Courtyard Deck and Built-in Bench

06/25/2014

I gave a little sneak peek of this project on Friday. Jason recently constructed this bench and deck into our courtyard. This is the main entrance into our home, a private garden space that’s secluded from the street and neighbors. It’s a lovely space to sit and it just got better! We still need to add some cushions but we’re enjoying it already.

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Real Life

03/27/2014

In an effort to keep up with writing more frequently, here’s a really random post. I’m practicing with my wide-angle lens on my DSLR and photoshop settings as I’m starting to get into real estate photography. Practicing with my own house was the obvious choice. The living room was pretty tidy but I made no effort to clean up the other rooms. I’ll spare you from Ali’s bathroom and our bedroom. Here’s a little real life peek into my house:

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Homestead (Not Child-Related) Happenings

01/09/2014

We’re building a privacy fence in our backyard. It’ll be a modern wood fence very similar to our last house. I did an extensive tutorial on that fence three years ago, as well as the process of enclosing our courtyard at this house, so I will not be documenting our process this time. We managed to get all 23 posts set in the ground just before the great Flash Freeze of 2014. Now Jason’s touring schedule is rolling again so we’ll have to wait for some warmer days to line up with the days we’re both off work so we can start on the pickets.

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We’re getting chickens! Two years ago Nashville passed a new law allowing backyard hens to be raised for eggs. Jason was interested right away but it took me a while to get on board. Now that we have the fence started and Jason got this new book for Christmas, I’m all in. I’m so excited. We’ll be getting our chicks in the next month or two to start raising them inside until we have the coop done and it’s warm enough for them to move into their new house. We’re allowed to have up to 6. We’re planning to start out with 3 or 4. We eat a ton of eggs around here (18-24/week) so I’m excited to start getting them fresh from our own backyard.

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The foster kids’ room (which I’m tempted to call the little girl’s room…or is it the little girls’ room…) is getting a mini makeover. We’re repainting the walls. We got some new art and moved art in from a different room and I’ve moved some furniture around. Bee is gone for 25 days and with the possibility of baby Trust coming, well, I guess I’m nesting. We decided to paint Sherwin Williams Ellie Gray just like the first foster kids’ bedroom at our last house, which ended up being Ali’s nursery. We were very happy with that color and we’re not so happy with the neon green I chose for this house.

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Our master bedroom has been slowly getting designed. We realized one day that it’s sad how neglected it’s been design-wise. Last June we celebrated 10 years of marriage and decided that it’s time for a properly designed room. I’ll share more about it when it’s finished. We started out with a dresser and curtains. We added some art. New bedding. A new bed frame and lamps. Still to go: paint and wall/headboard treatment. Rugs. More art.

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Ali’s room got a mini-makeover too. She mastered climbing out of a pack-n-play while we were staying at my brother’s house for a few days and quickly transferred her skills to her crib at home. She’s now in a big girl bed again (side off her crib for now…eventually that KURA bed in the foster kids’ room will be hers). I’ll post more about that transition later. It’s going so much better this time around. She got a new lamp, owl poster and hot pink dog-butt hooks for hanging her dress-up clothes from IKEA.

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Welcome, Karl

08/27/2013

For the first time in the past seven years, we sold a vintage furniture item and replaced it with an IKEA item. Maybe it’s the modern house we live in now rather than a 1955 ranch. Or maybe it’s the practicality of IKEA with families and small children. It’s probably both… The other part of our couch decision was based on the layout of our living room. This long Karlstad couch with chaise utilizes the space in our living room better. After Ali went to bed on Friday night, Jason and I started to assemble it. He had to leave in less than 2 hours for bus call. We scrambled and got the room put back together just in time! We haven’t had a couch in our living room for two weeks so it was so nice to sit here and relax a few times over the weekend. When Ali got up on Saturday morning I told her we got a new couch. When she saw it she said, “New couch! I want to sit here,” as she climbed up onto the chaise. “I want to watch shows.” I put a show on for her—a DVD that is—I didn’t perform.

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I think she’s a fan!

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The gray pillows aren’t a good fit for the beige couch but they’re functional for now. I think only one end table is going to work with this set up so we have to find another home for the other table and switch some lamps around. We’re also working on some art ideas for the big blank white wall.

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Since Lucy keeps photobombing all my pictures, I figured I better just give her a proper portrait. Lucy the chocolate cocker spaniel at 8 years old:

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Something is Missing

08/20/2013

After Buzz went home and while Jason was gone to Europe, I went on a crazy reorganizing, cleaning, selling spree. While we had two energetic toddlers bouncing off of everything at our house, we decided that our vintage sofa was too precious for our home at this stage in our lives and foster parenting journey. Yes, the sofa we spent 80 hours last summer reupholstering. Gone! It now belongs to a young woman in Alabama where I’m sure it’s enjoying the single life and is no longer being jumped on by little pipsqueaks.

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We’ve decided to resort back to IKEA. When we got married in 2003, we were all about IKEA. We had a few second hand items and gradually replaced everything with the big box Scandinavian modern. In 2007 when we bought our 1955 ranch, we started replacing IKEA items with vintage items…usually could sell the IKEA furnishings for much more than the estate sale and thrift store treasures we were scrounging up. This may be a first step in the other direction for us… we’ve sold a vintage piece of furniture and replaced it with an IKEA piece of furniture.

For now we have a very empty living room but

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hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be picking up one of these:

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We’re still trying to sell these American By Martinsville tables. I thought I had a buyer but they backed out. If you or anyone you know is interested, please let me know. We’re happy to negotiate.

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90-Day To Do List

08/06/2013

Buzz returned home to his mom on a 90-day trial basis. I really believe that he’ll be able to stay with her and everything will work out but just in case (and because it’s good excuse for a break), we’re not planning on taking any new placements for 3 months. That means lots of time to get stuff done: rest, regroup, reorganize, rearrange, restock, etc.

Here are my goals for the next 3 months:

• Take Ali to visit our friends in Cincinnati

• Visit our previous hometown Erie, PA and introduce Ali to her only great grandparent – Jason’s grandma who she was named after (and other friends and family, too!)

• Clean out and organize the garage. More. Again.

• Clean, rearrange the kids room

• Organize and store extra kids clothing in the closet for easier access

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• Reorganize the playroom (pack up or give away toys that Ali has outgrown)

• Stock the freezer with meals again

• Celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Ali’s adoption day

• Transition Ali into a big girl bed (AKA take the side off of her crib)

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Note: On both Saturday and Sunday I was blessed by a little girl falling asleep in her car seat and transferring easily into her bed. Night time has had a few bumps but overall she’s doing really, really well. I’ll write more about the transition from crib to bed if anyone wants to hear about it.

• Potty train Ali

• Clean out the van

• Clean and store spare car seats

• Sell the Mercedes and get another van (we love our van so much that we want a second one!)

• Take Ali to Dollywood while Jason’s playing there

• provide respite for another foster family

• decide what I want to do with the rest of my life

 

3 trips, lots of cleaning and organizing, lots of time spent with our little girl


Respite and IKEA

07/16/2013

While we were out of town kid-free Jason and I had to find places for Ali and Buzz to stay, of course. Ali was easy. My parents were willing. Since we lived with them for 10 months last year and Ali goes there all the time, it was a pretty easy transition for her. We did a lot of FaceTime and sending photos and videos back and forth, which helped a lot. I’m so thankful for technology!

Buzz was a little trickier. It was too much to ask anyone to watch both kiddos together (I totally understand!) so we needed to find another home for Buzz to stay. Our new family case worker was awesome about sending out an email and locating a family that was willing and available. The other family’s case worker sent their contact info with a little note “heart in the right place” next to their names. I can’t tell you how much peace of mind that gave me! I talked to his respite foster mama at length before the trip and sent her a detailed list of his routine and likes/dislikes. They were grateful for all the info and I was thrilled that they cared enough to ask in advance about his favorite foods, books, activities, etc. She sent me reports and some photos during our trip reporting that he was doing great and such a sweet boy. She also kept in touch with Buzz’s mom through texts, pictures and videos lik we usually do. Buzz’s mom and I both hated for his sake that he had to be away from our home for 9 days, but it went as good, if not better, than we could have hoped for. It was a little rocky transitioning back to our house the first day. It was hard to interpret his emotions…sad, confused, scared…but I’m not exactly sure why. We did our best to explain to him everything that was happening and what to expect next. By the next day, he was pretty much back to his usual self. It sounds like he didn’t talk much at their house but he came back with some new words and expressions, and it’s been fun to hear what he learned: “that way!” “wait!” with his hand held out, “oh ok.”

I had planned to have an extra day of staycation when we got home before returning to the work/daycare routine but we ended up with 2 days (because Jason opted to drive through the night!) I’m really glad we had that time to transition back to a family of four again. Both of our kids caregivers did ALL of their laundry before pick up so I only had 3 loads to do when we got home, rather than 4 or 5. Thank you, thank you!

I looked at tacky over-priced Key West souveniers for the kids at several shops and just couldn’t bring myself to do it. We stopped at IKEA in Orlando on our way home and I picked out a big stuffed animal for each of them…or in Ali’s case a stuffed vegetable. She loves broccoli so I thought it would be funny to get her a big stuffed broccoli. There’s a video of her showing off Miss Bocki on my Instagram feed. Buzz loves dogs so his toy was an easy choice, too. He acted completely uninterested in it while we were still at his respite house but then fell asleep holding it on our drive home and has slept with it every nap and night since then. I asked him if dog has a name and he said “Woof Woof.”

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We got a few things for ourselves, too. Some of it won’t appear until future posts when it’s assembled and/or photographed. These were easy, though. New towels, bath rug and shower curtain for the hall bathroom:

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