James v. His Thesis

It’s been a few months, but I do want to get this out there: James’ thesis has finally been finished, approved, and published. Huzzah!

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It’s been a ridiculous saga that I won’t go into because it’s BORING.

Now he has three more classes before he graduates, and they are supposed to be offered this November, December, and January. I say should because they’ve been cancelled before and he’s been automatically dis-enrolled because he wasn’t taking a class (because, you know, he was getting through his thesis requirement!) and then re-enrolled, so until it actually happens, I’m waiting for another shoe to drop.

But, Huzzah! He’s almost there, which is awesome. Now we have to look toward a possible PhD, depending on his military career trajectory…

On another note, he worked with the 412 TW at Edwards AFB for this thing and has been in talks to possibly implement their findings -or at least present the idea to the leadership. Go real-world application! 🙂

Evie and Words

For anyone who knows us, words are a pretty big deal for this family, both reading and speaking. Our girl doesn’t talk yet -she makes sounds that we might like to believe are real words, but aren’t consistent enough to prove that they are -but she does understand quite a bit. I haven’t pinned down whether it’s individual words or phrases or both, but it’s pretty amazing to reach this milestone.

Water: She knows what water is and she knows when we want her to drink it.

Clean Up Time: This one is the newest one and probably my favorite. We have Clean Up Time every evening before we go upstairs for bath time; we say “clean up time!” and start putting her living room toys in her living room toy basket and her kitchen toys in her kitchen toy basket, and a week or two ago, she started helping us out when we started putting the toys away. And the other night, when we said “clean up time” she started to grab her toys, bring it over to the basket, and throw them in. Last night, she was over in her mess of living room toys and I said clean up time as I gathered her kitchen toys, and when I looked back over at her, she was waddling over with two stuffed animals in hand. I had to quickly go back to get her toy basket and bring it over to her to use.

Food/Eat: She’s known these for a while. I’ve started to say “breakfast” and “lunch” and “dinner” so I can delay the inevitable anger and impatience noises as she realizes that it’s Time To Eat but  it’s Not Right This Second.

Brush/Teeth/Hair: She hasn’t quite figured out the different meanings behind Brush, but she knows “teeth” and “hair”.

Unknown: There are times when she seems to understand other things we say, whether words or phrases, but they aren’t necessarily things we say consistently, but we still get a kick out of the idea that our child is a little genius (cue the eye roll) and understands what we say. I guess we’d rather feel like she just chooses to ignore us rather than doesn’t understand us, right? I mean, the former implies she’s precocious but willful, while the latter implies that she’s merely normal. :p

Evie’s Room and the Sunroom

I’m pretty proud of any changes/improvements we make upon this house. The Vegas house was brand new and really had no personality anyway, so I didn’t feel like we did much to it. This house, though, since it’s so old and so piecemeal, anything we do I feel brings new life and makes it look pretty different.

These rooms were the first we mostly got done; there are still a few things we want to do to them, but for the most part, they’re done; and, especially considering how it looked before we moved in, I think they look pretty good.

I didn’t take any before pictures until after we changed the carpet, but you can kind of see what the carpet looked like in this picture of the cubby (that needs repairing) in Evie’s room:

DSC01138Hm. Okay, it doesn’t look TOO different in these pictures, but believe me, it is.

Well, anyway, here’s one of the before pictures of Evie’s room:

DSC01137And here’s a few we took after, looking the same way.

DSC_0032DSC_0029We still want to paint the cubby, closet, and room doors, but for the most part, those are the only plans on that side of the room. Looking the other way, this is what we were dealing with:

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Once we painted the walls, ceiling, and trim, it looked like a completely different room (even after we changed just the carpet, everything looked CLEANER). The Charley Harper prints in the white frames were for her room to begin with, but the rest of the art were things we had in the Vegas house that now needed a home. At first I thought it would look too crowded, but I think I like it. I like that she’s surrounded by art that mean something to us, even if they’re silly, simple, and non-original. 🙂

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Most of the books on the shorter bookcase (which is one of the custom ones we got) are my old books, or even a couple of my mom’s, and perhaps a couple of my brother’s, and some are James’. My mom kept boxes upon boxes of our old books that we took to Vegas just before we moved and when we got to Boston and we got our bookshelves in, I finally got a chance to go through them. A lot are falling apart, and even more so now that Evie has gotten a hold of them, and they aren’t all favorites, but some have notes written in there to me from my grandparents or aunt Leah and I just couldn’t part with them. Others are books I remember loving as a kid and am hoping Evie will enjoy them, too. And others I scribbled in as a kid and I think that connection with me is kind of nice, too, for Evie to have.

DSC_0027Okay, so the only other thing in this room (and really, the whole house) is to change the light fixtures. I kind of hate all of these flush mounts, though this one is the only one that has the potential of just being cleaned and perhaps painted to survive the purge.

DSC_0035_CircledLightSo the sunroom had this ugly blue carpet that covered the hardwood and made opening the doors pretty difficult. (Well, I remember it to be sky blue -but it could be because the walls, as you can see below, are this sky blue.) Also, it was filthy. We understood why there was carpet once winter hit and the floors/room was freezing, but I think it’s worth it that we took it out and restained the wood. I was probably most excited about our plans for this room and it’s probably my favorite. Like all things, we still have some plans, but it’s pretty much done.

There were curtains up -you can see them on the floor -but they were kind of bleh and the rods were those cheapy, simple metal ones, and they didn’t span the wall, they spanned each window, so it looked even worse.

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Like Evie’s room, just painting everything made a huge difference. One of the first things we did was replace the fan/light fixture, which may suck in the summer since we don’t have air conditioning, but I love this fixture and I love this room, so I think I’ll hold on to that during moments of possible regret. 🙂

DSC_0038DSC_0036We bought the four Wedgewood plates (those blue things by the door) from a friend of my mom’s and they happen to be of important early moments of the American Revolution: the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, Battle of Concord, and Valley Forge. How awesome is that?

The other thing we want to do in this room is get a couple of sideboards or something to go against the walls (beneath the windows) on either side of that far door. We have a metal shelf in our kitchen right now that we love, but doesn’t quite fit in the space, so we need to move all the kitchen stuff currently on said metal shelf someplace and we’d like to put them in storage things in this room.

So another thing we did when we got here was replace our bookcases. The ones in Vegas, as previously mentioned, did not survive, and we found a place here that sells handmade, real wood bookcases.

DSC_0037The last real plan for this room is a gorgeous stained glass James’ mom made for him ages ago when he was a kid and she gave it to us when she visited us last April. Our plan is to hang it up in front of that window in the picture above once we get hooks attached.

 

UPDATE:

Ha -no. The sunroom did NOT have sky blue carpet. I found some pictures of the downstairs that our realtor took for us way back when and this is what it looked like from the previous owners:

DSC00720 DSC00718 DSC00719Those dark spots you see on the carpet are most likely NOT shadows or carpet that’s been rubbed the wrong way -it’s probably dirt, especially nearest the doors. Ick.

 

Captain Wentworth

Captain Wentworth, one of our cats, is sick. He’d been going outside of his litterbox for probably at least a month now and probably about three weeks ago we took him to our new vet to make sure it wasn’t something medical. After being told it was probably not a medical issue (or rather that the various medical issues were unlikely), the lady vet told us to separate him from Mouse, see how the medication he was given played out, and if he used the litterbox for poo and pee. And he seemed to do okay. He used the litterbox like the pro that he usually is and our instructions were that if he did, that’s great; if he didn’t, to call and we would bring him back. So of course, since he used the litterbox and seemed to be happier, we didn’t take him back to the vet. (We had an appointment a couple days later for a booster shot for Mouse and even after giving the vet an update on Wenty, there was no indication of worry or additional instructions.)

But he continued to pee outside of the litterbox. Well, not continued. There was a pause, but then it started up again. Since, because our knowledge is limited to what the vet tells us, we didn’t think it was medical, we thought it was behavioral, so we did pretty much everything suggested to do when a cat doesn’t use his litterbox for both peeing and pooing, outside of getting pheromones to spray in his outside-the-litterbox-areas and putting something down like aluminum foil to make the areas less attractive. But it didn’t stop, and yesterday he wouldn’t eat or drink or use the litterbox at all, and if he tried to go, he went wherever he was and he struggled to do so.

So we went to the vet today and saw a gentleman vet. And, to make it short, Wenty has bladder issues that may last his entire life and it was a good thing we got him to the vet today because it was life threatening.

So yay. Our cat has the potential of being on the mend, and we will probably be living the rest of our lives with a cat who has special needs and health issues that may flare up, but he’s such a joy and we adopted him for better or worse.

But I really hate when doctors, in this case, vets, do that judgy thing. Like we’re supposed to be cat whisperers and we’re supposed to know that he’s sick. Even though all indications from the lady vet were that it wasn’t something we needed to worry about. His only symptom up until yesterday was his being more anti-social than usual, but he’d been that way for so long -before we took him to the vet the first time -and there’s so many possible reasons for it, that it sucks we didn’t put more importance on it, but I’m not willing to shoulder all of the blame considering the aforementioned check up. The judgy thing is when a gentleman vet, when talking about the possibilities of what could happen tells us that we’ll need to give him wet food and mix it with water because we need to hydrate him as much as possible, and I ask “for how long?” like i would for any prescription, and he responds with “for the rest of his life” in a voice and a look that tells me he sees me/us as, not concerned owners, but as people only looking at the bottom line.

This is really a vent of my frustration with the vets, who seem like they’re really knowledgeable and care about our cats (they better, we’re going to a vet practice that only takes cats), but really don’t do well with the non-judgy. In the human world, I feel like these would be the people who would call social services if one’s child happened to have a bruise when he or she walked in for a check up. Or at least the equivalent of the type of people who equate non-exclusive breastfeeding as abuse. It’s also a vent of my frustration because of the aforementioned visit with the lady vet, who gave off the impression that I was being silly for worrying and asking all these questions and for not KNOWING exactly what was going on with my cat. And now Wenty has had to have emergency care and we got to him “just in time.”

Grr.

Evie in General

I can’t believe she’s already over a year! I feel like she’s changing faster now than she did in her first 12 months. It’s not true, and it’s really only because there are now physical Events. Like responding when we talk to her in a way that seems intentional, or standing up unassisted, or -GASP! -taking her first steps. It’s all very exciting, these particular milestones.

Maybe I’m blind to any of the negatives of her personality, but I really think she’s a positive, happy baby. She’s rarely unhappy for reasons outside of being very tired or very hungry -and wouldn’t we all be? -and when she sees people, she likes to smile at them, and she likes to do things that make Mommy and Daddy smile or laugh. And maybe I’m biased when it comes to other people’s comments about her, but I’m not the only one who has noticed how pleasant she is. Don’t get me wrong, she’s slowly inching her way toward that toddler independence and has started getting angry when things don’t quite go her way, but those moments are still relatively rare -hopefully we can keep it that way.

As I rolled past previously, our girl is walking! I mean, she still walks like a drunk Frat boy, but it’s still incredibly awesome. Right now it’s just a couple of steps at a time, and only from one couch to the other or to try to get “her”* phone, but I’ll take it. Part of me totally doesn’t want this to happen -I know we’ll be in for it when she can move about even better -but one must still embrace the inevitable.

She’s also started to give real hugs; not that her previous ones were fake, but these are intentional, wrap her arms around you, hold on tightly hugs. For example, she used to crawl toward us if we were in separate areas and hold onto our legs in a request/demand to be picked up. Now she’ll crawl over to us and hold our legs just to hug us, then crawl to whatever she was on her way to doing, like we were just a pit stop along the way to her next adventure. She also will lean from Mommy to Daddy (or vice versa) when she’s in her high chair, just to give us a hug while she’s eating, then go back to stuffing her face. She gives kisses, too, but they’re still closer to dog kisses than human at this point. And sometimes what seems like will be a kiss, turns out to be a zerbert -we’re not sure if this is intentional or not.

Another thing she’s been doing is helping us dress or undress her. She knows when she sees her shirts, that her arms go up and through the holes, or she lifts her arms so we can pull her shirts off of her. She even knows to switch whatever toy or book that’s probably in her hand to the one not going through the sleeve. And sometimes she’ll help out with her pants or socks. Those aren’t as common, but when she does decide to cooperate, she’ll lift her foot to let me put a sock on or to wiggler her into her pants.

 

*Her phone is my old Droid that we charged and then gave to her so she would stop playing with ours. She’s already broken James’ -he has to use a bluetooth to be able to talk to anyone -and I shudder to think of what she’s probably done with mine that I haven’t even noticed (turning on or off various location/battery/app settings).  When I say “stop playing with ours,” that’s really a pipe dream. Ours are way more fun, especially since she can unlock them ever so much easier.

Likes and Dislikes, 2

Evie Aime:
*Putting a dish cloth or blanket over her head, and then crawling around. She’ll bump into things and keep going, completely unfazed.
IMG_20150203_195642452*Climbing into a basket -whether for laundry or storage -and then playing with her toys inside. What she’s really doing, though, is waiting for one of us to push her around or lift her up and take her flying. Our girl is ready for amusement parks.

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*The kitties. She’s come a long ways from completely ignoring them, to attacking them, to learning what it is to pet them gently and even to hug and kiss them. She still lapses, but more often than not, she’s very gentle with them now and Mouse, at least, is starting to trust her. Captain, not so much.

*The vacuum; she’ll follow me around while I vacuum, holding onto the mechanism and “catching” the air with her open mouth.
IMG_20150205_084222101Evie n’Aime pas:
*Doing anything she’s not ready to do or that isn’t her idea. This is a basic human thing and our girl is no different. Ready to go from Mommy to Daddy? Not yet. Give me my phone back -no! Take that piece of plastic out of your mouth! -how dare you take it from me! But once she’s had her last hug or her last suck or her last play: okey dokey, here you go.

For Want of a Shower

During the first couple of weeks of our bathroom renovation, Evie and I went to California to stay with my mom and visit family and friends. This means that we missed Snowpocolype/Snowmageddon (e.g., Blizzard Juno), but James didn’t and he sent us pictures and kept us updated. Wowzers! I wish we’d been there just to experience it -we might as well get used to it -but I also liked the 60 to 70 degree weather.

This also means that we essentially flew across the country to take a shower. And you know, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was. The flight, I mean. I think it helps that we had a late one so Evie, though squirmy, was still inclined toward sleep. And even the one back, which was a 1pm PST, wasn’t too bad. It’s still a stressful situation, but not nearly as bad as I feared. See, she was able to entertain herself by doing things like grasp our food bag from Panera, fling it about so the apple falls out, and then eventually squirm her way to the floor to then find the apple and start eating it with the four real teeth she has that all happen to be in the front. Perfect!

IMG_20150130_161220874Also while we were there, I got a knitting lesson from a friend of my mom’s, Jean. It’s a lot to remember, which is interesting. One has to keep in mind the pattern, the number of stitches, the type of stitch -and it’s fun. But also frustrating. It’s one of those things of which I wish I had started years ago so that I would already be on to useful things like scarves or even sweaters. But I’m still on attempt-turned-cat-toy. So the cats are happy.

We were also able to borrow a portable crib from Jean (who has grandkids) and instead of sleeping with me the whole time, Evie had her own bed, which made it much easier for me to stay up late or get up earlier than her. But sometimes, she just couldn’t put herself back to sleep and had to come into bed with Mama, and then when Mama would wake up and walk about in the morning, her eyes would pop open and sometimes she’d get up with me, and other times she would lay there, tracking me, like this:

IMG_20150128_083004491When we got back, we were still out of a shower, in part because of poor planning, but also because of the two storms we’ve had. The storms have also caused the Base to close both while the storm is raging on  and just afterward (one assumes it’s for mass snow removal), eliminating the option of going to the gym to shower. Cold sponge baths it is.

The Reno, Phase 1

So, as mentioned, we’ve been renovating our kitchen and half bath (phase 2 is the full bath). The rest of the house is just cosmetic, but the aforementioned needed work. Phase 1 has finally finished and I have to say, renos are kind of ridiculous. I mean, all the guys were really nice and hard working and good at what they do (at least, to my inexperienced eye), but it just seems like there was a planning fail during the whole thing -which is probably true to most renos. Ours was pretty straight forward; we weren’t changing or doing anything major, and we didn’t start until all the parts were in so there was no delay on that end. And while there were some days of no work that i could understand (the counter top couldn’t be templated until after the cabinets were installed, and the tile and plumbing couldn’t be done/finished until after the counter top was installed), there were quite a few days where nothing happened and there was no reason except for, what I attribute to, planning failure.  They said 6 weeks and it took 6 weeks. Even though it seems like it could have taken 4.5 to 5 weeks.

Anyway. It really wasn’t an awful experience and there were no unexpected and costly surprises, etc.  And i feel like, once i got a little more involved (i.e., “so the cabinetry stuff will be finished today, then the plumber will be here tomorrow, and the tile guy will be here the next two days, so we should be able to get the electrician in sometime this week, right?” foreman: “oh, yeah, yeah, definitely.”), things seemed to move a little faster. (I know it doesn’t seem like it from that single example, but my experience had been that the electrician would probably have actually come the next week. It all just seemed like nothing was scheduled until the day or so before, even if it was pretty clear that there was no need for time cushions.) I now know, for phase 2, to push things a little and try to put a plan in the minds of the contractors, instead of trusting completely that they know what they’re doing (which they do, just in a laissez-faire sort of way).

The Kitchen

There are still a few things we have left that we want to do -more possible decor/efficiency of space things that I’m incapable of doing until everything is cleared out (right now a lot of the full bath materials are in the only area of the house there is to use: the space by the stairs), so there are are no “after” pictures yet, but here are some before just to get these off my plate and build anticipation. These are even before we moved in, so if anyone can remember our previous kitchen and our love of cooking, this space is a little awful. Also, we had a counter top microwave, so subtract some of the working space. You also can’t tell from these pictures that this was before we had the house cleaned/scoured. It was awful -dead bugs everywhere, general grunge, etc.

DSC01110DSC01111DSC01117The Half Bath

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Our Year: a short story

What a year! Obviously our most major event was Evie (though, technically that was the year previous); another was our move to MA. Evie and her role in our lives are constantly changing but we are slowly settling into MA. We are still in the midst of the renovation of our house -both large and small -but the end is near. Or nearer. The end is in sight. Sort of.

Some things I’ve learned while renovating our house:
1) Paint: Maybe it’s our walls, but we used Behr paint for most of them and I’m not impressed. Especially the white. So maybe it’s also the color. We used Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint in Vegas and we loved it… but it’s twice as much as the Behr. And Behr got top marks from Consumer Reports so i was like, sure! No. Low smell? Sure, i guess but it lingers a lot longer than Aura. Coverage? Not as good. Again, especially the white. When I have to go over the same spot five times and it still looks like i went over the same spot FIVE TIMES -no good. Well, it would be fine if that was my only experience with paint and that’s what I thought was supposed to happen. It’d be “well, that’s frustrating, but i guess that’s what happens.” But I’ve used Aura, and so i know that that doesn’t have to happen. Again. Perhaps this happens with all paint and it’s the worst with white, but i’ve not experienced this with Aura. We finally got one of our colors in the Benjamin Moore and used it and it was great. It was a light color and it covered this nasty greenish “accent” wall in one coat. The Behr couldn’t do that. Also, Behr Satin turned to Flat on our walls. And this could be, somehow, related to our walls, because the Aura Eggshell turned to nearly Flat on our walls, too. So i can’t completely be irritated about that. But there it is. My treatise on paint and my frustrations with getting crappy ones.
2) Keeping track of everything is a full time job. I’m not even talking about what a general contractor would do; i’m just talking about keeping track as a consumer and making sure that work is progressing and materials ordered are what we want, etc. And we’ve only done/are doing the kitchen and bathrooms. I can’t even imagine renovating our entire house. And what we are doing in the kitchen and bathrooms isn’t even a full out reno; we aren’t doing anything totally major like moving walls or plumbing. The thought of doing something major is mind boggling. Hats off to those who do.

Regardless, it’s been a hard but good year. We haven’t lost sight of the fact that there’s so much for which we have to be grateful, but we’ve definitely been in some new situations from which we’re trying to learn. Hopefully the lessons stick. :o)

Birthday!

Our little girl turned ONE!

DSC_0201We spent the day running errands; it was a sunny but cold day, and we went off to New Hampshire to make a Sam’s Club run, then to the Asian market and Trader Joe’s. Yes, that’s right. We spent the day like any other. When we got home, I made cupcakes and Macaroni and Cheese and we took Evie’s picture in her birthday dress, and then we dug in.

Before:

DSC_0227  After:DSC_0245She liked both the pasta and the cupcakes and she enjoyed opening her presents.

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DSC_0221And then she went to bed. It was a nice, quiet day and she was thrilled to spend her day with us and was excited by this newfangled idea of CUPCAKES and PAPER SHE CAN DESTROY.

DSC_0220Next year (or rather, this year) perhaps we’ll have a party. Or maybe the year after, when she’ll be old enough to MAYBE have some memories of the thing, and there isn’t such a small window of time where she’ll be able to enjoy it before she’s too hungry or too tired or too overwhelmed. It was nice, though, to settle into the idea that our baby was already one. This past year went by so slow but so fast, and we all needed time to adjust to that.