Soup is Good Food

My little guy brought his first cold of the season home from daycare the other day (last month of daycare, so last daycare cold too??) and was a miserable mess over the weekend. I decided to give him what any good mom gives their sick kiddo – chicken noodle soup – the classic from Campbell’s, of course. Isn’t it scientifically proven that chicken broth helps cure colds?

When I was heating the soup on the stove the smell brought me back to my parents’ kitchen as a kid and I wished we had some crackers to crumble on top. I’m not sure how I associate chicken noodle soup with crackers as I’m fairly certain I was a soup purist growing up.

When the soup was warm, I ladled it into Little M’s elephant bowl with the suction bottom and took a taste to check the temp. Then I added an ice cube. Then I added another. When I finally served my little guy, chicken noodle soup proved to be a challenging choice.

Little M is 21 months old and while he’s skilled at eating yogurt with a spoon, soup was a whole new challenge. I tried giving him the broth in a cup, with a straw, in a sippy. Nothing worked. Finally I emptied the broth and just let my gluten sensitive kid eat broth-soaked noodles. With his hands. Good news is he’s growing out of the gluten sensitivity. And the warm lunch helped his stuffy nose.

While he ate/accidentally dropped noodles all over the floor I went to Campbell's Kitchen to check out the Wisest Kid page featuring some kid-friendly recipes using chicken noodle soup, guaranteed to make my kid happy. The mini chicken pot pies look pretty delicious and like a much easier way for a toddler to eat chicken noodle soup. Those may be making an appearance in our house this winter when the next cold hits.

There are several kid friendly recipes on the Campbell’s Wisest Kid page, definitely worth a peek. And for fun they feature a widget were you can share the wisest wisdom from your kids. Little M’s contribution to the wisdom? “Hot, hot.” Check out this widget and share the “wise” things your kids say.

What’s the wisest thing your kid has said recently. Is there anything wiser than “hot, hot”?

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Bye, Bye Bathroom

Just as soon as we finished fixing the basement, this happened upstairs:

That's our one and only upstairs bathroom. Gone to the dumpster.

We're remodeling the entire bathroom, obviously. In the interest of our very strict budget, we're keeping the vanity (it's not the best quality, but has a few years left in it, so we'll wait to swap it out), the toilet, the medicine cabinet and the fan that we installed when Little M was just a couple weeks old. The toilet is actually going down to the powder room since it's a "comfort height" toilet and we bought a new Kohler Welworth standard height toilet on sale at Lowes for this bathroom. We figure the shortest toilet is probably best for what will be the little boy's bathroom.

I'm 90% sure we're getting a new acrylic tub. But the guys were able to get the old cast iron tub out in one piece and now I'm having second thoughts!

To refinish our tub would cost about $350 and would last about 10 years - that is, if it's refinish-able. An entirely new tub is about $600. I'm torn. I hate sending stuff to the landfill unnecessarily and I'm of the thought that they don't make 'em like the used to. But the front skirt on this tub sticks out a couple, very valuable, inches into the room, it's in need of a refinish and now it's kinda scratched. Can cast iron tubs be scrapped? Are my demo guys going line their pockets with a whole lotta cash from this two ton tub? I'd feel a lot better about it if it were scrapped and not trashed. Plus the tub I picked out is equally deep and very sleek.

The whole remodel is supposed to take about two weeks. So in like a month we'll be in there again. A really long month of going from the second floor all the way to the basement in the middle of the night.... Will you judge me if I brought bedpans back in style?

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Progress, Albeit Slow

First the most important news from the past week: we decided on gray siding. We (I) went back and forth and agonized over the decision until the last possible minute. The turning point came when S pointed out that when I'm in the backyard, where I'll spend 99.9% of my time outside, I'll be looking at all siding and no brick. And do I want to look at taupe or gray. I want to look at gray. I love gray. So gray it is. I have no idea when it will be delivered. I really have no idea when anything will happen despite asking daily.

Second, we have windows. They were delivered on a Friday and in on a Saturday afternoon. In like two seconds flat. Maybe two hours, but it was no time at all.

Knock on wood, they appear to be as we ordered, which is a whole lot more than I can say about our last experience with Jeld-Wen windows from the Home Depot. However, I will shout it from the rooftops DO NOT MAKE ANY MAJOR CUSTOM ORDER PURCHASE WITH THE HOME DEPOT! What a disaster they are. Seriously. Last time was a year and a half long battle of which I couldn't share many details with you and we still never got the correct windows. Total incompetency. This time the incompetency worked in our favor in the end, but I cannot stress enough that your local lumber store is the place to go for windows, cabinets, doors, whatever. The big orange is a big freaking mess. Our contractor, who I accompanied during the window ordering process, was speechless. No joke. Think twice before placing custom orders at Home Depot.

Third, we decided on doors. Nearby neighbors renovated their house recently and I fell in love with their front door. I went so far as to contact their contractor to ask for the door manufacturer. Alas, it was a wood door and we wanted wood-look fiberglass. So in the end we went with Thermatru in a style that's very similar and for half the cost of the door I envy. They're on order and should be here soon-ish.

Fourth, the repairs from the flood are finished. The tile guys finished on a Thursday and we started doing our repairs that evening. I pre-painted a couple dozen lengths of baseboard with two coats of Benjamin Moore's Impervo paint and then patched two large sections of walls and several smaller holes with drywall and three coats of joint compound. Our basement contractor had used Duron paint, which has pretty poor coverage so I had to prime and then do at least two coats in all the damaged areas. I also painted the walls and shelves in the linen closet that were damaged when the plumbers moved the plumbing stack. I just wanted to get the basement finished, so since I already had all the paint out and was in painting mode, I decided not to wait for our contractor's painter to paint those areas.

S and his dad made all the baseboard cuts and installed them all. I went around and filled all the nail holes and caulked. It took several days. The bedroom ceiling and one wall in there are still torn apart from electrical and HVAC. They can't be repaired until after the HVAC inspection, so we're waiting on that before we can deem the basement back to normal. Plus, the Directv box just suddenly stopped working downstairs, so that needs to be replaced before we can call anything normal.

We don't have any "finished" photos of the floors because our stuff was delivered and it went from looking great to total chaos very quickly. Then we discovered all three of Steve's carpets were ruined by the flood. Or never cleaned by the cleaning company. So we've been focused on documenting damage. Again. And half our stuff was lost. So that's been interesting.

Fifth, the electric work has passed inspection and now the electrician is putting in actual switches and outlets. He's my favorite of all the trades people so far. He is so meticulous, especially about lining up lights and fans so they're centered precisely on whatever I've asked him to center them on. He gets to work at 7am and works a full day too, which I really appreciate. Two thumbs up for Rick.

Two thumbs down for HVAC. I wish I didn't think that because the guys doing the work are seem nice. But OMG the laziness, the shortcuts. They work for four hours, max, and call it a full day. One day their boss thought they worked a full day here when in fact they never showed up at all. Free Friday! The worst part is that the lead guy on our crew is the owner's son - the "and son" on the truck. I'm embarrassed for the whole lot of them.

We're putting a new HVAC unit in to service the second floor; the old will service the first floor and basement. The new unit and all the duct work are in the attic now. S had to empty then entire attic of all our storage on a 90+ degree day because the guys had refused to work for three days with our stuff up there (neatly.) It was only on the third day that anyone told us or our contractor why they weren't working. Frustration station. S emptied the entire thing, alone, in 45 minutes. How long do you think it would have take 3 guys to do that?

Whatever, when they finally did the work it "looked" good, but the laundry list of things they failed inspection for proves otherwise. The did divert the duct from the upstairs hall bathroom into the kitchen ceiling, which has been wonderful, especially since there's just a big uninsulated plywood wall separating the kitchen from the addition right now - sealed only with a roll of tape that I happened to find hanging around (which Little M keeps trying to remove.)

However, we've spotted (and repaired) short cut after short cut that they've taken. It's so disappointing. 

So all of that seems like quite a bit of progress except that there's been little to no work for a the past two weeks. Everything has come to a screeching halt because nothing can happen until the HVAC passes inspection. After they failed inspection and promised to be out "first thing tomorrow"... they showed up at 2:40pm and worked until 4. And did some shoddy work. So they're my least favorite trade so far, despite having friendly, chatty guys working...when they actually work.

The sarcastic text I wanted to send my contractor on what seemed like the 100th day of no work:
"Is today a national holiday that we forgot to observe?"

But instead I asked it in person.

Things have got to get going eventually, right? I'm keeping my eye on the prize, ahem, closet I'm looking at you.

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Showing off my Mad Photoshop Skillz

We looked at the color samples in every light today and then drove around neighborhoods looking for similar colors on other houses. We liked gray on other houses. But those houses don't have existing brick. So basically we got nowhere today.

Then tonight I brought out my mad Photoshop skillz. This is what not one, but two courses in Photoshop gets you. And because S ripped all the siding off the sunroom this weekend and then wrapped the whole thing in house wrap, they're covered in pretend siding in my renditions. Good enough.

with Certainteed Taupe

with Certainteed Granite Gray

S and I are leaning toward the cooler gray color after seeing it with the black roof and black shutters. Tomorrow I'm planning to get color samples and paint two big boxes or pieces of plywood to hold up in various lights as larger samples. At least we're down to just a couple choices. Only a gazillion more choices to go once we've settled this one ;)

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Torn Over Siding Colors

We have a box full of siding samples to choose from for our addition. The siding will go on the addition and on the sunroom/office. The brick will stay brick, we don't want to paint it like many of our neighbors have. All our samples are from Hardie and Certainteed. I don't generally like the Hardie colors, so we narrowed our choices down to five Certainteed colors pretty quickly. We nailed them up on the side of the addition and left them there to look at in different lights.
Wicker, Taupe, Linen, Silverplate, and Granite Gray
Then today S mentioned that having the five options against the blue of the house wrap was probably skewing our perception of the colors. Duh.

So I took the samples and looked at them each next to the kitchen window where there's brick, white trim and black shutters. I think we narrowed our choices down to Taupe and Granite Gray. Wicker was too yellow, Silverplate too blue and Linen too light.

Taupe & Granite Gray in the shade of the porch roof:

In direct sun:

When we were planning the addition we planned on having dark gray siding. But then someone along the way suggested matching the mortar of the brick as a way to tie together the existing brick house and the addition. So while gray is my favorite color (and has been ever since I had this gray sweater my junior year of high school that I looooooved and wore every day until I accidentally shrunk it to toddler proportions), I am wondering whether the taupe might be a better option since it "goes with" the existing mortar of the brick that we do not want to paint. Ever. I'm so torn!

I even tried to let this guy decide, but he just runs between each color pointing to all of them.

What do you think, taupe, granite gray or something entirely different?

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