Basement pictures and tonsils

The basement renovation is proceeding well. It’s taking a little longer than I expected, and I hate drywall dust, but I shouldn’t really complain. Of the renovations I’ve had in the past, this is the least amount of dust I’ve had to deal with. But I still hate it. I had to ask the workers to stop sanding because of Michael’s tonsillectomy, so they’ll pick up again after Christmas.

Speaking of Michael’s tonsillectomy, it’s been quite a trial. The operation was on Tuesday, and he still can’t talk much or swallow. It’s very, very painful. I can hear some of David Barker’s jokes already (about Michael not being able to talk). We found an online diary of a fellow who went through one, and it helped us a lot – just knowing that some of the symptoms are normal is good. But now we know to expect a longer recovery time than we originally thought.

And now, back to our originally scheduled blog… here are some pictures of the basement, starting with the before pictures. I think I’ll just keep updating this blog entry and add more as they become available. We’re going to take advantage of the empty basement to have a LAN party between Christmas and New Years. Want to come? Let us know (quickly!)

Before…

The basement
Reid’s cave

Wiring
Ugh!!

Emptying the basement…

Mostly empty desk area

East side

Stairs

Laundry room
Laundry room

Deconstruction

Demolished office area
Just a little dusty!

More demolished area

Recreating a livable space

Insulation in office

Stairs, office and new laundry room wall
Laundry room “cut” in half by adding a wall, so we could add to the office space

Drywall up
Drywall up!

Reid under the duct
Reid now fits under the duct work!

Weird angles
The ducts and stairway create interesting angles

Office with floor
Floor’s in!

Panorama
Panorama view

More to come…

Catching up

Having not posted anything since April (Yikes!), I thought it would be best to provide a catching up post:

Work
I was working at Bell for the last year, but my contract has come to an end. They have a policy of not keeping contractors for more than 1 year. It’s been a great place to work, and I really hope I get a chance to go back some time. My last day was Nov. 23rd, so now I plan to take December off, perhaps longer, because of the stuff below!

Health
Did I ever mention that having ulcerative colitis sucks big time?? I’m hoping to spend some time to try and tackle it. It’s a very weird disease – I think it’s linked to the phases of the moon, combined with months that have an “R” in it, along with a roll of a die. There’s no way for me to peg what makes it gets worse, or what makes it gets better. Often, I hear it’s tied to stress and keeping track of it over the last 9 years, I think it is for me, but not the way you expect. It’s at its worst when I’m relaxed and at my happiest. It’s twice now that it’s gotten worse soon after taking some time off work to relax, and again, a few months before a delightful trip to Italy with my mother. So I’ve decided I need to be very stressed to be healthy. Go figure.

Case in point… last Sunday I took a nasty fall outside my front door, slipping on some ice. My feet flew out from under me and I landed full on my tail bone. It was extremely painful, and a week later, it still hurts quite a bit. But of course, the colitis is better than it has been for months. Another good thing: that fall should have broken a bone and it didn’t. Being on steroids as often as I have, I should be suffering from some bone density loss. But, I seem to be pretty good in that area. I started with a higher than average bone density, and it so happens I eat foods very high in calcium because of the colitis diet I’m on. So I’ll cling to that good news while I hobble around the house.

Hospitals
My dad is off to the hospital for a (non-serious) operation in early December. As my parents age, they have a harder and harder time understanding what’s going on. Particularly in areas of health. I’m hoping to take some extra time to be around for them. And then later in December, Michael is having an operation as well (having his tonsils removed).

Renovations
Well, here we go again. Poor Reid, who is happy if you stick him in a big cardboard box (as long as it’s more than 6’2″ tall), is being uprooted from his home office in the basement while we renovate it. It’s been a thorn in my side for years, and thought this would be perfect timing (except, well, I fell and hurt my back!!). I can’t believe how much stuff we had in the basement. We spent most of November putting everything into the garage, and it’s quite packed. Thank heavens for my burly 17 year old who helped out.

It’s a fairly simple renovation – just drywalling over the horrid stucco, and moving a wall. We’ll also be lifting some ducts so Reid can fit throughout. And they’ll be tearing out the carpet. We’re responsible for getting the floor done. (I’m thinking of doing it myself). And we’re also responsible for painting. (My back HAS to get better now or I’m toast.) I’m anxious to get Reid back into his office, and out of my office where he’ll be temporarily. (I’ve moved myself to a tiny corner of my bedroom for the time being).

Other stuff
I now have TWO teenagers, as Ronnie turned 13 in November. We’re also looking at different schools Ronnie can attend, rather than his home school. We’d love to send him to Delphi (formerly ASE, an alternative school), but it’s so far from home. And Michael will be starting university next year. Michael wants to follow in our footsteps – computer science at University of Toronto. Reid and I accompanied him to the UofT open house in November. We had lots of fun running around the campus. The highlight for me: on a tour of Trinity, they showed us the quad and we told Michael how nicely we set up Tom’s room there. Also, when it came time to show us a residence room, they went to a familiar hall and Reid’s eyes lit up in delight. They opened the door to David Brake’s old room, and Reid ran down the hall showing Michael which were Tom’s, Harald’s and Peter’s rooms. (Am I forgetting someone?) I think Michael would love to go to Trinity, but it’s so hard to get into. I think he really liked University College.

Once I get some time (*snort*), I’ll update with some pictures.

Michael’s 17th Birthday

Today is Michael’s birthday… 17 today. Good lord.

I can still see him in my mind as my little baby. I can see him now. I can’t seem to link the two of them together as the same person. How did he get to be so big, so fast?

Reid and Michael

Reid and Michael

Part LAST of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Western Caribbean Review…

I thought I’d wrap up the review with a list of things I did and didn’t like about the cruise. It might be useful to some, although I’m sure ‘regular’ folk would have a different take on it than nerdy folks like us. [Well, *I’m* not nerdy. It’s just the rest of my family that is! ;-p ]

Things I liked about the cruise

The staff was very friendly. I only had a brief encounter with the reception desk, and they seemed a little less friendly, but that’s probably because they’re harassed all the time. The staff managing the excursion desk were enthusiastic, and tried to be as accommodating as possible. There’s almost a 3 to 1 staff to guest ratio, which is impressive.

The cabins were very comfortable. Even for a bigger guy like Reid, we only felt cramped when all four of us were hanging out in one cabin. The shower was small, but somehow, Reid found that comfortable, too. And the water pressure on the shower was strong, which was nice.

I had heard some bad reviews of the food, but we found it to be quite adequate. Because of my food restrictions, we spent a lot of time at the buffet, which did get a little boring by the end of the week. We were pretty happy with it. Our expectations weren’t too, too high. Reid, Michael and Ronnie had Teppanyaki one night, and they really liked it.

The singing/dancing troupe was fantastic. I hadn’t expected them to be all that good, so perhaps they simply exceeded my expectations. They put on shows every other night, and I didn’t miss a single one. I’m not sure Reid was as impressed, so there you go.

There was lots of entertainment planned… for the most part, it wasn’t the kind of entertainment for us, but they did try really hard by offering lots different things. (After all, there’s no pleasing most in my family unless they put on some ultra-techie entertainment, and where would we get that other than on geek-cruises?) Ronnie really enjoyed the show on hypnosis, and the sushi-making session. I enjoyed the game-shows, and evening shows by the dance troupe. None of us were into the sports stuff, self-improvement lectures, or wild parties (celebrations for St. Patrick’s day, and a ‘New Years Eve’ party). I missed a historical lecture on pirates, unfortunately.

Things I didn’t like about the cruise

I didn’t like the feeling of getting nickeled and dimed to death.

We had to pay for pop (~$2.00 USD per glass!! Isn’t that bar prices??) Only tea, iced tea, coffee and water were free. They claim you can’t bring your own food or drinks on board (I ignored that as far as food went. I never go without some food to such places due to my restrictive diet). They DO x-ray your luggage every time you come back on board at each port (for security reasons), so I’m not sure if you can sneak bottles of drinks back with you. We would have if Reid could find diet coke at the ports, but he could only find coke-light, which he claimed didn’t taste right.

The excursions were very expensive and added up incredibly for a family of four (For example, the cheapest was the 20 minute tender (boat ride) from the ship to/from the Belize island was $39 per person).

There were lots of restaurants on the ship, but many of them required you pay extra per person. For example, the Japanese and Steak restaurant were $20 extra per person. The Italian restaurant was less, $10 or $15 per person. We didn’t think much of it at first, but we did by end of week.

They really pushed buying Evian water on your way off the ship. I refused to pay for it, and tried to fill my own bottles of water, which didn’t fit in any of the water dispensers (sized for glasses). But Reid found a fountain on the jogging deck, so we managed.

There was far too much emphasis on buying jewelry, both on the ship and at the ports. Jeez. Lectures on jewelry, deals on jewelry, tables of jewelry at various locations on the ship, and so on. If I wanted to get deals on jewelry, a cruise would be the last place I would think of going.

A few final words
Whew! Can’t believe how long it took me to get this review together. How on earth do you bloggers out there do it?? I think I left out half of what I had wanted to remember about it. My hat’s off to writers out there. So glad I’m not one!!