construction, plans

The Master Plan

When we bought this house, we always knew this day would come. It was just a matter of when–and honestly, if we could ever afford it. We knew this place came with two garages, one of which had been illegally converted to living space. It also came with a room that was basically an enclosed patio, and totally unpermitted.

We finally pulled the trigger to do something about it the day Dave got electrocuted. I was in the house with the girls and he had gone out back to take care of the lawn. All of a sudden I heard this loud CRACK! noise, and all the power in the house was gone. I was confused for the first second. Understanding dawned on me the next, and in the third second I was convinced my husband was dead. Right when I had finally psyched myself up to go look at what I was sure would be his corpse, he walked into the playroom with a dazed look on his face. Turns out he had plugged the weedwacker into an outlet in the garage and gotten quite the shock.

Our electrician came that night. God bless him it was a holiday weekend too and he didn’t charge us any OT. He spent three hours chasing circuitry between buildings and finally declared it to be SAFE-ER, but not SAFE. We needed a full upgrade. New panel, everything.

Problem was, our existing panel was in the playroom–the illegally enclosed, unpermitted playroom. We knew as soon as we applied for an electrical permit, they’d demand that we tear it down.

The time had come. We contacted a few architects and finally decided on Richard Su of RASH studio. It took a few weeks and some back and forth, but we finally decided on this:


It came in three phases. We’re doing phase one now (marked here in yellow), which involves moving the kitchen into the new family room addition, converting the existing kitchen into a dining space, and remodeling the master. In the process we are also demolishing the original garage and leveling out much of the property, for a MUCH more usable backyard.

Phase 2 is building an office off of the living room, which would enclose the outdoor dining court on three sides. For now I’ll just have to put a fence up across the driveway and hopefully a privacy hedge of some sort. Phase 3 involves building out the front porch to reflect the craftsman style we’ve always loved. This house will never be a true craftsman, but we can get close to the look of the real thing with those three developments.

One thing I love about the whole plan is the posts that run down the front living space, creating a pseudo hallway and directing traffic through the back of the house. I also love the low cabinets dividing the living room from the dining space. I thought that was kind of genius.

We’ve actually already built the front entryway storage cabinets and moved the front door over about 9″. I’ll cover that in another post.

Meanwhile, in current news, they’ve pounded out all the concrete from the back and left us with loads and loads of dirt! Excitement!

construction, plans

So what’s the plan?


It’s been a while.  I debated over even leaving my old blog posts here vs. making this new space all about, well, new stuff.  In the end I chose to leave them, so feel free to look back into my life about 5 years ago (it was fun for me to read, anyway).

It occurs to me we have another major life event going on that people might want to know more about, hence me posting again.  Not that the birth of our second child wasn’t a major life event (man, sorry Abby, major second child syndrome…love you!!!).  It absolutely was, I was just…uh…real busy.

Anyhoo.  Construction.  Let’s talk about construction.  Because who doesn’t love tearing stuff apart and putting it back together even better than before?  To wit – The before (click for larger):


Well, as a matter of fact we could call that “current” because not much has happened besides tearing stuff down.  The area marked UNPERMITTED FAMILY ROOM is gone, as is the ORIGINAL GARAGE, thanks to some serious Snyder Family sweat.  Here’s some before and afters:

IMG_4107_cf IMG_4108 IMG_4109 IMG_4163_SSIt’s funny to see the green chalkboard wall just hanging out outside, since it was an “interior wall” (I use that term very loosely) for the past 5 years.  It’s even funnier that we still hang out on the brown carpet and drink wine at night.  It’s not so funny when your kid trips on a sewer line, though.  Nope, not funny.

Man that playroom was built like crap.  It is AMAZING what some people will throw together and refer to as a “room”.  No wonder it always kind of smelled musty and the ceiling fan nearly decapitated our kids about three weeks before we tore it down.

The back edge of the garage was right about where I’m standing taking that last picture. Our property had two garages.  The one we tore down was original (we think) to the house, which was built in the 20’s, and you approached it from the street (ie, from the direction of the big blue dumpster).  The one we are keeping is behind where I’m standing here, and you approach it from the alley.

Some of you may remember that it was actually a huge issue and setback with the city for us that they wanted us to remove the driveway after we removed the front garage.  I guess they don’t like driveways that don’t terminate in garages.  Which makes some sort of sense, I suppose, but would have essentially meant we’d be parking two cars on the street everyday.  Because COME ON WHO PARKS IN THEIR GARAGE?  Anyway, we won that battle (thank goodness).

So THIS is the proposed floorplan. Again click for a larger version.PROPOSED FLOORPLANWe reconfigure the closet area between our master (Bedroom C) and Eva’s room (Bedroom B).  We gain a proper master bath, which is accessed from our room instead of the hallway, and a walk-in m0&$@*(-f()$&#$% closet.  Yeah I said it.  I’m kind of excited.  Eva gets…a smaller closet.  Cue maniacal evil mother laugh here.  She’ll be so pissed when she sees the old house plans at 13.

The hallway gets converted into a pantry and laundry area, accessible from…DUN DUN DUN…the new magical awesomesauce kitchen and family room.  With vaulted ceilings. Yeah.

Oh yeah and there are skylights.

And a 9′ island.

I can’t believe this is actually happening.

Stay tuned.

raising baby

Upson Downs

At this point, I’ve been at this Motherhood thing long enough to know that there are peaks and valleys in one’s confidence level. And to recognize that I am now in a valley.
That old cliche of “As soon as you think you’ve got them figured out, they go and change things on you” is laughing in my face this week. Ever since graduating from the phase of I-am-going-to-scream-my-head-off-unless-you-walk-me-around-the-house-from-six-to-ten-pm, she has been relatively easy to get to bed. Bath, PJs, cuddle, nurse, rock, crib. Somewhere between 9 and 10 pm.
No more.
Current theories include maybe-she’s-teething, maybe-she’s-congested, maybe-she-needs-more-food, and maybe-she-just-needs-sleep-training.
I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and eventually I’ll explain my two month long absence. Hopefully I am back for good 😉


A Day In The Life…

I would challenge all the other mother bloggers out there to do this exercise…it’s highly amusing, if nothing else!

11pm Out running. About a mile or so only, up and down the bike path.

11:30pm Eva went down at 10:30, as is her custom. As is my custom, I am still up. Lately, though, instead of watching bad television or rereading Harry Potter, I am working for the office. They have me on part-time until I go back November 2nd.

2am I pump while reading the third book of the Harry Potter series.

2:30am I am finally asleep.

6:30am Holy cow she slept eight hours! You go girl! As usual, I am somehow magically awakened by her miniscule little peeps and hand-sucking sounds over the baby monitor. Last year it would have taken an act of God to wake me up at 6am. This year, it takes .005 decibels from the mouth of a 15-pounder. I throw on pajama pants, pee, and go into her room to nurse in the chair.

6:50am Back in bed.

9:30am BAM! She is cooing over the monitor, I am awake, and it feels like I just closed my eyes. I swear, I rolled over to look at the clock completely expecting it to say 6:51am. So even though I have had 7.5 hours of sleep, somehow I feel INCREDIBLY tired. I make my side of the bed, throw on my trusty pj pants, pee (again), and retrieve my gorgeous girl. I curse myself for buying Pampers instead of Huggies since the overnight diapers don’t have this nifty pocket at the back to catch the pee. I’ll have to change the crib sheet again later. After a quick diaper change, clothing change, and a dose of her baby Zantac, we lay down with our heads at the foot of the bed so I can nurse her from my right side, since I used the left at 6:30.

9:30am-11:30am We lie around in a semi-sleep state, nursing and dozing. Eventually she is pretty bright-eyed, cooing, and playing with her hands. I lie next to her, talking and playing.

12pm The family is all up now (how lazy!!!) After another diaper change we are sitting in the living room with Dad. I try to nurse her but she is not really interested. She plays on her quilt on the floor while Dave and I eat cereal and drink coffee.

1:30pm We are finally showered and ready to go. Dave needs a new battery in his car and I need the tinting on my front windows redone. This is our grand plan for the day. After jumping his car to start it, we set off for Sears. (I am following him in case he stalls). Alas, the automotive center there is no more. We head back home. On the way, Eva is fussy.

2:15pm I figure maybe she is hungry now. Near our house, I pull over in a residential neighborhood and get in the back seat to nurse her. Dave hops in the back seat too (with his car still running) and we discuss where to go next. Eva is still popping on and off and not nursing well. We decide to split up and Dave takes off for Pep Boys. While I am still trying to nurse in the backseat, I notice that a VERY crotchety-looking elderly woman is staring at my car. Then she walks over with a piece of paper and writes down my license plate number. She is too far away for me to yell “HEY! I am just NURSING MY FREAKIN’ BABY HERE, not doing drug deals with my husband!” Then a UPS truck pulls up RIGHT NEXT TO MY CAR. When he leaves, a delivery van pulls up across the street. Every time someone gets within 5 feet of the car, I get nervous they are going to wonder why it is running when seemingly no one is in it. I imagine the UPS guy’s reaction when he puts his face to the back window and sees me nursing. I imagine the Burbank Police surrounding my car and demanding that I come out immediately, and me trying to put my boob away before they draw their weapons.

I decide it is far too busy and aggravating trying to nurse here.

3pm I am up the block from the tinting place (mind you, it is 3 minutes from my house). Eva was STILL fussy back there, and I really thought I ought to give nursing ONE MORE TRY. After all, she really hasn’t eaten since probably 11 or so. When I pull her out of the carseat, I realize she needs another diaper change. I pull the pedestrian seat as far forward as it will go and get her undressed on the floor of the backseat. My phone, which I had set on the center console in case Dave called, vibrates off the console and onto Eva’s HEAD. She is now crying like I have cut off a limb. Tears are streaming down her face. After a very gruff phone interchange with Dave, I hang up, get the diaper on, and pick her up to comfort her. I get us in the back seat and try to nurse again. Still not interested. Still crying.

3:15pm I make it to the tint place. I extract my crying baby from the car, get her in the stroller and hand my keys over to the dude. I walk up the street to the sandwich shop, where Dave and I have planned to meet later. She’s still crying. I order my sandwich. She’s still crying. Luckily there is enough white noise and people noise in this place that no one much cares. The guy making my sandwich informs me he has seven children. I say “God bless your wife. Oh, and you too ;-)” I sit down at a short counter. She’s still crying. My mom calls. I can’t really hear her. I’m trying to rock the stroller with one hand while talking on the phone. I tell her I’ll have to catch up later. Now I’m rocking the stroller with my foot while I eat my sandwich. Her eyes are REALLLLLYYY droopy. Come on kid, please…

3:20pm She’s asleep. As further proof that God loves me, there is a Los Angeles Times next to my seat with the crossword puzzle intact. I actually finish it and enjoy my sandwich before she wakes up…at

4pm Okay, NOW she’s hungry. If she sucked on her hands any harder, they would come out of her neck. I contemplate nursing in the sandwich shop (under a cover, of course). No one in here but me and the 3 teenagers behind the counter. Awkward. I decide to go see how my car has come along.

4:15pm They’re done! I pay and race home to feed her. Comfortably, privately, in our new rocking chair. Yay.

4:30-6pm Dave handles Eva while I do more work for the office. My cousin had earlier invited me out to sushi, so…

6:30pm Sushi dinner. Yum. She still has not managed a nap since the one at 3 o’clock. As such, she’s kind of fussy, but still not too bad. She takes a 3oz bottle but still seems hungry. I try to nurse under a cover in the booth, but not interested. Picky. I realize she is wet through her clothes. Dave and I do joint diaper duty and clothes changing on top of the toilet in the men’s room (it’s bigger than the women’s but still has no counter space).

7:45pm She’s super fussy. Dave takes her for a walk in the stroller around the strip mall and meets us at Menchie’s for froyo. Eva is finally asleep!

8:40pm We are home. Bath time! PJ time! Book reading! Watching Jeopardy while nursing in rocking chair.

10pm Final nursing session in her room. Lots of cuddles, wait for her to fall asleep in my arms. Transfer her to crib. She wakes up. I decide to leave and see if she will put herself back to sleep.

10:30pm Success! A little fussing, but not a peep over the monitor anymore.

11pm Watch bad television.

11:30pm Blog.

12am Most likely, more work for the office. And…repeat. My big goals for tomorrow are to get flu shots and deposit some checks.

Should take about 4 hours, I figure.


The Good Stuff

Alright, alright. Enough whining. You all want to hear about how awesome it is to be a new mom, right? Right. So here is my familiar list-tastic breakdown of things that rock about being Eva’s mommy.

1. She’s freakin’ adorable. I don’t mean to brag here, but seriously…strangers stop me…ALL…THE…TIME. Eat your heart out.

2. Baby falling asleep on you. Can we say accomplishment? Sense of pride? Peacefulness, calmitudiny (it’s a word) and love? There’s nothing more awesome at this point in my life than going from free-for-all screamfest to calm, quiet babyness. Sure sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes she wakes up five minutes later, but sometimes it goes okay, and I can’t even bring myself to put her down in her bassinet because, well, see number 1.

3. Her accomplishments. Like the day I set the rattle on top of her legs in her carseat, just so I wouldn’t forget to bring it with us, turned around for a second and heard…a rattling noise! My baby, who will of course now forever be referred to as genius baby, PICKED IT UP AND RATTLED IT. Genius.

4. Baby clothes. They’re cute. I like picking them out. I like dressing her. I can’t believe it, but I do. It’s like playing with barbies again or something. Disgusting, I know.

5. SMILES. They’re…um…awesome. Seriously. Like looking in the face of god or something. I can’t explain it. They always seem to come out right when you really need one, too.

6. Being a grown-up. I think you could also label this one “sense of purpose.” I’ve been kind of…floating around for a while. Questioning things. Never really feeling “old enough” for my life. My house. My job. Now I’m completely responsible for A LIFE. Kind of snaps you to attention…like, hey, you’re the adult. Get over yourself, dig deep, find some goddamn patience and rock this kid to sleep for the fiftieth time. And while you’re at it, ignore the spit-up dribbling down your back and into your shorts.

7. Loving my husband. Never before have we been partners in something so difficult. Before Eva, we had renovated almost every square inch of our house together (an activity inherently fraught with conflict), fought about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, thrown things, yelled, cursed, stormed off, driven off, you name it. Since Eva, even small fights are easily diffused with…I’m so goddamn stressed out by this kid I can’t afford to be mad at you. Let’s just work together, ask nicely, give each other lots of hugs, and tackle it. I can’t tell you how helpless I felt in the weeks after giving birth, and I must say Dave truly stepped into high gear. He is my lifesaver and my rock, and I don’t know what I would do without him.

8. Nursing. I know, I know, the “breastfeeding sucks” post. Well, it’s better. Yes, sometimes it’s still a little overwhelming (especially when I suspect another growth spurt and we’re nursing every hour again). But the majority of the time now, it feels natural, calming, and easy. I guess there are hormones involved that are determined to make you feel motherly and peaceful. Well, sometimes they work. I just wish there were a private room with a comfy rocking chair everywhere I went in the world, then life would be perfect.

9. Looking forward to stuff. As unfathomable as it is to me at times, someday she’ll walk, and talk, and ask for help on homework, and cry about boys, and graduate college, and get married, and have babies. She’ll always be my girl, and I look forward to all of it.

10. Ricky Gervais has this really funny standup routine about a postcard with 10 suggestions on it, and how ridiculous #10 is just so it would have an even number of things. I can’t explain it in mixed company, but trust me, it’s hilarious. Anyway, there is no #10, I just wanted to type it.