Monday, June 26, 2017

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

I know you've been waiting with bated breath for an update to my curtain post. Good news! I have a picture of the upstairs family room/game room/fun room/loft, whatever we're calling it.

TA DA!

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Every night this week (even without the curtains), we have ended up up there TOGETHER, reading books, doing puzzles, playing games. It's perfectly lovely and a little Leave it to Beaver, but I'm going with it. I'm just so glad we are using that room since it is about 50% of the reason we uprooted the whole family and moved.

Next step: take and print some pictures of the kids who are not Charley and Wes. James counted the pictures of him in the house the other day and it was embarrassing. Mary can't count yet, but there are approximately zero. #fourthbaby

Mary and I picked up that blue table to the right of the couch at a moving sale on Friday and I pieced together the lamp at Goodwill for four bucks, lest you think I have lost my knack for decorating on the cheap.

Also also, I bought that blue coffee table with the cool design painted on it at Salvation Army almost TWENTY YEARS AGO for my DORM ROOM. It was fifteen dollars. That felt like a big decision back then. I decorated my grown up family room based on a fifteen dollar Salvation Army table I bought before I could buy booze.

We went to church Saturday night this week, which left all of Sunday lovely and uncommitted, so we got to see how the other half lives. I started out the day with a long row while Ryan managed things at home. Then he texted me to say that they were all making deviled eggs together and having a fantastic (if weird) time, so I should stay downtown and have breakfast.

Which I did.

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All the best athletes chase their morning workout with a giant cinnamon roll.

And then we spent the afternoon de-funkifying the house, napping, and hanging up curtains, before heading back out for the Concert in the Park.

We would have stayed home because everyone was exhausted except that it was Big Band Night! We bribed them with hamburgers and fries and packed a cooler full of crackers, grapes, and beer. A good time was had by all. Even Mary, eventually, after she slipped on the dance floor (before the band had even started playing) and landed face first, causing her front tooth to start bleeding (the other front tooth, not the one that got hit by a doorknob a month ago and also started bleeding).

They usually dance the whole time we're there, but this time they alternated between lying on the blanket and going inside for drinks of water. But I think they had a good time.

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We love the Concert in the Park so freaking much. I mean, LOOK HOW PRETTY THE VIEW IS! And the music is so well done! It is the SYMPHONY. And the conductor was smiling beatifically at his wife, the jazz singer, the whole time she was singing "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered"! It is the best thing ever. It turns Ryan and me into sappy goofs every time and we always proclaim afterward that we will never ever live in another city ever and if we ever move again it will be to move closer in so we can go to even more of these things.

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There was a pretty rainstorm to watch from a comfortable distance.

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Kids can't walk down the normal part of the stairs. Fortunately this did not end with even more dental damage.

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The walk back to the car is always a scary adventure in herding a pack of free range suburb kids across busy streets. They're getting better.

One week of work left until it is SUMMER. I have a lot of junk to get done. Like a LOT. And I can't find my Yeti. It's like the freaking dark ages over here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's curtains for you!

Ryan sent me out on Father's Day to go buy some curtains for the new house because the new house has unleashed my inner HGTV host (without the enviable toned arms and carpentry skills). Perhaps it's the effect of moving from a house that I'd spent nine years making cozy into a literal blank slate--wood floors, gray walls, no window-treatments to speak of. It's hard for me to not go out and buy a bunch of different color paint (the first house we bought together had so many different bold colors it looked like a Mexican restaurant, I was much more restrained on the last house--my green kitchen will still be my favorite ever). I am trying something new with this house: leaving the walls gray and adding color with things on the wall and now CURTAINS.

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I hung colorful stuff on the wall behind my desk and instantly felt about a thousand times better about this corner of the master bedroom. Also pictured: robin's egg blue curtains, the only curtains that exist in brick and mortar, apparently. Also also pictured: coffee mug, water glass, beer can.

I did not find any curtains I liked after three stores. Apparently, since all houses are now painted gray, all curtains must be either white or robin's egg blue. We already have blue curtains in three rooms, so these choices were unacceptable. And at Target, which has better selection, curtains are sold BY THE PANEL, which is infuriating and stupid and all that is wrong with the world.

Did I mention that I was shopping at 2 pm without having had lunch? Possibly this colored my perception of the scale of the problem.

Instead of curtains I came home with two new tablecloths. Helpful.

Anyway, it all worked out because I went online Sunday night and dropped a quick two hundred dollars on curtains for Mary's room, Wes's room (both on the front of the house, so they really really need some curtains. Charley's room, which is on the first floor and front of the house, got curtains right away because he likes to read well into the night and you can see him from the street) the upstairs living room (what should we call this room? We vascilate between family room, other living room, upstairs living room, fun room, and game room), and the dining room (the DINING ROOM CURTAINS ARE MY FAVORITE. GAHSQUEE what is wrong with me?).

Mama needs some COLOR IN THE HOUSE.

They will all be delivered to my door on the twenty-second and I am waiting with breathless anticipation. Watch out, Ryan. Thursday night will be spent hanging curtain rods, swearing, and stress drinking pinot grigio.

Being this excited about home decor is a new experience for me because usually I like to make incremental improvements with items I buy from Goodwill or find on the curb. Thursday can't come fast enough!

That's a lot of words about curtains. What else have we been up to?

We went to our favorite swimming hole and it was just as great as I remember it. The kids bought giant jawbreakers for the occasion and we listened to Hamilton on the drive there and all of the sudden, as Charley said, "it feels like 2016 again"!

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I forgot how murky the water gets at the end of the day. Will try to remember to go early in the day next time.

Safety first chess happened.

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I took a picture of Millenial baby relaxing at the pool with some sparkling juice and some grape tomatoes, as you do.

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We rediscovered the simple joy of jamming a beer can between your bike frame and your back tire.

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Ryan and I went on a date on Saturday night, thanks to Kids' Night Out at church, which the kids think is just for them to have fun. We started with kimchi fries, had a beer and listened to a bluegrass band, and then went on a huge sweaty bike ride once it got "cooler". We went to our favorite hippie grocery store hangout place and heard a great soul band while we ate dessert. We were nearly late to pick up the kids because we were having such a great time. I really wish there was a babysitter I could have texted. We danced to one more song and then peeled out of the parking lot with fourteen minutes to spare, drove like maniacs, did the fifty yard dash from the parking lot, and arrived at nine ON THE DOT. BOOM. Date night fun maximization: achieved.

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Sweaty selfie!

And if you're wondering how the summer of no structure is going, I will leave you with Exhibit A and let you imagine the kind of morning that necessitated its creation.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

#summer

I've heard it's summer you guys. I mostly have noticed because it's hot outside and freezing inside my office (my new office, since I got involuntarily relocated from my other office a few weeks ago as they prepare to knock down the building). I've been spending a lot of time in there because it's summer research time until the end of June. The kids have been having a blast with a parade of wonderful babysitters who take them to playgrounds and the pool and splashpads and the library. They've had picnics and gone to Lego classes and watched a crapton of TV. #memories.

I can't wait to join them. Only 2.5 more weeks (of cramming about eight weeks of work in, should be NBD).

The summer reading program is MAGICAL. We have never filled out a reading log in our lives (our kids are readers and always have been and we just can't get it together to fill out the damned form every night, so I just explain all that to their teachers and so far they've been willing to deal with this small act of civil disobedience. Probably the crazed look I always have in my eyes.). But now that they know they can earn a pair of sunglasses or a coupon for an ice cream cone every time they read THREE HUNDRED MINUTES, they are OFF TO THE RACES.

Case in point: this morning. Wes has seventy-seven minutes to go before his first prize and he is determined to sneak them in before the sitter gets here at nine. Charley read a hundred and six minutes the evening we returned from signing them up for the program at the library.

Happening now, when they are usually fighting with me about what is an appropriate Netflix choice.

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I might have to get some trinkets from Oriental Trading and see what else they're willing to work for.

Wes has lost approximately all of his top front teeth in the last three months.

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The kids had an adorable birthday party for James's lovey the other night. Here they are playing Duck Duck Goose (as viewed from one of the tiny windows behind our stove which are basically the reason we bought this house).

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Yesterday James had an appointment with the allergist which unexpectedly (should not have been unexpected) resulted in him being tested for allergies. He got thirty-six scratches on his back and eight shots in his right shoulder. Then I bought him this giant ice cream cone. When he got home, he proclaimed it "the best doctor's appointment EVER".

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Speaking of James, a couple of days ago he and I were sitting out front and he wanted to play with some kids. I told him that I saw a family with a bunch of boys on the next culdesac over and suggested he ride his bike the fifty feet down the trail to see if they were out. When he hadn't returned in twenty minutes, I sent Wes after him. When Wes still hadn't come back ten minutes after that, I sent Charley. Then Mary and I walked down the trail to see if we could find them. Wes was coming up the trail the opposite direction and told me he had searched the playground too and hadn't found him. There were no kids out on the street anywhere and James still hadn't checked in. At the forty-five minute mark I freaked out and called Ryan, who ended up finding him playing on the next street over, but on the other end from where I had looked. Ryan told him he had to go home and check in and then I followed him back on my bike to meet the mom. She told me "He saw my son's bike on the driveway and knocked on the door and when I opened it he said 'My mom told me to go find some kids to play with.'"

Fortunately she thought this was awesome and exchanged numbers instead of calling the police. We had a nice conversation and she invited us over for a future dinner, saying "You guys seem really normal. I need more normal people in my life."

Normal for us: I could only find three clean towels Monday night so James and Mary had to share.

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Still reading.

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They've stopped reading now and now they're having a huge fight because Wes licked James's foot. Charley's still asleep.

Gotta get ready for work. Bah.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

3.0

Birthday 3.0, as we're calling it--because Birthday 1.0 included hyper-vigilance over a wheezing child, a botched movie outing, canceled date plans, and an hour late Chinese food order--was on Tuesday last week and it did NOT disappoint. Birthday 2.0, if you are wondering, is the day I bought myself a beautiful lunch and a slice of pie at work and then treated myself to a half hour on the rowing machine in the afternoon.

My wonderful friends and I went out to celebrate my twelfth birthday in style, by going out for pizza, beer, and rainbow cake, and then going rollerskating. The pizza place was super crowded and I spotted an open table and ran to get it only to meet up with some forty something male privilege type who put his sunglasses down on my table in a most infuriatingly casual way. I said, slightly too forcefully, "Come on, man! It's my birthday!" but he stood his ground. Fortunately the family next to that table was also leaving so he got to sit elbow to elbow with us and our rainbow cake and boozy oversharing for the rest of the evening. CHECK. MATE.

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The dude in the red shirt learned a lot about *that scene* between Frank Underwood, Meachem, and Claire. You know which one I mean.


My friend Kelly drove my minivan from dinner to the rink, because reasons.

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I pointed out that I was pretty sure I hadn't picked up my back medication on my way to my real twelfth birthday!

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Ladies' fast skate occurred right after we arrived at the rink and Kelly and I were feeling competitive. I had to sit down halfway through because my twelve year old self didn't skate after drinking two beers and eating half a pizza.

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We skated for three hours and just before we left my friend Vicki asked them to play some Paula Abdul for me. The hipster DJ made a snotty remark, but did it anyway (#grownuppower) and I made my last few laps around the rink to "Straight Up", having the TIME of my LIFE. Ryan took the kids to camp the next morning and I was BELTING IT OUT by myself in my empty house.

Friday night we went to my friend's daughter's senior viola recital, which was downtown at a church. The recital was breathtaking. It was such a treat. Charley and Wes both yelled "ENCORE!" when it was over. Mary (and Ryan) missed most of the second half because she was being really obnoxious, but managed to rally for the reception afterward and eat three cupcakes and a handful of cheese. Later we walked out of the church and Mary sighed and said dreamily "That was a fun party!"

When we got out to the street to head to the car, we realized that the ROT Rally, a huge gathering of leather and spike-clad motorcycle drivers, was happening right outside. It's just the type of usually fine, but sometimes not so wholesome event you want to stumble upon with your four children at nine thirty at night.

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Two of many, MANY motorcycles.

Today after church we took a picnic to the hippie grocery store for some coffee and playground. Two minutes after I took this serene, gloaty picture Wes and Mary got into a cat fight inside the playhouse and had to be extricated. #karma

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Albuterol and Topo Chico

We kicked off summer "break" with a week of cobbled-together childcare and haphazard work days necessitated by the fact that the kids' school gets out a week before everyone else's and no camps are open. Tuesday they were on campus with me and a girl who goes to high school at their school, who was also out. They had a great time, but she had to leave at 1:45 and then I had to abruptly leave a meeting right in the middle when I could HEAR them through the wall. I'd left them in the kids' book room of the library but apparently five thousand books weren't enough to keep them occupied for an entire hour and they somehow unearthed a box of animal masks, which meant naturally that it was time to run around the room screeching like falcons, attacking prey, and other hilarity.

Other things that have happened... Monday I started the day with a vigorous row and coffee with my boatmates, followed by forcing the kids to straighten up their rooms and a cookout with friends.

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We had a fancy dinner party.

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My friend Rosa gave me the Birds of North America poster I've had my eye on, which gave me the motivation to finish cleaning up the dining room. It makes me so happy.

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I bought a desk on Craigslist, uncharacteristically ending up with a giant contemporary metal and wood monstrosity instead of the tasteful traditional model I was hunting for. They threw in the lamp for five bucks. I really love this corner.

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Had a bit of a scary moment with James Wednesday night, when I got home to find him draped on the couch feeling punky. The babysitter had given him some Benadryl for a cough (after texting me). I made him a doctor's appointment for that evening and busied myself with dinner, only to find him breathing rapidly and unwilling to come to dinner when it was done. Ryan had just gotten home and I threw James and a bowl of dinner in the car and told him to GO. The receptionist heard him breathing and sent him right back. Three breathing treatments, two chest x-rays, and a dose of oral steroids later the doctor shrugged her shoulders and sent him home with a lunch bag full of albuterol. When he got home for his fourth breathing treatment he told me cheerfully that he'd had to do it three times at the doctor's office because "I didn't know I was supposed to breathe it in the first two times."

He's been on oral steroids ever since and they make him COMPLETELY INSANE. My friend Heather stopped by to drop off her pulse oximeter just in time to see him throw an epic tantrum about not getting to play outside, which ended when he ran out the front door and tried to sink his teeth into a wooden pillar on our front porch. Bonus, his oxygen level was 99% after all that screaming! Today after lunch he ran around the first floor screeching MOO COW MOO COW MOO COW before attempting to sit in a chair, missing, and falling to the ground, still screaming MOO COW. Today was his last dose. It'll be good to take it down a notch. Or seven.

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He is feeling better now and I'll be looking forward to talking to the allergist next week.

Saturday we took the kids to a free kayaking clinic at the lake.

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It was for ages 6-10, but one of the counselors took Mary out with her.

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(Bit of an awkward moment when Mary refused to get in a boat with the first parson who offered, a perfectly nice guy named Alex, but FLUNG HERSELF into the boat with Megan)

James and two other kids had to be towed back to the dock (because otherwise we'd still be there waiting for them, not because of the breathing issues).

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I showed the kids how to row.

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And then we happened upon the public opening party for a new sculpture. Ryan had run to get us all some breakfast tacos because we were both getting nervous that the kids were about to get hangry, but when he returned he found all five of us lounging in the grass drinking free Topo Chicos and listening to music. The kids managed to steal like fourteen coozies and three high end bottles of water each, not to mention the armloads of popcorn. There was cold brew for the adults (Me: Ryan, I'm going to go get a cold brew, want one? Ryan: [surprised slash judgy] No, it's a little early for me. Me: It's *COFFEE*. Ryan: Oh.).

And today we went to church. Rock and Roll Church to be exact (the Rock and Roll Church at the church we already go to. This feels like a big change, but it's really not). The kids did their part by ditching the sweater vests and rolling up their sleeves. Mary paired her sundress with cowboy boots. I wore skinny jeans. IT WAS MADNESS.

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We're going back next week. Everyone loved it.

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When I was a kid we couldn't even *clap* in church.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Up up and away

This morning I dropped all four kids off at the sidewalk leading to the Sunday School building. Two of them spilled out of the car carrying their shoes under their arms. James helpfully offered to drop Mary off. I try to avoid walking the puppies across the crazy parking lot because it's hard and scary, so I typically drive them to the sidewalk. But I've never dropped Mary off like that. And normally they have their shoes on. It probably looked like I was surrendering them.

Later during the service, Wes managed to get himself stuck in a folding chair (our church has movie theater chairs in the back, which I hate because the kids can't sit in them normally (SPOILER ALERT). I was already kind of annoyed and willing myself to calm down and enjoy the music (it was a special music Sunday) when I looked over to see Wes looking at me with tears in his eyes, willing himself not to cry, which must have been hard because HIS ENTIRE LOWER BODY WAS STUCK IN A CHAIR. His legs, which were bent sideways at the knee, were jammed down inside behind the folding seat of the chair. The music was so pretty as I tried to wrench him free. He wouldn't budge. As quietly as I could I motioned to my friend Rosa that I needed her to send her husband up to help me. Unfortunately, they couldn't figure out what I was saying. Fortunately, Wes somehow got himself free while I pulled on his upper body. I tried to stomp out of the sanctuary in a huff, but the kids were confused and no one followed me. I reluctantly sat back down. I'm glad I stayed because Charley got WAY INTO the African-American spirituals were were hearing.

The music was the best. But I was a giant stressball. Naturally I self-medicated when I got home.

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We watched a ton of TV and then I told the kids to get the heck outside and run around. Mary came back in shortly afterward because she got hit in the mouth with a doorknob and we distracted her on the couch with an ice pack and some (more) TV. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I turned around to find Wes getting his TV fix from the window (CREEPY).

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We brought the old couch to the new house finally and put it upstairs in the second living area, which we think of as the kid living area and it looks weirdly tiny. It's a really cozy room now. The kids and I did stories on the couch up there tonight and it was the best.

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Last night I went to my friend's graduation party and came home with a big box of mini sandwiches that I packed up after she encouraged me to take some leftovers. #noshame

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Charley and I ate all of these for lunch.

OH, and did I mention? Friday I got back after spending a week in El Paso LAUNCHING WEATHER BALLOONS.

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It was such a cool workshop. And El Paso is lovely. The mountains were the best. I had no idea. You can even see Mexico from parts of the campus. Incredible place. Really great data discussions every day and of course, we launched weather balloons.

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Mexico

And after five years of hurricane fieldwork, which often involved wet clothes, long days with no electricity, and fire ants, a field project where you can have warm cookies delivered to the launch site was downright refreshing.

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They asked for volunteers to keep an eye on the equipment between launches so they wouldn't have to break it all down. We were happy to oblige.

And now I'm feeling all nice and motivated to power through the rest of my six week summer research time. And the kids get out of school in FOUR DAYS. Let that sink in. Gah. I'm trying not to let it sink in too much because then I would panic about how I DON'T HAVE CHILDCARE LINED UP FOR NEXT WEEK. I'm sure something will come up. Like my blood pressure.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Alert: WE HAVE TV AGAIN

I picked the kids up at 3:30 like always and somehow we made it three more hours before James calmly announced to us after dinner "Guys, I have something I want to tell you." and when we all stopped talking and looked at him he said "I went up a level in reading to a Level C." We immediately jumped out of our chairs and showered him in hugs and kisses while he did this cute little giggle thing he does when he's proud. Last night he did it when he made it through a whole Scooby Doo book by himself and Wes got so excited for him he gave him a huge bear hug. He's been working hard all year and we are so excited for him.

Also, on Friday, I was supposed to pick Charley up for a doctor's appointment at 11:30, but after sitting through 40 minutes (normally 10 mins) of traffic due to SIX BRUSH FIRES that started on the side of the EXACT SAME stretch of highway I needed, grabbing Charley at a run, and careening across town, I got a call that I had made a mistake and the appointment was at 1:30 instead. Naturally I took Charley for a taco and then ran him back to school for an hour and a half. The good news about that is that I got to see James's diorama presentation that I thought I would have to miss. He was SO SURPRISED when I walked into the classroom.

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Also on Friday: the kids and I checked out the pool for an hour and then went home for pizza and a movie. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief and contentment when I fired up the TV and our four-week Jobian struggle with no TV was over.

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As we were leaving the pool James said "When we get home can we put on our jammies and get all cozy and watch a movie?! OOH, maybe it will RAIN! That would be the BEST!" Also when I posted this picture on FB everyone was like "Hey! That's a nice room!" and I was like "YOU GUYS. FOCUS. THE *TV* IS BACK.

Saturday was graduation! I love graduation.

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I thought we could have a lazy Saturday afternoon after that but by four o'clock James and Wes were literally beating each other (with pool noodles) while Mary jumped up and down and screamed while waving a cinnamon raisin bagel at me (presumably because she wanted me to toast it? I'm not sure because I refused to try and guess until she CTF down, which didn't happen until she fell asleep several hours later). I had just finished screaming for everyone to get in the damned car and was completely out of sorts when I emerged blinking onto my driveway still barking orders about the car and the pool bag when our new neighbor approached me to tell me he'd paid his lawn guy to do our yard too as a welcome to the neighborhood gesture. SO NICE. I made sure to thank him a second time this afternoon when I was slightly less wild-eyed and sweaty.

Kids and I did a little grocery shopping after church on Sunday.

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And then we went back to the pool because it's like four-hundred feet away from the new house and it's the only thing Charley's allowed to do that everyone else enjoys (I was dying to take them to see Beauty and the Beast but Mary is kind of a handful in movie theaters).

Sunday afternoon we went to Ryan's choir concert at church, which the kids found particularly enthralling.

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And today worked started back up for summer resesarch, which means last week was the least relaxing "break" EVAR.

I also rowed this morning, which meant that I got up at 4:45 and so am feeling QUITE tired. So I will see YOU later.