Archive for July, 2011

Beat the heat and get things done

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

How do you let your two year old get some exercise when it’s sweltering outside?  Give him a water hose!  I dressed him in his thinnest jammies, so the bugs wouldn’t eat him, and let him get drenched with the hose.  He LoVeD it!

Come rain or shine, we still have to press on with the work.  In between torrential rain showers, I sprayed my dining room chandelier with a coat of primer.  I’m experimenting with a paint technique to rejuvinate our dated brass fixture (blog post coming).

The hubby kept working on the bricks.  We’ve finished this side of the house and the curve going to the porch looks really good (blog post coming).

We are SO close to finishing this side of the house.  We have about 3 square feet of the patio by the gate to finish.  Though we love the rain, it was frustrating trying to work between the storms all day long.  We had hoped to brush sand/cement/mortar in between the bricks to set them, but it was entirely too wet to try.

Instead of fighting it, the hubby decided to go with the storms and wash the cars!  Hey, free rain water – why not?

Inside, I kept the kids hydrated to stay cool while we gave the A/C a break during the storms.  Evelyn drinks out of a big girl cup and it is too cute to hear her little teeth clinking on the glass.

She’s got 4 big chompers now and I can see a few more coming in.  She’s just shy of 9 months and I can’t believe how fast she is growing.

I tried to give Oliver a haircut to help him stay cool, but he was having none of that!  I think he’s still traumatized from the last hair cut I gave him.  Not sure what we’ll do this time around…

We are almost 100% finished with the kids’ rooms.  We hung all the curtains and valances today, changed out the last of the plugs for new ones, brought down the closet doors from the attic, and brought in some toys from the living room.  I have some cool ideas for making wall art to hang in each room that I will be working on this week.

I refused to touch the kitchen until we started wrapping up the other rooms.  We’ll start on the kitchen tomorrow and hopefully knock it out over the week.  We have a busy week with Oliver starting a new school, the realtor coming by to fill out paperwork, a couple doctor’s appointments, a playdate for Evelyn, and a trip to Marbles for a family night out.  Busy much?  :-)

Hope everyone has a great week ahead!

Home Renovation Blues

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

It’s been 2 months now since we started working on the house to get it ready for listing.  It seems that every time we get one thing done, 3 more problems need to get fixed. 

Last weekend, we evicted the kids from their bedrooms and had those painted head to toe.

Oliver actually likes crashing in our bedroom.  I think he likes being close to mommy at night.  At least, that’s how I’ll remember the story…

Evelyn loves the chaos.  Every day she has a new mess in the living room to explore.  She crawls around the boxes like they were her very own obstacle course.

Can you believe that we have run out of stuff to pack?  Between the yard sale, the storage unit, and donations to various centers, our house if pretty empty.  We just made a trip today to the Habitat ReUse Center with a van full of stuff to donate.

We manage to stay busy every day, every night, yet I still feel like we are so far away from listing.  Here’s what we did today:

– dug up the bricks from the side we did in 2008, cleared out all the weeds/debris, and relaid t hem.  finished 100% the bricks along the sidewalk to the house.  sunk the last metal supports for the brick patio.
– reinforced the kitchen floor from underneath the house in the crawlspace.
– cleaned both bathrooms, did the dishes, picked up the house, cleaned and vacuumed the kid’s rooms, actually took a shower in the morning, and squeezed in a 2 hour nap in the afternoon!  (these are huge accomplishments for me)
– cut the shelves for Oliver’s closet
– gave both kids a bath and got them squeaky clean.
– had home cooked food for all 3 meals (no Chick-fil-a this weekend) and precooked dinner for tomorrow.
– made a trip to the donation center.

Lastly, we finally watched a movie that we got from Netflix 2 months ago – the Departed.  Tomorrow, we have another jam packed day.  I cannot wait for all this mess to be finished!

Installing New Countertops Part 2

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

It took the installers a day to build the countertop at their shop and they came back the day after to install it.  First order of business, chisel and sand away all the liquid nail globs.

Evelyn munched on books and supervised from the living room.

Next, they hauled in the countertop in one solid piece.  Lucky for them it was a straight shot from our back deck, through the living room, and into the kitchen.  If they had to come through the front door, they would have been screwed! 

Evelyn is making sure they don’t ding the walls with that huge top.

Here it is!  We chose a brown granite looking laminate called Butterum Granite #7732-58.  I actually like it a lot!  The hubby thought it would be darker.  It matches the rest of our house and is a nice neutral color.  Not to mention all the stains it will hide.  :-) 

We had them narrow the bartop down from 36 inches to 30 inches.  I cannot believe how big of a difference 6 inches makes in our dining room.  Before, we had such a large overhang that you couldn’t even center the table underneath the light.  Now, people can actually move around the table while people are eating without squeezing by.  The dining room feels Huge!

Evelyn charmed all the contractors, even the grizzly one.  It’s so funny watching a crochety old man turn around and say in a high pitch voice, “Welllll, helloooo sweetheart.  You’re just a cutie pie aren’t you?”  She gave the counter top her seal of approval and I like it too.

Next up, installing the sink and new faucet.  This weekend we tile the backsplash, or attempt to if we can find the time!

Installing New Countertops Part 1

Monday, July 18th, 2011

We initially had no plans to replace the countertops before listing the house, but rather chose to throw in $1000 as an incentive for the buyer to have the countertops replaced.  Our realtor quickly nixed that idea and said that offering incentives automatically raise a red flag with the buyer that this is a fixer upper.  Due to the poor condition of the counters, he said we really needed to have them replaced before we listed.

This was almost 6 weeks ago…

We went to Lowes and Home Depot to price countertop installations.  Lowes came back with $1,800 and Home Depot $1,200.  Our countertops were custom built, which means we couldn’t use off the shelf laminate tops.  That raised the price at either store, but by $600 at Lowes for the exact same laminate?  Not only that, but Lowes charged us $35 to come out and do the quote.  Home Depot – zero. 

After about 6 weeks, the laminate finally arrived at the installers and they were coming out to tear out our old counters.  We had some fun with Sharpies and I drew the story of my life in this little house from 2000 – 2011.  I wanted to spill some achohol and light it on fire to see if it would burn the counters.   The hubby didn’t want to risk damaging the new puck lights that my dad installed.  Boo to sensible hubby.  (Yes dad, I’m still a little pyromaniac. Sorry for setting my bedroom on fire when I was little…)

We had to remove all the drawers and empty all the cabinets.  It seems that just when we make headway clearing and cleaning stuff up we just trash the house all over again.  It’s a bit demoralizing at times, but yadda yadda yadda its all for the greater good right?

Evelyn was an excellent foreman.  She kept those guys on track and moving fast.

The entire time they were here, all I could hear was grumbling about the crazy people who had installed it initially and what a crappy job they did.  Our counter had been liquid nailed to the cabinet AND screwed in.  It had also been relaminated and the glue that held the two sheets together failed causing all the bubbling on the counter.  It was one thing after another.  I’m very glad that we decided against tearing out the counters ourselves to save money!  Sometimes, it just isn’t worth it…

Buh- bye old counter! 

The tear out took about 2 hours and then they brought in particle board to make a template for the new countertops.  They are going to make the countertop at their shop and bring the entire thing back another day to install it.  The countertops will be scribed to fit the walls exactly and will match the pitch of the base cabinets.  In otherwords, they are not going to shim anything to level things out. hmmmm…

We are without a sink and have very little room left to move around.  I built a corral in the living room out of boxes so the kids have a safe area to play.  For the rest of us, it’s bruised shins, stubbed toes, and lots of careful maneuvering.  (Someone please tell me again why we are doing this???)

We are getting closer to listing the house.  The counters were a big hold up.  We plan to tile this weekend and clean/finish painting next week.  Nearing the home stretch people!

Christmas in July – Kid’s Consignment Sale

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

This last weekend was the big biannual kid’s consignment sale at the state fairground.  This is the first sale that I haven’t volunteered for and shopped early for in 2 years!

With the baby boom over, there’s not much that we need right now.  I picked up a few books for Oliver that were more age appropriate (a.k.a. Not board books), a few Sesame Street videos, and a Sit-N-Spin.

Evelyn got a Bat and Wobble Penguin, but she was way more interested in whatever her big brother was doing!

All my items were $2 or less and I spent $21 the first day.  I went back on the 50% off day to buy some clothes for the kids.  Oliver has officially outgrown all 24 month and 2T clothes and Evelyn is in 12 month clothes now.  I spent another $30 for 26 items of clothes and the kids are set until winter.  If you have kids, consignment sales are the way to go!  With 2 kids, saving money is always a good thing.

Baby Recovered, Mommy Sick

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Evelyn’s fever dropped down to 101.5 on Friday and broke during the night.  By Saturday, she was 100% fever free.  Still no other symptoms.  Pretty strange.  She has been tugging on her ear a bit, so maybe she has a mouthful of chompers coming in (doc ruled out ear infection).

I took these pics during lunch today.  She’s a regular laugh riot!  The hubby was outside most of today working.  He rebuilt the steps to the deck and raked/mowed the entire yard.  We are getting rid of our random debris bit by bit.  All that’s left now are rain barrels, 60 cinder blocks and tomato cages.  Anyone want 60 cinder blocks?

Tonight we painted the hall and front porch ceilings.  I also did the baseboard.  That was quite a feat considering that I am sick.  Yesterday was a wash for us with a birthday party and me crashing in bed all day.  Today, my head cold symptoms are gone but I feel drained, achy, and weak.  I also have a fever…

Just wanted to share with you some cute photos to start your week off right.  I have a ton of posts backed up about home renovation.  When I’m not renovating, cleaning, chasing babies, or being sick I’ll start posting them!

Have a great Monday everyone.

Dealing With Baby’s Fever 103.4

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Sung to “You Give Me Fever” by Peggy Lee:

Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me
You’ve got a fever that’s so hard to bear

Baby, you’ve got fever – FEVER!

(tips on fevers below)

For the past 2 days, I’ve been up round the clock with our little one.  Evelyn has had a fever ranging from 102 – 103.4.  Other than being fussy and not being able to sleep (and oh yeah, burning up like an inferno) there are no obvious signs of an illness.

I called our pediatrician around 3pm yesterday and talked to the nurse oncall.  She said that a fever of 102.5 in an 8 month old baby is fine.  It means that she is probably fighting a virus of some sort.  In the absence of other symptoms, she said not to worry and give her tylenol.  If her fever went above 103 and she had problems breathing then we should take her to the ER.

Here’s the hubby’s gratuitous shot of Oliver eating to prove that he did feed our son dinner yesterday while my hands were busy with Evelyn. 

Evelyn’s temp did rise to 103.5 last night and I was ready to head over to the emergency room.  On a whim, I called the pediatrician again and spoke with the evening oncall nurse at 1am.  She was absolutely fabulous in both troubleshooting Evelyn’s fever and soothing my frazzled nerves.  She saved us a trip to the ER and made an appt for a follow up visit this morning with a Dr.

Here’s what she had to say about fevers:

1) In a baby over 3 months, a fever between 102 and 104 is considered moderate.  She called it “a good working fever” and said that Evelyn’s body was battling a virus.  She said that if her fever reached 105, then we’d want to bring her to a doctor.  She said fevers weren’t deadly until 108.  The caveats – Evelyn had NO other symptoms, was alert, not grunting or wheezing, and appeared normal.

2) Do NOT give your baby a cool or tepid bath in an attempt to bring down the fever.  This is contrary to what is plastered all over the internet in baby forums.  If your baby is 102+, sponging on or bathing in cool water sort of sends the body into shock and it will go into overdrive trying to heat itself up thereby making the fever worse.  If you really want to bring down the fever, she said to let the baby sit in a bath of 101 degrees for up to 30 minutes and to remove her the instant she gets chills or starts to shiver.

3) Give your baby infant Tylenol or infant Ibuprofen to bring down the fever.  Either product should bring down the fever by 1 or 2 degrees minimum.

4) Lightly dress your baby in just a diaper and onesie and do not use a blanket.  If they are really hot, just have them wear a diaper.  No jammies.

5) Breathing fast and shallow is normal during a fever and is not a cause to go to the ER.  Evelyn was breathing very rapidly, sort of like panting, and we were scared.  She said that was normal and we were better not going to the ER and exposing her to a ton of other germs.  Labored breathing, where the baby grunts, wheezes, or you can visibly see his ribs and muscles on the side of his body struggling is a different story.

6) Keep baby hydrated, hydrated, hydrated!  Breast milk is best, because you will be giving your baby antibodies to help fight the virus.  If not, then give her formula.  Supplement with plenty of water or pedialyte.  If she won’t take the breast, bottle, or cup, use a syringe and squirt liquid into her cheek for her to swallow.  Feed her at least every 2 hours, if you can, while she has the fever.

7) Fevers caused by viruses tend to wind down after 3 days (72 hours).  If she is feverish for more than 3 days, then she needs to see the doctor and have tests run.  They would draw her blood and check her urine via a catheter to start with.

That was about it and thank goodness for the night nurse!  I was near tears with worry as Evelyn was burning up.  I ended up holding her for most of the night so she could sleep a little.  The poor thing was just miserable.  We went in this morning to the pediatrician and Evelyn left with a clean bill of health.  The doctor said to take infant ibuprofen and come back on Saturday if the fever is still there.  Her temp maxed out at 103.4 today, but after ibuprofen she came down to 101. Yay!

She is so tired that she passed out on the floor after dinner tonight.  The hubby is about 3 feet away zonked out too.

Oy vey, there’s nothing scarier than being helpless while your baby is in pain. We are crossing our fingers that she is teething as she has started tugging on her ears tonight and gnawing on her fist.  Wish me luck getting through tonight with more than 1.5 hours of sleep!

Have you been through a fever scare with your baby?  Did you end up in the ER?

Happy Fourth of July 2011

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

This year we decided to celebrate the 4th at home again.  During our trip to Florida last year, we stocked up on legal fireworks (a.k.a. nothing that would leave the ground).  In the middle of home renovation craziness, we invited family and friends over for a little bbq.  Nothing motivates us to finish projects more than having a house full of hungry people!

Last year, Oliver loved watching the sparklers and fountains.  This year – not so much.  Aside from the bright lights and loud noises, he/we didn’t care too much for the pouring rain.  When it was too wet for the fuses to stay lit, my brother became a one man show with a fistful of sparklers.  We abrubtly ended the display when an exploding firecracker scared the wits out of the kids. 

My brother made a comment that has stuck with me all day.  He looked up from his show and said that he saw a lot of babies where we were sitting.  The hubby took a picture and here we are with the 4 kiddos.

I cannot believe our little gang of 6 has grown to 10 in just 2 years! Our nights of board games, wine, and sushi have come to a momentary halt.  Instead, there are afternoon get togethers that end before bedtime, lots of baby juggling as mommies try to eat, hundreds of dirty diapers and hours of breastfeeding breaks.  Everyone takes turns feeding hungry open mouths, chasing after toddlers and doing the shushing, bouncing, soothing walks to and fro.  The kids entertain us in ways that boardgames didn’t and frustrate us in ways that even a tight game of Monopoly can’t beat (on second thought, Monopoly is serious business around here).

Moving away from here will be bittersweet.  We are 100% committed to leaving this city and our pros list is far longer than cons.  On the other hand, leaving our cozy group is a heavy con to weigh.

Here’s to the last 4th of July in our little house and to family and friends that make these days memorable.  I hope you had a good celebration yourself.

Painting Ceilings

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Not a single person who has come into our house since we have painted the ceilings has noticed that we painted the ceilings.  However, they have commented on how big the place looks and how bright it is. It could be that we have finally gotten rid of enough “stuff” to make the place look bigger OR it could be that we’ve gotten rid of the grimy, dingy, grey ceiling that was holding us down.

We didn’t have a clue how we would paint the cathedral ceiling until we spotted an awesome extendable pole at Lowes.  We didn’t even extend it it’s full length!  (Um Dad, just how tall did we think our ceilings were?)

We hit the dining room, kitchen and living room in the same night.  We taped off the walls with plastic sheeting as we went.  We also piled as much as we could in the center of the room and threw another plastic sheet over that.  We did pretty good with the splatter control, especially later in the night when the roller was super saturated and paint was dripping off it in big gobs.  As you can see, it was past midnight when we did the living room and well into 2am until we finished the main parts.  I have to follow up later and cut in around the edges.

Can you believe the color difference!  We used Valspar, Ultra Premium, Interior Finish Eggshell in Ultra White 72322.  The living room alone took about 2 gallons.  Popcorn ceilings have a greater surface area than a smooth ceiling with all those nooks and crannies to fill.  Talk about a pain in the butt to paint.  The Eggshell finish does have a very slight sheen, which reflects light beautifully.  This is a big plus as we don’t have much natural light in our house to brighten things up.

In some areas, the popcorn started peeling off the ceiling and sticking to the roller.  You have to immediately stop, lighten the pressure and carefully roll/pull the brush off.  Load the brush back up with paint and roll it on in one direction only using very light pressure.  Roll in the direction that goes against the peeled up popcorn, like you were smoothing it back down.  If it starts coming off in large amounts, stop ASAP and let the area dry 110%.  Come back after the area has dried and follow the tips from above or use a paint brush and dab paint on the area.

We had thought about hiring someone else to come in and paint for us, but once we got organized it was a breeze.  We saved a ton of money and it was easier than we thought.

Here’s the list of supplies that we used for painting the ceiling:

* Roller brush appropriate for ceiling texture – the thicker the nap, the better it can handle popcorn ceilings.
* Roller brush tray and roller brush frame.
* Some sort of extension pole to screw into the end of the brush frame.
* A ladder to help you cut in the edge of the ceiling along the wall.
* A hat to keep the paint flecks and splotches off your head.
* Plastic sheeting out the wazzo to protect your floor, furniture, TV, walls, etc…
* Blue painter’s tape to hold the plastic sheeting in place.
* A 2 inch paint brush or angled trim brush to cut in the edges of the ceiling where it joins the wall and to work around light fixtures, etc…
* Paint.  A latex is easy to clean.  An eggshell finish gives off a very subtle “glow”.  (The matte ceiling paint seemed to suck light away and looked dark.)  If you have popcorn ceiling you will need more paint than you think to get the job done (ie. one gallon for the master bedroom).

Anyone out there have tips to share from your own ceiling endeavors? 

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