family fun · Homeschool · Independence · Kids · parenting

Day 179: Cliff Hangers (and hangers-back)

You guys, we climbed a cliff today. For real.

We took a day trip to Bruce’s Caves Conservation area. It was over an hour-long drive, but once we got out of the car and onto the trail, the excitement began. There were boulders of all sizes, many covered in moss, dotting the forest floor. E ran into the woods yelling, “EVERYBODY CLIMB EVERYTHING!”

Even she didn’t know how right she was.

When we got to the caves we wandered around until K and R saw a ledge they wanted to sit on. Mr. December held a flashlight for them while they climbed up. One by one we joined them, until we were all on the ledge. Then R wanted to get down and keep going farther from where we’d come in.

At first we were just checking out what was behind the ledge. They we “had to” climb a particularly fun-looking boulder. Almost before I knew it, we were scrambling up the edge of the cliff, using tree roots and cracks in the rocks as handholds. Finally we made it to the top.

The Bruce Trail runs along the top of the cliff, so we hiked along it for a while. Then when we turned around, Mr. December encouraged the kids to find a way down from the cliff. R and K shared leadership duties, taking turns scouting out the best route. Mr. December and I hung back to watch their decision-making process; and when we all got back to the main trail at the bottom of the cliff, we told them that they would lead us back to the car, too.

R and K made a very sensible decision: we’d walk back to the mouth of the cave, since they knew for sure how to get back to the car from there. Back we trekked. The kids ran back into the cave and started climbing, and Mr. December and I sat outside the cave and waited for them.

I have to tell you that there were moments during that hike where my heart was in my mouth and I wanted to scream, “STOP!!!” Although I talk a lot about letting kids take risks and get hurt, I’m generally thinking of city life and the miniscule risks children can take in their own neighbourhoods, like climbing up a too-tall slide or walking to the store alone to buy some milk. It was a lot harder for me to sit on my hands and bite my tongue when the risks were much greater and there was a real danger of tumbling fifty feet into a crevasse.

And yet the experience was so much more powerful because the danger was real. The hike wasn’t restricted only to the beaten path; there were no signs telling you not to climb the rocks; and there were no ropes or railings along the cliff’s edge. The obstacles were natural, real, and we conquered them. The kids planned, scouted, chose their approach, and then led us through it.

It was a powerful exercise in trust and leadership, one that I hope made as much of an impact on the kids as it did on me. If I had to have one takeaway from today, though, it’s this:

We climbed an actual, honest-to-goodness cliff. This family is so badass.

education · family fun · Independence · Keepin' it real · Kids · parenting · well *I* think it's funny... · what's cookin'

Day 174: KP

After our frustration with our children’s unwillingness to be helpful here, Mr. December and I decided to implement a better system than the one we have at home. No arguing about which chore belongs to whom: one person is on KP (Kitchen Patrol) for an entire day, and is responsible for preparing, serving, and cleaning up breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Halfway through day one of this new system, it’s working well in that I haven’t had to do much. N took his turn today because the menu consisted mostly of things he already knows how to make: oatmeal for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and chicken fajitas — which he doesn’t know how to make but is about to learn — for dinner.

Since it’s his first full day on KP, N has a few things to learn: you have to start cooking a meal for six people at least half an hour before you want to serve it; you have to unload the clean dishwasher before you can load the dirty dishes; and you have to set up and clean up while everyone else is out having fun. He tried griping about that last one, but I looked at him and deadpanned: “I have no idea what that must feel like.”

We brought a lot of food up with us. Mr. December has remarked several times that we have way too much and won’t finish it before the end of the month. He clearly doesn’t cook for the family very often; if he did, he’d know that it takes a whole loaf of sliced bread and two packages of cheese to make grilled cheese for the family. We brought six dozen eggs, which he thought was ridiculous. I broke it down like this: a dozen eggs is a single breakfast for the family (along with a whole loaf of bread for toast), or two batches of challah dough (we’re here for four shabbat dinners as well as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which means we could probably get by on three batches of dough.) I know there are people who buy those little half-dozen cartons of eggs, but we’re not them.

“Okay!” He says, with his hands up in a gesture of innocence, “But look how many different kinds of bread there are! There’s so much of it!” And then I tick them off on my hands: pita, one dinner (with falafel and salads); naan, two bags will take us through two dinners of tandoori chicken; those six bags of flour tortillas will go quickly when we use them for PB&B wraps, quesadillas, and fajitas. I give it two weeks before we’re down to our last bag of bread.

K has just come outside. “I’m hungry,” she announces to me.

I check the time. “Well, we can tell N that it’s time to start getting dinner ready.”

“But I’m hungry now!” she whines, “and I can’t go in the hot tub as a distraction because the water is a weird colour because you guys didn’t add chemicals to it last night. Can you do something about one of those problems?”

I sure can, I think. Tomorrow I’m instituting a new daily job: Hot Tub Attendant. And since K seems to know what’s needed, I’m nominating her.

community · Independence · Kids · parenting

Day 141: Who are the People in your Neighbourhood?

A few days ago Social Dendrite left a comment, asking:

How do you meet the local neighborhood friends? I’d really like this for our kids (now 7 and almost 5) but have had a hard time finding anyone. The few families I do know […] never seemed to be around. But I’ve seen loads of similarly aged kids around during the pandemic […] Did you approach the families, or did your kids make the connection somehow themselves? I remember when we moved house when I was about 7 or 8, my parents sent me and my older sister round by ourselves to knock on the door of a neighbor’s house that they knew had kids, to introduce ourselves. But that seems somehow weird in this day and age. Or is it? PS I’m an introvert so find this sort of thing difficult!

Well, I’m glad you asked. We don’t go to the neighbourhood public school, so we had to find friends in other ways. Here’s how it worked for us:

With K’s friend (also named K) I had met her mum when the girls were just babies. It’s easy to strike up a conversation if someone’s got a baby or a pet, so we walked together and chatted. Then she went back to work and we didn’t see each other much. The girls met a few years later at a neighbourhood day camp and became fast friends. We invited the little girl over for a play date in our backyard. The girls bonded instantly. As soon as they were old enough, we allowed them to go freely between the two houses (it was a 100-metre walk in a straight line) and the friendship was out of my hands. It’s been wonderful.

N met his neighbourhood friend through school. It’s not the local public school, but it’s relatively nearby and this boy was in the same specialized program as N — he just happened to live four blocks from us. Thankfully his parents (one of whom we had coincidentally met while waiting for our meeting with the school placement committee) also believe in free-range children, and soon he was ringing on our doorbell in the afternoons to play with N.

R met her neighbourhood bestie on the bus to day camp. I met this girl’s mom while waiting for the bus and we hit it off. The girls liked each other, we live just down the street from them, and that was really all it took for the girls to want to play together.

The story of E’s new friend is probably the one Social Dendrite really wants to hear. We didn’t meet her at camp or at school. I actually had met her mom ten years ago when she moved in. A few weeks back Mr. December and I were out for a walk and I saw her unloading her car. We walked up and I said, “I remember meeting you a long time ago and I just wanted to say hi. I’m Sara, by the way.” From there I asked about her children’s ages, and when she mentioned a five-year-old girl I said, “My youngest daughter is five. She’d love to have a friend on the street. We should introduce them.”

This neighbour responded enthusiastically and was soon telling me that since they don’t go to the neighbourhood school either, her kids don’t know anyone on the street. I promised to come by with E and introduce her later in the week, which we did. I exchanged phone numbers with the mom and texted her the next weekend with an invitation to come play in our backyard. As it turns out, we got along well and she’s easy to talk to. We share the same attitudes about being connected with our neighbours. The girls had a lot of fun and didn’t want to part. It was a promising beginning.

To read these stories you might think it all happened pretty easily. For the record, I’ve approached many of our neighbours over the years with disappointing results. There was the mom whose daughter was the same age as K but far more mature, and when we had playdates K was rather aggressive; I shied away from that friendship after a while. There was the family on the next block with a few boys, one around N’s age. After a couple of backyard visits it became apparent that the boys just weren’t really interested. Then there was the new family to whom we introduced ourselves while delivering a Purim basket. The mom opened the door just a crack and seemed hesitant to take the basket or to converse much. I assumed she was just not a neighbourly sort of person, and I respected that. We later met her very congenial husband and their son, who is just a bit younger than E, but the lack of warmth meant that we didn’t really pursue it.

And finally, there was Molly (not her real name.) I had introduced myself to Molly’s parents when they moved in about seven years ago. When I saw them out in the front yard last year, I re-introduced myself and asked the little girl how old she was.

“Four,” she replied.

“You know what? My daughter E is four, too. She’d love to play sometime if you’re around. Is that okay?” Molly and her mom agreed that it would be fine.

At every opportunity E begged me to go knock on Molly’s door and invite her to play. And we did — quite a few times. Somehow it was never a good time. Molly was too tired from school, she was napping, she was out with her dad — all very valid and real reasons why she couldn’t play. But after the fourth or fifth such encounter, I started to feel awkward. It was always us reaching out, never them. I was starting to wonder if maybe they were just not that into us. So after a while we stopped knocking. If they’re interested, well, they know where we live.

I guess the best advice I can offer is that you have to be unafraid of rejection. Or, if you are, and you live with your co-parent, get them to do it instead (that’s what I did.) And just in case you need them, here are some of my favourite opening lines:

“Hi, I don’t know you yet. I’m Sara.” The “yet” implies that getting acquainted is inevitable. No time like the present!

“Are you our new neighbours? I’m Sara. Ours is the big blue house.” It’s always a good idea to know who lives where, right?

“Your front garden is beautiful — my kids admire it every time we pass!” People love a compliment. Also, I’ve just signalled that I have kids. That’s usually enough for the other person to ask about my kids and tell me about theirs.

So there you have it — my guide to meeting the neighbourhood children. If you’re an introvert, find out what day camp the neighbours’ kids go to and sign yours up for the same one. If you’re okay introducing yourself, go do that. And don’t take rejection personally. Get out there, be friendly, and meet people. Your life will be richer for it, whether or not you find your child’s new best friend.

Independence · Kids · parenting

Day 128: The Dreaded Hair-Brushing

If you ask my mother, she’d probably say one thing that really drives her crazy about my parenting is that I don’t make my kids brush their hair. I can’t honestly say that I know the exact reason why, but I once quipped to my father, “The state of my children’s hair is not indicative of the whole of my parenting,” and he responded, “Actually, it is.” So maybe Mum’s reaction to it is along those lines… or maybe she just likes seeing her babies looking all sweet and clean.

I do, too, if I have my way, but it’s generally my parenting policy not to engage in power struggles on a daily basis (or ever, if I can help it, which I often can’t.) My rule for hair brushing is something along the lines of, “If you don’t want to brush your hair, then we need to cut it to a manageable length so it doesn’t get all matted. Your choice: brush the hair or cut it.”

(It’s important to note that I draw the line at matted hair. A few tangles, okay. But when my kid’s hair is starting to look like wannabe dreadlocks, that’s my limit.)

At various times K has decided to cut her hair rather than have to brush it every day. E’s hair is super long, but she’s okay with having it brushed. Even unbrushed, it takes a long time for E’s or K’s hair to mat. Poor R, on the other hand, has very fine hair that gets matted with the slightest friction — even a night’s sleep on her pillow will result in a mini-dreadlock right at the back of her head. She does brush her hair so it looks nice in the mirror, which means that the hair around her face is always smooth and shiny. I can’t say the same for the back of her head.

See that nascent dreadlock at the back? Neither did I.

Yesterday I failed to mention that while we were volunteering in the orchard, a cameraman showed up to get some footage for a CBC documentary about urban farming. It wasn’t until I saw the camera drone hovering over R that I realized she had some really, really matted hair. The look was beyond “personal bodily autonomy” and on its way to “Bob Marley” (which is a great look for Bob Marley. Not so much for R.)

So tonight I insisted that R take a bath so that we could detangle her dreads. Using my hands and half a litre of conditioner, I was able to untangle the locks — but it took me a good half hour to do it. Then I brushed it out and braided it. I’ve decided that’s the new rule: braid your hair before sleep, or cut it short. Daily untangling sessions are just not something I want to be spending my time on.

Now R’s hair is sleek, shiny, and in a beautiful French braid. She looks so sweet that way — I think I see what my Mum likes so much about well-groomed children.

I still won’t make them brush their hair, though. If the kids’ hair indicates anything about my parenting, it should be that I pick my battles very, very carefully.

education · Independence · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · Kids

Day 124: Deschooling?

I’ve heard from a few sources that we should take the time to “deschool” our kids and ourselves before we begin homeschooling in earnest. We’ve read many articles and looked at the reasoning, and I have to say that I’m not sure I see it. Not for three of our kids, for sure.

In part, the concept of deschooling relies on the assumption that our kids (and we, but let’s focus on the kids for now) have been indoctrinated by the school system and will need time to “deprogram” and to understand that learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom, with the learning schedule dictated by bells and a calendar. Fair enough. I would contend, however, that our kids were never really indoctrinated in the first place.

Take N, for example: at parent-teacher interviews we were told that he wouldn’t move on from one thing to the next until he was fully ready to do so. “He’s never rude about it,” his teacher said, “but when I say ‘hey N, it’s time to put away Math and take out Language Arts,’ he’ll say, ‘Okay’ and then keep on working on his math until he’s done.”

Mr. December thinks that the whole concept of deschooling relies on a straw man version of conventional school. To that I say, “Remember K and her jacket?”

One day last winter, the principal called me to say that she was having a problem with K not wearing her jacket down to the lunchroom; apparently the kids weren’t allowed to go back upstairs after eating lunch because there was nobody to supervise that process. The principal was at her wits’ end and wanted to know if I could help her deal with it. I was polite and supportive of the school, and since I’m in favour of natural consequences, I suggested that K should just go outside without her jacket. At the end of recess the principal saw K wearing her jacket, so it would appear that K sneaked upstairs and got her jacket before going out.

Part of me felt I should support the rules of the school and tell K off for doing what she did. The other (bigger) part of me agreed completely with K. Who wants to eat lunch while wearing a winter jacket indoors? And how ridiculous is it to tell a twelve-year-old that they are too irresponsible to retrieve their own jacket without an adult watching? Furthermore, I was impressed that instead of being confrontational and belligerent (as she so often is), K solved her problem quietly and without fanfare.

As for me, I definitely don’t think that learning needs to happen at school. I’m a fan of Mark Twain’s Grant Allen’s statement, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” I’m also not sure what most people retain from elementary school, besides the mechanics of writing (I would hope) and math.

If anybody here needs deschooling it’s Mr. December, who believes that everything should be measured and learning doesn’t count if you haven’t produced something from it. According to most homeschoolers, you need about a month of deschooling for every year your child was in school. So for Mr. December… hmm… elementary school plus middle and high schools… undergrad… masters degree… carry the one… it looks like he would need about 20 months of deschooling. And who has that kind of time?

bikes planes and automobiles · community · DIY · education · Independence · Kids · parenting

Day 110: The Curriculum of Life

Today we set up another assembly line, for baking this time. Two people measured ingredients and passed them to the next two, who worked the mixer and then passed the batter to the last two, who spread the batter out to fill the pans. All together we made one hundred brownies and sixty-five strawberry oat bars; tomorrow we’ll deliver them to Ve’ahavta, who will distribute them from their street outreach van.

Mr. December and I are leaning more and more towards homeschooling this coming year. I know we need to do more than just math and English, so I’ve been reading books and researching curricula. I’m pretty sure that baking for the homeless qualifies as community service and Home Ec (do they call it domestic science now? I have no idea…) I think shop class will also be pretty easy for me to cover: last week I taught K how to change the windshield wiper blades on our van. She enjoyed that so much that I ended up showing her what’s under the hood of the car, where the car’s fuse boxes are, and how to open the gas tank.

So I don’t know yet how I’m going to teach them history. So what? At least my kids will be able to cook and bake, perform basic car maintenance, and contribute to their communities. Maybe real life is the best curriculum we could use.

el cheapo · family fun · Independence · Kids

Day 106: Double Digits

N turned 10 today. I can’t believe it — it feels simultaneously like just yesterday and like a million years ago that I gave birth to him right here, at home. He came out screaming, but over the years he became quieter and quieter; we worried about him. Then we told him he would be going to a new school, in a Gifted program, and he came out of his shell again. Watching him blossom is such a privilege.

(Smelling him, on the other hand, is the opposite. Is he too young for deodorant?)

We celebrated with a very small physical-distancing water gun party. N invited his four best friends and curated a playlist of his favourite songs. I bought water guns at Dollarama and arranged all the food. The girls decorated the patio area. When the guests arrived, I handed over the water guns and went back inside. Between the water guns and the trampoline they entertained themselves for over an hour — without adult intervention. I call that a win.

So now he’s ten. He does his own laundry and can make quesadillas and braid challah. He loves reading, math, puns, and games of all kinds. And lions, of course. And he’s still the very snuggly kid who asks me to sing him to sleep and then nuzzles my hand while I do.

Happy birthday, N. Welcome to your second decade!

education · Independence · Kids · mental health · parenting · The COVID files · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 91: Having Difficulty

Dear Family,

Today was a difficult day for me. I slept very poorly last night even though I went to bed early, and I mostly walked around in a daze all day today. I’m sorry I wasn’t more available to you. Nevertheless, there are some things that I want you to understand:

I get that it’s frustrating to have a wife or mom who’s disorganized and tired much of the time. Please believe that it’s frustrating to be that wife or mom. I want to be available, on the ball, and organized for everyone, and when I can’t, it hurts – especially when I can see that I’m disappointing the people who matter most to me, and even more so when it’s not an infrequent event.

I know you’re super frustrated to be stuck at home with us instead of out there with your friends. I know that our existence right now is a lot like the movie Groundhog Day, the same thing over and over. But you know what? Our relationship doesn’t reset itself every morning. If you unload all your angst by yelling at me for an hour, I might not want to snuggle on the couch and watch movies right after that.

It’s okay to have to figure things out for yourself. Not sure what you’re supposed to do next in your workbook, and now I’m napping? Don’t you think there’s an excellent chance that what I want you to do next is the… wait for it… NEXT thing in the workbook? Use some imagination here, people! Look for clues! Maybe my 90-minute nap made it more difficult for you to know what to do, but it’s disingenuous to say that you couldn’t do anything without my say-so. Especially when your checklist specifically says “check the calendar for page numbers!”

I have ADHD. I have depression. I have fibromyalgia. I have a concussion. These are not excuses, they are facts. I try my best. It’s often not good enough. It makes me angry too — the me that I see these days is not who I thought I’d be at forty. It’s not who I want to be for myself or for you. On days like today I’m not the mom I want you to remember when you think of your childhood.

I don’t like wallowing in self-pity. I don’t like crying; it gives me a headache. I’m going to bed now so I can be a better me tomorrow; hopefully tomorrow my best will be good enough.


education · family fun · Independence · Kids · parenting · whine and cheese

Day 86: Take a hike

Last night K and N made dinner. In case you’re wondering how that came about, I’ll tell you: I announced, “You two are making dinner tonight. We’re having vegetarian tacos. Here are the ingredients and there’s the recipe.” and then I walked out.

There were some hiccups, like when N left the kitchen halfway through and started playing computer games. At some point he moaned, “I’m hungry! When’s dinner?”

“Whenever you finish cooking it,” I replied, and he went back to the kitchen.

After finishing her part of cooking dinner, K went outside with her sketchbook and pencils. She’s trying to learn how to draw Manga-style characters and has been having a hard time with the hair, eyes, and feet. This is probably the first time in a long time that I’ve seen her working on something of her own volition — usually anything resembling work or practice has to be prefaced with screaming and resistance. Anyhow, I was happy to see her working on something she loves. Including before and after dinner, she spent an hour and a half on her drawing; Lo and behold, she made excellent progress. Maybe one day this work ethic will spill over into other areas.

Today we took a hike.

Some of the regional conservation areas near us have opened up on a “reservations only” basis (you pay your entrance fee online, pick your 2-hour time slot, and they scan your licence plate as you drive in to confirm your reservation.) Of course, all of the facilities and buildings are still closed, but the trails are open. (In a twist that made me giggle, the only one who needed a bathroom the entire time was Mr. December. Twice.)

The first thing I noticed was that my kids do not shut up. There we are, in a forest on the escarpment, with birdsong all around us, and they’re talking nonstop about unrelated topics. I lost count of how many times I reminded them that the more noise we make, the less wildlife we’ll hear and see.

They also lack grit. Much of the hike was punctuated by their whining:

“I’m hungry! Can you pass me a snack?”

“You ate breakfast an hour ago. You can survive two hours without eating.”

“Can I have some more water?”

“You’ll be fine. We’ll have water when we get to the rest point.”

“I’m tired! Can we sit down?”

“NO! Get up and keep moving. You can do hard things.”

To be clear, this was not an arduous hike — there was one uphill section with lots of rocks and roots, but most of it was a wide, smooth path through the woods. We hiked less than four kilometres and my kids were tired. Apparently we need to work on their physical fitness, but more than that, we need to help them develop mental toughness. Are anyone else’s kids this soft?

better homes than yours · crafty · DIY · Independence · it's my potty · Kids · Renovation

Day 82: Bathroom time!

Today I’d like to show you the kids’ bathrooms. There are two — one for R and E, and one for K and N. A lot of thought and planning went into these rooms, as well as a fair amount of blood, sweat. and tears (remember the back-painted plexiglass from the basement bathroom? It’s in these ones too.)

As you can see in the mirror of the first picture, the bathrooms are at opposite ends of the hall. I can supervise tooth-brushing for both bathrooms at the same time.

This bathroom belongs to R and E. As in their bedrooms, the colour choice was theirs. They also had a hand in making those pendant lights; After I had spray-painted the large beads, the girls each created a pattern and strung beads on the lamp cord. The light pendants (i.e. the cords and globes) are from IKEA — as is most of this room.

The vanity and countertop/sink is from IKEA, and I spray-painted the drawer fronts. It’s installed quite low to the ground — maybe two feet high. Since the girls have to use this bathroom every day, I wanted to make sure it was comfortable for them to use. As they grow, it’s a simple enough task to raise the vanity (same vanity, taller platform underneath) and the mirror (cheap builder’s mirror from Lowe’s — if it doesn’t come off the wall cleanly, it’s not much of a loss). I specifically chose pendant lights so that we could adjust their height as the girls get taller.

The floor is a pebble mosaic tile, chosen partly for its natural look and partly for its many grout lines that make the floor fairly non-slip. This is another area where I drove my contractors crazy; the tiles come in mats with wavy edges, so that they interlock. The problem is that when you install them as sold, you see these wavy lines of grout and the construction of the mosaic becomes obvious. I got the tile installer to remove some pebbles here and there to make the lines disappear. He was a good sport and a perfectionist to boot, and he did a really great job, here and in every place that there’s a stone floor.

For baseboard — and the sidesplashes by the sink — we decided to use the same stone mosaic. Our tile guy cut each mat in half and installed them with the wavy side up.

The round hooks are another IKEA classic. They come in packages of mixed colours, and as you’ll see in the next bathroom, I managed to use most of the colours in the pack.

The sink area is separated from the toilet and bath by a door. My reasoning for this stems from my adolescence: few things are more annoying than having to wait an hour to brush your teeth because your brother needs a long shower. This way the more private functions of the bathroom can be behind a closed door, and other people can still wash their hands, do their hair, or brush their teeth.

The door to the toilet area is a normal swing door, and the door between the sink area and the hallway is another sliding pocket door. We assumed (so far correctly) that the sliding door would never be closed.

You might notice that there are three shades of pink in this bathroom. Since we had colours for two doorways and a shower wall, I decided to do it as a gradient. We picked three colours from the same paint chip and went from lightest to darkest.

Have I mentioned how much E loves elephants? This shower curtain is probably the most expensive shower curtain I’ve ever bought, and worth every cent of it.

This bathroom has a preschool-height toilet. You might think that it will be too low for them in very short order, but so far R’s knees are only just at a right angle if she sits on it with feet flat on the floor. And given the recent popularity of the “Squatty Potty”, I might not have to swap it out as soon as I had anticipated. In any event, I felt (and still feel) that $500 for a new toilet (and installation) was well worth the years of comfort and independence this preschool toilet would give the girls.

Behind the shower curtain you can see the back-painted plexiglass shower walls. You can also see one of the major problems with them: the mastic we used to adhere them to the wall wasn’t clear, and it shows through. Live and learn. I’m trying to make myself believe that the wavy pattern was intentional.

I used these shower columns in the children’s bathrooms because I recognized a fundamental truth: if my shower was better than theirs, they’d be nagging me to use my shower all the time. Mine is still a little nicer, but they really can’t complain about this one. It’s also a very quick and easy installation from a plumbing perspective since all you need are hot and cold water lines. All the rest of the plumbing is inside the panel.

Now over to K and N’s bathroom. You can see how the colour changes from dark teal to turquoise. The floors are the same tile as in the pink bathroom, and in both bathrooms we have under-floor heating. If I could go back, I’d keep the heating but move its thermostat to somewhere inconvenient, like behind the vanity drawers. My kids are too fond of turning the heat up to 30 degrees celsius and then lying on the floor to read.

The vanity is identical to the pink one in R and E’s bathroom, except for the colour and the height. This countertop is lower than the current standard (which seems to be 36″), but it’s pretty close to the height bathroom counters used to be fifteen years ago. Still, it can be raised if need be.

The vanity lights are from IKEA. So is the round mirror, but I bought it off Craigslist since this design had been discontinued. Above the large mirror we have smaller round mirrors that trail up to the ceiling like air bubbles in water.

As I mentioned earlier, I used the same round hooks from IKEA in both bathrooms. All the blue and green ones ended up in here for K and N’s towels and bathrobes.

You can see the shower walls (yup, back-painted plexiglass again) and the shower column (identical to the one in the pink shower) just beyond the door.

Since this bathroom is used by a hygiene-challenged nine-year-old boy (really, what nine-year-old boy isn’t?), I used some wall decals to remind him of a few important steps in his bathroom routine. These were a late addition that I jumped at when I discovered them at Dollarama. The perfect colours, perfect words, and perfect price.

So that’s it. We’ll start touring the kids’ rooms this week, hit my room on the way back down the hall, and end in the attic — at the top of the house and so much fun that it feels like we’re on top of the world!