How To Blow A Toddler’s Mind


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As you may recall from my previous blog post, our house was trying to kill us. We found out when we were kicking off our house remodel. Asbestos, lead in the windows, twins murdered in room 237 and haunting us… you know, typical new house issues.


Before. You can see our two -year-old Sebby’s artwork on the wall.


During. The offending death laminate with death glue, death nails and death pattern trying to murder death kill us.


Minus death tile. And death cabinets, walls, sink, floors, appliances and weight-bearing support beamsWAIT WHAT.

Luckily, the whole remodel was worth it. Hardwood floors throughout, new appliances (like an induction stovetop!) and cabinets, and a new, blank canvas for Seb-err, I mean, new paint.

AfterNow I can start my new blog, Cooking With Flavor. And by flavor, I mean tequila. And by cooking with, I mean drinking. And by blog, I mean drunk.

The remodel touched the entire house. For a week, we packed up everything and left the house while the floors were refinished and stained. We didn’t unpack most things until about a week ago. Which brings us to blowing Sebby’s little toddler mind.

So we are smrt parents. When our kids find that one stuffed animal, toy or blanket that is theirs, we buy a second one. This one we secret away for emergencies. You know, that special blanket getting left at a rest stop two states ago during a road trip. That cherished car getting melted in the fireplace. That stuffed bear which got decapitated in a freak lawnmower incident. Any number of catastrophes can befall that special something every child chooses, so we, as smrt parents, bought a back-up to avert those catastrophes.

Sebby’s item of choice is a gray stuffed bunny, creatively named “BUNNY!” (Yes, it is always screamed with a big smile.) So we have an extra bunny hidden away, just in case.

Well, both bunnies were packed during the remodel. And somehow, during the remodel chaos, both bunnies got unpacked, and both bunnies ended up in the nursery.

One night I’m putting Sebby to bed and preparing to read him and his sister The Book With No Pictures. Sebby screams “BUNNY!” and clutches the furry little guy to his chest.

Then he sees another bunny on the floor.

He does a toddler double take. “Bunny?” He stares at the bunny in his hands, then looks at the identical bunny on the floor. “Bunny?” Then back to the one in his hands. Then back to the one on the floor.

Then he goes apeshit.

“TWO BUNNIES!” He screams, loud enough to wake up the neighborhood, and grabs the second bunny. He holds one in each fist, their bodies dangling by the necks, as he parades around the room triumphantly. “I have TWO BUNNIES!” He yells again, in case somebody in Spanaway didn’t hear him the first time, and holds both in a death grip to his tiny thundering heart.

Well, now you can see why we’re smrt. Somehow we have to get the second bunny away from him without him noticing. Or break down and buy two more bunnies, in case he loses one or both of the ones he’s claimed. And chances are, at some point that rascally little toddler will find the two spares we just got, suddenly have four, and we’ll have our first lesson in exponentials.

At least we’re starting him on maths early. Or on biology. Rabbits do, after all, breed like… well, rabbits.

A Remodel Ain’t A Remodel Without Pestilence


You may remember from a previous blog that our house is trying to kill us. We found this out before our remodel. Now, the offending vinyl (shown below… two flavors!) has been removed and we’re down to the sub-floor. The cabinets have been demolished and our kitchen now looks like the photo at the top of the article.

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Who needs new floors with classy 60s asbestos death vinyl like this?

So we are now kitchenless. And furniture-less. We pulled up all the carpet and molding to get to the hardwoods underneath and will be painting while the furniture is in the garage. There are nails, staples, tack strips and dust on every surface except in the bedrooms and bathrooms. Hence the dining on PB&J using boxes in the garage as a table. Today the electricians and plumbers are doing further destruction in the name of making the house less of a forbidden zone. Oh, did I mention the guest bathroom toilet has been plugged for the past few weeks? Good times.


It’s like camping! In our own garage! Eating on a box!

However, Life decided living in a gutted house wasn’t quite enough of a challenge. During the asbestos removal, the abatement company cut a hot water pipe and we had no hot water for a couple days. Keep in mind everything was dusty during demolition, with now no ability to shower. Then on Thursday, my two year old Sebby came down with pink eye. This quickly moved to a chest cold, which he proceeded to spread to his sister and mother. Then, to top it all off, I had an MS flare up kick in Thursday night. This means that, for a brief period of time, my MS symptoms are cranked up to 11. I could barely get out of bed Friday morning.

So in addition to a house with no furniture, no kitchen, no hot water and no laundry room, four of the five family members were put out of commission due to illness. Remodeling FTW.

The silver lining is that treatment for an MS flare up is a three-day course of steroid infusions. Which means that 1) I feel much better than normal afterward, and 2) I don’t sleep for three days. Saturday night I used our shop vac to clean up the insulation, paint chips and nails in the kitchen and laundry/utility rooms. Last night I swept the living room, dining room and hallway starting at ten, and still had energy to pick up molding and watch the Game of Thrones premiere. So I guess having a day of MS suck was probably worth it in the end, after all.

In the 60s they built houses out of things that kill you


My wife and I are in the midst of remodeling the house we bought a year ago. The kitchen needs updating, the playroom needs more adult focus for its “play” theme (think bar, TV, wine fridge and possibly a mini Thunderdome), and the carpet needs to be pulled up to so we can refinish the hardwoods underneath that someone thought were a good idea to cover. This is potentially our forever home, and we want to make sure it has all the amenities we want to live with for the next few decades.

However, once we started the remodel process, we learned that our house, like most houses built in the 60s, is a death trap.

The layers of laminate under the carpet – an archaeological dig of our house’s historic record – is lined with pure cancer (err, asbestos). Our wiring features the valuable “burn your house down if your load is too high” early-warning system. The pipes are not so much pipes as pipe-shaped tubes of rust. Some of the windows are potentially lead-lined, presumably because of Superman. Everyone knows Supes was a peeping Tom before Crisis on Infinite Earths retconned that character flaw in 1985.


Yes, sir, building on an Indian burial ground is standard for your modern 1960s home. We funnel supernatural energy through your certified radioactive waste foundation to cut your heating bills in half!

We’ve learned valuable things with this remodel. Between the two of us we’ve bought five houses over the years, and uncovering unforeseen problems like this is pretty standard. Any remodel should have at least 25% added to the cost estimate, filed under “Fixing stuff your house is trying to murder your family with.” And despite all the short-term pain, our house will be better on the other side.

Superman just better keep his distance. The creep.