Wednesday, December 30, 2009

No Man's Land

Mah Boys are supposed to be returning from their mountain camping trip today. Thank goodness. I have been single parenting since Sunday morning and I don't really like it. Because it's hard.

I knew that already. It's one of those things I see other folks doing and I wonder how in the hecks they do it. Something I had a small taste of in the past and hope I never have to do again.

So anywho there's that and the added chores I have to do. In the dark. In the cold. After being at work all day.
And of course, as soon as the guys left town it did this:

That's 6 inches or so of snow. And it was 18 degrees yesterday morning and 12 degrees this morning.

When Mark asked me yesterday if it was OK for them to stay one more day because Sam was having such a fun time, it took all my power to not play my Girl Card and whine for them to come home as originally planned. In spite of my unenthusiasm, I really was happy they were having a good time, so I grinned and bore it.

My routine has been:

6am Wake up and lie in bed for half an hour pep talking myself into going outside.

6:30am Out of bed, put on the same stinky jeans I've been using for chores since Sunday and go directly outside to feed the furnace. So it's dark, snow is getting in my shoes and gloves, I'm hunting for logs I can actually heft, hot coals threatening to fall out on me. It's super dramatic.

6:45am Run to the shower because I hate the smell of wood smoke all over me.

7:30am Start the process of nagging the girls to get up so I can take them to Mawsi's house. Thank goodness for Mawsi...

Then time starts to blur. We're looking for shoes, we're forgetting things, arguing about who sits where in the car, complaining about how cold it is, etc. And then somehow I end up at work.

4pm Mawsi drops the girls off at the office so they can come home with me. They climb the walls in boredom for the next hour.

5pm rolls around and we head home.

Back into my stinky jeans, Mark's muck boots because I can't find mine (I think they took them to the mountains by mistake?,) and coat hood tied tight around my head because it's booger-freezing weather out there. It's a very sexy look, also.

To the barn, feed the cats.

To the van, which is parked a city block away and uphill both ways, where the steer feed is temporarily stored. Two full 5 gallon buckets of feed carried down to the troughs with a bit to spare for the chickens.

Back to the barn for the horse feed. Haul it down to the other gate where they are nickering impatiently and Nikki is wringing her neck at my slowness.

At this point the yard looks like a Family Circus cartoon of Billy's dash-dash-dash through the neighborhood, my footprints in the snow telling the tale of of where I've been.

It's damn cold and dark by the time I close the barn up again and head to the furnace for its second feeding of the day. Temperatures in the teens means I'm not about to skimp on feeding the furnace. By that time, I'm over the coldness because I'm coming in the home stretch. Sort of.

From then on it's all about the coon dog 'til she goes to bed at 9pm. I take her out, beg her to pee, she won't. We come back in, she paces in front of the door, I take her out, beg her to pee, she won't. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I'd leave her tied out for a while but it's just so dang cold I can't do it. Why won't she pee?! 9 o'clock can't come too soon after 3 plus hours of dog potty training paranoia. So far we've had no accidents, but I'm pretty sure the dog thinks I'm a loon putting her out every 15 frickin minutes.

And it makes preparing dinner a little hectic. Including Jill's dinner which requires me to mix her fish oil supplement with peanut butter to pour over her food. The dog gravy Mark bought her just wasn't quite cutting it. Ya.

Speaking of dinner, I've nearly accomplished my goal of personally consuming all the turning fruits & vegetables in the refrigerator. Two nights of squash & jalapeno stir fry. Just as good reheated the second day?

I did try to talk the girls into going to the little restaurant up the road last night, but Lily wasn't having it. She'd rather make me scrape together a sad dinner of tater tots and venison burger for her to complain about and refuse to eat.

But there's light at the end of the tunnel I think. Jill peed without me begging this morning. Lily did eventually fall asleep after coming downstairs at 10 o'clock to tell me about all the nightmares she was having. Thanks for that, Lily, because you halfway had me creeped out. Sheesh.

And the boys might be home in time today to relieve me of my stinky jeans duties. That wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

There's A Stranger In My House

Several things have come to light in the last 3 months or so that have fairly rocked my world. They all have to do with my husband not being the man I thought he was.

First, there was a lovely lunch Mark and I shared at a hidden gem of a restaurant. Yummy soup and a big basket of homemade potato chips between us, we sat nestled in a pretty little wooden booth. I was quietly, sneakily I thought, picking all the folded potato chips out of the basket because they are my favorite (because they are superior to flat potato chips) and leaving Mark the flat ones. It was an intimate atmosphere and I decided to share my innermost secret love of the folded potato chips and how I was picking them all out of the basket. Self-sabotaging, I know, but I was all lovey-dovey and sharing. Plus I was expecting to hear that he prefers the flat crisps, which would just reaffirm what a perfect couple we make because we each eat what the other doesn't prefer.
Anyhow, what I learned was that he too believed that he was sneaking out all the good folded chips and leaving me the flat chip dross. How rude! Talk about a bombshell.

Then, there was Thanksgiving over at my Dad's house. The house used to belong to my Dad's Dad who recorded our measurements on the wooden trim of the doorway betwixt the kitchen and dining room. There you will find measurements not only of all the grand kids, but parents, cousins, step-relatives, neighbors and dogs.
After some good food and cocktails we decided to update some measurements. We learned that Sam is now taller than me, but I was happy to discover that I was not lying when I've completed questionnaires with my height as 5'6", 'cause I'm 5'6 1/4"! Woo!
The disturbing thing I learned is that my supposedly 6 foot tall husband of more than 7 years/been knowin' for like 10 years, has really been 5'11" this whole time! We've been living a lie, and I told him as much.

Next there was our hardcore IKEA shopping adventure. I had 3-D sketches, lists, and measurements. I dragged him all over the store, while I touched, tried, and inspected all sorts of things. I was still puzzling through how the whole thing would work, if the whole thing would work, so I was questioning the salespeople, questioning myself, and questioning Mark, who just. wanted. to be. done. with the whole thing. But Mark was patient and did his best to pay attention to things that mattered not to him.
As we sat in the warehouse waiting for our things to be brought out, I posed some sort of question or scenario to him, to which he immediately nodded enthusiastically. Too soon he nodded enthusiastically, because in the very same breath I totally changed my mind and said, no no no, that won't work, and I caught his head full of glazed-over eyes mechanically start shaking no, no, no. I said You're totally not listening to a word I say, are you? And he was caught. I think he even surprised himself a little at how instinctual the nodding and headshaking agreement was. So what I thought was this great team effort was nothing more than some sort of evolutionary husband self preservation mechanism. I'll give him a pass on that one, because I'm actually a little impressed.

However, most recently, I learned something so sad, so shocking, that I'm not sure what to do with the information. We were chit-chatting ourselves to sleep one night, all cozy and content in our bed, when somehow we came upon the subject of smells. Smells we prefer, smells we hate, you know. It's a conversation we've had countless times before for whatever reason. Naturally I say that one of my favorite smells my whole life through has been the smell of a horse. Everybody can appreciate horse smell. It is unmistakeable, the fresh grassy, horsey smell. It is aromatherapy for me to go sniff the horses, and I do not have a problem with smelling like one myself after a nice long ride. I mean, not to go out to dinner or anything, but still, I like it.
But Mark, after growing up around horses his whole life, humoring me with my horses, tells me that on a scale of 1 to 10, with pigs be a mega-stinky 10, and baby, I can vouch for that, he would places horses at least as an 8. What? And he said that when he tells me that I smell like a horse, no matter how gently he says it, it is most certainly not a compliment and he thinks I stink. It's a sad state of affairs indeed.

I'm trying to look on the bright side though. I figure things shouldn't get dull when we have so many enthralling unknowns to discover about one another. And he's already told me about the biggest tree he's ever known, so what more could there be to tell?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I IKEAed the hell out of that room.

Whoop whoop. Merry Christmas and all that jazz.

Go 'head and laugh. Isn't this just so tender vittles? The family business. Awwwww. (Not sure why I look scared-ish. Look at all those fiveheads!)Oh, but hey, we went to see Avatar opening day. Loved it! The effects, that is. Fun time with the fam.
But before that, I decided it would be a good idea to rip my entire house apart right before the holidays. I thought Let's paint. Let's tear up carpet. Let's put a new kitchen counter top in and swap bedrooms around. We can pile garbage and debris 4 feet high on the porch in front of the door. Let us grossly underestimate the amount of time everything will take and make our house barely liveable for a few days. Yes, now is a good time to do these things.

I'm kind of exagerating (who me,) but not much. And as always, I don't have true before and after shots to illustrate the makeover-ness of it all. So picture the entire room that sickly flesh color shown inside the closets. The closets we left unpainted because we were at the end of our painting rope.

Also picture the most dastardly, wickedly ugly striped! (in shades of crap) carpet and you're halfway to imagining the Before. This was my bedroom (well, Mark's, too,) but now it's Sam's. He selected the wall color. It's very soothing.

This is the girls room pre-carpet. Aggie picked out the wall colors. I was a little scared about the colors, but I like them ok now. This room had pinky pink walls and a turquoise piece of carpet which didn't fit the room. It was super nice of the previous owner to leave it behind for us. I just covered that square hole they cut in the carpet with an equally ugly area rug. Way pretty! The girls even helped paint a little, which is a test of patience after spending all day prepping the room, let me tell you.

Not sure if you can read this: but Mark, ever the role model, painted "Aggie Stinks" on our newspaper window blinds.

"So-in-so Stinks" is like our own family grafitti. I don't get involved too often, but it's not uncommon to find this sentiment scrawled on homework, the newspaper, or a scrap of paper towel left for the allegedly stinky person to find. But Aggie fixed it to say "Dad(ie) Stinks." And there it will stay until JCPenney's sweat shop (kidding!) sees fit to ship my Roman blinds.

So this is basically an after shot. I didn't stage this so well, what with the busted handles on the shabby dresser (I'm gettin' to it!) and the not quite made bed.

Sam's room didn't photograph so well either. Plus I didn't include his sweet TV/PS3/Wii setup hidden in the closet. He has revealed his inner neatnik also. He had this room whipped into shape in no time. The bed is YoYo approved as you can see. (Pile of laundry wasn't supposed to be in the photo.)
And this represents 10 lbs of $#!t in a 5lb bag.In moving our bedroom down to Sam's former room we lost about half the area and nearly all closet space. We also increased the size of our bed thereby taking up even more room.
Why do it then? Well, because this room sits right on the porch giving easy access by window to the bedroom. Usually all the kids camped out in this room. I should probably be embarassed to admit that I've let the girls sleep on the floor in Sam's room for years, but it's been going on for so long that I've grown numb to it. Eh, so sue me, right? Point being that I was way upstairs at night and all my chilluns was down in that room where someone could break right in an' snatch them.

So I've been puzzling these many years how we could create storage and a livable space in an approximately 9 foot by 9 foot room.

Enter IKEA, land of "affordable" (cheap? flimsy? nah!) furniture. We've never really invested in any good furniture to date figuring on heavy use and abuse with 3 children and a somewhat occasionally careless (no offense Darling!) man in the house.

So for our purposes IKEA works wonders. It's functional (if you're selective,) versatile, and you aren't totally heartbroken if it breaks because it didn't cost a fortune. My only beef with IKEA is that they (purposely, I swear) don't tell you everything you'll need for some projects just to force you back into that store where ohmygoshhowcuteisthatthingIdidn'tseetheotherdaywhenIwasjusthere jumps up at you and you buy something else.

Not to mention it's a good half hour away. Totally incovenient when you've unloaded a van load of boxes of unassembled furniture, had a remodelling-fueled meltdown with your husband and then sat in a teary heap on the floor after opening the very first box to find that they gave you the wrong damn colored cabinet.

But anyway, the final result is swell. I love having a small but efficient bedroom. It forced us to get rid of even more excess stuff, something I've been working on for the past year or so. Mark also bought a big honkin' tv to put on the wall. Probably horrible fung shui but awesome for watching movies in bed.

Also made a decision on the kitchen countertop. It's white with teensy black stippling (word?) dots? that give it a grey appearance. It looks like the silestone sample I was coveting but it is good old formica. I did splurge on the integrated sink though. Love it! Loved it even more when they finally delivered the damn backsplashes on Christmas Eve. Retrofitted to preserve our crazy tile backsplash. Very important.
Not the Taj Mahal, but pretty good for a formerly almost condemned 100 plus year old house!
So all this stuff meant we kept putting off getting a Christmas tree. There simply wasn't any place to put it because the living room was our stuff receptacle. We kept saying Tomorrow we'll get the tree, tomorrow but then tomorrow was Christmas and we had no more time. So thankfully we had Lily's beautiful fiber optic tree from the dollar store. Perfecto!

See that Santa's hat up there? On it is a peel of the clementine Lily left for Santa. No milk and cookies this year. Her only regret was that she forgot to leave something for the reindeer. I told her I'm sure they had plenty from all the other houses, no worries.
I think it was still a good Christmas.I even surprised Sam with his gifts. Mah Boy needs a hair cut!Mawsi is thrilled with our Christmas gift to them.Christmas breakfast brimming with pork and biscuits.
That's Fluffy Fluff Fluffbug sleeping in the crook of Lily's arm. Cat is weird!
Laughing at Lily's mechanical cockroach toy.
And now here I sit as the satellite guy installs a cable for our new tv (lot's of tv's in this post huh.) Mark, Sam, & Pops are in the mountains for the Men's Christmas Trip. Aggie's at a friend's, Lily's at her grandma's and I'm here babysitting a coondog.
Miss Jill is learning to be a house dog but she needs attended to like a toddler. It's very tiresome because I'm so out of practice! Crate training, potty training, don't leave me when I'm eating, I'm bored, Can I play with the cat?, can I eat the cat?, pet me, where's Mark?, where's the other dog?(camping with Mark,) wipe my feet when I come in from outside, whoops I peed on the porch....
I want to sit in the rocking chair, crap, I'm stuck in the rocking chair, help me off the rocking chair...Thank goodness for stuffable kong thingies. I swear to you, she just sat down beside me and farted 3 times. Fartingest dog I ever met. Husband, you owe me!!! And it snowed last night. Don't you hate when you have to go scrape your windshield and brush all the snow off your cow?
This is the view from my new bedroom. And we love it, don't we, yes, we do!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009