Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Here's some of what's happening:

  • Baby T has a new word:  "sword" (or as close as she can get to pronouncing it).  My husband made our two big kids each a large padded foam sword out of pool noodles and then a tiny one for Baby T. 
  • D really wants Baby T to start talking more.
  • Her current words are "sword" and "touch" and "heh" (horse).  She's had a lot of other words, but those are the ones in current rotation.  
  • We've got just under 2.5 weeks until the big UIL academic meet that C's going to be in.  
  • My husband just put up some safety netting on the stair railing this morning.
  • We are waiting to hear from the contractor as to our start date for the bathroom project.  
  • In the meantime, we discovered that one of our toilets is wasting an unnecessary $10 a month in water, so we'll be replacing it at the same time.  That leaves one final toilet from the old set--we'll get to it eventually.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Academic contest season

Suddenly, it is academic contest season.

  • This week, C participated in a regional spelling bee at the local community college.  There were only 15 participants, which was nice--I had been envisioning an all day affair.  C went out at 8th place--middle of the pack.  Her word was "sonata" (she doubled the "n").  It was almost exactly a hour, with a brutal duel toward the end (by which time Baby T and I were already scampering out in the hall).  
  • Before the bee, C and Baby T and I had a second breakfast on campus--tater tots, biscuit and bacon (the latter just for Baby T--I forgot it was a Lenten Friday while ordering).
  • C loved the community campus and I told her that once she's in high school, she can take courses there, for instance art.  It would be nice for C to be able to have a whole art course, rather than an hour here and there.
  • C especially liked being able to miss a whole morning of school for this, but she had to make it up over the weekend.    
  • And that's not all--we also have UIL (University Interscholastic League) coming up.  C is supposed to be representing her school in four different academic subjects.  For the first time ever, school is suddenly very, very serious about doing practices.  In past years, C has only had at most one practice session for one subject.  This year, at least three of the subjects she's signed up for are doing after school practices, often a weekly practice until the big UIL meet in April.  It's going to be a long, long three weeks.   
  • As I've said before, school is HARD.  
  • 2 months, 1 week more to go.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cow's milk

Baby T has finally warmed up to cow's milk at 17 months old after a number of months of just drinking water.  I offered her some whole milk in a cup today and she was operating the cup herself.

We got our quote!

Our contractor says he can do the bath job for $965 plus cost of flooring plus cost of toilet!!!

It looks like we're ready to roll.

Wimping out on Marmoleum?

Here's where we are:

  • We saw our contractor this morning to explain the scope of the bathroom job:  take out toilet, take out bidet, paint, baseboards, put in vinyl flooring, etc.  This is the contractor that put the roof on our house and painted the big kids' rooms.
  • To recap, we are not doing a whole bath, just a small room with a toilet.
  • Our contractor thinks he can use the existing plywood subfloor and the existing baseboards (I was very concerned about the baseboards).
  • He told us to look for a 6x5 vinyl remnant at a particular flooring store in town.
  • We are awaiting a quote for the job.  He thinks it can be done in 4 working days and that he would be able to start within 7-10 days of us giving him the green light.  Ideally, I'd like this to happen during the school year, so the kids won't be underfoot.  
  • My husband and I managed a little outing this morning with Baby T.  Among other things, we went to Lowes and found a plain brushed nickel toilet paper holder (the previous one, which has already been removed, was a brass scallop pattern).  I was very pleased to discover that both my husband and I like the brushed nickel.  
  • After lunch, we went to the flooring store the contractor had recommended and got a remnant just a little larger than he had asked for.  It's a light/beigeish/grey tile pattern and we paid $35 plus tax.  I think it looks fine.  
  • I think we have all of the finishes chosen, with one important exception--the paint color.  I will have to talk to the contractor about his recommendations.  It's going to be a white of some kind, with some gloss in it so it can be wiped down. 
  • While we were in the flooring store, I saw a marble-look checkerboard flooring (in some sort of higher-end vinyl or laminate--not sure which).  It looks like it would be much easier care than the Marmoleum I've been thinking about.  It is $6.50 a square foot, and we have a lot of square feet to cover.  I mentioned the Marmoleum to the salesmen, and he thought that Marmoleum would be overkill for a non-commercial setting.  I still wonder how it will look next to hardwood, and how it stands up to moisture (for instance in the kitchen, powder room and laundry).  The checkerboard product I was smitten with comes from Karndean.  I should try to get a sample.        

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Children's museum and birthday

This morning, the kids and I went to the children's museum and did a travelling exhibit with a lot of great hands-on activities.  Both C and Baby T hugely enjoyed the stuffed horse with toy curry comb and they both spent a lot of time brushing the horse.  Baby T was mostly occupied with increasing the entropy in the exhibit.  I took the kids to Panera's for lunch after that.  It was D's birthday, so I kept pulling out gifts throughout the day.  The big kids spent much of the day assembling a great LEGO castle with working portcullis and drawbridge--a grandma gift, naturally.  They will probably finish tomorrow.  D's haul included a couple of checks (he got 20% in cash and 80% went to our Great Wolf Lodge fund), a red umbrella, some toy gold coins, the LEGO castle, Settlers of Catan, a book on castles, a real trowel for better beach expeditions (toy shovels are so flimsy!), some washable markers (those went to C), and probably something else I am forgetting.

During Baby T's nap, C took out her marzipan, dyed it green, and made two Minecraft creepers, one for her chum who is nuts about Minecraft, one a cake topper for D's large round two-layer chocolate store cake.  (The creeper facial features were formed with chocolate jimmies, an excellent choice.)  The first creeper is now in the freezer, awaiting the first Monday after spring break when it will travel to school.  C put the second one on the cake (there were lots of fears that it was going to tip over, but it didn't) and wrote Happy Birthday in icing on the cake.  We had silver birthday candles, which were very pretty.  We had the cake after dinner and Baby T had part of a slice, too.  I froze a bunch of the cake in slices.

Plumbing II

A second plumber visit revealed that the toilet has a major design flaw due to holes (vents?) in the rear of the tank.  Whenever the water level in the tank reaches those vents (which is really not very high), it floods slightly.  Evidence suggests that this has happened repeatedly over the years and has contributed to water stains downstairs and damaged baseboards in the bathroom.  The good news is this is all clean water.  After some discussion, I had the plumber remove the carpet and carpet pad and I've been letting the plywood underneath dry.  I didn't have a new toilet put in, as putting in new flooring will require resetting the toilet anyway (as far as I understand the process).  Oh, and the plumber told me that the toilet that caused all of this probably cost $1500 or $1600 (!) back when it was new.

We'll be talking to a contractor in a week that we've worked with previously.  My current thinking on this is that we should take out the purple (!) bidet, replace the purple toilet with a $200 white one that works, paint the toilet area (it's a small separate room, which does allow us to do just this bit and have it look OK), replace the baseboards and put in new vinyl flooring (sheet or plank).  The question is, how much will all of that cost?  Also, when we finally redo the bath, won't we have to redo the flooring to match the bath?  At this point, however, I'm just so excited about the idea of paint, new baseboards, a new white toilet and new flooring that that doesn't seem very important.  It seems like we could have a pretty large improvement in quality of life just by doing that one little room.

I've got a pretty good handle on the color scheme for the house (although I haven't nailed down the exact colors and products).  I'm thinking white walls, grey floors and a lot of chocolate brown furniture (leather sofa, dining room table, etc.).  That may sound a little stark, but I'm hoping that it will warm up once I add appropriate textiles with soft blues and rosy reds.

I guess we're going to do this house one itty bitty room at a time.


Sunday, March 9, 2014


Here's some of what's happening:

  • We had a plumber in today for a leak that was coming through C's bathroom ceiling vent (!).  He said that they'll be able to troubleshoot it better when it dries a bit, so we're supposed to call them tomorrow.  It would be nice to have an answer already, but it does save us the double time billing for weekend work.  In the meantime, we're just closing off that bathroom, with occasional checks to see if the carpet is wet.  
  • The plumbing stuff started just as we were leaving, so my husband took all three (!) kids to church alone while I cleaned up and waited for the plumber.  Then they came home and I left for the Latin Mass at the same church while my husband gave the kids lunch, put Baby T down for her nap and waited for the plumber.
  • It's at times like this that having 3.5 baths comes in VERY handy.
  • I wonder if this episode is going to lead to our doing the master bathroom this summer instead of getting a minivan.  The bathroom is carpeted and this has been a helpful reminder of what a bad idea that is.  
  • There was a pinata after church today.  One of the Latin Mass-goers was giving a short talk about the symbolism of the pinata representing our battle with sin.
  • We went to IHOP for dinner.  Baby T had an enjoyable assortment of breakfast foods and then a run on a big nearby field and the opportunity to handle some large acorns under a burr oak (burr oak acorns are enormous).  Both C and D ordered crepes with cinnamon apple topping.
  • We're finally having cleaners tomorrow.  Yay!  They wouldn't come near us while we had chicken pox at home, but now it's gone and we can have somebody besides ourselves cleaning.  Yay!
  • This coming week is spring break and D's birthday.  We'll probably be spending much of tomorrow hanging out, waiting for the cleaners and the plumber, but we'll eventually escape.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Baby T keeps us guessing as to what she's saying (has she really been saying "door," "help" and "clothes") but it is very clear that Baby T is now saying "Touch!" a lot and in the appropriate context.  Last night at church, she was saying "Touch!" with regard to a statue of the Holy Infant of Prague high up on the wall in the cry room.

Baby T also seems to get the concept of touch screens.

My husband believes that Baby T was steering him away from footed pajamas for her and encouraging him to dress her in a two piece pink set.

In other news, C has been chosen to be on three different UIL teams and alternate for a fourth.  The big UIL competition will be in about a month.