25 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

When we started the kitchen, we knew it would limit what we could do this year for Christmas. Then the economy started it's abysmal decline and we found ourselves not alone in planning a smaller-scale celebration. I had a few worries that the kids would question the differences this year but I shouldn't have stressed - the boys are delighted with all we've done so far and were beside themselves with excitement about opening presents. Santa brought the REAL basketball hoop the boys have been after and a Star Wars game for DS to share, too. Some new Webkinz have joined our menagerie and Chris is industriously helping assemble the new Lego kit.

Chris and I exchanged repeat gifts this year. I gave him the title to the car he got four years ago (paid off early!), a gift certificate to get it hand-detailed so it'll be like new again and a new travel mug - stainless steel so he can't break it this time. He had loose stones in my engagement ring and a pendant he gave me when we were in college reset and got me a GPS so I can stop getting lost trying to find hockey rinks. He also got me the soundtrack to Dr. Horrible and there's a hint that the DVD will be here for Christmas Round 2 with Momo & Opa later this week!

We're all camped in the living room, with STNG reruns on SciFi (we're taping A Christmas Story for later). I'm enjoying my new laptop desk from the boys, Ross is eating a pear, Chris has made popcorn, Lars is running the new DS game. Later, we'll put the basketball hoop together and have tacos for dinner. Not exactly traditional but it's what the boys wanted (we'll have our formal dinner when MoPa are here) and our plan for today is to hang out with each other. I hope all your Christmases are as merry!

12 December 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday - the first numbered year that's actually given me pause - I can't possibly be this old, can I? The feeling shook off quickly though and I enjoyed the rest of my day, including some wonderful presents.

We had the backsplash tile installed in the kitchen! It looks even better than I'd hoped it would and makes me very happy to see.

Chris got me a new pair of my favorite slippers - a perfect gift for the time of year and very much appreciated since my last pair were being held together with DigiComp tape.

Lars gave me a Brown Cow Webkinz. I'm planning to name her How Now.

Ross was going to give me his first school choral concert but he wound up staying home sick from school. I got hugs instead and a wonderful feeling of relief when his fever broke and he stopped puking.

My mom knitted a beautiful hat and scarf for me. I wore the scarf today and got several compliments!

My in-laws sent a perfect bracelet with hammered silver links and a bit of olive jade that will go very nicely with a lot of my wardrobe.

My best friend called and we got to spend an hour chatting away with minimal distractions, something we get three times a year - my birthday, her birthday, and WTHS. (WTHS. *longing sigh*)

Chris also ordered a raspberry tart from Wegmans and I enjoyed opening cards from far-flung friends and family. All in all, a very good day in spite of that pesky number, which must be wrong.

08 December 2008

Breaking In The Kitchen

Chris set up the automatic coffeemaker, so we'd have fresh coffee awaiting us for our first morning in the new kitchen. The house smelled wonderful when we woke up! I marvelled at how funny my brain was, thinking that coffee from the same pot could smell so much better in the new room, especially when the coffeemaker is much farther from the stairs than it used to be. Then, I heard the startled gasp Chris made as he hit the kitchen and I flew downstairs. It turned out that Chris had celebrated the return of the dishwasher by washing the coffeepot...and then forgot to put the pot in the coffeemaker. We had eight cups of coffee all over the counter and about two tablespoons of coffee on the floor. Only two tablespoons hit the floor! Our new counters are LEVEL, baby.

A day or two later, I accidentally tested an oven rack with my finger while stirring dinner. I have a great blister to prove that the new oven gets REALLY HOT.

Yesterday, I dropped one of a pair of small china vases while unwrapping things to restore the china cupboard. It hit the porcelain tile and converted into shards. If I hadn't wrapped it with its' mate, I might never have deduced what all those tiny pieces had once been. Boy, oh boy, there is no give to porcelain tile. Gardiner told me that and he is absolutely right. Tonight, Chris shattered a jar of sesame seeds. That new floor has been vacuumed almost more often in the first two weeks than the last floor was in four years! Maye when we drop some jelly, we'll mop.

I'd say we're doing a pretty good job with breaking in the kitchen...good thing we're also getting some great food out of it, too!

29 November 2008

Tournament Wrap-up

Seven games in two days; one amazing win, six hard-fought losses. Our kids, defeated in the first moments after the game, are joyful now - playing knee hockey in the hotel hallway with their friends. A lot of our families are staying tonight to let the kids celebrate being together and detox in the pool. The parents are already swapping stories from the games and reliving great moments, of which there were many. We'll remember having a great time at this tournament - a memory win, game scores and all.

07 November 2008

What's More, There's A Floor

And so it was that the tile guys came to lay the floor on Thursday, while I was in the City and Chris ran around with the kids, who were off school because it's November. We'd left instructions for the floor tiles to be set randomly but when I came home, I found them carefully arranged in a checkerboard - not exactly what I'd had in mind when we discussed random placement! I blinked several times and asked Chris if I was being difficult but he agreed, the tiles did, in fact, look like a checkerboard.

I immediately messaged our project manager, to ask if they could be rearranged. No, he said, by morning they will have set up; prying the tiles off the cement would probably crack them. He said there was a chance they could be pried up right away, washed and left until morning...so Chris and I went in. We managed to rearrange enough tiles to take away the checkerboard feeling without damaging any and the guys showed up to install the grout this afternoon. By Monday, we'll have a real floor! Week 8 pics in my Flickr.

05 November 2008

Kitchen Update - Week 8

Late this afternoon, we heard heavy footsteps on the back deck heralding the arrival of boxes of floor tile which will be installed tomorrow! They'll grout on Friday and it will cure over the weekend. Counters are expected Monday and everything can finish in a hurry, once the counters are installed.

We are, finally, at the edge of our tolerance for microwave and toaster oven meals. I've worked an additional take-out meal into our weeks, hoping to reach the new kitchen without snapping completely, and am trying not to count the hours until we'll have a real kitchen again.

Floor tomorrow!

01 November 2008

November: A Month of Many, Many, Posts

I've never been tempted to participate in NaBloPoMo. I write this blog for my own amusement and to give far-away family and friends a peek at our actions. While it feels as if I've always got something to blog about, there are days when I just don't feel like doing it. Since writing when I don't feel like it takes all the fun away, forcing myself to do it would probably result in uninspired posts. So, to spare you all the boredom of posts lacking inspiration, I am not participating in the month-long effort this year, either. I am, however, going to contribute to the Worst. Mama. Ever NaBloPoMo effort (I'm Thursdays). If you don't find a new post here on a day, you might click through to support Joy of Joy in Chaos and Heather at Screw Perfection who are giving it a go.

Chris and I are going to a get-to-know-you dinner with the Squirt B parents tonight. Rob agreed to come down and stay with the kids while we go, proving either that moving to NJ really was a sign of increased dementia or that he was still drunk from Vegas when I asked.

31 October 2008

Spookfest 2008

Halloween here follows a loose pattern, speckled with rituals from which none of us will deviate without a fight:

  • Momo makes the kids' costumes. They arrive a week or two before the event and there is huge celebration and a lot of trying on and wearing the outfits to practice because we all know a person just can't put on, say, a ninja outfit and suddenly BE a ninja...ninjas must be secretive and highly trained.
  • Chris and I always go up for the Halloween Parade at school. While there, we cement plans with other parents about where and when to meet up later since we know there won't be any chance of talking at the bus stop because the kids will all be psychotic.
  • Dinner is always Messy Mac & Peas (translation: frozen mac & cheese with frozen peas, both of which require minimal involvement to prepare. If we happen to eat this for dinner in March, it is still called 'Halloween Dinner'). While dinner is making, I roast pumpkin seeds to snack on. Ross is very fond of hot, crunchy, salty pumpkin seeds - he doesn't need the pumpkin carved into any shapes (although that's fun, too).
  • Lars always asks for his face to be painted but gets impatient and only has a little makeup put on. Ross always stands still longer, dictating more impressive scars be added here, better gashes there. He always starts off very smug about his better paint job but gets his comeuppance when it takes four times as long to wash the stuff off his face than it takes to clean up Lars.
  • The Dads take the kids around and the Moms hand out candy. Because our 'hood involves a lot of walking and the kids are all still pretty young, the Dads usually have a fleet of wagons (one of which is a beer cooler, atop which one kid can ride...) and the Moms often consolidate their efforts on porches here and there, to maximize social time and lessen the acreage the Dads have to cover.
  • As the hordes lessen and the children begin to drag, friends gather to wind down and share stories from the evening before heading to their own houses where candy will be admired and sorted.
These are the things we do every year, things that define Halloween here, things the kids talk about sporadically throughout the year as they dream fondly of the next October.

This year, though, we did some stuff off the plan:

  • Ross got invited to trick-or-treat with friends in a nearby neighborhood, so he cooked up a plan to go out early in our road and then have me drive him over to be with his friends. In this way, he managed to canvas two neighborhoods and now has enough candy to fuel his hockey team for a week.
  • We did not carve the pumpkin. The thought of attempting to wash the seeds without a colander in a sink that barely fits a coffee mug was just too daunting and besides, I don't have an oven to roast them in, unless I'm prepared to do tiny batches in the toaster oven (which I was apparently not). Also, it's amusing to watch the kitten try to figure the pumpkin out.
It felt a little odd not to have a jack-o-lantern out and I missed both the pumpkin seeds and Ross in the evening but everyone had a great time...and that's really what Halloween is all about.

27 October 2008

Three Things About Today

1. I won a Scribbit giveaway! Michelle Mitchell writes about motherhood in Alaska at Scribbit and often hosts giveaways. Last week's was for a set of personalized cards from karen cole PAPER, a shop with some totally adorable graphics for notecards, announcements, or invitations. It took me a few turns at browsing the site before I settled on a set of notecards with this cute, pink & green dress graphic.

2. It snowed. About two inches landed, looked pretty for a while, and then turned to slush. The weird thing is that it's been in the 40's all day - chilly but not really cold enough to snow. I popped up the local school closing advisory sites and waited for a call but the district surprised me and kept the kids all day, in spite of the snow.

3. I am historically good at growing mold. Chris was impressed early on by my vast display of colors and textures but it's been my ability to grow mold on things he didn't know would mold that has kept his attention all these years. I fondly remember the first time he saw mold on coffee...the look of horror on my own face when I found some on chocolate...and - Mom - remember the vibrant greens and blues from that bologna sandwich from my desk in third grade? This morning, we discovered I've outdone myself in this arena yet again - I grew a very pretty white mold on hard-boiled eggs. Kind of looks like snow, doesn't it?

26 October 2008

Weekend Update

Halloween news: Costumes are here! Both boys (and just about every other kid on our road) decided to be ninjas this year - a challenge Momo met with flair. Ross solemnly accepted the box from our mail carrier on Saturday, transporting it with reverence to the house where he and Lars attacked it with scissors. If I hadn't been choking between equally forceful desires to yell "STOP! YOU'LL CUT THE COSTUMES" and "WAIT! YOU'LL STAB YOUR BROTHER", I probably would have laughed. Luckily, nothing was cut, nobody was hurt, and everyone is excited about the fabulous ninja outfits.

Hockey news: Lars passed for two assists this morning! He also had a great shot on net from the point but it was stopped by the goalie. Ross shut everything down again, keeping the puck out of his net and helping his team win both games this weekend. We celebrated with dinner and ice cream out on the way home.

Kitchen news: Tile choice #3, different size tiles (bigger, we'll have them installed in a different pattern), different style (not tumbled), but still multi-colored slate. We think it will look great and we hope this place can deliver in the 7-10 days they say. We'll know for sure tomorrow, when they call to confirm. All crossed fingers appreciated!

23 October 2008


Tile place #2 called, cheerfully, to confirm our order and say they can ship for delivery in January. We will be sourcing tile place #3 tomorrow.

22 October 2008

Week 6 Overslept

When last we met, the countertops had been templated, tile had been picked, and I was revved up for the finish of the kitchen renovation project! Then, we hit some snags.

After clearing the tile choice and installation plan with our contractor Friday and then spending Saturday ferrying the kids around to hockey and friends' houses, we went to buy the tile on Sunday. Problem - the tile we'd picked on Friday was no longer available as the company had gone out of business. I suppose it's good that we hadn't placed the order on Friday but it was annoying. We did find a very close substitute, though, and got it on order right away. It's doubtful that our PO will sustain a company but hopefully this one will stay solvent long enough to ship our tiles!

On Monday, we got shocking information about the cost of changing the color of our countertops. After a bit of hyperventilating, I did some research and sent counter information to our contractor, who did some research of his own and found that my hyperventilation was well-founded. It took a day and a half but we now have a reasonable change order. Also, it seems that despite the fabricator telling me it wasn't possible, a coved backsplash CAN be done in a kitchen and I will have one.

The electrician came over today and we sorted out the cabinet lighting so, despite the sleepy start to this week, a bit of forward progress has been made. Sadly, though, nothing to take pictures of.

17 October 2008

We're Getting Close!

With the selection of these tumbled slate tiles to finish the counter backsplash and go behind the stove, we are all done choosing things for the kitchen! Everything is either here or on order; we're just waiting now for it all to be assembled and installed. I hope my patience holds out...

I've been having a hard time getting to sleep at night - I keep stopping in the kitchen on my way up to bed and, before I know it, I've spent a good half-hour planning where the dishes will go and imagining coming home from the grocery with different foods to put away or how the making dinner dance will go (pots here, spices there, food prep on this counter -ooh! a choice of counters!- etc...). I wonder how long it will take me to stop being excited about this kitchen?

15 October 2008

Counter Templates and Box Fort City

They said the cabinets would be ready for counter templates to be done on Wednesday and, sure enough, the fabricator showed up early today. The contractors got the counter-relevant appliances into the kitchen, so the template could be fitted, so I got a peek at the new stove - six glorious burners and an oven large enough to easily fit a disobedient child!

Neither the wine fridge nor the cow made any difference to how the counters will be made, so I have to be happy with my imagination for now. Lars is happy to help me imagine every time he can sneak into the kitchen. I think he will be very disappointed when the actual appliances are filling their holes! I made baked ravioli in the toaster oven today, peeking in at my new stove now and then and wondering what we'll make for our First Meal In The New Kitchen.

Also, as I cooked, I watched the neighborhood kid-gang collect in our yard. Did you know that children are magnetically attracted to cardboard boxes? The more boxes you have, the more children will come. For those of you without a mountain of new kitchen boxes, I've recently discovered that Home Depot sells cardboard cartons for not much money. You, too, can get hours of barely supervised fun for a modest sum (and without weeks of contractors tromping around or making all your meals in a toaster oven).

It's fun to see how many different pretendings can happen at once. In this shot, the little girl is adding a turret to her castle, the little boy is defending base from aliens and Lars is sitting in the penalty box. He sat his first penalty ever last weekend and I gather he was not mentally prepared...so now he's practicing in case there's a next time!

14 October 2008

A Picture of Something Other Than The Kitchen

Lest you think that we have sold the children to finance our kitchen extravaganza (something we might do if we could only figure out how to make it work...), I submit recent photographic evidence of at least one of our cherubs:

As Ross was undressing after his game on Sunday, he asked if we could bring one of his teammates home for the afternoon, since they "never get to do anything but play hockey together". We had no fixed plans for the day, so I agreed.

Four seconds after achieving the house, I found them crammed into the tiny square of space in our living room that is not filled with kitchen-related clutter, playing something other than hockey...sort of. I teased them about it a little, so they only played one contest before taking themselves downstairs to - wait for it - play passing games with our SweetHands stick handling jig.

I finally told them it was much too nice to be cooped up in the basement, so they donned costumes and ran out to play in the woods. Neither one combusted, so we know that it is possible for them to play something other than hockey together and the potential value of my eldest as a kitchen funding device is intact, in case anyone is interested in acquiring a sometimes moody nine-year-old.

13 October 2008

Week 5 Starts Strong

The painters were here early and got the ceiling and windows done, as well as getting a base and primer coat on the walls. The primer is done in the lighter Pumpkin Cream color, so we can see what it looks like and change our minds to the darker color for the finish coats, if we want.

The painters finished around lunch time and the carpenters arrived. By the time I got home with the kids at 4pm, the carps had gotten about half the cartons opened and had the resulting cabinet parts lined up. They had also gotten the pantry tower installed! There was some confusion over what to do with a few parts of the assembly but they were on the phone with the cabinet engineer and had things sorted out by the end of the day.

Rumor has it that the rest of the cabinets will be installed by the time I get home tomorrow and they'll be bringing in appliances to template for counters by Wednesday!

12 October 2008

Color Choices

The yard sale was a blast! We made about $60 (woo!) and loved the chance to spend the day hanging around outside with friends. Votes on color were amazingly even, which was a little surprising - I really expected there to be a bigger divide.

Here are the choices, pictures taken in daylight without flash. At left, Pumpkin Cream is next to the window, Buttered Yam is below. In the interests of fair comparison, at right, Buttered Yam is next to the window with Pumpkin Cream below. Alec, if you're reading this, I put the paint on paper so I could move them around! If I'd painted them right on the wall, I'd have to wonder how the colors would look in the slightly different, position based light conditions.

So, internet, which do you like better? FYI, my choice is already made and Chris agrees...but I'm still curious about your answers!

10 October 2008

Rounding Out Week 4

Week 3 ended with delivery of the new appliances, Week 4 just finished with an unexpected twist...MORE BOXES! Cabinet lighting is now in the house, making me wonder again where on earth we're going to put everyone tomorrow.

By the way? How much cabinet lighting did I get?
When I ordered LED lighting, I was thinking small and the actuality of four large boxes has me a little stunned. I'm going to have to screw up the courage to open the boxes and see what all the bulk is about. The dimming shipment earlier this week was not at all scary - see the little box, mid-frame on the left, atop the vent hood? That was it. Four dimmers and a scene station, very manageable. This fixtures business is scary.

We've also narrowed our paint choices down to two and the painter comes Monday at 8am. Swing by this weekend if you want to vote - I'll be putting big swatches up on the wall. Come Saturday and there'll also be some grilling going on...just don't expect a fancy choice of places to sit unless Bibliofilly's couch hasn't sold.

09 October 2008

Upcoming Event, or, Did You Guys Think That Through?

So, we're sitting around watching drywall dry. The guys came back to do a second coat of mud yesterday but were off today while it all cures. We're suspecting they'll sand tomorrow, then pre-paint work on Saturday and cabinet install will start Monday!

In a typically chaotic move, we're having at least six guests over on Saturday. Our entire house is filled with enormous cartons of cabinets and appliances and there will be a team here adding a nice fresh paint-smell to everything. Our driveway is filled with an enormous dumpster. The nice wicker furniture on our front porch is actually balanced atop some of the cartons of cabinetry and one or two of the appliances.

How does it happen that we've got a pile of people coming over when we can barely fit our selves into our domain these days? Well, we got the notice for our semi-annual neighborhood yard sale - always a good time - and we've only got one partially conflicting hockey game, so I signed up (half of us can go to hockey for a while). Then, I realized that I can't reach most of the stuff I'd planned to put out for the next yard sale, due to all the boxes. Fearing we would be the poopiest house on the yard sale map, I called in reinforcements. Our regular yard-sale pals just had their own town sale last week, but two other friends are getting married and combining households - they were thrilled with the prospect of a yard sale and are even starting to cart their duplicates over a day ahead. Epiphany and her clan will also be over, for moral support (a yard sale is always more fun with extras).

So, Chris and I are marinating the better part of a hen house to barbecue. I'll steam some veggies in the microwave to toss with a dressing, we've got assorted bags of chips and dips, and plenty of beer to cover what we might otherwise be lacking. I hope the weather's good because, if it's not, we're all going to be milling about in the approximately twelve square feet of floor space still available downstairs or partying in the now ridiculously large master bathroom.

Bibliofilly? Lady E? Consider yourselves warned.

06 October 2008

We Have Drywall!

Those of you tuning in for the kitchen updates may drool over drywall here. Rumor has it there may be painting on Friday. This only scares me a little, as we have not yet chosen a paint color. I suppose we should get on that...

04 October 2008

What I'm Up To

I read this list at Joy in Chaos and then at Adventures in Becoming Myself. Both posts made me feel a bit closer to faraway friends so I thought I'd put up a summary of my own.

Sitting...on my back deck with the toasty remains of a fire-bowl fire. We roasted hotdogs over it for dinner - Paige gave me the idea. Actually, she had a much better idea for caramel apples but we only had one apple and no caramel.

Smelling...the cedar burning in the fire bowl.

Listening...to crickets heralding the dusk. Also to Chris, who is cleaning the basement. He comes out now and then to get my advice on whether to toss something out or not. My answer is almost always yes.


Reading...Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

Also reading...a lot of energy codes.

Loving...feeling at home, even if it is in New Jersey.

Dreading...fall cleaning my room (what else is new?)

Eagerly anticipating...the new kitchen! And a clean basement.

Worrying...that I don't appreciate what I have enough; that I've forgotten something important.

Wishing...for indulgences: cleaning lady, lottery win, early retirement.

Praying...to keep my luxuries: true love, happiness, health, faith.

Grateful...every single day.

Sharing...my thoughts with you.

Gala Invitation

A few weeks ago, I received this autumnal card with the date of the upcoming USGBC-NY fall gala. Pretty, right? I'm invited because I sit on the USGBCNY Green Codes Task Force, Lighting & Daylighting committee.

This week, the actual gala invitation came. I noticed the envelope was heavy and no wonder - the formal invitation is printed on a copper plate! The enclosure notes, "This copper has one of the highest recycled content of any engineering metal (98%). Copper shingles will never end up in a landfill as they are 100% recyclable and hold a salvage value." Environmentally friendly and completely gorgeous. Anyone want to send me $750 so I can attend the gala?

03 October 2008


In case we didn't have enough cartons around, a few more arrived today. Appliances! Cabinet hardware! The kitchen passed building & fire inspections and is all insulated and ready to be sheetrocked on Monday. Week 3 pics here!

There's a neighborhood garage sale next weekend and I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be able to get at any of the things I'd planned to put out for it. We've signed up anyhow and have invited friends to bring their stuff over so our yard won't be empty if I still can't reach anything in playroom.

Despite her festive head cone, Kippah managed to untie one of her sutures today, so we made a quick trip to the vet to have it retied (and all the sutures glued, for good measure). Kippah is not letting the cone get in the way of much. She continues to protect me from printed documents and has even figured out how to get through the cat door (not always on the first attempt...).

We hosted our first dinner guests in our temporary kitchen - Bibliofilly and Robert came over for an informal toaster-oven meal of quesadillas and pizza. I cooked one by one, cut and served to share, appetizer style. Baking on foil, serving on paper plates and drinking beer right from cans made cleaning up a snap and a good time was had by all.

A weekend full of hockey awaits - I'm off to get some sleep.

01 October 2008

Wednesday Update

Kippah is home and doing well. She doesn't think much of the head cone she's in but it should only be on for a week or so, until her incision heals.

The kitchen work passed first electrical and plumbing inspections today, and is scheduled for a building inspection tomorrow. The plan is to be insulated by the end of the week and to start closing the walls on Monday!

It's Not All About The Kitchen

We are also focused on Keeping The House Safe From Printed Documents. We'd also shred those documents for you, if our claws weren't trimmed.

Kippah's at the vet today. We (surprisingly, that's 'we' as in 'we and also Pixie') miss her already but she'll be home later, only missing a few parts in the middle. I'll be floating prayers all day that Kippah will get through surgery ok and will have an easy recovery.

30 September 2008

The First Before & Afters

Before...note the windows and that lovely cinderblock chimney that is (and, apparently, always has been) completely useless:

After...ta-da! They'll put cedar shakes on the framing once the caulk is dry:

That chimney that went right through the master bathroom?

Gone! The master bath is now enormous, making me think probable thoughts about a larger closet someday...

In other news, the kitchen/dining room door is moved! See the progress in Week 3 photos at Flickr.

29 September 2008

Why It Was Hard To Be Away From Home Last Week

It was hard to be away from home last week!

Lars called on Tuesday, "Mama! Ross and I were wrestling and he punched me and my tooth came out!" Lars was still proud of the missing tooth and happy to have been visited by the Tooth Fairy when I got home.

On Wednesday, the new windows were installed! Chris took photos of Days 3 &4 and uploaded them for me to see but viewing them on my phone was awkward (internet in my hotel room didn't work). Based on the postage-stamp size photo not looking as I'd expected it to look, I panicked about the location of the bay window and Chris got the guys to stop working on repairing the outside until I could get home and determine if I wanted them to move it or not. Luckily, I liked it better in person than in the photo, so it doesn't have to be moved.

On Thursday, I talked Chris through answering the EC's questions at the start of rough-in. I was not in a position to spend a lot of time on the phone, so Chris translated as best he could and gave the EC a bunch of .pdf cut sheets so he could see the expected equipment and get started. I cleared up the EC's remaining questions when I got home Friday and he was able to finish rough-in.

Friday brought truckloads of cabinets our way. The cartons are EVERYWHERE! Playroom is filled to the roof, there are huge boxes on the front porch, in the dining room, and in the back hall. I honestly don't know how they're going to fit everything in the kitchen - it's not that big a room! I'm excited to see what happens next and prepared to be amazed by the magic. Chris pointed out that the cartons are no doubt oversized, so some of the bulk will go away when the packaging is removed...but still! There's a LOT of carton in the house right now.

In other news, we've determined the floor (for sure) and counter color (we think; final decision will be made once floor and cupboards are in), light fixtures and cabinet hardware are on order, and appliances will be delivered on Friday. First permit inspections are scheduled for this Thursday - once inspections are passed, they'll close the walls and the real fun will begin. Chris and I still need to determine paint color, pick a faucet, and figure out what we'll sort of fireproof treatment we'll have behind the stove. We're on a mission to figure these last details out and hire a painter (the one thing our GC doesn't do) this week.

We ran out of salt in the little salt cellar this weekend and I realized that the refill box is packed (along with 98% of the kitchen). Rather than dig through everything to find it, I just put salt on the shopping list - it's not as if it will spoil. Chris returned from the store mildly irked and without salt. His comment was, "Do you have any idea how hard it is to buy Kosher salt just before Rosh Hashanah?" Oops.

21 September 2008

Chorus: Kippah Got Out Again

On Thursday, the guys came back and the carpenters worked hard to get a level subfloor in place. They'd finished by the end of the day, so it'll be quiet here until Tuesday, when they'll return to frame out the new door & windows (windows are being delivered on Monday). Photosets are up on Flickr.

Thursday evening brought some neighbors in to see the progress so far and, as they were leaving, a woman collecting donations to fund "education and lobbyists to hold our legislators accountable for providing quality healthcare for everyone" showed up. She couldn't give me any specifics about what, exactly, they were going to teach or to whom they were going to teach this unspecified curriculum. She was also extremely rude, poking at me with her clipboard and pen and, when I glanced down at the page on the clipboard she'd thrust at me, she squatted down so she could MAKE EYE CONTACT WHILE SPEAKING TO ME. If I broke eye contact to look at her form, she'd stop speaking and dodge a little to get my eyes again. While I respected her tenacity, she was indescribably annoying - I wanted her gone and gone fast. As I was backing into the house, though, Kippah came out to the porch to see what was going on. Over-does-it-girl squealed, "Is your CAT supposed to come OUT," and Kippah fled under the porch. Fifteen minutes later, Lars and I had tracked Kippah to under the back deck, where we planned to keep an eye on her until she chose an exit point. Annoying girl? Was still standing on the front lawn. I finally told her we were going to be a while and I didn't want to waste her time - she could go. She actually asked if she could come back later! I said, thank you, no. When we finally retrieved Kippah, I took her up for a shower, which she's actually a pretty good sport about.

I enjoyed the quiet to work in on Friday, something that will be rare until the project is done. I ran out at 4pm to pick up dinner and groceries and came home to find Chris stalking Kippah in the yard. He'd been on the phone in Playroom and had suddenly seen her come strolling around the back of the house, onto the deck. ?!? After we caught her, I yelled a bit about the importance of keeping an eye out for her when entering or leaving the house and took her up for a shower, which she was still a pretty good sport about.

Saturday morning saw us all getting ready to go to a Squirt hockey game. On the way downstairs after my shower, I thought I heard Kippah crying like she was trapped somewhere. I opened the bathroom and the hall closet but she wasn't in there. I went out to playroom and there she was, OUTSIDE the door. AGAIN. As I scooped her up and whipped her into the shower with Chris, Lars discovered the kitchen window was open - must have been left open by the workmen on Thursday and we'd never thought to go in and check (the room is draped shut). Kippah was not so sporty about showering with Chris, or maybe she was just sick of showers; she bore it noisily.

Saturday afternoon, after I'd apologized for yelling at the boys about letting Kippah out, and after Kippah had learned the hard way (bang!) that the window is now closed, we went to a party for the Mites' families. About half the kids are returning vets; the others are new to the team, if not new to local hockey, and the gathering was a chance for the kids and parents to get to know each other. We all had a great time and I'm glad to know the people I'll be spending so many cold 6ams with are fun.

Sunday featured more hockey - another Squirt game, this time a win - a quick Target run, and some housework. At some point in the weekend, we thought we'd lost both Chris' AmEx and his reloading Sbux card, but both were found stowed safely (if absentmindedly) in our own pockets.

I leave for a tradeshow in the morning - I won't be back until Friday night. Chris is charged with taking pictures of the construction while he's home and I'll update when I get home...by which point I'll be much more eager than any of you to see the progress!

18 September 2008

On The First Day Of Demo...

...My true love cleaned the refrigerator. We had to take everything out of it to move it anyway, so he figured why not? That was at the start of the day. To fit the fridge parts into the basement scrub sink, Chris took the washer drain hose out during the chore. At the end of the day, he ran a load of wash which (hose is out, remember?) flooded the basement. So, we got in a little wee-hours wet-vaccing. At least we figured out the problem before calling the contractor in a panic. (Water! Everywhere! Help!) The thing is? Our GC rocks - he totally would have come over - so I'm glad we figured out we were dopes on our own. The clean fridge is now installed (loose interpretation of installed, here) in the dining room, completing our temporary kitchen setup. The enormous table I bought last year is really handy for storage underneath and lots of temporary counter space.

In an hour and forty-five minutes, the guys had deconstructed everything but the floor. Getting the floor up took most of the afternoon but the guys left the site at the end of the day with demolition complete. After they'd gone, I went down to the basement and took pictures looking up through the kitchen. Hi, Second Floor! They got the subfloor laid - LEVEL! - today. We tossed marbles on it and watched with glee as they stopped in the middle of the room, short distances from where they'd initially landed.

We've discovered a few interesting tidbits about the house. The wall between our kitchen and dining room was an outside wall - there were siding planks hiding out behind the drywall. An old door was also uncovered across the room. There are not as many unsavory discoveries as we were expecting, and the ones that are turning up (like the wall supports that aren't actually long enough to reach the header) will be fixed.

Pictures from the first two days of construction are up at Flickr.

Stay tuned...

17 September 2008

On Patience

  • Good things come to those who wait.
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • (S)he that can have patience can have what (s)he will.
  • For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven.
Say what you like, MY WAIT IS OVER. My time to break down is here! My time to build up is on the way, and there is MUCH rejoicing! Before pictures with descriptions are up at Flickr.

We've planned to wash as little as possible over the course of the renovation, since the downstairs bathroom sink is tiny - we'd have to haul anything larger than a teacup upstairs or down to be washed. So we've stocked up on recyclable dishes and will cook on foil or in recyclable bags. I was thrilled to discover they make crockpot condoms, so we can have stews and chili. Everything else will be cooked in the toaster oven or microwave. I am optimistic that we'll be able to make reasonable meals and hopeful that it won't get too frustrating before we're done. Since we packed all the glasses, Chris found champagne in cans (with straws!) to celebrate the construction kick-off. It's not our usual, but nice (in a trailer trash sort of way).

11 September 2008

Teeth? Who Needs Teeth?

Lars is not the only Mites player with "Professional Hockey Teeth" this year.

09 September 2008

Homework - A Survival Story

"Mama, I have to do this multiplication using the Traditional Method, the one that's been used for hundreds of years, like when you were in school." I regard him silently, considering whether he is cute enough, today, to live. I decide to give him the benefit of the doubt and he instantly abuses the privilege, "Did you have to do it this way because there weren't any calculators?"

"We had calculators. We were just smarter than kids are now - we didn't need to use calculators to get the answers right."

"Mama! I can do these problems without a calculator." I just smirk at him. Incensed, he whips his pencil into position and cranks out the answers. I arch an eyebrow at the completed assignment, impressed. I hope taunting will be as effective for the whole school year!

02 September 2008

Labor Day in Canada

There are no pictures of the perfect weekend we just spent at the cottage, mainly because we forgot the camera. Even if had we had remembered it, though, we might not have used it. Our days were spent languidly moving from cottage (eating, sleeping) to beach, (swimming, sailing, playing Kubb, playing catch, searching for lucky stones and looking at fossils on the point) as whim directed. Our nights were spent chatting with family and falling asleep to the sound of waves rolling on the beach. Even the long drive home did little to dampen our relaxed spirits.

Today, Ross is going to a birthday party, Lars is moping about not being allowed to play his DS, Chris is circuit-tracing in anticipation of our kitchen construction, I'm working. W
e're all a little edgy - aware that tomorrow our fall schedule will crash into life with no easing in - but I'm still riding the benefits of our weekend away and only a tiny part of me is wondering if we're ready for what tomorrow will bring.

22 August 2008

How To Distract Boys Who Are Worried Their Kitten Will Die

During tonight's shower & get ready for bed extravaganza, the toilet was filled and not flushed and our kitten, an adventurous sort, leaped up to investigate. She slipped on some drips on the seat, though, and fell in. SPLASH! She immediately leaped out and began to lick her leg. EEEEEWWW! KIPPAH'S DRINKING PEE-PEE!

Chris, being of sound (if angry & frustrated) mind, picked the dripping kitten up and deposited her in our shower, where she could be enclosed for a nice wash. The children finally got their wits about them and fled to their beds, tearful that the kitten might be about to die. SHE DRANK PEE.

I washed the kitten. Then, as Chris hadn't been successful at calming the boys, I went in...with this:

"Drinking pee-pee is gross. It is disgusting and you should NOT do it, BUT...it will not kill you. In fact, if you are stranded on a sailboat on the ocean, you should drink your own pee-pee, you should not drink the salty ocean. If you are stranded in a sailboat on Lake Erie, though, drink Lake Erie - it's marginally better than your own pee. IF YOU ARE NOT STRANDED ON THE OCEAN IN A SAILBOAT, do not drink your own pee. Even though it won't kill you."

Lars tried to interject with a question, but I cut him off, "NO QUESTIONS. GO TO SLEEP."

Both boys seem to have forgotten their worry that the kitten might die.

cross posted at Worst.Mama.Ever.

20 August 2008

No Longer On His Menu: Corn on Cob, Whole Apples, Candy Dots

7:10am - Ross climbed out of bed and farted and Lars hollered, "My tooth came out!"

Ahhh...morning boys.

19 August 2008

Mastering My Inner Squirrel

As summer wanes, I usually begin to stock up the pantry. Despite the fact that snow here barely lasts long enough to get hungry, I'm not comfortable facing winter without at least a few days' worth of food in long-term storage. I expect I'll retire to Florida with kitty litter and a blanket in my trunk, too - old habits are hard to break.

This year, though, I'm mastering my need to stockpile. In spite of the calendar, we are eating down the pantry and emptying the freezer. Why? Because in just a few weeks, we will be living without a kitchen and my desire not to move or throw out a lot of food is stronger than my need to horde for winter.

Last week, I pulled a sirloin roast out of the freezer. It was too big to make just for us, so we called in Bibliofilly & Robert for help. They gamely arrived on Friday in time to help us finish off a couple of cheeses before the meal. In a gracious gesture, the meat thermometer volunteered not to be moved. The roast was still delicious.

18 August 2008

Die Siedler von Catan

Our family souvenier from Germany is a board game, Die Siedler von Catan. It's a game of strategy and luck, you collect resources to expand your settlements to a certain size before your opponents can expand theirs. The board changes shape every time you play and resources are collected based on die rolls. A band of robbers move about the board whenever a seven is rolled, depriving you of resources from a particular piece of land and also stealing some resources from your existing hand. Extra points can be earned from things like having the longest road, the largest army or plain luck - you can trade three resources for a development card that might have a library or marketplace worth a point. Lars is especially fond of the game. As soon as he gets over his love of the longest road (he builds ALL his roads before anything else), he will win the game. Until then, I win all the time. I can trail the entire game - by enough points to get depressed about - and then, suddenly grab four points at once and surpass everyone at the end. I like to think it's due to my superior intelligence and ironclad strategy but a lot of it is luck. Either way, it DRIVES CHRIS NUTS. He doesn't mind losing sometimes but losing ALL the time, especially when he's feeling confident of a win right up until the moment of the loss, really gets to him. I'm coaching Lars in head-to-head games a couple of times per week with the hope that he'll be able to share the winning sometime soon!

16 August 2008

Germany, Part 1

A month ago, I was lounging (as much as one can lounge while on vacation with kids) in Germany, surrounded by family, friends, amazing sites and great food. Thanks to the digital age, processing our copious pictures did not break our budget - instead, they just take time to sort and process into sizes I can share. I'm about half done, so here's the first batch of highlights from our trip.

We visited Ronneburg as our first outing - a fabulous castle that has been carefully kept. Other castles I've been to can be described as picturesque ruins, this one seems as if it's just waiting for you to pull up with a moving truck. Unlike historical sites in the States, Ronneburg is a self-guided tour, with very few places cordoned off so you can take your time and let your imagination run as you wander freely. Don't miss the "Guide Peacock" (he's inside) in the pictures, he was Lars' favorite part. A bucket is provided at the castle well, so you can drop a little water down to hear how deep the well is. Ross took a video; so did I.

B├╝dingen is the town at the foot of the castle. We enjoyed wandering around a bit, had some ice cream and played on a Spielplatz (playground) - the first of MANY we visited along the trip. Pictures here...

Near Katja & Tommy's home is Edelbrennerei Dirker, maker of fine schnaps in every flavor (except maple, which we've decided might be a good idea). Their Apfel Strudel schnaps is just heavenly - I'm content to just sniff it but it tastes good, too.

Wuppertal has a hanging train! We stopped for an amazing ride on our way from Frankfurt to Dortmund. We also had lunch and a stop in Starbucks (our only for the trip) for a blast of caffeine and warmth. Picures here; video here.

Seligenstadt featured my favorite sign of the trip, at the road to the ferry across the Main. There's also a beautiful Benedictine Abbey, which was founded in 830. More pictures here. We had ice cream while waiting for the return ferry - another theme of the trip.

04 August 2008

Vertical Naps

Bethany sent some lovely compliments about my blog recently, mentioning that one of the things she likes is the occasional cute kitten picture. Since I'm still working on the Germany pictures, here are a couple of cute kitten shot to tide you over - Kippah folds herself vertically to nap:

I am working as fast as I can on the Germany pictures both because I want to share them AND because I will be able to blog about our kitchen renovation very soon...we go to contract tomorrow!

Finally, today is the one-year anniversary of breaking my leg. I'm happy to report all my bones are back together and no, I'm not planning to break anything in memory of last year's experience.


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