Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Went Where

I took these pictures a few weeks ago (so there's been some change even since then), but I thought I'd give you an idea of how we're using all of this new found space! Let me tell you, it is marvelous. We essentially have three times the living space with the same amount of stuff, so if the rooms feel sparse- that's why. We're not in any rush to fill it up with stuff, though. My wheels are constantly turning with this giant blank canvas of mine. It's hard to commit to a color palette or specific style though, now that I'm decorating for me and not just for the housing market. 
So come on in! Make yourself at home, and while you're here, throw your ideas at me. I'd love to hear them. Coming through the double red doors, you'll come into our foyer. It's fun to have a real foyer. I'd love to do something fun with the walls in here. Something to play off that curved wall.
Looking back at the front door, you'll see one of the closets on either side. That rug has been with us since the beginning. We picked it out at Crate and Barrel when we were brand newlyweds with a stack of gift cards. This seemed like the most logical place to put it, since those doors needed something a little bigger than a standard door mat. So, other than for sentimental purposes, this rug doesn't need to stay or define the space. 
The room to the right of the foyer is where the piles of book boxes still live. I keep debating whether it's worth it to just get some temporary bookshelves in here or not. We have plans for some pretty built-ins along the wall where that old (free to us) couch is sitting. Again, the rug and couch were just carried over from the old basement, and I'm even less attached to them as I am to our red foyer rug.
There's no overhead lighting (in here or in the family room), so we'll need to add some. Turning around in the room, you can see where the piano ended up, and the family room behind it.
 Walking back through the foyer, you can see the other closet and part of the dining room.
 This is where our table and chairs ended up. I never thought I'd need a formal dining room, but we've already used it a lot. Whenever friends come over, we eat in here and let the kids take over the kitchen. I'd love to add some architecture to the walls, and at least one sideboard.
 Coming back over to the front room of boxes, you can head back into the family room. (are you starting to notice how this color is in EVERY room? I'm not kidding. I found two giant buckets of leftover paint in the garage. What I find interesting is how differently it reads, room to room. I can't tell you how much I'm itching to paint over it. Probably gray in here, with natural wood-looking beams.
You can also come in here through the foyer and the kitchen, where you see the back of the sectional. I haven't figured out the best layout in here, but for now, this works. Although the once-giant rug is almost too small for this space. This room is huge!
 And the lovely wet bar, that houses all the homeless artwork and games. I can't bring myself to hang any artwork until I settle on the look I want for each room.
Coming into the kitchen from the family room, here's what you see. We got a free second hand table from a family who just moved, but I'm already itching to replace it. It's seen better days, and the leg keeps falling off. The shape is right though. I wouldn't do anything much bigger. The mismatched chairs are also temporarily borrowed from other rooms. 

I decided to go with a white fridge so it would blend in better with the cabinetry on this side, and had to wait a week to get it as a result. I'm also loving my new washer and dryer right there. I wish I could say it's solved all of my bad laundry habits, but I'd be lying. 

When you go upstairs, the first bedroom on your left is Lydia's room. This has worked really well for the overall flow to have her right there, near our room and closest to the downstairs. I've added another bookshelf and some artwork in here since this was taken. This may be the one room in the house where the wall color doesn't bother me, so it might stay as it is.
Right next to Lydia's room is Nora's room, which is also slowly evolving. She no longer has that desk, which came from the same friend who gave us the kitchen table. The set also has two dressers, which now live in here. They'll be really cute once I paint them. For now though, this may be the ugliest room in the house with the clashing wall color and yellowish furniture. The sheer curtains are also just a temporary fix. 
Next to Nora's room is our room, which is great. I love not having five awkwardly placed windows to work around. We've put a new bookshelf and dresser in here, so it's really starting to feel livable. 
Here's the master bathroom. It has SO much storage, and even a vanity. I'm in heaven. Did I mention I don't have to share a bathroom with four kids anymore?! Luxury right here. 
 Coming down the hallway from our bedroom, the first doorway on your right is the boys' bathroom. It's neutral and updated, and great. I may hang some artwork in here and call it a day.
The girl's bathroom is the doorway right next to it, and it's got a little more work before I'm satisfied. I'm thinking of painting the tub tile in wide horizontal stripes right now- white and black. I might paint the vanity black and paint the walls something that compliments the green tub a little better. Right now, it just hurts my eyes.
 Benjamin's room is right next to the girls' bathroom, and has two giant windows that look out into the backyard. He chose this room specifically though because... has two glass shelf closets. :) Yeah, these aren't staying. First of all, he has no where to store his things, and second of all, they're GLASS. Moving on!
 Peter's room is next to Benjamin's. I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to see him in his own space. He's no longer the little brother in the bottom bunk bending to Benjamin's will. He and Benjamin seem to be becoming better friends too with a little extra space between them. They're always off on bike rides or playing in the woods or playing games together. So for all my worrying about putting a chasm between them with a physical wall, it's worked out really well- at least so far!
Next to Peter's room is the "guest room," which will eventually have a bed and a few less random toys in it. :) It also has my sewing machine and craft supplies in the closet.
So there you have it! I didn't take any pictures of the basement, since we never go down there anyways. But if you picture concrete walls and lots of empty boxes, you wouldn't be too far off.
I know the best strategy is to tackle room by room, so I'm trying to decide where to start. Probably the family room or the foyer. I'll keep you all posted!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Nora is Four

Four years ago, I held my first daughter in my arms for the first time. It was a completely different experience, almost like being a mother for the first time again, but without all the insecurities. Nora has been such a sweet, calming influence in our family from the moment she joined us.
I keep telling her she can't grow up because I won't let her. I just want to bottle her up and keep her as she is forever. When I told her I might just put three candles on her cake so she'd have to stay three, she was indignant. Instead, she told me, there would be twelve candles on her cake. Yeah, right! 
Nora is always ready to go- anytime, anywhere. When we were planning our trip to Utah, we didn't even think about the fact that we'd be traveling home on her birthday. I feel so bad about it now, but she just went with it and had no expectations for the day, other than spending all of it in the car watching a few new movies and eating junk food.
The next day after getting back, we had a pretty low-key day of presents (Elsa was the predominant theme this year, naturally).
 And because it was an ordeal to even get to the store to buy milk (we were out of pretty much everything when we got home) before I could make a cake, that didn't happen either.
 So instead of the promised princess castle cake, she picked one out from Coldstone. You can tell she wasn't over the moon about it. ;) Sometimes I think I take for granted how easy this girl is.
 Nora is a little shy around new people, but also extremely social. She is delicate and feminine, but also loves digging up worms and playing ninjas with the boys. She is very refined and poised, but she's also earned the title as the "aggressive cuddler" of our family. She loves anything fancy- I think the 'Fancy Nancy' books could have easily been written about her. She is spunky and silly, but obedient to the extreme. She hates to be in trouble for anything, and will slink away to her room, quietly sobbing if she feels like I'm mad at her for any reason. She is good natured, forgiving, and easy to delight. She has a strange obsession with blood, and gets visibly excited whenever someone gets hurt. She even stopped crying after getting hurt recently, when she realized she was bleeding. I think a profession in the medical field may be in her future.
It sometimes shocks me how not little she is anymore. She is a chatty girl, and talks to me incessantly with her high-pitched, little girl voice. I'll admit I tune her out sometimes, mainly because I get busy or I like to live in the solitude of my own thoughts. But when I do listen, I hear her fascinating insights and ideas. She knows way more than I generally give her credit.
If having children just like you is karma, then I certainly don't deserve this one. I'm a lucky mama to have her. And as much as I hate to see her grow, I am excited to watch her become the woman she came here to be.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Utah Trip: The End

The last part of the trip was mostly spent decompressing. We had a few things that we did with just our family, but we also spent a fair amount of time just relaxing with whoever was still around. We met up with my brother in Provo. He knows all the good Mexican joints, and took us to one in downtown Provo. My burrito was the size of a small infant, but I easily ate the entire thing....and the chips and guacamole. It was so good! And I still haven't found anything in St. Louis to compare...
We also checked out the newly refurbished Bean Museum while we were there. It has come a long way from the musty room full of taxidermy! It looks like a legitimate museum now! I was impressed.
We took the kids to BYU one of the days. We saw the Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museum, the enormous kids section at the library (they were duly impressed), and of course the Wilkinson Center, where we let them pick out shirts. Got to start them early! ;) 
The kids went bouldering one of the days with Paul. I'm not sure this was the intended hike, but the boys found a way up, with the dads scrambling up after them. 

We took the ski lift up near Sundance. There are no seat belts, just a metal bar across your lap, so Lydia had us in a panic the entire ride up. 
She really enjoyed herself though!
The older (and more prepared kids who packed hats/sunscreen) hiked further up to the top of the peak. 
We visited some friends, and Paul's brother's family in Daybreak. We also sent Benjamin off with Grandma and Grandpa and his cousin Andrew for a fun day out. They're doing this special outing with all of their grandkids when they turn eight, which I think is a great idea! 
We finally said goodbye to those who were still around, and packed up the car.

We headed south to Goblin Valley, and got there in the middle of the day. It was really hot, but well worth the effort! It is such a cool place! 
 The rest of these were taken with my good camera. I need to be better about pulling it out all the time, because the quality difference is seriously night and day.

 After Goblin Valley, we got to Grand Junction, Colorado and stayed there for the night. We got a decent dinner, swam in the pool, and rested before hitting the road at 4 am. I'm grateful that Paul likes to do most of the driving! That drive home was LONG. But we made it, and we're glad to be back. We finally feel like we're getting settled, which is such a nice feeling after being in transition for so long.

Utah Trip: Reunion

The second part of our trip was a lot of fun. We had most of Paul's family there, with the exception of Katie (on a mission) and Patrick (in Army training). Grandma had lots of fun games planned.
 The boys especially ate it up. It was wonderful to see these cousins get along so well, with the ever narrowing age gap between them.
 We had a delicious, child-free night at Bombay House. It was perfect.
There was plenty of relaxed evening time to jam and play games.
We all joined up for the Provo Fourth of July parade. It's probably one of the most patriotic places on earth.
Lydia loved every minute!

The Provo River runs through Grandma and Grandpa's backyard, so we play back there every Fourth of July together. The river was pretty low this year, but we all wet regardless.
Lydia had no fear! She maneuvered over and around the rocks with ease.
The kids all got rides in Josh and Anne's kid's-sized kayak. They loved it!
There was plenty of swing time... time... cream...
...and "ladder ball" time. It was the latest obsession among the more competitive bunch. 
Grandma made a bunch of patriotic quilts- one for each of the families! We each got to choose our favorites, though the kids had surprisingly strong (and conflicting) opinions. :)
We had Great-Grandma with us too, which was a treat!
We hiked one day up to Upper Falls (near Bridal Veil). It was a steep climb, but quick enough for small legs to manage.

This was the first time all of the 2013 babies met together. How crazy is it that there are FIVE of them?! Lincoln, Elliott, Gabriel, Lydia and Claire. 
The 2010's were a cute bunch as well. We'd find them off eating breakfast together, having conversations about scary movies and other important things. Josephine, Gloria, Porter and Nora are becoming fast friends.
The big boys had a blast together. We hardly even saw them. There is about a three year gap between the oldest and the youngest, but Peter, Andrew, Benjamin, Will and Adrian really got along well. 
We got a few shots of all the grandkids with Grandma and Grandpa. Is anyone else impressed that Grandpa is holding THREE babies, and they're all looking pretty chill? 
And just for kicks, here's a very grainy picture (of a picture?) of the whole gang. I'm sure the original is floating around somewhere, but it's not on my computer. But you get a sense of how many bodies we had! So fun.
We were sad to see the reunion end and everyone part ways. By the end of the year, the siblings will all be scattered to Texas, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, Kansas and Scotland. We love every chance we get to be together!