Monday, April 30, 2012

Chloe's Room

This is what we’ve been working on for the past year and a half.  Projects don’t generally progress quickly around here, but this was getting ridiculous.  Adding a full second storey to our house took less time than re-decorating this room.  The upside to a very slow, gradual re-do is that it’s exciting every time any progress is made, so it stretches out the novelty.  The downside, however, is there’s no sudden wow moment.  By this point, it’s mostly whew! instead of wow!   I’ll stop talking and let the pictures do the talking (you should be able to click on each photo to enlarge).  And after that I’ll talk some more for anyone interested in a step-by-step recap.  If you’re not, I won’t be hurt if you go watch YouTube videos or something.

There are still a few areas that need a bit of work (above).  Shannon could do a much better job of making these shelves look pretty and less cluttered, and there is a cord situation that needs streamlining.  At some point in the future, I'd also like to replace the computer desk with a piece of laminate counter top so it looks more built-in.

Another thing I'm not sure about is whether to hang the mirror on the wall or leave it leaning against the wall.  It's partially blocking a vent, so it probably would be better to put it on the wall, but I kind of like it like this.  Any opinions on that? 

As for the Justin Bieber poster, I would have had an easier time convincing her she didn't need a bed.  So he stays. Luckily he fits into the colour scheme.

Chloe wanted a big picture of Paris on the wall above her bed, but we couldn’t find one we liked.  So, thanks to a Pinterest inspiration, I decided to do a frame collage.  I used frames I already had and bought one at Liquidation World and the rest at Dollarama and thrift stores.  For the photos, I used several that my sister took last summer in Europe, the quotes I did myself, and the rest I got off the internet. I could have played around with arranging the photos forever, but I eventually let it go and I’m happy with the result.  I would have liked to have hung them lower, but Chloe often sits on the bed with her back against the wall, so they had to be above head-level.  For the quotes, I wanted to use good moral messages that would be drilled into her like Children Obey Your Parents, etc., but I resisted.  The elephant quote is in honour of her love for elephants.  I did make a print of a quote for her bulletin board that I'm hoping sinks into her subconscious.

My friend Kristin gave me the mirrored tray below.  It fits in perfectly, and a great place to capture Chloe's dresser clutter.  I am planning to hang a jewellery organizer inside Chloe's closet door and de-clutter this situation.  I was hoping to hang just a couple of pretty necklaces on this one and put it on one of the white shelves by her desk, but it's just a bit too tall to fit.

And here's a little more Justin ... the first thing she sees in the morning and the last thing she sees at night.  Help.

And here's another look at the finished product.

To further bore you, let me boast about how (relatively) little this project cost. Doing this over time ... lots of time ... brought the cost way down.  I took my time and shopped around, bought things at thrift stores, and used things we already had.  I originally really wanted to buy her a new bed, but we ended up using her old one.  Dale took off the headboard and footboard and built a platform, and I bought new handles and painted it. The things we did buy were:

Mirror:  $79
Bookshelf (she had one already): $50 (that’s an estimate; we bought it a while ago so I don't remember)
Chandelier:  $60 (bought this for Chloe for Christmas two Christmases ago)
Clock:  $30 (also a Christmas present)
Curtains: $30
Curtains for around bed: $30
Paint: $60
Lamp: $20
Picture frames: $20
Printing the photos: $17 (could have been $7 if I had done it at Superstore, but I like the quality of Blacks)
Bulletin board:  $20
The C on her door:  $3
The purple baskets:  $30
Handles, hooks, closet door knobs:  $20
Pillows/pillow covers:  $20

As mentioned, I don't remember the exact prices of some things since they were bought so long ago, and I'm sure I've probably missed a few things, but the total is less than $500.  That may not sound particularly cheap, but spread that out over 18 months and it comes to $27 a month.  Furthermore, the bed I really wanted to buy was $449, not counting mattresses or shipping.  So I feel like we did okay.

And that ends that chapter of my life.  Except for the little things I still need to take care of.  It's a long chapter.  But so Worth It.  Chloe loves it and I can only hope she'll demonstrate that love by keeping her room clean.  Right, Chloe?  Right?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Photo of the Day #27

We went to my niece Lexie's first birthday party today.  She is such a sweet little person.  She's as cute as a button too, just like her big sister.  She's easygoing and content, especially when there are things to climb.  When I looked after her and her sister for a few hours on Friday, she climbed up onto the kids table in the playroom, using a chair as a step.  And she's drawn to the stairs like they're a magnetic force that she can't resist.  Although it doesn't look like she's trying very hard to resist.  

This above pic is not in proper focus, but you can see the awesome cake my niece Bailey made.  Lexie seemed impressed.

I love this picture of Chloe and my nephew and nieces and my cousin's daughter.  Those kids have a lot of fun together and I feel so lucky to have family that makes our lives fuller and happier.  Thanks for the great party, Jim & Sabrina & Bella.  And happy birthday, Lexie - we love you!

(Good progress in Chloe's room this weekend.  Now I just need her to tidy it up and pictures will be posted tomorrow.)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sorry for the absence ... I saw a few good "letter" opportunities the past couple of days, but I didn't have my camera with me. 

Dale and I went to a movie tonight and when we got back, Chloe and Spencer were eating popcorn and playing Life.  Neve was tucked in bed, fast asleep.  It's a good life.  Actually it was a really good day.  We had company last night so the house was cleaner than usual, and after fencing and gymnastics were over, there was nothing on the schedule.  My goals this weekend were to paint Chloe's bed (done) and get some pictures on her wall.  I spray-painted some picture frames, chose, ordered, and picked up some prints, and have arranged the frames like I want them.  (I think.  I've rearranged them fifty times and eventually just had to walk away.  I know when I see them tomorrow, I'll want to make some changes again.  I'm so not a perfectionist, but I don't want it to bug me every time I see them.) Now I just have to hammer in some nails and hang them up.  The only glitch is that some of the frames don't have hooks on them, so I have to deal with that first.  But I believe I'll be on schedule to do the reveal by Monday at the latest.  Can't wait to be done.  And then I'll start my bedroom.

It was great to work on those projects without anything else pressing.  Neve was at a friend's all afternoon, so the interruptions were few.  That girl can talk and talk and talk.  Sometimes if I'm busy with something I zone out, but I'm very sorry when that happens because then our conversations go like this.

Neve:  Mom, did you even hear what I said?

Me:  Yes.

Neve:  What did I say?

Me:  You said _______ (I'm usually right because she repeats herself so it gets burned into my subconscious.)

Neve:  Well you didn't say 'mmm-hmmm' so I didn't know if you were listening.

Me:  (nothing, because I don't feel an answer is necessary)

Neve:  Mom!

Me:  What?

Neve:  Are you listening?

And the cycle continues until one or both of us is crying.

So it was a nice, relaxed yet productive afternoon.  We made sushi for dinner and since my goals were pretty much accomplished, Dale and I went to a movie.  In honour of our anniversary tomorrow (just telling you so you have all day tomorrow to send your greetings), we saw The Five Year Engagement even though ours was a Four Month Engagement.  Having a spontaneous night out is something I always imagined we'd do once we had babysitter-aged children, but it doesn't happen very often.  I guess that makes it more special when it does happen.  It was a beautiful evening so we walked to the theatre.  We've been trying to go for a 20-minute walk every night once the kids are in bed, so it was perfect.  Hope you had a great Saturday too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Photo of the Day #23

It's a sneak peek of Chloe's room.  The C is on the outside of her half-open door.  We have made much progress in her room; there's two more projects I want to finish (maybe this weekend?) before the big reveal.  This week we've been working on cleaning out drawers so it's easier to put clothes away and keep the room cleaner.  We've taken out piles and piles of clothes and stuff from her room, and there is still much more to come.

Photo of the Day #22

Last week I mentioned my neighbour boy breaking his arm on our trampoline.  At this time, I'd like to again stress that he was not actually jumping on the trampoline at the time, but climbing down from it.  Save your trampoline hate-mail for the next injury.  (I'm pretending I'm a famous blogger who actually gets hate-mail.)

The boy continues to handle the broken arm situation as well as he did when it first happened.   It's his right arm, so it's got to be frustrating sometimes, but he literally never complains about the cast; in fact, he doesn't even mention it.  He just carries on like normal.  He is one tough kid.

In keeping with this week's theme, here are some of the words in a thank you note our neighbours gave us (what - don't you get thank you notes and a big box of Cookies by George from parents whose children have broken a bone on your recreational equipment?  If there was a Who Has the Best Neighbours Ever contest, we would surely win.). 

I laughed so hard when I read this; obviously his fall, trip to the hospital, having surgery to get pins put in his elbow to attach a piece of bone that chipped off, follow-up doctor visits, and all that results of it (like missing out on the hockey program he had just started) has caused no hard feelings towards the trampoline. Or us.  We love you too, Reid!

Speaking of funny boys, Spencer is often concerned with Neve's TV watching.  He strongly believes she should only be allowed to watch TreeHouse and Phineus & Ferb because he thinks some of the shows she watches on Family Channel are reflected in her attitude.  He has a valid point, but it's difficult to enforce when he and Chloe are watching these shows in front of Neve.  I believe he'd like me to provide alternate entertainment for her during this time by doing a craft with her or something, but this is usually during witching hour, so I'll take attitude over fingerpainting.  I'm getting off topic; I was just trying to show that Spencer puts much thought into monitoring TV watching.  On the way home from school today, he said, in all seriousness, "I think I've been watching too much Storage Wars.  I auctioned off my cookie at lunch today."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Photo of the Day #21

My theme this week was going to be "signs of spring."  But then I looked at Dan's blog and saw things we can only dream about in this part of the country.  My "signs of spring" would look like Vancouver's "signs of the winter when the mountains disappeared."  I thought of all the damage that could do to my Move Back to Winnipeg, Siobhan campaign so I had to abandon that theme.

But since I had already taken this picture towards the end of today's daylight hours, I had nothing else to offer.  It's not very obvious, but the connection to spring was supposed to be kids playing outside ... Neve arranging skipping ropes into a distress signal (the Titanic obsession is still in full swing over here), etc..  I needed a new theme that could still apply to this photo.  Therefore, this week's theme is .... Letters.  Sorry, the creativity is not exactly dripping from my veins.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Photo of the Day #20

We went to see Titanic 3D today.  No one else did. 

They ran the movie just for Darla, Madeline, Chloe and I.

Now if only the ship hadn't sunk this time and Jack and Rose could have lived happily ever after.

(Blogger has changed; I don't know how to make my pictures bigger.  Does anyone know?)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Photo of the Day #19

Either no one has missed my absence the last two days, or everyone is too kind to pester me.  I'll assume it's the latter and that all of you have a giant hole in your lives from my lack of posting.  I'm sure some of you were worried sick about me but were too polite to call or email.  You can exhale now; I'm fine, just had a couple of full days and no time to post.  On the flip side, I should probably be worried about my regular commenters; maybe some ill has befallen them and they assume I'll notice that they're not around.  I hope no one's lying at the bottom of their basement stairs unable to get up or accidentally locked in a closet where no one can hear their cries for help.  Well, I know Sheri-Lee is fine because she just celebrated her birthday, and I saw on Facebook that Siobhan has an excess of open wine bottles, so that's probably her excuse.  Everyone else:  if you don't comment on this post, I'll send a search party. 

Anyway, these pictures were actually taken yesterday at my parents.  The kids had no school, so we spent the afternoon over there.  It was a lovely day and the kids ran around outside most of the time, driving tractors and the re-vamped tillacter, jumping on the trampoline, and playing on the zip line.  The bonus pictures below are from the car graveyard at the back of their yard.

This picture is from a pickup truck that's not as old as the others - I remember my Uncle Jake driving it.  Old vehicles always make me kind of sad.  I think of how excited someone must have been to buy it, when it smelled new and was all clean and fresh and how proud they must have been to drive it off the lot and to show it off.  That's why we never get new vehicles; I don't want to hurt our existing vehicles' feelings.  Well that, and we hate car shopping.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Photo of the Day #18

The moppity hair is gone, or at least some of it.  I know some of you liked it (I even passed on your compliments), but it was time. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Photo of the Day #17

This is the beat-up piano I learned to play on. We have it at our house now, and Chloe's been taking lessons for a few years. She loves it even less than I did and practices only when threatened. She and I have decided that after this year, her lesson money will be put to better use. Like maybe towards lessons for Spencer. I haven't broken the news to him yet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Photo of the Day #16

My theme this week is Black & White. I know it's another very broad theme, but that makes it easier for me to snap a photo at the end of the day when I'm tired and uncreative. Today's picture is a combination of last week's Close Up and B&W. Maybe I'll just add themes instead of changing them. Next week: B&W Close Up Faces. The following week: B&W Close Up Faces that are smiling. Nah, that's getting way too specific. Where am I going to find people smiling at 10:05 p.m.

Besides being an easily photographable object, the clock in today's picture represents the end of my day. Approximately eighty percent of my daily expectations are unrealistic. Somehow I always think I can squeeze in house cleaning, errands, laundry, painting projects and blogging on top of a full day of work. The fact that I never accomplish everything I want to does not deter me from setting those goals again the following day. And every day, at some point, I think "when I get everything done, I'm going to climb into bed early and read my book about the lives of Titanic survivors." That never happens. Even when I do finish most of my to-do list, there are always the unforeseen child-related time-eaters. For example, I spent well over an hour installing Minecraft for Spencer tonight. I don't think it should have taken that long, but our computer has a Linux operating system that was making everything complicated. I read a lot of tutorials and watched many YouTube how-to videos; it drives me crazy when I can't figure something like that out, but my persistence was eventually rewarded. At least if you call having Spencer addicted to yet another video game rewarding. He was sleeping by the time I finished, so he'll be pretty happy tomorrow - that's kind of rewarding. Plus while I was all stressed out working on it, he told me the next time he went to 7-11 he was going to buy me something. "But nothing too big," he said. I'm hoping that he'll love the game so much that his love for me will overflow and he'll decide to buy me something big after all, hopefully from the gift card section. It was actually a lucrative parenting day: when Neve came home for lunch, she ran upstairs and after a while she came down and said, "I want to give you this because you're so nice to me." It was a loonie and three quarters. I'm not sure what warranted that gesture, but she was very excited to give it to me. I'm going to spend it quickly because sometimes she asks for her gifts back.

Back to the clock. I'm going to try very hard to make more realistic goals for myself so that I don't feel defeated and discouraged every night at how little I accomplished. I'm going to focus on a couple of important things (the blog being one of them, of course) and learn to let other stuff go. I also want to re-train myself to not feel guilty for reading or relaxing when there is work to be done. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Photo of the Day #15

Another day, another party. Actually I'm not calling today's get-together a party. It sounds wrong, so instead I'm calling it a remembrance of the Titanic. Some family came over tonight and we had food, a Titanic cake that mirrored reality and fell apart before it was supposed to, a Titanic quiz, a Titanic documentary, and worked on a Titanic jigsaw puzzle. Oh, and we had Titanic ice cubes in our drinks. Probably borderline poor taste, but the Titanic is something I've always been fascinated with and wanted to mark the 100th anniversary.

Spencer paid his respects with the Lego creation above.

Photo of the Day #14

We had Spencer's birthday party at Mordens Chocolate today. Chloe had her 10th birthday party there and it was the best party we've ever done. I couldn't wait for Spencer's party because I knew it was going to be awesome, but then I started worrying that time may have made the memory of Chloe's party more rosy than it really was. I was also concerned that this might not be so perfect for a group of hyper boys, but I needn't have worried about anything. It's such a great place for a party. They give every kid a tub of chocolate and a tray of marshmallows, pretzels, chips, m&m's, gummy candy, etc. and let them go wild with creating whatever they can think of.

Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun and I heard a couple of kids say it was the best party ever. That's what it's all about - outdoing all the other parties. My work here is done.

Right after the party, Chloe, Neve & I zipped off to a wedding shower for a close co-worker's daughter. It was lovely and the girls got to make the shower hat with the bows and ribbons, so they had a lot of fun with that.

Tonight the neighbour kids were over playing on the trampoline with their cousin who was babysitting them, and Reid, our four-year-old neighbour boy, fell off and broke his arm. I was inside when it happened, but I heard crying and went to check what happened. I took one look at him and took him to the hospital. It was one of those situations where you don't need an x-ray to know it's broken. Reid did so awesome; he stopped crying almost right away and was such a trooper. The triage nurses also just had to take one look before they put a little brace on it and put it in a sling. He didn't cry at all; the only thing he asked me was, "Do I have to get stitches?" I was relieved I could assure him no stitches would be required, but a little concerned about what lay ahead. I left when his parents got to the hospital shortly afterward, but Karen texted me later to tell me his arm had been casted and they have to go back tomorrow for surgery. Poor guy - I feel so bad it happened here, but the one thing that makes me feel a little better was that it didn't happen while the kids were jumping. There was no one jumping at the time; the kids were about to head home and two of the kids had already gotten off, and Reid and Spencer were climbing off as well when Reid slipped and fell off and landed on his elbow.

So that was our day.

PS: One hundred years ago at this moment, the Titanic was going down...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Photo of the Day #13

We had a fun night with Mike & Darla tonight; I totally meant to take a picture when they were over, but I completely forgot. Instead, you get my freckle-faced gap-toothed girl with a rash under her lower lip. Neve still sucks on her two fingers when she falls asleep at night ... I see braces in our future.

I volunteered in her class at lunch today and when I saw her whole face light up when I walked into her classroom... that's when I knew nine months of pregnancy, many months of interrupted sleep, countless tantrums, the Why stage, the I-do-it-self stage, anxiety issues, etc., etc. ... SO Worth It. I'm as crazy about that girl as she is about me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Photo of the Day #12

A bag of pennies for the penny drive at Neve's school. Not a particularly moving shot, but I've been playing around with different settings and even used my tripod for this (the lighting was poor), so I already declare this month a success. But I will plow on. Just like the Titanic did despite the iceberg warnings. Exactly one hundred years ago at this time, it was happily crossing the Atlantic Ocean. That has nothing to do with the pennies; just a little conversation starter for you. I'm fascinated with the Titanic, so you will probably hear more about it in the upcoming days.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Photo of the Day #11

I've been in a nesting mode the past few days. I'm still working on getting Chloe's room all re-done, which has been an ongoing project since November 2010. I'm not even joking. This week I put up her chalkboard poster (in the photo), bought and put up a bulletin board, bought new curtains for around her bed and put them up, except the hook in the ceiling fell out and now I have to buy better hooks. I also bought storage baskets, knobs for her closet doors, an extension cord, and pillow covers to freshen up some old pillows.

While I was trying to figure out what to do for a night stand for her, I decided to give her the lone night stand in my bedroom, and I bought matching ones for me and Dale off Kijiji. Furniture is low on my priority list, so we've never had any matching bedroom furniture whatsoever. I almost feel like a grown-up now. Luckily we are still using a few wooden crates as a TV stand, so that brings me down a few decades. Dale has his mind set on a small(ish) flat screen; TVs rank even lower than furniture on my list, but I would actually be quite happy to have an additional 50 square feet of floor space with that monster of a TV gone. Our bedroom has been the most neglected room in the house ... well maybe that award goes to the basement bathroom. But now I'm getting all motivated to pretty up our room. If I ever finish Chloe's room, I'm on it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Photo of the Day #10

I found this guy the other day in my laundry room. It's an old ceramic creamer (I think) in the shape of a Japanese man's head and I have warm feelings towards him. It's from my parents' house and I always remember it sitting on the windowsill in the room my sister and I shared, used as a little flowerpot. I'm not sure what tiny plant he was growing; probably a baby spider plant. We always had spider plants in our room, including one in a macrame hanger that Janet made at camp. Anyway, I didn't even remember that I acquired this little Japanese friend, so I was pretty excited to find him. Now he's on my kitchen windowsill and I'm debating planting grass in his head so that he'll look like a Chia pet.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Photo of the Day #9

I've decided to choose a different theme each week. This week's theme is Close-Ups. I know that's still kind of general, but I've eaten so much chocolate the last two days, I can't think very well. I should take a picture of my growing belly every day as motivation to put down the chocolate bunny, but that wouldn't be fun for anyone (neither the pictures nor putting down the bunny).

Today's picture is Neve doing her home reading. Any guesses what book it is?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Photo of the Day #8

Happy Easter! Church ... chocolate ... children ... chillin' ... chips. Also laundry and dying Easter eggs and a nice visit with friends to end the weekend in as nice a way as possible.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Photo of the Day #7

I have done poorly at narrowing it down to just one photo so far. I took about 150 pictures today at my parents, so really I did okay by not choosing more.

Every year, my mom makes the kids little Easter baskets of grass (actually wheat), and every year we take pictures of them all. No matter how many pictures are taken, there is never a perfect one with everyone looking at the camera. I love the chaos and happiness of the whole situation and I feel so lucky to have family to share it with. Our close family friends/siblings, Maurizio & Patricia, came from Edmonton with their little boy Luca, which was so awesome. Luca is hilarious and fit right in with all the other kids (and adults!).

We got together with Dale's family yesterday which was also a lot of fun, and tomorrow we have a lovely wide-open day at home. Hope you are all having a happy Easter weekend.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Photo of the Day #6

We went to the circus exhibit at the Manitoba Museum this morning. It was our last chance since the exhibit ends on Sunday, and I'm glad we went. We had the place basically to ourselves, so the kids could do the tightrope and the acrobat-bungee (giant jolly jumper) thing right away.

When we got there, Chloe suddenly realized the dress she was wearing was not optimum for tightrope walking and flipping upside down. So her and I went to the bathroom where she put on my jeans (for some strange reason, she happened to have a hoodie in her purse) and I wore her dress. She asked the front desk for a safety pin to tighten the waist of the jeans, and she was good to go. I was stuck in a cute, but very short little summer dress.

At the tightrope, we discovered they had shiny red gym shorts available for people in similar wardrobe situations to slip on under their dress. Since there was no lineup, I decided to try the tightrope as well, so I slipped on the shorts rather than change back into my jeans. That was an unpleasant sight - me in a short dress with bright red shorts, with a harness strapped all around me. The shorts were small, so when I took them off after, I had to be very careful to pull down only the shorts and not my underwear. It was all very awkward, but very fun and Worth It.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Photo of the Day #5

Spencer taking a break on a beautiful evening. The trampoline has been so awesome for getting the kids outside and active.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Photo of the Day #4

It was a gorgeous day in Winnipeg today. I was thinking if only Siobhan lived here, I would go to her yoga class and then buy her a treat at Starbucks. We'd sit and talk and laugh for hours, then we'd go to my house where I would bake her chocolate chip cookies before heading to the Irish Centre for a pint.

But alas, she does not live here, so I had lunch with Neve on the front porch and felt the warm sun on my face. After school, the kids biked and played and jumped on the trampoline and after dinner, Chloe and I went for an awesome run. Life is awesome in Winnipeg.

Shannon's got a new series happening on her blog. Every week, she's planning to feature two little cleaning/organizing projects that are quick and easy for others to do too. She's doing a contest too - if you comment on her blog, she'll enter you in a draw for a $25 Homesense gift card.

This week's project involved cleaning up the winter outerwear (scroll down to her second post from the top for Part 1), which is something I very much needed to do. I actually took my 'before' picture in February because that's when I started organizing the top shelf because I was tired of having things fall on my head when I was trying to reach them.

It feels so good and clean and only took about half an hour. I even vacuumed and wiped down the shoe rack and floor. Everyone in the family has space for a couple pairs of shoes by our back entrance, but somehow there are always shoes everywhere, so I put a basket of extra flip flops and sandals in here. Thanks for making our lives happier and less cluttered, Shannon!