Thursday, October 8, 2015

Better Kitchen

It's not fair to post "before" pictures and then make you wait a long time for some "after" pictures. I snapped a few of the kitchen and dining room. It's basically one big room but with a distinct dining area, so I refer to them as separate rooms even though it's all one room. 

I just finished painting the walls last night. The trim still needs a final (or in some places two more) coat of paint after caulking and filling nail holes. We also need to put up some hooks and organize the kitchen entry way so bags and coats can be up off the floor. I also really, really need to wash the mini blind. That's on my list for next week. I plan to take it down and hose it off outside.

I didn't "stage" the rooms at all. I could have done that, but I just don't have the patience for it, so you get to see them as they are.

If you need to refresh your memory on how they looked before and during the work, just go to my previous post. Also, I should clarify, we weren't living here when doing the tearing out and really dirty work. We moved in after the kitchen was installed (sans countertops) and all the flooring was done. Lots of painting and trim work still needs to be done but that can be done here and there without too much extra dust and dirt.

So here is the kitchen. At some point, we'll have some other kind of blind at the window and a custom curtain of some sort. And some day we'll get a new fridge that fits the space made for it, but for now, we are using the one that came with the house. If you look closely at this picture and at the "before" picture of the kitchen, you will notice that we kept the stainless steel counter top that was in the house. We had some guys from a sheet metal shop pick take it and cut a new hole in it so we could have a bigger sink. The previous one was a shallow, single undermount sink. I like undermount sinks but not shallow small ones, and I was determined to have a double sink. So we just got a top mounted sink and had them make a hole to fit. I really, really like it and the fact that we were able to use this vintage piece!

Here's another view of the kitchen. You can see a flooring change from the dining area to the kitchen. This is because there was vinyl flooring in the kitchen originally, and so the builder had just used pine boards instead of oak. Dan spent hours taking off the vinyl and then steaming and scraping the old glue. That's why if you look closely, you can see there are still areas where the glue didn't come off completely, so we have this unique wooden floor. The pine was really light because it was covered up, but we think it's already beginning to darken, which is good, because I'm not really a fan of how the two flooring colors look side-by-side. But we had decided to not stain the pine because it should eventually darken to a similar color. And we're just considering it "character."

Here you can see our little back door entryway. Hooks will go in a row near the top of the wainscoting and I'd like to have some sort of organizational some-thing-or-other below. Suggestions??


 Here's a "before" of this space.

And here's the dining room side. The yellow looks brighter and darker at night. In daylight it's much more pale - which I prefer. As you can see, we have no storage here either, so that's on my list (china cabinet, corner cabinet, wash stand, something practical and nice...?).  I like wood, but with the floors and table, we have a lot of wood. I'm not really a fan of "shabby chic", so I don't think I want to go that route. I keep scouring craigslist and some local antique shops to see what might turn up. I'm open to suggestions! 

 The wrought iron railing came with the house. There are a number of wrought iron features and this is one of them. I'd like to get a bench of some sort to sit where all those baby things are, so that's another thing I've been looking for online. I even made a pinterest page for it! So we'll see. It will most likely look like this for a while.

 Eventually I'll paint that closet door as well. Don't let it's color fool you - it's not real wood but rather something called "graining". It was painted to look like real wood, but it's not. All the trim and interior doors in the house have this. But that will be a project for another time.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. I am really enjoying living in this space. The whole renovation process is an amazing one. I must say, I'm glad we're on this end of it (with the kitchen, at least!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's Always Worse Before It's Better

At least, that's what I've learned about home renovations. You tear something out, it looks worse than it first did, but then once it's finished, it's better.

I'm really, really glad that I participated in this process before now. Otherwise, I think I'd be in a state of shock.

Let me show you what I mean...

Attic Before:

Attic During: 

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen During:

Sewing Room Before:

 Sewing Room During:

Family Room Before:


Family Room During:

 One of your best friends when renovating a house.

Sorry for the poor quality on some of the photos. I was in a hurry when taking them. I'm just thankful I took some. Chances are if the pictures are blurry, I took them. If they are clear, Dan took them. One of these days, when things are more cleaned up, I'll snap some finished pictures. We finally got trim up in the family room, so it looks much better. Don't ask me when we'll get that trim painted, because it is pretty far down my to-do list. Right now we are trying to finish up trim in the kitchen and dining room as well as paint the old trim and paint the walls. So tools are sprinkled around here and there and almost everywhere.

I've been painting when I can in between school runs, grocery runs, miscellaneous errands, making meals, changing diapers, washing laundry and hanging it out to dry (our dryer is broken), canning applesauce and grape juice, keeping things semi-tidy, reading stories, breaking up sibling rows, watering potted plants, pulling weeds, sitting by the campfire, and relaxing now and then. I keep thinking it's taking so stinkin' long to get this dining room painted, but we are slowly making progress.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Susanna's Story

Wednesday started like most any other day recently, but it certainly ended differently. Looking back it all seems a bit blurry, and hard to believe, but I think that's how it often is. Wednesday marked week 39 of my pregnancy, and although I'd had a dream months ago that I had the baby before the due date (and felt such relief and happiness in the dream), I didn't really think she'd come early - neither of her older siblings had, so I didn't have any real reason to think she would. I hoped she would, of course, because it is not fun being very pregnant when it's hot and humid outside and Dan is off work for two weeks. It just so happened that his chief residency year ended mid-June and he doesn't start his new full-time job until the beginning of July. We had planned this two week vacation time before even knowing we'd be having a baby. It is just one of the amazing ways things "worked out" for us.

Anyway, let me get to Susanna's birth story. I figured I'd better write it before I begin to forget parts of it.

I spent Wednesday getting some things done around the house that I'd wanted to do before the baby's arrival. I vacuumed out the car, did some loads of laundry, and then scraped some wallpaper at the new house. The kids and I ate a late lunch here and then it was nap time. I vacuumed some floors during the first part of naptime and by then I felt too tired to do anything but lay down for a short nap. As I layed down on the futon, I felt two sensations. One kind of felt like a baby jump and the other felt like a pop. I'd never felt anything like the pop, and I vaguely wondered if it had anything to do with water breaking, but I figured I'd sleep first and think about it later.

About 20 minutes later (at 4:30) I woke up when one of the kids came downstairs. When I got up, I noticed a very distinct wetness that was not typical. It definitely seemed like my water had broken. The kids had a few more minutes of nap time, so I called Dan (who was still working at the new house) and told him that I think my water broke and I'd better call The Birth Center. I was GBS positive and knew that I need to start antibiotics as soon as possible. Elena's birth had been quick, so the midwives wanted me to come in as soon as I had any inkling labor would be starting. After calling Dan I called The Birth Center and spoke with a midwife. She told me to come in to be checked out, although it seemed pretty clear that my water had broken. I finished putting a few things in my birth center bag and set in the hallway for later. I made sure all the baby's things where gathered as well. I also called my mom (who lives about 1.5 hours away) to let her know that she should plan on coming down. And then I took a quick shower.

I wasn't having any contractions yet, so I figured they'd send me back home after getting the first round of antibiotics. Dan came home to stay with the kids while I went in. Interestingly enough, we had planned to go away that evening for a residency event, so we had a baby-sitter coming at 5:30. We figured Dan could come join me at The Birth Center after the sitter arrived.

I took a quick shower and then as I was getting ready to leave, I started having a few non-painful, non-regular contractions. A few blocks away from the Birth Center, I had a contraction that felt stronger, and I began to wonder if I would be staying and not going back home after all. After arriving at the birth center shortly after 5 pm (where there were already at least two other laboring women), I went up to the only empty birthing room, which was the same room Elena had been born in.

By 6 pm I was hooked up to my first round of antibiotics and Dan arrived shortly after that. Contractions had started coming more regularly, and the midwife said she'd most likely have me stay there as opposed to going home until labor got stronger. So Dan had brought along my bag and Baby's bag, as well as a few snacks.

I don't remember much of significance after that except contractions got progressively stronger, and I decided to sit beside the bed on a yellow birthing ball. Dan sat behind me and would put his hands on my lower back during contractions because that's where I felt most of the intensity - my back and hips. By 9 pm I was in full on active labor, and around 9:40 the midwife suggested we start my second round of antibiotics because she thought the baby was going to be born pretty soon. All throughout labor, I remember hearing her saying things like "we're going to have a baby soon", and "I can tell we're getting closer", and then saying she was going to get the birth kit ready (at this point, I think I felt like I was in a "Call the Midwife" episode). It was so helpful to hear those comments. In some ways, it seemed to make it true. I also remember consciously thinking during contractions that I was dilating, getting larger, telling my body to let it happen.

At some point, I had a contraction where I started to push, and I remember saying "I'm pushing!". The midwife suggested I get on the bed and asked if I wanted to lay on my side or be on my hands and knees. I chose hands and knees and that's how I pushed Susanna out. I think the official records say I pushed for 7 minutes. I'm not sure how many contractions it was, but it seemed to be about 3. The midwife checked for a cord around Baby's throat (none), mentioned that her hand was beside her face, and then she was out, and it was wonderful to hold a beautiful baby in my arms. All 8 lbs, 15 oz of her - my biggest baby yet. I'm really glad she was a week early!

I don't want to dwell on the cramps after delivery - they were worse than I remember with the other two. Aside from those, labor and delivery was ideal. We both came through safe and healthy (we won't talk  too much about how I had some high blood pressure readings all through labor until I was in active labor and no longer cared at all when they took it. Thankfully, the reading they got during active labor was fine, so there was no need to transfer to the hospital!)

We came home in the early morning hours, and my mom and Edwin both got to meet Susanna then. Now we are a week and half out from her birth, and I'm recovering well, and she's eating, sleeping and growing well. (We won't dwell on the nursing difficulties, because I am confident they will all work out - just like they did with the other two. It seems I tend to have nice-sized babies who struggle to get a good latch initially, so that brings its own challenges.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sneak Peek

Just a few pictures to show what I've spent a lot of my time on recently.









There's no mulch yet, but at least the weeds are (mostly) pulled, saplings and prickly shrubs dug out and some new flowers planted.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

City Kids

Sometimes I bemoan our small back yard. Other times, it's perfectly fine. We have some nice parks with in easy walking distance for when we need to get outside and the kids need to run and climb and be surrounded by trees and grass. But other times our little back yard is just fine. We have a small garden, wash lines for air drying laundry and flower pots for herbs and annuals.

So what do city kids do in a little city yard? Here's what my city kids did today:

Rock Smashing: 

Sandbox Playing 
(yes, we need new sand)

Dirt Digging

And "Rainbow Making"

And just so I can remember what our back yard looks like in its full summer glory...some pictures from 2012 and 2013 (looks like I didn't take any last year)