Last year was the end of the road for our Tree. He was with us for 14 beautiful years.
I am notoriously picky about Christmas trees, so this year we ended up borrowing my dad’s tree. Same height, same width . . . but more branches. I knew this would be an interesting lighting setup this year.
And so, I now present to you The Tree, 2018:
The kids’ trees are in the dining room as usual.
Number of lights on the tree: 3,730! That beats the past record by 750! Of course, different tree, etc.
I’ve got to figure out how to do less lights. It’s getting a little ridiculous.
Times cat has eaten the tree and barfed: 0
Ornaments broken: 1
Trips taken to Lowe’s to buy more lights: 2
Amount of lights purchased: 1,600
Percentage of lights that are LED: 100%!
Cookies Carrie has made: 85
A short epitaph for the original Tree:
“There is no death in dying
There is so much life in life.
“So let this last leaf fall
Let the last bloom dry.
In my dying,
I am more than alive.” — IshrathHumairah
November 4, 2018
by Carrie Comments Off on give me a squeeze
I came up on this amazing post from December of 2008, which I had totally forgotten about. Ten years ago, Steven and I thought it best to curb our burping and farting around innocent little baby Lydia. So, ten years later, I figure I should give an update on vulgarity around the taco. As a side note, that little taco (though still little) is a whopping ten years old now. Makes her own sandwiches and everything.
We have had a nightly bedtime ritual going on for years now without many changes. First, we have Medicine and Pumpkin, when they take their nightly Zyrtec and then get to pick out a dessert from their Halloween pumpkin, which is an all-year presence in the house. Then it’s Teeth Brushing Time, when whoever is first finishing their Pumpkin runs as fast as they can to the bathroom, while the loser stands outside the bathroom, annoying their sibling and seeing how much they can get away with before getting yelled at for distracting the other.
That’s my least favorite part, by far.
Once teeth are brushed, then it’s time for Hugs and Kisses, then off to bed they go. More or less.
“Now what in the heck does this have to do with vulgarity, Carrie?” I hear you pondering.
Well, as I said, this bedtime ritual has not been changed much . . . except for one recent addition by Sam. Sam likes to hug as hard as he can. And boy I mean HUG AS HARD AS HE CAN. He wraps his arms around your waist and squeezes like a boa constrictor. One time this constriction managed to squeeze out a fart from me, and both kids hit the floor laughing.
So now, each night when Sam is coming up to give me his Hug of Death, he asks me, “Fart?” Then he comes up to hug me, whispering under his breath the whole time, “pleasefartpleasefartpleasefart!”
He has about a 30% success rate.
September 26, 2018
by Carrie Comments Off on a ten year old bullet
Since then we have had many successful vacations with the only running curse being of the Celebrity Death variety. Sorry, Carrie Fisher.
So, when Steven and I decided to take a little mini vacation this past weekend, it was just that: a little mini vacation. Easy to organize; easy to implement, and by Saturday we were back in town and fetching the kids — success!
On Sunday morning Steven was washing some dishes, then he came into the bathroom and began running the shower. He answered my inquisitive look with, “The water is warm, but not hot . . . I wonder if it just needs time to get back up through the pipes.”
“Is the pilot light lit?” I asked. Our hot water heater is gas-powered, and it’s always made me a bit anxious, knowing there is a little gas flame both in the basement (water heater) and the attic (regular ol’ air heater).
A quick excursion downstairs showed the pilot light was indeed not lit, nor could Steven get it to relight. This led him to the gas meter outside, where ever so slightly we could smell a bit of gas.
So . . . we called the Utility Company Formerly Known As Alagasco, who promptly came out, tightened the small leak, but found the gas is going to the water heater just fine. The water heater was a separate issue.
The rest of the afternoon was spent on research: why it wasn’t working (probably the whole burner assembly and thermocouple), should we replace just that and hope it fixes the problem ($200) versus an entirely new heater (~$600 and up; more with install), how much longer a 12 year old heater can last (not much longer), and self-install versus hiring a company (we’re handy, but are we natural-gas-appliance-installation handy?). By the afternoon we were in the replace-the-whole-heater camp, and we began the process of getting a new heater installed through Lowe’s. Money was paid; we are ready to go!
What a Sunday.
That evening we had a lovely dinner of pork tenderloin and roasted vegetables . . . even though the oven warmed up the house pretty good (“It’s hot in here!” Lydia exclaimed. “Go take a cold shower then,” Steven retorted). We ended the day watching an episode of The Last Kingdom downstairs.
Well, at least I was watching it. Unbeknownst to me, Steven wasn’t paying attention; he kept checking his phone.
He was checking the Nest app . . . watching the temperature in the house climb.
After the show was over Steven finally fessed up to what was going on: the house was at 83 degrees.
Ho. Lee. Shit.
After that, I’m sure I was a most unhelpful wife, roaming around the house while constantly muttering, “I am going to lose my mind,” in between some choice curse words. Steven is better under stressful situations and by 10 p.m. he had the problem diagnosed: a bad capacitor, just a $25 part and easy to fix.
It was a long hot night, but by 7:30 the next morning Steven was in Pelham buying the first capacitor he could find, and within the next hour the air conditioner was fixed!
One problem down; one to go. It was now Monday, we had air conditioning (yay!), and now we just needed to add hot water.
But then . . . my email program started acting up, so a fair portion of that day was spent on computer troubleshooting and talking with their support team. One more thing to fix — add it to the pile.
Monday came and went, but no call from the Lowe’s contractor.
Tuesday came and my email was beginning to behave, but then a weird issue came up with my iCloud account. Once again I was computer troubleshooting. I even ended up on the phone with Apple Support before I was able to resolve that issue.
But still no call from the contractors.
By lunch I was back on the phone with Lowe’s, who had REASONS . . . and so we waited.
Later on Tuesday afternoon I finally get that blessed call from the contractor, only to hear: “Yes, we can be there Friday to evaluate the water heater.” Thus began a great phone conversation between me, Steven, their scheduler, and the owner of the company. We all eventually agreed to blame Lowe’s, but we were still looking at Friday at the EARLIEST for an install.
Meanwhile, Steven and I were learning the Art of the Cold Shower. The kids were surviving on a mix of boiled and cold bath water. At times I have felt like I’ve been mixing a witches’ brew.
Wednesday morning the contractors were on schedule to come by and evaluate the install job. Around breakfast Lydia comes up to me: “Mom, something is up with my phone. I kinda changed my password then I forgot what it was, and now my thumbprint won’t work or anything.”
She then hands me her completely disabled iPhone. Add it on the pile.
By mid-morining the installers were here and having a look at the water heater. The dude says everything looks good, should be an easy install, but the next step in the process is they have to submit changes to Lowe’s, then we have to approve those changes in cost, then we can schedule the install.
At 3:30 p.m. I get the call from Lowe’s: the apparently easy install still required a 25% increase in price, and I AM DONE WITH THIS.
By 4:00 p.m. we had cancelled all of the Lowe’s horseshit and found a different installer who, though the price was still higher than Lowe’s original (and complete bull) quote, could install a new water heater on Thursday morning.
Then I was tackling Lydia’s phone, which now required a hard reset and restore. Apple’s logic is something else, man: “Type in your password wrong six times? RESET ALL THE THINGS.” At one point I was again on the phone with Apple Support because neither my nor Steven’s computer was seeing her phone at all . . . and it turned out to be a bad charger cord. That was embarrassing.
Well, that pretty much bring us up to speed. Lydia’s phone is now fixed (“You’re the bestest, most awesomest mom ever!”), and the running theory is we will have a water heater installed by lunchtime tomorrow.
The . . . End?
July 8, 2018
by Carrie Comments Off on dewey is a great organizer
Once again, this has been a year of changes for Lydia. The physical changes have not been quite so dramatic as last year, but they are visible just the same. The slow but inexorable turn towards teenagerdom has been at the forefront, especially the past three months or so. As “Mom,” I have found out:
– I am no longer funny.
– Wearing a dress is torture if one has woken up on the wrong side of the bed.
– Brothers are super annoying.
– It’s a personal affront to still need a booster seat in the car, safety be damned.
– Some days, everything sucks, nothing is exciting, why are we even doing this?
I am now hyper-aware of how I was as a teenager . . . a horrible prickly ball of moodiness. Oh god. Damn you, karma!
But most of the time we’re doing okay, and life chugs along.
Another year, another grade completed: Lydia finished up fourth grade at the end of May. Overall, school went very well. We both really got a kick out of history. This year history covered the years 1815 to the present, and that long, anticipatory lead-up to World War One was great fun. Math has also been clicking along, though I’ve found her math brain is completely different from mine (and more like Steven’s). She prefers algebra-type stuff to the more visual math like geometry.
And then there’s reading. Last year I talked about how great reading was going, but no . . . that wasn’t great. I didn’t know what great was. This year was GREAT! Tremendous, even. Last fall she fell in love with a story about Pegasus, a no-pictures, multi-chapter, 400+ pages (each!) series of books. She was plowing through these books and I was beginning to wonder what was going to happen once she finished them all — there are only six in the series — but then . . .
Cats? Clans? Wars? Growth through strife? Over 50 books in the series?
Soccer is still a big part of Lydia’s life, and it’s about to become even more so. Last fall Lydia played again with the YMCA, but this past spring we switched to the Birmingham United Soccer Association, or BUSA for short. BUSA is more involved and competitive than the YMCA, and I figured she would either hate it — and that would be it for soccer — or she would LOVE it, and soccer would continue to be a Thing for years to come.
Well, I foresee a lot of soccer in our future.
At the end of September, we took our yearly beach trip. Despite the windy, cloudy weather, both Lydia and Sam were on Cloud 9 — there were shells to be found, pools to swim in, and hot chocolate to drink.
We also traveled to Tennessee to observe the solar eclipse in August. The best vacations are the kinds I can count as a school day.
One afternoon Lydia looked over at me and asked, “Mom, how old to I have to be before I can stay at the house by myself?”
Hmm. I hadn’t really thought about that. “Well, I don’t know, Baby. You’re probably old enough . . . maybe we’ll try it sometime. Just don’t burn the house down.”
And so we tried it. Sometimes Lydia stays at the house while Sam and I go to the store or a doctor’s appointment, and so far the house has stayed intact. Every time Sam and I get back I find Lydia and exclaim, “Yay, you didn’t burn the house down!” She just rolls her eyes at me. Remember, Mom is no longer funny.
Now if we can only get Sam mature enough so they can BOTH stay at home alone . . . then Steven and I can go see all the movies and eat all the sushi we want without having to cater to what they like. Our Master Plan is almost complete! Mwahahahaha!
Last year for Lydia’s ninth birthday, she got her very own bonafide cell phone. The phone came tethered to a lot of rules and stipulations. Now that we’re a year on, I am pretty pleased with how mature she has been with it all. In fact, it is rather convenient to be able to call her or send a text message when she is out and about in the neighborhood.
It is also handy when she’s stuck on a math problem but Sam and I are out on an errand. She is very well-versed in gifs and emojis now.
This series of texts is everything that is good in this world. I love this.
Lydia is still fairly outgoing and she has a wide gaggle of friends. Most of them are older than her by a few years, and they all enjoy playing Roblox together. For those of y’all that don’t know, Roblox is a game that you can play on your phone or a computer, but it’s more like a portal to a bunch of different games, all equally silly and inane . . . you know, stuff you would’ve loved when you were ten. They all Facetime together and go in these games where they can be animals, run a bakery, or go to school. Yes, school! They go to classes, sit through lectures, and have homework in this school game. For fun!
Kids these days, man.
Back when I was pregnant with Lydia oh so long ago, I would imagine what she was going to be like. I wondered if she would be willing to listen to musicals with me, and perhaps even sing along with me in the car. What would her voice sound like? Will she be a tomboy or super-girly? What will her interests be? Am I really ready for this parenting thing?
The last ten years have been quite the journey, one that I have been privileged to take. All those questions and more (so much more) have been answered, but the answers aren’t what matters. It’s the discovery.
I am eager to discover more with my little taco . . . even if she rolls her eyes at me sometimes.
June 28, 2018
by Carrie Comments Off on kitchen complaints, episode eleven
My least favorite meal of the day is breakfast, especially on weekday mornings. The kids are hungry, ornery, and prone to make messes. They can take FOREVER to eat their meal, and they love to push each other’s buttons.
If I was in charge, I would ban breakfast.
Yesterday morning was another usual weekday breakfast, and Lydia was being especially contrarian.
“The largest planet is HB100546b,” Sam informs everybody.
“No it’s not. It’s VY Scuti,” Lydia retorts.
“Biggest planet, not star,” Sam counters.
“You said ‘star,’ ” she continues.
Ugh. Time to end this. “Lydia, why are you always arguing with your brother during breakfast? Leave it be.”
“I do not always argue,” Lydia grumbles . . . and then it hits her.