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.


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