Monday, November 28, 2011

Is that a baby vampire?

Crayon Connoisseur
Nah, it's just Luke eating crayons again. He goes through our crayon box like it's a Whitman Sampler- taking a bite and spitting it out, then carefully selecting another, taking a bite, and spitting it out. I don't know if we have any crayons left with tips on them. I've asked him if Crayola started secretly flavoring their crayons, but he just looked at me mischievously and ate another one. He seems to have a preference for orange.

I took another approach and explained to him that stores actually sell watercolor paints and we can get him some if that's the medium he prefers. He responded by picking a new color, biting off the end, swishing it in his mouth, and dripping brightly colored drool on his coloring page. I guess he likes to make his own watercolor paint.

I guess we'll keep using washable crayons and brushing colored bits out of his teeth.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Operation Bigger House: Down to the Details

We are finally at the point in this project that there is nothing left but the details, but there are a lot of them and some of them are rather large, like flooring. With Daylight Savings Time, I have even less time at home in the daylight to take new pictures, so I took a lot yesterday while we were home.

Ella's Room - less scary, still smelly.

All of the sheetrock has been hung and finished. Yes, everything is covered in white dust, but my sweet husband removed the layer that looked like snow from the kids' bedroom so that we wouldn't track it all through the rest of the house. I will miss seeing the cute, little white footprints on the hardwood after the kids follow me into the bedroom to get their clothes in the mornings. I wish I had taken a picture of those footprints. Maybe I can still stage that with the dust that is left in the new bedroom.

Ella's new room is a lot less scary now, but there is a funny smell in there (from the sheetrock mud?) so she still doesn't want to go in there. I'm hoping that moving her back in there will go smoothly, what with purple walls and Tinker Bell sheets, but I'm preparing myself for  a long transition.

Hallway to the master suite.

This is the hallway to our new bedroom. It's finally open to the old part of the house, so Ella can now see how she will come to my room when she needs me. The door in this picture is temporary since the new part isn't climate controlled yet; it will actually be in the entry you see just beyond it. In between the two doorways is the new laundry room.

I am completely excited to have the laundry room right next to the bedrooms. I've been questioned a couple of times about having it right next to the master bedroom, but really, the only better place I could think to put it would be inside my closet. My least favorite part about laundry is the putting away, and it will be so much more convenient to hang the clothes in the closet doorways instead of the kitchen! If I had thought about it before last night, I would have asked for an adjoining door to the laundry room from my closet, but it's too late now!

New laundry room.

I am very pleased with the size of the master bedroom and the amount of natural light that comes in. I was worried that it would be too dark in there, but the double windows in the nook are working out perfectly. Dave is still trying to figure out the logistics of the new TV so that he can watch it from the bed and the nook, but my only requirement is that the wires be hidden (and that he set the sleep timer; I hate waking up to the TV). We don't have a TV in the bedroom now, so this will be new and very exciting for him. I'm not terribly excited about having a TV in the bedroom, but I'm happy that he's excited about it.

Master bedroom from the hallway.

My new bathtub.

My new bathtub has been installed. It's huge and beautiful, and it is not a jacuzzi tub. That's another something I've been questioned about. Apparently I'm a weirdo (that's no secret) for not wanting a jacuzzi tub, but I just really don't. I have no interest soaking with that black gunk that grows inside the jets no matter how often you clean the tub. I tried to convince Ella to pose in the tub for a picture, but she informed me that it is dirty so she cannot get in it.

We will have a double vanity with a custom built cabinet so that we can maximize the bathroom space, and there is a built in linen closet. I know that the cabinet will be stained cherry, and we've negotiated to a compromise on the tile for the shower and floor. I still have to pick the material for the counter top, and the light fixtures and paint colors for all of the rooms.

The shower

The shower is oddly shaped, but at least as big as the one we use now, so I'm happy with it. The first layers of the shower pan and drain are in place, but that's it for now. I'm hoping to see it finished in the next week or so.

As we walked through the addition and I explained what each room was and where the shower, sinks, and potty would be, Ella responded repeatedly with, "Oh, okay." Meanwhile, Luke was looting the pile of tools and sorting through the trashcan in the middle of the bedroom. Thankfully there is no electricity in there yet, because he was turning knobs and flipping switches like he owned the place.

Luke, rifling through tools, from the nook.

New hall bathroom.
The old, pink bathroom already looks better. The new tub is in place and the sheetrock has been finished in there, too. The vanity and mirror are here waiting to be installed, but I still need to pick the lighting and paint color.

From the edge of the patio.

The outside of the house had been completely bricked. The brick color matches very well, but the new bricks are a little smaller than the old ones. We found out early in the project that our house was bricked with street pavers, so the bricks are bigger than normal house bricks and, of course, now they are hard to find.

Back of the addition, from behind where the tree was.

 The things we have left are flooring, lighting, finished plumbing, paint, and the deck. Our contractor says he thinks we can be finished in two weeks but I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I'm itching to get started cleaning up the mess and putting this house back together. I want to be able to focus on Christmas, and I can't wait to see the kids' excitement about their new rooms. I have surprises for them and I can't wait to give them.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm raising the Dial soap kid.

It happened last night. My worm/bug/snake worry that I mentioned in a post last week came to fruition. I'm sure I spoke (er, wrote) it into being.

As I sat at the table, finishing the last few bites of my supper, Luke toddled up to me with a clenched fist and a lot of jabber. He held his little fist out to me and opened it to reveal a big, dead roach. Blech.

He was so proud of his find.

I was thankful for my napkin, which I used to grab the roach and toss it into the garbage. Then I was thankful for the antibacterial wipes I keep on the kitchen counter, which I used to scrub is little hands.

After that, I was rinsing plates to load the dishwasher and I had given the dog a plate to lick rinse (Yes, I do this when I'm feeling especially lazy. It's one of the benefits of having a dog with children. I expect her to earn her keep.). Luke was very interested, so he squatted down beside her to get a better view. As I was telling Dave, "Next thing you know, he'll be licking the plate like the dog," he bent down and tried to lick the plate, too.

A poor frog met it's untimely end in our driveway last night - by cat or car, I don't know, but it was squished. Of course, I had forgotten about it this morning until I noticed something slimy on the bottom of the shoe that Luke was chewing after I buckled him into his seat. Apparently he stepped in the frog guts on the way to the car. I snatched the shoe out of his hand and tossed it out of his reach while I finished buckling Ella. Then I grabbed the wipes I keep in the car and scrubbed his hand, his face, and his shoe. I probably would have done his tongue if he'd stuck it out.


As I replayed these events in my head this morning, I realized, I'm raising the kid from that old Dial soap commercial.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Being Little is Big Work

Luke fell asleep in his high chair while eating lunch today. He does this frequently. I think it's a testament to his very busy life that he falls asleep as soon as he sits still long enough. These days he even prefers to eat on the move. Notice that he is tied into the chair in this picture? That's become necessary because he can climb out, no matter how tightly you squish him in there.

Side note: Grown women pay good money for lips and eyelashes like his.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There's Something Happening Here

... and what it is ain't exactly clear.

Last night at the supper table, Ella asked us, "Why did Jesus die on the cross for us?"

Picture me with my mouth hanging open while my brain zoomed around at a thousand miles per hour while I tried to formulate an age-appropriate response. I think I sat there in silence for about 4 minutes before Dave jumped in and answered her.

He told her, "Jesus is God's son. God sent him here to die on the cross so that, if we love Jesus, we can go to Heaven and be with God."

All I could think was: How do I explain sin and death to a three year old? She doesn't have any personal experience with death yet and she does not grasp the permanance of it. I was completely unprepared to have this conversation with her at this age. I expected it to happen when she is older with a little more experience under her belt.

On the way to school this morning, she asked Grandmother, "Where did the baby Jesus go after he left the manger?"

Even that one gave me pause.  I was glad I brought my Bible into work with me today so I could look it up and be certain when I answered her. Mary and Joseph took him to the temple in Jerusalem, then the fled to Egypt to hide, and then they returned to Galilee.

Prior to our supper conversation last night, I had already had a few conversations this week about faith and the Bible. One was a deep discussion about God's plan and our free will and how the two work together. And during another one, I admitted that I do not prioritize the Bible at the top of my reading list and I don't have any good reason for that.

Then Ella started asking these questions, forcing me to spend more time reading it.

I believe God gave me Ella to make me a better person, and now she, one of the most important things in my life that takes up so much time and gives me a legitimate excuse not to do a lot of stuff (like spend time reading the Bible), is pushing me closer to God with her questions. I cannot say that I don't have time to spend with God, because one of the things she needs is for me to do just that.

There's something happening here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

He's Everywhere! He's Everywhere!

I've said before that I have music in my head and secret theme songs for all kinds of things. At this phase in his life, 2 days away from being 15 months old, Luke's theme song is one line from Ray Steven's Santa Claus is Watching You: "He's everywhere. He's everywhere."

That child is everywhere. I never stop picking up the trail he leaves in his wake and removing him from elevated surfaces. He gets up when I get out of the bed around 5:30 am and spends a quiet 24 minutes with Dave while they watch Mickey Mouse, but when Dave leaves, he's up and running. His latest favorite thing to do in the mornings is brush his teeth while I put on my make up. He climbs up on the toilet and grabs for whichever toothbrush he can reach. I take it away and give him his toothbrush, and he proceeds to brush and spit, brush and spit until I'm finished. He also likes to wash his hands and try to steal things out of my make up bag.

When that's done, he follows me around the house unless he finds something better to do, like this.
Throwing wipes down the stairs.

The fruit of his labor.
He recently started throwing things down the stairs for the fun of watching them go.  I let him pull wipes out of the box while I change his diaper so he will be still for 90 seconds, and he loves this activity. Today he combined the two for double the fun, then brought me the empty box. Sometimes he empties the plastic cup cabinet, sometimes he dumps the dog food if I forget to pick up the bowl, sometimes he rakes the magnets off the fridge, sometimes he pulls out all of the books and puzzles. You get the idea.

When he gets bored of whatever mess he's making, he comes to find me and that's usually when I'm making my bed. It is his job every morning to hand me the pillows. He gives them to me one-by-one, saying, "thank you" each time. Then we go wake up The Beast if she isn't already up. He likes to jump in the middle of her and cuddle in her bed for a few minutes before they get dressed.

Last week, after removing him from the toilet 15 times in a row, I took him into the living room and plunked him into the chair to watch Mickey. Ella was already up and watching, and she shocked the morning fuzziness out of me when she climbed into the chair and settled in beside him. I took a picture for proof. It was one of those moments that make the chaos so worth it.

Watching Mickey together.

Luke is a mess. I've had a stupid worry about how I would control my reaction when my children one day bring me a worm or a snake (because those are two things I just cannot handle). How would I control myself so they didn't know it bothered me and thus use it against me? Well, Luke doesn't pick up worms or snakes yet, but he has figured out how to get what must be a positively hilarious reaction from me.

On the drive home from gymnastics last night, instead of the cry fest we usually have because he's tired and hungry, that child figured out that I would freak out if he stuck his fingers down his throat and gagged. He did it over and over again, and every time I screamed out about it, he laughed hysterically. And Ella laughed hysterically. I tried to laugh with them and chill out, but I'm too well conditioned to respond to the gag noise so I found that difficult. Praise the Lord, he doesn't throw up as easily as she does. When she started to do it, too, I had to shut her down. There absolutely would have been vomit if she had continued that fun activity. So, he already knows one good way to completely unnerve me. Great.

He is using more words, and now he combines them with his pointer finger to make his point. Last night he had a plate full of vegetables and a pile of shredded cheese. Twice he ate all the cheese and told me "do-do!" (which is his word for "food" or "more food") and pointed to the empty cheese hole on his plate saying, "dat!" He sings the blessing after Ella finishes saying it, folding his hands and everything. He even pops off to sing the blessing when he nurses at bedtime sometimes. He gives good kisses and hugs.

His cuteness is his saving grace right now.

ETA: At 15 months, he is 31.5 inches long and weighs 21 lbs. 8 oz. Still long and lean.
The EGR Update
Her use of the language continues to amuse and astound me. We had an unpleasant incident over the weekend when she woke up prematurely from nap and wailed at me for have the nerve to watch something besides Mickey Mouse while she slept. That led to more unpleasantness when she screamed from the bathroom that she needed help after I had just gotten Luke to sleep in my lap. I was not happy and made that very clear. She came back to the couch and cuddled up next to me and said, "Mommy, I'm just a little person and sometimes I get scared. Please don't use your mad voice." She's just a little person. I had to laugh. I too often forget that she's just a little person, but I did ask her to please not use her screaming voice and I wouldn't get so frustrated that I have to use my mad voice. We didn't have any other issues after that, and guess what? She actually liked the show I was watching because those dresses on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding are something to see.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Operation Bigger House: Inside the Original House

I took some pictures of the inside of our house as it is right now so that this project will be fully documented. Unfortunately, I don't have a good Before picture of the old pink bathroom, but here are a couple of good looks at it's pinkness.

Ella's first interaction with tampons. Oh, and the pink floor.

This hilarious picture shows the original pink tile floor. I didn't necessarily hate this tile, but it had a lot of wear and tear. What you cannot see behind Ella (circa 14ish months) is that the majority of the tiles in the threshhold are cracked or broken. We ended up pulling them up entirely once she was crawling because she kept picking them out of the floor and carrying them around the house. When we put the house on the market earlier this year (because Plan A was to sell it and buy a bigger one), Dave caulked them back down so that it looked all nice and put together, just in time for Luke to start crawling and picking them out of the floor.

The picture also shows the old bathroom doors. Those were upgraded, as part of my perfect Christmas present in 2009 - when all I asked for were doors that opened and shut without the full weight of my body behind the effort.

Ella, circa 9 months, in the very pink bathtub.

This picture is also of Ella (Why don't I have any bathtub pictures of Luke? Oh, that's right, because mangaging two kids in a tub is lot more work than one.),  in the pink bathtub. Note the pink tile around the tub as well; it covered the walls up to chest height. The sink was pink to match the tub, the counter was the same tile as the floor. The cabinet was painted white - but the chipped places revealed the secret that it used to be pink, too. Above the tile on the walls was a beige and pink flowered wallpaper with a border.

All of that is gone now. The only thing left in that room is the disgusting light fixture (which will be replaced) and the closet with it's new door. It looks like this now.

Bathroom- unpinked.

This picture is from the doorway, looking into the corner where the tub used to be. Dave's new closet is right behind the wall you see in this picture.

We have picked out the tub, vanity, toilet, and floor tile for this makeover but I still haven't settled on a paint color. There will not be any tile on the wall this go round.
Bathroom from where the tub used to be.
This is the bathroom from where the tub used to be. See the nice new door? I love my new doors. (I know that they aren't really new anymore since Dave gave them to me 2 years ago, but they still feel new to me. They still make me squeal inside sometimes when I admire them.)

Ella is content to shower all by herself now, and I am content to let her. She uses our shower in the current "master bath", and she even bathes, with soap and a rag and everything. A couple of times a week, I reach in there and scrub her head for her, and that's all I have to do to keep her clean. She loves showering so much , she will sit in there and play for 45 minutes. While she had the stomach virus, she asked to shower every time her fever spiked - 4 times in one day.

Luke in the temporary tub.

Given that bit of goodness, I really only have to worry about scrubbing Luke these days. I know he misses the bathtub, especially since he had just gotten to have it to himself. He was really enjoying swimming on his stomach and blowing bubbles with his face in the water, but he is an adaptable child so he's making do with this situation for now. As long as I keep him out of the knives, he's good to go with drowning the entire kitchen and watching Mickey Mouse through the space over the stove.


 The kids' bedroom.

This is a picture of the bedroom the kids have shared since I moved Luke out of the Arms-Reach co-sleeper beside my bed. See that terribly scary piece of plywood on the wall? That used to be a window. There was another one beside it as well. Those windows are now in "the nook" in the new master bedroom. The new laundry room is directly on the other side of that wall now. I took this picture from what will be the new doorway to this room. It will be Ella's because she cannot fathom the thought of changing rooms at this stage in her life. She has plans for it to be purple, and she has already picked out her bedding, rug, and lamp.

Frame for the new hallway.

This is the frame for the new hallway, and the plywood that covers what used to be the other window and what will soon be the opening to the new part of the house.

Ella finds the room completely terrifying in it's present state - so terrifying that she cannot go in there alone. Luke, on the other hand, enjoys playing loudly in there to hear his echo in the absence of furniture. Over the weekend he mastered balancing on the 2x4 on the floor.

The Big Room dressed as their temporary bedroom.

This is where they are sleeping for the present - our Big Room. If you look past the bedroom in the middle of it, you might be able to see that it is usually a combination sitting room/dining room. Ella dubbed it The Big Room some time ago because it has a lot of wide open space for playing, especially since we pushed all of the furniture against the walls for just that purpose.

One of the things I'm looking forward to the most is having this room put back together again - sans toys.
From the opposite side of The Big Room.
And this is a view of the play portion of the room. Most of the toys that are in there today will go into Luke's new room (our current bedroom). He loves the little kitchen and Ella rarely plays with it anymore, so I'm putting it in his room.
I'm okay with the current situation for a little while longer, but I'm really hoping to have The Big Room cleaned up in time for Christmas. This is where we put our tree, and I'm trying to rest peacefully in the belief that that will happen this year, too.
As for the addition, the duct work for the heating and air went in last week and that's about all that happened. There was an inspection today, so the hanging of the drywall should commence shortly. I look forward to a lot more progress this week.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Operation Bigger House: It's Starting to Look Like a House

I'm way overdue for this update since it's been three weeks since the last one. That means we are six weeks into our project, and it's really starting to look like a house.

These are my most recent pictures (and I need to take some newer ones).

From the approximate location of the tree.

You can see that the addition is becoming a part of the house now. Last week they finished the roof and put in the windows and doors, so it actually looks even more like a house than this pictures shows.

The single square window you see will be over the bathtub. There will be a bathtub, that holds water, deep enough for me, and there will be a second hot water heater to fill that sucker up to the rim.

I cannot wait to sit in a bathtub again. The tub in the pink bathroom was dead to me. There wasn't enough hot water to fill it up, and what I did put in there slowly leaked down the drain before I was finished soaking. It worked well enough for the kids, but I gave up on having a bath in there a long time ago.

The double windows are in what we affectionately refer to as "the nook." It will be a sitting area of some sort, though we haven't decided yet which furniture will go in that space. These windows were previously in the back wall of the kids' bedroom.

From the edge of the patio

The doorway you see in this picture (with the gangplank) is a french door that will open onto a deck. The deck will connect to the existing patio, or something. We have a team of designers working on that situation. We do not currently utilize our backyard space to it's full potential, so we are trying to make it more livable. The main issue is that we don't have direct access from the house to the backyard, but that will change with our new french doors.

Looking into the basement

The small window you see in this picture has actually been moved closer to the old part of the house. Due to an oversight on our part, it was originally cut into the wall of what will be my walk-in closet. We discussed and discussed, with each other and our consultant, Pop the Pop, and decided to just go ahead and ask them to move it. It is now located in the new laundry room - which is where I really wanted it to be all along.  This window was previously in the pink bathroom.

The basement wall is finished and there is a double-door in place. That means that there is also now a hole in the existing basement wall to connect the old part to the new part!

View of the bedroom from the hallway

This is the view of our bedroom from the new hallway. To the right of "the nook," you can see part of the master bathroom, including the shower.

The hole to connect the new hallway to the old part of the house isn't finished yet. They did cut it and frame the new hall way through the kids' bedroom last week, but it's covered with plywood for now. The kids' bedroom will be Ella's new bedroom when this is all finished, and it sacrificed two windows and about 4 feet of space to the addition. Still, it's a very decent sized bedroom.

View of the bedroom from the "nook"

This is the view from "the nook." You can see the old wall of the house, and those pieces of plywood are where the windows were previously. From this perspective, Dave's closet is on the right, then the hallway, the laundry room, and my closet is on the left. I can see the opening for the door to my closet, but you might not be able to since you are not intimate with this project (as I am).

Watching the framing of this addition has been really cool. I could see it in my head before, just from studying the floor plan, but seeing the walls go up was like watching that floor plan go from one-dimensional to three-dimensional in Auto-CAD. So neat.

View of the yard from the future site of my bed.

And this is the view from our bed - or rather, where our bed will be, eventually.

You can see Jewel E. Cat walking the gangplank in this picture. She is so much trouble. This entire project she has supervised the men all day long and she has conducted a full inspection every evening when they leave. Before the roof was framed, she followed us from room to room, walking on top of the walls while we did our inspection.

Last week, that fun all came to and end when they finished the roof. I assume she picked out a good location, from a high vantage point, like she has done every day - in the rafters. And I assume that the noise from the nail guns above her was just too much because she lost her composure and could not get up the nerve to jump down again. I ended up climbing a ladder, coaxing her close enough so that I could grab her by the scruff of the neck, and dropping her between the 2x4s. Dave was holding the ladder for me, and all I had to say was, "Move!" He knew what was about to happen. I couldn't carry her down with me because she was a veritable buzz saw, all legs and claws, so I just lowered her as far as I could and released. She landed on all four, like a good cat should do, and high-tailed it out of there. I was happy to see her serenely lounging on the porch all the next day.

Since these pictures were taken, there has been plumbing, electrical, and heating and air work done inside the addition. Our old pink bathroom was gutted down to the studs (the day the whole family go the evil stomach virus), and the hall was framed out in the kids' old bedroom. I'll get more pictures this week of all that good stuff. The kids have embraced their temporary home in The Big Room, and I just try not to look in there when I pass by. It's a disaster, but we are so lucky to have a room big enough to hold a full sized mattress, a crib mattress, two chairs with matching ottomans, two end tables, a dining room table, a china cabinet, a sideboard, an old cabinet sewing machine, a play kitchen, a dollhouse, a McDonald's drive-thru, and two Little Tykes coupes, so I'm not complaining too much.