Friday, September 28, 2012

When did I become a Real Housewife?

The past two weeks have been very strange for me.  Why? Katie has started school, attending Pre-K at a local church four times a week.  Only 8 lessons later, she can write her name (previously she wouldn't even try).  I've heard her teaching Winslow some phonics--What sound does A make?  Try harder, MeiMei!.  And every morning she runs into class without looking back.  Remember, I did work full-time for awhile, so this wasn't heart-wrenching for me, being away from her, but I'm still having a bit of a hard time accepting that my baby is going to be five in about a month. FIVE.  How am I old enough to have a five year old?  Who was the dummy who entrusted me with a human life? (Uh, do you really want me to explain how children get born and stuff?)

Today, things were even weirder. I enrolled in a program where moms work on crafts, read books, surf the internet, or just socialize with each other for a couple of hours while the kids go play with other caregivers.  It's a spanking good deal ($50/semester for as many sessions as I wish. I just do it once a week), and I'd never been early enough in previous years to secure a spot.

Of course, I didn't do crafts since I am admittedly not interested in being crafty, except in the "Yeah, sometimes I act like a witch" sense of the word.  But I had a nice time with a couple of friends despite feeling like perhaps this was another dimension.  I just spent 2 hours in the middle of a weekday without my children.  I couldn't leave the building, but I could enjoy gourmet coffee (or at least think about it since you know coffee and me are bitter enemies) and excellent conversation without being in a hurry or wondering if this was some kind of illusion (Sorry Starr, but you are merely hallucinating the childcare and the kids are actually running in traffic).  Andrew experienced his first time in "school", and he seemed to even enjoy it a bit according to the teachers who comforted him after I left.  Winslow made a lovely picture of a cardinal and managed to glue the eyes on the bird's butt (I am SO proud. Keep doing it your way, girl).

For those who think I'm being ridiculous, realize that since I became a stay-at-home mom, my days have been completely immersed in caring for the children. We did no MDO programs, no camps, nothing.  Playgroup maybe once a month.  And yet now I'm busy almost every day!  Four days a week, I'm in the car to take my kid to school.  It's unlikely that the pattern will go back to what it was, except in summer. Unless you start thinking about the Shakespeare camp I read about last week, or the piano lessons I'd like to enroll Katie in, or the fact that Katie is almost old enough to fly on a plane by herself on some airlines (and I know she'd do great).

Seriously, could they get more grown up?  Don't answer that.

So you'll have to excuse me for going through a major WTF these days.  Adjusting to this new reality has thrown me completely off my game, making my blog get a bit ignored even when I have things I'm dying to show you. I know I'm not the first nor the last mom to experience this, so stay tuned!  Have a wonderful weekend, y'all.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I love my house

Buying a house can be like an arranged marriage.  You read your potential partner's ad, check out the goods, ensure its purity, and then jump right into the deal after exchanging substantial sums of money, hoping eventually you'll fall in love.

When I walked into the Kiefer Cottage in April of 2011, I knew that I could make it work here.  A spacious kitchen, a 1st floor family room, excellent neighborhood...but it was still a huge gamble.  We had to replace all the cold water plumbing within a week of moving in ($$$), get a new electrical panel ($$$), and cut down many trees ($$$$).  We have windows that don't close completely, an upstairs without any heat, and a kitchen that is open to the elements in hidden places, so we have regular visits from creatures we didn't invite over (apparently, the local fauna really love our harvest-toned flooring).

Electrical panel isn't even LEATHER and it cost a fortune.

But it's finally happened.  I have fallen in love with our house.  Perhaps the three-week vacation made my heart grow fonder.  Or maybe it's because now I have a bathroom that doesn't require schooching and pinching and prodding to navigate.

Remember this??
Anyone over a size 2 had to deal with that monstrous vanity.  But now, we are plus-sized friendly (thank goodness, since you can't really suck in my booty).

What a relief.  That bathroom feels normal, like it has potential, like, like...

...a work in progress, as usual.  We have exposed subfloor now, and the wall is obviously not complete.

I'm so glad they labeled this so I'd know there's no tile in that spot.
Regardless, I am so in love with our house right now.  It's given me hope that one day, we shall see completed results.

This is a blessing, of course, since we're far beyond the allowed-return window. (But I have my receipt--does that count for nothing these days!!)  I won't, however, be asking for store credit.  This one's a keeper.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Planning for 2013: Moon Vine

Many years ago, my mom discovered the Moon Vine (also called Moon Flower).  With few expectations, she planted a few seeds next to the garden trellis, and eventually we fell in love with this beautiful flowering vine.

This year, I did the same thing on my chain link fencing.

I planted one seed and got all this gloriousness.

The plant starts to bloom in late August and early September.  But it has a trick.  Instead of blooming during the day, the flowers burst forth at dusk.

The vine is quite aggressive, and my three week hiatus allowed it to climb up the house. (Ryan didn't even notice the vine until I asked him if it was blooming yet while I was hunkering down in Metairie, LA, for Isaac. Observant is NOT his middle name.)

The plant is related to the Morning Glory, and its seed is quite tough.  If you want to plant them next year, you can score the seeds and soak them in water for awhile before putting them into the ground. They take a looooooong time to grow very much.  Weeks and weeks passed before the vine really got going, and then it went crazy.  I probably planted it too early in the season, but no matter. Everything worked out.

I plan on putting the vine in more places around the garden in 2013. Yup, already thinking that through!  More tips to come on prepping your garden for spring. If you think about it now, you'll have less to worry about later.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Back Porch

Our house is officially 1800 square feet.  But we have a three season porch that makes our house feel much bigger.  It's not heated or cooled (hence "three season").  And it started out pretty rustic looking.


We've never used the fireplace because it would need to be checked for safety.  


I had had about enough of the drab paneling in June and started priming the walls and trim on a whim.  And then it suddenly was 108 for the entire summer, making the idea of spending hours in a room without AC totally excruciating, so Ryan finished up my work a couple of weeks ago.

Much better, isn't it?

Yes, the beams aren't painted, but that's because it took me an hour to do just one.  The wood is unfinished and makes a mess. Some day I'll get to them.  And to the lovely indoor/outdoor carpet in there...

Now I see a sunroom. Feels lighter and brighter. Damn, paint is awesome.

Wall color: Glimmer by Behr

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Not Nice, Hurricane Isaac

I've missed sitting on my blogging throne the past few weeks, y'all.  Me and the interwebs, we had a fight, and I was away for three whole weeks.

Or maybe I was in New Orleans with no access to power.

Or it could be that I was on vacation in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for awhile.

Okay, it was both.  I spent two weeks in the Big Easy, with the intention of helping my mother do some major de-cluttering, instead spending half the time searching for cooler conditions while the electricity stayed off during and after the hurricane.  

Instead of going into too many details, I'll share this photo essay with you (it's a photo essay because that sounds all smart-like).

Neighbors lost a tree.
Cooling off at the front door.
Eating out of the freezer (big sacrifice: I must've eaten three pounds of shrimp).
Adventure eating out of the fridge (12 year old chocolate truffles. I had one--still delicious!)
Waiting patiently.
Cleaning up afterward.
Half-flooded motel in Bay St. Louis, MS.  It was chilly and comfortable, though.
Passing time at the beach in MS.
Sleeping at my mom's office, which got power long before her house did. 
Driving around with mattresses in the van--Your place is cool?  Mind if two adults, three kids, and one stuffed animal
crash with you?
Retail therapy in Gulf Port.  The stores had AC, so the kids got new wardrobes.
 All in all, the trip worked out. My generous in-laws picked the children up after five days without power and drove them to Georgia for a week.  Once the lights came back on, I was then able to get to work and crack that whip with my mother (who decluttered so much stuff it was an inspiration).  Then we all met up in Arkansas for some family fun, photos to come.

What I learned:

1) The kids are adaptable and resilient.  Almost no complaints while we were vagabonds in search of cool air.

2) Going through a "mild" hurricane is kind of fun--we had the windows and doors open to let in all the winds during the storm--but the aftermath sucks big time.  My mom is blessed to live in an area less prone to flooding, and for that, I'm grateful.  It could've been worse and actually was way worse for those in surrounding parishes (parish = county in LA).

3) Post-disaster workers, while generous with their time, sometimes need direction and instruction. Not from me, but from somebody. A day after the storm, we had a guy doing donuts on our a backhoe.  After an hour of dancing around with the machine doing nothing productive, he left.  At least I got a good show.

4) Le Foret in the Central Business District in New Orleans is a delicious restaurant, perhaps serving the best food I've ever eaten.  (Don't ask how I managed to slip in fine dining during this disaster, but I did.)

Ryan completed some projects while the kids and I were away--can't wait to share them with you.  Glad to be back.

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