It Builds Character

Friday, July 28, 2006


Guess whose air conditioning is fixed? Yup, ours. What a wonderful feeling, and wait till you hear the best part...

When we bought the house we currently live in, (we moved in a year ago tomorrow) we had a great realtor. He told us that if we ever need a handyman, a lawn guy, a furnace guy, etc. to call him because he has a lot of contacts. So I called our realtor first thing this morning to get the name and number of his A/C guy. Unfortunately, I had to leave a message, and then prayed that he would call back in a timely fashion. When it had been about an hour and a half and we hadn't heard from him, we decided that we needed to come up with another plan. Now, usually I would be more patient than that, but it's Friday and it was 95 degrees in our house. This was no time for patience. This was time for major crabbiness. The weekend is supposed to be even hotter.

Before we moved to Minneapolis, I worked for a plumbing and heating wholesale company. So I got on the phone and called my old boss and asked him if he knew of anyone I could call in our area, since he is originally from here. He didn't know anyone personally, but told me that he'd give me to the heating customer service guy there in the office, and maybe he could do some troubleshooting for me. Dennis (the heating dude) is a great guy. I sat about 5 feet away from him every day for 2 years. He's a lot of fun, and always enjoyed giving me no end of crap when we worked together. So he asked me questions and had me try a few things, and nothing was making a difference. It all boiled down to 2 possibilities: it was either the capacitor or the compressor. He said if it was the capacitor, it would probably be a relatively cheap fix and we might even be able to do it ourselves. If it was the compressor, he said we might as well buy a whole new unit, by the time we pay for parts and labor. I was obviously hoping for the cheap fix here, since Jason and I had already decided that if it was the compressor or we needed a whole new unit, that we would have to suffer without A/C for the rest of the summer. We just can't afford it.

Dennis told me on the phone all about the capacitor--what it looked like, how to disconnect it, not to touch the contacts unless we wanted to get knocked on our asses. As he's telling me all of this, I'm thinking, "This is a waste of his breath. There's no way that Jason is going to agree to dig inside the A/C unit and try to disassemble something." But instead, he was gung-ho to do it, because, really, what other choice did we have a that point?

Jason found the capacitor and disconnected it. I was pretty excited by that alone! Then, at Dennis' suggestion, we brought it to Home Depot to see if they had the part we needed. The very nice employee told us that they don't carry that kind of part, but told us about a place in the next town that does. We went home and looked the place up on the internet so that we could at least find out if they carried it and if it was in stock. I gave him the numbers off of the old capacitor, and yes indeed, they carry it and it was in stock. At this point, I realize that it's all going too well. We're going to get the part home, hook it up, only to find out that that was not the problem after all. I tried really hard not to get my hopes up when the guy told me that the part sells for $24.95. That would be too good to be true!

Jason and Alex hopped in the van right away and headed to the store. They couldn't take Jason's car because, um, the A/C doesn't work. Anyway, when they returned home, Jason told me that when the guy saw our used capacitor, he said, "Wow! That thing is blown!" Again, I tried not to pin all my hopes on this little part that is the size of a small V-8 can.

Jason went outside and hooked it up, and then yelled to me to turn the power back on and then turn the A/C on. This is when the angels began to sing. It worked!!! Our air conditioning was fixed! By us!! For $25!!! I wanted to dance a happy jig. I shall never take air conditioning for granted again. Until about two days from now when I forget all about this.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hotter than Hades

Guess whose A/C broke? Yup, when I got home from work yesterday, the thermostat in our house read 90 degrees. I was not a happy camper! Then Jason went outside to take a look at the A/C unit itself, and thought he figured out what the problem was. There was a box on the house by the unit that had a couple of red lights lit up, and underneath the lights was a sticker that told us that if the red lights were on, then it meant that our electric company had put us into the mode where they cycle the A/C on and off to conserve energy. Once we figured that out, I was relieved, thinking that was the only problem. However, it did not come back on in any resemblance of a timely manner. It was still out when we went to bed last night. Luckily, it cooled off pretty nicely, and we didn't melt during the night. When I left for work this morning, it still wasn't working, so then I was getting pissed. But then Jason called me before he left for work, and said that it seemed to be working fine. Whew! I was very relieved. But then when I got home from work today, it was 90 degrees in the house again! I called the electric company, and the lady explained that, yes, they are cycling the A/C on and off, but that it only goes in 15 minute increments, so we shouldn't even really notice it. Hmmm...not sounding good. While Jason was at work tonight, I had a friend come over and take a look at it. He had a couple of ideas of what it might be. No such luck. Nothing he tried worked. So now I'm thinking that we may be in trouble. Why couldn't this have happened on a Monday? Tomorrow is Friday, so something needs to be done right away or we're gonna be in trouble. Either we'll have to have someone come out over the weekend and we'll pay through the nose (which we can't afford), or we'll have to suffer through the weekend, with temperatures at or over 100 degrees, with horrible humidity. If we do the latter, I'm guessing we'll be hanging out at the Mall of America or something for a good share of the weekend. Ugh. This stinks! I guess we could go to the pool, but the thought of everybody else and their brother being there with us is not very appealing. I'm totally grasping at straws here, but I'm hoping that the cycling on and off of the A/C blew some sort of fuse or something. But when I'm more realistic, I remind myself that the A/C was new with the house in 1991. Not exactly still under warranty.

Ooh...I just talked to our next door neighbor. She stopped over to see if we had enough fans to get us by. That was nice of her! Anyway, she said that she thought that the A/C was not original with the house, but that the people who lived here before us put it in more recently. I still don't know where that will get us, but it gives me a little more hope that maybe it's not completely shot. As you are all basking in the loveliness that is your air conditioned house this weekend, think of me and my family sweating our asses off!

On a happier note, look at the beautiful butterfly that I picked up at daycare this afternoon...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Keeping up with the Simpsons

In the last year or so, Alex has acquired a few of the full season DVD's of The Simpsons. All three of the kids love it. Lauren, especially, wants to watch it all the time. Some people probably wouldn't approve of letting a 3-year-old watch The Simpsons, but I guess it's not a big deal for us. We are careful with what they watch on TV, making sure that it's nothing too scary and we try to limit the number of naked people that they see, but we do allow things like The Simpsons that may not always be completely appropriate. (Catherine LOVED James Bond movies when she was two years old. The more things that blew up, the harder she would laugh!) Every once in a while Bart will say something that makes me cringe and I try to sneak a look at the kids to see what their reaction will be. Usually, it seems to go right over their heads.

Have you ever seen the episode where Bart and Lisa are in Sunday School, and they are learning about Hell? Bart sees this as his chance to say "hell" without getting into trouble. After all, he learned all about hell in his Sunday School class! So as they are all driving home after church, Bart is sitting in the backseat, singing, "Hell, hell, hell, hell, hell, hell..." until Marge yells, "Bart! Stop saying "hell," you're not in Sunday School anymore!" It's a funny episode.

Last night, Jason, Lauren and I were driving home from my Grandma's birthday party. (Alex & Catherine stayed with my Dad & Step-mom so they could go to a baseball game tonight.) So we're driving home, and out of nowhere, Lauren starts singing, "Hell, hell, hell, hell, hell..." Jason and I exchanged glances and tried to contain our laughter. We didn't say anything to her because we didn't really even want to acknowledge it and make her think that it was funny or naughty or anything. We just ignored her and she stopped after a few seconds. Kids are so funny. You just never know what they hear and what they understand. They're just little parrots.


On a different, yet similar note, this morning I told Lauren to get dressed, and she responded with, "OK, whatever you say, Lady!" She is somethin' else.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes

Tonight, Jason and I were sitting in the living room while the kids picked up tremendous amounts of their junk off the coffee table and floor. They would take a few items to their bedroom or the garbage, and then come back for more. Lauren and Alex had both taken some things downstairs, but only Lauren returned. Jason asked Lauren, "Where's Alex?" In the most nonchalant voice ever, she responded, "He's dead."

Wha? Where did that come from? Clearly, it was not true. Where do they get things like that? She gave me a sly little smile, knowing that she had just made a "joke." Not a hilarious one, mind you, but she was pretty proud of herself . Truth be told, Jason and I did get a little chuckle out of it as well.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I can't wait until school starts!

Come September, Alex will be in 5th grade, and Catherine in 2nd. He'll be 11 in November and she's 7. Jason and I have always looked forward to the day that the two of them would be old enough to stay by themselves before and/or after school, and we've decided that day will coincide with the start of the coming school year. Of course, you know what that means, don't you? NO MORE DAYCARE EXPENSES FOR THEM!!! Yay!!! Right now, during the summer, we're paying $150 per week for the two of them to go to an in-home daycare. Even with my crappy math skills, I can figure out that we will be saving $600 per month!!! Did you hear me? Six Hundred Dollars! Each month! We might actually be able to afford things--like groceries and the utility bills! However, since I have come to this realization, I do need to keep reminding myself that the $600 a month savings has not yet begun. Like when I'm at Target and things keep trying to jump into my cart without my permission. Sometimes it's just easier to leave them in the cart and then bring them home, rather than cause a scene and try to put them back on the shelf.

Also, my '98 minivan has over 146,000 miles on it. I plan to drive it till it dies, so it's not like I'm going to run out and get a new one. But this extra money each month means that if my van dies suddenly, we wouldn't need to sell the house and live in the new van that I would be forced to go out and buy. If nothing else, it's just the peace of mind that the extra money will bring.

Speaking of peace of mind, I am totally confident in the kids' ability to handle being by themselves for a little while. Let me rephrase that. I am totally confident in the kids' ability to handle being by themselves after school. I'm pretty sure that we can't expect them to get out the door in the morning by themselves. These two are the pokiest kids on earth. You know how Winnie the Pooh's friend, Eeyore, sounds when he talks? Picture my kids moving to the tempo of his voice. Then slow it down even more.

At first, I was thinking that if I could get them totally ready before I had to leave for work--get them dressed, breakfast, make sure backpacks were packed, etc.--that maybe I could set a timer or something, and when it goes off, have them head out the door. But I know them better than that, and I know they'd end up being tardy a good 2 days a week. Then I realized that things were really coming together, and that this whole thing was really meant to be. My office, which is located in downtown Minneapolis, is moving to a suburb that is closer to my house. So beginning in August, my commute is going to go from a good 45 minutes to about 15 minutes. WooHoo! So it shouldn't be any problem for me to hang out at the house with them until they need to leave for school, and I could even give them a ride on rainy or really cold winter days.

Of course, we will still have the expense of Lauren's daycare, but who cares? She's only 3, it's not like leaving her at home is an option. We'll wait until she's at least 4.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Clearly, I have no life

We watered the front lawn the other night, and after I rolled the hose back up, this is what was left on the sidewalk. Don't you think it looks like Texas? I know, I know. Next I'll be posting a picture of a piece of toast with Jesus' face on it!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Happy Anniversary, JP!

A year ago tonight, JP's world changed. This is the anniversary of the last time he ate at Taco Bell.

Why do I remember this, you may ask? Well, it's more that I remember that tomorrow is my cousin's first wedding anniversary. She was getting married in Milwaukee, so Jason and I packed the kids up and headed out for the 5 or so hour drive. Sharkey and JP had flown into Chicago a day or two earlier and spent time with some friends, and then they drove up from there. We had booked a 2 room suite, and the 7 of us all stayed in it. Sharkey and JP got there before us and got checked in and settled in a bit. After we got there and got all the greetings out of the way, Sharkey and JP decided that a bite of Taco Bell was in order, and asked if we were interested. Jason said he'd eat something, so, if I remember right, JP and Jason headed across the street and picked it up. I don't remember what everyone had to eat, but I know that Sharkey and Jason ate the same thing, and JP had something different from them. It was pretty late at this point, so we got the kids tucked in, and then we all said goodnight as well.

The next morning, JP wasn't feeling so hot. I think the kids and I had been down at the hotel pool, and when we returned to the room to get ready for the wedding, Sharkey said that JP must have had food poisoning or something, because he was really sick. You know, when you're sick you just want to be in misery in your own home and in your own bed and have sole access to your own bathroom. Poor JP was in a hotel room that he was sharing with his wife and 5 other people! He was sick all day long and into the evening. Obviously, he did not attend the wedding, much to Jason's disappointment. He was feeling better in the morning though, so at least he didn't have to get on a plane back to Philadelphia feeling really crappy.

So that's the story of JP's last trip to Taco Bell. I know it's a shitty story, but someone had to tell it! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) :)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I don't think she's feeling very independent today

Yesterday, I got an email from a friend who is pregnant. We met when we had the same home daycare provider where we lived before we moved to Minneapolis last summer. Her daughter is 3, the same age as Lauren, so they played a lot together. Also, they beat the crap out of each other. Almost every day, the daycare lady would have a story about how, one minute Lauren and N. would be beating on each other, and the next minute, they were playing together like nothing had happened--like sisters, she would always say. One day, Lauren got mad at N. for some reason and knocked her down in the sandbox and then sat on her head. The daycare lady said she had to hide her laughter as she broke up the fight. (The daycare lady has been doing daycare for over 20 years, so she is very laid back!) I was always worried that N.'s parents would be mad about what Lauren did to their daughter, being that she was their first and only child at the time. But since N. was just as guilty as Lauren, I don't think they ever held it against either of us, which I appreciate. The girls had both been in that daycare since they were infants, so they played together almost everyday for about 2 years. When we moved, they missed each other, and N.'s mom and I were sad that they weren't going to grow up together, as we thought they were going to. So, back to her email. Here is what she had to say:

I thought I'd fill you in on what's going on, in case you haven't yet heard. On Friday I had some minor symptoms of this whole placenta previa pregnancy situation and underwent a bunch of tests and exams. At first I was admitted on a 23 hour hold to get 2 does of steroids for the baby's lungs over 24 hours, then it turned into 'maybe' you can go home tomorrow, then it turned into the high risk consultant saying, we think you should stay for the duration. So...

I am hospitalized for the duration. The hope is I can still make it until July 20th scheduled c-section date, which would have baby girl delivered at 35 weeks 5 days. After that point the risks outweigh the benefits of letting the pregnancy progress any further. N. was born at 35 weeks 4 days, so the situation will likely be similar, with baby staying for 1-2weeks in the level 2 nursery. I just hope and pray that baby doesn't come sooner, as then she'd have to go to the NICU at another hospital while I had to stay here to recover, that would be no fun...

Anyway, thanks to a friend loaning me her laptop, I now have internet access right in my room and after only 3 days here I have already completed 2 books and am into my 3rd, have watched enough TV to last me a lifetime, and have done enough Sudoku puzzles to make my brain spin. I mostly feel fine, have some contractions and very minor bleeding that puts a halt to my day keeping me monitored etc, but otherwise I am allowed to be out of bed, around my room and the floor if all looks good.

N. is very confused and asks me daily if I have to stay at the hospital 'forever'. I really wanted these last few weeks to cherish the short time left we have with N. as our only baby, but now it is a little bit more difficult. Tim is thrown into doing it all with N., cooking, groceries, house stuff, daycare, Copper, AND finding time to come up and bring N. to the hospital to visit. A lot of pressure and responsibility... N. loves the hospital bed 'buttons' turning lights on and off and raising and lowering the bed, as well as watching movies (the hospital has on demand free movies) and N. is enjoying the food mommy gets to order (the hospital has room service). She asks me constantly what the baby is saying or how she's doing. She loves seeing the other new babies up on this maternity floor... she makes inquiries to where I am (usually during her bedtime routine or first thing in the morning) and misses dancing as 'a whole family' when we have her lullaby music on and read books before bedtime...which makes me feel sad for her. She asks each night before they leave if I'll be 'lonely' here by myself, which brings tears to my eyes, but I ensure her I am in good hands...

Anyway. I just wanted to let you know the latest. Thanks to all of you for your support with books, magazines, the laptop, phonecalls, e-mails etc etc. I would MUCH appreciate continued e-mails as the next month may feel awful long (especially how long the last 3 days have felt). Please also give support to Tim in anyway you can. I know so many have offered to watch N. here and there which will be a savior to his sanity, just to get out and mow the lawn or to come up to the hospital without her on occasion. He's the one who will need the break, I'm just bored :)... Keep us in your prayers that we make it until July 20th and baby girl is healthy and thriving.

She's had a miscarriage in the past, and this pregnancy started out as twins, but she lost one early on. I'm trying to figure out what I can do for her to help out, but being over an hour away limits things. I can't just swing by and pick up N. for the night--she wouldn't even remember who we are. I want to send her something to pass the time while she is in the hospital, and I'm open to ideas. Clearly she's got books, etc. to keep her busy, but what can I send that's original and that she'll really appreciate and be able to use while she's in the hospital? I really feel for her and her family, being separated during this last month of her pregnancy. I just hope all continues to go well, and the baby remains healthy. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers, and let me know if you have any good ideas for what I can send!

Happy Fourth of July!!!