Thursday, February 21, 2013

They Gleam

We had our floors refinished this week. This is huge. Huge huge huge. For one thing, when we scheduled the work with the floor guy, he said we’d be able to get back into the house on Thursday, so we made plans to repaint our living room on Thursday since Andrew serendipitously already had that day off. Today was Thursday. Do you know what we did today? We painted the living room! Because the floors were finished when he said they would be! It went perfectly smoothly! I’m still reeling a bit from the shock of it.

For another thing, I thought that refinishing the floors was at least a year or two away because of the expense and logisitics, but it was something that I dreamed about doing because our floors were terrible. No, they were terrible. No, no, you don’t have to be polite. They were TERRIBLE. Look:

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Dining room

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Living room

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Kids' room

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Our room

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Where they put down the can of popcorn ceiling stuff

When we bought the house at the peak of the market, we were young and stupid and thought, “Oh, we can fix that!” about a lot of things. And while we have, in fact, fixed quite a lot of things, it is taking a lot longer and requiring a lot more dollars than we ever imagined it would. And when we tore up the (disgusting) rugs in the upstairs apartment, we discovered that what appeared to be finished-if-damaged hardwood was actually only finished around the edges of the living and dining rooms, and the middle of these rooms was unfinished pine, because why bother finishing boards that are only going to be covered by a rug, sayeth early-20th-century builders. Later owners apparently sayeth the same about protecting the wood while painting and applying popcorn ceiling. What is the point, really, if you’re just going to put down wall-to-wall, right?

So. That is what we were dealing with. And it was fine, whatever. You get used to stuff. It was unpleasant, and it was hard to clean under the dresser in our bedroom where the popcorn ceiling detritus basically acted as Velcro to dust, and there were hug e gaps between the pine boards into which the children could insert quarters, and spilling anything wet on the unfinished part of the floor meant that that beverage was absorbed into the wood forever, but, honestly, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. First of all, despite how terrible the floors were once we tore up the rugs, they were better than the RUGS were, because, Lord, those rugs were nasty. There was a CRUNCHY spot in the bedroom. So, yes, I hated the floors, but floors are only a small part of life, you know?

But, man, I love our floors now.

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Dining room

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Living room

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Kids' room

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Our room

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Where they put down the can of popcorn ceiling stuff  

Thursday, February 14, 2013


We are having our floors refinished. This is major, folks. Really major. It came about when my father-in-law helped us take up the rug in what will be Jack’s room in the downstairs apartment – wait, let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

We own a two-family house that contains two two-bedroom apartments. We rented out the downstairs apartment until last year, but we have three children and two bedrooms and it was getting crowded. So we are taking over both apartments. Because our children are young, we can’t sleep on separate floors, since that would be sleeping in different apartments. So the plan was to convert the downstairs living room into our bedroom and put the kids in the downstairs bedrooms. Yes, it is going to be weird, but we will be used to it very soon, because people get used to things like this fast. And yes, in a traditional house the bedrooms are upstairs, but the upstairs kitchen is leaps and bounds better than the downstairs kitchen. So this way makes more sense.

We hired a guy to drywall and replace woodwork in the downstairs living room and we were all set to start moving in when, whoops! Turns out our entire house needed to be rewired or our insurance company would drop us! Ha ha ha! $6500 later, our contractor informed us that the main gas line in the house, which was original to the house, ran the entire length of the attic (so as to better feed the gas-chandeliers, you see) and was old and liable to snap at any moment. Ha ha ha! $1500 later, and our house is much, much less likely to burn down. So that’s good. But it also brought us to September or something, and left a lot of patched up holes in the walls. But! We soldier on.

We spent the winter thinking a lot about painting and choosing colors and actually doing some painting while also talking about rugs and floors and furniture layouts and so forth. This was all around regular living, and we are very slow renovators. Eventually, we painted all the rooms that MUST be painted before we move, and it was during this time that my FIL saw the state of the floor in what would be Jack’s room, and was horrified. Fair enough, because the floors in my house are, frankly, horrifying. I’m not talking “those cheap laminates are not to my taste,” here. I’m talking, “The living room and dining rooms have huge unfinished pine in the middle and the finished boards in all the rooms are all covered in stains and paint spatter and spackle and who knows what all.” In our room, for example, you can actually see where they put down the can when they were painting, because the spatter left a nice paint-can silhouette.  But we’ve been living with it like this for seven years because floors are such a pain and are expensive, and we had to do other things first. (Did you see our “before”kitchen?)

BUT THE TIME HAS COME. On Monday, a guy is coming to refinish all the floors except for the downstairs living and dining rooms because 1) they have wall-to-wall that we put in so they’re in decent shape and 2) we need those rooms to pile all our stuff into while he does the rest of the house. We will hopefully do those rooms in the summer when we go away, but we shall see.

I am so excited to have this done. The floors are truly terrible. And as a bonus, we are going to paint the upstairs living room which is long overdue, but which we have been putting off because moving the furniture out of that particular room is so daunting. So we will strike while the iron is hot; ie, while the furniture is out of the room for other reasons, at any rate.

I have a bunch more boring details that I am refraining from telling you, about how we chose the paint colors, and how we rushed out to buy paint before Sandy and before last weekend’s blizzard but then of course did not paint during either storm (I can’t remember why for Sandy, but we were a smidge busy with snow removal last weekend). (Oh, wait, now I should explain: We are going to paint the downstairs dining room the same beige as the upstairs living room. We can’t paint upstairs until after the floors because the furniture has to be out, but we thought we might try to paint downstairs.)

It’s happening agin. I’m becoming the person who talks endlessly about paint, rugs, floors, curtains, etc, etc, etc. And I’m on a Lenten Twitter fast, so you will get to hear ALLLLL about it in the upcoming weeks.

I will post some before and after pictures, but Andrew and his dad moved a bunch of stuff downstairs today, so I have to dig up some before pictures of the furnished upstairs apartment so you can see the nice new living room color.

And after we finish painting the two living rooms, the dining room, the main entry way, and the two bedrooms, we get to paint a kitchen, two bathrooms, another bedroom, and two apartment entryways.  And then break through a wall. But more on that later.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fine motor skills

Excuse me while I brag just a little, but Nora, who is three, made a Valentine for her teacher. First she cut along the line I drew for her to make a heart, which she glued onto red paper:

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Look at that cutting! I swear I did not help her at all, other than to offer encouragement when she initially failed to follow the curve.

Then, completely unprompted, she cut another heart out all on her own:

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Can you see the heart-like shape? She also wrote her own name, but that part was strongly prompted by me. Still, though, I think it's pretty good.

Jack's fine motor skills aren't too shabby either. Look at the Lego space shuttle he and his dad assembled:

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Not too shabby, I'd say.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Blizzard pictures

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The drifting amazed me.

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That rectangular area is the snow that was UNDER the car.

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That is Jack in the air, there.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It sounds like it's from a horror movie

For her preschool class's Christmas Grab, Nora got a musical jewelry box. It's the kind where you open the lid to make the music start, and there is a little ballerina who spins around. I remember my sister had a green one with a ballerina when we were kids, and I remember it fondly. My sister's played "Music Box Dancer," and we used to play with it all the time. I loved it.

Nora's plays "The Unicorn Song." (You know? "Green alligators and long-necked geese/ Humpy-backed camels and chimpanzees/ Cats and rats and elephants as sure as you're born/ But the loveliest of all was the unicorn") But while my sister's music box played a lovely, if tinkly, version of "Music Box Dancer," Nora's music box is juuuuuust a titch out of tune. Or even more than a titch. Really kind of a lot out of tune, actually. Hilariously, astoundingly, gloriously, out of tune. Also, the ballerina broke off immediately. Then the key for winding up the music broke off about twenty minutes later, but that was a blessing, really.

I tried to describe the degree of out-of-tuneness to Andrew when he got home that night, but he didn't really believe me. Sure, he nodded and smiled and said, "Yes, wow, sounds pretty bad," but all the while he was secretly thinking, "How bad can it possibly be?"

Well. Nora managed to jam the key back into the winding mechanism, so you can all bear witness to how bad it can be.

Pretty bad.

Music box from Maureen on Vimeo.