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May 31st, 2007 by Joyce

Carmen’s “Man” and “Lady.”

Carmen’s “Grandma” and “Grandpa.”

David’s “Man” and “Lady.”

(From an e-mail to Matt, in meetings this week:)

C&D glued a man together, adding clothes, hair, buttons on a simple paper figure. Then they took off the clothes and made it go potty, and now they’re sticking feathers on the man. Poor man.

Oh, now he’s been redressed, and is going to church to get food. [Have we been to too many potlucks?]

(an edit, later:)

Now we made a lady. She had a dress. She had to go potty, too. Carmen’s is walking somewhere. And now she’s naked.

I need more glue.

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May 19th, 2007 by Joyce

When David noticed I was wearing a new tanktop: “Mommy need SHIRT! That’s bra!”

A game with their food, before eating it all: “No like it!”

At the restaurant: Nothing. They’re too busy eating.

David brushing Carmen’s hair: “Brush hair. That’s byootiful!”

David with Carmen in the car, when Carmen is crying: “Look, Carmen, look at the tractors! How PREDDY!” (From the same child who strokes his sister awake in the morning, then jumps on her and smushes her.)

Carmen, in bed: “Carmen somersault!”

Post started 30 May, published 16 May.

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Why do we like old pictures?

May 17th, 2007 by Joyce

Because we can see how much we’ve changed . . . and how much we haven’t.

12 October, 2006
At the old house, David liked taking advantages of the boxes we kept around the house in preparation for our move. I miss the porch and the opportunities for play and rest it provided us all.

Back then, C&D just said “Boo!” Now they say, “I see you!”

15 October, 2006
I also appreciated the fact that its concrete floor and drain meant I could hose down the floor, walls, and little people when play got a little . . . messy.

Back then, Carmen painted her face. Now she paints her face, arms and fingers. Sometimes she makes hand- and arm-prints on the paper. Sometimes she just makes a mess, and sometimes she just paints.

22 November, 2006
Mommy taught us how to eat soup with a spoon. And after watching her, now we also know how to just chug it down when the spoon just isn’t fast enough.

Sorry, Grandma, for the not-so-stellar table manners. (Way to go, kid!)

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Hot Town, Cool City (a.k.a. Madison’s Movie)

May 16th, 2007 by Joyce

Remember Madison, the Maven of all things Juicy? Remember that she was working on a movie? The movie is called Hot Town, Cool City but I just call it Madison’s Movie, as in “Hey, Madison, how’s the movie going?.” She worked as a production assistant. I don’t know what that means exactly, but it sounds kind of hard, and like maybe the job involves a lot of coffee.

The DVD arrived in the mail; can’t wait to see it.

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Flowers! And mud, and vanity.

May 7th, 2007 by Joyce

May 2:The weather was pretty and it was the first weekend in days not spent supervising or even discussing siding, wood rot, paint, and foundations. We needed out of the house, and in a hurry. Since C&D are enjoying this year’s flowers, we made a quick visit to the Houston Garden Center. We touched and smelled everything, from the roses

to the magnolia blooms in the trees

(Carmen asked Matt to lift her again and again, and made sure I took pictures. Lots of pictures.)

to the sticks on the sidewalk.

A couple of us had a hard time understanding the concept of landscape design, and that we shouldn’t be walking on the mulch. Or maybe they understood, but didn’t care.
May 7:

At the end of the week, we had our foundation stabilized a bit. Our house is built on a mound of soil that has been gradually eroding away. We want to add some soil and a retaining wall, but needed to stabilize the foundation first. It rocks and tilts with every rain and spell of dry. I know this because the doors stick and unstick, always catching us by surprise. The piers should help keep the foundation level, and at minimum prevent the foundation from tilting any further. C&D liked watching the men dig holes, and admired the piles of mud. They also noted that one of the men had a belly button (he was working with no shirt). It’s interesting that other people have belly buttons, too!

May 5:

C&D realized I had a camera in my bag. They wanted pictures of themselves sitting in their carseats. Notice Carmen hasn’t entirely understood the “smile” suggestion when the shutter is about to click. Her head is always forward, her mouth open as she anticipates a chance to see the image on the LCD. David isn’t likely to smile, either. He does like to pose, however. Vanity, thy name is Carmen and David!

Posted 15 May, but time-stamped May 7th to keep the photos chronological.

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Rhino is NOT your color

May 2nd, 2007 by Joyce

House, I decided your color is a color that we mixed at Home Depot the night before, with the help of our favorite employee at the paint department. You can see the results of our experimenting. Nine colors (one is a combination of two other colors, neither of which were of course remotely right), three different brands, two different stores. On the right, Behr’s Rhino, which even on a cloudy day washed to a color too light. (Under sun, the color seemed to vanish almost altogether.) On the left, the house’s current color, which in my opinion leads a little toward a color I like to call “urban yuck.”

While looking through pieces of broken siding, we found three examples of the original color, an antique-looking green. The samples were too small to color-match digitally, and even a specialty paint store matched the color to brown. We spent about 90 minutes at Home Depot, and while it’s still not quite right, it’s close, and more pleasant than “urban yuck.” If you look closely, you can see we had tried so many colors of paint that I needed to label them with a permanent marker to keep track. I’m sure our neighbors were highly amused (or not).

Posted 15 May, but pictures are from 2 May. Time-stamp altered to maintain chronological order.

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Can I just paint it black?

May 1st, 2007 by Joyce · 3 Comments

The house. Within a month of moving in we replaced the front doors, installed FLOR, created two new living spaces, painted the interior, fixed up the shelves and scrubbed, scrubbed, scrubbed. In December we replaced the toilets. The flanges were not installed correctly, so we installed the toilets on platforms that I shaped with a Dremel tool (and I coughed up cement board micro-bits for weeks). The pretty Marvin windows were rotten, rotten, rotten, despite lots of paint, paint, paint, so in February we replaced them, and the rotten framing around them. The roof leaked, so we replaced it in April. The siding leaked, so we peeled it back and found a happy family of rotten 2×4’s. Of course now the studs are replaced, and then we re-installed most of the cedar lap siding on the first floor.

And then we had to paint it. In between work, babies, and a scrambled brain we chose a color after a few days of deliberating, and bought a whole bunch of it.

And boy, was it bright, like the sky on a summer day. So we decided to paint the interior of the patio with it, and paint the exterior grey again.

But we were going to be smart. We were going to paint it the pretty green-grey that the house was originally painted, not the dark, coastal swamp mud color it is now. We brought home more paint chips. Lots of paint chips. The closest color to the original color (determined from a piece of siding that hadn’t been painted since the house was built) seemed to be a color called “Rhino.” I like rhinoceroses, so a rhino color seemed okay. To be sure we were on the right track, we drove to the architect’s house. We liked his house color. It seemed pretty close to “Rhino.”. Feeling groovy, we bought 10 gallons of rhinoceros-colored paint, a grey color with a hint of green.

This weekend my head spun and hurt. The house got painted while Matt played with babies and kept them away from my head. Sunday evening, like a bat emerging from its cave, I walked outside and blinked. And then I panicked. Where our house before looked dark and unwelcoming, now our house shines, like the moon at night. The rhino glows.

That paint color has not business on our house, which looks gaudy and bloated. That paint has no business on our street, in the company of houses painted with more subdued and modest colors. And really, “Rhino” bore no resemblance to the color we thought we bought.

I keep thinking of the dorm room at Rice that had a black Pink Floyd-style ceiling. They were on to something, with that. Can I paint the house black?

The upstairs siding (wood covered with vinyl) is in places rotten and disintegrating. We’re replacing it next. The upstairs siding was orininally painted a color that was 25% saturation of the first floor’s color. We can do that; whatever we paint the bottom of the house, we know how to match the top.


  • Caring about a house color gets you into nothing but trouble. Just paint it black.
  • Paint chips, test daubs on the can, and a whole lot of paint on the wall on a hot summer day are all different, even though they’re all rhinos.
  • Don’t assume they mean they grey one when they say, “Rhino.”
  • Doesn’t Pantone make paint, now? That way you’ll have a number that you can remember forever.
  • Plant lots of trees by your house. They you don’t have to stare at the walls as much (and notice how the color isn’t what you wanted).


  • Stop losing sleep (see the time stamp on this post?) and getting brain headaches (again, see the time stamp on this post?) over paint color.
  • Then, um, maybe pick something else.

I know, considering everything, 2007 has thus far been an excellent year. Really, I have nothing to complain about. For all that’s happened, you’re okay, I’m okay, we’re all okay. But should home ownership be this complicated? I miss my old house, painted a randomly-chosen color one lazy afternoon. It looked just fine, and I’m sure the studs in the wall weren’t rotten, and I know it didn’t leak.

As for the new house . . . are you sure I can’t paint it black?

I have ten minutes. I’m going to try to sleep before I have to be up for the day.

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