Monday, May 20, 2013

Ella's New Room!

Last week while Ella was away visiting my parents, we finally did her room.  In our whole painting-one-room-a-month scheme, the kids' rooms are kind of low on the priority list.  However, with Ella out of the way for a whole week it seemed like the perfect time to do something special for her.  This move has been harder on her than we had anticipated, and we knew this would make her feel really special.

Her room before may not have looked bad in pictures, but the walls were an industrial flat beige with a huge number of holes.  We decorated with a leftover rug and pictures for the interim.

I love these embroidery hoop numbers, but they are a little young for a six-year-old.  Anyone local want them?  They're yours!

About the only thing we had done to update the room was let her pick her own closet door knobs, and she picked the blingiest knobs Hobby Lobby had to offer.  If you've seen Hobby Lobby's knob selection, you know that's saying something.

It's hard to see in the picture, but they're glittery disco balls.

This is the fifth time Ella has had a new room.  Seems like a lot of new rooms for a six-year-old, doesn't it?  The first room, her nursery, is one of my favorite rooms we've ever done.  There were so many friends who helped us to make that space special and beautiful and I still think of those wonderful people every time I think of that room.

When Jack was born, he took over the nursery {it was gender neutral} and she moved into her first big-girl room.

Only six months later, we moved to Wisconsin and Ella moved into her third room.  We didn't do much in terms of decorating, which is good because when we found we were expecting Nate, we decided to have Ella and Jack share a room and redid it {room number four}, building built-ins and getting bunkbeds.

I would have showed pictures of each of those rooms, but I can't get Blogger to upload them.  I actually currently can't upload anything prior to this move.  Bad Blogger!  Sorry about that.

Anyway, back to the present, since apparently that is where I am supposed to stay.  It is likely that Ella will never share a room again, and she only has brothers, so I wanted her room to be unapologetically girly!  I had many thoughts running through my head.  Doing girl rooms is so fun! First, I wanted to do plank walls.  Something like this:
It was going to be awesome.  A little cottagy, a soft, sophisticated yet rustic little girl's room.  Handsome Hero was willing to tackle the job and I was really excited.
That is, I was really excited until I started thinking about those knobs.  Those blingy knobs.  Those glittery, over-the-top knobs that did not go with my plank walls at all.  I started to realize that the plank walls were my dream and she would not appreciate them in any way, so why were we going to all that trouble?  It was a hard dream to release, and I may still be gazing longingly at pictures of rooms with plank walls, but she is not a baby anymore and has definite likes and dislikes and this room would only be special if I listened to those.
Case in point:  Ella originally wanted to paint her walls red or bold yellow.  Um, no.  It's a basement room, and needs a light color.  She was cool with that, and we alternated between pale pinks and yellows each time we went to Home Depot {we always go by the paint department and the kids each choose a paint swatch, which for some reason entertains them the whole rest of the trip}.  One day, I found a gallon of oops paint in the back.  You know oops paint, right?  The paint that has already been mixed that they sell really cheaply at the back of the paint section?  It's a potential treasure trove.  The oops paint that I found was a really high quality paint in a lavender color.  It was beautiful.  It was perfect.  It was seven dollars.
I bought it, keeping in mind this fabric I had in my stash that I've been waiting for the opportunity to use.  It's VERY expensive fabric {like, $100/yard} that I found in an end-of-roll bin for two dollars years ago.  It was a great match to the paint, and the room started taking form.  I showed the color to Ella and asked her what she thought of this pretty shade and she said slowly, "Well, if you painted my room that color it would make me very sad."
Dream number two shattered.
This was distressing.  And not fair.  How could she stomp on my dreams for my her room like that?  What a rude thing to do!
I went around in circles for a bit, regrouped, and came up with this.

I'm actually pretty proud of the space, and she loves it.  Want to see her reaction?
So here are the details.  The walls are a pale pink {I can't remember the name but it came from the white section of paint colors}.  The furniture is the same, but I added the yellow table {and painted the top shiny silver}.  I would have loved to put an awesome statement lamp on it, but she loves this princess lamp that some neighbors gave her a few years ago.  I would love if it "accidentally" broke, but hey, it's not my room.  I may still be working on realizing that.

Last weekend I found this hand-crocheted afghan at a yard sale.  It was in perfect condition {if a bit stinky} and after a few washes it is one of my favorite parts of her room.

The curtains were some leftovers that I made for our last house, so they were free.  The branch is from our backyard {I sprayed it gold.  Can you tell?  Neither can I}, and I already had most of the little creatures on the branches that I'd saved from various other projects.  The pom-poms cost about a dollar apiece to make {except the silver - that was about three dollars} and took about ten minutes each following this easy tutorial.
Handsome Hero changed out the puny 1986 light fixture for a ceiling fan.  So much better.  I would have loved a little, shiny, crystal chandelier, but ceiling fans are infinitely more practical, and there are enough other cute girly pieces in the room to make up for not having a chandelier.  Plus, it has a remote control.  Awesome.

Ella needed a place to display her artwork and cards, and I came up with the idea of hanging her papers from a clothesline {it went with the plank walls}.  With the new motif, the clothesline morphed into this little display.

She has a contained place to store her pictures, but once the clips are full, she needs to edit.  I hope it will be a fun way for her to learn to do something that does not come naturally.

Our only real splurge in the room was the area rug.  It was from Homegoods for $150.  It may seem silly to spend real money on a rug for a kid's room, but:
1.  The carpeting is ugly.
2.  The rug is soft and she plays on her floor all the time.
3.  It's an indoor/outdoor rug, so we can hose it down if we need to.
4.  I love the rug in or out of her room.  I already have three places in mind to put it if it doesn't work out in her room.  It will not be a waste of $150.
5.  The same rug at other stores was close to $300.

I know that in pictures it looks a bit small, but in person I really like the size because it separates the space into zones.  Originally, I had wanted two small rugs for either side of the bed, which I would put where the dresser is now.  But when I started moving furniture, I realized that with the placement of doors and windows, most pieces were in the best place for them.  The only big changes ended up being the direction of the bed and the play kitchen moving to the opposite wall.

Originally, we challenged ourselves to do this room for under $250.  How did we do?

Fan: $70
Afghan: $10
Pompoms: $5
Curtain rods: $15
Area rug: $150
Pink bins: $20
Spray paint: $5
Clothesline billboard wall: $10
Paint: $60
Oh, and those knobs.  Those perfectly fitting blingy knobs:  $5
Total:  $350

Um, yikes!  We would have been fine except for the purchase of the rug, and we would make the same decision again for the reasons listed above.  I guess it's a bit of comfort that plank walls would have cost significantly more, and we had been planning on putting in crown moulding, and may in the future, but decided that the carpet was more important for now.  So really, we saved a lot {picture me winking with a Cheshire cat smile}!  In fact, I think we should go out and celebrate our savings with a little shopping spree!  What do you think?


Thursday, May 16, 2013

We went to the zoo

Ella has been spending the week with her G.G. and Poppy.  While she's been gone, we've been preparing a surprise for her.  We're redoing her room.  Well, technically, we're doing her room.  As I wrote earlier, we are painting a room a month, and hers hadn't gotten done yet.  It's coming along {which is good because she comes home tomorrow} and I'm excited to show you that next week.

With so much time focused on Ella even in her absence, I wanted to make sure I set aside time for fun with Jack.  We needed to get re-acquainted.  I don't get a whole lot of one-on-one time with Jack, and he's so different when Ella's not around!  She's so social that he takes the role of the quiet one and we sometimes miss out on his wonderful three-year-old thought process.

Case in point:  A couple of nights ago, we were out late, and the whole way home Jack was enamored of the moon. He was so excited that the moon was in his window and that he could watch it even as we wound around the country roads. We tried to explain that the moon was the same one we would see at our house, but he didn't understand. When we entered a wooded area and he was watching the moon through the trees, he said, "Look! The moon is turning off and on!" We talked about how wonderful God's plan was to create the sun to light the day and the moon to light the night. Jack said, "I like how the stars follow the moon to our house." 

It's sweet insights into his mind like this that I want to treasure.

So, yesterday, the boys and I went to the zoo.  We had gotten to go a few weeks ago for a special free night {due to Nate's illness - I guess there are perks to being sick}, and knew we wanted to get a membership.  We're a big enough family now that buying a membership is often just a few dollars more than buying a one-time pass.  And I have a feeling that the zoo and the Lewis's are going to be great friends.

Can I express how much I love having two boys?  No, I cannot.

I'm a peeker, Mom.  I don't need to go all the way in.  I can just look at the other kids having fun and that's enough for me.

Look, Mom!  The red panda is playing peek-a-boo with me!

Why, yes, I am adorable.
Just thought you'd want another peek at me.

Checking out the rhinos.
Why do I have to sit on the stupid turtle just so that my mom can take a picture.  Well, I'll do it, but I won't smile.

Jack rode the deer on the carousel and all he could talk about was riding it again.  Or the fox.  But probably the deer.
I kept getting, "Oh, how cute" looks as we walked and didn't know why until I came around and saw this.  Want to know something funny?  He wasn't asleep.  He was just chillaxing.
Oh, yeah, baby.  Soft pretzels and funnel cake fries!  Good thing Mom didn't know we could bring in our own food.  I'm going to enjoy this while it lasts!  Next time she'll probably bring carrots.
Happy food dance.

Oh, dude.  This feels really good on a hot day,

But making other kids wet?  That's WAY better!
So what if it's not a fox or a deer?  It's a three-year-old's prerogative to change his mind.

We had an awesome time, with only one minor catastrophe.  Notice Jack's pants in the picture above?  No, he didn't wet himself.  He fell into that water he was standing in a few pictures above and walked around the rest of the time like he had had an accident.  I didn't think about it until later, but I'll bet the other parents and the girl in charge of the carousel weren't too thrilled to see him coming to sit on one of the animals....

The only thing that would have been better is if Handsome Hero could have come with us.
Oh, and Nate isn't wearing a tube because he took it out.  We got a new one delivered today.  Keep praying!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Remember When? A Mother's Day Poem

Remember back in the early days when things were black and white?
Remember when one of the kids was wrong and one was right?
Remember when we knew because it was just so obvious?
Remember when we couldn't imagine them fooling us?

Remember when the crying was done by the one who was being harmed?
Remember when we knew when to ignore, when to be alarmed?
Remember when they hadn't figured out which buttons to push?
Remember when we knew what action to give and to which tush?

Those days, they're gone!  It all seems gray!
Who did what to whom?  Who didn't obey?
When one of them hurts, I'm learning to say,
"And what did you do to add to the fray?"

I want to know all - the great Momenator!
The awesome, benevolent and kind dictator.
But they've gotten smarter.  They've gotten sneaky.
And {dare I say it?}, they've gotten cheeky.

And so I am learning how moms get "fine lines."
We furrow and purse, and try to read minds.
Why did he do that? And what is she saying?
I'm trying to figure them out as I'm graying.

My face often holds a look of confusion.
And it only gets harder!  That's a foregone conclusion.
The things that I struggle with now will seem minor
As my role becomes that of my kids' heart refiner.

As I look forward to that time coming quickly
I want to make sure the foundations's laid thickly.
I can't squish them down.  I can't keep them small.
Already, I'm watching them grow big and tall {well, two out of three...}.

I want to enjoy this crazy wild ride.
I want kids who always feel loved from inside
This home that we've made, this refuge, this haven,
Who know how to live as Christ wants them behavin'.

As each kid grows up and is much more complex,
The problems are not just the usual suspects.
I hope, on this journey, that I'm getting wiser.
I'm learning to lean on my perfect Advisor.

Lord, give me the grace and the wisdom to see
How to best raise these kids that You've given to me.
I'm learning how smart I'm not with each new day.
I'm learning to trust that You'll show me the way.

The way to be the best mom You'd have me be
As we strive to guide them and help them to see
Your glory.  Thank you for giving to me
Three models of Your creativity!

My tenacious Ella {the one in pink}.  She will try anything.  I admire her courage. 

 My sweet boy, timid, yet with a big heart for others.  I love when he holds my hand.

My cuddler.  I get to enjoy his babyhood for an extra long time, yet long for his growth and health.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Dining Room {and an update on Nate the Great}

I love the dining room in this house because it is larger than most and doesn't feel cramped even with the table extensions.  It needed lots of cosmetic work, and was a priority for me because it is our primary eating area {remember we put the piano in the eat-in kitchen area}.  At the beginning she was no beauty!

First up we had the wallpaper taken down.

Then we painted the walls Fawn Brindle by Sherwin Williams.  I. Love. This. Color.  It  is such a pretty gray.  It feels warm, moody, and cozy. 


I love the color so much that I'm planning to use it in the stairwell going down to the basement as well {we have a huge window in that space as well as a large chandelier that will take the place of the puny little pendant light currently there, so it won't be too dark}.

I knew I wanted to replace the chandelier, because the one that was there was very rustic.  Now, as you know from this post about the red chandelier over the piano, I love to paint ugly chandeliers and lamps, but since I have the red one so close, and also have a soon-to-be bright yellow one to put in the stairwell, I wanted to put something a little more formal and blingy, and maybe modern, in the dining room.  Well, Handsome Hero called from Home Depot one day soon after we moved in and said, "Hey, I found this really cool chandelier on clearance for seventy-five percent off. What do you think?"


It checked off all of my boxes.  It was blingy without being over-the-top, it was modern, and it was more formal than the other lights, putting a bit of separation between the dining room and rest of the common area.

Then came the quest for the perfect curtains.  I knew I wanted to do full functioning panels.  We weren't putting the nasty brown mini-blinds back up so we needed privacy.  As you can see, the dining room has a double front-facing window at street level, so the curtains needed to be full enough to close.  I found the perfect fabric at a local store called The Fabric Market.  I hadn't gone in with any sort of color in mind, but when I saw this one, I knew it was IT.  It was beautiful and just what I didn't realize I wanted!  It already went with the other fabrics in the room and played nicely with the living room colors. 

But there was a problem.  It was twenty dollars a yard and I needed six yards.  That is before buying lining and the curtain rod and rings clips {so the curtains could glide easily since they were going to be closed every night}. 

Now, those of you who sew {or play at sewing like I do} know this is not a bad price for nice fabric that will lay beautifully.  And coming in at, say, seventy-five dollars a panel, it isn't a bad price for  nice purchased panels that are extra long. Remember, we have nine-foot ceilings so the typical eighty-four inch panels look silly.  Still, it seemed extravagant.

I continued looking, even going as far as Chattanooga to find something cheaper that I liked as much.  I finally found something I liked for twelve dollars a yard, but when Handsome Hero saw it he said that while it was pretty, he thought that I would always be wishing I had held out for what I really wanted.  He reminded me that, unlike all of our other houses, we plan on staying here and it is sometimes worth it to invest in what you really want.

I love that man. 

The pictures don't capture the true colors in the space, but in person it's perfect.  I am so glad I got what I truly wanted, but I'm also glad I really investigated and knew this fabric was the right one.

Just to save you some pain, if you are looking to make curtains, check the repeat of your fabric.  That is the measurement between one place in the pattern and where that place appears again.  This fabric had a thirteen inch repeat, so I had to allow for that so that my curtains matched.  If they don't match, it will bug you forever.  The fabric store should be able to help you with this.

 Sorry the above and below pictures are dark.  Anyone want to tell me how to take pictures in a room with so much natural light?

I'm really glad we went with ring clips.  I had been concerned that they would make the curtain look like a shower curtain, but I don't think they do at all, and opening and closing the curtains is much easier than if I had sewn a pocket in the panel.

So here is what we have still on our to-do list for this room. 

1.  We need to put trim up below the chair rail.  We're not sure what style we'll go with.  We want it to be somewhat traditional so that it doesn't go out of style, but don't want it to be too formal.

2.  Also, I'm planning to stencil the top to look like wallpaper.  I'm not sure how quickly that will happen.  It's one of those projects that I want to tackle all at once, and it may be awhile before I have that kind of time.

3.  I have upholstered the dining room chairs three times now.  I really like the current cushions that I did for our last house in Wisconsin.  We didn't use the dining room there that often, and the upholstery was simply what I liked with no thought to kid-friendliness.  Now that we're using the dining room for most meals, I need to find an attractive way to make it kid-friendly.  I keep making the kids sit on kitchen towels and follow them around when they're hands are yucky, trying to protect those stupid cushions.  They're just cushions, for Pete's sake {should I capitalize Pete when saying for Pete's sake?  Just wondering}. 

4.  I am not sure if we need more art in the room.  I don't want to overdo it and make it look crowded, so I'm waiting until the stenciling is done to add anything.

5.  I think the space would look more grounded with a rug under the table, but I don't really want to put one there, at least while the kids are young.  It's so much easier to clean the hardwood than a carpet.  So maybe that is something to keep in mind for a few years down the road.

All in all, we love our dining room.  It suits us now, even without being totally done.  Want to come over?  I make a mean homemade pizza.  Just don't get your grubby hands on my cushions!
Update on Nate the Great:  He's doing well - just got his tube put back down for the sixth time.  Again, when he took it out we tried to see if he could make it without one, but this time he lost six ounces a day, so we quickly put it back in.  Handsome Hero has been trained to replace the tube, which he has already had to do twice.  It takes some of the anxiety off knowing that we can take care of this ourselves.  Gater's muscle is developing.  He's able to sit by himself and is growing in his play. 
Inbetween tubes
We begin occupational therapy in addition to speech therapy this week.  He has been evaluated twice, and both times the conclusions have been the same.  He's right on track mentally.  No delay there.  His physical development is at the age of a six month old, which is what we expected.   Hopefully we see some improvement with this additional therapy that will enable him to eat soon.  He is consistent with desiring water from a spoon, but still won't take food.  Again, thanks for your continued prayers.