Saturday, December 12, 2009

What a month...

The title of this post is pretty much the understatement of the century. This has been the most trying, most RIDICULOUS month of our lives. But the story has a happy ending...

My last post was November 2. Well, November 3, I felt a little funky. Some light cramping, etc. I called my doctor and she said to go to the hospital if it got worse or didn't stop. So, of course, because I am a workaholic and can't set boundaries for myself, I stayed at work. Came home and laid down for a little while, and then, just as a precaution, Eric and I went up to the hospital to get things checked out.

So, I'm in the exam room at the hospital and the nurse and resident come in to check me out. They take a look, and immediately go get the doctor, who informs me that I'm fully dialated. And that I will be having a baby before leaving the hospital again. WHAT!??? The baby's due date was January 29, so we were talking three months early, plus, I was just not prepared to hear that. I wigged out. Called my parents, who were leaving from Montana the next morning and told them that they should head to Indy instead of Michigan.

That began the worst night of my life. They put me on magnesium to stop the contractions, and tipped me upside-down, head below my feet, to try to keep the baby inside. Magnesium is the worst drug in the world, and I was on such a high dose. It made me pretty crazy for a while. Then a doctor came in at 3 in the morning and told me about all of the problems the baby could have. Fantastic.

I ended up staying upside down in bed for about 6 days, and ended up having an emergency c-section on November 9, when beautiful baby Harper Stuart Matson was born. Sweetest baby in the world!!!!

Anyway, while Harper was safe in the NICU, I started recovering and eventually went home the Friday after delivery. That following Monday, though, when we were visiting Harper, I felt something weird in my incision. We turned around and checked back into the hospital, where I learned I had several hematomas, including a massive one in my tummy area. They also had to open a part of my incision. Awesome. This malady required that I be transferred over to the big St. Vincent's hospital, which, compared to the Women's hospital, is like Motel 6 and the Westin. Ugh. I was in the hospital for about a week with this issue, and also had to start daily IV treatments at the outpatient clinic when I finally got out.

It was at one of these treatments, the week of Thanksgiving, where the doctor became concerned that I was short of breath and that my heartrate was high. Turns out, I'd developed a pulmonary embolism. So, back to the hospital for another week. This was a weird week, part of which I spent in a deep funk, convinced that I was never going to be well again. I also yelled at several doctors and dropped a lot of f-bombs at them, which enabled me to get released to go visit Harper at the women's hospital. Generally, I like to settle my disputes reasonably, but the temper tantrum/ass-reaming I gave in this situation was effective.

Apparently, this last malady was quite serious. I didn't really realize that at the time, and I'm glad I didn't, because it just would have enhanced the foul mood and bad emotional state I was in basically all week.

Things are better now. I'm medicated to the gills, and have weekly check ups, but I've been out of the hospital for almost two weeks, which signifies to me that I'm over the hump. I'm walking upright (anyone who thinks that c-sections are a piece of cake is delusional--try getting up without any ab muscles), my incision is healing, embolism is apparently resolved, though will require follow-up.

But all of this was worth it, as we have our Harper, who has had so few problems that we are all a little stunned, including her doctors. As of today, she weighs 3 pounds 13 ounces, which is more than a pound more than she weighed when she was born (13 of those ounces have been gained in the last week!). She's still in the NICU, but she's in a big-girl crib, and is learning how to bottle and breast-feed. She's perfect. It's like the health issues were allocated between us, and I got all mine and all hers. And I am totally cool with that.

So, meet Harper, sweetest baby ever.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I was talking with my dad this afternoon, and he was totally right when he said that so much of our work on this house has been stuff you can't see--plumbing, electrical, etc. etc. Carpet is something I can see. I love it. Looks SO GOOD!!!

Here's the baby's room, painted and carpeted. 

Man Cave! With a cameo by the Pix. She, too, is very excited about the new carpet, and is much less scared of entering either of these rooms now that they're not subfloor. 

Eric is excited about getting a new tv, one larger than the 19-incher we have right now. He's out looking, just looking, right now. Tried to sell me on a 50-inch tv that was a "great deal" earlier today. Ummm, no. But it's fun to tease him. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009


We're making some major progress. Very pleased. 

1) I finished painting the nursery today. It looks really nice. We chose a light green paint and off-white for the trim. Eric did a great job with the trim. 
2) Dings in the walls that occurred while we were refinishing the attic are all filled and waiting to be painted. 
3) Things are as clean as they've ever been on the 3rd floor. 

All because...


As I mentioned earlier, we had some people in for estimates last weekend. Against our better judgement, and that of countless of our anonymous friends on the internet, we asked Empire Carpet to come over. Estimates for both bedrooms, the nursery, both sets of back stairs and the attic ranged from $5-7K. WHAT??? Yeah, so we didn't go with them. We found some great wool carpet on sale and some frieze (friz-zay???) and we're not doing the big bedrooms for a while, so we ended up in a place where we not only got what we wanted, but will not be in the poorhouse. Pleased. 

I'll be posting more pictures tomorrow. I can't wait. 

In other news, property taxes came last week, and thankfully, are more than 60% less that what we paid last May. Thank goodness. THey're still too high, but it appears that Marion County is on the right track. The legislature has put tax caps into action, making sure that residential properties are taxed at 1% of assessed value. Now, this is a good thing--our current bill, which represents a phasing in of this plan, is at 1.5% of the assessment. But this will only work if assessments stay reasonable. While our assessment went down by $140K from last year to this, what's to say it's not going to go up again? I'm not sure how the treasurer can justify increasing assessments when, duh, we're in a recession and values have plummeted, but I'm sure that they will find a way. 

Baby is doing well. Getting big (I am too) and practicing for a career in the martial arts. S/he is kicking HARD right now, and as I sit here with my laptop on what is left of my lap, my stomach is literally moving. I can see it move from the outside. I love it when this happens at 7:30 in the evening. Not so much at 4:00 in the morning, which has been happening lately. Apparently, all of this stuff is supposed to prepare us for when the baby actually gets here. Yikes. As of Friday, I officially enter the 3rd trimester. Yikes again!

Had chicken and dumplings for dinner. Delicious.

Back tomorrow with carpety awesomeness. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

THIS is where we're putting the baby???

No project that Eric takes on begins quietly. There's never a situation where the house isn't in complete disarray, that we're not constantly tripping over stray pieces of wood, that we don't find sawdust in the dryer filter... The nursery is no different. Because I am in major nesting-mode, I put very strong pressure (read: told Eric that he needed to do this NOW), and we're in progress to complete the nursery. 

This room is the smallest bedroom I have ever seen. It may have been a servants quarters at one point. However, it's also the easiest room to heat and cool in the house, and while I'm no expert, I know that babies are small, and can thus infer that they don't need a lot of space. 

Here is the destruction as of 6:30, Monday October 19. I am setting a goal of being completely done with this room one week from today, except for the carpet, which Eric ripped out, 100% forcing our hand in getting new carpet installed asap. We have people coming on Friday to give us an estimate. 


Ahhh, plaster... About 40% of the house is still plaster, and man, is it a pain in the butt. I love the idea of things being historical and all of that, but it is SUCH A MESS. We've got a big spackling project ahead of us with this one. 

Crappy windows. Downstairs, we removed the weights from the dining room and stuffed some insulation in there. Even though there doesn't appear to be the same level of draft (aka, Arctic breeze) coming through these windows, I suggested we do the same here. Eric, star of my firmament, suggested instead that we keep a 100% functioning window in the room where our child will sleep. I hate to admit I'm wrong, but in this case, I am wrong. 

Finally, this is not nursery related, but has to do with one of my babies. Here is Yogi Bear enjoying the couch all to himself. He lay like that for about two hours last night. Picture of contentment, right? He's been a little gimpy lately--we think he jumped off the bed and landed wrong. He's milking his disability for all it's worth. I saw him run a little while ago when he thought I wasn't looking. But when I am looking, he's limping like crazy. Hummm. Smart doggie. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Drama, Indeed

We're nearing the end of the marathon that is the "man-cave," otherwise known as the finished attic/family room/tv room/baby's playroom. Eric insists it will be his bastion of peace away from the hectic bustle of our house. Ooooh, I think different. 

Anyway, it has been a long and difficult journey. Let's remember together, shall we?

Sometime last fall, probably a year ago, because I remember it was just starting to get cold and I thought we had electric heat. My family was down for a visit and I turned the thermostat on and, hilarious, cold air came out. Of course we have gas heat. And I hadn't even thought to call the gas company to come and turn it on. So, we played Trivial Pursuit while bundled up, and drank a lot. It worked out fine. Anyway, while the fam was here, the boys helped Eric destroy the attic. 

This was pretty awesome, as it was a lot of work, and we got a dumpster the following week, so that pile of drywall didn't stay there for too long. The not-so-awesome part of this adventure was that at the time, we only had the one shower, which was up in the attic bathroom. So, it was a ton of fun tramping up there every morning to shower. That, plus no insulation plus no carpet plus drywall dust everywhere equals Haley's wit's end. Or so I thought. 

As I mentioned earlier, the original plan for the ceiling was to just install the beadboard. But because all of the rafters were just slightly off plumb, Eric had to do this, lest we wind up with a wavy ceiling. It involved probably a month's worth of work. Copious amounts of string and furring strips, and a frustrated Eric. We were STILL using the upstairs shower at this point. And it's getting colder. 

In addition to working on the ceiling, Eric also put in about a ton of loose and roll insulation in the kneewalls and ceiling. Those are his ski goggles. He found several mummified mice in the kneewalls, and actually asked me to carry them downstairs, albeit in a tupperware container. PLEASE, husband. It's like you don't know me at all. 

It is at this point that the attic reached it's most disgusting point, what with the loose fill everywhere and dirt and open kneewalls and BLECH! We had acquired a space heater for the bathroom at this point, which made the showering experience much more pleasant. However, we discovered that racing from bedroom downstairs to shower upstairs in roughly 45-50 degree environment--not so much fun. So we turned the heat on upstairs. Discovered shortly thereafter that the upstairs air handler was hooked up to the box with a 30 amp breaker and 40 amp wire. The handler required 60 amps. I'm just glad we didn't burn the house down. 

Probably last March, Eric got all the drywall installed. Remember that we'd spent roughly a month installing all the furring strips so the drywall wouldn't be necessary. I'm still not sure why we did this. But we did. So there you go. We had a second floor shower by this time--I stopped minding the attic situation so much then. 

Eric then spent the next three months or so installing beadboard over the furring strips and drywall. He did a fantastic job, as you can see. Still, three months? 

Eventually, we got everything trimmed out. As you can see, there is enough wood being used in this room to build an entirely new house. We also went through at least six containers of caulk, two containers of wood putty, half a dozen sanding blocks, and lots of blisters. That is me over in the corner. I've learned that the baby doesn't like manual labor. 

After a couple weeks of priming, sanding, and painting, we're nearly finished. The walls are "Library Pewter," the same color we painted the upper wall in the half bath. That project used about an eighth of a can of paint. Want to guess how much this project used? Just over 7/8 of a gallon. So now I've got to find another project to paint Library Pewter. This project also took three gallons of Antique White high-gloss trim paint. 

Next steps: cleaning up. As you can see, Eric has put all of the junk wood in the bathroom. I am not sure what we're going to do with it. Maybe a dumpster is once again in our future? Within the next month, we'll get the carpet installed and build some storm windows to cover our travesties of dormer windows (original to the house--they might as well be screens for as good as they keep the weather out... Replacing them would cost at least $6,000. So... storms it is). I have promised Eric that as soon as he finishes this room, we can get a new television, as he's currently watching all of his Boston sports on a 19-incher (ha!!! This is the way Boston sports are meant to be watched, in my opinion. Better yet, don't watch them at all). 

“This post was written for as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by True Value:" 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Here's the beautiful ceiling! Like the Sistene Chapel, except out of beadboard, right? I was totally right--it's taking forever to paint. This is just primer, too. 

Here's another shot of the dormer. Eric built that platform, and we found some nice laminate flooring for it. He's going to put his drafting table up there. 

I realized that I never posted a picture of the "finished" half bathroom. We still need to hang the mirror, but it somehow lost a hook. Excuses, excuses...

Finally, here is the Yog-man with his new haircut. He's feeling very confident. Is that a handsome puppers or what?!

It's going to look SO good, but...

We are finally FINALLY painting the man-cave/finished attic. Eric did an amazing job with all of the trim and finishing work, and has ensured that the Menards on 96th St. remains in the black through the end of the fiscal year.

Digression: I've spent enough time in the big box home improvement stores over the last 18 months to fall in and out of love several times with each of them. In one post, and another post, I vowed that never again would I go to Lowes. I have broken this vow many many times over, mainly because Lowes is the closest to downtown. Each time we go, I am disappointed, but that never seems to trump the time I have to spend getting to either of the other places. The Depot is like one of those hot-and-cold boyfriends--one date, things are perfect. You're wined and dined and you leave feeling like it's the start of a beautiful relationship. And then the next date, he shows up wearing a mesh t-shirt and a confederate flag handkerchief around his head, and you're like, what the hell just happened? Menards is okay. It's a nicer looking store, and I like that they have candy prominently displayed throughout. However, their selection really isn't that great, and I haven't noticed that their prices are any better than the others. Still, it's the store of choice for the crew at #2021, at least until they do something to piss us off. Which they will.

Anyway, the story is really about beadboard. As you may remember, we decided back in, ummmm, January I think that rather than re-drywalling the ceiling of the attic after the fam helped Eric totally destroy it. We thought that, given the weight of drywall, the height of the attic ceiling, and the fact that ERic would largely be doing this work on his own, that we'd just aviod the hassle and do a beadboard ceiling. Well... We went out and purchased a small forest worth of beadboard, and Eric started putting it up. Then we discovered that none of the rafters were plumb, so Eric went out and bought another small forest worth of furring strips, and then did something with string that I really didn't understand. He made everything line up just right, and then decided to just go ahead and put up the drywall anyway, and then put the beadboard on top of the drywall. This is the story of my life. We think we're landing on a cost- and time-conscious decision, and then end up doing the work required both for that time-conscious decision AND the decision we originally rejected because it either cost too much or took too long.

You may also remember from my descriptions, or know from personal experience, that Eric is not the type to just "get the job done" (I say this with love, as I am totally the type to just get the job done--as I say, together we make up a whole regular brain) He is borderline OCD when it comes to planning, and full-on crazy when it comes to executing his plan (except when we're about 90% done--then he seems to lose interest). The new beadboard ceiling and trimwork in the attic is something to behold. It's amazing. My Big Sweetie has turned into quite a little carpenter.

The point: the beadboard ceiling and trim are spectacular, and may almost be worth the 9 months we've spent messing with this project. It's going to look SO good, but... it's going to take a heck of a long time to paint.

Pictures forthcoming...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Possum Next Door

At times, I feel very much like I am living in a dream world. Not that things aren't great. They totally are. But too often, situations arise that make me want to pinch myself. And not in a good way.

I have blogged in the past about our somewhat antagonistic relationship with our neighbors. I wish them no ill will, and I understand that a "transitional" neighborhood, by definition, will include homes that are in some state of disrepair (or, let's be honest, should be condemned). Our neighbor to the north is approximately 174 years old, appears to survive on soda, cigarettes and pot, and lives alone, though her daughter visits daily, and they have daily arguments about any variety of issues. These arguments invariably take place on the front porch. Neighbor spends the rest of her time picking up leaves, helicopter seeds, and blades of grass from her lawn--individually. While bent over at the waist and wearing a house coat. You can see the danger this poses on a windy day. The yard is so picked clean, it can grow no grass. Ahh, the irony.

Anyway, she's old, almost certainly has dementia, and in general, leaves us alone, except for the half dozen or so times she's accused us of stealing her broom or rake or porch furniture. We can handle it.

However, last week, Eric was out on the deck doing whatever he does, and heard a scratching noise. Neighbor's soffits are hanging by a thread--literally. They're vinyl, which I'm sure is a violation of the Historical Preservation Commission (one of my colleagues at work calls it the Historical Persecution Commission--ha). Eric stops what he's doing and takes a look around, and sees a possum--a huge possum--emerging from the soffit.

It's my understanding the possums are nocturnal animals. If this possum was so bold as to come out in the middle of the day while someone was making noise nearby, I can't imagine what else is brewing up there in her attic. We've seen birds, dozens of squirrels, and mice making their homes in her house. I draw the line at a possum.

So, Eric and another neighbor put out some humane traps to catch this guy. Of course, nutty neighbor to the north stole the traps. We've spoken to the daughter, who, by all accounts, should be made a saint, except for the fact that she lets her old, dementia-afflicted mother live by herself in a 4,000 square foot home that is literally falling apart. She had a concerned look on her face, but a blank look in her eyes. I doubt this will bring about any change.

My issue is whether to be an understanding neighbor, or to do what I really want to do and call the city and force them to make the fixes. I take no joy in being "that person"--anyone who lives in a historic district knows at least one person who has way too much time on his or her hands and goes around reporting people for minor issues. But in this case, I'm just going to do it.

In other news, and I know I've said this before, Eric is nearly finished with the attic. We should be able to start painting tomorrow. We're going to paint all the beadboard and trim white, and will probably do a nice sage green for the walls. Then, it's nursery time. As I mentioned our progress, or lack thereof to my mom the other day, she said, "Eric doesn't have a timebomb ticking away in his tummy." No, he doesn't, but as more and more of our time is spent either at the doctors office, on the way to the doctors office, or doing some other form of preparation for this child, I think it's starting to hit him that we don't have a lot of time to get things done. We're kicking it into high gear.

We're also taking the dogs to get groomed this week. At this point, it's an expense I really don't want to make, but it became glaringly obvious this morning as Eric hugged Yogi and came away with half a dozen clumps of hair stuck to his shirt that something has got to give. We've attempted to preserve Yogi's fragile male ego while grooming in the past and just stuck to trimming his feathers. No more. Dude is getting SHAVED. I don't care if he looks stupid.

Note: I'm entering a contest. Check it out:
"Love writing about home renovations as much as doing actual home renovations? Got a home improvement-related blog post or story you’re especially proud of? Enter it in the Old House Web Blogger Contest for a chance to win a $250 Lowe’s gift certificate and the opportunity to be a paid contributor to the Old House Blog.

Five finalists will be selected by our judging panel and a synopsis of their posts will be published on the OldHouseWeb blog (with links to original posts). Visitors to the will be able to rate and comment on the finalists. The judging panel will then select a winner based on the highest ratings and the above the criteria. The winner will be awarded $250 and an opportunity to become a paid contributing blogger on“

If you like my blog and feel so inclined, go to the link above and leave a comment "voting" for me. We could use a Lowes gift card (new nursery ceiling!!!), and we certainly have enough houseblog material to last a lifetime...

Thanks to everyone!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Still lame...

But trying hard not to be.

We are finally starting to make some progress again. The downstairs half-bath is finished! New pedestal sink is installed, thanks to some hard work by Big Sweetie. We anticipated a pretty easy installation, but instead (of course) had to do a bunch of plumbing, including installing a p-curve (is that what it's called?)--that thing that traps water in a curve so gas doesn't come up out of the sink? Yeah, anyway, our old sink didn't have that, which explains why every once in a while it would smell kind of funny in the bathroom. I just figured, when that happened, that I'd followed one of Eric's visits too quickly. Anyway, it looks great. We just need to hang the mirror, and maybe find a small rug for the floor.

Eric is still working hard on the attic ceiling, and despite claims that he needs yet more wood (we could build a whole new house with the amount of wood he's already used up there), I think he'll be done relatively quickly. He was even talking about painting and installing a stair rail. And fixing the steps (which are held together by the carpet and are a source of irritation for my mom--I don't blame her). Once the attic walls and ceilings are done, we're renting a dumpster and doing some major demo, including a couple ceilings, all of the grossness that is our current carpet, and all the other crap we've managed to accumulate over the last year. Then new ceilings and new carpet.

Since the "big goal" in my mind has been to get to the new carpet phase of my life, I haven't thought too far ahead in terms of what comes next. Obviously, kitchen is the elephant in the room, but we need to do some major saving for that, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to me to hold off on doing anything until we save enough for the kitchen, because it'll be a long time. So, there are a couple other options:
  • Finish the dining room. As you may know, this room was completely and totally gutted during our initial demo because of some water damage. We have brand new walls and a ceiling that was unfortunately sponged against our wishes, but we wanted the contractor out of our house so badly that we just dealt with it. I have since painted it a pumpkin-y color that I absolutely hate, and even worse, I did it in a semi-gloss. With our neighbor's red house reflecting light into that room, it's like freaking Kenny Roger's Roasters in there (remember from Seinfeld?). The plan is to do some alternating paint and fabric panels, separated by trim. VERY simple trim. Eric gets carried away with trim very easily. I've got something in my head for the fabric/wallpaper, but I'm not sure it exists in real life. That is one of the many reasons I'm thankful for my parents, who not only have great taste, but do this sort of thing for a living.
  • Refinish the floors. This would have a bigger impact on our house than nearly anything else we could do, seeing as we have wood floors throughout, except the bedrooms, and they aren't looking great at all right now. However, I'm not sure I want to do this until we're sure we're done painting for a while. And until we're sure we're not going to be moving a bunch of heavy things through the house. I suppose my choice is pretty clear huh?

Anyway, in other news, baby is doing well. I can feel him or her kicking around in there every once in a while, mainly after dinner, and especially if I've eaten something not particularly good for me, like a meatball sub. S/he went NUTS after one of those last week. I felt a very small kick on the outside last night, but Eric hasn't caught one yet, and I think he's growing dejected. It's still a bit early, so I suppose he can just wait it out. I am officially, as of tomorrow, halfway through. That is nothing short of weird for me. I feel like I just found out myself. Now, all of a sudden, I'm massive, fully into maternity clothes (except for empire waist dresses and some skirts--thank goodness for the Bella Band) and January doesn't seem so far away anymore...

Heading up north this weekend to visit the fam, and Abby is throwing me a shower, which should be great. I always look forward to being in Roscommon. I wish someone would invent a teleportation device so I could LIVE there and WORK here. That would be awesome. Teleportation would totally be my superpower if I could pick one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm not as lame as this blog makes me appear...

In real life, I follow through with things. I get in touch with friends regularly. I talk to my mom nearly every day. Why can't I get it together to post more often? There's no excuse. I haven't even been that busy. It's similar to my attitude towards the grocery store--I know I should, and once I get there sometimes I even enjoy myself. But I still find reasons not to.

Anyway, everything's good around here. Saw the baby on the ultrasound this week. S/he looks like an angry little alien. Seriously. So angry that I almost didn't hang the pictures on the fridge.

House projects have stalled, but will pick up again this weekend. We went out and got a new pedestal sink for the half bath that matches the trim color. We'll also will eventually buy a new toilet in a lovely "biscuit" color, but that's eventually. We got a nice new light fixture, TP holder, faucet and towel rack, too. Wahoo!

Eric WILL finish the attic ceiling sometime within the next 10 days. I'm hoping he's reading this.

At that point, we'll soldier ahead with the ceilings in the guest bedroom (somewhat ruined by rain from a freak storm that blew through here several weeks ago and demonstrated a previously unknown gap between the window and wall...) and the baby's room. Instead of drywall, we're going to go with the decorative ceiling panels, which should be much cheaper and MUCH easier to install by ourselves. Plus, it'll look great. Eventually, we're tearing out all of the ceilings in this house, which for some reason are all sponged plaster. They must have been replaced in the 80s. Ugh.

In other news, Marion County has released its 2008 home assessments, which will be the basis of our upcoming property tax bills (due October and April/May). Here's the situation... Marion County is a ridiculous place, and is in the process of catching up on several back years of property taxes. Our first year in the house, we did not pay property taxes. The bank paid them, because we bought as a foreclosure and as a closing contingency, we did not want to pay taxes for a year in which we didn't live in/own the home. Immediately upon moving here, we filed for our homestead and mortgage exemptions, and filed for an assessment appeal. And were told that that appeal will take at least 18 months. Ahem... So our assessment for this last property tax bill that we had to pay in July, for our house that we bought for $139,900, was $360,000. WHAT!!????!!! Plus no exemptions because it's the first year, plus no appeal... Let's just say that this little bill put our kitchen plans on the back burner for at least six months.

Anyway, the good news is that our assessment has been revised down to $219K--still more than what the house is worth, but a more reasonable figure--our exemptions are kicking in, and the property tax caps that the legislature has been talking about for such a long time are finally working. We should not get completely and utterly screwed once again. PHEW!!! I don't mind paying taxes. In fact, when I notice my nice newly paved sidewalks, functioning sewer system, and running water, I'm happy for them. However, sometimes things just don't work. This past bill was one of those times.

I am very much looking forward to a visit from my darling Ashie and her sidekick/doggie Banjo. They're coming down this weekend from Chicago. We're planning a very low-key weekend that should involve a lot of dog walking, going to Target, eating, and, as always happens when we're in close proximity, giggling. Ash and I worked together at ANF in Boston, and shared an office. We got a ton of work done, but I tell you, if you'd put two less intrisically-motivated people with lots in common and a shared love of singing Chicago songs to each other in the same office, the results would not be the same. She's my special girl, and I can't wait!


Monday, August 10, 2009


Rice Krispie Treats!!! Now!!!!!!

This is one of the best and worst things about being pregnant. When I know what I want, I REALLY want it and feel justified in eating it (because the baby told me so). But I also feel as though I must MUST have it, creating drama when I can't have it. And often, by the time I get it, I don't want it anymore (evidence: the three containers of cottage cheese in my refrigerator).

I've had such a weird relationship with food these last several months. Couldn't stand to see it, smell it, let alone eat it for the first 12 weeks. I survived on Claussen pickles, saltine crackers, and copious Freezer Pops. I also went through a brief love affair with rotisserie chicken. I was at the grocery store, smelled it, bought it, and fell upon it ravenously when I got home. I did the same thing the following day, got it home and couldn't even look at it. Same thing with cole slaw a couple times, and potato salad. Anyway, I'm past that now, and eating whatever I can get my hands on except for meat.

So, in the immortal words of Westley from The Princess Bride, it appears as though we are at an impasse. I have no Rice Krispie Treats, or means to make or get them for quite a while. It will also require that I stop at the store, and invest the money and time to get the materials and make the Treats. Will I still want them? That is a chance I think I'm willing to take.

In other pregnancy news, I may be feeling the first little flutters--quickening, if you will. There is definitely something going on down there. Either this kid is going to be a sprinter or I'm responding poorly to the pound of salad I ate for lunch (still hungry). Whichever it is, it's made for an interesting afternoon.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I love Sunday mornings

Especially ones like today. I got up way too early for a weekend, around 6:30, because the Pix apparently REALLY had to go. I don't begrudge her. I had to go, too... for the sixth time in 8 hours. Ugh. I'm up drinking a cup of coffee, my first in months, watching Ratatouille, enjoying puppy cuddles. Good stuff. 

It's a lovely day. A little hot for my taste, but nice. The sun coming through the windows is doing a great job in highlighting all the dust on the woodwork and incredibly dirty windows. I should get down to that at some point, I suppose. 

Spent a good portion of yesterday painting the bathroom. For the smallest room in the house, it's taking a heck of a long time. I did all the trim yesterday. As soon as I finish, we'll go get the new light fixture and vanity. Sold the old pedestal sink yesterday. 

We also went grocery shopping at the Fresh Market yesterday, which is always fun. Eric saw a sign for steaks on sale, and felt compelled. They were a great deal, actually, so he's in meat for the foreseeable future. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Recent Activities: Excuses for Not Posting

In non-house related news, let's just say that things have been rather wild and crazy lately.

This is probably the biggest news I've ever delivered... We're having a baby! For the first three months, the only thing I could think was "holy crap." Now, I'm still thinking that, but I'm also noticing how many sharp corners are exposed in this house, power tools that are sitting on the floor... Not cool. We'll be kicking it into high gear over the next 6 or 7 months, for sure. 

The experience so far has been interesting. I guess I never thought about what being pregnant would be like--maybe I thought it would be like normal, except with a baby. Well, it's not normal. I think it's very weird. 

But overall, it's been a relatively painless time. I didn't throw up a bunch at the start--maybe half a dozen times--but I was nauseous ALL THE TIME. And I couldn't eat anything except for a piece of fruit every once in a while and those Icy Pop popsicles, which still are the most delicious thing in the world. The worst experience, though, happened in mid-June. I'd just hit week 7, and had to go out to Denver for a conference. The nausea and sickness hit like a ton of bricks, and I couldn't control anything--what I ate, when I ate, how close I was to a bathroom, etc. Miserable. I was supposed to fly out from Denver to Chicago Midway for another meeting in Hammond, Indiana, starting at 6:00. Well, the flight was delayed for 6 hours. SIX HOURS! I didn't get into Chicago till 10:30. I hopped into a cab and told the guy I needed to go to Hammond, which is located on I-80, exit 3. I could have found it myself. Well, he typed it into his GPS, and we ended up taking a lovely tour of South Chicago at midnight. He was a terrible driver, too, so we're all over the road, jerking around, etc. etc. You know what's coming. I ended up puking in the cab. Thankfully, I'd stolen a barf bag from the plane.

Anyway, things are better now. My appetite is back. I can't eat much, but at least I want to eat. Discovered in a meeting yesterday that things aren't pretty if I wait too long. I was ready for lunch around 11:45, but people kept talking and talking until 12:30. Finally, I jumped in and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but for the sake of time, let's eat lunch." And then raced out the door to get a sandwich. 

So, that's our big news. Exciting, weird, scary all at once!

Recent Activities: Pictures

Like I said, it's been a while. We haven't had time to get too much done, but we're making progress, I suppose. 

First, Eric realized a long-time dream of his: to be the proud owner of a grill. He's using this opportunity to eat as many hamburgers, brats, and steaks as his tummy will allow. 

After the deck construction project, the yard around it was pretty much ravaged, so we figured we'd put in some planting areas. Our lovely neighbors Ryan and Laurin had a big pile of great old bricks that they were willing to donate to the cause. These are old school bricks--huge, glazed, with raised printing indicating that they were fired in Brazil, Indiana. Super cool. Our plants are doing okay, particularly the ones with the pink flowers. I'm hoping that next summer is when they really take off. 

The deck, while functioning, is nowhere close to finished, mainly because Eric has decided to make it into an architectural wonder. As you can see, the completed side on the right is great looking. However, we have to extend that all the way around. It may well be next summer before it actually gets done. I am okay with this. 

One area where we have made some progress is the downstairs half bath. Now that I reflect, I'm not sure why I had such a bee in my bonnet about getting it trimmed out, other than Eric had already purchased the wood and it was sitting in the dining room. Anyway, I primed everything this morning, and we'll be ready to paint in a bit. We're using a lovely Sherwin-Williams approved color scheme, and I'm pretty excited about how it's going to turn out.

Overall, this summer has been absolutely wonderful. We haven't turned the AC on since June, it's been so nice and cool. Despite that, our tomato plant is flourishing. We have 5 or 6 tomatoes getting ready to ripen! 

Finally, our puppies continue to entertain us. Eric is realizing slowly that he is not the boss. 

Friday, July 31, 2009

I know, I know...

It's been a long time. The good news is that we have some really great excuses for not updating. Pictures and info tomorrow!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Like sands through the hourglass...

So are the days of my life. They're slipping past. Honestly, I can vividly remember the last time I posted, and it doesn't feel like it was 2 weeks ago. What the hell?

Rest assured that virtually no progress has been made on the house in those two weeks, with the exception of some woodwork on the deck--pillars, railing, etc. I am very much enjoying the deck, but I am starting to resent the amount of Eric's time that it is taking. After all, I don't live on the deck--I live in a master suite without a toilet or a shower. And dammit, it's supposed to be sunny and nice all week, so no forced inside days either. Phooey.

Anyway, despite the lack of progress, we are gearing up for some big projects, the largest being new carpet for all of the bedrooms and the upstairs attic. I can't wait. It will be nice to lay down on the carpet with the puppies and not feel repulsed. Yogi is a shedding fool, and is loosing hair in clumps, while the Pix just lays down a fine layer of black hair wherever she goes. The combination is lethal. We picked up an entire vaccum cleaner canister just from an 8x10 rug the other day. And we'd just swept the day before. Disgusting.

Pix and I just got back from a lovely weekend in Northern Michigan. It was a bit chilly, so there was no beach or swimming--just as well, as every crazy person in Michigan descended upon Higgins Lake with their firecrackers, flag t-shirts, and mullets. I don't want to sound like a snob, but Dad and I went to the grocery store, and we just looked at each other with wide eyes. Got to the car, and we said, "Who are these people and what are they doing in my town?" It's like an up-north version of the 500 festival. Yikes.

Meanwhile, work is nuts, but that is a good thing. A state budget passed at the last minute means no mandatory unpaid vacation for Haley. Wahoo! I'm all about the vacation, but not so much with the unpaid part. I've got property taxes to pay...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hot Hot Hot!

The name of one of my favorite Cure songs, and the state of the state right now. Darn, it's boiling out there. Thankfully, we have procured a window unit AC for the master bedroom... Here's a story for you.

So, when it started getting cold and we finally turned the heat on, we started wondering why in the world it didn't get warm in the master bedroom. We're cool with this--we like it cold when we sleep. However, given that there's a vent in the master, we had, reasonably I thought, expected that heat and cool would flow out of it. Well, we were wrong. I discovered that someone had gone to the trouble of cutting a hole in the floor of the master bedroom, and indeed, it is just a hole. It leads into nothingness. So, anyway, we brought a guy in to see what it would cost to fix it, and it's not a terrible price, relatively speaking of course, but we just haven't gotten around to it with all of the other stuff we've got going on around here. So, yes. The window unit is WONDERFUL. The puppies are enjoying it, as well. Yogi was a little suspicious at first. And by suspicious, I mean when we turned it on, he high-tailed it out of the room and wouldn't come back for a while. But he's come around. They enjoy laying on their backs in front of the breeze, letting it cool their tummies and nether regions. Smart doggies!

Meanwhile, Eric is making major progress on the deck and backyard. Our planters are fully in and the plants are in the ground. Looks great. Our neighbor had a huge stack of old bricks he was looking to unload. These are great old bricks--the huge, glazed kind with the raised letters. So we used those for lining the planting areas. He's also doing something with the posts. I can't really describe it because I don't "see" it yet, but I'm sure it'll look good. All I know is that there's more wood being used on that deck than in the rest of the house combined.

Next project up is the master bathroom. We've already got the tile for the floor and shower walls, so we just need to get the accent tiles. We've picked it out already--glass mosaic with gray, orange, and green. I think it'll look great. I'm hoping we get this finished sometime within the next month or so.

My tomato plant is growing like nuts. It's HUGE! It's already got blossoms, even though the plant description said it wouldn't produce fruit for 60 days. Apparently, the plant description people underestimated the power of Indiana summer.

Pictures soon... Peace.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Not an ideal situation...

Since Monday afternoon, I have been in Denver for a conference. Ann picked me up from the airport and we had a delightful dinner with her husband, Jon, and their darling toddler, Narelle. It was just wonderful, because I last met Narelle when she was but a fetus. Between Monday evening and right now, I have been outside once, and that was just to get on the shuttle to the airport. The conference was great, but 9-10 hours a day of substance, plus receptions, well, it gets exhausting. 

Anyway, I made it to the airport with time to spare in order to make my 1:30 scheduled flight to Chicago, which I'd arranged in order to make a Commission meeting this evening in Gary, and get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's big Commission meeting. Well, as of right now, my plane is scheduled to take off not at 1:30, but at 7:15, getting me into Chicago at roughly 11:30. Then I have to rent a car and drive to Gary, maybe sleep for 6 hours, and then drive back to Indy tomorrow afternoon. 

I know that I can make it. I have to make it--there are no other options for getting the hell out of here. But it's going to suck. 

Thursday, June 4, 2009

We're still alive...

Just barely. It's been nothing short of ridiculous around here. Busy! But full of progress. We are no longer jumping three feet down from the back door. Our hanging baskets no longer depress us and our neighbors. We actually have plants in the ground. All good things. 

So, our weekend began on Friday afternoon, when my parents arrived from Michigan. Their trip down was very adventurous. They hit a deer going about 50 on the highway. Thankfully dad was able to slow down, and the deer bounced off the car instead of into the car. The irony is that they had just had the front grill of the car replaced last week. These things happen, I suppose. 

We began work on the deck on Saturday morning. Last week, Eric had successfully sunk the posts and started on the main floor support for the deck. I am convinced that this is the most solidly constructed feature of our house. A tornado comes through and destroy the house? The deck will remain. The puppies helped supervise the work. Pixie is quite the taskmaster.

Dad and Eric doing something with the floor joyce. 

This was one of approximately 3 minutes of the day where Eric was in a good mood. 

Sunday, they started with the actual floor. Made tremendous progress.

Dad was still able to fit in some quality time with his girl, Madison. That dog is in love with my dad. And he with her. They are quite a pair. 

While Dad and Eric were busy with the deck, Mom and I occupied ourselves by prettying things. First order of business was replacing the pansies in the hanging baskets which all simultaneously decided to die. I don't know what happened. Anyway, we found some beautiful begonias and some little creeping white flowers. I'm pleased. They look so nice against the house. Now, if only I could get Eric to get the drywall off the front porch...

About 5 weeks ago, I planted a little rose bush--one of those that you buy for $6 at Home Depot that's basically just a root bulb and some stems. Well, one of the bushes has done nothing, but the other has just thrived. We got our first roses early this week! Now, I would like to uproot the entire front yard and just make a wild rose garden. Eric says no. 

For the backyard, we got some rhododendron bushes, Sweet William, and some peonies, donated to the effort by our neighbors who don't get enough sun for them to grow. So far, the peonies are struggling a bit--they're traumatized by the move--but the others are doing great, and we even have some blooms on the Sweet William. 

Finally, we got a tomato plant starter. Mom will appreciate this. When we planted this on Sunday afternoon, it went halfway up to the first ring of the tomato cage. In 5 days, it has doubled in size. I expect many delicious tomatoes this summer. You can all come over for a nice Caprese salad in August. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still no deck...

It's definitely not an ideal situation. Our back door is located about three feet from the ground, and without a deck, that is a long trip down for the puppies, who sometimes forget that there's no deck. 

Eric and cousin Matt spent a tremendous amount of time this weekend preparing for the deck. This included doing something with string that took a really long time. I asked Eric what he was doing with the string, and he started to explain to me, but I lost interest. 

Here are Eric and Matt digging post holes. 

And here is our future deck, stacked in the backyard. Funny--it felt like more when we moved it into the yard, piece by piece, on an 85 degree night... 

In other news, we're enjoying a nice day off. I will likely try to get some work done today, particularly if it's raining, but I generally enjoy a day where, even if I do work, I don't HAVE to work. We're going up to the northside in a while to look at a couple antique chairs that we may purchase. That will be fun. 

So far this spring, I've been bitten by no fewer than 15 mosquitos (or multiple bites by the same mosquito). This is perplexing to me, as Eric has no bites and he was outside all weekend. I also have a mystery rash on my left elbow, which is making me crazy. I'm up at 7:00 on my day off. I'm falling apart. 

Remember the fence I keep going on about? Here is visual evidence of its disgustingness. This is just one example. Another would include the far section of fence, which is apparently not held into the ground with anything and is leaning quite significantly. Eric is hesitant to take down the fence without a replacement. I say, I could TOUCH that fence and it would dissolve at my fingertips. This thing is not providing us with any additional security. 

So, we're going to replace it. The retaining wall of our dreams is just not going to happen this year (or next), so we'll put up another fence, and and arbor over the steps up to the house. I think that will look nice. Hell, it will have to look nicer than this. 

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Tomorrow is our one-year anniversary of owning our house. This blows my mind. We didn't move in till July, but effectively, as of one year ago, our thoughts, marriage, and basically our entire lives became consumed with the house and all of its aspects--being broke all the time, living in squalor, worrying about when we're going to have a kitchen, finally getting over the fact that our dishwasher is in a box in the dining room... It's all good. We're pretty happy here. 

To put things in perspective, here's what we've done in the last 12 months:
  • Removed approximately 250 linear feet of trim (which is still on the floor)
  • Removed nails from 250 linear feet of trim
  • Ripped plaster lathe and insulation from two rooms 
  • Insulated and drywalled two rooms
  • Scrubbed drywall off of floors in kitchen, living room, dining room, foyer and upstairs hallway after contractors didn't put down a dropcloth
  • Fixed 9 splits in copper piping
  • Got a new water heater
  • Removed tub, vanity and shower stall from guest and master bathrooms
  • Build the frame for new shower stalls in guest and master bathrooms
  • Painted the kitchen, dining room, living room, foyer (twice), hallway with 25 foot ceilings, master bath (twice), master bedroom (twice), guest bedroom, guest bathroom, third bedroom (twice), bookshelves, fence (now decrepit)
  • Tiled, trimmed guest bathroom, and made a new shower
  • Removed carpet and ceiling from the attic
  • Replaced the ceiling with awesome beadboard
  • Insulated the entire attic space
  • Built a fence around the backyard
  • Built a stoop, soon to be replaced by a real deck
  • Replaced the roof
  • Replaced all the rotten siding around the house
  • Painted the house
I'm forgetting stuff, too. This makes me feel very productive and good about myself. I should do this more often.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bathroom Tile and Garage Sales

So sleepy... We have been busy little bees today. At least I feel like I've been busy. But it evens out--I work longer, but take more breaks, while Eric works a shorter time, but takes no breaks and is actually productive, whereas I just move stuff around and use a lot of furniture polish. It seems to work out okay for us. 

Today, I woke up early, before the puppies even. It wasn't necessarily intentional, but was a bonus because our neighborhood had a garage sale today. Generally, I don't "do" garage sales. I think it stems from a garage sale I was in on when I lived in Santa Fe, which wasn't fun. Anyway, I decided to head back out today to see what's up. I stopped first at our lovely neighbors Tom and Ed's house. I've been in their house. It is amazing and they have perfect taste. I found a lovely blue wedgewood vase and a candy dish in the same pattern. Then I headed down the street to one of the larger houses in our neighborhood. Seriously, this place is at least 6,000 square feet. I've not been inside it, but it's on the puppies' walk route, so I gaze at it daily. There, I found a nice inside tree and an old sewing machine that I'm going to use as a table up in the hallway. It has seen better days. I just cleaned it all up.  Then up the street, where I hit the mother load. I found a rocking chair, a low extra chair for the living room, and a tallboy for the bottom of the stairs. WHOO! I just have to find a lamp for that, and we'll be good to go. 

I was done by about 9:00, so came back and had some coffee, and then Eric and I headed up to the northside to look at some tile for the master bathroom. We've been keeping our eyes on Craigslist, because you can really find some great deals on there. I was about 2 hours late for a bid on 300 square feet of Daltile glass mosaic for $100. Could've kicked myself... Anyway, we saw an ad for a sale at the warehouse where we stop occasionally to look around, and guess what we found!

I don't think you can see it very well in this picture, but this is a polished porcelain--kind of shiny. I've been pricing this stuff for ages, and I think we got a pretty good deal. $2.29 a square foot? Had been at least $7. I'm pleased. Now we just have to rip out the tile and vanity that are in the master bath now. Eric is also going to bump the master closet into the bathroom space. I am thinking that this tile will likely be on our front porch through the end of summer, enhancing our trash-ness. However, we can't just bring it all inside and put it in the bathroom, because I seriously think it would crash through the floor. We've got 26 boxes and each box weighs at least 30 pounds... I'd rather not tempt fate. 

Eric is still working on the ceiling in the attic. It's coming along, but he has a lot of trimming to do, and some drywall patching to work on, too. He wants to finish it before it gets too hot, as even though the venting we've done will help, on a hot day it's like Hades up there. 

Meanwhile, the puppies are being good and staying out of the way. Pixie sits like this on the couch all the time, making sure she doesn't miss anything, while Yogi just seeks comfort.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


We had a doozy of a storm last night that left branches everywhere (except on my car! Hooray!!!) and tulips from our tulip tree scattered across the neighborhood. It's a mess.
Eric is upstairs cutting and nailing away at the ceiling, which is taking roughly 900% longer than we anticipated. 

And here's spring at #2021. Notice the painted foundation. It's about half done. I couldn't bend over anymore. 

We're getting rid of that shrub. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Optimus Prime

That's right--I was, truly, a machine this morning, as I primed the foundation in preparation for a coat of nice brick red paint. While the tuck pointing was a rousing success, we discovered that the foundation uses several different kinds of bricks, as we went around inspecting. So we're just painting the brick to match the chimney and I think it'll look great. The primer has to set for 24 hours, so we'll put the color on tomorrow. I can't wait--this really looks like crap right now. 

In the back, we're having mixed success in growing our grass. I seeded the hell out of the bald spots this morning. Keep your fingers crossed for us. I also primed our rain barrel. 

Meanwhile, Eric is making real progress on the attic ceiling. See the before and after. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tucking Points

I'm still not convinced that I couldn't have done the tuckpointing myself, but I have to admit, it looks really good. And it only took a day!



Sweet. We've got to seal it up, which we'll probably do this weekend, and then we'll paint it the same copper red as we painted the chimney. It will look great. Then it's deck-building time...