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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Letters to Emmeline : Eighteen Months

May 12 to June 12, 2015

Hey, you, toddler who is now officially one and a half. And who will be two in SIX MONTHS. I don't want to think about that for many reasons, including because when you turn two it will be a) December and b) cold as heck and c) just 13 days away from Christmas.

You are such a little riot. You're hilarious. And such a spitfire. SUCH a spitfire. Like, girl, you are full of opinions and attitude up the wazoo. It's pretty amazing to see from such a tiny person who doesn't talk. You know what you want, you make it VERY clear even without words, and lord help us all if you don't get it. The squeals that you emit could shatter glass and you will drop to the floor in a tantrum in half a second flat.

On the other hand, as long as things are going your way, you're just pure sunshine. Your giggles and smiles could turn around the worst day. And there is so much that makes you smile.  The other day, you and your sister were swinging and she started kicking her legs so you started kicking your legs and you both just started giggling and giggling and giggling and it was the happiest sound in the world.

I've mentioned it before, but you are just determined to do absolutely everything that we do. When I sweep, you want to hold the dustpan. When I do dishes, you want to put in the detergent and take the dishes out and put the dishes in. When I am putting laundry in the basket, you bring me clothes. If Carys rides her bike, you want to ride her bike. Any activity we do, you want to be a part of as well.  I love it but let's be real, it makes me sad at the same time - you're my baby! You aren't supposed to be doing these big kid things yet!

You just started to really love to play dress up, and you're always waltzing out of the playroom with a wig or a hat or a skirt on. You're even starting to have an opinion about what clothes I put on you, and I'm kind of mourning the loss of my ability to dress a kid from head to toe in whatever outfit I pick out.

There are so many hilarious, adorable things that you do each day and I love discovering new talents and abilities that you've gained. You love to tickle people, and to have your toes tickled. You're learning more and more body parts. You heard me say "Elmo" and you grabbed your elbows, you brilliant girl. You climb up and go down the spiral slide at the park for thirty solid minutes (then beg to go on the swings for another thirty). You found one of Carys's Calico Critter babies - with a cradle - and you carry it around and say "shhh, shhh." Any time you see a child in a stroller, you yell "bah bah!", even if they're bigger than you are.

We're not talking about sleep because the second I mention it, it gets worse. So we'll just say it's better. Not perfect, but better. MUCH better. Thank you, lord.

While you ARE sleeping, you're not, um, eating. Kind of an important habit. I'm pretty sure you subsist on crackers, bread, and bananas, with an occasional bite of meat. You won't eat a vegetable any other fruit to save your life (like literally, if you were stranded on a desert island with carrots and blueberries, you'd starve). You do enjoy cheerios off the floor as I'm sweeping them up. Delightful.

You absolutely love to read books, especially any with flaps. We read ten books in a row before I had to stop and force you to take a nap because you were falling asleep in my arms, but you still wanted to read. more. books! (Which you told me by signing "more, more, more!" and then my heart melted into a giant puddle.)

You're still nursing. I don't see that stopping anytime soon, but I'm ready the second you are. It's been a long four and a half years of being pregnant or nursing with only a one or two month break between the two. I'm not going to force it on you yet, but feel free to cut back to like twice a day instead of 100 times a day any time. Except, see above, I'm worried you'd starve if I stopped.

You started going to daycare at Carys's "big kid" (as we call it) daycare. I'm not sure yet how it's going, but it's so fun seeing Carys get to walk you into your room. She loves giving you a hug and a kiss and often tells me about how much she loves seeing you throughout the day - although that cuts both ways, because your teachers have said that you love seeing her, too, except then you cry when you can't stay with her. Break my heart, kiddo!

You had an allergy appointment at the beginning of June in response to a rash of allergic reactions you had back in April and May. You got terrible hives, and I have no idea what caused them. It took three months to get you into this allergy specialist, and they agreed it was hives and decided to do a blood test to see if they could find anything that might be causing the reactions. I'm waiting on the call and am just hoping it's nothing severe (and the blood test might not show anything - false negatives aren't uncommon with this blood test). So we'll see what happens there, and fingers crossed it's nothing too severe.

We did the Summer Arts Festival, the Children's Museums, and playdates. We went to the Spring/Summer festival at Carys's school, where you bounced on a bounce house for most of the time and ate a literal ton of cotton candy. The three of us plus Nana went to Browneville, Nebraska, for a flea market billed as the world's largest, where you adopted a bag of kettle corn and cuddled it like a doll. We babysat my parent's dog, Toby, and you couldn't have been more excited about having a dog around. We're still doing swim class, and every class you do better and try to swim away from me more. We've been taking walks up to the park almost daily, and walking to the local ice cream parlor weekly.

You give the absolute BEST hugs in the entire world and I can't get enough of them. I would like one million of them through the end of time, please.

I love you, little girl. Who is getting bigger and I'm kind of not okay with this development.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Laundry Room Dreaming, Part II

If you remember my "intro to this house!" post, I talked about my grand plans for moving the laundry room to the second floor, taking over one of the two walk-in closets in the master bedroom. Then (and I hadn't blogged about this) we had a contractor come over and look at it, and he thought the best place for it would be taking over part of the playroom, since they could just go right through the wall into the bathroom to access the water and wouldn't have to go through the floor or ceiling at all. I was super excited about that plan and ready to go.

Until, of course, we loaded all the kids' crap toys into the playroom and I realized I really didn't want to give up a single square inch of the room. Much less like 10 square feet. That might change as the girls get a little older, but for now, I need all of that room for all of those toys (ok, I really don't feel like they have a RIDICULOUS amount of toys, but they have several items that take up a good amount of space, like a play tent and a kitchen and a table/chair set, as well as enough books to give the entire population of Greenland reading material for five years. So they need space.).

Then Chris decided that a running washing machine and a running dryer is too loud and he didn't want it in the bedroom closets because he thinks it will keep him up all night (I've seen the way the man sleeps so I strongly disagree with his assessment, but since it's his house too...I guess...sigh...he gets veto power). So that's out. Until I change his mind.

That leaves either the hall linen closet or the bathroom linen closet as options upstairs, but I haven't used those spaces enough yet to make a decision about losing them.

So we're back to square one, with the laundry room remaining where it is - on the main floor, in a sort of mudroom/laundry room combo that is heavy on the laundry room and light on the mudroom. The problem with that is that I've now had a glimpse of life with a real mudroom/drop zone right inside the garage door, and I LOVE that.  A place to hang your coat and drop your shoes and keep things that you need to remember to take with you in the morning and just generally a place to put things that need to be easily and regularly accessed.  So I really want a nice big mudroom.

That's somehow magically also the laundry room. In a space that is only big enough to hold a washer and a dryer and a basket full of shoes (which somehow is always empty, because the shoes are scattered all around it).

Since, as far as I know, the laundry room exists only in this universe and I can't use some wormhole/alternate universe magic to create a mudroom on top of it, I think I came up with a decent and hopefully AFFORDABLE!!!!!!!!EXCLAMATION POINT!!!!! solution. And then, after talking to the contractor that I'd been talking to previously, I think we came up with an EVEN BETTER, permanent, amazing solution.

Here's the laundry room now.

And here are a couple of living-the-real-messy-life pictures (this area has collected a few things that I'm not sure what to do with yet...like the half-filled fish tank):

My first idea was to take out the soffit and the upper cabinets and stack the washer and dryer there, then put in mudroom lockers on the other side of them (and probably more cabinets above the stacked washer/dryer since it will only be 76" tall once stacked).

Something like this:

Especially awesome after my one year old crumpled it up! Pretty much Picasso, right? I'm sure you could tell IMMEDIATELY but that's the washer and dryer on the right, then the lockers to the left, with four wall hooks inside the open area. Preferably built exactly to these specifications, so crooked and using some sort of squiggly wood.

I emailed this idea to the contractor (George) just to see what he thought, and in a total coincidence, he was like five blocks away. So he stopped by to take some measurements, and while we were talking, we kind of simultaneously came up with what I think is the best idea yet. Maybe even better than putting it upstairs, since I won't lose any upstairs storage (although I'll still have to cart loads of laundry up and down the stairs, so if I could wave a magic wand I'd still put a dedicated upstairs laundry room in somewhere).

Here's the floorplan of what we're thinking:

So we'll still pull out the soffit and replace it with high, deep cabinets. Where the lockers were in my original plan, we'll put in a smaller closet. The existing closet will become two mudroom lockers, and we'll run a low bench across that wall with cubbies for baskets. Here are some freaking fantastic drawings of what we're thinking (Forgive my AMAZING artistry):

(I drew this at night on purple paper, so.....yeah.)

I am SO SO SO EXCITED about this idea. Maybe even more excited about this than the original idea. I think it's a great use of the space, and does a nice job of seperating the mudroom area and the utility area. Downside: It's obviously more expensive. It's no longer AFFORDABLE!!!!!!!!EXCLAMATION POINT!!!!!.  Even if we DIYed it or used St. Danny, it'd still be way, way, way more money. So. That leaves me with two options, since going back to my original idea is not really an option now that I've seen this. Can one go back to canned tuna after tasting fine sushi? (It's late. I'm tired. Shut up.)

1. Sell a kidney. Any takers?
2. Leave it as-is while we save up money to do it. BORING.

Hopefully Chris is so taken with this idea that he is willing to sell his car to finance it. I mean, we don't at all live in a bike- or public-transportation-friendly city, so it'd be a sacrifice, but WORTH IT RIGHT?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

House Update : Two Months Later

To see the house before we moved in, click here.

To see the one-month update, click here.

Coming into this post, I actually felt like we've basically gotten nothing done, but when I started writing the list out I realized there was more than I anticipated. Not a lot of HUGE things and no changes as drastic as the last update post, but there have been things done. Work on the current house kind of stalled out while we focused our efforts on updating the old house to get it on the market (yes, it's taken this long. yes, I want to cry. yes, I just want it gone. yes, I'm going to cry when it's gone. yes, it's a lot of emotions, I'm sorry.).

Sniff. Old house. Sniff.

The sunroom is virtually complete for phase one. I'd like to get a big indoor/outdoor rug for the area, and a few of the windows have broken seals that need replacing, but it's done otherwise.

As a reminder, here's what the sunroom looked like before:

It's kind of hard to tell just how blue it was in this picture. Blue/tan tile, blue walls and trim, blue ceiling, blue window shades. Very blue.

You can see in the picture above some vertical lines in the beadboard were pieces of the board met - I caulked those, then painted the walls with Sherwin Williams Requisite Gray (chosen because I'd liked it when I had the swatches for the rest of the house, but it was too warm/brown for what I wanted in the main area). Normally, I'd have painted the trim first, but in this case, the trim was pretty straightforward with no curves, while the beadboard had lots of grooves that needed paint splooshed/squashed/smashed into them (technical terms there), so I did the walls first this time.

Once the walls were painted, I taped everything off and painted the trim Cotton White by Sherwin Williams, which has just the tiniest yellow/beige twinge that's not really visible unless it's next to stark white. I carefully considered hundreds of swatches to find the best white to match the Requisite Gray and to bring a bit of warmth to the room due to the coolness of the tiles yeah no I just grabbed a white that was in the garage and didn't even realize it wasn't white white until halfway into painting. But it's fine and works perfectly.

THREE COATS!! Three coats! later, the trim was done. Then I began the tedious process of scraping the paint off the French door windows. The doors were actually painted over a month ago but have been sitting there with paint just covering the window panes since then. 

There were 15 panes of glass in each door, with two sides that needed to be scraped, so 60 areas in all (look at me doing basic math!). Scraping the paint took an assload of time mostly because I was using a super rusty old razorblade that basically gave me tetanus just touching it. And it broke about 1/3 of the way into the first window so it wouldn't stay locked in the 'blade out' position. And then after like four more windows the blade broke off, but not along a scored line, so then it was worthless. And then courtesy of my husband, I got an actual paint scraper (novel concept - use the right tool!) and the rest of the windows went about 200x faster. 

One door done, one to go.
Pajama bottoms with a dress. It's how we roll.

I love the room now. It's crisp and bright and contemporary. And the greige walls really pull out the browns and tans in the tile and minimize the blues, so even with the blue shades remaining, the color blue hardly registers any more. And it really feels connected to the rest of the house now, so it feels more like an additional room rather than an add-on.

Man, whoever painted that wire to camouflage it did a BANG UP job. (Hint: it was me.)

And for all you before-and-after fiends:

So that room is basically done, at least for phase one.

Shit, wait. No, I take that back. I still need to do the (blue) ceiling. I was actually hoping to see if my cousin could do it for me with his extend-a-roller thing so I didn't have to break out the ladder. But he's been working on the old house. I should probably just suck it up and do it.

Phase two for the sunroom involves replacing some or all of the windows with ones that open. Right now, only one window in the entire room opens, so it gets absolutely no ventilation even when the window is open. I'd love to be able to open almost all of the windows in the room so it can be more of a screened-in porch on nice days.

The upstairs shared bathroom is another room that had a big change. As a reminder, here's where we started and left off:

This month I painted the lower walls and the trim.

I still have a few things there I want to do in there, but I'm not even really sure where phase one with the bathroom ends and where phase two starts. Like, I know I want to update the cabinets, but I have no idea into where on the overall timeline doing that fits. And I'm not 100% sure whether I want to paint them white or gray or black or stain them darker.  However, Phase One definitely includes new cabinet hardware and the mirror framed out and some shelves/decor (suggestions?? I have no idea what to put in there!). Then I'll figure out the cabinets down the road. And possibly the wave tiles removed or painted over and the upper blue walls painted and the floors replaced, depending on how long I feel like I can live with all that blue and whether we come into a shit ton of money anytime soon. It's not bad, it's just not me. Which is a little weird because this blue is basically like the exact same color as the master bedroom at our old house but apparently living with a room that color for ten years made me sick of it.

Also I want to give myself FULL credit because I did the sunroom and bathroom completely solo without one single brush stroke of help from anyone. #masterpainter #orsomething

I also finished a bunch of small, random shit.

- Finished Carys's room and got some stuff up on the wall and hung curtains (still to do: paint trees on the blue wall, hang the rest of the decor, eventually paint trim)

Shortly after painting, while trying to figure out the configuration of her furniture. 

Final-for-now furniture placement.

- Finished painting Emmeline's room and hung black-out shade liners and curtains (still to do: hang decor, paint trim eventually)

Do you love the pile of clothes on her closet floor? Those are her winter clothes that I pulled off the hangers to put away when it started getting nice, but then the weather decided to be a COMPLETE bastard and be cold and rainy all fricking month so I left them there for now. 

I need to re-position the alphabet plaque. I hung it before the curtains so it was centered on the wall between the corner and the window, but now that the curtains are hung it looks off-center. :/

SHE LOVES IT! Or the bouncy bull, but I'm choosing to believe she loves her room.

- Hung a mirror and clock in entryway (ISN'T THIS LIST SO FASCINATING)

- Tried to update the chandelier by replacing the lightbulbs with round clear ones and removing the glass to give it a more modern look (still to do: decide whether to live with it as-is in this deconstructed state [in which case I want to get wire cutters and cut off the hangers] or replace entirely or DIY an orb around it?)

Before and after removing the smoked glass and as I was replacing the lightbulbs. Somehow I don't have a pic of the bulbs all replaced, just this mid-change one.  Also look at all those moving boxes in the background! I wish I could tell you they have all been unpacked and cleared out, but....no.

- Got rid of too-big couch, replaced with too-small temporary Craigslist couch (but $100! Leather!)

- Put covers on all light fixtures/outlets! NO MORE HOLES!

- Got the shelves up and put things on them (just temporarily styled like this...it need more STUFF! Don't tell Chris!) in living room. Whatever final thing is going to be above the fireplace needs to be MUCH bigger. I want to do something like this or this or this or this on the top shelves going all the way across (the same on both sides). And actually I'm looking at the shelves in these pictures and they look pretty terrible but I SWEAR that they look pretty nice in person. Is this how bloggers post hideous projects that get them featured on sites like GOMI and everyone hates them and questions their style and the blogger is at home like, "Yeah, looks good!"???? (Still to do in this area: spray paint brass parts of fireplace)

Oh hai Carys and Chris watching You Tube videos together. 
Yes, my husband wears cargo shorts. Don't judge him. He's lovely and has nice legs.

- Started priming dining room (still to do: ENTIRE DINING ROOM BASICALLY)

- Put door knobs on all the doors in the upstairs hall! We have doors that close!! WHOA!

- Hung up some decor in the playroom, continued to organize it (still to do: eventually paint trim. get craft area - not pictured for good reason - organized.)

- Painted the door of the playroom with magnetic and chalkboard paint

- Spent 100 hours pruning bushes and pulling weeds outside (still to do: pull 100000000 more weeds)

There's still so much to do for phase one - from giant things like painting entire rooms (dining room, sitting room) and replacing the flooring (goodbye tile!!!), to smaller things like installing new switches and getting covers for a few of the outlets still that were oddly-shaped.  And then we still have a ton of practical things like getting a new permanent couch (and moving the Craigslist couch to the basement) so that more than 3 people can have a seat in the living room. And, you know, actually finishing the unpacking and organizing which is NEVER GOING TO END. Much like the unending saga of the PAINT ALL THE PAINT.

Oh, and after all the paint-color-picking drama, I don't think I ever mentioned which color we went with for the entryway and halls and family room: Smoke Embers. After not liking it initially, after worrying it was first too dark and then worrying that it was too light, after trying to sell it on Craigslist only to get a hit 15 minutes after we started painting....we kept it and I absolutely LOVE it. It's the perfect light gray with just the tiniest bit of warmth.  Basically this paint color was my white whale. Which I have now found so take that, Moby Dick.

Focus on the wall color and not the adorably eccentric girl in this picture. 

You can see how it varies from warmer to cooler here, but it always has just the tiniest smidge of warmth.
*yes that's a repeat picture, I'm sorry. But if you noticed, you're really reading 
and paying attention, for which I commend you. 

I don't even want to think about phase two.  What I'd really love is to win the lottery so I can just hire it all out. I think that's a safe plan. Sure to work out!