More on floors

While Craig is busy working on our floors (I think he is finding the task a bit more time consuming that originally expected, I think he has bad floor mojo or something), I thought I would talk a bit more about our choice. Mostly because it ends with me winning and that is always nice :-)

When we started planning the kitchen, we were going to replace the wall with a penisula. This meant the kitchen floor and the dining room floors could be different without being a visual nightmare and our floor options were wide open. Looking at my idea files and listening to my heart, I knew that wood was what I really wanted but I had heard some negative things about wood floors in kitchens so I attempted to listen to Craig's reasonings about other options.

We both liked slate. When my brother got married last fall, the house we all stayed in has slate kitchen floors and we liked the look but it seemed a bit too modern for the rest of the house. Plus, the sealing sounded like a pain.

I didn't really want tile. I love how easy to clean it us but I'm really clumsy and if you drop stuff on tile, it breaks. And my feet get cold easily. Yes, that really was one of the reasons I didn't want tile :-)

Cork. This is a pretty controversial in the world of kitchen floors. Some people think this is the bees knees because its soft, quiet and water and bacteria resistant, and other people think is will soon be outdated and is just not durable enough for a kitchen floor. I originally looked into it because it sounded cool but most of the pros/cons are similar to hard wood so why would I want to get something similar but not matching. The answer, I wouldn't.

Linoleum (the real stuff, not to be confused with vinyl - yuck) I think this was Craig's favorite for a while and I really wanted to agree with him. It's made from natural materials so its eco-friendly and fairly low in toxicity/offgassing compared to a lot of other flooring options. It does need to be polished occasionally to keep its protective coating but it seemed like it would be a good fit. I was trying really hard to sell this idea to myself, thinking it would be cool if we could keep the black and white checkered floor look which I am fond of as long as it is not off-white and black with missing patches like the old one was.

But right when I had almost convinced myself that I would settle for linoleum, we changed the floor plan from this

to this which means the old floor would meet the new one right in the middle of the fridge. That would be weird and really mess up the casual eat in kitchen look. Which is sad for poor rejected linoleum, but happy for me and my beloved wood floor option.

And I'm not really worried about the wood in the kitchen naysayers. Yes, I'll have to be careful about quickly cleaning up spills but the very reasons people don't like wood in the kitchen is the reason I do. It's quiet and soft on your feet. It's easy to clean and easy to know that it is clean (I have to sweep our living room at least once a day to keep it clean but unlike carpet, I know that it is clean once I'm finished!)

 And we'll be using a polyurethane coat so I'm not to worried about scratches or dents. Lucy is rough on our living room floor with her love of pushing furniture around but so far, nothing. And we don't wear shoes in the house so even if I suddenly develop a love of high heels (don't hold your breath), I think it will be just fine.

Of course, if we have a water pipe burst or a dishwasher leak sometime next year, I'm giving you permission to hold this conversation over my head. Just be gentle okay?


Potty Learning – Lessons and Lifestyle Changes

This was actually written a few weeks ago so things have changed a bit with our crazy goings on. I'm not sure why I felt the need to add this disclaimer but I didn't want people who know what's going on to think I'm lying.


When I say “Lessons,” I don’t mean to imply I have this figured out, I don’t at all! But do want to record what has worked for us so far in this journey….before the next kid comes around and I’ve forgotten it all!

Lesson #1) Naked is better
We’ve dropped the trainers for now. I know we will go back to them eventually as she can’t be naked her entire life but for now, it was confusing her. She knows that when she is wearing a diaper, she doesn’t have to worry about the potty. When we are out and about she still wears diapers, and sometimes in the evenings when I am trying to make dinner or she is going back and forth between Craig and I. Those times, she still tells me when she has to go #2 but she doesn’t even seem to care about being wet. Even though the trainers were cloth, she always seemed surprised to be in a puddle when she had them on, like they weren’t doing their job, but she knows she needs to potty if she is naked. So naked it is, for now at least. Plus it cuts down on laundry :-)

Lesson #2) Ride the waves
If you go back and read over my potty posts, you will probably notice that Lucy does better, than slows down, does better, then slows down. We normally end up ahead of where we were at after the last “slow down” stage so there is progress but when you are in a low period, it can be hard to remember. Just keep going. I remind myself that we aren’t doing this to prove that she is the best and smartest baby in the world, (we already know that :-) nor are we doing this to save on diapers or laundry costs. We are doing this to help her understand her body and take care of herself and because we want to enable her to do what we know she is capable of. Even if she totally reverts tomorrow and doesn’t complete the potty training process until she is 3, I will still think the time and effort we put in so far has helped her and was worth it.

Lesson #3) Have Fun
I’m not sure if this is being conveyed well by these posts, but potty training a baby is a lot of fun. Really! I hear mom’s fretting over potty training their older tots, worried that they won’t be done in time for VBS/Pre-school/Kindergarten and I feel bad because they are missing out on the fun. It is a lot like watching a baby learn to feed herself. The mess and the clean-up are there but if that is all you focus on, you’re missing the best part. In both cases, it is amazing to watch her learn and develop, to see the pride in her face when she knows she did it right, the independence she is developing in her ability to know her body and how it works. Just like seeing her face when the spoon makes it to her mouth is worth dealing with some peas on the floor, watching her face when she make it to the potty is worth dealing with some pee on the floor.

Lifestyle changes

Change #1) Pull up the rug
I mean that literally, if at all possible, pack that rug away. This is directly related to Lesson #1. We have hardwood floors so a lot of our flooring is potty safe but the area rug in the living room kinda drove me nuts. I would be all tense anytime she was there until finally, we just rolled it up. Yes, it makes the living room seem a bit more bacheloresque but we’ll survive, and so will my nerves. Make the changes that need to be made to make your life easier. It won’t be forever.

Change #2) Got to keep ‘em separated
The one bad thing about potty training early than the majority of people is that clothing manufacturers assume they are still in diapers. Why does it seem like 90% of size 18 mon clothing snaps between the legs or is complicated to put on or take off? At home, we do a shirt-sleeved shirt if it is warm or a long-sleeve shirt and baby legs if it is a bit cooler - hopefully adding trainers/undies into the mix in a few months. If Lucy is wearing pants or shorts she wants them completely off while she is sitting but she doesn’t mind keeping baby legs on. I don’t have many t-shirts since my favorite brands seems to make mostly onesies.

And when we are out of the house, it would still be nice if I could easily get her clothes off. She told me she needed to go at our church picnic last weekend and the church even has a little toddler sized toilet in the nursery that we could use but it took so long to take off her pants that we only made it for the second half.
But now that I am aware of the issue, I’ll be on the lookout for potty safe clothing. I needed to do that anyway since according to Montessori she is nearing the sensitive period for learning how to dress herself – easy on/off separates.

Update: I've wrote this post last week and am even more frustrated after a week of looking. I've found a few Children's place tees at once upon a child but still have not found any good pants options! And I thought dresses with baby legs would work but the dress part keeps getting caught under her when she sits on the potty and ends up wet. If you have any clothing (style or company) recommendations, please let me know!

Change #3) Slow down
Potty training hasn’t been hard, but it has taken a commitment on my part to be slow, stay home and keep to our routine. Of course, we have to prioritize sometimes too. We always go back a bit when we visit my parents each month but that is fine. I am 100% sure that I will not be looking back on these months and wishing I had spent less time with my mom and more time on potty training. But potty training does take precedence over quick trips to target because I’m bored or going out to lunch at chic-fil-a just to get out of the house. But I think of that as a blessing. I want to be a home centered family, I want our family rhythm to be a priority. This is just one way I can easily tell if I am being successful in those efforts or if I need to step back and evaluate my schedule again.


17 months!

Dear Lucy,

What a month! It may just be because I've been doing the solo parenting thing most of this month, but it certainly seems like you have developed quite the "personality" this month. Most of the time that is a good thing but good or bad, it wears me out.

You have finally found your voice. Whether it is screaming (because you aren't getting what you want, because you're excited or just because you feel like seeing how loud you can be), babbling or talking, you are much noisier than last month. In addition to the "mama" and "dada" you have been able to say for months, you say ball (ba) and meow regularly now and have said "hot" and one other word which I can't remember a few times (how sad is that, I know your up to 5 what is #5?)

Update: I remembered, it's "pop" as in bubbles "pop."

I think it is fun how you are choosing such random words to say, probably because you already know how to "say" almost anything you want to communicate by signing. Signing is still your main mode of communication and while I stopping counting a few months back when you were in the mid 30s, I'm sure you have at least 50 now.

Helping me make pie crusts

You absolutely adore being outside. Sometimes I'm afraid to take you outside because I know no matter how long we are out there, you will throw a fit when it is time to back in. But you are so easy to entertain when we are outside that it is still worth it. You like to find bugs, pick and eat Grandpa's tomatoes (I think you believe Grandpa has a magical candy bush just for you) and go "crunch crunch" in the leaves.
You certainly don't mind getting dirty

But your favorite outside activity is sliding. You like to go up the park platform/steps, sit down, scooch to the edge then slide. At first you would let me help with some of those steps but now you want to do them all by youself. If I try to help you, you'll just push me away. Its a bit scary for me to let you go and I've tried to steer you towards the little slide but you don't like that one, you like the big whirly slide!

You've also decided this month that clothing should be optional. And you are pretty fast at getting it off. I'll put your shirt on, turn around to grab your pants and by the time I turn back around, the shirts off again. Sometimes you insist on being naked, sometimes you just want to practice taking your shirt on and off over and over again. You also want to put your shoes on all by yourself but can't yet and get very frustrated by that fact. Basically, you want to do everything all by yourself - except sleep. You tell me when you want to go to sleep but you still want me to be there by your side. But you only nurse to sleep about half the time no, the rest of the time you ask me to sing and you lay next to me and let me rub your back until you drift off.
4 generations!

You've become very interested in music and singing this month and not just at night. You've always liked it but now you ask me to sing every 20 minutes or so. And you are quite particular about which song I am to sing. I'll start singing and you will shake your head until I figure out the correct song. But luckily for me you are pretty consistent in your selections (que sera sera is your favorite night time song, Old McDonald or Wheels on the Bus are your favorite daytime songs). You really like Thursdays because that is when Bubbie's music therapist comes and you get to listen to a real musician. And sometimes she even lets you play the maracas or tambourine along with her. Last week though you got frustrated with her song selection so we had to leave the room so I could sing Wheels on the Bus for you myself. Oh, what a character you are!


Week Five Update

Well, we got the drywall up. This is another point of no return, as what is done behind the walls is done. I left a newspaper behind one of the interior walls for someone to find someday in the future. I thought about leaving a dollar or an old cellphone, but I didn't. I ended up not putting up a vapor barrier (a sheet of heavy plastic between the insulation and drywall - not to be confused with Tyvek housewrap, which goes on the outside of the house and is a moisture barrier, but not a vapor barrier). Missouri is on a borderline; if we were much further north, a vapor barrier would be a good plan, but it gets pretty humid here in summer. Thus, humid air from outdoors enters the walls during that season. This air would hit the vapor barrier and the water would condense inside the wall, and that would be bad. Note: this decision may or may not have been correct. I could not find a definitive answer.

We used "green drywall" where our sink and counters are going to be. This is water-resistant, sometimes mold-resistant drywall that is green in color. I wasn't sure if I should use something more water-resistant, like cement board. I know the latter should be used in bathrooms behind the tub and shower, but the people I talked to said that stuff isn't used in kitchens. I couldn't find a definitive Mike Holmes answer for this, either, so we went with the green stuff in part of the kitchen. I would have liked it to extend further to the left, but this should do, I suppose.

I have started laying hardwood floors. This type of flooring isn't recommended by some for use in kitchens, because there is lots of water there, but we wanted to match our dining room and living room, so we decided to use it. I'll have to seal it well, and make sure we clean up spills quickly. I laid down 15-lb roofing paper on top of the wood plank subfloor, and started laying wood. I rented a manual nailer, but it wasn't driving the nails all the way into the wood. Plus, it would take me several hits to drive a nail, and during these hits the nailer would move slightly, which probably helped with problem #1. I'm going to rent a pneumatic nailer this week and see how that works.

To transition between the existing wood floor and the new floor. I first used a circular saw to cut the edge of the existing floor as straight as possible. I had a heck of a time cutting the ends next to the walls, since the saw wouldn't go all the way to the end.. For oneend , I used a hand saw to cut the last two inches, and on the other end I had to use a rotozip (with which I later sustained my first renovation injury, a thumb cut). I then laid a row of new flooring perpendicular to the existing wood, to create a transition strip that will be flush with both the old and new flooring. This was recommended by the Lumber Liquidators guy. While this violates the rule that you should stagger the ends of adjacent wood pieces, it is really the only feasible option in this situation.

Before I started laying and cutting wood, I first brought the pieces into the kitchen 5 or so days before I started, in order to acclimate the wood to the temperature and humidity in the house. I then sorted the pieces, laying them out by size and weeding out less-than-perfect ones, which I used in the area on which the sink cabinets and dishwasher will sit.

We also selected and ordered our refrigerator and dishwasher. We combined a Lowe's sale with a 10% off coupon. To use the coupon, I ordered the appliances in the store (I avoided the closest Lowe's to deprive a certain city government out of my sales taxes for this purchase). The store prices were higher than the online prices, but I brought in web site printouts and got the store to match the price. I tried to get the 5% discount that comes with signing up for a Lowe's credit card, but they said I couldn't do that. The appliances come in another 10 days or so - it would be nice if I could finish installing, staining, and sealing the floor by then. For appliances, we went with stainless steel. I campaigned hard for black, and not just because they cost less than stainless steel, but I lost that one.


High on function, low on fashion

If you read enough productive-type SAHM blogs, it won’t be long before you run into someone talking about a home journal, also knows as a homemaking binder or control journal.
I’ve tried several times to make one. They sound great. All my important information (routines, phone lists, menu plans, phone lists) put together, organized so I can find things easily.  I have such good intentions. Here is the pretty cover I made for mine.
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In fact, I think that might be the second or third pretty cover I’ve made. But I never get beyond the pretty cover. That one pictured above currently holds my 2009-10 MOPS phone list, a few yogurt instructions and a compost booklet I got from a friend. But I only knew that because I got it out to take a picture of it.
My problem is that I wanted it to be filled perfectly before I use it and it never got there. But recently, I’ve found a way to make the homemaking binder work for me:
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Yep, a $0.75 composition notebook. It isn’t pretty. And it certainly isn’t perfect. But I’ve been using it and now, I love it! It has our daily and weekly rhythms, my kitchen prep plan, Christmas present ideas, Lucy project ideas and a list of supplies I need for them so whenever I’m have some time and money to swing by Hobby Lobby, I know what I want to get, blog post ideas – basically my brain + pinterest.
And now that I’ve been doing it, it seems like it should have been obvious because duh, it’s a lab notebook! At both of my post-college full time jobs, my life was my lab notebook. Everything I did was written in mine and I carried it with me everywhere. It was the first thing I picked up in the morning and the last thing I put down. That’s what you do when you work in a lab. The chronological order of it is probably pretty unusual for a hmj, it doesn’t have plastic covered slots for me to easily arrange my papers and protect them from spills and it lacks tabs for quick and easy searching, but since I’m used to that, it works for me.
And all those things people say about them are true. I’m more organized, I’m more productive, my mind is clearer because I don’t have 5 simultaneously lists running in it. One of my goals is to be intentional. My profession is mothering and I want that to be seen in the way I structure my life. This not only helps me do that but it also helps me see that I am doing that and after a long day of wiping noses and bottoms, it is nice to see evidence that my life is more than that, even if it doesn’t have a pretty cover.


Toddler Tuesday: Finally some art that she likes!

Now that Lucy is older (and Pinterest exists :-) I have tons of things I want to do with her, but without a time set aside to do them, I'm pretty sure they would remain ideas. Enter the weekly rhythm. Our daily rhythm is pretty good, just consistent enough without being rigid but I had never really gotten a weekly rhythm into place until lately. And I love it.

Now that Wednesday is baking day, we actually bake together. Thursday is supposed to be art day. She has access to her playdough all the time and uses it at least once a day and her crayons and chalkboard wall are regulars in the play department but I wanted to do fun messy sensory art projects with her on Thursday.

But it turns out, she doesn't like to be messy. At least not with art. I tried making goop with cornstarch, food coloring and water and putting it on a cooking sheet for her to play with. I had a lot of fun demonstrating how it worked but Lucy touched it with one finger, then refused to go near it again. I thought maybe it was because it was sticky so the next week I tried with finger painting (water plus food coloring). She just gave my a "if you even think I'm touching that, you better have another think coming" look. (Have I mentioned that she can now roll her eyes, heaven help me!)

But I have finally found something she likes - sticker art! We got some free stickers in the mail and I put them aside until a few days later, Thursday rolled around and I, slightly discouraged and tired of searching pinterest for things she wouldn't want to do, had yet to come up with an art project idea. So we sat down with a piece of paper and the stickers. She immediately loved it.

She would point to which sticker she wanted and I would hand it to her. She would very thoughtfully decide where it should go and put it in its place, carefully making sure it was all flat and secure. She really did work precisely and with a lot of effort and thought.

And when it was done, she was so proud of herself. I put it on the fridge and everytime she saw it, she reminded me that we had to show daddy when he got home - and she did!

I guess this is a good case of follow the child. She doesn't want to do crazy tactile messy hands art projects at this point but that doesn't mean she can't be creative. And Disney character stickers would not be my ideal but if she's happy, so am I.


Green Choice #1

Since we are hippies and all, of course we will want to be making some eco-friendly choices on our kitchen remodel journey. But we are also on a strict budget and trying to do it ourselves to we have to be reasonable with what we can do. Straw bale walls and solar panels will have to wait for our next house.

But when possible, we do want to think about making a greener choice, for us and the environment. When looking at insulation, we had several options. We didn't like the traditional fiberglass batting.

Craig's a big fan of Holmes so he would have liked to go with a spray foam insulation but that was out of our budget, especially since our area wouldn't have met the minimum so we would have had to pay for insulation we weren't even getting.

In terms of super eco friendly insulation, there are really neat options out there, like natural wool or recycled denim. In my dream world, I probably would have chosen one of those, but they are more expensive and not easily available.

Our final choice: Roxul. Roxul is a stone wool batt insulation. Holmes recommends it because it is non-combustible and won't burn or release toxic gases if it contacts flames. Also unlike fiberglass - it's water, mold and pest proof. It is R-15 so comparable in efficiency to fiberglass, didn't cost much more and we could get it from Lowe's (required a special order but came in just a few days). That made Craig happy.

It is still a spun batt insulation so I had to wear long sleeves/pants and a mask during insulation so I wouldn't be breathing in the fibers. Some would say it isn't any better than fiberglass in terms of healthy and safety but unlike fiberglass with its offgassing dyes and formaldehyde, Roxul doesn't have volatile components that will off gas after installation which I think is a bigger issue. And while I couldn't even walk through the kitchen without itching during the time between drywall and old fiberglass insulation removal, I worked with the Roxul all evening and didn't really feel very itchy until I was cleaning myself up at the end of the night.

And it was really easy to use. I did it myself with just a measuring tape and a old bread knife. The pieces cut easily and I was able to get a nice fit without much trouble. And the batt was thick and held in place without flopping over. Overall, I think it is a great compromise product and if we have more insulating requirements in the future, it will probably be our choice.


Replace a Vinyl Window with a Smaller Glass Block Window

I am going to discuss today a two-part project I have mostly completed for which not much guidance was available online or in books. Maybe it will help someone out. It will probably allow others to point out my errors, which is OK, too.

Because we wanted to, as part of our kitchen remodel, move our range to a spot in front of the window pictured below, we decided to reduce the size of the window. We were originally going to remove it altogether, but we like the light it provides. Because we wanted a smaller window, and we didn't need it to open, we decided to go with a glass block window. There are two options for GBWs, as I'll call them: ones constructed block-by-block by the consumer, and prefabricated ones. We chose a 32" x 24" version of the latter (yeah, it says "basement window," but it also says it's great for kitchens).

Removing the existing window was fairly easy. It was wedged into the wall opening and apparently only held by two nails (one on each side) and some caulking on the outside of the window, securing it to the siding. I was able to remove it by cutting the caulk with a utility knife and prying the window (frame and all) out with a crowbar. I managed to avoid breaking the window, which was a plus.

The night before doing this, I built a frame for the new window. The actual size of the window was 31" x 23.35", and the installation instructions that came with the window called for using between 1/4" and 1" of mortar between the window and the frame. I split the difference and decided to use 1/2", so I built the frame with a 32" x 24.25" opening. I read somewhere that, since GBWs are heavy, to use a double sill, so I attached a second 2x4 below the one at the bottom of the frame.

To reduce the size of the opening, I planned to, with a friend, install two new studs in the wall opening to hold the frame [see diagram of window framing, with terminology]. Before doing this, I replaced the three boards already there (the two jack studs and the sill) because they were decaying, and I added a second sill here too, for good measure. I also decided to add a 2x4 across the top of the opening, so I didn't have to try to toenail in the new studs to the header using an upside-down motion. I attached the new studs (cut to the full height of the wall opening (minus the new top and bottom 2x4s) to the new top 2x4, then inserted the three boards as one piece into the opening. I also installed two cripple studs underneath where the frame would be going, to further support it. My assistant toenailed one of these in, but this was difficult, so he ended up pounding a nail up through the two new sill boards into the other cripple stud. I then installed the new frame. I placed the new studs based on where we wanted the window to be in relation to the cabinets we planned to install, so the right edge of the window was 55" from the kitchen wall to the right.

Once the framing was installed, it was time to mortar in the window. If you build a window block-by-block, you can buy channels to attach to the inside of the frame to hold the blocks, but with a prefab GBW, you mortar it directly to the wood. First I used shims and 1/2 inch wood blocks between the window and the frame to anchor the window tightly in place with proper spacing all around. My fear during this portion of the project was having the window fall out the other side of the wall while I was trying to secure it, and smashing into pieces, so I nailed an old piece of window trim across the opening on the outside as a sort of safety bar.

For the mortar, I used Quikrete Mortar Mix, which was recommended at Home Depot (how educated the recommendation was, I don't know). I bought a trowel and a grout bag (which is like a frosting bag). The bag did a good job of dispensing a large volume of mortar deep into the openings, but it was hard to squeeze the mortar out of the bag. It was more or less a two-person job; one person holds the tip and directs the mortar while the other person holds the bag and squeezes it. After using the bag at first, we ended up using the trowel and our fingers to fill the remaining space. We mortared around the shims, leaving some space in order to be able to pull them out after the mortar had set a bit.

I received conflicting advice about whether or not to mortar the top of the window; the official directions said to do so, but others said to use silicone caulk instead, because mortar would place weight and pressure on the window from above. I decided to go the caulk route on the top. I inserted several foam backer rods in the opening in order to save on caulk. I cut the tip of the caulk tube so it dispensed a wide bead and went to work, trying to create a smoothish bead. One set of instructions suggested waiting 24 hours after mortaring to do the caulking, so I did that.

Afterwards, I used plywood to cover the openings where the old window used to be, and then covered it with Tyvek housewrap. I bought some siding J channels, which I will use to trim the window and connect it to the vinyl siding. I also bought siding to cover the plywood; I will attempt to integrate this new siding with the existing siding.


Toddler Tuesday – Sensory Bins

I’m really excited to start sensory bins with Lucy! I’m not sure if they are an official Montessori activity or not, but they really seem to fit with the ideals. Its like an ever evolving treasure basket on steroids. Lucy is on the young side for them but she loved that tray of wheat so much and after watching her spend 30 minutes scooping and dumping with a measuring spoon and cup, rubbing her fingers in it and making little roads, I thought she was ready for a more put together sensory experience.

I’ve seen lots of ideas for themed sensory bins and I plan to switch Lucy’s out every month or two so I’m sure those will come in handy but for this first bin, I wanted to put it together myself. Since she is currently loving all things froggie and fishie, I did a pond theme. Of course, my ideas are by no means unique  and after I came up with my ideas, I saw a few pond bins online that had pretty much the same things I thought up anyway :-) but at least I tried. The rest of the items where found by walking up and down the aisles of Hobby Lobby looking for pondish items that were inexpensive.

I started with some aquarium beads.

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I’ve seen a lot of bins that use pebbles or rice that has been dyed but I though I would stick to large (read: easy to clean up) filler for the first basket or two while Lucy practices the “keep the items in the bin” concept. Then I added:

Felt lily pads

Foam fish


Water lily (just a flower I found at hobby lobby that looked lily-ish, I cut off the flower part)

Frog life cycle animal set (eggs, tadpole, froglet and frog)

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At $5, the animal set was my “splurge,” and it took me over budget but since realistic animal figures are one of the few toys Lucy can be counted on to love, I felt it was worth it. I don’t think she will quite get the life cycle aspect but it was the only frogs they had and someday it might be useful.

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It’s ready to go!

I spent a little over $11 but my goal is to keep it under $10 for the first couple baskets since I’m starting from scratch, but once I have enough fillers and basics to reuse, I hope to get it to under $5 a bin.

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She’s been playing with it for about two weeks now and it is still a hit! Every few days she picks a new favorite part and explores that. At first it was the beads, then the frogs, now she really likes the little fishes and will have the frogs pretend to eat them. Too cute!


Week three update

Technically this is the end of week three, but week two was not very productive because I was gone all week and Craig was gone two days for a business trip and two days for his cousin's wedding.  But before he left, he was able to remove our old window and with the help of a friend, install the new glass block window/backsplash. He'll be explain that process later since all I did was pick out what I wanted, provide beer for the helper, and keep Lucy out of their way.

Then, when Craig got back, but before Lucy and I did, he took the opportunity to remove the old kitchen flooring with it's yucky asbestos middle layer. The tiles were intact and sandwiched between the newest two vinyl layers and the plywood subfloor which he removed intact plus he sealed the whole area off from the rest of the house then thoroughly cleaned up afterwards but we still felt more comfortable doing that while the house was baby-free. I did miss getting to see him in the full bunny suit though :-(

The morning after I got back, Lucy and I had to get up early to greet the electricians. They spent the morning:
  • Removing the outlets from the wall we removed
  • Adding new outlets for countertop, fridge and stove 
  • Adding wiring for our new hood and undercabinet lighting
  • Updating the kitchen and dining room lighting to have three way switches - so we can turn on either the kitchen and/or dining room lights from both the living room entrance and the garage entrance.
I'm refinishing old light fixtures to keep the lighting budget in check and was still working on the new (to us) fixtures. I thought I would have them leave the old ones in place until they come back for the finish work but they had to take the old dining room chandelier down to alter the wiring and I felt bad having asking them to reinstall the old one only to have to switch it in a few weeks. Luckily the dining room chandelier was the one I was farthest along with so I had them put up our new one even though it still needs tweaking. I love how it looks and can't wait to get the other ones done and share it all with you.

After the electrical work was done, it was time for the inspections. We needed both county and fire inspections and I was not sure what to expect but, aside from a little scheduling miscommunication, they were easy peasy and by Thursday we were approved and ready to start putting everything back together.

Since our schedules had to be adjusted for me to head back to my parents quickly, we only had one night to get a lot done but we worked well together. When he removed the old flooring, Craig found a few spots where the window had leaked. The window itself was replaced before we moved in so the problem had been fixed but the floor underneath was weak in a few spots. While Craig replaced those floorboards, I worked on the insulation and listened to Craig alternate grunts and groans with whoops and hollers as he listened to the Yankees and the Tigers battle it out. I'm really glad the Yankees lost or we might have hammered us out of a house.

We gave in and started cleaning up around 11pm but both of us had made pretty good progress. Craig needed to do a bit more sawing to finish up the floor and I needed to do a bit more insulation but was waiting on the floor since he was in the way :-) But by then, Lucy has woken up and was having trouble going back to sleep so I nixed the sawing idea and we headed to bed. Hopefully, Craig will get all that done Monday because the drywall guy comes Tuesday!

I'm really excited about getting the drywall done because the room will start to look more like a room again and hopefully the level of dust in the house will start decreasing. Right now it is threatening to take over unless I sweep 4-5 times a day. But on the positive side, all that practice means Lucy is actually getting pretty good at sweeping and holding the dustpan for me.

Here is a photo:



Going, Going, Gone

We got rid of the tv last month. Technically, it was a 6-week no tv trial but Craig and I both knew that once he went through the trouble of disconnecting everything and taking it downstairs, it wasn’t coming back.
It’s removal has been a long time coming. I knew I didn’t want Lucy watching tv and for over a year, I was really really good about not having it on when she was awake. She knew what it was since it is on for my mom a lot at her house but she never really seemed to notice or care. But then this spring she got sick and I got sick and out of desperation, I picked up a baby signing time dvd from the library. She loved it. It got me through that week but a little part of my soul died. Okay, that’s a little melodramatic but I really hated her watching it.

It isn’t that baby signing time is so bad. In fact, if I had to pick an “ideal” baby television show, that would be it. Its not flashy or annoying, just 4-5 sweet songs with babies signing about pets or snacks or feelings. But I saw how mesmerized she was by it. She didn’t learn any new signs from it, or interact with me when I would try and show her that our kitty was sitting next to us just like the kitty on the screen, she just stared out into space, like a little zombie. I finally got better and the dvd went back but she was persistent. For weeks she would ask for it (by signing baby and dancing) everytime she saw a tv.

Over the summer I read two different Waldorf books. I’m not a Waldorfian but I did find myself agreeing with many of their opinions on media. And I realized, this is probably the easiest it will ever be because only 2 of the 3 of us is really used to a world with a tv. So if we wanted to do it, now is the time. So we did!
Turns out, it was a lot like getting rid of our microwave. It took a long time to decide to do it and I worried about how hard it would be (on me, not Lucy) but once it was done, it was an easy adjustment. Every once in a while I crash onto the couch after I get Lucy to sleep and finish the last laundry'/dishes and I instinctively reach for the remote before I realize it isn’t there. Then I pick up a book or a project or – here’s a crazy idea – I go to bed and actually get some sleep!

We can still watch stuff on the laptop. We had a date night and curled up on the couch with “The Grace Card” from redbox and once Psych starts up again, we’ll find time for that as well. And I still let Lucy watch baby signing time clips on youtube on certain occasions (such as nail clippings or temperature taking). But since we only have one computer, it really has to be a joint decision to sit down and watch a show instead of just watching because we aren’t creative enough to think of something else to do.

The trial has come to an end and last Saturday the cable man came and disconnected us so tv-free we are for at least the foreseeable future. Now I just have to find a way to fill my ginormous armoire.

What about you? Have you ever thought about ditching the boob tube or have you already? Or maybe your addicted and you like it that way?


A pretty picture

I was a good girl and started the kitchen project with the important things like a practical layout and lots of storage. But that isn’t the fun part, the fun part involves colors and textures and design!
I love interior design and spent my senior year of high school torn between pursing architecture/design and a science degree. I’m glad I went with science, mostly because I did not have enough fashion sense to survive at a design school, but I’m glad I get the chance to explore my creative side a bit more now. But it is a tad bit intimidating. Designing a kitchen is more of a commitment than picking a paint color and I did not want to get this wrong!
Luckily for me, Pinterest came along at just the right time. I had been trying to mentally keep track of the kitchens I liked, but it wasn’t until I saw it all laid out on Pinterest that I felt confident in my vision – both that I knew what I wanted and that I wasn’t a weirdo for wanting it.
See if you can spot the similarities between some of my favorite inspiration images:

 This one evens comes complete with a husband and baby – but mine are cuter :-)

  • White cabinets
  • Dark grey/black counters
  • Wood floors
  • Pops of bright colors, specifically yellows and blues/greens
While my confidence might have been a bit shaken my the H.D. lady going on and on about how black countertops would be too much of a contrast with white cabinets and how I would regret that decision – I say poo-poo. I know what I want and, at least theoretically, it’s gonna look goood.


Another Update

Thank you all for your prayer's and support. I'm home again but just for a couple days, then I'm heading back to my parent's to spend time with them and my brothers. We know my mom's time here with us is winding down and I don't want to miss any of it unless I have to.

I actually have several random posts written from before this last trip so I'll probably set those to publish over the next week or two, I just wanted to tell you so you aren't wondering about the timing or why I am writing about such shallow things. I'm not sure how much I'll be writing about my mom's situation, it depends on how I feel, but my dad will probably update her caringbridge site fairly often.