I’m calling it

Hazel continues to grow up at an astonishing rate. Since we moved, she has outgrown bed rails, her high chair, and diapers.

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AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING.

When we moved, the prospect of laundering cloth diapers with only intermittent power was daunting, so I decided to go ahead and potty train Hazel. It was fine – like all other potty training experiences, it was occasionally gross and got better over time. I don’t think anyone needs a play-by-play.

The most important lesson I had to impart to Hazel was that it is VERBOTEN to wipe yourself and then use the same toilet paper to blow your nose.

Gross.

I didn’t start this post to talk about potty training, per se. I set out to talk about cloth diapering – specifically, how I feel about it now that it’s over.

Cloth diapering was one of our best decisions, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I mean, yes, there were days when I just did not feel like washing the same d@mn diapers for what felt like the millionth time. But the cost savings and environmental impact were worth it.  We had several brands in our arsenal, but our clear favorite was Charlie Banana. Unlike FuzziBuns and BumGenius, the Charlie Banana inserts load from the front. That means that if your baby has pooped, and the poop has migrated up her back, you don’t have to touch it to get your insert out of the diaper. It seems like a small thing, but in parenting, the small things matter. These diapers also seemed to work better on Hazel after she became mobile.

Like everything else in modern life, the internet can be a valuable resource in the world of cloth diapering – but it can also be a land of treachery and deceit. Many people made cloth diapering out to be a lot more complicated and snowflake-special than it needed to be. For example, I never stripped my diapers with bleach. I also never used special, expensive cloth diaper detergent. I followed the care label on the diaper (how novel!). I used regular powdered Tide and dried them in the sunshine when I could.

So, now that Hazel is all grown up, I am in possession of a ton of cloth diapers and cloth diapering accessories and am looking for a buyer. I have at least 30 diapers (mixed brands) with inserts, a diaper pail with two large wet bags, diaper liners for older babies, and everything else you need to cloth diaper a baby for two years and three months.

If you know someone who is interested in trying cloth diapers, please put them in contact with me. I would love to help!

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Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

“Lions and Tigers and Bears” sounds a lot better than “Rodents and Web Worms and Ants,” but the latter is what we’re actually dealing with over here. Gross.

During our long exile in the guest house, I noticed mouse poop every time I’d visit the big house. I secretly hoped that Bonus Cat (a black cat who came with the house and dwells in the crawl space) would help keep the rodent problem at bay, but alas. The mice continued to cavort all over our belongings, leaving a trail of misery and poop pellets in their wake.

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We selected a company called Black Thumb to eradicate the rodent menace, because Black Thumb is a terrific name for an extermination company. They have trapped four mice so far – two in the house, two under the house. We have not seen any sign of rodent activity in almost a week.

Once we got that problem under control, it was time for something else to fall apart. Our favorite contractor came out to begin wood rot repairs, and discovered a colony of carpenter ants in our siding.

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BAAAAAH.

That ended up being a relatively easy problem to treat, as I just called our regular pest control company and they came out the next day to spray at no additional charge. When does that ever happen?

So, two problems down. I was feeling pretty competent, until the yard guy (who, like Bonus Cat, came with the house) pointed out a crop-circle-like spot in the grass.

Bad things come in threes, remember? Not twos.

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Probably sod webworms. Greeeeeaaat.

The pest control company doesn’t treat grass, so we’ll have to tackle this one ourselves. Wish us luck.

Finally, an update! Thanks to everyone who voted in my Friday Lighting Poll. The Farmer squeaked out a win, so three of ’em are headed this way.

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A Friday Poll

I have a lighting question.

Here is our kitchen. Please note the large, beautiful windows.


We asked the electricians to add pendant light boxes over each window, because I like my kitchens as bright as an operating room.

I’ve narrowed my pendant choices down to two.

Option 1: The Farmer


This fixture is 10″ wide.

Pros: Makes a statement, fits the farmhouse feel of the house.

Cons: Blocks more of the natural window light.

Option 2: The Hipster


This fixture is 6.5″ wide.

Pros: Interesting shape, refined lines, smaller pendant doesn’t block the windows.

Cons: Clear shade means light is not only directed downward, small pendant may not make much impact.

So, what do you think?

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Wait, what?

Yes, this post will include a house update. BUT FIRST!

Earlier this week I stopped by my friend’s house. Her daughter and Tyler are 12 days apart and, for the first time this year, have classes together at the middle school. I walked in the door and my friend says, “Brenna, YOU TELL WINDY WHAT YOU JUST TOLD ME ABOUT TYLER.”

Oh, Lord, I thought, he’s dealing drugs at school.

“Well,” the eighth grader began, “Tyler is… like…. kind of…

WHAT?? JUST TELL ME!

….popular.”

(stunned silence)

“Wait, what?” I could not believe my ears. “Tyler? Our Tyler?”

“Yeah, I know, right?”

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So that was weird.

OK, now we can talk about the house.

The plumbers have done their work, with a couple of exceptions. They still need to re-rough the drain lines under the kitchen sink (SEXY) and the City of Tallahassee needs to turn on our natural gas (GASSY).

The electricians have contented themselves with punching an alarming number of holes in our walls and ceilings.

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Really? Was every single one of those necessary?

There have been a series of minor crises. In my head, the severity of a problem corresponds to the number of digits in the price to fix said problem. So, we’ve had a four-digit mouse problem, a three-digit HVAC problem, and a three-digit van AC problem…. in the last week.

We’re also remembering – slowly – why we bought this house in the first place. We’re finally seeing through the veil of repairs to the house itself. The porch is an amazing place to sit, whether it’s first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, or last thing at night with a glass of wine. The bedrooms are taking shape, and the kids have spent a couple of nights in “the big house.” I have not – my rule is that my coffee maker and I must sleep under the same roof. Also, the mouse problem brings with it a flea problem, which no.

It appears that we’ve inherited a cat along with a landscaper. We call him (her?) Bonus Cat. It’s all black, and it loves to lurk in the crawl space and scare plumbers and electricians.

I believe the electricians will be done, or substantially done, by the end of next week. Fingers crossed, people!

 

 

 

 

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You Are Here.

We are now closing out our third week of home ownership, and we are still living in the apartment. The electricians have not been here since Tuesday. Jason called the company on Thursday and gave them a sample of Extra Spicy Taylor. Bottom line – they won’t be working any faster, and they’ll need another 2-3 weeks to finish.

A few people have asked why the rewiring process necessitates us being out of the house.

Lemme ‘splain.

The first thing they did was remove every outlet, every light switch, and every light fixture in the house. So even if the power was running to, say, the kitchen, there are no light fixtures to turn on, no switches with which to turn them on, and no outlets for things like coffee makers.  On top of that, all the furniture must be kept away from the walls so that the electricians can access them.

We have this. Everywhere.

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Upstairs, the new wiring has been roughed in – which means that instead of what you see above, there are gray plastic boxes in the holes:

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The once and future light switch, folks.

They are juuuuust starting work on the downstairs. In the foyer, for example, we’ve gone from this:

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To this. The hole above is on the right below:

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Part of my frustration is that I have absolutely no idea what a reasonable time for rewiring should be. We were not on-site for the rewiring at our previous house, and I don’t remember how much time it took. Additionally, all I can see is the wires poking out from the walls – there’s a whole network behind the walls, in the attic, and under the floors that I CAN’T see. And they had to go in and replace all of that, as well.

Still.

I get upset when I think about school starting and the kids having to sleep on air mattresses in the guest house. I get upset when I have to plan meals carefully, because we have a small refrigerator and small storage space. WILL I EVER GO TO COSTCO AGAIN???

Mostly I get upset when I go to the big house and see our forlorn piles of boxes, which we will STILL have to unpack when they’re done. I would love to go ahead and paint over there, but the crew is not done putting holes in the walls.

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This is our living room, plus all the porch fans. Classy.

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My big, beautiful, light-filled kitchen, which looks like something out of Hoarders.

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And Hazel’s room, now with 150% more holes in the walls.

It will be okay.

I keep telling myself that. Relatively soon, all this will be over. Relatively soon, we’ll be living in our house with new, safe wiring. Relatively soon, we will be able to laugh about this.

Soon, but probably not today.

 

 

 

 

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Home Depot, Take All My Dollars

We’ve now owned our new home for two whole weeks, and a lot has happened in that brief time.

The electricians started their work. Originally, they estimated it would take them a week to re-wire the house. Now they’re thinking it will take three weeks.

Needless to say, this is disappointing news. I’d planned to live in the apartment for a week, maybe two. But now I feel like we’ll be over here for months, making trips to “the big house” for clean clothes and pantry staples.

Other than that, things have been moving right along. The roofers showed up last Monday and replaced the roof on the big house, the guest house, and the carport in four days. They would have been done sooner but it rained every afternoon at 3:30 on the dot. Hello, Florida.

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The plumbers were supposed to start last Thursday, but about half an hour into the job, one of them developed chest pains and needed to go to the hospital. We decided to just try again this week.

The plumbers are installing gas lines throughout the house (kitchen, tankless water heater, GAS LAMPS, etc.) and also re-doing all the incoming water lines. Over the years, the lines have been cut and poorly repaired, or re-routed in strange configurations, so it just made sense to start fresh.

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We’ve made peace with our longer-than-expected stay in the guest house, and have taken measures to make it feel more like home for the time we’re over here. We fixed that pesky toilet issue and painted the living room. Jason switched out the old three-prong dryer outlet in the shed for a four-prong, so now we can plug in our appliances and wash our own clothes. AMAZING.

As with any new house, there are 9,000 things that need immediate attention. A friend remarked today that a large part of moving is just triage. Thankfully, we have both Ace Hardware and Home Depot to help us out. I’m at one store or the other on a daily basis, making it rain like it’s my job.

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Adventure is Out There

So we moved.

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Allow me to introduce you to the R. A. Gray house. Mr. Gray was the longest-serving Secretary of State in Florida history, and he had this house built across the street from the Governor’s mansion in 1928. It was sold after his death and, in 1960, was moved to its present location on the northeast side of town.

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Looks great, right?

LIES.

We were initially outbid on this house, but the winning bidder ran for the hills after they got the inspection back. Every major system in the house needed to be updated – wiring, plumbing, roof, HVAC, foundation.

But on the other hand, the house had beautiful hardwoods, a grand foyer, cut-glass doorknobs, high ceilings, and character.

The house haunted me. We could save this house. We could make it amazing. We can fix this.

Jason, bless him, saw the fevered look in my eyes and agreed to embark on this adventure with me. So we submitted a much lower offer, sold our perfectly adequate, in-good-working-order house, and bought this fixer upper. Then we lit a pile of money on fire in the front yard.

The day after the closing, the electrician got to work. The house had a grand total of zero three-prong outlets, which meant that plugging in anything more powerful than a travel hair dryer was risky. Additionally, the breaker panel was located on the exterior of the house, which just seems like a terrible idea. The wiring they pulled out of our walls looked like it belonged to a nineteenth century electric chair.

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But soon we will have an indoor breaker box, and it’s SHINY.

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We will also have some drywall to patch.

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Because the power has been off in the big house, we’ve been living in the guest house, which was not built in 1928 and which we thought was in good shape.

MORE LIES.

The sink leaked, the bedroom fan didn’t work, and yesterday water began bubbling up here:

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There are many places where water is acceptable in a bathroom, but the base of the toilet is not one of them. Jason took the toilet up, which revealed a previously-broken flange and a poorly-done repair. This was beyond our capacity, tool-wise and knowledge-wise, so we’re calling in professionals.

That sums up our first week of home ownership.

SERENITY NOW!

 

 

 

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