Mar 3, 2015

Peeking out from under my rock

Last Monday I started feeling kind of weird. Last Tuesday I uttered the words, "I think I might be coming down with something."

Last Wednesday I was definitely sick but thought it was probably just a bad cold. Last Thursday I went to work and made it half a day before my manager asked me to leave. I don't think I've ever been ASKED to leave the office before.

I went straight to the doctor, tested positive for the flu, and that's pretty much all I remember until yesterday. I literally didn't leave my bedroom for four days. Even yesterday, I only managed a couple of hours in the den. I still haven't smelled fresh air.

Do you know what this means? I haven't been to the new house in a week. I haven't even talked to the contractor. If you know me at ALL, that alone tells you how sick I've been. I'm very anxious to get over there and see what's happened over the last week.

One thing that's happening right now is that we listed The Bed (you know, the one the previous owners left behind?) on CraigsList. And it sold.

It's currently sitting in pieces upstairs at the new house, and hopefully Grayson's going to meet the Really Nice Not Creepy Non-Serial-Killers tonight to load it up in their truck. Fingers crossed.

The last time I was at the house, I took these shots of progress. The master bath had been demo'd and it was pretty much an empty shell.

It's going to make a huge difference with the shower being more open with half-glass walls instead of being completely enclosed.

Elsewhere, they laid the hardwoods on the main floor, and they look great. Here's a spot where the den meets the kitchen -- where carpet used to meet hardwood. Once everything is sanded and stained/refinished, it will all match.

The sight of those wood floors makes my heart go pitter-patter.

They run down the hall to what was a linen closet (I guess), but I'm turning this into our wireless hub/electronics closet. We're running electricity to it, and our router, modem, wireless printer and all the related cords and equipment are going in there. I'm venting the doors so it won't overheat. We're hoping that having the equipment centrally located in the house will give us better coverage for everyone's devices. (And I want it out of sight.)

The guest bedroom got its pretty new floors ...

As did the master bedroom.

And upstairs, they ripped out all of the stinky old carpet. (New carpet is going in up here, not hardwoods.) This is Nick and Jake's room, where The Bed used to be.

This is Amelia's room ...

And this is Nathaniel's room.

Other than that, the biggest thing I noticed was that they'd removed the old brass doorknobs, which I plan to replace with aged bronze ones. (They will read as black.)

Hopefully I'll be able to drop by later this week and see what else has happened! BECAUSE YOU KNOW IT'S KILLING ME.

Feb 27, 2015

A peek at the new kitchen design

Sorry I've been largely absent this week. If you don't follow me on Twitter, you probably don't know that I just tested positive for the flu.

THE FLU! For which I got a preventive shot.

This is what's known as Winning At Life.

Anyway. There's been a lot of progress at the house this week, but I certainly haven't been able to document much of it. I did go over there one night early in the week -- before Death Himself joined my party -- and take a few cell-phone pictures, but they're going to have to wait until next week. Too much work for my feeble body at the moment.

However. What I have to share with you today is arguably BETTER than progress pictures. Because it's a peek at my vision for the new kitchen.

I wasn't planning to share this with you guys, not because I don't love you or anything, but because it's sort of a middle step and there's no PHYSICAL progress to share with you yet. But then I thought, "Why not? I got excited when I saw the drawing, so maybe they will, too!" The worst you could do is tell me you disagree with all the choices I've made and try to get me to change my mind. (Not gonna happen.)

So. To refresh your memory, this is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house:

And here is the rendering of an APPROXIMATION of what it will look like when it's complete:

I say "approximation," because the lower cabinets will be a slightly darker shade of grey, the walls will be a (probably) grey-blue and the backsplash will be completely different than the subway tile you see there. I've chosen almost a basketweave backsplash in Carrera marble, but they didn't have anything similar to drop into the drawing, so we went with a plain subway tile. My floors are going to be stained much darker than these, too.

I chose Mississippi Riverbottom Pine as the material for my range hood, which I'm supposed to go pick out next week. A white hood is standard with the cabinets, but I have my heart set on natural wood. I think the combination of the two-toned cabinets, natural wood and backsplash going up to the ceiling on that wall will be a beautiful focal wall in the kitchen.

They aren't dropped in on this version of the drawing, but three simple corbels will be installed on this side of the peninsula, under the countertop, to finish off the look ... one at the far left, one in the center and one on the far right. They'll be painted the same color as the base cabinets.

Trying to think if there's anything else ... I don't know. Any questions?

Feb 24, 2015

Before & After: the kids' bathroom

This isn't actually going to be much of a Before & After.

Reason being, I wasn't even really thinking about it when I started. I'd already taken everything off the walls, made a complete mess of the countertop and even started cutting in around the door when I gave the first thought to taking any Before pictures for you.


I've been so consumed with the new house that I forgot that you might care about anything I'm doing around HERE.

Basically, when I asked my neighbor Stephen to install a new hotel shower rod for me a couple of months ago, that necessitated a touch-up paint job. But of course I decided that I didn't want to just touch it up ... I wanted to update the color completely.

Here's what it used to look like:

It was kind of a Wedgwood blue? I don't know. At any rate, it had been that color -- a really saturated blue -- for 15 years. It was past overdue for a change.

I wanted to try out Ben Moore's Palladian Blue, which is a great blue-green that reminds me of spa treatments. Great for bathrooms and laundry rooms -- the two areas where I'm planning to use it in the new house.

The main reason I wanted to lighten it up a little is to make the room feel bigger. It's not a small bathroom, by any means, but the darker color made it feel smaller than it is. The other reason is that I wanted to use a cooler color that works with the new palette in the house. Palladian Blue fits the bill.

So here are some VERY rudimentary Before & After shots taken with my phone:

And here's one more that's a good view of what greets you as you walk in the door to the bathroom. To me, it's just a much more calming view. I used to have a valance hanging from that white rod, but I couldn't find a cute one to match the new paint, and I don't want to pay to have a custom one made at this point. Still, the rod is plain and matches the trim in the room, so I'll leave it up for the future buyers.

Nick has since deemed their bathroom "ugly" and Grayson says the old color "had more personality."


Feb 23, 2015

Our Kids Mercedes Marathoner!

On Saturday, Jake (our ardent Participator In All Things) ran in the Kids Mercedes Marathon. In the months leading up to the Mercedes, while adults are training to run the full 26, kids who register for the kids' version work on running a total of 25 miles. Then, on race day, they all run the last mile together.

All of the 1st-graders wore blue shirts. (I think 5th-graders were in black, 2nd-graders were in white and kindergartners were in red. Not sure about the others.)

The race took place in the middle of downtown Birmingham, and we arrived a few minutes before Jake's grade was assigned to line up at the Starting Line. (There was a staggered start to accommodate all the runners.)

Once I got him through the chute and headed toward the Starting Line, I looped back around to try to make my way over there, myself.

Even though this was only the 1st-graders -- and they were the second-to-last group to run -- it was still kind of a mob scene. Jake looked so little standing there at the back of the line of 1st-graders.

They moved them up group by group, starting them in waves so there wouldn't be a stampede. (Parents aren't allowed to run with their kids, so there are just a lot of little people running out there.)

After waiting and watching for several minutes as group after group of 1st-graders took off, Jake's wave finally got to move up to the Starting Line. (He's almost in the center of the picture below in the navy and royal striped cap.)

Then the race monitors raised the banner and it was their time to go!

We turned around and immediately headed back across the park toward the Finish Line.

We knew that Jake had been in the last group of 1st-graders to take off, so we knew we had plenty of time ... but we weren't sure exactly how long it would take him to finish.

We watched what seemed like THOUSANDS of 1st-graders complete the last hundred yards of the race.

They just kept coming and coming ... and coming.

The occasional kid would slap fans' hands as he ran by. It was adorable.

Amelia was less than impressed by the entire spectacle ... as it turns out, she was working up to a fever and stomach bug, but we didn't know that at the time.

Nick was really kind, just doing what was asked and cheerfully trying to figure out if and how there were any way he and Jake could possibly earn points in Minecraft in exchange for Jake's participation in the race.

Just when we thought we couldn't wait any longer, the race emcee announced, "And the dogged Jake H____ crosses the Finish Line!"

He waved at us as he chugged by, determined to cross the Finish Line and get a drink as soon as possible.

Immediately afterward, we met Jake at the pickup area where they had funneled the kids out into corrals, sorted by the last digit of their race numbers. He was so excited about his new medal!

Jake signs up to do virtually everything that's available to him. He cracks me up ... I don't know what made him want to run the Mercedes, other than the fact that it exists and someone told him that he could.

Do you have kids? Do they participate or do they lay low?
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