Obviously "new and improved" Amber isn't the best at keeping her blog up.. will add that to my long list of things to keep working on!
In all seriousness though, things over here haven't been much of a walk in the park lately and I'm feeling more than just a little burned out.
There's something fun about buying a big, old house. You dream of all the possibilities of what you'll have once it's been properly renovated, unpacked, spruced up, decorated... and then you promptly forget about all of the things that will undoubtedly break between now and "then" -- whenever "then" (the moment you say "ah ha! it's finished!" is". So to make a short summary of what's gone wrong lately:
Electricity shorted a few weeks ago, come to find out it's because the water balloon/cumulus in the garage (what are those things even called in English?) has a dead motor according to the plumber, and according to an engineer friend, a dead heater. The choice was pay 150€ for an hour of labor and parts, or try it on my own. Having a look at it, it doesn't seem that hard to replace, so I'm going to give it a go on my own. It's six years old according to the previous owner.
Not even a week later, my dryer stops working. It will turn on, and immediately turn off. I decided to flip it upside down to open it up, but haven't managed to get all the parts disconnected to be able to look in all the tubes. It's not even a year old. We're well on our way into winter and with the laundry of the whole household (four of us) drying on a rack. If I can't get it fixed soon, I'm just going to go out and buy a second one and hope that someday the first can be repaired and sold.
After a few weeks of freezing everybody in the house, I finally caved and turned on the heat. Just in time, too because it's been in the 40's this week and even colder at night. Victor's room and the girls rooms though aren't heating up very well, leading me to think that somewhere along the circuit there's a valve that needs to be turned on, but we can't find it anywhere. Texted the former owners to no avail.. she has no idea what it could be. I've decided that if we can't get hot water flowing in the radiators (but there IS hot water in all of the pipes) then I'll turn off all those radiators and replace them with little electric wall units. Luckily all of the rooms are small.
And the cream of the crop, the cherry on top, is the bathroom saga. Oh boy -- this is really a doozy.
Last weekend I decided it was time to fix the electricity in my bathroom, which is directly under the second floor bathroom that the girls have been using. When my dad was here, he replaced the joint around the tub but told me that for whatever reason that I have since forgotten, I would need to eventually replace the shower. Okay, fine. The girls moved in, started using the upstairs bathroom, and a few weeks later something very strange happened. Granted, lots of strange things have been happening here, but this one took the cake. I came home late one night after an event at work only to find that the rugs in my bathroom were completely drenched -- I could pick them up and wring them out. Everybody swore that nobody had been in my bathroom since I'd been out of town the day before, and nobody had any reason to lie. It was just a mystery.
Putting that out of my mind, I crawled up the ladder and unscrewed the glass covering the would-be lightbulb. No sooner were the screws unscrewed that mucky, brown water rained down over everything in the bathroom. The light fixture was completely full of water. Since then, nobody has used the upstairs bathroom, so the four of us have been using my bathroom with a tiny tub and, obviously, no electricity. That means any showers or baths that happen before 8 am are in the dark, and anything after 5:30 is also in the dark. Given that I'm not home between the hours of 8 and 5:30, it means that everything I do in the bathroom happens in the dark. I've started dismantling the shower upstairs to have a look at what's under it and ultimately replace it. Call be crazy for doing it on my own, but I'm pretty sure I know what the problem is and how to attack it. Either way the shower needed to be replaced.
Other than all of the fiascos in the house, life goes on. Victor is in an "awesome" two-year old phase which is grating on my last nerve -- crying temper tantrums in public followed by sleepless nights and no eating. It's worse now than when he was a tiny baby because at least when he was little, it was involuntary. This is manipulation of the finest form seeing as how his father swears he sleeps all night and eats well when he's at his house. Clearly Victor is playing games with mommy, and my plan of attack for stopping the games is still hazy. Eating isn't such a big deal because he will eventually eat when he is hungry, and sleeping... I'm convinced sleep will come when he is good and ready for it, but in the mean time there has to be something that I can do to improve the situation at least a little bit.
Victor is talking more and more every day. He can say a number of phrases in French which makes my heart hurt, and I just keep trying to reinforce everything in English by repeating everything that I can to him. He understands everything I say and he does a lot of repeating. He can say little sentences and express ideas -- the most obvious being his opinion and displeasure at whatever I've proposed. "Pas Mickey", "Pas McQueen" and "Bad mommy" are some of his favorites. He'll happily push his dinner plate away when he's had enough, or say "Oh no!" when he doesn't like what you are doing. If he wants something he can't have, he'll throw a full-blown temper tantrum.. and I'll let him. There's no way I'm going to reward such horrible behavior and I figure one of these days he'll get it and knock it off. Rewarding good behavior is trickier though, since I'm not entirely sure he understands what the reward is associated with. We are still working on potty training, little by little. I figure the sleep issue is a bit more pressing, so that's what I'm hoping to resolve first.
Work has been slow, which is boring. Last month was "run run run", pretty much non stop. I found myself working at home in the evenings and on the weekends. This month is the exact opposite. I'm not a big fan of up's and down's. That's usually when I grow restless and start looking for side projects. I've currently got quite a few though, no real time or energy there to take on more, but my mind is still wandering. I've got a lot of language projects in the pipeline but they require energy after work that I can't muster knowing how many sleepless toddler nights are ahead of me. And then I tell myself, if I have the time to sit down and learn HTML or PHP, or the elements of good design, then why don't I "have time" to sort, fold and put away all of the clean laundry, for example? Or go through Victor's baby stuff and decide what to sell?
So that's life at the moment. Completely mundane and adventure-free. Tomorrow I'll move to a new desk in the open space, teach lessons in the morning and a few in the afternoon, and hopefully find time to go to the grocery store with Victor tomorrow after work. Wednesday it's off to Paris for me followed by a full day on Thursday and Friday, and before I know it, he'll be back to his dad's and I'll be crying again, upset that I'll be missing another week of my little boy's life despite the fact that he exhausts me more than hiking, more than running, more than swimming... I'm emotionally exhausted from thinking too much and physically exhausted from lack of sleep.
Here's to hoping I'll wake up tomorrow morning and the terrible 2's, along with all the other isses, will magically feel managable.