Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Make it Happen!

Come catch a glimpse of our new front window that our friend Ron installed last night! Nathan, Benjamin, and Ron's son Seth zoomed around the neighborhood on bikes and scooters, played with all our musical instruments (boy band!), and enjoyed ice cream sandwiches before dusk when Ron packed up his tools to go home.
It's amazing the feelings of peace and serenity and bubbles of joy that a new door and a new window provide. It's hard to wrap my mind around just how distressing those things were to me on a subconscious level. Next up is replacing the broken sliding patio door. It sounds a bit like we've been living in a broken down shack, eh?

Today the plumbers came and repaired the leak, tomorrow they come back and repair the ruined wall. Today also featured me chopping down a tree and cutting it into small enough pieces to fit into our trash bin, all by myself, while Ben practiced riding his bike up and down the sidewalk for two hours, non-stop. My hands are raw, my back is sore, but I did manage to squeeze in a nap in a patch of warm Southern California sunlight streaming through our bedroom window- one of life's greatest pleasures as far as I'm concerned. Life is good, and only getting better!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Handy Manny

There's a show on Disney Channel which is Disney's answer to the wildly popular (and lucrative) Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer. Handy Manny features the voice of That 70's Show Wilmer Valderrama as a bilingual repair man who happily takes his talking tools around town repairing things while whistling a merry tune and dropping Spanish vocab to four and five year olds. My boys are too old for it, but Michael and I sing the (very) annoying theme song whenever we do something particularly handy around the house.

Today I had my very own Handy Manny in Michael, who ripped out the door on our service porch and replaced it with a pre-hung fiberglass door all by himself. Is there nothing my man cannot do? Now instead of a door that was literally falling apart and provided no security, I have a beautiful door to lock out the bad guys and still give me a view of the lemon tree while I do laundry! Very nice!

We left a long list of things on our house that need to be repaired and/or replaced immediately for our landlady and didn't hear from her for days. We called and stopped by, but nada! It turns out she went on a trip to Sweden, got sick, had surgery, and is still there in the hospital. At over eighty years old, my guess is that she's not coming home any time soon. So we finally got in touch with her daughter who said we could go ahead and do the repairs ourselves and get reimbursed, and that she'd hire a plumber for the one repair beyond our skill set. Yes, I know we're giving her free labor, but if I have to wait for months on end for a broken window, a burst pipe, and a busted door to get fixed, I will not be a happy Mama. And you know what they say about what happens when Mama ain't happy! So between Mike and our friend Ron (check out his new blog about home repair!) we are making it happen ourselves. And tonight, with my beautiful safe new door installed, this Mama is happy!

Thanks Michael!
Here is the busted door. It was so warped that if you were to lean on it with all your body weight you could've walked right into our house. NOT good!


Michael ripped out the old door and the frame, and installed a brand new pre-hung fiberglass door.

The new door in place! All it needs is some molding around the door frame and we've got ourselves the nicest door on the block! And that guy there in the tool belt is pretty cute, too.

Biker Dude


We always say our youngest son Benjamin is physically gifted, particularly when contrasted against the other three Chases. He's got rhythm, balance, speed, daring, and quick reflexes. Before he turned two he mastered hitting a ball with a bat. At three he was doing tricks on a two wheeled Razor scooter. At four he was giving me heart palpitations riding a skateboard. But for some unknown reason, he has never expressed any interest in riding a two-wheeled bike. I thought for sure he'd be the youngest cyclist in the neighborhood, riding circles around everyone else! But no, not even close.
Instead of a bike, Ben loves to ride a huge metal trike that Michael and his siblings rode as children. Nathan, a big kid at age 8, can still ride the trike. And because it's fun and easy to ride, Ben never really wanted to switch to a bike. However, for his 6th birthday we decided it was time for him to learn.
We live on a great block in a very safe, child-friendly neighborhood where kids can ride their bikes, scooters, and skateboards without excessive fear of crazy drivers. My parents bought Ben a shiny new bike that came with training wheels (in the photo above). But since his birthday he's only ridden it four or five times, despite lots of encouragement from us. The training wheels seemed to get in the way of actually learning to ride the bike and it wasn't fun for him.
Today Ben told me he wanted the training wheels off, and Michael obliged. The neighborhood kids came out to watch and cheer, and Ben took off riding like a pro. Well, he did run into the neighbor's bush on his first run, and Mike got a workout running alongside him for a few trips, but that was about it. Now he's riding like he's been doing it forever, putting the rest of us less physically gifted Chases totally to shame! Way to go Benjamin!
Video of bush-whacker, Biker dude Benjamin:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sweet Nothings...

I know, I know. This blog is about BOYS. But every now and then I have to slip in a little girlie stuff. Like this sweet treat:

I've been making all those birthday tees for the kids I know and one of my grown-up friends begged me to make one for her upcoming birthday. Unlike the ones I've made for kids, she didn't want her age on it! I thought a little bit about her... she loves to make these giant cupcakes for people's birthdays and she runs a kid's cooking party company where one of her themes is a cupcake bar (she has photos of my boys on her website from Nathan's 6th birthday). So a big appliqued cupcake tee it was! Ben, my color consultant, chose the color of the tee and the fanciful fabric, and I created the art. I was going to do a birthday candle, but decided a cherry would be more wearable year round. Of course, now my friend wants me to make some aprons with the same design for her and her employees to wear to the parties... So maybe my long neglected sewing machine will be getting some love and affection on a more regular basis! If I can keep the Lego's and art supplies off all the horizontal surfaces around here, that is!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Artist at work

This week we switched kids and sent Nathan up to my parents and kept Ben all to ourselves. And what does Ben like to do with his time? Paint!


As I'm going through tossing stuff out, I found some washable paints and paintbrushes and handed them to Ben. The first day he made giant flowers. Today he's working on a smaller painting of a teddy bear. He's so deliberate with painstaking attention to detail. I love his descriptive words for colors ("that is purple Mom, I was hoping for more of a silvery-violet shade...") and his ideas of what an artist should be like. Please note he's not wearing a shirt in the photo above... he said it stifled his creativity! This totally baffles me... we are a creative family and talk about creativity all the time, but we do it with our shirts on! Oh well. It's fun to see him develop his own unique ideas! He said I can't post a photo of the painting in progress, only when it's complete. With Ben, that could be a day or two...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sushi Boy


Nathan loves sushi and sashimi like some kids love candy. It's not something we normally have around here, but his classmates bring it in their lunches and they're happy to trade for his PB&J's. Once he actually got to make some when a parent brought in the ingredients for the kids to make crab rolls. Due to the high number of Asians in our hometown, we've got some of the best Asian markets in the U.S. Even our national chain grocery stores sell fresh sushi, and one of them employs a lady who makes it fresh as you order it. Every time we go in, Nathan sighs longingly in the direction of the refrigerated sushi case. This week Ben was at my parents and we had only Nathan to lavish our time and attention on. So when we went to the market and he asked, I said okay, and we came home with some crab rolls. Which he consumed at an astonishing rate.
His favorite thing is what he calls the "Spicy Guacamole" (wasabi). He eats it alone, dipping a finger into it and licking it off. I'm not surprised he can tolerate the spiciest of spicy foods... as a ten month old baby he ate salsa with a spoon, lapping it up like other babies ate their bland applesauce. I don't even want to think about what his spicy diet may bring in the future. All I know is that Nathan is hands-down the healthiest member of the Chase family, only going to the doctor for his annual check up, and has perfect attendance at school. His diet reflects his personality as well... we always say that Nathan is the spice of life, keeping things from getting bland!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What not to say in a bank

The boys have noticed that all the Washington Mutual Banks around here have been converted to Chase Bank now that JP Morgan/Chase bought up the chain. Based on past experience with them, we really, really despise Chase. We lost hundreds of dollars, a couple days of work, and a small chunk of sanity dealing with an error they made on the company credit card while we lived in Hong Kong. We vowed never to deal with them again, and were horrified when WaMu got bought out by our namesake nemesis! Nooo! The boys, however, think it's the most amazing thing ever to have a bank named after them! They're celebrities! They're filthy rich! If only, right?
We're exploring new banking options but in the meantime still have to go in each week to do our personal and business banking. And without fail, the teller always says to me, "huh, your last name is Chase. Do you own this bank?" Believe me, it's getting very, very old.
Today when I went in, there was a hyper, overeager teller who was asking me question after question about our business, how long we've lived here, how many kids we have, etc. It was just non-stop. And then, of course, she pulled out the question of my last name and asked if we own the bank. And I, already a bit frustrated with the pepper spray of questions, blurted out, "yeah, so you should just give me all your money."
That not only shut her up, it made all the blood drain from her face and her mouth fall wide open! I had to quickly backtrack and say that it came it wrong, I didn't mean it like that, it wasn't my intention to say those words in that order in that building or anywhere near it, and that I was sorry and uh, can I just have my receipt and take my kids and get out of there... Which I did. Quickly. Yikes.
Way to go, Mrs. Chase.

Summer

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Forget your troubles, come on get happy!

With the weight of major decisions weighing on us, we grabbed sandwiches for dinner and headed for the most soothing place around...
The beach.
No sunset tonight, there was far too much fog. But the noisy repetitive motion of the waves was enough to quiet our minds and bodies for a couple of hours.

We bundled up heavily - it may be August, but it's chilly here in the morning and evening!

What could possibly be weighing us down, you ask? Well, nothing after a walk along the shore at dusk!

But in all seriousness we are facing the issue of living in a rented house that has a few major things wrong with it at the moment. We sent a list with photos of the things that need to be fixed to our ninety year old landlady along with the rent check, and then we waited. And we called and left messages, and then we waited. And we waited. Finally we called her maintenance man direct, and we found out she's out of the country in Sweden, the land of her birth. And then we got a call from her son, saying not only is she in Sweden, she's in hospital in Sweden. So the problems of our house are the furthest thing from her mind, even though they are the first thing in ours. We're faced with a few options and they are all difficult, not an obviously easy one in the bunch. It seems like every time I say something along the lines of "Wow, this was a really difficult year," it simply gets even more complicated with all new challenges to be tackled.

So a little Pacific Ocean therapy was in order. When you stand on the edge of our state, our country, our continent... all those giant challenges just seem to shrink. For a little bit anyway!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reunion

Showing up late (very late) to the family reunion meant we missed seeing relatives that I've never met. Although everyone insists that I have, it would have been when I was a child and I have no memory of it. Instead, we got to hang with the family we know best, my Dad's oldest sister, her two daughters and their families. And of course, my brother and his wife. But for Nathan, there were two people he was especially excited to see.
The first would be my cousin Josh, (who stayed with us in Hong Kong) and got a welcome that included a running start and a flying leap...
And the other would be Josh's Mom, my cousin Kelly. Kelly is that cool cousin who always pulls out a neat, new toy for the boys when they come over and instead of sending them off to play, she goes and plays with them. And, she's always got something cool in her pocket... like a bag of water balloons...
They started nice and friendly, doing a simple toss back and forth...
But it quickly grew down and dirty with both of them totally soaked. Never mind that everyone else was sitting around freezing as the marine fog covered the park... these two got soaked!

And had a blast! Thanks Kelly! You're the best!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Little Brother

Before there was Nathan, before there was Ben, there was my first baby. My baby brother, Marty.
Aren't we sweet? I was born on Christmas Eve, and my brother was born exactly twelve months and one week later, on New Year's Day. Our last name is Rose, and growing up, my brother thought the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl were done in his honor, especially for his January 1st birthday! I don't get to see my little brother very often. In fact, the last time I saw him was six year ago right after the birth of our youngest, Benjamin. Until today, anyway. There was a big family reunion today, which we missed most of due to a previous obligation. But we snuck in right at the end and got to hang with my closest (and coolest) cousins, and the best part, my baby brother.
Yeah, I gotta say that we aren't nearly as cute as we were back in 1975! But it was great to see him and just listen to him talk after a six year absence!
Benjamin went home with my Mom and Dad for the week, so it was just Nathan with us at the reunion who got to visit with Uncle Marty. Here is the first time Nathan met Uncle Marty, after we moved back to the US from Japan:
I can't tell who has the crazier look in their eyes!
Here is Uncle Marty and Nathan today:
My cousins, to whom my Dad is "Uncle Marty," got a great kick out of the fact that my brother is also "Uncle Marty" to my kids! There are a lot of Martins in our family tree, and Benjamin got to keep the name going for another generation as Benjamin Martin Chase.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Water, water everywhere

I've always really hated those cheap water pistols that are impossible to keep from cracking and loosing pressure. And the newer, high powered water blasters are tons of fun, but require lots of help from grown ups to keep refilling them. So what to do when the weather is warm and the kids wanna get wet?
We head to Costco, or Target, or the Dollar Store to pick up a pack of spray bottles, fill them with water and instant hours of fun. You can adjust the nozzle and have a long stream of water or more of a fine mist. And the best part is when the water runs out, the kids can easily refill the bottles themselves, no help from Mom required! Summer fun for everyone!

***I will mention that in our house. all our cleaning products are kept in their original packaging - we don't put them in other spray bottles. So if you try this at home and do use this type of bottle to store chemicals or cleaning products, please save yourself lots of heartache and label the bottles and keep the chemicals locked up.***

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Go Ben

I love that my boys love yogurt. I normally buy them the most wholesome kind I can find, made with organic milk, without food coloring and with real fruit. They would eat it all day if I let them, which I don't.


At some point they've both experienced a sugary concoction called Go-Gurt, which bears little resemblance to the stuff I normally let them consume. It comes in a tube a lot like a very long ketchup packet. You rip off the top and suck it out. And every time I take the kids shopping with me, they beg me for it. With much whining and crying and pleading. I always say NO. I know, I'm mean that way.


Yesterday Michael took Nathan to see a movie and I took Ben with me to the market. As we passed the yogurt, Ben paused. He then quietly got my attention and without the slightest hint of a whine said to me, "Mom, whenever we ask if we can have Go-Gurt, you always say no. I would really like it if you said yes this time."


I must admit, I gave in, and now we have a case of Go-Gurt in our fridge for the very first time. I explained that this was a one time deal, not a regular thing. It's more like candy than yogurt, with all the sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and major food coloring. But that's okay, this one time. And I hope that Ben learned that speaking calmly and being reasonable bears more fruit than the whining and crying. Well, maybe not fruit so much as fructose, but you get my drift.


And now back to our regularly scheduled Summer Vacation, of which there are only five weeks remaining...