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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Weekend Part 1

06/17/2013

After Buzz’s long nap on Friday afternoon, I took him and Ali for a swim at my parents’ house and then we ate pizza and my parents treated us an exhibit at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens called Night Lights by Bruce Munro. I got so many great photos of Buzz, but of course I can’t share them here.

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Saturday morning our original plan for a visit with his mom had to change last minute because the splash park we were going to meet at was closed. Like Ali’s post-pigtails bed head?

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I told her I needed to go to Target and we ended up meeting there and doing our shopping together. It felt like hanging out with a friend. She was so sweet and got Ali and Buzz matching outfits at Old Navy before we met.

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I am so thankful for her kindness and patience, for how much she loves her son and for how hard she is fighting to get him back. He’s one blessed little dude to have his mama working so hard to get him back.

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And then, of course, we went swimming again.


A Vacuum That Will Change Your Life

06/04/2013

We were ready to purchase a new vacuum recently and I remembered my friend Molly had written about the one she’s in love with a loooooong time ago. I looked it up and it turns out she hasn’t written a post since then. Ehem, NOVEMBER. I’m poking fun at ya, Molly, but seriously: I admire you and I totally understand your busyness because I now have two toddlers around the age of 2 and you have TWIN toddlers AND two other boys. So, in short, you’re my hero. I think about you every time I bust out the double stroller.

Thank you for the endearing (and persuasive) post about your Makita BCL180W 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless Vacuum. We  purchased one for ourselves last week and I concur with every word you’ve written. In the spirit of short and sweet blog posts, please visit Molly’s blog if you want to fall in love with vacuuming again…or more likely, for the first time. Leave her some comment love. Maybe she’ll start sharing nuggets of brilliance on the interwebs again.

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If you don’t feel like clicking on the links above, let me give you bullet points on it’s awesomeness:

• it’s cordless so no stopping to plug it in 3-4 times through the house; no getting tangled on chair legs, dogs or kids. It also makes it convenient to grab after a meal and zip zap under the dining room table.

• it charges super fast, like 15-20 minutes. It stays charged for 10-15 minutes which is actually enough to get through the house because see bullet point above.

• it doesn’t use vacuum bags and the filter can be washed

• it’s fairly lightweight…at least compared to dragging a wheeled canister vacuum around the house

• the canister near the handle means that it can reach under furniture very well

• it can be used without the attachments like a dust buster

• it’s small and easy to store


DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition)

04/16/2013

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Almost 2 years ago, Jason and I built a modern horizontal plank wood fence at our previous house to enclose our back garden. We used the same technique to build this fence and gate to make the fourth “wall” of our courtyard. There were two major differences. 1. We only had a 12′ spanse to build. 2. We had concrete walls on both sides.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

There was only 1 post hole to dig. Hooray! Jason used our trusty old post hole digger. (Jason and that post hole digger have made holes for 2 fences prior to this!) We were only making our fence 4-4.5′ tall so we used a 6′ 4×4 pressure-treated post. The post hole should be 2′ deep.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

After making sure it was level, we added a few braces to keep it in place before adding the dry concrete mix and water into the post hole. Jason also added a little concrete mix and water under the post.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Next we attached two 2x4s to the side of the house. The bottom piece was going into the concrete block foundation of the house.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Drilling screws into concrete is not easy! We used these pretty blue concrete screws.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Jason pre-drilled the holes for the screws. He opted to drill into the mortar to make it a little bit easier.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Once that was secure, Jason added a second, longer 2×4 along the house. This one should have been easier because it was only going through wood (the hardibacker siding, the corner beam in our garage and the shorter 2×4 below. We borrowed this powerful hammer drill from a friend (necessary for drilling into concrete) and it was so powerful it stripped our drill bits and one of the outdoor screw heads. It seems like there is always something that goes awry on a project like this. Thankfully, he was finally able to get it secured to the house with a combination of this drill, every star drill bit we own and our wimpy Ryobi drill. The screw that was stripped was cut off with a hack saw.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Another 2×4 was attached to the concrete block wall of the courtyard. Everything went smoothly with this one so I didn’t have time to take any photos.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I don’t know if it’s the correct carpentry term but we call the horizontal boards planks (as opposed to pickets on a vertical fence) and to differentiate between posts and planks. Adding the planks went every quickly since we’ve done this part many times before. We started at the bottom, putting the plank as close to the ground as possible and leveling it.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

We used 8′ untreated 1x4s. (Our last fence we used 1×3 ferring strips.) They’re cheap…around $1.20 a piece at Lowes. (Side note: in our experience Lowes has much better quality wood than Home Depot.) Jason used a nail gun to put four nails into each plank at the 4×4 post end and 3 nails into each plank at the 2×4 end. We work together doing this part and it moves rhythmically:

I position the plank into place.
Jason places the spacer between the planks.
Jason fires the nails into place.
I position the spacer at the other end of the plank.
Jason fires the nails into place.
Jason removes the spacer.
(Repeat.)
15x in this instance.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Anything sturdy and square can be used as a spacer. Since it was a fairly common question about our last fence project, I made a point of taking a picture. We used a plastic grout sample that was left at our house after construction. We have a bunch of them and it was quite convenient to have two so we could leave one at each end of the fence. They provided a gap of about 1/4″. It’s hard to see in the picture below because it’s brown…

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

We added another vertical 2×4 on the back side of the fence to keep the planks straighter. This 2×4 post is pressure treated but we didn’t put it into the ground. It’s only helping to keep the planks straight, not supporting the weight of the fence.We used the spacer again to make sure the gap between the planks was consistant. They’re often slightly bowed so we pushed and pulled to get them as straight as possible before nailing. Where the gap was too small, we used a pry bar to move the planks apart enough to fit the spacer.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Let’s step back and admire our work for a second. Ahh…

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Because we used 8′ planks, we made sure the space between the posts was slightly less than 8′. (If you’re building a fence with more than two posts, check out what we did here…I even have diagrams.)

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

We wanted the planks to be flush with the 4×4 post and we made a chalk line where they needed to be cut.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Jason used his circular saw for this. It’s a bit awkward, especially close to the ground. There may be a better way but this works for us.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I always insist on the safety glasses. I like how Jason tucks his pencil into his hat.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I didn’t do a very good job documenting the gate building process. (We started this project after Ali went down for her nap around 1pm on a Saturday and at this point 3 hours later, she was awake so she could “help” us.) We built a frame out of 2x4s just a bit (maybe 1″ both way) smaller than the opening for the gate. The extra 2x4s down the middle and diagonally (that I didn’t photograph here) help the gate stay square. We attached planks in the same way as the fence – starting first with the outside ends, using the spacer, and then the middle post, also using the spacer, using a pry bar as needed.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

Once it was hung, I took a picture of the back side so you can see the two diagonal pieces of 2×4 we added. I’m sure there is a simple way to calculate those angles and cut them but we had a heck of a time and ended up just experimenting until we got some angles that worked. It was pretty amusing! Jason hung the gate with three hinges while I was inside with Ali so I didn’t get a picture of that process. How he did that himself, I have no idea!

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

He quickly stained the fence using deck stainer and sealer while Ali and I were having a snack. Just before dark, it was finished. Time to go out for dinner!

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

A couple days later, I took some finished pictures.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

A hook and eye (attached to the house) hold the gate open.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

A hinge door stopper (the same kind we used inside) keeps the gate from hitting the side of the house.

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

DIY: Modern Wood Fence and Gate (Courtyard Edition) - myMCMlife.com

I love how the fence and gate make our courtyard feel so cozy and private. We can sit out here with the toddler and the dog and not have to worry about either wandering out toward the street. This is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots for lunch alfresco, afternoon tea, blowing bubbles for Ali, and evening chats. It’s going to be even more wonderful once the landscaping matures.

All of my posts related to “modern wood fence”

Modern Wood Fence —Finished! (at our previous house)

Enclosed Courtyard (intro to this post, including some before pictures.)


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