Monday, December 15, 2008

Katie's Home Improvement Project

You may have noticed we haven't been posting a lot lately. We've been a little busy trying to get the %&^$&# basement finished. It's been a slow process, but we're nearly done. The carpet is in, and now all we need is the closet doors hung and a lid installed on the window seat. We've hired most of the work out--if you ever need a contractor/general handyman, have we got a great guy for you! Seriously, his name is Sheldon, and if you want his phone number, just ask. He's good.

Anyway, we decided we could handle the painting ourselves, so we took it on over a few weekends and nights. (Have you ever painted over new drywall? It drinks paint. You can practically hear the sucking sound as the primer hits it. I kept having to go back to Home Depot for more primer.) Our poor kids got completely ignored last weekend as we frantically tried to finish before the carpet installer came. I think Katie was inspired by our efforts, because she decided to pitch in with a little painting of her own.

Aww, wasn't that nice of her? She decorated the still-unfinished window seat. Here's a closer look at her handiwork.

Here's her brush, stuck into the tube of acrylic paint thoughtfully left out by her oldest brother after a school project.And here's the proud artist showing off her work.

She was careful, I'll grant her that. Not a drop of paint on the brand new carpet. That's why she's still alive.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Random comment from Thomas

Max: Mom, what does "fool" mean?

Thomas: It's someone who made a bad choice, as in, "You fool! You bought a rabbit farm, but forgot to buy the rabbits!"

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Calvin just came up with an alternate ending for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."


(The alien spaceship is taking off from Earth, when all of a sudden it crashes to the ground.)

Alien 1: Carl, did you fill the gas tank?

Alien 2: No, sorry, I didn't.

Alien 1: What do you mean? I saw you go over to the gas station yesterday!

Alien 2: I only had a 20 in my wallet.

Alien 1: A 20 can buy you a week's supply of gas!

Alien 2: Well, sorr-ee, I bought a soda. At least I don't spend my money on Sports Illustrated!

Alien 1: Okay, there's an easy way to solve this. HEY INDY! CAN WE BORROW SOME MONEY FOR GAS? WHAT?!? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU LEFT YOUR WALLET IN THE CAR THAT JUST WENT OFF THE CLIFF?!? That's it, Carl, we're gonna invade Earth as soon as we get that death ray up and running.

(The spaceship takes off after 3 more hours of arguing.)


I can't make this stuff up, folks. He just came up with that off the top of his head at the dinner table. Frankly, I think it's an improvement on the original.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Pick a Title

What's a better title for this post, this one:
  • Another Fine Parenting Moment, Brought to You by PlayStation
or this one?
  • Mom and Dad Need to Keep the Volume Down So They Don't Disturb the Kids (No, Not THAT Way, You Perv!)

(The Scene: Thomas is calling home from school in the middle of the day.)

Thomas: Mom, can you come pick me up? I feel really crummy.

Mom: Are you sick, sweetie?

Thomas: Well, I think I'm just tired. I had a hard time falling asleep last night. You and Dad kept me up late when you were playing Rock Band.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

R.I.P. Spotty

We regret to announce the passing of Spotty the Miracle Fish. He died peacefully in his sleep at the ripe old age of 3-1/2. He will be missed.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I am woman, hear me whine

I finished my 5th triathlon this morning. Before you get too impressed, though, I should point out that they've all been sprint distance events (400 to 800 meter swim, 9 to 12 mile bike, 5K run) and not IronMan length (2 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). And that's five spread over the course of the past four years, although the last two have been within the past month. (Okay, I guess you can be just a little impressed.) I actually wasn't planning on doing this race, but my friend Stacey signed up, and this was going to be her first race, and I didn't want her to have to drive down all by herself, so I registered, too. I'm nice like that.

We've had beautiful weather the past few weeks, with temperatures reaching the low 80s most days. This week has been no exception, until, of course, today. I knew it was supposed to be cooler, with highs in the low 60s, but I thought the rain wasn't supposed to roll in until the afternoon. Nope. When I went out to load my stuff in the car at 7 a.m., it was POURING rain. And cold. As we drove to the race location, the car said the ambient temperature was 52.

This is how everyone was dressed before the start of the race.

And this is how we had to dress to start the swim. Do we look cold? We were! The pool was indoors, but the transition area (where we had to leave our stuff) was outside in the freezing rain, and we had to cross a parking lot and a baseball field barefoot to get to the race start. See that black lump on the ground, between the two bike tires? That would be one of the garbage bags that we went and purchased at a nearby grocery store in a vain attempt to keep at least some of our gear dry. (We also handed some out to other grateful triathletes.) (Did I mention it was wet? And cold?)

Since I hadn't planned to do this race until a week ago, I never really felt like I got mentally geared up for it. I kept thinking, "Oh, I'm just going down to keep Stacey company. I don't really care how I do. I'm just going to take it easy." And I just kept that attitude up all the way through the race. Good thing, because if I'd had a time goal in mind, I wouldn't have even come close. I'm not a fast cyclist anyway, and this ride was pretty tough, with rain pelting me every inch of the 11.5 miles, water and dirt getting kicked up into my face by the bike tires, and a stiff headwind on the downhill section. I've never been so happy to get off a bike! (Stacey said she actually had a lot of fun on the bike leg. I think I hate her.) After that ride, I couldn't even feel my legs for the first mile or so of the run. And then once I was finally loosened up, a slight nagging stiffness in my right hip suddenly flared into a sharp stabbing pain that forced me to walk a lot more than I wanted to. Good times.

All of the information in the above paragraph is my way of making excuses for the fact that Stacey completely kicked my booty in the race! She beat me by almost five minutes. Way to go, tri newbie! I think I beat her on the swim and the run, but she totally smoked me on the bike and both transitions. But the greater good has been served, because now she's been bitten by the tri bug, and we're already planning to get a group of moms together for some races next year. If you want to join us, just let me know. I mean, who wouldn't want to participate in an event that makes your formerly white shoes and socks look like this?

Friday, October 3, 2008

More Max Pictures

He took these all on his own last night at his soccer game. I wasn't even touching the camera, just had my hand underneath it in case he lost his grip. (He didn't.)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why do you call Matthew "Max?"

Blame Rosemary Wells. She wrote a series of books, which was later developed into an animated show, about two bunnies named Max and Ruby.

Max is a determined, creative, rambunctious 3-year-old, and his 7-year-old sister Ruby takes care of him but also bosses him around. Here's how a Wikipedia article describes the show:

Each episode consists of three self-contained vignettes. Within each, Ruby is typically engaged in some sort of project or activity, while Max has a particular mania of his own which either runs counter to his sister's or distracts her. Amusingly, Max's dialog within each story is usually limited to just one word or a two-word phrase, which he repeats periodically for the rest of the episode until the end, sometimes saying a different word. For example, "Tow truck!" or "Jellyballs!" By the end of the story, Max's passion often dovetails with Ruby's in some way, to her benefit and delight.

Basically, Matthew IS Max. He fixates on an idea and repeats it over and over in as simple a way as possible, refusing to be distracted, until the bigger people around him finally catch on.

About a year and a half ago, Matthew informed me that his name was now Max. I played along, figuring it'd last a couple of days and then he'd move on to another identity. Nope. This one has really stuck. He introduces himself as Max, will only answer to that name, and corrects you if you try to call him anything else. For a long time, he also called me Ruby. A few times I tried asking him, "Look, I don't mind if you call me Ruby most of the time, but will you just call me Mom ONCE, so that I know you still know who I really am?" He just looked at me like I was crazy and said, "But you're not Mom. You're Ruby!" Sigh. Thankfully, that phase did pass, and he's back to calling me Mom. (Paul still calls me Ruby, though, so there was some fallout.)

Everyone around him calls him Max--the whole family, neighbors, friends at church. His cubby and coat hook at preschool are labeled "Max," and that's the name he practices writing. I think that's just going to be his name. It's a perfectly nice name, even if it's not the one on his birth certificate. Next time you see him, make sure you call him Max!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

He knows where he belongs

Max: Mom, you go in the girls' bathroom, and I'm going in the heroes' bathroom!


One thing I love about living where we do now is that we don't have to go very far to enjoy scenery like this:

Katie and I fell a little behind the rest of the family on our hike.
See? There they are.

Katie wasn't too sure about getting dirty.
The boys were thrilled with the sticks they found. (One was even pre-whittled!)

We ate our picnic as the rain started.
I love fall!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Playing his position

Thomas is just excited to be here and happy to help out the team.
Yes, he is on the field in the middle of a game, although I didn't get any other players in the shot--probably because they were all, you know, PLAYING THE GAME at the time.

Sometimes Thomas does actually get involved in the game at hand.

Until he takes a ball in the crotch and goes down hard, which he did right after this picture was taken. That tends to dampen his enthusiasm a bit.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Matthew the Photographer

In addition to his cooking skills, Matthew has developed (hee) an interest in photography. His favorite birthday present this year was his very own camera, a Kidizoom. He's taken hundreds of photos with that thing, mostly blurry shots of the ceiling or a table leg, sometimes of his own forehead because he's holding the camera backwards. I don't have any pictures from the play camera handy, but here are a few he took the other day with the grownup camera:

Those are entirely his own effort, folks. Not bad, huh?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You've got another thing coming

There is a classic song by Judas Priest called "You've got another thing comin'." You wouldn't think that something as silly as an 80s hair-band song could spark controversy, but it did just that, during a friendly game of Rock Band.

What controversy, you ask? Whether the phrase is actually "You've got another think coming." My initial argument was that thing was in the song title, end of discussion. However Sherise's side of the family maintains that the correct phrase is "think." The rationale being that it is a parallel construction, something along the lines of "If that's what you think, you've got another think coming."

Nonsense, I say. Aside from the fact that I spent way too much time during my teen years in the pursuit of rock music and fast cars, I maintain that "thing" is correct.

Since pop culture won't definitively answer the question, I must regress to something much less exciting -- grammar. I use the following points to make my case, and invite any lurking English majors to wipe the french fry grease off their usage books and tell me where I may have gone wrong.

0. Diagramming (or dissecting) the sentence:
You (subject)
have got (verb)
another thing (direct object)
coming (complement or participle phrase)

1. Start with the premise that it is incorrect usage to use a noun to replace a verb. For example: "I'll e-mail you tomorrow." The correct usage is "I'll send you an e-mail tomorrow."

2. The corollary to this rule would be that it is incorrect to use a verb to replace a noun. In the case of the phrase in question, the object of the sentence (thing) should be a noun and not a verb. My understanding is that the object of a sentence must always be a noun or pronoun.

3. If we were talking about singing, one would say "You've got another song coming," not "You've got another sing coming." If one insists on using the parallel-construction-thinking argument, the correct usage would be "You've got another thought coming," not "You've got another think coming."

4. Last time I checked, think is not a noun.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter. Perhaps you can help settle this disagreement.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Neighborhood Games

Inspired, no doubt, by the Olympics, our neighbor Ryan organized a multi-day sporting event for the kids on our street.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Riding the Pipeline

My brother Neal likes to get the family out on the mountain bikes. We've had some great adventures.

And a few misadventures, unfortunately.

This is when we we took Dad out on the Pipeline Trail for the first (and probably last) time. Dad came around a bend too fast and lost his balance and careened 30 feet or so down the hill.

One visit to the emergency clinic and a few stitches later, Dad was as good as new.

Sherise also did the same thing, but didn't fall as far - just a skinned knee.

More recently, Sherise and I both decided to get "clipless pedals" for our bikes (with ample encouragement from Neal), which is a misnomer. You actually physically attach your shoes to your pedals with a special binding (similar to a ski boot into a ski) so that they stay firmly anchored. Sherise felt comfortable enough with them after some practice to try them out on a real trail ride. What you see below is the result.

This ride resulted in another visit to the same clinic, this time to fix up Sherise's wrist. The attending physician likes to ride his mountain bike too. When Sherise explained what had happened, he said "Oh yeah, everyone has a story about when they first start to ride with clipless pedals. You know you should probably go practice more before you go for a trail ride."


I'm reluctant to point it out, but I will anyway. This happened BEFORE Sherise ever even got on the trail. It happened near the car in the PARKING LOT. She was a champ and got back up and pressed on to ride the trail. She fell THREE MORE TIMES.

But at least she's had lots of practice with the clipless pedals now.

My wrist is just sprained, not broken. I only kept the splint on for two days, and then I've mostly had it off, although if it starts to get sore by the end of the day, I'll wrap it back up. But here's an interesting tidbit: while the X-rays didn't show a fracture, it looks like I have a bone cyst in my left hand. It's probably nothing to worry about, but the doctor at the urgent care clinic recommended that I get it checked out by a hand surgeon. I've got an appointment on Monday--I'll keep you posted!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!

We are great at taking pictures of our kids with our own cameras. We are terrible at getting professional family portraits taken. I think the last one we had done was when Matthew was a tiny baby, and he just turned 5. So a few weeks ago we got together with Pam and Ritchie, former colleagues of Paul's at Overstock and a couple of great photographers. You can see what they accomplished by running around after our very active family for two hours here.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Independence is a trait I encourage in my children. I want them to learn to do things for themselves. Katie took the initiative to pour herself some more syrup when I didn't put enough on her pancakes.

Good for her! I just wish her technique were a little better, especially since the syrup was dripping off the table and onto her chair and the floor.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia

We had a lovely visit to Narnia last week - not the land of make-believe in the movies, this was the real deal.

This is the lamppost one sees when first entering Narnia:

And the wardrobe:

Aslan has been trapped, stuffed and mounted:

And while in Narnia, we decided to ride our mountain bikes.

Katie played with "rabbles" (marbles).

Thanks to "Uncle Bob" for inviting us up to his cabin for a wonderful visit.

Max loved it so much he didn't want to leave!