Garbage man

Garbage man Spencer
Garbage man Spencer
Lika and Spencer on her last day. We'll miss you!
Lika and Spencer on her last day. We'll miss you!
Our nanny Lika is going back to Georgia. We are going to miss her very much. She started working for us last fall while I was teaching at the University of Colorado. Most recently she had been coming to watch Spencer so I could get work done on our bathroom remodel. Now I will be hiring temporary babysitters a couple times a week to fill that gap. I’m sure none of them will be as good as Lika. She took Spencer for long walks, was really great at playing with him, cleaned up around the house, and on her last day, she baked us some tasty Georgian cheesy pastries. She also fit in with our philosophy of letting Spencer play with most anything that isn’t too fragile or dangerous. On Thursday at some point Spencer decided to climb in to a trash can. What an adventurous guy! Spencer doesn’t really show his enthusiasm for Lika in the picture with her, but trust me, he was normally extremely happy with her.

Good luck with life in Georgia Lika. May our paths cross again.

Bathroom remodel – demolition and plumbing

Old vanity with man-made counter top

Old vanity with man-made counter top

Old acrylic tub

Old acrylic tub

Working on removing the tub surround

Working on removing the tub surround

Tub surround totally out

Tub surround totally out

Old lights and medicine cabinet

Old lights and medicine cabinet

Tub surround partially out

Tub surround partially out

Messy work area

Messy work area

Tub surround out

Tub surround out

Sink supply lines seem a bit corroded, but I think they should be ok

Sink supply lines seem a bit corroded, but I think they should be ok

Leftover linoleum tile underneath the cement board

Leftover linoleum tile underneath the cement board

water damaged plywood

water damaged plywood

ready for new tub

ready for new tub

Plumbing done and subfloor repaired

Plumbing done and subfloor repaired

water damage in plywood near the tub

water damage in plywood near the tub

New Delta universal rough fixture

New Delta universal rough fixture

Going to reuse the old tub drain assembly

Going to reuse the old tub drain assembly

Close-up of Delta universal rough fixture

Close-up of Delta universal rough fixture

Complete plumbing picture

Complete plumbing picture

I finally started remodeling our main bathroom several weeks ago. The first stage was demolition. Unfortunately, I forgot to take many before pictures, but that is life. I started off by removing the toilet. I got as much water out of it as possible through flushing, bucket, and towel. I took off the tank, and it is now downstairs. We like the toilet, so we will reuse it.

The next step was to remove the vanity, which was pretty straight forward. I took out the screws securing it to the wall, and disconnected the plumbing. There was one or two screws which were completely stripped, which I ended up cutting with my saws-all. Clare was kind enough to help me carry the vanity downstairs as well. I’m thinking of making it into a play bathroom for Spencer, since he really loves opening drawers and cabinets. So it is now filled with harmless everyday objects like cookie tins and egg cartons. I thought of filling it with toys, but it frequently seems that Spencer wants to play with “adult” stuff, not toys.

Once the vanity and toilet were removed, I was able to get most of the floor tile off. I pounded on the tile with an engineer’s hammer to break up the tiles. They came off fairly easy – much more easily than the floor tiles in the Spencer bathroom. It seems like there was not really much mortar on the tiles, so they probably weren’t installed very well.

I used a hammer and chisel and a pry bar to get off the tile around the tub surround. That was quite a bit of work, but it wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t exactly sure how it was attached. It turns out that it is attached to the walls with screws. I used an engineer hammer to get the tiles out, which worked really well. The added weight (compared to a claw hammer) really makes it more powerful. Once I got all the tiles off and removed the screws, I simply yanked on the surround to get it unstuck. I then did the same for the tub, and Clare helped me carry the tub out. It is currently in our yard. Last year our city had a throw away big stuff for free day. I’m hoping they do that again this year.

Once the tub was out, I could start removing the cement board. I considered trying to reuse it, but I didn’t think I would be able to get all the old mortar off it. I used the hammer and pry bar to get it up, and then had to remove the screws holding it down. It did not have any mortar between the cement board and the plywood, as I have been told to do. This is more evidence of shoddy construction, but it did make it easier to remove. Once I got the cement board up, I discovered some old linoleum tile underneath it. I worked a fair amount to get more of the tile off. I got all of the top layer off everywhere, but did end up leaving a bit of the adhesive layer in some parts.

After getting the cement board up and the tub out, I realized that part of the subfloor was rotten. This was not too much of a surprise, since we had noticed some leaks when we moved in. I had bought some extra plywood just in case this might happen. As it turns out, there was only a fairly small section which was rotten, and I was able to use a scrap piece of plywood to fix it. I cut a piece large enough so that I could screw it into three floor joists, to make sure it was plenty secure. The floor joists themselves seem to be in good condition.

The next step was to install the new fixture for the bath. We ended up going with a Delta Lewison. I really like how some of the Delta faucets have separate temperature and volume controls. We also had pretty good experience with Delta back in Indiana. I thought that the plumbing wouldn’t be too hard, since I already had some experience, but I was wrong. I guess maybe the third time it gets easier. I bought the couplings, elbows and connectors I needed, and decided to try to do some of the sweating before cutting off the old fixture. I think I have learned that this is not really worth it. I learned several more things from this experience:

  1. Solder can get old. The 30+ year old solder I had from the Spencer house did not melt very easily. New solder helped a bunch
  2. Solder both ends of a coupling at the same time. I tried soldering just one end, and some extra solder dripped down the coupling, make the other end unusable
  3. Dry fit first before applying any solder paste. I accidentally used one 7″ piece and one 6″ piece of pipe, when I had been intending to use two 7″ pieces
  4. Tighten any threaded joints with two wrenches. I initially used only one wrench, holding on to the mixing valve with the other hand. It ended up leaking, and I had to redo the whole thing

It took a bit longer than expected, but I did finally get the plumbing all done. I raised the level of the shower head by about 6″, so that it should be a bit nicer for tall people to shower.

The next step is to get the tub in and the floor tile.

Moab

Dave, Clare, and Ellen at Broken Arch
Dave, Clare, and Ellen at Broken Arch
Dave and Clare give Spencer a hand
Dave and Clare give Spencer a hand
Rob and Spencer by the window arches
Rob and Spencer by the window arches
Last weekend we went to Arches National Park. Dave and Ellen bought an RV recently, so they drove up from Phoenix in the RV and we met them there. Although Spencer wasn’t crazy about the 6 hour car ride, he was generally pretty good, and he really enjoyed the park. One momentous thing happened on the way there. As we got into Utah, Spencer kept getting fussier and fussier, so we stopped at a rest area to let Spencer walk around for a bit. It looked like he was pooping, so Clare took him into the bathroom. After she had his diaper off, she realized he hadn’t pooped yet, so she held him over the toilet, and he pooped in the potty! We are still in awe of the little guy. Hopefully this bodes well for toilet training.

We arrived at Arches National Park around 3 p.m. (Dave and Ellen got there around noon). We mostly just settled in and relaxed, and walked around a little bit on Saturday. On Sunday we took a couple hikes to see some arches, and finished the day with a campfire and s’mores. Monday morning we took one more hike, then got back on the road. It was a very beautiful and relaxing trip. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of the red rocks and the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The drive to get there from Denver is also really beautiful. We might have to go back someday.
48 more pictures follow

Oral hygiene

Spencer brushing his teeth
Spencer brushing his teeth
Spencer really seems to enjoy brushing his teeth. Right now he mostly just sucks on the toothbrush, but that’s a pretty good start. I think that he partly likes it because we do it together. The only part I dislike is when he tries to brush my teeth with his toothbrush. He is a very sharing boy!

Chickens

Our two chickens
Our two chickens
Clare has been wanting to get chickens for several years now. The itch came back this year, and she spent a bunch of time looking at coop designs and trying to find chicks on craigslist. Last week she found some one on craigslist selling their coop and chickens and all the supplies for a really great price, so she pounced on it, and we now have chickens. They seem pretty happy, and they seem to bring Clare and Spencer lots of happiness, which makes me happy too.

Visit to the Buchheits

Paul, Thomas, Clare, and Spencer
Paul, Thomas, Clare, and Spencer
Camilla is amazed by Spencer's love for cars
Camilla is amazed by Spencer's love for cars
Clare and Spencer in the airport waiting to return home
Clare and Spencer in the airport waiting to return home
After Clare was finished with her conference in San Francisco, we headed down the peninsula to Los Altos to visit our friends the Buchheits. Spencer had a really great time playing with Thomas, who will be two years old in a couple months. Spencer was also intrigued by Camilla, who will soon be five. Camilla and Thomas both have great personalities. Camilla seems to really enjoy sleeping at the moment. She constructs her “bed” every day on the couch, and gets mad if you try to sit there. She is polite about it though, saying “please move. you’re in the way”. Thomas is very much like Spencer, in that he enjoys playing with trucks and creating disorder.

It proved fairly difficult to document any of the time they spent playing together, as they were all moving pretty quickly. I did manage to get in a few photos and one decent video. The cutest part of the video is when Thomas brings Spencer his bottle and offers it to him. It seems that both Thomas and Spencer have a pretty big sharing instinct. They also like to grunt and play with bowls.

Another cute thing happened on our way home. We got to the airport a little early, so we had about 45 minutes to kill in the waiting area. Spencer and I walked around some and inspected the carts (anything with wheels is appealing to Spencer). For the last 30 minutes or so, a couple 9 year old twins sat down by us, and were very intrigued by Spencer. They played with him for most of the remaining time, and were really great. Just another reminder to me that most people in the world are friendly.
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more pictures follow

Henry and Melanie

Spencer climbs out of Henry's crate
Spencer climbs out of Henry's crate
While we were in San Francisco last week, Spencer and I spent quite a bit of time hanging out with our friend Melanie, who conveniently had the week off work. Spencer likes Melanie a lot (and vice-versa); he also was very excited about Melanie’s dog Henry. Melanie has done a great job training Henry (especially considering that she got him as an adult from a shelter). Except for the occasional lick to the face, Henry was really great with Spencer, and Spencer was also pretty gentle with Henry.

Besides liking dogs, Spencer also likes things that open and close, and things to climb or push around. He quickly gravitated to Melanie’s step stool, both climbing it and pushing it around. He also found Henry’s crate quite fascinating, and at some point decided he should climb in and close the door. Seriously, I did not put my son in a dog crate. He climbed in all by himself. Thanks for showing us around the city Melanie. We had a great time!

San Francisco

Rob and Spencer at the bay bridge
Rob and Spencer at the bay bridge
Spencer oohing at the Academy of Science
Spencer oohing at the Academy of Science
Spencer making friends
Spencer making friends
Clare went to the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco last week. Spencer and I tagged along as well. We had a great time. We have a number of friends and family in the bay area, so we had plenty of people to hang out with. We spent quite a bit of time with our friend Melanie, and also saw Curt and Elizabeth, Drew, and Aunt Jean.

On Monday Spencer and I explored the city a bit, including some time at the ferry building, where I let him crawl around and explore. He quickly found some nice dogs to pet, and some other kids as well. Then Melanie met up with us and we walked around the city some, until we met up with Aunt Jean at Yerba Buena Gardens. That was very close to the hotel where we stayed, and was a big hit with Spencer. We ended up going there several times, because he was feeling a little confined being either in the backpack or the hotel room. He managed to charm most people wherever we went.

On Tuesday Aunt Jean took Spencer and I to the Academy of Science for the members only hour. Spencer enjoyed crawling around looking at the various exhibits. He enjoyed the fish very much. We then went to the little kids play room they had, and he had lots of fun there as well. Later that evening Aunt Jean watched Spencer while Clare and I went to dinner with Paul and April.

On Wednesday, Spencer and I went to Muir Woods with Melanie. Spencer ended up sleeping through a good portion of our hike, which was fine. I always find the woods very comforting. The smell is wonderful, and the solitude really makes me feel at ease. Wednesday evening we met Curt and Elizabeth for dinner.

Thursday morning Spencer and I took a cable car ride, then walked around by the Piers a bit more, including a tour down the famous crooked Lombard Street. San Francisco has so many different kinds of public transportation. It is very exciting. Thursday afternoon we left the city to go stay with the Buchheits, which will be the topic of another post.
more pictures follow