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Sunday, October 30, 2016

We gave our house an enema...

Ever since we moved in I've been suffering from allergies. I assumed it was just the exposure to the woods and all the pollen, mold spores, etc that come with non-city life. But as Fall has progressed into cooler weather and we've had the windows closed because of bugs and have had the heat on intermittently, my allergies have worsened, as have Len's and the girls (although mine seem to be the worst as I'm home the most). With that in mind, I started researching air duct cleaning knowing that we had the entire first floor sanded and there could be a lot of residual dust coming back through the vents and who knows how much cat hair there could be from Bella?

Well. The dust was not nearly as bad as the rest of the stuff lurking in our vents. Try old pieces of flooring (wood and tile), concrete, cigarette butts and dog hair. The previous owners had a large black dog and from the looks of it, he left most of his fur coat behind.

According to the duct cleaners, it looked like at some time in the past the ducts had been cleaned since there was one opening in the ductwork. However, with only one opening in only one line, it certainly was not done correctly. These guys were here for 4 1/2 hours and they opened several parts of both lines, each time dumping all kinds of stuff out through the holes they had made before they could put the blower in to blow it all out.

The metal-work is what they cut out of the ductwork. All the rest of the stuff is what fell out, including lots of cigarette butts.
Tile, wood, tape.
You can actually hear, above the noise of the vacuum, the sound of large objects being sucked into the tube.
Air duct cleaning from Lisa on Vimeo.

And lots of dog hair...this was a shot inside the ductwork.
Lots of dust and cobwebs.
Before, with massive amounts of dog hair and dust.
After, nice and clean!
Before, what looks like construction materials and more cigs.
And after, in the same spot.
 This was the contraption outside that was sucking it all away.
Like I said, they were here for 4 1/2 hours, which is 2 hours longer than the time they said it would take but given what they found when they opened up the ducts, they needed extra time to get it all out. They started by cleaning all the air intake vents throughout the house, then moved on to the exhaust vents (and cleaning all the grilles) before moving down into the basement and working on the ducts from there. The whole house seemed to be shaking as all the larger garbage was moving throughout the ducts and out of the house. Poor Bella was not a happy camper--I ended up putting her in our bedroom closet where she promptly crawled under the lowest shelf and curled up for the duration.

As for whether this helps my allergies, we have to wait and see. The weather has taken a turn for the warm and humid so we've turned the heat back off. Still can't open the windows for all the bugs...we have massive amounts of bugs that are in-between the storms/screens and the glass, trapped until they die and form a bug graveyard on the sill. It's totally gross but that's a whole other issue.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Happy Day in Chicago!

Last Friday was a teacher planning day here so I took the girls back into the city for a visit to their old school and dinner in Chinatown with their former teachers.

Before we get to the details though, I have to say that the 6 women in the following photos have my undying gratitude. They have shown my girls what it means to be a strong, educated woman. They are kind, funny, patient, forgiving, and intelligent. They have not only shown my girls what it means to be a woman but also shown my Chinese daughter that she can walk in their footsteps to become a woman from two countries and still be capable, well-adjusted and successful. I love them for loving my girls and showing up for them for 3 years, for meeting them at their level and yet pushing them to achieve more. Thank you Xiang, Qiongwei, YiChu, Yu, San-Nan and Shuang. I am forever in your debt.
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We arrived at school just in time to have lunch in Qiongwei's class. There were a lot of new faces in the preschool set but a few of the older kids were happy to see them.

Yu came in for a hug!
Then then went to San-Nan's classroom to read to the students.

Kate reading:
Kate reading to class from Lisa on Vimeo.

And Lucy reading:
Lucy reading to class from Lisa on Vimeo.

Then it was time for meditation.
We met up with the 1-3 grades at the playground so they could play with the kids they have known since Pre-K1.

Then we headed north to visit my friend Christy and play in the neighborhood park. In a happy chance encounter, we ended up seeing some former Montessori classmates who now attend another school!
For supper, we met all 5 of their former teachers and my former Chinese teacher (who now also teaches at their former school) and her husband in Chinatown for hotpot.
Dinner lasted 3 1/2 hours and the girls were positively radiating with joy at all the attention. They were easily able to talk completely in Chinese the whole night. Fortunately, Yi-Chu, who sat next to me, translated for me!

Vicky (Shuang), Lucy, Xiang and Yu.
Kate, Qiongwei and San-Nan.
Kate, Yi-Chu, me, Vicky and Lucy.



Highly recommend Hot Pot if you've not tried it. One side was spicy and the other was not so everybody could eat what they liked.



The boys were left to themselves for the most part!


Xiang had a bit of fun with the phone apps.

 In face-swap, Xiang and Kate traded faces.

Lucy and San-Nan switched faces as well.
And this is Yi-Chu and Kate face swapping. I found all of them more than a little creepy!

We made it home and got everyone in bed around midnight and can you believe that the girls STILL got up at 7am? They need to learn about the joys of sleeping in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

More home renovation/projects

Life certainly has a different pace now that we are homeowners again (as opposed to living in a new city condo). Len managed to get all of the wood from our downed trees split and stacked with the help of a power tool (what makes a man happier right?!).

Wood splitter from Lisa on Vimeo.

This is just the wood from the ash tree in our back woods.
This is the wood from the cedar, the two pines, the crabapple and the apple tree.
Everyday when I would go get the mail I would find another shingle on the ground. Our mailbox was falling apart piece-by-piece. There were carpenter bees in residence and finally the front fascia fell off so I brought home a new box system and Len got it installed.

Because the weed wacker from the lawn guys had hit it so many times, the entire post snapped when Len pushed it.

Carpenter bees...they'll need to find a new home!

We put a mulch border so the weed wacker and lawn mower can stay away from it. And I love the planter box in back! So much nicer!
Fall is finally here with colder temps and blazing orange and red trees. The maple in our front yard is gorgeous!

Monday, October 24, 2016

New life with old things

I finally finished rehabbing my garage sale finds for the girls' rooms and I couldn't be more pleased. Who doesn't love a good before/after series?

Kate's bookcase before.
And after.
Kate's desk before:

And after:

Lucy's new desk before:


And after:

And here's another sneak peek at what's going on in their rooms...


Next up: hanging pictures, curtains and final organization. It's getting there!

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