Mar 13, 2016: The Party Circuit

It was a week of parties for us! Well, sort of. Chris and the boys got to spent last Sunday at cousin Nik’s birthday party, and I got to spend it at a disability conference, which is kind of like a party, right?!

Well, okay, maybe not…but it was actually a good conference, and I’m glad I went. I wasn’t sure I was going to right up until Sunday morning. I was sick on Friday and Saturday (fever, aches, chills, sore throat…the whole shebang), and Theo was in the emergency room on Saturday night for what turned out to be a nasty little UTI. I felt so icky on Saturday night that I actually asked Chris to take Theo to the ER, which is not like me—I’m usually such a control freak about these things that I insist on doing them myself. But I really felt pretty puny, so I had Chris do the honors while I stayed home with Sam.

(Really, Theo didn’t need the ER for a UTI. But our medical group doesn’t have any after-hours clinics, so if your kid gets sick sometime other than 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, it’s the ER or bust. Which means a $100 copay. Sigh… But if you’ve ever had a UTI, you know I wasn’t about to let the poor kid suffer until Monday morning!)

Anyway, I was still feverish Saturday night, so I decided I’d make a game-time decision about the conference on Sunday morning. I set my alarm for 6am, got up, and realized my fever had broken, so off I went, leaving Chris and the boys to fend for themselves for three days.

I did a fairly extensive write-up of the conference for anyone who’s interested (click here), but in a nutshell, it was a lot of topics about disability policy—new legislation that will affect people with disabilities and things along those lines. A couple of state senators dropped by, which was quite cool! And there were a lot of people with interesting things to say—both presenters and conference attendees.

In the evenings, I stayed with my mom. We went out to dinner both nights (whee!!! dining out without children is a treat!!) and we did puzzles both nights. When I asked her if I could bunk with her, that was my request: Can we do a puzzle? Because I love jigsaw puzzles, and I haven’t gotten to do once since before Theo was born. For one thing, we’ve had small kids with grabby hands around. And for two, even though Theo is now old enough for jigsaw puzzles, they are most definitely not his thing. I was a little skeptical about that whole “nonverbal learning disability” business with him until I watch him try to do any sort of puzzle or pattern activity. Definitely not his strong point…and, understandably, he finds those kinds of activities very frustrating. So yeah…jigsaw puzzles with no kiddos around. Definitely!

The only part of the conference I missed was the meet-the-legislators bit. They had said that on Tuesday morning, we would go meet some legislators. And apparently last year, they had set up these meetings for attendees. But this year they hadn’t done that, and you were just supposed to drop in on your assemblyperson or senator. That is totally out of my comfort zone, especially considering I was underdressed for the occasion (I don’t really own any nice clothes at this moment), so I asked a friend at the conference if I could tag along with her while she dropped in on her senator. I wanted to see how it was done and how she handled it before I tried it on my own. She said absolutely—but then traffic was horrible and I missed meeting up with her. So, I drove up to the capitol in an hour’s worth of traffic…only to do absolutely nothing and turn around and head home. Ah well. I could’ve just tackled it on my own—and I normally would have, but I was feeling very insecure about being underdressed, and I was also still sick and coughing a lot with no voice, so I felt very insecure about that, too. It was just a low-self-confidence day, so I called it quits and headed home…after calling Chris and crying a bit about what a failure I felt like, which he of course told me was nonsense, because he’s nice that way. 🙂

That ridiculous cold really colored the week for me. I’ve decided that turning 40 a couple of years ago was a turning point for me, healthwise. Among other things, colds just seem to hit me way harder than they used to. I used to rarely get sick and bounce back so quickly when I did, and now that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. Frustrating…

Anyway, it’s almost gone now—I still wake up around 4am coughing, and my dear husband has moved into the den until I stop doing that so he can get some sleep, but at least I feel better now!

Friday was a bit of a party day, too. Theo had the day off school (again!), and Chris needed to take a day off because he is once again maxed out on vacation time. So the three of us went to see Zootopia while Sam was at school. It was cute! If you haven’t seen it, the Godfather-esque mole is the best part. Oh, and the sloths!

We intended to take Theo to lunch too but instead spent a couple of hours at the bank trying to get something simple straightened out. Theo was not thrilled, but he weathered the disappointment surprisingly well. I can’t say I was thrilled to be there, either.

And Saturday, it was party time again! This time, it was Uncle Billy’s 40th birthday, so we headed down to San Jose for that. What a fun time! They held it at Billy’s parents’ house, and I think there were about 50 or 60 people there. Normally that sort of crowd is a bit much for me, but the rain held off until the end of the party, so people were able to mingle inside and outside, which was nice. I spent most of my time outside with the boys. Theo found a bunch of other kids at the party to play with and had a blast, and Sam was his usual cheery self, spending much time at the potato-chip table and a fair bit of time outside as well.

I’m beginning to think we should declare Sundays “Home Improvement Sundays” around here, because lately it always seems to be raining and thus we always seem to do a home-improvement project. This week, it’s Chris removing the shower doors in the master bathroom and putting up a curtain rod instead. I hate shower doors—you have to squeegee them every time you take a shower, and I inevitably bash my leg into them when getting into and out of the shower. So, I’m not sorry to see them go. One of the handles was falling off anyway, because, you know, Chapmanned! (That’s our word for any of the odd things that go on with this house, as the former owner was a man named Chapman, and he did a lot of odd things with the house. Like using Scotch tape to try to secure major cracks in the walls and ceilings, for example. Chapmanned!)

Speaking of our house, it was exactly one year ago today that we put an offer in on it! Wow, how time flies. And the kitchen lasted exactly one year before I decided it had to go! Well, sort of. I actually very much like the kitchen in some ways: I love the floor (which we put in), I love the stove (housewarming present from my mom), I love the dishwasher (23 years old but actually gets the dishes clean every time!), I love the layout, and I love the vast amount of cabinet space. And the cabinets are mostly in good shape—a couple of drawers need to be repaired, and Chapman spilled some sort of incredibly sticky black stuff in a few of them that has sealed them shut. But all in all, they’re in good shape for 23-year-old cabinets. But what I don’t like is the 1990s yellow oak. And I was kind of okay with it until I redid the oak on the fireplace and the banister. And now that I see how nice that looks, I’m just itching to redo the kitchen and make it look as nice as the rest of the house!

But here’s the thing: Kitchen remodels tend to cost anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000, from everyone I’ve heard. There’s just no way we’re ever going to have that kind of disposable money—and honestly, even if we did, I don’t think I’d want to spend it all on one room! Replacing the cabinets would be about $20,000 and would be silly and wasteful because they’re in good shape overall. Refacing the cabinets would be about $7,000. Repainting the cabinets would be about $4,000. Again…disposable income we do not have and won’t have anytime in the next few years. (We’ve got epic plans for Chris’s sabbatical in 2017–2018, so any disposable income in the next two years is headed toward that fund!) So that leaves a nice DIY project for us.

Now, in my ideal world, our lovely kitchen:

Oy, the oak, the oak...and this is only half of it!
Oy, the oak, the oak…and this is only half of it!

Would have nice, light cabinets like this:

Okay, our kitchen would NEVER look like this, but just note the nice, light cabinets.
Okay, our kitchen would NEVER look like this, but just note the nice, light cabinets. 

Because, you see, it happens to be a very dark room. We’re in a townhome, and the shared wall is in the kitchen, so there is only one window in the entire kitchen, and it happens to be shaded…thus leaving a very dark kitchen. So I’d love light cabinets to brighten it up.

But experience has taught me that painting cabinets is much harder than staining—you end up with drips and dribbles and chips. And the prep work takes forever. And we have a ton of cabinets!

So that leaves me with staining. Much easier, and the results turn out much better (from me, at least—I know some people are better painters than I am). But the stains are dark, so we’d have to go dark. And then I wonder if my already-dark kitchen will be too dark.

But then I Googled around and found some pictures of dark cabinets with dark floors and realized that we could lighten it up pretty well if we put on some under-cabinet lighting, some better overhead lighting (Chris hates our overhead lights right now), and a nice, light countertop, like this:

It's dark, but at least it looks pretty!
It’s dark, but at least it looks pretty!

So that’s the plan. That kitchen is just never going to be bright, given that it only has one (shaded) window. But at least hopefully it’ll look nicer when we’re finished. If we save the thousands of dollars on cabinet repainting/refacing (gel staining will cost us, at most, $100), then we can in theory afford to replace the countertop with something solid-surface and have the giant fluorescent lights removed and some recessed can lights put in.

Wish me luck—I’m going to test the stain on the inside of this rarely-used pantry and see how it goes!

This pantry is kind of off to the side, so if I botch it, it won't be as noticeable!
This pantry is kind of off to the side, so if I botch it, it won’t be as noticeable!

If you’re so inclined, I also wrote up a book review this week. Our Down syndrome organization asked me if I wanted to do a few reviews for books they have in their library; you can click here if you want to read the first one.

Oh, and on the subject of books, I’m going to be writing three new books this month and next! One on technological innovations of the Korean War, which should be fun since my dad was stationed in Korea in peace time; one on Fab Labs (basically, creation labs for kids, inspired by MIT—my particular book is on vinyl cutting in a Fab Lab, which I know sounds just absolutely thrilling, doesn’t it?!); and, my favorite, a retelling of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow for third graders. Given that Theo is going into third grade, he can be my beta reader! I told him this, and he is very excited about the task. I guarantee you I won’t fall behind on that deadline—he keeps nagging me as to whether I’ve written it yet!

Okay, without further ado, pictures from last week. Have a great week, all!

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