Saturday, December 28, 2013

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot...

And however the rest of that song goes....
This is that time of year that bloggers across the world wide interwebs take the time to look back at their year and summarize what's happened on the blog or summarize a series of significant bloggy and/or personal events.  I guess i'm much the same. 
Actually, it's not just bloggers that do this.  With the year ticking up one more notch, I think it's human nature to think about the year in review and try to make some sort of sweeping generalization or judgement of whether it was "good" or "bad".  I think that's a bit unfair to good old was a long 365 days.  Too much happened to summarize in a few snappy paragraphs.  I'll do my best to hit a few hghlights (some of which were mentioned, some are new).

We did a lot in Sarah's Big Girl bedroom - check out a few of the posts here:

And the biggie is that we did a full-on down-to-the-studs renovation of our kitchen. 

So one thing I've come to see is that I didn't do a lot in 2013.  Less than half the posts when compared to 2012 (my first full year of blogging).  I should fix that (do I sense a resolution there??).  There are a few reasons - the biggest reason was the kitchen.  In a small house like ours, a huge kitchen renovation like we did was so disrupting, that it was difficult to even think about anything else, let alone DO something about it .  Pretty much no matter where I went, I was facing evidence of the destruction/or construction that was going on.  So other projects were untouched and or dining room (a.k.a. my craft space) was cluttered and messy.  I'll say this, no other project has had such a positive impact on our day-to-day life than our kitchen reno has, and it's only been done for a few months.  Baking Christmas cookies in there was FANTASTIC.

Now that all the excuses are out of the way, I'll say that 2013 was a great year.  We've had tons of fun, completed off the BIGGEST project on our house so far, potty trained the 3 year old.  To do's for 2014 include addressing our ugly stairwell, maybe the basement, and getting healthier.  Plus, I want to do more crafty things, smaller decor and organizational projects.  I hope to have closer to 100 posts in 2014.  About 2 every week if all goes well.

I'd like to take a moment to wish everyone a very happy Happy HAPPY New Year.  I hope 2014 brings joyful moments, fun projects, and fabulous memories.  I hope for health and happiness for me & my family and for you and yours!  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shades of Greige

I've been a bad, bad blogger.  And I've maybe been a lazy homeowner.  Since we got our kitchen to a usable state, we stopped.  Nothing much has been going on around here - in the home improvement area anyway.  We have been enjoying a bit of a break from the work we do around the house.  It been nice to have a break because the kitchen had been such HUGE project, and while it's not *done*, the bulk of the inconvenient/messy/frustrating work is over. YAY!

The break is over and I've switched gears to something completely different.  The living room.

Meet the living room as it was when we bought the house in 2007.

A few things we did first: Mirror, Wallpaper & Carpet = Gone.  That table is gone too (although it did hang out in the basement for a long time).  The front door and windows have been replaced.  And we painted.  The paint color I chose was called "Coastal Sand".  It's a neutral brown, sort of a medium toned tan.  It's the color in my parents' family room.  It worked because it went with everything.  It was fine.

Fast forward to a few years after that when we painted our bedroom a color called "Kindling Wood".  This was before this color family got trendy and got the name, but it's a shade of "greige".  I remember as i was rolling it on, I said to Jason, "I really wish we had put this color downstairs because I love it."  And I do still. 
Truly, ever since we painted the greige in our bedroom, I've hated the color in our living room.  Hate is a strong word, but maybe I knew the tan color just wasn't it.  

So last week while I was procrastinating writing a paper for an education class I'm taking, I decided it would be the best time to paint the living room.  And since the Home Depot guys convinced us that we would need 5 gallons of paint to do one bedroom, we have had 2.5 gallons of this paint in our basement.  So I did it.  I shook the heck out of that can of paint, grabbed a brush and cut-in cup and went to town.  

Here's where we are now:

I LOVE IT.  It's so much more the feel that I was going for.   This angle is the same as the last of the 3 living room pics from 2007, just so you know what you're looking at.  And sorry for the weird shot - I"m trying to shoot around the Christmas tree :)

Here's a peek at this year's tree compared to last year's tree so you can see the old and the new colors side by side.

And is it crazy to decide to repaint the living room a month before Christmas?  I guess a little crazy, but it's totally worth it.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So what happened to November?

That's the big question, isn't it?  What happened to November?  I'll tell ya, if I can sum up theme with one phrase, it'll be this: Everyone Got Sick.

Sure, it started with Sarah and Chris trading sick days, but not super sick.  Then came Chris being super sick.  Like down & out for about a week.  I think it was the flu, poor dude was full-on miserable.  Then as that was wearing off, Sarah ended up at the pediatrician for a checkup and bam - ear infection.  Then the very next day - I kid you not - the VERY NEXT DAY I woke up with a sore throat.  And that was it.  All down hill.  Sick sick sick for over a week.  The flu, I think.  Fever, aches, headache, chills, cough, congestion. Grossnesss for DAYS.  And not just me - Jason had it too!   And you know what's not fun?  Being sick when the other adult in the house is as sick as you are.  

It was so pathetic.  The two of us, bundled in blankets and suffering through hours of bad TV for a week.  Oh and we had to cancel our Thanksgiving plans.  So that was a little unexpected fun for November, my first ever TG dinner to prepare.  Can't let the kids down, ya know?  

So I bet you are wondering what's going on in the house...NOTHING.  A zillion things to do and we've all been too sick to get anything done.

Needless to say, I'm glad to put November behind us and I'm so looking forward to December and Christmas and 2014!


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Kitchen Reno - The Doors

So far we had been keeping drawers and doors in the basement to avoid dinging things up before we had to. We didn't want to worry about granite installers or appliance delivery guys accidentally banging tools into brand new cabinets.  So this past weekend we finally installed all the doors and drawers!  

The doors we chose were full-overlay meaning that the cabinet doors cover the frame basically from edge to edge.  There was no big reason I chose this other than it was what I liked.

The style I chose was a good balance between a bit of detail and a simple classic shaker style.  It's hard to put into words what I was looking for, but I knew it when I saw it.  I also knew I wanted white painted cabinets.  Now the designer cautioned me against paint saying it doesn't wear as well as stained cabinets, and while this may be true, I wanted what I wanted.  I didn't want to settle for a stain and then spend the next 5 years wishing I had just picked what I really wanted.

I love them.  They are perfect!  Or not exactly perfect....  I'll explain that.

Painted cabinet doors are not perfect.  The paint is like a shell over wood and because wood expands and contracts, it is expected and totally normal for there to be joint lines where the pieces of the door are originally glued together.  What I noticed when we installed the cabinets is that some of the joint lines were HUGE.  I didn't like it.  It bothered me.  And one of the cabinet doors had some chipped paint.  
Ok, I get that over time we might end up with paint chips, dings, dents, and big joint lines, but I thought things should be pretty darn perfect on day one.  And so I called my designer and she came by the house.   We talked over a few things and she's having 2 of the doors replaced.  

I can't say enough how important it is to work with someone you like for this kind of project.  I had a few really glowing recommendations about our cabinet place and my whole experience working with these folks has been fantastic.  They want their customers to be thrilled with their results - and I am!  They are making things right, they asked a lot of great questions so that by the time I handed over large sums of money I was confident in my choices and excited.  So my best advice on a big renovation is to pick a good cabinet place (do you think a big box store would bend over backwards to make sure I was happy???)

OK so here's the big reveal - 

And just a reminder of what we started with - 

Hardware to come!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Granite!

Since this is our first kitchen renovation, I don't know how common this is, but we waited on putting doors on the cabinets until the granite counter top was installed.  We wanted to reduce the risk of any dings from people moving big things around.  Last week was Granite Day.  It was quite exciting as it meant a return to a true kitchen-like space for us.

The template guy came and was in and out in about 30 minutes.  He basically used what looked like thin plywood and shims and hot glue to create the exact shape of our kitchen counter.  He marked out where the sink and faucet would go, ,as well as noting any other special instructions (rounded corners, etc.).  Then about a week and a half later it was time for installation.  

Our kitchen was in 4 pieces of stone - two small ones and then 2 larger ones that were epoxied together.  To seal that seam, the installers used a pretty cool device that used vacuum pressure to push the two separate slab pieces together.  The resulting seam is so tiny, you really can't see it. 

Here's a photo from the installation - the white things on the counter grab the slabs and use a vacuum (hot a hoover - but a strong suction force powered by an air compressor) to pull the two pieces together.

The installers also put the sink in place. We opted not to have them attach the dishwasher as it would have needed to be leveled before the granite installers arrived.  We will attach it directly to the cabinets when it's ready.

So where are we?  Done?  Nope, but we are now back to having a usable kitchen space :)  

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Longest Week Ever...

Just a few thoughts to express here...
It's Monday - and 2 weekends ago was a crazy kitchen renovation marathon with the cabinets being put up.  They look great and I'm so excited.  
Then on Friday of last week, the granite guy came out to do the template for the counters.  I was planning on blogging about it, but since it's not a DIY thing and because it was so fast, I'll spare you a thousand words with photos and say that they used wood & hot glue to make the template and it only took 30 minutes.

So now it's the waiting game.  We were told 7-9 days for the granite.  I was told that the granite people would call early this week to schedule the installation, and it would be about a week after that. 

So they'll call tomorrow maybe and then a week?  The longest week of my life!  I am beyond excited.  I can't wait to reclaim my dining room!

FYI - went appliance shopping on Saturday evening and it was mostly a bust.  Nobody carries counter-depth fridges in showrooms, so shop at home if you need something less common/popular than what's standard.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Cabinet Craziness

Well, we've had some fun around here in the last few days.  

Friday morning the cabinets were delivered.  I should have taken a picture because it was a really impressive stack of boxes in the garage.  See that word "was" in that last sentence.  Yeah, the stack of boxes is gone.  I know what you're thinking, "boy that was fast!"  and it totally was because Saturday morning Jason's brother, Kevin came!  

Cabinet weekend was 2 long days of cabinet hanging excitement here.  Kevin, who is a carpenter and has done this stuff before many times, was able to lend his expertise.  We'd have been up a creek without his help.  

At the end of the first day they had all the wall cabs and half the lower cabinets hung on one wall, including the crown molding.  One thing to note (that I didn't know before) is that if you're doing crown on your cabinets, you probably need to add a nailer to the top of the cabinet boxes so you have something to attach the crown molding to.  Once the moldings are in place, you won't see the nailer at all.

Here's a progress pic from early on Day 1:

And at the end of the second day they were done!  The days were long (Sunday night ended at 10:30 PM - sorry neighbors!) but in just 2 days, the two of them completed work that would have taken WEEKS with just Jason and I to work on stuff on Saturdays and Sundays.

Before I show you how it's looking now, let's take a look at what it looked like when we bought the house...

And here it is now...

Note that none of the doors are on right now - we decided to leave them off until after the counter tops are done.  I don't want to risk a ding/scratch in a door during that whole process.

I'll have more pics once things are more done (counters & doors & drawers and whatnot).

Side note - if you do find yourself with a lot of boxes like we did - you may want to also get a big roll of tape and let/help your kids to build a cardboard castle.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Getting our Tile on!

***this post has been waiting to be finished for over a week, but with the start of the school year fo both kids plus my own grad school class starting up, blog stuff got shifted to the back burner...progress is happening though and that's the important thing!***

 WOOT WOOT!  Floor time!

I may have mentioned this before, but in case you don't recall, when we pulled out the floor in the kitchen, we found no fewer than four layers of flooring piled one on top of another.  Sometimes with a layer of luan in there for good measure.  I guess if you're just doing vinyl flooring then slapping it down over the existing floor is the quick & easy way to go, but since we wanted something else and because the existing floor had gotten higher than the hardwoods in the adjacent rooms, the old stuff had to go.

There were a few options to choose from when considering kitchen flooring.  One thing we thought about was doing hardwood to match the rest of the house.  The only big concern we had with that was how to work it from the kitchen to the dining room, it would have involved pulling some planks up and putting new ones down.  Color matching would have also been an issue.  We also considered some sort of cork flooring.  I had seen it a few places and thought it looked fantastic, but the process was about as involved as hard-wood would have been, so we decided to look at the third option - tile.  Tile is something Jason has done before (2 bathrooms) so it's something we KNOW we could handle.  

We visited our favorite tile shop (if you're in southeast PA, check out Orlandini Tile in Marcus Hook) and saw tons of gorgeous options.  We fell in love with these wood look tiles and brought home a few samples to choose from.  I highly encourage you to bring home samples to lay down on your floor before making a final decision.  See how it looks in the room - does the light make it look lighter/darker?  does the paint make it look bluer or greenish?  I changed my mind at least twice by looking at different samples at different times of day.

Finally we went with one called "Newport Charcoal" -- it's got sort of a gray-ish tan thing going on.  It reminds me a bit of driftwood.  It's porcelain tile, so it'll be durable and easy to clean.  Both good features.   

Up until this point we had been able to get by in the renovation process without totally emptying the room.  We still had our stove & fridge in place, but when you're working on the floor, empty is best.  So the fridge moved to the dining room and the stove moved to the back porch.  If you have to do these sorts of things, don't underestimate the time it takes.  For the fridge we had to take the doors off and and put them back on and for the stove we had to deconstruct part of the back deck so we could take out the sliding glass doors.  

Finally, we got down to actually starting on the floor.  The first step was to lay down some concrete backer board.  This board had to be put down with thinset AND screws.  It was a pretty straightforward process but it took a while (and the drill is very tired).  This took the better part of two weekends.

After that we determined the tile layout.  There's two big options:  pattern or random.  I liked a simple offset pattern for this tile, so we went with an 8" offset, so with 24" tiles, the pattern repeats every 3 rows.  We also spent some time figuring out the starting point of the pattern - we looked at how the tiles would line up with the doors and the other end of the room.  We didn't want a seam right in the middle of the doorway and we didn't want to be finishing courses of tile with skinny slivers.   It's not a huge deal, but we just wanted things to look right.


Once the layout was decided, Jason cut tiles for a few rows.  It's a good idea to "dry fit" your tiles to make sure you're not stuck with a bunch of wet thinset and tiles that don't fit right.  We already had a wet saw, but they're not terribly expensive (about $100) and they are also available to rent at Home Depot or Lowes.  
Layout was a pretty straightforward process.  The little white "X"s are spacers.  They're used to maintain an even grout line between the tiles.  We went with 1/8" spacers.  It's a pretty small grout line, but we liked the look.
Tiling took 2 weekends.  The first weekend we were able to lay about 1/2 of the tile.  Midweek, Jason put down a bit more and the last of it was laid on the second Saturday morning.  

Grouting started the same afternoon.  Grouting is a bit of a process - you put the grout down and really work it into the joints and then you have to come back and wipe the excess with water.  We ended up spending most of Saturday night wiping grout and there are a few places where there's set up grout in the textured "grain" of the tile, but overall I'm super happy with the floor.  It's exactly what we hoped for!
Let's take a quick look at what we started with in the kitchen:

And here's how things are now:

Next up:  CABINETS!!!  

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Let there be PAINT!

Ok, so one of my personal issues seems to be the inability to come up with funny/punny blog post titles.  I'm not even sure why I think this is an important thing, but there it is.

In case you might not have guessed, the kitchen has been PAINTED.

I can't even explain how excited I am by most kitchen related stuff.  This project has been LOOOOONG and somewhat painful/inconvenient so now that we're starting to do stuff that's part of the final product (like paint, tile, etc), I feel like we're finally seeing the light at the end of this tunnel.  It's so awesome.

Painting falls into my realm of responsibility and that's totally fine by me.  Jason handled bedtime with the kids for a few nights while I got it done.  

For the ceiling, we went with "Whisper White" from Home Depot (this is our standard white here for ceilings & trim) and on the walls I used "Gentle Rain" from Home Depot.  It's a warm-ish gray color.  I had considered a lot of options for paint colors including blues (which I loved) and various shades of gray.  The gray won out in the long run because of 2 things - I am in love with a colored back splash tile and because I was worried that I'd be "over" a bold wall color really fast.  So I went with a neutral and am very happy with the result.

So here's the "before" 

And here's the "after" 

I really like the color.  I was a bit nervous that the color would be too dark (since we don't get a TON of natural light), but it's really just right.

Check out the floor!  We've got cement backer board down to get ready for the next step in this project - FLOORING!!!  Yeah, I'm excited!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Primed & Ready to Go!

So we're back!  After some time at the beach (and away from the house) we were ready to roll and really make some progress when we came back.  As always, even small tasks seem overwhelming when you just don't want to do them.

Case in point - sanding drywall.  It's a simple thing.  Put sanding sponge in hand and rub on wall until smooth.  But as simple as it is, it is also unpleasant.  The person doing it gets incredibly dirty.  It's exhausting work.  And it's a pain to clean up.  Jason was the sole sander this time (we've done it together on other projects) and it's finally DONE (can't tell you how glad we are that it's behind us!). 

After sanding the drywall comes priming.  Priming fresh drywall can be pretty time consuming.  The walls seem to really soak up the primer, so it really seems like you're only getting about 2 square feet of coverage with each load of the roller.  It's a lot of up & down the ladder (especially when doing the ceiling), but it's a super important step that you really shouldn't skip.  I've seen places where I've accidentally missed the primer and the paint doesn't even stick.  BIG mess!

After priming, I spent a day or so in different lights looking for places I missed or that have a drip.  Sometimes that can be tough to see when it's all white-on-white.  So after a little work with a brush, the priming was DONE and we were ready for PAINT!!

Here's a quick before & after:  

OK, I know it's not that exciting, but it is a step in the right direction.  I like this phase of the project because the work becomes a little more visible.  We're finally getting to parts of the project that we'll see when we're done!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting Away

I'm not quite sure how we got to the 12th of August before I realized, but wow it's been over a month since the last post!  Typical for this time of year, things at our house have been busy with the pool and a trip to the beach.  All in all I was there for about 2 weeks with the kids.  Here are some highlights!

We are big fans of south Jersey and the beaches there.  In addition to days on the beach we made it to mini-golf, the zoo, out for ice cream and the boardwalk to ride some rides.

The best part of any vacation is coming back home feeling refreshed and, for us, refocused.  We're recharged and ready to rock and roll on the kitchen.  Look for updates soon!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Clearing the Air

I like to write about projects, DIY stuff, upgrades, and updates, but we all know that the majority of stuff we do in our houses is routine home maintenance.  Am I right?  Gutter clearing, fixing squeaky doors, and leaky faucets.  Not so exciting or glamorous, and easy to put it off and forget about it.

Well today I was embarrassingly reminded of one simple home maintenance task that we had let slide for waaaaaay too long.

Air filters.  A classic case of "out of sight, out of mind" for us.  Air filters are part of your furnace/AC system that clear the air.  They catch dust, gunk, anything that would go from the part of the system that cools the air to the part of the system that puts it back into your house.  Air filters are a good thing.  

We get our oil furnace serviced annually by the company that delivers our oil as part of our contract.  And today was the day!  Exciting, right?  Who thinks about heat in JULY?  Nobody, which is why they were available.  

So they come in, go to the basement and do their thing.  Checking the things that need checking, tightening bolts, cleaning things out.  Or rather, I think that's what they did down there.  I didn't watch.  And then one guy came up and said, "Can you come down here, I want to show you something."  And he showed me the grossest, gunked up air filter.  See below.  But not if you're eating.  Seriously gross.

Apparently, homeowners should be replacing air filters every 30-60 days.  And if you're doing drywall (like we are) or have a pet (like we do) then 30 days is the rule, especially in the summer.  I'm not gonna lie - I'm not sure we've replaced the filters EVER.  And we've had the furnace/AC for 4 years.  I guess we've been having "signs" of needing new ones desperately for a while and didn't realize what it meant.  First off, our duct work in the basement has been having some condensation on the outside - big drippy drops of water.  And our vent covers are pretty dirty looking, and I'm sure that once the new filters are in place they'll do a better job of catching stuff.  And finally,  we've been having a pretty gross smell from the vents and also in the basement.  

New filters aren't terribly expensive - these were the "mid-range" from Ace Hardware and were about $5/each. 

The installation was pretty straight forward.   Flip off the whole thing first to eliminate the risk of injury from anything that might be going on in there. Then pop off a side panel and slide the filters in place!  Seriously simple! 

I'll post an update on here after a few days letting you guys know how improved things are with new filters!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Walking on Broken Glass

Well, not really walking on it, because that sounds like a bad idea, but dealing with it for sure.  You gotta deal with broken glass when it happens.

So back when we started the demo phase of this awesome kitchen project we got ourselves a dumpster and then when it was full we had the dumpster truck come and haul it away.  All told it was only here for about a week and a half.   It was really plenty of time, but with the way these projects go, we weren't finished chucking things out.

In fact, we've had a big bit of rubbish leaning up against our garage for about a month now.  The glass doors we replaced.  Now with regular house debris, we can usually break it down and bag it up, but how do you do that with 2 sliding glass doors? 

Answer: with a hammer.

Yeah, it didn't sound like an awesome idea to me either, but it was better than keeping the doors in the garage until the end of time.  

Jason did the deed - he lay out 2 layers of thick plastic sheeting (we had it from various other projects) and carefully laying the first door down on the ground, he whacked it with a hammer until the glass was broken (2 panes).  He used the hammer to knock as much glass from the frame as possible and then he did the whole thing again with the second panel.  

There was a lot of glass.  Enough for 2 pretty heavy bags.

Then he used his handy-dandy drill to unscrew the frames and pull apart the aluminum.  It was pretty quick to deconstruct it all, but messy.  Taking the frame apart released the plastic/rubbery stuff that held the glass in place, scattering tons of tiny shards into the grass next to the driveway.  The job wasn't without it's hazards.  Poor guy suffered a grievous injury.

After bagging that up, Jason vacuumed the grass. Yep, he pulled out the old shop vac and went to town on the grass as if it were 1970s style shag carpeting.   He actually sucked up a drill bit that had fallen and gotten lost in the grass, so that was a win.

All that's left from the doors is the aluminum frame which is disassembled and in a pile on the driveway.  Jason is planning on taking it down to a scrapyard to see if we can get a bit of cash back for it.  Every penny helps, right?

So that was an exciting Saturday.  Yeah, I know it's not as visually stimulating as back splash, granite counters, or cabinet hardware, but you gotta write about something as you wait for joint compound to dry, right?  


Monday, July 1, 2013

Thoughts on Parenting a Challenging Kid

Year three for Chris was a tough one.  He seemed to take "terrible twos" to new heights in terms of shenanigans, difficult behavior, and meltdowns.  He destroyed furniture, drew on walls, smeared poo, screamed, ran around like a lunatic.  He threw food, dumped cups of ice water, and generally caused chaos wherever he went.  He pushed us to our limits on many occasions.  There were times when I just walked into the bathroom, closed the door behind me and burst into tears.  How could this little person push me over the line? 

I read books and sought advice from friends.  The more I read and talked, the more I felt as if it was my fault that things were like this.  I was told that he wouldn't do this stuff unless I was "letting him get away with it" or that we "need more rules".   I felt hopeless and miserable.  

I started to wonder what exactly people thought was happening in a house like mine, where there's a wild one.  Do people think that I sit back with my eyes shut and let the walls crumble around me?  Do they think we equip him with sharpies and scissors and let him loose?  The truth is that even if there are rules for behavior, some little ones will challenge them and a time out isn't a deterrent.  He just wasn't connecting the behavior with the time-out in a cause & effect way.  

Over the year we got better at being his parent.  We turned around his dresser so he couldn't climb the drawers or empty them out.  We took the shades out of the windows so he couldn't pull them down and took all books from the room to prevent shredding.  We installed gates EVERYWHERE, bought cups with lids for us and put knob covers on any door we didn't want him to open.  Yeah, it might sound like lockdown, but we turned our home into a place that would reduce his temptations so there would be less frustration for us (and more sanity) and more days where we had no time-outs or yelling.  We were ALL happier with things this way.  It's not pretty, but it's not forever.  

Somewhere along the line things started to change.  I'm not sure when exactly, and I honestly didn't realize how much things had changed until a friend who I rarely see said to me "From your posts on Facebook, it sounds like things are getting better".  And I thought....yeah, it had been a while since there was an "incident" so extreme that the world would be amused at hearing about it.  I started to think about my little boy (who was now 3 years old) and how far things have come in the last 6 months and it's remarkable.  He's still him but he's a better listener, time-outs ARE an effective deterrent for naughty behavior, and we even put the shades back in his bedroom.  He's not a perfect child, but his behavior is so changed that we feel hopeful for the future.  

So what was it that helped?  I think setting him up for success by extensive childproofing his spaces was really important.  But the biggest factor was just him growing up.  Maybe his behavior was related to the frustration that comes with limited verbal communication, maybe it was impulsiveness, maybe it was lack of cause & effect understanding.  I don't really know for sure, but things are better and I'm thankful.

To parents of a challenging child, who are at their wits end, who are in tears, or finding themselves saying "NO", "Stop that", "Don't touch", "Put it down", "Let go", or "Please do not eat that" more than they say anything else, please know it won't be forever.  It's not like a light switch.  The change can sneak up on you, and one day you will find yourself in a much calmer, happier place and wonder how the heck that happened.  


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kitchen Reno - Wall to Wall

Always busy around here - in addition to this kitchen renovation, our summer is full of trips to the pool, dances in the sprinkler, a bit of veggie gardening, and playing with friends.  Updates have been sporadic, but we ARE making progress!

This weekend was all about a little more wiring and a little more drywall.  It's not all up, but the room has about 90% of the studs covered!  It's starting to look and feel like a real room.  Let's take a look!

 OK so what you may notice is that this isn't ALL drywall!  Yeah, what's that all about?  Cabinet support.  For areas of the wall that will be holding up a wall cabinet, we decided to go with 1/2 " plywood instead of drywall.  Screws will hold well in there (in case we can't hit a stud) and because the "studs" on the exterior walls are ripped down 2x4s the plywood will add stability and strength.  It's a good thing.

What if you SEE it!??!?  You won't.  Our plan is to tile the back splash from the counter to the cabinets so even if a smidge of plywood is visible under the cabinet (and Jason assures me that it won't be visible), it would be covered with some pretty tile later.  

Also, note those little white wires poking out between the drywall & the plywood?  Those are the wires for the under cabinet lighting and will be connected to the light switch on the other side of the room.


Question for readers - what's the longest DIY project you guys have ever undertaken?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Kitchen Reno - What's Not to Like?

So what's not to like about a DIY Kitchen renovation?


The timeline.  It will take longer than you think.  This is always true.

Washing dishes in the bathroom sink.  It's small and annoying.

Not having a dining room.  It's become a kitchen.

Limited menus.  It's amazing how much I depend on counter space and small appliances to prep food.  We've been living on junk (and it shows).

The mess.  I have cleaned my basement 2-3 times now and it needs it again. 

Paper plates.  I am not a fan of paper plates - I don't mind them occasionally, but I hate eating all my meals off of them.  And it feels wasteful and expensive.


I only wish the end were in sight.  We still have a ton of work to do, but progress IS happening.  Just slowly.


Kitchen Reno - It's Electric!

Boogie woogie woogie!
I am probably dating myself when I say that the Electric Slide was a staple of middle school dances when I was a kid.  
So on to the latest update on our kitchen renovation.  Following the super exciting and picturesque phase that is framing, comes the equally exciting and picturesque phase that is wiring.  Yeah, wires.  So fun. 
I gotta say, I keep coming up with timelines in my head that have absolutely nothing to do with how long items will actually take.  I'm not trying to set my expectations too high, it's really just that without really knowing what a particular task entails it's hard to have an accurate idea of how long something will take.  When it was time to do wiring, I thought, "how long could this take?  A few hours??"  HA!  I'm learning more and more about the process and how long to budget for time.  
Poor Jason spent the better part of 2 days running up and down the basement stairs, drilling holes through the framing, stapling wires, and even drilling out parts of the concrete block to make room for the boxes.  At this point, I'd say that the wiring is nearly done - a few more outlets and then running the wires for the under cabinet lights.

Here we are:

And Jason's also started putting up the rigid foam insulation!  It's not a huge R-value (being only 1/2 inch thick) but every bit helps!


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