Monday, October 29, 2007

Pics From Paradise

We didn't get a lot of good pictures at the beach this year. I suppose that part of the reason was that we were constantly either chasing or lugging children around, but that's a bit of a copout. I fear the novelty of the blog is wearing off - not that I'm losing interest in posting, but the inspiration it gave me to do a better job with pictures is fading.

I did want to document that Sophie has one of the cutest little bathing suits in the history of mankind, and also that she didn't like the sand. Thank goodness for the beach blanket and that she was somewhat entertained by banging around an empty or near-empty bucket and sand shovel. Once that activity got old, she was either crying or looking miserable and drifting off to sleep in my lap.

Will, on the other hand, was pretty enthusiastic about the sand and the beach in general, which was nice to see!

Now that Sophie's turned one, we've decided to let her start wearing makeup. Next year maybe we'll get her a perm and teach her to shave her legs.
I had to post this picture just to show I don't always look as weird as in the one above.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Scarecrow and The Mouse

We're getting a lot of mileage out of the Halloween costumes this year. Friday night we went to the Holman's annual Halloween bash. Our kids were the only people dressed up this year, but that's OK. They didn't really notice and they're much too young to be embarrassed anyway.

Saturday night was our church's Trunk or Treat. Will cleaned up BIG TIME (when the candy bucket is too heavy for you to carry, it may mean it's time to stop!) while Sophie helped Daddy distribute candy to others. A great time was had by all. And we still have "actual" Halloween to look forward to!

Thanks to Grandmom for the mouse suit and to Weston Sharpe for the scarecrow!

P.S. Sophie took 14 Sequential Staggering Steps at Trunk or Treat, obliterating her old record of 4 SSS's.

P.P.S. I can't sign off on this post without sharing my thankfulness that this year's Halloween experience is shaping up differently from last year's. Last year Andy and Will went to Trunk or Treat alone while I spent Day 3 with 6-week-old Sophie at Vanderbilt during her RSV scare. Here are a couple of photos from last year's Trunk or Treat day:

God is so good and what a difference a year makes!

Friday, October 26, 2007

One (or two) small steps for Rof-kind

So Soph-a-Rof is finally figuring out that she too is meant to travel vertically on only two legs. We've thought she was on the verge of walking for a couple of months, but I guess it took her a while to realize that this accomplishment was within her grasp. A few nights ago, Andy and I started standing her up in between us and watching her Step-Step-Fall into the other parent's arms. Now comes the really fun part where we "catch" her taking off on her own. Her little grin of excitement and delight when she takes a few steps is incomparably more rewarding than the attainment of the milestone. She gets it.

Sometimes I think she understands way too much. Today we were at the mall, kids in their side-by-side double stroller while I trolled the sale racks. Will was asleep (hallelujah!) and reclined, while Sophie happily pulled at whatever merchandise was within her reach. She soon tired of that and I saw a mischievious look in her eye. Without warning, she lunged for The Sleeping Giant's hands. "No Soph!" I exclaimed. She looked at me and grinned and scrunched her little nose in classic Sophie fashion. Then a moment later, POW! Another grab at Will's hands! "No ma'am!" Then... "Unh! Unh!" accompanied by outstretched arms and writhing.

Translation: "OK, Mom... I'm bored. I can either wake up Brother and watch the havoc this will create for you, which is sure to entertain, or you can pick me up and hold me while you shop. It's your choice."

Of course, I chose the latter.

Score one more for the Soph-a-Rof.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Real Deal (Warning: Preachy real estate post to follow)

(This post is from back in June, but since I haven't had a chance to compose anything in a few days, I thought I might as well publish it now...)

Does anyone else watch all those real estate rehab shows on TLC, HGTV, etc.? We can't resist watching them. We applaud those shows, few and far between, that show realistic profits and follow stories to the end. A deal isn't a deal until you've both left the closing table, and the TV shows often show gross profits before holding costs, closing costs and real estate commissions, which makes the business look like much easier money than it is!

When Richard and the Trademark Properties gang were on Flip This House, we thought they were pretty good. However, the show became increasingly annoying as it began to seem that silly incidents were engineered for the show, and there was a dramatic decrease in actual educational content. (Oh, and don't even get me started about the next company they profiled, the Ultra-Shady Montelongos. That's a whole separate post.)

Now, Trademark Properties has its very own show called "The Real Deal". Richard's current M.O. seems to consist of 1) talking in circles with the intonation of a cheesy motivational speaker, 2) distracting his employees from getting actual work done and 3) busting things up just for fun.

On Sunday Andy and I were working at Durrett. We were talking about how we needed to resell the vanity, sink and mirror we took out of the bathroom. I was pulling up scalloped landscaping bricks and we were trying to figure a productive use for them, especially since they are heavy and kind of a pain to get rid of. Might we be able to powerwash them and sell them on Craigslist? Might we be able to give them away in their current state? When I accidentally broke one, I was a little sad to see something of value destroyed (well, actually I was more upset to see more trash created that would have to be disposed of!).

We're far from experts and I'm not suggesting that focusing on minutiae is wise. But I submit to you that in contrast to Richard, we (along with thousands of other investors) are the real deal. Real investors don't tear things up for fun. They don't spend their time making meaningless speeches. They work hard and make hard decisions about what to utilize, what could be utilized by others, and what needs to be disposed of, and especially what to do, what to hire out, and what not to do.

Oh, and we've yet to throw each other in a pool even ONCE while on the job!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Caucasian Shashlik

You guys should really check out the site above featuring Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 1970s. My brother Vic forwarded it to me and I found it to be quite hilarious. Of course, it WAS the last week before my royalties were due out so I may have been a bit hysterical. But my favorite recipe has to be the Caucasian Shashlik. I can't wait to try that one out!

(You have to notice the titles on the blue header bar at the top of each window... some of the funniest comments are there.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Playin' It Safe

I don't know if you guys remember, or if you even saw the commercial, but I grew up under the instruction of Larry the Lightning Bug (, who explained that "You Gotta Play It Safe Around Electricity!" I'm not sure Larry would approve of our breakfast area.

Apparently we have a budding electrician in our family. Will spends hours with unused construction outlets, plugging in any appliance he can find and pretending to use it. His collection includes a small crock-pot, a can opener, a battery charger, a pre-lit jack-o-lantern, several fans and vacuum cleaners and three curling irons.

While this looks pretty dangerous, he has been extremely trustworthy and completely understands that he cannot plug anything into the wall. He begs us interminably to plug things in for him, but he will not violate this important rule. However, although the risk of electric shock is low, the risk of tripping and falling is great!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Southlake, Day... um... 53?

By the time I post pictures of the Southlake house, they are out of date, but this is a good thing!
You may notice a subtle difference in the house's exterior...

Ta-Da! Awesome new cabinets. (I have to add that they have crown molding on them now, not yet pictured. I am a firm believer in crown molding above cabinets!)
Just because we think they're pretty, the countertops are shown below. They were not yet installed and just sitting up against the wall when the picture was taken. We use so many of the same tried-and-true products and colors in our remodels, it was exciting to try a new countertop pattern!
Bathroom vanity. Woo-hoo! (But next time, please wipe your hands.)
Living room...
Since the pictures were taken, besides the cabinet crown molding, much of the other trim has been installed. The shutters are up. Most of the light fixtures are in, minus a couple we haven't purchased yet. (There's a long and sordid tale about a missed opportunity on a demo ceiling fan from Lowe's that was supposed to go in the dining room, but I won't get into that now. The wound's still fresh.)

Still to do: Finish electrical and trim. Paint trim. Refinish hardwoods. Tile bathroom and grout both bathrooms and kitchen. Plumbing trim-out. Andy's not here right now or I'm sure the list could continue.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Another Open Call!

Not to use the blog as a bulletin board or anything...

OK, actually to use it an awful lot like a bulletin board...

If any of you know of any responsible folks looking for a house to rent, please pass the word along that we have one that will be available next month. There's all sorts of pictures and information at our website, This was our first house, so we can attest that it's a great place to be!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Fantastic Deal and an Open Call

This weekend my sister Sylvia came to visit during her fall break. She is a kindergarten teacher, so she is great with the kids. We went to the zoo and did other fun and exciting things like go to Target and to Vanderbilt so Sophie could participate in a behavioral study. There Sophie displayed her total and complete lack of interest in videos and in responding to verbal cues therein. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

We also went garage sale-ing, where Sylvia proved to be quite the good-luck charm. We had a successful day. Most notably, I picked up the following:

The collection above consists of boys clothes, sizes 0-24 months/2T. Most of the items are 18 months or 24 months. Unfortunately, Will wears mostly 3T now. You may be asking yourself why I would buy all these clothes when they don't fit my child. A very good question. I am asking myself the same thing. But you have to understand the situation:

At this garage sale, things were cheaply priced. But if we touched anything or showed any interest in an item, a MUCH cheaper price was immediately volunteered. Even though it was only 10:30 am, the lady was complaining about needing to close up her sale and take everything to Goodwill because her son had a soccer game at noon. She had two large bins of clothes that were all 25 cents a piece. I couldn't resist asking her if she wanted to make a deal on the whole collection. She said, "Sure, how about $5?" And the deal was done. (She later added that she did want to keep the big Rubbermaid bins, which made me laugh. As if for $5 I would think that I could take the bins! And as if they would fit in my trunk! So she provided two big black garbage bags, which were filled to the brims for my $5.)

Because I am a dork, I counted the items and there are about 128. So that comes out to 4 cents per item!

A brief description of the items: They are pretty much all name-brand clothes and cute. There's a lot of Children's Place and Gymboree things. They are mostly casual separates. Most of them look pretty current and have no stains. There are a ton of flannel and fleece sleepers, so many that Sylvia asked, "Did they have twins?!" because we couldn't figure out how one little boy in Tennessee could need so many. As noted above, most of the items are 24 months, but there's a lot of 18 month stuff too. (In the picture, they are in rows by sizes and the back row is 24 months, next row is 18 months, etc.)

So now I ask you, my dear blogging friends, do you know anyone that could use these? It might be you or a friend or someone you know of that may not have a lot of extra money. It really doesn't matter. What I cannot find a home for, I may consign or I may see if I can donate to AGAPE or somewhere like that. I just cannot resist a deal!

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Ring Farm

A couple of weeks ago we went to The Ring Farm* ( in Columbia with a bunch of friends. They have a corn "maze" each year, which is really a map of a local county with historical facts about each locale. We also took advantage of the hayride and firepit they offered, bringing our own hot dogs and s'mores supplies. They even had a corn cannon and a little play area for the kiddos. We had a really nice time and enjoyed weather that was Fall-ish if not exactly Fall-like - definitely a nice change after the unbelievably hot summer we've had!

* The farmer's last name is Ring. I kept having to reassure myself that this place was not at all haunted or related to the movie "The Ring", and thus a visit was not at all apt to result in anyone's death within the following week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Two Toddlers?

So I realized yesterday that like a visit from Haley's comet, I am in the midst of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For the four weeks that we are in the middle of right now, I have two "toddlers". (Apparently, anyone between the ages of 12 months and 36 months is considered a toddler.) Ironically, one of my toddlers has acted like a preschooler for several months now and the other doesn't yet toddle, so I guess these "lines in the sand" are pretty meaningless!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Southlake, Day 46

Here's the latest on the Southlake property. The progress was slowed a bit by some inspections, but we're back on track now... and in sheetrock!

Living room with a view of the kitchen and dining rooms.


New shower with the future sink area on the left

Living room

Dining room

Exterior with new landscaping

Andy started laying the ceramic tile yesterday. There'll be new ceramic tile in both bathrooms and the kitchen. This week the painters will start working and the new cabinets will be delivered, so it should be a week of dramatic change!