Are you sick of seeing our kitchen yet?
It's all I can think of. This one measly project has managed to affect almost every room in the house. I have nothing else to give.
So, here it is. The new oak floor has been laid and sanded once. They'll be back today to finish.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Are you sick of seeing our kitchen yet?
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Notice anything different between the pictures in this post and the picture below, taken today?
Let me tell ya, I'm not loving having my kitchen be off limits. No siree, I'm sure not.
And not only is my kitchen off limits, but my living room has been swallowed by flooring supplies and power tools (and apparently my childrens' cast off coats too, but you weren't looking at those, right?).
I'll give you more specifics as work progresses, but more observant readers will probably be able to conjecture what's being put in the old floor's place by using picture clues...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I swear, I don't know where Madeleine comes up with this stuff. Really, I don't. If you know me, you know I'm a jeans and tennis shoe kinda gal. Apparently Madeleine is not.
Now though, Madeleine's not content to just want to look beautiful, wear beautiful clothes and surround herself with beautiful things (a daily struggle, I assure you); she's writing books about being beautiful.
Here's her latest. And I'll warn you right off the top, her spelling is beyond horrific. Work with me people; we're looking at the big picture here, right?
Here it is in all its glory.
All Girls Fashion Book and Models
by Madeleine Olson (oh, and she also collated and published it, too)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I won't pretend my blog posts are error free. I recognize my writing weaknesses and have come across typos, spelling errors and grammatical errors when later re-reading my posts from time to time. Most of the time I chalk them up to rushing (I am completely incapable of slowly re-reading my posts before tapping the "publish" button) but much of the time there's no other explanation that suits other than admitting I sometimes make stupid mistakes.
Based on that, by all means, feel free to ignore this post.
Surfing around the blogosphere I'm noticing an annoying trend. How many times have you come across a blog whose content looks vaguely appealing only to see this?
blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blahblahblah.........blah blah blahblah.........blah blah
Can you read that? I can't. Personally, I'd rather have a blog's author err on the side of creating too many separate paragraphs than too few.
Here's the Public Service Announcement: if you find your post looking like the above example try proofreading and break up a single paragraph in multiple spots. I promise that it will make that post, and whereby, your blog, eminently more read-able.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Finishing a good book is always disappointing. In some ways it feels as if you've lost a good and familiar friend and, as such, I was sad to turn the last page of Betty Smith's most famous novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
It's a soft, quiet book, slow moving but interesting in its details and lack of action. It's peaceful. Oh, it's sad and full of injustices, but it's real and in reality sadness doesn't exist in a vacuum. Even throughout the worst of times in life, there's happiness, and the same is true for Francie, the main character.
I hate to delve too much into the book. I am one who never reads the foreword of a book until I'm finished with the book since, all too often, the forward's author, in its attempt to give you a feel for the book, ends up giving away key plot lines and ruins any element of surprise. I can feel the essence of the book, myself, thank you very much, by reading the book. (That said, I did enjoy the foreword by Anna Quindlen that my copy contains but, like I said, I read it after I'd finished.)
But if you're one who doesn't mind having someone give away key plot lines and would rather go into a good book knowing what you're "supposed" to look for, here's a good review from The New York Times.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Fun movie, full of exciting visual effects and a decent story. Brandon Routh, the new Superman, was a decent Superman, although his resemblance to Christopher Reeve is almost uncanny and one can't help but wonder if he was cast in the role because of that resemblance instead of his acting ability. The highlight of the movie was Kevin Spacey's villainous portrayal of Lex Luther; every scene with him was riveting. Overall, fun movie, but so far I prefer the old batch with Christopher Reeve.
What a wonderful movie! Terrifically acted and thoroughly entertaining and captivating. Superdad and I both enjoyed it immensely.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 22, 2007
You should buy this car. But don't buy it for yourself, buy it for me.
My dad is terrific. My van is now in the body shop, having its dents and dings knocked out and smoothed over because of the accident I mentioned, but purposely didn't expound on, here. Superdad and I were prepared to deal with the situation: he by begging rides to and from work and me by cramming one super large car seat and two boosters into the back of Superdad's Toyota Camry. It wasn't a fun prospect, but we'd survive.
Then along came Dad. Officially retired yet still driving press cars and writing car reviews, managed to snag this bad boy for Superdad and me to have for the week my van is supposed to be in the body shop. Isn't that nice of Daddy-kins? With the Volvo sitting so majestically in my driveway, I don't think I want my van back.
I've already pleaded my case to Superdad. He thinks our Chrysler Town & Country is more practical and spacious. He's right. But I still want the Volvo XC90, impracticality and all.
Personally I think he's still secretly harboring resentment towards me since I talked him into buying the practical and less expensive Camry last spring instead of his top choice: the Volvo S60.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure Dennis Kucinich has a better chance of being elected president in 2008 than I do of owning the XC90 within the next few years.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Let's make this simple: Superdad and I have been bribing Madeleine with stickers so that she does a better job focusing when it's time for homework. After earning a certain number of stickers she earned the reward of picking out a small toy. We had to make good on our offer last night since her sticker chart was full and Madeleine was demanding her booty.
She chose a trip to Walmart to pick out a Littlest Pet Shop toy. If you've never seen one before you simply must follow my link. In short, they're homely little cats, dogs, mice and many other types of different animals about an inch or two tall with heads, twice the size of their bodies, that bobble back and forth. They come in various colors: black, white, stripes, brown, et cetera. Madeleine loves, loves, loves these things.
So there we are at Walmart, standing in line with her two newest, homely pets and she's gazing at them affectionately and talking about how this dog also comes in this color and this cat in these other colors and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I inquired further about the colors, "Do they come in other colors, Madeleine, like pink and purple?"
Immediately I'm shot a withering look. "No, Mom," she explains patiently. "They're realistic."
Oh. My mistake.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Last night we returned home from a weekend spent far, far north of here with family playing, chatting and eating. It's always nice to be home, to sink into my own sheets and lay my head on my own pillow. Yet along with those comforts come the nuisances of returning from a weekend away: extra laundry, physical exhaustion and, this time, boxes of Superdad's childhood toys that we were finally hoodwinked into bringing home. Where oh where am I going put a 4'x4' box of G.I. Joe's?
Highlights from the weekend:
- my kids really love their cousins and played with them nonstop
- I really love playing cards and, even more so, winning when I play cards
- I love a good Brandy Old-Fashioned Sweet. Does this mean I qualify for Social Security?
That's about it. Very uneventful, relaxing weekend. But now it's Monday. The time for relaxation is over.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Time to lighten things up; there are too many life-altering decisions on my plate right now. I need to laugh. I need some frivolity.
Last night Madeleine and her friend B____ spent the entire ride home from church practicing a joke they wanted to recite over the loudspeaker during their school's afternoon announcements (a daily event).
Madeleine: B____, what kind of bow is impossible to tie?
B____: Gee, Madeleine, I don't know! What kind is it?
Madeleine: A RAIN-bow.
Both collapsed into fits of giggles for a minimum of a few blocks. Then they were all seriousness and worked on their oration once again.
And did they perform this afternoon? Nope. They forgot to tell their teachers they had a joke planned. *Sigh.*
Thursday, March 15, 2007
It's time for me to admit something that Superdad and I have been considering for months now. The revelation is something that will come as no surprise to some of you but to most others I have little doubt that you'd no inkling of our thoughts. I'm sharing it now because even though we've made no final decisions yet, it's something that's been weighing heavily on our minds. And what, pray tell, am I talking about?
There. I said it.
There are numerous reasons that we're so seriously considering this move, but first let me start in a logical spot: the beginning.
I never, ever thought homeschooling would be anything I'd remotely consider. Ever. Homeschooling was for weirdos and loners and losers and certainly nothing I'd ever think of doing. We chose our community primarily because of its reputation for excellent, first-rate schools. We've been pleased with Madeleine's school and, to a greater extent, her teachers these past three years.
Until this past year homeschooling never made a blip on my radar.
And then Madeleine went to first grade; the first serious year of academics. We were prepared to be dazzled. We'd heard glowing reports of the rigorous mental stunts our children would be put through and assured they'd be well trained for any career they might so choose.
Then came home the homework. "Homelinks" is the cutesy term used for their math curriculum's homework. After measuring umpteenth objects in our home, watching Madeleine count tally marks and watching her struggle to subtract six from ten (not on her math homework, I might add, just a mini-mental test from me) we started to get a little concerned.
Superdad and I realized we should probably research and get familiar with her school's math curriculum, both the positives and the negatives. I won't bore you with the details of what we found or get into it too deeply because I know there are people out there who love the Everyday Math program but, I'll be honest, what we found scared us.
We then made the decision to supplement math. That involves bringing a tired six-year-old girl home from a seven-hour school day and having her do, in addition to her regular homework, another twenty to thirty minutes of supplemental homework. There are days I see the other kids on the block whizzing up and down the sidewalk on their scooters and even though I know what we're doing will serve Madeleine well down the road, there are days I want to cry when I see her look up, despondently, at the kids outside before going back to solving a tricky math problem.
And there are all the other things that they don't learn in school that I want the kids to learn: Latin, geography, history (it's touched on so, so minimally), music (I want them to learn who Beethoven was, how to play the piano, identify important periods in music history), art (how to mix colors, who Picasso was, having the freedom to create) and, most importantly, I don't want the kids to feel like they have to walk on eggshells when talking about their Christian faith.
Our day is already filled with seven hours of school, homework, the supplementing we're already doing and then, most importantly, the freedom of being a kid. Something has got to give.
We've checked out every private school within a drivable radius, those with religious affiliations and those without, and none fits our idea of what school should be.
I accept the idea that Superdad and I may have standards that are more stringent than necessary, but I've always regretted not having the same exposure to a great, well-diversified liberal arts education and I want my kids to have better. Isn't that what all parents want? To give their kids better than what they had? I'm now well aware of what's out there that young kids should, in my opinion, be exposed to and taught that I never was. I had to cram it all in, in my adult years, but I feel like my kids should have the opportunity to learn these things now.
To my shock and surprise this past year I've had numerous opportunities to meet lots of homeschooled children, on all ends to the spectrum (classically taught to unschooled) and to my shock and dismay they were... normal. In fact, they were just like I would like my kids to be: happy, polite and smart.
We don't know what we're going to do. Hank will for sure go to the public school next year for Junior Kindergarten. He wants to go and we want him to go. Beyond that we have no idea what our children's educational future holds. Madeleine, however, seems committed to homeschooling her second grade year. I think I'm on board with the idea, but I'm not sure, completely and totally, yet. Selfishly I like having the time away from them, yet, I hear myself say it or see myself write it and I feel like it seems like a thin excuse.
Right now I'm exploring more in-depth the possible curriculum we could use and getting acquainted with the massive amounts of resources out there for homeschooling (overwhelming tasks, both!). Already I've been hooked up with an impressive Latin teacher and a homeschooling mom with a girl Madeleine's age that wants to join with me to encourage the Audubon to offer classes for homeschooled kids. We're also exploring the possibility of a part time college girl coming in a few mornings a week to help with Elisabeth so that I can devote time to Madeleine and later Hank, if necessary.
We might not make the jump. I know it sounds like we don't like our public school but that's really not true. I've just vetted a lot of what we don't like; there's also a lot that we do. We just need to decide which column outweighs the other.
Now you know. If Madeleine is suddenly home with me next year and discussing etymological theory and the wonders of analyzing Latin, you won't be totally shocked. Oh, you might be appalled, and that's fine since if I were you a year ago I would be too, but don't say I didn't warn you.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Superdad and I came close to buying a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra season ticket package for the current season. Ultimately we decided that with finding babysitters and coordinating weekend events it be more of a logistical hassle instead of the fun thing it was intended to be.
However, Garrick Ohlsson is going to be playing with the MSO next month and it's a concert I'd really like to see.
Your challenge right now is to find a quiet spot. Lock yourself in a closet, throw duct tape over your kids' mouths or whatever you need to do and watch this. I promise, it will make your day more upbeat and happy.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
This is so pathetic, but do you want to know what the highlight of my day is? Waking up? Not so much. Lunchtime? Nope. Superdad's arrival home? No, not even that.
No, the highlight of my day is the arrival of the mail. Around noon I start looking out my living room window to see if Rick, our mailman, has pulled up in his trusty USPS van filled with the goodies that have the potential to make my entire day. Sometimes Rick doesn't pull up until after 2 p.m. Those are hard, hard days. And worse, when Rick is on vacation which, given his seniority, is often, the substitute mail person may not pull up until after 3 p.m.--or 4 p.m.! Yes, it's a hard, hard life I lead.
Most days seeing Rick, his mailbag and that hallowed van send me into euphoric states and immediately improves my mood.
What does all this anticipation and excitement bring? Well, folks, let me tell you; it's kind of like being a kid on Christmas morning. Remember the Christmas' in which you spent months in preparation; telling Santa and anyone else who would listen that all you wanted for Christmas was a pony. You wrote letters, you made phone calls. That pony was all you talked about. So, Christmas morning you run downstairs expecting to see that stupid pony (hey, you're a kid, why can't a pony be under a tree?) and all you find is... a Barbie.
That's what the mail is like: bills, junk and more junk. Yesterday I received this lame assortment of bills, a fund-raising letter from John McCain (as if!), the UW-Madison alumni magazine (I'm certain I've never read it and even more certain Superdad doesn't even know we've been getting it for four years) and credit card solicitations.
Wait, though! This is why I love mail: just like Christmas morning, you never know! Some days there are good things in there, perhaps a letter or a card or a trashy free issue of People. Some days the mailbox really does contain the proverbial pony of Christmas morning and it is, quite sadly, my favorite part of the day.
Monday, March 12, 2007
I suppose there's a reason that Hank doesn't like going to bed an hour before Madeleine. No matter how much we assure him there's not, a small part of him must know there's fun to be had downstairs long after he and Elisabeth are asleep.
The other night was no exception.
As usual, Madeleine and I (or sometimes Superdad and Madeleine) read books together.
Out comes Superdad with the camera. Which then prompts this:
"Mom, can I have a turn taking some pictures?"
My book is nearing the end of its climax. Yes, anything you want! Just, please, let me finish my book!
Her finished product is... uh... interesting.
And maybe even a touch embarrassing.
And now my book is over and my memory card is almost full. Time for bed. Good-night, Madeleine.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
It's almost spring; the snow is melting, the mercury is rising and the forecast looks good.
No, still far too soon to contemplate getting out in the the gardens, but it doesn't hurt to dream of what's just beyond the bend.
The back end of my backyard. This is my favorite tree.
Madeleine standing by my rose tree that I bought last year. Unlike my mom, I don't have a propensity for gardening and can never remember what anything is called, but I especially liked this rose tree because it was wonderfully fragrant. I have it wintering on the side of my garage now, protected from the wind. Hopefully there will be more pictures like this in a few months.
And, finally, my prize rose collection. I rescued these from my mom's rose garden before the Japanese Beetles could move in and destroy them. All five managed to survive the transplant and thrive in their new home, along my driveway, last summer. I'm anxious to see if they wintered over for me as well as they seemed to for my mom.
Ah, warm weather, you may not be here quite yet, but you're close, and I'm carefully watching for you. Come quickly!
Friday, March 09, 2007
Against my better judgment I've decided to succumb to the requests in the comments here.
Superdad said I shouldn't. "Why embarrass yourself?" he reasoned.
He's right, of course. So, I won't. I'll embarrass us both. Here we are circa 1999. Ahhh, the memories. Aren't we just the coolest? Totally.
Wasn't Superdad a studly, single college dude?
This picture has always mortified Superdad. Mor-ti-fied. I'm sure within seconds of me posting this my phone will ring. But don't fret over me folks; we have caller ID.
As explanation, there were four other people there drinking those bottles of wine and we did drink them over a civilized dinner that involved real food and real cooking. And, hey, we were in college.
To assuage any fears that we may have ended up as miscreants, let now put those to rest. Here we are just a few, short years later and, in this picture Superdad has a law degree. Well, that and a wife and two kids. So yes, even stupid, irresponsible college kids have to grow up sometime.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
I thought this was kind of fun. It told me that I'm just as odd as I thought (my selections were consistently among what only about 1-5% other people chose).
It also told me I'm hip and sophisticated. And we all know how true that is, so how could I not share this accurate, personality decoding gem with other self-seekers?
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I once mentioned Elisabeth's growing sweet tooth, but even I failed to recognize the heights it has now achieved.
A recent morning found me peacefully sipping coffee and checking my email while Elisabeth was happily turning our formally tidy home into a disaster zone by tearing everything out of cabinets, baskets and shelves. During dear, sweet Elisabeth's investigation she made an exciting discovery in one of the kitchen cabinets.
She discovered her brother and sister's Valentine's Day candy. And not only did she know what it was, but before I was any the wiser, she proved that she knew exactly what to do with it.
Yes, just like Christopher Columbus and Juan Ponce de León before her, she now realizes the rewards of exploration.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Growing up I thought cereal was what one ate for breakfast when there wasn't time for anything else. I thought it was OK but never thought too highly of it. Nor did I think anyone else did either.
And then along came Superdad. He has two favorite foods in this world: 1) sandwiches and 2) cereal. It's not uncommon to see him snacking on a bowl of cereal during the evening news.
Hank, it's sad to say, shares his father's love of all things cereal. Oh, he has his favorites, sure, but he's pretty easy to please. If it comes out of a cardboard box, gets thrown in a bowl and covered with milk then he's game for it. Hank's favorite day of the week is grocery shopping day when he comes home from preschool and surveys what I've chosen. Puffins! Cheerios! Frosted Mini-Wheats! I can almost see the wheels turning in his head and then, inevitably, week after week, "Mom, can I have cereal for lunch?"
And, as usual, I oblige.
Monday, March 05, 2007
(Hank's bedroom at bedtime. It's dark. Mommy is hiding under Hank's covers, completely hidden. Superdad is escorting Hank to bed. Hank begins to climb in.)
Hank (giggling): Mommy, are you in my bed? Why are you hidden under all my covers? Were you trying to scare me?
Mommy: Yes, Hank, it's me. (Mommy pulls the covers off her head.) How did you know it was me and not a monster?
Hank (in a what-are-you,-stupid? tone of voice): Uh, Mommy, I knew it was you because a monster's feet would have been sticking out on the other end of the bed. You know, because they're bigger than you!
Saturday, March 03, 2007
For last Friday night's entertainment Superdad came home with The Departed, which won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Picture.
We both expected to like it, but neither of us expected to love it. The movie was extremely violent and the language extremely salty, two criteria that don't usually attract me to a movie, but in the closing minutes of the film I found myself not wanting the movie to end.
The acting was fantastic and the movie was constantly moving, the story regularly changing and the characters continuously keeping you guessing (Is he a good guy? A mole?)
Friday, March 02, 2007
Do I or do I not have a digital camera? When I said I didn't have any pictures of the kitchen it never even occurred to me to take a couple.
Here it is. Just ignore Hank in the last picture; he's getting his daily Tom and Jerry fix. Oh, and ignore the dirty dishes. And the mittens drying out in front of the heating register. And any other messes you might see...
Superdad and I are seriously thinking of remodeling our kitchen. For those of you who have seen it I'm sure you understand why. It's all fairly new but it's just not how I would like it, the highlight in ugly-ness being the bright green formica countertops.
Given the amount of time I spend in my kitchen it's disappointing there aren't more pictures of it and, as a result, I'm forced to once again share this awful picture of me, but if you enlarge it you can see the kitchen. Sort of.
What we want to do:
1) Re-do the floors. Pull up the linoleum and put in hard wood. We can try to match the oak currently throughout the first floor (which is the less expensive option) or we can go with a lighter maple, which could help make the kitchen feel larger and brighter. I'm sort of leaning to a larger plank (think 4-5 inches) maple, but I am open and encourage any suggestions (especially from a particular aunt who I know possesses an acumen for envisioning what would look good!).
2) Re-do the absurdly ugly counters. We're open to almost anything for the new counter top, although my preferences certainly seem to trend towards some type of stone. It's such a small amount of counter top that granite or silestone are the front runners right now. So, tell me what you know about the positives and negatives of each. Color suggestions are welcome, too.
3) Put in a new sink. We have an old, crusty stainless steel sink and I want an under mounted sink of some sort. This though, I feel fairly capable of choosing on my own since the selection is a bit more limited. I'd love to hear input from those who have one though and if there is any downside.
UPDATE: I took and posted current pictures here.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Naturally now that Elisabeth has finally started spending entire nights in her own crib, in her own bedroom, Madeleine has decided to begin expressing dissatisfaction with her current sleeping arrangements and her manner has been quite vociferous in suggesting she ought sleep in our room. You know, in that queen size bed that was suddenly, upon Elisabeth's departure, feeling so luxuriously large and comfortable (and this is only a queen size bed!).
I keep saying no. No, no, no. I want my space. I want to sleep. For the love of all that is good in this world, I just want eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for at least two or three nights in a row. Is that too much to ask?
Last night Madeleine strategically circumvented me and asked Superdad, who would, in a just world, hereafter be known as SuckerDad. He didn't even pause to think before he said yes. Madeleine proudly ran up to me, secure in her victory, and exclaimed, "Guess what Mom! I get to sleep in YOUR bed tonight!" Her eyes were shining with excitement. Mine glazed over.
"Oh good!" I said through gritted teeth while thinking, "I am going to kill Superdad"
This post should lend understanding into these burning questions, which I'm sure have tormented all of my readers:
1) Why I have such a complete and total love affair with all things caffeine, especially coffee and
2) Why, more often than not, I appear a bit imbalanced.
Now you know. It's sleep deprevation.