Friday, June 27, 2014

Staycation Plans: Learning to Just Relax at Home

I am currently counting down the hours until my vacation from work. I mean, let's be honest, no mom ever gets a real vacation, but few days off from commuting and office work I am definitely looking forward to. I have decided to take the whole week surrounding the Fourth of July off this year. And what are our plans you ask? Staycation!

We'd like to take the time just to relax. We rarely get even a weekend where we aren't running around like crazy people prepping/cleaning for guests or traveling out of town. We finally just get to chill.

So, I got to thinking, what fun things can we plan to cross of our Summer Bucket List? Surely an outing to hike is in order. Easy peasy. What about a trip to the neighborhood pool for swimming. Maybe!

Then I got to thinking about all I could accomplish around the house in a week. Deep cleaning. Putting away clean laundry where it's supposed to go. Tackling more of the girls room. Improving our curb appeal. Organizing toys in the basement/playroom.

I asked my husband, Justin, what he wanted to accomplish next week and he just shrugged. "Go for a hike?" he said. I responded with, "How about we tackle a few projects around the house, too? Maybe paint Oaken's room and work on curb appeal? Those can be our two goals for the week."

And so, I started making a list, trying to determine the details of the aforementioned goals.  Before I knew it, my list looked like this:

Curb Appeal
- rip out bushes
- paint shutters
- power wash siding
- paint trim
- paint door inside and out
- new light
- new numbers
- plant azaleas, hostas and perennials

Oaken's Room
- paint
- Lego organization

- organize sewing stuff
- organize toys

- bed skirt and headboard
- stripes or grid moulding?
- window and closet trim
- refinish nightstands?
- paint closet?

- big b&w frames
- banquette
- build table

- sew something
- go hiking/camping
- put away all clothes
- post stuff to Craigslist
- get Cullen's 12m clothes out

Half Bath
- ORB hinges
- paint trim work
- make artwork

I would have kept going too, wanting to renovate the upstairs bathrooms and laundry room. I mean, I included building a new dining room table on that list for Pete's sake. And that was me trying to be conservative! What happened to a relaxing week?

I love working on projects around the house. But I also need to remember the fact that this is supposed to be vacation. It might be a staycation, but it is still an opportunity to spend some quality time with my husband and kids.

In an effort to actually relax, I'm going to try some of the following tips.

Tips for enjoying your staycation:

1. Spend some time cleaning. It's vacation and I want to relax, why would I clean? If you are anything like me, a disorganized, dirty house can drive you nuts. Devote some time (a day? two hours?) to cleaning the house and getting organized. This can help you to actually relax and enjoy the rest of your staycation by creating a more restful environment. It's going to be your vacation lodging for the duration of your staycation, make it feel that way! Then try not to spend anymore time on chores than what you originally planned/allotted besides maybe just some general pick up, tidying or dishes.

2. Get out of the house. Just because this is a staycation doesn't mean that you have to be stuck at home. Pick some activities that your family will enjoy together like swimming, hiking, fishing, visiting a museum, going to the movies, etc. Create an itinerary if you want, or just play it by ear.

3. Set a reasonable project goal. This applies to you DIYers. A staycation can provide a great opportunity to get some things checked off that big ol' to do list around the house, so set some resonable goals, and stick to them. Don't try to bite off more than you can chew. Maybe pick projects that the kids can help out with as well to keep them involved.

4. Plan some down time. No vacation is complete without some relaxation time. So, if you have to, schedule it. Grab a glass of wine, or a beer for yourself, make the kids sundaes and/or popcorn and have a movie night!

5. Have fun! And don't over do it. Pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion can make everyone grumpy and that's no fun. Just remember, it's technically a vacation, and it's supposed to be enjoyable. Stop yourself if you get frustrated, tired or grumpy and switch gears. Be flexible and remind yourself to have fun if need be!

Tell me, how do you manage the work/home life balance? How do you ever turn off your brain from needing to get organized, clean the house, etc, and just relax? It's a constant battle for me and I would love to hear your advice!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Girls' Shared Bedroom: Progress Continues

Painting the girls' bedroom made the biggest impact in the space. I feel like everything from here on out is just a matter of adding the finishing touches.

In our initial mood board post for this room, I mentioned that I had wanted to install a picture ledge around the room in order to divide the two wall paint colors. When I really got to thinking about it, I could just imagine the girls trying to hang off of it with their full body weight and managing to tear it off the wall. Bye, bye hard work. Then, I thought the simple color division would do just fine.

Until this happened...

Please excuse the flash orb...

Do you see the little blue line? I guess the paint was still a bit tacky when we blue chalk lined the room to help us tape straight lines for the two-toned paint effect.

So, we decided that we would go ahead and add a piece of moulding after all. We're still forgoing the picture ledge idea, though. I think it will add a subtle touch of architectural interest to the room. Maybe the blue line incident was meant to happen so that we'd be forced to take the easy fix route? (Easy for me, not so much for Justin who made the cuts and installed the moulding while home alone with 4 kids.)

This is the stage we are at right now. The moulding still needs caulked and painted but least we're still making progress! Slowly but surely...

Tell me, what mistakes have you found just easier to cover up?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Family Summer Bucket List

It's officially summer. It's hot and sticky and the Fourth of July is literally right around the corner. Wowzers.

Which brings us to the question of the [every] day: What to do with the kids?

Now, granted, my husband is the lucky one who watches the kids during the day while I'm at work. Sometimes, I think about how lucky is that he gets to spend all that time with them while they are awake. Sometimes, I think must be the most patient person in the world, because if I were at home with them all day, I would probably have no hair hair. You know, because I'd end up pulling it all out. Because kids I digress...

This is the first summer that Justin is home with four kids. Since baby Cullen was born in October, none of the kids have been home for more than a day or so without both parents home with them.

Our kids are 7 ,5 ,4, and 8 months; and more often than not, they need some sort of direction on what to do for entertainment. If it were up to Oaken (7), everyone would play Mario Kart on the Wii all day. Including the baby. We needed to come up with fun things for them to do this summer that we could do not only as a family, but things that my husband could easily do with them during the week as well. I recently read this post from Me Plus Three...Today, and was inspired to come up with our own Summer Bucket List. In fact, Skylar even came home with her own list that she had made in school. Um, what better way to figure out what your kids would like to do then ask them?

Eat Fruit | Play Outside | Go Swimming | Go to Ocean City | Go Ride Bikes | Go to Beach | Make Fruit Salad | Drink Water

Don't five year olds say the cutest things? To follow Skylar's lead, each additional member of the family (except Cullen, sorry baby) tried to come up with at least 8 things that they wanted to do this summer.

I know, I know, my list is slightly ridiculous. Can you tell based on Clara's list that she loves her My Little Ponies?

But as a family, we came up with this:

There were definitely common threads among everyone's lists, so we will try to make those a priority. If we're able to get through these and need additional ideas, we will be sure to refer back to everyone's individual lists for activities.

Tell me, what are your summer plans? Has anyone else developed a Summer Bucket List?

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Girls' Bedroom is Painted!

New bedding. Check! Window/closet trimmed. Check! Room painted? Check!

Hallelujah, the girls' shared bedroom is finally painted, and it's been the most dramatic change yet. It never ceases to amaze me what a little paint can do to a room.

Without further ado...

Do you see the very subtle two tone effect that we created on the wall? The top section is plain pure white, and the bottom is Valspar's Comet Dust.

I catch myself sometimes just peeking into this room because it's so light and bright and makes me happy. :)

We wrote this post about trimming out the window, but we did the closet too.

Here's the closet before:

And after:

And the whole room "side-by-side" before and after:

Still on the to do list for this room:
  •  Molding to separate the two colors
  • Individual barn lights for reading
  • Hanging Art
  • Coral accent pillows
  • Additional accessorizing
 Now, who thinks I should paint the nightstand similar to the color in the mood board?  Should we leave it as is? Or are there other color suggestions out there?

Additional Girls Bedroom Posts:

Bedding Options
Selected Bedding
Girls Shared Bedroom Mood Board
Installing Closet and Window Trim
Girls Bedroom Gets Painted
Covering a Mistake

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

End of an Era: 2013/2014 School Year Comes to a Close

Friday the 13th was the last day of school for our children. We're diving full on into summer and boy, oh boy, is it hot! Today we're expected to see a heat index of 105 degrees. I feel like it was just yesterday that we moved into our current house and there were several feet of snow on the ground...

This school year brought a lot of change for our children and I am so very proud of just how adaptable they have been.

 Clara's first day of pre-k.

Clara started the school year in preschool at just 3 years old. She was one of the youngest kids in her class and experienced some major separation anxiety on her first day. In fact, that lasted several weeks! We eventually struck a compromise with her teacher that allowed her to take her blankie to school with her. I was still working in DC as the kids were starting their first day in Pennsylvania and got a call from my husband saying that he didn't think that Clara was ready to go after all. He hung out at the school almost all day in fear that they would send her home. She made it through the day and over the next couple of weeks began to love visiting her "hundreds of friends" at school.

 Clara's after her second day of school.

After a while, she was even able to leave blankie in her backpack at school. Unfortunately, when we moved back to Maryland, she was no longer eligible to attend the pre-k program since she wasn't yet 4. However, she has loved every minute of staying home with her baby brother.

Skylar's kindergarten orientation.

Skylar enjoyed every second of her first year of school in Kindergarten. She didn't get to attend preschool when we lived in Annapolis, so we were afraid that she would have a difficult time in school. her teachers have had nothing but wonderful things to say about her. We hated having to move the kids to a different school in the middle of the year, but Skylar continued to thrive at the new school. In fact, she made even more friends and enjoys walking to school instead of riding the bus. The trip to school when we lived in PA took over 40 minutes each way for the kids. They were grumpy and exhausted when they got home from school. She has made huge progress towards reading and writing this year.

Bus stop picture one chilly fall morning.

I am particularly proud of Oaken for making all of the transitions that have been required of him this last year. He has been such a trooper and has excelled through it all. At the beginning of Kindergarten last year, we began an IEP with the school for speech therapy. He had such a difficult time communicating with adults that even his teacher relied on his friends to relay message to her throughout the day. He made wonderful progress while at that school in Annapolis. We also have Oaken to thank for helping US to make wonderful friends with his buddy Elaine's family. We miss them very much these days as it was so nice to have friends within walking distance!

Skylar and Oaken on the first day of the 2013/2014 school year.

When we moved from Annapolis to PA, Oaken had only a few weeks left in school. Little did we know that the blue ribbon school that he attended in PA for two weeks would be merged with several other schools in the district the following year. This change required that attend yet another new school during the 2013/2014 year. He never once complained and always looked forward to making new friends. At the end of 1st grade this year, he no longer needs his IEP, or speech help, is reading at a 2nd grade level and brings home wonderful test scores in Math.

Oaken and Skylar waiting for the bell to ring on a fall morning we drove them to school.

Through all of the moves, the kids gained a new sibling this year as well! They all adore Cullen more than words and are wonderful big siblings. I didn't think to include Cullen in the end of year sibling picture, but here's one of him now! (As compared to the one of him up above, you know, before he was born :) )

Cheers to summertime!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Installing Window Trim: A Basic How We Did It Guide

As mentioned in a previous post, our house has no window or door trim. Anywhere. And the windows and doors/closets look like they are missing some oomph. So to fix that, we installed some! Oh, what a difference it makes!!

In true DIY fashion, our first step in the process was to do a little Pinterest browsing. Naturally, right? We came across this pin and determined it is the exact style we wanted:

This is what we started with...

Unfortunately, I couldn't grab a good before picture of the whole window (too much light!), but this gives you an idea of what a blah mess surrounded the window before.

Materials Used:
- 1x3 pine to fit measurements
- standard wood screws
- paintable caulk
- wood putty

Step 1: Measure

Measure around the window. This is the portion of drywall around the window, in our case, that the trim would sit on. These are my fancy room and window measurements. Our window measures exactly 5ft x 40in.

Step 2: Cut

Next, you will want to take the window measurements and determine at what length to cut your wood. The top and bottom pieces are easy. Just take the width of the window, and add on 2 times the width of your trim. (In our case, it was 40in + 3in + 3in, since we used 1x3 pieces for trim.)

The sill or "stool" piece is a little bit harder. we wanted this piece to stick out just a little bit farther than the outer trim to give it a little bit more of that craftsman style. We added an additional half inch to each side of the sill/stool to achieve that look. (46+ .5 + .5)

You will also want to measure the depth of the sill to help notch out the pieces you need on either side. Unfortunately, we didn't grab a picture of the shot, but you can see what I'm talking about here:

From the outside edge, you will want to measure in the width of your overhang and the width of the wood. (.5in + 3in) Use a square and mark out your cut. We used a jigsaw in order to cut this portion of the wood. (This Old House does a pretty good job of explaining this process.)

Then measure the side pieces. This will sit on top of the sill piece, so it will measure the same as the height of your window, minus the depth of your wood. Even though we used 1x3in pieces, the true depth of the wood was only 3/4. (5ft - .75in = 4ft 11.25in)

Step 3: Attaching Your Trim

For this step, we used standard 2in wood screws. Before screwing into the wood, we pre-drilled holes in our trim pieces prior to driving the screw. This helped to prevent from cracking/splintering the wood. I do believe though, since the trim on our windows is purely cosmetic that you could get away with using a product like Liquid Nails or other construction adhesive to simply attach the boards to the wall. This would eliminate the step of pre-drilling and any fear that you may have about damaging the window itself. (We're not experts, this is just what worked for us!)

Step 4: Caulk, Wood Putty and Sand

Caulk the gaps and putty the screw holes. (You can find some good tips for caulking trim at Remodelaholic.) Once the putty dries, use a fine grit sandpaper to smooth out any inconsistencies. 

Step 5: Paint!

Paint your new trim!

We did a fairly sloppy job of painting our trim since the rest of the room will be painted soon. (Who wants to "color" inside the lines when you don't have to, am I right?) Actually, we had already started the process of painting the walls when this picture was snapped. 

And here's a glimpse at the chaos that comes along with us painting...

Can you guess which Mood Board we chose based on that picture? More on that to come next time!!

We're so happy with the way the trim turned out. There may not be many beautiful "pin-worthy" pictures in this post but at least we are making progress!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Girls Room: Revised Mood Board Options

Since we bought the bedding for Skylar and Clara's room, it's been full steam ahead on making over their bedroom space.

Of course, the first thing that I had to do was come up with some more mood board options. Since my original mood boards for this room just weren't going to work, I've drafted these:

Option 1 - This has a navy feature wall with the remaining walls painted in a light light gray. On the walls above the beds, picture ledges are hung for frames and other trinkets. We would also like to add individual lights on each wall so the girls can have their own reading lights. I absolutely adore the barn style lights! My concern here is that the accent wall will make this already very small room appear even smaller.

Option 2 - This option is a two toned room with light gray walls on the bottom and white on the top third of the wall. I would plan to keep the picture ledge to help divide the color transition. Pretty much every thing else stays the same! I've swapped out the barn lights for a different color option here.

Besides picking out paint color(s), we also knew that we would have to trim out the window in this room. None of the windows or closets in our home have trim around them and it makes them look extremely awkward, like you can just tell there is just something off. We have addressed the seemingly naked window issue and will talk more about it in the next post.

If you follow on Facebook, you might be able to guess the direction that we're headed, but please weigh in with your opinion! How do you feel about dark accent walls in little rooms?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Photo Challenge: Sleep Pictures

When Katie at Bower Power mentioned that the latest Picture Party theme was Sleep, I knew I'd have to practice some of my long gone photography skills and partake.

In fact, I would like to try to participate in the monthly Picture Party moving forward so that I can keep practicing and have a goal to strive for. I always feel like I'm missing so many moments of my children's lives by not taking enough pictures. I mean, can you really ever have enough pictures of your kids? There are so many tiny details to capture of every stage of their lives that you just might forget if you don't have that photographic evidence. At least, that's my excuse to continuously snap away.

I happened to remember the other night that it was time to post the sleeping pictures to the link party, but I hadn't taken any pictures yet. It was about 8:30 pm, there was still a tad of natural light out, so I grabbed the camera and ran upstairs. Oaken was the only one asleep...

My sweet 7 year old!

The girls were wide awake, but I was pretty confident that I could sneak in and grab an adorable sleeping baby picture of Cullen. Nope. He caught one glimpse of me sneaking around and cried for "mama". So that was that.

However, today is Thursday, so in the spirit of #ThrowBackThursday, I scrounged up these two pictures of sleeping Cullen that I absolutely adore.

Cullen was just 5 weeks old when I snapped these picture. My how time flies. And how quickly they grow. It makes my heart ache a little bit every day as he moves farther and farther away from this sweet infant stage.

I guess sleeping kiddos are pretty adorable no matter what their age which is why this picture party photo challenge really spoke to me. Has anyone else participated in the Picture Parties? I'd love to see what images you linked up to!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

To Grandmother's House We Went: Memorial Day Weekend 2014

Okay. So I might be a day late and a dollar short (or rather several days late) on finally writing this post, but I had to share some of the wonderful pictures that we able to capture during our latest holiday weekend.

Justin traveled to Ohio for his brother's wedding which the kids and I weren't able to attend due to scheduling conflicts. Since we were unable to join in on the fun, we headed to PA to visit Grammy.

And enjoyed a lovely view from the deck.

The day we arrived, I dressed the girls as twinsies in matching rompers :)

The kids and I enjoyed the gorgeous weather all weekend, spending lots of time playing outside.

(To be read as: mommy relaxed a read a book for the first time in 8 months while the kids played.)

While Cullen chilled in his play saucer.

A visit to the park was enjoyed.

We watched some beautiful sunsets.

And had fun relaxing inside too.

Oaken was so wiped out one evening, he slept like this

The kids missed daddy so much that we had to send a lot of selfies.

While the kids and I relaxed on Saturday night, Justin was getting ready for the wedding with the other groomsmen.I don't have any pictures of the actual wedding, since I wasn't there, but Justin texted me thisas the guys got ready for the big evening. That's my hubby there in the middle.

What can I say, they are a goofy bunch.

Since the kids and I had planned to go, but couldn't at the last second, we decided to get dressed up and have a little photo shoot of our own. (With grammy's help.) But the wind refused to cooperate for us. So, we got a lot of wind blown pictures.

I was able to snap at least a few decent pictures of the kids though.

At least we got a few decent shots in!

What did you do over Memorial Day weekend? Did anyone attend a wedding? Or perhaps dress up for a "photo shoot" just because?