Practice What I Bleat

This post has been toned down from it’s original rant. You read that right: this is the toned down version!

“If you want something badly enough to whine about it you better be willing to do it yourself.”1

me, every damn day

Backstory: The kids are constantly asking for things (toys, food, clothes, video games, liberty), and when they are being particularly persistent or impatient, I suggest they do it themselves. This usually goes something like this:

  • Obi: Take my shoes off Mommy!
  • Me: I can’t this second, but you can do it yourself or wait a few minutes.
  • Obi: NOOOOOOOOO. I caaaannnnnntttttt! You do it! Nooooowwwww….
  • Me: You did it 10 minutes ago, you can do it if you want them off right now, or you can wait a few minutes until I can do it.
  • Obi: I want you to do it nooooowwwwwww…..
  • Me: If you want it done right now, then you can do it. If you aren’t willing to spend your time or energy doing it yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to use their time or energy to do it for you.

    Repeat ad infinitum.2

After listening to myself whine and whinge and bleat on for the past 2 years about all the stuff Sergiu wasn’t getting done as quickly or as completely as I was demanding, and I eventually realized that I better practice what I preach.3

Let’s start with the garage

Such a (comparatively) small and simple structure, I thought this was a good compromise for an easy win and not too demanding a task. All I asked was that it get painted. Granted, there were some pre-requisites that had to be completed before this could be done.

  • The south-side of the garage had to be cleared out (an intricately woven ensemble of broken fencing and endless monster-vines; Bridgette & I took care of that step)
  • The three separate and all poorly built/cut dog-doors had to be patched up (Sergiu did this, but he admitted he did it poorly)
  • Everything had to be scraped (Primarily Sergiu, but I helped a teeny bit)

We got this done, and he painted the south side of the garage with relatively little moaning on my part.4

The south-side wall was done in the Fall of 2020, and absolutely nothing else was even started for 10 months.

After 10 months of silent suffering5, I finally remembered how hypocritical I was being and started scraping the north side myself.6 My not-so-secret hope was that Sergiu would feel bad about this and take over, but unfortunately he had just started a new role at Marist and found the transition from “stay-at-home-parent full-time job”7 to “40-minute-commute-interacting-with-other-humans full-time job” to be more jarring than anticipated.

So I scraped away, bruising my hands and my ego,8 but resolute in my hope that he would at least take pity on me when I started painting (or just be horrified at how badly I paint). That almost worked, but ultimately patient-Aly was on vacation that week and I just got annoyed at how little he was getting done – so I “had to” (finger quotes; I clearly didn’t “have to”) step in several times to re-jumpstart his motivation.


He still hasn’t done the trim, so I started that but also get distracted easily9; I still have to scrape the far left, and then hop up on the ladder to get the rest.

Also need to figure out some way to get that paint off the glass in the window, not to mention the other two sides of the structure!!! Even small victories feel very incomplete.

The Breezeway

Apparently that thing connecting the garage and the house is called a breezeway?10

Another “easy win”11, I thought Sergiu could fix up the breezeway pretty easily – just scrape and paint it’s underside/wooden bits. We all love the thing; it is easily one of our most cherished everyday-life features of the house,12 and it is a fairly straight, flat (sort of), simple surface so I thought it could be an easy one that we could all appreciate and feel good about when it was done.

Eventually13 (August 2020, I think) he got the underside and the inner-bits of the thing scraped off (sort of, but not saying that as a complaint – that was a hot mess of scraping, and he did as best he could. No complaints on the quality of the scrape).

He even got it primed, almost immediately after scraping was finished!

But then that was it. I started scraping the southern outside edge at some point between last August and yesterday, but I also faltered and paused for about 8 months. Oops.

This week the weather was not too hot, not too cold, and my motivation was apparently strong enough to switch-on the super-hyper-focused region of my brain. And I painted. And scraped. And Painted. And scraped. And it still barely feels like I made any real progress.

On the bright side, I figured out how to make a little hyper-sonic video highlighting my scraping skillz (and parenting derelictions).

House Trim

fair warning, I’m clearly still angry about this entire situation

Specifically, that strip of detailed wood between the blue trim and the unpainted gross-color trim.

Side note…….

This is actually the only downside of the breezeway: because it blocks the ladder placement, it seems like it will be relatively impossible to safely get to the bits of house above it (the section on the left, circled in pink).

The party-poopers I live with pretty much vetoed my my idea of a step-ladder straddling the roof of the breezeway13.5

Roughly a year ago, I (eventually) [do a shot] got Sergiu to paint the west side of the house (this was apparently after the breezeway, which I only realized a moment ago by looking at the pictures). But he didn’t do the trim (or prep it), and only went 2/3 of the way up with the siding. He said he needed a bigger ladder, so I got us a bigger ladder.

But he didn’t like it.14

So I got him the ladder attachment that he asked for to make him feel more secure.

But he put it on the shorter ladder and, to my knowledge, still has yet to use the big one at all.

In his defense, Sergiu hates heights, and I do try to be sympathetic about this (no, really, I do!!!! This is me trying!)

But I get so frustrated because he knew exactly how high the house was before/when we bought it, and he agreed at that time to get it all scraped/painted – he never even suggested that the height and the p.i.t.a. gingerbread details were going to deter him, let alone completely stall all external progress (see, still bitter).

So for the past ~year the house has been maybe 1/6 painted (sort of). He did do some very minor scraping on the bit of trim between the 2nd and 3rd stories, and a very very minor teeny tiny corner (in green below) of the gingerbread, but honestly I think that comically small effort just enraged me even more.

I got really irritated (probably more going on in my head than just the frustration from half-finished/half-assed progress) and so I grumpily climbed up that ladder15 and painted the strip-trim myself.16

In conclusion…

  • This whole post makes more sense if you realize that my frustration is listed in reverse chronological; I think that the trim-strip was one of the things that finally pushed me over the edge originally.
  • I guess I should figure out how to collaborate more effectively and efficiently with the guys who actually have the knowledge and skills my poor old house so desperately needs. Maybe I’ll google how to do that.
  • And really, progress was made. So yay.

1 This is similar in ideation to “Fish or cut bait,” one of my favorite sayings and a sort of personal philosophy. I actually just learned that its meaning has evolved over the decades/centuries. Both the original and the evolved meaning are pretty applicable and apt. It was the evolved (I’m assuming) that Erle Stanley Gardner was referencing in his 1963 book of the same name, but the earlier meaning was roughly akin to “sort of a maritime version of ‘Lead, follow, or get out of the way‘”, and I think that works pretty well too. I either need to learn to lead better, follow better, or get out of my own and everyone else’s way.

2 Which always reminds me of another stale adage, regarding the definition of insanity.
3 though this goes directly against my need for efficiency. he’s literally a pro and could spend about 1/10 of the time I’m spending on them, and with better results.

4 Relatively being the important part of that sentence.
5 This is a joke. You cannot call my grumpiness ‘suffering’, nor is anything I have ever done silent.
6 My lack of photographs is proof only of my inability to take before/during photos, not proof that I didn’t do it. My neighbors saw me and commented on how hard I was working. You can ask them. 🙂
7 Full-time doesn’t even begin to describe the SAHP job. It’s not a job I’ve ever envied, wanted, or downplayed the importance and gruelingness of any more than I have any other thing I don’t fully understand. Anyone who thinks it is not a more-than-full-time and far more exhausting (and far, far more important) job is bonkers and I’ll meet you in the parking lot after school to fight.
8 In fairness, he did take pity on me eventually and scraped the parts above the window.

9 see how hypocritical I am?
10 Yup, just learned that word. I’m not even certain it’s the right one, but it seems to fit the definition.
11 finger quotes again, when will I learn that there is no such thing as an ‘easy win’ with this house?
12 Apparently people hated it when it was first built; I’m told (rumor and gossip being the only sources here) that there was a huge uproar when the then-owners built the little roof, as it did not fit with peoples’ ideas of what the house should be. But we love it – it’s super useful and is a convenient little protection from both the sun and the rain.


that word should be a drinking game in this post/blog – every time I say “eventually” (or any synonym), do a shot.
13.5 All this means is that I have to try it out when neither one is home.
14 He picked it out – he has stated it’s a great ladder, but he just doesn’t want to use it.
15 Please, no comments on the angle, Sergiu says it’s wrong but I like it – and given the sidewalk location and the grippy things on the ladder’s feet, it’s really the best placement for that particular wall.

16 I’ve all-but decided that I’m actually going to paint it a different color. But whatever, at least it’s partially protected from the elements for the moment, and I think it might work out great because the circle-detail-thingys will stay dark blue, so I can just take a roller over the whole strip to change the ‘top’ level of the thing. …. … … Also, There is definitely a not-so-secret part of me that maybe quarter-hopes people will look at the absolutely horrendous painting job on all the bits I do and think they are Sergiu’s work, thereby creating less community demand for his services 🙂


For the record, this was not at all cathartic to write. If anything, I just got more and more angry about the whole thing. I need to find a bright, cheery topic for my next post.

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