Sunday, March 29, 2009

go ahead...try not to laugh

By the about 1:50, when Ainsley turns her head away from the camera, what she's really doing is checking out her reflection in the over-flow drain thingy...she does that every bath time.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

the big reveal

Do you know what my least favorite household chore is? Cleaning the bathrooms. But a close second is LAUNDRY! I don't mind putting it in the washer, or putting it in the dryer for that matter.  But I absolutely despise the chores of folding and putting away. And because I know that a laundry folder doesn't come standard on some of these new model washers/dryers, I haven't been in that much of a hurry to replace the ones we have. However, it was getting harder and harder to deny that we needed to break down and buy a new set.

About two months after Doug and I started dating, he moved into an apartment that had a washer/dryer connection and so I went with him to buy this set...

...the basic Kenmore washer and dryer, no frills, just wash and dry the laundry. And really, considering we've moved this set 8 times AND put them in storage for a couple of years, they had held up pretty well. Until about 6 months ago, when the dryer started leaving brown streaks on things. And it started taking two cycles (three for towels!) to dry a load. Also, the start button broke a couple of years ago, and so the dryer would automatically run while the door was closed, but if you took anything out mid-cycle, you'd have to turn the dial to stop the dryer. And the door started not closing very well, so to close the dryer, I'd have to kind of lift up on the handle and push it closed with my knee. And then a couple of months ago, the washer would stop mid-cycle. It took a few days for me to figure out that the sensor was going bad and it wasn't recognizing that the lid was closed. So I would have to weigh down the lid with the detergent bottle to get it to run a full cycle. All of these things made doing laundry a little inconvenient, but the final straw for me was two weeks ago, when two kids were home with the flu and I was trying to wash a load of towels and the washer stopped. I thought maybe I had forgotten to weigh down the lid, but I hadn't. So I pushed down on the lid really hard and I heard a click and the washer started again. But then I went to do another load and it stopped just after the wash cycle again and no amount of weight or pushing down would work. As a last ditch effort, I jammed some scissors into the little sensor area and it worked. Of course, scissors made the lid open too much, so Doug came up with this solution...

It totally rocks living with MacGyver!!

Ahem, anyway...this was the final straw and I practically insisted that we go the very next morning to buy a new set.

(cue angels singing...) And now...

Aren't they beautiful?!

Yes, okay, I realize they are a bit...generic. I mean, have you seen the machines that are out there lately?? The bright colors, and the pedestals, and the remote sensors that tell you exactly what's happening in your laundry room while you're downstairs sipping coffee and looking out at your beautifully stained deck. And then there are the models with the gazillion buttons, that would require an advanced degree in Astrophysics to operate, that steam and sanitize and dispense laundry detergent automatically for 3 months! But here's the thing...I don't have an advanced degree in Astrophysics, nor do I have the bank account of someone who has an advanced degree in Astrophysics. And when it comes down to it, these basic GE machines do the one thing I need them to do...wash and dry the laundry. The doors open and close like they are supposed to, the buttons work, plus there is the added bonus of using less water and laundry detergent.

Now, this particular washer and dryer have presented a few challenges. Because of the way the house was built, the washer and dryer connections are backwards. In a perfect world, or at least a world where people aren't on drugs when they build laundry rooms, the connections would be reversed, and when looking at the washer and dryer, the doors would swing open and away from each other, allowing you to easily move clothes from the washer, over to the right and straight into the open dryer. But now, when I open my washer, I open it right into my hamper. And then I have to lean over the door and pull out the clothes and pivot back and to the left to put them in the dryer. So one of our solutions, in case you can't read the print on the photo below, is to install another, deeper shelf below the one that is already there, so I can put laundry baskets above the washer and dryer and get rid of the hamper. By doing this, I will be getting rid of the space where I hang clothes, so we're also going to hang a closet rod, perpendicular to the shelves, along the short wall of the room. And finally, we are going to pull the washer out a bit so that it is flush with the dryer, because I'm just a tad obsessive-compulsive. I'll probably post another picture of the finished room but I think you can kind of get the idea from this picture...

One other thing...other than the bit of vibration that occurs during the washer's spin cycle, these suckers are so quiet! Almost too quiet. Because now I can hear the weird sounds the refrigerator has been making all afternoon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

really, what could be awesomer than that?

Our major outdoor project for the month of March has been to get the deck ready for some summer fun. So we talked about what we wanted to do and finally agreed we were ready to start. And then it rained. And then it snowed. And then kids were sick. And then I was sick. And then it rained some more. And, as so often happens with projects around here, this particular project took twice as long to finish as we had anticipated. But this past weekend we managed to finish the bulk of the work! And so, to refresh your memory, here is what our deck looked like shortly after we moved in...

And here is what the playset looked like...

And now...

This will be getting a fresh coat of paint soon, but we did go ahead and get the new cushions...

There are still a few things to some of the support beams underneath the deck still need to be stained. And we're going to be putting a few plants in pots on the deck. And the lower platform of the playset will be torn out. I really like the darker color, more than I thought I would. Jack likes it too. In fact, he was standing in the kitchen yesterday, looking out the window and remarked, "Wow, the playset looks awesome now! It's awesomer than a wet dog!!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

a star is born

Ryan's School of Theatre Training class ended yesterday with a showcase for the parents.  The students performed 2 plays and each student also performed a monologue.  Ainsley was very quiet and attentive during the first play and first couple of monologues, but decided she was ready to leave during the first part of the second play, so I had to take her out of the room.  Yesterday was a crazy day here and in our haste to make it to the performance on time, we left the video camera at home and the other camera in the car.  However, Doug was able to capture Ryan's monologue on his Blackberry...the quality isn't outstanding, but it's a great performance! 

Now, if we could just get him to learn how to button his shirt...


Thursday, March 5, 2009

2009, for me, so far (guest blog by ryan miller)

Hey everybody! Ryan here. And I think I ought to share my side of the first 2 months of a new year.

First off, I got my second semester schedule for school ( Ha, new tongue twister, folks!) And I can really say I don't like it that much. I have Keyboarding as a subject now, and I can say with conviction that I don't like my Keyboarding teacher one freakin' bit. His name is Mr. Dunston. and he is really strict. This is my first day in his class:

( We just walked in. Enter Mr. Dunston.)

Mr. Dunston: Hello everyone. I'm Mr. Dunston ( he looks around at the class) I can say I think this will be my best class this year. ( Looks around again and smiles a smile that plainly says: Oh goody, Fresh meat!)

Hmmmmmmmm not quite reassuring...

I could make a list a mile and a half long on complaints about Mr. Dunston, but I must press on.

I have read some pretty good books since my last birthday and I must say that since Harry Potter ended :(, my all time fav right now is The Phantom Tollbooth. It's pretty much like Alice in Wonderland but this time it's a boy and he enter a strange land through a tollbooth not a rabbit hole. It's really funny. Or should I say, a funny play on words such as:

- the Watchdog is a dog with a clock on his side

- The Spelling bee is a bee that spells pretty much everything he says.

- The Whether man, who decides if something will happen or not.

- The Mathmagician does trick having to do with math

Aunt Holly gave it to me for my 11th birthday and so I must say thanks again.

I am FINALLY taking a serious career in acting, ( two plays coming up. 8 performances of one of them!) I just hope that I don't forget my lines in front of the audience!

And I FINALLY got contact lenses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am soooooooooo happy! at last!

All in all a pretty good year so far. Thanks for reading! Bye!

- Ryan Miller

Monday, March 2, 2009

snow day

I cannot tell you how thrilled the kids were when they woke up this morning to SNOW! And an honest-to-goodness SNOW DAY! With enough snow to actually PLAY in!! By 8:00 am they were begging me to go out...because they know that snow doesn't hang around here very long. So we went out early. Emily started to shake the branches on the tree to make it snow again, while Ryan and Jack started in right away with the snowballs...

I sure hope this poor tree bounces back...

Jack couldn't wait to make a snow angel!

Emily sits atop her giant snowball...

Ainsley was very excited about the snow...oh, except she didn't want to step in it. Or touch it. Basically, she just wanted one of us to hold her. Maybe next time...

We played outside for about 45 minutes or so and then the sun started to come out. By this afternoon, most of the snow in our yard had melted, but the big hill in the Erb's backyard still had snow, and they invited us to go sledding. By the time we were through, the kids were sledding down a hill of snow into a giant puddle of mud, but no one seemed to mind. Finally, a fun snow day!

and daddy's little helpers

The best part of this trip was when Ainsley walked past the uniformed police officer pushing her little cart with only beer in it.  Classic.