See Ya, Bed

Oh, hey there, empty bedroom. Why not throw another room into the started-but-not-yet-finished mix?

The Bed is Gone

A couple of things happened at the same time. The first is that a mattress company reached out, interested in working together on a post (which will go up next week). Brandon and I bought our queen-sized upholstered Hoffman bed from Room & Board back in 2007 when we moved in to the bungalow. While it has held up beautifully, but both our family and our bedroom are larger now. A king-sized bed has been on the wish list for a couple of years and I figured if we were going to get a new mattress, we might as well take the opportunity now to make the switch to a king.

Then while we were considering the new mattress, our friends’ bed broke. They were thinking of either finding a bed on Craigslist or picking something up from IKEA, and when we mentioned that we were thinking of selling ours, they said they’d take it. We gave them the ol’ friend discount, and we brought it over yesterday (leaving us with a temporarily empty bedroom).

So… we’re updating the bathroom on the third floor. August’s room is being redone. The kitchen is getting a new stove at the very least. Another bathroom is waiting on electrical work to be done so we can wallpaper. The wood flooring in the hallway still needs to be completed (it’s also waiting on electrical work). And now we’re changing up the bedroom, at least a little with a new bed.

Since so many things are in flux, I’m trying to step back and keep the whole house in mind so that it’s cohesive. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying about decorating that “if you love it, you’ll find a place for it,” and it’s true to an extent. You also have to be a good editor though, because if you’re anything like me, you can love four thousand chairs and a good number of rugs — doesn’t mean you’ll find a place for it all! It’s a balance of taking stock of what you have and what you need, planning ahead, and leaving room for serendipity. I don’t have the bedroom all planned out yet, but I have chosen a bed. I’m going to put together the foundation now so we’ll have a mattress to sleep on tonight, but I’ll put together a post soon about which bed I chose and why, along with the other close-but-not-quite options I considered. I overthought the process, as usual. It’s what I do.

Let’s Be Realistic, Here

I’m finding myself fighting scope creep. The new sconces are here (I ordered the Thurman sconce in unlacquered polished brass with clamshell shades), and I went ahead and bought a new faucet and toilet seat too. The bathroom is cute already, and with just these few changes, it’s going to be that much cuter.

New Bathroom Fixtures

New Brass Bathroom Fixtures

But. Then I went and did this little collection, and thought it wouldn’t be that hard to do in the bathroom. Right?

Pink Chinoiserie Wallpaper, Brass, Antique Wood, and Arabesque Lantern Tile

I mean, it just means pulling out the beadboard (walls only? ceiling too?) and the tile in the shower/tub area, putting up new green board everywhere, maybe putting in a plywood subfloor for tile or repainting the existing floor, the tile itself, grout, and wallpaper. Bathtub too? It’s probably fine with new fixtures, but maybe a new toilet, and oh, perhaps the sink too. Ah, but then I don’t need a centerset faucet — I could get a much better looking widespread set! So then, keep the dresser? It’s not in great shape — maybe rebuilding the drawers would help. Or replace it. The pink towels can stay, but new hardware and new hooks, too. Easy peasy! It’s not like I’ve got a kitchen to plan and save for or anything.

If this were our main bathroom, I’d be all over the extra changes. It isn’t though, and we have other rooms to concentrate on. I’m going to do the faucet, the sconces, and the toilet seat this weekend, and we’ll see where that puts us.

Kids and Small Pets

A few people have emailed with questions because their kids are interested in getting guinea pigs or other small pets of their own. I can’t claim to be an extensive resource for all things cavy, but I can share our experience with how much our kids really help take care of them.

We’ve had a dog and a couple of cats since before Eleanor born, but she had been asking for a new pet for about a year. Both Brandon and I grew up with pets (he had a rat and his family had dogs, cats, and bunnies — my family had a dog and a cat too, and over the years I’d had a rabbit, a hedgehog, fish, mice, and a hamster), and we agreed that E seemed ready for one of her own. She checked out a different book about animals each week from the library throughout kindergarten, in part because she loves all kinds of animals and in part because she was doing her research. For her, it came down to hamsters and guinea pigs. Hamsters have fun cages with crazy tubes and lookout towers, but they’re more fun to watch than to hold. Guinea pigs are larger and more docile so they’re easier for kids to play with, but they take up a lot of room. E made her decision and went with her grandparents for her sixth birthday to choose a pet, cage, and everything to go along with it. Guinea pigs are happier in pairs (thanks, library book), and after a week or so, we found another female to join our house… except she was a he, and then they had babies.*

So now we have two giant pet cages — one in Eleanor’s room with the girls (Speedy and Butterscotch), and one in August’s room with the boys (Gingerbread, Noisy, and Cute-Cute until he left yesterday for a new home). August likes them well enough, but either because of age (four) or temperament, he’s not as into them as E is. She loves the guinea pigs.

Eleanor with Her Guinea Pigs

Cleaning the Cage(s)
I organized all of the small pet supplies along the floor of our linen closet — food pellets, hay, chew sticks and toys, and clean bedding. (The best bedding is paper-based — pine and wood shavings are messy, smelly, and best avoided.) Guinea pigs are little poop machines, but they do tend to go more near where their food is. We clean that section as needed with a small dust pan reserved for the job, and then we completely change out the bedding once a week.

Eleanor can do it. Kind of. It takes her a long time and she makes a bit of a mess, so I usually do it with her while she ‘helps’ by holding the garbage bag. I want her to be there, not because I need the assistance, but because her pets are supposed to be her responsibility and she should know that they aren’t magically being cared for with no effort on her part. As she gets older, she may be able to change the bedding by herself, but I assumed going into it that Brandon and I would be helping for a while so it’s not a shock that I’m doing it. I am unfortunately allergic to them, so I sneeze and sniffle through the process (about 15 minutes per cage).

Food and Water
Eleanor can and does make sure there is food and water for the guinea pigs at all times. They need fresh fruit and veggies, and E likes figuring out what they’ll eat each day. We often give them any leftovers (carrots, apples, etc.) that the kids didn’t finish from their meals, but sometimes E has me make a teeny tiny fruit salad to serve. Adorable. The only part she has trouble with is the hay because it can get messy, so Brandon and I usually do that part.

The girl loves her pets. Eleanor couldn’t pick the guinea pigs up at first because they’re quick and nervous by nature, but she’s good at it now and no longer needs help catching them. She has done a good job of taming them, and even thinks they do tricks and communicate with her in a secret animal language! Calvin likes to watch them run around their cages, and August will pet them when they’re already out and being played with, but he doesn’t take the initiative like E does. She wakes up and pets them. She has gotten out of bed at night and slept on the floor to be next to them. We wondered (as a lot of parents do) if interest would wane but Eleanor is just as into them now as she was in the beginning, and I think the responsibility of caring for them has been good for her.

Butterscotch the Guinea Pig in a Dollhouse

Cute-Cute Goes to School

Yep, we’re less one guinea pig around here; Cute-Cute is now a school pet! He won’t be in August’s classroom, but just down the hall with another teacher. Eleanor was in school when Brandon and August took the little guy over, so I had them take a bunch of pictures to show her. They used the pet carrier toy from Eleanor’s vet set, and she thought that was pretty funny. She was also excited to see that there is a cage all set up in the classroom just like the one he was living in here, and that he’s going to have lots of new friends visiting him each day.

Cute-Cute, the Guinea Pig, Goes to School

* According to Eleanor: if our guinea pigs have any more babies (please no — but apparently they mate immediately after birth, which we didn’t know and I’m watching Speedy get fat…), the boys will be named George and Jr. and the girls will be Lily and Twilight.

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