Monday, June 27, 2005

A Connecticut Yankee with the South in her Soul

Kate has a new favorite song...."Dixie". As in "In Dixieland where I was born, early on one frosty morn, look away, look away, look away Dixieland. I wish I were in Dixie....". It is on one of her kid songs CDs and she is obsessed with it. There are some "hoorays" and "aways" in the song, but she says them all as a loud and enthusiastic "HOO-RAY!" while throwing her arms in the air. She sings it in the car, she sings it in the family room. She sings it in the tub. All punctuated by arm raising "Hoo Rays"! And the occassional skipping and twirling. It is TOO FUNNY! She loves it so much that on a long car ride home the other day, it was playing in the CD player and as an absolutely exhausted Kate was falling asleep, she struggled to keep her eyes open as her head nodded down....but her arms kept limply half raising in the air as she muttered "hoo ray, hoo ray" as she fell asleep. I WISH I had a video camera for that one!

She sure loves that tune. And her Virginia-born Mother knows that her Texas-born Dad, along with all of our dear Southern family, all get a kick out of Connecticut-born Kate just a-wishin' she was in Dixie....HOO RAY!

Another weekend, another "war"....against the house that is!

Well, at least we seem to be winning the war! (Knock on wood, which is plenty given all the hammering).

Carpenter extraordinaire, Nick, spent another weekend working on the house. It is really shaping up and the light at the end of the tunnel is widening from a pinhole to a small beam. Nick primed, sanded and painted all of the trim work for the baseboards upstairs, including using some great transition moulding pieces. He is using a mitre saw to cut it and has been using his handy nail gun to install. He has a good portion of it done, but it is more painstaking than one might think! Nevertheless, it looks terrific. It really frames out the room and makes such a difference in giving it a fresh and finished look. Nick also painted, cut and installed brand new trim "picture frame" moulding around one of the bedroom doors and hung the newly painted door with satin nickel hardware. It looks great and I cannot wait for all the other doors to be white to match. It looks perfect. Nick insisted on new trim around the doors - he thought the old stuff that was there looked dated. And it did. It was not original to the house, but instead was really cheap, grooved wood that did look pretty junky. He was right - it makes a world of difference with the new trim.

Nick also gave more examples of one of his traits that I envy most - his patience. This is shown exponentially through "The French Door Project". Kate has a set of French doors into her room off of the room that Nick is remodeling. We love the idea and look of french doors. The problem is, these were in miserable shape. The poor sap who installed them before we bought the house really did an awful job. They never took all the plastic off of the panes and there are hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic stuck to the framing and panes. The doorknob hardware was installed incorrectly, making it crooked, and all of it is unpainted wood. Nick used his time while trim was drying to meticulously cut all of the little teeny tiny plastic pieces off of the doors. We are talking something like 30+ panes of glass on EACH door. Then he individually taped off each pane of glass on each side to prep for painting so he would not paint on the of the doors is under way for painting, but it will take a bit more time to get that tough job done. But what a difference already!!!!!

I could never thank Nick enough for how hard he working on this house. My main concern is that he is doing it because he enjoys it - and he assures me he does. With my RA, I cannot be as much help as we thought I would be when we bought the place. To be honest, had we known then what we know now about my physical limitations, we probably would not have bought a "fixer upper".....we would instead be living in a perfectly nice split level in the burbs in our price range instead of in a house in need of TLC (which is how it fell to our price range) in this neighborhood.....But Nick is making it all happen and I would love for anyone reading this to take a minute to tell him how terrific he is! :)

Anyway....that was the weekend as far as the house goes! Kate did not have a chance to venture into the terrifying and torturous land of swimming lessons this weekend. Her dreams came true and the pool broke, so classes were cancelled for this past weekend! :) We had a great time all the same. My Mom is in town at her condo and we had a great time with "nana", or as Kate calls her "Nia". We spent a good part of the weekend getting Nana's condo more put together (which, for those of you who know my mother, seems like an impossible task since her home is notoriously about as put together as they come). :) tee hee :) Also, Erin, Nick and Jack are visiting and we went to the Mall of America yesterday to their AMAZING aquarium (I was skeptical about it, but if you are ever here, you should go! It is beautiful! I know the words "mall" and "beautiful" do not generally go together, but trust me. And let me clarify - the aqauraium experience is beautiful. The Mall, while great, is not so beautiful). Kate loved the "Wish" as she calls Fish.

Well, it is late and I should be going. Looking forward to a week with my Mom, Dad, sister and brother et al (Dad arrives tomorrow). My main challenge this week is to get Nick to take a break and enjoy some free time that he so richly deserves! The paint and wood and nails will wait....he deserves a cold one and some golf, I think! I know those are his Saturday plans! Yaaaaay for him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS - I have some terrific pics to post soon....Hint: Kate in a TuTu! It is so darn cute!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.....and kids say the darndest things!

My friend Sif has a blog of her own where she documents funny stories about her toddler, Anna. I don’t think she will mind if I copy off of some of her creativity in documenting some of Anna’s antics by describing some of Kate’s. Reading about Anna’s activities made me smile and think of all the amazing and funny (and similar!) things that Kate is doing these days.

Kate has turned into a little girl. She is no longer a baby! At 20 months old, she is so agile and determined and funny! She will burst into song at any given moment and astounds Nick and I with her terrific pitch and her melody accuracy for someone so tiny! I don’t think it is that she is a baby genius (though admittedly sometimes I DO think that), but that I am constantly in awe of what such teeny people are capable of! Listening to Kate sing her ABCs or Old MacDonald unprompted by me makes my own heart sing. Today she came up to me in the kitchen and pulled me into the living room saying, “Mommy, Asha Asha!” and I had NO clue what she was trying to tell me. Then she grabbed my hands and started turning in a circle singing “ring around the rosie” until we “all fell down”. I could hardly stop laughing – I don’t even know where she learned that! I have not played that game with her.

Kate’s vocabulary is so fun listen to as it expands literally on a daily basis….she says so much I could never write it all down but some of the words that we get a kick out of are:

Mik: milk

Peeeeeeeeas: Please. Almost always dragged out like that.

Opakus: Octopus

Show: what she says when she wants to play on the karaoke machine at my Mom and Dad’s condo. She loves to sing in the microphone and when she is done she sings into the mic “aaaallll doooonnne shoooowwwww”

Mongy: what she calls her good friend, Maggie Dunn

Pahtik: what she calls Uncle Patrick

Nia: What she calls my mom, her Nana

Shaya Baya: means “share bear” which is what she calls all Care Bears. Also the title of a song she loves to have me sing to her.

Ohs Daddy? : means “Where’s Daddy?”

Abre: as in “open” in Spanish, and she uses it to mean Open! Deeya: quesadilla, her fave food

Reyeee, seh, GO!: ready set go

Bot: bed

I Cwy: she announces this to you when she is crying

Hewwo: hello!

Elbow: Elmo from sesame street

Doora: Dora the Explorer

Wish: fish

Pupeeeeeeeeee: puppy

Swirl: squirrel

Hot: Hat

Sowwy: sorry

Kickle: tickle

Tee daaaah: Her flourishing announcement of “Tah dah” when she accomplishes something she is proud of or when she is appreciative of something. This could be upon balancing a block on her head or when the church choir is done singing and she stands up in the pew and yells her applause in the form of “teeee daaaaah” in a silent church!

Nope: nope. This is a favorite lately.

Soos: shoes

Sahs: socks

Ray: rain

Anyway, that is just a snapshot. Whether she is pointing to her cup saying “wawa” or surprising me with a full sentence of “Mommy, I see a buhd (bird)”, I am just 150% proud of and crazy about this Katootles.

A view into the brand new kitchen through Nick's newly stained woodwork/pocket door. This was not original to the house - we closed up some walls and moved some doors in the remodel and are trying to match the new architecture to existing in style and color.

A good pic of the pocket door in the kitchen that Nick stained to match all the other woodwork...still needs hardware, but it is on special order so we wait - something we have gotten very good at in this whole process! WAITING.

A glance from the kitchen into the dining area through the pocket door - which is protruding a bit in this pic. Nick stained all of that...and the window sills in the windows beyond.

A look into the new kitchen. The flash makes the cabinets look a little washed out, but you get the idea. Everything here is new from the ground up. It was totally gutted and rebuilt. The exterior door has yet to be stained.

A peek into the kitchen from the dining area. Nick stained the door frame to match the cabinets. The light colored door to the porch still needs a special stain and has not been done yet.

A look from the bedrooms into the family room area. I cannot believe how great it all is going to look! How great it does look! New fixtures, walls, window...... more trim work to come.

Another look at the upstairs...lots of trim work to finish, but this is a great example of all the wall work and building from scratch that Nick did.

A look at the upstairs....a far cry from the fake stone walls and popcorn ceilings with fake beams that existed before! Still more to do....

This Old House

Despite my protests that Nick should spend his Father's Day being showered with attention by his daughter and wife spending "quality time" at brunch and some fun summer family activihty, Nick insisted that he wanted to work on the house! It should not have surprised me - he really does love playing Bob Villa - and he does a great job at it! Besides - we had a nice chunk of time together earlier in the weekend. After an office party in a skybox at the Twins Game Friday night, and swim lessons with Kate on Saturday morning, Kate and I retreated to my Mom's condo so Nick could work on the house. He worked all Saturday afternoon through Sunday night and when I got home this morning I was amazed - as usual - at how incredible it looks!

One of the ways that we saved money on the kitchen remodel was by deciding to stain all the new trim and doors ourselves instead of paying to have it done. So this weekend Nick stained the new pocket door, the trim around it, the trim around the new exterior door, and the baseboards. He also rejuvinated the old sad looking window sills in the living and dining room with some TLC and new stain. It looks incredibly great! Following that - he ventured into the torturous world of wallpaper removal on the walls leading to the upstairs that we are renovating ourselves. His patience is astounding, as is his attention to detail.

By the way, when I say "WE are renovating" - it is really Nick. I just take care of getting Kate out of the way so Nick can work without interruption. Well - and I get myself out of the way so he can work without interruption! ;) That, and helping with the overall design vision and paint and placement decisions are my contributions. All the heavy lifting is done by Nick. He is awesome!

I have to go get lunch for the peanut here.....she is thrilled to be back home and always notices Nick's accomplishments and applauds them with an extremely enthusiastic "Woooooowwwww!!!!". What a girl!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

By the end of the lesson she had had more than enough.

She lightened up a little here.....

Kate completely distraught at swimming lessons. She could not get her arms around Nick tight enough!

Kate and Nick getting ready for Kate's first swimming lesson. Let's just say it was not a big hit with Kate - she was not a fan of the pool as evidenced by the other pictures showing her clutching her Dad with all her might.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Remodeling Update

The remodeling of our home continues. We had professionals remodel our kitchen and it is 98% done. I will post pics of that soon, but have to try to find some "before" pics. The upstairs, though, has truly been a Weekend Warrior job on Nick's part - with some excellent help from my brother Patrick and Patrick's girlfriend, Tara. All sweat equity! They ripped down EVERYTHING upstairs, down to the studs and rebuilt. They cut and hung the sheet rock, did some wiring and all that jazz. They built a half wall to replace the old rickety wrought iron "bannister of death". It is really coming along. The pics below are it is painted, with light fixtures and a cap on the bannister and the window frame installed. I will post those soon. Now Nick is working on the doors and the base trim. Progress is picking up - Nick got a nail gun as an early Father's Day gift and is loving how it has helped to pick up the pace. I have to admit, it was a bit of a selfish gift on my part as well! Quicker progress on the remodel means Kate and I get to see more of him! :)

View from family room into bedroom area...doors and trim were existing and will be replaced with painted white.

View from the upstairs bedrooms into the family room - all new drywall is up, mudded and taped and new half wall was built to replace the rickety bannister.

Nick and Kate at the Arthritis Walk at Lake Harriet

At the Arthritis Walk

Our Walk for Arthritis

Nick, Kate and I walked to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation in May. As most of you know, I have been diagnosed with RA and have been working with the docs to try to get it under control. We want to Thank everyone who helped us to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation and it's important mission! While the weather on the day of the event did NOT cooperate (it was cold and rainy and windy) spirits were high and it was a very enjoyable and inspiring day! We had a terrific team of walkers and the event was a huge success! All the kind and generous donations to the Arthritis Foundation helped me become the number one fundraiser in the entire Twin Cities! And our Team was the number one fundraising team!!!!!!!!! We surpassed all of our fundraising goals - our little family alone raised $5051.00 and our Team total was $6001.00. We are SO VERY lucky to have so many wonderful people helping to support us in life!

I have to admit that after the walk of only 5K, my RA was flaring quite horribly. The nasty weather certainly contributed to my discomfort. It was very frustrating...I used to run 5Ks for fun, and here a walk knocked me out! Yet the pain only highlighted the extreme need for the Foundation's work on serving people with arthritis, their families and the healthcare professionals who help us. Most dramatically, it made the need for research for a cure a most pressing and immediate reality. So, while my bones were aching, it was a huge comfort to think of all of the thought and support from everyone that will make this dream of a cure come true. I am so lucky to have such supportive, warm and thoughtful people in my life.

Thanks again to all the terrific folks who sent their positive thoughts our way. We continue
to be overwhelmed by your care!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Kate Twirling

There is more than snow in Minnesota! Spring is just beautiful here, and we are looking forward to a terrific summer!