Thursday, June 30, 2011

Everything in its Place

If she could talk, I believe she would be saying something like, "Don't you know anything, Mom? Dirty laundry goes on the FLOOR, duh!"

Scarlett at the Creek

She is 11 months and 10 days old in this pic.  I can't believe she's approaching a year already.

Oddities and 132 Floods

There have been some odd things about this house. Even before we purchased it, actually.  We expected a few surprises, since this was a bank-owned home and no one was taking care of it.  But it's been a little crazy.

We saw the house twice before making an offer. Neither time anything had changed. However, between the time we made the offer and the time we closed, some odd things happened.

During our final walk-through, I heard water running. After some investigation, Jeremy pulled a strip of gauze (yes, like what doctors use to wrap wounds) out of the tank of the downstairs toilet  The gauze had been stuffed between the valve and tank bottom, causing the toilet to run constantly. Then we noticed the toilets that were previously all loose had been tightened so they no longer moved when you sat on them. And the cockeyed plastic wrap dispenser was removed from the wall of the kitchen. Weird stuff, right?

After we moved in, the weirdness continued. When Jeremy went to turn the sprinklers on, he found the connecting pipe between the house and the sprinkler system outside was gone. GONE. A single 4-inch pipe just missing.

As I was cleaning the mouse poop out of the back of one of the lower cabinets in the kitchen (thank god that's the only thing the bank missed when it got this house ready for sale), I found that the previous residents had removed a panel between one set of cabinets and the other, and there was stuff in there. A closer look revealed a measuring cup, a piece of tupperware and three plastic grocery bags neatly rolled up and tied VERY tightly. Now, what would you think if you found three plastic bags tied up like little mojo pouches? I put them in the trash immediately. But after about ten minutes, my curiosity got the better of me. I carefully untied and unrolled one of them... only to find absolutely nothing inside. At that point I was sure the previous residents were NUTS.

One oddity that really had nothing to do with the house, the timing was just bad, is that the speakers stopped working on our big flatscreen TV. Jeremy had convinced me to get the extended warranty on it three years ago when we bought it, and we put it to good use this week. Of course, when the Geek Squad guy came out, he found that it was actually the crappy cable box Comcast had given us that caused the problem. All fixed now.

Beyond the oddities, we have had a hell of a time with appliances requiring the use of water. First, we couldn't find anyone to install the water line on our new fridge. We still don't have the water/ice dispenser working.

Second, the dishwasher we got had problem after problem. It didn't come with several of the parts that were necessary to install it, so Jeremy had to go and buy those parts to get the darn thing working. The first time we ran it, it flooded the floor and water was dripping down the walls of our finished basement. After we got THAT leak fixed and tried to run it again, it flooded the floor again (though we caught it earlier this time so it didn't go through the ceiling downstairs).  Jeremy found that Appliance Factory Outlet had left a drain plug loose. The third time it flooded our kitchen, we found there was a plug in the disposal that was supposed to be removed for the water to drain from the hose. Once we got all of that sorted out, we thought for sure we had it working -- and then it started leaking from the door handle. THE DOOR HANDLE. Thank goodness it's still under warranty and the retailer is sending a repair man out tomorrow.

As if that weren't enough, we found that mice had been living in our washer and dryer that we had been storing in the garage in Lafayette (that house already had a washer and dryer). So I spent a good hour vacuuming out poop and scrubbing them both, inside and out, with bleach. We got them hooked up and working, and had an empty, bleach-filled load running in the washer tonight when I heard Jeremy yell "SHIT!" two floors below me. I ran downstairs (thank goodness the baby is a deep sleeper), and found him splashing in the puddle that was our kitchen. The damn washer had flooded the laundry room and the water was quickly rushing into the kitchen. The worst part of that is the bleach-filled water also went down the walls and into the floor, and started flooding Jeremy's comic room -- right where he was keeping his most expensive comics. We got very lucky in that nothing was damaged. And it turned out to only be that the drainage hose jumped out of the drainpipe when the washer went on the spin cycle, so we needed to secure the hose better.

Jeremy is losing his mind with all this stuff. And I'm to the point where all I can do is laugh. So tomorrow Jeremy is going to find a good handyman for the last few things that need to be done around here. We'd ideally like to find someone we can put on speed dial. LOL

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summertime

I took this the other day when Scarlett and I were having our lunch outside. This is mainly for posterity -- she'll be fully weaned in a few weeks.




Sunday, June 26, 2011

Third Anniversary

Though our anniversary was actually on Tuesday this past week (June 21 -- midsummer -- summer solstice -- longest day of the year), we didn't get to properly celebrate until this weekend.

My parents offered to watch Scarlett for the weekend, so we dropped her off at noon on Saturday.  Then we went and stuffed ourselves silly on pancakes at IHOP.  After we were bursting out of our jeans, we went to the theater and saw Green Lantern.  It was good!  Ryan Reynolds never disappoints me.

We were going to see two movies that day, but we decided a nap would be more fun.  So we went home and, for the first time since Scarlett was born, took a long, leisurely nap together.  It was bliss.

Dinner was champagne.  Awesome, right?  And we got some work done on the new house since we didn't have a baby to attend to.  Finally we got Just Go With It from RedBox and curled up on our big cozy couch in our "after-baby's-in-bed cave", aka downstairs.  Great movie.  Great champagne.

We slept in Sunday morning and I thought I would die of happiness.  It's been two weeks of very little sleep for the both of us, so sleeping in felt soooooo good.  When we got up, we had just enough time to get ready and go get Scarlett from my parents' house.

The baby had a fun weekend, too, it seems.  My parents said they had a blast with her, and Scarlett was in an awesome mood when I got there.  I'm thrilled to know everyone is so comfortable in that situation.  Because now I'm going to make my parents take her for weekends ALL THE TIME!  (wink, wink, Mom)

Missing Brains and Moola

Braiiiiinzzzzz.  Braiiiiinzzzz.

No, I have not turned into a zombie.  I'm just looking for my brains.

The carpeting in the new house got installed on Tuesday (we do NOT recommend Home Depot for carpet installation, btw), the duct cleaning guy and the cable guy came out on Weds, and the new house was livable by Thurs.  We had until Saturday to move from Lafayette to Northglenn and turn in the rental keys.  It was CRAZY, I tell you.

But the move is done.  We're completely out of the Lafayette house.  Our house in Northglenn looks like a tornado hit it, but all of our stuff is finally here.  Jeremy, Chad and I (when I wasn't working) literally spent all of Thursday, Friday and Saturday getting the Lafayette house cleaned out, cleaned up, and ready for the owners to move back in.  Let me tell you how hard it is to clean a house with a baby strapped to you.  We are counting on our security deposit to help pay for some of the repairs on the new house, so we did  the best job we could in such a short period of time.

I would like to say that life should get back to normal, now, but we still have a ways to go.  The unpacking should be pretty easy -- that's actually the part of moving I enjoy the most. But there are still some  repairs to be done, some installations to do, etc.

And in order to pay for all of this, I've gotta get PAID.  Which means kicking @$$ at the day job and pulling in freelance work.  It takes work to get work, ya know.

Speaking of freelance-type stuff, I will soon have some artwork on display at the ever-awesome Sacred Grounds Coffee in the Canyon coffee shop in Colorado Springs. If you haven't been to the gorgeous little shop in Cheyenne Canyon, you're missing out.  Here's the address: 1801 Cheyenne Blvd., Colorado Springs.  I'll holler when my work is on display.  Yes, all the pieces will be for sale. 

I've got several pitches out to clients right now, but no new writing work.  I've also been working on some kids' coloring-page samples for one client in Texas, so I'd like to finish those up this week.  With luck that will turn into a new assignment (and my illustration work pays the best out of everything, so I'm praying hard for it).

The portrait commission is inches away from being done.  I have some small changes to make to it, that I was hoping to get to this weekend but didn't due to this CRAZY MOVE.

I've been considering going back into writing for new age/spiritual publications.  It's been years since I've done it, but I was really good at it and I had some great clients.  The thing about that type of work, though, is that the clips are hard to use in my portfolio.  Showing aromatherapy article clips to a grocery store chain in the South doesn't do a whole lot to sell me as a "serious" writer.  New age writing really is a niche gig.  And that's why I always wrote under a pseudonym.  Which then makes it that much harder to use the clips.  But at this point, money is money.  If I have the time to pursue that work, I probably will. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Off the Meds

I am completely off of all antidepressants now.  And boy I feel good.

It only took two weeks to wean off of Celexa, and there were no withdrawal symptoms.

As soon as I was completely off of Celexa, I started the process of getting off of Wellbutrin.  That took about two weeks also, but it was MISERABLE.  The withdrawal symptoms were horrible.  Sudden and severe fatigue, wavering appetite, and the worst part -- creepy crawlies up my back.  I had the sensation you get right before you shiver, without the shiver.  For a week solid.  It was awful! 

But now that all of that is over and the medications are out of my system, I feel like ME again.  I'm glad I tried the antidepressants, so I know what they do for me now, but it would take a lot for me to go back on them again. 

In hindsight, I think I hit a slump -- probably due to hormone shifts and change in lifestyle after having the baby -- and I think I was depressed, but I don't think you could say it was "depression".  I think I would have recovered without medical assistance, though it might have taken longer.  I don't know, though.  The term "depression" is thrown about with such ease nowadays.  By a lot of looser definitions, I did have post-partum depression -- but knowing myself, I think it was just a natural slump.

Move in Progress

To call this week a whirlwind would be an understatement.

Jeremy spent the week working on the new house. He painted, replaced lightbulbs and outlet covers, met with the A/C repairman, moved several loads of our stuff into the house, even installed some lights. There is still lots to be done, but he really accomplished a lot. We are about halfway moved in already.

While Jeremy took care of the home repairs and moving, I worked at home with the baby. That was an accomplishment in itself -- especially with how busy my work schedule was. For my day job I had a week filled with constant requests from the marketing team, I completed a huge project that had been on my plate for months, kissed the marketing team's booboos (aka spent hours convincing them that lower numbers of customer calls was a GOOD thing when our online orders were booming) -- and then of course completed my daily tasks on top of all of that. After hours, I completed my latest article (a back to school piece for August web content), spent some time doing administrative tasks for GlobalWrites, completed the portrait commission I've been working on since May, and sent off a dozen pitches.

Oh yeah, and I packed up the rental, started on the move-out repairs and cleaning, transferred all our utilities and changed our address.

Sleep is for suckers.

Seriously, though, I'm feeling it. My brain is hardly functioning at this point. I'm completely absentminded. I lose track of thoughts mid-sentence and can't seem to locate simple words when I'm speaking. I am ready for a BREAK after all this.

My mom came to help out on Wednesday, thank goodness. Jeremy and I both are so in a routine, we forget we have family close by that is more than willing to give us a hand. So when they offer, it's like DUH, I can't believe I didn't think to ask! So while I was on several conference calls on Wednesday, my mom watched the baby.

We took a break that afternoon to walk to the park, where we met up with friends I met in Mommy & Me -- Jen and Baby Owen, and Erin and Baby Oliver. I can't believe how big those boys have gotten in the month Scarlett and I have been away from class!

Wednesday night my mom, Scarlett and I went to dinner at Huckleberry. I proceeded to devour an entire bowl of butternut squash ravioli with sage sauce and a glass of mango cinnamon iced tea, and Scarlett spent twenty minutes entertaining herself with a lemon wedge. Then my mom and I picked out three desserts to take home to share with Jeremy when he returned from working on the new house. I insisted on the blackberry pie -- it's the closest to my mom's recipe I've ever found. The Huckleberry is definitely a place worth coming back to Louisville for.

My brother Chad helped Jeremy do a ton of moving on Thursday, and he came back and helped me out with the baby Friday morning and then spent the rest of Friday helping Jeremy move furniture again. My family rocks.

Jeremy's family rocks, too, though, let's not forget! They bought us a fridge, stove and dishwasher for the new house as a housewarming gift. Wahoo!

We went through this whole rigamarole with Home Depot regarding carpeting over the last two weeks. They advertise in their store that carpeting a 10x10 foot area costs a total of $230 (or some amount close to that) if you choose one of 6 in-stock carpets. Yeah, that's BS. But long story short, we are getting the basement and lower stairs carpeted. Yay! No more ugly pale faux-stone tile as of Tuesday!

Drew, Lisa and Chad came up tonight. Drew and Lisa hadn't seen our new house yet, so we gave them the tour and then we all went out to dinner. We found the best Indian restaurant, and it's only 3 miles away! Seriously, it is better than the Indian restaurant we went to religiously with Jeremy's family in the Springs. I made myself sick with how much I ate. Poor Scarlett, though -- we went to dinner later than planned, so she was up past her bedtime. She lasted about 20 minutes before she started throwing her toys (somewhat good-naturedly), then getting cranky, and then finally becoming so completely delirious that she entertained the entire restaurant with a one-baby comedy show.

So here I am at 1am on Sunday morning, attempting to get all of this into my blog before my brain completely melts down. I hope to get back to regular blogging soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Family Home

The last week has been a whirlwind.  We closed on our new house on Friday -- a 2 1/2 hour long process, thanks to more feet-dragging by the bank selling the house.  But in the end, we had the keys to our first family home.

Jeremy got to work right away.  We had spent all of Thursday night at Home Depot, so he had plenty to get him going on the home repairs.  Jeremy's family came up to see the house Friday evening, and after dinner at Cinzetti's, Frankie stayed with us to help Jeremy for the rest of the weekend.  Pretty much the entire interior needed paint, so I haven't seen either of the guys much since Friday.  Frankie was here on a good weekend, actually, because I had some recipes to test out for an article, so he got to be a taste-tester for the coffee cake I made.

We have two weeks to get the major stuff done on the Northglenn house and move in, I've got an article due on Weds and a potential new client in the next few days (more info on that coming soon -- but all I can tell you right now is they're in the hotel/spa industry), my quarterly business report presentation for my day job is next week, and the baby has to stay with me while Jeremy is working on the new house -- so needless to say you have a pretty stressed out blogger here.  But hey, it's two weeks.  I'll survive.  That's what wine at night and and coffee during the day are for, right?  LOL

Every time I see our new house, I love it even more.  So I am UBER EXCITED to finally move in.  Comcast is coming out on the 21st to set up the cable and internet, so after that I will be working from the Northglenn house and pretty much staying there full time, I think.  The 21st is also our 3rd anniversary, so we're not sure how we're going to fit in a celebration with all the craziness -- but we will make it happen, one way or another. 

We met our neighbors on the east side Friday night.  A really friendly couple, probably in their 40's, with two teenage sons that are there only part time.  The man told us to let him know if we needed help with anything, or wanted to borrow tools.  I can't tell you how much it means to me to know that we at least have great neighbors on one side.  Until the Lafayette house, I had never had good neighbors, and that was one of the reasons it was breaking my heart to move.  I'm still going to miss Lafayette, and this neighborhood, but my heart isn't breaking quite so bad now.

I am thrilled that we'll be all settled in to the Northglenn house by the time our family schedule really gets insane.  Jeremy's and Scarlett's birthdays are both in July, our annual family reunion in Lake Tahoe is in August, my birthday is in September, and we're traveling to Disneyworld and Universal Studios in Florida with Jeremy's family in October.  And then it's Thanksgiving, then Christmas... yeah, pretty much starting in late June with our anniversary, the last half of every year is complete madness for us.  I'm happy we won't be moving during that time.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Home to Call Our Own, New Assignments and More Teeth

First thing, let me announce that we FINALLY HAVE A CLOSING DATE for our new home in Northglenn.  We're closing Friday morning -- which gives us just over 2 weeks to fix the house up and move in.  Fun times.  But really, we're extremely excited.  We want to have Scarlett's first birthday in our new house, and now it looks like it will happen!

Today I also received a new web content writing assignment for one of GlobalWrites' regular clients.  I'm stoked to have more writing work.  I initially had two illustration assignments as well, but long story short they got put in the "future file" for now.

I am almost done with the family portrait commission.  I am just putting the finishing touches on it.  I am so looking forward to sending that to the family that hired me -- they will love it. And the background they chose is so gorgeous, I am encouraging them to choose a gallery wrapping rather than traditional framing to show it off.  When it is in the hands of the new owners, I will post a JPG here in this blog and on my art blog for you to enjoy.

I have transitioned off of Celexa completely now.  That was a pretty easy process -- no real withdrawal symptoms.  But I'm currently transitioning off of Wellbutrin and BOY it's a different story.  Ugh.  Horrible.  Extreme fatigue, muddle-headedness, and a chronic creepy-crawly feeling along my spine -- not fun.

Scarlett sprouted two more teeth since my last post.  That makes a total of 6 teeth in a week and a half.  She's finally through the worst of it, though, and sleeping normally again.  I realize that her "not normal" would be considered a godsend for some people, so I don't take her awesomeness for granted.  She stopped waking in the middle of the night completely about 6 weeks ago -- so even during the worst of her teething, she sleeps from 7pm until at least 6am.  Her normal, non-teething wake-up time is 7:30am.  Please don't shoot me, fellow moms.  I got lucky with this kiddo.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Puppy Love









Baby Teeth, Still Homeless and Day at the Lake

Scarlett got a total of 4 new teeth this week.  While I was in Moab, she got the two on either side of her bottom front teeth, and then over the last two days her top front teeth came through.  So needless to say she's been a bit off-kilter.  We've noticed a pattern that seems to be holding steady -- she wakes up at the crack of dawn on the couple of days leading up to a tooth pushing through.  So her teething is painful for all of us.

Our house situation is still in limbo.  The seller's agent was supposed to fax over one last piece of paperwork to the title company on Friday, and apparently the agent kept faxing the wrong paper.  This whole experience has been a comedy of errors.  Our realtor is the only person involved who isn't a complete moron.  In fact, I wish I could do something to thank her for continuing to work so hard to get this closing done for us.  She has been on the phone with all the players every day since the day our closing was pushed out, and she has emailed or called us daily with updates.  We've never felt in the dark about any of what was going on.  I've had a few realtors in my life, and she is by far the best.

Our family celebrated my mom's birthday today by gathering at Cherry Creek Reservoir.  All 8 of us met up at Drew's new house (which looks so awesome since he's been working on fixing it up) and carpooled to the reservoir from there.  All the guys and Lisa went fishing while my mom, Scarlett and I went for a walk.  Poor baby was really hurting from the last tooth pushing through this morning, so I gave her an apple core to chew on.  That works better than any teething ring, I tell you!  Scarlett was very excited when we came across a Canada goose and her 3 goslings on one of the beaches.  When we got back to where the rest of the family was fishing, I left Scarlett with them and my dad and I went for another walk while my mom rested her feet.  Between hiking in Moab last weekend and both long walks today, I think I worked off two weeks' worth of calories.  LOL

Moab Trip -- Part 2

Yes, I’m finally getting around to writing the rest of the Moab trip. You know how traveling vacations are – you need a vacation to recover from them!

Saturday morning we went to breakfast at the B&B at 7:45am, before Nicole, the caretaker, started serving the food. We got ourselves a cup of coffee and a banana from the kitchen and sat out back on the hammock chairs, enjoying the bird songs. It was a heavenly way to start the day. At 8am, Nicole started serving breakfast. She made French toast with a crunchy exterior (it must have been some kind of cereal she dipped the pieces of toast in) and smothered in maple syrup and fresh fruit. Soooo good.



After that, we hit the road. Arches National Park was only about two miles up the road from our B&B, and it only cost $5 for a week’s pass. Like one of the other B&B residents said to us at breakfast, “The national parks are one of the things this country really did right.” Our first stop in the park was the visitor’s center, where we picked up maps and plotted our day in the park.

The park is about a 30 minute drive from end to end, if you don’t stop. Our plan was to go to the far end of the park and hike to Landscape Arch first – but as we drove, we couldn’t resist stopping at some of the places along the way.



The parking lot at Landscape Arch trailhead was already full at 9:30am. But we found road parking and were able to quickly make our way to the trailhead from there. The day was cool and there were enough clouds that we didn’t get overheated on the hike. The rock formations were breathtaking, and the red rocks really stood out with the blue sky in the background.



After Landscape Arch, we headed back south and stopped to view the Fiery Furnace and Balanced Rock, viewing the petrified sand dunes along the way.

Our final hike was to the Windows Arches. It was afternoon before we got there, so we were battling throngs of tourists for parking and trail space. There were enough rock formations and arches in that area to more than satisfy our desire for interesting photos – but we were both really disgusted with the behavior of the tourists in that area. There were dozens of people crawling all over the North and South Windows arches, and enough in Turret Arch to make it difficult to get photos without people in them. It’s bad enough that we couldn’t view these natural wonders without rude people using them as a playground, but it hurt my heart to think of the damage these people were doing to the very delicate ecosystem.




We left Arches in the mid-afternoon and went to a late lunch in downtown Moab. Many locals had recommended the Slickrock Café, so we took their advice and checked it out. We were warned when we sat down that the kitchen was backed up, so the food would be slow. We weren’t in any hurry, so we thought it would be no big deal. But then our silly waitress introduced herself and we knew we were in trouble. We were pretty sure she was high. LOL. She was extremely scatterbrained, but very friendly, so we couldn’t do much but laugh. It took about an hour for us to get our food, but I had one of the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had in my life.

After lunch we wandered over to the art festival that was going on that weekend. It was more of a crafts festival – there weren’t a whole lot of fine art pieces for sale. But there were a lot of interesting things to look at, and many things I wish I had had the money to buy. We weren’t there long before the wind picked up and signaled that it was time to go back to the B&B for a rest.

I made reservations at the Desert Bistro for 8pm, so we got to take a nice long nap before dinner. I was excited to go to a place where I had to dress up. I feel like I live in sweats these days. The Desert Bistro was AMAZING, top to bottom. We sat outside on their patio, watching the sun go down over the red rocks, listening to the wind in the trees above us. The waitress was probably the best I’ve ever seen. If I hadn’t seen her waiting on other people, I would have sworn we were her only table. And the FOOD. WOW. I had a butter lettuce salad with red pears and jicama, mahi mahi that melted in my mouth, and wine that finished the meal to perfection.

On Sunday we got another early start. Nicole made quiche with red peppers that morning, and the protein was just what we needed to fuel up for a hike in Negro Bill Canyon. The trail went through a canyon and criss-crossed a big stream. It was beautiful, and shaded from the desert heat by lots of trees and towering rock formations. There was one point where you actually had to walk through the stream (no bridge) to get to the trail on the other side, and neither of us were wearing waterproof shoes, so we took our shoes off and walked across barefoot. The stream was cold, and felt so good on the hot day. Unfortunately, we didn’t hike much longer before we hit another stream-crossing that my mom couldn’t make it across, so we had to turn back. We still got a good 3-mile hike in, though.







We went to downtown Moab after the hike. We found a place that served ice cream and coffee, and sat outside for a bit with our treats. Then we shopped. And shopped. And shopped. I got Jeremy a Moab Dirt shirt, and Scarlett a Moab Dirt hat – popular tourist items, since they are dyed using the local red desert dirt. After shopping, we went to a late lunch at the Peace Tree Café. The food was again stellar, but the service was horrible. They were obviously not prepared for the number of patrons that day.

The wind picked up pretty severely in the late afternoon, which squashed our plans to walk around the art festival again. So instead we relaxed in our room at the B&B and drank some of the wine that the owner left in the fridge for us.

We took the normal Hwy 191 route home from Moab on Monday, instead of the scenic Hwy 128 route. We stayed just ahead of the storm pushing over from the west, so the drive was uneventful. And when I saw Scarlett that evening, I got to see her two new teeth!