Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year Hang-Over :: A Tutorial

This is the best hangover ever! My idea for getting coats and bags, scarves and hats, off of the floor and dining table is finally on the wall.

Maybe my resolution for this new year should be learn new things! I knew I would need help getting the coat hooks on the wall properly. It's no good using nails, or my go-to method: Hot glue! So, I turned to my dear, and asked him to show me how it's done. And I am not alone in this quest for learning... my friend Judy asked me to share what I learned about hanging coat hooks.

Judy, I took pictures, and I took notes, and just to prove that I really was paying attention: I am going to hang more hooks in the bathrooms, and our bedroom, and I am going to do it all by myself.

Maybe my resolution for this new year should be take initiative!


1. Hollow wall anchors (plastic, hollow, brightly colored sleeves that will keep your screw from spinning around in the drywall or plaster)
2. A light hammer or mallet (a small, smooth stone)
3. A power drill/screwdriver
4. Screws, which are often matched in the box of anchors, so: Convenient!
5. A level (or keen sense of up from down)

Okay. If you are not putting up a bunch of hooks, then you can probably skip this layout part. If you want to map out your plan, or ensure that you get a straight and even row of hooks, then get some straight and even paper.

We spent some time playing around with the layout, which is meant to look appealing, yet random. Or was it random, yet appealing?

The paper is cut to the same width as the wall where we are putting up the hooks.

If you can, get more than one opinion.
Chango was indifferent to this layout, so we moved the squirrel a little closer to the bottom. I think it was a good choice.

The decisions are made. The hooks are where we want them to be, and so Geoff marked each screw hole, and traced the hardware in its place. For extra certainty he named each hook and wrote that name next to the marks for the screw holes. Elaborate, but we had a lot of different hooks.

Once every hook was accounted for and traced on the paper, we hung the paper in place on the wall where we were putting the coat hooks. Geoff brought out a level and adjusted the top of the paper, then we taped the paper in place.

Select the screws you will use to put up your hook. We were eager to do the job, and not eager to go to the hardware store, so we did not use matching screws... I may dab dark nail polish on them, if I ever become concerned about the screws matching the coat hooks, which I am not.

Okay. We have the screws we will be using, now we fit them with one of those hollow, plastic anchors... the metal screw is going to be turned in the anchor, and it needs to be a nice tight fit. If the anchor is too big, it will not hold the screw in place, and our coat hook will wiggle and turn, and eventually drop to the floor.

Now we have screws and anchors, and we are ready to make the holes we marked on the paper...

Power. Tools.
These are oh-so useful, and yes, fun.
Seriously, when you get comfortable with a power tool, it is liberating and fun to realize how much easier and faster jobs can be. It is very worthwhile to get comfortable with power drills and screwdrivers.

Geoff chose a drill bit slightly smaller than the anchors we are using. You can imagine that if the hole is bigger than the anchor then there will be no wall for the anchor to grip, right? I am actually looking forward to trying this on my own.

Geoff took this part, the drilling, slowly. He drilled cautiously feeling for studs. If the drill bit hit wood, then he knew that he could skip the anchor part, or simply shorten the tip of the anchor, so that it only extended through the drywall. The shortened anchor would still secure the screw, and the wood would definitely do the rest of the job of keeping the screw from spinning.

Hook one, with it's four holes marked and drilled.

Time to cut away the paper and insert the four anchors...

Tear away the paper...

Expose the drywall...

Tap in an anchor...

Geoff liked to gently tap them flush with the drywall.

Power tools are versatile. First it was a drill, and by changing from a drill bit to a screw bit... we are ready to drive the screws in to the anchors, which are in the drywall. It's so cool that the screw bit is magnetized. Can you see that the screw is attached to the screw bit? Very convenient.

One... two... three... four!
They're in, and the coat hook is up, and ready!

This is how we spent my birthday. And I also made crispy tacos, so, you know... it was pretty much awesome.

Happy New Year!
It's only been two days, and I have already seen coats and scarves, bags, goodies... all varieties of hungover articles on our wall of order. It's marvelous. It's random, and appealing.

I feel a new degree of optimism and hope, like anything is possible. And did I mention? My oven works! Three times is the charm. Hooks, oven, new skills! Maybe my resolution for the new year should be never give up, never surrender!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Remembering 2010

Hans, Natalie, Eunice, Delia


Sooner or later I look back on a year, and it evokes particular sentiments, and conjures events that tie themselves to that year. Sometimes one wedding, or one birth, is forever associated with its year. It's not always obvious what feelings or ideas, what activities will forever more be connected with a year, but it seems like eventually it happens, like 1977 will always be the year Star Wars premiered. Did anything else happen in 1977? Oh, yes: We moved to Guatemala, and could not see Star Wars in any theater, and had to content ourselves with humming John William's musical score.

I haven't figured out 2010. It's too soon. It's too soon for it to be passing, and too soon to be defining it. But I did find some unique moments from this almost gone year. In chronological order, I have posted some memorable glimpses of the very end of 2009, through 2010.

Max, happy at the beach.

Taking over the side yard, for chicas, and gardening!

New Year... New Bots!

2010 is definitely the year Alex settles in to high school.
Sky Consortium members, Alex and Isaac.

And it's been a year of changes, and growing, for William.

I cannot deny that we became an even more devoted FIRST family in 2010.

This smile... I love this smile. It reminds me that we were feeling at home in the Bird House. It's wonderful.

Happy at home, and in Atlanta! The year 2010 may belong to 2102 Team Paradox!

A year filled with play, is a very good year.

Definitely. Love. Play!

Rich, pushing Izzy and Maria around their backyard construction site. I think Holly and Rich will find this a memorable year for the amazing work accomplished in their backyard.

Joe loved sitting beneath the roses.

Michael and CC and Maria, and field of wild flowers. We love our neighbors.

More signs of growth... this is the first year our children make adventures on their own. Alex in Oregon, and Max at sixth grade camp. (It was harder on their mother.)

How about first time meeting Austin and Katalina? First time in a wet suit? Dude, 2010 was awesome!

Awesome because of cousins Dominic and Marissa! And family visits to the Bird House.

Will Max grow taller than Alex in 2011? They're close!

Lucas, Max, William, and ol' blue
Could Max get as tall as William? I'm going to need an actual limo to drive my tall family around town.

Funny, how after a little time passes the worries and stresses can fade, and the happy endings find their way to the top of my memories.

Even canceled plans, postponements, and deflated aspirations, can spring back bigger and better than hoped for!

It has been a good year... I mean, here we are, ready to move forward, so that is good in itself, right?
Never give up. Never surrender!

And dress pretty. Sparkle!
Maria taught me this... it helps.


Yes. All ready.

Welcome New Year

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hooked and Hung Up

I have found the key.
The key to a solution.
The solution to the problem.
The problem being that no one in this family grasps the concepts of "closet," "clothes hangers," or "hanging clothes on hangers, in closets."

We are good and earnest people, collectively, individually. And yet we cannot seem to manage to overcome our particular challenge in the realm of closet and hanger mastery. Sometimes the problem is not with the user, but with the system. So, we are going to change the system.

Here is one glimpse of the problem: Jackets, coats, hoodies, sweaters, cardigans, vests, windbreakers, bowlers, scarves, wraps, and parkas, abandoned on every surface. On chairs. On tables. On desks. On the floor! (shocking)

Here is one glimpse at the key to what I hope will be the solution: Hooks!

Lots of hooks.

I have a had a few coat hooks stashed away, from a thrift shop or two, and my darling Santa~husband spoiled me with a wonderful stocking stuffer, so my collection grew, and I have decided that since they do not match, and little else matches in our Bird House, that we are going to go with the flow... and let my inferior decorating sensibilities take over. All of the hooks, new and old, are going on one wall. And if one wall dedicated to a dozen coats, bags, scarves and hats looks a mess... well, at least it is only one wall, and not the entire house!

Everyone gets their own hook, or two, and everyone gets a grace period when I will harp on them relentlessly to hang it up! I think this is going to work. And if it doesn't, well, they will have to leave.

Just kidding.

Or was I?

The boys made me watch Inception and now I am not sure when things are real, or if I am caught in the fourth level of someone's dream. Maybe this isn't even my cold. Maybe I am in Hawaii, and we don't need coat hooks. Hmmmm...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

And Heaven and Nature Sing

A lovely gift from Amanda, of 32˚ North.

A long time ago I figured out that I enjoy the preparations, and anticipation of Christmas. I spent some years doing everything for Christmas day, then found myself worn out, and kind of feeling letdown, because of pent up anticipation, and counting on all the joy being released in one day. I am glad I know better... that each activity, every gift found, and candle lit, every song playing, every cookie baked, every reflection of gratitude and goodwill is Christmas, so that I can enjoy many days, and moments, of celebration and joy.

My new approach has served me especially well this year, because just when the fun and hopes were reaching a holiday climax... I got smacked down with an epic holiday humbug. Max too. We are doggone sick. Really, really meh-yuck.

Frustrating? Yes, and sad too, but not a total loss.

My biggest concern is that we are sending my mother and grandmother away with a lurking holiday humbug, that will smack them down too. And it makes me sad that they are leaving, in search of healthier accommodations. But I understand the need.

So. I console myself. I am glad I did not withhold my happiness, and fun-seeking, for Christmas Day alone. I am glad we saw Kevin B.'s holiday light show, benefiting the Community Resource Center. It was amazing. I am glad we decorated the house, hung lights on the fence. I am glad we made it to the Sniffphony, had a TRON night, and our early, family Christmas dinner. I am glad mom and I shopped together, for food, and curtains, for toys, and clothes, and all the odds and ends that make holidays complete.

And downloading the camera, I see plenty of evidence that we have had a full and merry Christmas. Maybe with another long nap, and some hot tea, I can recover in time to play some more...

And maybe the oven part will come in, and we can bake for Epiphany, or for FRC Launch!

At least we had Trader Joe's gingerbread house kit, and Puder Zucker!

Maria and William decorated a beautiful chalet.

And Alex affixed an addition to another chalet. Always the gingerneer!


Swoon! Look at William's snowman, the snail, the little red capped mushrooms!

God bless teachers, especially the ones that take pictures of our children on the first day of school, and then help them create these glittery treasures! Good thing I thought to clear out Maria's backpack before the new year!

God bless jolly friends...

and good children.

After Santa's visit, we sat with the grandmas and watched "The Snowman." I found this gem while visiting Daughter of the Golden West, a lovely blog, full of delights.

And then we brought out our collection of songbooks, and we sang carols. All of us together... my happiest Christmas memory for sure. Angels We Have Heard on High... Oh, Holy Night. I love Christmas carols.

And then came Christmas morning!
It was Ferris' first Christmas, and he sort of went nuts!

My mommy. And her snug new vest from Alison and Bill.

We open one gift at a time, and we should be done later today... just kidding. We just love appreciating every new gift, every clever present, fun toy!

Rocket engines? Very interesting... what could come next?

"Just what I wanted! How does that happen?!"
That's easy... there wasn't anything she didn't want!

Ah, Santa... how do you know what everyone wants?

Christmas dinner... with fair warning that some of us are under the weather, we arrive at tutu Ruth's home for Christmas dinner. Her lovely home is aglow with
Christmas cheer.

And cousins to play with!

We enjoyed a delicious feast, including nut loaf, and lemon bars, and Holly's healing pomegranate martinis!

William in his Christmas fez, and vest... dashing!

Yes, a full and merry Christmas, and when this bug has been kicked to the curb... we will no doubt continue to make merry and bright.