July 26, 2015: Big Fun!

What a busy week around here! Let me start with the mundane…which is not really mundane, but isn’t as exciting as the truly fun stuff. Windows! We got new windows!! We replaced all but three of our windows, and we hope to do the remaining three (bathroom windows) sometime in the next six months, as budget allows. And what a difference! Not only do they look much better (no more filthy, moldy window tracks and crumbling seals around the sills; no more condensation between the panes), but the difference in sound and temperature is amazing!

I have not found our unit to be particularly loud—in fact, I remarked to Chris last week that it’s surprisingly quiet, given that our shared-wall neighbors are two young men who are home quite frequently due to unusual work schedules. But the fact is that we live just one building off from a very busy road, so there is a constant dull hum of traffic noise. And we live a block away from a fire station, so we do hear sirens several times a day. It doesn’t bother me, and I block it out pretty easily, but with the new windows—wow! I can barely hear the sirens, and I can’t even hear the traffic noise at all! And the birds that were waking me up every morning at about 6am? Can’t hear them anymore either! I love birds and didn’t really mind hearing them…but still, getting to sleep a little later is never a bad thing. I can’t hear them at all anymore!

And our slider out to the deck used to be like a sauna if you stood next to it at 5pm, because it gets direct evening sun. Now, when you stand in front of the new slider, it feels slightly warm, but that’s it. The difference in temperature is amazing!

So I’m very glad we decided to do the windows! We could’ve just replaced the glass and saved some money, but I’m glad we decided to just go ahead and retrofit with new windows. I am hopeful that it will keep the utility bills under control, and it certainly does make a positive difference in noise and heat!

Wow, though—retrofitting windows makes a ton of dust! The crew was awesome and worked so hard, putting in 11-hour days and then cleaning up after themselves, despite me telling them I’d take care of the sweeping, but even so, there was…so…much…dust! I’m glad to have it finished so I can clean up the layer of construction dust once and for all.

The welder also finished our fence, and we’re very happy with it! Much improved! And now, I’m pleased to report that we are finished with major renovations for a while. Eventually we’d like to do some work in the kitchen, and we need to do something with the deck (sand and paint it if nothing else, and it’ll need to be repaired/replaced within a few years), but for the moment our renovation projects are done. And we’re so happy with the result!

I had to laugh: We had some friends over last weekend, and they hadn’t seen the house. We ate out back, and one of them said, “Wow, this view is amazing!! Did you get this place for under $xxx?” I burst out laughing, because the number he mentioned was almost $300,000 more than we paid for the house—clearly, he thinks our budget is a whole lot more impressive than it was! There’s no way the house is worth anywhere near what he had guessed, but it’s nice to know an objective outsider thinks it was a worthwhile purchase. We are certainly happy with it!

Which leads nicely into my next subject: relocating. Temporarily. And probably not…but maybe. Chris called me from work on Thursday and said, “This is probably a nonstarter, but I thought I’d run it by you…” I waited to hear what it was, thinking it was probably some extended business trip or something. Um…kind of. Turns out they may be offering him the opportunity to work in Penzberg, Germany, for a year—and we could go along with him! His parent company, Roche, has a headquarters in Penzberg, and they are expecting a huge amount of editing work there next year, so they’re looking to relocate an American editor over there for a year. Chris’s boss mentioned that he is a candidate if he’s interested.

Now, there are a couple of reasons why this probably won’t happen. First, there are two other people on his team interested, and neither one has a family—so obviously, it would be cheaper to send them over than it would be to send a family of four! Second, we’d need to figure out if we could make it financially work. Right now, we need my income to be able to pay all of our bills—Chris’s income alone doesn’t quite cover it. And if we moved to Penzberg for a year, I would be homeschooling Theo for a year (and Sam), so I wouldn’t really be able to work at all. Unless Chris’s company is offering some additional stipend for the temporary relocation, chances are we couldn’t work out the finances. And third, our pups. Germany actually has no quarantine laws, so we could take the dogs with us. But Luna is quite old and honestly, I’m not sure how much time she has left—her mobility and energy has been steadily decreasing over the last year or so. I don’t know that a flight overseas would be a good idea for her. Zoe would probably do just fine, but I’m not so sure about Luna….

But on the upside, if we could make all of those factors work, what an experience! I think Theo would benefit enormously from a year of homeschooling and the chance to experience all sorts of different cultures (because we would most certainly do some weekend traveling while we were over there). Penzberg is about 50km from Munich, in Bavaria, not far from the Alps, and it looks gorgeous! My appetite for travel is insatiable, so you know I’d love it! And professionally, for Chris, it would be an excellent move—his boss told him it would be a real boost to his resume.

Funny, though—the one thing that kind of makes us both sad is that we just found this house and put it all together, and even though the move would be only temporary, we would really miss this peaceful little haven we’ve put together! I don’t know whether we’d rent it out for a year (in which case I would probably be seriously stressed about a renter messing up the renovations we just did!) or whether we’d just close it up for a year, but we would both miss it!

Anyway, we’ll see. It’s not off the table. We both recognize that it would be a great experience and a wonderful adventure—we’re just not sure we can make all the pieces fall into place.

In other fun news, I had a Rockin’ Mom meetup this week! One of the Rockin’ Moms from Texas, Diane, was on a family vacation to California, and another Rockin’ Mom from the Portland area, Grace, drove down with her brood so we could get together. So Diane, Grace, Jisun (a local Rockin’ Mom friend of mine), and I all got together at beautiful Tilden Park with our littles. So much fun! Our kids with DS were all born in 2012, and it was so much fun to see them together! Plus, the other mamas all had their older kids with them, too. All told, I think we had 12 kids! I didn’t bring Theo because he had day camp, but we had a pretty big group anyway.

We let the kids feed the farm animals at Tilden Park, and then we rode the carousel. While at the carousel, we ran into a local 18-year-old with DS, Eli, who I work with at Down Syndrome Connection. He is just a hoot, and he enjoyed chatting up the other families.

Later that night, we all left our kids with the hubbies and went out for a ladies’ night! Another local Rockin’ Mom, Becky, joined us with her adorable 7-month-old, who is just ridiculously cute. We had a great time talking, eating, and relaxing. I’m so thankful to have gotten to know these ladies—such a fantastic group! I can’t wait to spend more time with them at our retreat in Minneapolis in September!

Another super-fun thing we did this week was go to Santa Cruz on Saturday to see Auntie Lisa and her family, and Auntie Jeanette and her family! We’ve been planning to go for months, and I wasn’t sure we’d get to because Theo was sick in the later half of the week (more on that in a moment), but his fever ended up breaking on Friday afternoon, so we were able to go on Saturday.  And what fun we had! We got to the beach in the morning, set up a spot, played in the sand and water for a while with Auntie Lisa’s family and Auntie Jeanette’s family, and then headed up to the Boardwalk to ride a couple of rides. By the time we got to the Boardwalk, it was quite busy—there’s a big race in Santa Cruz this weekend, plus the weather was gorgeous, so it was very crowded. So, we only rode a couple of rides. But it was still fun. Theo got to go on his first adult-sized ride—the log ride! He has been dying to go on a roller coaster, and he was really irritated that he’s still 4 inches too short to go on the roller coasters there. (He’s very short for his age.) But he is tall enough for the log ride, so we went on that. Amusingly enough, though, once we got on the log ride, he got cold feet. The log ride takes you way up high, and you float along a “river” and then drop down a big “waterfall.” As we approached the “waterfall,” he said, “No, no, no, no, no!” I just told him I was going to hold him really tight and he’d have fun—and indeed he did! Shades of me, though. I remember getting similarly cold feet before my first coaster, and now I love them!

After riding a couple of rides, we got a snack and went back out to the beach for more play! By then the beach was mobbed with people, but there was still plenty of room for fun. Sam is a little more cautious around the water than Theo, which is not a bad thing. He does, however, love to run up to the edge of the water and cheer mightily when it runs over his toes! Theo, on the other hand, likes hunting for sand crabs (he found a bunch on Saturday!) and getting as wet as possible. Chris and I split up and each take one kid, because it definitely requires keeping a close eye on Theo to make sure he doesn’t get overly confident—the California ocean is quite unpredictable, and he’s convinced he’s invincible!

After more beach play, we walked over to the wharf and got some seafood and ate it on a bench in the cool ocean breeze. Lovely! And then drove home with one sleeping kid (Sam) and one inexplicably awake one (Theo). All in all, a wonderful day! Every time we go to the beach, I ask myself why we don’t go more often, because the boys have so much fun! It definitely requires a lot of attentiveness on our part, but we all end up having such a good time that I don’t know why we don’t go more often. But in a little over a week, we’ll get a chance to go again!

Hopefully, my kids will both be well for our upcoming trip. Theo, as I said, was sick this week—some mystery virus. He had a high fever, a bad headache, and abdominal pain. I took him into the doctor on third day of fever, mostly because of the headache, which he was nearly in tears about. Funny thing with Theo: He can be quite dramatic about little things (God forbid he get a hangnail or something!), but he’s super tough about the bigger things—when he’s sick, he rarely complains. So when he kept complaining about how badly his head was hurting and it didn’t go away overnight, I got worried. Also, the fever was pretty high—at one point it was 103.7, and I was just watching him as I waited for the fever to do its thing fighting whatever virus he had. I had planned to give him some Motrin before bed so his fever didn’t spike in the night without us knowing it. But I went in to check on him, and he was asleep on his bed, trembling. I rolled him over and scanned his forehead with our forehead thermometer, and it read 106! At that point I woke him up and gave him Motrin. I fully support the idea that letting a fever run its course is a good thing—it’s the body’s way of fighting whatever infection/virus is in there. But I was afraid he was going to go into a febrile seizure or something at that point! I think the high temp was partly just because he was laying on that side and thus was very hot, but still—it was enough that I got some Motrin into him pretty quickly.

Anyway, I took him to the doctor Friday morning, and she tested him for strep (negative!), checked for meningitis (nope!), checked his appendix (all good!), and said it was just some weird virus that would run its course. Sure enough, it did—his fever broke a couple of hours later, and now all is well.

Now I’m just hoping Sam doesn’t get it. Historically, whenever Theo gets sick, Sam ends up getting it—and getting it worse than Theo had it. (Theo’s my tough guy who gets over things quickly. Sam…not so much.) So far Sam doesn’t have it, but I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall. Cross your fingers that it doesn’t! (In the meantime, Sam is tired of me chasing him around with the forehead thermometer. If he could talk, I’m sure he would say, “Mom! Enough already! Leave me alone!”)

Sunday we stuck to home. Theo had a piano lesson in the morning. This seems to be the activity he’s most enjoyed of the ones we’ve tried for him, so I think we’ll stick with it for a while and see if he continues to enjoy it. We’ve found a teacher who comes to the house and is very sweet, so we’ll see how it goes. So far, so good!

And Grandma Kathy and Papa are due to come up for a visit later today, so I’d better get this posted and sign off!

Happy end of July, everyone! Enjoy a big gallery of pictures, plus this short video clip of Sam that explains partly why we have had zero potty-training success!

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