Blog-o! Notes from

Sun, 18 Mar 2007
Renovation: One Week Down

We're one week into the reno, and the dust is flying. The electrical is almost done; we are replacing all the old knob-and-tube wiring with the modern stuff, putting in mostly new light fixtures and light switches in sensible places, instead of three feet into the bedroom, or behind the far door to the dining room, or just nowhere at all in Delphine's room. (She had one of those bank-pen-chain pull switches that she didn't have a hope of reaching for another ten years.)

On the main floor, where most of the big changes are happening, the demolition is nearly complete. They have taken down all the walls except that between the kitchen and the dining room, and that which defines the front hall (and keeps the drafts out). They've taken out the old cabinet in the kitchen, the sink and its cabinet, and the old gnarly linoleum tiles and subfloor. They've cut and framed a hole between the kitchen and the dining room, which is going to be finished with some trim salvaged from the original arch between the dining room and the living room. The only demolition which remains to be done is taking up the hardwood in the front hall (we are going to put in vintage-style black and white mosaic tile instead).

Next week the inspector is coming in for the electrical, and then they will patch the walls and start painting upstairs. They are going to move the plumbing for the sink, and put in the vent for the range hood, and lay the new subfloor in the kitchen. It's been fun watching them tear the place apart, but I am really going to enjoy watching them put it back together.

We haven't been able, to the shock of no-one, to salvage and reuse as much as I originally thought we would. I said we would keep the cabinet in the kitchen but quickly changed my mind when I realized how much I like runners on my drawers, and base cabinets that don't go all the way to the floor, and not having huge frames in the way of my stuff, and maybe upper cabinets that are deep enough to store a dinner plate. I got rid of the metal trim on the counter because Jillian's right, it's a total pain to keep clean. I got rid of the stove because there's just no way to make an ancient electric stove into a modern gas stove. I got rid of the cabinet for the sink because again, I wanted to get rid of the frames and have more versatile cabinetry (we are putting a bunch of drawers under the sink cabinet).

I haven't even kept many light fixtures; I kept the pretty fixtures in the girls' rooms, but almost all of the others are gone, with the exception of a gorgeous Nouveau fixture from the front hall which is too dim to be useful but which we will reuse somewhere where we don't need all that much light.

Ironically, we are ripping out a genuine vintage kitchen and replacing it with a vintage-inspired kitchen. Our cabinets are going to be Applad White which is flat-panel painted white, very much like the original cabinet. The floor is going to be Marmoleum in Caribbean, and the countertops will be Formica's Skylark Boomerang. Oh, and the paint is Benjamin Moore's Standish White, which almost exactly matches the floor. I am going to look for a vintage-style wallpaper to do a focal point, and maybe a cute fabric for a little curtain. Three more weeks to go!

[Posted at 22:31 by Amy Brown] link
Thu, 08 Mar 2007
Dead Insects

Some dude has figure out how to, um, harvest the insects he kills with his car and photograph them with a fancy microscope. The results are strangely compelling. (Cordelia says "flower!")

[Posted at 09:18 by Amy Brown] link
I'm A Woodcutter!

"I'm a woodcutter," exclaimed Delphine. "I can cut wolves, and giants!"

"Can you cut wood?"

"I can cut wood, wolves, and giants!"

[Posted at 08:34 by Amy Brown] link

We signed Delphine up for Kindergarten, to start in fall. She's actually ready to start tomorrow -- she can dress herself and write her name and go to the bathroom by herself -- but because her birthday is fairly early in the year she will be one of the older, more accomplished students in her class. Fortunately it's a mixed Junior/Senior Kindergarten class so if necessary she can mingle with the five-year-olds, although by the time she gets to SK she will be like Methuselah.

I wonder about skipping her to first grade a year early; I don't know if they are keen on skipping grades in the Toronto school board, but it seems that if you're going to do it, earlier would be better than later, no? But just proposing that makes me feel like one of those annoying "my kid is so wonderful and smart and she needs special attention" parents. But honestly, if she is ready for grade one after a year of kindergarten -- and I'm not saying she will be -- doesn't it make sense to put her in it?

Speaking of people who think their kids are so special, Dooce (who I normally love) wrote this in her monthly letter to Leta, with respect to a question on a preschool application form: "whoever gets to spend their days with you will be transformed by the experience, and that the only right answer would be: You will not be disappointed." Seriously? You know these people, preschool teachers, get to meet hundreds of little kids, right? You think your little precious is going to be the one who transforms them? Why? What exactly about your kid is so special? Is she the reincarnation of Mother Theresa? No, she's just another snotty, screaming, whining, pooping three-year-old, just like mine and every other on the planet.

Having said that ("screaming, whining"), Delphine and I are getting better at communicating with each other. I read Barbara Coloroso's Kids Are Worth It, and it really helped me figure out a way to talk to her and deal with her which lets us both keep our dignity intact. There's a real art to it, the balance between getting her to do the things I want her to do without forcing her, or just letting her do whatever she wants to. I offer her choices, compromises, I decide what she does and she decides how, but all the while I have to maintain my authority so that when she's running away down the sidewalk I can yell "Stop!" and she will do it right away.

Delphine loves a power battle — sometimes it seems like she automatically defies me on everything: "Toast for breakfast today!" "I don't like toast!" (An out and out lie.) So then it's fun to offer no resistance: "Okay, no toast for breakfast, let's have cereal!" "I want toast!" Okay, toast it is, crazy kid.

My favourite times are when we get to hang out together without Cordelia. Cordelia is still at an age where she butts into whatever we're doing, but she's too young to play board games or sit nicely and be read to, so when we're all together I'm often playing interference, but when it's just Delphine and I we can talk and read and do things together like real people. It doesn't happen very often, though.

[Posted at 06:06 by Amy Brown] link
Not Sleeping, No Sir.

Well, it's four in the morning and I've been wide awake for at least three-quarters of an hour. I finally decided to stop lying in bed thinking the same five thoughts over and over, and creep down the world's creakiest stairs and make myself useful. I don't think I will be sleeping again tonight, and I know I'll regret it later this afternoon, but what can you do? This must be what it's like to be Baba, or my brother Dave.

We are less than a week from the start of "demolition", a rather grand name for clearing out the kitchen and taking down a couple of walls. I suppose removing the little porch from the back is pretty demolishy. It all begins on Monday, and in the intervening four days we need to clear as much stuff as we can out of the main floor, and set up a makeshift kitchen in the basement. In the next month we are going to become very familiar with what meals can and cannot be prepared with a microwave, a toaster oven, a kettle and a crock pot. I predict we will eat a lot of President's Choice frozen meals. And did you know they have microwave pizza? Yeah...

The girls and I will also become very familiar with places to hang out that are not home; Baba and Zaida's, the library, the ROM, the park (if spring ever comes), Tanya's place, the other library... It's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass, but I think the satisfaction of seeing the work progress day after day will make up for it, unlike the changeless agony of, say, trying to keep a condo clean and tidy while you're selling it.

[Posted at 05:17 by Amy Brown] link