Tuesday, March 31, 2015

News and Reviews

Get ready, everyone, tomorrow is April 1st.

Just to get you in the mood: April Fools Pranks (the Walmart prank!!!)

When there is no place to go. 

Have an outdoor cat? It needs this. 

Pilot proposes mid-flight. 

The radical political implications of spending time outdoors. 

I pay for my parenting mistakes in kisses.

The craziest video you’ll see all week. 

My sister-in-law got me turned onto TheSkimm, a daily email newsletter that covers world news. Love it.



Bathroom progress

Sometimes I wonder if the other parents at preschool notice that I wear the same ratty pair of yoga pants all the time, or if I have paint on my nose and dust in my hair when I come to retrieve Ben. 

I'm definitely not winning any awards for most put-together, that's for darn sure. 

But my tile project is humming right along, so that's a plus. 

I was so anxious about this project due to the massively wonky walls. And the fact that our tub is almost two inches lower at one end. And the giant holes that needed to be patched. And the waterproofing material that needed to be added to protect the old plaster walls. And my limited tile experience. 

So, there was a lot to worry about. 

But I'm learning and making progress and best of all, I'm done except for two more sections of grout. 

One step closer to having my bathroom back!


Next up: wall texturing, painting, vanity install, toilet install, tub refinishing...

Ugh. We're just going to stop the list right there as its length thus far is too depressing. 

Shall we take bets to see if I'm finished by December?!

Monday, March 30, 2015

New Hike!

This weekend we went on what is now my most favorite hike. Drum roll, please!

Ashland Lakes off the Mountain Loop Highway. We only made it as far as the oddly-named Beaver Plant Lake but it was terrific.

It’s 3.8 miles round trip (with a tough-ish last 0.8 mile up to the lake) but the lake was gorgeous and the trail had streams, bogs, boardwalks, and bridges.

Plus we saw frogs and frog eggs which always makes for an exciting trip. Ahem. For the biologists and the four years olds of the family.

We also got to check out the group campsite that we reserved for this summer with a gaggle of families near the Big Four Ice Caves. Let the mayhem commence!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Alligator Boys Go To Alaska

Alligators are my son’s favorite animals. Snapping alligators, he’ll specify. And from the very beginning he has dubbed both himself and my husband (his father) The Alligator Boys. It’s been this way for years. Occasionally I get to be an honorary alligator but typically I’m excluded from the reptilian posse. And for the past month it’s been: “Sorry Mama, but the Alligator Boys are going to Alaska and you can’t come”. I’d put on a sad face and pretend to be disappointed.

But if you’re (or have been) a parent to a wild toddler, you know that ten days worth of peace and quiet are priceless to a sleep-deprived mama.

Can't go to Alaska?


‘Cause the Honeybadger Girls are going to be enjoying life, let me tell you.

Let there be no mistake: I love Alaska. I love visiting, I love seeing family, I love the gorgeous scenery. But nothing can beat a little down time right now; it’s been a long year.

Normally I’d be green with envy seeing fun pictures like this:

And this (Ben’s first ski lesson):

But I happily plowed my way through five books, stayed in my PJs all day, ate cereal for dinner more  than I should of, and in general had a delightfully introverted week. My Papa was also staying at the house so that was a pleasant interlude to our quiet days.

Unfortunately the Alligator Boys caught the flu or a bad cold (or a combo of the two) on their first full day in Anchorage so they ended up having a rough stay. Being sick away from home is no fun. Fortunately they were in the best possible away-from-home location (my in-law’s house) and there was plenty of TLC, hot tubbing, and hot cocoa breaks. And the Alligators Boys are nothing if not tough so they rallied for a spot of ice fishing:

Ben is still waxing poetic about his tasty salmon, the water slide park, and the BIG, SCARY, AWESOME skiing hill. 

Frankly, I’m not entirely convinced they were even sick, based on the number of activities they did. 

I’ll admit that there are times when I’ve yearned for those quiet early days of parenting. Toddlers, particularly of Ben’s temperament, are all about movement, interaction, loud noises, and incessant talking.

Emma is currently working on her walking and babbling, which proceed at a slower and quieter pace. It’s a lovely change.

We took long naps and played in the yard. Bailey snored away next to us. Spring has come to Seattle; we’re soaking up the vitamin D, listening to the renewed bird chatter, and watching the plants awaken. 

I also was able to tackle a few house projects: painting the basement stairs, 

and doing a bit of tile work in the upstairs bathroom. More to come on this later. 

Amazing how much you can get done with just a wee babe to care for.

But our boys came back into town on Saturday night and once again the house is ringing with laughter and we’re glad to have the family back together. Ben is taller (I swear it!) and ran into my arms and promised that I, too, get to go to Alaska with them next time. And Emma made sure to show off all her new tricks, including her ability to clear her plate in two second flat by expeditiously dumping it on the floor. 

And the standing thing, which is a nice little feat for our baby girl. Walking is just around the corner.

In the meantime, I’m thinking of purchasing tickets for the Alligator Boys to go to Alaska next year, as well.



Friday, March 13, 2015

News and Reviews

Seattle Peeps,

My friend Melinda has a photography exhibit up at Core Gallery in the Pioneer District. I am determined to make it down there before it closes on March 28th.

Where does your food come from? For one outdoorsman, road kill is his only red meat. 

One time right after Ben was born, I nursed him in the bathroom at Costco because I didn’t know where else to go. Never again. After that, I headed straight for the outdoor section and their comfy patio chairs. Love this mother’s take on breastfeeding in the bano. 

I adore zoos. They are one of my favorite places to take the kids. But...ethics. Is it time to put zoos out to pasture?

Before I Go: Time warps for a young surgeon with lung cancer. 
That message [to his baby daughter] is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.

This week Ben is in Alaska with his grandparents so we are going to spoil our little Emma silly. Today she cuddled with Bailey, learned how to crawl down stairs, and made herself cosy in Benjamin’s bed. 

I have a few projects, including the assembly of Em’s Baby Book and tiling of an upstairs bathtub. It’s a big job and I’m a wee bit nervous. 

Have a great weekend. 



Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Finished: Laundry Room

 We are calling this project DONE. Whoo to the hoo hoo. 

This is a smallish room so picture-taking is difficult: here’s a weird panoramic picture for ya. The entry is on the left, right next the wall of shelves.

Here was the plan:

Let’s go back a few years to when we bought the house:

April 2009: old plumbing, concrete floor/sink/walls, and one lone ceiling light.

Here is the view looking the other way.

We were originally going to keep the full size fridge and do counters on two walls, making a horseshoe shape. In the end, we settled for a “L” to give us a bit more wiggle room.

2013: Note old lighting and plumbing. We tore out the wall between the laundry and bathroom as it was rotted. Easiest demo ever.

Following demo, it was time to build out the walls and construct a new sub wall on the north side. Chris is now a pro with the concrete drill and nailer.

Then our plumber and electrician went to work. They were fantastic.

Electrical work was followed by several weeks of shimming walls and preparing for the drywall guys. This is a tricky basement to finish. Our house was constructed 83 years ago and has settled a fair amount in that time, meaning that walls and rooms aren’t quite square anymore. This is typical of old houses and it often calls for some creative remodeling processes.

Following drywall, it was time for paint. We picked a neutral grey, in an effort to keep the space light and airy. 

And I got to work on the tile floor. 

I don’t love my tile selection. Wish I’d gone with more of a grey, rather than a beige. Live and learn. Tiling was actually kind of a fun process!

Now it was time for our build-out. We were finally ready for cabinets. We went with Ikea, as the cost was reasonable and we weren’t picky about the style. 

It was a bit of an adventure as Ikea was discontinuing their entire line of kitchen cabinets (in favor of a new version that was recently released) so we had a lot of trouble as items were sold out or unavailable in our local store. I had originally planned on a smaller sink cabinet and a nice bank of drawers but that wasn’t in the cards due to a rapidly diminishing inventory so we switched things around and made do with the cabinets that were left. All items were marked down 10%, so we were pleased to have a working solution and save a bit o’ money in the process. 

A word of advice: when pulling cabinets from the shelves at Ikea, don’t have a baby strapped to your back and bring a lifting buddy. And a truck.

It may not look like much but this ones the craziest jenga puzzle that I’ve ever done. And this was only two cabinets! Good job subaru. 

Let the cabinet assembly begin.

“Wrapping” the washer and dryer in wood counters was a pain but worth the effort. It gave us more counter space over the machines and creates a slightly more polished look.

Counter, sink, and faucet are all from Ikea. Thus far I like the counters and faucet but feel the sink could use some improvement. It has a practically flat bottom so water doesn’t drain so well, leaving water deposits on the lovely shiny surface.

As you see, we went all out in the art department. Kidding. That’s an old nautical chart that I salvaged from my craft bin; it makes great wrapping paper normally. I ironed it in an attempt to get a few of the wrinkles out and it worked, sort of. The middle crease is still noticeable but I’m too lazy to care at this point. The price was right.

The wrapped counter detail. Ikea makes wider butcher block countertops, so that the tops of the machines would be completely covered, however they only come in the 73” length, not the longer 98” length that was required for our space.

The clothes drying bar.

And no room would be complete without a secret feature! Here is our hidden water shut-off access door for the machines.

In hindsight, I wished we’d torn out the shelving unit completely as it’s not in great shape. Or we could have simply drywalled over it, losing the space but creating a more polished room. I told Chris I was going to buy one of those fake (full-size) skeletons that adorn most biology classrooms and curl it up on the middle shelf before closing up the drywall. You know, a nice little surprise for the demo team that will one day (long after I’m gone) demolish this house.

Best practical joke ever.


I think we’ll have to chalk that one up to my weird sense of humor.

Alright peeps, that’s a wrap.



Electrical - Stephen Jenkins (highly recommended)
Plumbing - Bill Arnold (highly recommended)
Drywall - TLC Drywall
Cascade Window and Glass - Attila (highly recommended)

Walls: Benjamin Moore Light Pewter
Trim: Behr Polar Bear (white)

Ceramic tile: Home Depot
Trim: Home Depot

Cabinets: Ikea (no longer available)
Sink: Ikea Double Boholmen
Faucet: Ikea Elverdam
Counter: Ikea butcher block (similar)

Monday, March 02, 2015

News and Reviews

My Dears,

Happy Monday. If such a thing is possible.

While awake this morning at 3am I continued reading Unbroken, the biography of Louis Zamperini: an Olympian, a castaway adrift at sea after his plane crashes into the Pacific, and then as a POW in Japan during WWII. The experiences described in the book, specifically his tale of survival following brutal treatment by his captors, makes for a gripping, painful tale. The movie got moderately awful reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (I haven’t seen it) but the book is worth your time.

Here are a few other items of note from around the world this week:

Presidential Fun Facts

What Happens to a Woman’s Brain when She Becomes a Mother

Mapping Migrations in the United States.

Dave Barry: The Greatest (Party) Generation

Getting Grief Right

The Cure for Measles

Love this recent blog post about the unusual middle name trend

What Men Require To Live A Happy Life

Inside America’s First Women-Only Mosque

Solving a Museum’s Insect Problem with Legos

The Latest Food Trend

The God of Cake (Hilarious)

I rarely take the time to watch videos..but this one is worth it: Finding Love after a Heart Transplant

Guys, are you part of a local Buy Nothing group in your area? We are...and I love it. Clothes, baby gear, children’s toys, etc. It’s awesome.  Here is an article from one not far from us. 

Saving the best for last:

I Love Anna Kendrick’s Twitter

Monday, February 23, 2015

For sale

My mom was going through her parents’ old family photos and ran across this newspaper clipping announcing the sale of their San Francisco house for $16,500 in 1951.

Here is a screen shot of that same house today:

I wish my Nana was around to see the current photo. I have a feeling she would have disliked the brown. I’m sure the present valuation would have shocked her too: almost $1.4 million. Yowza. 

I guess I can’t complain about Seattle real estate; we don’t even compare when it comes to San Fran.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ben’s 4th Birthday: Party Details

Have I told you what good sports our family is? 

Exhibit #1:

Not only do they graciously help us celebrate our two wee tykes but they willingly embraced the whimsical toddler activities.   It reminded me of my second grade teacher Mrs. Roarback who came to my birthday part and then gleefully participated in the high heel relay races. 

[side note: how is it that none of us broke ankles participating in that particular stunt?!]

But back to the family: I think I’ll keep them. 

And they make quite fetching woodland wolves:

I'm especially partial to this one:

The forest gnome. Awesome sauce, peeps. You totally need this one at your next wedding photo booth. Robbie looks quite dapper, no? The jaunty bow tie makes the ensemble. 

The birthday boy doing a little ice cream cranking. 

Hedgy the Hedgehog! In all his glory. 

He is directly modeled off of this terrific version, available from Etsy seller Wunderlandhome.

I feel like he’s got his arms out, saying: “No!! Stop, do not smash me to smithereens!"

Sorry Hedgie, no mercy today, even after all that work. sniff.

Never get between a boy and his candy. 

Cake topper and invitation:

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow that candle out:



Resource List:
Invitations: The Pear in Paper (I cannot rave about this Irish artist enough. She’s so fun to work with)
PiƱata Inspiration: Wunderlandhome
Party Masks: The Quirky Quail
Birthday Shirts: Say It ’N Stitches