Saturday, November 26, 2016


I've been putting off writing here because I've felt like I haven't had anything to write about. Then, after I wrote that sentence I couldn't immediately think of anything else to write so I read blogs for three hours. And then I came back to this, stared at it for a second, and clicked away for about a week. That's kind of how all writing has been for me lately. As I was trying to put this post together--and failing to come up with much--I decided that it was time for a break. I don't know for how long, or if I'll come back at all, but if I do come back I know that I won't be back until 2017. I am hoping for a full recovery for my back (and the leg pain it's causing) but until then I'm just not moving fast enough to sustain content here. I am on the road to recovery but I'm not there yet. I had a steroid shot in my spine a few weeks ago, and I felt better for a little bit but now I'm more or less back to where I was before the shot. My hopes are now 100% on physical therapy, and the things I'm learning there are telling me that I really should have gone last time even though I had to have surgery. This whole back thing has stopped me in my tracks for such a long time it's hard to remember when I was last able to actually do consistent work on the house, or on anything, really. I made two Halloween costumes for friends (the kids' costumes were all store bought) and a few costume pieces for myself, but those were the first and last things I've made in a while. I'm gearing up to make curtains for the family room, and we'll see what happens after that. But until then, the list of partially finished projects, and projects that I want to start but can't, keeps growing and growing, as does my frustration.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Two years ago, almost exactly, I found out that I had a herniated disc and that I'd need surgery. Well, the last few--um, several--months I've been having leg pain. It was different than last time in that there was almost no back pain, so I thought it was sciatica and just tried not to overextend myself. It was getting a little bit worse in May, right as school was getting out, and I thought "eh, I'll just tough this out over the summer and get an appointment in August." It got worse as summer went on, as these things do. The boys went back to school August 25. Baby Girl didn't go back until the 30th, but I was in the doctor's office on August 26. She sent me for another MRI and yep, I have a bulging disc. I suppose it's better news in that it's not herniated, but that doesn't mean it won't herniate.

I couldn't get in to the neurologist until October 11, and as I am not a doctor I can't be sure of what he'll say, but I feel like "you can't do physically strenuous stuff anymore" is definitely on the table. That would mean most DIY stuff will be out. I can't imagine that any doctor would recommend someone with a recent history of back problems bad enough to require surgery should go ahead and take down walls or rip up and lay down their own floors. If that's the case, most plans of what I wanted to do with this house and what kind of house we wanted next are out.

I've wanted to buy and restore an old house since I was a kid. I had planned to just do one and move to another one, then repeat until I got too old to repeat any more, but then HGTV and DIY Network let me know that you can flip houses too, and I thought that would be a great way to save even more old houses. That part was more of a "maybe when the kids are older" dream, but I always thought I would at least be able to find a house to restore for us. I can't say for sure at this point that all that is off the table, but realistically, it probably is. So I'm kind of pre-mourning the fact that I won't be able to save at least one old house, and also kind of wondering how I'm going to finish all the projects I have to do here. B certainly has no interest in doing any home stuff, nor does he really know how. Also, it seems like whenever I finish one project I have two more when I turn around, so even if I did somehow get everything done, it wouldn't stay done.

I had such big plans for this year. All three kids were in school and I was going to get so much done during the day. Now I'm just going to be able to do laundry or something. At this point I can't even comfortably bend over to pick up stuff off the kids' floors. It's making me even more sad just thinking about it. I never thought I'd be sad to not be able to clean.

On a non-related note, I am working on updating all old links on the blog. I thought I'd only have to do the ones from the time I had the .com domain, but it seems like maybe every link was changed from a blogspot to a .com? It's in progress.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Update those bookmarks

I am choosing not to renew my domain name this year, as I have done zero with it since I bought it. I'm not 100% sure when it's going to revert, so I will be removing the redirect and my domain name will once again be on August 31.

I took the summer off without really intending to, but I will be back. School starts August 25 here, and Baby Girl will be in full-day preschool this year. I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Back soon?

I've been dealing with some health stuff--nothing terrible, just a reoccurance of my back problems and what is probably sciatica. (Note to self: call the doctor, should probably verify that or something.) I was also sick with sinus and throat stuff the entire winter, from about October to March. I think I've gained thirty pounds from eating nothing but mashed potatoes and oatmeal for six months. All of that has put a damper on me doing much of anything physical beyond what I have to do to keep us from living in squalor.

We've also been mostly at a standstill on almost everything house-related because of a) the aforementioned health problems, b) the yearly "should we sell" debate, and c) needing to get the foundation fixed before we do anything else. We finally got a home equity line of credit, so we should be able to resolve C soon. The answer to B is probably going to be "no" again, like it always is (nothing we like on the market, as usual), and A...well, A might be the sticking point. But if I work slowly--even more slowly than I usually do--I might be OK. We'll see what the doctor says. As soon as I call her. I am feeling a little bit better, though, learning my limits etc etc. So I have a little bit of hope that I might be able to get back to doing stuff around here soon and, consequently, posting on the blog.

As for what I've been working on, or what I've been planning to work on, I'm redoing at least Baby Girl's and Mr. Man's rooms. Yaya's room doesn't really need a full redo just yet, maybe a minor refresh, but I don't know if/when I'll do anything substantial in there. We did move his loft bed out and put his old bed back in, but that's about it.

We might get to do some work in the backyard and put up our pool this year; it just depends on how much the foundation ends up costing and how much it will cost to cut down the trees back there. I want to cut down all the trees on our property (only four--a black walnut, a pine, a honey locust, and a maple that I think is a silver maple--but all of them are very tall, in stupid places, and very messy) but I doubt we'll be able to get to the front two (the pine and maple) this year. We need to cut down the two trees in the back and jackhammer up the patio to put in the pool. I'm not sure it's required, but I'd like to install another outdoor outlet for the pool. That might require us putting in a new subpanel inside (I think that would run about $1000), I'm not sure. The garage is wired mostly with an extension cord (thanks previous owners!), but there is an outlet that seems to be properly installed--it's not GFCI, but it is in an outdoor outlet box--but it's on the wrong side of the garage so maybe we could just get that moved. Of course that will involve digging a trench and stuff, but that's got to be cheaper than installing a new subpanel. We will have $3300 at the most to do all that, which is why I'm not holding my breath on getting everything done. I'm not even going to add "put a cute wooden cottage fence around the front yard" to the list.

We're also planning to switch rooms in the basement (again, for the millionth time) and fully finish the basement. I can't imagine that we'll get to the finishing this year; I just don't see it being in the budget or my schedule of maximum two hours of physical work a day, including cooking, cleaning, and child care. It'd be nice to get the basement finishing done before winter, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'd love to do a quick kitchen refresh, too. Nothing much, but I'd like to finalize the footprint in there and replace the floor (again) because I hate the one we have in there now. Amusingly (or annoyingly, whichever), when I was going through the tool area yet again, I found an entire box of the discontinued tile that prompted me to put down the hated floor I have in there right now. (I went to look for a post about the new kitchen floor to link here, but apparently I hate it so much I never wrote about it. That seems right. You can see a picture of it on Baby Girl's fourth birthday party post, though.) I had completely forgotten I had any tile down there--there were actually three boxes of various tile there. So...oops.

That's enough of a list to keep me busy for a while. I feel like I've lost a few years, but I guess that happens.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Baby Girl's fourth birthday party

We had Baby Girl's birthday party three weeks ago a month ago and I haven't been able to focus on writing long enough to sit down and finish the post about it until now. (And then I got halfway done with the post and got busy again until now, so let's hope I can get it done today.)

On the kids' birthdays, we let them pick out a piece of cake from the bakery. Baby Girl chose carrot, much to B's dismay. I don't know why; carrot is my favorite, and apparently hers, too. Now I want carrot cake.

Her party was a few weeks after her birthday. We get fewer and fewer people at the kids' parties each year. I don't know, next year maybe we'll just go to Chuck E. Cheese. But anyway. It was kind of train-themed and Baby Girls' favorites-themed. So train-shaped cookies, popcorn with candy in it, strawberries, and "train cars" of Oreos and more candy.

For her cake (chocolate this time, sorry Bub), my mom sent me a picture of a cake with mini Thomas trains on Kit Kat tracks so you know I had to do that. I made a waterfall out of a cupcake (vanilla, for Yaya because he doesn't like chocolate cake) and some Oreo crumbs on the back to be dirt or rocks or something.

Someone has been in the strawberries.

Stealing either strawberries or Oreos, or maybe both.

Present time! Bring on the Thomas track sets.

Aaaand party's over, time to play.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The February Five

We all have those projects that have been hanging around for a while, maybe they're partially done or maybe they'd only take ten minutes to do but you just haven't started. I probably have more of these than most people, so I decided to create some accountability for myself and do a post about five of them that I think I can finish this month. It's going to be hard choosing just five, actually, since there are so many things to do around here.

I've been having back problems again so I haven't gotten nearly as much done around here as I've wanted to for the past four years few months. I think the issues this time are posture-related and not spine- or herniated-disc related, so that's good. Doesn't make it hurt any less, though, and by the time I get my few hours of free time while Baby Girl is at school I'm about done for the day. Hopefully by limiting my projects to five things I really want to get done, I'll eliminate some of the pointless flitting from project to project that always happens.

So anyway. Here are my five projects for February.

1. Finish painting Mr. Man's room. I don't remember when I started this, but I'm pretty sure it was actually this year, so it hasn't been unfinished for long. It's kind of difficult to find time to do this when Baby Girl isn't around, but I'm chipping away at it. Now I just need to finish it.

2. Finish Baby Girl's Barbie house. Or at least make some progress on it.

3. Finish my mom's birthday present. Her birthday was January 26, so I really need to speed this along. Of course, I have projects I've been working on for her for years, so this is really just a blip on the radar when you look at the big picture.

4. Fix the baseboard in the bathroom. There are a few spots missing baseboard (I have them, they're just not installed) and I cannot for the life of me get a nail to catch the framing on the longer pieces. So...this might be an ongoing project. Oh, and they desperately need to be painted again. As does the bathroom, because I don't like that green anymore, but let's not let scope creep get the upper hand today.

5. Recaulk the bathtub. Needs to be done yet again. Forgot to buy painter's tape when I was at the store today. Crap.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Connecting two Barbie houses, part two

Unlike many other projects I have, I have actually been working on this since I wrote about it last. Mostly I've been thinking about it, what finishes I want, where I want the rooms to be, how to make it cute but withstand a toddler, etc etc.

I kind of got hung up on the wiring aspect of it. I would really like to have it as a house where you flip a switch and lights turn on, but after a lot of research, I've decided to stick with battery-powered LED puck lights that you push to turn on. Womp-womp, anticlimactic, I know. First, there's cost. It's not really expensive, or it doesn't have to be, but nor is it what I'd consider super cheap. The wiring supplies alone run about $35 (you can get them for 40% off at Hobby Lobby if you want to make multiple trips, of course) but the hardest part, in my opinion, is finding dollhouse lights that don't look ridiculous in a Barbie house.

Let's say you're doing round wiring, not tape wiring. First, you have to collect all your light fixtures, and it's much easier to find those in 1:12 scale (dollhouse scale) than 1:6 scale (Barbie scale). If you decide to make all your fixtures that's more time added, assuming you decide on something that's a little involved (always the path I choose). You decide all of your lights are going to be hard-wired--you can wire dollhouse lights to have little outlets in the room the light goes in, but you decide against that because you know this is for a three-year-old. You have to carve your channels for your wire (not the easiest thing in this house), take the tiny plug-ins off the wire on your light fixtures, run the wire, put the tiny plug-ins back on your wire, plug everything in to a dollhouse power strip, figure out a way to hide the power strip so your daughter can't yank the cords out, wire the power strip to a transformer lead-in wire with a switch (because there's a switch on the tiny power strip, but you don't want your toddler messing with that), wire it to a transformer, and finally plug it all in. Also, this particular Barbie house is open on most sides which makes wires harder to hide, though I do plan to change some of that. The thing that really decided it for me was when I realized that the only outlet in the room was pretty far away from the house and the cord would either be stretched taut or wouldn't reach at all. If you want to do it, I think this is a pretty good tutorial, and it shows you how to make pretty simple Barbie scale light fixtures.

Baby Girl has four LED puck lights in there right now. I think they all run on three AAA batteries, and I have worried about their lifespan. I need to change to rechargeables in all of them because some are starting to dim. They still have whatever cheap batteries they came with right now. If not rechargeables (they take three AAAs each and I'm 99% sure we don't have that many) then at least something better quality than what's in there. The thing I don't like, though, is that I bought different brands and the LEDs are obviously different color temperatures. Also, they're not the easiest thing to push on in the positions that they're in, and I had to kind of stick them in weird places based on where the ceiling was flat enough for the adhesive on the backs to work. Here's a shot of where they are in the kitchen. I forgot to get a picture of the other side.

The back one is pretty dim because the batteries are going dead, and you can see that they're just stuck wherever. I haven't decided yet if matboard would be an acceptable ceiling material or if I should go for some 1/8" plywood. I'm afraid matboard would crease when you push on it to turn on the light.

Here's a shot of the lights from the front. These pictures are all kind of deceiving and I'm a little shocked that they're as bright as they are. It's pretty dark in the toy room and these don't do a good job of showing that.

I'm getting way ahead of myself, though. There's a lot to do before we need to worry about lights. First we need to worry about setup. I never really liked the way I had it last time, so the best way to deal with that is to change it. I've been working on insulating the joist spaces in the basement and had a 30x96 piece of 1" rigid foam insulation left over. I put it on top of the piece of MDF the houses currently lived on and tested the layout I had decided on.

They might be a little too far apart.

I also toyed with the idea of multiple levels, like a sunken living room or a raised front yard so Barbie could have a pool. Raising the front yard would require raising the whole board, so I'd need to have almost another full sheet of insulation. Of course it should be easy to add later, which means it won't be. I still haven't decided which way I want to go on this. I do want to leave this side with two layers of foam.

I'm going to trim it down so it's not the full front-to-back width of the board, though. It's supposed to be a function of the house, not of the board. I'm not sure if I'll just have a step on the interior side or on both the interior and the front.

You can see here that there's already kind of a built-in step.

I was thinking about trying to recess the house into the foam so that little lip at the front is more flush with the "ground" and also as a way to keep the house in place, but I'd want the step and the foam to be the same depth, and I don't think they would be. I'll have to measure, but if I can't recess the house fully then I'll fill in under that front lip with some scrap foam and make that part of the foundation.

You may have noticed that one of the front doors is missing. I thought I had a spare, but I don't. At some point, the little tiny plastic piece that holds the door into its frame got broken off. I don't know how because it's seriously a tiny plastic dot roughly the size of a pin head. But anyway, it's broken, so I have to do something to build that back up. Maybe a cut-off pin head heated and stuck in there? That's another thing that I'll have to do some guessing on.

I'm going to have to put this on the back burner for a few weeks; my mom's birthday is next week so I need to work on her gift. I assume I will post about that sometime before June, but these days, who knows?