Friday, December 24, 2010

Some Serious Catch Up

Okay, time to catch up. There will be more to come - lots more, but here is a start. What happened to November and December? A few key events over the past little bit:

We created a storage room

It borders on ridiculous how excited I was to get a real storage area. We did have a makeshift area that was created by the previuos owners that was outside the basement foundation, but under the upper level structure. Although we appreciated that, it was dirty, hard to access, and didn't hold much. After really trying to figure out the best alternative where we would be able to get the most "bang for our buck" we decided to dig out a small portion of this storage area, put in a real door, put in some shelves, add some lights (the previous light was turned on by a ping pong ball that was tied to a string), and put concrete down so you wouldn't get so dirty climbing into the storage area. The catch was that unless we wanted to shore up the structure, dig up the front yard, and make the project exponentially more expensive, it had to all be dug out by hand. That is a big deal with clay like soil. It isn't the prettiest room in the house, but I am giddy with excitement to have a real place to put our food storage, decorations, freezer, etc. It may just be my new favorite room in the house. (Although Ted is quite certain I will move on to a new project any day now. :)

Before: This is the door you used to have to climb through to get to the storage area.

AFTER: The new door:

BEFORE: The view as you first walked into the storage area - note the hole just inviting rodents, skunks, or other annoying critters into our warm home. And in case that picture doesn't do the hole justice, the five gallon buckets of dirt were passed through that hole - no enlarging necessary.

AFTER: Here is the view now. The hole has been sealed up, there is a solid concrete wall and there is a nice concrete floor.

BEFORE: The room is L-shaped, and this is what you saw after all the digging had been done to excavate just a little more room -
A few interesting facts about this project:
  • Over 1700 buckets (5 gallon size) of dirt were removed.
  • We were the most popular house in the neighborhood when the cement truck was here - little boys from all over came to watch (see picture below). You can't even see our house in the picture, but that truck was hoisting the cement tube over the side of the house to go around back and into the basement hole.

  • 28 trailer loads of dirt were hauled away.
  • No skunk nests were found. :)
  • Our kids put their handprints in the cement, and Tessa wouldn't cooperate. I was so mad. I put her in timeout and she still wouldn't cooperate. The cement was drying fast and when I said I was going to just leave her in her room all day she said, "And ghosts might come and get me if I don't make my handprint?" I was so mad that I answered, "Yes."
  • We have four kids' handprints in the right place in the basement. :)

Jack got Sprayed by a Skunk

One morning at about 6:10 Emma came running up to me and said in her loudest whisper (since the other kids were still asleep) "JACK GOT SPRAYED BY A SKUNK!" So I thought "@!#&*>?" to myself and ran to see where he was. Our fence along the bluff area is (due to subdivision requirement) a split rail fence. Since we need to keep Jack in the yard we put up chicken wire, so I wasn't sure A: How the skunk got in, and B: If the skunk got out. Emma said she saw the skunk run under the grill. Out of concern for Jack getting sprayed again and again, I hurried and brought Jack in the house. MENTAL NOTE: IF YOUR DOG GETS SPRAYED BY A SKUNK, DO NOT BRING HIM IN THE HOUSE!

Because of my stupid action, our house stunk - and it stunk really badly. I hurried and looked up online what to do, and went to the store to get the appropriate ingredients to bathe Jack. The people in the grocery store stayed plenty clear of me so I was in and out of there.

I walked in the house and about gagged. I had read that if you put baking soda on your carpets, your couches, your floors, everywhere, and then clean it up that it absorbs the scent. So, I sprinkled baking soda EVERYWHERE. In the meantime, the kids were staying clear of me. No asking for breakfast from mom that day. I bathed Jack, and went about trying to get rid of the scent. Ted was really helpful - he got showered and left for work without coming near the rest of us. :)

I then got busy. I was burning cinnamon on the stove to aid in scent removal. I scrubbed floors, washed Jack, cleaned couches, washed Jack, did laundry, and washed Jack. In the meantime Ted called and informed me that I may need to leave the house and actually go around humans to buy him some new clothes because when he walked into the office all of the staff said, "What is that smell!!!" Luckily, with some serious Febreze action he was okay. I am sure his first patient (that he knew well) was a little shocked when Ted leaned over and asked if she could smell anything funny. But I digress.....

Over the next few days the smell began to dissipate, and the skunk was nowhere to be seen. Until one day when I came home from Costco and began unloading my car in the garage. It had been a huge Costco run so I had all the doors and back door open on the Suburban. There was a faint smell of skunk, so I began looking around. I began investigating everywhere I thought that stupid varmint could be hiding (from a distance anyways). Then I walked past the old empty garbage can in the garage and something caught my eye. Something black and white and I could hear a spraying sound. That stupid stupid skunk was caught in our old garbage can, and it was spraying away. I started screaming and yelled for Tessa to get in the house, and I ran and got the men working on our storage room - surely they would know what to do, right? Patrick saved the day and put a piece of particle board over the can and a cinder block on top to make sure he couldn't escape, and then I went to call Animal Control. They directed me to Animal Rescue.

When I finally got on the phone with Animal Rescue they were mad at me accusing me of catching the skunk. When I assured them that I hadn't set some trap, our conversation went like this:

THEM: "I'll tell you how to get him out of the garbage can. Just stand behind it and as gently as possible tip it over and then stand still so he can run off."

ME: "But then he is still in my yard."

THEM: "Well, he was there first. If you move him away from your yard he might die. Can you hold please, someone is on my other line."

ME: Thinking: Are you kidding me?

THEM: "Sorry about that. That was someone on the other line that has an injured squirrel."

ME: Thinking: We are clearly not on the same page about this.

THEM: "Now that he has been caught I'm sure he will stay clear of your garage."

ME: Uh-huh. Thanks.

When I called Ted and told him about the conversation he told me to call them back and tell them they can rescue an animal or pick up a carcass, either way the skunk was leaving our yard. Instead I went to Patrick who was working on the basement and told him about the conversation. He laughed out loud. Then he did me the biggest favor ever, and he put that disgusting smelly garbage can in his truck and got ready to drive away. When I asked him if he was worried about getting sprayed he said, "not how I'm letting him go." He then told me later that he stopped his truck, pulled the garbage can to the edge of the truck bed, and then he got back in and hit the gas like nobody's business. The can toppled over and the skunk made it out. He told me he could go back in a day or so to pick up the garbage can.

I don't want it back.

As an added bonus, the entire inside of my suburban stunk for two weeks since I had left all the doors open after my Costco trip.

And don't worry, I'm sure the skunk made lots of new friends in his new home. Maybe he is busy nursing a squirrel back to health as we speak.


We had a pink flamingo, a ghostly ghoul, Napolean Dynamite, and a witch who walked a cowboy, and a not so happy rocker to take the kids trick-or-treating. The reason this Halloween was so AWESOME!! -- every single costume was recycled. I did not buy, stress, or worry about creating costumes this year - it was by far the most relaxing year ever. WOOHOO!

Lincoln Turned 11!!! Woohoo!!!

Lincoln turned 11 and celebrated with Chicken Squares (don't ask me why my kids go for the typical "Tuesday" night meal instead of the good stuff for birthday meals!), and a Scotcheroo cake. (He also requested donuts for his classroom treat - no typical requests here! ) Lincoln has grown up so much this past year and never ceases to amaze me. He is by far one of the most empathetic and compassionate kids I know - he wears his heart on his sleeve, and I don't know if he will curse me or thank me for that someday. If you see his teacher she is always very quick to say how kind Lincoln is - if only we could get that kindness to extend toward his little brother we would be set! Love you, Linc!

Lincoln Received his Arrow of Light.

Some people count the passing of cub scouts by how many badges they have earned, how many campouts, etc. Not us. Ted and I count down by how many more pinewood derby cars we need to create. But Linc is done. No more cub scouts for Lincoln. He is totally excited - especially for Klondike Derby which is a winter camp that is totally freezing and Ted has to go with him. Man, I love being the mom! :)

But don't worry - Lincoln left cub scouts in December, and Sammy joins in January - just in time for Pinewood Derby! :)