Friday, November 20, 2015

Home sweet House Paint

We've never been crazy about the outside of our house, but painting a house is a big and kinda pricey job (I am always boggled by the price of paint!) so we've put it off. Until now! After participating against his will in yet another Project Paintbrush Joe, where people come together to paint a house in one day, Joe was raring to paint our house! But then he was hunting two weekends in a row, then I had some crazy busy weekends, and then we found ourselves closing in on the end of November but still! Determination and a lucky few days of nice weather won out.
Our beginning. The paint scheme was fine... but dated. And the paint was old and chipping so it needed new paint anyway. We came up with THIS:

 Two people. Two weekends. Two coats of paint, and a wholes new house!
 We like it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dresser refinish

A few weeks ago we took a weekend trip to Parker to visit Kari and Jonathan. Kari had been bitten by the furniture refinishing bug right about the time they moved because new furniture is crazy expensive and generally has no personality, but their new home was significantly larger and would need plenty of new furniture! So she purchased and sanded and painted to her heart's content but when the house was done the projects continued - it's just so much fun to breath new life into an old piece! So while we were visiting I sanded and painted right alongside her, and had SUCH a good time. We agreed that we were both sad and glad this hadn't been a mania when she was our next door neighbors - we would have been able to do much more together, having unlimited time to do such cool finishes! But we also agree that Pueblo has no market for selling beautiful refinished furniture, and we would have ignored the kids SO much it's probably a very good thing it didn't happen here!

So the weekend finished, and back home I had a new critical eye of my own furniture. Specifically I looked at a dresser from my bedroom that I had previously loved but had been banished to the guest room until I could figure out what to do with it. It was purchased from (of all the random places) K-Mart, about 6 or 7 years ago. It was on clearance for super cheap ($20 or $30),  made primarily of particle board, had wood-on-wood drawer slides, finished with a cherry gel stain and pretty outdated drawers pulls...

But MAN it was functional! It was the perfect height for my nightstand, the 3 drawers were spacious but the piece was small enough and light enough to be useful in almost any room... So I was loathe to get rid of it, but the very basic slides had begun sticking like mad where it just made ME mad. Joe and I went furniture shopping and bought a lovely new 8-drawer dresser (seen in a previous post) and I figured I was done forever with the K-Mart blue light special.

 Until! Until the trip to Kari's. I dragged that dresser back out, stripped the cherry stain off, restained the top, painted the body, and Joe found some metal ball-bearing slides to remove the unbearable stickiness! The dresser would be saved! As with any project there were snafus... Like the drawers slides were actually 1/8th inch too wide, so he had to router out a channel into each drawer. Like the outdated drawer pulls were also cheap and 2 of them broke during re-installation. Like the drawers no longer stuck from bad drawer slides but they stuck because I'd painted around the edge of the drawer front. So more tweaks later, some sanding and some shopping, the drawers glide like a dream and I replaced the pulls with knobs that are to die for! They remind me of sailor buttons.

The dresser is now back in my bedroom (though not as my nightstand)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I Pooky

Halloween is upon us again! I've been working away on a dragon creation for Patrick but was lucky enough to come up with inexpensive yet LOVELY costumes for the other kids, thanks to Goodwill and ebay. The dragon is coming along compliments of Pinterest... Pretty sure I'm never letting Patrick loose on Pinterest again! We've got a dragon head made from milk jugs and paper maché (with a complete tutorial) and some dragon wings (an apt anatomical part, since I'm "winging" it off a picture from an etsy listing).

Whew! My mom claims the kids will be ruined, thinking anyone can just whip out a costume on a whim, but I like to keep it real by throwing in those internet purchases and also making sure my costumes are less than perfect (see how I just pretended I mess up on purpose instead of diving through craftland on a wing and a prayer?).

 I must say, these days have brought out a bit of swagger in my step, though. The cooking time of year is upon us! And I have a jaw jam-packed with sweet teeth, so I've been mixing and baking to my heart's (and teeth's) delight. I always find it rewarding to accomplish multiple creative tasks in one day, and it's even better when one of those crafts can be eaten when the day is done. I've made Kentucky Darby pie, Kansas Dirt, Christmas Crack (my unofficial name for what is essentially Mormon drugs, I'm hooked), and other sundry treats. Treats are great but I love compliments more, so I make massive batches and send them with Joe to work, so I get the best of both worlds!

Ethan is getting in the Halloween spirit - he draped himself in his "white" blanket (it's light green) and walked in the room, announcing "I pooky!" Ahhhhh, you're a spooky ghost! We died laughing.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What comes after tonight?

I had a meeting last night right at bedtime. Caroline was SO SAD that when I came home I did not come straight to her room to tuck her in. In my defense, we had just bought and brought home a new (new! from a store and everything!) dresser, which we had opened minutes before I had to go to that meeting - I hadn't had any time to properly admire it! I thought Caroline was asleep while I admired, but her crying told me otherwise. So I went in to soothe and console and she said "I just never want you to go away again!" Well, poor timing on her wish and I said, "I'll also be gone tomorrow night and Saturday you're going to have a babysitter." She perked up a bit and said, "Well I like having a babysitter so I don't mind if you go away then." Sooooo, you're saying a babysitter is just fine but your own dad is chopped liver, huh? How complimentary!
But then she questioned, "When are you going tonight?"
"I'm not going anywhere else tonight, I'm already home."
"No, I mean tonight, like tonight-morrow."
Bahahahahaha! That will be my new reference of time. Tonight-morrow.

And here's the dresser that cause so much anguish. We haven't rearranged the bedroom yet, so don't mind the cramped look of it all.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Early to rise

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise! It's probably one of the most commonly known precepts (there is bedtime every day, after all) yet maybe not the most followed. I, for instance, hate getting up early. When Patrick was very small he started getting up and staying up at 5 a.m., which he did until after Eli was born then finally settled down and slept tip 6:30, but it nearly killed me! I felt like I was ever after incredibly protective of my morning sleep, preciously guarding it, keeping it away from the prying eyes of children who don't have internal snooze buttons. I was ever grateful when the big kids were able tot ale care of Ethan in the morning, getting him a drink and helping him on the potty. The reason I needed my lie-ins was that I needed my late nights - I felt I needed a minimum of 2 hours (3 was even better) of my own time after the kids went to bed. The boys' bedtime is 8 but often they stay up talking or coming out to ask for something, so let's say the last time I would see a kid was 9:00 - I needed until 11:00 or even midnight to feel like I had completely decompressed from kids for the day. If you're up until midnight you are going to jealously guard those precious sleeping-in hours!

Then two things happened. The least important but most imminent was that summer was coming to a close and school starts at 8:00. I cannot sleep until 7:30 with that over my head. The most important thing was that I read an article from the Ensign, our church magazine, about that very precept: early to bed and early to rise. I don't need much help getting healthy, I already feel pretty smart, and I'm not the one who makes money for our family, so the blessings of the precept were about to fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes, since I was reading) but then the author promised that things that will seem so difficult to do otherwise will begin to be easy. I had a few immediate thoughts - clean house! read scriptures! scrapbook! So I decided to try it.

I set my alarm for 6, dutifully got up, read a few scriptures and went for a quick run around the neighborhood. I'd decided that morning cleaning was out of the question because a) cleaning is not a legitimate reason to get out of bed, and b) cleaning can be loud and if this was my alone time I didn't want to risk waking anybody. Well, only a few minutes after I got back kids were stirring and coming out of their rooms - how disappointing! Now I would be tired at night but had not accomplished the task of having my alone time. I tried 6 a.m. a few more times but I started falling asleep while reading, and I actually HATE running so I gave that up pretty quickly. Before the week was up I was back to 7:30.

Then one morning Joe forgot something in our bedroom before he left for work, and on his way out he kissed me goodbye. It woke me up and I felt pretty well-rested so I decided to get up. Joe leaves at 4:45. This was EARLY. I was not going to read, I was not going to go for even a quick run, but as I was lying in bed I had some ideas for a scrapbook layout. One of the things that is hard for me to find a great time for is scrapbooking - during the day it's busy with kids and meals and yard work and house projects; I need quiet and no interruptions as I work. After kids' bedtimes seems the best solution, but after a long day I am not interested in more time with the kids, even if it is just pictures of the kids. I want alone time in my headspace, too! So more often than not scrapbooking with Netflix on in the background became just plain ol' Netflix all evening. Not productive. But this morning I know the house would be perfectly quiet, my hobby would also be perfectly quiet, I was excited about it, and I would not fall asleep doing it. That morning the kids slept until 8 and I worked, uninterrupted, for 3 hours! Got so much accomplished!

I told Joe the next morning to wake me up again. He did, and I immediately headed to my craft area and began again. An the next day. And the next. I began setting my alarm for 5 just in case Joe forgot to wake me up (which he did one day, but I had gone to bed early the night before [exhausted from getting up at 5 the morning before] and I woke up on my own at 5:20). This was 2 weeks ago, and I have caught up my scrapbooks to RIGHT NOW. This is incredible! I am consistently behind 1-2 years, putting away pictures this summer that were taken last summer or even the summer before. I just kept plugging away figuring NEXT summer I would get around to THIS summer, and it would all get done eventually, but done NOW? It is obvious that the article on getting up early fulfilled its promise - I have been able to accomplish things that seem difficult (impossible, even!) by waking up early.

Other things have gotten easier, too. I don't clean early in the morning but I am finding it easier to keep my house clean. A huge shout-out again to "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," as I continue my tidying journey, but also I feel refreshed by the time the kids ARE up and I can happily and noisily put away those dishes, rather than groggily doling out breakfast and wishing the dishes would magically do themselves. I find it easier to deal with the kids - I have time to remind them of all those things I feel like they should remember already but of course they don't (get dressed before you play, make your bed, brush your teeth before we go) so I'm able to act, not re-act. It doesn't help me get things done, but it is lovely to see the sky lighten as the day comes on. Then at the end of the day, sure enough, I'm tired so I retire to my bed early, and it all begins again.

2 weeks isn't much. I look back at the many years of loving my morning sleep and worry I'll slip back into old habits. But I look at my accomplishments in just 2 weeks and feel very excited each day to get up and accomplish more, so perhaps I am more motivated than I am complacent (which, of itself, is an accomplishment).

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Testimony and self-help books

My mom and sister Elsha read and raved about "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, so naturally I had to read it. My mom bought a copy for Kari, but I short-stopped it for 2 weeks and got nice and involved in the magic of cleaning my own home before I had to give it to the rightful owner. (But don't worry. I took notes).

2 days ago was fast and testimony meeting in church where the time is open and available to member who would like to bear their testimonies. I had some thought I wanted to share but there wasn't a spare moment, and you hate to be the person who makes sacrament meeting run long! I mean, unless you like overwrought mothers sending you eye-daggers and kids screaming in the background... but I don't, so I didn't stand up. Instead, I thought, I could share my thought on my blog.

The two things are connected! Hear me out.  The magic of tidying is that rather than getting rid of the small percentage of things you actively do not like or use, you take everything in a particular category and actively keep the things that bring you joy. The rest can go. Simple as that! You end up naturally and happily ridding yourself of 60-70% of your things, and loving the 30-40% you keep; since they are items you treasure, you will naturally take better care of them. Also, you have fewer things to take care of now, again making it easier to take care of them.

I have long loved de-junking. I have long-loved books on de-junking! It is inspiring to leave a space clean and decluttered (I am then usually inspired to mess it back up, like a clean kitchen is just crying for some cookies!). In spite of my love, my house is often a mess. There's just too much stuff, but taking out a few things at a time never got me on top of the stuff. I love this (she calls it the KonMari method) because it takes a healing approach to your home and its contents - don't wage war on your items; instead, choose the items that inspire you and bring joy. The rest is white noise and can be released - donated or lovingly thrown out, with a farewell of thanks for its hard work. While I was sitting in sacrament meeting, listening to testimonies, I realized that the gospel and my family are the most important things - they bring me joy! Sometimes my home clutters me up, though - all our projects mean saturdays at Lowe's rather than the lake. Cleaning rather than working puzzles together. There needs to be a happy medium, cleaning and projects do need to happen, but I am excited to find joy in my home so I can spend less time on my home, thus spending more time on my family the way I WANT to spend time with my family. Paring down the fluff so I can strengthen myself spiritually instead.

So read a good book today! Any good book. It's bound to give you a boost. If you read Marie Kondo, it may just give you a whole new view on your home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I wuff you too

Ethan is quiet the entertainer! He is ready and willing to provide information, and his bits of info mostly extend to "I'm two-an-a-haff!" and "I'm ti-owd" and "I want chocket miwk wif miwk" From those you can glean that he will soon be turning 3 (it's next month! My mind is boggled), he is a liar (he said "I'm ti-owd" at all hours of the day, including after waking up), and he enjoys himself some chocolate milk but recognizes that I will always cut the strength with more plain milk. He also adamantly expresses, "mom, I wuff you," to which the one and only response is "I love you, too." I can't simply say "I love you" or "you're a special guy" or "how about some chocolate milk with milk?" because he'll insist "no! I wuff you TOO!" until I get it right.

The kids love to tell knock-knock jokes, so Ethan tries to get in on the action. He declares (without taking a breath much less giving you time to participate in the joke, "knock knock! Who der! Moo cow!" And then busts up laughing. It's his take on the "interrupting cow" joke, I guess he really doesn't WANT to be interrupted! Good joke, buddy!

Yesterday he wanted a parrot. It took a lot of pointing on his part to help me understand he wanted a PEAR. A pear-ut.

 Trying to figure out selfies

 Exhausted after a long day at Swim Beach at the reservoir.