Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 reads

Pretty lame year on the reading front but things have been a bit hectic.  Perhaps 2016!  Here's the list for posterity's sake:
  1. A Lesson Before Dying
  2. The Baker's Daughter
  3. Notorious Nineteen
  4. Takedown Twenty
  5. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox
  6. The One and Only Ivan
And the usual tons of children's books.  #6 is one, too, but it's a chapter book.  I thought we could read it aloud but it's still a little old for the kids.  I liked all of them. #5 was probably the one I wanted most to not end.  It felt like I needed to know what happened after the final page.  Good sign...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

update #12: satisfying progress

We are finally (FINALLY) at the portion of the program where the progress is something that I care about.  Not that I didn't care about progress before but things like new plumbing don't exactly make me giddy.  I couldn't fall asleep last night (even though I'm sickly AGAIN) because I really wanted to see the progress from yesterday.  Freakin' time change.  The guys were working late and I don't really want to drop by at night.  Them having a heart attack doesn't get me in the house any sooner.

So we're looking at the end of the month.  I'm disappointed we won't be in by Thanksgiving but we'll work it out and will be thankful regardless.  I've been told by multiple people that they feel like they're going through this with us.  I take that to mean that they crammed their family in an apartment (and various other places) for nearly a year in solidarity.  No? Ok, fine.  What it really means is they want pics.  Here you go.  Obviously a lot of small things to go (and a few big ones).

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

update #11: recovered from the crazy

It seems that right when things are getting really bad and crazy and you want to scream "I can't do this!" that's when they turn around.  Kind of like childbirth.

So things are better.  I feel like we may actually live in our house again...something I was doubting before.  I started treating the contractors like I treat folks at work--I badger until I get a response (in a relatively nice way, of course).  It has actually resulted in--gasp--responses.  And I told them that I was going with the more generous part of the date range they gave me during our last big meeting.  So November 13th it is.  Please ignore that that's a Friday the 13th.  We're basing furniture delivery and leaving the apartment on that date so they have to stick with it.  Or else we'll be camping in the backyard, I guess.

We've had a lot of progress in the last few weeks.  We have all the walls textured and several rooms painted.  All new doors and trim--all painted.  Bathroom vanity bases in.  About half the kitchen cabinets in.  A new back patio (as the fire damaged the concrete--crazy).  We picked out all the flooring and tile.  Ordered odds and ends, which is an ongoing thing around here.  So it's coming along.  Finally. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

update #10: the one with the crazy

I feel like making it 8 months out of the house before losing my mind was a pretty good run.  We're about a month past that and probably have almost two more to go before we're back in.  I'm honestly thinking of starting a GoFundMe campaign for my mental health care costs.  I try to go to sleep at night but just get angry and think of how I'd go on a tirade Julia Sugarbaker-style.  (Instead of, you know, slightly misplaced anger at strangers in a parking lot.)

Also?  I waffle.  I try to calm down and think that none of this is a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  So many people are going through much worse.  At least I live in a safe place.  I don't feel the need to flee my country to bring safety to my children.  We have food and jobs and our general health.  But then I think that if I don't get mad we will literally never move back home.  NEVER.  And I want to scream. 

So here's where we are.  We have walls and ceilings.  Allegedly they'll be textured starting tomorrow.  We met with the contractors a week ago and really tried to pin them down on costs and timelines.  I was feeling better then but I'm clearly already over that.  I get that we're taking this opportunity to make some changes that we would have had to pay for had the fire not happened. We figure now's the time to do it.  In the long run, it makes more sense to do it now than spend more money ripping out new material down the road.  But.  It also feels like I'm the only one concerned about the budget.  I'm not willing to pay an endless amount in upgrades.  I'm not willing to pay jacked up prices for materials.  So that leaves me with basically a part-time job as a sub-contractor who researches materials, bargain hunts, negotiates.  You know, on top of my full-time job.  And the tiny task of raising two small kids. 

But where does that leave me?  I have no problem with the quality of work thus far (which is good since we'll be living in this house a long time).  It's the timelines and budget.  And the fact that we're out of housing money about halfway through next month.  Which, again, we're fortunate enough to be able to pay mortgage for a house we're not living in AND outrageous apartment rent but it's the principle of the thing.  Can I fire these folks?  Um, not if I don't want to avoid a ton of additional delays.  I'm super tempted to just say, "We gave our notice at the apartment for this date based on our meeting with you last Friday.  That means we will be moving in on X.  You better be done by then."  Sigh.  I don't know, people.  I'm probably going to flip out on someone today.  You've been warned.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

great girl

I saw this comic strip one time where a dog was complaining that he or she was always good, never great.  I don't know why "good girl" flows so much better than "great girl" but it does so that's what you tell them.  This morning, though, I told her she was a great girl.  And she was.

We got Maggie about 6 months after we got married.  We knew we wanted a rescue, and I really wanted a Boxer.  I don't know what it was about her little ad that I liked over the others. 

I am so sweet and I just roll with the flow where ever I go. Everyone who meets me says that I am just the sweetest little girl! You see, I was lost...and I got picked up by the county animal control. They put me in a large cage with lots of other dogs...but, that did not bother me...I just waited there because I knew that someone would come and see how sweet I am and get me out. Sure enough, one day a nice lady showed up and got me out of there. She put me in her car and I had a lovely ride to the vet. I am all healthy and now they are feeding me so that I can gain a little weight. However, I must admit that I am on the small side at about 45 pounds.

And then they posted these pictures of this totally emaciated Boxer girl. 

We had to drive way north of town to meet her at her temporary foster location.  They hadn't even had her long enough for a real foster placement.  She was so skinny and seemed kind of scared and timid.  She could walk well on the leash.  I don't know what it was about her but we took her.  It turned out she was crate trained as well.  More than likely she was used for breeding and then who knows.  But I think she had a rough life on the street because she was always uncertain of other dogs.  Never people, though.  She loved them.  (Selfies from this morning.)

They were calling her Flo but I decided on Maggie.  Maggie Waggie.  Maggie C Boxer.  Maggie-roni.  Maggie Mae.  You apparently can't be a small mammal in this house and get away without many, many nicknames.  We fattened her up (appropriately) and she went on lots of walks.  She looked great.  So much healthier, all muscle.  Our vet guessed she was probably 2-3 years old.  Looking back, I'm betting that they underestimated her age because of her small size.  Our current vet was thinking she's probably older than 8.  That oddly makes me feel a little better. 

Anyway, she was the best dog.  It seemed like she was so well-behaved to begin with but we did teach her a few things.  We never had any trouble with her.  She was calm for a Boxer.  You could leave her in the front yard with no fence and she'd never wander off.  She was super well-mannered and maybe would get a little overbearing with visitors because she wanted ALL THE LOVE

She was with us through a ton of changes.  Unemployment, a new baby, selling a house, buying a house, another new baby, several job changes, three new cars, the infamous house fire and the crazy living situations that followed.  She was a trooper.  We never had to worry about her being a disruption anywhere we stayed.  I mean, seriously?  How many dogs can live in a hotel for a month and you'd probably never even know she was there besides the jingle of her collar...  She occasionally got into trouble because she was a dog afterall--the deer incident.  Um, and the more recent skunk encounter.

Maggie loved people but she loved my husband the most.  By far.  She enjoyed being outside when the weather was nice.  She loved walks and jogs.  She'd even tolerate crazy outfits to protect her against the weather.  She loved being loved on.  She didn't really play with toys, just people.  But she loved Daisy and Tessa, her auntie dogs.  And she loved photobombing.  She was very skeptical when we brought home baby #1 but as they've grown up, they grew on her. 


We put her down this morning.  It was the worst decision to have to make but it was all very quick and peaceful.  My husband asked if we could do it outside, which I think was a great idea.  The vet said he agreed that it was time and that we had already tried more than a lot of people would.  He thinks she probably had cancer in her brain and possibly elsewhere.  The other options didn't seem to be very good considering her age and size.  And I just don't think she would have been happy if she couldn't follow us around wherever we went.

We all loved her very much.  She was my coworker for 5 1/2 years.  I'm not sure how I'm going to make it through the workdays.  And I'm not sure how my husband will get over losing his best friend.  You were a truly great dog, my dear.  We will miss you terribly.

Friday, July 31, 2015

3 years! (the boy edition)

Hey, Buddy!  You're 3!  I can't believe my baby is three.  Sigh.  These days you go by a lot of different names other than your own--Buddy, Buddy Bear, Buns, Jojo, Joj. I think Jojo came from the Power Puff girls' Mojo Jojo.  I'd change it to [your name] Jojo.  And then dropped your name altogether.  Daddy calls you Super Son sometimes. 

So, Jojo, what are you like these days?  Mostly awesome with a little bit of the whole "threenager" thing sprinkled in.  Oh my, speaking of sprinkles I guess I should start with a story from when we went on vacation in the Hill Country a few weeks ago.  You met your first love.  It was so funny; as soon as we got to the campground, we went to the pool.  You quickly found an age-appropriate little girl to woo.  After we changed, we went to the playground.  There you flirted with 3 sisters.  The oldest one (who turned 14 while we were there) is the person you say you're going to marry.  She was very sweet to you and your sister.  She was pale, thin, had the red-haired gene (so I couldn't be too mad at you for loving another) and had freckles.  You asked me where the girl with the dots was.  I knew you meant freckles and told you that was what they were called.  You called them various things--spreckles, sprinkles, and more recently you've taken to frinkles.  So to say you're charming is an understatement. 

What else?  You're still strawberry blonde.  We've stopped letting you have crazy long hair, and that makes you look so much more grown up.  You're still a skinny minny and I think a little short for your age.  We don't have your 3-year appointment until about a week from now so we'll see then.  You wear mostly 2T clothes still but can do 3 in some things.  The one thing that feels above average is your feet.  We got new shoes this week and you went from a 7.5 to a 9.  Huge.  It's the toes.

You are still very cuddly and request cuddles at times. If I'm sitting on the floor you'll come and plop down in my lap.  You're mostly happy but are quick to anger.  And again, quick to recover most times.  Except, you know, when you pitch fits--you can show some stamina then.  Your old teacher calls you Smiley [your name], which suits you.  You seem to love all of us, Mommy and Daddy equally (although when I have to go out of town, you prefer me when I return).  You and your sister get along and generally play well together.  You'll help each other out.  I'm so glad you're a pretty easygoing kid since we've been in close quarters for slightly more than half of your last year due to the Christmas fire.

You love to be busy; you're a pretty active guy.  You enjoy water, being outside, going on walks, playing with Duplos or Lincoln logs, doing puzzles, reading stories, dinosaurs, super heroes, all things transportation, going to HMNS.  You love Tumblebus at school and have taken more swimming lessons this summer.  You had your first karate class (with your sister) yesterday and did well.  I'm glad we'll be able to do one class for the both of you.  You ride your tricycle and I think have tried out the bike a few times.  Daddy got you a scooter today so we'll see if you can get the hang of that.  You do like the iPad and movies but we try to limit those.  We took you to see your first movie in the theater this summer--Home.  And we saw the Minions movie last week.  You did great.  We also took you to see The Music Man at the real theatre since Shapoopi is one of your favorite songs. 

You enjoy school.  You've had quite a few changes there this year but are doing well.  You'll move up into the 3-year-old class in about a month.  I'm looking forward to the changes that that will hold--you'll be even smarter!  No, you're really doing great.  You're so verbal and know so much already.  You tell me your best friend is Tyler.

For your 2-year post I said, "You're a pretty good eater. You like a lot of sweets--gummies, chocolate, etc. but you're less of a fan of ice cream. And, like Mommy, you prefer the cake to the icing. You eat a lot of meat and like pre-packaged fruit cups, bananas, raisins, breakfast bars, cereal, pancakes. You're not a big vegetable fan and really don't eat many fruits that don't come in cups."  You are pretty much still like this.  You love mac and cheese but don't want anything to do with potatoes of any kind.  I still don't understand that.  And you dislike whipped cream.  Wha?!  You do love Gatorade and want to drink my sweet tea when I have it. 

You are totally potty trained.  Woohoo!  I swear, as our house was burning one of the things I thought was "well, now he'll never be potty trained." I knew we'd have so much disruption for awhile.  But your school encouraged you even before I thought you were ready.  You had tons of accidents and then got the hang of it.  Unlike your sister, though, you had some regressions and we had to get you back on track a few times.  But yea!  No diapers!  Even at night.  So great.

Since you and your sister have had to share a room, you're mostly good at going to bed.  The getting ready for bed is sometimes a pain but sometimes it's a race!  And that's fun (unless you're the loser).  You don't mind brushing your teeth anymore.  Once we've read stories and talked of your day, Daddy and I leave.  You and your sister then jibber jabber.  Sometimes for minutes, sometimes for an hour.  Sigh.  But I guess it's better than fighting.  You usually sleep all night (but, oddly, had a bad night last night).  And when y'all wake up, you come in our room and say, "It's the babies!" and climb into bed with us for awhile.  I get to cuddle y'all, and I love it.  I'm very much looking forward to moving back home and into a king bed.

Well, Buns, another year.  Hopefully the next one will be less dramatic in regards to our living situation.  I'm so, so happy to be your Mom (which you call me now--sob).  You're my favorite boy, and I couldn't love you more.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

update #9

To say I've fallen off the blog wagon would be an understatement.  Ho hum.  So, 2 months have gone by, and I have to say that my positivity is waning.  Being in relatively good spirits while being out of the house 7 months was a good long run. I think (in addition to just the length of time) it's because we've spent too long doing tasks that don't have a lot of gratification but are necessary.  Like electrical and plumbing.  Definitely want those but you don't get terribly excited seeing new pipes and wires.  Ok, I did get excited to see that the kitchen fluorescent lights had been replaced with can lights and pendants. 

So what's been happening?  We have windows (except for a few downstairs) and siding and exterior paint.  The garage is almost completely done--need a few trim pieces and the garage door.  Everything inside has been sealed.  We have ductwork but no AC units.  All the flooring has been removed.  We've made decisions regarding changes we want to make now since the house is gutted.  Hubby has been running some Cat6 cable himself.  Probably some other things I'm forgetting as building a house is a pretty long list.

Up next?  We have brick delivered.  Two sides of the house will need to have it removed and replaced.  Then we can move to the inside--insulation, drywall, exciting things like cabinetry and paint and flooring and light fixtures and a million other things.  We've had various delays that I don't blame the contractors for...just life, nature, insurance.  Once we get to the pretty stuff I think I'll be more excited again.

In the meantime, we took advantage of the July 4th sales and ordered living room furniture and a new mattress for us.  I've been thrifting and have found some things for the kids' rooms.  I purchased lots of light fixtures when the ones I want go on sale.  And we ordered nearly all of our appliances (#sendmoney #kiddingnotkidding).  So a lot of research and bargain hunting but at least it makes me feel like I'm doing something. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

update #8

I can't believe I used to blog so much. Of course, that was pre-children. Anywho, it's been awhile since an update. We're still working on the exterior so that it's secure before moving on to the interior.  And, you know, we've had more rain in the last few months than we've probably had over the last 5 years. 

But!  Other than where windows need replacing, we have exterior walls!  And our covered patio was rebuilt.

And we have lots of interior wood replaced including all the rafters.  So basically everything that was above the 2nd floor ceiling has been replaced.  It wasn't just a quick shingle replacement.  Really, it's like a 3rd of our house has been rebuilt.  And then nearly all of the interior will be.  This is the kitchen looking into the laundry room.

And the attic above our bedroom. 

So things are really coming along.  We've had a few days without rain (even though it looked like it could rain at any moment pretty much all day yesterday).  It's amazing how much the guys can get done if the weather actually cooperates.  They'll have to finish out all the framing and then we'll need to pass inspection. Then roofing, windows, siding, brick.  And I guess THEN we can start focusing on the interior.  That part is way more exciting to me.  I have collected almost all the light fixtures we'll need--some were just replacements of the ones I had replaced since we moved in.  And I've picked up a few replacement furniture pieces.  Since we need to replace so much, it's easy to watch sales and get really good deals. I guess that's all for now.  I wish I had more time to write more about other things.  Maybe one day...

Friday, April 03, 2015

update #7 (it's a lucky one)

Last week, exactly 3 months to the day later, demo started on our house. They've made a lot of progress since then, and we usually stop by almost daily to see what's happening. It's interesting to see the guts of your house. We also have electricity hooked up. Finally. So many hoops to jump through before you can even make the request. I wanted to post pics here but just don't have time to upload everything right now. I'll put some on FB.

Doing a lot of shopping these days. Lots of decisions to make but I love it. So, yeah, if you hate shopping? Don't ever (re)build a house.

One interesting thing is that everything inside the house was black/grey because of all the soot and ashes. Now everything looks clean because of drywall dust. And from the outside? Time just keeps rolling on. Spring is here. Flowers and bulbs are blooming. Can't wait to get back home.

Monday, March 23, 2015

update #6

We remain in the tentatively exciting stage. How long can one remain there before that tentative excitement wears off? We'll see...

We're in the apartment now. I hadn't lived in one in YEARS. It's really not bad. Definitely more space than the hotel and it feels more "ours" than the grandparents'. It really is a beautiful property--so wooded and quiet. Overall, everyone has settled in. I've tried to make it feel like home with some decorations, art, photos, etc. But still, it's much more brown than I normally go for. The only thing I don't like is how tiny the 1-car garage is. I mean, yes, we have a garage. But we have to park in it because we only get one other space. We'll see, though. As time goes by we may need to store some things in it.

Still haven't gotten our clothes back but that should change tomorrow. There was an issue with a check from the insurance company not making it to us so we had to wait to get that straightened out first. At least we'll have them back before this weekend (wedding, etc.) but it sure would have been nice to have work clothes prior to my trip last week. I bought a few things (including shoes--I have very few of those right now). And totally forgot that I had no suitcase to put them in. Sigh.

And the house. Well, we've gotten to visit it more since we're in walking distance. The kids and I went over yesterday. They drew with sidewalk chalk while I pulled up the few most offensive weeds in the flower beds. With the weather getting nice, hopefully I'll be able to do some weekend gardening. Seems like all the back and forth with the insurance company re: budget has been ironed out. Finally. Now we need to get temporary electricity and then demo can begin. Maybe this week but more than likely next. I can't wait. It's weird because it just felt like it was never going to move forward and we'd never get back in. But I imagine we will.

One other exciting thing is that while out shopping this weekend (for random other things), I found 3 light fixtures for the "new" house. And they were 75% off. Wee! So yea for a good deal but also yea for moving ahead.

Monday, March 02, 2015

update #5

Again, I've been meaning to write something. But, again, I've been hoping to have more exciting news. I guess we're kinda at the tentatively exciting stage. Maybe. That sounds convincing, right?

We're still at the in-laws'. We were supposed to have moved into the apartment today but that got pushed back to Friday. That means we'll be here to welcome the in-laws back from vacation. And hang with them a few days.

So the apartment was all kinds of fun. Everything went swimmingly the last day I posted. Then the next day we were told we couldn't move in there at all due to a new company policy not allowing leases shorter than 12 months. I called them and was on the verge of tears, threw the kitchen sink at them, they called corporate and had a "change of heart." Then last week they had a wrong date for move-in. Whatever. I'm rolling with it but not counting on moving in until I'm actually in. And then it will be harder for them to get us out. We'll be squatters. I'm not proud.

But moving into the apartment means we'll be getting our clothes back. I'm more excited about that than I should be. But I have a seriously limited wardrobe. And the kids are outgrowing those clothes as we speak. So yea for that! And yea for hopefully regaining some normalcy.

We're now at about 99% re: garage and trash belongings in the dumpster. We have a couple of non-trash things that I think I'll end up just moving to the apartment. Other than that, everything else will be handled by the contractors. We've made good work of it.

Contents are settled. That went well. Now comes the task of making the most of that money. I've bought a few things that we need to live but most of it (like furniture) will just have to wait till we're closer to moving back in.

I really love my car so that's something.

The house? Yeah. That's been a pain. We did get a new claims examiner with the insurance. I really like her and she lays down the law for folks who are dragging their feet. And she's helpful and informative and communicative. We also got a new, seemingly more reasonable building consultant assigned to our case. So he, our contractor, and I walked through the house again on Friday to try to get everyone on the same page budget-wise. We should have this ironed out hopefully this week or next and then can seriously get started on things. And things are supposedly coming along with getting permits and temporary electricity. Oh, I did have to call the electricity provider and tell them that their "estimated" meter reading was off. We, in fact, don't have a meter to read. Haven't for months. Estimate should be zero. Sigh...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

update #4

It's my birthday, and I gloriously took the day off. It's been awhile since an update but I guess that's because there hasn't been much to say. Annoyingly.

We moved out of the hotel at the end of last month. I weaned myself from the family that week. Hubby came over first to take care of the dogs and for me to let him have a tiny break. Then I sent Buns over because he had to go to daycare the next day while I took Chicken to her 4-year pedi visit. And then I had a night to myself. I was hoping it would be glorious but there ended up being work crises. At least I could handle them without the help of my tiny co-workers.

Being here is great for the kids, I think. They're so familiar with the place and have their own rooms (that they feel really belong to them). And it's super near daycare. Obviously it's bigger than the hotel, and Maggie gets some outside time more easily. It's still just not our own place. But we're happy to have it.

I think I figured out our housing for the rest of the time. Just today. I wasn't having luck with the folks who were supposed to be helping with this. I have to say, though, that she called just minutes ago. After not being that responsive and after I did the work myself. So it goes... Anyway, I think we're going to move into a 2-bedroom apartment that's right across the street from our neighborhood. We're going through corporate housing so all the bills will be included (and they'll even do all that legwork getting the utilities set up), and housewares and furniture will be provided. I think it will be great. We'll be able to keep an eye on the house and the progress there. I will easily be able to run over during the day when I need to. And we'll be able to walk Maggie on our own street. Hopefully the kids will feel more connected to the neighborhood again.

As for the house, we got about 95% of the garage and about 90% of our "trash" belongings piled into a dumpster a few weekends ago. Folks were GREAT help that day and made short work of it. We now have a new, empty dumpster to work with.

Everything is almost settled re: contents I think. Just need one estimate and I think we'll be good. Definitely get replacement cost in your insurance policy. That's my free tip for today.

As for the actual house? Sigh. Still trying to hash out the budget. And we have to get the house plans from the builder for the contractor to use. That had lots of hoops to jump through as well. So if I can just get people to respond to calls and emails...

Sunday, February 08, 2015


Child, I'm ridiculously behind on about all things these days. But you're 4!  When we planned your brother's birthday party, you told me that you want a princess party yourself. It wasn't surprising then and you stuck with it for 6 months. We narrowed it down to a Frozen theme, however. I had all sorts of fun ideas and even looked into getting snow but then all hat fell to the wayside when our house caught on fire. The opposite of a Frozen party...  But we took advantage of the birthday package at the gym you and your brother attend and it worked out great. I feel like I phoned it in but y'all had a good time and Mommy didn't go insane so win-win.

You are still so smart and chatty. You ask TONS of questions. Sometimes when I say something you will repeat it under your breath, like you're processing it and committing it to memory. You do have a fantastic memory. You still have a lot of empathy and love babies. You're very resilient, as evidenced by this whole nomad lifestyle we have. I think it has bothered you a bit but not as much as I would have expected. You do still whine and pitch some fits. Does that ever stop?  Maybe when you're grown.

You're finally getting better with the coordination. You've been going to ballet/dance since August and it seems to help a little. And you can ride a bike with training wheels!  Granddad mentioned it right before your birthday because you borrowed another little girl's at the playground. So that was your big birthday gift. And, yes!  You can ride it.

You're doing great in school. You get little report cards. It's funny how I have a bit of anxiety over that. I want you to succeed. Still struggling with handwriting but you've made HUGE improvements during Pre-K4. Your teacher is wonderful. When you first started in her class, I think you thought she worked you too hard so you weren't sure if you liked her. But then you adjusted and you love her, too.  You still have some of the same classmates as when you started there plus a few new ones you enjoy. We invited your friends to your birthday for the first time. Y'all are so cute together.

You keep thinning out and growing. You were something like 77th% for height and 65th-ish% for weight.  You're still size 9 shoes but I think can do 10s.  You mostly wear size 4 or 5 clothes. Your hair is still your most notable feature. We keep it long but trim it regularly. You still like fancy hairstyles but also just want it down sometimes. You had some whispies that got on your nerves so you cut them off. You had super short bangs that basically stuck out perpendicular to your face. Ah, a right on passage of childhood.

I'd say you still like pink the best closely followed by purple. You'll also tell me you like silver, gold, turquoise, and coral. You still love reading. You do enjoy watching movies, going to the park, playing with neighbor girls, walking Maggie, playing dress-up. I think I'm still your favorite but you do mostly get along with your brother.

Regarding sleep, you are still at a stage where going to bed or going down for naps (which you still take--yea!) is pretty easy. Bedtime is usually between 8:30 and 9. You mostly sleep through the night but still wake up altogether too early. You and your brother slept in the same room (your room). Sometimes y'all would sleep in different bunks but sometimes both in the bottom. You've had separate beds or even rooms since the fire and have done just fine. But you both tell me that you want to sleep in the same room once we get back home.

You eat pretty well. You have a reasonably balanced diet and like veggies more than your brother. But you do still have your daddy's sweet tooth.

Well, I'm already late at writing this and we all (except you, miraculously) have a horrible stomach bug. I guess that's it. You're still awesome, and I'm very proud to be your Mommy.  Love you, Chicken Licken.

Chicken, I had to come back and make an addition. I can't believe I left it out before. I blame illness and fatigue and general life craziness. But about your attire. You know how there was a period where you wore only dresses? Well now you wear ALL THE CLOTHES. At once. Like a long-sleeved shirt under a short-sleeved shirt with leggings and a skirt and leg warmers. All of it. It's very Punky Brewster. I think you'd love her, but I have mixed feelings about showing her to you for fear that you'll want to wear mismatched shoes or something. Anyway, it's hysterical and I'm totally giving you control there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

update #3

I can finally breathe at work for a bit. And by "a bit" I probably should mean about 5 minutes. But I'll spend a few more here. I wish I had the day off and could just do whatever outside. It's so beautiful. I would die up north. A week and a half of dreary days in the 40s leaves me just this side of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Obviously the weather makes me distracted and rambly. Back to business.

If you've been playing along on FB you saw that I got a new car. It's a 2015 Highlander. I love it. It's a greenish grey color that doesn't show up well in photos, and it's way fancier than I am. I think we got a good deal but even better than that, we got something big crossed off the list. I had one glorious solo ride in it. Without carseats even. But then back to reality...which, of course, I wouldn't trade for anything.

We're still at the hotel, and things are still going well. Our transition to the grandparents' house starts next week. We check out of the hotel on the 30th. Still no idea what we're doing come March. There are quite a few things to consider.

We picked a contractor and I am pleased with them so far. They seem proactive, which is good. Right now they're trying to settle on the budget with the insurance company so wish us luck with that. I've started a wish list and am thinking about what changes I'd like to make. It helps me to focus on that part instead of things like being homeless for months or that the chairs I really liked in the living room are no longer made (and I swear nothing like them can be found).

Our inventory folks were great. They were so much faster than we would have been if we had to do it alone. Now we await their list and see what the insurance folks say. Again. So I guess the next step is to start piling things into a dumpster. Hopefully by the time that's done we can get going with piling the interior of the house into a dumpster.

So my tip of the week. If you find a contractor you actually like and would use (or use again), keep their number. Then if some disaster befalls you, bring them in to create the estimate alongside your insurance adjuster. That apparently shaves a lot of time off the front end. I didn't even realize you could do that. We wouldn't have been able to, of course, but it's worked out fine since we can't exactly drop everything and deal solely with the house. So far the pace seems ok. I'm about to get a little antsy, though. Patience.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

update #2

I remain exhausted but still wanted to let y'all know how things are going. It feels like there has been a lot of progress in the last week.

My car was removed from the "garage" yesterday. Yea! Hopefully I'll have a check for that by next week. We've done a bit more research and more test driving and I think we are narrowed down to two. Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've car shopped with toddlers/preschoolers. Oh, did I mention that I had about 6 payments left on my old car? Isn't that the way it always goes?

I love our hotel. People are so nice and it doesn't feel weird staying here. Maybe it's because I've stayed in so many hotels over the last several years for work. It's really quiet, and I'm able to work fairly well here. It's obviously much smaller but that hasn't been a problem yet. And I have to say that I do enjoy that someone else cleans and cooks (at least several meals). Someone who isn't me. So I'm not sure what we'll do starting in March. We'll see what the options are.

We've interviewed several contractors and I think we've narrowed it down to two. We'll probably decide over the weekend. It does seem like everyone is thinking that it will be about 6 months to finish. And it will basically be a new house inside. And obviously a new garage.

Yesterday morning folks came to get our larger furniture that we'll have professionally cleaned. And last weekend we had so many people come to help pack things up to move to storage. And by that I mean sift through the good and the bad, clean everything, pack into boxes, load the truck. We even had some extra nice folks come with us to storage to unpack. I tell ya, people are nice. So we made tons of progress then. Hubby and I took off on Tuesday to get a little more done. Maybe one more good workday and we'll have all the salvageables out.

On Tuesday, a guy comes to help me inventory all the total loss items. It really isn't that bad. Well, except for the garage. My tip of the day is to take pictures of what's everywhere in your house AND garage. I have house pictures (I take them every year on the anniversary of our move-in date) but none of the garage. Sigh.

Everyone is still doing fine. The kids like the hotel. They say we could stay here a long time. They really are well behaved. Buns will remind us every time that we need to be quiet in the halls. And of course they love the elevator. I don't think I've wanted to stab people since the last update so that's good. One thing that is interesting to me to observe is that I'm annoyed when people ask how the fire started. I'm not sure why. It's a perfectly natural question that I would totally have done myself before this. I think even though it's not intended, I feel like there's an accusation there or something. I don't know. I'm defensive I guess. And perhaps I don't want to look back. I'm trying to focus on progress instead.

We're really back at work and that is making me a little insane. This is honestly the busiest time of the project and if I can just make it through this month I think I'll be ok. But I could use a sabbatical. There's so much to do. All. The. Time. Speaking of, I guess I better get back to it. Thanks again for all your help, concern, gifts, etc. It really is nice to have you in our lives.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 reads

Super light reading year. I don't know what I did with my time...

1. Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises
2. The Secrets of Happy Families
3. The Fault in Our Stars
4. Heartbroke Bay

One was Hemingway at least.

And I'm retiring the following as I think they're all in storage post-fire:
1. And Baby Makes Three
2. The Happiest Toddler on the Block
3. Daring Greatly

Maybe 2015 will be more exciting. I do miss curling up with a good book.