The Finished Bathroom

Today I visited someone who recently moved into a house built about the same time as mine.  They bought it and fixed it up in about a 9 month period.  Maybe shorter, I don't know.  It still needs some work on the exterior, but they are about 95% done on the inside.  And apparently the husband did almost all the work himself.

So what I want to know is, HOW??  I know we have pretty much slowed to a stop in the last few years, but it took me 7 months just to finish my bathroom and I was working HARD.  So how did he do it?  I have to assume ours was in worse shape overall, and it is a little bit bigger, but none of that accounts for us being THIS much slower.  I think he is a warlock.  I've just come up with this theory, but I'm sticking with it.  No regular old muggle could throw together a renovation like they managed to in such a short amount of time. So that makes me feel better.  Like I always say, if you ever meet someone who can do something you can't, just assume they practice magic!

Since I've mentioned it, you should know that we did actually FINISH our upstairs bathroom.  See, if I know anything, I know that the best way to build suspense is to make people wait.  It has been months since I told you anything about my upstairs bathroom, so you must be DYING by now.  Exactly my plan.  Now that you are all at the point of death, this is the perfect moment to show you my totally, completely 99% done bathroom.  (I just thought of two things I need to finish).

BATHROOM!

Finished Bathroom 01

That is a picture of the finished shower before we put the shower doors on.  Now that the doors are on it is hard to get a picture to show you what the inside of the shower is like.  But I tried.

shower tile1

Anyway, that is the best you are going to get.    There are two shower heads, one on each side, and a bench, and it really is pretty great.  After I tiled the bathroom floor I was exhausted and I thought I'd be fine if I never tiled again.  So we hired a friend to tile the shower.  He got the ceiling done, but then he couldn't finish until Richard built the bench, and he couldn't build the bench until the cows came home, I guess.  It took so long before we were ready to have the rest of the shower tiled that I started getting excited again and I stole the project back from him and finished tiling the rest of the shower myself.  I feel a little bad about that.  But I'm extremely pleased with myself at the same time.  So confusing.

The tiles look better in person, I think.  They are called "Cebu" by Arizona.  Same brand and line as the ones on the floor, just in a different color.

And here is the shower door!

finished bathroom 02

If you noticed that the main light fixture in the following pictures is different than it used to be, you get $10.00!  The cabinet doors JUST brushed the bottom of the previous light fixture.  It was sort of working, but then, following one rambunctious bath some of the wood (a.k.a. particle board) on our Ikea cabinet started warping, so we raised the cabinet up and put it on top of a PVC frame. No more water damage for us! But that extra half inch was more room than we had to spare, so we replaced the light fixture.  You still with me?

finished bathroom 03

I had been concerned that the bathtub would make the room feel cramped, but of course it doesn't, since it only comes up to knee height.

finished bathroom 04

As it turns out, I love my stenciled walls.  I thought about writing a whole post teaching you how to stencil, but I decided it is really unnecessary.   You're all clever, resourceful people. The very best thing I figured out was THIS

adhesive

Krylon Easy-Tack Repositionable Adhesive.

I started out using repositionable adhesive made by Martha Stewart because I think the stencil company recommended it, but hers is half the size and costs twice as much and really doesn't stick that great.  I was very nervous trying an unrecommended can of spray adhesive, cuz who knew what havoc it might wreak, but it changed everything.  Finally the stencil was sticking to the wall.  Finally I had enough adhesion to get into the corners.  And it still came back off the wall again with no trouble at all. It was wonderful.  (And apparently it contains harmful vapors, so that probably explains the hallucinations.) So if you find a brand that is cheaper, try it out.  Just be sure it is REPOSITIONABLE, or all heck will break loose and you will want to kill me.

My other stenciling tips are these:

1. Practice. After you do it for a little while you'll get the hang of it.
2. Don't be afraid to paint over it and start over.  It if isn't working out, just try something different.
3. It is ok if it isn't perfect.  It isn't going to look like wallpaper and that is how it should be.  There were a few places I went back over and touched up by hand, but most of the slight imperfections are part of the deal, and part of what makes it beautiful.  And if a section of your wall is going to be covered by art or a cabinet, start there, so your first few mistakes will be covered up.

And of course check for level and stuff.  These instructions do not guarantee your success if you choose to ignore common sense.  Actually these instructions don't guarantee anything.

finished bathroom 05a

I really like the vanity countertop.  We knew we were going to have to find a way to save money somewhere, and after searching and searching through countertop remnants, we ended up doing laminate.

finished bathroom 08

I bought the laminate  in a big sheet from Lowes for just over $80.00.  Then Richard built the wood countertop and we cut it out and glued it on.  For about $100 total, I'm very pleased.  But then I've never minded laminate.  I'm a simple girl, really.  What I DON'T like is the square sink from Ikea.  I would go upstairs to take a picture of it for you, but I'm pretty sure I'd have to clean it out first, and it just doesn't seem worth it.  Let me see if I can find a picture online. Ah, here it is.
LILLĂ…NGEN Sink, 1 bowl IKEA Can be used as a shelf for a soap dish and toothbrush mug, thanks to the shape of the edge.
With the drain on one side like that, the stuff in the opposite side never washes out very well.  I wouldn't do it again, given the chance.

Ok!  So here are a couple little additions I am really loving:

finished bathroom 06a

The Bottom half of the cabinet is used for laundry.  Colors go on the left, Whites go on the right.  I chose this cabinet specifically because I wanted something deep enough to keep laundry baskets in.  And when my 3 year old is getting ready for a bath, and I watch him open the cabinet and throw his dirty clothes in the basket, it warms my little heart.

Lastly this:

Finished Bathroom 07

We put an outlet in the wall behind the vanity and then attached a power strip inside this drawer with double sided tape.  Nothing we haven't all seen before, but it really is wonderfully handy.

And that my friends, is it.  The whole darn bathroom.  Now when I am tired of crumbling plaster and exposed 2x4's, I can go hide out in the bathroom and pretend like the whole house is finished and my life is perfect.  That is perfectly normal behavior, right?

Valentines and Treasure Hunts

I find the best way to stay on top of a holiday is to plan a whole year in advance.  I will take all the inspiration I got on Valentine's day, and as soon as Valentine's Day is over I'll use it to plan for next year.  That gives me the rest of the year to forget all about it.  It really works like a charm.

I don't like Valentine's day.  I didn't like it when I was single because I was single, but even now that I am happily married I still don't like it.  All the pink and the hearts.  All of the obligatory expressions of affection.  The hours of waiting to be seated in a restaurant, the stuffed animals, the cheesiness, the unrealistic expectations, the doilies, the store bought valentines, etc. etc.

One of those things alone would be fine.  Pink = great!  Pink in addition to giant stuffed Mooses with hearts for antlers is just too much.  I think it is a holiday on par with St. Patrick's Day in regards to pointlessness, but the world tries to act like it is as important as Christmas.  For that reason I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare it the dumbest holiday IN THE WORLD!  This is what blogging is for, you know.  To make ridiculous, found-less statements, based on opinion and emotion.

At least, that is how I used to feel.  These days, though, I don't mind it so much.  I really like making valentines with Harrison.  This year we made some for Colin too.  And I love our new Valentine's traditions: Candlelit Dinner at Home with the boys followed by a Treasure Hunt!.  I was actually looking forward to Valentine's Day this year.  And because I want to eliminate gratuitous clicking, I'm going to recap what we've done in the past, in the hopes that it might inspire those who hate Valentines day just as much as me.

Valentines To Make:

DYNAMITE VALENTINE


Here is a tutorial for the tutorial lover in you:
  1. Buy smarties.
  2. Cut red construction paper the width of a package of smarties.  
  3. Wrap construction paper around smarties and secure with tape or glue or chewed up gum. 
  4. Put 3 wrapped smarties together and wrap some black electrical tape around the whole thing.  
  5. Cut black electrical wire into several pieces about 3-4 inches long. 
  6. Make a note to stick on top.  These were made using the Sound FX Font.  
  7. Stick the wire between the smarties, and tape your note onto the top.  

If you don't feel like making your own tags and you WANT your Valentines to say "Kaboom" (who doesn't?)  you can always use these:




ROBOT VALENTINES:


These are even more self explanatory than the last ones.  I can't remember what candy I used for the body, but candy in little boxes like that is not hard to find.  I just hot glued all the pieces together.  Blamo.  You could probably find a way to make the robot without legs, and save yourself a little more money.  But here is the robot face I made, if you like that kind of thing.

Candy Robot Face green mouth copy
Just copy and paste that a bunch of times into a word document and there you go.  You could even add some cute words, like: 


yeah, I couldn't come up with anything great, but I'm sure you will.


Then last year we made these:


I didn't come up with them.  I didn't even take that picture.  Click on the picture and it will take you to the page where you can download everything you need to make them.

Again this year, instead of using our depleting brain cells to come up with something original for Valentines, we turned to the power of the internet.  We picked a couple we liked and let the kids choose between them.  Here are the ones we made for Harrison:

airplane valentine


They are airplanes.  Can you tell?  You can see a tutorial on Spoonful.  Theirs are cuter than ours, but since these were for school, we had to keep our mints inside their wrappers and it ruins the effect a little.  But Harrison liked them.  That's all that matters.

harrison valentine

I printed the note on top onto full sheets of label paper and then stuck the labels onto the side of the gum wrapper that opens, so it held everything together nicely.  And if you want to do the same, here are the labels I made, complete with space at the bottom of each label for them to sign their name.
airplane valentine
There are very faint lines around each label to show where it should be cut.  If you can't see them and need help, send me an email and I'll do what I can.  You are important to us.


Here are the ones we made for Colin:

superhero valentines

Super Heroes.  Big Surprise.  These can be found on Zakka Life, with printables and all.  Valentines DONE.


TREASURE HUNT

Sometimes a girl doesn't have the energy or wherewithal to come up with her own clues for a treasure hunt.  And last time I looked I found very few treasure hunt ideas online, so I'm gonna share with you what we did.  We've done this for three whole years now, so I've got a crap-loads of experience under my belt.

Here is what we did the first year:


Which idea I got from Serving Pink Lemonade.  Click the link for more clue ideas.  Here are the other clues I used:

I think you are getting cuter.
Look behind Daddy's computer

This heart is a pretty red.
Look under a tall, black bed

You're I.Q. is getting higher.
Check the place that holds the fire.

Valentine's is very groovy.  
Look inside where we keep movies.

You're so smart it isn't fair.
Go look under Mommy's chair


Last year I did a Picture Treasure Hunt. I took pictures of things as close up as I could and then printed out all the little pictures and used the pictures themselves as the clues.  Like so:

picturetreasurehunt

I thought they were too easy, so to make the fun last, I did about 40 of them.  But they weren't that easy after all.  Richard was ready to kill me.  10 would have been perfect.  For boys my age, 10 is the magical number.  Now I know.

This year I used QR Codes.

qr code

 I found a QR Code maker (QRStuff.com) entered my clues into the generator and out popped my codes, all ready to go.  Here are my clues, with answers underneath in italics.  These clues are tricky, and I didn't want you to have to think more than was necessary.

Twas Valentine’s evening and dinner was through.
3 boys were running, looking for a clue.
The 1st clue is hidden under a black bed.

The next one can sometimes be found on Dad’s head.\
(Richard's Hat)

The very next clue wants to have F.H. E.
He thinks it’s his turn to teach you and me.
(Family Home Evening Chart)

Clue number 4 likes to stay cool,
(The Fridge)

Clue number 5 dropped his kids at the pool.
(Toilet)

This clue likes warmth, he always wants more. 
He spends all his time down on the floor.
(Heater Vent)

This clue wants to eat, he’s hungry for dinner,
(Dinner Table)

The next clue keeps checking to see if he’s thinner.
(scale)

And this is the last clue, the very last one. 
So go sit on the couch and relax!  You’re done!


And poking out from under a couch cushion was the prize: a movie and some chocolates.  I taped the little printed out QR Codes all over the house, and when the kids found them, they would stick them on their forhead so their Dad could scan them.  New Tradition Born.  


scanning code


Harrison kept saying it was the best night ever, though probably his favorite part was the Candlelit dinner.  And it turns out that spending Valentines day with my kids is really what made me finally like the holiday.  They are fun.  They think the stuff we do on Valentines day is fun.  How can that not rub off on me a little?

The Non-Update

Now it is January 29th.  It has been two weeks since my last post.  And our contractor did meet with the architect and he made all the changes we needed him to make and then we decided to make ONE more change.  I know we should have just left well enough alone, but we didn't. So now it has been 2 weeks with me calling people every day to see if the change is possible and if they will draw it up for me and leaving messages and sending emails.  I think the stress of never getting anywhere is getting to me.  I hope I can hold it together a little longer and I REALLY hope my sanity returns when the house is done.

There is an unexpected twist though: All our loan paperwork is going to expire.  Did you know that could happen?  I didn't.  But this is all taking so long that that is exactly what is going to happen.  We'll have to give the bank updated everything and in another month they'll have to do a whole nuther appraisal.

Even though nothing ever seems to happen, I know that each day that passes brings us one day closer to what "might" "possibly" be a new kitchen.  And I think my kitchen knows it.  And it does not intend to go quietly.  Besides our malfunctioning kitchen faucet (as seen here) things have started breaking on almost a weekly basis.  Cabinet doors are hanging off their hinges, drawers are coming off their tracks, their fronts are falling off and bottoms falling out.  The butter knives have started sliding right out of their drawer every time my back is turned.  The handle on the microwave has busted halfway off, the tiles on my floor are cracking, breaking, coming loose and sliding out of place and my high-tech garbage can, which has a step-open lid with a lock on it, has taken to jumping right off the can whenever I step on the peddle. And SOMETHING is up with my fridge.  The freezer door barely stays closed anymore and pops open every single time you close the fridge.  I've come down in the morning sometimes to find the freezer door standing wide open.  And in a turn of events I can only assume is related, it is now having additional problems.  There is a solid sheet of ice on the bottom that is getting thicker and thicker by the day.  I cleaned it out once, just to find it was back in force the next day.  And every time we open the freezer now, a big puddle of water ends up in front of it.  I'm not sure how to call a repair man and tell him my freezer has continence problems.

Doesn't this stupid kitchen know that if it wasn't giving me such a hard time I wouldn't be as anxious to get rid of it?  It's like a kid before bed time.  If only they would be quiet for a few minutes, I might just forget they are even awake, but they just do not know how to shut up.



HOWEVER, as anxious as I am to tear this Kitchen to the ground, I am also afraid.  Afraid of Finishing.

1.  My children are the Great Destroyers.  They are the reason we can't have anything nice.  What if the second I get my new cabinets put in they color all over them with permanent marker?

2. I blame everything on this house.  Every sadness, every disappointment  every bad day.  And while, yes, this house frustrates me to no end, when it is done, I'm still going to have bad days.  What will I blame it on then?

3.  What if I am bored?  This house has been our every Saturday, every spare dollar, every summer vacation for 10 years.  I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself without it to work on.


So that's what is going on with me.  Okay.  Enough whining.  Time to go make dinner.  Peace Out!

It's a Brand New Day

Out of the blue, and for no apparent reason that I can see, I suddenly feel like blogging again.  I don't know why.  And I don't know if it will last.  It is totally possible that I will write every day for week, get bored, and quit writing again for another year.  We'll see.

But blogging is different now, don't you think?  Google Reader is dead and with it went the links to all my blogs and I just haven't found the energy to find them again. I don't read blogs anymore.  Except my mom's.  Cuz she's special.  (And the reader I use to do it it is this one: NextReadr.  It is great.  You should check it out of you don't yet have a reader you like.)  Does anyone read blogs anymore?  I'm gonna say no.  No one is reading.  Which is perfect for me.  Having an audience makes me nervous.  

Blogging is different and I am different and it felt like time for a fresh start, so now the blog is different too. Earth Shattering, I know, but you'll get used to it.


So, why am I here?  Well I'll tell you.  And I haven't written in 9 months so there are a lot of words stored up in my fingers dying to get out.  This might be a long one.  You better hold on to your boots. 

Every time I want to write about my house or post pictures about it and complain about the state of my poor kitchen, I am overwhelmed with a sense of crushing guilt.  Some people have real problems.  I mean, I have real problems too, don't get me wrong, but my kitchen isn't actually one of them.  It is just stupid.  And a stupid kitchen never hurt nobody.

So please internet, just keep in mind while you are reading this that I am grateful to have a kitchen.  I'm grateful to have a house.  I"m grateful for my blessings and know that they are many.  I'm also glad that soon I will have a DIFFERENT kitchen, and hope that it is OK that I am using my money to pay for a new kitchen and not to feed people in 3rd world countries.

Or does the fact that I feel guilty mean that it is NOT ok?

Whatever.  It is too late for guilt.  Events have been set into motion that cannot be undone.

Ha.  I wish that were true.  I feel like every single step of the way I am Conan The Barbarian pushing against that giant wheel with all my might and nothing will ever happen if I don't keep pushing.

Let me lay down the series of events for you:

We were married May of 2002, and moved into a tiny little apartment.  We loved it.  Though it was a bit crowdy:



A block or so away from our apartment was a cute little house for sale.  We fell in love with it.  We took several tours of it and started making plans for how we were going to fix it up.  Cuz it needed lots of work.  New Roof, new water main, new everything.  They were asking $80,000 for it.  We offered $60,000.  They declined.  And we decided the amount of work necessary wasn't worth paying more than that for the house.  So we gave it up. But by then we had the bug.  We wanted to buy a house.  And we wanted one that we could fix up.  What the heck would we do with a house that didn't need any work done on it?  Just move into it and live in it like a couple of idiots?  No Way!


So then we found this one.  Richard wanted brick and we wanted a yard and this house had both:






And it certainly needed some work.

As you might think it WAS a little terrifying inside, but our eyes were so full of stars and paint chips that all we could see was potential and we bought it anyway.  Because we are completely delusional.

We moved in and spent our first night in the house on Christmas Eve 2003.  There were no ghostly visitations or anything.  Turns out it is just a regular old crappy house, not the haunted kind.

So then we started fixing it up.  Worked on it every night when we got home from work.  Worked on it all day every Saturday.  Went to Friend's, Family's and Neighbor's houses to shower and use the bathroom.

Eventually we got the bathroom and kitchen working and then we slowed down a little.  Started working on it only on Saturdays.   And then we had kids and things slowed WAY down.  And here we are 10 years later and the house is not done.  We NEVER thought it would take this long.  If we had any idea it would take this long I don't think we ever would have bought it.  But we're here now.  2 kids and 70 pounds later.

About this time last year I started to despair.  We were making pretty solid plans to tear off and rebuild our kitchen.  And I started to think it was impossible.  The amount of work that needed to be done and the amount of time we had available to do it were at complete odds with each other.  How were were ever going to do this alone?  Especially when I really started working to finish the upstairs bathroom and it took SEVEN MONTHS, a whole brand new kitchen just seemed like a crazy dream.  I tried to keep it to myself though, cuz what choice did we have?

But on June 17, 2013 while we were eating breakfast, Richard said in the middle of the night he had an epiphany.  We were never going to be able to finish this house by ourselves.  And he really wanted the house to be done by our 10 year anniversary.  So we decided to hire someone else to finish it.  Hallelujah!

In July 2013 we found a contractor.  Our Neice's Father-in-Law.  We were happy, but first we had to have the plans drawn up so he could give us a quote to see if it was an amount the bank was willing to give us.  It took about 5 weeks, but the architect finally gave us the finished plans and we discussed them with the contractor and it was going to cost WAY MORE THAN WE COULD AFFORD.   We then spent the next several months reworking the plans, and waiting to hear from the architect and the contractor and then reworking them again then waiting again until we finally have a a remodeling plan we can afford.  But it means we don't get a garage and Richard will have to do all the electricity and plumbing, and we have to finish all of the existing house ourselves.  Yea.

The next few months passed with more waiting and more calling and more emailing copies of plans and more waiting and here we are, January 16th.  Our 10 year anniversary of moving into the house has come and gone. But we are just waiting for the architect to finish the final copy of the plans, and I think our Contractor is meeting with the architect right now to finish them up so maybe we will be able to move onto the next step sometime soon.  I never would have guessed this part, the BEFORE part, would take 7 months.  If you decide to build a house or an addition, it is something to keep in mind.  Try to estimate how long you think it will take, and then times that by 57.

You'd think all this waiting would make me a patient person but no luck on that so far.  Which I think means there is no hope for me.

This is probably enough for one day.  I've got more words, but maybe I will save them for tomorrow so as not to overwhelm your tender minds.  But I'll be back.  And least one more time.  Tune it tomorrow to find out of the contractor called us.  Who knows?  Stranger things have happened!

And of the song from Dr. Horrible's is not still running through your head, it probably should be.  Here You Go.

The Diary of an Infertile Woman

This is a somewhat fictional account based on my experiences.  Lots of the details, dates and names have been changed, because I felt like changing them.  

Beware: The contents may not be appropriate for all audiences.  If you don't feel comfortable with the words Sex, Sperm, or Mucus, you may not want to read it aloud to your 6 year old.   Also, it is LONG.  Sorry about that.


January 1:  So this is it.  We have been having unprotected sex for a year today and now we are a officially an infertile couple.  We have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.   With a specialist.    I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to see some stupid doctor.  I don’t want to deal with this.  I’m nervous.  Can’t I just get pregnant so I don’t have to deal with this?   Ugh.  I hate facing my problems.  But Richard is sick of me moping around and figures we ought to see if something can be done.  Humph.  Darn him and his decisive actions.

January 2: Well, we had the appointment with a fertility specialist. We told a man we don't know all our most intimate secrets: Yes, we have been having unprotected sex for over a year.  Yes, I get my periods regularly. Yes, we are pretty sure we are doing it right. Brendan was cracking jokes like he discusses his sperm with strangers every day. The doctor reviewed our test results with us, pointing out the problems and discussing options and treatment in a very soft, pleasant voice, but what he was really saying suddenly hit me all at once.  This isn't a fluke or a quick fix or a simple problem of intimacy.  We can’t get pregnant.  We can't get pregnant.   Not without some really serious intervention and the chances are pretty crappy even then. The air in the room started to feel thick. My ears got heavy and I couldn't swallow. I had to dig my fingernails into my palm to keep myself from falling right through my chair into the hole that opened up in my heart.

How can something be wrong? I’m healthy. I've always been healthy. And I want kids. People get pregnant all the time that don’t want kids.    Shouldn't those who want them get them? All I want to do is be a mother. How can this be happening?? I feel like I have been betrayed by my body. I've had to deal with the pain, inconvenience and anxiety of a period for over ten years and it was all for nothing? I can’t seem to think anymore. My hands are shaking so bad I can barely type. What are we going to do? What am I going to do?

January 10: Cried for the last week straight.  Last night Richard made me dinner, cleaned the house, did all the laundry and bought me flowers. He's so nice, especially since I know this isn't easy for him either. I really should try a little harder, for his sake.  But I don’t know how to deal with this.  Unless crying counts as dealing.  If it does, I'm dealing with it like a pro.  

January 27: Ok.  So we are infertile.  Whatever.  That doesn't mean we're sterile.  Who does that doctor think he is anyway? I went to the library and checked out several hundred books on fertility and read them all. Now I’m not sure if the source of our problem is a vitamin C deficiency, hormones in our chicken, not enough breaths of fresh country air, or my choice in laundry detergent. I guess I'll have to read some more.  Richard tried to convince me that all the girls he knew in high school who spent all their free time reading were not the ones who ended up pregnant.  

February 12:  We started a cleanse that I am really hoping will boost our reproductive systems: Beet Root and Molasses. I, for one, am really excited about this! But I think Richard might want to kill me. It is clearly a testament to how nice he is that he is both eating the beet root and not complaining about it. We have also started a vitamin regimen, and a very strict exercise schedule. We are going to have the most well functioning bodies the world has ever seen! I am not ready to give up yet!

February 28:  Got my period.  I don’t know how long it is supposed to take before my body starts functioning like the perfect machine that it is supposed to be, but I am starting to suspect the cleanse was a dud.  Stupid beet root.  I wonder if Richard would be above going to a witch doctor?

March 3: Am I being greedy? My life is good. We have so much. I love my husband. Shouldn't he be enough for me? Shouldn't our love be so complete and all consuming that I never need anything more? I really, really love him. But it’s like there is this whole separate compartment of my heart set aside for loving a child. Because it is not getting used it is dying from the inside and spreading to the rest of my heart like a disease.  And it seems wrong for me to feel this way.  Which makes me depressed.  I am such a mess.

March 16: I figured since the library and its wisdom failed me as far as fertility cures go, it was time to turn to the wisdom of the internet.  And boy did I find some good advice:
  • Rub the belly of a pregnant woman.  (That seems like a service they should really be charging for.)
  • Drink the same water as someone who is pregnant.  (Tomorrow I will be sneaking into my local Lamaze class and going to town on their water bottles.)
  • Pluck the feathers of a hen during the new moon, and then spread the feathers in a circle.  Have intercourse on the full moon feathers and you will conceive. (Also, you will get feathers up your bum.)
  • Capture a little dirt from where your man of choice man has walked (without his knowledge) and bake it into a cake that you both eat. This will ensure that you carry his child. (And will ensure that you both eat dirt, which adds excitement to an otherwise boring meal.) 
  • Stand in the rain in view of a rainbow for a full 10 minutes. Sleep with the wet clothes under your pillow for two weeks and then wear them again during intercourse. (And what man isn't into moldy, smelly, wrinkly clothes?)
I read these to Richard over dinner and he almost choked in his broccoli he was laughing so hard.  He thanked me for cheering him up and I told him we'd just SEE who was laughing after we tried the rainbow trick.  That one is gold, I know it is.

April 4: I just had another conversation with the old lady next door about our disturbing lack of offspring. She tried to convince me again that children are a joy, worth all the sleepless nights and messes. I wanted to say something obnoxious, but instead I just nodded a lot and told her in solemn tones that she is probably right.  Despite what you think, Nosy-People-of-the-World, I do not have to tell you my business if I don't want to!

April 25:  I cannot seem to make myself schedule another appointment with the fertility specialist. It just seems so bleak. And I cannot continue hoping every month. Every time I get my period I die a little. Every time I hear a baby cry I nearly start lactating.  I’m tired of waiting with no end in sight. Today we started to talk a little about adoption. Just as a possibility. I've been thinking about it for a while but haven’t brought it up because I thought Richard would hate the idea. But he doesn't.  He was even a little enthusiastic about it, much to my surprise.

April 29: My Period is a day late. I am never late! Maybe just considering adoption was all we needed to do!!  

April 30: Got my period. When will I learn to quit hoping?

May 2: I heard a lady say 3 times today that she gets pregnant every time her husband looks at her.  Apparently he is so fertile it is actually coming out of his eyeballs.  Maybe they could channel that fertility like a laser beam into a bottle and sell it on the side of the road.  I'd buy some.

May 4: Called the adoption agency and set an appointment to meet with a case worker. No commitment. Just to see what it is all about.

May 8:  We went in for our meeting at the adoption agency today, and while we were there I felt a peace I haven’t felt in almost a year. By the time we walked out the door we had a packet of paperwork in our hands. I guess we are going to fill it out and see what happens.

May 9:  Started filling out the paperwork.  Holy crap there is a lot of paperwork. I feel like we should have been warned. 

June 23: Have I mentioned that there is a lot of paperwork? Surely this rivals the physical pain of childbirth. They want to know everything: How I feel about myself, how I feel about my husband, how much money we make, how much money we spend, how I feel about how much money we spend; our hopes, our fears, and what wonderful parents we think we will be. We have to get fingerprinted and have background checks and document nearly every moment of our lives. Will it ever end?  

We are supposed to write a letter to our prospective birth parents, including a section all about the wonderful traits of our spouse.  I finished my part of the letter, writing all about Richard in just a couple of days, but I could not get Richard to sit down and do his. So I finally decided to write it for him. If he wasn't going to toot my horn, then what choice did I have but to do it myself?  "Elesa is the most amazing person I have ever met” I wrote,”and without her in my life, I wouldn't have the strength to go on living. She is beautiful, and kind and loving. She is smart and funny and the best dancer ever. Her grace and intelligence daily bring me to tears. She is just so totally awesome!!" I proudly read the letter about myself to Richard. Within an hour he sat down and rewrote it.  Reverse Psycologied!

June 30: We have started telling people that we are planning to adopt. I’m not even sure when we made the decision, but it just all feels right. And everyone has been so nice and supportive. We have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice on how to conceive, as well as awkward questions about our intimacy that Richard find hilarious.  I had a more graphic conversation about “tips and tricks” with my aunt than I ever wanted to have with anyone. I can’t figure out why sex is mostly a taboo subject until you’re trying to get pregnant, and then it's everybody's business. 

July 9: The past few weeks have been crazy busy. We've gone to a bunch more interviews where we've tried our best to seem both charming and responsible. We've put together picture collages of all the educational and fun things we do together. Then they came to our house. They claim they are mostly checking for safety, not cleanliness, but it seems like cleanliness can only help us at this point. We cleaned deeper and more thoroughly than we have ever cleaned anything before. Richard kept telling me that our case worker wouldn't get down on all fours and check behind the toilet, but what if he did?  So we just kept cleaning and I guess it paid off because our case worker was satisfied.   I was hugely relieved. And exhausted. And then Richard made me cookies and we turned off our brains and watched TV the rest of the night.  

July 27: We just got The Letter! We are approved for adoption!!! The last three months have been exhausting but it is over.  They have given us their stamp of approval and all we have to do now is wait for someone to choose us as the future parents of their unborn child. What could be easier?

August 28: I have never known impatience before now. Has it only been one month? 

August 29:  Our case worker has told us that we shouldn't just wait to be chosen by a birth mom, we should actively try to find one of our own.  It's a good idea, but we're not really sure how to do that apart from approaching pregnant women on the street.  And I don't think they would appreciate that much.  Richard suggested going to a local bar and buying drinks for young girls, but I told him that wasn't even slightly funny and smacked him on the arm.

August 30: Saw not one but TWO teenage girls buying pregnancy tests at the store today.  I spent several minutes nonchalantly following them around trying to figure out how to tell them that I wanted it if they didn't.

September 26: Still waiting. Our case worker likes to remind us that this can sometimes take up to 3 years, so I am trying to be patient. And I am failing fantastically. In my head I know that we have not been in the adoption pool long, and that waiting is part of the package, and that it won’t be forever. My heart, on the other hand, thinks that it already has been forever. And it is not interested in listening to reason.

October 18: Went out to dinner with my college roommates  Every month I listen to them talk about being pregnant and giving birth. Which is fine.  Just because I have a problem shouldn't mean they have to watch everything they say.  Tonight, however, someone said, “There is nothing worse than being pregnant.”  I wanted to punch her in the face.  I still want to punch her in the face, but I really try not to do that to my friends anymore.

October 31: This afternoon we had a routine visit with our case worker. We made small talk for a bit. Then he smiled and handed us an envelope. Inside was a card. A birth announcement with a sweet, handwritten note inside: “My name is Amy and I have chosen you to be the adoptive parents for my baby. He is due December 10th.”  

I bawled.  Richard and I hugged each other and cried and I thought I might not ever be able to stop.  I can't believe this is really happening!  Oh, great.  Now I am crying again.

November 5: Pregnant ladies claim they have the corner on brain-deadedness, but I believe that it has more to do with expecting a child than it does with actually being pregnant. Ever since we read the card from Amy my mind has shut down.  I can’t complete a sentence, I've burned several dinners, and started running over people with my shopping cart. There is always just this other thing to think about that is so much better than anything else that is going on.

November 6: Tomorrow we are going to meet Amy. How do we prepared ourselves for something like this? How do we dress for something like this?  What kind of clothes say “Fun, happy, successful couple who will be loving parents, competent teachers and perfect examples”?  I think I am expecting too much from my wardrobe. What if she changes her mind??

November 7: Today we met Amy.  And I don’t think either of us have ever been that nervous before.  About 5 minutes into the meeting, though, the nerves were gone. Amy said she knows we are the right couple, and she is sure this is what she wants to do. She is nothing that we expected and everything we need. There is a tangible bond between her and us. It still doesn't feel real to me. She is due in a month.  My brain doesn't know how to process this.

November 17: Richard and I wandered happily around Babies-R-Us for a good 2 hours today. Then we went to the mall and I tried on some maternity clothes, just for kicks. Tomorrow I am going to try nesting for a while.   

November 26: This is my last childless Thanksgiving. I don’t think I will miss it at all. But I am glad for all the time alone with Richard. And it is so fun to watch him get excited for this. He has built a tiny little work bench in the nursery, because it is never too early to learn to use power tools!

December 17:  Yes. It is the 17th. Amy was due on the 10th. No baby yet. But she emails every day to keep us posted. The doctor says he doesn't think it will be before the 22nd, so we might as well keep busy till then.  Thank goodness for Christmas to keep us occupied.  Well, mostly occupied.  Sort of.  Sometimes.  I cannot wrap my head around the idea that next week there will be a baby in our house.  That we will be parents.  And the suspense is killing me!

December 21: He's here!  He's here!  Harrison was born this morning at 4:00 am.  He weighs 7 lbs, 11 oz, is 19" long and healthy as can be.  We're on our way to meet him right now.  We're going to meet our baby!

December 21:  We just got home from the hospital.  Amy seemed so excited for me to hold the baby. Our baby. Our Harrison.  We all exclaimed and cooed over Harrison's every wrinkle. Seeing that tiny baby in Richard's big arms was almost more than my swollen heart could bear and I nearly broke down again.  We never wanted to set him down.  But after a couple of hours we kissed him and her and said our goodbyes so that Amy could have as much time as possible with him without us in the way.  

December 23: Placement.  It was over so much quicker than I expected it to be. We exchanged gifts and then Amy held Harrison one last time.  She told him she loved him and then started sobbing.  Part of me wanted to yell at her just to keep him, that we couldn't put her through this. Then she braced herself,  looked at me, and said through her tears, "Here you go, Mom", and placed him in my arms.   Then she hugged me hard, told Richard and I she loved us while we both cried and said we loved her too, and then she was gone and we were left alone. With Harrison. I still can’t believe it. My joy is overwhelming, but my heart breaks for Amy.  I hate that my happiness came at the cost of so much pain for her.  I know we didn't do this to her, and I know if it weren't for us she would have just picked someone else.  But I feel like we took her baby away and it is killing me.  How can I be so sad and so happy at the same time?

December 25: We are parents.  I am a mother. The waiting is over and the real adventure is ahead of us. We waited so long, and hurt so much and suddenly he is here and our lives are different in every way. That hole in my heart is gone. The hole in our lives is gone, filled in an instant by a baby because of a girl with the guts to give him to more.  

I feel like I've been holding my breath.  Watching everyone around us breathe and wonder why that basic bodily function was denied me.  I wanted air so desperately that every inch of my body was screaming for it and I couldn't understand why I didn't just pass out. 

And now, suddenly, we’re parents.  We brought him home and put him to bed and while I fed him in the middle of the night it hit me that it is my turn.  That this is real.  I took a deep breath and oxygen seeped into every inch of me and I finally know what peace feels like.  And I know what joy looks like because I am holding it in my arms and staring into its sweet face.  

And this is only the beginning.


The Boy Who Pooped: Tales from the Depth of the Latrine

I really like my title for this post.  The rest of the post is going to seem like a disappointment after a title like that. So don't get your hopes up.  I'm not really going to tell you loads of potty training war stories.  Because no one really wants to read about cleaning poop off of things.  Do you know how hard it is to clean poop off of walls?  I do.  I wish I didn't, but I do.




I started potty training Colin this month  He is almost 3. After I potty trained Harrison I learned that having a Just-Potty-Trained kid is SO MUCH WORSE than changing diapers, so I've really been in no hurry. But I want him to go to preschool in the fall and I've started to feel like the time is right so on April 2nd I just up and Started Potty Training. We've had a naked little bum running around the house for the a while and he figured some things out really quick.  He would dribble into the potty almost every time I asked him to. When we went camping his daddy taught him how to pee standing up and he came and told me "Me pee on a rock!  Wub it!" And then he figured out how to hold it and now he can keep his underwear dry for several hours at a time.  He still won't tell me when he has to go, but if I send him to the bathroom every couple of hours he can stay dry all day.  Except today when he went through 7 pair of underwear.

Potty Training in my experience is like one step forward, one step back, over and over and over again for the first few days or weeks or months.  You just think you are making progress, and then they come and tell you gleefully that they peed in the kitchen.

I think what makes potty training so hard is that you have to rely almost solely on your own smarts.  Actually, that is what makes everything about parenting hard.  You can read all these books, and get all this advice from your mom and your neighbor and your Aunt Beebop, but then you actually try all this stuff out and it doesn't work.  All of these clever parenting tricks don't seem to work on your Borg baby.  And even when you do find something that actually works to calm him down and get to him sleep, he adapts to it, so it won't work a second time.

With parenting, you are just left to your own devices.  You know how you want your kids to turn out, but how to get there from here is a complete mystery.  It is like trying to make a cake without a recipe, after watching a couple of cooking shows.  "well, I remember them putting in some flour, and I know I like sugar so lets put lots of that in.  Hmm, what else?  Maybe milk?."  And then you still feel like something is missing so you go online and look up advice on cake baking and you see someone has written a book about how important it is to cook the cake for the right amount of time and different techniques to inserting a toothpick to test doneness.

A very interesting read, no doubt, but ultimately useless cuz you don't know what you are doing!

Ok, not a perfect analogy.  My point is that every single step of parenting is a mystery, and even on your second kid none of the same stuff works so you are still just as clueless.   A cat will just fall alseep anywhere, but a baby will scream and scream and scream despite your rocking and your bouncing and your singing and your sanity rather than fall asleep.  What is that about?


And then you have to teach your kids to use the toilet.  It really is madness.

Everyone always says that girls are easier to teach to use the toilet than boys.  I always thought that was because girls are smarter or less stubborn or something.  BUT NO.  It is because when a girl sits on the toilet to pee, the pee goes in the toilet.  When a boy sits on the toilet to pee, the pee can really end up anywhere.  ANYWHERE.  And you can try having him stand up, but that can be just as much of a crap shoot - literally - and you just simply have no control over events!

But I've also learned that if I don't give up and just keep sticking them on the toilet they WILL make progress.   That is the miracle of life.  No matter how hard things are, if we keep plodding along the best we can and sitting on the toilet from time to time, things do work out.  And sure, just when everything starts to look up, you find a tiny pair of superman underwear full of poop hiding in the corner of the bathroom.  But you count your lucky stars that you found them in the bathroom, and not hidden behind the couch like last month.  And maybe next month you won't find any poopy underwear at all.  See, there is always hope for the future.

Now if I can just survive the next few months of bodily waste and washing underwear everything will be swell!

Potty Talk

Richard got better and look what happened?


I probably shouldn't tell you this, but that stencil I used was actually the 3rd one I tried.  I'd love to say that after painting a small sample section of this one on the wall I just knew it was the one, but I didn't.  I COULD NOT decide.  They all seemed equally good.  So in the end I picked this one in this color combination because it meant I didn't have to repaint the sample I had just done.  It was the easiest.   I think sometimes choosing your spouse works the same way.


If you're thinking you recognize that vanity, you are right.  It is Ikea's Hemnes dresser.  Will it be sturdy enough to stand up to all the abuse it will no doubt get at our hands?  I don't know.  Will we regret using it?  Quite possibly.  Is it too late to be doubting our choices now?  YES.

At this point, my heart and soul really feel like we are done in here, but my brain keeps screaming at them that we are not.  Nobody ever listens to my brain though.  It rants and rants all the time and my face just sits there with a blank expression plastered onto it like usual.  Here are the things my brain insists we still have left to do:


 ONE:
 We've got to put a sink in there. That means cutting the drawers and all the rest so that it will fit and the drain will fit and the drawer fronts will still fit in and junk like that.


TWO:
We've also got to put the counter top on.  Those things don't install themselves ya know.  It won't come in for another week or more though, so I guess we won't be washing our hands anytime soon.


THREE:
We've got to hang the mirror, hook up the outlets, and hang the rest of the pendant lights.  I like how you can't even see the pendant light in that picture.  All it is is a glowing blob hanging from the ceiling.


FOUR:
I've got to paint the door.  And we've got to install the "doorknob", or whatever you would call it on a pocket door.  After I closed the door to take a picture of it, I almost couldn't get it opened again.  Good thing there is a toilet in there now, or I might have panicked.


FIVE:
We've got to attach this cabinet to the wall, and put on its doors and what not.  This would be easier if my tiling job had been more level.  But it is really too late to be criticizing my work now.


SIX:
We've got to put up the wainscoting in that little corner up there.  It would probably be smart to do that before we attach the cabinet to the wall.


SEVEN:
We've got to put up drywall and wainscot over here. I bet you thought we just forgot that spot.  But we can't do anything with it until we install some shower knobs on the other side or something.


EIGHT:
We've got to put the bathtub in, right there.The bathroom is so big and spacious right now.  I hope the bathtub doesn't crowd the heck out of it.  Before we can put the bathtub in though, we've got to get it refinished.  We were going to try to do it ourselves, but we are just too tired.  Luckily we found a guy who says he will refinish it at half his normal cost because his business is so slow right now.  Hooray for the economy.


NINE:
Last of all we have the shower, which is a whole nuther bag of cats.  It sort of makes me want to cry just thinking about it.  And then I remember that everything I stress and worry about really doesn't matter and that I am shallow and ungrateful.

So that is where we are right now.  Yesterday was Saturday and I had big plans for all that we were going to finish but then it snowed and for some reason we didn't finish anything.  I don't know why A led to B, but I know that it did.  Snow has repercussions we sometimes to don't expect.

And That's All Folks!

BATHROOM: Update

Hello my friends.  No doubt you are all extremely curious about the state of my bathroom.  Or else you forgot all about it.    I did seriously considering lighting the room on fire, but then I would have to keep going all the way downstairs to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.  And arson is wrong.  So they say.

Words are hard.  Less Talky, More Picture.  Here we do:


Drywall!

We finished this at about 11:00 pm  on a Tuesday.  Which almost killed my husband.  The next day he was so sick he couldn't get out of bed.  Strep throat, the doctor said.  I didn't know that remodeling can give you Strep, but it turns out that it can, so beware.

With Richard sick in bed that left me to do all the mudding, texturing and painting by myself.  I started to wonder if maybe he got sick on purpose.  It was all just a little too convenient.


I wanted to be happy after I finally got to paint.  That is my favorite part.  I should have been thrilled.  But all I could think about was how much work there was left.

For example, Tiling:


When we decided to do the Herringbone pattern DIAGONALLY I said to Richard "Will we regret this?"  And he brushed it off saying "What haven't we regretted about this project so far?"  I laughed.  Ha ha!  Good Point!

BUT I did regret it.  A lot.

I thought big tiles would go in faster.  But they don't.  They are big and hard to manage and heavy and immature and unwieldy!  And that Herringbone pattern was tricky.  And doing it on the diagonal was insane.  I wanted to come up with tips and tricks to make tiling easier for any of you who feel inspired to follow my example, but the only advice I have is DON'T.  Just don't tile at all if you can help it.  It was hard.  And it took FOREVER.


I really am happy with how it turned out but it was about 24 hours of tiling labor altogether.  24 hours.  I worked 12 straight hours one day, stopping at about midnight because I ran out of tile.  I ordered another box and when that came in I went at it again and finally finished about 1:30 am.    And it certainly isn't perfect, but considering how much trouble it was giving me, I'm really pleased it came out as well as it did.   I am so glad the tiling is done but can we put the toilet in yet? NO.  There is still more to do.  It is official.  Bathrooms are the worst.

I decided, back when I still had energy, that I wanted to stencil the walls.

Here is how the bathroom looks today:


Well, no.  Technically, THIS is how the bathroom looks today.


But don't ask me about the books.  I don't want to talk about it.

And I'm stuck.  My favorite bathrooms all have patterned walls.  We picked the colors and I painted the base coat and then put one piece of stencil up and Richard said "No.  Strike that.  Reverse it."  I had to agree with him, so I bought more paint and repainted all the gray walls a lighter gray, with a plan to put the darker gray on top.  But I started thinking the dark gray would be too dark and I didn't want the color contrast in the design to be too severe, so I lightened up the gray and that is how it turned out.

I DO like it.  And if it was easy I'd be like "Boo Yah!" (which I can totally pull) but I'm not completely in love with it.  And for how time consuming it is, and for how crazy impossible it is to get into the corners, I'd really like to love it.

So that is where we are now.  I really don't know what to do.  What is it I don't love?  Richard thinks the pattern is too busy, and he thinks a darker gray WOULD look better.  Maybe he is right?  I don't know.  We looked at wallpaper, but didn't find anything, and looked at some more stencils online and found some we liked, but will we like it when it is done?  I don't know!  It actually looks quite nice in the picture.  Maybe I am stressing myself out for nothing?

So what do you think?  Should I keep going with this stencil?  Should I repaint and start over?  Should I give up?  Should I light the house on fire like I want to?  What would you do?   I should point out, after you give me your heartfelt opinion and advice, that I probably won't listen to it.  Please give it to me, just don't be hurt when I completely ignore it, which I will.

Ah bathroom, my old foe, will we ever be friends?

The Death of a Spider

Any of you who "Would Not Hurt A Fly" should probably just turn around and leave right now.  The contents of this post are extremely violent and may offend those of a gentle nature.  Because I had to turn the water back off which meant climbing back down into the hole under the house with the spiders and this time I was armed.  This time I brought a Blow Torch.

This is what I looked like:


They call me The Spider Slayer.  Qait would draw it better.

Daddy Long Legs are naturally camouflaged to blend in with their webby surroundings which makes it impossible to distinguish spider from web.  So I burnt it all with extreme prejudice.  I could tell when I got a spider though.  Did you know that spiders spark when you light them on fire? It is kind of awesome.  And then I found some big spiders.  A bunch of them, over in the corner.  And they didn't just spark when I hit them, they made an audible popping sound.  Which was satisfying in a kind of evil way.  And scary way.  The noisier my massacre got, the more scared I was of retribution.  I kept imagining Shelob  climbing out from under the house to get me.  Maybe it was guilt.  All I know is the more I killed the more anxious I was to run away.  So I did.  I had barely begun my Arachnid Armageddon, but I felt the wrath of the Spider Lords building against me and I climbed back out of that hole as fast as I could.  I still sort of expect them to come for me in the night to get their revenge.  I mostly deserve it, don't I?

Anyhoo, here is how my bathroom looks now:

brick wall


Instead of patching the plaster which takes forever and is not fun, we knocked all the plaster off the wall so that we can put up drywall.  Richard says first we need to put up furring strips.  I'm guessing he just made that word up.  But we've got to put up something so that the drywall will have something even and level to screw into which the bricks are not.

So how long has it been since our inspection?  3 weeks?  And I thought the room would be done by now.  Heck, I thought the room would be done 5 years ago.  Why is it the last few weeks are the hardest?


Oh, wait, I know why it is the hardest.  Because there is a TOILET IN MY BEDROOM. You think my room was bad before, you should see it now.  It is stuffed with power tools and huge tracks of insulation.  I have got to get this bathroom done or I might have to set all my stuff on fire!

I actually might do that anyway.