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And now for the other stuff that’s been keeping us busy lately (besides trying to keep Austin out of trouble) — kitchen planning!

Background first: As I was finishing up my Teach For America years in LA and looking ahead to possible graduate programs, I took the GRE (like the SAT for grad school for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing it). This test has three sections, the usual verbal and math, plus this unusual section that I think they called “Logic.” (I don’t know if the test is still structured like this but it was back in 1998.) So anyway, I took the exam and did fine on verbal (which is my strong suit) and fine enough on math (which is definitely not my strong suit), and then I got an 800 on the logic section.

A perfect score. On a section that I don’t even know how to describe to you. The questions basically involved multiple factors and a set of rules and you had to determine the scenario that would fit the factors and still follow the rules.  Sort of like those mind games you played in elementary school where you had to place the families in the houses on a block but the Browns couldn’t live next to the Greens and the Whites needed to be on a corner and the Grays had to be on the odd side of the street, etc etc and you had to try and try and try to make them all fit in the right spot.  Anyway (long introduction!), I felt pretty darn smart getting that perfect score but also knew that it meant I was best suited to be a parking garage attendant because I could make all the cars fit. Or maybe an air traffic controller.  (Or maybe it just meant I was a conformist and was good at following rules. . . but I don’t think so.)

But what I learned last weekend, after Mark and I went on our second successful trip to the Kraftmaid warehouse, was that it really means I am perfectly suited for designing a kitchen out of a hodgepodge of cabinets of various lengths, widths and heights. After another seven hours and $700, I have arranged these cabinets into our entire 20 by 24 foot kitchen and it all fits perfectly!

We need to order one 18″ wide base roll-out for our trash and recycling and one 24″ wide microwave caibnet and various doors and that is it. Two trips and two thousand dollars have bought us an entire matching kitchen!

We didn’t think we’d be so successful this time, it being our second trip and all.  We thought maybe that first one was something of a fluke since we’ve heard about people who make ten or twelve trips to piece together their kitchen. So we decided to borrow our friend’s flatbed truck instead of wasting money renting another U-Haul.  Let me refresh your memory about this past Saturday though: windy and rainy, as in very windy and very rainy. So, we end up finding almost every thing we need, including another 90-inch tall pantry cabinet that perfectly matches the first one we bought. Let’s just say, as we spent more than an hour rearranging and tying down and covering up and tightening and tightening and tightening our load, that we came to regret not having that U-Haul. Check this out:

 

Ready to roll
Ready to roll (well, not yet ready — there was a lot more securing to do!

The entire way home, as the wind whipped through our tarps and nearly pulled everything apart, I watched intently in the rearview mirror, deeply afraid that some single piece of molding might come loose and slam through the front window of any car foolish enough to be following close behind us. But, as we always seem to do, we made it home safe and sound. And the only piece that was damaged during our crazy journey was the wooden range hood that we had shoved into the backseat. All those cabinets exposed to the brutal elements were fine and we damaged the one thing in the darn backseat. Nice.

Lots of loose ends. First, the current house: Not much movement here.  We’ve had really good turnouts at all our Open Houses and have received lots of positive feedback but no offers. It’s frustrating but we keep reminding ourselves that it only takes one person or one family to make this happen. So we’ll just keep plugging away and hope that that person walks through our door sooner or later (well, sooner rather than later would be nice!).

And the new house: I love it, love it, love it. But this is no small project. Demolition started on Monday and we’re now in the process of framing out the new kitchen.  Tomorrow the GC and I will lay out the entire room, using all the cabinets we bought at the Kraftmaid warehouse and figuring out exactly what else we need to complete it. Then Mark and I will head back to Youngstown on another cabinet-hunting adventure this Saturday. Anything we can’t find on this trip, we’ll order that very day from Home Depot. Work will be done in two months at best, but you know how that goes. I’d love to be in before Christmas. A week ago I was saying Thanksgiving but I’m trying to be realistic here.

I promised to entertain you with before and after pictures but you’ll have to be quite patient for that. So here are some before and during pictures:

My "new" kitchen, circa 1965

My "new" kitchen, circa 1965

 

The window stays . . . and that's about it!

The window stays . . . and that's about it!

 

Another lovely view
Another lovely view
Recognize this?

Recognize this?

What's for dinner, Mom?

What's for dinner, Mom?

And now for the other loose ends: Austin is doing slightly better at school although my departure is still pretty ugly. I was the Parent Helper on Monday for his birthday so that was obviously fine. Yesterday, he screamed like mad and I left feeling totally awful yet again. Today he cried but with a little less fervor (just a little). He still participates in the activities, does his art project and eats his snack and all that, but he’s not interacting much (or at all) with the other kids. I know it will get better but it’s still hard to leave him each day when he’s so miserable.
Braedan, on the other hand, absolutely loves school.  Aside from waking up in the morning, he has no complaints. There are about six different kids he now refers to as his “new best friends” and he adores his teacher. And I have to admit that even with my high expectations for this school, I am floored by how much he is learning. Every single day, he has some new skill or tidbit of knowledge (yesterday he was talking about the cypress tress in Van Gogh’s Starry Night) and it is such an exciting thing to see — actual growth and learning occuring before my very eyes. When I leave his room at night, I can hear him clapping out the syllables in words while he lies in his bed and talks to himself. He’ll be reading in no time and I can’t wait.
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