Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Living Room Makeover

When we first moved into our new house, the living room drove me batty. The far end of the room has a large brick fireplace. It made the room feel dark. It seemed like it was in a constant standoff with the tv for attention. And most importantly, it was not centered on the wall! Dude. Where's my symmetry?

No matter what I did, I just couldn't get the furniture arrangement to look right. So I did what all people of my generation do when faced with an epic dilemma. I turned to Google. Thus began many nights spent pouring over blogs, forums, and interior design websites. I learned new words like "focal point." I became embroiled in the fascinatingly divisive issue of tv placement over the fireplace versus tv placement not over the fireplace. Turns out this issue is as divisive as how to replace a roll of toilet paper (over or under?!). Basically, for a long, long time, furniture arrangement consumed me. It was the biggest and most pressing problem in my life (first world problems). I would wake up pondering the dauntingly unsolvable puzzle of where to put the couch and fall asleep arranging all my actual and nonexistent furniture in my head.

This is what I had to work with. 


A big pile of ew. The ew was so great, I didn't even know where to begin. My furniture was (obviously) purchased to fit my old house and just didn't seem to work in the new place. At least not in a way that I could envision. Nothing seemed to fit. It was like an absurd and unwinnable game of furniture Tetris. 

My living room in it's awkward, teenage stage:

Hey living room, there's a pimple on your forehead. Oh nevermind. That's just a visually cumbersome couch. 

I was kind of stumped for a while so I decided to let go of furniture placement and do something bold. For several weeks I had played with the idea of white washing that dark brick. So I just went for it! It was scary at first. I mean, when you go white, you go white. You can't dip your toe in and test the waters. You have to put your big girl panties on and straight-up commit. 

I initially tried to white wash the brick using 50% paint and 50% water. I read so many "before and after" blog posts that made the whole process seem so easy. But it was much harder than the pictures showed (or I'm just unusually inept at white washing brick, which could totally be the case. I'll just add it to the list of other important things I cannot do, like roll my "r's," eat anchovies, and say "facetious"). After one coat of white wash, my fireplace just looked....weird. "Hey, I like your fireplace. Is it intentionally blotchy or did a giant seagull have explosive diarrhea in here?" So I ended up doing three coats of the white wash and in the end it just looked white. Next time, I'll just do my whole family (who had to listen to me complain about my sore painting hand and swear over my excessive paint spillage for five hours) a favor and I'll just paint it straight out of the can!

Pshhh. White wash. Whatevs. Sounds like something British people during their afternoon tea. 

With the painted fireplace under my belt, I decided to tackle the furniture placement one more time. Since we just bought a house and are a little strapped for cash, I wanted to make the furniture that we already have work as much as possible. With that goal in mind, I employed a couple interior designer "tips" that seemed to keep cropping up all over the internet. I was skeptical...but you know what? The tips actually worked! Internet - 1,000 bonus points!

1) Le Focal Point

First tip was to find the focal point of the room. Obviously that was the very large (and now bright white) fireplace. With the focal point in mind, I arranged the largest piece of furniture to face the focal point and then placed the rest of the furniture around that configuration. The best tip I read regarding furniture placement was to consider your furniture from two points- 1) facing the focal point and 2) from the entrance of the room. You want the room to look nice from these two perspectives. 

2) Take Out Your Competition 

If you have a room with a TV AND a fireplace, these two elements seem to want to compete. To solve this, you CAN put the tv above the fireplace. But that's typically not ideal tv-viewing height. You could put the tv on a completely different wall but your room may seem off-balance or as if it is lacking a focal point. I scoured and scoured the internet and the best solution I could find was to have the tv either built in next to the fireplace or placed at an angle. The fireplace can still be the focus but you can comfortably view tv while facing the focal point.

3) No Wallflower Furniture

The hardest tip for me to follow was to pull furniture away from the walls. Apparently shoving furniture against the wall is kind of a designer no-no. Ooops. That's what I've done basically my entire life. But I tried it and it actually worked! By bringing the furniture away from the wall and closer together, the entire room seemed cozier. I am now a huge fan of this tip.

4) I like Big Rugs (And I Cannot Lie)

All the interior design tips I read said that your rug should be large enough that at the front two legs of your furniture pieces (or at least the couch) are on top of the rug. This seemed weird to me. I always had my rug free floating in the middle of the room. But when I tried it, I found that this tip was golden. Eventually, I had to go buy a bigger rug. But I don't regret it in the tiniest bit!

And TA-DA! Here is the end result (ignore the blue garland).

It's not 100% complete. I still need to find some art to go on the other side of the TV to balance everything out and get rid of the empty wall space (who am I kidding, I probably won't touch it again for like ten years). But it's such a huge improvement over how it was before. It is now my favorite room in the house!


(except technically, the green chair should be moved a little to the left and a little farther from the wall. STOP OCD. STOP IT!)

And this rug is ah-mazing. It's like laying on a bed of brand new stuffed animals. The blue color is pretty fun too. I want to roll around in it and eat fishy crackers. Cause that would be totally glamorous.

Tonight, I put on a fire and sprawled out all over the rug. I just couldn't help myself.

I envision many living room camp-outs in our future!

Or I can just put the kids to bed and roast marshmallows by myself. That way I don't have to share. And none of the marshmallows get burnt.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkin Patch - Pacific Northwest Style!

Last week, pumpkin patch day dawned with an onslaught of rain. But like true Pacific Northwest troopers, we grabbed some rain jackets and marched onward! A little rain can't scare us away! 

While the rain didn't cause us to cancel our plans, it did make us rush through most of our picture taking. As much as I can withstand storm, and cold, and wet, and misery in order to achieve a picture perfect pose, three little kids cooped up for a long car ride most definitely CANNOT. So we rushed under a rain tent and snapped some shots. The rain tent was no where near the pumpkins. So I made the kids hold a pumpkin in their laps so we could legitimately call these photos "pumpkin patch photos."

Jon's new thing is to point at everything and exclaim "dah!" in the most excited, high pitched voice. It makes me want to squeeze his cute little head in a vice-like grip and kiss his fat cheeks. Which I do. All the time.

Spider bales! 

Jacob assured me that he could hold Jon and just as soon as I'd snapped the picture above, down Jon fell into the mud. 

Below: me holding a muddy Jon.

Ryan, unimpressed with the pumpkins all around us ("Mom, they have pumpkins at the store.") would not get out of the stroller. Jon was happy to wave and point at everything. 

"Look at these bright orange drums!"

He loved the pumpkin so much, he wanted to try to take one home. The pumpkin won.

Sometimes at the pumpkin patch, you lose your pants. It's just happens. Like when you dip an oreo into a glass of milk and the oreo dissolves from your grip and sinks to the bottom. Why fight the inevitable?

I have no idea how, but some force of magic or divine intercession convinced Ryan to get out of the stroller long enough to take a picture next to his favorite pumpkin. I swear he was only three when I snapped the picture but somehow the image depicts a little man.

Jacob wanted to pose with a spider. Even though last night he stayed up until 10:30 because he thought there was a spider somewhere in his room and just knowing this fact made the task of sleeping far too scary.

We didn't actually buy any pumpkins here (duh, there are pumpkins at the grocery store). Or eat any fun pumpkin patch food (oh my gawd, I'm the worst line-waiter in the entire world). But we did ride some go karts!

And then my squishy Mr. Grumpy No Pants took a nice long nap on the ride home.

I have to confess that I really honestly love the rain. There's nothing quite like seeing the expanses of the sky reflecting from the wet surfaces of the earth. Or sloshing through newly formed streams of water. Or the therapeutic sounds of rain pittering and pattering and clonking onto objects around you.  Everything smells so fresh and clean. It's like nature's version of a cleanse. And the best part is coming inside to warm up by the heater while the world outside is still rumbling under the weight and force of blankets of falling water.

Ha! Nice try rain. Can't scare us away!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Third Child Birthday Party Problems

I walked into the grocery store last night at 8:30pm. Because it was the day before my third child's first birthday party and I still hadn't purchased a cake. The sliding doors opened for me and I strutted through the entrance pushing an empty grocery cart. Eye of the Tiger could have been playing n my mind. The details are still fuzzy. But I was a woman on a mission and ready to kill it with my mommy party planning muscles. Nothing could stop or deter me from the shopping tasks at hand.

And then the smell of cinnamon scented pine cones wafted my way and the menacing mommy shopper disappeared for 32 seconds while I detoured to put one or two packages in my cart.

Because it's never too early for cinnamon scented pinecones. 

Then it was game time again. I whizzed up and down the aisles (many of them multiple times- I decided x-ray vision scanning up and down four aisles was the tipping point at which it is no longer desirable to have sauerkraut), grabbed the most glamorous veggie tray I could find (note: was not very glamorous), two packages of meatballs, chips, spinach dip, cheese, and mini hotdogs assortments, and juice boxes for appetizing. I was very proud of my efficiency and shopping prowess (despite the sauerkraut) and got in line to check out. Luckily, in total Santa fashion, I checked my list one more time.

Cake. CAKE!

I turned the shopping cart around and headed back to the bakery section. Just grab a large cake and out we go! Except. Except. EXCEPT. Halloween. Halloween had totally consumed all things bakery. A (hellaciously hideous) spider web cake. A pumpkin cake. And three varieties of ugly-ass brown and orange fall leaf cakes. Not exactly gonna cut it for a one year old birthday party.

So I went back to the aisles and bought boxed cakes and frosting containers. Hey, this could still work! I was starting to get cocky. I can make a bad ass homemade beautiful cake. And all the parents will be like, "look at that working mom. She actually MADE her own cake. And it's AMAZING." You know, something like this:

And I slaved away mixing eggs and oil into that boxed cake mix before pouring it into a cake pan. And I set the timer. And it cooked perfectly. I was already raving about the beauteous cake that was going to be artfully crafted before my very eyes. 

Except. Except. EXCEPT.

It looked like a toddler had carefully shat all over it to spell a well-intentioned birthday greeting.

Should have bought that hellaciously hideous spider

And, my friends, from there the homemade theme kinda went down hill. I tried to make majestic hanging clouds by hot glue gunning quilt batting onto paper lanterns. It looked like Frosty the Snowman got tangled in a lawn mower, died, and someone hung his body from the ceiling as a warning to other snowmen. 

I also tried to make a tulle garland. But after two hours, I only got about ten feet of a stringy, sad looking garland. Although it doesn't look like it, I promise that no ballerinas were assaulted in the making of this garland. 

And finally, I tried to make a paper airplane garland. It worked out ok. But I'm no origami ninja and several nights of toiling away folding little bastard sheets of gold paper yielded ONE measly strip of garland that was really too heavy to hang anywhere.

At least my fireplace looks nice. I painted the brick last weekend.

At that point, I was kind of like "screw pinterest worthy parties." I didn't even bother with some of the fancy kid games and activities I had originally planned. I threw some empty moving boxes in the basement and shooed the kids down to play as guests arrived. We served Papa John's pizza, appetizers, and cans of Fresca and soda and called it a party. 

That's pretty much what you get when you're a third child. But don't worry Jon, 18 years of spoiling you rotten as the baby should offset these rag-tag third child birthday parties.

At least he thoroughly enjoyed the poop cake. At first, he ate it so daintily. Well, as daintily as possible with plastic cutlery.

Then he gave up and began fisting it into his mouth. Which, I might add, is the only appropriate way to eat cake when it's your birthday.

At the point, the cutlery was only used for cramming as much frosting-covered spongey goodness into his mouth as possible. CAKE. GLORIOUS CAKE!

"What? Is there something on my face or something?"

Happy Birthday Jon Jon!!

And here are our perfectly imperfect, frienzied family photos.

 Peace out. And always beware of The Pinterest. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Playroom In Progress

One of the reasons we bought our new house is because it has a basement. And because it is a split level home, the basement is one and a HALF floors away from the kitchen/dinning room. In theory, the kids could play as loud and obnoxiously as they want and I wouldn't have to hear it.

Great plan, right?

Except the kids didn't ever go in the basement.

We had just doubled our square footage. Tripled the number of bathrooms (thereby increasing the odds that I could pee ALONE). And tripled the number of floors in our house. And yet, the kids followed me around the new house like a troupe of mesmerized ducklings.

Whenever I turned around, I'd be stepping on a child or knocking one over. You could find me sitting on the toilet with the door half open and 1.5 kids spilling onto the tiled bathroom floor. I'd walk into my closet to pick out an outfit, turn around and find that I was suddenly dressing to an audience. The kids would shoot hairbands back and forth across my face as I tried to flat iron my hair. I couldn't eat a single morsel without someone yelling, "What's that? I want one. I'm hungry too. Can I have one? Make me one!"

The kids never wanted to go to the basement to play. For them, being sent to the basement to play was equivalent to a timeout sentence. I seriously didn't get it. When I was a kid, I LOVED having a room devoted just to my toys. So what was the friggen deal? Turns out, the kids simply thought the basement was "creepy." I went down to survey the situation and decided that the piles of kids toys thrown haphazrdly around the room wasn't exactly inviting.

And that is how the Great Playroom Design Plan was born. This design is still in the midst of the implementation phase. But the room's as finished as it's going to be for a while. So I thought I could unveil our Playroom In Progress.

Prep work: applying the painter's tape. This is my least favorite part about painting but Jacob offered a decent amount of help.

The kids begged and begged to help. So I gave them a mini lesson in painting. They had so much fun painting that they keep offering (unhelpful) suggestions about new walls to paint around the house. I'm currently working on a Craigslist Ad to farm out their skills (read: noise) to other homes. ("Painters for hire. Free labor in exchange for a meal of fish crackers and apple slices. May follow you to the bathroom and belt out fart songs without warning").

Serious business. 

The finished blue walls. 

Then I sent the kids to bed, tuned the radio to catch the commentary at the end of that day's Seahawks game, opened a can of Diet Dr. Pepper, and got to work painting some clouds. These clouds have been brought to you by several viewings of "how to pain clouds" youtube videos (and maybe one or two funny cat videos for good measure and a much needed down time activity).

There is a closet in the basement. I have big plans for this closet. But for now, it's houses a kitchen playset that I found used on the internet. 

I played around with toy storage ideas for several day before finally settling on these book cases from Target with special storage cubes These shelves were SO easy to put together. And you don't need any extra tools. Well, you do need a drill to anchor it to the wall...which is why it remains unanchored. I'm too afraid to touch my husband's tools. If I used one and didn't put it back exactly the way he likes it, I could be blacklisted from ever touching his nice things ever again. (Note to self, buy own set a tools.)

And so...here is phase I of the playroom roll out. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. And the kids actually play down there now!!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pumpkin, Pikachu, and Poop

Our sweet across-the-street neighbor gave us a pumpkin last week. She grew it in her own garden! That totally amazes me because two months ago I bought an office plant that says "only water once a week" and I STILL managed to kill it. In my defense, when you only have to do something once a week, it's much easier to slip from your mind. From now on, I will only grow children. They make noise when they need something.

When I first saw the pumpkin I thought it was way too early to decorate for Halloween. Then I looked at my calendar and realized October was almost half over. Yikes! How did that even happen? So, we went right to town.

I got all the supplies together and assembled a Pumpkin Carving Task Force. One member of the task force was fairly helpful at scooping out the pumpkin guts. One wanted to wave the knife around in circles. And the other ate pine needles. I'll leave it to your imagine as to who did what.

After we gutted the pumpkin, Jacob grabbed some paper and sketched out a pumpkin face design. I vetoed his first choice of an elaborate vampire with fang teeth and blood in front of a full moon. There was some negotiating back and forth but we ultimately ended up with this:

Jacob carved the weirdo eyebrows.

Jon's all like, "oh hey, something bright is in here. I'll just reach my hand in and touch it."

My weirdos.

Jon is practicing to be the next Vanna White. 

Jon will not be contained. "Let me go! I see rock! Must.put.in.mouth!"

Jon's been taking steps like crazy today. We just put him down and watch him go! I love to see how many steps he can take before he loses balance and crashes on his butt. I'm sure he would tell me that the whole diaper bulge really throws him off. 

It's so weird to see him upright. He's like a whole new person! Watch out world, here comes little human. If our life was a movie, this would be a good cover. I think the film would be called "The Freaky Alien House Guests That Never Leave."

Jon is just way too much fun right now. I want to take him everywhere and be with him all the time. He is just learning to express himself in a way that is NOT crying and he is starting to interact more. He's my little buddy. And his cuteness KILLS me. KILLS. 

Lately, he grabs his shoes and tries to put them on his feet. This is so freaking adorable. He knows where they go, but he doesn't know how to get them there. He just puts them right on top of his foot and smiles pleasantly to himself. When he moves his foot and the shoe falls off, he gets really frustrated and tries again. 

When I feed him, he opens his mouth wide and says "ahhhh" when he wants another bite. All of his meals sound like this: "Ahhh!" (silence) "Ahhhh!" (silence) "Ahhhh!" (silence). When he does it, we all chime in. Dinner is pretty much a chorus of "ahhhhs." 

Jon also pants like a dog whenever he sees a dog (or cat, or squirrel, or stuffed animal). If we make panting noises, he frantically looks around to find the dog (or cat, or squirrel) that must be looming nearby. 

I swear, racing wheeled objects across the ground is pure instinct. 

He loves to crawl under things. If I'm just sitting on the floor (feet on the ground, knees bent) he will crawl under the tunnel of my legs, come out the other side, giggle, turn around and do it again and again and again. The other day I had the brilliant idea of taking him into a dressing room with me. The second I was stripped down to my undies....

"Bye mom!"

In other Jon news, Jon said his first word. From his high chair, he threw scrambled eggs forceful onto the floor and cried, "Uh-oh!" So, yes. This is a new game that we play at every meal. My floor is now "textured."

Jon is going to turn one this month and I'm incredibly, incredibly sad about this. He does not have my permission to grow up. For the past seven years it seems like I've always been "that person with the baby." Having a baby in the house seems like such a strong part of my identity now. I'm not ready to NOT have a baby in the house. Basically, I want another baby. Or five. 

"I'm too cute to go to bed!"

The other day I took the three of them to Target (ha!) and we passed by a rack of clothing. The kids saw some sweatshirts and begged and begged for them. I was about to say no when I looked down at Ryan the Pikachu and had a cuteness stroke. 

So naturally, we left Target like this:

I'll admit my story telling abilities are fizzling out here a bit. So, here's a picture of Ryan with the makeover I gave him Saturday morning. As I was getting ready to run errands, I put some eyeliner and mascara on (I don't wear much makeup but I NEVER leave the house without eyeliner and mascara) and Ryan asked if he could have some. I told him no and that it was for grown ups and he was NOT HAPPY. I gave in and we had a make up party. He loved it and was very pleased and was so angry when I made him wipe it off five minutes later when it was smeared all over his face. 

What can I say, he DOES look really pretty.

And here are some random photos of pre-bed weirdness:

I have no caption for this. Yeah...

And finally, based upon the title of this blogpost, I'm sure you were waiting expectantly for some story about poop. So I will now present you with the gift my cat left in my shower this evening. I don't care HOW many layers are between me and it, I never want to know the texture of cat poop ever again.