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Hidden Burritos & Poly

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving.  It began in a very non-traditional way.  Usually we have a delicious breakfast and relaxing morning.  This year we moved our table outside into the yard and every other object out of the two downstairs rooms.  It’s been on the list to refinish the floors for a very long time, and the time worked out to begin.

Thankfully we were able to enjoy some family time at Matt’s brother’s house that evening.  2017-11-23 16.05.37-2

The rest of the week has been spent sanding, staining, and polyurethane the living room and dining room floors.  It’s been a puzzle, figuring out the timing of when to be home and when to be out. One morning, the oldest two went to school and Matthew finished the second coat of poly, while I stayed upstairs with the short crowd.  We didn’t have a ton of food, because I didn’t think it through very well, but we survived until the floor was dry enough for us to venture downstairs and leave the house.2017-11-26 19.58.26

Every Thursday the street cleaners clean our side of the street where we live, and we have to move our van from 10-noon.  I remember getting a ticket when I was 9 months pregnant with Betty.  Matthew was in Haiti, and I drove my pregnant self over to the police station to beg forgiveness, because we were that broke, and twenty bucks was almost at tank of gas.  Ever since then, I’ve been pretty vigilant about Thursdays.

Today, as I moved the van to the other side of the street, I glanced down to see an eighth of a burrito in a piece of foil on the floor of the van.  I grabbed it and went to the bathroom to get my shower.  I’m sure no one else has pulled this trick.  I hunkered down in the bathroom to “take a shower”, when in reality I just sat on the footstool with the five bites of burrito.  It was delicious, by the way.  Reminiscent of my hurried date with Matthew the day before, when I delivered a tool to him at work and brought him a better-than-chipotle-salad from our favorite Mexican joint.

I finally did shower, and by the time I was finished, Harry was awake.  This is kind of when things started spiraling rather quickly.  It might have been the clean laundry spilling onto the floor from the overflowing baskets (who’s idea is it to do laundry during a renovation??) or maybe the cans of polyurethane, or the broom handles, crumbs, coats, and papers which all acted like they had magnets built into them… the floor being their greatest attraction.  There was probably one more question asked, one more whine, voicing what was welling up inside my own spirit all day long.  I don’t even remember.  But I yelled: “Mommy needs a timeout!” and ran to my room.  After throwing some of the aforementioned clean towels around, I sat down and started to fold them.  I cried and complained about living in such chaos.  Then a quiet little knock on my door.  A kiss from Jack.  A smile from Harry.  A note from Betty.  A freshly baked cookie from Elsie.  Tears were dried, apologies were spoken, forgiveness was given.  We set out for a coffee shop to soothe the cabin fever which felt smothering to us all.  Because acknowledging the problem is ok and helpful.  But staying there is not.  2017-11-30 13.09.29

We’re all definitely ready to get the piano out of the kitchen (sounds cute, I know, but definitely not practical for our house, unless it doubles up as a bar stool for the island).  We’re ready to sit down together at the table again.  To have our couch back inside and not go to bed with the smell of fresh poly wafting up the stairs.  Will all this chaos and mess be worth it?  Absolutely!  If I’ve been reminded of one thing, it’s been this: every difficult thing we go through produces something beautiful.  If we let it. Some of the most beautiful things we enjoy have been forged through fire, heat, friction, water, repetition, monotony, blood, sweat, tears, and time.  And if I may add: sandpaper and polyurethane.

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School Room Makeover

It’s been about a year since I gave a little tour of the downstairs of our home.  The past month has been full of much rearranging, as we attempt to utilize our space in the best possible way.  I’ve been waiting to post pictures when it was “perfect”.  Then it hit me how this will never happen, so it was time to just take pictures.  The biggest change is that we switched the living room and school room around.  As you walk in, you are greeted into our cheery school room:
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Each child has a locker, and we also store coloring books, craft items, and other untouchables (like tape!) in the top lockers.  I recently scored an amazing deal on Craigslist which included six IKEA expedit shelving units for the price of one!  The shelves under our chalk board contain all our schoolbooks and readers, divided by subject into each square.  The shelf as you walk in to the schoolroom contains space enough for everyone to have one bin for their shoes.  The flip side has squares and bins for my school books, clipboards, portfolios, and a few other things.  Each person has a filing cabinet with six drawers, divided into categories by school subject.

Here is a blurry wide-angle view, as my wide-angle lens is not a precise fit.
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Moving on to the living room… it is a tight squeeze to get a good picture.
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Through the living room, is the kitchen.  Earlier this month I woke up one morning and decided to paint our kitchen!  There was a new can of paint (bought for Nadine’s dresser makeover), and all the kids were sleeping.  What is a girl to do?  So, a quick makeover was in order.  It is super happy now.  We added a book shelf to store some larger items we use often but would love to not be on the counter-top.  Nadine painted the mirror and everyone helped to spray paint the chairs.  Matthew was pretty surprised when he got home that day!
My favorite decoration is my “new” vintage hanging scale.  Eventually we will move it in front of the window so it’s a bit easier for everyone to pull fruit from its base.  But for now there was already a hook in the ceiling in the corner.
Up next: a tour of the upstairs!  We now have an office and sewing room, thanks to Nadine giving up her personal space and sharing with her sisters.  It is still in the organizing stage, so I will post pictures when it is finished.  Hope you can stop by sometime!

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A Happy Time

I don’t recall what we were about to do or where we were going to prompt Elsie to say it, but she made me chuckle with this:  I’m going to have a happy time, even if it’s boring!   Now that summer is in full swing, the words “I’m bored” are about as allowed as some other unmentionable words in the urban dictionary.  When they are uttered, a math lesson is swiftly pulled up on the computer, or perhaps the boredom quickly fades as they don a pair of goggles, pull out monopoly, shoot a home-made movie, or delve into the many library books I keep constantly in flow.  DSC_2041

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This week was so full I feel like I’m bursting a little bit.

Any week where we can be altogether for six days in a row is going to be good.  Unfortunately, every kid had a fever sprinkled into the entire week at some point in time.  Thankfully, no throwing up, but a lot of laying low.  Matthew finished my laundry room window, fixed this and that, hung this, moved that… basically filled up my love tank with acts of service mingled with quality time.  I worked on various projects: crocheting a rug out of old sheets, making some chalkboards, beautifying our front porch, and organizing our school room a bit more.
Next, our dear friends, Ruthie & Jamie, arrived from Ohio to share our vacation time with us.  We enjoyed the front porch, got wet, went to a water/amusement park, and laughed a lot.  One night I even had the privilege of being a doula with an incredibly special couple and their precious baby girl.
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The kids found a turtle and named it Road Runner after they rescued it from trying to cross the street.
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While at the park, I learned how much Betty loves roller-coasters.  If she was a bit taller, she would have gone on everything, but she was content to do the roller coaster her size.  Her smiling face as she swooped down the hill of the coaster was absolutely priceless.  Falling from 148 feet with Jack and Nadine was also a highlight.  I’ve learned that I’m a bit more scared than I used to be of heights in general.  Phone Photos11
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Nadine came down for her breakfast today and was asking me how Matthew made her bagel.  Do you know how Daddy made that bagel yesterday?  Because it was amazing.  It was because there was a hint of Daddy in it.  I know he used butter…  When I asked her how it tasted after she made it, she said,  It wasn’t even close.  Sometimes she takes my breath away.DSC_2462-2 DSC_2460-2
One of my painting projects was a “new” dresser.  I got the dresser for $10 at a yard sale and surprised Nadine with it.

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As all the fevers floated around, I overheard this funny conversation between Elsie and Betty:
I have a headache, said Elsie.
Where? asked Betty.
Right here in my head! said Elsie with a mixture of exasperation and amusement.

When Elsie struck up this conversation with Betty she was just stating a fact, which apparently was missing a very important detail in Betty’s little mind: You were sick, she stated.
No I wasn’t!
You you were!
I were last night!  Of course.  Last night.  She likes to be precise.

Betty is learning her numbers, and I couldn’t help chuckling when she got to twenty-nine and said: Two=dy nine!
As June turns the page into July, there is more fun in store!  Summer is such a happy time!

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Going to Space & Down Here on Earth

The past two weeks have been so full of life and surprises and furniture renewal.  Matthew bought me a new chair for my birthday.  As I sunk down into its beautiful grey comfort, I stared at my dresser.  Ugly couldn’t describe it fully.

So, in typical head-long fashion, I set off to remedy this problem.  I’ve been stung by many a bee in my bonnet.  The finished product:DSC_0706
Five birds flying from the nest, represent our five kiddos, with Matthew and I sticking together for life.  The tree has our initials carved in it, reminiscent of the tree at our old house where I carved our initials, about four years before we were even married.
Soon I will post pictures of how I didn’t stop at just the dresser, because once I saw how clean and new it looked, I thought the walls needed a face-lift as well.  This turned into a full-fledged makeover, which in turn led to another purging throughout the house.  Life multiplies in so many ways.

Our girls are growing up so quickly.
Last weekend our family went rock-climbing.  The last time we went, those little feet belonging to the orange shoes were inside my belly!
This time, they scaled the walls!
A couple of weeks ago we had a medieval feast with some friends from school.  We are finishing up studying medieval times in history.  So we ate chicken and potatoes off of our trenchers, and drank sparkling grape juice out of our goblets.  Wooden bowls, no utensils (except spoons) and costumes made our feast super memorable.
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Other fun school activities included going to the Franklin Institute last week.  Our friend did a great job demonstrating an astronaut’s suit on a budget:
Elsie was chosen to shoot off a bottle rocket.  Her little self was so cute up there on the stage.
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We had an amazing surprise that afternoon after our field trip.  More on that later.  Someone needs yogurt.  “Seriously, Mom,” she says to me.  (She’s three.)  “Just a little bit?”

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Loads Of Fun: Laundry Room Makeover

It all started back in April.  I asked for a bigger laundry room, and my smiling husband began the “weekend” project of extending the laundry room and shrinking the powder room.  It has taken… well, a few weekends.  It is finished, minus a new window which is on its way, and a touch-up here and there.  The powder room only has a few more pieces of moulding and a paint job before it is finished.  Here is a look at the before and after pictures.

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The shelves are from Ikea.  The baskets are from Target.  The moringa tree is from Haiti.  The floor was free from a job Matt did almost 8 years ago.  It has moved with us and finally found a nice home in the bathroom and laundry room.  There were only five extra tiles left over.  How is that for perfect fit?  The trim work was done by Weldon Carpentry.  The wall paint was free-cycled and turned out to be the perfect shade.

Each of the four youngest children have five baskets.  From Left to Right they hold: 1-Snowsuits/hats/gloves in winter, swimsuits and towels in summer.  2-Sweaters/sweatshirts.  3-Shirts.  4-Pants/shorts.  5-PJ’s, underwear, and socks.  The top five shelves hold my rag basket, vacuum bags, Matthew’s running clothes and gear, gardening gloves and seeds, and tablecloths.


I am so very thankful for a laundry room and am thrilled to keep our family clean and clothed!