Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Separate but equal

Last Wednesday the girls started first grade. This year, they are in separate classrooms. I think they are ready, and I think they will flourish. The two first grade teachers are both exceptional by all accounts, so this is a good time for the girls to venture out on their own. There were some reservations expressed by both girls in the past few weeks, but not much discussion on THE BIG DAY.

Here they are now...


Abigail chose a dress that was a size 4, just shy of being too small, but she could still squeeze into it, and it was so darned cute I couldn't say no. Mae chose to wear the same dress she wore on the first day of kindergarten...a pinstiped number that says "I mean business". Both the girls have done a lot of growing, but it seems they are getting taller without getting wider, so many of their dresses last longer...they just get shorter!

We stretched out last year's backpacks, which were an unfortunate light pink color. They were still fully functional, but predictably dingy. I let the girls spruce them up with some colored sharpies. No one will grab THESE by mistake!


Proud Papa walking his girls to school:


We met the principal and Aunt Gail in front of the cafeteria.


The kids line up before marching off to the classrroms:


Here goes Abigail, tiptoeing off to class!


And Mae, in a fairly somber mood:


She told me that afternoon that she was about to cry there. I'm so glad I didn't see that...I would have been right there with her! Goodbye, babies...


It wasn't until Mark and I were driving out of the parking lot that I suddenly felt like a big piece of me was missing.

And I did cry.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Boogie Board Time Machine

This past weekend was the last hurrah before the start of school tomorrow. We really wanted to get the kids to the coast at least once this year, so this was our window. We headed down to the Central Coast, stayed with friends, and had an absolute blast.

On Saturday, we headed up to Avila Beach, which tends to be relatively sunny and warm, compared to Pismo and the surrounding beaches. The forecast high was 73 degrees, and the ocean temp 57. I had NO intention of going into the water.

The beach trip was slightly hampered by the fact that we had left a significant portion of our clothing sitting near the door in Tollhouse. It was disguised in a Hefty bag, so Mark did not recognize it as "luggage". After 19 years of traveling with me, you'd think he'd be a little more attuned! Anyway, I had no bathing suit, so I had to borrow from my friend, who only had bikinis. Now, I have not worn a bikini since I had the twins...for good reason. I consider my stomach as a well-earned badge of honor (and some handy extra skin, if anyone needs some). But I wore a shirt over it, and it was just fine.

The kids (our two and their two) had a great time running in the surf, making sand castles, and burying each other. They also had a couple of boogie boards, and the older kids did a little surfing on those in the bigger waves. Then my friend Amy went out into the water. Well, I couldn't just sit there, could I? So I shed my shirt and hurriedly staggered in too. We waded out into the waves, which were fairly small, and dove under a few. Then, suddenly...a beautiful wave approached. A memory of body surfing as a child tugged at my brain. It was a great wave, and it was coming for me! Before I could over-think it, I started paddling, and I caught that wave! It was AWESOME! Next thing I know, I catch a few more, Amy and I run up to our towels, snag the Boogie Boards, and we were out there for close to an hour. In our bikinis. I forgot all about my matronly concerns, and I had an absolute ball (and got a heck of a sunburn)! Thankfully, no pictures to share.

We also explored tide pools, watched the sea lions play just off shore, checked out an art show, hit a winery to sample their wares, and just played. What a wonderful end to summer!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A place to hang out

It only took about a week after moving in to get the clothesline up and running. I must confess--I have experienced a new appreciation for my 1998 Maytag laundry equipment, because it it just sits there, waiting to serve my needs. Any time...day or night! I may find this constant presence oppressive after a while, but right now, I marvel in the ease and convenience of my own laundry. Just one of my many newfound gratitudes after a year and a half of trailer living!

Here's my first load:


And here's a bonus glamour shot:


Does that look fun, or what?? C'mon over...we'll hang out together!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in a name?

As we start of on the next phase of our Tollhouse experience, setting up a remodeling business, we have been searching for the right name. Maybe you can help!

Our "market analysis", which consisted of me looking through the Yellow pages and the local newspaper, show a total of 24 general contractors and two handymen. I know there are more than that, but it's a good ballpark. Of the 24, all but six are titled by the person's name or initials followed by the word "Construction". A pretty no-nonsense bunch! That was my initial leaning as well, thinking it was straightforward, professional, and would be easy for people to find (IF they could remember the name Schlaefer, but I figure they could get to the "S" page and find it.) On the other hand, maybe we should go for something catchy...something that will give a clue as to the character of the business. In the past, Mark has informally called his company "CM Hammer" which is symbolic of:

- Connie & Mark (couldn't do it the other way...MC Hammer was already taken, which also made this name especially clever...so we thought!)
- "See 'im" hammer (get it...har har)

What could beat that? We've had a heck of a lot of fun kicking possibilities around, so I have to share--maybe you'll want to join in! We are thinking that we should use "remodeling" to focus on Mark's preferred line of work, versus "construction", which brings to mind new construction. OK, here goes, in no particular order:

ALTERED ESTATES REMODELING

ATTENTIVE REMODELING

BETTER WAY REMODELING

ON THE MARK REMODELING

COW PI REMODELING

ROCKET SCIENCE REMODELING: “We work smarter for you”

ROCKET REMODELING

THE CONSERVATIVE CARPENTER

THE CREATIVE CARPENTER

CONTRAILS CONSTRUCTION (an exception to the "remodeling" rule due to the irresistible alliteration)

INTEGRAL REMODELING

PRECISE REMODELING

DONE RIGHT REMODELING

SIERRA CREST REMODELING

TITAN REMODELING

ROLLING OAKS REMODELING

So...whadaya think?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

By the Dawn's Early Light

Hopefully no one will be offended by the use of our national anthem to describe my kitchen. I think it is OK, because my kitchen, and the morning sunshine pouring into it are simply glorious! Lookit...


The light spills into the dining area...


This is one of my unanticipated favorite spots in the morning.


Here it is from the loft:


And here is the loft itself:


Now I ask you...Oh say can you see why inspirational songs come to mind?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birthdayfest Round Two

It has been less than two weeks since we've moved into the house, and yet we've still been down to the lake for four of those days. This explains all the lingering boxes! But as we all know, birthdays wait for no man...or woman. We took Katherine and Shawn (our guests during moving day) down to the lake, and we also took friends Jeffrey and Joyce, our Albuquerque buddies. But the big pull to the lake at this time of year, other than the hot weather and the water fun, is that my sisters both have their birthdays this time of year, and this is how they wish to celebrate.
So if you want to eat the birthday cake,
you must go down to Pine Flat Lake!

Early in the morning, Gail, Karen and I all go out for our "sister ski".


Here I am hamming it up:


The step after that, which I actually attempted, is to hold the handle with my foot. But apparently I don't bend that way anymore!

And I don't bend at all for a couple of days after this...


But totally worth it, yes?

We also commune with nature, swimming at night unencumbered by the external trappings of society, and observing local wildlife. Check out this bald eagle! A pair were hanging around on our end of the lake. We didn't see a nest, though.


After my three strenuous minutes of skiing, I drive the kids around on the raft, bouncing them senseless. Here's the raft with the houseboat in the background.


Look at the smiles on those faces:


The joy is contagious:


Hope you caught some too!