No Harm Done

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Braden's New Room

Poor Braden.

He's allergic to dust, and for the past couple of years has had to reside in a room devoid of any decoration.

Decorations = dust catchers.

Up until recently his room consisted simply of a bed, a nightstand, and a dresser. All the rest of his belongings (clothes, books, awards, magazines, etc.) had been relegated to his closet with the door closed all. the. time.

His room certainly looked clean and uncluttered, though it has always resembled a jail cell.

My most recent project was to decorate his room in a way that would be warm, inviting, and easy to dust.

Here is the result:

I painted the walls in his room a warm tan color. You can see a glimpse of them on the left-hand side of the photo. One wall in the room is painted dark blue.

Braden really likes maps, so I purchased a world map and an annotated Bible Lands map from National Geographic, and then framed them in poster frames. Frames are MUCH easier to dust than maps tacked to the wall.

Across the top, I mounted 4 clocks, each easy to adjust and each set to the correct time in a different city: our home city, London, Jerusalem, and Sydney.

Over his dresser I put his ribbons and medals in shadow boxes and hung them on the wall. I can add more if needed, and they are easily dusted.

On his dresser I also allowed his prize, autographed photo of Tom Bergeron. It's also framed, so it passes my dust test.

Braden was very happy with his room. His friends think it's cool. And after a couple of weeks he's learned to ignore the constant ticking of the clocks when he needs to sleep.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I've been enjoying the "Motivational Posters For the Emerging Church" at the Pyromaniacs blog, but have hesitated posting them here because several friends ascribe to that point of view. And so, not wanting to cause the weaker brother to stumble, I've refrained from linking to them.

(Teasing! I'm teasing!)

Anyway, Team Pyro recently set them to music, and now they're too good to pass up.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Welcome to My World

It started, innocently enough, with an off-the-cuff remark from M. His idea caught on, however, and by the end of the evening it sounded great.

A Lego catalog arrived in our mailbox on Saturday, and the boys have been poring over it and updating us (practically) hourly about which sets they wished for. Our standard response to this has been “Start saving your money.”

Well, Braden took us seriously and started looking for ways to make extra cash. On the bulletin board we keep a list of household chores that the boys can do for extra money, if they like. Braden complained about the chores last night because he thought they didn’t pay enough. “These jobs all pay 50 and 75 cents. What I need is a $5 job. Or a $10 job.”

M. said, “ The only thing I’d pay you $10 for is for doing Mom’s job for a day.”

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Braden thought this was a great idea and lobbied
M. for permission to do my job for a day. We liked his ambition, and M. gave him permission to be me today. Last night I typed up a list of all the things I do on an average day, plus a couple of extra tasks.

Braden woke up full of enthusiasm and energy, but by midmorning was starting to flag. Toys were piling up, siblings weren’t cooperative, and Braden learned that he couldn’t multi-task well. By lunchtime (1:30 today) my stomach was in knots, and the sheer volume of stuff laying around the house was stressing me out. Poor Braden was tired and feeling overwhelmed.

Braden did a super job of having dinner ready by the time
M. got home, and he left for swim practice afterwards with a spring in his step. I think that he was looking forward to the break!

When he came home, I could tell he was disappointed to see that I hadn’t cleaned up the kitchen for him, and aaaaalllll those dinner dishes were waiting. He looked sadly at the counters, but he didn't complain. He worked hard to get the littles in bed, the house picked up, and the kitchen and dishes cleaned.

Braden learned a lot today, I think. It was hard watching him struggle through today, but I am proud of how hard he worked and persevered.

I made a quick movie of his day, interspersed with some of my favorite quotes of his from the day. (I love Windows Movie Maker!)


Saturday, September 22, 2007

I have been singing this song all day.

Well, I've been singing an edited version all day. :) The kids have been around, you know.

I want to thank Ramblin' Educat for introducing me to the swanky-ness that is Richard Cheese. We've had a fantastic time listening to his songs on iTunes and YouTube.

Here's a clip of him singing "Baby Got Back" on Fox and Friends.

(Note: If you aren't familiar with the lyrics to this song, google them to determine whether you want to proceed.)

Here's a clip of Richard Cheese performing "Sunday Bloody Sunday." There's no video with this, though just the audio. But the audio is great! :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

We Interrupt Our Boston Trip... bring you a short movie for friends in Pittsburgh.

The G. family is moving to Pittsburgh. It's a wonderful transition for them, though a sad happening for us. We will miss them.

Last weekend we essentially bullied our way over to their house with the help of Mother-in-Law, Mrs. M. (Thank you Mrs. M.!!) We spent hours and hours and then more hours packing, painting, cleaning, chasing children, and then packing some more. The S. family came in the afternoon to help.

We topped off the weekend with pizza, and were all exhausted but happily surprised at how much fun we'd had during the day and how much we accomplished.

Here's a short video of the work that got done in those days. We didn't get as many photos as we'd hoped (we were working, after all), but you'll get the idea. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's Always Somethin'

Amidst today’s travels, I spent quite a bit of time wondering what in the world was wrong with my hands.

I first noticed them this morning at Plimoth Plantation. As I washed up in the guest center, my hands looked .... orange.

Oddly, carroty orange.

Rather strikingly orange, actually. At the time, I thought it was probably just the light, but when I went outside into the sunshine my hands were still orange.

I questioned
M. throughout the day (“Hey, is it me, or do my hands look orange?” or “Do these look orange-y to you?”) and by dinnertime it was plain that the orange glow to my hands was not a figment of my imagination.

But I couldn’t figure out what was causing it. I haven’t eaten a ton of carrots lately. Or any carrots, actually. I haven’t been painting or playing with henna. I’m pretty sure I’m not jaundiced. So what the heck?

We got back to the hotel about an hour ago, and I went to put lotion on my hands. They’ve been so dry today because of all the hand-washing. (I’ve gone a bit Lady MacBeth today: “Out, Out d**n spot!” D**n orange-y spot!)

It was in the hotel room when it hit me: the lotion! I ran back to check and, sure enough, there is the culprit.

We didn’t check any bags on the trip, so I had to buy toiletries in 3 oz. bottles so they could be carried on the flight. Apparently, the small bottle of lotion I grabbed contains large quantities of a self-tanner, which explains why only my hands are orange.

It also explains why I’ll be wearing gloves for the next few days.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bahstun- Paht Two

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love accents. I love listening to them. I love trying to imitate them. I love pointing out other people's accents, though they don't usually like that so much. Today was filled with accents and languages that added color and charm to our trip.

We spent Saturday on a bus tour of Boston. The hotel recommended this 7 hour tour, and we had a wondeful time. We were able to visit all the sites we'd wanted to see, and didn't have to worry about parking.

The driver had a wonderful Boston accent, and his voice sounded very familiar. I spent a lot of time listening to him and trying to place the voice - a bit like Click and Clack on "CarTalk" (NPR), but not quite. It wasn't until the end of the tour that it hit me: our tour guide sounded just like George Carlin, only without all the anger and bitterness. I know, I know, Carlin wasn't from Boston. But our tour guide still sounded like him.

We began the day by driving through the southern areas of Boston, and stopping at Longfellow's House in Cambridge.
We met the rest of our group there. There were 15 of us on the bus, and 7 members of our group were from Germany. As we drove, one of the group translated the information into German for the rest. It was fantastic! I even got to try out some of my German, which pretty much consists of the words "bitte," "danke," and "farvegnugen."
We spent an hour exploring the Charlestown Navy Yard. We were able to board the USS Constitution, the oldest comissioned ship in the navy. Twice a year they take it out onto the open water and sail her around a bit.

Look at those cannons!

Next we visited the USS Cassin Young, a World War 2 era destroyer. We could walk around the deck of the ship, and explore inside a bit. By this time it had started raining and was really cold. We explored the destroyer, and then made our way back to the shipyard museum.
From the shipyard we drove over the hill to the Bunker Hill Monument on Breed's Hill.

The hill was not at all how I'd pictured it. For instance, it's really not much of a hill. It's more of a swell in the road. The city has grown up around it. But when you look at artwork inside the monument, you can see what it looked like before the city encroached on that area. It is sobering to walk on that hill and think of all the men and boys who lost their lives in that first battle.
The monument was built in the early 1800s, and visitors can walk the 294 steps to the top, and look out over the city. Here's a picture of the monument:

M. walked all the way up to the top, while I explored the Bunker Hill Museum and Gift Shop. M. says that the view from the top was worth the climb, but tonight he's still walking like an elderly man needing a hip replacement. Poor guy!
There were rows and rows of this style of housing. Very cool!

We stopped for lunch at Quincy Market, and ran into this colonist talking on his cell phone. He wasn't supposed to be doing that, and tried to put his phone away, but when he saw that I wanted a picture with him on his phone, he was more than happy to continue his conversation.

At Quincy Market, we bought fish and chips (Boston Scrod), and ate outside watching all the people in the market. I enjoyed listening to the people who work in the market. Everyone was all upset about last night's Sox game. They had the lead the whole game, but then lost to the Yankees near the end of the game.

On our lunch break, we wandered through the North End and into "Little Italy." It is a beautiful part of town!

We wandered through the North End in order to find Paul Revere's House. Look! It's Paul Revere's HOUSE! How cool is that?!

They wouldn't allow photography inside, so all we get to see is a picture of the exterior. The house was built in 1660 (ish) and was already 100 years old when Paul Revere bought it!
Here's the Old North Church, where the lanterns were hung signaling whether the British were coming by land or by sea. The Old North Church is still a functioning Episcopal Church today. They open it for tourists during the week. Underneath the church, over 1000 people are buried. Years ago, the Puritans gave the Anglicans the land for this church, but wouldn't give them any land for cemetaries. So they buried their dead underneath the church.
The next two pictures are for Brogan. Remember the book "Make Way for Ducklings?" You liked it so much, that we had to read it every time we set foot in a bookstore or saw it in the library. Finally we bought our own copy.
Well, the book was set in the Boston Public Gardens. Here is a picture looking into the Gardens:
And here are statues of the mama duck and her ducklings inside the park! I wish you were here so you could see them, and sit on a bench in the garden and read the book with me.
Tomorrow we visit Plimoth Plantation and Cape Cod!

Friday, September 14, 2007

We’re here!




M. and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary next month, so we (and by “we” I mean “M.”) planned a trip to Boston to celebrate. Usually I do all the planning, but this time M. took care of everything on his own. I just had to pack and show up.

15 years of marriage is a big deal! There are very few people I have even known for 15 years. I think very few people can tolerate me for 15 years, really, and the fact that
M. and I are still married is a credit to his patience and perseverance.

Yesterday we dropped the boys off at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and drove to Milwaukee. The boys have been looking forward to spending the weekend with their grandparents for months. Me…. not so much. I think the last time I was separated from the boys was when I was in the hospital after Colson was born. Being apart from them, even for just 4 days, is hard.

I spent a lot of time hugging and kissing them yesterday before we left. Braden’s reassuring words to me were, “No offense, Mom, but I don’t think we’re going to miss you very much. We’ll be too busy having fun.”

Well, okay, not quite the reassuring words I was hoping for, but I’m going to choose to focus on the upside: they won’t be crying inconsolably at Grandma’s. Me, on the other hand…….

This morning we boarded the airline shuttle with a couple of pilots and what seemed to be a pilot in training. They were participating in “getting acquainted” sort of small talk, and I tuned out until I heard the veteran pilot say, “….then the fan went out. It was totally fried, and that really frosted me.”

“Didn’t they have a backup fan?” asked newbie pilot.

“Well, there’s supposed to be one, but you know how that goes,” replied veteran pilot.
Not a conversation I wanted to hear while en route to the airport.

Once on our plane, the pilot announced that the rear auxiliary engine wasn’t working, so they were going to have to fire up the main engines and get help backing away from the gate. The thought of an engine not working seemed to me to be a big deal. But no one around me was reacting. All of the flight staff were cheerful and calm, despite the fact that we’d lost one engine already and hadn’t even left the ground yet.

But, we made it safely to Boston, picked up out luxurious rental "cah" (I'm lovin' the accents heah.), and drove to the hotel. We drove through the notorious "Big Dig" on the way.
Here's a photo for Aunt T.:

Just kidding! They've improved it a bit. Here's a real photo:

We’ve been here a total of 5 hours, and what have we done? Umm… well, we spent a lot of time driving. Traffic here is, well, there’s a lot of it. And it’s not necessarily bad, just….plentiful.

We’ve unpacked, gone for a walk, and ate dinner at Vinny T’s, an Italian restaurant nearby. Tonight we plan to rest up, enjoy the quiet, and relax.

Tomorrow is jam-packed with activity. Historical tours and a trip to Concord, Mass. are on the agenda, and probably a trip downtown. Sunday we plan to visit Plimoth Plantation, the Mayflower 2, and Cape Cod. There will be lots more pictures tomorrow night.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Po-TAY-to.... Po-TAH to

Today Colson announced he knew what job he'd like to have when he grows up. He just couldn't think of the name......

C: I want to be someone who takes care of animals.

Me: Like a veterinarian? An animal doctor?

C: No. Someone who takes care of all animals. All animals in the world.
Me: Ummmm. You mean like a zookeeper?

C: No. I want to be one of those....ummm... what do you call those people who don't eat meat?

Me: A vegetarian?

C: YES! That's it. They really take care of all the animals.

Me: (Puzzled) Yes, I suppose they do.

C: And they help pets when they are sick. I want to do that. But only with puppies.

Me: Wait. Do you want to be a pet doctor? A veterinarian?

C: Can a veterinarian take care of puppies and all the animals?

Me: Yes.

C: I'll be that then.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


It's been a busy weekend! Well, a busy Saturday, really.

Our original plans for Saturday fell through, so we found ourselves with an entire day to get caught up on household projects.

I worked primarily in Braden's room. The poor guy has dust allergies, so his room is as free of dust-catchers as I can make it. Unfortunately, that sort of decorating makes the room look like a jail cell. So over the past week I've worked to put something together that's both easy to dust and somewhat "cool." But I'll blog more about his room later.

I also cleaned the entire top floor, did an astounding amount of laundry, decluttered the littles' room, and decluttered and cleaned the toy room. (We keep all the boys' toys in one room, as opposed to having them in their bedrooms or scattered around the house. )

M. raked the grass in the yard, cleaned the garage, sorted and organized the toys on the back porch, got an oil change, and even found time to took the boys to the zoo!

The boys alternated between helping me and helping M. . Mostly they helped inside, but Brogan loves to be outside, and he opted to work outdoors helping M. . Here they are washing the trash cans. That is a great chore because it's work, yet you get to play with water and the sprayer. It's all good. :)