I Promise This Long Post About the Holidays is Worth It...

Every year the holiday lights on our street make me happy. I love that people come from around our town to visit our street and see the display. It makes me feel such a sense of pride. The fact that our street has been lighting up for the holidays and stringing lights from house to house since the depression is just so cool. I love participating.

And of course we've been getting ready around the house for the last couple of weeks. Naturally Zoe needed to help unload things

Chris got on the extension ladder to hang the lights. I can never do this because I'm afraid of heights and just looking at him get up so high at the tallest point of our house makes me want to throw up

Last year our house looked like this

And although I didn't get the window paper up, or the star light in the big window, all the wreaths are up, the outside trees are decorated and Zoe even decorated one of the bushes. What a helper.

And of course, the street looks wonderful as always

There are actually a number of houses that don't have lights this year, and that makes me a little sad. The first year we moved in, of the 60+ houses it seemed like only 2-4 weren't lit up. Every year that number seems to get bigger. Whatever floats people's boats I guess. But I must confess I just love the look of each house with lights and the "friendship chain" of lights strung from house to house. It really feels like such an awesome community.

And, of course, Zoe visited with Santa at our street's tree lighting ceremony. And like many other children, Santa was very upsetting

With momma there (and a bribe from Santa of a candy cane) Zoe warmed up to him

Last year she attempted to reveal his true identity

We got a tree up in the house as well and Zoe had a lot of fun decorating with us

I have a confession - I've never been a huge Christmas person and actually really despised the holiday until about 6-7 years ago when my family fully committed to being non-traditional and celebrating however and whenever we felt like it. Sometimes, that means the beginning of December, or early January. Sometimes we go to the horse races. Or an amusement park and we open presents in the parking lot. We do it whenever it works for everyone's busy schedule and there's no pressure. We do something FUN. It makes you actually enjoy spending time together instead of feeling so much pressure to have the perfect holiday dinner, or whatever. On Christmas day Chris and I actually don't go anywhere. With divorced parents and divorced grandparents, Christmas was a train of visiting family member's houses for me and it unfortunately made things less enjoyable because it was so exhausting. I instituted the rule that we go NOWHERE on Christmas day and that our family just has to deal with it :)

We decided this year's holiday celebration on Friday was the perfect time for extra celebration with our family. We had brunch and a trip to a nearby mini-golf/arcade place planned. And Zoe wore a special shirt...

Yup, that's right - we've having BABY #2!

I know, insane.

But Chris and I liked the idea of two kiddos somewhat close in age, and so "little football" (as we've taken to calling it) will (maybe) make it's arrival at the end of June next year - due date 6/24/15. So they'll be just about 2 years apart.

We're super excited and had SO MUCH FUN sharing the news.

The plan was to have Zoe wear a sweatshirt over her shirt until everyone was at the restaurant, seated, had ordered and there wasn't anymore commotion. We took off her sweatshirt and waited till the first person noticed what her shirt said. My dad was sitting next to her and he said, "Big sister, big sister, big sister." BUT THAT'S IT. I looked at my brother (I had told him and his wife some days before) and we STARED at each other - HOW DOES DAD NOT GET THIS?! My dad said again, "Big sister, big sister - so what is that a hand me down?" And I just said "Nope." And then he freaked out, my step mom started crying, my mom had no idea what was going on and just saw my dad and Wendy yelling and Wendy crying, CBH was at the other end of the table and had no idea what was happening and me, Chris, my brother and his wife were all just laughing. It was hilarious. And quite a fun way to tell all of them.

After that we drove to Chris' mom's work to "drop something off" on Chris' way to LA. She didn't know Zoe and I would be there and so she got a fun surprise seeing us walk up. Zoe was sweatshirt-less and I set her down. She quickly ran past Lisa to frolic somewhere and she noticed the back of her shirt (because it was a baseball, raglan shirt I sewed the due date on the back like a jersey #). And she just yelled out, "WHAT'S 6/24/15?!" We just smiled and started laughing and she erupted in joy.

THEN Chris traveled down to LA to share the news (and help out on some projects) with the rest of his family. It was quite an eventful couple of days.

Meanwhile, Zoe and I had an adventurous weekend celebrating with my family and having lots of fun. Celebrating for Zoe means putting on everyone's shoes. Including my sister-in-law's heeled boots


Reindeer antlers are a must

Dance dance revolution is pretty much the funnest game ever for Zoe (and any car game). She was literally picking up our feet and putting them on the game to try and get us to all dance to the music

And every little girl loves hugs, kisses and sillies from her uncle

So, there you have it. Holidays 2014 - lights, celebrations and another baby on the way. Lots to be grateful for, and thank you to you for always celebrating with us :)


Week 12: Working on the Main Floor

First off, one of you patient readers commented on my post 2 weeks ago asking about what model of gas fireplace inserts we got, so before I forget AGAIN I will post this picture

It only took me 2 weeks to remember :)

Okay, so progress last week!

It isn't as eventful looking as the last 2 weeks, but there is certainly a lot of progress happening around these parts. The two layers of plywood went down Tuesday and Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday they just about finished installing all the hardwood on the main floor

Here's Wendy excited to check out the progress

On Wednesday our cabinet maker brought in the two kitchen cabinets to be installed (they were supposed to go in Tuesday, but the flooring guys were a day behind on the plywood so we had to push the cabinets by a day)

They installed the sink base cabinet and a cabinet for the end of the peninsula where my parents will be able to put cook books (there used to be a rounded cabinet on the end, but because we're using stone and not tile for the counters we can't have a rounded end of the peninsula, it needed to be squared off)

Here's the peninsula cabinet in place

We'll get a panel to put on the side of the cabinet so that it matches the rest of the panels that run along the back of the cabinets.

And here's the sink base cabinet

Oh, and you might notice another thing...the plywood went on and we're ready to template for the kitchen counters!

Things are really coming together in here! These are the drawer pulls we'll be using in here

found here

But we haven't figured out what we'll be using for the cabinet doors yet. We're also still on the hunt for the right color in this room too. I got another 5 samples and put them on the wall Saturday morning, but none of them looked quite right. So we looked through the fan decks and picked out another 7 (2 with Wendy and then another 5 when I got home from my Dunn Edwards deck). That will bring the grand total up to 18 samples in this room. Wendy and I might be a little crazy :) But we can't quite find the right color (the light changes around a lot in this room and one color looks brownish on one wall and purple on another).

The laundry room is being painted as well which requires A LOT of prep work because of all the cabinetry in here

Aaaand the last room with progress this week is the main floor half bath. We ripped out the counter and put plywood down for them to template on Thursday

Remember, this will be the piece of stone that goes on these counters?

So I went to the tile shop early last week to get some samples for the backsplash for this room

We went with the one on the board in the top left corner

The colors really complement the granite, and the tile has a pearl finish which plays well in a nice contrast off of the glossy granite. We also decided that we would tile up the wall in front of the sink and mount the mirror on top. That bathroom is relatively plain and boring, so we thought it might make it a little more exciting.

There ya have it folks! Hopefully the counters get installed soon. It won't be this week because the fabricators are super busy, but we're excited for when they will!


Zoe: 18 months

I'm back with a 3 month update for our little lady who officially hit 1 1/2 this past weekend. Here's her 16 month picture


17 months

And 18 months

with an extreme love of play doh
Oh Zoe girl, what a fantastic little kid you are growing up to be.

These last 3 months I would say the biggest change in Zoe is that Chris and I really feel like we now have a KID. Not a baby anymore, a KID. She has become so interactive, wants to hang out, wants to play with you, still wants to be around people so much - but just this aura of being kid-like. I can't really describe what it is, but it certainly is fun.

So let's see, what's she been up to these last 3 months?

The kid fucking LOVES water

"washing" her hair from the hose, duh.

One day while I was taking a shower she just decided to walk right in with all of her clothes on. Since then, if I tell her in the morning, "want to take a shower?" she RUNS into the bathroom. It's very convenient actually to have her hop right in there with me. She LOVES playing with the soap bubbles and frequently shouts "BUBBLES!" as they drop from the loofah. The kid can't get enough of a bubble bath either (but really, what kid - or adult - can resist a bubble bath?) Two nights ago we were in the backyard getting the recycling and garbage ready for pick up the next morning and we could tell Zoe would not be happy about having to go back inside because she was having so much fun playing, but it was getting close to bedtime, so I said, "Zoe, want to take a bubble bath?" And her reaction was straight out of a movie - she literally ran towards the door to go inside yelling "bubble!" and "bath!" alternately. It was hilarious. She could sit in a bubble bath for hours if we let her.

She still loves cars and can identify many members of the family by the vehicles they drive. When we're hanging out in the front yard some afternoons and she sees Chris' truck come down the street she screams, "DADA!" and runs towards his car. It's one of the more adorable things to see.

that's a book called "My Car." Obviously

She used to say, "CAR!" non-stop, but thankfully she has added a couple more moving, wheeled objects to her vocabulary (so we don't go insane). She now says car, truck, bus, bike and can identify a "choo-choo!" and just LOVES when she sees a BART train go by. She still says "choo-choo" and waves when she sees airplanes, but I think she doesn't understand the difference between the similar sounding "train" and "plane." So we're learning the sound a plane makes and will make it when I tell her, "Zoe, what does an airplane say?"

And speaking of talking - lord does this kid talk. I absolutely cannot wait till all sorts of funny shit comes out of her mouth once she starts stringing words together. She has started to pick up a lot in this last month or two and is probably up to about 50-60 words in her regular vocabulary. She's only strung 2 words together a couple of times ("Call Papa" was the first one). She really loves learning and she has magnet fruits and vegetables that my friend got her for her birthday and she LOVES to point to them and have us say what they are and she repeats them. Her word retention still develops, but she can repeat a lot right back to you - it's just a matter of how much that over-drive baby brain can remember.

She finds it especially hilarious when we get frustrated while driving (and if you know us, that occurs much more frequently with me than Chris). But any time we honk, or get mad at another driver or curse (under our breath...) she laughs and says, "more, more." The other day I called someone and idiot and she laughed and said it back. Chris and I both did a double take and started laughing, which made her think it was hilarious. Luckily she doesn't remember that word. Yet. :)

"Ow" is also the universal word for "something hurts, or is wrong, or is out of place, or for some reason I just don't like what is going on here." It's quite humorous. She knows it gets our attention when she uses it. Those kids are smart, I tell ya.

Reading is still one of her favorite activities and frequently she'll grab your hand (or grab you by the collar, another frequent way to get your attention) and lead you into her room so you can read her books to her. One evening a week or so ago she was trying to get me to play more with her and I said, "Zoe, momma is tired," so she took me by the collar, lead me to her room, plopped me on her bed (with my head needing to be on a pillow), took out her books and started "reading" them to me. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry because it was so sweet.

She loves to be helpful and is good at following directions. She helps Chris get dressed in the morning and will hand me items of clothing as I get dressed (after she tries to figure out how to put my bra on herself of course). But if we take the broom out and sweep, when we set it down she goes to get it and tries to sweep herself. We try to give her tasks when she gets in moods like that and tell her what a good job she's doing and how helpful she's being. She gets very smiley and claps for herself :)

She LOVES day care. She goes on Wednesday and Thursday and once Sunday hits she'll just randomly start saying, "Co-een?" or "May-een?" (for Colleen and Mary Ann) and "pla?" for play. It's sweet how much she loves to go and play with the day care providers and how much she likes all the other kids there. I love that now when I drop her off I say, "Okay, momma has to go to work now," and she just looks at me, smiles, waves and runs off to dump out all the toys on the shelf (the best way to play there is). Colleen said there was basically no transition at all for her because she did so well - that was definitely a super proud parent moment.

Her love for people and other kids is still very strong. Sometimes, if someone comes on a little too strong to her when she first meets them, she walks over and wants to nuzzle into our legs, or wants us to hold her. It's not necessarily shyness, I think it makes her uneasy or something. But about 80% of the time she just wants to say hi or maybe even give you a hug - a favorite to do at the park with other kids she meets and decides she likes. Or a penguin holiday light display on our street...

One day at my parents house the granite fabricator was over taking some measurements for an estimate and she just decided he was her friend so she walked up to him, said "Up" and he picked her up. He walked around working and talking with us while holding her for a good 5-10 minutes. And Zoe was happy as a clam.

I love so much how happy she makes people. It really is such an absolute joy to have strangers walk up to her and talk to her, engage with her and have her like them so much and play right back. Sometimes I'm drawn to certain kids when I'm out and about - there's just something cute, or silly, or engaging about them - and I'll wave or say hi and it's always sort of a bummer when parents get mad at you for smiling at their kid. It always makes me feel a little bad about myself - I'm not a monster lady, I just think your kid looks sweet and she's looking right at me so I'm saying hi. I like that Zoe says hi. That doesn't mean I'm going to let some stranger walk off with her (our society is WAY TOO FREAKED OUT about people kidnapping their kid and other over-reactions because of fear-mongering news). I think people need to ease up a bit. Someone joked with me a couple months ago that we treat Zoe like she's our 3rd or 4th kid because we let her do a lot, try things, etc. But I think it's really important for her to discover the world on her own. Even if she is only 18 months old. The sooner she figures out how life works, the better off she'll be - and I mean that with the most love I can hold.

"Dad wears a tool belt, so I must too."
Well, there you have it. The lady at 18 months. She's certainly our little adventurer - and I love her so much for that. Love ya you little rascal!


Week 11: Tile, Paint, Remnants, Floors!

I'm back on task with the weekly updates, hooray! And it's a good thing too because there was some great progress last week! So let's get to it.

One smaller piece of impact is now this wall looks like this

Which is pretty crazy because it once looked like this

In hindsight my dad wishes he had put another gas fireplace insert where this wood burning fireplace used to be. But at the time he wasn't really thinking he'd put in gas inserts in now, so we had already done the framing and run the gas line for the upstairs gas fireplace right through this opening. The nice thing about no fireplace going here is it is literally just about the only wall space on the entire first floor that can have a piece of artwork or furniture put against it (like a nice console or something). It definitely would have been nice to have a fireplace, but I'm not crazy missing one or anything (and btw reader CCS - I emailed my dad this morning for the gas insert model because I KEPT FORGETTING TO ASK whenever I saw him).

This week 2 rooms got painted also, the living room

Which was done in a super light, neutral Sherwin Williams Wool Skein.

Painting the fireplace stack Decorators White makes a subtle, but beautiful color focus

And Wendy has been scouring for sconces to put in here so we won't have those awful green ones for very much longer hopefully.

The dining room also got painted

And now that it's done and the ceiling is white (instead of awful cream) it looks awesome

Again, the light in here also needs to get switched out. And it would be easier to get a better photo if a stove, piles of tile waiting to be installed in the kitchen and a giant pile of hardwood weren't sitting in here. But this is a construction zone after all :)  The best thing about this room is the great glow of the city lights at night. I came by one evening once it was dark and the room was painted and all the city lights from downtown Oakland and San Francisco were twinkling and the room had a gorgeous glow. It was awesome. And the best part was that my dad loved it - and I really had to convince him to go with a darker color. Hooray!

What other amazingness is going on? TILE!

The thing I've been most impressed with with the tile setters is their attention to planning out the tile. Often an overlooked detail, planning the layout is SO IMPORTANT to the finished look of a tile job. You never want (what I call) a "bitch piece" on the ends, or in a corner. A "bitch piece" is a teeny, tiny little scrap that results in not laying out how you want the tile lined up. You want a pretty uniform look with substantial enough pieces on either end so that it doesn't look like it wasn't thought out. And our tile setter and his workers did a really amazing job planning everything out. It looks flawless.

And now that the floor tile is in the master bath and grouted, here is an excellent shot of it

It's got great subtle variation in color that gives it a lot of texture

And Wendy picked a grout that was similar in color to not take away from the tile's pattern. She really wanted the tile to shine and sometimes a contrasting grout can break things up a bit.

The master shower looks beautiful

The shower pan is the same tile as the rest of the floor, just a different size. I think it helps give a little visual interest, but not be so starkly different.

The bathroom is looking so beautiful. So light, and fresh, and serene. I love it.

The other upstairs bath is in the process of getting grouted

We're waiting on the tub detail tile which is on backorder, boooo. So until we get that, the tilers are at a standstill and can't tile the tub surrounds.

We also went to the stone yard on Saturday to pick remnant pieces for the main floor half bath countertop and the master bedroom fireplace hearth. We spent about 90 minutes because it was difficult finding stone they liked, but that also wasn't a giant piece of remnant so we didn't have to overpay for a large portion of stone we wouldn't be using.

The bathroom counter is roughly 3' x 2' and we picked this beauty

Wendy actually wanted this stone for the kitchen counters, but it was riduculously expensive, so it quickly got nixed. Instead, this remnant piece (it was about 4' x 3') was only $100, and she still got to have her favorite stone in the house. Win, win :)

For the fireplace hearth we got this stone

I'm not sure how much it costs because I was tending to Zoe when they were going over this one, but I assume it was a bit more (maybe in the $200 range) because it was a bigger piece. But the hearth calls for an almost 5' wide piece. We were looking for lighter pieces of stone at first, but then decided a piece with some darker colors in it because the walls are light, the fireplace stack is white, the tile surround is light, but the gas insert is black

oh sorry, can you see it through all the tile madness? :)
We didn't want the gas insert to feel so different from the rest of the room, so having the hearth have the mix of darker gray will hopefully bring everything together nicely.

Okay, and last bit of progress this week? Floors!

AH! The whole basement floor is done, and two of the bedrooms upstairs are done as well. By the end of the week they had put on the wood filler over the entire basement floor and were trying to install the flooring in the master bedroom but we aren't ready yet because we need all the tile equipment out.

Yesterday Chris, Zoe and I headed over to clear out most of the main floor to get ready for plywood to be installed. Plywood doesn't need to be installed anywhere else in the house because the subfloor is in great shape, but because the tile we ripped up on the main floor was set in an inch of mortar we need to build the subfloor up so that the new hardwood is at the same level as the existing hardwood on this floor. Zoe got in on the cleaning up as well

That fucking smiling face carrying a piece of drywall is so damn cute I almost want to cry :) She has a habit of making large grunting noises when we lift things that she perceives to be heavy. If you ask her, "Zoe, are you strong?" she does the same thing. She also likes to be helpful so we figured she could carry some of the smaller pieces while we took the bigger ones into the garage to make way for the plywood install. Cutie girl.

So that's the progress last week! I'm excited for what's happening this week: 2 kitchen cabinets are going in, the plywood is going on the main floor, kitchen templates are happening and some more paint. Ah! I can't wait for our special order and backordered tile to arrive so the tile setters can get back to work too. Three cheers for a house starting to come together! :)