Miscellaneous New Stuff

KF and MBM, have you enjoyed reading the new stuff? Sometimes I think you may be the only two regular readers I have left. *lol* From the heights of being featured on CNN (in 2004) to the depths of mainly being the blog that tells you how to fix your Samsung phone if you can’t log in anymore (my most popular post of 2014 because apparently it’s a huge issue).

Okay, so what else can I share?

We’re in the process of having our TV room carpet replaced with hardwoods. Well, by the time this post goes live it’ll be done. Right now it looks like this:

20141010_115738

We had a lot of work done this summer in addition to the landscaping work. We kept having wasps and yellowjackets getting in the house for the past couple years – there was a hole in one of the window sashs in our TV room. So we had that completely replaced, and also had some exterior wood rot taken care of. We finally got the popcorn ceiling removed in our master bedroom and bath. Last year the popcorn started coming down in the bathroom where our shower was. We determined that the bathroom fan was a joke and not positioned in the right spot. So we got a new fan and had it installed directly over the shower rather than by the entry door to the bathroom. We also had some popcorn coming down in the bedroom near one of the ceiling vents. So we had it all taken down. Man, was it dusty. Our poor housecleaner – she was miserable the next time she came to clean. It was a hot mess up there. But I tell you – it looks GREAT. Now we need to save up to have the REST of the popcorn removed in the house. I just don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of mess any time soon.

We also had ceiling fan/lights installed in the kids’ rooms. Since we moved in they’ve only had light via a plugged in lamp. Their rooms were always dark as a result. Not anymore! Now they have nice bright light AND the ability to get some air movement in their rooms. It has been a nice change. I’d love to eventually do the same in the guest room someday, but since we rarely have guests, it’s not a priority.

In other news, since it’s October Denis and I are in the midst of figuring out our menu for our annual White Elephant party. We won’t be doing an all-new menu like we did last year. We’ll be revisiting some old recipes as well as introducing some new ones. As always, we’re looking forward to the party.

Work is going well. I’ve pretty much thrown off my “Administrative Assistant” title at this point. Sure, I may schedule meetings every now and again, but for the most part I strictly do data analysis. Most of my work is done in Excel instead of Word or Powerpoint. I don’t mind – I like trying to figure out formulas and building big spreadsheets that all work together and provide a snapshot of current outcomes. Yes, my name is Jaynee and I’m a huge nerd.

Denis’s knee is pretty much back to normal. He finished up PT a couple months ago and now he and I both go to the gym almost every night when our schedule allows. I had started a self-challenge to go every day for 100 days. But then I tweaked my knee when doing lower body weights, and it put my out of commission for 2-3 days. So now I just go as much as I can, doing an hour on the treadmill or 20 minutes treadmill and 40 minutes of weights/abs. I was telling CootieGirl the other day that when she turned 13 I’ll upgrade my membership so she can go with me whenever she wants. At first she said no way, but then she sounded a tiny bit intrigued. So we’ll see (she doesn’t turn 13 for another 18 months, so she has time to decide if she’ll take me up on the offer). I go often enough that one of the girls at the front counter knows my name and calls out to me when I come in or leave, almost like Norm on “Cheers.” That’s kind of nice – knowing that I go to the gym often enough that they recognize me as a regular. I’d rather be recognized there than at the local QT picking up a daily slushee.

TV-wise, what am I watching? I like “blackish” a lot. I also have been watching “Forever” – although I don’t know how long it’ll last. “Gotham” is pretty good. It’s weird watching “Gracepoint” when I loved “Broadchurch” on BBC America. But I’ll watch David Tennant in anything, so I’m enjoying it. When I go to the gym I watch “Supernatural” on Netflix streaming on my phone. How have I never watched this show?!?! And it’s been on for 10 years and I never really watched it! Now I love it. I’ve just started Season 2. I’m so happy that I have another 8 seasons after this one to keep me going at the gym. I can typically watch one episode and part of another during my hour on the treadmill. I do an hour on the treadmill 3-4 times a week, which means I can watch 4-5 episodes a week. And I have NINE seasons to watch. It’s not quite binge-watching, but I find I look forward to my workout because I know I’ll get to watch another episode.

Okay, so I think that’s it for now. Look at that – I’ve posted every other day since October 10! Not bad! Today the family is heading to Statesville, NC to the hot air balloon festival. Next Saturday we’re going to a BBQ festival in Lexington, NC. Other upcoming events for us include:

  • CG and I participating in The Color Run – one of those 5Ks where they throw paint on you at the end.
  • CG and I going to see “Mythbusters” live.
  • Both kids and I going to see the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour.
  • Both kids and I going to see “Newsies” when it comes into town.
  • So clearly we have a lot going on – hopefully I’ll remember to come on here and post pictures and updates and all sorts of good stuff. Because that’s how KF and MBM keep informed on the Cootie goings-on (they don’t use Facebook).

    Oh, and here are the floors once we moved the furniture back in:

    No more gross carpet!  Lovely bamboo floors!  Yay!

    No more gross carpet! Lovely bamboo floors! Yay!

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    Schoolin’ and Such

    As for the kids, they are doing well. CootieGirl is in middle school this year and while I had a major panic attack at the idea of it being a whole new ballgame, it appears that I had nothing to worry about. She misses having her best friend around (the girl is a year younger), but has adjusted very well. Not only that, but she is doing well academically, too. Many long-time readers know that CootieGirl has struggled with school – specifically her reading abilities. She does not have dyslexia or anything, but learned how to read in kindergarten strictly using sight words, and it ended up removing her ability to learn phonetics. She would see a word that started with “th” and just start guessing. That? Those? This? There? On and on – never sounding out the word phonetically at all. As a result she struggled in her early years of school.

    I’m happy to report that this year she is a solid A/B student – even her Bs hover near A most of the time. She is fortunate that she has teachers who don’t believe on bogging down kids with tons of homework, and so she has become very responsible about completing it on her own without my having to nag her. She has made a few new friends (the middle school combined a few elementary schools so new!people!) and doesn’t dread going to school. It’s a happy change.

    She did recently get into trouble at school and end up having to participate in in-school suspension. I was really surprised when she showed me the slip of paper I had to sign to prove that I knew about it. She was really distressed and after a lengthy conversation (it took me a while to get down to the brass tacks of what actually happened versus what she thought I wanted to hear), I determined this was (hopefully) an anomaly and something that (hopefully) will not happen again. She understands that if she does something like it again she will suffer OUT of school suspension which is a much bigger deal not only at school but at home. I assured her that if she gets out of school suspension she will not leave her room other than for bathroom breaks and meals. No tv, no electronics, no computer, no radio in her room. Just herself and books. That’s it. But I’m reasonably confident this was a one-time only deal, because she’s a good kid. She just didn’t choose to use common sense last week when she got in trouble.

    Sometimes she likes to work on her computer will sitting in Chilly's crate.  I've no idea why.

    Sometimes she likes to work on her computer will sitting in Chilly’s crate. I’ve no idea why.

    As for CootieBoy, he remains in the gift/talented program and is also an A/B student. However, he HATES school. I’ve had to bribe him to not be lazy. I’ve told him that if he can make the A/B honor every quarter of the school year, I’ll let him get an Xbox next summer. That is high reward for him, and so he’s really doing his best to get good grades. He has occasional mishaps – a rare 60% on math classwork – but make up for it when the quiz or test comes along. He is struggling with division this year, but apparently the whole class is because the teacher recently sent an email to all the parents to say she is going to change up how she teaches for the next few weeks and see if things improve for the class.

    He does really well on project work and has gotten As on all of those. He has also recently gotten back into reading. Oh, he still loves playing Minecraft, but I recently challenged him to read a book I picked out for him (The Maze Runner) and he not only read it in less than a week, but he has started reading book 2 in the trilogy. YAY for him picking up a book that does not have cartoon drawings of some kind on every page! I’ve already bought him the next book I want him to read – a Rick Riordan book that I know he’ll enjoy just as much.

    CootieBoy enjoying some froyo while watching people play cornhole.

    CootieBoy enjoying some froyo while watching people play cornhole.

    All in all, they are doing great. They still get in fights (CootieGirl’s hormones enable her to flip on a dime at any time) but when they get along, it’s GREAT.

    Party in CootieBoy's room - from left to right: CB, a stuffed animal that looks like a dog, CootieGirl, Chilly, and Dobby.

    Party in CootieBoy’s room – from left to right: CB, a stuffed animal that looks like a dog, CootieGirl, Chilly, and Dobby.

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    The New Cootie Backyard

    When last I spoke of it, we were fully into the Summer of Landscaping. I’m happy to report that we are almost done completely with that project.

    We ended up NOT doing a screened in patio – we got several quotes and none of them were within the price range we were willing to spend, so we opted just to extend the existing patio slab to go from 14×17 to 22×17. This way we’d have plenty of room for furniture, a firepit, the grill and the smoker.

    I only have a few pictures – but they definitely show the improvement.

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    Not picture are a butterfly bush and two blueberry bushes that have been planted near the shed. I had them in containers originally, but took advantage of the landscapers and had them relocated into the ground. They were due to move up to bigger containers before becoming rootbound. I hope they like their new location and flourish over the next couple of years.

    The new grass is spotty on the slope because watering it causes the seed to go down the hill. We now have a lot of grass now growing under our shed as a result. *rolls eyes* We’ve decided to wait until the spring and put down sod in the patches where the seed just gets washed away. Either way what we have now is an improvement over what we had before.

    This past weekend Denis and I worked a bit more in the yard – we cut back some more branches that were close to the house, mowed the new grass, some other stuff. And once we were done I took the covers off a couple pieces of the lawn furniture where CootieGirl and I sat for a bit chatting and enjoying the cool weather. It was EXACTLY what I hoped for when we began the project.

    Did we come under budget? Nope. And we’ll spend a bit more in November when I have the landscaper come back to plant the 10 Mountain Laurels that will go along the back fence to create a privacy hedge. But it was absolutely worth every single penny spent. Our yard has gone from being a dingy overgrown mess to something that I can absolutely keep up and maintain. And enjoy for years to come.

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    But What About Chilly?

    The last post was about Dobby the Dog. But what about Chilly the Dog? Well, Chilly is still the most awesome dog in the world. He’s also a cranky old man. Much, much older than the rescue group thought.

    When we adopted him they thought he was about five years old. However, we are positive he’s closer to 9-10 years old. His eyes are getting filmy, and he is very slow going up the stairs. At some point a couple months ago he started having problems jumping onto our bed, so we got him a simple set of stairs to walk up. At first he didn’t like the stairs, but now he uses them exclusively. Even getting onto the sofa he’ll sometimes have to make two attempts.

    He has gotten ornery since Dobby entered the house. He’s okay around other dogs, but sometimes Dobby is a bit too exuberant for Chilly’s liking. The result will be that Chilly growls or nips at Dobby when he gets to close, or accidently steps on Chilly in his attempt to get to me. Dobby doesn’t like it when I pet Chilly and so I find that I have to give Chilly lots of love when Dobby is in another room or else Dobby will come and push Chilly out of the way so HE can get pet.

    Chilly has also become more finicky in his eating habits. Before Dobby we fed him regular food in a bowl on the floor. Now he’ll only eat a mix of wet and dry food in a bowl raised up 8″ off the floor. We think because of his age that he finds it hard to reach down all the way to the floor to get food. Either that or he’s being a drama queen about the new dog in the house.

    He’s a complete bed hog and as a result last week we moved the bed steps into CootieBoy’s room (since Chilly tended to nap in there during the day ANYway), and so for the past several days he has slept with CootieBoy in his bed. CB is fine with this decision for the most part, although he has mentioned that Chilly likes to push him to the edge of the bed during the night. *lol* My response, was, “I know, right?!”

    It’s hard to believe we’ve not even had Chilly a year yet. This Christmas will be one year. It’s as though we’ve had him forever. The kids have already said that once Chilly dies they want another dog just like him. I’ve told him that’s going to be impossible because Chilly is truly a one of a kind dog.

    Chilly and Dobby wondering when they are going to get a treat.

    Chilly and Dobby wondering when they are going to get a treat.

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    Long Overdue Update on Dobby the Dog

    July? Seriously? That’s the last time I posted?

    Okay, let’s go. Time to provide updates. Rather than do one huge, long post, I’ll break it down and post individual updates over the next week or so. Surely I can manage that much?

    Let’s start with Dobby the Dog. He is no longer Icey. We changed his name to Dobby when we realized he looks just like Dobby the Elf from “Harry Potter.” Want proof?

    http://www.showbiz411.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/dobby-the-house-elf.jpg Dobby the Dog elf

    Told ya. So now he’s Dobby. Soon after my original post about him in June we realized that he was going to be very high maintenance. His separation anxiety was very disconcerting – he wasn’t a lapdog so much as in need of constant affirmation and physical touch. I couldn’t sit down without him jumping up next to me on the sofa and refusing to take no for an answer, to the point of scratch my face in protest if I stopped petting him. One day we crated him and while we were at work he started chewing his way out of the crate. Literally. A giant hole in the side of the crate. He then had diarrhea for 3-4 days straight and lived in a constant state of panic. I’d let him outside for 20-30 minutes and then within a minute of coming inside he’d be squatting to do his business. It was infuriating. By the fourth day I had had it. I contacted the rescue group and told him that he was not the dog for us, and that he needed someone who worked from home or was a stay-at-home parent who could work on the separation anxiety that was so overwhelming for this poor dog.

    That weekend I drove to the pet store to surrender him. The minute I walked inside I burst into tears. It hadn’t taken me long, but despite all his issues I had already come to really love that dog. I handed him over to a volunteer to watch while I filled out the paperwork to give him back. When I was done I turned around and Dobby was just STARING at me, with these eyes that said, “I’m so sorry – I’ll be better, I promise.” The volunteer said, “This dog has not looked away from you the entire time you were filling out paperwork. Even when people came up to pet him, he wouldn’t look away from you. He has clearly bonded with you, and you,” gesturing at my tear-soaked face, “have clearly bonded to him. Are you SURE you want to surrender him?”

    Needless to say I brought him home. I had to.

    I’m happy to report that since our Possible Surrender Situation he has been a lot better. We instituted some practices that have helped. Rather than crating him, we tether him inside the house. He has a 10-foot steel lead that allows him to move all around the TV room where his bed and toys are. We also keep a bowl of water within leash distance. We make sure nothing is within reach that he can chew on (we learned the hard way when we came home to find our Roku remote chewed up – we had left it on the coffee table thinking it would be fine). For the past 2+ months he has had no accidents during the day and all has been well.

    We also tether him at night because there were a few times he’d sneak downstairs and poop in the dining room. So now (for the most part) we tether him to a 6 foot lead in our bedroom so that he can lay on his bed, get water, or even sleep on the floor next to his bed, should he choose. Occasionally I do not tether him and he stays on his bed most of the night. But until I am 100% confident that he’s housetrained completely, we’ll continue to tether him most nights.

    As for his separation anxiety, it seems that the Possible Surrender Situation made him realize he needed to shape up or ship out. He still prefers to be pet versus not. And he still occasionally tries to paw my face if I don’t pet him. But the behavior has significantly lessened. He’s now content to lay on the sofa next to you once you make it plain that you are done petting him. He doesn’t follow me all around the house (for a while if I even got up from a chair he was standing at attention wondering where “we” were going to go next).

    One troubling incident took place a couple weeks ago – it basically confirmed that he comes from an abused background. Denis was getting his clothes out to get dressed for work on morning and realized he forgot a belt. Dobby was in the bedroom laying on the floor. Denis came back into the room, belt in hand, and Dobby went running from the room in panic. Now, Denis lays out his clothes every morning – nothing new. Never bothered Dobby. But it was when Denis walked into the room with only a belt in his hand that Dobby freaked out. We already knew he was nervous around men in general (it took a long time for Dobby not to cower around Denis all the time), but the fear of the belt sealed it for us. That poor dog has definitely got a rough background.

    He still has some growing up to do – he has tried to nip at a couple people here and there – one of CootieBoy’s friends as he ran by, and a contractor who got too close. But I’m convinced with time he’ll settle down to the point where he doesn’t get nervous around men, or children he doesn’t know who run past him. For now, we put him outside when we know people are coming over, or we tether him to his bed upstairs. I know as he gets older he’ll settle down and calm down.

    But I think he’s a great dog and am happy I stuck with him and the decision to give him a better life than he’s had thus far.

    dobby

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