Sunday, August 24, 2014

Laundry Room/Mudroom Makeover

We're a lot like If you Give a Mouse A Cookie around here when it comes to our home projects. One thing leads to another, leads to another and before you know it (or over a long period of time...) much more than was originally planned has happened. That was sort of what happened with this project. You see, our laundry room was more of a laundry closet & was situated right at the rear (and most frequently used!) entrance to our house. Right next to our laundry closet was a closet containing our furnace and finally after that was a door that led into the there were LOTS of doors to work around. Pictured below is from our hallway-- the door to the right led into our hallway, the folding doors are the laundry doors, the gap to the left was where there was a furnace door & the white door in the back is our back door.
While working around the multiple doors was annoying, it was livable, and the doors housed things that we needed (our furnace & washer/dryer). And actually, thank goodness for those laundry doors or you would have seen an ugly furnace or THIS when walking through our home...

The orientation of the washer/dryer always drove me crazy as well, because the washer was on the right and turned perpendicular on the left. The shelves were frustrating because I couldn't reach anything (and thus, was always climbing on the appliances to reach things on the top shelf). Additionally, anytime I was doing laundry and the doors were open, you couldn't enter or exit our house without them getting in the way. But again, these were all just annoying things...

Once, a long time ago, we were chatting about our furnace and how stupid it was that it was on our main floor when we have a huge unfinished basement that it could take up a little section of. We decided years ago that when/if our furnace ever died we would put the new one down in the basement and gut the entire space to make more room. After all it was impractical and ugly!! This is looking at the space from inside the back door-- it was basically a small hallway with lots of annoying doors!

Well last November the furnace finally died & the project began! We had been saving & planning for this for awhile so appliance shopping was in order (Yay!) Aaron's dad helped Aaron rip out the old furnace. Aaron and I worked hard a removing walls/doors/studs etc. We got rid of our old washer/dryer, put in new tile to match the bathrooms we re-did, put up new drywall, patched, painted, etc. We chose a light teal color (that isn't displaying exactly true to color in the pics). It's brighter than any other walls in our house, but we love it and it reminds me clear ocean water. We wanted to start the long, tedious, never-ending *wonderful* process of painting the rest of our oak trim on the main level to match what we re-did upstairs, so we figured we'd start with this room. We were able to have our new furnace installed in the basement with a return air exchange needed up in the new room, but we ended up using that extra space to our advantage and added a counter top in. We are thrilled with the results and while the bones have been mostly done for a few months now, we finally finished up the details. Here's what it looks like now!
Looking into the room from the back door

Again looking in from the door--We removed the door that takes you
into the hallway and put a gate up for now. Where there aren't toddlers
in the house the gate will be gone too!
The white box hides our furnace exchange
and doubles as a nice counter to throw mail,
lay out things for errands, etc. The bench
houses shoes for the fam. I covered it with
some brown/white fabric instead of using the
tan cover it came with.
The large white storage unit houses coats,
our vacuum and then storage, etc on shelves. Our laundry
bins fit nicely on top of this shelf, and I can still reach them. I
always "challenge myself" to keep the bins empty up there
because that means the laundry is DONE & AWAY! Ah :)

Here is the room looking out from the hallway. You
can't exactly see but another nice thing my hand husband
did was install a new back door & a retractable screen door.
We like both but we LOVE the screen door-- lets in so much
light & fresh air!

There used to be an ugly oak box hiding
the electrical box. I covered the box with batting
and fabric instead and made this to hang
pictures, cards, etc. 

Bible verse on the wall across from the bench & shelf
The shelf & baskets was another amazon find.
We chose deep plum baskets to offset the bright teal.
    And they are handy for keeping hats, gloves, sunscreen,
      etc organized and away! The hooks rarely ever have jackets
       on them, but now there's a space for friends to put their coats!
Another look from the hallway-- so much
more space now! The bench comes in handy
for putting shoes on and off. 

And that's that! Another room done in our house....We should be moving onto the kitchen/sun room makeover which is the only space in our house we haven't renovated yet. But we never do what we SHOULD instead we're making over our master bedroom. Not much changing there but paint & furniture, but VERY excited about the changes to come in there! Stay tuned (ha, in like a year apparently!!) That's what happens when you are working on house projects with little kids! :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On going Vegan

Three Thursdays ago I became a vegetarian. :) Over the course of the last few months many things have contributed to me wanting to make some eating changes. They include: health, environment, animal welfare, influences from friends & overall improvement of life. I was essentially raised vegetarian, as we ate very little meat and had a huge garden, eating mostly from the garden & beans/rice or pasta dishes. Many members of my immediate and extended family are vegetarian so it's certainly familiar to me. And overall, we've always eaten fairly well. I've always tried to provide good choices for Keira and she loves herself some fruits & veggies, as does Lil. But a few things fell into place around the beginning of this year and after doing some research (through mostly documentaries, many of which we'd seen before in past years but just didn't sink in the first time) I just decided that I was going to become a vegetarian, and while I was at it, I wanted to give veganism a try, too. The movie most impacting this decision was Vegucated on Netflix. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

I am 100% committed to staying vegetarian, and have many reasons for that but probably the biggest one being that I don't even enjoy meat all that much to be consuming it. And more than that, the mainstream meat market and production of meat in this country is rediculous and extremely disgusting. I certainly feel better about consuming grass fed, free-range, organic, etc, etc, meat, but I still just don't feel good about it, so I just decided if it had a mama I won't be eating it. I wanted to try the vegan thing just for kicks and giggles, but I assumed that I wouldn't be able to keep it up and would jump right back to cheese and milk and eggs, etc.

Three weeks later, here we are! I wanted to do a post 3 weeks out (and then again in weeks to come) as I have been amazed at how much better I have been feeling. Aside from the elimination of dairy helping to improve the symptoms of my Crohn's disease, I also have loads more energy, feel much less sluggish and achy, feel like my complexion has improved and have even lost a little weight. (Bonus!) When people find out that I'm doing this, there are generally two questions: What do I eat? and Don't you miss foods?

I feel like I have SO many choices of foods to eat and things that I like, that I most certainly do not feel like I'm living without. I don't miss anything, because I feel like a much better version of me, and because I didn't cook meat all that often to begin with. I'm not a big fan of meals that take a long time to prepare and are huge productions (plus with 2 kiddos and a hungry husband, my dinner prep needs to be fast!) but we have had several yummy meals that we all (L & K included!) have enjoyed including peanut pad thai, beans & rice bowls, veggie wraps, various salads, quinoa, couscous, etc. Thankfully my hubby is supportive and fine with me not cooking meat at home, and the only thing I've asked of him is that he's honest with me when I try a new recipe or make something a different way. So far he's been all in! We have still been buying cheese, milk and yogurt for he and Keira, but Keira is really the only one consuming much dairy around here. 

Now please hear me...I know there are health benefits to dairy and animal proteins, and I'm not trying to knock anyone who consumes meat and dairy, but I have just learned a lot over the course of the last few months about how I really don't NEED meat and dairy to meet my nutritional needs, and how I can actually survive just fine without them and feel fulfilled and even better than I felt consuming them. If you are at all interested in learning more about vegetarianism/veganism, the web is FULL of amazing resources. (I should compile a list of my favorites!) And if you like documentaries, there are so many good ones on Netflix to check out: Forks over Knives; Food Inc; Foodmatters; Vegucated; Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead; Farmageddon. 

I still feel like I'm in the beginning stages of this and would love any additional resources-- books, websites, recipes, or films that you have come across. And no matter your food choices, I hope you'd consider going veg even for just a day or a week or a month to see what happens for you!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Too fast!

Somehow seemingly overnight Lil went from being this little (well okay, adorably chunky) immobile baby to one that is everywhere and into everything! While she isn't technically crawling forward, she army crawls forward pretty well and scoots herself backward too. She pivots herself in circles and is relying much more on forward/backward motion than flipping to get to where she wants to go. This new world of movement has presented new challenges with wanting to get into anything and everything she can get her hands on. She is particularly fond of Keira's toys (most of which are fine of her but some of which are too small for her) and Alli's toys (yuck!). She still prefers exploring on her own on the ground but is becoming more fond of "walking" while holding onto your hands too. She especially loves falling forward into your arms, and makes lots of happy noises and sounds when she's moving and grooving. She is still enjoying three big girl meals a day, enjoying lots of different solids & foods, along with nursing to keep up with all this activity! She is becoming known for her loud screeching while eating to express her enjoyment over food. At 7.5 months she's eating MANY more foods than her sister was even attempting at this point. While I love to see her grow, change and explore, I only wish I could freeze time and make it slow down!!! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Baking with the Big Girl

For the past three Thursday nights Aaron has gone to play soccer with a friend in the evenings. Secretly (or okay, not so secretly anymore), I love this time. I get Baby Ister down for bed and then Keira and I scramble into the kitchen to make a huge baking mess. Tonight we conquered three recipes (2 new, 1 tried and true). We made kale brownies (sounds weird but Y-U-M), peanut butter balls (wasn't impressed with this particular recipe), and mocha chocolate bites. All were from a website I've been using a lot lately called She has oodles of healthy dessert recipes, and I have loved/tweaked many of them. Anyway, more on the healthy desserts, etc in blogs to come, but tonight I just want to remember our baking night...

For starters, I don't get a ton of one-on-one time with Keira. You'd be surprised by that since I stay home all day with her, but there's just very little time (if at all) in a day that it's just one of the girls awake. So, I cherish my one on one time with each of them when I can get it. She has shown an interest in baking, which makes her baking mama happy. She helps me collect all the ingredients and "reads" the recipe for me. She pours (i.e. dumps/spills) the ingredients in the bowl for me. She tests ingredients while we are baking. Tonight as I turned my back to get something else, she decided to add "just a lil extra salt, mommy, just a littttttttlllle extra". Thankfully it all landed in one spot that could easily be scooped up with by a spoon! She loves this time and so do I. :)

Tonight she got completely covered in chocolate, and as I looked at the clock realizing it was nearing 9 (whoops) and she was a mess, the kitchen was a mess and I hadn't showered yet today I realized the easiest solution was to stick her in the shower with me. This is one of those ah-ha, DUH parenting things that I don't know WHY I haven't done til now, but I guess it's mostly because my girl loves her baths so much. Anyway, all is clean, the shower was "SOOOO cool Mommy!! lots of water splashing EV-ER-RE where" and the little girl is tucked in bed. When we did our book, and prayer and song tonight before I stuck her into bed, she took my face in her little hands, and said, "Thank you Mommy." Melt my heart. Thank YOU Keira for such a fun night, and thank you Lord for blessing me with this beautiful girl. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Let's try this again...

Well, it's high time I started writing again. I have three random blogs that I've posted a handful of entries to, but I've decided to give this particular one another go. I am sure of two things: I don't know what I want my focus to be (though my original thought of a modge podge blog will do for now) and I likely will go through spells where I won't write. I am doing this primarily to have a place to record life, but who knows what path this will take...

I have four or five posts up in my brain right now, but for fear of going hog wild at the beginning and puttering out (something I have a tendancy to do), we'll keep this one short and sweet with a brief update on life, the fam & me.

The hubs continues to thrive in his role as elementary principal at a nearby school, and I'm constantly proud of all that he has achieved thus far in his career. He gets up and heads in early so that he can come home once my daycare kiddos leave. He invests in our family. He's the king of finding deals (more on that in posts to come I'm sure), and he's 100% devoted to us. I love him unconditionally and would not be me without him. 

My girls are growing faster than weeds. Kcup is nearly 2.5 already and L is 7 months. K was recently potty trained and along with that rite of passage, came a strong(er) sense of independence, a more outspoken voice and several more "I can do it myself's" a day! She is my ever constant narrator of life, my dancing girl, my drama queen and sweet soul. My current favorite thing that she does is to crawl up into my lap and say, "Hi Mommy. How are you today? I love you so very much..." and on and on. She LOVES being a big sister, and is very involved in anything that involves L. L is my little chunker monker...she's active and moving! She pivots, flips, and crawls backwards at this point to get to where she wants to go. She says mama, gah, ba, pa, and la... though will only occasionally repeat sounds (my favorite of course being maaa). She loves to eat, and so far hasn't refused a single thing that we've put in front of her or given her. She continus to be fairly laid back and predictable, though occasionally likes to keep me on my toes. They are our amazing blessings, and I continue to be overwhelmed with love for them!

I recently put in my official letter of resignation from my teaching position. For those of you that know me well, know I haven't been working these past two school years....Last school year I was on a child rearing leave for K and had L in August before this current school year, asking for a maternity leave for this school year. When I originally asked for leave, I genuinely did not know what I would do after that first school year was up. Then once I was pregnant with L, it became clear I should stay home a bit longer. It's been nice to have my contract on the back burner, but it was time to make a final decision. In some ways I feel like it was an easy decision, and in other ways impossible. I LOVE my district and am a little biased but I know that we are the best district around...I was respected there, and loved my co-workers, the students, our philosophies, our practices, etc. I was excited to re-enter the classroom again after 2 years out as instructional coach, and know that I have a lot to offer when it comes to teaching. But, what it comes down to is I just love my girls more. I know that may sound silly, but at the end of the day, I want to be doing what I love and what I love is being with them and raising them. I want them to have a firm, solid foundation, and I want to be able to be home with them during these incredibly fast-paced formative years. While in practice the past few years I've been just a stay at home mom, along with providing care for a few kiddos, now I really am *just* a stay at home mom. 

And that's okay with me...