Thursday, December 9, 2010

House Pics


This is the first time in nine years we are home for the holidays, which has its upsides and downsides.

Downside: Jack spent Thanksgiving Day raking 32 bags of leaves.




32 bags, no joke, plus another 21 the following weekend. When our real estate agent was pitching half an acre, he somehow forgot to mention the part about raking 53 bags of leaves.

Upside: We were in town for the school Turkey Trot, and got to watch our first grader forfeit a win in favor of helping her little sister cross the finish line.




Awww.

But I digress. The point of this post is to show you some pictures of the house and I had better stay on topic because I have about 20 of them to upload.

This is not only the first time since we were married that we're home for the holidays, it's the first time we're in a home at all. Nine years of dwelling in small apartments has given us a happy, daily appreciation for things like grass, and storage space, and not having to worry about people being annoyed when they can hear our kids cry. Or jump or yell or play. Or when they poop in the pool at their sister's birthday party.

When we moved out of our last apartment in Santa Barbara, we left behind all of our furniture except for one bedroom set and a crib, so we're basically starting from scratch. We still have a long ways to go, but here are a few of the projects we've finished so far -

The first item of business after unpacking, was figuring out where to put our sweet 2004 27-inch beast of a box television set.




The answer came to me on top of a double decker bus. Jack's parents were in town and treating us to a tour of the city, when I got an email that someone in the ward had left this baby out on their curb for free pickup.



It weighs about 400 pounds, and I had to have it. I made Jack and his dad drag it home, then spent every Saturday morning for two months doing this.



Did you know that paint stripper can burn a hole right through your hands? Twice.

But every birth story is painful, and now what would have been garbage has a whole new life.





Once you start stripping furniture and painting it white, it's kind of hard to stop. I found these at the thrift store for $7 total.

Cute.



Cuter...



(Cutest!)




Next item of business were the walls. When we moved in they were a deep, what-were-they-thinking terra cotta red.





And now they are warm and happy Niagra Falls Blue, and Moonlit Yellow.





The kitchen also needed a little something, as the custom corner cabinets the owners provided just weren't quite right.



After...




The cabinet was a $30 find (!) at the Arlington Flea Market. The bulletin board, I dug out of a recycle bin, then painted the edges and covered it with fabric. The only thing missing are your Christmas cards. (Do you see the six beautiful, but lonely families on the right? Their party can't start until you arrive.)

We've also had a ton of luck on Craigslist.

This desk was 30 bucks. With chair.




And this was only 70 (!)



...plus the cost of permanent damage done to Jack's back when he lifted it into the van. (That bow, by the way, is a Christmas decoration. I have yet to buy something on Craigslist that comes gift wrapped.)

Also, in case you think I only know how to search Craigslist for white furniture, my favorite find so far is this antique sideboard.




The owner said he had over 50 requests for it, but chose us because I sounded nice, and because I was "so consistent." I guess it pays to be nice. It also pays to flood people's inbox and voicemail until they finally throw up their hands and consent to sell you their stuff.

When we brought it home and set it against the wall it looked a little lonely and sad, like it was wondering how it went from living the DC good life to serving as a hide-and-go-seek cave for our kids. So I gathered up every frame we own



repainted them, ripped up a few art books, then laid everything in the entryway for a week and made people step over them



until I settled on an arrangement.




I'll stop now, before you start begging me to. Also, because if I take any more pictures you might find out that some of our windows are still covered like this




or that while we save for a new couch, we are sitting on a nasty free one from Craigslist that looks like this.



Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Put a Ring On It


Yesterday morning, at 9:55am to be exact, my phone rang.

I was across the house at the time, holding a 2-year old and his collection of trucks, so I got to it too late, and missed the call.

This is what I saw on the caller ID.



Prince William? Shut up!! Missing a phone call from Prince William is a big deal.

I just didn’t realize how much of a big deal until today, when I woke up this to headline.



Well! Looks like he settled for the next Kate on his list.

Couldn't he at least have tried my cell?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Click or Treat


With every holiday comes the obligation to pose children for pictures. If we don't capture, blog and scrapbook every time our kids hold up a new Christmas ornament, show off their Easter dresses, or wave little American flags on the front lawn, surely we have failed as a mothers. Right??

In our family, pictures are always taken a couple days in advance of the actual festivities. When the kids grow up, I want their holiday memories to be all about the traditions, good food and celebration, and not about their mother snapping at them to look at the camera and get their finger out of their nose, or tossing out threats like, "Smile big, or no birthday for you!"

So. We took our Halloween pictures yesterday.

In order to check blogging off my list as well, I present -

Jolie.

Jolie knew by September that she wanted to be an angel, which couldn’t be more appropriate. She is calm, sweet, loving, angelic. This also makes the third year in a row she has chosen to be something that flies. Perhaps next year we'll be trick-or-treating with a little President Uchtdorf.




Leah.

We took Leah to the thrift store this year, and promised to buy whatever she picked out herself. Then we unleashed her, crossed our fingers, and hoped for the best.

She came back with something pink and sheer and glittery, and affixed with the face of a Japanimation character I’m not familiar with (as opposed to all the Japanimation characters that I AM familiar with).

I started dreaming up cartoonish Japanese hairstyles, when she spotted a 39¢ pink foam hat that she couldn’t live without, and the look took a left turn, and headed west.



Cal.

Cal is at my favorite stage. Which is, the stage where they have no control over what you put them in. We wanted his costume this year to be some homage to our new hometown, so...



If I were President Obama, or at least Joe Biden, or at least Jill Biden, I would want Cal as my top Secret Service agent. He is trustworthy and loyal, and can bite people in the arm until they bleed. Ask Leah.

Unfortunately, he refuses to keep the sunglasses or earpiece on for more than about a minute. So, when we actually go trick-or-treating, he will instead be wearing this sad little hand me down.



(That oughta teach him)

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slow Down a Little


Wow, fall came quickly. The leaves are changing every day, while our routine is becoming more consistent. Each morning starts at 6:00 (which is 3:00 Pacific Time, which is what I sometimes like to announce as I’m stumbling out of bed). Then follows a steady rush of packing lunches, tying shoes, and walking to the bus stop (me and the kids), biking to the metro, riding the metro, a full day of work, and another commute back home (Jack), first grade (Jolie), preschool, playgroups and soccer (Leah & Cal), dinner, dishes, and the perpetual task of settling into the house (me, and my boyfriends at the Fairfax Home Depot). I think it’s safe to say that our fall has become as busy as our summer was lazy.

Thank goodness Columbus got lost on his way to India, and gave all of us the day off on Monday. I had really been looking forward to Columbus Day, as had my mile-long list of neglected projects that could finally be tackled – Refinishing the entertainment center, hanging the living room pictures, sorting the winter clothes, catching up on blog posts, etc. etc. etc.

And then, the night before we were to roll up our sleeves, I read a message, given last week by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

He talked about the rushed pace of life, and about refocusing on what matters most. I adored his simple advice. So much, that I tossed my to-do list (gulp), and we instead spent the afternoon with the kids, on a 1920's farm, accomplishing absolutely nothing.

As we did, his counsel resonated in my mind.


"One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate.



Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We can all think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list.



They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.




It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.





The wise resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life. They follow the advice “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” In short, they focus on the things that matter most.




There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions.




We would do well to slow down a little,





proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances,






focus on the significant,




lift up our eyes,





and truly see the things that matter most."


-President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Uchtdorf is a German aviator, a former airline executive, and a man I believe to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. His full message, "Of Things that Matter Most," can be seen here, or read here. It takes 10 minutes to read, and if ever you have felt overwhelmed, I highly recommend that you do. If you haven't, at least read up to the part about ballpoint pens in space. That part is my favorite.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grader


Jolie started first grade this week. Since her last day of kindergarten, Jack & I have been talking up the transition she would be making to "grader," telling her what an exciting responsibility it is to attend school full day, ride the bus, use the sharp scissors, etc.

Unfortunately, in my eagerness to prepare her (and myself) for this next step out of our nest, I made a couple of mistakes.

First, I made the mistake of telling her she was now old enough to pick out her own clothes.
.




Then, I made the mistake of taking her with me to Walmart,




where I made the mistake of walking past the Hannah Montana display.





Sigh. I could argue her taste, but I could never argue with the total confidence she felt picking it out. So, I put my hands up.

They're playing my song,

And the butterflies fly away.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Beck or Biz?


.Saturday was the 47th anniversary of the Civil Rights March on Washington DC.
And like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jack and I both had a dream.

So,

Jack…


went to the Lincoln Memorial


and joined over 100,000 American activists


at Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally



And I...


took the kids


to "Yo Gabba Gabba Live."


featuring Biz Markie


We both had great seats at our respective events, which sparks an interesting debate.
Who would you rather have seen up close on Saturday,

Glenn Beck,


or Biz Markie?

Before making a hasty decision, please review the following arguments:

Glenn Beck: Take yourself back to the late 1700s, and consider the inspired beginnings of the United States. We are a nation founded upon principles of freedom, virtue, and faith in God, all of which Beck’s movement seeks to restore.

Biz Markie: Take yourself back to 1989, and consider this. Turn it loud my friends, and consider this.


Genderbred Houses

My 14-year old daughter invited friends over tonight to make gingerbread houses. She's our oldest child, and it was the first time she ...