Apr 12, 2015: Spring Break Bust!

Okay, sorry for the delay in blogging, but I was bone-tired last night! And no, it was not from living it up on an awesome Spring Break. In fact, our Spring Break was mostly a bust, due to sick kids. I had all sorts of little things planned for Theo—a couple of playdates, a bowling date with me, a visit from Grandma Kathy and Papa, etc. But first he got sick, and then as soon as he got better, Sam got sick.

Luckily, though, my one big plan for Spring Break still happened: On Wednesday, Theo and I got up very early and drove into San Francisco for a private tour of the ships at the Hyde Street Pier! We went there a few months ago, and Theo loved it! And when he was still talking about Balclutha several months later, I mentioned to my friend and colleague, who is the person who introduced me to Balclutha, that he was still talking about it. She got in touch with the National Park Service employees who work at the Pier and set up the private tour for us. So awesome!!

As it turned out, the Pier is a bit understaffed, so the guys only had an hour to spend with us…but it was a wonderful hour! They filled Theo’s head with all sorts of facts and stories about the C.A. Thayer, another ship at the Pier, and after they had to get back to work, the son of one of the men offered to accompany us to the rest of the ships. Like Theo, he has high-functioning autism, so it was pretty cool to get to hang out with an adult on the spectrum. 🙂 (Although he was quite upfront about having autism and doesn’t seem to try to hide anything, I’ll still not mention his name on here, just out of respect for his privacy. So forgive me for the awkward phrasing of referring to him as “the man.”) I wasn’t sure whether his dad had told him Theo has autism, but apparently he had, because the man said, “So he has autism. Are you sure?” I smiled and said yes, and he said, “What about your younger son?” I said, “Nope, he has Down syndrome.” And the man replied, “Well, that’s not fun!” I said, “Nah, it’s not bad. He’s pretty happy with life, actually.”

It’s hard to put into words, but it was a neat exchange, because I could tell by the man’s tone that he felt sorry to hear about Sam…and so often, people with autism are depicted as not having empathy. Clearly, that’s not always the case. 🙂

Anyway, the three of us spent another 90 minutes or so looking at the ships and talking about them, and then the man offered to walk us to his favorite sandwich shop so we could have a tasty meal before we went home. Alas, he didn’t join us because he had to get to his volunteer job at the senior-citizen home, where he goes and visits with the residents while they eat lunch. I suspect they get a kick out of talking to him—he’s a neat guy. Pretty amazing presidential knowledge…and definitely not afraid to share his political leanings with you. 😉

I feel very fortunate that we got to go on our tour, because Theo had just gotten better the day before…and later that day, Sam got sick. And was cranky, cranky, cranky with a fever for nearly five days. I felt bad for the poor guy, but oh my goodness I was ready for the whining to end!! It made the weekend’s activities rather “interesting,” that’s for sure.

You probably saw my earlier post from yesterday, but in case you didn’t, the weekend activities all revolved around the house, because we got our keys on Friday!!! That’s right—we are officially homeowners again! Woohoo!

We actually move in on the 27th, so for the next two weeks we’re in a frenzy of house-related activity. We spent much of Friday and Saturday cleaning like crazy. Honestly, the house is pretty filthy. The seller was an elderly man, and undoubtedly he just couldn’t keep up with it…which I completely understand. However, it doesn’t change the fact that it needed a lot of scrubbing. I haven’t even tackled the bathrooms yet, but Chris vacuumed the floors (the carpet will be ripped out, but it was so dirty that he couldn’t stand the thought of the kids playing on it), and we also vacuumed the baseboards and windowsills and removed all of the faceplates (there are 59!) to prep for painting.

On Sunday, we had the best-laid plans to get some work done in the morning…but then we ended up spending way too much time at Orchard Supply Hardware, attempting to purchase toilets and light fixtures. OSH was having a “no sales tax” sale this weekend, so we took advantage and decided to buy our toilets and a couple of replacement light fixtures. Might as well save the nearly 10% sales tax, right? Unfortunately, everyone else in the city had the same idea, so it was pretty busy. 😉 Oh, and that’s how I know we have 59 faceplates, by the way. The builder painted them onto the walls, apparently, because almost every one I pulled off had a thick blob of paint and drywall stuck to it. Rather than spending hours and hours attempting to scrub them clean, when we really don’t have hours and hours to waste, we just bought new ones. But we didn’t want to over-buy (they’re inexpensive…but we needed a lot!), so I counted them. All. It was tedious. And there are 59 total. 🙂

Anyway! I was frustrated by feeling as if we had accomplished nothing by 1:30pm on Sunday, so I put Sam down for a nap and announced to Chris, “I need to feel like I’ve accomplished something today. Can I go paint while you stay here with the boys?” He readily agreed, and I spent the next five hours painting—and got a lot done! We ended up picking a bold green for the kitchen, and I love it! We have old yellow oak cabinets that I don’t like, but replacing or painting them is not in the budget. So I Googled around to find out what paint colors would complement the yellow and hopefully draw attention away from it. I found an exact paint name on a designer’s website (two, in fact), got samples, and tried them both. I ended up going with the bright, bold one, and I’m so glad I did! I don’t usually favor really bold wall colors, but I really love it in the kitchen! It does indeed draw attention away from the yellow cabinets, which is what I was hoping for.

We had painters do two things in the house: One is the walls with vaulted ceilings. There are a couple, and given that neither of us likes heights and we don’t have anything other than a standard ladder, we weren’t sure how we were going to tackle them. The other thing is the boys’ room. I asked on a local Facebook page if anyone knew a good painter, and Theo’s former babysitter immediately answered with the name of a local woman who she’s known all her life and who did a “kick-ass” mural in her sons’ room when they moved into their house. Several other people chimed in and said this woman did great work, so I got an estimate and decided to hire her for the vaulted walls and the boys’ room.

As it turns out, she wasn’t able to come on Sunday because she hurt her back—but she had her crew come and do the vaulted walls, and they look awesome! Much more professional than my own painting, I must say…but I guess that’s why they get the big bucks. 😉 Her dad (who also has a painting business) came and roughed in the boys’ room, and she will come finish it when she’s out of the hospital and her back is healed. But I have to say, the boys’ room already looks amazing! Theo wanted it to look “like nature, with mountains and sky,” so I sent her a picture Chris had taken at one of our local parks, where there are mountains surrounding you as you stand in the park, and told her to use that for inspiration but to embellish however she saw fit. So her dad painted the sky and painted mountains all around the room, and it looks awesome already! I would’ve taken a picture, but I’d rather show you when it’s all done. 😉 She’s going to come back and use different shades of green to simulate the shading and foliage on the mountains around here, and she’s also going to put some clouds in the sky. Theo saw the work in progress, though, and said, “Mom, are you sure she’s not done? It looks so great!” So I know he’s going to be thrilled with it. 🙂

We also ended up going with a local outfit to do the floors. I was kind of obsessive about the floors…mostly because it’s such a huge expense that I want to get it right the first time so we don’t have to redo it in five years! So I got four quotes on flooring, and they were all in the low five-figure range (ouch!). But only one of the companies (the most expensive one, of course…sigh….) got a decent consumer rating, so we went with them even though they’re the most expensive—they get excellent reviews from everyone. Now I just hope they can get it done in time! We couldn’t place our flooring order until after our escrow closed because we have to finance the flooring, so now the deadline for getting the materials is very tight. But they claim they can make it happen…and I hope they’re right! I truly hate moving, and I do not want to have to move in with the old floors and then move all of the furniture out a week later to have the floors replaced!

We decided to go with carpet upstairs and plank vinyl downstairs. I had never heard of plank vinyl, and I was skeptical—to me, vinyl brings to mind bathroom linoleum, which, while it works for bathrooms, isn’t something I’d want for my entire downstairs. We were thinking we’d do laminate flooring—we can’t afford hardwood and it’s harder to maintain anyway. With two dogs and two messy young kids, we figured the more durable laminate would be a better investment for us. But laminate can buckle if it gets wet, and the dogs slop water when they drink, plus one or the other of the boys is forever spilling liquids. It’s fine if you get it wiped up quickly, but if they spill and we don’t know it…well, then it could be a problem.

So apparently plank vinyl solves this problem. It’s supposedly 100% waterproof. And much to my amazement, it looks and feels exactly like laminate! So that’s what we chose. Hopefully we’ll get a lot of life out of it, since it’s so darn expensive that we surely won’t be able to afford to replace it!

The other things we did this weekend were clean out the garage and hack up the backyard. Chris did the garage, thank goodness—it was full of rat poop, and I wasn’t really very excited about dealing with that. (The exterminator some time back got rid of the rats but left the poop.) The junk haulers who cleared out the seller’s belongings (which I found very sad…but I guess that’s what worked best for his family) were kind enough to sweep out the garage after they cleared it, but there was still a fair amount of poop and a lot of spiders. Chris spent several hours cleaning it, and it’s much improved now!

As for the backyard, it’s not a high priority right now because our move-in doesn’t depend on it…but at the same time, we were both itching to get our hands on it! And it turns out the trees shade it from the late-afternoon sun really nicely, so it was beautiful and cool and breezy out there. We spent a couple of hours on Saturday clearing some of the overgrowth, and wow—what a difference! It’s like a treasure hunt back there, finding things—“Oh look! A sprinkler! Hey, look what I found—a rose bush!”—and the boys had a ball pushing around rakes and, in Theo’s case, using a small pair of clippers to help trim. Even crabby, sick Sam enjoyed himself! There’s still much more to be done out there, but just the part we’ve cleared has made a big difference. And Chris and I had our first meal at the new house out on our back deck, when he brought me lunch today while I was painting! (He was working at home, and I was covered in paint so he was nice enough to go pick up lunch for me.)

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough—want to see some pictures? Here you go! Also a video of Sam, just because it’s cute. He’s actually eating something, even though he announces “no” about it. He says no all the time now, though—he’s very much three years old and just likes to say no! 😉 But you also get to see the cute little happy bounce he does when he’s eating something he likes!

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