Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Operation: Laverne & Shirley

AKA: “Make all our dreams come true…” If you are a short-story kind of person, here it is: we put an offer on a house in Plymouth today and are awaiting the results. If you’d like to know the background, read on.

Doug and I have been restless for some time. At turns irritated with each other, at turns irritated with Roman, at other turns irritated with the house, the neighborhood, local construction, or the way people drive around here. But, always the underlying feeling that something wasn’t “right.” I was more verbal, of course – I’m just not content. Our pastor preached on the 10th commandment, Do Not Covet, and I got the message… but still.

So when I went on my scrapbooking retreat a few weeks ago, I had time in the car (6 hours round trip!) to reflect. When I got home Sunday night, we settled in for The Talk. What came out of it is what I like to call Operation: Laverne and Shirley. We have made short (6-8 months) and mid (2-3 years) term goals, and acknowledged long (5+ years) term goals that will make both Doug and I feel content with our family life. We both have acquiesced to sacrifices we must make, financial and geographical, to attain these goals. I could go on, paragraph after paragraph, but I won’t. Essential to the family happiness, however, is a roomier house and a second child from Russia.

Funny enough, while infinitely more expensive, a roomier house is easier to obtain than a child from Russia - so that’s where we decided to start. We settled on Plymouth for a variety of reasons as well, and actually well-thought-out reasons. Doug and I just don’t mess around – once something is verbalized, we do tend to move on it (see: engagement, first house, camper, cars). In typical “let’s just look at what our money gets us” fashion, we found a house to bid on within two weeks. We’ve “cased” a couple different neighborhoods and this house is a DEAL.

The details: colonial, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, attached 2 car garage, basement partially finished (it does have old paneling, berber carpet, and an old drop ceiling in half of it). Built in 1972 and many parts look it (basement, master bathroom). Living & family room on 1st floor, kitchen opens to family room. Two doorwalls to backyard (dining and family room). Larger lot, deck and patio in backyard, in neighborhood with evidence of many children (sandboxes, swing sets, Cozy Coupes to be seen just from the driveway). Two miles from my work, equally distant compared to current drive for Doug’s work.

The people who previously owned it bought it 2 years ago and then were transferred this past August; the company bought out their mortgage and is selling it. So that’s why we’ll be waiting awhile (we figure) & are expecting a counter-offer; we’re dealing with accountants & their bosses, not another couple. There have been no other offers on it and the price has been dropped once already.

So fingers crossed…. and of course our own house isn’t on the market yet. That would be planning ahead, something Doug and I don’t do very well. And if this one doesn’t work out, I do have 4 other houses earmarked to take a look at, but after imagining ourselves in a colonial it will be hard to go smaller. And meanwhile, Roman is begging for the Christmas decorations to be put up but I don’t want to decorate too much if I have to get the house “prepped” to sell in the next couple weeks. So the tree and an advent calendar will go up for now...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Without a little boy around...

Oh, the things you can do. For example: Sleep in until 9:30am. Eat a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper. Go to the bathroom as long as you want. Take a shower... or not. Go to Home Depot and wander around, even though you're there to pick up a handful of moving boxes. Eat a hot dog for lunch at Home Depot - just because. Hold numerous conversations without interruption.

In the afternoon, it just gets better. If you're me, you can "declutter" the house. Clean out the hutch... its drawers & cabinets... four shelves in the living room... the burgundy room... and a couple shelves in the kitchen. Oh, and did I mention three whole closets?! Pack some items away to see if you'll miss them. Move some items so they're not in the way anymore. Rearrange your child's bedroom (because he never lets me when he's here). And move 6 boxes of "stuff," plus a small chair & a large wastebasket, to the door to be taken to the storage unit tomorrow. Oh, and go through all your child's books and donate to the Vets, who are scheduled to come on Tuesday morning to gather the rest of the "stuff."

If you're Doug, you'll do the following: consider raking leaves, then realize you've already been to Home Depot and didn't get yard waste bags because you thought you had some. So the only other thing to do on a long afternoon is to finally finish putting the paneling up in the basement. You box in the corner by the washer... put up part of the stairway pieces... and cut the last of the stairway pieces. Also, put the half-wall "cap" on your wife's side of the desk area. Decide to quit when it's too dark in the basement to cut the power and finish the stairway piece.

Of course, we miss the boy. But it sure feels good to have all this organization done!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Thanksgiving Story, by Roman

There were Pilgrims. They were on a boat called the Mayflower. I made a Mayflower at school, can we play with it in the water?
The Pilgrims landed at downtown Plymouth Rock. The Indians grew corn. The Pilgrims had a big feast with turkeys. The Indians ate with them. That is why we have a big family dinner.
I am going to have pizza for Thanksgiving, not turkey. It would be pretend turkey.

A blessed day off

Today is considered "comp time" for the 6-1/2 hours of conferences teachers held, so I get the day off. A good thing, too, because my throat is really sore. Can't decide if it's drainage, or dry weather, or something else. I just got off antibiotics less than a week ago, so this should be fun. I am trying "Airborne" which everyone at work swears by. Take it when you begin to have symptoms and it's either going to prevent your illness from getting worse, or cut your sick time in half. We'll see how it goes.

Another blessing about having today off is that I can do shopping. I have a list of 5 places to go today to shop for Christmas - mainly Roman, but a couple other people can be "knocked off" the list too. I do enjoy shopping, and it's pretty exciting to have the money to do it. School district paid early this week!

Roman is at preschool today. He is on, what we call in our middle school, a "504 plan." This is typically a behavior intervention plan to get a kid back on the right track. Yes, our Roman. Adorable, kind, and funny Roman has become a hellion. Yesterday, by far his worst day yet, he (I quote from the report) "couldn't keep his hands off his friends" "would not follow directions from his teachers" and best of all, the verbal report I got saying that during quiet time, he refused to stay on his cot and at one point, pulled chairs off the table and flipped them over. YES! I know, it's funny to picture, but it's my kid!

His teacher apparently feels very badly about this, and Doug and I are encouraging her to buckle down. Send him to "the office," separate him from the room, either is fine. She apparently wants to use that as a last resort, but meanwhile Roman's becoming a jerk. Perhaps a few days off will help. As for the 504 plan, kids earn stickers on their chart by doing well each day; at the end of a week or so, they can pick a treasure from the box if they filled their chart. I don't think Roman has earned a sticker yet. So now he's on a "5 stickers a day" program, where he can earn a sticker for different portions of the morning. If he fills his 5 portions with stickers for 2 days, he can pick a treasure. He earned 3 stickers on Monday, and only 2 yesterday. Yes, it's that bad.

Not sure what to do from this side of things, except encourage them to crack down on him since nothing has worked yet. Hope he has a good day today!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More Romanisms; I step WAY out of my comfort zone

Driving in the car:
Roman, what are you thinking about?
"Going to the Island of Sodor. We will take a Thomas plane there."
Honey, I don't know how to get to the Island of Sodor.
"I know how to get to the Island of Sodor. (long pause) It's past Disney World... over the market... and then you're there!"

"Thanksgiving is when the Indians stole corn."
Stole? Do you mean the Indians grow corn?
"Umm... yeah. And the Pilgrims had a big dinner and ate with the Indians. That's why we have a family dinner."

Roman is just so smart - and so funny! He's got an incredible play imagination now. Tonight we played "Red Bell" (where we traded the roles of Roman, Miss Marcie, and Mama), and we also played "take a bath" where Roman gave me a bath. Of course when it came to the real bath, Roman cried the whole time. I think just because he's exhausted.

Speaking of exhausted... Scooter Club at church has been suspended until further notice. Our church is having a hard time recruiting young families, although I know that's the problem all over. My city itself is having a hard time attracting families with young children - the empty nesters just don't want to leave! There were only 3 kids in the age group of 3-5 coming to Scooter; one dropped out, and the other keeps coming up with excuses (vacation, conferences, sick...). So Wendy and I decided to suspend until the spring, and maybe we'll have a little more interest.

Within the same conversation, however, I filled a vacancy, becoming the sixth member of the Board of Christian Education. Yup, you read that right. Parents and in-laws, are you grinning with glee? Who'd've thunk that it would be Amy that volunteers to join - above all things - a church group?! Good gracious. Well, that tells you the extent of my growing attachment to our church. I thought to myself a few weeks ago, when it was mentioned that nominations were up for boards, that the Board of Ed. would probably be the one group I'd be willing to join. Doug went to the annual meeting last Sunday while I was scrapping and jokingly told me that there was one seat left on the Board. And I thought... well... maybe my prior thought wasn't put in my head for nothing. My "term" doesn't start until January but I think it's a 2-year term. Hmm.

So there's interesting information to chew on. And I'm not having anxiety about my decision, so that's a good thing too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Many phrases of Roman

One day's documentation:
"That's not fair!"
"I am not your friend anymore."
"Tomorrow, I will stick my tongue out at you."
"You cannot do anything with me. Only Mama."
"Mama, you have to go to your room."
"You have made bad choices."
"Daddy, you're not cool." To which Daddy replied, "I know Roman, that's been the story of my life." I couldn't stop laughing!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Thomas the Tank Engine" nirvana

On our way to school every morning, there is a lawnmower repair shop that has a big sign stating "Thomas 20% off." I've often been curious about his selection - honestly, what kind of train selection could a lawnmower repair shop have? - but I've never stopped in. Until today.

Roman saw that grinning, cheery Thomas face on a window sign and began pleading to stop there this morning. I decided to go in on our way home. As we approached the door of the one-room shop I could see the telltale blue box that shouted "Thomas!" As Roman and I crossed the threshold we entered it... Thomas Nirvana.

This man, this lawnmower repair guy, has the largest selection of Thomas items I have ever seen. More than Toys R Us! He had every engine I could think of, including cars & coaches. He has "destinations" I've never seen in stores - Down by the Docks, the Chocolate Factory, even the Ice Cream Factory! The hospital! The fire station! The new Timber Yard! He had every bridge! Every tunnel & mountain combination! Even the new Rheneas and the Roller Coaster set! WOW!

And his sign didn't lie. Everything 20% off. Everyday. He even had a train table set up that Roman could play with. Turns out, the man also sells Lionel trains and has gotten into the Thomas business for the last 4 years or so. I told him he definitely had my business for Christmas. We stayed about a half hour, half-gaping, half-playing. When we prepared to leave and I thanked the man for his conversation and information, the surprises continued. He gave Roman a little lunch sack. Inside was a Thomas "Yearbook" (magazine that has all available Thomas merchandise), a picture of a train to color, a cardboard Thomas engineer's hat, a Thomas wooden train whistle, 2 suckers, and 2 Tootsie Rolls. What a guy! If he hadn't already had my business, he sealed it with that gesture.