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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Home repair and a bit of light reading

We've had a bit of adventure this week, as one does with older homes.

(On a side note, we had gotten quite spoiled by living in a brand new condo for 7 years. This after living in a 1948 Cape Cod that we had nearly completely renovated back in DC. It feels like we are starting over like we did when we bought our first house.)

We had noticed that whenever we turned on the lights and fans in the girls' rooms and the guest room, they would stutter and flicker and nearly turn off altogether. Not wanting to play around with a potential electrical fire, we called in an electrician. Turns out we had multiple issues.

The first thing he noticed was that someone had replaced all the outlets in their rooms but had not connected the wires properly. They should have been tied off together and then screwed in but they were all jammed in separately causing them to not adequately connect. The next big issue was that the light fixture in Lucy's closet was "hot". When he touched the metal outlet with his screwdriver the whole thing shot sparks. That, too, had not been wired correctly. Lastly, and most importantly, there was arcing in the panel at the buss bar for a couple of the breakers. Two of the breakers had burn marks at the panel. Scary stuff but fortunately, after a couple of hours and a lightened wallet, all was repaired.

I feel like my list of things I'd like to renovate is endless and yet, I still have yet to fully unpack. The designer in me is having a rough go of it. I see projects everywhere, inside and outside. So, I've fallen back on what calms my worried mind: list-making. And man, is it ever long and expensive.

As luck would have it the weather has taken a 20 degree dip making swimming seem less appealing. I say lucky because Kate could not swim until 48 hours after her "surgery" so they have been playing in the yard a lot, mostly frisbee and stomp rocket.

Backyard fun from Lisa on Vimeo.


My turn! from Lisa on Vimeo.

Lucy had her first piano lesson yesterday and loved it. She practices every day and is quite motivated to learn new songs.

Meanwhile, Bella has discovered the deer and is quite fascinated. She spends most of her days camped out in various windows watching the chipmunks, birds and deer that visit our yard.
Today we went to the local library and the girls got library cards for the first time. They were thrilled. They each checked out three books. As soon as we got home Kate settled in at the breakfast table and read two chapters of a book about a fairy who just wants to go to "regular school" instead of fairy school.
Lucy and I sat down on the couch so she could read to me...not what she expected. She said she got the books so I could read to HER. Poor kid...she loves books as long as she doesn't actually have to read them herself. I think she thought that because we listen to so many audio books she wouldn't actually have to learn to read. So we had a short lesson on the words "illiterate" and "unemployment" before sitting down to an agonizing 8 pages of "Fly Guy meets Fly Girl". We might finish the book by the end of this week.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Lazy days of summer?

Whoever coined that phrase had neither kids nor unpacking to do. So no, I'm still not unpacked. Most of the main and upper levels are squared away but go into the basement and you will see that I have avoided quite a bit in favor of savoring summer in our new surroundings. There's always winter when the kids are in school to unpack, right?

To be fair, I have hired one of the lifeguards to be a mommy's helper 2x/week for a couple of hours so I can tackle some of the home organizing. She's great and the girls have a fun time with her. She's grown up here and knows all the paths through the woods so she's been out exploring with them. And she let them climb up into the lifeguard chair before hours and then gave them a swim lesson.
We explored one of the local libraries as they had a lunch/show on the lawn last week.

Spoonman from Lisa on Vimeo.

The neighborhood hosted a movie night complete with make-your-own-headband (appropriate since the movie was "Karate Kid") and popcorn. We got there a bit early and the girls played ball on the field.





This past weekend I found a local carnival so we spent a few hours after supper being fleeced by our kids and carny workers.






 Yes, the orange thing is a giant stuffed pile of poop. Fortunately, the girls thought it was a pumpkin...
This, of course, begged me to publish #shithead on instagram...where Len is not a registered user...


Kate's former flute teacher, Steve, recommended a colleague of his who lives locally to continue with Kate's lessons. We met her on Sunday morning.

And because no summer is complete in our house without some sort of medical intervention (difficulty breathingbroken arm, cleft surgeries one and two), we spent this afternoon having this little gem removed from Kate's chest.
It's called a pyogenic granuloma and it appeared a bit before Memorial Day as a small red bump and just kept growing and growing. Then it popped and bled like crazy while Len was with them at the hotel with no bandaids or medical supplies of any kind (because that's when bleeding emergencies happen). We thought it might shrink after it bled but no, the bleeding just seemed to reinvigorate it and it grew some more.

Then we had graduation and moving and living far from all of our doctors and the Chicago Children's hospital so I spent a fair amount of time just finding a dermatologist who would take a new child patient. After another 2 weeks (and several more massive bleedouts), our appointment time finally arrived today.

At lunchtime.

So I packed sandwiches and cucumbers and pretzels and water and we ate in the examination room.
Her upbeat attitude changed once the dermatologist explained what was going to happen. (needles and sharp scissors and finally a burning instrument to cauterize the vessels...).
(Part of the problem of having a vocabulary and speaking manner like Kate's is that adults tend to think of her as capable of handling more information than is really necessary.)

But first would be numbing cream that has to sit for 30 minutes. Lucy to the rescue--she hopped up on the table to share her Nook with Kate to distract her. 30 minutes is a LONG.DAMN.TIME. to sit in an exam room with no toys or books. Thank goodness I thought to bring her Nook which was ostensibly just to keep Lucy busy so I could focus my attention and energy on Kate.
When the 30 minutes were up, an army of 3 arrived to cut the blasted blister off. After many tears and lots of blood and the smell of my daughter's burning flesh, the little ball of blood was put into a jar to be sent for a biopsy just to be certain it is not cancerous. Kate was bandaged up and given a rather grand toy.
Which really looks like a lot of work for Mama since it's designed for ages 8+ and has 3 pages of instructions in super tiny print....

Fortunately, my Mama's Helper is coming tomorrow morning and since Kate can't swim or bathe for 48 hours, this looks like a great way for them to spend their time!

Coming up in future posts:

Lucy has her first piano lesson with her new teacher who also happens to live right next door.

Fourth of July festivities which, I've heard, are legendary in our community.

Another weekend of visitors.

Painting projects in the foyer and the girls' rooms.

Hopefully a few photos of us sailing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Good news from periodontist and summer fun continues

Before we get to the dental report, let's do the fun stuff. Sara and fam are here from Sweden and came for the first of two visits. Christy and her two girls were able to join us and even though the day was a bit cloudy, the rain and storms went to the south and we had several lovely hours of beach time before heading in for supper and baths.

Lina, Lucy D and my two girls were thick as thieves and had a blast in the water and out.

Best friends from Lisa on Vimeo.

They joined in with a group of boys for a game of hot potato.

Two of the girls' favorite lifeguards horsed around with them in the water for a bit (not to worry--there were three other guards on duty).
Feeding time.
Together again--and great minds must think alike because Lina and Lucy D. showed up in matching suits.
Nice to visit in real time instead of over a video feed.
The two littles enjoyed the swings.
Len and Gustav kicking back.
Joy is an appropriate name for this little cutie.
 Leo was not fond of the sand or the water...but he made the best of it on a mat.
Yesterday we drove into the city for Lucy's periodontist appointment. At her last checkup, her xrays revealed that she could potentially have localized juvenile periodontitus. Fortunately, after another set of more exacting xrays were taken and viewed by the periodontist, it was determined that she does not have it. Huge sigh of relief! I mean, I don't know anyone who takes more time with teeth cleaning children--first she brushes with an electric toothbrush, then I follow behind her and do it again, then we floss and finally rinse with fluoride. Her teeth should be super clean!

With that taken care of, the girls wanted to go back to our old condo to see it so we parked and rang the buzzer to visit with Shelly, our previous downstairs neighbor, for a bit. Then we headed down the street to see Ms. Lucy and Brandon who we never got to say goodbye to. Brandon and the girls used to play together after school while I chatted with his mother in her vegetable garden.
Lucy is from China and is still learning English so we tried to communicate in broken English (on her part) and very broken Chinese (on my part), but we muddled through and had a great visit with Kate and Lucy chatting in Chinese to Lucy's visiting sister-in-law. With a bit of help from four of us speaking and reading in Chinese and English, Lucy and I connected up on FB so we'll be able to keep in touch a bit more regularly.
We headed home after meeting Len for dinner at our favorite pho place. Funnily enough, while we were eating supper, a man walked in and introduced himself--he and his wife had bought our condo! Since we did not attend our condo close, we never got the chance to meet them. Turns out he googled us (for which is was profusely embarrassed at admitting) so he recognized us as he was walking past and came in to say hi. We admitted that we had in turn googled them as well so we had a good laugh and chatted for a bit before he walked home.

Worlds colliding yet again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Relieved and happy

When we first started talking about moving from the city I was so not on board. I wasn't even on board for the entire time (nearly a year) that I spent looking at houses. I really loved Chicago and because it was the city where my babies were born (so no, Lucy was not technically born in Chicago but she was my "newborn" there), I was having trouble giving up the house where they played, where I nursed them when they were sick, where we walked endlessly around the neighborhood. I hated the idea of moving to a cookie-cutter suburb where you have to drive to everything (which, ironically, I was already doing in the city because public transportation was not convenient to their school or nearly any of their after-school activities).

So it was still with some fear and trepidation that we moved a little over a week ago. But I'm now settling into the idea that we have not moved to the suburbs. We have moved to a lake community in the woods. There are no shops or sidewalks, no restaurants, no traffic or public transportation. There are woods and deer and coyotes and pitch black silent nights with lots of stars. There is sailing and kayaking and tennis and swimming and soccer and volleyball and storytimes and movies under the stars.
The girls are thriving and making friends, as am I. I found a mother's helper in one of the lifeguards. She (and her family) are longtime lake residents. She came over today for a couple of hours so I could work on unpacking us. Then we headed over to the lake after lunch for swim lessons and ended up staying until suppertime. The girls made friends with 2 girls who will be in their first grade CI class in the fall and they played the lake for a couple of hours. I met another of our neighbors as she was out for a walk and it turns out she is a music teacher and she agreed to give Lucy piano lessons.

So life is turning out much better than I had imagined. Len's commute is pretty uncomplicated and even enjoyable. He leaves the house much earlier than he used to but he also comes home on an earlier train so he's still here for supper. The express train takes about 45 minutes so he can work or read or daydream--all without dealing with traffic. Even the drive to/from the train station is on back roads with little/no traffic.

I just feel like we've. all. slowed. way. down. And it is good.
Summertime! from Lisa on Vimeo.
This was just a panoramic video of the lake and the islands and the lagoon. I love that you can see people kayaking, sailing and even a girl working on homework (summer school maybe?) at the picnic table.

Today was a spectacular day to be here.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A sailing we will go!

Yesterday we towed our "new" catamaran down to the lake. I say new but it's really only new to us. The previous owners of our house had it for years and today, their daughter Izzy and her fiance Connor agreed to help us get it to the lake and into the water. Izzy grew up sailing this with her brother so she led us through the entire process of getting it setup, sailing it for a bit and then how to properly store it at the lake. I took many video and pics of the process and will share a few here.

After towing it and then bunking it onto the storage rails, Izzy set to work showing us how to attach the sail to the boat.
Once attached and raised, then it was all about how to secure it and get the other parts attached.
Like cupholders! Hah!
All ready to launch!
 Although it took a bit of manuevering to get out of the shallows as this video shows, they were soon out in the middle of the lake.

Maiden voyage from Lisa on Vimeo.

Back on dry land, we rolled up the sail, unhooked the rope, etc. and put it back on the rails for storage.
We found some lifejackets (buy one, get one!) for the girls at a local store so we're hoping to take it out later this morning with all four of us. Here's hoping we don't flip over!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Fairytale Neighborhood

That is what one of my friends has called this land that we have moved to after seeing our posts on FB: Fairytale Neighborhood. And it truly does feel that way at times. Yesterday was storytime at Rest Island where a retired teacher volunteers her time and resources to do crafts and read stories. The theme was mermaids and pirates although I think there was only one mermaid in the crowd--the pirates won by a long shot. Kate and Lucy jumped right in and made a pirate's eye patch and then found a spot on the grass to listen to the books.

When she got to the end of the 4th book, we heard a commotion behind us and there were two pirates creeping out of the bushes towards the kids, brandishing super soakers. The kids all grabbed their water guns, filled them from the lagoon, and chased after them. The pirates then hopped on a boat where the third pirate was waiting to rescue them.

There was lots of water fighting.
Someone announced that they had left their map to the buried treasure behind. Kate jumped right in, studied the map for a couple of seconds and announced that it was hidden under the swings on Play Island. Then she took off running.
Over the suspension bridge where the pirates were waiting to soak anyone who dared cross.

The buried treasure was rapidly uncovered from the sand: gold bead necklaces, rings and doubloons.

Snack bags in the form of Pirate Booty was also passed out by another mom. These people know how to do a storytime I must say! Snacks consumed and water guns refilled, the girls joined the fray in the water to cool off and then ambled over to the lagoon side to watch some kids fishing with leftover pirate booty.

It really is as idyllic as it sounds--I feel like I'm going to look at the calendar and realize that vacation is almost over and we need to pack up and head home.

Speaking of packing up, we are still in a state of disarray around here. Last night I finally tackled the pantry situation. I've gone from a giant walk-in pantry to a broom closet. It's so not pretty. Len tackled getting the desk organized since we have some upcoming bills to pay and our paperwork was stacked in piles all over it.

It's really hard to just hunker down and do the dirty work of organizing your home when the lake beckons every day. With summer so fleeting here I am loathe to spend more time inside than I absolutely have to.

One thing I do need to do this weekend though is spray our plants with deer repellent. There are two mama deer and their fawns that hang out in our yard every day as well as quite a few others that roam through and stop for leafy snacks.
With the daylillies about to bloom, I need to make them not so tasty. Fortunately, the previous owners left us some Bobbex in the garage that usually does the trick.

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