Sunday, August 20, 2006

Busy is not the same as having you here

How do teens know just exactly what to say and do to drive a dagger into a parent’s heart? We took Critter to her last summer camp today. Still tired from her previous one, she dragged her feet to breakfast, was surly before her shower, and finally flat out disobeyed right before we got in the car to leave.

Furious, I got out of the driver’s seat and informed JewelGeek she could take Critter to lunch and camp. Fortunately, a mere 20 minutes later, I had cooled off. During that time, I realized just how quiet the house was without her, how much I missed having her around, and how much I overreacted.

With a quick call on my cell, I discovered that they were only a few blocks away having lunch. So they swung back to pick me up, and we tried again.

This time, Critter talked almost the whole way out there – about her previous camp, her phone call to her Grammy, and a lot of comments about the scenery and farm life. When we got to the camp, she was quiet again, and hung back. That's the closest she EVER gets to letting us know she needs us and wants us around.

Undeterred, we did what all the other parents were doing – stood in line and dealt with the paperwork. The counselors tried to engage Critter in small talk, but she looked at us askance and rolled her eyes, giving one word replies.

Once through the lines, we were free to pick up her gear and head to her cabin. She is in “Junco” – next to Chipmunk and Osprey. The cabins have nice bridges out to them, as they are on stilts over a slight cliff. Bridges connect balconies to each cabin at the back, also perched on the precipice. The cabins are expansive – housing probably 10 girls. Each cabin also has a sink and flush toilet, ample electric lighting, windows with screens, and “cubbies” at each bunk big enough to hold the suitcase and a small library.

Critter quickly sized up the other girls already in the cabin, selected an upper bunk above a heavy-set teen, and stood around looking nervous. We asked her if she wanted us to go, and she whispered, “No.”

So we wandered outside back to the counselor, who was making the name badges each camper would wear. There wasn’t much else to do – except admire the well-appointed camp, and head back to the car. We asked Critter if we could have a hug, and she said “No,” and walked quickly away from us, looking coquettishly over her shoulder. We chased her a ways, listening to her laugh and squeal, then gave up and headed back to the car. I think she watched us go, but I was brave and didn’t turn around.

In the giggling woods, the camp was full of parents and kids – of varying ages – each exploring their part of the camp-world. We even saw little “Hobbit Houses,” made slightly smaller than the other cabins, with grass growing on the roofs, and solar panels and round doors. We think younger campers were housed there.

This particular camp has been in business for decades. The site is well cared for, and certainly modernized. The counselors looked energetic, enthusiastic, and genuinely happy to be there. I’m sure Critter is in good hands.

Still – I wish we hadn’t quarreled in the car at first. I wish I had told her that it was okay, I understood, and I loved her anyway. I wish she had given us a hug – if not to allow us to express how much we loved her, at least to give us something to “hold on to” for the next six days. And as Renaissance Man has told me more than once, all of that probably passed Critter's consciousness for about 30 seconds, and then left, to be filled with whatever teenagers obsess about these days.

We'll stay busy throughout the week, trying to put our house (and even our lives) back together after the remodel. But busy doesn't mean I won't miss her. I miss her already. Being busy is not the same as having her here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bag! Bag! No Bag!

We've had things in storage for about four months during our kitchen remodel, crammed in every spot we could think of that was not the living room, kitchen, or dining room. And in order for our temporary kitchen to exist in our living room, items from those places were displaced, too. The attic has boxes of dishes, silverware, vases and mixing bowls. Critter's room provided space for large furniture items. Our bedroom has had a stream of candles, computer paraphenalia, and stereo equipment.

So now, with the remodel completed, it is time to put things back in their original homes. If we can find them.

Now, many would claim that the fundamental things to put back into a kitchen/dining area which has had a new floor, new cabinets and stunning paint job applied would be silverware, an oven, even a refrigerator. But it means nothing if you can't find this:

For without this important plastic baggie filled with nickel-plated goodness, life might never be the same. Consider how bereft our home would be if we were unable to...

...contemplate the importance of sitting perpendicular to the bathroom so that our odds of winning were boosted,

...sigh heavily as The Little Man turned off the ceiling fan with one mighty leap,

...giggle with LaLa until tears came to our eyes after another Dad-ism passed Mr. GoGoGo's lips,

...stand up a bottle of Critter's mustard,

...groan as Mr. GoGoGo passed the skunk line,

...artistically arrange chocolate chip cookies for a scrapbooking party

Yea, verily, the world could come to an end. But fortunately, we knew, months ago that this baggie was important. And so we adjered strapping tape to it--the good kind with those little fibers in it--and secured said bag to the item which makes our house a home.

I don't think I need to tell you that the strapping tape didn't stick.

And so, for a painstaking hour, we retraced our steps, searching through every possible place the Baggie (which had now reached epic proportions and needed to be capitalized) might have been stored. It was a bit of a Seusical episode.

Where is the Baggie, of Ziplock fame?
Would it come if called by name?
Behind green chair covered in clothes?
Shouldn’t Critter have hung up those?

Perhaps by stereo, hidden by speakers?
Checking there unearthed kid sneakers.
Blue chair exposed books and lipstick,
And one monkey Tinkerbell outfit.

Desk drawers next exposed nothing more:
Just stamps, papers, and CDs galore.
Back to the kitchen and an orange bin
Held cupboard parts and one blue pen.

To the garage, searched mightly we did
Found suitcases, cardboard and paint can lids.
Craft room, too, was bare of said Baggie
Should we call on the Police Academy?

At last we retraced our steps to where the important item was stored and found it wedged on the floor almost hidden underneath Critter's Hope Chest. And with the Baggie found we were able to use the pieces inside.

Which yielded our dining room table. And now we can call our house a home again.

The roses were brought to us by our contractor on our last day of work. "Three roses for three roses," he told us. We are going to miss him.

Side note: Not long after the dining room picture was snapped, The Little Man turned off the ceiling fan in one mighty leap from the table top, wrapping the cord around the fan blades. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Light at the end of the tunnel

Last week, our contractor's son put the hardware on our cabinets. They look fabulous!

And the lights went up. Notice how the graceful "S" curve mimics the organic wheat theme on the handles...

And our beautiful pendant lights have a woven design around the edge (which you can't see when the lights are on...)

Over the weekend, we began painting the living room a lovely "creamy beige," which actually looks more peachy to me.

SouthernBelle is eager for all the mayhem to be over, too. She made herself at home in the dustpan for a lengthy catnap.

And finally, on Sunday, I had a decent cup of coffee from my own coffeepot. Of course, there was no where to sit down, yet... [to be continued]

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Red Wave

[Mr. GoGoGo is an AWESOME brush painter.]

Was told by the contractor this evening that he thinks he'll be done in 2 more days. Hard to get excited about it, because even when he's done, we still have to move everything back in to place, find "homes" for all of our stored kitchen items, and think about grocery shopping again.

And there's still the livingroom to paint.

And the old carpet looks horrible next to the fabulous new kitchen/diningroom floor.

And the carpet on the stairs looks even worse.

And who is going to pay for all of this??

On the plus side, JewelGeek and Mr. GoGoGo painted the kitchen on Sunday. Our Rum Spice wall is quite an accent. Not too much red. Just the right amount of drama. It was an excellent choice, if I do say so myself.

And it further points out the glaring ugliness of the dingy livingroom walls and nasty carpet... Isn't home ownership fun?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Raging Waterfountain

Critter came home from camp yesterday noon. CrafterKat and I had kept our fingers crossed; Critter did not want to leave home a week ago, even if it was a horse camp.

She emerged from the bus in a black hooded sweatshirt and searched for her bags. I gave her a sideways hug that she tolerates when in public. "Missed you," I told her softly to lessen the embarrasment factor.

"Wait... Wait." She ran over and hugged two or three girls and promised she send them e-mails. We packed the car trunk with her things and headed out to get some lunch.

"Did you learn any new camp songs?" I asked, turning around in the PCC parking lot. Critter proceeded to sing me a song about a frogs that are supposed to say la la la but don't, and then a catchy little number about shoveling ma-nuuuuuu-ure, complete with hand movements before we got out of the parking lot. A song about a horse named Random and a crab named Frampton who could climb trees brought us into Portland and in search of a luncheon spot.

"...and me and Kat--I mean 'Kat and I'--Kat is always correcting me and I told her 'you sound just like my Mom!'--and her name is just like CrafterKat's and spelled like hers, too, but we all called her Kat even though I called her 'Kat John' sometimes just to be different. She names all her stuff so like her computer is named Phoebe and she has a hamster and we got Indian names and hers is Serene Octopus and mine is Raging Waterfountain and can I go back to camp next year?"

Critter had a good time at camp.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Letters to Camp

Critter has been at her first summer camp this past week at the Oregon Coast. The YWCA has camps across the state; Critter has been participating in Camp Westwind's horse camp. Camps have changed quite a bit from when I went--you can now e-mail your child. As the Renaissance Man said, "Just call them Generation W--for Wired. Not to be confused with Weird."

Since so much has happened in a week, we'd thought we share our letters to her.

Jul 29, 2006

Hi! Wanted you to know that your horse poster and boots were big hits at yesterday's Western Round Up party at work. Lots of people looked at the poster, and one dad asked me what I was going to do with the boots after the party... My co-workers made a huge cartoon poster of a rodeo rider and bull, and cut out the faces of the rider and bull. That way people could stick their faces in the holes and we could take their picture! Had quite a few great shots there. All in all, it was a great party.

I'm making a little progress on organizing your closet. Have all drawers in the dresser emptied and a lot of "too small" items sorted out. I think I can get another small shell in the closet to store something on top of it, but I need to look around in the garage at my supplies. The Little Man & Doofie have been "helping" me - each time coming out of the closet with lots of dust bunnies all over their faces. So far, they are not particularly interested in the bins. Keep your fingers crossed!

We think of you a lot. Hope you are having a great time.

Love, CrafterKat and JewelGeek

Jul 30 2006

Hi again! Early bird up - as usual. The Little Man woke me up by scratching at our door. The food's in there! I'm thinking The Little Man is sounding more and more like Napoleon Dynamite as he approaches his teen years... "Gimme your tots...Gosh!"

Saw an ad last night for funnel cakes at IHOP. We're going to try them out for breakfast today. And over breakfast, we'll discuss kitchen paint color. We're still leaning towards green... but I PROMISE it will NOT be the same color as the house.

Talked to Mr. GoGoGo three times yesterday about all the "goings on" in the kitchen. Our contractor and his son did FINALLY get the sink, dishwasher, and dispoal all hooked up at about 8 pm last night. Quite an operation. Sink drain kept leaking. Took two hours to figure that one out. But that means... no more hand-washing dishes! Yay for everyone! And THANK YOU to you.

Better go get the newspaper and check out the ad before JewelGeek gets up. Thinking of you. CrafterKat

Jul 30 2006

Good morning Sweetie!

Had a funny dream this morning that we parents got to attend a few classes with you at camp. I was able to go to a class on making funny faces. So you and I were trying to match our instructor in sticking out our tongues, scrunching our forehead and crossing our eyes. I think I need more practice because I wasn't very good. You made some very good Grouper faces, though. Sigh.

The countertop people installed the new covering for our base cabinets. It's beautiful! The last step was to put a bead of silicon between the seams to connect the countertop and the backsplash together. Anyways, it had to sit and cure and that meant we had to keep the kitties locked up for another 24 hours. We just didn't want to have a gorgeous new countertop covered with the Little Man's tail hair and Doofie's whiskers. So, in the bedroom they stayed.

Our contractor might actually be able to install the new sink today.YIPPEEEEEE! He asked us to figure out where we wanted to put the shelves in the tall unit because he'll permenantly install those, too. CrafterKat and I had fun putting in the oatmeal container, a box of fettucine, the flour cannister and the last box of pink Peeps.

We went to two different stores on Thursday looking for the bulbs that go in the little hockey puck sized lights that sit inside the cabinets. You'd think that Home Depot would have them. Sigh. None that were the right size/wattage/material. We finally went back to the lighting store where we ordered the lights. They had them, but no box. So I carried seven of the little bulbs (not much larger than the Christmas lights) home in a paper coffee cup.

Hugs and Yucks, JewelGeek

Aug 1, 2006

Good morning Sweetie!

Been a busy few days for us here. We've been starting to smooth out the wall in the dining room so we can paint, and filling in the little divit holes in the ceiling left from the asbestos removal. Very dusty and sneezy around here. Wait... I'm getting pushed by kitties...

Hey, GirlMom, I love the new countertop 'cause I can sleep in front of the window and... (sniff) did you just eat something? Is it good? Can I have a bite? Just a small bite? I'm sure it's good for kitties... No? Well, I'll just go take a nap then.
The Little Man

Hi! I'm pretty and I like to explore the garage when no one is looking and then make sure that everyone knows that the suitcase downstairs in the hallway belongs to me! I'm missing my green mouse. Have you seen it? See you soon. Bring food.

Hey. The dumb male cat just woke me up. You got a scritch for me? No? I'm going back to bed then.
Fuzzy Slug

Well, I guess that's it for this morning... Take care, Sweetie. See you soon!

Aug 1, 2006

Hiya! We've been keeping busy working on getting the diningroom ready for painting. Sanded down the last bit of wall that had texture, added mud, waited for it to dry, sanded it, added mud, waited for it to dry, sanded... JewelGeek went around filling in holes in the ceiling in the diningroom. We should be ready to texture it later this week. We need to do the same for the livingroom -- no sense texturing one part of the room, cleaning up, then doing it again for another part. And we need to texture the ceilings before we paint - or else we'd get texture material all over our paint job!

We did settle on a paint color. We had two greens that we liked - but when we took the poster board outside, they were too close to the color of the house! So we nixed those. The three yellows we tried didn't work. But the "out of the box" color we selected on whim is REALLY awesome. Called Rum Spice -- you'll have to see it to believe it.Very piratey.

Also making some progress on your new closet organizer. Emptied the dresser out yesterday and put it on Craigslist for someone to pick up. In an hour, it was gone! Now I'm pondering what kind of table to use for the keyboard that looks nice and is the right height. Kittens are fascinated by the closet, but don't seem too interested in the bins. They keep poking around in there and coming out with hundreds of dust bunnies on their faces. Pretty efficient sweepers! Now if we could only get them interested in going under your bed...

Thinking of you. See you soon. CrafterKat

Aug 2 2006

Hey Sweetie!

Heard lots of songs on the radio the past few days that made me think of you. The most recent, coming home from buying shelf liners for the cupboards, was "If I had a million dollars". I love the line:

If I had a million dollars
I'd buy you a monkey
Haven't you always wanted a mon-keee?!

I know you get these notes after dinner-ish, so I thought I send you a quick bedtime story by Ogden Nash.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called him Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward,
and she called him Custard.

See you in a short, short while! Hugs and Yucks, JewelGeek