Wednesday, September 29, 2010

behold! the mantel!

Although my iPhone photo quality is less than superior, I present to thee ...


Our shiny white mantel!

We've done two coats of semi-gloss white on the mantel and also, on our baseboards and crown moulding. (It's moulding and not molding, right??)

Tomorrow night, we'll be painting the third coat. For that final coat, I'm debating if we should stick with the semi-gloss or go with a high-gloss? From the extensive 1o minutes of research I've done online, the challenge with painting with a high-gloss is that paint brush streaks do not blend as well as they do with a semi-gloss.

So, that's one thing to consider. Another thing to consider is whether or not we paint the bricks around our fire place white? I've seen that look before and like it. Although, it's one of those things you have to be REALLY sure about, because once you paint porous brick - there's really no going back. Much like there's no going back once you chop down a 70-foot pine tree...


I just hope that we're still feeling as confident tomorrow, as we are tonight, that removing SEVEN mature trees from our yard was a good idea.

(Can you see the guy at the very top of the tree? According to Charlie, he climbed that tree in less than five minutes with only a rope around his waist and spikes on his boots. I don't think I'd make it more than four feet off the ground in ... all day.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

the paint saint

Charlie has really honed his painting skills over the past few years.


What with painting every room in our San Diego house, at least twice, plus a few hundred linear feet of baseboards and fences and patios and garages and doors and...


We're slowly working our way through the house, scraping wallpaper and sanding baseboards, crown moulding and window panes. As we're painting one room, we're contemplating colors for the next. We're also contemplating how in the world we're going to paint the stairwell that leads to our lower level.


Did anyone happen to catch the anonymous comment on my post last week about the green dots that showed up in the picture with Charlie in the dining room?

Someone left me a comment that they knew Mr. S. But not only did they know him, they know this house so well that they conveyed a story about the light in the stairwell. Apparently, it was very rarely turned on because to change out this light bulb would be a harrowing task and not something one would want to approach without scaffolding and a fully executed will.

Because it was used so infrequently, that single light bulb lasted the four plus decades that Mr. S lived in this house. Which is certainly a long time for a light bulb, but not nearly as long as the longevity of Livermore's Centennial light bulb.

On the day that Mr. S passed away, someone turned on the light in the stairwell and it immediately blew out. That story gave me the chills, much like the chills that appeared when I went and noticed - for the very first time - the light in the stairwell and wondered, "HOW IN THE WORLD are we going to get up there and paint that wall?"


Then, I freaked out a bit wondering who left me that comment?!


Charlie, as it turns out, has been chatting it up with all the people at the bus stop every morning and he has gone and told several of our neighbors that I have a blog. I don't know WHY he would do that, but when he told me, I felt like crawling under a rock. For what it's worth, my husband doesn't even read this blog - yet he is telling our brand new neighbors about it?


Oh honey. No, No, NO.

We've just moved in
and I'm working through some issues, here! It would be less embarrassing for me to parade down the middle of the street in my bikini from high school (that I still happen to have? WHY?) than to have our new neighbors reading this blog.

Anyway, when I read Charlie the anonymous comment, he thought for sure it was one of the women at the bus stop who have lived in this neighborhood for 30+ years and knew Mr. S and this house. But when he asked each one of them the very next day, they all denied leaving the comment.

So. Huh.

The internet is a very small place, isn't it?

This past weekend, we painted our dining room. And then, before the paint was even dry, I was debating whether or not I liked the red. Actually, I love the red - it's rich and vibrant and a beautiful color, indeed. But I think that Oregano Spice might go better with our furnishings, art and draperies. At the moment, we're not quite sure what we're going to do.


We might leave it red - or we might repaint it. Or, we might put bags over our heads and hit ourselves repeatedly with paint stirrers because that'll clear our minds and be less painful than painting a room only to paint it again. Especially when we have ten more rooms to paint and more than 200 window panes to scrape and sand and tape and prime.

Isn't the normal course of action to select a color and then paint it and then live with it? Or perhaps, you paint a single wall and then realize oops! it's not quite right! Who out there paints an entire room with TWO coats and THEN decides, "Nope. This isn't it!"

Ah, the good times of home improvement.



Sunday, September 26, 2010

our triplet turtles

This past Friday, I took the day off of work. The intention was that I would have some time to spend with the children, while also doing some much-needed moving in activities, i.e., finding a new dentist and locating the box with all of my socks that have been MIA for three weeks.

Soon after I walked the kids to the bus stop, and returned home and served Henry his third bowl of Cheerios in an hour, our door bell rang. It seems that one of our awesome neighbors, found three tiny turtles as he was cleaning out his pool filter.


He was certain that the turtles would drown if he didn't scoop them out, so he rescued them in his blue pool bucket.


Then, he walked them over to our house because we have a creek in our backyard that he thought we could release them in to. But the moment he handed those turtles to us, we kissed goodbye any productivity we had slated for the next four hours.


When they arrived on our doorstep, they were hardly moving.

So we quickly swung in to action.

First, we Googled, "What do turtles eat?"

And then, we ambushed our lettuce supply.

Then, we scurried down to our creek.


Only to realize that the creek was mostly dry.


So we collected some rocks and leaves and sticks.


And filled the bucket with whatever creek water we could find.


And then we brought our tiny turtles back to our house so we could watch them.

And watch them.

And watch them some more ... while wondering if the reason they weren't moving is because they'd all died?


They are so tiny, neither Charlie nor I wanted to release them to the wild until they're just a little bigger. Not that we know the first thing about raising turtles - except they like green leafy vegetables - but we felt like we could at least protect them from being eaten.


What seemed like 10 minutes later, the children were home from school.


And our children, who want a pet more than any children who have ever lived in the entire history of the world, were interested to see that we now have three critters under our care.


"Interested" might not be a strong enough word choice.


The rest of the day was spent supervising the children so that they didn't love the little turtles straight to heaven. And later, when I heard little footsteps pitter-pattering down the hall at midnight, 2:00 AM, 3:45 AM, 4:36 AM, 5:17, 5:18 and 5:20 AM, followed by hushed squealing, I stumbled out of bed to see the kids sitting around the bucket and singing lullabies.


Despite the fact that they lack hair/fur and aren't the most cuddly of creatures, these little turtles are nameable. Please meet Terrence, Flower and Sprigitiz, who also goes by the name of Butterfly.


Flower is very sleepy.


Terrence crawls all over the place.


Sprigitiz, who also goes by the name of Butterfly, is somewhat shy.


We will definitely be setting our triplet turtles free in to the wild.


But probably not until 2022.

Friday, September 24, 2010

tales from kindergarten

William. My son?


A few nights ago, as I was tucking him in to bed, he was talking to me about school. And what he said is that he does not like Kindergarten one little bit, except for snack time and recess and taking the bus - because those things are fun.

But apparently, his teacher makes him color pictures and sometimes? Those pictures have lines and he has to stay INSIDE the lines. And if he makes a tiny mistake and colors outside the lines? His teacher will kick him. And then, she won't help him pick up his crayons and put them in the box at the end of the class.

Do you know what that woman purportedly does, instead of helping MY little boy?

According to William, she sits up at the front of the classroom and drinks beer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

progress report v.2

Two days ago, I received a call from my former boss in California.


During the course of our conversation, he casually mentioned that it looks like the work they are doing on the west coast will in fact be going on for quite some time, and he will be there for a while. This is in stark contrast to what I heard just a few months ago, when we made the decision to pack up our entire lives and move east on eight weeks notice.

In the midst of everything else we had going on.

Later that night, as I was driving home in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I thought about the job I had in California. A job which I loved and allowed me to work FROM THE HOME so I could be with our children. I never faced traffic, unless I forgot what time it was when I ventured off to the grocery store for wine and chocolate. And all things pleasant.

When I arrived home on Tuesday night, I actually cried myself to sleep.

Not because I dislike my new job, but because I see the kids for half an hour in the morning, and an hour at night, and once they go to sleep, I'm surrounded by a house that needs SO.MUCH.WORK. and I'm so tired, but I can't go to bed, because if I don't do something, it's never going to get done and oh my gosh, how the heck did I get here?

But wait. That's not entirely accurate.

Because I'm genuinely HAPPY to be here.


I'm not sure how to describe my emotions over the past few days, except to say that I feel very confused and fragile. The slightest things will set me off in to tears. Which is probably normal considering I am adjusting to a completely and totally different life.

A life where I work in an office and my children are in school and I'm surrounded by all things new and exciting. And I really think I might be mourning the loss of my pregnancy. Which, I kinda thought that gut wrenching sadness would be over by now?

Lucky for me, and perhaps those within a certain radial distance of me, I have a lot of positive things to focus upon. For instance, I really adore our new neighborhood and house. And for as much as I adore our new neighborhood and house, our children adore it even more.

It makes me so happy to see how happy they are.


They've asked me countless times, "Please Mom, can we stay here forever?" And Henry, the child who kept telling me, as we were bouncing around from one hotel to the next, "I want go HOME, Mom!" will point at our house whenever we are outside and knowingly say, "That HENRY house! That MY home!"

I'm really enjoying my new job and I see so much potential for the good things I will hopefully contribute to the organization. Despite the back and forth debate that I wage with myself everyday about, "Why am I working when I could be home with my children?" and "What is the purpose for a woman to go to college if she ultimately has children and then is faced with the dilemma of career?" and "Am I doing The Right Thing, have I done The Right Thing, and WHAT EXACTLY IS THE RIGHT THING?"

Cheese and Crackers!

Will I figure out "The Right Thing", before our children graduate high school?

Maybe I just need some time to get settled in to our house and a routine and voila I'll find harmony with the work-life balance?


In the meantime, I'll admit that the time I do spend with my family is so much more precious than it has ever been, before. I savor the time that I can spend just sitting reading a book to the children - or scratching their backs - or talking with my husband. I feel so blessed and lucky to have them and to be here, and that we're all healthy and well.

Did I love them this much when I was with them all the time??

Tough to remember...

But on the drive home from work, when I see a helicopter land on top of a hospital and I spot a medical crew waiting on the roof, I break down and cry for the life and lives that have been flipped upside down. Whenever I pull over for an ambulance with it's lights flashing and siren blaring, I cry some more. And when I see the leaves on the trees turn from green...


To brown ...

I cry when I think of the passage of time.


And all the raking we'll soon have to do.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

making progress

Three days later and we're halfway finished.


Only four more and one loooong hallway to go.


Wow, I just noticed as I'm looking at this photo ... what are those green dots in the window?!

Mr. S ... is that you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

home sweet home (part 4: the living room)

In my opinion, our living room is the crown jewel of this house.


The first time we saw our house, back in July, and I caught sight of the living room, I gasped and my heart honestly skipped a beat. The majestic fireplace, the expansive bay window, the gleaming hardwood floors. I immediately imagined placing our Christmas tree in that beautiful window and hanging our stockings on that sturdy mantle. Very clearly, I could see our family sitting in front of a crackling fire while singing Christmas carols and drinking egg nog.


(It's on our "To-Do" list to paint the inside of the fireplace with high temperature black paint.)

A few weeks ago, I wrote that this house had very good "bones" and this room is proof of that.

For instance, the lines in this room are perfect and exact. The spacing on either side of the fireplace are precisely equal. When I place our 8 x 10 rug in front of the couch, it is evenly spaced between the windows and perfectly spaced in front of the fireplace and within the room.


Symmetry makes me extraordinarily happy.


There were THREE tracks worth of curtains hanging in this room, that we removed the first weekend we were in the house. As for right now, we don't have any curtains up and are debating what to do with this window. Sheer? Plantation shutters?

Who has any suggestions for how to dress up a 5 x 12 bay window?

We are planning to paint this room "Basketry" by Behr. Basketry also happens to be the same color that we are planning to paint beneath Cherry Tart in the adjoining dining room (which is actually more "red" than the tester shown online). We're going to pull the basketry color out of the dining room and through the living room. We're also planning to paint the mantle, crown moulding and baseboards semi-gloss white.


Although, now that I look at the intricacies of the mantle - and envision how challenging that will be to properly sand - maybe we'll just leave it pink.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

bike fever

The children have reached an age where if they want something to eat, they'll pretty much help themselves. Despite my pleas and protests. And empty threats of bodily harm if they walk away and leave the refrigerator door open ONE MORE TIME.

So this morning, when I woke to the sound of rustling in the kitchen, I knew before I even stepped foot in the room, that the children had made themselves breakfast. What I wasn't expecting, however, is that they also would have gotten themselves completely dressed and "outfitted" for the day. Did I mention that they ditched their training wheels yesterday?


If I hadn't tucked them in last night and seen first hand that they were indeed wearing pajamas, I might have thought they wore their helmets to bed.

Today, they honed their bicycling skills. And what I discovered is that stopping and steering are not natural reflexes. These are skills, when on a bicycle sans training wheels, take some time to polish. The other thing I learned is that when kids crash, it is automatically YOUR (as in not their) fault. So when I would give them a gentle push to start, and 30-feet later they would crash in to a tree, they would turn around and blame ME.

"MOM! You pushed me in to that TREE!"


Right. Like *I* had something to do with an 80-foot tree appearing out of thin air, directly in their path?

After many tears and much blaming, my agile husband hopped on a bike and showed the kids how to both stop AND avoid towering conifers.


Whenever I saw him doing laps on our driveway, I felt like I should be waving an American Flag at a Fourth of July Parade.


He totally reminds me of a Shriner.


Charlie. Dude. Please don't hurt yourself.

You've still got 1,500 square feet of wallpaper to remove.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

we're all learning

After learning to do this during this afternoon ...



We are finally doing this, tonight.


"This" being, the act of putting forth the first effort to update our house.


We started by removing wallpaper in our dining room.


Which we've since decided is no easy task.

Much like bike riding, when you first start out.


After I bought equipment today to score the walls, and then I bought a few gallons worth of wallpaper remover, and scrapers and sponges, Charlie and I spent six hours removing wallpaper from a four foot area.


"With all the wallpaper in this house, this will take us TEN years!" we said to each other, "There's got to be an easier way!"

Turns out, there is.


Tomorrow, after we go for a bike ride, first thing in the morning, we'll be picking up a steamer. Because now that the kids know how to ride without training wheels, that's all they want to do.


And now that we know how to get wallpaper down and are beginning to see the transformation that will take place in our house once it's gone - that's all we want to do.

See ... look!


Charlie's so desperate to get a start on this project, he's willing to improvise using our steam mop. And that is why we now love our Bissell Green Tea, a little bit more.