The Bathroom Remodel?

I vividly  remember reading this book when I was a kid about a man who buys new shoe strings, then sees how shabby his shoes look in comparison. So, he gets new shoes. Then his suit looks terrible. So he buys new clothes, and gets into his shabby car to drive home, and winds up buying a new car, and a new house. Maybe a new wife- I don’t remember the ending. Anyway, he changes his whole life because of one tiny thing.

That is what I am afraid of with our basement bathroom.

It is terrible.

I took the curtains down to wash, and realized the window frames are corroding there in the wall. In scrubbing the mold off the walls, I have scrubbed the paint off, but repainting means making a decision about the pink tiles that are popping off the walls, and the floor tile that is peeling up. And the shower stall. And the basin- actually, the basin isn’t so bad.

Last week, the drain got clogged, and water started leaking out of We started showering upstairs, where the pressure is terrible.



The curtains were the “new shoe strings” in this little parable, but beyond new shoe strings, the bathroom really does need work… a lot of work.

People with bathroom remodel experience- what’s next? How much can I do myself? What resources should I go to? Does anyone else remember that book, or what it is called?


Getting dressed from the clean clothes pile

A mom of  a friend of the Girl and I were talking the other day- I was getting cleaned up for a party,and she said that she honestly expected to have a messy house until her kids moved out- she joked about getting dressed off of the clean piles of clothes in the living room. I’ve done this, of course, and you probably have, too.  Maybe not.  Maybe you are better than me… just stop rubbing it in.

When I was planning our party, I figured that I would have to spend like an hour a day cleaning, and I wanted it to be really clean, not just have all the piles of stuff moved into the bedroom, which is what I usually do.  The problem with doing an hour a day, is that is so bleahhh- there’s no system.  Then I came across

I had read about it in the past- in lady’s magazines.  It is a cute little cult about changing your life by setting up routines about keeping your house clean. Cult is mean. It’s not really a cult. Don’t be mad at me, FLYlady!

The routines are simple things like “shine your sink before you go to bed” at first you’re like, what? why clean my sink? but I have been doing this, and it makes a huge difference- when I leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight, they make breakfast that much harder, then DH and the kids pile more dishes in, then we have to run the dishwasher, unload it, then reload it, the counters are awful, and it becomes harder to do anything in the kitchen. But, if I clean the sink and run the dishwasher before I go to bed, then unload it while I am waiting for coffee, everything is smoother, all day.

Another routine is “put out hotspots.” A hotspot is a place where junk accumulates- at our house, my dresser top is one (we have several, but only I am responsible for my dresser) If I don’t take 2 minutes to put my clothes away,then my dresser is piled with bras and unmatched socks, and shirts, and that isn’t any better than getting dressed in the living room. I deserve to live in a clean house.

So, a couple of weeks into these routines, and our house is still relatively clean after cleaning it up for the party.

FLY, by the way, stands for finally loving yourself, and at first I thought, ick, mushy self-love, but I am realizing that I do deserve to live in a clean house, and I have been taking some time to make that happen, rather than yelling at everybody about it.

Yes, I’ve gotten rid of Carl

Goodbye, annoying baseball bear, goodbye, ghost that used to say Boo! goodbye angel bear...


Out of the blue, the Boy started sleeping with his head at the foot of his bed. He liked looking out the window, he said. It really bugged me.

So, I asked if he would like to re-arrange his room so he could sleep with his head at the foot of his bed and still see out the window?  Then the plan snowballed, into choosing paint colors and a new rug, and getting rid of baby toys.

Yesterday, stage one of the plan commenced: sorting out the baby toys.  We had to clear off the desk in order to move it to the opposite side of the room. The pile of was equal parts Legos and mini animal figures, and rather than just sweeping the whole pile into a tub, we took the time to sort them into two tubs. These are the toys he plays with the most- on his desk, he builds very elaborate lego contraptions and creates animal scenes, which he narrates, documentary style.

We got the desk in place, scooted the bed and cleaned up behind it. Umm, yuck, is all I’ll say.

The Boy’s attention span for clean-up was finished. Honestly, my attention was pretty shot, too, but I couldn’t face putting him to bed in a room that was all taken apart.

The last thing I made him sort through was the stuffed animals. 

Maybe 5 years ago, I was taking some toys to Goodwill, not anyone’s favorite toys, no toy with a name- I’ve seen “Toy Story”, I’ve read the “Velveteen Rabbit,” I’m not a monster! Anyway, the Girl saw a rainbow bear in the bag- she threw a fit, “no, not the rainbow bear!!!!”

I replied, “oh really? what’s his name?” I challenged. 

She only paused an instant, and said, “Carl!”  Carl was a colleague of DH, who was always super nice to Kate, a real sweetheart. I relented. Rainbow Bear Carl now had a name…he came out of the Goodwill box. But he still never got played with very much.

Five years on, I’ve gotten wilier. Rather than gathering a box of toys on my own, I had the Boy choose.  “Go through your stuffed animals, and pick 10 that you like best.” The Boy knows me, and negotiated to 12.  When he sorted, I saw him hesitating over a really cool jellyfish, so I threw that in as a bonus, because I like it. Carl didn’t make the cut. Goodbye, Carl.

Organizing the Piano

In order to put out Christmas decorations, we have to clean. The girl wants to be in charge of the Christmas village, which consists of two newspaper offices and a spooky castle. As we start clearing off the piano, I am realizing that one of the reasons it hasn’t been cleaned before is because of some unfinished business. There is a big basket of sheet music that dates back to when the girl took piano lessons. I mean, it dates back to when the girl quit piano lessons.
So much clutter is psychological- I had wanted piano lessons as a kid, but never got them. The girl started out liking lessons, then hated practicing, hated lessons, hated me. There was a lot of yelling. We hosted her final recital, she did a beautiful job, then she quit, and I had (still have) a lot of mixed emotions. The basket of sheet music contains her Suzuki book 1, the Suzuki book 2 that I bought, hoping she would change her mind, notebooks that I took notes in about what she needed to practice, flash cards, envelopes with prizes she could win if she practiced 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours…
I am tempted to put the whole pile in a box to be dealt with at some later date. No. Must deal with now. Wish me luck.

OK. It is later, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I went through the basket while the girl dusted the piano. I got rid of some bad memories, and was able to pull some Christmas music to the front of the basket. We pulled out a vintage linen tablecloth to represent snow, and she set up the buildings, plus the spooky castle on the hill. Then she actually added to it, making some houses, and an ice skating pond. In a perfect world, she would then sit down, pull out some Christmas music, and start playing piano. Needless to say, that didn’t happen. I guess I can dream.

No, there was no tornado...this is just how the living room looked before. It is much better now. At least the top of the piano is organized now...