Thursday, June 28, 2007

What was I thinking?

This wallpaper thing is about to kill me! It turns out that taking it down wasn’t the hard part. Every Zoo resident over two years of age pitched in one afternoon and we nearly had the whole room done.

It’s not the look I am going for but it already looks better without that lovely floral pattern on the walls.
The walls are not ready to paint, however. They are coated with layer upon layer of wallpaper paste residue that needs to come off before painting. I have been searching the internet for the secret to removing the sticky glop from my walls quickly and easily. There are tons of people that say it’s as easy as wiping the walls with a damp sponge and vinegar – NOT!! Some recommend a solution of water and tri-sodium phosphate – not even close. The guy at the hardware store said to use DIF. It is helping, but it’s definitely not as simple as the directions on the back make it sound.

“Once all the wallpaper has been removed, reapply DIF for 15 to 20 minutes to remove any remaining glue. Use Paper Scraper to scrape away glue residue, then wipe down the walls with a damp sponge.”

I found a system that seems to be working. I apply, wait 15 minutes, scrape and wipe. I then re-scrape and re-wipe, often with something more than vinegar or TSP. I had to use Comet to get a few spots clean. After two hours I had a six foot section of the wall prepared for painting. Unfortunately there’s still about fifty feet left to finish.

We were very close to painting right over the wallpaper, but decided we had better do this the right way or we’d be sorry down the line. I was questioning that decision this afternoon as I was fervently scraping the walls. I’m sure we made the right call, but it’s difficult for me to appreciate at the moment. You see, I was not blessed with the gift of patience. Right now I feel like my boys when we drive anywhere that takes more than 10 minutes. I want to say, “It’s taking too long!” with the same distressed moaning noise they are so skilled at generating. But, as I tell the boys, that’s not very productive. I’d better just quit complaining and get scraping.

Monday, June 25, 2007

VBS Hoedown

Today was the first day of Vacation Bible School at our church. I went to bed last night fretting and worrying over how the day would go. As it urns out, it went pretty smoothly, and I think everyone had a good time. My kids definitely enjoyed it and are excited to go back tomorrow. Our western theme is a fun one to play with. The gym looked like a ranch, we had a chuck wagon near the chow station, and each of the kids had a hat and a bandana. They sang songs with movements, made crafts, learned a new story from the Bible, and played fun games.

They also get a yummy snack each day. Today it was a trail mix fit for a ranch hand.
We even found some young ladies to look after the little ranchers while I was busy with my VBS chores.

I am happy that it went so well today, and I pray that the rest of the week is equally trouble-free.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Playgroups and Ballgames and Safety Town (oh my!)

Even though I would call this a “slow week”, there was still plenty happening around here. We took my dad out for pizza as a Father’s Day gift, we had a preschool playdate in the park, Miss M had an evening softball game, the boys graduated from Safety Town, and I even started removing some of the wallpaper in the dining room (don’t even ask me how it’s going.)

I sure enjoyed not having anywhere to be in the mornings this past week. However, that will all end when Monday comes. Next week starts Vacation Bible School at our church. The three older kids are all registered to attend, and I will enjoy my third year leading the song and dance section of the program. It is always a fun week with the kids and I am looking forward to it. I still have things to do to get prepared for Monday, though, so I better get started!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

We’re Hanging it Up

After reading articles like this, this and this, we have decided that now is the perfect time NOT to sell our house. This decision comes as a great relief, since we have felt as though we haven’t really lived here since we put the house on the market in October of last year. At that time we “de-cluttered” the house by moving many of the little-used items in our house to our parents’ houses. We took down the kids’ pictures that normally hang over the fireplace. We moved some things to other parts of the house and have missed having them in their old places. Now we are ready to move back into our house and put everything back the way it was. Well, not quite everything. A lot of what is sitting in our parents’ basements right now needs to be sold or donated. We’ve decided that if we could live without it for all of this time, we can live without it for good.

We set out on this house-selling adventure for mostly financial reasons. We had only lived in our house for a little more than three years. But over those three years our house payment had gone up more than $120 due to of a rise in property value and consequently real estate taxes. We were stretching to get into this house in the first place, and were not expecting such an increase in payments. We also added two more children to our family since we had bought this house. In addition, my husband’s employer had begun being rather vague about the future of the company within this last year or so. We decided that downsizing would be a smart financial move, so the sign went in the yard. Things have changed, however, as we just received a notice that our house payment has actually gone DOWN this year. My husband tells me that things at the office are looking up, and there’s a chance we might even get that bonus we were told not to expect. Therefore, we feel pretty good about pulling that sign back out of the yard.

It also feels pretty good to be able to start some projects around here again. I’ve been wanting to paint the dining room, but was nervous about being in the middle of it if someone would call to see the house. I can begin to think seriously about turning our dining room into a den without worrying about how it would look to a potential buyer. Then I can rearrange the bedroom, knock out a wall in the basement, tear down wallpaper in the bathroom…..

Monday, June 18, 2007

Thank God it’s Monday

I don’t think I have ever said that before. But that phrase ought to give you a clue as to what our weekend was like here at the Reddy Zoo. Both Saturday and Sunday were non-stop from the minute we woke up, and wake-up times were a bit earlier than usual. In fact it was dark when I woke up on Sunday!

Highlights from the weekend include a very exciting softball game from Miss M’s team. When her team was down 10-3, they scored eight runs in the last inning to come back and win the game. Big D’s team played twice this weekend, and he hit the ball every time he was at bat. The band gig on Saturday went very smoothly (although it was HOT), and I was pleasantly surprised to receive compensation after the show. We often joke that the band is usually paid by the Lord. Getting kudos from the Big Guy is great, but having a couple of extra bucks in your pocket ain’t bad either.

Early Sunday morning was the team triathlon. I was hoping to finish the twenty mile bike ride in less than two hours. It actually took 1 hour and 34 minutes, which I am very pleased with. It’s not a good time in general, but it’s good enough for me. I was passed by many other bikers, but I didn’t let that discourage me. I was very motivated by the fact that I didn’t have to run five miles when I completed the ride. I felt even more motivated once I was more than halfway finished. I even passed one (that's 1) other rider on my way! I checked our results on the internet last night and it turns out we didn’t place last. Again, it’s good enough for me.

We managed to squeeze in two Father’s Day celebrations amidst the triathlon and two shifts at our parish concession stand. I felt like we were getting there late and running out early at both places, but at least we were there. I tried to stay awake until the father at our house made it home after the last concession shift, but that 4:45 wake up time was getting to me. I only made it to 10:15. Sorry, hon!

Knowing that we didn’t have to get up and race off to be somewhere this morning was an awesome feeling. The only thing that REALLY had to get done was the grocery shopping. I was able to take my time getting a list together so we didn’t even leave until around 10:30. We got home just in time for lunch and shortly after it was time for the boys to begin the second week of Safety Town. There was no stress and no rush. Now I wonder how long that will last.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Thank God it’s Friday

And I can’t remember the last time I meant it this much. It has been quite a week for us around here. Unfortunately, it’s going to be quite a weekend as well. I was hoping for a relaxing weekend after our crazy week, but no. The craziness continues into the weekend…and beyond!

Both Big D and Miss M have games to play on Saturday due to earlier rain-outs. They are back-to-back in the late morning and early afternoon. I will have to leave in the middle of the second game because the Christian rock band that I sing with is playing later in the afternoon. And I will have to fit in an evening Mass because Sunday morning is out of the question.

I signed up to do the biking sections of a team triathlon on Sunday. I have never done anything like this before, so I could use some prayers and positive energy to help me pull it off. I am actually looking forward to it…for the most part. Regrettably, I will miss the Father’s Day breakfast at my mother-in-law’s house. In addition, my husband is working at the concession stand at our church most of the day.

Due to the aforementioned activities, we have a very small window of time in which to celebrate Father’s Day. It’s a shame that we have to SQUEEZE in Father’s Day like that, but our Dad is used to having to go with the flow around here. We hope to have just enough time to let him know what a great dad he is and how much we love him. Oh…and feed him a tasty dinner. Dads love food.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Busy-ness, As Usual

It has actually seemed a little more busy than usual, if you ask me. We are more than halfway through Girl Scout Day Camp, thank goodness. These past three days have been long, warm days. I am working in a Junior Girl Scout unit with Miss M and 18 other girls. Thankfully there are two other leaders (more on the ball than I) and two aides there to help us as well. While I am with Miss M, the other three kids are in the “Nursery Unit” with several leaders and aides helping to take care of them. The boys have no complaints, but Banana has made it quite clear that she’d rather be with me and Miss M. However, she did better the second day than the first. Hopefully she’ll have a great day tomorrow. They are taking all of the kids to McDonald’s for lunch. What kid wouldn’t like that?

Camp has been fun for the girls, and we have been keeping them hopping. Since it’s hot we let them play games where they will get wet, like “Drip, Drip, Splash”. (Think “Duck, Duck, Goose” with a cup of water.) The Fire Department came to hose everyone down one day. The girls were drenched to the bone after that.

They have done numerous crafts, including a decoupage candle holder, a bird feeder, a lanyard bracelet, and spray-dyed t-shirts. There are more to come in the next couple of days as well.

They also made an “edible fire” where they used pretzel rods for logs and red-hots for the coals. It taught them the correct way to build a fire while providing a tasty snack at the same time.

They played tug-of-war on the first day and have asked every day since then to play again. Who knew they would find pulling each other around on a rope so enjoyable?

But, since there are 19 girls in one place, they mostly just giggle…a lot.

When camp is over for the day, I have about 40 minutes before I have to go pick up the boys from Safety Town. It also started this week and will continue through next week. Safety Town may be a little long, but it's a wonderful program. The boys will learn so much about all areas of safety that they will be reprimanding me for not following every safety rule ever created. They become my own personal little safety officers for at least a couple of weeks. Safety Town is fun enough in itself, but they also get to attend with their cousins this year. Sweet!

Each night this week I also had a meeting of some sort or another to attend. Vacation Bible School orientation, a meeting about the other day camp I will be working in July, etc. Multiply my meetings by the fact that Miss M had softball practice one night, Big D had baseball practice the next, and Miss M had a game tonight. Our whole family has been running in various directions all week. This evening I had to give the boys a big speech about how our family is a team and we each need to do our part for the team. So even though C.B. didn’t want to go to Miss M’s game tonight, and even though Big D didn’t want to go to my VBS meeting tonight, they needed to do their part to help the team (in other words shut up and do what I am asking!) Big D understood; C.B. not so much. Oh well, I guess that’s why he’s not on the baseball team this year.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

We're Back!

After a week-long family vacation down south, and after a few days to catch up on life once we got back home, I am finally getting around to writing another post. Our drive to Texas went as well as could be expected. Banana was quite fussy as she was “trapped” for hours in her car seat and the boys were alternating having to go potty every 20 to 30 minutes. Needless to say, the 8 hour drive took us 12 hours. We scheduled an “in-between” stay in Oklahoma to camp at a lake we have passed and admired many times during drives to Texas over the years. Lake Eufaula is a great big gorgeous lake in the middle of Oklahoma that usually looks like this:

I took the above picture as we were crossing Lake Eufaula in 1991. (The old scanned picture has an eerie glow to it, doesn't it?) The lake has been absolutely beautiful every time we have crossed over it. Its size and its beauty inspired us to want to do more than just cross it, which is why we decided to spend a couple of days on this awesome lake on our way to Texas. We thought it was the perfect idea. Until we got there and saw this:

Because of recent heavy rainfall in the area, the water level was up and the reddish-brown dirt that surrounds the lake had soaked into the once clear water. We were so disappointed to see that our lovely lake had turned brown, but we were even more disappointed when we visited the beach area. It had been trashed – literally. There were milk cartons and plastic water bottles lying around.

Not to mention the beer cans and several dead fish.

We were so disappointed that we didn’t even stay in Oklahoma for the two days that we had planned. We got into Texas on Thursday, a day earlier than we were supposed to. Luckily there was a campsite available at the campground in Texas even though our reservations were for the next day. We were also able to surprise my grandma on her actual birthday and go out with her for dinner. So it really worked out well in the end.

Even though Texas had experienced similar heavy rains and the water there was also up, the lake at our campground looked just fine. On Friday we enjoyed fishing and swimming, simply loving the fact that the lake was about thirty yards from our campsite.

On Saturday, we visited Whataburger, a regular stop for us when we are in town (man, those burgers are BIG) and we spent some time at the Mall out of desperation to get out of the sun for one afternoon. On Saturday evening we were fed by my aunts (thanks, ladies) and we got in lots of quality visiting time with the family. It was great to see everybody – to catch up with my cousins was awesome. I also enjoyed watching the kids having fun with everyone. One of my cousins has a little boy the same age as Big D. Both of my boys loved playing with him. I also have a cousin that is close to Miss M’s age, and they had a ball together too. On Sunday we went to brunch after church with Grandma’s “Breakfast Club”, where my kids ate on china with real silverware and drank chocolate milk from glass glasses. And no one spilled anything!! We also took the kids to see Shrek 3 (it was so-so in my opinion) and some of the male members of the family managed to squeeze in nine holes of golf in between rain showers.

We avoided most of the bad weather since it stormed either at night or while were away from the camper. On Monday, however, we were lucky enough to squeeze in a quick visit with a friend we haven’t seen in seven years. Little did we know that a fast-moving storm swept through the area while we were visiting. We returned from dinner to find that our canopy had been moved to the other side of our camper. In case you were wondering, that is NOT a good thing. Metal had been ripped from metal and parts of the canopy were actually laying next to the camper, no longer attached. We had to do some interesting maneuvering to remove the canopy altogether so that we were able to transport the camper home with us. It was a bummer of a way to end a good vacation, but we decided that it could have been worse. That storm was powerful enough to break a nearby tree in half, so it really could have been worse.

The drive home was much more peaceful than on the way there. We figured that Banana must have gotten the idea that she truly was trapped in that car seat, and for some reason the boys timed their potty stops much better. It was wonderfully uneventful. We did pass the World’s Largest McDonald’s on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Oklahoma, so I guess that’s something. We decided to break the trip home into two days, so we spent one night in a hotel with an indoor pool. The kids were happy to eat delivery pizza and watch cable TV in the hotel room, but they were even more excited to swim in the hotel pool until10:00 that night. Now that’s what I call vacation! Click here for more vacation pictures.

We finally made it home exactly one week after we left. Within two hours of being home Miss M and Dad had to rush off to a softball game. It’s back to reality for the Reddy Zoo. We are still staying up too late and sleeping in, but that all has to change as we start the first of many busy summer weeks next week. Our week-long Girl Scout Day Camp begins on Monday, as does two weeks of "Safety Town" for the boys. It’s going to be busy, crazy, fun!!