Sunday, May 29, 2016

Guest Bath Counter Conclusion

We've been through some trials and tribulations with our guest bathroom counter, but we've finally got it sorted out.
It started as an old 70s solid surface that was yellowing badly, so Chrissy tried painting it and sealing it with poly-acrylic, which the internet said would work, but didn't. The poly bubbled after water sat on it. It would probably have held up better if we just used polyurethane, but I'm not sure if that would have gotten along with the paint.

When it was clear the painted surface wasn't going to work, we tried sanding it down, but that was miserable and the counter looked like hell, so we finally bit the bullet and decided to replace the counter.
We started by going to Home Depot and pricing out several options there. The numbers were way too high so we stewed a while. We eventually found an installer on Craigslist and had him give us a quote. The price was $1,000. It wasn't cheap, but it was a lot better than any other option.
Before committing, I briefly considered doing everything myself and potentially saving half the cost (I have a diamond blade now, after all), but I don't have the tools or expertise to cut holes or radiuses in the material and polish the edges, so we would need to use overmount sinks. In the end, we decided undermount sinks and not having to deal with it were worth the extra cost.

Here's one more "Before" shot.

Before the installer would even measure, he wanted the old counters removed, so I invited my brother to come help with the destruction. The first step was disconnecting the plumbing so we could pull the old counters, sinks and all.

The back-splashes came out without too much drama, but we did have to be careful not to hurt the mirror.

 The counter came out pretty easily too, but it was heavy.

The installer measured on a Monday, installed our new quartz counters on Thursday, and it looked great. I just needed to install the faucets, which we were reusing from the old counter. 

With the counters removed, uninstalling the old faucets was much easier.

But still not as easy as I would like. I had to buy a set of special low-profile sockets to get the this giant nut off.

Unfortunately, the socket wasn't low-profile enough, so I had to grind down the corners.

 Once everything was off, they went for a soak in some CLR because everything was pretty calcified.

The new sinks didn't have drains, so I also had to remove the old ones for reuse.

I discovered the old drains had way too much plumber's putty on them, which was contributing to our drainage problem.

 When reinstalling them, I used a much more appropriate amount.

Unfortunately, the drains on the new sinks did not align with the old plumbing, so I had to use these flimsy accordion style pipes. I would have liked to use something more substantial, but this was pretty much the only easy option at Home Depot. This also forced us to eliminate the pop-up stoppers, but that isn't a big deal because we weren't using them anyway.

Once the drain was under control, it was back to the faucets. A little more time with CLR cleaned everything up. I also bought a bunch of new washers because the old ones were shot.
The handles were a pain to install, but only because of the awkward position behind the sink.

After a lot of swearing and adjusting a couple leaks, it was finished, and we love the end result.

The best part of the project was smashing the old counter so it would fit in the garbage can.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lazy Susan for Lazy Andy

My parents gave us a cool Lazy Susan made from the top of a wine barrel, so it matched our chandelier nicely. Unfortunately it had a small issue. The slab of wood had a bow in it, so the edges would drag when it was rotated, making it a pretty poor Lazy Susan.
The simplest fix was putting a thin spacer under the rotating assembly, so I fished some quarter inch plywood from my collection and cut a circle while my dad supervised.

The next and final step was to reinstall the spinner with some stainless steel screws of the appropriate length. For some reason, it was originally attached with self-tapping sheet metal screws.

Monday, May 2, 2016

I don't know nothin' bout birthin' no babies

Note: I apologize for the delay in this post. My transition into motherhood cut into my blogging time.

I'm a new mom. It is really weird saying that. My pregnancy went so quickly and my delivery was even faster. In fact, it was seven minutes. See? Fast. However, the story that led to that seven minute delivery isn't fast and in fact was very emotionally painful/scary for me. To this day, I still struggle with the emotions from that day. They aren't all sad ones, in fact, most of them are from a place of deep gratitude.

Here is the story of how Hope came into this world and why I am so grateful for each step along the way.

Since I was overdue at nearly 41 weeks, I had to start having twice-weekly fetal monitoring appointments. The first one went smoothly, and at the second I felt my baby girl bouncing around like it was a party. I assumed everything was going swimmingly and I would be meeting up with my cousin for some afternoon shopping as planned.
The nurse came in and was reviewing my printout, then she stepped away without saying a word and I heard her make a call requesting a doctor. When she came back just a minute later I asked if everything was OK. She said she needed to have the doctor look at the data but it was probably fine. Soon the doctor came in and looked over the chart; he said I wasn't going to be leaving the hospital. I had two options: start the induction immediately or be admitted to the hospital for a stress test and monitoring until Hope was delivered. Hope's heart rate had decelerated for several minutes, indicating slight fetal distress. The doctor recommended that we start the induction immediately but was careful to not push me if it wasn't something I wanted. I wasn't about to question a medical professional in this situation and opted to get the induction started. I didn't see any benefit to waiting around to deliver if her heart was slowing randomly.

I was alone with a dead cell phone in the middle of Andy's work day and honestly I was terrified. They agreed to hold off on the induction until Andy could arrive and I was also able to ask my cousin to pickup my hospital bag and phone charger. Once Andy showed up (making the drive from Irvine in record time) and my cousin dropped off my things I started to feel a whole lot better. I was eager to meet our girl.
I'm so sexy in my hospital gown. Hold yourselves back!
I responded very well to the Pitocin. My contractions started getting strong very quickly, but in the wee hours of the morning my labor stalled (totally normal). I was still having strong contractions but nothing was changing. I was attempting to have an unmedicated, natural delivery but I had told myself that if at any point I wanted the epidural, I wouldn't beat myself up about it. Specifically, if they needed to break my water I would want the epidural to avoid the rapid onset of crazy contractions (I've heard they come on very hard and very fast) and the associated pain.
When I was stuck around 3 cm for several hours, the doctor came in and asked to break my water. She mentioned it would likely go very quickly once it was broken. I told her I needed some time to think it over, meaning I needed to call my mother-in-law for advice. She said to follow my own instincts (good advice). No matter what I chose no one was going to be able to sleep any more so they joined us at the hospital (they had opted to drive down once we told them we were admitted).
Andy brought my favorite blanket from home, it comforted me quite a bit when things got stressful
Andy's sleeping arrangements
After considering how uncomfortable I was and how much more there was to go, I told my nurse to send in the anesthesiologist to administer the epidural. The anesthesiologist had (conveniently for me) a small break while waiting to go into a surgery. I will say this: I hated getting the epidural and I hated how it felt once I had it and I wouldn't want it again. It was awful. My scoliosis prevented me from being able to curve my spine correctly so it took longer and was more painful than normal.
Having the epidural made my legs so heavy I couldn't move them and they wouldn't stop tingling. Awful! At least with the pain of contractions I knew what my body was up to and it felt productive. It turns out, my body was being very productive because by the time they came into break my water I had progressed to 5cm.
The doctor said that with the progress I made the delivery would likely go very fast. I was super excited to meet our little girl so I forgot all about the tingling in my heavy legs. While they were checking vitals and breaking my water the midwife took a minute to explain to me what would happen if there were any complications. I suspect she did this because the external fetal monitor was showing Hope had a slowed heart rate. She explained that it would be scary but I needed to relax and understand that I was in good hands. I'm grateful she took the time to explain this because sure enough...

Immediately after breaking my water they said they were going to apply an internal fetal monitor on Hope's head because they weren't getting an accurate reading on the external monitor. Within a few seconds of the monitor being applied the midwife said "Nope, I'm calling it. CODE PINK." Hope's heart rate was dangerously low and her life was at risk.
Everything was suddenly a blur. The whole hospital swarmed into my room. There were literally lights and sirens going off in the halls. Everyone was shouting out acronyms and numbers as they disconnected me from the machines. Time seemed to stand still as I looked over at Andy. I have never seen him so afraid in my life. I reached for him and he kissed me just as they rushed me out of the room.
I felt like I was in a movie; there were a dozen people running along side me as they raced down the hall. When we entered the operating room and were waiting for the surgeon it was very calm and someone was explaining how the epidural should suffice to perform the surgery when they were cut off by one of the other medical staff yelling, "No, Code Pink." He quickly shifted gears, saying, "We are going to put you under. Take some deep breaths and count to five."
I was in shock and terrified. I kept worrying about Andy and our baby. I couldn't process what was happening. There was a very kind nurse who placed his hands on my shoulders and was talking very softly in my ear saying everything was going to be OK and when I woke up I would have my baby. It was the only comfort I had during the most terrifying time of my life and I wish I could thank him directly for being there for me.

Because I was put under, Andy wasn't allowed in the room, so neither of us actually witnessed Hope's birth. Luckily she is a spitting image of her Daddy and has ALL of my attitude, so we know she's our baby. It turned out our beautiful healthy baby was tangled up in her umbilical cord. It was around her neck twice and over her shoulder so as she worked her way down the cord was pulling tighter and strangling her.

You see why I am SO grateful for modern medicine? If we had been at home, we may not have survived. The Kaiser staff was incredible and helped deliver our baby safely and got us both back to Daddy in perfect health. Hope had to spend the day in NICU after breathing in some amniotic fluid but still scored a 9 on her APGAR. Luckily, Andy was allowed to go see her in there and keep her company.
The hospital was very cautious, so I only got to see Hope for a minute on the way to the recovery room, then I had to wait almost eight hours for her to join me in my room. It was the longest eight hours of my life.
The first moment I held our daughter.
Recovery has been OK. It took the full 8 weeks but I am feeling great and have healed up nicely.

Hope is now over three months old! CRAZY!! She is so amazing. She's above the 97th percentile for height and in the 80th for weight. She's the tallest girl in the entire Kaiser network! Most of all, we are just happy she is healthy.