Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Toilet hacking

One of the things our small century home has is a toilet room.  Just right inside the side door you'll find a room that's not the coat closet every one thinks it is, not a bathroom, just a room with a toilet in it.  When we moved in a co-worker of my husband's said it was a gardner's or yard worker's toilet, since there was also a door to our kitchen.

For ages we've been saying we need to figure out fitting a sink in there, but it's just too small.  So I think we're just going to go for it and hack the toilet.

Here is the original hack instructions.  It shows exactly how it works, though it's not very pretty:    Original Instructables hack

This is the actual toilet with sink built on top, that I would love to have, but can't seem to source locally, and shipping is too much:  Porcelain sink on top of porcelain toilet

Video on hacked toilet in action!  Video

Now to shop for a new toilet and get to hacking!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The kinship care process is long, winding, and frustrating.

In August 2013 when my brother-in-law learned that a lady he'd been intimate with was pregnant, he realized he and the mother really needed to work on their lives and parenting skills before considering taking on a child.  He asked us if the child was his, if we'd be willing to care for the baby.  We immediately accepted.

There was a little boy born the end of January 2014.  His mother abandoned him at the hospital while his tiny body was withdrawing from pretty hard drugs.  He was alone in the hospital for nearly 3 weeks and then went home with a foster family.  The mother had named someone else as the father on the child's birth certificate, and we didn't know it, but they needed to declare the baby abandoned/motherless through the court in order to process my brother-in-law's DNA test, and for us to see the child.  That took over a month, until the first week of March.  

The second week of March, we learned my brother-in-law was the father.  We met the little guy on March 14th during a 2-hr visitation at children's services.   Our nursery is ready, there are new toys, clothes in all of the drawers, diapers prepped.  We had our fingerprints ran on 3/17, our home study on 3/18.  Everything was processed as of last week.  We've been anxiously waiting for the phone to ring since then. 

Surely, we thought he'd be here by now.  I called the social worker today - it will be at least another week before the little guy can come home.  She completed her paperwork and put it on her supervisor's desk last week.  Her supervisor didn't complete it before she went on vacation for the week...early next week the supervisor needs to sign off, then the director of the department needs to sign off before he can come to stay.

We're thankful he's with what seems to be a good foster family.  He has a young "sister" to take care of him, so he shouldn't be terribly shocked by C's hugs and kisses.  I'm mostly concerned that he'll be shocked because he's been in industrial childcare since he was 6 weeks old, and I'm worried he's not getting enough love.  I can't wait to get him home and cuddle him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


It's been a long time since I've written, and there have been a number of changes in our lives.  The biggest, perhaps, is the mental shift to go from a family of 3 to 5.  Yes, 5.  We're going to foster my infant nephew, at least for awhile, and I'm pregnant!  It's kind of nutty, in 2014, we'll have a 4 year old (5 in Sept.) and two under a year.  C is finally going to get his wish, be a big brother and keep the babies here.  *shakes head*

We'd known about the potential for my nephew for awhile, so that felt real, but finding out I was pregnant again was too much for me to take in.  I really felt helpless and didn't know what to do.  I was crying all the time, and really concerned for myself and family.  I think most of it was fear of pre-e again, but thankfully I feel like I'm on a lot more stable ground now.

I think most of the other changes have spiraled off that big one up there.  
  • I've reduced the number of children I care for in my little home childcare and am not accepting any new clients.
  • We have a nursery set up again.  
  • We're scheduled for foster parent pre-service training (again) for 4 weekend beginning April 25th. 
  • I've been working as a coordinator for the Crooked River Alliance of TimeBanks for the last year and am trying to get my head on straight to begin blogging and writing a bi-monthly newsletter for the timebank very soon.
  • D should get his promotion in the next month.  
  • C may start preschool in the fall, we're not entirely sure - depends on how he does with new baby in the house, when the new baby comes, etc.  He already knows all of his uppercase letters, most of the lowercase ones, and numbers through 20...  I'm also thinking a lot about homeschooling, so that may happen for pre-k/possibly kindergarten.
  • We still have a lot of home projects going on, as always.  We're hoping to get a good portion of them done this year.
  • We're talking about eventually moving if our nephew's placement becomes more permanent...making the home improvement projects a bit more vital.
I guess with all that going on, it makes sense that my head is in disarray...I hope it gets fully settled soon.  It's making me want a glass of wine and chocolate, and I can only do one of those right now.  :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beginning our kitchen remodel

We're in the beginning stages of a kitchen remodel.  We'd been toying with the idea since we bought our house, but the first year we replaced the furnace, second year the air conditioner, and now it's finally time.

We got a kitchen cabinet quote from a friend who works at Lowe's about a month ago, and then we started adding up the expenditures, and at around $10,000, it was just too much to do this year.  We thought about saving for another year, buying them from IKEA, or making them ourselves, but I just didn't think it was in the cards for 2013.

Then last weekend we made the drive to Northeast Factory Direct and thank goodness we did!  It's a Cleveland-based locally owned small business, and not only am I glad to be supporting local people - our cabinets that cost less than half of our Lowe's quote! And they actually seem to be better quality, too!  They'll be delivered in about a month.

Look at this - no, not the adorable tiny C getting his 1st bath
at home - the awesome retroness that will be no more.
You'd think I'd be relieved to rid our lives of the awesome yellow boomerang countertop, and the aged 1"x1" off-white and burnt umber colored wall tiles, but now the stress is on.

Things we need to do in the next month:

  1. Get an electrician in, to add and move some wall outlets.
  2. Find a fun/funky nearly flat undercabinet light for over the sink.
  3. Tear down the tile, cabinets, and replaster.
  4. Refinish the wood floors.
  5. Figure out the new color scheme.
  6. Find backsplash tile.
  7. Find curtains.
  8. Decide whether to replace kitchen nook table or paint it.
There are some positives too - you'll walk in to a nice cozy kitchen, instead of in your face yellow and blue, we'll be able to arrange our dishes better, have all the food together, have a much better traffic pattern and usability, and maybe we'll actually be able to get to and use our breakfast nook - but right now, the stress is building.  I'm ready for demo time!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Top 10 reasons I watch other children rather than working full-time out of the home

  1. I get to stay home with C!
  2. A good friend watched C for about 9 months, but when she was ready to go back to work, I couldn't find home childcare that I trusted for my son.  I want to be that great home-based child care for other people.
  3. I enjoy being around children and teaching them positive interactions and life tasks.
  4. After C, it was very difficult to force-extrovertism at work with adults all day and then not want to hide in a hole when I got home.  With kids all day, I'm thrilled to talk with adults any time of day!  :)
  5. Being with kids, you get to read them books with pictures, play with puppets, make a mess all day, and get paid for it.
  6. Singing silly songs while doing life tasks makes them smile and laugh instead of look at you oddly.
  7. Craft time!
  8. I'm feeding 5 or 6 kids nutritious meals, and hopefully teaching them healthy eating habits.  And teaching them to garden in the summer?  Definite win!
  9. Hugs.  So many hugs.
  10. It's socially acceptable and positive to REALLY love and care about the people I work with.  I love my kids, so much.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Kent Community Time Bank - now in Twinsburg!

Last night I went to a meeting at the Twinsburg library and joined the Kent Community TimeBank!  The KCTB is branching out and Twinsburg is their first hub location in Summit County.

If you've never heard of timebanking, check out this 7 minute video.  In short, you provide a service to another person for which you get a credit, and then you can spend the credit on a service you need.  It's really that simple.  No money exchange, just time.  It's very similar to volunteering, but you get the feel-good feeling from helping someone AND get something in return?!  It disrupts everything that one learns about society from a young age.  It really does exist - it's real and active!

I remember when I first ran across the idea of timebanking.  It was around the same time I researched WWOOF-ing, and realized that timebanking would just be a lot more practical for me.  And now, 5 years later, I'm involved.  I just posted my first couple ads, and I'm really hoping someone will take me up on them.  I plan to use my credits to get help on the exterior of our house.  We need help with power-washing, drawing up a landscape plan, putting in the garden, and figuring out which edible trees and bushes would be best suited for our yard.

I may actually be able to get some of the things done on my home that I've been wanting to do for years, meet some really neat people, and feel a lot better about our world, all because there are other people that think like me.  *shakes head*  There are people that think like me.  I am unbelievably thrilled, to the point where someone may need to pinch me.  I am so PROUD that something like this exists, and so humbled and thankful that I can be a part of it.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

West Side Market reopening Feb 18th - President's Day

Oh, West Side Market, I'm so excited that you're reopening tomorrow, but I'm not looking forward to the parking situation.

My stock is nearly down to zero though, so our bellies might lead the way. We need to stock back up on almonds and cashews from the P-Nut Gallery, smokies for Cory from Czuchraj Meats, Market Blend coffee from City Roast, a falafil-baba wrap from Maha's, and as always, fruit from Tony's Produce. If C has a 7am wakeup like he did this morning, parking may still work out okay.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reminder to myself and all of us: You're Beautiful

Recently I ran across an article written by a mommy-blogger named Amanda King, later submitted to the blog community Offbeat Families, and then re-posted on Huffington Post entitled "I am beautiful, girls".  It's written by a mother, reflecting upon herself, and the realization that her children will most likely think of themselves as adults as she thinks of herself currently, or at least how she tells them that she feels.  As a result, she's begun to tell them that she knows she's beautiful, while at the same time attempting to convince herself that she feels it.

This article resonated deeply with me.  In fact, not only did I share immediately using a social networking tool, I printed the article and hung it on the wall in my office.  While I've long understood it to be true, that children learn by observation, the next time my son tells me how pretty I look, I'm going to agree with him instead of just saying "Thank you".

Definitely, go read or reread this post.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Wooden rocketship desire.

Cory got this awesome cardboard rocketship for Christmas.  The kid in me is still unbelievably jealous. All we had were awesome home decorated refrigerator boxes.

via Instagram http://instagr.am/p/UMBhBfmfhn/
A: *talking to C* Wow, you're the coolest rocketship cowboy captain I've ever seen. 
C: I know. I'm so cool.

via Instagram http://instagr.am/p/UOUKkBGfoZ/
The cardboard has already been reinforced with packing tape, and I can't see it lasting more than another week.  I've scoured the net and can't find a wooden rocketship playhouse (or even Little Tikes/Step 2) anywhere...so I know it will be on my 2013 build list. But will a wooden rocketship be as cool? This is the question.

Ana White, or someone else awesome, could you please draw me up some plans for a wooden rocketship?  I will totally geek it out for the kiddos!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cool FREE kid happenings near Twinsburg in January 2013

It's a bummer that I can't get out more with the kiddos through the week, but with 4 or 5 children, it's pretty difficult.  As a result, we often try to take advantage of many cool free evening/weekend things happening around town and try to get them on the schedule early.

On the calendar this month are:

1/5/13 @ 9am-12pm -  Build a Birdhouse at Home Depot!

1/12/13 @ 10am-12pm - Build a "Mystery Kit" at Lowe's!

1/14/13 @ 7pm - "Oh the Crafts You Can Make" at Twinsburg Public Library

1/20/13 @ 12-4pm - PBS Family Wellness Expo at Shaw JCC of Akron

1/28/13 @ 7pm - "Oh the Crafts You Can Make" at Twinsburg Public Library

If you know of any other exciting free (or low cost) evening/weekend activities in the Cleveland-Akron area, please let me know!