Parenting Guilt

Dear Parenting Guilt,

You are not useful. You do not help me become a better parent. You do not teach me, or help me. You do not inspire or motivate me. I am not a better parent because of you. Please go away.

You make me feel like I don’t spend enough time with my daughter. Or that I’m not feeding her enough. Or that I’m feeding her too much formula and not enough mush. Or that I don’t give her enough baths. Or that I swaddled too long – or not long enough. Or that I let her sleep in our bed too long – or not long enough. Or that the “cry it out” thing I’m trying right now is mean and cruel. Or that I’m not teaching her to walk/crawl/dance fast enough. You get the idea. Knock it off.

But mostly, I hate the way you try to make me feel like I’m “doing it wrong” because I wake up every day and go to work instead of staying home to play with my daughter.

Because I’m on to your game. I know how you work. I know that no matter what I do, or what parenting choices I make, you’ll always try to make me feel guilty. There’s no pleasing you and your perfectionist tendencies. No matter what, you’ll always try to make me feel like I’m not good enough, strong enough, loving enough, or smart enough.

I don’t want anything to do with you. Please get a life.

That is all. Thank you.


P.S. Stay the hell away from my wife. She is an excellent mother, and I’ll be damned if I let you make her think any different.

Old Vents vs. New Vents

When we first moved into our house back in late October, one of the first things we did was to give everything a new coat of paint. To do this, we removed all the old HVAC vent registers. The old vents we pulled off the walls were packed with dirt & grime – I’m pretty sure no are at all was getting through a few of them.

Initially, we were so grossed out by the old vents that they went straight into garbage bags, and we just planned on buying new ones. We’ve had gaping holes in our walls ever since.

Empty vents without covers.

Well we did buy new ones from out big box store. But as it turns out, they are just a little bit underwhelming. Compared to the heftiness of the old ones, the new ones just feel cheap and flimsy. Plus, they are slightly different dimensions, so installing them will be a chore (we’d have to cut into the original wood baseboards in some places, and I’d rather not have to do that).

So all of a sudden, figuring out a way to clean up the old vents is suddenly sounding a lot more attractive. That will be a lot of work, too. They’ve been painted a few times, and I’m sure trying to scrape all the paint off of each one of those little fins could drive a person batty.

Old Vents? or New Vents?

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about soaking door hinges and such in a crock pot, and then the paint comes off pretty easily. I think these vents, though, are too big to fit in a crock pot. How could I get the same effect? Could I find a big pan and bake them in the oven for a few hours to get the same effect? Or should I just submerge them in a five-gallon bucket full of paint thinner for a while?

What do you think? Old vents or new vents? If you like the old ones, what’s the best way to go about stripping the many layers of paint off all those tiny fins?

Living room layout- tweaks

So after I showed you all what I was working with for living room layouts I got some good feedback – none of the layouts were quite right as drawn, plus I found a fun new toy on the internet to play with. That means I have even MORE options now!

I signed up for an account with Autodesk Homestlyer. It’s free and super easy to start using. You can even use your Google/Facebook/whatever account or sign up for a new one.  No need for any autocad experience to get some pretty cool visualizations of what your room could be. I really like that you can toggle into a 3D view to get a better feel of the room. Plus you can save your designs, take snapshots of them, and even share them… you know, if you’re into that sort of thing. The only downside I can see so far is that there is a somewhat limited selection of furniture, so you sort of have to make due with what they have, but I think they have enough options that you can get close to what you have in mind. Oh- also- it wouldn’t let me drop the tv on top of the fireplace, so it looks like I’m planning on putting the tv IN the fireplace,  but you get the idea, right? They have layout options for other rooms in the house, so I’m sure I’ll be playing around with this as I move on to other rooms!

So here are some options:

Layout 1:


Layout 2:


Layout 3:


Layout 4:


What do you think? Am I getting closer? Which of these options do you like best? Any other cool design/layout tools I should be playing with?


Sacrifice a waste

Regular readers will recall that I am trying to collect all entries from PostSecret that explicitly reference Mormonism. You can see all the secrets I’ve collected here.

Sometimes I feel as if all this sacrifice was nothing but a waste.. maybe it's the church I attend, or maybe it's the world i live in... but all i can think is wow....... Jesus must be Pissed!!

I’m not sure if this totally meets the requirements of explicitly referencing Mormonism, but there are a few clues that this secret is referencing Mormonism. The big giveaway, of course, is that the background text on the right half of the postcard is from “Lesson 22: The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Primary 3: Choose the Right B, (1994),103.

The image is pretty Mormon as well. I don’t know if it’s an exclusively Mormon image (probably one of y’all can tell me). Many Christian faiths appreciate the Garden of Gethsemane scene, but Mormons tend to depict it more (artists of other faiths tend to depict the cross scene more than Mormons).

As for the secret itself, it doesn’t really resonate with me. I can appreciate the idea of pondering how deity feels about our actions, but I admit that I don’t totally understand what the author meant by “maybe it’s the church I attend (assuming s/he was referring to the LDS church).

What do you think?

TISH Certificate of Completion

Huzzah! Our inspector determined that we met the demands of the TISH inspections and gave us the approval we needed. There was a little messing around required trying to get the City of Minneapolis to communicate with the State electrical inspections folks, but once we worked through that, I received the following in my email inbox:

TISH Certificate of Completion

As frustrating as it is to deal with all the red tape from the City sometimes, I generally find all the City employees I speak with to be very helpful and quick to respond to my emails and phone calls.

Well, now that we’ve got the City off our backs, what should we do next? Install a hot tub on the roof?

New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions? I don’t have any. Nothing firm anyway. I certainly don’t have a specific list of things to accomplish.

But there is one thing I want to work on throughout the next year. I want to wake up earlier. That’s it. Nothing specific, just earlier.

Why do I want to wake up earlier?

I want to be more productive, generally, and I think getting up earlier will accomplish that for me. I’m terrible at getting out of bed in the morning. I’m snoozing five or six times, getting to work later than I’d like to. I’m staying up late, but still never finding time to do some things I’d like to.

What, specifically, will I do if I wake up earlier?

Any number of things. Maybe I’ll eat breakfast (something more than string cheese – not that there’s anything wrong with string cheese, YUM!). Maybe I’ll go for a jog. Maybe i’ll pal around with KP for a while if she’s up. Maybe I’ll write a blog post. Maybe I’ll just surf the interwebs. Maybe I’ll hang some curtain rods. Maybe I’ll go to work earlier. Maybe I’ll watch the morning news. Maybe I’ll do the dishes.


I’ve made a number of new years resolutions throughout the years, most of which I’ve failed at. This time, I’m not setting a specific goal. I’m not hoping to get up at any specific time to accomplish any particular tasks. I just generally want to become more productive, and I think waking up earlier will help me do that.

Wish me luck.  I’ll need it.

Oh, and just for some relative comparison – what time are y’all getting out of bed these days?

Install a Secure Sump Pump Cover

Our TISH re-inspection is tomorrow morning, so we had to finish up our last repair item from the list. Remember this item?

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.

I don’t have much experience with sump pumps, so I had no idea how the covers are typically attached. I tried googling it, but didn’t find too much. I really wasn’t sure how to approach this one.

So I sent an email to the inspector who will be doing the inspection tomorrow and asked him what he would be looking for. He said it didn’t need to be anything intense, that a few screws through the lid to hold it in place will be good enough.

“Sweet!” I thought. “This will be easy.” And I set off to get the job done.  The sump pump is located in a corner of the basement, somewhere behind all this crap:

The Sump Pump is hidden back there somewhere.

After spending a few minutes moving all the junk out of the way, here’s what the sump basket looked like. Clearly, the cover isn’t attached. It’s just kind of flopping around there. It’s can’t go anywhere, since the permanently installed pvc pipe goes right through the middle of it, but it’s still not securely attached. I’m not sure why this is a big deal – maybe something about babies falling in or something? I dunno. At this point, I’m not asking questions – I just need an inspectors signature on the line tomorrow.

The cover is not securely attached.

A little aside about sump baskets, since some of the readers might not know what they are or why some houses have them. They’re installed in houses with high groundwater. The sump basket sits flush with the basement floor, and the bottom of the basket extends about 3 feet beneath the basement floor, and it has a bunch of holes in it. The idea is that if the groundwater gets higher than the bottom of the basket (i.e. less than 3 feet below the basement floor), the basket will fill up with water before any water gets in the basement. As the basket fills, the sump pump pumps the water up the pipe and out the side of the house. If the pump can keep up with the rising groundwater, hopefully your basement stays dry. Here’s a look inside our sump basket, and you can see the pump.

Inside the Sump Basket.

It seems to me that the city code should more concerned by the fact that there isn’t an electric outlet anywhere within a 30′ radius of the pump (and the pump cord is only 5′ long…) than the cover not being secured, but whatever… I’ll tackle that project another day.

To fix it, I just used three deck screws through the lid into the basket. It should have taken 5 minutes, but on one of the holes the screw was hitting a chunk of concrete from the poorly poured floor, so I had to make a trip to the hardware store for a masonry drill bit. After that, though, it was a snap.

See the three deck screws around the edge?

Ok, well our TISH inspection is Monday morning. We think we’ve got everything crossed off the list.

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.
2. Smoke Detectors/CO Detectors – Improperly located smoke detector in the basement.
3. Electrical Service Installation – Missing house side grounding clamp at water meter.
4. Water Supply Piping – Corrosion noted on water piping in areas.
5. Plumbing Fixtures – No backflow device installed at laundry tub.
6. Plumbing Fixtures – Improper air gap on toilet ballcock.
7. Exterior Pluming Backflow Prevention – missing backflow preventers on exterior faucets.
8. Electric Service Installation – Electric panel located in bathroom.
9. Electrical Outlets/Fixtures – Power mast is loose.

Wish us luck. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you read any headlines that say “Homeowner Strangles Inspector, Blames Sump Pump” you know it was probably me.

Ice Skating with a Baby

(please click through to site for full effect)

Ever wondered how to be totally badass and still enjoy the winter after having a baby? Here are some options:

One option is to just lay the kid down in a generic orange sled and pull her behind you while you ice skate around a lake.

Ice Skating with a Baby

It works pretty well, although the kid’s not strapped in or anything, so be careful going around curves or she’ll roll out. This worked pretty well.  My kid fell asleep instantly.

“Uh, honey.. She’s not moving anymore. Will you make sure she’s sleeping and not frozen?”

Just lay the kid down on the sled or something.

If there are multiple babies involved, you may have better luck leaving the skates at home and just walking on ice. See if you can scare up one of these deals with wheels:

Walking on Ice with Baby Chariot

Trust me, this will put them to sleep, too. Plus, the little flap probably helps keep them out of the wind. And they’re buckled in, so feel free to leave the ice for a little bumpier terrain. Be careful with this, though, because the chariot is a little bit heavier. If it falls through the ice with babies inside, it will probably pull you in with it.

Totally buckled in safely, and falling asleep.

Ok. That’s everything you need to know. Have a great winter!

Relocating Smoke Detectors

Time for another TISH update. Our re-inspection is in 4 days, so it’s about time to take care of this stuff. You might remember this item from our list:

2. Smoke Detectors/CO Detectors – Improperly located smoke detector in the basement.

So it’s not a problem of having enough smoke detectors, they just didn’t like where the one in the basement was located. Take a look:

Smoke detector is a little too close to the ceiling...

Here’s the smoke detector and CO detector in the basement (along with two abandoned mounting brackets from previous generations of smoke detectors…). The problem here is that it’s mounted on the wall only about 3 inches from the ceiling. This is a problem since apparently when smoke is flowing around in a room, it never really flows up into those corners very well. I guess the house could be filled with smoke and the thing would never go off. So it was an easy enough fix, I just pulled it off the wall and screwed it back in about a foot lower. I also moved the CO detector just to be on the safe side, even though I’m pretty sure it wasn’t necessary:

Relocated smoke detector.

I went ahead and took down the abandoned mounting rings, too, just to clean things up a bit. I didn’t give two licks about patching any of the old holes left behind. It’s not worth it with this awful wood paneling and terrible drop panel ceiling. The basement is gonna be ugly with or without holes.

While I was at it, I also re-installed all the old smoke detectors in all the bedrooms and hallways upstairs that we had removed while painting. They had been sitting in their own little smoke detector graveyard upstairs as well.

Smoke Detector Graveyard

Newly installed smoke and CO detectors.

Ok, well that takes care of 8 of the 9 TISH items. We’re still not totally sure what we’re gonna do about that sump pump cover, but we still have 4 days to figure it out, so hopefully we’ll think of something, right?

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.
2. Smoke Detectors/CO Detectors – Improperly located smoke detector in the basement.
3. Electrical Service Installation – Missing house side grounding clamp at water meter.
4. Water Supply Piping – Corrosion noted on water piping in areas.
5. Plumbing Fixtures – No backflow device installed at laundry tub.
6. Plumbing Fixtures – Improper air gap on toilet ballcock.
7. Exterior Pluming Backflow Prevention – missing backflow preventers on exterior faucets.
8. Electric Service Installation – Electric panel located in bathroom.
9. Electrical Outlets/Fixtures – Power mast is loose.

Living Room Layout

Now that we’ve been in the house for a couple of months, survived the holidays, painted to rid ourselves of the residual stink left from the previous owners and checked nearly everything off our TISH repairs list, we are starting to think a little more about furniture/decorating/ lay-out. At least I am… Reuben is probably thinking about smaller details like replacing old pipes and re-wiring the entire electrical system….

We haven’t bought much of our furniture. Other than our mattress, and an Ikea dresser and shelves everything else we have is hand-me-downs, gifts, salvaged from a dumpster, or home-made. Not that we’re complaining! We’re slightly proud of it, and wouldn’t mind furnishing most of our house out of a dumpster. However…our couch- which was an awesome upgrade from our previous dumpster couch and in really good condition when we were given it- has had some, let’s say “issues” lately. The structure of the couch has been “upgraded” after the hide-a-bed literally fell out of the bottom. The couch fell into pieces, but we screwed it back together. I was actually promised a new couch a year ago, but then we decided to move and it made sense to wait until we were settled in a new place before investing in new furniture.

This is what you see if you remove one of the seat cushions.

Over Thanksgiving we were pretty hyped about buying a new couch, but after about 15 minutes in a super-sized furniture store we realized we were in over our heads.  Style? Fabric? Size? Who knew you could customize all these things? With a baby whose bucket list includes throwing up on every surface in the house- do we really want to invest in new furniture? Should we focus on the bounty that is offered on Craigslist? To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement. We decided to slow down a bit and take some time to decide what we really want. First things first- what kind of layout would work best in our room?

The living room is pretty big and right now it feels a bit sparse. Maybe someday we’ll change it to a more formal living room and put the TV in a family room in the basement, but for now this room will be where we keep our TV It has a fireplace on the center of one wall and a large archway offset on the opposite wall, so already the centering of the room is a bit off.—i.e., if you place a couch directly in front of the fireplace, it will be blocking the archway.

I started thinking about the layout and made this awesome model to play around. Pretty sophisticated, huh?

You get the idea, right?

Then I found this slightly more elegant free room design software online (this one is from a La-Z-Boy company, I’m sure there are tons, this just popped up first and fit my needs). So after playing around a bit, I’m no closer to knowing what we want, but maybe some of you will have an opinion?

Layout 1: TV on the fireplace mantel? Chair in the middle of the room?

Layout 2: Are we sectional people?

Layout 3: TV in front of the window? 2 chairs and one couch?

Layout 4: Is it weird if the couch is not against the wall?

What do you think? Any of them keepers or should I keep at it? Am I missing something obvious?

The main ideas we’re toying with are:

  • Sectional/one couch/one couch and one love seat?
  • TV on the fireplace mantel or on a table in front of the window?
  • What goes on the other wall? Bookshelves? Entry table? Storage hutch?

Anyone out there have a similar space? What were your layout solutions?
I’d love to hear your advice!