May 18, 2015

When It Rains It Pours

5/18/2015 — cori

Where do I begin? know how (bad) things usually come in threes?  We definitely got hammered with three things - all at the same exact time (give or take 5 minutes).

We originally were supposed to take a trip out west to visit Aunt Lou yesterday.  But the threat of tornados and severe thunderstorms caused us to rethink that plan.  We rescheduled our visit and now had a free day ahead of us.  Since we haven't yet completed the bathroom renovation, it made complete sense to work on that.  All we have left to do (we naively thought) is finish putting up the hardiplank (mildew resistant drywall) on the walls and floor so we can tile.  Easy.

But then Chuck thought to check out the new plumbing hardware that we were going to use to replace the old shower nozzle and handle.  What do you know?  They need to be soldered on as well. Chuck thought he was finished with that nightmare after his bathtub fiasco.  When I called out thru the house to find out where he was he replied, "I'm in hell right now."  Somehow I knew that meant the bathroom and oddly enough it also meant he was going to have to solder something.

After spending an hour at Home Depot gathering all necessary supplies, he comes home ready to use his blowtorch - the only fun part of the whole ordeal.  I put on my 'Helper Extraordinaire' hat and we both get to work.  I get to hand him important things like ice, and pieces of copper and wet towels.  I also get to run up and down 21 stairs multiple times throughout the afternoon and evening turning on and off the water main.

He might look like he's smiling...but he's crying on the inside.

Despite our best efforts and long hours of hard work, we still have one tiny leak that doesn't want to get plugged.  We break for dinner (crepes with eggs and sausage) and get back to the nitty-gritty.  We are right in the middle of soldering when the kids run up to tell us that Ninja puked all of the carpet (two separate places).  They become comatose and have no clue what to do or how to help.  We drop everything and run and clean up the space (without any water since the water main is still turned off). We've been without water most of the day by this point.  I can't scrub the floors with the cleaner until we have water, but we can't have water until we plug the hole.  It's an endless circle.

After that little smelly interruption, Chuck heads back up to the bathroom and I run down to the basement in the 14th attempt to turn the water back on only to find out it's still leaking. Again, the kids come running to each of us informing us that our neighbor is at the door.  What in the world does a neighbor need right now?  We both run out there to hear our neighbor breathlessly tell us that one of the branches from one of our huge trees fell into her yard just two minutes ago and would we come look at it.

It's severe weather outside.  The winds are raging at 50 mile an hour wind gusts.  There is a small break in the rain when we run out to check on the damage.  Thank God it missed her shed, but there is indeed a huge branch hanging on for dear life to the tree yet also cracked and precariously hanging into her backyard.

The boys grab the saws, another neighbor grabs his chainsaw and we start hacking away at the huge part laying on the ground.  There's nothing more we can do until we talk to our Tree Guy.  I have him on speed dial on my phone since we call him so much.

We all typically shower at night so the kids are beside themselves not taking their showers at bedtime.  We turn the water on for 1 minute so everyone can brush their teeth and flush the toilet. What a huge convenience running water is!  I love you water.  I promise never to take you for granted again.

We wake up to the same problems we had yesterday.  It feels like the movie, "Groundhog's Day." However, our Tree Guy was able to come checkout our mess and informed us it would cost a small fortune to take down the tree.  We figured.  Thankfully, Chuck stayed home from work to finish the soldering which never got finished.  We actually even came up with 4 plans.  Seriously.  We are about to implement Plan D at this stage of the game.

Plan A - do it right the first time.  Fail
Plan B - go to Home Depot at 6am and get parts necessary to start over again.  Redo soldering. Fail
Plan C - cut out the entire unit and cap off the hot/cold water pipes so we can at least shower and brush out teeth like normal humans again.  Check
Plan D - call in a neighbor who has a tool we might be able to borrow and some experience that might help out.

I'd like to add my own personal Plan E - forget we ever had a shower and convert that into something else.  We'll see where this goes.  After our tree problem, we can't afford to call a plumber. So....there's that.  It appears that the easiest problem to fix was Ninja.  After she puked, she put herself in her kennel and didn't show her face the rest of the night.  Smart dog.  The carpet is as good as new.  The water main is back on.  I haven't had time to take a shower but I did get the entire counter and sink full of dishes washed as well as my first load of laundry.  I can hear the lovely sound of chainsaws hacking up the tree in our backyard as I sit here typing.  So things are looking up here.  

May 15, 2015

Water Problems

5/15/2015 — cori

The other day it was actually warm here, believe it or not.  We had sun, heat and sweaty.  I was working so hard around the house that I kept having to run to the fridge to refill my glass with water. Thus, the lovely quality photo of the water dispenser in my super clean fridge.  Unfortunately for me, the last time I went to refill my water, nothing came out.  Zilch.  Nada.  

I was like, on no! I'm really thirsty too.  I might have to break down and drink water from the tap. But I won't text Chuck about it just yet.  He can't fix it from work anyways, so no need to worry him.

Of course when you have ample water, you don't want/need it.  But now that my water wasn't working my mouth was as dry as cotton.  I needed water.  I even considered going up to the store to buy some bottled water to hold us over until Chuck could figure out how to fix it.  But I didn't have enough time before the kids came home.  Of course they usually come home and immediately fill up an entire glass with water to gulp down their afternoon snack with.  I would need to be gentle in breaking this devastating news to them. 

The dreaded time arrives...I have to tell them about the water dispenser breaking.  In all honesty, we weren't all that surprised.  The ice maker hasn't worked for over a year now.  It was just a matter of time, I guess, before the whole thing bit the dust.  As expected, the kids are as disappointed and dry mouthed as I was.

Then Gavin comes home.  I announce the grave news to him as well.  He doesn't like it when things in his world aren't always as they usually are.  This wasn't going to be easy for him to take.  However, he took it like a man.  Then a few seconds later he calls me up to the kitchen.  "Mom, what do you mean the water in the fridge doesn't work?  It seems to work just fine...look."  And he proceeds to show me his sopping wet hand.

I'm like, "What happened?  Are you trying to trick me or something?"  

He was like, "No.  I went to put my ice pack from my lunch bag away and my arm veered up and hit the water dispenser somehow and it squirted all over me.  I must have hit the 'unlock' button with my elbow.  It was on 'lock' this whole time.  That's why you weren't getting any water.  It's not broken."

"Wha?" confusion reigning all over my face.  

"Looks like it was just locked Mom.  It's not broken."

How can that be?!  I thought I checked all those little buttons.  I have been dying of thirst for hours all for naught?  Apparently it helps to pay attention to all the little details.  Scanning the buttons is not enough, you must actually read each button before you pronounce the water dispenser broken.

The even funnier thing is: everyone believed me.  No one else checked to see if the 'lock' button was pressed (thus disallowing any water to flow) until Gavin accidentally hit it.  How long would we have gone on like this?  That would have been the very first thing Mr. Details would have checked when he got home before he broke out any of his tools. 

I guess the moral of the story is, I'm more of a Big Picture kinda girl.  Thank God I married a Mr. Detailed kinda guy and have very trusting and helpful children - especially ones that read signs for me when I'm too busy (or thirsty) to check them carefully.

May 12, 2015


5/12/2015 — cori

I. Love. This!!  But I must confess, I'm equally guilty of interrupting as I am of being interrupted.  So when I laugh at this, I'm laughing at myself.  From one interrupter to the next, let me explain the phenomenon of interrupting.  Most often it happens because you are so excited to relate to the person talking you have a hard time holding back. You desperately want them to know that you can relate, sympathize, empathize.  Apparently, vigorously shaking your head doesn't convey the depth of relate-ability enough, you must insert your own words over theirs.  On the other hand, when I'm the one being interrupted, I could really care less how much the other person relates, I just want to tell my story. I don't want to be one-upped by their more important story.  I guess the moral of the story here is that being a good listener is a character trait we shouldn't take for granted.  

May 10, 2015

Almost Done Remodeling

5/10/2015 — cori

I smile super big every time I walk into this glorious space.  It makes me so happy, I can't help but smile. Chuck has worked so hard.  I'm so proud of him.  We have made so much progress.  We've been in a holding pattern for 3 weeks now since we've had such little free time on the weekends.  But that doesn't bother me.  For all intents and purposes, the bathroom is finished, we're just waiting for the icing on the cake - the shower.  

The view as you walk into the bathroom from our room. 

I love this toilet.  It is eco-friendly and adult-sized (our last one was smaller than normal).  Those towel hooks just got hung up today.  The art, shelf and hooks were like the 4th plan...we nixed 3 other ideas since none of them worked.  First we were going to do a towel warmer over the toilet - didn't work.  Second idea was a hotel style towel rack with a shelf on top - didn't work, the towels hung out over the toilet too much.  Plan C was to do a smaller towel rack with only two bars - again, same towel issues.  I prefer not to move a towel out of the way before using the toilet.  So, lastly, we came up with the hooks that ended up using the space better and gave us an opportunity to incorporate some art as well.

This smaller table is my make-up station and also used for additional storage.  Since there is no way to add an additional sink we had to get creative.  We can't both stand at the sink and get ready at the same time so I came up with a separate area that works just as well and keeps us both happy.

This is the icing on the cake - the unfinished shower stall.  We originally planned to take out that 2x4 and make it a seamless glass shower.  However, when we looked up in the attic, we noticed that this seemingly unimportant piece of wood is actually load bearing.  This project has been filled with multiple Plan B's, C's and D's.  So Plan B is to tile around the wood and attach the glass to it.  Either way we still get a much more open space than we had before.

It's such an amazing feeling of accomplishment to make a plan and do all the work and see it through to completion.  I really appreciate this room much more having done the work ourselves and problem solved so many issues.  However, that being said, I will definitely appreciate my kitchen (our next project) when we pay someone else to do it and problem solve for us.  We own our limitations and we know we would never make it through a kitchen renovation.  Time is of the essence in the kitchen. It's worth whatever it costs to have someone else do it and do it quickly. 

May 7, 2015

The Theater

5/07/2015 — cori

Last Tuesday evening Gavin and I donned our 'We Are Cultured' hats and went on a date to the Guthrie theater.  It makes its home on the banks of the Mississippi River.  This is an iconic Minneapolis venue, from it's sleek modern architecture to it's renowned performances.  Come to find out Minneapolis has the most theater seats per capita after New York city.  Who knew?

This is the view from the elevated deck at the Guthrie - the famed Stone Arch Bridge.  As we quickly learned, Tuesday evenings are a great night for the theater.  There were no crowds and the setting was very intimate.  We were lost in the play for 3 hours straight and didn't even realize it - it was that good. 

Gavin had recently read "The Crucible" in his Literature class.  And what do you know, it just happened to come to town at the Guthrie right afterward.   I would have gotten an 'F' in parenting if I didn't take advantage of this opportunity of epic proportions.  The cast brought this book to life in the most amazing way.  It gave me a much greater appreciation for theater actors.  

I also learned a lot about Arthur Miller, the playwright.  The Crucible was written in 1952 as an allegory of McCarthyism and was not well received on Broadway.  Miller felt like the government was hunting Communists the same way society hunted witches in Salem in seventeenth century America.  Very few people were willing to stand up to the government and their anti-communist fears during this time of history, thus blacklisting him in the eyes of many.   He was even indicted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities because one of his liberal friends gave the committee his name.   

I think I might start wearing my 'We Are Cultured' hat more often.  This was way fun!

Apr 30, 2015

My Math Lesson

4/30/2015 — cori

After arriving home from school today and satisfying his belly with a delicious snack, this child of mine asks, "Mom, would you like to learn how to do synthetic division?"

"What is that even?  Is it like pretend division?"

"No, I'll teach you."

*heavy sigh*

I know one day I will miss this frequent afternoon 'let me show you what I learned in math' sessions. But I don't speak 'math'.  I do know the word division, but then he lost me after that.  But my 16 year old wants to spend time with me, talking and showing me stuff...who am I to say 'no' even if I have no clue what he's trying to say?!  I am good at nodding in all the right places, trying to look intelligent, asking semi-relevant questions and being very responsive with saying alot of affirming "mmmhhhmmms".  This is what moms do.

We sit down to do our first problem together and I ask him if I can take pictures of what we're doing so I can remember it.  I received permission.  Here goes:

Apparently we start off with a warm-up problem.  I don't want you to be confused, this particular problem is just regular polynomial division.  Of course you could probably tell by the way he was laying out the problem, but I couldn't.

What I could tell, however, is the always circle the answer.  I know that one.

Here I am messing with my camera because I somehow got distracted from my math tutorial and thought it would be fun to take selfies of how dazed and confused I look as he's explaining mysteries from the upper echelons of math class that I failed to reach.

Here's our next problem.  Apparently now we're really diving into the hard stuff.  Ahh, but no, synthetic division is supposed to make dividing polynomials that much easier.


Trying to raise one eyebrow in this lovely shot.

Ah haa!  Another answer because I see the tell tale circle.

Still working on ..... something.  Maybe he's double checking his previous answer.  

As you can tell, I kinda zoned out.  I was having alot of fun with the selfie thing.  I'm so glad Chloe taught me how to do this.  But I must confess...selfies are not flattering.  At all.  I cringe even posting them on here.

Thus ends our math tutorial.  Don't worry, there will be more to come.  There always are.  If not after school, then at the dinner table.  If not at the dinner table, then while we're taking a walk together. Math is everywhere.  All the time.  This is how I embrace it.

Apr 29, 2015

The Compliment

4/29/2015 — cori

I love these crazy ecards!  They are able to provide humor and awkwardness all at the same time. Kind of like Gavin.  

The other night at dinner I must have been in a quiet or odd mood other than my typical happy, chatty self (tongue in cheek).  Gavin queued in on it and initiated his 'Make Mom Happy Plan'.  He thought that giving me a genuine, honest compliment would bring me back to Happyville again and all would be right in his world.  So, being the amazing small-talker that he is he starts off with, "Well Mom, you are a very good eater."  This is the nicest thing he can think of to say to me at the moment.

We all stare at him.  Awkward.  Even Bennett and Chloe know that is not a typical compliment. Then we all bust out laughing.  Mission accomplished.

"Why in the world would you say that to somebody?"  Chuck wanted to know.

"Well, she is....look at her, she is eating her food very good.  She ate it all and she is neat about it."  You would think I'm a two year old in a high chair the way he's going on and on.  I never knew my eating prowess at the table inspired him so much.

These people of mine - they are always watching.

Apr 24, 2015

Watch Out World

4/24/2015 — cori

There's a new licensed driver in town and he's really, really, really happy to be driving.  After his first solo trip (which was to his Tae-kwon-do class) he informed me, "Mom, now I really feel empowered."  Isn't that what every 16 year old says upon earning their new found freedom with a car?

Gavin went for his driver's test 9am this past Monday morning.  I don't know who was more nervous, me or him...but I played it cool.  If I've learned nothing else from parenting a teen it is this: whatever you do, be cool.  On the outside, I was a cool cucumber.  On the inside, my stomach was doing back flips.  

Once the Testing Guy comes and dismisses me from the passenger seat that I've occupied for 13 long, arduous, nail-biting months along side my son, I don't look back.  Remember, I'm being cool.  For Gavin.  If I fall apart, he'll fall apart.  His confidence rests on my confidence in him.  I walk towards the waiting area non-chalantly as if I do this every day.  I procure a seat by the window so I can watch him do his first 'test' which is to back in at a 90 degree angle.  As I get my phone poised to take the picture I gasp as I see him hit the cone!  Apparently I also snapped a shot at the very same instant I gasped because this is the image I caught. 

I felt horrible for him.  The very first part of the test and he's already messed up.  Arghhh!!!  He's been practicing this every weekend for months.  Never once did he hit a cone.  Oh well, I think, I hope this doesn't mess with his mind too much for the rest of the test.  Fifteen minutes crawl by.  I have a book open on my lap but have no clue what I'm reading.  Suddenly I see another kid who started his road test just before Gavin walk in with his Test Guy and they talk to the mom.  Test Guy tells mom that he needs a bit more practice and to come back next week.  Great, looks like this will be the path we will be taking too.  I even check my calendar to see if I have next Monday open.  I decide to go wait outside so Gavin isn't embarrassed when Test Guy has to talk to me in front of all these waiting people.  I see Gavin walking up to me with his same ol' expression - serious.  I can't read it.  I don't know if he's just being cool, if he failed and is trying not to go all Donald Duck on me or if he's tricking me and trying to make me think he failed when in actuality he passed.  It's odd though, the Test Guy is not walking over toward me like Gavin is.  Hmmm.  

Then Gavin calmly points out, "I passed" with ever so slight a grin on his face.  Apparently, jumping up and down and screaming with your mom and having too happy of a face is NOT COOL.  I follow him in the building beaming with a huge smile (forget cool, I'm thrilled) and ask him to explain the whole hitting the cone incident.  "Well, I did hit the cone.  But apparently he thought I did great on everything else that he passed me."  That is all the explanation I'm allowed.  I do not know what conversations transpired between Test Guy and my son.  I do not know whether or not Gavin's butterflies were as active as mine.  But I do know that despite how cool we both looked on the outside, we were super stoked on the inside.

Watch out, you might just see these two driving around town looking all cool with their licenses and sunglasses.  

We're Serious About Basketball

4/24/2015 — cori
What I love about Bennett's basketball team:

This: Dad's and coaches dressed for the occasion.

And this:  7th grade boys in all their glory still happy to be hanging out with their goofy dads.

The last practice before the State Tournament and this is how they do it!  I love this.  This keeps the fun in the game!  The practice session was Dads vs. Boys.  We had no clue who won because we were laughing so hard.  The Dads subbed in and out ALOT; more than the boys did.  Everyone played their hearts out like they were playing for Olympic Gold.  We're serious alright - seriously goofy!

Apr 17, 2015

Bathroom Update

4/17/2015 — cori
Soooo....where should I begin...ah yes, that lovely little time table we had.  It's shot.  Plumbing is a bear people, let me tell you.  Especially when you know little to nothing about it.  Chuck thought he would solder this little copper pipe to this other little copper pipe and voila...the process would be done in less than an hour and our tub would go back in.  Nope.  Here's how it went down:

Chuck tried soldering and it wouldn't work.

So he called in reinforcements.

That didn't necessarily work out either.  Not for lack of trying.  Chuck and Dad worked for about 8 hours last Sunday.  That blow torch sure got a workout.  There was just a constant leak they couldn't fix no matter how hard they tried.  I never would have persevered that long.  Finally, on Tuesday, after taking the day off work to focus on the bathroom, Chuck broke down and called the plumber. The plumber looked at our little situation for 2 seconds and declared that the fitting was not working because all the plastic on the inside of the pipes had been melted from all the studious blowtorching. Come to find out all that we needed to do was turn off the water main to the whole house, not just to our bathroom.  That way the pipes would have zero water in them thereby allowing the solder to adhere immediately.  So, if you ever want to decrease your soldering job from 8 hours to less than one, I highly recommend turning the water main off and not cooking your pipes with a blow torch.  

But all was not a waste this past Sunday.  Dad and Chuck did get the new lighting fixture hole cut in the wall so that they could install the new (much more glorious, beautiful, attractive, functional) light fixture and not work by what appears to be candle-light any longer.

Finally the moment of truth arrives....the boys put the tub back in place!  Do you hear the angels singing?  That was me.  We now have one functional piece of bathroom equipment in our bathroom again.  And no ugly green wall. 

Tada!!!  Chloe and Chuck are putting plumbers putty around the new faucets.  I'm still working on painting the wood to cover up the holes so you can't see the plumbing.  We might just get this baby done by June afterall.  This (the tub section) was a long and arduous feat of epic proportions....we are telling ourselves its all downhill from here.  We'll see about that.

Apr 13, 2015

Preteen Party

4/13/2015 — cori

It's official - my baby is a pre-teen now.  Wow, eleven years have flown by!  I absolutely adore who Chloe is and the young lady she is maturing into.  This year we celebrated by having 7 girls take over the house all day and all night.  Yes, there was lots of screaming.  Yes, there were lots of giggles. Yes, there were lots of selfies.  Yes, there was lots of fun!

Here is the group prior to playing Murder in the Dark.  That wasn't the only game we played, but the most anticipated one by far.  Even Chuck and the boys participated.  Everyone put on dark garb to help hide in the dark better.  The funny thing was though, most of the girls were 'just a little, teeny-weeny bit scared of the dark' so we had to leave a few night lights on around the house - which totally defeats the purpose of the game.

After all the screaming excitement the girls were ready to bunker down for the night.  They squeezed themselves into a pretty tight corner....all the better for late night talks, I guess.

The next morning we went to Skateville so they could skate their little hearts out to really loud music. We did get lost twice on the way there adding to the sense of adventure for the girls. 

The girls seemed to love having Gavin and Bennett around.  Afterall, what preteen girl isn't in awe of teenage boys?  And the boys were great sports playing every game with them and even roller skating. But eventually they had to take a break from all the 'girliness' and get in some Minecraft time.

Apr 6, 2015

Slop Cake

4/06/2015 — cori
The kids usually like to request certain types of cakes for their birthdays.  This year Chloe requested a white cake with fudge frosting.  Simple enough.  I am good at reading the back of the cake box and following directions.  Unfortunately, this is what happened after following the directions to a T.

Not cool.  No amount of frosting was going to fix that ravine in her cake.  It looked more like a hamburger than a cake.  All we needed to do was throw some sesame seeds on top.  Utter fail.  The only solution was to do this:


Delicately heave it from the cake platter to a plate using a spatula.  I told the kids, "It would be a big help to me if you could please eat it off the plate.  I don't want to be reminded of my failure."  Chloe was thrilled that she got to eat a cake the day before her birthday as well as on her birthday.  She told me, "Mom, that slop cake didn't look very good, but it sure tasted good!"


Here is attempt number two.  You only get to see this small portion of the cake because it may or may not be leaning slightly to one side causing it to look a bit lopsided.  But this side looks great! And I was told it tasted great too, even though it wasn't very stable looking.

Come to find out, the slop cake called for 3 egg whites to be mixed into the batter.  Never again will I only use egg whites, unless I plan to make Angel Food cake.  The cake has nothing to hold it together, no binder, so it couldn't help but fall apart.  Lesson learned.

My cooking is a constant reminder to my kids how far from perfect I am.  We all expect something to go awry, look a little weird, not be done on time, or a host of other issues.  But in the end, it always tastes good and that's all that really matters to us.

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