Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fevers, Bees, and $6000 Ducts

So you can't tell from the title, but I'm writing this quite cheerfully. I have half a pizza and two sugar cookies in my belly, a sparkling Christmas tree to my right with all my presents wrapped and underneath, and Christmas carols playing overhead (or "coming at my from every angle," as James keeps complaining)- NOT EVEN a depressing visit from a second HVAC guy to confirm we need about $10,000 of work done to properly heat/cool the main part of our house can bring me down. At least not until I write that check. The holidays are HERE and I LOVE them.

in healthier times

But let's take it back to the earlier part of the week. Landon remained sick through Monday night and Tuesday morning. Claire's fever never went over 100 and on Tuesday morning, after we let her sleep in as late as she could, she started asking why she couldn't go to my work Christmas party that afternoon. After a few minutes of back and forth on that, I decided if she felt good enough to (a) want to go; and (b) argue with me about it, she should be at school! So off she went. We let her sleep in on Wednesday too, just to stave off anything that may be trying to attack from my Landon, but she had great days and has been her cheerful, chatty, occasionally argumentative self. Poor Lanman on the other hand just kept feeling worse. His fever was constantly hovering just under 102, down to 99 with meds, then back to a high 101. His head hurt, his throat hurt, his stomach hurt, he had a bit of a cough. He had to miss his class field trip on Tuesday and was so miserable yesterday he didn't even care anymore that he was miserable. He sat in the TV room alone and in the dark (by choice; it sounds like we were shunning him like a Biblical leper) and when the TV remote fell out of his hand he didn't even pick it back up again. It was the saddest.

Cora remained unaffected, like the immunology science experiment she could be, and between expressing her DEEP concern for Landon's illness, rode into our room on Tuesday morning on the back of a majestic unicorn swinging nunchucks with one hand and her pants over her head with another. I was only have awake, but it was pretty magnificent.

Also on Tuesday I abandoned my sick child to attend a My Favorite Things part with some of my favorite people. I scandalized my children by opening one of my Christmas gifts under the tree, but since my parents just moved my mom asked me to pick out my own Christmas gifts and when you do that, and I just happen to pick out the PERFECT holiday party blouse, and I'm the boss of my Christmas tree, I'm going to wear it early. Along with the necklace I bought from her too. Thanks mom!

I wore it to work the next day too

At the party I discovered everyone but me knows how to sew (I take shirts to the dry cleaner seamstress to sew back on buttons; my skills consist of looking at the button, looking at the shirt, and wishing for magic) and if you take a slice of ham and wrap it around cream cheese and a pickle it tastes amazing, even if you were REALLY sure none of those things went together. I also walked away with new tea, dark chocolate peppermint bark, a handmade neck warmer (sewing!), and a gift certificate to a fabulous embroidery artist that I've already redeemed. And there was prosecco (because I brought it). It was an excellent time.

But Landon was still sick. By last night he seemed to be feeling a little better. Not enough to actually join us at the table for dinner, but enough to ask what we were eating and opt for crackers and peanut butter. He still had a fever, but insisted he would be attending the Spelling Bee this morning. I told him we'd see, but when I went to check on him at 7 this morning he was already up and dressed. A little pale and cheeks a little pink, but temperature holding at 98.9 and DETERMINED to Be at the Bee. So we let him go. And we were there - 10 minutes early even - to cheer him on.

I LOVE the Spelling Bee. It's my favorite day all year. The kids are so earnest. The tension is so thick, but also gentle. All the kids watching are so into it. It's a packed house in the auditorium- every seat filled and kids on the floor and everyone is so quiet and by the end the groans in solidarity when kids would get out are just awesome. For one day at least, good spelling is the COOLEST.

Landon did great! For his first hour back in school since last Friday, he totally held his own, making it through 6 rounds to be one of the last 6 standing. This year the school had 40 kids make a 100 on the qualification test (I think last year it was 28), so that's amazing and a big starting group! He took his time with each word, totally stressing out James and I (Landon didn't look at all stressed, while we were turned into each other like little shrimps, trying not to make any facial expressions), and finally went out on "opinionated" - adding the o after the first i. He knew it when he did it, but we were so proud. Two of his best friends also did awesome, 3rd grade boys were representing - and are already looking forward to next year!

Landon's cheeks were looking a little flushed by the end, so we decided to bring him home and have him rest the rest of the day. I REALLY want him to get better, and you know he's been feeling bad when he readily agrees. He still hasn't popped a temperature above 99 today so I'm hoping he can go back to school tomorrow and, more importantly, attend our friends' big cookie decorating party tomorrow night. Priorities. (But really, we've been looking forward to it for weeks! Cookies!)

To add to the excitement of the week- we had an HVAC guy come by post-Bee to diagnose a loud rattling in our main house HVAC unit and tell us what we were sure would be a super cheap fix to the problem that the girls' room and the TV room run about 8 degrees cooler than the rest of the house while Landon's room runs hotter. The good news is he was able to fix the rattling for just his $75 service charge. The bad news is, as expected, the temperature variance issue is due to our extremely messed up patchwork of inefficient uninsulated hard metal duct tubing that runs haywire all over the house. Because roughly 50% of our house is made up of additions and renovations, but the duct work hasn't been updated since the house was built as a little bungalow in 1949, it's a disaster up there. An expensive and inefficient one. Plus the HVAC unit is also quite old, so that's just waiting in the wings to die too (as is the one in our master, which is actually 8 years even older - like my sister, it was born in 1985).

The guy was upfront and honest; he said there was no gain to fixing what's up there now- it's a mess and we should just buy some blankets for the cold rooms and wait until we're ready to replace the system. He did say we could do it in pieces - $3,000 for the duct-work + $3,000 for the indoor furnace/blower unit now (or whenever we're ready to not freeze the girls) and $3,000 later for the outside big box when it dies. It will be a much more quiet, efficient, cheaper system, and it would be awesome to have a house that is one temperature, but UGH. Particularly when we know our unit is going to die any time (another $6,000; at least the duct work in our add-on is fine). Bah humbug. But this is why we contribute monthly to a house renovation account, something we started doing two years before the kitchen and just never stopped (though the current balance was supposed to go to my dream of adding a front porch). And once we do have to fork it over (and I'm always of the mind that if I have to pay it, I'd rather do it earlier so I can start enjoying it sooner), it will be amazing to have one expensive system in the house that is "new and under warranty" instead of "super old and could die any day" like the two water heaters and the other HVAC. So, bright side?

On the actual bright side, I already made our final condo payment and paid for our lift tickets and ski school tuition for the kids, so this news can't take that long-planned trip away from me. The Lag Liv family is going skiing for the first time since Cora was a tiny confused baby who couldn't believe we thought a ski road trip with a newborn was a good idea. (Even though it was; it was an AWESOME idea, we had so much fun on that trip)! Even Cora gets to ski this time and it's going to be amazing. Skications are the best.

WTF you guys

More brightness- food! The week's menu (sugar cookies not listed, but implied):

Monday: Vegetable Beef Barley Soup in the crockpot (from the Betty Crocker Slow Cooker cookbook which is hard to say, but I got it when I got married and it is full of foolproof recipes)
Tuesday: Ravioli Lasagna from Costco because I went to a party
Wednesday: Creamy Chicken Enchilada Chili (love this recipe)
Thursday: Chicken and Broccoli Penne (James is carbo-loading for his big swim meet on Friday and Saturday; I just like carbs)
Friday: Cookie party! We're bringing mini pigs in a blanket which I expect to be my children's dinner; I'm having champagne and cookies.

Off to go test drive my neck warmer because I'm in the TV room with Landon and he has all the blankets (I'm such a giver when one of the kids is sick), and as we all now know, none of the heat pumping out of my heater gets over here. Now that I think about it, we'd save a lot of money if we'd just buy a second TV to put in the main room and then have the girls camp out there at night. We could use their room as giant a cold-storage pantry. Bright side, indeed.


  1. We had our HVAC replaced 2 years ago? Something like that. I don't know everything we did; however, we were able to go from 2 units to one unit, because the newer units are more efficient. So, you may be able to save on that. We now have zones and I think a heat pump. I don't know. However, where our electric bill used to be super high in the summer and highish in the winter. It is now low. Like, really nice low. We had some duct work also and it made a huge, huge difference in at least one room where it had not been installed correctly before. So, the initial cost may be high, but you may get a lot of benefits in other areas. We're in the DFW area. Liz

    1. Thanks Liz! How many square feet is your house? This two units to one unit possibility would be enough to have me calling the HVAC guy and getting started ASAP. I know it'll be an amazing change in the main areas of our house, but knowing we have unit #2 on its last legs in our bedroom makes me hesitant to spend the $6k until we absolutely have to.

  2. Ugh, sorry about the HVAC - I love owning a house but it can be a giant pain sometimes! Congrats to Landon on the spelling bee! That's awesome. :)
    Which fitness monitor are you using right now? I'm thinking of getting one, and I'm looking at the various Fitbits but there are so many other brands (and models of Fitbit!) that I can't decide!

    1. I don't use a fitness monitor- at least not one you wear all the time. I have chest band heartrate monitor I got through Orangetheory (I think the grand is Garmin) since their workouts are all about your heart rate and then I can sync it to my phone and often wear it for my other workouts as well. I like it because it's very accurate for what it measures- heart rate and calories burned- and doesn't give me any other information I then feel a need to keep track of. I really only want to know what I'm doing when I'm working out. But I have lots of friends who love their bracelet monitors that they wear all the time! (Though I agree, there are so many kinds! I'm not sure how you pick.)

  3. We just bought a brand new 3000 square foot home and it has one unit. They use "zones" which allow you to direct the air to the right places depending on the season. It works fabulously and our electric bill is rarely over $100. (We live in the DC/MD area). Soon our bill will be $0 because we just went solar. I'd think you could for sure go to one unit.

    1. Yay! This potential for one unit made my whole weekend. We're having the guy back out this week to discuss possibilities. I don't know that it can work in our house given the layout and multiple add-on situation, but I really really hope so!!

  4. Thought of you when I read this recipe.

    1. YES! I love when recipes make people think of me. And that sangria looks amazing. I love sparkling rose! I'll be making this in the spring for sure.