Oct 4, 2015: Chapmanned!

Well, it’s official: We’ve been Chapmanned. This isn’t the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But we’ve been Chapmanned.

You’re likely wondering what it means to be Chapmanned. As most of you know, when we bought our house six months ago, it was in pretty sorry shape. It was definitely a fixer-upper—mostly on the cosmetic side, but there were also issues of nonworking toilets and such. And that was fine with us—we knew exactly what we were getting, and we actually enjoyed fixing things up.

The house wasn’t in disrepair because of a careless tenant or owner—rather, it was just sadly neglected. The man who owned it—a nonagenarian by the last name of Chapman—just couldn’t keep up the house and yard, and so it fell into a rather staggering state of disrepair. No harm done, though: It was all fixable, and I definitely felt sympathy for the man, having reached a stage in his life where he could no longer keep up his home.

But there were some peculiarities with the house, and over time we began to fondly refer to these things as the “Chapman Special” or having been “Chapmanned.” For example, when we were painting the house, I complained to Chris, “It’s broiling in the entry hall! I’m dying over here!” At first I kinda figured it was just hot flashes because, you know, hot flashes kind of stink! But then I looked up and realized that Mr. Chapman had installed a heat lamp in a recessed light fixture in the hallway ceiling, and it was beaming down on me as if I was some sort of reptile in a terrarium. Oops…Chapmanned!

And there were drainage pipes installed with the open ends pointing up, so that any water that flowed through them would have to shoot out the end of the pipe upward, like some kind of geyser. Chapmanned!

When we bought the house, the garage was filled practically to capacity with old junk, so we really couldn’t see much of it. But we had to clear a path to the furnace and water heater for the home inspection, and it became clear when we saw those two items that they were a bit of a Chapman Special—the units themselves were fine, but the platform they were sitting on was sagging terribly in the middle, and so the water heater was leaning like the Tower of Pisa. Chapmanned!

We asked the home inspector about it, and he said it was fine. Our handyman looked it over and said, “Well, it’s stable—the water heater isn’t going anyplace because it’s strapped to the wall. But when you replace the water heater, we should fix this platform.”

So lo and behold, Thursday night, as I looked forward to my first shower since Tuesday (I try to only do every couple of days, due to the drought—and given that I’ve been exercising and sweating daily, I very much look forward to those showers!), I was annoyed to find that we had no hot water. I assumed it was the pilot light and sent Chris out to check it, since I was already disrobed and waiting to get in the shower. He came back and said, “Well…it’s not the pilot light….” Rather, the water-heater tank had let go. Thankfully, there was an emergency overflow pipe attached that took most of the water out to the side yard. But it had still flooded the pan sitting under it, as well as the lovely, saggy platform.

Thankfully, our realtor gave us a home warranty as a gift, so I called the home warranty company, and they said they would put it on high priority and have someone out the next day. The guy ended up arriving at 8:30pm (they work that late?!), but his supervisor, upon seeing the pictures of our leaning water heater and sagging platform, said they could not install a new water heater until we had the platform rebuilt.

This was now Friday night, and what contractor works over the weekend? Our usual one might have, but he was out of town for his anniversary! So, we resigned ourselves to being hot-waterless until probably Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed for Tuesday, anyway…. Our handyman is coming out Monday morning to look at the platform, but because both the water heater and the furnace are sitting on it, he may have to remove the furnace to rebuild it. Ugh. That sounds like a big job…and an expensive one.

I’m pleased to report, though, that I am not having to go Tuesday-to-Tuesday without showering. We had family pictures scheduled for Saturday night, and our shoot location just happened to be about 20 minutes from Grandma Kathy and Papa’s house. So we swooped in on them and used their shower. Given that it was my first shower in four days, you can imagine how good it felt!! And tonight, after sweating much of the day at Sam’s Step Up for Down Syndrome walk, we took a dip in our community pool and then used their showers. I don’t know if the HOA frowns upon shampoo and soap in their outdoor showers, but desperate times call for desperate measures….

Anyway! Sam’s Step Up walk! It was a lot of fun! They had it at a new venue this year, and it was much closer to our house, which was nice. It was just at a local middle-school athletic field/track, so it didn’t have the lovely scenery of the old location, but I still actually liked the new location a lot. The old one had no cell reception, so if you were trying to meet up with anyone, it was tough to coordinate. And it was very spread out, so last year I hardly saw any of the people I was hoping to see. This year, everything was in a smaller area (but still plenty big to fit people without feeling crowded!), so it was easy to see all the people we know and visit. Bliss!

Sam was a bit crabby for it—it ran into his naptime, which is never a recipe for success. But he hung in there, albeit somewhat crabbily. When he crossed the finish line, he loved everyone cheering for him, but he shrieked angrily at the man who tried to give him his medal—which garnered him a huge laugh from the crowd!

Theo enjoyed the miniature golf they had set up, and he was glad to have his friend Tico to play with—our friend Roxann came with her son Tico, who is just Theo’s age, which made it a lot of fun for Theo. And Grandma Kathy and Papa were there with us as well! All in all, a successful day!

I actually did two charity events for Down Syndrome Connection this week, so I got to wear my awesome Sam shirt three times! I gave a speech about Sam and the work we do at Down Syndrome Connection at the Coast Guard station in Alameda, and then I manned a table for our organization during their charity event that day. It was a lot of fun—I got to hear some inspiring charity speakers and talk to a lot of really cool people doing great things for their charities. And later in the week, I got to go give a similar speech to about 25 members of the Postal Service in Oakland. Fun stuff!

This weekend was also our town’s Oktoberfest, which we went to on Saturday morning, after Theo’s piano lesson. It was nice and uncrowded right when it opened, so we hit the rides before it got busy. Theo talked Chris into going on the ferris wheel, and Sam and I went on some fun bouncy cars that he liked. Theo also loved the bumper cars, but his favorite was the Gravitron, which is one of those big spinning “buildings” where people stand against the inside walls, and the thing spins around very fast so that you get plastered to the wall and can’t move. Theo loved it and went on it three times; once was enough for me!

I love that way our little town comes together for community events like Oktoberfest. I grew up in a much bigger suburban area, so we had festivals and such, but not everyone went, and you didn’t really see people you knew there. In our little town now, when there’s a festival everyone goes, and you run into countless people you know! We got to meet one of Theo’s new school friends and his parents—we ran into them in the downtown park while eating our sausages. And I ran into another mother I know from the school, too.

We have only one grocery store in our little town (though there are others if you venture farther…which I don’t), and so that’s another place where I always see someone I know. The other day Theo and I stopped there before we went to pick Sam up at school, and we ran into four different people we know! It’s very cool to live in a town small enough where you actually know people—I really like that about it here! Also, your neighbors look out for you—we had a number of people offer to let us come shower at their house when they heard about our water heater problem, which I thought was really nice! 

I mentioned earlier that we had pictures done on Saturday…. I can’t wait to see them! Our photographer, Jen, always does a great job for us, even when I think the kids weren’t overly cooperative, but this time I feel like she probably got a ton of good stuff to work with! Sam was cheery and hamming it up, and she got some good natural smiles out of Theo, too, which is slightly challenging given that seven is apparently the age of forced smiles during pictures. It was surprisingly windy at the park—most years, I seem to pick long-sleeve, fall-like attire for us, and then it’s broiling. This year, I chose short sleeves, and it was chilly! But I actually think the wind will add a fun little flair to the pictures—messy hair and all!

Speaking of messy, we decided to make life a little more messy by adding a second kitten to the mix! We’ve decided to adopt our kitten’s sister as well, because many people told us that it’s better to adopt two kittens than one (they play together, they keep each other company, etc.). And hey, they’re adorable, so why not? We’ve already got a little zoo going here, so what’s one more little mouth to feed?!

Before I sign off for the week, here are two little videos for you (along with the usual image gallery). The first is of Theo playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” It was only his second day playing it, so he’s obviously still working on it, but I think it sounds great! It’s so much fun to hear him learning to play new songs! The second video is of Sam dancing to the band at today’s Step Up walk. He was kind of tired because it was past his naptime, but you can still see some of the Sam sparkle!

Next week, stay tuned for KITTEN PICTURES!!!!

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