Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hamster CageMatch 2009

So today is Science Fair.

Kelly and Alice put together a lovely poster with just enough information to hold the attention of their classmates, I think.

Last night, I was cleaning out the little hammies' cages, because I think it might be cute to have 'visual aids' for the poster for when the judges come by. Imagine how cute it would be to have a little hamster running in the wheel with the speedometer going, so they can see exactly how the experiment works! It'll be so cute. So I was sprucing up the cages for the trip to school tonight.

The Test Cage is enormous. It's got a wheel at one end, and is just cavernous. I had Souffle in there (the male), scooting around while I was cleaning his cage. It just looked so big, I thought "Surely Oreo wouldn't even be able to find him in all the space!" and, being the Dumb Blonde that i am, I snagged Oreo, and put her down in the far corner of the test cage, just to see if they'd sniff around, or something.

Folks, it was like Armageddon.

She made a bee-line for Souffle, and they went at it like those cartoon depictions of the Tasmanian Devil. There was a little whirlwind with fur flying, and it was NOT a love-match, trust me.

I had to get in between them before they killed each other. I reached in, and they both clamped down on my fingers with their sharp little teeth. Souffle let go first, I think when he realized that he wasn't fighting to the death any more, and I was able to reach in with my other hand and scoop him to the safety of his new clean cage.

Then I was able to address Oreo, who was still attached to my finger.


But she let go once Souffle was removed from (what I can only imagine was thought of by her as) her space, and then happily waltzed over to the wheel, and proceded to trot around like nothing had happened.

I guess there's not going to be baby dwarf hamsters in our future any time soon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Remodel Day 55. Catching Up.

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of rest.



On our way home from church, Other Ken called to see if we wanted to take back the "wrong" bathroom sink. (Several weeks back, he'd called to say he had a coupon at Home Depot, and did we want to get any supplies at Home Depot with 10% off (or it might have been 20%) on his credit card, and we'd thought we needed to get a sink Right This Minute! as the bathroom had just been ripped out, so we went charging over to Home Depot with Other Ken (and his coupon) and had bought a sink and vanity that was nice, but didn't really thrill me. Then we discovered that we didn't HAVE to put a sink back in the bathroom immediately, and there was Buyer's Remorse, as we thought of the beautiful granite counter and vessel sink we COULD HAVE put there... oh look! Let's just take the Wrong Vanity back!... and so we've sat with that idea for nearly a month. Whoopsie. Better get the credit back on Other Ken's Home Depot Credit Card)

So we got home, and Ken and I packed up All The Wrong Stuff (we'd also gotten a faucet and a matching medicine chest to go with the vanity) and he headed off to Home Depot while I thought I'd just laze around for a bit.

Er... then Kelly asked if she could have a play date this week with Carmella (another friend), and I said "Well, it can't be Monday, because you've got Spanish class after school, and it can't be Tuesday because you've got Kung Fu, and it can't be Wednesday because you've got the dentist appointment, then dance class, then Science Fair.... EEK! You haven't finished your Science Fair Poster!!!!!" so I immediately got on the horn to Alice's mom, to see if Alice could come over and the girls could put together their Science Fair Project Poster.

With perhaps just a LITTLE BIT too much help from me, the write-up eventually got printed out. I like to think that I provided "guidance", but in a court of law, I would've been objected to over and over and over again for asking "Questions that are too leading to the witness". Like "You tested ONE female hamster, and ONE male hamster. Do you think that ALL female hamsters run faster than ALL male hamsters? Or do you think that the sample size is too small." and they'd say "No! We need more hamsters!" and I'd type "We could say that female hamsters probably run faster than male hamsters, but it is not good to make conclusions with information from just two individual test subjects. This is a sample size that is just too small." Then I said "Would it be responsible pet ownership for us to go out and buy ten more hamsters, just for the experiment?" and they said "No!" and I typed "It would not be smart to buy ten more hamsters just to get good data, as each hamster needs his or her own cage, and also needs time with peope in order to stay tame and calm, so that would be irresponsible as a pet owner." You see? Just a little bit of leading...

But we were under the gun! And we had to be at The Other Ken's house for supper at 5, and then Kelly had a kids' chorus rehearsal at 6.

And while Kelly and Alice put together their poster board, Alice's dad worked on securing my new desk, and putting in my Electronics Garage. He also went over with me what would be happening today with Maurice and Louis. They'd be washing the floor of excess grout, and then putting up crown moulding, most likely.

I asked if washing the grout was something I could do, and Andrew raised an eyebrow. "It's dirty work" he said. "Ah, but if I do it, Maurice and Louis don't have to, right?"

So that's how I ended up on my hands and knees on my kitchen floor for hours last night, after we'd had dinner at The Other Ken's house, and Kelly and Nate had been put to bed.

Oh, and I may have spent a good chunk of time in the garage, breaking down cardboard boxes, too. It was beginning to get overgrown in there, and I know that the guys were having a bit of trouble just finding room to turn around in there. This week is Recycling Week, and the trash dudes are going to be a bit surprised when they see all the cardboard going out for recycle on our curb. I hope it doesn't rain. That would just be a big giant mess.

But the bits of the kitchen floor that I cleaned? Oh, they look nice this morning.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remodel Day 54. The Desk.

We're off to a wedding this afternoon.

I thought the wedding was tomorrow... until yesterday.

Wouldn't be a problem except that last night, Skip was at a Music Festival over in the East Bay, (didn't get back to Middle School until ELEVEN FREAKIN' THIRTY!!!!) and, as a reward, kids who performed at the festival got to go to Great America this morning, and will be there all day... until at least 8pm.

And Skip is our go-to babysitter for things like this.

So I was suddenly left with a wedding to attend, and NO BABYSITTER!

Fortunately, my friends came through for me. Kelly is going over to her BFF's place in the afternoon, and can stay there into the evening indefinitely (one more reason to love our contractor, who is BFF's dad). And Nate's buddy from Kindergarten is having Nate over for his Very First Sleepover Ever!

Nate is so excited, I'm worried he might pee his pants. Heh.

I went off early in the morning to take Kelly to a rehearsal for the musical that she's going to be in next weekend, and after dropping her (and Kate, her buddy) off at the rehearsal venue, I went off on a hunt.

I needed a wedding gift, and I needed a non-black dress to wear to said wedding.

The bride today is the youngest daughter of Ken's first boss in Montreal. When we met her, she was 12 years old, and Skip was 5 weeks old, and she couldn't understand why he didn't just understand what she was saying to him.

Now she's a pediatrician.

I like to think that Skip played a part in her career choice.

Ken's boss moved to California shortly after Ken did, and came to work at the same company as Ken. Then, after Ken left that company, First Boss left, too, to go to Yahoo! where he worked for a few years before seeing some writing on the wall, and asking Ken if New Hip Company might be a better fit for him. So now, 16 years after Ken first started working for New Boss, they're back working together again. And we are the "old friends" of the bride's dad.

When we got married, it was the "old friends of our parents" who provided the sweetest and nicest wedding presents, and Ken and I felt we needed to keep paying it forward. So off to Macy's I went.

I think it's been probably 8 years since I've been to a Macy's. I always think it's going to be just too expensive.

I was there, at the mall, when it opened. And walking into Macy's, the first thing I saw was the fancy dress section. And look! A clearance rack! And look at all the UGLY stuff (in sizes 0 and 2, of course) that you can get on sale. No wonder I always thought Macy's was not for me... oh wait!

(a shaft of sunlight breaks through the clouds!)

(an angel chorus breaks into song)

It was The Dress.


Not Black.

My size.

And most importantly... ON SALE!

I tried it on.

It fit like a glove (ok, like a tight glove. But that's what foundation garments are for!). I made a snap decision. I would get it, even though it was still pretty pricey.

I was the first person at the cash register, 3 minutes after the store opened. The sales clerk asked me if I had the coupon for today.

The coupon? I missed out on a coupon????? I was heart broken!

Until she said "oh, you can get it by donating $5 to our Outdoor Environment Charity, and then you get a $5 coupon, AND you get 20% off for the rest of the day. Would you like to make a donation?"


So I made a $5 donation, and my $119 dress went down... down... down... and I was suddenly paying $52 for it. And I still had the 20% off coupon for the wedding present.

It was going to be a golden day.

Upstairs, they helped me immediately in the registry, and I was able to get a glorious place setting of the bride's Kate Spade flatware (eek! I didn't realize flatware could be so expensive!) AND the hostess set (gulp!). Ken was hoping for the Calphalon cookware, but it wasn't showing up on the register in the store. Perhaps some other 'old friend of the parents' got to it first. I hope so.

And then I came home, and the guys were hard at work finishing up the grout, and getting going on MY DESK!!!!!

Like I said. A golden day.

And look! All the doors are on the cupboards! It looks like a kitchen!

*pets the sweet little Vent-A-Hood that is supposedly silent when it runs*

Remodel Day 50. Kitchen Floors!

This is just a bit out of order, but I wanted to remember when things happened.

On Monday, Maurice and Andrew finished installing all the base cabinets. That included some behemoths, too! And they're all installed, and beautifully level.

So the tile started going into the floor on Tuesday morning. There'd been a glitch at the office, and the secretary hadn't scheduled the tile to be delivered, so Maurice (our hero) drove to the Tile Place, and loaded up his van with the lovely second installment of our wonderful porcelain tiles that had already been installed in the family room and laundry area. This way, they didn't fall behind schedule.

So exciting!!!!

Of course, there was the wee bit of chaos where I realized that we were living in the front hall, and we'd have to move the bookcases that had been housing our Temporary Kitchen v2.0. Now we look like complete refugees in the living room, as I've not been able to organize the extra boxes (oh, and the ironing board, because Ken ran out of shirts, and I've been falling behind on the Happy Home-maker front, and had to scramble to keep up) Anyways, it just looks awful, and I need to take a "sick day" from being a mom/chauffeur/whatever, just so I can get my housekeeping feet back under me.

They worked around part of the temporary kitchen, so I didn't have to move quite so much stuff right away.

The only down-side of tiling in the front hall?

They had to take off the threshold, and leave it off while the mortar cured overnight.

Hello, Rat Entrance!!!

You can believe I stuffed that tightly with a quilt before I headed up to bed that night.

But now it's Day 54, and Maurice and Louis are just finishing up the grout in the entire kitchen/hall area, and the floors look LOVELY!

There... a sneak peek of the kitchen floor, and LOOK! Cabinets! With doors on!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Remodel Day 51. Sink Drama.

On the weekend, Ken and I needed to get stuff done for the kitchen in a big way.

I'd signed the contract for the countertops on Friday, and the only thing holding us up with getting the counters measured was to have the cabinets installed (happened on Saturday and was finished on Monday), and have the sinks on site, so the countertop templates could be drawn with the sink-templates.

So on Sunday afternoon, I took Ken with me (and Kelly came along for the ride), and we went down to the closest place that I'd found that was a dealer for the Vent-A-Hood range hoods (that our electician had recommended), and the Franke sinks, (that Ken and I both wanted to install for sentimental reasons) We'd found them online, so knew what a good price was. And we also knew that there wasn't a whole lot of wiggle-room in the Vent-A-Hood pricing. What we'd found it for online (without shipping) was the same price as that of the appliance store where we were going.

It was a hot afternoon, but I hadn't expected the Sales Guy to be practically dripping with sweat under his tent-like bold Hawaiian shirt.


The sweaty face and hair notwithstanding, Over-Eager Sales Dude sure knew his prices. And he seemed to have a lot of wiggle room in the sinks. It was all Ken and I could do not to dance a jig and twirl each other around in the store when he quoted us a price on the first (larger) sink. The price he initially quoted us for the second (smaller) sink was equally impressive. Easily $30 less than the BEST price we'd been able to find online.

My only concern was that we were kind of in a bit of a time-crunch, and it was possible that these prices were for "delivery within the next three months". That would've really sucked.

Fortunately for us, his next line was "I'm sorry we don't have these in stock, but we will be making a trip to our distributor in the East Bay on Tuesday, and you should have them late Tuesday, or early Wednesday. Will that be OK? I'll phone you tomorrow, just to confirm that we'll have everything ready for you. OK?"


We nearly did cartwheels in the store!

So, Monday morning, I was expecting a phone call in the morning from Sweaty Over Eager Sales Guy.

When noon came, I was a little bit concerned.

By 3pm, I thought I better get the ball rolling myself.

I called SOESG.

Me: Hello, this is Kemma Parker. I'm just calling to confirm the order of 2 Franke sinks and a Vent-A-Hood that I paid for yesterday. Is everything still on track for a Wednesday pick-up?

SOESG: Kemma... Parker...? Oh! Didn't I call you? Let me get your paperwork.... oh... hmmm..... I don't have anything down here. Can I call you back in 15 minutes? I'll have all my ducks in a row then, and will be able to let you know EXACTLY what is going on... geesh, it's been a zoo in here today.

Me: Ok. I'll expect a call in 15 minutes. Thanks!


[insert theme song from Jeopardy here...]

An hour later, still no call.

I called back.

Oh. What a shame, SOESG wasn't around, but if I called back tomorrow, they'd be SURE to let me know where my sinks were.


[insert theme song from Jaws... I'm not liking where this is going]


Yesterday morning, I got right on things.

The first phone call:

Me: Hello, this is Kemma Parker. I'm calling about the status of two sinks and a range hood.

Voice: Um... er... when were these ordered?

Me: I ordered them on Sunday, (and PAID FOR THEM), and SOESG was going to call me yesterday to confirm their arrival time in your store.

Voice: Oh... Let me find your paperwork, and I'll call you back in an hour and let you know what's up.

Me: *handing over cell phone number*


Two hours later? Still no phone call. Anyone surprised?

So I phone again.

Me: Hello, this is Kemma Parker, I called earlier about the status of two sinks and a range hood. Can anyone give me information about the items that I purchased?

Voice: Who helped you?

Me: On Sunday, when I bought the items, it was SOESG. But earlier today, I don't know who I talked to.

Voice: Oh! Here it is. Your hood is here. There is no record of sinks, though. Are you sure?

Me: Oh, I'm sure. The sinks are on our critical path, and SOESG said on Sunday that they would be in by Wednesday.

Voice: OK, let me check on those sinks, and I'll get back to you.

Me: When should I expect a call?

Voice: Oh, just a couple of minutes. I just need to find Bernie.


An hour later, my phone rings.

Me: Hello?

Voice: Hello, this is Bernie. I'm just calling to let you know that your Range Hood is in! Great news!

Me: I was actually waiting to hear on the status of two sinks.

Voice: You ordered 2 sinks?

Me: Yes, and when I spoke with you earlier, someone said that they would call me back with sink information.

Voice (a little huffy): Wel, Ma'am, I can ASSURE you that I did NOT talk to you earlier about a sink. I would have REMEMBERED that conversation.

Me: The "you" was plural. Can you find out any sink information?

Voice: Let me call you back when I get that information.


It's kind of getting funny now, isn't it?


A half hour later, my phone rings.

Voice: Hello, is this Mrs. Parker? Your sinks are here! But it looks like your Range Hood wasn't on the shipment. But it should be coming in late tomorrow. Your sinks can be picked up after 9am tomorrow morning, but your Hood will be some time after 2pm.

I'm so glad we got all that figured out.


So this afternoon, on the way to dance class, Kelly and I made a detour to the appliance store to pick up the sinks and the range hood. I had the back seats down in the van, and was hoping everything would fit. I had NO idea how big the things were, or if they'd be in overly excessive packaging.

Fortunately, after all the phone-drama, the pick-up process was drama-free, and within 3 minutes of pulling into the parking lot, we were pulling out again.

Kelly wasn't even late to her dance class.


After her dance class, she asked if we could take a detour to the mall on the way home. She'd been such a great helper through the afternoon that I couldn't say "no". She wanted to look at all the new Webkinz, so we made a bee-line to the Hallmark Store, where she petted all the new arrivals, and quizzed me on which my favourites were.

On the way out of the mall, I stopped in at Ritz Camera, and picked up a lens cap. Somehow, I've lost the lens cap for my 18-105mm lens, and I just do NOT want that baby to get scratched. I've discovered that I'm pretty rough-and-tumble on the cameras, and the New Kid could use all the protection it can get.


Did you know that PetSmart is on the way from the mall to the house?

Seeing as we didn't buy anything in the Hallmark Store, we had some extra time, and I thought a little walk through to see all the small furry pets would be such fun.

And look!

Dwarf Roborovski Hamsters!

And they're Brand New!

And they're SO Tiny! Half the size of Souffle!

And they're social! They can live together in the same habitat if they're raised together.

And wouldn't it be a fun addition to Kelly's Science Fair Experiment to test the miniatures against the smalls against the bigs?

And they're On Sale!

Sing it with me!

There were never more devoted sisters.....
Never had to have a chaperone... No sir!
I'm going to keep my eye on her....








I jest!

I just took a photo through the glass of the cage.

But Kelly was SO tempted. And so was I, truth be told. They were hand-tame, too.

In the end, I just walked away.

Primarily because I had 4 hamster cages to clean today, and I didn't want to make it 5.

But my sinks!

They're here!

photos to come later...

Remodel Day 49. Brief Tour #2

The guys were BUSY today!

And it was hot, hot, HOT! I tried to keep the fridge full of cold drinks, just so they didn't keel over from heat stroke (and then potentially put dings in my new cabinets when they fell to the ground).

In the morning, I went out and ran errands, including a run to the gym (where they still remembered my name, I was amazed! I've been gone too long.), a cruise through the grocery store (never get groceries right after a work-out, when you're ravenous. That's all I'm saying), a trip to Home Depot to get more primer, and a visit to the store that sold me the windows and door, where I FINALLY learned from them that the reason that ALL the doorknobs that I've bought for the back door haven't fit is because Millgard doors REQUIRE Millgard hardware. Yes, that would've been GOOD TO KNOW before I drove myself nuts trying to find a knob that fit. Oh, and then the Window Guy had the nerve to say "Oh, we didn't order your door hardware because you didn't know what you wanted".

WRONG ANSWER, DUDE, considering that I have my invoice right here that has "ORB" indicated on the Door Line Item. And ORB? Stands for "Oil Rubbed Bronze", not "her eyes were like limpid ORBs, and I couldn't look away".

So, he most graciously (she says, with just a touch of sarcasm) is going to "get right on that".

Yes. I would like to be able to open my back door, considering that it is EIGHTY-Freakin-FIVE degrees inside my house at 10:30 at night.

But that was a digression...

My last stop was Subway, where I snagged $5 Footlongs for OBC and his sidekick Luis. They had to keep up their strength.

And now look what they've done!

They kept their brains occupied by listening to NPR podcasts.

I enjoy a contractor who understands the correct way to listen to podcasts, although I think his daughter is missing her boombox...

I must have broken down an acre of cardboard from all the boxes that the cabinets were delivered in. Tomorrow, I'll be delivering all that cardboard (neatly cut up into uniform pieces, and all address labels removed) to the giant cardboard-recycling dumpster at the middle school.

Remodel Day 49. Brief Tour #1

I just realized I could edit the remodel photos in picnik!

This could get addicting.

Of course, I've been wasting time too much, and now I'm late for picking up the kids, but for the time being, here is a little tour of the getting-put-back-together kitchen.

And there's more where that came from!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Remodel Day 48. Countertop Teaser

Yesterday, we put our "sample" of granite up on top of one of the installed cabinets, to get an idea of how tall the bar-height counter will be.

I think it'll be perfect. Alas, it breaks just a tiny bit into the space where the trim around the kitchen window will be, so it's gonna require just a wee bit of fancy trim-trimming. But I can live with that.

It was fun that the edge of the granite sample is squared off (so convenient for us).

I was pretty amazed that the garnet inclusions, in this light, look exactly the same colour as the cabinet doors.

I also had a bit of an "eek!" moment when I realized that one of the cabinet doors already has a ding in the corner. Our Beloved Contractor says that if it bugs me, he'll send it back, and have them make a new one. But I think that it's only gonna be a matter of days before we're making our own dings, and that's nothing that a little furniture wax won't make perfect again, anyways. Why bother with the small stuff, eh?

Today, Maurice comes back from Central America, and I think that tomorrow the kitchen floors go in. That means that today we should get all the base cabinets installed, and the fridge put back where it belongs... oh wait. It'll have to wait until the tile floor is finished, so scrap that plan. Today, we'll be moving the fridge into the family room, then.

Oh, and I'll be priming some more.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Remodel Day 47. Cabinets!

What were you doing at 4:30am today?

I was running around the house in a panic, wondering why "The Final Countdown" was blaring at full volume from Ken's computer.

Sing along with me...

It's the fiiii-nulllll count-down...
doodle Bump Bump BAHHHHH
doodle Dump Dump Dump Dah-Dummmmmm

Oh, har har har, boy children of mine! Funny joke.

And yes, of course, seeing as you're awake, and perky, and getting along so famously, and you've ALREADY WASHED YOUR HAIR! I would LOVE to take you to Starbucks, where our Youth Pastor is opening the store this morning. He opens 3 days a week, I don't know why you picked This Particular SATURDAY, but I'm happy to do this as a fun "We will remember this morning forever" memory maker.

(I had the healthy pre-dawn breakfast of oatmeal and knitting)

Being the only people in the store at 5:05am has its advantages.

Yum! Crunchberry-flavoured frappe! (It's strawberry-and-creme blended cream with a shot of hazelnut. Sugar-addict's high) Too bad that Starbuck (youth pastor's super-secret code name) was a bit fumbly and the little tester cups fell over like dominos when he put it down at our table. Just leave them there, Buck. I'm sure we can take care of them...

Skip is more of a Lucky Charms kind of guy. He didn't like the Crunchberries.

Back at the house by 6am, I made the boys PROMISE to be quiet upstairs, and sent them up to play Starcraft online against each other, and I got caught up a bit on the blogging and photo organizing.

Just as Ken was getting ready to take the kids off to the Board Game Club meeting, OBC arrived with his truck laden with Cabinet-Installing Goodies!!!!

So before Ken left, he helped Andrew bring in the most awkward of the boxes, which will anchor the kitchen.

*angel chorus breaks through the clouds, and sings*


And then we got to work, or rather, Andrew got to work, and he let me play with a box-cutter knife and break down the cardboard while he put the cabinets into their places.

This is what I'm liking:


Oh, and yesterday, when I was getting the primer, I took a $3.98 chance...

I think these little glass tiles might make a fine accent in an otherwise plain and simple backsplash.


Remodel Day 47. Cinderella

Kelly has discovered "housework", and she couldn't be happier! She thinks it is all that and a bag of chips.

Yesterday, she did 4 loads of laundry.





I just have to teach her how to fold, and I'll never have to touch dirty clothes again.

And while the laundry was running, she asked "Mom? Can I wash the bathroom floor?"

I tell you, how could I possibly say "No" to this face?

And look at how great the tiles are looking?

Too bad I'll have to cover them up today when I prime the bathroom... AGAIN.

When she finished in the bathroom, she wanted to wash MORE floors! So I put her to work on the exposed tile in the family room. And that's when I started calling her "Cinderella", which completely cracked her up! Ken's aunt and uncle (the high-end realtors) were coming by to give us some advice on colours and patterns for the remodel, and I wanted to be able to show off a bit of the finished project. Fortunately, they HIGHLY approved of our tile choice, and granite choice, and they really liked the cabinet door style (I couldn't find the colour samples... (oh poop. Here they are RIGHT BY MY COMPUTER!)) even if the colour wasn't correct.


I think I may have solved the "What colour do I paint everything?" dilemma. Aunt V said that the colour that they're putting into many of their new listings as they're getting ready to go to market is a Kelly Moore paint called "Wise Owl". And if it works for me, she even told me the colour to get for trim: "Swiss Coffee".

If I get through the priming today, I might go and reward myself with a trip to Kelly Moore.

Now... what jobs should I give Cinderella (and her BFF, who had a sleepover last night) to do this morning?

Perhaps a little dusting is in order...

Remodel Day 46. Priming and Granite

Friday was Grandma's last day at our house.

She knew that she'd be having an evening flight, and that she'd be up pretty late once she got home, just waking up her house, and checking her mail, so she suggested that she have a longer afternoon nap, while I ran errands with Kelly. I had a pretty long list, so I took her up on it.

Andrew (OBC*) had mentioned earlier in the week that he would like to start installing cabinets on Saturday, and that it would be good if the kitchen was primed before that started.

The drywallers had been in the house for much of the week, fixing the walls, and Friday morning was the owner's final inspection of the finished product. I pointed out that there were gaps in the front room where the pony-walls had been removed, so he had one of his minions show up at noon to take care of those patches with quick-setting drywall patch, and then the "magic touch" with their drywall trowels, laying on texture so that you'd never know that the wall hadn't always looked like that.

So, while mom napped, Kelly and I ran off for errands.

First stop was Walgreens, to pick up photos from the excursions that we'd gone on with her. Mom still uses a film camera, but I can see her eyeing what we were able to do with our digitals, and the one-hour stop, where you only buy the shots that you're happy with intrigued her.

Then Kelly and I went off to Home Depot to get 2 gallons of Kilz primer (but not the eye-killingly oil-based one), and a Wagner Paint-Mate roller.

I love those things! Their reservoir handles make painting a breeze. Kelly also managed to get a cactus AND a beautiful african violet while we were there. How did that happen?

Then, seeing as we were close, we popped into the pet food store to check for Veggie Puffs. They're great hand-feeding treats for the hammies, and Kelly was out. Alas, that store didn't carry them, so we were FORCED to go to ANOTHER pet store to look. And this store had beautiful little dwarf hamsters...








Oh, come on! Don't you think I have ANY restraint? We just looked. And chatted with a sales associate about hamsters, and their habits. He said that Campbells (the kind we have) are indeed so nippy and bite-y and territorial that his colleagues are afraid to reach into the cages, so the fact that Oreo and Souffle are so gentle speaks to Kelly's 'way with animals'. Well! You should've seen her float out of that store... (but not before we bought a new supply of Veggie Puffs and a squeaky wire exercise wheel that's big enough for S'more to fit into. We'll need it for the "Testing the Syrian Hamster' portion of the Science Fair Project.)

Our last stop was at a local granite fabricator. We decided on our countertops, and Ken wanted to make sure that we marked our territory before anyone else bought the slabs out from under us.

I have a big chunk of the countertop granite, but the photo doesn't do it justice.

(this is before I had Cinderella wash the tile, so everything still looks dusty and grey)

I'll take our chunk out into the sunshine later today, and see if I can't get a better shot of it. It's quartz and mica, with dark mossy-green tourmaline needles scattered randomly, AND... it's got garnet sprays in it. And since garnet is the birthstone for Skip and Kelly, we thought it appropriate for our kitchen.

Ken also picked out his marble for the baking center, but my little chunk of that doesn't do anything for me. It's the big picture that's going to be fantastic. The onyx inclusions look like a little slice of Jupiter, and in one corner, there's a bit that looks like the Eiffel Tower (that's what they called the slab, too, because of this one inclusion). But my 'sample piece' doesn't have anything interesting on it. It's just so I can carry it around, and check for colour matching.

We got home from our errands just in time to take mom to the airport, and then we picked up Kelly's BFF on the way home, and I put the girls to work.

Prime for your supper, ladies!

Hey! I fed her, it's not like I'm making her work for FREE or anything.

And while they did the easy stuff, I primed the ceiling... which is now VERY much taller than it was before (back when Ken could touch it with his elbow).

Wowza, you can really tell where I primed, and where I didn't. I was still priming at midnight, and we have no light in the kitchen, except for a weeny little Ikea $10 stick-lamp, so I was kind of guessing a lot. I'll have to do touch-ups this morning.

And there always has to be some insurmountable frustration, doesn't there? And this is it for this painting session: In all my years of painting with a Wagner Paint-Mate, I have never had one that leaks... until last night.

And of COURSE, I was painting the ceiling.

Completely unsuspecting...

Until *PLOP*! A big old blob of primer fell down and hit me SQUARE on my widow's peak. Right at the hairline. Surprised the living daylights out of me, and I shrieked. Kelly came running, and ran and grabbed a paper towel, which she then proceded to rub all over my scalp, trying to get the paint out.

And then she took a step back.

"You know, mom, it kind of blends in. It's hardly noticeable... WITH ALL THAT GREY"

Yes, thank you, compassionate daughter of mine.

I think the white streak makes me look kind of distinguished this morning... just so long as I don't have to run a comb through it.

*Our Beloved Contractor

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Remodel Day 39. Primer!

Ken has The Littles at Kung Fu, and Skip is upstairs conquering some alien galaxy in Starcraft, and so it is up to me today to get a little bit of the Remodel List knocked off.

Today, I will be priming the downstairs bathroom (the one I "accidentally" peeled all the paint in), so the drywall guys can re-texture the walls next week when they're getting all the walls in the kitchen and family room done.

Our Beloved Contractor (OBC) had offered to do it himself, but he was willing to let me do it "to save the cost of his labour", which I am sure isn't chicken feed. He bought all the supplies, and left them in the bathroom, where they've been staring at me since Thursday afternoon.

So, this morning, I buckled down, and got to work. No more procrastinating. The drywall guys had already laid rosin paper down in the bathroom, so I didn't need to tape off the floor, or anything, so it was just Work, Work, Work.

Or so you would think.

I gave the can of Kilz Primer a good shake, and then opened it, and poured out a good portion into the paint roller pan.

And then my right eye started to water.

How annoying.

I wiped it, and loaded up the roller with primer.

As I stood up to start priming the first wall, my left eye started to burn, and then it started watering, too.

Well, nuts.

I wiped BOTH eyes, and got to work.

I hadn't primed half a wall, before my nose started gushing.

So there I was, painting a few swipes, and then wiping at my eyes and nose. Loading up the roller, blowing my nose. Painting over the nasty paint-scraping job I'd done, and swiping at my eyes with my sweatshirt sleeve.

Until it got so bad that I had to leave the room.

Well, nuts! This is going to take WAY longer than I thought. But instead of calling it an interruption, I decided to call it "breakfast", so I left things open in the bathroom (and did I mention that the fan is running full-blast the whole time?), and went and had a few pieces of toast while my waterworks slowly shut down.

It's now been an hour and a half, and I'm STILL not finished priming in that little room. How annoying! It's really quite maddening the tiny amount that one can accomplish when reduced to 3-minute shifts. And now, my eyes start running if I even get NEAR the bathroom door. I don't even have to enter the room to start up the gushing-reaction.

So I guess I'm either allergic to Kilz Oil Based Primer, or (as always suspected) I'm allergic to hard work.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Speedy Rodents!

So, it's Science Fair time again.

Over the past years, we've managed to avoid the hub-bub of Science Fair, even though I *know* that it's a great experience, and wonderful for the kids, and what a great idea, and look at all the SCIENCE that the kids are doing, bla bla bla, yadda yadda yadda. You see, the Science Fair stuff that I've seen so far in this school district has been at either end of the "My mom/dad is a genetic researcher and therefore, my science fair project is on the Teleomerase Response of the xd-298J Gene, the research for which I completed at their multi-million dollar facility" to "Mentos and Diet Coke... again" spectrum. Either you can tell that the kid had a PILE of help from science-savvy adults, or there's no real science happening. Yeah, this is the sound of me making excuses.

Skip avoided Science Fairs until last year, when they became mandatory in 7th Grade as part of the grading process.

I kind of thought that Kelly might follow in his footsteps.

But that's the curse of having motivated friends... her BFF wants to do a Science Fair Project, and she wants to do it with Kelly. And Kelly's drunk the Kool-Aid, and is totally on board.

Of course, the topic? HAMSTERS! It's *got* to have something to do with hamsters, mom! Wouldn't that be the best!? And what could we test? We've got FOUR hamsters, and we've got males and females (I think!), so that would be a good test, but what can we test? Can we make a maze? Can we do something with their food? What can we test?

So I had a little chat with Alice's mother, and we decided to take a look around at what sort of things might be fun for 9 year old girls to study about Hamsters.

(as an unfortunate aside, for those of you playing the "Hamster Babywatch 2009" home game, it turns out that S'more is not, in fact, pregnant this round, which kind of stinks, because that would've made an EXCELLENT genetics project: What are the prevalences of certain colour types in the offspring of a mating between a wild-type coloured female and a cinnamon coloured male?)

One of the first things I found when I was looking online was this:

Seriously! Probably one of the funniest things I've seen. I could watch those little guys for HOURS!

And it got me thinking...

The girls would have a BLAST putting the various hamsters in the wheel to see who ran the fastest. They could test whether boys ran faster than girls, and whether Syrian hamsters run faster than Dwarf Campbells... or whether they run faster/slower when compared to their size. They could WEIGH the hamsters, and MEASURE the hamsters, and then put them in a wheel and see what happens...

So last night, we rigged up something with a bike computer that we picked up at Target for $15. Yes, it was a bit of a splurge, but I foresee HOURS of fun...

Here's the initial set-up. The wheel is taped down to the bottom of the storage bin, and the read-out screen is taped up near the top where the hamsters can't get at it.

Here, Souffle is just getting up to speed.

And now he's got a good head of steam. See? He's breaking the 4 kilometer per hour speed limit! Slow down, buddy! In the end, he managed a whopping Maximum Speed of 4.5 kmH

Then we spruced up the 'test environment' a bit with some soft-wood shavings and a food dish, and moved Souffle out and put Oreo in.

It took her a while to get used to the surroundings, and she spent a bunch of time just stepping into the wheel, and stepping out, walking a few steps in the wheel, cleaning herself, checking out the seeds, marking her territory, that sort of girl-stuff.

But then she got down to business...

And look at that! She managed to push the envelope, and ended up with a final Maximum Speed of 5.1 kmH.

That girl can fire up the jets!

The rig still needs some fine-tuning. And right now, it's just set up for the dwarf hamsters to run in. But I think Alice's dad has another bike computer/speedometer, and if so, we can set up one of the bigger wheels for Cheddar and S'more to run in.

I think I might just like Science Fair season, after all.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Remodel Day 37. Catch up. With cabinets!

OH man, I am SO far behind in my little 'documentary'.

Crazily enough, each and every day, I'm taking pictures, and thinking "oh, this is a watershed moment! But I'll *REMEMBER IT* and I can write it down *later*"


I am an idiot.



I may have gotten a little bit carried away with paint this morning. I bought another paint sample (This time, Behr's 'Pecan Sandie'. Looked good in the store on the paint chip. More 'beige' than I thought I wanted, but Behr doesn't seem to have many coffee-coloured taupes in its broad selection.)

But you put that sucker on the wall?


Hello! I live in a creamsicle.

(Well, phooey. It looks all neutral and lovely in this picture - it's the colour on the left - but trust me, in the cold hard light of day? that sucker's ORANGE!)

Oh, and the colour on the right?

That is also the 3rd-from-the-top chip on the left of the two colour palettes. Here's a close look at the paint chips:

It's called "Indian Painting", and is one shade lighter than the Chatham Tan that we put up on Kelly's wall when we painted her room brown and turquoise last year. I'd bought Chatham Tan AND Indian Painting, just in case the Chatham Tan was atrociously dark. It wasn't, so we ended up with this extra gallon of paint kicking around in the garage - this was before I learned the magical economy of BUYING A SAMPLE JAR FIRST.

And this morning, well, I might just have gotten a few too many Remodeling Fumes up my nose, because I got this wild hair that seeing as we already HAD this gallon of paint, we should maybe USE this gallon of paint, but all I had was the little 4-inch wide tester-painter roller, so you can imagine that things took a little longer when I decided to see what that colour would look like all along the upstairs hallway walls...

Yes. Say goodbye to the "I live inside a canteloupe" walls...

No photos of that. But I did "test" the colour in the living room... sort of.

In this (incredibly cluttered) photo, you can see the "Wheat Bread" on the half-wall in the foreground (I think it's just a little too cold in this room. It has a very gun-metal feel to it... not good with the limited light we get there), and the Indian Painting on the middle-range half-wall. In the background is Indian Saffron, which looks atrociously orange in this light, but is really barely a hint of yellow, and pops nicely against the white-white trim in real life.

You know, the more I look at it, the more I'm liking the Indian Painting. We'll see how I feel about it in the morning.

Anyways, I was getting a little carried away with the paint brush this morning, when I heard a beep-beep-beeping in the front yard, so I ran out with my camera (of course), to discover that it was time for the debris box to go back to wherever it came from.

A little disconcerting was the vast amount of liquid that came gushing out of the box when it was tipped up just a little bit more than it is now (it looks all tippy in this photo, but it's not even horizontal, owing to the steep-ish slope of our driveway). Of course, I watch too much CSI, because my first, I mean my VERY FIRST thought was "oh no! that better not be some liquified human remains gushing out of the back of that debris box!"

(somebody needs to watch less TV)


More beep-beep-beeping, as a semi pulled into the neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, he wasn't supposed to arrive until after lunch, so the crew that Our Beloved Contractor had hired wasn't around, so it was up to Truck Driver, Beloved Contractor, and myself.

*flexes muscles*

Ten minutes later...

And those tubes? They're full of moulding, and spacers, and all those constructionny sorts of thigns, but I just KNOW that my kids are going to go NUTS when they get to PLAY WITH THEM once they're empty.

Heck, I'm thinking that it's going to be a hoot to play with the empty tubes!