Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 2009 Round Up

Created using Big Huge Labs Mosaic Maker.
Click mosaic to biggify, or see my September 2009 Project 365 Posts.

What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
Didn't really read any, but I did acquire two new ones that I had on pre-order. (Please don't ask me why I am pre-ordering books, when I hardly ever actually read anymore.) I got the new Diana Gabaldon (Jamie and Claire) book, and Heat Wave by Richard Castle, a "spin-off" of the television show. Yes, this amuses me greatly.

What movies and/or tv shows did I watch this month?
Fall television has started! I think all of our network favorites are back already, except Chuck which will put in an appearance in the spring (March, I think). We've tried three new television shows so far: Glee (just not our thing, though the music is outstanding), NCIS: Los Angeles (I'll give it a few more, but not loving it except for Linda Hunt), and FlashForward (really like it!).

I think the only new movie I saw was The Other Boleyn Girl. It was just okay. Didn't love it, didn't hate it, don't care to see it again.

I got super busy at work at the end of the month, plus with new fall shows starting back, I didn't have nearly as many "old favorites" running in the background this month as I usually do. Some of the few I remember are: That Thing You Do, Noises Off, The Birdcage, Ice Age, Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Treasure Planet. I have been watching/listening to snippets of Golden Girls or Murder She Wrote instead.

What special days did I celebrate and how?
I made banana pudding for my father's birthday, which we celebrated over Labor Day weekend.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?
I have much delayed packages to Leah and Connie.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Actually, I think we were all good for the month. Wow!

What fun things did I do with my friends and/or family?
We all went to see Walking With Dinosaurs at the Gwinnett Arena.

What new foods, recipes or restaurants did I try this month?
I genuinely cannot think of any.

What special or unusual purchases did I make?

A new house!! Will that do? I guess, technically, the house isn't ours yet. So I'll say we bought a home inspection and appraisal. We also had the vinyl floors replaced at the current house, though I think we paid for that last month. Hard to remember.

What were this month's disappointments?
Luke has been very very difficult this month. I do think a lot of it is just the rash of changes and stress and frequent routine changes due to the house business. Overall, he did very well with all of that, but there were an unusual number of meltdowns both small and large. I hope things will calm down, if not before the move then after.

What were my accomplishments this month?
Funny how buying a new house can make you get moving on all of those house cleaning goals from your 101 List.

72. Clean out my chest of drawers. Went from 5 drawers full of 0 clothes I could wear to 4 drawers full of clothes I currently wear.

74. Clean out my dresser. When I put this item on the list, I thought it was 3 drawers that needed to be cleaned out. Turns out it was only 1.5 drawers (DH previously appropriated the other 1.5). Still, I threw out and/or donated more than I kept, and there is actually room to put all of my socks.

75. Clean out the guest room dresser. I knew this was full of clothes I had not worn since high school (or before). I emptied 5 out of 6 drawers (one has keepsakes in it). They are now full again of clothing that I cannot wear just yet, but that I would gladly wear again if I ever get down to my pre-pregnancy weight.

78. "De-kitty-fy" the other sofa pillow. This is another item that turned out to not be as significant as I thought it was once I actually sat down to do it. It was not nearly as furry as I remembered it being. Maybe I cleaned it off some before we stored it? I really don't remember. But it is clean and presentable now. We put it away so long ago that Luke didn't know we even had 2 of them. He was shocked!

81. Replace kitchen floor. As mentioned previously, I think we actually paid for the work last month, but it finally got done this month. Everyone says it looks nice. I like it okay, but I don't love it. Doesn't really matter, though, since I don't have to live with it for long!


And After:

Project 365 is still going well. 75% complete so far.

Surviving the month was quite an accomplishment in and of itself. I have a new boss at work and some new work to go along with it. Just trying to jump in and get a handle on things has been a challenge. The house, of course, has been quite a lot to handle. In fun news, we're up to 90% complete on LEGO Star Wars. We're not likely to get back to it again until after the move, though.

What were Luke's accomplishments this month?

Luke counted to 20 by twos earlier this month. I was quite stunned. He didn't have it perfect (I think he said 17 instead of 18), but wow! Everyone at school keeps telling us how well he is doing in his phonics class, which is nice to hear. It is very clear that he is on the verge of being able to read and write, but he's just not quite there yet. I know they are working on it. I've been told before, and it seems to hold true, that sometimes baffling behavior issues can precede a major "jump" in physical or mental development. I can only hope that almost being able to read and write (combined with the stress and late nights related to the house) are causing this most recent rash of behavior problems. It's like he's regressed to being 3 years old, and it's driving me crazy.

Anything else noteworthy to record?
Everyone and everything with both the current house and the new house survived the flooding just fine, which was great news.

Monthly Round Up courtesy of Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Currently feeling: trying to hang in there

Monday, September 28, 2009

Walking With Dinosaurs

I heard about this show a few years ago. I believe it was the summer before Luke turned 2. It just looked and sounded so amazing, but I figured it would be both too long and too scary for a not-even 2-year-old. I really hated to miss it, though. *I* wanted to see it! Thankfully, I stumbled onto an advertisement for it a month or so ago in a newsletter on the day the tickets went on sale. It was only here for a few days, and I was determined to take Luke. Even my parents wanted to come.

I had never been to the Gwinnett Arena before, so when I selected our seats, I really had no idea how good (or not) they might be. It was much smaller inside than I was expecting, but that isn't a bad thing. In fact, it gave us better seats than I thought we had. Very nice! I could have done without ushers asking to see my tickets every 30 feet or so (you just watched me talk with the previous woman; why do you think I got lost (or snuck in) between her and you?!), but other than that, it was lovely. The show started, and there were ooos and ahhs aplenty. They really were so very impressive! But don't just take my word for it; see for yourself.

Everyone was enthralled.

Luke got a little restless at the intermission and wanted to leave. I do think it was on the upper edge of his intensity tolerance; taking him when he was 2 would have been a disaster. He was also very very tired and had been putting up with all of our stress and dragging him around past his bedtime with house nonsense in the previous week. He was fine once the show picked up again.

Having a couple of these things on the stage at any give time was impressive enough, but three of them? Wow!

It really was amazing, and I'm so glad we all went, despite the meltdown Luke had when we left. Still, I think we all enjoyed it.

Currently feeling: impressed

Friday, September 25, 2009

Full House

So hi there! Kinda went into silent mode for a bit, sorry about that. I have a good reason, though.

We bought a house! Yes, we bought a house. Yes, we'd only been looking for a couple of weeks. No, I'm not kidding. Why do people keep asking me that? LOL Ready for the full story? Well, you're going to get it anyway. It's my blog, and I'll blab if I want to. ;-)

Friday morning, I saw an update from the automatic internet search our realtor set up for us. Any time there is a new house that meets our criteria, or if one of the current houses changes status or price, we get an email with updates. Love it! It also allows you to categorize the listings (Like It, Possibility, Don't Like It) and leave notes about your thoughts on the property. When I read the description for the newly listed house, it was a definite possibility, but there were no pictures yet, so it was hard to say for sure. Our agent likes to view the listings before her clients do to see if there is anything to obviously make the house a "no" so she doesn't waste our time looking at houses that aren't suitable. Especially for this one with no pictures, she wanted to check it out first. She said she would swing by Friday afternoon, and if she thought it looked good, we could go see it over the weekend sometime. Works for me.

Imagine our surprise when the phone rang at 3:30 Friday afternoon with a call from our agent. "You have to come see this house. Right now, this afternoon, if you can. I think you're going to love it. They're also having an open house on Sunday, and I don't think it is going to last very long after that, so you'd better see it now." The house is super-close to Luke's school/daycare, so that actually worked out great; we just stopped by on our way to pick him up.

She wasn't kidding. It was a great house! Very nice white brick on the outside, larger on the inside (2400 sf) than it looks from the outside, plus a huge "partial" (1200 sf) basement. The kitchen has been completely redone, and all of the rooms have been recently painted. My only complaints are the somewhat out of date bathrooms and the lack of a garage, but otherwise, the house is wonderful. We debated over the weekend, we went to the open house on Sunday to see it again, and we made an offer Sunday night.

There was a bit of (unnecessary, IMO) drama with the back and forth, but in the end, we came to an agreement. The house checked out quite well with the inspector (even after all of the Atlanta flooding; both current house and new house are fine), and it has also been appraised for more than the sale price, so we should be good to go, barring any truly odd financial thing coming up (that I can't even imagine at this point). Closing is October 29, and we take possession 3 days later. We'll move in sometime in November (still working on that point).

When we agreed to clean up the current house and put it on the market the week after Luke's birthday party, that did *not* account for the many days spent, you know, buying a house! That definitely was not on the agenda and put a real crimp in our cleaning time. So we've put off listing the current house for another week. Yes, we bought a house before putting this one on the market, and no, purchasing the new house is not contingent on selling this house. Why does everyone keep asking that?! LOL But it will be up for sale soon enough, and if we're lucky, we'll get it sold before the end of the year. That would be nice. Keep your fingers crossed!

Currently feeling: on the move

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Whiter shade of pale

Actually, it's more of an off-white, though various companies call it Mystique, Foxtrot, or Brandied Pear. Can you tell I am trying to match paint colors to my existing walls? We need to do some spackling and touch-up painting, but we do not have the original wall paint used by the previous owner (not sure it would still be usable, even if we did). The good news is that the entire house is painted the same color, so we only have to get one color right, not several. The bad news is that there are about a bazillion different shades of white/off-white. Can't we all just pick one, call it cream or beige, and be done with it? Sheesh!

We finally settled on Foxtrot, which just makes me giggle. I've been aware that the Foxtrot is a ballroom dance since I was a kid, but thanks to Dancing With the Stars, I now know what that dance looks like! I want to go around telling people "yes, our walls are painted with Foxtrot" so our house will seem more refined and glamorous. It is not an exact match, of course, and I'm trying not to be terribly frustrated. And after discussing it with my BB, it was mentioned that if it has been several years since the house was painted (at least 8, for sure), then even having the original color may not prevent spot touch-ups from showing due to both wear and fading. I spot tested a couple of places, and freaked out when it was so much lighter. It does seem to be darkening some as it dries. We'll see how it does. (BTW, I really like the Brandied Pear color (too "warm" to match the current walls), and I may well consider it for a paint color in the new house, assuming we ever find a new house, but that's a different post!)

Some other points to mention, before anyone tries to leave suggestions (which are much appreciated!). No, we can't just paint the wall that needs to be fixed. Nearly every wall has some sort of gouge or nick in it, so we would effectively have to paint the whole house, which A) would be a complete pain in the.... and B) we have a 2-story foyer where the stairs are, and of course the stair walls need patching in places, so we would have to hire someone for that, which is money we would like to avoid spending if at all possible. Yes, we could try to get a different color, but the tiny sample cans (which I think is really all the paint we need) only come in satin finish, and we need flat, which is only available in quart size (or larger) and costs $10 a pop. Cheaper than hiring someone to paint the whole house, yes, but still not cheap if we need 4-5 different colors to try and get it right. ::sigh:: Again, trying not to get frustrated. Hopefully, it will be passable when it dries. Wish us luck on the great paint adventure!

Currently feeling: painterly

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Accidental Shoplifter

I walked out of Wal-Mart last night holding a foam paintbrush that I did not pay for. In my defense, I was also holding my keys, my camera, and a notepad in my left hand, in addition to the brush. I couldn't hold the brush in my right hand because I had to also write with the pen in that hand. I didn't put the brush in my pocket because (here's irony for you) I didn't want to forget it was there and walk out without paying for it. ::snort:: I realized it as we got in the car and I was "unloading" my hands. I just stared at it for a minute, trying to figure out if it was worth taking it back in and paying for it. I knew it didn't even cost a dollar. But I also knew I would feel guilty about it for days or weeks, so I fished some change out of the dash and went back inside. As I re-entered the building, I made an immediate right to customer service to explain what had happened. "Thank you so much, ma'am, for being so honest! Most people would not have come back in to pay for it, especially something so inexpensive." I think I totally made her night! LOL She was just so genuinely surprised that I had bothered to come back. Hey, we're trying to buy and sell a house right now. I can use all the good karma I can get!

Currently feeling: terribly embarrassed

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rear Window

As most of you know, I work from home. I don't have an office, I just sit at my kitchen table. We have a "breakfast nook" with essentially floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides, and we keep the blinds raised so the cats can sit on the sills. My chair has its back to one of the windows, which normally isn't a big deal, since the window faces my and my neighbor's back yard. However, the lawn people are here right now, and I feel like I cannot sit in my chair and work. Our lot slopes down from front to back, so the height of the floor at the back of the house means that my rear end is basically at eye level for anyone in the back yard. I don't want the lawn people looking at my butt! They would then run away screaming and looking for something to gouge out their eyes.

So I am now sitting in the den, waiting for them to finish, and I brought my work laptop with me. (I don't work from the recliner all the time because 1) it is bad for my posture, and 2) it makes me sleepy in the mornings, and I'd hate to doze off in the middle of a conference call.) It's not so bad, though. One advantage of having a virtually dead yard is that it doesn't take long to do. Just whack down the weeds, mow the one little patch of "more clover than grass," rake the leaves into semi-artistic mounds around the trees, and be done. Usually less than 30 minutes for 2 guys, which is also good, considering the noise is deafening. They do our yard and our neighbor's yard at the same time, which combined is still likely smaller than some of the other yards they do.

Currently feeling: fear of windows

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Forethought: A Conversation with Luke

Luke was looking at some of his Star Wars figures while in the back seat of the car. One of the figures was the black-clad Luke Skywalker from the Pit of Carkoon scene in Return of the Jedi.

Luke: Why he have a blaster? Why he not have his light saber?
DH: Because he gave his light saber to R2 to hold?
Luke: But why he have a blaster?
Me: Remember, he took the blaster from a guard so he could escape.
Luke: He used his light saber?
DH: Well, yes, he did, after R2 fired it up into the air for him to catch.
Me: Luke knew he would be captured and they would take away his light saber, so he asked R2 to hold it for him.
DH: He was planning ahead so he would have his light saber and be able to escape.
Luke: Why was his light saber on his head?

Currently feeling: no force on earth is as funny as a child's logic

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Twitter Genie

I have decided that Twitter is my new best friend. It's like having a genie; make a wish and someone will likely have the answer. Yesterday, out of frustration, I posted the following tweet: "Need to find a realtor. Hate cold-calling for stuff like this, but don't know what else to do. Moving sucks." Not language I typically use, I know. I was in a grumpy mood. I also decided that Thursday was the day to check out various Twitter tools for the first time, so that I could see any @ replies of people who I was not yet following. (I didn't realize until this week that even if someone did a direct @ reply to me, I wouldn't see it on the Twitter website if I wasn't following them!) I checked out Twhirl and TweetDeck, and decided on TweetDeck. Got it installed, opened it up, and there in my "mentions" column was someone I do not know from Arizona responding to my tweet and asked if I was looking to buy or sell my home. It was actually a little creepy.

I checked out her profile. @ECNewlin was from Arizona, so I didn't think she could help me, but I responded just to be polite, informing her that we were looking to do both, but in the Atlanta area. She offered to run our location and criteria through their relocation service and get a name of a local agent to help us. Um, okay. My husband wanted to know how this was better than cold calling, since we still have no idea if this person is any good. True, but to me it is better because A) this company is actively looking for our business, which I consider a good thing in a realtor, and B) well, quite frankly, because they're calling me and I don't have to call them. Call me lazy! I mean, the worst that could happen would be that I don't like the person I'm referred to, and I can move on.

Around 10:30, Amber from Century21 in Arizona called to ask me about our house and to inquire about my desires for an agent. I explained that we wanted someone who could represent us as both buyers and sellers (one person is just easier on us at the moment), and we definitely need someone familiar with this area. Amber said someone would contact me before the end of the day, and sure enough, a couple of hours later, my phone rang again with yet another number I did not recognize.

Jayme Gooding of Coldwell Banker (they are corporate sisters of Century21) was on the other end of the line. She was pleasant and cheerful, and *clearly* knew the area where we live. She said she even looked at some of the houses behind ours when she was looking to buy her own house. I enjoyed speaking with her on the phone, and we set up an initial meeting for Friday. DH and I both liked her immediately. We looked over the house, and I was terrified she would say that we needed $20,000 worth of "sprucing up" to be able to get a decent price for the house. Nope! She did agree that we should go ahead and replace the vinyl, but other than that and doing some general yard clean up (well, and major house cleaning, which A) we already knew, and B) is "free" because it will be DH and me doing it ourselves), she thinks we should hold off on any other expensive items and see what kind of feedback we get. She will do the research on the local comps and will call us next week to discuss pricing. We've set a target of listing the house the Monday after Luke's birthday party. That's about 3 weeks from now. It is going to be a lot of work, but I do think we can do it. Advanced apologies for what will likely be more than one "house freak out" post in the coming few weeks, and incessant house chatter on Twitter and Facebook.

So, wish granted! Due to a confluence of somewhat random events (grumpy mood, Twitter post, happening to install TweetDeck that same day otherwise I would not have seen the initial response to my complaint), we now have a realtor, and I didn't even have to call anyone. They called me! I wonder what I should wish for next? Perhaps I should complain about having a dead yard....

Currently feeling: wish granted!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Photo of a Cliche

I called my father this evening to wish him a happy birthday. DH was washing dishes, the washing machine was going, and I was concentrating on my conversation. I heard what I thought was a scream, but I had no idea where it had come from. DH had apparently heard it, too, and turned off the running water. By then, there was silence. A few seconds later, we heard another scream, this time intertwined with crying, and we realized it was coming from Luke!

Luke was upstairs in his room, supposedly getting changed for bed. All I could figure is that he had jumped/fallen somehow and hurt himself. I was half-right. DH had opened the next to top drawer of the chest of drawers (at about head height for Luke) so Luke could pick out his pajamas and underpants. Luke likes to play a little when he gets changed, which is fine, so DH comes down stairs to do small domestic things while we wait. Apparently, Luke bent down to do something near the chest of drawers and forgot the drawer was open. As he raised up, he caught his face on the corner of the drawer. I'm sure at that point, he reflexively jerked his head back, but he was still raising up to a standing position, so the corner also caught him in the center of his bare chest, right on his sternum. I couldn't get a good photo of the scrape on his chest, but it was a patch about 1x2 inches (3x5 cm) in size, and just as red as it could be. No blood, just several layers of scraped skin. His face was not so lucky:

Though all things considered, the damage could have been *so* much worse! Now, normally this would be the end of the story, and I may not have even bothered to tell it other than to caption the photo for Project 365. Why is this story worthy of capturing for posterity? For the most cliched reason in the world. What day inevitably follows the occurrence of child facial injuries? It's so cliche, it has to be true: tomorrow is school picture day. Now we can forever recall the details of why his face is scraped in his Pre-K photos. It will be a fun story to tell his future spouse.

Currently feeling: bemused at such cliched timing