October 2008

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alex's life book

  • In early 2006, I began creating a life book for my daughter, Alex. Click here for links to articles describing my experience.
  • And for those of you who are more digitally inclined, in late 2006, I recreated key pages of Alex's lifebook for an article I wrote for AlphaMom, using Scrapblog.

    You can see the final digital result (and leave comments, if you'd like!) here.

what's been on my nikon lately

  • And you can view my favourites here.

if i'm not here, i'm here

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My mom actually thought of this for her own house, but I would want (and suggest for you hehe) to have in the master's bedroom a U-shaped bathroom where on the left and right parts of the "U", will be separate half-baths that both have a lockable door on the other side that leads into the flat part of the "U" where the bathtub and open, non-enclosed shower would be located. The shower would not have any doors and would have two shower heads in gold (can you tell i've been thinking about this too much? haha). I hope you can picture it.

For Alex, you should have a bedroom with a bathroom there as well. You should get a bedroom/bathroom setup made for a child and a teenager...so that she can grow into her room without any problems or major changes.

I want the dual-sided fireplaces as well. I'm addicted to HGTV (and MTV Cribs for the nice houses) for ideas. Good luck on your future home!


One large wall reserved for bookshelves. If I would REALLY go crazy: A library. Or a quiet room, where you can watch DVD, go online and be surrounded by books.


A great book is called "Building Green"


Awesome step by step ideas. Hubby and I have been obsessed with it lately, esp the building with cob section.

We built our current home and here are a few 'we-wish' things
--separate toilet in master bath
--more built-in storage such as window seats in children's bedrooms
--overhead fans in bedrooms
--dimmer switches in bedroooms
--two sinks in master bath
--higher quality kitchen cabinetry (no particle board)

Have fun!!!

Mary, mom to many


I'll throw my wish list into the fray. We talk about these things often in our house too. In fact, I draw on cocktail napkins all the time.

My list:
*Dual sinks in the master bath
*A bulter's pantry between kitchen and dining room. (This would have built in storage for the STUFF, but also a long counter top to set things down as they finish, but before they are ready to go onto the table).
*A shower stall large enough for the dual head shower head.
*A REAL playroom. For the child today it would have toys and be painted as a fun fantasy place. For the future teen it will have a pool table and 80's video games and a place for our 3 pinball machines. I want a place that my son's friends will want to come and hang out -- so I know they are safe and out of trouble. Ideally this would have a soda bar.
*a room of my very own. No corner of a kitchen or side of an office. I want a whole room of MINE. A room to be girly, in my house full of men.

Good luck with your dream home.


Two things we did when we built our house that I am SO glad of: the toilet in the master bath is separate with its own door; and, with all bedrooms being upstairs, we put a laundry room right up there. Everyone showers and changes upstairs, the laundry stays there. Added later, and glad of it - hardwood kitchen floors and granite counters.
Love you blog!


I live in a rental home right now but I've always dreamed about a LARGE basement and a spacious attic in my future home. Especially as a child...there is nothing more special, myseterious, romantic, private than an attic - all the books I've read and the child movies I've watched. Beautiful.

Window seats in each bedroom - and a large enough yard to have a small playground installed.

I also agree with the treehouse - those are what make special childhood memories.

Lisa C.

A real office, not only with built-in shelves, but a built in computer space as well. Definitely a play/party room that would evolve with our family's needs. A master bedroom that actually makes sense, as opposed to our gargantuan one with a nebulous "seating area" which is oddly shaped and currently empty. Believe me when I say that space would be better used elsewhere.


My dream house would have a walk-in shower with his and her shower heads.

His and her closets would be nice, too.

I agree with a pp on the dedicated playroom. We've got one now and it's awesome.

This is fun!


Windows...sounds so common but man i need sunlight and space. Big floor to ceiling windows to let in all the beautiful greenery! and if it's not too much a nice window seat to sit in and just enjoy.


Ahhh! If wishes were horses beggars would ride....how many times have I wished my laundry room were bigger? Let's just say I'd have a stable full of horses right now. I would have a laundry room that is NOT a walk-through to the garage and would have enough space for cubbies for the kiddos' boots, shoes, coats and sundry other items. I would have counter space for folding clothes or wrapping gifts or working on crafts or homework projects. I'd have storage cabinets. And as long as I'm wishing, a window and a laundry sink. No more schlepping dripping clothes that require stain treatment. I love my front load washer and dryer and love that they are better for the environment, I just wish that the environment they currently inhabit were better suited for a family of 6!


Oh yeah! I'd also have a dedicated spot for our recycling bins which are currently located in the garage and taking up precious bicycle space!


This is silly, but: An enclosed outdoor shower in the yard, (which would be beautiful, of course) so that everyone could rinse the sand/dirt off their feet after being outside or at the beach.

Oh, IN the house, you say?
-His and hers bathrooms. Pedestal sink or one of those cool recycled/tempered-glass all-in-one sink/counter units. Of course, my dream house will come with a cleaner, so I don't have to fuss over every drop of water, right?
-Walk in closet. We have one in our rental unit where we lived when we were first married, I miss it SO much!
-12 foot ceilings with bull-nosed (rounded) corners and a high crown molding with recessed uplighting all around ...on dimmers, of course.
-Bamboo floors (a beautiful, low maintenence, renewable resource) laid on the diagonal.
-"Man room" for all of his ... crap. Since I know he'll always be a packrat, why not go with it, at least in one room?
-Master bedroom with enough space for more than just my bed, sans frame. See? modest requests, really.
-A guest bedroom/office for me, making a grand total of three bedrooms.
-Screened in porch, or better yet, a verandah. Like a loggia, one of the most romantic words, methinks.
-Kitchen with built-in breakfast nook, island and dishwasher. I dream of having a dishwasher, preferably two of those nifty drawer style ones that use way less water, operate independantly of each other, and are faced to match the rest of the kitchen.

Said kitchen should open up via a cool hatch/bar (or something) to living/dining room, thus allowing cook to talk to guests, since we know that the cook gets lonely. This would be able to close, so that we don't have to look at the dinner dishes mess while enjoying dessert.

I refer to Architectural Digest and other such publications as my version of those naughty paper-wrapped mags you might find under a teenaged boys' bed, if you get my drift. Irresistable!


We once lived in a house with a laundry shoot. There was an opening to the shoot in one of the upstairs bedrooms, in the kitchen on the ground floor, and an exit down in the basement next to the washing machine and dryer. This saved my mother having to carry down all the dirty sheets, clothes, towels, table clothes, etc. Luxury. It was just a galvanized metal duct, similar to an air vent, but it was placed vertically through the house instead of horizonally. Simple, but practical.


My must-haves:
A reading light centered so that it will fall where your reading material comfortably rests out of the water while you're in the bath tub.
Fireplace in the master bedroom. I flip on the fire (gas), lay out the children's clothing and my clothing to warm by the fire. We have our morning dry cereal/water/coffee in the master seating area, chatting and enjoying the fire. I quickly shower and hop into my roasty-toasty clothes. Then dress the boys in their warm outfits. Lovely! Obviously, this is for climates where there is a chilly winter.
A BIG mud room or family entry place, where everyone can drop off backpacks, outerwear, shoes, boots, and thereby not trash the rest of the house. Maybe even a bench seat in there.
House situated to take best advantage of solar heat or shade possibilities.
Kitchen recycling bins.
Big pantry, with proper storage built in for foodstuff.
A dedicated playroom that is NOT on the family room level. That way, the children can spread out and build their projects w/o having to take them down, and when they get older, it can accommodate a ping pong or billiards table.
I would do away with a formal living room altogether. Have a formal dining room; either a keeping kitchen or a kitchen/family room combination, a library/office and huge mud room on one level. Bedrooms upstairs. Seating area in master. Reading areas in children's rooms, with good lighting. Large seating area in kitchen.
I would also have huge, screened, shaded porches! It extends your living area so beautifully.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head.
Oh, built green and use recycled materials where you can. But you have already thought of that.


Well, we have a laundry chute to the basement, but I'm better with the idea of a laundry room on the same floor with the bedrooms.
My sister-in-law has hers very similar to what Sara described, and oh my, if we ever build, that laundry room is my first demand.
Even without any younguns at home anymore.

We have a nice little two-seater nook in the kitchen, and do use it even more nowadays than when the sons were in high chairs or teenagers.

I do wish for a skylight, and a better exhaust fan in the bathroom. I can barely stay ahead of the mold in the corners.
Ceiling fans in the kitchen and bedrooms, heck, for every room, would be great!


Bookshelves ~ lots and lots of them, to house the huge collection of books that we've acquired over the years.

A huge shower. Preferably one with room for 3 or 4 adults (not that we'd ever have that many in there, but I want room, people!) and LOTS of spray heads. And no need for a shower curtain or door.

All on one level, so I never have to worry about stairs, no matter how decrepit I (or other family members) become.

A game room ~ with room for a pool table, darts, a juke box, and a table for games.

Ceiling fans in every room.

Solar powered ~ I'd love to get off the grid. :)


Other than an airtight woodstove for the winter (and the house built around it to capitalize on its glorious glow), I'd love to have a shower with a glass door to the outside. We live in Nova Scotia, Canada, and (probably like you) visit the beach on a daily basis from about May until October. How sweet would it be to step in from the outside, strip down all the wee one's clothes (and ours too, equally sandy) and turn on that watery stream of goodness?


You people have some great ideas! I have a smaller things to suggest:

- Double sinks in all full bathrooms. If one person is icky, then everyone can be assigned their own sink.

- I wish I had a half-bath for guest-use only. No potty chairs and rubber duckies for my company to look at - just a room that I can keep beautiful.

- Consider really nice canbinets all over the house. I mean the GOOD stuff. It's a big expense - at least it was for us - but we didn't go all out on the countertops so that we could have the nice cabinets. Countertops can be pretty easily upgraded later; cabinets are significantly more expensive and more work.

- And should I mention a cabinet dedicated to Spam? ;)


A few things other people mentioned:
fireplace in my bedroom
large pantry (that doesn't double as a coat closet like mine currently does)
dimmers on all lights
lots of windows

One of the more special things that I love about my house is the sitting area of my big bedroom with a window seat looking over our future garden and into the forest. I also love that there are very, very few synthetic materials--we have wood floors, exposed beams in ceilings, some wood paneled walls, limestone countertop, 4 brick fireplaces and 1 brick wall, lots of ceramic tiles. This carries over into our furnishings and belongings, too.


Maybe it's because I'm from the rainy (and thus, muddy) Northwest, but a mud room is something I dream of for my 2 small boys. I imagine them years from now, coming home from soccer practice with stinky feet, enormous backpacks and half eaten lunch sacks and I want a place for them to quickly and easily drop that stuff before they move on to the rest of the house.


Laundry Shute. Dumb Waiter. Elevator. Washing Machine on the same floor as where the children get undressed (can you tell I live in Brooklyn in a multi-level skinny brownstone?). Extra wide doors (especially front doors for getting double strollers through). A small study for myself that was built in a "surprising way" - like in a victorian turret window... A sunroom/greenhouse. I could go on and on.


Wow. Such passion for this subject!

I like a small house, myself, with a big kitchen. Seating in the kitchen is an excellent idea.

A footed bathtub like I used to have, and where I would ruin all my books by reading while wet.

An outdoor shower. This I already have and it is pure bliss to me to shower outside on a sunny warm day.

A big bookshelf/media wall.


You've probably already read it, but if not, it sounds like you would like "The Not So Big House"-it's about using your funds to make build things well, but not big.

When I read aloud the featured property (usually a mansion) in the Saturday paper, my husband always asks if it has a library.

If this is going to be your dream house for life, you might think about (if you haven't already) universal design (I think that is the name)-making it so that it is still good for you if age or disability makes it hard to get around: doorways wide enough for wheelchairs, walls in bath strong enough to add handbars if needed, etc.


With your talent for photography I would make that entry Marcus will want into a long wide type Gallery. You can put all your favorite family portraits framed filling the walls mixed in with favorite shots of the outdoors you have taken.
What a great introduction to your family as people enter your new house!

Girl con Queso

Must haves:

Excellent finistration

And some kind of water element

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