Gone Coastal

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mama likes it!

Well, the renovation train chugs onward. The Bear has now insulated the attic space behind the bathroom & master bedroom. All the lathe and plaster (both walls and ceilings) in the bathroom has been pulled out and cleaned up. The old tub and sink hauled to the backyard, and the toilet sits on the back deck until it has a floor to go back to. All the walls and ceiling have been insulated and vapor barriers installed and sealed and aquaboard was installed on the ceiling (that was a tricky job!) and a section of the interior wall.
The old wood floors have all been pulled up, some gaps and weak spots in the subfloor properly repaired, and a layer of new plywood laid down overall as a solid base for new floors. The plumbers were in about a week ago to replace and repair the patchwork that was the waste system, and give the Bear a few pointers on the remaining work. And the Bear fashioned some steel reinforcements for the joists that had been hacked up by previous owners to accommodate some tight plumbing (ach...who needs stable floor structures, it's not like a bathtub is heavy or anything).
Much of the kitchen ceiling is now sealed up again, awaiting new drywall after the plumbing inspection. And least there are no more construction bits dropping down on the counters.
The Bear's biggest triumph was finding a way to fit all the required fittings for the tub into the very small space above the tub that was not an outside wall, without looking like a big mess. We dubbed the result the Seussaphone, for fairly obvious reasons.

On Friday, the big event was scheduled. (Well, actually, it was originally scheduled for Thursday, but the plumbers had to postpone.) Everything was ready for the plumbers to tie in Vince's work, pressure test, and bring in the tub. The tub is kind of the keystone for the bathroom, as it has to go in before the walls can be closed and the tiles laid. And the floor tiles need to go in before the toilet and vanity go in, and the walls closed and finished before the tub fixtures.
We knew already that it would be a tough task to fit the six foot tub in the six foot bathroom. I was eager to get home at the end of the day and hear how it went. This is what I saw when I came in the door and looked up the stairs.

The plumbers had arrived about 10. Sadly, after several hours of contortions and sweat as they tried to manouevre the tub into place, they brought it back down the stairs. And out came all the insulation, the vapor barrier, and the one section of drywall on the sidewall backing on to the stairs. And then out came the sawsall and a large section of the wall. And finally, the tub went back up the stairs, through the new 'entrance' and into place. It was three by the time the plumbers went home.

Twenty-four hours later, we drained the tub. And last night, after Tweetie was tucked in, Mama swept up the floor one more time and took the tub for a trial run.
Mmmmm. Nice and deep, long, and comfy. Mama likes it. The Bear likes it, too - he tested it, too. I'm sure Tweetie will like it, too, but she won't get to try it until the rest of the room's a bit more splash proof ;)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Smart Cookie

Our friend Tex over at the Maru likes to tell tales of the amazing perceptive and manipulative powers of his daughter, now three. I always enjoy reading these anecdotes, in part because Tex tells a great story, but also very much because I so often see parallels in our little Tweetie.
Tweetie's first night in her big bed went quite well. She slept through and I was there to help her up when she awoke this morning. We'd spent a good part of the morning grazing, as we continue to encourage her to eat lots and get some variety. I'd taken her out for a little stroll up and down the block, and it was apparent that naptime was fast approaching. The fuss factor was climbing rapidly. I'd made her a smoothie and gave her a sandwich before our walk; she finished the last bites as we wandered. Having a pretty good sense that she might still (or again) be hungry, I refilled her smoothie when we got home and grabbed a cookie for upstairs before naptime. The smoothie was gone like lightning. And then I offered her the cookie, which she apparently took in exchange for another display of her subtle cunning.
She knew naptime was coming, eventually. Somehow she picked up that I wasn't going to put her into her bed until she was done with the crumbly cookie. The first half of the cookie disappeared almost immediately, just like the smoothie. Then she munched away as she made her rounds around her newly arranged room furnishings. Having about a quarter of the cookie left in a crescent shape, she popped the remnant in her mouth. "All done? Good job!" I readied myself to clean her up and settle her into bed.
At which point she pushed the cookie around in her mouth for proper alignment, opened said mouth, bit the cookie remnant in half, and took half back out into her fingers. Over the next 10 or 15 minutes (remember the first part - three times the size - went down in about two), she proceeded to nibble very slowly at that remnant, taking ever smaller bites - pretty much half of what was left each time - and taking at least one lap around the room between each bite. She was always careful to make it clear there was still some cookie left in her little hand.
Finally the last crumb went in the mouth, which grew a rather smug smile. "Alright. Into bed with you." I herded her over to the open end of the bed, and gave her a chance to try climbing in on her own. A bit of a boost and she was on the bed. Sitting right beside the opening, toes still poking out, and making no motions toward a cozy dozing position. Not willing to start this game over again, I picked her up and settled her into the middle of the bed to great protest. I helped pull the bunched blankets out of the way and tucked her in. The protests died out quickly as she nodded off. I was right. She was in dire need of a nap. But she did put up a very calculated, and successful, resistance.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Room for two

I know it's now Easter Sunday, but as it often happens, there just wasn't the time and energy left on Friday to output the post that was in my head at the time.
Apart from the traditional reasons for celebrating Good Friday, this past Friday was very good for me for two more reasons. Firstly, I got to take a load off my mind. Through all the craziness of the past month or two, one thing in particular had been persistently nagging at me. We bought a new bed for Tweetie awhile back, must've been late January or early February. The intent was to transition Tweetie to sleeping in a bed well ahead of the arrival of her little brother Sylvester, (hmmm... the nicknames paint an amusing mental picture of the cat in the cage while the bird lounges in the open bed). As sickness and household upheaval ate up the weeks, I saw that transition window getting smaller and smaller.
And there was that basic logistical challenge of rearranging a nursery. As the working mother of a toddler, much of my time at home is taken up with her care and feeding and the things you can do in the next room or shot windows when she's otherwise occupied. The only guaranteed time when my hands are free to do some 'real work' is when she's sleeping. And moving the furniture around when she's in it wouldn't likely do much for either the length or quality of her naps.
This week was spring break, and daycare was closed, so I had arranged to have Tweetie stay on the mainland with my mom and sister for a few days so I could stay at work. And while a little more time than I had anticipated went to some necessary assistance with planning and working on the bathroom, by the time I went to bed Thursday night, I had half the old shelves with their contents disassembled and taken downstairs, the crib tucked in where the shelves had been, and the new bed assembled and in place. By the middle of the day on Friday, I was able to look around and say to myself, "It's ready." All the stuff had a place, hidden corners had been cleaned of spots and spills, and there was now room for two. Even some better space for playing in the middle of the room. I could put theoretically put Tweetie to bed in a place she could get out of on her own and not worry about her being in mortal danger from the things within reach. There'll be a little more sorting and shuffling to come, making room for two sets of clothes and toys, but it's one big stressor removed. A good Friday.
And with that all taken care of, I was free to look forward to the best part of the day - heading off to the mainland to get my Tweetie. The plan had been to do the foot passenger loop on the ferry and just meet my mom on the other side to avoid the cost of taking the car, but we opted to go a little later and stay the night, in order to spend an exciting (add an extra helping of sarcasm dripping off that last word as you read it) Saturday looking for plumbing fixtures so the plumber who's coming this week can install the tub for us.
It was great to see that Tweetie had continued to put on weight while she was away from her Mama, thanks to some grandparental spoiling by her Mor-mor and Auntie. I think I heard something about ice cream before bed every night. Apart from some crankiness that seems to accompany coming home to Mama and her rules, she's healthy and happy.
Of course, the successful rearrangement of the nursery opens the door for the next big thing - the transition to a bed. I'm happy to say that's going fairly well, so far. We got in rather late last night, so she slept in her crib last night. I thought it best to give her a chance to get used to the room a little first. But she played on her bed a bit this morning, and took her first nap in the big bed today. I wrote the first part of this post while waiting for her to wake up this afternoon. And as I wrap up, she's in her bed, though far from asleep. Being her first night, I'm hanging out in the room with her 'til I know she's fully asleep. (It might also have a little to do with the big comfy chair being in her room, and not fitting outside the door. The next stage, tucking her, leaving the room, but watching from just beyond her view, will be done in the much smaller director's chair). She's being fairly compliant with the rule of keeping her head down. I had to help her out with it, laying her down when she sat up or tried to crawl to the side of the bed, in the early going, but she's mostly keeping her head down and just rolling around at this point, and if she pokes her head up, it takes only a word or two to let her know I'm still watching, and she puts her head back down.
So perhaps we'll have another milestone covered soon, and I'll have yet one less thing to worry about, though no doubt I'll find something else.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Moving ahead

I figured I really ought to post an update to follow up on my last post.

I'll start with a few little things. Both vehicles came home in working order on Monday. The turbo on the car (times two) was fully covered under warranty, as was the blown seal on the truck. The bag I'd left on the bus was all in good order at Transit's lost and found on Sunday. The house appraisal which was done earlier in that crazy week - before the flood - came back at 20k above where we needed it to be. Which is, by the way, a completely new experience for me, as every appraisal we've ever had done for any house came back to exactly the number that was required to put things through, even if it was worth more. I'd truly come to believe their job was simply to validate the number you asked for, as opposed to coming up with a real appraisal.
Tweetie is not quite back to a hundred percent, but she's doing much better. I took her in on the Monday following the flood, as her cough seemed to only get worse and she wasn't sleeping or eating much. The doc found her ear was still a little irritated, and as I'd suspected by then, the cough had gotten into one of her lungs. Pneumonia. She was given a different antibiotic, and stayed at home for another full week. She responded well to the meds, coughing a little less and sleeping a little better each day. Her appetite took longer to come back, and I must say looking at her by the end of the week was heart-breaking. I estimate she lost close to a third of her body weight. She's been back at daycare this week, and between me and our daycare provider, we're working hard to fatten her up again ;) We've a ways to go, but it's starting to work.
I had a checkup myself on the Tuesday, and despite the deep coughing and related side effects, there were no signs of infection, and the doc said I was actually one of the healthiest moms to be on the days schedule. Obstetrically speaking, anyway. With a little help from the cough syrup at night, the cough has slowly diminished to an occasional tickle, and my sore muscles have recovered as much as they can in a woman nearly 7 months pregnant. Unfortunately Vince, who suffered just a couple of days with us at the start of the cold, has been hit a little harder this week, but I think it's starting to ease again a bit.

And then there's the house. Much has been happening on that front, due almost entirely to the Bear's efforts. We're still waiting on the details of what will be covered on the insurance, but we've been pushing ahead with some of the plumbing and other issues that were a little more visible (and accessible) with the tear down of the kitchen ceiling. I've taken some pictures along the way, but they'll have to wait for another post, as I'm already sitting in bed and the camera's elsewhere. The bear started by running new lines for hot and cold water to the upstairs bathroom, which soon led to replacing all the source lines in the house, as every time he looked he discovered more disasters that could have been. We now have manifolds for all the lines, so washing your hands in one bathroom won't result in burns to the person taking a shower in the other. The upstairs bathroom itself has been completely gutted. Totally. Past the all the plaster, much of the lathe, and down to the studs.
Which exposed a few other things, including a birds nest and three wasps nests, and a complete lack of insulation in the top floor.
We have a new tub on order, which the Bear will pick up on the mainland on Monday. Over the next day or so, he'll be ripping up the old floor up there and putting in a new subfloor to support tiles. We'll have a plumber come in to plumb the new vanity (which has actually been sitting in the basement for over a year). Once the tub's in place we can do the tile on the floor, and at least some of the work for the walls. We'll have to wait for the replacement window before the wall tiles can be finished. But it will be done right, and the biggest liability in the house will have become a feature.
The bear's task today was to pull the ceiling down in the kitchen below the unused attic space, and putting in proper insulation where there was previously none.
As I mentioned, we've yet to hear any specifics on how much the insurance will cover, but there are a few things that might turn out really nice. One big one is the floor on the main level, where the kitchen is. This is almost certainly the original floor, as evidenced by details like square nails holding the boards. There's not much left of it after ninety plus years. Certainly not enough to refinish. But nonetheless there was some damage sustained with all that water, from loosened nails, to deteriorated fill and softened, warped boards. But most of the main level is the same floor, and with so little floor left, the restoration folks also told us it would be very hard to make a transition between a replaced area and the rest. So there's a possibility we'll get new flooring for the whole floor.
One area of the kitchen cabinets was quite badly flooded, and there's some possibility of that being at least partly covered by insurance as well. A number of items from the basement will need to be replaced. Much of our camping gear, including a tent that had the bug screen torn by a friend's young dog the first time took it out, and some good sleeping bags that have spent far too much time stuff tightly in their travel sacks instead of airing out. Some computers were damaged that weren't currently running, but will have to be replaced with the closest equivalent current technology.
It's funny when I think about it. When you're in the middle of things like this you think the timing couldn't be worse. But if it had happened any sooner, we may not have been able to refinance. And I wouldn't have wanted it to happen any later, as my capacity to help the Bear with any of these jobs is only getting smaller as my due date looms larger. Even the fact that we were fighting illness had some benefit, as Tweetie was asleep a lot and I was home and able to step in here and there to help the Bear. It's been crazy, and that continues, but things do seem to be working out for the good overall.