29 January 2015

Electrician update

So the electrician came yesterday to do his initial assessment.
It took us awhile to FIND an electrician because we wanted one who wouldn't be too alarmed by the questionable and most certainly unpermitted work that the previous tenants performed, but who would still assess and fix it. And be reasonably priced!
We went with some local dude my mom knows, because we live in a small town and of course.

There is some really.....suspicious wiring that we're finally taking care of. Like how one of our bedrooms is powered by an extension cord going through the wall. And how the washing machine is also wired to an extension cord. And so is the basement. And basically a lot of extension cords where extension cords really do not belong.
Plus the aforementioned upstairs room issues.
I was at work, Quentin was spraying the undercarriage of his mom's house with orange oil (like the good son that he is), so my mom showed the electrician around. She kept calling me to confirm quirks (oh yeah, that light switch works about half the time, but definitely not always. That switch GOES TO NOWHERE. No I don't know what that does).
I asked if the electrician was horrified. I heard him say, "Don't worry, I've seen worse. Well....not much worse."
So! The electrician is coming back tomorrow to begin fixing things.
Which is very nice because I am newly refreshed with worry about new things to worry about.

28 January 2015

January Assortment

Doing taxes with another person is annoying.
Quentin is self employed.
He handed me a shoebox of receipts.
My job is...a lot right now. Good, rewarding, blah blah, but also a lot.
I'm heading up the implementation of a new financial system (huge).
It's year end.
Oh and our CFO resigned unexpectedly. Last week.
So it's just a lot, and I'm really tired, but on the balance of things, I guess I'm not as tired as I would be at my old job. I'm just used to fewer demands, and whatnot.
Oh here's a thing. The receptionist at my company also works at my gym. Today she ASKED ME ABOUT MY GYM ATTENDANCE. NOTING THAT I HAVE NOT BEEN TO THE GYM MUCH LATELY.
I feel like a sacred cone of silence was shattered.
And now I never want to go to the gym again.
Gabriel's birthday was Monday! He's nine, and fabulous. I took him and his cousins to the arcade after school, which is one of the lower circles of hell, but they had a lot of fun. Then we went to the park, and out to pizza, and by the end of the day everyone was still getting along and not a single tear was shed. My mom made cake.
We're moving Gabriel upstairs, which is....a very strange room. I've written about it before, but this isn't the blogging of yesteryear, so I don't even want to go find the post. Anyhow it's an attic room, so slanty walls down to the floor (A-shaped), so weird to furnish, and then it has some extra special quirks like mystery linoleum flooring, poor ventilation, and random electrical outlets in the floor.
Oh and no light switches.
Anyhow, in order to move him upstairs, we're having an electrician take care of the scary floor outlets and install proper light switches so you don't have to stumble blindly into the dark room reaching for the string to pull the light. Once that's taken care of we're going to have the floors redone, and then we're putting a ventilation fan into one of the eaves. And then because the stairs are strange and narrow, a full sized box spring does not fit up the stairs (or through the window). So we bought an IKEA bed frame situation which we're going to assemble upstairs.
It's all a lot of work and also it's making my head hurt just thinking about the expense, even though I suppose the expense is reasonable. I rent, but from my family (and at a VERY low price), so we have kind of a weird setup with expenses like this. No one is making any money off my rent (it offsets property expenses), and my rent is so low, that it's not like a normal landlord relationship where I feel like demanding improvements. There are some things that I do not pay (when my roof was leaking, my downstairs floors that needed to be redone very badly, replacing rotting deck boards) because the reality is I don't own the house, and that's not my job. But other expenses that would fall into 'landlord' in a more traditional setup, I take on. Basically the line is "Is this a safety issue or a comfort/improvement issue?".
Safety issues: Landlord.
Cosmetic house improvements: Me.
So the upstairs floors are all me. The electrical stuff is sort of half scary (weird wiring) and half cosmetic (hideous fixtures), so we are splitting the cost.
I figured out that my rent is so low that I can spend anywhere between $5-$10K per year on improving my house and I would still be paying below market rent in my (very expensive) area. Of course I don't have $10K laying around, but I really don't sweat things like paying for new flooring in my rental, because it still comes in well under the threshold.
That was boring, but in case you were wondering why I'm worried about the expense of new floors when I rent.
Gabriel will like being out of his tiny closet bedroom, anyhow.

02 January 2015

Pictures from my wedding reception

This was sort of the big deal thing I did in 2014. It was in November, and I just got pictures back on New Years Eve.
Susannah is a deeply satisfying 2-year-old. I'm sharing my lipstick.
This kid is the best kid
Do you SEE how awesome Susannah is though?
This is my sister, me, and my mom. And my sister and I are both making weird faces. But whatever! BE COOL I SAID.
My brother James has a girlfriend, and they're pretty darned cute
Your annual reminder that there are FIVE OF US.
I'm so, SO GLAD there is a photo of this. Because it is the reason that my husband was 2.5 hours late to his own wedding reception. Just think about that for a minute. I'll wait. Just let it process. Yeah. This. Is. Why. He. Was. Late.
And finally, of all the photos taken, this is my hands down favorite. Because...my nephew and my friend's son are very deeply involved in a physical fight. Photographer is DOCUMENTING THE EXPERIENCE. You can see my friend Ashley (that's her son being strangled) stepping in from the upper right. Our cousin who is the same age watching from the foreground. FAVORITE PICTURE.


1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
I got married! Haaaaahahahaha that's going to come up over and over again, y'know?  
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any! So yes!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Molly! Had a really cute baby! The cutest! Three questions in and we're already balls deep in exclamation points!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My dad's stepdad passed away in the fall. It...was time. He had been on hospice for some time, and had been in a years long steep decline. He was 89. 

5. What countries did you visit?
The United States of America. I don't see this answer changing any time soon. Gone are my days of frolicking about the globe. 

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Hmmm....a BABY? 

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
10/10/14 - I got married!!!
11/8/14 - We had an after-the-fact wedding reception!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Oh I dunno. I'm a whole lot happier. Oh! I got put in charge of this project at my job! That's pretty cool.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I fell asleep at the wheel and totaled my car and very fortunately did not die. 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No! Well I cut open my forehead during the aforementioned car accident, but it wasn't serious.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I got a lot of makeup that I've really been enjoying. Also the money I spent on trips this year, those were all good.  

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Gabriel is just super rad.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I had some disappointing friend moments, but overall I'd call it resolved. 

14. Where did most of your money go?
Life, shopping, travel. 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Visiting my niece in AZ, getting MARRIED, painting my living room, seeing a bunch of my friends in November, going to Philly.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Our House

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter (like, WAY fatter, this has been a 2014 problem).
c) richer or poorer? Richer. 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?
It was Gabriel's dad's year for Christmas, so we did Gabriel Christmas on Christmas Eve, and spent that evening at my grandma's (as usual). Christmas Day we visited with my family and then did dinner with Quentin's.

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
90 Day Fiance!  

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
The final Daughter of Smoke and Bone book! I don't remember what it's called. It's good! 

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2014 was musically stilted. 

26. What did you want and get?
It feels like every damn thing I can think of. 

27. What did you want and not get?
I'm still trying to get Quentin to paint the kitchen.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
32. Quentin and I went to dinner and drinks all dressed up fancy-like. 

30. What is one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don't know! 

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
I'm fat so anything stretchy. 

32. What kept you sane?
My boys.

 33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Did you hear JGL got married?? 

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Ferguson, etc. 

35. Who did you miss?
I got to see so many people this year! College friends! High school friends!

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Either my husband (scandalous) or my puppy.

 37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Just go for it! 

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands! Exclamation points!

18 December 2014

Hotel Wish Lists

I'm on my second work trip of the year.
I have developed a list of hotel THINGS, both required, and nice to have. I'm writing it down for the next time I need to book something.

Room service. The hotel I stayed at in October didn't have it and it was devastating.
Swimming pool/hot tub. I don't always use it, but I always want the option.
Fitness center. Same as above.
Full service bar that's not weird. On my last trip the bar was an extension of the hotel front desk, at my current hotel the bar is beer and wine only.
Mini-fridge. If you're gone for a week, sometimes you want to have a place for a cold beverage or leftovers.
Free WiFi. Why are hotels that charge for WiFi even still a thing? That's not how 2014 works.
Ice machine on every floor. I guess this is more of a strong preference than a requirement, but seriously? Why is this even an option.
Showers that aren't flawed. I feel like so many hotel showers either don't have good water pressure or don't drain properly or whatever.
Decent bathroom lighting.
A cable/tv system where you can hit a guide button and see all the channels and shows that are upcoming instead of just going channel up/channel down and trying to memorize the ones that you like and figuring out what might be on where and when. This was especially annoying when I was traveling during the world series and couldn't find my Giants. Did I click through the channel and it was on a commercial? WHO KNOWS IT IS A MYSTERY.

My last hotel had gym/pool/WiFi/kitchenette area but had a weird bar and no room service and ice machines on every other floor and I was not on one of the ice floors.
At this moment, I'm staying at a hotel that does have a gym and a pool and free WiFi and room service and an ice machine on my floor, but does not have a mini-fridge or a full-service bar.
Both hotels have had flawed shower situations.

The next work trip I have to take, I will try yet a third hotel chain, in hopes of finding the golden land at a price that my company will pay for.
So I'm crowdsourcing.
What is your favorite reasonably priced hotel? There's no luxury hotels in my future, at least not ones paid for by my job.

11 December 2014

Decision Tree

Last Saturday night, a lost person knocked on our door.
He was young and hipsterish, and clearly terrified.
I was also terrified, because it is extraordinarily difficult to wind up at my house on accident, and I was not expecting visitors.

So, let's talk about how you get to my house. Let's talk about how you get to my house ON ACCIDENT.
I live at the top of a mountain, at the end of miles of windy road, on 200 acres, surrounded by other families living on hundreds of acres. In order to get to my house specifically, you need to get to the top of this road, and then choose our family driveway, which is one of four driveway choices, all long and windy and one-laned in nature. While the gate is kept open, our driveway is obviously gated. This driveway is 1/2 mile long, only wide enough for one car. At the top of that driveway, it forks. The drive to the right is where my aunt and uncle's houses are, to the left is my parents' house, and, beyond that, mine. So you get to the top of this driveway and you turn left, and then you drive through another gate, and past my parents' house, and then through ANOTHER gate, and then, in order to keep driving to my house, you drive onto a DIRT PATH. I literally live out a dirt PATH. It is wide enough for a car, so you can drive on it, and I sometimes call it a road, but you are also jostling over redwood roots, and there are no lights.
This is literally what my road looks like. Now picture it muddy.

So this young man knocks on our door because he's driven to our house. He only stopped at our house because Quentin's car was parked out front. Otherwise, I gather, he would have continued onward, into the field below...?

He explained that he was trying to get somewhere, and he was following google maps, and was he going the right direction?
I knew exactly where he wanted to go, and it is physically close, maybe a mile, from where I live, but probably a 40 minute drive. You have to drive down our mountain road and up a separate mountain road.
Apparently google thinks you can drive through, but, no. I think if you take another driveway, there may be an old logging road that you can walk through on? I digress.
In order to leave, once he determined he was, indeed, lost, he had to back up our road, as that is the only exit. In the dark (and it was raining) he got instantly stuck in his little sedan. Stuck, on our road, right there.
I called my dad, and my uncle, to see if any of them had ideas about how to get this dude off our property. They terrified him by being grisly country men and calling him an idiot.
Young man called a tow company, but they did not have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle available to pull him out.
Quentin drove him to town, to return in the morning.
Well, Quentin drove him to the bus stop.
And then had to explain to this person how to take the bus. Like, how city buses work.
He came back in the morning, and it hadn't rained any more, and by the light of day he was able to back out and drive away, sheepishly.

What I would like to discuss is the series of decisions that led this guy to our driveway. I get that he was following his GPS, and I don't fault him for that, but at the end of the road, when he had a series of driveways to choose from, how did he choose our driveway, instead of, say, turning around, calling his friend, or choosing a different driveway? Then you get to the top and there is a fork in the road, and you turn....left? Okay. And then you DRIVE THROUGH A GATE AND PAST A HOME, and you do not think, "I am lost. Let me reevaluate."
You keep driving.
I just.
How does this happen?
I just want to talk about this decision tree.
At what point to you let your instincts override your smartphone because, hey, perhaps I do not wish to drive my honda civic into a field.
My house

12 November 2014

Wedding (Ceremony)

I got married last month!
How about that?
We went to city hall in San Francisco, siblings and parents and Gabriel.
We had lunch after, and a cake.
Things nearly went off the rails because Obama was SURPRISE! in town, and traffic was....affected.
But. We still got married.
That was the goal.
We are stupidly happy.
I have no apologies to offer for how sappy I've become.
Daniel and Laura likely both hate this photo, but it was the only sibling pic from the day. And the background action really makes it for me.
We had a party last weekend. That was pretty swell too.

02 July 2014

Gabe the Extraordinary

Gabriel is at his dad's this summer, and it's breaking my heart.

This is the third summer where he's spent the bulk not-at-home. It doesn't get easier. You get used to it, but it doesn't get easier.
This weekend my brother and niece are in town, and it just breaks my heart that Gabriel can't be here to hang out with his baby cousin. They're just crazy for each other.
Gabriel and I have been writing letters to each other to pass the summer. Writing to an 8-year-old is a tricky task. How do you make the letter interesting, but not make him homesick? You have to keep it simple enough that your second-going-on-third grader can read it, but not so simple that they won't want to.
I write significantly more letters than I get back, which is to be expected.
Last week I got this letter though, which filled me up so far water came leaking out my eyes.
Dear mom,
I love you. Do the cats miss me? Tell Kevin hi. I love you so much. I miss you.
(Kevin is one of our cats, by the way).
Gabriel is extraordinary.
Gabriel has grown into a full human person who writes letters and inquires after the cats and still tells me he loves me.
It blows my mind that I managed to have any part in making this special person.
What makes your kid extraordinary isnt' just the epic stuff. It's the little things. Crawling into bed on Saturday mornings. Art projects. Catch in the yard. Handstand contests. The small moments that maybe only you see — and quietly celebrate every day. Your kid, and every kid, is extraordinary.

This post is sponsored by Stanford Children's Health, but my feelings as a mother are entirely my own. Stanford let me make a special video to send Gabriel. I could practically hear him rolling his eyes through the phone, but his dad told me he immediately asked to watch it ten more times.
He's such a goofball and I love it. Your kid is extraordinary. Show them how much you enjoy every moment together by creating a special video of your own!
Seriously, celebrate your extraordinary kid. Share your love, hope and pride for your extraordinary kid by creating a personalized video that captures what makes them one-of-a-kind.
It's fun, and free!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.