Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Bat in our Belfrey and other Creatures

And, by belfrey, I mean master bedroom.  While my Mamatu and my niece were visiting, I received a text around 11:30pm (long after we had all gone to bed) from my mother-in- law asking me to send Carl to their room because there was something flying around in there and it sounded big!

Carl and I got up and went to their room, turned on the light and found this little guy:

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Now, I think bats are the most adorable rodents of them all, but even so, I don’t particularly want them flying in my bedroom at night.  Fortunately for all, this little guy was quietly and easily moved outside with the help of an Amazon gift bag and we were all able to go back to sleep without any more excitement.  Our adventures with the local wildlife continue!!!

We also (finally!) trapped this little guy who cleverly ate three spoonfuls of peanut butter from two different live traps without getting caught.  He has been safely relocated many miles from the Manor and will hopefully live a happy and full life not in our attic.  : )

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We’ll keep trapping and moving, but the fact remains that until the house is properly sealed, we will likely continue to running into critters here and there as we go about bringing Mac n’ Cheese Manor back to life.  My favorite part of the bat incident was the picture my talented niece drew the next morning on our whiteboard.  Gram is the one hiding under the covers, my niece is the one sitting up with the blanket over her head and Carl and I are under the bat.  LOL!

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Getting a Life: Five Months In

I always tell myself and Carl that I’m going to get so much done when my sweet Sunshine goes down for her morning nap.  Then, when it actually happens, I find myself at the kitchen table in front of my laptop with my thoughts and the last of the coffee instead.   So here I am. : )

Today is going to be a lovely day.  First on the docket (after quiet cup of morning coffee and writing) is Brew Barn Yoga at Stone Cow!  Living one mile from a local brewery/farm market is turning out to be even more awesome than we already knew it would be.  Next up, we’re going to New Hampshire (less than an hour drive) to pick up an old, wooden high chair we plan to buy.  As long as it’s sturdy enough for my Sunshine to use, it’ll be ours for a fraction of the price of a new one.  Also, it’s legs and tray can be adjusted into a desk and chair.  How cool is that???  Lastly, dishwasher and microwave installation.  Tomorrow will be soon enough to get back to painting and replacing ruined dry wall.

What has me smiling this morning is the realization that I’m finally beginning to get a life.  It may have taken five months, but I admit, I didn’t try very hard while we were living in Shrewsbury because I knew it wasn’t going to last.  Now that we’re where we’re going to be, it’s coming together in the most wonderful way.

Our neighbors are the best!  Two of them grew up in Mac n’ Cheese Manor (it was white then with pretty blue shutters that are in the barn and we’re hoping to put back up someday).  They have helped us with absolutely everything: getting us names and numbers of vets, making recommendations on where to go for the best oil prices and reliable car repair, mowed our lawn, invited us to their homes to meet their families, and stopped by occasionally just to make sure we’re doing okay and don’t need anything.

Other neighbors brought us homemade bread and peach honey, still others brought eggs from their farm, and one gal just pulled over when she saw me and my Sunshine in the yard to tell me she lived up the road and heard I had horses.   Apparently, she has horses, too and a daughter who works at the Co-op who can help me get them settled when they arrive.

Then, of course, there’s the farm/brewery a mile up the road where everyone we’ve met is awesome (including Henny the pig), the beer is delicious, and I’ve met a gal with a little girl not much older than ours who knits and drinks wine with friends.  It is so frightening to leave everyone and everything you know, trekking thousands of miles away to start a new life.  I’ve never felt so alone and cut loose as I felt sitting in that apartment while Carl was at work every day.  Then we moved out to this tiny town and I feel like I blinked and the most beautiful life was dropped in my lap by the kindest strangers who already don’t feel like strangers anymore.  My gratitude for these warm and wonderful people is overflowing.

So, there you have it, I’m finally getting a life, and not just any life, but a good one!  Now I’ve got to sign off so I can go live it.  Happy Saturday!  : )

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Angels

There are many types of angels: guardian angels, messenger angels, archangels . . . and angels who swoop in from Oregon to rescue tired mamas from piles of dishes and laundry, watch over sweet babies while their parents have a few hours alone together for the first time in months, and smite ancient, peeling vinyl from bathrooms as well as molding dry wall from laundry rooms.  I call that angel my Mamatu (AKA Carl’s mom).  : )

For the past week, my Mamatu and my niece have been staying with us for a visit.  I was embarrassed before they arrived because our house is so far from being even remotely guest-worthy and with all the appliance/electrical craziness, I had no dishwasher or working dryer until this past Monday.  And even doing what dishes I could during baby nap-times and hanging clothes on the line to dry, I simply could not get ahead.  On the first day of her visit, she just got up, went into the kitchen and cleaned it.  Completely.  Dishes and all.  Over the next few days she breezed through the laundry, removed the nasty vinyl from the master bath, cut the molding drywall out of the laundry room, sanded and caulked the walls, and continued to do the dishes every day of her visit.

It certainly cannot be considered a vacation!!!!!!  But I am eternally grateful for the desperately needed help.  Now that the basics are caught up, I’ve already done the few dishes in the sink this morning and done meal prep for dinner tonight and the baby has only been sleeping for thirty minutes!  She gave me just the boost I needed to (mostly ; ) stay on top of things.  Along with that, she delighted and entertained her granddaughters every day with walks and silly fun, allowing Carl and I a much-needed date and freeing me up to reorganize our bathroom and clothes, removing the things we aren’t using so that we only have a few boxes to contend with each day instead of the fifteen or so we had been living out of for the past month.

In summary, God bless and keep my amazing Mamatu, who came and vanquished the worst of the chaos.

We all love you so very much and promise that the next visit will be more play and less work!  And thank you for the beautiful angel you made for us, every time I look at her, I think of how gracious you are and how much you’ve done to help us kick start a good, new life.  : )
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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: No Rest for the Weary

It’s 10:30ish pm, the baby is fast asleep and Carl is outside cutting the lock off the barn because (after only a week in our possession) we lost ALL (there were five of them, but in our defense, they were all on the same zip tie) of the keys.  Part of me is begging me to go to sleep after a few rough nights in a row, but another part of me (the part who won, obviously) is saying, “Nah, pour some of that lovely beer from De Garde and write!”  : )

We took a break from working on the house today to march for science in Boston and it was awesome!  Thousands of people were gathered on the Boston Common.  It was peaceful, it was respectful, and it was heartening to see so many people out making a statement about what they value.  We bumped into one of Carl’s coworkers which resulted in us joining her crew for beers after the rally, which resulted in Carl and two others making plans for some neat S.T.E.M. projects at a high school where one of them works.  My sweet Sunshine was completely tuckered out after her first subway ride and first march, but had zero meltdowns and didn’t fall asleep until we were back in the car heading home.  All in all, a great experience.  : )

On top of all that goodness, Awkward Girl showed up and made quite an entrance at the restaurant.  That’s right friends, she’s back and coming soon to a blog near you!

Now, I’m literally falling asleep at the keys so I’m going to hit the hay and complete this post in the morning!

Aaaaaand, we’re back!  Having taken a day off yesterday, we are working overdrive today to try and be just a tiny bit organized for our house guests.  Mamatu (my amazing mother-in-law) and our lovely niece are coming this week!  Thankfully, they completely understand our current state of indoor camping/fixing up, so they aren’t exactly expecting a Hilton type experience.  In fact, we’re planning to put them to work!  That said, we do want to have bedrooms clean and ready for everyone and to not be sleeping in our living room anymore by the time they arrive.

To that end, we puttied like mad last week so we could sand and paint the floors this weekend.  In the (very) old days, the wood for the floors on every floor of a home had big spaces in between so when you swept, the dust would fall through to the next floor until it was eventually swept into the basement.  Nowadays, having such conveniences as the modern vacuum, we no longer need large gaps between each board.  In fact, for heating/cooling and cleaning purposes, gaps are bad.  Hence the need for wood filler, lots of wood filler:

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Thankfully, that part is now done and we are prepping to sand and paint today.  Once that’s finished, we have the unenviable task of moving most of our boxes to the upstairs rooms so we can start sleeping in the downstairs bedrooms.  Lots on our plate today, wish us luck and have a great Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: Let’s Play a Game . . .

Carl and I played a neat game this past weekend and I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you!  The game has no rules and there are only two parts.  Part One is called: What is that smell?  And Part Two is called: And where is it coming from?

We decided to play while in the middle of puttying the floors upstairs.  I came down to get something (I honestly have no recollection what it was now.)  and I smelled the most horrendous smell in our downstairs hallway.  My first thought was natural gas which completely freaked me out as my sweet Sunshine was sleeping in the next room.  But when I had Carl come down to give it a whiff, he said he’d smelled it faintly earlier and thought it was wet towels we’d forgotten to wash once we got our washing machine hooked up.

I informed him that the bag of wet towels we brought from the apartment was the first load of wash I had done when we got our washing machine hooked up and his brow crinkled in concern.  If not the towels and not natural gas, what could it be?  We noted it was much stronger at one end of the hall than the other and put part one of the game on hold to focus all of our attention on part two.  After sniffing and wandering for about five minutes, we pinpointed the strongest odor in the master bedroom (which is currently filled to the brim with boxes of our things.

It was at this moment, we both paused, looked at one another, and gave voice to our deepest fear: what if a squirrel died either in the walls or in one of our boxes of things?  The smell was certainly rank enough and that would explain why it had progressively gotten worse on a hot day . . .

Continuing on with our search, I noted how close we were to the half bath off the master bedroom and on a whim went inside.  I won’t say the smell got worse so much as it changed in an odd way that made me curious.  So I went to the toilet, which we have never used, lifted the lid . . .

And there it was.  The bowl was coated in blackish-green slime and there was no water.  The septic had backed up!!!!!! EW. EW. EW. EW!  As luck would have it, I had recently received a recommendation from our good friend Bri on a fantastic bleach/lysol toilet bowl cleaner.  I literally ran to retrieve it from the bathroom we have been using and liberally applied it.  Even though it says you don’t have to scrub, we scrubbed, we let it sit, and then, with a touch of fear in our hearts, we flushed.

It all went down leaving a sparkling clean, white bowl free from wretched odors!  And so ended our game, may we never have to play it again as long as we live.  : )

Even as I type, the guy who is putting in a whole new septic system (the sellers are putting it in because the old one was not up to code) is outside, hard at work!  And not a moment too soon.  : )
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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: C’est la vie!

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

First and foremost on my list of things to tell you today is that I was wrong . . . about the rodents.  We do, in fact, have an unexpected and not particularly welcome house guest.  The good news is that it is not a mouse or rat.  The bad news is that it is a squirrel.  A SQUIRREL!!!  We have a squirrel visiting our attic every night.  I’m not sure why it somehow bothers me less than the idea of a mouse.  Maybe because squirrels are cuter?  I’m not sure, but regardless of the cute factor, the squirrel has to go!  I’m not too keen on killing it, so the plan for now is to simultaneously work on trapping it as well as sealing off the places where it can get in (much easier said than done, this house is HUGE and has many nooks, crannies, and spaces).

Which brings me to my next topic: indoor camping.  When the appliances arrived the day after we moved in, I was super excited!!!  We had our cold stuff in a cooler overnight and I had dishes and laundry to clean!  We knew our stove wouldn’t be here until the eleventh, but figured we’d be fine for a week.

Our first issue was that the outlet where the fridge goes didn’t work.  Then, when Carl got home and tried to install the dishwasher, he saw that one side of the frame was so badly bent you couldn’t open and close it properly.  So no dishwasher.  The fridge I plugged in where the stove will eventually go, so that was fine and while Carl was working on the dishwasher, we discovered that the breaker for the fridge outlet was just off, so that was quickly resolved as well.  We are still waiting for a call back regarding the dishwasher, but in the meantime, we’ve been informed that our stove and microwave will not be delivered until April 30th!!!!!

So we are getting creative.  This morning, for instance, I put frozen blueberries into a ziplock bag and set them on the radiator in the entryway.  Within about five minutes they were not only thawed out, they were warmed up and ready for our yogurt!  We also rummaged around and found our rice cooker and hot plate.  With all that and the crock pot, which we have yet to locate but I’m confident we will soon, we’ll be fine until the end of the month.

On to number three, this morning, I woke up and picked up my 8 month old daughter only to find a TICK behind her ear!  Now, to be fair, I knew we were moving into tick country and we did a lot of homework before moving into the house on how to handle the tick situation.  Lyme’s Disease is big here and can happen in both people and dogs.

Turns out, according to our pediatrician, the tick has to be embedded for 24-36 hours before you are likely to get Lyme’s.  We also found that there is a method for most safely removing ticks where you use tweezers, place them as close to the head/mouth of the tick as possible and pull slowly/gently/steadily so as to remove the entire thing and not squeeze the contents of the tick’s belly into whoever you are removing the tick from.  I know, it’s gross, but worked beautifully this morning and I was able to easily remove the entire thing in one go.

I check her at least twice a day for ticks, so I wasn’t entirely shocked, but it was still so incredibly horrifying to see it on her!!!  Generally, I am not a vengeful person and I was raised to understand that nature is nature, but the mama in me wanted to hunt down this tick’s family, destroy them all, and litter their bodies outside our door as a warning to all the other ticks to leave my baby alone . . . just kidding . . . mostly.  Instead of that, I squished it in a wad of toilet paper and flushed it down the toilet.  Then I washed her ear with soap and water and put a bit of antibiotic ointment on it.

Through all of this, my husband and I have had a hundred laughs, several “what are we going to dos,” and at least five complete overhauls of our original plans.  Such is life and I have zero regrets.  This place is amazing and I love that when we see something we don’t like we can change it because it’s ours and we can do whatever we want.  I love hearing the coyotes sing us to sleep and watching twenty or so wild turkeys mill around our yard (hopefully eating a lot of ticks!).  I love that our yard alone is six acres!  I love how happy my dogs are running around outside off leash.  I love the view from any window in our home and it has so many windows!  Our adventure continues, so hang onto your hats everyone, it’s clearly going to be quite a ride!  : )

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Mac n’ Cheese Manor: Adulting is Hard and Saying Goodbye to our Apartment

When we woke up at 7am this morning, this was our to do list:

  1. Pack the kitchen
  2. Clean the empty apartment
  3. Close on the house
  4. Meet Charter person for internet at 1pm
  5. Meet appliances delivery people at unknown time
  6. Meet MassSave in home assessment person at 3:30 or 4pm

By 10am, when we had completed zero tasks, we made a few calls and edited our to do list to the following:

  1. Pack the kitchen
  2. Clean the empty apartment
  3. Close on the house

Adulting is hard and clearly, we initially signed up for more of it than we are adult enough to do.  The good news is that when you’re an adult, you can sometimes decide when and how much adulting you will do in a given day.

Right now, Carl has gone to collect the final piece of info and meet the others for signing/closing so we can give them all our money and officially move into our beloved, yellow home.  I am supposed to be cleaning and packing the last bits in our apartment, and I have been, but the baby fell asleep in her swing and I decided to take just a few minutes to sit down, drink a beer, and tell you all a little bit about our hole in the ground before we leave it for good this evening.

When we found this apartment, my sweet Sunshine was just under two months old, we’d been living in hotels for nearly three weeks, and had looked at more apartments than I care to count.  Some were in terrifying parts of unfamiliar cities, some were in skyscrapers, most were too expensive and ALL prohibited any pets the size and breeds of my dogs.  I was completely disheartened.  My older dog, Why?lee was fifteen at the time and I have never left him behind in my life except for the one month we spent apart when I went to work at camp with Carl in the summer of 2005.  It was impossible for me to imagine leaving him or our eleven year old dog, Orion behind, and yet, things were looking grim.

Then, one sunny September day, I had a list of three apartments to visit.  The first was in a  skyscraper in the middle of Worcester and didn’t take dogs over 50lbs, the second was twice what we could afford, and the third was so perfect when I pulled in, I sat in the car for five minutes preparing myself to find out it wouldn’t work without crying.  I was tired of looking, tired of living out of a suitcase, and tired of eating out all the time. Although I was returning to Idaho in a couple of weeks, I wanted to know Carl was squared away and that when we finally moved in December, our dogs could come, too.

The first thing I noticed was the coffee shop right at the entrance to the complex, I just knew it was a good omen.  Then I noticed there were tons of children playing out in front of the older, brick buildings.  A family place.  Yes.  Then I toured a ground floor apartment with the manager.  There was one available, in our price range, that happened to be right next to the laundry room, and as close as you could get to the shared dog run.  Next to the dog run was a bike rack and about twenty bikes, none of which were locked up.  It was even more than I had ever hoped to find.

Then the apartment manager asked what kind of dogs we have and my heart sank.  Here we go, I thought, bracing myself for the word, “No.”  But when I said we had two, large dogs–a Shepard mix and a pit bull mix, he just smiled and said, “Cool.”

A week later, we moved in and for seven months this little place was home.  A safe, happy haven for my daughter and the many other children living here and a rare apartment complex willing to not notice what kind of dogs I have, making it possible for us to all be together while we searched for our permanent home.  So while I’m beyond ready to move into our house and I won’t miss apartment living, my heart is warm and full of gratitude for this place.

Onward!  : )

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(Photo taken our first night in the apartment, Sept 2016.)

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: Rodent Remnants Be Gone!

Hello friends!

It’s been a wild week in the life and times of Mac n’ Cheese Manor and it’s not quite over yet.  First, I must give credit where credit is due to my best friend since the fourth grade and her amazing husband.  Not only did they trek across the country to visit us for a week (and folks, they had warmer options for a getaway), but they helped us empty the second half of our storage unit into the manor!  Which leaves us with only our apartment to clean up and clear out.  I doubt anyone dreams of emptying storage units on their vacation, but we are eternally grateful because they easily saved us two days in this process with all their help!

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Now, we must finish handling our rodent infestation problem so we can fully move into our crazy, old house.  To be clear, there are no “current residents” that we can discern of the rodent variety.  It appears that they came and went some time ago.  That said, rodent feces is bad news and can make people very sick so we are handling this thoroughly and with care by bleaching the $%&* out of all the floors, closets, and shelving and then painting over the sub flooring with Kilz.

Things to know about Kilz: if you read the reviews of this product online you will cry laugh, it likely gets it’s name from the fact that it smells like it’s killing you slowly (which is why Carl will wear a respirator mask, gloves, and safety goggles and Miss Baby is not allowed in the house until it is not only cured but painted over with an acrylic primer to seal in the stench), it seals off odors, stains, smells, and whatever is on/in the old floor that you don’t want to touch ever.  It’s cool stuff!

Yesterday, we finished bleaching, pulled up all the carpet, and busted up/removed the old tack strip.  Today, the dream is to finish moving in, get the Kilz and acryilic primer/sealer down, and clean the apartment top to bottom.  We are loading up the trailer together, then dividing to conquer our remaining tasks (and to keep my Sunshine away from all the bad smells!).  We have taken before photos, but decided not to post any until we have the afters to post with them.  So in lieu of complete pictures of the progress made so far,  here are a couple teasers.  (*Note: No babies were exposed to dangerous bleach vapors, old carpet dust particles, or any other harmful substances in the making of this blog post.)

Happy Sunday, I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  : )

 

 

 

 

 

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: A few quick updates!

We have scheduled our electrical updates!!!  Once the work is complete, we will have a standard, 200 amp breaker box for the house (replacing our current 60 amp fuse box that is wired to a 100 amp breaker box in a most concerning way), a standard 100 amp breaker box for the barn, and they are adding a hook-up in the kitchen for our stove.

Speaking of the stove, we bought appliances on Sunday!!!  All but the stove will be delivered before we move and thankfully that includes a microwave so we can have freezer meals until the stove arrives about a week later.

We also bought living room furniture online which is slightly terrifying, but it had great reviews, was on sale, and ships for free so it was tough to pass up.  The part that amazes me the most is that Carl and I actually agreed on how much we love it!  Furniture-wise, that’s a first.  : )

We have a few fencers lined up to give us quotes in April!

Choosing paint is HARD.  But we do have our living room colors picked out and I think that will end up being the first room we complete!  If my sweet seven month old is feeling froggy, we might just run out to shop for curtains today.  : )

New flooring is needed throughout, but we’ve put that particular big ticket repair on the back burner until such time as funds will allow.  Fortunately, Carl’s papa is a licensed expert in flooring so we should be able to save a lot of $$$ laying it down ourselves with his help when we’re ready.  : )

I’ve submitted a request for a free assessment of our home’s energy efficiency.  (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not in any way, shape, or form energy efficient. At all.)  Hopefully, we’ll be able to qualify through Mass Save for some rebates on our appliances, discounts on things like shower nozzles and a dehumidifier for our basement, and maybe even an interest free, long term loan for new windows.  We’ll see!

Whew!  Just typing out this list made me tired!  (Just kidding, my baby slept for about two hours last night, that’s why I’m so tired. :)  We are working as quickly as we can to get things as ready as we can because we’re moving permanently in less than two weeks!  It will be lovely looking out the window and not seeing a parking lot.  As wonderful as this apartment complex has been, it’s still an apartment and this country girl is ready to move on!

 

Mac n’ Cheese Manor: The Beginning

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We started moving in yesterday and suddenly everything felt real.  We live in Massachusetts now, a world away from our Idaho home.  We bought a timeworn, run-down farmhouse on nine of the most beautiful acres I’ve ever seen.  We can finally begin settling into this new life.  And we have a lot of work to do.

At first, we planned to move everything in one day.  Then, we remembered that there’s only two of us and we have a baby.  So we paid for one more month of storage and opted for a three week, three load plan.  Shortly after coming to this conclusion, another Nor’Easter hit and we got two feet of snow, as if nature wanted to confirm we’d made the right decision.

Plotting out our move into the house has been a bit tricky.  With a plethora of repairs and changes that need to be made before we can really unpack, and limited man-power, we’ve opted for a staged process.  To add to that, the last, human occupants of the house left it four years ago and evidence would suggest that it was more recently inhabited by squirrels and mice.  Ew.

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While it is not an insurmountable issue, after doing a bit of homework, we discovered it is one that must be handled with care.  Bleach is our new best friend!  And before putting any of our things in the house, we mixed up some bleach water and scoured the floors, radiators, etc.  For small amounts of poop, a normal bleaching will do.  For larger amounts, such as what we found in the upper level of the barn, a whole different process is required, but we’ll get into that in another post, on another day.  : )

After thoroughly bleaching and de-pooping, Carl unloaded the trailer, sorting boxes by their contents into what will eventually be his study and a guest bedroom.  Tennessee and I hung out in the kitchen, playing and discussing paint colors until her bedtime.  Since we weren’t in the apartment with all her books, I pulled up Robert Service poems on my phone so Sam McGee, Dan McGrew, and I could read her to sleep instead. I love our crumbly, old house and I can’t wait until the day we go out there and just . . . stay.

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