Monday, August 17, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Walking on watermelons

Last weekend Dave took the four oldest boys on a little trip, so we decided it would be a great time to tackle the girls' bedroom. Our goals included: painting walls and ceiling and replacing the carpeting. Those tasks are pretty substantial. But in order to do them, we had to empty the entire room and closet, disassemble and remove the built in bunks and curtain hardware, pull out the old flooring and do some patching and priming.

But typical to our manner of working, we decided to do some preliminary work on the rear (a.k.a. the "yucky bathroom"), which meant disconnecting our front loading washer, and moving all the stuff we store in it to the mudroom. So our laundry was being processed outside on the wringer washer, and every usable nook was used for storing things that could not be in their normal place.

Since Walmart had seedless watermelons for $2 a piece, we had stockpiled a bunch of those on the front porch as well. So, certain of us were literally walking on watermelons! (We don't recommend this though!)

Well, the boys helped with moving the big dresser, and then we bade them goodbye, and got to work. Our girls LOVE power tools!

The pre-painting work went well, but took longer than expected. The girls kept finding long, lost items....

Giddy enjoyed helping (or would that be looting??)...

We sure got our money's worth out of this coat of paint, don't you think?

Further complicating things, our garden was really needing some attention, so we tried to do a batch of salsa.

My hopes to can green beans were happily postponed, so we just froze them.

Joshie spent a lot more time in his high chair, as there were few safe places for him to make his rounds. Sometimes when we are packed like this, we will eat at the dinettes in the bus. Our normal practice of eating outside all summer didn't work during the rainy weekend, though.

After putting a few coats of Kilz on some spots, we painted. The old color was a sunny green color, even in the closet and on the ceiling. The closet is under the stairs, so painting that (which was also green) was pretty time consuming.

The walls went fairly quick.

The carpet was a provision from the Lord...from the side of the road. I found it last summer, very plush, high quality, with pad, and in nearly new condition. No smoke or hair. And, it was pink! So we stored it all winter in the old bus, and then the garage. There was a lot of it, but we did need to do one seam to cover the girls' floor. So, we rented a seam iron. We got some instructions off the internet for installing carpet and doing seams, and Sarah gave them a good read.

The weekend was rainy, so we did everything indoors.

The boys were on their way home by the time we got to the carpet laying part. First step was to install the tackless boards, which actually have tacks....

However, the instructions Sarah had didn't mention that the tacks should point towards the walls, to hold the carpet. So after they had done the whole perimeter, I remembered to tell them, in some literature I had read, that the tacks had to point to the walls! Fortunately, they only had to remove and replace 3 of the strips! All the rest had just happened to be installed correctly!

During most of this time, Abi was hard at work doing all our tons of wash on the wringer washer outside, and Joanna was priming and painting the girls' bunk beds to match the walls. There was no way around re-installing the bunks, but they would look much more "inviting"...

The pad was very high quality, and both carpet and pad was so clean! Abi and Sarah pieced the pad together and stapled it down, taping the seams with duct tape.

After a brief break to clear out the boys' bedroom so they'd have a place to sleep, we were back to the carpet. It was a little hard to find a place outside to lay out and measure the carpet, so we could figure out how to cut it to fit the room. The ground was still wet. And there was no place in the house, obviously. We used a tarp on the grass. Zak helped in cutting the corners of the carpet, so it would lay properly in the bedroom. The whole house was filled with smoke from the seam iron...but Sarah was able to figure it out, and it was securely bonded.

The next step was using the knee-kicker to hook the carpet perimeter onto the tackless strips. That was pretty simple. Sarah got some help from Zak with the tool and cutting. Abi also did quite a bit. Here, Solomon is just enjoying being on the nicest carpeting in our house!

Installing the trim and the threshold for the door gave the room a finished look.

The closet also needed some help. After being painted to match the room, we realized with a couple of inexpensive closet rods placed just so, we could double the amount of storage we had previously (with just one rod). This design used the space under the stairs more effectively.

At the earliest opportunity, the girls had Joshie into the room to try out the new carpet! He enjoyed the nice laminate flooring in the main rooms, but the carpet was such a treat and he crawled happily in circles all over the room!

We had a fair amount of carpet left, even after the closet floor was done, so we decided it would be so nice to do the attic stairs as well! They were painted wood, and were pretty worn and did not look that great. Working late one night (out of necessity, as nobody could use the stairs during the process), Sarah transformed them into a plush, non-squeaky, pink elevated pathway. Dave really enjoys his trot up to the office now!

So, while they are not completely done with everything, the room is mostly put back together, and the sisters are really enjoying the transformation...everyone is!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One for you and one for me

Sammy is plodding along in his reading. We encourage him to sound out words he finds, sometimes with funny results.

We were reading the account of Noah last week, and I could tell Sammy's comprehension is there, as before he finished reading Genesis 7:23, which includes "and Noah only remained alive..." he paused and said, "No, the rest of the people in the ark were alive too." I told him to continue, and it read, "and they that were with him in the ark."

In chapter 7, the text reads, "...and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons..." So we discussed how some words with a f change when you make them plural. We got out his little composition notebook and went to the white board, and I made a little table for him to copy in his book. Singular words with f and then their plurals. We used the words wife, knife, and life.

I explained, "If you have one wife, its spelled with an f, but if you have several wives, its spelled with a v."

With the sense of great injustice, like someone missing out on their brownie after supper, Sammy loudly corrected:

"You can only have ONE wife."

Monday, August 03, 2009

My brother's peepers

Zak had an eye appointment today, as his three year old prescription needed to be revised! Most of the kids are pretty good with their glasses and make them last a long time, with occasional accidents. Zak's lenses had been scratched quite a bit, from the anti-reflective coating (which we no longer specify, as it peels off in tiny scratches and renders the glasses almost useless).

So, the doctor examined Zak's eyes, and then asked if he had any problems. Zak said that about a week ago, his glasses just started working poorly. He couldn't see the leaves on the trees. The doctor asked a strange question...does Zak have any other glasses at home, like his previous pair, that he might accidentally be wearing. No, the previous pair (over 3 years old) had been long retired, and besides, they were a completely different frame style and color.

Well, the reason he asked, the doctor said, was that the glasses Zak was wearing did not match this doctor's previous prescription. He was stumped. We were too. Was an error made three years ago, and all this time, Zak was wearing the wrong prescription?

When a clerk checked the computer, it showed Zak's 3 year old order had been filled for the correct prescription. Yet, the machine which tests eye glasses showed that Zak's glasses did not match that prescription. I was not buying it. They must have made an error.

Then a new detail emerged: on a lark, the clerk discovered that the glasses Zak was wearing were the same prescription as Benjamin's.

Well, at that point, I put two and two together, and though I didn't get four, I was pretty sure I did. I was convinced an error had been made on their part, and that the obvious remedy was for the optometrist's office to give us a free, correct, new pair of glasses for Zak. My suggestion baffled the clerk and the doctor, because,

Zak's prescription was over 3 years old.
Ben's was less than one year old.

Zak was wearing: his brother's peepers.

As Zak and I emitted some embarrassed guffaws, another piece of the puzzle clicked into place : Ben had been struggling for the last WEEK with his glasses. The anti-reflective coating, apparently just in the space of a week, was horribly scratched, and a screw was missing. Two days ago, he had taped the frame to keep his lens in, but it frequently popped out. We hadn't gotten around to finding a eyeglass kit. Since Ben has inherited his father's history of being "hard on glasses", we did not think too much of this. In fact, today I had obtained Ben's written prescription at Zak's appointment, so we could order some $8.00 glasses for him on the internet.

It was humbling.

So, as soon as we arrived home, the brothers met on the porch and hastily exchanged glasses. All at once, they both looked the same and yet saw differently.

We have discovered color-coding toothbrushes, but apparently we may need to apply the principle to other areas of life.