the final antidote to the ache in my mind and felt like a big smile from the sky that spread all over my soul.

Warm, brilliant, glorious sunshine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

perhaps it wasn't the bad air

i woke this morning at 4 with a grumbling, hungry stomach and a heavy, achy feeling all over my body. my runny nose from last night had been replaced by a dry, stuffy, man-do-i-wish-i could-breath nose. even in the darkness, i could see that the stomach issue and the achy feeling would only be resolved if i got up and rummaged around for something to eat and something to wash down the acetaminophen. somehow, i rose and dragged myself to the kitchen for a bowl of wheaties with bananas, downed the tylenol, and headed back to bed.

i woke again as jack was leaving for work. shortly thereafter, i heard the stirrings of the boys as they prepared and left for school. i was certain that before he left, jr would come into my room to check on me and would offer to pick up a cup of warm chai tea, but to my dismay, i heard the front door open and close twice and then the house grew still.

jojo followed me to the kitchen, watching as i toasted, buttered and then sprinkled cinnamon and sugar on two slices of eight grain bread. the strawberry kiwi crystal lite did the job of washing down more of the tylenol, but it was so unsatisfying when all i really wanted was a warm chai latte.

i had this idea that if i got up and got moving that i would lose the aches and could soon be dressed and off to work. i sat down in my blogging chair intending to eat my toast, read my favorites, comment wittily, and then prepare to leave, but soon realized the little bit of energy i'd had in me was gone. i oozed back to bed.

all morning i slipped in and out of sleep. each time i woke up, i was convinced my fingers had mysteriously become fat sausages, unable even to open a bottle of diet coke. my usually smooth gliding joints--ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, eyelids--had changed and now felt as if they were all formed from cement that was hardening more and more each second and were far too heavy for my weakling muscles. i kept hoping someone would come in and brush my teeth for me.

when not awake pondering my heavy joints, i slept the fitful day sleep that is accompanied by freakish dreams that today included a trip to a lake with jack and someone's boys, not ours, who insisted on ski jumping over my back as i lay near a ski jump, which then morphed into jack deciding it was lunchtime and he wanted a tuna sandwich but all three cans of tuna in the pantry were bulging and i couldn't convince him that was an indication of spoilage and if we just waited a bit our boys would be home with lunch for him and tea for me. for some reason, the next door neighbor from my childhood, medford, appeared in the dream, riding his lawn mower around his yard after greeting jack. i was surprised to see med still mowing his lawn since i thought he passed away several years ago. i was sad to see med alone, a man who spent his entire life providing for his family, leaving early each morning in a white shirt and tie, returning each evening for dinner and whatever else it was that suburban men did each evening in the post-1960 era.

ever on guard, jojo started and sat up, alert, hearing something, which something was a friend of the drummer, entering the house through the garage, singing at the top of his lungs. jo didn't bother to go greet him but instead curled up tightly against me. i wondered if the friend would wander through the house and find me, but his journey stopped when he reached the desk and the computer and facebook.

my dozing was interrupted again when guard dog sat up again and then leapt from the bed, thundered down the hall, and greeted the drummer as he entered the house, also singing at the top of his lungs. somewhat surprisingly, the drummer came almost immediately to my room, asking how i was feeling, did i need anything? i said i felt achy but was okay. he headed back to the kitchen.

within a few minutes, jr arrived. he, too, visited my sick room, asking how i felt, did i want a cup of tea, and oh, would it be okay if they used my debit card to pick up fast food from panda express? i agreed to all requests and returned to my fitful sleep. all i really wanted was a cup of soothing, warm tea. and some more tylenol.

almost as quickly as it started, the commotion of boys in the house ceased. the computer typing stopped, the tv was turned off, the singing voices quieted, and the slamming of the door was the final sound before the house was once again, silent, sleeping.

i lay in my bed, listening for the sound of a car entering my driveway, but heard only car after car driving by, continuing down the street. after what seemed like forever, jojo again sat upright, leapt from the bed, and thundered into the kitchen to greet her boys, who were, this time, bringing food, and glorious tea. jr brought in a plate of chow mein with my latte. i had not realized how hungry i was, much to jojo's disappoinment, as she watched me greedily wolf down all of the noodles and veggies. in the end, i shared my fortune cookie with my fast food buddy, and while it seemed obvious that the fortune was all about me--"your optimism and courage are your best traits"--i realize as i type this that guard dog is all about courage and who could be more optimistic than a dog who waits mostly patiently hoping for the last bite of chow mein?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

i don't know if i should tell you this but

Was it Christmas today? Or my birthday?

1. New haircut.
2. First facial ever.
3. Two hours of someone else cleaning my house.

Yes, that was my after-work day. You see, for Christmas, Jr gave me a gift certificate for a visit with the stylist who cuts his hair and she did a great job cutting my hair and then did my first-ever facial, including eyebrow waxing. So totally pampered, that's me. Fragile, delicate flower.

And that cleaning lady in the gardens today? Jr traded some of the stuff we don't need in the gardens for what will amount to almost six weeks of two-hour weekly cleaning sessions. Seriously, we may be messy around here, but two hours of cleaning amounts to vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, mopping, dishes, kitchen tidying, and best of all--clean bathrooms. Sooooo great. You see, yard sailing = bartering = clean house. Did I raise that kid right or what?

Okay, so I'm sneezing my head off and my nose is a runny mess today, but still how could I complain, really?

Monday, January 11, 2010

so you don't miss it

The next post is all about the cute girls. In case you need some pointers, please review the following:

everyone was here yesterday

For the first time in I don't know how long, we were all together in the gardens.

Question: Who thinks Uncle Herschel is cute?

Question: Who thinks these girls are cute? Easy A.

these ideas are so not related

1. Not to be blasphemous, but who does this look like? With that thin face and that long hair and that beard and mustache (and the use of the word blasphemous), seriously, who might it remind you of? Because you know, I'm not the only one who thought that if Jesus had blond hair and green eyes...

2. I had this great idea today about what we, here in the valley of solid, thick, nasty air could do to clean it up so we can breath easier. Let's all set out every fan we can find in our homes and garages and sheds and basements and storage units, face them to the east, and turn them on. Certainly that would stir up the air and if we point them towards the sky a bit so they blow all together in the same direction, up over the mountains, don't you think we would all feel an easing in our lungs? I mean, we can't face them to the west or north or south because those are the directions the storms come in from, and if we face them directly east, the dirty air will just hit the mountains and blow right back into our faces. But if we point the fans towards the top of the mountains maybe...

It just might work.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

her most recent surgery

I think I forgot to mention that my mom had surgery on her foot last week. A few highlights:

1. One of the tendons in her foot had a tear and she also had a neuroma between two of her toes on the same foot.
2. Her doctor had recommended treating both issues conservatively (i.e., rest).
3. Within a few weeks of diagnosis, surgery was scheduled, because we all know mom is not one to sit around resting.
4. Three times during the day before surgery, mom assured me that she would be fine driving herself to the hospital and dad would be fine driving them home because even though he has not driven a car in at least two years and has lost most of his eyesight and traffic isn't heavy around the new hospital on 5300 South State during rush hour (whaa? it is a freeway access street and the Costco is next door?), it's only two miles to their house and she could give him directions.
5. On the morning of the surgery, Jack and I went to work and mid-morning he called me to ask when I wanted to go to the hospital. We decided he could drop me off, I'd wait with dad and then drive them home in their car.
6. On the way to the hospital, I called mom's cell phone and my sister-in-law, Paula, answered. Apparently dad was at home with stomach flu or food poisoning or something so she had their cell phone because he could speed dial that number to check on mom. However, Paula needed to leave before mom would be ready to go home, so there was some question about who would be driving mom home.
7. Paula waited until mom was back in the room with us before leaving, taking mom's prescription with her and stopping to fill it and drop it off with dad on her way home.
8. Mom's doctor stopped in to explain the surgery to Paula and me. He said that the tear had been quite small, which meant he could have just left it to heal with conservative care, but then he said, "Then I thought to myself, what would Jeri want me to do? And then I attached a piece of tendon to strengthen the torn area." He said that was why it took him longer. Then he told us about the neuroma, which is a nerve that has enlarged. He said that it was fairly small, he'd certainly seen much larger, but once they start to hurt, the only way to eliminate the pain was to remove it. Then he said, "We all know Jeri--she's like a train coming down the track--no stopping her. So I feel good about the surgery." Paula and I smiled knowingly at him.
9. Paula left after we met up with mom in the recovery area. Mom kept telling me she was cold, and I remembered seeing the warm blanket container by the nurses' station, and they told me I could get as many as she needed, so I kept going back, putting the warm one next to her skin, piling them on until there were six of them wrapped around her. She was still shivering, and I remembered that feeling from coming out of anesthesia in the past, so I leaned over her, wrapped my arms around her and calmly told her to take some slow deep breaths and relax. As I held her in my arms, for the first time in years, I felt her relax for a moment. And the shivering stopped. But then, just as quickly, the shivering started again, so I quietly reminded her to take some deep breaths and relax, and she did and once again, the shivering stopped. After repeating this several times, the shivering stopped for good. I sat up, still perched on the edge of mom's bed, with my hands still gently on her arms, and we looked each other in the eye. That is when mom said, "" I told her it wasn't a zit but was my cancer. She asked if I was going to have the same procedure she'd had to remove a skin cancer and I said I was just joking, I didn't have cancer. And that's when she looked at me and said, "You know, I really like your grey hair."
10. On the way home, after I somehow figured out how the hospital valet service works and somehow figured out how to drive the two miles home with constant directions from mom, I called Jack to tell him we were on our way and if he could come pick me up that would be great but if not, I'd be happy to walk. And mom said, "Were you joking about that walking home?"

And that is just a snippet of the afternoon of mom's surgery. She is healing well, scooting around the house on a knee scooter. She keeps trying to get dad's hearing aids into his ears, but he is making a stronger effort to keep them in their cases. Life as usual continues.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

a bit of something

I had a few--three, to be exact-- thoughts floating around my brain today while I pulled up carpet tackstrip and the billions of staples that were holding down the carpet pad in the room formerly know as the "TV room", soon to be known as the "Office". Yes, I know, we haven't finished the basement remodel project yet, but working on the basement remodel project gave me plenty of time to realize that we needed to shuffle around some furniture, which gave me (and, of course, Jack) the idea that we could easily move around the furniture in our bedroom, which would give us space for a new office and a new guest room now that Jr and the drummer don't want to leave the basement. My biggest concern (about the project that is, because, of course, my biggest concerns are about world peace, healthy babies, and all other serious stuff), was that we'd given the former guest room bed to the drummer, so we'd have to purchase another bed, mattress, blah, blah, etc., but then, in what I consider a true streak of genius, I realized that the guests we would be inviting into our guest room would all be delighted to sleep in our boys' bunkbeds (made by Jack many years ago, still solid as a rock), because, of course, the guests will be the girlies.

So. While using many manly handtools today, I had three thoughts.

First, I've thought for a long time that Brian Williams from NBC News has got to have the best face for a caricature ever. Seriously. Don't you think?

Second. I've been meaning to explain the reason why I finally caved and got a mybook page. Ever since my kids got their spacebook pages, their blogs have suffered. Okay. Wait. Not everbody's blog has suffered. Some people continue to update their blogs and share their pictures of the adorable girlies on their blogs. But I keep hearing that everybody puts pictures on their pagebook spaces and if I want to see the pics and steal them for my blog, I need to get a spaceface page. So I did. Can I tell you though, it is overwhelmingly mindnumbing to go to my page. So many conversations going on, so many people to befriend. People (any by people I mean me) could spend all of their time just catching up and responding. And I keep getting this nagging feeling that everybody is reading everybody else's business or posting about everybody else's business, like when somebody is sick or is going to the hospital to have a baby. Is this simply an efficient method of communication that I need to get on board with or else risk sounding really old and out of touch? Am I becoming Carol Makita?

Finally. Shortly after Jack and I moved to the gardens, I attended a Christmas party with the Relief Society neighbors. It was a progressive dinner, perhaps you've heard of them? It started with appetizers at the home of a nice woman, then moved to other women's homes for salad, then on to other women's homes for the entree, and then ended with dessert at the church.

As we all gathered at the first home for the appetizers, I quickly realized I knew very few women. They were all aware of me though, they knew where I lived, that we were remodeling the place ourselves (gasp!). They were friendly enough, but it didn't take long for the friends to group together and I wasn't part of any of the groups. Before long, the woman who owned the first home took us all on a tour of her home, explaining that she had finally been able to buy the furniture she wanted. All were amazed and delighted by her stunning decor. Early in the evening, the woman who we bought our home from arrived at the party. True, she had moved several miles away, but she had lived in the home for over 15 years and was a beloved neighbor who had endured numerous painful trials through the years and had been supported by many of these women. Of course, they warmly welcomed her back that evening.

We finished the first course and piled into the cars we'd arrived in to head to our assigned salad home. I'd come by myself, so I got into my car and drove straight to my garage, where I sat in my car, sobbing, as I thought about my friends in my old neighborhood, my broken-down house, all of the work Jack and I had to do to the place, how unfriendly and snobbish the women in my new neighborhood obviously were, and how there was no way I was going to spend the evening looking at somebody else's beautiful new furniture and newly remodeled home when I was living in a broken house.

Poor me.

Today, Sugar and Colleen and I went to IHOP for breakfast and to catch up. They came in to see the basement remodel and I showed them the proposed office space and the proposed guest room. They left after oohing and aahing for a bit and petting JoJo while she stood with her front paws on their shoulders. And I got this nagging feeling.

It occurs to me that my recent posts about the projects we've been working on and my tour of the place today are eerily familiar to that progressive dinner evening, but without the appetizers.

Is there any excuse for my behavior? Did I intend to boast about the projects or the furniture or the other stuff?

I don't know about the progressive dinner ladies, but I was so excited to finally, after seven years here, have the basement so close to done. I am so excited to have a place to keep our books and computers and office stuff and a place for the girls to sleep when they eventually start to spend the night at Gramma's.

And honestly, there is no way we could have paid somebody to do the various projects we've done, or bought the various things we've purchased, except that we have stumbled onto some really great deals. Seriously great deals. Well, that and we don't have a problem with yard sale crap. And there's the part about how Jack and I completed our first project before we were even married. We painted the little rental house we were going to live in during the week before the wedding because there was no way we were living in a place that was painted sky blue. In fact, the kitchen in that house was my first yellow kitchen. (Thanks, Jack!)

So, yes, we do projects around here, we've always done projects, and we will always do projects because Jack is lucky to be married to a woman who loves to buy tools of all kinds for him and because I am lucky to be married to a man who can make or fix anything if I just give him the time to think it through so we don't have to redo it part way through.

I'm hoping none of you, dear readers, have finished reading a post of mine and sat in your car, sobbing, because it feels like I've been boasting. Because as much as I like the way our home has evolved, the truth is, it's just a place. We've been lucky and blessed to be able to fix it up so that our family can all be together in one place and enjoy some good times. And that is the real joy in the remodeling. The time we spend together, planning, working, laughing, sometimes sulking, and then, when it is done, playing, talking, and being together.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

santa baby

When we moved to the gardens, somehow, Jack talked me into buying a fake tree. He used logic like, he'd found a really great deal on a very lifelike tree at the big fancy place where crafty women buy their Christmas decor.

He had tried to talk me into the fake tree for years because he hates the very things about buying a real tree that I love, i.e., walking around a tree lot, outside in the cold winter air in the snow, looking at all of the options until we settle on the perfect tree, which then requires that Jack haul it to the truck, drag it into the house, trim off the bottom, drill a hole in the bottom, set it up and cover it with lights and cords, and then live with a tree that is not standing straight upright, for two weeks, until the needles all dry up and drop off, clogging the vacuum so it won't suck up much of anything, until I empty it, which is always a sad day because then we lose that fresh pine scent that accompanies vacuuming.

When Jack finally wore me down and I agreed to look at a fake tree, his final offer was that I could get a real tree for the basement and we would buy new ornaments for the new fake tree. Any kind of ornaments I wanted--because I suspect Jack knew I'd never want the fancypants crafty store expensive ornaments on a tree that I didn't even want in the first place.

And he was right. And that is how the Santa tree was born.

After we bought the fake tree, we went to the drug store across the way from the expensive crafty store and I began collecting Santa ornaments and declared that the only allowable ornaments would be Santa. Looking back, I am amazed that not only did I agree to a fake tree that year, but I also developed a theme for that tree. Uggg.

However. I have collected quite a variety of Santas since then. I mean, what Santa tree would be complete without a Santa rabbit? And the scraggly-looking Santa is one of the originals from the first year. The flat wooden Santa was from our stash of ornaments we'd collected through the years.

One of my favorites is the cowboy Santa

I bought the jack-of-all-trades Santa thinking it reminded me of Jack, but then I noticed that this Santa has not only tools but a bucket of paint and that's when I realized he was really a Gilian-of-all-trades because everybody knows that I do the painting around here.

This funny little guy is holding some type of dessert and a fork?

And I have several of these tiny little guys

This starfish Santa is from our trip to the Bahamas last year.

And what is a Santa tree without a Santa snow globe?

We even have a Santa star for the top of the tree.

Last night I took all of the ornaments off of the tree and prepared to wrap them in tissue paper to store them for next year. I have no idea how this guy got on my Santa tree--I mean, he's cute and all but where's his beard or hat? Wait--he does have a candy cane. That must have been enough.

I intended to take a picture of this angel Santa and horror of horrors! what is that Dupont #24 Chevrolet Jeff Gordon car doing on my Santa tree?

EVERYBODY in the gardens knows the only non-Santa ornament allowed is the #3 Goodwrench Service Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet! SHEESH!

Did I mention the tissue paper I wrap all of the ornaments in that somebody absolutely LOVES! to roll in, play with, shred, and look adorable when surrounded by?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

uh, who was that blogger?

Okay, there's been a bit of anxiety around here for some reason of late and it seems to have taken over my, uh, whole self, relationships, mind, blog--everything!

So first, please accept my sincere apology for my somewhat snippy post yesterday.

Seriously. I'm sorry. And I haven't checked facespace or my gmail account all day so I'm breathing much easier today.

And I had this great idea about how I could take it all down a notch and begin by taking pictures of little bits of things I like in the gardens. Good idea, right?

So this is what the new pillows on the theater room furniture are supposed to look like--round:

and square:

This is the dismembered tassle (but note the lovely carpet): of many feet...

...the top of the back of the settee...

...some of Jack's woodworking around a window...

Here's the pool table:

pool table feet...

and the cue rack:

Moving upstairs, this is the amazing bench from my previous post. This is the awesome upholstery that was under the nasty 80's floral print. I love the way it was trimmed.

A quick shot of the flowers on the bar because how can you not have flowers in the house when you can't see the sky or sun outside?

Finally, there's the bathroom upstairs. The first room we remodeled when we moved to this place, but I've never been really very happy with it until last weekend when I found and bought this shower curtain and towels:

and this rug:

that, surprisingly, look pretty great with the dozen or so original shower tiles like this one that are scattered around the shower. You may remember this pattern from the 1970's--if you were alive:

And, lastly, a quick shot of the edge of my newest nightgown hanging on the bathroom door. It is the most comfortable sleepwear ever. And I like my doorknob too.