Thursday, July 26, 2012


If you're like me, flying with a parachute is a lovely idea. And you'd gladly dump out of a plane with nothing but the parachute strapped to your back. Just as long as the plane is on fire, exploding, or otherwise severely incapacitated and incapable of making a safe landing. I'll be the first one out. But at the same time, I feel absolutely no urge to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

For my birthday this year Sarah got me a gift certificate to an indoor skydiving facility. It's a wind tunnel that's been stood up, so the floor is just blowing a lot of wind at you. The exact speed varies (they set it for you -- you can see mine was set at ~102mph on the screen at the lower left of the video), based on your weight and experience. Some of the best fliers can literally sit in mid-air, in an upright sitting position. They then flatten themselves, shoot up to the ceiling, then freefall back down and just catch themselves. Me? Not quite that good. It was incredibly fun, though surprisingly tiring. Here's a video, and you can see the other video and a bunch of photos in the gallery.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vivian Smiles

I know the day will come when these smiles will not be the highlight of my day. And bigger things will replace them. But for right now I hope those days are still a long way off.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vivian Cooing

Vivian making faces and sounds while lounging in the afternoon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Like Father, Like Son

Michal was on the phone with a friend yesterday. Theo followed one step behind him chatting away on his own phone. Michal sat down and Theo immediately had to sit right beside Michal. I managed to get this shot of them.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bathroom Construction: Day 40 (July 5)

Some finishing touches. Toilet paper;

Drawer and door pulls on the vanity:


Bath rug:

Shower curtain:

I also installed the consumer reports' top-rated showerhead, and took a glorious shower. (It really is nice.) I also put in a new outlet for the clothes washer in the laundry room (for the past few weeks it's been running off an extension cord).

What's left in the project? Well, there's a reason all the photos are looking into the bathroom. There's still no door! We also bought a mirror that's too large for the bathroom, and we'll likely want a medicine cabinet as well. Finally I want to do some electrical work in the laundry room, adding some more electrical outlets and reconfiguring the lights to both be more useful to doing laundry, and be on their own switch from the rest of the basement. Once all that's done, I'll need to drywall and paint the other side of all the bathroom walls (yep, that's right -- behind the tile is some drywall. Behind the drywall, on the west wall anyway, is literally nothing -- the studs are still exposed.)

Bathroom Construction: Day 39 (July 3)

Today I installed the toilet. And I had so much fun doing that, I decided to install the vanity ("sink") as well.

Bathroom Construction: Day 38 (July 2)

I took July 1st off. (I think. There are no photos and I'm not sure what I would've done anyway.) July 2 I installed cover plates on the outlets, after acquiring longer screws to mount the outlets in the now deeply recessed boxes.

I also installed the shower spout:

And the bath controls:

And the bath spout. If you look closely, you'll note I'm filling the bath for the first-ever bath!

And I removed the window protection, so you can see the entire bath in its full glory:

Bathroom Construction: Days 36 and 37 (June 29 and 30)

More grouting! Lots and lots of grouting. I finally finished all the walls and had some left over grout already mixed up, so despite my mental thinking that I'd do the floor on a later day, I went ahead and did the floor. Wow, the floor is easy to do in comparison -- mostly because the grout that doesn't make it into the joints isn't constantly falling down on the ground.

To complicate things a bit, the natural stone floor tiles come with instructions to seal them before applying grout, to avoid staining them. The sealer says it needs to sit on for five minutes then wipes off, but of course says for "pre-grouting applications, apply twice" and you need to wait 48 hours between applications. I decided to ignore that, but did worry a bit about staining our floor. (Though admittedly staining white/gray/black tiles slightly whiter isn't really that noticeable.) I don't think they stained in the end though.

Bathroom Construction: End of Days 34 and 35 (June 27 and 28)

Day 34 was evidently one of those days I missed taking a photo. But I know it was grouting. Because day 35 was grouting as well. I actually bought an epoxy grout which is far superior to cement-based grouts. Except for the part where once it sets on the tiles you can't get it off. And I know how I grout. I like to have a nice solid haze on there, because if the grout in the joints is still wet, I cannot wipe off the tiles to save my life. So I need the grout to set before I wipe it off. So I did the epoxy grout around the area behind (and above) the sink [because this was a low-visibility area] and ultimately had to take a paper towel to the black tiles to get them clean. I gave up. (Also, I had bought two sets of the grout -- one for ALL the walls and one for the floor. How mistaken I was! I ended up needing to buy two more sets of concrete grout for the walls.) The photos are a bit hard to see, but you should be able to tell where the joints are grouted and where they aren't:

Bathroom Construction: End of Day 33 (June 27)

Just tiling in the window. The ceiling portion (is it the ceiling? Or just the upside down part?) went surprisingly well. I had worried the tiles wouldn't stick, but they did.

Bathroom Construction: End of Day 32 (June 26)

After an evening off for dodgeball, I went back at it and tiled the north wall (excluding the window):

Look carefully at the photo. Go ahead, look. I'll wait.

Did you see it? Yep, the light! There's a light on the ceiling! Which is why the photos were so lovely. Here's the main light, and not just the fan light:

I also completed the south wall, a very tiny section as most of the wall is actually the door:

And here are some closeup details of the plumbing trim out that the plumber did:

This one is the tub spout connector, which has an o-ring which really needed to stay clean, so it's covered by a bag:

And finally, the plumber also put our laundry sink back into action!

Bathroom Construction: End of Day 31 (June 24)

I got smart today, and realized that a lot of worry about the straightness of my rows could be easily averted by using my laser level. (Previously I was using my 36" level to manually check a section at a time.) I also upgraded from a premixed product that called itself a thinset mortar to a real mortar, around concerns it wasn't as strong. (And indeed it seems to have a bit of flexibility in it, which may be good for longetivity but bad for moisture.) In case I haven't called it out enough, check out the awesomeness of the laser below:

I kept going, mostly because I thought we needed all the tiling done (but not necessarily grouted) to do the final trim on the plumbing.

And finally, there had been some debate about whether we wanted to run the black border around the ceiling of the shower (so if you look closely in the Day 30 photo you can see a space at the top). Well we decided not to, and so I filled it in with a white tile:

Bathroom Construction: End of Day 30 (June 23)

Today's update brings us to a completed east wall.

Bathroom Construction: End of Day 29 (June 22)

So I sort of got really, really, really busy with putting up tile to the point that I was going to bed after midnight (and still waking up with Theo in the mornings). Naturally, blogging the construction updates fell by the wayside. I did, however, take photos along the way, although there were one or two nights when I had left the cell phone upstairs and didn't feel like going upstairs, coming back down to take a photo, and going back upstairs. So we'll miss those nights. Sit back, and enjoy the litany of blog updates about to unfold. On the Day 28 update, I showed a mortar-board surround for the window. I think June 21st was one of those no-photo days where I painted the ceiling and exposed drywall a nice pale blue color. On June 22nd I got right down to it and started tiling. You can see some of the paint at the top of the photo.

I started with the east wall, because the wall would be largely behind the toilet and the vanity, which means any mistakes I'd make would be hidden, and I could hone my tiling skills by the time I got to exposed areas. The one catch to this strategy was that I wanted to have the tub be flush with a row of tiles. The only way to ensure that was the case was to start the very first row of tiles above the tub, expand that row out over the open floor, then fill down with tiles. (Tiles balance much more nicely when you build them up, so each successive course rests on the one below it). We planned to use a nice black trim tile at where the wall met the floor, and the tiles didn't quite line up so the first row of white tile from the floor is actually thinner than the 3" height of the tiles.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy July 4th Photos!

Vivian in her festive finery. The weather began great here and continued to improve - clear, sunny, and seventy.