Construction: Day 10

Thank goodness they got the addition enclosed yesterday! It rained like god was mad at us this morning. (Wester floods like Venice every time it rains, but that's another post!) We had a little leak above the laundry room, but it appears to have been taken care of - or maybe it just stopped raining! The water was dripping out of a light fixture, so that was a little alarming. And disgusting. It washed all the bug carcasses into one big nasty clump. Good thing I'm planning on replacing that fixture, huh?

The workmen worked inside today. Duh. They framed up the ceiling in the addition, and put up the walls for the bedroom and bathroom. I had another panic attack when I went up to look (one of the walls was installed in the wrong place), but a quick call to Eldon cleared it right up. David came over right away and the crew moved the wall. Seems that he had been over earlier while I was out to snap the chalk lines and told the crew to wait until I approved them. But the waiting part was lost in the translation to Spanish. Luckily, no harm done. It is really shaping up!


Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!*

With the workmen here, our already spastic new dog has taken her spazz-ness to unheard of levels. Yesterday, while the kids were at school and I was out running errands, Holly munched Q's newest favorite sword (the one from KK's brothers. Boo! Hiss!), a snack cup, two sacrificial Styrofoam cups, my poor Chinese evergreen plant, the contents of my office trash can, and - wait for it! - my pill sorter from the absolute back of my counter-top.

Luckily, there was only one day of meds left in it. She snarfed down a handful of vitamins, a Zoloft and a thyroid pill. She didn't eat any of the Welbutrins. I guess they taste bad! Too bad - they might have calmed her down! In a panicked call to my vet's cell phone, I found out that because of her size, Holly shouldn't have any side effects. Whew! At worst, she might get a little hyper. More hyper? Save me!

All of that was an extra long intro to today's story. When it was time to go to the gym, I put Holly and Blackie out in the back yard. I figured the worst she could do was take a chomp out of the patio furniture cushions (which she did, by the way). Wrong. She shredded the plastic ball bucket and ate a hole in the cushion. Oh, and she ripped a three inch gash in her rear right ankle. To my hasn't-attended-vet-school-eyes it looked like it went all the way to the bone.

We were a little slow on the uptake about her injury. T had been home for an hour when I got home with the kids. It was only after he finished his lunch hour and was getting ready to go back to work that he noticed the blood trail. He had seen spatters out on the patio, but assumed it was from her, ahem, delicate condition or that someone's gums were bleeding from eating the bucket.

Once I got a good look at it, I could see that the skin was just hanging open and there was LOTS of blood. In our defense, Holly was licking it so much that the blood was hard to see. Gah. Luckily, with all of Blackie's injuries, we were well prepared for dog triage. I gooped it up with Neosporin (and felt like my finger went all the way through her leg - ack!), then applied a cotton pad and wrapped it with vet wrap. In minutes she had torn the edges loose and was bleeding through the cotton, so I added another cotton pad and even more vet wrap.

Once my carpets and furniture were out of immediate danger, I called the vet. He has a soft spot for Holly since he was the one who saw her on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, the office was closed for lunch until 2:00. I left a message. Then I whipped out his cell number and left an identical message there. He didn't get it until it was practically 2:00 anyway and told me to bring her in right away.

I loaded her up (easier said than done) and strapped in the kids (oh, joy! A trip to the vet with an injured dog and TWO squirmy, curious kids. Could this get any better?). When we got there the vet asked, "Did you bring me my baby?" and we were ushered to an exam room. Once he found out what had happened and saw where she was injured, he pumped her full of antibiotics and hustled her back to the kennels. His surgical staff leaves at noon, so there was no one there to help him with the surgery.

She is staying the night at the clinic so they can keep her still and monitor what she eats and drinks. She'll have the surgery tomorrow morning. The bummer is that they rushed her back to the kennels so quickly I didn't have a chance to love her up before I left. We are so worried that she thinks she has been abandoned again. Poor dog.

When it became clear to Q that Holly wasn't coming home with us, he staged a mini-mutiny in the lobby. "I WANT HOLLY! I want Holly NOW!!" Funny thing is, I didn't think he particularly cared for Holly. Guess I was wrong! The house has felt strangely empty without her.

Man, those free dogs are expensive!

*The sound an injured dog makes.

Construction: Day 9

Like ants swarming to repair an ant hill, the framers swarmed my roof all. day. long. The gable is now entirely enclosed - including windows. This is really a good thing because tomorrow we have rain in the forecast and bitter cold is coming by Friday. I am really glad not to have a gaping hole in my roof exposed to the elements!

Eldon and David came by this afternoon to talk about where the walls will go. Last night's panic has abated. The bedroom is going to be an odd shape, but should have enough room to accommodate the two beds required by my in-laws. The bathroom is going to turn out okay, too. The potty will be under a sloped ceiling, but since you mostly sit down on it, it shouldn't be a big deal.

The living area will be divided into two areas. The smaller attic-y area will be the snacks and games space. I'll put in a table and chairs for board games/puzzles/cards. We are hoping to have a snack kitchen with a microwave and mini-fridge and, if we are lucky, a sink. The larger area under the gable will be the main living area with a TV and couches. Guess I'll be haunting Craig's List and eBay until I find something cheap but not hideous!

Anxiety Attack

It is 3:30 a.m. and I can't sleep. I am freaking out about the attic. The more I think about it, the more I am worried that we have made a massive mistake. Part of the beauty of our house was its nice simple lines: a classic west Texas ranch. Now, instead of the simple dormer that I thought we were getting, we have a big ass gable that ruins the clean lines of the roof. Gables are not simple.
This whole operation is seeming a bit too much 'on the fly' for this borderline control freak. I feel like we talk and talk and still end up with something other than what we were bargaining for. I want to see blueprints! Or at least floor plans. I have never seen anything in print from the contractor. At this point in the game, a sketch of some sort seems a little like closing the gate after the dogs have already gotten out. What are they going to do? Rip out the gable? Somehow I doubt it.

It also seems like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. I guess Eldon's son David is in charge of designs, so Eldon seems completely out of the loop. There is a whole bedroom upstairs that he seems to have forgotten to tell the AC guy about. There are walls that we discussed taking out at the initial consult that everyone keeps forgetting are coming out. As-is, both the entryway and the stairway feel claustrophobic. For me, un-enclosing the stairs was one of the most important aspects of the remodel, but everyone keeps acting surprised when I bring it up.

I guess this is the down side of having work done for you instead of doing it yourself: you never know quite what you are going to get. I'm feeling a bit like I have the starring role in The Money Pit or that old Hollywood movie where the Broadway producer buys a house in the country. (IMDB let me down. I couldn't find the right movie.) I know they aren't trying to gouge us - I hope! - but the endless-upgrades-this and most-for-your-money-that are giving me an ulcer.

Okay, now that I have gotten that off my chest, perhaps I can get some sleep.


Super Hero

On the way home from school today:

R: What did you do at school today?
Z: We played super heroes!
R: Which super hero were you?
Z: Flower Girl!
R: (?) Really? What were your super powers?
Z: I could make flowers grow anywhere I wanted. You know, to trip the bad guys. My friend was Blood Boy. He was the villain.

Do I detect a screenwriter in the making?

Construction: Day 8

Wow. That is all I can say. Wow. When we got home from school today, Z and I were greeted with a 22 x 11 foot hole in the roof. By sundown, the whole dormer was framed in. They expect to get it all closed in by tomorrow. That was super fast! It boggles my mind.

What else is boggling my mind? How we are going to fit in all the rooms with the location of the dormer. T and I are both puzzled as to its placement. It seems like it should be about three feet to the north to allow for the bedroom and the bathroom. Originally, the bedroom was to go all the way across the far end of the attic. But the placement of the dormer would make the bedroom way too little. And the bathroom? If the plumbing drain wasn't already there, I would have NO idea where to put it.

Wouldn't that be a bitch if it was a ginormous goof?



While we were away there were crews in and out of our every day. Our contractor was a sheriff's deputy for 27 years, so we had no fears for our worldly possessions. So can anyone explain what happened to the ten pound jar of change in T's office? We turned the house upside down looking for it. It would be kind of hard to miss a two quart glass jar filled with change, don't you think? We just couldn't bring ourselves to believe that one of the workers would steal from us - but the evidence indicates they did.

During the uncomfortable phone call to Eldon that followed our unfortunate discovery, he told T that this was the first time he had anything go missing in 30 years of construction. Dude! Isn't the addition expensive enough without having to fear for our spare change? Gah!

Oh, and, worker dude? Could you not go in my cabinets (!) and take my most delicate glassware outside? And leave it on the picnic table? During a wind storm? Or drink the last of our orange juice and leave your glass teetering on the edge of the sink? Thanks.

Construction: Day 7

They made amazing progress today. All of the sub-floor is in, so you can see how the rooms will shape up. Lots of noise: compressor, air nailer, saws, hammers. Poor Griffin is about to have a nervous break down. Maybe the next phase will be a little quieter.

No, wait. Tomorrow they are cutting a giant hole in the roof. Sorry, Griff. Try not to lose all your fur, 'kay?


Construction: Days 2.5 - 6

Through the magic of everyone assuming T is in charge of the decision making re the remodel, we didn't have any framers on Monday. This resulted in a panicked phone call to the contractor from yours truly. Turns out that they were at a standstill until the AC system was removed, which meant we would have no heat once they started. So T said not to start until we left town on Wednesday. Awesome. I love being out of the loop!

On Tuesday, the AC guys drove up as I was leaving to take the kids to school. By the time I got back from dropping them off, they were finished. I guess demo doesn't take very long! We were left with a big pile of duct-work and insulation in the front yard, but no framers. T called Eldon this time. Seems that the framers had taken on another job to fill the hole in their schedule, and had gotten a little behind. Awesome.

On Wednesday, the joint was really jumping. The attic was swarming with framers (including one with only one arm. Wow! That kid could lift an entire sheet of plywood with one hand. Amazing!). A hole was cut in the roof to get the new joists in and the new floor support system was well on its way.

T and I were watching TV in the living room and had just gotten up from the couch to go to the kitchen when we heard a loud crash from the attic. I just assumed they had dropped a load of 2x4's. Imagine my surprise when I returned to the living room to find a leg dangling from the ceiling! One of the framers had slipped and poked a 18 inch square hole in the ceiling. The chunk of displaced drywall fell exactly where we had been sitting just the minute before! Yikes! there was much apologizing and many promises to fix it all up. Thus far, they have stuffed a piece of fiberglass insulation in the hole.

At this point, we escaped to the in-laws' house. T's uncle is in iffy health, so we needed to visit anyway. We returned this evening to find all of the new floor supports in, the hole in the roof closed up, and some minimal decking. Also, the new downstairs AC was in and working. The change was pretty amazing.

Not so amazing? The HUGE mess downstairs. They had to cut some holes in the living room ceiling to put in new heating vents so there is drywall dust everywhere. They also demo-ed the skylight in the master bath, so all surfaces in there are swimming in fiberglass, drywall debris and 20 years of accumulated attic dust. Blah! I'm bummed that no effort was made to mask off the living areas. The kids' rooms are okay, but our bed (and everything else in the master suite) is covered in grit. I knew there was going to be mess with the remodel, but the contractor blew a lot of sunshine up my skirt about how it was all contained in the attic and wouldn't affect the downstairs. Ha! More fool me for believing him!

The icing on the cake was that Holly escaped. Again. It was dark when we got home, so we just popped the dogs into the side gate of the yard while we unloaded the truck and checked out the attic. When we were done, T went out back to get the dogs and found that the workers had left the driving gate open. Holly and Blackie were long gone. T pounded through the house shouting orders to grab flashlights and leashes and was gone in a moment.

They hadn't gotten very far - just two doors down to the house with all of the free-range male bird dogs. Holly made a hormone-driven beeline for the boy dogs who, luckily, were with their owner. I think we were able to get her before any puppy making could take place. We got her back to the house where she keeps whining and begging to go outside (presumably to find a willing partner!). I will be so glad when she isn't in heat any more!


Decade in Review

Melissa stole this idea from Ian, and I thought it was such a good idea that I am stealing it, too!

2000 - Finally settled into a teaching job that didn't make me want to slit my wrists
2001 - Moved into my dream teaching job: Talented and Gifted; met T
2002 - Bought my first house and did a studs-out reno of the kitchen with my dad
2003 - Got engaged to T
2004 - Got married; quit teaching; got pregnant; moved to Small Town
2005 - Z was born!
2006 - Mom diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease; lost my sweet cat, Lexi, at 16.
2007 - Q was born! Mom can no longer live at home.
2008 - Started blogging and started The Button Box
2009 - Fifth wedding anniversary - we were supposed to go on an island vacation, but instead we bought a house and moved to Wester

It's crazy the changes ten years can bring (especially '04)! I'm sure the next ten will be a wild ride, too!


Holy middle-aged sag, Batman! I went to a new class at the Y yesterday called Power Cuts. It is a group weight lifting class. Every muscle group in my whole body aches. I sound like a little old man: I groan when I sit down; I groan when I stand up; stairs are a nightmare. Carrying Q? Oh, noes! I am not crippled up or anything, just excruciatingly aware of every movement of every muscle. Bun says she is sore, too, but only in her chest.

Apart from being all creaky and moan-y, I am feeling pretty good about myself. I have made it to the gym and plan to go again tomorrow. Yay me! And as a bonus, I have lost five pounds since Christmas! Just an unthinkably huge number of pounds to go! Sigh.


Weekend Wordles: (First) Construction Edition

Join the fun at The Asylum, aka Last Shreds Of Sanity, to participate in Shan's Week~End Wordles. She has Mr. Linky up and running. For instructions on how to participate, go here.


Six Word Saturday

My six words: I hope the construction goes quickly.

Explanation: I have big fears of having let the contractors into my house, they will never leave. Yikes!


Construction: Day 2

Well, I was clothed when the workers arrived this morning, so that's something. After they had been in the house for all of ten minutes, a guy popped his head into the kitchen.

"Missus? Your dog got out. The brown one. She is fast."

That would be Holly. The runner. Who is in heat. AWESOME!

Somehow, she had managed to dig under/jump over/push through the Great Wall of Wester that T built to keep this very thing from happening. I can't tell if she is too smart or too dumb for her own good. But I guess that is why we got her chipped. Sigh.

On the plus side, the entire framing crew was mobilized in an instant. I did a double time jog across the pasture and caught up with the guy who grabbed her collar. Holly put up no resistance. Until you tried to make her move. She does just fine until you try to force her, and then she literally digs in her heels (do dogs have heels?). I half dragged half carried her about a quarter of the way back to the house when she broke free again and took off. To the neighbors. With all the male hunting dogs. That aren't fenced. Gah! I don't want puppies!

By this time I figure it is time to break out the big guns: cheese. I run inside grab cheese, a leash and a jacket (I was in my gym gear - not approved for January weather!) and trot back out to continue the search. This is more running than I have done since it was required of me for phys ed! Huff! Gym? Huff! I don't think so! Huff!

Luckily for my not-built-for-running body, the ever efficient framing crew had caught her again. And put her in the cab of their truck - displacing an actual person who they made ride in the back!

Further improvements on the Great Wall of Wester have proven Holly-proof. And also people proof. It is actually easier to exit the house through the back yard, climb a tree up to the roof and repel down the other side than it is to get out my front door. Hope we don't have a fire!


Call Me Murphy Brown (aka:Construction: Day One)

The big excitement around our house is that we have started the attic conversion project. Yesterday afternoon we handed over an eye-watering check to Eldon the contractor and the worker bees arrived promptly at the crack o' dawn this morning. The contractor estimates that the whole project will take two to three weeks. Do I believe him? Well, I believe he thinks they'll be done by then... But actually done? Um, no.

Our attic runs the length of the house, so we are turning it into an in-law suite for T's parents. We are adding two bedrooms, a living room and a bathroom. This involves re-joisting the floor to make it load bearing, a giant dormer, and re-ducting the AC system. I am pretty sure my first house didn't have as many square feet as this addition does! Also? We hadn't even finished the first day of construction before Eldon was suggesting spendy upgrades. No, I don't think it will be done in three weeks.

I managed a remodeling faux pas before the workers even made it inside my house this morning. I was getting ready to take the kids to school and all of my clean bras were in the laundry room. I made a stealth trip to the laundry room (topless, naturally, for maximum humiliation potential). I went through the garage so I wouldn't flash the neighbors through the kitchen windows. (T opens the curtains first thing when he gets up.) Eyes on the prize, I grab the bra and only then notice that the blinds were open. And the workers were sitting my my driveway. Awesome.

Maybe they will continue to show up early in hopes for a repeat performance?


Frozen Family Fun

Our weekend at the ranch was CO-O-O-O-LD. We have been having unusually cold weather here in west Texas, so it should have been no surprise that the stock tanks were frozen over. But somehow, it was. T and I were so tickled when we discovered it, that we immediately went and got his mom to show her, too. "Look, Ma! That there water done turned hard!" We're simple folk. It apparently doesn't take much to amuse/amaze us.

Anyhoo, the next morning we loaded the kiddos into the Bronco and we all went to see the amazing phenomena that is frozen water in winter. (I think I might feel a couple IQ points leaking out as I type this.) We then entertained ourselves (for way longer than you would think was possible) by throwing rocks of ever increasing size onto the ice until we got one to go through. A good time was had by all!

My favorite part, though, was the evidence that a duck had had a serious surprise upon landing - in the form of a bunch of feathers scattered on the ice where it crashed. That would have been fun to watch!

That is fish food scattered on top of the ice with the feathers. We imagine there are a lot of giant catfish with headaches from trying to get to the fish kibble through the ice!


Z in Cat Form

Proof of reincarnation! In her former life, Z was a cat!


Paging Dr. Z

"Mama! Seven plus three is ten!" Z shouts gleefully from the back seat.

"Very good, sweetie! You are getting very good at math. That will come in handy when you are a doctor. Doctors need to do a lot of math," I reply, reinforcing her oft repeated desire to be a doctor 'just like GanGan.'

"And I'm gonna be a doctor!" Z chimes in agreement. "I'm gonna be a pedia-nutrition!"

"I be Batman!" Q declares.

A doctor and a super hero? T and I are so set for our old age!



After thinking about my resolutions a bit (and reading a lot of yours, too!) I decided that I needed to add one. So here it is:

5. I will make an effort to be a better domestic engineer.

As you know if you have read my blog at all, I am the first to admit I am a lackluster housekeeper at best. Clean enough to sanitary - barely - and drowning in clutter. It's not like I don't like a clean house, but if the choice is put the dishes in the dishwasher/de-clutter the living room/hang up the clean clothes or get some sleep/read a book/take a shower, the latter wins by a landslide. Present me screws future me every time.

I have been thinking about it, and being a home maker is my job and I haven't been doing it particularly well. In a professional setting, I would not be doing bad enough to get fired, but I wouldn't be climbing the corporate ladder either. When I was working outside the home, that would never have been okay with me.

My plan is this: I will take those few extra minutes after meals and before bed to take care of the smallish tasks before little undone chores become junk-sucking vortexes (vorteces? vorteci?) of clutter and become monumental tasks. Once it reaches those epic proportions, I feel defeated before I have even started. My theory is that if I can get it clean, keeping it clean shouldn't be quite so hard.

Wish me luck!


Welcome Baby New Year!

2009 was an exciting year in the Critical Mass household. New jobs, new houses, selling old houses kept us on our toes. The changes have been good. T loves his new job. Z and Q are very happy at their schools. I love having extended family near by and I'm having a pretty easy time of making new friends. Those pesky webbed feet (from living in swampy east Texas) have finally started to clear up. All in all, life in the desert suits us. Of course, I have now jinxed us and we will be asked to move immediately.

I am excited about the new year. This year I look forward to (finally) getting settled into Wester and our new house. I am jazzed/devastated that Z will be starting kindergarten this year. (How did that happen? She was born ten minutes ago!) I will be having a milestone birthday this year. The 11th anniversary of my 29th birthday. I have mixed feelings about the big 4-0. I am hoping that it will help motivate me to keep my resolutions (for once!). I want to be a RED HOT mama on my 40th birthday. You know, for all the pictures that will be taken at my birthday party. (Hint. Hint.)

So. Resolutions. I name the usual suspects:
  1. Get some any more exercise.
  2. Eat better.
  3. Have more patience with my spawn.
  4. Make sure I get enough "me time" to make #4 possible.
I am getting cautiously excited about the exercise thing. My new friend, Bun, is encouraging me to go to the Y with her. She is a substitute Pilates instructor, so she is pretty serious about the whole going to the gym thing. She has even threatened to come to my house and drag me there should it become necessary. It's like a personal trainer without the expense and with lots more laughing!

As for the eating thing, I know what I need to do. It's just a matter of doing it. It is no mystery to me how I got to this weight. I have no delusions of 'I have a slow metabolism' or 'I eat the same as everyone else and gain weight'. I need to write down everything that goes in my mouth. (Blah. That was always my downfall at WW.) I need to measure, measure, measure. I need to cut out mindless snacking.

I'm not sure how I'm going to make numbers three and four happen, but I'll keep you posted!

What do you resolve this year?