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Of Braces and Home Improvement

an orthodontic journal

February to March 2002
ę z Ľ Friday, February 1

Well, today was the day: I got my lower braces. The worst part was the bands they put around my lower molars. As I mentioned previously, because those molars have fillings that protrude to the outside of the teeth, they cannot glue brackets to them. So, the teeth must be surrounded by metal bands. One molar on each side of my lower jaw. Boy, do I wish Iíd brushed better and eaten less candy when I was a kid. It took Dr. Vogt a while to find the exact right fit for each molar. At first it was incredibly uncomfortable, but soon I got used to it. Or more accurately, I learned to ignore the weird feeling of pressure. After that, they glued the brackets to the bottom teeth and fit the wire on. Then the little rubber bands. And it was done. It took a little more than an hour, because of the trouble finding the right size of bands for the molars. I was surprised that we needed to put metal braces on the bottom. Because the bottom teeth are so crooked, apparently metal braces will work better than the ceramic ones I have on top. The ceramic ones are rather smooth and donít really pinch me. The metal ones are just murder!

My first meal was downright painful. I kept biting my cheeks and pinching the gum inside my lips. I just couldnít chew! Everything felt weird. Finally I gave up, brushed my teeth, and gobbed on some wax. That made a huge difference. The only thing is: I need to take off the wax before I brush my teeth, and put new wax on afterward. What a royal pain! (If I donít take the wax off before I brush, the toothbrush will dislodge it anyway). Maybe itís only temporary. I sure hope so. Just in case, I bought lots of yogurt, soft cheese, and more saltine crackers. What a way to lose weight!

I decided to re-do my younger daughterís room this weekend. I thought doing that would take my mind off my teeth. I started by pulling the old ďwallpaperĒ off her wall. Let me explain. Itís not wallpaper; itís fabric, from the floor up about 36 inches. I knew there were a few staples. But I never realized. The entire thing was stapled. Not stapled at the corners and then glued. Just stapled. Do I need to tell you what happened when I tried to remove it? You guessed it. The fabric came off the wall, but the staples remained. The room looked like a baseball. It took three hours to pull most of the staples out of the wall (with a plain staple remover). Tomorrow, I suppose Iíll remove the rest and then patch the holes. What was the previous owner of the house thinking when she stapled this stuff to the wall? Iím certainly no Bob Villa or Martha Stewart, and even I know that you never do that!

ę z Ľ Saturday, February 2

What an exhausting day! I started by spackling the holes left from the staples in those walls. Then after the spackle dried, I put down the drop cloth and painted. The room will basically be the same color it was: eggshell. But instead of flat paint, Iím upgrading her to semi-gloss. I think a little shine is cheery. It actually turned out pretty well. I even painted her door. My hands are so sore from pulling out all those staples! I was so happy to crawl into the spa and soak my aches away.

The teeth are bothering me, but Iím trying to ignore it.

ę z Ľ Sunday, February 3

The paint was dry in my daughterís room; so today I did the wallpaper. Not the entire wall, just 36 inches from the floor, topped off with that cute border I got online. It really turned out nice. I canít believe I did it all by myself in one weekend! Iím SO EXHAUSTED!!!

ę z Ľ Tuesday, February 5

My lower teeth are achy, but really it isnít so bad. I find that with each meal Iím adjusting to having these braces on. I tried to floss my teeth today, but it was just too painful on the bottom. I finally got some floss threaders. They look like large plastic sewing needles. You thread the floss through the eye of the needle. The needle helps guide the floss through the braces. It works pretty well, but itís still almost impossible to get those last back teeth. It just takes forever, and you have to be very patient. One thing about all of this: you canít be squeamish about putting your fingers in your mouth. With braces, youíre always in there, picking out stuff, feeling around, shoving your entire hand into your mouth to floss one tooth (well ok, maybe thatís a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure feels that wayÖ)

Eating with the full set of braces is still a touch-and-go affair (is there a pun there someplace?) Sometimes I seem to chew ok. Other times, I seem to keep biting my cheeks. In fact, my cheeks are really beginning to hurt. The wax is the only thing that keeps it bearable.

ę z Ľ Monday, February 11

Things have been going pretty well. This weekend, we all went up to the mountains, so the kids could get ski lessons (they have never skied before). Turns out, my older daughter took right to it. My younger one, unfortunately, didnít have the strength or balance to pull it off. In all, it was a very successful weekend. One kid learned to ski, and she also skied with Hubby (which was totally amazing for him; his dream come true to ski with his daughter), and the other got to play in the snow.

This was the first time I had to deal with my braces and eating out for every meal. Was I glad to have that travel kit, and especially that folding cup! After each meal, I made a beeline for the bathroom to clean my braces. I had to; it was just too uncomfortable NOT to clean my teeth after eating, because so much gets stuck in the braces! I swear, you could fit an entire meal under those brackets. I continue to be amazed at how much gunk gets stuck in them. Meat and little flecks of vegetables are the worst. The meat gets lodged under the brackets. The vegetables lodge between the brackets and wrap around them. You could wash your mouth out 10 times and still have junk stuck in there. Those little wooden picks turned out to be the most useful thing Iíd bought. Without them, I never would have been able to get some of that gunk out of my braces.

Itís totally gross to have to rinse and spit about 10 times before you brush, and still have to pick yucky stuff out of your braces. But Iím getting used to it. After six years of changing my kidsí diapers, this isnít so bad. Truthfully, I figure if this is the price I have to pay for straight teeth, so be it. Iíll get used to it. One thing I really hate is going into a bathroom of questionable sanitation to brush my teeth. I finally figured out that itís best to lay a layer of paper toweling down on the sink.

Eating has become easier. I donít seem to be biting my cheeks so much anymore. Iím not sure why. Either Iím getting used to it, or my teeth have moved slightly.

ę z Ľ Monday, February 25

I havenít written in a while because there hasnít been much to write about on a daily basis. I think that from here out, Iíll make this a weekly journal. On the home improvement front, the lamp store had a huge sale, so I bought two chandeliers, which Hubby and I hung ourselves (one for the kitchen, and one for the dining room). They look so terrific, and I saved so much money with that sale! We also finally got the owners manual for our spa. The desk I bought online finally came and I put it together. Now the room is complete. I found the perfect curtains to match the new kitchen dťcor. I was just browsing at a liquidation store, and there they were. And cheap: only $3.50 a set (I needed two sets). Itís a rather common theme: grapes and flowers, with a burgundy stripe that will match those little burgundy accent tiles in the new backsplash. Not too flowery, not cutesy. Hopefully I will find accessories that match (at least the colors).

ę z Ľ Friday, March 8

It has been a rather uneventful few weeks up until today. Today was the first ďadjustmentĒ for my braces. I wasnít sure what to expect. I was surprised when, in addition to removing those tiny rubber bands, they removed the wires, too. The dental assistant asked if I wanted to brush my teeth. Of course, I had brushed and flossed before I came to the appointment. But I decided to do it again. Next time, I think Iíll bring my Sonicare toothbrush with me, to get a really good cleaning.

Anyway, I was so happy when Dr. Vogt told me that indeed, the top teeth had significantly straightened already. It was hard for me to see this, because the bottom teeth are the most crooked (and easier to view). But when they showed me the photo of my ďbefore bracesĒ teeth, I did see the difference. And the two bottom front teeth are now in line with each other, which wasnít the case last month. Itís so exciting!

When they put the new wire on, it didnít hurt. But those new little rubber bands Ė youch! Especially on the front teeth, jeez, it felt like my teeth were going to come out. The pressure was uncomfortable, but only for a few minutes. The appointment only lasted about 20 minutes, and then I was on my merry way. I felt good enough to go shopping. I browsed at the Bed and Bath store, and unexpectedly found the placemats that almost perfectly match my new kitchen curtain. Even though I really didnít want to spend the money, I bought them. I have shopped enough to know that when you find the right thing, you buy it, because it wonít be there the next time you go looking for it.

ę z Ľ Sunday, March 10

Hubby has been feeling sick, so this is a very laid-back weekend for us. Iíve spent it mostly exercising my back and playing guitar. Iíve been really lax about exercising, and I need to get back to a regular routine, because my back is starting to hurt again.

I had expected my teeth to hurt after the adjustment, but they really donít. Am I missing something? I thought they were supposed to hurt for a week. Truthfully, they donít hurt at all. I donít know whether itís because of the Sonicareís vibrations, or just luck. (Apparently, vibrations help increase blood flow to the teeth, resulting in less pain). In fact, I was considering buying a dental appliance I had seen on HGTV called ďGood Vibrations.Ē Itís basically a vibrating mouthpiece you wear for 10 minutes after an orthodontic adjustment. But if my adjustments wonít hurt very much, maybe I donít need it.

Anyway, hereís the website for Good Vibrations, in case youíre interested. Itís only $20:


Things will be moving along shortly in the kitchen. The countertops will be re-done later this month. I have a call into my new electrician to put in some extra outlets. Iím anxious that everything will happen on time, but excited that the work will finally be done!

ę z Ľ

Thursday, March 14

I came across a nifty website run by the American Dental Association, which has some downloadable videos about dental care. They are called "The Dental Minute". They're relatively informative:


On a completely different and slightly wacky note, check out this website, which apparently produces a video called "How to Kiss," including, of course, how to kiss with braces (and even how to French kiss with braces, ooh la la!)


I don't know about you, but I certainly don't think of my braces as "mouth jewelry," as this website suggests. Whatever.... Today I tried to chew some gum for the first time since getting braces. Of course, it was Freedent gum, the kind that's "not supposed to stick to most dental work." Well, it lives up to its claim, but I don't think I'll be chewing it again soon. For one thing, biting hard enough to soften the gum stick was rather challenging. Then, just chewing it at all wasn't really pleasant. The very act of chewing gum just isn't as carefree and comfortable as it was pre-braces.

I used to chew sugarless gum all the time, mostly to freshen my breath. One more thing to put off for two years. No big deal, really. By the way, I found a really nifty little product for breath freshness. It's called Listerine Pocket Packs. They are little turquoise-colored plastic holders, containing little thin sheets of breath freshener. You put the thin sheet of stuff on your tongue and let it dissolve. It does a really great job. It's a relatively new product, but you can probably find it at your local drug store. It's certainly better than trying to roll a mint around in your mouth.

Anyway, my teeth have been doing just fine. Sometimes they are a bit achy, but it doesn't interfere with my life. I really can't bite anything from the front, unless it is really soft. Biting in the front doesn't exactly hurt. How can I explain the feeling? Somehow, my teeth don't feel secure, and they ache a bit. I know it wouldn't happen, but it feels like they would fall out if I bit into anything hard in the front!

I can bite just about anything from the side, as long as it's not terribly hard. This is how I eat cookies: I break the cookie in half and bite it on the side of my mouth.

Things are moving along on the home improvement front. The countertop people will be here on Tuesday to demolish my old tile and put in my new countertops. Then on Thursday, the electrician will put new outlets on the backsplash. At that point, the countertop people will come back and tile the backsplash of the cooking area. Then the electrician will come back and install the under-cabinet lights. Phew!

I was worried about the timing of everything, because I had ordered some special little decorative tiles, and the countertop people have not been able to get ahold of the woman who makes them. I was worried that she was flaking out, but fortunately, after two weeks, she finally contacted the store and will overnight my sample tile to the store today. Coordinating all of this is a little stressful. I'm glad I don't have any other projects going on.

I have been playing my guitar more lately, which makes me very happy. I had put it aside for a while because of all this home improvement stuff. The calluses on my fingers had begun to disappear! For the heck of it, I was playing a bunch of Paul McCartney songs, including the solo part of "Maybe I'm Amazed." It's such fun to play things you grew up listening to. My barre chords are rusty, so I was playing some Hendrix (The Wind Cries Mary). At this point, you probably think I'm into classic rock. That's not really the case. I like all types of music, particularly punk. For musical inspiration, however, I listen to jazz or blues.

Hubby and I jammed together for the first time in months. We played some blues and then, for fun, did a duet of "These Boots are Made for Walking." That disintegrated into some Ramones. We have a GT-3 guitar effects machine and Jam Station drum/backing machine. That equipment makes everything much more fun. We kept increasing the tempo of the drums and playing Ramones really fast. What was that Cheap Trick song..."Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright, They just seem a little weird...." I guess that describes us.

By the way, have you heard that Tom Cruise has braces? I saw a little photo of him and his metal mouth in People magazine. Way to go, Tom! Hey, is that a toothbrush in his pocket, or....

ę z Ľ

Friday, March 15

If you haven't noticed, I added a bunch of stuff today on the homepage: Photos, a guestbook, and a poll! Go to the home page to click on the links

ę z Ľ Sunday, March 17

The last few days I've been busy preparing for the transformation of my kitchen. A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Bed and Bath store and found the perfect placemats that match the new kitchen valence curtain. I wanted a few more accessories, and Macys was having a big Home Sale, so I went there the other day and hit pay dirt! At 40% off, I got a locking lid canister, a serving tray, and some small plates in exactly the same design as the placemats! Come to find out, it is a design called "Sonoma", and there are lots of accessories in that motif. Check it out:



I really like this design, because it's not cutesy. I don't like cutesy or over-flowery stuff. Anyway, when I got home, I searched Google and found the above websites. At Kitchen Etc I found the spoon rest and kitchen rug I'd been searching for (the local stores didn't have those items). I love shopping on the internet!

I had also sent for samples of knobs for the kitchen cabinets. I wanted something in brushed silver, to match the new lighting fixture, etc. I found the perfect knobs at a website called My Knobs. Did you know you could spend up to $10 on ONE knob for your cabinets? I sure didn't want to spend that much, so I searched until I found something that was nice, but wouldn't break my budget.

Here are the cabinet pulls: ////

and here are the drawer pulls: ////

I also spent time this weekend trying to improve my home page for this site, to no avail. Hubby showed me a few things about FrontPage and I changed the site to look exactly the way I wanted it to look.

It's very frustrating for me, because I'm a technical writer and I know FrameMaker and other graphical software like the back of my hand. FrontPage is not entirely intuitive or (in my opinion) as easy as it should be. It took a while to move things around and make them appear properly.

I did everything Angelfire suggested for uploading FrontPage files, but unfortunately, it didn't work correctly. Several icons are not loading correctly and the page looks screwy. But soon, I hope, I'll be able to change it. I want the Braces Poll and other stuff to appear on the side of the splash page, so you don't need to scroll to the bottom to find them. I'll get it, eventually.... Hubby knows a little more about this stuff than I do, being more of a programmer than I am.

Speaking of Hubby, he is skiing in Salt Lake City this weekend with our oldest. This is their first ski trip together. She is an advanced beginner, and is starting to be able to turn in parallel. So, Hubby gets some time alone with her, and I get some time alone with the little one. Yesterday, she had her first softball game. Afterwards, we had lunch at a retro diner joint. We each had hamburgers and shakes, and listened to oldies on the jukebox. She got a balloon. She was very happy.

When I ordered my burger, I made sure to tell the waitress NOT to put the lettuce, onion, tomato, and pickles in it. I've found that I can manage burgers pretty well, if I cut them in half and bite from the side of my mouth. As long as the burger isn't too thick, it works just fine.

ę z Ľ Monday, March 18

Wow, the response to this site has been much better than I'd ever anticipated! I want to thank everyone who has been visiting!

If you have visited my site recently, you may have gotten the "suspension" notice from Angelfire. Apparently, I have exceeded my allowable bandwidth. Well, you live and learn. Needless to say, I think I'll be looking for another host.

If you have a web host you're happy with, which allows large or unlimited bandwidth, could you please email me? I'd prefer "free," but I'm willing to pay a low cost. There are so many hosts out there, it's difficult to choose a reliable one.

Anyway, sorry about Angelfire shutting me down for a few hours. I thought the 1G of bandwidth they gave me would be more than enough! Hopefully it won't happen too often while I'm still on Angelfire!

ę z Ľ Tuesday, March 19

My countertops have been demolished! I spent a couple of hours yesterday moving everything off my countertops and out of my top drawers to prepare for the work.

Two workman came to my house at 9:15 a.m. They laid special blankets down on my floor (they didn't have to, because I'm replacing it). I covered up my new kitchen chandelier so it wouldn't get dusty. They took out their tools, and I skedaddled out of their way. The entire demolition took six hours. Now, my countertops are merely plywood.

The crew was very neat, and I'm extremely impressed with their work. They cleaned as they went, and even used their own vacuum cleaner to get all the little pieces of debris off the plywood tops and the floor. There is a fine layer of dust in places, but otherwise it's pretty clean. Much better than I'd expected.

Tomorrow morning, my new Zodiaq countertops will be installed! If you've never heard of Zodiaq, it might be because it is relatively new. It is made by Dupont, the same company that makes Corian. Zodiaq is 90% quartz and 10% composite materials. I chose it over granite because it is non-porous, does not need to be sealed, will not stain, is very heat resistant, and is uniform in pattern (no weird swirls, and no schlepping to the quarry yards to pick out "good slabs"). It looks MUCH better in person than it does on their website. It has depth, like granite, and looks very luxurious.

I've been beating up on the sample piece of Zodiaq they gave me: putting hot pots on top of it, putting it near the fire, putting all sorts of oils and liquids on it. No burns, no stains, nothing. I'm impressed with its durability. Hopefully the countertops will live up to the little sample piece. You can check out Zodiaq at this link:


The color I chose was Astral Pearl, because it picks up the light and sparkles a bit. Really pretty. I'm so psyched!

The backsplash in the cooking area won't be done for a couple of weeks, but that's ok. Turns out, it would better for the cabinets to be refaced first. It also allows extra time for those special small accent tiles I'd ordered. I finally got to look at a sample of the tile yesterday, and the color was a little too light. The artist who makes them is doing a special glaze for that burgundy color I wanted and she needs a little more time. So it will all work out well. As long as I have countertops and a functional sink, I don't really care about the backsplash for a few weeks.

I only have one concern at the moment: the wall adjacent to a few of the countertop areas. The lower part of my kitchen wall has paneling, which is stained in the same color as the cabinets. Of course once I get the cabinets refaced, the paneling won't match anymore. So I was going to have it painted. Well, after they took off the countertops, I realized that in a couple of places, the paneling had been routed out to fit around the tiles. It's doubtful that the routing will fit perfectly with the new edge of the countertops. That makes me a bit nervous. I really don't want to tear off the paneling. I guess I'll just have to wait and see tomorrow. I think I discussed this issue with the countertop guy when he came to measure; I can't remember! As Lucy would say, "uuuuuuuurrrrrrrr!"

ę z Ľ

Thursday, March 21

The countertops are in! My contractors did the installation yesterday. They look great! So much better than the old tile! I love having a solid surface instead of all that grout.

In addition, they installed my shiny white Kohler sink and my new Delta faucet and soap dispensers. Previously, the sink area was cluttered with bottles of hand soap and dish soap, plus sponges. Now, I have one built-in dispenser for hand soap (antibacterial, of course), and one for dish soap (that new Dawn with a fresh apple scent). After my cabinets get re-done, I'll also have a tilt-out tray in front of the sink, where I can put sponges and scouring pads. No more clutter on my sink!

The new faucet sits higher than the old one, so it will be easier to fill large pots. It's also that new pull-out style, so I don't have a separate hose cluttering the sink, either.

The contractor really took his time making sure everything was level. Turns out, a couple of places weren't level, and a couple of walls were bowed slightly. Apparently, that is very common.

After they were done, they took the time to clean the countertops well, and sweep up after themselves. Despite their effort, there was still a fine layer of dust on everything. It took most of the evening to put stuff back in my drawers and clean up all that dust.

At the moment, the new electrician is in my kitchen, cutting holes in the walls for new electrical outlets. My kitchen, being built in the 1950s, does not have enough outlets. It will be wonderful to finally have the convenience I've been missing all these years.

Here's a link to the faucet I chose. When I started shopping for faucets, I couldn't believe how expensive they could be! Some European brands are hundreds of dollars! I got a European style faucet from an American manufacturer, which was still expensive, but at least somewhat reasonable:


I plan to post a few pictures of my kitchen soon (I have to get them out of the digital camera).

On the dental front, I believe that my bottom teeth have moved a bit. My back left molars seem to be touching differently. I suppose this will happen from time to time during the course of my treatment. I also think I'm developing a canker sore on one of my gums. I'd better break out the Anbesol, darn it!

I was a really bad girl and forgot to floss last week. OK, I was lazy. So I made sure to floss today. Of course my gums bled. Uugh. I have to force myself to be better about flossing...

Several people have asked if I'm into the erotic nature of braces. Sorry to disappoint you, but no, I do not have a fetish for braces. However, I really appreciate you guys telling me how good I look in them; that makes me feel a lot less self-conscious!

ę z Ľ Friday, March 22

The electrician installed the boxes for the new outlets and switches in the kitchen yesterday. He also did something that made me cringe -- he cut several very large rectangular holes in the kitchen walls! I thought he would only cut holes big enough for the outlet boxes. Apparently, he needed to open up sections of the wall to be able to run the new wiring properly. As you can imagine, I was surprised by an extra expense. Now I must pay my painter a couple of hundred dollars to patch the drywall.

So, here's today's home improvement tip for you:

"Always ask if they will need to cut any big holes in your walls." Sigh...

Anyway, he did everything he was supposed to do, and then he fixed a couple of outlets in my kids' rooms. Now, he is back today, installing an exhaust fan in our bathroom. The bathroom has terrible ventilation and always develops a mildew problem; it just never dries out! In the eight years we've lived here, the lighting fixtures and towel bars have rusted. After pondering the situation, I realized that if we just increase the air flow and vent out the steam from the shower, the problem will improve. In addition, we are getting a new window for that room, which opens wider and will let in more fresh air.

I suppose my next project will be re-painting the bathroom and replacing the fixtures. I might ask my painter to give me an estimate, as long as he's here looking at the holes in my kitchen walls. The bathroom is small and I'm sure I could paint it myself. However, my painter is terrific and I know he'd do an excellent job, which may be worth spending a few hundred dollars.

I am so in love with my new countertops! They are so pretty! I will post some pictures soon, but I don't think they look as good in pictures as they do in person. That Zodiaq is such beautiful material!

ę z Ľ Sunday, March 24

I had the weirdest two dreams the other night. One concerning my kitchen, and the other concerning my braces!

Have you ever had a dream that there was a "wing" of your house you just had never discovered? Or a door you had never opened? Well, I've had a couple of dreams like that lately. A few weeks ago, I dreamed that there was a door in my kitchen that I'd never opened. Finally, curiosity got the best of me. Inside was an entire huge, beautiful wing, completely furnished, with all the amenities I could have wished for. But last night, I just dreamed about the kitchen. I was giving someone a tour, and suddenly realized that I had a huge brick fireplace hidden behind a cabinet. Then, when I looked further, I saw an entire "kitchen wing", with several cooking areas and sinks. I kept remarking to my guest, "Gee, I've lived here all these years and have never noticed these before!"

The braces dream, now that was downright scary. I dreamt that one of my upper fillings was starting to come out. I got some tweezers to pull out the rest of the filling. But instead of pulling out the bum filling, I pulled off my braces. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was not only missing my braces, but several teeth as well! I began hyperventilating and looking feverishly for Dr. Vogt's card, to call him for advice. Then I woke up.

Well anyway, back to reality. My painter, the gem that he is, came over Saturday morning to give me an estimate for fixing those huge holes in the kitchen walls. Would you believe, only $100? He fixed them right then and there (went to the store first, of course, to buy some drywall). He needs to come back once or twice to put another coat of the stuff on the wall. He's such a perfectionist, and I am so lucky to have found him!

That canker sore I mentioned a few days ago is in full swing. How annoying! It's right near one of those hooks. So I need to gob that hook with wax. I've also been using a lot of anbesol. I can't wait until it heals. Canker sores were annoying enough before braces, but with braces, they're downright unbearable!

ę z Ľ Wednesday, March 27

After all the commotion in my kitchen, life has returned to normal for a short period of time. Although, as I write, the painter is back in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on those wall patches.

All hell is going to break loose the week of April 8. Not only will the cabinets be refaced, but all the doors and windows will be replaced. The window/door company called this morning to cheerfully inform me that my order is in. I tried to stall them off a week, but unfortunately, the week of April 8th is it. I'd better get my rest now to prepare for the mess. My living room will be filled with the contents of the kitchen cabinets, and all the wall coverings must be taken down, as well. Oh jeez!

But when they finish, and everything is put back, it will be so nice. I probably haven't mentioned my crappy windows and doors to you yet. Oh God, how I hate my doors and windows. The windows are aluminum frame, single pane crapola from the 1950s. They leak air like a sieve. The front entry is entirely charmless, and the lighting fixture near the front door is an ugly 50s throw-back.

It's costing us a small fortune to replace every single window and exterior door, but it's worth it. For one thing, we won't be able to hear the garbage trucks, barking dogs, revving motors, or anything else while we're trying to sleep. And everyone tells us that our gas and electric bills will be cut in half. I'm just looking forward to a nicer-looking house! The windows will be vinyl double-pane low-e glass. The front door will be a nice raised-6-panel paintable fiberglass with pretty beveled glass sidelights. The sliding French doors will be wood frame.

I don't have much to say about my braces today. It occurred to me that I've really gotten used to them, even the frequent annoying cleanings. I get a kick out of observing my teeth and realizing that they are actually moving and straightening out! In fact, one of the lower front teeth has really visibly moved and straightened (although it still has a long way to go). So far, I can honestly say that having braces isn't a big deal and doesn't interfere with my life too much at this point. On the upside, they stop me from eating foods I shouldn't eat too much of, anyway!

I'm going to be rather busy for the next couple of weeks, working on a tech writing contract. A small software firm asked me to help update their manual a few months ago, and the work has finally come through. It's nice to step back into the workforce from time to time, make some money, keep up my skills, and make new contacts. When you've been out of the full-time workforce, especially in the technology industry, it's hard to wedge your way back in. This contract is especially good, because the company just wants me to do the work at home and electronically send the finished project to them. It's the kind of project that we work-at-home Moms dream about! If I do a good job, I'll be the writer/editor on future updates of their manuals.

The only downside to working is trying to balance everything else in my life, especially now with all this home improvement stuff going on. Something always suffers, and it's usually one of my "optional" activities, like playing guitar, or exercising regularly. Doing my Mom stuff is never optional, as any parent will know. Whining children must come first, dishes must be washed, and unfortunately, the laundry will not clean and fold itself. Hubby helps during these times, but there's only so much he can do, since he works a regular job and is away from the house most of the day. I am lucky, because he is a real "hands on" kind of Dad, and can do most of the household and child-oriented tasks as well as I. Except for cooking; that's just not his "thing."


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