Recent Music from Sam

Sam has been working hard and growing his music skills. In orchestra, they had the chance to perform a song of their choice. Sam worked on the Godzilla theme for his cello. He performed it as a solo in front of a packed auditorium! I wasn’t able to attend, so Ben took this video for me. He did amazing!

On the piano, Sam has been practicing a piece called “Village Dance:”

Lastly, his whole 5th grade had to perform a mini musical. It was a very corny musical about zombies. Sam did a great job! He put his costume together and did the choreography very well. He had a featured part where he “tangos” with his friend. I took some close-up videos of him:

If you want to watch the whole 30 minute show, his teacher uploaded it here:

Winter Happenings

Here are lots of photos of other moments this year so far. Ugh, it loaded them in reverse-chronological order. Oh well! We’ll go backwards in time, and I’ll mix some up to match photo orientation, so it’s totally out of order!

Birthday Round-up

Just a quick post to share our quiet birthdays at home.

Ben celebrated his 43rd year with cake and presents.

And I did the same for my 42nd! We also went out to dinner at Red Robin – hot fries and burgers are a special treat! I busted out a puzzle gift and worked on it all week.

New Year, New Sewer, New Basement

After we bid farewell to family on Christmas night I downstairs to fetch an item from the basement, and lo, an unexpected pond.

Thanks to our work the previous winter, the drain overflowed as designed and the water didn’t cause any further damage. We bailed it out with buckets and towels and squeegees and set up fans overnight. Luckily I was able to get a plumber out the next next day, so we only had to live without drains/flushing for a short time.

Ho ho ho…

The plumber diagnosed tree roots in our main sewer line. He cut through them and cleared the clog, but warned it would grow back soon. We had the plumber back later in the week for a full scope. As expected, the main sewer line had several problems that will lead to frequent clogs, and the kitchen line was in terrible shape too.

After some research and pondering, we decided to replace both lines completely. Yes, it was very expensive. Yes, it was annoying and loud. Yes, the damage control was bad. But we should we set for decades of functional drains now. This job was inevitable, given the age of the house. In fact, we saw a neighbor getting trenched for the same job on the same day with a different company. The basement drain even flooded again between the scope and the replacement job.

The big day – the cats were secured in our room and the faucets and toilets taped off. They told us it would be a one day job and despite some setbacks they were true to their word. The plan was a trenchless replacement of the main sewer using a “pipe burst” method. But they figured out the angles of the lines wouldn’t work, so they had to do the old trench method. They laid down plywood before piling up the dirt. I think most of my gardern survived, thanks to Ben’s planning when we laid out the garden. I’m very curious what it will look like this summer.

I wanted to do all the post-replacement repairs myself to keep costs down. After the concrete dried I patched the floor around it to even out some gaps. Then I vacuumed and vacuumed and vacuumed. There was SO MUST concrete dust everywhere. Every wall had to be wiped, every trinket and book and picture had to be dusted. Every blanket and couch had to be washed or beaten and vacuumed. Then I replaced the carpet as best I could and gave it several turns with the vacuum. I had to replace some carpet tacks, use carpet glue and tape, and try to mend the tears from pulling it out.

Now I could work on the walls. I learned the basics of drywall repair and stubbornly brought home an 8 foot sheet of gypsum in my minivan (it BARELY fit). I cut and drilled the patches. I applied 3 layers of mud, sanding and texturing as best I could. With the repairs mostly done, I could focus on putting the room back together.

However, I always disliked that orange color from the previous owners. We had had to remove everything from the walls for safety while they jackhammered, and now the walls were bare and clean. It was the perfect time to paint.

The kids helped with the first coat. We picked a rich, dark green. After two coats and touch-ups, we set to work rehanging all the speaker wires and casing. The speakers used to be on janky shelves that was nearly broken. I swapped those for invisible wall hanging hardware. I replaced all the baseboards. We re-hung the theater screen and re-set the projector. I rearranged the artwork and shelf displays. I made a new storage system for all of Ben’s video game disk collection (out of sight and his Amiibo/Disney Infinity figures (proudly displayed). Finally, we replaced the hand-me-down couches for new theater seating. The new couches have cupholders, a drop down table, power access and lights, and are not beige.

Final Reveal!

After a short break I tackled the spare room – no changes there. Just meticulous dusting and vacuuming, and fitting everything back in it’s place.

I haven’t gotten around the repairing the kitchenette area. That’s a future Rachel problem.

Christmas 2023

We had a picturesque Christmas with the Waterhouses this year. We puzzled together, talked together, and opened many fun, generous gifts. We had snow and went sledding, and we went to the Nutcracker Ballet. I LOVED it! That silly show is so close to my heart. We ate lots of great food and the kids had the novel experience of waiters and table service. (Our dining habits have changed a lot since 2020!) We talked with the Masons and generally had a very jolly Christmas!

Sledding videos! I can’t believe my parents didn’t break any bones. They were really going for it!

Pre-Christmas fun

Here are some of the things we did leading up to Christmas 2023 (these might be out of order).

Sam’s Spelling Bee

Sam came in 4th place at his school’s Spelling Bee today! They provided a livestream link to the show, and as long as they leave it up you can watch him at the link below. His words are at:

24:40 subway
37:10 bronze
46:45 howdy
53:45 pantry
1:02:56 stroll
1:06:17 drawl
1:09:40 vision
1:13:10 furniture
1:15:36 composition (miss)

We are so proud of Sam! He didn’t prep much, just wanted to play “for fun.” He said afterward “Now I know how fast my heart can beat!” For real. I can’t stand the stress of Spelling Bees. I’m glad he is satisfied with his performance. Way to go!

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