Archive for the ‘Little One’ Category

Why I want a bathroom big enough to lie down in

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Last night the Little One came in and announced that her stomach really, really hurt. Soon after that, she was throwing up all over our bedroom floor and herself. Yuck. After I got her cleaned up, she and I spent half an hour lying on the bathroom floor, joined intermittently by Ceefor Cat, while Don cleaned the trail from bedroom to bathroom. While lying there, I remembered how I cracked up our crack team of architects by telling them that I really wanted a bathroom big enough to lie down in. (I believe they said that that might end up on their wall of famous requests from clients. I am sure that it came soon after spending a fairly horrible night in our bathroom.)Our rental bathroom is big enough, but I sure don’t like lying there when I myself have no reason (beyond sympathy) to lie there. Eventually, I carried her back to my bed, where she stayed until she had to barf again a couple of hours later. (She got to the toilet in time.) I am looking forward to a bathroom of our very own, but hope we won’t have to use it for sleeping. 

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Fairy houses

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

While waiting for financing, we have been doing other things like rebuilding windows, planning our landscape, and making fairy houses. The Little One had some specific ideas about how a fairy house should look, which she sketched out for me.

fairy house, pastels fairy house, pastels (2) fairy house illustrated, pen and ink

She told me later that one of them was round. However,Don built a regular-shaped house, which she declared was even better than a round house. He painted them with leftover spray paint, and then the Little One and I scavenged shelf lichens, moss, and acorn caps on a nature walk on the Hill. She furnished the interior with sage and thistledown because she knows just what fairies like, and I got to use a hot glue gun for the first time. Fun.

fairy housefairy house through the window
fairy house front door

Sometime this winter, we’ll spray it with a coat of polyurethane, finish the other one, and put them out for the fairies to enjoy. I think she still believes in fairies, although the gig is up for Santa. Merry Christmas!

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We went to Mena, Arkansas and all we got was …

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

a crummy t-shirt? No way. The days of buying t-shirts* four souvenirs are long over. Now we buy architectural salvage when we travel.

When we go to Howard County in south Arkansas for Duckett Decoration (first Sunday in June and the preceding Saturday), we always stop at Ri-Jo’s salvage place in Mena (in Polk County, but nearer to Duckett than most places in Howard County). This time, Richard sold us a light fixture.

I have been struggling with the Arts and Crafts vision for our house. Nearly all the lights I look at don’t suit my vision of the house. Don finally nailed my problem: I’m afraid it will look like 2008 when we’re done instead of 1908 (or 1916 in our case). Everybody is doing Arts and Crafts now — the new houses, the old houses, Renovation Hardware, the Home Depot. They’re all doing it. Plus, I still haven’t made it safely to the 20th Century, what with our last two houses being solidly in Queen Victoria’s reign.

We’re compromising with a transitional look, a hybrid between Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts. What does this mean? It means we are buying fewer square light fixtures with divided lights, and more classical ones, while still having plenty of beams in the ceilings*** and nice oak trim. Here’s the fixture we bought from Ri-Jo … along with the great shades we bought from Rejuvenation. I love the iridescent look to them plus the shades were on clearance at Rejuvenation! (Sorry, I think they’re all gone now.)

ri-jo-light-fixture-colonial-revival.jpg rejuvenation-shade-on-clearance.jpg

Now we just have to figure out where it goes. Dining room? Foyer? Living room? (We might need a pair for that room.) Oh, we also need an acceptable canopy.

Meanwhile, here’s the Little One doing her part for Duckett Decoration, before dinner on the grounds. Don thought that eating at the cemetery sounded quite odd when he first joined me for Duckett, but he doesn’t hesitate these days. (I made her dress and hat.**)


We also went to the swimming hole at Cossatot State Park, where the Little One made s’mores. (I think this was Don’s first time to eat s’mores. I didn’t know that s’mores were a southern thing, but I can’t explain his lack of experience otherwise… By the way, when you search for s’mores, you discover that s’mores are a southern food. At least according to the recipe index on They may have inspired or been inspired by Moon Pies. I like s’mores better, of course.)

And we stopped by Duckett Schoolhouse, which was a one room schoolhouse for grades 1-8, which my grandfather, his siblings and many of his cousins attended. It’s in about the same state of disrepair that it has been in for thirty years.


* I think the Little One may have wound up with three Vacation Bible School t-shirts this year. Episcopal, United Methodist, and Bible Church. She was explaining heaven to me yesterday afternoon. Streets paved with gold and lots of magical thinking are involved.

**Shortly after we came back from Duckett, the Little One lost her hat. She must have been worrying about it for weeks. When we packed for Chicago in mid-July, I asked her to find her hat so I could pack it. She burst into tears: It was lost, lost forever! She lost it at Central one day, and maybe it blew away in a storm or somebody saw it and thought it was paper and thought it was litter and thought she had littered and threw it away! Or some other implausible event. Oh, the tragedy of it all. After the wailing and gnashing of teeth subsided, I offered to make her another hat, which I did while we were in Chicago, and then I made matching tops for her and her cousin. When we got back, Don checked at Central’s lost and found, and found her hat. (He says that the director said that lots of people complimented the hat while it waited for the Little One’s return.) These are the matching tops. I guess I didn’t take a picture of her new hat.


*** The Johnson Brothers are adding some functional beams in the living room in the next couple of weeks so the upstairs won’t fall down once we get the bathrooms installed. As many beams as they’re putting in, I think we won’t need any decorative ones.

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We bought the house.

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Sometimes I help my dad work on the house. It is fun. (The Little One wrote and typed the part above, and dictated the following.  She did ask how to spell bought and house.  The title is her own.)

I get to write with chalk and rocks. I have lunch there sometimes. I find marbles sometimes and I get to play outside in the backyard. It is sheltered by trees and I can play with my neighbor Sally. I find bricks and wood and I find fireflies and rolypolies. I help him meet with architects. The End.


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Architects and next steps. Oh, and Easter, too.

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

The architects have their as-built plans drawn up, and now want to talk about next steps. I am curious about the as-built plans since I have some trouble still understanding how the house is put together. I’m afraid, however, that I’m not sure what our next steps are. I listen to Don talk about ways to rearrange the inside of the house, and nod approvingly but cluelessly … I know I want the porches back, working bathrooms, a kitchen somewhere between the size of our last two, a place (or four) for Christmas trees, and functionality and flow, but I’m not catching the vision yet. Maybe the drawings will help.

I’d like to do things green. I’d like energy-efficiency, whole-house fans, permaculture (maybe – just learned that word this week), reflective sheathing, quiet HVAC, a room to call my own, a space for the Little One that doesn’t put her at risk inside the computer, a way to use most of our salvaged materials, accessibility, and I’d really like access to my stuff.

It irks me that I can’t just pull out a reference book about house styles because it’s in storage. It irks me that I had to buy a full-price zipper to finish an Easter dress although I have zippers in storage. It irks me that I had to buy a grater and a Bundt pan* to make a carrot cake because our two graters and three food processors and two Bundt pans and countless 9×13 sheet pans are in storage. It irks me that I can’t give away stuff because it’s in storage. But, that will all change some day. I just hope that it’s before I quit reading, sewing, and making carrot cake.

*I did wind up buying a silicon tube pan, which was kind of neat. I’m still not sure what I think about it. It still requires greasing, and it’s floppy so I’m not sure how easy it was to clean. Don did the clean-up.

We had to get ready fast for Easter because we went to Eureka Springs Friday/Saturday after spending Wednesday evening in the emergency room, and got back Easter Eve. We had big to-dos scheduled at church, followed by brunch with friends, so Saturday night, I ran to Target to help the Easter Bunny out and get necessary fixing for baking, and baked, then glazed Sunday morning while making sure the Easter basket was filled and delivered to the Little One, and dying eggs in between. Don had boiled eggs Tuesday, and we were expecting to color and dye on Wednesday, but three hours at the hospital messed up those plans.

The Little One had specific expectations involving the egg hunt this year. Two or maybe three Easters ago, I managed to persuade her that she should hide the eggs for Don to hunt. I have no memory of what we did last year, although I know we dyed eggs, and we did a hunt at church. It was very cold. The church egg hunt wasn’t enough this year. Instead, we went out to the Hill, where I was told to hide eggs for her, Don, and my mom to hunt. Not my dad because of his ataxia. So I did and they did. They found all but one hard-boiled egg, which seems pretty good to me.

I’m not clear what the Little One’s position is on the Easter Bunny. She has lots of [invisible] friends who are magic, and she’s Peter Pan’s sister, plus she talks to Tink[erbelle] and writes notes to Ozma [of Oz] with some frequency. She also pointed out a watchdog dad from Washington yesterday as evidence that Santa Claus is real. He has a white, furry beard.

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The Little One is building and planning

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

The Little One is sure she can do anything we bigger people can. (Generally a good attitude when you’re 5.5 years old, but the size of a small four year old, even though it terrifies me at times.) So, when we pull nails and wear dust masks, she does, too.  She’s been salvaging for at least three years.  Whenever she finds an old nail or scrap of wood, she picks it up for her Daddy. This winter, she’s started building.

She has a secret club house in her room, comprising:  a barbie house that a southern Illinois antique mall owner gave her, a window screen for the roof, an Italianate doll house Santa brought her as a wall, her nap mat from kindergarten (where they gave up naps at Christmas) that acts as a movable wall, and a built-in desk.  (The pictures don’t convey the versatility or coolness, so I omitted them.)

Here is a house she made of plastic-ish wall tiles from our bathroom. I’m not sure what is on the roof. Maybe a roach bait? Something she found during demolition.

Tin tile house Tile roof

Here she is. (She wore this outfit to work on the house. Perhaps she tends toward June Cleaver?)

The Little One

Here is a village she built one Sunday at the Hill. She asked my dad how to spell ‘Welcome,’ but otherwise the plan is hers.

village.jpg village-welcome.jpg

Here is a house zoo she built from wood scraps at my folks’ house on the Hill. And one of its occupants.

Wood scraps house on the Hill Zoo occupant

Here, though, is my favorite. Her sketch of what her room might be like at the new house.

Little One’s room plan

It is two levels. Her make-up desk is downstairs. There’s a bowl of lip gloss on the desk. Her backpack and coat are hanging on the wall. I don’t remember what the two things hanging from a string are. Her purses? Mittens? A jump rope. (Good thing she remembered.)  Upstairs, she has a closet with bifold doors, and on the doors, we have a variety of holiday-themed decorations. (Trees, hearts, Easter eggs.) To the left of the closet, we see a rocking chair throne, with castle decorations on the wall and tulips and so forth growing in front and around the throne. I think the triangles on top are the roof.

We hired an architect team Tuesday — I hope they enjoy working with us half as much as we enjoy watching the Little One build and plan.

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How to tell you are watching too much HGTV …

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

… When your 5yo daughter finds some kids’ names chalked on the underside of the stairs in the grody, dark, scary hallway and says, “Mom! Now we can be on TV!”  So I took her picture with them.  I think we may be watching too much If Walls Could Talk.

Martin and Madalyn names Under stairs Grody under stairs

(names in blue chalk: Martin, Madlen [sp?], Tom J., Jack B.)  She also helped clear out under the stairs, wearing a dust mask and gloves that were too big for her, until I got grossed out by it all.  Then we turned to nail pulling.

Trust me.  It’s much grodier in real life.  It’s cramped, dark, dusty, and there were old mice nests in the ceiling.  (We washed her coat when we got home.)

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Craig’s List Score!

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I virtuously scan Craig’s List here in Fayetteville, hoping for the sort of deals I used to find in Chicago. This weekend, I finally scored. Boxes of screen and storm sash hangers were there for $3 a box (ten sets in each box or thirty cents a set). You’ll see from the click-through, screen-and-storm-sash-hangers.jpg, that the sets used to retail for 40 cents. These days, however, they sell for two or three dollars a set.

So, I got Don to contact the sellers, and he bought them out. Even better, he learned that they have other stuff in their warehouse, stuff which might be useful for us a little later. (I guess their family owned a windows and doors store for sixty years, and now they’re slowly closing their warehouse.) We now own 45 sets of sash hangers, which will come in handy if we ever when we build storms and screens.  Now to keep an eye out for number tacks to identify which storms go with which windows. Although $4.99 for twenty windows and twenty storms isn’t bad, I’d love some like Jeannie’s House In Progress number tacks which go past single digits. Kilian seems to have a better price of $3.99 for “110+” of assorted tacks. I’m jealous, though, of the old stock someone bought from them already. 

Hang on:  Can anyone tell me why map tacks wouldn’t work?  Look at these map tacks. 


You can buy them to go up to 50 (double digits on a single tack) and they seem legible and long enough.  Are they sturdy enough?  Too big? (The smalls are 7/32 in diameter.  The pins are 5/16″ long.)  Too expensive?  We would need three boxes: to label window, storm, and screen, or about $15 for the first twenty-five windows.  Plus s/h.  The large map tacks (5/16″ diameter) come in red, and go up to 100.

We do have some other pressing matters, like, oh, say, rebuilding the window frames (see photo below) swinging in the air without any contact to the glass that I can see, or filling the gap between the fifty-year-old addition and the old part of the house. (Not only can you see daylight, but there’s a brisk breeze when a front is blowing through, which it was at lunchtime Wednesday when the temperature dropped from 63F to 28F in two hours.)

Window frame (south side)

Or, this week’s urgent need, covering up the direct critter access into the basement Apartment 5 with some chicken wire. Don took out the basement kitchen cabinets Monday and discovered a hole, a big, long hole sized for roosters or snakes or five-year-olds to go lollygagging through. The stud wall is swinging from the ceiling and you can see daylight under the studs. I don’t know what is holding up the two stories of house above it. Static electricity, maybe.

Hole under house before exposure Hole under house after hardware cloth installation

The hole is at the base of the house under this deck. You can’t see it so well in this picture (left) so I stopped Tuesday morning and snapped a picture of it with the hardware cloth installed (right). What is that pipe? It goes into the former basement kitchen around the sink. Maybe a vent??
Rotten sill

The picture above of a really rotten sill predates our buying the house, but the others are from Wednesday. (The painters pulled the ivy off the house.)

In other news, work is crazy busy. The Little One has reached a charming stage, again, except that she is very tired. She fell asleep by 6 p.m. Sunday night, and slept until we got her up the next morning. Either she’s about to grow into fluent reading or she’s about to grow an inch.  Or some other landmark event is coming.  She’s home for a snow day today, and I’m watching the weather to see if I am getting snowed in, too.

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Our retaining wall (south of the house)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

We’re working on getting our retaining wall tuned up. It’s really a nice-looking wall running along the south border of our lot, made of native stone with flying buttresses and a stone patio.* Serene. The wall starts out at maybe 18 inches at the front of the lot, and then it growed like Topsy until it’s maybe twelve feet toward the back.  As a result, our lot is fairly level.  I think the patio (just off the kitchen) is even prettier than this pre-ownership picture shows.

Patio in summer

The only problem is that the wall is covered with ivy. Well, that, and the fact that once you pull off enough ivy to make five or six or ten ivy people**, you find big cracks and crumbling mortar.  And a definite tilt toward our lot.

Huge pile of ivy Typical fault line hiding behind the ivy

We had an appointment with our rock wall guy Monday.  He says the flying buttresses were probably added later and are helping to prevent the wall falling over, but we really need to build more wall at the base to push back against the tons of soil and water and put in holes to let the water out.  So we are.  Or rather, he and his crew will.  The first load of rock came Tuesday morning.  This weekend, Don and I hope to get more of my landscaping books out of storage so I can show our rock wall guy what I want. (Once I figure it out, of course.)  I picture some raised beds, some niches for rock garden plants in the walls, plenty of stone seating in front of the raised beds.  (Since the wall is facing north, I’m not sure if the heat sink attributes of a stone wall will make it a warmer microclimate than its surroundings, but I guess it might be a good place for more tender perennials.)  Also, low voltage lighting, a water feature, and maybe a fire pit, but probably not.  A fire pit, that is, due to local codes. 

Oh, and maybe a cold frame?  I saw a neat one in Washington State Park this fall.  It was original to the house (Greek Revival so early 1800s), and dug down six feet into the earth, so it only got noon sunlight, but never froze.  Ours couldn’t go down that deep due to rocks, but maybe we could build something that could go over one of the raised beds and attach to the stone bench in front.  Then, we could raise our own lettuce and tender perennials.  Daydreams, but fun to think about.

Sunday afternoon was beautiful.  Sunny and in the 60s.  The Little One and I made seven wreaths with ivy and nandina berries, which made no significant difference to the amount of ivy left, but delighted her.  Then I pulled as much of the ivy off the wall as I could so our rock wall guy would have a better idea of what he would be dealing with.

While making ivy wreaths, we watched a gang of small neighbor boys rampage through the yard and up the highest flying buttress on to the next yard.  All wearing hoodies, sneakers, and skateboards. We saw the touring version of Peter Pan this fall at the Walton Arts Center, and we’ve been reading Peter Pan this week, so I suggested to the Little One that they might be Lost Boys. She said, “No, Mom. I know one of them. He goes to my school.” (I don’t understand the barrier myself, since she is currently Peter Pan’s sister, but I guess I’m grown-up.)  I like living in a neighborhood with rampaging small boys.

Enough of that. Let’s look at more pictures. When we bought the place, it came with a really large container for holding trash cans. I think it held six big ones and it was just west of the patio. You might be able to see the flying buttress the Lost Boys scaled just behind it.  (Sorry for the terrible picture, but the container is gone now so I can’t improve on it.)

Big Trashcan Container

Don gave it to a utilities guy he met one of the three times we’ve had a meter replaced so far. Here’s the guy hauling it off. You can see it fills his trailer up.

Nice guys hauling off big trashcan container

Pictured below is the space behind the trashcan container and the Lost Boys’ flying buttress (at right). It was mostly ivy-free already, but I pulled a lot more out between the trashcan space and the patio (where the green, mossy area is). The bar growing through the redbud (I think it’s a redbud — see summer patio picture) is a clothesline remnant.

After trashcan container left

Below are better before-and-after pictures of what the ivy-covered wall looked like. These are just east of the patio, but I pulled ivy off the entire length of the wall.

Typical before ivy removal condition After ivy removal condition

Here’s our first load of rock. It’s really pretty stuff, with lots of lichens. And I am very glad that I don’t have to move it.

First load of rocks to fix the wall

*Our neighbors to the north tell us they used to watch drunken bashes at our house. Kegs and beer bottles flying out of the upstairs windows. Police calls all the time. One of the more recent tenants spent a lot of time picking the broken glass out of the patio area, for which I am grateful. I did find a pull tab in the ivy Sunday.

** I Googled Ivy People.  Would you believe it’s a Celtic astrology sign, more or less?  And that Don and I are Ivy People?  Weird what Google will tell you when asked.

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Indiana Coincidence, Sarah Vaughan

Friday, August 24th, 2007

Don is back in Chicago for the weekend.  As is his habit, he checked out the house he owned in Munster,* Indiana when we met.  A cute Cape Cod (a “dollhouse” according to the listing) which he and his dad had completely re-done.  (He was having the floors sanded when we met.)  He sold it in 36 hours (with multiple offers) Thanksgiving 1999.  (Those were the days of the booming real estate market, and the beginning of our serial home improvement.)  It’s on the market, and there’s an open house Sunday.  Guess he’ll be going.

Munster, Indiana House Munster, Indiana House (2007)

I’ve looked at the MLS listing, and it doesn’t look like they’ve done anything except tear off the roof and replace it.  (A good thing since it suffered hail damage in about 1998 to the extent that the insurance company paid on it.)  Oh, wait.  They bought a portable dishwasher, too.

  • The whitewashed paneling and ceiling in the basement – Don. 
  • The patio in the backyard – Don. 
  • The wallpaper going up the wall along the stairs – Don. 
  • The refinished hardwood floors – Don.  (The house came with mauve carpet.) 
  • The blue sponge-painted dining room – Don (but remember this was ten+ years ago.) 
  • The “newer tilt-in windows” – Don.
  • The track lighting -Don. 
  • The “beautifully finished wet bar” in the basement – Don. 

The house has appreciated, based on its listing for $199,900, about 50% over the last eight years, while our love has, ahem, increased infinitely.  Yeah, that’s it.

Moving update:  five medium boxes and four small boxes unpacked.  Can’t find the plastic storage stuff (aka, Tupperware, but it isn’t).  Wonder if it is in storage.

Little One story:  We went to a fashion show birthday party last night.  It’s at a high-dollar children’s clothing store.  The kids choose clothes off the rack, get made up (eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick — Maggie called the eyeshadow eyeshades), and go down the red carpet runway.  (I know.  She’s only five.  At least, the dads’ catcalls were reduced from the last fashion show birthday party.  Her dress was $45, at 50% off.)  This time, each kid chose a model name to be announced as they went down the runway.  There were: 1 Heart, 3 Barbies, 2 Hannah Montanas, 2 Princesses, 1 Evel Kneivel (one boy chose to dress up — the other boys sat around the edges), and … one Sarah Vaughan.  Yes, our daughter came up with Sarah Vaughan all on her own as the name she wanted.  Isn’t that cool?  I’m not sure how many of the parents even knew who Sarah Vaughan was, but that’s their problem.  I have a daughter who wants to “the singer’s singer,”  according to Ella Fitzgerald.

Have a good Friday!  Here’s some Sarah Vaughan to take home with you.  (I would embed the video, but I can’t figure out how.)  That’s all!

*When I first started dating Don, I thought he lived in Muncie, Indiana, the home of Ball State University, and about 200 miles away from Munster.  Driving from Munster into the city (back then, I lived on Howe) was enough of a challenge to our relationship.  I doubt he would have driven an extra 200 miles for me, then.  Of course, now he regularly drives 600+ miles (each way) for me, and my dream job in Arkansas.  (btw, neither Munster nor Muncie have anything to do with The Munsters of TV fame.) 

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