Kirsten Sawyer
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I’m a DIY failure

Please let this blog post serve as an official WARNING. HGTV, DIY and all the other home decorating channels flooding our cable and satellite feeds are setting us up to fail. They are probably a scam thought up by contractors to send people running into their capable arms, willing to pay anything to fix self-inflicted DIY disasters. (For anyone not totally down with the lingo, DIY is Do It Yourself…and it’s a crock of shit.)
Case in point: after way too many hours spent watching these shows where homeowners, with a little guidance from a peppy host and a hottie carpenter, completely renovate their homes while grandma takes the kids to dinner, I decided that with $100 at the hardware store and some good old fashioned hard work, I could transform my kids’ bathroom from a drab, ugly space into something fresh and new. In my mind, it was going to quickly and easily go from being the wart at the end of the hall to a shining beacon of light summoning all to come on down and have a quick pee.
So, just to set the stage – the previous bathroom was a lot of an exceptionally ugly tile that is somewhere between khaki and olive green (which I am stuck with because I know I’m not up to re-tiling). The cabinets were painted a drab off-white. The walls were painted a different, but equally drab shade of cream.
My improvement vision started with a navy and white striped shower curtain. I decided that navy blue cabinets would make the tile into something retro and hip, not just yet another outdated decorating failure from the ’60s. I ran it by Hubby #1.
me: “I’m thinking of painting the cabinets in the kids’ bathroom navy blue.”
Hubby #1: “No. We’ve spent a fortune on the family room.”
Oh, wait…did I forget to mention that we’re about two months and a nausea-inducing amount of money into a total renovation of our family room?
me: “No, no, no…I’m going to do it! I’m done a lot of research and I know exactly what I’m doing.”
Hubby #1 (with the memory of an elephant), “Like the laundry room cupboards at the old house?”
me: “I didn’t know what I was doing then, but I do now.”
Hubby #1, “Fine…but cabinets only.”
I’m on my way! And, let’s be honest, when I send HGTV my before and after pictures, they’re probably going to give me my own show, so this $100 at the hardware store and good old fashioned hard work is a small investment into what is probably the start of a Kirsten Sawyer DIY empire.
Day #1: I’m excited and I wake up early. I get to work meticulously prepping the room with pink painters tape (probably specifically designed for girl suckers like me who think they know what they’re doing). Things start off smoothly, but once the cabinets are primed, the walls look even dingier than before.
I think we all know what that means…the walls need to be painted!
Back to the hardware store!
As soon as I start “cutting in” the top of the first wall I realize what an incredibly bad idea it is to paint the walls. I flash back to our first condo where we spent every cent to buy the place and then had to paint it ourselves. It was pure misery that ended with a shitty looking condo. It was too late though. Sadly, DIY bathroom projects don’t have a much needed Undo command.
Night #1: I have to admit to Hubby #1 that I started painting the walls…and it’s not going well.
Day #2: The “navy” paint for the cupboards is more like a darkish blue than actual navy. It isn’t my vision and it doesn’t match the inspiring shower curtain.
Night #2: I have to admit to Hubby #1 that the cupboards aren’t actually navy. He points out that the walls I thought I was done with actually have pretty poor coverage in a lot of areas.
Day #3: The blue (not navy) cupboards are still quite sticky. How long does it take paint to dry? I decide to remove the painters tape from the tile seam at the top of the cabinet and the entire top of blue paint peels off like the face mask I should have been spending my time doing. I repaint the top of the cabinets.
Night #3: Hubby #1 points out that I have painted half the ceiling in “semi-gloss” paint and half in “eggshell” paint.
Day #4: The cabinets are less sticky. Less sticky enough I decide to put on the fabulous diamond shaped drawer knobs I found that match the diamond shape texture in the ugly tile. The screws that the knobs came with are too short for my cupboards.
Back to the hardware store!
For some reason, three of the replacement screws are slightly longer than the others. Too long for my knobs. I manage to find two washer type objects around the house to make them work. There is one drawer that is still knobless. I am embarrassed to go back to the hardware store, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this.
Day #5: I hang up the inspiring shower curtain that doesn’t match the cabinets but decide that I don’t care. I like the shower curtain! I move the kids’ junk back into the room, but arrange it on a cute white and navy metal tray. Except for the missing knob, I’m pretty happy with the room. And now with the bathroom looking nice, the hallway looks a little dingy.
It turns out DIY projects are a little like childbirth. When you’re in the throes of it, it’s the worst thing ever and between curse words you vow to never be tricked again, but once all is said and done, you’re open to giving it another go. I’ve been through childbirth three times…
I guess that means it’s back to the hardware store!





I’m being honest.

The question I hate more than any other question is: “Are you still writing?” Uugh…really? Wouldn’t you rather ask about my baby weight? menstrual cycles? sex life? Anything else?!? But nope, invariably, I get asked, “So, are you still writing?”
My answer depends on my mood (AKA how honest I feel like being.) Some people get the perky, “I edit the school newsletter!” answer. When I’m being more honest I admit, “The baby’s not a great napper, but I do try to.” Or, the equally honest, “I feel like writing will always be there, but my kids being little and interested in being with me won’t.” And a few, select people get the God’s Honest Truth: “I love writing. I miss writing (although I do edit the school newsletter!). I feel like writing will always be there, but my kids being little and interested in being with me won’t, plus the baby isn’t a great napper…and when the older kids are at school, and the baby is finally sleeping, and the dishes are done, and the laundry is done, and I’ve actually had a shower, and the stupid newsletter has been edited, sometimes I would rather just sit on my ass, put my feet up and watch TV than turn on my computer and use my brain.”
So, there you have it – that’s me being honest.
However, like any mother worth her post-baby weight in goldfish crackers, I can multi-task. So, as I write this, I’m on the couch, feet propped up, TV on. Which I guess makes the answer to the dreaded question, “Are you still writing?” and easy one, “YES!”





I am thinking about divorce

Here is a really sad start to my post. It has been SO long since I’ve posted something, that I actually forgot how to log into my blog! I had to go back through all my old emails and find the link that I emailed myself forever ago in case I ever forgot how to log into my blog. (Thankfully I know myself well enough to have set up for this scenario.) Total tragedy…but what matters is that I’m here now and it’s been TOO long. Babies #1 and #2 are at school, Baby #3 is napping, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season is over and the Bethenny Ever After season doesn’t start until next week. I’m yours (at least for the next few minutes).

Lately, I’ve been thinking about divorce – and more specifically, the division of assets.

DON’T WORRY — Hubby #1 isn’t getting off the hook.

Hubby #1’s College Friend is getting divorced after roughly three years of marriage. When I met his Soon-to-be Ex-wife for the first time, let’s just say it wasn’t the same love at first sight for me that it had been for him. She described herself as a “semi-retired model and actress.” She had that glow that only a person newly in love has as she seriously explained to me that planning her wedding was going to take so much time that wouldn’t have any left to work. Seriously? Then she added that she and College Friend planned to have five babies – as quickly as possible. Seriously?? It could be that we were just at totally different places in our lives – I was cynical and sleep deprived, Baby #2 had just been born and I was dealing with engorgement and diaper blow-outs, and her days were filled with cake tastings and dress fittings. I was pretty sure it was more than that though, so I quickly wrote her off as a total idiot and someone I would never be friends with.

Then something surprising happened – she started to grow on me! Every time we saw College Friend and Soon-to-be Ex-wife I would dread the interactions with the mayor of lala land, and would then end up pleasantly surprised (and a little befuddled) that she was kind of a cool girl. Believe me, I was as schocked as you are, but it’s true. I actually started to really like her. She was totally endearing and fun to be around. So much, in fact, that I decided I would call her up and make brunch plans. Yes, I decided that Soon-to-be Ex-wife and I were going to be friends.

Now, for better or for worse, I tend to plan to do a lot of things, but in reality very little actually gets done. This is evidenced by the fact that I haven’t had a blog post since last year even though I’ve had some really swell ideas that were almost completely written…in my head.

When I learned of their split – at a friend’s party, in a rather miserable, “Hey, where’s Soon-to-be Ex-wife?” “We’re getting divorced,” kind of way – I was stumped. What would happen to my soon-to-be friendship with Soon-to-be Ex-wife? Even though we’d only Facebook chatted a couple times, would that mentally planned brunch ever happen? I mean, we were practically extremely close!! In their split, could College Friend keep Hubby #1 and she could keep me? I had invested a lot in this friendship…in my head.

I asked Hubby #1 about how the division of assets would go. “Assets” meaning ME.

“No!” he said, “You can’t go out to brunch with her.”
“Why not?” I whined. Now that she was off limits, I wanted to be friends with her more desperately than ever before.
“Kirstie…” he said in the patient way he does when he’s waiting for me to figure out what other grown-ups know right off the bat.
“Fine,” I sulked.

I wasn’t about to push the matter since one of our biggest fights in history was when I spread the word in a wildfire like way about one of his friend’s girlfriends sleeping with another of his friends. I learned that messing with Hubby #1’s friends wasn’t worth the effort. So, sadly, I accept that Soon-to-be Ex-wife was not my Future BFF. And, really, it’s too bad because without a husband and five kids to tie her down, we could have had a lot of fun.





I am boring

Every time Hubby #1 walks in to find me watching The Real Housewives, he matter-of-factly says, “You’re getting dumber from watching this.” I always counter with, “No way! I’m getting smarter.”

Okay, so getting smarter is probably a stretch, but I am definitely learning. I’m learning that my life is boring. B-O-R-I-N-G. Nobody ever throws punches, pulls hair or flips tables at my parties. Nobody ever has nervous breakdowns or drunken tirades at my dinners. Nobody ever mean-Tweets about me. Nothing. My life if boring, bland and dull. I get along with my friends and family, and they get along with each other. It’s all just far too mundane.

To remedy this, I suggested to Hubby #1 that we move to Jersey. Clearly, that’s where the action is. Plus, from what I can figure, you can be bankrupt and broke but still live in the lap of luxury, so we wouldn’t have to worry about working. Hubby #1 quickly and without even taking time to consider my idea shot it down. No Jersey for us.

So, maybe spicing my current life up is the answer, but again the problem of actually getting along with the people in my life is an issue. I imagined throwing a party and then stirring up some major shit between people, but I couldn’t really think of any shit to be stirred. Plus, being as non-confrontational as I am would have made this really hard.

Then, when I really started to think about it, I realized that my life used to be exciting. My dad had a Real Housewife worthy temper and I grew up constantly subjected to raging family feuds and furniture flipping, and I didn’t really like it. It was upsetting, unsettling and downright destructive (both to our lives and our stuff). I realized that it might just be the more intelligent decision to continue living in the peace and harmony that makes for a happy, albeit less exciting, life.

So, there you have it Hubby #1 – watching The Real Housewives actually IS making me smarter.





I actually do work

Like so many moms, yesterday marked the official end of my summer. Even though the temperature was still over 100 degrees, Baby #1 and Baby #2 returned to school – first grade and second year of nursery school respectively. The day was bittersweet for me. On one hand – HOORAY! They’re out of my house…a much deserved break from the mess-making, arguing, and constant complaining that filled our summer. On the other hand – BOO HOO! They’re out of my house…no more schedule-free days spent on the slip n slide, saying up late, and just hanging out. The day also marked the official end of my self imposed, and practically Canadian maternity leave. Yes, with two kids at school at the same time and a third who is (thankfully) a good napper, it was time to get back to work.

So, I sat down in front of my computer and wrote a blog post comparing my maternity leave to Megyn Kelly’s with an odd tangent about my grammatical pet peeves, and some elementary school worthy gibberish about how I’d spent my summer vacation which included the words poopy and diaper. I read it over, preparing to post it and I realized something – IT SUCKED. It was embarrassingly bad. There was no way I could let anyone else read it.

I was super dejected. Had I lost my ability to write? Was my sleep deprivation so extreme that I could no longer follow a thought? With each child had I become dumber and Baby #3’s birth had pushed me over the edge? Possibly. My dejection didn’t improve later in the evening when Baby #1 asked where a friend’s mom was at pick up. I explained that his mom worked and his dad stayed home with him. I then overheard my children having a conversation about working parents. They were both in agreement that their dad works. Then Baby #2 said, “Mommy doesn’t work.” It hit me hard. Was he right? Was my career officially and completely over? Then, Baby #1 – shining, sparkling, beacon-of-hope Baby #1 said, “Mommy actually does work. She’s a writer.” AAAAAH!!! The clouds parted, sunshine streamed in and for a moment my world glowed.

With the renewed confidence that only a six year old can provide, I dropped everyone off this morning, came home and sat down in front of my computer again. This blog post might not be my most inspired, but at least I don’t vent my frustrations over misused quotes and apostrophes. Like the kids going back to school, I’m a combination of excitement and anxiety as I put the racket that was my maternity leave behind me and get back to writing because I actually do work.