Sprucing up the house (Or is it firring?)

Every year my mom has a lovely Christmas tree at her house. She and dad usually pick one out from a tree farm the day after Thanksgiving. This year, though, they are several states away, and we decided to get a tree ourselves.

Unfortunately we didn’t get out soon enough. Our tardiness combined with the terrible drought this summer meant pickings were slim at the tree farm.

We walked for an hour or two looking for “the tree.” We never found one that was altogether perfect, but we did find a nice small one that had no dead branches or brown needles.

Yoli and the girls got it decorated Tuesday evening. Yoli had also taken some free scrap branches that the tree farm was giving away. On Wednesday she used them to make a wreath, and on Thursday to decorate the mantel over the fireplace.

Here are some photos of how it turned out:

Josh christmastree

Yoli christmastree

IMG 1285

Stories from Yoli: Inside the box, right side up

Most nights when I come home from work, Yoli has stories to tell about what the kids were up to. Stories of mischief, of cuteness.

Today is the tale of the girl in the tall box.

Now that we have drapes in the house, we no longer need some of the tall, empty boxes we had been using to achieve a modicum of privacy. But Yoli set aside one particularly large, tall box so the kids could use it as a play house for a while.

Today she cut out some windows, turned it longways on its side and let them have at it. Jadzia and Ludi were monopolizing the box, not letting their younger siblings have a chance to go inside. Eventually Jadzia got tired and went to do something else.

Later, Yoli noticed that Ludi had been quiet for some time. That usually means mischief is afoot. Yoli went looking, and found that the box had been turned right side up (vertical). Guess who was inside?

“I can’t get out,” Ludi said pitifully, sucking her thumb.


Drapes of Wrath of Khan

Okay, so the title of this blog post doesn’t really mean anything, but keep reading anyway.

We have been in our renovated home for about 2 weeks or so. It is lovely: the rooms are all painted, the floor is refinished, our kitchen cabinets are great. But there were so many little details that still needed to be done. Chief among those was the hanging of drapes. You may recall a recent entry in which I explained how Yoli had built a big cardboard-box wall in our bedroom to add some privacy.

Well, I am happy to report that the drapes are now hung. Take a look at the before and after:

Many other things have been taken care of, as well. We have a new front storm door, several light fixtures in the dining room and kitchen were moved, safety brackets were installed, and much more. We’ve had a handyman taking care of all these things for the last three days.

This coming week we should get the final pieces for our kitchen: pulls for the cabinet doors, some decorative paneling for the sink cabinet, and a display shelf.

There are still many, many boxes to go. We also need to buy china and silverware and bookshelves and such things. But it’s getting closer and closer to being “home” again.

Waits and measures

Maybe waiting is the measure of a man. We have done our share of it.

Today, I daydreamed back to a sweltering Bolivian night eight years ago when we made pizza for Yoli’s family and I got down on one knee to propose. Not many days afterward, I boarded a plane bound for St. Louis.

I knew we would be separated for a while, working in two countries on the paperwork to obtain a fiancee visa. But I didn’t know how long.

How long turned out to be nine months. At the time I called it ‘the interminable wait.’

It seems to me that the waiting was hardest at the beginning (where the elation of getting engaged was followed by the loneliness of returning home alone) and near the end (though we never had a clear idea of when exactly “the end” would come).

My mind wandered, remembering those months of waiting, then returned to the present. I thought of our eighth wedding anniversary, just around the corner: Nov. 22 and 24.

But even sooner, I thought, our family will move back into the little brick house that was shattered by the Good Friday tornado.

Then it struck me: we have gone through another “interminable wait” this year.

In some ways it’s been harder. There was little joy at the outset, except maybe the solace that comes from knowing nobody was hurt and many of our possessions could be saved. There were so many unknowns: how do you pick a guy to cut down your tree? We chose one, and it went badly. Our temporary housing moved us farther away from all our usual places. We couldn’t walk Jadzia to kindergarten as we had planned, nor could we walk to the farmer’s market, or the bank, or the library.

But in some ways it’s been easier. Yes, we were separated from our house — but not from each other. We’ve been in exile, together. The rental house where we’ve lived was actually bigger than our own home, though it lacked some things (dishwasher). Our friends and family rallied around to help us. And our wait has lasted only six months, not nine.

Still, there’s no getting past the waiting. As with our engagment eight years ago, we had a vague notion of how long this reconstruction process would take. But the ending proved to be elusive. We would get close, and things would drag out.

At last, though, the finish line is in sight. Today our little house was full of people: cutting tiles, running pipes, painting walls, tracking in mud.

Tomorrow our long-stored belongings will begin to arrive at the house. Before the end of the week, we hope to be sleeping in our own beds again.

I would like to think that this “interminable wait” helped us, strengthened us inside.

Time will tell.