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.

kitchen renovation no walls
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!

Living Through a Renovation… With 2 Toddlers

We recently took on the endeavor of a bathroom and kitchen renovation. Which, now that it’s happening, feels a little insane, but this is our forever home and we felt it’s time to start making it our home with more than just fresh paint in the bedrooms.  

At first glance, the kitchen seems fine.  Cooking in it daily though, helps to pull back some of the layers of this crazy onion of a kitchen.  The seller had painted very old cabinets, replaced some of the hinges, added a new countertop and bought mid range stainless steel appliances that were dented floor models.  Ultimately, besides the counter, it was all an awesome kitchen facade.  

The worst part about the kitchen was the layout. With only about 20” of prep space it was my own home kitchen nightmare.  I make at least 3 meals a day that involve cutting boards and several food items sprawled about.  The daily use was a pain, holidays a shit show.

With our new layout plan there will be several feet of counter space to prep and shelving in the cabinets that pull out so nothing can get lost in the back like a Bermuda Triangle of kitchen space.  Plus a second oven!  We found a contractor we trusted, a parent at Reece’s preschool.  Now the “fun” would begin.  

You might think the stress of a renovation would start once demolition of the kitchen starts. No, no… Nope… No… You would be wrong.  Especially if you have children.  You have to make many decisions, and if you’re organized, you’ll want to have everything picked out (and in some cases ordered) in advance.  

Which leads me to stresses prior to demo day.  Trying to shop with young children running around the store is hectic at best.  When we went to the appliance store the kids were running in different directions, touching everything, Kat wanted to use the potty then wouldn’t go, then ask to go again, and to top it off Reece had a pee accident even though he had tried to potty minutes before.

We still needed to figure out the counters and tile and didn’t feel like having an appliance store repeat.  Our monthly date night was coming up so we ended up using the time to go to the granite showroom and tile store.  The glamour!  We picked three quartz samples we liked and requested a quote and brought home some tile samples so we could pick based off the finalized counter choice.  Our hope was that one of the three quartz prices would be much cheaper therefore making the decision for us.  Turned out the difference was within $200 so cost wasn’t really a huge factor. 

Quartz Choices
Our top 3 picks

After much flip flopping I made a decision.  It may seem so simple to simply call and let the granite place know what our pick is, but for some reason when you have kids phone calls and emails are such a pain.  After about a week of Rich or I promising to order the counter “today” I finally sent an email.  On to picking a sink and order the tile as well!  We obviously waited another 2 or 3 weeks before I could finally bring the tile samples back to the store and order the backsplash.  

During the procrastination period of tile ordering, we checked with the contractor that the sink we wanted would fit the space.  It was then that we, sadly, realized maybe we should have picked an apron sink prior to the cabinets being delivered since they would have needed to know that beforehand.  Scratch the apron sink, boo!  We checked out a showroom with tons of faucets and sink options, but they never sent us quotes. Only extremely annoying since we had to bring the kids this time and it was pretty close to our appliance store experience.  

After checking online we found their prices were about twice as much for the same sink at Home Depot or Amazon sooo… Off to Home Depot we went, with the kids.  After a few pictures and lots of screaming and crying we made a hasty exit.  Luckily, we could take what we found from the Depot and check reviews on Amazon in the quiet of our home after bedtime.  The sink was delivered the very next day!

Kat and Reece try to cramp into the cart
Fun at Home Depot

Once most of the decisions had come together we got a start date and the days leading up to it were spent packing our kitchen.  Luckily I had a day where Reece was at preschool while Kat was at daycare, so I got 2 hours of packing started.  And by started I mean, I moved all the crap in our attic that was in the way, blocking the stairs, out of the way.  Our attic is huge.  The small amount of things we do have up there my husband had “organized.”  Which means, it was a hot mess.  Baby clothes tossed on top of boxes, holiday decorations lying across the stairs.  Good thing I had all this kid free time to clear up the kitchen! Oh wait…

Kitchen dining room renovation
Our makeshift Kitchen in the dining room during the renovation.

After I picked up Reece from his long 3 hour day at preschool, we had lunch, and he napped for 3 hours, so I actually did get a lot accomplished then.  The rest of the packing happened the Saturday night and Sunday before the demo.  Saturday we stayed up until 11 packing up, then the next day my brother came by and took the kids to lunch for 2 hours so we could wrap up packing.  Uncle Matt got lucky and Kat had a huge blowout so they didn’t get to go to the park together, but at least we finished what we needed to do.

We were, ready for demo day!!!  Ha… Not really…  Stay tuned for Week One!

When Three Became Four

We were so focused on the first meet of our newborn and toddler that we overlooked researching the time leading up to it.  If you know toddlers, you know, in order to get them to do anything you have to plant a seed and give it time to grow.  Luckily, we were doing this all along since it’s a pretty important step and shouldn’t be overlooked!  Our now 2 and 3 year old are each other’s best friends.  Part of it is their personalities I don’t doubt, but preparation before the new baby arrives goes a long way.  Please know, not every family is the same and you need to adjust for your child’s personality.  Hopefully, our family’s experience can be used as a guide or to get ideas to help you smooth the transition from a family of 3 to 4.

During Pregnancy – Get Ready to Talk – A Lot!

It might not seem like it, but your soon to be “big” sister/brother is taking in a lot more than you realize.  Setting the groundwork leading up to when they first meet is a big part of the process.  We started preparing Reece several months before the new baby arrived.  We started talking about the baby in mama’s belly at about 10 weeks.  Some people wait until after the 12 week mark so their toddler doesn’t spill the beans.  Reece wasn’t the most chatty so we weren’t concerned.  Once friends and family know, start talking on the regular!  When we talked to Reece about the baby, we always referred to her as “his baby” so he felt as though he was a part of what we happening.

We also read several books to reinforce the idea of a new baby.  I was on bedrest for a lot of my second pregnancy so I also took advantage of my son’s love for Daniel Tiger.  We watched The Baby is Here episode about 200 times from my 28th week on.

Before, after, and during watching  Daniel Tiger we would talk about the baby and “kiss” her.  Then we would talk about how excited we were to meet her in the coming days.  Don’t forget that! It’s one thing to talk about the baby in the belly, it’s another to make sure you drill it into your toddler’s head that this baby will be coming home to stay in the near future.  Again, even if it doesn’t feel like they are getting it, that idea seed is growing.  

Mom Reece and belly ice cream
Mom Reece and baby bump eating ice cream

The Big Day, for your toddler, not L&D day

We decided to have the new siblings meet in the hospital since it’s a neutral location.  We had my two brothers and sister watch Reece during Kat’s labor and delivery.  Yes, it took three adults to watch one 22 month old.  When they all came to see us at the hospital there was a lot of talk about how tired they were. Ha!  We left a daily Reece schedule on the fridge.  We let them know it’s flexible.  They don’t have kids and had no idea how much food at each meal, when naps/bedtime happen, and other small things that as a parent you just know.  We wanted to try to keep home life as normal as possible.

After we had rested a little from the delivery we told my siblings any time they wanted to stop by we were ready.  They texted us when they had parked and we rolled our new baby, Kat, into the bathroom.  Yes, it sounds crazy, but we wanted to give Reece the time he needed for a mini reunion and some solo time.  We made sure not to put any pressure on Reece.  If he wanted to say hello he could, if not, that was fine as well.  We did take a few pictures but didn’t make them do force posed pictures together.  We simply followed Reece’s lead. 

Reece and Kat’s Meet Cute

When Reece arrived we said our hello’s and checked in with him.  Then we rolled Kat in and let him look at her.  Dad picked her up and we introduced big brother to little sister then we had them exchange gifts.  Little sister was given a Sophie and big brother got a truck.  We let them observe each other and talked about how it was so exciting she would be coming home to stay with us soon.

Reece enjoyed pointing out all of Kat’s features, eyes, ears, head, nose.  He accidentally scratched Kat’s face kissing her and she cried out.  Since Reece is a very empathetic toddler he cried for about 10 minutes, which was 9 minutes and 50 seconds longer than Kat.  We decided Reece was at his limit and said goodbye to Kat.  Off she rolled, into bathroom again.  We had a few minutes of solo time with our toddler then said our goodbyes, letting him know we would see him the following day.  

The visit short. I didn’t time it, but probably less than a half an hour.  Crying fit and all.  I never held the baby during the visit, but Reece did get to climb into bed with me for a cuddle.

 

big brother kissing little sister

Toddlers are not always the most delicate.  Add to that, they might not be thrilled to meet their new sibling.  Feelings of jealousy, confusion, sadness are all normal.  Be prepared for things to not go smoothly.  There might be hitting or crying involved.  Don’t be afraid of their first introduction, but keep it in your mind that it might not be love at first sight.  Sometimes it’s not love at first sight between parents and babies (completely normal also).  We shouldn’t expect instant love from our new big brother/sister.

Freaking out over a toddler hitting our being to rough with the newborn is most likely only going to scare your child.  Try to remain as calm as possible, even when you are on the verge of melting into a puddle.

Think back to when you became a first time mom/dad.  This is very similar for your toddler.  Your oldest will need YOU to help navigate this new transition. As second/third/etc. time parents you need to help set the tone and nurture their relationship.

Even if things are tough at first, down the road the new baby will be more child and less blob and they will be able to play together. Big siblings can be younger siblings best teachers and role models!  If it’s awesome from the start, great! If it’s rocky, hang in there! It gets better, it just takes some time.

Big brother and little sis cuddling
A very proud big brother cuddling with sister.