Home Renovation 3: New Sticks

One thing for sure about this home renovation project – it is completely messing with my sense of time. The past eight (8!) months have swept right by me. It doesn’t help that Chicago’s weather has been very kooky, with a long summer, mild fall, mild winter, and last week was more like May than February. So my inner clock is all messed up. But anyway, at the last update, yes, over four weeks ago, the first floor demolition was pretty well wrapped up. The project was on to the next stage: first floor interior framing.


“Great Room” and view of foyer/front door (will be drywalled)

It was fun to walk around the house and see it start to take some shape. The Architect and the Contractor warned me that the space would still feel small and out of proportion at this stage. They said it wouldn’t seem right until the drywall set the arrangement. The space did feel confusing, but it did not feel small to me. Because the framing was all sticks (okay, technically 2 x 4’s), all doorways were optional. So I kept walking into rooms and closets through the walls. Again, the space was just a bit confusing.

Kitchen View 1

Kitchen View 1

Kitchen View 2

Kitchen View 2

It’s always good to stop by the house and see progress. This is nice and dramatic. So a couple of details from the photos; the green behind the framing is foam board. It is mounted to our brick walls on furring strips, setting up an air gap to allow the masonry to breath. Spray foam will eventually go over everything, insulating the first floor way more than the original plaster & lathe + air gap insulation. And yes, those sticks are turned on their faces to minimize the loss of space in the rooms.

Looking in from the back porch

Looking in from the back porch

Some notes on this window opening.This was once a window opening that was filled with plywood when we bought the house. It was in our old pantry, so when we remodeled our back porch I installed a homemade blackboard for the girls. You can see how the masons squared off the top of the opening, removing the arch. Then they doubled the width of the opening. An open cabinet will be installed on the stone sill for books or maybe a television. The kitchen sink will be on the other side of the opening with an unobstructed view of the porch and into the backyard. This opening, coupled with the removal of our old kitchen door, will incorporate the back porch into the house and bring lots of sunlight into the kitchen area.

Now the first floor is framed and the structural supports are installed in the basement. The house is now ready for the second floor work. That’s where we’ll pick up the project next time. And I’ll try to get that up in fewer than four weeks!

What is that? The ground floor bathroom re-imagined

What is that? The ground floor bathroom re-imagined.

Thank You Dead Presidents

So today was President’s Day, which of course means no school! How did you spend your day? Did you talk to your kids about our country’s Presidents? Did you discuss the current state of affairs in Washington? Did you discuss “civic duty” and the importance of voting? We neither!

The girls both woke up with smiles and lots of energy today. Blame it on some late nights over the weekend, or maybe the 60º+ temperature in Chicago right now. So civics lessons were not on the agenda, but going to the park was item number 2! (There where a couple of things around the apartment that HAD to happen first).

We're off!

We’re off!

I tried to get us out as quickly as possible. The girls were ransacking rooms while I did silly things like dishes and laundry. We were rollin’ by mid-morning, with the day steadily warming up. It was a bit bizarre to head to the playground; 1.) It’s February and most playgrounds and parks are usually buried in snow, 2.) The entire park smelled like wet dog poop, and 3.) There was garbage everywhere (clearly a busy weekend at the playground). We didn’t let any of these things hold us back though, and the girls loved running all over the playground. They had the run of the place right until we were ready to leave.


Swings-always a favorite

We wrapped up playtime and enjoyed a much-needed snack. Then back to the apartment for a quick Paw Patrol episode (not a school day!) while I swapped car seats and laundry, then out again. We headed to the Buyos’ house for some lunch and a quick visit. The girls did well, until the lack of sleep turned them into drunken sailors whose ears stopped working. Time to leave.

When we got back to the apartment Wife was already home. This seemed like a bonus except that she was not feeling so well. That made for a quiet afternoon, yet still no napping. So after a solid dinner and bath both girls fell asleep without much drama. Overall, I fell way behind on my Monday routine when I usually put the apartment back together. But playing at the park, in February, was great (albeit spooky). And spending the days with my girls is always fun, even with a lack of sleep. I’ll add “making time for families to play together” to the list of great things that our past presidents accomplished. And Happy (early) Birthday President Washington.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Historically, I do not “do” Valentine’s Day. Long ago I bought cheesy trinkets that weren’t all that thought out,  or off-the-shelf random cards. Then Wife and I went through some years where we swore we didn’t celebrate this Hallmark Holiday (while enjoying Filet Minot on 2/14/XX, just like everyday people). Now, though, I do put in some effort.


Nothing says “love” like heart-shaped food!

See, our girls don’t know anything about commercialism and materialism. They know chocolate and pink and hugs. So we had heart-shaped toast for breakfast. The pear slices are…pears slices. But cut with love. And that’s how I’ll show all my girls today that I love them – with food. I have some fun ideas for dinner too, and okay, I admit I got wild so there are some flowers on the table.

I try every day to show my girls, all three of them, that I love them. But today is Valentine’s Day and food is what I’ve chosen to send this year’s “I love you” message. I hope you have a great day, and enjoy showing your loved ones how much you care.

Best Super Bowl Commercial

Everyone forms an opinion about the Super Bowl commercials, and I am no different. In the interest of honesty and transparency I want to admit that I did not watch the Super Bowl this year, so I didn’t see this commercial during a break. I was browsing YouTube last night and the Audi “Daughter” commercial played before a video. It happened with Wife shortly after and I was all, “Oh, this one’s really good.” It wasn’t until this evening that I checked online to see if the commercial was, in fact, from the Super Bowl spots. Oh, and to be clear, this is not a paid endorsement. We don’t own an Audi, and while I appreciate their fit-and-finish, we don’t have plans to buy one. I would happily test one as a family vehicle though (hint, hint).

I like this commercial because it talks about the gender pay gap in relate-able terms. I like it because it shows a father spending time with his daughter. And I like it because it offers a change to the current business reality. Oh, and I secretly hope to build soap box race cars for my girls one day. If you didn’t see it, check it out:


Love it? Hate it? What was your favorite commercial from the big game (whether you watched it or not). Leave it in the comments below.

Laid Bare

Does your child do this? Strip crayons of their wrapper; exposing the somewhat fragile, somewhat sticky inside, leaving piles of wax paper shrapnel in their wake? This is the Cricket’s latest thing.

Barin' it all

Barin’ it all

I would like to think a naked crayon has a better “feel” and allows her to better express her creativity. Yeah, I am sure her Picasso-esque piece is on its way. Or maybe she is developing her fine motor skills. Chime in Developmental Psychologists. Unfortunately, there is no room for naked crayons in our bag. Oh no, those buff colors are put in their own place for some soon-to-be-discovered awesome recycling project. Suggestions?

Un-wrapper Undercover

Un-wrapper Undercover