2012, A Year in Review

For me, 2012 was a bad year. Between a host of medical issues (brutal chest cough that led to pulled muscles, to appendicitis, to strep throat, a couple nasty colds-cum-killer flus, and a minor outpatient surgery), ridiculous amounts of stress, the ever-present struggle of being a parent to young children, a general malaise, and an unfulfilled burning need to travel, it’s truly a wonder I got out of bed in the morning.

So it wasn’t with any reservation that 2012 walked out of my life on Monday night, yet it still managed to leave me rather depressed. Sadly, 2013 woke me up looking already a lot like 2012, so I’m not sure if I’m able to look at this new year with much hope yet. Instead, I suppose I shall have to try harder to make things work more my way.

This not to say that I “didn’t like” 2012. It’s hard not to like an entire year in one’s life, especially one that brings so many new things to learn and experience. I just wish it hadn’t been so darned painful…
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A long-overdue renovation update

Yeah, the renovations are still going. You’ll know when they’re done — thar’ll be a “we’re done” post, which will include before/after shots. But until then, please understand that we’re poking along pretty slowly at this point, with only little things being done, and most of the remaining “big” stuff (notably painting, furniture placement, and decorating) solely being in our hands.┬áSo yes, this is all for you, Therese…

Some of our work is dependent on when some of the other renovation work is completed (we can’t finish painting until the drywalling is complete), some is dependent on time (when you have two small kids running around, it’s hard to paint), and then there’s this minor illness that’s temporarily sidelined me. Y’know, the usual stuff.

Okay, so where did we leave off?

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Renovation update: no, we’re not done yet

So the fun continues. Still. Things aren’t done, though our kitchen it, at least, mostly functional. (Except for the mechanical dishwasher. The backup dishwasher works fine, mind you it’s hard to type after washing all those dishes.)

The new doors are hung, but without handles it’s a little hard (read: painful) to open closet doors, and we can’t actually close any other doors since … well, there’s no handles. The kitchen cabinets are still missing a couple of doors, which are hopefully going in soon, and some drywall is still needed around the new closet door framing.

But at least we can live in the place…

That’s the key thing, really. Live. It’s not perfect live, yet, since we’re also painting. (And that’s “we” as in Alex and I, not the contractor.) The painting is a bit of a sticky point at the moment, since we’re having issues choosing a paint colour, and matching other colours. We need/want something good, and we’ve got a wall we rather like. Alex has already done the ensuite, and the main bathroom will get its update once all the other painting is done.

Left on the list? Living room, what’s remaining of the kitchen walls (not many), all the baseboards, the new doors, and touch-ups here and there. And then, hopefully, the reno will be done, done, done and live officially continues as it did back when all this mayhem started.

Which would be nice. Because mayhem isn’t remotely as fun as it sounds…

The kitchen reno may yet kill me…

So here we are on Day Whatever-I’ve-Stopped-Counting, and we’re still going. As you may imagine, I’m a tad stressed. Things just seem to … keep not going the way I want them to go. (Notably in the fact that what should take very short periods of time — in my mind — goes undone for days.)

Today just added more salt to the wound, with things that didn’t necessarily go wrong so much as things that went unexpected. I like surprises, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a world of difference between people leaping out from behind a couch, and having your hopes dashed by a change.

It would be nice for this to all be over…

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How to really succeed in (any) business

Recently, if you’ve been following this blog, you know my family has been going through a kitchen renovation. It’s not quite done, but it’s turning out very nicely, and we really, really, really cannot wait for it to be all over and done. It’s not that it’s been particularly frustrating — inconvenient for day-to-day life, maybe — it’s just that it’s extra stress that I really do not want.

The entire process has really reinforced my belief that if you want to succeed in business, you need to do two things well: Communicate, and set expectations. If you do nothing else right, these two will save your ass, not to mention help you get out of the mess you got yourself into.

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Renovating: a word on LED lighting

For our renovation project, one thing we decided to do was take the leap to using LED-only lighting. This is a trend we started a couple of years ago, just as commercial LED bulbs were really coming available. It’s something we strongly believe in, and something I think everyone should consider.

Are they cheap? No. A standard incandescent bulb is easily 10-50x cheaper. A compact fluorescent (CFM) bulb at least 10x cheaper. Halogen (usually) gives off more light. And you’re still a little limited on options in terms of dimming and colours, and so forth.

So why do it? Because you should.

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Kitchen reno, day 22

I’d like to say the end is in sight. I really would. But I’m still struggling with little things that just aren’t getting done. The “finisher” has been MIA for over a week now (I keep expecting Mr. Wolfe to show up at my door), which would help get the cabinets get past the “merely installed” state. The lights are in, but the basement lights are still out for some inexplicable reasons. The wood flooring still isn’t all done. Doors were supposed to be hung Saturday, and only now our contractor’s realised that they’re odd sizes and it’s not that easy…

Yep, it’s a typical renovation, alright!

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Home, half-assembled home

Well, our time out of the house has finally come to pass, and we’re back under a mostly-familiar roof. The roof itself is intact, and save for a taped-over vent hole (no longer in use) — it’s the inside that’s still in disarray.

The renos are still on-going, and while we might be quite a ways further a long than when we moved out three week ago, we’re still a ways from having our house complete, functional, and dust-free.

But at least it’s our house.

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Kitchen reno, day 17

The progress has been slower the last few days, but we’re ramping up to another major push. On Saturday, the ceiling in the kitchen was mudded, and then knocked down on Sunday. The walls were patched, and some plywood laid down in preparation for tiling. In many ways, it felt like we were building up to the climax of a great action film.

Have I mentioned that Alex and I have seen the Bourne Trilogy, like, a hundred times? We know how a good climax should go.

Not that I’m hoping for someone to come crashing through my front door or something (although if Alex has her way, that’s next).

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Kitchen (and living room and bathroom) reno, day 13

Earlier today, I was tired and depressed. Tired from having to live outside of my own home, worn down by the complete breakdown in schedule and regularity, and worry that things aren’t exactly going according to … well, not so much plan as “expectation”. And I’ll freely admit that my expectation is (was, and remains) out-of-whack.

Budget’s the big thing. I know it’s gone WAY past what I expected (see above note), but I also understand and respect that we’ve pushed it that way for a hundred reasons — none of which I disagree with, or don’t look forward to. Just that it’s more weight than I wish to carry. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s something I know I’ll move past before too long.

The other issue is schedule. Now, for the record, I’m in no way suggesting that this reno is moving slowly. Given that it hasn’t even been two weeks yet, this reno’s clocked at a rate that seems almost unimaginable (especially when envisioned from the perspective of doing it myself). Walls removed, floors pulled, wiring ran, plumbing … plumbed, patches made, surfaces smoothed, structure reinforced, and so on and so on and so on. It’s almost inhumanely fast.

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