Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Cousin Was on TV!

We just finished watching the latest episode of Desperate Housewives and wouldn't you know it - the rumors are true! My cousin Ben Chamberlain was on the show! He was only on for the briefest moments but it was him, dressed up like a cop in a scene with Gabrielle (Eva Longoria). Here he is last Christmas with my sister:

Here is a still shot from the show that Ron got from

I'm pretty proud of the fact that my cousin was on such a popular show... hopefully he will continue to get his foot in the door and maybe someday have some lines!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gobble Gobble Gobble

This weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving... according to the Wikipedia, Thanksgiving is a traditional North American holiday to give thanks for the things that one has at the conclusion of the harvest season.

In my family we eat, drink, and play Bingo. Of course.

This has been a long standing tradition that we carry out every single year in my grandparents' basement. We all get plenty of prizes, including "white elephant" gifts, and of course gum and pencils... upon getting a Bingo you must call out "Bingo!" above the dull roar already going on, and sit patiently with your arm raised until a hastily-wrapped tchotchky is delivered to you. You might get a candle, you might get an apple. You might get a bobble-head baseball player. It doesn't matter. All the while someone will probably be shooting Bingo chips like Tiddlywinks at your coffee cup. This year a glass candle votive spontaneously exploded. We're not sure if that glass was supposed to hold a candle or not, but it sent a shard up Ron's sleeve. Never a dull moment.

The following evening we celebrated with Ron's family at his sister's home in Portage. Equally chaotic but in their case, it's the little kids running around who drive up the energy level in the house. There are 8 grandkids. The oldest is seven years old, and the youngest is about 7 months old. With all of them running around (except for the baby), it's hard not to spill your wine. But as usual there was plenty of good food, and everyone was in great spirits. The only people to end up in tears were a couple of the little ones when the evening was winding down and someone wanted another cookie and wasn't allowed.

Oh - and we put our Christmas tree up yesterday... the day AFTER Thanksgiving. I was going to do it earlier in the week, but we ended up taking longer than we thought we would preparing for Kelly and Heath's visit, getting the bathroom all painted and cleaned up, and making sure we set aside a little time to relax after all the hard work we had done on the house.

Now we have Christmas to look forward to, which we are hosting here! We must be crazy...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Downstairs Bathroom

We just don't know when to quit! Last night I took on the job of painting the downstairs bathroom which I hope to make much more inviting for Kelly and Heath (and anyone else for that matter) to use. I started cutting in the edges last night and wiping down all the walls. I still have to finish painting, but it is going to be much nicer... Talk about last minute preparations! Nothing makes a room feel fresh and clean like a new coat of paint though.

The flooring in that bathroom is a medium blue "floating" tile (vinyl tile sections that fit together) and it really isn't doing it for me. We are going to install ceramic tile one day (but NOT this weekend!), probably a light tan color, and that will add a more neutral element to the room. The walls are being painted green, and there is a green, blue, and white, striped shower curtain. Right now it looks like a lot of blue and green going on, but with the blue floors and blue countertop replaced it won't be so overwhelming. Another project for the winter months.

New Carpet

We have new carpet in our great room and hallway! The carpet guys came at 7:45 a.m. and were done around 10:15 a.m. We were up super late again last night getting things ready, including sanding, painting, grouting the tile hearth, and removing all the old carpet/padding and generally tidying up the place so there was room for the installers to do their job.

So, the trim pieces that will "join" the wood floor to the carpet aren't yet installed, but that will *hopefully* be a simple job for Ron this afternoon.

The tile hearth looks like the money with the carpet... so much better than a varnished wooden hearth! We are going to have a fire tonight and try to have a somewhat relaxing evening (although there are a few non-messy, non-noisy jobs that we could putz at before our guests arrive tomorrow). All in all, the pace of the work is going to slow way down, so it will definitely feel like a break from what we have been accustomed to lately. I can't say enough what a relief it is to be to this point. The stress and fatigue of the work, and living in a construction site, tripping on tools, constantly cleaning up drywall dust, and corralling Lucy into such a small area have not been easy to manage. Luckily we're to the point of wrapping it up. I'll post photos later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

No More Bathroom Carpet

We have our new flooring in the bathroom!

Yesterday we had dinner at my grandparents' house, and then my mom and dad took Lucy to their place for a few hours so Ron and I could go home and work for the rest of the afternoon. We tore out all the flooring (the carpet, and the 2 kinds of linoleum) in the main floor bathroom, as well as the toilet. I painted the trim and cabinets white - which still needs some touching up. My parents brought Lucy back to us around 7:30 or 8:00 pm and we put her to bed and continued working. We started with the first floor board around 8:30, and put the last one in just before 12:30 a.m. Ron finished the job by putting the toilet back in place, all neat and clean. We were in bed at almost exactly 1:00 a.m. It looks so much better in there, after basically renovating the entire room in one evening!

Now I'm wondering if the purple I painted it could be a little bit darker. It's practically white, it's so light. I still love the lavender but I want something that will show a little more contrast with the cabinets and trim.

I can't believe we didn't wake up Lucy, as this bathroom is only a few feet down the hall from her room.

We have to finish the floor by putting quarter round along the base trim, but we're going to have to do that throughout all the areas we installed wood laminate (you have to leave a 1/4" gap between the edge of the floor and your base trim, so the floor can "float", and that gap is then covered up by quarter round).

Tonight is the last night we have before carpet goes in tomorrow. We have a few more little things that need to get done, but it should definitely be doable considering how much we prove to be able to get done in an evening.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No More Plywood

Last night Ron and I got through the "galley" section of our kitchen (the area between the island and the bank of cabinets with the sink). It doesn't look like a huge area, but it took a little extra time figuring out how to get the flooring under the oven (disconnecting the gas line is a big pain - not because Ron can't do it, but because due to the awesome design of our old school stoven it requires partial disassembly and it's just not worth it for a space that no one is ever going to lay eyes on). We adjusted the back feet (via Ron hanging upside-down behind the stove) and that made it level with the several inches of flooring we could slide under the front. I know it sounds confusing and I don't know why I even went into as much detail as I did... I just wanted to illustrate why a relatively small area of the house took so long to get done.

Anyway, it looks awesome and it's so weird not to be walking on plywood subfloor. The dining area carpet still needs to be torn out, and we will do that section of flooring tonight. Walking on plywood for so long has become just "the way it is" around here, with little shards of wood stuck to your socks at all times.

In other suburban life news, today Lucy was in the kitchen (where it is now finally SAFE for her to be) and discovered how to play with her alphabet fridge magnets. Her spelling skills are still a little rough but she understands the concept of putting them on the fridge... She is currently also fairly interested in making out with the glass door (we have this French door that we'd someday like to replace with a slider). The glass gets cleaned occasionally, but sometimes it's hard not to ask myself, "what's the point?" It's just going to end up with tongue smears and hand prints 10 seconds after I get it sparkling clean... She presses her face against, mouth open, and proceeds to lick the glass. I've been saying "no-no" and she just smiles at me, and walks around the living room shaking her head from side to side. I'm still amazed this kid has never once been sick. She must be part Schrute.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Take a Minute

Every day you should visit FreeRice.Com and test your vocab skills. For each word you get right, the site will donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it can add up quickly as the "game" doesn't take long. After about a minute you could have 300 grains donated. The point is, it doesn't cost a thing or take much time but it could save the life of someone who is starving. Thanks, Amber, for the link on your blog!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Piece by Piece

Last night, Ron did some mud-sanding (and we discovered a very good use for the attic fan, as we opened a window and the fan sucked all the dust out of the air rapidly!), and we made a lot of progress on our wood-laminate floor. I worked solo on the floor for a while when he ran to the store for something, and then he came back to help cut pieces (ends) while I fit them in. We had a pretty good system going, and made a ton of progress. I am definitely a lot more confident that we'll have this flooring in before Tuesday (Carpet Day). We were up until almost midnight plugging away, and were much less exhausted than usual, partly because of the after-dinner pot of coffee Ron made, and partly because it was going much more smoothly.

This morning I got Lucy up and tried to stand her on the new floor and she hung onto me as if her life depended on it! According to her toddler-logic, this floor is a terrifying deathtrap! It took a lot of coaxing to get her to stand, crawl, or even sit on the floor! I think it's because that area of the house has been an "off-limits / no-no" work zone for so long, it is completely unfamiliar territory. I'm sure she'll get used to it soon! I can't wait until she can just roam through the great room freely and I don't have to worry about tools or nails, or slivers of subfloor...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Top 10 List

I think it's been a while since I did any kind of Top 10 List so I decided I'm going to create a new one...

Top 10 Lessons Learned From Our Recent Home-Improvement Project(s)

10. If you're going to have to use the bathroom as a kitchen, it is especially helpful to have a dual-vanity.

9. Have at least one "finished" spot in the house to escape to.

8. Small fights are inevitable. A couple big ones might be too...

7. Don't hold grudges from those fights... you were just under a lot of stress and taking it out on the poor sap in your path. It's not personal (luckily we are pro's at letting them go instantly).

6. Four free matching bar-height stools can be a highlight of your week.

5. Cut out the hole for the floor vent in the padding RIGHT AWAY so you remember not to cover it up with new flooring.

4. Keep a little wine handy at all times.

3. In the meantime, don't neglect your yard work.

2. Babies/toddlers really don't pull their weight when it comes to working on projects.

1. Seeing our ideas become reality makes all the cuts, bruises, dust, sweat, and sarcastic remarks worthwhile.

Monday, November 12, 2007

4th Toofer

"Toofer" is what my mom and a few other people I know call baby teeth. It looked close for a while, but now the other top front tooth has poked through. We're going to start her on Tootsie Rolls as soon as possible.


The area we want carpeted was measured today and we placed our order! I made the down payment and it will probably be installed at the beginning of next week (Tuesday) - which is unbelievably exciting. No more stained nasty carpet that grosses me out when I watch Lucy playing on the floor (despite the fact that Stanley Steemer cleaned it thoroughly, just couldn't get stains out). We have our work cut out for us now - getting the rest of the flooring in, plus the tile hearth in front of the fireplace, before next week! The new floors were the last "big ticket" item for the interior and it is going to be quite a dramatic difference from the last time my sister and her boyfriend visited, when they come up for Thanksgiving. And to think we haven't even been here 2 months.

A Start

Yesterday we were pretty busy - Ron did some drywall mudding, mowed up all the leaves in the yard, and we started prepping the floor for the wood laminate (of course we're just about a day behind schedule, but that's to be expected. Nothing ever goes perfectly smoothly). It was strange to clear out everything from the area where the flooring is going to go, as it made the room appear so much bigger. Carpet and pad was removed, and I couldn't believe the pile of actual dirt I swept up from underneath, along with staples, nails, etc. Ron put down some of the underlying padding for the new flooring, and several planks went in. What's in looks awesome, and we can't wait to start covering a large area. It wasn't going as smoothly as we hoped it would, but I think it will speed up this afternoon when work resumes, as he and I learned more exactly how to go about putting them in - although he was really doing the work until after Lucy went to bed. I'm not much help when I'm busy with the daily household tasks and taking care of her.

We also found the carpet that we will most likely order today or tomorrow, and we're hoping to have it installed at the beginning of next week. I have to call the place and find out if that's possible. I'd like to have all the new flooring in by Thanksgiving.

By the way, does anyone know where we can bring our old carpet? I can't imagine EverKept will take it if we put it out on the curb... but we have to get rid of it somehow!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Handy Dandy

I just added a feature to my Picasa program which uploads directly to SmugMug without having to open the website and click on a series of tabs to select the album, and drag and drop files, etc. Before you were also forbidden to browse away from the site while uploading, and now that is no longer a factor. It seems equally fast, too.

I highly recommend SmugMug to anyone who shares large quantities of photos with friends and family. I can't say for sure how many people visit ours, but I love having it - if only for a backup of all our best photos. It's beautifully organized and has many fun features like keywords, quick sorting, password protection options, gallery styles, and purchasing, to name a few. We've been using it for a few years now, and it keeps getting better and better.

And as for Picasa, it certainly does not have the depth of features as say, Adobe Photoshop, but for quick everyday editing, it is much easier than anything else I've used, and you can do the main adjustments and even some cool enhancements in a matter of seconds.

Beer Hunting

Why would a beer can be hunter orange, you might ask?

I mean, nothing goes together like guns and alcohol. Yikes! Well, at least it's a good marketing tactic.

No Need For a Cake, But...

Lucy is one year, one month, one week, and one day old today.

This is her "I Dunno" move she's been doing lately.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Last night Ron wired the island - a couple outlets, an outlet for the (electric ignition) gas stove, and one on the back "wall" of the island for general use. Tonight he is planning on finishing up the island so that we can put it behind us and move onto floor installation.

The other day we also spent a couple hours cleaning the basement - it was just a jumbled mess of all the boxes and bins that don't really need to be unpacked right now - or things we just generally want to store - little baby gear, personal mementos, beach towels, etc. - so we stacked bins and put things neatly into the storage room so the main rec room area is much clearer. There are a few more items but we can finish up with one more session. Anyone want a microwave from the late 1970's (with the owner's manual)?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Last night we picked up the wood laminate flooring that will be in our entry, kitchen, dining area, mudroom, and bathroom. We borrowed my dad's truck because 21 boxes of flooring not only takes up a ton of room, it is extremely heavy. We're hoping to begin installation later this week. We were pleased to find that the flooring was on sale - and we saved hundreds of dollars!

The tone of the wood is medium - like our cabinets. I think it will look really nice, although there isn't a ton of contrast in the color (between cabinets and flooring). Typically people will have either light cabinets with dark floors, or vice-versa. Having them be similar wasn't my initial plan, but now that I see it, I think I like how it streamlines everything, but still feels warm.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Got The Boot

Yesterday I went to a foot and ankle specialist and was outfitted with a walking boot. It's black and has a lot of big Velcro straps and looks kind of like a ski boot... and although I am still using one or two crutches most of the time, I can put some weight on my foot and hobble around a little bit. The doctor looked at my x-rays and saw three minor fractures and ligament damage. I was just glad that I didn't need a cast, which would make things pretty much impossible for me. So today Ron is taking off work so he can help with Lucy, and we will be able to get some errands done. He even vacuumed this morning!

Saturday we went to our friend's wedding and had a great time, and stayed until the end of the reception! Not what we were initially planning, but it seems like whenever we get a chance to "get away" we like to make the most of it - so that's what we did. Sunday we went to church and my parents met us there with Lucy. We were at the early service, so there was nursery to take her to, so we all did our best to keep her fairly quiet and content through the service.

Yesterday my mom came over and spent the day helping me with Lucy, chauffeuring me around, etc. and she will do the same tomorrow (I have to take Lucy to the pediatrician for flu shot #2). I'm hoping by later in the week I will be able to do everything on my own and not need anyone taking off work to help me.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I'll Tumble For Ya...

Well today was interesting - I felt great and had a pot roast slow cooking, smelling up the house, got all geared up and went to visit Ron and my mom at GHS. Things are quite uneventful until I decided to head down a flight of stairs, and missed the last step with my clunky Danskos. I fell in slow motion, rolling my foot funny while turning my body to cushion Lucy from the fall. She was fine. I layed her down and called for help - and then she started crying. I saw someone I knew (security guy) and called his name and he came over and radioed for the nurse (Sally). So once he was on the radio everyone heard that a woman had fallen down the steps and some of them could hear Lucy crying. Within moments a half-dozen people were there, including my mom who could take Lucy and calm her down. I had heard a "pop" sound so I didn't want to put any weight on it.

Ron, wandering by, bumped into someone who said, "hey I think your wife sprained her ankle" and he didn't even know I was in the building - then he looked up to see my mom with Lucy, and me sitting on the ground. Probably quite surprising to say the least.

The principal and the security guy carried me up the steps and stood me upright, which is when I started to feel nauseated, turned green, and developed very muffled hearing - like after a rock concert. I felt better when I sat in the wheelchair and Sally pushed me toward the office, but still a little queasy. Those signs showed that I probably had a fracture, which is sort of what I figured. My mom took Lucy to her house, and Ron and I went to the med center where I had x-rays, which showed that I had an avulsion fracture of my cuboid and dorsal talus bones (info for all your medical professionals out there!). Anyway, I have to wear this splint thing and use crutches for 5-7 days (no weight bearing) and then a follow-up will tell me what I can do depending on how it is healing. What really bothers me isn't that I broke my foot, or that I feel like a complete klutz... it's that I am going to need a lot of extra help taking care of our daughter, who toddles and climbs and is definitely not one of those kids who sits still for like, 3 nanoseconds. Even if she was calm all the time, it's hard to carry a 24 lb. child while on crutches.

I felt really terrible because she was obviously scared and I could hardly comfort her because there was so much going on... and now she's sleeping over at Grandma's and Grandpa's house so that tomorrow morning is easier to manage. Right now the fact is, I can't do it alone... and I really do not enjoy being "taken care of" like this. Much of how I perceive myself is based on being the one who takes care of someone else, so this is an adjustment. Hopefully I can allow it to heal well and be back in business within a couple of weeks.

No scans to share this time - but you can check out last year's injury which was pretty gnarly too. You can see the fracture goes almost completely through my toe, and then you can see the x-ray after it was set. Before having Lucy I never broke a single bone. I guess I need to be much more careful!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

Kelly, forgive me, but I had to post this Halloween photo of you (1981) as Kermit. I know a couple people in particular will get a kick out it... how cute!