Thursday, April 26, 2012


There are shiny things in my house!


Shiny metal!
Note: One should not wear flip-flops to a building site with shiny and sharp materials. One should not do that. One should also not wear long boot-cut jeans to a building site with sawdust and filth everywhere. Especially if one is particularly short. Ahem.

Today, the HVAC crew was hard at work installing our new bling!

New vent work.
Check it out!

New air duct in the dining room.
Ooh! Pretty!

New unit.
The new air handler is installed! I am absolutely giddy with excitement. This means the crews have quit demolishing things and started putting the house back together! It was so cool to see big, shiny things scattered throughout the bare framework. Shiny, blingy, awesomeness!

The basement floor is also intact once again and we have functional, up-to-code plumbing. 

New plumbing in the basement.
I'm loving it. If you've been following our progress, I hope you're loving it too! If you're keeping track, we've been out of our home seven months now. Yep. Seven. Some days that seems like forever so it's no wonder I get excited about shiny things. For seven long months I've looked at dark, dingy soot, plain, raw lumber, gray rock chunked out of the basement...boring. Finally, I see something pretty! I can't wait to see drywall! And cabinets! And paint!

You know it's been a long journey when sheet metal is this stinkin' exciting.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Move That Oil!

I've been spending a lot of time turning pages in kitchen remodeling magazines lately. By a lot, I mean that I look at them every free moment I have. You know, while I'm on my throne. The throne is the only place a woman with five children, a job, and a whole house remodeling project can possibly sit uninterrupted long enough to look at a magazine. I've pretty much picked out our kitchen cabinets and counter tops, but I'm still searching. I'm waiting for a tile pattern to speak to me. Occasionally, I see a tile pattern that says "meh, could do" but I have yet to find one that says "oh yeah, you know you want me."

Fortunately, there are no slow cookers taking up precious counter top space in the photos of kitchen remodels, so I am not reminded in that way of our disaster. I suppose the clunky slow cooker is not sleek enough to feature in a picture perfect kitchen. What I do see, over and over again, in nearly every single photo in every single kitchen magazine I take to the throne, is oil. The classic bottle of oil, be it flavored, herb-infused, or plain old olive, is standing in a place of honor...right next to...the stove.

That's right. A bottle of accelerant right next to the primary heat source. It makes me INSANE.

Public Service Announcement: DO NOT place accelerants near a heat source in your home! Don't do it people! Putting your olive oil next to your cook top is like placing a can of gasoline next to a campfire. Don't do it.

Confession: I did it.

Don't we all? Who even thinks about it? To be honest, I had a lot of accelerants. There was a bottle of olive oil on the counter right next to the stove which is where the stupid crock was plugged in. When the cord to the crock shorted and began to spark and flame, it didn't take long I'm sure to reach the olive oil. No need to stop there though. Just a foot away there was also shortening, vegetable oil, sugar, and lighters. Yep, lighters. A whole little crock of them. Those big, long lighters you would use for a grill or fireplace. Probably a half dozen of them, right on top of the cabinet out of reach of little fingers.

So, a small spark led to a little flame, reached the bottle of oil, and we had an inferno.  

Kitchen cabinet nest to stove
Repeat after me folks- I will NEVER, ever place an accelerant near a heat source. No matter how amazing the photos in all of the remodeling magazines look with their trendy bottles tied with raffia, or how convenient it may be to actually have the oil within reach.

I, personally, will now store my oil, and lighters, on the other side of the kitchen for the rest of my life. If I visit your kitchen, I will move your oil to the other side of the kitchen. I might unplug your slow cooker too. 

Now, don't get me wrong. the oil did not cause the fire. The fire was happening because of a bad cord on the crock. The oil just pushed the whole thing over the top. The oil took what might have been a slow, smoldering fire, and turned it into a rapid, intense, very hot fire. It is perhaps the difference in a kitchen remodel as opposed to an eight-month-stay-in-a-rental-while-we-rebuild-the-whole-house remodel.   

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Deal

We had a system before this fire took over our lives. The big guy took care of the kids, and me, and kept us fed. I tried to make a living and worked at completing a degree. That was the deal. But guess what? Fire destroys everything. Systems included.  

So, new system. I work. The big guy oversees the rebuilding of the house. Together we fumble taking care of the kids and keeping everyone fed. And college? I had hoped to be back by the summer semester, but as the moving home date hovers ever farther in the distance I think maybe I’ll enroll in the fall semester.

This is what the new deal looked like today:

The big guy goes to buy rock to fill the holes in the basement floor, but the rock company won’t sell him the rock because he doesn’t own a dump truck. (Don’t encourage him dammit! We already own an ice cream truck.) He has to go to a different rock company. Then he goes to get concrete but the machinery is down so he has to find a different place to buy concrete. With all of the delays, he announces that he will not be home to take care of the kids when they get off their three different school busses. I am on my own to work, referee, and oversee chores. 

I decide that all I really need to be able to tackle this challenge is a shower.  It really is the little things.  I had twenty minutes before the busses started arriving. I sent my boss a quick message to let her know I would be right back and ran for the shower.  (Yes, I work from home. No, I do not pack sex toys for a living. Yes, I am aware of work-at-home scams. No, really…it is legitimate employment. Yes, I do work in my PJs.)

Follow me if you dare- it went like this:

Flip on the lights. Drop my iPod into the dock. Comb my hair. Start the shower. Grab a washcloth.  Ahhh…the hot water feels great. Where is the conditioner? Ugh. Middle child left it out there on the counter. I’ll just make do with his conditioner. Oh, yuck. That conditioner probably has ‘cones’. I don’ t want that in my hair, but I am NOT getting out of this shower. “MOM!!! Rough Stuff didn’t get off the bus!! She just stayed on and the bus left!” Crap. Shut off the water. Wring some water out of my hair. Tiptoe to my phone. Dry my ear so I don’t drown the phone. Call the bus company. “Hello, my daughter did not get off the bus at her stop, she is on bus ##.” I’m on hold. Fabulous. It is cold out here. I am dripping everywhere. “Oh, you found her, you’re bringing her back, thank you.” Peek around the door. “Son! Son! Tuna! Somebody! Guys! HELLO?  H E L L O O O?! Go back to the bus stop and get your sister!” Now the whole floor is wet. I should have skipped the shower. Wow, this hot water feels great. Why on earth didn’t I grab the damn conditioner while I was out there?! I am not getting out again. I need to shave. Where is my razor? Oh, freak. It is way out there on the floor. Son of a biscuit. Now there is water all over the floor again. I hate this shower door. “MOM! Do you know where my iPod is?” “NO, I am in the shower!” Man, how long has it been since I shaved my legs? “MOM! I need to tell you something!” “No you don’t! It is NOT an emergency and I am in the SHOWER!” I shouldn’t have shaved. I need to get back to work. “MOM! Do you know where my splitter is?” “I am in the shower!” “It is a gray cord.” “NO! Go away. I am in the SHOWER!” “We bought it at Staples.” “(BLEEP) This is NOT an EMERGENCY! Leave me ALONE!”  Get out of the shower. That was so not worthwhile. I’ll just throw on my sweats and put my hair up in a towel so I can get back to work.  Yeah, I look SO much better now. Filth and foul.  Log back in to work. “Mom, um…there is this form…um…I need for school…because Mr. X said…blah…blah…blah…are you listening?” Oh for the love of all things.  “Let me stop what I’m doing and help you with YOUR problem.” 
“Nevermind.” “Mom’s cranky.”

Yep. Great system.

Stupid crock.

I was cursing the crock. I was shaking my fist at the fire. I was having a pity party because if only we’d had GFCI outlets we wouldn’t be living in a rental house and the big guy would be home with the kids instead of always meeting with contractors at our ‘other’ house and I could have just taken a simple shower and none of this crap would be happening to us!

And then the phone rang. I answered with a nasty “hello!” A sweet voice on the other end said “this is so-and-so from Pryde’s, we have more of your new dishes in” and I was all WOOHOO! Because…well…you know, NEW DISHES!

And that is what life is like 7 months post-fire. Change. Challenge. Frustration. Anger. Outrage. Sadness. Acceptance. And new stuff.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Holy Cannoli

So guess what happened at the house this week?


Isn't that exciting?

Actually, there was some progress this week. The plumbing is finished on the lowest level and they are ready to pour concrete back into the basement floor. The pipes are all in, but the hole in the floor...well...actually, hole is an understatement...the CRATER in the basement floor is still there so a lot was accomplished, but it doesn't feel very good. Oh, and the framing continued. There were things we wanted to happen this week though, that were put on hold.

On hold because there was nothing to do. No, no...that wasn't it. On hold because folks didn't show up to work. No, no...that wasn't it either. On hold because, believe it or not, subcontractors won't work without money. Who knew? Something about businesses to run and families to feed. There was a minor issue on a form that was faxed to the mortgage company, a sort of blurry check box type of issue and the form had to be filled out again and faxed again and processed again, which takes a minimum of 5 business days. (Insert choice word here.) So, no money = no work. No garage door installation. No insulation. No HVAC. (Shaking fist in the air.)

Even with all of that work stalled, the schedule and life in general nearly ran us over this week. Fortunately, the weekend brought a few fleeting moments of awesomeness. My oldest daughter turned 15 this week. She couldn't wait to get to the license bureau to get her driver's permit. She read a statistic that 50% of people taking their permit test for the first time fail. She is one of those people. Better luck next week.

Happy 15th Tuna!
We tried to erase the pain with a day out with a few friends. They spent the better part of 2 hours in a mirror maze, broke dozens of lasers in a Mission Impossible-style laser room, ate lunch together and wrapped up with a shopping trip to Charming Charlie. Oh, and there were cannoli. She could not bring in 15 without a plate of cannoli. I have no idea why.

Saturday ended with this beautiful sunset:

The best thing about our temporary home is the sunset views. Amazing as they are, I will trade them all for home, in a heartbeat. I have been incredibly homesick this week.

So, new hope. Here is hoping the check comes so we can get the crews working again full speed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One of Those Days

Today has been one of those days. The kind of day that picks up speed like a dirty snowball until it gains unstoppable momentum, sideswipes you and leaves you caddywhompus  on your butt. There was an underhanded smack from somebody’s allergies and asthma. There was a poke from autism.  And a big helping of so-much-for-your-plans with a side of oh-by-the-way.   

It is the oh-by-the-way that makes me want to stand out on the door step and scream at the top of my lungs that karma can kiss my big, white arse. But I won’t. ‘Cause I don’t roll like that. (Well, maybe once in a while, but not this week.) I’ll just drink another Dr. Pepper and suck the life out of a leftover Cadbury crème egg and knit a few rows and take a deep breath goes. on.  

My oldest girl turned 15 today. So, there was that. That was wonderful.  Oh, if only the day could have just paused right there.

But, it did not.

We were eating lunch when the big guy said “oh, by the way…they tore the basement stairs out today. “

Excuse me? Whaaaaa? The stairs they just built?

Basement stairs, raised.  
They are not exactly 'torn out'. They have simply been raised and held up out of the way with makeshift supports. Because that is normal, right? Eh?!

The hopelessly insulation-clogged plumbing just happens to run right underneath the basement stairs. They were in the path of the jackhammer.

Of course they were. Because, WHY NOT?

Oh. My. Stars. That is a big hole.  
Apparently, the jackhammer rules our basement. Like a boss.

Pardon me now while I inhale my Dr. Pepper.   

Oh, and by the way...

This is what the house looked like on the outside today:

Almost ready for siding.  
There's no place like home. (click) There's no place like home. (click) There's no place like home. (click)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


The house is rolling right along. Yesterday, the roofing crew tore off our old heat and smoke damaged roof and had a new one on before 5 o'clock. I was quite impressed. And I am not easily impressed with roofing shingles and nail guns. Our neighbor's child said "the neighbor's house is noisy, and it speaks Spanish." Ha! We had a fabulous crew and it feels great to know that another task is complete.

New roof!
This week, the house will speak the language of the jackhammer. Man, I'm glad I don't live next door to that noise!

No, actually I have the best neighbors ever and even though they call this noise the sound of progress, I feel bad that they have to hear all of our rebuilding commotion. I should buy a sign that says 'Pardon Our Mess'. 

Speaking of shopping...

I went shopping for a dining room table today at this cute little store that I could buy one of everything in. They sell authentic, rustic Mexican furniture. We had several of their pieces in the house pre-crock. I did find the PERFECT dining room table. But I didn't buy it today. Not yet. We'll order it next week. I bought something else though. Something really awesome. 

I bought a cock.

When we got him home we couldn't resist standing him in front of the door and ringing the door bell. We hid around the corner and watched. I'm sure the neighbors think we're crazy. We just haven't lived in this temporary home long enough for them to confirm it yet. They'll get it figured out soon I'm sure. 

The look on Fish's face was well worth the price of this beautiful chicken. Her eyebrows went way up high and then her lips pursed in confusion. Tuna wondered aloud what was wrong with us. The yellow lab hid behind the door and barked in terror. 

I was going to put it out front at the old house when we move home, but for now I think it might look great on the hearth by our new Wii box

I know, I know...he is not of the Blogess'  Knock Knock chicken stature, but he is awesome. In fact, he might be better because he is a Coca-Cola cock.  

Even better is that the big guy loved me enough to humor me and pull out the debit card without a word. I love that big guy. Almost as much as I love my new metal cock. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bustin' Up

Easter… spring…eggs…

Ah…new beginnings.





They are busting stuff up again! We are supposed to be in Operation Rebuild now, not Operation Tear-Out. Somebody didn’t get the memo.

Today, they took the siding off the house.

The siding is off. Isn't that attractive?

Saturday, when I visited the house this is what greeted me:

Removing the clogged plumbing. Apparently, plumbing and insulation do not play well together. 

Yes, folks…that is a tunnel. In my basement floor. It looks like an excavation site. Or a serial killer's lair. I should hide a few fossils in there and charge an admission fee.

A jackhammer is not what you want to see in your house.

Tomorrow they will tear the rest of the roof off. I bought an Angry Bird squishy ball to relieve some of my anxiety.


Poor bird. I just might squish the life plumb out of him before this week is over. 

You need a giggle?

I'll leave you with a little giggle. All of my girls got new dresses for Easter. Some of them wanted new shoes. 

Guess which one did not.

A girl after my own heart.