Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Round Up

I have had numerous frantic realizations over the past week, all of which have been resolved.  Two involved gifts that I thought hadn't been delivered, which I found later under some other package.  Whew!  And then the whole problem that once I had everything laid out in front of me, I realized I was short on my parents.  My parents who go completely overboard on us.  It turned out okay, though it is still a bit of a shy of normal year for me for them.
So for the girls,  Thing 1 had decided she wanted a pet, not a dog or a gecko like we already have, but something that could be HERS in HER ROOM for HER.  After some internet research, she settled on gerbils.  They're small, they're friendly, they're not completely nocturnal, they're social and she could have two living happily in her room.  Thing 2 seemed okay with getting the gecko in her room as a compensation, instead of having the gecko aquarium in the hall.
Now this sounds fine and dandy until the actual day would approach.  I was pretty sure that Thing 2 would find this all horribly unfair and would decide that a single gecko does not equal out to a pair of gerbils.
I sort of ignored this whole situation, kind of hoping it would go away.  While I'm not opposed to having pets, this situation befuddled me and I figured if I put my head under the sand long enough it would go away.  After all, it worked last spring when Thing 2 started begging for a guinea pig, didn't it?  I had been nearly ready to go with the guinea pig then, but she stopped begging and Hubby said we should just figure we'd dodged that bullet.
Hubby took the bull by the horns, and on Christmas Eve started making the rounds at pet stores.  He talked to many pet shop employees, did some reading on his iphone, and then called me with the conclusion that while cute and social, gerbils are rascally little escape artists and you mostly play with them by watching them or catching them if they get out.  Getting a cage that would actually contain them would be a little more problematic.
He settled back on Guinea pigs.  They are social, friendly, and if tamed and held they tolerate being held just fine.  Each girl could have a cage in her room with her own pig, and we could put them together to play while the girls are at school.  Our investigation indicated that if handled frequently, guinea pigs will be easy to handle and are somewhat cuddly.  They are not nocturnal, they're not gnawers on the same level as gerbils.  We saw reports on websites that people's guinea pigs would follow them around the yard, and sit for hours on laps while you watched TV.  This is looking good.  We went so far as to privately talk to Thing 1, and ask her if her heart was set on gerbils how would she feel about a guinea pig?  We told her briefly what we'd found, and she said she was completely on board with the guinea pig, in fact would have asked for one in the first place but thought she'd have a better chance of getting a gerbil because they were smaller and she thought we might agree to that.
So for Christmas we wrapped up two guinea pig cages, and told the girls we could let them go pick out their very own piggies soon.  That was a sticking point for me, Hubby thought we should have the piggies there on Christmas morning, I was pretty sure the girls would want to pick their own.  Yesterday we went to my folk's for Christmas Part Deux, which left today as Guinea Pig Selection Day.

Apparently the choice was rather picked over from two weeks ago.  I like the long haired ones, and might have influenced the girl's choice when I started gushing over those... one had what looked like a large pimple on the back of his ear and the Petco girl told us she couldn't sell him.  We ended up with two males from the same cage, both long haired.  I think both girls kind of liked the same one the most, a little guy with a black head, and yellow and white body. Thing 2 also liked a rather sandy bed-headed looking guy.  Both weren't very skittish, sat quietly while held, and seemed quite lovely.  We finalized our selection, boxed them up, bought the necessities that weren't provided with the start up cages, and brought them home.  Several times I looked to the back seat to see the girls bracing the Petco box on the empty seat between them, with both of them leaning over to brace it with both hands.  For the whole 1/2 hour drive home.

After things were all set up and assembled back home, I came upstairs to take a nap, and Hubby and the girls went downstairs to watch a movie, the girls with the piggies on their laps.  Hubby reported that they appear to be "lap rodents."  (He said I could quote him on that.) Major score for Mom and Dad.
Shortly after we got them home and set the cages up, we noticed that Thing 2's piggy, preliminarily called India, has one eye crusted shut.  Sigh.
I expect they wouldn't have sold them to us if we would have noticed.  Thing 2 is already completely attached.  She came to me in tears and said it was worse, that before though he could open it, it is now completely closed and oozing a little white gunk.
I got on the phone and called two veterinarians, the one nearby who said they don't seem any piggies, and the one back in town where I always took Kelso.  Apparently they see guinea pigs fairly frequently... so I made an appointment.  Tomorrow I am driving the $34 guinea pig to his $45 check up appointment.
Kelso is Very Interested.  Since he figured out they exist, every time I turn my back he's gone upstairs to the girls rooms to look at them.
 Thing 2 posed with India
 Thing 1 with a close up of ... Maybe Maxwell

Monday, December 19, 2011

I found the camera cable!

I stopped taking pictures a while ago because I thought I'd completely lost the cable that hooked the camera to the computer, allowing me to release the photos from the bowels of my camera into the wild.  Why just create a worse blockage by making more photos?
Well, in an effort to de-frustrate myself I put up a shelf in the office and put some stuff on it, and underneath that stuff the camera case (containing said cable) emerged!
I haven't blogged much lately, partly because I've been very busy, but partly because of my frustration of not wanting to have to type the thousand words that the pictures would show, wanting to just show them instead!
Here is our house right before the craziness started:

Yes, there is a house behind those trees!

Right after we moved in we hired three different groups of people to 
1) take down some of those trees - most of which were diseased and sick
2) repair the exterior rain flashing stuff and repair the handrails on the porches
3) paint the exterior

There was one wild Friday when all three groups were here at once.  The day they took down the trees there were easily eight trucks parked on the street in front of our house in addition to the huge dump truck in the driveway, and a flurry of activity.  First the tree to the left of the front door came down:

And then the trees to the right: 

The temperature in the rooms behind the trees immediately shot up the minute the trees came down.  Good thing I hadn't taken down those nasty vertical blinds yet, but their days are numbered.  You can see on that right hand roof line how they started to paint the trim before the trees came down.  The guy in the green shirt is the carpenter, who found he couldn't just replace a couple of risers on the front steps because the whole thing was all corroded and falling apart... He had to replace everything from that front porch down, the whole step system.

The painting really helped perk the house up, and I really like the contrasting brown on the porches.  This is what it looks like today:

Vast improvement, eh?!  Why yes, thank you, it is!  
Next year we'll plant a few new trees, kind of at the lower edge of the grass line, which will give us some pretty landscaping, a little more privacy from the street.  I'm just happy there are no longer trees that look like they're trying to break into the house.

Interior construction has been going on too...
Most impressive is the new cubby wall, right as you walk in from the garage.  There were a couple things wrong with this house when we bought it, one of which was I really wanted a mud room.  There is a wide hallway there, and now it is sort of a mud-hall.  I now have a BEEEYOOOTEEEFUL wall of cubbies for family members and guests to hang coats, drop backpacks, and store shoes.  I am so tickled with how it turned out - except for one thing.  It's totally beautiful wood, I had to put some shelf liner on the lower cubbies so people's wet shoes wouldn't damage the wood.  DON'T HURT THE PRETTY WOOD!!

Notice the sweet little bench part where I sit when I'm putting on/taking off shoes...  These have reduced clutter around my house dramatically.  We found space for these by cutting into the bedroom closet on the other side of the wall.  We originally planned to put in IKEA cabinets in the bedroom on the opposite side, to line the wall in there with them, but turns out I didn't get the right measurements to the contractors/carpenters, so that didn't work.  And it would have not utilized the space so well, and cut into the room somewhat.  So this last week I told the carpenter to make me a utility room closet in there, 2/3rds shelves and 1/3 hanging closet, with dry erase doors.   That's a month out, now.  Had I figured that out originally, my utility room/sewing room/computer room/ on the other side of the cubby wall would be complete.  As it is now, there is still a big pile of stuff on the floor (where the cable was previously buried) waiting to be unpacked and put away into the closet that hasn't been built yet.  Photos will follow.

The completely unfinished basement has been framed in.  My storage area is currently storing stuff!  I did not have to drag Christmas, box by box, backward, out of the eves this year!  Do you have any idea how liberating that was?

More to follow...  Someday...