Category Archives: House Projects

Musical Furniture

The arrival of the large easel initiated a cascade of furniture moving. Today, the whole family participated in:

  • disassembling the Ikea sleeper couch, taking it down stairs, and handing it off to our neighbors. Bye, bye couch. In the end it only served as a clean laundry sorting center.
  • Moving clothing storage bins and a bookshelf to where the couch had been.
  • Bringing up the play kitchen and doll house to add to the opportunities to play in the kids’ bedroom.
  • Taking down the train table sans trains and blocks which stayed in the bedroom. The train table is too big for our spaces and will be sold along with the glider that we also removed from the kids’ room.
  • Rearranged the sofa and a bookshelf in the playroom to make space for the easel.
  • Moved the easel in from the dining room to the play room.

Oh, and I helped put the couch together in my neighbor’s room and helped her and her boyfriend take out their old school sleeper sofa–the kind that weighs a ton to the curb.

So we didn’t go out today, but the kids and we are totally bushed. It was fun doing this project as a whole family and having their input into the process as we went. We built in space for twin beds that we need to get as my daughter has outgrown her toddler bed. We also left room for a DESK!

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Building a Dinosaur

Art supplies are scattered around the playroom, and my son is now old enough to use them with less or no supervision. It was time to consolidate them and make them more available to the kids. After some research, my wife and I settled on the dinosaur easel from Kidcraft. We already have a play kitchen set from them, and we know what we are getting in terms of quality. Kidcraft makes very functional kid furniture with fun designs, but they are by no means the top of the line. Materials are budget but sturdy for the most part.

14601251067_3cc8c168b1_zFirst we unpacked the box and separated the pieces. The kids had a blast sorting the pieces into piles of different sizes, colors, and other qualities. I just made sure I got the hardware kit and kept track of it.

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Next, we started following the directions one step at a time. It was neat to see how a 6 year-old 14787423372_5b48a0182d_zand a 3.5 year-old interpreted the illustrations in the directions. Both kids had turns inserting the screws and anchors and turning the wrench to tighten them up. I only had to do a slight further tightening on both of their work. One piece needed a hole redrilled, but otherwise all pieces were there and in good shape. When it was all said and done, the kids were very proud of their work.

We have now been using it for about a week, and they love the freedom to paint and even stand next to each other and paint on the same page together. I had moved the paper bar from the dry erase side to the chalkboard side because we really don’t want chalk inside the house, but the dry erase board ended up being inferior quality. I have now purchased a magnetic dry erase board to put over the one that came with the easel.

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Big Changes

IMG_1190These last two weeks have been spring break at my school. Amazingly, it is not my childrens’ spring breaks, so I have had time at home to do some projects. The first three days of my allotted 10 were spent taking care of sick kids. After that, I got rolling. I have had to discard ideas of working in the yard until today or tomorrow because the ground has been frozen solid. However, there is much to be done in the house. My desk has lived under mounds of projects yet to be started, and the kids’ playroom has succumbed to the entropy that their development brings. Many infant and toddler items take up space around the house, and those have to go to make way for the new. Throwing away the tattered diaper bag that was given to me by may amazing community at the Atrium School over six years ago brought the memories back. Also going out the door is the changing table; our dining room might start looking like a dining room! In the kids’ playroom, I added some paper storage for projects and blank construction paper. A dry erase board and some steel surfaces for posting pictures also added to the room. Even small changes make a difference. I hung a rope below the handrail on our stairs to the third floor. Now my son can hold on to something as he climbs these stairs, and we can let him do that without adult supervision. We are indeed moving up with greater speed and independence.

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In a Jamb

Two jambs actually. On Wednesdays, I put in an hour to an hour and a half volunteer time at my daughter’s afterschool program. Today, I worked on fixing two doors. One needed the pushbar reattached, and I was easily able to do that. The other one, though, needed a new threaded machine screw hole in the door jamb, and the door jamb was much thicker than my battery operated drill and wood/metal combo bits could easily handle. I will come back with the proper tools and finish the job. I like the volunteering, I like that my daughter sees me volunteering, and I like that my daughter sees me volunteering by doing things (especially with tools).

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A Fan, Finally

The saga of blown circuits and electricians has come to an end, for now. Today, my son and daughter assisted me as we installed the new ceiling fan in their playroom. This replaced a funky light fixture that went through bulbs faster on one side than the other and consolidated six wires sticking out of an old ceiling box into two wires and a ground neatly emerging from a fan box. This fan was relatively easy to install even with the help of two children. I probably banged it out in just over an hour. The room looks much better, and the air moves when we want it to. A drawback is that we have to set the light and fan speed the way we want so that when the kids flip the wall switch, they get the right combo.

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Fiat Lux

And there was. One electrician and his helper later, we have light. Now to install the ceiling fan.

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Where Did the Spoons Go?

Hey diddle diddle,
The Cat and the fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon.
The little Dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.

When my wife and I moved in together after I joined her in Boston, we merged our households. This included using some things we had and starting fresh with others. At that point, we really didn’t think we needed more than 8 place settings of anything, but as it turns out, we now go through small spoons and forks at an amazing rate. We have even lost a few teaspoons, and that exacerbates the situation when we need to feed the kids. Finally, we decided to get a new set of flatware, with enough settings to get us through a few days, and convert the old set to lunchbox duty where getting lost will not be such a big deal.

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Sweating It

They say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” but when it is in the 90s, I tend to sweat the small, medium, and big stuff. Monday’s first day of camp for my daughter was a success. She got into the car talking about collecting eggs from the hens who tried to peck her friend and taking care of lambs and carding wool. She clearly had a good time. Then her “But it wasn’t very good” drive kicked in and she started focusing on one event that upset her. After working through that a bit, I returned her focus to all the fun she had.

I had plenty of time to do this as we were stuck in rush hour traffic. Even with the AC on in the car, it was hot and not the most pleasant ride. I also noticed my daughter taking sips from her water bottle which was great because she was probably dehydrated from the day. However, she doesn’t have great bladder control yet, and we were in the new car.

We finally got home, and it felt a bit warm in the house. Sure enough, the AC in the house was not working. I called our miracle working HVAC guy. He told me he’d be there in an hour, so I got dinner, bath and bed finished in that time. When I came down, he had just pulled up outside. He quickly diagnosed the immediate problem and fixed it. There may be more work later, but at least I won’t have fried the kids over night.

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Here, There, and Everywhere

Friday was a solo day as my wife sequestered herself to get some work done. I took my daughter to gymnastics class and headed home with my son. We took his glider bike out for a spin to the further park which was an adventure all by itself. I don’t think he has gone anywhere besides the park down the street before. He enjoyed exploring from bike seat, and I enjoyed walking at something like a normal pace.

When we got back, I knocked out one of the projects that I have been contemplating. I hung both kids’ bikes in the front porch that doesn’t have the width to store them. Currently, they are on the back porch which makes it hard to get them out quickly.

After quiet time and nap, my kids and I tackled more furniture moving in their bedroom. My wife and I made a plan the night before, and I enacted it with the kids. We moved both beds, the tent, and the boxes we had moved in. Then we brought up a table that had no place to go downstairs along with two chairs. Now they have a snack area in their bedroom for the early morning snack that is supposed to delay their need to wake their sleep deprived parents.

Very productive day moving things all around. I even listed some stuff on Craig’s List to move it out the door.

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Bustin’ the Crib

My wife and I have never really managed to squeeze our combined stuff into our shared space, and now with her materials coming home from school, the issue was forced. She took one of the cars to school and returned with boxes that have no home. This began the conversation and cascade of action as we look at all of the space in the house and decide what to do with the things that are there.

On Sunday while my wife was away, the kids and I dismantled the crib that had been standing empty for quite some time. Sheets, mattress pads, a broken humidifier, and a fan had taken up residence inside, but they were given new homes. In its places, we moved the boxes of clothing that the kids will still need. The boxes of small clothing and baby paraphernalia went down stairs and are stacked next to the aforementioned boxes from my wife’s work. The disassembled crib is stacked in the porch where other things to leave the house are gathering like a gang of malcontents. We must move them out.

Sunday night, my wife and I went through the junk we had been keeping in the trunks of the cars. We whittled the stuff down to a remarkably small amount. Out went the piles of maps, old jacks, and much else. This was the first step in our ambitious plan to evaluate and streamline our space usage.

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