Thursday, December 16, 2010

United in Nerddom

Middle and the Teen are having a rare moment of brotherly love and bonding.

They're crashed out in the wreckage that was once our living room watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail together.

It came from Netflix today. I figured it would be a welcome diversion from Little's lessons on the Middle Ages, which is where we're at in his history curriculum. But when Middle and the Teen opened the envelope and found it there, they uncovered the TV, propped it up on the kiddie table, hooked up the DVD player, and created their own little home theater.

I've never heard the two of them laugh so hard - or get along so well - for this extended period of time together. It's like they're actually enjoying being in the same room together.

Never have I met two kids as different as these guys - but somehow they're both nerdy enough to know all the good quotes from this movie, and they're laughing and reciting them as they watch.

Hey, whatever. I'll take it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Day 3

More drywall work and paint prep.

Janet called from the Discount Home Supply store today.

"Do you trust me?"


"There's a counter / sink here that looks perfect for your powder room. It's $79 and you know I'm trying to keep your costs down in that room..."

"Buy it."

"I thought you'd say that. There's also a piece of flooring I like..."

"I trust you. Buy it."

I love working with Janet. Just having someone else doing all the shopping, making all the decisions, worrying about what's going to look good with what and how much it's going to cost - it makes her so worth what we're paying her.

I have enough stress in my life, and I am happy to say that this has not added to it at all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Day 2

The carpet is gone. So is the sofa and the stuff from the bathroom.

More drywall work today, and caulking started on the wood.

The boyz and I are starting to feel a little cooped up, being restricted to the living and dining areas - of course, they keep going to check on the progress and "help" when they can.

Middle and I spent a few hours at the dojang working out, which was good for both of us.

Tomorrow I believe paint will be involved. And Janet will be back.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 1

The electrician and the drywall guy were here today.

They gutted the bathroom, wired up the light fixtures, replaced all the outlets and switches, and repaired the drywall that needed to be cut in the process. Plus the drywall repairs that were already needed.

Janet also started sticking paint chips all over the walls and getting a feel for the colors she likes for us.

Janet rocks.

Our family room will soon also rock.

Of course, now our living and dining room are a mess, but I guess that goes with the territory.

The family room furniture goes out to the curb tomorrow morning. You're welcome to take it if you like.

Also our old toilet, sink, counter and vanity.

I can't begin to express how ecstatic I am about all of this.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let the Renovation Begin!

Tomorrow morning, our Design Contractor and her Team will be here to rip apart our family room and powder room.


It's like Extreme Makeover, SavageHome Edition around here.

Janet shows us pictures of 6 overhead lights she thinks will coordinate with our dining room light. We eliminate 4. We let her choose the best of the remaining 2.


She shows us 4 ceiling fans. We let her pick.


She tells us what kind of toilet is best - one she's installed many times before.


She gives us a choice of two faucet styles. We pick.


Six carpet samples. She already knows which one she likes - we agree.


Get the picture?

If you know Savageman, and the epic nature of any small decision the two of us try to make together... you will understand why I am so tickled to have Janet setting the pace and guiding the process.

Cleaning out the room tonight - the Team arrives at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Roller Rink

I took Middle, Little, and 4 of their martial arts friends roller skating tonight. I was looking forward to it - I really enjoyed skating with them last year - but last year, we didn't have Little along.

Poor Little. I've been trying to teach him to skate on ice or wheels since he was two. This fearless little bear will try anything - but attempt to make his feet slippery and he's done. Every time we've tried, he's transformed into a flopping, flying mass of arms and legs that repeatedly hits the ground (or ice) hard - until he says "Forget this noise" and sits down to watch everyone else's slippery fun.

Tonight was no exception. We gave it about an hour - just in the snack bar / arcade area with me right there with him (in my shoes) - but it was clear that it just wasn't going to happen.

Meanwhile, Middle and his pals were zipping and dancing and zooming all over the place with ease.

We took Little's skates off and he was wandering around the snack bar in his socks - when The Man came over and told us he had to have skates on. Figuring there was a rule against stocking feet, I asked if we went to get his shoes, would be able to get the skates back later for him to try again? -and The Man explained that if he put shoes on, he would have to leave.


"I'm here and I have shoes on. Why don't I have to leave?"

"You're a parent. The kids have to be wearing skates."

"But he's falling all over the place. Skating's just not his thing."

"Then he'll have to sit here in his skates. I can't have a hundred kids hanging around without skates on. No exceptions."


Rules are rules. We put the skates back on. He sat. And sat. And got bored. And got up to stumble around and watch his brother and friends skate. Then he stumbled over to play Skee Ball. Then he stumbled to the water fountain. Then he stumbled to the arcade games.

While I'd like to say that he ended up finally learning to skate tonight... he didn't.

But he's a little better at stumbling around on wheels than he was when he got there. He learned to slow down quite a bit, for starters. And hold on to stuff.

Sigh... glad it will be a while before we try this again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fireplace NIght

We had our first fireplace night of the winter tonight.

The boyz went Christmas caroling with Scouts. I stayed home and decluttered the pantry. And the 'fridge.

But when we were all together again, we lit a fire (no gas logs here - we still use real wood) and spent the evening in front of it with good music playing in the background.

Savageman did a crossword puzzle for a while. I talked to my cousin on the phone and played Blokus for a while. Little had me read Anne of Green Gables to him while Middle and Savageman played Scrabble. (They're still playing, and it's almost midnight. Middle is hard-core.) The Teen is finishing To Kill a Mockingbird and came down with it for a little while.

I've been a little bummed that I'm not testing for my yellow belt tomorrow morning, but our night in front of the fire was cheerful and relaxing.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Saying Goodbye

My Bradley class ended tonight.

For the last 12 Thursdays, I have bonded with these wonderful couples, helping them to prepare for the most momentous experience of their lives - the birth of their first child.

Three out of the five couples were planning a homebirth. Actually four, but one mom developed complications and needed to deliver at the hospital. She did fine, though - they brought their new baby to visit with us last week, which I'm sure was very motivational for the other couples.

The second couple to leave us had their baby a few days ago - a wonderful homebirth attended by one of my close friends.

Another couple had to miss our last class for their hospital tour.

So tonight it was just me and the last two homebirthing couples - and they are so calm and prepared, they really didn't need much from me tonight, so we mainly watched videos and talked about their homebirth plans and baby care.

We finished as we usually do, with a long relaxation practice - dim lights, relaxing music, some guided imagery from Mind Over Labor. I love this part of the class - it's so peaceful and serene guiding them into a deep state of relaxation, then basking in it with them until the music ends. I'm always reluctant to break the spell by turning on the lights and bringing them back to reality. I remind them that they can go right back to this feeling when they get home to bed, but they always chuckle, like that's not completely realistic.

Wait until they're preparing for their second child.

In any case, I'm sad to see my class end. It will be nice to have my Thursday nights back - but not really.

I'm glad I'm starting another class in January.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


The living room has the piano and other musical instruments in it, in addition to the good stereo / sound system.

Also, a CD tree that keeps getting knocked down and only holds about 1/1000 of our CDs, a whole lot of martial arts weapons and yoga mats, and currently a pile of Geo Trax and blocks.

We got these two awesomely comfy chairs from my aunt and uncle. They're great, but I think they're headed for the rec room in the basement.

Our dining room, which I actually love, except it's been taken over by piles of the kids' homeschooling crap everywhere.

It was all supposed to stay contained in this small cabinet, but that wasn't quite realistic.

Our family room - newly painted, and much better now that the dark wood is all white, but it's still not functional. There's no home for the toys that keep migrating here, and the furniture and art is a hodgepodge of stuff we picked up cheap or free in the grad school days. The carpet is downright nasty, the current TV situation = too small, too high, too sloppy.

Our sofa and chair - again, inherited from family and starting to fall apart after years of abuse at the hands of little boys. And pets. The chair on the right is a dumping ground for anything people carry into the house.

My filing system.

My other filing system.

See our old kitchen table there? That's my desk. The only place in the house I can truly call my own. And it's a mess. Like the bar above it that everyone dumps their crap on all the time.

And both those ancient brassy light fixtures? Soon to be gone.

So, what's the plan?


First, the living room. Paint. Hardwood floor. The far wall covered floor to ceiling with a unit containing a desk area, cabinets, filing drawers and shelves. Two smaller chairs. Instruments (and weapons?) mounted on the wall.

Paint and hardwood in the entryway, and new carpet runner and banister for the stairs. Maybe a new front door and a new light fixture.

The dining room. More hardwood floor. Floor to ceiling corner cabinet where the white thing was. Attractive sideboard where the homeschooling crap is. Which may include a coffee bar area. :-) Paint - possibly buttery yellow.

The kitchen. More hardwood floor. New brushed nickel light fixture to match the one in the dining room. Getting rid of the yellow paint. Decluttering.

The family room. Touching up the white wood. New carpet. Cabinets where the desk / table is now. Ceiling fan / different lighting. Larger TV in a corner unit. Sectional sofa.

Powder room. Paint. New floor, toilet, counter, sink.

And Savageman? Totally on board.

All of this = Happy me! :-)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It Begins!

Speaking of "popping by," our new Design Contractor stopped in today.

She dropped off six boxes, which we are to fill. The next time she sees us, she will be putting the boxes in her car to take up to Goodwill. She warned us that six boxes is just for starters, and reassured us that we would come to get used to, and begin to actually enjoy, the feeling of releasing the burden of all this extra stuff.

Her assistant spent about an hour wandering around with a tape measure, taking detailed measurements of every square inch of our kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, powder room, and hall closet.

She's coming back tomorrow with samples - carpet, flooring, paint, fabric, cabinetry... it's quite the renovation she has in mind.

Very exciting, if we can make it happen.

Will try to post the "before" pictures ASAP.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Tribal Day

Back in the La Leche League days, another Leader and I were discussing the importance of moms-at-home, particularly ones with young children, getting out regularly and being with other moms. We reasoned that in traditional cultures, it would be unheard of for a mom and her baby to be cooped up all day in her own hut. Women passed their time together, weaving baskets, tanning leather, tending their children - doing whatever it was the womenfolk of the Tribe needed to be doing. It's how we're built, and it was something we knew that we were lacking.

Thus was born Tribal Day. I think I coined the term, (but it felt like it was usually held at her house.) Once a week, one of us would open our home for friends, neighbors and LLL moms to drop in. We'd put coffee and maybe a pot of soup on, some people would show up with something to share, and we would spend the day in each other's company, just talking, laughing sharing stories and ideas, commiserating over this or that, or even just taking a rest while someone else held the baby for a change.

Never did we need that more than in the winter, when the days were dark and cold, and the idea of bundling the kids up and sending them outside for long stretches was just too overwhelming. The atmosphere in that crowded kitchen, dining, and living room was warm and welcoming and provided such a contrast to a cold, bitter day outside. We usually had a large turnout.

We used to say, wouldn't it be nice if people felt comfortable just dropping in anytime? Why set aside one day? We both wanted to create the kind of atmosphere where people felt they could just pop by for a cup of coffee and gather spontaneously. Anything we were busy with could usually wait. We wouldn't worry about if the house was clean, we'd keep some snacks or soup materials handy and we'd encourage people (and each other) to just pop by.

But that really didn't happen much. In our culture, people "pop by" less and less, unfortunately.

I was happy to have had my own little Tribal Day today. There were only four of us, plus one cute preschooler, but there was soup and bread and coffee and brownies and it was a warm and wonderful way to spend a cold and windy afternoon.

I'm reminding myself to do that more often as winter sets in.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

Little has been reading to me from my Nook every day.

The little guy who was having a hard time reading this:

Mac, the pup, naps.
In his nap he acts.
He acts as if he were a man.
He acts as he naps.

a few months ago

is now reading things like this:

Sunlight poured into the room. Through tall windows, the kids could see treetops across Main Street.

Dink looked around the room. The walls were covered with paintings, and he'd never seen so many books!

Mrs. Spivets came in carrying a tray. "Please sit," she told the kids. She handed each of them a glass of milk. Her husband bustled in with a cookie jar shaped like a rooster. He pulled off the rooster's head.

"Cookie?" he said.

Amazing. The cyberschool people had labeled him "at risk" and wanted to start special ed services for him, but we kept reassuring them that when he was ready, he'd do it all at once, just like he has with everything else - doing a puzzle, riding a bike, writing his name... all of that. The next time he reads for his teacher conference, she's going to be stunned.

Little is very comfortable with himself - and he's perfectly happy not knowing how to do something - until he decides he needs to know how to do it. Then he wants to work on it all the time until he reaches the level he wants to reach.

This Education-Through-Fits-And-Starts approach can be a little unsettling at times, but it's so gratifying to see how he takes off once he decides it's time.

Now, if only he'd decide he needs to start paying attention in martial arts class...

Saturday, December 04, 2010

At the Cafe

Drinking a big Starbuck's iced tea.

Reading this book about this guy.


I have a knot in my stomach, my mouth is hanging open, my toes are curling, my heart is pounding.

I can't. Even. Imagine.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Peaceful Calm

I spent a short while in the home of a good friend last night. We sat on cushions in front of the fireplace and ate hearty homemade soup and bread. It was such a cozy, peaceful, welcoming space - fragrant with Nag Champa and pleasantly cluttered with artwork, little Buddhist statues, pretty lamps and tables, and an affectionate cat. It was the kind of room you enter and let out a deep, relaxed sigh. We ate and talked and I let myself soak in her healing magic.

I left feeling centered and renewed. Took that same peace to my childbirth class, where I tried to pass it along to my pregnant couples. Took it home to deal with a situation with the Teen, who could use some help finding his own center. Took it to bed with Savageman with a glass of wine and some soulful music.

Lo and behold, it's still here this morning. Nag Champa burning, good music on Pandora, warm coffee and time to myself. Writing in my Gratitude Journal. Breathing. Feeling healthy and whole.

My elbows feel better. Unbelievable, since I thought the extra martial arts and kickboxing would actually make them worse. And they're not just a little better - they're almost completely better. Just like that.

I feel strong. I had no intention of testing for my yellow belt next week, but now I'm considering it after all.

My goal for today is to sustain this feeling, and to pass it along. And to look for ways to make my own home that cozy and welcoming.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

History: The Story of US

The Savage Schoolhouse is all about American History this week.

Thanks in large part, to this video series.

So far, we've learned about the Revolutionary War; today's episode is on Westward expansion.

The next two are on the Civil War, and after that they continue to hit the highlights of American History all the way through the Sept 11th attacks.

For the last two years, it's been like pulling teeth to get Middle to study history. I've tried different curriculua, historical fiction, kids' books, adult books... with no luck.

But this week, he and Little have been glued to this series. They've been writing about what they've learned and I'm using the companion website to supplement the video.

So glad we finally did this. I'm enjoying it as much as they are.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hello December

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Well, it will be later on this month. But not yet.

This whole starting the Christmas Season the day after Thanksgiving - it just leaves us burnt out by the time the actual holiday rolls around.

So I prefer to stay in denial for another 3 weeks. So do the kids. During the many hours we spend driving around in the car each week, I've had to play CDs instead of the radio. Yes, they would actually prefer Indigo Girls over Christmas Carols until about December 18. This would really rock their world. But I'm not that evil. >:-)

The decorating, list making, cookie baking, shopping, carol singing... we're just not ready for all that yet - much to the frustration of those people in our lives who like to get their shopping done early (sorry Mom!) Have I mentioned that they're not materialistic kids?

Middle has started thinking about it - but I don't see him putting down his iPod for anything other than the most mandatory of schoolwork, martial arts, and bathing. And the only reason for the last two is that something Bad might happen to it. An iTunes card is probably all he needs.

Little told me this morning he wants an egg poacher for Christmas. Glad to have that taken care of.

The Teen will likely be happy with clothes. Now that he finally has a cell phone, his life is complete.

I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid and marveling at how spare the Christmas gifts were back then, and how thrilled they were to receive... an orange. It's all about expectations and perspective. I honestly think these guys would rather have one thing they want and will actually use than the mounds of packaged stuff made in China that we wind up piling up under the tree just so that they will have Stuff to open Christmas morning.

Oh, and they genuinely enjoy picking out, paying for, wrapping, and presenting a gift or two to each other. Which is sweet. I do like that part, even if it is crap from China.

Okay, back to business. Little is making French Toast and I think it's almost done.