Category Archives: Don’t Tell the Husband

I’ll be watching the family jewels instead of fireworks tonight

Originally posted in 2008 at Chicago Moms  Blog. Although referencing our previous home, it explains why we might be sitting out the fireworks tonight. My family returned home from watching the July 4 fireworks to find our home had been burglarized. The thief entered through an unlocked porch door. It was unlocked because the porch contains nothing of value- lots of stinky shoes and bathing suits and towels drip-drying on a rack- and we have a door with a deadbolt lock that leads into the main house. Only the burglar didn’t pry open that door, instead he removed a screen and climbed into our house through a large window that connects the porch and the house.

Ironically, when he stepped into our house, his foot landed just inches from a copy of Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew. However, the thief didn’t leave many clues behind. We didn’t even realize our house had been burglarized until my ten-year-old attempted to fall sleep in DH’s and my bed (a Friday night ritual) and asked why I left my jewelry on the bed.

Um, I didn’t.

I asked son #2 if he’d been going through my stuff prior to our picnic.


Then I noticed DH’s bureau was wide open.

There was a quick shout across the house to DH. A moment of panic. And then I called 911 for the fifth time in almost as many weeks.

I was instructed to get my family out of the house ASAP in case the burglar was still in there. I suspect he was long gone, but who am I to challenge an operator who’s surely heard it all?

So my boys, who were in their jammies, DH and I stood waiting out front for the police, whom we later learned got held up in post-fireworks traffic snarls. My freaked out boys were shivering partly out of fear and partly due to the fact that in summer their pajamas consist of a pair of boxer shorts.

“Maybe we should get the boys some clothes,” suggested DH.

I grabbed a solid four-foot walking stick from our front stoop and loudly tromped into the house. If a burglar was in there, I was ready to kick his ass. Unless he had a gun, in which case, he might have killed me. But I didn’t think of the gun scenario at the time, plus, we were pretty certain the house was empty.

We got clothes for the boys and called their grandparents (not the ones who rescued our kids during our ER visit in June, we like to spread the love) to pick them up for an impromptu sleepover. The cops came and stayed for two hours, taking pictures, asking questions, and dusting for prints. Our very own CSI: Chicago.

While the burglar didn’t take everything. He did get some key piece. I overheard my older boy telling his friends the next day that the burglars stole about $1,000 in cash and $3,000 in jewelry. I don’t know where he got these numbers. They are way off. Waaaay off.

Like he got maybe $80 in cash and, well, I don’t know how much in jewelry because all of my “real stuff” has been inherited.

He took a ring with great sentimental value and, now that I think about it, perhaps significant street value: a platinum and diamond cocktail ring from my Great Aunt Rose. Aunt Rose was the wild aunt who taught my brother and me games like blackjack and gin rummy and lived a glamorous life in Hollywood, serving as Jerry Lewis’s assistant for many years.

My mom gave Aunt Rose’s ring about a year ago. It was quite the bling ring, and though I’m not quite the bling gal, I like to think I was channeling her adventurous spirit the few times I wore it.

We didn’t insure it because I knew it wasn’t the kind of thing I’d replace (perhaps pure naivete), but I’m really sad when I think about it winding up in a pawn shop or simply being taken apart.

The thief may have also taken my wedding band. Years ago, my widower uncle passed on my aunt’s gold wedding band and matching diamond-chipped anniversary band. At the time, I was having health problems that swelled my fingers, making my wedding band tight and uncomfortable to wear, so I switched to wearing hers. I eventually switched back to my smaller, but nearly identical band, but as the swelling would come and go, so would the different rings. I’ll have to assume that hers got stolen, not mine.

But regardless, the family jewels are gone. And it sucks.

Post Script: a couple of weeks after this was posted, I found my aunt’s bling ring on the floor behind my bed. It must have fallen as the thief rifled through my jewelry box.

Garage Sale, Day 1

Today is the first day of our garage sale, so I’m keeping it simple on the blog. Earlier this week, the boys and I conjured up a great bit of summer fun with duct tape, a contractor trash bag and water.

Take a look at the Water Blob we made and let me know if you try this yourself. It was hours of fun using inexpensive materials we already had around the house. The fun was extended by the boys hovering over the computer creating mash-ups with the video segments I’d filmed. Best deal of the summer so far.

Stop by the garage sale if you’re a local. You’ll get the blog reader discount!

This Post is Brought to You by Depends

We finally have a plumber in here to work on the house’s two original bathrooms, and when I say work on the bathrooms, I mean replace the cast iron plumbing stack that runs from down in the basement up through our second-story roof, plus pretty much every other original pipe. Because we’re doing the demo ourselves, DH ripped out the toilets last weekend meaning I need to run up a flight of 14 stairs if I need to pee.

And I do mean run, because I turn into a Zombie when I’m at the computer and when it hits me that I’ve been making a mental note to take a pee break  for, oh, two or three hours, time is of the essence.

Happily, the plumbers are here now. I was worried the water would be shut off while they are working on the bathrooms, leaving me no choice but to depend on Depends. (Or pee into a cup and then dump the contents into the skunk den under our front stoop, but I think it only scares them if the urine has a high testosterone content. Also, the skunks occupy the den during the day so this idea is really a worthless idea all around).

Fortunately, the plumbers are able to keep the water running in other areas of the house.

I am so glad we’ve finally started moving ahead on the bathroom renos. We have many of our new fixtures sitting in the living room and the others are on order. After the plumbing rough-in inspection later this week, the electrician will take center stage. DH, AKA the general contractor, “indulged” me by going tile hunting the other day, but I don’t think I was being premature. I really hope to have everything up and running by July.

Follow Reluctant Renovator on Facebook for the latest updates on skunks, chipmunks and all of the other wildlife trying to #OccupyMyYard.

Swimsuit Confidence Week with Lands’ End and a Giveaway

WLands End Swimsuit Confidence Dayant to find me at the pool or beach? Let the picture on the right be your guide. At least, it would have been in 2011: floppy sun hat and oversized cover-up. But last winter I dropped a few pounds and more recently I was selected to participate in Lands’ End and SELF Magazine’s 2nd annual Swimsuit Confidence Week.

Swimsuit Confidence Week spurs dialog to help women of all shapes and sizes feel confident and beautiful so they can enjoy all summer has to offer.

Um, okay, beautiful might be a stretch. In my mid-40’s, I think more about acceptance- the faded stretch marks, scars, freckles, wrinkles, and skin that while not sagging, just isn’t as taut as it used to be. These are the chapters and footnotes in the story of me.

I’m still here living my story, aware of what a privilege it is to doing so.

Painfully aware.

So though it’s tempting to consider an eye lift, a boob lift or whatever surgery helps disguise the effects of gravity and aging, can’t we just celebrate the joy of being alive and work to be our healthiest selves instead of pretending we’re still 25?

That said, I’d love to wake up Freaky-Friday style inside my 20-something-year-old body. I know from old photos that I wasn’t as fat as I thought, plus my hair was fuller and skin clearer. I would ban all thoughts of bodily insecurity (and maybe exercise a bit more).

I wasn’t exactly a shrinking violet back then. I mean, I spent a summer as an intern at a dolphin cognition research facility in Hawaii and went to work in a bathing suit. Every Day. But I generally had a negative body image from junior high school on up.


Earlier this year one of my friends proclaimed that while committed to healthy living, she refused to spend any more time obsessing over her body.

I appreciate her sentiment. Like many of my mid-life peers, I’ve wasted days (weeks?) over the course of my lifetime worrying about my weight, the size of my ____ (fill in any one of numerous body parts). Enough of that thinking, let’s move on to something more affirmative, more productive.

It’s no longer a battle to fit into skinny jeans or a size 0 (Seriously, what the hell is a size 0, anyway? Who made that up?), it’s about being healthy and staying fit so that 20 years from now I can not only hang out at the pool with my grandkids, but swim and splash alongside them.

Lands End Swimsuit Confidence

Lands End Self magazine Swimsuit confidence week

Okay, I doubt I’ll be posing like that anywhere but on our deck. I’ll probably look more like this:

Swimsuit Confidence Week 2012 Lands' End SELF Magazine

I can’t see much without my glasses and it’s hard to lose the floppy hat. I’m trying to protect my aging and ever sensitive skin. That summer in Hawaii followed by a summer in Israel, not to mention the fact that people slathered themselves in tanning oil, not sunscreen, when I was a kid, means I got all the sun my face ever needs.

Boost your swimsuit confidence with a new swimsuit compliments of Lands’ End!

To enter:

1. (Required) Comment once on this blog sharing a tip to boost swimsuit confidence or letting me know what bathing suit you’d pick if you win. Comment by 11:00 PM CST on May 29, 2012 for a basic entry. US addresses only. No purchase necessary to win, but the winner must be 18 years of age. The prize has a retail value of roughly up to $150.

You can also have up to four optional extra entries; I need a separate comment for each of these items, so I can count each one as an extra entry:

2. Tweet about the entry and come back to let me know you did.

3. “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook and come back to let me know.

4. Subscribe to our newsletter, Progress Notes. We send updates every now and then featuring favorite tidbits from the blog as well as tips on home product finds and giveaways. Come back to let me know.

5. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you can keep up with Reluctant Renovator video blogs.

6. Follow @RenovatorKim on Twitter.

Winner will be chosen and notified by June 2, 2012 and will have two days to respond to me. If no response if received, a new winner will be chosen. Prize will be fulfilled by the Lands’ End PR team.

Lands’ End will also be hosting giveaways Twitter this week. Search the #LandsEnd hastag to play along. And check out the Swimsuit Sweeps on the Lands’ End Facebook Page.

Our model, Kim, is wearing a Women’s Petite Beach Living Princess  Tankini Top in Riviera Rose and the Beach Living Floral Swim Mini in Riviera Rose Floral. Lands’ End swimsuits come in a wide variety of sizes to fit bodies from small to tall, from A to DD and even mastectomy suits. Lands’ End swimsuit specialists are available for online chat and phone calls to help you find the right suit. Customer reviews of items listed on the site also help you pin down your selection.

Lands’ End provided me with the swimsuit of my choice to facilitate my participation in Swimsuit Confidence Week.

The By-Gone Bee, Your New Source for Vintage Housewares

By Gone Bee Etsy shopeThis is the kind of thing I think about doing, but makes Hubs go into convulsions, so I’m pleased to that my friend Emily of The Happy Home is doing it instead. She’s just launched an Etsy shop, The By-Gone Bee, that sells vintages housewares and prints. Given that she’ll be scouring the LA area for finds, she’s sure to stock a cool inventory. Who knows? Maybe she’ll even get her own show on HGTV one of these days.

Our Most Revealing Bathroom Post Yet: The Shower Video

I showed you bits of the master bathroom and took you on a photo tour of our fabulous shower, but you demanded more. And today, I’m bringing it.


Disclosure: Kohler provided their products at a discount. Our plumber did not.