Tonight I was showing our 2 oldest kids (Mazzy 9 and Declan 8) the plans for the house. They, of course, were concerned about their bedrooms. They wanted to know if they would get the coveted balcony (no way) and how close they are to the bathroom (very close). Declan was especially impressed with the fact that he will be able to use the toilet in privacy while someone else might be brushing their teeth. He then asked if the doors would close automatically and if we there were any secret slides or hidden passageways. The conversations with Mazzy and Declan are a refreshing change of pace from the harsh reality of budget limitations and hard choices.Speaking of toilets and automation....last week at the MN AIA convention, I did check out some cool toilets by TOTO. They were demonstrating the "washlet" feature, which is basically like a car wash for your bottom. Very cool and interesting. When I mentioned this to the family, Mazzy mentioned that one of her friends that had just returned from a trip to Japan said that one of his favorite parts of the trip was the butt wash. Apparently these babies are all the rage in Japan. While we may not decide to include some of the potential features of these space age toilets, we will be incorporating low flow and dual-flush options on our toilets and low flow aerators on the sinks and showers in order to reduce our water use by 50% or more. This isn't just about saving money. There's only so much potable, fresh water available in the world and we see no reason to flush much of it down the toilet - especially when so many people on our planet cannot access clean, safe drinking water to meet even their most basic needs. We've considered installing a greywater recycling system in the house, but making this work in a remodeling project proved problematic. More about this later.