Monday, August 25, 2008

Having had the best of intentions

It's moving week. Moving week!! Arrrrgh. I think I can count the number of things we have to do this week on the fingers of one hand. Of every person in China.

So what do you do on the last weekend you have to really get stuff done before you move, when you are encountering a loaves-and-fishes type phenomenon (namely, that no matter how much you pack, you open your cupboard and closet doors and always find more)? Well number one, you go out of town to attend a party, of course. These two just bought a house and threw a housewarming party. We told Liam there was a party at Uncle Darin and Aunt Jenn's house that we would be going to after his nap, and he was so excited that he immediately went upstairs and put himself to bed. Love that kid.

And then, because it's not like time is at a premium or anything, you spend two hours in the ER waiting room with Mallory after she has a choking incident. It's a long and bizarre story, and she's fine (of course), but she gave us a good scare. And her timing, as usual, was impeccable.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lazy summer days

We're back from our little getaway... which was a lot of fun, and totally relaxing.

My favourite parts were the fun. And the relaxing.

My least favourite part was when Liam developed a prolapsed rectum. (This was going to be a post in and of itself, but I decided I didn't want to make your eyeballs bleed by describing it in detail. You can Google it if you want to.) It cleared itself up and he's fine, but ay yi yi - you never want your child's insides hanging outside of his body!! If I had known parenthood was going to be like this...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

For Aunt Deb: family reunion recap

You said you wanted Brady to make the blog... here you go!! He's cute enough that he would have made it even if you hadn't put in the request. :)Here's Brady giving Mallory a kiss good-bye... I guess this is what kissing cousins look like?? (Or second cousins, or first cousins once removed... I never can remember how it goes.)I am happy to say that I just got home from the house - I went over to do some painting - and our kitchen guy was still there at 11:30 p.m., working away to right all the wrongs that have cropped up over the past few days. I now feel about 103.4% better about going out of town for a few days... it's really coming along, and it's all going to work out in the end.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another progress report - the one where I really start to crack under the pressure

I haven't done a progress report lately because frankly, thinking about the house stresses me out, and it's starting to be the last thing I want to think about when I have a free minute. Things went from bad to worse today - lovely, huh? After all the kitchen drama, I stopped by the house last night and discovered that the trim carpenter had finished the wainscoting in the dining room, and I was thrilled. It looked gorgeous, and made the vexing effort of laying the whole pattern out in Photoshop so, so worth it. I'd say the carpenter nailed it, right?
Well, that was all fine and good, and it was such a happy surprise to see it up and looking so good that I was only mildly annoyed to be out there spray-painting where I want my front sidewalk to go when it was already well after dark. I hope they didn't take my wobbly lines too literally. (Actually, Chad dropped by today just as they were arriving to set the forms and he heard someone crack a joke about what overzealous idiot painted the lines on the ground to guide the way. Ummm... our builder told us to.)So at lunch today, Chad and I decided to drop by the house, because after two and a half weeks of delays and excuses, the cabinet guy said he would be 90% of the way done by day's end. I was also excited to show Chad the wainscoting. He thought it looked great too, but our happiness was short-lived when we met up with Cabinet Dude.

The mudroom cubbies weren't measured properly, and run smack into an outlet. It will have to be moved, at our cost.
He glazed the perimeter cabinets but didn't glaze the finish on the island.
The end panels we discussed weren't done, and he's acting like we never discussed them. (I was happy when Chad dug up some documentation at home tonight to prove that we had.)
This, of course, all comes after we had the issue with the glass door inserts and the plate rack cabinet and the finish on the visible cabinet interiors - argh, argh, argh. Also, the kitchen guy and his helpers put a couple small scratches and a dent in our floors. I had to get on my hands and knees to see them, but they are there. *sigh* (Actually, I am very pleased with how well the floors are holding up so far - there is a heck of a lot of traffic, equipment and people moving in and out right now, and they are still gleaming. Maybe I am worried over nothing (and a discussion with our trim carpenter a couple days ago let me know that he thinks they are a lot more bulletproof than I may be giving them credit for.)Meanwhile, we are still also majorly concerned that the cabinetry get done, because our builder is starting to come down on us for the cabinet guy (a contractor we hired ourselves) to be holding up his subs. Bathroom counters come on Monday, and until today the master bath vanity hadn't been anywhere in sight. Have I mentioned that the counters come while we are out of town and therefore unable to supervise/catch whatever muck-ups are likely to happen as a result?And, there are other little stresses weighing on us. The driveway, sidewalks and patio are being poured, and we have expanded the size of the sidewalks and patio (more $$). Our too-nosy neighbour, who has taken the liberty to advise us on everything from the brand of ceiling fan to the size of air conditioning unit we install, keeps telling us it's a mistake to pour the driveway - we should be letting the lot settle for 2 years first like he did, to prevent cracking. (Our builder, who has been pouring foundations for 15+ years, thinks there's been enough rain this summer to settle everything well, our lot has no fill in it to need to settle, and frankly, I am at the point where I am willing to accept the risk of a crack down the road just to have the whole darn project over and done with now.) It seemed like a great idea to have the cabinet guy install the built-ins and fireplace mantel unfinished to save us about $1000, but now we are kicking ourselves, because when on earth will we ever have the time to get around to painting them?And you know what else is bugging me? I spent all that time and money shopping for compact fluorescent bulbs for the whole house, and some of them SUCK. They're dark and the light they throw comes in funky colours. So I'm going to uninstall some of them... one more chore to add to the list.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Farenheit rising

This week has been stressful. My usually pristine fa├žade (ha!) is starting to crack. I am ready to be done with building a house, and done with moving altogether.

Last month, we were 2 weeks ahead of schedule on our build, and now we will be lucky to finish on time. The greatest factor contributing to the about-face is the kitchen guy. We found a guy who does custom cabinetry on his own, out of his own workshop, as an after-hours business. He was able to give us much higher quality for a much better price than the local cabinet shops. He seemed like a lucky find… until we realized that because he is a one-man show, and life often gets in the way, he wouldn’t be able to move as quickly as the cabinet shops do. He’s been installing our kitchen for a few weeks now. We are well past the original deadline we had for getting it in, and there have been a few snags along the way, too – a wrong piece of cabinetry here or there, the wrong glass in the doors. As I see our project timeline slipping, I am more and more hesitant to ask him to fix things, knowing they will only back matters up further. But then again, do I want to live with something I’m unhappy with for the next 20-30 years? – I think not.

The kitchen guy is holding up the trim guy, who still needs to do the wainscoting, baseboards, and staircase. He won’t do the stairs until the bathroom vanities are in. The kids’ is in; ours is not, though we have bathroom countertops arriving on Monday, so I certainly hope the vanity is in by then. The plumber can’t come until the counters are in, and we may be looking at paying for a second trip from the plumber, since our kitchen counters *may* not be in by the time we move in, and the kitchen sink may therefore need to be plumbed at a later date.

We are planning to go out of town for a few days next week for some R&R, though all the changes and delays have us now wondering how smart that will be – what if something goes terribly wrong while we’re gone, and it’s too late to change it by the time we are back??

I had all this brewing in the back of my mind last night when I went to pick up the kids from Cindy’s. “See you tomorrow!” I waved as we walked out the door. “Ummm, no you won’t,” said Cindy, “my vacation starts tomorrow – didn’t you know?” I thought she was starting vacation on Friday; I was wrong, and I nearly had a heart attack. Both Chad and I had work commitments today that we couldn’t get out of. Gramma Cook was able to shift a few appointments and pick up a few groceries in time to accommodate us, but I am definitely thinking we need a plan B – we might not be so lucky next time.

Then, I got stood up again last night by yet another person swearing via email that they want to come buy my coffee table, only to bail on me. Arrrgh!!!

It’s also not helping matters any (I’m sure) that the Olympics are forcing me to stay up way past my usual bedtime, and I am getting progressively more cranky and tired and irritable as the week wears on. I’m sorry, it’s just not as exciting to watch the recaps the following morning as it is to see something unfold live. And yes, it’s vitally important that I see how these beach volleyball matches turn out. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

World War III: Russia vs USA, or Liam vs Mallory?

Some would say that Russia's recent invasion of Georgia brings the long-dormant cold war back to the world stage, that Putin has been lying in wait to make such a move, and that the USA is almost certain to go to war with Russia as a result. I think that's a stretch, personally. I don't think World War III is going to be Russia vs the USA, even if the fate of an oil pipeline hangs in the balance. Partly that's optimism, and partly that's because I think I know where World War III is going to take place: Mallory's bedroom.

Back when Mallory was just a babe, I stumbled upon a Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse at a yard sale for $5, and I snatched it up. Since then I have slowly been acquiring bits of furniture and dolls for it whenever I find a good buy on eBay or make a lucky thrift store discovery. One thing we've been sorely lacking to date has been any sort of bed, short of the baby's cradle, so whenever Liam and Mallory have been playing dollhouse, they abandon the part of the storyline where the dolls tucker out and go get some shuteye. However, Liam does keep asking for a bed.

It must be said that Mallory, of course, does not really play dollhouse, and especially not with any discernible sort of storyline; she just likes to do what Liam is doing. He sets the furniture up, she knocks it down. Cause and effect. Naturally, this causes Liam to go bananas. We have five dolls: mom, dad, big brother, big sister, and baby girl. You'd think that should be plenty to go around, but what can I say? - Liam is a hoarder.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I made a lucky eBay find, and for a winning bid of $8.50 I got 4 beds, 2 toilets, 3 sinks, a bathtub and a cat. We already had a sink and a toilet, but that was a heck of a deal to get the beds, and who can't use another full bathroom? (Certainly not us - that's a key reason why we're moving, after all!) I was thinking maybe I would re-sell the pieces we don't need, though Liam seems pretty attached to them already, so maybe we'll just hang onto them and use them to start cluttering up the new house right from Day 1. We received the shipment of toys in the mail yesterday, and had a good time opening the box to check them out.

About Liam being attached to them... after dinner and a walk last night, we went upstairs to play dollhouse with our new pieces for a bit before bathtime, and the battle that ensued was something fierce. Picture Liam clutching four dolls (the 5th is currently AWOL in the moving madness) and four beds, running down the hall screaming and trying to get away from Mallory, who was chasing him like a zombie, arms outstretched, attempting to get a bed away from him. Or a doll, for that matter. Or ANYTHING. Because when Liam wants to keep something to himself that badly, it makes her want it all the more, too.

It was useless trying to explain to Liam that he did not need all four beds, or all 4 dolls, for that matter. He was past the point of listening. Just the other day I was reading a magazine article that said to buy your kids two of everything (assuming you have two kids) so that they each have one and there are no fights. Whoever wrote that doesn't know Liam, because two of the beds we received were identical, and that didn't make him want either one of them any less. And of course, the irony of it all is that technically, this is supposed to be Mallory's dollhouse.

Eventually I played the "because I said so!" card (translation: "I have run out of other ideas") and insisted that the dollhouse be packed up so that bathtime could commence. That was enough excitement for one night. We will see how things go tonight... if the new doll furniture proves to be more hassle than it's worth, it might well be the next thing that gets packed up under the guise of moving, and stored away somewhere for a little while.

(Chad helped Liam catch a frog the last time we were out at the trailer. He kept it in his bug cage for a bit, helped Gramma look it up and identify it in a wildlife book, and then took it back out to the dock to set it free. Once she saw Liam with a frog, Mallory grabbed the net and attempted to catch something of her own, too, though all she did was nearly take out an eye.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympic dream

So, I've been watching a lot of the Olympics lately. It's nice to have something on in the background while we clean/sort/purge/pack, and it's funny how much my interest in something like water polo increases when it's at the Olympics. I even thought the opening ceremonies, which I normally can't stand (interpretive dance detailing the formative years of foreign countries? - not really my thing) were pretty good. The architecture of the venues is interesting.

And I was thinking, despite all the ruckus about whether China deserves to have the Olympics or not, that it was going well, that maybe this was the opportunity the Chinese needed to turn things around. I liked seeing George Bush sitting in the stands watching the events. Michael Phelps and his eight gold medals, blah blah blah. Everything is all warm and fuzzy - exactly as the Olympics should be. (Except for the fact that, to date, Canada has not won a single medal. But I digress.)

Then, I saw this.

And then, I saw this.

And now I'm starting to rethink my plans to pick up some Chinese takeout and kick back and celebrate a bit during the next big competition or closing ceremonies. The Olympics have lost some of the warm fuzzies for me. Throw a good doping scandal into the mix, and I'm done.

Monday, August 11, 2008

This is what moving looks like

Thanks to a major score at the liquor store on the weekend, we have more boxes than we will ever know what to do with - I hope - and packing efforts are majorly underway. With 2.5 weeks left until the move, I am sure we will be ready for it. I'm sure it will be chaotic and exhausting and messy and stressful, but we will be ready for it. Right now you can barely walk through our living room (which is fully one half of one story of our house) due to the number of boxes in it - full boxes that are labelled and neatly stacked, empty boxes that are chucked every-which-way, and Liam and Mallory's special boxes that crop up here and there: one containing Liam's Wiggles guitar, which he deems to be fully packed. One that, at one point, contained all of the kids' DVDs, though within a few minutes Liam changed his mind and decided that he wasn't really ready to say goodbye to all of them for an indefinite period of time. That's the way it goes with him - he gets all into packing, and then unpacks everything again once he's come to his senses. There are three boxes full of stuffed animals lining the upstairs hall, though I noticed he pulled a couple out to take to bed last night.

I was hoping to further de-clutter our space by listing a few things we no longer want or need on, which has to suffice for us, since we don't have a local Craigslist to use. In typical Kijiji fashion though, I got five emails yesterday asking if items were still available and swearing that they would be by the same day to pick them up. But by the time we went to bed last night, not a single person had knocked on the door. Arrrgh!!

We took advantage of a three-day weekend to make a run out to Park's blueberry farm on Friday. We got the requisite how-tall-this year shots of the kids: Mallory, unable to stand still even for a second to let me take a snap:
And Liam, willing to stand still but not willing to look at me; probably daydreaming instead about the blueberry-oatmeal-cream cheese bars and blueberry macaroons we picked up at the bakery before heading home:Otherwise, it was a great weekend for packing: cold and rainy. Seriously, is this August or is this October? We suited the kids up in their boots and raincoats on Saturday afternoon and went out for a walk, which they thought was a real treat. Sometimes, simple is best.In other good news, we got the TV that was zapped during that storm a few weeks ago back, and the repair job was free! We weren't expecting that, since the warranty clearly states that damage due to power surges is not covered. Good thing though - when we dug out the receipt for the TV prior to taking it in for repair, I realized it was a lot more expensive TV than I'd originally thought - if it had bitten the dust after just 7 months, I would have been ticked. As if this weren't already the most expensive year of our lives...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Sixteen months

Oh come on... you don't think I forgot last month, do you??

Thursday, August 07, 2008

No pictures, please

(Alternate title: Mallory does Bono)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Something sweet for my sweetie girl

This, my friends, is what you can find in the garbage when you least expect it. This is the dresser that Chad and I found while riding our bikes past the cottages on Lakeshore Road a few weeks ago. My latest DIY project, following the blind-sewing marathon, has been fixing it up, and it didn't take much: some wood glue and wood filler to smooth out a few rough spots where the veneer was cracked or loose or missing; some primer, followed by two coats of alkyd finish paint (I chose a colour called Sugar Cookie - there were so many off-whites to choose from that it became overwhelming, and in the end, Sugar Cookie sounded like the perfect shade to have in a little girl's room.) Then I added new hardware - found these gorgeous glass knobs at D. Lawless Hardware. The finishing touch was a roll of pink and brown striped wrapping paper, which I used to line the drawers.The whole thing turned out so pretty - I can't wait to get it out of our wreck of a garage, and into Mallory's room (though I think I will wait and put it in the new house; no sense lugging it up the stairs at home now if it's only going to have to come back down in a few weeks.) I hope she likes it. If not, I might have to find a spot in my own room for it.

(I thought I'd uploaded a pic of Mal to go with this post, but now it seems to have disappeared. Hmmmm...)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

What's new with us

This little twerp has begun trying to climb out of her crib when we put her down for a nap or put her to bed. She will stand up in the crib and heft one leg over the railing - then get stuck, resulting in pitiful wailing. The trouble is, the pitiful wailing actually begins when we put her in the crib and leave the room - so how are we to know if the pitiful wailing means she is stuck or not? *sigh* I think we have one lower setting we can drop the crib mattress to, and we will do that tonight. I am sooooo not ready to move her to a bed - there will be no containing her at all if she is not in a crib. If that lower mattress setting does not exist, heaven help us.I pulled some late nights and finished two more blinds for the new house on the weekend, the last one being one for Liam's room. He came into the dining room where I have them all piled the morning after I finished it and said, What's that? I said, It's a blind for the new house... do you know where it's going? He said no, and I said, It's for your room. And he said - get this - I don't like that one, I don't want it in mines room. Ooooh, I could have clocked him. Not really, but kind of, you know? (In case you haven't noticed - the whole sewing-of-blinds business has me a little testy.) So he earned little twerp status, too.

(The photo is from when he decided, all on his own, to climb one of the trees in front of our house. Captain had gotten out of the house earlier, and ran up the neighbour's magnolia tree - I guess it got Liam thinking that he could be a tree-climber, too.)We had a lot going on this weekend - friends in from out of town, and us going out of town to attend a wedding - but in the midst of it all, I also managed to start packing - about 20 boxes' worth. Not making much of a dent in the grand scheme of things, but a healthy start at least. Liam saw me packing, with all the bubble wrap and packing paper and whatnot that I have thus far been lucky enough to not have had to furnish on my own (thanks to some friends and family who have recently been through the moving process) - and when I explained to him what I was doing and why, he decided that he was going to start packing his things, too. Except that he then started hoarding all my bubble wrap for things like his fire helmet (here). And he would take a big foam sleeve, perfect size for packing our good china dinner plates in, and use it to pack ONE wooden block. The fact that his things are all made of unbreakable materials was kind of lost on him, and now I am short on packing supplies.

I'm also not sure that he understands he is now going to have to go 3+ weeks without his fire helmet.The floors are in on the main floor, and they are gorgeous, and I have been worried sick about them ever since they went in. We went with bamboo, and now I am thinking, why on earth did we ever decide to go with bamboo? I knew they were softer than some hardwoods, and I was willing to live with that when we ordered them - but now that they are in, and they're so purdy, I'm thinking the first person to scratch them babies is DEAD MEAT... yes, I like my things to be cosmetically mint and yes, I know that with kiddos, that is not likely to last for long. Sorry ladies, there will be no stiletto-wearing allowed in our house! Our cabinet maker, bless his heart, has the whole great room floor covered with moving blankets and cardboard protection. He must know how anal I am.

No anecdote to go with this photo... just a cute pic of the lil' miss.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Are we there yet??

Well, crap. I had a big post written, and Blogger ate it. It's been ages since that happened to me. Damn damn damn!

To make a long story short:

* I haven't been to the new house all week. The whole main floor has flooring in, and I haven't seen it yet. I'm excited to; I just needed a break from all the shuttling back and forth.
* Cabinetry install begins next week, which is going to be one of the busiest weeks of the project. Kitchen, bathroom vanities, laundry room cupboards, fireplace mantel, built in bookcases and mudroom lockers... all within a week. Ay yi yi. That will be a lot to keep on top of.
* It's August. We're moving this month. I have packed three boxes to date. EEEEEK.
* I have sewn 11 blinds in the past few weeks, and if I never see my sewing machine again, it will be too soon. Seriously, I want to plow through two more of them this weekend, but whatever is not done by the time the weekend is over will have to wait until after the move. It's crunch time: we have a house to pack up, and those aforementioned lockers and bookcases? - they're being installed unfinished to save us some serious $$. So we have some painting ahead of us. The countdown is on.