Friday, February 28, 2014


Baby T said "Kiss!" a day or two ago.


I visited a couple of home stores this week, and one of them had samples of Marmoleum.

The good news is that it's very natural looking and not plasticky at all.  The samples I saw were BEAUTIFUL and I think it will be very difficult to figure out which colors to go with for a grey-and-white or light-grey-and-charcoal checkerboard, as there are a number of greys in their line, and they pretty much all look fantastic.   The bad news is that it sounds like the installation is finicky and there may or may not be anybody in town who can do it.  I also need to do a little research with regard to how it is in potentially we areas (powder room and bathroom).  Obviously, it is a standard kitchen material.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Phases 3, 4 and 5

There are three more phases left to discuss.  These are much less disruptive, as they only involve bedrooms and bathrooms.

Phase 3

  • paint master bedroom and master bath white (covering up pink)
  • remove dirty pink carpet from master bedroom and master bath and replace with more neutral color (white or cream?) in bedroom and perhaps the grey-and-white checkerboard Marmoleum in the bathroom (if it is bathroom safe).
  • major renovation of master bath, replacing purple swirl vanity, built-in tub and shower and removing purple toilet fixtures and replacing with white  
Phase 4
  • paint kid baths
  • repaint kids' rooms if needed (we did it before moving in in 2013)
  • redo kids' storage
  • get D bed (captain's bed?) and desk
Phase 5
  • Paint and decorate Baby T room to taste (I believe in the magic of bedding and removable wall decals--you don't need more than that)
The only really intimidating item is the master bath renovation, but it's a doozie.

Phase 2 of renovation plan

Here's Phase 2, which is concerned with finishing up the kitchen and the laundry room:

  • replace mauve laminate countertops with marble laminate countertops and backsplashes in both kitchen and laundry room (we might eventually replace the marble laminate with some other surface)
  • paint laundry cabinets glossy white (they are currently a sort of dirty cream)
  • swap out older appliances for stainless (we currently have some stainless, some black and some white--too many colors!)
  • leave granite on island??? (It looks pinkish, but I'm hoping it will look much less pink when the pink Formica is gone)
  • switch out water lily ceramic cabinet knobs for brushed nickel or similar
  • What to do about kitchen cabinets?  They are currently a pinkish pickled late 80s/early 90s finish.  I'm thinking painting white, charcoal, dark blue, or doing a dark stain.  Conceivably, we could do two colors, for instance, charcoal lower cabinets and white upper cabinets (it sounds weird, but actually looks great) and is probably a lot easier to keep looking nice).
The flooring will already have been taken care of by Phase 1.

One quandary I have is that we have gold tone door knobs and fixtures everywhere.  How many of these do we need to replace with brushed nickel or at least something non-gold?  Fortunately, it's not a super high pressure issue, as my husband could easily do that himself. 

Phase 1 of renovation plan

I've been working on a phased renovation plan.  It won't be for any time soon, as 2014 is supposed to be dedicated to the purchase of a minivan and 2015 is supposed to be for starting (!) college savings.  I've really been choking on the entry (as we want a floor with some give to it that doesn't look cheap), but I think I've got a color scheme now.  I have no idea Here's Phase 1 (the whole downstairs, except for a bedroom, a bath, and most of the kitchen):

  • grey and white (or charcoal and light grey) checkerboard Marmoleum in entry, hall, powder room, laundry and kitchen (replacing pink-veined marble-look white tile)
  • white paint everywhere downstairs except for one bedroom and bath (replacing pinkish paint)
  • wall paper in powder room (vinyl? toile? chinoiserie? color? not sure), replacing pink palm wallpaper
  • replace several ugly light fixtures (I've seen a lot of prettier alternatives)
  • replace dirty pink carpet on stairs and in upstairs hallway with fresh carpet (dark beige? medium brown? definitely not a darker brown)
  • do we go white or black with stair rail? (it's currently white)
  • do any windows need to be replaced? (hope not)
  • is front door OK? (I really like the ornamental glass panes, I hope it can be repaired--there may be a little bit of decay)
  • chocolate brown leather sofa or sectional for living room
  • media center (IKEA? color?)
  • turn Baby T's playroom into game room/playroom for everybody
  • living room decor with soft blues and soft rosy reds 
I have a lot of blue stuff, and if we are going to do white walls, brown carpet, white-and-grey checkerboard flooring, the challenge is going to be to warm it up.  I suppose I should eventually work on bringing in those soft rosy reds wherever I can, but that's going to be the final layer of decoration.  (I might wind up doing the powder room in a rosy red, though.)

D's warning sign

D put the following warning on the door of his room:
Do not come in I am blow guning my castle

Checkerboard II

Here is a gallery of grey-and-white checkerboard floors, including some used in entries.  Based on my reading of comments around the internet, it looks like it might be a good idea to go for a vinyl or Marmoleum or similar that has flecks in it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


I've been wrestling with the question of what to do with our pink-veined white marble-look tile flooring in the entry, hallway, laundry, powder room and kitchen.  The problem is 1) that we want a softer material with some flex in it 2) the tile runs right into some hardwood in the living room.  I hesitate to put a wood-look or stone-look vinyl right next to actual hardwood or in the entry (I think it wouldn't be bad at all elsewhere).  On reflection, I'm thinking that a checkerboard vinyl might be just the thing.  We probably wouldn't do black-and-white, but I think charcoal-and-white or light grey-and-white might be very subtle.  (Theoretically, beige-and-white might be OK, but charcoal is nice, and I feel like we'll have a lot of beige and brown elsewhere.  Blue-and-white is probably too much, but it might be OK in just a kitchen.)  The nice thing about checkerboard vinyl is, it won't look fake.  It will look like genuine checkerboard vinyl.

My husband tells me that 2016 is our very earliest possible renovation date, and it will probably be later.  We would be painting the downstairs (but not the bedroom or full bath), replacing the tile with the checkerboard vinyl, replacing carpet on the stairs and upstairs hallway, and putting new wallpaper in the powder room.  There would be some other odds and ends, but that would be the bulk of it.  


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Yesterday, D got a thump on the head from tipping over a yard waste container and got a goose egg on his forehead (he'd been helping me weed the borders).  He went to ER yesterday and had a CAT scan, but they said he looked fine.  We paid D $2 for weeding the borders and $1 workman's comp.  
  • Before that, we all visited a local commune/intentional living community/cult with a total of two moms, one 5-year-old, an almost 2-year-old and an almost 1-year-old.  We had a fabulous picnic lunch (quesadillas, sausage and falafel) and then went to see the sights.  We visited a water mill, an herb garden, a fiber arts gift shop, a garden, some goats, some chickens (C LOVED the chickens), a smokehouse (didn't get to go in but it smelled AMAZING), a woodworking shop, a pottery shop, and a big general gift shop (don't touch anything you're not buying, kids!).  Then we had dessert--ice cream, carrot cake (very good!) and coconut cream pie.  I am hoping to make a return visit in the fall for their big craft fair.  
  • After months of ignoring it, Baby T has finally gotten interested in the toy telephone.  I was concerned for a while that it was an obsolete toy, as it resembles no telephone that Baby T has ever seen in use.  But Baby T is finally interested in it.  In fact, today she set it on my lap.  It took me a while to figure out what she wanted (to have the on-switched flipped for her), but I eventually figured it out.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Baby T loves boxes

Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T loves being boxes, putting baby doll in a box, etc.  After a couple of episodes where Baby T got stuck in plastic milk cartons or tipped herself out, I've decided that she should have cardboard boxes.  She has already flattened one.
  • We have finally figured out that when Baby T says, "za?" she probably means "What's that?"  It took us weeks and weeks to figure out that that wasn't just her private word for a couple dozen different objects.  Sorry, Baby T!
  • Baby T and I went to Barnes and Noble this morning and stocked up on Sandra Boynton boardbooks.  My preference with toddler books is that they be 1) boardbooks 2) have pretty pictures 3) have short rhyming text.  So, Boynton is perfect for us. 
  • We had the first roach of spring this morning.  Our outdoor temperatures have been in the 60s and 70s, so I've been waiting for this to happen.
  • We are planning a first trip to Great Wolf Lodge for D's 9th birthday next month.  Unfortunately, it may take a while before the schedule lines up and we are able to do the trip, but in the meantime, I am ordering new swimsuits and on the lookout for new beach towels.  
  • It's too early right now, but I'm starting to think about Baby T's next acquisitions.  She has really all the 1-year-old toys we could want, but I have some major pieces that I'd like to get her for either her 2nd birthday or Christmas:  a covered sand and water table for the patio, a set of table and chairs (espresso?) and a play kitchen.  I'm also thinking of getting a set of bins for toys, but I'm also in talks with C about handing over her set of bins, as I can't help but notice that she doesn't actually play with that stuff anymore.  I have mentioned to C that if she hands over the bins, that will free up space for the Swingasan from Pier 1 that she wants so much.   
  • With regard to play kitchens, IKEA has a wood one (no doubt very sturdy and serviceable) but I've also been looking at Kidkraft kitchens.  I like their retro kitchens a lot, but haven't been able to figure out a color.  A red or cranberry is nicely unisex (and less vulnerable to graffiti) but Baby T might enjoy a pink one more.      

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sugar-free pudding sampler

Is it a bad thing that I'm excitedly waiting for this to arrive?

It would be kind of a crazy item to purchase from Amazon, except that as far as I can tell, the grocery stores do not stock sugar-free instant pudding besides chocolate and vanilla.

Will I eventually order the 24-packs?  Who knows.


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T rode along to the ranch for C's riding lesson.  C has been looking forward to Baby T's introduction to real live horses for a very long time.  Baby T was definitely interested in horses and said he-he-he (horse) excitedly when she saw C on a horse.
  • D and I biked to the college gym, D ran a mile on the track, I walked, and then we biked to meet my husband, C and Baby T at the cafeteria for lunch.  
  • We had a dryer service call earlier this week and we seem to be doing OK for the moment.
  • We have our costumes for C and D for history fair figured out.
  • Baby T is just about out of her 18 month outfits and headed into 24 month and 2T.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Coming out of the cold?

Here's some of what's happening:

  • We've been suffering the same cold snap as everybody else, but had a very pleasant high in the mid-60s yesterday.  And now we're back to the very low 40s.  
  • My husband is back from an East Coast trip--two college speaking engagements and a welcome addition to our minivan fund.  One of these days, we need to get the kids to NYC.
  • I took the kids to IHOP while my husband was away.  One thing we've talked about is having me take the kids out to dinner more when he's away, to take some of the pain out of travel.
  • We went to the zoo with friends on Saturday.  This was the first zoo visit where I've taken Baby T out of her stroller and unleashed her.  She loved it.  C was very good at walking Baby T around the zoo playground.  
  • Baby T was thrilled when her daddy reappeared.
  • Baby T loves the mirror and loves brushing her teeth with her toddler brush.  
  • The dryer is on the fritz.  It runs for a few minutes, then shuts off.  I can get it to dry a load, but it's very labor intensive.  We're thinking it's overheating.  (My husband has already had a go at clearing the exhaust hose.)  We had a previous dryer repair this fall.  I'm thinking we are probably looking at a new dryer.  The fridge is probably the next on the list, as our sellers warned us that it shuts off occasionally and has to be rebooted by unplugging it and then plugging it in again.  
  • Being new to the world of home ownership, I purchased the Consumer Reports kitchen issue, read through it a couple of times and then THREW IT OUT.  That was pretty dumb, as we've replaced a microwave and will probably be replacing a dryer and a fridge within the next year.  Next time, I will try to remember that we need to keep the kitchen issue until the next year's edition comes out.  
  • I love my duck painting that I got from my grandparents!  
  • We are deciding between a trip to the beach for D's birthday or our first family outing to Great Wolf Lodge.  He would enjoy both, he says, but he would prefer the beach, which is more of a drive. We're still thinking about it.  He's going to the West Coast this summer, so he will get the beach.     

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dave Ramsey on college degree choice

From the January 31 show:

"If you get a degree, and people laugh when you say it, that was not a good idea."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February update

Here's some news:
  • We and the big kids recently watched all 5 hours of The Deluge (Potop), which is about sin and repentance and the successful Polish response to a Swedish invasion.
  • Baby T loves her reflection.
  • Baby T loves brushing her teeth (and she has so many of them to brush!).
  • Baby T has been toting her baby doll around for weeks now.  She may be saying "dah" for dolly.  
  • C took 2nd place at a school-wide spelling bee.  A 7th grader took 1st.  C is going to the regional round.  Yay!
  • Our temperature variations have been extreme.  A couple days ago, we had a large roach (a traditional local harbinger of spring) show up in our living room, but a recent 10 day forecast predicted 6 days with lows in the 20s.
  • History fair approaches...I just ordered a leather (or faux leather--not sure which I got) jacket for C to wear as Amelia Earhart.  My husband has already ordered an aviator's cap and some goggles and I think we can find her a scarf.  D is going to be a medieval mathematician, and we need to make (i.e. C needs to make him) a cloak.    
  • We (or mainly my husband) had a huge household maintenance day on Saturday.  He put in baby gates on Baby T's doorway and the top of the stairs, changed some light bulbs, changed HVAC filters, and put in the new convertible car seat.