Saturday, August 30, 2008

To Bathe or Not to Bathe? That is the Question.

Let's see what's been happening at Chez Freshour since we got back from vacation shall we?

Hey, here's our now tidewater blue master bedroom.

Lest any of you think I'm an overachiever, which would be impossible if you have read this blog for any length of time, you'll note the ongoing absence of window treatments. But not to worry because now we have a really big mirror in front of the window which will surely buy me some time since no one in the world wants to come and take if off our our hands.

Case in point. The last bathroom mirror we took down came from the kids' bathroom - see it over there on the left?

This is what the bathroom looks like now (below). I realize the color scheme is not for the faint of heart. But I adore it. There are surfboards on the shower curtain that remind me of (sniff, sniff) California.

Habitat for Humanity was delighted to take the old cabinets and vanity when we remodeled, but the mirror? Not so much. This spring, my brother, Kevin, and I finally ended up smashing it up into a million tiny pieces and trashing it. But come now. There must be a better idea for disposing of these things. Suggestions, anyone? Please try to keep in mind that I am not crafty.

Anyhoo. Back to this second window mistreatment mirror...

This is what our master bathroom looked like when we moved in. For the last 5-years not much has changed. It has, however, been messier. Much messier.

Now, however, it looks like this...

and this (One of us still thinks it's a swell idea to try to use the shower. Hint: it's not me.)...
and this as well.

Conveniently bringing me to the issue of this ridiculous garden tub. I'd like to rip it out and put in a massive mac-Daddy shower for (ahem) two. You know, a fixture that would actually get some air time rather than just wasting space. Then I could rip out the old shower and put in some functional cabinetry, because despite the fact that we have an enormous master bathroom, we have literally no storage to speak of. We actually store all of our bath towels in the hall closet across from the kids' bathroom. Which, as you can well imagine, is REALLY convenient if you happen to forget to retrieve one before you get into the shower. I'm not saying that's ever happened 100's of times because I always plan ahead. But still. At some point, should not practicality weigh out?

Keeping in mind that blogging is supposed to be interactive, and in honor of the fact that the presidential election is right around the corner, I thought this would be a great opportunity to take a survey on our remodel and give you all some voting practice at the same time. You will find it in the sidebar to your right. Please note that I have taken no liberties in assuming which direction you will side. Just like I have no idea how you will vote in the fall. I do, however, assume a direct correlation between the two polls might be made. I will keep the survey open through Wednesday, September 3rd 10:00pm EST when we have to make a final decision on the matter. And remember, your vote counts. Sort of. For now, I'm off to peruse tile.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Few Things I Learned Today

  1. Strep throat is far more painful than that wuss bronchitis.
  2. It is also something they can diagnose and treat at the CVS Minute Clinic vs. a lifetime spent in the waiting room of your internist. I'm actually considering switching my primary care physican to Nurse L'Anita, because I value efficiency over education when it comes to medical care and Nurse L'Anita does not waste her breath.

  3. If Nurse L'Anita asks if you want a prescription for Lidocaine there are a few things you might want to be aware of.
  • Despite her description of the fresh minty mouthwash, the Lidocaine of which she speaks has the consistency and taste of Elmers glue.
  • If, based upon her strong recommendation, you are desperate enough to try to gargle with it anyway, it will make your entire mouth numb for hours.
  • With numb lips, no basset hound in the country will have anything on you. Except that they will know they are drooling. You won't.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anyone Have an Old Slide Projector? Because I Could, In Fact, Make This Even More Boring.

While in the Smokies, we stay in a great little chalet. I'd tell you the name of it, but I'm afraid you all might rush to the rental agency and we wouldn't get our sacred week next summer.

And, seriously, if I don't get the opportunity to turn down a soak in this jacuzzi tub each year, I simply don't know what I would do with myself. It's the many mirrors, people. I know they really light the fire for the less inhibited among us, but for the rest of us it's like submerging yourself in a pool of insecurity. Also, if you must know, we attempted it last year only to discover that the tub itself requires more hot water to perform than the hot water heater is capable of delivering. Fortunately, there is a second hot tub outside on the lower deck that calls my name on a regular basis. I would have taken a picture of it so you could compare and contrast, but, well, I was in it and couldn't hold onto my camera and glass of wine towel at the same time. You may all thank me later for my photographic oversight of this minor detail.

The upper deck has its charms as well.

It's a great place to cool off with a cold seltzer on a hot afternoon.

Or for sitting around watching your dad grill brats for dinner. It's even great for throwing things off of - like your most cherished green golf ball. Which sadly, is the same color as everything else you see when you look off the deck.
Thank goodness you have the kind of dad who understands the preciousness of this particular golf ball and is willing to brave the poison ivy to go find it for you.

He's also the type of guy that takes you on the alpine slide at Ober Gatlinburg.

Uncle Patrick takes your brother.


Your dad definitely enjoys the ride down the mountain.

You like it a lot more when it's over.

Your brother, however, is totally feeling it.
The best thing about Ober Gatlinburg? This aerial tram you get to take to get up there.

Kindergarten Calls

Today was Carter's first day of Kindergarten.

It was Griffin's and Peyton's second day of Preschool.

It was their mother's first day of life without a diaper bag. Until she adjusts to this, she is keeping the stuff that was in her diaper bag in this big stainless steel mixing bowl. Don't be surprised if you see it sitting next to her on the pew this Sunday. It's working better than any purse she's ever owned.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Places That Begin With the Letter G

We were in the Smoky Mountains last week.

Residing in a lovely little chalet without internet access
(insert very shrill shriek of despair here).

This was a minute yet critical fact I would have remembered if I had bothered to read last year's
post on the same event. Instead, I lugged up my laptop expecting to blog surf shop at least keep up with work while the kids napped. Instead it was one blissful week of hiking, swimming, hot tubbing, and meandering about town wondering why the Mayor of Gatlinburg doesn't put the kibosh on eager "entrepreneurs" wanting to hawk more tie-dye, fudge, and garage sale remnants masquerading as fine art. In addition to the wealth of tchotchkes, various and sundry weaponry, and pancake restaurants are all the rage. Basically, we vacation in Kitschville. It's charming folks. Why don't you join us next year?

(Speaking of work, did I mention I was losing yet another bookkeeper at the end of the month? No? Well I am. She's leaving me to pursue her dream of becoming a
Wagnerian Soprano. Unfortunately for me, it's something she needs to do in Germany rather than in DC. Which brings me to say, I've been broken up with for many a reason, but being dumped for the Opera -- let's just say it's a first. The stress of having to rehire and retrain, however, is only too familiar.)

I digress.

One thing I did remember from last year is that we needed a decent baby carrier if we were to survive the day hikes with the progeny. I wanted this sweet Kelty Kids model but was loathe to fork over the $255 necessary to call it my own.

Miraculously, days before we left I managed to find the exact same Pathfinder child carrier on Craigslist for less than half the retail price!

Peyton loved it. More importantly, the people who carried her around when her little legs got tired loved it. Suffice it to say, it was worth every cent - especially since those cents came from the Craigslist sale of our old Crate and Barrel kitchen island a few days before.

One of the places we enjoy hiking with our rockin' child carrier is Greenbrier. We discovered it last year and loved it because it goes right along a mostly child friendly creek.

There are loads of small rocks for throwing...

and larger rocks perfect for an almost 4-year old to climb.

The shallow pools are just the right depth for people only 30-inches high on a tall day.

You can even take off your shoes if you want.

But if you do, you are definitely going to need your older brother's help if you want to get anywhere. (Please take a moment to observe and note that Carter is not hanging out in his jags like he was last year. Peyton, well, let's just say I hadn't anticipated her enthusiasm in wanting to try EVERYTHING her brothers were doing.)

It's a dogs life, really. Wait a minute. We don't have a dog.

Oh Hello, Cousin Patrick and Cassie. Cousin Patrick is one of those friends who sticks closer than a brother. In a pinch, he also makes a great 3rd parent - a manny of sorts.

Greenbrier is also home to a variety of compelling wildlife. Along the edge of Injun Creek, I snapped this picture of a delicate butterfly.

Meanwhile, Carter was doing a little exploring of his own. It looks to me like he's found something.

He's going in for a closer look. Whatever could it be?

Why it looks like he's found a snake with a fish in its mouth. Every mother's dream nature discovery! (Insert Jeff imploring Carter in a panicky tone not to touch it here. Repeat 5 x.)

It's the kind of sight that makes an afternoon in Gatlinburg look both enticing and tame. I may even spring for a haute couture airbrushed t-shirt.

Yeah, this is definitely more my speed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Temptation via the Charlotte Observer

Wachovia plans its first branch in downtown L.A.

Posted: Friday, Aug. 22, 2008

As Wachovia Corp. wrestles with rising loan losses, the Charlotte bank is slowing its Western expansion, but it still aims for sizable growth in what it sees as attractive new markets.

On Thursday, the bank announced plans to open its first bank branch in downtown Los Angeles in early 2009. The location is across the street from L.A. Live, a new entertainment complex that counts Wachovia as one of its major sponsors. The move comes a month after the bank opened a commercial banking and wealth management office in L.A.

Wachovia got its first big foothold in California in 2006, when it acquired adjustable-rate mortgage specialist Golden West Financial Corp. The company's mortgage portfolio, however, has deteriorated, leading new chief executive Bob Steel to announce plans last month to slash jobs, cut the dividend and slow the pace of West Coast growth.

Spokeswoman Aimee Worsley said the bank plans to open 30 branches in California this year and 25 to 35 in California, Arizona and Nevada in 2009. That's down from earlier plans to open 40 to 60 branches per year just in California.

Wachovia is in the top five in the state with 179 branches, but it's still far behind Charlotte rival Bank of America Corp., which has around 1,000 locations. Wachovia's top 10 branches by total deposits nationwide are now in California.

The bank also has become a big employer in California, although its work force of more than 9,000 is likely to drop with planned mortgage cuts.

The bank's efforts in L.A. tie into the city's work to revitalize downtown, said Frank Newman, Wachovia's Southern California president. “As downtown continues to thrive, Wachovia plans to be front and center,” he said.

Rick Rothacker

Friday, August 22, 2008

All Who Are Thirsty

All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Just come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As the deep cries out to deep, we sing...

Come, Lord Jesus Come
Come, Lord Jesus Come
Come, Lord Jesus Come
Come, Lord Jesus Come

~Brown, Robertson~

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Roast By Any Other Name

I interrupt my mind numbing California adventure posting to bring you a pictoral tour of the first half of Jeff's life. I would have covered the second half as well, but two things kind of crippled me. One, I'm packing for a trip to our mountain house and we're going to need to eat while we are there. Two, I just learned to use my new scanner today and am not that proficient at it. It probably would have helped if I had at least once attempted to read the directions, but I was under a lot of pressure and thought I'd just wing it.

Without further ado.

Here is little Jeffrey McLean at around 6-months. Cute, yes? It gets better.

At 18-months. Peyton, is that you?

Kindergarten calls. It's also calling Jeff's oldest son, Carter, and Carter's mother has had one heck of a day thinking about watching her firstborn get on the bus for the very first time next week. Thusly, the Kindergartener you see above had to put up with with a rather large truckload of emotional crap today that Carter's mother couldn't quite explain.

Is it just me or does the 1st grader above look nothing like the Kindergartener - excepting the glasses, of course. Those are rather difficult to get around. Anyway, it's like his whole face changed between Kindergarten and 1st grade.

This picture was taken in the early 80's, that we know for sure. So I'm guessing 5th or 6th grade?

Hey Moms, you know what would be a good idea? If you forsook the reading of this lame post to go write the ages of your kids on the back of ALL of their pictures. Their wives will thank you later. But probably not their husbands. Unless, of course, your daughter happens to marry someone with a blog who shamelessly takes complete advantage of her matchless sense of humor and goodnaturedness.

For reasons I am quite sure I do not need to elaborate on, this is bar none my absolute favorite picture of my husband. I met him in 11th grade and he looked EXACTLY like this.

This is Jeff at Prom Banquet with someone who looks like she could get up and dance the Flamenco at any moment in that dress. It's curious as to why her date wore red, is it not? Perhaps he remembered from his 1st grade picture that he looks great in red. Or maybe he is trying to complete the Spanish theme with a matador flare?

Finally, I give you Jeff's crowning high school moment in which he gets both the diploma and the girl.

Happy 37th Birthday tomorrow, my Love.

Wildlife in a Park-Like Setting

The LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens bill themselves as wildlife in a park-like setting.

Where park-like equals alligators slipping silently into backyard pools.

Sweet Mother of Pearl, I find this image disturbing.

Somewhat curious is this picture of orange Flamingos.

Just so everyone knows, flamingos frolicking on the shores of Lake Nakuru (where the Tennessee orange flamingos had to have been snatched from) look like this. I feel confident in saying that the LA Zoo flamingos could use some algae in their diet.

These last two pictures are not LA Zoo pictures but they should be. Joy and I came across this strange vehicle while traveling on the 605 on the way to her first shower. It appears to be a three-wheeler of some sort.

But upon further inspection, we find that it is actually a converted motorcycle towing a milk crate with a circa 1970's lawn chair in the back.

It makes you want to make a citizen's arrest, doesn't it?