A Tale of Two Bathrooms

>> 9.01.2014

One of the bigger selling points of our new house was that it had more than one toilet. We survived just fine with a single bathroom at our old place, but it wasn't always convenient or fun, let's just say that. We now have 2.5 bathrooms -- one on each level -- and I still forget and rush upstairs to shower or do other bathroom things.

Our whole decorating philosophy in this house is to paint, reuse/repurpose what we can, and take our time. So far, we've been doing just that . . . and these two bathrooms are a great example of some really inexpensive DIY solutions that have made our lives better and a bit prettier, too.

The half bath off the kitchen was painted a dark brown when we moved in.

We had bought some matte black paint to do the ceiling in the basement, but when that project didn't work out -- I decided to put the paint to good use in the bathroom. The brown was too warm for what we're trying to do, and the black makes a statement without being too overwhelmingly dark with all that white beadboard.

We still have a few things to do in this room, but it's really almost done. Mostly, the flooring is really scuffed up and stained. We ordered some 12 x 24 inch vinyl tile in a "costal grey" from Lowe's that we'll grout. We actually bought enough to do the entire bathroom, kitchen, and entry with the same flooring. Very excited for it to arrive!

I think the total cost with the art, paint, accessories, etc. comes in around $60. With the tile, I think the grand total will be around $100 for this total bathroom refresh.

We used similar vinyl tile in the basement bathroom.

Yikes. I didn't share the before photo of our basement bathroom in the initial tour -- and guesses as to why? Hahahah -- yeah. Rough shape. It was carpeted with BOAT carpet. Loads of dark paneling on the walls. All sorts of grossness. It even flooded a couple days after we moved in because a pipe was clogged between the bathroom and washing machines on the other side of the wall.

We have also had quite a few guests this summer, so we got right to work with paint.

And this!

The vinyl tile is the same stuff we ordered for upstairs, just in a lighter color from Home Depot. It cost less than $30 to do the floor in this room, and it looks like real tile, feels durable, etc. I laid it all myself and Stephen grouted -- team effort. We obviously need some better lighting and possibly a vent fan for this space.

But I don't mind putting my bare feet on here:

We also cozied up the space with some curtains on the side wall that has a couple access panels to the furnace and water heater. I love using curtains to mask ugly stuff and create new spaces. We got them at Target and hung with one of those white cheap metal extension rods. We used an old mirror for behind the sink (it used to live here -- remember my $100 coat storage project?). And I purchased a behind-the-toilet storage rack and linen basket for our guests.

Total cost of this room with paint, etc.: $170. We'll have more stuff to add, but I think it's a great start on a small budget.

What small home projects have you been tackling? Any $$$ tips to share?

Oh! And if you missed my weekend post -- I rarely post on weekends -- check out back-to-school essentials for preschoolers!

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Back-To-School Shopping

>> 8.30.2014

School starts on Tuesday for Stephen. Ada begins preschool 2 mornings a week mid-month. Everywhere I look, I see brightly colored backpacks, 3-ring binders, and lots of tiny kids shopping for fall clothes. So, I thought I'd compile a few fun things I think our smart preschoolers can enjoy to start the year off right.

What are your preschool essentials?

(From top left . . .)

Have a great weekend!

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Child-Led Potty Training Tips

>> 8.28.2014

So many transitions are happening over here right now. In the last month, Ada transitioned to being daytime potty trained . . . and she's staying pretty dry during naps and nights, too. I'm sort of pinching myself at how easy it was, though -- if I really think back -- we began the whole process long ago. Ada's preschool starts in September and, though they don't require potty training, it's nice to have it behind us. As a result, though, it looks like that big girl bed switch might come sooner rather than later.

Disclosure: This is (obviously) my first time to the rodeo, so I can never take an expert stance on any of this stuff. (Remember How I Killed Our Cloth Diapers?!) What I will share, though, are my experiences. Things that worked, things that didn't, and a few helpful tricks I discovered along the way. We didn't do some bootcamp or quick-fix training, so if you're looking for that, these tips might not be for you.

Regardless, this stuff worked, and Ada's trained well before her 3rd birthday.

Immerse Yourself, Slowly

Our pediatrician suggested we start discussing potty training with Ada as early as 18 months. She advised against potty training weekends or rushing the process. Instead, she said "trained by 3"(and she meant during the year between 3-4) could be a good goal. Since we had a lot going on in the second year anyway, I completely agreed that starting slow was our best bet.

We pulled out a portable potty chair and put it in the bathroom. We read books about going potty (below). The Daniel Tiger episode really helped with the potty song, which Ada still sings: "If you have to go potty -- STOP -- and go right away!" And I also brought her in with me often when I'd go to the bathroom. Eventually we also decided that we live the in-toilet training seats better, and we purchased a Sesame Street Toilet Seat that Ada loves making stories about while squatting.

Books Ada has enjoyed:

Once Upon a Potty -- Girl
A Potty for Me!
Sesame Street: Potty Time with Elmo
Where's the Poop?
Daniel Tiger Goes to the Potty

Daniel Tiger Episode:

Incentives Work

Even if you don't have a deadline date for potty training, using a little motivation boost can work to your advantage. If we thought Ada was getting closer to "getting it" -- we'd try a morning or afternoon in underwear (Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street, and even Frozen underwear!). We'd give her a couple M&Ms if she used the potty. Or some other small incentive, like a TV show or frozen yogurt trip (for bigger successes). If she had lots of accidents or didn't show interest (which happened on many days), we scrapped it -- no yelling or shaming.

As we got closer to being fully trained, the prizes got a bit bigger. One tool that helped in particular was one of those magnetic dress-up dolls by Melissa + Doug.

They make several dress-up dolls for girls and at least one for boys. The figure is wearing underwear and has lots of clothes. A couple weeks ago, Ada "won" this doll by having a completely dry afternoon. She pointed out immediately that the doll had "big girl undies" on and I pointed out that she, too, was a big girl.

Something clicked with it -- and we trained quickly after that.

Try, Try Again

Step back: Even when we stopped actively training, we kept potty talk in the lingo. We'd always offer to let her use the potty and -- eventually -- she ended up trained on #2. I don't think I've changed a poopy diaper in maybe 6 months. So, we kept with it. We'd always offer to let her go to the bathroom after waking or before going to sleep. If we noticed signs, we'd encourage her to try to sit on the potty, etc.

And if there's some other big transition (preschool, moving, baby, surgery, etc.) -- expect the potty to take a back seat. For example, we would make some headway and then go on vacation, and our efforts would crumble. We were also close to sealing the deal before we moved houses, and then that was the last thing on all our minds. A toddler can only take so much transition.

Keep Calm, Carry On

As kids Ada's age were trained left and right, I got a little frustrated. I mean, I thought time would be the trick, but I also thought the whole thing would happen much faster. I'm still glad I resisted rushing because I strongly believe it saved us both a load of frustration. Here are some notes from along the way to illustrate how this didn't happen overnight: Potty Training, Try 1 . . . and Just Like Starting Over.

The cool thing is that this potty training method led to very few accidents overall. Yes, we tried multiple times to get it right -- but once Ada was truly ready, had an understanding of her body and how it all works -- she just . . . was potty trained. She woke up one day and literally had one accident and has been dry ever since. We can even take her out to parks, stores, and anywhere and she'll tell us when she needs to go.

Always Check

Sometimes I feel like there's a lot of external pressure to potty train kids super early. I mean, a lot of preschools require it even for 2-year-olds! With several of the 3YO preschool programs I looked at for Ada, I asked this question because I didn't know if we'd be ready in time. When I asked, I was given an explanation that the recommendation is to be fully trained, but younger kids -- Ada is a young 3-year-old for her class -- are OK in pull-ups.

Lesson: It never hurts to at least ask if you child does not seem to be ready. And if they are totally strict, you can always check out other programs or just go from there.


I didn't enjoy potty training, but we finished the thing . . . and because we waited for Ada's signs of readiness, her maturity, and other important considerations, we escaped with few accidents and tears. And she won't be going off to kindergarten in diapers, right?! It's OK to wait a little longer if your child doesn't quite seem ready or interested. Oh, and this one is important: Don't always take advice from other parents, including mine. All kids are different -- so if you have concerns, chat with your pediatrician.

Did you take a child-led potty training approach?

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