House

Remodeling (OR MAYBE I SHOULD JUST MOVE)

Phillip and I have kind of sort of decided that we maybe might be able to remodel our bathroom next spring and the kitchen the year or two after that. Or we could reverse it - kitchen first - except I potentially want to do way more with the kitchen than I want to do with the bathroom, and the bathroom feels like a nice smaller (but not small) project to do first. Possibly? 

Also I went to see my friend's brand new freaking ginormous house last night and now I want a massive island in my kitchen JUST LIKE HER. 

Anyway. 

I need some help. Or ideas. Or experience.

1. We are hiring out. Everything. ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. That being said:

2. How do we go about it? 

I have purchased myself a membership to Angie's List and I have a reasonable list of highly rated contractors and remodeling companies to contact for bids. My questions are more about what I want them to DO on their first visit to my house. 

Because for both the kitchen and the bathroom, there's the Smaller, Keep The General Footprint remodel and then there's the Hey, We Found A Money Tree, Let's Make This Amazing remodel. Except the Amazing remodel we would need, like, significant design help. I wouldn't be able to say, "This is exactly where we want things to go," because I'm not sure if it's even possible for those things to GO there. You know? 

So when I invite someone over to give me a bid... can I ask those things? All the companies we're looking at come with design service. And I feel like I would have to ask about BOTH, because even though we plan to do the kitchen second, if it turns out it doesn't make sense to change the footprint, then I'd have more money to potentially do the bigger remodel on the bathroom. Right? 

Are my remodelers going to hate me before I even hire them? 

Am I worrying too much about wanting them to not thing I'm crazy? 

Do I hire a kitchen designer separately from all this? Find that out first? I would prefer to go crazy on the kitchen as opposed to the bathroom. Phillip might feel differently, but let's be honest, I will win this conversation. 

The simple plans:

BATHROOM: Keep the existing space, but divide it so that there is a small powder room with a door to the hallway and a bigger-but-not-much-bigger master bath with a door to the master bedroom. (Right now it's a jack and jill into the master and hallway. Annoying.) 

KITCHEN: Keep the existing footprint, but gut. New everything. 

The not so simple plans:

BATHROOM: Divide the current bathroom to create a small powder room and master bathroom, but add pointless hallway space plus master closet to create a Big Master Bath/Closet. Would require moving the bedroom DOOR. Not the best idea, but would be interesting to see how a professional would make it work. 

KITCHEN: Gut. Take down a half wall and post. Create brand new kitchen and kitchen table area with expanded opened space. Potentially makes a lot more room for dining AND opens up the space for parties and gatherings. 

I've read a lot of places that "kitchens are usually designed a certain way because THAT'S THE WAY THAT MAKES SENSE" but you guys, my house is weird. WEIRD. There MIGHT be possibilities. I would like to find out! For kicks! And potentially thousands of dollars!

I just... I want to ask all my questions, but I am afraid of looking stupid. Which, okay, really really eye rolly thing to worry about, but this is my hang up about absolutely everything. Is there anything you can share with me to make me look less stupid? Maybe? 


Blue chair + plane tickets = cheery disposition

I want this chair.

Bluechair

I spent this evening figuring out how much money we can pay ourselves after Macaron Madness Month. With my earnings I am going to buy this chair. I have been wanting A Chair for my living room and I like this one quite a lot. It is my favorite color. And every time sit in it - no, LOOK at it - I will think to myself, "Macaron Madness Month purchased this chair" which will, hopefully, fill me with a sense of Satisfaction and Contentitude. 

Also it is on sale. 

Thumbprints Baking Company is in a bit of a holding pattern, mainly because Katie is looking for new digs. It would be difficult to run an online bakery when the baker is, say, 45 minutes away from the packer/shipper/deliverer/picture taker. I am happy to wait and see and in the meantime I shall buy this chair. 

Also in the meantime I shall plan our trip. Today I 1) responded to the nice English lady whose Southwark apartment we want to rent for a week and 2) bought plane tickets from Venice, Italy to Paris, France. Dudes, those tickets were CHEEEEAP. I don't think I can fly to SPOKANE for what I paid for Venice to Paris. I mean, the Paris hotel will more than make up for whatever we saved on cheap airfare, but I feel like I'm going to need to do a lot of financial brightsiding on this trip.  

So far, the trip looks like this:

  • Fly to Venice. 
  • Spend 6-7 days in small town northeastern Italy in a vacation rental house with my parents and Other Sister, her husband, and impossibly cute baby. We plan to take the train to Venice a few times, head to the beach, day trip to my parents' old favorite spots, but also drink a lot of cappuccino, eat a lot of gelato, and walk around the town. For a while I was thinking we'd drive up to Austria or even Bavaria, but you know, I have a LOT of cappuccino drinking to do. 
  • On day 7 Phillip and I will leave the kids in the vacation rental with my parents and fly to Paris. Two nights and nearly three full days. Phillip said, "I'm realizing this isn't going to be a relaxing vacation." YA THINK, PHILLIP?
  • The day after we fly back from Paris, Phillip's PARENTS are flying into Venice. We'll spend yet another day in Venice with them and hopefully direct them to our small town via train and show them the small town sights. It probably sounds super obnoxious that I want to take Phillip's dad to the small town Chinese restaurant, but I honestly think he would get a gigantic kick out of it AND become besties with the owners. He is just that kind of guy. 
  • THEN we are flying to London. With Phillip's parents, though it remains to be seen if they are tagging along so closely that they're picking the same flight, or if we'll just meet up again in London. Phillip will work a few days while I try to maintain a nice balance of Culture, Art, Playtime, and iPad time. I'm not SUPER sure what the must dos are with small children. The Tower of London, a museum or four, Hamley's, Foyle's, the changing of the guard. I am GOING to the Imperial War Museum with or without my family. And we are FOR SURE going to see a musical. Well, quite honestly, we will attend as many appropriate-for-children theatrical productions as I can afford and manage. THOUGHTS? 
  • We'll be there over a weekend and I am PRETTY sure we will attempt Stonehenge. Jackson is suuuuuper into Mysteries Of The World and had a whole week of Stonehenge obsession this summer. I THINK it'd be fun to do that? Maybe find some kind of tour that will bus us there and back? The Salisbury Cathedral on the way?
  • Phillip works the Monday after the weekend (THANK YOU, PHILLIP'S COMPANY, YOU ARE LOVELY PEOPLE) and we fly home on a Tuesday. Sadness.

You know what else I'm thinking about a lot these days? The SEATTLE Blathering. Yep. So much to plaaaaan! 

Now I have to go clean in preparation for my cleaning people tomorrow morning. You know how it goes. 

 

 


An inelegant attempt at moving the plot forward

What's happening with the new bedroom?!

Nothing! The bed arrived - though it was delivered to a different house in our neighborhood, whose address is not at ALL similar to ours, BUT the house belonging to neighbors we know the best, TOTALLY RANDOM - and we put it together and it's not the BEST quality, but it's cute and it will do. But! But! When we put the full mattress on, it didn't fit! LIKE DOESN'T FIT AT ALLLLLLL. The mattress is too long. We smashed it in anyway, which was stupid because now the not-great-quality wood is dented and paint worn off in some places - and then I took it off the next day because I couldn't tuck sheets around it anywhere. So! Annoying! Yesterday I ordered a cheap-yet-super-high-rated mattress (with a shorter length! did you know full size mattresses can be different sizes? does this make sense? no! it does not!) and it should get here tomorrow. In the meantime, there is no cutely made up bed in the girls' new room, nor is there any other furniture moved in on account of not having anywhere to put the OTHER mattress OMG THIS PROJECT. 

I am hoping that we can do most of the rest of the work this weekend. Each day this week I've been moving and sorting things from Emma's closet upstairs and the huge walk in closet in the new bedroom, where we've stored things like computer cables and Phillip's musical instruments and all my party stuff (not the Christmas stuff - that has its OWN storage closet) and old journals and out of season coats and UGH, so much stuff. Moving a lot of that upstairs or into Goodwill piles, and all of Emma's things downstairs or into Goodwill piles. Yesterday I took an entire back-of-my-van-full of baby things to Goodwill. It was actually pretty hard. I finally got to the point where I could say: it is better for a family who NEEDS these things to have them, rather than me hoarding them for the slight possibility we have another baby OR foster a baby OR adopt a baby, right? WHO KNOWS ABOUT THOSE THINGS. But for SURE another family could use our double stroller during the time it is gathering cobwebs in my garage. If I ever need a double stroller again (PLEASE GOD NO) I have the resources to buy or borrow one myself. STOP HOARDING STUFF, ME. 

So Emma's room is currently a giant mess of empty Rubbermaid tubs (bye bye baby girl clothes, SOB) and stuff that is too heavy for me to move by myself. The downstairs room is a giant mess of one massive bunk bed frame, one delinquent mattress, and heaps of things that need to be moved elsewhere, but can't quite yet because their future places are not cleared out. Did I mention I have houseguests next weekend? THIS HAS TO GET DONE ASAP. 

In the meantime I have conned my mother into making curtains out of the elephant fabric - she's going to add some solid navy fabric to the tops and bottoms to make them long enough. I'm eyeing the white and navy polka dot duvet covers from Garnet Hill, though I'm not totally convinced, also $$$ (at least, it's $$$ when I already have things I can use at home.) There are a lot of accessory things I want to buy, but I'm telling myself not to, not just because I shouldn't spend the money, but because I have a habit of buying house things in advance of actually being able to use them, and then changing my mind once I have everything ready. (I bought some canvas prints at Ross a few months ago in anticipation of the New Girl Room, but now they are sort of the wrong pink. WE CAN'T HAVE THE WRONG PINK!) 

How are those kids doing anyway?!

They are great! I want to say that we've had the sort of perfect lazy weeks you're supposed to have during summer, except that I hate lazy weeks and I'm mega anxious and I'm constantly feeling rotten about all the sitting around and MInecraft playing. That said, Jack did an entire week of soccer camp, Molly and Emma got a spectacular grandparent weekend to themselves, we've done the spray park and the science museum and crafts and puzzles and making houses out of cardboard freezer boxes and yesterday we spent absolutely forever at our friends' house with the backyard trampoline. We are reading a lot of boxes and grudgingly liking it, we are watching movies while we eat pizza dinners, we are picking out our own horrifically hideous backpacks at Target and talking excitedly about when school starts. SO YOU KNOW, it's summer and we go to bed too late and everyone is filthy and FINE THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS. 

And don't you have a baking business? 

I do! Right! Things have been, for me, mercifully slow this month. This is, of course, not good for the business, but I do feel like I've gotten my breath back from July and now when I think about the big food and gift show in September I don't want to dig a hole and hide. Katie's husband is in the catering business and his new employer wants samples, so that's good, right? (They tried some of Katie's brownies a while back and HECK YEAH those brownies are FUDGY NIRVANA. They have requested more, and different. We'll see what happens.) Also we're doing an open house tasting thing for a catering company where a former rec league volleyball teammate of mine happens to work. They're big on brides so that may get us some possibilities too. For that one I think we're going to do a spread of tiny desserts instead of Wedding Cake. I feel like there are a lot of Wedding Cake people in town and we can CERTAINLY do wedding cakes, but we can ALSO make a gajillion teeny little super cute tarts and treats and favor boxes. So. And then the food and gift show, which has me a little confused. I am just not sure who our customer is. It's NOT a holiday show - end of September, too early - but we sell PERISHABLE COOKIES and who is going to be buying a box of fancy cookies at a food and gift show (for which you must pay admission!) in late September?! Usually Katie is the one who can't believe people are buying/paying for what we're selling, but this time it's me. I think I need to sit down with a catalog of Fancy Gift Boxes to get some inspiration. (For this show we'll be selling three or four different sizes of cookie assortment boxes - I think a 3 dozen, a 2 dozen, and a mini box with just one type of treat inside... but how it should look, what to display, etc., I'm not sure.) 

So school starts in...

TWO ETERNALLY LONG WEEKS, PRAY I MAKE IT THAT FAR.


Room Update (snore) + Recently Improved Parenting

I'm done painting YAAAAAYYYYY MUPPET ARMS!!! Painting is not the WORST thing in the world, but halfway through all the cutting in it starts to FEEL like the worst thing. But anyway, thanks for the Barely Pink recommendations - I went to Home Depot, asked for 2 gallons, and you were right, it is PERFECT. I wouldn't have picked it out at the store, but it's the perfect color on the wall. That room already feels so different. I don't think the previous paint color ITSELF was super ugly, but in that room? SO dreary and BLAH. The pink has brightened and livened it up a little. The bed should get here on Monday and I CANNOT WAIT. 

I cannot wait so much that I dragged Molly's pink and white desk into the room, taped up my beloved elephant fabric (from my super botched Homemade Roman Shades project), and then decided that the kids should all camp out in there tonight because I PAINTED THIS ROOM GOLDARNIT IT MUST BE APPRECIATED! 

The challenge is: decorate this room without spending any! money! (gaaaahhhh) This shall prove to be difficult since I've decided I need to throw some navy blue in there, to de-sweet-ify the pink, and then per Twitter, maybe some GOLD? Or some MINT? Things I already have: a two-toned pink rug, a pink and white Eiffel tower lamp, a giant hot pink 'E'... My mom is going to salvage my elephant fabric for curtains, adding some material to the top and bottom to make the panels long enough. Plus I have a white dresser and a white bookshelf and a white doll bed (which my mother's godfather built for her when she was little AWWWW) that we will fill with EJ's nine hundred stuffed animals. Yes, I definitely need some navy/gold/mint. I forsee a lot more standing around and surveying the room landscape in the next couple weeks. 

And you guys, I haven't even STARTED planning Emma's old room, the new guest room slash Room Of Bakery Storage And Staging aaaiiieeeee!!!

Even though I've been painting and I'm anxious and it was Cookie Weekend I'm not totally All There right now, I've been trying hard to spend time with the kids, especially the big kids. We're managing to do a Fairly Fun Thing each morning, but the afternoons are shot. Emma still sleeps for hours so we can't go anywhere and I don't want the big kids being loud or bothering Emma, so they end up playing a lot of Minecraft and I end up reading a lot of Twitter and watching cable news. I don't think any of those pursuits are particularly GOOD for us, but the kids are 1) quiet and 2) happy and I'm grateful for time to myself during these days when we are together 24/7. Then I end up making something boring and easy for dinner (this is what the kids prefer, at least) and Phillip gets home at 6 or sometimes later and then it's bedtime... I spent a lot of July feeling like I was totally ignoring my family, mainly to get bakery stuff done. I haven't figured out a schedule for myself (there IS no schedule with the bakery) and my tendency is to work work work work work work until the task is finished - no breaks, no wondering if I should take 2 days instead of 1... that kind of thing. 

So I guess I'm trying to make up for that now? We've done the summer dollar movies twice (Rise of the Guardians and Turbo - thumbs up from my crowd for both), we got a membership at the science center so we did that this morning. A big crafty project at the library, just GOING to the library which is getting to be more and more enjoyable (for me, at least). And I've been trying to find a Big Book to read to them at night. A year or so ago I tried Harry Potter, but my kids hate anything scary and they didn't GET Harry Potter and now they say they don't LIKE Harry Potter, so I wonder if I basically ruined Harry Potter for them. I tried Beverly Cleary, one time I tried the Best Christmas Pageant Ever - they don't like anything. I totally feel like I've failed in the Raising Children Who Love To Read department HOWEVER! The other night I thought I'd try The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe. WHICH I DO NOT LIKE. I did not like the Narnia books as a kid and fantasy books, in general, are not my thing. Lord of the Rings - snore. SORRY. I just... not my thing! But I know that MOST PEOPLE DO like the Narnia books and MAYBE JUST MAYBE my kids might like them? So I started reading the first one and GUESS WHAT THEY LIKE IT. I am shocked. Mostly because they haven't liked anything I've read to them so I wasn't expecting that to change. But they BOTH like it and they BOTH want to keep reading when I say it's time to go to bed and THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. 

Also the fact that I am reading a significant amount of story to them each night - that makes me happy. The big morning things we manage to do, the reading at night, the puzzle I helped them put together yesterday, hopefully all of these things are making up for my complete disregard for them during July and also all the Minecraft. 

I just tell myself that if my kids are super awesome at Minecraft it's more likely they'll major in something Useful in college and get decent jobs. As opposed to English majors such as myself, a degree which is last on the List Of Lucrative Degrees. 

Or maybe they'll take over a family bakery business MWAH HA HA oh man I'm tired. LATER INTERNET.

 

 

 


No one should care this much about bedroom rearranging

The Bedroom Indecision of 2014 has CONCLUDED. Boom! Feels good. After many minutes standing in the middle of the room hemming and hawing, saying, "What do YOU think, Emma?", and emergency-texting Emily who knows about these things, I finally decided on what to do about beds. The arrangement is as follows:

JACK'S ROOM: He will keep his overpriced twin bunk beds. Maybe one day we'll get him a full size loft and put a teenager-worthy desk setup underneath, but for now the seven-year-old has a COUCH in his room, HE IS FINE. 

MOLLY & EMMA'S NEW ROOM: I just placed an order for a spiffy white twin-over-full bunk bed from Walmart. It will be delivered to my house by Monday for FIVE DOLLARS. I measured and taped out lines on the bedroom floor to see how the Ikea daybed-that-pulls-into-a-King-bed AND another twin bed would work in that room. And while there were two arrangements that would WORK, both would require one of my kids sleeping against the wall of windows in that room - maybe not the most terrible thing, but the windows are BIG and one of them is a DOOR, and this just bugs me, perhaps irrationally, whatever. Also, even though that room is BIG, two twin beds were going to eat up a lot of space and I haaaaaate giving up space. I could have put Jack's bunk beds in there, but leaving the full (which the sellers left when we bought the house - WIN) would mean I could still use it as a guest room. Also, the twin-over-full bunk was cheaper than the daybed/trundle I wanted to buy when we factored in having to ALSO buy new mattresses.

NEW GUEST ROOM UPSTAIRS: No bed for now. Eventually I WILL want to buy the Ikea daybed so we can use it as a guest room, and since that room is the smallest, it makes sense to put a daybed/trundle in there instead of a bigger bed. I will probably need every inch for bakery stuff! 

So now there are NEW THINGS TO CONSIDER, those being: we have our regular guests coming to stay at the end of August. I'd planned to give them the option of staying up or downstairs (privacy vs. not so much), but now they'll just stay in the girls' new bunk since we won't have anything else. OH WELL! I am shockingly fine with this. I am embarrassed by how much I care about what my [infrequent!] guests think, so I'm feeling proud about feeling fine this time! ALSO THEY TOTALLY DON'T CARE. I could probably put these people on an air mattress in the living room and give them a timetable for when they're allowed to use the bathroom and they would be fiiiiiine. Best guests ever. All the more reason to leave chocolates on their pillows. (Oh, and I won't need to figure out what to do with the girls since they'll be with grandparents that weekend. Excellent plan.) 

The other thing is that the two sets of girly matching twin bedding - that I've been SAVING! - suddenly won't do! OH DARN. A stronger more well balanced person would just put one set on the twin bed and use the bedding I already have for the full bunk but NOOOOO THEY NEED TO MATCH OR AT LEAST COLOR COORDINATE AM I RIGHT?! I will probably have to sit on this for a while as we have A Budget, but that just means more time to fill up a Pinterest board. 

One other thing might be that Molly would sleep on the top bunk and Emma would be swimming in a full. The part of me that wants everything to be as it should be for all time is annoyed by that, but this weekend the girls stayed with my parents and I learned they slept in the same bed because they WANTED TO and I am CHARMED by this development and now envision them sharing the full bed and having lots of good sister time. Until Molly comes to her senses and climbs into the top bunk. 

In other news I bought three pale pink paint samples this afternoon and all of them are terrible. One is too dark, one is too PINK, and one is basically white. I actually really like the pink one, but Phillip and I looked at it and we both had the same reaction - in that room, with all of that wall space, that is a LOT of pink. I'm going back for a pink in between the PINK and the basically white. The new bunk bed is white and most of their furniture is white with hot pink accents... BUT I LIKE PINK, OKAY. So do my girls. If you can't have a pink room when you're practically 6 and 3 years old, when can you?! 

BORINGEST POST EVER I'M SORRY JEEZ. Did you want to know about MIss Julie? Miss Julie was a beautiful wonder floating on a cloud made of spun sugar, around whom we all hovered worshipfully. Also, Miss Julie drives an aqua Mini Cooper. I MEAN COME ON. THAT CAN'T EVEN BE REAL. 

It was a lovely morning and then, out of nowhere, my body cranked back into Super Anxious Mode and I'm back to being upset about it. No bakery stress, no hormones, nothing on my calendar, no relationship strife, nothing! Being mad is not helpful, but I am, which is all the worse because there is no one to be mad AT. 

Tomorrow we're going to the summer dollar movie at 10am and then they've all decided they want to watch me paint. Should be an exciting day, don't you think? Three more weeks until school starts and I sincerely hope we make it that far. 


I wrote so so much about rearranging rooms aka Boringest Post Ever

You guys, what follows is a 9 thousand word treatise on rearranging bedrooms. I'm so sorry. You can just stop here, really, I think you should. 

 

With gritted teeth, clenched fists, and deliberately steady monotone voices, Phillip and I have agreed on a Kid & Guest Bedroom Situation for this wackjob of a house. OMG I NEED A DRINK. 

Let's refresh, shall we?! There are two big bedrooms, a bathroom, and a playroom downstairs. Upstairs we have a master bedroom, a bathroom (with doors at either end into the hallway and the bedroom, WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA) and a smaller bedroom which is currently EJ's. The big kids share the slightly smaller of the two bedrooms downstairs. The other downstairs bedroom, with a door to the bathroom, was the office/guest room and is now just the guest room. Got all that?

So the GRAND MASTER PLAN is to have all the kids downstairs and turn the playroom into a loungey TV space. If I get them their own mini fridge they will never even have to come upstairs and I think when they are teenagers this will make us all quite happy. This is a FANTASTIC house for a family with teenagers. 

But not so much a family with Small Children. Like now. And ever since we moved here I've been plotting what the next bedroom arrangement should be and when we should do it. The plan has always been to move Emma and Molly into the other room downstairs, the biggest one with the ginormous closet and access to the bathroom, it's just been a matter of when. Will EJ ever stop singing for hours in the middle of the night? WHO KNOWS. 

This whole thing has been complicated for me, though, by the Guest Room Situation. A complication which - I'm just going to say it so none of you have to say it the comments - IS KIND OF DUMB. We have serious multiple-night houseguests MAAAYBE three times a year. It's not like we have family coming to visit on a regular basis or anything like that where people have a sort of designated "this is Grandma and Grandpa's room when they visit!" room. Nothing like that. So I agree with you: KIND OF DUMB to worry about it. 

The thing is though, I PRAYED for a big house, people. Not because I was going to have fifteen children (you HAVE met Phillip Cheung, yes?) but because I wanted to be able to offer space to whoever needed space. I wanted to be able to house whoever needs a house, whenever it happens. This is important to me! I know it's not rational! I know it complicates things! But I GOT the big house. A weird wackjob of a house, but a big house with lots of space and we have extra beds and air mattresses and tons of sheets and DO YOU NEED A PLACE TO STAY TONIGHT I HAVE ONE. 

So! You are saying. Move Molly and Emma downstairs, you still have EJ's vacated bedroom UPstairs! Guest room! Problem solved! Especially because Phillip suggested we create our office space off the kitchen instead of in EJ's room. 

Okay, so the thing about THAT is that I think that room would not be COMFORTABLE for guests. And I KNOW I KNOW, this is where the "KIND OF DUMB" really kicks in. Also a bit of "must be nice for you to pick and choose where your guest room is!" So yes, I get it, this entire post is obnoxious. 

But let me continue to be obnoxious. The reason I'm not excited about an upstairs guest room is not just because it's smaller, but because it's not as private - it's right off the living room - and the bathroom is NOT ideal. The bathroom upstairs is the bathroom everyone uses. It also opens into my room. We'd all have to share and cooperate and be way more aware of each other's personal hygiene. Even when our money tree finally starts producing and we're able to remodel the bathroom the way we want, the guest space will still be fairly public and also tiny. 

Not ideal, but still workable. But we've had this giant bedroom with a bathroom available the whole time we've lived here, and multiple families have been able to camp out in that space and scrub all their children in the big bathroom down there and lay out all their gear and it makes me SAD that we would be taking that away. Even though it's not a regular occurrence. SAD. 

Lately Jack has been wanting his privacy and we've been talking about having your own room and Molly getting a GIRL room and I've been plotting. Plotting plotting plotting. What to do, what to do, and getting frustrated with Phillip every time I come up with an idea because he shoots it down and offers no solution and BLARGH. I was just about ready to buy a trundle bed setup on Craigslist for the playroom (Molly and EJ in the playroom! TWO empty spaces to work with!) but Phillip was NOT cool with that. "It's not a ROOM!" So. Here is my new idea and the best we've got so far: 

We ARE going to move the two girls into the big bedroom downstairs. I'm going to paint it pink. It's going to be a GIRL ROOM. Jack will keep his bunk beds. We have an extra twin bed in that room already, but we're also going to get the Brimnes twin trundle bed from Ikea. This turns into a huge bed when you pull out the trundle. Do you see where I'm going with this? We'll put their dresser in the enormous walk in closet. We'll probably move Molly's desk in, and maybe EJ's current toddler bed - it can be where her frillion stuffed animals live. (Jack and Molly care naught for stuffed animals and dolls, but EJ has a stuffed animal in both arms at all times.) The current guest bed - a full bed left by the previous owners - we'll move upstairs into EJ's room. 

SO THEN. We have a guest room upstairs. With a full bed and an Ikea wardrobe, maybe Phillip's old desk, and a closet full of bakery supplies and computer junk. I am very excited about this room. And when an internet friend comes to stay HINT HINT, she'll have a pretty, grown up room to herself and can use whichever bathroom she wants. 

But when our Montana friends come, for example, with their ten tons of gear and three darling children, we can move Molly and Emma upstairs (or into Jack's room, or into the playroom), we can pull out the new Ikea daybed, move some toys into the closet or the playroom, and they can have that space to themselves. Put one of the kids to sleep in the extra bed, hose the kids down in the bathroom, be near the playroom and Jack's room where the other kids will be camping out. 

I feel like... there are OPTIONS. I feel GOOD about this. As I type it out it sounds nuts that we didn't just decide this in the first place - I think I was invested in having a dedicated guest room, or making sure Molly and Emma wouldn't have to give up their space, or that the guest room wouldn't also be a place where kids wanted to play. But we can have that upstairs when it works, and then an option downstairs when it doesn't. And both spaces will work for US in the meantime - kid room, and bakery headquarters. Also! Phillip didn't make a frowny disapproving face when I suggested it! I AM SO FREAKING RELIEVED YOU HAVE NO IDEA.


In which my various neuroses are still getting the better of me

A few weeks ago we bought two Ikea table tops, two sets of drawers and a cabinet and made ourselves a joint office space in the back of the Random Kitchen Area that we now call The Office. It's fab. I love it. The best part is sitting at our respective places late at night, Phillip showing me YouTube clips, me reading bits of Twitter. Shut up, you're just jealous. 

But in moving Phillip's office from the big downstairs room to the Random Kitchen Area, we left a lot of stuff we don't know what to do with in the old office. His old desk, heaps of papers, some computer junk. Most of the papers are moving upstairs after I spray paint our filing cabinet (moved upstairs, crammed into the exact right number of inches between the new desk and the wall. If the weather ever gets nice again I'm spray painting it a nice glossy white and topping it with some red storage boxes, oh be still my color coordinated organizational heart.) 

Now, though, we have a giant empty bedroom full of JUNK. Well... it's also the GUEST room. We occasionally have guests. The previous owners left a full size bed in that room and we never moved it, we just set up a twin size mattress and box spring right next to it. (Our most frequest guests have 3 kids and the littlest one stays in that room with them while the other two sleep in Jack and Molly's room on air mattresses.) There's a little nightstand and lamp and a bookcase full of stuff we don't know what to do with. It has a door to the downstairs bathroom and a ginormous closet. Seriously ginormous. It also has a door to the front yard with its own little deck. It's a great room and the grand plan is to move Molly and Emma in there, as soon as Emma doesn't need to sleep right next door to us. (Emma sleeps upstairs with us, Jack and Molly are downstairs. Weird house. I know.) 

BUT WHO KNOWS WHEN THAT WILL BE? I mean, we COULD do it now, but EJ is STILL doing her obnoxious singing-herself-to-sleep bit, often not falling asleep until ten or eleven, plus she gets random nosebleeds and still wears diapers. I am saying it is CONVENIENT to have her right next to me. 

That said, it is INCONVENIENT for my SANITY to have this giant yet useless and junk-filled and cluttered-up room in my house. It is STRESSFUL. I imagine I could just shut the door and ignore it. Or I could say, "Fine, play School in the empty bedroom and fill it with markers and tape and paper and I just won't go in there so I won't get upset about it!" But I think I am not a good enough person to do either of those options. Instead I sit here fuming because it is not a freshly painted and beautifully decorated little girls' room, that EJ's room is crammed full of stuff we don't want in the living room and a too-small toddler bed instead of the new guest room/bakery staging area, that Jack's room is still Jack and Molly's room instead of Jack's Big Boy All To Himself Room. I WANT EVERYTHING TO BE THE WAY IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE. 

I have several plans to make it so. One requires many pots of money. One requires NO pot of money, just a lot of elbow grease from my husband. The thing we don't really have is time. It will take time to make things look the way I want them to look and I don't HAVE ANY TIME AAAUGGHHH. Phillip keeps saying we'll revisit this whole mess in late July, after most of our big family stuff is over. But how am I supposed to not have a daily freakout over the Inefficient Use Of Space until then? DOES HE KNOW ME AT ALL?

 


Dirtball: A Pictorial

FIRST. The birthday boy.

Jack's Birthday 2014 009

Being shy at school.

Jack's Birthday 2014 018

Sir Jack

Jack's Birthday 2014 020

My mom MADE those felt "knight tunic" thingies. Plus, like, eight more. Anyone want to come over and play Medieval Times? Also, those party hats? I paid Top Dollar for those suckers and NO ONE WORE THEM. (Except Phillip. Phillip wore one all through the entire party. Only Phillip. Who is 35.5 years old.)

MY KIDS ARE FREAKING GINORMOUS AAAAUUUGGGHHHH

All right moving on. The last two days it's been 1) absolutely fabulous weather and 2) empty of bakery tasks. So! I've been working on the outsides of my house. Specifically: The Deck.

The TRUE outsides of my house, ie: the YARDS, fill me with panicked woe. They aren't huge, but they are bigger than anything I know how to handle, and both front and back yards are brimming over with giant overgrown plants that worry me. They COULD be beautiful, but I would have to learn how to MAKE them beautiful and I just haven't yet. Last year I dug out a giant space in the backyard to start a garden, but about two days after I planted all my seedlings, some horrible rotten animal came along and ATE THEM. At least, all the seedlings were TOTALLY GONE. It didn't matter anyway, because we decided to spend the kids' college money on rebuilding the deck and my "garden space" was turned into "the place where the deck guys cut all their boards". 

My plans for the yard, at this point, involve a lot of digging and a lot of spreading of wood chips. My friend's husband has turned HIS backyard into a veritable ORCHARD and I have solicited him for ideas. (They all involve wood chips. Sigh.) 

BUT THE DECK. 

Okay, so first I told Phillip to let the kids pick out plants for me for Mother's Day. So I started with a couple little vegetable plants and then these beauties:

Photo (16)

Please don't make me turn these right side up. I'm sorry. This shows you how much I care about my website these days. UNROTATED PICTURES OMGGGGGG

Can I keep a hydrangea in a pot?

But I spent most of my time setting up three containers with beans and snap peas against the deck wall (MY DECK HAS WALLS, I KNOW) and filling the rest of the container with flowers. I FEEL SO PINTERESTY.

Photo 5

No seriously, this is annoying. Why are they rotated correctly on my computer? And then not rotated correctly when I upload them. ANYWAY. There is a sideways planter. 

Here is a sideways upside down tomato plant.

Photo 4

That looks super weird. It does in real life too. That planter is $5 at Home Depot and I thought: Why not? We'll see if this little trick is worth it. 

Also, see that little black smudge on the white trim? That would be a caterpillar. I'm going to have to buy some sort of Bug Hellfire Spray for my deck. I am SO tired of all the ants and spiders and creepy crawlies everywhere I look. This is what I get for buying a house in the middle of nine thousand trees. 

Speaking of trees:

Photo 3

This one can BITE ME. I hate it hate it hate it. We have three large trees in our backyard. One is a pretty cypress. The other is a small evergreen. THIS one is a MASSIVE GODZILLA of a tree and it's one goal in life is to drop its @#)*%@(#%*@#(%&@ needles all over my deck. $2K to cut it down. (Another $2K to chop its evil twin in my front yard.) Maybe I should draft a Kickstarter? 

If you are wondering about the slide, the slide is fine. Maybe a little perturbed by the children who insist on climbing IT instead of the stairs to get to the deck, but hey, that is a slide's cross to bear. Building stairs off the deck continues to be a smashing idea, if also a painfully expensive one. When I get super mad at my gross tile countertops I blame the deck. Dang it, Deck! If it weren't for you I could have counters that don't have 25 years worth of grit and grime in its many grouty crevices! 

All right, I have to quit complaining. I'm quite excited about my deck! I have a friend coming over Thursday morning and I'm already planning the deck snacks and mimosas. 

NEWS REPORT: I am meeting with the Food Processor License Lady, the person who gets to decide whether or not I am legal, TOMORROW MORNING. I'm a little nervous because the coffee shop owner (whose space the inspector will be inspecting!) will not be there, and because she's not so hot with email, I'm not even sure if her employees will have a heads up! I really do think it will all be okay, and if there are any problems I'm expecting them to be small ones that can be figured out that day or this week. The licensing lady gave me absolutely no reason to think we wouldn't be approved that day, but still. It hasn't been my experience that anything in this process is easy and I would still appreciate some good thoughts sent my way. THANK YOOOOOOOU


Oh no not this again

I've been pretty disappointed with the new houses on the market this week. Or should I say LACK THEREOF. I was SO looking forward to post-holidays when people would start selling their houses again, but so far this week there's been all of two or three matching my requirements and they're all duds. Not like we're planning to move any time soon, and I am seriously happy to stay in our rental another year or two, but I have an OBSESSION and it is called REDFIN. I am not happy when there is NOTHING TO CLICK ON. 

And then sometime today I landed on a new listing and I immediately emailed it to Phillip with the subject line: "if we want to live in Suburb Town, this is the house." And it is. It is the right size, the right condition, the right location (for Suburb Town) and, most importantly, the right price. The price is so right that we think something might be wrong with it. 

What I did NOT expect was for my husband to get all excited and want to call the realtor to go see it this weekend. GAK.

And then tonight I had coffee with a friend who lives in Suburb Town and she was enthusiastically making the Case for Suburb Town and it was all sort of cute and maybe a little exciting and then on the way home I was all DUDE! NOT READY FOR THIS. 

Because even though I've been thinking about (and writing about, I am very sorry) City vs. Suburb for what feels like years on end, I still can't decide. I don't want to call a realtor because I can't even narrow down what I want. I don't want to move to Suburb Town, not just because I like the city, but because of all the CHANGES. New preschool, new doctors and dentists, new schools, a new church! That's HUGE. A new church would be so freaking huge. I don't want to think about that!

But we will never find a house of that size THAT WE CAN AFFORD in the city. That is that. 

One day I will have to make this decision. But I do not feel like making it this weekend. 

You are saying: you're just LOOKING! You're investigating! You're checking it out! You are not MARRYING THE HOUSE! 

And I am saying: HAVE YOU MET ME?!

Ugh. You know this is all because the price is right. Otherwise I wouldn't even mention it. 

AAAAANYWAY. Total subject change: my children are loud. Like, LOOOOOOUDDDD. And it is making me crazy. Jack's always had a bit of loud in him, but now he's shouting all the time and Molly, his second in command, Batmangirl to his Batman Jack, his peon, his minion, his number one fan, his mini-me, must be loud as well. IF NOT LOUDER. I cannot stand sitting with them while they eat. Shout shout shout! And then I have to shout to tell them to stop shouting and then they think I'm playing along and OH DEAR GOD IS IT NAP TIME YET? The last couple days Phillip has come home to find me with my hands over my ears, forehead resting on the kitchen table. I don't know what I'm going to do next week when he's gone. Buy earplugs I guess. 

Wait, I'm not finished. It's not just shouting, it's being shouted AT. I've always been shouted at, but it used to be the exception, not the, you know, normal way to get my attention. I can be standing right next to them and I'm STILL shouted at for milk. I swear, every other sentence out of my mouth is, "How do you ask me for that!" And of course I have to shout it, otherwise they don't pay attention. I am SO outnumbered. 

I REALLY want some chocolate, but instead I'm going to go upstairs and eat one of those awful "healthy" cookies I tried out of the Weight Watchers cookbook today. LAME.


Besides, we can't live TOO far away from the acceptable Chinese restaurants

This morning we met some friends at Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is, for you out-of-towners, also the EMP and the Science Center and the Children's Museum and a whole bunch of theaters and a really not so impressive amusement park). I left around 9:45 in the morning and it took me about fifteen minutes - from the time I left my house to when I beautifully parallel parked the car - to get there. And we were late anyway, because we had to walk from the parking spot to the museum and Molly's average speed is something like Tortoise, but hey, fifteen minutes. Not bad. 

TONIGHT. Tonight we had to pick up Phillip at his office and then meet his parents and some of their friends for dinner downtown. To get to Phillip's office I ideally take the exact same route as I did this morning, with an earlier turn off and a few more city blocks. It should take fifteen minutes-ish. But I did, of course, leave at 5pm, the height of rush hour, but that's WHY I left at 5. Because dinner was at 6. 

I did not drive up to Phillip's office until 5:55. FIVE FIFTY FIVE. With kids who hadn't eaten dinner to boot. What was I thinking?! It was gory out, all rainy and dark and I knew I was in for it thirty seconds after leaving the house, which was when I encountered my first stretch of traffic. I usually get at LEAST a few more red lights out of the way before I hit a backup. Not tonight. 

Usually it's the kiss of pleasant children death if Jack happens to fall asleep in the car in the late afternoon, which of course he promptly did. But at least I didn't have to listen to his whining, so that was a win. And Molly kept listing all things she wanted to eat - yogurt, grapes, toast - until I realized she was getting all these ideas from the Wiggles song we were listening to ("Fruit salad! Mashed potatoes!") so I turned that off and handed her my phone. Insta-happy. 

But still. Nearly an hour. While I waited in a left hand turn lane to take The Back Way, I thought about all the possible ways a North Seattleite can drive downtown. You must take a bridge. Montlake, University, Ship Canal, Fremont, Ballard... am I missing any? I thought about how I knew exactly how to get to all of those bridges, how I figured out which would be the best one for me to take. I thought about how large and intimidating and confusing this city was when I moved here, and how NOT intimidating it is now. Even this morning, when I missed the freeway ramp to go home because I was stuck in the wrong lane, I just powered up a few hills and found The REALLY Back Way. I am totally from here. 

I sat in the merge lane to get on the bridge and I thought about how everyone complains about the traffic, but because I'm a stay at home mom and most of the time the places I want to go are against commuter traffic, it hardly affects me. I couldn't remember the last time I was really stuck in something like this. So I also had time to think about how often I sit with the laptop examining floor plans of giant houses in Bothell and Woodinville and Kirkland. Ginormous brand new houses that I'd LOVE to live in, that are cheaper than the ancient tiny house for sale on my busy street. I look at those floor plans and imagine where the furniture would go, and what we could do with the money we might save.

But tonight I felt sort of sad. Because, and I don't know if this will really make sense - I KNEW WHERE TO GO. I knew exactly what I was going to do to bypass the traffic. It was a route I'd used a million times, but not really since we moved out of our first apartment in Lake City. It was so familiar, the whole AREA was just so familiar. And I just felt like... but I'm from here. I know this place. I should stay here

Honestly, I make it sound like Bothell is the far side of the moon or something. OBVS IT IS NOT. I am just feeling stubborn tonight. Like yes we ARE going to find a house we love near-ish our church and the school and at a price that won't make us faint. RIGHT?

Also, you have to give me a break, I sat in traffic FOR AN HOUR all the while freaking out about being late for FIL's Milestone Birthday Dinner. GAH. (Except - Cheung Family Trivia - the birthday milestone was actually three years ago. Technically tonight we celebrated his AMERICAN age. Oh made up dates on official immigration documents! You make for lovely parties!)

P.S. Molly is in her bedroom singing at the top of her lungs (at 9:22 pm): "LO MAI GAI! LO MAI GAI! LO MAI GAI!" Somewhere, a certain Chinese man is driving home from his milestone birthday dinner and wondering why his heart is growing all warm and fuzzy.