29 November, 2009

Weekend Shenanigans

We had a little setback this weekend. Greg's car quit working at some point on Thursday - Thanksgiving, of all days! He went to the store in the morning, and we used my car to go to the movies... so it came as a total surprise when he tried to go to work on Friday and the car wouldn't start. So instead of working on the remodel project on Saturday, he spent the day (with help from Todd - thanks, Todd!) working on the car. And then he spent Sunday morning getting the car towed to the dealership (thanks, Aaron & James!). I'll be taking him to work for the next few days, and he'll be at the mercy of co-workers or friends for a ride home in the afternoons (or buses or cabs).

The good news is that it should be fixable. The bad news is that this is unplanned time and money spent on the car instead of the house. Ah, well. It's not like we were thinking it'd be done this weekend anyway.

The goal for this weekend: finish moving the power to its new location, move the floor vent for the kitchen, and redirect the downstairs bathroom vent (the black PVC tube that's sticking up through what is now almost the middle of the living room). Because of the whole car-thing, they (Greg & James - thanks again, James!!) didn't get as much done as Greg had initially planned. Two more "powers" to move - one is actually a light switch, and the other a plug; and moving the vent to the downstairs bathroom.

But there's been progress. And we're a little closer to being able to frame in the new walls. I am definitely looking forward to having the new walls in place - at least so we can temporarily move the counters back into the kitchen... Stay tuned for the details of our progress for next weekend! =)

26 November, 2009

Giving Thanks

It was a low-key day for us today. Didn't go visiting, didn't have company. I slept in. Greg did all the cooking - pies last night, breakfast, and later the stuffing filled turkey breast with some traditional sides. We watched some of the Macy's day parade, played Wii RockBand, and went to see a movie. I feel a little recharged - glad there's only Friday (should be a busy, but easy day) then the weekend. Next week is going to be a crazy one, so I'm glad I will have had some time to rest and get ready.

In the spirit of the day, I assigned myself a task to detail 5 things I'm thankful for and why. Here goes:

1. Greg. He brought me flowers yesterday, and did all the cooking today. Such simple things mean the world to me right now. They should mean the same always, but that's just not my reality. Right now, I'm stressed and prone to over-reaction. He's taking it in stride and above that, doing what he can to help me detox and be ready for more - which I need, more than I can say. He's a big support, and he does a pretty fine job of putting me back together when I fall apart. He believes I can do so much more than I believe I can, so sometimes I borrow some of that mojo and find out that I can do more than I thought. He's enthusiastic about life in general and new adventures in particular (my polar opposite, in that regard).
2. Family. The only thing that could have induced me to be social today would have been having any of my siblings around, particularly my sisters. I did get to talk to some of my family - it's hard to talk to everyone when that entails 4-6 different phone calls - and I thought of each of them. Sheri cooked, and Sara & Jeannea joined her; Dave & Mom spent the day together; Aaron, Mari, & baby Amy were together; I hope M was able to spend some time with family. It's comforting to think of them, even though it seems as if we're worlds (and small fortunes) apart.

3. Friends. Although I haven't been doing much in the way of visiting lately, I am thankful for the friends I have. They're smart, funny, caring people - each of them different by turn - and my life is better for having known them. They make me laugh; they give me strength; they listen to me vent; they offer advice but don't loathe me if I don't take it; they help me navigate the insanities of being alive.

4. Job. I do have a decent job. I've got medical benefits, some retirement, and it's relatively secure. Sure, it's super-stressful right now, and this next few weeks I may only get to see my husband as he's getting ready for work in the morning, or in the dark as he yelps when I put my iceblock feet against his hotter-than-the-furnaces-in-Hell legs. (I honestly don't know how he can use the same blankets as me and end up practically melting everything that directly touches him, and yet I can lay for hours waiting for the electric blanket - on the highest setting, and only on *my* side of the bed, since I don't want him to spontaneously burst into flames - to thaw through the invisible ice that's apparently crusted 'round my various extremities.) But I don't have to worry about how we're going to pay the bills and finding a new job in this tough economy. I'm grateful for the job I have right now.

5. Cheese (and bacon). I haven't had a cheese that I don't like yet. And we've tried lots of different varieties. Now, it's true that I'm not as fond of the cheeses with fruit in them (like that one with blueberries we had a while ago), but it was still good. I really like the one we had today - some form of white cheddar with crushed black pepper marbled throughout. Cheese on pizza, bleu cheese dressing, microwave nachos after a long day at work... Mmmm, cheese... and we all know that bacon makes everything better, so how could I leave that out?!?

I hope your day was filled with love & laughter, and you continue to have many, many things to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving!

17 November, 2009

The Remodel Continues...

In order to move the walls, we have to move the power. In order to move the power, the carpet has to come up and we've got to cut into the "floor" (subfloor?) to route the wires to their new homes.

Did you know that when you take up carpet that's been down for a long time, it's almost like you've got your own sandbox underneath? I was amazed at how much sandy grit was underneath the pad. If it weren't so difficult to lay & pull carpet, I'd recommend changing it every other year or so (especially for those with allergies), or just get wood/laminate flooring. Oh yeah. We're working on that. =)

James was over to help this weekend - THANKS, JAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - and blessed our remodel job with First Blood. Turns out, when you're on a ladder underneath the remains of the stud wall, those nails that're still there can be pokey. And draw blood. Thanks for the sacrifice (and again for the help!), James. I'm sure it will all go better because of you. =)

It also turns out that there's not all that much between the floor you're walking on and the room below. Basically, it's that layer of plywood, sitting on wood beams that have sheetrock tacked to the bottom side of them (which then becomes the ceiling of the room below). That's it. Since I'm rather clumsy, I could picture myself - all too well - stumbling, accidentally stepping into one of the holes in the floor, and ending up in the bedroom (or the garage). I'd either hit the bed - after rebounding off the headboard - or land on top of the freezer. Neither is appealing, so I stayed away from the holes.

And you should pay special attention here: When your husband cuts plywood in the kitchen (for any purpose really, but in this case to cover the gaping holes in the non-floor so I don't go crashing through to the freezer below), any dishes on the counter will need to be washed again. Or you'll have to realize that you're getting some extra fiber when you use them. Our silverware is on the countertop (that will be rectified with the new cabinetry - practically the end of the project). I've opted to get some extra fiber - or if it just looks too chunky for me, I'll wipe it off (probably on my shirt) before I use it. Looks like it's a good thing we're not doing any more entertaining until this whole deal is done, right?

And here's me sitting in the office (paying bills - bleh!). It's a contrast in styles (to say the least!) to see the still-carpeted. "normal" portion where I'm at, and the construction zone not one foot away. It'll probably be like that for most of the winter. But it'll be *great* when it's done... It'll be great when it's done!!

08 November, 2009

Remodel - Phase I (Flooring): Stud Removal

The goal for this weekend was two-fold: clean up the rest of the Halloween decorations, and remove the studs from the kitchen/office wall. We moved the cabinets from that wall (again) - they're sitting in the living room now. In order to take the uppers down, we had to empty them out. So all the dishes are currently in stacks on the table. At least they're organized (somewhat) and easily accessible. We're not planning on doing any more entertaining until the remodel is done so as long as we can get to everything, I don't suppose it matters much where it is.

Greg did all the stud removal. I helped with cleanup - getting the boards moved outside, picking up nails, and vacuuming. It didn't take as long as I anticipated. In fact, Greg intended to do more, but the weekend kind of got away from us. He'll probably be doing more during the week, but most of my participation is relegated to weekends.

I think the next part involves moving the power - I banged my head on the light switch a couple times as I was picking up debris. Now that there's no wall, the power's in an awkward spot. Moving power involves tearing up more things. The floor for one, and maybe some of the ceiling too. Once the power's in its new home, it'll be time to re-frame the walls in the new layout.

Side note: I thought that by starting with the flooring, we'd be breaking the overall project into smaller, more manageable chunks. Turns out, the flooring is the last thing you lay down before finishing a room. It makes sense, now that Greg's explained it to me, but I hadn't thought of it that way before. Got to put the wall(s) in, sheetrock, texture, paint, and *then* lay the floor. Otherwise, the floor goes in early then you spend lots of time trying to keep the new floor nice while you're doing the dirty work for other parts of the room. So by the time we get the flooring laid, practically the only part of the remodel left will be the cabinets. Huh.

07 November, 2009

Life Lesson #76: How to Care for Your Monster

Things are crazy around here. I suppose they're normally crazy, but it seems it's even more so right now. I'm spending long hours at work for a large project that's under my care. It should be done before Christmas, but that's still seven weeks away. So Greg has to put up with me being late getting home (a couple nights so far it's been after 10pm), sometimes working on weekends, and the remodel is going to eat up the rest of the free time.

My "down-time" normally consists of sleeping, reading, or playing on the computer - very low-key. On the flipside, Greg is normally enthused about being busy. And as long as it's not work, it seems that the other stuff gives him enough of an outlet that he's recharged and ready come Monday morning. Whether it's remodeling, hiking, photo shoots, geocaching, or board meetings, it doesn't seem to matter. He can cram all those things into the after hours or weekend time (sometimes all in one week), and be ready for the coming week. I, on the other hand, seem to need the opposite - to hole up by myself and focus on some kind of mental escape.

Remodeling doesn't really fall into any of my relaxation categories, and so doesn't allow me to recharge for the coming week. But I feel guilty leaving all that work to Greg, so I'll have to figure out a way to get it all done. I just have to last through Christmas, then one of the big projects is done (work), and I'll have more time to relax even with the remodel continuing.

Greg has been a champ so far. He watched me melt down today. Slowly at first, and then faster & faster until I was just a red, teary-eyed monster with fuzzy hair. Then he helped me put myself back together so I have a semblance of sanity. I think I'll have to get him this book:

(I found the book cover image and a cool write-up here. Didn't realize the author of the book - Norman Bridwell - also wrote the series for Clifford the Big Red Dog.)

Putting me back together apparently includes lots of hugs; a shoulder to cry on; tissues to blow my nose; a nap; and some chocolate peanutbutter ice cream with a brownie. I think I will be ready for Monday... =)

02 November, 2009

Halloween Madness

Halloween was quite the event this year. We spent most of the day prepping - plenty of cleaning and cooking to do, as well as the decorating. (Special thanks to James, who came over early in the afternoon to help with everything, and Todd & Anita, who brought extra decorations and provided all the pictures for this blog!)
It's always fun to see what people come up with for costumes. Unfortunately for me, I can never think of anything clever. Last year, I had to use the grab bag for my costume. (We encourage guests to come dressed for the event, but provide a bag of items in case you're Imagination Challenged, like me.)

Decorating was especially fun, as we used the bare studs and raw framework from the remodel efforts to enhance the atmosphere. Had to keep the cats from trying to eat the fake spiderwebs. =) But, man! All the extra room from removing the fireplace was especially apparent. Much better people flow, and no bottleneck at the food. Yay!

Greg's costume took him almost 30 minutes to do - and was a surprise to even me. He looked like some zombied, strung-out member of an off-Kiss band. Definitely a great costume, but I'm glad it was a wig & paint... My costume was a hat with green & white braids and a tye-dyed t-shirt. Simple, easy to put together, but not very creative. Greg, on the other hand, made at least two trick-or-treaters cry when he answered the door and intoned "braaaaiinnnnssss"...

Every year, I think that next year I'll get the decorations out early, so I can actually enjoy them for more than a few hours. We have bats, a graveyard, and spiderwebs for the yard and walkway, as well as some lighted window decorations too. Even if we didn't do the inside decorations, the rest would be nice to have out for a couple weeks. Maybe next year...

We recently invested in RockBand Beatles for the Wii and brought it out for the party. Had lots of fun playing it with my family last Christmas, and I was excited for this one since I already know lots of the songs. Granted, I apparently have absolutely no coordination or rhythm (I scored 19% on guitar for one of the easy songs - *lots* of room for improvement!), but it was a blast and I do fine as a backup singer.

All-in-all, it was a successful event. Plenty of food and beverage for all, a few slightly terrified kiddies (mollified with several extra handfuls of candy), and bloodshed (but only Greg's - side-note: a footrace backwards in the middle of a cold night when you're three sheets to the wind isn't the greatest idea, as it can lead to a nasty bump on the head, some bleeding, and a bit of road rash...).