Friday, August 26, 2011

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends - Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was bemoaning the fact that Morrigan refused to be bought off and indeed wanted a birthday party. The downside of a smart kid is she very quickly figured out that her friends all started giving Barnes and Noble gift cards so she could have a party AND walk away with $100 bucks to spend. Anyhoo, I was telling Kirsten how planning a party in the middle of renovations was stressing me out and I had been putting off calling the Club to set up a pool party. She then says, casually as ever, "Why don't you have it at my house?"

Being a good person, I gave her five minutes to change her mind as I would totally take her up on this offer! Personally, I think having 15 ten year olds, many of whom you don't know, over for a party that is not even for your own kid qualifies you for sainthood. Or at least being called The Best Friend Ever.

It went swimmingly. The weather was perfect, the kids all got along, and Morrigan had a great time.

Apart from feeling a wee bit awed by the fact that I have a ten year old (on Monday anyway), the party couldn't have been easier. I will have to endeavor to have all my soirees at other people's homes.

And Kirsten swears she had fun too. Let's hope so since Maggie is now convinced she should have a party there when her birthday rolls around.

And the Reality Sets In

The first day of destruction didn't seem so bad. We were out one room and there was some mess but, with 7% of the job complete, things were humming right along. Then there was yesterday when I was left with this:

I have no kitchen. This is probably a big deal for everyone but for us, I think there is an even greater impact. We cook. Allot. Hans came over the other day and I had "staged" the kitchen for some before shots. He commented that in all the times he had been over, this was the first ever that our kitchen was not in use. 

Then there was dinner. After having not much of a lunch, Morrigan's birthday party (about which I'll write later) distracted me and I forgot to eat, a first and I found myself starving by 5pm. So we have to decide what to eat, go out and get it and pay for it. It was awful. I mean, is this what it is like when you don't know how to cook? Do you have to do this everyday? 

For the near future, it does appear we do get to do this everyday. Yipes.

The good news is the drywall guy was fast and we have walls in the family room again! 

And dust. Lots and lots of dust.....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Destruction Commences

There is a better than average chance that everything about which I write for the next few weeks will be the chaos of our remodel. You are therefore warned we may be a wee bit monotonous.

So let's say goodbye to the crappy simulated wood paneling and built in!

Our contractor came yesterday morning and tore the family room down to the studs. So far we are on schedule and found no major surprises waiting in the walls.

Let's hope things go as smoothly in the kitchen tear out today! 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday, Downtown Style

After deciding that the kids could choose their own activities this fall, it dawned on me that I might want to find out, and soon, in which activities they wanted to participate. Morrigan mentioned drama. Not having any solid leads on 5th grade acting, I promised to keep my eyes open. As if it was meant to be, a few weeks later an email from the Roanoke Children's Theater showed up in my inbox with their fall schedule AND open audition call. 

Morrigan was in. She was undaunted by the prospect of a one minute poem and 16 bars of a song. She set to work memorizing a Shel Silverstein poem and chose the Owl City song Fireflies. Truthfully, I have no idea if these are wise choices. I was busy being overwhelmed by the fact that they wanted her resume and headshot. Headshot. Our resume was 4 years of piano and last year's Christmas picture would have to do. 

So this morning, we were off. We arrived a few minutes early and found a flock of acting hopefuls already gathered. Based on the way other Moms muscled past me and the 8x10 glossies they were toting, I am a complete failure as a stage mom, which I will wear as a badge of honor. In spite of my shortcomings, Morrigan got an early audition spot. 

The parents waited outside so I didn't see her in action. But her assessment was she did great. Callbacks are tomorrow so we'll see if the judges agree. 

We're slated to go to a block party this afternoon but had some time to kill so I suggested the Indian Festival downtown. The idea was dismissed out of hand by all the kids until Morrigan was swayed by the prospect of seeing an Indian wedding, complete with the groom arriving on horseback.

As we parked, Morrigan asked if it was an Indian festival like Native American Indians. No, I told her, like Indians from India. "You mean like snake charming, turban wearing Indians?" she said enthusiastically. Holy stereotype. Clearly, if the goal of this festival is to spread knowledge about Indian culture, we really needed to be there.

Having missed the groom's entrance, we settled for the rest of the ceremony.

Local politicians were there as well and we had a chance to say hi to our local congressman, Bob Goodlatte. 

We stayed and watched several dance troupes and the kids claimed to be enjoying it though I think that mostly had to do with my willingness to buy sodas and sno-cones. But the girls did seem to truly appreciate the beautiful saris and were more than disappointed none were available in their size. 

Eion, on the other hand, was attempting Bollywood dancing and trying to pick up chicks.

Friday, August 19, 2011


It was brought to my attention last night that I have been a complete slacker blogger in the past few weeks and my absence of another week was not appreciated. (Cough Amy Cough) While we haven't been completely activity free, so much of my time has been absorbed by getting the house ready for our start date, the 26th - after what I am sure was our one and only delay (ha), I have not devoted much time to my online presence. Fear not readers, I will attempt to make up for my dismal showing in August.

After Morrigan got back from Hogwarts camp, we were invited out to a day at the lake. What marked this visit and set it apart from past lakeside aquatic adventures was that nary a kid needed a lifejacket (for swimming anyway.) It was a welcome change. We certainly had to keep a pretty close eye on E, as his method of swimming still very closely resembles drowning, we were not plagued with complaints all day about uncomfortable life vests.

Morrigan was invited to a birthday party at Splash Valley so the kids and I all went there one night last week. I was content to sit on the sidelines but couldn't resist Maggie's pleas that I go down the two "big" slides. These adventures are always a bit anxiety provoking as I have a long and colorful history of ending up at the bottom of a waterslide with more out than should be but I faced my fears and emerged victorious with both girls safely tucked away.

And of course there was Hans' 40th birthday party!

Which led to an entire day lost on the getting ready for construction front but it was well worth it.

Other than that, it's all packing, all the time! Our new and improved start date means the excrement is hitting the fan right before school starts. Should be fun? Terrifying? At least the friends kind enough to take us in for the nights we are displaced by the floors have a kegerator. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Details, Details

This bring our first big remodel, the number of choices that need to be made have been a bit overwhelming. Some seem clearly important. Say, the cabinets. After looking at a million books and pictures of other kitchens, we were able to bring in some samples and say "We want their kitchen." 

Our contractor sent us to Heartwood Custom Cabinets in Salem where we worked with the owner, Dale, to find a layout and choose cabinets. They were all made in his shop and we were happy to support the local economy. (Hopefully that will make up for the choice of a foreign hood over a Viking.) What was really excellent was when Dale dropped by with the sample cabinet. We put it next to our current ones and found it was almost exactly the same color, just not so chippy. Won't the new kitchen feel oh so familiar.

But we did choose to make the island black so they aren't all so similar. They are completed and waiting for us to get started and look beautiful! 

Then it was on to all the other details. Hours of scouring websites, pouring over pulls and knobs thinking, "What does this pull say about our kitchen?" and "How does this knob define our style?" Only to have Tim kick in with helpful advice like, "It doesn't really matter anyway since no one notices them. Really, do you know what the pulls look like in any of our friends' houses?" And he was totally right. After a few more days agonizing, we chose these:

Not completely boring but also not too out there. Not, as Tim will tell you, that anyone will pay much attention anyway.

We chose a completely average granite. I'm sure you've seen this (or its cousin) a million times.

The backsplash is porcelain imitating travertine. Again, nothing too fancy or wild but with a few points of interest. This, surprisingly, turned out to be a pretty easy choice. From the million pictures we reviewed, travertine (or in our case, faux travertine at a third the price) fit the overall look we liked. This was almost the first sample we saw on display and it was the one. (Though I did dutifully look at a ton of other options just to be sure.)

So far, we're rocking a fair bit of neutral colors: off white (actually macaroon cream but who is getting fancy?), tan, black. Which leads us to the island light. I have a bit of a history of liking bat poo crazy lighting so naturally, this was my front runner for the chandelier.

But I thought there was seriously no way Tim was going to go for it. To my utter shock and amazement, his response was "Well you know, all the style shows say you need one piece of whimsy in each room."  

Huh? Did I just get a green light for my insane lighting choice in the same sentence my husband used the word whimsy? Indeed I did. But there was some waffling. One of the reasons I like eccentric lighting is that you can change them for a relatively low cost as opposed to the expense of switching out a statement making backsplash. This could, however, be beyond the pale. 

And then there was the cost. The lighting budget was up to $500 - this was $670. Seeing as the original projections should have been plenty, going $170 over felt extravagant. 

As I poured over the internet for alternative lighting, this website had "my" chandelier for $445.51. This was clearly A SIGN. [While he had already told me to do whatever I wanted, Tim agreed.] Seeing as things were going my way, a quick coupon search seemed in order. Now under normal circumstances, this type of effort is wasted, finding only expired codes or free shipping that is readily available on the store site. But being my lucky day, a working code turned up for an additional 5% off. Total end cost: $423.23. Crazy made the cut.

Embrace the Chaos

With the kitchen just a few weeks away from demolition, it occurred to me that we might need somewhere to store the contents of our kitchen and our storage room was 1) completely overstuffed and 2) utterly disorganized. So last week while the girls were enjoying their Harry Potter movie fest, I took everything out of the storage room, cleaned it all out, and put back what didn't get thrown out/given away.  

It was a bit of an undertaking.

With the requisite needed room for the contents of the kitchen, it was time to start packing that up too.  We started with the liquor cabinets. 

The contents stored over the fridge were very heavily populated with partial bottles of odd liquors purchased for specialty drinks never to be made again. There were some tough decisions and, sadly, that bottle of coconut rum from a 1996 trip to Jamaica didn't make the cut. 

After a long day of packing and a few trips to the Goodwill, we are down to a bare bones kitchen and counting down the days.

Friday, August 5, 2011

And Your Excuse Would Be?

I was looking back at my blog entries for this year and they are, at least compared to my historical chattiness, quite sparse. I really can't pin down the exact reason. It seems life has gotten in the way of writing, which, if we have to be honest about it, is probably a good thing. Ye olde blog doesn't exactly pay the bills (or pay at all for that matter.)

My alternate theory is that I started this whole adventure as a cheap form of therapy. Maybe, just maybe, I don't need professional (or free online) help as much these days. BUT that might be about to change as we embark on da da da DA - the kitchen remodel. Sure to test the sanity of any normal human, right?

Let's start with before.

Now I am sure many of you might look and say, really? Does it need to be redone? I've had more than a few people comment they didn't understand why we would want to change. But you see, those people weren't spending everyday with this:

Or better yet, this:

It's time for a change. So instead of blogging, I've spent the last month or so working on the new kitchen. And by working on, I mean deciding what I want while others work on said components.

Not to mention, as we committed to this project, we decided, what the hell, let's just completely jack up our lives and get the family room redone and, even better yet, all the hardwood on the first floor refinished. Some additional befores:

If we're not getting too critical about the decorating, again, not looking that horrible. But the pictures don't betray the fact that we dwell in a room of simulated wood paneling, twice painted over. If you look in the right spot, or all over the damn place, you can see both colors. See exhibit A.

We're at t-minus 15 days until the major destruction starts. We've dutifully picked granite, cabinets and the like while I'm still completely gripping on the island light. All of which will be featured in upcoming posts as I am very very sure this project is set to consume us entirely. Now if you'll excuse me, I am off in search of an island light with just the right amount of whimsy.