I present to you; The Mudroom.

This has been a long work in progress. The plans will that this mudroom will serve as the main entrance for the house for the family (read: school years). For a couple of reasons…

1. we put on a code padlock, so no need for keys and lost keys and forgotten keys and i accidentally ate my key keys (I can see it happening..)

2. Our main entrance, though equipped with a front hall closet, doesn’t lend itself for a lot of drop-your-stuff-space. If we fast forward life a bit, I wanted a designated area and easy access for school bags, muddy rain boots, running shoes, dog leash and accessories (read: poop bags. All the poop bags), ALL THE HATS AND MITTS (oh my gosh.), etc. So you know….by very definition, A Mudroom.

When we moved in, the porch off the kitchen was a touch worse-for-wear. The wooden beams everything was rotting, not insulated, was sinking, and was basically a mouse hotel. While we did the kitchen reno, I mistakenly loaded up the back porch -which then had lots of build in shelves and storage – with dry goods. Well, a day later when I opened up the pantry to grab some crackers EVERYTHING was shredded. And eaten. And pooped on. So that was nice. Enter mouse traps— exit an entire family history of mice. Sorry guys, but, you asked for it.

So from then on that room until we could give it some attention became a bit of a drop-zone for stuff. But once the weather warmed up…

  • down came the walls
  • new window
  • new door
  • new walls
  • insulation
  • new floor supports
  • new floor
  • new light fixture
  • upper shelving/”cubbies”
  • Bench w/ storage
  • Magnetic display

Keep in mind, this was about a 2 year project. Because it wasn’t something like a kitchen reno where it NEEDED to be done to have your day-to-day life function, we just picked away at it as both money and time allowed.

Initially we had some contractors quote out to do the cubbies/bench/storage solution. But….it came with a hefty price tag. We were willing to pay for the work to be done, but also had a budget. Those quotes…well, they blew up our budget. Like…exploded. So…what else to do but turn to Ikea…and make it so.

We got all the shelving from ikea. We spaced out the upper shelves and then put in fake face plates to make it look super custom. Still need to do that on the bottom unit, but…time. Added a strip of Crown Moulding to the top and bam. Custom cubbies at a fraction (f.r.a.c.t.i.o.n.) of the cost.

For the bench, we had a long strip of foam custom made and cut for us. Then I got some outdoor fabric (60% off ….woop!) and covered the foam cushion. THIS WAS EASY. Seriously– no sewing skill at all needed. Barely any skill needed, really.  So we had the wooden base for the bench, the cushion, and fabric. Lay down the fabric good side down, put the cushion down and centred, topped with the wood. Pull the fabric up one side at a time and staple. Boom. Done.

The Magnet Wall, is quite simply a metal sheet with moulding attached to frame it. What’s better about this is the metal was left here in the house, AND the trim was leftover from another project. So this cost us virtually $0.

For the baskets up top…ugh. Don’t get me started. You’d think for an Ikea shelf that ikea boxes/bins would exist. Well, sure, they DO, but not the size I wanted. They needed to be big enough to hold a fair amount of hats/mitts/etc but I didn’t want them to overhang the shelf. I was very picky about the boxes. One night I went to 5 different stores but couldn’t find anything that I was happy with. So, you’ll be surprised to discover the end result were diaper boxes covered in raw canvas….

 

 

 

 

 

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Lumberjack

Huzzah! Lumberjack Charlie is 1! But let’s be real, first birthdays are more for the parents than the babes. Huzzah! We made it! We powered through night time feedings, nap schedules that changed every 3 months, deciphering  hungry cries/poo cries/IM JUST CRYING BECAUSE cries, and more.

We got to see our baby boy’s personality come alive in a different way this time, too. We got to see Ellie interact, grow with, teach,….fight……,  and adjust to life with an addition.

Charlie is our chill boy. He’s easy to please, super smiley, a deep belly laughing, brute force power house, eager, every-ready-battery-when-it-comes-to-climbing, face hugging, sweet, sweet Charlie. He -so far- idolizes Ellie. For a long time, she was the only one who could get him belly laughing. Love watching them together — that is, when Ellie isn’t freaking out over Charlie touching one of her toys that she was playing with last week and was about to touch again. She likes to take his hands and help him walk, jump up and down when he cries (because it was the first thing that ever made him laugh), and help feed him breakfast (…that and giving him the pieces of her meal that aren’t her favourite…sharing is caring?).

Wouldn’t trade a day without our Charlie Boy in it.

We did a Lumberjack themed party for year one. Made some bunting banners, food tags, water labels etc, as well as a some burlap, plaid banners, and wood decor from a friend and neighbour who is also doing a lumberjack party in a couple of weeks. Perfect!

Rob got a burst of energy last night and made mini-axes for parting gifts. You’re welcome, parents! Axes are appropriate for a 1 year old party, right? Thought so.

My sister is a cake genius. She made a mini stump smash cake for charlie and a BIG stump cake that WAS PLAID ON THE INSIDE. And, on top of it all, she also made cupcakes. My goodness are we ever lucky to have her! For that and many reasons ❤

And, because I’m in the giving mood, here is a download file to some free lumberjack printables for any lumberjack party in your future. Pages are 11 x 17 FYI .

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Putting the Arty in Party

We decided to give Ellie a party this year with just her wee-lil-friends.

We survived!

The theme was “arts-n-crafts” as per Ellie’s request.

After some pinteresting, I came across these two links as pin-spiration for the party.

https://innerchildfun.com/2011/11/pretend-sweets-made-with-sponges.html

and, http://www.todaysparent.com/kids/birthday-parties/birthday-party-ideas-art-theme/

For the game I cheated. It had nothing to do with arts or crafts. Just a presentation board with holes cut out, covered with tissue paper then a paper bag attached to it with a prize inside. Game? Well line up, go punch a hole, take your prize. Ta-da! Game over.

After discussing with my sister, kids seem to be totally content just being in another space with news toys and things to look at. But, I was nervous of not having enough to do and having 10 eyes stare at me like “what’s next?”.

I made a banner of Ellie’s favourite things (recited by her) so everyone helped paint the big poster. We bingo-dabbed the picture frames and then added in a square from the big giant poster for everyone to take home a part of Ellie’s favourite things “….awwwwwww.”

But now I must leave and go investigate the basement toy room….wish me luck.

Three.

THREE YEARS.

Three years ago to this day I was still in newborn-glow-phase. Little did I know, I was about to enter into a handful of months where I felt inadequate more times to count, cried over things from neighbours shovelling my walk, to thinking about how I would ever manage to cut a watermelon again. I would be leaving those handful of months feeling some of the lowest lows I ever felt. It was tough– I was even tougher on myself. I would go through those months wondering “WHAT HAVE I DONE?! WHY DO PEOPLE EVEN HAVE BABIES?!?!”

As you can guess, those feelings very much diminished (…enter January 25th, 2016…haha kidding Charlie.) On the flipside of the “little did I know” tale…. Little did I know, I would be entering to a new world like never before. A world with Eleanor. This is a wonderful place and a place I never want to not know. Eleanor is filled with such wonder and imagination that I sometimes turn up her monitor extra loud during her “quiet time” where I can listen to the stories she tells her stuffed animals and the worlds she creates. Just this afternoon our living room was a pirate ship. Pretty awesome world.

Little did I know my days would be filled with such laughter, sunny spirit, furious determination, fierce independence, and a love so deep that I can say with utmost certainty that part of my life was made for her. Made for her to meet her, know her, love her, teach her, and most importantly…learn from her.

This year, we witnessed her accept Charlie into our family with such certainty and embraced him from day one. Eager to help as we hit the floor running.

She sets the pace, and though it can be hard to keep up (i.e. the scene changes from our living room to a pirate ship to a canoe going to the cottage in seconds. Tiring!) She blazes through any and all trails, and I love to follow.


Now that I’m a blubbery mess as I reflect on the year and look through photos of the year, let’s switch gears ABOUT THESE SUPER CUTE DOLLS.

Santa was so kind to bring Ellie a dollhouse for Christmas. This dollhouse is gigantic…and in retrospect, maybe a touch of buyers remorse (but the people at the garage sale didn’t take returns…). It didn’t come with dolls, and would fit Barbie’s perfectly fine. But for some reason that I can’t really explain, I didn’t want to introduce barbies juuuust yet. But, all the other dolls readily available were just too small and looked out of place. I turned to etsy and found my inspiration to get little wooden dolls and paint them to be members of the family (!!!!!!). Enter next roadblock, the tallest I could find these little dolls was 4.75″. Not tall enough for this doll house. UGH. After  lots and lots and lots of searching I finally found 8″ ones. And the angels rejoiced.

It was super fun, but more fun watching her open them for her birthday and realising they were us, in weirdo bendy doll form. So excited! so happy!

THREE!

Thanks Eleanor for infusing imagination at play back into my life. Bringing me back to make-believe and story building (apparently a make believe world where I play the piano for the family’s entertainment…) Can’t imagine going back to January 3, 2014….because there that was when the world didn’t know you, the wonderful, crazy, energetic, dinosaur loving, book hoarding, crafting enthusiast, wonky wordsmith You.

Catching Up.

Our days are packed and we are pretty busy people, and apparently 3 year olds live pretty social lifestyles for us to keep up with. The household of  a young family is undoubtedly a busy one. That paired with orders coming in for freelance and my small etsy shop— there’s not a lot of time left in our days. But, with that time that’s left we tend to tinker on the projects in the house. It is kind of like our downtime, as backwards as that may be.

So, that being said, we have been playing a bit of catch-up with some things around here.

SEWING & CRAFTING & STAIRWELL.

Whenever I was going to break out the sewing machine, I had to lug it into the dining room to set up. Set up was annoying. To reach a plug I had to either hunt for the extension cord or shimmy the table closer to the wall. I would have to dig out my cutting mat stored under the couch, then gather up all the supplies that were squirrelled away. Then to clean up again, which lead to putting things away when I was tired and not at all interested in putting things back properly so enter: losing all sorts of things and/or screwing up any organization I had done with a fresh state of mind.

The idea was to eventually make a sewing/crafting room in the basement tied in with the laundry room. It was a Saturday morning while changing loads of laundry that I looked around and decided “no time like the present”. Rob came home from morning errands to find me shuffling furniture around things torn apart.

We had shelving units and an empty table and it was just becoming a breeding ground  for STUFF. And I’d rather sort through the STUFF (toss or otherwise) and get this sewing room under control. So we cleared things out, raised (and painted!) a shelving unit for it to be a better height for cutting etc, painted and plopped up some peg board, ta-da!

As for the stairwell, Rob patched up all the holes still leftover from the electricians from when we first moved in. And we (okay, he) painted it and then for a little variety, painted the ceiling bright (bright.) green. Because, why not? It’s a hallway. Have fun.

 

PANTRY & MILKBOX.

We painted the stairwell & pantry white. And while painting decided to give the shelves inside a little facelift & tummy tuck.

Super simple: resident wrapping paper, glue, water, tape. Done.

Same idea with the pantry, except substitute in scrapbooking paper and no need for tape. Easy makeover just because.

 

** MORE PICS & INFO OF THE REC ROOM BELOW, REMEMBER CLICKING ON PICS MAKES THEM BIG**

 

 

REC ROOM.

Finishing touches galore! Trim up! Quarter round up! Photos up! Shelves and toy storage, done! TV up! Heating Plate Up! Revived shelving unit done! We now spend a LOT of time down here. The kiddos love it.

Where did Summer go?

I have been out of school for some time and I don’t yet have children in school to re-experience summer, but man…it went fast!

So fast that I don’t think we did one blog post. Maybe we did. But I’m feeling far too lazy to go back and check when the last post was.

We had the entire house outfitted with brand new windows. Oh my gosh. Best decision. The ability to get breezes in the house and fresh air is just the best. Our front porch was all glassed, like a sun room. Though it’s nice in the winter to have an enclosed area acting as a primer before going out into the frigid, I still thought I’d prefer it opened up again. So, while the windows were being installed, we had him take out the biggest pane of glass and then we finished off the job. It’s way easier bringing in the groceries and stroller not having a door at the very top step that’s for sure.

I love it. We spend way more time out there now than we did when it was closed in. Rob also installed an outdoor ceiling fan to keep bugs at bay and a continuous breeze-a-comin’. We need to change out the flooring on the porch because it won’t withstand the extra moisture/dirt/snow/ice/salt it will now be exposed to. The next debate is now to paint the front door or not. The verdict is still out. (…but it will probably be yellow…)

However, those lovely breezes aided a bat family to find their way in the house. Hooray! Except not at all hooray. And of course they were always discovered swooping over our heads between the hours of 1 and 4 in the morning. So it was totally convenient.

It’s been a busy summer of bigger & necessary projects (re: window replacement and bat removal & prevention) so haven’t had as much time to do the fun things.

We’ve been picking away at the basement rec room as well as the office. Happy to say the office is done! Okay– we need to put the curtains back up…but a project done by us wouldn’t sound right it was anything but 90% complete!

The basement is looking amazing. So in love with it. And it’s been a great spot to head during the super hot summer we’ve had. All that’s left there is hanging (…and purchasing) a TV, hanging up artwork, and then the baseboards. You know, all that 10% stuff!

We kept 3 of the old windows from the office and are going to hang them up above the counter. It’s a good solution because that wall has been bare for far too long.  The office’s theme was basically wood. But nothing matched. The wooden desk was a different wood than the floor, which was different than the trim, which was different than the counter, which was different than the beams up top. SO lots of wood. So, to break up the wood, we painted the shelving unit (colour: Denim Blue by Behr) as well as the top slab of the desk. Also added some new handles on the shelving unit. Ta-Da!

As for the next creative/fun project, I think we’re going to get another set of engineering prints done and put them up in the old glass windows now in the office. We’ll see.

More to come including the befores/during/afters of the basement.

Enjoy the last few days of summer!

A wee update

With this wonderful weather we have been having we’ve been so busy out-and-about that some of our house projects have just been touched on, rather than tackled.

And you know what, that’s okay.

The garage doors are complete! huzzah! Two matching and functional doors. Slapped with a fresh coat of paint for the siding.

Rob has had his hands busy and dirty in the basement. Ceiling is in, taped, mudded, and painted. Walls are all primed and painted. We had new windows installed and super pleased with how they turned out. After picking up the last load of pallets, Rob finished the wall. Looks great! We just can’t decide to stain it or not, so for a now, we are going to leave as is and change later if we feel it still needs it. Carpet was ordered today and should go in next week if we’re lucky.

I had purchased a canvas and it’d been sitting blank for too long. So, on calm & quiet evenings, I hauled out the painting supplies and go to it. We hung it in the stairwell on the tall, tall, wall.

We also gave our back deck a bit of a facelift. It’s built super sturdy but we wanted to freshen ‘er up. So we did a quick & inexpensive fix, but it really does transform it to look totally new and refreshed. Who would have thought wood could be described as refreshing. Well, feast your eyes on this refreshing stack of wood.

As far as this thing known as “Parenting”, we have been having a hard time at bedtime for a few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s the brightness of day, the amount of time we are spending outside, her age, the grass being green, it being a day ending in ‘y’, or what. Likely a combo of all of the above. She gets her stories at bedtime, then a book for her bunny. The idea is that when she is done reading to bunny she then goes to sleep. It’s what we’ve always done.

But now it’s her talking and singing and talking and singing and rolling around, and needing a drink of water, then more talking and more playing, and more requests for water. She’s happy and content– but we’re talking some nights this happens for 2 hours passed her bedtime. So hopefully this will pass. My biggest worry is making bedtime a negative experience. I mean, she’s up there singing to her bunny and then here I am, the mean one, beckoning that it’s bedtime, not playtime, and stop having fun, and close your eyes, and “I better not have to come back up here one more time….” There have been a couple trying nights, and then me feeling super incredibly guilty for making bedtime a negative thing so much that at midnight I crawled into her bed to sleep because of my mom-guilt. Oh my goodness with the mom-guilt.

Other than that, we’ve been just enjoying one another, and getting oot-n-aboot.

 

 

 

 

Differences Between 1st & 2nd

So there are some shining differences between Baby 1 and Baby 2 – both in their personalities as well as my approach towards them.

Tonight, we are going to talk about The Approach.

Ellie did swimming classes as an infant and still continues to this day. Charlie is also currently enrolled in swimming lessons. So, I’m basically nailing this parenting thing.

Anyways, back to The Approach. When Ellie was in swim classes, there was picture day. The day where family and friends could come onto the pool deck during the class and take unlimited photos of Little Pot Roast floating around like a …well…pot roast.

For Ellie, I basically declared it a national holiday. Send out the E-vites. Make it a Facebook event. Book the photographer. Have hair and makeup done.

Charlie’s was last week. I noticed an abnormal amount of people on the deck during the swim class…then I noticed I was the only parent without an accompanying paparazzi. I thought “meh…oh well. It’s just a picture”

But then, as the class progressed I started seeing into the future and guilt ensued. I was picturing a nice evening going through each of their baby books when they are older, showing their first photos after being born, their first photos at home, first photos of eating solids, first photos of special holidays…then we’d turn the page. We’d get to “My first swimming lesson”

And there, Charlie would sit, with no picture. Which, of course, would turn into a tunnel of self-worth issues, lack of confidence, probably also the inability to swim without proof he once floated around (…like a pot roast) in a public pool at 5 months of age.

I snapped out of my future reading with 5 mins to spare before the class ended. I panicked.  I NEEDED that photo of him. It NEEDED to happen. HE I NEEDED IT.

So I meekly asked the first person I saw (a man with a long viking style beard, and black nail polish) to take our photo and to then awkwardly make arrangements to then get that photo. Well, it was a success. Charlie will now not spiral into the depths of self-worth because he, like his sister, will also have photo proof of his first swimming class. Thank you, kind Viking Man!

In the words of Ellie: “Phew. That was a close one.”

CharleiSwim.jpg

Small Victories.

Today, when Ellie woke up from her nap I went in to get her…as I do.

I crawled into her bed and laid down with her for a second. It was a sweet moment, and that moment was capped off when Ellie placed her hand on my cheek and said :

“You look clean today, Mommy. I like it.”

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Mudpies & Dinosaur Salad

After some idle pinterest-ing, I came across some super cute rocks painted with fruits and vegetables on them. Much like anything made teeny-tiny my reaction was “awwww….”.

The “awwwing” lead to clicking, which lead to more “awwwing” and the super fun world of mud kitchens. Then, after talking to my sister in law about the surge of energy I felt after seeing and reading about these things she introduced me to Reggio Emilia Outdoor Learning. SO FUN.

So with scraps found from other projects we (….Rob) put this together. Our main projects this summer are focused outside, so this was a good project to get the backyard wheel turning. We found the ideal spot for it too: out of the way, perfect size, blocking off the space between our house and the neighbours as Stevey gets back there and goes all “guard dog” and barks her face off when our neighbours are just trying to enjoy their supper! However, we do from time to time need access back there so we kept the weight of this kitchen and the portability of it in mind.

Ellie and I painted the rocks. She also went above and beyond the call of duty and painted her stomach, her legs, her arms, the table, the floor…should I go on?

As perfect timing would have it, we were able to use some of the branches and roots from shrubs we pulled out of the front yard to make the oven handle, oven burners and dials.

I also found some other scrap pieces of wood of different sizes and shapes to use for other means of creative play. Or you know, to throw for the dog. Tomato/Tomato.

With a quick trip to the dollar store and some rummaging in things we don’t really use,  we were able to bring this mud-kitchen home. Some stainless steel bowls, a strainer, some funnels, wooden spoons, frying pan, mini dutch oven,…and we are off to a great start.

To add some colour to the space (as it’s bound to soon me caked in dirt and mud) I grabbed some scraps of fabric  (look familiar?), and old pair of jeans and made some bunting/streamers/..things. I can never think of the proper name. And typing it into google and figuring out seems like a lot of work right now…! Ha.

We threw down a 1/2 yard of soil in the backyard and another 1/2 yard of mulch yet it doesn’t even look like it. How does that happen?

Anyways…Ellie played in it for the first time today. Pretty cute to watch her create. She made some soup, which after “eating” it says “mmm, tastes like chicken!” (culprit for that one liner @ 2:13: click here)

She rounded the meal off with a salad which the dinosaur said it was to die for.

As for Charlie, he didn’t have much in the line for any glowing reviews. He was happy enough being held in the baby-holding-device oblivious to the world around him.