Friday, August 22, 2008

Bathroom Update: Tiling

Yesterday we screwed up our courage and began tiling the tub surround. This time around has gone much more smoothly with the addition of a mastic-mixing drill bit and a wet saw from our neighbor Steve. He offered it while he and Rob were working on the back fence, so I guess it's true that good fences do make good neighbors, even if that's not what Frost was intending.
The idea of a wet saw sends me screaming, but Rob just plowed ahead and did it perfectly. He assures me it's one of the easiest and safest around. I guess I'd do the same thing if I got to play with one of those cool embroidery sewing macines. I'd make dish towels that said:
"Torch one kitchen and you're marked for life!" - Gerilyn Henderson
"Kettle, this is the pot. You're black." - Gerilyn again
and then maybe a burp cloth that says
"I'd like to trade you for a yellow dog. Then I'd shoot the yellow dog." - Uncle Don
"If it weren't for my mood swings, I wouldn't get any exercise at all!" -unknown
And thanks to Ann Taylor for finishing off my remodeling outfit. People see me in it and they run for cover!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Of Brothers and Babies

I've long thought that Rob and his brother, when together, look like Bert and Ernie. Not that Rob has a unibrow, or that Rick always wears stripes, and Rob is certainly no pigeon-raising wet blanket, but Rick can have that nefarious Ernie-like laugh. . . It's probably mostly just that their heads are so different. But in this picture, they're definitely brothers, with the blue eyes and big smiles.
Now they each have their own mini-me and we got them all together to take a picture when we finally got over to meet our cousin, Adam. He's darling and squishy and he promises to be a baby for longer than our insanely weedly growing tike.
The brothers with their baby boys. We're wishing right now that we had Mimi around to coo over them. It isn't just because we're selfish attention hogs. It's also because now would be such a great fantasy: as if your kids are all babies at the same time, but you can pass them back to the nannies at feeding/squealing/changing/sleeping times!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Here is Joss with Leah. She's four months his senior, and the age difference works like a charm right now. She can move enough to get to the toys, but didn't come over and maul him. He wasn't jealous that she took the toys -- he thought it was all a show for his benefit. They lolled around cooing at each other for almost an hour; only interrupted when Leah knocked herself with a plastic block.
They both loved this toy even though it was way too old for them. Joss even managed to grab it and hold on with his hot little hands. Then, last Sunday, he actually rolled over, from his back to his front! Not even three months old at that point. Sigh. We were hoping that he'd be the slowest of the kids, content to merely sit and play instead of needing to crawl -- until he was about four.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The "Fanciest" Hotel, Square-State Homilies

Upon arriving at John Asuaga's "The Nugget" Hotel in Sparks, Nevada, our children were very impressed with the whooping slot machines, the swank 25-color rugs, the tasteful neon, the bleached/leathery/inebreated/ guests with their jeweled sweatsuits, and the fake plants everywhere. "This is the fanciest hotel we have ever seen!" exclaimed Sebastian. We go for the rates and the pool and the fact that it is right at that spot in Nevada where everyone is in danger of bloodsport in the car. How can you argue with a 5-th floor indoor pool surrounded by waterfalls, a plastic grove of Ficus Benjamina, twinlking lights and $7.99 poolside Margeritas? The kids worked out their car-trip malaise by playing tag and assassins.
The poolside bubble tubs are a big hit. So is the hot tub. Rob was sitting there between two bulbous, Tecata-swilling men discussing "politics." The first man, pasty and twiggly-legged, bemoaned the sorry state of the nation. "Yeah," said the orange tan walrus-mustachioed man. "An' purdy soon that Obama will be hangin' out on the front porch of the White House, spittin' watermelon seeds with 14 of his darkie friends..." Ah, the hearty, simple pure folk and good old-fashioned values of the American Heartland....

After leaving Mr. McNiel and Mr. Lehrer in the Hot Tub, Rob foraged for veggies and fried chicken (Solidarity? The power of suggestion?) at a dumpy grocery store, and the poolside meal was delightful even without Margaritas.
Mr. Joss joined the kids for his first-ever swim. He was fine until Sebi splashed him. We all endured the trip through Winnemucca, Battle Mountain (with the big "BM" on the mountain outside of town), Elko, Wendover, Toole, and a gas station in West Valley City that had a surprising selection of Haribo gummy treats. That eased us back home after Austria/California.

Now we are wandering aimlessly among K2-sized piles of laundry and trying to re-claim our house from all of the poo we have dumped out of our suitcases. We might never leave our house again. When does school start, anyway?????

Golden Gate Park

On Tuesday we drove into San Francisco to visit Golden Gate Park. Rob took Maddie, Will and Sebi to see the Chihuly exhibit (after reading them the riot act) and he was happy to report that they behaved beautifully inside. The boys were even excited about going to it since they had seen the video (what little boy can find fault with fire and blowtorches and molten glass?). In the meantime I pushed Joss around in his stroller and he screamed for an hour. Ok, maybe only just half an hour.
We walked out to a Greek place for lunch where our kids once again shocked and awed us with the sheer volume of food they could down. This time it was Sebastian who polished off a whole gyro. Don't be misled by this picture -- this was 30 seconds of a four hour adventure where Joss is smiling and in the stroller at the same time.
Then we walked over to Stowe Lake where Rob and kids rented a paddle boat and trucked around the island, checking out the ducks and turtles and the pagoda and waterfall. And I pushed Joss around while he shrieked in his stroller. Complete strangers offered me advice and tried to quiet him and a lot of them complimented me on the stroller. I tell you, if someone pushed me around in this thing, I would not complain!
We left the park and tried to go by the SF Herb Co to stock up on spices, but alas, they closed at 4:00 and we missed them. We had to console ourselves with visiting Mitchell's truly fabulous ice cream at the end of Guerrero.

Berkeley's Adventure Park

We had also always intended to try out the Adventure Park at the Berkeley Marina. This is a place like the one in Prenzlauerberg in Berlin where the kids get to build things. They had to clean up the area and bring in splinters and bent nails in order to check out their tools, and then they could hammer, saw and paint away. All free for any parent willing to supervise their children in these conditions.
Rob was more than up to the task. And for the kids it was a dream come true! Like grandpa's basement only without the archeological relics such as the boom boxes my brother and I bought as teenagers. And with a zipline and seesaw instead. The U.S. is just not quite as adept with a zipline thought -- they need to work on their dismounts.
They had a good time getting dusty and playing. I wheeled Joss around the Marina while he squealed.

Lunch in Berkeley -- with Parking?!

We'd been told several times that we should go to Vik's Chaat Corner in Berkeley, but we'd never been able to find it before. With the wonders of the internet, we finally located it (first miracle), and there was a parking lot for it (second miracle), and there were actually free spaces in the parking lot at 12:30pm on a weekday (third, and most amazing miracle). It was a sign. Here is Will showing off his choices for dessert (just the right size for dessert!).
It's housed in a warehouse and frequented by plenty of local business types and students. I was self-conscious about our large brood (unseemly for the Bay Area these days), but there were plenty of other kids. And the nice Indian man who sat next to us was thrilled that our kids were chowing down on the food. He pointed them out to his family "Look at the kids who eat Indian food!" We didn't tell him that they eat most anything put in front of them. Today Sebastian was talking to Joss and he said "Joss, right now you just eat yellow milk, but pretty soon you can eat lots of good food! I eat salad and it makes me big! Now I am a big brother and you are my tiny baby brother." Amen.

Arriving in San Francisco

When you last heard from Rob, he'd just finished packing in Dorfgastein. Then he bundled the kids onto the train to Vienna and they were lucky enough to have some room to stretch out. It was a good thing, because they had a long trip ahead of them with two flights, two trains, and a ride back to the grandparents' with a screaming Joss in the van.
I'd come down with the beginnings of mastitis, but Nedra took great care of me and got me antibiotics which finally brought down my fever. I went to the airport just to see my kiddies come walking through the door. They looked older (and travelworn).

Nedra also arranged to get Maddie not one, but two birthday cakes that they picked up Friday morning. People mostly slept and beat up on each other during the day. Then we had chinese food and cake and presents, followed by more sleeping and beating up on each other.
This was one of Maddie's presents: a crystal scene that grew in just a few hours. It was pretty amazing. We threatened all the kids when we put them to bed that they were NOT TO WAKE ANYONE UP when they woke up. Then Rob dosed them up with Benadryl. They were still up at some ungodly hour, but they didn't wake up anyone else, which we were all thankful for.Which reminds me, a few weeks ago Will had a rash and I told him I'd put some Benadryl on it to keep it from itching. He said "But Mom! Benadryl is what I use to go to sleep!!" Poor kid doesn't even know its actual use. . .