Thursday, May 31, 2007

A quick update

I may be giving brief updates for a few days to get back into the blogging routine. Having a baby sure can mess up regular blogging! I saw a woman at the zoo a couple days ago who had 7 children. I told her I was stopping at 4. She shrugged and said, "After 3, it's just noise." I said, "Yeah, that's why I'm stopping at 4." ;)

So my floors now look exactly like they do in the pictures below. No change. Why?? Well, the manufacturer of our floor has changed and it took a while to track them down. Also we've had to pick out colors and new vinyl (man is THAT a chore!) and we've decided to do the bathroom too while we're at it. So now we'll be replacing the entire first floor. The run-down is like this...they'll order the flooring, it'll take about a week to come in, then it has to sit in my house to acclimate to my humidity and temp for two days. I can't imagine how fun that will be - we're talking about a lot of wood here. Then a contractor will come out and pull out my kitchen cabinets and disconnect plumbing - I'm assuming 1-2 days though I haven't been told yet. And THEN they can start ripping up the floor and laying down the new one, which will take 4-5 days or more. Fun! With our current calendar, I don't think there's any way we can get this started until the end of June. So I'm stuck with the hole in my floors for a while.

I have figured out a work around for this month though. I'm so worried one of the kids will get a splinter (they're not little splinters and hey, when you have 4 kids, *every* doctor's co-pay counts!) but I pulled up a rug I had in the kids area of the basement. It's one of those large ones that has roads on it so you can run Hot Wheels on it, like this, (so it's very fashionable) but it almost completely covers the area and has solved my problem for the time being.

Meanwhile, Matthew is reading his way through Tolkien books. He read Roverandum yesterday and said, "Even though I'm not very interested in dogs, it was a good book." We're now anxiously awaiting Bone, which was recommended in the Relaxed Homeskool blog that I stumbled across yesterday. I guess we need to get The Book Of Three for him as well. I have fond memories of my brother reading that series to me when I was young.

Rose seems bored and she almost seems to be asking for some direction. She's doing very well with letters and writing but isn't quite there yet on reading. I'm in no rush but it does limit her somewhat. So at the library yesterday, she picked out some horse books and I picked out some cheetah books and we'll go through them and see if anything leads us out of boredom. We spent quite a bit of time yesterday cleaning and organizing her room, which she seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Maybe I'll suggest she work on the basement...teeheehee.

Jade pretty much follows the other two around. I can tell she's a people person already. She flirts with anyone - and I mean anyone. Elderly gentlemen are especially swayed by her charms. Her language skills are getting better every day. I'm sure she'd be more understandable if she wasn't a thumb sucker but, as with everything else, I'm in no rush. It will end some day on it's own.

Linnae is doing great. She's looking pretty chunky now and the reflux meds have helped her a *lot*. She's smiling at us now and it just melts all of our hearts each time.

It looks like we're getting a homeschooling group started and we're anxious to start meeting with them and making new friends.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What does Unschooling look like in your home currently?

Unschooling Voices asks us to post some pictures this month of what unschooling currently looks like in our house. Here is my response...

We've been busy with the birdbaths the kids made. Matthew dug up an old frisbee, filled it with water and added some large rocks. Rose, on the other hand, filled a bucket with water, grass and rocks and left her frisbee on the ground next to it. She then gave me orders to tell her when a bird came to take a bath. "Sure. Why?" I asked. She said very seriously, "So I can put the lid on it!" So Rose made more of a bird trap instead of a bath but she gets bonus points for creativity and uniqueness.

Matthew also made an "ant trap". The tape from the floor to the container was so they could climb up the sides and eat the Rice Krispies, cleverly disguised as ant bait.

Rose's approach was again unique...she added mini marshmallows to further lure them into her container. Then she added water "to drown them when they go down to eat the food," she said with glee in her eyes.

We went to the zoo on Memorial Day. We learned that day that we don't much care for heat and humidity combined. Well, I already knew that one but I think the kids learned it well that day. I did get to learn more about my fantabulous Olympus E500 though...enough to capture this (and it's prettier at high resolution which Blogger won't let me show...spooty Blogger)...

We also have some new baby cheetah cubs at our zoo and the kids had fun at a side information table. They saw a cheetah skull and felt cheetah fur, as well as ask all kinds of questions about them. The kids have recently been pretending they are cheetahs so I feel almost as if we're in the middle of an impromptu unit study. Those are the kiddos in the tie-dye shirts (we wear those to the zoo because it's easy to spot each other in a crowd). And check out Rose's new stack haircut! It's so much cuter from the front. I'll post a pic soon.

Matthew made a spider with his sandwich makings one day...

But Rose's love of crafting has eased her into becoming a federal law breaker. Yes, that's her inner artist hard at work here. And yes, that's a $20...does anyone think I *shouldn't* have told her they were going to take her to jail for this? ;) I just wonder when I ask the bank to replace it, will they laugh or fine me? Either way, it's definitely something new to learn...and that's the whole point. ;)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Promises, promises

Yes, I promised more frequent posts. Sorry. But I did have the very best of intentions though. ;) You won't believe the craziness that is my life. First, the every-other-day dr visits have finally tapered off (I'm actually scared to type that out loud for fear that they'll start again).

Rose has FINALLY gotten some allergy meds that have dried up her constant, year-long drippy nose. At last she's not one of *those* kids who always looks sick and is always on antibiotics. Not one sinus infection since she started her new meds. For those who are wondering, it's a nose spray combined with Allegra-D (recently approved for kids). Though, with the disappearance of her runny, stuffy nose we've seen the appearance of the "4 going on 16" attitude. Wow. Eye rolls, back talking - Grammy was shocked the last time she babysat. Lord, help me make it through this year!

Nothing too extra exciting going on with Matthew these days. He and Hubby have gotten to the final levels in Crash Bandicoot though...does that count? :)

Jade is expanding her vocabulary but I think she might need some help from my ex-speech therapy friend. I'll give Jade 6 more months before I call on her though. She is baby-obsessed and is constantly trying to sit with me while I'm nursing the baby...and kiss the baby...and hug the baby...and put blankets on the baby... She's a good mini-me. If only she could nurse her a couple times a day. ;)

Linnae is gaining weight very slowly but Rose did that too. Linnae's reflux meds seem to have helped her quite a fact, she had her checkup today and she has gained 9oz in the last 9 days so that's GREAT. She has a rash on her face but we think it's the normal 6wk hormone rash that babies pretty typically get...she just got hers at 4wks.

And that brings us to me. My MS symptoms have returned. Just sensory know that tingling feeling your leg has just before it goes to sleep? I have that moving around my torso and upper thighs, as well as a burning sensation that moves around. But nothing serious at this point.

All sounds pretty normal, eh? But I bet you won't guess what we've been up to behind the scenes. First, our subdivision is having a garage sale next weekend and I am trying, in between all the other goings-on, to get some stuff together for it. Last week on Thursday morning, I went downstairs to start sorting through our storage boxes to find junk good used items to unload sell to unsuspecting pack rats bargain hunters. ;) I decided to start in the back of the basement, which is unusual for me, only to find water. Lots of water drips coming down from the ceiling and pooling on top of boxes, furniture, and my wrapping paper container (yep, all my wrapping paper is ruined). After about 90 minutes on the phone with Hubby, trying to track the source of the water, I finally gave up, deciding it was a burst pipe in the walls. I had checked and double checked everything in that area - washing machine, bathroom - I even went up to the 2nd floor bathroom to see if it was dripping from up there. I couldn't find one spot of water anywhere. The water in the basement ceiling was a 5 ft long row of drips and I couldn't pinpoint where it started and where it was just run-off. We decided to call a plumber.

The plumber showed up Thursday afternoon. He went straight to the basement, looked at the water for all of 30 seconds and said those fateful words, "Do you have an ice maker?" Dread crept over my face as I slowly nodded.

He moved the fridge and found a strong leak coming from the *Saddle Valve* and plastic tubing. It apparently had found just the right crack in my hard wood floors so that it went straight down onto the subfloors instead of making a huge puddle on top as it did before. He started walking all around and found a large area that was wet. He moved my trashcan and found wood planks that were already warping. So who knows how long this leak had gone on? We shucked out $500 for him to replace the now very famous *Saddle Valve* and plastic tubing with a nice copper pipe, guaranteed to fix the problem once and for all. As I mused with Hubby on the phone as to what to do about the floors, the plumber said he's done lots of work for insurance companies and we should make a homeowners claim about the floor.

Hubby made lots of calls and at 10am on Friday, there were workmen out at the house looking at the water damage. After a couple hours (and my own muffled guffaws when the guy muttered something about 'they might have to replace the entire floor'), my kitchen now looked like this:

And viewing from the kitchen into the laundry room/pantry:

They also set up two huge commercial fans (read: EXTREMELY LOUD) to dry the sub floor up here and two more downstairs pointed at the ceiling. They also sprayed mold killer since the water damage has been going a while.

The fridge, as you can see, is directly in front of my oven and microwave and the cabinet I keep all my stove top cooking pots and pans in. And with it's new pretty copper piping, the fridge can't really be moved much. So we've eaten out...lots...this weekend. A great Mother's Day weekend, all in all. Monstrous headaches from the deafening roar of the fans, sniffly noses at the dust and wind tunnel and mold spores flying around, crabby kids who are "tired of eating out", etc. Though I do admit, I had far fewer dishes to wash this weekend. ;)

So on Saturday, in an attempt to get away from the roar of the fans, I went to the basement. Everyone followed. I started sorting through our storage stuff, still determined to get things ready for the garage sale this coming weekend. Hubby came down, bless his soul to the very fiber of his being, and took loads and loads of trash (and sorted out recyclables) to the garage for disbursement to the city. The kids had fun puttering around after us and doing bubbles in the yard and pulling each other around in their wagon. Hubby even cut one of his heavy weight shelves in half so we now have somewhere to place plants (and the herb garden I started) on the front porch. So it ended up being a very productive day.

On Mother's Day, we had dinner out and because it took so long for it to arrive, we got free desserts with it. I put mine in a doggy bag because I was meeting my mother for ice cream afterwards to celebrate Mother's Day together. Rose made me a couple of beautiful scrapbook pages (she put sticker borders on them) and Matthew made me a cute little note pad on top of a ceramic tile that is easy to move and not easy to lose. :) I also got some gift certificates to Michaels and since I love crafts, it was a great gift! FIL brought by some items they want to sell in my garage sale so the garage is crowding quickly.

Monday morning, the insurance adjuster and a guy from a local flooring place came by. The short of it is this...I have an open floor plan. So there aren't any doorway openings, flooring wise. No good place to seam the floor. And it's apparently almost impossible to match the color of hard wood floors. So they have to replace the whole floor...the ENTIRE FIRST FLOOR, minus the linoleum in the bathroom. And it's going to take about 4 days. Four days of no kitchen. The floors go under my kitchen cabinets. They go under my pantry and washer/dryer. My computer, huge heavy dining table, living room Four days. Four days of no way to cook and limiting kids to our bedrooms? Uhhh...I don't think so. Plus the guys who pulled up that small section that you see says it's nailed down very very well. They're gonna have a heck of a time getting the floor up. I assume the 4 day quote will be at least 5...and you know contractors...they're never really in a hurry.

Yesterday, the guy who dropped off the fans came by - he was supposed to take them out. Nope, the floors were still damp. So he turned the ones up here to low and the ones downstairs to high, with promises to retrieve them today. He also took out a big chunk of insulation that wasn't drying out. Last night, I gave Linnae a bath before bed. By the time it was over, there was an awful smell coming through the air conditioner vents. It smelled like burnt plastic. Hubby took his carbon monoxide detector and flashlight to the basement and looked all around. After *much* inspecting, we still couldn't find anything and the smell went away. Today, our water is luke-warm at best, I found out during a *very* quick shower. After more inspecting, I found that the pilot light is not lit in the hot water heater anymore. My best guess was that maybe a piece of the insulation got caught under the hot water heater from all the fans blowing around and burned out the pilot light.

So...the fans are supposed to leave today, thank GOODNESS! My head is about to burst open at the seams, despite all the staying out of the house that I've managed. It'll take "about 2 weeks" for the flooring to come in. And when it does, I'm planning on going to visit my SIL, four hours away. Her kids are dying to see Linnae anyway, we always have fun together and the gas & food money is cheaper than a hotel (bless your soul, SIL!!). Hopefully the timing works out to the week her kids end school for the year and before a couple of them go off to camp.

But don't worry - this is my MO: something big happens then something else happens and just as we're recovering from that, something else happens. And it's usually while I'm in the middle of a huge project like painting or a garage sale or having a baby...or all three. We'll recover. Until then, enjoy the tale and I'll keep you up-to-date. :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More math by association

While my days have quickly changed from being so tired from pregnancy hormones that I could hardly make it through the day to doing nothing but sitting on my rear holding a baby who REFUSES to sleep (or not cry) unless you hold her, I have found myself watching a lot of Food Network lately. Trying to avoid soap operas and talk shows, afternoon TV viewing is QUITE lacking in the kid-friendly arena. However, I stumbled across a game show today called "Cash Cab" - basically this guy drives an unmarked taxi around NYC and whoever jumps in gets a chance to play his general knowledge trivia game while on their way to their destination. Best case scenario they get lots of money, worst case - they get kicked out on the curb whenever they miss 3 questions but they also get a free cab ride to that point so it's not too bad.

Anyway, Matthew is watching this show with me and they have a running tally of money in the corner.
After watching 2 different "games" quietly, he says, "Oh, so 25 + 25 is 50".
I nodded in agreement.
He says, "So that would mean that 25 is half of 50."
"Yep, so how many 25's do you need to make 100?" I pry.
He doesn't bat an eyelash..."Four".
Math. Learned without drills or charts or doing thousands of computations on a piece of paper. Hmmm...

OK, the crying little seal has had her 10 minute limit in the swing and now I must away to hold the little princess...