Review: Avengers – Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron Banner

June 28, 2014. That’s the last time I saw a movie in theaters (X-Men: Days of Future Past, in case you were curious…).  To be frank, the movie theater here in Marshall isn’t exactly stellar for seeing big blockbuster flicks.  Sure, it’ll work in a pinch, but my students tell me they can hear the other movies coming from adjacent screenings, so it isn’t really ideal…

Thus, as I’m now out of classes for the semester, I took a trip into St. Louis to see Avengers: Age of Ultron with a buddy.  I enjoyed the original movie quite a bit, so I’ve been looking forward to this one since trailers first debuted.  While the first movie was just about everything I wanted to see in a confluence of Marvel franchises, the sequel is a bit more convoluted.

As in the previous film, Age of Ultron is informed by events from the other Marvel movies, most importantly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  The last remnants of Hydra are using Loki’s staff from the first Avengers movie (that they got from…somewhere…we aren’t told, though it’s kinda inferred, I guess…) to experiment on humans and the Avengers have “assembled” to get it back.  They reclaim the scepter after an encounter with new villains/heroes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, and then return to New York to celebrate.  In the process, Tony Stark discovers that the scepter has some unique properties that allow him to create an advanced artificial intelligence that, he hopes, could ultimately create machines to take over for the Avengers in defending Earth from threats.  He gets in over his head and Ultron is born: a robot capable of self-replication that can evade capture through the internet, who goes on to produce more machines in an effort to cleanse the Earth of a grave threat (i.e. humanity).

So, there’s four characters already.  We’ve also got the Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, Nick Cage, War Machine, Hawkeye, Maria Hill, Hawkeye’s random wife, Falcon, Vision, Peggy Carter, Hemidal and Dr. Selvig to bring into the mix.

Just ruminate on that list for a moment.  Each of those characters is attached to an actor, and not a “no name” actor.  They don’t just show up for cameos: they show up for reciting lines.  These are folks that generally command high dollar contracts and I can’t imagine what’s written into their Marvel Cinematic Universe contracts to get them all to show up in one movie.

Unfortunately, this is the main problem I found with it: there are simply too many people.  It’s all in service of putting them in their own movies (Captain America: Civil War, primarily), and they aren’t all in it for extended lengths of time (Falcon shows up twice…War Machine shows up a few times…).  That is to say, the screen time isn’t massive for many of these additional folks, but every time they appear, that has to take time from the main Avengers from the previous movie, and I think this film suffers from it.

The action and effects are still great (and yes, I think IMAX 3D was worth it for this one), and the story itself isn’t terrible, though it isn’t as strong as Winter Soldier was.  While Winter Soldier makes a pretty clear point about government spying and whether threats should be eliminated before they’re actually guilty of something, this movie dances around its themes a bit more abstractly.  It wasn’t quite as funny as the previous Avengers movie either, though there are a few chuckle-worthy moments.  James Spader is pretty great as Ultron, though it kinda feels like he’s off in the background a bit more than I’d prefer.  The film sets up the conflict between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers that’s going to come up in Civil War, though I think it’s yet another facet to pile up on top of an already large movie.  Lastly, Scarlett Johansson has some great scenes, but quite a few of them this time are spent as a love interest or damsel-in-distress, so I think her character has been turned back compared with her appearances in previous MCU movies.

Ultimately, I still enjoyed it.  There were some awesome battles there interspersed, especially toward the end (obviously) and they even did a decent job working in some Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. references.

I just hope Civil War, which is looking to be even bigger than this movie, will rein in all the guest appearances.  The guys that wrote and directed Winter Soldier (and did a great job) have Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War Parts I and II to hold together, so they’ve got their work cut out for them.

The Music Room

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When we were looking at this house, the main level had an interesting floor plan: it was very open with doors between the living room, the dining room, and this “extra room” that had a fireplace.  It was referred to as a “den” on the listing, though its bay window provided enough light that “den” didn’t seem right.
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This room also had some “extras” to it, specifically some additional woodwork that was not original to the house.  They made up a bench, a toy box, and a series of “cubbies” that you could stash a variety of trinkets in.  They didn’t look all that great to us, nor did the aged wall sconces, many of which didn’t work.  When we had the electrical re-done, we kept the sconces next to the fireplace, but had the others disconnected.

We decided to christen this space “The Music Room,” as we needed a place for all our musical instruments to go.  The guitars would go up on the walls, the drums would be put, er, somewhere, and we’d also put the kids’ downstairs toys (i.e. everything that isn’t in their rooms) in here.  Generally, we thought it would make a good play space for kids and adults.  But, the wallpaper and extra wood had to go.
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Brooke decided my Spring Break was a good time to get this started, so on March 13th, she took a day off of work and took a crowbar to the wood shelves.  We found red paint on top of old layers of wallpaper behind them.  Also, some plaster started to come along for the ride.  Lastly, the floors were covered in dirt, much of which we ultimately couldn’t remove (without taking a sander to the floor…).

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The wallpaper was hit-or-miss in its removal.  We had a series of metal scrapers to use, as well as a spray bottle of dilute vinegar to loosen up the layers of wallpaper.  And by “layers,” I mean four.  Oddly, there were two layers of the same wallpaper

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…the same wallpaper, mind you, that was lined up and matched.  Very weird.  You can tell how dark that outer layer was, likely caused by decades of cigarette smoking.  These outer layers weren’t all that much trouble, but the layers beneath this were more challenging.  In total, it took a few weeks to get all of it off.  We worked our way along the larger sections as best we could in the evenings, but weekends ended up being best, as scraping on the walls of the house tends to get a bit noisy when the kids are in bed.  I stopped jogging in the afternoons after 3:00 so I could come home and keep working on it before picking up the kids.6

Ultimately, the walls underneath weren’t in terrible shape.  We couldn’t remove the painted-over sections that were behind all the wood additions, as they were effectively sealed onto the wall.  Brooke used a “screen mesh-style” sander to smooth everything out as best as possible.  She also used a mix of plaster and joint compound to fill in the various holes in the wall.  In the pictures above and below, you’ll see circular patches where a wall sconce used to be, that Brooke filled in with either plaster or joint compound.  It just depended on how large the patch was.
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We tried to be somewhat careful about the woodwork that we wanted to keep, so Brooke made sure to use plastic tarps to cover the fireplace and other sections of the room.  The existing wall sconces didn’t put out much light, so we had to rely on them in the evenings, as well as a portable light fixture we brought in from the garage.
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Eventually, after all the patching was done, we took primer to the walls.  Lots of primer.  Especially in these corners, where we were trying to cover up the red painted-over sections of the wall.  We spent a few days priming to make sure we got good coverage.  Brooke also had some plaster to fill in at points, so we had to prime over that, as well.10

Brooke wanted to do most of the detail work…though, I was up on the ladder more.  Getting around that bay window took some extra effort, as the wallpaper was somewhat difficult to remove.
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The space above the fireplace cleaned up pretty well.  For some reason, it seemed like the paint roller wasn’t working very evenly, though we never figured out why.  It seemed like the previous owners played with joint compound a bit more than they should have, and laid wallpaper on it before the compound had finished drying.  There were a few spots on these walls that featured near impossible-to-remove sections of wallpaper…12

Finally, after about a week of priming, we put on the paint.  We went with a color that would be similar to the old color, but a bit brighter.  We also chose a color that was approved by the National Historic Registry, so it should be a color that was somewhat common at the time this house was built.13

Brooke spent a good afternoon on hands and knees scrubbing the dirt off the edges of the floor.  It definitely looks way better than it did on that first day after removal of the wood additions, but it’s still pretty noticeable.  However, we’ve put some stuff along these walls, so perhaps it isn’t that obvious.  When we have these floors refinished someday (after we don’t have a 1.5-year-old dropping things on it all the time), it’ll finally go away.

Also, notice that corner in the picture above.  That was one of the worst spots, where Brooke had to put a few layers of plaster and joint compound to fill in the gaps.14

The color during the day looked quite a bit nicer than it did at night!  Brooke also made some lace (and later sheer…) curtains to go over the windows.  In the picture above, they aren’t all around the windows yet, but the window facing the porch has it.

Also on that porch window, you’ll notice the toybox is still there.  That’s a pretty functional piece of woodwork that we keep toys in, and can eventually hold blankets, pillows, and whatever else someday.  Though it doesn’t match the rest of the wood in the room, it still fits the space pretty well.

The last thing to go up in the corner pictured above was the guitar holding system.  We looked into a few options but decided to get the slatboard music stores use to display guitars.  The main reason was so that we could add and remove guitars from the wall without tearing holes in it each time.15

The guitar display worked out pretty well, we think.  We primed and painted the panels the same color as the wall and positioned it at a level high enough to keep Calvin from it (for the most part…).

…also, we don’t know where that purple bin is going to go, yet…but it looks hideous and out of place in that room.  It’s got all of Meg’s craft stuff in it right now, so we need some kind of replacement…
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Here’s more of a “wide shot” of that section of the room, now with the sheer curtains over the bay windows, a bench Brooke picked up underneath the windows, the rug we used to have in the living room and moved into the music room, and the various instruments.18

The last section to finish was the fireplace, which involved finding something to go above it, and finally replacing the functional sconces in the room.  Brooke picked up the new sconces last week and we made my Dad install them on Mother’s Day (because it was Mother’s Day…so, Mom couldn’t do it…).

We couldn’t decide what to put above the fireplace, but Brooke found this canvas print that seemed to fit the vibe and color scheme we’d set up in the room.  We may eventually replace it, but honestly, it seems to fit pretty perfectly right now, so I suspect we’ll keep it for a few years.

That’s it!  Long process, long post!  We don’t really have anything else in mind for upgrades on the house in the near future, though sometime this summer, I’ll likely get started on the kitchen, which needs a serious fix-me-up…

Missouri Beer Festival

Lots of people at the Holiday Inn Expo Center
Lots of people at the Holiday Inn Expo Center

Brooke and Meg went to Girls Weekend at the Lake, as usually happens this time of year, leaving me all by my lonesome with Calvin.  Thankfully, my wonderful parents were thinking of my plight and Mom watched Calvin while Dad and I checked out the Missouri Beer Festival.  This event has been held for a few years now, switching venues once or twice as it has grown.  The Holiday Inn Expo Center is among the largest available in Columbia, as other options on the University’s campus, wouldn’t allow the sale of alcohol.

Overall, for $25, we were pretty impressed with the selection of breweries and beers.  The Festival opens at 1:00 pm (unless you lay $25 more for a VIP pass) and continues until 5:00 pm, yielding plenty of time to make your way around the Festival floor, trying the wares from the available breweries.  Though their website has mostly comprehensive list of the breweries that were present, there were others like Civil Life, Stone and Abita that were also featured.

As part of the deal, you were given a tasting glass, where each brewery would pour somewhere between 2 and 3 oz of beer for you to try.  Though this doesn’t sound like much, it certainly adds up over a 4 hour period.  They also had food available for additional cash, and believe you me, that BBQ smelled pretty great.  They also allowed voting for your favorite brew (apparently Rock Bridge won for their Option #2 beer), though the organizers took the ballots at 3:45 without announcing that they were doing so, and we weren’t quite ready to vote yet, so I guess we didn’t exercise our constitutional rights on this one…

Me, Dad and cousin Laura

Me, Dad and cousin Laura

The main thing I’d like to see corrected for next year’s event hinges upon the beer list.  When we’ve attended Schlafly’s events in years past, they provide you with a list of the beers and descriptions for each, thus allowing you to cross them off as you move through the stations.  It gives you a good sense of how many you had and which ones you liked.  For this event, you were provided with a list of breweries (and their locations on the Festival floor), but no list of beers.  Granted, you could always write that down, but with the complexity and length of some beer names, it’s not ideal.  I’m not sure how they could easily fix this, as some breweries won’t decide which beer to bring until the last minute, but surely there’s something they could do.  An 8×10 sheet of paper with all the beers listed, including style and alcohol content, would be just fine.  It would also allow me to seek out the beers I liked far more easily, rather than requiring me to try and remember (during an afternoon of heavy drinking…) which ones were awesome and which ones were just so-so.

Overall, we had a pretty good time.  We saw some familiar faces (Dad saw half of his office there…which was kinda crazy…), got to try some great beers, and had a pleasant time with a bunch of people we didn’t know.  I suspect we’ll be back next year, so long as our babysitter’s available.  :-)

A Beautiful Day

The lake at Van Meter State Part
The lake at Van Meter State Part

We haven’t had many absolutely gorgeous weekends lately, though we haven’t really had any terrible ones, either.  Still, we took advantage of the weather and went to Van Meter State Park again to get a picnic lunch in and a brief jaunt down the trail.  We went down a different section than the last time, heading down into a valley toward a lake set up for fishing, with a trail wrapping around it.

Calvin walking by the lake.
Calvin walking by the lake.

The trail is something like 0.6 mi long, and we didn’t get anywhere near that distance.  We didn’t deal with putting kids in backpacks or anything this time, so we tried getting Calvin to walk as best we could.  For the most part, he did fine, though part of the trail got a bit closer to the water than we’d prefer.

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Sitting on the dock.

We didn’t end up staying all that long.  Maybe an hour and a half or so.  I suspect Meg, Calvin and I will head back frequently this summer as an excuse to get out of the house and take in some fresh(er) air.  We walked back up the hill to the car (Calvin had to be carried by this point, and Meg wasn’t too happy about her feet…) and headed home.  Calvin took a nap after we got back, Brooke got some painting done, and I mowed the lawn.  Meg had a birthday party at 4:30, and while Brooke took her, Calvin and I got dinner going.

Filet and veggies.  Mmmmm.
Filet and veggies. Mmmmm.

In the end, I think we spent 8 or 9 hours outside today, soaking it all in.  Lots of productivity, lots of play time.  It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I guess we’ll just have to remember today while we’re stuck in the house tomorrow.

Speaking of “the house,” the next post will hopefully feature our next upgrade.  Tonight, we were able to finish up the paint in “the music room,” though we have a little more work to do in mounting the guitars.  By midweek, we should be good to go.

Onward and upward!

The New Garden

A wide shot of the garden area.
A wide shot of the garden area.

When we were looking for houses last summer, the building itself definitely caught our eye, but the extra lot next to the house was the real selling point.  If we weren’t going to live further out in the countryside, we’d at least like to have the space to grow a metric ton of produce and still have chickens like we’d had in St. Louis and Iowa.

We tried killing off some of the grass over the winter by covering patches of the property with large tarps, yet all that seemed to do was store leaves, sticks and live grass for the spring.  In the end, we ended up borrowing our neighbors front-tine tiller and renting a rear-tine tiller to get a bit deeper and pull all the sod off.  Though we’re still dealing with some grass trying to reclaim their previous home, the tilling generally worked alright.  We’ve currently put in two plots: one larger, the other smaller.  Next year, we’ll add another plot that’s the same size as the larger one, but for now, we figured we should start with something manageable.

So far, Brooke has planted peas and carrots, with radishes yet to go in this weekend.  We didn’t have much luck with peas up in Iowa, but we’re hopeful that planting them a bit earlier will make a difference.

Ultimately, we’ll put corn, green beans, soup beans, tomatoes, and peppers in the ground between the two plots currently dug out.  A third plot will go in next year, but more on that in a bit…

Spinach and lettuce in the cold frame.
Spinach and lettuce in the cold frame.

Brooke also set up the cold frame we picked up at an end-of-the-season sale in Iowa, this time with lettuce and spinach.  We tried putting herbs in it in St. Louis, but didn’t find much success.  I think we got a little lettuce out of it, but probably not much beyond the paltry salad or two.  Based on our current trajectory, I think we’re off to a better start…

Blackberries and raspberries.
Blackberries and raspberries.

As I said, we’ve got two plots going right now: one larger, one smaller.  The larger one will be replicated next year, giving us two of the same size.  The smaller one, however, will live on its lonesome, and in its twin’s place, we’ll put in some bushes.  That is, we already have put in some bushes, but more will likely grace that location in the future.  Currently, raspberries and blackberries are already in, some of which we may already harvest by the end of this year, yet we suspect it won’t be until at least next year when we start getting enough to write home about.  Ultimately, we’ll probably put some hops there and maybe some other bushes.  Brooke also has some blueberry bushes to put in, but we haven’t decided if they’ll go in this plot, or if we’ll put them somewhere else.

We haven’t picked them up yet, but we’re also planning on putting some fruit trees closer to the road, at the far side of the first image posted above.  Cherries, apples, and quince are currently on the docket, though we may add another (pears?).  I’d never heard of quince until last year, but apparently they’re a fruit you wouldn’t necessarily want to take a bite out of, yet they have high concentrations of pectin, meaning that you could add quince to your preserves to somewhat naturally produce jellies and jams, among other things.  Seems interesting, at least, and they should do fine in our climate.

Other than that, I’m all for adding more garden space.  The more the merrier.

Less space for me to mow…

Calvin’s Word List

"I don't know!"
“I don’t know!”

Though Calvin started off pretty slowly, so far as the whole “talking” thing goes, he’s been picking up pretty rapidly in the past month. Meg had 35 at this point in her development, but Calvin’s been able to rely on his big sister to help him out up until now.  Still, it looks like he’s running a bit ahead on language than she was (though, again, it feels like an explosion in the last month, whereas Meg got them a bit more gradually).

Anyway, here’s a non-exhaustive list.  I’m probably missing a few…

Words/People:

  • Mama (“Mama”)
  • Daddy (“Dada”)
  • Meg (“Meh”)
  • Sam (“Hem”)
  • Nana (“Nana”)
  • Mimi (“Meh-meh”)
  • Harper (“Hah-pah”)
  • Emma
  • Banana (also “Nana”)
  • Milk (“Mah”)
  • More (“Moh”)
  • No (“Nooooo”)
  • “Cow” (“Boo”)
  • Pig (“Pih”)
  • Snow (“No”)
  • Snowman (“No-MEN”)
  • Please (“Peas”)
  • Baby (“Beh-beh”)
  • Books (“Boo”)
  • Bed (“Beh”)
  • Bath (“Bah”)
  • Shoes (“Soos”)
  • Socks (“Hoks”)
  • Moon (“Moo”)
  • “Shh” (“Ssss”)
  • Water (“Wah-wah”)
  • “Rock rock” (also “Wah-wah”)
  • Elmo (“Meh-mo”)
  • Bye bye (“Bah-bah”)
  • Night night (“Nah-nah”)
  • Tractor (“Tac-tah”)
  • Bird (“Bih”)
  • Truck (“Tuh”)
  • Dog (“Dah”)

Body Parts (Identification, mostly):

  • Mouth
  • Nose (“Noh”)
  • Belly (“Beh-beh”)
  • Toes
  • Feet
  • Head
  • Hair
  • Cheeks
  • Hands
  • Arms
  • Knees
  • Eyes
  • Teeth
  • Ears
  • Fingers

The Bathroom

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This post has been “in the making” for, well, months.  When we first moved into this house last August, we knew that the upstairs bathroom was probably going to be the first thing set for a “re-fit.”  Largely, this was because the toilet (pictured above) had to go.  It must have been one of those top-fill types that used to have the tank suspended high above it, yet no such tank existed.  The toilet actually flushed just fine: you just had to fill it by opening a valve inside the tank, effectively rendering it useless to our 4-year-old (and a hassle for us).

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The rest of the bathroom was “fine,” at best.  Tiled all the way around.  Nothing too offensive.  Everything else worked fine.

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So, we got a new toilet.  One that flushed.  And filled.  Of course, in doing so, we lost some tiles behind it.  As we clearly couldn’t leave it like that, Brooke started looking into replacing those tiles.  As she tried removing a few of them, they started crumbling all around her.  To make matters worse, she removed the towel rack from the bathtub area and found that the lathe behind it was wet, suggesting that the grout had to go.  Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned “crumbling” part, re-grouting wasn’t a viable option.

So, I came home from work one day to see much of the bathroom looking like this…

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…minus the ladder, of course.  I came home in the middle of this debacle.  You can see some of the less-broken the tiles in the sink there.  Brooke did nearly all the tile removal and I contributed by hauling tiles and debris outside.  The wallpaper came down remarkably easy (though unsurprisingly, as the humidity in the bathroom made it pretty loose).

As you can tell, the plaster underneath the tiles came along for the ride, while the plaster behind wallpaper was mostly unscathed.

DSC_0094A similar story around the bathtub.  Firstly, we had to solve the tub problem so we could actually shower in this bathroom (it’s the only one in the house).  We grabbed some moisture-safe drywall and put it up where the tile used to be.

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Next, we had to replace the tile, or at least line the tub with something more water-resistant than drywall.  After looking around online a bit, we settled on fiberglass sheeting.  As you can see in the picture below, we got it done in time to give the kids a bath.

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It was a similar story across from the tub.  This time, however, no fiberglass was necessary, so Brooke just used joint compound to merge the plaster and drywall, plugging a few holes in the process.

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Not all that attractive, we know, but nothing a coat of paint (or two) can’t fix.

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After filling in the gaps and patching the ceiling a bit with plaster, we primed the walls in preparation for paint.  We decided to go with a brown-ish color, as it seemed to go pretty well with some of the shades in the floor.  In the end, we think it came off pretty well.

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Finished product in the tub!  We added an organizer to the corner and put in a new mirror that didn’t look like it was from the 1940s.  We’d still like to replace that pedestal sink sometime, but for now, it’s functional.

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The wall across from the tub looks better with some paint, right?  Brooke put up a rack of hooks for all our towels to go on.  Nice and accessible from the shower.

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The finished corner.  It’s probably worth scrolling all the way up to the top to compare these images, as we think it looks quite a bit better.  New towel rack, new toilet paper holder, some shelves above the new toilet, and the lack of tiles.

It isn’t perfect, though.  The wall under the window there is a bit rough, as it’s still the original plaster and not drywalled.  We may add some trim there eventually, but for now, it’s alright.  I also need to remove the paint on the wood frames, the doors and the window, as I suspect they’re laced with lead, but that’s a job for another time.  Perhaps this summer that’ll get done.

Much better than we found it, though!  That’s the most I can ask for.

Meg Turns Five

She turned out alright...
She turned out alright…

Granted, we’ve gone through more than a few adjustments in the last five years, but it’s still difficult to believe we started out with the one on the left up above, and currently have the one on the right.

Yes, Meg was born five years ago today at 8:57 am.  At the time, it was difficult to imagine how the next five years would go, and now, I don’t even know how this next one year will go for her as she begins <gasp> Kindergarten.  Since Calvin was born, she’s taken to the role of “Big Sister” more than we thought she was capable of, sometimes making me forget she’s still extremely young, yet perhaps more responsible than some of my college-aged students.

This year also marked the first time for two birthday parties: one “Kid Party” this past weekend, when three of her best friends from preschool came over for a “dress up party,” and then the next one coming this weekend for “Grown-ups” (i.e. family).  I think the “Kid Party” came off pretty well, as the girls mostly played by themselves and stayed out of trouble (mostly…).  Meg got some play makeup, a “Cinderella” costume, and a copy of Tangled (which she’s been asking for since December…).  She requested lemon cake with blueberries, and that turned out pretty awesome (thanks to Brooke, of course).  I think she’s requested spaghetti for the “Grown-up Party” this weekend, as well as a strawberry cake.

Personally, I don’t see how it’s fair that she gets two cakes, but whatever…

This morning, she woke up to a bike at the bottom of the steps, so surely that will present its own new challenge for 2015.  She literally, finally, learned how to make a tricycle “go” in 2014, so it’ll be interesting to watch her fight a 16″ bicycle with training wheels this time around.  Good thing my schedule’s pretty flexible this summer…

Aside from the presents and parties, the crazy part still remains: Meg is five.  She’s been with us for five years.  Half a decade has blown by.  She’s entering a stage of development that I actually remember in my own life.  Which is to say, these are years that she’ll start remembering 10, 20, 30+ years down the road.

Happy birthday, Margaret Jean.  I hope it’s great. :-)

Linsenblog 2.0

…or 4.0, by now?  I dunno…there have been a few iterations at this point…

As all two of you may have noticed, the blog has been effectively MIA the past few months.  I’m hoping to change that and get back to posting more regularly, now that my schedule has kinda evened out at school, but also now that I’ve shifted the blog off of a server I’m running onto something a bit more professional, hosted by GoDaddy.

Since moving to Marshall, I’ve been trying to run the site on a Raspberry Pi, a super cheap Linux-based computer that is powered by a cellphone processor and is, thus, quite energy efficient.  The problem, I found, was that a). it’s slower than I want it to be, and b). its limited version of Linux couldn’t reliably handle the database that this site relies on (hence the “Error Establishing Database Connection” that kept on showing up the past few weeks).

Rather than build a new Linux-based computer, I’m paying for off-site hosting now.  We’ll see how this goes, but the performance is already leaps and bounds better than anything I’d built the past few generations.  Hopefully, keeping the site up-and-running more reliably will also make it easier for me to post things on a more regular basis.  As always, of course, the blog has been more of an outlet for me (and occasionally Brooke), so I’m not trying to garner additional web traffic or readership or anything…

…I just want it to work…  :-)

Furniture Projects

Shortly after moving in, Aunt Diane and Uncle Mike were looking to unload some old furniture from an outbuilding of theirs that they’ve had for awhile.  By “old furniture,” I mean it was my grandparent’s set, and various parts were used by them and my Dad (among others, I suppose).  It was a set they picked up in St. Louis sometime in the 1950s – it still had the furniture store’s information taped onto the inside.

Regardless, we’ve had quite a few furniture pieces in a bay of our garage since it all arrived.  Two matching three-drawer chests made it into the house right around Calvin’s birthday, but some other pieces were taken care of over the break.  The priority was a vanity that my Grandma Corine used.  As with the other pieces, the wood was veneered in such a way that wasn’t particularly “modern,” so we sanded it down and repainted it in white.

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The above is something of a “Work In Progress” shot.  It actually took me awhile to complete because it was, well, really cold out in the garage and I could only tolerate sanding sessions for limited periods of time.  I ended up putting a few coats on it as I was battling the effects of “drying” and “freezing” of the paint throughout.

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In the end, it turned out pretty well!  The mirror could use some restoration still, as it looks like a 60 year old mirror, but it fits perfectly in Meg’s room, as if that’s where it was meant to end up.  I’m sure Grandma would be tickled to see Meg sitting at it. :-)

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The next piece of furniture was a larger, four drawer chest.  We weren’t sure where exactly to put it initially, but Brooke thought the dining room would be a good fit.  The weather was unbelievable today (almost 60 F in mid-January…seriously?!), so Brooke sanded it down outside and got a few coats of paint on it in the afternoon.  Clearly, the paint could dry a bit more efficiently when the temperature wasn’t 15 F.  The inside of the drawers weren’t all that spectacular looking, so Brooke used some blue paint (from the entryway…) to “spice it up” a bit.

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Ultimately, the muted red color Brooke went with paired nicely with the wallpaper in the dining room.  It’ll probably end up containing place mats, table cloths, etc.  At the very least, it’s yet more storage space for all our stuff, so the more the merrier!

I’m just glad Grandma and Grandpa’s stuff has a new home!

…and glad my garage is nearly empty enough to fit both cars:-)