Our Renovation: Week 1 & 2

Living through a renovation is hard for any family.  Doing it with two toddlers it has it’s own set of unique challenges.  The construction part isn’t even close to the most difficult part.  Toddler meals and trying to keep the kids out of the crews way have been the hard part.   

Breakfast hasn’t been too challenging since there are several options where no heating is involved or just a toaster which is all we have.  The kids have been getting a lot of waffles and yogurt and cut up fruit.  A few mornings when eggs were all Reece wanted there were tears but for the most part we’ve skated by easily.  Lunch hasn’t been too bad either since Reece eats PBJ every day now if we are home.  Kat gets cut up cold cuts, cheese, fruit, a slice of bread and I’ll eat a salad or sandwich.  Dinner has been the big question mark each day.

cluttered dining room
Our temporary kitchen

We waited for summer to start our renovation because of the nice weather, but of course the first 3 nights we had no kitchen it rained.  Cross off my idea for grilling!  I ordered pizza since my fridge was pretty much cheese and milk.  I’m trying to not make a habit out of ordering out too often since it gets expensive fast and there’s another month of no kitchen in our future.

The first night we were able to grill I invited a friend over so I could figure out what I was doing and someone could keep an eye on all tiny beasts.  It was also my first time grilling. Ever!  So it was nice to not be working on how to figure out a coal grill and making sure my two tiny beasts weren’t getting into trouble. I didn’t burn anything, hurrah!  I also didn’t add enough coals, so there was barely enough heat to finish our meal. Oops, lesson not learned, did this most of the following nights as well.

My second night grilling I was solo with the two tiny beasts.  All things considered it went well, nothing burnt or uncooked and no casualties.  If you have been following me on my Instagram Stories you might have witnessed my triumph of multitasking when my husband is overwhelmed with grilling while I’m with him helping out.

grilled chicken strawberries carrots
First of many uneaten meals since the kitchen renovation started

Since our dinners have become mostly BBQ I’ve learned my toddlers do not like chicken on the grill, even if it’s in the most yummy marinade and the only option is hot dogs and NEVER forget to grill up some corn on the cob.

baby eating corn on the cob
Nom nom nom, corn on the cob for days

The start day was a Monday which is good because Kat has daycare all day and Reece was still in school so he was out of the house the first morning during the majority of the demolition.  Which led to a false sense that maybe things will go according to the timeline.  Hahahahaha.

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End of Day 1 in the kitchen renovation

For four days the plumber was held up on the project before ours, plagued with issues of faulty parts then the warehouse sending incorrect replacement parts before he could start work on our kitchen.  Thursday evening he came by the house and did an inventory so he could shop the next day morning and get to work.  Friday he showed up and moved some pipes and was done after about 3.5 hours of work.  Then realized, based on where cabinets were being installed, additional pipes would need to be moved as well.  Monday the plumber was sick and couldn’t make it. Tuesday he came and finished what he needed to do.  After that things started moving along better.

renovation pipes
One of several problem areas where plumbing needed to be relocated

The electricians came by Wednesday and by the time they were done we could see dramatic results.  Just kidding.  They did a lot of work but Rich and I could not tell you to save our lives what they had done and what was different about the kitchen.  After the plumber and electrician were pretty much wrapped up with any prep work they had do to the crew got to work.

The biggest challenge for the crew is probably Kat and Reece.  They are SO curious and fascinated by the crew and their work.  We try to be out of the house for most of the day, but sometimes activities don’t get started or the kids drag the their feet getting ready for the day and pester the crew before we can head out the door.  A small hole about 4 inches big in the tarp covering the doorway very quickly grew to 4 feet.  Reece and Kat love to stick their entire bodies in and check what’s happening.

Kitchen reno giant hole
This is the wonderful “viewing” hole

The crew keeps it pretty clean in the kitchen so it’s not a death trap in the kitchen and they sweep up the floor from the kitchen to the front door.  The house has been slipping slowly into a pit or despair since kitchen stuff is in the bathroom and dining room but it hasn’t impeded too much on our lives.  The timing (summer) is a big help.  Another big help is that Kat and Reece are able to still nap even with our house being a construction zone.  Thank you sound machines!!!  If we were still using bottles, I think I’d be asking if there’s such a thing as disposable bottles.  Our bottle days are behind us and at meals we can give the kids plastic cups.  Maybe we set realistic expectations of what to expect.  All and all, so far, living through a renovation hasn’t been as terrible as HGTV would have you think it is.

toddler siblings kissing
Kitchen renovations are a great reason for even more fun in the sun and naked backyard time

Stay tuned to see if this is still true week 3 and beyond!

Vacationing With Toddlers and Infants

I think the most important tip to keep in mind while vacation with the kids is this: you are going on a trip, not a vacation.  You have kids now, you will not be vacationing for many, many years… Unless you’re one of the few and far between parents that have that special someone(s) that the kids can be left with while you flee to a real vacation. Lowering expectations will make your travel so much more enjoyable, I swear. Acknowledge that there will be no rest, for you and your SO, and that the days will revolve around your children’s schedules and you’re half way to having a sort of enjoyable trip already!

  • Do something that is adult fun (within reason, I wouldn’t advise anything where you might end up with a massive hangover because the next day you’ll be paying for it the next day starting at 5:30 AM knowing toddlers). Make sure to add in one or two things for yourself and not have it be 100% kid activities the entire time.
  • Be flexible – don’t go off the rails, but allow for a looser routine with naps and meals than the norm. If things do get crazy with naps/bed, don’t panic or get frustrated. Work around it to the best of your ability and keep trying to reset as close to the normal schedule as possible.
  • Keep activities minimal – plan only 1-3 things depending on what’s involved. Going to the pool and getting ice cream when the ice cream shop is next to the pool, manageable. Going to the zoo and sea world in the same day, probably not.
  • When planning the timing of activities don’t forget how long it takes to get out the door at home, where things are normal and everything located where things make sense, then give yourself more time. You’ll need it when you’re rethinking what needs to be packed for the 3rd time, did I bring everything? Sunscreen? Extra snacks? Poncho? Etc. Don’t bring a poncho…
  • Pack well, but try not to over pack.  You don’t need to bring 20 diapers for 3 hours out and about, if you do run out of diapers, chances are you can find a CVS if things get desperate. I’ve even asked other moms who have children the same age as mine if they have a size 3 diaper when we mispacked once, sometimes it takes a village.  I typically bring everything I would normally bring on a normal day, adding a bathing suit and sunscreen if we are going to a water park obviously.IMG_20150701_074259 (2)
  • Always go to activities as soon as they possibly open. It’s usually quieter then and you get more quality time before you need to leave for naps and lunch time.  Plus, the people that ARE there, are your people, all families of young children.
  • Always bring snacks for both kids and adults, I find with all the flurry of travel it works up an appetite and by the time you get lunch/dinner you and the kids are running on fumes. A few snacks will tide everyone over.
  • Different families have different ways of coping with time changes and jet lag. For us, we get up the next morning at the normal time no matter what.  A lot of people will start adjusting to the time change prior to the trip a few days before, this may or may not be possible though depending on your flight time. Try to make a plan before you head off on your trip.
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Exploring the seaweed filled Cape Cod beaches

Hope some of these tips help you survive a “vacation” with your kids.  Just keep reminding yourself, next year it will get easier. I think every vacation I say never again but try to remind yourself when you have those moments it will pass and you’re building memories. Even if your babies won’t actually remember, you will be remembering for them down the road, so maybe it’s worth it? Hmm… It’s worth it, it is.  For now just breathe and get through it!  Good luck!