Thursday, October 30, 2014
So, we move in six weeks. SIX WEEKS. That seems so close yet so far away at the same time!
I've been having a happier experience with the house than I was last week at this time. I am the liaison with our builder's project manager for the most part. I'm not sure if I was designated for the role or it just came to me naturally because it was the best fit—either way, it's working for Nick and me even though it stresses me out at times. I am a project manager professionally, so organizing large projects and communicating with different personalities has become a learned skill.
Last week, we walked into a newly insulated house that wasn't water-sealed before the afternoon rain came through. Now, I'm not exactly educated in the trades, but I am a handyman's daughter—and armed with common sense at the very least. I would hope that anyone would see an issue with standing water caught in the ceiling mesh and pooled on the floor inches away from the new insulation.
Now, lest you think I'm just a hothead (I'm anything but), this wasn't the first instance of ball-dropping (or perceived ball-dropping) that we've observed from our site project manager. It was just one more thing to add to the list. Negative messages require a certain finesse, and I usually need some time to mull over my approach. I spent the night stewing with Nick (who was even more worked up about it than I was). By morning, I had my calm back and my message planned. By midday I had a lot of promises, and I saw follow-through over the next several days.
A coworker of mine is acquaintances with someone who lives just down the road from our house. It gave me a chuckle today when she relayed his [snoopy] observations: "It was the weirdest thing...they installed insulation before shingles! Then one day an army of people came in and shingled the roof in one day!" Even though I was humored, we'll have to be wary of that neighbor...he seems to keep his eye on things. I bet I'm going to have to stop dressing like a chicken and clucking at Sophie. Drats.
Back on schedule, and back on countdown...let's do this!
Sunday, October 26, 2014
New site header! I just needed a change, and I'm super obsessed with the quatrefoil lately...true story. Now that I think about it, the carpeting we ordered for the stairs is actually similar to the pattern and color of the header background, so there you have it.
I'm also trying out some serif fonts in the CSS—but historically, I'll have it changed back to sans-serif fonts by this time next week because I just cannot stand the clutter of all those serifs hanging around without a value-added reason. (Good golly: I'm a nerd.)
More house stuff coming soon...
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Okay, so that title is somewhat suspicious, but I promise this isn't a TMI entry...not really. It won't get overly graphic anyway.
This week started with me scouring the depths of the Internet for bathroom fixtures and ended with squeals of delight when I saw just the vanity mirrors that I imagined in my mind. This post is about neither of these bookends (though I suppose they go well with the title).
Between them, I missed most of the week at work because I was overwhelmed with fatigue, pain, and nausea. I put in a full day on Monday and attempted Tuesday, expecting to snap out of whatever I had. Well, something sure snapped on Tuesday, and I felt myself losing control. I couldn't focus on anything very well, and I was so hot yet so cold at the same time. My eyes felt dry and gritty, and I just wanted to close them—I knew it would feel good to slip into the oblivion for a little while.
The symptoms should have been enough to scare me, but that's just the thing when you have chronic pain—you learn to put up with a lot before you question anything because you don't want people to become tired with your whining. Sadly, it was my self-respect and damning pride that had me going home early that day. I've never in my life fallen asleep at school or work, and I never intend to...like ever. It is Nick's busy season at work, so I drove myself separately that day when usually we carpool. Shortly into my 15-minute drive home, I stopped at a red light and nearly dosed off before it turned green. With one of those dramatic jerks that feels like you fell from a cliff, adrenaline had me wired the rest of the commute. I had an angel with me then.
I got home safely and slept immediately. After about an hour and a half, I went to use the restroom. I would avoid this part normally, but it is the only symptom that finally smacked me and told me to get my butt to a doctor. First, as someone with Ulcerative Colitis, I'm no stranger to seeing blood. Anyone who has an illness is intimately familiar with their symptoms and knows their personal mark of normal; they become diligent in monitoring those symptoms so that they can treat a flare up before it becomes too big. As such, I guarantee that anyone with any sort of digestive issues looks in the toilet before they flush—it's absolute habit even if I am asymptomatic.
I was not prepared to see that amount of blood after urinating. I'll leave it there for the description...just...I saw stars. I ran a shallow bath for myself and tried to think, to rationalize it away. I think I was literally scared stupid. By the end of my bath, I was over my shock but went back to bed instead of calling a clinic. I felt worse the next morning. My entire body felt heavy...I was thirsty but didn't want to drink anything...couldn't stand the thought of drinking. I had come to terms that this was bigger than me by then, and called the clinic as soon as they opened at 8:00. They wanted to see me and scheduled me for an appointment at 3:15. This of course gave me an illusion of calm because they didn't demand to see me right away or anything—so it's fine, right? No big deal.
It's just that it took me developing symptoms of a major bladder infection for them to also notice a kidney infection that I have had for "some time" if the number of bacteria and white blood cells they found in my test is any indication. The
only major symptoms I had were terrible back pain and fatigue, which I have accepted as part of my life. Did I notice an increase in either of these? Yes of course I did...months ago. It's when I started my latest rounds with the pain clinic and physical therapy. Nobody was interested in figuring out why the symptoms changed—only how to obscure the symptoms. I accepted it at the time. In my head, I think of myself as "The Great Acceptor." Like it's my super-human strength or something. It has given me such peace over the years...kept me whole when I didn't think I could ever be whole with so much of me missing. Defense mechanism, much?
Meanwhile, my husband notices how I've deteriorated, and he can't believe that everyone is so hunky dory with it all. I shush him, pat his head like an indulgent parent—using my Great Acceptor powers, naturally—and try to be there for him as he struggles to accept the non-answers I've received. "It's fine," I tell him. "I'm not upset." Folks: find someone who gets upset for you and keep them in your life. It wasn't fine. I should have been upset. I let them treat the symptom and assume the cause, and I was okay with it. What the heck, Laura!? All I can say in my defense is that I was terrified that they were right, that this pain-riddled life was my life. That I would need to be drugged. That the drugs would need to be increased constantly. That my freedom was slipping away from me. If they were right, resisting the idea would only make it hurt longer. Accept, accept...The Great Acceptor always accepts.
And so here I am, just over halfway into my round of heavy antibiotics, and my pain has fallen dramatically. I wear a Fentanyl patch and take Percocet for breakthrough pain—and last week I would have told you that my average pain on a scale of 1-10 was an 8. Even with all those drugs in my system, I could still perceive pain that ranged near the top of my tolerance. I hurt standing, I hurt sitting...I hurt working, and I hurt doing nothing. Waking...sleeping...I hurt...all...the...time. I have been averaging a 2-3 on the pain scale since my first full day of antibiotics; I have handled any minor breakthrough with over-the-counter pain medication. The last few mornings, I open my eyes after waking and revel in the fact that my flanks aren't throbbing because it's been hours since my last Percocet.
I'm not quite out of the woods yet, but I have turned a corner. I still feel my fever spike if I move around much, but I have three days of medication left. I need to go back to the doctor if this flushing does not stop by the time medication is gone in case I need either a longer duration or stronger (intravenous) dose of antibiotics. I just want to get over this—in no little part because I took an ice cold shower tonight to try to get myself to stop sweating, and I found it terribly unpleasant (yet effective)—but mainly because I want to start rejecting that other imitation of life I knew.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Continued from I see the light!
Shall we go upstairs then?
Very similar to the foyer light from the earlier post, we ordered a larger version (that wasn't on display, so you have a stock photo to imagine the majesty) to hang over the stair landing between the first and second floor. It has 9 lights instead of six and an extra tier of crystals. There is also a third size available that is smaller than the two we ordered, but we didn't have a space that called for that size.
We have a couple fun pieces upstairs, but we also tried to keep it toned down so it doesn't end up looking gaudy. The two crystal chandeliers should be the focal point anyway...and they provide the requisite amount of sparkle for any home of mine! In the laundry room, we are doing something fun with the floor (yes, yes...I need to post about flooring, I know) involving two wood tones, so I wanted a light that would compliment that design.
It's in the photo above, but it's not prominent (partly because it's not illuminated). As my buddy Michael, our all-things-light-fixtures-guru said, "It's girly, just not too girly." You can see a better photo to the left...I'm excited to see how it will look with floor. After all, it's a laundry room. When is there ever excitement in the laundry room? NEVER. The answer is never...unless you get jazzy with floors and lighting. Just to seal the deal, lighting-dude-extraordinaire Jeremy plugged the light in for us to get the full effect (photo to the right).
Simple glass with antique copper brackets will light the hallway leading to the guest rooms and the guest bath. This was also a chance for us to save some money because the tally has becoming astronomical. I really liked the simplicity of the design for this fixture, and that it was one of the more economical was just a bonus in my book.
It's actually a bit of a story that brought these lights to the hallway: Michael originally talked us into a different fixture to line the space (there are three fixtures total). I have been comfortable with my decisions throughout the entire selection process, but we also try to take feedback from the vendors who do this stuff for a living. I was feeling odd that we really hadn't listened to Michael's directions a whole lot during the lighting selection (I've just always had definite ideas what it would look like I guess), and I admit that I began to doubt myself. When the special order items were ordered on Monday, it was discovered that the lights we selected were on back-order with current estimations for them to be back in stock by late November. I wasn't willing to gamble with that timeline, and I was secretly glad at the "excuse" to go back to these simpler lights for the hallway. Silly Laura...you don't need an excuse: it's your house.
The original lights for the hallway matched the lights going in the two guest rooms. The fixture sitting atop the box is what we selected for those rooms. It is definitely a transitional piece, mixing the traditional and modern styles that we like (sorry I don't have a better photo). I think the coordinating lights in the hallway would have looked fine, but the lighter use of metal in the other fixtures feels right to me.
One last room before we get to the master suite: the guest bathroom. There was a little drama over this room recently: the wrong shower/tub surround was delivered. When we stopped by yesterday, the correct unit has since been delivered—PRESTO-CHANGO: surround switched. So in terms of drama, we're obviously not doing too badly. The only thing of "slight" concern is that we can't remember if we've ordered a kitchen sink from anyone. We've thought of everything but the kitchen sink...how cliché. But anyway...GUEST BATH.
I have square sinks going in the bathrooms upstairs, so we carried those angles into the vanity lights. The guest bath has a sort of a mini anteroom with the sink and vanity. The "real" bathroom action takes place beyond this vestibule and will have a fan/light combination for lighting. We selected a four-light fixture for this space even though my preference is three because the space seemed too large for just three lights. I still might think about a counter-top lamp if it seems too dim, but I'm hoping that it will be soft and glow-y and perfect without. Michael really had my style pegged by the end of our appointment, and I think he knew before asking if I would like something.
The other half of the second story is the master suite. We have our bedroom, a little sitting area, then a back hallway that leads to the walk-in closet and master bath. The bedroom has a tray ceiling that we are wiring to light the perimeter for a little ambiance. In addition, we have can lights in each of the four corners and a small ceiling fan (without a light) in the center of the tray for a little air circulation.
I think one of my favorite places in the whole house is going to be the little sitting area off the master bedroom. The sunrise reaches in from the left and dusk tucks us in from the right. I'm a little in love if it isn't obvious. (Nick's obviously attracted to that space too, as you can see by the picture.) As was the struggle throughout the light fixture selection process, I wanted to choose something as beautiful as the natural parts of the house—the natural light, the conservancy—yet fixtures that did not detract from their perfection.
I referred to this drum, semi-flush mount light as the "Frank Lloyd Wright-y one" during the visit. Even though that isn't anywhere close to the name, Nick and Michael knew exactly which one I was talking about (so obviously my name was better that the actual, more generic name). More oil-rubbed bronze contrasted with white (do you notice a theme?), but with a little dab of interesting thrown in.
We have recessed can lights through the back hallway (two or three I believe). In the master closet, we have the same style fixture as the main hallway on the second floor (just the next size larger). That's right...there are two larger lights in there...because the closet is huge. I am ruined for all other closets now, just so you know. I'm tickled when someone (such as a vendor) walks through the framed house and mistakes the closet for a bedroom.
Right. Onto the master bathroom then. We have two light/fan combination units in this space: one in the center of the room for the shower and freestanding tub; and one in the little alcove (with a pocket door) where we tucked away the toilet. The vanity has two square sinks separated by an appliance garage in a dark wood stain. To bring out the angles of the sinks and also the dark wood (and to match EVERY OTHER FIXTURE IN THE ENTIRE HOUSE), we chose the fixture to the right in the oil-rubbed bronze finish.
And...that's it. Those are the lights...we took a seat after deciding on the last one...in part because it's difficult for me to stand that long without getting off my feet, and in part because I was sweaty just thinking about the mounting total. Michael came back to us with the scribbles he captured throughout our three hours chatting and choosing lights. Our budget was blown to smithereens, but we've been able to cover our overs with savings—our "overs" stockpile has been depleted now, so it's a good thing that the selection process is all but over. Now we wait to see if it all comes together as smoothly as we imagine and as enchanting as I dream.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
My husband really loves me. The two chandeliers under so much contention last week ultimately went to me without any fight at all. I cannot hold back this photo much longer, nor can I bring myself to share a smaller thumbnail...our shining glory:
This is the fixture that will hang in the foyer, and there is a larger version that will hang in the stairwell that will be somewhat visible from the foyer, so it made sense to match them. However, we had the opportunity to go grander with the stairway landing since the ceiling is higher in that space. Both fixtures hang near windows and should reflect natural light further into the house during the day (because...PRISMS!) and cast sparkles of awesomeness at night (or late afternoon during winter...just around the corner).
I meekly brought up the conversation on these chandeliers when we were about 15 minutes away from the showroom. We chose our lights from BBC Lighting in Milwaukee—which is just over an hour drive, so you'll notice that I put off the conversation for the majority of the drive. At that time, he said he was 85% with me. I had to contain my zeal because 85% might as well have been 100% to me. Even so, we talked chandeliers with Michael, our all-things-lighting guru. I think that Michael's added enthusiasm about the fixture gave him confidence that his wife wasn't completely design-impaired.
Due to this MAJOR compromise of his, I gave him the light fixture over the dinette to choose without any help from me. That didn't really go as planned because my husband is a really good guy. He so wanted to make sure that I liked whatever he selected that his eyes slid to my face every time Michael showed us a new fixture so he could get a read on me. In the end, it came down to two drum-shaped semi-mount lights.
Since Michael could see that Nick wasn't going to make the decision 100% alone, he gave us each a vote (I was going to let Nick win no matter what). I, to even my own surprise, voted for the simpler, less expensive fixture. Nick voted for the much prettier, much lovelier fixture with a larger price tag. I knew that fixture caught his eye last week when we did our walk through, so I am happy that we found a place for it in our home.
Being that we had such distinctive fixtures so far, we decided to go more neutral on the pendant lights over the kitchen island. We identified a pendant light that melded our styles well last week, but the style clashed a bit with the new light fixture over the dinette, and Michael advised that the light output from that model was pretty dim—something that we did not consider and that would have been impossible to discern in a lighting store because it's filled with...well...light. I couldn't get an interesting picture of the pendant light, but trust me that it's quite handsome in its simplicity. (That's Michael's hand in the photo...say, "Hello, Michael!") I love that we've been able to continue the oil-rubbed bronze tones throughout the entire house.
Before we go too much further, I should point out that I really connected with Michael. I had an immediate affinity with him when we first met last week and we had similar tastes (plus, he was unafraid to give us his honest opinions...I always appreciate that). During small talk this morning, I learned that he is a chronic pain sufferer too. It's weird, but I felt much more at ease with him than I normally do on any other day with anyone else because I knew that he gets it. He understands that it's something you have to accept and slap a smile on your face so that you can maintain your positive outlook. Meanwhile:
But back to light fixtures. Since we had so many "statement pieces" on the first floor already, we decided to go more neutral on the office light too. The office is just off the foyer and flows through a set of double glass doors with a transom window—so the fixture would be highly visible. So as not to compete with the chandelier, we went with an understated drum with a cover made of pretty, shimmery gossamer material...again, trimmed in oil-rubbed bronze.
To finish out the fixtures on the first floor, we have a ceiling fan in the great room and the screened porch. I don't have a lot to say about ceiling fans. I'm sorry if I've offended you ceiling fan aficionados. I had high hopes that we could save some money by going with less expensive fans, but it wasn't meant to be.
Oh goodness! How could I forget the little powder room on the first floor!? I'm hoping that this is going to be a swanky little room when it's all said and done. We chose the nicest (in my opinion) vanity lights for this room, and I think they will go nicely with the plumbing fixtures and cabinetry we've already selected. In the picture below, the fixture is the set of three lights with Michael holding the tag. (He and I also agreed that there's something special about sets of three rather than an even number...Nick simply shook his head at the amount of crazy spewing from our mouths.)
The powder room will also have a light/fan combination, and there will be a smattering of can lights in the tiny entryway from the garage, the kitchen, and great room. We are also adding rope lighting to the tray ceiling in the great room, so I think we will be able to achieve a nice ambiance there.
With that, I am going to call it a night. There's an entire second floor worth of lights to get through yet, so stay tuned!
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