Thursday, June 16, 2011

when space feels tight.

So in addition to my general uterine area feeling tight, I have been stepping on one too many legos around here, and we have been investigating the idea of moving - as in, occasionally looking at a house or two, weighing our options, thinking about what we'd be giving up and what we'd gain, and then feeling like it would be INSANE to think about moving anywhere in the next year, or especially in the next 6 months, but the thought of remodeling sounds even crazier.

We have a great house - full of charm, details, molding, built in 1926. I love our house. We are one block away from where the kids will go to elementary school, and four doors up from my mother in law. And the view! The VIEW! We feel like we're in the treetops, but really we live in the city. Terrible photo - but maybe you get the idea. Taken from our living room, out the giant window.

The trouble with out Not So Big House is the layout is a little tricky - and our footprint is small. We have four finished levels - a basement that is mediocrely finished - a small bedroom and bathroom that kind of reminds me of something you would find in a Cape Cod summer cabin - blue and white, wooden plank swing door, clawfoot tub with wrap around curtain and an antique-y sink, super cute, but kind of iffy on the function level (okay, maybe the outdoor bathroom at a Cape Cod summer cabin). Washer/Dryer, furnace, some storage in cabinets, and a laundry sink. Not a whole lot of extra room - certainly not a playroom area. Not sure what a remodeling design firm would say. We'll have to see. My gut is that we could probably spend a whole lot of money down there, and not really gain that much.

Main level has living room, dining room, kitchen and den - and a view that I would have a REALLY hard time giving up. Photo somewhere in this post. (I will post more pictures, too - because I need some serious thoughts on whether we should stay and make do, remodel or move). Note: no bathroom on the main level, which is WAY more of a pain in the butt than you imagine - especially when potty training, needing to run inside for a second to pee when the kids are playing out front, or when one (or more) of the kids has diarrhea and vomiting, like today. Ugh. Who needed that living room rug, anyway!? We could get rid of our small (Prius small) garage and kick the kitchen out, add a bathroom, open up the layout a bit and then put french doors to make the driveway into a patio. That's our big idea. But suddenly, between that, updating the bathroom upstairs, and doing the roof, painting, blah, blah - we've suddenly spent 200k. Still cheaper than buying a new house I guess. (and for all of you thinking - why don't you just do most the work yourselves? ha!)

Upstairs has three bedrooms - small for Henry, medium for E&Q to share, and large-ish for Chris and I. Master bedroom closet for Max, I think. And a Small Bathroom. Capital S. If we wanted to add a bathroom in the master, we could, but I think then Max would have to sleep in a drawer. Which would work for a while, I guess. Then, in the Up-Up, as I call it, we have (as of yesterday) a playspace for the kids, thanks to my handiwork and the Ikea Trofast storage bins, and Chris's office. And shelves of fabric and yarn that I have had every intention of using to knit and sew for years now. I haven't quite finished the playspace - I have to paint one of the walls with magnetic paint and finish bringing some more toys up. The kids seem to really like it. Same toys/different space=new toys!

I think we could make the Up-Up a bedroom at some point, with some redoing of our HVAC system. It's a finished attic that gets hot, hot, hot in the summer. And iceberg-ish in the winter. But March-May, and October/November, it's perfect!

And I'd like more of a yard, but we're so close to the school playground that it doesn't seem to matter that much. And as Chris reminds me, I don't really have time for gardening right now, anyway. And we have a small garden, 3 decks off the back of the house, and a sidewalk that we draw on.

Maybe I should just organize the legos better and shut my mouth. I don't know. Remodel? Move? Stay? I'm totally nesting.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

When I think we're good parents.

So there we are at the Waterfront today for the Rose Festival Fun Center, which generally translates (and I realize I may sound snobby here) to a bunch of people in "Honk if You're Horny" t-shirts from the sketchy parts of the burbs - which I did actually see, and should have taken a picture of to prove it. Anyway - the crowd is not the Portland I live in (though I did run into two families I know from around town and saw lots of people wearing much more appropriate clothing - including a cute dad wearing an "I Love Soccer Moms" t-shirt). We like to think we keep our neighborhood real with our plastic toys scattered around our front garden, including a crab shaped sandbox, plastic slide, pea gravel dig pit and a super cute wooden picnic table I picked up from a garage sale yesterday for $10. And though we don't have gardeners, as most of our neighbors do, I am happy to report that I do not own a "Honk if you're Horny" t-shirt.

Anyway. The kids LOVED every second of the festival's trashy glory! For my (two?) out of town readers, the Rose Festival is a week long 104 year old Portland tradition created to make Portland 'the summer capital of the world!' - and it has all sorts of events during the week, spanning end of May to June. There is a fleet of Navy ships that come into harbor, a giant Rose Festival Float Parade, the Starlight Run, all sorts of things - including the crowning of the high school Rose Queen, you get the picture. And there is the Fun Center. I think we spent $90 on ride tickets, or something ridiculously close to it. Henry rode the same car ride 5 times, each time choosing the same exact car. The ride operator made us get out every time and get back in line, even though twice there were only two kids lined up, and never more than four (plenty of cars to go around). Each time I got Henry out, he would scream because he wanted to stay in, and I would have to carry him out the exit, and back around to the line and say, "Oh, hi again. One, please." Just one of those things that people do that drive me CRAZY. I would have happily just handed him my tickets each time.

Ellie rode the carousel - here's where we come in as feeling like we're good parents - and there's this muscly dad, probably 40ish, with his wife, older daughter and no more than 2 year old boy. Ellie and Chris had gotten on the carousel, and the 2 year old got on with his mom, right in front of them. The kid is hysterical - screaming because he is clearly terrified, and his mom is tightening this leather belt around him, forcing him to stay on the horse. The muscly dad is yelling at him from the sidelines, "Hey, boy, you listen - Knock it off! Quit your crying and put on a happy face." All this is making the kid even more upset. I mean, for the love of God, the kid is TWO. A baby. He's scared shitless of being on the horse, and he's being forced to stay on it. The poor kid is going to grow up petrified of carousels. So depressing - not just the carousel fear - the whole thing.

So bottom line, our kids had a great time and we had a lot of fun watching them have a great time. And next year, we'll have FOUR kids at the fair. EEk.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Minivans, new babies and pee on the floor

The first thing I googled when I found out I was pregnant with this latest kid was "honda odyssey four car seats." Because I am NOT ready to buy a new car. Now I'm googling "closet turned into nursery" - which is exactly what I plan on doing for Max (?). You would be surprised how many links I came up with. Most were couples on their first child in a small space. Because really (besides my friends Sarah and Marisa) - who on EARTH has four kids these days? I kind of felt like three was the new two, but four - hold the phone. Four gets all sorts of comments. Not like I didn't get them already with EQ&H being so close in age. But now that my previously two-bedroom uterus has expanded to a full 7+ months pregnant, and I am chasing after a 30lb toddler and two preschoolers - people just stare and ask if they are all mine.

A couple of fave comments from strangers on twindom:
"Are you sure they're twins? She's so much taller."
"Did you use any special positions to get pregnant with twins?"
"Are you worried their umbilical cords will get wrapped around their necks at birth?"
"What kind of fertility treatments do you use?" (none, actually. We've just been extremely lucky. And extremely fertile.)

Anyway - back to the lack of impulse control four year olds. Here were today's highlights:

He peed on the living room floor "because Henry told him to." Now let's get this straight - Henry has about 20 words - not a big talker. One of his latest happens to be "pee". Apparently Henry said "pee", so Quinn followed through.

He picked up the only pair of Henry's shoes that I could find after a 30 minute search, and hurled them into our garden - a deep pocket of ferns, azaleas, euphorbia and all sorts of ground cover. I didn't see where he threw them, so an additional 10 minutes were spent searching a second time.

That is 40 minutes of shoe searching and 10 minutes of cleaning up pee and the floor. I can think of about 63 other ways I would like to have spent that 50 minutes. Nesting, organizing, playing legos, getting a pedicure, eating a bowl of granola, reading a magazine to name just a few.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bikers, burritos and whatnot

So I'm driving today, in a rare moment of relaxedness - as I had ZERO kids with me - had just picked up a chicken mole burrito, which I was looking forward to eating at home by MYSELF, and was about to stop at Walgreens because my feet desperately need a new pumice stone (I think the last one got thrown over the railing on the back deck - and ooo-wheee, my feet are begging for a new one). Anyway. There I am, minding my own business on 23rd, smelling the deliciousness of my mole, about to turn left on Everett, when this biker (Portland was just voted, as usual, the most biker friendly/bike user city), passes me on the right (on a single lane BUSY street), and then cuts in front of the car in front of me to turn left, screaming at me that I was too close to him and was going to hit him. Aren't bikes supposed to follow the rules of the road? As in, you're on a vehicle on a one lane road, so you aren't allowed to pass a person on the right who has their left blinker on, and then cut in front of them to turn left? If another car did that, they would get a ticket. He didn't have a bike lane and he was a total asshole about it.

I mean, seriously. I could have fucking hit him, and he is screaming at me, yelling that I should pay attention/etc. If you want to share the road, then follow the fucking rules of the road. I can feel my blood pressure going up just thinking about it. I am SO the cautious person - I let pedestrians have the right of way (though admit to getting ever so annoyed when some 20-something on her cell phone doesn't look before crossing when I have a green light, and then looks at me like I'm a malicious pedestrian killer), and I always check my mirrors and look behind me when turning right where there is a bike lane. Any bikers out there want to defend this guy?

Anyway. I wanted to follow him and push him off his bike. Instead, I just went and got my pumice stone and a copy of Town and Country (who exactly is that magazine written for?) and ate my burrito. The kids were on a picnic with my in laws, and the hubs is in Walla Walla on business (and researching it as a fun destination for us to go and eat onions and drink wine).

So I had Quiet! And a few moments of reading a magazine, until they came home, and my lack of impulse control son (no names mentioned, Quinn), threw my unfinished pico de gallo and guacamole over the railing. I didn't even realize until I cuddled up with him, and felt bits of cilantro, chopped onion and tomato in his hair and on the back of his shirt. Really? My pico, and cherished guacamole? I just don't think four year old boys can control their random urges. Maybe I'll throw that salsa over. There it goes! I gave him a quick stern "Mommy is disappointed" talk, wondering if I could possibly salvage my pico 25 feet below. Ellie interrupted with her most angelic face and said, "I didn't throw it, Mama. You aren't disappointed in me, are you? I'll hug you to make you feel better." Quickly followed by, "Maybe I shouldn't tell him to throw it over the railing next time." It was a conspiracy! I told her she was an accomplice to being a litterbug - the worst insult you could throw at her - and then I had two screaming, sobbing children. And no guacamole.