Monday, June 17, 2013

Wet 'N Wild

Lucy just scared the ever-loving crap out of me. I was on my hands and knees down in the basement, sopping up water that leaked out of the dehumidifier when I emptied it (every. freaking. time. with the leaking water - whussup, dehumidifier??).  It was half an hour or more since I had tucked the munchkins into their beds, and I was (am) alone - M. on an oh-so-convenient "business trip" or whatnot. FACT: He strolled around Burlington, VT and ate Ben and Jerry's ice cream tonight. Does this sound like a "business trip" to you?

Where was I?

Oh, right - I'm muttering to myself as I scrub the carpet and suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, hear a voice right near my ear saying "I'm scared, Mommy." Oh, ho, ho! Who's scared now, little girl?!! Lucy had appeared, silently (why can't she be this quiet when *I* want her to be quiet?), right in front of me in her little wispy nightgown, like a creepy Victorian ghost.

I tucked her back into bed, and now I'm having a gin and tonic.

I'm doing my typical "M. is away, must be super mom/housekeeper/awesome person" that I sometimes do while he is gone.  I've cooked healthy meals. I've taken out the trash. I've bathed the children.  I've done laundry, and PUT IT AWAY (this never happens).  I've played catch with Finn, and taken them both to the special playground I never take them to because it's, in my mom eyes, too dangerous.  Also, our cleaning lady is coming tomorrow, so I spent a high percentage of Sunday and another hour or so tonight CLEANING ALL THE THINGS.  I should note that I would probably do this every time the cleaning lady comes, but this impulse is usually kept in check by M., who would prefer to NOT clean all the things in anticipation of her visit.

And by "clean," I really mean "throw things away."  This is something M. NEVER lets me do - the man is a hoarder, I swear. But since he's gone right now... Bwa ha ha ha!!  (evil laugh. Did that come off as an evil laugh?) I am 1000% certain that he will NEVER miss anything I've thrown away, and yet I know he would have stopped me from doing it.

Bottom line, the house looks nice.  It will cease to look nice by about 5:32 tomorrow evening, which is about 2 minutes after the kids and I will step through the front door.  But for now, it looks nice, and it pleases my soul.  My sister would make fun of me for this, right, Kristin?

One thing I am not doing as part of my crazy-lady-overachiever efforts is exercising.  That's because I'm limited to treadmill-running while M. is away, and my treadmill currently looks like this:

All folded up and moved to the middle of the family room.  Why?  Home owner suckery, is why.  Water in the basement!!!! Gah, what a nightmare! This is the same basement carpet that we had replaced less than two years ago when we had a freak water leak from our newly installed HVAC system (I don't think I blogged about this, as I can't find an old post to link to).  This time, the water was coming through the wall/ground of the house. The ground outside that wall is actually our neighbor's backyard (oh, the joys of townhouse living...) - we've had a lot of rain the last couple of weeks, and clearly it's not draining well.  THEY are not getting water in their basement, but WE are.

Last Tuesday-ish, on a day when there was much rain of the pouring kind, M. and I were turning lights out for the night around 11 pm when we discovered wet carpet beneath our feet over by the treadmill.  The same treadmill I had been running on earlier that night, obliviously.  It was too late to do anything about it that night (other than grump or stew), but the next day launched our "Oh f*ck, how do we deal with this?!" scrambling effort.  Which involves:

Step 1: Argue with husband, who thinks this is no big deal.
Step 2: Go to work. Google lots of things.
Step 3: Find convincing link that describes some stuff to do. Send to husband, who agrees that yes, actually, maybe something should be done. Even though the "something" involves scary-ish DIY stuff that we've never done before.
Step 4: Leave work early. Buy dehumidifier from Walmart. Go home, soak up some water with towels, assemble dehumidifier and turn on; also, aim fan at wet carpet. Pray.
Step 5: Let husband poke around in neighbors yard, where he discovers they have an in-ground drain/catch basin. Clearly someone's had water issues in the past.
Step 6: With much trepidation, pull up wall-to-wall carpeting in one corner of the room. Spy wet carpet padding, wet carpet, and gross, black-ish carpet tack strips.

Step 7: Cut away wet carpet pad, and pull up gross carpet tack strips that crumble at the slightest touch. Notice husband's sexy black socks and shorts.

Step 8: Scrub concrete with soapy water.

Step 9: Flatten out carpet. Run dehumidifier and fan continuously.

Step 10: When rain threatens, fold carpet back from wall again.  Notice that yes, water is still coming into the basement when it rains hard.  Poke around again in neighbors' yard.  Realize their drain is not draining.

Step 11: Make plans to install new drain for neighbors, who are clueless and can't be trusted to do it (Note, drain is not installed yet, what with the aforementioned business trip and all).

Step 12: While kids are rotting their brains with TV, spray a water/vinegar mixture on carpet, let sit for a few minutes, and scrub with dry cloths.  Sprinkle baking soda EVERYWHERE.  Let sit, then vacuum.  Gross musty smell? Gone.

The carpet looks and smells better:

But it's not fixed yet - still need to put down new carpet pad, and figure out how to install new tack strips and stretch the carpet over them. We may need to replace some of the molding, too. BUT, none of that is happening until we make sure we have this leaking water problem fixed.

Oh, to be a renter right now!

Any commiseration stories to make me feel better?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Three Really LONG Takes

Where do I even begin?

I've had all the best intentions of writing here over the last couple of weeks  -  so many great (in my mind!) blog post ideas, but zero follow-through. Instead, this will be a total jumble of updates and whatnot. Consider yourself warned.

1) First, you may be wondering how "Austerity" is going for us. How is life with no cable, limited Target access, little to no eating out? Well, here's the thing - we have cheated a little. We haven't managed to limit ourselves to one meal out a week. But in our defense, we HAVE decreased the frequency a smidgen, and we've increased the GUILT we feel when we do eat out. So kind of a wash, right? As far as Target goes, we have done pretty well - we've mainly stuck to our once-a-month goal. It's a bit misleading, though, because we do end up buying stuff here and there from other stores, like Walmart (gasp! though I hate shopping there, so I'm usually in and out without much fanfare) or the grocery store. But still, I chalk it up as a win. And finally - cable. We are still cable-free, and so far it hasn't been too rough (and the price savings had been GREAT). Though you may want to ask M. to weigh in on that - he was a bit despondent during the NCAA basketball tournament and the Masters. He seems OK now, but it may just be that he's completely given up hope on ever witnessing the thrill of a good game again. I have a feeling the despondency will be back when football season starts up, too.

Also, I will say that the lack of live TV, network or cable, has probably contributed to my infrequent blogging, weirdly enough. Our time in front of the TV is now very purposeful - we select a show to watch, and we watch it. And since these are all shows we are "invested" in, we feel obligated to pay attention. Gone are the days of throwing on HGTV to play in the background while I tool around on the internet. And clearly, gone are the days where M. will put on a baseball game that I can ignore while I blog beside him. There are no baseball games. THERE IS NO HGTV. Not unless I want to pay $1.99 an episode (I do not).

All in all, we are doing well with our goals, but not great. We ARE still making some "unnecessary" purchases, like some new clothes for me and - well, that's really all. I'm the only spoiled one. And we have some house expenses coming up - a mixture of planned and unplanned - that weren't part of the original plan (I'll get to those in a minute, or eventually, depending on how things go here). But we upped our contributions to our savings account by quite a bit, and we're still getting by, so that is a major step in the right direction. Single family home, you will be MINE one day!!

2) Chapter 2 of this novel is Finn. Can you believe school is over in two flipping days?!? I cannot. Finn, of course, can. According to him, the school year has been SO LONG. Said with heaving sigh full of emotion. But goodness, where has the time gone? How do I suddenly have a rising first grader?

I must say that all in all, he has had a really good year, and we couldn't be happier with his elementary school.* Yes, yes, he has had some behavior hiccups. But he HAS shown a lot of improvement in that area, and more than that, he has really gained a lot of confidence academically. Even as late as March or April, he was avowing that he could NOT read - no, uh uh, wouldn't even try. But NOW it's like he's a whole different kid. All it took was reading one or two simple books on his own, and he was off like a rocket. In March, he knew 40 of the 44 "Kindergarten words," and only 6 of the "First Grade words." As of May, he knew all 44 of the Kindergarten words, and 73 of the first grade words. This kid is on fire, and it's so wonderful to witness.

He is also fairly hysterical. I'm finally that mom that has ridiculously cute and funny things that her child has written for school assignments. They all got sent home with Finn today, so hopefully I'll bore you all by photographing them, posting them here, and translating (he may be able to read, but he is not a great speller yet).

By the way, did you know that our elementary school puts together a yearbook for purchase each year? We can buy a copy to treasure forever for the low, low price of $23. Flrpphtp. Really? It takes me back to the dim room off the cafeteria where a group of us poured over photos and layouts and design elements to product my senior yearbook. You know, when I was 18. Why on earth would a 6-year-old, or even an 11-year-old, need a yearbook to memorialize one year of elementary school? What poor person had to put this together? Is this something that happens in your area, too?

Anyway, Finn is so sweet and funny and charming and ah, six is such a great age! Really, I highly recommend it.

There have been a few articles floating around, bringing some attention back to the families affected by the Newtown, CT shooting 6 months ago - really moving, heart-wrenching articles. I can't help but read them, so shocked that someone could wipe out the lives of similarly wonderful, amazing, loving 6- and 7-year-olds. I have been showering Finn with hugs and kisses lately - I just can't help it. I can't imagine the pain those families feel, and yet I can, and my heart breaks thinking of all the "what ifs."

OK, don't want to be too much of a downer, so let's visit "the other hand." As in, Finn is SO great right now, but Lucy, on the other hand..."

3) Lucy, Lucy, Lucy. I had to go back and re-read some of the blog posts I wrote about 2 and a half years ago, to reassure myself that she isn't an especially psychotic child. Luckily (I think?), I was reminded by my past rantings about Finn that all four year olds are... (hmm, searching for non-four-letterish word here) challenging. Yes, particularly CHALLENGING. This too shall pass, amiright?

Some of the stuff she says to us.... and HOW she says it. Oh God, I am in for it. Yes, God with a capital G. This is my payback, and my mother will 100% back me up on this. Her mannerisms, her attempts to cut us to the quick - it's all me. She is me, 32 (or 22) years ago.

She already tells us we are the worst parents IN THE WORLD. Worst. That is a direct quote.

But oh goodness, I still love her so much, despite it all. And she gets just as many hugs and kisses as Finn, no worries there. Who could help it, really?

In more charming news, Lucy had her first "real" dance recital last weekend. She did have a small one back in December, but it was a simple deal and there were no costumes involved. This was the real thing - two costumes, stage make-up, a dress rehearsal, an audience full of dressed-up family members holding flowers, etc. Despite the fact that her class has been working on their two numbers since January, Lucy only knew about two steps of the tap number. This may not be her calling. And don't get me started on the lack of technique I saw in the older girls (does no one point a toe or straighten a knee these days?!?!? My former dance teachers would have cringed), so even if it is her calling (one day), this may not be the dance school we go with for the long haul. However, she did passably well during the ballet number, and looked damn cute in both costumes. Lucky for you, I captured the momentous occasion on film. With very poor videography skills, I might add.

Ballet was first. You should note that I accidentally focused on the wrong girls at first, because I was too busy looking through the camera screen to make sure I was in focus. Lucy is the third one from the right end of the line:

And here is the tap number. She spent a lot of time seemingly fiddling with her costume under her arms. Not sure what was going on there. If you ask her, she nailed it - got all the steps down. I'm pretty sure her feet didn't move. But again, cute. And maybe she was just REALLY nailing the ducky arms? Not sure. She's the fourth one from the right this time, though in a lot of the video it looks like she's third from right (I cut off the last girl in line):

And a few still photos from the event:

At home, post make-up but pre-costume

Primping in the dressing room before the ballet dance

Rubber duckie!!

I have more to blog about (home renovations! Exercise! Recipes! Some other stuff I can't remember right now!), but I've run out of steam. It's late, and I'm tired. More soon, I hope.

*except for all the Chick Fil A fundraisers that were constantly shoved down our throats. I could have done with WAY less of that.