Monday, March 31, 2008

Not so funny

I have a post about my kitchen all ready to go, but it will have to wait. My internet friend Emily of Not That You Asked has put out a call to ask for help for a friend of hers, also named Emily:



Emily is the 16-month-old daughter of Brian and Katie. About two weeks ago, they learned that she has a baseball-sized tumor in her brain. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, they were visiting Savannah, Georgia at the time. Unfortunately because their home and family are in DC, fortunately because they feel Savannah is where Emily will receive the best care.

Emily has already endured one surgery in which 50-70 percent of the tumor was successfully removed, but she is not done yet. The cancer has spread to her spine. There may be more surgery; there will definitely be chemotherapy. Meanwhile, Brian has taken an unpaid leave of absence from his job as a public school teacher, and Brian and Katie have rented an apartment in Savannah. So now their cost of living has increased by at least one rent payment while their income has decreased to zero.

This brings us back to my friend Emily, the one with the blog. Emily is feeling frantic in her desperation to help her friends survive this horrible ordeal, and has set up a PayPal account for anyone who feels called to donate. She also asked all of her internet friends and acquaintances to link to her post about little Emily, so here we are.

Please, if you can, help.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Problems most of you were unaware existed

Andrew is very sad, because he is probably going to have to replace his calculator, and he’s had that calculator since 1992. It is a TI-85, and you can’t even get those anymore!

But the trusty ol’ TI-85 is on its last legs. Today the screen went blank after only 20 seconds even though he set the auto shutoff for 2 minutes. Not only that, but it cleared all the variables he had stored for that day!

What, you don’t have a list of variables you are going to need for the day?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kitchen: Before

Here they are, the shots of our kitchen. I did not clean up the clutter before taking the pictures because that will just make the contrast with the “after” pictures that much more exciting! It’s not at all because that’s just how we normally live *.


View upon entering the kitchen from the dining room. Note the massive size of the room. Also note the serious lack of counters. (For reference, the door to the “outside pantry” is all the way in the back left, next to the refrigerator.)



View upon entering the kitchen from our bedroom. Note the two 63-inch windows which go a long way towards explaining the serious lack of counters. Further note that the kitchen clock is hanging below the cabinet on hardware meant to hold a curtain rod, because that is where we put it temporarily when we moved in.



View upon entering the kitchen from the outside pantry. The door to the “inside pantry” (the one rearranged during the Bathroom Remodel) is just to the right of the china hutch. The door to the dining room is immediately to the left of the cabinets.



View into the inside pantry that was supposed to highlight the contrast between the newer pantry and the kitchen but didn’t really come out like I had hoped because the inside pantry still looks a mess from here and can someone please tell me why we have so much random stuff on our china hutch? Oh right, NO COUNTER SPACE. That, and laziness.

Taking pictures of your house is like having guests over. It gives you a whole new perspective on just how messy everything actually is. I cut myself some slack with the kitchen though, because it’s so horrible that there is a definite feeling of “Why bother?” with all our stuff. What is the point of arranging the tchotchkes on top of the china hutch just so when the walls look like this?



Close up of behind the stove. I KNOW.

I’ll tell you what, though, that “Why bother?” attitude can come back to bite you, because if you don’t get curtains, hang pictures, or even find a place to hang the clock because you’re planning to remodel any second now, before you know it, two and a half years have gone by and the fact that the kitchen clock is hanging on window hardware seems normal to you.

*Note of self-defense: Part of the mess is due to the fact I almost forgot to take “before” pictures and we were actually in the middle of taking down the first set of cabinets when I remembered.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Three weeks" MY FOOT

There are already delays! And we haven't even started yet!

New start date: Tuesday. Apparently the contractor's current client has requested additional things be done.

Ah, well, this will give us an extra day to put all of our stuff on the dining room table. And also extra time to paint the cabinets! Oh the joys.

Confidential to Maggie: Buy a NEW house.

Apparently we have learned NOTHING

Ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen remodel is really going to happen. Work starts on Monday. The contractor tells us it will be "three weeks," so look for an end date of, say, July 18.

Before pictures to come.

Pray for us.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Change of tone

This year, my choir sang “Still Her Little Child” for the Easter Vigil. Had I ever heard this song before I had Jack, I would have thought it very nice and probably been slightly touched. Now? I get choked up 4 out of 5 times and have to stop singing to compose myself. I can usually hold it together until we get to the third verse, but if the line “When they shouted, ‘Crucify Him!’/He was still her little child” doesn’t get me, the line “When she held his broken body/He was still her little child” does. I just can’t help imagining myself in Mary’s place, holding my baby’s broken body, and it’s all I can do not to break down and cry.

I guess this is the thing that people try to tell you about before you have a child, but they can’t explain it, this feeling of having a piece of yourself walking around in the world. I knew I would love Jack, of course, but I think that, until I heard the lyrics to this song, I didn’t fully realize that I would love him this much – this much and more – forever and ever.

A few months ago, I took Jack to the playground. I let him loose, and he ran after the pigeons in utter delight, stopping only occasionally to see where I was. The feeling of pride I had while watching him fearlessly explore the world so independently was so strong it was almost tangible, and I was shocked by the power of it. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have one or two fairly impressive accomplishments under my belt, yet I have never felt as proud of myself as I did of him at that moment when all he was doing was running across the playground all by himself.

With all of these new and profound feelings has come a better understanding of God’s love for us and of Mary’s sacrifice as well as her son’s. Until having my own baby, I didn’t really know what it meant that God had given us his son. I still don’t really understand now that I am a parent, but I think I am a tiny bit closer to the truth of it, and this understanding is like a bonus gift from God on top of the astonishing gift that is Jack himself.

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter. I definitely did.






Thursday, March 20, 2008

And he sort of sings it, so it’s like a little tune of joy

I’m working on a post that may take me a few days to get right, so here’s a little something in the meantime: Jack has lately been walking around the kitchen chanting, “Happy! Happy! Happy!” With his baby accent, it comes out as “Hap-eeee! Hap-eeee! Hap-eeee!” I’m not sure if he knows what he’s saying or if he just enjoys the sounds, but I’ll take it either way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Correction

I lost a lot of the humorous impact of my post about my mp3 player by mistaking the year in which I received both the player and the compatible car radio as a gift. That year was 2005, not 2006. I corrected it, but I just wanted to call your attention to this fact, because I did NOT make a mistake about when I got the car radio installed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Maybe it heard me speak longingly of an iPod

Hey, have you all heard of these fantastic new gadgets called “mp3 players”? They sound pretty amazing to me. Apparently, you can “rip” your CDs convert the songs to mp3 “files.” Or, if you’re feeling particularly modern, you can “download” the mp3s from the “internet.” Then you just load them onto your mp3 player and bam! You can listen to your music whenever and wherever you want! It’s pretty awesome.

Or so I’m told.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I have an mp3 player. I just can’t USE my mp3 player, at least, not in the way God intended. Andrew got it for me a Creative Zen Micro for my birthday in 2005. Andrew purposely chose the Zen Micro over the iPod because it had a longer battery life and more features, including a radio, and he knows how I love me some NPR. At the time, I was jogging, so the idea of a portable radio on which I could also listen to audiobooks was quite attractive. (Oh, you use your player to listen to music? Interesting.)

I was very excited to use it to download audiobooks from Audible.com until I discovered that my particular mp3 player did not work with Audible.com files. “No problem!” I thought. “iTunes has audiobooks!”

That’s when I discovered that iTunes files do not play on my mp3 player either. In fact, iTunes files do not play on any mp3 player other than an iPod. In order for me to listen to iTunes files on my player, I first have to burn the files to a CD and then rip them. Not only is this an enormous pain in the tuckus, this policy of Apple to deny non iPod-users access to their otherwise awesome iTunes interface is infuriating. Why? Why do they have to be like that? It makes me want to boycott iTunes just out of spite, while simultaneously wishing Andrew had simply gotten me an iPod in the first place.

Thanks to all of these little difficulties, my usage of my new mp3 player slowly died off, until eventually, I wasn’t using it at all. And then we moved fifty miles away from where I work, and I thought, “The car! I can listen to our ripped Harry Potter CDs in the car!”

Yeah, no I couldn’t. My car radio did not have an input for an mp3 player. And yes, I know about the device that sends the signal over radio waves, but for some reason, it didn’t tune in properly in my car. It was all fuzzy. But not to worry! Andrew got me a new car radio for Christmas that year! Which was 2005!

So last month, when I got the radio installed, I was all excited to break out my mp3 player again. Sure, I still couldn’t use iTunes, but NPR podcasts now, and I was pretty sure I’d be able to listen to them on the Zen Micro. So, after a frustrating period wherein I had to relearn how to use the file transferring software, the player itself, and the tricks necessary to get the podcasts of This American Life onto the device, I was finally ready to load my mp3 player up with hour after hour of glorious, glorious NPR shows.

Guess what? The flipping thing won’t connect to the computer.

Monday, March 10, 2008

You know, there are a surprising number of television show characters named “Jack”

While we were watching last week’s episode of Lost, Andrew paused it to say, “Jack must have stubbed the heck out of his toe, because his nail is split.” Now, Lost is a pretty weird show, and I admit that I had been dozing just a little bit and might have missed some crucial plot points, but, still. A stubbed toe was important? The writers were grasping at straws with that one.

“Why are you telling me this?” I said.

“Because we have to be careful when we put his socks on,” he replied.

Oh, OUR Jack!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

My little Bostonian

Now, I realize that it is possible that I am a wee bit biased when it comes to my son, but, come on, he’s sixteen months old and he can count to five! Tell me that’s not amazing.* (Sorry the video is squished, Vimeo was being difficult.)


"Fooohhhhh-ahhhhhhh" from Maureen on Vimeo.

In case you are wondering, the crackling sounds are Andrew frying an egg. And the video was taken on a Friday morning during Lent, hence Andrew’s question about whether eggs “count,” because there’s no meat on Fridays during Lent.

*If you tell me that’s not amazing, I will not believe you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Guilty pleasures

For some reason, we have ruffled potato chips in our cupboard. Andrew must have bought them, because I usually don't buy chips thanks to my complete lack of self control. But they are here, so I am eating them. Today I had a sandwich, chips and a pickle spear.

Eating a potato chip that has been sitting next to a pickle and has absorbed just a tiny bit of pickle juice is akin to salt nirvana.

I'm thirsty.