Snapshots: Spring Breakup 2011

During break up of last year, our neighbors’ property flooded with the snow-melt, and we learned our land is lower than theirs.

I had noticed the rotting back-step and had attributed it to the age of the structure.  Now I more-strongly suspected it was due to annual flooding.

Jay rented a mini-excavator and used the bucket to dig a channel along the edge of our property (there’s a road in the winter/dry season dividing us).  The ground was still frozen, and the water was flowing fast, but he managed to get enough dug to keep the house dry.

Later in the year he had the same machine out again, and the difference between the two times couldn’t have been more marked: “It’s like butter!” Jay said when I asked him how it was going.

Aside from the normal reasons for looking forward to spring, I’m eager to see how this work will affect the run-off pattern this year.

Saying What You Mean

So Jay and I have been talking about a milk animal for our family.

Currently we have a goat-share which is down to a gallon a week, and we’re burning through that in a few days.

The next question is what kind of animal. Jay is more interested in a cow, while I’m just a bit overwhelmed at that idea, and used to the goat milk now.

We read this goat v. cow article which (humorously enough) reinforced both of us in our current bias.

Jay did more reading and became intrigued with the issue of A1 protein (in milk) vs. A2.  Which lead to a whole other speculative discussion about what it takes to import animals to Alaska, and how I didn’t want to go to that length until we’d lived with a cheap cow for a while first.  Assuming we did cow and not goat(s).

Anyway, even with Jay’s timeline putting such acquisition two summers out I’ve been trying to nail down a sequence at least (Blame it on my J-preference. It’s what I do), and was having a hard time following Jay’s patchy description.

Finally I cornered him (he was tethered by earphones to his computer and the weekly football watching).  “Just a little clarity,” I begged,  “I’m getting mixed messages, and have no idea where to apply my imagination.”

Now, someday I hope to do a whole post on this, but applying my imagination to something is so much more than “day-dreaming” or wishful thinking.  It’s a way of entering into a possibility and consuming it (The Blob fashion) to find the nooks and crannies and knowables to learn what it is I don’t know, in order to fix that.

It’s the best way I’ve ever discovered to learn about something.

Jay was admirably self-controlled despite my untimely interruption and said, “You’re getting mixed messages because that’s what I’m sending.”

So we’re not particularly further in the process, but I get the relief of at least knowing we’re on the same page: that he’s under no illusion that he’s actually given me enough to work with or to expect anything specific from me.

Jay Couldn’t Stop Laughing

Yesterday, despite the 40-below, Jay and I decided we needed to go grocery shopping.

It’s a conveluted story, but the end was that only Elisha came with me.  When we got back, Natasha asked why we’d taken so long.  I explained it’s because it’s been a long time since we went grocery shopping, and so had a lot to do.

“It hasn’t been a long time,” Natasha protested.  “You just got back!”

Jay is *Awesome*

He corralled three kids for nearly 2-hours worth of shopping and trying-on of things tonight.

He is looking forward to tomorrow when the tables turn and I run herd while he looks through he discounted Men’s section.

Praising God for His provision and timing!

The new clothes were as cheap as thrift-stores’ and much more efficient, as trying on one shirt or pair of pants gave you the yes or no to everything on the rack. (Wouldn’t you buy 5 new pair of pants at $1.79 apiece?)

Our old clothes have needed retiring for a while.

I wore a dress to Christmas Eve service that I bought for a solo competition in high school. When I bought it I had to hold it up not to step on the hem. Now it falls to the upper calf.

I didn’t grow that much. It’s just been washed a *lot*. (Not that I found a dress to replace it, either, it’s just the best example I have of how old some of my clothes are).

Valentine’s Day, and Other Victories

Jay got all his ladies flowers back on Friday night, so it was really fun they made it to (and through) Valentine’s day.

A few days ago I sent him a link to a blog post under a “For your not-to-do list” subject line.

I thought the post was funny. I never guessed it would actually inspire him to write me a poem of his own. He sent it to me in French and Spanish both. The meaning seemed still fairly intact and I enjoyed it.

He keeps telling me he’ll send me the original…

~

I noted on my other blog that I was doing really well in the home-keeping department, then the post-ovulatory phase of my cycle began and I totally crashed— physically useless for about 36 hours.

The change was so big I called Jay before he came home to apologize and prepare him.

He reassured me that he wasn’t surprised when he came home to a messy house, just really pleased when he came home and it looked nice.

This is nice on one level, of course, but I had to pretend a pout as he’s been coming home to a clean house more often than not for a several weeks.

I blamed my cycle at first, of course, but looking at my other habits I acknowledged it would probably help to continue taking vitamins and reading my bible.

It’s not (physio) “logical,” but I have tangibly higher energy- and motivation-levels when I’ve read my bible. I remember to read more often than I remember my vitamins, so I’ve seen the difference between the two.

So yesterday, Valentine’s Day, was very nice in several ways.

Having done what I could do (my reading and vitamins), despite feeling *blah* at first, I tackled the house and got a fair amount done.

When the kids got clingy and fussy and weren’t playing together as well, I shifted gears and read with the three of them in my lap for almost an hour.

Seriously. Elisha only got down twice in this time.

Nap went peacefully, and Natasha even fell asleep— with Thorin for her pillow. Very sweet, and *again* I was my most productive with everyone else in the house asleep. Just, it was for life/schooling stuff this time instead of my novel.

I have another pseudo-organizing activity to prepare for while I play clay with the children today, and if it goes well I’ll be describing it later in greater depth.

Have I mentioned that Natasha has been doing “quiet time” for an hour of napping time instead of sleeping? It’s made an earlier bedtime much more natural and effective.

Natasha sacks amazingly fast, and Melody, having no one to talk to, soon follows suit.

~

After nap we all went to Fred Meyer and Melody got her first panties.

Yes, she’s completely out of diapers, at least for the days.

I asked her earlier in the week if she was ready to go, but she kept saying, “Not yet,” or “Two more sleeps.” Then, when I asked after nap yesterday, she said “Yes!”

In our conversation on the way she clarified, No, she is not a “big girl” now. She is a little girl who can use the potty.

Have I created another literalist?

Then for our Valentine’s Day dinner I made tomato soup (because it was red) and heart-shaped grilled-cheese sandwiches (with a cookie cutter; and everyone still got their piece of crust too). Dinner was very peaceful and sweet with the girls alternating declarations of love for different family members, pop-corn style.

Books Figure Largely in Our Lives

Like I mentioned earlier, I spent most of January 1st working on books.

The girls and I traded bookshelves in our bedrooms. These pictures are the girls washing their “new” kid-sized bookshelf.

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And then I saw Elisha in his little rocking chair, sitting with “Where the Wild Things Are” in a perfect photo-op set-up. But Jay flopped out behind him on the bed and the boy immediately climbed over the back of the chair to get his daddy to read to him.

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There were so many great expressions the camera was *just* too slow to catch, but these were still fun too.

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That last one is E roaring at the pictures of the “wild things.”

It’s so fun to watch my family do stuff together!

Things are Rocky but Improving

Well, I wrote a post about my migraine the other day, complete with thank-yous about the way I get them as opposed to the worst they could be (which I did get once, so I do know what I’m missing).

But by the end I realized it was more for my own sorting-out of things, so you’ve been spared ;)

Thing continue to tumble wildly at Jay’s work. Specific prayer requests:

  • Improved communication!
  • Grace for transitions, and a quick settling of disputes (the fellow formerly in-charge is disputing his removal from power, and poor Jay would just like to do his job with the most help and least drama possible).
  • Favor with those who could make Jay’s work easier. There are a couple of these, and one I’m already thanking God for.
  • Strength for Jay. Yesterday he was exhausted before even getting home.

Praises from the home-side:

  • I was able to put a detailed menu together that will help smooth our days quite a bit
  • I’ve been able to be in the Word consistently for a couple weeks now, and I can tell it’s been good for me.
  • After Mom’s help the day of my migraine (*so* needed and appreciated) I’ve been hacking away at laundry and dishes and have things almost to maintainable-level. Very encouraging.

Prayer needs:

  • Elisha was weaning and sleeping through the night for about a week and has started teething again (complete with the cold, massive runny nose and once the fever). So peace for him and sufficient rest for us all.
  • Melody also is sick, so prayers Natasha doesn’t get it too.

One thing I’m very thankful for is how attitudes have sweetened up as the week has progressed. This is a good thing all around.

And (Yay!), Jay has told Shop-boss that he’s got too many other responsibilities to keep working in the Shop right now. He’s left the door open to return and help some more, but now Jay’s able to narrow his focus a bit more, and that also is a good thing.

Sleeping With the Cow for Free Milk

(Extra points for anyone who recognized that line from Mad About You.)

I don’t know if anybody really uses the “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free” line, just like I don’t know anybody who uses the “If all your friends jumped off a cliff would you?” line, but I just did today.

The Cow line.

Jay is no longer in the Electronic Shop at the University. He is now working “exclusively” in infrasound and is down to three jobs:

  • Operator of two CTBTO infrasound sites
  • Part-time deployment data-collection specialist (assisting with preparation and deployment of portable sensor arrays for specific data-collection projects)
  • Working for Chaparral.

Not just working-for.

Due to some bizarro (but ultimately positive?) events he is now the Boss Supremo (second only to the guy who’s the head of the whole Geophysical Institute). But he’s still the only full engineer “in” the Electronic Shop.

And he’s under a *lot* of pressure right now trying to keep a bundle of knives in the air. No only is he going to have to start learning how to run a company by doing it (I’m thankful he has such high quality standards, and he’s thankful he can now have full say in how the products are presented), but he has to help his Shop (former) boss finish up a project.

Naturally this has led to long hours and an over-tired, stressed-out man at home. I found a Business Administration class he is now considering, to ease the transition. This would result in more time away from home but– Lord willing– a less-stressed man in the end.

I’ve been calling his Shop project an albatross. I asked Jay why someone else couldn’t take it over.

He said it was because said he was the only engineer in the shop, and it would take forever to hire a new one. I pointed out that there was no motivation for the Shop to look for a new engineer while they have access to one as good as he.

That’s when I made my lame attempt to quote the line about the cow, and it came out like the misquoted title, and I had to try again.

“Why would you do that?” I asked.

“I’m a nice cow,” he said, firmly.

Then he explained that he wants to use the finished project at Chaparral, so being a part of this ensures he ends up with what he needs.

The New Car (Jay takes the keyboard)

Because of the problem of proper disposal, along with the special tools and necessary expertise required, we strongly recomend that you have your oil changed by an authorized VOLKSWAGEN dealer or a qualified workshop.

Wow. Bolded and italicized. This must be *really* important.

Never mind that the nearest VW dealer is in Anchorage (i.e., more than 300 miles away).

So, yup, Jay got the exact car he was wishing for– down to the color. He’ll be stepping in in a moment to give all the specs (he’s been reading the manual all evening) and here’s a pix he just took:

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Cute little car. We bought it from a couple with two little kids who said they were running out of room and needed a bigger car.

The wife seemed positively embarrassed when she heard we were buying it with three kids in our family.

What I know:

  • It’s cute.
  • It will fit the whole family if we need it to.
  • Manual transmission
  • CD/tape players
  • Heated seats
  • Fabulous gas mileage due to diesel engine.

Jay will now take over and give as much as you’ll ever need to know.

If you haven’t guessed from the picture it is a blue 2002 Volkswagen Golf GLS with the TDI (turbo diesel) engine. It is basically exactly what I’ve been looking for to replace the Ford Escort. I was looking to get one a few years newer, but then I went flying in the Cessna 172, and I decided that I needed to conserve money so I can get my pilots license. The main reason for this car is the “fabulous” gas mileage (as Amy put it): mid 40′s in town and low 50′s on the highway. Experiencing it was a blast too, we picked the car up (in Anchorage) with ~180 miles on the tank and drove to Fairbanks, and I still have more then a quarter tank left (over 500 miles total). :) :) The other reason is that the Golf is a very upscale economy car: heated seats, auto up/down windows, speed adjusted volume, etc. One of the nice things with the diesel engine is that with the lots of torque you don’t have to down shift very often, which makes cruise control just about as simple as in an automatic. It is definitely a different experience to pass without the engine howling and screaming at high rpm’s.

Despite the dire warning I think that I will be changing the oil myself. :)