20 March 2011

Painting Stairs, Stitches (Twice), Composting, and Dog Training

Ok, so we’ve slacked a little on the blog the last couple of weeks, but in my defense we did spend several days dealing with an e-mail virus and the subsequent virus scans (when my computer crashed last month our friend who fixed it installed a number of different virus and malware scan software programs, and it takes over 30 hours to run through all the scans, but they’re supposed to find most everything that might be ‘hiding’ on your computer). So, with the computer out of commission for several days and me spending my time sanding and painting lately (I’ve finally pulled myself out of my winter-long slump of not being motivated to do any house projects), I didn’t find much time for blogging.

One day about a week ago I was thinking that our basement needs some work, but I didn’t really have the tools needed to work on the mudding and sanding necessary for the unfinished drywall job (done by the previous homeowners) before we can paint the basement walls. But the walls are finished in the basement stairway, so I decided that would be my next little project. I started by painting the walls in the basement stairway with leftover tan paint from upstairs, then I painted the ceiling white in the basement stairway and the landing at the bottom of the stairs. I used a partial bucket of white ‘ceiling paint’ that was sitting in our basement when we moved into the house (although I can’t tell any difference between ceiling paint and normal paint). Painting a textured ceiling takes a while, but I got that done. Over the next few days whenever I could find a few free hours (during naptime/school time) I worked on sanding the steps, filling in the big gaps around the steps with caulk, filling in all the little holes and nicks in the steps with wood filler, and doing lots of sweeping, wiping, and vacuuming of sawdust and dog fur so that I could get everything ready to paint the steps. Originally I was thinking of painting the steps all black, because we saw that done at a friends’ house and it looked really cute, but since we plan on selling this house in the next couple of years I was hesitant to do that because I wondered if it might be considered too taste-specific by some buyers. So I ended up painting the wood on the sides of the steps and the risers white, and the treads black – I’m not quite done yet, but I at least have the white all done except a little touch-up, and I’ve got at least the 1st coat of black on all the steps. It would have been lots easier to paint it all black, since the lines between the black and white need to be really straight or it will be pretty noticeable, but I think it’ll turn out nice. I painted the hand rail black, and found 3 nice large black frames with white mattes for really cheap at WalMart, and am really excited to hang up cute black and white photos of the boys in them on the wall down the stairway. Oh, and I got some molding to run down each side of the steps (because on one side there’s a gap between the steps and the wall that’s almost an inch wide, so we’ll try to hide that. Planning on painting that molding white too. I have learned that painting stairs is a real pain, though. We don’t have another exit from the basement, so in order to be able to get out after painting I’ve had to paint every other step so I can still walk up, skipping each step. So it takes at least twice as long since the steps need to be painted and allowed to dry, then the ones in between need the same, then second coats and touch-ups are needed. But I’m getting pretty close, and am pleased with how it’s turning out so far.

So, the last couple of weeks it’s finally started to feel like spring. We even had a few days in the 50s and one in the low 60s, which has been great to be able to spend some time outdoors again! Although it’s back to the mid 30s now, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ve been busy with lots of little “projects.” The painting of the basement steps, looking for clothes for the boys (we spent an afternoon sorting through and trying on all the summer clothes so I know what we still need in each size), tossing around ideas about composting and making a simple composter to try it out, helping friends move, teaching a family history class at church, getting stitches (twice), working on some dog training, and having a couple fun “dates” with Michael.

I’ve been toying with the idea of composting, and trying to decide if it’s worth it to start now since we know we’ll be moving in the summer of 2012 and so it’ll only be worthwhile if we can produce a decent amount of compost for the garden this season. I ended up deciding to make a very simple composter and experiment with it this season. So I spent about $12 and got a large plastic trash can, and drilled a lot of ½–inch holes all around the sides and bottom of it. Then I added a bunch of dry leaves (yes, we were slackers last fall and had a little raking to do this week now that the snow is all gone), a little other plant material from the yard, a couple layers of dirt from the garden, and a bucketful of fruit and vegetable pieces from the house. We’ll see how it goes (although I don’t expect much progress at all for now, since the outdoor temperature is so low and composting depends on heat building up to decompose the material).

About the stitches: I got a babysitter and went on Friday the week before last to Michael’s office, because one of the doctors there was doing a demo with a laser and he invited the residents to try it out on family and friends. So I went over there and Michael removed a mole on my chin, which didn’t take very long. I was nervous because I hate needles, but it wasn’t very bad at all. So that was our first set of stitches in two week’s time: he put in 3 stitches on my chin. Then I went in and he did the laser hair removal on my legs. It was actually quite painful in some spots (but worth it if you never had to shave again). The only thing is you need about 4 to 6 treatments for it to be permanent, and they don’t have the laser at the office anymore – they’re waiting to see if they get it approved to purchase it or not. Well, after that we stopped for a quick diner out, which was nice to turn it into a little date night.

Our other date night was on Saturday last week, and was very fun. There was a stake dinner dance, and it was quite fancy for a church event: they had people come and decorate each table with their fine china, there was a live band, and the food was good (Michael and I especially enjoyed the shrimp). But the best part of it was that we happened to sit at a table with our friends, the Gilchrists, Cases, and Silvas, and we had so much fun talking. It was such fun conversation, that we didn’t even get up to dance. But it was a really nice night out.

Oh, and we got an air hockey table. Yeah, I know – random. But someone at church sent out an e-mail saying that they had a really nice air hockey table and wanted to get rid of it because it wasn’t being used and it was taking up space where they wanted to remodel their basement. We happened to be the first ones to call them about it, and went to pick it up a couple days later. Right now it’s sitting in our garage because we realized we’ll need to remove the legs to get it down the basement stairs, and then put it back together again. But that should be a fun addition to the playroom.

On Wednesday Kolby and Lijah were at school and I had put Camden, Isaac, and Courtland down for naps when I heard a loud bang and Camden started screaming. I ran upstairs as fast as I could and the tall dresser was laying on top of Camden. I pulled it off of him really quickly and set it up, but because the drawers were all hanging out and it was front heavy it tipped over again and fell on the back of my leg (it hurt, but I was ok). I put it up again, pushed all the drawers in, and turned to help Camden up when I let out a yell because there were a couple of good-sized smudges of blood on the floor. But I checked him out and it was his head (I know head wounds bleed a lot), so I took him downstairs and put pressure on it. When I got it cleaned up I called Michael because I wasn’t sure if it needed stitches or not (it was on the back of his head, so his hair would cover it up). He told me I should just bring him in to his office, so I woke up the other boys and we headed over there. It was nice to walk right in, instead of waiting in an urgent care waiting room for an hour. Michael and his friend, Steve, who is a resident in the class a year ahead of Michael, agreed that it could use some stitches. So we got our second set of stitches in so many weeks, and Camden got three stitches too. He still has his in, and Michael says it looks like it’s healing nicely. Nice to have a doctor in the family for some things.

Oh, and I’ve decided to work on a little training with Brax. (I’ve decided that I want a second dog, although I’ve agreed with Michael that we can wait on that at least until after we’ve moved. But I’ve read that you want to address any behavior issues of your dog before considering getting a second dog, since a younger dog is likely to follow the lead of the older dog and can pick up bad habits. So I informed Michael that I’ve decided not to get a second dog until I’m satisfied with the behavior of our first one. Not that Brax is bad – he’s actually quite well behaved, but there are just one or two things I’d like to work on). The biggest thing with Brax that I dislike is when anyone comes to the door he gets so excited. He doesn’t bark or jump up on people, but he’s so excited that he runs around in circles in front of people as they’re walking in, and I’d rather he was calmer because it can make small children a little nervous. (And it’s rather embarrassing when I’m telling him to sit and he’s just so excited that he isn’t listening at all). So, the last few days we’ve worked on it. I have one of the boys go outside through the garage door and go around and ring the doorbell, then I tell Brax to sit on his dog bed that is in our family room – within sight of the front door. I don’t open the door until he is sitting, and I tell him to stay. He has to stay until I release him (call him), which he does a pretty good job of, once he does sit down on his dog bed. And we repeat it several times in a row.  It’ll need some more practice, but it seems to be working well so far. Ideally he will hear the door bell ring and automatically go sit on his dog bed, but we’ll just have to wait and see how long that takes.

Last night after the boys were in bed I heard a loud yell from the basement and went to find Michael lying on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. I guess that since I had painted some of the steps earlier that afternoon, when he walked down to check on the laundry he tried to jump and skip the bottom two steps and he hit his head hard on the ceiling, then came down and landed with his back on the bottom steps. He’s bruised and sore, but luckily nothing worse than that.

So, we finished our week with a nice day at church today. The boys did pretty well in the first meeting, and then they all enjoyed their classes, of course. I taught my last class for this section – the family history director asked me to teach this class about two topics: census records and the familysearch.org site. It went pretty well, and at least a few of the people in the class found new info on their ancestors, which is always cool. Then tonight we had an impromptu dessert night (Michael didn’t think I’d be able to get anyone to come tonight when I called to invite people today after church, but I didn’t have to make too many phone calls before getting ahold of a few families. We had the St. Cyrs, Gilchrists, and Rays over, which was fun. And the Rays just moved into the ward, so it’s nice to get to know them more. I told Michael I want to make this a more regular thing – we used to be so good at having people over all the time, and we’ve just allowed ourselves to get comfortable, but I miss it. So even if Michael wants to be antisocial (wink, wink) and spend the evening reading a novel, I think I’m at least going to try to make an effort to have people over more often and get to know some more families.

Well, it’s getting late. The boys are in bed asleep, Michael’s asleep on the couch (of course), and I’m started to get tired eyes. Wow – it’s only 11:30 at night. Remember the college days when we used to stay up until 2 or 3 am all the time? Well, this week I expect Michael will be studying a lot – he has been for weeks because his mock boards (annual practice test for his board exam) is this week. But at least next week he has a week of vacation, so that’ll be a nice break. Maybe we’ll even get some nice weather and be able to go hiking or something. But at least we should definitely be able to finish the basement stairway and get Michael’s resumes sent out (we’ve got them all ready to go, just need to have a little time that is free of studying to get everything organized and sent out). So keep us in your prayers as we start with that process. So, then in April Michael will be on a Mohs surgery rotation again, which is always busier because he’s on call throughout the weeks for the surgery patients. We’ve gotten used to the residency schedule, and I really can’t complain. Although I’d love it if Michael were home early enough to do dinner early in the evening and then spend some free time with everyone in the evenings (instead of coming home, having a late dinner, then starting into the kids’ bedtime routine right away most nights), it has been a much nicer schedule than intern year. I can’t believe he’s already coming up on his last year of residency. Let’s see: 4 years of undergrad, 4 years of med school, 1 year of internship, and 3 years of residency – 12 years of post-high school education. It’s been quite a long haul, especially with a decent sized little family through a good part of it, but we feel like it’s worth it. And just think: in just over a year he’ll have a “real” job. We won’t even know what to do with ourselves.   :)

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