Sunday, March 24, 2013

Drowning in dust

Home improvement projects are consuming my life.  Seriously, I can't seem to stop!  HEEEEEEELP ME!

So, we fixed up the three small rooms in the basement.  And everything was great, except I still wasn't happy.  When you entered the basement, the upper part of the stairwell had no light fixture, so it felt like you were entering a creepy and scary dungeon.  I convinced John to install a light at the top of the stairs.  Then I convinced him to paint the stairwell and hang some artwork.  It looked a million times better.  But, of course, we encountered a new problem.

The stairwell looked great, but it opened up into a main area that was still unfinished.  The people who lived here before us had hung some drywall, but never applied the joint compound.  Since John and I are clueless about drywall, we were just going to leave it unfinished.  Every time I mentioned the unfinished area or showed it to a friend, everyone kept telling me how easy it was to finish drywall.

After watching a few Youtube clips, John and I decided to finish the drywall.  Although it has not been hard, it has been a time consuming and messy project.  It seems to take FOREVER for the damn joint compound to dry.  The bucket said 24 hours, but it is more like 48 hours.  And the dust!  Oh my goodness, it is everywhere.  EVERYWHERE!

I think we are going to be working on the damn basement FOREVER.  And one project just leads to another.  I keep thinking about how the main area needs new carpeting too.  But I refuse to spend any more money down there.  For now, we are just going to have to live with the remnant carpeting, which has no padding and is super ugly.

I swear, this is the last project.  I am so over home improvement.

Friday, March 22, 2013


When we bought our house back in 2006, we got an 80/20 loan.  Basically, we had 100% financing and put no money down when we made the purchase.  We had one loan for 80% of our house's cost, and we had another loan for the remaining 20%.  The first loan was a traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.  The second loan was a 15-year fixed-rate balloon mortgage.

Balloon loans are kind of hard to understand, but I'll try to explain it.  Basically, the mortgage company figures out how much to charge a homeowner per month by dividing the loan payments/interest up over the course of 30 years (just like a regular mortgage).  The big difference is that at the end of the mortgage's term (15 years in our case), the remaining amount of the loan will be due in a lump sum.  So even though the payments were set-up like a 30 years mortgage, the homeowner only has 15 years to pay off the loan.  In order to get the loan paid off, he/she would have to make extra payments or try to refinance at the end of the loan's term.  These loans are kind of risky, because if uninformed homeowners only pay the minimum each month, they will owe a HUGE amount at end of the loan's term. And if the house has decreased in value, they won't be able to refinance. 

I hated our 15 year balloon loan, and worried endlessly about paying it off.  For the first few years that we lived here, we were strapped for cash and could only afford the minimum payments on the loan.  I worried that we would lose our house when the 15 year period was over. 

In 2009, we started aggressively paying off our debt.  When all of our credit cards were paid off, we started throwing all of that money toward the balloon loan.  On Monday, we made our last payment on the balloon loan.  We paid it off 8 years early!  I am so proud of us.  We officially only have one mortgage on our house, and it is beyond awesome.  I am so freaking excited!  A huge weight has been lifted off of us.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The finger problem that won't die

In case you were wondering - yes, my fingers are still bothering me.  Sometimes they'll look better, but as soon as I think my hand might return to normal, the peeling and splitting starts all over again.  This has been an ongoing problem since May of 2012.  It has been nearly a year of constant dry, peeling, crusty skin on my finger tips.

This problem only affects the fingers on my right hand.  It also only affects the top portion of my fingers - nothing below the knuckle and nothing on the palm of my hand.  I tried to take a few pictures, but it is really hard to capture with a camera.   My thumb is by far the worst.  The skin is nearly always split open...

My index finger peels a lot too, but (thankfully) it doesn't split open as offend...

My middle finger and ring finger peel occasionally too, but usually they just look wrinkly - like my hands have been submerged in water for a long time, but they haven't...

It is all very strange and very frustrating.  Every time I mention it, people (even a dermatologist) tell me to use more lotion.  Really?  I am not an idiot.  I have used lanolin, Euercin, Aquaphor, Cetaphil, and a whole bunch of other shit that didn't work. I have pretty much given up on solving the problem, and I am learning to live with it.

Monday, March 11, 2013


Babies are great.  They are so cuddly and sweet.  For the longest time, Guppy was content to just be in my arms.  Nothing was better than hugging his mama.  But now, at 18 months, he is such an independent little guy.  I am happy that he is growing and changing and learning about the world.  Yet at the same time, it breaks my heart.

Guppy no longer freely gives hugs and kisses and affection.  I have to beg him for a kiss, and most days, he still refuses me.  He is too busy.  There are only so many hours in a day, and he has to destroy the entire house before bedtime.

Guppy has to feed himself now.  Up until about 2 weeks ago, I was still feeding him at every meal.  He just didn't seem to care about self-feeding.  When left to his own devices, he would throw all the food on the floor.  But then, suddenly, he decided that mama was no longer allowed to help him.  He has to do everything by himself.  He is throwing a lot less food, but geez, the mess is still ridiculous.

Guppy has developed quite the temper.  When he gets angry, he flops himself on the floor and SCREAMS.  It is kind of funny, because he'll go from happy to inconsolable in about 2 seconds.  It is also very frustrating, because he has been spending a large portion of his time throwing temper tantrums.

I know that this is all normal growing-up stuff, but I cannot tell you how sad it makes me.  I know that the cuddly and snugly phase has ended.  Never again will I get endless hugs and kisses.  He won't cry for mommy to feed him anymore.  And being in my arms won't solve all his problems.  Guppy's babyhood has gone by so quickly.  As I look at pictures of my BIG toddler, I can't help but feel a melancholy tonight. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The basement

We have had a rough week over here in Cakerwakerville.  There has been puking.  Lots of puking.  There has also been an excessive amount of laundry and hand-washing. To top everything off, John and I have been fighting.  It all started over tea.  Yes, tea.  But now it has spiraled into so much more.  I am angry at him about everything.  I am sure it is sleep deprivation and stress related, but I am counting the minutes until Monday morning when he goes back to work.

I finally got around to taking some pictures of our new and improved basement.  The rooms were surprisingly hard to photograph.  Everything looks boring and small and cluttered.  But trust me, it is a million times nicer then it was before.  I forgot to take before pictures, because I have no brain.  Basically, the walls, carpet, and ceiling were a mess.  Now everything is fixed and painted and new. 

The new playroom...

 The TV room/guest bedroom (it is a sleeper sofa)..

John's office/music room...

We love all the new useable space.  I am glad we put the effort, money, and time into the project.  I am also glad that it is done, because holy crap it was a lot of work.