Friday, June 9, 2017

Cement Work

Alright - here's another snazzy topic. Let's talk about cement.

You may (but probably don't) remember that when we were working on our half bath last year, we found out that the cause of a regular leak was a huge hole in the cement on the side of the house. Because we're in a row house, you have to climb into our neighbor's yard to see the problem, so we had no idea until our contractor got up on the fence to take a look. We knew that it wasn't smart to finish the room without fixing the hole first, but put it off until now.

the outside of the mudroom - the major crack causing leaks

As is always true with every project we tackle, once we have a contractor out to look at something, we decide that it makes sense to add on on a couple other at the same time. Under the mudroom floor, we noticed that a huge chunk of concrete had fallen loose, making us concerned about the stability of the structure. There were also a bunch of other spots with cracks in the front and back porches, plus when we put in the new stairs, they ran right on top of the cement border for the flower beds. So, sure enough, one small patch turned into a much bigger project.

under the mudroom floor - a huge chunk has fallen down

looking down the new back steps - stepping right onto the flower bed

big cracks across the front steps

a big crack on the ceiling of the back porch

It took a while to find the right type of company to do this kind of work, and then to wait until the weather was warm enough to do it. Then, we finally got scheduled and they got to work. It took a couple days, but now everything looks amazing. We're struggling not to add more to the project, because the fixed up spots make everything else look so much worse now.

Day 1: they sand down the front porch and fill in the cracks

Day 2: They cover the front porch with a thin coat of cement

The front steps get a smooth coat too - no more cracks

filling in the crack on the back porch

rounding the curb at the bottom of the steps

and of course - fixing the actual hole that started this project

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Tropical Beach Getaway with a 2-year old

So our kid is now 2. We have tried a few trips with him, mostly to see family for the holidays, and our one experimental trip to Chicago with my mother-in-law, which we decided was successful but not relaxing. We were getting overwhelmed by jobs stuff and house stuff and felt a desperate need for a good relaxing vacation, which hasn't happened in years. We debated whether it made sense to take a trip with our toddler, knowing that it wouldn't be the relaxing and rejuvenating trip we wanted, but ultimately decided that we could either take a not-as-great-as-before trip or nothing at all, and decided to do it. On a bit of a whim, we booked 4 nights at a gorgeous hotel and cheapish flights to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands.

our beach in st. croix

our fabulous hotel

The Good Stuff:
We brought pool toys and beach toys, and spent a good deal of time either in the water or the sand playing. While our son is still at the stage where he needs to be constantly watched (especially around water), we were able to take turns watching him and playing, and both had fun with him and a couple moments to relax by ourselves and soak in the beautiful surroundings.

making sandcastles (and then stepping on them)

guess who's in charge of sun protection in this family?

swimming in the pool

sitting by the pool

on our way to dinner one night

a moment to myself during naptime

We booked this hotel because the rooms were small suites, with a kitchenette and small living room area, which gave us enough room for his crib. It also had an amazing screened in porch, which gave us a place to be while he was sleeping.

napping on the porch

The kitchenette turned out to be critical - since meals in resort were ridiculously expensive (we spent $60 just on breakfast one day). Our first day, we drove into town to pick up some basic groceries and booze, and were able to eat breakfast and lunch in the room to avoid the resort prices. Not only was the resort restaurant ridiculously expensive, but the options were pretty terrible - when it's that hot out, the idea of a huge burger and fries for lunch is completely unappealing. We were thrilled to just be able to pick at some fresh fruit and crackers in the room.

hotel pic of the kitchenette - ours was covered in snacks and drinks

The OK Stuff:
This is now our third plane trip with him, and I think we're getting the hang of it. The actual travelling part of travelling is never fun, but this wasn't that bad. We didn't check any bags, and just squeezed into two carry-ons, which were thankfully gate-checked anyway.  We got a crib from the hotel and rented the car seat from the car rental company, so we didn't need to travel with either of those. We brought some books and snacks on the plane for entertainment, and finally broke down and downloaded some tv shows for him to watch (he loves Elmo now). We also tried to book the flights around naptime, so he eventually fell asleep on both flights. All in all, not bad for 6 hours of travel time.

on the plane - in his own seat for the first time

yay napping on the plane

It turns out the St Croix is a great destination for diving, which we would both love to do, but can't do with him. The first rule of scuba is that you need a dive partner, so we couldn't take turns and each go by ourselves either. So, we had to sadly walk by the dive shop at the resort, wistfully wishing we could dive, but knowing that it wasn't that kind of trip. We would've also loved to go for a hike through the rainforest, or a sunset sail, but we had to make amends with the notion that this wasn't that kind of trip and maybe we could come back another time.

The Bad Stuff:
So we knew it wouldn't be a perfect trip, but we also got kind of unlucky on this one. On our second day, after a nice morning playing in the sand and swimming in the pool, our kiddo was clearly exhausted and crashed a couple hours early for his nap. When he woke up, he was clearly sick, with a raging fever and miserable face. He would cry constantly unless I was holding him, and would only fall asleep in my lap - so for a solid day, we were stuck in the room, unable to move. (Silver lining, I finally finished a book.) We were able to track down some children's Tylenol that we had to force-feed him, but then, after another night of sleep, he started feeling better.

Trying to make the most of the remainder of the trip, we dashed to the beach for a couple hours of fun in the sand and water. As we were playing in the sand, I accidentally stepped on a bee, which I happen to be allergic to, that hurt like hell. We tried to make the most of the night, and quickly dashed into town to get dinner away from the resort, but my foot was slowly swelling up, hurting like crazy. It wasn't until we were back in town that I was able to get to an urgent care facility to get some shots and drugs to get it fixed. (still hurting now, 3 days later, but getting better).

my foot after the plane trip home, before I could get medical help

So, I think we're still debating whether this was worth it or not. I mean, it was absolutely gorgeous, and I would absolutely go back. We had a bunch of fun times, either with him in the sand or the pool, or just hanging out by ourselves on the porch during naptime, reading and drinking all of the rum. But obviously it was not the relaxing and refreshing vacation that we were hoping for, even considering that we were traveling with a toddler. I think we are learning how to travel with him and getting a little better at that, while also learning to adjust our expectations. (lesson confirmed - always get a kitchen, new lesson - always bring children's Tylenol). I'm hoping that as he gets a little older, and maybe we get a little luckier next time, relaxing travel will be possible.