Monday, March 2, 2015

Apparently I have a lot of hangups.

I am in the middle of too many projects.  Really.  Waaaaaaay too many projects.  I hate unfinished projects, and yet I can't seem to get them done.  I mostly blame the weather and the subsequent winter blues.  I just have a hard time focusing on one thing when I'm in a mood.  But I'm hoping to buckle down and just get them all accomplished during the month of March, before warmer weather hits and I have the urge to start something new!

The Project:  First up, a lamp.  When Brian's Grandma moved out of her home, I snatched a wall lamp that was up for grabs.  It's painted and the shade is updated, but I'm still not loving it.
The Hangup:  I'm just not sure what I want to do with it.  So for now it's hanging on the wall and I'm waiting for inspiration to come to me.

The Project:  I grabbed these 2 chairs off of Craigslist for $10.  They've been painted and reupholstered, but there's a funky part in the back that I need to do something with.  I'm thinking piping along the edges or something like that.  
The Hangup:  Piping/cording will require getting out my sewing machine.  Why is this a hangup?  I have no idea.  

The Project:  The boys' bathroom.  The walls are painted, the vanity and counter is painted, new faucet is installed, and few pictures are on the walls.  Brian replaced a light, but needs to add a few more because it's a very, very dark room.  The vanity needs a few paint touch-ups,  The walls need a bit more art and I have an idea for some cute shelves.  
The Hangup:  Brian needs time to do the electrical stuff, and he doesn't have a whole lot of time these days.  Art and touch-ups require paint.  Why is this a hangup?  Again, I have no idea.  

The Project:  These nesting tables were one of my favorite projects from the summer.  But they're chipping.  Boo.  Judging from the cardboard in the photo, I don't think I primed them, so I'm going to have to go back and fix them a bit.  Priming is a super important step here people.  Learn from my mistakes!
The Hangup:  I need the weather to be warm in order  to do any of this, and the temp is currently in the single digits.  Finally, a legitimate hangup!  

The Project:  The fireplace revamp is actually pretty well underway.  It just needs a little more tweaking and some touch-ups.  See the white paint on the top of the black part of the fireplace?  I thought that this was covered by the front of the fireplace.  Guess what?  I was wrong.  I'm also playing with a decorative finish on the white.  
The Hangup:  The black, high-heat paint that I bought was spray paint, so I need to buy some that I can paint on instead.  It runs $14ish for a can, and our budget for home stuff like this is currently $0.  So that part is on hold til we sell our other house.  The decorative finish requires getting out the paint.  Again with not knowing why this is a hangup.   

The Project:  This one.  This one is pretty huge.  Since we moved in, the office has been a big, giant dumping ground.  Anything that didn't have a "home"  landed in there.  On the ground.  It was looking like something off of an episode of Hoarders and I couldn't handle it for one more second.  The floor is clear, but I still have a long way to go to get it organized and find everything a home.  
The Hangup:  3 little munchkins.  There's something about this room that makes my kids come running when I enter.  I usually only get 20 minutes or so to work at a time, so it's a very very very slow process.  I feel good about what we've done so far though!  

The Project:  Suuuuuuper old picture, but see those big, beautiful windows in there?  They're still screamin' for some curtains.  Hardware is sitting in the basement and fabric is sitting in the office.  I just need to sew the curtains.

The Hangup:  I honestly have no idea why the concept of getting out my sewing machine is such an issue for me.  I'm obviously a big fat weirdo.

The other hangup?  This.  There's always laundry, vacuuming, and dishes to be done!  My goal is to have all of these projects done by the end of March.  Who wants to put money on it????

Thursday, February 26, 2015

New stuff underfoot!

While mopping the floor yesterday, I realized that I never posted about our new floors!  Our home was a foreclosure, and before putting it on the market, the bank painted the entire house a lovely peachy beige and installed new beige carpet throughout the whole house.  Sadly, our dogs completely trashed the carpet in a matter of months.  Whether it was the adjustment to a new space, the scent of the previous owners' dogs coming from the sub-floor, or the fact that our 8 year old dogs are just un-potty-trained assholes, the peed on the carpet.  A lot.  And you can only clean giant puddles of dog pee out of the carpet so many times before it's just ... done.  

I'd been researching flooring options for quite some time and trying to decide how to get several hundred square feet of flooring for practically pennies.  We considered painting or staining the sub-floor, and did quite a bit of experimenting with ideas.  Ultimately, we needed to find out what kind of shape the floor was in before we made any decisions.  And one day I decided that I couldn't live one more day with the nasty carpet and we ripped that crap outta there.  Turns out, the sub-floor was in just so-so shape.  Not terrible, but not great.  

I pondered a little more and one day stumbled upon a really great sale at Lumber Liquidators.  A 6mm laminate flooring called Donar Oak for $0.29 per square foot. It was a really pretty, albeit cheap, laminate flooring.   I tried to place an order, but they were all sold out.  Womp Womp.  I called the store on the off chance that they had some in stock and the awesome store manager told me that they run sales like fairly often and let me know when to check the website for another sale.  


A few weeks later, I found an even better sale than the first one -- $0.19 per square foot for a 6mm laminate called Black Forest Oak.  It wasn't as pretty as the Donar Oak, but it was CHEAP.  So I ordered enough for the family room and living/dining room and then waited for awhile -- a few weeks, to be exact. The people at Lumber Liquidators were wonderful and kept me updated throughout my waiting period.  Eventually, I got a call from my local Lumber Liquidators store manager informing me that they were still waiting for half of my order to arrive (it looks like they are out of the Black Forest Oak still/again), but that they had enough stock of the Donar Oak (my original choice) to fill my whole order.  Ummmm, OK!!  

We picked it up from the store that day and also picked up some Blue Hawk underlayment from Lowe's.  We didn't want to go with anything super expensive because BUDGET or anything super cheap because KIDS and DOGS and NOISE.  Brian and his friend got it all installed in a weekend.  It was very easy and would have been possible to get done in a day had they not had 3 little helpers!  Those helpers are super cute though, so they rolled with it.  (I didn't document their process because there are a million tutorials out there for laminate flooring installation.  Shanty 2 Chic did a pretty good one that you can find here.)

We are loving, loving, LOVING the floor.  It's beautiful, cleans easily, and hides dust and dirt very well between vacuum sessions.  And it was cheap!  With 3 little boys and 3 dogs, I'd rather something cheap get ruined than something expensive.  We won't always have 3 dogs and eventually those little boys will grow into big boys and if the floors are shot, I'll consider it money well spent.  The underlayment we chose has been lovely so far and we're happy with the choice.  It's not echo-ey or hollow sounding or anything.  

In case you're wondering about the budget breakdown...

9 Boxes (approx 600 sq ft) Donar Oak Laminate Flooring - $120.71
6 Rolls Underlayment - $284.94
Grand Total - $405.65 

That's roughly $0.68 per square foot!  Not half bad, if you ask me, especially since it barely took 8 hours worth of work.  I think that prepping and painting/staining both rooms would have taken well over double that amount of time, and most likely for not much cheaper.  So I'm pretty happy with our results!  

We haven't installed new baseboards yet, but I'm leaning toward a nice, simply, high baseboard like in the photo above.  I like to chew on things for awhile before I pull the trigger, so this piece is sitting in the family room so I can decide if I like the feel of it.  In the mean time, we're lovin' the floors!

**For the record, Lumber Liquidators and Lowe's have no idea who I am.  Just passing along info on products I'm diggin'.  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Motherhood has made me fickle.

Since the birth of my oldest 5 years ago, I've often found myself wishing away the years.

Maybe not wishing that they'd disappear completely, but at least speed up a bit.  It usually comes in rather innocent thoughts - When they can all do "this" or "that", life will be so much easier.  

When they sleep through the night.

When they are onto solid food.

When they drop to one nap.  

When they're walking independently.  

When they can follow simple directions.

When I can trust them alone for more than 30 seconds.

When they're potty trained.  

When they're REALLY potty trained and can hold it for more than 4 seconds.

No, REALLY.  More like 4 minutes.  

When they go to preschool.  

When they can buckle their own car seat belts.

When they can help with chores.

When they go to real school.  

You get the idea.

Eventually you hit those milestones and it does get easier.  Don't get me wrong.  With two 3 year old boys and a 5 year old boy, it's still complete chaos.  But a slightly more controlled chaos.  

And in that chaos, I find the time to look at old photos and reminisce about how quickly my babies have grown into these cool little people.  People who sleep through the night and eat normal food and pee in the bathroom (even if it's more often around the toilet than actually in the toilet).  I long for the sweet baby days.  I rejoice with every step toward more independence.  It's a constant tug between the two.

I'm not going to tell you that you shouldn't think that way.  It's normal and natural and, sweet Jesus it's helpful.

See, those "speed it up" thoughts aren't bad.  They're one of many ways that Moms stay sane in the most trying moments. We just need to remind ourselves that it won't always be this kind of hard.  I think we all know that motherhood is hard.  And will always be hard.  But this kind of hard won't last forever.  The sleepless nights, the diapers, the complete dependence.  Eventually they will end.  And a different kind of hard thing will take their place.  We know this, but in that moment, we just need to remind ourselves that this - this hard thing that we're doing right now - it will not last for forever.

So while we're snuggling our babies at 3:00 a.m., it's fine to look forward to nights of 6 hours of sleep.  While we're up to our elbows in poopy diapers, it's perfectly acceptable to hope that your kid will decide to ditch the diapers at 18 months old.  When you're bundling and lifting and strapping your babies into their carseats for the 4 millionth time in a day, it's cool to dream of the days when they can hop in and buckle themselves, only requiring a check and a tighten from you.

Eventually all of those things happen.  The day comes when you ask your kiddo to go potty, get his shoes on, and buckle up his seat ... and he does it.  All three of them do it.  And all of the sudden you're wondering where the years went.  It feels like you blinked and the years flew by like minutes.  A tiny part of you wishes you could hold that tiny baby in your arms again.  But just a tiny part, because those sleepless nights were a bitch.  See?  Fickle.  We're all just fickle.

Those sweet little old ladies in the Target checkout line who pull you aside while your babies are grabbing things off the shelves while running in opposite directions to tell you to "cherish these times because they fly by too quickly"?  They can't help it.  They mean well.  It's just that motherhood (and probably subsequent grandmotherhood) makes you fickle.

So let's just roll with it, shall we?  Let's enjoy our big kids and our little kids and our babies.  Let's complain about the tough spots, look forward to the bright spots, and reminisce about our sweet babies.  Let's embrace the fickle.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Live life ... together.

You may or may not know this, but I am a Mary & Martha Consultant.  I've mentioned it here on the blog before, but I try not to jam it down anyone's throat.  Truth be told, I'm a horrible salesperson.  But the messages Mary & Martha bring to consultants and customers is a beautiful one.  I wanted to share this newsletter I recently sent to my customers, as it speaks to something else I'm not very good at - opening my home to others. I love to get together with friends, but seldom feel that my house is in "good enough" condition to invite people in.  This newsletter explains a bit more about my goal to conquer these insecurities!  Please enjoy! 

When was the last time that you invited someone into your home?
  I'm not talking about your family, your best friend, or anyone who you wouldn't mind seeing your dirty laundry.  I'm talking about those people in your life who you always mean to spend more time with, but never invite over for coffee.  

You know, because you tell yourself you'll invite them after you tackle the giant pile of laundry that's spilling out of the laundry room.  Or after your husband finally gets around to putting up the new baseboards in the family room.  Or after you save enough money to remodel the kitchen because it's just not good enough for company.  Yes, these are all excuses that I have used at one point or another in my life.  (Alright, in the last week!)
But you know what?  I'm ready to change that.  I'm ready to invite people in.


I'm going to tone down my inner "Martha" (mine is kind of a loud mouth) and channel my inner "Mary".

I'm going to quit worrying about the missing baseboards and the really dysfunctional kitchen.  I'm going to take a minute to vacuum up the dog hair, throw in another load of laundry, and shove the rest of it into the laundry room ... an
d close the door.  I'm going to make some coffee, pour it into my mismatched mugs and serve it to friends.

And then?  I'm going to enjoy myself.

That's the beauty of the story of Mary and Martha in the bible and of the message we share here with Mary & Martha.  Stop fussing.  Love others by welcoming them, serving them, and finally, being with them

​So why am I telling you all of this?  No, I'm not going to tell you that buying Mary & Martha products will make it easier to entertain.  Prettier?  Yes.  Simpler?  Maybe. Really, really easy?  No.  (Except for the paper bakeware.  That is legitimately easier. I mean, who likes washing dishes??  Not this girl!)
For me, it's the messages.  The messages of Mary & Martha products remind us of God's love for us and of the love that we share with one another.  They are simple, yet powerful messages. 
I hope that you will join me on this journey of opening our homes to others.  If that means that you would like to host a Mary & Martha Gathering, please let me know.  It'll be the easiest "party" you ever throw.  Pinky swear.

If a Gathering isn't right for you right now?  That's fine too.  Just take one step and invite a neighbor or new friend into your home.  I'm going to do it too.  Let's love God through loving others.  Together.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tastes change. In ice cream AND in paint colors.

Isn't it funny how our tastes change over time?   I mean, butter pecan ice cream used to remind me of my Grama, because she loooooooves some butter pecan.  But now?  It's my ice cream of choice. Maybe that means I'm getting old?  Oh well. 

 Anyway .... let's talk paint.  One thing we noticed while getting our old house ready to sell, was just how different the color palette is from our new house.

When we moved into our first home, we knew that we would repaint every single wall.  And we would do so rather quickly.  We had a nice double income, no kids, and oodles of time to make it our own!

That house was built in 1930 and had beautiful, original wood trim throughout.  The colors we chose were deep, rich, and cozy.  They looked gorgeous against the wood trim and I just LOVED choosing a new color for each room, often choosing several colors.  

When I compare these colors to everything that I've put into our current home so far (and those that I'm planning on using!), I can't help but notice how insanely different they are!  The thing I really, really love about our current home is how much light shines in through the giant windows.  The house is newer, open concept, the trim is all white, and I just cannot bear the thought of putting a dark, cozy color on the walls.  I want light, bright, neutral colors - grays, greiges, blues, aquas, and whites.

While the difference in trim colors and the age of the home definitely make a difference in color choices, I think a lot of it has to do with a simple change in tastes and design style.

I love the airy quality that these paint colors bring to an already light and bright home.  And yet, I try really hard to make sure that the colors still bring a cozy quality.  Sherwin-Williams Silverplate was perfect for achieving this in the Living Room/Dining Room.  

Even interior rooms with no natural light feel fresh and homey with the right colors.  I love the color of our half bathroom (Pantone Illusion Blue) for that very reason.  

The family room gets the most light of any in the house, and also has the tallest ceiling, so I wanted something airy, yet cozy.  Sherwin-Williams Aqua-Sphere (tinted at 50%) was exactly what I was going for.  Since this photo was taken, we installed new flooring, have a new rug, and changed up the look of the fireplace.  And we rearranged the furniture.  Maybe I'll try to rid the room of toys and clothes today so that I can take a new photo.

The point?  It's so much fun to compare colors.  Admittedly, I'm a color person, but I think it's so interesting that the style, size, etc of a home can affect the colors you choose.  And beyond that, tastes and preferences change throughout the years!  Funny how a coat of paint can change to feel of it all.

Have you rolled any paint onto the walls in your home lately?

Old House

Shoreline Haze - Valspar - 6008-1B
Drumskin - Valspar - 7003-10
Ginger Spice - Valspar - retired color
Smooth Pebble - Valspar - retired color
Filoli Ballroom - Valspar - 5005-4A
Green Peppercorn - Valspar - 5005-4B
Enchanted Navy - Valspar - 4010-8
Gravity - Valspar - 4005-1B
Fired Earth - Valspar - 6011-1
LaFonda Geranium Red - Valspar - 1010-4
Boysenberry - Valspar Signature - CI129

Faint Maple - Valspar - 2008-9C

New House

Silverplate - Sherwin Williams - 7649
Aqua-Sphere (tinted @ 50%) - Sherwin Williams - 7613
Tinsmith - Sherwin Williams - 7657
Pantone Illusion Blue - Valspar - PN8010
Blue Coal - Valspar - 4011-3
Crucible - Valspar - 4006-2B
Watery - Sherwin Williams - 6478
Lattice - Sherwin Williams - 7654
Naval - Sherwin Williams - 6244

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Taking photos with 3 wiggly little boys.

I haven't updated much on my little studs lately, I mean, other than the super overdue birthday party posts, so I thought I'd take a minute to throw some photos at you.  Because I gave birth to the 3 cutest creates on earth and it would be unfair to deprive you of their cuteness ;)

I have about a million candid photos of the boys just doing their thing in life, with disheveled hair, dirty faces, and whatever clothes they've chosen for themselves that day.  So occasionally, I get in the mood to try to capture a photo of 3 clean, well-dressed little boys with smiles on their faces and eyes on the camera.  This is, of course, no easy task, so I now know that I have to go into this task with a plan!

Every time I get my kids into semi-matching clothes and attempt to get some cute photos of them, I know that it's going to be a .... challenge.  

Before even getting them dressed, I decide on a location and try to get my camera settings all set.  Because once they are dressed and plopped where I want them, I will have approximately 5 minutes to jump around, tell crazy jokes, and bribe them into letting me get just one decent photo.  

While I fine-tune my settings again, I tell them to make silly faces.  Which always works.  

Then we move on to hugs and snuggles.  I usually try to get a nice, sharp shot of their feet too, because I have a thing for kiddo feet.  Not adult feet.  Gross.  But my kids' feet are flippin' adorable.  

Then I switch my focus to their faces to try to catch hugs and happy faces.  Of course, it inevitably develops into silliness and wrestles.  Because BOYS.  

When I ask for smiles?  I get really, really forced ones.  And usually some funny faces, lack of looking at the camera, and deliberate eye closing.  

So I try to just tell jokes, and use lots of potty humor.  Because again, BOYS.  

The sillies continue of course, but eventually, hopefully, if the planets align and all is right in the world, I'll tell the perfect joke about poop or boogers or something and I'll get some really, awesome, genuine smiles.  

And then the 5 minute window of opportunity closes.  But it doesn't matter because while the final product is adorable, the photos of the process are priceless!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brennan's Construction Birthday Party!

After writing about the boys' birthday parties this year, I realized that I never shared Brennan's Construction party from last year!  And I cannot just let it go, because that was a really, REALLY fun party to put together.  

We had just moved from Florida to Michigan and were living with Brian's parents' while we searched for a new home of our own.  So I had plenty of time to put together a really fun party for our little 4 year old!

Decorations were a blast to put together.  We used black paper lanterns as "wrecking balls" and coils of orange raffia as " extension cords".  Since the boys have lots of construction trucks, we had lots available to decorate the table!

The menu included all kinds of snacks.  Friends, I had SO.MUCH.FUN coming up with all of these names.  Some were from things I had seen on Pinterest, others I came up with on my own.  Here's the rundown:

Construction Cones = Candy Corn
Pebbles = Reese Pieces
Gravel = Puppy Chow
Lumber = Vanilla Wafer Cookies
Spackle & Drywall = Hummus & Pita Chips
Nuts & Bolts = Chex Mix
Beams & Concrete = Carrots & Dip
Bricks & Mortar = Crackers & Cheeseball
Landscaping = Broccoli Salad
Debris = Chicken Salad
Wrecking Balls = Rolls
Rocks & Stones = Homemade Chicken Nuggets

We served lemonade at the "Cooling Station", had a Dumping station for gifts, and put out all of Brennan's construction books for his friends to read while at the party.

The cake was by far my favorite part!  I picked up a pack of construction vehicles to decorate the "construction site".   The giant crack in the center of the cake was a happy accident.  Brennan thought that it was awesome, so I rolled with it!

This big guy loved his construction party.  We had hardhats for the kids and Brennan had a blast handing one out to each of his friends.  And of course his brothers had a blast too, because what 2-year-old boy wouldn't?

Daddy even dressed up in his hardhat and toolbelt, like a "real construction guy" according to Brennan.  That just elevated Daddy right past superhero status in his mind!  It was definitely a day full of great memories for our little family!