Sunday, June 29, 2008

Before and After

The last few weeks have been busy with projects around our home. I thought I'd share a few of the before and after photos of what we've accomplished around here.

The first are of the first haircut I've given Green using clippers (electric buzzing thing, not to be confused with shears, which are scissors). The front looks pretty good, but I did have to go back a few days later and fix some spots in the back. It's a good thing he doesn't mind holding still!

The next pictures are of the fire pit area we've built this year. This is one of those projects that has been in my head for a year and it's great to see it taking shape. We're not quite done, but I'll have to update the "after" photo when we get some gravel. I can't wait to dutch-oven cook and roast marshmallows in the backyard. You are all invited to join us!

The last project, which has been in my head for almost five years, was to give the downstairs bathroom a little makeover. The plan was to do this project while Kent was in Mexico a few weeks ago. His Father's Day present was supposed to be a finished room that he didn't need to help with. Unfortunately...after I removed the toilet from the floor so I could paint behind it, I couldn't find the right new parts to put it back. So Kent came home to a partially painted bathroom with a disconnected toilet. He reconnected the toilet, and the girls and I finished the rest. Now, two weeks after Father's Day, it looks pretty good!

Enjoy the pictures. If the captions don't come on automatically, you can turn them on in the bottom left corner. Following the slide show are some of my thoughts while working.

I've long believed that involving children in work around the house, for big projects as well as for chores, will teach them skills, provide opportunities to talk and strengthen the parent-child relationship, and give them a sense of accomplishment and positive self-worth. That philosophy is fine and dandy, but it is sometimes a struggle for a perfectionist like me--I'm not as bad as I used to be--to actually let the children participate in the real work. But I've tried to do that with these two projects. Though they couldn't physically lay blocks, we let them dig and rake the bed behind the fire pit bench, even at the peril of the sweet peas I planted there in March. Later this summer, I want to build garden boxes for each of them to plant and care for however they desire. Kind of a substitute for a pet! Maybe they can even make a little money selling their flowers or vegetables. With the bathroom, all five of the kids had fun peeling wallpaper, sanding the panel boards, and painting primer. But I had to grit my teeth and get over myself to let them work on the more permanent painting. Fortunately, when it came time to paint, they had mostly lost interest in the project since we were no longer surprising Dad by that point. But they did paint a little and I am very pleased at what a good job they did. I also found out that Purple has a good little interior designer inside her when we were replacing accessories and putting out linens to finish the room.

The other thought I kept having while I wiped paint and caulk on my work clothes is to create a uniform for moms. Painters have it so good! They wear all-white clothing with the knowledge that it is going to splattered by paint. Plus, they can wear their painter's uniform in public for everyone to see the mess that demonstrates their work. I need one of those! As a mom, I am constantly getting smudges from my kids' hands and faces, oil splatters from cooking, bleach spots from cleaning, and grass stains from gardening. Rather than going through three different stain removers trying to remove the evidence of motherhood, I would love to have a stay-home-mom uniform that I could wear in public and proudly show off the canvas of my work. Aprons are too outdated, and house dresses are too ugly. It has to be something cute but also identifiable as the Mom Uniform, not just worn-out clothes. Maybe an all-white shirt-dress. Who is with me?!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Adventure Day!

Every so often, we like to surprise the kids with what we call an Adventure Day. In the past we've seen the sights of Salt Lake City, visited the aquarium in Sandy, and played at the Treehouse Children's Museum in Ogden. Last Saturday we headed to Cascade Springs on the Alpine Loop about an hour from our home.

The freshwater springs were beautiful and clear and tasted like nothing but H2O. The kids had fun "hiking" (on boardwalks) and taking plenty of snack breaks.
To refresh their feet, we let them wade in the stream for awhile. To get home, we took a dirt road shortcut to Midway and decided to just enjoy the drive...for another three hours! We ended up in Kamas and had pizza for dinner.

On our way home (for real), we stopped in Heber City for some frozen treats. While the kids squealed and bugged each other in the car, Kent and I slowly savored some gelatto outside the car. Once they were pleasant to be around again, we drove to Provo and even made a quick stop at McDonald's for five ice cream cones. I love lazy days with my family in Utah's beauty!
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My son the pirate?

We do not have your conventional heat vents in our home. The second year we lived here, I pulled a cat out of the vent that had been running around the duct system looking for a way out. The cat didn't like that hiding spot, but Green sure does.

Since he could walk, he's loved pulling the vents out of the floor and dropping crayons and small toys in. Well now the little pirate is stealing and "burying" bigger treasure. Today one of the covers was off and I saw my potato masher (missing for about six weeks) down there with two knights from our chess set. I realized that I hadn't inspected the vents lately and decided to check some of the others. In one I found my calculator and a large flashlight. In another there were four of his sisters' shoes, five glass checkers, and a handful of beads. None of my girls have ever done this, so I wonder, is this a boy thing? Or is it because he truly believes he is a puppy? I can't wait to see what I recover tomorrow when I check the rest of the vents!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I am in need of your help! When the children are in bed, Kent and I... (this is not going where you might think--go sing a hymn!) ...usually play a game or work out a Sudoku puzzle. I've been working on the following one for almost a week and am stuck. To my credit--since this is my blog, I can give myself credit--I filled in 19 digits pretty quickly, but I can't get the next one. I do have the answer, but I really don't want to look at it until a few of you confirm that it is indeed the printer who messed up the puzzle and not me. (Again, it's my blog...)

I don't usually give up on puzzles so easily, but when I couldn't figure out this one, I began working on a Rubik's Cube in my spare minutes (waiting for the train to pass or for the kids to pick out their library books). I let one of my children, who shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent, have a try at it and she cheated by removing and replacing the stickers until she had one side "completed". I took it as a new challenge to figure out where the stickers should have been, but I must have messed that up because now I can't solve the cube. Not that I ever could before, but now I have a good reason for it!

If you do solve the puzzle, at least pretend like it was difficult for you too. (And then give me a little clue about the ah-ha digit, please.)

Disclaimer: I've just puzzled for 90 minutes about how to get a table from Excel or Word into this blog. I lost that puzzle too! So, here's a very rough version of the Sudoku. (My spreadsheet version is much prettier; wish you could see it.)

_ _ _ | _ 2 _ | _ _ _

4 _ 5 | _ _ _ | _ _ _

_ 3 _ | 4 _ 5 | _ _ 6

_ _ _ | 9 _ _ | 4 _ 2

_ 4 _ | 7 _ _ | _ _ _

6 _ _ | _ _ _ | 9 _ 7

_ 9 1 | _ 3 _ | _ _ 8

_ 6 _ | 1 9 _ | _ 2 5

_ _ _ | 8 5 _ | _ 4 _

Monday, June 9, 2008

My Summer Experiment

In response to all the peer pressure, I have decided to start a blog...on a trial basis only. I hope this will be a good way to journal our family life, to make myself learn a little more about simple programming (Jenni, maybe you can mentor me), and most importantly I hope this will help me keep in touch with my friends and relatives. Maybe it will even take the place of my way-too-outdated scrapbooks. What I don't want this to become is a burden and another "to do" on my long list of chores I dread. So I'm willing to give it a trial run for the summer. If if love capturing all our summer adventures in cyberspace, I'll continue to post. Otherwise, you'll just have to resort to email and real conversations to keep in touch.

Today is the first day of summer break for all my children. I had delusions of a relaxed morning for all of us followed by a little shopping, lunch, and maybe some pleasant time in the evening spent gardening. I even kept the children up late last night with directions to sleep in--and an implied threat that early risers would get to have a head start on their morning jobs instead of watching TV. I've pretty much counted down for two weeks to sleep in this Monday. Too bad I forgot to turn off my internal alarm clock; I woke up at 6:00 a.m. I gave up and got out of bed at 6:30 a.m. Still, the quiet morning time was nice. Of course, reality kicked in at 8:00 a.m. when hungry mouths started making breakfast demands, and from then on, my day was just as hectic as ever. But I spent the day with the kids; we played together and worked a little; Kent and I finished a project in the back yard (pictures to follow eventually); and we all ate ice cream with sugar cones (my favorite) in the evening. The highlight of this first day of summer was the sweet aroma of the Russian olive trees in our neighborhood. My fragrant lilac blooms are just fading out, so it was a treat to have my favorite smell of summer return tonight.

Woohoo! One post is out of the way, and that wasn't even too painful!