So shiny and new!

posted by harlie in home, shopping

We have a new fridge! Whoooo!

Isn’t it gorgeous?

We always knew that we’d have to replace the fridge that came with the house. In fact, I’m shocked it lasted this long! Sure, it keeps things cold. In fact, I’ve discovered things with ice on them on the fridge side. The Mr tried hooking up the water so we could use the water dispenser and ice maker, but wound up flooding the kitchen. Best of all, some of the interior pieces are held together with duct tape. And not just any duct tape, FLAMING duct tape! Very edgy.

Also, it smelled like sour milk and rotted veggies when we first moved in. After a good cleaning and a box of baking soda, that wasn’t a problem anymore, but….ew.

It was such a comedown from the fridge we had at our last rental home: a 48″, counter-depth, side-by-side, built-in, gourmet Thermador fridge. That beauty was HEAVEN! The water dispenser flowed with filtered water! The ice dispenser crushed ice! I could store EVERYTHING in there and still not loose anything in the back of the shelves. Some day, when I have a gazillion dollars, I want one two of my very own.

Until then, I’m just really stoked to have a new fridge. I’ve never owned a new fridge before and, even after looking at every configuration, endless models, reading reviews, and pricing out different brands, I have to admit I was kind of hesitant about pulling the trigger. It’s a lot of money to put down for something that should last you 10+ years. What if the layout of the fridge annoyed us? What if the freezer wasn’t big enough? What if the computerized ice/water dispenser (they’re all computerish these days) went haywire and caused me to cuss when Lil’Man was sneaking up behind me? I told the Mr of my worries while we were in the truck, driving to Home Depot to make the big purchase. He looked at me a bit incredulously and, after a moment, asked me a question:

“Do you hate the fridge we have with every drop of your being? With, as you say, the flaming fire of a thousand burning suns?” (I may sometimes get loudly emotional about my appliances. And my hyperbole may tend toward the redundant.)

I told him that THAT hate was reserved for our washer, but the fridge was a close second. He assured me that whatever fridge we got, it wouldn’t be any worse than the one we have now. I smiled at him and sighed, but it did make me feel better.

We chose a French door model from Samsung. We picked the 3-door model with a water/ice dispenser, though we considered getting a 4-door model. The fourth door (a drawer, really) seemed especially convenient for storing the kids’ snacks and school lunch items, but I was concerned it was just a gimmick. Then, Lil’Man squished his fingers between the sliding drawers and it basically sealed the deal on NOT getting the fourth door. That kid will eventually slam his fingers into every door in the house, so I figure I’d save us at least one crying jag.

My favorite feature so far: the new fridge also has a door-in-door feature. It might also be considered gimmicky, but a small access hatch on the door of our old fridge was the one thing about it I liked — easy access to sodas, creamer for my coffee or even meds for the kids that require refrigeration. I was thrilled to find an improved, larger version of the little access door in new models. Plus, this fridge has an LED read-out telling us the temperature in the freezer and fridge.

So far, I’m loving it. The Mr and Lil’Man find the lack of magnetic-ness on the front a problem, but the sides are still magnetic and I like the reduction in clutter. The real trick with this new fridge will be keeping Lil’Man from constantly opening the freezer. Especially once he figures out how to get to the ice cream and popsicles.

Mmmmmm…ice cream…

Now, I’ve been so excited about the new fridge, that I almost forgot the crazy part of this whole shebang. The window behind the fridge. Yes, we have a window 99% obscured by the fridge. When we first saw the house, I couldn’t believe it was intentional. And then we got to see the kitchen remodeling plans where they have the fridge placed squarely in front of the window. That’s right: they remodeled the kitchen. And they chose to place the fridge in front of a window.

I’m still flabbergasted. Granted, in the plans, the architect called out for that window to be filled in on the interior and remain on the exterior (for visual balance), so it wasn’t completely bonkers. But somewhere along the way, they just simply left the window untouched. Now, I’m all for saving money and all, but I just don’t get that decision. This is a southwest facing window, so you have the sun beating down on the back of your refrigerator almost half the day. It’s not the most efficient fridge to begin with (I’m pretty sure it’s from the 80s or so) and making it work that much harder is just ridiculous.

We plan on doing a fairly complete kitchen remodel down the road and that’s definitely something we’ll change. Until then, we’re tucking some rigid insulation into the window frame. It’s not a perfect fix, but it should just about eliminate the extra thermal load on our new fridge. Our nice, shiny, new fridge! Excuse me while I go open the doors to admire it’s shiny, white, LED-lit cleanliness for a bit before we inevitably spill chili or ketchup or something in it.

† Oh my god, that THING! It’s actually #2 on my list of most hated. #1 is our stove, but that baby is a Wolf and should be fixed under our homebuyer’s insurance agreement. Actually, #1 on my sh** list is our insurance company that seems to be trying to get out of fixing the stove, but that’s a WHOOOOLE other problem. Anyhow, I think the washer hates me as much as I hate it. If you don’t push down on one back corner of the lid juuust right, it will fill up with water and just SIT there, pretending to have finished the wash, when, in reality, you’ve been soaking that laundry ALL NIGHT and can’t move it over to the dryer when you wake up. MWAHAHAHAHA! And the dryer? Also sucks…sometimes. It’s usually fine, but, on occasion, chooses not to dry things. That baby is #4 on my list. The dishwasher is #5, which I think is last since it does a decent job most of the time. We haven’t settled on their replacements yet, but soon. Well…soonish.

‡ They put a “pantry” where the fridge used to be, though they could have added as much or even more storage if they’d kept the fridge where it was and added cabinets under all the windows. Instead, they put in two open “desk” areas with almost no storage. It’s like they were trying to minimize their storage space AND their natural light.


Happy House-iversary!

posted by harlie in day-to-day, family, home

Welp, it’s been a full year since we moved into the house that made us homeowners.
12 months.
52 weeks.
365 days.
Lots and lots of hours, minutes and seconds.

After the craziness of the year, it definitely feels like home.  We love the community here. We’re still learning about the tri-city area, but we’ve definitely found some gems. Lil’Man and his dad have some favorite hiking trails. We have some go-to restaurants for different occasions. My husband and I love going to the local theater for date night (it’s an older theater with updated tech…win/win!). The playground at the local school is practically in our backyard and the larger town park is just a 15 minute bike ride or a 5 minute car ride. The local barber knows my guys and gives a treat to Lil’Man when he sits still for his haircut. We got family zoo memberships. The fire station is within walking distance of our house and Lil’Man has been to visit (what toddler doesn’t love firetrucks?). We’re recognized at the local hardware store and often I’m asked our our last project went.

Well, maybe that last one is an iffy-good thing, since we’re usually in there because something in the house needs updating or fixing. Little by little, we learned our house’s quirks and oddities while also changing things up and making our own mark here.  Painting walls, laying down rugs, hanging photos, playing with furniture arrangements…all the fun things you get to do when you move into a new home.  More importantly, we’ve done a lot to remove the weirdness and bad DIY that the previous owners inflicted on the house.  We haven’t gotten all of it by a far shot, but they were here for more than a decade, so there’s no way we could have fixed it all by now (not without the budget and labor force of a small country, anyhow).  So we have an abundance of home-improvement projects to look forward to in the years to come.

I don’t think we have a single room that I’d declare is anywhere near “complete” (a term I use loosely since I’ll eventually want to tweak even the nicest of rooms). In fact, some rooms still have MAJOR overhauls coming and we still have boxes of hardwood flooring for our stairs sitting in our family room. Which is annoying and absolutely my fault. I just need to call the contractor…ugh. Of course, non of that stops Lil’Man from racing me from the kitchen to his room (spoiler alert: he always wins) or our Little Lady from screaming in glee as she rolls around with her toys in the living room. They love snuggling in bed with us on the occasional Saturday morning and cozying up on the couch for storytime before bed. It’s obvious that the kids love our home and we love living in it with them. We’ve come such a long way from where we started.

Our main living area. Note the toys. In both photos. Usually they look like they exploded all over the room. We do tidy them up, but I don’t see any reason to hide them. Also, that fireplace is not only hideous (you really have to see it in person to appreciate it’s awfulness) improperly installed and a certified fire hazard (VERY bad DIY). We’ll be tearing that down and reworking the entire thing, hopefully sooner than later.

We’re planning on renovating the kitchen down the line, so we haven’t done much to it except paint and add shelves to the blank wall. Big honkin’ shelves. Thanks IKEA!

(I ran out of adorable candids to use for the before shots, so you’ll just have to settle for the realtor images from when we bought the house. Sorry!)

In the master, we mostly just painted and replaced the curtains (spider-egg remnants aren’t my thing). We think this might become Little Lady’s room down the line, so this can be the kids’ side of the house, but that’s another fairly big reno that will have to come after the kitchen reno.

Lil’Man’s room is still IP (gotta fix those curtains and work on the art), but he loves it and that’s what matters.

You can’t tell from this angle, but the dresser still isn’t done. Sorry grandparents! I promise I’ll finish it, Mom! We have to finish the lower drawers before she starts crawling anyhow. And the next ones up when she starts cruising. And probably the next before she’s walking.

Probably the most different room, since we’re using it differently than the previous owners. Who, by the way, never used that fireplace despite what that layout makes it look like. There was a mummified squirrel in the flue that fell out during our buyer walk through. *shudder*

Oh, and can’t forget the awful red laundry room. We still have a lot (A LOT) to do here, but at least the walls no longer look like they’re bleeding. By the way, that green tile? Apparently the previous owners felt they “coordinated” with the red walls.

So…yeah. There’s still a few rooms we haven’t touched, but slowly we’re making this house our home more to our liking. I just have to remember to enjoy it now and not keep thinking about the next project. So, I’m going to go look up cookie recipes with Lil’Man and see what he’d like to make this weekend. I think he’ll be into that.

† The zoo is not strictly in our city, but we’re pretty excited about it all the same. If you visit, we can take you to the zoo with us FOR FREE!  Really, we’ll take you to the zoo.


Long time, No see

posted by harlie in day-to-day, family, home

Hello. I know it’s been forever since my last update. So sorry I’ve been gone so long. I know lots of bloggers not only keep blogging through the birth of their babies, but actually live blog their labor (yo, Bower Power!). I am, obviously, not one of those bloggers. However, I have been staying very busy. Of course, is any parent with a newborn not busy?

Well, don’t want to bury the lead, so let me introduce you to the newest member of our family:

Our Little Lady was born Feburary 12th. Labor with her was completely different than with Lil’ Man, but overall, I’d say it was easier. She is perfect in every way. Surprisingly she was born with medium brown hair and blue-grey eyes — my money would have been dark, dark brown hair and eyes, like her brother. Her hair is getting lighter, but her eyes are slowly turning brown. My family has mostly has babies born with dark eyes, so I’m kinda fascinated with her changing eye color. I love that they look like grey or blue in some light and brownish in others.

Her brother adores her. I’m a little worried he might smother her with love. Literally. Yeah…he can get a little rough or overbearing so we have to keep a close eye on them, but seeing how protective he is over her is really heart-warming.

Unfortunately, we have had some health problems in the past few months. Little Lady had croup and bronchiolitis when she was only about a month old. All of this, plus a possible posterior tongue tie, was hindering her ability to breastfeed and she had some problems with gaining weight (a huge deal when you’re talking about newborns). We spent sometime in the ER. She makes hospital gowns look adorable.

Then, Lil’ Man caught a cough and his asthma started to flare up. Both of my babies were sick. They both were so tired, they fell asleep just about anywhere.

Thankfully, everyone is much better now, but it was a rough couple of months.

During this time, we still tried to get some stuff done around the house. It was tough and sometimes I forget how much we’ve done. We have an awesome California King bed frame in our master bedroom, rearranged bookcases from room-to-room, swapped in new doorknobs through out the house, and reorganized our broom closet with hooks and elfa door shelves. We also had the upstairs rooms and our blood-red laundry room painted to a more soothing palette of blues and greys. Oh, and we were are in the middle of potty training. Whoo hoo!

We haven’t finished the nursery — we have a bassinet in our room still — but we are still making progress and there are lots of home projects throughout the house we’re working on. I don’t know how often I’ll be posting, but hopefully more often than now. As it is, I have to run because someone just woke up from her nap and is demanding to be changed and fed.


Maternity leave

posted by harlie in day-to-day, home

So, I officially have started my maternity leave! In theory, maternity leave is supposed to be a time of relaxing and waiting for baby to arrive, but we have so much to do before that happens. I don’t know any mom who was able to kick back and read baby books while eating bonbons and sparkling apple juice (or ice cream and pickles…whatever your craving is today). It’s all about getting those last few things done before you have a new little person who needs you 24/7.

Happy MLK Jr. Day! It’s a holiday, which means Lil’Man’s daycare is closed. But it’s not a mandatory holiday, so the Mr has to go to work. So, really, my first day of leave is pretty unproductive, but I gotta say: Lil’Man was awesome. He’s in his terrible 2s stage and I was expecting a rough day, but he was great. I even took him out to eat lunch at his favorite place as a treat. The day was exhausting (most things are these days), but the Mr came home to a messy house — legos, throw pillows and laundry EVERYWHERE — but a pretty happy kid and mom.

This is when I started getting stuff done. The nursery is in dire straits — boxes everywhere, picture frames for the entire house stacked up along one whole wall, half the curtains draped over a bin full of wall paint samples, a new rug and pad rolled up and leaning in the corner, stacks of mail in need of sorting sitting on a console that needs to be moved the the family room…in general, it’s just a mess. On top of that, the room is missing some essentials: a crib mattress, a changing pad, and a diaper pail to list just a few things. So, a trip to Babies R Us was in order.

I was able to pick up most of the missing items. In an ideal world, Lil’Man would be potty trained and wouldn’t need his changing pad or diaper pail. But this isn’t an ideal world and we are in the midst of what looks to be a loooooong period of potty training. I know that some families manage to train their tot over one intense weekend (more or less), but not us. We are taking it a day at a time. He’s doing fine (he does better at school, where his friends are all training as well. Ah, peer pressure starts so early) but he’s not quite ready to ditch the diapers 100%.

Anyhow, we love the Diaper Genie we got for Lil’Man, so I got another. The changing pad we got him is great, but now that he’s so tall, he’s complaining about how short it is. I got a longer, 2-sided pad that I’m hoping he likes better. Then, we’ll swap the smaller one into his sister’s room. I also grabbed some crib sheets and a few cute newborn outfits that were on sale. Unfortunately, the scant selection of crib mattresses left something to be desired.

I really liked the organic mattress we’d gotten for Lil’Man and it’s held up really well. He’s still using it in his toddler bed and finds it suitable for his sleeping and jumping needs. I was pretty sure I knew the brand, but I wasn’t seeing it in the store anymore. I left without buying a mattress, but as soon as I got home, I checked Lil’Man’s bed. It was the brand I remembered (Stearns & Foster), but I also checked the manufacturer: Kolcraft. Turns out they make more than just S&F mattresses. I hopped on Amazon and found just the right mattress for my little girl: a Sealy mattress that was nearly identical to the S&F mattress, but for about 1/2 the price (more due to an Amazon discount rather than the actual retail). I ordered that, plus some NB diapers (because that was just another thing we were lacking).

I finally picked up a key piece of art for the nursery that I had decided to have professionally framed. I’ve used the company before to frame tons of stuff and never had a problem. For some reason, though, this print had gotten lost in the system. I sent it off and never heard from them — not even an invoice or bill, which had me particularly worried. I don’t know what happened, but after 2 months of speaking with them on the phone and meeting once with the owner face-to-face, they finally were able locate my print and get it framed beautifully.

After that, I spent the rest of the week keeping my prenatal appointments, attending daycare parent/teacher meetings, working on other projects around the house (like hanging some art in the kitchen and finally taking down the Christmas decorations) and running errands like returning a Nest thermostat (which the Mr had me buy on my way home when he mistakenly thought a contractor had broken ours), purchasing some hardware at OSH to update our doors, and buying ELFA for an organization project. I know that my two main goals are paramount, but there’s so much to do around our house that I can’t possibly ignore other little projects.


No more school, no more books!

posted by harlie in family, home

I start my maternity leave this week, so I finally felt like I’ll have time to get a few things done around the house. Most of my energy is focused on two key goals:

1) Get the new nursery in good order. Now, this doesn’t mean decorate…I just want to get the sucker livable for our baby girl. Decorating and styling would be a bonus at this point. Since moving in, it’s become a dumping ground for every box, frame and piece of furniture we weren’t sure what to do with just yet. I have childproofed the door because I don’t think it’s safe for Lil’Man to wander in there by himself — it’s that bad.

2) Make the offices/spare bedrooms comfortable. The Mr and I are lucky enough to have two spare bedrooms downstairs that we use as our offices (or man/woman caves, depending on who you ask). This is where our parents will be staying when they come to visit the newest member of our family. Unfortunately, neither room is very welcoming right now. That needs to change ASAP. Arrival dates for the grandparents have been set, so we’re on a deadline.

There are a slew of other, smaller tasks I want to complete, but 80% of my efforts will probably go toward these two biggies.

The nursery feels, simultaneously, somewhat urgent and not. This is because I know that newborns couldn’t care less what color their walls are or if they have the perfect room layout as long as they are warm, dry, fed and generally loved. Plus, we’ve discovered during this winter that the nursery gets COLD at night. During the day, it’s fine, but nighttime temps get to near freezing and that room does not hold onto heat. We think it’s a combination of a few things: it’s above the garage (which is basically a big, empty, cold space), the ceiling above it needs better insulation, and the windows are old and just plain drafty. We’ll obviously have to fix all this, but we can’t afford to do all that anytime soon. So, we plan to have our little lady stay in our room for a while. Lil’Man wasn’t a fan of his bassinet, but we’re hoping that his sister is more tolerant of sleeping in one. Hopefully, by the time she outgrows the bassinet, it will be spring and her room will be more comfortable. All that said, the nursery is in dire need of attention. Most of the stuff in there belongs elsewhere in the house (or even, in a garage sale or donation drop-off). Besides, it would be nice to be able to put her down in her room during the day, even if it’s too cold at night.

As for the spare bedrooms, both are packed full of boxes. The Mr’s room is in slightly better shape — we’ve had our parents visit and stay in that bedroom soon after we moved in, so it wasn’t as bad to start with. It’s accumulated a few more boxes recently, but the Mr is working on organizing all that and I’m letting him do his thing. My office, on the other hand, is a disaster zone. I haven’t organized a darn thing since we moved in or even emptied any of the boxes that the movers placed in that room. In fact, I’ve tossed a few more boxes and bags in there over the past few months which have blocked off any pathway through the room that might have once existed (this is a photo from before that happened). And thanks to said movers, I now have a broken antique desk that I still need to fix. It’s always needed a bit of love, but now it’s currently sitting in a corner in pieces, looking completely forlorn. My once beautiful desk is now filling the room with a vibe of hopelessness. Not good.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this week is the start of a whirlwind effort to get these rooms in shape and the house, in general, in a good state. I’m also hoping that this wiggly little kid in my belly doesn’t decide to show up too early and throw off all our plans. Wish me luck!

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