Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mom & Kids 1, Shingles 0

Today, we conquered the beast and won! Let's clarify ...

There's been a flurry of home improvement going on around here. Mostly Todd painting, replacing windows (remember THAT post?!!) etc. And replacing a good portion of the roof.

Two weeks ago, Todd worked his 3-day 12-hour shift work week, came home at 7:30 am, checked the weather and ordered shingles to be delivered - that day! Then he got up on the roof with my 13 yr old and started ripping shingles off. Of course, I fretted and prayed that he and Chad wouldn't fall off the roof, plus I tried not to worry about his lack of sleep. By 8:00 pm, Todd finally went to bed, after being up 28 hours straight, working most of that time. The next day, back at it, full speed replacing the shingles. He was racing against the weather. I was parts runner and pray warrior, since Chad was on the roof again with Todd. Now, I can't remember if he got it nearly finished that day or the next but I do remember that the minute he walked in (after dark) it started pouring rain. God was good (as always). Todd was pleased he got that section of the roof done over the bedrooms, bathrooms and living room. The rest of the house will have to wait until 2009.

O.k., there's the scenario. That section of the roof had been done 3 times (that's the limit around here that you can layer new shingles over old ones). That's why he had to rip off the old roof first. And where did all those shingles go? The lawn, of course. And guess who's job it was to remove all those shingles? The crew, with me as foreman (er, forewoman).

Every day I looked at those shingles, I dreaded it more and more. Rain came and I was relieved to have an excuse. On nice days, it was just too nice to work, we had to go for walks or whatever, anything to delay the inevitable. Finally, the time came and we all went out to begin.

Gloved and sunscreened, we loaded a few old tarps into the back of our enormous work van and started removing shingles from the lawn. Any idea what happens to grass when you leave something on it for several days and it rains? Not just mud but all kinds of crawling things moved in. Ugh! Every shingle had to be shaken to remove anything alive. And the nails! Oh my goodness, nails everywhere! My younger two were given nail duty while Chad and I hauled shingles. Attitudes were lousy. No one wanted to do it. It turned out to be a rare hot day. We lasted all of an hour and went back in.

The next day, I managed an hour of work but had to go onto other duties. Todd laid down the law ... if any child doesn't help with the shingles, they would be punished! Sounded good to me. Next good day, everyone went out for another hour, more cheerful this time and we got more done. But it seemed like it would never end (like this post). Finally, today Todd said we only had 2 days of sun before it would rain another week. Feeling the pressure, I headed out with Chad this morning, came in for lunch, then everyone went out to work. It was a really windy day and gorgeous but we had to press on. After an hour, the kids retreated but I set my mind to get it done. And we did! Each child came out for a short period to continue the work (they all felt sorry for me, I think!) and all in all, the kids saved me 4 hours of work. I prayed that the Lord would help me get it done by 4:30 and He did! I went into the house, put my filthy clothes in the wash and went to my bedroom. Flopped on the bed and cried! My husband was awake and getting ready for work. He was really impressed that we had gotten the job done so fast! I am so, so happy to have it done.

Except ... tomorrow we have to take the van to the dump and unload all those shingles. I am not afraid.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's Most Embarrassing Moment

As usual, I was running around the house like a chicken with its head cut off (an ugly image if ever there was one). I was getting ready to take a shower, carrying my clothes with me as I ran through the living room telling my kids what I wanted them to do. After issuing my orders (clean up your stuff and vacuum, yada, yada, yada), I dashed down the hall. My 13 year old called out, "What's this?" I looked to where he was pointing - yikes! There lay a feminine product and fortunately it was only a liner. "It's mine!" I said without further explanation, snatching it up and running away before any questions could be asked.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Windows and Rope Tricks

Have you ever seen an image (either imagined or in print) of a grand piano being hoisted up the side of a building with a rope through a window? That kind of gives you an idea of what I did last weekend.

Not the piano part (our piano was delivered up ended on it's nose, through our front door, years ago.) The rope part. My husband decided it was time to replace the windows on the back side of our house. The side that is two-stories high.

From the front, our house looks like an L-shaped ranch, one story. But we live on a hill, and when you pass by the house, you see that the back goes down the hill and the living area is really on the top floor. My husband, when time and weather permitted, had replaced nearly every window in this house except these last two difficult ones. And that's where we came in (his "crew").

Here was his idea: After dislodging the bottom corner of the window, have Kate tie a rope around the frame and wrap the rope around her body, thereby bracing the window. (It's a good thing I've learned how to tie a square knot!) Have Chad hold on to the center of the frame and have good ol' Alec hold onto Mom (pull, Alec, pull!) Do you have this scary image in your head yet? Now add my husband up on an extension ladder outside (remember, two stories up), guiding all this commotion while yanking the window out of the wall and easing it down to the ground. I don't even want to know what the neighbors were thinking. I was having a heart attack or at least it felt like it. But it worked. Amazingly. Then we had to do it again - but with the larger window (6' x 4', right Todd?) I really panicked with the heavier window but Todd told me to knock it off. I can't tell you the relief I felt when this was all over. Alec was jubilant! He was thrilled and loved how it was a "team" effort. I couldn't have done it without my strong sons. And the Lord. I prayed ALL day, until I was weak, seriously. Because not only did we have to do these crazy stunts, I had to watch my husband stand on that ladder all day, sometimes using a skill saw over his head, cutting out the windows. Man! I'd just stand there looking out the window, praying with all my heart that God would keep him safe. It's concrete down below where his ladder was positioned and I kept shuddering to think about what might happen. I trust the Lord and my husband's years of experience, of course, but things do occur. Sometimes without warning.

And then there was the giant wasp that flew in. After we got the first window removed, Chad said, "Mom, look over there" and right in front of a bookshelf (we think it was reading "Brothers Grimm") was the longest, biggest wasp I've ever seen! Carmen bolted and I ran after her. I glanced back and saw that monster right in front of my face! I screamed, startling my husband (still on the ladder) and started batting the air around me, shaking my head, hair flying. Todd wanted to know what was going on. The kids had disappeared (abandoning Mommy, shame on them!) finding safe haven in their rooms with the doors shut. Todd didn't see it (therefore, he didn't believe me) but it never appeared again so, thankfully, it must have flown back out. Perhaps it found the Brothers Grimm as appalling as I do.

So now, as I sit and type in front of our new window, I still shake a little at all we went through to make it happen. My poor husband has spent far too much time on a ladder and has the sore muscles to prove it. But, I had the satisfaction of hauling all those old windows to the dump yesterday (free dump day!) and as the guys were pulling out the windows and unceremoniously dumping them with a tremendous crash, one of the men said that it must have been a bummer to load all these windows into the van. I thought to myself, "Loading them into the van wasn't the hard part." Thank you, Lord, for keeping us safe!

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Babies In The House!

Oh, don't be silly. Not human babies. And not guppy babies (at least not yet, I'll keep you posted).

No, this time it's triops. 5 of them. Tinier than the head of a straight pin (for those of you that do not sew, this is something used for sewing). They are supposed to grow anywhere from 1 inch to 2 inches but I think Cristina had one that grew longer than that. I'm not sure I can handle it if they get that big. They are ... well, I don't know, unusual-looking. I mean, they have been around for a really, really long time. They look like tiny horseshoe crabs to me. The kids already knew all about their background and we finally decided to set up the tank that I had bought months ago. These things take time and diligence. Use the wrong water and they might not hatch. Over heat them and they die. I have difficulty being so responsible for something so fragile.

First we had to find a light source that would work. I remembered I had a desk light packed up in the garage somewhere ... bingo! I found it. We decided on a location for the tank but the cord of the lamp wouldn't reach an outlet (it's always something, isn't it?) All the extension cords are in with the Christmas lights. Then I spied an extension cord in with the slot cars - hooray! If anyone wants to race slot cars, I guess the triops are out of luck. So we did everything right and now all we had to do is wait. Do you know how hard it is for a 7 year old to wait for anything? Every hour, Carmen would ask how long it would be before we could see eggs hatched. After two days, thank the Lord, there they were! First, 3 of them appeared. Then today, we found 2 more. Carmen is delighted.

It will be fun to watch them grow. A few years ago, we hatched those silly Sea Monkeys and it was fun until they started to mate. Now that was difficult to explain (they like to dance). But they all died before any new eggs were hatched. We've also had an ant farm which I vowed I'd never do again but we are thinking about getting the newer gel ant farm (don't ask me why). It was horrible when all the ants died. This kind of thing really upsets me. I don't handle the death of anything very well. So it is with trepidation that I continue with these triops, knowing their existence on earth is a short one (to us, anyway). I can only hope we can provide them with a good quality of life while they are here. In return, they will teach and entertain our family (I know, I know, SPARE ME, right? I'm such a geek!)

I asked my daughter if we should name them but she doesn't think she'll be able to tell them apart. I don't think she feels the same as I do about small living things. She informed me tonight that if her new guppies give birth, the deformed ones can be fed to the other guppies. Her sainted brother told her this. I was aghast but I hid it well. I said we would just have to wait and see, but I was thinking "I DON'T THINK SO!"

Such is the mind of a tenderhearted soul.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What I Learned Today

Today I learned that if you are standing on an upturned bucket in the dirt, and you put more weight on one side than the other, the bucket will tip over underneath you. And you fall. And it hurts. And your paintbrush goes flying. Then your son and your (nurse) husband start yelling things like, "Are you o.k.? How did you fall? How did you land?" (or something along those lines).

I learned several years ago that falling after you turn 40 is not like falling before you turn 40. So I already knew that but was reminded of it today.

Then I learned that my daughter, Carmen, has magic arms. When I was on the floor with an ice bag on my shin, she was rubbing my leg for me. She asked if her hands felt sweet. I said, "Yes, like magic." She asked how that could be. I told her it was because of the love coming through her hands.

I also learned how to paint window trim with primer. You'd think in 45 years I would have had the opportunity to do that before now. Like, years ago when falling wasn't such a big deal.

And I learned that, as a mom, I'm doing o.k. Tonight I sat with my lovely Carmen, getting ready to read to her while she had her evening snack. We had been talking about that long-ago day I had my ultrasound to find out if she was a boy or girl. I said that day was forever etched in my mind ...

Carmen: "Why?"
Me: "Because I was both happy and scared."
Carmen: "Happy because you were going to have a friend?"
Me: "Yes. But I knew how to raise boys. I didn't know how to raise girls."
Carmen (thinking a moment): "Well, Mom, don't worry. You raised me just fine."
Me: "Thanks, Carmen!"

That was the best thing I learned all day.