Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sweet Fourteen

For Liv's birthday today, I surprised her with trapeze lessons on the lakefront. Liv: great at it. Mom: not so much. In fact, Mom: worst in class. Well you can't be great at everything. After our two hour class, we got caught in a downpour walking to dinner. Ian's mac and cheese pizza made it all worth while. Then we got caught in a massive thunder and lightning storm while we waited for the bus. After which it HAILED. Great birthday weather, Chicago! At least the bizarro weather made for some great, moody pictures.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Full Frontal Greenery

I'm no gardener, but it didn't take much to make our front yard look better:


We pulled out the hostas around the doomed tree and used them to beef up the greenery in the border. Because, why not, free. Then I added some yellow lemon zest petunias, and some purple pointy annuals (not a plant person, couldn't tell you). I also planted some tall yellow flowers at the back, which dropped all of their blooms immediately and now sit there like lumps. That's what I get for waiting til mid-June and then buying everything at 75% off, I guess. The big bushes on either side of the stairs are Rose of Sharon, which is so trashy I can't stand it, but they are tall and we are not cutting anything down after the tree debacle. The little bushes are rhododendron, and they were really pretty for five minutes this spring. Manicured lawn and touched up window trim courtesy of Mr. Stoner, seen here with his small twin.

Sandal 911

What do you do in a shoe emergency, when you're out and about and the stupid sandals you are wearing suddenly snap completely off your foot and can't be fixed?

A) Schlep to Payless, which is only 2 blocks away, and buy something cheap.
B) Take yourself to the fancy shoe boutique down the street and plop down your credit card for a cute pair of Jeffrey Campbell wedges that immediately give you blisters, then hobble around town for two hours cursing the shoe store clerk who told you such lies about leather stretching, before finally stopping at Walgreens for a $6 pair of flip flops, sweet relief!


Garbage Sale

My basement is full of crap I don't need. Money, I need. Enter Craigslist, a poor packrat's best friend. Here's the stuff I put on the Craigs stroll this weekend...

UO table $20 - someone is picking up tonight
Ikea glass mobile $30
window fan $20 (this will go on Friday, when it is supposed to be 97)
ikea curtains $10 - I accidentally bought two packs for Liv's room
chairs 2/$50 - we bought these on CL, painted and recovered
queen headboard $80 - I love it but we don't have anywhere to put it
original painting $250 - Josh all the way- someone is coming Mon

Hot tub $400
The dude who was gonna take the hot tub worried us - he kept talking about cutting up porch beams and railings to get it out. Also, he moved a hot tub previously... but he ROLLED it to the truck so of course it didn't work when he got it home. So, yeah, we gave him his money back and re-listed.

SOLD - coffee table, $60 (it was SUPER worn on top)
SOLD - Ikea Expedit $75, what I paid for it 4 years ago on CL

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nothing Much

Not much to report on the home front. Josh turned a year older yesterday, Elliot started pulling himself up on EVERYTHING, I'm trying to land a promotion with a raise ... so I can afford the tuition for a private Catholic high school for Liv. We went over to the school she's supposed to go to in the fall, and we both got a really bad vibe. Good program, good teachers, bad school. She doesn't want to go there, I don't want her to go there, and we have a terrific private school just a half mile away. So we're going over today to meet with the admissions director. If she loves it, we'll take the plunge... and figure out how to squeeze $800+ out of our budget every month. Meanwhile, there's a meeting tonight for parents to voice how they feel about the public high school application process in Chicago. This parent has a few things to say.

UPDATE: She's in! The school is terrific, and she was formally accepted a few hours after we left. Yay!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Snoopy Dance

The babysitter sent me this photo yesterday of Elliot playing the piano while her little girl watches. She said it reminded her of Lucy and Schroeder. Ha!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ring Around the Rosies

One of the things I was looking forward to most about having our own house was having a yard that I could landscape any way I wanted to. But there were two things I didn't account for:

1) You inherit someone else's plants and trees, and killing them for no reason other than you would like to put a different plant there will make you feel SO BAD
2) Putting a different plant there costs money. Money you don't have.

I couldn't look at the dumb red rocks and dead bushes, so we pulled them out and spent a couple of months looking at dirt while we contemplated our options. By the time we had enough money to plant stuff, it was mid June and the perennial section at Home Depot was picked clean. The best looking plants left were roses, flowers I've never been particular fond of or felt a desire to grow. But the neighbors have some nice looking roses in their yards, and Knockout Roses are rumored to be dummy-proof and low maintenance. Plus just a few plants can fill in a pretty big space. Sold!

Here's what the backyard looked like before:

Then Josh ripped out all the dead stuff.

The only live plant (except the apple tree) was that big shaggy bush in the center. I thought it was a hydrangea we moved in last summer, because it had dried flowers all over it, but I don't think it really is. Anyway, it looked stupid so it got the chop.

We picked up 7 rosebushes at Home Depot for $18/each. Josh laid out weed block and planted them through it, before piling on plain brown mulch.

I think it will look good next year, when those bushes grown bigger and form a sort of rose hedge. And if they don't, the total cost was under $200 so we can always pull them out and start over if we needed to. The little tree you see next to the last rosebush was in a planter on our enclosed porch when we bought this house. Somehow it survived the year with no watering or attention or fresh air, in a small pot. So we rewarded it by planting it in actual dirt. Josh thinks it's a mulberry, but we will be long gone from this house by the time it starts making fruit, I hope. Those things are messy.

Next project for the backyard: to build a little mini-patio for the grill so it's not on the cement pad, blocking the walkway.

Here's what our porch looks like now. Hopefully the hot tub will be GONE soon. Some dude from CL is supposed to come get it.

Layla spent the weekend perfecting her Dead Dog impression.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Our Almost-Home

Before we bought this house, we actually made an offer on a different one - a super cute American foursquare with stucco and lots of period charm. It was on a great street in Portage park, 1/2 block from the park. The location wasn't ideal, because it would have meant a long bus ride for the kids after school, but the house felt right. The only problem was that it needed a new roof. As in, tear off the old roof and completely start over. As in, $15,000. We asked the sellers to come down from their asking price by $15K, but they wouldn't budge. At first, their realtor wouldn't even present our counter! Douche. After he finally did, they came back with an insulting $500, so the deal fell through.

Fast forward a year later. Since the sellers already relocated last April, the house has been sitting empty this entire time. Finally, I see that it sold this week... for a whopping $70K UNDER our last offer. It must have been a short sale too, because the final price was $100K less than the old owners paid for it. Someone got a great deal; it was a nice house. But I sure am glad we didn't pay asking for it.

7 Months Old

At 7 months, Elliot finally has popped a tooth (yesterday!). He is beginning to crawl, but he still relies on the good old Army crawl when he wants to get somewhere fast. His favorite thing to play with is the remote, and he's really good at changing channels. He's fascinated by rugs, and is forever pulling up the edges to look underneath.

He babbles but no real words yet. He does say MOMMMOMOMOMMM! when he wakes up from a nap and wants out of his crib but it's more of a sound than a word. He doesn't seem to connect it to me specifically. He is fascinated by cars that drive by when we are taking our walks, so I'm trying to teach him the word "car." He still doesn't laugh much, but I *love* that cute little belly laugh when I hear it.

Elliot is the squirmiest kid who ever lived. The second you get his diaper off, he flips over and tries to dive off the end of the changing table. It takes two people 10 minutes to change his diaper, tag-team style. He eats three meals a day, and particularly enjoys squash with turkey, apples, and peach yogurt. He weighs about 18 pounds and is around 26 inches long, I think. He's out of 6 months clothes for sure; even nine months are pushing it. He can go to a sitting position from lying down, and is starting to pull himself to a stand. He still isn't sleeping through the night (frick!) but gets up for that trusty midnight bottle like clockwork. Dang, I'm tired. He's so stinking cute I sent his photos into a talent agency and entered him in a baby photo contest. I think he's a winner!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's a Girl!

Okay, I'm definitely NOT pregnant and there's a very good (say, 90%) chance I never will be again, but if I did have another kid and it was a girl, wouldn't Evelyn be a cute name? It's the perfect blend of Elliot, Olivia and Dylan. Adorbs, and totally not just for old ladies.

9 More Awesome Girl Names I Will Almost Surely Never Use
  • Cleo
  • Lorelei
  • Penelope
  • Fern
  • Daphne 
  • Cordelia
  • Annabel
  • Alice 
  • Wren

4 Things I Learned This Morning

1. Start drying your hair at the top, in case the baby wakes up before you are finished. That way, you can hide the wet, crazy-looking hair under the smooth pretty hair and hope no one notices.
2. If you have to put the baby down on the kitchen floor because he can wriggle out of the bouncy chair in under 5 seconds, for the love of GOD pick up the dogs' water bowl first.
3. Sippy cups that are supposed to be leakproof are big liars, and will not only leak apple juice all over the inside of the diaper bag but also down your leg while you are walking the baby over to the sitter's house.
4. You can't catch the bus when your wallet is still sitting on the desk at home.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weekend Accomplishments

Trim on front windows: PAINTED
New patio table: PURCHASED

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Goodbye, nice mature tree that shaded our yard until the city maimed you.

The forestry department claims it will plant a small ornamental pear in the fall. It would look pretty, but I'm not holding my breath.