Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Justin and I took our trip for his defense without the munchkins. My parents kept the kids and his parents paid for our hotel room, as a graduation gift. So instead of staying at a Days Inn or the like, we stayed at the historic Omni. It is kind of like going home--being in Cincinnati, not the Omni. We had intended to put down roots there and we let ourselves get attached to the area. We lived there longer than anywhere else we've lived in our married life.

It was a pretty room,

With a chair Justin deemed as comfortable.

While the bathrooms have obviously been updated since the hotel was built in the 1930's, they put in fixtures that are reminiscent of the ones that were likely there originally.

We walked down to Fountain Square Park on our first night in town, before the storms blew threw.

We took some pictures, in the rain, of Justin in front of Old Chemistry

and inside Old Chemistry in front of a fountain with Alchemical Symbols

After celebratory lunch at the Skyline near campus, we headed to Mount Storm park. Ironically, we went there shortly before we closed on our very first house, back in the days of film, because we had to use up a roll to get it developed to send pictures of the house to our insurance company.

This picture has Crosley Tower over his shoulder--one of the newer chemistry buildings that he worked in.

(Here he is in the same spot in 2002--thanks to my scanner.)

* * * * *

And I had to include this picture I took on our way up. You know those nifty street view maps you can get on Google now? We saw one of their cars on the interstate. It is pretty funny to see--all the painting on the car and the funny camera ball on top. The fellow had his lap top open, but thankfully he wasn't playing any games, just downloading video.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I hope you had a lovely Memorial Day.

We have always tried to balance carefully honesty and preserving our children's innocence. Tonight at dinner we were chatting about what today means. Kate answered that we were remembering the people who died for our freedom. Then she looked at her sister and said, "Does that make you sad?" It seems that she is getting it.

No worries about her losing her childhood though. She had enjoyable time too.

We have had rides on Daddy's back,

playing in the wading pool,

(Both of the girls are putting their faces in the water this year and floating on their backs. Nate fell in several times and rights himself quickly and doesn't mind a face full of water.)

and home made ice cream (sorry, no pictures of that!).

Friday, May 27, 2011

What's Up Doc?

"Ten years. Ten years, man, ten years! Ten years!!" -name that movie quote

Justin and I started the journey for him to go to graduate school ten years ago. After two years of marriage, and shortly after I finished my undergraduate degree, we packed up our belongings and moved from the hometown where I had lived my entire life. I started a teaching job and he went back to school.

For five years we lived there in town. In that time, September 11th happened, we made many dear friends, we bought our first house, and we had our first baby. At the end of that five years, Justin took a new job, vowing to write his dissertation in the evenings and on weekends. Which he has done faithfully...for five more years!! In that time we've moved some more, had TWO more babies, made and left behind dear friends.

This week though, he defended that huge amount of work. There will be some edits to come, but his research has been accepted. His adviser spoke very highly of him and even gave me a hug. His official graduation date isn't until the fall, but if you happen to run across him, you can call him Doctor. He's earned it!

Justin, in his Master's regalia one last time for this spring's commencement exercises.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Kate has grand aspirations for life when she grows up: a doctor, a teacher, a checker at Wal-Mart. But Gabby, she seems to have a mother's heart. This week she told me, "When I grow up I’m gonna be a Mama, and what ever baby God gives me, I’ll love ‘em.”

And because it is very rare that Gabby asks me to take a picture of her, here is one that she told me I could share with you (after mulling it over for a few minutes).

Sorry so blurry, but she was moving!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The End...for Now

We have completed our very first year of home school. It has been full of ups and downs. We have been close to pulling out our hair (or maybe she just wanted to pull out mine) and we have rejoiced over hard won victories.

Before our school year began (before we decided to home school, actually!)

My beautiful, curly haired gal has managed to learn all sorts of wonderful things this year. We've gone from taking 30 tear filled minutes to read the very first McGuffey Reader lesson, containing three words to this past week when she read a library book to herself!

We have gone from working on written number recognition to addition and subtraction with regrouping. We've studied ancient peoples and other cultures;

(wearing the double crown of Egypt)

we've learned about heat, water, plants, animals, and so much more.

(studying water tension)

Our 180 days (plus a couple to round out the week--Shh! She doesn't know I threw in extra to finish the books we were using.) of required learning are over until we resume in the fall, though I'm sure we'll have great opportunities to learn even more this summer.

Congrats on your kindergarten graduation girlie-girl! We did it!

(in Justin's regalia from attending commencement at work)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Step 784 of 1000

We had our home inspection done yesterday. There were no big problems, though several little ones. The biggest things are that the sump pump is out, the toilet in the Master bath is not working, and the dishwasher is broken. The dishwasher is getting power and water, so a new one should work. There are lots of odds and ends for the honey-do list, but they are fairly minor/inexpensive fixes.

The biggies are alright though. The A/C was fine, though the unit is on the small side for a house of that size, which we figured. We tried to turn on the furnace last weekend and couldn't, so I had called the gas company earlier this week to see about turning it on for the inspection and found out that the gas was on to the house already. I assumed that meant it had just been turned off at the house, so we took some wrenches with us. Thankfully that was all it was: the fireplace lights (with a great flash), the water heater heats water, and the furnace lights.

So do ya wanna see the house? First...well my pictures aren't terrific. I was holding a baby boy on my hip, so there are a few blurry/odd angle shots, forgive me.

Here is the house.

She apologizes for her state of undress, but the seller/trustee/their agent hasn't worked of the details of the trim repair. She'll get a new soffit and fixed shutters. She is, however, sporting a new roof.

Here is the inside:

The living room,

with a fireplace--currently gas logs, but is operational as a wood burning,

The Kitchen,

probably the most important room in the house,

Breakfast Area,

where Kate investigates the nice sized pantry,

The Study,

where we will likely have books for school and a writing desk,

Dining Room,

(odd angle and fuzzy--I warned you!) nice wood (not carpet!!) floor and a pretty light,

Family Room/Rec. Room/Bonus Room/Play Room,

a place to rest and play--after we clean up the bird droppings, (Did I tell you that the night we first saw the house there was a poor bird stuck in the house. We let it escape through a window, but it will need to be cleaned up after.)

Odd little Closest/Storage Room/Music Studio,

it has sound proofing and many colored shelves (I think I'll keep the door shut.),

The laundry Room,

my arch nemesis, my prison, a practical little room,

The Master,

with wood floors,

Master bath,

with a garden tub,

The Girlies' Room,

before being princess-afied,

And the little buddy's room,

painted blue, and it will have cute cars, trucks, trains, and planes decorating it soon.

Well that's the grand tour of the house that we should be calling home in a few weeks!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nate says...

Nate has learned the word 'no' this week. Here is how it usually goes:

"Nate, can I have that ball please?"

Nate hands me the ball. Nate runs away screaming, "NOOOOOO!"

* * * * *

He also learned 'mine' this week. It's been a loud week!

Here he is demonstrating his new favorite dance with the girls--he loves to 'fall down.'


Last week, Justin was later at work than I had expected, so I was going to grill our steaks--generally he does the grilling these days, since we try not to leave the children (Nate specifically) unattended for more than 15 seconds. Um, yeah. I couldn't get the grill to light. The ignitor went out, I tried to light it with a match, but well, fire and I don't get along very well, so that didn't work. I wound up with our steaks in the oven, under the boiler. My mom didn't use the boiler (if we had one--I'm not even sure that we did), so with no experience I pulled out my faithful Betty Crocker. Betty didn't have the particular cut of meat listed, so I made a guess. I guessed a few minutes too long, so our steaks were...a bit crispy.

Yesterday, Justin was outside with the kids. Kate, seeing the grill, noted, "I don't like my steak grilled. I prefer it burned."

(Kate with her 'unicorn,' a horse with an Elmo thermometer shoved in the bridle)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Step 533

Well, I feel like I've been on a roller coaster this week.

First, we heard back to go sign the papers on Monday for the addendum for the seller. That meant things were going smoothly after not knowing what would happen after the offer expired on Friday evening. [Up, Up we go.]

Then, we were awakened at 2 AM by some arguing teenagers Tuesday morning. That has nothing to do with the house, but it had me awake and so I started rehashing the contracts in my mind. It suddenly hit me, they requested closing within 21 days. Then it occurred to me that months aren’t set up in nice neat 4 week sets, meaning we would be closing in May, meaning we would have to pay mortgage and lease both in July. :P [Down a bit of a hill.]

Tuesday I find out that I must call their lender, as they required we get approved by their person too. That guy tried to get us to pick his bank over ours. I spent the day talking to him and our bank (who agreed to match the other bank’s rate plus offer us a percentage point off the first year for free). The banker said there was no way to close in 21 days, whew. So into June we go, and we aren’t in breach of contract, since all is dependent on financing. They could drop the deal, but without another offer that is silly. [I hate the mess and being in the middle, so it was up and down in all that. But I was very glad I was able to negotiate a great rate with our bank.]

Wednesday I get an email from our real estate agent that if we can’t get a guarantee from our bank to close by the 3rd of June that they are backing out, and oh yeah, their bank can do that. Things also slowed because I refuse to authorize the appraisal. “Why?” you ask. See, it is because they hadn’t signed a contract. And I told him I was concerned that they will appraise it with the messed up roof, which will require a second appraisal. They have required we use their title company already. They have just been difficult all the way around. We finally told the real estate agent we were ready to walk away. [Down, down, down.]

In the middle of all of that, I spent the day putting together all the information the bank needs to show that we qualify for the loan officially—financials and all.

Thursday I get another email from our real estate agent. After taking our stand, they had submitted the signed contracts and asked that I meet the roofer to pick out the roof color. I took the munchkins over to meet the roofer. While we waited,

I took a picture of them on the front porch (someone wanted to explore more than have his picture taken),

and I let them play in the backyard...their new backyard. That was fun, but I did learn how hard it is to keep track of all three of them without a fence! We also got the papers to sign to set up the loan with our bank, so when Justin made it home from work after nine o'clock, and we signed, and signed, and signed some more. [What a great relief, and up again!]

Friday was a more quiet day on the house front, I only had to drop off the signed papers at the bank, but Saturday we got to get back by to measure windows so I can have curtains to put up when we get there. My parents and sister were able to see the place too. And of course the munchkins got to wander through their new home, with the real estate agent's daughter to boot, so they had a blast. I forgot to take any pictures though. :P

Friday, May 13, 2011

One and a Half

The little man is half way between one and two today.

He is my wild child, climber, cuddle bug, Mama's boy. He has been so very different from his sisters, whether it is just because he's a boy or the baby or some in borne trait, he is his own person. Daring and self assured in all things physical but emotionally fragile.

He loves when we sing. He likes to watch YouTube videos of things blowing up with Daddy. He dances at every opportunity and adores clapping his hands.

He loves all books with pictures of animals, but dogs are his favorite. I can't really ask his favorite food yet, but aside from cookies (which he heard us discussing for yesterday's birthday boy's celebration) he seems to like bread the most of all foods.

His favorite toy is a ball, by far,

and he likes to play outside more than any other activity.

(here he is sleeping on the couch when he was ill a few days ago--the child is not a sleeper, so this is a rare occurrence--like I'm not sure he has ever slept on a couch before, ever.

So happy half birthday to my handsome, brown eyed baby boy!