Sunday, June 22, 2008

And thus passed the longest day...and weekend of the year.

Summer is officially here, and it made its appearance in our neck of the woods with thunderstorms Friday night loud enough to awaken the Little Monkey. This was not good. It's only fitting, I suppose that the longest day of the year was ushered in by the longest night.



The Monkey is a good sleeper; it takes a lot to wake him up. Even a ceiling collapsing in the room down the hall will not awaken him. But, a little thunder, accompanied by some stellar lightening - that will do it every time. And once he's awake, he screams in terror.

I'm a big believer in the "wait five minutes" approach before running in to check on a crying baby. But there's a difference between training a child to sleep through the night and the sound of a three year old crying in fear and articulating those fears clearly.

"Thunder! It's only thunder! Thunder will go away!" He sobbed.

Jeff and I both darted out of bed, carrying a cup of milk to soothe him. We sat with him awhile, rocked him in the chair, read a story, talked him through the loudest of the thunder crashing. We made it through "Millie in the Snow" twice, as well as "If You'll be my Valentine," twice? Three times? Then we put him back to bed and walked away.

But, it was not going to be that simple. Every loud crash repeated the sequence of events, from the crying, to the milk drinking, to the hand holding and story reading. It was so late, I began to feel like I was sleepwalking myself. Finally, I did something I haven't done in ages. I brought him into bed with us until the storm was over.

That sort of worked. Jordan was thrilled to be in "the big bed." So thrilled in fact, that he spent the next hour crawling over my head, tracing the wrought-iron scroll work on the headboard, and chatting incessantly in the dark. At 1:30, I was done.

"Ok, the storm's over. Time to go back to your bed. Daddy will take you."

Cue screaming.

"I'm sorry! I'll lay down! No thunder!" He cried.

Jeff firmly carried him back to bed with minimal fuss. Jordan continued crying, and we resolutely ignored him. Within five minutes, he was fast asleep. Maybe we should have done this earlier, I don't know. You sort of have to muddle your way through these late night situations sometimes.

The next morning, it was as though nothing had happened. He woke up not much later than his normal hour, chipper and hungry.



We ushered in the summer solstice with yet another trip to Shop Rite.



Where Monkey Sr. tried to entice me into buying some dubious looking tomatoes that were ridiculously marked down. The salmonella scare, I guess. Shop Rite is not known for its subtlety. These were rock bottom prices, but thanks anyway. I'm going to wait till my garden comes through with the home grown variety.



At the rate it's going, it will be awhile. The salads are looking a little anemic these days without that burst of red.



When his food-pushing didn't work, Monkey Sr. contented himself with my favorite diversion at the grocery store - trash literature in the check out aisle.



At home, we threw the kids outside to amuse themselves while we got lunch ready. They were happy to oblige.



Still drenched, we kept them outside to dine al fresco. I love the deck. No worries about wet monkeys or food on the floor.



But with Oscar standing guard in his usual spot, there's little to fear about food on the floor going to waste.

I guess God took pity on us. Monkey Sr. and I crashed ridiculously early on Saturday night and managed to get an unheard-of nine hours of sleep. We made it till 7:30 in the morning without a sound from either monkey. I haven't had this much sleep in three and a half years. That was such a relief.

But, the monkeys being the monkeys that they are, the momentary respite was short-lived. Breakfast passed quickly and full blown monkey madness ensued, starting with the first item on their list of things-to-do.

Make a mess! They have perfected this art and work in tandem. They both love to get their greasy, little paw prints all over the house - the walls, the windows, the furniture.



My feeling is, they can clean up together too. Look how sternly I am standing there with my bad ass orange flip flops and hands on hips! Behold, the task-master!



I particularly love the look of intense concentration on Miss Mina's face here. Clearly she abhors streaks as much as I do.

Unfortunately, the thunder made a repeat performance today. A few hours before nap time, the skies darkened and produced a furious downpour. This was a disappointment as we had planned a playdate for later in the afternoon, but judging from the look of it, the storm was not going anywhere. Bye-bye playdate.

And hello no nap! Argh!!! With every crash outside, the screams from Jordan's room grew louder. I just gave up and went up there, sat with him in his room for an hour or so of quiet time, while Miss Mina snored away. She awoke long enough to throw her bunny out of the crib in protest and cried until I returned him to her arms.

Part II

Since we spent the majority of this day in the playroom, I thought it would be a good time to do the big reveal. This is, after all, my attempt at the longest post of the year. I present - the before and after.



I've never really been happy with this room. Originally designed as a dining room, it became our de facto drop off location for all the detritus that accompanies two children. The toys, the books, the multitude of junk - it all needed a place to be be stored. Hence, the "play room."

And before anyone feels it necessary to leave me snippy comments about excess consumerism and how kids don't need all this stuff, please... save it. I can count on one hand the number of toy purchases I have made for these kids in the past two years. Seriously. I only buy toys at Christmas and birthdays.

The rest of what you see here has made its way into my home via other hands. I am not going to name names and all... but you know who you are. And we love you for it just the same.

The one thing I like about this room is its proximity to the kitchen. It's right off the kitchen and the living room. It's within earshot of the computer in the office. There are no doors, so I can see everything that's going on. As much as I would love to renovate the basement and toss the kids down there to play, I kind of like having them close at hand. Who really needs a formal dining room right now anyway, right? Our kids barely make it through a meal lasting more than twenty minutes anyway.

A playroom it shall be for the foreseeable future. I had just a few definite goals with it. Lighten up the walls, create usable storage for both toys and books, and design wall space that could also serve as play stations.

This is what I came up with:



The hardest part was the paint job. I sanded, I compounded, I sanded again. I scrubbed away years of the previous owners' neglect and wax. I repaired deep grooves in the walls caused by a bad wallpaper removal job. I dug out nails, screws, and remnants of hideous wallpaper forgotten in corner. Then I taped. Then I primed. Then I painted. And painted. And painted.

During nap time. Late at night. This lasted for over a week. The paint fumes must have gone to my head, because at times, I started hallucinating that the lemon color I was using was in fact identical to the pukey school-bus yellow that had previously been there. I started seeing both colors swirling before my eyes, and I couldn't tell whether the walls were getting any lighter or not.

Finally, it was over. And then I looked up and noticed the ceiling. Compared to the shiny brilliance of the now fresh walls, the ceiling looked downright filthy.

Argh.

Another two days to paint the ceilings a crisp white.



Countless days spent on the wall magnet board project - framed squares of magnetic painted wall space.



It was a work in progress through the whole renovation. I had to enlist help for this baby. I thought it would be so simple to buy some wood molding and use it to frame a painted space. I learned my lesson. Best to leave the cutting of wood to people who know what they are doing. Thanks Michael! I did manage to stain them and get them up on the walls myself. Of course I effed up the measurements, but I fudged it with some more paint.



I'm tempted to buy those little magnetic words and phrases and put them up on the wall in obscene combinations because I have a demented sense of humor like that. But for now, we're content with Disney characters, happy faces, and Mina's laminated hand-print, courtesy of messy-art class.



The Target storage bins keep things tidy. These were remarkably easy to put together. One hour of nap time total, all by myself!



I'm working on getting the kids to put things back in the cubbies.



The firehouse bookshelf, also from Target, was a complete b-$%^%&ch to put together. I am almost ashamed to admit to the amount of time this thing took to put together solo.



Instead, I'm just going to show you the instructions that accompanied it. That's right. It's just pictures. Diagrams, to be precise, of the steps to take to assemble the bookshelf.

If I was good at this kind of thing, trust me, I would not have wound up in law school. I'm a word person, people. Can't you tell? The only words this thing came with appear on that sheet of paper that says "STOP! Don't bother returning this product to the store, dumb-ass. Wrap it all up again and ship it to the manufacturer directly. Go ahead, we dare you."



It did have an unexpected design element that the kids have enjoyed tremendously.



The new rug from Lowes was considerably less expensive than the one I had been eyeing from Company Store for Kids; and the colors worked better in our room. Miss Mina has been enjoying the plush feel between her toes.



I got a couple of simple corkboards to display the ever-growing assortment of artwork. And I've secretly vowed to rotate artwork weekly, while tactfully disposing of the old stuff. Between preschool and art classes, Jordan and Mina are prolific. Two corkboards may not be enough unless I recycle.



I kept a few older, functional pieces ...



as well as the old toys that some could not part with.



"Vintage" cars made an appearance, carefully preserved from Monkey Sr.'s childhood days.



There's a little bit of whimsy..



A little bit of sentimentality...



and of course, a bean-bag chair for each of them. Yet they somehow manage to find their way onto the same one every time.



Oscar remains barred from the playroom. Some things never change.



Don't feel too bad for him. This is the world's most pampered Brussels Griffon. Those of you who've had the misfortune to meet him in person, know exactly the lengths we go to for this dog.



And so, there you have it. The longest post...in honor of the longest day. Have a glorious summer everyone!
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