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January 2009
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March 2009

how to make a kid's day

step one:

invite two dear friends over for an entire day of pizza and wii.

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step two:

birthday brownies instead of cake, because the kid doesn't like cake.

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step three:

while kid is along for the ride whilst daddy takes friends home, rush to the garage, remove hunormous box from within a hunormouser mailing box and rush it to kid's room. then hide under bunk bed and await his return.

for 25 minutes.

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step four:

daughter runs back and forth from top bunk to dining room window, acting as look-out. finally she runs squealing to the room, up the ladder, and under covers, screeching, "henry's home! henry's home!! quiet!!!"

then waiting patiently for kid to appear in his doorway.

and when he does, you snap a shot of his face taking in the hunormous box. and not quite believing what he sees.

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... but you can tell it's sinking in. see?

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and then it's all over. he knows what's going on and yells to dad that, "no way!! the death star is here!!"

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step five:

you then document, at kid's request, the massive amount of boxes inside the hunormous one.

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as well as the 260 page manual that is "so huge it has to be spiral bound!!"

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and you are appropriately impressed by the sheer number of mini figures.

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and that's how you make a kid's day.

and your own.


it's fridayfridayfriday!!!

not that i'm happy about that or anything ... ha.

first off ... bathroom floor is DONE! (well ... laid, grouted, and sealed. still need a threshold, but that'll happen next week. i assume.) shower wall is SORTA DONE! (still needs the smaller cut tiles around the ceiling and floor, and the wall that butts up to the window can't be done until the window is installed. but still.)

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window is freaking ORDERED, after way too much confusion and misinformation and too many trips to menard'slowe'shomedepot.

this weekend marc and i will get and paint the new door and door jam and baseboard and window trim and a light fixture. next week contractor will finish tile (all except for tile around window, because window might not be here for 2-3 weeks. leave me alone.), put in the threshold, hang the door and light fixture, and plumb the toilet and sink. holy crap ... it could look like a bathroom this time next week!!

after four months, it had better look like SOMETHING this time next week.

oh, and i love this coat. don't you love this coat? i think it has my name all over it.

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henry's birthday was fun - dinner at rainforest cafe, then a swing by the lego store so he could, literally, drool pathetically over the death star set.

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(psst ... don't tell henry, but ups dropped off a big, heavy box from lego today ... hmmm ... )

tomorrow he's having two buddies over for make-your-own-pizza/wii-athon/build-your-own-brownie day in honor of his turning nine. then sunday morning, when he wakes up ... there will be a big, heavy box from lego sitting on his bedroom floor.

i fully expect we won't see him at all on sunday.

and harper is currently playing quietly in her room. that could be good, could be bad. i'm choosing to believe it's good and am leaving her alone. i may regret that.

and that, my friends, is why it's fridayfridayfriday!

have a lovely weekend!!


nine years.

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for nine years now, i've been this kid's mom. for nine years now, i've been a mom, period. before this guy came along i was just michele ... who was married to marc ... who worked in publishing ... who occasionally hit the gym ... who wasn't quite sure where her life was going or whether she was happy in it.

then nine years ago i went into labor, two weeks early, with a baby that wasn't exactly planned. and that labor was hard. and long. and pushing was hard. and long. and nothing about anything was the way i had imagined it.

this little boy squirmed into the world, and all i could do was grab his toes to make sure they were all there. (i knew i would be induced early, and because of that i was having stress dreams that his toes weren't completely formed yet.) i don't remember kissing him or crying or feeling anything other than relief that the hard part was over. but then the nurse placed him on my chest, and he lifted his head and looked me in the eye, and immediately i felt not like the mother of a needy little infant, but that i had given birth to my equal.

that probably came in handy later on when i went into such a deep post-partum depression that i literally have only bits-and-pieces memories of his first eight months. henry was always tough, was always stronger than he should have been, and was much more patient with me than i was with him.

marc and i were always sure than henry would be His; that they would be so alike and be in their own little orbit of two together. and on some level i was okay with that, because i knew little boys wanted to be like Dad. but henry is so very Mine, on just about every count. his temperament, his emotions, his love of reading anything and everything ... i actually find very little of marc in him sometimes. he doesn't even really look like marc; he looks like me and marc's brother, oddly enough.

and yet everything about him is 100% henry. everything he says is parenthetical:

"can i tell you about this ship i built? this is the gun turret (well, it isn't really a gun ... it's a photon cannon ... but it's mounted like a gun) that swivels all the way around ..."

all. day. long. and about everything. even jokes.

and speaking of jokes, his sense of humor is so him. he doesn't just tell a joke or laugh at something funny; he conceptualizes, produces and directs little "scenes."

"mom, what if i had walked in the door, and there was something slippery on the floor, and i stepped on it and slid all the way to the back wall (well, pretend the chairs weren't there, because then it wouldn't work) yelling, 'i'm hoooooooommmmmeee ... waaahhhhh!!' wouldn't that be funny?"

he is insanely smart, and incredibly lazy. every project is half-assed, every assignment is done to the bare minimum. (which, actually, is very like his dad when it comes to anything non-computer-related.) he can't use his imagination without input from others. "pretending" in his world equates to sound effects and screeching. yet he takes great interest in whatever i'm reading or talking about, and he is learning to build lego ships at the knee of the master and is getting quite good at thinking about the mechanics and logic of it.

he would eat fruit all day long if i would let him. he has a nervous twitch that makes him itch at the edge of his nostril all day long. he has long, creepy fingers. he sometimes talks like a 40-year-old. his favorite thing to do is lie on his floor with the chipmunks cd playing on his little radio and thumbing through a magazine or reading a book. he loves pokemon and star wars and mythbusters. he pretends to hate anything his sister does, but then he'll snuggle up with her while she's watching a barbie movie. he searches for star wars and lego and lego star wars and weird al clips on youtube, then bookmarks the ones that he thinks are hilarious or cool. and he makes us watch them.

it is hard to believe that he's been in our lives for nine years, and it's even harder to believe that in nine more years he'll start to move on into his own life. because no matter what, i'm not ready for that. i love this kid so much it makes me cry. he has changed every molecule of the air around me, every cell of my life, with his very existence, and i will always, always be grateful to him for that.

he is my son, my henery-benery, my pork chop. and today is his birthday.


one week of avoiding the blog = ...

1. we now have a floor (ungrouted) in the bathroom
2. the shower surround tiles are going up
3. the "standard" window has finally been ordered. could be here in three days, could be here in three weeks.
4. Contractor will either be killed or charged rent if he's still here in march. can i get a "hell yeah!"?
5. harper now salutes me. cracks. me. up.
6. valentine's are ready to go ... and i may even mail some to the grandparents.

here's where they started:

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(imagine them mounted on pearly cardstock - a deep rose for harp's, steel gray for henry's.)
the star wars one was all henry's idea. love it.


7. harp is in this "i very, very love you!" phase. i need to figure out how to get it on tape ... it kills me!
8. henry's trying to grow his hair "like the other guys" again. heaven help us. and his little cowlick-ridden head.
9. is it wrong that i hate valentine's day? nothing like being force-fed a holiday. gah. will i still expect sushi and chocolate, though? um ... yes.
10. just felt there should be a 10.

i'll get back to you with pix of tiling this weekend.

OH! almost forgot ... jill paulson of a matter of memories reviewed my book and gave it a truly lovely write up. she's even offering one in a drawing ... but deadline is midnight thursday!! run!!


bringing you up to speed

some of you are aware that we have been going through a bathroom remodel for the past two years months, and a few have asked for a report. okay ... you can kick yourself for asking later.

this is what we started with prior to november 5, 2008:

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nasty old tile, nasty old wallpaper that was peeling, nasty old trim that was never properly installed. nasty old pipes in the shower that rattled loud enough to wake the dead when it was attempted to turn the dial to "hot" ... which was an exercise in futility, since the temperature never went above "lukewarm."

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anyone who knows me probably guesses that i squealed with joy when we bought this house, because of the presence of light yellow tile. well, yes, i sorta did. but then we moved in and found that the tile has been "grouted" in places with silicone caulk. yeah. seriously. it was horrible. and given the fact that a) the shower never really worked, and b) persons trying to use the shower had about three square feet in which to bathe themselves, we turned the shower into marc's personal spray box for his geek projects. handy, but a second usable bathroom was more important. hence, the remodel.

so the day after the election, our contractor arrived. (yes ... i said the day after the election. remember that? first week of friggin' november??) some demolition immediately took place, and soon the bathroom looked like this:

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no more tile, wall taken down to reroute the plumbing, ceiling partially removed. this was after about, oh, three weeks of work. during that time he also had several family emergencies to tend to, so our "two- to three-week" remodel was already off schedule. (didn't help that he would come in for an hour or two of work, then take off for the day. wish i could find a job like that.)

the whole goal of the remodel was to have a second bathroom by thanksgiving. well, thanksgiving came and the bathroom looked like this:

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the new wall was up, expanding the shower space and giving us some wall space for things like, say, towel bars, which we didn't originally have. but usable? not so much. oh well ... maybe it would be good to go for my mom to use when she visited in three weeks.

no. not that either. really, not much changed between thanksgiving and my mom's arrival. it was inexplicable, really.

but after the holidays, the contractor "laid down the law" with his family and said he needed to finish this job. well, thanks.

last week he finished mudding and sanding ... only to fall off his stool just after sanding his last patch of ceiling ... and put his head through the new drywall on the wall behind where the toilet will go.

deep breaths. ohhhhhmmmmmm ....

but then it was ready for paint. finally.

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so last week i put on 2-3 coats of primer, 2-3 coats of ceiling paint, more ceiling paint because the ceiling just won't cover in spots, and two coats of wall paint ... a pretty beigy grey.

this week? there's actual tiling happening. sqeeeee!!

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now i don't want to get too excited ... i'm still not sure he believes me that replacing the window is still on the to do list, and he's completely forgotten marc's repeated queries about bringing the outlet up to code. and at this point we've paid for so many trips to menard's so he can buy one. thing. at. a. time. that we're sort of running out of money in the bathroom budget. but it's starting to take shape. and worst case scenario, we finish all the trim and putting up all the fixtures once the toilet and sink are plumbed. that's doable.

so as we enter month three, let's recap:

election.
tile removed.
mother-in-law needs to go to hospital for knee problems.
drywall down.
brother-in-law falls down stairs, bangs head, near death.
black mold discovered and cleaned.
brother-in-law sent home to die.
trips to menard's for a part. then another part. and some cashews.
brother-in-law gets kidney transplant and is, amazingly, better.
thanksgiving.
some drywalling happens, along with rerouting plumbing and installing a fan/vent.
christmas.
mudding, sanding, putting hole in wall with head, more mudding, more sanding.
painting.
painting.
painting.
tiling.

and ... it's february.

and there you have it.


she's crafty, she gets around.

i've needed a hiatus from paper and glue, so i wandered the yarn section at michael's the other day. there were these lovely, soft, springy colors that just spoke to me. and what they said was, "hey ... we match your daughter's winter coat! and that hat with the polka dots!! well, the pinks and i do," said green.

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"blue just wants to come along for the mushrooms."

(button mushrooms, not anything hallucinogenic. harper loves button mushrooms and they are always in our fridge. blue is sorta weird like that.)

so i picked up the two pinks, chatty green, and weirdo blue and took them home. for the next three nights we sat on the couch and watched the "band of brothers" series with marc for, like, the twelfth time, then stole the remote and changed it to john stewart. and at the end of the three days, those four silly colors had worked themselves into something beautiful:

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they came together to form a lovely scarf for little miss h. and the next morning, when i showed her the scarf she squealed with glee and wrapped it around her neck and petted the soft colors. she was happy happy.

but she won't let me take a photo of her actually wearing the scarf.

maybe i should bribe her with a button mushroom.