We are going to be renovating the bathroom, the laundry room, and the whole plumbing system in the house. The bathroom and the laundry room will switch places. That way, while we are tearing apart the laundry room, we will still have the old bathroom to use. When the new bathroom is ready, we will tear apart the old bathroom and convert it to the laundry room. The biggest problem with this plan is that we will be without the use of the washer and dryer for almost the whole time, no small feat for a family that averages five extra large loads of laundry a day.

Having decided upon the basic outline of the work, the next step was to dig a hole in the basement. Huh? Well, in order to work on the laundry room, the washer, dryer, and freezer have to be moved out of there and stored somewhere else. In addition, since we have no garage, a place had to be cleared to store the materials needed for the job. In both cases, that place was the den. But the den is the place where the boys do their strength training, as well as being home to two desks with computers on them. It was decided that the weights would be moved downstairs to the basement, but the basement has a low ceiling and the boys couldn’t do their overhead presses without hitting the ceiling. So, they dug out the dirt floor to a depth of one foot, in an 4 by 8 foot area. They are going to put a sheet of plywood down as a temporary floor, and that is where they will soon be “doing their weights.” The two desks, belonging to Rundy and Arlie, have been moved upstairs to what we refer to as “the baby’s room.” Of course, we had to dismantle the crib first,as well as move a lot of miscellany out of there. This all got done in the space of three days, most of the credit going to Rundy’s ambition and energy.

I had been checking books out of the library, researching materials and how-to. Now it was time for Ivan and me to do some serious research at the local do-it-yourself centers. We spent a whole day looking and taking notes. Durability was our primary criterion for selection, then ease of cleaning and repair. Of course, that was our first go-round. We reviewed our notes and narrowed down our choices. We are still making purchases, trying to avoid bottlenecks in the actual work by having everything on hand (especially the stuff that needed to be ordered) before we get started. (Who wants to be without a washer any longer than necessary?)

It is fun to pick things out that reflect your own tastes and priorities, but it is also exhausting and anxiety-producing. I get very afraid that I will make a mistake, either forgetting to get something or getting the wrong thing. I am currently obsessing over the cabinets. Most lines of bathroom cabinets don’t seem to provide the kind of storage I know we need, so I am considering going to the kitchen cabinets and getting a pantry type cabinet. We really couldn’t figure out a way to build in a linen closet, so the cabinets have to provide that storage. And since they are one thing that must be ordered, there is more time pressure on me to make a decision.

I am also spending a lot of time pondering the least important aspect of the whole remodel: the pretty stuff. I have fallen in love with a wallpaper border that is both expensive and, it appears, discontinued. (You can see it at . It is made by Waverly, from a book called The New York Botanical Gardens, but I can’t find it at the Waverly website.) My original thought, before I found a border I liked, was to use the background from the border as the paint color for the walls, and pick another color from the border to paint the trim. Then, exercising really wishful thinking, I wanted to find matching fabric to make a valance and a windowshade, and find a shower curtain to match. Once I found “my” border at the website mentioned above and figured out the price, I had to wonder if it was worth the money. Also, I have yet to find fabric or a shower curtain that coordinates well. So I am up in the air about all of it. I did get a sample of the border, and I am going to match the paint, but whether I actually get the border . . . might just depend on what the bottom line looks like after everything else is done.

So the demolition of the laundry room is scheduled for this Sunday, which means Saturday is our last day to do laundry. After that . . . a triple loader at the laundromat costs $3, and I estimate it will hold two of our usual loads. You can do the math as well as I.

In the meantime, our furnace broke down on Saturday. The repairman couldn’t show up until that afternoon, and the part needed wasn’t available till Monday. We borrowed a kerosene heater and set it up in the basement to keep the pipes from freezing, and it managed to keep the rest of the house to a tolerable level, because the wind wasn’t blowing and the temperature wasn’t all that bad. But still, it was one more thing to add to the general stress level.