Thursday, January 29, 2009

Meant to post this earlier

Some people have been asking for pics of the kids and, sadly, I haven't taken many these days. I will share some from a recent trip to the zoo with some homeschool friends. This was my first trip to the zoo in the winter and it was fantastic! The area is beautiful, tucked away in the Rouge Valley, and so pretty in the winter. There are very few people around and all the paths are clear for walking. Not that that stopped the kids from climbing every giant snow bank they came across or trekking off the main paths into the wooded area. We walked for a while then warmed up in the pavilions along the way. It really was a great day and one I am anxious to repeat.


I love art class. What a difference a few months make. Especially where Izzy is concerned. At this age, they mature some skills almost overnight and I sometimes wonder where this little girl came from. Izzy has come a long way in art class. A few weeks back the kids did clay sculptures and Izzy's cat is so good most people don't think she actually did it. She listens well to the teacher this time around and takes her work very seriously. She takes her time and seems to enjoy the process.

Alex is still the same. He is the first kid to speak when a question is asked. He would rather socialize with the other kids. The teacher laughed when, once again, while painting Alex mixed all his colours together to see what he could come up with. Always this dark brown mess that the art teacher suggested he name as the colour Alex. It is funny to watch him. He doesn't dislike art class. He just would rather take more tangible things and put them together in some way. He loves Lego. He loves science experiments. He loves building things and discovering how things work. How to change things from one state to another. Taking a blank canvas and creating something one dimensional isn't his idea of a lot of fun.

Once again though, Alex made us proud...unintentionally. His rocket ship amused me to no end and I couldn't wait for Rob to see it. I was not disappointed! Rob got a hearty laugh out of it and then the inappropriate jokes started flying. His rocket has a distinctly phallic shape to it and the base of the ship had this spaghetti effect (by using a garlic press most kids used to make hair for their sculptures) that is meant to be jet vapours or fire burning out from the rocket boosters. Either way, it looks a little suspect. He'll get a kick out of this when he's all grown up, I'm sure.

Fun at Beavers!

Beaver buggy night! Last week the kids built these wooden race cars. This week they headed up to Camp Samac to race the cars. The kids have a blast. Rob said Alex was very excited and cheered when ever a car cleared the finish line. He was too excited and too distracted to even notice how his car faired. Apparently he routinely came in second place. Rob was impressed. Alex didn't notice or care. He had fun and he is always a fan of the no losers clause. Everyone who tries wins. The real prize is all the fun to be had.

I have a great promotional idea for Ikea!

Three Free Sessions of Marriage Counselling with every Kitchen Purchased!

...and now for the kitchen update.

Actually, it hasn't been that bad. I say this with the same tone as I would with, say, childbirth. You know, it really can't be classified as fun. It hurts. You might say unpleasant things to your spouse. You look forward to the end. The finished product is quite lovely and you are pretty sure you'd do it all over again. Maybe.

I would actually do another Ikea kitchen but there are certain tasks I would hire someone else to do. The counter tops are one of those tasks. I should have known when my very handy neighbour, who can Macgyver just about anything together (and incidentally owns nearly every power tool known to man - many of which we are still hoarding), shook her head and said we were very brave to tackle it. We wanted to save a few bucks by buying one of the premade vinyl slabs. Cutting out the hole for the sink, easy. The rest, so unpleasant. Walls are never even. Ours, I am sure, are worse than average. How a wall can bow only on the lower half boggles my simple mind. The endcaps just glue on with an iron and one then merely shaves it smooth with a file. Ha. Ha. Ha. We needed to raise the counter so the top wouldn't impede the doors from opening. That meant screws needed to go through the cabinet, some extra particle board, and then into the counter...don't ask me why this was so difficult but it was. We have yet to screw down the last two counter tops, a 21" and 24" on either side of the stove. Never again will I touch a counter top.

We are nearly done. Or it looks nearly done. Last weekend we added the sink and hooked up the dishwasher. That part was actually quite easy and was even fun. That might be the ABS pipe liquid cement fumes speaking though. We put in a sink and a half because I really wanted my sink cabinet to be 30" long to match the other base cabinets. We splurged a bit on the faucet and I am quite pleased with the results.

We seem to alternate good days and bad days. The day we did the plumbing, everything went right. It was beautiful. The next day, everything went wrong. That is how it seems to go. I am very impressed with how user friendly the whole Ikea cabinets have been. The doors were actually a breeze to put up. Really only took a few minutes for door, if that. The handles took much longer.

The kitchen looks nearly finished and within a few days will be completely usable again. I have yet to move anything into the cupboards. We still need to secure the counter to the other two base cabinets and put in the drawers. There are what seems like a hundred details left to attend to though, and that will take a while. I have to change all the outlets to white sockets. We are tiling the backsplash with white square tiles. The toekick needs to be cut and put on. The spacers for the upper cabinets need to be cut and installed. There are end caps for the upper and lower cabinets to add. Some trim to go under the cabinets to hide things like the lighting, which also needs to be added. I have tons of little accessories, like the birch rack that needs to be attached to an upper cabinet that holds these 5 glass containers. There are these funky drawer dividers that need to be figured out. We need new baseboards for the whole room, not to mention all the walls need to be repainted and I am terrible at picking out colour schemes. Sigh. Details...and lots of them.

I have to say I am quite proud of what Rob and I have accomplished. We laughed the other day, after Rob had taken out the headlight on the car to change a few bulbs, and joked that we could never have imagined a time when Rob had greasy hands and knew what a nut wrench was and I was in the kitchen sawing strips of wood for the counter top. At this rate you may hear about us planning our upcoming kayaking trip this summer. Or maybe not, lol.

Here are the latest pics of the kitchen:

Monday, January 19, 2009

A teeny, tiny glimmer of peace

I love my three year old very much. BUT, she has been driving me completely mad and is a real pain in the butt to live with these days. I try to remember that beneath the whining, the bossiness, the complaining and the tantrums lurks the little girl I adore. I try to remember that this three year old is teetering between the two worlds of toddler and child so I should cut her some slack. That she isn't really trying to give me gray hair. Or an aneurysm. Some days though...

Well, today was just like every other day lately. Trying. BUT, we had a moment. A few moments, actually, when we were outside, waiting for Alex to finish his piano lesson, when I held her in my arms and we stared up into the sky, watching the snow gently fall towards our faces. The sky was one colour, a perfect grayish white hue, and the flakes fell so slowly. Gently. We looked into each other's eyes, giggled at the tiny flakes that burrowed into our lashes, and stared into the sky some more. And me, feeling more serene than I have in weeks, thought, 'You and me kid, we're gonna be okay'.

Another moment I'll always cherish. Of course, ten minutes later, we were back in the car and little veins were bulging in my head from the bickering in the back seat but, at least, we had our moment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So, today, Alex says...

"You're the best mom in the world. You know everything in the universe."

For the first time in my life, I detected a hint of sarcasm. I can't tell for sure but had it come out of the mouth of a teenage son, I would have been less surprised. And amused, I'm sure.

Kids. The fun never stops. Hmmm...I wonder where he might have picked it up?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The progress in the kitchen

I've been dying to post pictures but have had little time these days. I want to show off what we've done so far, mostly because Rob and I are so proud with ourselves. We are not completely incompetent in the home renovation arena, lol.

This is the kitchen right after Christmas. We went away boxing day but the next day we had the tree down and the kitchen demo started. I have to say that pulling up peel and stick tile, over top of linoleum tile, was horrific. Terribly time consuming and the most labour intensive thing we've done so far. The cabinets came down easily, thanks to our friend the sledge hammer. We were careful not to damage walls or ourselves though.

This is our delivery from Ikea. Our kitchen in 115+ flat packed boxes. Assembly required. Lots of assembly required. There are three separate stacks of cabinets and another pile of very long pieces off to the side. We were only short 3 boxes when we went through the inventory. All front panels for drawers. Went to Ikea the next day and picked them up.

Here is the new laminate floor in a medium oak. Tundra is the name, also from Ikea. It was the first time we laid down this kind of floor. Or any type of floor for that matter and I hated it. I loathe laminate flooring. Other than the hall, I think I will be hiring out for this process in the future. I actually preferred ripping out the tiles to this, while Rob - who also discover he hates laying laminate floor - preferred this over the hot-gun and trowel experience. It looks good and our neighbours think we did a good job of it. As long as it doesn't pop up in the next few years, I am happy.

The appliances came last week too. I could have held off longer, due to space issues, but it forced us to finish the floor "on schedule" and I like having the dishwasher and microwave here to build in as we do the cabinets.

Building the cabinets is not hard at all. It is actually kind of fun, seeing the pieces you've planned for and designed your kitchen around come to life. We have started on the fridge and stove side of the kitchen which wasn't quite as quick and easy as we would have liked. We had to close up a vent for the old fan over the stove. We could have vented the microwave that with the old vent but it comes with the ability to recycle the air around it, so we opted for that to get more cabinet space. We moved the wiring up on the wall and added a receptacle. Built in microwaves use plugs so we were forced to learn how to do some basic electrical work.

So that is what we've accomplished so far. We work mainly in the evening after Rob gets home from work. We've been without a sink for about a week now. We *hope* to have the base cabinets in on that side and plumbed by the end of next weekend. It should be done in another week and a bit. At least functional again. I can't even begin to think about painting, trim and baseboards yet. All in due time.

I have to say that I am really impressed with the whole Ikea kitchen experience. It is a lot of work but very straightforward. I'll post again when there is more kitchen to show off!

Friday, January 9, 2009


In the middle of total kitchen reno. Rob and I are doing it all by ourselves with the help of books, neighbourly advice and the internet. Tonight the new floor will be done. Appliances were delivered this morning. Ikea boxes containing doors, drawers and cabinets (about 115 of them) have taken over my teeny, tiny house. So, with that, shuffling the kids to their activities and constantly running back and forth from Home Depot, I am swamped. I have much to post. Many pictures to show off but all will have to wait another week or two.

Smarterer children

Rob and I have this thing where we bug each other, usually when one of us says something dumb or silly, over who is "smarterer". I think it comes from a Simpsons moment when Homer says, "I am so smart, S-M-R-T..." Well, Alex has picked it up and has been using it all afternoon. I can't wait for that moment, the one in line at the grocery store, when he declares himself smarterer because he homeschools. I'd shrink and hide while Rob would laugh with pride.

The Kitchen Reno

This is what my life revolves around these days. Pulling up flooring. Laying down flooring. Little time for blogging. I hope to be back soon.