Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mantel Makeover and To Dos

Our fireplace wall has been the bane of my existence lately. As I mentioned before, I've hated the rag roll paint since the day we moved in. I tried a few test paints, but nothing looks right. I threw up those swatches back in October, so we're closing in on a year--time to make some progress, I'd say!

I have so many "started but never finished" projects going on, and I'm just sick of looking at all the mess. I am trying to just force the time to get a few done. (Easier said than done, but I'm trying.) And I'm really going to try not to start any additional projects until the following in-progress messes are complete (in no particular order):

1. Paint the fireplace wall.
2. Paint the downstairs bathroom. I tore down most of the wallpaper but never got to the top portion and never painted.
3. Paint the kids' bathroom. I've always hated the bright green that the previous owners put up. I tried a few sample colors but never liked any of them. There are also holes from where I put up the hooks.
4. Paint the laundry room/garage entry. I started to paint, didn't like the color, tried several more colors, and haven't found a winner.
5. Create "mud room" in garage entry closet. I took down the door and relocated our winter stuff to another closet, but I need to paint and find a bench with storage. I'll also probably take down the wire shelf and replace it with a "real" shelf and add some hooks to the wall for coats and bags.

Do you see a theme here of struggling to find a color. It is what is holding me up in almost all these projects. I've never been great at making a decision, but also it is just hard to find a color with our ugly orange wood trim. Which brings me back to the fireplace wall and mantel...

I tried a few more paints, but they were both too "cold" with all the brown and wood trim. So I decided to paint the mantel first and see what that does to the space. I think it made a huge difference! I have avoided painting our wood trim because I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle such a big project, but I figure the mantel can be white even if the wood trim isn't painted. I tried to convince Mike that we should also paint the brick white, but he wasn't buying what I was selling. Why do men like ugly red brick so much?

Here are the Before and In-Progress photos. I can't really call it an "After" due to the state of the wall paint.


An up-close shot so you can see how orangey and hideous the wood is.

PROGRESS: white mantel

I followed Centsational Girl's tutorial, and it was super easy. And the best part was that I had all the supplies already on hand (primer, Swiss Coffee in semi-gloss, sanding block, etc.), so this project was free!

I think that next I'm going to tackle the weird "shelf" on the wall between the kitchen and family room and the chair rail in the dining room. I know I said no new projects, but I consider these an extension of this project. ;-)

My only change will be to use some Floetrol the next time to eliminate some of the brush marks. The brush marks aren't too bad, but if you look closely, you can see them.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pool Party

We all headed over to Nana and Papa's house last Sunday to enjoy the pool and a BBQ with them.

Unfortunately, due to a ton of rain lately and some unseasonably cool weather, the pool water was a little chilly. But that didn't stop us all from diving in and enjoying.

Liv loved floating around on this raft and hanging out with everyone.

 Ben was particularly fond of this shark that belonged to Uncle Brad when he was a kid.

Once Liv had had enough of the water, we dried off and had a snack. She discovered ice cubes and kept shoving her little hands into my diet coke and digging out ice cubes. She also grabbed Mike's cigar from him at one point. That could have been disastrous. Liv has fast hands!

After she was dry, we got her dressed and let her explore.

Ben convinced Mike and me to get back in the pool at different points during the afternoon. Mike went off the diving board to convince Ben it wasn't scary.

So Ben finally jumped in!

Trying to get up on the chair to sunbathe, I guess.

Friday, July 25, 2014

She's Walking (Finally)

Ben took his first tentative steps at about 10 1/2 months, and was walking at 11 months. I sort of assumed Liv would be the same. I should have known better. Little Miss does everything in her own time and in her own way. This one has a personality, to say the least.

Anyway, she took her first steps several months ago (around 12 or 13 months), and I thought great, finally she'll start walking. Nope. It took her months of building her confidence and skill before she decided to walk fully. She just knew she was faster and more stable crawling, so she always reverted to that.

Well, in the last few weeks, she finally is walking most of the time. She's 16 months, so not the latest walker ever. But pretty close! :-) (And she will still crawl if she's tired and gets frustrated, but mostly she walks.) Yay, Livvie Bean!!!

The best part of her walking is how completely ungraceful she is; her walk is ugly, but so ugly it's adorable. And she gets this look on her face like she is really doing something amazing and almost like she's pulling one over on you. I don't know, but the face just melts my heart.

This video isn't the best, because she just always starts doing something else as soon as I get the camera out. I'll try to get a better one soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Day in the Life

It's hard to believe that it was over a year ago that I did this day in the life post. A year later, not much has changed, and yet everything is different. :-) This is our Tuesday 7/8. It is pretty typical of most days around here. Except for my glorious Friday work from home day, when I take the kids to get doughnuts before school and don't have to commute.

5:30: My morning starts with Ben up way too bright and early, climbing into our bed to wake me up. He is excited for swimming class, so he crawls into our bed already in his swimsuit. I was half awake at this point, since Mike was already up and will be on his way out the door soon. This month he is on the 8-5 shift, so he generally leaves the house before we are up and is home a little bit after I get home with the kids at 6.

5:45: Ben finally succeeds in rousing me out of bed, so I quickly get myself ready. I started taking my shower and drying my hair at night after Liv was born, because when she was younger it was more unpredictable as to what time she would wake up. Even though she wakes up at a more consistent time now, I still shower at night. I hate getting up early, so this buys me 30 minutes in the morning. Meanwhile, Ben brushes his teeth and chooses which stuffed animal he wants to bring to school today for nap.

6:15: I head into Liv's room to get her up and ready. Ben is already in Liv's room "entertaining" her for a bit, but he can't get her out of her crib, so she is happy to see me and get out of baby jail. Ben's idea of entertaining her is to run around yelling crazy stuff and flinging himself into her chair. But it works--Liv finds absolutely everything that Ben does to be hilarious.

Liv is always so happy in the morning. Her good mood helps me be a little less grouchy. I'm just really NOT a morning person.

I try to get Liv dressed, but she is not much for sitting still. These are her usual antics. Here she is trying to grab all her hair accessories out of the drawer that I opened to grab some socks. I change her diaper in this position too, usually. She hates it when I lie her down on her back.

It takes me about 10 tries (and 15 min) before I get her diaper and clothes changed. Usually I just hold her sort of like this and do it. (Ben took this picture unbeknownst to me until I was uploading them to the computer.) She refuses to cooperate. For me, anyway. She was a little angel for Grammy.

6:35: Finally in their swimsuits and ready for water day at school! This is Ben's first year in Junior Summer Camp, so he gets to take a bus to an indoor pool. Liv's water play is just playing in a kiddie pool and water table at daycare.

We all head downstairs, with Dee leading the charge since she's been waiting for me to feed her and let her out. I put Liv in her high chair with some cereal while I feed Dee and get Liv's shoes on. It would be nice to just put her down and let her play or run around, but she still refuses to walk much and wants me to carry her around, so this works best.

Ben helps himself to an applesauce while he waits for us. He is making a face here to be funny; he calls this one his "mad" face.

6:50: The kids are loaded into the car, along with all of our crap. Purse, laptop bag, lunch box with the kids' breakfast stuff in it, a bag for Ben's towel and change of clothes, and a bag for Liv's towel and change of clothes. And my sweater, since the AC is always running at the office.

As is her daily ritual, Liv takes off her right shoe (only the right) on the way to school. (And yes, I know "they" recommend you keep kids rear-facing until they are 2, but she hated it and cried all the time. I just couldn't take it anymore. So when she outgrew her carrier, we just went forward facing.)

We listen to the Frozen soundtrack and sing songs on the way. Ben's singing sounds more like screaming, but he tries. Liv loves to shriek to the music like she is singing too.

7:05: We arrive at daycare. They prefer that I drop off Ben first, so while I'm getting his breakfast set out, I put Liv in a chair since she won't walk. (Seriously cannot wait until this one decides to walk. She is able to walk, she just chooses not to.) Anyway, she loves sitting in the big kid chairs. She likes thinking that she is a big kid. And I guess her own Nutrigrain bar wasn't good enough. She had to steal Ben's too.

Ben likes a hearty breakfast. And it is the same thing most every day--yogurt, yogurt drink, cheerios, cutie, and Nutrigrain bar. This is in addition to that applesauce that he ate at the house.

Once we're in Liv's room, I get her breakfast set up. Milk, banana, yogurt, and a Nutrigrain bar for her. Her teachers feed her the yogurt. She has not mastered using a spoon yet and makes a total mess if you let her do it herself.

7:25: I wave goodbye to Ben as I head out after dropping off Liv, since the bigger kids' classrooms are up front. They are lined up to head to their own classroom now that their teacher has arrived for the day.

7:35: I am trying to break the habit, but this day I stop at Starbucks for an iced mocha and breakfast sandwich. So tasty. So expensive. I try to limit it to once or twice a week. On days when I don't stop, I usually don't eat breakfast. Which is bad. I just don't like much breakfast food like yogurt, cereal, etc. And I am unwilling to get up earlier to eat before the kids are up.

8:05: I arrive at my desk and wait for my computer to boot up. I aim to get in at 8 but usually arrive around 8:15, so I'm happy with 8:05. In last year's post, I was still working at Tellabs. It's been a busy, crazy year, that's for sure.

The work day is busy and flies by, as it usually does at this job. If I take a quick lunch, I try to leave at 4:45. The difference in traffic leaving at 4:45 versus 5 is crazy. Unfortunately, I end up getting out later, about 5:10. Traffic is awful, so I'm later than usual getting the kids. I usually get there about 5:30, but today it is closer to 6. Liv is not a fan of my late arrival. She is over-hungry and over-tired. She cries most of the way home. :-(

Until I remember the crackers that I have stashed in the console! Those keep them quiet for a few minutes. (Not either kids' most flattering picture.)

6:10: We are finally home. Ben likes to eat dinner as soon as we walk in the door. I forgot to defrost chicken for dinner, so I heat up some refried beans and onion to make bean burritos. While we wait, I give the kids some fruit and crackers. Daddy cracks Liv up pretending to steal her food. (And notice that her dollies must be at the high chair with her. She loves her dollies!)

6:20: The beans are ready. Liv loves refried beans, but what a mess! Ben doesn't like beans, so I start some water boiling to make him buttered noodles--a favorite. Mike and I take turns feeding Liv and shoving food into our mouths while standing at the kitchen island. Ah, the calm, leisurely lifestyle with toddlers. ;-)

Hugs from my love bug. She was covered in refried beans, so of course she wanted hugs and was clinging to me.

6:45: Liv's such a mess that it is straight to the bath for her. Since Ben's noodles aren't ready yet, I convince him to take his bath now too so we can get it out of the way. Liv loves the bath, but only if Ben is in there with her.

7:00: It's getting close to bedtime and Liv's tired. After she's had enough, she stands up, rubbing her eyes, letting us know she is all done.

She alternates between crawling around like crazy on her chair and ottoman and lying down. When she is tired, she often will just stop and lie down on the floor in the middle of playing, then pop back up and continue on. I should have known she wasn't just going to calmly let me get her dressed.

7:15: Meanwhile, Ben's buttered noodles are finally ready just after bath, so he digs in and eats two bowls. He requests train crash videos on youtube for some "quiet time." Hmm. I don't know how that equals quiet time, but I just roll with it.

7:30: Mike takes Liv up to bed. We still take turns each night. Liv is still so easy--just carry her up, put her in her crib, turn on her humidifier and walk out. As long as she has a few binkies, she is happy and puts herself to sleep.

8:00: Ben plays for a little while, and then we tell Ben it is time to go up to bed. He is not pleased, as usual. Here he is crying on the stairs on the way up. Poor kid. He is really in a stage of fighting bedtime right now, throwing a mini tantrum most nights.

8:10: I finally get him upstairs after some drama. After potty and brushing teeth, he picks out his books. This night it's Llama Llama and the Bully Goat and Santa Comes to Chicago. Interesting choice in July, but what the heck. Usually he gets to choose three books, but this night I took away one book because he was misbehaving on his way to bed, so we're down to two. By misbehaving, I mean throwing things when we told him it was bedtime.

Notice Ben's blanket. It was a Christmas gift, but Ben resurrected it for the 4th of July since it is red, white, and blue. Now he sleeps with it every night. Underneath it you'll find about 30 stuffed animals. Mommy Cat, Daddy Cat, and Baby Meow Meow are his current favorites. But his Build-a-Bear dog was recently added to the favorites list after Lily showed us her Build-a-Bear on Skype.

8:45: After I put Ben to bed, I head down to clean up the kitchen, pack the kids' breakfast for tomorrow, and tidy up the house a bit. Mike walks Dee, and then watches some TV.

9:30: We head up to bed. Mike falls asleep right away, since he gets up much earlier than I do. I read for a while, and then call it a night around 11. And then get ready to do it all over again. It's like Ground Hog Day. :-)