Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You have an eye

I sing to my babies.  I think most of us do.  Nate is almost always soothed by music, so I sing to him anytime he's fussy.  Not that he's ever fussy.

Last night, I was singing to Nate when Ella came in.  She sat and listened, also, and when it was time for her to go to bed, she asked me to sing to her the same songs I was singing to Nate.  I laid down beside her and she snuggled into me and said, "Okay, mom.  I'm so excited.  I'm ready.  Now, sing."

I sang a few old hymns, which is what I always veer toward when I'm trying to sooth the kids.  They're just right when you need to calm down.  Then she wanted Away in a Manger and Silent Night.  After each song she would say, "That was beautiful, Mom."  Then she would add, "If you sing the next song even better, I'll probably clap for you or something."

As I sang, I stroked her hair.  She has beautiful hair, when she remembers to comb it.  She shifted at one point and I poked her in the eye with my finger.  She said, "Mom, I don't mind that you poked me in the eye because sometimes I just need to be reminded that I have an eye.  You know, sometimes, I just get so busy doing this thing or maybe that thing, and I forget I even have an eye.  You are helping me remember that I have an eye."  Then she sighed.  "Thanks, Mom."

So when you are really busy today doing this thing or maybe that thing, don't forget.  You have an eye.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Decorating for Fall

I realize that most of you are about to decorate for Christmas, but I am resisting until after Thanksgiving, so I thought I'd share a fun project the kids and I did.  It takes next to no time to prepare and keeps the kids occupied for a bit.

Do you decorate for Fall?  I never did before children.  I never decorated for any season except Christmas before children.  Now, though, I want the kids to be excited and anticipating the upcoming seasons and holidays.  So I'm slowly accumulating decorations for each season.

Overall, my rule is that decorations must be free {or nearly free} and the kids must be able to help if not do it themselves.  It makes for nice crafts - the kind that can be thrown away after the season without too much complaint. 

This Fall I spent about $20 for decorating supplies, a little high for me, but most of the cost was in craft items I can reuse or d├ęcor I can pull out again next year.  For instance, a bag of paper mache gourds spray painted with metallic colors I already had.

My favorite decoration was our tree canvasses.  I saw this post from Jones Design Company awhile back and it struck a definite chord with me.  It was fabulous!  Even if the paintings ended up looking nothing like trees the colors would be just right for Fall.  I went to Joann's and got some acryllic paints in Fall colors.  I used canvasses so I could easily display them.  I think the project totalled around $15, and we still have a canvas {they were in 2-packs} and all the leftover paint for a later project.  So not free, but not bad.

Jack's painting

The kids loved this project.  They had a lot of fun and, surprisingly, so did I.  At first I kept trying to keep them within my rules, but eventually I just let them do whatever they wanted to do.

 Ella's painting

I hung them on the bookcase with 3M command strips.

They were SO excited!

I really like having something on that middle column, and will utilize it again, maybe even at Christmas.  Wreaths, maybe?

I put mine on the mantle and borrowed a little owl friend from Ella's room to keep it company.

This was an awesome project to do with kids.  I am planning on doing it again with different colors for different seasons.  You don't even need to do trees.  Maybe I could adapt it to make a holly wreath with red and green paint for Christmas?  Or lightly sketch out a flower or a cloud or.... 

Check out the Jones Design company link above if you want to see how to do this.  Paper {or canvas}, paint, and Q-tips is all you need!

If I don't post again before Thanksgiving, have a wonderful and happy one. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Brightening up the front of the house

I have been planning to paint our front door since we moved in.  It was a burgundy/purple shade with brass numbers, brass kick plate, and brass handleset.  The gray trim and shutters combined with the dark door made a dreary and uninviting entry to our home. 
Granted, this photo was shot on a cloudy day, but even in sunny weather, I don't think the exterior represents us very well.  It doesn't exactly say, "Fun people live here!"  It kind of says, "Enter at your own risk!  Mwahahahahah!"  In fact, I kind of get the feeling the house frowns at me with the way the roof line falls.  Poor sad house.
We decided to go with a sunny yellow on the door.  I think it plays nicely with the brick and the grays of the trim and shutters and gives a much happier feel to the house.  Also, it will hopefully look nice with nearly all of my wreaths.  Because, you know, that's important. 
Initially, I was thinking about different hues of green, blue, orange, and yellow.  I got LOTS of samples of each color and taped them to the house.  We decided that:
- blue was out because the living room and sunroom {visible as soon as you enter} are blue and it was a bit of blue overload. 
- greens were out because they blended in too much with the foliage. 
-oranges were out because they didn't mesh as well and we're not Vols fans.  Shhh.  Don't tell any of my Knoxville friends I said that.  Besides, I wanted something that would feel energetic and happy all year round, and the oranges I liked were too fallish.
So we were left with yellows.  I found out something through this project.  After filling in all of the screw holes from the kick plate, brass numbers, and old handle set, sanding it down, priming it twice, refilling places I couldn't see before, sanding it down again, priming again, and then doing four coats of yellow, I still wasn't satisfied with the coverage.  I later learned that yellow has less pigment than other colors, a fact which surprised me because it is such a saturated color.  Apparently that doesn't matter.  In fact, red is also a color with little pigment, which explains why I have had to use up to seven coats to be satisfied with the coverage when I've painted a wall red.  And {sheepishly}, yes, I am neurotic enough to do all seven coats.  Notice that we have no red walls in this house.  Or in our last house.  There's a reason for that.
Back to the house.  I knew from the beginning that by choosing yellow, I would have to paint the sidelights.  You can see in the picture above that it looks very odd and loud with everything else being so muted.  The windows around the house are white, so painting the sidelights white {instead of gray} should blend. 
Instant facelift!  Doesn't it have more presence?
But now everything else was looking dingy and off balance. 
What about the garage door trim?  Painting that white might balance the door a bit.
Kind of hard to see, so:
It's a little more obvious in person, but not in an in-your-face kind of way.  It definitely gave more symmetry to the house.
We started thinking at this point about the columns.  Actually, I'd been thinking about them from the beginning, but didn't want to jump into painting them if they looked better gray.  We have to replace at least one of them at some point soon {it's pretty chewed up},
and are thinking through our options there, but it wasn't too much trouble to paint them white in the meantime.
 Better.  Doesn't it look happier?  Like it just got it's teeth cleaned.  It almost looks like the roofline was raised a bit, doesn't it?  No?  Just me? 

There is one area I haven't finished because I can't reach it.  See behind the rain spout?  It's blocked by the trellis. I plan on fixing it, but I need an extention ladder to reach it, and frankly, you can't see it from most vantage points, so I'm not too concerned about getting it done before next spring.  To get this shot I'm standing in the flower bed and holding the camera up over my head.

From farther away you can't really tell at all.  I'm still in the yard for this shot.
And here's what started it all.  The yellow door.  I love the yellow we chose {at first I was scared because it is awfully bright, but with all the bright white trim, I love it even more}.  It's called Decisive Yellow by Sherwin Williams, color matched to a Behr outdoor paint by Home Depot.

I decided not to replace the kick plate {that metal rectangle on the bottom of some entry doors}.  The brass one that had been there had not a scratch on it, so I felt pretty comfortable that the door itself wouldn't get dinged up enough to need one.  If for some reason it does, we can always add one later. 

I made a yarn wreath and stuck a felt brooch in it for the fall.  I'll reuse the wreath with other decorations throughout the winter.  Can't you see snowflakes or something?

And here's my beautiful new hardware.  When we moved in, we had to replace all of the doorknobs in the house.   The insides of the existing ones were plastic and many had broken.  The kids {and I} kept locking ourselves in or out of rooms!  Thankfully, we found brand new doorknobs at a local salvage yard for a mere $5 a piece.  Phew!  That's about 80% off, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of needing to replace your doorknobs.  The only ones we still had to buy were the outside knobs {the ones that needed keys} and this handleset. 

I do know that I need to paint the doorjamb.  I am waiting because we need to replace the storm door anyway.  It is broken on the inside.  We are planning to replace it with a white model that gives you the option of a glass panel or a screen panel.

Remember what the house looked like before?

And now {on an equally cloudy day}.

The porch needs planters and either a swing or a couple of rocking chairs or something, but for now I am very happy with it.  And, yes, those three bushes look ridiculous but since they're there we'll just say they represent our three children.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  They are an integral part of our landscaping design.  Now don't mock my children.

The ceiling and inside of the header is on my list for next summer.  And don't you love that stained concrete {it was already like that when we moved in}?  It needs some touchups, but I plan on just copying what was already here. 

This, to me, says, "Welcome to a house where fun people live!"

I mean, I think we're fun.  We're at least mildly amusing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My girl

This is the last photo shoot from the set I took for my dad's birthday present.  Have you guessed a theme?  If not, it's plaid.  My dad loves plaid.  LOVES plaid.  He is known by his kids as the Plaid Dad.  For his birthday, my sister and I made a collage of our collective four kids wearing plaid with a caption that read Plaid Dad: the legacy lives on.  He loved it.

On to my girl.  My sweet girl who ping-pongs between being a huge helper and a six-year-old preteen.  She's wonderfully sweet, totally bossy, and the best tree climber this side of the neighborhood.

Ella is a girly girl.  She loves to wear dresses, loves patterned tights, loves to polish her nails, is trying to grow out her bangs {we had a wee relapse in the process here}, and wants to wear heels.  She asks me to curl her hair nearly everyday.

She is vivacious, energetic, loud, smart, and determined.  She wants badly to be in front of people, but gets shy when put in that position.  She regularly does the laundry and helps put away the dishes she can reach.

She is dramatic and convinced in her own mind.  "Mama, you and dad are going to be grandparents soon.  I'm going to grow up and probably get married and probably have kids and then you will be grandparents and your parents will be dead."  Sorry, mom and dad.  I guess you don't make it to old age.

Nearly everything she says is funny, but she doesn't mean for it to be.  "Mom, sometimes I feel like a princess in Egypt who gets her own way, and sometimes I feel like I'm a slave in a cave in Greece." 


She still struggles to read, but I know it will come.  Math is simple for her, and she really enjoys learning anything.  This one is very logical, for all her silliness.  She comprehends concepts beyond her years, but I don't know how that will translate to paper and grades in these elementary years.

She's left-handed, which causes her trouble in writing, but, hey, that's just like her mama, so I find I can be patient in helping with that.

She will take on any challenge and loves a little competition.  Just give the kid a tree and she'll try to climb it.  Challenge her to a race of any kind and she'll give it her all.

She is my shopping buddy, and often helps me choose jewelry and shoes from the closet.  I have wonderful memories of shopping and taking walks with my mom, and I try to foster those moments as often as possible.  Those times helped me get through the rough teen years unscathed, or less scathed, and I am striving to have a habit in place well before those years are upon us.

She is our only girl, and we have given her the task of caring for her brothers.  They are to protect her, she is to care for and nurture them.  They are to be best friends and not tell on each other {needless to say, a work in progress}.

She has become invaluable to me in caring for Nate, though that care has enabled me to delay in teaching him important rules {like coming when called and not fussing}.  I am beginning to see why the baby of a family often stays the baby for life.  It's more than just the parents - this girl would do anything for "her baby."

I love this girl.  I love watching her grow and mature, but I'd like to keep her small forever.  More than with the boys, I struggle with fear for her future.  I want to keep her wrapped up tightly, but I can't.  I have to allow her to figure out how to handle hurt and disappointment.  I am her mother, and Handsome Hero and I are her guides, but ultimately we can't determine her future.  That is in the Lord's hands.  I can't put her in a bubble.

She might like a bubble, though, if there were some pretty dress up clothes in it. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Absentminded Professor, or, Jack, if you prefer

Yesterday I shared an update on our little guy.  Today I'm going to update you child number two.

Jack is our funny man.  He does and says things for the sole purpose of entertaining you.  Last week Ella said, "I'm really attached to these CD's we're listening to."  Jack instantly responded, "I'm really attached to my sticky hands."

Watch me blow kisses, mama!

He's a laid back three-year-old.  I forget how mellow he is until I see him with other kids his age. 

Sometimes I like to ponder this great world of ours.

He's always pretending to be something else.  He is often Super Dog or Buzz Lightyear, but he's going to grow up to be a sea monster, which, he explained to me, means that his arms won't grow any longer because sea monsters have short arms.  Get ready, world.

 Still pondering.

He is a thinker living on a cloud.   He taught himself both the upper and lowercase alphabets and their sounds.  He knows how to count into the twenties.  He can count by fives.  I didn't teach him any of those things, and his sister is still struggling with some of them, so she didn't teach him either. 

En guard!

He is a total space cadet living in his own alternate universe.  How he has learned so much is beyond me, when he can't remember where his toys go, can't figure out how to pump on the swing, and can't button or zip his clothes.  He will live with us until he's thirty because he won't have figured out how to drive or tie his own shoes, but he will discover the cure for cancer.

Sheesh, it isn't real, mom.

He just mastered putting on socks, which, along with his new Velcro shoes, makes me very happy.  He feels no urgency to learn these life skills.  He is content to let us do everything for him, and yet he knows things, friends. 

 It could be a baton if I wanted it to be.  See?  And a one, and a two, and a one, two, three!

He is all boy, loving balls and dinosaurs and monsters and weapons of all kinds.  He can make anything into a sword.  I'm convinced it's a gift.

 Look at my awesome muscles.  Oh, yeah.
{He really was flexing in this picture.  I said to smile, and he said that he needed to show his muscles.}

He is my earliest riser, usually coming upstairs while I'm still reading my bible.  He snuggles in, sitting with me until I finish, and then prays with me. 

I'm pretending I'm holding a sword in my right hand, which makes me smile.

He has a very tender heart, and desires to be in fellowship at all times.  If he does something that hurts his brother or sister, he often tells on himself so that we can just get it over with.

Oh, yes.  I am posing.  I am so incredibly cute that you can't stand it, can you?

We do things differently with him than with Ella.  We want her to be a woman of God, but we want Jack to be a man.  A godly man.  A gentleman who loves and leads his own family someday.  If you ask Jack what his job is in relation to Ella, he will tell you that he is to protect her.  That's what brothers do.

 No, you can't.  Why would you even try?

"I love you" is always on his lips.  He still tells me what every time I put him to bed.  He's my boy.  

Will you be my friend?

I can't get enough of him.