Sunday, November 29, 2009

THE most expensve paint job EVER

Apparently green is a tough color. I have had several green rooms over the years and have not had much trouble picking the color I liked.

This bathroom has been a nightmare - I realized about three shades of green in that it was likely due to the fact that there is not yet a light that works in the bathroom, so we are working off natural light from the solar tube and that just isn't cutting it. I have found a few colors I like, then I see them in the morning and hate them. The glass tiles are beautiful, but the iridescent finish is making it tough to find a complementary color. Here's the tile - OOOHHHHH so pretty!

Our contractor painted one green one day, another green the next day, and I have painted the room twice now with two different greens and done several swatches to test a few others. We bought 7 cans of paint. Yes seven. I think we will most certainly have another green room in our home soon... Thank goodness they are all no VOC - can you imagine the stink of 7 cans of regular paint???? I told Honey that I may open a green boutique (pipe dream, but a good one!) and paint all the shades of green in a mural all over the walls.

So here is one shade - I think it is a little too beachy - like the weird seafoam green that you could get on a Ford Taurus...

And here is the winner - well I think it is the winner - it is still drying. But honestly, it's the winner because I am just not going to paint another color again. I need to do one more coat and then touch up the ceiling and trim where I got green all over them...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dancing Queen

Since we got sidetracked by renovations, I neglected to fill in the gaps on the dance classes!

Well, Peanut had her first class last week - she woke up on Tuesday talking about her dance clothes and shoes ("my shiny pink top, my tights and my ballet shoes!" and going to dance class. It was all I could do to keep her occupied for a few hours before we had to go! In the car, we listened to "ballet music" aka classical music to get in the proper mood for dancing. Oh who am I kidding - that is the only music she wants to listen to at all this past week!

I walked her to the door after we met her teachers and she went in all by herself. I could see her through the little window, and after about 10 minutes of just standing still and eyeing herself in the morror, she did actually begin to follow along. The girls were really cute practicing their stretches and tumbles and following the leader. They joined in with the younger class (that's right - there is a younger class - 18 months and up!) to do parachute games and some fun songs. She was beaming when she came out of class. I'm so happy that she enjoyed herself!

She has been talking about dance class all week. She tells me "you sit outside and only I go in". So I had thought it might be difficult, having her go in to her first class on her own, but she was a pro - I think she might even be upset with me if I dare enter the classroom. My little miss independence. Peanut has been dancing more this week too. She has even had her full dance outfit on a few times to twirl, but she makes sure to let me know that her ballet shoes are "only for the class mommy". Sorry these photos are not great - it's hard to take pictures through the little window!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Zen like spa bathroom...or not

I am a do it yourself kind of girl. I have a really hard time sitting back and letting someone else do something that I know is going to be screwy. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I can be controlling, but I try so hard not to be. Sometimes, I err so much on the side of caution that I could just kick myself for not being more controlling.

Once again, our tile is screwed up. This bathroom that seems like it will never be completed is causing me heartache and pain. We are still waiting for the rest of the tile mosaic to replace the mosaic that got trashed in the last debacle, but meanwhile the rest of the tile has gone up and looked good. So yesterday, the grout went down. I should have known something was amiss when the tile guy had to get a second bag of grout to finish the shower floor. A 25 lb bag of grout should have handily covered the shower walls, floor, and the rest of the bathroom floor. At 6pm, I discovered that he needed more grout because he had grouted the river rock shower floor so it was all level.

That is right - river rock covered in grout to the point that you couldn't really even see it. The point of having a rock floor is so you can have a zen spa like shower experience. You want to feel the rocks beneath your feet. We even had the rock in our house for a few weeks before deciding to use it to be sure we were OK with the bumpy feel. So he made us a grout shower floor like you see in a really old grubby locker room shower.

Well, he stayed and removed some grout. Then he removed some more. Then at around 8pm, he went home. This morning I looked and while you can see some rocks, there is still way too much grout and when you stand on it you can't feel any rocks. So what's the point? Why did I pick out this great rock floor if it is just like regular tile? Oh boy. There was a grout haze still on all the tiles too, which I know is a bad idea because I have made the mistake of letting it sit too long myself. We have a perm ant haze in our hall bath, and there was no way I was letting that happen again here - I washed the shower walls and bathroom floor this morning before honey left for work and they look much better. So this morning I called to talk to the "boss" and they will fix it....of course they will. But honestly that is not the point. The point is that I am paying for someone else to do this and do it right. There is NO REASON that I should have to be a fly buzzing and buzzing around to be sure things are done right. Nor is there any reason I should have to be reading grout and tile specs when others have not checked them out themselves... I should get a cut of the labor cost at this point as I am acting GC most of the time.

So now the shower floor has to come out. And we have to order more tile. And it needs to be reinstalled. And re-grouted. I think I won't do the math because it might make me ill, but I bet it would have been much less expensive for me to have them get to the point where the bath was tile ready, hire a nanny for two weeks and just do it myself. We still have no closet and our clothes are all in the guest room where we will have guests next week. We have no light fixtures or switches installed as of yet. We have no paint on the seems while we are dealing with all the tile headaches that we could have made some headway on the other parts of the work. I am so close to just doing the wiring myself. I think if I wasn't blogging right now that is what I would be doing.

How weird are we?

As we dive deeper into this new way of eating - or old way of eating depending on how you look at it - we have lots of ups and downs. When I make pork chops with a salad, steamed cauliflower and cucumber slaw, and Peanut eats her cauliflower first, and asks for more, I know we are on the right track. When she doesn't know what to do with a food that most kids her age have eaten before (lollipops for example) I am so pleased to see that we really are making a different way of food with her.

But them there are the downs. Today at her farm school class, we had a snack that I was totally shocked with. I have come to expect that I won't be pleased with the snacks we have there, but since it is not the end of the world and we only have one more class to go, I haven't said anything. The snacks aren't horrid - there is always juice (which we rarely have at home), and crackers or pudding or chex mix, or whatever. Today, snack was an ice cream sandwich. That's right. At 11:30 in the morning for a bunch of 2 and 3 year olds. Ice cream, sugar, cookie, and processed trash galore. What makes a preschool teacher decide that this is OK? When we saw them, one of the teachers made a comment about how Peanut would like snack, and all I could do was say that I wasn't sure she would know what it was as she had never had one before. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of the overall program, (that is a whole other story) but my expectation could never get so low as to assume we'd have ice cream in the morning at school. I think the worst part was that not one of us said anything about the snack. No one called them on it. We all sat there and let our kids eat it (and some parents ate most of it themselves). I'd like to think that we were all in the same boat - too shocked to do more than tightly smile. I'm not sure that is true.

I think that it might be common to give your 2 year old an ice cream sandwich before lunch. Peanut and I had a whole conversation about the snack once she figured out it was ice cream. We talked about what was on the outsides (the cookie) and how that makes it a sandwich. So at least she learned something new, oy. I don't know - I feel like we are so weird sometimes that I can't tell what is really crazy and what is just me.

Last week, I told my grandmother (who has always eaten well - no processed foods) that we were focusing on boosting our immunity to prepare for the flu season in lots of ways, including decreasing/eliminating sugar. Even she was surprised and admonished me, telling me how I would cause my kids to gorge on sweets the first minute they got if I controlled them too much at home. Why is it expected that kids will eat crap and crap alone? I grew up eating pretty well, and yeah, I liked to sneak cookies and all when I was in school, and I certainly saw the freshman 15 consequences of eating junk when I started college, but the pendulum swings and look at me now.

I want my kids to learn how food makes you feel and how when you eat things that are real foods with good nutritional value, you have energy and focus and when you eat things that are processed and have too much sugar and chemicals you feel fuzzy and tired. They can choose, but I want them to think about what their choices mean. Why on earth would I sabotage that by giving them ice cream in the morning at school of all places? I could go on and on about school lunches and vending machines in public schools and fast food commercials and toys in the meals... but I know I will need that energy for elementary school, and this is not ever really preschool yet and I am already wound up about how people who should be setting good examples just don't.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So sweet

He's Crawling!

He's 5 months old and he began to pull himself forward this week. I am a little taken aback and unprepared. I left Pumpkin in the living room for a minute the other day and came back to see him under the coffee table. I wondered how he did it - maybe he just rolled over and back and did his little pivot turn - but this seemed further than usual. So I watch for a few minutes and there he goes - tush up, arms out and pull with his arms. Oh gosh.

Soundtrack of my life

As we are driving home from the farmer's market today, "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel was on the radio. Like lots of songs from the late 80's and early 90's, the minute I hear the first few notes tons of memories and emotions come up. Somehow, this is the way my brain is wired. Music elicits all kinds of stuff. I can happily listen to old songs and think about when I first heard them, who loved the song with me, who sang at the top of their lungs with me into a hairbrush. I'm quietly reminiscing when Honey says, "Hey, you know it's the 20th anniversary of 'Say Anything'." I am instantly horrified. The memories I was having of seeing that movie in college - who I was with, how I was so elated and rosy cheeked in the cold Boston November night afterward, and anything was possible - now just made me feel so very old.

How did 20 years go by so fast?! It was just a short time ago that I was a freshman, who was petrified with the idea of being somewhere that I knew no one - well I had met a few people at freshman orientation, two of whom would end up to be some of my closest friends in college and one who is one of my closest to this day.

I had always been shy - hard to imagine that now. I remember clearly having my heart beat so hard and loud that it felt like it would jump out of my chest as a teacher would get closer to my name during attendance. God forbid I should have to say "Here" in front of the whole class. I remember shaking like a leaf during one of the first presentations I had to make in college. It was absolutely uncontrollable.

I had decided before starting freshman year that folks at school didn't yet know me, and I could create a new way of being with people, at least socially - I didn't deal with the performance anxiety until Junior year or so. Now don't get me wrong - I was never a wallflower. I just always waited for other people to talk to me. The first week at school, I methodically knocked on every door in our dorm and introduced myself. It was the greatest and most freeing thing. I met all the girls on our floor, the hockey players on the floor below, and the science geeks on the floor above. I met folks that loaned me blenders when we had parties. I met so many people that I knew that if I was bored or lonely or whatever, I'd always be able to find someone around to talk with.

It seems insane, that I can remember this all so clearly 20 years later. I could probably go through tons of stories leading up to that night in November, that movie, and that song. I always find it amazing and wonderful that all of these thoughts can come flooding back with a few random notes. It is such a great way to remember my life - as if it is a soundtrack. I hope that never fades away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


When I was little, I took dance lessons. I remember an early class with jazz, ballet and tap all combined where I had to do a recital that I think terrified me (but I could be making that up - most public displays terrified me until college) and was on a truck bed in the hot sun. I remember a later ballet class where I am sure I wanted to be a prima ballerina and dance the Nutcracker.

As much as I dislike ballet now, I know I loved it as a child. As I grew, ballet became evil for me for a multitude of reasons. First was the teacher who told me I'd never be a ballerina because I didn't have the body of a dancer. I can't recall if she actually said my but was too big or if I assumed that was her meaning, but clearly since it was 30 some years ago it has impacted me greatly. Then, physical therapy school brought to my attention the unbelievable injuries ballerinas deal with and are basically expected to endure. And finally, as a Pilates instructor, I met many dancers who had all kinds of issues and injuries and continued to dance through the pain. It just made for an awful taste in my mouth.

So today I signed Peanut up for dance class. How could I not? She loves anything ballet, princess, tutu related. She twirls around the house dancing. When we saw the class she would be age appropriate for, her eyes got huge. She starts next Tuesday. Oh I hope she loves it - and never has to have the emotions I have about this. Or I hope she decides it isn't her thing early, and we are done. I think it might be harder to let my kids follow their dreams that I had and crashed, than it is to let them do something completely unknown. I always want to keep her options open and let her try out everything to discover her passions. So next week I get to sit in the lobby while she goes into class by herself. This is tough on so many levels. Here it begins!

Lots of Leaves!

All last week, I was feeling like a slacker. I watched as our neighbors had cleared their yards, neatly piling leaves into bags and lining them up on the curb. Every day I head a leaf blower or shredder or vacuum or mower running, guilting me. Every time I drove in and out of the neighborhood - green lawn, green lawn, green lawn, huge leaf pile, green lawn, green lawn.

I did go out in the front yard with the kids one day and Peanut and I raked a bit. We made some progress and got some play-worthy piles going, but within a few hours the wind and the leaves still on the trees had conspired to make it look like we had done nothing. It just looked like some spots had drifted to create huge piles under the regular leaf cover. Oh well - she was tired from raking and playing and took a great nap, and I got a little workout so all was not lost.

We all went out to attack the leaves this weekend - rakes and blowers in hand. It was a beautiful day and Peanut and I did our best to rake (well - she raked for a few minutes and then wallowed in piles of leaves) while Pumpkin napped in the Moby and Honey wielded the leaf blower. We created quite an amazing pile which Honey then manhandled around to the back of the house and dumped into the garden and the mulch beds. I got a few wheelbarrows full into the composter along with the remains of our garden. The leaves should do a nice job of keeping the good garden soil from losing too many nutrients over the winter and they should add a little bit of goodness too. Why bag leaves when you can use them? Seems silly work to me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tastebuds reset!

Our family has been eating either GAPS or Primal most (75%? maybe) of the time now. We still have some no no's in our pantry (pasta, rice, etc), but I for one don't really want them so we haven't cooked them just yet. We have had lots of veggies, but it feels like I'm the only one who really enjoys them.

Last Sunday and Monday we made an attempt to do the GAPS diet intro program. Essentially, you eat fresh broths (meat and/or bone) for a few days along with boiled meats and vegetables and probiotic foods. As you feel ready, you add in eggs, avocado, and a bench of other "healing" foods. This has been hard for Honey as he really only likes veggies raw, and those are off limits. Cooked veggies are his nemesis I think. Anyway, by Sunday at 7pm, I was so hungry I could have eaten anything, and Pumpkin was screaming because I think I wasn't giving him enough through my milk. So I bailed.

I don't mean to imply that I started eating crap, I just bailed on soup for days. We are all still doing well with out meat, veggies and fruits, and I know I feel pretty good. I've definitely lost my desperate need for carbs and sugar. Someone left ice cream in our freezer on Halloween and it has not been touched. By this time if we were not on this eating plan, that ice cream would have easily been history. I think Honey feels better too - less reflux as far as I can tell.

Peanut is still eating some grains and yogurt, but we have noticed that if she has a grain of any kind, she will eat very little of anything else. We've also noticed that she tends to get full fast on grains, even gluten free, and the rest of the day is a lot of me bugging her to eat. When she only does meat and veggies, she eats way more. I'm not completely sure, but I think she is also happier and less labile without grains. The decrease in her dairy (she could have survived on cheese alone before) has absolutely made a difference in her tummy and - not to be gross- bowel habits.

It has been fascinating to see how our tastes are changing. We had roasted squash this week which would have made me gag before, but I loved it! I'm finding carrots to be very sweet, and food to need little additional spice. Honey and I compared notes yesterday, and we had both tried a little milk chocolate after Halloween and found that it tasted a bit chemical and nasty. Dark chocolate is still wonderful as far as I am concerned!

At the end of this week, I was tired of cooking (we already do a lot of cooking, but the soup and stew and broth thing is really time consuming), so we ordered in. We decided to experiment a bit, and we had Five Guys burgers and fries one night and Chinese food last night. The burgers were good and pretty close to GAPS legal aside from the buns. Fries are of course out, but the strange thing for both of us was that our ketchup was way too sweet! We haven't had ketchup in a long time as we cut out tomatoes a while ago, so this was pretty shocking. We both felt fine though after eating whereas our Chinese food made us both a little queasy. That was surprising because I ordered steamed chicken and vegetables with brown sauce on the side and only had a tiny bit of sauce. You would think that wasn't hugely different, but I did have some soup and part of a spring roll, so who knows. There could have been soy and sugar and whatnot in there.

The most interesting thing this week though was Honey's lunch at Thai Basil. He always orders the spiciest food he can, and Thai has actually been spicy enough for him in the past. More often than not, what other people find to be really hot doesn't even phase him. Well, he couldn't really eat his Thai dish as it was far too spicy for him. So the readjusting of the taste buds is definitely happening here.

This morning we went to the farmers market to do our shopping, and for the first time we got everything we will need for the week for under $90 from the market. This may be the most exciting development. I'm thinking less about how to put meals together - it's easy because there are not a million choices - veggies and meat is really it. We are using every part of what we buy, either for a meal, stew, soups, or for compost when all is said and done, so I feel like we are living even more lightly. There is lots of cabinet space being freed up as we use up our flours and grains too - I'll soon be able to have space for jarred and canned vegetables in the pantry! Now, I'll have to learn to can...

So close, yet so far

I should have new bathroom pictures to share. We were so close to having a tiled shower this week. So close I could feel the hot water of my very own shower just steps from my bed...but alas, it was not yet to be. Something always goes wrong in remodeling. Clearly, we know that by now. The key is to have people you are working with who will see it, own it, and solve it fast. Thank goodness, we have those people!

I had peeked in at the tile as it was going up, but hadn't gone into the shower until just after the glass border went in. So the whole shower was tiled from the floor to about 4 feet high. At first I just looked at the tile and thought - "yep - these are beautiful!". Then I noticed the grout lines. Or maybe I should say the lack of grout lines. There were spots where I couldn't fit my fingernail between tiles. Now, the manufacturer of the glass tile, Oceanside, recommends sanded grout. Clearly, sanded grout was not ever going to fit in these spaces.

So, I called our folks and since our contractor was out of town at a meeting, his wife Beth came by to check it out. She and the tile guy and I all agree that the glass needs to be moved up. Sounds like a done deal. Except that when I went in to look at that after he had moved it, he had left the trowel lines in the thinset under the tiles. That's fine with regular tile, but with glass the lines need to be flattened or the tiles need to be back buttered so the lines don't show through. So I call Beth again, and she says she is coming over to help me pull tiles off the wall and try to save the glass before it is stuck. This is great news, as I have two little ones begging for attention and dinner needs to be cooked and I just can't imagine washing tiles while I am roasting squash.

So, I go into the shower to get started with the work, and as I am standing there, the recycled subway tiles catch my eye. I look up, and a whole section of tile is obviously crooked. OY! Then I start to inspect further, and lots of individual tiles are akimbo. Now these tiles are not totally uniform, which is fine, but they are seriously not level or plumb. When Beth got there, I showed her what I had saved so far and pointed out the new issue - she saw it too and we agreed that it all needed to come down.

OK. So I buy all recycled tile and now there is a risk that we won't be able to get it off the wall in good enough shape to reuse it?! Why not just go to Lowe's and get some random tile made in China and shipped around the world three times before it gets to me? So now I am hoping we can save at least some of the tile. The glass liners were fine (Thank goodness - they were also the most expensive of the lot!), the mosaics washed off fine, but came off the paper backing when we washed them of course, so now they are a pile of little puzzle pieces. Beth likes them, so she took them for a project at her house, and they will buy some more sheets of them for our bath. SO the glass is not a total loss - as long as it will be used for something I am happy.

The next day, the subway tiles come down. Unbelievably, only four tiles were broken. The rest came off and washed well enough to reuse! Thank goodness the guy who is doing our tiling has a sense of humor since he has spent like a week in a 4x3 space. On Monday, the subway tile will go back up with several sized spacers to keep the tiles level and the grout lines large enough for the appropriate grout. WHEW.

So the thing about all of this, is that this is the first project that we have completely handed over to someone else in this house. Last time we had tiling done at our old house, we had an issue with the border as well, and I didn't say anything until it was done - I kept thinking they knew what they were doing and "never show a fool half finished work". This time, I have tried hard not to meddle and to remain out of the details, and to not be controlling. Of course, this is the time that I should have meddled - I had emailed the installation and specs information before we started, and had the manual from the tile company there for them to see, but did not point out the things that I thought may be issues as I didn't want to seem condescending. If I had pointed out the grout specifications and the flattening of the thinset lines, we would have never had these issues. So you live and learn. Thank goodness I said something right away instead of waiting. Sometimes being a bossy chick may be a good thing!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Holistic Halloween

We had such a fantastic time on Saturday! Our moms group, the Holistic Moms Network, hosted a Holistic Halloween party here at the house. The kids ran around the yard and jumped in piles of leaves - really is there anything better? We had a wagon and some hay bales ans we (well, one of the dads) pulled the kids around for a "hay ride" while the kids not riding ran after the wagon. We opened up a pumpkin, and then our children got squirmy about sticking their hands in to take out the seeds. Every one of them wanted to use a spoon to scoop them out! The plan was to take the seeds and toast them, but somehow the pumpkin and seeds ended up in the sandbox...maybe we will have a volunteer pumpkin vine or two next year. There was a little crafts table set up outside with all kinds of materials to explore and create with.

When it began to drizzle, we dragged our stuff inside and ate! We had quite a spread - it was potluck, and with folks with lots of cooking talent and varied dietary needs, it was interesting and delicious. A few of the dads brought fall and pumpkin beers for tasting, we had soup, stew, casseroles, liver, veggies, pies, cakes, and I'm sure things I have missed. The children decorated mini pumpkins, made popcorn hands, and ran around in the playroom all afternoon. When the weather cleared, we went back out to bob for apples. Now in this era of swine flu we couldn't throw caution to the wind and stick our heads in a big trash can like we did when I was a kid, so each child had their own bowl! It was a riot watching them all - some trying to eat the apple in the water, some dunking the apple after each bite like the water was a dip. Of course a few got very wet, but it was warm and we were outside so all was well.

Honey and I were talking afterwards and we both agreed that it was great to have active parents with us. What I mean by that is people who take an active role in parenting their kids wherever they are. You can see them keeping their kids in sight out of the corner of their eyes while they carry on a conversation. At the first hint of trouble, their posture shows they are tuned in to what may happen next, and they can make suggestions or requests of the kids in order to help them negotiate play, get to the potty on time, or keep their dinner from spilling off the plate. The kids learn to deal with social rules and the parents assist but don't take over, rescue, or coddle. Many of the families in our group follow (loosely or otherwise) attachment parenting. The most amazing thing about this is that attachment parenting usually gets a bad rap for just allowing children to run amok. Honestly, I have thought that myself, and I can see how the ideas and principles can be misinterpreted to mean "let your child run wild". To me at least, the tuned in parent can respond in a loving way and help children understand what is expected of them in a loving and connected way.

So a good time was had by all and our house remained intact in the face of 10+ kids from birth to 3 or so and their parents. We successfully celebrated the holiday without a serious sugar overdose, and everyone went home happy. Happy Halloween!