Archive for April, 2008

learning about marriage

I thought I’d spend a second blogging about this thing we call “marriage” since we’ve been spending much of our time lately preparing for a wedding. It’s funny how people respond to the news that we’re getting hitched. People have surprisingly depressing sentiments about marriage – “The first year is the worst.” or “Marriage is hard.” Really? Thanks. That’s just about the equivalent to you telling me how much root canals hurt right before I go to get one.

In other words, married folks – time to put on your happy smiley we-love-marriage faces and tell us the truth: It’s going to be great. Or, if that’s not the truth, just fake us out for a while. We won’t know the difference until it’s too late.

All this discussion of what marriage is or is not has been sparked by our upcoming premarital counseling with the Pastor at my parent’s church. What on earth are we going to talk about? Is our main concern. And, based on the experiences of those that have tied the knot before us, it appears that we’ll be talking about anything from natural family planning (as in, all the gory details) to who will be responsible for taking out the trash. So, frankly, we’re not that psyched about it.

But! We’ve been studying. Enter: the marriage book that my aunt sent us. No, I’m not a big “self-help book” fan. No, I’m not convinced that everything in the book is dead-on. And, no, we’re not that worried about what the pastor is going to say. But, we’re intrigued enough to try to get a head start. So, here’s what we’ve learned:

  1. Marriage is hard – especially the first year. Yeah, okay, we get it already. Are you trying to talk us out of it or what?
  2. If you want something from your spouse, you have to tell them. So obvious it’s tricky, right? I think we’ve got this one down. Like when I say, “Get in the kitchen and cook me some dinner!” Pretty clear, no?
  3. Say yes. Why? Because if you say yes to helping your spouse, they’ll be more likely to say yes to you.
  4. Spend time together. Honestly, folks, we spend way too much time together. What we really need are hobbies or friends so we have something to actually talk about during all that together time.
  5. Budget. Yep, another secret to a good marriage (according to the book) is watching your cash. Something like 70% of people cite money as the biggest concern in their marriages. (Health concerns are second with 6% of married folks worrying about that).

So far, so good, right? I suspect we can handle it, even if you’re all trying to freak us out with your “marriage is hard” talk. Hard is a relative term anyways… like, are we talking “passing the 12th grade” hard? or “trapped under a rock need to cut off your arm to survive” hard?

Really, the only thing we don’t have thus far is a perpetual argument. You know, that one thing you argue and argue about but never can resolve? Yeah, sounds like we’re really missing out. -note the sarcasm-

And, barring any discussion of the female reproductive system, I think we’ll be okay on Saturday. And if we aren’t, at least we’re following our premarital counseling with some cake tasting. Nothing says happy wedding quite like cake.

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April 16, 2008 at 9:41 pm 6 comments

House Project #2, Phase 1

Our second house project is probably going to take us most of spring and summer to complete, but it should be worth it in the end…

The South Side of the house – where most of the action is scheduled to happen.

Since we’ve been getting water in the basement, we decided that grading the dirt away from the house should probably be a priority. Thus, Project 2 will involve:

  1. Removing the sidewalk on the South side of the house
  2. Building a raised planting bed where the path was
  3. Adding a drainage system along the South side of the house
  4. Building a fence
  5. Adding a new pathway using brick pavers
  6. Grading the rest of the yard away from the house (this is not as important since the water only seems to be coming in on the South side, but still should be done)

After all that is done, we’ll probably be doing some landscaping. We also need to have the basement windows replaced with glass block windows since the wood around the windows is currently rotting and the glass block will be safer and probably more energy efficient than what we’ve got now. And finally, we’ll have to scrape old concrete/paint off the basement walls and add a layer of concrete to them (we have to re-grade first because the walls are damp… we’re hoping the regrading will reduce the dampness of the walls).

Remember when I hinted that Jason didn’t do anything around here?  I totally lied.  Check out this action shot.

Today we completed phase 1 – we ripped up the sidewalk along the edge of the house. We are sooooo sore! Jason was primarily responsible for breaking up the concrete with a sledge hammer, and I hauled the concrete to the driveway.  Barley sunbathed most of the afternoon.

The results of today’s work.

This weekend we also:

  • cleaned the entire house
  • gave Barley a bath
  • got Minnesota driver’s licenses
  • took Barley to the vet (he’s doing great, but could lose a little weight… winter wasn’t kind to him)
  • put up some shelves for DVDs/CDs and then unpacked more boxes and put the contents on the shelves (Jason’s special weekend project)
  • went on a double date with Jeff and Andrea – we had delicious mexican at Pepitos!  Yummy!

All in all, a great weekend!

April 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm 10 comments

long time, no blog

Just a few reasons why you haven’t heard from us in a while:

1. We’re* fixing the broken window in the garage. (or complaining about having to fix the broken window in the garage). Why? The garage is ancient and looks like crap anyways, right? Well, thanks to a little note from the City of Minneapolis, we had until April 11th to fix the window (which, is the least of the garage’s problems). Fortunately, my parents had trained us in window glazing in Kentucky, so we were well equipped with skillz to do it ourselves.

2. We’re* getting quotes for home repairs. And all of them are coming in higher than we want them to. $5,000 for a fence? You have got to be kidding me. Looks like we’ll be doing it ourselves. More on that (with photos) as it happens.

3. We’re* preparing to send save-the-dates. Okay, they’re done, but it wasn’t a small feat. I love how they turned out, though, so it was totally worth it.

4. We’re* doing our taxes. Yep, folks. This is the FIRST YEAR EVER that I’ve done them ALL BY MYSELF. I am officially a big girl now (I’m not certain, but this may confirm my “real adult” status). What can I say? My mom has such accounting prowess that it was always better for her to just do them (or at least help me do them). I am clueless when it comes to this stuff.

5. We’re* planning our trip to Milwaukee next weekend. Complete with meetings with our pastor, our cake-maker, and a florist. It will be a busy weekend, but I think it’s better to get this stuff done in advance.

6. We’re* complaining about the weather. Can you believe it snowed here today? Uggh.

*and by “we’re” I mean “I’m” – see post below. the madness has begun.

April 10, 2008 at 10:25 pm 4 comments

what have I gotten myself into?

Oh crap.  SEVEN more hours of housework per week?  No thanks.  I formally retract the save-the-date cards (that will be arriving in your mailboxes any day now).  The wedding’s off… even if Jason does make delicious chicken tacos.

(okay, I’m kidding about calling the wedding off.  I’m not kidding about the chicken tacos.)

Exactly how much housework does a husband create?

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for women, according to a University of Michigan study of a nationally representative sample of U.S. families.

For men, the picture is very different: A wife saves men from about an hour of housework a week.

The findings are part of a detailed study of housework trends, based on 2005 time-diary data from the federally-funded Panel Study of Income Dynamics, conducted since 1968 at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR).

“It’s a well-known pattern,” said ISR economist Frank Stafford, who directs the study. “There’s still a significant reallocation of labor that occurs at marriage—men tend to work more outside the home, while women take on more of the household labor. Certainly there are all kinds of individual differences here, but in general, this is what happens after marriage. And the situation gets worse for women when they have children.”

Overall, the amount of housework done by U.S. women has dropped considerably since 1976, while the amount of housework done by men has increased, according to Stafford. In 1976, women did an average of 26 hours of housework a week, compared with about 17 hours in 2005. Men did about six hours of housework a week in 1976, compared with about 13 hours in 2005.

But when the researchers looked at just the last 10 years, comparing how much housework single men and women in their 20s did in 1996 with how much they did in 2005 if they stayed single versus if they got married, they found a slightly different pattern.

Both the men and the women who got married did more housework than those who stayed single, the analysis showed. “Marriage is no longer a man’s path to less housework,” said Stafford, a professor in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from time diaries, considered the most accurate way to assess how people spend their time. They supplemented the analysis with data from questionnaires asking both men and women to recall how much time they spent on basic housework in an average week, including time spent cooking, cleaning and doing other basic work around the house. Excluded from these “core” housework hours were tasks like gardening, home repairs, or washing the car.

Click image to see more charts

The researchers also examined how age and the number of children, as well as marital status and age, influenced time spent doing housework.

Single women in their 20s and 30s did the least housework—about 12 works a week on average, while married women in their 60s and 70s did the most—about 21 hours a week. Men showed a somewhat different pattern. Older men did more housework than younger men, but single men did more in all age groups than married men.

Married women with more than three kids did an average of about 28 hours of housework a week. Married men with more than three kids, by comparison, logged only about 10 hours of housework a week.

From The University of Michigan

April 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm 6 comments

a letter from Barley

This found its way to my inbox today:

Dear Mom,

I know we spoke about this last night, but it appears that I need to reiterate our conversation.

You see, Dad likes to take me outside through the backdoor and I don’t mind it. I think he does it because he’s worried if I see another dog anywhere on our street, then I like to run away. For whatever reason he does it is fine because it allows me to relieve myself in the morning and after work (when I’z got to pee and poop bad!).

Anyway, the reason for this letter is that Dad almost killed himself on your red shoes this morning. The same thing happened last night and I talked to you, but now I’m going to put this in writing. I understand that you use those shoes in the basement and that those stairs are grody (believe me, I know since I go down them bare pawed). If you could just put them to the side of the stairs, then that would be great. Dad likes to open the door and then step down without looking (I know I always try to look where I walk, but it’s Dad and he’s a bit wacky) and stepping down onto your shoes usually causes some tense moments when I have to decide if I’m gonna need to go into protector dog mode and tell you that Dad has fallen down the stairs or I have to listen to his cussing before he opens the door and I pee all over the floor. Either way, it stresses me out and I’d prefer to not have that stress first thing in the morning.

I hope you are having a good day at work. I just want to let you know the house is safe. I barked at some guy who’s always sliding things through this slot onto our front porch and he went away.

I appreciate you listening to me and hope that we can resolve this matter without any additional altercations.

Love,
Barley

April 3, 2008 at 8:20 pm 2 comments

Spring Break, part three

Wednesday, March 26

Today, we docked in St Lucia, and I think it was my favorite of all the islands we’ve visited. Ashley had to fly back to the real world today, so she’ll be missing out on the rest of the adventure. Again, we got a rental car, and drove around the island. St Lucia has much steeper, narrower, and windy roads than the rest of the islands, but my dad did a great job driving and only scared the rest of us a little bit.

The town of Soufriere… so cute!

We drove by several cute little seaside towns on our way to see the Pitons (two very steep and strangely-shaped hills). We also drove into a volcano. Okay, it used to be a volcano. A long, long time ago. Then it sunk back into the earth. So now it is really just a little area with lots of tourists and some very hot and very stinky sulfur gases releasing into the air. If we wanted, we could have swam in the local mud and sulfur baths… we did not want.

We then stopped at an estate – the oldest one in St Lucia – for a tour. The coolest part of the tour was undoubtedly the demonstrations and food-tasting. The tour guide, with some help from an old man with very stubbly fingers, showed us how they open a coconut, and then we all tasted the unprocessed liquid inside the coconut and the coconut itself. Neither tasted like much. Next, they opened a pod from a cocoa plant, and we all tasted some of the goodies inside. The inside of the cocoa pod contains some surprisingly slimy seeds that taste citrusy. The actual cocoa bean is inside the slimy stuff, and requires fermentation, drying in the sun, and an old man dancing on the beans to mix oil into them before they’re ready for use. And even then, they are really bitter. I prefer my cocoa beans mixed with a lot of sugar. A lot.

Mom and I sip coconut juice.

At the end of the tour, we got lemonade. Then, we headed back to the ship, and on the way back, we stopped to buy fresh bananas from a banana farm. Yummy!

Dad and I enjoying lemonade.

Thursday, March 27th

Trevor’s 10th birthday! For his birthday, Trevor decided he wanted to go on a sea spi tour. We docked in Barbados and gathered with others from the ship that had reserved spots on the sea spi tour. Sea spies are little glass-bottomed boats – driving them is basically like snorkeling without going in the water. Trevor even got to drive his own sea spi, which was his favorite part of the entire vacation (his second favorite part? the delicious sourdough rolls available on the cruise ship). We drove over a few different shipwrecks and saw TONS of fishies. It was very cool.

Robby, Trevor, and I at the Mount Gay Rum plant.

After our morning on the sea spies, we had lunch and went to the Mount Gay Rum plant for a tour. The tour was pretty interesting, especially since there seem to be a lot of similarities between rum-making, beer-making (which I’ve learned about from Jason), and wine-making (which Mandy taught us about when we visited her in California). The worst part? The tasting at the end. Yep. I am just not really a hard liquor drinker (unless it’s mixed into a yummy concoction). And no matter how “smooth” the rum is, it still burns the throat a little.

Mom and I then stopped and did some shopping before heading back to the ship… the boys opted to go straight to the ship for a nap and some soft serve ice cream. Later that evening, Trev and I went climbed the ship’s climbing wall. We raced… but I’ll be a good sport and not tell you who won.

Trevor’s birthday dinner… doesn’t he look spiffy?!?

Friday, March 28th

Today was our day at sea, and we spent the entire day relaxing and improving our tans. Ahh. Relaxation.

Saturday, March 29th

Our cruise ended in San Juan this morning, and we grabbed a rental car and headed to the jungle villa where we’ll be staying for the remainder of our trip. My mom usually does a *fantastic* job picking out places to stay, so our expectations of the jungle villa were pretty high. Unfortunately, our room did not quite live up to our expectations (although, others that we peeked in on were quite cute, suggesting that we may have just gotten a bad room). The towels were thin, with holes in places, the hot water knob fell off the shower, and I don’t think any of the doors actually locked. The pool was alright, though, and the location was fantastic!

After checking in, we gathered our swimsuits and headed to the beach for a bit. At night, we kayaked on the Bioluminescent Bay. Micro-organisms in the bay’s water release energy in the form of photons when disturbed. When these organisms light up in groups, they emit enough light for the human eye to see. It was amazing! The kayak trip was pretty good (my mom and I make a great team), though scary at times since we were kayaking down a narrow river surrounded by trees and it was pitch black except for the glow sticks on either end of each kayak on our tour. Occasionally, we could hear iguanas and jumping fish nearby… a little creepy, since we never actually saw these animals.

Once we got to the biobay, all we had to do was put our hand or paddle or whatever in the water and stir it up. Then, ta-da, glowing water. Fantastic!

After biobay, we ate a very long dinner (it took almost 90 minutes to get our BBQ’d ribs and burgers in a nearly-empty restaurant… we were very confused). When we made it back to our jungle villa, we heard the Coqui frogs… cooing? chirping? They make a very interesting and distinct noise.

Sunday, March 30th

We were all awoken early today by the roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing right outside our window. I honestly had not heard a rooster before our carribean trip, and I hope not to hear one for a while. They are a bit annoying. And by “a bit”, I mean “extremely” – and the annoyance factor can be multiplied by 10 if it’s before 9 am and you’re on vacation.

Wish we had a BB gun.  Is that mean?

Trevor, mom, and I were unable to sleep in (somehow Robby and my dad managed to stay asleep… or at least fake it), so we headed down to explore the jungle near our hotel. There was a small stream with a few little waterfalls, so we walked along the stream for a while. We saw some big spiders. I think one landed on me, and I freaked out, so we decided to head back to the villas.

Trev and I exploring the jungle behind our villa.

Trevor spent a bit trying to find and play with Oscar, the villa owner’s cat. Oscar was a bit unpredictable, though, so Trevor’s “playing” usually went as follows: 1. Trevor walks around saying, “here Oscar”, 2. Trevor finds Oscar, 3. Trevor walks reasonably close to Oscar, 4. Oscar swats at Trevor, 5. Trevor runs away and/or hides behind Jen.

Mom and Dad in El Junque.

Once we got the boys moving, we all headed to El Junque for a hike in the rainforest. We found a path that lead to a waterfall, and decided to check it out. Trevor and mom actually went swimming, the rest of us declined. Then, we began the uphill hike back to the car and drove around El Junque to check out some other waterfalls and admire the plant life.

Mom and Trevor swim under a waterfall in El Junque.

For dinner, we picked up Pizza Hut, and headed back to the villa for an evening of Pizza-eating, book-reading, and Discovery Channel-watching.

Monday, March 31st

At some point last night, I think Oscar the cat got in a fight with something (possibly a rooster?) outside my window. Rrrraaarrrr! Cat fight. Scary. Today we were once again prematurely awoken by roosters outside our villa windows.

We packed and showered and headed to the airport. Goodbye, warm, sunny, beautiful weather. Hello, snow and cold. I wasn’t really looking forward to the change in weather. I was looking forward to seeing my boys at home, though!

April 2, 2008 at 9:58 pm Leave a comment

Spring Break, part two

Updates on Perry family vacation (now that I have internet access again). This is only a partial update – I’m going to leave you on the edge of your seats for the rest of the details…

Saturday, March 23

Today we were pretty slow about getting going, and ended up spending most of the morning in our hotel. Again, I got up and worked out (amazing) and Trevor decided to come with me. Trev, mom and I had breakfast while the others slowly got moving, then we headed to old San Juan.

Ash, Trev, Robby, and I at the fort

We went to see the old fort, which was pretty cool. Last time I was here, Jason and I and others had walked up to the old fort, but it was closed by the time we got there. Yesterday we were able to go in the fort, and Robby gave us the tour (which he read off of a handout provided by the national historic society). It was alright… a pretty cool fort all-in-all. We were a little disappointed by the lack of dungeons in the old fort, but the views were amazing. I still can’t get over how clear and blue the water is here.

After our trip to the fort, Trevor bought a kite and we sat out on the lawn outside the fort and watched him fly it. It was so windy, he didn’t have any problems… until the string broke and the kite flew away. Luckily, someone down wind caught the kite and Trev was able to retrieve it.

Trevor flies his kite

We walked around old San Juan for a bit after kite flying, and sat down at a tapas bar to eat dinner. My mom and I tried some authentic Puerto Rican cornbread rolls and fried cassava… both were quite delicious. We also checked out the shops, and Trevs got a little rooster marionette. He’s pretty darn good at making the rooster walk and peck – it’s really funny.

We then hopped on the ship. The boat is huge – there’s even 3 swimming pools and a climbing wall! Our room is not very big (as you would expect from a cruise ship room), but seems like it’s big enough for 4 of us (Trev and Robby have the top bunks). The food is great, and especially the soft serve ice cream machine. I still can’t get over the amount of food served on board and the fact that its there any time I want to eat it. Amazing.

Sunday, March 24

Today the ship docked at St. Thomas. We rented a car and drove to Red Hook, where we took a ferry over to St. John. The ferry ride was surprisingly cool, since we were able to take in some cool views of St. Thomas, St. John, and some of the smaller islands in the area.

Trevor on the ferry to St John

St. John was a beautiful island… very hilly and tropical. We stopped at Trunk Beach and swam for a while, and we rented snorkel gear and snorkeled for a little bit. The water was so clear, and we could see little fishes swimming near our feet. Ashley and Trevor got burned pretty badly, and we were all covered in sand by the end of the afternoon, but it was a great trip.

Robby and Trev go snorkeling

Back on the ship, we ate ice cream and hung out until dinner. Dinner was quite the event, our waiters even serenaded us in Italian (despite the fact that none of them were Italian). Trevor loooooves our Turkish waiter, Ergun, and has mentioned several times that “he is the nicest man” Trevor has ever met.

Monday, March 25

Today, we drove around St Maarten for a bit and then took a tour on “rhino riders” – which are a cross between jet skis and small inflatable boats. We drove the rhino riders along the coast of St Maarten, checking out the beaches and resorts along the way (Robby was especially intrigued by the nude beaches).

Ahh! Robby’s driving!

We learned that St Maarten is the smallest land mass shared by two countries, and the beaches there looked quite nice.

When we reached a bunch of large rocks positioned slightly off shore, we parked the rhino riders and snorkeled for a bit. Snorkeling is a little tricky in the ocean (compared to the Brookfield Central pool, where I first learned to snorkel in gym class), and I swallowed a bit of seawater. Not very tasty. But we saw a bunch of very cool-looking fishies, and they got so close to us while swimming… it was amazing.

 

After snorkeling, we rode the rhino riders back, and ate a late lunch at a little restaurant near the rhino riders rental. After lunch, we drove around the island for a bit and did a little shopping, and then it was time to head back to the boat for the evening.

 

Tuesday, March 26

 

Today we were docked at Antigua. We got off of the ship and rented a car, and spent much of the day driving around the island. Driving around the island was tricky – the roads were narrow and winding, going up and down the large hills (mountains?) on the island. Antigua has 366 beaches – we visited two. Half Moon Bay was our first stop, and it was the first beach that we had been to that wasn’t crowded.

Trev enjoys the waves at Half Moon Bay

The waves were also much bigger at this beach than at others we had been to. As usual, Trevor jumped right in, and was completely covered in sand by the time we were done swimming. The rest of us were a little more hesitant… and had significantly less sand coming out of our ears when we were finished.

More stories tomorrow, more pics are here:

 

SB2K8

April 1, 2008 at 11:04 pm 1 comment

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