Plans for the future

Planning. Ah, one of my favorite activities.

We have a phrase in the Space Family: You need a plan to deviate from.

We are planning on an addition. We’ve talked about it since we moved in in 2003. We love the house, but it is dated and it is on a heavily wooded lot with a north facing. The South is wooded. We’ve added a solar tub to our North living room to get more sunshine and natural light in. I am considering another for our office/music room/guest room.

But back to the addition. We’ve worked with a friend who is an architect and we came up with some great plans for the house. We actually had hoped to do both projects together, but I am not comfortable with the cost of both projects together. We can afford it, but it would force us to tighten our budget and I am the type of person who doesn’t want to dip into the rainy day fund or run in the red unless there is a damn good reason. Building onto our house is NOT a good reason.

We are down to 3 builders. #1 I’ll call Frank. Frank seems really on top of things. He had looked at the plans and called the town before he gave a bid. He called Pella and asked for a quote based on the exact dimensions of the windows wanted. He wanted to do one more go around with the architects to add ventilation to two places and to fix the drainage. He is $10K higher than anyone else

#2 I’ll call Ted. Ted is coming Monday to give us a total break down of the job. He is $10K lower than Frank. He seems good, but I don’t want to go with my gut until I meet him. I will ask about adding the vents that Frank wants. I need to know about timing and costs.

#3 is Bill. Bill, well, he hasn’t inspired confidence in me. He came in with a very low bid at first for the entire job. For the addition only, he is $20K lower than Frank, but when we questioned the estimate for the windows (a good $5K less) it was clear he didn’t look at the size nor amount of windows we had in the plan.  While he is cheaper, I question if the bill will be much higher and I do worry about the quality.

I am running the references now. I really like Frank, but if Ted inspires confidence, we may go with him. I don’t know. I kind of feel that we are stringing Bill along, but at the same point, I am not sure if I trust him. We’re talking alot of money here, so I don’t want to blow this.

Any ideas? Suggestions? How did you pick a contractor for a job?


ETA: We just got a quote for a modular for the addition. $30K less. Sigh.. Now to make these decisions… sigh


I had an appointment with my allergist yesterday. To recap, I went a year ago to test for cat and dog allergies so our family could choose a pet. I am allergic to both and we decided to do the regimen of weekly injections. In addition to cats and dogs, I am allergic to anything that has chlorophyll and mold and mites. I am not allergic to cockroaches, horses or penicillin! (Hey kids! let’s take that hissing cockroach for a walk!). Yesterday was supposed to be my appointment to review how the shots are going and if I can start looking at dogs.

However, Sunday’s bee sting changed all of that. I explained my reaction and our course of actions to my doctor. She asked what things they did, I told her what I remembered because I did black out a little. Then she got angry. I was told that the protocol for any form of anaphylaxis is to keep the person overnight. I should have been admitted to the hospital, she would have preferred ICU (I raised my eyebrows at this), because they monitor the patients closely. Apparently, severe reactions can reoccur within a few hours of the initial treatment. I did not know this. They did send me home from the hospital with some prednisone (Nance on Steroids! Woot!), but only enough for that night. No other instructions except call my allergist.

She immediately gave me more steroids. She ordered a 6 day supply, dropping 10 mg a day until I run out. I am also to take 2 claritin a day (12 hours apart) and benedryl as needed and at bedtime. I am not allowed any allergy injections for 1 month. We’ll test my blood to see which bee family member I am allergic to and we will start working on sensitizing me for that. Unfortunately, I may have to do a scratch test for this and to be honest, that scares me. I don’t know how I will react to that.

I really didn’t think this was that bad of a reaction. I never felt this was life-threatening. I was confused with the response from the hospital, and I felt I was only there for 20 minutes, when in truth it was about 1.5 hours. I was uncomfortable. I did have low blood pressure. I guess it was serious, but it still didn’t feel like it.

After talking to my doctor, I now feel, well, vulnerable. I have been asked to order a medical identifier bracelet. I did. I am allergic to a few serious things (bees, betadine and contrast dye are the biggies and seafood and fish, but they don’t cause swelling). I was able to fit all of that and Jay ICE number. I still don’t think it was that bad, but I guess it was. I need to be safe for the kids and with the amount I do outside with Girl Scouts, I want to make sure I will get the help I need in the case of an emergency.

I’m only 39. The thought that another bee sting could be fatal is kind of strange. I have a good 60 years to go. Odds are, I will get stung again. Hopefully we can identify which bees I am allergic to and get my body to not react so strongly to this.

The Twilight Zone of Children

For the first time in a few months, I feel like I can write again.

To be honest, I’ve had a rather large writer’s block. More like a writer’s oblisk hanging over my head. I would have tons of great ideas, but nothing would come out when I sat at the keyboard. It’s sad, in a very 2010 way. I could easily update my facebook status, and I could take photos from home and post them, but not actually write here. Go Figure. So I am trying to get back on the writing wagon. Wish me luck!

I recently read an article about parenting where children bring joy, but not happiness. This was such a timely article. Dr. Jay and I had just complained about not having time for anything outside of work and kids. It’s not that I don’t love the kids, it’s that it takes SO MUCH out of me. The article agreed. I find that living far from family has a lot to do with it. We have no nearby family. My parents can’t always watch the kids when they visit (too many surgeries this year). Jay’s parents try to, but… similar issues. Last Thursday, both girls stayed at camp overnight. It was the second time EVER since Soleil was born that we had the house to ourselves at night. Really! It was like turning back a giant clock and being in a new dimension.

I almost expected Rod Sterling to come out and start a monologue about our nightly habits and how this unfortunate couple has free time, but chose to work on a birthday cake and science instead of just relaxing. For that, my friends, is the sad truth. No wild fantasies, no party, barely time for a margarita, I went to work on Soleil’s birthday cake and Jay wanted to finish creating an extinction curve to a stellar cluster. Woot! What party animals.

We are now entering a new stage of parenting. The "my kids can wipe their own ass" phase. They are real people who occasionally shut the bathroom door. They have friends and their own lives at school and camp. They still want hugs and snuggles and stories, but they are not so much the little child hanging on my leg anymore.

The kids adjust to this fine. We’ve taken them canoeing, hiking, gold panning and whale watching this year. They are great. Now it is up to Jay and I to adjust. Let go of being needed constantly. Start to find who we are again. As people, as lovers, as humans.

And when we get there? I guarantee Soleil will hit 13 and we will have to learn new things all over again!

Speaking of busy bees…

We are planning an addition. (As if I haven’t mentioned it before, or maybe I haven’t). Anyway, part of the work is to clear the woods up just a bit, 10′ or so, and we are going to plant grass when the work is done. I started on the clean up of the area that will become grass. We have poison ivy back there and lots of downed branches, decomposing stuff, you get the idea.

So Sunday, I took 2 hours out to work on this. Nice… I was making some very nice progress. I had cleared about 30 ft across, 10 feet back when I heard a buzz by my ear, I immediately moved away, but was stung. Crap. First, it’s been 14 years since I was last stung. Second, it hurt!

I went inside and I thought Dr. Jay was still taking his shower. The girls were having Pokemon battles. I called up for them to get Dad as this was an emergency. Luna came over and said "did you get stung by a bee?" and I replied yes. They ran. Within 1 min, Jay had given me benedryl and I had stabbed my thigh with an expired epipen.

The girls got right into the car as asked and we drove to the closest ER (10 min away). I was breathing slowly and calmly. Keeping the girls calm was the important part. Soleil asked if this was the kind of bee sting that could kill me. I said yes, but we are doing all of the right things, so I would be fine.

Jay dropped me off at ER, and he went to park the car. The triage woman was taking in 2 other patients, so I waited for a few minutes. Jay came in, but the girls wanted to stay outside. I said fine. Then shit hit the fan, my throat started to swell and it felt like someone had poured cement down it. I was gasping for air and couldn’t talk much. Jay yelled that we needed a doctor since I was having trouble breathing. I still don’t know how, but I was on a stretcher, wheeled off somewhere, stabbed with an IV, and asked questions. At first, I couldn’t answer. It was so hard to get air. After a few minutes, my throat eased enough for me to talk.

The majority of the time in ER, I just closed my eyes and rested. I did everything right, including using whatever epipen I had, expired or not. I did ask if my kids could see that I was fine and the doctor let them come back once everything was stable. Dr. Jay then took them out to McDonald’s, let them have ice cream and go play with the ferrets at the pet store! They loved that. I was discharged within 2 hours and Jay came back to pick me up. I was alternating between hyped (epinephrine) and tired (benedryl). I took a shower and rested.

To be honest, I was more scared that the kids would freak. I am glad they took it in stride. I am still having after effects, mostly my tongue and throat are swollen, and my left arm is bruised to the max from the IV. I am doing better.

I am glad I knew I was allergic to bees. I don’t want to ever have that feeling of gasping for air again.

busy bees and runaway trains

Right now, I am celebrating the little victories in life:

Work has finally figured out how to remember devices that have access to the WiFi network.(Yes, the network is owned by Harvard University, no I don’t understand why this took over a year to figure out) This means my blackberry (which I carry for work) can connect without my intervention. In turn, I finally feel not guilty for running Pandora Radio on my cell phone at work! Since I’m using Wifi, I am not using the unlimited data plan. Yes, I know that it is an unlimited plan. We invoked that option after a spacecraft emergency in 2000 when half of the staff was in Hawai’i (a science meeting). A noon telecon for the East Coast meant that we were all on our lanais at 6 am on our cell phones and laptops talking about the next action. The bill was, well staggering, so we were switched to an unlimited data plan.

Yes, there goes my tangent- Whoosh! It just went right by. Anywho, I am enjoying my "Barenaked Ladies" station. I’ve heard "No Rain" and "Runaway Train", "Last Dance with Mary Jane" and several other songs in the same vein. It is very neat to have Pandora. I know I am not alone in associating songs with certain memories.

The first time I saw the video for "No Rain", I was on Long Island. I think I was at a restaurant on Route 347. I remember the bumble bee girl. I remember thinking about the time I was in a dance class and I had the bee costume. My friend was a poodle. She had randomly picked out elephant, but she was a larger girl and her parents were furious. So they switched it. We were 4. I can’t imagine doing this to my girls now. They are 6 & 8 (ok- we still have 16 hours until 8 years old, but Dang it, close enough). How could you bring in body image at that age?

"Runaway Trains" always makes me sad. I am not sure why. It just hurts my soul, but I still love it.

Right now, Dave Matthews Band is on. I like his stuff, but it always makes me think of Carlos Santana. Why? One year, bk (before kids), I won tickets to the Dave Matthews Band concert in Boston (ok Foxboro) and the opening act was Santana. It was the year he came out with that awesome album. He had so much more energy than Dave Matthews. Have you ever heard "Crash" by DMB? yeah, the energy level of that song is about what they played. It was so painful after seeing Carlos Santana playing his guitar.

Tonight, both of the girls are off at Girl Scout camp for a sleepover. This is the second time EVER both girls have been away from our house while we are home. I already miss them, but I am excited that we dropped off a 7 year old and will pick up an 8 year old. My baby is doing her first tent sleepover! Very exciting for her!

Avatar: The Last Airbender: An open letter to Mr. Shyaman

Dear Sir:

Thank you for writing, directing and producing the live action movie: The last airbender. It sucked. Apparently, you missed a few lessons in film direction and writing, so I thought I would help you out

1. When adapting another media to film, the author MAY NOT TAKE LIBERTIES with the pronouciation of the MAJOR CHARACTER’S NAMES. We all know Aang is AAAA-ng not Ahng. Sokka is Sah-kah and Iroh is EYE-row. Got it?  At least you got Katara right. Sheesh. If it was written and not already spoken, you could have gotten away with all of that.

2. When bringing and important element into a story, you introduce it in an earlier chapter. For example, if the butler kills Mr. Green with the decorative sword in the library, we better have seen the sword on the wall in the early scenes of the movie. Why did you wait until the very end to show us that Iroh was a great firebender. All you needed was a throw away line like "Firebenders need a source of fire, unless you can use your chi to do it and only great firebenders can ever achieve that". Voila! You have just shown that Iroh and Prince Zuko are strong firebenders. WITH ONE LINE!

3. Aang is really a happy kid. And what is this bullshit about him not having a family? Riku had a family.(((SPOILER ALERT))) Otherwise, Prince Zuku couldn’t be related to the Avatar (Season 3, Book three, Fire). How about the simple fact that a 12 year old can’t really handle the pressure of being the world’s savior. That’s a strong enough reason for Aang to run.

4. It really is lazy to have a voiceover by a character to lead the story on. You should have done better than that.

5. While I admit that I wasn’t really on the "ban Avatar because of the white people" I do have to admit that you could have been a little better in casting. At least you were mostly consistent in the Fire Nation with Asian actors (albeit Indian, Pakistani and the sub continent), you missed that the Water tribes were more Inuit based, the Earth tribes, more Mongolan (although they were more Chinese looking than I thought it would be) and that the Fire Nation was more Japanese.

6. You did watch the cartoon, right? Please tell me that? Because the script didn’t seem like it.

7. next time, consider lights. You don’t need to make a movie that dark. 3-D isn’t worth it. I am not paying for a headache, so just make it a plain old movie and we’ll do without someone kicking us in the face.

okay- I think that is it. I give this movie a C-. Only because I liked Momo (who didn’t even get a name) and the cool way that the staff opened every time Aang opened it. Katara wasn’t bad either, but she wasn’t good.

Please reconsider your education before you even bother to make book 2, or better yet? Leave it to someone else.


The Spacemom

The Long and the Short

Life has been a blur the last few days/weeks/months.

I have switched my work schedule to move my 4 day week of 32 hours to a 5 day week of 32 hours. This allows me to work from home 2 days a week and have the afternoons to do those little things that need to be done. I was able to run to the post office today. Drop some papers at the bank. Have lunch with a friend. It’s only been two weeks, but I see less stress and more productivity already. I don’t feel like I am cramming everything in 4 days.

I have been trying to write over at Type A Mom, but my posts are getting eaten when I submit. Unfortunately, I haven’t written them off to the side. No, I have to continue to type in the editor on-line and lose the entire thing when I submit. You would think I would learn.

I decided to reorder my closet. I have two rods of hanging clothes. I decided that I don’t wear half of them and my closet would be better if I took out one rod and placed shelves instead. I have donated many nice shirts and blouses to Goodwill because they were never being used, so they were in good shape.

Soleil has invited 10 people to her birthday slumber party. One boy was invited, but his parents and we agreed that he could stay until the movie was over. Neither kid understands why he can’t sleep over and to be honest, it’s hard to explain. 8 is that funny age where boys are still friends and not yet the cootie guys nor the lovers.

Luna turned 6 while we were visiting my parents. It so happens that we visited my parents when Soleil turned 6. We purposely went to the same place for lunch and Luna got a plate of truffles with "Happy Birthday" written in chocolate sauce, just like her sister did.

Summer camp is in full swing. We have most of the summer at home this year and this is actually good. We went canoeing last weekend. The girls now want to learn to kayak. This is cool.

Soleil was upset that Grandma and grandpa are strict, but live in a place with cool hikes.

I have had insomnia for the last 5-6 nights. Getting 4 hours of sleep a night is not good. I almost slept last night, but Soleil had nightmares about bugs. Tonight? An ugly spider was climbing around in her bed. She is currently trying to sleep in our bed.

I need more time, to write, to read, to connect. I hope I can find it.

It’s not you, Internet, it’s me

I have been ignoring the blogosphere. I don’t mean to. It’s just that my work life has spiraled into the aptly named "death spiral" (I’m learning new terms for ice skating all of the time!).Yesterday, I worked through lunch and didn’t eat until 2:15. Bad. 

To be honest, the project I have spent 2 years of my life on just turned on a dime yesterday and I have a new path to follow, but I am frustrated with it. I will get things done, but MAN it’s hard to feel like I haven’t wasted my time.

 In the meantime, I have a 6 & 7 year old for 17 more days. Then we will be back to the 2 year spread.

I have many things to write, but no time. I will write when I can!