Kicking Off the Year with an Actual Bang

2019 started with a rather unusual string of events that I felt should be documented. Although to give the recap full justice, I should really start with last night. Elise went to bed at her normal hour, but instead of lying down and going to sleep as she normally does, she wasn’t having it and seemed quite distressed. After an hour and fifteen minutes of consoling, lying next to her crib on the floor, sending Chaz in to do a round of consoling, a dose of Tylenol for what we ultimately decided was teething pain, nursing, and replacing her in her bed, she finally went to sleep around 10:20. “How unexpected,” I thought, and headed to bed myself after finishing my Best of 2018 list.

She woke up 3.5 hours after I went to bed, and then proceeded to wake twice more before rising for the day at 7:00. I decided to keep a positive/negative tally for the day, and this counted as one point on the negative side.

Fortunately, Chaz had the day off today and since he was able to sleep through her night wakings and had gone to bed an hour earlier than I had, he hung out with Elise in the morning and I was able to get an extra hour of sleep. Hooray! Negative score: 1. Positive Score: 1. We’re tied!

Next, we decided to get some breakfast at a local restaurant. Thanks to her not so restful night, Elise was a little less content than usual to merely sit and eat, so we kept our breakfast a tad shorter than we might have otherwise. Nevertheless, it was scrumptious, so I gave this whole outing both one negative and one positive point. We’re still tied! 2 to 2.


After stuffing our faces with pancakes, both Chaz and I did a workout. I like to think that I consumed no more than 173 calories in my full stack of pancakes + syrup and side of bacon this morning, because that would mean that my workout completely canceled out breakfast. Don’t burst my bubble with facts here. #science. The fact that we did a workout at all was definitely a point on the positive side.

After a rather uneventful lunch for Elise, I put her down for a nap. Naps are good! We love naps! Another point on the positive side! However, she woke up halfway through. Another negative point. If you’re keeping track, we’re currently at 4 to 3. But by some strange magic, I actually got her back to sleep in her bed, and she slept for another hour. Positive point!

After she woke up, we decided it was time to take down the Christmas decorations and pack them in the box until next year. In past years, putting Christmas stuff away has felt rather sad, but not this year. This year it felt like a fresh start, and it was nice to have the extra space in our living room and at the top of the stairs, which is where we keep the chair that normally sits where the Christmas tree goes. Fresh starts! Extra space! Clean house! Another positive point!

We also decided it was high time to replace the dead lightbulb in one of our sconces by our front door. It had been out for probably 18 months, so we took care of that, though it turned out to be a rather frustrating exercise since the fixture disassembled itself while we changed the bulb. Eventually, it was done. Bulb replacement, +1. High frustration level: -1. We’re at 7 to 4.

Since we were on a roll on the home improvement front, we decided to also fix the bookshelf at the top of our stairs that had self destructed and dumped its shelves about a week prior. The bookshelf was always a bit precarious, so the fact that the shelves had fallen wasn’t too surprising.

We removed all the books from the remaining perilous shelves, although left some on the center shelf, which was part of the apparatus securing both upright sides to each other. Then we braced the sides together at the bottom and determined that we needed a screw on either side to ensure that the same issue wouldn’t happen again going forward. I got the drill, screwed in the screw, and was finishing was just finishing the final tightening when I heard a gigantic crack above my head.

I shut my eyes and leaned away from the bookshelf as the previously-firmly-attached center shelf gave way, dumping every musical score, Norton Anthology of Western Music volume, French dictionary, Conversational Solfege Teacher’s Manual binder, and rogue CD set on to the floor with an unholy crash. Did I see my life flash before my eyes? Maybe. Elise, who was standing a safe distance away to observe the operation, immediately started crying. Chaz, who was policing the Safe Distance range, did not.


Negative TWO POINTS.

However, as previously the stated, the bookshelf had always been precarious, and so I will give the positive team one additional point: we no longer have to worry about the possibility of the bookshelf collapsing at a random time and harming a toddler. Specifically our toddler. Safety wins the day!

We declared defeat on the bookshelf repair project, made ourselves dinner, and then picked up the pieces before Elise went to bed. I’m happy to report that she went to sleep as normal, without close to two hours of distress. We’ll give that a positive point for good measure.

If you’ve kept track, the positives beat the negatives 9 to 6, and if that’s how the rest of the year shakes out, I’ll be happy at the end of it. Cheers!

The Great Mouse Hunt of 2017

Can something still be called great if it took place over the course of less than 12 hours? I say yes, but based on the following account, let me know if you agree.*

For the past several days I had been hearing scurrying noises in the walls. I'm not one to freak out too much about the prospect of rodents in my house, as long as they don't STAY in my house, so I didn't think too much of it. I told myself I should probably buy some mouse traps soon, but I wasn't sure where to put them since I didn't know how a mouse, chipmunk, or other small creature could have invaded the premises. 

Yesterday started passed mostly uneventfully. I heard the scratching/scurrying again while sitting (and nursing, as I do on the daily several times), and then forgot about it. I am well aware that a normal person would not forget about such a thing, so I suppose that makes me abnormal. 

That all changed when I saw a pair of my shorts that I needed to put away. I grabbed them from the chair upon which they sat, turned around, and started climbing the stairs, and that's when I saw him. THE MOUSE. He was sitting at the top of the stairs, apparently playing dead, since he wasn't moving. 


Again, a normal person might have had a normal reaction, like a gasp or a flight down the stairs. I did not. I said to myself, "I must get rid of this mouse RIGHT NOW." So I crept back down the stairs, headed for the kitchen cabinets, and grabbed a mixing bowl from the lazy susan where all our bowls are stored. Armed with a capturing implement, I headed back up the stairs to find that the mouse had moseyed its way along the baseboard on the landing and waltzed into Elise's room. Please note that Elise was sleeping in her room, which added a niiiiiiice layer of complication.

I got as close as I could, but before I could get the bowl over him, he scampered behind her bookshelf and was out of reach. He proceeded to disappear as I tried to access him from the other side. And so I declared a truce for the night and went to bed, vowing to myself to buy mouse traps in the morning.


The next morning arrived, and while Elise swung in her swing and I ate my Corn Flakes (don't judge - they're tasty), the mouse reappeared just beside our living room chair. "Aha!" I thought. "MOUSE, YOU ARE MINE." 


I grabbed the same bowl from the previous night, tiptoed my way over to the chair (approaching from the other side, of course), climbed onto the seat, leaned over the side, and quickly set the bowl upside down over the mouse, trapping him underneath. 

I swear he must have been the world's dumbest mouse, because I'm pretty sure normal mouse behavior would have him running away from humans as fast as possible. The mouse and I are evidently compatriots in abnormality. Let's just hope it's on different scales. 

Since I still had to dispose of the (live) mouse, I took a flattened cardboard box from our recycling bin and slid it under the bowl. The mouse was now transportable. I lifted the whole contraption up, took it to our screen door, and went outside.  


Once outside, I took a very quick jaunt down the rail trail behind our house, set the cardboard-plus-bowl on the ground, and flipped the bowl off the box. 


He was temporarily paralyzed by fear and stayed stock still, but quickly recovered after I tipped the box to get him to move (and to get myself back inside the house). 


Zoom lens. Don't think I'd get that close without one.

After taking one more mouse portrait, I bade him farewell and headed back inside. Please, dear mouse, STAY AWAY FROM MY RESIDENCE FOREVERMORE. 


*Other potential titles included Mousepocalypse and MouseGate.

Decor Challenged

This year, Chaz and I decided that our Christmas present for each other would be a bed for our guest room. It's the one room of the house that's very obviously unfinished after moving, so the time has come! The other room like that is the "kids'" room, but there are no kids, there are a lot of small items that don't have final storage spots, and it's upstairs and not used by your average house guest, so it can wait. 

Black Friday weekend was glorious for finding good deals on a bed. I found a nice headboard on that was 70% off, and Macy's was having a crazy mattress sale, so we got everything done and ordered well ahead of Christmas.

All that was really just backstory for the main point of this post, which is decorating, and the fact that I am not a decorator by any stretch of the imagination. Or at least...I'm either bad at decorating or not millionaire-enough to put together a room all at once. If it were up to me, sheets sets would be no more than $20. I'd also price nice furniture in the $100 - $200 range rather than the $500 - $1,000,000 range, but furniture makers don't ask me, do they? I'm guessing the real answer lies in thrifting. Thrifting is another skill that I lack. Someone want to teach me?

This has been the most rambly post. That's really all I have to say for now, except that I'm making this because I saw it on Pinterest and I love it:

[ source ]

Mine doesn't look like much yet.

And the only thing tying all of this nonsense together is the fact that the art is going in the guest bedroom with the soon-to-be bed, and hopefully someday other decorative things that I haven't discovered yet. 

The end.

Home Alone: A Tale of Momentary Terror

As you are well aware, Chaz was away for 10 days last week and the week before. For the first seven days, I was fine being by myself at home. We live in a small town away from anywhere remotely dangerous, so I had nothing to worry about. However. That all changed on the seventh day. The Sabbath of Chazlessness, you might say. 

I spent the morning Skyping with Chaz, cleaning the house, and getting ready for the day. Friends were coming over for dinner in the evening, so I was rushing around getting everything ready for that. Eventually, I had to leave the house to go to a baby's first birthday party (loads of fun! good apple crisp! wonderful people!) and I departed through the door that goes out to our garage. Important note: I left this door unlocked, since it required going through the garage, which had its own locked door. See? Unlocked - the lock in the middle is sideways:

I came home after the birthday part full to the brim of apple crisp and joy, because that's what birthday parties do to people. I came in through the garage, grabbed the doorknob, turned it, and....nothing happened. It wouldn't turn, and I was locked out. Had I locked it on my way out, this wouldn't have been anything. But I had purposefully left it unlocked, because I knew I was going to come back in this way. Ergo...someone else must have locked it, and NO ONE ELSE WAS HERE. Cue internal panic.

I raced around to the front door and opened it cautiously, assuming I was about to see my house ransacked. But when I opened the door, everything was in its place and the whole house felt eerily silent. I started creeping around looking for any sign of the Someone in the house, but I left the front door wiiiiiide open in case I needed to make a quick getaway. In retrospect, it would have been smart to have grabbed a weapon of some sort (shovel? garden hoe? cast iron frying pan?) from the garage, but I guess I wasn't thinking that clearly. The door was indeed locked (the lock in the middle is upright):


Eventually, I determined there was no one downstairs, so I tiptoed up the staircase and froze immediately. 

See that black thing through the doorway? I believe my exact thoughts were, "I'm going to die. That is the leg of a well-dressed bandit wearing black slacks, and he is about to murder me." At this point I was shaking a little too much for my own good, and as I silently made my way back down the stairs to the open door, I suddenly remembered I had hung a dark hoodie on the doorknob of the bathroom closet, and that there was not, in fact, a hell-bent marauder hiding in my bathroom.

I subsequently searched the rest of the house, and after convincing myself that no one was actually there, I finally went and shut the front door. The friends came over later and told the story with a laugh or three, but that night I locked my bedroom door and spent the entire night like this:

We'll see how long it takes me to recover my initial home-alone confidence....and I never did determine how that door locked itself in the first place.

The Tale of the Burning Stench

Last weekend, we had a few friends over on Saturday evening for dinner and some board games. When it's not the summer, we try to do that once a month or so, and last weekend marked the very first one after the summer craziness had mostly ended. It was also the first time that we were hosting it, since our prior apartment couldn't hold eight adults and four kids. I guess you could say it was a trial run for us and our house.

Side note: we do a thorough house-clean every two weeks on Saturday. We'll wake up Saturday morning, eat our cereal, put on some junky clothes, and clean. This Saturday morning happened to be a cleaning day, so we did exactly that, plus running the dishwasher and some weeding/Round-Up. It also should be mentioned that I mowed the lawn for the very first time in my life that day, but that doesn't play a part in this story. I'm just amazed that I got through 25.5 years without managing to do that. #brothers.

Eventually, we finished both the inside and outside work and collapsed on the couch momentarily before going to get ourselves cleaned up for the day. Carefully. We didn't want to get outside dirt/cleaning products/sweat on the couch. I was gearing myself up to launch myself off of the couch when I suddenly noticed something.

J: "Do you smell...burning?"

C: "Yeah...let's check the basement."

J: "No, it's stronger in the kitchen."

C: "Oh wait - is that the dishwasher??"

Sure enough, we opened the dishwasher and out poured a cloud of very likely toxic steam that I promptly inhaled. Sick. At the bottom of the dishwasher, right below the heating ring, was a puddle of black, dripping, disgusting goo that was giving off the most foul odor, which was now wafting into our nice clean house. Turns out, Nalgene water bottles are NOT INDESTRUCTIBLE. Or at least their plastic lids are entirely destructible when they make prolonged contact with hot metal heating rings. 

We scraped it up as best we could with a wooden spoon (that will never be the same, unfortunately) and let the dishwasher finish its work on the rest of the non-destroyed dishes, and I opened all the downstairs windows, figuring that the ungodly scent would dissipate in short order.

The leftover evidence - not what you want to have sitting in your dishwasher, but it will. not. come. off.

The leftover evidence - not what you want to have sitting in your dishwasher, but it will. not. come. off.

Afterward, we got ready for the day, and I ran a couple of errands in preparation of having people over that evening. But when I came back in through the door, the smell of burnt plastic hit me in the face as soon as I opened the door. No! I thought. This is NOT the way our house should smell on our trial game night! So I pulled out every candle I could find in the house and lit them all. 

About an hour later, Chaz looked up from his book, sniffed the air, and said, "You know...I think it's time to blow out the candles. We don't want it to smell like the Yankee Candle store in here." 

When people arrived that evening, no one commented on the smell, so it had either disappeared or they were just being nice. The smell really is gone now, but if you open the dishwasher, you may still catch faint traces of the stink. So a word to the wise: if you're having guests over, make sure to wash all of your plastic dishware at least a day before they arrive.

House Ownership: The Project Edition

After almost two months of owning a house, I've discovered that I enjoy house projects a bit too much for my own good. Since we moved in on May 14th, we've painted two rooms, laid flooring in one room, hemmed some curtains, made other curtains, made some pillows, and put together a photo wall. My next project in line is to make a dining room table, although I'm a little concerned that in attempting that, I might bite off more than I can chew, as they say.

Noooooo more mustard yellow for us!

Noooooo more mustard yellow for us!

The projects might be more impressive if I said that we'd managed to put all of our stuff away, but I can't - half of the garage is still full of boxes, and they won't be moving in the very near future as far as I can tell.

A rather unimpressive photo of the photo wall...

A rather unimpressive photo of the photo wall...

Of all the projects though, the least visible one takes the cake as my favorite: the laundry room! With the exception of moving the washer and dryer, I did all the work myself: two coats of paint, moisture barrier, flooring, and curtains (don't assume too much: I bought the curtains!). One day I'd love to redo the ceiling...but one step at a time, I suppose.

The room started out as an ugly brown with cement flooring and a messy original paint job. I was determined to rid the room of ugly brown at the very least, so I got some seafoam green paint and covered it all up.

Work in progress

Work in progress

As soon as the paint was dry, I decided that wasn't enough to make it look good, and that it needed some nice new flooring to make it better. So I Google until I felt like I had enough information, and then I went and bought some fake wood laminate flooring that would withstand any water that might spew from a washing machine we were planning to hook up ourselves.


Overall, I was very pleased with how it turned out. This particular flooring was really easy to use. It was tongue and groove, which meant that each piece snapped into the others and as long as I cut it right, everything lined up perfectly. But despite being pleased with how it turned out, I took zero pictures of the final product, so you'll have to live with this oddly-colored, poorly composed, boring picture of mostly just a floor with the remaining moisture barrier poking out and a little violent turquoise thrown in for good measure:

What a tragedy. I'll taka another picture soon to put everyone out of their misery.

Here's to home improvement.

Lately in the Woodstock Household...

...we actually have a house in which to have a household! How 'bout that.

This whole shindig went down pretty fast. We started looking at houses sometime in March, and for about two weeks, we didn't see anything. One Saturday we sat down, took a look at Zillow, and found this one. There was an open house the following day, which was the first "showing." The pictures looked pretty nice, but based on others we'd seen so far, we didn't get our hopes up too high.

On Sunday, we went to the open house, and we just KNEW. We called our realtor on the way home, had an offer in that afternoon, and had it accepted that night. After that, we wrote a check for what felt like our life savings, moved out of our little apartment and across a few towns, and as of May 14th, started calling this new place our home.

Moving itself was a four-day-long extravaganza. My arms were sore for days afterward, but I guess there were SOME exciting moments. Chaz learned to drive a big truck, for example:

We also had some very gracious helpers, and they successfully acquired and moved a piano:


We spent a good number of hours cleaning:

And after that we spent more hours putting things away (an on-going project, if I'm being honest):

We've also spent an unmeasurable amount of time at Home Depot:

But despite all of that, we're exceptionally grateful to have a more permanent roof over our heads, a place to host family and friends, and a lovely domicile to transform into a emptied box at a time.