Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cheer Report

Yesterday was the area Youth's "JAMBOREE". These are (for each level) three, 1/2 hour, games. Princess has played in Jamborees before, but that was as a soccer player... now, she's cheering for the 7th grade boys' football team. The good news, according to the girls, is that their shells aren't ready (the "shell" is the vest part of their uniform; we're waiting for this year's "H" to be sewn onto them), so they got to wear their practice uniforms (which consist of black shorts and blue tee shirts with the school's name, then "Youth Cheer" on the front). It was 83` yesterday...

This was the craziest, most disorganized, Jamboree I've ever been part of (everything was running behind, so the last of the three games got cut short at the half, plus the bleachers were off-limits, etc), but I did like the fact that they had snacks & water available. They also had school gear for the three teams playing (window decals, sweatshirts, tee shirts, water bottles, etc). I've already ordered a window decal, and will be buying Princess a sweatshirt directly from the high school.

Interesting things to note:
1. She technically has THREE uniforms -- the practice one, the traditional one, and "warm ups" (like a track suit, for colder weather). Ace was teasing her about being one of the pack; no longer an individual.
2. I had attended just about every practice & game when she was playing soccer, but she asked that I not come to practices for cheer. She wanted the first time I saw them to be a surprise.
3. She's better at cheering than she ever was at soccer. I asked how she liked it, after the Jamboree, and she said, "I think I'll be doing this again next year." I told her to hold off making that decision until it's time to sign up for next year.
4. The girls get into the high school's Friday night home games free if they wear their uniform (they're "encouraged" to attend these Varsity games).
5. The girls must wear their uniforms to school on Fridays of their own home games.
6. The only approved polish for games is "clear or natural french" (as a nail tech, this kills me), but they can have any color(s) they want in their hair (as long as it fits into a high ponytail or they have a bob -- approved game hair styles).

Not sure how many games I'll be attending, considering she's a side-show performer, instead of the main act, but we'll see. At least the games are still free at this age.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Concert

Mine was NKOTB. My mother bought three tix; one for me, one for her, and one for a friend. I can't even remember who the friend was now... Ace's was "Great White" with a couple of his friends. Both were at the age of 17.

Princess was supposed to go see Miranda Cosgrove with KP when she was at the county fairgrounds last month. KP's mom put off buying tix for a couple weeks, then decided they were going to spend time as a family and go watch Monster Trucks & the Demo derby. Glad I didn't buy her a ticket, because I would have had to go with her. (shudder!)

Ace's friend posted on his FB a couple days ago that his friends had some emergency and couldn't go to the upcoming concert. So, Ace asked if I wanted to go. I said, "Sure! But, maybe you should take Princess." Turns out, there were actually THREE tix available, so we all got to go.

We had gone to Ace's company picnic for a few hours earlier in the day, came home for an hour to snack, change, and feed & let the dogs out, then headed to his buddy's house (a guy he went to HS with, who now lives less than an hour north of us -- and very close to the amphitheater), to pick *him* up. His wife was very happy she didn't have to go (I guess she's not a fan, but didn't want the ticket to go to waste).

The opening band, "The Treatment" was okay... a bunch of 19yo kids from England whose sound guy turned the higher-pitched guitar up too high. Not even sure how they got chosen for this tour. We were all sitting at this point, and only about 3/4 of the audience was full. We had 200-level seats, but the amphitheater isn't huge, so we had great seats.

So, Motley Crue came on about 730p, and played for a little over an hour; no encore. It was about 1/2 stuff I knew, and 1/2 stuff I didn't, but the show itself was awesome. Lots of fire, fireworks, and laser lights. Tommy's drums were mounted on a big metal circle thing and a few times, he went up & around (like part of a roller coaster ride). At one point, he pulled a (very drunk) guy up from the audience & let him ride too.

At this point, Princess had to pee & was hungry for dinner, so Ace & his buddy took her to get food & to go to the bathroom (they left just before MC's last song was finished, so beat the crowds by a minute or two). They brought back pizza for all of us.

KISS came on a little after 9p. Their show was also about 1/2 & 1/2 songs we knew/didn't, and lasted over an hour & a half. Cool parts included fire, fireworks, Paul Stanley coming by zip line into the middle of the audience (onto a small stage that came up from the ground) to play a little closer to some of us for a couple songs, and when Gene rode up (via cable) to the top of the scaffolding to play a bit.

Princess was really enjoying herself (especially the songs she knew), but by 9p, she was tired (her normal bedtime is 930p) and her feet were sore (from two days, 4 hours each, of cheer practice), so she was sitting for about 1/2 of KISS's show. By the time we got out to our car, it was 1130p. She fell asleep in the car pretty quickly. I felt bad that I had to wake her when we got home, but neither of us can easily carry her anymore (she's over 100lbs).

I was in bed by 1230a, and Ace came to bed about 2a. This morning, though, none of us slept past 9a... and Ace said to Princess, "We've now ruined you for any pop show you will see in the future. You're welcome."

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I was going to title this blog post "Independence Day", but then I realized that it didn't come in one day... it came in small steps, over time. I'm talking about Princess. Ever since she was abducted by her father & stepmother, she was a little behind in the traditional "independence from my parents" sense. Between her fear of going anywhere where they may be, especially without me or her Papa with her, and my fear of it possibly happening again, we were a bit overprotective of her, but she didn't mind one bit.

The abduction happened just before Halloween, 2007; a little over a week before her 8th birthday. Since we live within the walk zone for the grade school, I either drove her (if I was headed straight to work) or we walked together. After, I would walk to the school, and we'd walk back together. The only exceptions were when she'd go to a friend's house or if I couldn't go get her (Ace would usually do it, then).

At the beginning of 5th grade, I was walking her to the corner, and watching her walk the rest of the way. School was a "safe zone" for her; her Principal & teachers made sure of that. Her SM was not allowed anywhere near Princess (by court-order) without her BD; BD wasn't allowed on school grounds unless (a) I was there, too (concerts, BTS Night, etc) and/or (2) Princess wasn't there (like for teacher conferences). By the end of the year, I stood at our driveway and watched 'til she got to the corner (usually meeting a friend), turned & waved at me, & off she went.

By 6th grade, she was walking the whole way herself. Of course, by this point, she also had a cell phone, and knew that if there was EVER a problem, she could call or text me. She also was under strict law to text when she got to school, and text when she was leaving school. There were a couple times that she "forgot", which freaked me out. For the most part, though, having the phone allowed her a bit more freedom to be out & about with her friends (at the school park, at the library & library park, at the swim center, friends' homes, etc).

This past summer, she's totally blossomed. When she goes to friends' houses, they walk to other places. For instance, she went to KeVi's house, and they walked to DQ. She & KeVi went swimming, and they went to get ice cream afterward. She goes to Lil's, and they walk to the library & park, etc. ALWAYS, she gets permission, & checks in periodically, but she is finally getting more comfortable going out & about with her friends (without a parental figure).

Now, she's cheering for the first time. Three of her friends (KeVi, and two from her grade school) are on the team with her. She's had two practices, and today is day two of Cheer Camp/Clinic. She has asked, politely, that I just drop her off and come back later to pick her up (don't worry; she still wants me to come to the games to watch her cheer then). While I'm a little bummed she no longer wants me there to watch, I am excited that she feels safe & comfortable enough to allow me to leave. Of course, I'm only a 3m drive away (we don't live far from where they practice)... just in case.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Have No Walls

But it was totally a blast removing them! I couldn't get as destructive as I wanted to, since 4" behind the long wall is my bedroom, and behind the vanity & toilet is all the piping for water both to the bathroom & to the kitchen (well, the fridge, anyway), as well as the electrical for the stove fan. Here are a couple of pics of the two walls that are now down to studs:

Next project - fan/light and vanity light installation!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Moving Right Along...

After deciding what type of flooring we wanted, we went into our local Floors With Flair! to choose exactly which vinyl floors we're putting into our bathroom. We happened to find one with almost the EXACT same look as the tile we loved. Here's the thing, though... FWF sells their flooring in 12 foot wide sections. One problem -- our bathroom, although measuring 10 1/2 ft by 5+ ft, lays the "wrong" direction. I want the tiles to lay "long" (the pattern we chose is a staggered, 12" X 24", look). So, we could have either ordered twice as much as we really need, or we could just order a 12' X 6' piece & have it lay in the "wrong" direction (for my sense of aesthetics).

During the discussion, Karen (the customer rep) left us alone for a few minutes. I was all set to just let it go; get the smaller piece and live with it the "wrong" way... I already had the cabinets, sink, toilet, etc I wanted. So, Karen came back, and Ace said, "We'll go with the bigger piece. She'll hate it if we do it the other way." He looked at me and said, "You know you will, and besides, we're already saving a ton by doing it this way instead of with the tile & the heating." Well, that's true. Plus, we can always offer up the other piece for sale on Ace's work site, if we don't find use for it in the garage.

We then went in back and talked to their installer. He answered Ace's questions about the old flooring, etc, then Karen went to write up our order. Since we can install this ourselves, the grand total for flooring & misc materials to lay it came to just over $500. Karen even marked down the price/sq ft because (1) we've shopped there before, (2) we've sent others there, and (3) Ace asked about a work-based discount (his company gets discounts all over this area). The best news so far: it was supposed to take a week to ten days to come in; they called us two days later. This is what we've chosen.

Aside from that, Ace & I finally figured out lighting: A fan/light unit, centered in the room, becomes our main lighting. I'm hoping Ace decides to do a double, sideways, rocker switch (the model of fan/light we chose has a regular light and a nightlight) at the bathroom entry. The unit itself has both a motion sensor (within 10ft - that's great) and a humidity sensor. No timer, no on/off switch... it's all automatic. AND, the best part, Ace can wire it himself. Now, the vanity will have its own light (this small one we found at IKEA), on a switch next to the vanity.

The linen closet & the over-toilet cabinet are gone... everything from all the cabinets are now in boxes. We are kid-free 'til either Sunday or Monday, but both of us work through Saturday, so it looks like we'll be picking up the flooring on Monday, and going from there.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What A Pain

I know you've noticed that there hasn't been a bathroom update since almost two months ago... but there's a good reason. We were first, recovering from sticker shock and second, trying to figure out where to scale back and what we can do ourselves. After A LOT of discussion (and some not-so-welcome "advice") we ordered the cabinetry, and took a break from everything else.

While stewing on the bathroom, I got my studio redone (see photos HERE -- certificates, photos, price list, etc are not up yet, though), and went on a mini-vaca with my mother & sisters (Portland to Seattle to Victoria BC to Vancouver BC). That was a LOT of travel in so few days, so when I returned, I mentioned to Ace that I thought a long weekend trip, just the two of us (perhaps for our 10th anniversary?) Portland-Seattle-Victoria-return would be fun... on the motorcycle.

I returned from my trip and focused on work (close to 40 hours this week), so I could catch up. But, two days ago, we finally sat down again and made a plan. Here's the thing -- just because we *can* (technically) afford $22,000 estimated in labor, alone, doesn't mean we're *going* to spend that much. Labor for a remodeled (as beautiful as it was going to be) 45 sq ft bathroom should NOT cost more than the WHOLE remodel of a 100 sq ft kitchen!

So, grumbling, we scrapped the majority of the original plan. I told Ace in the beginning that my absolute, must-haves, were cabinetry that matched the kitchen, my special-order faucet, round/push-button/soft-close toilet, and more lighting. We have in our possession: cabinetry that matches the kitchen, my special-order faucet, a round/push-button/soft-close toilet, a simple white vessel sink with hardware, a 30" round mirror, and a few other bits.

Yesterday, Princess & I emptied out all the cabinetry into boxes -- rarely used stuff on the bottom, every day stuff on the top. Then, after trying for 30m to maneuver the old linen closet out of the bathroom in one piece (impossible without removing the door & jamb), Ace got out the small sledgehammer. It's now laying in 8 or 10 pieces in my backyard. Pretty sure the old vanity won't need to be destroyed, though! :)

Today, we went on a flooring search. Originally, we chose a 12" X 24" slate. It was to be heated (of course), and also be used as the shower surround. The shower floor was to be a flattened river rock type (not painful for tender feet). Yes, we COULD do all of this ourselves, but the time involved to redo the majority of our own bathroom wouldn't be worth the money saved... we only have ONE bathroom! The choice is now a high-quality vinyl floor, in a 12" X 24" slate look. Super-easy to install, and no need for heat.

Next search is lighting. I *think* we'll do something small (6" version of what my daughters' overheads are, or a 4" recessed, or something else) in the bathroom entry area. We're DEFINITELY getting a combo fan/light unit (the current one is fan only, and loud!) and replacing the vanity lighting with something more modern. We are still undecided about a solar tube over the shower.

We decided against the full-shower idea, and decided that the tub will be refinished, and we'll probably buy enough tile & supplies to just redo the surround (no heat necessary there, either). That, of course, means glass doors... BUT, not your typical ones. Oh, no. We're still going to do the frameless one we chose before. Since we're keeping the tub, the frameless doors will just be smaller (and a little bit cheaper).

I have four days in a row off next week, during which Ace & I will get some of this work done. Photos will be posted as we move along, on my Facebook page. At the end, I will post another blog with "before" & "after" photos, as I did with the kitchen remodel.

RIP, Grandma

I received a text Monday morning from my older brother, and an email about 10m later from my father; my grandmother passed away that morning. She was 99 1/2 years old. Some of the things said about her (via email & FB messages) include:

"Aunt Doris was such a wonderful woman, wife, aunt, grandmother, nurse and for me from afar a model of living and aging well. Rest in peace Aunt Doris. Love to all, Liz" (my dad's cousin)

"So sorry for your loss, but so happy that your Grandmother's life was a long and good one. I would love to live to that age, as long as I was healthy and not alone." (friend of mine)

"Here's xxx for you. I, too want to live to be 100 as long as the quality of life is there." (friend of mine)

"As you said she lived a good long life , giving you all some wonderful memories." (friend of mine)

and, my favorite, my baby sister's lovely words: "My grandmother, Doris LeClair, died this morning at the age of ninety-nine. She was tuff and clever. She liked to drink sherry and she liked to play bridge. She was independent. She suffered losses and experienced difficult times: she survived, she flourished, and she made the best of the situation. She outlived her husband and her eldest son. She outlived nearly all of her contemporaries and she lived her long life with style. She did not bull shit and she did not coddle. She was a grandmother I could, and did, brag about. She was evolution in action--for ninety-nine years the world changed around her and she changed with it. She missed her love, my grandfather, since his death twenty-one years ago. Today she is with him."

I don't believe in an afterlife like Heaven or Hell, but the kindness of my friends, family, and professional cohorts reminds me that you give what you get out of life. We were never close, but everyone in our family knew she loved us.