So much has been happening.
I keep meaning to update, and then I think I should wait until everything is over, until things have settled down, until each project or adventure is finished, but it never ends. So here I am. Writing anyway. Midway through.
First of all. FIRST OF ALL. My car is fine. Well, not fine– it took a new battery, and I’ll have to get all the fluids replaced and oil changed (apparently I read my sticker wrong as to when you change the oil, and if you’re like, HOW: basically I checked the mileage– which I hadn’t hit yet– and not the date– which was two months ago). It’ll probably only be a hundred total to get everything done. Battery was half-price because we were repeat customers and brought the dead one in. Warranty expired four months ago. Of course.
But my car is working, and Jason wants to wait on the bumper replacement for the Infiniti because it’s a lease, and he figures we’ll have to fix everything before handing it in anyway. No use replacing a bumper less than a year into a three-year loan. Who knows what I’ll run into next: that was the hidden meaning there.
Between the cars, my state refund coming in FORTY DAYS ahead of schedule (woot), and some reassuring changes on the job front, I’m feeling a lot better. The frustrating thing about having a public diary like this is not being able to share all the background of a story or a reaction like you would in person. Like, there have been times on here when HUGE things were going down– someone got fired, someone cheated on their spouse, someone got diagnosed with a terminal illness, someone actually lost custody of their children– and I’m not allowed to SAY ANYTHING, so it seems like– like so much of my life is out of context. I think you read a lot of posts in a row and it goes so violently back and forth in emotions, and if you’re ever wondering why it doesn’t make sense– it’s because it doesn’t. Without events to clarify and justify my reactions, they seem straight up insane.
For the record– not crazy. Heh. Just– dealing with a lot that I really, with all my heart, wish I could talk to you about and can’t. At least not yet.
What I CAN talk to you about is some more topical stuff. Daily life around here. First of all, Elias is in the final stages of testing for advanced placement next year. It has some really smarmy title– Academically and Intellectually Gifted, I think– and they sent home a letter saying YOUR CHILD IS BEING CONSIDERED and WHICH OF THESE TRAITS DOES YOUR CHILD DISPLAY? with checkboxes (“Photographic memory? Quirky humor? Innovative suggestions?”) and then WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT US TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CHILD THAT MIGHT INFLUENCE OUR DECISION (LIST ALL ACCOMPLISHMENTS, AWARDS, AND EXTRACURRICULARS). Say what? This is third grade, not college admissions. I didn’t put anything. “The kid scored in the 99th national percentile for math,” I told J. “If they’re not impressed by that, we’re screwed.”
Addie came home with an award, too. She actually got a notice that she WILL be getting an award Friday, and I should be there to watch. Not sure what it’s for– some kind of good classroom behavior. Helping, sharing, being safe, being diligent. Something. I used to get so excited about these awards (and I still lavish praise on the kids for their sake), but GOING to the awards ceremonies sucks. They bring up six to seven kids from EVERY CLASS in a grade level, and make speeches about how great each one did, and give them their award, and it takes about an hour. I get a guilty sense of relief when Addie’s class is first, and I can just wait for her award– snap shots– and duck out early.
Plus, that parking lot? MADHOUSE.
I did get to visit the school for an hour yesterday and help out in Eli’s classroom. That was fun.
I know. How cute are they, reading right after a library visit. And such NICE kids. All of them. I can’t say enough about what sweet friends and classmates Eli has. They were doing wire art with beads, and I got to wander around, helping whoever (literally) got their wires crossed.
At one point, the instructor asked me to help him cut wire. He made a comment about how old he was, and how young I was in comparison. “How old ARE YOU, Missus Kimbel?” one of the kids shouted. “I’m twenty-nine,” I answered.
Collective gasp. “HOW CAN YOU BE TWENTY-NINE AND HAVE A KID?” another boy shouted. “HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN?”
I didn’t know what to say. I almost made a joke about life’s little surprises but decided it was both inappropriate and would be lost on nine-year-olds.
Came back home afterward and worked more on the playroom.
OH YEAH. THE PLAYROOM.
Okay. So. Let me back this up a bit for you.
Like a week ago, last Saturday, Jason said he wanted to spruce things up before the SuperBowl party. Okay. I was down. His initial plan was paint the powder room– which I was onboard with. Then he said why not rip the whole downstairs floor up, while we’re at it? Put new wood planks down? Nail some beadboard on the walls? Add trim on the windows? “You just turned a half hour, twenty dollar project into a week long six THOUSAND dollar one,” I told him. “And. Thirty people in our house. Seven days. While I’m shoe-stringing our budget. Not happening.”
So he was like, yeah, you’re right, and I was like ALWAYS, because I’m a jerk about being right (heh), and we forgot it. Had carpet cleaning guys come Monday. There was a spot upstairs Lola’s had accidents in since we lived here, and no matter how much I cleaned, the stain and smell would never fully come out. It drove me crazy. Especially because it looks like I just don’t care about pet messes– which is not true. I did every old housewife trick, I rented shampooers, I bought a shampooer, we did chemical treatments and eco-friendly treatments and even ripped the carpet up and cleaned the pad underneath. Nothing.
Figured the carpet cleaning wouldn’t help that much, but it was supposed to sanitize everything at least, and it’d be something new.
Yeah. That’s the corner. I KNOW.
I don’t have a before (thank God), but just use your imagination. And do your worst. It was awful. It looks amazingly better now, it smells better– the whole upstairs was incredible. We had the stairs, playroom, and landing done.
Anyway. To have things cleaned, we needed to move all the furniture out of the way. And while J was standing in the clean, empty room, he suggested changing things around before we put stuff back.
YES. OH GOD YES. This playroom has not made sense for a year, and I’ve SO BADLY wanted to reorganize stuff. The desks worked great, but the rest of the set-up just wasn’t conducive to their play. They’re really into art, technology, and puzzles, and the old playroom was more toy and early learning oriented.
So. Let’s use some pictures, because it’s more fun that way.
(Before we start: I mentally made a budget of a hundred bucks, which I feel is SUPER cheap for a room redo, and nothing I would regret spending later. And we did it. We were even under by a couple dollars.)
The first change was the half wall. Before, it had almost nothing on it but a felt board. My mom bought these little felt letters you could stick on to make words, and it worked for about a year while they were both learning to read. It’s been abandoned since.
J suggested painting it with chalkboard paint and making it into an art wall instead.
I did the bulk of the painting, but the kids helped.
SIDE STORY HERE: This was a free project because we already had paint leftover from the chalkboard in the kitchen. J said it wouldn’t be enough. I shook the can, weighed it in my hand. “There’s plenty left,” I answered. “At least two coats worth.”
“There’s no way. MAYBE one coat, maybe not even that.”
“I doubt it.”
“I’m awesome with this kind of stuff,” I informed him. “I’ve always been able to gage areas and dimensions, and you never trust me.” (THIS IS TRUE.) “I definitely have enough for two coats worth with this can. Probably with some left over.”
He was all, OH WE’LL SEE, and I was like, OH WE WILL.
Yep: two coats, some left over. OH WE’LL SEE ALL RIGHT.
Let the kids use it yesterday.
And drive cars and rubber brains on it.
(When I relayed the story to Shelly, I started, “You know how I’m good at judging things? Well, Jason said I didn’t have enough paint for that wall but I totally painted it AND I had some left over so I think people need to start giving me credit blah blah pwncakes,” and Michelle said: “GIRL. Stop. You had me at, You know how I’m good at judging things?” Pwncakes, indeed.)
Okay, so. Chalkboard done. Next we bought some cheap shelving ($70 for all three) and J assembled them. (I put together one, but– he did most of the work, and arranged and anchored them to the wall. Credit where credit’s due.)
While he was furnituring, I went through the kid’s desks with them. Their desks were full of NONSENSE, people.
And we combed through everything. Each of them needed a major drawer overhaul. I don’t have before shots of this, either, but imagine someone just took a handful of that mess and threw it in a drawer, and you have the idea.
Elias and Addie both collect tiny weird things, which end up in various places all over the house. Instead of fighting it, I decided to embrace it. Eli’s mini plastic figurines now had a Place to Go. And Addie’s collection of Shaped Erasers did too. They could be easily housed, found, and filed away.
We also decided that desks are for computer games, some writing utensils, and notepads. And that’s it. Pipe cleaners, air horns, McDonald’s toys, stuffed animals, wrapping paper, a sticker from a banana, leftover holiday candy– NONE OF THESE THINGS BELONG IN A DESK. I also gave them each a designated Memory Box, where they can store Any Memories Of Their Choosing. Kids are really sentimental creatures, and they treasure small objects that seem ordinary to an adult. Again, rather than fight this, I embraced it. This is their special box. They can put anything they want in it. But that’s the spot for it, too– not on my floor, in my purse, under their pillow, in a toy chest– it goes in the Memory Box, and it will be safe and sound.
Here’s the inside of Addie’s:
On the other side of the room, the entertainment center was taking place:
(Wall mount was only twenty bucks. It’s our third wall-mounted TV in the house, and let me tell you: the first mount was the hardest. It was the biggest television and involved hiding wires behind a fireplace. Each mount has gotten progressively easier, and this one went up in no time at all. I’m hoping all our household improvements go this way– that we get better and more efficient the more we do them.)
Okay, so that’s basically how it was left last night. J decided to move onto the last big project before bed, which was turn the newly-santized Dog Corner into Attractive Storage. We already had the grid-like furniture piece to go in there. It just didn’t quite fit. So.
(I’ll add a finished photo when it’s actually, you know, finished. Heh.)
After that, we tucked the kids in– kissed them, said goodnight– and watched ‘Drive’ downstairs. Here’s the thing: I love Ryan Gosling. Like, I don’t love him because of ‘The Notebook’, and I don’t love him because it’s popular now and he’s kind of his own charming, reclusive little media icon. I just love Ryan Gosling. “You know when I started liking this kid?” I told J. “BREAKER HIGH. 1997. You remember that?”
J glanced at me. “Um. No.”
“It was on Saturday mornings, and there was this ship that had a high school on it. And then he was in Young Hercules. And even back then, I was like, GOD, I LOVE THIS KID. He’s going to make something of himself.” I paused. We watched current day Ryan Gosling kill it (literally) in the elevator; which is arguably one of the most evocative scenes of 2011 cinema.
I whispered, “I told you. Incredible.” Another pause. “Michelle said I’m really good at judging stuff.”