DIY · Fibro Flares · it's my potty

Day 397: For want of a flapper

Am I dating myself when I reference old nursery rhymes in my title? If you said “yes,” then get a haircut and get off my lawn, you reckless kids!

For want of a flapper, E’s bedroom got flooded.

Yes, there were a few intermediate steps involved: because the flapper was defective, water kept flowing into the toilet bowl from the tank. That’s not usually a problem, but one of the kids had clogged the toilet and forgot to tell us. No water was getting through that clog, so instead of just flowing through and out of the toilet bowl and running up my water bill, the constant flow ended up overflowing the toilet bowl. By the time someone went upstairs and noticed it, there was a large puddle on the hallway floor outside the bathroom, stealthily creeping into E’s room and covering half of the floor.

The good news was that the clog seemed to be mostly toilet paper, not poop, and because there was so much running water any grossness was pretty diluted anyway. We still disinfected the heck out of the floor, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a stinking pool of raw sewage. It was just a lot of water that looked and smelled like water, and that took more than ten beach towels to sop up (said towels then went into the washing machine on the “sanitary” cycle.)

I really should have replaced that flapper months ago. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Or as Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel says, “Shoulda, but didn’ta.”

And now, the daily update: Last night I finally found my moist-heat heating pad in a corner of K’s bedroom. Using it helped me to fall asleep easily despite the pain in my legs. Today my legs are still painful and fatigued, but my brain seems to have been spared the usual fibro-fog™.

There’s a 14-day series of talks called Love How You Look Now that I’ve been watching for the past three days. I think it’s beyond time to put in the work of getting past my body image issues, if not for myself then for my kids. The sessions so far have been eye opening and thought provoking. I don’t think that my thoughts are coherent enough to explain them here, but I will one day.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to teach my kids how to replace the toilet flapper; and then we’ll have a little lesson on “Why you shouldn’t keep Eema’s heating pad in your room for months on end.”

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!

it's my potty · Kids · parenting · the Breastaurant · whine and cheese

Some days are like that. Even in Australia.

6:30 a.m.: Wake up to R screaming shrilly. Her temperature is 104F (40c).

6:32 a.m.: Dose her with Advil, walk her around a bit.

6:41 a.m.: R falls asleep. Put her in the swing.

6:42 a.m.: In the kitchen getting myself a glass of water.

6:42 a.m.: “Eeeeeeeeemaaaaa… Eeeeeeeeemaaaa…” Good lord, K is awake.

6:44 a.m.: “mamamamamamama!” … and she’s woken N up as well.

6:48 a.m.: Step out of denial and go to greet the kids with a smile. Almost fall asleep standing in their room.

7:00 a.m.: Kids won’t go back to sleep. Get them up, washed and dressed.

7:15 a.m.: Kids have been given food and drink. I lie down on the couch.

7:17 a.m.: “eeeeeeeemaaaaa…”

7:21 a.m.: “eeeeeemaaaaa…”

7:24 a.m.: “eeeeeeeeeemaaaaaaaa…”

7:30 a.m.: It’s too quiet in here. Open eyes, almost have a heart attack. K’s face is inches from my own and she’s just standing there, staring at me.

7:31 a.m.: I beg my child to PLEASE. let. me. rest. PLEASE. I may or may not be whining.

7:32 a.m.: Said child nudges her way onto the couch and insists on lying down with me. I cover her with the blanket and close my eyes.

7:36 a.m.: Almost asleep, drifting in that beautiful spot where you’re aware of how deeply relaxed you are.

7:37 a.m.: “eeeeeeeeemaaaaa…”

7:40 a.m.: Only ten minutes before part-time nanny arrives.

8:00 a.m.: Where is the nanny? No matter, I’ll just sleep a little more.

8:20 a.m.: Mr. December appears and asks where the nanny is. Points out that it’s time to take K to school.

8:22 a.m.: After looking at K and hearing her sneeze and cough, I decide that she should just stay home.

8:30 a.m.: R wakes up hungry. Simultaneously, N fills his diaper and needs a change this instant.

8:31 a.m.: Feed R.

8:32 a.m.: In a tacit acknowledgement of just how rough my day is going to be, Mr. December changes N’s diaper before leaving for work.

8:45 a.m.: Mr. December leaves for work.

8:45 a.m.: Sell my soul to Disney – turn on Youtube and find a Winnie-the-Pooh movie that the kids haven’t seen yet.

8:50 a.m.: Put R on the floor to play with her hanging toy. Settle in on the couch with N on my lap and K snuggled into my side.

8:51 a.m.: Fall asleep sitting up. Wake up periodically to make sure everyone is still present and accounted for.

9:51 a.m.: Wake up, see N sucking his thumb, declare it to be naptime. Give N some milk and then put him to bed.

9:53 a.m.: K refuses to nap. Seriously? Just go to sleep, kid.

9:55 a.m.: Whatever. R and I are going to my bed. K can play quietly by herself for a little while.

9:56 a.m.: In bed. asleep.

1:00 p.m.: Wake up. Realize that K has been playing by herself for the last three hours.

1:02 p.m.: Go to check on K. She’s passed out on the living room couch.

1:05 p.m.: Get N out of bed, change diaper, feed him lunch.

1:25 p.m.: N doesn’t really want lunch. He wants to play with his food. Remove food from table and set him free.

1:37 p.m.: K wakes up. Her pull-up is bulging and saturated gel beads are falling out of it. Instruct K to go directly to the bathroom and take the pull-up off over the potty.

1:39 p.m.: “Eeemaaaa…” K is crying this time. “I need your help…”

1:41 p.m.: Put R on the floor mat for tummy time. Arrive in the bathroom to see a huge pile of pee-soaked gel beads on the floor. N is playing with them.

1:42 p.m.: Sweep N off the floor. Wash his hands. Put him in the hallway and close the bathroom door. N screams.

1:43 p.m.: K is still miserable. Run a warm bath for her. While K is in the bath, clean up gel beads and roll up bath mats to be washed.

1:51 p.m.: Pull N off of R. Repeatedly. I now understand exactly how she got sick.

2:03 p.m.: N is miserable and can’t seem to function. Put him back in bed.

2:04 p.m.: N is crying. I’m sure he’ll fall asleep in a minute.

2:07 p.m.: N is now shrieking. He has thrown up all over himself, his bed, the floor, and parts of the rocking chair.

2:08 p.m.: Run for some cloths to sop up the mess on the floor so I can get to N without stepping in puke.

2:09 p.m.: Get K to vacate the bathtub. Run fresh water to warm up the bath. Strip N’s clothing off and dump him in the tub.

2:10 p.m.: Mop up N’s floor and strip his bed. Take the soiled bedclothes downstairs and start the laundry machine.

2:11 p.m.: Oh, that’s where all the kids’ clothes are… in the dryer. And in the basket on the floor. Waiting to be folded.

2:15 p.m.: N has perked up and is vocally demanding more bath toys.

2:30 p.m.: N is finally ready to get out of the bath. Soap him up quickly, get him out, put on fresh pajamas. Hmmm… something still smells. It’s me. Change clothes.

2:42 p.m.: R is screaming. Tummy time is so over. Her fever is back too.

2:46 p.m.: Dose R with Advil, call a nurse friend for advice, pray that I don’t have to take R to the doctor today because how on earth will I manage three sick kids when I’m sick too?

3:00 p.m.: Give N and K freezies to keep them hydrated.

3:09 p.m.: N is seeking another freezie.

3:19 p.m.: The freezer door alarm keeps going off. Get up and close the freezer door again. Instruct N that freezie time is over.

3:30 p.m.: Let the kids watch the rest of that Winnie-the-Pooh movie.

4:30 p.m.: Movie is over. K requests music. Put on CD from our music class and pull out the instruments. Attempt to fold laundry while K and N use drums and claves to drown out the CD.

5:00 p.m.: Somebody’s stinky. It’s N. Diaper is full – apparently this gastrointestinal virus goes both ways. Change his diaper and his smelly pajamas.

5:25 p.m.: High schooler from down the street shows up for her regular Tuesday evening gig. Leave her with the kids. Take dinner out of the freezer and heat it up. Attempt to clean up the kitchen.

6:00 p.m.: Sit kids down at table. Offer N some plain pita.

6:03 p.m.: N throws up all over himself, the highchair, the floor, and the table leg.

6:04 p.m.: Grab clean cloths for the floor. Whisk N into the bath and leave him there while mopping the dining room floor.

6:10 p.m.: Finish cleaning up puke. N is happily playing with his toy elephant. Suddenly remember that N’s mattress protector needs to go in the dryer.

6:20 p.m.: Mr. December comes home. Get N out of the tub and give to his father for dressing.

6:25 p.m.: Nurse R.

6:30 p.m.: Try to put N in bed. N screams. Hold him and sing while he struggles to get down. Give up and put him back in the crib.

6:35 p.m.: N still crying. Maybe he’s thirsty… give him some pedialyte to drink.

6:40 p.m.: R screaming. Leave N, take care of R. Somehow in the brouhaha get K to go brush her teeth and put on a pull-up. Babysitter empties dishwasher.

7:00 p.m.: Both big kids in bed. Mr. December wants to go downstairs to his man-cave. I give him The Look. He stays upstairs and holds R while I eat my dinner. Sigh. Falafel would be so much better if it was hot.

7:30 p.m.: Mr. December finally gets to do his thing. R and I hang out in the living room. Alternate folding laundry with feeding R, rocking R, holding R, and trying to put her to sleep. The rest of the evening is a blur.

10:34 p.m.: Laundry is still not folded. R has fallen asleep twice and woken up twice. I realize that I should be loading the dishwasher instead of blogging. There’s clean clothing all over the living room, the kitchen is a mess, I think there’s a melted freezie under the couch, and I just heard N whimper.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

family fun · it's my potty · Kids · lists · whine and cheese · Work-in-progress Wednesday

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: potty edition

So yeah, N has started bringing me clean diapers when he wants to be changed. Then today he seemed interested in sitting on the potty, so I took off his diaper. He took off running… and came back in a minute with a magazine. He then proceeded to sit on the potty and examine the pictures. I swear, he was the spitting image of his dad.

Unfortunately, the… um… event did not happen while he was sitting on the potty, but shortly thereafter (perhaps while looking for another magazine.) To his credit, he brought me the poop and then pulled a kleenex out of the box and wiped the floor.


Moving on… not a lot has gotten done around here. Not only have we all been sick but our part-time nanny was sick too, which meant a sick mommy trying to take care of three sick kids. We’re still sick, but the nanny seems to have bounced back nicely. I did get some things done – let me tell you about them.

Completed: Scavenger hunt list

I finished the scavenger hunt list for K’s birthday party. The hunt will be done in the dark living/dining room with only flashlights for guidance. I’ll be planting enough of the items that each team of three or four kids will be able to find everything if they really look. Here’s the list:

And for those who want to print it for themselves, here’s the PDF:

Camping Scavenger Hunt

For those who can’t see it properly, and for those who are curious about where this stuff is coming from, here’s the rundown:

Pinecone and Stick – We’re going to take a walk on a nearby nature trail and find a few of each.

Feather – We have a down pillow that insists on shedding its feathers. We’ll just pull a few and call it a day.

Blade of grass – I’m going to cut down some of the ornamental blue oat grass from my backyard and tape it to one of the legs of the dining table.

Mushroom – Yeah, supermarket mushrooms. But maybe something a bit more exotic looking than the usual white button mushrooms.

Animal tracks – Since we’re doing this hunt in the dark, I’m going to cut some animal prints out of white vinyl (left over from the cloud decals) and stick them to the floor.

Bear – Teddy bears, of course.

So that’s done.

Shelved until further notice: rec room floor

You know what? I just don’t have the energy right now to start cutting up foam mats and piecing them back together. I’m abandoning this project for the time being.

Still in progress: get everyone healthy

Wouldn’t you know it, K had been fully healthy for 48 hours when – BAM – she started with the sneezing and runny nose of a fresh new cold. And then I got N’s pinkeye. R still has a wet, phlegmy cough. N is still coughing too, but seems to be on the mend. In the midst of it all Mr. December stands as a shining example of a man with a working immune system.

I felt like a failure at this task until a friendly family doctor informed me that young kids in school or daycare get, on average, thirty illnesses a year. Is it even worth ramping up the hand-washing and administering lots of vitamins?

In progress: Party giveaways

You know that I hate loot bags… but sending kids home with nothing is a surefire way to earn their disapproval. Since our theme is camping we’ll be handing out a mini flashlight to each kid, along with stickers to put their name on it, when they arrive. As they leave I plan to hand out tiny packets containing a couple of graham crackers, a mini milk chocolate bar or some chocolate chips, a kosher marshmallow or two, and instructions on how to make s’mores in the microwave. That’s it. I’m also trying to think of a relevant charity to support by making a donation in honour of K’s guests.

Anyhow, this week I plan to purchase the flashlights as well as all the component ingredients for the s’mores packets.

And that’s it. Anybody else being productive these days? Tell me all about it in the comments.