Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Felt like the end of an era.

Here's the wood replaced. Hope it works.

Our shower repair has expanded into a longer job than predicted - of course. Now it will not be finished before the middle of next week - which will be a two week job. It is running concurrently with a similar job, though with less water damage,  in the apartment next door.
Concrete pour #1. 

To add annoyance, the hose in my kitchen sink which has been invaluable for hair washing, is busted - both the nozzle and a tear in the plastic hose itself. Changing it is too big a job for DIY - something odd and non-standard in the attachment. Sigh. Will I never get to color my hair?

Meanwhile my de-clutter continues. Yesterday we took the first six good sized boxes of Jayn's dolls to our storage unit, freeing up the same amount of space on the shelves here (to be allocated to James). It was strange carefully wrapping and packing these dolls, many of which were rarely played with. No twinges  at least from her - about these particular dolls leaving the house. Seems like she will never be a little girl again.

How cute is my honey?

But Jayn has big plans for them all - her doll museum and play center. It's actually nice to think that I am contributing to her future by placing these in storage, so that when the time comes, they will be ready. Either that or they will be largely forgotten until some magical moment in the hazy future when she opens them up and finds "vintage" dolls of great value - for her own kids, or future collectors.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Working on our shower

 Some time ago our downstairs neighbor noticed moisture and mildew coming from above his shower, that is to say our shower recess. At the time a cracked tile in our shower recess was blamed, eventually replaced, and a very bad job done of re-grouting our shower.

Over time it has proved nearly impossible to keep mold and mildew from swiftly growing into the grout and silicon seal in our shower, exacerbated by the lack of sunlight into the shower recess itself (although the bathroom is lovely and light, especially in the afternoons from the west facing window). Seven months ago I noticed that grout had completely cracked away in some places, and alerted the management to the extreme probability that the same problem would recur.

About one month ago, someone finally came to inspect the issue, and decided that I needed new tile work and a new shower pan, so the workers have come today at last. As it turns out several other apartments in the complex also have leaks below their showers.
However once the tiles have been lifted and the cement broken up with a jack hammer, they found that all the wood has rotted and also needs replacing. I am  not surprised - the water had to go somewhere, and this has been years and years. I suppose we can count ourselves lucky that we haven't fallen through the floor! James tells me that this actually happened in a house he lived in as a young person.
The smell of mold is very strong. I'm glad the guys have masks in there.

Meanwhile I have been given some extra impetus to focus on my household clean up by the landlord. Forward. As of today, another cupboard emptied, more defunct gadgets boxed for the recycler, and the kitchen is still immaculate. (I even put the mixer away immediately after using it last night.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jayn Takes Flight

Wide Sky Days group photo - Photo credit: Julianne Fishell
Our daughter has just returned from her first big trip away from us. She will turn 13 in October, and it is quite a milestone.

We love attending unschooling conferences, and just got back from North East Unschooling Conference in Wakefield, MA (just outside of Boston for non-locals). We had a joyous, relaxing time filled with laughter, as you can see from my new blog banner. Last year we attended Good Vibrations in San Diego, which this year changed names to Wide Sky Days. I was a speaker at both of these events, which is what makes it possible for us to travel and for James to skip work (he spoke at NEUC too).

Our girl loves going to Conferences - loves staying in hotels, loves eating at restaurants, loves most of all spending time with all her friends doing all kinds of things. I have watched her grow up in a series of snapshots at these events - and I have seen her future manifested in watching the groups of slightly older than her kids over the years. It's like a little time capsule. What they are, she becomes, has proven true over the last 10 years that we have been attending conferences all over the country. At Wide Sky Days, Jayn has tons of friends that she rarely sees other than at this conference.

This year there was a problem of tragic dimension. We could not afford to attend the second conference, since neither of us were speaking, and James could not take more time off work so soon. I was astounded when Jayn asked, "Couldn't I just go alone?"

The real answer was that no, she couldn't go "alone", but perhaps we could find a way for her to go with someone else. We were still mulling it over and talking it over at NEUC when I mentioned it to the lovely perennial conference speaker (because she's awesome at it) Erika Davis-Pitre (pictured laughing as always in the blog banner). She offered the spare bed in her hotel room and her son's unused registration to Jayn! All I had to do was get Jayn to the hotel, as long as the conference organizer, dear friend Flo Gascon, approved. Which she did!

This was fantastic. I took Jayn to the hotel in San Diego, loaded her up with snacks (which ultimately weren't helpful because access to a microwave was difficult), gave her cash and a gift card to buy her food, and dropped her off. You know it's an unschooling conference when you start seeing people with rainbow colored hair. I visited with folks I knew for a while, increasingly regretting my own sad loss at not being able to stay amid the wonderful, gave some encouragement to a few, and finally left with Jayn barely noticing that I was gone.

How empty our house felt that night!
How bereft James and I felt for those several days. I spent more time than I ever have before on Facebook, scouring photos for images of Jayn in the background, and trying to connect myself to the activities even from far away.

But Jayn had a wonderful time. There were only two difficult phone calls - frustration and sorrow brought on by hunger. Jayn tends to get locked into a cycle of impossible, unable to take positive action when she gets very hungry. Unfortunately she had a bad tummy after eating at the buffet the first night (which may or may not have been actually connected to her tummy troubles), which made her reluctant to eat there again. But I talked her through a few choices including ordering room service, which she did. It pointed out to me, how much time I do spend making sure Jayn has food available to her. I was worried about her food more than anything else, especially when I learned there was no microwave for guest use anywhere, but she asked me straight out, "Just let me handle my food, OK?"

And by and large, she did. She also managed to get sunburned, and feel crappy from a cold coming on - but still she persevered until the very last morning, took care of herself, made new friends, reconnected with old, and packed up all her belongings herself.

I was very proud of her even before she told me how she took care of herself by walking to the Denny's or the nearby convenience store (in small groups). I was very proud of her, even before the nice reports started coming in, of her joyousness, and kindness to others. She is still slowly revealing different things she did at different times.

I'm so extremely grateful to everyone in the community of unschoolers at that conference who were kind and watched over her, especially Flo, and even more especially Erika, who hadn't actually realized that this was Jayn's first experience away from home. Erika doesn't know it yet, but she will be getting something special in the mail very soon.....;)

The whole experience has reiterated for me that we do not have to push our kids towards independence. It comes at the right time, and quite possibly in a huge explosion. Now she wants to go to the next conference in our general region, Life Is Good, all the way up in Vancouver, WA (near Portland, OR). We will have to see about that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tidying the Craft Supplies

My declutter is moving very slowly, what with travels and doll commissions and rewrites of scripts. However I am at a point where I have an urgent need to reorganize my art and craft supplies, take stock of what I have and create the space for the next round of Craft-It-Easy project designs.

I've grabbed two large cardboard boxes. and just cleared the two tables of all the projects in progress and other stuff that had accumulated directly into the boxes - instant space. Then I started allocating all the supplies to small clear boxes I had purchased for the purpose. They all have lids, so they'll stack and fill the space on the shelves more efficiently than my current overflowing open topped system. I've got the labels temporarily taped to the fronts, so that if I find I need to redistribute I can. I'm surprised to learn how many rubber stamps I have, and how few decorative punches. The other great plus - I found my brayer! I've been searching for it.

In other news, Jayn is going to Wide Sky Days without James or I. She will be staying with our friend Erika, and I expect that she will have a wonderful time. She is all packed and ready. I will be driving her down in the morning, after a trip to the market to stock up on easily prepared snacks. It is true that all things have their season - and this is a season of separation and maturity. It is further proof that there is no need to force or push independence on our children. The growth to autonomy comes at the right time, and sometimes with a great big leap.