Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Misplaced Persons

I stop by the house three or four times a week--I water the plants, I pick tomatoes, I get the mail, I check on the progress of the floor/ framing/ etc. The kids come with me and get stuff from their rooms or they sit in the car and do homework or they hop around in the front yard, peering up and down the street for signs of their friends. I do this a little bit, too. Then I sigh wistfully and think how this was such a great neighborhood when we used to live here.

Then I remember: oh yeah, I still DO live here. Sort of.

After only a week and a half at my MIL's I feel like we've moved out. The house is so gritty and beat down that it is not at all a pleasant place to be (and oh, the yard, it is in a dreadful shape, white and baked and dry). But I miss being able to walk to the library and the store. I miss being five minutes from the kids' school. I miss my running routes. I miss talking to all the neighbors, even the ones who irk me just a little bit.

The house is progressing. The hall and bedrooms have black tarpaper down (I guess this is what they put between the subfloor and the floorboards.) The laundry room has hardiback subfloor, ready for tile. The front room is promisingly filled with bright new yellow lumber. Progress is on the horizon.

But meanwhile I wake every morning in a tidy white duplex on a golf course, go for a run beneath the stars, wave at the active 55s-and-over who wave back ever so slightly accusingly (aren't you and your children what we moved here to get AWAY from? uh, probably so.) I walk Costi on the lush green lawns and when I scoop her poop into the bags, as often as not a little crinkly crabapple leaf sneaks in too. It's starting to be fall, and I long to be home.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday treatments

I guess that TECHNICALLY this is a Typical Monday.

I.e., my mind was a raging forest fire of stress last night and the Jetta has a flat* and thus I had to drive M to the train station so that we could both get to work today, which, as this is my early day, meant that we both had to leave by seven (ha), which, bless my MIL's heart, meant that she would take the kids to school, so that in order to keep her from having to go far above and beyond the call of duty, meant that the kids had to be out of bed, dressed, combed, and fed before we left.

The feat was accomplished, though, and with a minimal amount of crying/ hissing, even if the kids were both lying on their backs waving their arms and legs in the air like drowsy pink pillbugs when we walked out the door. So that was good, and un-Mondayish. And I have a new-to-me espresso maker in my office with me today: also un-Mondayish (although I am still perfecting the ratio of grounds to water). However, the most important thing: today is not yesterday, and for that I am glad.

Yesterday, inspired by a vague charitable impulse, I decided to drive to Fort Collins with the kids. Si could do a playdate with his old friend from first grade, Helen could...tag along, and I could pick up my MIL from the memorial service she was attending and drive her home. Furthermore, that would put the four of us out of the house for half the day so that M could get some work done. Win-win-win, right? Except that in my misty-eyed bumbling charitableness, I sort of forgot about me, and how there was very little in this long-ass thankless drive for me, and how such imbalance, while perhaps good for my soul, is not at all good for my mood. In painful addition, Helen was coming off a sleepover with a friend from her preschool whom she hasn't seen for several weeks. So: two quarreling kids, a long-ass drive, a sense of martyrdom, and vexation that I wasn't even doing something that anyone had asked me to do but had actually brought this all upon myself.

Yeah. It was a long drive. We weren't even out of Denver proper before I'd started to rant about money. The drive back was even longer and I actually pulled over (into a gas station, not by the side of the highway) at one point to clear my head and also show the kids I was serious about not provoking/kicking/screaming/pinching/tattling. ("How about I buy them some McDonalds?" offered my MIL at this juncture, which I angrily refused, a sort of compressed display of 75% percent of our conversations on child-rearing/ life). Ugh. I felt like a bully-mother-martyr--a person who has her place but certainly wasn't why I'd planned the outing in the first place.

On the positive side, though, Si got to see his old friend, and while they're sort of obviously growing apart, he still laughs more with this old friend than with any of his newer friends. They spent the last half of the afternoon telling each other gross-out jokes and laughing hysterically. Also, did I mention my espresso machine in my office? Now I just need a breadmaker (set to "muffin") and a comfy couch for naps, and I wouldn't have any reason to leave.

*We've apparently fallen into a Bermuda Triangle of brokenness.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Officially Out

So, we spent the night at MIL's surprisingly spacious duplex last night, and let me just how relaxing it was NOT to come home to the house in its state of deconstruction. No dust, no odd smells, minimal arguing about what new problem cropped up today or what old problem needs to be fixed immediately. Supposedly the builders were at the house late into the night, sealing off vents and things; however, I was blissfully unaware of what they were or were not doing. I feel very rested this morning, and sort of Zenlike about the money stuff (for example, if all of our money is embedded in the house, no one can steal it! except that we could steal it from ourselves, by moving too soon or not replenishing...anyway, perhaps the Zenlike part is not thinking about it too hard).

Sleeping arrangements, at the MIL's: M and I in the (windowless) basement bedroom, which is amazingly dust free. Helen on a Helen-sized futon on the floor, with her water and her stuffed snoopies tucked under a towel beside her. Costi on the floor. Since she can't fit under the bed (that's where she prefers to sleep at home), she put her front paws and head under the bed. Silas, by adamant choice, is sleeping on a small futon in the unfinished basement storage room with his music, two (!) fans, and his stuffed dog.

So far, so good. M said when he and the builders pulled up the carpet in our bedroom there was a quarter-inch encrustation of dirt and mold under a pathway from the door to the bathroom. I'm beginning to think that carpets=many of our problems, esp. allergy-related problems. Thus, hardwood floors: attractive, and also a medical investment! Hopefully.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Maintaining the organism

I've been doing a lot lately of what I call maintaining the organism. Other people might call these coping strategies. Still other people might call this Giving Yourself a Whole Lot of Extra Work and Why Don't You Slow Down Already. But, here are some of the ways I'm trying to stay sane:

1. Exercise, but not too much. My big run on Sunday is only five miles and my weekly runs veer toward 2-and-a-half miles, which previously I didn't really consider a real run (three miles, though: THAT's real.) I walk more. While I've never been a real striver in the exercise department, I'm letting myself take it more easy than before.

2. Eat well, but allow more treats. There's nothing that restores the mind and body quite like a coffee milkshake, after all.

3. Fancy touches. I haven't yet started putting garnish on the dinner plates, but I feel like I'm putting in extra effort to make the dinner table, which is also the countertop and the dishwashing area, LOOK nice. This isn't my usual way. I've also been sweeping the back porch more, even though we hardly ever use it, since it's miles away through a grit-encrusted wasteland right now.

4. Packing ahead. My lunch, the kids' lunches, the kids' backpacks--sometimes I'll stay up until 10:30 getting everything ready for the next day/ week. I'm not sure how much grief this really saves in the morning, but it does help me feel more or less on top of and in touch with the kids' school lives.

5. Cleaning. I've become a bitchy bear about making everyone (ie the kids) clean the living space every night.

Does this stuff help? A little. A lot, actually, but it's of much less value when dealing with having to move everything into two rooms and seal them up. I spent all Sunday moving books, clothes, and boxes, and still, there is so much left to do, and nothing gets underway until we've finished--it's exhausting.

Positives: on Saturday our building guys tore out the nasty gritty allergenic carpet from the kids' rooms, and Si's room has a really beautiful hardwood finish (which he keeps firmly reminding us he wants to have covered up again with carpet as soon as possible). Helen's room also has hardwood, although not in as nice condition.

Also on Saturday, Helen and I drove up to Fort Collins and visited with an old friend who has a daughter Helen's age, and it was so nice, to just sit around drinking coffee, playing with her baby and talking. This is something that doesn't happen as much as it should in our new life.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wormhole of Suck

So, we are entering the wormhole of suck phase of the renovation. Half the house is destroyed, entering or exiting the house involves either a) the garage door (which BROKE last weekend and had to be REPLACED even though it is two years old) or b) a dusty, gritty, possibly toxic tiptoe through a hanging sheet of plastic and the wrecked part of the house. Unpleasant, and although it has been only two weeks it feels like forever. Also, M is violently allergic to the drywall dust/ mold/ something growing outside and hasn't been able to sleep, breathe, see, or eat properly for about a month. Also, washing the dishes takes approximately 60 minutes every night. All yuck, but all relatively survivable (especially for me, since I'm not allergic). Then yesterday we got the results of the testing for a toxic substance that I'm reluctant to name publically (there are rumors that the local city will descend upon homeowners E.T.-style and temporarily condemn the house), but let's just say the substance is synonymous with 50s and 60s futuristic homebuilding and also that it's fireproof.

We're positive. Or the house is, anyway. We considered sneaking away in the dead of night and never coming back, but jettisoned that for the much less stressful complete emptying of the house while the vents are sealed, carpets are removed, the offending substance is removed along with the floor and/or subfloor, and then the floors are replaced and the whole thing is cleaned and sterilized. Oh, and also? Everyone involved has to sign waivers so if they develop symptoms of exposure to the substance in twenty years they can't SUE us.

Kill me NOW.

So yes, we are now entering the wormhole. Although what M and I are MOST dreading is the relatively mundane moving of boxes--everything we own has to go into a pod or a sealed room. UGHHH. I am SO SICK of moving (2008--we moved two households. 2009--we moved M's mom's household. 2010--apparently we are moving OUR household. Goal for 2011--NO MOVING ANYONE).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Demolition Derby

So! We are officially down to the studs. Some stop action photography:

Day 0:
Day 1:

Day 2:
Day 3 (or so):
Helen is standing approximately where the kitchen used to be.

We've started on the journey to the new kitchen. Somewhere in the mists of the future lie the ability to wash our dishes in hot water at a sink, fill the dishwasher, and stand at the kitchen counter making a pie that we can put in our own oven. In the meantime, we're on the hot & crowded 24-hour flight to Guam. Or maybe the four-month journey in the hold of the steamer.