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1. I had to leave the room while in a meeting at work, because I didn't trust my ability to keep my temper.

2. I spent most of the day working on a big spreadsheet. I've had students work in it at various times, and at some point somebody - I sure as hell hope not me - sorted one of the columns but not all of them, so that the data are now mismatched. In good news, some of it is still okay - it doesn't all have to be done from scratch - but in not so good news, you can't necessarily tell by looking whether the data in a given row is right or not. So I really ought to check everything. All 1200 items.

3. mr. flea had to call the mortgage company again. They accidentally paid $4000 from our escrow account to a random county in which our house is not located. They have been remarkably remiss in clearing up this error, and our statement for payment, due tomorrow, asks us to pay an extra $500 to start rebuilding our escrow. They said we should go ahead and pay the old amount, and they will send us a new statement eventually. My distrust of the company is such that I worry that this is some trick to declare us delinquent and make us pay huge fees.

4. Casper has been having homework fits all week. Tears and procrastination and the whole thing. Tonight is no different. Tomorrow a book report is due.

5. The uptight downstairs neighbor pounded on the ceiling, at 7pm on a Wednesday, because Dillo was dancing around in the dining room (which is uncarpeted because, hey dining room, with messy kids at the table). Dillo wasn't even wearing shoes. This is not the first incident of ceiling-pounding, and the other weekend said neighbor had a freakout at mr. flea because the children were running to and fro. At noon on a Sunday. Being, you know, kids. It makes me feel like we don;t have a right to have actual lives.

I miss our own house and my old job and our lives.
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I went to the Historic Preservation Commission hearing tonight, and I had yto go first which was hard and scary, and our metal roof got denied as expected. But I stayed for much of the rest of the meeting, which was FASCINATING (our democracy in action!) and as is usual I found much to agree with on all sides (except the weepy sorority board member who was worried that externally applied window muntins would cause sorority girls to Die In A Fire.) And our builder and his wife came by at 8pm and we had a good long talk and they were rabidly on our side, more on our side than I was, and it is nice to be supported even if you don't fully agree. So we'll look at energy-star rated architectural shingles and creative ways to vent the roof, and see what we can do.

And in good news, it turns out we qualify for a (I think federal) program to allow mortgage refinances without PMI for people in just our situation - the value of the house dropping considerably since we purchased, but not in any danger of defaulting or anything. So we can refinance after all, for free (well, the bank paying), just as we'd been planning.

And use the money saved in the first year to pay for dental work on the Dillo. With that plus the fact that architectural shingles are cheaper than metal, we may have saved enough money today alone to pay for the dental work.
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Just got back from a nice lunch with a faculty member and her visiting colleague, at which we had a pleasant discussion about academia, academic publishing, gender inequities in academia, the conservative nature of Classics and the awesome nature of archaeologists, etc.

And got, bam, bam, two emails: one from our banker saying the house appraised at enough less than we paid for it that it doesn't make sense to refinance (because we'd need mortgage insurance), and the second from the historic preservation planning office with the staff recommendation on our application, which says we can put a membrane roof on the porch and take down the back chimney as long as we keep a shingle roof on the main part of the house.

Looking on the bright side, at least we don't have to actually sell our house? And the banker is awesome, and offered the split the appraisal fee so we'd only be out $175 for the attempt. She honestly didn't expect it to appraise that low.

Also on the bright side, I was expecting this verdict from the historic preservation commission, and the staff report contained some information I didn't know about the house (the wrapping portion of the porch was added after 1960, because it does not appear on the latest Sanborn maps they have).

Still, have had better Fridays.
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There's nothing as consistently stressful for me as the children's birthdays. Dillo's is Sunday, and do we have a plan? We do not. He's old enough now that he expects something to happen. mr. flea was going to see if we could do something at his school Friday, and invite the two friends who have left already (assuming they are in town, which I doubt.)

Part of the problem is that the dates of both kids' birthdays mean the chance of its being incredibly hot are high. So it's hard to plan a simple "run around in the yard" birthday party (our house being small enough that 4-6 children in it is a houseful, never mind their parents).

We're also going ahead with the refinance, which means collecting documents, and the planning commission will meet in 2 weeks on our roof proposal, and the kids are taking swimming lessons soon, and then mr. flea's parents are coming and then school starts. Blah.
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Apparently mortgage rates are insanely low right now - yes, even more insanely low than usual - and the people who buy up mortgages are desperate for good quality loans to buy. As a result, we currently have the opportunity to refinance at ZERO cost to us - the bank will pay all costs and recoup the difference when they sell our mortgage off. (Yes, mr. flea said, "Hang on, explain that one more time?" to our banker.) We can go from our current rather decent just-under-6% rate to something like 4.75 for free, which doesn't seem like much but cuts $150 a month off our payments and reduces the interest over the course of the loan by more than 100K. If we were willing to pay points (we aren't, because of the uncertainty of mr. flea's employment) we could get a rate as low as 4.26% (for 20% down, good credit, 30 year fixed rate.) If you've thought about refinancing, definitely look into what a reputable bank can do for you right now.
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I've got enough going on right now that I'm a little overwhelmed and paralyzed with it. I'm also really tired; I worked last night and had trouble falling asleep (was the sweet tea at lunch super-potent?)

We did get the license plates and registration transferred to the new car yesterday, so we are officially completely done with car stuff. We are still deep in the bathroom plumbing project (plumbing is done, but closing up the wall in the bedroom is next, and then we need to deal with taking down and replacing the ceiling in the downstairs bathroom), and we still need to decide what to do about the roof and porch projects we got estimates for. I have been doing more research on the house and that is interesting but also distracting me at work.

At work I am giving a presentation to a staff organization the week of May 17, and then giving a talk at a state conference May 28, and neither of those things are fully developed yet, and I'm having trouble getting them developed, due to inability to focus. Part of the problem is that I could totally wing the first, if I chose, and sections of the second (demonstrating a software which I have already trained groups on 3 times and written up a training manual). I need something to give me the urgency to nail it all down.

I am going to SF next Thursday and need to plan my packing & hem my dress, do some further planning for while I'm there, and worry about how everyone will manage without me (fine, of course, but I still need to worry!) SF-istas, my current plan is to visit the Asian Art Museum the afternoon of Thursday May 13, and would welcome a companion, and I have most of the day Friday May 14 unplanned, though I may want to sleep late. I've never been to Golden Gate Park, but wonder if that is too big a project given transport issues and my potential tiredness.
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The good:
I baked chocolate chip scones, oatmeal bread, and butter cookies; cooked bistro bowtie salad with homegrown spinach, pork roast, and kale and heirloom beans. I did laundry, got the multiplying boxes (and a bird's nest with eggs in it, idiot bird) out of the laundry room, swept the pollen off both porches (again), dug over a new garden bed (yes I admitted I need more space), made a list and grocery shopped, bought frames for 3 items I've been wanting to frame, and spent $15 on beginning acrylic painting supplies for Casper.

The bad:
mr. flea worked on the plumbing all day Saturday (while it poured rain) and until 2pm on Sunday, and my job was to sit and wait for him to be done, while not killing my children. This was rather harder than you'd think, especially since Dillo is SO THREE. We need to find a better way to get house renovations done, since I actually LIKE doing things and HATE sitting around minding the children. But he has the plumbing skills and the patience and temperament to do it right (even is he is SO SLOW.)

We're not done yet; the upstairs sink is not yet plumbed, because to do it means opening up the wall, and by 2pm mr. flea was tired and sweaty and knew he wouldn't be able to get the wall closed today. So nothing's turned on, even through 2/3 of it is all hooked up. Which means we have to do it all again next weekend. Ugh.
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Two and a half weeks ago, Casper broke her thumb.

Last weekend, a pipe burst in our bathroom ceiling.

Today we set out to deal with the bathroom - hit Lowe's at 8:30 am, kids in tow. We bought a shop vac, pipes, and stuff, and headed home.

Dillo and I had fun watching mr. flea cut chunks out of the bathroom ceiling. Mold was already beginning on the wet drywall, so it was a good thing. (The homeowners insurance people are coming Tuesday morning, and they said to go ahead and open up the ceiling.)

We took a break at 11:45 so I could get a ride into an event at work. The car, on startup, made a horrible sort of valve-ish noise, and would not start. mr. flea thinks the engine may just have up and died (for no particular reason - the car is 10 years old, and it's a Ford, so we weren't expecting it to run forever, but I hardly expected the engine to go!)

The tow, which we called at 12:45, didn't come until 2:30. Since the dealer (to which the car was being towed) closed at 2:00, mr. flea couldn't ride along and pick up a rental car. We've looked at other options but I think he's going to call their courtesy shuttle on Monday morning and run out there then to get a rental (it's cheap, and they have a courtesy van!)

We're pretty resigned to the idea that this means a new car. (A 2000 Ford Focus is worth almost nothing; certainly not the price of a new engine!) Yes, we wanted to get a roof, but maybe we'll get a car instead.

None of these are huge, catastrophic catastrophes. But I'm getting a little tired of lurching from one crisis to another, and would like a little break. Please?
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We're talking again about the possibility of a new car - a used Toyota Matrix is looking good right now - an '04 or '05, maybe. This leads to talking about the funding of a new car. Which leads to actually setting out, with data, what our monthly income and outflows are. And of course it turns out that the reason we are finding it so hard to save anything is that they are too close together. Our absolute necessities: mortgage, child care, utilities, car insurance and gas, student loan payment, and groceries, puts us with $1200 left over for the month. I'm currently sending $250 of that to my IRA, and then there are things like two plane trips for 4 to Boston in successive months, my MLS tuition, dental care, termite treatment, etc. Some is getting frittered away in mr. flea's lunches out and unnecessary household items, but not really very much. Not enough that if we were really tight about it we'd be able to save up $6000 in the next six months for the other half of a car.

This burden should ease. mr. flea got a rather nice raise recently (6% if I am doing the math right), which was a nice surprise, since my workplace is furloughing me 6 days this year. In 10 months Dillo will start PreK, though my plan is to put the monthly daycare money into a college savings fund starting then. I should be getting a (marginally) better-paying librarian job in the next few years, assuming my workplace ever stops its hiring freeze.

But it's disappointing to see how our spending has risen to our dramatically increased income. Our mortgage is twice our rent (we had really cheap rent); our utilities are higher here (gas/electric some, because the house is bigger, but we now pay 3x as much for water/sewer/trash as we were, which is just a function of the municipality); we have a student loan payment for the first time in a while. Some luxuries are included in those "necessities": $30 a month for satellite TV, $12 a month for a cell phone, $45 for internet. Not a lot I suspect compared to some people.
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Dillo is running around the house with his pull-up pulled down so his penis is sticking out the top. he's also shouting, "penis power!"

Our beta fish Rosalina has been getting increasingly sick. She's got some kind of fin ick, and her gills are all poking out, and she has no appetite and lies at the bottom of the bowl. We've given her some kind of antibiotic and added an anti-ammonia treatment to the water this week; right now mr. flea is changing the water with some water her has carefully let sit for 24 hours in the sun (I had been just using a de-chlorinator). I hope she perks up soon. Casper is actually fairly soigne about the possible demise of her fish.

My teeth are still remarkably sore. I think everything is fine - I can sort of feel the stitches and it's a little weird. I just thought I would have stopped needing painkillers by now, 5 days in. I do okay for a while, but then ache sets in and it makes my whole head ache. Also, the most painful thing is yawning, which is kind of funny.

We looked at new Toyotas today. I don't think we're going to buy soon, but mr. flea has been talking with a coworker about whether a more fuel-efficient car or doing the house projects would reduce our carbon footprint more. I liked the 2010 Prius (it's a redesign), and it has an adjustable driver's side seat. The only one they had on the lot had a moon roof, which reduces head room by more than an inch, but I think without it mr. flea would be okay on clearance. We also looked at a Matrix, which isn't available in a hybrid. That had tons of head room, but it felt a little cheaper somehow (it is, technically, cheaper, of course). Both are hatchbacks which I love and miss. We'll be in the market for a car in a year or two (we currently drive a 2000 Focus), so I think we may wait things out and try to get a nearly-new 2010 Prius at that point. Almost all of our driving is stop-and-go city stuff, and we'd get nearly double the mileage in a Prius. But if we decide we can't afford one, it's good to know that a used Matrix would probably be a fine and widely available choice.

Meanwhile we need to start calling some contractors to get a sense of what fixing the home energy audit stuff would even cost. I don't have any sense at all. And it would be nice to insulate the upstairs enough so that when we come home in the afternoon it isn't 87 degrees in our bedroom. That's with the whole-house AC set at 78. With the bathroom vent fan, we can usually get it down to bearable (82-83 with ceiling fan on) by bedtime. But, really!

juggling

Jun. 1st, 2009 06:57 pm
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Casper is attending Camp Invention this week, which is on campus. Camp goes from 9-3:30; registration started at 8:30 today. Today Casper and I got dropped off at my work at 7:45, left my work at about 8:10 to make our way down the camp, which is in a building at the other end of campus (I intended to walk but forgot how slow children are; we took the bus after walking 1/3 of the way). I registered her, chatted with an acquaintance, and booked it back up to the Main library. Then I worked, then left work at 3:15, got a bus after waiting 8 minutes (it was 90 degrees by then, no fun walking at my pace for 20 minutes), back down, picked her up, bus back, we got to my office by about 3:50. I set her up on the computer of my coworker who was out today, and she did a little playing with Teletubbies. I had to go over and help her figure out what to click approximately every 3 minutes. I got my one email drafted and mailed. We left at 4:55 and went to get picked up.

Tomorrow and Thursday a friend is taking Casper home after camp, because I have 3-4 and 3:30-5pm meetings. Because the friend has a swim lesson at 6, we have to be prompt at picking Casper up right at 5. No, I have no idea how I'm going to go to a meeting that lasts until 5 and then be across town also at 5.

I was mentally exhausted and stressed out all day about this (and also, again, still, about the stupid vacation we are having to take in 4 weeks, and money). This is why I like the YMCA, because they run from 8-6.

Also, my bedroom will never be painted at this rate. Also also, my son will be 3 in six weeks and still have NEVER peed in the potty. Am I going to fail at potty training TWICE?
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I took the afternoon off work and psyched myself up to visit a new dentist today. A new dentist who had been personally vetted by my stepfather (a dentist), selected by me looking up the periodontists in town, Stepfather asking his periodontist buddy if he knew either of them, calling the one the periodontist knew, asking him who he thought was a good dentist in town, and calling the dentist himself to grill him. I printed out the coverage manual for my insurance and was all ready to discuss many things. Remember, I hate everything to do with dentistry and as a result, have to work really hard to keep my normally calm and rational self functioning during an office visit.

I went to the appointment and discovered that my appointment is actually for a month from now. I made it 2 weeks ago - I guess I must have mentally placed it in the wrong month because I couldn't believe it would be a 6-week wait just to have a preliminary appointment. (Note: I have a broken tooth with a raw edge right now, and they knew this when they made the appointment.)

So, this may be the magic dentist. If I ever get in to SEE the guy. And now I feel like an idiot, and can't go take a nap because the Home Energy Audit guy is here blowing our ducts. (The air leakage in this house is INCREDIBLE; it was like a gale force wind coming out of the pocket doors when he did the blower door test. More on this at my house blog when he's done.)
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Zillow currently has our house "zestimated" at $51K more than we paid for it 9 months ago. The real estate market here is strong!

(Why yes, I just came home from a child's birthday party where real estate was discussed. Athens - just like Durham, only smaller and more incestuous!)
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Actual baby name: Samuel (Sam), siblings Olivia and Leo (to a college friend).

Our kitchen cabinet possum has returned. As of 8am she was sleeping on her back in the cabinet, half-snuggled into a plastic bag full of bolts of something, with a belly full of mouse-sized babies. A professional remover has been called. I started out annoyed with mr. flea for not getting around to blocking the entry hole, but then my mother handily deflected the annoyance onto herself by being SO EXCITED about the possum and planning to remove it herself and getting into the squabble mr. flea and I were having and generally feeding her need for drama. (I guess this is where Casper gets it from.)
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For house people, the Sanborn fire insurance maps are great. Here's Athens in 1918:

http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/sanborn/CityCounty/Athens1918/Sheet9.html

Our house isn't there, which is not a surprise since we were told it was built in either 1920 or 1928. But it's fun to go back (Athens goes back to 1885) and see which houses in our neighborhood appear when.
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We hit Atlanta again yesterday.

First, to Ikea, where I always want everything to be cheaper than it actually is. We bought a bookcase for the study, because mr. flea has several boxes of books still (because he has no shelf space in his office), and 4 folding chairs, so that we can actually invite people over to things that involve sitting. We notably did not get a desk for the computer. We had lunch there, and the whole experience was loud and stressful to me. Much less successful than last time; I may be done with Ikea except for targeted trips where I know what I want and get it.

Then to the Atlanta History Center to look at the muppet exhibit. The kids raced through, just looking at the actual muppets, and then mr. flea entertained them and several other parents in the play area by singing "rubber duckie," and "I love trash," as the appropriate characters and doing a pretty good Kermit and Piggy skit, too. Then I took the kids outside, to explore the gardens and run run run, while mr. flea went back and actually looked at the exhibit. It isn't exactly any garden's best moment right now, but these are clearly nice, and the kids loved the two play houses on the property; we didn't get tours of the historic houses or see any of the rest of the museum, but I'd like to go back, probably without the kids, and do both things.

The History Center is set in a very schmancy neighborhood in Buckhead, and as we drove to it I was struck by the large number of million-dollar houses in the vicinity with For Sale signs in front of them. It's gonna be bad, people.

Then we went to get more fancy Yolo paint, and picked out the color (Grain 01) very quickly, but the woman working in the store didn't know how to mix the colors and couldn't reach anyone who could tell her or help her. We spent about an hour there all told, with Casper reading Calvin and Hobbes in the store, mr. flea looking at the paint and waiting, and me charging up and down the sidewalk after Energy Boy. I did see the exact chair we bought at the outlet for $400 this summer for sale for $1100 in a schmancy furniture shop, which was nice. We left without our paint, and I bought some online this morning, with only $10 UPS shipping for 3 cans. Unfortunately neither the online images not the booklet we have are very good approximations of the color, so it really helps to go to the store where they have big posters painted with the actual paint. So we may end up there again as we work through the house.

The children were pretty much melting down by this point, so I hit Trader Joe's around the corner as fast as I could and we headed home, with Dillo thankfully falling asleep after about 10 minutes of crying.

Today I am at work and mr. flea is home with the kids, going to the doctor's to see if he has strep, and trying to pawn Casper off on some other family so he doesn't kill her. She has been terrible about TV and candy this break, and we are considering going to once-a-week "candy day" (which is what I had growing up, though frankly I think it just made me cave candy MORE) and mr. flea proposed cancelling our satellite dish tv (except then we'd have no tv at all.)
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A series of personal anecdotes.

We have lived in GA for five months now (as of Thursday!) and have experienced 4 separate infestations.

1. Ants. We had sugar ants in the house as soon as we moved in, and they laughed at our ant baits, unlike the NC sugar ants. We never really found the solution. They waxed and waned (keeping the sink religiously free of unwashed dishes was the best success) until cold weather set in.

2. Roaches. Not the little German cockroaches that inhabit urban locations in the northeast, but "water bugs" - inch-plus long cockroaches that are native to the South and live outside. We see them, live or dead, fairly regularly in the house (like, every couple of weeks). I killed one yesterday right inside the front door. The worst incident was when one fell from the ceiling onto the face of sleeping (not for long!) mr. flea. I don't know that there's much that we can do to keep them out. I think they are mostly coming from outside, and the house is an old and leaky one. I see dead ones on the sidewalks around town regularly, even in winter. They're basically endemic. I am trying to get better at killing them. In general I am not freaked out by bugs, but I hate roaches and their scuttling, and these are so big that when you kill them they are mushy and gross.

3. Squirrels. Our house is in what was once a pecan grove, and there are 4 large trees in our back yard. Should we wish to harvest pecans, we would have to fight the very numerous and aggressive squirrels for them. Now that nut season has passed, the squirrels seem to have turned to digging up my bulbs (at least, there are suspicious-looking holes in a couple of places; we'll see come spring) and invading our attic. In our bedroom, which is the converted attic, we hear the ceiling squirrels fairly often. Sometimes they are almost certainly outside, but other times they seem to be inside. Outside, they seem to have largely eaten a piece of metal flashing below our bathroom window. Our neighbor noted that it was new flashing installed when the former owner was putting the house up for sale, so it has been half-destroyed by squirrels in less than a year. (Our neighbor also told me about the Rat Wars of '98. Shudder.)

4. Which brings us to the incident that prompted this post. Friday night mr. flea was in our downstairs bathroom, which has a one-piece tub and surround unit, the fiberglass kind. He heard scratching underneath the tub. He then went into the kitchen and hear scratching coming from one of our lower cabinets. This particular cabinet backs up against the bathroom wall and has a big hole cut into the back, presumably where someone was accessing the bathroom plumbing at some point. Inside the cabinet mr. flea discovered a large possum. He managed not to shriek, but closed the cabinet door right pronto, and locked it with a child lock. We haven't opened it since, but have also heard no noises. Perhaps Mr. Possum has exited the building through whatever hold in the crawl space he entered through. My dear friends on Facebook, however, have regaled me with tales of possums with nests of babies in the house. But it's not possum baby-having season, right? Right?

5. I also want to note that the giant prehistoric grasshoppers, known as lubbers, are evil. They probably can't be counted as vermin, since they are a native species and (so far) have not attempted to come inside the house. But they are freaky-scary and they eat garden plants, so they lose on both the aesthetic and practical fronts.
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Last night in bed with Dillo:

me (sharply): Dillo! Quiet down and go to sleep!
Dillo: I'm angry!
me: Why are you angry?
Dillo: Because I want to fight!
me: Why do you want to fight?
Dillo: Because I'm fire -mumble-!
me: You're a fire truck?
Dillo: I'm fire NATION!
me: Oh, being fire nation makes you want to fight?
Dillo: I have all my powers!!! In my tummy. -does a variety of 'bending' moves, which involve flailing his limbs around-

Have I mentioned that nearly every sentence begins with "because"?

Have I mentioned he is SO TWO lately? Clothes are a real struggle (though, honestly, Casper was worse at this age), everything is the assertion of self and it must be just right and NO, I don't want milk in THAT cup, I want THIS cup, and I need the PINK spoon, and so forth. At least I have been through this before, and know it will pass.

Yesterday everyone went to school and work and stayed there without any untoward incidents. The kids were way tired when we got home, which meant that bath time was a festival of tears, and this morning was also rather rough (especially for Dillo, who 1.5 miles after we passed the Dunkies was still crying, "I never get donuts! I want to get some donuts, and eat 'em.")

Casper has been helping me paint the kitchen, which is progressing in very slow increments. All the parts she can reach are now painted. I have 1.5 walls left to do the cutting in on, and then a very fast time with the roller should complete the job, but I don't expect that to happen until the weekend. At which point we will buy new paint for the next step (white, for the lower part of the dining room, which is currently two-tone blue and green, and to paint the upstairs bathroom. We should also look for some primer and trim paint for upstairs, and downstairs too for that matter - someone did a crappy job of touching up the trim in a different white from what was already there. I think Sherwin Williams Harmony is going to be our next trial of low/no-VOC paint. We were very happy with the Yolo and will probably get more for the bedroom, but they don't really make plain white, and also we have to go to Atlanta to get it.
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In the plus column, we acquired Christmas cards (half #5 and half #9 - the former for elderly relatives and the latter for folks with a sense of humor) (viva la Target; I sent in the order and got an email 8 minutes later saying it was ready), got the grocery shopping done, got 25 leaf bags to the curb (mr. flea), and washed, taped and cut in 1/2 of the kitchen walls (me).

In the minus column, Dillo is pretty poorly, pale, threw up all day long long after there was nothing left inside (we've given him some fluids to prevent dehydration and he throws them up). Casper was okay, not barfy but listless and low, and then fell asleep and woke with one of her night-terror-like times - loud, inconsolable crying. Both are fitfully asleep now in the living room. I sit and look at them and frown. mr. flea's turn to stay home tomorrow.

Argh!

Dec. 14th, 2008 08:03 am
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Both kids are sick again. They were better for 36 hours, and now we're exactly where we were on Friday. What the hell?

I am starting to really stress about Christmas now. Today we were supposed to get our tree and get started shopping for mr. flea's family. Plus the usual grocery shopping. With the kids down, the Christmas tree farm is out; I guess I could send mr. flea to prowl for church parking lots (I have not seen a single place selling trees in Athens, but they must exist!) Mr. flea can do the grocery run single handed, but I wanted to hit the chichi kids store and Jittery Joe's in the same mall while we were there. mr. flea's sister set up an Amazon wish list last night, so it looks like we can shop for her online, except it's not finished (nothing listed for my niece, and we have to sort out what if anything, we'll do for my possibly STBXBIL). (Amusingly, my 9 year old nephew's list is 15 items long, and every single one of them is a Lego Star Wars item.)

I was a little skimpy on my own family, but I'm basically done unless I get guilty and throw some more money at them; I'm just waiting for packages to arrive. We got Target gift cards for the kids' teachers last night (we got a sitter! and went on a hot date to Target!) and got some stocking stuffers, though I was disappointed with the choices; it's a smaller Target and the toy aisles in particular seemed to have been ransacked. And I could not find ANY digger trucks that did not make annoying noises. I think I can finish that aspect in Kroger/Earth Fare/a couple of chichi kids stores downtown on my lunch hour.

And I really wanted to get the kitchen painted this weekend. Sigh.

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