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It was all good just a month ago…

Life has been really weird for the past month. Surreal. Bizarro.

We are all safe and healthy. But our house…our house is not right now.
But it will be again (like hopefully by October when our short term apartment lease runs out).   It’s a long, annoying story.  And generally I’m not really one to blog about my feeeeeeelings. But the series of events that have let up to today have been nothing short of surreal. And as crappy as what has transpired is – I also don’t want to forget this weird time in our lives.  You know, when we allegedly want to look back on all this and laugh in 5 years, as everyone keeps telling me.  And I also know that once it’s over and we are home again – the memory will feel fake. So I’m going to chronicle what I can chronicle now. Some parts I’m intentionally leaving out for privacy as we still don’t know how this story fully ends. Yes I’m being vague. But you can probably put two and two together as to why.
Screen shot from my IG account the morning of July 18, 2016:

Oh that silly asshole Irony.  Amiright?  So let’s rewind a little bit more to late June. Theodore (who has turned into suuuch a happy, smiling, go-with-the-flow baby) was still sleeping in our bedroom at 8 weeks old.  The plan was to get around to painting the new molding and doors in his nursery before moving him in. Yeah, remember when we had all the molding and doors replaced at the end of March while working on The Big Boy Room? So I never got around to painting them because I had Theodore a month early.  I was beginning to get some sleep and was gearing up to start painting. As everyone knows, this summer has been particularly hot. Our old AF HVAC had been running constantly, and because it’s old AF it was installed in our attic in like the 1840’s or something (just kidding our house was built in ’59). Apparently it’s way more common to install them in closets nowadays. Anyway.  
We hadn’t walked into the nursery in a few days. It was basically serving as storage so I honestly can’t tell you how many days it had been. But I walked in to get something, and out of the corner of my eye (or Tom’s eye, I can’t even remember who saw it first), there was BRIGHT GREEN FUZZY MOLD on the ceiling.  Like, this ish was new. And very happy in it’s environment. My plants outside the house are not that happy. I wish I could take credit for cultivating that amazing atmosphere for that mold on purpose.  We quickly realized the AC unit was directly above it in the attic. So we turned it off. We were leaving to go on a mini-vaca to a lake house on the NY/NJ border the next day for 4 days. We decided it could wait to be dealt with unpon our return.
We came home. We had one bumbling plumber come over and break stuff and tell me he had no idea what the problem was after 2 hours. Thanks guy. This was the last week of June and temps were hitting 100 degrees on the reg. I packed up the babes and high tailed it to my parents house in the Catskills. We did a little more due diligence the second time around in looking for an HVAC company and waited to get on their schedule. In the meantime Tom managed to put his foot through the ceiling one day while trying to poke around up there. Add it to list.

See that tiny patch of mold that we were losing our minds over? 

Skipping some of melodrama of the exact issues, at end of the day we needed a new HVAC system installed. I brought the kids home on July 5th to sit still in the stifling heat (there were not enough box fans in the world for those two days, luckily the boys handled the heat better than I did) so the workers could install the new system. And the guys were great. They stayed late 2 days in a row to get that system up and running for us, and our attic was easily well over 100 degrees. 

 ‘Your attic is a mess – this is going to take a while’

We called our usual interior contractors to come over and cut out the affected sheetrock and assess any other potential damage/treatment needed. As scary as the word ‘mold’ is to a homeowner (or a parent), the truth is that if the source is eliminated (broken, leaking HVAC) and the growth is removed, and everything is cleaned properly (patch of sheet rock, some insulation, lotso bleach), you really have nothing to worry about going forward. We breathed a nice cool sigh of relief.  Approximately two+ weeks of hot hell was over. Yipee! Our bad luck streak had officially ended. 

Let me just pause to say that it is f*cking comical to write that sentence out now. Folks, we thought that tiny patch of mold, a foot through the ceiling, and replacing the HVAC was the worst thing that could ever happen to us as homeowners.

In the meantime, we had gotten word that another set of contractors we had hired to basically redo our exterior (roof! siding! deck! fence!) were finally going to to start the work…you guessed it, the last week of my maternity leave.  July 18, 2016. See IG picture above if you already forgot what the real story is about.

To be continued…
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ORC: The Big Boy Room – Wallpaper & Closet! {ORC Spring 2016: Week 4}

So last weekend, Tom and I tackled the wallpaper wall. Cue the dramatic thunder and lighting sound effects…and then sweet birds tweeting as a rainbow emerges.

Maybe it was because I over worry, and Tom under worries, but putting up the wallpaper was surprisingly easy.  We did some mental prep work during the week, discussing our plan of attack to get the wall done in the limited hours we would have with the grandparents over.  I read and re-read this great post from Red House West about their experience putting up two sets of this particular wallpaper in Mera’s play room.

The wallpaper package itself suggests starting from left to right on your wall, and drawing a plumb line about 1 inch short of the actual width of the first panel (18 inches, so we drew our plumb line at 17 inches from the corner). This is to accommodate for not so straight sheetrock corners, so that excess inch gets trimmed in place.  It also ensures your next 6 or 7 panels should be parallel going across the wall.

We knew we were only going to use about 6 and half of the 8 panels because our wall is a little smaller than the mural itself. We thought about trying to start with the middle panel, so we would have a more symmetrical mural (the trees lower in the middle and get taller on the sides), but given the good advice on the package to start left to right, and my pregnancy brain turning to complete mush lately (more on that later) I couldn’t mentally deal with the math (I’m an accountant IRL. This bodes well for my co-workers my last few weeks of work).  Short story long, we did left to right.



We really found 4 of the 5 tips in the RHW post helpful, especially #1 – when it says soak for 30 seconds, they mean it.  We timed the first one (we had a plastic table out in the room and were soaking the paper in a large shallow tupperware) and about 15 seconds in, Tom and I were arguing over whether or not to wait the additional 15 seconds.  The argument went something like this: Tom “This is gooey, lets take it out” Me “No, can we follow the damn directions? Let’s wait” Tom “I’m telling you Kayla, this shit is ready” Me “Fine, what do I know” (Because I’m a real defeatist like that. This is why I’m not a lawyer).

You know what, Tom was right (as usual). The paper was definitely adequately soaked.  As was our floor as we gently pulled the paper out. And it went up just fine. We had more than enough time to iron out wrinkles and shift the paper on the wall. There was a lot of goo, and we had a bag of new lint free rags ready to soak it up. We also used my 18 inch plastic fabric ruler to help smooth out bubbles and excess goo. We didn’t buy any other supplies, and I’m glad we didn’t waste money on it. We didn’t even need the giant sponge I found in the garage.  Another tip we especially appreciated from RHW: we had extra razor blades for trimming the excess paper, and went through about 8 blades on the 7 sheets we used.

We continued this way, soaking for about 20 seconds, and putting the paper up and played around with it for about 10 minutes. We actually realized “booking” the paper wasn’t working for us. I think if you had to put up paper yourself, this is probably great, but we had Tom on a stool attaching and shifting, and me crouched near the floor, holding the paper away from the wall ever so slightly so we would only attach it as Tom was ready to smooth it out.  We did the whole wall in less than two hours, with a little lunch break in between while my MIL put William down for his nap. Granted, this was a shorter wall, no windows, nothing crazy to cut around. And the print itself is VERY forgiving. But we were definitely impressed with ourselves (and petrified that within three days we would walk in and the paper would be peeling away from the wall in resentment). But I’m happy to report, a week later it still looks good!

We do have one tip of our own to offer up: When trimming the excess paper around any outlets with your box cutter – turn off the electricity!  Figured that one out the hard way (Tom, not me).

And now the closet.  When planning out the room, I was all for the monochromatic black and white look, but Tom was itching for some more color on the walls. I really wanted to keep the other three walls white, so we compromised on painting the interior of the closet. I’ve previously mentioned when we removed the old sliding doors, we opted not to put on new accordion doors as we did in the other rooms because we knew we would use this nook as a changing area.  The bed we purchased had some royal and navy blues in it, and we had found dark olive black out curtains for the windows.  I wanted to marry some of those colors in the closet to make it all look more purposeful.

While contemplating design, I came up with this sick MS paint rendering to send to Tom:


The light blue was meant to be some leftover paint we had from our master bath that I thought we might reuse here and the black lines depict the shelf above the dresser, the green was a sample pot we had on hand, and we knew we would have to buy the royal blue if we wanted to use it. We ended up making life easier on ourselves (or so we thought) and just buying a single gallon of the royal blue color (Deep River by Behr) and adding a single, angled stripe with the sample green (Grape Leaves by Behr).

Single, 4 inch angled stripe. How hard could that be you might ask?  Apparently VERY hard for me. I thought we would just start in one corner, tape at a slight angle, and let the tape determine the placement.  Sounded easy as I put up the top piece of tape. The bottom piece, not so much.  What started out at a 4 inch gap, turned into a 3 inch gap as I taped around the three inner walls.  So then I tried  to measure down 4 inches in a few spots and connect the dots, so to speak. Still wonky.  I could only assume the tape itself was wonky from being rolled, or our walls were not straight enough because they are old and we have found some seriously questionable construction decisions in this house.  CLEARLY, it could NOT be user error.  I spent two different lunch breaks up here (I work from home) trying to figure this out.

Thankfully, my mother happened to visiting for the week and by the third day, I enlisted her help. Remember when I said I’m a paint hog? It was time to let go.  She figured it out in a matter of minutes. (Also remember when I mentioned my pregnancy mush brain earlier?  Totally pulling that card again). Once we were satisfied with the tape, I painted inside the stripe with blue to help with bleeding, and gave it two quick coats of green. Voila! Abstract stripe.

So yeah, 2 hours to do a wall of wallpaper, and about 3 combined hours to paint a friggin’ stripe in a closet.  Who knew.  So what’s your favorite part?  I assumed it would be the wallpaper (which I LOVE, don’t get me wrong) but this pop of color in the closet has made me surprisingly happy!  And coincidentally, one of William’s cars totally matches this paint scheme. It was meant to be…

Next week – STUFF!!! Don’t forget to check out the other participants.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 6

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ORC: The Big Boy Room – Getting Started {ORC Spring 2016: Week 3}

Welcome back! So in my Before post, I mentioned we had fixed a few of the annoying parts about this room. This was all PIY (pay it yourself) because we discussed and quickly decided to hire some contractors to come in for 4 days and deal with all the issues in ALL the rooms on the second floor as this could have easily taken us noobs months of weekends to complete ourselves.  And while updating molding and/or hanging doors might not sound that difficult, with a deadline like ours, we were not willing to cut our teeth on this. Sometimes it just pays to pay someone else. To recap the fixable issues in this room:

  1. Those radiators have about 10 layers of paint on them, and are constantly falling away from the wall. Hours of fun for a curious toddler.
  2. There are about 3 different types of molding in this room entire house. Some clamshell, some colonial, some walls have shoe molding, some don’t. This inconsistency is quite consistent throughout our house, by the way. Drives. Me. Insane.
  3. And that doorway is in the left corner of the room (basically where the photo is taken from), however, the door opens TO THE RIGHT. Whyyyyyyyy.
  4. The ceiling boob light is about 11 inches to the right of the center of the ceiling. I repeat. Whyyyyyyyyy.
Prime example of the inconsistency in molding hanging out in the middle of our hallway.  Some shoe, some not, some non-molding patchwork, as you do apparently.

The contractors removed all the molding around the floor, windows and doors and installed simple colonial with shoe molding.  We have consistency! (PS we had already done this in most rooms on the first floor with initial construction when we bought the house).  They also added new pre-hung doors so all of our doors actually shut now (great for guests that don’t appreciate when our fat tabby cat pushes into their room to join them on the bed at night).  They hung 11 doors and two sets of accordion closet doors (major upgrade to reaching into the closets over the old sliding doors). We decided against rehanging closet doors in this room, and you’ll see why soon enough. They switched the swing of the doors on a few rooms and closets as well – so things are feeling much more feng shui. 


We also had an electrician come in and center the boob light on the ceiling of this room, as well as move the light switch farther down the wall of the closet because the door to this room swings to the left now, and the old switch is behind the door.  This ended up being a step we really didn’t need to take and pay for, and I’ll explain why in a future post (cliffhanger!).  
Last but not least – we have new radiator covers throughout the house!  I feel much better about the lack of probable lead paint that was chipping off every time a section fell off the wall when William decided to touch it. 
We did not pay the contractors to do any touchups – so we have a LOT of caulking and painting to do. We even have to touch up the walls with spackle and whatever color paint was in the room around all of the radiators because the old ones were absurdly high and now crappy sheetrock is exposed. But the focus has been to get through all of those tasks in the Big Boy Room before we move onto the other rooms.  Breathe, Kayla, breathe.  At least the construction aspect was done in 4 days by someone else. #worthit


So first things first – we caulked and painted the molding. We are pretty brand loyal to Behr paint products due to the fact that we haven’t had any issues, usually can find a color we like made by them, and sheer convenience (Home Depot is about 8 minutes away).  I actually don’t get crazy with all the different ‘whites’ out there, and we used their off-the-shelf Ultra Pure White semi gloss for all the molding and doors.  Next, we painted three of the walls and the ceiling with their off-the-shelf Ultra Pure White flat interior paint.  Easy peasy.  What is nice is that these products are all low odor and no VOC so this preggo can do the most of the painting (I find painting seriously relaxing, even if it takes me double the time to do it than it would take Tom. Anyone else hog all the painting for themselves?).  I kinda insisted on being the lead painter while Tom (and his father) continued with caulking in other rooms.  Even though completely this room is the priority, it all has to get done eventually, right?


I suck at white balance.
The men did prep the statement wall with wallpaper primer as suggested by the wallpapering instructions. I wrongfully assumed the primer would actually be white, so I’m glad I did at least a little cutting in with the regular white paint before this went up. The primer is actually a milky color in the can (and stinky, so I took this opportunity to put my feet up downstairs on the couch) and dried fairly clear.  Though fully dried after 1 hour, its stays slightly tacky, and is allegedly going to help with adhering the wallpaper, as well as making this wallpaper easier to remove down the line (only time will tell on that part). Maybe an unnecessary extra step, but given this is our first attempt at wallpapering, we wanted to go by the book for the most part.


Fun fact – see that small section unpainted on the ceiling? WE RAN OUT OF PAINT with only a  small section left. So annoying.

The last bit o’ painting that had to occur is inside the closet.  We received some hand-me-down dressers from my parents, and the shorter one fits well in here, so after removing the wooden dowel that was used to hang clothes from (you know so William can’t swing from it) we are going to attach a changing pad to that dresser and change William in this nook until he is out of diapers.  Since there is a lot of white and black going on in the rest of the room, we decided to do something a little more bright in here, that would also hopefully tie in the other colors in the room to make it all look more purposeful.  You can also see in this shot that the door now swings TO THE LEFT! The door is going to get some semi-gloss white but I think I’m going to wait to do all the doors & closets (13!) at once after this baby comes.

Next week: WALLPAPER & CLOSET!!!  Teaser because this molding before and after  is just too good not to show:

Don’t forget to check out the other guest participants on ORC Week 3! And just for fun try and find my link (did I get up early enough to break the top 100 in the linky party? No, no I didn’t.).

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 6