Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Is it really only Tuesday? Time has a way of moving in slow motion when the kids have a FIVE DAY weekend. Five! Friday was a teacher in-service day and I don't even know what the excuse was yesterday and today. Suffice it to say, we've experienced more than our share of togetherness. I had great plans for using Monday as a work day and Tuesday as a play day. Then, Monday went to hell in a hand basket when both the computer AND the refrigerator pooped out on me. I was delighted to be able to have the fridge fixed for only $270 -- honest, I was afraid we would have to buy a new one -- and the computer was 'only' a couple hundred. I've never been so relieved to spend $500. In between all of this hulabaloo, I managed to paint Luke's room, take the puppy in for his final shots and set an appointment for his "big boy operation" next week, do some grocery shopping, and do six loads of laundry. By 1:00 this afternoon, the kids and I were sick of the house and sick of each other. I left for an hour to meet my friend for coffee, Luke went to play baseball with a friend, and Emily went to a neighbor's house to bake cookies. (Luke said she came home at one point to pick up "a few ingredients and things they needed. Imagine my surprise when she and the neighbor girl came walking up the street later in the afternoon hauling sacks of flour, chocolate chips, brown sugar AND my Kitchen Aid mixer! I almost died. It must weigh 20 lbs and I could see myself adding "mixer" to the repair list.) After supper this evening, Em and I took the two dogs for a walk in the open space across the street from our house. It was a beautiful evening and we got a treat when some pelicans flew over head and landed on the pond nearby. Then, we spotted a red-tailed hawk in the tree behind our house. It was a perfect way to end the day.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Coloring my world

I've been spending most of the weekend painting rooms in our house so that they are (hopefully) more "buyer friendly" colors. Painting is one of those chores that seems so huge. But once all the materials are gathered together, the furniture moved to the center of the room and covered, the prep work completed (clean the baseboards, remove all the light switches, tape all the wood work) I'm eager to dip into a new color and the actual painting is therapeutic. With a country music station playing in the background, I'm quickly lost in thought, kind of like being at the symphony where my mind wanders from one place to another. Inevitably, the stroke of the paint brush takes me back to the summer in college when I worked on the student paint crew. We were a group of 25 or so students, hired to paint the faculty apartments which were three-story Tudor style built in the 1930s. I wonder how many gallons of white and brown paint we went through? There were two paint crews. One was headed up by a younger, rather hefty, chain-smoking guy who claimed most of the young women on the crew and took a few token guys. The other was the older, experienced painter named Carl. He had snow white hair that was neatly combed back, and wore long khaki pants and a long sleeved khaki work shirt, neatly button to the top button. He wasn't very happy that he was required to have at least three female painters on his crew. But he agreed that it might be okay to have some girls to paint the window trim on the ground floor. It was on Carl's crew that my two room mates and I spent the summer. On the first day we were all given white paint hats and brushes that Carl embossed with our initials. He gave us a lesson on how to clean them each day (and this was oil based paint, so it was no easy task). The rest of our uniforms consisted of cut-off jeans, tank tops and white Keds. . . and a big bottle of sunscreen. It was a great summer. Painting with friends during the day and at night going out for all-you-can-eat BBQ and margaritas. Amazingly, Carl never got one drop of paint on his clothing that whole summer. And he worked right beside us. However, each afternoon, the rest of us spent half the clean up time, using mineral spirits and rags to wipe down our arms, legs, and scrub our hands. After a few days, we girls got a bit tired of standing on the ground while the guys had all the fun with the 40-foot extension ladders and "cherry pickers". One day, Carl must have been off checking on the other crew, and we convinced the guys to teach us how to run the cherry picker. By the time Carl got back, we were high up in a basket, and one of us was driving the cherry picker around the building. "Are those girls up there?" he exclaimed. Then he threw up his hands and knew he'd been beat. We dubbed ourselves "Carl's Chicks" and by the end of the summer he admitted that we were some of the best painters he'd ever had.
I was painting my daughter's room this morning, thinking about all of the layers of paint that lay beneath. It was like going through our family's own archaeological dig. When we first moved into the house, Joey was three, and the little bedroom was done in pale blue wallpaper, and a chair rail with little ducks -- a cute nursery for its former occupant. I switched out the duckies for little soldiers and with a bright blue quilt on the bed, it was the perfect 'big boy' room for Joe. Then Luke came along, and I put the two boys together in the larger bedroom next door. (It was one of the smartest things I've ever done -- one room to keep picked up, and the boys had all the fun and learning that comes with sharing a bedroom with a sibling. Their friends envied them!) The little bedroom became a guest room, and I stripped the wallpaper, painted the walls a pale yellow and set up my Grandma's four-poster bed. Then Emily came along, and it was once again converted to a nursery. We eventually painted it pink for her 'big girl' room, with a princess wall border. A few years ago, we finished our basement so that Joe had his own room. Luke's room was painted denim blue and gold, with a St. Louis Ram's theme. The little bedroom was done in alternate walls of lime green and sky blue -- Emily's choice, and themed with frogs. As I was painting in there this morning, I wondered if I would have agreed to those colors had I known it would require two coats to cover them with "straw hay". I have no doubt I would have. It's just paint.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Our new home

Not really;) We took a break from all of the projects we have to do, and Dan spoiled me rotten for the weekend, at the historic Broadmoor Resort & Hotel in Colorado Springs. It is just exquisite and the perfect place to celebrate a birthday, I might add. We left on Saturday morning amidst the usual flurry of activity that it takes for both of us to get out of the house at the same time. My aunt, our very own "Mary Poppins," was on hand to treat the kids to their own special weekend, so when Dan and I finally drove off, it was without a concern and nary a backward glance. For the next day and a half we relaxed and took in the beautiful scenery, strolled the grounds, enjoyed several of the wonderful restaurants, and just basked in the luxury of both the surroundings and having so many hours of uninterrupted time together. It does a marriage good. I think that by spending a chunk of time together once or twice a year, we've been able to reconnect so that when we're back at home, we look forward to "together time" and will find it in little ways. Like sharing a glass of wine before dinner, or even a trip to Home Depot on a Saturday. After dinner last night, we took a walk around the lake and then found a spot to sit out on the patio that overlooks the lake. Dan had a glass of wine and I sipped some Bailey's and coffee. The moon's reflection shimmered on the lake. The outdoor fireplace gave the air a warm, delicious smell of smokey pine. A group gathered in front of the fire talked softly, and occasional laughter rose and fell. I thought of all the campfires we've shared with one another and friends and family. There's something primal and almost spiritual about sharing a campfire with the people you love most in the whole world. This morning we enjoyed the luxury of our elegant room. Dan finished a book and I was looking out at the view of the lake when some movements on the far side caught my eye. At the small playground, tucked behind the pool, there were two children swinging on the swing set. They were both going along at their own rhythm, pumping their legs and reaching for the sky, and eventually, their swinging to and fro became even with one another. It was the game we used to play as kids. If you're swinging at the same tempo and side-by-side the next person, we'd call out, "We're married!" As a child I never knew how true the analogy would become. As a couple we're more often that not busy with our own things, both working hard and passing each other like ships in the night. Then, sometimes by chance, but more and more because we know we can make it happen if we work at it, one of us will slow, the other may have to speed up or put in a bit of effort, and eventually we're a matched set again, moving through life together. That's marriage.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Memoir

I was tagged by Xandra at Heart of Service for this meme. It was started by Bookbaby and is based on a book written by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, Not Quite What I was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure . It is a compilation based on the story that Hemingway once bet ten dollars that he could sum up his life in six words. His words were - For Sale: baby shoes, never worn. So here are the rules: 1. Write your own Six-Word Memoir. 2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want. 3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere. 4. Tag at least five more blogs with links. 5. Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play. I thought this would be too hard to do, but after some gentle but firm prodding from Xandra, I have come up with my six word memoir:

Thursday's child has far to go.

I mentioned in a previous post that my birthday this year (which is next week -- apparently I am so excited to turn 50 I was hoping it would happen a week early -- or I'm already suffering from dementia), anyway, my birthday this year falls on the same day that I was born, a Thursday. According to the nursery rhyme, children born on Thursdays have "far to go."

Monday's child is fair of face. Tuesday's child is full of grace. Wednesday's child is full of woe. Thursday's child has far to go. Friday's child is loving and giving. Saturday's child works hard for a living, But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day, Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

And if it's written, of course there is some truth to it. I used to so wish I could have been "fair of face" or "loving and giving." "Far to go"? Who wants that? However, it does suit me, I've always been a late bloomer, always a bit behind in figuring out what I want to do or be. And I've decided that's not such a bad thing. If any of you caught Oprah on Wednesday, Maria Shriver was on and shared her story of still figuring out who she is after 52 years. Having grown up in a family that dictated to her to what she should be, she is now discovering it for herself. She made a good point. We're all constantly evolving into who we are. We don't become fully devloped at 10 years old, 20, 30, 40 or even 50. It's exciting to know that there are still things to discover about yourself and still ways to grow. So, now I get to tag some people. I know this has been going around for a while, so you haven't been tagged and want to jump in, please do. I would love to see what Bill, Bev, Tristi, and Bill, I'm curious what Carolyn would write.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

HDTV Special

Since we made the decision to move, we've been starring in our own version of an HGTV special. Something like Prepare to Move or Get This House Ready, or something like that. At last, the hours upon hours that I've spent watching HGTV are paying off. Decorating Cents, Clean Sweep, House Hunters, Designed to Sell and Get it Sold. It's all coming together. Especially since we had The Stager visit our home. Her services are provided by our realtor, to give our home a once over and make suggestions on how to "neutralize" and "declutter" so that the house will appeal to the largest audience of buyers. It's like having my own Joan Stefan, right in the living room. We have redesigned every room in my house "without spending a dime!" It's a bit more challenging accomplishing this without the $2,000 budge that Clive and Lisa (upper left) have. But with some paint and a few new accessories, we'll have the place ready to list in no time. It's kind of fun actually. I decided to prepare one room by myself and see what The Stager would have to say. She walked in, glanced around, and said, "Nice," and then, "Perhaps you should remove at least one piece of furniture." Stagers are big on that. Removing furniture, knick knacks, family photos, anything that basically gives a room personality. They love to "neutralize." They just love to neutralize the heck out of everything. The kids reacted to this as I predicted they would. Emily, with all the drama of an 11-year-old: She wants me to paint my room? Beige? What, is this woman going to start telling us how to live? And Luke: I have to put everything away? This is going to take forever. FOREVER! In the meantime, I'm loving the heck out of creating a home that is absolutely clutter-free. I always wondered what it would be like -- to live like the Amish people do. My sister-in-law actually lives like this all the time. Not that she's Amish. She's just extremely well-organized. Now I will be, too. Or for a while anyway. In typical fashion, Dan is being very tolerant as I live out my dream of living an HGTV show. As I'm gathering boxes and packing and neutralizing, he is doing all the hard work, spackling, fixing, repairing and preparing to paint. For the most part he knows better than is kind enough to leave the decorating decisions to The Stager and me (and my HGTV experience). But he did seem a bit troubled as I packed up his wine rack. "I thought it looked really nice." "It does," I assured him, "It's just that we need to open up the dining area, make it roomier. Buyers like that." He harumphed and muttered with, I thought, a hint of sarcasm, "It's a wonder how people ever sold their homes before Stagers."
Packing up has proved to be challenging, but sort of fun. I'm on a first-name basis with the guy at Target who saves me all the boxes I need. He has a second job at a local liquor store, which has been a godsend for all of our books. I've lost count of how many Bud Light, Miller Light and Smirnoff boxes are neatly stacked and labeled in black magic marker "Name/Books". (If the truth be told, most of them are "Karen/Books." ) A trip to the local U-Haul store and we're supplied with packaging paper and bubble wrap.
The garage is about one-fourth full with boxes and a few pieces of furniture. A storage unit would be nice, but truthfully it's easier to haul everything out to the garage, less expensive for sure, and it helps to be ruthless in discarding items that have been taking up space for far too long. Peter Walsh (TLC's Clean Sweep) would be oh-so-proud!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coffee break

Time for a coffee break. This is where I don't have enough to write a full post, so we just chat about what's on my mind. Well, I chat, and you listen;)
First off, Dan and I have made a decision that rates about an 8 out of 10 on the stress meter. No, good heavens, we're not having another child. (That would be about a 21). After mulling the idea over for months and months, we've decided to test the waters and put our house up for sale. We called our realtor, got some encouraging news, and have been packing up our house and even had one of those "stager people" come over to tell us things we already know. Like we have too much stuff and if we'd put half of it away, we would have a really nice looking house. So, for the past two weeks I've been going through the house with a critical eye, a black marker in my back pocket, a roll of packing tape on my wrist and an assortment of empty cardboard boxes easily accessible in the garage. Much of the packing up is done, and now we've moved onto spackling holes and preparing to paint. Hopefully, the timing will work out so that when this place is ready to sell, we'll find the house of our dreams -- right here in the same town we live in with just a couple amenities that we've been missing for the past 16 years -- and it will all fall together:o) They say the best time to look for a job is when you already have one, and we think the same applies to moving. We don't have to move. We don't hate our house, in fact it's a very nice house. So we'll see what's meant to be.
Lately, I've been hooked on the TV show "John and Kate Plus Eight." It's the reality show with the couple who have 6-year-old twins and 3-year-old sextupets (that's SIX!) Em and I love watching it together. We laugh at how cute the kids are and shake our heads and say, thank goodness we don't have that many kids! And secretly, I like the show, because Kate makes me look like a saint. She is the Queen of all Control Freaks. I can totally relate to her. But I can watch her and feel a bit smug, because at least I'm not that obsessed with being in control.
It's truly springtime in Colorado, because it's snowing that wet, sloppy snow that will leave muddy dog footprints all over the back deck and the family room tile, and in a couple days the lawn will be much greener. At the Rockies game last night, Luke and I were huddled under blankets. Yep, it's spring. Yesterday, the three fifth grade classes at Emily's school left for three days of Outdoor Education in the mountains. The snowstorm is covering the whole state, so I feel for the teachers! Seventy-five 11-year-olds cooped up inside for three days. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the day, staying at home and catching up on odds and ends. I did go to my fitness class this morning, and blew all the way across the parking lot afterward to get to the car.
One week from today, I will be 50. Fifty! I find it ironic that my birthday this year falls on a Thursday, the same day of the week that I was born. "Thursday's child has far to go." Here's a picture of where it all began, Presbyterian Hospital, Newark, New Jersey. Yeah, I was born in Newark, so don't mess with me;)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sunday Morning

This morning I was the first one up and went about feeding dogs and putting them out for the day. The puppy still gets so excited to see someone in the morning, and so excited that it's time to eat, that it's a bit frantic the first few minutes. I finally got him out of his kennel and took him out in the yard. As he ran about, exploring every blade of grass in between running back to me to make sure that I wasn't going anywhere, I shivered in my sweatshirt and took in the beauty of the early morning hours. There's been a woodpecker in our back yard the past few days, and I can hear him, but just can't put my eyes on him. I'm always amazed at how little those guys are, for all the noise and racket they put out.
As is our custom on Sunday mornings, Dan and I watched the CBS Sunday Morning. There was a wonderful segment about Julie Andrews and her career and life story. The first movie I ever saw in a theatre was "Mary Poppins." It was 1964, and we were spending Easter with my aunt and uncle in Syracuse, New York. The show enchanted me. For my birthday that year, my mom made me a cake that looked like Mary Poppins' hat. It was was covered in coconut and had a cluster of cherries on one side.
So, here's a question for you? What was the first movie you ever saw in a theatre? What year was it?