Move Update ~ House Prep

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, Consumer Info, Household, No Whining

I’ve been working like mad, mad I tell you, trying to get the house ready for the arrival of the Realtor at 2 pm today, which you know if you follow me on Twitter. I’ve been a pain in the butt complaining about it, so you have my apologies. Doing what I can to stay sane with the accompanying dizziness, migraines and nausea for such high stress levels as I’m running.

I’ve had no exercise since Saturday’s 5k run. Did I write about that? I’ll check later. I know that’s seriously impacting my mood and I crave a good long run.

I’ve been eating all the right food, but am on a weird schedule and haven’t been tracking my Weight Watcher points. I only eat when I’m hungry, no more than once every four hours and I stop at a regular serving. Easy to do since I’m home and it’s all the same stuff. Weird thing is, I feel squishy and think I’ve gained weight this week. Again, no run since Saturday morning, and even with all this hard physical labor, it doesn’t seem to be maintaining me, let alone helping me lose.

I’ve only been able to nap the last few days, and wake in a panic to start working again. It’s kinda working, in that it’s the only thing I can manage right now. But, I’m sure that’s thrown my metabolism way out of whack.

Back onto a normal schedule after we get past this hurdle, and hopefully I can salvage the week, weight-wise. But if not, I’m cutting myself a damned break. I deserve it.

Flooded And Contemplative

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, Friends, Household, No Whining, Our Kids, Soulful

Because we’ll be going into a smaller home, I’ve been going through each box and doing a major purge. I’m finding things I haven’t seen since my kids were babies, and am also packing up things for my Ex as I come across them. I don’t believe there is much of that stuff left, since I’ve done searches in previous years. I keep finding myself teary eyed as I find a story or piece of art work from my sweet boys and am keeping the most special of those. I hope to scan them later, as some are really gorgeous.

I find myself puzzled with what to do with some of my memorabilia. I’ll be scanning newspaper clippings and the like, but some things, like my ballet costumes from elementary school days? My baptism gown and candle? The wedding dress, album and cards from my marriage to the father of my children? I’ve got all the jewelry put away for the boys in case they want it, but I don’t think they will EVER care about that other stuff. Photographs are scanned or being scanned as part of a project for my entire multi-thousand photo family archive, which I know will some day mean quite a lot to them. But it’s not like I have daughters, and there’s no guarantee that even girls would want to inherit my old tutu’s.

Looking at the ballet costumes, I wonder if that’s where my love of fairies and Italy came from, as my ballet class did performances representing both. Sadly, I no longer have my white jumpsuit from my tap and jazz performance of “Disco Duck.” I loved the dance classes, but gave them up because the ballet toe shoes intimidated me, and I wish I could go back and tell that little girl to balls up and give it a try. After seeing all the classes that friend Laura Burns is taking, I’ve added ballet classes to my wish list. We can’t afford them now, but … some day.

On Saturday afternoon, overwhelmed with another migraine and our house in complete disarray, we decided to skip the box-by-box purge for now. As I mentioned previously, it’s now about speed to market. I’m hoping to be moving furniture on Monday or Tuesday at the latest, with help from my son and nephew (I hope!).

It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I’m taking a break from packing. I’ve had a migraine most of the day, and it finally eased. Chooch and Naughty Bear are asleep as normal people should be, but I am playing catch-up for lost days due to the migraines (yesterday and today).

The break is not due to physical need, it’s because of emotional need. I’m surprised at how much difficulty I’m having as I pack up the little things: gifted fairies, figurines painted by our family, Serenity figurines, books and all the things that make this house our home. I knew it would be tough to pack away photos of loved ones, especially those no longer with us. I am keeping my digital photo frame, so I can turn it on when I’m missing the personality of the place and keep it off the rest of the time.

Part of it is seeing the mix of things from before we started podcasting and entered this amazing community, and things after we met some amazing people that now reside in our hearts. Adding to the shelves over the years was fun, be it books, figurines or memorabilia from conventions and gatherings. Seeing these items spread out is fascinating. It’s like finding the dividing line between layers of rock, there is a clear delineation of these times in our lives (like after a comet smashes into the Earth).

I look at some of the items that I’ve had on display for years with new eyes and wonder if it truly fits who we are today. Nothing will be gotten rid of yet, we’ll make those decisions as we unpack at the next place. It is interesting to see how much and adult can evolve in six years. Changing interests as my experiences changed and allowing more of my own personal style into the backdrop of our home where once I hid it away as being “too feminine” in a house full of males. Amazing what a supportive mate can bring out in you, as I look at some of these things and know that they represent events, people and experiences that would have never, and I do mean never, happened without his influence.


Edit: It’s now Tuesday evening, and the initial, main-level packing is done. The furniture has been moved and I do not like it. The time until we (hopefully) sell will feel like forever, as this is not the home we’ve built up over the last six years. I’m bummed about it right now, and shocked every time I move from room to room. I know that will fade, especially when we finish moving things around and add generic touches.

Still, I miss our silly belongings. They seem oh, so, silly, compared to the decor in friends houses. But we love our toys and our webcomic statues and prints. Having a signed box by the dev’s at Lord of the Rings Online? That resided in a place of honor on our bookshelf, right next to the “Cardboard Tube Samurai” and “Big Damn Hero – River” figurines. That shelf was directly above the one a half shelves of signed books, CD’s and DVD’s from podcast authors, signed authors, musicians and creatives. THAT was hard to pack away as well.

And I miss the faces of our friends and family with all the pictures down. Generic only, remember?  I’m updating the digital photo frame and will keep it on when I’m home so I don’t lose my place in the world.

Seeing Kaylee move around in our space and watching her try to make sense of the changes is strangely reassuring to me. Our little piece of the world has changed, and hopefully it will lead to better things. I don’t mean to be emo, just reflective of how silly it is that these material items being a couple miles away in boxes can throw me for such a loop. Gonna have to examine that, methinks. Lord knows, there are bigger things afoot in the world.


Move Update, aka Progress

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Household, No Whining, Soulful

We have a realtor, and I’m so glad I asked for three to interview instead of the standard two. The first two had pros and cons and were very nearly exact opposites. The third one hit all our important issues, experience and personality that made us way more comfortable then we had been with the other two. We’ve made the Goldilocks comparison more than once.

We’ve signed the paperwork and our house is a wreck right now as I’m going through and depersonalizing and staging the house for listing. The point of depersonalizing  is to remove your presence (photos and “personality”) so potential buyers can imagine their own family in the home. For staging, the first step is to declutter, which follows the depersonalizing nicely. You remove excess furniture to show how much space is available.

My son and nephew were here for two days to help out, but I ran out of things for them to do until either the weather turns sunny or until I get more boxes purged. We’ve already made a big difference in the basement and have some things moved to storage, but there’s so much more to do it’s really overwhelming. With hubby’s work and band schedule, it doesn’t leave much time for him to help. And I don’t want him breaking his back every day of the week so we’re trying to build in a few hours of fun each weekend. Plus it will keep us sane. Hopefully.

We don’t have the budget to paint or re-carpet, so I’m not sure how this will go but financially, we really must downsize. There will be general fixes and LOTS of furniture moved. I’m hoping this doesn’t drag on all summer so we can enjoy LT’s visit as fully as possible, and more importantly avoid some less than pleasant financial situations.

I’ve been working for about two weeks straight, with a few breaks for sanity, and my body is showing some serious wear and tear. The fatigue is intense, and even with the sleep aid I’m not getting much rest. Because of this and a need to get the house on the market ASAP, we’ve just now decided to make the big furniture moves this week and save the box by box purge to do later, after the house is on the market. I’ll finish what I’ve started, which is the kids’ childhood memorabilia, and then just start moving un-purged boxes to storage, keeping them separate so I can work on them as I’m able while waiting for the house to sell.

Basement doom in my living room

Luckily, we have wonderful and supportive friends and family to buoy our spirits and lend helping hands. It’s another time where I’m overjoyed by the blessings in our lives.

I plan on doing a more detailed post very soon on house staging for sale. For now, I must get back to work. *tick*tock*tick*tock*

Relocating Casa de Blender

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Consumer Info, Household, No Whining

We’ve been talking about moving for a long while now, but have been putting it off for a multitude of reasons. The biggest being our hopes that some treatment would actually work for me, that I’d be able to return to work, and our money problems would be eased. Since that hasn’t happened, and since I’m still seeking effective and/or consistent relief, we no longer have a choice. Our finances just can’t bear the situation we find ourselves in. No, you won’t find a chip-in donation site at the end of this, nor is this a plea for sympathy. I realize our situation is very similar to one that many find themselves in. I just wanted to update near and far friends on our situation since we’ve been tweeting about interviewing realtors and getting the house ready to sell.

I’ve found that since we plan on getting a house roughly half the size of our current home, we’ll very likely be able to live much closer to Chooch’s job. Besides a cheaper housing payment, it would save a substantial amount of money on gas (based on current and projected gas costs for this year and next), as well as wear and tear on the cars. Plus, the time he would recoup is astonishing. Not only will he be going from a 3 hour a day commute to less than an hour, he won’t have to miss a full day’s worth of work to take me to doctor appointments. Win!

Our bank/insurance company has a great program for buying/selling, so I contacted them and got referrals. I spoke with three realtors and spent Wednesday through Saturday morning purging junk and cleaning house. I was slowed by a few migraines and a dizzy spell, but still managed to make some decent progress. First steps anyway, we’ve still a ton to do.

We interviewed two realtors today, and have another scheduled tomorrow. After that, we select our realtor and begin the serious purge to empty out the house and get to staging it for showing. I’m a bit overwhelmed working on all this, but am rewarding myself with brief glimpses at potential properties closer to hubby’s work. I’m the type of mule that is very much motivated by a carrot at the end of a stick and seeing what’s out there in our lower price range is definitely helping. It won’t be huge or grand, but we’ll make it a home.

We’ll definitely be renting and not buying. You can’t feel trapped in a house the way we do (because of the current market) and immediately jump into another 30 year commitment. Plus, it will be nice to not have to pay for all the surprise repairs, such as the roof tiles and other stuff that cost us over $600 last month. And our happy surprise moments before Realtor 1 arrived? The dryer is not working now.

So if I seem extra cranky or tired, bear with me a bit. The reason we moved into our current home is five years gone, and this empty nest is too expensive to keep. For those in a similar situation, I wish you the best of luck. As we are now learning first hand just how nasty things are out there, we are also learning that there is hope. We’ve got our fingers, toes and eyes crossed on this one and we’re hoping for the best.

So that’s about it. I may detail our process in more detail, I may not. I’m not expecting it to be something I will ever want to read again, but if others can learn from us then I guess it would be worth it.

I’d love to be moved by the time LT gets here in June so we can maximize fun and minimize moving chaos during his time here, but I’m sure that’s just wishful thinking. A gal’s gotta hope, right?

Joyful After Losing My iPod

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Consumer Info, Droid, Household, Podcast

When I searched repeatedly and couldn’t find my Nano a few weeks ago, I finally took up the initiative to start using my new Droid X as my mp3 player. I was willing to do so because Chooch related he was having so much luck with his. I’m using the app he recommended, called “Listen” in the Droid store, and it is so simple even a techtard like me can use it. It uses Google Reader to manage the individual RSS feeds (subscriptions to text, video and audio posts) and syncs immediately without needing to connect to your computer. It’s managed remotely, updated as often as you tell it and the episodes are either streamed or downloaded to your device.

With Google Reader, I still have a desktop option for loading the X with all the tasty podcasts and novels that I listen to. Even better, I no longer have to wait until I’m home to add something. This has already proven useful as I always had trouble remembering what I wanted to add by the time I made it back to iTunes on my desktop, and my phone is almost always at hand.

By the way, it turns out that “lost” was an overstatement. I later found my iPod in my purse even though I’d searched it several times. Yes, my purse is too big but comes in handy when I need a notebook to track things for my failing memory; when I need to drag the H4N recorder around and when I taking the better and larger digital camera. Plus, batteries for the last two items.

Since finding it almost immediately after loading up the X, I’ve only used it a handful of times. I won’t be going back. Until I get a secure strap of some sort for running, I’ll continue to use my iPod. Beyond that, I can really see no reason for switching back. By streaming podcasts instead of downloading them, I have TONS of space available for music, at least as much as is available on the iPod.

So farewell, Uncle Steve. This old girl is finally able to move on from well over five years of crappy experiences in iTunes. You’ve made plenty of money off of us and our kids, and now it’s time to say goodbye.

*waves gleefully*

Cooking More, In Frequency and Variety

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Cooking, Firsts, Friends, Health, Household

I was making a shopping list, and the recipes I’m shopping for made me reflect on recent-ish changes. I decided to write a quick post on this topic.

Not surprisingly, when I was working full time with a three hour daily commute my interest and time for cooking dropped off tremendously.  Partner that with a general recipe rut of cooking what I knew Chooch and my sons would like and you’ve got a couple years of routine dishes and a lot of boredom with cooking. We ate out a lot, I used a lot of cooking shortcuts and in general was borderline resentful of the entire process.

In the last six months or so, primarily due to a tightening in our budget, I’ve been cooking more. Add to this my renewed love of fruit and vegetables and I feel as if the whole culinary world has opened up to me again. I’ve been experimenting with new dishes, and while some were lousy, most were either perfect for us or close enough that some tweaking made them work.

I’m having a lot more fun in the kitchen and we are eating more wholesome foods as a result. This makes me extremely happy, especially with my fascination with Eat This, Not That lists.  We rarely venture into the extremely unhealthy realm of restaurants anymore, partly due to cost and partly due to my unwillingness to eat that unhealthily except in the most extreme situations. It’s just too hard to find whole grain options, and they add so much salt and fat to the dishes that it’s obscene.

In fact, thanks to a recent and delicious meal made for us by friends Heather and Marc, I’m going to attempt my first ever Indian dish. No, I’m not going to mix my own curry, and while I know this will offend some I have two words for you –  baby steps!

I’ve also been baking bread and am almost at the point where I ready to write a post on that subject in the next week or two. My love of whole grain/whole wheat is pushing me to find more and more options, and so far it’s been a lot of fun, even when the results are more brick-like than bread-like.

One very surprising turn that I’m taking is towards vegetarian and vegan foods. I have some odd food phobias, namely anything pork, anything on the bone, anything that lives in water, and any “exotic” meat (not sold in grocery stores) makes me squeamish as well.

While I still love beef and chicken, I am eating it less and less. This is partly because we have vegan and vegetarian friends that we do pot-lucks with fairly regularly.  I prefer contributing something that they can eat but that I will enjoy as well. I hate nothing more than testing a recipe on friends, so am seeking and testing recipes for future meals with them. This is leading to some interesting and healthy places, and for the first time I can really see the possibility of going vegetarian. I don’t think I’ll ever give up cheese, so vegan is probably never going to happen. I’m already maintaining a tenuous grip on eggs though, but for now couldn’t live with hubby’s delicious omelets. And it certainly simplifies baking, although I did get an egg-replacement product to test out for my vegan buds.

I’m off now to get some honey for bread and curry for dinner. It occurs to me a wonderful side effect of the new cooking jag is that my house usually smells AWESOME!

My Luck Finding HFCS-Free Foods

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Health, Household

This is not a comprehensive report after exhaustive research. This is simply a short note after a very quick run through the grocery store for a few needed items. Most of what I was hunting was fresh produce, so no worries about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) there. The new push for seeking them is based on the results of a recent study released by Princeton University. You folks are smart enough to decide for yourself what it means, so rather than dumbing it down into my terminology I’ll simply link it for your perusal.

A walk down the condiment aisle was where the dread came in, especially after a conversation with my good friend Andrea last week on her experience at the grocery store. Her family is making the switch to HFCS-free life, and while I’m not clearing out my pantry I am trying to re-stock without them. I’ve long believed in the dangers of HFCS and partially hydrogenated oils and have avoided what I thought were the big culprits for years.

After her recent experiences, I realize how far HFCS has infiltrated my pantry and fridge when I wasn’t paying attention. Condiments are filled with them, and Andrea recently reported that every variety of bread in her grocery store contained it. I rarely eat bread, but my family enjoys it. We never buy white, and only go for whole grain but I was braced for pain when I checked the labels of my favorite bread items.

I’m happy to report that all three “Nature’s Own” bread varieties I checked at my local store are HFCS-Free, and even tout this with a banner on the packaging. This is a whole grain brand my family already enjoys, so I was relieved. Every other brand I picked up had HFCS.

The place where I was most pleased was the condiment aisle. While Heinz ketchup has HFCS, the Reduced Sugar variety does not. I have used the RS ketchup for years and enjoy it. This is the only kind I’ll buy now, when the guys’ regular runs out.

Planning on making teriyaki chicken tonight, I checked the label on my usual low-sodium teriyaki sauce and was surprised to find that it is HFCS-Free. The normal variety does contain HFCS, so I’ll be checking the low-sodium food options in the future to see if this is a regular additional benefit to low-sodium foods.  My habit is to buy low-sodium options whenever possible, dating back to LT’s health problems in 2003. It’s one I’ve not felt the need to switch back since it’s no longer needed for him, and even when I was recently told to increase my salt intake I preferred adding salt to my portion rather than increasing the sodium for my entire family when we’re all used to the healthier alternative.

Also, all the Sugar Free Syrup (for pancakes) is also HFCS-Free since it uses sugar alcohols for sweetness. There are other concerns in using sugar alcohols, but I’ll leave it to you to be able to decide for yourself if you want to make the switch to them.

In general I have to say, YAY for my reduced sugar diet!

A Work in Progress, aka Kaylee FAIL

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Household, Kaylee

As mentioned in a previous post, our beloved pup Kaylee has left her mark on our master bath. Truth be told, it’s not her fault because we decided to use the room as ‘her room’ when I started my job waaaaay back last March. Instead of using a crate, we just penned off our bathroom with a baby gate and she would stay there at night and during the workday. She was almost immediately housebroken, and it worked out beautifully in all ways. Well, except for the drywall and moulding. She has eaten, scratched and generally brutalized the walls, door, and baseboards. It’s truly hideous.

We finally got a big crate for her, and spent a few days acclimating her to it. She now goes in there at bedtime, and I also keep her in there for several hours a day so that when I return to work she will still be used to the schedule. It sounds mean, but I had a dog go through what I would classify as separation anxiety after going from companionship all day to being left alone while I went to work. She’s used to the schedule, I’m just making sure she maintains her comfort with it for when I’m back to working at Belvoir.

So now begins the repair on our bathroom. I had begun the redesign over a year ago when I finally snapped and tore down the lame train wallpaper border. Yes, in the master bath. We moved here in 2005, and just never got around to taking it down. GAH!  We were going to paint the room before we got Kaylee and decided to wait until she was settled in and I’m glad we did. I’d have been furious to have had this damage on freshly painted walls.

Here are pix of the train border, I forgot to get a picture of what that looks like now. The rest are all of damage done by Kaylee, and the work done so far.  You may even notice the guilty party having returned to the scene of her crime…

To keep me off the ladder in case of dizziness, Chooch will be cleaning up the wall paper border area and spackling where needed. He will then be replacing the chewed-up moulding where needed. This will be a nasty task, and my hopes of getting it done before guests arrive on February 19 are likely unrealistic. But a girl can hope, right?

I’m still deciding on a color. Since we are tentatively planning to put the house on the market, I’m not going for a personal preference. Most likely just a neutral color that will be pleasing to potential buyers.

Since I’m still dealing with my health issues, this is slow going. But with Chooch handling the ladder stuff, and me going very slowly with frequent breaks I think we can handle it without complications. Well, other than missing my self-imposed deadline.

We are tied to the colors in the floor since we aren’t changing that out. It’s linoleum with dark blue and dark green diamonds. You can sort of see the floor in one of the above pictures. Any suggestions on a color? If so, please post as a comment here and not on twitter. This would actually be appreciated for all comments, since they aren’t viewable from the blog. Much obliged!