Category: Personal

General Contractor Saga

What is it with general contractors? It’s been almost two months and I still haven’t been able to start work on the house.

I thought that if I devoted all of my time and energy on making sure I had my ducks in a row then I’d have the smoothest home renovation in the history of home renovations.


Without further ado, my general contractor saga that has spanned two months (which, when you can’t move in until after construction is complete, feels like decades):

General Contractor #1

I had this guy picked out even before we closed. He had built a friend’s house and I thought it looked wonderful. Based on her home, I could tell that he would pull off a transitional style well. After meeting with him several times, over a period of several weeks, to discuss in detail what I wanted, we finally agreed on a price for the work to be completed.

He sent me the contract to review and left out the labor cost for installing kitchen cabinets. This wouldn’t normally be so appalling except for the fact that he knew the place I was purchasing cabinets from did not install cabinets and he had already quoted me 40K for labor!

I had also ignored several red flags from this particular GC but this was the last straw. Most alarmingly, he refused to itemize the work that he was doing and instead gave me a quote for each section of the house. When I asked him to break down the costs, he told me it would be a waste of his time to type everything up. I was basically going on goodwill and trust which I now realize was my folly.

General Contractor #2

After the prior fiasco, I immediately went on Angie’s List and started researching companies with good reviews. I found one with excellent reviews and was able to set up an appointment immediately. The guy came to the house and we went over all of the work to be done.

I received a quote the next day with a 7-page itemized breakdown of parts and labor. Not only that, the quote was significantly less than the first GC. It was like a dream come true!

I told him that I would love to go with his company and asked him to send me the contract to sign.

The day after, he told me that his boss was confused about the scope of the work and that they could not do the job as quoted. They were not making enough money. I asked him to give me a new quote but our relationship quickly deteriorated after that.


Alexa: 18 Months Update

My darling daughter, you’ve grown so much since the last update I wrote for you 10 months ago.

During this time, your personality has truly blossomed and I love learning more about who you are.

Mostly, you are exceedingly sweet and gentle. You love to give me the snuggles that I craved from Max when he was your age. You will crawl into my lap and just lie there while I can stroke you.

You have the softest smile, accompanied by your tinkling, wind-chime giggle.

And nothing could have prepared me for just how girly you are turning out to be! It wasn’t until I had two children – a boy and a girl – that I understood how gender differences can be so innate.

I also can’t look at you without seeing myself – both the good and the bad.

Your dad and I are often in disbelief by how similar you are to me. Especially when he sees your attitude. We’re lucky that your dad loves seeing the baby “me!”

Anyway, you have my petite bone structure, high forehead, fine hair, and small features. Incredibly, our teeth structure is identical – two large central incisors (i.e. buck teeth) with small lateral incisors and large, needle-sharp canines.

The good is, you will always look younger than you are. You’ll hate it, at first, but come to appreciate it after college. It takes awhile for it to become a good thing.

The bad is, you have my fierce temper. On the outside, you might look sweet and innocent but you have one of those tempers where you don’t give a crap about anything when you’re mad.  This is also something that improves as you get older – if you want to have friends and to get married, that is.


The Start of Our Home Renovation Project

I previously mentioned that we were in contract to buy a home. Well, we finally closed and, since then, life has been a non-stop whirlwind of meeting or speaking with general contractors, architects, kitchen designers, roofers, painters, gardeners, the list goes on…

I think I’ve dealt with almost 20 tradespeople in a span of three weeks!

Mr. C and I bought a solid house in a great location. However, the interior is dated and the kitchen is terribly laid out. In light of the fact that we *hope* this will be our forever home and that we have two young children, we are trying to renovate as much as possible before moving in.

This means: Gutting the entire kitchen and three bathrooms, reflooring, raising ceilings, knocking down walls, replacing the roof, converting the fireplace, adding and/or redoing all closets, painting. Basically, a lot of effin’ work.

And, of course, that also means I am now in neurotic research mode. Which has since become my full-time job, for the time being.

I plan to start documenting my home remodeling journey, if for no other purpose than to share my neurosis with others.


Race: Lessons from a Three-Year Old

It all started innocuously enough.

I was doing work on my laptop while Max played nearby. I am an attorney so I had to search for a law firm’s contact information. After a quick Google search, I found the firm’s website. I clicked on the link and was immediately greeted by a row of middle-aged white men in suits with big smiles, one of them cradling a distinction award of some kind.

I couldn’t help but mutter, “Well, that’s a lot of white men.”

Max, being three years old and inquisitive about literally every damn thing, perked up and asked, “What white men?”


On the other hand, I realized, this is the perfect teachable moment!

I think we can all agree that we live in tumultuous times, whichever side of the political spectrum you may fall. And race can’t help but be in the forefront of my thoughts these days, with all the talks about the Muslim ban and Mexico border wall. You see, I am Asian-American. And in America, that means I have always been a minority.

So race matters.

I sometimes forget about race, living in NYC, one of the most diverse areas of the county. There are even places where I look around and everyone is Asian or Asian-American. But travel outside the metropolitan area and I become far more race-conscious, by necessity.

As a minority, I have to be even more acutely aware of the importance of raising tolerant children that embrace diversity and multiculturalism.

So back to Max. I had him sit on my lap while I Googled some images for race + diversity where I come across a picture collage featuring people of all different races, genders, ages, and orientation.

The entire time, I am secretly patting myself on the back for using this as an opportunity to introduce him to the concept of race.

I pointed to the following picture:

And I asked, “Which of these people do you think looks most like you?”


getting over a wall

You know that feeling when you know you should do something and you want to do it but you haven’t done it in so long that you don’t even know where to start?

Yea, so that’s me in a nutshell when it comes to blogging lately.

And I don’t even really know what the purpose of this post is. All I know is that I need to write something just to get over that seemingly insurmountable wall that’s been growing due to my lack of writing this past month.

The thing is, I love blogging. The problem is, I worry too much that I might not be writing something useful, e.g., a product review or guide. And that I may appear self-absorbed when I write about the more mundane things in life.

But I forgot that the other half of my purpose for blogging is to document my life! It’s an outlet and a way for me to do something for me.

So I am going to try to commit to start writing more. Even if it seems relatively inconsequential. Because life is passing by way too quickly and I have not been writing about enough of it.