The Mazdarati

That is what I like to call our 2000 Mazda Protege.  It's a pretty hot little number.  If you are looking for a car, we could make you a great deal.  Here are the specs.

-  It has 190,000 miles.
-  The radio doesn't work.  Neither does the cd player or clock, or the cigarette lighter.  So, is you are looking for a way to be cut off from the world in every way when you're traveling in the Mazdarati, this is the car for you.
-  The power-steering fluid leaks.
-  We haven't replaced any filters (except the oil) since the Bush Administration.  His first term in office.
-  The exhaust manifold is being held together by electrical tape.  Don't worry, we keep extra in the glove box for when it wears out.  We will throw that roll in for F-R-E-E.  I told you it was a good deal.
-  The "check engine" light makes regular appearances.  But do we ever?  No.
-  The overdrive light flashes.  Sometimes, but not all the time.  Paul is sort of relived when it stops flashing.  Like maybe the car is healing itself somehow.
-  The air conditioner works great when you're on the freeway and not stuck in traffic, but due to a busted engine fan, I would not recommend it in more taxing situations. 
-  Check out its impressive gas milage:  32 mpg freeway.  14 mpg city.  Don't even ask.

Now, here is the thing that really gives our car class.  (And incidentally, the straw that finally broke Paul's camel's back.  He is finally ready for a new car.)

The driver's side window is being held up by duct tape.  

We like to consider this "custom detailing".  

This is its most recent ailment.  And after many months of saying "This car just has to last us until graduation."  We can finally agree that it has.  And move on.  It will drive us to Dallas, and hopefully, no where else.


Warning: Long Post

The most lovely thing about my life recently is that my daughters so genuinely love each other. They play together, not all the time, but regularly. Ella is very sweet to include Char, who desperately wants to be a part of anything interesting that is going on. Not long ago Ella and I were playing in the kitchen, where I was tickling her. Charlotte was on the other end of the house being held by her dad, and as soon as she heard Ella laughing, she squirmed out of his arms and power crawled all the way across the house to Ella and I, where she proceeded to throw herself on top of the tickle fest. And that basically sums up Charlotte's approach to life.

We are in the New Hampshire segment of "vacation". We enjoyed a lovely three weeks living at my Mom's, and were sad to leave the beautiful weather we were enjoying there. But it is nice to be here with Paul's family. It has been a nice quiet visit so far, mostly just trying to stay warm. Although Paul, his Dad and sister, Amanda went skiing on Saturday. I was invited, but wasn't ready to leave the baby for quite so long... and honestly don't think I would have enjoyed myself skiing in twenty degree weather. I am more of a Springtime skier. Mid-thirties and above is my ideal skiing weather (if there is such a thing...) :)

Paul's parents have their basement set up to accomodate our little family, and Paul's dad graciously informed me that we were allowed to keep the heat turned as high as we wish down there. It was a sweet gesture, because the Christensen's are notorious for their energy saving wintertime practices. They have been 'green' since way before it was popular to do so. And even though I only turn up the heat when the girls and I spend time down there during the day (which is not too often), it is nice to feel like I have a little control over our little space. Ella and I spent time drawing downstairs while Char was napping today, and it almost felt like our normal life again. How I miss our life. You would think that having your husband home for two months to co-parent with you would be a dream come true. And while I truly have enjoyed being with Paul, and he has really stepped up to the plate and taken a fair share of the parenting load... for some reason, I just don't love it. I think I miss having sole-stewardship over my home and children, because I have been sharing it not only with Paul, but with our parents as well.

Oh well, soon enough life will get back to normal, and I'm sure, to some extent I will miss these strange and lovely days filled with family.

We found an apartment. Yes. You read that correctly.

I still don't know if I'm happy about it. Paul and I were always going to rent in Dallas (because we won't know for several months if we'll be there permanently), but I was dead set on renting a house. I wanted a yard. And a garage to keep my power tools. And two living areas. And four bedrooms. And hardwood floors.

And honestly, we mostly looked at houses. Actually, I think that the apartment we picked was the only one we actually toured. Weird. But the longer we looked, and the more houses we saw, the more I realized that that apartment was somehow the right choice for our little family. There are a million logical reasons to live in an apartment. (Well, at least five or six.) But there was a spiritual component as well. Part of that, I think was a realization that the biggest reason I wanted to live in a house was my own pride. I wanted the status symbol of living in a house, even if we were only renting it. I wanted people to come over and think, "Oh, what a nice house." And I don't really think there is anything wrong with wanting that. Really, there is nothing wrong with wanting people to feel comfortable and pleased with your home. BUT, there is something wrong with wanting that at the expense of more important factors. And right now, we have factors trump living in a house.

If you care, I will tell you. But this post is getting too long already, so if you don't care, pretend I just wrote a witty conclusion and move on to the next blog. But I like to know the nitty gritty details of people's lives. Otherwise, I think they're hiding something really juicy. So, in the spirit of broadcasting how boring we are:

- Paul's office is a short walk away from a DART train station. And so is the apartment we picked (a different apartment from last summer, though. There was no way I was going to live in a one-bedroom again!) Yea for car-free travel to work! It was hard to find a nice neighborhood within walking distance to a train station... shocking, I know.
- Paul loved our relaxing summer routine of going to the pool every evening before bed, and he really wanted to be close enough to a pool to do so without getting loaded in the car.
- We plan on starting a couple of small side-businesses to get our entrepruenurial feet wet, and honestly, it is just more cost-efficient (read: cheap) to live in an apartment, which will free up some capital for the businesses.
- We have another financial goal to save enough money to own a house outright in five years (we'll see how that goes).  Another reason for saving money every month.
- Houses nearly always beg for a few specific peices of furniture to compliment the basics that we have, and fill it up nicely. I was actually excited about this aspect of living in a house (we got rid of a LOT of furniture when we moved out of our house in Idaho), but again, cost-efficiency is a priority.
- I read this article a while ago and felt inspired. So the plan is to see how little we can use our car while living in Dallas. (And hopefully get away with not buying another one or replacing our dying old girl for a while.) And the apartment is in a really nice location for biking to all of our regular 'haunts'. (You know, the library, the grocery store, a couple of parks, even the church.) We own the bike cart. Just not the bike. :) Besides being very close to a rail station for downtown jaunts.

So. We're living in an apartment. It is a three bedroom, which is nice. And I've decided to build a murphy bed for the playroom, so we have room for guests! Come visit!


Just in case you didn't know this about me.

We are on our way to Dallas to find a house. We loaded the car with who knows what, but it sure is full. Occupying the place of honor is my Blendtec Blender:

For wither I goest, thou will go, wither I lodgest, thou will lodge. My people shall be thy people, and my food, thy food.


Sometimes when Ella smiles on command...

it looks really cute.

But, sometimes when we say "Smile!" This is what we get.


This post is epic.

I have recently realized that the word "cool" is going the direction of the word "groovy".  Ouch.  Especially since I use it in my blog at least once a week to describe myself.

The problem is, I haven't found a satisfactory replacement slang to accurately describe the height and depth of  my... my... coolness.




Any suggestions?


More weird parenting.

I read this article on our country's declining Creativity Quotient in Newsweek ages ago. When I stumbled on this article recently, I was impressed by many of the principles that will almost certainly help to reverse that trend.

Let's face it.  I'm always looking for things to reinforce my parenting philosophies.  I like feeling right.  :)  And then I don't have to be haunted by the "you-must-be-crazy!" face that my friends give me when I tell them that I got rid of most of Ella's toys.



This morning I looked over to see Charlotte making a sour face... clearly she put something in her mouth that wasn't supposed to be there, that is nothing new.  When I went to intervene, she spit out a still-writhing worm.  A few seconds later, his head followed.


I haven't gotten up the courage to kiss her yet.  I have been wondering if she is noticing that I am keeping my distance, because she also got her own cup of smoothie this morning instead of sharing as we usually do.  Maybe one day I will recover from the disturbing images of half worm on the kitchen floor... but it's not going to be any time soon.