Friday, January 30, 2015

Blooms

I've been on a Trader Joe's binge lately. They opened in Colorado almost a year ago, but it took me a long time to actually visit the store because I'm not a fan of crowds. (It was very crowded for the first few months after it opened.)


One of my favorite things about Trader Joe's is the fresh cut and reasonably priced flowers.  But I don't buy them; I just admire them and dream about spontaneously purchasing some.

However, I was finally swayed by the amaryllis kits in November. Not QUITE fresh cut flowers – but still something that might bloom. They were so inexpensive. I worried that something was wrong with them. I might be throwing away money. But it did bloom! I LOVE blooming stuff in the winter. Also, there's something about patiently waiting for it to bloom that makes it all the more lovely.

The christmas cactus is pretty happy, too. Must be all the neglect it's gotten since Trixie was born. Honestly, there have been several casualties among the houseplants in the last two years.

Speaking of casualties the first of the crocuses (croci?) are due any day now...except. Except. I've noticed an awful lot of rabbits hopping around our yard. "Liquid fence!" My mother tells me. But I'm not into the idea of battling the rabbits. It's one thing to plant hope, it's another thing to go to battle. Spending money on repellant so that I can spend MORE time spraying stuff around the yard every two weeks just to keep the crocuses blooming after all the time spent planting the crocuses...when does it stop? I think I'd rather do something else. Maybe I'm giving up too easily. But sometimes, you should listen to Mother Nature, you know?

See, I'm not much of a gardener after all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Diversion Links

My phone is so hopelessly outdated that I try not to be caught using in it in public. Maybe this guy feels the same:


(The original tweet is here.)

This makes me smile. But you may want to think twice before you give your munchkins new words to a familiar tune. Better yet, save it for the next snow day.


Noah and Mattias are big fans of this video. Spoiler Alert/Assuring Voice: the squirrel survives.


(That's all I've got for now.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reverberation & Holes

I always forget: disruption in the schedule reverberates for a few days before and after. Fritz came back from Germany, but then there was so much work for him to catch up on that he was barely home. The kids stopped being sick, but they stopped being sick slowly, not like someone switched a light and they were suddenly better.

So anyway, NOW, now we are finally back to what feels like a normal routine. Today there is a huge storm in the northeast and my parents and brothers are probably feeling pretty miserable: BUT! here, in Colorado, the forecast says 70s. Noah begged me to wear shorts today and I let him. Although...I fussed about the shorts enough that he packed a pair of jeans in his backpack to appease me.

I hope this is a nice, long January thaw, because I really want to sit outside and soak it up for several days. For now, I refuse to look at the extended forecast and see my hopes dashed.

The renovation continues to move along. I've never been on the client side of a project like this; I find it quite fascinating. It feels almost too easy to just sit here and let someone else do the work (and worrying)! I kind of like it, to be honest.

(Photo of Mattias and Noah starring at holes in the floor)

That said, the electrical and plumbing work are not nearly as fun to watch as demolition and framing. Seemingly random holes are popping up all over our house. I find it disturbing. Every new hole I think about all the work to fix each hole and make it blend in with the wall/floor/whatever and I feel...grumpy. We won't be the ones fixing it. But sometimes, I'm not sure how I would fix it, if I had to. Which concerns me. How will they fix that? I wonder. Is the future floor going to creak in that spot? 

Wait! Didn't I just type that I'm not worrying? Clearly, I'm worrying some. Well. It's still easier than doing it ourselves.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Holding down the Fort, Spaghetti Photos

This past week, Fritz went to Germany, while I stayed home with the kids. Fritz went for his mother's 70th birthday party.

Fritz referred to his trip as three days, because that's how long he was in Germany.

Fritz's mother kept saying that she hoped his arriving flight wasn't delayed because he'd miss his return flight.

To me, the trip was five days, because I fed the kids and tucked them into bed five times without Fritz.

During the time Fritz was gone, Mattias got sick, had to be picked up at school, and then didn't head back to school for the rest of the week. Trixie caught whatever Mattias had. She went through a 10 hour span of throwing up (or dry heaving) every 30 minutes, because, you know, toddlers can barely hold it together when they get stomach viruses. Noah didn't get sick, but only partially managed to keep his newish-defiant-on-all-fronts-attitude in line.

I was in a pretty dark place by the time Fritz finally came home.

At some point in there, my aunt called and asked "How are you doing?" in the most emphatic way you can imagine. But she didn't know about Fritz being gone or the kids being sick. She was talking about the renovation.

Right, the renovation.

My mother informs me that renovation is one of the most stressful things a marriage can go through. We're on week two of construction. Maybe the construction will get worse. But for the moment, construction seems effortless next to getting all that stuff packed away and a traveling father and stomach viruses. There's noise and dust with renovation; but we have a lot of those things with the kids, anyway.

My parents ask for construction updates.

Framing upstairs is substantially done. Electricians are untangling "the spaghetti" today. (That means they are relocating all the wiring for switches, outlets, etc.) Here's what it looks:

New bedroom from the "outside"

New bedroom from the outside again.
I narrowed the bedroom a little from the plan because when I was walking around up
there post demolition, I decided I wanted the entry to the bedroom hallway to feel a wee bit more gracious. 
Entry to the bedroom area. Perfect example of "spaghetti"
hanging in the middle of the entryway
More gracious than the old entry was,
and more gracious than my drawn plan.
Hallway to the bedrooms, bathroom. Used to be a closet.
From the new, enlarged bathroom into the hallway.
Linen closet is against the white wall at the far end of the hallway.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Demolition

Demolition can go fast.

It's noisy, it's messy, but it's so very exciting (to me). I stand amid the dust and see that I made the right decision. YES. It's an improvement, for sure.

I have to refrain myself from sitting upstairs watching the progress. Nevermind sitting, give me a crowbar, I'll pry off some drywall, too.


I sneak up there a couple time a day, balancing Trixie on my hip, just to see.

Not everyone feels the same. Fritz didn't express a desire to go upstairs when he came home.

Mattias opted for the lego table when I invited him to come up with me.

Noah crept behind me. Then his voice got rather weepy and he informed me that he liked it just fine the way it was before. Why do we have to go and change it?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Stuffed

Somehow this weekend, we managed to get an enormous amount of stuff packed away and out of the way for construction to begin.

Basement 
Upstairs
One of the biggest debates Fritz and I had was whether or not to use the garage for storing stuff from the basement. Fritz wanted to use the garage. I wanted to put the basement stuff upstairs, adjacent to the renovation, in the space which we weren't going to be using anyway. Fritz didn't want to haul everything up another flight of stairs. I didn't want to give up my parking spot in the garage in the middle of winter.

The kids were mostly well-behaved all weekend. Once or twice we had to rely on this babysitter. I'm sure you've met her.

(Photo of kids staring mindlessly at television)

I won the garage argument. Although, I think we both lost in having so much STUFF in the first place. I wish we'd done a better job purging. Somehow, in the pressure to just get it done, we stopped being selective enough with what stays and what goes.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fourth Bedroom

We begin our renovation project on Monday. The project is really more like two projects: converting part of our second floor loft into a bedroom and (partially) finishing the basement. It's been more than two years since we started planning changes to accommodate Trixie's arrival. This is the last of the larger puzzle pieces. We're doing the basement and fourth bedroom at the same time so that in 4 more years we don't have to go through the same upheaval that comes with framing and studs and pipes and ducts and electricity and drywall.

At the moment, I care a lot more about the bedroom than I do the basement. So let's talk about that.

The plan below shows the second floor as-is (old: 2 bedrooms) and as it will be (new: 3 bedrooms).


The goal was to add a fourth bedroom in such a way that it would cost less money than moving. I based my comparison on the costs of realtor fees versus the contractor's estimate. (Of course, people can and do sell their houses without realtors, but not many....) I didn't factor in that a new house might have a higher purchase price or the cost of moving.

Generally, we're really happy with the house and it's location. It's big enough, too. It just needed some redistribution of space. If we could change the floor plan, get rid of some wonky things and thus make the house a little smarter for our family: additional bonus! I think the new plan does just that. Keeping the price down meant I didn't make changes to exterior walls, didn't make major moves to ductwork, and kept the plumbing in basically the same location.

The so-called loft space is really just a big, open space on the second floor. There's nothing about our "loft" to make you dream of being a childless city dweller the way the word "loft" is prone to do. This is just drywall and a regular height ceiling. It's been nice to have the space, but we really don't use it effectively and most of the time it's a TOTAL MESS. It's so big that it takes a solid hour or more to get it picked up and vacuumed/swept. Initially, we loved it. Now, I'm not going to miss it.

We're losing some closet space in the new plan. Closet space is nice, but I find I don't need so much for kid's bedrooms.

I can't wait to get rid of the stupid squirrelly hall into bedroom 2. That was a really wasteful feature of the original plan.

I'm excited about having a hook up for a stacked washer and dryer on the same floor as the bedrooms. Since it will be in the boy's bathroom, I have dreams of teenage sons doing their own stinking laundry. The actual washer and dryer will have to come later: it's not in the current budget, and I'd rather keep the existing washer and dryer in the basement.

I'm also looking forward to having a bathroom with a shower that is NOT ensuite. (Ensuite meaning that you walk through a bedroom to get to the bathroom.) I didn't think much about this when we bought this house, but it turns out ensuite bathrooms are not great with (my) little kids. The kids have a tendency to hide out in the bathroom playing boats in the tub/sink, or worse. For the same reason, I did not want a jack-and-jill bath. As an aside, I would actually choose to have fewer bathrooms in this house: I'm considering locking one bathroom door in the future and making all the kids use the same commonly accessible bathroom.

Did you notice the funny jog in the corner of the new bedroom? That was necessary for accessibility at the top of the stairs. I think it will look less awkward in 3 dimensions than it does in the plan. We shall see.

The office area and the sitting area are preserved in the new plan. Both of these spaces work really well for us already. Fritz and I love our facing office desks. And the sitting area has windows in four directions, which makes it a really lovely, light-filled space to hang out in.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Holiday Break Segue

My (former) neighbors – on two sides – had daughters. Before they moved last year, they gave me boxes and boxes of hand-me-downs. It's been a treat to have so many hand-me-downs! Trixie gets to dress up for all sorts of special occasions that might otherwise go without a special outfit. Here's New Year's Eve:

(Photo removed, because I do that. Often.)

Oh, man. I can't get enough of those gold dots. So funny. Close up:

(Another removed photo.)

Also close up, here's Noah's science fair project:

(Another removed photo.)

That would be figuring out how many Legos a helium balloon can carry.

(Another removed photo.)

I, personally, had notoriously unscientific science fair projects as a kid. For example, What makes better brownies: butter, margarine or oil? I was much more interested in finding a question I deemed "cool" rather than employing a scientific methodology. So Fritz is helping Noah in a appropriate way (I guess) with this project.

(Another removed photo.)

 I can't help listening in, however. Umm. I'm not entirely sure a second grader should be doing a science fair project. Maybe it's more like father-son bonding. Or maybe it's putting all Noah's fancy math problem solving skills to good use:


Noah's reading abilities are also coming in VERY handy this break. He's comfortable picking up most of our children's books and reading them to the Trixie and Mattias. THIS IS SO COOL! Let's not jinx anything, but between you and me, the kids are at a point where they entertain each other a quite a bit. <Sigh of relief>

(Removed photo.)

We entertained ourselves with the Raclette Grill again on New Years Eve. Nothing fancy; we didn't even buy raclette cheese. (We used cheddar.) But the kids thought it was special and that was all we needed.

(Removed photo.)

This break, Mattias needs only Legos to be happy. I'm so tickled by the ideas he comes up with. Here is Santa's sleigh. As you can see, he improved the design for additional storage and helpers.

(Removed photo.)

Ostensibly, Mattias and Noah play Legos together. If you watch carefully, "playing together" means that Mattias does most of the focused work, while Noah creates subterfuge in the background. Kind of like in the photo above. At least Noah comes by his mugging talent honestly.

  (Removed photo.)

This is a beautiful cherry cake with real holly decoration that my aunt made for my birthday. It was delicious!