Presque Isle

We live about 20-30 minutes from Lake Erie's beautiful beaches at Presque Isle State Park. All summer I've been dreaming about a beach day, but busy schedules and crappy weather prevented one from happening until today. Today we had no plans and 79 degree sunny weather. So we packed up the car with the baby, the dog, and the Opa and off to the beach we went.

Taking a baby and a dog to the beach is seriously f*cking exhausting. I was not prepared. There are a million things you have to remember to pack, lug onto the beach, and then try to unpack while dealing with a mobile baby who likes to eat sand and a dog who vibrates with adrenaline coursing through her veins and makes demon noises until you let her go in the water. It was chaotic and stressful. I even snapped at Rick while we were trying to pitch our half-tent in the wind and it blew around like a kite. 

But somewhere in there I got to hear Hank's giggles as the waves lapped up over his legs. 

And I got to see my crazy dog fetching sticks in the water like it was the most important job in the world.

And in those moments, every ounce of stress was worth it. Isn't that how it goes sometimes? You have to give an hour of fight for 30 seconds of beautiful.  



Lost his legs. Loved every minute of it.


Licking the bottom of a Subway cookie bag. Shameless. Like her Mama. 


My little sand-eater. He had sand in every orifice.



Here's to breathtaking waves and licking the bottom of the cookie bag. 

Bathroom Renovation

When Rick and I chose the house we live in now, one of the things that really appealed to us was that the majority of the house didn't need any major work. But there was one room that did: the bathroom. It was pretty horrible, and we both imagined ourselves hardcore DIYers who could take on a project like this. We lived here for quite a while before we could afford to tackle such a big project, so we got used to our fugly old bathroom. I always made sure my glasses weren't on when I opened the shower curtain so that I didn't have to see the horribleness of our bathtub and surround. It was impossible to get clean, and I remember thinking there was no way I would ever give our someday children a bath in that tub.

Last summer, we were finally ready to tackle the beast. We met with our realtor, who did some research and told us that if we spent $3,000-$4,000 on the bathroom we would more than likely get it back when we sell the house. Important to us, because we don't plan to stay in this house more than a few more years. We were doing this as much for re-sale value as we were for our own enjoyment.

We also had a local renovation shop come in and give us an estimate for the work, knowing that we would do most of it but that it might be nice to hire out for a few things. They gave us an estimate of $10,000 minimum. Yeah, homey don't play that. So knowing we had help from family and friends, we set out to tackle the renovation almost completely on our own.

From here on out, when I use the word "we" I really mean "Rick". And various loved ones that helped us out majorly. (Shout out to Rich, Gail, Dad, and Kevin: we love you all!) My role in the great bathroom renovation project was to "art direct". And to freak the hell out every weekend at what a pit our house had become.

Seriously, when you watch HGTV they make it look like everything just MAGICALLY comes together at the end. Elves come in and clean up and everything looks camera-ready and beautiful. And it's all finished in 2 days. This does not happen! We have a small house, with one bathroom, which meant that this project permeated every aspect of our home life for months. Tools and supplies were in every room. For a while we did not have a sink or mirror in our bathroom, so I did my hair downstairs looking in the microwave. (Strangely, I got more compliments on my hair during this time than ever before.)

Without further ado, I give you the befores and afters. The photos are crappy iPhone photos, but you get the idea.



We switched the vanity to the other side of the room so that we could fit a double sink. The sink, faucets, and mirrors are from IKEA. The lights are from Pottery Barn.

So there you have it! I can't even put into words how proud I am of Rick for pulling this off. He taught himself how to do pretty extensive electrical work, plumbing, and drywall. He handled a million little details and also managed to deal with me when I was freaking out for the umpteenth time. And we have a bathroom that we're happy to spend time in and use. Everyday it feels like we're rock stars.

Oh, and we did it all for under $2,000. Amazing, right? That even includes all of the accessories like towels, rugs, the jelly cupboard. All things we will take with us when we leave this house, but I include them in the running total because it was money spent. We're happy with what we spent, considering our budget was $3,000 to 4,000, and the professional estimate was $10,000.

What kinds of home renovations have you undertaken? Do you love it, or is it miserable for you like it is for me? I think if we do something like this again, I will move away to a hotel for a month for the sake of everyone's sanity.


I know many people who would qualify themselves as perfectionists. I count myself among them. Perfectionism is like a badge of honor. Saying you're a perfectionist is like admitting you have a flaw but giving yourself a compliment at the same time. There aren't many flaws like this. When a job interviewer asks what your weaknesses are, it's a pretty safe bet you aren't going to lose any points for saying you're a perfectionist. And yet, perfectionism is a destructive, self-loathing behavior. It is not healthy. It is not productive. And it does not honor the best that lies within us. But it comes with this amazing, heroin-high. The high of doing something perfectly well. Baking a cake that looks like it'd be at home in a magazine. Getting all of your laundry done, everything neatly folded and tucked away just where it belongs. Completing a task at work and doing it so well that everyone is in awe. These things are rushes. The joy of perfection washes over us like a wave.

The longer you live as a perfectionist, the more things you find that you need to do perfectly. And the things that you can't do perfectly? You just stop doing them altogether. Can't exercise like a champ everyday? May as well not exercise at all. Can't stay away from that bag of chips? May as well eat the whole thing. You can only cook when the results will be amazing. You can only invite people over when your house looks perfect. The irony is that everyone thinks you have your shit together. Maybe they're even a little jealous.

There are messy alcoholics and then there are high-functioning alcoholics who manage to not only hold their liquor but do it while walking a tightrope and making the whole room laugh. We are kind of in awe of them. And when and if they decide to stop drinking, we grieve a little over the loss of that charming person. Of course we want them to get better, but we also think secretly that maybe it is okay to go through life being a little beautiful trainwreck.

The drunk of perfection is not that different from the drunk of alcohol. Perfectionists love to please people, and people love to be pleased. And that works so well until it doesn't anymore. Until you get to the point where you're so drunk on perfect that you can't just "do" things without a full-court press. That's when the exterior starts to crack, and you start letting people down, and the snowball keeps getting bigger.

It was easier to write this with pronouns like "you" and "us," but we all know I'm talking about myself here. I am on a journey to stop being a perfectionist. It's one of the hardest things I've ever done. I wish they had a rehab for perfectionists because I would pay the money and take the time to go. To be able to focus solely on the hard work of letting this go would be much more manageable than trying to tackle it on top of everyday work and everyday life. I can see it now, instead of the Betty Ford Clinic it'd be the Martha Stewart Clinic.

One of the things I am learning is how to reframe my thoughts. I want to go swimming at the Y, but I can't possibly take 1-2 hours out of my schedule to go everyday. Is it really so bad to just go once a week? Wouldn't it still be worthwhile?

This is hard work, but I am so determined to do it. There is no going back. I don't want "perfectionist" to be marked on my grave.