24 October 2009

Meet Me in Beirut

Hi. We've moved to Beirut, Lebanon.

#970 is officially in the hands of renters. Keep your fingers crossed that they'll be good to our house while we're gone.

As for this blog . . . we'll I'm not living @ 970, am I? I'm in Lebanon. But you can still find me and see what's going on my corner of the Middle East. See you there.

25 September 2009

The Answer is YES

Over the past month, I have personally lived out one of the secret realities of blogging. I'm going to tell you what it is. Ready for it? Ok, here goes. There is an inverse relationship between blogable content and actual blog posting. In other words, the more you have going on the less you blog.

To prove it, I've included a transcript of what I've been doing to prepare to move, leave our lovely 970 in the hands of strangers (I mean renters, obviously), and show up at my brother's wedding (tomorrow!) looking like I knew I was going to a wedding that day.

Sep 7 cleaned out kids' craft cupboard & my paper collection. Useful stuff slated for donation to an underfunded preschool. Useless stuff, recycled/junked.

Sep 8 cleaned bedroom, delivered fabric & 2 bikes to International Institute, 2
bags clothes to Goodwill

Sep 9 cleaned out dress up stuff, sorted for donation. I've been patching the broken plaster in the dining room and bedroom, and today I applied the final coat. I also moved the marble fountain downstairs into the basement coal room.

Sep 10 sorted toy box and prepped most of it for donation. I also went through all the kids' clothes--the out of season stuff and their stuff from when they were little. Prepped most of that for donation too.

Sep 11 changed the locks on the house so that we now only need two keys instead of four. I recycled a drawer full of plastic bags that had built up despite my efforts by taking them to the bins at Walmart.

Sep 12 Continued to assemble things to donate to the underfunded preschool--including rolling up a the huge vinyl play mat. We had a final dinner with Katherine & Paul.

Sep 13 sorted all my books into categories of 'keep', 'store indefinitely', and 'donate', with donation books separated by subject area. Also sorted the kids books. Joe and Katy came over and we loaded all of the kid donations into
katys car and filled it up. I sanded the plaster patches, and they are beautiful and ready for paint.

Sep 14 bought screwdriver, since all my phillips-heads are stripped. Weeks ago I bought a bunch of fancy clothes at Dillard's for my mom to try out for the wedding. Today I returned most of that stuff, and then I folded origami roses. Later that night I sorted out all of my kids' art, prepared it for transport or storage.

Sep 15 installed a different light in the dining room light. The old one had shorted out. I also finally fixed one of our porch lights, which needed an extra length of wire. I also started wiring up the girls closet light. They've survived without one, but the closet will be much more functional lit. I also called our insurance company to try and pin down our prescription drug benefits.

Sep 16 finished electrical work for girls closet. I spent some time in the basement and sorted out all my hardware and construction junk on the work bench. Matthew posted our old Lebanese propane powered space heater and oven on Craigslist, and today I managed the sale of both. He also listed our black office chairs and they sold too.

Sep 17 Today I listed our red chairs, shoe storage and kids cubbies for sale on Craigslist. I sifted through my collection of cook books, prepped more stuff for garbage day. The almonds arrived (a week ago I ordered 10 lbs of them for the wedding favors) and I assembled 80 roses w/ candy inside.

Sep 18 got garbage out to the curb, picked up all the medicine I will take with me to Lebanon, sold cubbies & shoe storage. I sorted through our entire collection of DVDs and kitchen plastic items. Thankfully kitchen ware and DVD cases can be recycled. Terra took a stack of donation books to the local library. I Assembled 40 more roses w/ candy.

Sep 19 delivered couches to mom, some canned goods, bunk bed, porch chairs. Went to Joe's where I cut & routed drawer fronts for my closet project. I got a final headcount from Katy and finished the origami roses. I also bought additional plastic tubs for storage.

Sep 20 finally got rid of large wardrobe. I sold it on craigslist ages ago (as in August) and the lady finally sent for it TODAY. I took down all our art/photos, brought first wave of long-term storage items up out of basement, crated books, carpets, decor. Later that day I installed drawer fronts. They look great.

Sep 21 managed the recycling, kids pediatrician visit for updated immunizations, donated all of our language books (German, French, Arabic, Chinese) to the local High School library. I took a huge stack of shoe boxes to my daughter's preschool where they will be used for crafts. Brought all remaining storage out of basement,
and began patching dining room woodwork in preparation to paint.

Sep 22 more filler work in dining room, helped mom w/rehearsal dinner plans. Packed up all less-than-totally necessary kitchen items for storage. looked in too many stores for shoes to wear to the wedding. No luck.

Sep 23 processed huge amounts of laundry in advance of not doing laundry in this house anymore. Found more DVDs and sorted them accordingly. Went shopping for shoes again, still nothing. I'm going to wear the boringest shoes in the world to my brother's wedding and there's nothing to be done about it.

Sep 24 Craigslisted basement cabinets, kitchenaid, super glam retro punch bowl, a utility table that we had in the basement, black desk accessories, Christmas tree, storage shelves, wrapping paper storage box, plastic patio chairs, vanity w/mirror, tons of household stuff, got rid of dryer and all the basement cabinets possible. Made a huge batch of macaroni and cheese, helped set up for the rehearsal dinner. Dashed to pick up my kids, dashed again to attended rehearsal and dinner.

Sep 25 put a ton of garbage out at the curb for pickup, cleaned out garage, sold my kichenaid and plastic chairs. Disassembled our hammock and packed that up, removed all storage items from garage. Took the girls for haircuts.

And with that, are we current? Yes, we are.

11 September 2009

Flu Shots

Last night, on a lark, we all went out for flu shots. This is the first year we've done this and since my kids have never had this kind of immunization they'll have to go back for boosters in a few weeks.

The girls were very tough in there. No crying at all. But tears or not, we still would have bought ice cream afterward. It's a tradition, practically.

About 20 minutes after I took this picture, my arm was hurting so much that I took a double dose of ibuprofen and went to bed. Even with the drugs my arm hurt all night. Early this morning, around 5 maybe, I went and had another double dose. I've never had a shot hurt that much.

09 September 2009

First Lady Guns

A couple of weeks ago I went to a friend's house to meet her soon-to-be husband and to help her move. I just about burst out laughing when he called my arms "guns" and asked if I work out. I jog, I said, but couldn't stop thinking about that term, "guns". There's something so funny about it. It makes me chuckle every time. Guns.

Then today, First Lady Guns turned up on a blog I read. I don't read a whole lot of blogs--which is to say, compared with people who read lots of blogs my reading list is a short one. Pretty much a blog has to be written by someone I know or written about something I wish I was writing about or I won't read it.

Art is one of those things I wish I was writing about, so I read a fair number of blogs about art. Modern Art Notes, the ultimate art-blog, is always excellent, contemporary, and (to me anyway) relevant. Today's post, about the depiction of women's musculature, reminded me why I like that blog so much. The article is worth reading and it will only take a minute.

02 September 2009

Read Out Loud

It may be that you could explain the whole thing by attacking my credibility as a sane person, but I have always loved to read stories aloud to others. Long ago, Roald Dahl's Matilda was my book of choice, and I jumped at the chance to read it to anyone who would listen and a fair number who wouldn't. I couldn't be stopped, heaven only knows why.

It's no different today, except that Dahl is so yesteryear. These days, I drag the kids (kicking and screaming, of course) to our library to get Junie B. Jones books. It started back in July. That’s when I finally read out the Junie B. Jones books Star's cousin gave her for her birthday. We were all hooked. Even Dandelion (who is only 4) sits and listens from start to finish every time.

As of today, we have finished all of the books where Junie B. is in Kindergarten. This one, where she really wants to be a "beauty shop guy", was one of my favorites.

Junie B. is outrageous, hilarious, creative, imaginative, smart, dramatic, loving, and most of all, she's engaging. My kids understand the dilemmas, frustrations, missteps, and worries that Junie B. has and they really love getting to the end of the story to see how things are resolved. As for me, I love how Barbara Park sets up her stories, develops the plot or conflict or central theme, fills each page with funny stuff and does it all through the first person narrative of a kindergartener.

Since it takes a good 30-45 minutes to read each book out to them, it's a good thing I like Junie B. as much as the kids do.

Do you have a book (or series) that you are happy to read out loud?

01 September 2009

The Rose

Look what's still going strong . . . somehow I didn't recall that the rose kept on blooming into late summer.

Oh, and the sedum is just about to bloom too. I've been watching it, waiting for it all summer.

31 August 2009

Leaving 970 & Local Charity Advise Please!

We are leaving #970, it's official. It’ll take about another month and a half for us to wrap up the state-side side of our lives and then we’ll be off. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to #970, not to mention all the junk we’ve stuffed into it’s nooks and crannies. But luckily, I have found two very good charities, ones that will get most of what we are not taking with us. Since I have so much stuff please, please, if you know of a good, reputable charity in St. Louis that accepts donations of household items tell me about them (other than the Salvation army, Good will, Am Vets, etc. Not that they're not reputable, just that I already know about those guys). Thanks!

While we wind down our US lives, Matthew is getting things going for us in Beirut, Lebanon—our destination. No, I’m not involved in this on anything other than a conceptual level. He’s managing all of it—the car situation, apartment, everything (until I show up, that is). I’m really looking forward to going back. There’s so much to do and see and this time I get to do and see it without two children in diapers.

It isn't clear how long we will stay, and Matthew and I have decided that we're fine with an undefined period of residence over there.

Beirut is where Dandelion was born, where Star learned to talk (in French and Arabic before English, actually) so it isn't like we don't know what to expect or what we're getting into. We do, or at least we know a whole lot more than the first time we arrived back in 2004. And guess what? We did not fail out of Lebanon 101.

29 August 2009

What You Need

Except for the fact that the drill isn't in the picture, this is a pretty good collection of the stuff you will need to install two new 220 volt receptacles at my house. That's what I did today. The stuff slowly assembled on top of my washing machine while I worked.

My washing machine and dryer and refrigerator all run on 220 power--they were purchased overseas several years ago. The 220 thing; not that big a deal, actually. Electric dryers in the US are usually 220, so we already had two breakers set to 220 and a receptacle for the dryer in the basement. With the help of an extension cord/power strip, it has delivered power to the washer and dryer and a whole host of smaller appliances since we first moved in.

So, Friday Craigslist helped us get rid of the rather ancient and energy sucking refrigerator that was in our house when we bought it. With it out of the way, I knew I was going to have to install a 220 receptacle in the kitchen to power the (much newer, nicer, more efficient) 220 refrigerator-from-abroad. Since I was going to be messing with the 220 line anyway, I figured I should relocate the basement receptacle so that it is nearer the washing machine's drain line. That way, we won't have to keep on using extension cords downstairs.

The whole project went off without a hitch. This morning I bought new receptacles at Lowes, and the nice man there helped me find the right kind of cable. This afternoon, I was able to start and complete the project exactly as I had imagined it. All of it went according to plan. This is unusual for me in the area of home improvement.

Given that there weren't any major hiccups in the installation of the new receptacles, I was really shocked how long it took and how hard it was. What I thought would only be a little bit of work took me four hours. How can that be? We're only talking about two receptacles. Plus, that 10 gauge wire did a number on my delicate fingers. No lie.

28 August 2009

God Bless Craigslist

Over the past week, I have gotten rid of the horrible old refrigerator that came with our house when we bought it, two enormous wardrobes, and a bag full of ink cartridges that date back to two printers ago. The refrigerator was gargantuan and wasteful and ugly. We've replaced it with our trusty LG, the one that we brought from Lebanon, and it is superior in every respect. The wardrobes had outlived their usefulness and are off to be useful to other people. The printer ink I parted with for free. After all, it might have gone bad after so many years on the shelf. I wouldn't sleep well wondering if I had just traded garbage for money.

All of this was made possible by Craigslist. I've declared my love of Craigslist on this site before. We have an enduring relationship.

There's more to come of course. I'll be Craigslisting like a maniac. There's just so much here that I don't need to keep. There's something very wonderful and liberating about having fewer things. Honestly, I think it helps me sleep better at night.

24 August 2009

Feed Me

Last weekend, my cousin Katherine helped us find the carnivorous plants at the Botanical Garden.

I've probably walked past these little predetors a dozen or more times and failed to notice them. Or maybe I did notice them and then I forgot that I had? The trouble with the Botanical Garden (and I'm not entirely sure such a thing can even be called 'trouble') is that you can't possibly notice everything. There's simply too much for that. It's an unimaginable luxury, really.

Kids had a great time. They always do. Here they are in the Japanese garden, looking every bit as happy as they actually were.

We had a lovely time.

22 August 2009

Helping Out

The girls recently helped Matthew wash the car.

It was evening and they were already wearing their pajamas which I guess made it all even more fun for them.

Mad Art

Last night Matthew and I went to the Mad Art Gallery. It's a really fun building to be in--very nicely kept and lots of separate spaces to explore. You can watch a little movie about the gallery and the history of the building here.

We were there for the St. Louis Showcase. Here's a picture of their poster.

And here's Matthew in the Jail Cell Listening Room.

And here's a shot of one act on stage.

Those with good eyes will make out a cellist on stage. She's been teaching Matthew to play for the past year, and she's the best.

19 August 2009

Wolf Child

Not too long ago (and likely at my child's insistance), Aunt Terra made Dandelion a wolf suit.

It is commonly believed that children who wear wolf suits are likely to make mischief.

But to do that, they have to have energy for it. School has resumed and already it has started to really curtail my kids' energy. Today they came home happy and tired, a combination I can't complain about.