Monday, March 29, 2010

paying it forward

I mentioned last week that I really hate asking for help, but as part of my resolution to be happier and improve my life, I've vowed to ask for help when I need it. And this winter in particular, I have DEFINITELY needed help. We have been struck down with more illnesses than I can count. Ear infections and stomach flus and ear infections and bronchiolitis and ear infections and coughs and ear infections and runny noses and ear infections and a couple of sore throats thrown in for good measure. It has made for a crummy winter, and lots of tissue purchases, antibiotics, night wakings, and sleepless nights.

Whining isn't the point of this post, though. I've decided to ask for help, and that means when my friend asks if she can pick anything up at the store for me, I say YES. For the first time ever, I said yes. We needed diapers and I was going to bundle the kids up in the car and drag them to the store and wipe the noses and cart the sad limp kids inside, so instead I told her I desperately needed diapers and thanked her profusely and left it at that. And rather than feel guilty about asking for the diapers, I just accepted the idea that she didn't mind getting the diapers and perhaps felt like she was doing a good deed and I was certainly grateful.

So a few days later, when my neighbor said she had to take her own sick kids to the store because she needed milk, I insisted on getting it for her when I went to Target that afternoon. She did the whole, "no, it's okay, don't worry about it, I couldn't, etc." but I insisted and she said thank you and was thrilled when I showed up with the milk later that afternoon.

Let's call it paying it forward or being a normal human being who accepts help, but it felt good. I like this new resolution, and I think it is going to improve all of our lives.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


You know how you have a new puppy, and since they're so small and cute you let them climb on your lap and on the couch, and then the baby puppy starts to grow and soon they are too big for your lap and certainly too big for the couch. But the puppy doesn't yet know they are growing too big for your lap, so they fling themselves onto your lap and have no idea they are crushing you. And they do all these crazy puppy things but in the meantime, they are all long legs and giant paws and cuteness.

Gabe is that puppy.

He is so big and so funny and so sweet and adorable and delicious and brilliant, and he totally doesn't know he is all arms and legs and giant feet and HEAVY. He picks out a book and then throws himself onto my lap, even though he is hanging off all over the place. I arrive at the door of his preschool and he runs full force into my arms and knocks me over. He snuggles into my arms and asks to be carried up the stairs and begs me to crawl into bed with him and give him kisses. At the pediatrician the other day, after observing Gabe for a few minutes, he said, "well, he is certainly passionate for you."

And I am beyond crazy about him. Every day I fall more and more in love with him, and it takes all my self control not to swallow him whole, and I threaten to do so all the time, just so he can't leave me anymore. Today I put together the tuition deposit for him next year. He'll be attending a Montessori school five days a week, and it kills me just a little bit that we'll be apart for so much time. I'm thrilled for him, and I have the feeling that he is going to flourish in the Montessori environment (although I'm intimidated by the intensity). He's my baby, though, and I have these moments where I realize we are so close and he still adores me and thinks I am the coolest person ever. We sat together and watched a Disney movie and he asked me to sing along because he loved hearing me sing. You guys, how could I not adore him?

Monday, March 22, 2010

when it rains, it floods

Yes, that's right. Our basement "flooded". I say "flooded" because I think in comparison to lots of our neighbors, our measly inch of water was totally unimpressive. One of our neighbors got 3 feet of water in her totally finished basement, with flat panel televisions and couches and train tables and cabinets floating around.

On Monday, otherwise known as day 3 of nonstop record breaking rain, I came home from Gabe's school pickup to find a few puddles of water on the floor. I called Josh, who offered to leave work immediately to see where the leak was, and by the time he was home 45 minutes later, the puddles had spread to an allover low covering of water. I frantically began calling rental places and hardware stores looking for a pump or a wet vacuum and everywhere had sold out hours before. Everyone I called said the number of wet basements in our area was unprecedented, and I started to panic. I had no idea what we were going to do with all of this water, and I didn't know how bad it was going to get because it seemed to be rising fast.

I continued calling stores all across Massachusetts and eventually found a small hardware store who said they were just receiving a shipment of sump pumps and wet vacuums and there was a line of 80 people, but we were welcome to come stand in line and hope for the best. I begged them to put aside a vacuum, I even offered to pay in advance, and they refused, so I shoved Josh out the door and told him to break all speed limits and not to come back without a vacuum.

While he was driving, I called that same store back at 5 minute intervals (they must have loved me) and kept up a running status report on the remaining vacuums. Josh made it in time, returned home with our bounty, and spent the rest of the day and night- from 3pm to 11pm- filling and emptying the wet vacuum without any breaks. He estimated he must have been filling the vacuum about two times per minute (so every 30 seconds), without stopping. It was INSANE.

Thankfully, his hard work seemed to pay off, and he kept the water from rising beyond the one inch mark. At several points during the day, he was vacuuming the water and I was using cups and dust pans to scoop the water into buckets and then dump them into the downstairs sink. The water was coming in through the actual concrete, though, so there was no way to stop any leak or tell where it was coming from. The backyard and street were totally flooded, and any little crack in the foundation allowed water to pour in, and even areas where there was no visible crack had water seeping through the ground.

Josh fell asleep for a few hours before tackling the water again in the morning. Once the rain stopped sometime during the night, the water stopped rising and we were able to start the drying process.

Our basement is a semi-finished playroom (wall paneling and linoleum tiles) and almost all of our toys are downstairs, so as the water began to rise, it was a race to remove all unpacked boxes, toys, bins, etc. Thankfully, our favorite bookcases saved all the toys and I store most of the kid's clothing and our items in plastic bins. We still moved everything out, just in case, especially because I am beyond terrified of mold.

We're airing everything out, running fans and dehumidifiers like crazy, and hoping for the best. Most of the basement is the wood paneling and concrete walls, but there are a few spots where the drywall got wet, and I'm terrified mold might set in and we'd have to rip everything out. Besides seeing the actual mold spores, does anyone know how you can tell/make sure there is no mold? Will it be obvious? If the water was there for less than 24 hours and we've been running the fans and dehumidifier since, do you think we're safe?

Despite the inconvenience, I still consider us extremely lucky as I drive around our neighborhood and see the countless hoses leading out of basements and into the street with a steady stream of water pouring out. My neighbors say that in 26 years they've never seen anything like it, so here's hoping it'll be another 26 years before it happens again. I'm just thankful we hadn't installed carpeting yet! We almost did it a few weeks ago!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

no is the new yes

Since I'm sharing all my dirty secrets, I might as well talk about the guilt side of me.

I hate letting people down. I guess everyone says that, but I have serious issues around this one. I won't say no to favors or requests, and I also will very rarely ask for or accept help. Even when it makes no sense. I'll be juggling both kids by myself at the store and need to run to the bathroom, but if a friend offers to hold Josie or watch Gabe so I don't have to take both of them into the stall with me, I'll always say no because I feel funny about asking for help. Even if it means I end up frustrated and sweaty and angry about having to hold Josie and yell at Gabe to STOP TOUCHING THINGS in the stall. If my in laws or a friend offer to do something, I'll say no or tell them it isn't necessary, even though I'm desperate for the help.

I don't know why I do this, but lately I'm making more of an effort to say no to some requests, ask for help, tell the truth about how I'm feeling. I'm slowly coming to the realization that when people offer their help, they sometimes genuinely want to help, and when I occasionally say yes, people are genuinely pleased to be of help to me. Plus, it isn't fair for me to expect people to read my mind and then be annoyed when they don't help me.

Last month, my in-laws asked me to bring the kids to Florida for a weekend in April. Unfortunately, that weekend happens to be the same weekend I was going to visit my parents in California. No problem, they said, fly to Florida from Boston for the weekend, then fly to California, then fly back to Boston (by myself). I actually did this last year, for the same reason. I flew to California, then had to get on a 6am flight with both kids (alone, of course) to fly to Florida, then flew back to Boston alone. And it was HORRIBLE. Seriously, terrible, awful, horrendous. Remind me to tell you about it another time- my eye is twitching just remembering the 6am flight alone.

As soon as they asked, my knee jerk reaction was to say yes. Of course we'll come, I am always happy to make the grandkids accessible, and I am generally flexible and willing to travel and I haven't had too much trouble with both kids on planes. As the days started to go by, though, and Josie continued getting ear infections, and both kids seemed to be perpetually sick, I found my anxiety over the whole flying-to-Florida-for-the-weekend-and-then-continuing-on-to-California thing increasing. Exponentially.

I kept envisioning these scenarios where I'd be alone on the plane and Josie would be in pain from her ears, or having to take her to an emergency room while we were in Florida, or not realizing she had an ear infection before boarding the flight, or being up all night with one or both of them alone, and my eye would start twitching in anticipation. I've never said no to the grandparents, though, and starting now would be really hard.

I decided to float the idea. I tentatively mentioned that I wanted to hold off on buying tickets to see if the kids stopped getting sick. I mentioned that I was having a lot of stress around the whole traveling thing. I said flying in for one weekend and then flying back out and adding extra flights into the mix was maybe not the best idea. I made it clear how many ear infections Josie has been getting and why I was nervous. And then I waited. In the meantime, I changed my mind approximately 87 times over whether to go or not.

I want to be the good daughter in law, I want to be flexible, I want the grandkids to get to see each other and for the grandparents to enjoy their grandkids. But I also want to be fair to myself, fair to my children, make reasonable decisions that make everybody happy. I don't want my kids to suffer just because I hate to disappoint people.

So after 2 months of teetering on the edge, I called my mother in law and said we wouldn't be coming. I told her I didn't want to disappoint them or let them down, but I laid out all my worries and told her I just couldn't do it this year. I'd be happy to bring them out to their house in the Berkshires before and after and I'd even be happy to fly to Florida in late Spring or Summer, but I just couldn't do this one particular weekend. I had to just say no, and I did it myself rather than let Josh do it and let me off the hook.

If they were angry, they did a good job of hiding it. No one has made any comments about us not going beyond the "we wish you were coming" variety, and no one has expressed any belief that I'm being unreasonable by not going. The sky didn't fall in on me, everyone survived, and the weight on my shoulders was lifted instantaneously.

It is going to sound funny, but I'm actually proud of myself. This is who I am, and I don't want to be a totally different person, but I do want to change this side of me a little bit. This was a small step, but for me, it was a significant step and it took days of talking myself up before I was able to make the call and weeks of deciding before I finally said no.

I might even let someone help me pee without juggling two kids in a tiny stall. See how I live dangerously?

Monday, March 15, 2010

no wonder my laundry pile is taller than Gabe

Our new town isn't that far from our old town, but it feels decidedly different. I joke that we are now in the middle of noooooowhere (picture me saying this in a pathetically moaning voice) because I can't walk to a mall, sushi, or an ice cream shop. The ice cream shop part was particularly devastating to me, but perhaps that'll be helpful to my waistline come summer.

The neighborhood definitely feels like the suburbs, with tons of kids playing hockey in the streets, moms out walking with strollers, and even sightings of random animals like rabbits, deer, and foxes. Josh left the garage door open to run to the grocery store and as he was pulling back in, a massive animal strolled out of the garage and he swears he initially thought it was a small bear but it turned out to be the mother of all raccoons! It caused so much excitement that Gabe hasn't stopped talking about animals in his garage for weeks. Any random noise in the house is cause for a resurgence of the talk about the gigantic raccoon.

Even though our move was just a few miles, my circle of stores has completely changed too. My old grocery store is too far away to be convenient, my old favorite mall is now farther away than another less liked mall, my coffee shops, drugstores, Target, well, you get the point. It all feels like a big change. And I'm farther away from some of my neighborhood friends. Not so far that we can't have lunch together, but too far to stop by within 5 minutes for a quick playdate.

All of this is to say, it has been a change. Far more of a change than I'd initially expected, that is for sure. After my initial freak out, things have been steadily improving. The folks at my local convenience store recognize me, which feels great, my neighbors say hello when I drive by, which feels even nicer, and I've decided that I won't sit and wallow in my unhappiness for one. more. minute.

I am a friendly person, but to tell you the truth, I also get very insecure about meeting new people. I don't seem to have a problem with the meeting part, but any subsequent get togethers or communications brings out the anxiety in me. If I call them and don't hear back quickly, I worry that maybe they've decided they don't like me anymore, or maybe I'm bothering them or whatever. It is totally annoying and sometimes ridiculously insane that I do this.

Take, for example, a newish friend I've made since moving. We have definitely clicked, and just a few days ago she asked whether I'd be interested in taking a girls trip together this summer. I take that to mean that (a) she likes me enough to want to spend a good amount of time together and (b) she plans to be friends at least until the summer. Well, yesterday I called her twice in a row, and then decided not to call even though I had something to tell her because I worried maybe she was starting to not want to be friends anymore. It's crazy, right?

I'm revealing all my neuroses now, hopefully you won't stop reading me because now you know the truth about the crazy.

Anyway, long story short, I've decided to move past the crazy and break out of my shell and try to make friends in the new neighborhood, even if it makes me uncomfortable. I've shown up to town events, I've been friendly, I've shared my phone number, been proactive about asking for playdates. As soon as we had a couple of good weather days, I've walked around my neighborhood to try to make friends with neighbors. I joined a playgroup. I asked around and started a book club, and our first meeting is this Sunday. This is our chosen book (love it love it love it), and I'm really excited and hopeful this will take off. I've gotten off the couch after Josh is home from work and the kids are in bed and gone to see a movie or grabbed coffee with a girlfriend.

For a homebody like me, this is seriously difficult, but I believe it will be worth it in the end. I have some really really REALLY fabulous friends, but most of my friends live far enough away that I can't see them on a regular basis, and I really need a few good local friends to spice up my life.

So do you have any tips? Have you had to break out of your shell and make friends too? Did anything bring you luck? I'll take all the advice I can get!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

rain would be a better match for our moods

When it rains, it pours.

We've been heading steadily downhill from my post on Monday. Josie's breathing has continued to be challenged and we took another trip to the pediatrician on Tuesday morning when I set her down on the ground and she flopped over and lay there like a wet noodle. She wouldn't even move her hands, but kept moaning piteously and sobbing. This time they tried two breathing treatments and looked her over again, but couldn't achieve any improvement. Her fevers hovered steadily around 103 degrees, with slight fluctuations around the Tylenol and Motrin doses. She did have one massive coughing fit that seemed to clear her up slightly, but the day was definitely awash in sickness.

Wednesday morning, she woke up crying and I spotted a welt on her neck. Huh, I thought, how did she get that? And then she turned her head and she had another welt in the same spot on the other side of her neck. Very odd, I said to myself. I peeled off her pajamas and BAM. Hives. Everywhere. I spent a few minutes checking over the hives and then picked her up to grab her toothbrush from the bathroom and walked in to find Gabe with an opened bottle of antibiotic poured onto the bathroom countertop and spilled all over him.

Another emergency trip to the pediatrician for both of them. I asked the front desk nurses if they might consider renting us a room for the rest of the week. It would be easier than shuttling the kids back and forth, for sure!

Gabe was cleared of any type of overdose, and Josie was diagnosed with an allergy to Amoxicillin. Her bronchiolitis seemed slightly improved, although her hives were quickly getting worse. A new prescription, dosage instructions for Benadryl, and we were on our way.

The rest of yesterday, though, continued to be awful. Josie's fever kept jumping up to 104 any time she wasn't being continuously dosed with Tylenol or Motrin, and she would barely move. I carried around her sad little moaning self all day, and Gabe whined about wanting to play outside and enjoy the weather.

Today is much of the same, with Josie looking particularly monstrous. Her face is totally deformed from the hives around her eyes and neck, and now her hands and feet and legs and back are totally covered as well. She won't let me put her down and just cries to be held and comforted and nursed. It breaks my heart, and I feel badly for Gabe also because it's clear he is desperate for some attention.

This has only been going on since Sunday, and I've had so many moments of wanting to collapse into a bucket of tears. I don't know how parents with seriously ill kids do it. I really don't. This whole experience has reinforced for me the knowledge that nothing makes you more grateful for your health than a rough time like this one. There is nothing like bad health to plunge you into a depression or sour mood.

Here's to hoping Josie is feeling better soon. I'd love to get her out of the house and have some human contact for all of us. The pediatrician said it could take weeks for the bronchiolitis to improve, but to that answer, I'm plugging up my ears and screaming "NAH, NAH, NAH, NAH, NAH, I can't hear you!"

Monday, March 08, 2010

sick babies and whiny moms

Josie had a fever last night, but a low one, just under 100 degrees. This morning she woke up with the same fever, but also some extra congestion and a cough. This is totally typical Josie, though, so I didn't pay much attention, but when I arrived at Gabe's school to drop him off, the director told me Josie sounded terrible and she thought I should take her to the doctor. I was surprised, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry, so I made an appointment for noon.

I took her with me to my annual OB/Gyn appointment (super fun, as always) and by the time we were driving to her appointment, she'd visibly drooped. I lifted her out of the car and noted that she felt hot, and her cough was a little more dramatic. We got settled into our appointment, the nurse discovered she now had a temperature of 103, and when I took off her shirt to cool her down, we both watched her little chest struggling for breath.

Wow. If watching your tiny, sweet, baby struggle to breathe isn't the shittiest feeling ever, I don't know what is.

A flurry of activity ensued, with doctors and nurses and physician's assistants all running in and out of the room suggesting courses of treatment, and all the while the minutes were ticking away and I knew I needed to pick up Gabe at 12:30pm. Finally, they decided to let me go pick up Gabe, come right back, give her a breathing treatment, see if it worked, and go from here.

I rushed to pick up Gabe, we returned for our breathing treatment, and fortunately, or unfortunately, she didn't improve. According to the doctors, her not improving with Albuterol is actually a plus for her future chances of not developing Asthma as she gets older. She also has an ear infection and is going on antibiotics, so we opted not to get her a chest x-ray because even if she has pneumonia, the antibiotics would treat it along with the ears. We left after what felt like a lifetime, with a long list of instructions for bronchiolitis and the ear infection, and a hope that she would feel better very soon.

Today has been a struggle for both of us. She ate a decent dinner, and then threw it up all over herself and me, and most of the day was spent with her wheezing and clearly struggling to breathe, lots of moaning and crying and laying around sadly on her part , and lots of sympathy and frustration on my part. Bedtime was the worst, and I spent 1/2 an hour in the shower (on Chatty Cricket's suggestion) holding her up to the steam and hoping it might help. It took an hour of rocking and singing and rocking and singing and nursing and patting and finally exhaustion took hold.

Ugh. What a day. I'm hoping she'll sleep through the night, and doubly hoping she feels better tomorrow.

growing up- all of us

I'll admit it, I do not like baking with the three year old crowd.

I get frustrated. I get annoyed. I want to limit what he does and how he does it, I worry about kid germs on licked fingers, I stress over the flour flying all over the floors, and that does not make for a happy or fun experience. It isn't the way I want to spend my time with Gabe. I want him to grow and experience and have a great time.

Today we went to check out a summer camp for Gabe, and one of the activities the kids were undertaking (it is a regular preschool during the year) was baking. They made brownies, and the teachers were very liberal with what they thought the children were capable of doing. They even handed Gabe an egg and told him to crack it into the bowl.

I was fairly shocked as I watched them let the kids crack the eggs, measure and pour the oil, dump the brownie mix into the bowl. I would never give him that much freedom, but all the kids were able to do what they'd been asked. It made me realize I really need to loosen up, let go a little, try to enjoy the process without being such a tense mess during the baking.

Part of my Happiness Project is to enjoy life with my children more. I'm trying to step outside of my regular schedule and do interesting, educational, and enjoyable things with them. We're baking more (despite my true feelings on the subject), I'm taking them to museums (ALONE EVEN!), I'm being more playful and positive on a daily basis.

I want them to remember these days as GOOD days, I want them to remember their mom as FUN (strict, but fun), I want their childhood memories to be HAPPY. After all, this is the only childhood they will ever have. This is my one and only chance.

So if you need me, I'll be over here baking. Gritting my teeth, and baking.

Friday, March 05, 2010

mean mommy

Last night was a serious milestone in my parenting career.

I sent my son to bed without dinner.


I know, it was a little harsh, but I'd really had it, and he was doing the whole three year old pushing buttons thing, not listening thing, blatantly disregarding your requests thing, and I warned him, and warned him again, and told him the consequences of his actions, and started to repeat myself for the fifth time and then I had this moment of clarity where I stepped back from my life and asked myself, "what the fuck are you doing?"

So I stood up, told him dinner was over, picked up his plate, ushered him upstairs with little fanfare and got him ready for bed. I told him I was sorry he couldn't listen and I was sorry he wouldn't get to eat dinner, and I was especially sorry he wouldn't get to play with his daddy, and I loved him but didn't like his behavior and I hoped tomorrow would be a better day. I hugged him, kissed him goodnight, and walked out the door.

That was it. And it felt... well... pretty good.

I feel like for the last few weeks, I've been angry all the time. Frustrated, annoyed, short on patience, and just plain mad at the kids. They are pushing buttons and being difficult and testing the limits and being really, totally, spectacularly ANNOYING. But that isn't a reason for me to be so angry, for me to be screaming all the time, for me to feel like my head is going to pop off. Something had to change, and I've decided to do something about all of this anger before I end up in therapy for anger management or a neighbor called child protective services because of all the yelling going on over here.

I read a book, I read another book, and another book, and I took your advice and started a chore/positive rewards chart, and things have been going much, much, MUCH better. 10,000 times better. We have had 7 consistent days of happy and sweet and mostly great kids. There are still moments where I have to take a breather, or where I do a bit of raised voice speaking, but I feel in control of myself. I am not having ridiculous fantasies about smacking my kids or watching the clock and counting down until naptime/bedtime or calling Josh weeping and hysterical.

I'm keeping calm and staying positive and even when the kids are being a willful three years or a tantruming fourteen months, I can step back and see some good options for how to handle the drama without resorting to screaming and timeouts. Best of all, I'm not angry, and I'm not stuffing my face with cookies because of all the anger. I'm okay. Frustrated at times, but peaceful.

And that, my friends, is priceless. I may just be able to do this parenting thing after all.

Who me?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

apparently I'm a community supportive glutton for punishment

We've done the whole community supported agriculture thing before, and as I mentioned last year, I wasn't the hugest fan. I know it isn't a popular stance to take, but I still remember how much I disliked washing those dirty vegetables and coming up with ideas for unknown veggies and making the drive to pick up our box. I wanted to be a supportive and active member in my community, but apparently, I have my limits.

So I'm doing it all over again.

I signed up for another share at another farm. Hopefully this particular farm will provide us with more of the vegetables we actually like to eat, and they even let you specify a "no like" list. I'll definitely be telling them I do NOT like to receive 79 turnips at one time.

This year, though, I am splitting the share with a friend, and I am thrilled about this. We will alternate weeks of pickup, split the boxes of food, and I'm hoping this will lessen the load and make the whole experience more fun. Best of all, included in our share is a "pick you own" option throughout the summer, which means we'll be permitted to go to the farm to pick berries or beans or flowers. I have discovered that 3 year olds LOVE to pick fruits and vegetables, and I love the idea of him seeing where those fruits and vegetables actually come from (besides the supermarket, I mean).

Let's just hope the dirt and bugs don't get to me this time, or maybe I can come up with some kind of outdoor hosing off ritual. Do you think 3 year olds can learn to wash vegetables?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

enough talk about sticking fingers in holes already

We made peanut butter and jelly muffins last night (I know! Yum!), and it was an exercise in hilarity for Josh and me.

You have to make the peanut butter batter, then push a little hole into the center of the muffin, spoon in the jelly, and then put another glob of peanut butter batter on top. We got Gabe involved, and these were the comments that came out of our mouth, complete with uncontrollable snickering from Gabe's parents.

"You push your fingers in the hole and spread it."

"After you put your fingers in the hole, Daddy will stick the jelly in."

"Stop licking your fingers after putting them in the hole."

"It's too sticky in there."

"You stick your fingers in the middle, not on the sides."

And on, and on, and on.

This is a public service announcement, do not try to accomplish any cooking project like this with preteens or teenagers. It will not go well, I promise you that.

Monday, March 01, 2010

is a nice tan color too much to ask for?

I'm trapped in paint selection hell. Ugh.

I'm reusing the dining room color and the living room color, so at least those are chosen and I'm praying the colors look good in the new house or we are totally screwed.

Our old bedroom color looks crazy different in our new bedroom, so just redoing that color won't work. I tried color matching my bedroom throw blanket color to the wall color, but it ended up looking brown. Brown, like poop colored brown, and after just painting a tiny strip of the wall, the bedroom started to look like a dirt colored cave. Another trip to the paint store, and I'm not any closer to selecting a color.

Plus, once I select all the colors, I'll be doing the vast majority of the painting on my own, and roping Josh in whenever I can convince him to help. I am not looking forward to all of this painting, but frankly, it's time. I have been resisting hanging up pictures or shelves or curtains because we are waiting for the walls to be painted, and these piles of pictures or boxes leaning against the walls really are not making this place feel like home. I need to bite the bullet and get it over with, and hopefully the painting process won't be as bad as I am anticipating it to be.

Any painting tips before I take the plunge?