Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I thought my hair was gray before

It is a roller coaster of emotion around here. One minute I'm stressed and pulling my hair out and feeling completely demoralized about the house hunt and the next I'm panicked at the possibility that the buyers will pull out. If you talked to me on Sunday or Monday, I was practically in tears because I was sure we'd made a mistake and I wanted to retract our acceptance. I spent quite a bit of time railing at Josh that the buyers had BETTER not ask us for ONE CENT because I was NOT SELLING, DAMNIT! Today, the day of the actual inspection, I'm a bundle of nerves because I don't want them to back out. I am feeling a tiny bit better about our chances of finding a new house because I found some month to month housing in a nearby town. At least we won't be homeless.

The current plan (if they don't back out, that is) is to close on August 7th, and if we haven't found a house by then, the kids and I will go live with my inlaws for a few weeks (hold me), while Josh stays with a friend near Boston. If we haven't found a house by September, we will move back from the Berkshires to live in the month to month housing so Gabe can start his toddler program on time. That closing date is pretty ambitious, and I'm assuming I won't be able to find another house by then, so our stuff will go into storage for a bit. If I find another house by next week, we may ask them to push the closing back by a week or so, but we're not opposed to spacing the closings out because it will give us the opportunity to save a bit of money.

Of course, all of this talk of spacing out the closings gives me hives because there is too much for me to worry about. I lie awake at nights thinking about interest rates and housing markets and the multitude of ways we may end up being screwed if housing prices go up after we've pulled our money out of the market. I have to talk myself off the ledge every few hours, to be honest.

One step at a time, I guess. I'm waiting to hear back about the inspection (in which they found nothing major, as far as my broker and I are concerned, but you never know with buyers), and I'm methodically checking out houses on my list in the towns we like. My poor children are bored and frustrated, between the house hunting and the rainy, gloomy weather. We can all use some fun this weekend and a small break from the anxiety of the situation.

Oh, and your comments about possibly being pregnant gave me an anxiety attack just imagining it. I'd love another baby, but a pregnancy now would really and truly shoot me straight over the edge without a parachute. Talk about perspective!!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


When I went to the hospital to have Gabriel, I was being induced because he'd had a drop in his heart rate, and when I became visibly agitated, my OB assured me that if the induction didn't go the way we were hoping, the doctors would probably send me home. I spent the first few hours of the induction in a state of denial, and I kept repeating to Josh and to the doctors and nurses that we weren't really having a baby, I was probably going home. After a few hours of this, the OB on call finally turned to me and said, "Honey, you are NOT going home. You are having this baby, one way or another, TODAY." She left the room and I immediately burst into tears, because WHAT THE HELL? We're having a baby?

That is how I feel right now. For the last two weeks I have been telling Josh and anyone else who would listen, that we were just testing the market and would probably not get any offers and this certainly didn't mean we were selling the house. We were just going to try listing the house and see what happens.

One hour after the end of the open house, we got an offer. For asking price. With no contingencies. They only gave us 2 hours to respond in the hopes of avoiding a bidding war, so we accepted.

As my realtor keeps telling me, there are many steps between today and closing day, but I once again burst into tears as soon as she told me the details of the offers because I guess we're selling our house. And I really wasn't ready.

I'm thrilled to have an offer, of course, and thrilled at the possibility of starting over in a new place, but for now I'm weepy and feeling like I'll never love another house the way I love this one. Still, though, we're so lucky to have this opportunity. Let's hope something good is out there for us.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

we're screwed on the stainless steel front, though

Oh my goodness, we are REALLY doing this. The house is almost (as long as I don't sleep between now and Sunday) done. The exterior is painted. I finished the basement. I did a small remodel of the downstairs bathroom. I'm almost done painting allllll the trim in the whole house. We redid the ceiling in the living room (with blueboard and plaster) and except for the repainting of the ceiling trim, it is finished. We are decluttering like crazy people. We have rearranged shelves and moved furniture around and taken tons of stuff out. The kids have been thoroughly neglected and watched enough television to last them the year. By God, we have granite countertops, which as you know from watching HGTV, are the cornerstone of a good house.

The papers are signed, we've agreed on a price, and the open house is on Sunday. Now all we can do is wait and see and furiously paint and clean while we're waiting and seeing. If the right offer comes in at the right price, then I guess we're moving.

I still have serious reservations about the whole thing because I really really really love my house. It is so cute and homey and lovely and perfect for us, but the truth is that we are cramped and my parents and inlaws have to sleep on a blowup mattress in the living room when they visit. Josh complains constantly about having the kids toys all over our living room all the time, and I'm tired of having no space to put anything anywhere. Still, though, I'm torn about moving and my one hope is that when we find our next house I won't be so sad.

I have a couple of questions, though.

1. What do you do with valuables during an open house? I am locking up my (very small amount of) jewelry in my nightstand, but what about our laptops and cameras, for example? Am I supposed to take all those things with me?

2. Do I hide the existence of the dogs? Hide their bed and bowls and all that?

3. What about the laundry room? Do I need to have the laundry hampers totally empty of laundry?

4. Do people really look in kitchen cabinets? For now, I'm using the cabinets to hide all the junk I need to get off of the countertops. If someone opens the cabinets, I'm screwed!!!

5. Do I really need to mulch all the flower beds? Wah! I'm too tired!

6. Lastly, would you buy this house? Look! So cute!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

we feel strongly about the biting, apparently

Okay, I'm getting the feeling details are important to all of you in the whole biting fiasco, so let's back up for a minute.

1. The biter is 3 years old, not 12-18 months old. Regardless of his age, though, no one is blaming the biter for his actions. He got frustrated or freaked out or whatever, and he has older siblings who beat on him (according to the director) and that is why he lashed out.

2. The director of the program wasn't talking to the mother of the biter. She was talking to my mom, but she made the comment about Gabe taking toys from other kids loudly right in front of the other mother, I assume it was so the other mother would hear. The biting had happened the day before and she'd already spoken to the other mother on that day, and according to her the other mother wasn't concerned and didn't think it was a big deal (the biting, I mean).

3. No one saw the incident leading to the biting, so we are only speculating that the two were fighting over a toy, the director just saw the kid on Gabe's back and Gabe was screaming.

4. I am upset about the actual bite, the same way I would be upset if Gabe fell off the swing set and had a visible welt, scratches and bruise that remained on his back 5 days later. I'm sad it happened to him and I'm sorry he was hurt. I honestly don't even think he realizes he was bitten, though, since it was on his back.

5. I do think it is ridiculous for us to even talk about a 2 year old taking toys away from other kids, because snatching toys is like breathing to a toddler. I'm still working on him not taking toys away from other kids and sharing better, but we've been working on those skills since as far back as I can remember.

6. The director has already apologized profusely and has said repeatedly that of course she doesn't think any child should bite, no excuse for the biting, etc. She says she was just making a comment and it came out wrong. I'm fine with her and although Gabe isn't going back next year (another post for another day), I'd love to send Josie to her in another year.

7. I'm reading the The Pillars of the Earth, and holy shit, this book is awesome. (see how I seamlessly changed the subject there?)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

at least there was no blood

My son was BITTEN on Thursday at his toddler program.

Now, I know, I know, developmentally appropriate, tons of kids do it, happens all the time, and all that, but I'll tell you, when the head of the program lifted up Gabe's shirt to show me the bite and I saw a hugely swollen, hickey looking circle with teeth marks all around the outside on his sweet little innocent BACK? I could have KILLED the kid. My mother bear instincts kicked in and I could have ripped his head off.

I didn't, though, I kind of gasped and the woman tried to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal and she said that although she didn't see it happen, she heard Gabe SCREAM. Allegedly, he got over it rather quickly and now all was fine. She didn't want to tell me the culprit, but since Gabe was more than happy to spill the beans, she finally admitted who it was and said she would speak to the mother.

I went home upset, but again, I know this happens, I know it isn't a big deal, and although every time I look at his back it pains my heart, I was okay with the whole thing. Sad about the giant swollen bite mark, but understanding that this is one of those unfortunate childhood things that happens.

UNTIL, the next day, my mom goes to pick Gabe up at the end of the day and both the head of the toddler program and the biter's mom are standing in the doorway talking. As my mom is pulling on Gabe's shoes and grabbing his bag, the head of the program says to my mom (loudly), "Yes, well, we're working on Gabe not taking toys away from the other children because that is why that little tussle happened yesterday." My mom stood there gaping at her, so the director added, "Oh, but Gabe is a good boy. He's a good boy." My mom sat there stunned for a minute, until she abruptly said, "OF COURSE, he's a good boy," and then she stormed off to the car.

When she got home, I could practically see smoke coming out of her ears, she was so enraged. She couldn't believe that the woman running the program would blame the incident on Gabe, and not even MENTION the biting. If she had said they were working on taking toys away and obviously on not biting, it would have been one thing, but to talk about a toddler taking a toy away from another toddler as justification for biting seemed crazy to us.

I ended up calling the toddler program and telling the woman who runs it why we were so upset and she profusely apologized and said it wasn't her intention, it hadn't occurred to her it could be interpreted like that, and she certainly didn't think the incident was Gabe's fault. Regardless, I'm still upset and now it is Sunday night and that bite mark is still red and bruised with little teeth marks all around it (4 days later) and I'm not sure how I am going to put on a happy face tomorrow for Gabe's pick-up and drop-off. To make matters worse, tomorrow is the last day and we're having a little graduation/pot luck party for it, so I have to be social and smiley and make nice with everyone.

Ugh, parenting is hard, yo. Watching your kids get hurt and navigate the world is really hard. I can't imagine what I'll do if he comes home and tells me some kid hit him, or some girl broke his heart, or worse. Tell me you've been through much much worse and survived, please.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

projects galore

I'll give you a break on the all-the-time-every-second-of-every-day house decluttering/painting/DRAMA AROUND EVERY TURN situation, and get back to the sewing and quilting I was doing before we decided we might move. Now my life is over and all I do is house stuff, but at least you don't have to suffer with me.

Swistle asked about the cost/difficulty/learning for quilts. And to that, I say, ohhhh lordy. This quilt is without a doubt the most expensive piece of bedding I have ever purchased in my life. Part of this is that it is my first quilt, so I purchased too much of every fabric. I even have a couple of yards of one whole fabric because it ended up clashing with my other choices. It won't go to waste, of course, and I have tons of projects in mind, but still. I spent a LOT on fabric. Part of it, however, is that if you make a big quilt, especially a quilt with several different colors/fabrics, you have to buy a lot of fabric and fabric isn't necessarily cheap. This fabric was between $8-10/yard, and I needed a lot of yards. Plus, I couldn't find the monkey fabric in stores so I had to pay shipping from a few different stores, and oh, let's stop talking about it because I'm depressing myself.

Then Chatty Cricket and I took a class from this adorable little quilting store, and that class was totally worth it and I learned so much more than I'd thought I would, but still, it wasn't cheap. I guess I shouldn't figure that cost into the quilt since I'll carry those skills forward in my quilting future, but it feels like part of the cost of the monkey quilt. The class was maybe 8 classes or so (I can't remember exactly) and we'd go there with our fabric and sewing machines and they walked us through the pattern and the process and gave us tips along the way. We would do a part of the cutting or sewing every week and then go home with homework. Maybe this is a little unusual, and I definitely think you could do a pattern on your own and not take a class like this, although we had a blast. We were just laughing about the class the other day because it would inevitably turn into a "stitch and bitch" as the teacher referred to it. We'd jabber on throughout the class and have a blast.

And then in the end I decided to pay someone to do the actual professional quilting of the quilt (putting together the quilt top, batting, and the backing and sewing it all together with a pretty pattern). This quilt is really big and I knew my poor little 25 year old multiple owner machine wouldn't be able to handle it. Plus, I knew the woman would do a fabulous job. I did find the cheapest person around and drove halfway across Massachusetts to bring it to her, and it turned out great, but again, more cost.

The actual process of quilting was easy, though. If you've ever sewn anything with a sewing machine (and my experience is limited and definitely amateur), you can definitely quilt. The class was helpful in learning all the little tips, and in learning how to read the stinking pattern, because unless someone had explained it to me, it would have been like reading Chinese. There is a lot of cutting of little pieces in quilting, or at least in our particular quilt, and while I didn't love that, I did love the actual sewing together. This was very surprising to me. I found it incredibly relaxing and peaceful and almost meditative. I'd press the sewing machine foot down, start running the fabric through, and just zone out. The other night my friend called to see if I wanted to run out after the kids were in bed and see a movie, and I stared longingly at the sewing machine before grudgingly saying yes. I was dying to start some new little projects and lose myself in the sewing, but I get so little time away from the family, I couldn't possibly say no. Plus, buttered popcorn! Cherry Pepsi! No children!

The other thing about quilting that was a little hard, at least for me, is that it isn't instant gratification. You are really putting in the time to eventually receive a finished product, but that finished product is a long time in the making. I think that may be why this quilt took so long. I just lost steam after a few months of working on the same project. Throw pillows or tote bags or blankets are quick project taking just a few hours or maybe a few days. A quilt takes weeks or months (or years, in my case).

I am going to make Josie a quilt, although it will definitely be smaller than Gabe's. More throw sized than twin mattress sized. I am loving the process of picking out her fabrics and I'm really taking my time to find what I think is a perfect combination. The pattern is also going to be more squares and rectangles, less itty bitty triangles to make up a star. We'll see how it goes. As soon as I have all of the fabrics chosen, I'll post with pictures. The main fabric is so stinking cute, I wish I could have something for myself.

Overall, I give quilting two thumbs up. You should all definitely try it. The rush from making something with your own two hands is pretty cool.

But back to my newfound motivation as I mentioned in the post about the quilt... My poor little used sewing machine, bought off of Craigslist for $30, is really showing that it was worth the investment.

The other day on Freecycle, a woman was giving away a bag of old fabric, so I picked it up and picked out what I wanted and donated the rest to a nursing home (for projects, I guess). One of the free fabrics was this cheerful navy blue Marimekko fabric with bright fruits on it. I'd been trying to figure out what to make out of it. Then last week at the fabric store there was a clearance yard of vinyl fruity fabric for $1.50, and I came up with the idea of a picnic blanket.

I trimmed my fruity fabric and the vinyl fabric to match each other, about a yard and a half squared. I sewed them together and made straps out of my cotton fabric, and attached those straps to the blanket so I could tie it closed when it was folded up.

The vinyl fabric is waterproofed on one side and has cotton on the other, sort of like those old tablecloths.

Ta da! So easy! It only took me about an hour to put it all together and now we have an easy picnic blanket. I thought about adding a strap to carry it, but folded up it is pretty small and I always have either a stroller or a diaper bag so I didn't bother. We've already used it a couple of times and it's been great.

Next, I decided to tackle our upstairs hallway situation. The previous tenants had really thick carpet throughout the house, and when we removed that (40 year old disgusting crumbling nasty ass) carpet, we discovered gaps under all the doors in the house. Gaps of at least an inch, sometimes two or three inches between the hardwood floors and the bottoms of the doors. Combine that with very creaky floors, and you have a s-i-t-u-a-t-i-o-n with sleeping children. We tried to remedy the situation by piling all our extra pillows into the upstairs hallway and shoving them against the bottoms of the doors.

We are nothing, if not glamorous, as you can see.

This wasn't the BEST look for an upstairs hallway. Also, in the middle of the night after feeding Josie, I'd often trip or stumble over all the stupid piles of pillows. Worse still, the dogs would decide to sleep on the piles of pillows rather than their bed, and they'd start digging around and accommodating the pillows and making MASSIVE amounts of scratching noises right up against the doorways of my sleeping children and I could have KILLED THEM. Can you tell this whole situation was anxiety-producing? Can you?

I finally resolved this by making little cushions that perfectly fit the door (or are supposed to perfectly fit the doors) in a color that coordinates with our decoration.

And here you can also see another casualty of the big puffy nasty carpets. I should really be painting trim rather than sewing cute cushions.

I made two pillows- one for Gabe and one for Josie, and on Josie's I even got fancy and made a separate little pillow that was flat and attached to the bottom of this pillow. The separate little flat pillow slides under the big gap under the door and makes it a tighter fit.

To make these pillows, I just measured and sewed a smaller sleeve within a larger sleeve. I filled the smaller sleeve with rice (to weigh down the pillow) and the larger sleeve with squishy filler (that is the technical name). Then I closed the ends. The only problem is that I didn't realize that although I'd perfectly measured the doorway, when you stuff the pillows full of the squishy stuffing, they kind of puff up and shorten a little at the ends. So the perfectly measured pillows around now about 1/2 short on either end, but whatever, it is light years better than the piles of pillows. And cute too! If you make one of these, just add on an inch to an inch and a half to your measurements to account for the puffing up factor. These were really quick, like 20 minutes if your machine doesn't keep jamming up and refusing to cooperate.

I have requested a new sewing machine for Mother's Day and now I'm just trying to finalize my decision on which relatively cheap sewing machine I am going to request. If I ever get the house ready and we actually move, I'll need it for window seats and curtains and all that fun!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

sleep is lacking, though

Remember last week when I said Gabe had Coxsackie? Well, now it turns out he has Adenovirus instead, or in addition to the Coxsackie, we're not really sure. It has been about 10 days of symptoms, and he is still whining and crying and complaining most days. He has been specifically telling me his head hurts, or stomach hurts, or mouth hurts, and there is nothing quite as sad as hearing your two year old ask to go to bed because he feels so terrible he doesn't even want to hang out on the couch and watch television. I dragged the two kids to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things and he fell asleep in his stroller (mother of the year over here, obviously).

This is particularly awesome because we had a small party yesterday for Josie's baby naming, and he slobbered all over a couple of the kids who visited. I can't wait to make that phone call to those parents!

I have to write a decent post about the baby naming, because it was amazing, even though the timing stunk. In the middle of all of this cleaning, painting, and decluttering, it was unbelievably difficult to pull together a party, but we did it, and I think it went well. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and although I didn't have the time to spend on the little details I love, we had food and drink and cake and friends, all of which were great. Although I think my mother in law was a bit distressed that I served a frozen lasagna.

Thank goodness my parents are here, though, because they have been able to watch both of the kids while I continue with the house preparations. I'm hopeful maybe we can be ready in about a week and a half, but I'm probably dreaming. The exterior painters started on Friday and they have been scraping and sanding and power washing, so just in time for the party my house looked like it was falling apart, with paint chips and dust and dirt all over the place. I finished painting and cleaning the basement, tiled part of the basement floor, and this afternoon I started in on all the trim. Josh is working around the clock, so the preparations are mainly falling on my shoulders, and I'm not going to lie, this is going to be challenging.

We desperately want to move, but truthfully, I feel as if I am just now getting my head above water after having Josie. This whole moving prospect is putting a serious strain on both Josh and me, and we've been at each other's throats over the last few days. We keep arguing about everything under the sun, from who is doing what, to how we are going to get this done, to where things are under the piles of stuff. It is frustrating, to say the least, and it makes me reconsider this whole idea. For now, though, I'll just keep trucking away on the painting and decluttering and if we decide not to move in the end, then I guess we'll just have a freshly painted and cleaned house. It can't hurt, right?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

sweat equity

It looks like we may be moving forward with this whole selling the house thing, but as I type that I'm getting a stomach ache. The realtor wants us to list the house ASAP, as in yesterday, and I cannot explain the quantity of stress that has contributed to my life. Josh and I are snapping at each other like crazy because we are so consumed by the monetary constraints and to-do lists and questions of whether we are doing the right thing.

Of course, since I have no time at all and 79 things to get done in that nonexistent time, Gabe made sure to get Coxsackie AGAIN. He's been home from school all week and whiiiiiinnnnnnnyyyyyy. At least his energy level is low also, so we've watched tons of television and taken long naps. While he is doing his movie watching (specifically Happy Feet which is his one true love these days, he would watch it on repeat all day if I let him), I have cleaned out the basement, scrubbed the basement, painted the ceiling in the basement, painted all of the pipes in the basement, painted the walls of the basement, scrubbed the outside patio on my hands and knees, cleaned off all the play structures and tables and chairs outside, and weeded through tons of junk. Tomorrow I am applying a floor paint to the basement floor, doing all of the trim in the basement, painting the stairs, and carpeting the basement. What? Did you think I sat around all day?

My mother in law is here and helping also, THANK GOODNESS.

I think we feel good about our plan to list the house and settle on a number that we won't go below, and if it sells, it sells. If it doesn't sell, we absolutely don't mind staying in the house for at least another year. In another year maybe the market has improved, maybe Josh will get a raise, and we will have one less car payment. That would be a good time to sell too.

I'm off to bed until I start it all over again tomorrow. I only wish I'd taken some before pictures of the disaster that was my basement, but I'll make sure to take some "afters". My future home buyers better appreciate this!