Our poor bathroom...

 I would like to take the opportunity to thank the PPOs yet again for the fantastic work they did on our house.  I sincerely wish some days that they had never laid eyes on the place.  Although I know they did a lot by simply maintaining the house, their "improvements"... weren't.  Below is a picture of my bathroom as it was this morning.  Ethan especially loved being able to see into the kitchen from the bathroom, but we decided that a window in the floor was a bad idea.  There is now new subfloor around the toilet, and the toilet has been reset.  Unfortunately, there's still a mess where the tile had to be removed, but we'll be taking care of that soon.

Now the PPOs supposedly were doing a good thing by remodeling the bathroom (I'd have preferred the original everything, but I understand wanting to "upgrade").  See the brown stuff that the tile is set into?  That's hardboard.  Hardboard is the stuff that clipboards are made out of.  I'm assuming that the PPOs used it as a underlayment because it was inexpensive.  Unfortunately, it's also not at all water-resistant.  Once it gets wet, it's pretty much a giant sponge.  There was no worse product available at the time that they could have used as an underlayment in a damp area.  Once the toilet started leaking around the wax ring, it just soaked into the hardboard, which simply held the water so that nobody ever knew it was leaking.  Our first clue was the grout around the toilet.  It started to crack and come out, but we thought it was because of the leaky tank (another story).  If we hadn't removed the ceiling and insulation (another sponge) when we did, the toilet was well on its way to sinking into the kitchen.  Thankfully there was a joist right underneath it to support the weight, but it wasn't a good situation.

So now we have a patch of 1 x 4s and plywood, and a working toilet.  It ain't pretty, but at least when I get up to go potty in the middle of the night, I don't have to run downstairs.

In other news, we started letting our kittens outside.  There is some part of my that is incapable of having a purely indoor cat.  It seems cruel.  Shortly after their initial exploration, the kitties discovered they could climb:

Talk about double trouble. 


Organizing. The never-ending chore.

I've been on a major organizational bender since losing the twins.  I'm so tired of our house looking like a war zone.  I'm okay with some chaos in the rooms that we are actively working on (currently kitchen and bathroom), but the rest of it is wearing on me.  Slowly, but surely, I'm making progress.

The first major thing has been purging what I no longer use.  I'm up to 886 (plus 150 from the "before Christmas" challenge) items tossed, donated, or otherwise rehomed.  I'm a little discouraged by my lack of progress... until I think that our house has 1036 fewer items in it than this time last year.  That's huge.  When I try to imagine our house and garage with 1000 more things in it than what it has now, it scares me.  I really should have taken "before" pictures of my cabinets.

After I've purged the items I don't want from an area, the next step is organizing it.  I've been buying baskets and other containers in order to better organize the tings we're keeping.  In the bathroom cabinet, all of the medicines are in divided baskets, organized by use.  On the back porch laundry room, the laundry supplies are all in a basket up in front of the cabinet, so that if I need to access something behind, I can just take out the basket.  Same with the pet medicines, treats, and toys.  It may sound painfully obvious to group often-used-together items in a basket, but for me it is a revelation.

The place where I'm getting hung up right now is clothes.  I'm two sizes bigger than "usual", since I haven't lost all of my baby weight.  And I'm honestly not trying all that hard, since we're also trying to have another baby.  Hard exercise can affect fertility, and I don't want to push my body too hard.  Plus, I'm still recovering from blood-loss anemia.  So there's my list of excuses.  Regardless, I had to buy some new clothes so that I could get out of my maternity stuff.  I went on a Goodwill shopping spree, and even though I spent less than $50, I now have 6 new shirts and 4 pairs of pants added to my closet.  I'm also storing both my class A and B uniforms, maternity clothes, some workout/backpacking clothes.  I have more clothes now than ever before.  I've gotten rid of some things I'm fairly certain I'd never wear again, even when it fits me, but some things need to stay.  I'm still looking for a good solution to this.  In the meantime, they've moved into the linen closet so that I don't have to stare at them every day.

Still.  Today I need to tackle the laundry situation.  It's getting scary.  Then if I have time, we need to go through the bathroom again before we take everything out in preparation for demolition.


The time has come

... the walrus said, to talk of many things.  Of tiles and tubs and toilet seats, of cabinets and sinks.

Okay, so I totally butchered Lewis Carroll.  But the point is, the time has come!  We may be sort of broke right now, but yesterday was the last straw.  The plumber/general construction guy (who we like and trust) came over yesterday to check out the toilet and leaky wax ring.  And found that the leaky wax ring has been leaking for about 10 years.  The underlayment in the bathroom is ruined, some of the subfloor is rotted through, and the toilet is slowly sinking into the kitchen.  Both Shayne and I are so, so tired of the slow demise of both the kitchen and bathroom (which is mostly the bathroom's fault), we're tired of ruined ceilings and flooring, and tired of fixing one thing just to have another go wrong.  The piecemeal repair is not working any longer.

We've decided to just bite the bullet and get a small home equity loan/line to remodel the bathroom.  We need new water supplies in there, since the hot water for the tub is down to a fast trickle (okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it's nowhere near the pressure it should be), and in order to have that galvanized line taken out, we need to rip out walls.  Since we would be ripping out so much to repair what we need to, we're just going to mostly gut it and start over.  The PPOs who remodeled the bathroom to begin with did so much half-assed work elsewhere in the house that I'm scared of what is going on in there.  Only by taking apart the room will we be certain that there's nothing else lurking in the walls, waiting to leak.  We'd also like to examine the wiring, since everything we've discovered has been scary and unsafe.  He had a tendency to just duct tape around wires and leave them hanging in the walls.  And a fire is the LAST thing we need.

We'll have an estimate by Monday.  It's kind of a good thing that I've been obsessing over the bathroom since before we even moved into this house; it made the planning stage so much faster!  I know exactly what I want. 

I hate the idea of borrowing money, but I love the idea of finally getting what I want.  I love the idea of having another room in this house finished and beautiful.  I love the idea of being able to take a bath without half of me sticking out of the water.

This is going to be great.

Here's a few of my inspiration shots to tide you over:


Winter is coming

Being poor sucks.  Obviously, we're not destitute.  We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and plenty to be thankful for.  But our saving account has been just about exhausted, and I have $300 in our checking to last us til next payday.  That doesn't include paying the NIPSCO bill, our IRA contribution, groceries, or gas.  Or the toilet repair that is happening tomorrow.  Basically, we have no disposable income and barely enough to cover the necessities.

I haven't been this broke since college.  My last paycheck was $285.  I didn't have enough sick time to cover the time I took off after the miscarriage, so I got docked for 8 or 9 days.

Times like this make me so glad that I store food.  I have lots of flour, sugar, and yeast for bread.  TONS of pasta and sauce.  Canned fruits and soups.  Broth.  A freezer full of meat and veggies.

People used to put up food for winter, because no fresh food was available outside of the growing season.  With modern transportation, that's no longer strictly necessary.  Even when it's winter in Indiana, it's summer in Chile, and we have the luxury of (fairly) fresh produce year-round.  It's also no longer necessary to butcher meat in the fall so that we don't have to feed it through the winter.

But what about a figurative winter?  A time when you don't have the means to buy food?  Or you may have to choose between buying food and keeping the electricity on?  Our situation is nowhere near that dire; I'll have a normal-sized paycheck next week, and we'll start to rebuild our savings.  But if we hadn't had that savings, it very well could have come to that.

I look at my food storage as an insurance policy against the lean times in our life.  Winter is always coming, literal and figurative, and we should do everything in our power to ensure that we are prepared.