Saturday, September 30, 2006


I started writing an entry the other day, but didn’t get around to posting it. Later I thought it sounded too negative. Now I don’t think it sounds negative enough. So first of all, here’s what I wrote the other day:

I may have mentioned this before, but I am SO tired of this renovation. I want closets with shelves. I want casings and baseboards and a door on the bathroom and window coverings. I want my house to myself. I want my yard cleaned up. I want to have friends over for dinner. I am losing it. I am so tense and stressed. I can pretend to be kind of normal, but I am on the very edge of my sanity. How do I convince the medical establishment that I really am insane and they could put me in a quiet restful facility for a few weeks? (talk about the ultimate While You Were Out (At the Mental Hospital). Until now, I’ve tried to put it into perspective – we’re all healthy and well, we have jobs and food and beds and the kids are relatively happy. But now it doesn’t work anymore. I’m done trying to put a positive spin on it, and if one more person says it will all be worth it (yes, people still tell me that) I will cut off their hand with the mitre saw (at a 45 degree angle). That should fast-track my admittance to the psychiatric hospital. And now I’ve got a cold and if there weren’t workers in my house constantly, I would curl up in bed and stay there for as long as I could.

SO. Now it’s Saturday and we’ve had a day. The plumber came by this morning to tighten up a pipe under the upstairs sink and finish up a few details. He was about to leave when I asked if he’d tighten the toilet tanks a bit more. So he grudgingly went back into the main floor bathroom and was working on that when suddenly water started leaking through a big bulge in the bathroom ceiling. Water was raining down and the ceiling and wall were soaked. He started freaking out, so I freaked out even more. I ran to turn off the water and eventually it became a slow drip. He had no clue what was going on. So first he cut out some drywall in Neve’s closet (the upstairs bathroom pipes are behind that wall). Everything was dry there, so he started cutting away the main floor bathroom ceiling. He kept cutting and cutting until he found the leak. What appears to have happened is that the electrician drilled into the pipe while making a hole in the joist for the ceiling fan wiring. The hole was on the side of the pipe, so when the kids just washed their hands or brushed their teeth upstairs, there wasn’t a huge amount of water running down the drain. There is also insulation in the ceiling that would have soaked up small amounts of water. But when the plumber was tightening up the upstairs sink’s small leak, he filled the sink with water and let it all drain out to test the pipes. That amount of water filled the pipe and the water went through the hole and through my ceiling. I was so upset. I know it can all be fixed, but it means more work, more time, and more mess. And more money probably, although I’ve been assured it “will all be taken care of.” I had such high hopes for today; I was feeling a bit better and I planned to paint all the doors and door frames and closet doors upstairs, organize the kids rooms, etc. So far I’ve painted Chloe’s door and the bathroom doorway. It’s going to be a long night. Dale was a bit more successful – he built shelves in the hall closet. He also made a few trips to Home Depot, during one of which he left a new track light in the parking lot. He remembered when he got home, but by the time he went back, it was gone and no one had turned it in. I hate people. Who would steal track lighting?

Neve goes to bed in half an hour so I can get back to work then. I’ve got lots of doors to paint.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Toilets and Sinks

I keep meaning to take photos of the outside of the house now that the stucco’s done but I forget during the day and it gets dark so early. It’s crazy. I called the stucco guys about the white blotches on the south side of the house and they tell me it’s because of the rain splashing down the side of the house. We were purposely waiting to put the eavestroughs on until the stucco was done so the drain pipes wouldn’t be in their way. Now the stucco guys are all mad that we didn’t put the eavestroughs on first, but they never once mentioned it before. So they said they’d come back after the eavestroughs are on and re-mist it. Whatever that means. They assured me it can be fixed and said they’d take care of it. I’m assuming that means they won’t charge me more, but I know I should never assume anything. That small issue aside, I am still happy with the look of the house. I’ve had a few people tell me that if it wasn’t for the two bottom front windows, it would look like a brand new house. That’s kind of a mixed compliment: I wasn’t really trying to go for the new house look and secondly, they really mean that the front windows stick out like a sore thumb. I am planning to paint the trim around the windows, and I still have to paint the window boxes too. We’re also planning to put shutters up on the top front windows. I’m not sure when this will all happen, I’m not making any promises. I feel so busy and unorganized and overwhelmed pretty much all the time. And I just can’t see it getting better any time soon. Last night I was near an open window and I heard some people walking past our house and one said “Wow, I can’t believe how quick that went.” I wanted to scream out the window “IF YOU ONLY KNEW!!!!” There’s a house across the street that is just starting a renovation like ours – their roof was removed today. I feel sorry for them, but at the same time I was sort of smirking inside. We’re not the only crazy people. And if we can compare levels of crazyness, I think they’re more crazy because they’re only starting and it’s almost October. All the best with that, I say.

I went away for part of the weekend and when I came back, I had functioning toilets and sinks in both new bathrooms. It was like a mini While You Were Out. Actually the plumber was working on it when I left so I wasn’t even surprised. So really it was nothing like While You Were Out, except I was out. If it was the real thing, the whole house down to the baseboards and the touch up painting would have been done. Then I could resume a normal life and spend my days doing something besides going to Home Depot, dealing with tradespeople and trying to find items lost somewhere in this chaotic rubble and in the evenings I could watch TV sometimes instead of painting baseboards. Hmmm, this paragraph started out all positive and it somehow went the other way. My toilets and sinks are wonderful!!! I find myself still heading down to the basement and then I remember I don’t have to. I gave Neve her first bath in the tub upstairs and it was amazing! I have dreamed of the day I could bath my baby in a new clean non-horrifyingly disgusting tub and that day was today. For the past few months, I have bathed her by taking her into the shower with me or bathing her in the kitchen sink. The first option is quicker and less messy (she likes to splash in the sink). I always had to hold her in the shower because the floor of the shower is quite disgusting and she tries to lie down and drink the water collecting by the drain. Shaving your underarms while holding a big wet slippery baby is not the funnest thing ever. Oh man this is getting negative again. I better call it a day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This Week

New Developments this week:

  • Stucco is finished – looks great. Except some white patches are inexplicably appearing so I have to call the guys tomorrow and find out what’s up with that.
  • Tile in the entrance is done – also looks good but not so much with the colour I painted the walls. I was planning to paint the main floor hallway with the same paint – the same creamy linen colour that I painted upstairs, but am having second thoughts. Realistically though, I will probably leave it because I am very tired of painting. I love the tile guy. He is one of my top 5 tradespeople. He gives us a price and not only sticks to it, but ends up charging less than his quote. And he does good work.
  • Mural is done. Spencer is pleased.
  • Vinyl in upstairs bathroom floor is done. Dale put in some sweat equity and did that himself. We just need the hole for the sink cut into the countertop and then we’re ready for the fixtures to be hooked up. Except I decided I’m unhappy with the mint green paint and am now painting it bright white like I wanted to do in the first place. I need to do one more coat tomorrow.
  • Main floor bathroom is painted, light fixture is up and we are ready for the toilet and sink plumbing. The thermostat for the heated tile is connected. We still need the shower doors installed.
  • Ceiling patching is done in the living room, kitchen and dining room and is ready to paint.
  • The baseboards and trim are onsite and we’ve painted some of them.

There seems to still be a million things to do. I keep telling myself that at least the kids are all in their own rooms and starting to settle in. And I’m very happy to be done with the sanding dust and now I can clean the house. However there will be more dust from cutting the baseboards and trim, so I have an excuse to put off the cleaning a little longer. It will be wonderful once the bathrooms are done. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be able to just shuffle across the hall to go to the bathroom in the night. Sometimes I wake up in the night and really have to go, but the thought of going all the way to the basement with a million obstacles to step over and around is overwhelming. Of course this makes me have to go even more, so eventually I do. The scary part is that Dale’s a freaky sleeper and sometimes bolts upright in his sleep. If he notices I’m not there, he sneaks around the house until he finds me. There have been times when I’m coming up the stairs (in the pitch black darkness because I can’t turn on the lights because the kids were sleeping right there) and suddenly Dale will appear in front of me and say “WHO ARE YOU??” in the spookiest voice ever. The other night he was walking around the house with an aluminum baseball bat. It’s quite terrifying and I’ll be happy not to have to worry about that anymore. The other thing I’m excited about is the heated tile in our bathroom. Right now when I get out of the basement shower, I’m stepping on Astroturf. Who decided that that was an acceptable type of flooring?? Especially for inside. It’s actually not that nice for outside either. Anyway the heated tile is nice and you can program it so it’s warm when you get up in the morning.

My goal for tomorrow is to get the hallway cleaned up. Right now there are pails of mud and paint and paint trays and lots of other junk. I am going to clean it all up and get rid of the carpet scraps and plastic covering the floors. One step closer to living like normal people!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Drywall Dust

I was thinking today that I want to be a drywall taper. It’s kind of fun smooshing the mud around and repairing holes and cracks. But then I had to sand them and changed my mind. I only did a little bit tonight and the air is cloudy and it doesn’t feel so good to breathe (a little flashback to the asbestos removal days). Poor Mudder. Speaking of which, we have seen the last of him. He has been coming to tape and mud and sand every day (or every two or three days) for at least three weeks. He grew fond of Dale and the two of them became little chatting friends. After dragging it out as long as he could, he finally finished yesterday morning. I would like to say we are finished with drywall dust, but another guy is in the process of patching some cracks and holes in the ceilings. Hopefully he’ll be done in the next day or two. I actually look forward to thoroughly cleaning my house once that’s all done.

Tyler the tile guy is coming tomorrow to tile the front entrance, so we quickly had to prime and paint it today. Janet came to help, we also primed the main floor bathroom. I had hoped to prime the hallway and paint the bathroom this weekend, but it’s 11:30 on Sunday night and time has run out.

Mom & Dad came over today and brought the new railing for around the stairwell. My dad made it out of metal and my brother and/or nephew painted it. It turned out very well and I’m so pleased with it. Now Neve can wander around up there as she pleases. She went home with my mom & dad tonight, so we haven’t yet experienced the lower rate our hearts will beat at when she goes upstairs.

Mural Guy was here a couple of times last week. He is coming tomorrow to finish Spencer’s mural. We ended up with two Superheroes rather than three, due to time/money constraints. Spencer chose Batman & Spiderman. He is thrilled with it so far. Neve is a little nervous about Spiderman. She stands in the doorway of Spencer’s room and points at him. Mural Guy also painted clouds and a sun on Chloe’s ceiling, so she’s happy with that. The kids have been having so much fun playing in their new rooms. They're really enjoying having their own space and making their rooms cozy. Neve slept in her crib for the first time last night. She was looking around curiously as I put her down, but she slept well. She loves standing in her crib and looking out her window. Alas, we will be squashing her joy by putting up blinds.

And our stucco guys. They have so come through for us. They have finished two and a half sides of our house so far. I think it is taking them longer than they thought, but then again they also quit early most days (2:00 on Friday). But they have done a great job of matching up the top and bottom halves of the house. You really can’t tell where the new walls begin. The colour is not what I thought it would be – it is definitely more of a sandy brown than green – but I quite like it. It’s a neutral, inoffensive colour. Maybe not the most exciting colour in the world, but it’s not white and it’s definitely not mint green.

We are approaching the 4 month anniversary of this renovation in a week or two. That saddens and disappoints me. I’ll definitely be drinking that day, but not the happy fun way like in beer commercials. More like the lonely homeless person in the back lane. I’m (mostly) kidding. The progress this week was actually quite good. We are getting close to being done, but there are still so many smaller things left to do. We still need vinyl flooring in the bathroom, doors hung, trim and baseboards put on, closet shelves and rods, shower doors installed, toilets and sinks hooked up, eavestroughs, etc. etc. Just imagine what I’m going to be like if this makes it to a 6-month anniversary. It’s not going to be pretty.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


The playroom (facing east - front of the house). There's a window seat and bookshelves will be built in on either side of the seat.

The carpet is completely done and we're so happy with it. I think it looks good with the paint colours, it's soft and it won't show dirt. What more could you ask for in a carpet? I vaccuumed and washed the windows upstairs and it feels so good. The kids have had so much fun running around there tonight. There's no railing yet, so I've probably lost 3 years off my life in one evening, worrying that someone will fall down the stairwell. Dale put Neve's crib up and she was so pleased. It was pretty funny. I think she remembers it. We put her to bed downstairs in her playpen though, since we wanted to clean upstairs. Chloe & Spencer are sleeping on the floor in Chloe's room.

I was hoping to move their dressers upstairs, but Mudder came tonight and was working in the hallway. I was hoping we'd be able to move the big stuff upstairs before he finished the mudding process so that he could fix up any new nicks and bumps. We've got another guy coming to do touch ups on the ceilings, so I'm sure he could fix that too. Anyway Mudder thinks he'll only have to come once more, maybe twice.

The stucco guys finished the scratch coat today and will start putting on the stucco tomorrow. I'm so nervous about the colour we chose. It's green, kind of a beige-y dirty green. At least that's what the half centimetre square on the colour brochure looked like. I'm hoping with all my heart that it will look better than it sounds. It was such a tough decision whether to go with the "safe" brown/mocha or take a risk with the green. I had my heart set on green, but I wish there had been more samples to choose from. It was either this green or mint green. That would have matched my bathroom. JC says they'll be done in two days, so I guess we'll see how it turns out. Cross your fingers.

Neve has discovered she can open our front door and come and go as she pleases. We were quite surprised the first time we found her outside.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Painting photos

I was finally able to upload some photos. By the way, the carpet IS in, although the carpet installers are back again tomorrow to finish up....! It looks great.

In case you can't tell, Spencer was thrilled to paint part of his room.

Lori does the hard part.

Dale thinks we could have provided healthier snacks like prunes and organic celery.

Sabrina does the hallway.

Jim & Patricia in Chloe's room.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The painting has gone very well. Jim came back on Thursday and helped us paint all the ceilings. On Saturday, Jim & Sabrina, Patricia, Lori, Dale & I finished painting all the walls. So it was very successful and I’m so happy. A giant thank you to everyone that helped, it was a fun day. We had pizza and fresh cinnamon buns for lunch, then we ended the day at Bob & Janet’s (who painted the exterior of their house yesterday) for Chinese food. Dale’s mom had the kids all day, which was a huge help. And she made the cinnamon buns. I tried to post photos again, but they are not uploading and I am doing the same thing I used to do. I was thinking of getting a myspace account and putting in a link to my photos there.

There were a few spots that Mudder touched up that we had to paint today. Dale put up all the lights in the bedrooms and closets and all the light switch and outlet covers today. It makes it look so much more finished. We were also going to put up the light that the electrician dragged over here on the bus. It's been lying around the house for about two months in a garbage bag. When we took it out of the bag, we discovered the glass cover was broken. It turns out it would have been way too big for the hallway light anyway, and I'm not sorry for giving the guy $40, BUT... it is yet another thing that has been broken with no one confessing to it. Our vanity for the upstairs bathroom has been sitting in the middle of the second floor for a couple of months as well, and a couple of weeks ago we noticed the board that would support the back of the countertop was cracked. No one mentioned anything. Then last week, it broke completely. It's something that can be fixed, but it bugs me that no one tells us anything and we will be responsible (either time or money) for fixing it. I know things break and I'm not holding that against anyone, but don't try to pretend no one did it. It's like my kids, except worse because the workers did not come out of my belly and I don't really love any of them.

The carpet comes tomorrow (well officially today since it's after midnight). The carpet better come tomorrow. I am fully expecting it to be installed tomorrow and I will be very sad if it isn't. I have my hopes and my children's hopes completely pinned on it. Isn't it nice to see that I have not lost my naive innocence and trust in the trades? You'd think I'd be cynical and doubting, but I'm not. I will have carpet upstairs tomorrow (today).

We’re having a mural painted in Spencer’s room, so the mural guy is coming on Tuesday to take a look at the wall and to get an idea of what we want. Spencer wants Batman, Spiderman and Superman all together with a night cityscape in the background. Depending how that turns out, I’m tempted to get him to paint stuff in the girls’ rooms too. Chloe wants a flower theme, and I’d like to do a fairy theme for Neve. I don’t actually have any fairy stuff or even know what I can find, but I like the idea. Any suggestions are welcome. Her room is purple, like a dusty lavender (?). I don’t know how to describe it. Chloe’s room is bright green, Spencer’s is a smoky blue, and the playroom and hall is a creamy white with a feature wall the same colour as Neve’s room. I’m happy with the colours, except I’m not sure about the bathroom. I wanted a very clean white room, but at the last minute I chose a very light cool green. But it looks a little too minty. Hopefully it will look better when the vinyl floor and vanity are in. And who am I kidding - unless it’s hideous, it will stay that way until Neve is a teenager.

The stucco guys came Thursday and Friday and put up the stucco wire. After a cash deal in the bank parking lot, they said they’d be back Monday to do the scratch coat. I haven’t been home much since they’ve been here, but they seem to be good workers. My only beef is that they left the scaffolding set up right beside our side door for the weekend. It’s the door we use the most often, and now we can’t get in or out of it. It would be a good excuse to use the new front door, but unfortunately we can’t find the keys for the new lock. Neve probably hid them somewhere.
In other news, on Friday afternoon I went to school with Spencer. He is so excited about school and just soaked it up. I was worried because he kept insisting he wanted to go back to the school he went to for nursery, but I can see he’s going to be just fine. He definitely is not going to be the shy one.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

All Good

So… we have begun the painting process!! Mudder finished sanding yesterday, so I went to the paint store today and bought lots of paint. Tonight Jim & Sabrina and Mom & Dad showed up and we primed the entire second floor. I am SO happy. I see a light. I am moving towards it. Tomorrow we are planning to start painting the ceiling. Even though it’s lots of work, it feels so good to be in control of the progress for once. The carpet is scheduled to be installed on Monday, so we’ve got a deadline and I’m determined to make it. We will be painting all weekend (hint hint). It’s actually quite fun and think of how happy you will make me. I will mention you in my blog. The only rule is no singing Fergie’s “London Bridge. Just kidding, I don’t care what you sing as long as you are holding a paintbrush.

So besides Jim & Sabrina and my parents, there is another unsung hero I have to recognize: our dear friend Dino. Remember our plumbing dilemma I mentioned last time? We called the plumber and he was defensive and said he didn’t move the drain because he couldn’t. Dale (who knows nothing about plumbing) challenged him on that, so he admitted it could be done, but kept insisting it would be “excessive work” which he obviously has an aversion to. He eventually and grudgingly agreed to come, but at this point we don’t have much faith left in him. Enter Dino. He comes to our rescue and fixes it in 15 minutes. Seriously. He’s amazing. We are very fortunate and appreciate all the help and support we have had from friends. We love you all. But especially Dino.

Mudder started taping the main floor today. I am starting to like Mudder. He spoke to me today (first time) and it turns out he’s quite friendly. He was talking about how busy he was and I said something about him not having time for a life outside of work and asked if he had kids. He said (and he wasn’t joking) “That reminds me. I have a son.” It honestly sounded like he had completely forgotten. That guy is so stressed. Maybe I should bake brownies for him.

John Candy called today. They’re going to start our stucco tomorrow. They came by and dropped off a wheelbarrow and scaffolding and stuff. I love them. They are jolly and polite. They are my favorite trade so far. I am definitely going to bake brownies for them.

In other news, Chloe’s first day seemed to go well. She was happy with her teachers and was happy to see her friends; I think it’s going to be a good year for her. Spencer doesn’t start officially til next Thursday and he thinks it’s quite unfair that he couldn’t start today. It’s not like him, he doesn’t normally love school. We’re going to meet the teacher tomorrow and he’s supposed to bring something he loves to show Mrs. J. He keeps insisting that he’s bringing God & Jesus. I guess we’re sending him to the right school.

Ending on yet another positive note, I finally got my eye drop prescription.

Things are looking up all around!!

Monday, September 04, 2006


I didn’t realize it’s been a week since the last update. It’s amazing how time flies even when NOTHING is happening. I’ll do the good/bad list again to summarize this last week.

We’ll start with the negative to get that out of the way.

  • We are so not going to be anywhere near finished before school starts.
  • The drywall tapers are painfully slow.
  • The drywall tapers don’t show up when they’re supposed to.
  • The drywall tapers are anti-social and grunt when we speak to them.
  • I am so frustrated with the mudding & taping process.
  • Everyone else’s renovations, with the exception of the Ground Zero project in New York, are moving ten times quicker than ours is. I don’t know if the Freedom Tower is a fair comparison but if that’s done before our house, I am going to freak.
  • We are over budget.
  • Neve doesn’t nap properly in the basement. She is getting more and more noise sensitive and wakes up crying her eyes out if we sneeze too loud.
  • My eyes are itchy and dry all the time and I can’t wear my contacts and the doctor is dragging his feet about prescribing the eye drops I need.
  • The plumber put the drain for the monster sink in the wrong place. He already came back once to move the plumbing when we first realized how large the sink was. The lines for the tap are fine, but he didn’t move the drain and the pipe is very visible when you walk into the bathroom. We’ve called him to come back, but he’s got to hurry because they’re almost ready to start taping on the main floor.

Now for the positive.

  • Nothing.

Well that’s being downright pessimistic. This project is starting to affect my whole outlook on life. I better come up with a few good things.

  • We like Tyler. He finished tiling the shower and floor in the main floor bathroom. He seemed to be a good careful worker and wants to do the tiling in both the new entrance and our north side entrance as well. We’ll call him when the taping’s done on the main floor.
  • The blow-in insulation company was true to their word and showed up on Wednesday. The guy(s) climbs up onto the roof, removes a roof vent, and climbs into our attic like a rat. When he’s done, he replaces the roof vent with a new one, re-shingles anything they’ve disturbed, and climbs down. They pride themselves on not entering the house at all. Personally I wouldn’t really care if they had come through the house, but whatever.
  • Although if all the trades could enter via the attic, there’d be nothing wrong with that. One more good thing about this insulation company. They got us a $380 Hydro rebate, all on their own initiative. They’re awesome.
  • Clay finished both window boxes and installed them temporarily. We’ll have to remove them for the stuccoing. We have to paint them yet, but they look good.
  • I saved the best news for last. Mudder & friend showed up this afternoon, and they are going to be done sanding tomorrow night, so I can start painting on Wednesday!!! Because I’ve got Neve, I probably will only do bits and pieces until the weekend, and then I’ll go crazy. So if anyone feels like coming to help, I won’t say no. Bring a favorite brush or roller handle if you have one, and I’ll have extras on hand too. If you can’t make it this time around, don’t worry. There will be another chance in a week or so when the main floor bathroom, entrance and hallway ceiling are ready to paint.

Hope everyone has a good week, getting kids back to school and adjusting to the end of summer …