Thursday, September 29, 2011

My Pretty New Mudroom :)

A month or so ago we finished (mostly) re-making our old laundry room (during the bathroom remodel we made Matt's closet over into a new upstairs laundry, freeing up this space). As you can maybe tell from the before pictures, it was a cramped, crowded, always messy transition space from the garage into the house - performing neither the job of laundry nor mudroom very well. Four coat hooks is not enough for a family of six, that basket on the shelf was holding hats and mittens for 4 kids plus Matt - no one could find anything -  and there was a constant pile of shoes on the floor....

The washer and dryer were always piled with stuff the kids had dumped on it, or things waiting to be washed, and the two cabinets weren't big enough to hold all the things we needed them to...

 It was an awkward narrow room with two doors opening into it.
 As you can imagine, as soon as my upstairs laundry was functional, the washer and dryer were hauled immediately out to the garage, and we finally had some breathing room! The first thing I did was find a church pew on ebay that fit our space - a place to sit and take your shoes on and off. Next I bought a 3x4' cubed shelf unit at the unfinished furniture store & painted it black - goodbye rickety old shoe rack, hello everyone gets there own shoe space. And finally, back in late July/early August, Matt pulled down the cabinets, pulled up the floor, and we got busy renovating. I love me a Handy Hubby!

Matt spent one weekend tiling the room - it's only about 6 ft by 8 ft so one weekend was plenty - and the next weekend he put up beadboard & trim, replaced the baseboards, and made me a shelf for above. I think I finished painting the room the Thursday before we left for the beach (that was fun, having one day to pull everything together and pack). And finally after the beach, he made me ginormous wall cabinets to go above & hold a lot of the bigger kitchen items I have no room for and other what-not.

It's still a tiny space and hard to get picture of, but here's where we are today :)
View coming in the door from the garage
Beadboard is painted swiss coffee and walls are Celery from Lowes' Valspar collection. Tile is from Lowes as well, a slate-looking porcelain called midnight copper; rug is from JC Penney.
View from the house headed out to the garage
The pillow and all bins are from Target; church pew from Ebay, pillow top hooks are flat black and ordered somewhere online - all the stores seemed to have was oil-rubbed bronze.
Everyone gets a bin for mittens/hats/swim goggles/what-have-you. Metal frames are from the scrapbooking section at Michaels, letters printed using the Twilight font :)

My ginormous shelves that still need doors.

We replaced the old fluorescent light fixture with a semi-flush light before Matt had built the cabinets, not realizing that it would interfere with the cabinet doors. I then spent a week searching for a light that would be bright enough, yet shallow enough, to suit me. Choices are slim, but I found one, and am waiting for it to be installed...
Shoe cubbies! And yes, Evie still leaves her shoes on the floor :(

A catch-all for keys and sunglasses, and a picture that makes me happy
A place to sit and remove your shoes, or have a quiet phone call
Room below for a boot tray for wet/muddy things; or Matt's shoes that don't fit in his bin.
And finally - the exterior door to the garage, I painted it black. Because it was mostly black anyway, what with all the scuffs and scrapes on it. We're waiting for the paint to cure before we add a kickplate to it (to cover up the dents from where people have KICKED it...) and here is where I have a question:
I'd like to put something in vinyl in the center of the door, but it seems silly to put our house number in the garage; I could go with 'welcome' (and may end up doing that yet) but I'm looking for suggestions - Hello on one side, Goodbye on the other? Help me out here, I'm really not that clever :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Talk to us Tuesday: Meh.

Hi. It's been awhile - I think. I'm not really sure, as I had a hernia repaired a week ago & have been taking various & assorted painkillers since then. You may have guessed, I'm not Heidi Klum and having four kids did a number on my abdomen and - well, let's just say I wasn't walking the catwalk 6 weeks after giving birth (she's not human, I swear.) Anyway! Since I haven't been doing much of anything, I haven't had much to say. Been feeling kind of like this:

Happily, today I got the all clear to start easing back into the swing of things, and it's a relief to be able to leave the house and DRIVE again, even if I can't fully get back to my routine just yet. Although really? The housecleaning I'm happy to let wait :)

Since I have no pictures to share (I still don't have it in me to cull through our beach trip yet) I thought I'd share some Kid Bits:

Evie, the girl who wants to do everything until it gets hard, has decided she wants to quit Tae Kwon Do and do gymnastics. Or even better, take horseback riding lessons. Evie apparently thinks our sole purpose is to shuttle her around and pay for whatever her dream activity of the month is. She begged us for 3 years to take karate, and 9 months later she's over it.

William thinks he can't read because he's 'stupid'. William is lazy. William will drag his feet and drag his feet and drag his feet until he's wasted 2 hours on the 25 minutes of daily homework he has. And then he wonders why he has no free time. We've tried explaining it to him, but he just doesn't seem to get it.

Sarah? Sarah turns 5 on Monday. It seems like she's aged 2 years in the last 2 months - I sometimes think she's more on the ball with what's going on than William is. Heck, Jason is more on the ball than William is.

Jason, my sweet little buddy, after I got him into pjs & we were coming downstairs last night, said to me: 'when your tummy's feeling better can you carry me downstairs?' Absolutely, Jason - without hesitation.

So while I've been taking it easy this week, Matt's been pulling double-duty, trying to work as much as he can in addition to shuttling kids around & doing the heavy lifting. My mom was here last week & was such a big help, but this week we're on our own - thankfully I'm feeling more able to help and less like I need a nap :) (Although  I really enjoyed those naps!)

Linking up with Impulsive Addict and Seriously Shawn today! Go check out what others are talking about...

Monday, September 19, 2011

A-Camping We Will Go

After talking about doing this for at least two years, last weekend we went camping! In a tent! Away from our backyard! After the soccer game, baseball game and morning yard sale, we threw some gear in the back of the van - really, it happened so fast I think we threw it - and headed out for our first night in a tent away from home.

Never having done this before, we made some rookie mistakes - one being we forgot to bring camp chairs, and a table cloth would have been nice - but luckily this was the one night in the last month where there was a chance of rain and it actually DID NOT RAIN. It was a camping miracle!

So we arrived at the campground at about 6pm and had an 1-1/2 hours of daylight to get the tent set up & everything situated. Matt had the kids help him with the tent while I tried to unload & organize what we DID manage to remember to bring...
 Jason had fun running in circles around our site...
 and our home for the night was set up! The camp site next to us had an enormous family of foreigners who proceeded to get louder as the night went on - by the time 11pm quiet time rolled around, I think they were singing. We at first thought they were German, but after running into them all at the bathroom, Matt informed me they were either Japanese or Chinese. Go figure! Singing Asians sound German! Side note - we have no idea where all these people slept, because as we were leaving, we drove past their site & didn't see a single tent or camper there - just a big van, and some easy-up tents. Interesting...
So our night was a bit crazy and rushed, as we'd gotten there so late - we had no chairs to sit on, so Matt and I took turns hunched over the fire circle trying to get the damp wood to burn. It's rained almost every day here for what seems like a month, and the bundles of firewood the campground sold were damp, even though they were stored in a covered building. Thank heaven for cotton balls and vaseline, and a hubby who is handy enough to think of these things. The kids were all wound up because this was all NEW! AND EXCITING! to them and it was tricky to try and get them all settled at the same time. We ended up having them each tell us some stories, and while I knew Evie would do great, William and Jason both really surprised us with the things they came up with! None of which I remember of course, but I do remember really enjoying every minute of it.

So everyone got to sleep, and even though Matt didn't, I slept GREAT! Until 5am when Jason woke up because he'd peed in his sleeping bag. We got him into dry clothes & tucked him in with me, and before long he was back to sleep. Matt and I finally got up around 7, and got another damp fire going; Matt then set up the little stove he's bought for backpacking, and we made our first meal outdoors, a pot of french press coffee and a big pot of oatmeal. Jason said it was the best oatmeal EVER!

I really enjoyed watching the sky get lighter through the trees...
And clearly I need to work on my camp wardrobe, especially footwear.
My little buddy was the last one up, and of course Evie was the first. She's a pro at camping after two summers overnight with the Girl Scouts.
Sarah was surprisingly cheerful that morning!
Once everyone was up and had eaten, we cleaned up & then explored a little bit before packing up to leave...
There's a beautiful lake at this park, and although it was too chilly for swimming, it was a beautiful sunny morning and there was a great playground for the kids where they could be as loud as they wanted at 10am and not disturb anyone else.

William has already asked when we can go back for 'two sleeps', because he really enjoyed it - I asked him what he liked so much about camping, and he said eating oatmeal outside - he'd like to have dinner next :)  All in all, our 24 hour camping adventure went about as well as it could have - we made some mistakes and learned some things, and may be ready to try two nights in the spring. We'll see! It won't be so daunting next time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Air Travel Etiquette - Don't Be This Guy.

So I went on a quick plane trip yesterday - up at 3am, home at 11pm - don't ask - and on the first leg of my flight home, I had the 'pleasure' of sitting directly across the aisle from Sleepy McSlobber. I really have no words for this experience, but I guess I'll give it a go:

I first noticed Sleepy in the gate area, he was sitting at the charging station for cell phones, puffing on an electronic cigarette (what the hell are those things, anyway??) At first I thought it was a real one, but then never smelled any smoke - but anyway - they start boarding the plane, and I settle myself in my tiny little seat - big enough for me to be mostly comfortable, but I'm glad I'm not any taller. Sleepy stumbles in and sits in an exit row with another gentleman. They've closed the cabin door & are asking everyone to get seated when Sleepy realizes he's in the wrong seat, and sits down next to me across the aisle. He's muttering to himself about the crappy seat, nowhere to put his coat (the flight attendant told him to put it on the floor which I LOVED!), reclines his seat even though we haven't taken off yet....I'm looking forward to a great flight! He dumps all the stuff from the seat pocket onto the floor, snorts & wipes his nose on his hand a few times, and proceeds to pass out.
This guy slept through most of the flight - which was a blessing, because 1) it allowed me to take pictures of him and 2) when he was awake he was muttering to himself, guzzling coke and then belching, and constantly snorting and hacking and wiping his nose. I don't know whether he was drunk, high, or just mentally challenged - maybe all three - but it made for quite an experience.
This next picture was my attempt to photograph the drool that was hanging from his lip.
I really felt bad for the seemingly nice man who ended up sitting right next to Sleepy. He didn't roll his eyes a single time, just seemed to find it all funny. I'd have been asking for a change of seat - there were plenty of open ones around us.
So please - if you're traveling in a small enclosed space, don't be this guy. It's no fun for the rest of us  - but it does provide some blog fodder, and you never know who's sitting next to you, taking your picture :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hi from the trenches of life.

Hi! It's been awhile. A while? Awhile. I'm kind of fixated on grammar and spelling at the moment as the kids have started school. I find I'm irritated by the errors in paperwork that comes home. Does no one re-read what they write before they hit 'print'? Spell-check catches spelling errors, but if what you wrote is incorrect or doesn't make sense, it's not going to pick up on that. Not that I'm perfect - I'm not, I've re-read some of the crap I've posted here & later found lots of mistakes - but, I'm usually writing what is essentially my journal after one or two glasses of wine, whereas I'm hoping the teachers aren't. Or maybe they are. I would be, after dealing with a class of 2nd graders all day.

William brought home a note from reading class for me to sign today, apparently he was talking while the teacher was talking. William thinks he can make it through life solely on math. I'm really hoping it sinks in one of these days that his schoolwork is required, and he'll be held back if he doesn't complete it. I've explained that in 2nd grade he now gets letter grades & we'll give him MONEY for every A he brings home. B's bring a lower price; C's get nothing; and D, to borrow a phrase from my BIL, you're DEAD.We'll see how that goes - money is a language William seems to understand. Time, not so much.

So I went shopping for some fall clothes this evening with Evie (William couldn't manage to finish his homework in time to come with us, and that was probably for the best). As a mom of boys and girls, I have to say the girls are getting the short end of the stick with clothing choices - at least once they're out of the toddler years. First of all, finding long sleeves for either boys or girls apparently is tricky right now - is this a way to suck more money out of parents? Short sleeves for spring and again for back to school? We'll hit you up again for long sleeves later? - but for older girls, the choices are either preppy or crappy. And everything seems way overpriced. Anyway. I think we picked up enough to get E&W through the next few dreary days of rain here on the east coast. Happily, Sarah and Jason have plenty of hand-me-downs to tide them over until I figure out what's what. Wardrobing 4 makes me tired :) Those 9 hours I supposedly have now to myself each week? Gone in the blink of an eye. Hopefully it will slow down once I get caught up on all the things I let slide during the summer.

Jason and Sarah are doing great in preschool, although Jason never wants to get out of the car at morning drop-off. At pick-up time, when you ask him how it went, he always says 'Great!' and immediately wants to show you the papers in his backpack. Sarah's a pro at all this, and really seems to enjoy her morning learning, and always comes home singing a new song - I'm so happy to finally have a singer in the family, Evie never did, and while William enjoys listening to music, he's not one to sing throughout the day. Sarah singing makes my heart happy :)

So things here are humming along, getting into the homework & fall sports routine;  and cake season has begun, one birthday down and four to go before Thanksgiving, I'm trying to wrap up some house projects in my 'free' 9 hours, and hope to share some soon, along with our trip to the beach. I was looking at pictures from last fall when I ran the half marathon & am now thinking I need to cut back on the wine (as I type with one eye closed) and lose 7 lbs once and for all. Maybe that will help me get my act together and get busy on my to-do's. Here's hoping!

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