Christmas? Hello? is this thing on...

Here it is December 21st and I haven't posted one sinlge thing about Christmas yet. WTF? I don't know what's up this year, but I haven't yet gone into my usual overly enthusiastic Christmas mode. The Christmas season started out promising...

The day after Thanksgiving, Daniel and I went to The Christmas Spectacular at the Grand Ole Opry. Indeed it was spectacular and produced a fair amount of Christmas excitement. Then a few days later we were supposed to go to the annual nighttime Nashville Christmas Parade but we totally punked out because it was just too goddamn cold. The Christmas spirit has sort of petered out since that night...

I guess the biggest obstacle that has kept me from a full-contact embrace of Christmas this year is our house. I don't have the time or the energy or the motivation to decorate a house that is still in relative shambles. My grandparents are visiting directly after Christmas and we are still removing wallpaper glue from the walls of the guest bedroom. Blah. Believe it or not, it's actually fairly challenging to work a full time job, renovate a house, and still maintain tidy and organized living conditions wherein the dishes are done, the laundry is folded, the hairballs are non-existent, and the bathrooms are sanitary. Throw Christmas into the mix and forget about it!

We don't have a tree. We don't have stockings. We don't have Christmas cookies. We don't have swags of fragrant greenery or berries or ribbons or anything at all.

We did manage to throw a wreath on the front door a couple of weeks ago. And this past weekend we put up a few strings of lights on our front porch in between our bouts of glue removal. That's it. That's all I got.

It's a little disappointing not to be having a grand first Christmas in our new house this year, but really all I want for Christmas is a clean, wall-paper free, relatively put together and organized house.

If only Santa could spare some elves to help make it happen!


The In-Laws

When you marry a person, you’re not just marrying that person, but their family as well. Isn’t that what they say? I don’t know if I buy that or not, but I do know that in-laws can be problematic to a happy marriage. Trust me.

I now have in-laws. Lots and lots of in-laws. When your husband is the youngest of NINE (can you say Catholic?), the in-laws extend well beyond the horizon. None of them, however, live in Nashville or anywhere in Tennessee so I’ve only met a very small percentage of Daniel’s family. (Although I have heard plenty of stories about the rest of them!)

We spent this past weekend in Louisville Kentucky – the epicenter of the in-laws – to spend a little time with select members of the clan. No trip to Louisville would be complete without a special visit to The Favorite Niece. With eight siblings all older than him, Daniel has nieces and nephews (and even a few great nieces and nephews) in abundance, but only one with whom he shares a kindred relationship. It would be difficult not to like this woman. Smart and sarcastic but genuinely warm, she shares the same dry sense of humor as Daniel. Plus, she’s a hardcore animal advocate, rescuing and rehabilitating animals of all kinds when she’s not making a living as a vet tech, so I love her already. She’s the kind of interesting, independent woman I would be drawn to even if she wasn’t a part of my family.

Then there are The Girls. This may be a misnomer on my part, but I can’t help it because even though “The Girls” are in their 80’s, they’re just so darn adorable I feel compelled to put them in my pockets every time we see them. One half of The Girls duo is Daniel’s mother and the other half is her sister. The sister has been a nun all her life; that fact alone is bordering on precious. And she’s not one of those overly serious, dour nuns. While she would never utter a bad word about anybody, she has an unmistakable twinkle in her eye and a wicked wit to complement her generous spirit.

My mother-in-law (not a nun…for obvious reasons) is the kind of person who would give you the shirt off her back without a second thought and then give you her trousers as well (figuratively of course). And then she’d thrust upon you the most deliciously melting, eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-your-head, Christmas cookies (literally of course). Mother-in-laws get a bad rap, but I definitely lucked out on that front. She’s gracious, completely unpretentious, and playfully returns all ribbing from her horrid children (just kidding…they’re not all horrid).

Plus, The Girls’ mother was Katherine DeFelice, so I’m in.

I also met another sibling (I am now up to 3 out of 8), and a nephew. It’s a little weird to suddenly be a part of such an enormous family. Daniel has already met Every. Single. Member. of my family. No, seriously, he has. Including ALL of my aunts and uncles, grandparents, step parents, even all of my cousins and some of my second cousins.

One of my sisters-in-law and The Favorite Niece predicted if we had decided to have a traditional wedding, it would have been frighteningly similar to My Big Fat Greek Wedding (Strike Greek. Insert Italian.)

I suppose eventually I’ll have met all of my in-laws. I haven’t yet met one I dislike. Surely that’s a good sign.


Leaving On A Jet Plane

Yep, tomorrow at 6:45 am (ugh) I will be boarding a private jet to go to South Carolina for the final punch and state inspection on an ED expansion project.

Ahhh…livin’ the high life…movin’ up in the world…etc, etc.

Okay so I’m only going because the guy who is supposed to be going, can’t. But I’m good with that.

The contracting firm on this particular job has their own corporate jet, which makes travel to and from the job site ever so convenient.

I didn’t really work on this project at all, but the ED expansion I am doing now is for the same client. On this project, however, the hard parts are over. The headaches are done. The stress is gone. There’s just this one final little piece where everyone gets to bask in the glow of a completed job and pat each other on the back.

This is where I step in and enjoy the fruits of others’ labors. I know, it’s terribly unfair, but someone has to do it.

I’ll let you know if they serve mimosas on the flight.


The Bane of My Existence

Is wallpaper.

Especially wallpaper that has been painted and is now starting to show signs of bubbling. It's everywhere. The only room that has NO wallpaper is the living room and that's only because it's wood paneled.

Small mercies gratefully accepted.


This is one of the bedrooms that has old wallpaper painted a depressing shade of muddy brownish/fleshy gray. Nice, eh?


And then there's our dining room which features un-painted wallpaper in a lovely floral pattern glued onto bare, unprimed, 80 year old plaster walls.

Fortunately, Home Depot allows us to rent "the beast", which is the only way we have found to successfully remove all of this old wallpaper. Steam works wonders, and without any harmful chemicals.

Will post AFTERS once the sanding/patching/priming/painting is complete.

So, sometime around June 2010. Optimistically.

And despite appearances, I do actually help with the wallpaper removal...except when I'm taking pictures.


It's Where You Want To Be

I love my neighborhood. Have I mentioned that? Oh yeah...I have.

It just keeps getting better. Check out the new website! Some parts are still under construction, but the Explore section is kinda fun. It gives you a map of the village center and if you hold your mouse over a number, a corresponding description will pop up. The photos on the main page give you a feel for what the neighborhood hub is like.

Read about the neighborhood's history. It's creative urban renewal at its finest.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who loves my neighborhood.