Monday, August 18, 2014

Remodeling For Fun

Anyone who has been blessed with a home to live in has certainly given thought to how they might make changes to their living space. Now that I have said that, I wonder if maybe that is too broad of a statement. I will narrow things down a bit. In every one of the homes I have been blessed to live in, I have imagined changes I could make to enhance the house's functionality or the yard's beauty.

As a child unaware of the actual structure of a house, I imagined a secret passage way in my closet that took up the vertical space between walls and the first floor. Of course, I read The Hiding Place. The Secret Garden. There was a brief time that I was sure we could make a room in the ceiling space over the living room. A crawl space door from my sister's room would lead us in.

Couch cushion forts were made at Grandma and Grandpa's. Just as fast the floral patterned tunnels were built, they were lain flat again to make six square trampolines for jumping across the rec room floor.

Until we were given lego sets with directions for building castles and Robin Hood's treehouse lair, the medium sized flat rectangle pieces were the coveted item to start with. If you had one, you could use it for the floor of your house, or the upstairs of your house or the roof of your house. Sometimes, we built houses and then as an afterthought, added two sets of wheels underneath; it's a camper now! which is really still a house of sorts.

One summer, I spent a few days building a fort out of piled up leaves. Fresh leaves were picked and layered stack on stack in the spaces between trees. An adult I don't remember came along and asked the neighbor boy and I to stop "playing in the berm" so we left our leaf house unfinished. I had to go home and ask what a berm was.

When I was older, a friend of mine and I built a shelter in the woods by lashing long sticks horizontally from tree to tree and then leaning brush and branches against them to form four square walls. A pocket knife and twine provided hours of entertainment as we constructed a tree house on the ground.

None of those childhood building experiences prepared me for the most difficult and frustrating part of a grown up remodeling project. Some might say it's the delays, or the uncovering of previous owner's previous remodeling blunders that you now have to right. Some might say it's the expense or the decisions that are hard to make.

I say, for this project, it is the dust.  

After I'm done cleaning it up again, off of the new floors, off of the children, out of my food and my glass of iced coffee, I hope to return and post pictures of the end result. And once we decide about the countertops and finish the floors and go back to the hardware store three times, the end result will be glorious!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Beach House 2014

We made our way to the beach house again this summer to spend time with Bob's family.

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I wanted to, nor did I get a true sampling of all the people who were there.

Reuben was sick which preoccupied much of my energy and then Reuben needed a trip to the ER which kind of made me wish we could go home and start our vacation over when he was well again.

In the end, a significant portion of our family enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and family interactions that is the beach house.

 Something that worked really well this year was to have our big boys sleep in a tent in the yard. I think they woke up early and went to bed late but they got to be outside in the cool quiet with the deer and their books.

 All around, our beach house trip was a win and another reason that summer can be okay.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


  We make a brief and glorious trip to this spot to fill the boat up with gas and get ice cream just about once a summer. I thought these pictures of Eden's first trip to Kelly's deserved their own post.

Summer can be an okay season

Despite the sports-driven routine, despite the small structure we have put in place for our day, despite spending the months just prior to summer longing for a break from our school life, I often find myself restless and sometimes even a bit purposeless during the summer months. Summer has just never been a favorite time for me for various reasons.

Today I'll post pictures of things we've done recently that I have truly loved to remind myself of summer goodness.

James continues to take deep long naps in the afternoon, if I let him. On this day, he asked for Duplo legos to play with and I obliged. I would rather that he spend a little time playing alone in the afternoon during his Quiet Time than take a fullfledged nap. I checked on him ten minutes after I had shut the door and this is how I found him, with the cord of the fan in hand. Where we live, fans and summer go together.

Canning season happens during the summer. It has to because of the sun. I made raspberry jam a few weeks ago.

Earlier this summer, I made strawberry jam. Lots and lots of it. I think we've decided that we might go through a pint jar of jam once every 1-2 weeks. I'm set on making enough this year. We ran out in February this year! 

Daniel is so very into baseball right now. Today, he sat and listened to the Mariners lose on the radio while texting his Grandad as they rejoiced and moaned together over the ups and downs of the game. I love that he has time to do that during the summer.

Free kids' lunches at Ikea. That's right! 

And, of course, summer for us means a little vacation.

And, summer means we get to celebrate our anniversary, just the two of us. Maybe we should celebrate our anniversary quarterly during every season?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Favorite Things

It's summer.
We are busy with swimming lessons and baseball but there is a beautiful lull surrounding it all.

Our school year was a rough one with one child's first middle school year on one end of the seesaw and a sweet newborn on the other end, and five children in between. Come to think of it, this year was also Josiah's first year in our co-op's K-1st grade class, Mercy's first year in the 2nd-3rd class and Michael's first year in the 4th-5th class, so adjustments and growing up for everyone in the school department.

To celebrate and document the peace that accompanies our morning trips to the pool and our evening dinners out at baseball practice, I am posting some pictures of what I've found on the camera between now and January. The arrival of the sweet newborn and our holidays seem like they need a post or two of their own but before too much more life happens, I better get on with it. What I really mean is that I have time to do this now, so I'm going to do it.

Mercy turned 8 in January. Grandad and Grammy finished the dollhouse kit that my dad and I began when I was a little girl. I don't know who was more excited; my parents had such great fun giving this gift and Mercy loved receiving something special made by them. Around this time of year, Mercy began to truly read independently. I am so happy for her to finally be able to love reading too. She has begun to read Little House books and American Girl books. She reads to all her younger siblings and she enjoys it. She has joined Daniel and Michael in their long afternoons lolling on the couch with a book. What a gift!

Also, in January, Reuben fell from atop James' bunk and broke his arm. See that little arm up there? It doesn't look broken, does it? When he fell at bedtime one Sunday night, we thought he'd hit his head, not his little arm. It wasn't clear until morning that it was really his arm that was injured.

Thankfully, it was an uncomplicated break and it healed quickly and well. Reuben wore two different casts; a larger red one that went up past his elbow and later a smaller Seahawks colored one that only covered his wrist. I think he only wore the casts for 3-4 weeks.

 We had a couple glorious days of snow play. Our new home is quite close to a park with great sledding hills. Prior to living in our new home, we lived in a valley, flat and joyless for those who love to sled when it snows. I grew up skiing and snow play is something I cherish when we have a rare snowfall. Here are Daniel, Reuben and the first snowman we built. Everyone ran out in their jammies at bedtime to play in the much hoped for snow that had just begun to fall. And we spent a bunch of time at the park making enormous snowballs, sledding, colliding with cement walls while sledding, snowboarding on top of sleds, making jumps. Except for Michael's collision with the squash court wall, it was wonderful.

Slate kitchen floors don't mix well with anything. Our kids do the dishes. A few years ago I invested in nice plain white Corelle dishes because they are practically unbreakable. Except if you have slate flooring in your kitchen. This is a common and unfortunate scene depicting the loss of 3-5 bowls, depending on who you ask.

A sleepy looking Reuben holds his tiny sister. This boy loves this little girl.

Reuben also loves playing music, this time with a sword as a guitar. He is serenading James' bath.

Little Pinky is growing! I think she is 2 months in this picture. Bob says he thinks she has been the easiest baby of all of them. She is very content, sweet, and sleeps and eats very well.

Dress up play continues to be a favorite. Robin Hood/Link and his friend (Purple Zebra? with Invisible Friend in tow) routinely come up stairs in full regalia. I love it so much that if I go to a garage sale, weapon toys and dress up stuff are some of the first things I look for.

Hi Bright Eyes! Eden is about three months in this picture.

Eden is wearing some of my favorite tiny clothes: a little set of onesies and leggings with kitties on the tops and ruffles behind her on the bottoms. I squished her into them until she couldn't fit anymore.

Here is Daniel on Josiah's birthday lunch to the park outing during which Reuben's apple fell all the way down the Big Hill and James, determined to help, retrieved it. 

Happy Birthday Josiah! Now he is SIX. I think he is opening a card from Mercy here. I know I have said it before here but Mercy really does birthdays the best of all. Josiah and Mercy probably have the closest friendship among our kids right now. Lots of make believe fun happens with the two of them.

Reuben's funny pouty smile is evolving into something different. His lower lip doesn't stick out quite so much. He still loves sink baths when he can get 'em.

Eden's newborn hair was pretty fair but the baby hair that is now growing is much more golden blonde than her siblings. And this how she looks most of the time. 0.0

Easter. This was the best picture of them all. Daniel is 11, Michael is 9, Mercy is 8, Josiah is 6, James is 4 and Reuben is almost 3. Eden is 4 months.

Mercy helps in so many ways. She has made lunch, at my request, and has taken it upon herself to put smilie faces on the sandwiches with cranberries and also in the orange on her plate.

We studied the Ancients this year which of course includes Ancient Rome. On this particular afternoon, a long day at our homeschool co-op ends with a battle in our springy backyard. Mercy and Michael were longbowmen, I think? The little boys were all attacking Daniel who has the big red shield.

A job change and a move brought us some new close-by family members this year and these two have become such good buddies. What a treat! They are both enjoying a snack of Hannibal's elephants at co-op during the unit I taught this year.

And, Reuben did finally turn 3 in May after months of asking things like, "When my birthday is?" "My birthday is next?" "My birthday is in MAY."  Here he is, dressed as SuperWhy. Shortly after the close of the school year, I made good on my promise to him that I would let him potty train once he was three. I had kind of, well, really dreaded doing so all year. I thought it would take all summer. But he figured it all out really quick! We took Froggy Potty with us every where we went for a few weeks; baseball practice, the park to meet our friends, church. And Reuben used Froggy Potty in the back of the van. Then, I had a brainwave. I thought, we are going to enjoy Froggy Potty but his time is going to be brief so that Reuben doesn't get too attached to only going in Froggy Potty. (This kind of thing has happened before to some other children I know.) So now, Reuben goes successfully in all kinds of potties and Froggy Potty is back on his shelf in the garage. Isn't it important that I record that information here?

At our co-op End of the Year Program: Michael was a Tap Root, Josiah was dressed as Howard Carter and the rest of us were just so extremely glad that the school year had come to an end. And honestly, this year was the first year I have ever felt such a relief and a joy to say goodbye to the school routine. I will need it desperately again before it's truly time but for now, the summer, filled with a different kind of busy, full day is here!