Sunday, December 1, 2013

critical me

you better click on these photos and see how pretty they are big sized. i'm telling you!

It's always really easy to be self-critical when it comes to my photography. I am a lover of perfectly clear portraits and mine always seem to fall short of my ideal and it can keep me from wanting to move forward. But the other day I finally got over it all and put my kids into some cute clothes (that's harder to do than it sounds ha) and took their pictures. I am so pleased with myself. I can still see that these photos aren't technically perfect--there are still lots of things I could have done better--but these photos sort of take my breath away because of how BEAUTIFUL my children are. Heck, I know I'm their mom, but SERIOUSLY. I keep capitalizing words because holy cow people, my kids are beautiful.
And it keeps choking me up because they are growing bigger and taller (so much taller than the other kids of their same respective ages. Tallish parents=tall kids). This little fella is fixing to break my heart with his growing up ways.

I could focus on the fact that this picture cuts off the bottom of her boot, or I can be so pleased that I have this moment--that expression--that sweet girl--all frozen in time for me to look at and boo-hoo over in the future. Or right now if we're being 100% totally honest. Gah, the tears!

Yes, instead of the little imperfections, I am happily focusing on the fact that someday all of those teeth will be all grown in and those big lovely eyes will be more likely to roll than to twinkle in my direction. I catch my breath at the glimpse I catch of her future grown-up self. I marvel that two old stinky folks like me and John were able to have the loveliest kids I could have ever imagined.

I grow more sentimental and dorky as the days roll pass. But oh, I don't mind.

Monday, November 18, 2013

my ambivalence towards roller shades

This weekend was the way I like weekends to be: low key. It seems like it's been forever since we had one like that around here.  We woke up, John went out and bought some donuts for a weekend treat, and we all headed off to Home Depot to get some screws and look at window shades. My kitchen has lots of beautiful big windows that I love. But I also love to hate them because by the time it is dinner time--the one time of day that I really go in there and got that kitchen nice and warm with cooking--it is already blazing hot because I don't have window coverings on the windows and the sun is baking that side of the house. I have considered lots of different window covering scenarios--but unless you just get the roller shade or normal vertical blinds, all of the options seem super expensive to me.

So I sat there looking at the roller shades feeling ambivalent but really needing a solution when the home depot guy suggested I consider the stuff you can squeegee onto your windows that basically reflect heat and make your windows slightly tinted. When he said tinted I had visions of dark car tinting sort of tinting, but John convinced me it was worth a try for the cost and I could hang the ineffective but pretty curtains my Mom made for me when she was here out of tablecloths. took several dang hours to get that stuff hung. What a pain. We barely had enough, and there are some major wrinkles in the window that John attempted to do himself while I was attempting to probably be lazy and/or watch the kids. We reasoned that before we went out and bought another roll, we would see how it works.

This is what my decorating has come to...a science experiment. ha! I'm actually pretty excited to see if it works, it would make my life better. It's the small things, right?

Okay, so this has probably been the most boring post in america. I also got a wild hair and painted the bottom portion of the shoe box/bench that I got for free on the side of the road. It happened lateish at night and I went searching around for a paintbrush and some leftover samples of paint from when we were deciding on our wall colors. I remembered that my Mom had gifted me an amazing paintbrush AND a sample size of Parisian Gray Annie Sloan Chalk paint. I was SO STINKING EXCITED when I remembered, like I had won the lottery! It was sort of crazy good luck because I had wanted to paint the bottom of the trunk gray (a color I have never used on furniture before). My Mom might be a psychic or something.

It looks pretty good, but I have one small point of indecision: should I paint the lid or not? I sort of like the two tone idea, but I also love the color of the paint and think it would be cool to paint a phrase on the top of the bench. I am also worried that painting the top just makes it look like some cheapy box. These are real problems people! :)

Well, I am off to get my little person ready for the day and then head off to finish buying supplies for the Relief Society craft night that is being held at my house. The R.S.V.P list keeps growing and my house keeps seeming to shrink....

pictures of the bench forthcoming, promise! (and now for some random photos of my past few weeks, just because it feels right).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

excuse me for being a huge grump face right now

Let's talk about this week.

This week overall I would rate as a win. I got things done, I kept things pretty clean. I was a decentish parent. I made dinners and kept up laundry and dishes.

But let's also talk about today.

I would rate today a lose. 1. I went to church and was publicly derided for announcing something during Relief Society (I'm in charge of activities, and someone didn't like that the Christmas crafts we are offering might incur a small fee--which is standard for these types of things and is usually only a few dollars). 2. Someone else invited a friend to a girls night out in front of me--listed all of the other people that were coming-- and then didn't invite me (awkward).

Rough day. But after all is said and done, 1. I don't know what that girl was complaining about. We'll have some free stuff to make too 2.  I don't want to be friends with someone that would be heartless enough to do something like that anyway. I have a big problem with exclusivity like that. I mean, it's okay for people to have friends that they are close with--we can't all be best friends and we can't all go to everyone else's house every time someone has a party or whatever. But shouldn't there be a line of common courtesy? Am I crazy here??

Sometimes I think it would be so much easier to be a guy, especially when it comes to church stuff. Guys don't seem to have as much drama, and you don't have to worry about men trying to hurt peoples' feelings. They don't even think about it. They show up, they set up the chairs, they shake hands, and they go home. Sounds awesome.

Now having vented a bit, I will say that I am not feeling bitter or sad. I would say mostly annoyed. But this too shall pass. Downton Abbey was just renewed for another season. All is (generally) right with the world.

Catch you later for a normal updating blog post.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

we interrupt this blog to bring you pictures of kittens

 ok, I only have one picture of kittens, but it's so cute it's worth about five pictures. I am so behind the times and behind and all of that stuff that I don't care about really that I never talked about how I promised my kids in a moment of insanity that I would let them get a cat when we had our own house. Then we moved and Maddy asked me about this (not an exaggeration). I told her when we finished the kitchen we would get cats. Well we finally reached a "good enough" stage a while ago and we went to get some kittens. The lady who was adopting them out wouldn't let them go alone (wish she had mentioned that before we got attached), and we actually left because we didn't want two cats! But poor little Mads was heartbroken and we all secretly loved the cats, so we went back and now we have two cats and it has worked out great because the kids think that they both have their own cat. We named them Chip and Dale after the chipmunks, but people all seem to think we named them after those gross dancers so we may need to change that. Mostly I call them Cat!!! (when they are jumping on my kitchen counters). They are very adorable (except for the counter jumping).
 somebody lost ANOTHER tooth. It was sort of funny. I just looked over at her and said, "Maddy, I think that tooth could come out today if you actually tried to pull it out for real." So she sat there and worked on it and it came out like three minutes later. She was so excited. John put her to bed and then mentions to me as I'm about to get cozy in bed myself hours later, Oh yeah, she wrote a note to the tooth fairy. Oh boy. Out came the glitter and the other stuff. It's hard being an awesome mom. ;) at least I hear it is ha
 Doesn't my buddy look so grown up lately? He's still 2, but is wearing the 3T and breaking my heart. He is also still a crazy man and breaking my soul on a regular basis. Two year old boys are hard!! And cute!! And hard!! I love this little boy so much. Heaven help me to be the mom he deserves (also, heaven send caffeine or something!)
 We went on a walk the other morning and he sat and played with a stick in the dirt for a good five minutes before Mom got bored and pulled him away. He then did it again on the walk back to the house. I wonder why the dirt in the backyard isn't so fascinating?
 Big sister helping a brotha out. My kids are terrible bikers. I put the blame squarely on us as delinquent parents.
 I know this is blurry, but can't you just feel the happiness?? Oh i love this kid
 raking is still fun (baby rake found at goodwill yessss)
 my awesome friend taught me how to make pepper jelly (MY FAVE) and I learned a new trick about sealing jars by putting them upside down. The funny part is that we left them like that for too long (we went to prepare and serve lunch for a bunch of missionaries) and when we came back they were stuck like this. Guess we're not such rockstar homemakers like we thought.
 On Halloween, Maddy's school did a "parade of fiction." aka you can dress up as long as it's from a book. They asked the kids to pick one of their favorite book characters. Maddy decided on Despereaux, from The Tale of Despereaux. No one knew who she was of course, but I thought her costume was cute because I made it. :) Every other little girl picked Pinkalicious or Fancy Nancy, once again convincing me that Maddy is awesome.
 How Grant kept himself entertained during the parade of fiction (because apparently a bunch of kids walking around in awesome costumes isn't enough for him).
 Maddy was pretty embarrassed that I made her hold her brother's hand at school. Next time I'll make sure to make her kiss him too.
 Maddy's cute teacher even dressed up

 okay this is super lame because I have a picture of one of the tables I decorated for an impromptu gathering I had on halloween night but I don't have pictures of my kids' costumes (they are on the other camera, the good one). And...I don't have the good one close enough for my lazy self to get it. Next time Grandmas!
 This should count as his costume. I found him walking around like this one day. The thing on his head is his face peeking out of the arm hole of one of John's shirts. He looked so funny and cute. Also, he looked like one of those jawas from star wars:

 the fall here is so beautiful, and I find myself getting all sentimental and happy about it at least once a day. this photo is from my horrible cell phone camera, without editing! the light was so beautiful!
 had parent teacher conferences with her teacher, where I was told (not the first time) that Maddy is very creative/artistic. One of her art projects was picked last year when she was a kindergartener to be in a special exhibit of school art for the county. Since I am not an artist I am a little unsure as to how to encourage and cultivate her talent other than buying her lots of good drawing paper and markers/paints/glitter/glue/pencils. It's so cool to hear that your child is good at something that obviously didn't come from you--something that God blessed them with all on their own. I hope she continues to explore and grow as an artist!
 more inspiring views from the kitchen windows
 three dollars well spent
this last one makes me laugh. I went to a girls night that was open to everyone in our ladies church group. all of these ladies showed up at the same time all wearing stripes....except for me. I got a big kick out of it and made them take a picture. good times, good times. I told them I didn't wear my stripes because 1. i didn't get the memo and 2. I don't like to be reminded of my time in the slammer. just kidding people.

it's been a busy time around our house and it feels like i can never get organized enough to do everything. my house feels like it is in constant disarray. the floors are covered in crumbs, the dinners are not fancy, and laundry is piling up. How in the world am I going to survive through the holidays if I am already this ambivalently disorganized. better go, I think we hear a croupy baby waking up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

he tricked with me his snuggliness

Grant has learned a new trick. When he doesn't want to go to sleep, he will gaze up at me, all blankey-covered and cute looking, and ask, "You want to snuggle me in my bed?" Oh man, as the mother of a crazy, always moving, never-wants-to-be-comforted maniac, when I heard those words I was putty in his little machiavellian hands. I snuggled him up and we had one of those Precious Moments moments and he gazed deeply into my eyes and said, "Mama, you have eyes!" I smiled back, charmed, "Yes, I do!"
"Mama, you have lips!"
Enjoying the game, "Yes, I do!"
"Mama, you have nose!"
"Mama (short pause), you have mustache."

Aaaaaaand, cue the ending of that precious moment. I'm still laughing about it days later.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I disappeared again. I have had a nasty habit of doing that lately, but I am going to do better. So much has been going on, it's difficult to know where to start. I know what most of you are going to say: Start with showing us your dang kitchen and house! I know...I know. But sadly, I don't have the super amazing, perfect lighting, lemons in a bowl on the counter, pictures right now. I have a dirty little secret. The secret is that I don't want to post pictures even though the kitchen is mostly done, because I'm afraid we will get lazy after the pictures are taken and not finish up the small boring details (like caulking). It's the only carrot I have at the end of the stick. It's pathetic I know!

So, even though I know it's super annoying and...annoying, I hope you'll understand my neuroses and forgive me and allow me to take you through the renovation step by step. It helps me remember how far we have come! (and maybe it will be helpful to anyone that may attempt to do this in future).

But before we get into all of that, I'm currently listening to this song and thought I would share it. I love new music. Are you listening to anything new and good these days? Do tell!

 I think this is just about where I left you in the last post, wasn't it? We had to tear the whole kitchen out. This was a completely unexpected gut job--but I think I mentioned previously that we discovered a leak with mold under the kitchen sink. One torn out thing led to needing to tear out another thing, and well then we ended up pulling up linoleum and five million staples (bless you John Savage for doing that job!).  It then goes without saying that we had to tear out the cabinets and counters as well. It was sort of a steep learning curve for us there for a while--learning how to dismantle sinks/plumbing, disconnect gas lines from gas stoves (we are still alive, yesssss!), take down fluorescent lighting, remove popcorn ceilings, patch said ceilings. The list goes on and on. It was A LOT of work because we had a small budget and needed to replace almost everything except for the appliances.

Fortunately for us, John's parents happened to visit right after we had pulled up our flooring and were trying to figure out what to lay back down. John's Dad was going to help us lay something down and declared (after pulling staples for a half hour) he would rather pay someone to lay the floor for us than to have to pay a medical professional to fix his back. That was a very generous offer and we gladly (and with GREAT relief) took him up on it. Enter the Lowe's flooring guys and a great sale on pergo flooring. This seriously saved my sanity, I didn't know how we would get the flooring done with just the two of us--actually it would have only been one of us at a time in the evenings because the other person had to stay home with the kids (this was all while we were still in the rental and didn't want the kids around the live wires and saws etc.)

Once I saw the floors in, I knew that we would actually be able to do this renovation. (I was having some serious doubts beforehand!) It looked a million times better already. We also knew that since we had the floor in, we could take advantage of the Ikea kitchen sale. We were so lucky that our kitchen disasters happened during the sale, because it literally did save us thousands of dollars.
 Because we saved on the kitchen cabinets during the sale, we did pay the official Ikea installers to come in and install the base cabinets for us. We knew we wouldn't have the time before we needed to move in, and we frankly were pretty exhausted by that point anyway after trying to plan everything, move, having gutted the kitchen, etc. It was the best money we could have spent. If you are thinking about doing an ikea kitchen, let me tell you this in no uncertain terms, Pay the dang installers! You will be so glad you did. The company that did it for us told us that they end up finishing most DIY peoples' projects because they don't realize how many things go into it/can go wrong.
 So there is an in progress shot. At this point we then had to wait for the countertop folks to figure their lives out and realize they owed us countertops. Fun times.

Okay, so that takes us a step further in the renovation story. I'll post next time what happened with the Ikea planning and my take on that whole process. Are you bored yet or properly scintillated? I know I'm on the edge of my seat over here and I already know what it looks like. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

First the ugly pictures then you get the pretty ones

I'm so glad people are still out there following along with us! Thanks for the comments. And without further ado, here are some pictures of how the house looked when the previous owners lived here. It's actually not too terrible, and some of the rooms (okay, just the bathrooms) look the same now. 

 Here is the outside. Isn't it purty??
 We have a little entry/foyer type of thing. This room has been painted a nice clean looking creamy gray. That gold color on the bottom half was worse in person. Oh boy.
 It's hard to tell in this picture, but the walls had a faux paint sponge look. I'm sorry if some of you still like this look, but man alive it is horrible in my book. It makes the walls looks dirty in my opinion. This room has been painted (the first one I tackled) a creamy white. Some people think I'm weird that I painted the walls white when most people hate white walls when they are renting. I love it. It feels clean and it allows me to change up for seasons/decorating whims much more easily. Plus I feel like it looks nice with the dark floors. Another note on this room--it is right off the foyer and has three doorways and a window which makes it tricky to put furniture in it. You can see they used it as a formal dining room. The table sat right in the pathway to get to the kitchen and the whole room felt awkward and crowded. But I can appreciate their dilemma now because now it is my dilemma. :) I am pretty pleased with where it is now. That will be coming soon.

Here we go, I found a better picture of the sponge painting. See what I mean about it looking dirty??

 The kitchen. Oh man, I can't even believe this was what things looked like only a few months ago. It looks completely different now. The cabinets were pretty damaged and of course had the water damage. What you can't see from this angle (but I know I have more pictures of so I will search) is that the sink was WAY off center from the window. It was so ugly and weird and it caused me A LOT of stress when planning. Also stressful was the fact that the stove and dishwasher are right next to each other and very difficult to place elsewhere without incurring a lot of expense. Oh, and do you see that weird strip of white in the floor? That was where the linoleum ran out and they had to put a seam in the middle of the kitchen. HIDEOUS and we were always tripping over it. Also--no pantry! See that tall cabinet at the end there? That was their pantry. No bueno. It was broken too. I really thought going into this house that we were going to paint these cabinets and make it work, but there were so many issues and in the end it didn't make sense not to try and rip it out while we had a rental house overlap of a month and a half. I'm glad we did it, but it was super duper stressful all the same. :)
 One of the things I mentioned we had to do was scrape the popcorn ceilings in the kitchen and laundry room. We only did the laundry room because it was super small and we wanted to see how hard it was to scrape and what it would look like with our amateur finishing powers.
 It was grunt work and the popcorn got everywhere, but the result was worth it. As for the rest of the house, well I would pay a professional to do it if I ever had the money because it makes a huge mess and your arms and back are super sore for days. But since we had to take down the flourescent light fixtures and you could see lines beneath it, we decided to go for it and I'm glad we did. It doesn't look professional, but it looks good enough for me. :)

 Here are those other angles of the kitchen that I knew I had somewhere. You can see that the appliances were actually pretty nice looking.

 Here you can see what I meant about the sink and the window. you can also see how close the dishwasher and oven were. They are still that close (closer in fact with only a panel of wood separating them now) but it kept costs down to keep them together and I felt getting the sink under the window would really help the kitchen look more normal. (Also, can you see the plug right next to the sink. What in the world were they thinking?? Now I have to deal with that. Ugh.)
 There's a nice close up of the floors. Take a close look folks, that there is original linoleum from the birth of this house. It's practically vintage (in the bad way).
 On the other side of the kitchen is this little bank of lower cabinets. I SO wanted to make this all open and change these cabinets into an island into the living room. This didn't happen for several reasons 1. cost (that terrible word again ha)--to tear down the wall and get it to work as an island would have been pricey and probably not even very useful because of the wall that is on the right side. 2. You can barely see that there is a countertop overhang from the window into the living room. I didn't like this for several reasons: it was super tall and my kids would never be able to use it, and it was really close to one of the doorways that you can see through the window. It blocked the flow and made the living room feel small and weird. I thought about filling in the window pass through, but it lets in a lot of light into the living room so I decided to keep it but take out the counter in the pass through portion. I don't know if that makes sense, but it will when I get to the after pictures. :)

Here you can see that I was trying to get an idea of whether blocking in the pass-through window was a good idea. Snowflake tablecloths are very good for that sort of thing.

Who said the Savages aren't scientific?? That tablecloth idea was obviously genius. (hangs head in shame).

Some more photos of the kitchen. I'm sure you're getting tired of them, but I can't get over how different things look now!

It also helps gives you an idea of the size of things and how it all went together. That doorway above is goes into the laundry room and then into the garage.

That, my friends, is a very small eat-in dining room. I knew I would have my work cut out for me because I knew I wouldn't be using the other room as a formal dining so I had to make it work.
Isn't the placement of that tall pantry cabinet so awkward?? I swear it was an add on.

So one night when I was there by myself I just took it down. It was super fun

until I saw this piece and realized that we really did have to replace the floor. Ah the memories.

I originally was planning on keeping the upper cabinets and was going to paint them to save money. That didn't work out because the shelves inside bowed when you put things in the middle. I seriously am unsure how the people before us were able to use this kitchen. It was in sad shape. I was discouraged about losing the upper cabinets for a long while, but we have decided to do open shelves until we can afford to add a couple of upper cabinets in the future.

Here is the laundry room. I was actually pretty excited that there were cabinets in here. We ended up taking a few of them down and installing an ikea pantry in here since it is right next to the kitchen and we knew we definitely needed the storage. The flooring in here stayed for now. Maybe someday it will get a cheap face-lift, but it doesn't bother me for now. :) Painting the room helped.

Now on to the living room. Here you can see what I meant about the countertop protruding into the family room and being really close to a doorway. That pass through window caused me a lot of sleepless nights.

The dark green caused nightmares. Just kidding. It wasn't too awful, just not my cup of tea. The room doesn't get all that much light because outside is a covered patio (which we love) and the room is sort of in the middle of all of the other rooms. So I decided it needed a nice bright color. My Mom and sister are probably shaking their heads in disgust, but I chose a crisp white in here to brighten things up.

 This room has also been difficult to figure out where to place furniture. In fact, I contacted one of my favorite bloggers and asked for her advice and she responded and gave me some great ideas! With all of the doors, windows, fireplace, etc. it was a challenge.

 This is the view coming from the entry. See that tiny bit of space next to the backdoor? That is where the previous owners had their t.v. See below.

 In my opinion it was terribly awkward. It was right in the way of the door and super off center and really far away from the couch on the other side of the room. I was REALLY happy when my sweet new blogger friend helped me out, she's a genius!!

This is the fourth bedroom. It's right next to the entry way, which you can kind of tell by looking up two photos. We are using it as a playroom/craft closet/guest room. You know, the usual. ha!

 The room that became Maddy's room. She begged for a pink room. I really became parent of the year in my book and finally gave in. I know, I know...I'm wiping away tears thinking of how generous I was too.
I called this room the smurf blue room. It was just too vibrant for my taste. I would have never been able to tackle this room's paint color (or Maddy's room, or our Master bedroom) without John's amazing Mom. She SAVED me. I love the color that is in there now.

 The kids' bathroom. It hasn't changed much. My kids like that instead of a lever it has buttons on the top to flush. Fancy.
You would think that me being the queen of white walls these days that I would have left this one alone. I actually strongly dislike white in bedrooms. It feels too cold. I am a blue bedroom girl all of the way and have been for many houses. It calms me right down and makes me feel cozy. So this room got changed. Also, interesting to me is that I think their bed was a king sized bed, but makes this room feel super tiny. We have a king sized bed but we placed it on a different wall and I think it feels bigger. But that may just be in my head.

 Last room on the tour is the master bathroom. Pretty standard stuff here. Someday I would like to paint and do something with the vanity.
 But I love the big tub. I'm a bath lover, so this was a big selling point for us.
 And last of all, here are the pictures of how the backyard looked with the previous owners furniture.

The backyard is actually smaller than the front yard, but is still a good size for us and our kids and we really like it. I haven't really come up with any schemes for making the yard cuter yet as I am still super focused on the house, but I'm sure we'll get to it someday.

WHEW!! You made it! You got through all of the ugly pictures (sorry to previous owners). :) Coming soon are the pretty pictures because gosh darn it, you earned it, and so did we!