Thursday, June 30, 2011

An update on the housing situation

Ack!  I realized I missed my first day weekday of posting, since I re-started, this week with all the hustle and bustle around the new house.

So I figured I'd give you a little update on how things are going.

We got renters for our house in Barrington!  Yay!  They are a retired military family with older children and no pets so we're greatly looking forward to having them as tenants.  Hopefully in a year, they will be in love with the house and will want to buy it :)

Vinny arrived safely in North Carolina, tired but happy to be home and we are thrilled he is finally here.  We've been getting tons done and Bella is over the moon to have her Daddy around to see her being all cute and cuddly.

In my zeal to get things done, I manage to be about 3/4 done with a project before thinking, "Wow, I should really have taken a before picture."  So tomorrow I'm going to do a little photo tour of the house thus far and try to match them up with photos we took when we were visiting and house hunting.  That will hopefully keep the blog busy for the next week or so, til I can remember to take some 'in process' pictures of little things we have going on around the house.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mama's Beloved - Early Birthday Presents - The Nook

Vinny has never been very good at holding on to presents for me once he's bought them.  My birthday is in about 2 weeks, and it was no exception.  He arrived at the new house Tuesday morning (YAY) and basically threw my gift at me he was so excited.

He got me the brand new Nook.  Not the color one, the new e-ink version that Barnes and Noble just put out.

So far, it is awesome.  Before we moved out of Rhode Island, I took the opportunity to go by the local library and check out all the different e-readers.  They had the Kindle, the Sony e-reader and the color Nook.  I like the e-ink Nook way better than the backlit color version.  Since I've been spending so much time on the back porch, not having the backlighting is nice.  And the touch screen is much more intuitive for me than the Kindle's push button navigation.  The other one we looked at was the Sony e-reader, but the page refresh on it was pretty slow and it flashed, so when I got going and was flipping pages rapidly, there was almost a strobe effect going on.  The nook does the same thing a little, but it's not as bad as the e-reader.

Vinny was very thoughtful and got me a protective cover, added some family photos for me to have as screen savers, and put a few books that I've been dying to read on it for me (The Hunger Games series, Game of Thrones series, and the Sookie Stackhouse series).  The only problem I have is trying to convince Vinny to let me leave the light on at night so I can read 'just one more chapter.'

Have you considered an e-reader or do you already have one?  Which one do you have and why did you pick that one?  Any suggestions on what should be on my reading list?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wired: Rewiring an Outlet with light!

So, I had a little fun with my post a while back about rewiring an outlet in the dark. (See that post here)  But I actually did get around to taking some photos of the actual process.

So again, the first step to rewiring an outlet is turning off the power to the outlet.  Even if the lights in the room go out, plug something in to make sure the specific outlet you want to work on is off.  I found that plugging in a vacuum cleaner in the 'on' position was awfully convenient.  So when I hit a breaker, I knew that outlet was off when the vacuum cleaner stopped.  Saved me a lot of running up and down the stairs. (As an aside, labeling your circuit breakers carefully is time well spent)

After turning off the power, and double checking that the power is off, unscrew the cover and the outlet itself.  Pull the outlet out of the wall with the wires still connected.

Make certain you know which wires go where so you can duplicate it with the new one.  If you have to, snap a picture.  When I unscrew the wires, I try to pull them in the direction they came from.  ie: if the wire was attached to the stop right screw, I pull the wire up and to the right when I detach it.  That way it's easier to remember where it goes in case you get called away and forgot to take a picture :)

Replace the wires onto the new outlet in the same position.

Screw the new outlet into the wall.  Screw on a new outlet cover.  Step back and admire your handy work!

The process is the exact same for a light switch:
Kill the power
Unscrew the old cover

Unscrew the light switch from the wall

Make note of where the wires go
Unscrew the wires and replace them in the same positions on the new light switch

Screw the new light switch into the wall

and replace the new cover.

There you go!  A quick and easy update for old worn looking outlets and switches.  My last hurrah for the old house!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Creating a Faux Fishtank

When Vinny and I were engaged, we had a long discussion about what to register for.  We ultimately decided on everything from flatware to linens, including a set of collectible objects. We chose a set of Swarovski crystal fish as our 'thing to collect' for a few reasons.  First, there were just a few of them, so we wouldn't be collecting them forever. Second, they were beautiful and colorful, so we didn't think they would fall into the tchotchke category.  And finally, they were expensive, which hopefully means they will be a valuable collection to pass down to Bella someday.

The collection has these great display stands that look like coral that you can arrange the crystal fish on. My goal has always been to get an octagonal fishtank to display it all in in, as if they were real fish.  I must have been getting delusional with all the packing over the past few days, because after day 2 of unpacking for 12-14 hours a day, I chose instead to devote a few hours to creating a faux fishtank for my Swarovski crystal fish.  (In my defense, the fish were in a box I was unpacking, so I clearly needed to create a home for them before I unpacked them!)

I chose an area of a built-in cabinet in the living room. It's wood toned, and I'm dying to paint it, but since I'm not comfortable painting the wood until we actually buy the place, covering part of the cabinet with paper was the next best thing.

I have a decent little collection of paper between having a 3 year old and from when I used to scrapbook by hand, so I took a dive through my paper collection and chose a few papers in blues, greens, and purple for the backdrop.  I started by measuring the space and figuring out about how many full sheets of construction paper it would take to almost cover the area to serve as a background.  In my case, that was 2 sheets high (turned on the short side of each page) by 3 sheets wide (on the long side of each page).

I started by taping the 6 pieces of construction paper together on the back side with scotch tape.

Then I cut various widths of curvy and straight strips from my patterned paper and arranged them on the front side of the paper until I was satisfied with the results.  I covered most of the connections between the construction paper for a more natural look.  Then I taped them all down using a scrapbook tape dispenser that puts down tiny little pieces of tape.

To mount it to the actual cabinet, I used painters tape, so I wouldn't accidentally scar the wood.

 Then I placed it in the back area and tried to center it the best I could.  I finished off the areas around the edge using colored pieces that were flat on one edge and wavy on the other.
I didn't like the wooden bottom, so I also covered the bottom with loose pieces of paper until that was covered.  Those aren't secured down...mainly because it was getting late and I was exhausted.  Then I added in the coral stands, the crystal fish, a few actual seashore finds from memorable trips like our honeymoon, and a small boatload of clear and colored plastic chips that I got at Michaels.  Here are a few shots of the finished product: 



I'm hoping to mount a little strip of halogen lights to the underside and remove the lamp. Halogen lights really make crystal objects shine and then they would be the only focus of the area. I'll take more shots after I put that in.

Do you collect anything?  How did you decide on what to collect?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kitchen: Before and After

So, recently I showed you what our kitchen looked like after the first day of unpacking:

You'll have to trust me when I say that it looked even worse after the boxes in the photo (along with 2 wardrobe sized boxes not pictures) were unpacked and their contents scattered on the floor.  It was a pretty daunting task.  I figured this would be the last room I managed to put everything away in considering how huge of a job it seemed.  Somehow I managed to get some inspiration on Saturday though and by Monday it looked like this:

I'm sure it will go through some iterations of where things are located, but I was very happy to have this done considering how much time we will be spending in this room.  All the stuff on the floor was a serious tripping hazard!

Vinny accused me of just throwing everything away :)

Now just 16 more rooms to go!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Moving Part 2.5 - The Drive Down

I got so wrapped up in the drama of the past few days that I forgot to mention that the ride down was largely uneventful, which is good considering that we had a 3 year old, a dog, and a cat with us on a 13 hour drive.  Pippen roamed around the car, changing positions and laps the whole time.

 I'm sure Josie was jealous.  Well, at least until this:
Then, I'm pretty sure she was glad to be in her own little area in the back.  I'm very grateful to Vinny for driving us all down and flying back so I didn't have to drive alone.  His original Sunday flight got cancelled so he didn't get to leave til Monday, which was nice for me too.  I can't wait for this week to be over so he can come HOME!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Moving Part 3 - The Unload and Unpack

OK, so, I've always seemed to be a drama magnet, but the unload and unpack really does take the cake for drama.  It's actually been about 3 days since I wrote Monday's post, so I have some perspective now.  And even with perspective, it was awful.

After sleeping on the floor overnight Thursday night, I was awoken by the driver of our load, chiding me for not telling him about the road he was supposed to turn off on.  Guess he forgot me pulling up the map online before he left and pointing out the turn VERY specifically so that he didn't follow the GPS directions (because the GPS likes to direct you through a tiny wooded path with holes the size of kidding).  So I got him back on track and about 15 minutes later, the big truck arrived with 3 contracted unload/unpack-ers.

Things were going ok, boxes coming off the truck and heading inside.  Though they were heading inside through 3 different entrances and I was moving like crazy to try to write down all the tag numbers as they came in so I could mark off what we did or didn't receive.  I also caught things being put in the wrong place.  In another situation I could see that maybe they would mistake Bella's room for the master, etc., but I had anticipated this problem and made up printed out sheets with the name of each room and used painters tape to put each up so there was no confusion.  It unfortunately didn't seem to help.

All the doors were open, so my grandfather was keeping Josie out on the back porch so she wasn't running around and I closed Pippen into the laundry room and told everyone where the cat was so they wouldn't accidentally let him out. (he ended up being let out 3 times).  And my grandmother was helping me by watching Bella, which was good because I was barely keeping up anyway.

About 4 hours in, they decided they would all focus on getting everything off the truck and onto the driveway and then run everything in the house together instead of each one doing the whole process alone.  And, murphy's law didn't fail us, everything was off the truck and in the driveway when the clouds started getting dark.  So everyone started running things inside as quickly as possible, regardless of where it was supposed to go just to get it in before the rain started.  It didn't work.  The storm lasted maybe 15 minutes, but it was a really rough storm.  The rain was driving so hard it was hitting the living room windows even though there is a big screened in porch.  I looked out about 5 minutes into the storm and saw a few boxes getting soaked and I had to send guys after them. *le sigh*

In the mahem, things were put all over the place, so I had to go around correcting where boxes went.  The driver later made a point of telling me that according to the contract, once boxes were put down, they were supposed to remain there.  Needless to say, that didn't go over well with me, and boxes ended up being moved anyway.

So, about 3pm, which was around 7 hours in, the contracted help started grumbling that they weren't being paid enough for as big a job as we had.  They said as much to the driver, who was responsible for paying them and he told them that they were only going to get what was agreed upon and left it at that.  So, for about the next 2 hours, every time a mover would pass the driver, they would make a snide comment about getting screwed over on the job.

When I asked if there was anything I could do, they apologized for being discontented in front of me, and that it wasn't about me.  I called the moving company, who told me that it was between the driver and the contracted help.  From there, everyone started getting irritable and pretty much everyone I saw said something to the effect of "now what do we have to do?" as if they couldn't see which boxes had and hadn't been unpacked, or what furniture hadn't been put together.  The biggest problem at that point was that we had zero beds put together.  If they had walked out, I could unpack boxes, but putting together furniture alone was going to be tough.  To make matters worse, we couldn't find the hardware for the beds.  So we started turning things upside down looking for it. Turns out it was already unpacked...and was on the floor of the master bathroom under a huge mound of other stuff that didn't belong in a bathroom, go figure.

So, hardware in hand, we finally started putting together beds and attempting to find all the parts of the mattresses.  We have Select Comfort sleep number beds, which were in pieces and we had to locate them all.  As an aside, moving a select comfort bed is probably best done with the parts all together.  A ton of our parts were torn or damaged or destroyed...over $1000 worth of parts in all.  Exhibit A:

So, we had all been in Bella's bedroom putting things together and I ran downstairs to grab a part that was missing when I started hearing yelling.

The altercation was between the driver and one of the movers, who had decided enough was enough and they weren't going to do any more work for the price agreed upon.  The argument got heated and there was a lot of yelling and I wanted to make sure that Bella wasn't hearing it.  Since I was on a different floor and could hear it, I figured I should ask my grandmother to take her outside for a bit.  So I went to the living room where my grandmother was and I didn't see Bella.

So, I asked where she was and Nanny replied that she thought Bella was still upstairs.  So I went flying up the stairs and into her bedroom yelling, "My daughter is still in here!"  I found her crouched behind the rocking chair, sobbing, and terrified.  I picked her up and assumed they would stop and apologize and take it elsewhere, if necessary, once they saw her, but no such luck.  They kept right on yelling.  So I ran her downstairs and into the master bedroom, closed the door and held her close and rocked her til she calmed down a bit.  She looked at me and said, "Mommy, I want to go home," and I felt like there wasn't a punishment great enough for the idiots who hurt her.  I was shaking and furious.

The driver came to me to talk and she totally lost it again, scared of him, so I gave her over to my grandma and went outside with him.  I wanted them out.  All of them.  Just get out.  He said the guys were wanting to leave and I told him they should all leave.  The 2 guys who weren't involved in the fight apologized and shook my hand and I assured them that I was quite clear on what happened and who was involved.  I tried to lock all the doors so the driver couldn't come back and I could do whatever I needed to outside but I didn't get them all done in time so he came in complaining that he got 'accidentally' locked out of the front door.  Apparently he missed the memo about 'getting out.'

Then he wanted me to sign the paperwork saying the job was done and I told him I wasn't going to sign anything because the job was far from done.  And there were things that he couldn't fix alone.  I told him another team was going to have to finish the job. He was ticked off and I thought he was just going to leave for a while. After a number of phone calls, he told me he would be back in the morning with new people to finish.  This is a little preview of what I was left with:

After talking with Vinny, I went around the house room by room and made a list of things that still needed to be done.  I was up til almost midnight, but it was totally worth it to be able to check things off a little at a time.  The moving company sent 2 guys who actually worked directly for them instead of contracted help.  I was shocked to find out that the moving company still hadn't been told what happened, which of course I fixed no problem.  Things were finally done decently once they were done.  It took them about 2 hours.  And then I finally had my house.

Or rather, I finally had a boatload of stuff to put up.  But that's a story for later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Moving Part 3 - The Unload and Unpack (prologue)

This will be short and sweet.  The unload and unpack did not go as planned (to say the least) and eventually ended in tears.  I'm not quite ready to blog the whole story...hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moving Part 2 - The Load Up

Once we got everything packed into boxes and ready to go (see Part 1 about the packing here), it was time to put everything on the truck.  The truck pulled in, bringing with it half of the lower limbs in the neighborhood.

Jimmy, our master inventory and control manager, made sure everything was running smoothly from the get go.  (And no, that wasn't his official title or anything...but he earned it)  He kept calling himself 'the model'...meaning a model of how loading was supposed to happen.  That earned him this photo:
The big showoff!

So Jimmy, our driver Arthur, and 2 other loaders had stuff flying past me all day.  I couldn't really see the rhyme or reason to what they picked up, they didn't do 1 room at a time or anything like that (which drove Vinny nuts).  Then I headed out to the truck during one of their breaks and realized that while I may not have seen the rationale...they certainly did.  It was like moving box tetris:

We got derailed on day 1 of loading by a monster thunderstorm that sent the loaders scrambling to get items that were outside into the garage.  Because of the low hanging limbs, that were even lower after rain, the driver wanted to leave the trailer in place so he wouldn't have to maneuver back in the next day.  Hint: Call your local police department and let them know what is up and get permission to leave it parked overnight.

So we went about 4 hours into day 2 as well.  And we managed to get the house cleaned in time for a showing an hour after everything was out.  Whew!

Other tips we've heard of and taken advantage of (particularly in military moves but many apply in all move situations):
     Get your driver's cell number so you can be in touch.
     Call them to ask what your initial weight was. (all of our stuff was a bit over 11,000, well under our 14,500 lb limit...yay)
     Touch base every few days to make sure you know when your delivery is coming.
     Request a reweigh on the delivery end.  You end up getting the lower of the 2 weights, so there is no harm in having your stuff reweighed
     Provide lunch for your loaders and packers, preferably not always pizza.  I made pasta the first day when I still had pots, did pizza the second, and the third day I ordered Subway.  I can't tell you how appreciative the guys were to not be eating junk for once
     Make sure to have bottled water or cups and water on hand, especially on hot days
     Learn your guys' names and use them.  Smile at them.  They're carrying all your stuff and it's easier for them to care about their job if they aren't ticked off at you.
     Pray for good weather
     Make an inventory beforehand of everything if possible, including serial and model numbers of electronics
     Make sure you can read your copy of the inventory they do of your items and ask if you have questions about notations they've made about existing damage
     If something drops or falls, ask them to note it on the paperwork so you can double check for damage on the receiving end
     Keep your cool
     Cross your fingers

Do you guys have other moving tips?

Thursday, June 16, 2011


And y'all know I love me some photoshop (see the post about that here).  All I'll say (for now) is the sofa isn't photoshopped and neither am I.  This project made me very happy. :D

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moving Part 1 - The Pack Out

Apparently in the military, the lingo for packing is 'packing out.'  We got 2 packers, and they were scheduled to pack us for 3 days.  These guys were fast.  And I don't mean, wow they packed up ALL of our stuff in 3 days.  I mean...holy crap I can't even see their hands and they managed to finish in 2 days!  So I'm going to show you our total wreck.

I thought they would work together and I'd be able to sort of follow what they were doing.  I was also hoping that I'd have some time to work through some of our things I hadn't had time to do.  Instead, they worked in 2 different places, on different floors, both at lightning speed.  So I spent 2 days running up and down the stairs, trying to make sure they weren't packing stuff I didn't want packed (which totally didn't work), and that certain things got extra padding.

Not that extra padding was much of a problem.  I think each item that got wrapped was wrapped in 3 HUGE sheets of paper.  I'm even more glad now that people on the other side have to unpack everything.  And I understand why they won't transport matches too...the whole load is a massive combustion risk.

Huge irony on the first day: I took Bella in to daycare so she wouldn't be under our feet while we were packing and one of the packers showed up with his 4 year old daughter.  It would have been alright if she had stayed with him, but instead she followed me around all day.  And my mommy brain was checked I wasn't quite emotionally prepared for it.  The second day Bella was there too.  And the little girl refused to play with her.  So I spent more time that day interacting with Bella instead, which was way better.  I guess there really is something different about your own child.

Anyway, by the end of all the packing we were living in a city of boxes.  We're this is a problem.  I lost the dog more than once and the cat was in heaven.  I got up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water...forgot about the packing thing, and was in the middle of the dining room in the pitch black before I remembered that I was surrounded in boxes and my memory of how to get to the kitchen without running into stuff was completely useless.

(ugh, and how hideous is that paneling in the basement?  If we ever move back to this house, that so has to go!)

Luckily they moved our loading up a day so the boxes didn't stay long.  More on that soon.

Have you ever had a packing debacle?  I need people to commiserate with!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The hair has left the building...for locks of love

Since Bella was born, I've been growing out my hair in an attempt to make a donation to Locks of Love, a non profit organization that makes wigs for childhood cancer patients (their website is here).  Hair has to be 10 inches long at it's greatest length (though they can sell hair that is shorter) and it can be dyed darker than its natural shade, but not bleached lighter.

So it took me about 6 months to grow out the hair that was highlighted, then another two and a half to get enough length. Getting my hair cut (finally!) was on my list of 'Things to do before the BIG MOVE.'

I got my hair trimmed every 3-6 months to keep the ends nice and healthy.  And I was determined to make the big leap with my trusty hairstylist, Mallory, at Coiffurium in Providence (their website is here).  Not just because I trust her, but because the length was driving me crazy.  So without further ado, here is the before:

Can you tell how nervous I was?  I was totally freaking out.  Check out my knuckles on the side of the chair.  You'd think I was going to be executed.

Making the measurement to see if I was going to be bald or not.

There it goes...the big cut!

The ponytail gets sent off to Locks of Love.

The final smoothed cut.  I like a little bit of a tousled look, but this nice smooth bob was nice too.  I was going for Dianna Agron's cut from Glee, I just don't know if I have enough any stylists to make it happen. I jut cut Bella's hair too.  With my cut, we became the bobsy twins:

So that's it...3 years of work growing hair ends in a matter of minutes.  Like it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Playing for Change

I recently caught a news story about this music project called Playing for Change, that takes street musicians from around the world and combines their music into an incredibly powerful performance.  

This idea really feeds into one of the reasons why I was so drawn to the Montessori method.  It speaks so strongly to our shared experiences as humans and the respect that we should have for all cultures and lifestyles.  I was thrilled to share these videos with Bella and to be able to talk about the different cultures in each of the places in the songs.  I'm working on teaching her the refrains to these songs so she can add her voice to theirs and feel like she is part of something bigger.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do:

Stand by Me

Redemption Song


Gimme Shelter

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fishing with the Mirena

So without getting too graphic or anything, I'll simply say that I recently decided to get a Mirena IUD. Its a device to prevent pregnancy temporarily (though decently long term 5-7 years).  If you want to check out the website, here it is.

I went to the doctor just to discuss options/risks/etc. and she had a demonstration version of the device to show me what the procedure would be like.  Bella was, understandably, very interested in the whole thing and asked me what it was.  I'm not a parent to mince my words.  At the dentist, the suction tube is a suction tube, not Mr. Thirsty...and so when she asked, I told her it was a Mirena.  The doctor chimed in and said, 'Or a fishing pole!' because of the way the Mirena hangs by a string at the end.  So Bella got to go fishing with the Mirena...

For some reason this whole thing struck me as totally hilarious because it's another example of "Only in OUR family!"