Monday, October 30, 2006

Fabric Store

Look at this. My second posting in two days. And some people were worried I wouldn’t have anything to write once the renovation was done.* I just have more time now. So I can just ramble about anything I want. (are you worried now??)

* for the record, the renovation is not officially done. It could be done if I was spending my time more wisely.

Neve’s Window

Neve’s crisp white window is not so white anymore. Yellow streaks are showing through. Does anyone know why this might have happened? I primed it before painting, but I’m wondering if I should have used a different type of primer. Or different paint? Maybe I should have used oil based paint? All questions and no answers.

The Sunfire

Dale’s car was ready to pick up this morning and it was just the alternator. $350 total, so that’s a big relief. Three digits are better than four.

Window Seat

I bought the fabric and sponge for the windowseat today. The sponge cost almost as much as an alternator. Fabric stores are probably my least favorite retail outlet in the world. The staff are always old grim miserable women. I think they get employee incentives if they never smile. I remember being stuck in them for hours with my mom when I was younger. So I carried on the tradition and dragged Neve & Spencer there against their will. I couldn’t find a fabric I really wanted and the kids were starting to go crazy, so eventually I just grabbed something. Turns out it’s almost identical to the couch fabric in the living room, which I’ve been tired of for a few years already. And it doesn’t match anything upstairs. I guess I can always change the fabric (yeah right) if I find something better. Next time I’ll go when Chloe’s out of school so she gets a chance to create fond memories of the fabric store too.

Funny Things Spencer Said Today

We were deciding how to carve the jack-o-lantern and I suggested “Happy Halloween” (we had some templates). He said, “Nah. Too cheerful.”

He went bowling with a friend this afternoon and when he was telling me about it, he asked “Who’s the good guys – the bowling pins or the ball?” I said probably the pins because the ball comes barreling along and knocks them all down for no reason. (What intelligent discussions we have.) Anyway he says, “Yeah! The pins are just standing there minding their own business, praying to Jesus.” I asked why they were praying and he looked at me like I was a bit slow and said “because the ball is coming.”

On the way home from school, Chloe was talking about how some kids at her school don’t believe in Halloween because they think it’s Satan’s birthday and he’s evil. Spencer asked, “Who’s Satan? Is he in your class?”

I guess they haven’t gotten to the devil section in the Kindergarten curriculum yet.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Always Get a Cart

Yet another weekend of working on the house. Mom & Dad took Spencer & Neve from Friday to Saturday, so we got lots done on Saturday. Dale put up shelves in the playroom and Neve’s room and I mostly painted. I painted the bay window in Neve’s room white. It was a medium dark wood (oak? I’m not so good with my woods. I know pine.) and now it’s bright white. It makes a huge difference. It looks so clean and crisp. As I was painting over the wet moldy wood near the glass, I was thinking that maybe we should have bought a new window instead of re-using that one (it was in the upstairs front window in its previous life). It fogs up and there’s moisture on the window and sometimes there’s black mold near the edges of the glass. Other than that, I love the bay window, and we wouldn’t have spent the money to buy a new one like it. I do like the idea of reusing the things we could just to keep a little of the old in with the new. I just wish it wasn’t moldy.

Another fun thing I did on Saturday was a trip to Home Depot. I hadn’t been for a while, and I just had to get a furnace filter and paint rollers. My first mistake: not getting a cart. When I saw the lighting section, I thought I’d just pick up a light fixture for the main floor hallway. We hadn’t bought one yet because we were hoping to find something a little nicer than just the basic bedroom type discs, but not a big entrance chandelier. By this point though, I didn’t care and just wanted to check it off the list. So I find a basic bedroom light fixture (no one will notice, I say. so don’t look at the light fixture when you see our house) and then while I’m there, I may as well get a light fixture for outside our north side door. So I’m carrying two light fixtures, then the furnace filter and the paint rollers. Then I decide to buy trim to put around our bathroom mirror. There is a long and frustrating story about this mirror trim which I won’t go into, but let’s just say I have spent way too much time and effort on getting this trim. So I put my stuff down in the trim/baseboard aisle and find one I like. I cut it into two pieces with the saw in the aisle, because it’s 14 feet long and won’t fit in my van otherwise. As soon as I cut it, I realized I cut one piece a foot too short. There are people waiting to use the saw, so I’m thinking I’ll make it work with this shorter piece of trim and gather up all my stuff plus my two long pieces of trim. Then Dale calls on the cell and I ask him if I have the right furnace filter size. He says no. So I have to go back to the furnace filter aisle. As I’m walking, I decide it’s time to get a cart. Can’t find one. My arms are very tired from carrying everything so awkwardly, so I just dump my stuff on the floor near the checkout. I hear glass breaking. Then I get a cart from a woman at the checkout who’s done with it, I load up all my stuff including the broken light fixture and go back to the other end of the store to get a different light, a different furnace filter, and since I seem destined to be there forever anyway, I went back and cut another piece of trim the right size. This is a long story, but I assure you this process took way longer than it sounds. Whenever I get to the point where I think this reno wasn’t that bad, I will go to Home Depot and it will all come rushing back. Preferably in spring or summer, when it’s garden tractor season and I have to wait while Spencer takes a turn on each and every tractor while I am standing there as impatiently as humanly possible and Neve is standing up in the cart .5 seconds after I put her in it. And I have a long list that will require staff help in 4 different departments. And I smell that sickening Subway smell at 9:30 in the morning. Yeah. I think the healing process will be longer than I think. There are things coming to the surface that I wasn’t even consciously aware of. I am going to become an anti-renovation spokesperson. I could be sponsored by real estate agents and moving companies and Welcome Wagon.

We've decided to have a little open house for some of the neighbours next Sunday afternoon. They've put up with a lot of noise and mess and convicted felons, so we'll serve them some nanaimo bars, let them take a look around, and hope they forget and forgive everything. I can't imagine we'll be done all our little jobs by then, but it'll be extra motivation to do what we can. It's a busy week too, with Halloween and lots of other stuff going on. I have to get the kids costumes together yet. Spencer wanted to be an evil, bloody monster but I was trying to convince him to be a cat since we have a cat costume. We compromised and now he's an evil cat. Just kidding, he's going to be a pirate. He's happy because he gets to carry a sword (which I still have to buy) and I'm happy because we already have everything (except the sword). Chloe's going to be a princess for the 3rd year in a row. Before that she was a cat. Neve's going to be a caterpillar or a fairy, if the costume fits over her puffy jacket.

Dale's car died while driving to his Winnipeg office on Thursday. He's been expecting that for a while (but why take it in until you have to?). Fortunately it happened half a mile from our car repair place and not an hour north of Pine Falls. Turns out it was the alternator (we were relieved it wasn't the transmission) and it was supposed to be ready on Friday, but as we were leaving to pick up the car, they told us it wasn't working after all and they'd have to do more testing on Monday. We're not so relieved anymore. I'm not going to answer the phone tomorrow. I'll tell them to let it ring 3 times if it's good news, and just once if it's bad news.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Now that we’re almost done our project, I’ve been thinking of the guy across the street who took off his roof at the end of September around the time it rained a lot. He does it himself in the evenings. I was thinking of offering to write a blog for him.

Monday: Called up some buddies to help work on the house tonight. No one answered. My grandpa came though, so we got some work done.

Tuesday: The roof is off, but I have a really good tarp. I feel no rush to get any work done. Besides, it’s only October and the weather will be nice for ages yet.

Wednesday: It snowed last night. I don’t feel like working outside when it’s freezing cold. Besides it’s a bit slippery. I wish I was finished like the house across the street. They’re so lucky. They must be so happy.

Thursday: The roof really needs to be put on, but I was tired when I got home from work so I just watched Ugly Betty and fell asleep on the couch.

Friday: My friends still aren’t answering, so I called up my buddy Chad from high school. He didn’t remember me, but I asked if he’d come help anyway. He said no.

Saturday: I joined the Bandidos today to make new friends. They look strong, I bet they could carry two rafters at once.

This is actually more like our situation than I care to admit (except for the gang part). We just can’t seem to get the last bit of work done. I can’t do anything when Neve’s awake, and when she’s sleeping I do Chamber work. That leaves the evening, and by the time dinner’s cleaned up and the kids are in bed, I usually have to work a little more so there’s no time for starting a project. Dale works Saturdays and I can’t do anything with all 3 kids, so I’m not sure when it will ever get finished. Clay and his worker were here a couple of days this week. They finished out the storage space inside the windowseat, built shelves in my medicine cabinet and sanded and mudded the bathroom ceiling again. They still have to put the little door on my medicine cabinet and sand and mud the ceiling one more time. It doesn’t sound like much, but I suspect that will take another week or so. It’s not that I mind them, it’s just that I want this to be OVER. I want to put this behind me and never speak of it again. A few people have asked me the “worth it” question and I just can’t go there yet. I have to assess the costs first – the stress probably cost me several years of my life, the drinking has likely caused liver damage, I’m sure I’ve scarred my children from the lack of patience and attention during this time, our financial situation makes me want to throw up, and through it all I’ve become hardened and bitter and cynical. On the plus side, I now have a nice linen closet.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Neve in Boots

Neve in Clay's boots

A tiny picture of our house. Still need to paint or stain those window boxes.

It’s been such a treat this week not to have anyone working in our house. My stress level has plummeted. For the most part. I’m not going to say I don’t I have any stress; what fun would that be. There’s still work and kids and school and life in general. But everyone has that. I’m no different from anyone else now and I can’t use the renovation as an excuse for being insane anymore. I’m not sure I like that. I’ll have to find a new reason.

Luckily I think I can squeeze a couple more weeks out of the renovation excuse. Don’t worry Dave, that to-do list is nowhere near completion. In fact it’s growing by the minute. I started painting the baseboards in the main floor hallway, but I discovered I have to mud some spots first. So I stopped painting the baseboards. And since I have a bunch of other spots that need mudding too, I didn’t feel like starting that. Now I still have “paint baseboards” on the list and I’ve added “mud baseboards.” And so on and so on. Since Friday when the guys moved out, I’ve done basically nothing to the house. I’m scared that all the little things will be left until the week before our house is put up for sale. (of course we are never moving again, but when the children sell the house after we have both died). But my dear sister called and offered to help me this afternoon, so I’ve taken her up on it. That will force me to do something. Of course I could be starting now before she gets here since the kids are both napping, but I really have to update the blog. And then I have to practice the parking game on the computer. Then I need to look at the Sears Wish Book for a while (I love that thing) and decide what I want for Christmas (what page is “motivation” on?). After that if she still isn’t here, I’m going to make up a new to-do list.

One new development this week: the junk removal guy came yesterday and took away ALL our garbage! This excites me greatly. I have been looking out the back windows every chance I get. Here’s a photo of the guys removing the garbage. I didn’t want them to see me taking a picture, so I took it through the window. I guess I won't be using it for our Christmas cards or anything. And what a shame because nothing says merry christmas better than two grubby guys cleaning up plywood scraps.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cleaning Up the House

Friday was a happy day in our household. The big saw that was blocking the top of our stairs for the last month was removed, along with all the guys’ tools and other stuff. There are still a few more odds and ends they have to come back and finish up, but it feels so good to have them moved out. I dusted and vacuumed the playroom area upstairs and the kids played there. It’s just an open space right now, so they ran in circles around the room. When they got tired of that, they set up the little tent and played in that. Chloe’s been asking for that tent to be set up for months, but we just didn’t have a place to put it. Now we do.

We still have lots of little projects to do like painting and putting up shelves and organizing stuff, but I don’t feel the same overwhelming pressure anymore. I feel like I can finally exhale. On Saturday I spent a few hours cleaning our bedroom. It was such a mess, with a thick layer of dust covering it all. There were kids toys and books and clothes and things from the old bathroom and papers and more papers and Neve’s diapers and baby blankets and slippers. It feels so clean and peaceful now. I’m sure it won’t last, but it’s nice for now. When Neve was at my parents’ last week, I cleaned the kitchen, dining room and living room, so we’re finally getting back to normal. In fact, a new and improved normal. I’m really noticing the extra space – rather than having the kids all concentrated in the living room bouncing off the walls, they’re spread out over the whole house. In fact sometimes I don’t even know where they are. And I love it. Although it makes me nervous when Neve’s too quiet. It takes a while to find her sometimes.

Some guys came to put up our eavestroughs on Saturday, so that’s another thing to check off the list. The stucco guys still have to come back to fix the white streaks of stucco on the south side of the house. I called them this week and now they’re giving me a hard time. They’re saying it’s my fault because the eavestroughs weren’t up and they think I should pay for at least part of it. I’m thinking not. I’m ready for a fight.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Things I’m thankful for:

  • That we got 75% of our to-do list done on Saturday
  • Jim & Sabrina for helping us all day Saturday
  • Bob & Janet for taking Neve to the cabin so we could work all day Saturday
  • Mom & Dad for taking Neve tonight for a few days so I can get the other 25% of the list done.
  • My contacts aren’t bothering me any more so I don’t have to wear my glasses anymore.
  • I can wear makeup and do my hair now that I have mirrors in the bathrooms.
  • Soon I won’t have to go to Home Depot or Rona ever again.
  • I haven’t sawed off anyone’s hand yet
  • That I got my speeding ticket reduced by $60
  • For all my friends who have supported us through this renovation with your comments and phone calls and kind words

The big push is on to get the last bit DONE!! Clay is working today on the trim and the shelves beside the window seat and other odds and ends. I’m very cautiously optimistic that pretty much everything will be done by the end of the week. I don’t even like to say that out loud, but I’m going to anyway. It will encourage me to do everything I can to make it happen. I know of a few things that won’t be done by then, but I’ll say 98% done. Well maybe 95%. Things are already so much better. I’ve put towels in the bathroom linen closet and sheets and blankets in the hall linen closet. The two older kids have closet shelves and rods. The doors have knobs and almost all the leftover bits of painting are done and the track lights and mirrors are up.

So happy thanksgiving everyone, may this blog be over soon!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It must be the red hair

I’ve calmed down somewhat since Saturday. My heart rate still skyrockets when I look up at the bathroom ceiling, but mostly I’ve swung the other way and am lethargic and apathetic. My goal is to just get through one day at a time until one day when I wake up and the scraps of dirty rug will be off my hardwoods, the dust will be gone, the table saw which blocks off the top of the stairs will be gone, and no one will be in my house except for the people in our family picture. And Neve. We need to update that photo. She’s been around for a while already. Feels like forever. I’m straying from the renovation for a minute, but here is a list of naughty things she did today (this is for you, Lisa):

  • Threw Tupperware in the garbage. She loves throwing things in the garbage. You never know what you’ll find in there (or what we didn’t)
  • While grocery shopping, she got a hold of a tub of yogurt from the cart and dropped it. The container split open and yogurt splatted all over the floor.
  • Tried to eat 4 beads
  • Messed up Chloe’s desk and tore a page out of a book
  • Threw about ten of Spencer’s Hot Wheels cars into the kitchen sink
  • Hit Chloe on the head with a hammer
  • Escaped outside when I ran out to put stuff in the recycling bin, luckily I saw her on my way back in, walking around the backyard with no pants or shoes on.

And this doesn’t count any of her usual messing up or regular mischief, so it’s just the tip of the iceberg. She only napped for about an hour and a half all day so it was a long long day for me. Taking that into consideration, I actually got a lot done. I need to lower my expectations drastically.

The guys are still plugging away at the trim. I know there is a lot of measuring to do, but I can hardly stand how long it’s taking. They’re almost done the window & door casings and they might start the baseboards tomorrow. I need to have a discussion with them about how I’m borderline psychopathic and how good it would be for everyone if they would work as fast as they possibly can (while still doing quality craftsmanship). I think what’s really getting to me is not knowing when this will be over. Although if they do give me a finish date and they don’t finish on or before that date, well, I don’t even want to think about it. I think no end date is better than a missed one.

There’s really nothing else to say. I got a bunch of doors painted Saturday night. Dale put shelves in some of the closets. We finally moved the kids’ beds up. They’re getting quite settled, especially Chloe. She has every inch of her room filled with her doll daycare and her papers and books. Spencer spends lots of time in his room drawing and putting stickers on papers. He hasn’t brought any of his toys up there yet, only books and papers and markers. He is surprising me. At school, he says his favourite part is the schoolwork. Seems he is more like Chloe than I thought. That leaves Neve to be the wild one. She’s got a good start.