Old News: Past Blog Posts

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part 4

 Boys are all asleep....
...so I have a few minutes to sit down and put together a few thoughts on our progress. 


A week ago, our big guy turned 4. It was the first day of Spring Break, so my husband was off with the boys and I chose to spend the day at work feeling sorry for myself. My mood was not improved when I got home and learned that we had no water hook up to the old washer and dryer (as anticipated, the new machines are still gathering dust in their original packaging). I angrily pointed out that I have about five minutes a week to do the 17 loads of laundry we accumulate (I know, the math there is like all wrong, but the hyperbole gets my point across), and this was particularly true on a weekend we planned to celebrate two family birthdays and catch up with my husband's out-of-town brother who spent the bulk of last year deployed overseas. 

My rage was translated into a much more reasonable request by my husband-who had originally declined a Saturday crew-that we have someone out to correct the problem. 

We are currently three and a half weeks into this fiasco and while we are seeing progress (whenever we break into the now heavily secured bathroom), I am starting to go a little batty as I roam around in the ever-thickening layer of dust and clutter that slightly resembles what once was my home. 

So, in the spirit of staying optimistic (because it's way too early in this process to transition to the 'anger phase' of home renovation), I have complied a list of unexpected PROs that have surfaced over the past few weeks:

1. Fitness. I am typically a pretty motivated gym-goer, but in our current situation, no gym means no shower. Which, actually now that I think about it, has always pretty much been the case for me. Just never saw the point of showering if I didn't get sufficiently sweaty and disgusting first. Still, if my bladder gets all demanding in the middle of the night (which is almost always the case) I do have a staircase I have to deal with, so that counts for something I guess.

2. Embracing the filth. Our house is a now a disgusting pile of trash and we just don't give two f*cks. It's a little liberating and a little alarming. I have always worried that there's this little part of me who could very easily slip into the role of reclusive hoarder with questionable hygiene (see shower comment on previous section) and now it's happening.   Someone should probably just go ahead and start the process of removing our children from their home now. 

3.  Convenience: The refrigerator is now 14 steps closer to the couch then it was before. Which is good, because with all this chaos, I need improved access to the booze. 

There's the fridge! Just five short steps past all that unfolded laundry...

4. No dishes. I would say I am feeling guilty about dumping all these paper plates into our landfills, but in a world where a Trump presidency is an actual, viable possibility, you gotta figure the apocalypse is pretty eminent anyways, so my guilt is minimal. 

5. Soothing background noise. With the possible exception of their NICU stays, our boys have seemingly never slept better. Apparently there's something about drilling and hammering that lulls them right into the deepest type of sleep. It's truly astounding. 


Potty training has hit a plateau. Spring break had originally been planned to be a potty bootcamp situation, but those plans were foiled by the arrival of the boys' globe-trotting uncle and a week action-packed with non-potty-training-friendly family outings where the hubs was parenting solo. We are realists, and also a little lazy, so the issue has remained stagnant. The closest thing that amounts to progress was today when I spotted our newly pronounced 4-year-old standing naked at the top of our stairs, holding a soiled pull up over his head and announcing 'I am poopy' 


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part 3


Saturday was a dreary and drippy day, the perfect sort of weather for napping...or perfect for sending your kids away then boxing up 25% of your belongings and dragging them to the basement. We opted for the latter because I think deep down we may harbor some self-loathing, and (the more obvious reason) because we both work full time and we really had zero choice. Napping weather or not, this was our opportunity to completely ready the house for the next phase of what I have begun thinking of as our 'seemed smarter on paper' home renovation project. 

Our children were delivered to their grandparents' house for lunch and naps and we dove in to the dust and clutter around 1:00 PM. We began in what is officially labeled our '4th bedroom' but in practice, has always acted as a glorified laundry room/junk depository. 

This is how it looks on a good day.

I was in full on purge-mode and had to pump the breaks when I almost tossed a bag of NICU memorabilia from #3 (that's the price you pay for arriving last, little man). We waded through giant bags of breast pump paraphernalia, plastic containers intended for homemade baby food (very gently used), countless burp clothes, at least 4 old iPhones, enough expired sunscreen to allow someone to walk across the surface of the sun without injury, and even a box of leftover wedding favors (anybody need about 300 golf pencils??) I wasn't all cold-hearted though, I did have one of those MOMents when I came across a newborn size diaper and marbled that there had been moments in all of our boys lives when that tiny diaper had been considered too large for their tiny wrinkled tuckus'.   

Eventually, the cabinets in the utility room were bear and it was time for them to relocate to their new home in our dingy unfinished basement. Things went smoothly with the help of a borrowed dolly until we miscalculated the space available to allow for an adequate turning radius at the bottom of the steps for the largest cabinet.

This is the last photo we have of our beloved cabinet. It served us well, but met an unfortunate demise whereby it was brutally demismembered and discarded. It will be missed.

Once the cabinets were clear out,  relocated, and re-stocked, we moved our efforts to the kitchen. In my mind, the kitchen would be total cake. The basis of our entire project is riding on the notion that the kitchen is just too damn small. Therefore, logic would suggest that the process of clearing out a kitchen that has inadequate space would take no time at all. 


We are apparently pretty efficient when it comes to using our space and I was amazed at what we had amassed over the past several years. At one point, I was contorting myself uncomfortably to reach blindly to the back of our corner cabinet and had a moment of panic when my memory suddenly produced a recollection of a friend surfacing mouse remains the next cabinet over during a pre-move-in cleaning exercise. It's been over seven years, and I can still see those mouse remains when I close my eyes. 

In hindsight, we should never have felt at all surprised when rodents spent the next seven winters putting forth various efforts to take over our kitchen. Luckily, our body count total at the end of the day was minimal: one mouse, one cabinet. 

Not bad for one afternoon of work. Here's a few visuals of where the project stands as we head into week 2.

Totally unsure of what is happening behind our bathroom door. After a 'concerned email' regarding the workers removal of our floor, we came home to find they'd drilled the door closed. So there's no telling what's going on back there. But one can only assume there's still no floor.

Here's our laundry closet. New washer and dryer will be delivered tomorrow. My gut says it will be awhile before I will be christening them.

Speaking of laundry...


It's still super touch-and-go on the potty front. As you can see, there's been lots of bribery. The 'data collection' phase is officially over (suprise, there's basically no rhyme or reason to their bowel and bladder habits) and we have decided to continue to keep it light and low pressure for the time being. They're are certain obvious advantages to pull ups after all. Without them, we would've definitely needed at least one pit stop during the St Patrick's day race on Saturday. 

(If you look closely, I'm fairly certain they are ALL pooping in this photo)

Perhaps we will feel more motivated when the new laundry units are installed and we actually want to spend every waking hour washing soiled underpants. 


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part 2


It's day three of renovation and there's definitely no turning back. I arrived home and parked next to our blue tub. 

For one brief moment, I mourned the loss of that baby blue porcelain. Then I swallowed back the urge to dance, it somehow seemed gauche. So the bathroom is gone. Like, completely. When I was getting the unsurprising official news that I'd reinfected myself with strep, the NP suggested we wipe down the surfaces of the bathroom 'really well' this time. I think we might've gone a little overboard, but I'll be damned if that virus hasn't been cleared out of the bathroom:

Part of me is sort of loving the exposed brick. But I guess tile is more practical...so is having a floor:

It's difficult to see by this photo but Holy Balls, there is an exposed two story drop...in my house. Luckily I've learned I can operate basically without sleep, because there's no chance I will be sleeping again until our bathroom is no longer a terrifying death trap (or at least I can lie awake worrying about normal things again, like a Trump presidency, #MakeDonaldDrumphAgain) 


The two-year-old insisted he wear his Mickey underpants to school today, and begrudgingly agreed to also wear his plastic pants. He had a big win by peeing on the potty during the class potty break, then he sweetly crawled into the lap of one of his teachers and peed on her. He recounted the incident with pragmatic indifference to both my husband and myself this evening, leading me to believe I am for sure raising a sociopath.

The three-year-old sat dutifully on his tiny plastic throne for me twice today and a family trip to Target was phase one of the 'major bribery' stage of this process. He's now the proud owner of several 'Potty Only Toys' and we'll see where that takes us. 

Meanwhile, there is dust in places that don't even make sense and urine in places I probably don't even know about, including poor Ms Katie's pants...

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Sawdust and Urine: Part One

Sawdust and Urine: Part I

It's a well known fact that my husband and I are out of our damn minds. Any couple who pops out three babies in 33 months was either already a little batty to begin with or at least willing to pack their bags for a one way trip to the Funny Farm. 

And so, when we decided that 2016 was the perfect year to undergo a major kitchen and bathroom renovation, pretty much nobody questioned our plans. I mean, the boys are basically grown now, since they've reached the ripe old ages of one, two, and three. But just in case we hadn't set ourselves up for total and complete implosion, we figured this, of all times, was the perfect time to potty train. What better time to teach a couple kiddos to use the commode than when you're making plans to remove it from your home? 

Here's where we currently stand:

Sawdust (RENOVATION): I returned home from a 12 hour workday to a house where the residual chaos of the day (day one of home rehab) was almost palpable. To complicate things, our nanny had a doctors appointment mid-afternoon which coincided with our 2-year-old's in-home speech therapy appointment. Somehow, the kids had been able to nap through a partial demo of the bathroom which shares a wall with the 2- and 3-year-olds' bedroom, but they apparently woke up in particularly defiant moods. I've never witnessed a P.O.W. arriving Stateside after their release, but I imagine their face might look a little like how my husband looked when I walked in the door tonight. He rallied though, and by bedtime, was removing the doors from our refrigerator so we could finish setting up our make-shift new kitchen space. Creating a temporary kitchen in your existing dining room is exactly as tedious as it sounds. I'm not sure how often you clean the space under your refrigerator, but for us it's been a few years. The smelly soupy combo of a dripping water line (which BTW needs to be capped when unhooking your ice maker), several years of mouse excrement, tumble-weeds of dog hair, and a handful of wayward kitchen magnets was just about enough to make me gag. It certainly made me grateful that the peel-and-stick floor tiles will soon find themselves in a dumpster where they most certainly belong. Moving the refrigerator was one of those exercises in problem solving and teamwork that will either strengthen a marriage or be cited as evidence in a future divorce hearing. Luckily, for us I think it was mostly the former. I've learned to let the hubs take the lead in projects like this, mainly because I am basically worthless in most projects involving a screwdriver, but also because he just prefers to be calling the shots. We learned that the wheels on our refrigerator are oriented only in one plane, and not the one we needed. Sliding the flattened box under the wheels may have been my idea, but it wouldn't have happened without the sheer brawn of my better half. It's noteworthy to mention the whole project moved 1,000% faster once the children were (begrudgingly) sentenced to their beds. 

And because I am battling what I am fairly sure is round two of streptococcal pharyngitis and would probably benefit from sleep tonight, I will substitute several thousand words with the followings pictures to illustrate today's progress:

The bathroom as it was when I left the house this morning (indeed, we have a blue tub and toilet...it's bananas, I know)

  Here's how it looks tonight:

To quote our astute 2-year-old, "it's brown!" Hell, I think it looks better already. 

The pantry in our kitchen has always been a source of significant annoyance for me. It's so deep, it would take a headlamp and a long weekend to locate the materials needed to bake a cake. So when some crafty bastard (I honestly can't recall who it was) came up with the genius idea to convert it to a laundry closet, I was totally overjoyed. When we were cleaning it out this past weekend, we found an endless supply of expired food items. My favorite was a can of crisco which expired in 2010. Trust me, the space is much better used as a laundry closet. 

In my opinion, we basically went from an episode of Hoarders to an episode of American Horror Story. Upgrade?

Here's our new kitchen. Yay.


After almost a year in pull ups and hearing lots of polite 'no thanks' when suggesting the potty, I finally went to a potty training seminar out of desperation. I came home armed with two pages of scribbled notes and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Since that night last week, we've been in the 'data collection' phase. The entire 'Villiage' has been recruited in checking pants every half hour at home, with the nanny, at school, and even my in-laws house. 

The two-year-old has had some pretty outstanding moments, pooping on the potty twice on day one and even voluntarily heading to the potty seat a few times with the nanny. The three-year-old shit on my nightstand and smeared it on the wall and window blinds. 

Undaunted, we are pressing on. Today, big boy underpants arrived from Amazon, satisfying my Disney-corporation- brainwashed 2-year-old and also the 3-year-old's obsession with The Good Donosaur (which should've been called, in my opinion, The Mediocre Dinosaur). Next step will be to review the weeklong data to establish patterns (ha) and establish an adequate system of bribery (sorry, positive reinforcement). Or maybe I'll just go ahead and have myself committed instead. 

Either way, the house will no doubt be covered in a thin but persistent layer of urine and sawdust for the foreseeable future.