Monday, September 29, 2014

Renovation - Week 12

Week 12 of the renovation. Almost three months in. And this is the first week I really only want to say one thing:


This week was lame. Drywall finished, and they did a great job. Exterior paint finished (finally!), and they did a mediocre job. Plumbers hooked up the suite and it's one step closer to us moving in down there (fingers crossed within the week). Kitchen install date is booked. All of that is great.

But then it rained.

You know what happens when it rains? Your new roof gets tested. And sometimes it fails the test. Oh yes indeedy, we sprung a leak. Like I said "Ugh", right?

In fairness to the roofer, he's been awesome and we think this is just bad luck, not a bad job by anyone involved. He's been at our house multiple times sorting it out, including at 7am on two mornings without being asked. The leak appears to be coming from a place where the old house meets the new house and we've *hopefully* ruled out that it's coming from somewhere unknown and just traveling down a joist. Talk about stressful.

But here is the thing - I think it was meant to rain this week and we were meant to find the leak. Let me illustrate:
  • This was the first major rainfall we've had since the roof has been on so the first real test - given the amazing late summer/early fall we've had, it would be feasible that rain could've held off for another few weeks when way more work was done on the house and the damage would be more extensive.
  • The leak was focussed in a door frame where the only thing getting wet was the framing and not the drywall - doors have been waiting but haven't been installed yet. An installed doorframe could have been ruined.
  • The leak was noticed and monitored by our awesome drywallers who called Jordan bright and early in the morning to let him know - Jordan wouldn't have otherwise gone until end of work day when it had been raining, and dripping, all day.
  • The leak only dripped onto subfloor, not brand new wood floors - installation starts this week and I would have lost my mind if brand new hardwood got wet.
  • The leak wasn't big, let's face it. Water was not pouring in. It dripped just enough to be noticed.
So like I said, this leak was meant to be found now, was it not? None of this is a coincidence. Now let's just hope that when Jordan gets up on the roof with a hose to test it (it's stopped raining again) we can put this problem to bed. And more importantly, that in the next couple of weeks when it starts raining regularly and the house is more or less done, that the problem has been solved!


You know what else I'm trying to remind myself of? In the grand scheme of renovation disasters, if this is it for us (knock on wood) we've gotten off pretty easy. No mold. No cracks in the foundation. No sketchy electrical or plumbing that needed to be replaced (ok let me rephrase - a ton of sketchy electrical and plumbing that needed to be replaced, but we planned for that in advance). People can find out terrible things about their house when they do renos and we did not. So I am trying to keep perspective and tell myself that a small leak, found without doing major damage, is not even close to the end of the world.

Anyway, onward. This next week will bring the start of interior paint, hardwood, and trim. I'm really excited to see the floors go in. There is a ton of finicky patching to do where walls were moved or doors were widened, not to mention sand down all of the (63 year old) original hardwood, install the new hardwood (that matches the old) and then refinish it all to be an exact match.

The next several weeks are all going to bring big changes, and big changes this far into the project mean one important thing: We're getting close!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

We Survived!

Week one of Grade 3 and Kindergarten are over, and I'm pleased to say everyone survived! That includes me, which is the most shocking.

Rio of course, was a star. There has been zero time for morning drop off in her classroom which on the one hand makes me very sad (because I spend drop off time with the boys) but on the other hand so pleased with how much she is growing and gaining independence. Going forward I am going to have to figure out how to be in two places at one time so I can help the boys get ready for their day but also spend a bit of time with her and getting to know her teacher. May take some juggling.

The boys sailed through the first two half days. They were so excited and other than a few tears from Nolan at home the morning of the second day, very enthused about all of it. The third day brought a bit more of a challenge. Their school day was excellent, but being the first full day there was a major meltdown after school (I'll let you guess who that was). The day is long and for reasons outside of his control it got extended a bit more and he did not handle it well. Needless to say they went to bed early.

Day four finished the week on a high note, but two very tired boys will spend the weekend quietly preparing for next week. Six hour days of school five days a week??? I have no idea how they're going to make it, but they'll have to won't they?! They're excited and doing great (of course they are) so that is the important part.

The highlight of my week was a response to a letter I sent home to the parents in the boys' class.  I outlined what CP is, how our boys are affected, and gave suggestions about how the parents can talk to their kids about it if questions come up. I got THE nicest response from a mom in the class who went out of her way to email me and thank me for the letter. And guess whose child the boys came home talking about most this week? Hers of course. People are good, you guys. I need to remember that.

So with a very tired family, onward we go to week two. Here's hoping with every passing day it gets a little bit easier for all of us. I think the first week was a good indication it's going to.

And for a little throwback bonus....check out these cuties on the first day of Rio's kindergarten. How far we've come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Days

First day of school for five kids (we're living with my niece and nephew, remember?). The past two mornings have been busy. Kindergarten, Grade 3, Grade 8, and Grade 11 at three schools with varying start times and days. I'll start by showing off the kids who went on Monday....

Grade 3 and Grade 8

And then the three who started today:

Kindergarten and Grade 11

Everybody now! What beauties!

Today and the days leading up to it have been emotional, I won't lie. The good news is, I really only cried for a few days before the start of kindergarten, unlike the weeks I cried before the start of preschool. You guys, this is hard. I know it's tough for any mom to send their child off to kindergarten, especially their last child(ren). But it is especially hard when your children have special needs and things are going to be different for them. I mean come on, Asher is the only one in a wheelchair, and they are the only two with CP. They're not going to go unnoticed and they're going to have challenges at school that most other kids won't face. For a protective mom, that's a hard pill to swallow.

While I feel incredibly thankful that they have a ton of support, it also made me sad that on the first day they have a ton of support. There is no "normal" first day for them where the parents go in and check out the classroom for a bit and leave. Not only did I stay, but several other people were there to offer expertise. I will give credit to everyone involved and say that it was as normal as possible with a lot of observing from afar and letting Asher do his thing. I am so thankful everyone was sensitive to that so I think it really went as well as it could have.

Even though the boys showed a little trepidation today, they're ready, whether I am or not. After all the worrying I did about them being cognitively ready to start kindergarten at just four years old, I know now that was futile because they are bright, social little boys and I already got evidence today of how easily they can interact with others, even when they're shy. Not to mention that Asher is already an incredibly good self-advocate, and that will only improve with age. So I need to take some deep breaths and remember that they are likely much more ready for all of this than I am. But can I remind you of how they started and you'll see why I'm having  such a hard time letting go?!

We were just there, and now we're here. How did that happen and why can't it be easier to let them into the big bad world?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Renovation - Week 11

This week the majority of the work on the house focussed on completing as much as possible in the suite. The plan is that our family will move back into the [very cramped for five people] suite for the next month or so while upstairs is finishing. Although we will be giving up all the space we've had living at my sister's, it will be our own space. Not to mention the fact that now that school is starting it will be a 5 minute walk from home, as opposed to a twenty minute drive from my sister's. So it's not quite done but it's getting there, and we're hoping to get back in the next couple of weeks.

This week also brought the return of our builders who took several weeks off while trades did their thing. They'll now be here off and on doing finishings until completion. The most notable completion this week was wood trim. Daaaayummm, it looks good.

Suite flooring going down:

Suite living it's not a curved room, that's a panoramic picture gone awry:

Start of a suite kitchen:

Week 12 will bring the completion of drywall and hopefully the start of interior paint. And my God if it isn't the FINISH of exterior paint, I'm going to lose it! (Different painters, needless to say).  I can't believe we are almost ready to move back in. Sure, to 650 square feet of basement, but it'll be HOME!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Age Defying

It's time people. I've been giving this a lot of thought and am not taking this decision lightly.

It's time for Botox.

You're probably surprised, I know. But hear me out. Today is my 39th birthday. Thirty-nine. I'm so beyond "mid thirties" it's not even funny. Is it even truthful to say "late thirties" or do I have to say "almost 40"? Regardless of the semantics, I'm not handling the transition well - so I've decided to do something about it.

Age gracefully? Not happening. I'm fighting it every step of the way. I'm already hiding my greys, why stop there? If you consider hair dye camouflage for grey hair, just look at botox as camouflage for my wrinkles.

"What wrinkles?" you ask. (Or that's what you better be asking). I know, I know, I actually don't have that many. I mean don't get me wrong, I think I look 39 years old but I don't think it's necessarily the fault of the wrinkles. All the more reason to start on botox now though. If I have very few wrinkles now, it'll be less of a drastic change, right? Like if I do it now, one day I'll suddenly be 49 and people will think to themselves "Holy s%#t that woman looks good for 49! She could pass for 39!". Right now I'd have a hard time passing for 29, so I'm hoping to hold onto 39 for the next decade.

And why, if I am doing this so that the changes are subtle and no one will really notice in the short term, am I telling all of you? Well for starters, it's my birthday. If you can't tell the truth on your birthday, when can you? And I like to keep it real! Sure, I want strangers and people on the street to remark how good I look but I want all of YOU to know the truth. Friends and family you love me as I am right now and you'll continue to love me with a perfectly smooth forehead and no crows feet, right?

But there's another reason I'm fessing up to this. And it's a good one. Ready for it?

Because it's NOT TRUE, suckers!

Really, please tell me you didn't think I was serious did you?! Sure, botox is many people's thing but did you really think it was MY thing? Have you met me?! Ok many of you haven't met me in real life but I think you all know me well enough by now! I don't like taking prescription medicine, much less injecting something into my face. So no, I am not getting botox.

But someone in this family is. And it might surprise you.

Wait for it...


Jordan is getting botox. And I am outing him right here, right now.  Jordan is not growing old gracefully either. He is looking down the barrel at 38 and it isn't pleasing him. So rather than have a mid life crisis, he's getting botox.

No he's not. Jordan is not getting botox. Seriously Tracey, this isn't funny anymore (was it in the first place?!).

I am not getting botox. Jordan is not getting botox. My forty-something sister is not getting botox (Are you Di?!).

But Asher is.


Yes, I just yelled that if you were unsure. It's important news. But as important as it is, I think I've spent enough time talking about botox today. You'll get the full report soon, don't you worry, but today's my birthday so I'm going to focus on that. And by focus on that I mean try not to hyperventilate when I realize I have only 365 precious days left before I'm forty. Gulp. Time to carpe diem the crap out of the thirties while I can!

My 29th birthday. In Bolivia. Shouldn't I look happier to be so young?!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Renovation - Week 10

Basement drywall - 100% done.
Basement suite (or shall I say "Garden Suite" as we're going to refer to it from now on) paint - 95% done.
Exterior paint - 95% done.
Gutters and soffits - 95% done.
House move in ready? Oy. Ways to go still.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Borrowed Quote

A borrowed quote from one of my favorite bloggers Kelle Hampton, about her daughter Nella who has Down syndrome:

"Down syndrome for us will always float somewhere between "It is what it is" and "It is what you make it." Like any parent of any child, we love our child just the way she is...and we'd love for her to reach her full potential which takes some pushing for all of us."

Truth, sister.

Now let me write that again...

Cerebral Palsy for us will always float somewhere between "It is what it is" and "It is what you make it". Like any parent of any child, we love our boys just they way they are...and we'd love for them to reach their full potential which takes some pushing for all of us.

I have nothing to add. You nailed it, Kelle. That's my mission statement right there. 

Try it parents. Replace Down Syndrome or CP with whatever challenge your child is facing and you'll see just how how fitting it is. A fine balance, every day - with loving and supporting at the forefront.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Renovation - Week 9

Week 9 brought a lot of noticeable changes to the house. Exterior paint is almost finished and all drywall boards have been hung with mudding and taping started.

Original stucco on left, new paint on right

Dining room

Looking into the elevator upstairs

Looking into the elevator downstairs

Boys' room

Downstairs bedroom

Just a few pictures of drywall because I have to leave some walls to reveal when we're finally done, right?

This week will bring a significant chunk (but not completion) of drywall, as well as the final touches on exterior paint, and hopefully gutters/downspouts. Paint and flooring are just around the corner. Ok several corners more like it. But we're getting there. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The End of An Era

There has been so much going on in our lives with the reno and living out of our house that I have neglected to talk about a few important things happening around here. Really important in fact, but I haven't had the energy or the time to really process them. So I'll bite them off in little chunks and start by telling you about the first one.

Last week Asher and Nolan had their very last appointment with our team from early intervention. One or more women from this team has been with us since the boys were 6 months old. First came infant development for both boys. Then physio for Asher. Then occupational therapy for Asher. Then speech for both boys. Then physio for Nolan. Then occupational therapy for Nolan. And somewhere along the way, social work. We have seen some combination of these ladies every single week for over four years.

To say we counted on them for support is the understatement of the century. From the earliest days, they were THE support network. Sure we had family and friends trying to navigate this new life with us, but after being discharged from five months of round the clock hospital care, we were scared and felt helpless and alone in taking care of our very fragile babies. Once these ladies entered our lives, we no longer felt alone. And I don't just mean in taking care of the boys and giving them therapy and helping us adapt our home and lives to their needs - I mean emotional support. I cannot tell you the number of questions I have asked them and the number of times I have cried to them. The laughs and happy memories we have shared are thankfully equally as considerable.

But now, it is time to say goodbye. Once the boys became eligible for school (which they are as of this school year as per Canadian school entrance, even though they aren't five till November) their care transferred to the school age team. So even if we had wanted to hold the boys back a year so they weren't SO young (remember they weren't even supposed to be born until next February and therefore "shouldn't" be starting school till next September) we would go a year with no support - no early intervention team and no school team. Obviously, we've chosen to send them to school.

Once again, I feel scared and helpless and alone. I'm sure their school therapists will be great, but it is not the same model of care. In school it is more "consultation" - meaning the therapists put a plan in place for the boys and it is up to the teacher and the EA to carry it out throughout the normal activities of the school day. That's great, and practical. But not the same. That relationship we had with the early intervention therapists won't be there for either us parents, or the boys. I know that we should look at this like a happy time - a new stage in the boys' life. And it is. But at this point it's hard to feel happy about it when things are so different. It's the end of an era.

So we forge on. We trust that over the past four years we have built up the strength and advocacy skills needed to move on without a team of professionals at our beck and call. We will be fine without them. We will be fine without them. We will be fine without them.  It might just take a while. And boy oh boy will they be missed.