Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dining Room Ceiling

Well, instead of just hanging a bit of crown molding around the perimeter, B got a little carried away, and in the process solved the Ugly Chandelier Problem we've been dealing with. With the new layout of the kitchen and dining room, the Ugly Chandelier does not hang in the middle of the room. The other problem is that the room is large and conducive to a variety of tasks, not just "dining." We've had the chandelier tied up close to the top to get it out of the way with a spare piece of wire. Not exactly attractive. So. here it is:
B and Pop spent this Monday laying out the dimensions with 2x4s (not an easy task since there is not one SINGLE square wall/ceiling/corner/anything in this whole house. We're talking oblong parallelograms at best.) and getting the beams covered in melamine board.

The rest of the week (and this weekend) was spent cutting and insetting 144 linear feet of crown molding inside the coffers, and hanging can lights instead of the Ugly Chandelier.

And here's what it looks like tonight with a good coat of primer on it. It looks like a million dollars!
Now no one will hit their head on a low-hanging mess of Ugly. And everyone will look up and take notice of the mighty fine workmanship that went into this project.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Floors Part 3

The transformation of the living room floor: a Photo Essay:

Day 1 of the installation:

Day 2 of the installation:

End of day 2, and 2 hours before Easter dinner:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Base Cabinets

B spent the weekend building base cabinets for the kitchen. The cabinet you see below will have a bank of drawers all the way down, including a couple of deep ones for pots and pans that don't fit in the storage provided by the stove.

These three on the other side of the stove will each have a single drawer at the top of them an regular cabinet drawers below.
So the last of the old cabinets will be occupied by Ty, 'cause Miles will never find him in there... perfect for sneak attacks.
Man, looking at Miles in the photo makes me realize he's becoming the old grey man. I remember the days his nose was solid black. Ah, well. He and B share the same birthday and are exactly 20 years apart, which means he'll be turning 12 this year. We've been really fortunate to have such sound dogs. They've both had their traumas but for the most part they've been happy and healthy over the years.

New Floors Part 2

Well, here are a couple pics of the bamboo flooring in the foyer and in the kitchen. The only room we don't have completed is the living room. We bought some decorative trim to frame out the room and and add some panache and had to wait for it to come in. Well, it's in and ready to go, so that will be the focus of Easter weekend while Pop and the family are in town.

From the kitchen looking towards the front door:
From the front door looking into the kitchen:
And here's a good look at the floor. You can really appreciate the color. Mmmm... caramel.
Notice the new base cabinet carcases! With shelves! B just needs to build the drawers and trim them out, then we'll be ready for painting and doors.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

February gift

I decided to make socks for February's monthly gift for the new little one. They match the little sno-cap hat I made back in September and are ten times cuter in person.
While I was at it, I decided to make B a pair of socks for V-day. It took me until March 4th to finish them, but hey! He still got to wear them in all that snow we got last weekend. I used a pattern with a broken rib stitch on the main body of the sock, and measured B's feet so they would be a "custom" fit. I think socks will be the new fixation. I keep looking at the Big Box craft stores for good yarn to use, but I am realizing I'll have to make a special trip to My Favorite Local Yarn Store for a little bit of shopping. Darn.

I am thinking I need to switch gears soon as well. I still have a sling to make for the little squirmer and I have an idea for a quilt. The quilt I may or may not get to, but the sling I really must complete. I even have the rings, so I really don't have any excuse. I'm getting too big to help out much around the house with the construction stuff and the nesting-thing is starting to kick in. What a terrible combination for B. All the pressure with about a tenth of the help.


It's been almost a week and somehow can't post any photos. We keep getting some "server error" message and told to try again in 30 seconds... well, try several days...

We've got more stuff to show folks: some better pictures of the new floors, more stuff on babies, and other assorted displays of craftyness.

I guess we'll keep trying. Well, off to see the new IKEA that just opened up the road!
May the parking gods be kind...

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Last Saturday, poolside in Mexico:
This Saturday, porchside at home:

Since we're snowed in there's not much work we can do on the house. B shoveled a path to the garage, but the snow is blowing so hard it's already filling back in. Time for a movie marathon. Hey, The Shining is on!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Journeys of surrender

In four weeks, our son would be turning one year old. There would be cake, I'm sure. Probably some gifts, definitely pictures, and untold numbers of laughs and tears.

I know I haven't written much or shared a lot about the journey I'm on with this pregnancy.
This is an awkward place to be, and I'm having difficulty with the two main facets of my mothering experience. How can I mourn the loss of our child while trying to keep myself whole enough to nurture a new being growing inside me? This whole process of growth and birth is so intertwined with death and loss to me, it hardly seems fair to explore it outside of my own heart. There is such a mix of being high with the joy of Becoming parents last April only to have the bottom of our world drop out from underneath. I can't speak for B, but I know the journey of trying to find solid ground still isn't over.

I have been staring a lot at calendars lately, counting down the weeks until we meet this new little babe who is making his or her presence known through spectacular displays of tossing and tumbling. Maybe this is just a growth spurt and things will calm down into some more predictable patterns we can both live with. But there are only about thirteen weeks left to go before we're going to go through this tremendous physical and emotional transformation again. But before we even get to that point, we have to make it through Burke's birth and death anniversaries. We will have to relive it all, and I can't help but be nervous. How do women do this? How can they overcome the loss of their flesh and blood and turn around and give birth two handfuls of weeks later?

I do consider myself to be a strong person, but the mystery of life is not something I can wrestle into submission. I have realized that pregnancy and birth is a journey of surrender. You can research, theorize, plan and outline all you want, but there is no guarantee. Watching a good friend walk down a similar path with her beautiful mother's lost battle with cancer makes me see that there is just as much surrender at the End as there is at the Beginning.

So, here I am.

I still want a natural birth. There is no research out there that tells me that this is not the best choice for me or my baby, and trust me, I've looked. I believe in the Midwives model of care, far more than the Medical model. I think that birth is a natural part of living on this planet, that women have done it for thousands of years before the rise of western medicine with a LOT fewer problems. Then I see the SHAMEFUL rates of infant mortality in this country and I realize I am this statistic. Me. The uncertainty of it all frightens me. I had the interventions, yet still ended up a statistic... even a c-section would not have saved him.

Here's the mental battle: how do I surrender to the process without surrendering to the fear that seems to be lurking around every corner? IF interventions are necessary, will I be able to separate the past from the present and make sound decisions based on the current circumstances, or will I scare myself into a scheduled c-section with a whole host of further risks and complications? I know I will do my best to walk into the hospital as mentally prepared (and well-researched) as I can be for any outcome, but will I emotionally be able to separate the past from the present? I know it's all about making good choices based on sound research. To be proactive and make choices, not passive and let others make them for me.

I keep the mantra " different baby, different outcome," running through my mind. Deep breaths: in with good, out with bad. I try to give myself space to grieve, to not feel guilty for feeling my pain while this little one swims around bumping ribs and bladder with happy abandon.

Over the next few weeks I only hope I can focus more on what is to come than what I've lost.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New floors Part 1

We are installing bamboo flooring on the main level now. The old hardwood is just too far gone, plus with the holes from when we removed a closet and adjusted the opening for the new back door, there are some awkward areas with no wood at all. There's no way we'd be able to match it and make it look okay. The problems of the old floors are also compounded by uneven settling of the house over the last 90-some years. There are humps and dips that drive us nuts. If you drop a marble by the front door, you can watch it roll down the hall, then it will turn and roll all the way into the dining room before falling into a hole from a broken floorboard.

Installing new flooring over the old gives us the advantage of being able to re-level it all, and have consistent flooring throughout the foyer, kitchen, dining room and living room. We chose a carbonized bamboo that's darker than the natural stuff you see in modern-style homes. The bamboo is steamed to a specific point until it begins to release its sugar, turning it a caramel color that goes through the whole board. Beneficial if/when it gets dinged because the color won't chip or flake off like with stained wood.

Here's Pop spacing out shims in the foyer to level out the hump that runs down the middle of the floor. These are just nailed down to the old floor.
In this view you can really see the difference in elevation.
After the shims are down, Pop and B nailed down a thin sheet of 1/4 inch plywood to help raise the foyer floor up to meet the old kitchen tile. They began laying the bamboo in the transition from the kitchen and foyer, so both areas would be perfectly square and wouldn't have an awkward joint.

It took three very long days to get the foyer, kitchen and dining room done. A tip when working with bamboo flooring: make sure you have a brand new blade in the chop saw. This stuff is TOUGH. By the end of the last day, the brand new blade we bought was shredding the boards.

We are waiting for a decorative trim to come in at the lumber store to do the living room. I think we'll need another new blade when we get started again and get the flooring finished!