Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I've gone missing, and a lot has happened. The biggest news is that I am starting a new job tomorrow. After 6 years of throwing my heart into the same job, a perfect storm occured and I was offered an opportunity I couldn't pass up, so I jumped.

It was both exhilerating and terrifying. I stood in my boss's office just over 3 weeks ago and bawled telling her I'd been offered a new job, and here I sit one day before starting that job both thrilled and scared like crazy.

But before starting this new phase in my life I took all my PTO pay-out money and snuck my family away for 2 days at Disneyland and California Adventure. It was so worth it.

(Yes, my 5 and 3 yaer olds went on the Tower of Terror...and were champs. This was our second time. That's me on the far left in the middle row in green and black. Luca is next to me, burying her face in my arm, and Mo is next to her staring at her as she buries her face in my arm. Darrick is in the 4th seat over.)

Monday, September 3, 2012


This morning's crafty fun time involved a roll of butcher paper and my kids' first introduction to oil pastels.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I shit you not, this morning a commercial for laser hair removal made me cry. Not because I have an epic she-beard and I'm sensitive to the topic. Because of one little line in it, which I can't even remember word for word right now. But the gist was this:

Moms, need some time to yourself to recharge? Get laser hair removal.

And I found myself thinking, "If I could afford it, I'd totally get laser hair removal. JUST so I could have an hour of quiet that was all about me."

And then I cried.

And from the backseat, my carpool buddy said to me, "What's wrong mama? Why are you making that sad face?" and I was surprised because, truly, I thought for sure that I was hiding the tears. Stealth, silent, ninja tears like we moms get used to shedding. Tears that release that little bit of frustration or anger or sadness or just plain emotional overwhelmedness without alerting the mini-people that mama is seriously losing her shit.

I did the only thing you can do when caught mid ninja-cry. I played dumb, "What do...um...why do you ask Luca? What face?"

And, in the rearview mirror, her eyes scrunched up empathetically, she nodded her head and tilted it to the side and said, "Oh mama, it's ok to be sad sometimes. We all get frustrated. I know you love me even when you're mad."

The ninja-cry dropped from its perch among the ceiling beams with a HEE-YAAAAAAAA! and became real tears.

Because I lost my patience.

Because I was running late, again.

Because the shoes we just bought her a month ago no longer fit.

Because I would consider a laser 3 cm from my face if it meant an hour of quiet and someone focusing only on making me happy.

"Is it because you're gonna be late for work again? It's ok, mama. Grandma can walk me to school. No one cares if you're late to Kindergarten."

Because she forgot her backpack at Grandma's yesterday and I got mad at her for forgetting.

Because I don't even want to GO to f-in' work.

Because I need a date night with my husband. Preferably one that involves sleeping in the next day.

Because I miss so much, every day.

So I made a decision right there. Late to work be damned, I was going to stop by grandma's for the orphaned backpack, park down the street, and walk my kid to school. I was going to tell her with my words ("Luca, I AM going to be late to work. But you matter more.") and my actions. I was going to hold her hand the whole way from our car to the playground, then watch her run free to give an excited hug to her best school friend. I was going to stand on the edge of the playground watching my kid be a kid and enjoying every second of it.

When the bell rang, I walked with her and two friends over to the morning line up spot. I listened to the girls giggle together and soaked it in. "I love Justin Bieber!" one of her friends announced. "Are you gonna make him fall in love and marry you????" the other girls asked back, in excited little-girl voices full of laughter. "YES!" proclaimed the Future Mrs. Bieber. And they giggled and held hands.

Behind me, as I stood there waiting, I heard one mom say to another, "I saw you the other day! In Scottsdale!" The second mom asked, "Do you work up there?" And the first mom replied, "Oh GOD no! I was on the way to my plastic surgeon!"

And in front of me, three girls slipped pink and purple and sparkle and pony backpacks on little shoulders, giggling together and holding hands. I watched them walk into school and I wish I could say I had some mom-moment epiphany about creating a world where by the time my kid's a mom herself there aren't moms talking about plastic surgery at kindergarten drop off.

She may not be the boss tha pays my bills, but she looks Boss in that outfit.

But I didn't. Because not every I-had-a-shitty-mom-morning event wraps up neat and tidy, cue audience applause. Because I walked to the car contemplating how I can save every dime between now and whenever and find a way to be home more. Because I imagined a conversation in which I don't cower at the idea of telling my boss I need more flexibility and more time with my kids. Because I need more time with my kids, but damn if I wouldn't let some technician super-analyze my momstache if it meant an hour, just for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Best Girl.

Mornings are different this year, with 2 kids off to 'school'. Darrick showers while I settle the just-waking kids onto the couch with a blankie and some breakfast (and usually Bubble Guppies on TV) so I can start the coffee and pack lunches. The kids get dressed (he with help, she in whatever outfit she chose herself thankyouverymuchMOM). I am still packing lunches. Rohan comes in scrounging for something more to eat because one breakfast is rarely enough for a growing 3 year old boy who's built like a kindergartener. I am still packing lunches. Darrick comes downstairs and helps the kids finish getting ready while I run up to jump in a quick shower and grab some clothes for me to wear, slapping moisturizer on my face before heading back downstairs.

Darrick gets his things ready as I stand in front of a big mirror hanging on the wall and do my makeup while keeping one eye trained on my kids' reflections in the mirror so I can prompt them periodicially.
"Rohan. Your shoes? Put on shoes, buddy." (dot concealer on undereye circles)
 "Luca-bear, we have 5 minutes. Did you brush your hair? You don't need to whine. Your brush is right where you left it yesterday." ('...on the floor where it doesn't belong' I think to myself and line my eyes)
"ROHAN. Are you listening to me? Shoes. Your SHOES. Well, did you put them in your shoe bin like you're supposed to when you get home? What do you mean you don't know? Why don't you LOOK?" (use mascara wand to point to shoe bin below front entrance table, apply mascara).
"Luca, can you please get your backpack ready?" (run brush through hair)
"Rohan, sweetie, I can SEE your shoes from here. Buddy. BUDDY. Look. Look right there. Right there. NO, not in the kitchen. Right THERE in the SHOE BIN." (mentally recite Bill Cosby stand-up to self as I dress)

By the time we head out the door, I consider it a good morning if the kids haven't cried about being asked to put on shoes and brush hair and if everyone remembered their bags and lunches. And if I remembered shoes because, true story, I have left the house without them more than once in the mad morning rush.

My reward for the morning rush, though, is Luca as a carpool buddy. We ride together to her grandma's house, me sipping my coffee and her working diligently in one of her 'learning books', tracing letters and numbers and counting and adding and just generally preparing to be smarter than her mama in 10 more years. Everywhere we go now, under one arm she tucks an activity book, and grasped tight in the other hand are 2 or 3 markers. Her hands are perpetually stained with marker in a variety of colors. Sometimes her face has marker on it as well. Every few minutes on the ride, she asks me how to draw a '6' or what color she should make the pig she's drawing. We talk about school and she asks me questions about things she's learning. When we get to grandma's, she jumps out of the car and gives me kisses and hugs me tight before running off to another day of adventure, and despite the whining over brushing hair or what shoes are ok for P.E. day and the frustration of rushed mornings and long days of work ahead, I feel so lucky to get that time with my best girl.

The 10 quiet minutes with Luca alone each morning are the best way to kick off my day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Answer to the Question, "How's Rohan Adjusting to Preschool?" is...

Check out the comment at the bottom. I removed the girl's name, but this would be the 4th little girl whose name I've heard mentioned in connection with Rohan. Three weeks into school and my boy is already a Casanova.
I asked him about the girl because I don't know who she is. His response? "Oh, she said I can come over to her house sometime to watch movies together." Trollop.
I'd say he's adjusting just fine, thanks for asking.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Learning to Let Them Go.

Last night before bed, Luca picked her outfit for the first day of kindergarten: a brown dress with pink polka dots and her new brown shoes. Rohan asked me to get his orange 'buttons' shirt, and I selected some new khaki shorts to go with it. I packed Luca's lunch, cutting her turkey sandwich ino a star and a letter 'L' and including a strawberry cupcake she chose at the grocery store. I scrawled 'Rohan K' on the inside of an old t-shirt and pair of shorts with a Sharpie and tied them into a bag with his name on the outside. Extra clothes for school, in case he has an accident. Luca's bag was packed with her purple pencil case and a towel for after-lunch rest time. Everything was ready to go.

We took a bath together, the three of us, washing the manes and tails of every My Little Pony in the house and also washing Luca and Rohan's new hairstyles. Hers: bangs. His: short and neat.

Before bed, Luca told me she was worried about kindergarten because even though she can count, "Sometimes I skip a number." I assured her it was ok, and that lots of kids skip numbers and she was goign to school so she could learn how to remember ALL the numbers when she counts. That seemed to satisfy her, and before she rolled over to close her eyes she smiled at me and told me she was excited to start school.

This morning both kids were still sleeping when I got out of bed, so I went and woke them by rubbing their back and telling them it was time for school. Luca jumped out of bed, excited to put on her pretty dress and take her new backpack to class. Mo was a little slower going, telling me several times that he didn't want to go to preschool. I got them downstairs, dressed, and sitting in front of Bubble Guppies so I could finish getting everything ready to go.

The morning was punctuated with Rohan's sadface, as he told me several times he didn't want to go to preschool. I didn't know what to say to him other than to fill him with platitudes about how preschool is super fun and he's going to make a lot of new friends and learn new things. It didn't work. He was curled on the recliner in a ball telling me he didn't want to go. Even Luca chimed in, telling him how she was worried about preschool but it ended up being so fun and she made lots of friends. He still wasn't convinced entirely.

We parked down the street from the elementary school, following a crowd of other parents as they led kids large and small to the playground to line up for their first day. Each of my hands held a tiny hand of one of my children, and if you think for a second I didn't feel the power of that moment you must never have met me.

We got to school a few minutes before the first bell, found the spot where Luca's class lines up in the mornings, and waited. I could tell Luca was nervous, and Rohan could too which made him nervous which in turn made ME nervous and on the verge of tears. We stood together in a cluster eyeing the other kids and their parents. I was trying to guess which kids would be the nicest and hoping my kid would be seated next to them, and Luca was probably admiring all the Hello Kitty backpacks jealously. Her teacher made her rounds, checking to be sure all the right kids were in her line and she knew how they were all to get home every day that week and I tried to look friendly by half-smiling at the other parents while behind my sunglasses my eyes nervously scanned the group of new kids and parents.

I leaned in close to her, feeling very sentimental as every ounce of mama love burned in my throat, and whispered into her cheek, "Luca, I'm so very very proud of you and school is going to be amaz--" and she cut me off. "Mom," she said impatiently, "your breath stinks like coffee." Sentimental moment over.

I wasn't sure how Luca would do when the time came to walk into the school with her class. After two years of preschool this is sort of old hat to her, but it was a different school and this is a new teacher and new classmates and new rules and a new schedule. Leading up to the first week, she was really excited, so we went with that and played up the excitement in the hopes it would pay off the first day. And while she was a bit nervous, clinging to my hand most of the morning, when the time came to kiss her good-bye she was ready to go.

We stood there, Mo and I, watching her walk away from us and into big kid school. She turned several times and waved, blowing kisses as we enthusiastically waved and blew kisses back. I snapped pictures through tears I'd held in until that moment, and as she passed through the doors and disappeared down the hall to her first day of Kindergarten, I turned with Rohan, took 4 steps across the basketball court, and was stopped cold by a wave of heavy tears. Rohan was looking at me sadly, so I scooped him into my arms as I cried, and he burrowed his head under my chin, his right cheek flat against my collarbone and his left arm stretched wide to pull me into a hug.

That moment? I will never forget it. And when I looked down into my son's big blue eyes, he was crying too. We stood there for a moment, holding each other together, then he walked beside me to the car holding my hand the whole way there.

The ride to preschool for Rohan's first day was quiet. My right arm was stretched into the back seat, and he held my right hand in both of his for the whole drive. We got there much too fast and before I knew it I was unbuckling Rohan's carseat and pulling his backpack out to rest it on his shoulders. Thankfully, his hesitation and nerves had calmed some and he didn't try to change my mind about leaving him in preschool that day. Because, I swear, if he'd asked me at that moment to let him stay home one more day I would have burrowed him to me and whisked him home so we could snuggle on the couch together for a whole day.

There wasn't much time for long sentimental good-byes once we got to preschool. Most of the kids were there already and the class was just sitting down for circle time. One of the high schoolers that works in the class came right over and greeted Rohan, taking his hand and leading him to his space on the rug. And suddenly, I had two kids in school. Just like that. Babies, done. Kids, here.

I knew I should leave, but I couldn't. I needed one more hug and kiss from my son. Needed to sniff his skin and feel the softness of his blonde hair and remind him to be good and kind and listen well. So I waited patiently for circle time to end and the kids to go wash their hands and I grabbed him and held him close to me for a kiss. And then, I watched him walk away and join the other kids at the little circular table for snacks.

I walked out alone, sat in my car, and let the tears come. I was crying from pride that a new phase of their lives is starting, and in equal measure from sadness that the last chapter is ending. No longer can I even pretend they are my babies. They are big kids now, with classmates and teachers and lunch bags and friends. They bring home pictures and classwork with their names scrawled across the top. They ask questions such as, "Mama, how does a car turn all the wheels the same at once?" (him) and, "Are whales mammals? Because I know that dolphins are and whales feed their babies milk too."
Learning to let them go and let them grow up is hard for me. I absolutely adore the people they are becoming. I beam at the praise from their teachers. I smile when I hear about new friends and eating in a cafeteria and recess and music class and share day. My throat tightens and my heart feels like it will burst as I witness them growing minute by minute into the little adults they will someday become.

This will be a big year. I'm trusting my kids to teachers and other families and their kids. I'm letting my kids go and grow. And I cannot wait to look back at this time in our lives and remember it sweetness.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Building Rememberies,.

Yesterday I had to travel for work to attend a candidate forum. On a whim I decided to take Luca with me. I figured having a buddy for the 6 hours in the car (3 each way) and dinner in a small town couldn't suck. And she felt pretty damn special. So: win, win.

We left my mom's house (and an almost-napping Mo) to hit the road about 3. This particular trip took us through some reservation land and some farm land and it was one of those smack-you-in-the-eye-sockets beautiful days in Arizona.

Among the awesome topics of conversation, brought to you by the number 5 (as in years) and the letter L (as in _uca):

"Mom, how did the Earth get to be?"
"Mom, tell me everything you know about the moon?" (and then when I told her people walked on the moon: "Was that you and your friends?")
"Mom, let's think of baby names for the little brother and sister I want. Twins."

"Mom, do you know, like, anything about science? Why don't you tell me ALL the things you know about science?" (pretty sure I was being judged here)

Eventually she decided to 'read' her book. I think she's decided that she is destined to be smarter than I, so she's getting a jump on the whole deal by teaching herself to read.

And then she fell asleep. And the cuteness that is little kid napping, complete with puffy lips and big eyelashes made me think maybe she's onto something with her twins idea. True story.

The event itself was boring for her and marginally interesting for me. We entertained ourselves with Wiki Sticks, which now lead the pack as far as I'm concerned in the whole 'entertain your children quietly without a mess' field. She created a fishing game with the sticks, and then we built a village together.

After the forum, we went to a diner and had dinner and a chocolate milkshake. Required fare for any 5 year old road-tripping and getting politically savvy, right?

On the drive home, she was wound up on over-tired and excessively-sugared adrenaline and wouldn't stop talking. No, seriously. For like 35 minutes straight she just jabbered on and on about what happened at story time last week and that one bracelet she got at Peter Piper 2 years ago and what an epic disappointment I am at knowing things about the moon and how her daddy like 'gangsta music' such as 'that song about sexy and I know it'.

Just before she passed out at 11:30 pm an hour away from home, the quote of the day happened.

"Mama," she said. "I got to come with you today and Rohan's already home in bed. And that's because I am 5 and he is 3. I can listen gooder and behave when you ask. And, I have a gooder remembery. I do. Have a gooder one. A remembery."


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Master Bathroom Renovation, the Pictures.

Our new view from the master bedroom.

Restained vanities (Minwax Dark Walnut), new counters (American Standard Newbern from Home Depot) with new faucets (Glacier Bay from Home Depot), new towels (Target Home Blue Crab bath sheets and Target Home Trout Stream hand towels). The mirror is the same one we had before, but we raised it up about 4 inches to acommodate the higher vanities. 

The refinished light fixtures = love. In the corner here you can see our toothbrush holder, which is an old Ball jar. We have a ton of these, all from back before the 1950s. My grandparents live on a very old property in nothern LA and one year Grandpa found hundreds of old glass containers buried at the far end of their back yard. He saved them in a shed, and when he died my Grandma wanted to clean the shed so she asked us to take whatever we wanted. We have a few dozen really cool and unique old glass jars and containers, and I loved how this one fit in here.

The ceiling, door, and trim were all painted Behr Bright White in high gloss. I love bright white high gloss.

This is where the shower wall meets the door. We decided to tile all the way over to the door just in case water gets outside of the curtain. Better waterproof than sorry. You'll also notice I didn't do the best job every painting those door hinges. I like this picture because it's a good close up of the grout and the accent tile AND the paint color. The grout was my husband's choice and I threw a FIT about it because it's GRAY and I wanted WHITE. And it was the hugest pain in the entire bathroom, in part beause it was epoxy grout which is notoriously difficult to work with and in part because gray on white meant we had to be meticulous or mistakes would show.

When all was said and done, I still wished we'd bought white but I actually don't hate the gray. It brings a little more life into the shower and ties into the new faucets, light fixtures, and other accessories. The color is Delorean Gray from Custom Building Products at Home Depot. The link looks a lot darker and bluer than it does in real life. It's a pretty true mid-gray in person.

Those accent tiles are their own story. Originally we bought the small green tiles with the idea of making a row of them and then doing some equally-spaced square tiles above, tilted on an angle so they are diamonds and not squares. We picked up about 10 of the tiles you see above, which were actually square before I 'customized' them by cutting them into subway tile shape. The tiles were on clearance, and we bought the 10 the store had expecting it to be enough and then it took several weeks to get to the place where we wanted to start the accents. Once we had the row of small green tiles in place, I nixed placing the squares on an angle. Honestly? It felt very sparse and outdated to me. I wanted something more one-of-a-kind.

I ended up sitting on it for a few more weeks as we slowly added a few rows of white at a time. When I couldn't sit on it any longer, I knew I had to make a decision. I spent several hours measuring out spacing and taping tiles to the Hardiebacker with painters tape to see if I liked the look. I hated every combination I could create with those square tiles, but I LOVED the tiles. So I decided I needed MORE and then I could do something different with them. We went to 3 Home Depots with no luck. At the last one, a really nice lady offered to ask her manager if we could buy the samples that were grouted to a sample board and hung on the wall. Assuming we could remove all the tiles on there and they would be useful, we'd have 9 more tiles. She took my number but I never thought I'd hear from her again.

Two days later, she called. She couldn't sell me the floor sample, but she had located 14 more tiles someone had returned, now on clearance for $0.74 each. Did I want them? I did, but after inspecting them a bit and discovering some had been placed and grouted, then removed from the grout and cleaned to return (and thus had some damage) we ended up with 11 of them.

I took them home and started playing around with configurations and landed on the one above. I cut each tile in half (face down is the best way, as it reduced chipping) and laid them out and it was a perfect fit in terms of the number of tiles we had exactly matching what was needed.

Once I had the tiles all in place, I hated the two horizontal accent lines. I sat on this for over a month not wanting to grout it into place because grout would make it feel permanent and I was sure I was going to hate it.

And then one day, I looked in the bathroom and fell in love. I love the colors. I love that it's totally 'us'. I love that there is no bathroom in the world exactly like ours. I was sold.

And above we have Exhibit 2 of the My Husband Is Right Sometimes Too. I came home from work one day to find this shower curtain laying across our bed, attached to that new shower curtain rod (both from Target) and I was annoyed. I had this image in my mind of a white, bright shower curtain and here was THIS thing with stripes...and a few true blue stripes at that. Our bathroom is decidedly NOT true blue. I immediately revolted, moaning about how it was sure to not match and it was too blue and why did HE get to pick it out and and and...he told me as gently as possible that he loved it and wanted me to see it in place before judging. SURE it would be a horrible fit, I smugly agreed.

And he was right. Would it have been MY first pick? No. Not even now, knowing it looks good in there. But is marriage about ME getting MY first pick all the time? No. Only MOST of the time. ;)

The shower curtain is Target Home Aquamarine, and the floor rugs are Target Home in Trout Stream.

And then there is the wall color. The wall color was tricky in that we had green and blue and white and gray happening in here and figuring out the best match was tough. We had a bajillion samples and then one day the whole family went to Home Depot and looked together. My husband found a few he liked and we were comparing them to some tile samples we had from home and feeling like any of them COULD work, but none of them were super exciting.

I had grabbed a Martha Stewart Metallics collection sample or two before, loving the silver and pearl colors. Darrick wasn't too into either of those, but I found myself gravitating to that section again and suddenly grabbed a new color and added it to the mix of samples we were debating. It was an immediate winner for us both so we bought it and never looked back.

The color is Martha Stewart Metallics Tide Pool, and it's heaven on earth. The trick with this paint is that you have to follow their directions and not give up after one coat. Because after one coat, it was streaky and really green in most lights, though it photographed decidedly bright turqoise.

After a second coat, however, it looks amazing! You have to use a lot of paint (this bathroom is maybe 12'x12' and we used nearly a full gallon) and be patient and meticulous, but it's 100 billion majillion times worth the effort. As you could see above, it picks up some of those blues in the accent tiles in the shower. It also goes well with the green tiles, which have a bit of a mother-of-pearl sheen themselves in some lights. And it changes quite a bit depending on your angle and the type and brightness of light in the room, from definitively blue to aqua to teal to a sea glass color. The sheen is subtle (think a pearl finish rather than a reflective metallic) which I think is perfect on textured bathroom walls in a smallish room. All in all, I am in LOVE with this paint.

So there you have it. The master bathroom renovation in pictures and lots of words. I have plans to put all the details and costs together, more for my own curiosity than anything else. Ballpark, given the amount of work we did ourselves and how much we managed to reuse rather than replace, I think we spent about $1800-2000 from start to finish: ripping down to studs and subfloors and building back up again. No matter what we spent, however, the fact is simple: we LOVE this bathroom and it was a major accomplishment for us all around!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Master Bathroom Renovation, the Steps.

We still have one small step left, but it's not an essential one so I am calling this bathroom renovation complete.

Do you have any idea how AMAZING it feels to say that????

Let me rewind. When we bought our house, the bathroom looked like this:

I'll be honest and say I never LOVED it, but it didn't really bother me. On our list when house hunting was a big tub we could soak in, and this bathroom had it. It also had saltillo to match that in the other bathroom and downstairs. I always found it odd that the previous owners painted a dark brown set of stripes on that one wall and put in oil rubbed bronze fixtures while leaving the sink and shower faucets builder silver and the vanities honey brown. But all in all it was an en-suite master bathroom with a big tub and I didn't HATE it, so I made do. Truth be told, on the list of home updates and renovations I wanted to get done, this wasn't even ranked.

And then, on New Year's Day 2012, I gave the kids and bath and a few minutes after the tub had drained Darrick went into the garage to get something and saw water dripping from the garage ceiling, right below the bathroom.

So began our first ever complete bathroom renovation. We've done tile and paint and replacing faucets and fixtures before, but never a complete strip down (to the studs in some places) and rebuild.

The first step turned out to be removing the tile because it sat in front of the tub apron so it had to come out for the tub to be removed.

Once the tile was out, we pulled off the surround walls, and then we were able to pull the tub out with no effort at all.

Which is a big, fat lie. That tub was a complete pain to remove, resulting in me frantically going to get the jack for my car to try to lift one end while my husband Hulk smashed the sucker out.

And we started the process of removing the long countertop that bridged the two vanities. I loved that space below the counters when we first moved in, dreaming of uses for it. But eventually it had turned into a big gaping place for trash, empty toilet paper rolls, and dirty clothes to pile up and be ignored. So we had to remove the backspash and decide what to do with the counter and vanities.

After debating various ways to remove it in an effort not to destroy it so that hopefully it could be sold on Craigslist or donated to the ReStore, we realized we couldn't remove it without it being damaged. So it got the sledgehammer treatment just like the tub had.

This same weekend, we pretty much gutted the tub and shower area and started the work of fixing the plumbing. We still naively thought we'd be able to fix that, pop in a tub, tile, paint, and be done. We're so cute when we're naive.

This is also when I decided for sure to stain the vanities darker. Our original plan was to remove the doors and drawer fronts and leave the vanities in place, but we later changed our minds and removed them to build a base that would make them higher.

I also decided at this point to refinish the lights and fixtures in brushed nickel, since I'm not really an oil-rubbed bronze kind of girl. I still think it's one of the best choices we made, in addition to changing out the globes to lighter ones.

This was also the timeframe when we bought our tub (Habitat for Humanity ReStore purchase, new in the box) and started to prep the tub and shower area by moving the showerhead up about 6 inches and putting up Hardiebacker.

Then FINALLY we had the tub in, Hardiebacker up, and we were ready to start tiling the shower surround. This was a weeks-long process as we did it when we had a few hours here or there and it required a lot of care.

In the meantime, Darrick cut out some old rotted subfloor, replaced it, fixed the pipes below the floor that go to the toilet, and figured out that subflooring on a second floor bathroom means several layers.

Pretty soon, we had shower tile done and faucets put back in place, and then it was time to choose paint and install a new toilet and pick out accessories.

Finally, we installed tile base'boards' and painted the ceiling, door and trim pure bright white last weekend. And this weekend? A final coat of paint, fixtures re-hung, accessories in place! Unbelievably, we're done enough to call it done!

Yes, there are more pictures. And more details, including paint color and accessory information and a cost breakdown. But for today, there's this huge rundown of all we accomplished in the past 6 months and a feeling of complete joy.


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