Monday, June 29, 2009

The eyes have it!

I've got a monster of a post that I've been adding and adding and adding to since last week, and I'm not sure whether I'm just going to break it up into a bunch of smaller posts or heave it all out there into the blogosphere in one, gigantic post at some point.

In the meantime, I have some news to report. Went to my new eye doctor (side note: I've been going to the eye doctor for over thirty years now ((side side note: dang, but that makes me sound ooooold)) and this is the first time in my life that I've ever had a female eye doctor. Isn't that odd?) this morning for a check-up. Longer-time readers of my blog might recall I've had some eye-related issues in the past, that led me back to becoming a primarily-eyeglasses-wearing kind of chick after twenty solid years of being a primarily-contact-lens-wearing chick. It's been over a year and a half now since I reverted back to Heather Four Eyes, and I've mostly gotten used to it. A minor inconvenience, really, that is a pain mostly when having to do that Mr. Rogers-esque switch from regular specs to sunglasses (prescription, thick as heck, and *enormous* in my case - very Hollywood Celebutante-ish, oooh la la. Um, except for the "thick as heck" bit) whenever I'm going in or out of doors, and, of course, when I'm trying to perform various depilatory acts while showering.


My new, fantabulous Eye Doctor Chick not only confirmed that while yes, my ocular allergies have returned, no, I do not in fact have any recurrence of last year's Major Eye Ick, but she also had a new, better prescription to replace the "eh, I guess it works better than plain old Visine, I guess" eye drops I've used in the past (and gave me a sample bottle to get me started, too), but best of all she told me about a brand-spankin'-new type of contact lens that *might* just be my ticket back to Four Eyed Freedom! This lens is made of silicone instead of whatever kind of plastic or Saran wrap or whatever it was my lenses have always been made of up until this point, and that means that they are much more conducive to eyeballs with my kind of ridiculous protein output. (Yes, my eyes have a veritable superpower when it comes to protein production. Woo.) Even better, these fancy-pants silicone lenses are way the HECK cheaper than the daily disposable ones I'd been told were the only ones I could possibly ever wear last year by my old eye doctor. Like, a quarter of the price cheaper. She promptly produced a sample pair that I'm going to wear for the next two weeks (well, once my pupils return to normal from their Heather Looks Ever-So-Slightly More Insane Than Usual, Totally Black from Massive Pupil Dilation state) and if all goes well, I'm in business. Wooooooo-hooooooooooo!

I must pause here for a quick Happy Dance, done to Jamie Foxx's ubiquitous tune Blame It, which has been stuck in my head for the past 24 hours thanks to my five-minute-long flipping sessions through the music channels on TV each morning (part of my vain and desperate attempt to stay "current" but I always wind up watching the comfortable, familiar videos I recall from my youth on VH1 Classic and hoping that they'll play a little Duran Duran before Hubby is done in the bathroom and I must get up and on with my day...) coupled with the fact that I fully blame my night of horrid gastrointestinal distress plus feverishly bizarre dreams last night on a bad glass of OJ I chugged as I made dinner last night............

Okay, I really, really, REALLY need to get some curtains or shades for this office. Stat. And if someone could please explain to me the point of that video, besides Jamie showing off his cool, famous friends (Ron Howard? Really? Richie Freaking Cunningham? Does he have street cred now? I always thought Fonzie

was the cool one.......) that would be great. I mean, I *get* which are the cool guys in the Duran Duran videos. (Hello, John Taylor...) I just don't get today's videos and music. Is T-Pain in every video right now? Is there a rule that you can't just do a song - it has to "feature" someone who may or may not actually have more of a part in the song than the "main" artist? And what the freak is up with Lady Gaga? She scares me. Yeesh.

Annnnnyhow, the news that I might be returned to my previous state of contact lens bliss isn't even the best news to come out of my visit to the eye doctor today. You see, we were chatting during my exam (I know: Me? Chatting? No way!) and somehow got around to the topic of kids (again, I know: Me? Talk about kids? No way!) and the fact that Kiddo has intermittent exotropia came up. I honestly don't remember exactly how that came up, really - I remember we were talking about going to Disney World (her family's going for the first time later this summer) and next thing I know, it had worked its way into the conversation. I do remember mentioning how much I'm worried about and dreading the very real possibility that Kiddo might be needing eye surgery later this summer, as I don't think the current regime of patching is doing diddly or squat.

It was at this point that she filled me in on some new information (well, new to me, anyhow) both about the surgery typically done for Kiddo's eye condition and about vision therapy.

Oooh, did you hear that? The chorus of angels that sang out when I typed the words "vision therapy" just then?

See, there they go again!

Yes, my friends, it turns out that there is a course of vision therapy that, according to Fantabulous Eye Doctor Chick, can cure Kiddo's eye condition without any surgery. And she's not just a doctor, but the wife of someone who had the exact surgery Kiddo would be facing when he was a young child. (Surgery, I might add, that left him with zero depth perception. Which is a typical result of the surgery. Yikes.) Anyhow, she knows of another doctor who does such vision therapy, and while I was out in the optician's area waiting for my pupils to explode and trying on eleventy squillion frames and cracking the optician up with my commentary (sample hilarious joke: "Yes, but do these frames make me look 50 pounds thinner?" Seriously, she was a way easy audience. There might've been a two drink minimum going on sometime earlier in her morning. I mean, it's always five o'clock somewhere, even when it's just 10am in my corner of the world...) the Super Awesome and Most Fantabulous Eye Doctor made a phone call to the Vision Therapy Doc and spoke to her about Kiddo, so that when I went owlishly blinking my way back into the exam room, she had all this info including contact info for the doctor nicely written down for me.

Seriously, I will try *anything* that doesn't involve cutting into my kid's eyeballs. Let me repeat that: Cutting. Into. My. Kid's. Eyeballs. Nope, doesn't get any better no matter how much I say, think or type it. So, I giddily left rambling voicemail messages on Hubby's Crackberry and office line (I know: Me? Rambling? NO WAY!) as I squinted my way home behind my Really, They Are Trendy Magoo Sunglasses and left a voicemail for the vision therapy eye doctor as soon as I got home. (Then Hubby called back, and despite being quick to inform me he had listened to BOTH of my messages in their entirety, I repeated the entire thing to him again, because I was just that excited and because I could only type him an email by closing my eyes and that was annoying as heck.)

So, tomorrow morning (assuming my pupils have returned to normal and I can look at the screen again without squinting) I have to call the insurance company to see what, if any, of this doctor's services might be covered. I know that although it would seem like a no-brainer to cover something other than surgery and hospitalization, when have insurance companies ever been accused of having a brain? So, I'll find out how impossible it will be to get coverage on that end of things and also call the vision therapy eye doctor's office back again ('cause, surprise surprise: I left a kind of rambly message on her voicemail, too, and I'm not sure but I may've been cut off before I actually left my name and number) and see what I can do about getting Kiddo evaluated there.

Since her vision issues play a role in some of her OT issues, I'm thinking I may be able to work that angle and possibly get the support of her most recent therapist if need be, too. I will gladly work any angle necessary to get Kiddo any treatment that (a) might work well and (b) doesn't involve scalpels and eyeballs.

So, there you have it. Good news for both of the brown eyed girls in the Smith fam. I shall now return to shaking my shuwumple in a happy dance and bid you all good night.

Blame it on the Minute Maid,
Blame it on the Tropicana,
Blame it on the Sunny-D,
Blame it on the organic, blame it on the generic...
Blame it on the
Blame it on the O-O-O-O-O-O-OJ.........

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In case you didn't realize it, SPD sucks - or bites, as the case may be

Yesterday, Kiddo's teacher had a class picnic at her house (a short walk from the school). It was a gorgeous day - sunny, blue skies, hot. The kids played games, whacked the everloving heck out of a Nemo piƱata, played in two different sprinklers, a wading pool and a super-deluxe, triple lane Slip-n-Slide. They ate pizza and chips and watermelon, they ran around, it was all good. And then.

Then it was ice cream treat time. The ice cream treats on hand were actually ice pops (apparently Popsicle is a brand name/proper noun, at least according to Blogger's spellcheck. Who knew?) in three flavors: red, blue and green. Oh, I'm sorry, "cherry, raspberry and apple" to be precise, but come on, there wasn't a drop of actual, natural anything in them - these were those kinds of pops. Kiddo came up to me as I was busily getting a lopsided sunburn by means of having begun to apply sunscreen to myself earlier that day and then being sidetracked by several kids requesting sunscreen (which: YAY kids for knowing you need and should be wearing sunscreen!) and then forgetting to finish the job on myself, and asked me if she could have one.

Now, Kiddo wasn't just asking because I'm some sort of super-strict mom who doesn't allow anything but healthy food in the house or more specifically, in her mouth. That isn't the case, I swear (she says, eyeballing the mostly empty box of Milk Duds - kept purely for medicinal purposes, really! - on her desktop and the bag of tortilla chips on the floor right next to her desk). However, with Kiddo's SPD, we've learned that we need to be careful about certain things because they throw her system totally out of whack. One of the big ones, that is in so much food - well, "fun" (aka "junk") food, anyhow - is food dye. We've learned this the hard way over the years, by tracing back sudden periods of out-of-sync behavior to a specific meal, snack or treat. Red food dye is a big one - if anything says it has any Red # Whatever, I don't let it into Kiddo's body. Same with blue (as evidenced by Kiddo's gleeful consumption of a heavily frosted, neon blue Dora cupcake at last year's preschool graduation and subsequent decline into craziness that lasted for four long days). So, I went over and checked out the ingredients on the ice pops box. Obviously, the red and blue ones were out. The green, however, well, they seemed like they might be a possibility. They *did* have blue dye and some yellow dye as well, but at the time it seemed like the green pops weren't quite as intensely colored, so I reasoned that perhaps as there was ostensibly less blue dye in the green ones than the blue ones, they'd be all right. Besides, Kiddo rarely if ever finishes an entire dessert.

Well, she finished the whole darn ice pop - whatever part of it didn't melt down the front of her, anyhow. I'd say at least 80% of the chemically delicious frozen goo was actually eaten. Within fifteen minutes of the ice pop going in to her body, the freaky behavior started coming out. She was bumping into things and kids. Her entire demeanor became suddenly obnoxious, cranky and rude. On the walk back to school she complained incessantly that her socks were hurting her, despite stopping and holding up the entire class for several minutes so she could remove her shoes, adjust her socks and rub her feet. She then jammed herself up against my side, crashing her head into me for the remainder of the walk. It was like a switch had been flipped from Sweet Kiddo to Mr. Hyde. Ugh.

The out-of-sync behavior continued into the night, with Kiddo having nightmares (highly unusual for her) and waking up at 1:30. It was nearly 3:00 before I got her adequately calmed and settled and got back into my own bed. I let her sleep in as late as possible this morning and she seemed to be doing better - she ate all her breakfast and wasn't too crabby in the car on the way to school, so I dropped her off and watched her walk in to school holding hands with two of her friends and headed off to get a massage (using the gift certificate Hubby and Kiddo gave me for Christmas - and just to give her a plug again, anyone local should really go get a massage from Joan at A Healing Sanctuary, because she is the best!) and after that, I headed over to a friend's house for lunch and a visit. It was as we were sitting at the table, eating homemade brownies and fresh strawberries and perusing the last few clues on today's NYT crossword puzzle that I heard my phone bleep. It was a text message from Kiddo's teacher. With one and a half days of school left to go this year, Kiddo had bitten a classmate on the finger (ironically enough, one of the girls with whom she'd been holding hands on her way into school this morning) and subsequently been sent to the principal's office. !!!!!

I texted back to ascertain if the classmate was okay (she was - the skin wasn't broken though she did go to the nurse who notified her mother), if Kiddo was duly remorseful (she was, and was reportedly greatly dreading the moment when I found out what had transpired), if she had apologized adequately to her friend (she had) and if I needed to come to school early. Kiddo has never been sent to the principal's office before, so I didn't know what the standard protocol is in such situations. I'd kind of hoped I would never need to learn, either, but there you have it - less than 6 hours left in her kindergarten career and there she was, getting her much-deserved chewing out (um, pun intended, now that I think about it) by the principal.

Now, I am certain that the food dye's after effects were in no small part to blame for Kiddo's wonky behavior. That isn't to say that I excuse her actions in the slightest; Kiddo has understood perfectly well for years now that biting another kid is NOT acceptable behavior. She definitely knew better, regardless of how out of whack her system was, and she absolutely needed to face the consequences of her actions. I do recognize that Kiddo was not entirely herself, though, and that the SPD had a factor in her making a bad choice. To hear Kiddo tell it, her friend was all up in her personal space while they were on the playground before lunch, and was waving her fingers in Kiddo's face. Kiddo didn't like this and decided to get the other girl to back off by promptly chomping on one of the proffered fingers. While this was a bad call in any event, Kiddo certainly is more hyper-aware of things being close to her when her system is disregulated, as it has been since the evil ice pop ingestion of yesterday afternoon. Her aide also told me that the kids didn't have snack this morning, that Kiddo was definitely not herself all morning but improved a bit after eating lunch, and that she had to do a lot of extra sensory input with Kiddo today. Kiddo was *still* cranky, clingy and not herself this evening, so I've got my fingers crossed that by tomorrow, the dye is out of her system enough that she is able to handle what will be an emotional day already. Kiddo has been sad for over a week now at the thought of the last day of school and even more so because she realizes now that this is the last day EVER for her at her current school. As excited as she is to meet new friends and go to a new school in the fall, she is still very sad to be saying goodbye. Kiddo is pretty resilient, thank goodness, so I have no doubt that she will bounce back quickly once the next few days are over and we're into the next adventure - summer camp. But in the meantime, it will be extra-extra-extra bad if she's still disregulated tomorrow and facing saying goodbye to the teacher and classmates and school she loves so much.

Yes, I am kicking myself thoroughly for having let her eat that ice pop in the first place. No, I will *not* make that mistake again. I hate that Kiddo has to suffer because of my bad judgement call. I hate that she can't have any old treat that she would like, as her friends can (well, not all of them). I wish she could go off-schedule and stay up late without it having dire consequences for days thereafter. I wish she didn't need to have a sensory diet several times a day in order to function smoothly and I wish that I didn't need to know what the first thing about a "sensory diet" even is. Heck, I wish I didn't need to know the first thing about SPD... But, it is what it is, as they say, and we have to deal with the hand we've been dealt. Our hand is full of SPD, so we'll play it the best we can. From now on, that will include *no* food dyes, no matter what color. Yeesh. I know that there are a lot worse things we could be dealing with and that our lives could be a lot more challenging than just having to manage a pretty severe case of SPD. However, this is my blog and I'm sad and exasperated and cranky and dammit, I'm gonna whine about my lot right now just because I feel like it.

Also on my mind is that one day more, and then we're facing a whole new world - summer *without* any services. Last summer, Kiddo had regular PT and OT sessions every week except for two. We've never gone this long without any services, but she's been deemed not needy enough to qualify for any extended services this year. It is the OT piece that I'm rather nervous about losing. Ten weeks without any professional oversight is a loooong chunk of time where lots of regression can occur. I'd be lying if I claimed I wasn't filled with trepidation. Kiddo will also be doing summer camp at a regular, old camp, not like the summer program she's done for the past two years which was run by her former (awesome) preschool and was a sensory-based program with specially trained teachers. I'm going to be darn sure to make sure the summer camp knows to NOT give her any food with dyes in it. (We're supposed to pack their morning and afternoon snacks as well as lunch each day, so this shouldn't be an issue.) Guess we will just have to take it one day at a time and see where we are by September...

One day more...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

First of all, I want to wish a very happy Father's Day to all the fathers and grandfathers out there!

Secondly, an illustrated recap of our Father's Day so far....

Kiddo woke up before 7am, so I whisked her downstairs to the family room so Hubby could sleep in for a change. We watched Labyrinth, which is a movie I haven't seen in decades but apparently still know by heart, as I could (and did) recite dialogue and sing the songs right along with the DVD. I *did* own the soundtrack - on vinyl no less - back in my younger days, so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. My short-term memory may be shot these days, but my long-term memory is still fully intact, full of obscure things like David Bowie soundtrack lyrics from the 80s.......

Once Hubby woke up, we gave him his Father's Day presents, which included things Kiddo had made for him at school, a tie (because, come on, it's Father's Day - you have to give Daddy a tie, right?) and the new Ghostbusters game for the Wii. Hubby and Kiddo started busting ghosts in short order, with a break to eat a breakfast including bagels I picked up last night at the store. I had been hoping to get Hubby some of the apple fritters he loves but alas, they were long gone by 7pm.

Then, after lunch, I went upstairs to take a quick nap. (Hubby and I moved all of our stuff - remember our stuff?

- out of the storage unit yesterday. In the pouring down, raining hippos and elephants rain. We should've rented one of these:

instead of one of these:

Anyhow, besides the few boxes and odds and ends I still need to unload from the minivan, everything is IN our house. Not *unpacked* necessarily, but *moved in* at least. Woo-hoo! So, Hubby took a 2 hourish nap yesterday after unloading the U-Haul into our garage, and I was still tired from yesterday so I decided I'd nap today!)

As soon as I got comfortable, Kiddo decided to join me for a snuggle. Typically, when Kiddo wants to snuggle during an attempted nap, no one gets any sleep. It becomes a chat, followed by some serious squirming, more chatting and then giving up. Not today...

So yeah, Hubby is the only one in the house who did NOT nap on Father's Day. Next up, some steaks on the grill along with corn on the cob, asparagus and salt potatoes for dinner. Mmmm. The sun has finally come out after days of crazy rain, so perhaps a walk around the neighborhood, too.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feet, Fi, Fo, Fum

So, my feet? They're not that beautiful.

I hate my feet, actually. They're *not* feminine or delicate, they're noticeably different sizes, and my heels especially bear the collected consequences of 37.5 years of running around barefoot or in sandals as often as possible (including outdoors - even growing up on the farm with its gravel driveway and hard-packed-earth barnyards), and my toes? My wonky toes with the cracked toenails, the warped pinkie toes and the committed-to-shaving-for-life-thanks-to-a-foolhardy-spontaneous-act-back-in-the-late-80s big toes? They're just uuuuuugly. Fugly. Gross.

You think I kid? Fine, I'll prove it to you:

Oooh, yeah, I forgot about my "if it's almost summer, Heather's got the Birkenstock tan lines" across-the-top stripes. You should see them by the end of August...

You're sorry you ever doubted me now, aren't you? I may be prone to exaggeration, but not when it comes to my feet. I told you so. Don't worry, I'll spare you a shot of my other heel, not just out of pity, but because I almost fell over and gave myself a concussion attempting to photograph the bottom of this foot.

So, anyhow, I hate my feet. I actually hate all feet, with the exception of teeny-tiny baby feet and "still small enough to be cute" kid feet. Kiddo's feet used to be a thing of beauty. I loved those tiny feet, with their tinier toes. I called them "toe niblets" a la corn niblets and I'd eat them every chance I had. Now, at the age of six, her toe niblets are no longer so cute. They're crossing the border into FEET territory, as in get 'em away from me NOW please!, utilitarian-only feet.

Yeah, I have the opposite of a foot fetish. I have a foot phobia.

This is why I'm fairly certain that I have lost my last remaining shred of sanity. Why so certain, you ask?

Because I'm pondering the possibility of getting a pedicure tomorrow. Me. The one who hates her feet (and as I've demonstrated above, with darn good reason. Nasty, nasty appendages stomping about on tack strips and gravel, carrying me hither and yon...). The one who never lets ANYONE touch her feet, with the exception of my favorite massage therapist (who also happens to be a good friend) and even then, I don't let her touch my feet much or every time I go for a massage. Hubby doesn't touch my feet (nor does he want to - he's not exactly running after me, begging to rub my misshapen, gnarly, hirsute ham hocks) and Kiddo only does when she is feeling particularly death-wishy.

Why then would I even think of a pedicure?

I don't rightly know, except.... Hubby had a golf tournament today. (Wait, I know, that didn't make a lick of sense. Also, why is that even a phrase - a lick? Is sense a lollipop? I mean, I don't have much of it, so I guess that's why I don't know this...)

See, Hubby had a golf tournament today, and after that tournament was over, there was a dinner. A dinner with a raffle, for which Hubby bought 6 tickets. The raffle prizes, to hear Hubby tell it, were awwwwwwesome. Flat screen TVs. Wiis. Blueray players. 8 gig iPod Touches. Super-fancy golf clubs. Last year, Hubby played in the same tournament and entered the raffle and didn't win ANYTHING. Hubby really, really, reaaaaaally wanted to win a flat screen TV this year. He was extra-hopeful because he didn't win anything last year, as though Lady Luck would be extra kind to him with that whole "random drawing winners out of a hat" thing this year.

Hubby didn't win the TV. Or the golf clubs. Or anything else remotely cool-n-manly.

Hubby won a $100 spa gift card.

To a fancy-shmancy, ritzy, frou-frou spa.

Lady Luck must like girls. Girls with super-short Mom hairdos and rhinocerousean feet.

The gift card came with a list of services and their prices. Let me tell you, $100 doesn't go too far at this spa. I could get a "partial highlight" but not with a cut, wash or blow dry. Heck, they charge an "additional $15" to spritz some leave-in conditioner into your hair before you leave. A wash and blow dry with no cutting or anything else is $30. So, forget the hair salon - and besides, I just got the bird's nest tamed, so it's barely long enough to do now anyhow.

Facials were the next thing on the list for me to consider. Hmmmm, there are a couple that are under $100 (and many more that are well over $100, by the by) but I don't know whether I want someone looking at in depth and then touching my Acne-Like-I'm-a-Teenager/Wrinkles-and-Age-Spots-Like-I'm-a-Crone combination skin for any length of time. (Guess I have a thing about my face just like I do about feet...)

Then I considered the massages. There are a couple that are less than $100, but I don't know that I'd want to go all Full Monty at Le Chic-n-Ritzy Spa in front of strangers. (I did go Full Monty at the hotel spa in Vegas one time, but that was a sort of "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" thing, whereas this spa is less than 5 miles from my house and I might see these people again and that would freak me out.) Besides, I have a massage therapist that I adore (and if you're local, you should go check her out - Joan at A Healing Sanctuary and tell her Heather sent you!) and I have a gift certificate Hubby gave me for Christmas that I still haven't used there yet.

I thought about the Seaweed Wrap, the Mud Wrap and the Salt or Sugar Scrubs (with Vichy - what the hey is that anyhow??) for about half a second combined. I know from watching TV and movies that those sorts of Wraps aren't delicious things to eat, but rather things that involve getting naked and then being scrubbed and swaddled in various substances for apparently 50 minutes. Again, can you imagine running into the Wrap Technician the following week at the grocery store? No thank you!

So, where does that leave me on this spa list?

Manicures and pedicures.

Now, manicures are decidedly out. I've had two manicures in my life: the first for my wedding and the second for my big appearance on Jeopardy. For both those occasions (and for the junior and senior proms), I grew my nails out and they looked all nice and pretty - for about 48 hours after the event in question. Yes, I am a lifelong, chronic nail biter. It's less likely to kill me than smoking cigarettes, so please don't chastise. I know it is a terrible habit. I know I need to stop - and I have, many, many times before. Sometimes for whole weeks. But that is neither here nor there.

What's left if the manis are out? Pedicures.................... The "Signature Spa Pedicure" is 80 minutes long. It would probably take them 80 minutes to recover from their initial shock upon viewing my 37.5 year old, decrepit hooves and gown up accordingly for the necessary HazMat levels. While I do hate my feet and only give them the most perfunctory of sporadic attention (beautification-wise, I typically paint my toenails a few times over the course of the summer, never removing the polish at summer's end, either. I use the gradual chipping/growing out of the nails under the polish as a timekeeper to know how long it has been since summer ended...), I wouldn't mind having nicer looking feet. Almost pretty feet, even. At least, feet that looked human instead of rhinocerousean.

So, there you have it. Way more info than you ever, ever wanted about Heather's Hooves. I know that there are those of you out there who love pedicures. Should I be considering this, boldly going where no Heather's Foot has ever gone before? Will they be utterly grossed out at the sight of my ham hocks clomping in through the spa doors, all gnarly in my Birks? Will the sight of my heels make them cry and/or recoil in horror? Will they snicker aloud at my big toes' 5 o'clock shadow?

So I wonder, do I dare and, do I dare?

And if I do dare, what is standard pedi-etiquette? Do I make small talk with the pedicurist? Do I bring a book? How does it all work, exactly?


If I do go and have a pedicure (and weirdly enough, the more I write about how much I hate my feet, the less this seems like an obviously lousy idea and the more I think I might just want to do it! See, told ya my marbles and sanity are gone!), I will post "after" pictures for you to see. If I don't go, though, you can rest assured that barring a George Clooney or Hugh Jackman autograph adorning one of my feet, you will never, ever see a photograph of them like the ones above ever again. Promise.

(PS - Please don't think I'm not super-excited about and grateful for this spa gift card. I totally, totally am. I'm beyond thrilled. It's just so unexpected and not my typical thing that I'm a bit overwhelmed by all the fanciness of the spa services menu. I swear to you I love this gift card, am thrilled that Hubby won it - not that I would've been sad had he won a WiiFit or flat screen TV - and touched and appreciative that he gave it to me. I mean, they *do* have "Gentlemen's Manicure" and "Gentlemen's Pedicure" and "Gentlemen's Cut" and "Gentlemen's Facial" options there, as well...)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Paging the Knights who say "Ni!"

So, we're doing some yard work today. Lots of yard work. Yard work that has been utterly neglected since we've moved in, actually. Yes, I've gone out and mowed the jungle a few times (and now dream of a riding mower the way I once dreamed of George Clooney...) but there were other tasks that we just hadn't gotten to until today. Namely, weed whacking and hedge trimming.

It is the hedge trimming that is killing us. Well, technically, it is killing Hubby, not me. I'm just planting my forlorn little tomato seedlings in the barrel planter that appears to have housed annuals and a thriving ant colony in years past and mowing again, in between wrangling Kiddo with her various levels of "assistance" in the yard work tasks. Hubby is trimming the hedgerows and shrubs with our brand-spankin'-new, gas powered hedge trimmer. It is sucking the life force right out of him, mostly because we have Way the Heck Too Many Dang Evergreen Shrubs and also because no one had tended to them in a Very Long Time.

I'm investigating various options now, as Hubby heads back outside to tackle more shrub pruning. (I dare not point out how lumpy and lopsided the "after" shrubs are, for fear of him either quitting altogether or coming after me with the brand-spankin-new, gas powered hedge trimmer.) Ideally, someone would want to come and dig out the shrubs for free and recycle them to some yard elsewhere. Or, a professional landscaping company would want to charge a ridiculously small amount to rid us of the evergreen nightmare. I'm pondering putting up a post on Freecycle and Craigslist saying "Evergreen shrubs and pachysandra - you dig and they're yours!" I've seen it done for pachysandra before, but not shrubs. Hmmmm.

My last option is finding a bunch of Knights who say "Ni!" as I have a wonderful offering in my yard for them...........................

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Before and After(ish)

The office, before we moved in:

The office, 3 weeks after we moved in:

The family room before we moved in:

The family room, 3 weeks after we moved in:

Yay progress!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Just like Lewis and Clark, only with slightly less scenery and a lot more wallpaper

So, renovating our new old house has turned out to be quite the voyage of discovery, and not in a good way, most of the time. I keep waiting for the "wow, look at this Antiques Roadshow type ancient vase full of gold bullion that was hidden in the eaves for decades" type discovery, but ours have been more of the "oh crap, that's going to cost a lot more money and time to renovate than we'd thought" variety.

For example, the other night, I was having a grand old time stripping in the downstairs bathroom. Stripping wallpaper, that is, ahem. I hunched down to remove the last of the How Did This Seem Like a Good Decorative Idea Even in the Mid-60s?!?!? purple, floral print from under the sink and had discovery #1: the drain pipe under the sink was little more than a collection of rust molecules, held together with a bit of corrosion. Egads. I promptly summoned Hubby to corroborate my find, and he made discovery #2: there is no water shut-off valve on the sink. Double egads. This led to discovery #3 the next morning, when Hubby called me from work because it had occurred to him that perhaps that wasn't the only sink without a water shut-off valve and had me run around the house and check all the sinks: yep, there are no shut-off valves on any of the five sinks in the house. Quintuple egads! This meant that as soon as Kiddo had brushed her teeth and was headed off to bed last night, Hubby had to shut off all the water to the whole house in order to replace the corroded, rusted drain pipe and install a shut-off valve.

Now, I must digress for a moment here and give some major props to my husband. He has already done way more house-repair type things than any one person who isn't a professional plumber, electrician or contractor should ever have to even know how to do, from running wires from the basement up to all the rooms of the house to plumbing to replacing outlets to installing linoleum flooring to cutting humongous holes in the ceiling to allow duct repair work and then repairing the ceiling so you can't even tell there was a hole there. Hubby is not, for the record, a professional handyman or construction worker or anything of the sort - he's a financial advisor, for Pete's sake. Seriously, he is amazing. Thank heavens, too, because if he were "game to try but generally clueless and inept" like I am, we'd be totally screwed.

Back to the tales of discovery... Of course, within five seconds of Hubby announcing he'd shut off the water, I was overtaken with the simultaneous need to get a drink of water, pee, wash my hands, run a load of laundry and run the garbage disposal. (Which, by the way, I manage to turn on at least three times a day thinking it is the switch for the over-the-sink light. Which it isn't, no matter how many times I flip it on. How long do you think we'll live here before I remember that the first time I reach for the switch, rather than the fourth?) And here Hubby thought he was being smart waiting until after Kiddo was in bed.... he should've waited until I was sound asleep, too. Fortunately, he managed to get everything fixed and the water back on in short order.

Other discoveries we've made include the fact that 99% of the painted surfaces in the house (trim, crown molding, baseboards, wainscoting) are oil-based paint which requires a LOT more preparation to paint over than latex-based paint, and the above-mentioned duct repairs, which we realized we needed when we had our HVAC dude over to give us an estimate on sucking 44 years' worth of Oldster Dust-n-Such out of the air ducts and he quickly noticed that the air return ducts didn't actually connect to anything. Apparently the previous owners lived in this house for 44 years without having any air actually drawn back out of any rooms, but rather were getting their "fresh" air drawn from the spaces between the joists in the ceilings/floors (um, depending on whether you're talking about the upstairs or the downstairs rooms).

Another digression: yes, yes I am very impressed with my newfound ability to bandy about words like "joists" and "spackle" and "GFCI outlet" and "Shop Vac" with assurance and ease. This does not actually translate to any real-world expertise, as evidenced by my complete inability to relay the two things the HVAC dude told me to tell Hubby to him accurately, clearly or in a way that made any sense. (Me: "Um, so Rob said that we have to shave off 3/4 of an inch from the basement door when they put the carpeting down in the family room unless they do that automatically, and then he can cut a hole in the floor since the registers in the family room now don't go to anything." Hubby: "Huh?!?!" Me: "*big dramatic sigh* Rob said the door has to be taller and we can put the grill back on the register or cover it up but he can cut another hole to make a register that goes somewhere....?" Hubby: "Um, that makes no sense." Me: "Rob says call him.") I do love saying the words, though, especially spackle. It's a great word to say, you really should try it. Seriously - say it now, a few times, so you see what I mean. Spackle. Spackle. Spaaaaaackle. Isn't that great? And if anyone says "Um, why are you repeating 'spackle' over and over to your computer screen?" you can just say "Oh, I'm reading Heather's blog." No further explanation necessary.

Back to the list of discoveries (hey, did Sacagawea just walk by my window? - or maybe Norm Abrams?) we've made in the past three weeks... The bathroom sinks and Kiddo's bathtub are all cast iron. For Kiddo, this means she can't take any of her patented 45-minute-to-an-hour-long baths without needing me to run up to the bathroom and reheat the water twelve times because the cast iron sucks the warm right out of the H2O molecules. For Hubby, this means that when he is trying to remove the sink from the downstairs bathroom in order to put down the new linoleum floor, the sink will simply fall through the hole and go crashing to the ground, where it will sit as though made of gravity* until he has practically ripped his back and arm muscles out in order to move it out of the bathroom. Also, we appear to have a family of chipmunks living inside the walls of the house. Well, hopefully just the walls, and not the attic as well, especially with all the holes Hubby has to keep cutting into the ceilings - we may wind up with some new pets for Kiddo, and not of the canine variety she so desperately desires. I discovered the Chip and Dale invasion while standing on the back patio the other morning, and seeing Chip - or was it Dale? I never can tell those two apart - scamper across the patio, pause at the back of the house, and then shimmy his little chipmunk butt and tail right up into the teensiest, tiniest of holes above the basement window and disappear underneath the siding. This last discovery we are pretending we haven't found yet, as we won't have time to freak out about wild rodents dwelling in our walls for at least another week.

One other potentially devastating discovery has been the humidity problem in the family room. This is the room with the wood paneling that we've painstakingly painted over in Garden Moss Green with Bright White (yes, there are in fact eleventy million shades of "white" by the way) trim. Well, last week we were painting away - I believe this was the shellac primer layer necessary to get the wood paneling surface ready for actual paint primer (remember, I have no idea what the hey I'm talking about most of the time here) - and it was rather fumetastic, so we opened the windows to the family room. The same windows that appeared not have been opened since they were installed, judging from both what the previous owners told us ("we kept the windows closed - we're more AC than fresh breeze people") and from the archeological nature of the layers of cobwebs, dust and dead bugs found within the stuck-closed storm windows and stuck-open screens. Well, it was a relatively hot and humid afternoon and within a matter of two hours, instead of fresh air in the family room, we had puddles of condensation soaking the icky, asbestos tile floor. This resulted in the constant running of fans for over a week, various other "get the musty smell" out strategies being employed (Hubby's strategy: buy a volcanic rock/negative ionizer thingy at the hardware store, my strategy: buy an electric oil air freshener from Yankee Candle) and the purchase of a new, super-quiet, high-efficiency room dehumidifier that has been running constantly (and thankfully really *is* super-quiet, as we're going to be living with it in the family room for the foreseeable future). Can't exactly carpet over damp tile, you know...

So, yep, that's us, Hubby and Me aka Lewis and Clark. (Though I'd rather be Sacagawea - she was a veritable babe!) I'll leave you with one, final discovery, made by Hubby and photographed by me earlier this morning as we stood on the lanai (oh, and by the way, I find it utterly hilarious that Kiddo now uses the word "lanai" when speaking of the back porch. Cracks me up every, single time!) and gazed at the back yard:

Sorry about the maximized zoom = grainy, pixelated photography. That was the best my camera could do from inside the house. Yep, that's a woodpecker perched on the back fence (which actually belongs to the neighbor behind us, as do the lovely, flowering bushes you see and the neatly manicured lawn. Our yard is a mass of green: green hedgerows, green shrubs, green grass, green pachysandra - nary a colorfully flowering speck to be seen, except for my pansies and petunias on the front porch.) With our luck, he's gearing up for a summerlong feast upon bright yellow, cedar shingles...

So, what discoveries have you made recently in your neck of the woods?

* I wish I could take credit for the "sink made of gravity" line, but alas, I merely read it in a posting on Craigslist a week or two ago. It was a listing for a utility sink in someone's basement and the owner described it as being "made of gravity, I think, because I cannot lift it" or something to that effect. It cracked me up, so I had to borrow the phrase when the opportunity presented itself!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Broadway Baby edition

A few shots of Kiddo as Goldilocks in her elementary school musical debut performance last night (that'd be her in the Hannah Montana wig that is occasionally rather precariously perched atop her head):