Putting together our Basement

Do you remember that TLC show, While You Were Out? Someone left for the weekend and their loved ones completed a surprise room makeover in their house?

Just call me Evan Farmer.

Earlier this year, I posted about how our basement of doom is essentially our dumping ground for our crap.

Exhibit A, B and C:

James on Jessie Basement


basement 3


basement 2

It’s where dreams go to die.

Yes, that is a hose in the middle of the floor.

The space is already set up for use. There are new laminate floors and a fresh(ish) coat of paint. But we haven’t had the time or energy to do anything with it since we moved in two years ago.

Once we found out Baby James #2 was on his/her way, I got to thinking. And that thinking got to list making. Suddenly, Toby had a huge to-do list of things to get done around the house before the little bee came along (I have actually set up a Need To/Want To Get Done list on our corkboard – I love it. Toby wants to punch it).

We want to get the basement set up so that when the baby does come, we have a huge space for our toddler son to play. If I’m upstairs with the baby on an early Saturday morning, Toby and Alex can go play downstairs. If the baby is awake at night and fussy, we can escape to the basement so we don’t wake anyone up.

This past weekend, Toby was signed up for the Tough Mudder challenge with my brother. Three weeks ago, my nesting brain got to thinking: “What if I put this room together when he’s gone?” And so the planning began.

I confided to my friend who helped with the planning process. I purchased couches from a local lady and stored them at my sister’s house. I lied about playdates to go pick up picture frames in Ottawa via Kijiji. I even faked a gallbladder attack.

Then the weekend arrived. My friend was to come over Friday evening to begin the process, but I got slammed with two gallbladder attacks on Thursday that left me in a bad spot for most of Friday. But following two trips to the ER, I was given the okay, and decided that the project will keep my mind off the fun that’s going on inside my body.

I didn’t really fake the gallbladder attacks.

Friday and Saturday evenings as well as Saturday naptime was used to clean and set up the room. Here’s what we put together in that time:

Basement finish 1

Basement finish 2

Basement finish 3

We divided the room up into three parts: Toby’s office area, a television/sitting area (tv to come) and a play area. The middle of the room will essentially be used for hockey/soccer/running.

We worked on a photo collage, as well as set up an artwork corner of Alex’s crafts and found a way to hang the race medals we’ve collected over the years. I now just need to dig out the rest of them!

When Toby hobbled into the house Sunday morning, Alex and I were playing downstairs. Toby was shocked and loved what was done with the place. But I realized the space is actually more for Alex, as it will give him that place to play, especially in the winter when we’re stuck indoors.

It feels like we have a new house as we begin the use this space more often.

So, that takes one thing off the to-do list. Only 12 more to go…


Have you ever done a surprise room makeover?




February’s Focus: Our Dog is Fat.

Meet Tux. Our dog.

He was the bait used for my husband’s wedding proposal and he’s been in our lives for nearly five years. He was our first baby and when he wasn’t cuddled between us in bed (so sad – for all parties), he would be on walking or swimming excursions. Why? Because we didn’t have a child, so he got our full attention.

Let’s photo montage his life:

2010: Spoiled.

2010: Spoiled.

2011: Super Spoiled.

2011: Super Spoiled.

2012: five days prior to baby's arrival. A little uncertain, but still spoiled.

2012: five days prior to baby’s arrival. A little uncertain, but still spoiled.

2014: Sad.

2014: Sad.

Many new parents will tell you: when the baby arrives, the dog doesn’t thrive.

Although we’ve continued to give Tux two walks a day, the time and distance that once went into those walks got cut short thanks to exhausted owners with poor excuses.

Since the fall, Tux – who has Grade 3 hip dysplasia – developed a weird skin rash. He was also gaining weight and was often anxious.

My wake-up call about Tux’s health came when we spent… wait for it…. ready? oh, Jebus….$600 on vet bills two weeks ago to find out what was wrong with him.

We got a thyroid test done and new x-rays on his hips. To be fair, it had been four years since his last x-ray, so this was a “let’s see how much out of the socket his hip bone currently is” check up (grammar slammars,  go crazy).

$600 later and the vet’s verdict? He’s fat.

His tests came back just fine and his hips are about the same. But, as the vet told me, Tux is overweight and needs to lose 12 lbs.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I replied to the vet while handing Tux mittfuls of bacon.

I looked at his file and he’s gained 15 lbs over a year and a half.

I’m actually astounded by this number, especially because he gets absolutely no treats at home and we do get him out every day (see? more excuses!).

The vet said before we consider any option for his hips, we need to get him down 12 lbs. This is good for his health and helps alleviate his hip pain.

And so….February’s Focus of The Month: Doggy Boot Camp.

For the next month, I’m going to work at getting Tux’s weight down. This includes at least an hour of walks each day and picking up any of the food our baby chucks on the floor rather than allowing Tux to get at it (okay, so I guess that counts as treats).

Like anyone who’s online and on a fitness kick, I’ve posted some “Before” pics:

The required: "stand in front of a wall" photo

The required: “stand in front of a wall” photo


I’m a numbers loser, so I actually measured the dog.

I know, it’s just a sad house over here.

Hips: 28.5 inches

Largest part of his tummy: 33.5 inches

Weight: 85 lbs.

We’re actually already a week in and, guess what? No guess. Guess again. Guess again. Just guess. One more guess.

Tux is happier, has more energy and his anxiety has reduced.


I wanted to blog about this for a few reasons. I’m going to discover different ways to get our dog in shape, and it’s a preview for any couples considering getting a dog when they know they’ll be having kids in the near future. Here’s your potential future reality. I’ve faced a lot of post-baby dog guilt and Tux has been pushed to the side. It’s life, and I get that. But he didn’t ask for it.

We’re $600 poorer, but at least we got the wake-up call that our dog needs to lose the weight. I’ll check in on how we’re doing at sticking to our dog’s health plan.


How do you keep your dog in shape?

Do you want to share $600 with me?