Monday, September 28, 2009

Still Alive!

Just painting, painting, painting. I promise pictures soon, but no kidding, my hands are so sore by the end of a day's painting that I can't even contemplate picking up a camera. Here's my average day this week:

1. Coffee, two cups.

2. Paint, two hours.

3. More coffee, what the hell.

4. Paint, two more hours.

5. Lunch. Diet Coke for energy.

6. Paint. Possibly black out from paint fumes at some point because before I know it, somebody is grousing about dinner and a glance at a clock shows that five hours have rolled by.

7. Dinner.

8. More painting! Remind self that someday I get to live in these new rooms, and it will all be worth it.

9. Hot shower. Try not to fall asleep standing up.

10. Collapse into bed.

Then, just to mix things up (and because I'm a masochist), on Thursday and Friday of last week my husband and I chaperoned an overnight field trip with Bug's class. We stayed overnight at an island lighthouse and had an amazing experience. I'll definitely be blogging more about that when THE INFERNAL PAINTING IS DONE AND I GET TO HAVE A LIFE AGAIN. Ahem. Sorry about that. The fumes make me tetchy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Name That Varmint!

UPDATED TO ADD: Those of you who guess vole are correct!


This little critter seems to be living in my front flowerbed:
I'd caught quick glimpses of him hustling across paths between flowerbeds, but the other day while we were eating lunch on the patio, he popped out of the sage onto the sidewalk. He appeared to be enjoying his lunch of swept-off-the-patio-birdseed as much as we were enjoying our pesto chicken pasta with roasted tomatoes.

He's about five inches long with only a stumpy (non-mouse-like) tail. He's shy enough that the sound of my camera shutter clicking was enough to send him diving back into the herbs, although he'd reappear a few seconds later to nibble the sunflower seeds.

Do you know what he is?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bug = Not Exactly the Shy, Retiring Type

Scene: driving home from dance class last night

Bug: Tonight Miss Laurie made me demonstrate some of the steps in front of the class.

Me: Oh?


Me (waiting):

Bug (thoughtfully): ...but I kind of loved it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

24 Hours That Nearly Broke Me

Things have been going just swimmingly with our construction. And typically, it was just when I was feeling oh-so-superior to all the poor dumb people who didn't have the brains to pick a good contractor (how else to explain the construction horror stories they tell me?) and stay on top of their project that the universe decided to unleash The Forces of Evil to teach me a lesson. (Similarly, when Bear was an infant, I pitied my friends who complained about their colicky baby, their baby who wouldn't nap, or how they couldn't eat out at restaurants anymore because of their fussy baby. Obviously, they were doing it wrong. I had just crowned myself The Best Mother Ever when the universe gave me Bug, The Most Ornery Baby Ever, and I realized that it had nothing to do with me).

But back to the construction: every deadline had been met, every minor problem gracefully handled, and huge progress was made each day. I got giddy and baked cupcakes for the workers, brought them milkshakes on hot days, and bragged annoyingly to friends about how smoothly
our project was progressing. (Kind of like strapping a lightning rod to one's head, no?) Then the electrician didn't show up one day. The plumber scared off the spray insulation guys because he didn't want it "fumey" while he was running pipe. Which delayed the drywallers, who furthermore decided that they wouldn't even bother starting until next week, pushing the
ready-for-paint date back by more than a week.

Did I mention that I decided to paint the whole shebang myself in order to save money? And that that sounded like a good idea at the time? My mother, probably alarmed that I would fume myself to death, had offered to come help me. Now she was scheduled to fly in a full week before the painting could start.

The workmen accidentally let out our clawless, indoor cat.

Bug broke a tooth at school, requiring an emergency extraction.

I drove Bear to her very first oboe lesson, only discover that she'd forgotten to bring her reed. I basically paid the oboe teacher $15 to look at my kid and ask her what she would have played if she'd had a reed.

The world was crumbling quickly around me, and I began to quietly freak out. Solutions like panic-eating a bag of Oreos or getting in bed and pulling the covers over my head presented themselves as sensible courses of action.

I pulled into the driveway from The Oboe Lesson That Wasn't, saw an unfamiliar truck parked next to the garage, and inwardly groaned. What now?

It was the drywaller. Mr. Awesome Contractor had called him and *ahem* persuaded him to get the job done by the originally-promised date. He suggested that working nights and weekends would be expected, if necessary. The drywaller apologized most courteously for the misunderstanding.

I perked up and found the wherewithal to leave the Oreos on the shelf.
Windows! Siding! Doors!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Indefinable Bugness

Some words that have been used to describe my younger daughter include enthusiastic, zany, intense and poised. There are certainly times when that skews over into the realm of outrageous, wild, or precocious. Do not let this child get over-tired is the take-home lesson from those times. Ever. Unlike (normal) kids who tend to slow down or get drowsy when tired, Bug winds right up. Always has. Tom draws parallels between a tired Bug and the revving of the Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. Just with less property destruction and more screeching.

She has her shy moments, but there tend to be few situations which leave her nonplussed.

The only way I can describe it is to say that there is an indefinable Bugness about her that lends...
a certain panache to her actions,
an intensity to her concentration,and a joie de vivre to her being.
I wouldn't have her any other way.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Difference Between Men & Women

Mr. Awesome Contractor & His Merry Men arrive EARLY each day. Usually just before 7:00 am, which on a school/work day is no big deal at all. However, rather than hang out in my pajamas while I fix the kids breakfast and pack lunches, I make sure that I am fully dressed, teeth and hair brushed, and lipstick on before the first truck rumbles into the driveway. If they tap on the front door to ask a question, as frequently happens, I have no desire to be Mrs. Snarlhead McBraless when I open that door.

Today was the first Saturday morning that they arrived to work. Knowing this in advance, I set the alarm for half an hour before they were due to arrive. Tom stumbled out of bed when the alarm went off and headed downstairs to unlock the back basement door to give the workmen access. By the time he got back upstairs, I had turned on the bedroom light and was getting dressed. He stopped dead.


"What?" I asked him.

"I was going to go back to bed," he said.

And he did. Laid right back down until the Merry Men began hammering right outside our bedroom window. At which point he casually wandered into the bathroom to shower.

Have I mentioned that our bathroom window is going to be covered up by the new addition? So they've taken out the actual window? And right now the bathroom is separated from the addition (where the workers are) by only a fluff of insulation and very thin plywood hammered over the opening? I use the bathroom very sparingly while they're here and employ a technique I like to call "The Flush-n-Run."

After his shower, Tom wandered back out of the bathroom wearing only a towel. I gaped at him.

"You know they've taken the plywood off of the doorway to the addition, right?" I asked him.

He shrugged.

"And that a workman could come walking through there at any minute?" I clarified.

"Eh," he said, unconcernedly rummaging in a cupboard.

So what's your take? Are you a "pants optional" kind of person when workmen are in your house?

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Master Plan

Sidenote: (and is it still a sidenote if it's BEFORE the actual post?) As several people have pointed out, no, the girls did not wear the winning outfits from their back-to-school online poll. Two reasons: 1. It was hotter than Hades on the first day of school, making jeans/leggings a bad choice. 2. They are ungrateful little wretches.

I've had a lot of questions about what exactly it is we're doing in this renovation, so today I'm giving you The Big Picture.

The reason behind our renovation is that our current house is wee. We bought a 1960's ranch (1150 square feet of cramped, dated ugliness) set smack in the middle of a beautiful lot. Truly we bought the stand of sugar maples, the brook, the woods out back, the huge expanse of gently rolling green lawn, and this damn ugly little ranch house happened to come with it. Purely as a bonus, the ugly little house provided us with adequate shelter from the snow.

It has one bathroom. ONE.

We finished a 500 sq. foot family room in the basement that first winter. It gave the kids a big space to play in the winter and kept the bazillions of Polly Pocket and Bratz accessories out of the upstairs living room. It helped. Just not enough. (ONE bathroom, did I mention that?).

This spring, with interest rates plummeting and one child nearing teenage years (read: requiring lots of bathroom mirror time), we finally decided the time was ripe to remodel. Here's what we're doing:

1. Building an 800 sq. foot addition (with a full basement beneath) out the back of the current house. It will have a master suite with a bathroom (MINE, MINE, ALL MINE, and occasionally Tom's, but only if he's nice to me) and walk-in closet, and two bedrooms for the kids.

2. In the current house, we will rip out the walls that separate the kids' current bedrooms from the living area, giving us one huge great room. We're also eighty-sixing the bizarre little wall with weirdo sixties posts built into it that divides the dining area from the living area because I find it personally offensive.
3. Move the basement stairs from the kitchen to the back wall of the house, giving us greater square footage in the kitchen. In the newly created kitchen space, build a pantry. Because I'm guessing, and tell me if I'm wrong here, that most people don't have to have boxes of cereal, boxes of crackers, etc. sitting all over their counters and atop the fridge.

4. Tear down the lean-to woodshed (which, frankly, houses more varmints than wood) from the back of the garage. That woodshed currently comprises the entirety of the view from Bear's new bedroom window. Not. Pretty.

5. Rip out the cheapo wall-to-wall carpet we had put in when we first moved here, and have bamboo flooring laid. (This is the part I'm probably most excited about!).

6. Buy all new furniture of my, not really. Sigh. Actually we're planning to be poor after the remodel, so we'll probably be bringing in hay bales to sit on. Or I guess we can just squat around on the new bamboo floors.

Nevertheless, we are all very excited:
(Bug showing off her new closet).

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sign That You've Hired The Best Contractor Ever

As I was walking in the door with the kids after school yesterday, I heard our contractor say to his crew, "All right, the girls just got home from school. You need to watch your language."