Given it is somehow Friday already I am just hitting the highlights. We are in the busy season of life, and, I gave in and each kid has a separate activity so I’m going in 6 directions. I like being busy, it just doesn’t leave too much extra time for online musings.
Right now, #1 is in track on Monday and Wednesday. This *should* have been easy and at her school, however, her session didn’t have enough to run so we moved her to a different elementary school so I need to run her and a friend a few miles ASAP so they aren’t too late. On the bright side, Lars picks her up and the other school is actually closer to our new house and they go directly to jujitsu. She is really into running and I’m glad because it is a life-long thing. I’m also happy that she is meeting other kids in our district so when they all go to middle school together, she already knows some people.
#2 has taken up softball. WTH? there are actually sports I like less, but not many. I have vivid memories of trying to avoid batting or any field position that would actually need to catch or throw for my 12 years where softball was a mandatory segment of our physical education. This is the joy of children; I get a re-do. A no pressure redo at that! I am not playing, she is, and she LOVES it even though she has zero experience. Since she is so into it I’m leaning in and we have a suite of gloves for the family, 4 softballs, a bat, a helmet and a big enough yard that we can practice. It was a little picket fence, American dream moment yesterday playing catch with my girls in the yard in the sunshine on a fresh spring day. Nobody got hit with a ball even! If you are looking for us on Monday or Tuesday evenings they are softball games. If you are looking for us any sunny afternoon, check the yard and our homemade field.
#3 is in love with gymnastics. Tuesday afternoons (before softball) she points her toes and jumps and flips with absolute joy. You would think she would be tired out from an hour of this but it gives her more energy. She was promoted from beginner to intermediate but fortunately, classes are at the same time and day work. Although the gym smells like a sewer mixed with perfume and feet she can’t get enough of it.
Yesterday I went on my first of 3 field trips this month. May is super full because there are 2 or 3 other neat events I’m attending plus the school play. This weekend is a color run, next week is the teacher breakfast and 5th-grade concert. Later in the month is the agriculture fair where the HS students show off all the cute baby goats and chicks. I’m going to be very active in the world so fair warning I might not get it back to here. The field trip yesterday included fire starting a great hike and a canoe ride around the lake. It was exhaustingly good. I did get the reminder that kids scream a lot, and, there are some kids we probably should not teach how to start fires…
My summer building plans are coming along. I’m firm now on my garden structure after many iterations and plans on paper. I believe we now have a plan for a budget-friendly and easy and not ugly garden. I need the weather to cooperate but I’m looking at Sunday. I will be posting if it is a success… The swingset; I ended up going with a kit so not super creative but I’m putting my twist on it. That is also something I’m going to start this weekend, we will pick up ALLLLLL the wood and I want help so have to wait on the husband.
In conclusion, if you are counting; Monday I bring 2 kids to track, then 2 different kids to softball. Tuesday I bring 2 home, then 1 to gymnastics, then home and out again to softball. Wednesday just track and Lars does jujitsu with all 3 of them so I get a break! Thursday Niamh babysits directly after school and I have school board meetings. Friday no reoccurring scheduled activities. This isn’t counting girl scouts or one-off meetings in the month. Good thing I like being busy.
Oh what a fun little holiday. You can ignore it and nobody cares, you can go crazy and nobody minds too much. There is very little debate over ‘the meaning’ and it is almost fun to be the ‘guy who hates valentines day’. Nobody really takes it too seriously so anything you do it all good.
For me, it is one of my 2x yearly I try and get a good picture of my kids. I like to make the cards, I started a few years ago and I’m only sorry I didn’t start earlier. For a DIY craft it is one of the easiest and over the past few years, I’ve refined my technique.
Here is my how-to for photo cards
- figure out your theme. There are tons of great ones on pinterest but this year we did one that was not actually from there (but it will be there soon!). It was my 10 year olds idea, we have a cute dog and she wanted to include her. We have done the holding candy and blowing kisses, both are super cute but I don’t want to repeat.
- Take the pictures. I use my DSLR but a camera phone is just as easy really. Take as many as they/you have the patience for so you have options and be chill with the details. Some of what makes them really great is that the kids add their own style by choosing the outfit or style. I tell them the goal, they fill in the details. One of my favorites was when Fiona insisted on holding the sign with her feet – it was so cute and so her.
- Import your photos into whatever software you like. I still use Picasa but there are plenty that will let you do the layout you want.
- Go to Avery.com and select one of their templates that will fit 4 per page. This is a time saver for me rather than try and do all the sizing on my own like I used to. Upload the picture and if you want to use the Avery collection of clip art and do it up. They also have a pretty easy interface for adding text, I add my text there now instead of in Picasa.
- Save the Avery file as a pdf onto your computer
- go to UPS.com and do their 8.5×11 color printing option. Select 100# card stock and full color and upload your pdf. Double check sizing etc and order. I did 10 sheets to yield 40 cards and it cost around $8.
You can also just print on your home computer but for the price, I like the quality. My home printer is absolutely NOT photo quality. I originally got cards printed via walmart as photos, however, the cardstock is more sturdy and the price is better so I’m not going back.
As they get older I like the idea more. The cards in the store are really intended for younger kids based on the cartoons etc and my way the sky is the limit because I can type whatever message I want. I did one for a friends son and it said “Valentine’s Day? Whatever…” and had an eyeroll style picture that is very him (and also cute). For the parents that don’t have time, I get it, but I count going to the store and hunting up something as more of a pain than sitting at my computer.
For this particular picture, we had a fun time getting the puppy kisses. We were going to use peanut butter but you can see that in the photo so we went with pepperoni. It was a win with the dog and gave the kids a bit of a shiny blush that wasn’t bad at all.
I hope you are inspired! I keep a set from each year in their memory boxes, makes me feel better that at least a few physical pictures exist of each of them.
2018 <- never before published because I was at a funeral this time last year.
2017 – this shape was really fun, perfect for adding a pencil to the back.
I love my blog enough to pay $13 whole dollars for an upgraded membership. I realized some of the reasons I was not blogging was because I was nearly out of space and pictures really do make the story. So, after the 3million and third targeted add with discounts and ‘last chance’ notes from WordPress I did it. I have no idea what all will change but I have more space and that is what I was looking for.
What about the daily post? Well, that didn’t work out this year. I’m as disappointed as you are (btw I’m assuming nobody was all that disappointed). When last we talked I was suffering from a truly annoying mouth issue that actually persisted for a full 7 days and now I have the creepy crud of congestion. These are not conditions conducive to happy chatting online. Beyond those minor annoiances, the week was really great and super full.
Thanksgiving felt like the end of a marathon. One that started so long ago when we first decided to put the house on the market and then escalated when we were prepping, then selling and building then moving and homeless, then traveling, then moving in and figuring out where things go and a truly giant list of things to do. No sooner were we in the house the kids were to school and the election tasks started, Halloween, and a rather full social calendar of weekend events culminating last week with the first big house party and 8 out of town guests and then Thanksgiving with more guests. No wonder I feel tired and out of planning energy! Sunday I sat there and realized that I have nothing major on the immediate horizon.
Does that mean I am doing nothing? No way, just nothing like building a house or moving. I have a vague hope that I’ll be catching up on the active to-do list to the point where I can get back to a normal week that includes meal planning and working out and generally not just chasing the ball down hill constantly.
So how was your thanksgiving?
here are some pictures because I have space now
When we were designing the house there was a wide hallway with 4 doorways and an opening (is that 5 doors or not? The last is more an arch and has no door) that was between our garage door and the rest of the house. On the single uninterrupted wall, they put in a bench and ta-da, they call the area a mudroom. I called it a *future* mudroom because it really had no place to hang anything. It got higher on my priority list when kids got back to school and there were backpacks all over the floor. It got even higher when it got cold and jackets joined the jumble. As with all good projects we start with Pinterest, but, one of my constant annoyances with Pinterest is that there are no directions, this is my contribution to the mudroom category.
I have no before picture – imagine a navy room with a built-in bench.
First step was to evaluate use. For us we need lots of coat and backpack hooks at a height that my kids can actually reach. I also wanted a shelf for cool hats, I have a pretty good collection so they needed a spot. We also end up with wet stuff a lot so we needed wall protection.
Second step design and research. After some Pinterest searches, I fell in love with the ‘pretty shelf holders’ but that is not the name for them; they are corbels and can be very tricky. Some I found are decorative only, made of a plastic or hard foam. I needed structural corbels and the internet has plenty, some are very expensive, and I ended up getting them from Home Depot; 2 for $15 (I got 2 packs).
Home Depot also had wainscoting (the decorative wood panels) for $12 a panel, our wall is 90 inches so we needed just under 2 full panels. They are pretty flimsy MDF but they got less brittle after 2 coats of paint. I made the needed cut, using a circular saw, on the far corner and just ignored the asymmetry. I wanted to avoid too much cutting so I tested the hight dimension on the wall for hook rail #1 before I bought them and it worked for us.
Both hook rails and the shelf are pine from the dimensional lumber section. The hook rails are 1x4x8 and the shelf is 1x8x8. They cost about $20 total.
I painted everything (SW7005) Pure White to match our trim, the base of the bench and the door frames.
I marked the studs with masking tape in the area I was not planning on putting anything so I didn’t have to constantly look for them. In my 90 inches, I had 5 studs to work with. One thing I’ve had problems with in the past is overloading coat hooks so I wanted to make sure this was very strong. Yes, Dad, I overdid it I am sure, but now I know I can put everything, including a bag of
bricks books, on the hooks. Here is my hardware/mounting list (not the order of building)
- 2 of the 3 corbels are mounted on studs, 3rd is on a screw in anchor
- The bottom hook rail is mounted using 3in #10 cabinet installation screws
- The long sections of top hook rail are also mounted to studs with the 3in #10
- The two short sections of the top rail use wall anchors rated for 50lb
- Wainscoting is held up by finishing staples from a nail gun, but, finishing nails would work fine.
Order of building;
- Wainscoting first, making sure it was perfectly level. Fun fact, the bench is not level… I kept the nails around the edge for easier painting later.
- Lower rail next. I positioned the screws so I could cover them with hooks
3. Corbels mounted per directions – I decided on the height by a very scientific method; I put a mark where I could still reach but was high enough to look balanced on the wall. I’ve done enough ‘rule of 3rds’ that it is just part of my life. I like to use post-its to mark so I can stand back and look and easily move if I need to.
4. Cut sections of wood for the top rail, mine were 4 different lengths so cutting had to be after corbels. I decided anchoring to the studs was more important than perfect symmetry. In planning, I made sure each long section would have a stud, the short sections I used toggle bolts.
5. The shelf is mostly held by gravity but to be more secure I used the nail gun along the back to anchor it to the top rail.
6. I added hooks, starting by covering my fasteners and then eyeballing (using pink post-its) the others. The lower hooks are the bigger style and the uppers are small because I didn’t want to bang into the shelf above so I needed a low profile.
7. Touch up paint. Went over all the nail heads and the seam of the wainscoting and along the joins of the rails to the shelf above. Looks way better with the hairline cracks filled in with paint
8. Clean up all the tools, trash, and dust and took a picture because this is likely the last time it will be so empty ever!
There are 2 things I wish I could have done differently.
First, I’m not wild about how the upper rail looks cut up because it is slightly thicker than the back of the corbel. Paint helped but the only real solution would have been to put in verticle strips but that would have looked bad because my spaces were not equal, or, even with the wainscoting. I found other places on Pinterest that did the same so I’m not the only one with the quandary. I don’t think anyone will really notice.
Second, I would have preferred to run a router grove on the lower rail so it nested over the wainscoting adding to the structure. I didn’t because my router is still at a friends house and I wanted to get this done and he was on vacation. It worked out fine so far at least.
Even with those two reservations, I’m really happy with how this turned out. I’m proud to contribute this to the Pinterest universe.
Oh! I was asked about the color and we used SW6244 – navel here and in the front hall and it is scary dark on the chip but awesome in person. The bench stain is Koa, the flooring is a vinyl plank laid in a herringbone pattern (left that to the pros!)
Three days of summer completed, only 137 to go.
Mostly good so far, we had plans and they kept us busy and I think we are getting used to being around each other 24/7. It has only been the equivalent of a long weekend so I’ll re-evaluate when we get to a week. I’m even preplanning next week, whole days in advance.
So far we have;
Celebrated the first day with a fire and friends and a toast to the summer to come
Had friends over, most notable was a Fiona friend whose birthday we will miss and she missed Fiona’s so we did an un-birthday playdate. Nothing makes a little girl feel special like a personal sized cake. (the pans are from Ikea in the kid section, get them!)
Gone to a friends house, rode bikes around the block and played in the yard, traumatizing the many robins who are nesting.
Procured a summer wardrobe for 3 girls since all their summer stuff is deeeeep in storage (remember originally we were supposed to move in April). We lost shopping patience so I have 2 pairs of shorts beyond the workout bottoms I had kept out. I ended up modifying a t-shirt to be more trendy (and less annoying at the neck).
We are reading more but not getting much other ‘school’ stuff done but it has been a busy few days.
Gone to the gym 2x and the pool once – I’m very hopeful to continue this trend since I’ll get both a kid break and a workout.
Today Lars is taking the girls out and I’m getting all the winter stuff out to storage and starting in on all the decorative things we kept out simply to make the house look good for showing. Yes, I do like how it looks too in a hotel sort of way, but in the interest of getting packed in a non-panic I’ll start round 3 with the less essential items.
We even got in a date night! For the first time in WEEKS Lars and I had an evening with no plans and our sitter was ready and willing so we went out to eat together. This isn’t to say we don’t see each other – about half the time we go to different things in the evening but are back by 8ish and do kid bedtime and then have the evening together, just taking the whole night is special.
Given that it is a holiday weekend it double downs on different from a school week with a day trip on Monday. Zoe already said she has no idea what day it is and might just consider all days between now and school Saturday. Why not?
No real drama yet and I’m glad. We have so many things cooking that I think we will exhaust ourselves – I should really put ‘relaxing’ on the list at some point.
ps. I got my side by side done for the kids, here is beginning of the year and end