The empty space in the room

I had a fluoroscopy today, which is basically a test where you don’t eat for a day, then you chug cement, then you get x-rays taken every 15 minutes over the course of several hours, then they use a strange paddle to smoosh your insides around to take even better pictures, and just when you think you’re going to puke, they tell you it’s time to go.  I’ve got several more tests like these in the next few weeks (all the things that end in SCOPY!) — all of which require fasting and cement mixtures and some of which add in sedation for the trifecta win!  All trying to see might have caused the volvulus, and what has been going on since.  Do I know how to have fun?

But since I feel like an absolute slug right now, it’s a good time for another back blog post!

When we first moved into this house in 2013, we did a lot of updates/remodels — most notably, the kitchen, the bathrooms, the basement, and the guest house. After that initial burst of GETALLTHETHINGSDONE, major updates slowed down, in part because, yanno, kids, life, work, etc., but also in part because the things we didn’t do right away were more often than not the things we were undecided on.  Things like the fence — when we first moved in, we had expected to fence a much larger portion of yard until we realized our property lines were wider and more complicated than that, and the change in plans led to so much indecision.  But the fence for the yard and the gates for the deck turned out to be such a wonderful change that really enhanced our quality of life outside around the house.  And things like the stairwell and the loft — we puzzled over solutions for that for years before realizing what we wanted to do to update the space and make it safer and more usable (and I do owe this blog some proper photos of that transformation at some point).

And, most recently, things like the big empty gap between our kitchen and dining room that just existed.  As you will recall, our kitchen looked like this when we moved in:

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We remodeled the kitchen, but kept it on the same (more or less) footprint as the old kitchen, which meant that we still had one annoying problem: the empty space between the kitchen and the dining room that was just useless.  (Also, I forgot what it looked like to see the wood railing! Wow, I don’t miss that!)

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We tried different solutions for the space over the years — a rug, the kids’ play table, that little sideboard, but nothing felt right.  I had one (spectacular, if I do say so myself) idea for the space, which would have only required a major remodel of the kitchen and some plumbing here and there to move the laundry but for WHATEVER REASON, G vetoed that.  So, luckily there was a second idea in place that I sketched to G in concept and he ran with and built himself.  And it turned out to be one of the most fabulous changes we have made to the house!

He redid the bar top and extended it into a full counter over the empty space.  More seating (cough, when we buy more bar stools, thanks IKEA for discontinuing these), space for appetizers and platters when we have folks over for dinner and meals, and an area for everyone to gather and have snacks while I cook that isn’t actually IN the kitchen.

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And since we were IKEA-ing, and G likes to wrap all projects into one, we also replaced those awful laundry doors with beautiful glass sliding doors.  And by “we,” I mean G. This was all his project.

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This and That

Work has been busy and we’ve got a big week ahead of us, so we took an opportunity to enjoy the weekend with some downtime.  On Friday, we joined Nell and Guy’s teachers and other parents for a big dinner event while the kids hung out at daycare and played games and watched movies.  It was a fun night hanging out with our parent friends, and we won another week of daycare tuition in the parent competition, which I will never complain about!

On Saturday, we went out for breakfast and a couple errands, and then we just hung out and relaxed on a rainy day until dinnertime when our friends came over for the evening.  The kiddos had a blast and I think that, had they stayed all night, three of the four kiddos might have just stayed awake all night.  They were not interested in sleeping!

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We tried to be productive today.  We went through the garage and pulled out stuff to sell/get rid of before the holidays; G painted upstairs and did work in the house; and I got started on my PBK kitchen transformation.  First coat of white paint is on (including priming over the pink sections, which are going to be painted a different color), and it looks fantastic.  It looks like a new kitchen already, but I’ve got more to do!

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Away with the Boxes

We went to Lowe’s yesterday because we needed some stain and because we share an affinity for hardware stores full of promise on the weekend.

“Do you need to look at anything else?” G asked me before we checked out.

“Can we just look at the floor tile?” I asked.

So over we went, running our hands across the smooth tiles and imagining what life would look like with those tiles in place of the worn oak flooring that covers most of our main level.

“Can I redo the floors?” G asked me.

(It’s been on his mind for a while.)

“Not until you are ready to get rid of the hearth,” I said, “and for that matter, the window seats.”

While we weren’t currently ready to pull the trigger on the full project, the window seats seemed like something that just needed to be done. For more than two years, we’ve stared at them and wondered why they were there– as though the previous owners thought, “this room is too big,” and then created hollow, useless boxes to fill the space.

This is what they looked like when we first moved in.

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We painted around the space and added some new life to the cushions.DSC07291 [Desktop Resolution]But in the end, they were just space-wasters. And jungle gyms for the dogs and toddler.

20150221_100001So yesterday afternoon, we pried one end off the far box and peered inside — the big question was whether the wood floors ran all the way underneath the box or whether they stopped at the edges (as was our disappointing discovery when we removed the old kitchen island).

But we were in luck this time, and the flooring ran all the way to the wall (though, inexplicably, it had only been stained on one side and was completely unfinished on the other). Even better, there were three wall outlets hidden behind the seats, making us think these were the best planners ever, or the boxes really were an afterthought.

Maybe they really did think the room was too big?

At any rate, it took G only a couple of hours to get the boxes ripped out.  Then he tied off the electrical, spackled and painted the walls, and sanded and stained the floors to blend in.  With our new-found space, we were able to shift a few items over that had been hanging out in no man’s land between the kitchen and dining table, and now it’s perfect!

We should have done this years ago!

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CDing at the DC

I haven’t done a post on cloth diapers in ages. Since Nell was first starting out in them, actually. But I am still CDing strong, and actually appreciating it more this time around than the first time, so it seemed like an opportune time to post about it.  Especially since Guy was just showing off his fancy pink diapers in the last post.

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He has a lot of fancy pink diapers.

So this is going to be a deep-dive into cloth diapering and how it works for me.  If you don’t care about that, you can just scroll to look at pics of Guy.  I won’t be offended.

The main benefits to cloth diapers are that there are fewer disposable diapers filling up landfills and that their long-term costs are way below that of disposables.  (Unless you buy new designer diapers daily, of course.)  Since I can’t really say much about my impact on the environment except to say that I haven’t thrown a single one of my cloth diapers in the trash, I’ll stick to the second point.

When I started out CDing with Nellie, my stash included newborn diapers (including BumGenius XS, Kissaluvs Size 0, and Thirsties covers), and two all-size diapers (Fuzzibunz and BumGenius 4.0 with a few BumGenius Elementals thrown in).  I used a hanging wet bag system, cloth wipes, and Kissaluvs Diaper Potion.

I loved the newborn diapers.  I used them for my entire maternity leave with Nell, and about two weeks with Guy till he grew out of them.  The BGs I had purchased on Craigslist in basically new condition by someone who bought them and then never cloth diapered.  And then I sold them on Craigslist for exactly what I had paid.  I also sold the Kissaluvs and the Thirsties covers on Craigslist recently for about 60% of what I paid for them.

I didn’t love my hanging wet bag system.  I felt like there was stink, it got wet, it wasn’t easy to open one-handed, etc.  So this time around, I switched to a pail — the Ubbi pail, specifically — and liner.  I have identical systems at home and at daycare this time around, and I love them.  I use Planet Wise pail liners — I have three blue for daycare, and two gray for home that I rotate and wash with my diapers.  I already had the blue ones (I used those for Nell’s daycare, though with a far inferior trash can), so I just added the gray this time around.  As for all of my hanging wet bags that I am no longer using (including two large and two medium), I just sold them all on Craigslist for about 60% of what I paid for them in 2011.  I still have two small wet bags, but I keep those in my diaper bag and still use them regularly.

I still use all the same cloth wipes (Thirsties wipes) and just bought one extra pack of them off Amazon this time around.  And I still use the Kissaluvs diaper potion.  I have three spray bottles (home, diaper bag, daycare), plus two bottles of the undiluted potion, and haven’t had to buy any extra yet for Guy.

As for my main stash of diapers, I ended up preferring the BumGenius over Fuzzibunz for my workhorse diapers when I was using them with Nell.  As a diaper, I liked the Fuzzibunz better — they’re soft and trim and seem like they would be really comfortable.  But adjusting the elastics is extremely time-consuming, and they took me longer to stuff after washing because the inserts didn’t slide in as easily.  I used both with Nell until a point where all of the Fuzzis needed to be size-adjusted again, and I just didn’t do it… And so the BumGenius diapers became my go-to diapers.

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I used the Fuzzis with Guy for a little bit, but finally decided to just stick with one system to make my life easier.  So I sold them on Craigslist, the last of my CDing things that I no longer need.

And now it’s just me and the BGs.  I have 4.0s and Elementals.  I really don’t like the Elementals, though I do use them.  I don’t send them to daycare, but they are often his morning diaper that he wears to school.  In order to dry them, they can go in the dryer (bad for the shells), or they can hang to dry (which takes forever and causes the fabric inside to stiffen).  And either way, the inner layers no longer lay flat at all, and none of them are very bright white anymore.  So I very much prefer the 4.0s.  (Snaps only — they’re easy, kids can’t undo them, they don’t wear out, and the resale value is much better. Word on the street is that the velcro — or aplix — is being phased out anyway, so those diapers will really seem outdated.)

At this point I have about around 30 diapers (not entirely sure since I never have an entirely clean stash in front of me to count).  On Mondays, I send about 25 to school plus three wet bags and enough cloth wipes to last three days.  I use the rest at home for evenings and mornings.  Each night I bring home a bag of dirty diapers, and on Wednesday night, I wash all three daycare bags plus my home bag.  On Thursday morning, I stuff diapers and bring two days worth.  I do my second load of CD laundry on Friday nights and then do a third (small) load on Sunday night.

It’s easy and it’s routine now.

So as far as costs go?  They say the average kid goes through 7000 diapers at a cost of about $2000.  (That is $4000 for two kids!)  I can’t say my exact cost for Nell because we did use some disposables when she moved up to the 2 yr old room until she was potty trained.  That said, she used cloth diapers for more than a year and a half, a savings of at least $1500.  I bought most of my CDs on sale (buy five, get one free — that type of thing), but even assuming I paid full price for all 30, my BGs cost about $550, and I am using them all over again.  So that is $550 for two kids.  The savings for using cloth wipes are even greater.

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As tempted as I was to pick up some more boy-friendly colors before Guy was born, I never did — he is fine with pink, and I have enough other colors to show off in the summer if he goes out in just a onesie.  So I haven’t bought a single new cloth diaper for him.  And when he is done with them, I’ll sell them all on Craigslist.  I’ll probably get about $250 for the stash (plus more for all my bags, my wipes, and my pails).  And I’ve already recouped a huge percentage of my costs on the other items that I’ve sold.  In the end, my overall costs — from wipes to dipes to pails and liners — won’t be close to $4000, and that is the average normal cost for disposable diapers ALONE.

People ask whether cloth diapering is worth it?

It is, and honestly, I appreciate it so much more the second time around.  Not just because all of the costs have already been consumed, and I am just using free (pink) diapers.  But because I know what diapers I like, I have my systems down, and the whole thing is effortless.

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And I think Guy likes his diapers too, even if they do make some of his pants a little snug.

Visitors

Our guest house is empty again.  The papas and Rose left over the weekend after a whirlwind week of amazing food, spontaneous presents for Nell (and the dogs and the baby…), the beach, and more.

It’s hard to believe how quickly the time passed, but Nellie is enjoying looking at pictures this week.  “Papa!” she exclaims, when she sees the above photo of our last night on the beach.

And even though the tides and the jellyfish didn’t always cooperate, our last evening’s walk enjoyed the stillness of a quiet low-tide, split by soft, smooth sandbars.

Our visit wasn’t all fun and games, however; G and Papa Tom took on the major challenge of finishing the garage — buying, building, and stocking shelves; organizing tools; and separating our things into the sellables, the keepables, and everything in between.  We not only can get both our cars in now, but we have even have room for a guest’s car if, ahem, any guests want to return again soon.

The conclusion of the garage project (and I use ‘conclusion’ loosely) marks the end of our major projects for right now.  There are odds and ends here and there to wrap up, but as we approach our six month mark in our house on the Harbor, we’re looking ahead to the rest of the summer and the arrival of baby boy in the fall.  But both of those things — the house and the baby — are for another post.

In the meantime, here’s a very random shot of Nellie and two of her loves — mac ‘n cheese and Elmo.