Friday, December 29, 2006

Home Renovation Project #3

Yes, I know I skipped projects #1 (Small bathroom makeover ) & #2 (kitchen repainting), but I promise I'll post pictures of my beautiful wife's handy work soon.

Having determined that our recent electrical fiasco was not something I had done (see Laural's posts Christmas Traditions ... New and Old & Let There Be Light!, and finding a great deal on a 5+1+1 programmable thermostat (on sale for $39.99 at Canadian Tire) tonight, I decided that it was time to get rid of this beast:

Now I understand, that 30 or so years ago, this thermostat was probably quite technologically advanced. It even had humidistat controls built right in! However, in this day and age of expensive gas, oil, and hydro, it just wasn't up to snuff... Especially considering my new thermostat claims that I can save almost 33% on my energy costs (if I was working in a lab, with a white coat, glasses, and paid to test such things). And so it begins...

The first thing I did was pop off the cover... Actually, let me rephrase that... The first thing I did before messing around with this was to make sure I disconnected the furnace circuit at the fuse panel, after I read something about killing myself and blowing up my house if I wasn't careful... Next I pried off the temperature assembly, being careful to watch it slip out of my hand (mercury filled switch and all) and bounce merrily down the dining room to the glee of Matthew ...

... who had decided to watch and see if daddy would kill himself today. Sorry Matty... Wait for daddy to play with the big tools for that!

Verifying that the switch and it's silvery goodness was still intact, and my family and I would not be getting "Mad Hatters Disease" from my butterfingers, I unscrewed the thermostat from the wall and moved in for a closer look at the wiring. 5 wires, 5 contacts... Good stuff.. Flip to the 5 wire heating/cooling wiring diagram on my new thermostat and I immediately notice, wire colour, and terminal designation seem to have no meaning what so ever in this industry. Great... Off to the web. I was lucky enough to find two good resources here & here, which I learned a lot from (and got lots of nice warnings about dying from to boot).

Super... Armed with my new info, I began to sort the wires out again.. But old homes have LOTS of surprises for anybody who wants to renovate. I turned over the thermostat and counted 7 wires... 7 wires? Only 5 are connected. Ok, I can deal with a few extra wires. They're obviously dead, and of no use.. One big warning from my research kept talking to me... Never assume that a wire colour is correct for the function it should perform. Right, visions of my gas furnace coming to life and blowing out the roof like santa in a hot fire come to mind. Time to head down to the furnace and verify wire colours / terminal designations right from the source. Off come the covers on the furnace, displaying even more warnings, and symbols of death and destruction. At this point in time I'm really beginning to wonder if I truly am as "handy" as I think I am... I went down there looking for a simple wiring diagram, that would tell me what various terminals on the furnace controlled..

What I got was this mess of wires, and the accompanying wiring diagram. Now I did take electronics in high school, and being an Architectural Technologist, I've seen my fair share of mechanical and electrical drawings & diagrams. But those drawings come with legends, and an engineer that you can hound for hours if need be with questions. No problem.. I study the diagram, figure out what terminals go where and what they do. Then I look up on the circuit board, and... 4 wires from the thermostat.. Hmm.. 5 wires on old thermostat, 7 wires in wall, 4 wires to the furnace... and one wire, which must be magic, switches it's colour from black to blue somewhere between the furnace and the thermostat. Ok.. White wire, check.. Red wire, check.. Green wire, check.. Yellow wire, check. Mystery Black/blue wire? well.. turns out it's blue in the ceiling and wall, connected to the black one above the furnace, and then.. goes nowhere.. another dead wire. I write my findings down on a box (only thing handy) and head back up stairs.

Armed with my beautiful box/notepad I affix the new thermostat to the wall, and begin attaching the wires to their proper terminals. Install the batteries and close the cover. Set the time on the thermostat, flip the switch to heat and.... damn it... run downstairs to screw the furnace fuse back into the fuse box. Voila, the heat flows from the furnace. I flip the switch to cool.. I hear the a/c compressor click.. Another job well done.

Now then... The next task..
Post Christmas clean up.. Gah..

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The List

Owning a home you get to do stuff to (we used to own a modern condo, with little to do to it) makes you dream of BIG things. Unfortunately, with those big things, come a multitude of little things to be fixed, wired, renovated, updated, repaired, re-repaired, re-wired, etc.

So I present... THE LIST! (a work in progress)

1. Unpack remaining matthew boxes.
2. Orgainize Matthew bedroom, closet & Dresser
3. Remove doors from matthews closet, store in basement.
4. unpack remaining linen closet/bathroom boxes.
5. organize linen closet
6. hang new blind in master bedroom
7. unpack remaining clothes boxes, and orgaize closet and dresser (mike)
8. move laural dresser to bedroom
9. hang silver/grey shelves in office
10. unpack books & office supplies in office.
11. finish painting kitchen
12. patch wall in bathroom, touch up paint on patch
13. clean bathroom mirror
14. organize workshop, hang tools, etc.
15. sort thru boxes in storage (laural and mike together, in the new year)
16. get remaining boxes & stuff from parents house
17. hang coat rack in hall
18. re-arrange living room to suit tall cabinet
19. unpack breakables and keepsakes, place in china cabinets
20. Mike to run 3 conduits from basement closet under stairs for new phone/data/cable lines to house
21. Mike patch and repair any damage created when running conduit
22. sand & prep green walls to recieve primer & new paint (colour to be determined)
23. Prime green walls & paint (in new year)
24. mike lift all basement ceiling tiles around perimeter of foundation and seal top of foundations with expanding foam.
25. Mike investigate soffit over entrance way for possible lack of insulation (matt's cold bedroom)
26. Mike pull trim off of windows and doors, reseal & insulate as required.
27. Mike seal & insulate as required all duplex boxes in exterior walls.

Sadly, this is just the beginning...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Daddy Dumbass

Ok.. so here's the scene. Befuddled and confused father, 10:00 pm, 24 hour grocery store. Mission: Diapers. Seems simple enough right? Well, I've never been good with numbers. So as you can imagine, keeping in mind that Matthew is in the 2t-3t range, and in pull ups, staring at the vast array of diapering options would certainly confuse anyone.. right? LOL.. so first I scan for price.. Yep, these are on sale, and cheap.. Perfect... Size... Yep, 2t-3t... Pull-ups? You bet.. Great, grab them and head for the checkout...


Arrive home, and realize they're pink... DOH!

Looks like Matty is in pink diapers for at least the next 6 days.. and I qualify for the Daddy Dumbass Award..

Life is great!

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Test

Reading an excellent post over at today, I was struck by something profound:

"It was, and has always been about just two things: acceptance, and sacrifice.

It's so odd, because love makes you accept the things that in normal circumstances, you would not consider, and it also makes you sacrifice the things that you usually wouldn't think of sacrificing.

That's where it becomes a test."

It made me consider just what I would accept and sacrifice for my wife and my son. I have accepted that the last few years have been difficult. I have sacrificed sleep, money, friends, and even the relationship between Laural and I in an attempt to be a (good?) husband and father. I always believed that it was the way it was supposed to be. It's true what they say... Hindsight is always 20/20.

I mentioned in my last post that I have started counseling for depression and stress. A big part of this therapy is keeping a journal of stuff you do in the day. The nice things you do for your wife, your son, other people in your life. The bad things you're feeling, the dark thoughts you can't shake... It all goes down on paper. When I review what's been written, it drives me to write more, to do more for Laural and Matthew, to accept more and to sacrifice more. It allows me to gauge my moods, and see what types of incidents cause me to become depressed or stressed, whether they're caused by me or others, and what I attempted to do to rectify the situation. It is great. It has made me realize where I have communication issues with Laural, and how it can cause me to feel depressed. I can see where my lack of a spine at work causes me to feel more stress. It has made me see that everything I've complained about the world doing to me, is actually me doing it to myself, and that needs to change.

"acceptance, and sacrifice ... This is where it becomes a test" Wow. For me, this is truly where it becomes a test. Where does my depression come from? MY jealousy and mistrust. Where does my stress come from? MY lack of spine. Where does anything in my life I complain about come from? Me. It's all me baby! :) This is the test. Can I turn it around in time? Can I change the very being I've become? Can I let go, accept, sacrifice? Can I do better for Laural? Matthew? Myself?

I won't allow myself to have the choice. I can change.

As I said in my first post, music is a big part of my life. I've never really listened to the lyrics of Evanescence, although I do love the music. Today though, I was listening to 'My Immortal', and a small part of the song screamed out at me. I've included it below.

I'd love to walk away
and pull myself out of the rain
But I can't leave without you
I'd love to live without
the constant fear and endless doubt
But I can't live without you

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me

Friday, July 21, 2006

Welcome Home Mommy

Well.. Friday has come and gone, and my one week experiment in single parenting has come to an end. Laural is back from Calgary, safe and sound. As a father, this week has been an increadible learning and bonding experiance. This week I have:
  • Cleaned "Dora the Explorer" tomato pasta from our sofa, floor, carpet, chair & walls.
  • Calmed Matty down from two nightmares, one of which apparently contained both cars AND trains.
  • Watched Matty attempt to ride that shiny new Vespa in the parking garage.
  • Discoverd that Matty really (REALLY) enjoys the music of Amy Grant, to which he cannot fall asleep without listening to now. (I think Mommy had a part in this, playing this same tape at bedtime to Matty when he was younger)
  • Found out what it really feels like to be the most important part of a childs life (temporaraly of course, as Mommy is now home again...)
Overall, I feel that it was a great week. Matthew and I got along great, the house stayed clean, I even unpacked and rearranged the bedroom as a surprise to Laural on her return. I did every single piece of laundry I could find, and even put it away. Crazy I know! But without my domestic goddess by my side, it was either sink or swim. I felt like swimming. ;)

Seeing Laural at the gate after 5 days of absence was emotionally difficult for me. On one hand, I was saddened that my week of 'one on one' time with my son had come to an end. On the other, I had to fight back tears of joy that my beautiful wife and partner would soon be in my arms again. It was great to come home, put on a pot of coffee, eat some popcorn, and get all the awesome details of her trip. Things feel 'right' once more, and I'll finally be able to get a full nights sleep again.

The next few weeks should prove interesting. We'll be moving back to Laurals parents home for the next two weeks, as Matthews daycare is closed for summer break. I begin councelling for stress and depression. Of course, on top of that is everything else.. Crazy.. Just plain crazy...

Monday, July 17, 2006


So Laural is off to Calgary for a whole week on business. I have to say that it's a little lonely at home. Laural hasn't been away on a business trip in over 2 years. Matthew of course keeps asking "Where's Mommy?", "Mommy on airplane?", and I try to explain as best I can that she is coming home in a few days. Not that he understands that though. It is amazing how quickly your heart sinks when you realize that your partner is not at home, and not even a quick phonecall away. After Matthew goes to sleep, one wonders what there is to do? Watching television isn't any fun when you have all the channel changing power. Cleaning helps, and I think I will go about rearranging and perhaps unpacking some more of the house that we never got around to doing. Sleeping is difficult. It's not that you don't sleep, but there is the nagging sense that something isn't right. Even when you're asleep, you know your partner isn't there. I can only hope that without my snoring, she's getting a better nights sleep than I! :)

Friday, July 14, 2006


Finally back from our week long vacation in Vermont. After driving back to Toronto thru the night (thanks to my wife who has proven she has much more night driving stamina than I), and about ready to crash, I wanted to make sure that I got a few Matty/Daddy photos up.
Looking at the dairy cattle at the Ben & Jerry's factory.

Going through our collection of photo's from the last few years, I was shocked at how few photo's there were of my son and I.

Riding the train in Burlington Vt. What a character!

I was glad to see that we got a few great shots on this vacation. Enjoy!

Matty and daddy taking a silly photo op at
the Cabot Creamery outside of Stowe, Vt.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My top 10 current playlist.... Scary I know!

The music I choose to listen to is a metaphor of my life. My thoughts, my moods, and the things I can't ever seem to put into words. The songs I choose to listen to are not always good, or current, or even sound like anything someone would assume I listen to. However, the music I choose to listen to are selected not based on current trends, what sounds 'good' or any of that stuff. It's based solely on the lyrics, and the messages contained within the song. If you were to ask me about any point in my life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the highs and the lows, there is a song attached to that time in my life, or that specific event. Each month I will try to pick the ten songs that I seem to be listening to the most at that point in time. It will be pretty easy for most anyone who knows a few of the picks to get a general idea of the moods I'm feeling at that point in time. Without further adieu: My current top 10 playlist.

1. Johhny Cash - Hurt (hats off to NIN)
2. Matchbox Twenty - If You're Gone
3. The Eagles - Lyin' Eyes
4. Blue Star - Sweet Dreams (nod to the Eurythmics)
5. Sheryl Crow - I Believe
6. Pink Floyd - High Hopes (yes, there will always be a Floyd song)
7. Nova Space - Run to You (oh dear god, not a Bryan Adams remix)
8. Leonard Cohen - So Long Marianne
9. Blue Rodeo - Lost Together
10. Sarah Maclachlan - I Love You