House Notes // Vinyl Tile

>> 9.18.2014

We're chugging away at a few house projects before we decide to let it be for a while. Most notably, we've started re-"tiling" the entry area and kitchen/bathroom with the vinyl tile I wrote about in our Frugal Bathroom Refresh post. And wow what a difference it has made to our main level!

First? The entry. We had to remove the old slab of vinyl flooring that was already down in the area. It was raised quite a bit from the wood floors surrounding, so we weren't quite sure how many layers we'd uncover. Turns out, it was only one with a thick cardboard-like backing.

After scrubbing the area with warm water + vinegar and letting dry, we could begin laying the self-stick tiles. I laid most of the ones that didn't need major cuts while Stephen and his dad figured out the tricky pieces. (I did the whole floor myself in the basement bathroom and wanted a break from all the measuring!)

PS: Is there anything vinegar can't do? Here's my post on 15 ways we use it in/around the home for a nontoxic, wonderful clean.

After some grout and letting set, the floor in the entry was complete -- and gorgeous. All for the low price of $1.79/sq foot (minus a 10% off discount coupon). For those of you who are curious, we went with TrafficMASTER Ceramica 12x24 tiles in Coastal Grey and the premixed grout that's made for vinyl tiles.

I plan to paint the back of the front door the same red to bring a pop of color indoors. We also removed the old, stained carpet that led up the stairs and would love to get a runner on there sometime after making a few repairs to the wood itself.

We're almost done tiling the kitchen floor. The bathroom comes next. We didn't initially think we'd be re-flooring these spaces, but the old vinyl that was already down is stained (can't clean the marks off) and even scratched from when we moved in.

Hopefully we'll get some after photos soon!

Remember our gigantic and awesome Craigslist Couch?

We're in love with it, and I'm so glad we searched around online before heading to the furniture store to buy something new. We get a mix of reactions when we explain it's a used couch, but it's in wonderful, solid condition and seems like it will stay that way for years and years.

The only issue? Some dry spots, a little "normal use" staining (from things like dark wash jeans, food, etc.), and a little wear + tear.

The folks at Leather Honey were kind enough to send me a couple of their products to help revive the leather. What I like most about this product (and I researched MANY options, including full re-dying kits) is that it's 100% all-natural and non-toxic, non-solvent, and -- bonus -- made in the USA since 1968.

// INFO: 

  • There's Leather Cleaner where the small bottle makes 32 fluid ounces of cleaner suitable for apparel, furniture, auto interior, and more. 
  • After you complete that process and let dry, you use the Leather Conditioner which smooths and shines, leaving a water repellent finish without oily residue. 
  • You use these Lint-Free Application Cloths that are soft and won't scratch or otherwise harm the leather.

I've cleaned our couch and let it dry. Now I just need the time to do the conditioning, and I can't wait to share the results with you guys.

Disclaimer: Leather Honey sent me their products to try. I wasn't compensated in any other way. My opinions are my own, and honestly -- I was so happy to find an all-natural product to use versus the other stuff I was uncovering in my search.

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From The Trenches: The Terrible Threes

>> 9.17.2014

As we round the corner into three-year-old territory, things are changing around these parts. I thought we may well have skipped over that whole terrible two stage with only a couple months of trying behavior. Boy, was I wrong. Whatever is going on now is certainly trying our patience, and as I chat with my mom-friends, I realize I'm not alone.

Can you relate? (Also: These aren't a list of grievances. Read them with a somewhat jovial tone -- ok? Parenting is tough stuff, and sometimes all you can do is marvel and make light at the insanity of it all!)



I mentioned in a potty training post a while back that one of the big reasons we waited to finish training for so long was because each and every nighttime routine became a struggle. "I need to potty..." turned into 45 minutes on the toilet with a few drops. Followed by 10 minutes of "sleep" and another "I need to potty!" plea. Repeat a few times and, well, the night ends with all of us going to bed pretty darned late. Stalling in different ways has extended to pretty much every area of life, from naps to dinnertimes.


Our always very verbal gal is in hyperdrive these days. And while I love seeing those mind-gears working, there are times when I simply can't take another question. What's that? Turns into: "But why?" And another: "But . . . why?" And pretty soon I'm trying to answer the fundamental questions like the meaning of life. Sometimes the sky is blue because it's just blue, baby.


The answer to almost every question in this house is no. Even before the question is totally understood. "Honey, can you please pick up your doll?" NO! "Ada, I'd like you to hold my hand in the parking lot." NO, mama! "Ada, do you want chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles?" NO! --- Wait, YES!


I have no idea where the hitting came from, but Ada slaps and kicks us. We don't model this behavior, so it's a bit of a mystery. It's a huge problem in public, too. Once we were playing in a store at the train table. I mentioned we needed to go home. Picked her up to put her back in the cart. And -- SLAP! Off came my glasses all the way across an aisle with there horrified new-ish moms watching the whole thing (probably thinking about how their sweet baby will NEVER act like that . . . hahaha I know I had thoughts like those back in the sleepy newborn days too.)


Along with the hitting and slapping comes the screaming and yelling. The jelly arms. The dead-weight body that is hard to lift. I know at this stage, the outbursts (hitting, etc.) are all about impulse control. Emotions that are hard to express in any other way but explosion. I guess I innocently thought tantrums sort of stopped in the 2s.


"I not want you, mommy!" She'll wake with this phrase every couple days and proceed to act like I don't exist. And then Stephen will get in on the fun, too, and pretty soon we're both invisible. It sort of goes back to the No category, too, because our requests and gentle commands are frequently ignored. We've learned to be simpler with our language. More direct with requests. It's helped a little, but sometimes we feel the only way we're heard is if we promise the world with incentives.


To add insult to injury, my kid will now laugh in my face if I'm upset about something. "Mommy is very frustrated" is met with a giggle as two tiny hands pushing my cheeks together to contort my face in a way that's so hilarious my words dissolve in thin air. On the few occasions I raise my voice (OK -- I do yell sometimes, and I'm working on it), there's no respect the volume commands. Instead, a huge smile and "You sound so LOUD mommy!"


Sadly, I've read that the Terrible 2s have now been replaced by the Terrible 3s. I thought it was all hogwash, but now I'm a believer. There are a lot of ways we can address each of these issues. Too bad they all climaxed in their intensity at once. It's been overwhelming, but we're slowly getting a handle on the situation(s).

Expect the unexpected.
Keel calm, carry on.
This, too, shall pass.

Here's some related reading:

Ignoring: Why It Happens and What To Do About It
Why Toddlers Always Say NO!
Positive Discipline: 3YO Tantrums
5 Strategies To Handle Hitting
Gentle Techniques for Managing Bedtime Stalling
10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids
Handling The Terrible Twos, Threes, Fours

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Goodbye, Grandma

>> 9.16.2014

My grandmother (dad's mom) left us earlier this month after a somewhat short battle with cancer. She was diagnosed stage 4 pancreatic at the end of August, was given months, but died less than two weeks later. Last Friday we trekked home with other family for the funeral services and burial. It was exactly this time last year that we watched our neighbor Jack succumb to this terrible disease.

Then + now:

We feel really fortunate that Ada has gotten to know most of her great grandparents on my side. The only one she didn't get a chance to meet is my grandfather, the guy smoking the pipe in the birthday photo. He died after a massive heart attack a couple days after I turned 7 back in 1990. Twenty-four years later, my grandmother has now joined him in the family plot.

The last time we saw my grandma was back in late June when Ada and I stayed in Wellsboro for a week. We went to a local farm store with her and my dad and got ice cream. During that visit, my grandmother was particularly candid. I told her we might start trying for baby number 2, and she gabbed about each of her five pregnancies, including a 6th one I didn't know about that was ectopic.

My mom has always told me I might get some of my from-scratch cooking abilities from my grandma. Thankfully one of my uncles collected a bunch of her recipes into a small cookbook a few years ago so we can all enjoy certain foods she made for us over the years. I'll be leafing through that soon to post a recipe or two on (never)homemaker.

A blessing in disguise was getting to see family from across the country we never get a chance to connect with over the weekend. Ada had a lot of fun running around the town green with her cousins and second cousins and whatever technical names you use for the rest of your blood-relations who are somewhat removed. Makes us wish we lived closed.

Losing a family member is never easy, but we are thankful that my grandmother didn't experience pain too long after her diagnosis. Still, I've seen far too many friends and family suffer with cancer, especially within the last year. Please keep up regular doctor appointments and do self-checks, etc. It can strike at any age, unfortunately.

Donations to the American Cancer Society can be made here.

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