hunting and waiting

It started as a chilly morning--at least by Austin Easter weekend standards--but that didn't stop the children from enjoying their second egg hunt of the season on the grounds of Laguna Gloria. We had to skip Scout's soccer game to make the hunt, but we had a good reason. Through some twist of fate (or perhaps a case of mistaken identity because there is another Sarah Wheat in Austin) I was recently elected to the board of Inherit Austin. Don't ask me the organization's mission statement yet--I'm still working on memorizing the FAQs that I received at our first meeting last week--but it has something to do with maintaining the historical integrity of the city. All joking aside, however, I'm excited to be part of this group, and one of its major fundraisers is the annual Easter egg hunt at Laguna Gloria.

Because I just joined, I was exempt from working the event, which meant I was able to enjoy it with my children. It turns out that "enjoying" the egg hunt with these three meant I got to hold everyone's balloon animals and donut holes, while trying to balance my coffee, as they ran wild in search of technicolored plastic eggs. Scout and Tillie were disappointed with their loot, but the bunny-inspired face painting made up for it...sort of [see group photo, below].

When the big event was over, which had kicked into gear at the delightful hour of 8:30am, we found ourselves jacked on candy (at 10:00am!) and no place to go. As we considered whether to crash the neighborhood egg hunt or go to the Capitol grounds for the festival our church puts on every year, I decided we should run by the Home Depot first. Now that we're homeowners again, I find myself at the Home Depot at least three times a week; it just felt like the thing to do on a Saturday morning.

It was a successful trip. Side note: I consider any trip to the Home Depot where all children come out with all limbs in tact a "success." But there was a surprise waiting for us in the parking lot when we returned to the car, and the car wouldn't start. It turned out to be nothing but a dead battery, but it took up the next two hours of our day and nixed our plan to hit as many egg hunts as possible this year (which, admittedly, was a terrible plan when you consider the amount of sugar that would have been ingested on such a mission).

Instead of whining and complaining--like I really wanted to inside--I used the dead battery as a teaching moment for the children. You know, the kind where you tell them sometimes adversity comes up in life, blah, blah, blah...and they just sit there like "Okay, Lady, but can we eat all this candy we just worked so hard to gather at the egg hunt?"


the demo days

Today I handed our contractor a check, and we parted ways. I'm not gonna lie--it was kind of sad saying goodbye. It's such a strange relationship you have with your contractor. For two weeks (in our case) you're on the phone with this guy every day. He's asking you questions like what color grout you want for the tile; you're looking to him for advice; you're also cursing his name behind his back. It's a complicated relationship. His "guys" are in your house every day. They have a key and let themselves in...they know your children and laugh at your husband's elementary Spanish when he tries to crack jokes. And then...poof! It's over, and they've moved on to their next relationship.

I'm not suggesting that I'm pining for the days when there was a dumpster in driveway and ductwork littering our front yard, but I am suggesting that I might come up with a few more "projects" just to check in with my contractor every few months. I told you--it's complicated.


the story of a rat

I'll spare you the visual, but I have a little story that goes something like this...

But first, the backstory. The backstory begins, as they often do, with the stories of our friends and how they purchased their homes in this coveted Austin neighborhood. It seems that everyone has a story about how they "got lucky" purchasing a home from a hoarder or a house where the roof was caving in on itself. Our story is that we "got lucky" by purchasing a rat-infested home (or maybe it's more accurate to say the only home in our price range in this neighborhood was rat-infested). To be clear: we knew there was a rat "problem" when we purchased the home, and "rodent exclusion" was on our list of "things to do" before we inhabited the house. I know I'm using a lot of air quotes here, but bear with me if you want to hear a semi-decent story.

Long story short: the "rat guys" came in; they did their thing; they left us with a sealed-up rat-free home...or did they? It rained (a lot) last week, and apparently rodents--at least the kind that live in your attic and not the sewer--seek shelter in the the rain. Last Friday night I heard the sounds of a "friend" playing around in the kitchen while I was quietly reading on the sofa. We still don't have television, so there was no white noise in the background to drown out the noise of, say, a rat messing around in your kitchen. On Saturday morning I called our local pest control experts (we have them on retainer) to let them know I had seen "evidence" of rodent activity. If you'd like to know, my evidence consisted of droppings and a paper bag that had clearly been chewed through by our unwanted guest. The earliest they--Pest Control--could come to our house was Tuesday because (guess what?) they got backed-up due to the rain (and presumably all the critters seeking shelter inside).

And then it was Saturday night. The girls went to bed as per usual (Catcher was in Houston for spring break) and I was, once again, reading on the sofa alone. I heard the rat in the kitchen; imagined him cooking up a cocktail of paper bags and chia seeds (it turns out he likes those) for himself. I went to bed uneasy yet not terrified because 1) there was a box of Cheerios in the kitchen if he got tired of chia seeds and 2) I've dealt with rodents before--I lived in New York City.

And then it was 1:30 in the morning. I don't know if I woke up because I heard something in my bedroom or I woke up and then I heard something in my bedroom. It turns out that waking up at 1:30 in the morning and discovering a rat beside your bed will kick you into terrified mode pretty quickly. I shined my iPhone flashlight--because I sleep with my phone in the bed when Alex is away--in the direction of the noise that awoke me or I heard when I awoke just in time to see the fat mother (you know what) scurry out of the bedroom into the living room under the piano. I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. When daylight finally broke, to my great relief, I felt as if there was once again a newborn in our home dictating my sleeping patterns--I was tired and frazzled.

Fast forward two days. Alex came home; I told him the story about the asshole rat who came into our room in the middle of the night (I think he half-believed me), and we set a good old-fashioned snap trap with a morsel crouton wrapped in salmon wrapped in brie. The rat took the bait. The trap did not snap.

At this point I abandoned my humanitarian side that feels cruelty toward animals, and I got inside the mind of the rat. I defaulted to a glue trap. My rodent endeavors from my days in NYC had taught me that, when in doubt, go with the glue. There are many negatives to this type of trap, but desperate times call for desperate measures. The end of the story is, of course, we caught the rat. (At least we caught this rat...the jury is still out as to whether or not there are additional rats roaming the grounds.)

The long and short of it is this: I put the (glue) trap in a position where I know it would not fail. The rat had gained confidence over the previous nights and carelessly went for a crouton in a paper bag on the floor that had been surrounded by glue traps. I heard the thrashing of the rat body on the glue trap (too graphic?) in the morning around 5:45 and knew we had caught the sucker. Because Alex missed the rat-by-the-bed incident, I elected him disposer of the rat that had its face and half its body affixed to the trap.

It may not be a humane story, but it's our story about that time we bought a rat-infested home in Hyde Park. Sometimes in life one has to make sacrifices.


sneak peek

My hands are spattered with black paint because last night after having a cocktail (or perhaps it was two) I decided it would be fun to paint the fireplace black. And I didn't stop there. Stay tuned for more...


let me remind myself...

The first photo is to commemorate our moving day. The next two photos are to remind me of what our living/storage situation looked like last week. The last photo is to remind me that the outdated/dirty/yucky bathroom that was here when we bought the place will be long gone from memory as soon as we get the finishing touches (like a toilet!) in this one.

In other renovation news...things are going well. We reconnected with the 21st century via wifi yesterday, and I cooked  a frozen pizza in the oven the other night (the only meal we haven't eaten out since we moved in...there goes all that money I was saving on rent by moving in before renovation was complete). We also have interior doors now; but no knobs yet. I'm told the plumber is coming tomorrow, so as much as I tell myself I like the adventure of walking outside to use the toilet in the casita, I'll be happy when I don't have to round up all the children for a ride on the potty train.