Monday, January 28, 2013


A few weekends ago, T and his family were down for an event. My mother had asked prior to their visit if she could have his girls (ages 2 1/2 and 5) while they were at a hotel for their event. Then, she arranged with Princess and me to take Firefly (the 2 1/2yo) on Saturday so she could take Bug (the 5yo) skiing.

Princess then decided to ask her friend, L, to join her. So, Princess went to L's after school Friday, helped her pack a bag (Princess' was already packed & in my car), and I took them both to the MAX station, where my mother was waiting for them. They went back to mom's, and stayed overnight.

Mom & Bug left kinda early, so while I was working just a few blocks away, Princess & L got Firefly dressed & fed. I picked them up (with a borrowed carseat; thank you, Kim!) when I finished at work. Firefly's first sentence to me? "Hi, Auntie! Are we going to your house?"

In the car, she asked if the carseat used to be her sister's, and I said, "No, honey; I borrowed it from a lady who used to babysit M******* when she was your age." Firefly said, "Oh. That was nice of her. I like your car, Auntie." "Thank you, sweetie." I then asked if they were hungry, seeing as it was about 1230p. Firefly said, "I would like a *hanna burger* please. With cheese." I said, "You want a hamburger with cheese. Ok." Wendy's it was, since we no longer eat BK or McD.

At this point, I realized that we forgot to grab Firefly's bag, and although she uses the potty more often than not, I wanted to make sure we had extra pullups, just in case. We needed a couple other things, anyway, so off to Fred Meyer we went. She asked me to carry her, and as we were crossing the parking lot, she hugs my neck really tight and said, "I love you, Auntie D***." "I love you too, sweetheart!"

As I'm putting Firefly into the cart seat, she said, "Auntie D***, can I go on the horse when we're done shopping?" I said she could, but then we needed to get home. She asked why, and I told her, "Because we'll need to let the doggies out to go potty." She said, "Is Uncle D**** at work?" I said yes, so she said, "Ok. Let's shop!"

We ended up getting Princess a winter jacket for next season on serious discount, plus a few groceries, plus the special pullups Firefly uses. As promised, I let her ride on the horse, but only one time. She got a little pouty, and said she wanted to ride again. I reminded her we had to get home to let the doggies out, and she said, "Ok... thank you."

Back at my house, we spent the afternoon: dancing (as she's running in circles on my rug, she said, "I like your house!" & "I like running!"... she also turned up the volume on my tuner; I had the *Toddler Tunes* channel on), "helping" Princess with her science project, drawing me a picture, "helping" Princess clean her room (she told Princess, "This room is messy; clean it up!" lol), had a snack, and we went to the grade school around the corner to play. It was so cold, though, that we were only there for 20 minutes or so.

On our way back to my house, she told me her ears were cold. She had a knit cap on, so since I was carrying her, I said, "Turn your head" and blew warm air onto her ear. I then told her, "Other side" and blew warm air onto her other ear. She said, "Thank you, Auntie D***, that's much better."

At that point, it was time to go. I had gotten a text from mom that she & Bug were on their way back, so I needed to get Firefly back over there. We loaded everyone up, took L home, and drove back into Portland. Firefly said, "Auntie D***, I had a good time today. Thank you." "You're welcome, honey; I did too!"

Bug was in the bath when we got there, and Firefly decided she wanted one, too. Since Bug was done, she got out, and Firefly got in. We said goodbye to both of them and went out to the living room... Mom had planned to feed us, but although Princess had remembered to turn on the crockpot, she had not checked to make sure it was plugged in... so mom didn't have chili for us for dinner. No problem; she loaded me up with a large container of it (cold), so I took it home to heat up & eat.

We found out later than Firefly was upset at us because "they didn't give me goodbye hugs & kisses!" even though she was in the bathtub when we left. LOL. I love that kid.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Bathroom Remodel... revamp

After taking a break from the madness that is the holiday season, we went back to Angie's List, determined to find a contractor with good ratings who had the time & want to take on some of the finish work for our bathroom remodel. We found one; his name is Ron. He does a LOT of small construction jobs, has done many bathrooms (& kitchens, for that matter), and is currently booking "about two weeks out". Perfect.
Last week, Tuesday, we had him at the house to give us a bid. All we really need him for is: finish drywall, tape, mud, & spray texture (we'll paint), frame out for one of the grab bars (we already did it for the other one), lay tile/grout in the pattern Ace & I came up with (which we changed over this past weekend, so it may be a bit more than originally quoted, but that's okay), install both grab bars, and lay the flooring. We'll provide all materials except the drywall tape/mud/texture. He emailed his bid to us yesterday morning, and Ace is supposed to send him our pattern change for an updated bid on that.
We already have a plumber, who will return to finish when we're ready, and we picked out our counter top (from Precision), but that can't be ordered until the vanity is installed. So the only other things we need to do are: contact Home Depot to schedule their kitchen/bath company (the same ones we used for our kitchen remodel) to install the four cabinets, and (the very last thing, when every other part of the bathroom is done, I think) figure out who/how we're doing the frameless glass shower door(s?).
Oh, and actually sign a contract/hire Ron!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Holiday Fun

This was the first year we didn't have scheduled time with Ace's kids, so this was also the first year he didn't take time off during either Thanksgiving or Santamas/New Year weeks (btw -- grammar lesson: it's "NEW YEAR" not "NEW YEARS"; there's only one new year... unless you're talking about your celebration, then you can put that fun apostrophe in there before the "S").

Our holiday season started mid-November. We decided that there was no reason for Ace to take Thanksgiving day off (in fact, with a bonus to his paycheck, there was every reason *for* him to work it), and started planning a Thanksgiving dinner for the Tuesday prior. We made sure his kids could make it (Squeaks had the whole week off school, and GamerBoy had finals through Wednesday), planned & bought the food, and started preparing Sunday. We also decided it was time for a full break from the bathroom remodel.

The kids were great; GB has really grown up in the last year. Dinner discussion revolved mostly around the older two's school plans. GB is almost done with community college & is thinking of attending either Oregon State or PSU next fall. Squeaks is still debating; she had some confusion over what's required for her career choices, but GB is trying to convince her to do CC first.

Friday was my mom's annual "Day After Feast"; started for those who had other family obligations on Thanksgiving, but also includes those who work or are "orphans", and anyone else who wants to come, eat, & visit. There are usually between 10 & 15 people; we all pitch in. This year, I made a large batch of fudge (which my brothers mostly devoured), the green bean casserole, and the mashed potatoes. Squeaks actually made it down, too!

That Saturday, Princess went with T&D, their girls, and Mimi for Santa photos while I worked & then watched the Civil War game. The following week, hair appointments for both Princess & I were scheduled. She decided it was time to go more "natural-ish", and chose a combination of reds (and looks even more like me, now). These two months had quite a few birthday parties & volunteer work, as well!

Mid-December, we all had a baking day (& a half, honestly); Princess & I made peanut butter cookies, fudge, & 6-layer bars (not 7; I don't put walnuts in). Princess & Ace made chocolate crackles, M&M cookies, and applesauce mini muffins (traditionally a cookie recipe, it's cake-like enough that they put the batter into our mini muffin tins; they turned out perfectly!). Princess & I put everything in multiple tins, and Monday night (the 17th), she put on her reindeer ears, and we went delivering! We never warn those who are getting a tin ahead of time; sometimes they're home & surprised, sometimes they're not home & surprised by the tin left on their porch.

The second half of December, my work weeks got super-full... I usually work about 15-20 hours per week, but over the holidays, it's between 30-40. That means even baking days and my & the family's nail redos have to be scheduled (usually on Sundays). I also scheduled shopping, and wrapping, days. Speaking of wrapping, I decided to have a "wrapping party" next year. Quite a few local friends hate wrapping, and I thought if I had a party (with refreshements), they would hate it a little less.

The Thursday prior to Santamas, Princess & I went to my mother's so we could exchange gifts before she went to California to visit my sisters, etc. Mom always makes us all a family calendar, with everyone's birthdays & anniversaries on it; very handy. I actually use the same site to do one for my studio -- using photos of some of my work -- but I only have my immediate family's birthdays, plus Ace's & my anniversary.

In years past, I have bought gifts for a few select friends, donated time/money/stuff to many charities, etc... but this year, I wanted to adopt a family. Since we are not religious, church-going people, I didn't want to do it through a church. Instead, I chose a family I have a personal connection to. I bought some things I knew that the mom would love (including candles, a pedi appt with me, & a color/cut appt with my salon's owner), gave them all treats, and gave gift cards for a few different places. I delivered all of these goodies (along with some things one of my clients, and my BFF too, had donated) the Friday prior to Santamas.

Ace & I had invited the kids, as well as his sister & BIL, to celebrate that Monday evening. Everyone showed up around 4p, which was perfect, as we had planned a 5p-ish dinner, followed by gifts & dessert. I had warned the kids that we weren't giving them nearly as much as we had in previous years because of the family I adopted. Besides, they don't need much these days. One surprise -- GB actually bought gifts for everyone, without any reminders. Pretty nice for a broke college kid! Anyway, we had a nice dinner, and a good visit; everyone left by 830p.

Santamas morning, the mini-fam (Ace, Princess, & me) opened our gifts to/from each other, as well as our stockings. We had a stay-at-home movie-day; watching "A Christmas Story", "ELF", and "Miracle On 34th Street" (the original, of course), interrupted by food & card game breaks. Wednesday, we went to see "The Hobbit". It's been a couple years since Ace & I had been to a movie at the theater together, so it was nice to be able to do that. Princess mostly enjoyed it, but said it was "way too long" - I agree!

Last Saturday night, I delivered Princess to her "adopted other family", and Sunday morning, they left for southern Oregon. She'll return sometime on Thursday. This left Ace & I alone (which we hadn't had over the holidays in 5 years, since her bio doesn't get time with her anymore) for five full days. Of course, two of those, we're both working. Regardless, NYE was a quiet night at home; safely off the streets.

We woke up later than usual (of course, after going to bed after midnight), and have been enjoying a quiet jammie day. I have a small to-do list to take care of around the house, and another for my studio space, but all in all, we are taking it easy the rest of the week. Next week, we get back to work on the bathroom remodel, starting with finishing putting up drywall!