Friday, January 29, 2010

Security System

When we were getting ready to close on this house, I called one of the utility companies (I don't remember - gas? electric? phone?) to set up service. I couldn't just transfer service from our old house to our new one because there was a period of about three weeks when we didn't need service. In other words, we had sold and moved out of the old one, but not yet into the new one. We camped out at my mother-in-law's for that period of time, and it was crazy to start heating a house that we didn't own yet. (And weren't totally sure we were going to. It was pretty stressful.)

Anyway, so I called the gas company (my brain works! I remember now!), and they offered, as a free service, to go ahead and get our other utilities set up for us. I remember feeling skeptical, but I agreed. Then they pitched all these other products and services that I didn't want. Like cable. No, I don't want cable. I understand it's cheap, but no, I don't want it. Yes, I understand that a security system discourages crime, but no, I don't want it. No, I do not want to be transferred to a security company to talk about a security system. No, I'm not interested. No, thank you. Okay, yes, they can call me at a later date. No, I need to go. Thank you. Bye.

And then I forgot about it. Until the calls started coming from this security company. I took a couple of the calls, in which I assured them that I was not interested, but I guess they didn't believe me. Then, because we now have caller ID (shh, don't tell!), I just stopped answering the phone. And it was so annoying. They would call a couple times a day for a long time, like maybe a month or so? Good grief.

Ok. Moving on. So, people sometimes speed on our street. (Not me!) And we live between two curves, so policemen can be kind of sneaky and catch people in our stretch of the street. Lately, I've noticed that probably 3-4 days a week, there's a police car that spends a lot of time parked in front of my house. He sits there, then zooms off (I assume, to catch a speeding car), then comes back. I like having him out there, and when I've been baking, I contemplate, should I run out there and offer him a muffin, or some homemade bread, or a cookie? I haven't done it yet, and finally ran the idea by Bob. He voted against it, reasoning that some psychos would probably try to poison a cop by doing something like that, so the guy might think it was fishy. I confess, I'd thought of that, and didn't want to weird him out. Bummer.

But Mr. Policeman, if you're reading this, please know that I appreciate your presence. And I like to think that you counterbalance my choice to not install a security system in my home.

Well, that and my dog. I think she helps, too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keepin' it Real

The kids and I made a Home Depot run this morning. I may or may not have gone, unshowered, wearing a Matanzas 5k shirt from 1998.

I spend a good bit of my time feeding children. Specifically, my baby. So when I saw this drawing (by Caroline), I thought it was of me. In other words, I thought the head was a bit above the torso. Bob thinks that the big circle is a head, and the smaller ones, eyes. Oops.

I still think I should ask Caroline.

In other news, it's 9:41pm, I've fed him a million times already today, so go to sleep already, Will. I mean, come on. You could not possibly be hungry. Please don't be hungry.


Update: (10:23pm) He was hungry. Of course.

How to Make Your Child Poop.

Tell her it's time for bed.

I guarantee that she will immediately announce that she needs to go to the bathroom.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


You know you are a parent of young children when your idea of luxury includes:

a hot bath or shower every day
a trip to the grocery store by yourself
being awakened by an alarm clock, rather than a child
eating dinner late at night, so as to have a quiet meal with just your spouse
doing laundry and putting it away with no interruptions

I could go on, but the more I think of, the more pathetic it all sounds.

Let's just say that today, I'm suffering from the memory from my life as it used to be:

I used to run errands when I wanted to!
I used to go to work everyday.
When I wanted to go out with my husband, I didn't have to find a babysitter first.

To clarify, I'm very satisfied (happy, even!) with my life. But there are days when being a "homemaker" or "stay-at-home mom" seems like a thankless, endless job.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kitchen Progress

I'm not sure it's fair to call this "progress." It seems misleading.

Bob was out of town today, at a meeting in Chicago. He left early, and he'll get home late. So I took the opportunity to start destroying (I mean improving!) our kitchen.

Here's my arsenal.

We have this horrible (HORRIBLE) fake tile that is glued & nailed to the wall, and it goes up six feet from the floor. Have I mentioned that it's horrible?

Well, it's gone. And now I have to repair the damage.

This is mid-way through. You can see 1) the glue I still needed to scrape off. 2) The fake tile on the right. 3) The real tile backsplash and countertop that I despise. I hate the stuff. Hate it. 4) The peach-painted fake-stucco that was applied to mask the poorly installed drywall that doesn't quite sit flush with the drywall it's next to. They applied this stucco to much of the room. It scrapes easily off of drywall, but not so easily off plaster.

Here's how it looks now. I've scraped all the fake stucco that I can get off, and the next step, Bob tells me (when I confessed over the phone what I've been up to today) is to use a drywall screen on the rest of it.

Now, the challenge will be to follow through and finish the project. I like the big-results tasks, like pulling something down. The scraping, patching, priming, etc., are not so fun for me.

Do you think Bob will just swoop in and finish it for me? Probably not.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Random Friday

I'm tired today (Bob had to go in to work at 3-something this morning, and then came back at 4-something; plus, Will had me up twice, and Lucy once). So I'm not really capable of a cohesive post today.

Here's my reading list right now. Two knitting books, a couple by Frank Schaeffer, a cookbook, and two books on home decorating.

Here are the icicles hanging off my neighbor's house (taken a few days ago) -- making me feel satisfied that the money we spent on new gutters last year was worth it. No icicles here.

Can you tell he's the third child? As Bob put it, you would never have put Caroline, or even Lucy, down on the floor, without a blanket or something! Hey, I've loosened up. I think.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Let's say you have a three-and-a-half-year-old. Let's say she is sweet-natured, brimming with compassion, and pretty darn smart. And you love her dearly.

And then, let's say, you say something flippantly that causes her anguish ... and you to kick yourself repeatedly, apologize, ask for forgiveness, etc., and still feel awful about.

Caroline is toilet-trained. (Sorry, I hate the word potty.) She does not have accidents. She wears a diaper to bed at night, but we've stopped with the naptime diapers. She usually is awake long enough before she falls asleep that she asks me if she can go to the bathroom, and I always say yes.

Until today.

Today, I was feeling irritable because of the MESS these kids make. Why can't they ever put anything away? And why won't they keep their clothes on? I'm tired of saying, "Where are your clothes??" Anyway, I put the girls down for their naps, and then I was tackling a couple tasks (disassembling a piece of furniture in the kitchen, updating our tax return online with the tax statement I received today, checking Facebook, etc.) downstairs. Caroline asked to go to the bathroom. Twice. She went. Twice. The third (or maybe fourth? I don't remember--) time, she called down from upstairs, "May I go to the bathroom?" I yelled back, "No, you may not go to the bathroom again!" This is all in the space of about ten or fifteen minutes.

Five minutes later, I heard her upstairs wailing, and I knew something was terribly wrong. I raced up there and found her, peeing, in my bedroom. The white noise machine was near her on the floor, and I wasn't sure exactly what had happened. Was she hurt? Had she gotten shocked? I raced her into the bathroom, sat her on the toilet, and calmed her down. She concocted a story about where she was hurt, but when I pressed her, she admitted she was crying because she'd peed in her underwear.

Oh my goodness. Dagger to my heart.

I almost lost it.

I apologized profusely and told her it was my fault. That I was not angry with her. That I should not have told her no. Etc., etc. Then I cleaned up the bedroom and got her some clean clothes.

I thought I'd better talk with her again about what had happened, so I reiterated that this was MY fault and I was not angry. And would she please forgive me? She said yes. And then she said, "Momma, what's 'forgive'?"

I thought hard. How do you define it? So, I told her, it's like this:

I say, Caroline, I am so sorry. I should not have told you you couldn't go to the bathroom.
And then you say, Momma, it's okay. I love you.

That's what it means to forgive.

To which she replied, "Momma, it's okay. I love you."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life with a Baby

Will is at a fun age: very smiley, very interactive, just generally happy ...

except for tonight. Tonight, he's needy, fussy, cry-y, and it isn't much fun.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our First House

You know the term "starter house"? Well, this was ours.

We had hoped to find a house in that neighborhood, and one day, I casually mentioned to Bob that I'd seen a house for sale there. But it was too small. But maybe we should look at it? We scheduled an appointment, went through it, liked it, but quickly pronounced it too small.

A month or two later, we resumed the house hunt and looked at a bunch of houses. Bigger houses, cheaper houses, different neighborhoods, the other side of the river, etc. We discovered that the little tiny house was the one we liked best. We thought it was crazy but decided to go through it one more time. And fell in love.

Here's what I'm learning about myself: when it comes to houses, I look for a couple of things. First, it has to be old enough, but not too old. The range I like is about 1910-1935. Second, I have to like the windows. Preferably, they're the original windows. And, of course, they have to let in lots of light.

Third, I see a pattern in my need for at least one old, established tree somewhere. Gotta have a tree. And yes, there's a section of the fence missing. What of it? [It was the neighbor's fence. And behind their garage. So they didn't really care.]

Fourth, it needs to have some fun/beautiful original details. In our first house, this was the butler's pantry. It wasn't a full room, just a sweet little pass-through. It looks like it could use a good clean-up. Pretty smudgy. Oops.

If the house has these things, I'm willing to overlook others ... like a "master bedroom" that's 9x11, with no closet. And a kitchen that was nicely (very nicely) remodeled, but not in my taste-- and too dark. There was only one window in the kitchen, and it didn't let in much natural light. And the fact that the house was 968 square feet (plus an unheated back porch and a basement). This house, the house we're in now, is bigger than that on each floor. I think each floor here is 1100-something, and we have a full basement, first floor, second floor, and full attic. This place feels like a palace sometimes.

We loved our little house so much! But... we had a Great Dane, two cats, a baby, then another baby on the way. It was time.

I drive by from time to time. The people who bought it are taking good care of it, and that makes me happy.

Bob put so much work into the garden out front, and that's gone, so he's pretty sad about it. But I see it as a chance to create something wonderful here. Our front yard is a blank slate. It could be beautiful! He could probably recreate what we had...

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I confess, given the name of my blog, this post title makes me laugh. Not LOL, mind you, but an in-my-head chuckle.

Lately, I've been nesting. Pretty hard-core, get the house in shape, nesting. And I'm not pregnant. I think it's just that we've been living in "transition" since the fall of 2007, when we bought the first of two big old houses in need of work. The first one had been seriously neglected, and we undertook to fix or replace (mostly replace) the systems of the house (heating, cooling, electrical, etc.). We realized, though, that the scope of it was beyond us ... and by that, I mean WAY beyond us. So we sold it and bought another big house that needed work. This one hadn't been "let go" like the last one, but I would say it had been "lived hard in", if that makes sense. Some of the woodwork is beat up, there were broken windows, no hot water knob in the bathtub, a tile missing in the bath/shower, a hole in the kitchen floor that had been awkwardly (and not permanently) patched, a patchwork kitchen, etc. However, it was a lot cheaper (a LOT), and, despite all the work it needed, more move-in-ready than the last one.

And we like it so much better. Seriously. We love this place.

For just over two years, we've been working on our houses, thinking we'd wait to "decorate" until things were a little more settled. It seems clear, now, that we're not going to have all projects done, or feel settled, for a long time. So now I'm trying to make it as cozy and homey as I can, with what we have, or with what I can acquire cheaply. Or both.

My first goal in Project Coziness is the foyer (or "reception hall" as it's called on the blueprints). Right now, there's an Oriental runner in there that's totally wrong for the space. (It's 30"x81" in a 12'x12' room.) There are two tables, one awkwardly displaced by Christmas tree #2, which really should come down tomorrow, and the other awkwardly displaced by Christmas tree #1, which should, well, really come down tomorrow. And there's a weird light fixture that we don't like and don't think is original to the house and think should be replaced. (And I'm the queen of run-ons tonight.)

Project Coziness: Foyer
I'd like to include-
  • a soft rug (not sisal, preferably wool) that is more appropriately sized for the space

Maybe a traditional Arts & Crafts-y one like the one at left, maybe not.

  • a chandelier, either appropriate for a 1910-ish Arts and Crafts style four-square, or something funky/modern
  • a pulpit. Weird, I know, but I'm married to a former pastor, and the daughter of an Anglican priest. Some friends of ours have a beautiful old oak pulpit that they no longer have room for, and they offered it to us. I have visions of standing in it and preaching to my husband.
  • A chair, or maybe just a place to sit while taking off shoes?
I'd like to do this for under $300. I'm thinking that should be pretty hard to do. A rug alone would cost more than that, so I'll have to be creative/hit up Goodwill/surf Craigslist/check garage sales. I'm open to suggestions.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who am I kidding?

I've decided that I should stop pretending to be what I'm not. Or, conversely, pretending not to be what I am.

And what am I? I'm a blanket hog. I'm coming to terms with this; I have stopped denying it when Bob tells me I'm hogging the blankets. And, in an effort to embrace who I really am, I've started making the bed lopsided. I let the sheets and blankets hang down further on my side than on his. They'll end up that way anyway, right?

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolution

I hereby resolve to post on my blog more frequently than every three months. Happy 2010!

In other news, we celebrated our first Christmas in our current house (we had moved in by Christmas 2008, but we spent the actual day in TN with my parents), and it was great fun. I got up at the crack of dawn ... well, actually, before the crack of dawn, to make cinnamon rolls, and Bob got up when they were almost done baking so that he could build a fire in the fireplace.

We had two Christmas trees this year, about ten feet away from each other. A little silly, maybe, but tree #2 was on clearance, and I really wanted one of the trees to be visible from the street. I love white Christmas lights, and I enjoyed making the house look festive: icicle lights on the front porch, wreaths with red bows & white lights on the dormer windows of the attic, and two Christmas trees. (Note to self: try to take a good picture of the house in the evening when it's all lit up.) (Yes, the house is still fully decorated for Christmas. As fun as decorating is, un-decorating is not so much.)

House progress? Well, when we moved in, just over a year ago, three of the four windows on the landing of the stairs were broken. And now ... they have new glass, and Bob installed them this past weekend. Hallelujah! Who lives with broken windows for a year? Well, apparently we do.

We also, apparently, are the sort of people who live with holes in the wall, and gaping holes in the ceilings. And a bedroom door that's missing the panel right at eye level. It's funny -- these defects are glaringly obvious, yet when you live with them for a while (like, a year), you start to forget they're there. Until people come over, and then you start hitting yourself in the head and thinking, good grief, why haven't we dealt with these things yet? Oh yes ... because these things cost money. While there seems to be no limit to my imagination of things we could do to our home, there are distinct limits to what we can pay to do to our home, at least for now.

I feel obligated to post these embarrassing pictures of my home, since I received some really nice comments about how the house looks on Facebook. Here's the way it really looks.