3 Kids under 5 in a 2016 Chevy Volt

My husband’s old Subaru finally died and he’s hoping to replace it with an electric or hybrid vehicle.  Unfortunately, all the ones with two rows of passenger seats are huge and/or expensive.  Today I headed over to our local Chevy place to see if I could fit 1 rear-facing Graco, 1 forward-facing Britax convertible, and one small backless BubbleBum booster in the Volt.  Verdict:  You can!  Once the kids get bigger, you wouldn’t put three across in the back because the center console goes to the back middle seat (no leg room for anyone over about 4-5 years old).  But for a lease vehicle for the next few years, it could work.  Here are some pictures for your possible interest.

Image 1:  Backseat with (L to R) Bubble Bum, Britax, and Graco.

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Image 2: Tight fit next to the Britax, as you can see here, but I was able to fit (seatbelt on, door closed), so I figured our almost-5 year old can cope for short trips.  (We have the minivan for longer drives with all 3).

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Image 3.  I was able to get the Graco level enough to get the “blue” indicator.

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Image 4.  Here’s what the Graco looked like.

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Operation Curb Appeal – Part 1

Nyack Nest has many quirks that we are discovering as we are settling in, but one that was apparent from our first visit:  it was built sideways on its lot.  So, you drive up and the side of the house is facing the road, while the front faces the side of the house next to it.  Odd, right?  Maybe that house wasn’t there when it was built, who knows.  In any event, this results in a somewhat odd first impression not helped by the broken old screen door that won’t close and the mess of utility boxes and lines to the left of the two first floor windows.

A few “Before” pictures from when I was trying to match the shutter color and imagine a new door:

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When my mother came to visit in the week before our third daughter’s birth, and there was little to do but wait for the baby to make her appearance, Operation Curb Appeal commenced.

Here are some after shots:

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Here’s what we did:

  • sanded and painted two mildewed wood benches white
  • painted the old planters in a green to match the shutters
  • ordered a new door (a Jeldwen ventilating door so we won’t have a separate screen door anymore)
  • planted white New Guinea Impatiens and yellow Amstel Begonias (which are supposed to be shade-tolerant, container-tolerant, and uninteresting to deer — but it turns out Nyack deer like to eat New Guinea Impatiens) and hung more from the lampposts
  • added a bit of brick under the front door to test drive the idea of a small brick stoop
  • screwed together 6 trellises to cover the utilities, and put ivy in planters in front of them — the third trellis is only half-installed so it swings like a door for the utility man to step behind and check our meter
  • dug out an old, concreted-in mailbox and address sign and nailed house numbers to the tree by the entrance
  • added rocks (Mexican river pavers plus various native Rockland stones we’ve been digging out of the backyard) along the border of the yard and the road where cars always drive over the grass because the road is too narrow

Still to come when the budget allows:

  • new front yard post lights to replace ours which are mostly broken and missing tops, meaning we had to wrap them in plastic to protect the electric lines from the water.
  • a good powerwashing
  • a small brick stoop marking the side door and covering the exposed foundation?

What do you think would look nice?  The side-as-front is challenging…

…In Which A Very Pregnant Woman and a Grandmother Make a Custom Kitchen Cabinet – Part 1

When we moved into Nyack Nest, we quickly discovered that many apparently functional appliances really would need to be replaced, including our old refrigerator.  The old fridge was the traditional tall narrow type with a small freezer over a larger fridge.  I was insistent that we get one that allowed us to get cold filtered water and ice dispensed through the door without opening it, and it needed to be white because I wasn’t ready to replace the stove/microwave which are white and so I’d already replaced the dishwasher with a white unit.

It also needed to be bigger, but that meant tearing out a bunch of cabinets next to and above the old fridge.  Which my husband did with great aplomb, leaving a pretty gnarly view over the new fridge:

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What we didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to fill said gaping hole in a nice, symmetrical way now that there was no more tall side cabinet. The space is not a standard width, and Home Depot estimated it would cost almost $1k to buy 3 cheapie cabinets to put up there that wouldn’t even be symmetrical.  Not what I was hoping for.

So instead we just left the gaping hole for months.

When my mom came for ‘Babywatch 2015’ (the week before my due date with Baby #3) we decided that this would be among the projects we would tackle.  We measured the space, bought plywood and screws and a powersaw, and went at it.

We learned the hard way you shouldn’t cut your wood all the way to the width you measured (or the height) because if you’re even a little off, well, that thing is not going to fit.  We realized this after assembling the first version of our cabinet, partway. Luckily, we did have that power saw.

Here’s the basic “box” (cabinet frame) we made (patched up with caulk where we had to do hand-sawing that wasn’t as perfect as the Home Depot cuts), painted and with facing along the front:

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I ordered some Grass euro hinges to match the ones used on the existing kitchen cabinets, even though you won’t see them from the outside.  The installation instructions are heinously complicated — have to admit, not totally confident we will be able to install those, but we will see.  The doors are supposed to arrive Monday, so we will soon see.

If we succeed in installing the hinges, next step will be to order some custom-made pull-out shelves and install some shims inside the box that the pull-out shelf hardware will attach to so that the shelves don’t get caught by the front facing.  (The cabinet is very deep and high so without pull-out shelves much of it would really be dead, hard-to-use storage).  The pull-out shelves aren’t cheap ($80 a pop!) so I’m holding off until I’m pretty sure the rest of this cabinet is going to work as planned.  Otherwise, total cost so far is about $30 for paint, $70 for plywood, $20 for facing, $160 for custom cabinet doors, and maybe $40 for hardware (including hinges which were most of that).  We did have to buy some paint brushes, caulk and the power saw (the most significant expense – something like $60?) too.  Plus car mileage going back and forth to Home Depot an embarrassing number of times already.  And we’re pretty sure we’re going to have to hire a handyman to install this thing if we actually do pull it off.  But I’m pretty sure the Home Depot price quote we got was just for the cabinet and didn’t include the installation fee either, so…we might still come out ahead.  And I’ll actually get a nice, symmetrical cabinet with pull-out shelves (fingers crossed).

To be continued…

If It’s Not One Thing…

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A bit of a hiatus over the last few weeks after my husband tore some ligaments in his ankle when he missed a stair at work.  He’s just now (mostly) getting off crutches so I’ve been doing a bit more lifting than my 7 months pregnant body would like.  In the meantime we’ve already had and fixed our first leak that developed just a couple of weeks after we moved in. (I have video evidence!  But that’s probably not very exciting for you all…).  It involved tearing open the kitchen ceiling and replacing a significant piece of plumbing, but hey, in terms of nasty surprises it could be worse, right?

We have Laundry!

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Now, the Nyack Laundromat at S. Franklin & Depew Streets does a wonderful wash and fold and has treated me well, but I really didn’t know it was possible to be SO excited about doing my own laundry until I was in fact slightly giddy last night while doing so.  It didn’t hurt that both kids were actually willing to enjoy the novelty with me by helping me load/unload/sort (probably shouldn’t count on that being a regular occurrence…).  And I haven’t even told you about getting a functional dishwasher after weeks of hand wash…

Yes, this is what my life has come to.  But hey, why question joy?

You Know You’re Settling In When…

After a long delay spent moving and unpacking boxes (done), organizing their contents (never-ending), and arranging furniture, we are mostly settled in.  Our washer and dryer arrived today, along with a new dishwasher, and hopefully those along with a new disposal will all be installed tomorrow in my blissful absence.

On a less fun note, we’ve already got our first leak, so the plumber will be making a hole in the kitchen ceiling to do a little exploratory surgery.  But I finally feel like I’m getting a handle on the long list of tasks that comes with moving:  applying for Pre-K, touring daycares and schools, changing banks, etc, etc.

And tonight, a real milestone:  (After a quick trip over to Ardsley Music in Scarsdale for a new string and a tune up), pulling out the cello and playing for more than 5 minutes. Completely interrupted, uncharacteristically, since the rest of the family is trying to wait out rush hour before driving back from Brooklyn.  The liberation from close neighbors is really an amazing thing for a rusty musician.

I am even tempted to try to take a lesson or two to get a couple of pieces of marked-up sheet music to run through so I’m not playing what I can from memory (which at this point is mostly limited to snippets of Elgar, Bach and Vocalise, plus whatever improvisation or random popular melody comes to the fingers that day).  I found myself looking this up and discovered, oddly, that there are no readily-findable cello teachers who make home visits around here.  (Do you know of any good cello teachers near Nyack?  If so please let me know!)

Probably would be more fun to go to a conservatory/school anyway, for the social element and getting out of the house, since I am mostly working at home, but that may be a bit challenging with a third baby coming soon, at least until she is old enough to go to daycare.

There do seem to be more options for my son’s interest in learning guitar, though.  I’m a little skeptical that he’ll be ready even at 4 to play because of the fine motor strength/skills/patience/concentration required, but there are Suzuki guitar lessons at Rockland Conservatory in Pearl River starting at age 4, so maybe we’ll give that a shot.  (Or should we head over to Westchester?  Or try the place in Nanuet? …) I did start playing cello at age 5, so I guess it’s possible he could start doing it if we don’t expect much real practicing (as opposed to playing around) out of him quite yet…

Storing & Displaying Musical Instruments

Music friends:  what are your feelings about keeping instruments out of the case (hanging on a wall or laying on a shelf, for example)?

We’ve got a bunch of instruments I’d like to have more readily accessible, but I’ve read on various guitar forums the humidity changes in temperature-controlled rooms are a bigger issue when an instrument is out of a case, even if the instrument is out of direct sunlight (UV damage issues) and on an interior wall (so that the front and back aren’t at very different temperatures).  This violin group also advises against it.

Here’s the room we’d like to put them in.  As you can see, we’ve already got my grandparents’ beautiful piano in there, so temperature and humidity regulation are going to be important for that reason alone…

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