Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Secrets Our Bathrooms Keep

It all started with a broken pipe on December 26th, 2015.
Bathroom Remodel

 We had hoped to someday have the time and resources to remodel our main bathroom, and thought we'd be lucky to get it done by December 26th, 2016. But there we were, with a rusty, corroded galvanized bathroom pipe that had finally snapped. This bathroom was a dated eye-sore. My bandaid of a paint job that was basically a Pinterest fail did not help either. Now with a broken pipe, not only was it ugly, it wasn't functional.

Bathroom Remodel

Projects like this start small, you see. They start with your husband simply stating, "I'll have to take the cabinet and sink out to get to the pipe in the wall to fix it," and ends with, "If I do that, then we might as well get a new cabinet and sink like we've always wanted for this room."

Bathroom Remodel

Then, it follows as such, "And if we do that, we'll have to redo the flooring since the old linoleum is cut to fit around the cabinet. Since we'll be doing that, it makes sense to take out the tub and toilet to do the flooring since we want a clawfoot tub someday and won't want to finish tiling 1/2 the floor later when we get to that. So, looks like we're going to have to order a clawfoot tub. While we're at it, better replace the 1957 dusty pink toilet, obviously, and since we have to take off the baseboard to do the floors...then it makes sense to replace this paneling at the same time. Which means it's the perfect time to wallpaper. Wallpapering doesn't make any sense without replacing this awful window with yellow tinted glass. Since we'll have decent, non-yellowed lighting finally, might as well update the light fixtures too. Wallpaper should be finished off with a good crown moulding. Oh, and being 6 feet tall, honey, I want a 66 inch clawfoot tub. So, I'll be moving this wall between the bath and the coat closet about 8 inches. So, finally, the ceiling will have to be touched up and repainted." The domino effect! From broken pipe to complete gut & remodel.

Bathroom Remodel

So there you have it. A literal top to bottom remodel, all thanks to a broken pipe. Look, I'm not complaining. Especially as this hit us at a great time, we just refinanced the house. As such, we had a little spending cash from the process which we meant to put back into the house, and before we had a chance to decide how and where, the broken pipe decided for us.

We also happened to discover that galvanized metal pipes rust and corrode over time, which is why they haven't used them since the 1960s. Copper can last a century and never corrodes. But our house was all galvanized, and turns out when it corrodes it starts leaching LEAD into your water. That's just great.

Bathroom Remodel

So the start of the bathroom remodel was actually mostly Justin replacing ALL the plumbing in our house with clean, safe copper pipes. When we bought our house, I cringed at the downstairs laundry/kitchenette because it has an exposed ceiling--all pipes and nastiness!--but it turns out that was a blessing in disguise. All the pipes were centralized and located pretty much right there, or close, so that Justin was able to access and replace them quickly and easily. Now, our home is a safe 100% copper except the pipes that go outside to the yard. Yay for non-leaded drinking water!

Bathroom Remodel

The last few weeks have been an adventure in homeownership. A friend on Facebook put it this way, DIYing your home means you get intimate with your home. It's special, and once you finish, your blood, sweat, and tears are literally a part of your home. I've come to understand that better than I did when I first read it.

Bathroom Remodel

So allow me to share some surprising details of the adventure. 
Secrets our bathroom was keeping...

Bathroom Remodel

1. Our bathroom originally had sparkle flooring! In the form of brown linoleum with gold flecks. I wish I could see a snapshot of it from 1957 when it was first built and decorated.

Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

2. The bathroom has been wallpapered three times now, but the original wallpaper was an epic print with unicorns, chickens, and pirates. Whoever these original homeowners were, man, they knew how to party.

Bathroom Remodel

3. There were two bathtubs in there. This whole time. Apparently, when you "re-bath" a home, it means just sticking a newer off-white tub into an old 50s pink tub {matched the toilet!} and gluing it in place. The "tile?" Sheets of plasticky or vinyl faux-tile around the tub. Stuck on with glue strips. Which meant we had to--yes--drywall some. An unexpected part of our remodel. This is exactly why we've been so careful not to cut corners on this remodel. No glue and peel and stick tile here! This is the first project we've been so careful to do 100% right. And we learned, "professional" re-bath doesn't equal quality.

Bathroom Remodel 

4. Cutters lived here. I mean facial hair-cutters. When Justin cut into the wall to get to behind the toilet space, he peeked in and saw a mound hundreds of old rusty, paper thin razors. He knew exactly what they were, but I was absolutely confuzzled. Google "razors in wall" and you'll find all sorts of posts and blogs about people remodeling old bathrooms and finding the same sight. So in the 40s & 50s when they put those old metal medicine cabinets in, they had razor disposal slots for shaving men. Yep, they dropped right into the wall! These razors were no doubt dropped in from my bathroom, as my sink & vanity shares a wall with the main bath toilet. Strange fruit!

Bathroom Remodel 

Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

5. In the 1950s, homes were built to last. Just ask the original steel window frame. It fought for its dear life. Hard. It almost won! But Sander went to Home Depot for an even bigger pry bar, and finally got the darn thing out. Doggonit, I about had a heart attack watching the show down. This was the second window he's done in our house, but I'll never get used to the sound of the sawzall cutting through metal. One word: ergalilektriphobia. But it's all worth it to see that nasty TILED window sill go. Sick.

{P.S. This is what we were doing during our anniversary weekend away from the kids!}

Bathroom Remodel

6. If you have galvanized pipes, think about changing that. Here's one particularly ugly secret our bathroom was keeping. We were horrified to see where our water had been coming from.

And if you think that one above is bad...you should see the drain pipes. {I mean!!! The water TASTED fine!}

7. Yes, spiders can live in toilet holes. Aragog sized ones. Yep. That is all. {No photo here, you're welcome.} Okay, so maybe they can only inhabit toilet holes when there is no toilet installed, but still. Terrifying.


As I write this, The Promise by When In Rome is playing over my headphones, but I can still hear the sound of the nail gun firing in the bathroom. He's finishing the trim! That's right, we're close to being done. I even wallpapered for the first time! And I'm pretty satisfied with the job :::admires fingernails:::  It's just about done! We're awaiting the arrival of the shower spray thingy that was backordered for the longest time, and once he gets the tub hooked up, I'll be posting some before & afters.

That is, after I take a nice long hot epsom salt infused bubble bath. {We stinky! Paxton especially, as he's not a fan of showers.} I can't wait!!!

Cheers,
Heather

Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel


Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom Remodel

Friday, January 15, 2016

Violet & the Furby


Furbies

Santa brought Paxton a Furby Boom, Eisley a Furbacca, and Violet a Furby from 2012 which apparently Amazon still sells while not sharing the fact that it's an older version. The Furby Boom is the newest version. How are Furbies even still around? They're popular! On December 22nd, all Denver area toy stores were completely sold out of Furbies.

Why did Santa bring three obnoxious fur-covered animatronic toys for our kids this year? It may have something to do with the fact that their mother had a black and white original Furby. She bought it during her YVC choir tour to Wales & England when she was 14. A little old for a Furby, true, but I was at that age where childhood lingers and young adulthood reluctantly begins and I wanted one last silly toy. I suppose. So Christmas morning in our house fired up light sabers and Furbies.

Furbacca quickly won our hearts over by humming the Darth Vader theme. Paxton's Furby Boom had stars in its eyes and giggled adorably. Then there was Violet's Furby.

It was evil. From the very start.

No Violet related jokes here, please. While she's earned herself a reputation as a bruiser, a joker, a midnight toker...and I've allowed that because she cracks me up, she actually is my sweetest child. She is the first to notice a sad friend and offer a hug. She is first to share a toy with the neighbor kid, even if she doesn't really want to. She is first to offer to help with the dishes or make my bed. She's been known to hurl compliments at strangers like free candy. She's got a sweet side.

She does not deserve a mean, nasty, evil Furby. But that is what Santa brought her.

It taunted us, it teased, and it hummed mocking little tunes at us. It looked just as cute, but when its eyes lit up and its mouth opened...there was nothing endearing about the thing. Violet couldn't understand why her Furby was being so salty to all of us. I didn't want her to think it was because of her. I have a soft spot for this child. She always seems to be the one to get the short end of the stick. Every time. She is also the first to call herself a loser. Breaks my heart, even though I do realize it's partly manipulation and attention seeking, I'm not stupid. She does have lower self-esteem than my other children, which is probably why she is so sweet and eager to please others.

Sander and I did what any Millennial parent would do: we turned to The Google. That's right, we found ourselves smart phone searching "how do we make Furby nice" on Christmas morning.

"Hug it for 10 minutes straight or play music to it," said The Google. Eh. Okay, so we sat it up next to the Sonos and told Violet to wait and see. Because I don't even hug my husband for that long. Sure enough, 10 minutes later, Furby had changed into Valley Girl mode. Instead of taunting us it was now interrupting our conversations--"Uh huh! Uh-huh! OKAY!"--and instead of mean, angry, flaming eyes that would occasionally "OOGA BOOGA!" at us, it now had accentuated eyelashes {falsies, I suspect} and said, "like" a lot. Not much of an improvement, but Violet was satisfied.

For about five minutes.

No matter how many times we changed the Furby into a nicer personality, it would always quickly revert back to its MEAN side. Basically, it was mean 95% of the time.

Justin thinks there was some sort of sensor being triggered, because the Furby's personalities are supposed to depend on how you treated it. Like, feeding Paxton's Furby Boom a lot turns it into a jolly, goofy Furby that farts and makes lots of jokes. Being rough or loud with it is supposed to turn it mean. But Violet's came out of the box mean...and stayed mean no matter how nice we were trying to be to it. Reminds me of people I know. Ha!

Watch this video I took for proof, if you like. The brown is Eisley's Furbacca {a Star Wars Furby based on Chewbacca}, the blue one is Paxton's Furby Boom, and you'll know the evil one as soon as he opens his beak. Go to the end when he starts humming his nasty little tune!

I finally read a tip online that said I could turn him upside-down, pull his tail and stick my finger in his mouth and it would RESET. That did work--even though I felt a bit guilty like I was violating the stinking thing--but only for a few minutes before we started to hear "OOOGA BOOGA!" again. So Violet watched her sister and brother play with sweet, adorable cheerful Furbies...

It turned into a perverted sort of childhood psychology lesson!

Violet would approach us with her mean Furby, asking us to reset it, and saying she was scared of upsetting him again.

So we found ourselves saying things like,

"It's not you, Violet, it's him."

"You're not responsible for your Furby's poor life choices, honey."

"He has problems, maybe we should send him back to Santa so he can get the help he really needs."

It was ridiculous. The thing was clearly defective.

A Christmas morning toy should be exciting and fun, not giving your child a complex. But Violet, feeling responsible for the little pink punk, refused to entertain the idea of giving him away. Is THIS how the robot apocalypse is going to go down?! They're going to mess with our emotions!

Over the next week or so, between Furby bottom battery changes {because they devour batteries, but especially when they're mean}, Sander and I plotted to order a new Furby Boom for Violet to replace her angry little animated ball of rage. Turns out, the newer Furby Booms have fewer personality disorders and the demonic side in its programming was replaced with a more tolerable "feisty" personality.
Furbies
When the package arrived from Amazon, we found a letter.

Furbies
She loved it. Then she broke down in tears when she turned it on and it was nice to her. I'm not making this up. If she ends up needing counseling, I'm sending the bill to Hasbro.
FurbiesFurbies
Unfortunately, when it came time for Justin and I to ship the wicked thing back to Amazon, ahem, North Pole, Violet had a meltdown. To be honest, it had already started to show some wear too {probably from the number of times I had to reset it and the hours it spent in music therapy}. I pleaded with my husband, I begged him, I begged, "We're keeping the darn Furby." I meant it to sound like a plea, is what's important. Because I had already seen my daughter cry over the little wretch enough in the last couple weeks. When I was a kid, I had a hard time giving up toys because I worried about their feelings. The Toy Story series has not helped, by the way. So here Violet & the Furby had developed a sort of twisted co-dependent, unhealthy relationship. Violet and the mean, verbally abusive Furby! It honestly happens to most of us. There's always that one member of the family or close friend who you shouldn't tolerate the abuse from... but you do.

Somehow you keep them in your life, you love them as well as they'll let you, you might go a little longer between battery changes...but family is family. Even the ones of us who have...personality disorders. The important thing is that Violet got to see--through her new sweet Furby--that it isn't her fault if someone chooses a bad attitude in life. We need healthy relationships too!

Plus it's way cuter with its polka dots. And it hasn't turned angry evil, yet, not once!
Furbies
Oh, and writing this blog post made me curious and I headed to Amazon.com to read reviews on this specfic pink 2012 Furby. Check out these comments by others!!

"I purchased this Furby for my 4 year old daughter for Christmas, and now it is currently sitting in my car muttering to itself. Why do you ask? Unfortunately this little guy also has an angry personality that surfaces because why not. So now it's in angry mode speaking in a scary tone of voice and belching."

and another:

"The stupid thing was angry all the time, we had to put it in the breezeway because it was scarring both my kids. It would take forever to get the thing happy and then within a minute it was angry again. Wish it came without getting angry"

and also:


"I think I got a bad furry this furry turned evil even though it was getting loving care and it's pretty scary"



So it's not just ours! And it's certainly not Violet's fault! Amazon should stop selling these angry creatures. I'm going to go write my own review.


But that is the story of how our family ended up with more Furbies than we have children to play with them.

Furbies

Happy New Year!!!
Heather


{FWIW, and changing tone here: I know my audience--and stalkers, love you guys!--well enough to know that some might wonder why I didn't mention our church activities this Christmas. My blog has looked unusually secular this year! The truth is that we've been in a place of flux, between churches during this time. A rough, sometimes painful, place to be during Advent and Christmastime. Our church decided to sell their property and possibly merge with another congregation. Among many other private details not related to the property and merger, we've been compelled to move on--or back to--our previous church where Eisley was baptized and the future of the congregation is currently more stable (important to us as we have young children). All's well that ends well! We're okay, and did manage to attend some wonderful services this season, despite all the up in the air. God will always be the most important part of our lives.}

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Christmas 2015 - All Together Again

Christmas 2015

I pretty much had a perfect Christmas this year. Back in September, about 20 minutes before we all boarded our flight to Los Angeles, I got an email from my sister. "Have fun in California! See you at Christmas!" and she had forwarded on their flight plans. For the first time in years, we would all be together in Colorado for Christmas. I knew it would be a good one, and it was.

Christmas 2015

After they landed from North Carolina we met them ASAP for some good Mexican food and margaritas. The snow started falling outside.

Christmas 2015Christmas 2015

Paxton did his best Jonathan Lipnicki impression. We were all blown away.

Christmas 2015

And the next day was Christmas Eve, so we met at mom and dad's house.

Christmas 2015

Papa Erickson had braved Trader Joe's during the holidays to buy the kids gingerbread house kits imported from Germany itself. So there. Perfection right down to the German gingerbread. {Notice Indy's festive wall decor she put together that day before our visit.}

Christmas 2015

I had worried that Ayla & Indy were too old for our girls this year, that they wouldn't be much interested in our little kids. Ayla is turning 12 this year! But no. They had such a great time together.

Christmas 2015

But seeing my nieces all grown up the way they are {starting to} just gets me all sorts of emotional. Look at Ayla. I saw her be born. And now she is a young woman with trendy hairdos. It's official. I'm old. This visit the girls just seemed different, like that child side of them has really started to give way to the young adult. I had a lot of fun just watching and listening to them.

Christmas 2015

Growing up we'd always open one gift on Christmas Eve, so we let the girls pick one each.

Christmas 2015

This is how we do it on Christmas Eve at our house. See our "alarm?" And good thing, because this year it DID go off. Someone had to go potty.

Christmas 2015

Before we knew it, it was Christmas. Santa came.

Christmas 2015

The kids were up fighting with their new light sabers while we baked a batch of cinnamon rolls I'd made the day before and we awaited the arrival of The Cousins.

Christmas 2015

Yes, please.

Christmas 2015

Christmas morning chaos.

Christmas 2015

The brother-in-laws received matching sweaters. What more could they want?

Christmas 2015

I got my chicken purse!!!!

Christmas 2015

Oh, the carnage!

Christmas 2015

Sander prepared a glazed, roasted duck as well as a rib roast. This little guy was the son of Percy, our cute black duck who moved out on to the farm. Percy has, um, turned out to be a prolific breeder. That's why he had to go to the farm in the first place, he was trying to be prolific with our chickens. Don't feel bad for him, he's got a huge pond. Feel bad for this guy:

Christmas 2015

When you get Millennial sisters together, selfies happen. {Behind these types of photos is mom or dad--or both--in the background taking a photo of us taking a photo. Because when you give Baby Boomers smart phones...}

Christmas 2015

There's lots of interesting and exciting news from the Tuttle clan, but it's theirs to tell.

Christmas 2015

We're happy for them this Christmas, suffice.

Christmas 2015

I did things casually this year. And it was nice. I baked only the cookies I felt like baking. I decorated only as much as I felt like decorating. The Christmas dinner table setting included paper napkins--not fabric?!--and a plastic coated tablecloth that was $4 from Walmart. Good enough for me!

Christmas 2015

Everybody loves Noah.

Christmas 2015

Who fought off ginger attacks from the safety of the green couch.

Christmas 2015

The duck was good! Justin also made a le orange sauce to go with it, French style.
Christmas 2015

For the first time in years, we all had Christmas dinner together. Us and the duck.

Christmas 2015

Mom had a pow wow with the Furbies after dinner. They were all riled up. Speaking of furbies...I have a story for my next blog post.

Christmas 2015

Indy My Niece tried out her new face paints on everyone who would consent. I'm still finding dolls with cat faces around the basement playroom.

Christmas 2015

Seriously, everybody loves Noah.

Christmas 2015

The next evening, my mother had procured all the women tickets to the Colorado Ballet's Nutcracker! So we went down to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Christmas 2015

It all felt like a quite formal and Christmasy thing to do.
Christmas 2015

The girls loved it. Their first ballet.  They do such good job of it at the Colorado Ballet. The set, the costumes, the dancing, and the few bits of comic relief they work in.

Christmas 2015

Like when their giant puppeted Mother Ginger comes out and does the Macarena and the Sprinkler dance as the music goes faster and faster. The girls were hysterical.



On the way home I drove past the biggest, most romantic Christmas light display you'll ever see which I do not have a good picture of. Just see that tree criss-crossed with lights, and the one behind it covered in lit up globes? Imagine a 10 acre property with about 100 of those trees. You can see it from the road 1/2 mile away.

Christmas 2015

Last day of the Tuttle visit, we did something perfectly predictable. Cafe Rio & the DAM.

Christmas 2015 Christmas 2015

While the kids arted in the giant family arting room, we got to see the new Southwest Art exhibit. Lots of Santa Fe & Taos paintings. Pay attention! This painting is of the Taos square. We've been there!

Christmas 2015

The kids mostly appreciate their own art though.

Christmas 2015

So it's good the Denver Art Museum gives them lots of opportunities to do just that. Great family museum.
Christmas 2015

Eisley working during her blue period:
Christmas 2015
It my little family of five, we have a New Year's tradition of eating Chinese food and sipping champagne {sparkling cider for the kids}. But we got a chance to do that a little early this year, on our last night with The Cousins.
Christmas 2015

Mom & dad have a smartly decorated, yummy Chinese food restaurant near their house. They're great! They just need to work on getting some child-appropriate drinkware.

Christmas 2015

After requesting milk, we were told all they have for kids was orange juice. So my kids each got a glass bowl of that.

Christmas 2015

It was, like, 5 degrees out so... egg drop soup was right.

Christmas 2015

We hope you had an equally wonderful season!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Heather


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