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Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Weekend of Firsts and Lasts

My garage has been the sort of structure that you didn't want to look too closely at, lest it just give up and fall over, for a very long time. This is certainly true of the eight years I've lived here. But this winter, the roof finally gave up a little and started leaking, so long deferred plans to repair finally had to be moved into action. The only question was: how bad is it? My dad came down to take a look, and found that one wall was pretty much being held up by the roof and some sheetrock since the foundation board had long since turned to dust. Fixing it was very urgent, but he thought he could do it for not too much money (around $5k), and a lot of labor. Any plans I had for the 4th of July holiday quickly got erased and replaced with a garage rebuild. I took off Thursday and Friday and invited friends to help swing hammers and commenced a grand adventure.

After a morning spent in prep for the rebuild, we spent a lovely holiday afternoon by the grill at Paul, Karen, and Crystal's place. Lorelei splashed in the fountain while Athena wore the outfit that Lorelei had worn two years earlier. We relaxed a bit knowing that the rest of the weekend would be a nothing but work.
And because we didn't have enough to do already, our peach/plum tree delivered it's crop and Erik spent hours picking fruit. On Wednesday night, it was clear that there were too many peaches to fit in the fridge, and that some of them had gotten tears or bumps that meant they wouldn't last the night, even in the fridge. Erik packed as many as he could into green bags and left a pile on the counter to blanch before bed. We blanched and peeled and froze pounds and pounds of peaches. In December, they will be a lovely treat. We poured ourselves into bed at 1 a.m., praying the baby would not be up early.

Proving once again that she's totally awesome, Athena slept til 9:30. We all got up together, and Erik shuffled off to take his car in. I followed after feeding the baby and then dropped him at home to finish the prep work. Athena and I ran to Costco and Safeway to grab food for the weekend. I raced home and found my dad and the first of our helpers - Paul and Karen and Athena - already working on the garage.

Here began a pattern for the weekend which I couldn't seem to break. Athena needed to be fed, then changed, then she'd nap a little and I'd pump and just when I'd get free to go out and help, she'd wake up and I'd feed her again and set her up to play in the kitchen while I dealt with processing more fruit. Everyone was slaving away on my garage and I felt totally useless to the cause. But, the baby was cared for and out of the way, so that's something. That, and I made 15 trays of baby food, a half-dozen containers of frozen peaches, and a pie.

Meanwhile, the garage was rapidly transforming. Sledge hammers and Skil saws and pry bars - oh my! Our neighbors, Kim and Diego, were just finishing a similar project and had a 40 yard dumpster in their driveway. We'd chatted with them and Diego encouraged us to use the empty space in his dumpster, so many wheelbarrows full of debris headed across the street to fill the last of their dumpster space before it went away.

On Friday, Jennifer and Brian joined us and I finally made it outside for a bit with Athena. She sat in her Bumbo in the back of Dad's truck, supervising our efforts.

I at least got one task done, but ultimately, things like Skil saws are too loud for a little baby's delicate ears, so having her out there was not a good idea. After an hour of trying to cover her ears for each cut, she needed food again, so I headed back inside and gave up the idea of bringing her back out. Instead, I'd serve as support crew: making lunch, running to the store for more supplies, and keeping the baby out of the way. Athena was busy discovering her voice and spent the weekend with a whole serenade of squeals and sounds.

By Saturday, extra help arrived - Thad and Lori, plus Athena and Cyrus. Still, it was clear that this wasn't going to wrap up this weekend. Early hopes of pounding through it were dashed and I started to clear the calendar for another weekend. And I processed more peaches. I'm pretty sure this is the last time I'm going to spend this much effort blanching and peeling fruit. I don't know how my grandmother did it for all these years. Erik and I had a joke when I was pregnant about not wanting to be a "frontier wife." This typically surrounded the idea of having a baby without medical support, but this weekend, as I spent the entire time caring for a baby and making food and serving food and mopping up and he spent the entire time laboring on a construction project, and we both went to bed exhausted, I came out at the end of the day on Saturday and said, "I don't wanna be a frontier wife!" and told them that I was happy to drive them anywhere for dinner, but that I was not cooking again, until tomorrow.

Sunday dawned and Erik headed up to the roof while I made breakfast. By noon, he headed to Home Depot to rent a jackhammer. A strip of concrete needed to be chipped out, and the jackhammer made short work of it. On Saturday, Athena had cheerfully said, "I've never gotten to use a jackhammer before!" and sure enough, she grabbed it and chipped away. I walked out of the house at one point to see three guys standing around watching her jackhammer. Never once have I doubted her as Athena Huge and Mighty. My dad thinks she's the bee's knees. Usually he's a bit dubious about girls doing hard labor, but Saturday night he was singing her praises as the best worker on the job.


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Meanwhile, I was keeping the girls sequestered in the house. Lorelei was napping and Athena was playing in her exersaucer. After one round of food, Athena started chewing on my finger and I noticed something pointy. Sure enough, her first tooth was poking through on her lower jaw.

Athena is rapidly transforming. Sunday night she had her first bit of solid food - a bit of mashed avocado. After a few weeks of watching us eat so intently, I'm pretty sure she was thoroughly disappointed by the experience. The look on her face was not, "Yum! Food!" but much more of, "What is this awful stuff?" Oh well. We'll try again tomorrow.  She also had her last bath on the dining table. In the past, she'd sit fairly placidly while we washed her. Now she's decided that bathtime is fun, especially if you kick the water. We'd had suspicions from the last few baths, but she achieved new heights of glee in splashing. We'd laid down a vinyl cover over the table, but soon the towel, the floor, the buffet and I were all soaking wet. There was nothing to do but laugh at ourselves (and start to figure out where we could take her for swim lessons).

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