Kitchen Remodel Week 3

This week was mostly putzy finishing work on the walls–Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were devoted to mudding and sanding the drywall joints. It takes an annoyingly long time since you have to wait for each layer of mud to dry before moving on.

On Tuesday the mudroom tile got installed!

…and then on Wednesday it got strategically pried up.  Turns out the mosaic squares aren’t perfectly square. That combined with our non-level, not-square floor meant some of the spacing would be wonky and really obvious once black grout was added. This meant the tile guy and our project manager spent a chunk of the day popping out certain tiles and then re-laying them to even out the spacing. While not a fun time, this was apparently the easiest option (and I greatly appreciate their attention to detail).

See all those whiter/hazier spots where the mastic has oozed up and is showing? Yeah…those are all the spots they had to fix tile by tile. (The weird dark line across the middle of the floor is just a shadow)

Wednesday also brought a little inspection drama.  We’ve been going back and forth about how to get the sink properly vented and the last plumber who looked at it thought he had a solution that wouldn’t involve ripping out the walls and ceiling. Then he talked to the inspector about it and the inspector wasn’t on board. So then our project manager brought the inspector over to show him what we’re working with…which is a hot mess. Now they have to figure out a way to vent the sink that will make everyone happy.

On Thursday the mudroom tile got grouted! I am ridiculously excited about this fairly simple floor.  So excited I apparently missed getting a picture in time for this post…whoops! We also continued the plumbing drama and hauled the plumber back in to brainstorm. He says he hasn’t been stumped yet… which is all fine and dandy, but there’s a big difference between “this can’t be done” and “this will cost several thousand more than you expected to get done.”

Despite the plumbing complications, the cabinets were (mostly) installed on Friday! They didn’t permanently secure some of the base cabinets or hang the cabinet above the sink since parts of that may need to be demoed (again).

Basically this week was one giant effing headache for a lot of people.

But hey, CABINETS!

 

Kitchen Remodel Week 2

Not gonna lie, last week was CHAOS.

On Monday the old sub-floor in the mudroom got ripped and spray foam insulation was added underneath.  A new sub-floor also got more-or-less installed (they still need an inspector to check on the insulation).

Tuesday saw the near-complete destruction of our kitchen.

They’re letting us keep the sink for the time being but everything else got torn down and the appliances are currently shoved on the other side of the kitchen.

See the random door behind the sink?  That’s the other side of our “Winchester door” from the stairs. Basically in the original floor plan of the house there would have been a solid wall between the kitchen and dining room, and the kitchen would have been accessible from the first stair landing. At some point an opening was added in the wall, the stairs removed, and the door was dry-walled over to allow for more wall space in the kitchen.

They also added framing between the kitchen and mudroom for the wall extension.

The electricians came on Wednesday and we learned that our breaker box really needs to be replaced in order to accommodate proper wiring in the kitchen.* This will require a day where they’ll have to pretty much shut off power to the whole house. In winter. In Minnesota. We may decide to flee the house that day.

Unsurprisingly, the electrical work brought on still MORE destruction–they had to remove the rest of the drywall behind the the cabinets and, thanks to some really stupid electrical code, had to cut holes for additional outlets. Unfortunately this meant having to add an outlet in the plaster wall in the dining room and it’s next to impossible to cut into plaster cleanly.

We got a small break from the chaos on Thursday.  The electricians had to wait for an inspector to sign off on their work so they just prepped for the patching that would be needed in the drywall/plaster.

Friday was a late start too since they were waiting on another inspector for the insulation.  After that was approved the drywall/cementboard started going up!

Oh hey, we have actual walls again!

 

*Fun fact: the outlet for our microwave was on the same breaker as our boiler.

 

Kitchen Remodel Week 1

The kitchen work has officially begun!

I got a call last Thursday from our contractor asking if they could start working on the window on Friday.  While this may be rather short notice for most people, I had already told them our schedule was very flexible since Matt and I are both sitting at home with a newborn for 3 months.  I was actually thrilled to hear to they could get working on it!

So here it is, one last look at our current kitchen. (Ok, these pics are actually a little old but I didn’t have a chance to take new ones and it looks more-or-less the same, we just upgraded the appliances since then).

Time to say buh-bye to the old window and helloooo window that will allow for cabinetry!

Isn’t it lovely?  Very industrial-chic. Not to worry though, there will (obviously) be more finishing work happening.

The outside looks a little less classy at the moment.  Because we have asbestos siding, the contractor had to do a little bit of a hack fix to avoid disturbing it. We’re going to paint the filler panel to match the window trim for now, but I’m thinking about adding window boxes to help hide the panel and visually balance both windows.

They also demo-ed the mudroom tile while they were here! It’s hard to see in the Before pictures, but it was an unfortunate pinky-beige and I am VERY glad to have it gone.

Apparently this was some very stubborn tile and they had to pretty much pulverize it in order to remove it. Bad news: there is a coating of dust that permeated most of the house.  Good news: this is probably the worst (read: dirtiest) part of the demo work.

“Week” One was really only one day since they started on Friday, but I’m already happy with the progress!

Kitchen Remodel: Final Details

We’re getting close to work starting on the kitchen! We don’t have an exact start date, but it should be early-to-mid February.  Finalizing the countertop is last big decision and we’re just waiting on some quotes there. The contractors have hauled off our beast of a sink (cast iron) to check the fit in the cabinet and the tile we ordered has arrived (190lbs to–thankfully–be picked up by the contractors). One of the cabinet guys dropped by yesterday to double check some measurements and I was able to sign off on cabinet colors at the same time.* I’ve also got the last few (non-structural) details finalized.

Lights

Choosing a light fixture was a struggle–our kitchen shape is basically a wide galley but track lighting doesn’t suit the look I’m going for.  I was originally looking at semi-flush mounts with diffuse shades and multiple bulbs, but I wasn’t finding anything that was really jumping out at me.  Eventually I started looking at island lighting to try and find something a little more elongated (and since we have pretty high ceilings we’re able to accommodate a fixture with more of a drop). That’s when I found this beauty.

Hardware

Next up we had to finalize cabinet hardware.  I actually had a vision in mind, it was just a matter of finding something that actually matched it.  This can often be easier said than done, but I actually didn’t have too much difficulty.

Cabinets will be getting glass knobs with oil rubbed bronze bases… except I couldn’t find glass with ORB so I had to settle for acrylic. I’m hoping I still like them when I see them in person!  The drawers will be getting oil rubbed bronze cup pulls with a more squared off shape. Because we have a few longer drawers in the layout, they’ll get two pulls each instead of one centered pull for balance and scale.

Paint & Paper

I’m not planning on changing the paint color at all–Benjamin Moore Paper White is perhaps my favorite cool neutral.  The dark blue base cabinets will have enough color that I don’t want the walls to compete with it. I’m also going to be bringing in some accent wallpaper for the back of the glass cabinets and one of the mudroom walls.  The backdoor will also be getting a paint makeover.  I need to get the wallpaper before finalizing the color, but am currently eyeing Benjamin Moore: Tranquil Blue. Thankfully there’s no rush on this part since I’ll be DIYing it once the contractors are done with their bit.

 

 

*They got the base cabinet color perfect on the first try, but when they tried to color match BM’s Simply White it was more Simply Cream. Luckily they brought some other white samples with them and one of them was a near perfect match to our trim so I didn’t need to go back and forth trying to perfect a custom color.

Kitchen Remodel: Tile and Counters

Now that baby Elsie has finally joined us, we’re back to picking up steam on the kitchen remodel. We’ve finalized the sink and light fixture so now we’re moving on to counters and tile!

For counters, I knew I wanted something that resembled marble, but wasn’t marble.  Some people are cool with the maintenance and inevitable staining that comes with a true marble countertop, but I am not one of those people.  This meant my options were a quartz composite or solid surface (ok, there are lots of marble-patterned laminates too, but we didn’t really want to do with a laminate).

Silestone’s Et Satuario is pretty close to the look I’m going for as is MSI’s Calacatta Bontanica. We wanted to make sure we considered Cambria as well since they’re a Minnesota company, but unfortunately I wasn’t really feeling any of their options.

The way our remodeling company works if that they estimated a certain amount for the countertops in our initial quote.  Countertop prices depend on the fabricators so these were the options I sent to them for quotes and hopefully at least one of them falls within our budget!

Today we also got ourselves out of the house to make a final decision on tile. The mudroom tile was an easy choice–I knew I wanted a white, penny hex tile because it’s pretty traditional for houses of this era. Added bonus: it’s also really cheap!

Backsplash was a bit of a dilemma. I had originally found an amazing starburst pattern at Lowes. Buuuut when we actually got to a point where I would consider ordering it it was listed as “no longer available.” I even chatted with a sales associate to see if there was any chance of it coming back in stock before January, but they didn’t have any information on it.  Googling the brand and pattern didn’t get me anywhere either. SO BUMMED! It was such a nice combination of visually interesting without being over-powering.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anything with a similar feel so I had to re-think my plan. I knew I wanted a ceramic or porcelain for the same reason I don’t want a natural marble counter. Glass tiles are cool too, but just not the look I’m going for. I also wanted a solid white so it won’t compete with the counter pattern. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that an arabesque or subway tile would probably be the best fit for the house and we ended up going with a handmade-looking subway tile.  It’s a classic shape with a little bit of texture and organic-ness so I think it will work out very nicely.

Welcome Elsie Harper!

We had a little bit of excitement here the other week!  I was scheduled for a C-Section on Thursday January 9th (baby was still breech) so my mom and step-dad came into town Tuesday evening.  The plan was for them to use Wednesday to walk through Wesley’s normal routine and possibly help us finish up a couple things around the house.

Well, it turns out it was a REALLY good thing they came Tuesday night because I woke up around 2am to go to the bathroom then realized I was also having contractions. Better yet, they were coming every 5 minutes and lasting at least a minute.* As soon as I noticed a pattern, I woke up Matt, called my clinic’s 24hr line, and woke up my parents to let them know we were leaving for the hospital goodluckwithWesleybye.

We got to the hospital a little after 3 and were immediately admitted (no triage room for me this time). Because they knew I would be having a c-section I was given a drug to slow down my contractions (which were starting to get pretty intense).  The on-call OB came in and starting going over the plan for surgery and introducing the other people who were going to be involved. Basically they were still trying to keep things fairly calm and more like how my scheduled c-section would have gone…just a day early.

Meanwhile my body was powering through magic drug they gave me to slow my contractions so I was really starting to feel things again. They didn’t want to give me another dose because the OB said it would actually be a little better for the surgery if my uterus was trying to contract, so they started wrapping things up and getting me ready to be moved to the OR. Then my water broke… which really does feel like you’ve just wet yourself.  In fact, I actually said “I think I just peed…” then thought about for another second and followed up with “Or my water just broke which might make more sense…”

At this point it was Go Time so my bed and IV stand are getting maneuvered out the door and down the hall. I’m freaking out because 1) my contractions kept ramping up and hurt like hell, and 2) my IV line kept pulling on my arm as people worked to coordinate movements and I do not handle anything under my skin well and the tugging sensation was Not Helping.  We were right outside the door to the OR** which was literally around the corner from my room and I started feeling like I needed to push.  I distinctly remember thinking that people would probably want to know this, but they also seemed really busy at the moment so in proper Minnesotan fashion I said something along the lines of “Um… it sort of feels like I need to push?”

Everything after that is a little fuzzy.  I remember getting transferred to the operating table and heard someone saying that there wasn’t time to do a spinal block. I may or may not have started to get a little hysterical at this point.

“What do you mean you don’t have time to do a spinal?!”

Around the same time I also announced that I could feel something coming out. Yes, my daughter had literally kicked her foot out first (which can actually cut off circulation if not dealt with quickly). I remember the drape going up and things getting prepped around my abdomen, and someone calling for backup…but I was still getting contractions and really just wanted whatever anesthesia they were going to give me.  I believe I said something very eloquent along the lines of “If you’re going to gas me please hurry up and do it!”

Aaand then I was knocked out by general anesthesia. Next thing I knew I was in a recovery room and a bunch of people were talking and I was having a really hard time focusing and responding to their questions. Eventually someone came in with my glasses and said Matt had mentioned that I might like to have them (I’m totally blind without them). I also started to get a little more aware of things, but talking was still really hard.***

Now, as I was getting wheeled off to the OR, Matt had been given a gown or whatever to put on and was told someone would be back to get him in a just a minute.  Typically they do the spinal block and then bring in your partner, so it’s literally just a couple minutes.  Well, Matt waited…and waited then 15 minutes or so later a nurse came in and let him know there had been a change of plans and that I was unconscious and that our daughter had just been born… any questions?

Matt: ….

They brought in our daughter shortly after so Matt got a couple hours of daddy-daughter bonding while I got stitched back together and hung out in recovery for a little while. I finally got to meet her around 7:30.

Here she is, our little drama queen: Elsie Harper. Note that a mere 3 1/2 hours elapsed from when I first noticed contractions and when she was born (and she was determined to come out on her own!). The funny thing is that for a while I’d been commenting that that whenever she kicked it felt like she was trying to kick her way out…guess she had been practicing.

The good news is that despite all the drama, everyone is doing well!  I have a post-op follow-up next week, but I feel like I keep improving each day. Rotating or bending at the waist is still rough, but I’ve been off narcotics for a few days and am keeping my pain in check with Tylenol and ibuprofen. Given the amount of pain I was in for the last chunk of my pregnancy this may actually be an improvement. The hardest thing is stopping the cats and Wesley from dive-bombing my abdomen, so I basically keep my Boppy pillow around me any time I’m sitting/laying down.

Elsie is doing great and was already close to back to birth weight a few days after leaving the hospital.  She’s pretty chill so far, she just vastly prefers snuggling on top of a person to sleeping in her bassinet. Because she was breech we need to schedule an ultrasound for her since breech girls have a higher risk of hip displasia,**** but if caught early it’s easily corrected.

Wesley seems to be adjusting well–when he gets home from daycare he yells “Mommy! Elsie!” while running to see us, and is very good at touching Elsie gently (petting her hair and giving her hugs).  He’s definitely a little bit out of sorts since it’s a big change, but we’re doing our best to keep his routine as consistent as possible and give him plenty of mommy and daddy time.

 

*If you’ve never had a baby, this is the rough guideline for getting off your butt and to the hospital…and this is what I woke up to.

**Which had a sign saying “Quiet Please” …I ignored it, but I feel like I was justified.

***I mentioned a having a sore throat to the nurses the next day and they said it wasn’t surprising since I had been intubated because of the general anesthesia.

****The doctors asked if we knew what hip displasia was and I responded with “Like in golden retrievers?” I may have watched way too much Animal Planet growing up since I’ve only ever heard of hip displasia in regards to larger breed, pure-bred dogs. But, yeah, same thing apparently.

Unexpected Developments in the New Year

I mentioned previously that baby girl is currently breech and so we’re working on trying to get her turned around.  I had an External Cephalic Version* done last Friday with zero luck.  Baby didn’t budge one bit and seems to be stuck around my rib cage. I had another regular prenatal visit today and she still hasn’t moved at all. Thanks stubborn kiddo.

There’s still a chance she may turn on her own or that some yoga or Spinning Babies positions may help her along, but the OB still had me schedule a C-section at 39 weeks to be safe. IF she turns before then I can still have a vaginal delivery but if I go into labor before then and she hasn’t turned I’ll need a last minute C-section.**  Good times.

The good news is that baby still seems to be doing just fine.  And me, well, I’m massively uncomfortable, completely exhausted (the fact that she’s sitting so high up is compressing my lungs which isn’t helping matters), and still having a lot of pelvic pain, but nothing the doctors are all that concerned about. Once baby is out and the pregnancy hormones (and physical stress on my body) go down then my pelvis should start to function normally again.***

It’s weird, but I’m remaining shockingly calm about this whole thing.  It is what it is and I trust the doctors to make the call about the safest course of action. It’s also nice in a way because we’re able to schedule with out-of-state grandparents about coming into town to watch Wesley while Matt and I are at the hospital. I also have a definite end date in sight, which given how incredibly miserable I’ve been during this pregnancy is actually kind of reassuring.

That all being said, a C-section is still major surgery, even if it is a pretty routine one. I definitely wouldn’t choose this route if it wasn’t considered medically necessary. I’ve been doing some research and it sounds like recovery is no joke. It will probably be even harder with a toddler at home who won’t understand why mommy can’t pick him up or why he can’t climb on top of her for snuggles. Luckily my mom will be coming into town to watch him while I’m in the hospital and my mother-in-law had already planned a visit that happens to fall right after my now-scheduled surgery. While it was really nice having the house to ourselves after Wesley was born, I think it will be really good for Wesley to have some extra people around to give him attention this time.

 

* An OB tries to manually turn the baby by shoving on your belly. I’d say it was incredibly uncomfortable but not exactly painful.  You also get a shot of something to relax your uterine muscles…which also makes you super jittery.  It was like the jitters you can get after a nebulizer treatment.

** I don’t know if it quite counts as an “emergency” C-section since they should be preparing for it as soon as I call the hospital, but they will definitely have less time to prep than they would for a scheduled procedure.

***Grandparents were in town last weekend so we brought Wesley to their hotel to play in the pool.  He seemed to have fun, but it was positively glorious for me! Most of my pain melted away and I was even fairly comfortable for a couple hours after getting out of the water. Now if I could only find a pool to live in for the next week….

My Bags are Packed, I’m Ready to Go

37 weeks baby! I’d say this kiddo could come at any time now, but as of my appointment a few days ago she’s currently breech so hopefully we get her facing the right way first.  I have a referral for an External Cephalic Version (where a doctor tries to externally turn the baby) and I’m starting to use some of the positions from Spinning Babies to help the process along.

Wesley caught us by surprise by being a little over 2 weeks early (when I fully expected him to be at least a week late) so I had to direct Matt on what to what to pack while in the middle of contractions.  This time though, WE ARE PREPARED.* As soon as December hit we were pulling all the old baby gear out of storage, washing ALL THE THINGS, and generally nesting up a storm.

Even then I had an oh-so-fun round of false labor last Monday and still didn’t actually feel prepared. I went home from work early because I couldn’t function anymore and called Matt home from his work Christmas party so he could watch Wesley (and, ya’know, be ready to go if this ended up being the real thing). I checked in with my midwife a couple times, but since it was early enough to be unlikely and my contractions were holding at sporadically-steady (sometimes they’d last a few seconds, other time a minute but they kept happening fairly regularly without ramping up in intensity) she never had me head to the hospital.

What I’m Packing for Baby #2

It was a little easier to pack for a second delivery since I learned what was actually useful to me from the first time around…and some things I wish I had. For the record, I’m fairly minimalist compared to a lot of the lists out there there but if you’re not, that’s totally cool.  Bring whatever you think will make YOU feel comfortable.

Comfy clothes

Some people like the idea of their own clothes/gown to wear during labor, but I honestly didn’t care.  If you do go this route,I would suggest something dark (delivery is messy) and something designed for labor (they have a lot of extra snaps and openings for monitoring equipment and epidural access).

Keep in mind that your belly doesn’t instantly shrink after giving birth, so you’ll probably want some maternity-friendly clothes.  There’s also always a chance of a c-section (even if it’s not planned) so be conscious of where your waistband hits. Also, you probably don’t have to worry about underwear since the hospital will give you some positively stylin’ mesh knickers.

I’m packing:

  • Thermal joggers (not maternity, just sized up one)
  • Nursing friendly tanks/tees
  • Maternity leggings
  • Open-front Sweater
  • Slipper socks with bottom grips
Toiletries

Honestly, I’m pretty basic in this category,  I packed a little makeup the first time around but didn’t use it (but then, I often go without makeup).

I’m packing:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Loofah
  • Facial cleansing wipes
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • deodorant
  • lotion
  • chapstick
  • Headband (if your hair longer I’d recommend a hair elastic to keep it out of your face)
Breastfeeding Gear

If you don’t plan on breastfeeding, no worries–you’ve got less to pack! If you do plan on breastfeeding, I still suggest packing a few things besides your mammary glands.

I’m packing:

  • Combination nursing/pumping bra (I REALLY wish I had this in the hospital with Wesley)
  • Haaka manual breast pump (bring your electric one if you’d like help getting started with it)
  • Nursing pillow (I liked mine, but a normal pillow works in a pinch too and neither is completely necessary)
  • Nipple cream (I didn’t actually need this with baby #1, but better safe than sorry)
  • Nipple pads (it’s unlikely you’ll start leaking those first couple days in the hospital, but again, better safe than sorry)
Creature Comforts

Some people want to make their hospital room as homey as possible. Blankets, pillows, towels, and eye masks are frequently recommended  Personally I didn’t want to worry about more stuff to potentially forget…but I AM attached to having a good pillow.

I’m packing

  • My own pillow (with a pillowcase that won’t get mistaken for hospital bedding)
  • My own water bottle (the one the hospital provided the first time tasted like plastic)–something large, fairly leak-proof, and with a straw is a good option since you’ll want to be able to sip water easily from different angles.3 3q
Entertainment

Like it or not, you’ll be in the hospital for a while.  If you opt for an epidural you’ll probably even have good chunk of down-time (although if it’s the middle of the night you can just enjoy glorious, glorious sleep).

I’m packing:

  • Tablet
  • Phone
  • iPod
  • Book
  • Chargers + small extension cord (PSA: they also make extra long charging cords, I just used what I already had)
Miscellaneous
  • Snacks (for both you and your partner)
  • Camera (I have a nicer one in addition to my phone)
  • “Baby’s” gift for big brother (this has been recommended by a few sources for helping introduce a sibling…unfortunately we’re behind on this one so we don’t know what it’s going to be yet)
For Baby

For us, all the basic needs were supplied by the hospital while we were there–diapers, onsies, swaddles, etc.  All we really need are some things to get our baby girl home. For Wesley, I packed his diaper bag but this time I’m just going to throw stuff in my bag.

I’m packing:

  • 2-3 “coming home” outfits in multiple sizes (since there’s no telling how big the baby will be)
  • Hat
  • Photo props (I have a letter board to fill in with her birth info, a cute swaddle blanket, and girly headband)
  • Car seat + car seat cover (we didn’t bother with a car seat cover for Wesley since he was a summer baby, but winter in MN in now joke!)

 

*Which probably means baby girl will take her sweet time, but what can you do?

Kitchen Remodel: Pre-Construction Meeting

Last week we had our pre-construction meeting with our contractor. It was actually a little more chaotic than I had imagined. The meeting was at our house and involved the sales manager and designer we had already been working with, plus our project manager, plumber, and electrician. I went over material selection planning with the designer while everyone else poked around the house trying to figure out exactly what would be involved for the minor plumbing and electrical work being done.

Shockingly the electrician thought everything looked straightforward on his end. He was even pretty un-phased by this hot mess concealed behind an innocuous wood panel in our kitchen wall.

Because this is an old house, of course something had to be jacked up…in our case it was the venting for the kitchen sink (which no one had actually expected to be an issue). Turns out that our sink is not properly vented, BUT if you take a quick look at the plumbing in the basement it looks like it should be vented…the second pipe just doesn’t actually vent.

Goody.

Now, to fix the venting issue, they’re going to need to rip out a chunk of the wall and section of the ceiling.  Yay….   It’s going to add to our cost, but because it’s a code issue it can’t be skipped. The upside (?) to this is that we know the toilet in our upstairs bathroom has some plumbing issues that can only be fixed by ripping a hole in our kitchen ceiling…the same part of our ceiling that will already be getting a hole ripped in it. So we’re going to see if it’s possible for the plumber to fix that issue while the area is accessible.  This will of course add even more $$$, but it would be less than if we had to rip a second hole into our ceiling later on.

The other fun thing we learned is that based on their current timeline, demo is estimated to start in mid January.  For those of you not following along, baby #2 is due in mid January. My sister just also started her own kitchen renovation less than a month before Christmas so clearly this kind of planning is a family trait.

Thankfully nothing else is standing out as a glaring problem.  In the next week or so I need to meet with the designer to sign off on the final cabinet plan, door styles, and cabinet colors. I’ve already got our sink ordered so next up is deciding on a countertop since that will require time to be fabricated.

 

Slice of Life: Empathy Division

I made Matt watch this video the other night:

Matt: But is it really that realistic?

Me: Well… it wouldn’t be able to simulate heartburn, round ligament pain, bone pain or anything like that…

Matt (at the same time): I mean, it’s got to be really warm.

Me: Dude, this kid is my own personal space heater.

Matt: Yeah, but it is really as bad as a bunch of layers of canvas?

Me: …. I think that’s the wrong takeaway here.