Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Injuries? Maybe. But it's tradition.

The Christmas Eve Jammie Pyramid!

Surprisingly, we've had very few injuries these many years.

But the 2012 pyramid seemed crooked from the start.

And we lost our top almost immediately,

leaving the tiny one in kitty pajamas in a precarious spot,

doomed to a squashing between two sisters.

Poor thing.

But in true Cholita fashion, she wiped her tears and quickly rallied.

And speaking of rallying......

Do you see the ancient labrador retriever watching the whole spectacle?
The cancer-ridden one who was supposed to be gone many months ago?

Well,  he's not only managed to witness his 13th jammie pyramid,
he's somehow thriving.
Climbing stairs again.
Gobbling tasty morsels.
Going on walks.
The vet has no words.

We all agree.
It's a Christmas miracle.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Some people decorate with wreaths.....

Or swags.
Or lights.
Or reindeer.

It's only us lucky folks who decorate their front porch with a discarded sink.
And a roll of gross linoleum.
And an old cabinet.

there is progress.
Mostly it's progress in the planning department, but progress none-the-less.

This project was started so spur-of-the-moment that I hadn't really thought about what I'd like to see in a bathroom.......besides a closed toilet lid and towels off the floor.

So I've been scouring Pinterest and trying to find a style that appeals.

I love pedestal sinks.  They're classic and timeless, but probably unrealistic for this work-horse of a bathroom.  We need storage and counter space.

As much as I adore this bathroom, where is the blow dryer going?  Where do you set your makeup?  

We found a beautiful antique cabinet that could accommodate a vessel sink, which I love, but would I love it in reality?  Because in reality, there would be toothpaste spit down the front of that gorgeous vessel sink onto the beautiful wood countertop, which probably isn't very easy to clean.

Now something like this might fit the bill.  The built-ins are gorgeous and the vanity is stunning.  The marble countertop is timeless.

I know we need storage and as much of it as we can cram into this teeny bathroom, but I don't want the boxy vanities that I'm finding in the stores.  So, it looks like Lyle's building a custom piece.

It will have storage that can be hidden away, but hopefully have a furniture look.  We've ordered the countertop--a gray-flecked granite and are trying to think through our kid's morning and nighttime routines to help with order and cleanliness.

There will be a built-in cubby for Sonicare Toothbrushes, so they can be off the counter (in theory).

There will be a pull-out drawer of some sort for blow dryers and straighteners, already plugged in, so you just have to remove them from the drawers, use them, and put them back (in theory).

But, no matter what we do, 
the toilet lid will not close itself and the towels won't put themselves back on the rack.  
We do what we can.

Monday, December 3, 2012

If you have a broken cabinet door....

And you tell your husband about it....

on a rainy day,
when he can't do outside projects,

and in addition to the broken door,
he notices the peeling linoleum,
and the swelling MDF baseboards....

and he reflects on how he's never liked the cabinets,
or the layout,
or much of anything, apparently.....

you might be well on your way to a new bathroom......

which will hopefully have fully functioning cabinet doors.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Naughty or Nice, at Least She's Flexible

While waiting for the bus, a conversation with Cholita:

"Mom, can you tell me on the day when we get to December so I know when to start being good for Santa?"

"Shouldn't you be good all the time?"

"I guess, but it's important in December."

"What if you get coal in your stocking?"

"Mom, I know Santa might do that to me, so what exactly IS coal?"

"It's like a black, messy rock."

Cholita pauses to think for a moment.

"Well, if I get that, I'd just use it to draw with, so whatever."

Don't be fooled by the sweet face.
This girl cannot be broken.  
Not even by Santa.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sweet 16 Room Reveal

I am so tired.  

You know how it's hard to find a present for a teenager?   Well, I had the not-so-brilliant idea that for our daughter's special day, we'd gift her with a room makeover.  We'd have her friends here for a sleepover and they could walk her up to the third floor to share in her excitement.  Really, it wasn't such a bad idea, it was just a bad idea to give myself only 2 weeks to get it done.  Painting, sewing, shopping, refinishing furniture, building doors, framing pictures, hanging light fixtures, the whole shebang.  In addition to being a mom to five kids.  The night before the big reveal party, we were working until three am and then were up at six.  Those "reality" programs when they finish a whole room in a weekend?  Some corners are being cut, I guarantee that.

Lucy had picked out the paint colors--Benjamin Moore Summer Shower for the ceiling and top part of the walls and Chantilly Lace for the lower walls and trim.  She mentioned that she wanted something sophisticated and maybe European and maybe with a touch of bling.  Once we got things going, she was banished from the third floor until last night.

I'll first show you where this room was in 2005.

When we moved in, Lucy's attic bedroom was forest green with dark blue carpeting and except for the slanted attic ceiling, had not much character.  Lyle added trim around the room where the ceiling met the walls, built 4 adorable little cubbies, installed a built-in desk and window seat, and cut into the wall to add a closet in the wasted space under the eaves.

I painted the room cream and sage green, and made pillows and curtains.

Then in 2006 our giant dog Olaf had some sort of major intestinal distress and exploded onto Lucy's carpet.  There are some things that are so terrible, they just can't be cleaned.  This was one of those things.

Our "big" kids (who were so little back then!) helped us remove the carpet and tack strips and we did some research to find a cheap non-carpet option for the room.   We wound up buying plain old pine shelving boards which we screwed into the floor and then plugged, sanded, and tung oiled.  We have loved this unique, rustic floor.  Since it's such a soft wood, it's not something I'd use in a room that get lots of traffic, but in a third floor bedroom, it was perfect.

The armoire in the room was something I'd painted and distressed and crackle-finished and since we were doing this room re-do on the cheap, I decided to refinish it.

This took a LOT longer than I anticipated!  First, even with the electric orbital sander, getting off all the old crackled paint took hours.  Then the painting (Benjamin Moore Province Blue) needed several coats, and then the varnish.  Oh, the varnish.  I'd read that when painting furniture, it's better to do a matte finish with the paint and then add the shine afterward with the varnish. I had no idea that varnish is much trickier, stickier, and smellier than paint.  And that if a stray hair or fly or dust or whatever happens to fall onto your furniture during the varnishing process, it's a royal pain to remove it.  It did turn out fantastic, even if I did lose some brain cells due to fumes.

The other big project was the closet door.  Curtains were fine, but I knew that a sliding barn door would be better.  Barn door hardware can be ridiculously expensive, but Lyle accomplished the whole project for about $100 by going to our local farm store.  The track is very industrial looking, but since he covered it in trim, no one will be the wiser.  I had Lyle add the mirror just for the practical reason that Lucy wanted a mirror, but hadn't anticipated how much it opened up the room.

I have to say, I'm pretty proud of this chair.  I priced out chairs all over our county and couldn't find anything new that was within budget.  I found this one at an antique/thrift store for $20.  It was very sturdy and well-built, but the wood finish and fabric were seriously bringing it down.  I had decided that some pops of yellow in the room would be a nice touch, so I spray painted and recovered the seat and absolutely love it.

I also spray painted a little table we already had and then took the lid of the spray paint can with me to the framing shop to get mats cut.   There's a HUGE difference in price depending on where you go.  One framing shop said one mat would be $23.  ONE mat!  I found an awesome little local shop that charged only about $6-7 per mat, and even cut them while I waited.  Maria at Old Town Framing is awesome!

I knew I didn't want to spend very much on artwork, so I looked on-line for some non-copyrighted images that would work in the room.  Lucy had mentioned wanting the Eiffel Tower, and I found the most amazing vintage pictures of the 1900 Paris Exposition.

I absolutely love them--the colors, the women walking with parasols under the Eiffel tower, the old-world look.  On the left is the Belgian Pavilion at the exposition, and then of course the Eiffel Tower, and then on the right is the United States Pavilion.  I love the old world's fairs.

My friend, Teresa helped me cut out the fabric for the window seat and I made a pillow with the chair fabric.  I still have some other pillows to make, but with my not-so-realistic time crunch, those didn't get done.   The curtains were from Target and then I used the extra that was cut from the length to make the Euro cushions for the bed.

On the bed wall, I initially painted it white, but then the white headboard was kind of lost, so I painted the headboard blue, which was a bad idea, and then I painted 3 coats of white to cover the ill-advised blue and then I painted the walls on either side of the now-white-again headboard the same Province Blue as the armoire.  And I was happy.  Or maybe just too tired to re-think it for the umpteenth time.  The duvet cover came from Ikea as did the plug-in wall sconces.  I still need to tack down the cords so they look a little neater and get some side tables and rethink the old dust ruffle.

But the absent throw pillows and the lack of side tables weren't huge issues for the big reveal.  What WAS incredibly frustrating was another item from Ikea.....

The chandelier.  

Gorgeous, but I had NO idea that the bulbs were something so funky that they cannot be found anywhere locally.  The party guests were coming in an hour and we were calling everywhere to find E12 bulbs.  No luck and Ikea is an hour and a half away.  Sweden's even farther.  So, it was disappointing that for the big room reveal, at night of course, there was no light from the chandelier.

But she noticed all the other little touches and was completely blown away by the transformation.  

She adores the room (even with the low light that was stinky for picture-taking) and her friends were giggly and adorable and added to the fun.  

Fun that went late into the night.

Now I'm going to sleep.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Artists have struggled with this for centuries

Cholita hung this up as a visual for her Family Home Evening lesson last night 
but was quick to point out:
"I'm not really sure if this is exactly what he looks like."

My guess is that "Hevinle Fothr" is as happy with her attempt as he is with any of the masters.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Operation Tweenybopper: Room Reveal

I'd call Rose's room about 80% done.  Most of the big stuff is done.  The walls are painted, the beds are made, pillows sewn.  We just need to recover lampshades (still puzzling over that one), make or buy curtains, make her a desk, and hang things on the wall.  O.K., so maybe 60% done.

Anyway, I loved her room in its previous state.  It was blue and pink and oh so little girly.

The quilt behind the bed was a "round robin" quilt.  I made the middle square and then it was passed on to 4 of Lyle's sisters who made additional borders.  I'll aways love it.

But sigh.
It was deemed way too little girlish and since this room was done 8 years ago, when our tween was a mere toddler, I agreed that it was time for an update.  

For convenience sake, I insisted on keeping both beds, even though it's now just a room for one.


 I also wanted to keep the sweet scalloped trim that Lyle had made. 
Little girlish though it may be, it would be a pain to replace, so it was staying.
Other than that, Rose was master of her domain.

She wanted a purple room.
I cringed.
I tried to talk up a very pale lavender.
Nope.  She wanted bright colors.

One day at the local plant nursery (of all places), we saw some very bright modern-looking floral prints that she loved and were our inspiration for the rest of the room.
Seeing how bright the pictures were, Rose agreed that maybe a lighter paint color would be better.
We held up her pictures in front of many different purple paint chips at the Benjamin Moore store.
I didn't even show her the paint names until she'd picked because I know she wouldn't have chosen something called "Winter Gray". 

But she did, and I love it.
And I pity the person who picks that color expecting gray,
because it's most assuredly purple,
but in a pleasing sort of way.

Lucy and I held up her pictures in a variety of configurations,
feeling like we were participating in a game of Twister,
and Rose mercifully decided quickly that she liked this grouping the best.

Obviously I still need to get the darn lamp shades for the wall sconces recovered,
but it's coming along.

I made the raspberry colored throw pillows and found the fleecy purple pillows at Costco.
The purple basket between the beds is from Ross and Rose stores all of her writing supplies there so she can scribble down middle-of-the-night story inspirations.

We love our tweenager and thankfully she adores her new room, incomplete though it may be.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Times, They are A-Changin'

There's change with every new school year, generally good, getting-organized, moving into Fall type changes.
But in the change department, the 2012/2013 school year, puts all other years to shame.

The biggest change happened one week ago today.

When we dropped our oldest off at BYU Idaho for college.

We'd been in move-out mode for a few weeks, going through certificates, old jerseys, yearbooks, ancient stuffed animals, all things that could make a mother get a little misty-eyed.

The siblings?  Well, you'll notice some pink items hanging in his closet.  Cholita and XiXi had effectively moved into his room before he'd moved out.  With 5 kids, when a bedroom becomes available, it's big news.

Rose is now the sole occupant of her own room down the hall......more on that later.

I wish I'd gotten photos of moving Bruder into his apartment, but it was such a busy, blur of a day--moving boxes, organizing, grocery shopping, buying books--that the camera never left the car.

He did send me this photo of him and his roommate in the college broadcasting center.  
I texted him that I hoped that they weren't matching on purpose.
He responded, "No, it was an accident, but the girls think it's adorable."

In this week that he's been gone, we've noticed a few things:
*We have leftovers for the first time in years!
*I do far less laundry.
*The house is quieter.
*We laugh just a little bit less.

We miss him.

Moving on.

This one is also at a new school--the high school!  She turns 16 next month and has been in driver's ed. and now that Bruder is away from home, she has begun her "rule and reign" as the oldest.
She promises to be nice to her subjects.

Big changes for our writer girl too.  She is now at the middle school and thankfully loving it.
With our big room swap, Rose is thrilled with her new tweenager room, which we'll reveal as soon as I figure out a way to re-cover some lamp shades. (Any advice from experienced seamstresses would be appreciated!)

Cholita thinks the location of her new room is great, at the top of the stairs and right next door to a bathroom!  For the first time, she's at school all day and gets to bring a lunchbox!

And last but not least, XiXi.
He's a kindergartener now and loving the top bunk of the bunk bed.  Downstairs, we hear a loud thud every morning as he insists on bypassing the ladder.

He's not relishing being the only boy in the family (besides Dad, of course), and is hanging out more with Franklin.

Five kids, five different schools.
I have to keep my schedule with me at all times because I can't keep things like this in my head:
Cholita's bus arrives at 4:17, except on Wednesdays when it comes at 3:37,
Lucy's bus comes at 3:03, except on Thursdays when it comes at 1:33,
Rose's bus comes at 2:58, except when it comes at 2:08....

In a nutshell, everyone is growing up too fast.
But it's good.
Saying goodbye to Bruder, I didn't shed a tear.
Lyle complimented me on steeling myself, but I just didn't feel it.
 He's ready.  It's time.  He's in a great place.

And then before we'd even stopped for the night,
he sent a text that said, "Thanks.  I love you guys."
And then I cried!