Blog Archive

Friday, February 28, 2014

Rainy Friday and Last Week's Vacation

Another week has gone by. I really do feel like I trot along at a brisk pace each day just to keep my family going going going. 

Lately I've been daydreaming about having one floor of the Coast House completely finished and livable. That'll be a lovely change, in part because it means we can consider having a cleaner come a couple times a month to do deep cleaning. How amazing would it be to have some of our weekend chores done for us so our weekends can be more 'family play time' instead of 'getting ready for the upcoming week time'? With all the dusty construction and us using rooms on both floors it doesn't make sense to clean some of the rooms, let alone pay someone else to do it. 

Last week was a nice change of pace because Eddie was out of school for President's Week--something I never got as a student. All of us had President's Day off on Monday and Eddie went to daycare on Tuesday while I worked. That day we tried carpooling for the first time with a first grader named Tali. Her grandma dropped her off in the morning and I drove the kids to daycare. Eddie loved having a friend to ride with! Tali's grandma did the drive home and Eddie seemed to get a kick out of driving in a different car and in a big-kid booster seat. We still haven't moved him to a seat belted booster yet because the five-point harness seats are safer, but we keep thinking about it since it's hard for him to unbuckle himself. 

Wednesday morning Eddie and I packed up the van with bikes and clothes, dropped some things off at the office, and headed to Auntie and Uncle's in Mountain View for a vacation. We had a grand time of seeing friends and a movie, biking, playing tennis and hockey, eating at Google, watching the Olympics, sleeping late, and eating at a brewery with some of Edward and Jennifer’s friends. Less fun (but not traumatic) was doing all the ‘town’ shopping—Costco, Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, the international market, Michael’s and Jo-Ann Fabric, a Craigslist purchase…I think that’s it.

I let Eddie pick out a Redbox movie in Petaluma for the drive down 101, which we return in Mountain View when we arrive. This time he got a Barbie Christmas movie. On the way back home he picked out a Barbie twin princess movie. Our headrest DVD player broke so I just fold the middle van seat down and bungee cord my laptop to it, using a USB player. The only issue with this cheap set up is that I can’t reach back to turn the volume off when he falls asleep so I often have to listen to the annoying dialog or songs. Or I just crank up the volume on my podcasts.
On Wednesday night Edward and Jennifer put on a "cowboy dinner" for Batiste as a late birthday present. He loves all things horse and cowboy so it was perfect. We listened to authentic country music (according to Edward who actually researched it), wore cowboy garb, and ate pork/beans/cornbread. It was really fun.

Eddie was upset that he doesn't own cowboy boots so I offered to let him be a sheriff instead--and since sheriffs sometimes have to run after the 'bad guys' that his regular shoes would be best because who can run fast in cowboy boots?  (No one.) Then he was upset that he'd broken his sheriff I gathered up all the brooches from my mom's 1960s jewelry box and let him pick one to wear as an alternative. You can see in the picture that he chose the sparkling rhinestone one. We ended up bringing all of them so everyone could wear one. It was so sweet that all of us humored him by donning a fancy brooch. The options included: a few long stem roses, a turtle, a donkey from Jerusalem, and an engraved name plate.
On Friday we played tennis with Jeremy and Janine and then ate at Google for dinner as Jeremy's guests. It was yummy and fun! Edward always says he'd work at Google just for the free, delicious I know why. We got dessert after filling our dinner plates because it always runs out. All these geeky Google guys were in line to get some mascarpone berry pie, taking a long time to balance their dinner plates while trying to cut/serve a piece of pie. I noticed a single piece left in a pan next to the long line and everyone just ignored it. So I slide out of line, took the whole pie pan, and scooted another whole pie to the front of the counter. That prompted the line to split into two so folks could serve from two pies instead of just one. Aren't these Google people supposed to be good problem solvers?
Auntie, Eddie, and I biked to the movie theater to see the LEGO movie. Uncle had some major scrapes on his leg and hands so he had to drive to the movies and we met him there. That was SUCH a fun movie. I can't wait to see it again when it comes to our local theater.
To get to the theater we had to go up and over 101 on a path. Every other time we've done this, Eddie's had to walk his bike part way up the overpass because it was too steep for him.  Not this time!  We were so proud of him for biking up up up all by himself. 

We watched the USA men's hockey game against Canada so Eddie wanted to play some hockey before we left. 

Blurry Ninja Turtle family photo before we left for home.
I made sure to get us back to Gualala on Saturday night so we would have Sunday to get ready for the week. It was nice to spend time with Dave on Sunday, having not seen him since Wednesday morning. He'd taken PTO on Thursday and Friday to work on insulating/sheetrocking the garage for his workshop. It's coming along nicely!

Sunday afternoon we moved horse manure from the neighbor's dumping spot to our composting spot at the airport. I drove the big rig up there, something that is fun but difficult because the seat doesn't move close enough for me to use the pedals so I have to perch on the end of the chair. 

Dave was veeeeeeeery patient with me while I slowly and clumsily maneuvered the backhoe to load the dump truck. He took over the mixing and stacking after it was dumped. The way he operates that thing makes it look like an extension of his own body. Is there anything sexier than watching your husband expertly stack manure for you to make compost? For me it ranks only second to watching him hold a baby.
When we were in Mountain View we went to a thrift store where I scored a(nother) Donvier ice cream maker. So of course we had to make some ice cream that night.
This is rocky road, made using our leftover rainbow marshmallows. It is super yummy.
 The end of this week brought a storm from the south. We enjoy watching the weather change outside the window each morning while we get ready for the day.
I love seeing layers of clouds, each a different color.

We watched a dense rain squall move toward the house yesterday. Sadly, it went north of us...I was looking forward to a brief pounding of rain.
There is currently a gale force wind advisory in effect up here--lasting 1.5 days. So far we've experienced one power outage blip here in the office and my FIL had a water customer at his door early this morning because a branch fell on her water line and caused a major leak.

If the wind isn't too crazy tonight and there's power in Point Arena, we're planning on having a pizza and salad dinner at the pier after work. Eddie should really enjoy that. On my list for today is finding references for two statements in my second chapter/second draft, making all the verb tenses the same, sending it off for review, and doing data crunching for my third chapter.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Valentine's Date

Eddie's friend Mason hosted Eddie for a sleepover last Saturday so Dave and I could have a date night. Our first date night on the coast, actually.  We dropped him off at their house at 4:30 that afternoon and hung out for a bit. We'd not been to their house before so it was fun to get a tour of their 1900ish country rental house.

Dave and I stopped by the general store in their town to get a couple of things before our dinner reservation at Uneda Eat. Neither of us had eaten there before and we were excited to get to try it. I had a spicy carrot soup with vanilla yogurt and grapefruit to start and Dave had a salad. Then we did our usual eat-half-and-switch with a clam and crab pasta dish and a hangar steak and polenta plate. It was all really yummy.  The itty bitty restaurant was packed when we left.

We juuuuuuuust made it to next door to see Philomena at the Arena Theater. We both enjoyed the movie a lot. It's something my mom would have really enjoyed seeing with her friends.
The theater on the right and the restaurant to the left. My mom used to see movies and newsreels in that same theater when she was Eddie's age. Weird.

The theater has one of those cute little booths for the ticket sales.
After the movie we went home, greeted the pets, and then dragged a spare mattress and boxspring out to the upstairs livingroom. We built a big fire, moved the tv near the bed, and settled in to watch a movie.  Well, we chose a bad movie to watch on a romantic night: The Whistleblower. It was a good movie with great reviews but not for a date night. Anyway, we made it through the movie and went to bed at midnight. But I tossed and turned until nearly 2 am when I finally admitted defeat and went downstairs to our real bed. Ruby made me let her out to potty at 3 am and after that I finally fell asleep. All total, I got 4.5 hours of sleep. But that's what coffee is for, right?

Eddie wasn't due home until 11 am so we walked the dogs downtown to Trinks to get a scone.

When he and Mason arrived, it was clear that they were both exhausted from their big boy sleepover. Mason's parents reported that the boys stayed up until 11 pm telling each other fart/butt/poop jokes and moving from bed to futon to tent and back again. (His parents were spying on them with the video baby monitor.) Then early-bird Mason had late-sleeper Eddie up before the sun to play.

So everyone had a wonderful night!  Except maybe Mason's parents who had to endure all that sleeplessness.  We can't wait to host Mason for a sleepover so his folks can have a date night of their own!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Story of Julie and Her Cats

I got my first cat just before I entered 9th grade. While at the "back to school" outdoor quad dance at my soon-to-be high school, a kid approached my group of friends and he was holding a box of kittens.  Most were tabby cats. He was looking for homes for them.  I took one, knowing full well that my parents would NOT be pleased.  Growing up in a very messy house with a less-than-organized mother, my brother and I were always told that our family "just isn't set up for pets."  Humph.

My dad was on a business trip for the week so when I called home from a pay phone (collect, mind you) my mom answered.  I informed her that I was bringing home a kitten.  She sighed loudly and, exasperated with me, said, "Julie, why do you do things like this to me???"  And I hung up.  

Of course, she's a cat person so I knew I could get away with it--at least until my strict father came back home.  But I'd worry about that later. I remember that she had pink chewing gum residue stuck on one ear and was the size of a 6" sub sandwich.  She was our little secret because my brother was spending the night at a friend's house. That night we took the kitten home and I scooped up some garden soil and put it in a box for her to potty on.  And she peed for me right when I placed her into the soil in a squatting position.  

The next morning, I heard Edward come into the house and he came straight to my room.  I quickly tucked the kitten under my bedspread.  She wriggled around and Edward immediately asked what was under there.  When I pulled her out, he was so surprised and happy!  But I do remember him making a comment along the lines of, "ooooooooooh Daddy's gonna be SO MAD when he gets home!"

We kept that kitten hidden from my dad for a couple of days once he got home.  I have no idea how.  Once, I lost track of her in the house and my dad came home from work. I dashed around the house looking for her and found her curled up sleeping on top of a piece of posterboard that had fallen on top of the heater vent, behind the couch in the living room.  What a quiet little angel.

Eventually my mom said I had to tell my dad about "the cat."  She referred to her with a deadpan tone, worrying that we'd ALL be in big trouble.  So I put the tiny kitty in my arms, draped a towel over her, and carried her into the dining area.  I told my dad, "I have a surprise!" and took the towel off my arm.  He glared at it, and then at me.

Excitedly, I announced that we have a kitty now.

He said, "NO WE DON'T."

"Yes we do, Daddy!  Look?  Isn't she cuuuuuuuuuuuute?"


And then I proceeded to tell him that we'd had her for a whole really, we ARE NOW set up for having a cat. He, not impressed.  I begged to keep her and eventually he said we could "try it for a month" and then see how it was going and re-evaluate.  Right, re-evaluate.  That was in September of 1996.  We never looked back, and she rapidly became HIS CAT.
A guy must REALLY love his cat to pose for pictures with her like this. Am I right?
We named her Tekah Le Anne but she had oodles of nicknames, like everyone in our family.
  • Kittiest kitten
  • Baby kitty kitten angle face
  • know, her coloring and Scandinavia...
  • The Sock Nest Monster since she likes to collect and disperse balled up socks, which my dad so lovingly puts back into a pile for her every.single.night.  
  • TekahTheMeowMeow (one word) from Eddie because he first called kitties "meow meows" when he was a baby
My dad emailed this to me a couple of years ago and said it was Tekah "in her office." She likes getting up onto his work tables so she can see the quail and song birds outside.
Such a pretty kittenkitty!
Tekah loved "watching" tv with my mom in the evenings.
At nearly 18 years old, she's looking a bit scruffy and skinny but we still think she's so pretty.
Sooooooooooo I've always wanted a cat in the Bower family.  Dave was allergic but has grown out of that and most other allergies (thanks, Lyme disease).  Eddie LOVES kitties and always asked if we could have one.  So we (well, I) decided we could adopt one once we moved. Then, since my FIL didn't start construction on the house until AFTER we moved in, acquiring a kitty had to wait until there were no more holes in the walls.  

Eddie and I stopped by the local Humane Society place a few times to visit with the kitties over the summer.  There was a long haired calico one who was super vocal and friendly and didn't mind the stomping 4 year old boy I brought with me.  Her name was Nina.  One day on the walk back home from the farmers market, Dave, Eddie, and I stopped in at the Humane Society on a whim.

Nina was still there. Dave picked her up and I could tell that he fell in love hard and fast. As a "dog person" he kept acting like he was doing me a favor by letting us adopt a cat...but I could TELL he was re-evaluating his position once he met Nina. That afternoon we took home the application and agreed to call the Humane Society office with our decision later that week. Well anyway, that was the idea. But instead I made Dave give me permission to call from work the very next day to confirm our decision to adopt her. And then I went home and ordered a litter box and crate off Amazon.

The next Sunday we picked her up. She wouldn't come down from a high shelf so the staff made us wait in the front room while they convinced her to come down. We gladly paid our adoption fee plus an extra $40 to the shelter for food or other expenses.

Nina's "home base" is the laundry room upstairs. It has a door so we can lock the dogs out as needed. She's never had a potty accident or even barfed up hair balls. Whenever we are in her room she meows for attention and loves to be held and pet. I don't know how we got so lucky!

A rare picture of Nina without dog snouts around. She's rarely alone but when she knows the dogs are locked up she'll venture out to see us (usually when we stop at the house during working hours).
The first couple of days she was a bit hesitant to come to us unless the door was shut. To encourage her, we first offered her nibbles of tortilla chips. It was amusing how much she liked them! Then Dave realized that kitties love dairy--so now she's trained to "ask" for a spoonful of latte foam every morning and a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla ice cream every evening. And by "ask" I mean to meooooooooooooooooooooooooow for a whole breath (or two).

Yeah, Dave's in love and is now a certifiable dog AND cat person.
He can't go into the laundry room for any single thing without stopping to love on her. Even if it's to grab something out of the pantry to get an ingredient that needs to be added to a simmering pot right now he still has to stop for a kiss and to whisper sweet nothings to her. He's such a good people and pet dad.
Nina's nicknames so far include:
  • Nina Bina
  • Nina Bambina
  • Nina Barina
  • Kittykitty (saying this to Taters makes him RUN to see her if he isn't already right in her face)
  • Meowmeow
  • Meowmers
  • Meowington
And garsh do we LOVE HER to pieces!
Nina rubbing her face on mine...while Taters stares intently.

Me and my happy kitty snuggling one evening.

My in-law's were wary of us getting a kitty, claiming that they are highly allergic. But...they're not. And they love visiting Nina!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Last Month

Goodness, it's been a whole month since I updated the blog. I know I need to post SOMETHING when both my brother and my dad bug me about it. what have we been doing over the last month?  First, what I have I been doing over the last month instead of blogging?  When things get overwhelming, I tend to make lists. So:

1. I'm spearheading the fundraising efforts for the family's airport.  I've made calls, written letters, created a Facebook page and a website, processed the payments/donations that have been made, created membership swag, etc. Two weeks ago I was interviewed by a reporter from the Airplane Owner and Pilots Association. To prepare for that I pored over the airport deed and transcribed a recording I made of my FIL about the history of the property. And for months before that, I worked with a pilot friend to convince AOPA that our story was worth an article in one of its publications.

2. I've become the public relations person for the water company, which I love doing...most of the time. As a chatty person, I'm pretty good at calming irate customers down and explaining things to them. Last week threw me for a loop when I ended up being interviewed on a live radio program.  Dave and our office manager had both been asked repeatedly to go on the air to discuss water conservation. Of course neither of them would agree to it so that left me. I didn't mind so much, but was caught a little off guard when I phoned the woman at the local station and she asked me to come down in 10 minutes to do it.  Ack!  A little ironically, it was raining that day--the first day in a loooooooooooong time--so I walked down the street from the office and did the show. I could have been more prepared, but it went okay.

3. Last week I submitted my second (or third?  depends on how we chop/edit things) chapter to my PI and to my post doc. I dreaded the reply from the post doc--he's a highly skilled writer and top-notch ecological statistician. But his reply was much, much more positive than I feared so that made me super stoked. Now that my two working days for the week are done I will sit down to fix and reorganize it to resubmit.

4. I was stay-at-home sick for a couple of days and now I have a lingering cough. One day about two weeks ago I stayed in a half-sitting/half-laying-down position on the couch watching Land Girls on Netflix (so good!) and snoozing allllll day. Dave let me sleep in for a few days and the extra sleep seemed to speed the recovery process. For a few nights I was taking the green flavor Nyquil. I don't know who decided that was a marketable product. It is DISGUSTING. And how did we end up with a bottle in our house?  I have no idea. But it has three times the cough suppressant as our Kirkland brand cold capsules so I took it. It did require some major encouragement from Dave to swallow the stuff....and resulted in major gagging from me. what have "we" as a family been up to?  I'll have to refer to my picture archive to answer that.

We went to Livermore for a weekend in mid-January. We did a LOT that weekend and maybe I'll get around to posting about it at some point. Or maybe not. Here's a shot of my dad and Dave getting ready to install laminate wood flooring in the family room. It was quite an undertaking since none of the prep work had been done before we arrived, but Dave made sure it was all installed before we left on Sunday evening.

While in Livermore, Jennifer and I attended a charity ball for my childhood friend's little girl who is fighting brain cancer. It was a fun event and it was touching to see how many people came out to support Delaney. I got to reconnect with a few girls I grew up with that I hadn't seen in person in more than a decade.

We celebrated Christmas in January, the Levie way. And although my mom wasn't here with us this time, we upheld her non-stocking stocking tradition of office supplies, treats, and random things from the dollar store each individually wrapped and placed into shopping bags. She'd be so proud.

Eddie received a new-old bike from Uncle for Christmas!  It was my old bike and then my brother's old bike.  DO YOU SEE THE COLORED TIRES?  Edward really went nuts getting that bike decorated with a Spider Man theme.  We were all really impressed with how the bike turned out--and even more impressed with how well Eddie did transitioning from his teeny weeny bike to this bigger one. It's about twice the size but he did just fine, even zooming down the gravel hill on my dad's road the afternoon he received it. Back at home, we've spent a considerable amount of time biking around the neighborhood and the airport.

Eddie FINALLY got to have a friend over to play. Mason came over for a few hours one Saturday. The boys had a grand time playing in Eddie's new downstairs bedroom and making gun shaped bread before we took them to bike at the airport. Up to this point, Dave and I felt that that construction at the house made it too unsafe for kids to visit. It felt so nice to let Eddie have Mason over!

Sorry about the blurry photo...last Friday when the drought-quenching storm hit, we settled into the upstairs living room to watch a movie together. It was amusing to see three generations crammed onto a tiny loveseat sofa to watch a VHS copy of Aladdin. I had to hold myself back from singing the whole movie.

Last Saturday the rain REALLY came down fast and heavy. We got almost 6" that day!  All of us love playing outside, wet or not so we took Eddie to the river to check out the flows. We'd been checking the USGS river flow website constantly. Our gauge maxes out at 400 cubic feet/second so we wanted to go see it in real life at that point. In this picture Eddie and Dave are standing north of the river beach where we play in the summer.  Eddie was confused, asking where our beach was. 

Valentine's Day is coming up on Friday. Eddie is getting pretty good at writing his letters so we thought it'd be good for him to address and sign his cards for his class. All NINETEEN of them. I started out having him do 2-4 each day but he decided he wanted to power through a large number of them at a sitting and then take a few days break. It worked out pretty well and we're quite proud of him. I hope he doesn't notice that I went back and wrote the names on them in black ink...but I worry that his teachers won't be able to read his writing to help him 'deliver' them to each kid. 
Where does the time go? Our weekdays feel like treadmill program:

  • Dead stop at 5:40 am since we're still cozy in our bed.
  • Slow walk at 5:45 am when we wake up.
  • Increase to a brisk walk at 6 am when we're scrambling to make/drink coffee, get lunches ready, and start Eddie and Dave's egg-and-cereal breakfast before one of us gets Eddie up around 6:20.
  • The jog starts at 6:50 when we start urging Eddie to finish his food. Why-o-WHY does it take kids so loooooooooong to eat their food?
  • We increase to a run at 7 when one of us literally runs out the door to warm up the car and put Eddie's lunch/backpack inside.
  • At 7:10 we're back at a run getting Eddie out the door, into the car, and buckled up. If we leave the kitchen at 7:10 then we're able to get to the bus on time.
  • We get to walk (or sit!) for about 20 minutes before rushing out the door to work. This is the time I eat breakfast.
  • Then we're off to work. That's either a run or a walk, depending on the day.
  • I leave the office at 4:30 pm to drive north to get Eddie. Once I walk in the door of the daycare it's an uphill hike. Getting Eddie to leave his friends and toys is a chore in and of itself. 
  • The moment we step into the house it's a run all the way to bedtime. We get dinner on the table by 6 pm and almost every night Eddie has to take a potty break in the middle of the meal. Shower happens next around 7 pm and we try to get him into his room "for the night" by 8. I put that in quotes because he always comes back out for a kiss or to tell us "something important" like what he wants to wear the next day. 
  • Luckily one of us cleans up the kitchen while the other does Eddie's bedtime, leaving post-Eddie time for a show or work or whatever...until we clock out no later than 10 pm. 
I wish there were more time to play with Eddie at home on weekdays!  It seems that there was a lot more "free time" in Davis on weeknights. I really think it's this giant, disorganized house that is sucking the time out of our lives. 

Anyway, that's what we've been up to!