Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Oh the many joys of home ownership. I much prefer it to renting, but...

We've been in our house for just over three years now. I think we bought at the right time and the right price for us, and in general. The thing I like most about the house is the layout. Lots of big rooms that are easy to navigate, the tree in the front yard and the trees lining the backyard, my desk in front of the window. I like that Noah and I can spend all day upstairs and we don't have to Noah-proof downstairs.

Things I don't like about the house, the small downstairs - therefore master - bathroom, the cheap flooring beneath the carpeting, the very bad drywall/paint job throughout the house, and the unfinished room that is our laundry/storage room.

The house cost us $50,000 less than we had budgeted. And then, because of the appraisal, we paid $20,000 less than we offered. So using government math, we've got a $20,000 to $50,000 surplus! If only.

I'd say we've put about $10,000 into the house so far. We made some improvements to the kitchen, the backyard, insulation, curtains, things like that.

This week I've got people coming to give me an estimate on cleaning the carpets, fixing our refrigerator, and trimming some trees. If we can get all three done for under $1500 I'll be happy - well, not happy, but... (When people talk about the cost of living, I'm not sure they understand that because people like plumbers and electricians and such also pay that high cost of living, they charge more for services - it's a vicious cycle.)

About a year ago, the motor that pushes the ice out of the ice maker into your glass stopped. Fine, at least it was still making ice. Then the flap that lets the ice come down into your glass warped and so frost kept building up inside the freezer (solution - a rag pushed up in there to keep that flap closed). Yesterday, we were changing out the water filter on the refrigerator and it all went wrong. So, we've lost our ice maker and our filtered drinking water. We actually priced new refrigerators today. We decided that as long as the repairs are 1/3 the cost of a new fridge or less, we'll just get this one fixed. Or, if we're feeling cheap, we'll stick with our temporary solution of a britta water thingy and ice trays.

We also know that in the spring we have to replace our deck - there are one or two rotted boards already and if we get the cold/wet winter I think we will, it'll be a replace not repair job.

So, we've talked a lot this weekend about the house, about all the things we'd love to fix, about how we're probably never going to know just how much longer we're going to live here, and how do we decide where to live next, and if it's better to sort of "duct tape" things until we're ready to move, or invest in improvements. (We'd invest more for our own comfort than for any theoretical ROI.

I keep day dreaming about a custom built house near a lake, maybe in Tennessee, maybe back in Texas. One story, huge kitchen, huge master bath, huge master bedroom, huge living room with fireplace, and two good sized other bedrooms - Noah's and guest, and bathrooms, a two-car garage and a shed. What I really hate about most houses is all the wasted space of small rooms you don't have a real use for.

Sigh. Until then...

I asked Nerdstar what one thing we could do that would make her really like the house more. She said a true master bath - with the tub and the separate enclosed stand up shower, the two sink vanity, heck, maybe even heated floors! Now, the current unfinished laundry/storage room is adjacent to our current bedroom and small bathroom. I think it would be fairly easy to take out the current tub/sink and put the washer and dryer in the bathroom, then convert the laundry to a really nice master bath/walk-in closet.

One expense built into just about any improvement to this house is having to replace the electric box - about $2,000. (I got an estimate a year or so ago.)

I'll probably get a couple of estimates in a few weeks for that project - just so we'll know.

As for money, we've been really good about building up a savings account, partly because her job is never that secure, and partly because we know we'll need money to move one day. We could do some of this stuff and then just rebuild our savings. This house wouldn't be worth taking out a HELOC for, and I'd hate to make payments and interest and stuff for these projects.

Anyway, today we didn't buy a sleep number bed or a new refrigerator. Too bad we can't use government math and be happy about spending that money elsewhere.

We know we're lucky to have a house we like, and that we're not underwater on, we just want it a little bit better.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Odds and Ends

I put part of this on FB earlier, but on FB isn't as easy to access old things as it is on here.

Noah insists on having music playing in whatever room we're in. In his room it's his kids and dance music, in the living room it's country playlist. And that's fine. Except when he wants us to play DJ and skip songs he's not in the mood for.

Also, about a month ago he started insisting on getting up into his car seat on his own. Fantastic! My back is very happy about that. The only problem is when he decides upon getting in or out of the seat to take a detour either past his seat and onto the rest of the back seat, or even more fun, up to the driver's seat. He already loves to sit in the driver's seat and pretend to drive. Didn't know that started this early. He's pretty good with me about just getting into and out of his seat, with Nerdstar, not so much.

Somehow - we certainly can't imagine how - we're raising a complete night owl. Who also likes to eat lots of snacks before going to bed. This wouldn't be so bad, but seriously, Nerdstar and I are so damn tired and it's affecting too many other things. It doesn't seem to matter what time he gets up in the morning, how hard he plays, or how long or short his naps is. It's gonna be sad if all we do on our Vegas trip for Christmas is hand him off to Granny and Pa while we sleep all day! (I don't really want to think about dealing with the time difference.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Some Fun

A couple of weeks ago, I saw something about our County Fair and decided to check out the website. Then I saw that there's a cute baby contest broken into two age groups and the second group is 19 - 36 months. That seems fair.

So of course we sent in the form to enter our handsome boy!! Hehehehe. It's at 2:30 - 3:00 on Saturday.

Nerdstar keeps picturing Little Miss Sunshine.

Mostly we'll be going for the snacks!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Processing A Long Day

Most importantly, Noah is still fine. We all got a decent nap in. Hopefully he'll get in bed a little earlier tonight.

So, last night we got to bed around midnight. Noah fell asleep about 10:30 (close to his normal these days) and I knew I'd have a hard time falling asleep, so I went ahead and watched Breaking Bad. (Nerdstar is not a fan.)

Our alarms went off at 5 this morning, we woke Noah up about 5:20 and were all out the door at 5:40. The procedure was at a nice little outpatient surgery place in the same building my old phlebotomy job was in. Noah woke up in a decent mood and was happy and fine. I'm sure that changed once they got him back to the procedure room and tried to put an IV in him. Apparently it took 3 tries. I am sure he was hard to do because he's so strong and hard to hold still.

We were just settling in to wait, it was only supposed to take maybe 20 minutes total. Then the ENT comes out and tells us they were unable to intubate Noah and that Noah was waking up just fine and we'd see him in a few minutes.

Back in the room with Noah, the ENT gave us a prescription to get a CT scan of Noah's trachea and upper chest. He recommended this place in the next county over. After four phone, calls I finally get the right lady on the phone and she explains the prescription needs to be re-written and faxed to her before we can make the appointment. So, we had to call the ENT office knowing he wouldn't be able to get to it because he's doing surgeries today. They finally called at 6 pm and said they'd fax it first thing in the morning.

So. It was a very long day. I won't go into the worry I had all last week and the dark thoughts. I know every parent goes through them. But I was (and Nerdstar as much) really looking forward to being done with this problem and him starting to heal and start the process of breathing more normally. We know that even when this problem is solved, we then have to move on to more aggressively address his allergy problems.

Now, instead of being on that path, we have a whole new problem that has to be solved.

We're always aware and talk about how lucky we are that Noah doesn't have the type of problems Linus or any other number of children have. But we never expected his chronic maladies - the eczema year one, the allergies/adenoid stuff this past year, and now whatever else is coming up.

Today just didn't bring the feeling of relief we were hoping for.

Surgery Update

Noah's fine. He got an IV, but when they tried to put the tube down his throat, it wouldn't go. So they had to stop before they got started. We now have to schedule a CT of his trachea (4 phone calls so far and still not done). Ugh. It could be something very simple where all they have to do is use a little balloon type thing to intubate him, or it could be something with his airway that will need correcting like his adenoids do.

Not fun. He has to be sedated for the x-ray. Then we do the follow up with the ENT doc again, then schedule whatever surgery will be necessary. So several more weeks before we're done. At least we know he does ok with anesthesia.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Feeding/Eating With Noah

This post was inspired by one of my FB friends lamenting how hard it is to get her daughter to eat dinner.

I guess the changes have happened slowly, but they've happened. Noah still eats basically all the same things he's always eaten. His current favorite thing to eat any time we'll let him are the crunchy Nature Valley granola bars. So, that's what he starts his day with, apple juice diluted with water and one of the two granola bars in a pack. I still make his oatmeal with apple sauce and there's usually blueberries to go with it. That's slowly morphed into an early lunch. Which means most days he doesn't eat much lunch and therefore wants an early dinner.

I guess about three months ago he gave up his high chair and insists on sitting in a regular chair which we put a booster seat in for him. I make him sit in that chair to make sure he's really hungry enough to sit down and eat. If he won't get in the chair, he's not that hungry. And when he's done, he's done. There is no "one more/one last bite." When he's done with something, when you try to feed it to him he just turns his head away. If it's something he's feeding himself, he'll throw that bite.

Poor Ramen, Noah loves to feed him, and of course, he loves Noah's snacks, so I often end up putting him outside when Noah's eating.

So, his early dinner is still usually fruit, string cheese, cottage cheese, and/or yogurt. Him and Nerdstar love the Fage yogurts that have the fruit stuff you mix in. He also loves crunchy/salty stuff - even pork rinds Nerdstar shared with him on our road trip!

Unfortunately, his early dinner means he doesn't sit and eat with us anymore. He's also too wound up from Nerdstar getting home to want to sit still. The only way we can get through eating our dinner, when we cook at home, is to put on Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends dvd and hope he sits and watches it - sometimes while eating cheerios or fortune cookies.

Later in the evening, after playing with Nerdstar and watching "annoying orange" videos on, he finally wants more snacks. This is when he eats whatever of those few items he didn't eat earlier in the day. And when she doesn't make him sit in his chair to eat them. (ahem.) And this is when he still drinks some milk, which he doesn't like to drink in the mornings.

Now, this brings us to those nights we don't want to cook or do dishes and just want to go grab some dinner. I won't lament, once again, the total lack of restaurant/fast food choices in our neck of the woods.

Noah still loves people watching and restaurants. But, being a two year old boy full of energy, it's getting harder for him to sit in a high chair at a restaurant long enough for us to get through the meal. It takes just the right conditions - he has to have literally run around somewhere enough to be able to sit still, and he has to be hungry, really hungry. You'd be surprised how hard that can be to achieve. The one place we can take him where he'll eat the food there is Hometown Buffet. They have all his favorite things, apple sauce, cottage cheese, some carrots, red jello, peach slices and ice cream. We were there the other night with one of Nerdstar's co-workers, and Noah was done before we were. He would NOT sit in his chair and wanted to run back and forth in the isle. I never thought I'd let my kid "run around" a restaurant, but yep, I did. Any other place we go to eat, we still have to pack his snacks. We might have the only two year old who absolutely won't eat french fries, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, or other "kid" foods. We wouldn't mind if he did, he just won't put them in his mouth.

Do we wish he'd eat more different things? Yes. But we're happy he eats healthy stuff and is growing just fine.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kind of ironic

Took a while but I've realized that most of the fellow gay people that I know have struck me as even more closed off and prejudiced than a lot of my straight friends. Some of my straight friends, in turn, are even more gay than I could ever hope to be, in terms of their past experiences and how supportive they are of gay rights.

By closed off, I mean for those fellow gay people often claim that they are open minded and liberal, until they meet people who just happen to not share their opinions or are more conservative than they happen to be. It must be nice to be in a world where all your friends and acquaintances share the same opinions and values as you, plus agree with every damn thing that you say, but I, unfortunately, don't live in that sort of world.

I wish that when Noah grows up, he will have friends from all walks of life who don't necessarily share his political or religious views, and instead of block them off of his gmail accounts or facebook friends list (assuming that gmail, facebook, and whatnot are still around when he grows up) That he will be able to calmly discuss and learn from the differences between himself and other people without thinking that the world is out to destroy him. Yes, there will be people who are hostile and just cannot stand to see you happily live your life, but that is where some maturity, a strong dose of sense of humor, and a black belt in karate will come into play.

Oh, and about the Chick fil-a fiasco? Two of my straight friends have actually stopped going to Chick fil-a, and what did I do? I went to Chick fil-a drive through, got my #8 extra spicy chicken sandwich from the gay attendant and ate it right in front of my friends. I must really, really hate myself. C'mon people!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I'm still mulling over this whole gay/christian thing. You get to mull along with me.

On FB I said that the hardest thing is that it's practically impossible to find a church to attend. Yes, there are congregations of various sorts that are gay friendly. I'm not so hot on their theology. And churches whose theology I share, have a view of gays that isn't helpful. (Keep reading - this isn't about westboro types!)

I'm pretty sure the average Christian sees gays as people in the "lost needing to be saved" category. They think if gays are introduced to Christ and start attending church then becoming straight is a part of that process. So, if someone like me, a lifelong Christian who is also gay shows up at their church, not looking to not be gay, but to be closer to God, well, that poses a dilemma.

And maybe they're right. I started attending church when I was five. I "came out" when I was 17. And in all the time since I was 17, I've tried to find the answer to being both gay and a Christian. I spent many years going to church thinking being straight would work out for me eventually. Who knows, maybe it would have. But I fell absolutely in love with a young woman and that started me on my current path. So, then I tried for many years to give up being a Christian. That hasn't worked either.

The church I used to go to in Austin taught a lot about "being in the wilderness." I feel like I've been on a deserted island.

Is my current life the perfect plan God had for me? Maybe not. I'm not sure anyone I knew all those years ago achieved that perfect plan. Maybe they have. I know some who are still missionaries and many who have lovely marriages and families.

But that's not even the right question anymore. Because this is my life. This is my family. And I'm not giving it up or leaving it. Does that put space between God and I? Maybe. But does it mean I can't have a relationship with him at all? I can't imagine that to be true.

But it's hard out here alone.

The flip side of this is how my gay friends feel about the church. I'd say hostile and hurt.

I don't know the answers. But I know God's love and grace abound.