Not on the Side of a Milk Carton…Yet.

I could spend the next couple of paragraphs listing off reasons why I haven’t written but it’s old and stale, so I’m going to say thank you for coming back and reading this. You have the patience of Job. Gold star for you.

I and indeed my entire family have fallen into the rut of the runaway reality. You know, where the weekdays run into the weekend and the weekend rolls right into the next week, and rinse and repeat…

I’d love to wow you with stories of summer adventures, alas, the two weeks I have with The Big Guy were spent with he finishing the landscaping – the second stage of the home reno – and me watching him. My role was head cheerleader, food provider and to keep track of his fluid intake to ensure he didn’t dehydrate. Of course it was the hottest stretch of weather when he worked on the project.

At the end of the day, it is gorgeous and we are delighted. We’ve also made a pact that we won’t do any more home improvement for at least a year. There is a basement bathroom to finish, and we still have painted plywood in our bedroom – but we know that won’t hit the top 5 list any time soon.

If you could see me right now, you’d see that I am holding up my right hand. I am vowing to write more frequently. In fact – today is Thursday and I’m going to have at least one post within the next seven days.

Promise. 😀

I’m Slipping…or Not.

Truthfully, I thought I was losing my ever-lovin’ mind.

It’s bad enough that I have glasses that help me when my eyes are tired, but to lose a pair? Come one. I’m 47, not 87.

With the chaos settling around the house, there have been a couple of things that have gone “missing” temporarily, then found, as we all learn where things are going to be stored. I’ve even had a couple of good purge days where I was able to be merciless and toss or repurpose items that were not living up to their full potential.

But the glasses were gone. I couldn’t tell how long they had been gone. I just knew that any time I wanted to drive at night, I really felt like I would do better if I was wearing them.

Finally over the weekend, I got serious about locating the glasses. Fortunately I had my prescription sunglasses, but the other pair were GONE. I looked in places that I thought they might be. I looked in places that I knew they wouldn’t be. It’s like I had them and then, suddenly, I didn’t.

Both The Big Guy and Second Born Son were aware that I was looking for these glasses. SBS immediately indicated he had no idea where they were, but if he found them, he’d let me know. TBG, however, was far more invested.

As anyone knows, when you are looking for something, have someone making “helpful” suggestions is, in fact, far from an aid in the objective. TBG asked if I checked my purse. I had. He asked if I looked in the Jeep. I had. He asked if I looked in any of the new handy drawers in the kitchen. Of course I had – that was the first round of searching. He tried his “Dad Voice” on me, lecturing me about keeping track of my things. I reminded him that I already had a father and TBG need to slow his roll. I added the eyebrow for emphasis. I’m pretty sure my eyebrow trumps his Dad voice.

It wasn’t until Sunday that all was revealed. Heading out the door to grab some groceries, I happened to look up to the very top shelf of the front door closet and there they were; on the highest point on the highest shelf, in an area that I cannot reach without a stool to stand on. Remember, I am not short. I immediately knew what happened.

This shelf is a favorite of TBG’s for when he wants to quickly clear the hall the table of any items that he deems to be clutter, junk or simply don’t belong to him. I grabbed the nearest chair, hiked up to grab my glasses, and set out to find the father of my children.

I found him, unsurprisingly, cuddling Roman in the garage. Apparently I had interrupted a nail clipping session. Whatever. I held out the glasses for him to see. He was genuinely happy to see I had found them. Then asked the obvious question.

“Where did you find them?”

As I relayed the location of the glasses case, I could see the penny drop. He didn’t initially recall putting them there, and even tried to suggest that perhaps I had put them there, but couldn’t row that boat because he KNOWS I hate things being put up there. I would NEVER put my glasses there. He doubled down and tried to suggest that I should just be happy that I found them.

I suggested that he needs to stop “helping” me.

Because it’s causing me my sanity.

XXV

I’m sitting on the couch watching the rain pour down outside, with Say Yes To The Dress Canada in the background, when I can hear it over the whine of power tools.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in my wedding dress, taking photos with my bridesmaids in the sunshine and preparing to get married.

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It couldn’t be more different from today.

I’m on vacation this week. The Big Guy is at work. He’s going to take off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This has raised some eyebrows. At first, I was disappointed, but I look at it this way; like my wedding day, my 25th wedding anniversary is one. day. In the 9,131 days we’ve been married, there have been many amazing days. Some of them were better than our wedding day. I’m not hinging my happiness of more than 9,000 days on the contents of one.

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Which leads me back to my wedding day, and the young women on Say Yes To The Dress Canada. So much energy, emotion, drama, MONEY for one day. You hear it in what they are saying and how they act. The dress has to be PERFECT. The day has to be PERFECT. Everyone has to love the PERFECT bride.

<PAUSE> May I take moment to share my thoughts about the unending focus on the bride. Yup, she gets the fancier outfit, but she’s only one-half of the equation. If the groom doesn’t show up, this is nothing but a Prom For One. And yes, I’m basing this on a heterosexual relationship because that happens to be what I’m in – and what they seem to cater to on SYTTDC. <PLAY>

So let’s say the day is PERFECT. The weather cooperates, the guests arrive on time, the venue is stunning, none of the key players are a) inebriated b) quarrelling. The bride is stunning and the dresses, flowers, and elementary school bridal attendants are Instragram worthy. The service is the ideal ratio of reverent, emotional, traditional, modern and contains no less than three Facebook worthy posts. The food is scrumptious, the music is perfectly selected and the party never seems to end.

Until it ends.

And you wake up six months later with the person you vowed to love until the end of days. There are no more bridal showers with amazing and unnecessary items to replace the “old” household items that have served you perfectly well while you lived together. No more two-day bachelor/ette parties in remote locations. No more spotlight. Just life.

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The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

Because life is why you side up for, both in content and in term. Yes to the awesome days when you both are in a great mood. Yes to the days when you want to throw in the towel on life. Yes to an empty bank account and Yes to a surprise dinner out when one of you gets a raise. Yes to not talking for three days because you are so busy you don’t realize it’s  almost the weekend. Yes to your own form of shorthand when you talk, text, or need to relay info telekinetically in the middle of a disastrous family gathering.

TBG is the first guy I dated. I said yes the first time he asked me to marry him. There has not been anyone else I’d rather hand 25 years over to. I understand when he doesn’t communicate so well. He tolerates when I over-communicate. He is a perfectionist – I am not. We work. And we work well together. A quarter of a century and two kids later, I think we’ve proved that.

Happy 25th Anniversary Big Guy. Here’s to 25 more!

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The Big Guy’s first selfie. After all, his arms are longer than mine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Compensation, and Then There’s Appreciation.

We have progress people! It’s been a busy month. The morning that the men and equipment rolled in to dig the hole was certainly an exciting one.

I couldn’t help but think it marked the beginning of a relationship; I got up early, made sure I was dressed and had a full face of makeup, not to mention an enormous smile when they came to the door.

Some of us, weren’t as enthusiastic.

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This is Second Born Son inside the house, while THIS…

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Was going on outside. While I was dancing around greeting every trade who stepped on the property, SBS was ready to pack his Chicken Little suitcase and head out for the duration of the reno. We have convinced him to stick around under the condition that he doesn’t have to talk to anyone in the mornings.

Things are progressing nicely. We’ve removed the kitchen cupboards and the flooring.

<PAUSE> Don’t you think we should have a moment of silence for the flooring?

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Me neither. <PLAY>

We gave relocated the kitchen to the laundry room and the upstairs fridge is now in the living room. What this lacks in aesthetic, more than makes up for in convenience. I’ve grabbed two fudgesicles since I started writing this post.

The Big Guy has become quite fond of the new dining arrangement. He feels the convenience of having a laundry room, office and kitchen all in one space is worth considering. I suggested that he can continue to have his meals in this room, but I will be moving into the new and improved kitchen when it is complete.

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I gotta say, it’s nice to stand in the middle of the room and plan entire meal without cumbersome cupboards getting in the way.

During our first meal at our new “dining room table”, we remarked at how agreeable and helpful all of the trades have been, especially our general contractor. This man is a Craftsman. His work site is clean every day. He is a top notch communicator – texting and calling on a regular basis so there are no surprises. He uses common sense, which, I think we can all agree, isn’t so common any more. He thinks outside of the box and comes up with some pretty great ideas, and doesn’t flinch at my nutty suggestions. I make impossible requests and he goes above and beyond.

In the weeks leading up to the project, I stock piled baking because I knew my kitchen would be out of commission for a while. Also, I wanted to have some snacks here for the crew. Last week, thanks to the heat, I switched it up from cookies and muffins to freezies, ice cubes and fudgesicles.

Our Craftsman expressed thanks, pointing out these gestures were not necessary. After all, we did sign a contract agreeing to pay for his services, he pointed out.

“Hey, there’s compensation, and then there’s appreciation,” I replied. He’s making our house into the home we have been waiting for, for a very long time.

I’m keeping in all the freezies he needs!

 

 

 

 

The Magic Number

Some clever bloke said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The same could be said about this renovation. While the concept of the addition/reno has been kicking around pretty much since we moved in eight years ago, the first step was last fall when I put pencil to paper and drafted the very rough sketch of what we/I envisioned; a larger space that would allow us to accurate our growing family and give us the sight lines to the back of the property that we desired.

The rudimentary drawing was then taken to a professional who made accurate renderings. The tweaked the aspects of my drawing that were impossible (a window underground anyone?) and ensured the dream we dreamed was possible within the building code.

Once we had the blueprints, it was time to get prices to see if it was even financially feasible. Off to find general contractors to quote on the project. We held off until January because, you know, Christmas.

With a sense of anticipate that can only come with a New Year and a completely unrealistic expectation of what is possible, we started booking appointments with contractors.

The Good News: We had interest from general contractors.

The Bad News: They promised to get us pricing, AFTER they took off the month of February.

Yes, February is not a good month to pin down quotes. We are learning many things with this process, but the first, and biggest lesson so far has been this…

  1. THOU SHALL NOT EXPECT ANYTHING FROM A CONTRACTOR IN THE SECOND MONTH OF THE YEAR. FEBRUARY IS SACRED AND CUSTOMERS SHALL NOT BUT KEEP IT HOLY.

Finally we heard back from the contractors and they were asking bizarre questions like; “How much do you want us to allot for the kitchen?”

Whoa! This is a chicken-egg situation here. Do you set a budget when you don’t know how much you can afford? Or do you figure out what you can afford then set the budget?

We headed out on a Saturday with kitchen manufacturers. We were beginning to notice a disturbing pattern.

Admiring a granite countertop that we were interested in: $5,000.

Upgrades from the “standard” kitchen display: $5,000.

Sinks and taps combos: $5,000.

Appliances: $5,000.

Whaaaaaat? DA HECK?! We are tossing around 5K like it’s $20 bills! Yikes.

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Now, I realize that we are used to cupboards of cardboard construction, however, we don’t want to go economy on this project. That being said, we don’t want to have to sell a kidney to afford this either.

We’re not sure either of us has a kidney worth $5,000.

The quotes finally come in. Like the Three Bears, we had a price that was too high, a price that was too low (yes, it’s possible), and one that was just right! Fortunately, the “winner” is also a great guy. I think we’ll be able to work well with him and he’s already come through with some great ideas.

It’s the end of April at this point.

With this crucial part of the process locked in, we started looking around and realized, we have a TON of work to do before the first week of June target for the project to start. We have rooms to pack, a deck to remove, bricks to take off and plants to transplant.

This is when Mother Nature joins the party.

She shows up uninvited the second last weekend in April and brings with it a snow storm the likes of which none of us can remember happening in Spring.

Then there was the windstorm the first weekend of May.

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This brute brought winds up to 110 km/hr. The barbecue was tossed across the lawn, but, for some reason, the deck was unfazed – which is remarkable, because when we finally removed it last weekend, we learned that the deck wasn’t actually attached to the house. It was more or less sitting on a header which was supported from the ground by vertical posts that were rotten at ground level.

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See something off with this photo? I’m sure the perpendicular support REALLY helped the deck.

Yup – whether or not we did this project, that deck was a death trap.

So – here’s where we stand for those of you keeping score at home:

  1. no deck
  2. ripped apart dining room
  3. half packed kitchen
  4. no flooring in the living room.

Thank goodness we have a long weekend coming up, because the next item on the “to do” list is the brick removal. If you don’t hear from me in a week – send out the rescue team!

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Crazy? Why, yes, I am.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Mustangs and Jeeps.

The first new car I purchased when I graduated from college and got a job was a dark green 1991 Mustang Coupe. I was driving a Mercury Tracer that my Dad bought for me.

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Mine was a two-door but it was dark blue and missing the quaint European-inspired landscape. Dad taught me how to drive stick in this car and this vehicle got me through college.

I had my eye on a sports car and the Mustang had my name all over it.

 

MUSTANG

Unlike this photo, it wasn’t a 5.0, but as this photo shows, the salesman thought the driver should be male. When I told him I wanted standard transmission instead of automatic, the conversation started getting awkward. For him.

“I don’t think you want a standard,” he said, with a knowing tone in his voice. Patronization was the order of the day.

“Actually I do.” I responded. “I’m driving a stick now.”

He’s not listening to me.

“You know, when you bring that car back to me, I’m going to have to sell it as a second car, you know the second car of the household, and that’s usually the wife driving that car, and women just don’t drive standards.”

Crickets.

I give that statement a moment to settle and then I state the obvious.

“Last time I checked, I was a girl. I’m looking at buying this car, not selling it, and I want it to be a standard.”

I loved that car. We called it The Ditch Pig because it was rear wheel drive and it loved the sides of the roadway. When First Born Son came along, we knew we couldn’t keep The Ditch Pig for long. The little bucket seat was barely fitting in the back seat and when the time came for FBS to be front facing, the car was going to have to go. We traded my car for my Dad’s 1990 Lumina.

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What I lost in a model year, I gained in a proper back seat. We kept it for a couple of years then moved into a couple of other vehicles. When my Dad was done with The Ditch Pig, Little Sister traded him for it. It was fun to drive and lasted forever.

After the Lumina we had a number of family-friendly vehicles. We even took FBS’s goalie bag to shop for an SUV so we knew it was big enough to handle the oversized bag. Many a weekend we had FBS and Second Born Son’s hockey bags stacked in the back. Vehicles were merely modes of transportation. It had been a long time since I was as excited about driving as I was when I bought my first car.

Then it happened. FBS bought his truck and while he was finalizing the deal, I found myself stepping into a Jeep for a test drive. SBS came with me because was getting sick of all the truck talk. We loved it. Only problem was, it was a two-door and as long as we have a 6’2 kid at home, he needs to fit in our vehicle! The timing wasn’t right and as much as I loved the Jeep, it just wasn’t time.

The reminders were all around us. The Big Guy kept pointing out every. single. time he saw a Jeep. Then we saw THE Jeep.

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It was in a parking lot at Wasaga Beach. I turned to TBG and I said, “THAT’S the Jeep I want.” It was big, it was aggressive looking and had attitude. I was in love. I think I scared TBG, but he was secretly pleased at the same time.

With a little research, I find out it’s a special edition – the 75th Anniversary Edition Unlimited to be exact. A limited number of 2016 and 2017 Wranglers have some custom features that made for a pretty impressive ride.

But, we did already have a vehicle and again, the timing wasn’t right.

Then this happened.

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Perhaps it’s difficult to see, but this was my latest vehicle. It is exactly one car width too far to the right. It’s almost in the flower bed. This is not good. I was trying to back up to gain some moment for a drift ahead of me, when the granular snow pulled me off the driveway. This has never. happened. before. To me, it was a sign.

In January, with some inspired timing, I noticed a new 75th Edition was being discounted at the same dealership FBS had purchased his truck. A couple of phone calls and we had ourselves a deal.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure we actually had a deal until we were leaving the dealership and were driving the new vehicle home. I gotta say, there was a little bit of shock settling in.

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Yes, it’s black. Three out of the last four vehicles have been black. Yes, TBG likes to wash cars. It has features I didn’t know I’d want and a couple I’m pretty sure I don’t need. Regardless, I’m thrilled with it and love driving again. TBG loves driving it, and while SBS was a little hesitant at first, he’s enjoying it as well. The only draw-back is we had to postpone his driving test so he can have a couple of months to get used to the new wheels.

For the most part, people are usually pleased to hear that someone has a new vehicle. The odd one (emphasis on odd) looks at this beast and thinks I’m going through a mid-life crisis. I would suggest that this is actually what all grown ups aspire to – having the things they can enjoy while they are still young enough to enjoy them. God! That sounds like I’m really getting up there! I just feel that you shouldn’t have to wait until you are retired, or until the kids are married, or until….whenever, before you enjoy some fun things in life. I’ve told TBG that this vehicle is going to last me a long, long time. We’ll enjoy driving with the top down in the summer, and I’ve already put the 4-wheel drive to good use this winter.

So I’m ok with people saying I’m crazy for wanting this vehicle. They don’t have to like it, and they don’t have to pay for it. I’m doing both, gladly.

They probably couldn’t get up into it anyway.

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I Now Pronounce You…

It’s been many moons since The Big Guy and I vowed to fight over blankets and morning routines. Sometimes I look back and shake my head over the things that were deemed important and necessary to have a wedding in the early 90s.

Although there was some small movement away from traditions, (we didn’t have a traditional receiving line – GASP THE HORROR!)  we were pretty conventional. Except, when it came to my name.

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I was drawn back to a conversation I had with my future in-laws about 25 years ago, after reading this article. It seems crazy to me that a quarter of a century after I hyphenated my name, there is still a debate about women taking their husbands’ surnames.

It never occurred to me NOT to take TBG’s name. I just didn’t want to have to give up MY name. For some men, the issue of a woman refraining from linking last names is too big a picture. They need to look at the root of the matter; you are asking someone to change what they call themselves. I was Sarah B for the first 21 years of my life. I was actually called that in classrooms when there was more than one Sarah and we had to tack on the first letter of the last name to distinguish between me and Sarah K. It was a small school and it we knew it was going to be a long year whenever we realized we were in the same class – the only two Sarahs.

I don’t recall a specific moment when I decided I was going to keep my name. I do remember thinking for a while before getting engaged, that there were no males to carry on the family name. It was important to me to carry that on, and to preserve my identity. I had also done some research into the family I was joining and learned that there were not one, but two previous Sarahs. I’d be Sarah The Third with this last name. I didn’t really think about my future kids, but figured we’d sort that out down the line. I know when I told my father of my plan, he was quietly pleased.

But the aforementioned conversation with my soon to be in-laws took place about six months before the wedding. There was a discussion about the service and how we would be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Big Guy. My oh-so helpful future brother-in-law, who knew of my plan, said, “That’s if Sarah takes TBG’s name.” Two pairs of eyes were on me.

“You AREN’T taking our name?” asked my future MIL with a look of disbelief on her face. My FIL didn’t speak but had an equally perplexed expression.

“No, it’s not that,” I tried to explain, “I’m actually going to hyphenate my name.”

Silence.

“Did you tell TBG this?!” demanded his mother. I stated that we had talked about it, and that he was in complete support. Conveniently, TBG was not in the room for this charming exchange.

This was more than shocking to my future parents-in-law. I don’t think they personally knew of any other woman who had done this, and it was outside their understanding. I’m sure for them it was an insult, but they could have chosen to see it as a young woman who had a more independent mindset, wanting to demonstrate her commitment to her husband, while still being autonomous. It had nothing to do with how much I cared for my fiancé. In fact, the idea that he was supportive of this, and wasn’t threatened by it, made him all the more attractive to me. Gotta love an open-minded man!

On the day of our wedding we were introduced as “Mr. Big Guy and Mrs. Maiden Name – Big Guy.” An easy way to let our family and friends know how I was addressing myself.

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When it was time to have children, the agreement was that they would only have their father’s surname. If they decided they wanted to have a hyphenated name, we would pay to change it. TBG agreed.

Traditionally, women were considered the property of men – that’s why her father would hand her off to her husband on her wedding day; a transfer of ownership – and with that was a name change. Times have changed and the issues surround the surname have become somewhat complicated. When a woman divorces, the dilemma is there – do I change my name back to my maiden name? Do I want to have the same name as my children?

In this era of women fighting for, and being recognized equally in most modern relationships, it seems a little dated to argue over what she calls herself. And a little archaic to insist she have the same moniker as her spouse. Welcome to the 21st Century!