Monday, March 31, 2014

Jack's all boy room

Last summer we redid Ella's room so that it didn't look like she lives in a dungeon basement.  Jack has been waiting patiently for his turn to come out of the darkness, but he finally started wondering where his pretty room was.

The room was dull, dingy, and screamed basement. There wasn't really a place for books and toy storage outside of the drawers under his bed {which are wonderful but not enough}, so we put this white cabinet in {above}, but it was always a bit tipsy and made me nervous.  This definitely wasn't going to work for two boys - we're going to move Nate in here when he stops waking up talking and singing in the middle of the night.  Yes, I'm serious.

I didn't really have a direction for the room except that it needed to be blue, the only worthy color in Jack's world.  When I found this home d├ęcor-weight blue camo fabric on clearance for $2/yd, I bought them out.  I used some for curtains, and will use more for other projects around the room.  I have thoughts of making a teepee out of it.  Wouldn't that be fun?

 We painted the walls ultra white to make it as bright and cheerful as possible, which was a little hard for Jack to swallow, but he only has one window {which is always in the shade} and there is blue nearly everywhere, so he came around.  The thing that makes the room is the peg board Handsome Hero installed along one wall.  I love this wall.  I like to pet it.

The bed area is the least complete.  I don't have bedding yet, but it will be blue!  I'm trying to figure out a solution to the difficulty of making an upper bunk.  Any ideas?  I'm thinking of doing away with the top sheet and replacing it with a kid sized comforter/duvet that can just be folded at the foot during the day.  Also, we are planning to hang lanterns from the wall by each bunk so the boys each have a bunk reading light, and I'm going to make something for book storage.  Not sure what.  Maybe a book sling with a pocket for the flashlight?  Maybe a narrow basket that we can attach to the wall?  I don't know, but it will be pink!  No, wait.  That's not right.  Blue!

These cute car prints came from Ikea and I already had the frames and mats.

I made this sign by simply tracing some letters and then nailing around my line, just eyeballing distance, and wrapping string randomly around.  I still need to trim my threads!

The licence plates are from everywhere we've lived plus New York, where my sister lives and Handsome Hero's brother lived.  The pegboard baskets came from a store that was closing in the mall.  I grabbed all they had. I love that we can rearrange everything if need be.  Peg board is just so BOY, you know?

Nothing's permanent.  Everything is hung with hooks.

Jack loves his room.  It took him a little while to be okay with it being white instead of blue, but he really enjoys playing in here now.  He doesn't want it messed up and is beginning to take ownership of cleaning the space.  I hope he stays that way.

Oh, and here's his closet.  I didn't paint it, but I did move his workbench in here since it's still usable beneath hanging shirts.

Here's the cool part.  See that little door?  It leads to an under-the-stairs storage area that we are planning to make into a secret hide out.  There's even another exit out the other side for escaping pirates and stuff.  I'm already planning my Mom of the Year party.

This might be my favorite room in the house.  I think it's because we took a design risk by putting up the pegboard.  Or maybe it's because we worked together on it and had fun in the process.  Maybe it's just because I love doing kid rooms.

So what's still to do?  I found a low cabinet for book storage to take the place of the bookshelf under the window, which is actually a shoe shelf from our closet.  You can't put any books upright and they keep spilling out, so that's next.  Then bedding, bunk lights, and a book holder of some kind and we're done!

Until it's time to work on the secret passage way....

Friday, March 28, 2014

Painting a chalkboard wall

I love chalkboards.  LOVE them.  With chalkboard paint available in not only black but also several other colors, you can put a chalkboard on pretty much anything.  I've painted cabinet doors, glass canisters, and now a wall.

When we moved in, the basement looked like this. 

Gradually we got organized and it started looking like this.  BORRRRRRING!  About the most you can say is that it is a bit more organized.

This area was our homeschool zone, so I needed it to be functional and fun.  The first thing I did was paint a chalkboard wall. 

The basement is really large and there's lots of natural light in here {there's a walkout to what used to be a pool, so I wasn't concerned about painting a black wall. We chose not to use a magnetic primer.  I've used it before with only marginal success after three coats.  At $20 per quart and a minimum of six coats likely, we opted for another route.  We bought five of these magnetic knife racks from Ikea and spaced them across the top of the wall.  They blend into the wall, but are very strong. 

The kids LOVE writing on the chalk board and love cleaning it even more.  Isn't that weird?  They like to take wet rags to it together and then blow on the wall until it's dry so that they can write again.  I don't know how much we'll use it in actual teaching, but it's a huge hit as a toy!

The basement is far from done.  In fact, until a couple of weeks ago this was the only wall down here that had been painted.  But it's a start.  I'll share some more basement updates next week.

p.s.  If you are interested in painting with chalk board paint, it's very easy.  It needs to be stirred really well, but it's not hard to apply or anything.  It comes in many colors now, or you can mix your own chalk board paint with recipes all over the internet.  I would like to try that sometime, but for this area, I really like the old fashioned black board look.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Birthdays and Opera Gloves

Last weekend was a big deal in the Lewis house.  Handsome Hero turned 34 and Ella turned 7.  We have been so crazy busy that I didn't have an opportunity to write a sappy, wonderful, heart-felt blog note for my Handsome Hero, or a tear-inducing post to my only little-no-longer girl who is not allowed to keep growing but does so anyway. 

I am writing a post about my love, my Handsome Hero, that I will post next week if time allows, but for now I will tell you a little story about my Ella.  My sweet, bossy, funny, all elbows, wanted-to-be-a-mermaid-when-she-grew-up-until-she-learned-she-had-to-be-a-human, still-can't-say-yellow{lellow}-or-animal {aminal}, still-believes-in-the-tooth-fairy, Ella.

I love her.  She's my only girl.  I want her to stay little always, but she has that natural desire to be grown up.  Why do we all want to be older until we want to be younger? 

Last week we went out for pizza.  It was kids-eat-free night at Brixx, a local pizza joint with really good food.  Ella asked if she could wear gloves.  I said she could.  She came out of her room wearing elbow length opera gloves with fingers at least an inch too long.  She asked if she could wear a hat.  I said she could.  She disappeared again and returned with a very fancy hat indeed.  All this over a school dress and leggings.  Jack took one look at her, ran into his room, and came back out wearing his winter mittens.  No one gets ahead of Jack.  Handsome Hero was wearing shorts and sandals, just so you have a vision of how cohesive we were.

When we got to the restaurant, Ella spent a few moments adjusting and admiring herself in the backseat, and then alighted from the van.  There's no other word to describe it.  We paraded into the restaurant, Ella taking the lead.  As the girl at the front led us to our booth, Ella began to wave a la Queen Elizabeth to all the customers on the way to our table.

But here's the thing.  No one noticed her.  No one so much as looked up from their thin crust.  Not to be deterred, she called out to me loudly over her shoulder and in her best imitation of a British accent, "Mothah!  Isn't this place LOOOOOVELEEEEEEEEEEEEE?!"  Do you have any idea how hard it was to keep it together?

Still, no one looked up. Maybe it was the loud music.  Maybe the sauce was just too good.  It was a little sad to watch, because she had taken such effort to be seen.  Would just one person please tell her how much they like her hat?  She will totally be your BFF.

When the waiter came to our table, he was all business.  He had no time for little girls in opera gloves and fancy hats.  He had no time for British accents.  He just didn't see her, even when she rested her chin on her folded hands, elbows on the table, and smiled like she was posing for an 80's glamour shot.  Not a glance

Now, you and I know that this is life.  Sometimes we get noticed for things we wish we didn't.  Sometimes no one pays attention when we're desperate for recognition.  Ella doesn't know this yet, but experiences like this will teach her.  She didn't seem to be bothered by the lack of attention.  It just made her more determined.  I think that that will be a good trait as she gets older and works toward goals, but it was hard to see her try so hard without results.

She decided to go to the bathroom.  I also needed to go, so we both got out of the booth, but this was not her plan.  "Mom, could you walk behind me, please?"

Prance, prance, prance.  Wave, wave, wave.  Hair flip.  Hair flip.

Still no attention.  One thing I'll say for my Ella. She is persistent.

We settled into our meal, but at the end, she reached into her purse {did I mention she brought a velvet clutch?} and told Handsome Hero that she would really like to pay.  She had brought her debit card {it came in a purse set when she was a toddler and is about 1/4 inch thick}.  He told her that she could pay for the kids and he would pay for the grown-ups.  This was pretty safe since it was kids-eat-free night.  Since our waiter was clearly not going to enter into this charade, I led her to the front desk.  There was another man there who immediately complimented Ella on her beautiful outfit.  While she preened, I explained that she was there to pay for her meal, and he understood where I was going without any prompting.  She held out her card and he took it, did a very convincing job of swiping it, printed out a receipt, and handed her a crayon to sign her name on the dotted line.

How does something so small make me want to cry?

I said, "You must have children."  He smiled.

 "Actually, I have a little girl."

To the man at Brixx, on the highly unlikely chance that you are one of the tens of people who read this blog, I thank you.  Thank you for being so understanding with a little girl who has such a desire to be grown up.  You made that little girl's day.  And her mother's.

And happy birthday, little one.  May your life always have fancy hats and opera gloves, but when it doesn't, your dad and I are here to pick you up.  I love you.

 Pictures taken last summer at the beach.