Thursday, January 31, 2008

Work Day 19/Calendar Day 25 - bwahahahahahahaha

(Gretchen does the happy dance throughout the first floor of her house, a jar of peanut butter in each hand)
And the (wood part of the) floor is 99% finished, just one strip left by the back door and a few filler pieces to go under the dishwasher.
Oh, and MLF - it's taking so long because the contractor is doing a 200% better job at this than I ever would. Each piece has to be inspected for flaws (we've got at least a dozen reject planks), sorted to go into an appropriate place in the floor based on color and length, cut to size if necessary (and the saw is out in the 10-degree garage), glued down the length of the seam, set carefully in the glue that's been applied to the floor, tapped into place, nailed into place, then cleaned off with mineral spirits to get off any glue that seeped up.
And that's AFTER the floor has been prepared, which involves chiseling up anything that isn't perfectly level, countersinking any screws that are sticking up, adding extra screws to any part of the floor that squeaks, vaccuuming, and applying the glue. All in all, better him than me.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Work Day 18/Calendar Day 24 - Daaaaaaaaaamn, guys!

My boys were haulin' ass today. We might be able to stop tiptoeing around glue blobs by the end of this week!

Um, yeah

While playing with Bristle Blocks:

"Look! I made a nutcracker doll! Whoops, his leg fell off. Here, you hold his other leg, and take off his lifejacket, and take off his lifejacket but leave on his hat, and take off his lifejacket but leave on his hat, but leave on his hat! Now put his legs back on. I'll hold him and you put his legs back on. I'll hold hiim and you put his legs back on. I'll hold it! You put his legs on! Right! There!"

"Thank you."

Now I've seen everything

My daughter just produced a poop that was split into two colors exactly down the middle lengthwise, light on top and dark on bottom.

Thankfully, I flushed before I thought to grab the camera, because, come on, we all know that if I'm willing to post 30 days of pictures of my garden and another 30 of my kitchen, a poop picture is bound to creep in here at some point.

Need a Valentine's Day gift?

I've got you covered:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Work Day 17/Calendar Day 23 - I can handle this

We're back to one guy installing the flooring, and he had to wait until lunchtime for the extra glue to arrive, so things are moving slowly on that front.
That's probably a good thing, because every time he finishes more of the floor, I have to be more and more careful not to track any of the miscellaneous glue splatters onto the new flooring:

On the positive side of things, the contractor spent this morning attaching the knobs and pulls to the kitchen cabinets, which means I can start to actually load stuff into the upper cabinets, because they're done. D-O-N-E. Done! Woohoo!

Jason didn't have to leave for the airport until later this morning, so he had a chance to check out the new hardware. He had never even seen it in a catalog or anything, so I think he was relieved that I didn't choose replicas of shrunken heads or anything (shucks, those were backordered - it would have given the place such a nice tropical feeling).

Going back to the whole Simple Abundance thing, one of the ways we're supposed to be finding our authentic self is to make a scrapbook of pictures of things we like, or of things that remind us of how we'd like to be living.

I've been keeping one since we lived in Japan 10 years ago, and I just looked through it to see how close my kitchen comes to the pictures I've pulled out over the years. Variations of those little cup pulls on the drawers show up in nine of my kitchen photos, along with drawers for the pots and pans, drawers for the trash and recycling, racks to hold the cookie trays upright, beadboard doors, white cabinets with colored countertops, and almost exactly the same shade of blue/green/grey that we picked for the walls. I haven't looked at this book in close to a year, and yet I managed to get all of that in my tiny kitchen remodel.

Guess I know what I like and stick with it, huh?

Now I can't wait to go back through the other pages and start ripping out things that no longer appeal to me. Then I get to go buy new magazines to rip up for inspiration - huzzah!


I've started reading Simple Abundance again. Basically, it's a series of 365 essays on how to live a life that's authentic and true to what really matters to you. I keep the book in my bedside table, and since I first discovered it a long time ago, I tend to pull it out when I'm feeling scattered and dissatisfied with how my life is going. I've found in the past that the author's ideas really help me stay centered and focused on what really matters.

The first principle that the author discusses is gratitude for what we've already got - basically acknowledging that it's easier to be happy with what we have than it is to get everything we think we want. There are a number of low-key exercises she recommends, including a "gratitude journal" where every day you write down at least five things for which you are greatful. I've still got some of my old gratitude journals, and the entries run the gamut from "I got a promotion!" to "I didn't die today - yet."

I haven't been too good about following her exercises this time around, and I haven't started working on my official gratitude journal, although I have been trying to take a minute to think of five things I'm greatful for each day before I go to bed. One of the essays I read last night (catching up for a few days of slacking) suggested that I make a quick list of 100 blessings in my life.

"Yeah, right." I didn't think it would be quick at all, but since I've been slacking so far, I decided to give it a try. I managed to write down 50 things I was greatful for or that I consider to be blessings in my life before I ran out of time and had to go to bed, and that took maybe 15 minutes. I'm sure I could have managed to get the full 100 if I'd had the time and inclination, although the final 25 would have been a bit of a stretch (#79. Air).

The trouble I ran into is that a) I'm inherently pessimistic, and b) I'm a bit superstitious. So not only did a lot of my blessings fall into the category of "bad things that haven't happened yet," but I was sort of reluctant to write down the best stuff because I'm afraid I'll jinx myself. You know, write down that I am really enjoying my daughter at this stage of her life because she's so fun and it's such a great scientific experiment to see how she's developing her personality and her quirks ... and then the following day she turns into a little hellion I'm aching to foist off on my mother-in-law (Hi, Susie! Hope you liked the photos yesterday! Want to come visit for a month?).

I actually didn't write down "I didn't get the stomach bug that felled every other mom I know" because I was afraid to jinx myself ... and then I spent an hour getting way to familiar with the inside of our bedroom trashcan around 12:30am. Part of me thinks, "See? You didn't write it down, and the bad thing still happened, so you didn't jinx yourself." And the other part says "See? I just thought about it and the bad thing happened, so I'm doomed to suffer."

Not sure where I'm going with this. Maybe I'll get around to finishing the list tonight, and post the complete compendium one of these days. I haven't bothered to do any of the "100 things about me" memes here, so I suppose it would be good for filling space when I don't have anything else to talk about. In the meantime, anyone else want to list a few things off the top of your head that you consider blessings in your life?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Work Day 16/Calendar Day 22 - Creeping

The hardwood is creeping toward the front door ...

... and the appliances have started creeping their way back into the kitchen.
I found out today that our tile guy is supposed to be coming next Wednesday to do the backsplashes and the entryway floor, and his work will probably take two to three days. And the electrician can't come to install the finish electrical stuff until the backsplashes are installed, so we're looking at at least two more weeks before everything is done.

Snow Day

Liza's reward for making it through storytime at the library without raising a ruckus: a trip to the river next door. This week I remembered to bring the camera ...

I can't figure out why it takes so long to walk down to the river ... oh, yeah - we have to stop to contemplate every single leaf that isn't covered in snow.


Perfect hiking clothes - bellbottoms with inset paisley velvet panels!

Compare with earlier video of the same area.

For my mother - yes, I kept a viselike grip on her 90% of the time when we were anywhere near the river, and I showed her how to scrape off the snow to make sure we were standing on rocks, not ice.

The other 5% of the time - come on, it was too cute to pass up.

Squeaky snow is perfect for snowmen ...

... and throwing snowballs (joke's on her - the snowballs kept sticking to her gloves, so she'd try to throw them at me and they'd just sort of plop off 2" in front of her) ...

... and eating, of course. From the pristine snow on top of the bridge, which had no tracks or discolorations anywhere near it, and was only sampled 1/2 of the way through so we didn't get any bridge scrapings. And it tasted exactly the way snow tasted when I was a kid, pollution be damned.


I am upstairs in my office.

My chocolate is downstairs in the guest bedroom.

In between ... lots and lots of goopy gluey flooring, and a piece of painter's tape that's a not-so-subtle reminder that I'm NOT ALLOWED TO GO DOWNSTAIRS RIGHT NOW. No matter how much I want that chocolate.

must ... not ... lick ... wrappers ... in ... trashcan ...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lowered expectations

I bought a swimsuit today. At the first store I went to. After only going to the fitting room once. With a two-year-old.

Amazing how easy that is to accomplish when your only requirements are "does it cover my butt?" and "will it stay on when I go down the waterslide tomorrow?"

Work Day 15/Calendar Day 19 - "My Preciousssssss"

One of the contractors brought a surprise with him today - all of the tile and grout we ordered, including the slate for the entryway and the field and accent tiles for the backsplash. Liza was very interested in checking out all the boxes from the safety of the stairway, where she was banished until all the heavy lifting was finished. She is particularly enamored of the slate "rocks," which she kept petting whenever she walked past the pile.

Me? I'm enamored of the accent tiles. They're one of the things that I think are just drop-dead stunning about our sort-of-on-a-budget kitchen, so the dust hadn't even settled on the box before I had absconded with one "to take with me to coordinate the color in case I want to buy curtains for the kitchen window."

Uh-huh, that's what I was doing ... not keeping it in my front pocket and pulling it out frequently to pet it and call it My Preciousssss. Really. It's not like I called my parents and Jason to tell them how beautiful it was. Nope, not at all.

Well, not much. Besides, my parents were half asleep when I called, so that only counts as half a call, right?

Ahem. In other news, wow, does this look great or what?

I just want to go and roll around on it, it looks so awesome. Good thing we're going to be busy this weekend - that could get messy if I tried it before the glue was dry.
After a full day of two guys working on it, all of the worst parts of the kitchen and dining room are finished. Things will slow down a bit next week because they'll have to shift some furniture and pull up the rest of the carpet and prep the floor before they can start the flooring. Given the amount of grumbling about the flooring I overheard today, they'll both be thankful for the break.
Before I give you a two-day rest from kitchen photos, let's revel one more time in the wonder that is my glass tile:

There - now don't you feel refreshed? But you can't have it! It's mine! My Preciousssss!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Work Day 14/Calendar Day 18 - Bedeviled again

The electrician had an unexpected opening in his schedule today, so he came by to start doing some of the finish electrical work (hee - Swedish cabinets and Finnish electrical work).

Since the electrician needed to work all over the kitchen, the carpenter couldn't install more flooring today (boo!). Instead he worked on getting more of the fiddling detail work done. I thought it made a huge difference, but when he got home, Jason didn't notice anything beyond the dining room chandelier being hung up again - not even the newly-installed microwave oven with its extension cord draped across the room.

Yahoo! Now I get to run to three rooms to cook meals for my family!

Upper trim

Lower trim

Lights under the counter


final trim on the can lights

ParentHack - Recycling waste construction paper

We're burning through the construction paper at a good clip, given the pace of holidays over the past few months and the fact that Some People are learning to use scissors. I like to let the not-quite-three-year-old go about her business without too much guidance from me, but I can't leave her without supervision lest I return to a kid we'll have to call Stumpy (or a sofa cushion we'll have to call Trash).

So I sit there, noodling around and trying not to tell the kid what to do, while she creates mountains of useless paper scraps.

That was pretty boring, until I realized that I could use the time to use the die-cutters I found at the dollar store to create confetti that we can use for other projects later on. The cutters are too hard for the kid to use, so they've been sitting in the back of the craft drawer, but they're perfect for putting all those quarter-sized pieces of scrap paper to use:

All those red and white hearts and stars are what I got out of the leftover paper when I used two sheets of construction paper to make a garland of big hearts to string up in our window. I'm planning on keeping them in plastic bags and pulling them out next time we've got the glue out so she can have lots of stuff to stick down. And they've already gotten use as regular confetti: "Look, it's snowing LOVE!"

Using the die-cutter seems like a perfect companion activity - it keeps me involved in what she's doing, but not doing the same thing so she's not trying to compare her results to mine. Plus, it keeps all that paper out of the trash, at least until after it's glued down to something a few weeks from now!

Pleased with myself

Looky! New SWAK blankets up in the shop, including one made from fabric I love so much I'm tempted to pull the listing so I can keep it and snuggle with it myself!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hmmm, if only I hadn't removed that wall in the dining room

I'd have room for one of these:

I can't decide if it's hilarious or grotesque, but I find it strangely compelling.

Work Day 13/Calendar Day 17 - The glue hits the floor

8am this morning:

4pm this afternoon:

Sybil, when you and Matt install hardwood in your house, do whatever it takes to convince him to use the nail-down stuff instead of the glue-down version. Coersion, bribery, withholding sex, threats of divorce - whatever it takes.

The contractor, whose nickname should be "I-Don't-Mind-Putting-On-Five-Coats-Of-Joint-Compound-To-Get-This-To-Look-Perfect," has been working steadily since 8am, and this is how far he got. Apparently you get blisters from troweling on the glue, which doesn't smell too bad but sticks to everything in the general vicinity of where it is applied, and once you're sticky, it's all downhill from there.

I have to give the contractor credit - this sort of installation would have me cursing up a blue streak, but I think the only thing I've heard him say is "I hate this stuff." I hope he's saving it all for the car ride home, because nobody can bottle that sort of frustration up forever, and I don't want his head to explode tomorrow afternoon.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to manage to keep the cat and the kid out of the kitchen and dining room (which can't be adequately fenced off) for the next 48 hours. Maybe I can just lock all three of them in the basement until Monday ...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Work Day 12/Calendar Day 16 - The Doors

When we leave the house to go to dance lessons or preschool, my daughter now sticks her head in the kitchen and tells the contractor, "If you need us, we'll be back at lunchtime."

All done and leveled and attached, except for the trim and toekicks. I'll be calling IKEA tomorrow morning to find out what they'll be doing about the two doors we received with dings in them and the package of hinges we're missing. Other than that, it looks like we got everything, and in good shape.

Spent an enjoyable few minutes with the Corian contractor this morning, talking about ogees and radius curves and backsplashes. Who knew there were still so many decisions left to make? But we now have a template of the countertop, which should be available in 7-10 business days (hopefully sooner).

Tomorrow: Flooring installation!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Parenting Cliff's Notes

"Oh, and in case she asks, Noreen is the magic Coordination Fairy that lives in her bottom dresser drawer and helps Liza and Mommy pick out outfits that match."

Thanks, chief, I'll keep that in mind.

Noreen?? I'd have gone with Stacy or Clinton myself.

Work Day 11/Calendar Day 15 - ductwork and doors

At first glance it might not look like much got done today, aside from a few doors getting hung:
But the devil (and the largest amount of today's work) is in the details, such as rerouting an HVAC vent to come out under a different area of the kitchen:
And making the custom ductwork to vent the range hood out of the house:
Next up: Level the wall cabinets, install the molding, hang the rest of the doors, and the Corian guy comes tomorrow to template the countertop.


Verbatim transcript of the computer-voiced script I heard when I punched a wrong button while on the phone with my insurance company:

"Hmmm, that information doesn't match my records. Please re-enter your eight-digit policy number. ... And your zip code again?"

Since when do computers say "hmmm?" What's next?

"Listen, doofus, pay attention and hit the right keys this time, or I'll cancel your insurance and convince your DSL to run slower than your mother-in-law's dial-up."

Oh fu....dge

This is the third time in four days that Her Royal Highness won't take a nap.

Crap crap crappity crap. I do NOT want her to give up her nap now, even if it means we can push bedtime an hour earlier. I need that sanity-saving toddler-free hour every afternoon. NEED. IT. BADLY.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

More dress-up goodness

She can't decide if she's a bride or a Fly Girl.
Funny how much tackier this looks than the exact same outfit made in hot pink.

Geeling on the Ceiling

So, painting the ceiling did, indeed, suck. But it's done, and it was at least marginally tolerable, thanks in large part to Visible Solutions, the color-change ceiling paint from Sherwin-Williams*. Paint goes on a purply pink, but it dries in 20 minutes or so to plain old white. Not too bad about splatter, either, thanks to a formula that's thicker than pancake batter. Not fun to get into the nooks and crannies of a textured ceiling, but at least it wasn't running down my arm at the same time.

Liza was tremendously disappointed that it didn't stay that color permanently. Jason was disappointed that he has a lasting reminder of his fun with the giant roller today ...

"Not only did I get a blister from rolling so much, it just burst all over the extension pole. Blech."

And we're both excited that we managed to prime and get two coats of paint on the whole kitchen without screwing up any of the new cabinets. That could be because we're awesome, or it could be because none of the cabinets are actually touching the walls with any surfaces that will be visible once the trim and cover panels are attached next week ... you be the judge.

And yes, we did go ahead and slap a coat of paint on everything, including the areas that are going to be tiled for the backsplash, mainly because I was sick of it looking all spotty and half-finished.

I told Jason yesterday that the thing that's going to kill me about this project is that virtually nothing will be complete until the last day or two ... you can't finish the upper cabinets until you hang the trim and paint the walls and put in the hole for the exhaust fan, you can't finish the lower cabinets until you install the flooring, you can't install the sink until the countertop is installed, you can't touch up the paint until the tiling is done and the baseboards are in place, yada yada yada. I like projects where I can check things off on my list as I go along, and then not have to deal with them again during the project. This isn't one of them. Good thing I'm not the one who has to do all this stuff!

*Yep, it comes from the company that employs my husband, but that doesn't mean I'm lying about how it works.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Work Day 10/Calendar Day 12 - Pass me a paintbrush, Paul

Final coat on the drywall repairs, beginning to add doors and drawers to the lower cabinets. Freaking out cats.
Most of the cabinets are draped because this weekend Jason and I will be priming and painting the 10 square feet of kitchen that won't be covered in tile or cabinets, and we'll painting the ceiling of the kitchen, living room, and dining room. This will be the first time we've ever painted a ceiling, and we're both prepared to hate Hate HATE the job. On the positive side, we got the color-change ceiling paint, so watching it dry should be fun.
On the contractors' to-do list for next week: Install hardwood in kitchen-living room-dining room, install slate in entryway, measure and template the Corian counters, etc.

Hello? It's Aunt JeLiza calling ...

" Hello? It's me. I was just calling ... I was just calling ... I was ... Oh, okay. Bye!"

Yep, those silks are getting a LOT of use. Toga! Toga! Toga!