Sunday, March 31, 2013



T'was a lovely Easter.

Saturday, March 30, 2013



Big day today. The handle sets were installed on our exterior doors and I got a key to my new house. In typical fashion something is wrong (the mud room door set is white when it's supposed to be black and none of them are keyed alike, so I get to call my friend the window and door guy AGAIN) but at least the front and back doors are good. We also have more tile work done, and partial gutters.

Inspections are set for Wednesday. I'm trying to be optimistic. M is taking the realist approach, saying, "Ain't no way" and, "I'll believe it when I see it." I want to schedule the movers. He wants to wait and see. I'm afraid he might be right, yet again, but still...

I have a key! (That means something, right?!)

Friday, March 29, 2013



Among our many stops today (old folks home, maternity ward, lunch, Passion liturgy, Tenebrae, and the job site x 3), we managed to time a concrete pour just right, allowing Zozer to place her handprint in our new driveway. I added her initials and the date with a framing nail. She was absolutely thrilled, as was I.

We have a few little things hidden in the construction, including two 2013 pennies in the basement floor, notes penned on studs, and a medal of St. Brigid nailed up in the eaves. I love that stuff. (As if this house weren't completely ours already, we made it even more so.)

Although the builder is still promising, with increasing gusto, that he'll be finished in a week, we still have our doubts. A page-long (single spaced typed) punchlist keeps me awake at night. Progress on the outside today looks promising (big chunk of the driveway poured, last planter box nearly bricked), but a stroll through the inside shows little work since yesterday.

Anyone care to place any bets?

Thursday, March 28, 2013



Wednesday, March 27, 2013



The day started with so much promise.

And then it just cratered.

At 4:45 p.m.

I think for my own sanity, my own mental well being, I need to stop going to the job site to check progress. Because when I get there and there is no progress (okay, very little) I feel like ripping someone's arm off and beating him with it. And once that phase passes I just feel tired and drained and depressed all over again.

It should take six months to build a 3,000 square foot custom home.

We are in month 8. Going into month 9.

I am rapidly reaching the "I don't give a f*ck" phase because I can't, for the life of me, figure out why shit isn't happening at any sort of steady pace. Forget urgency...that has been non-existent. (Except when we need to drop everything and do something. Like when I had to leave work in the middle of the day late last summer to select toilets. THAT DAY. RIGHT THE F*CK NOW. The plumbing then wasn't installed for about a month and the damn toilets are STILL in boxes in the garage. Right.)

We were supposed to be in around the first of the year. My appliances have been sitting in the garage since the first week in December, because that's when they were supposed to be installed. That's almost four months, people. Think I should buy an extended warranty since they'll be out of the manufacturer's warranty by the time they are installed and we turn them on for the first time?

I got word from my lighting company today that the fixtures we selected for the closets have since been discontinued and are now out of stock. (This also happened with my bathtub, by the way.) He waits so long to order things that they become unavailable and I get to start the search all over again. Because, you know, I have so much spare time to do things twice.

So the first of the year came and went. Then Valentine's Day. Now we are at Easter and I am STILL not in my own f*cking house.

I have reached my limit. I am ready to go postal. I wanted to set a firm deadline and impose financial repercussions for missing it from the beginning and was counseled to not rush the builder. "You want quality construction, not something thrown up quickly." That made sense, so I have refrained from pushing.

I am now firmly convinced that this was a mistake. No, we shouldn't have said he had to have it built in three months or something unattainable like that. But I think nine months is too long, and I think this is ridiculous, and I think we don't have a f*cking leg to stand on to push him at all at this point.

My cool as ice veneer with this whole project is starting to crack. And it's not gonna be pretty when it goes.

I'm done. D-O-N-E.

Someone call me when it's over. I'll start packing boxes again. Until then, I think I just need to stay away.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

an A in happiness


Parent-teacher conference at Zoe's school tonight. It's nice to hear someone unrelated who spends eight hours a day, five days a week with your kid tell you what a great kid you have. I mean, I always think she's a great kid, but I know I'm biased and therefore it feels good to have it objectively confirmed.

We reviewed spelling and math and reading and behavior, but my proudest moment was when Mrs. F said, "She is always smiling...she is always happy." That, for me, is what it's all about. I just want my kid to be happy.

This makes me feel good, and that all our efforts to keep the stress of wrecking and building our home away from her has worked. Ever since she was born, our goal has been to insulate her from our worries. Children should never be burdened with the cares of adults. She gets one shot at childhood, and I want her to look back and say, "Damn. That was fun."

Also, it's nice to hear that my daughter is a genius. (Mrs. F talked about her excellent printing and her creativity and I think dropped the word "smart," so I'm gonna go ahead and call that genius. Because I'm her mom and I can.)

Monday, March 25, 2013



Just discovered this adorable logo tonight, as I was doing laundry in the basement. He's on a vintage gas stove. I've had so much crap piled up in front of the stove that I never saw it. In preparation to move home I've got quite a bit straightened up down there.

I'm ready to go home. I will forgo the Magic Chef logo in lieu of not having to drag laundry up and down a flight of stairs. Main floor laundry? Now THAT'S what I call magic!

Sunday, March 24, 2013



A rumbly tummy held over from last night grounded me from a soccer game and Mass. Grrrrr. It eventually passed, thankfully, and I was able to clean the house, make a huge pot of potato soup from scratch, and go sledding/build a snowman with my family. We had a blast. Much laughter and fun. Three snow angels of various size, a snowman named Jack (who is set to marry the snowgirl Zoe and her daddy built during an earlier snowfall), snowball fights...and that was our outside fun.

Inside, we painted on the bird feeder, colored, and snuggled while we watched Little House on the Prairie. After Zo went to bed, M and I reviewed paperwork for The New House and got that whole mess up to date.

Not too shabby for a snowy Sunday.

Saturday, March 23, 2013



This day was so full of awesome I don't think I can get it all down. We ran around like fools but got a lot done, and saw some people we love in the process. Zoe got to play with cousin Stella and they had a blast. Met the builder at The House and saw more progress, including the moment I've been waiting months for: the first window cleaning. They've had protective film from the beginning, and then the film was coated with dust and dirt and grime. And today...the film was removed and the glass was cleaned and holy crap. It completely changes the house. So stinking happy, just about the windows!

Tomorrow, snow. It punches holes in our construction schedule and will possibly cancel Zoe's Easter egg hunt at M's alma mater. Not looking forward to those major disappointments. I'm ready for spring, for a multitude of reasons.

Friday, March 22, 2013



The brains of our new geothermal system, which is now officially up and running. It's pretty stinking cool.

We weren't able to do all of the green things we wanted on the house because many of them were just too cost-prohibitive, but this is one that I'm proud of. It's not inexpensive, but M crunched the numbers and it does pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time. Plus it's just cool that we're using the temperature of the earth 200 feet down in our front yard to heat and cool the house. And the water in the house.

The bedrooms have all been cleaned out and are now ready for their final floor and wall finishes. Almost all baseboards are in (only M's project room and the Corvette bay remain). We're close. Or at least closer.

Thursday, March 21, 2013



Dead to the world tonight. Both of us. We are zombies.

It was this or yet another house detail picture.

Meow. Zzzzzzz.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



Counters installed today! Red up, green down. Black and white granite in the master bath.

They look great. These were another choice where I held my breath until install. There were more than a few days when I was tempted to call the counter guy and change the order to basic granite. But then I realized that I shouldn't do that for the mere reason that I didn't care what granite would be selected. To me, it all looks the same.

I have talked to so many women who told me about multiple trips to their granite suppliers, combing through aisles and aisles of stock to find the perfect piece. I can't understand that. There's brownish granite and blackish granite and some other colors. Beyond that, to me, it all pretty much looks the same.

And there's so much about this house that's unique that I didn't want just another slab of granite that, to me, could easily be switched out with anyone else's counter.

We were shopping for lights when I saw a display using the apple martini green counter. It was gorgeous and it gave me courage that it could be done, and it could look spectacular. I showed the display to M and said, "What do you think?" He surprised me when he didn't say no immediately. Then he suggested we use it in the rec room downstairs, which by its very function is more playful. I liked the idea, but didn't want to lose the idea of a bold pop of color in the great room, either. "If we do green downstairs, can we do red in the kitchen?" He said yes!

My husband, my sweet I-like-white-walls engineer husband, said yes to bright red counters in the kitchen.

Then I had to hold my breath until they were installed, and hoped they looked good. This isn't something we can just up and replace in a few years, you know?

Today the GC called over lunch and asked if I could come by. The counter guys wanted to talk about faucet placement. So once again I left work and headed over there, both excited and nervous. I walked in and BAM! There was the red counter. And I love it!

And now I'm working well into the night to make up for having to leave work, once again, in the middle of my work day. (Have I said this needs to be over?!)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013



My window treatment lady came to the house today. We held up samples and made final selections, and then she measured all nine windows we are covering with a nifty little laser. I got nervous when I saw that she measured the width at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom. I waited to hear that things aren't square, that there's something wrong I can't fix.

And then she turned to me with a look of surprise. "They're all perfectly square. This is incredible. Do you know how rare it is to find windows that are perfectly square? This trim is very well done!"

And then I started breathing again. And was thankful yet again for my awesome carpenters who work hard to build me a beautiful home.

When I got there earlier today (yes, it was a two-visit day to accommodate the schedules of others) my Irish carpenter was on the phone in hot debate with the cabinet manufacturer. He saw something he didn't like (I hadn't noticed, and probably never would have) and was working to get it fixed. He hung up and grinned, solution in progress.

I was also reassured when the window lady looked around the great room, summed up progress in her head, and proclaimed, "Oh yeah. You're incredibly close. He'll hit the deadline. You're good!" Then she ticked off what was left and how much time each thing takes, and I felt relief. The GC keeps saying he'll hit it, but sometimes I have my doubts. It helps to have an industry pro new to the project express confidence.

All is good, and the end is near. This makes me happy happy happy and tired.

We are so, so close.

Monday, March 18, 2013



I'm pretty sure he's still pissed about the furcut he received yesterday.

It could be because we keep laughing at him.

Zoe drew him a sign that said "pore kitty." I love that she empathizes with the cat. She usually calls him, "Furry!" but has now taken to calling him, "Furless!" I'm not sure that makes him feel any better.



Since we spent a large part of yesterday doing whatever we damn well pleased, today was spent doing everything that needed to be done.

We kicked off the day with shaving the cat. Always a pleasant ordeal for everyone involved. And it just got better from there. Both cars gassed up, grocery shopping, a Target run, and the replenishment of much-needed girly stuff from the mall. M purchased and assembled the pipe system that will allow us to run power from the house under the front walk to the yard - no more tripping hazards for guests!

The house was picked up, and all laundry sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away. Two pair of shoes de-mudded from forays on the job site. Paid bills and assembled the mountain of paperwork required for taxes. Cleaned out my purse. Sorted M's gas receipts. Entered Zoe's 2013-2014 school calendar into my Outlook calendar. Did a full swap on the cats' litter box, and replenished hay and food for the pig. Finished up closet plans for The New House, and performed some much-needed tape repairs on our well-used and now fairly decrepit building plans. We got M packed for his business trip, and I sorted through a stack of junk mail. There was other stuff, but I can't remember it all. Mainly because now I am really tired.

In the middle of all that, M helped Zozer put the first coat of paint (multiple colors!) on her bird feeder. His company provides the kits for employees' children to assemble and decorate, and then they're all displayed for Earth Day. Everyone votes, but each child gets a small prize just for participating. Last year she painted a bird house. She has a great time doing projects like this - the contest is almost irrelevant. Although she was thrilled with her ice cream gift certickerfate (her word) last year.

I am now ready for the week.

I love that feeling of preparedness. It never lasts long, as I'm sure some kind of hell will break loose tomorrow, but it's all good right now.

Saturday, March 16, 2013



Went to the big regional robotics competition today. The boys at the school where I work had a bot and I was curious. Plus I figured M would like it. So, as a family, we got our collective geek on and watched robots compete nearly all day. It was awesome.

We even visited the pits where the teams work to ready the bots, and fix them after each round if needed. I was impressed.

The boys at my school work so hard on this, and get so little recognition. Which is where I come in. Robotics, or the promotion of, just might become my little pet project. I can get 'em more exposure and probably more funding. And I'll have a blast doing it.

Pic today is one of the wheels on our bot. It's shaped like that to allow quick, multi-dimensional movement.

I dig stuff like this.

Maybe I wasn't cut out to be an engineer (1.5 years at Rolla pretty well determined that as fact), but there is a part of me that really enjoys stuff like this. So, I'll see how I can use what talents I do have to benefit the team.

Friday, March 15, 2013



Grade school variety shows are the best bang-for-your-buck entertainment. We had dancers, piano recitals, a violin duet (which I am positive left our ears bleeding, bless their little strings), a recorder solo (equal to the violins in regards to audio pain inflicted), a killer hula hoop routine, and my nephew's last variety show performance: the fifth grade light show that kicked ass. Fantastic.

I'm sad, though, at the same time. I feel like I just held his squalling little diapered butt and now he's getting ready to graduate from grade school and go on to middle. When did THAT happen?!

He's the kiddo on the far right in jeans.

Love love love him.

Thursday, March 14, 2013



The stained concrete floor in the rec room (red room?!) turned out really, really well. And by that I mean it's kick ass. We both love it.

Rest of it is coming along, slow but sure. There are little flurries of work, details that I don't pick up for two or even three visits. Then I'll see it as a whole, done. And it knocks my socks off.

I can't believe that I get to live there.



It was incredible to watch the announcement of our new pope today. The white smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney and our school swung into action. Someone set up the live feed from CNN in the theater and we crowded in to watch breathlessly. Hundreds of us watching, waiting and praying together. Lots of conjecture, speculation, and wishing. The boys got rowdy, chanting "Pope! Pope! Pope!" One boy came in with a swagger, "Pope is dope, man." They made me laugh.

After the announcement, I ran to capture video of the abbey church bells ringing in celebration. Then I realized this was as good a time as any to offer a prayer for Pope Francis I. I wandered into the sanctuary while the bells still clanged overhead, and noticed the young monk standing near their switches. After they fell to silence and the young monk left, I realized I was all alone in the church.

So I prayed.

I know a lot of people have issues with the Catholic Church. I understand that. I have my own issues and some days I really struggle.

But today. Today was not one of those days. Today I felt blessed to be a part of this wonderful faith family whose new leader is a humble servant.

We have a lot of work to do in our Church, and I believe the best way to effect change is to be at the table. It's easy to walk away. It's far harder to hang in there and work for progress. But it's worth it when it's something you love and when it's something that gives you far more than you could ever give it.

God bless Pope Francis I, and God bless our Church.

Habemus Papam! Laus tibi domine!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013



Little peek of spring on campus today.

Got some motivation tonight with an empty house and started packing. Or re-packing, rather.

Got the laundry room in order, which is saying something because over the last year that's become the dumping ground for all kinds of crap. Everything there is now put away in its appropriate box, and the boxes are all sealed and labeled.

Then I tackled the kitchen. All wine glasses are packed, along with a variety of mugs, travel cups and random cooking tools that I'm sure won't be needed before we move. (No one ask me for tabouli...the lemon juicer is boxed up!)

Talked to my loan officer today, and we scheduled the first appraisal. Meeting the window treatment lady at the house on Monday. Wood floors start being sanded tomorrow. Rec room concrete floor stained and sealed (and it looks kick-ass...seriously, that was one of those gut decisions that I held my breath on, waiting to see how it would turn out).

It's starting to feel real now.

Monday, March 11, 2013



Every day, multiple times a day, Max sits at Hershey's cage and stares at her. Then he'll slowly raise a paw and try to jam it between the bars to get her. He never succeeds. Hershey, meanwhile, is typically oblivious of the large, furry creature peering in at her. She runs around and eats her timothy hay and plays in her hidey hut. Sometimes, if she bothers to notice him at all, she'll stand up on her hind legs and stare back at him. This freaks him out to no end and he backs up.

This is hysterical to us because she is a quarter of Max's size, at most, and is the newest member of the household. Max, apparently, is a nancyboy.

He reminds me of Wile E. Coyote's daily and fruitless attempts to catch Bugs Bunny. Either that, or he's the Elmer Fudd of the cat world. Dumbass.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

return of the scaffold


The scaffolding is back, which feels like regression. The concrete floor in the basement was stained today, and the wall tile in Zoe's bathroom is half done, so there is progress. The scaffold returned so they can finish up the clerestory before removing everything to finish the hardwood floors. That's supposed to start Tuesday or Wednesday. The kitchen sink is in, and it is a thing of beauty as far as kitchen sinks go.

Some days it feels close, some days it still feels far, far away. Most of the time I really haven't a clue what to think. Most of the time I just feel tired.

Today's rain matched my spirit, and when the clouds parted late and we left to attend Mass, things felt a lot better.

I really just want to go home.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

strike a hose pose


Sometimes we make our own fun while M plans for Christmas at the hardware store.

Friday, March 08, 2013



No, this is not a metaphor! Things seem to be spiraling up, actually. Not spiraling down.

We met the GC at The New House at 7:30 a.m. He and other workers were still there when we drove past after the fish fry at 8:20 p.m.

Methinks he's taking this deadline seriously. Which makes me very, very happy.

(No, these are not stairs in our house. They're in the house - now business office - on the campus where I work.)

Thursday, March 07, 2013



Zozo and I sorted all her Girl Scout cookie orders tonight! Fun Zozo-Momo bonding time (M went to a K of C meeting). I read off the orders and she retrieved the boxes, then we bagged and labeled each with her customer's name and the amount they owe. M and I are taking our work orders in tomorrow and we plan to drive around a rainy STL Sunday delivering little boxes of sunshine to the family. I get the better end of the deal tomorrow: Zozer has a half day so I'll pick her up from school and we'll grab lunch before heading to work. In other words, I get the real Daisy Girl Scout herself in my office to deliver her cookies!

I'm concentrating on the success of this, this small, highly controllable little project with an achievable end date because it's distracting me from the completely out of control project I lovingly refer to as my someday-home.

What used to be exciting trips to the site to see progress and make fun decisions has devolved into trudging around wondering how on earth the GC is going to hit the hard deadline we finally imposed after he's pushed the entire project three months late. Or rather, how he's going to hit the deadline our mortgage company is imposing since we locked in our rate last week.

My eye has started twitching again. This happens in times of severe stress. It hasn't been an issue since I left The Job From Hell several years ago, but it's back in full force now. I do okay most of the day, but if I start thinking about The House or we start talking about The House, it starts going crazy. I'm thinking this is not a good sign.

M tells people, "It's really wearing on us. We really need to be in our own home again, with access to all our things." He's very diplomatic about it. I, on the other hand, say, "It's going to f*cking kill me." That's my public relations experience at work, right there.

Twitch twitch twitch.

Maybe I'll go eat an entire box of cookies.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013



I arrived at work at 7:58 this morning.

I pulled out of the parking lot at 10:37 tonight.

I did get to see a beautiful sunset behind a beautiful church from my office, but...

I. am. tired.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013



Aaaaaand we're back to the grind.

Yes, I went from grand Rocky Mountain vistas and llamas to an orange ladder in the basement of my unfinished home.

This house is gonna kill me.

Monday, March 04, 2013



We visited Aunt Vickie's Llama Farm today, which consists of one awesome lady with a quaint cabin and nine llamas all on nine acres of gorgeous Colorado mountain.

Llamas, it turns out, are pretty incredible animals. Huge but gentle. Curious and playful. Useful and sweet. I fell in love with "the girls," as Vickie lovingly calls them. (We saw the males but didn't make it into their pen. No reason other than it was cold and blustery and snowing, and we got our llama fill in the girls' pen.)

Vickie brought out old margarine tubs with grain, and we scooped our hands full and fed the llamas. Their mouths were so soft and I just couldn't help laughing with delight. It was a great experience.

On the way there, we saw a cow wandering the road (she had gotten loose from somewhere and was ambling down a two-lane highway), a group of big horn sheep, and a small coyote. Yesterday we saw young deer. And of course we passed the goat farm full of miniature goats near my friend's house multiple times. The llamas were the icing on the animal cake (animal cookies?) this weekend.

Home now, and happy to be here with my adorable little family. I walked up to a front door decorated with a Welcome Home sign made by my little girl, and later found another, smaller Welcome Home post-it on my pillow. I have shared my treasures with husband and realized once again how lucky I am to have a guy who supports all my crazy boondoggles.

Tomorrow is the start of my busy, shortened week full of evening meetings and appointments and the usual daily chaos. I'm rested and happy and ready. I predict this feeling will last approximately 24 to 36 hours, but a girl can hope for longer.

In the meantime, here's a little llama entertainment:

What happens if you stand between two llamas?
You get llamanated!

What's a llama's favorite movie?

What do you call a very fast llama?
A llamagini!

Okay. I'm done.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

notch top mountain


Sometimes, as I struggle to breathe enough air and as my ankle rolls for the 43rd time and as my own breath fogs up my sunglasses and as I run into yet another branch that looks like it will bend and then doesn't (ouch!), I wonder what the f*ck am I doing.

And then I get to see things like this. Things that only five other people in the whole world besides our little group of six saw today. And it's all worth it.

This is Lake Helene and Notch Top Mountain at about 11,000 ft. We hiked about 3.5 miles up to get there (and then had to hike 3.5 miles to get back down) and went up about 1400 feet. We ate lunch on the side of a mountain and crossed another lake to get there. We fell, and we got back up and kept going. And we laughed a lot and marveled at the beauty all around us.

My friend Chris who lives here and makes this all possible for me every year, stood beside me and took in this view. "How could anyone see this and not believe in God?" she asked. Beats me.



Today we rested. Slept in. Read and relaxed. Dozed. Hit a couple microbreweries and cute shops in Ft. Collins. Watched Silver Linings Playbook.

It has been a LONG time since I had a day that was absolutely stress free.

It felt good. Really, really good.

Saturday, March 02, 2013



Hiked six miles today in snow shoes, 1300 feet up a mountain to a frozen lake and back down. It snowed the entire time and was extraordinarily beautiful. The sun was out for most of it, so the snow glittered as it came down. It was how I imagine the inside of a snowglobe looks. As we climbed higher the clouds came down lower, and the wind kicked up. It felt like a blizzard on the frozen lake, like the sky itself was falling.

Then we crashed at Ed's Cantina and made quick work of a huge plate of nachos and some guacamole. It must have looked to observers like we hadn't eaten in months. The table was a disaster when we were done, and I'm sure we all smelled pretty ripe from our mountain trek. Ed's is in Estes Park, though, so I figure they're pretty used to seeing famished hikers.

Once home we all enjoyed hot showers and comfy clothes, and the latest Bond flick. I highly recommend it. Fantastic. Great end to a wonderful day.

Tomorrow: a day of rest. And some of Colorado's finest microbreweries.

These girls know how to have a good time.