Living the Suite Life

So, if you follow my stories on Instagram, you know that we recently went through a huge renovation in our bathroom. Some would call it a “complete gut job.” In fact, that’s exactly what it was. The entire bathroom was gutted – new floors (including new subfloor), new walls, new fixtures, new tile. New everything.

Now, many people do renovations. This is nothing new. But, our house is a one bathroom house. Living without a bathroom was not an option. And, this is during the school year so we couldn’t just travel to the grandparents’ houses and invade for a week or so. (Side note: this was not at all our preferred time of year for a reno….but our rotting/soft subfloor made it necessary to not wait until a later date….).

Our solution? We lived the suite life for a little over two weeks. Yep. We lived in a hotel. So, read on to find out more about our renovation and more about what we learned about doing a renovation with kids….during the school year.


The Renovation – Week 1

It took longer than expected to get the bathroom ready for the renovation, but we cleared out all of the “stuff” from the bathroom on night of Sunday, October 28th. I took this pic before leaving for work on the morning of the 29th.

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Goodbye, bathroom! Demolition began that day while we were at work (and while Ryan was working from home.)

 

 

I was amazed at how quickly demolition happened. Although, it’s hard to see in these pics, we quickly figured out that there were some major issues that would need to be addressed. I felt like I was living an episode of a renovation show on HGTV. Pipes would need to be updated (and installed correctly). Wiring would need to be redone (and installed correctly….and safely). One of the biggest shocks? The possibility that we could’ve actually been shocked – or worse – while taking a shower because there was electrical behind the shower. What?!

Buddy (our cat) was locked in our bedroom with a brand new litter box, her water bowl, and her food. It wasn’t ideal but at least this way she would be safe and away from the construction, if she felt panicked (and I’m sure she did at some point) she would not be able to try to sneak out of the house, and she could stay home.

That night, we moved into our suite in the hotel. The word “suite” makes it sound fancy, but, it was pretty small. We knew we needed two rooms (suite) so that Ryan and I could still be watching tv, working, etc. after we had put the girls to bed.

During this first week in the hotel we had: Halloween, packet-pickup for the Hot Chocolate 5K (Lily’s first 5K), and the 5K.

Some things that we learned during this time:

The most mundane activities can be made fun simply because they are different. Doing laundry at the laundromat? Addy loved it!

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We tried to make the hotel room as home-like as possible. But, of course, that’s not totally possible. It will never feel totally like home. But, when we moved into the hotel, Ryan brought the girls’ trays. At home, we use these trays for homework, coloring books, Legos, snacks, and meals. In the hotel room, they functioned as all of those things and were necessary because we did not have a table in our room.

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Our hotel had a hot breakfast available every morning. We would take advantage of that space during dinner after picking up something from the nearby grocery store. No, we couldn’t really cook anything (we could heat up in the microwave). And there wasn’t much space to store food but it was nice to eat something that felt more like being at home.

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Throughout the renovation, we would try to get home once a day – Ryan would stop by the house every day to see the progress, and to give Buddy some snuggle time with one of her people. The girls and I probably got home every other day.

After the first week in the hotel, we learned the importance of getting out of the room. Ryan would take the girls down to one of the meeting rooms on the bottom floor of the hotel and just let them run around. Very necessary. Very very necessary.

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There is a very fine, fine line between keeping the schedule and routine as normal as possible and acknowledging that nothing is really quite normal and the routine won’t really be routine.


The Renovation – Week 2

During the second week of the renovation, the bathroom started to actually look like the final product. The tile, the tub, the floor – all of that getting installed was such an important step in allowing us to really imagine what our bathroom was going to look like.

However, the bathroom was not ready to use yet. It was beneficial for me, to be able to see the progress and be able to picture in my head how beautiful it was going to be once completed.

During Week 2, it became more and more important to get out of the hotel room whenever possible. None of us were sleeping very well and hadn’t for quite some time. We all missed our own beds, we missed being home, we missed Buddy. (That poor cat was so stressed out with us not being home!)

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So, we would leave to see a movie. We would leave to see Christmas decorations.

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We would leave just to wander around the mall for a bit. It was important to get out, just get out, even if we didn’t really have a reason.


 

The Renovation – Week 3

Luckily, the third week did not last a full week. On Tuesday, we were able to move back home. The bathroom wasn’t completely functional yet (shower and sink weren’t ready) but it had a working toilet!

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The most important part, for me, during these first days of Week 3 was to clean, clean, and clean some more. There was dust, well, everywhere. We all dusted, swept, vacuumed, Swiffered, and did all of that repeatedly. Laundry was done. And more laundry was done.

Finally, on Wednesday, November 14th – the entire renovation was complete!

I can not fully explain in words just how amazing that first shower felt in the new bathroom. I mean…really….words do not exist to fully explain it. But, also the knowledge that this was a safe and clean room in our house that was rebuilt and reinstalled correctly – up to proper standards and safety codes… something that we learned had not been the case when we bought the house…. well, that meant more than anything. There constant mildew and mold in the bathroom? Well, that won’t happen anymore because the venting actually vents! The soft spots in the floor? Well, those are gone and brand new floors (properly installed floors!) took their place.


The Renovation – The Conclusion

Some takeaways…..

  • It was worth it. Definitely worth it.
  • It was stressful. Those days, and the weeks leading up to it, were some of our most stressful. But, we did it.
  • It wasn’t cheap. And seeing those large numbers was a little, well, the numbers made me feel nauseous leading up to the demolition days. But, once it started, I was able to finally really think of these numbers as a true investment. An investment in our house. An investment in our family.
  • Would we do something different about our living arrangement if we were to do it all over again? Honestly, I think that we did the best that we could. It had to happen within the time frame that it did. It would’ve been great to have done it during summer so we could just go on vacation, but, it really was the best option.
  • Would I go through a renovation again? Well, I’m already thinking about a kitchen reno….so there’s that. But, hopefully, it wouldn’t be a situation in which we would be required to do it during a certain time for our own safety. Hopefully, we would be able to leave and stay with family and come back to a new kitchen. lol
  • But, again,  it was worth it. Definitely worth it.

 

Have you done a renovation in your house? What did you do?

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Garden Update

Finally! Spring has arrived! Our daffodils, in the front yard, are blooming and they look beautiful. The tulips have not shown much growth yet and are still pretty short, and definitely not blooming yet, but the bright yellow of the daffodils definitely looks like spring has arrived.

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What is growing in your garden? What plants are you looking forward to seeing soon?

Checklist – Art throughout the house

Now that big girl is older, she is much better at finding her own ways to entertain herself without someone playing with her. One of her favorite things to do is to make pictures, cut paper and tape up her art (or maps – there are a lot of maps) around the house.

So, I am officially going to cross this one off of the summer checklist. (Just a few weeks left of summer! Hopefully, we can get almost everything done…..)

The checklist thus far:

  • Make lemonade.
  • Eat at Big Bowl.
  • Go to Millennium Park.
  • Go to Adler Planetarium.
  • Get space ice cream.
  • Go to zoo.
  • Go to Shedd Aquarium.
  • Go bowling.
  • Make banana pudding.
  • Go to the splash pads downtown.
  • Play at Maggie Daley playground.
  • Go to Field Museum.
  • Go to Art Institute and do a JourneyMaker tour.
  • Go swimming.
  • Go to the Children’s Museum.
  • Play at playground.
  • Have a pajama day (with daddy.)
  • See a movie at the movie theater.
  • See a movie outside.
  • Go to the library.
  • Go to the Family Festival downtown Chicago.
  • Make cookies.
  • Read books at home.
  • Ride the train at the mall.
  • Go to the beach.
  • Have a picnic.
  • Go to American Girl Place.
  • Draw pictures and cut them out.
  • Play with legos.
  • Make muffins.
  • Make pasta salad.
  • Play with toys.
  • Go to a festival.
  • Try to go to a water park.
  • Go to the Disney store downtown Chicago.
  • Eat at Rainforest Cafe.
  • Eat at Labriola Cafe.
  • Bake an apple pie.
  • Play games on the iPad.
  • Play Mario game with daddy.
  • Go to the Morton Arboretum.
  • Go to Mimi and Pa’s house.
  • Go to Granny and Pa’s house.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go to the Museum of Science and Industry.

We’re Finally Grown-ups

Last week, I had one of those moments in which I feel like an actual adult. Because I am married? Because we have kids? Because we have a mortgage?

No.

Because we have nice bedding that actually matches!

It took us a long time for us to get a queen size mattress (I was pregnant with baby girl when we got the mattress). And it took us a long time to get an actual bed frame for that mattress (within the last year – and baby girl is now three……). So, it definitely took a long time for us to get some nice bedding. But this week…this week……we got a bedding set with a bedspread that actually fits across our mattress. And. Decorative pillows!

Finally! A grown-up bed! 🙂

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Decorative pillows!!!!!

Now, the curtains that I love are a bit much with the new bedding….that’s a lot of pattern. But one thing at a time. We might get new curtains……in about ten years.

Cat Owner Level: Expert

When I was younger, I had cat furniture for my cat. It was one of those houses that doubles as a scratching post. Really nice and cozy and functional….until the cat gets fleas. And, there is no way to completely rid those things of fleas because they can’t go in the wash. After that, I stayed away from pet furniture. Scratching posts or things like that were fine because they didn’t have a lot of fabric for fleas or other critters to attach to. But, I figured it was never a necessity because cats love sleeping in boxes, or shoes, or blankets, or laundry so they don’t really need purchased stuff.

That all changed recently. I had some store credit to use and I usually don’t hold onto store credit or gift cards for too long……There wasn’t a lot that I was interested in for myself…..or the girls…..or Ryan……but, I found a cat tent. Yep. A cat tent.

I told myself that it was ok because 1) it was able to go in the laundry if needed and 2) it was the perfect size for the girls to use with their dolls if the cat didn’t take to it.

Behold! The glory of a super content cat hanging out in her new tent!

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Now, would I have purchased this if I didn’t have a store credit that needed to be used in that particular store? Um. No. But, I will go ahead and say that it is a pretty good purchase.

I think that Buddy would agree.

Garden Update – Here Comes Spring!

We had snow this week! Actual snow! And I’m not very happy about it! Now, I am fully aware that we’ve had a very easy winter for the most part. There has been very little snow and the temperatures have been fairly mild. I think that that’s why this week’s snow seems like such a giant leap backward. I thought that we were done with winter. Although, this year, it seems as though we were done with winter in early January……

Anyways……

The front yard is starting to wake up. There is new growth popping up everywhere. We did a lot of work in the front yard last summer. We moved a lot of plants and planted many new ones. I’m excited and anxious to see how all of the new plants do this year.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

This year, I had grand plans for the outdoor decor on the house. I was certain that I was going to have time to calculate the feet of lights needed to outline the front of the house (following the roof line).

Well, that didn’t happen.

However, I am keeping those big plans in mind for next year. There’s always next year, right? 🙂

This year, I did end up adding some lights outside even though nothing is on the house itself.  There is a random pine tree in the front yard that I thought would look nice lit up. I mean, most things look better with Christmas lights so I was fairly certain that it would look nice.

Oh, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree.

Oh, Christmas tree. Oh, Christmas tree.

And, honestly, I love it! It adds an amazing amount of light for just one tree.

And next year is going to be even better!!!