Thursday, July 31, 2008

This is all the sweeter...

... because it follows this:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Houston, we have a problem

Last week, we went through a few tough days with Liam. He pooped his pants three times in the course of 24 hours, and the last time he did it even once was months ago. He’d been cross with Mallory and glum in general. Then, to top it off, Cindy called on Monday to tell me that he’d been aggressive with Mallory at her house. She had been standing down the hall from him, and he took a running, flying leap at her for no reason, knocking her right off her feet. For that, of course, he got a time out – his first one. As usual, the minute you let Liam know you’re upset with him, he is bawling in – I don’t know, shame? Regret? Or just because he knows that will make you go easier on him? Anyway, he seemed remorseful enough.

Cindy, who said that in all the time she’s known Liam, she’s never seen him behave like that, suggested that this may be tied to the fact that I was more absent than usual last week (on account of work commitments), and it’s true. Though I was not out with my clients every night, Chad was doing the evening pick-up, which is enough of a routine change for the kiddos to sit up and take notice. We went through a bout of pants-wetting/pooping with Liam a few months ago that we figured out was a bid for more attention from us. And, Cindy also let me know that the other little girl who’s a summer regular at her house is currently toilet training, so she’s requiring a lot of Cindy’s time and effort right now. Put this all together and you’ve got it – Liam is looking for attention.

I honestly feel bad for the poor kid. Mallory is a little banshee, and the past few weeks with her have been even more trying than usual. She has been eating crayons, sitting down in mud puddles, and sticking her hands in a can of construction adhesive over at the new house (ugh – that was a mess! Never assume the contractors put their stuff away at the end of the day.) The other night Chad found a caterpillar for Liam, and set it down on the flagstone so he could see it better. Mallory was there in seconds, trying to stomp on it. Luckily she missed, but Liam was in tears anyway, worried for the poor bug’s safety. She has started screaming in her high chair, but will eat (somewhat) peacefully if sitting on my lap, so guess where she often ends up during mealtimes? Her hair needs doing in the mornings (and then again a couple hours later, and then again, and then again…) In all these little ways, she requires a lot of time and attention, and he’s starting to feel the strain of it. The point was perfectly driven home on Monday night when I went to pick up the kids. Cindy just got a new toy bike, and she was telling me that Liam, who has been a little slow to catch onto the concept of pedaling since he got his first bike more than a year ago, took to it right away and went the whole length of her sidewalk that first day. He wanted me to see, and had just started off down the sidewalk, when Mallory did a terrible face plant – the kind where you think she’s going to lose teeth. She started screaming, there was blood everywhere, and I was completely torn between watching him so proudly demonstrate such a big achievement and soothing my poor injured baby. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I scooped her up and rocked her while keeping my eyes on him, but when he turned back to see if I was watching, I’m sure I saw some disappointment on his face that he wasn’t the only thing on my mind.

So, I feel awful for him. I know he has to learn that he’s not the centre of the universe, and Mallory is doing a good job of teaching him that, but… it’s tough.

(Man, I am getting behind in posting pics!... just don't seem to have the right ones handy when I'm ready to post.)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Unfinished business

A scrapbook spread in progress. I have no creative mojo going on right now whatsoever. So, here are the pics (since it's easier to upload one shot than my 12 favourite pics one by one) - and I will save it and get back to it when the juices are flowing again.

R & R

Last week was a bit of a blur – as I was saying, a project I’m managing is swinging into full gear, and I had some of my team members (contractors) in from the UK to kick things off. This necessitated some focused daytime work and some evening entertainment as well. I just recently got off the phone with Cindy, who was describing some aggressive behaviour from Liam toward Mallory last week – something she thought may have been sparked by the fact that our routine was thrown off (Chad was doing both drop-off and pick-up, I was out in the evening, etc.) I hope a return to normal this week will nip that in the bud.

After a fast-paced week for everyone, we headed out for some much-needed weekend R&R. My sister and her family rented a cottage on Lake Huron at Beach o’ Pines, just south of Grand Bend, and we went up to join them for a couple of days. It was awesome – great weather, great location, lots of fun (though Liam and Henry kept their distance again this time around). The kind of trip where you come home vowing to buy a cottage yourself. Or at least rent one on an annual basis. :) We are doing just that – renting a cottage on Lake Huron, albeit a bit further north – for a few days in August, so this was a great way to whet our appetites. (I still have echoes of Liam forlornly saying, “But I don’t WANT to go home from the cottage!” as we drove out on Saturday morning ringing in my ears.)

I haven’t had time to upload many pics yet… took me long enough just to get them off my card and onto the computer… but hopefully I will update later with more. For now, I have to sort through an email inbox that is over its size limit, finish up some takeaway lists and items from last week's project kickoff, and attend to all the other requests that fell to the wayside when I was engrossed in that one thing. The cottage is feeling like a distant memory right about now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What do you do when your builder calls to say they are halfway through putting up the shutters and it doesn't look good?

If you're us... you keep putting up the shutters! I rather like them. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another progress report

Are you sick of seeing house shots yet? I would not say that I am sick of building a house, exactly, but I am about ready for it to be done. We will have soooo much spare time on our hands when this is all behind us and we are no longer making multiple trips to the site, to the plumber's, to buy yet more light bulbs... Granted, we will have months of unpacking to attend to, but at least we can do that in the comfort of our own home rather than hauling around town to do it!

Yesterday they put up the subdivision sign on the island in front of our house. They had installed the pillars late last year, without the signage in the middle, and then a snowplow accidentally wiped the left hand side of it out. There was a pile of rubble for a while and now, finally, new pillars, the sign and landscaping. And you know what... it's not nearly the eyesore I was expecting it to be.More Marmoleum! The baths are both done in sheet Marmoleum, and they are done now. The floor installer just began doing the mudroom/powder room last night. Chad stopped by just as he was starting and he actually told Chad our floor was going to be ugly. To each their own I guess.Liam was sooooo excited when the ceiling fan went up in his bedroom, and the carpet was installed yesterday, too. When we stopped by the house last night, we found the upstairs to be unbearably hot. The A/C went in last week so it was puzzling (and disappointing - our current (old) house has a temperature discrepency like that from the first floor to the second, and it's one of the things we're looking forward to putting behind us when we move) to find it so stuffy upstairs - until we discovered that the carpet had gone right over the air registers, and holes were not cut for them yet. Thank goodness it's only a temporary situation!Mallory got her pretty little chandelier installed... no ceiling fan for her. If it is suffocatingly hot in her room, I will consider swapping it out, but like I said - it's a new house, and I expect the heating and cooling systems to be a little more efficient than what we are living with now.Friendly Mr. Heron was back last night. He likes to hang out on the drain pipe (which projects into the creek) that you can see out the back of the house. He's really good at plucking goldfish out of the creek. Yep - goldfish. We see him with them in his beak. How on earth there are that many domestic fish in a natural creek is beyond me - are people mistakenly flushing that many live goldfish down their toilets??When I walked in the door after work last night, Liam looked up at me and said, "It's open." You know what he was referring to, right?Yep, the new ice cream place - which is called Twirlee's, as it turns out. We stopped in on our way home. I didn't find it all that great - thank goodness - one less temptation to deal with.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I love it when I have the last laugh

I have had an unbelievably lucky weekend. So lucky, in fact, that I am waiting for the other shoe to fall - there's got to be something that happens in the very near future to even out my luck, isn't there?

First, there's the pair of lamps I've had my eye on forever - a good year, I'd bet. $80 each regular price - not completely outrageous, but more than I'd wanted to spend. I've been watching them for this long, waiting for a sale, and nothing. Then, I was in the store on Saturday, after something else entirely, almost having forgotten about them, and they were suddenly on final clearance for $29. I needed two, and there were two left - one boxed, one the floor model, still in decent shape. Sold!

Then, today, we were out with the kids, and we passed an antiques shop I had never been in before, and on a whim we decided to go in. I have to preface this part of the story by saying that everyone will tell you when you build a house that it will never go entirely as you planned, that there will be mistakes and plan changes mid-game, and one of those for us was the kids' bathroom. Our floor plans show a linen closet built into the kids' bath, and somehow the framers confused the linen closet with a linen storage tower we originally had planned for the master bath and later axed. Long story short - they didn't frame out the closet, and they were gone by the time we realized the error. So we've been going around and around on it, trying to decide what to do - pay to bring the framers back? Get the kitchen guy to do some built ins? I had said in passing that I love vintage pharmacy cabinets and would love to find something like that to fill the space. Fast forward to today - at the antiques shop - guess what we found? Perfect size, shape, colour, condition, price!!! - only someone else had a hold on it. Long story short again, that person is no longer in the picture, and we got it. I could swoon.

So there I was basking in the glow of a great shopping weekend, and we went out to Chad's parents' trailer, and put the kids down for a nap and went for a bike ride, and we were riding out on Lakeshore Road, past all these pretty little cottages, and at the very last one we passed - out at the curb - there it sat. A pretty little vintage white dresser, perfect for Mal's room - in the trash - free for the taking! I knocked on the cottage door to be sure, and it was actually answered by a woman in my book club - who knew? Needless to say, it came home with us. Hard to believe I was kicking myself for not paying more than $160 for one just last week, and here's one that's prettier still (though lacking the glass knobs; nothing that $20 won't fix) for free.

Someone please remove this horseshoe from my ass.

To be fair, we had our share of misfortune this weekend - our TV was fried during a power surge in a thunderstorm. Though it was a small TV, not our main one, and my recent luck is more than enough to make up for that. :)

Photos will follow at some point, of course, though this might be a light posting week - I have clients coming into town. Meaning, I actually have to be productive this week. :) Stay tuned...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nothing gets past this guy

Last night when I picked the kids up from Cindy's house, Liam got into the car and immediately started talking about wanting to go to the store. What store? I asked. The store that's this way, he said. The thing is, Cindy lives in a subdivision - no stores in sight. I said, Liam, there are no stores here - these are all houses. He said, there's a store this way, with ice cream and a cherry on top, maybe we can go to the store and get some ice cream.

So I told him he was ridiculous, and we went home. He did get me thinking that ice cream after dinner was a good idea though; it's swelteringly hot here, after all...

Then Chad came home, and we compared notes, and suddenly everything made sense. As it turns out, there is a new ice cream shop in town, and it's on the route to Cindy's house. (No, I didn't see it driving home, though I should have). It is, in fact, a booth set up in a strip mall parking lot - a booth shaped like an ice cream cone, indeed with a cherry on top. Liam spotted it the day it went in and knew exactly what that business was all about. I must have had my blinders on.

So after dinner, we set out on a walk for some ice cream, only when we got there, after our long hot walk, we saw the dreaded, small-print signs hanging in the windows: opening soon... (Who puts in an ice cream store when the summer is already half over and then doesn't even open for business right away? But I digress.)

Luckily, we had to pass Dairy Queen to get to the ice cream cone ice cream store, and so we stopped in on our way back. Liam got a DQ sandwich, which he loved, and Chad and I split an Oreo Brownie Earthquake, which was really not all that good. Give me a good old fashioned scoop of Cookies n Cream or Bordeaux Cherry any day. Mallory had a few tastes of both. The menu was up at the ice cream cone ice cream store (I need to find out the real name of it!) and it looked good - limited to soft serve, but with all kinds of mix-ins. We will definitely check it out one day... but only after we know for sure that it's open for business!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our 'New Old House'

It's been a bit since my last house progress report, so here goes. This week it feels like we've made some good progress. Last week was painfully slow; the interior trim work is underway, and seeing a couple more doors and windows framed each day, well... it's not all that exciting. Major noteworthy events this week include the fact that we now have newel posts (which we had custom milled, to make them a bit chunkier than the standard) and banisters on the staircase (though we are still lacking the all-important pickets that will keep us from plunging to our deaths). The banisters have been stained to match the bamboo floors, or so we hope - only time will tell. Baseboards are up throughout much of the house. We chose a non-standard baseboard too, and we're breathing sighs of relief that they look as good in person as they did in our mind's eyes.

More exciting still, we've seen the addition of a few details that lend the vibe of what is commonly called, on internet homebuilding forums, the New Old House - in other words, new construction that incorporates old fashioned details. Our design sensibility tends toward the retro and I am giddy over some of the finishing touches we've started to see that reflect this. First up was the surprise installation of the shower tile in the master bath - we just showed up one day, and it was done. This was a decision we agonized over, considering subway tile (too trendy, despite the fact that it's a classic, and a bit too plain for my tastes); glass mosaic (too trendy, period, and spendy as well), small bricks (even spendier than glass)... the list goes on. We are not really natural stone people, and we spent hours looking at sample boards, until we hit the octagon tile with grey diamond inserts. It's the perfect blend of something retro and something with a bit of colour - better still that the colour is a neutral (because goodness knows nothing else in this house is!) I love the locker room type vibe it imparts, and it looks great up against the blue walls.

And now - be still my heart - the floors are going in. And the first floors to be laid are the ones I have been waiting for for years - my beloved Marmoleum floors. I have coveted these puppies since the first time I saw them, and they do not disappoint! They are soft underfoot, antibacterical, easy to clean (well... that's yet to be proven), colourfully fun, and, yes, retro. The guy installing them made a comment about how our laundry room looks like his grandma's old house. Ding ding ding! - mission accomplished then. We did a blue and white check in the laundry room, and it came out better than I'd even hoped for. I think I want to move into the laundry room and sleep on the floor.

We got a call from our builder last night, saying the electrician was in today so could we please bring over the light fixtures. ACK. That was one of my jobs, and I finished 95% of it and left that last 5% until the last minute. So last night I made a mad dash out to Home Depot before they closed to pick up a few closet fixtures and spent $200 on light bulbs. $200!! On light bulbs!! They are all compact fluorescents, which explains the bill (2 chandeliers x 6 bulbs each x $8/bulb = OUCH). I am counting on not needing to change a light bulb, like, ever. Chad labelled everything while I was out shopping, and we loaded up the truck in the rain late last night. This morning Chad left at the crack of dawn to deliver them to the house before the work crews arrived. He was surprised to find our GC there already working, and we got some exciting news - the GC says he often sees deer wandering through our back yard in the early morning, heading down to the creek to drink. Liam is going to FLIP.

I'm super excited to see the light fixtures installed - picking them out was totally a labour of love for me. The Marmoleum is supposed to be finished on the weekend, and the carpet install begins next week. The bamboo will be delivered any day now, too, to let it acclimatize before installation. Last weekend I got 5 blinds finished off, and then I ran out of fabric. My super kind friend Steph took me to the fabric store and stocked me up again using her frequent shopper card - I was going to buy a membership, but they run August to August, so there's no sense paying for one now that will only last two weeks. She stocked me up with enough goods to get me through until I have a card of my own. There's only 6 weeks left until we move, and sitting idle for 2 weeks would have been a waste of precious time - we need to keep up our forward momentum.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Remind me why I do this again?

This week started out badly for me. I just had a couple of days there where it was totally driven home to me that I have spent two of the past three years out of the office, and that time, at least gas industry time, has moved on without me. Never have I felt so inept. I feel like it is taking me forever to catch onto new things and the fact that I have a team lead type role, yet am being directed by the people I am supposed to be directing... it makes me totally cringe at myself.
On top of that, I was late getting to an important meeting on Monday. It was right after lunch and we decided to boot it over to the house quickly at lunch to see what was new. Usually, when we make these lunchtime trips, the workers are off on lunch as well, so we are free to poke around a bit and then make a speedy exit. Well, on Monday, everyone was there. The trim guy wanted to know what the dining room trim is supposed to look like, the floor guy was putting down subfloor and wanted to confirm the colours and patterns of the tile, the glass guy came in to measure the shower enclosure, and Al (our GC) showed up with a hundred little things to address (more on that to come). When we aren't around to consult on things like these, they decide how to do things on their own, which aren't always the same way we would do them... so it is worth it to give the direction. Just not at the same time as a meeting whose sole purpose was to discuss the future of our Expert System - the very project I was hired into my new role to oversee.

Anyway, I felt bad enough about that, and then to make matters worse, last night was a fiasco for both Chad and I. We had a customer in town and I was invited (rather last minute) to drinks, dinner and an evening out with them. Chad was already on a golf course with some of his customers for the afternoon. His golf session ran late and I had already given up on making it to my dinner by the time he called to say he was on his way home. I called him back a couple minutes later to say not to bother rushing home, I had decided I was going to cancel, but he doesn't pick up his phone when he is driving. So when he got home, not only had I called to say I would not be making it to my dinner, but it turned out that he had stiffed his customers the customary end-of-day drinks, too, leaving that to his boss and a VP. In other words... neither one of us made a good impression. We (I) thought we could pull off both events without the use of a babysitter, but lesson learned: from now on we will err on the side of caution.

The good news is that today I had a good day, a really good day, one that was busy and interesting and challenging in a fun way, and at the end of the day I felt like I had worked hard and had contributed something and also learned a lot without feeling stupid about it, feelings that are very satisfying to go home with. Yesterday, I felt like quitting. Today, not so much. I knew that, as a working mom, there would be days like this, and I am sure there is much worse yet to come, with vomit on a new suit the day of an important presentation, etc. There will be days. I know that. I accept that. I can't avoid that... I just hate it when they happen is all.

(Here is our big Saturday activity: the fabled Driveway Paint! Liam was totally into this, more so than I'd even expected. He claimed that he was going to paint every square inch of the driveway, though after completing about a two-by-two-foot section he decided he'd rather just cover an entire porch step. The problem was that after he woke up from his afternoon nap, he wanted to go right back outside and do more Driveway Paint. I think we may have created a monster. Mallory tipped hers over and had it all over her hands and running down her legs within minutes of me mixing it up; she is a monster of an entirely different kind.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

While I wasn't looking

...this little guy has suddenly gotten not so little. *sniff* It really hit home with me a couple of weeks ago, when the lineup at Cindy's house changed a bit on account of the school year ending. Some of her charges have parents whose work schedules change (or cease & desist) in the summer, so they no longer come. Suddenly, Liam is the oldest regular at Cindy's house.

It was quite startling when I first made the realization. I still remember his very first day there, when he was the youngest of the bunch, so well; and wondering how he was going to do as a tag-along to the other kids. Now, they're the ones tagging along after him. There is still one girl older than Liam who's there once or twice a week, but he is the head honcho most of the time.

Cindy is doing a great job of making the most of it with him. She has some games reserved just for him - flash cards, concentration, that type of thing. She will sometimes wake him up from his nap a little bit early so that he can have some one on one time with her to use these things before the little girls get up (goodness knows that Mallory would disrupt the proceedings). I'm glad that she is making the effort to keep him busy and happy like this; where I used to worry that he would never be able to keep up with the other kids, now I worry that the other kids are holding him back. I know that I'm being silly about it, and that there is lots of stimulation for him; I hear constantly about his walks, his playing in the (kiddie) pool, his trips to the library and the towers of blocks he builds. Still... I never thought I would be glad to send him off to school, and yet here I am, with that day still more than a year away, thinking that it will be a good thing for him. A whole new set of challenges and opportunities. A good thing... but one that is still coming way, way too fast.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another weekend down

Another blink of an eye, and three more days are gone. I swear, I don't know where the summer is going. Late last week I was putting something into my calendar at work, and saw that this past weekend was the only one we did not have plans for from now until after Labour Day. So we made an impromptu decision to take the kids to Storybook Gardens on Friday, since we had the day off and the weather was good. We slept in as much as the kids would let us and then set out, which got us there about 20 minutes after the gates opened. A little less than four hours later, we had visited the seal exhibit and on-site farm numerous times, ridden on the carousel and train, soaked ourselves on the splash pad and climbed over every piece of play equipment on the premises. Mallory fell asleep on the train ride and did not even wake up as she was buckled into her car seat. Liam requested a movie to watch on the way home so we told him he could have one once we hit the highway - and as we suspected - he wasn't able to stay awake that long, either.

On Saturday, Liam requested a stay-at-home day, which had us scratching our heads trying to come up with some things for the kids to do that did not involve plunking them in front of the TV (more on that later) and then yesterday I made a trip up to the Grand Bend flea market while Chad took the kids out to visit Gramma and Grampa at the trailer. Sadly I think Chad and the kids got the better end of that deal. Despite being widely touted as an antiques-type flea market (I was picturing Aberfoyle in my mind), it was really more of a selling-junk-out-of-the-trunk-of-your-car type flea market. There was a small antiques section, but not nearly as big as I'd hoped for. I did wind up with a yummy cherry pie, but it actually came from a bakery that's not even 5 minutes from my house. So why I drove 1.5 hours (each way) to buy it is beyond me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Evening ritual

We are pretty boring people. We do the same things day after day. Our after dinner routine can take one of only two turns. Either we go to the new house to see the day's progress, maybe meet with a tradesperson, and follow that up with a trip to the 'New House Park' (as Liam calls it); or else we go for a walk around the block.Now that the trim work is underway, I have to admit, the walk around the block is winning my vote more and more. The trim is going up painfully slowly. It's a good hike across town to the new house, and I hate to take the time to haul everyone over there only to see that next to nothing has changed. Plus, I love our leafy little neighbourhood, and I'm very cognizant of the short time we have left here. I want to enjoy it as much as we can before we're gone.Liam is through with riding in the stroller, at least as far as walking around the block is concerned. In fact, he now refuses to go for a walk without being allowed to pull Mallory in the wagon. I used to interject on Mallory's behalf, saying she might prefer to sit in the comfort of the stroller, but she now makes a beeline to the wagon every night and clambers to get in. So much for my misguided protests.Notice the street urchin hair. Chad says she had the elastic out this morning before they even pulled into Cindy's driveway. *sigh*Every once in a while Liam slows down a bit, and we ask if he'd like to get in the wagon with Mallory and let us finish pulling them around the block. That's all it takes to get him to break into a run, to prove how very wrong we are, that he is not tiring, no, not at all. I swear, this kid is going to have forearms like Popeye pretty soon - Mallory is not exactly a lightweight payload, especially not coupled with a monster wagon!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pebbles lasted til 11 a.m.

Street urchin

Lately I have been having one heck of a time dealing with Mallory's hair. When I have a barrette in it, it looks adorable. And then, about 30 seconds later, she pulls it out. No matter how many times I put it back in, she takes it out again. In fact, she has taken to surreptitiously checking her hair throughout the day for stray barrettes, even after she's long since plucked it out. Because this seems to be a losing battle, and there are only so many hours in the day for me to fight her on this, as well as the fact that every time she rips the barrette out, she takes a good chunk of her beautiful hair along with it... I have taken to not even bothering anymore. Which was all fine and well several months ago, when she looked like this:But now that her hair is longer, she looks like a real ragamuffin when there is nothing keeping her hair contained (as evidenced above). And the thing is, I am terribly vain about her hair. I just think it is such a beautiful colour, and a standout feature of hers. So I hate to see it looking ratty. I have a vision of what it will look like when it is a little longer, a little thicker and a little more even (though I refuse to get it cut to even it out, not yet - I don't want to age her before my very eyes.) It's just the awkward time from now til then that we have to ride out.

So this morning I pulled out the big guns. I set up a decoy and went to work on her hair. I plunked her in her high chair, and gave her a sippy cup of juice, which she loves to guzzle in the morning; and I snuck up behind her with a comb (which she hates) and some elastics, and I gave her a Pebbles top-of-her-head ponytail. When I was done, she looked like this, minus the dinosaur and sabre-toothed tiger:
About thirty seconds later she figured out that something was up, and the ponytail was already cockeyed by the time I left for work, but those elastics hold pretty tight. Much better than the barrettes, anyway. Goodness knows what she will look like by the end of the day, but I am hoping that this is the temporary measure it takes to keep her hair relatively neat and relatively out of her eyes, while it grows out. One day, when she looks like this, it will all be worth it: Except that I hope she will be wearing more clothes.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

52 days and counting

Things continue to move along at the new house, and we are now 100% in the dry. Up until last week, we were 99% dry but didn’t have the windows caulked, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of water intrusion every time it rained because of those small cracks in the fa├žade. The crew needed a couple of consecutive rain-free days after the bricking finished to get it done, and we just didn’t have them until recently. The front door is now painted, though there's just a single coat on there, making it look a lot brighter than the final product will - navy blue paint on white primer? - that's going to take a lot of coats to cover. The back and side doors were also mistakenly painted blue, though that should be remedied sometime over the next week or two.Luigi the painter has been going full tilt, and the house interior is completely painted. Our colour palette is very similar to the tried and true colours in our current house, though a bit more muted. Not that you would know it from this shot: holy technicolour! (This is the view from the playroom, through the hall, and into the dining room.) Anyway, so far so good – we’re happy with how everything has turned out, though of course it’s so hard to tell when you are looking at a big empty space without the benefit of seeing how your furniture, etc. looks inside it. The kitchen is much bluer than I ever expected it to be, but cover 80% of that paint up with cabinetry and I’m sure the effect will be much different. Oh, and the blue walls in the kids’ bath? – they’re likely to look much different once the green floor is installed. Like I said – technicolour!

Speaking of all these blue walls, you actually pay per colour when you build a new house. So we’ve tried to double up on our colours as much as possible, and will rely on the decorating to differentiate between the spaces. That same aforementioned blue, for example, is in the kitchen, playroom, master ensuite, kids’ bath, Liam’s room, and the laundry room. But I’d rather do that than pay $200 (yes, really) each time the painter changes to a new colour. At least we will be cohesive! Chad and I have done a lot of lurking at a home building internet forum for the past year or two, which has been a great source of all kinds of tips and info and inspiration… but also a very humbling place to hang out. We are building a big beautiful house, more than I ever thought I would have, and I consider myself very lucky to have it (or, to have 75% of it, as it stands today.) But to read on these forums what other people are doing… it’s mind-boggling. Empty nesters building 6,000 square feet, one guy with 11 fridges and 4 dishwashers, several people building drive-through lanes with access to the kitchen or pantry so they can unload their groceries directly from the car without having to carry them through the house… wow. Half the world, upon hearing that we are building a house, seems to think that it is big and beautiful and all we could ever want. The other half, upon hearing that we are building, thinks that we are not pulling out enough stops. I would like to think that we are comfortably in the middle. Do not expect the aforementioned levels of sophistication at 99 Braemar Blvd – if that is the new norm, then we are well below average!!

This week the trim carpenter is going full bore (with Luigi still hanging around to finish the trim paint). We have a couple of doors hung now, and the hardware is starting to arrive and be installed – in a lovely bronze finish that goes well with our ‘new old house’ theme – I just hope it isn’t becoming The Next Big Thing that will look dated a few years down the road. (or… do I WANT it to look dated? Bwa ha ha. Yes, I do, but I want it to look REALLY dated, not 5-years-old dated.) I will feel much better once more progress is made on the trim, including installation of the pickets and railing around the staircase (both of which are now on-site). Having the kids upstairs for any length of time, even when in my arms or held firmly by the hand, gives me heart palpitations right now, and it’s because our current safety features look like this: Alas, we've encountered our first overage on the project. We did not give the drywallers the correct specifications over the fireplace. Heck, we did not give them ANY specifications, just left them to their own devices, and they had packed up and left before we realized we weren't happy with what they'd done. Calling them back to expand the size of this wall is going to cost us, but going back to our home building forum, where some people are tens of thousands of dollars over budget before the first concrete is ever poured - I think we can live with a couple hundred dollars. Lesson learned, we hope we don't repeat the mistake, but all is still well.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Our unlucky streak continues

On the weekend, we went to watch the Rubber Duck Race. I know most other communities have long since abandoned these; the newspaper says ours is the last left in Ontario. Well, we’re slow to change I guess, or maybe we just find it really entertaining to dump thousands of rubber ducks in the river year after year. Heck, there were many spectators who brought lawn chairs and plunked themselves down on the boardwalk or in the park to watch, then complained when the winning duck hit the finish line in a mere 15 minutes (in years past, it has taken up to an hour for the lead duck to chart the course). Anyway, we normally buy two ducks each year, name them Liam and Mallory, and then hope against hope that the 12,000:1 odds will work in our favour (which they never have). We’ve never actually watched the race before, but we figured the kids would get a kick out of it, and the event was part of a larger sidewalk sale/farmer’s market/Tastefest event all happening at the same time. So we made a full morning of it – the race, did some shopping, and got in a nice walk downtown and back home again – something that we won’t be doing anymore in 53 days and counting.

Other than that, I spent a large part of my weekend (i.e. every waking-for-me, sleeping-for-the-kids minute) sewing blinds for the new house. My sewing machine came home on Friday after I paid an $80 repair and tune-up bill, which could have been worse: the root cause of my machine’s distress was that it was plugged up with glue. I am relieved that it was fixable at all. I feigned bewilderment to the salesperson, acting shocked that a sewing machine could be plugged with glue, but I think I do know exactly how it got there… a little project I worked on not too long ago. (The fabric glue was not holding the felt, so I ran it through my machine afterward.) The machine is back to working tickety-boo now, and it’s a good thing: I have (roughly) 23 blinds to sew. Time to get crackalackin’. I have two blinds each half done right now, one of which took me absolutely forever on account of the wild geometric pattern on the fabric that was printed crookedly. (Or maybe I just sewed it crookedly. Who knows.) Chad passed by the dining room where I have the blinds neatly folded, awaiting their Velcro/drapery rings/cording, and commented that if anyone saw them right now they would think we are moving into a clown house. Which is his way of saying that my fabric choices are a little busy, and yes, they are, but what can I say? – I am just not a neutral or conservative kind of person. He should have known that when he married me.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A sad post without an accompanying photo, and soon you will know why

A few weeks ago, I was filling a bag with old clothes to drop into one of those Salvation Army donation bins, and to make a long story short, I accidentally donated my favourite shorts away. I realized the mistake the next day, so I went into the store to ask about them. I was able to track down a sweater I had donated, but the shorts were already gone. (Live and learn, I suppose.) The silver lining was that while in the store, I saw a gorgeous old antique dresser. It was an ugly shade of blue but it had pretty turned legs and delicate glass knobs. It was exactly what I have been searching for for Mallory’s room for the longest time – I would paint it white, and hang a mirror I already have over it, and it would be perfect. Then I discovered that it wasn’t for sale; it was for a charity auction the Sally Ann was running, which closed yesterday.

Over the past few weeks I stopped in the store repeatedly to see how high the silent bids on the dresser had climbed, and it was only at $37 last time I went in… until the silent auction closed, followed by verbal bidding on the items. I thought my chances of getting it were good, thinking it had gone relatively undetected, until I pulled into the parking lot and couldn’t even get a space to park ten minutes before the auction started. And when I went in the store, there were two women both getting ready to bid on it. *sigh*

I wound up not getting the dresser, dropping out of the bidding when it hit the $160 mark. One of the women quit around $75 and the other one got it. She had a baby girl with her, not much younger than Mallory, and she was telling the other woman who didn’t get it that she was going to paint it white and put it in her little girl’s room. It could have been me… but it wasn’t. And now, I am totally kicking myself for not going higher. Do I think it was worth $160? No, but I wanted it. Yes, it was a little rickety, and the drawers smelled a little musty, but it was just. So. PERFECT. So charming and cute. I thought it was destiny that I'd found it in the first place, and that getting it would make up for the loss of my favourite shorts. And who knows when I will find another one like it.

Hopefully, soon. Next weekend, a friend and I are heading up to the Grand Bend flea market. Whose-ever (is that a word? :) ) vehicle we wind up taking, we’ll strip out the back seats and leave as much cargo room as possible. Momma needs a dresser for her baby, and it might be my chance to rebound and find one.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

There goes Mother of the Year

As it turns out, Mallory has Roseola. Remember how I just got done saying that I thought something more than teething might be bothering her, and then I corrected and said no, it was just the teeth? I was wrong. She had a few spots on Tuesday, which we attributed to some prickly heat, as she was so intent on being carried around that day. Yesterday they developed into a full-fledged, full-body rash. It certainly explains the fever, lack of appetite and irritability. The good news is that when the spots break out, the worst of it is over… the bad news is that I had to make a couple of “sorry, we’ve exposed you” phone calls yesterday – ugh.

Liam had his own bout of Roseola not even a year ago, and he survived, so I’m sure Mallory will follow suit. She just won’t be pleasant about it is all. The kiddos are at the trailer with Gramma and Grampa today… I hope she is not giving them too hard of a time. We considered not sending her, but in the end we decided to follow through with the original plan. There is nothing you can do to treat Roseola, or teething either, for that matter (and she is definitely still working on another tooth); you just wait for them to pass. We figured sending her to a place she loves with lots to see and do will help the time to pass quickly, and that’s the best we can do for now.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Third time's a charm


Nope, it doesn't seem to want to let me click on it to enlarge. Dangnabbit - three years in and I still don't have this blogging thing figured out.

Looooong weekend

Back to work today, and the kids are back to Cindy's. I just got off the phone with Cindy, actually; I called to check in on Mallory, who seems to be doing OK so long as she's occupied, but is definitely being much clingier and more prone to meltdowns than normal. I was on the verge of taking her to the ER yesterday morning, because for a good hour she was completely inconsolable and I was sure there must be more to it than just her teeth bothering her. I did get a peek at a new incisor that has come through yesterday afternoon though, and Cindy said that she can see Mallory grimacing as she's eating her morning snack. So I think I can rest assured that she is not currently rotting from the inside out due to some flesh eating disease variant.She seemed OK on Friday, when we spent the day out at The Summer Place with Gramma and Grampa Cook. She swam, she ran around, she got up close to the snake Liam found. He's got some good eyes, that kid. Thank goodness Liam found him and kept tabs on his whereabouts. I am just barely OK with snakes when I am prepared for them; I think I would have been out of there if I'd been the one to be surprised by it.I think this was my favourite part of the day. Chad and Liam found some frogs in the swamp grass and Chad was showing Liam how to use a reed to poke the frogs to make them jump. You can see him holding onto Liam by the ankle, because every time one of the frogs jumped, Liam would scream and jump, too. He nearly went over the dock. After they'd been at it for a while, I asked Liam to come to dinner, and he said to Chad, "Tell mom I'm too busy, I have to poke these frogs!"We then went up to Stratford for a couple of days to see my parents. This was the start of Mallory's demise - she spent Saturday and Sunday mostly listless with a fever. So she was not very good company. Liam and I went out pedal-boating again; he was not afraid of being out on the water this year, though he did grow bored with it fairly quickly. When I turned us around at the halfway point to head back to the boathouse, he said we should just keep going in the direction we were headed, back to Grampa Ralph's house. I had to explain to him that even if we pedalled all the way back, there was still no way for us to get out of the water.

On Monday, Chad had to go back to work, and I spent a lazy day puttering around with the kids, including an increasingly fussy Mallory. It kind of put a damper on our long weekend, but I did feel better being able to coddle her myself instead of throwing her to the wolves at Cindy's. Cindy takes very good care of her, but some of the other kids there can be a little rambunctious. I was glad she did not have to put up with them.

After the near-trip to the ER yesterday, we packed up and got out of the house, since it seems that Mallory does best when she is distracted and luckily, there was lots going on to distract her with. We went down to the park for our local Canada Day celebrations. We missed the pancake breakfast (or rather, THEY missed US, since they closed up shop an hour before the advertised cut-off time), but we made up for it with the cow train and bouncy castle (which Liam agreed to try, but did not enjoy; I don't think he likes all the other kids flailing around him and knocking into him). We ate lunch in the park, then walked back home for naps, and when the kids woke up we went downtown again for the parade. Next year, we won't be within walking distance of the festivities. Chalk up a 'con' to moving.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Trying to make the most of it

I am in the midst - well, OK, tail end - of a seriously long weekend - like, 5 days long. The trouble is this little monster, who has been an absolute bear since Saturday at noon. We think there is some molar action going on, though partly I am worried that I will wind up taking her into the ER later this week when she still refuses to settle down and we'll find out that she's actually had a broken leg for a week or something like that... ugh. She is seriously a beast, and part of me feels bad for her, and part of me wants to throw her out the window.

Anyway... we're off to (try to) enjoy some Canada Day festivities... bear and all. Wish us luck!