Wednesday, September 30

Under Threat of Harm, The Year Of Joy Recap

I'm blogging! I'm blogging! (I'm starting to get scary phone calls and emails!) So, do you remember that 2009 is slated in my book as "The Year of Joy"? Since it's hard to blog with all that pressure *aherm*, I thought maybe a quick recap of where the Year of Joy has gone thus far would be in order. It's not over, yet, but it is flying by!

It began with a bit of a bang - the whole Stranded in the Boonies with the 20- something% Sales Tax thing. An impacted wisdom tooth (and its extraction), and then a doctor whose nonprofessional attitude cost us a *lot* of money and time, getting to the root of the problem.

The Suburban finally died a cranky, Shakespearean-style death. Two procedures for the kidney thing. There's still something wrong with my arm from the heplock. The kids' pediatrician has had his license suspended. I won't even go into the political scene right now, but suffice it to say there's been little joy on that front, for us. (I get that it's been quite joyful for some. I do.) The garden has leprosy. The pear trees developed mange. Some days, we've been pretty sure EmBaby has rabies. The deck still doesn't have stairs on the front, and there are still no screens on the doors. Zorak hasn't had his sinus surgery yet, so nobody's slept well in... oh, about 14 years.

But, wait. Is there joy in there? Yes, there is. There's a lot of joy in 2009! Allow me to expound.

I'll bold the Joy.

Along the way, we've been blessed with kind-hearted, loving souls, from the lady who brought us diapers in Arkansas, to the sweet friend who loaned us her vacuum for the appraisal... From phone-friends who have made us laugh, and made us think, to family who teach and guide and encourage... From finally finding a church home, to developing deepening friendships locally... From building slushmen on the balcony to catching fireflies in the lower meadow. We finished the bathroom and have two working toilets! We've had a number of wonderful afternoons with the kids, and splendid evenings together without the kids.

We've learned and stretched and grown. We've worked together, and learned how to work together better than ever before. We've been able to help others in many ways. And we've been helped in many ways. The kids are all a year older, healthy, happy, and loved. We all have a better idea of what won't work in the garden. There's a plan for next year's garden! (It may not work, but that's not the point.)

So. Much. Joy. Sometimes, I don't know where to begin. We didn't expect that this would be the Year of Nothing Challenging. Where's the joy in that? This truly is The Year of Joy, and sometimes, Joy arrives in the most delightful places, just where you need it the most. Where do you find your Joy?

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, September 17

2nd Bathroom in the Forever Home!

Technically, it did not just take us 14 days to build a bathroom. Not only was there a ton of finish work on other projects to complete (because we're just not so much about the finish work, really), but we seem to have angered the toilet gods mightily. The toilet pictured is the *fourth* commode this week - however, it's the first to have both a matching tank/bowl, the first not to spritz water against the back wall like a deranged bidet, and the first to have all its pertinent parts (present and facing the proper direction). So while it may not be our favorite, it works, it's in, and, heaven help us, it's staying.

Not to mention, after four years in a one-bathroom home, 14 days seems silly to fret over. However, we've gone from this, a few days into the project, to this:

Taken from the pocket door, looking in. I love this room.

Still at the door, looking straight in. I know, the turquoise towel throws it off a bit. Truthfully, when I needed a towel at two in the morning, I wasn't worried about which color I grabbed. The recessed vanity cabinet is a favorite feature. We thought we'd have to go with a pedestal, because of the cramped quarters. But this gives us the best of both worlds - cabinet room, smaller footprint, and a nifty sink that makes us smile. (Best of all worlds, then? Since there are three points?)

And, standing *in* the shower, looking back. Love the light fixture, but those itty bitty bulbs are 50watt halogen bulbs. I'll put the other two in later, when we aren't working and sweating in there. Too. Much. Heat. However, come winter, I'm sure it'll be handy. And the ceiling details - Zorak's "racetrack". Love it!

The walls are really gorgeous in person. My phone camera didn't quite do it justice, and I'm far too impatient to keep trying for a good shot when these are at least somewhat in focus. This bathroom is narrow (4.5' stud-to-stud) and long (10', thanks to the wall we'd pushed out). I don't even remember how the original bathroom was laid out, other than that the shower was barely big enough for one person to turn around, but not for said person to bend down or raise arms. Weird.

And, now, the house is pretty much finished. Or, more accurately, Phase One is pretty much finished. If it'll ever stop raining for more than six hours at a time, we can put the last of the deck stain on the balcony, and the porch off the master bedroom needs to be pulled off and replaced with something that remotely resembles the balcony. (I'll have to post a side-by-side of those two - it's a jarring, and rather humorous, contrast.) We still have to finish the awful (as in, wow-this-is-inexpensive-and-wonderful-but-good-hell-what-were-we-thinking) project of rehabbing the storm windows. And screen doors would be nice. Oh, and the window. But, if things go as we hope they'll go, the Big Kitchen Window will be the next project to get done! Still, that all seems like such simple little weekend projects, now. It's... weird.

The children seem to have lost only a modest amount of their civility, with those most affected being Smidge and EmBaby, who snarl if you touch them while they're eating, and have taken to marking one another's "territory" (thankfully, thus far, with toys, not urine - another week, and who knows how things might have gone!) Jase seems oblivious - evidently, he's used to being raised by wolves. The older two have held up well - being aware of the calendar and the general passage of time helps, I'm sure. The past 14 days haven't felt nearly as long for them as three days' worth of writing assignments!

And so ends another project with the family intact, and the house getting better as we go.

I think, on payday, we're going to do something fun just for the kids. They've been troopers.

Wednesday, September 9

Sweet, Sweet Six

Six? Wow. He's so happy about it. We are, too. We're just a bit caught off guard. Six? I blame Jess and Andie for letting their kids turn six. Then everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and do it, too. (Keep 'em off the bridges, okay, guys?)
Since we're *still* in the middle of the Mad Rush To Finish, we all agreed that a belated, joint party, later would be best. When we're done with the Madness and the Rushing and can relax a bit. He was good with that. So very good with that, really. But still... *today* was his birthday.
So this morning, there were fudge ripple pancakes (from The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks), and there was singing, and there were phone calls that made him smile a sheepish smile.
For tonight, he picked shrimp scampi, with salad and garlic bread for supper. And for his cake? Cheesecake. The four-pack sampler from Sam's, to be specific. I love that kid, and his taste in food.
And now, he is six.

Kiss those babies!

(The pics are bad b/c they're from my phone. The camera finally died a horrific death and needs to be shuffled off to ICU. Later. After the rushing and the madness have died down, and I can get it boxed up.)

And the beat goes on...

The kids have all been absolute troopers this week, and their willingness to pitch in on any level has made this project so much more enjoyable. It's been neat, though, to see how they work. They're each getting more and more into their own "thing", and while it does remind me that Dora won't stick around forever, it's also nice to be able to enjoy them where they are, at each turn.

John loves to turn on music and jam out while we work. His taste runs a little to the hard-rock side, and we're not sure how that happened. So, we compromise with an eclectic mix of radio stations and CD's - some of what he loves, with a little other stuff to keep the rest of us from getting to high-strung or twitchy. His favorite is a band called Hand Over Fist, out of Prescott, AZ. Funny, we had that CD for eight years and never played it all the way through, but that's the first one he asks for when we get in the car these days.

James has taken to downloading Mark Levin podcasts to listen to while he works. He gets a lot done this way, since each one is almost 50 minutes long. But I have to have him physically turn the thing off and stuff the ear buds into his pocket when I'm giving him directions or he'll slowly tilt his head to the side, trying to get his ear close enough to hear it while I'm talking. It's actually kind of funny, and I will admit that occasionally, when in need of entertainment, I'll not say anything for a while, just to see how far he twist while still maintaining eye contact with me. When he realizes what's going on, he blushes and stuffs the thing away with a sheepish little grin. Then he's all mine. Such a funny, sweet kid.

Smidge and Em are... Smidge and Em. They bicker like a married couple, but stick together like glue. They're so good to each other in small, constant ways, that the bickering is bearable, though. And Jase? Well, he's teething. Molars. Hyland's and Desitin to the rescue!

Today is a big and busy day, and we're really looking forward to it. And, then, tonight, perhaps, hopefully, I can texture the bathroom walls! (It was SO humid yesterday. Then, finally, it just rained and got it over with. When it stopped raining, the air glistened for the rest of the day. Not droplets on the leaves. The actual air. It wasn't quite like fog - just Very Wet Air. We didn't even try to work with Things That Need To Dry yesterday.)

Kiss those babies!

Monday, September 7

OK, that didn't work.

The joint compound would. not. dry. this weekend. Just wouldn't dry. And so, we still do not have a functioning bathroom. (Took me five minutes to type this. This is why I only blog at night, when everybody is in bed. Obviously, I am not alone at the moment.) However, we did get up more trim, more do-dads, and got a plan for something that we didn't realize needed a plan until we got to it and it wouldn't work.

Anyway, the upshot is that Jason hasn't figured out where we are all day, so at least we have hope that he won't get in there and help with the texturing, when we get to it. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that we could potentially pee in peace for a week or so before he figures it out!

Everything else is done that can be done, for now. And now, we wait. And pray for an arid few days. And a breeze. That'd be handy, too.

What'd you all do this weekend?

Kiss those babies!

Project Blogging! Master Bath

We've been camped out in here...
"Somebody" was supposed to send for help, but we suspect they got distracted. Netflix Watch Instantly and a box of Cheez-Its, and hey, who needs parents, right?

We think we'll be done tomorrow. If not, I may just move the computer back there, so we can keep in touch. We have wireless; the kids won't miss a thing on Netflix.

In the meantime, we've also finished up most of the remaining (OK, "neglected") details on the house. Baseboards painted, door trims painted, ugly basement door in hall painted, previously painted doors re-hung (doors are over-rated, really). I even had John take the air return grille out and scrub it off with a brush and the jet blaster on the garden hose! Evidently, it's white. Huh.

And, we've taken out the Ghetto Adobe Pink in the kitchen (we love it, but it's too close to Kraftmaid's "Toffee Maple" finish, so there wasn't the *POP* we wanted) and replaced it with a creamy creamish cream color (which is not "white", okay? and yes, cream can *POP*. Really, it can) and green. Both, on one of the walls! I got a little nuts. Zorak still isn't sure if he's going to leave me unsupervised with the paint cans, again. But I *love* it! I used KathyJo's method of painting -- literally, called her up and begged her to hold my hand and walk me through it -- she is very patient with slow people. And I *LOVE* it.

I'll get pictures later, when the fridge is back in place, and all the other random things are not in the middle of the floor. Things always look worse right before they look better. Or, that's what I tell Zorak, anyway.

Kiss those babies!