Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Questions I Have Asked Myself This Week

  • Do we have to come back from vacation?  Really?  Are you sure?  
  • Did it really not bother the previous owners to have green mold growing inside their bathtub knobs?  Because it really bothers me, and I haven't even used that tub yet. 
  • Should "brass" be a valid color in home decor?  It really just seems like an affront to good taste. 
  • $40 for a curtain rod?  It's a metal tube... Really?
  • The flooring has to "rest" for 48 hours?  Is it exhausted from laying in that box?  Does it need a blankie and a glass of warm milk, too? No?  Would someone bring me some?
  • Why did no one tell me about the Stieg Larsson books?  (and where exactly is the local library?)
  • It's only Wednesday?
  • 95 on Friday?
  • Did you see that?  They have a scarecrow on the porch and an autumn leaf garland on their stair rail.  IT'S AUGUST, people!
  • That's how much?  Is that in dollars? Are you sure?
  • Can you eat too much ice cream in a week? (the answer is clearly no) 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making A House, A Home

It's the beginning of day 4 of  "Operation Indoor Campout".  That's what I've had to call it to get the kids to stop whining about sleeping on a camp pad upstairs while Mama sleeps in splendiferous comfort on the really, really cold blow-up mattress (see kids, we are all making sacrifices). While I think they have enjoyed having no furniture to play around (it's so much easier to run laps when you're unimpeded by minor things like a sofa or a dining room table), I personally am looking forward to NEW CARPET today, and the delivery of our STUFF tomorrow.  

After 3 days of confinement, complete with hours of unsupervised playtime/ movie watching/ snack/ dressing up Big J in a sundress, the kids were overjoyed to get outside and meet some neighbor kids last night.  The boys next door & across the street are both 3, and I foresee hours of backyard playtime this Fall (cue the Hallelujah chorus and open the heavens).  Big Sis got to run down the cul de sac & back, over & over & over, and then boldly led the pack into the neighbor's yard where they proceeded to circle the willow tree over & over & over. See kids, no toys necessary.  Just grab a friend & start exploring.  They capped off the night by hunting fire flies & getting a little freaked out by the bats which were wheeling and swooping overhead.  The weather was so nice and cool, and not humid, and I opened all the windows, and even emerged from my paint-induced haze to visit with the neighborhood Moms and practice my rusty social skills.  If my stilted sentence structure and primer coated t shirt didn't put them off too badly, then we may have a chance to be buddies.

I've spent my days cleaning, spackling, sanding, cleaning, priming, painting, cleaning.  3 days seems like an enormously long time to finish a bedroom, closet, and hallway, but I had to put a 2nd coat on the bedroom, and then tape it all off so I could take the trim from brown to white (and PS on that one - next time I decide it is a good idea to bring a house into the 21st century and paint all the trim white, just tell me to perform my own root canal instead because it will be more fun & less time-consuming).  The trim alone on those three rooms took me 3 hours to paint, and I didn't even finish the doorways completely because I would have had to remove the doors & hardware, and while I CAN do it, I decided not to, because knowing me, I would have made some critical error that would make it nigh-unto-impossible to hang them properly again, so I just didn't. I didn't, and so now the trim is mostly white except in the doorways, and of course the doors themselves, so while I am enormously proud of how much I've gotten done, it all looks sort of wonky and nowhere near finished. But I love it anyway, and I am excited to get those doors off and make it white and hang some curtains, and maybe change out the glass covers on the ceiling fan, and paint the fan blades white, too......

But carpet!  As I type this, I am waiting for the carpet guy to come with my new glorious carpet.  I cannot wait to have stairs that aren't a tetanus risk and a hallway that doesn't sound like a herd of elephants are descending when the kids stumble out of bed.  Bring it on, carpet guy.  You have 20 minutes until we are at the maximum end of your 8-9am arrival & I start to get irritated because you are delaying my carpet joy.

The bottom line is that it has been 3 days of really hard work, and neglecting my children, and feeling rather frustrated and lonely, and getting really, really anxious to get settled.  But it's been an amazing 3 days because despite the lingering odor of cat, and the sub-par laminate counter tops, and the double coat of primer I had to use to cover up the black stripe in the guest room, I love this house.  Love it.  It feels like home.  I can't wait to keep working on it, and "Make it a home for us".  That's what has kept me painting until midnight each night, and makes it easier to scrub when I keep finding more dirt.  I am making this house a Home, and it absolutely feels like this is what I am supposed to be doing right now.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Return to Childhood

My Mom gifted Big Sis with a set of Little House on the Prairie books for Christmas last year.  She has yet to dive into them (despite my enthusiasm), but I've started re-reading them in the last few weeks**.

As a girl, I loved these books.  I pictured myself living on the prairie, playing in the stream, churning butter with Ma.  My own Ma even made me a pioneer dress complete with floppy bonnet (a portent of things to come?), and I remember staring at the fabric, wondering if Laura ever saw big bolts of white eyelet in the wonderous General Store. 

Reading these as an adult has given me a new respect for both the writing and the story-telling. I can still clearly picture the Big Woods of Wisconsin, with the snow falling silently as the girls peek out the real glass windows.  I can see the swaying grass atop mile after mile of Kansas prairie. Jack the bulldog, and older sister Mary are always there, too.  

The books have also given me a renewed appreciation for the comforts of my life.  Tales of cheese-making, hog butchering, and long summers with no fresh meat make my own dreaded trips to the grocery a little more bearable.  

More than anything, I was astonished at how long Laura lived, and the things she must have seen in that lifetime!  Born in 1867 in a log cabin, she died in 1957 in her own 10-room house in Missouri.  She crossed the prairie in a covered wagon, and lived to see the invention of radio, motion pictures, automobiles, electric light, the telephone, air travel, and television. 

I can't wait to read the whole series again, and to encourage Big Sis to start reading them, too.  I might even break out my Little House Cookbook and try a few recipes to get her in the mood.  

**Her opinion is that they are "a little too Pioneer-y".  When she was informed that "Pioneer-y" is a part of her heritage, and that she had ancestors who walked across most of the United States, she was much more intrigued.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Excuse Me

We interrupt this move to bring you the following Deep Thought of the Day:

You know that point you get to when you're moving - when you look around you and simultaneously think: "This will never end.  It will seriously NEVER END." and "Would I really miss any of this stuff if it spontaneously combusted?"?

Yep, that's where I'm at right now.

PS - my kids are riding both ends of the behavioral spectrum.  Big Sis has been great, wanting to help out whenever she can.  Big J is on day 5 of having a preschooler-sized nervous breakdown complete with backtalk, meltdowns, and refusal to eat or listen or obey or sleep.  Good times.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Let's Talk About Hair

My eternal quest is to find THE PRODUCT that will make my hair beautiful.  The near-constant high humidity coupled with hair that is sometimes wavy, stick straight in spots, and usually surrounded by a halo of frizz, all equal a daily tonsorial challenge.  I am always, always on the lookout for a product that will tame the frizz, create soft waves, and generally give me the crowning glory I so desperately seek.

Most recently, this quest led me to John Freida's Dream Curls Spray.  I read about it in a beauty magazine (possibly Allure, I don't remember), and was intrigued.

After my experience with the foam hair color, I was a little reluctant to give ol' JF another go.  Honestly, it was the price point that swayed me.  At $5.39, it was worth a shot.  

The spray was easy to apply to my just washed hair, and reminds me of a leave-in conditioner.  The formula is alcohol-free and certainly left my locks softer.  They were also more smooth and the next morning my corona of frizz was much subdued.  In fact, I had actual waves adorning my hair.   

Verdict: Worth the $5.39.  Performs like a much more expensive product.  Will go into my regular rotation of hair care products.  

Where to Buy: Target, Walmart, Walgreens.     

Monday, August 1, 2011

Back From the Longest, Fastest Weekend

We rolled into our weed-filled driveway at 10:30 last night.  After a slow start to the weekend, this was a quietly emotional return.

I stared at the green front door, and willed myself to exit the car.  I didn't want to go into the hot, smelly house.  Entering meant that we had to return to our Michigan life, even if it was just for a few more days.  I will miss the friends, but not the place.  No, not the place.  Time in our new house solidified my belief that your home is not only your physical castle but much of your mental castle, too.  If you dislike what's around you, it casts a pall over everything else about your life.  Putrid house, I will not miss you at all.

I crawled into my bed and reflected on this and more.  This was a trying weekend.  Emotional.  Physical.  But as with so many things that require fortitude, we emerged better than we entered.

On Friday we took possession of our new castle, and immediately went to work cleaning and tearing out old carpet.  It was shocking to see the rooms uncluttered and full of potential.  We noted new problems and reviewed our plan of attack.  We cut and bundled the disgusting old carpet, and hauled it to the garage.  We swept, vacuumed, scrubbed, washed walls.  What was frustrating was that it was ALL filthy.  Not dirty.  FILTHY.  Husband, who is mostly immune to dust & dirt, was even disgusted when he got a look at the black dirt ground into the window sills. After scrubbing spills from the insides of drawers, wiping cat hair from the freezer, and sucking up years of dust from forgotten corners, this epic scrub-down may have put me off all furry pets for many years to come.  And given me a true appreciation for liquid Lysol, cleaning wipes, and my Dyson.

Even in the midst of hours of mindless scrubbing (is it really mindless if you're constantly wondering how on earth it didn't bother them?) I felt content.  This house really feels "right" for us.  Sure, it's bigger than we need - we don't even have enough furniture to fill it up - but the layout is great, the bedrooms are spacious, and the work that needs to be done is manageable.

The transformation began with ripping out the bedroom/hallway carpet. Despite the muck we unearthed, the splintery sub-floor was still better than torn, stained carpet. The painting began, and although our backs suffered, we managed to do everything we set out to do.  It already feels fresh, clean, and more OURS.  Paint truly has transformative powers.

Here is just a tiny peek of what we did.  I will post more pictures when each room is fully done.  We plan to paint every room, paint the trim white, and replace all the almond outlet/switches with white.

Master bedroom, before. 

Master bedroom, halfway through.  
Paint color is "Yachtsman" by Allen + Roth for Lowe's.
It looks very light blue in this picture, but it's actually blue, with greyish-greenish undertones.