Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Progress Report-3 weeks

3 weeks exactly since we started on the new addition to the house and the progress is amazing.  We are completely framed up with a roof, plumbing complete, and electrical going in this week.  HVAC will go in next week and then after all the mechanicals and framing inspections are completed we start on sheetrock.  It is incredible to actually go upstairs and see the rooms rather than having to visualize them from the architecture plans.  We have made some small changes to the framing of the rooms as the crew builds to allow for additional windows in the kids rooms, and modified the closet spaces.  Very soon my laundry will be moved upstairs and the staircase will be built, allowing me to continue laundry with only 1 day sans laundry access-thank you Jeff!  I have been warned that I will be doing laundry in a construction zone, but  the alternative was 2-3 weeks with the washer and dryer in the dining room and having to go to the laundromat-that was not gonna work in this house!

We have had many people come through the house to check on the progress, and most immediately say "I could never live through this"maybe we just have a high tolerance for disruption and chaos? but honestly, the first two weeks were the worst and beyond that it just hasn't been that bad.  In the first two weeks they laid the floor system which included massive structural beams and a variety of holes in the ceilings in almost every room of the house.   They were sawing, drilling, etc right on top of our heads and it was SO LOUD.  The entire house would vibrate for hours on end, so much so that we had many shattered wine glasses in cabinets and picture frames on the wall.  You couldn't hear yourself talk for the majority of the day, so Hank took to screaming very loudly to be heard above the noise which added significantly to the chaos in my head.  It was difficult for the girls to nap with this sort of noise, so naps were often cut short resulting in two crabby ladies (3 if you included me). At this point the crew still didn't have good access to the upstairs from the outside, so they were having to come through the house and up the attic stairs nonstop with very large wood beams. There was a steady stream in and out of the house 8 hours a day-tracking a lot of dirt with them.     They would have to rearrange furniture in different rooms each day to build temporary supports from the downstairs before they could lay structural beams upstairs.   (often the kids rooms, resulting in moving the girls back and forth in attempts to accommodate sleeping and avoid a ceiling falling through onto them).  Crew would often come down and ask us to either leave the house or keep everyone confined to a "safe zone" while they did some sort of work that was deemed unsafe for us to remain in the house.  

So, yes this was not fun; however it was 2 weeks-not even really, probably more like 7 bad days.   Once the floors were down, and they moved onto framing, we hardly notice them at all.  They no longer come through the house and access the upstairs from ladders on the outside.   The noise is so much less than before that we don't notice it at all-we are also just used to it at this point.  Many of our neighbors have done this type of renovation before and moved out for 3 months to some sort of rental property.  Honestly the effort and money of moving 3 kids to a temporary location seems like a nightmare compared to the minimal disruption this has been.  It's obviously chaotic, as we have to store all the contents of the old attic downstairs, and find new homes for things that are being displaced.  We have a variety of holes in our walls and ceilings downstairs, and now that winter is arriving it is slightly drafty at night as we listen to the tarp blow in the wind (but nothing a few space heaters doesn't fix).  We still have a steady stream of people as Jeff stops by typically twice a day to check on things, Curtis our electrician comes by at least once a day to make sure we still have electricity, but honestly on the weekends the house seems kind of empty without our framers, Randy, Oscar, Omar, and Edgar and the constant hum of the compressor on the front porch.  

So the pictures can tell you more than I can.  We are starting to get into fun things like picking out fixtures in the bathroom, and deciding on floors etc.  I spend entirely too much time on Pinterest, pinning ideas for "bungalow bathooms" and "craftsman playspaces".  But seriously, how often in life do you get to custom build an 800 sq foot space specifically for your families needs?  It's so exciting to think about the finished product, that I feel like  kid on Christmas eve-likely what is contributing to my patience and tolerance for the chaos.  Short term discomfort for long term reward...repeat.

Looking into Hank's room from the top of the soon-to-be staircase

Plumbing is done!

The view from Hank's room down the hallway into the playroom and girl's room

Standing in the playroom looking into the doorframe for the girl's room

Inside the girl's room

Inside the girl's room-the beds will sit on both sides of the window

The old vents on the side of the house will be converted into windows and we got Jeff to carve out some space to create little window box nooks in both of the kid's bedrooms

The view from the outside-the tarp doesn't really come off these days now that the outside is framed.  I imagine it helps keep the crew a little warmer up there while they work

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fabulous 4

I don't think I've accepted that I am a mother to a 4 year old yet.  I still remember the day I became a mother so clearly, and how is it possible that it was 4 years ago?  This boy, there is so much I could say about him, he's such a real person in our home now-a person with real ideas, opinions, and feelings. The changes from 3 to 4 have been unbelievable. There is something special about your first born, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, especially without making everyone out there think you don't love your subsequent children as much as your firstborn.  But there is a special little corner of your heart that will always be reserved just for that child that gave you the title of mama, that one that paves the way for his younger siblings.  It's like this unspoken notion that we're figuring all this out as we go along in life-and with your sisters it is always a little easier simply because we've already figured it out once before with you. 

 Maybe it is because you are my first born, maybe it is because you are my only boy, maybe we are more alike than I like to admit, but Hank you challenge me like nothing in my life ever has.   You are simply brilliant-you think like your daddy and blow me away everyday with just how bright you really are.  You are a calculated thinker, no decision is made on impulse, you think out your options and make a very deliberate decision every single time.  I see the wheels in your head turning all the time, and wish that I could see what is going on in there for just a few minutes.  Although, maybe I don't want to know what's going on in that head.  You started at a new school this year and absolutely love it.  After a rough start to school last year, in a program that just wasn't the right fit for this boy, we moved you to a multi-age classroom at a school with a very hands on, creative, child-directed focus-clearly exactly what you needed.  You beg me to let you go to school everyday, because you just crave time with your friends.  We hear exclamations of "I love school!" that are so wonderful to hear.  The biggest change in the past year is that we've made the transition from us (the parents) being the preferred playmates to your friends.  Suddenly, you want to play with friends all the time, playdates at friend's houses and we don't even have to supervise.  Sometimes I can't believe I'm already here.  

Speaking of being "here", at age 4, being out in the world has brought home all sorts of hard questions and issues that make me realize that parenting just gets harder and more heart wrenching all the time.  Hank has a friend with divorced parents, and wants to know why this boy's mom and dad don't live together.  After explaining as best we could, we were left with a few nights of him waking up scared that his mom and dad wouldn't always live in the same house.  Another day he asks why his friend Abby in the backyard (who is 10 years old) doesn't play with him as much anymore.  We explain that she is just getting older and has more school and friend things going on, and he spends days pondering why Abby doesn't want to be his friend anymore-breaking my heart every single time he brings up his idea that Abby doesn't like him because he is too young.  

Of course there are still plenty of more light-hearted worldly observations, like recently when a Muslim woman was walking down the street as we drove by and Hank inquired as to why she was dressed like a ghost or why the hipster kids that live across the street wear such short shorts.  He keeps us on our toes constantly, always pushing the limits, and full of more energy that I ever imagined possible.  He is a very loving and thoughtful little boy, who never hesitates to write a get well card when he hears someone is sick and loves to celebrate other's birthdays as much as his own.  Still a fierce mama's boy, who loves to wake up and cuddle with me on the couch watching Curious George just like he did when he was a baby.  I fear these days are numbered, as he is already sleeping much later in the mornings and often I have to drag him from bed to get to school on time. 

Hank has changed so much as he has changed from toddler to little boy in the last year that sometimes I look at him and just cannot believe he is still the same little guy I brought home from the hospital 4 years ago. I do love watching him become an independent person, as he is starting to navigate this world for himself.  I have no clue what is in store for him and his generation, but I do know that Hank is destined for great things and will always make us proud.  

As you can see from the pictures below, an epic party was thrown to celebrate 4 years of life for Mr. Henry James.  We do birthdays big in our house, and nothing makes me happier as a mother than to see the huge smiles on my children's faces as we celebrate their special days.  

A few stats and likes/dislikes at age 4:  
Still off the charts at age 4, growing 3.5 inches in the last year.
Height: 43.6 inches 99%
Weight: 42 lbs 99%

  • Chick Fil A
  • Cyberchase
  • Playdates with Lucia
  • going to school
  • playdough creations
  • cooking with mom
  • adventures with dad
  • naps/bedtime
  • when Lucy plays with his toys
  • most foods not on his top 10 preferred list
  • chores

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mexicans in my Bed

We have officially "broken ground or maybe broken roof?"  on our upstairs addition.  We've been officially under construction for the past 10 days after finally getting our building permit from the city after 10 long weeks waiting. We started drawing up the plans for this project last January, and after our encounters with the GPNA historic committee, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, and then the City of Atlanta permit office we are finally cleared almost 1 year later to begin construction. 

   We are learning to exercise patience everyday as there is a steady stream of workers in and out of the house, and nonstop noise. My SIL, Susie introduced us to the concept of type 2 fun many years ago, and this life adventure certainly fits in the category of type 2 fun.  Kind of like traveling with kids, not exactly enjoyable while it's happening, but when you look back on it you see that it was worthwhile afterall.  If our life wasn't completely chaotic before, it's now in total upheaval-they were laying support beams yesterday and the whole house literally shook for hours it was so loud-we even broke some wine glasses in the cabinets and picture frames on the wall.   The kids are getting used to the crew that is here from sun up to sun down 6 days a week-Hank asks every morning when Oscar and Randy are arriving and Lucy waves hi and bye every single time they walk in and out of the house and her new favorite phrase is "what's that noise?".  Our yard is completely full of materials, we have a dumpster on the street, no roof (well does a huge blue tarp count?), the power flashes and surges on and off all day, and my favorite-the crew listens to telemundo style music all day that makes our house downstairs sound like we're having a mexican fiesta.  Lucy, our music lover, dances along a good bit of the day helping to keep up smiling.  This will certainly be one of those life experiences that we look back on, and wonder how the heck we survived.  

So how is June handling all the chaos? Well, fine considering she had a near miss when one of the crew came crashing through our bedroom ceiling onto our bed inches from her crib.  Don't worry-all is well, and we're already laughing about the whole day. The day was one of the windiest days of the year with huge wind gusts happening all morning that resulted in the tarp being blown off the roof a about 10 in the morning-did I mention the crew didn't show up that day until 1:30?  So, I was here with all 3 kids, and with every wind gust we got a showered through the attic and ceiling fan hole with various insulation, acorns, leaves, and halloween candy wrappers. Hank exclaims, " It's like camping in the house!", well not exactly because at least when you camp you have something covering your head.   With one particular gust, I see our building plans fly off the roof and through the back yard.  I fear losing the plans that took almost a year to get drawn up and stamped by the city, so I take off running after them in the yard-I think I'm carrying a baby or two while this is happening.  After a variety of nasty texts to Johnny to the tune of "where the hell is the crew?" "I'm moving out" etc.  they finally show up at 1:30 in the afternoon.  I breathe a sigh of relief and figure the afternoon should settle down from here.  

I finally get June down for a nap in our/her room (because remember we are out of space in the house and Johnny, June, and I all share a room currently).  I shut the door, and start working on cleaning up the disaster in the rest of the house.  Not 20 minutes later, I hear June start fussing and at the same moment Johnny comes in from work the door to grab his phone charger from our room.  Johnny bikes over to the office, so he has his helmet on as he runs into the bedroom to grab his phone charger.  I follow behind him to check on June, and when he opens the door there are two crew members in the room, one standing over June's crib-I say "what are they doing in there?" and Johnny looks at me like I know what is happening.  I walk into the room to see a huge hole in the ceiling directly above our bed and my baby sprinkled with all sorts of debris.  And here comes my husband, with helmet on to protect him from any falling debris running into the room uncertain of what has exactly happened.  Pretty sure the crew made fun of him for a while after that.  

I pick up the baby, ask what happened, and the guy with minimal English responds with "new guy" June suffered no permanent damage that we know of-maybe she'll need therapy later in life from the trauma, we now have a skylight above our bed, and laugh pretty hard every time we think about the whole situation.  While this was playing out, Lucy who is constantly battling for center of attention now, throws a glass vase at one of the workers that shatters all over the floor at his feet, and almost simultaneously the power goes out.   Hank, who loves to be captain obvious, continuously points out that there's a huge hole in the ceiling and ponders out loud how we are going to fix that.  

That my friends, is the story of mexicans in my bed....we are now on edge with every bang and boom waiting for another hermano to come flying through the ceiling-maybe we should all start wearing our bike helmets in the house.

Enjoy the pictures from the first week of construction.  

Demo complete-no roof on the entire back half of the house

I have a hard time picturing this being transformed into 800 sq feet of living space for us, but man I am so excited about it.

This will be Hank's room

This is looking from Hank's room down the hall at what will be the bathroom, playroom, and girl's room on the other end

This will be at the top of the staircase, looking into the bathroom.  

 June after dusting off the debris--no worse for the wear, she's a 3rd child-has to be tough, right?

 Someone call jefe!  Ironically, the boss (jefe) is Jeff...we do nothing without jefe's approval around here...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

June 2 months

2 month stats:
Height 23.25 inches 91%
Weight 11 lbs 45%

I mean is this a beautiful baby girl or what?  My sweet June bug is now at that adorable, squishy, smiley baby stage-not that alien, old man look that all newborns have complete with flakey skin and baby acne.  I already can't even imagine our family without Junie.  We seem to be coming over the hump of the new baby adjustment period-Hank has really done pretty well, but Lucy has had more trouble accepting her middle child status.  It seems that the random 2 year old, flailing on the floor, screaming fits seem to be calming down for the moment...while they are hilarious to me, the decibel level in the house is now at max so high pitched screaming over the wrong color fruit snack isn't always welcome.  Lucy has recently warmed up and started "petting baby" and loves to label all of June's body parts-"yook mommy, baby eyes" poke poke poke in June's eye sockets followed immediately by "yook mommy, baby crying". They'll learn to love each other eventually- I even caught Lucy trying to color June the other day, "crayons on baby, mommy". Progress, right?

June appears to be our brown eyed baby, and seriously has the roundest head and face imaginable.  She is still keeping the title of my best sleeper-the past 2 weeks she's been doing 10-12 hour stretches at night AND she's started putting herself to sleep which is so dreamy.  I don't believe in any of that Babywise nonsense, they get it when they get it and I've done my time with bad sleepers, so thank goodness for this nugget's good sleeping skills.  She's super smiley, and started really cooing recently. She loves to play on the playmat, with lots of kicking and batting at toys.  Hank claims she's already rolled over, but I think he may have pushed her over in an effort to "help".  She's got awesome head control, and is already working it in the Bumbo chair.  She doesn't love the carseat, unless we are in constant motion.  Loves her baths, binky, glow worm, and swaddle.  All in all, she's a pretty mellow little one that is just along for the ride most of the time.  I'm almost sad that she sleeps so well at night, because that was our quiet time alone...ALMOST...

Happy 2 months Junie!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Happy Hallowiener

I LOVE Halloween.  It is one of the best holidays with kids-lots of fun with no gifts to buy or meals to prepare.  Endless candy? yes please.  Now that we have two trick or treaters participating in all the festivities it is seriously double the fun, I cannot imagine once June is old enough to appreciate the festivities.  First up is the annual Grant Park Halloween Parade which is hands down the most popular event that the parent network does in our neighborhood.  There aren't actually any spectators in the parade its just all the kids in costume walking around the park with the high school band and fire truck leading the way followed by dinner picnics in the park.  This year we had a spiderman, a pig, and a pumpkin in the house.  Hank wore his costume 24/7 for about 4 days, Lucy screamed anytime the pig head came near her for a few days, and June just looked at us all like we are crazy folk. 

 I couldn't get it together enough this year to have costumes for Johnny and myself; however we did make it to the Mothball this year, which is another Grant Park tradition-basically think adult prom/costume party with better food and drinks.  This year's theme was Hootenanny, so Johnny and I got ourselves all done up and had a night out on the town with some awesome friends--plenty of fun was had by all!  I'd like to mention that the combo fu manchu/mutton chops hung around way too long until I forced him to shave them off for our family photos this past weekend threatening to shave them in his sleep if he refused.  

Pig down! Probably having a fit about not being allowed to eat non-stop candy.

Back up and on the candy trail! 

Seriously guys? 

Our fav halloween story--not sure if it's because of our household favorite food on the front or the fact that it says the word wiener repeatedly...

See ya next year halloween! This is one holiday I'm actually sad to see go...