Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dogs and Boats, What More Could you Want?

So, who do you think is having more fun in this picture?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Still Writing

I thought you might enjoy a small update. As of Friday, I have finished a rough draft of chapter eight and am closing in on completing chapter one. If all goes well, by this time next week, I'll be polishing off the epilogue and only have the short prologue to write. Locking yourself in a room with a computer for seven or eight hours a day can do wonders for productivity, but not for general socializing.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Talking about Age

Last weekend, Joy's mother graciously agreed to keep both boys by herself. Overnight. While we were away! She has the patience of a saint, because I don't believe I would want to be on my own with both boys overnight, especially as I don't have a breast to give Noah when he screams out upon waking in the middle of the night.

But I digress. Joy and I were going to stay a short ways away and celebrate our 10th anniversary a little late. We drove over, parked, and walked up to the desk to check in. The lady at the reception desk began looking for our reservation and then looked up and us and asked if she needed to ask us how old we are. I replied that we were certainly old enough to stay there together, and she laughed about how we looked like a couple of high school seniors sneaking away from our parents. Joy responded that no, in fact we were getting away for an evening from our two children. A bit chagrined, the lady called over a fellow worker and said, "Come look at these two. Don't they look like they are in high school?" "Oh yes, replied her friend," and the conversation kept on going. If you've seen Away We Go, it was much like the scene where the airline worker won't believe the female lead is only six months pregnant and keeps calling over people to look at her belly and back up her judgment.

It was sort of flattering at first, though I really don't want to be back in high school, but the extent of the discussion bordered on the absurd. So it has had me thinking all week long about where the line about talking about someone else's age should be drawn. Certainly way before where our conversation finally ended.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Writing Away the Summer

You may be wondering at the scarcity of posts around these parts of late. Let me assure you that it isn't from a lack of writing on my part. This time next year ye ole tenure portfolio is due and so I've dedicated the month of July to finishing my book so I can shop it around this fall. The tally so far? The book has eight chapters, a prologue, and an epilogue. I finished chapter four last Friday, which gives me chapters two through seven fully written (and revised in some cases). I'm currently plugging away at chapter eight and have roughly a third of it finished, chapter one exists but in very rough form, and I have notes jotted in files for the prologue and epilogue.

The plan is to have everything but the prologue finished by the time the month ends and finish up next month so I have a good bit of time on revisions. We'll see how it goes. Until then, back to listening to my children enjoy the warm summer days while I hunch over the computer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Keeping Up with Sam

Life with an almost-four-year-old is constant entertainment. Or a constant near-death experience. Take your pick. For example, today we've stopped Sam after he was out the front door twice, taken a kitchen knife away from him as he was prancing around the room with it in his hand, and coaxed him off his headboard as he balanced on tiptoes on it to see out the window.

No wonder we collapse in bed every night.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Perils of a Reading Child

On Monday, we went out to eat for dinner at a restaurant where I had to pay at the counter as we were leaving instead of at our table. Joy took Noah and our leftovers out to the car and left me with the more-than-slightly overstimulated Sam. Since I couldn't keep him from running all over the place, I picked him up and plopped him on the counter as I wrote out my check. Right next to the cash register was one of those dishes with the inscription "Need a Penny, Take a Penny; Have a Penny, Give a Penny." Sam looked at it, puzzled over it for a few moments, and then said

"Take a Penny! Can I have a penny?"

The woman working the register smiled and indulgently replied "Of course you can, hon."

Sam grabbed a penny and proudly carried it around the rest of the evening. I knew he had mastered the art of selective hearing, but as he begins to read, he's mastering the art of selective reading as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Speaking Words of Wisdom

Yesterday we were driving in the car when Sam ruminates from the back seat:

"Dad, I wish you would learn stuff, instead of making it all up."

I'm not sure what inspired the outburst except perhaps when he asked me why a tractor was on a forklift I told him that it was to keep the tractor from running away. Or perhaps it was one of the many other answers I give him daily to his onslaught of "why" questions. I admit that I make stuff up all the time, but Joy always ruins the game by telling Sam that I'm making stuff up, undercutting my excellent Calvin's Dad style of parenting. But that's ok, as long as my students don't get wise to my style. Sam was going to stop believing me when he turned 13 anyway.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slow Transformation Part V: Replacing the Floor

After all our painting and wiring (and new window treatments - roman shades instead of the blinds) we were ready to put down new flooring, the change that brought about the entire project. For those of you who don't remember, this is what the floor looked like, in all its carpeted glory without any furniture to mar your view: Even though I have Scottish blood, this plaid isn't in my family and so needed to leave the family room. We rolled it up fairly easily, uncovered the old-elementary-school tiles underneath (that evidently went with the old-elementary-school green the walls were painted), and cleaned the floor (this is what the floor looked like in the bathroom - we've had enough flooding in there that the tiles were fairly clean):Since we selected an Armstrong laminate to put down, we elected to use the Armstrong underlayment as well. It's a moisture, sound, and temperature barrier all rolled into one shiny black roll taped together to cover the floor. But since it is rolled, it is hard to keep down, even once you tape it. In the picture, you can see the little waves that were still on the floor despite my best efforts:So here's my great secret of laying laminate flooring in case you ever try it. The process is fairly easy - the floor snaps together well, but you will need two people, one to hold the flooring in and another to tap or pull with a wonder bar or the pull tool available at Home Depot and the like so the pieces fit fully together (which is why I'm forever grateful my father came to help out with not only the wiring, but the flooring as well!). But they won't go together unless the underlayment is absolutely flat. So pull it tight underneath the floor you are putting down for each section. If you're like us, you'll end up with extra underlayment at the far wall you have to cut off, but the floor will go down much more smoothly.

After about a day's worth of work, cutting the pieces to fit around the four doors in the room and the staircase, we finished. Not a bad amount of time that transformed the room this radically: