Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sump Pump, part deux

Nothing like shared misery. 

Any of you who have had to deal with a failed sump pump just did a groan over that title. 

Most of you know that I was signed up to do Bike to the Bay last weekend. I don't need to rehash that as you can scroll further down and read about it yourself. Here's part of the story you don't know, because it hadn't happened yet.

Last Friday night I drove my car, full of camping gear (to be explained in another post) to the end of the bike event and we drove Dada's car back, backtracking the route we would be biking Saturday. Midway through the fifty mile route he receives a phone call from our renter.

All of you have figured out where this is going.

Our renter was heading out of town for two weeks on Saturday. Friday night, while we were en route on our next day's bike route, he discovered the sump pump had died and there were two inches of water all across the basement floor. Seeping into the drywall. Soaking baseboards. Generally up to no good.

So we scrap the last fifth-ish of the bike route to check it out. Then followed a trip to Lowe's for a new sump pump and other assorted supplies. Calls to neighbors to see who has a squeegee since we didn't think about that while in Lowe's. Old towels? Company, since misery loves it?

Out with the old sump pump, in with the new. Water draining, situation assessed, keys exchanged, condolences shared. We drive home. We kiss the sleeping kids and discuss tomorrow morning drop off plans. 

We stumble into bed just before midnight on a day before we need to be up at about 5:30 so we can finish prepping for and traveling to the start of a fifty mile bike ride. 

"I only laugh when I think of my life." -Joe Grippo

Since then, Dada has been to the rental house at least six times and I've been there at least three times to empty dehumidifiers, reposition fans, rip out the wet drywall, beg neighbors to let us finish filling their trash cans with bags of drywall and insulation and drywall screws and nails and mess, spray the studs and baseboards with bleach water, shop vac sweeping, etc. Some of you know exactly what all that looks like because you've lived it. Thankfully there was no carpet to deal with or drowned sofas, electrical outlets were all high above the water and the seepage, and the renters are out long enough to get a very good start on the tear out-clean up-fix-redo.

Life is messy.

Anyone know a guy whose life passion is to cut/install/mud/sand/paint drywall? Send 'em thisaway. 

That sound of horse lips you just heard...

Yes, that would have been me. Followed by a groan of, "No. Noooooo, no, no, NO." Not quite of the intensity of Brendan Frasier's character, Monty, in one of my all time favorite movies, "With Honors", but close. 

Today has involved two loads of laundry, weeding the landscaping out front, a trip with two children to the grocery store (use your imagination here and you'll be just about right on), picking up dog poop (our dog weighs usually in the 95-103 range, so again, a little imagination ought to do the trick), watering the gardens because though rain was yet again predicted I only felt about 7 sprinkles, pruning dead limbs off trees out back, making lunch and dinner, dropping and picking off a child for a playdate, bathing another child, and now, voila, a chance to sit down and blog about the Bike to the Bay experience.


Except, wait for it, the pictures that were uploading in the proper order from my phone have not materialized. No draft. No photos. No post-waiting-in-the-wings. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

What about compatible technology? What about the part where technology is supposed to make our lives easier? Hasn't that been said since, oh, I don't know, around the time my parents were ten year olds?! What the *fill in your own imaginative words here. Mine fail me*?

And I was all comfy on the porch swing, too. And of course my phone isn't out here with me so I could try again. Naturally one child is on the Wii and quiet for the first time since he's been awake today so I could do this post. This nonexistent post. 


"He said to go back to the beginning. This is where we got the job, so it's the beginning. I am waaaaaaiiiiting for Vezziiiini." I am full of Princess Bride quotes.

Except Vezzini is not coming to help. I'll have to get off my big girl bum and go find my phone and figure out the photos and do it myself.

Darn it, Deloris.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hooey and Hogwash, and MS Bike to the Bay

Get comfy. This is a long rant. You've been warned.

I'd like to address the nonsense that the "experts" spout about "you'll have more energy if you exercise." Has anyone found this to actually be true in their lives? 

Dada and I have been getting up at 5:30 in the morning. In the morning. Five thirty. In the A.M. To exercise.

It all started because he signed up to do a Tough Mudder with his friend Theresa from work and Andrew, her boyfriend. Apparently it's a race with mud and yuck and obstacles. Sounds like a super fun time for the competitive and in shape. I, however, have seen pictures and thanks, but no thanks. 

At any rate, I started to rise and shine early with him so we could ride our bikes in the basement on the trainers we'd bought previously. Hello, we live in Ohio where conditions are not always conducive to riding bikes outside. There are things called Elements and Nature and Weather happening out there. Hence the trainers. I got up with him to help keep him motivated to prepare for his race. Like lots of us, he is more likely to stick with something if he's not doing it all alone. More fool me.

His team has a blast at the Tough Mudder (here is an excellent photo of him with Andrew on his back for the Hero Carry. This is where I mention that Andrew both towers over him and outweighs him.) He told us all about the mud, the obstacles that made me think of American Ninja Warrior, the dangling electric cables, the mud, the walls to climb and help others over, the mud...

All photo credits to Tough Mudder and their crew. I had nothing to do with it.

I'm glad he had a good time and that he finished and that it was an exciting, successful experience for him. I have no problem playing in the mud or contributing in ropes course-style activities like the wall to get yourself and your team over. Where I break down is that it's competition. I have no competitive bones in this middle aged body of mine. I never have. I tend to shut down when the challenge is thrown down.

So it was with great consternation that I received the news about him signing us (us means him and me) up to do the MS Bike to the Bay the last weekend in June. People, that's next weekend! 

"There's a team from work doing it. I only signed us up for the 50 mile part." 

Um, excuse me? Fifty MILES!? On a bicycle?! Have you met this wife with whom you've been living for the past eighteen years?

As Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, "let me 'splain... no, there is too much. Let me sum up."

First off, I own a Schwinn. From Walmart. It's the bike my BFF Lisa recommended when we were looking into bikes roughly a hundred years ago, perhaps when he was looking into doing some triathalons, also with Theresa. Hmm. Methinks Theresa is going to end up on my list for inciting him in his troublemaking ways...

Second, I hadn't been on a bike out on a road since Damon (who just turned 7, so let's do some math) was small enough to fit into the baby seat on the back of said Schwinn. Even then, it was usually during Dada's lunch break so it was fast rides down the street, crossing the street to lap the apartment complex a time or two and then re-cross the street back to our subdivision. It's been awhile since I was ten and zooming around Institute Hill on my old 10 speed named "Speedy". And even then, Lisa and I were much more inclined to walk everywhere than take our bikes. It made getting home before blue dark a little more challenging if we cut it too close, but there you are.

Third, even though Bike to the Bay is a fundraiser and not a race there will be people there who know what they're doing and are competitive and who will not be afraid to run me down. My aunt Sue once made me a T-shirt with a tire track running across it and the caption read, "drive-by shirting", which I thought was a hoot. Now I'm envisioning bike tracks up the back of me.

Fourth, hello, a Schwinn!? We took it to the bike shop to see other options and I'm not kidding when I tell you the other bikes laughed at my poor bike when I strolled it in. So, I've done some test-riding of other brands and styles and holy cow, I am impressed, I have to say, by the thought and attention to detail going into bike making these days. I'd never considered the fact that women might have a lot of length in their legs but have shorter arm reaches which affects how well you can reach the brakes which are on your handlebars! That's a terrifying thought. And I don't even get on my bike right or brake right or stop right, according to the professionals at the bike shop. Good grief. So everything I've been doing since I learned to ride is essentially wrong. 

And I'm supposed to do fifty miles!?

"Uh, well, then, it would also be fifty miles back to the car the next day. You know, once we're done and have had a nice dinner and camped out."

And here is the part where I point out that while I am not competitive, I am also not confident in my math skills. However, I do know that fifty plus fifty is one hundred and I most certainly will not be able to to one hundred miles in two days. One hundred miles. These people are crazy.

Where was I? Fifth, practice. Okay, so we'll be riding on actual roads (all this intel keeps leaking in slowly but surely) and not on, say, a bike path like a rails-to-trails deal. Great. So I'll have traffic to deal with (and that'll be point six.) We get on the bike trail and the first time on a bike that we do any distance we do about 10 miles. The next time is 17 miles. Improving, sure, but 17 is not 50. Not even half of 50, actually. The third time we take to the streets and pull off 27 miles, the last fourth of which I spend sobbing and snotting and I can't even let go of my handlebars long enough to effectively wipe my nose because I'm on a friend's bike and it feels like it's got a mind of its own and I'd rather have several hundred pounds of horse under me than this flimsy contraption that is just waiting to send me over the handlebars if I hit a

"What in the heck is that? In the middle of the road?"

"It looks like an armadillo..."

That was the same exact thought we both had as we swerve around a huge turtle? Tortoise? Something shelled and slow-moving in the center of our lane. We both would have put money on an armadillo. Oh wait, we are in Ohio...

We all lived to tell the tale, though we didn't see our friend on the trip back home. We saw a snake in the middle of the road, a huge water bird taking off, hawks harrying each other for the fun of flight in the morning air, got half-heartedly chased by a dog inside an invisible fence, and a handful of other cyclists. I'm convinced they smile at each other because they're thrilled to see other crazy people besides themselves. "Oh look, there are other folks who pay a mint for a bike, a helmet, gloves, shoes, biking shorts (which is a Thing in and of itself, let me tell you). I'm not alone in my nuthood! Yaaaaay!"

I'm also fairly certain my bum fell off somewhere around Bishop Road...

Oh yes, sixth. I don't know what y'all say when you see bikers on the road, but I know the thoughts that go my head run something along these lines: I hate seeing bikers on the road! I know how scary it is to hit a pothole wrong or a stick or a stone and I know how wobbly I am- cyclists make me nervous as a driver. I give them as much room as I possibly can while thinking black thoughts about, "we have bike trails, you know, so cars can drive on the roads" and "why doesn't Ohio have bike lanes like Oregon does?" and "of course there would be bikers right here on the S-curve, the very worst part to encounter bikers on this entire road!" Anyway. I'm not very charitable. Sorry cyclists. It is what it is.  Y'all make me nervous and now I'm on the receiving end of cars zooming past, some of whom are very good about getting over as far as they can (thinking black thoughts about how nervous we make them, no doubt) and some not so much. "I'm going to be dead in a ditch," I tell Dada, "and you'll have to figure out how to get the kids to karate all the time."

This is a photo of our family doghouse. It belonged to my grandparents and had them, my dad, my aunt Chris, and my uncle Jeff written on the dogs. We tease Pap about decisions which would have landed him in the doghouse if we had had a dog representing him, like the time we sent him with the kids to a school festival and he came home with live goldfish the kids had won. I was not please about being responsible for keeping more living things that way. In fact, he's been metaphorically in the doghouse more than once. I'm recalling the time he crafted wooden weapons for the grandkids while they stayed with him at the farm until the neighbor kids started asking for their own sets as well. I've teased him about adding an attic to the doghouse because he's so often in there.

As you can see, though, Dada has moved in and might be there for the rest of his life, or mine. 

I think I mentioned that this is a fundraiser for MS, so it's a good cause and not a race and between those two things and a handful of others is why I haven't flat-out refused to do this thing. But here's where you can help. First, please pray that I'm not run over or that I don't get my shoelace stuck in my bicycle chain or that I don't run over a skunk or anything else that might impair my um... I can't even really say ability, because we've already established all of the lack of that, haha, so... chances of finishing, let's just say that. 

Second, please donate to the cause. You can click here for my donation page or here for Dada's donation page. Dada's work will match whatever we raise! I'd like to think we are making a difference and you can really help in that department. Thank you so much! 

Once I recover the ability to move and function again I promise to blog all about the actual experience. You can then send money for flowers for Dada's funeral, because I most likely will have killed him several times over during the event or the practice rides leading up to it. 

So to loop back to the beginning, no, I don't find that I have more energy from the exercising we are doing. If anything, I fall into bed at night, don't move, dreaming of marshmallows while the boys follow me around even in my dreams, and they're complaining, even in my dreams until the alarm for 5:30 wakes us up and we get to do it again. I feel like I'm student teaching for the second time! Help!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Only a month behind :P

I got to dress up for church on Mother's Day as it wasn't my turn to snuggle babies in the nursery for the first time in what felt like forever. I do enjoy seeing them come in wearing their Easter, Christmas, and Mother's Day best, hehe. Anyway, I finally got to wear the dress that Dada had made for me during his trip in China. This dress was based off one I'd bought in State College to wear to Cammie and Jody's wedding (which was twenty years ago, just sayin') and had seen better days. Dada took the old one I'd fallen in love with to China and picked out the silk for the seamstresses there to make the new one. 

Because we are so classy, this picture was taken after church and before I changed in Bass Pro, which surprisingly has amazingly large and comfy dressing rooms. We had planned to hike in the quarry after church and I couldn't exactly hike in the dress and the "new young attitude shoes" as Mary Alice called them when we bought them, also for the wedding 20 years ago. They are the same shoes I wore for our wedding, and let me tell you, they have seen better days, too. But that's a post for another day. And I'm sinking in the mulch, above.

Anyway, Mother's Day was peaceful! We had church and a hike in the sunshine and once we got home everyone kinda peeled off to do whatever they wanted, so I got peace and a book and sunshine and perfection!

Thank you to my super hubby and my crazy kiddos for having me be the Mama of this family!

June Jack-o-lantern

I swear, once you have kids the teething never stops. Carrie turned 14 and she's still growing molars, and now we have this crazy Thing3 on the other end losing all his teeth. He has three grown up teeth on the bottom and lost his first top tooth, but there are probably four additional wiggly ones in there. Just when you think the little bug can't get any cuter: 

Minimalist karate graduation post

Here is the promised karate graduation post. I'm trying to keep it short and sweet for those of you who are tired of getting on the blog and perpetually seeing karate pictures. It's been our life for three years now. I imagine soccer parents feel pretty similarly...

On we go!

Sorry this one is so blurry, hehe, but it's an excellent photo of the fun the instructors have during black belt testing. Above is our beloved Mr. Stanford making Carrie work hard despite her laughter. 

Below is our friend Ed, who is kinda built like offspring produced if a tank married a buffalo. I love Liam's face. 

Ed also goes to Krav with Dada and Mama Rita. Once in awhile when I ask how they're doing they'll say something smart like, "sore... cuz... Ed." I think we should make T-shirts proclaiming that: Cuz Ed. 

High flyin' kids

Carrie, quit picking on the boys and get back to work!

Black belt testing took three Saturdays. There were sparring elements, grappling elements, basic skills and katas, and pretty much everything they could throw at you. The instructors really made the candidates work; they had to make the instructors really feel it. Mr. Penny said to several of them, "if it isn't hurting me, I'm not going to let go!" 

Here's Damon, mid kata, with his friend Austin. Graduation was really fun because there were a lot of candidates who had prepped their best work to show off. It was great to see kids we'd been rubbing shoulders with for the last three years receive their black belts!

And apparently those last two didn't get cropped. Oh well. Pay no attention to the fact that there is a curtain. I think Mr. Stanford gets quite the kick out of the post-graduation photo taking time...

So we now have a red belt and two black belts in da house!

Batty Bat

We had our first bat in the house. Dada, Carrie, and I were in the living room after the boys had gone to bed and I was reading out loud from Dreamsnake when there's a fluttery poof inside the fireplace. Everyone looks at the fireplace. Then there's another fluttery poof and Dada and Carrie get up to investigate. 

Sure enough, there's a small bat stuck inside the fireplace, flapping around in the ashes. Despite being armed with a colander and a myriad of other accessories, poor small bat streaked past the helpful humans and began swooping laps around the downstairs. Dada tried to block the two story hallway so that the bat wouldn't head up towards the bedrooms while Carrie and I opened the one screenless window and the back doors. 

Several laps later, the poor frightened beastie made it back outside, hopefully a little wiser about ceiling fans, chimneys and fireplaces than he was before his adventure began. I wonder how many more visitors we'll have here at Lalaith Havens while we're here...

Canoodling in the hammock

First hammock canoodling of the summer! I think this post is a week late (it's been hiding in Drafts and I forgot about it) but we can officially say we made it into the hammock once this summer vacation...