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Weekend Update

06/25/2013

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Friday night after the kids were asleep Jason and I started preparing our house for our first party—a house warming party! We’ve been in our new home for 6 months but it took us this long to find a weekend that worked for both of us and to feel like we were settled enough.

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Since court was pretty uneventful on Friday, we had a visit with Buzz’s mom Saturday morning at a newer city park a few miles from us. This is the first time we had had a chance to check out the splash pad. It’s pretty great and it’s totally free. Thank you, Nashville! This is the only picture I took because it was hard to stay dry. Buzz is in the background by Ali’s forehead. He LOVED it! Ali wasn’t so sure.

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I gave the kids early baths on Saturday since I knew they’d be up late at the party. When Buzz saw that I was putting a dress on Ali, he ran to his closet to pick out a nice shirt. I helped find matching shorts and then he picked out the flip flops for both of them. I had my new Pandora station running and they decided to dance together. I took a video to send to Buzz’s mom. I wish you could see the huge grin on his face. It’s very similar to Buzz Lightyear’s grin here:

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This was at the end of the party when just our BFFs were still there. We attempted to get a typical smooch shot of Ali and her buddy Jaron but they were too quick (although there was kissing a-plenty!) It was way past their bedtime and these two were getting so silly, especially Buzz. Again, I wish you could see his huge grin.

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Buzz got into a rare kissing mood…he kissed me, our friend, Jason…and then I suggested he give Ali a kiss. 99% of the time he refuses affection from her. She’ll sneak up behind him to give him a hug and he squeals and tries to get away. This time he gave her a big, long kiss! They really do love each other even though they drive each other (and us) nuts most of the time. Like brother and sister, I guess.

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When I finally crashed into bed, I had to stop to take a photo. This room has been the most neglected design-wise. We finally got new curtains and hung them the day before the house warming party. We had tubs of out-of-season clothes and piles of extra blankets that I finally packed into our closet. (Why didn’t I do that months ago?!) It looks so much more clean and relaxing now. I’ll be posting some more about this room as it progresses. We picked out new bedding but haven’t purchased it yet. After that, we’ll be working on night stands, lamps, an accent wall, and artwork.

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Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids

03/07/2013

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

We really loved our last house but sold it so we’d have room for our family to grow. Specifically, we wanted to have more bedrooms so we could continue to provide a home for children in foster care. At our previous home, I designed a room that could suit one or two kids ages birth to five years old, male or female. It was a big challenge, especially with a small room. This room is targeted toward 2-12 year olds in my mind, though we’re keeping an open mind about ages at this point. It felt much easier this time around, I suppose because we already had the super versatile IKEA KURA bed (which can be flipped over to be a low loft bunk bed) and I’m not set on putting a crib and dresser in here…yet. (We do need to add a dresser ASAP, we found out last week.) Other than the bed and bedding, the woodland creatures curtain was the only other element we started with from the previous house.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I chose the green wall color based on the curtain. Also, green is supposed to be soothing and it’s one of my favorites. I read somewhere that mirrors are good for self esteem for kids. Ali loves looking in the full length mirror in her room so I put one in this room, too. It was less than $10 at Target. See that house reflected in the mirror?

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I found this when we were unpacking. I colored this picture in art class in first or second grade. I pray that our next kids will feel at home in this room and at our home. I added some cuddle buddies to the bed.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I started adding bits and pieces to this room without any kind of theme in mind; just using what we had available. A friend gave us the headphones pillow as a housewarming gift. We had the other 2 pillows already. The rockstar flashcards are the only 4 letters I completed when I started designing the series 4 years ago. Maybe I’ll finish it one day…

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

This old acoustic guitar that was a gift from my parents for my 16th birthday narrowly escaped the trash during the move. (Jason’s guitars are a million times nicer so he doesn’t see this as fit to play. However, I think some tween or teen might love it!) We also have a collection of random, discount pile Hatch Show Print posters that I thought could help fill the walls here.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

There are a few vintage ReAbide items living in here. This Florence side table works for now as a night stand.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

And this Mack arm chair (below). Before we moved in, I ordered a Nashville road map. I thought it might work as a big poster for this room. It’s colorful and free (as an AAA member) and I thought it might be neat for kids to see where our house is in comparison to where they used to live. The rug is from a local IKEA reseller. I think it’s the only thing besides the full length mirror that we purchased for this room.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

I have a pack and play set up in here. I’m hoping it’ll be enough to convince our case worker that we’re equipped to take a child younger than two. Ali still sleeps in her crib and I don’t have much desire to buy and set up a second crib. If we accept a placement of a younger child, we might consider getting another one at that point…or maybe moving her to a big kid bed.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com  Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

The book ledges also came from the previous house. These books (with the exception of Pop Warhol’s Top…which I don’t recommend) these books were are all specifically chosen to be in this room.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

So a really cool thing happened. This room developed a theme without me even realizing it! I suppose it started with the Nashville map, and then the Hatch Show Print posters, and then the guitar. The headphones pillow and the rockstar flashcards followed suit. The theme that developed—which happens to be something that every child who stays in this room, regardless of age or gender will have in common—is Nashville! Music City. Even the woodland curtains and botanical bedding and rug work. We live very close to a huge park so we see squirrels, owls , leaves and lots of trees in our neighborhood.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

It was important to me that I had thoughtful, personal elements worked into the design of this room. I didn’t want it to feel like a guest room. I want it to be a special room because it’s made for a really special kid…a kid we don’t know yet but I want him or her to feel comfortable, loved and wanted from the moment they walk in. I want him or her to know that we’ve been thinking about and praying for him or her before we ever met.

Here’s the floor plan of this room. It’s about 10×12.

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids - myMCMlife.com

If you’re putting together a room for foster kids in your house, here are some things I recommend:

• Flexible sleeping arrangements
We have this room set up with a twin bed and a pack and play. Without much trouble at all we could flip the twin bed into a bunk bed and replace the pack and play with a real crib. Sometimes foster parents put together a really nice room for 5-12 year old kids and then God has a sense of humor and their first placement is a newborn. Flexibility is key for foster parents.

• Adequate Clothing Storage
This is one of our home checklist requirements from DCS. I’m hoping to add a dresser before too long but for now, we have a big closet ready with hangers and hanging storage for smaller items. We also keep extra blankets, pillows and sheets in the closet.

• Books and Toys
Admittedly, we don’t have toys in here but we do have a playroom right down the hall. It’s mainly because of the wide age range this room is open to that I haven’t put many toys in here. The stuffed animals are probably nice for any age kid, though. These books have been carefully selected to be in this room: Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care, I Don’t Have Your Eyes, I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew, The Little Train That Could, The Velveteen Rabbit, and the Sleep Book.

• Nightlight
Some kids won’t want it on but we have it ready just in case. A new room can be scary and dark. The nightlight is enough to make the whole room visible. We also moved Ali’s constellation turtle light in here because she doesn’t use it anymore. It projects stars on the ceiling for 45 minutes before shutting off automatically. We’re also required to have hallways lit and to have flashlights handy. We got this 3-in-1 night light, emergency light (comes on automatically when the power goes out) and flashlight for our first foster parenting experience. It is in our hallway.

• A Place for Photos
The frame on the nightstand that says “Welcome” is actually a placeholder for a personal photo. Thanks for another foster mom’s suggestion, I also added (after taking photos) a bulletin board with pictures of “Who Lives Here” (me, Jason and Ali with names by our photos) and a photo of our first foster placement with her name and hand print. I will add a photo of each new child under either category.

• Curtains without strings or cords
Another requirement for our home safety checklist—not that we have a curtain but that there are no choking hazards dangling from blinds or curtains.

• Rugs secured to the floor
Yeah, I actually stuck this rug to the floor with rug tape. Another item on our home safety checklist.

• Smoke detector
Our list doesn’t require it to be in the child’s bedroom but there is one in there per codes for a new house build.

• Egress window
Also per codes, in order to be considered a bedroom, a room must have a window that can be opened for escape in case of a fire. Our home safety checklist also requires this.


Art for Ali’s room

01/07/2013

I don’t feel like I’m ready to do a “real” photo tour of any rooms in our new house until we have art hung. Is that weird? Ali’s room is the closest to finished. I hung a few more pictures the other day. We still need to get a curtain rod… then I’ll take better photos with my camera! Hahaha… for now, this is how it’s looking with phone photos:

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She loves to look at herself in that full length mirror. She got the owl coat hooks as a housewarming gift from Aunt Jessica and the owl backpack for Christmas from Nana. The alphabet poster below is from Petite Collage. I won it from Design Mom years ago.

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Ali loves monkeys and immediately said, “Ooh ooh ooh!” when she saw this French Paper poster that was a gift from my friend Renata. The needlepoint art was an adoption day gift from Nana. The polka dot blanket on her rocker is a gift from Ali’s great-aunt Janice.

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The flower (below) and the A pillow (above) were adoption day gifts from my co-worker Dawne. The hand-painted burlap name banner is a gift from my high school youth group friend Emily. And you can’t really see it, but the quilt that she sleeps with in her crib was a gift from her great-aunt Linda. Wow! That’s a lot of thoughtful gifts!

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Courtyard: Before, Concept & After

12/31/2012

The week before last, we had a load of 5 tons of gravel delivered to our courtyard. Jason graciously spent most of a Friday spreading about 3.5 tons. (The rest will be used somewhere else.) I was so tired so walking through the mud to get to the lovely paver stone path Jason made up to our front door steps…and mainly tired of Lucy getting her paws muddy. We’re taking our landscaping one step at a time but there are a few big things we wanted to tackle ASAP. The courtyard is a high priority to me because it’s the front entrance, the first impression of our house, and we’re expecting a lot of guests in the first weeks and months in our new house. When I looked at the pictures I took of the courtyard, I realized it came out really, really close to my Photoshop rendering!

Before:

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Rendering:

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After:

myMCMlife.com - courtyard at Christmas 2012

I love how the windows reflect the sky.

We’re going to add a short fence and gate between the corner of the garage and the concrete wall to enclose all 4 sides and make it a true courtyard. Here’s the mock up I sent to our contractor, based on the fence we designed and built for our last house.We ultimately decided to keep this element out of the construction budget. Jason and I will build this, hopefully in January.  The opening is only 12′ across so it’ll be so easy compared to a whole fence. And maybe will inspire us to add some privacy fencing around the backyard later in 2013.

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Instagram House Tour

12/26/2012

I love the Instagram community. It’s got to be my favorite iPhone app. A couple of my MCM followers requested an IG house tour so I’m obliging little by little, as rooms are decent enough to share. Since it might be awhile before I’m ready for any kind of more substantial (finished/decorated) house tour with real camera photos, I figured I’d share them here, too.

Kitchen

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Dining Room

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Master Bathroom

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Living Room

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What I’m now calling my work room (tri-purpose: office, craft, laundry)

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This room is also tri-purpose: Den/Playroom/Guestroom … sort of. It pretty much just looks like a playroom for now. One day it might become a bedroom. I’m trying to confuse you… is it working? Let’s just call this the den:

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Hall bathroom

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Master bedroom (we’re shopping for furniture)

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Jason’s studio

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The future kids room has become kind of a catch-all. It’s the only room we have left to unpack and clean up. Besides hanging art everywhere else and coming up with some storage solutions in my office and the garage, we’re settled!

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Are you all sick of seeing photos of our house yet?


We’re Home!

12/11/2012

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Friday was moving day. It felt so different than when we’ve bought houses in the past…we would close at a title company, get our keys and let ourselves into our new, empty house. This time we’ve been in and out of the house almost daily for the past 6 months while it was constructed. On Friday Jason was cleaning the windows while I moved a few things over from my parents house. Then the last inspector from the city came and we paced around nervously while he walked through the house. Our site supervisor Scott put the last of 4 final inspection approval tags on the kitchen counter as he walked the inspector out. And that was it: we’re allowed to move in! Jason and I looked at the 4 final inspection tags on last time and gave each other a high five. Go time.

We met the movers at our storage unit and spent the rest of the day—the rest of the next several days, really—slinging boxes, moving furniture and unpacking. We are physically exhausted but oh-so-happy to be finally in our new home. I had hoped to sneak over early Friday morning and take final photos of a clean, empty house before we started moving in but it didn’t happen. Why? Because early Friday morning the tile guy, Peanut, was finishing grouting the fireplace and the bathroom; John, the painter, was doing touch-ups and Scott, our site supervisor/problem solver extraordinaire was putting the final touches on our front porch railings. In other words, the house was not clean or empty.

When we arrived back to our house, my mom had set up sloppy joes in her crock pot for us, as well as dropped off a bunch of food to get us through the first couple of days. She’s the best!

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After her afternoon nap, my parents brought Ali down to check out her new room. She hasn’t seen most of this stuff since she was 7 month old…so basically, she’s seeing it all for the first time. Who needs Christmas gifts!

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She was so excited about all the “new” toys that she climbed into her toy box.

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…and assembled:

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The first morning in our new house!

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On Day 2, my sister-in-law Ginger came over to help while my niece Eliza played with Ali. After they left, my parents and Jason’s parents helped us unpack and move more things from my parents’ house all day. It’s so wonderful to have such an awesome family to help us! I was too preoccupied to take many pictures on Saturday but I did snap this one of Ali. Nana (Jason’s mom) was unpacking a box with Ali and found some of my sunglasses…

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Day 3 in our new house: Sunday.

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Ali seems to really like her new room. It’s one of the most complete rooms in the house. All that’s missing are things that hang on the wall: pictures, book ledges, curtain rod, etc.

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Ali also seems to love her playroom (AKA the den) and it’s nice to have 2 rooms in the house that are mostly kid-safe.

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The hall bathroom is for Ali and guests:

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The living room is pretty much a big mess because the two couch pieces of our sectional and an armchair are being used in a home staging project. They’ll be back in a few weeks. I’ve been meaning to write about that. I’ll do that soon…

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Meanwhile, this is our makeshift couch: a pile of old blankets and pillows on the floor. Lucy approves.

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LuLu can be a very anxious dog but she seems to be adjusting really well. To my knowledge she hasn’t peed on anything or had any seizures so that says a lot for her.

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The kitchen is almost mostly complete, however it’s still a big mess because it’s the heart of the house. (Note the tool box and cleaning supplies on the counter, the step ladder in the dining room.)

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I really, really love how the kitcehn came together.

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We’re planning to add a tile backsplash at a later date.

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The coffee and tea bar is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

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After three days of hard work, we decided to use our last bit of energy on Sunday night to set up the TV so we could properly relax. It involved a mount that fixes to the concrete fireplace with a floating shelf below the TV. I’ll tell you about that later. We don’t have cable or internet yet, but we could use the DVD player so we found our box full of Seinfeld DVDs.

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Random: Any Nashvillites interested in a beautiful, big, heavy gold vinyl sleeper sofa? I was planning to use it in the den but it’s too big for that room so we’re selling it. It’s on craigslist for $100. Sold! Thank you to Mark and his wife. I hope you enjoy it!

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Secret Projects and Randomness

11/20/2012

I probably won’t get around to doing a full New Home Update this week because of all that’s going on with Thanksgiving, family visiting and a boat load of graphic design work I need to do this week, but here are a couple of shots of our new wood floors in the great room.

There is still a lot of slippery sawdust on the floors. Ali looked like she was at a skating rink.

I moved/helped move a huge amount of furniture this weekend (no… we’re not moving into our new house for another couple weeks) including this sofa (with hide-a-bed), desk, wall cabinet and a large media cabinet  (not pictured because it’s for my parents) from an estate sale…

And also all this furniture for a secret project that has been in the works for many, many months… Here’s a sneak peek at our first home staging job. Much more about that coming soon… including the official launch of our new business, more photos and hopefully a video tour of this house:

This goober is 16 months old today! I’ve been looking forward to 16 months for a long time because that’s how old Ladybug was when we parented her. Oh, 16 months! I have experience with that age! Of course, the two girls are very different.