Yesterday the girls went to their first movie in a movie theater. We went to see “Wall-E.” Anna and I enjoyed it, opisthorchiasis I believe Claire did, therapy too, decease but she fell asleep. The siren song of a darkened theater coupled with a tummy full of popcorn and the comfort of Mama’s lap did her in. (she’s too light to keep the seat open) The movie was cute, but I think much of the plot was over Anna’s head. I wasn’t sure how much of it she absorbed, but she did mention later, out of the blue, that pizzas don’t grow from seeds.

I’d like to take them to a drive-in, but that will have to wait until they can stay awake long enough to see at least the first feature.

I’m still plugging away at the girls’ room. I attempted to sweep out the inside of their fireplace with a (new) shop vac. Two shop vacs full later I gave up, wondering what made me feel it was necessary to sweep the dust and rocks out of there in the first place. The inside of their (closed off and totally decorative owing to the state of the chimney) fireplace is full of rocks, bricks, dust (appears to be a combo of ashes and old mortar), and chunks of wood. The loose material turned out to be about 8″ deep, and extends under the floor into where the hearth would have been. I also found a top of a model ship, paper from a pack of drapery weights ($0.19), a guest tag from 1964′s Rolling Rock Hunt Racing Association, and a 1960 Mickey Mantle and Ken Boyer baseball card. Mr. Unreserved looked up the card. In mint condition it’s worth ~$150. Ours is not mint.

I sealed up the opening with a new piece of drywall and patched the indentations in the painted metal surround where Claire decided to have fun with a hammer.
I realize all of these home improvement projects would be more interesting with pictures but I’m waiting for the big before/after reveal when the room is complete. Okay, actually I’m too lazy to grab the camera and take pictures and upload them.

Just now:
Claire: Mama, what’s wrong with the tv?
Me: Nothing. I turned it off.
Claire: Woah. . . Why?!

Beware the ‘ocodile.

Claire has become quite the chatterbox lately. I noticed this as she was relating something in great detail over lunch the other day. I understood almost half of what she was saying. It was very involved. And it struck me as funny to hear Claire expressing herself so thoroughly.

You get to know your children as infants. Infants have their own ways of communicating, about it both unsubtle (screaming their fool heads off) and subtle (it’s amazing what they can express with their eyes, doctor but maybe that’s because of all the time I spent gazing into them as a besotted mother). The communications means and sophistication grow along with the child, diagnosis but even when they learn to talk it’s short and to the point. There is no misunderstanding the intent of a toddler thrusting their bottle at you and demanding “Milk!”

The fact that this small person is mostly non-verbal gets tied up in their identity as you know it. You are accustomed to them not being conversationalists. Then one day they wake up and tell you, “Mama! I dreamed that there were ‘ocodiles under my cribby! Then the ‘ocodile came out and tried to bite me and hid in the closet! I want some breakfast now. I want Cheerios and milk and a piece of ‘na, please.” And you do a double take and wonder just when exactly this tiny person became someone you could talk with instead of to. And the way you perceive them is permanently altered. And not for the last time.

Growing up is sneaky that way. One day they’re learning to sit up, the next day they’re learning to drive. I’m really enjoying watching the process, but does it have to go so quickly?

June is slipping through my fingers

Random bits:
Good news: We found someone willing to give us a realistic dollar figure (read not five figure) for our gutter project. Hooray! Bad news: He strongly suggests we do the roof while we’re at it since there’s going to be much shingling going on over the damaged ends of the roof. (There’s a lot of rot up there.) We weren’t planning on doing the roof this year.
We keep going back and forth – do the roof since it makes sense to just keep shingling, sale don’t do the roof so as to incur less debt at the moment, pancreatitis do the roof because it’s already 20yrs old, don’t do it because there’s nothing wrong with it right now. Honestly my biggest fear is that having the roof done will constrain finances such that I’ll still be bathing the girls in the basement a year from now. I really want to get to the bathroom project. (but the gutter project is many times more important)

Speaking of projects: Finally touched up some of the paint on the walls and marbellized the mantle in the girls’ room. That’s only been hanging over my head since . . . January. Hooray for projects moving forward! Yet to do in there: Finish decorating – hang pictures, obtain and hang curtains. Order carpet. Replace doors. Get Claire a big-girl bed, since the littlest monkey has learned to climb out of her “cribby.”

Target interior project following the girls’ room: The hallway/stairway. The hallway/stairway is dark. Sloppy. A wreck. Big.
There are balusters missing in the railing. (we’ve got a bucket of matching replacement parts in the garage that the previous owners obtained from a salvaged house) Some of the ones already installed (poorly) are their native dark varnish color, others have been swathed in flat white paint. (like so much of the house’s trim work) The stairs need to be finished. Or rather, their refinishing job needs to be completely redone. Correctly. As does the mess left on the decorative trim up the sides of the stairs and along the upstairs hallway. On the walls, there’s a spot of loose plaster with a chunk missing. There’s many other spots where the plaster has more in common with cottage cheese or Play-Doh in texture. One piece of wall is actually a piece of plywood painted to match. Painted in a very dark orangish-red. And antiqued. As is the ceiling on the first floor, which had first been wall-papered to resemble a tin ceiling. Which is just as well because from what I can tell the wall paper is the only thing keeping the plaster up.

I have no hopes of perfecting the area – only to make it less dark and ominous looking for now. Safer would be nice, too.

Myna birds: There is a dangerous intersection near my house. It’s the scene of regular accidents. I was waiting to make a left turn when the person behind me decided that my decision to not barge into oncoming traffic was inconveniencing him/her. They registered their displeasure with their horn, and my knee-jerk response was, “Screw you!”
From the back seat came a tiny and enthusiastic, “Screw you!”
Oh yeah, forgot the kids were back there.

I stand corrected

Back in the end of May I said a nest of sparrows were in our gutters. They had started out in the garage* earlier in the spring. I reached to take a bag of crabgrass killer off the shelf and disturbed a slightly agitated mama bird, contagion and found a nest of five tiny eggs. The babies hatched and my crabgrass thrived.
The baby birds started to fledge and spent a day or so on the floor of the garage, then they all moved up into the gutter.
Mama and Papa bird are setting up housekeeping in the garage again, this time up in the rafters. I enjoy watching them run back and forth bringing home the bacon (bugs). They’re pretty friendly and don’t mind me hanging about. I wondered what kind of sparrows they are, so I looked them up. Much searching later I’ve figured out that our tenants aren’t sparrows after all. I believe they’re Carolina wrens. Maybe I spent way too much time looking up something so unimportant, but like knowing who’s raising young above my car.

Speaking of raising young, sometimes I wonder where the dividing line is between incentives and outright bribes. And whether it matters (especially if it works). For instance, if your previously solidly potty-trained child started having accidents of all varieties, and you could find no cause, would it be considered bribing to tell them if they go seven days without an accident you will buy them a small, inexpensive toy they’ve been clamoring after? Hypothetically speaking, of course. And this would, hypothetically, come after punishment (in the form of revoked television privileges) didn’t help. When does “reward” cross the line into “bribe”? (and does it matter as long as we don’t have to scrub or discard any more soiled clothing?)

*Our garage has only the ruins of what used to be a door. I don’t care because it still keeps the snow off the vehicles.

Gee, your hair smells terrific!

Sunday. 15 minutes from walking out the door for church. Was congratulating myself on having all of us ready ahead of time for a change, try thus avoiding the last minute out the door scramble.
The girls were in the bedroom getting their sandals. Claire brings hers to me. I grab a comb to straighten out her hair, ask and stop short. Glistening throughout the crown of her golden fine freshly washed baby hair is a copious amount of A&D Ointment.
“I put keem* in my hair, Mama!”

Three shampoos only served to distribute the ointment throughout her head, but it was enough to get us through mass.

A more effective way to remove A&D ointment from hair, if you’re curious, is to comb a good amount of talcum powder through the hair with a fine comb, then wash two times with dish washing soap and once with baby shampoo.

*”Keem” is Claire’s word for diaper rash cream. She also requests “cheese” when being diapered (due to the resemblance of talcum powder to powdered Parmesan). Anyone not familiar with her might be surprised to hear the request for cream cheese on her bottom. The jury is still out as to whether the brilliant hair styling idea was hers alone or if her sister gave it to her. The only evidence was the guilty looks and evasions of the resident four year old.