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One room down +  

Just about one year after closing on our 260 year old saltbox fixer-upper in Salem, we have one room finished. You heard that right. One room. While that may not sound like a lot of progress to you, we've done a whole lot of other stuff to every other room in the house, and oh, we had a baby. The little guy has the honor of being the recipient of the first finished room. Please note that this does not include rebuilding a tiny dormer window at the back of his room which is currently covered with rigid foam insulation. We decided to shelve that project until it's warm enough to have a gaping hole in the house for a day or so, and I don't have to worry about anyone sliding off of the roof. Though I suppose the fall would be a bit shorter with all of this snow. A few things to share about this project. The walls and floors were in terrible shape. The plaster on the walls was crumbling in many places and patched poorly in many others. There was a path worn into the floorboards where a former resident must have walked back and forth and back and forth and well, you get the picture. The boards were worn down to about a millimeter or so in thickness, so up they came. We decided that since this room was for Benjamin, we would take the safe route and cover the plaster walls with drywall. Not perhaps visually correct for the house, but clean and safe. We also replaced the floorboards with a combination of 8", 10" and 12" pine boards in random combination. This was in keeping with the floor boards that were removed, though some of the original boards were of wider widths. Kevin created a floor board randomizing program so that we could see what various combinations of floorboards would look like before we actually put them in place. My sweetheart is so clever! We were also gifted with some antique cut nails that we laboriously nailed in place (Thanks to Harry for the nails and the consult on the floor). Hard work that! There are very few level surfaces or even corners in our house, and this room was certainly not an exception. The floor was bowed enough that we ended up laying down the floorboards in two separate sections to compensate. Kevin then chiseled out a groove where they met at the peak of the bow and laid in a small strip of wood he had fashioned to mask the join. More cleverness! We have learned to double our estimated time to complete any project in the house thanks to little challenges like this. We used a product called Waterlox to seal the floor. It's a tung oil with resin that leaves a hand-rubbed looking surface that is both attractive and durable. The floors have really mellowed into a lovely honey color. Kevin removed the hung ceiling to expose the beams. This gave us more headroom as well as a more historically accurate look. The paint is C2 low-voc in America's Cup for the trim and ceiling and Cafe Latte for the walls. We got this in town from Waters & Brown here in Salem, the same place we got the Waterlox, and the folks there are so helpful. One thing we love about the C2 paint is that they have 18" x 24" paint chips that are two layers of actual paint in an eggshell finish. It's a great way to test out a color without having to paint samples on the walls. I really liked that we could move the chips around to see how the light affected the color at various times of the day. I am also a huge fan of this paint. We decorated the walls with removable decals from Blik wall decals. The giraffe seems to be the animal of choice for Benjamin, so we went with a safari theme. They were super easy to apply, remove and reposition, and so far they seem to be sticking well. The curtain I whipped up from fabric we purchased at Ikea. Also, loving the Tubtrugs for colorful storage. We get ours at Two Girls Shop in Salem. We opted for a color palette that was probably a bit atypical of what you might expect in a baby's room, so the Tubtrugs add some fun color (as do the toys). So for your viewing pleasure, please enjoy our first before and after slideshow.

Guess who is six months old today! +  

Six months and counting!

Growing Hair! 1  

Benjamin's hair has decided to grow a bit more quickly. We're not at the stage where it needs some sort of grooming each day, nor do I anticipate a trip to visit the barber anytime soon, but at the very least his head must be feeling warmer. His current favorite games include, grabbing his toes, blowing spitty raspberries, and putting most everything he can reach into his mouth. Oh, and he smiles when he toots.

Snow-o-o-y 1  

We survived blizzard #2 of the 2010 - 2011 winter season, and it's only mid-January. We're running out of places to shovel the darn stuff! During blizzard #1, we ran around the house filling little cracks that were letting the wind in, so it was downright cozy this time around. I can't imagine how the people who first owned this house 260 years back managed to make it through the winter. Must have been mighty grumpy a few months out of the year. Makes me grateful for indoor plumbing and a constant supply of heat.

We were hoping to take Benjamin out for a ride in his super fabulous handmade by Grampa sled today, but the windchill was at 16F, so a quick walk around the block for some fresh air was all we managed. Maybe this weekend...

Five months old 1  

I can hardly believe that five months could pass so quickly, but yes, our little guy has hit the five month mark. I thought a little review of how much he has changed would be fun. I am already feeling nostalgic, but at the moment he's taking a nap, at his somewhat normal nap time, and it should last for at least an hour which means I can get this posted and maybe even accomplish something else. Yay hooray!

Benjamin swings +  

Benjamin enjoyed his first ride in a swing today at Forest River Park. It was a lovely day, considering it's December and winter is almost here. More photos soon... we promise.

Cousins and New Tricks +  

Benjamin and his cousin Abraham met each other for the first time this past weekend. It was a rollicking good time, even if the weather was a bit on the yucky side. There were lots of Eskimo kisses exchanged, and we can't wait until Benjamin is able to run around after Abraham. We'll probably all be exhausted, but darn will it be fun.

Benjamin is grabbing and chewing lots of things including his fists, a crinkly yellow square and Sophie la Giraffe. He loves sitting up, assisted, and when you put him on his tummy, he tries very hard to get his knees up and under his belly. No luck yet, but he seems rather determined. He is growing out of clothes left and right, and it seems that we retire something(s) on a weekly basis. Thank goodness for the hand-me-downs from his cousin Abraham. And Grampa L and Grammie P seem rather determined to make him the dapper-ist guy on the block. Handsome and well-dressed at three months. My goodness.

Benjamin loves smiling and laughing, which makes our day, every day, and he is making all sorts of sounds - oohs, ahhs, coos and caws. When he wants something, our little Leo makes a very determined noise that sounds something like "YAH!", repeating as necessary with greater intensity until he gets the response he's looking for. Video evidence to be posted soon.

Halloween in Salem is all that and a bag of chips +  

Wow is all I can say. Wow. We had so much fun on Halloween. Our street is not only the coolest place to live, but it's also the coolest place to trick or treat. There are giant pumpkins, fortune tellers, movies projected on houses, smoke machines, sound effects and a whole lotta candy. We gave out 232 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers, and I was impressed at how many kids were well mannered enough to only take one, especially given that both are pretty darn tasty. Just a few with sticky fingers. They thought they were sly too, which was the funniest part.

Benjamin's gal pal Viv stopped by to show off her bee costume. So cute! It was a chilly day, so Benjamin only wore his costume long enough to get a few photos by the giant pumpkins down the street. After that he went straight into the down snowsuit and was a whole heck of a lot warmer than we were.

From 5:00 until about 7:30 the traffic was pretty much non-stop. After that, I think a lot of the kids started to loose steam because it was so cold. We already have the start of an excellent plan to decorate next year. The countdown is on!

Oh, and there are a couple of gratuitous BFH photos in his cozy knit romper (not shown: the matching hat). He's getting so big these days! He's very vocal, and we're starting to understand that certain sounds mean certain things. While he is generally a super mellow guy, when he wants to be heard, he wants to be heard. His favorite game these days is making Mommy and Daddy help him sit up. He can't do it on his own yet, but he loves to try.

Uncle Jeff, Auntie Sarah and Cousin Abraham are coming to visit soon, and we can't wait to get the cousins together. I can only imagine the chaos when Benjamin is able to run around after Abe. My goodness!

Halloween is almost here +  

Benjamin is so excited for Halloween. Last weekend he attended his first pumpkin carving party, and last night he went to his first bonfire. He has been enjoying pumpkin whoopie pie au lait all week, and even slept for seven hours straight two nights ago so that he could build up a bit of extra energy for tomorrow's street party. To say that Salem celebrates Halloween is a bit of an understatement. We are expecting 200+ trick or treaters! Apparently we need to be prepared to turn out the lights when the candy runs out. Our street is closed to traffic for the evening, and everyone plans to be out and about. Hopefully we'll be able to snap some excellent photos of the hoo-rah, and of course Benjamin in his costume.

Tuckered out +  

Benjamin and I took a walk downtown and then over to the library today. It was a bit on the cool side, so we bundled him up. He was out cold when we got home, and I couldn't bring myself to unbundle him without capturing the moment.

Things are really starting to get festive here in sunny Salem. Only 19 days until Halloween! Benjamin's costume is almost ready, and we've been decorating the house. Neighbors have told us to expect 200+ trick-or-treaters. Momma's just a little bit disgruntled over the fact that we're likely to expect most over our visitors during the Pats game. Nothing that a few Reese's peanut butter cups can't cure.