Adventure in HVAC

I actually miss our radiators…

Matt’s been complaining that the fireplace room is cold. It’s still sort of our “formal storage room” at the moment so I’m not in there that much, but yeah it’s colder than the rest of the house. This is partly because of the sliding glass doors, partly because of the fireplace, partly because that part of the house sits on a slab….

…. and partly because our HVAC system is apparently seriously jacked up.

We already knew it was a little weird. They must have added the rooms above the garage after the original construction and that addition has a separate furnace that lives in our garage. The fireplace room appears to be some sort of remodel as well because apparently the duct work to some of the registers is randomly disconnected (and basically inaccessible) and there’s no air return in that room.

On A Scale Of One To Even I Cant GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
Via giphy

We had an HVAC guy come out to look at additional heating options for that room–whether it be baseboard heat or routing the second furnace to this room somehow. While investigating the current setup he also discovered that a safety feature on our main furnace has been bypassed. Ultimately he suggested a mini-split system so we had another person come out to do a quote for that.

Our current plan is to see how things go. The temperature in that room isn’t bad enough that it’s a serious problem, it’s just noticeably colder than the other rooms….but it’s also the room we use the least. I am planing on moving my home office space into the corner there which could change how I feel about things. At least I don’t work from home full time so we may even try a space heater if a heat boost is necessary before looking into a mini split.

Moral of this story: don’t just randomly disconnect your duct work because it’s in the way of your remodel.

Big Changes in 2020

Because a new baby, COVID, potty training toddler, and local riots just weren’t enough it looks like we’re adding a move to mix.

We hadn’t originally intended on moving for several more years at least.  I LOVE this house and being in the city but the events so far this year have changed things. First up is, of course, COVID.  Not only has it changed the space requirements for our house (we really need office space for two) it’s also cut off a lot of what we love about the neighborhood.  Some of our favorite local shops have closed or are about to go under. Some of favorite restaurants have reduced their hours and options making them no longer feasible for us. Do you want to force a 3yo into a mask to go out to eat? Hell, *I* don’t want to put on mask to go out to eat.*

Then we had riots.  In our neighborhood.  I got a call from our daycare telling us we needed to pick up the kids because the main part of the St Paul riots were happening was literally across the street.** Our daycare stayed closed for a couple days and we heard a pretty constant stream of sirens and helicopters all weekend. On top of general stress that caused, the businesses that were still chugging along through COVID got hit with another round of destruction.

While it’s possible some of these businesses will rebound, it’s more likely that it will take a significant amount of time.  Minneapolis is also making some questionable decisions and St Paul is usually not far behind so we decided to get out while the gettin’s good.  The current low interest rates and crazy market make it actually a pretty good time…although the market has made finding a new home rather difficult. There is an insane amount of competition right now, but we did eventually find a house that checks almost all our boxes. We even scored some water-front property.***

Via Google Maps

So that’s it… we’re going suburban. I truly hope St Paul doesn’t go the way we think it’s heading, but we’re not willing to gamble on it. So far we’ve made it through the inspection and appraisal so barring any crazy catastrophes we’ll be closing mid October.  I’m really sad to be leaving this house.  And I’m sad I never got to finish it.  The prospect of a new project is exciting though. This house would probably be considered “move in ready” by most people, but since Matt and I are not “most people” we have several plans already.


*And before people get all up in arms, this doesn’t mean I’m actively protesting masks in public.  I don’t enjoy wearing them therefore I try and avoid situations where I am required to but suck it up if I must.

**Thankfully the “street” is an expressway, but it was still way too close for comfort.

**The water may be a drainage pond, but it’s a decently picturesque drainage pond.

Sunday Fun Day: Pandemic Edition

Some of ya’ll have never watched a zombie apocalypse movie and it shows. Seriously, what’s the deal with the toilet paper??? Even my baby wipes were back-ordered!

Seriously though, these are stressful times and I don’t know about you but the informational posts I’m getting bombarded with on social media are just too much.  The information is changing constantly and most of these posts don’t have a verifiable source anyway. I just can’t with them anymore.

The one thing I am enjoying on social media? The humour. This whole situation is so incredibly surreal that’s it’s nice to be able to laugh. I know I’m not alone in this either, so here are some of my favorites for you to enjoy:

And Some videos:

Or if you’re not from Wisconsin and brandy’s not your thing:

You may not be able to go out to a bar, so here’s some tunes to pair with your drink.

And just remember: Time has no meaning anymore so it’s OK to day drink.

Elsie: 1 Month

Running a little late on this since she’s currently rapidly approaching two months, but that’s how it goes with the second child, isn’t it?  At least the picture is still her at 1 month.

  • Sleeping on people
  • Sleeping anywhere not on a person
Confused By
  • Daddy’s obsession with having her dance the Macarena

We’ve had a lot of people asking how we chose her name and it wasn’t easy!  I made Matt come up with at least 5 names that he would be ok with and I would do the same.  His criteria was that the name couldn’t have been in the top 10 in the last 5 years. My criteria was actually liking the name. Unfortunately a lot of the names I liked were top 10 names.*  Elsie was one of Matt’s picks and it was actually the only name from his list that I was ok with.**

As far as her middle name goes… we just found something that we thought sounded nice with Elsie so there’s no significance behind it.  Like her brother she also has two middle names.  However, because Matt and I are clearly batshit insane and want to confuse everyone, she is Elsie Harper [Matt’s last name] [my last name], so yes, these siblings have different last names. These are the fun choices you get to make if you don’t change your name when you get married. The good news is that when they’re both in school they’ll never have teachers comparing them for better or worse.


*Damn you princess Charlotte.

**His top choice? Persephone. Really.

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

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

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)
  • 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?

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.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! Costumes? Candy? This is seriously one of my favorite holidays! Being 6 months pregnant, sore, and exhausted has made me tone things down quite a bit this year so we skipped hosting our usual Halloween party and didn’t do a family theme costume.*

I did put together a costume for Wesley though! He’s still a little young to fully understand Halloween so I wasn’t really able to get an answer to a general “what do you want to dress up as” question.  He has been more interested in dinosaurs and dragons lately so I asked him if he wanted to be a dinosaur or dragon and he happily replied “Dinosaur dragon!” Yeah, ok kid we’re just gonna pick one since a dragon is more or less a dinosaur with wings. Later he changed it to dragonfly (which I still came up with a plan for) then changed back to dragon before I got started on anything.

Yup, kiddo has a hoodie on under a hoodie.  That’s a Minnesota Halloween for you…actually given that he didn’t need a snow suit it was pretty warm Halloween. I put on a jacket as soon as we had snapped this picture.

They did some Trick-or-Treating at daycare and then we took him down the block later in the evening.  I wasn’t sure what he would think of it, but he LOVED it!  He even got pretty good at saying “Trick or Treat!” and “Thank you!”… with a bit of prompting.

His costume was pretty simple to put together since it was just a hoodie with a bunch of stuff sewn onto it.

Step 1: Plan your design

For a dragon costume, I wanted spikes running down the back, a tail with spikes, wings, and a contrasting belly patch.  I figured I could easily put it together with a few sheets of felt and some jersey that matched the hoodie.

Step 2: Get Distracted by all the awesome costume fabrics

I went to Joann’s to pick up some jersey and felt…. but then I saw all the amazing, shiny, costume fabrics they had out for Halloween. I found a scaley pattern that didn’t seem to fray and a coordinating iridescent fabric that I figured I could just glue onto felt for the spikes. I wasn’t deviating that much from the plan, just a little extra gluing.  Easy-peasy, right?

Step 3: Immediately regret your life choices

Wrong. The damn iridescent fabric proved impossible to glue. It was also an acetate sort of fabric, so iron-on adhesive or stabilizer was out because there was a good chance of melting.  I briefly considering sewing triangles for the spikes out of a few layers of the shiny fabric, but that would have been a PITA as well.

Step 4: Cut your losses, return to your original Plan

Back to Joann’s I went… for the felt I originally planned on.  I got 2 sheets of a stiffer green felt for the spikes and wings, 2 sheets of a contrasting standard felt for the belly and underside of the tail, and 1 sheet of black adhesive felt for some contrasting details (wing bones and belly scales). I lucked out and found a pack of super-awesome stick-on dragon eyes, but you could use large googly eyes, or even some black and white felt.

From there I cut out some pretty basic shapes and hand sewed everything to the hoodie. If you want to make it even easier you could glue everything (although I’m not sure how well that would work for the spikes) or use an iron-on adhesive (ditto). The tail consists of 3 triangles (2 gray, 1 green to match the belly color). Spikes got sandwiched between the gray pieces and all 3 triangles were sewn together to make a cone shape.

My “costume” was even easier.  My original plan was bust out my brand spankin new Cricut and cut the dragon embryo design out of glow in the dark vinyl (nothing iron-on since I wanted to be able to peel it off the shirt later). Well, time got away from me so I ended up printing the pattern on full-sheet label paper I already had on hand and sticking it to my shirt. It’s not super solid, but it got me around the block.


* Matt may be thankful for the last part