Yarn Along, Goal met, Books, and links

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Bedside table, Ordinary Time edition.  The curtain was drawn because Rosebud was napping.  There usually is a matching teacup on the saucer, but I used it this morning for my coffee. 🙂

As you may or may not be able to see, I am working through the gusset of Haus Meister’s last slipper sock.  The end is in sight!  After this, I am cancelling my Facebook proclaimed first 2017 Knitting Project of a sweater jacket.  The weather is absurdly warm here, and not at all conducive to wool jacket knitting. 😦  I may go on to another pair of socks. I may knit up a bunch of hats and mittens because the recent snow scare over Epiphany (it was less than 1″) proved to me that we are woefully underprepared for actual winter weather here.  Too many mild winters.  Also, I guess I’m just still in stash-bust-short-project mode, and friends, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Reading-wise, no huge novels this week.  I haven’t even gone back through Wuthering Heights lately! I have been reading a lot of other things, though.  Dino received a copy of The Green Ember for his 10th birthday last week.  I read it all to myself in about three hours and then began reading the first four chapters out loud to the oldest kids.  It’s a good book!  Everyone is listening to me read aloud from Little House in the Big Woods during our lunch hour every day.  In the van, on drives this month, we’re enjoying Paddington Helps Out on Audible.  For my own enjoyment, I’ve been reading old Jan/Feb issues of Victoria and my current issues both of Victoria and The English Home.  January is always a good month to go back and rehash my goals for the home, especially as we put Christmas away, albeit very piecemeal. So out again comes Sally & Sarah Clarkson’s The Life Giving Home.

Another huge book and home related goal was met this week.  I indulged myself in a personal birthday present of an ebook of a year’s worth of meal plans and menus based on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.  I’ve been following that plan more or less since last July, although I haven’t made Haus Meister and the kids live without sugar. However, 95% of our family dinners are made with THM compliant recipes, and none of us have suffered. As Haus Meister said, “a diet that allows bacon is one I can live with!”  I found as the months progressed toward the end of 2016 that while I used the THM cookbook so much that it fell to pieces and I had to order a second, I also had an inordinant amount of printed-off recipes and way too many saved on my phone.  At last I completed a goal I have wanted to accomplish for years. I printed out that ebook and used it to organize my recipe binder.

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The only loose paper there is the pudding bowl full of Christmas cards, as we continue a tradition of Haus Meister’s family by picking a card from the bowl and praying for the sender every evening at dinner.  The “Recipe Traditions” binder does have some old family recipes in it and favorite old cards from recipe books past. But no loose papers, no random prints.  Everything goes in it straight away, and while I still check recipes on my phone, if it is voted a keeper, I will take the time to write it out, or if I have to print it, it will go straight to the binder.  After about eleven years of recipe paper clutter, it is nice to declare independence!

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Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: One Morning in May

~ {pretty, happy, funny, real} ~

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

and some

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Happy May, and month of our Lady!

Someone had a birthday this month! Someone pretty and precocious!

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Our Little Bit is every bit of 2 now.  She celebrated with donuts on a Sunday with one set of grandparents, and strawberry shortcake on her actual birthday with the other set. And both times she was equally well pleased.

Happy

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Princess’ American Heritage Girl troop ended the year with a painting & popcorn party.

Then there’s my knitting.  I’m happy about knitting.  I’m happy about books.

But I haven’t been knitting much lately because I discovered these books. Also because it kept falling off the double pointed needles… or a toddler began to unravel it. I digress…

It’s hard to knit when every free moment of the evening was spent in medieval Norway.

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Project: Simple Newborn Hat with a Touch of Lace.

Happy, kind of funny, and real, too.

Our house projects continue to shape up and finish.

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Haus Meister made his semi-annual trip to IKEA on his way home from a business trip and found the new accessories for the bathroom (now beautifully blue and white).  We found the light fixture at our Lowes.  But as for the vanity, well, let’s just say someone decided to be helpful, ala Paddington

So there’s that to be finished.

Meanwhile, Haus Meister fixed up the paint in the boys’ room.  We still need to do behind the bunk bed and replace the trim, but the Paddington helper had “helped” in there as well so we wanted to catch up fast as it was a bit of an eyesore.

In an earlier post we mentioned that the walls matched the boys’ Trail Life calendar, so we thought of the three mountains in the Trail Life logo, and from there we decided to add a few more.

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(Plus a droid)

And a volcano (because I am pitiful at patching a wall).

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The boys are quite happy and excited about their room.

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real–April’s Almost over Already??

~ {pretty, happy, funny, real} ~
Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

So, a few Thursdays have come and gone without my attempt at weekly posting.  Of course, around here that doesn’t mean a lack of things going on.

PRETTY flowers!  My geranium planter really…blossomed, and my Texas roses began to bloom last night.  These are the Lafter roses from Antique Rose Emporium.  I’m also pleased to report that the three tomato plants in pots on our porch have begun showing yellow flowers.  Looking forward to fresh tomatoes!

HAPPY girls!

Happy kids enjoying the first homemade (healthy, smoothie based, low-sugar-ssh-don’t-tell-them) popsicles of the season.

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Happy Trooper goes climbing.

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And I am happy to have re-enrolled the children in Seton Home Study School for the 2016/2017 school year.

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The first time I ever heard about homeschooling was in my public school classroom, and I was 11.  A substitute teacher was announced for the day, and the girl in front of me turned to me and hissed, “He homeschools his kids. They think they are so much better than the rest of us.” With the implicit belief in the veracity of my peers, I ticked that fact away that homeschoolers were pompous and went on with the day.

Later I saw the same substitute teacher with his kids at a high school basketball game, and looking at his daughter, who was my age, I thought to myself that she didn’t look as if she thought she was a cut above the rest of us. In fact, she looked very much like someone I’d want to have for a friend.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone.  It’s a calling.  Like every calling, it’s not “one size fits all.”  It just happens to be our calling, and part of our family story.  It may not be part of yours. That’s fine. We do NOT think we are better than anyone else, and never will.

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I looked up from rinsing the dishes to see this. Oh, kids.

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Changes around the house continue, large and small.

The main bathroom is now a lovely shade of “Woodlawn Silver Brook,” the “Endless Love and Laundry” sign is across from the laundry room, and the wainscoting is up in the laundry room.

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I added some baskets and straightened up the sideboard.

It keeps our tablecloths available.

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I’m kind of stuck on tablecloths.  We’re finally at a stage in our family where we can put these on the table before dinner and no one tries to pull them off.  So now the person in charge of clearing and washing the table picks one of our random assortment and decorates the table before dinner. It adds a dimension of beauty to our day, and transitions from school day to after-school quite nicely.

And then, we switched places betwixt the sideboard and kitchen table.

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We have another large table in the living room, and someday I’d love to make an opening in that wall where the sconces are, ideally to make a counter with barstools on the living room side, adding some more natural light to the kitchen thanks to the living room’s massive window, and adding more seating.  But that’s on the 10year plan. 😉

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Sunshine shows off our new microwave, since our 1995-era dinosaur of a microwave went out with a pop one evening.  I considered going back to a microwave-less existence, but then proceeded to burn three things in a day on the stovetop trying to reheat or bake. Including green beans.  I’ve never burned green beans.  So to Lowes we went!

It’s Rolling With the Punches

…or so I have learned this Lent.  Re-learned?  It has been one of those seasons where nothing seems to go as planned, but if I don’t sweat every last bit of small stuff, it’s not so bad, right? 😉

The strep episode ended at the commencement of a three week fiasco with a refrigerator that wouldn’t cool. We’d think it was fixed, then it would stop again. So last week, new refrigerator.

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Then, my beat up phone was due for an upgrade. That took a week to work out.

First World Problems.

We continued our fixing up of the house, repainting as the days got warmer and the sunshine came out.  Plants arrived in the mail that I’ll write about another time (when I have them all in ground).

My sister-in-law coaxed me into the yellow (Benjamin Moore 275 Banana Cream) for the laundry/powder room. This is in progress. And I admit she made a good call, and so I would show only laundry triage is happening.

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Haus Meister and the kids spent last weekend working on the red bathroom upstairs. It will no longer be red very soon.  (Top wall: Valspar Woodlawn Silver Brook; Wainscoting: Valspar Bungalow White)

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I can’t believe how big these kids are growing.  They’re all shooting up like rockets this Spring!

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This is so tranquil now….

Ideally, the bathroom would have been totally done by now, but that’s where we roll with the punches.  No sooner had we the satisfaction of a working fridge, a working phone, projects going well, and school coming along nicely… enter stage left the 12 hr flu bug, which hit all of us between Tuesday and Friday.

Eww. That’s what I mean by laundry triage. Finally this morning I determined to just stop saying that “THIS week we will get back to normal.” Bad things happen when I say it! 😉

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But around here there’s too much fun going on. Look at that smile!

So we roll with the punches and look for the fun silver linings and brighten the Haus for Spring.

 

I confess I’m kind of addicted to The Pioneer Woman’s line of products. A convalescent cup of Vernor’s and ice chips never looked so good. Or my morning coffee. Or that creamer with a hyacinth that Sunshine plucked (without permission, alas) from my front bed. And I finally found a kitchen rug I liked! You can’t see it, though, because it’s just as often a toddler reading spot. The littlest girlies barely remember carpet in a house! 😉 And for the record PW isn’t being compensated for this endorsement. I’m just gushing because would you really rather hear about the doings of 10 people with a stomach bug?

 

 

 

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} 2016 So Far

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Time to chime in and reassure you that Life is Happening besides Knitting.  And oh, how it’s flying by!

On January 14 we made some news public.

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Littlest isn’t the littlest anymore!  Little Bit, as we have re-blog-nicknamed her, is happy to announce that in July, Munchkin2 will join our family.

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I’m just reaching week 21 and feeling pretty well.  It’s a little more tiring than it used to be when I was pregnant at 25, but I have extra help around the house these days.

A month ago, my sister-in-law moved in with us!  The kids are over-the-moon excited to see her every day, and we’re having a ton of fun, too.  She is looking forward to beginning CNA classes and in the meantime helps out around here and in other places, Church included.  People kept congratulating us on the “new addition,” meaning her, which threw me a pregnancy-brain loop because I’d be giving them dumb looks, knowing that they knew about the baby…

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In other news, we’ve been busy with Church…

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Birthdays…

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Being sick (every child and even adult had one or more of the following: strep, croup, colds, ear infections, and then one had an allergic rash, all since February 1) …

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Cooking … (Daddy made it, she helped)…

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Enjoying what little snow we had….

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Dreaming of the weather staying consistently Springlike….

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And starting to redecorate rooms too long neglected.  At the first of the year, when I looked over my Christmas journals and realized that for the first time in nearly five years, I didn’t have “Sell the Old Haus” on my New Year’s Resolution but realized again that we could concentrate our visits to Lowes and etc, on this House, this one, our HOME, and only our HOME, it was like gulping breaths of fresh air.

(If you wonder why that didn’t hit me full force at the end of last October, I blame it on first trimester fatigue plus concentrating on the upcoming holidays)

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Incidentally, I covered that unlovely label on the giant detergent bucket with a picture of sunflowers that the kids colored for me.  It’s the little things.

Goodbye 2015!

YARN ALONG! I can’t seem to get the tag to link up, so I’m just linking in ye old-fashioned way.

Well, it’s been months since I posted on my knitting because frankly, it didn’t seem to change much from week to week.  Some weeks I had only managed a row or two on the way to Mass on Sunday, but I’m happy to say this Christmas break I’ve been able to seriously step up the knitting progress.  The day after Christmas I was able to bind off the body of the sweater, and have been working down the first sleeve ever since. Will I finish it for him during the 12 days of Christmas? To be honest, I have no idea. I want to be done by January 18th, though, as that was the date I cast this sweater on the needles.  Also, I signed on to participate in the Evelyn knit-a-long, this time for something for me, and it starts sometime next month.

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Altogether, though, I’m very pleased with the Armas project.  It took a good deal longer than I thought it would, but that wasn’t the design’s issue but rather my everlasting struggle with time management. 😉

A little light reading this week.  I’m kind of on an Astrid Lindgren kick, having scored Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, as well as Happy Times in Noisy Village on Thrift Books this month. I am not above reading the books I buy for my children, nor do I think anyone should ever be.

Meanwhile we had a very Merry Christmas here at the Haus.  My parents came down for the main holiday, and on Boxing Day we had a big dinner for them, my in-laws, some friends, and our parish priest. What fun!  We aren’t doing a big dinner tomorrow for New Years, but we are expecting more friends to stop over for the night on their travels back home.  It promises to be a fun beginning to a new year.

My resolutions for 2016 seem to be trending toward keeping things running smoothly.  Yesterday I sat down and pencilled out a menu plan for the entire month of January.  Today I began to work on the lesson plans for the month, knowing that I would not want to do that while having our friends over.  My workstation in is the foyer, where I can have a central space to keep track of things. It consists of an old dresser from my grandmother’s house, that keeps our binders, maps, mailing materials, and lesson plans out of sight.  A shelf on the wall above–from my great-grandmother–is the year-round place where I keep the books I’m reading, stationary (if I ever get around to hand-writing an actual letter or sending a real card!), a letter holder for bills, a plant, a picture of Jacob, and a favorite icon. This year I’m trying something new and have Susan Branch’s desk calendar on the wall between shelf and dresser.  My menu plan is to the left of that (with chore rules above), and to the right are favorite drawings from my resident artists.

Now, I would love to say having this workstation means that everything stays neat and tidy, but my husband will be the first to tell you that is not the case, if he were inclined to do so. 😉  And it’s a constant struggle not to let the workstation become the dumpstation. However, at the moment it is looking nice and tidy, which is more than I can say about it’s appearance an hour or so ago:

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And that’s another struggle constant in the household: keeping things running smoothly while raising toddlers!

Here’s farewell to 2015 and a blessed 2016 to all of you with love from all of us!

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{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Another October post!

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I love October!  Things just seem to click into place in October.  We more or less have our school schedule down pat now, we’re happily ticking off our list of projects, and the kids know what they’re going as on Hallowe’en. 😉  The weather is so much less oppressively humid and even cooled enough this week for the heat to be on at night!

We’re still plugging away at our home improvement projects.  Sometimes it’s just moving a picture to another room, and sometimes it’s laying the extra wood from the hardwood floor projects down in the stairwell.

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We also acquired a new bed for our room.

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It doesn’t exactly keep the toddlers out, but we’re a tad less crowded when they arrive.

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Happy

New furniture in the mail = CARDBOARD BOX HOUSES!

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Funny

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Star Wars Overhype, anyone?

Real

The children wanted to carve pumpkins the first week of October.  Of course I talked them out of it.  No one wants half-rotten pumpkin faces festering on their porches, after all. Unfortunately, though, I guess I could have let them carve a couple of them….

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They rotted without our help.  Next year, all pumpkins need to look like the one at the top of the stairs!

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Mid-October

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We closed on the Old Haus on Sept. 29.  That chapter of our lives is now closed as well, and I’m pleased as punch that if we had to wait four years for this, at least the buyer is precisely who we hoped for–someone who was actually looking for a house of our “vintage” and who fell in love with the arched entryways and all the other little 1940s quirks. We hope she and her daughter have many happy years there.

In the meantime, we’ve been busy now doing a million projects around here that were on the backburner until the house sold! Not to mention the daily stuff, like work, chores, childrearing, and homeschooling. 🙂

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Okay, we think our baby gets prettier every day.  Littlest is still littlest (there seemed to be time when she’d pass up Posey Pie, but Posey had a growth spurt and still inches her out…by an inch or two).  We also call her the “feisty little one” (influence of Star Wars), and if we weren’t already set with princess dresses, I’d send her Trick-or-Treating as R2D2 just for kicks.

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Since October crept up on me, I hadn’t gotten many Fall decorations out until last weekend!  And still, someone had to bring in something a little early. This is a well loved animated Christmas thingamabob from Hallmark in 2006.  It sings and plays music and blinks lights.  There’s supposed to be some penguins but those migrated a long time ago.

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And she LOVES it.  She hugs it and drags it around the house.

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Morning, noon, and night.

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Last Wednesday, one of my best friends and I headed out to the used bookstore because that’s what we do on our Mom’s Night Out.  We’ve “closed” the store twice now.  It’s becoming a bit of a tradition to be lingering in the aisles looking for one last treasure while the voice on the com is saying “Please make your way to the front, the store is closing in ten.” In the last five I finally found where they moved the old Pleasant Company/American Girl books and nabbed the entire original Felicity set, five Kirstens, two Mollys and a Samantha.

The boys told me next time to bring something home for them.

And guess who waited up for me?

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He did let me pass.

The Gandalf wig/beard arrived in the mail two days later.  He’s wearing the Santa beard from last year. 😉

Funny

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Picture of the Month.  TK-42Dino and TK-42Miss M do school on a Friday. Yes, we’ve already had to duct tape his helmet.

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After 12 years of marriage, we have bought our first new (not consigned, secondhand, previously-owned by family, or garage sale) couch.

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Thank you, IKEA, for this easy to assemble treasure.

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Now to clean the basement before the first fire of the season.  No, that’s not dust, it’s flour.  When Miss Sunshine decides she wants her trains to run into snow, she creates it at the expense of my pantry.  But do you see my glorious Wodehouse collection? Second bookshelf, the one on the right.  We have now reached three full shelves (top 3). Give or take a book.

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Contentment

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So this poor blog has been sparse but I’m going to quickly discuss what else we’ve been up to besides homeschooling, working, knitting, and occasionally rowing…interspersed with current pictures. 🙂

Need some Spring?
Need some Spring?

I have always liked this Thursday link-up series because it challenges us to find contentment in our everyday lives.  The little things that are, heh, pretty, happy, funny, and real.  I’ve struggled a lot over the years with being content in some of these areas–mainly in being content with the house we’re in.  Raising five toddlers/small kids in the Old Haus challenged that to the nth degree! And just when we finally found contentment in our little cottage, we found out that Miss M was coming and bam–we moved. 🙂

The lovely Miss M, a mover and a shaker since 2011.
The lovely Miss M, a mover and a shaker since 2011.

Ostensibly the instant we moved into a house with twice the living area you’d think we’d have contentment, right?  And there was a lot less stress. But there was the niggling reminder as well that we couldn’t seem to find a buyer for the Old Haus.  The market isn’t kind to starter homes of a certain vintage that need flood insurance. In fact, we still haven’t found a buyer. The Old Haus is on it’s second set of tenants in four years, and from August ’13 to August ’14 it stood empty.

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Did I mention Posey turned 2 on Pi Day? 😉

That was a low point.  We poured our energy and money into repairs to the Old Haus, as much as we could reasonably do, during that year,  We put off things that we wanted to do with this house, the one we’re living in. It got frustrating that at last the Old Haus looked as I had wanted it to while we were in it, but we weren’t going to be in it.  We had three more children (Littlest on the way at the time)! There wasn’t room! And we had the house we’re in!

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Add to that the fact that the summer failed at being very restoring. It felt like we were still in “survival mode” from the baby coming, and the plans for extra help had a hiccup.  Haus Meister worked a lot of overtime toward the end of summer, all the way through Christmas.  The Old Haus had a renter, but our house looked tired and as if we’d been in “survival mode.” 😉 I walked down to the mailbox one day in September and looked back at our house and thought: Why do I still feel more as if the old place is “home” when THIS is my home now? We’ve been here three years; why doesn’t it feel like home?

I made her the pillowcase and duvet cover. Now all the girls want a custom one! :)
I made her the pillowcase and duvet cover for her birthday. Now all the kids want a custom one! 🙂

It may have been the next day, or the next week, when Haus Meister–who rarely complains–confessed to me that he felt tired (as in physically drained). Now all wives know there’s two responses to this: the “how can I help?” response or the “You think YOU’RE tired, well, that’s nothing to MY tired…” martyr rant.  Thankfully I did the former–this time. 😉 But instead of asking I began to think of ways to improve the looks of the house.  After all, don’t we all like to find rest at home? And as I said, it was time to get out of survival mode.

I started in our room.  The day he left on a two-week outage trip I whipped out some paints.  I painted over the Sharpie marker “art” that Sunshine had attacked our closet doors with shortly after we moved in.  I tore out the ugly wallpaper in our bathroom, rendered even less appealing due to pen marks from the same daughter around the same time.  Do not ask me why it took me three years to do this; suffice to say there was always something else to do.  But amazingly, not seeing that wallpaper or those penmarks immediately improved morale. 😉 I also discovered that a lamp behind the bed for nighttime reading/knitting surely improved the ambience.

Our room as of yesterday. He finished laying the floor this weekend.
Our room as of yesterday. He finished laying the floor this weekend (trim coming soon). Like my yarn mountain?

I grew bold.  I tore out the wallpaper–even uglier–in the main bathroom. I painted it a reddish/rust tone.  Admittedly I didn’t do as well of a job in this bathroom, perhaps because the hours of 11pm-2am was my best painting window. Yet I was determined to finish, as I knew his work schedule wasn’t slowing and the last thing he needed was to come home to my unfinished project.  Luckily he was very pleased when I skyped him and showed him the finished product. I was too proud to wait and surprise him.

The piece d' resistance was the sign I found on Etsy.
The piece d’ resistance was the sign I found on Etsy.

This was the thing we both needed.  From then to now we’ve been busy working on this house.  We’ve torn up all the carpet except what is on the stairs.  We figured out new ways to organize things from the plates on the sideboard to the laundry bins in closets.  We discovered IKEA (so glad we live too far to visit the store often–it’d be too dangerous).  We fixed the old light fixtures and replaced the basement bulbs to brighten the area. The puppy-chewed, toddler bounced & stained thrift store furniture finally made it out the door. There’s a bare spot in our upstairs that is waiting for just the right couch but this time I am waiting for just the right couch instead of buying a junk one in an effort to feel frugal (the frugality is questioned when you consider I did this twice over the period of three years).  Outside, we potted mums in the Fall and this early Spring we planted apple trees.

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Why is Sunshine helping in the dirt in such a dress? Only she knows. 😉

 Meanwhile life goes on and there are, of course, still days where we fall into bed exhausted.  The kids keep us on our toes and there’s still the chance that the renters will move out in August and we’ll be back playing the market game again.  But we do not regret the time and effort we chose to put into our house at last.  And came the day that we stood in our front lawn and he said, “You know, I could stay in this house till I died.”

And I knew I could too, and that at last, we were content again.

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P, H, F, R and Yarn Along

 

 &

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 I missed last week’s link up by 4 minutes, so I’m adding it to this week’s lineup as we scramble around cleaning up for the 4th of July holiday and grandparents’ visit! Have a wonderful weekend if I don’t tune in again before then!

Pretty

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This is the “Ordinary Time” look for the foyer dry sink top. I decided to make it an icon place so that it didn’t become a dump spot for all sorts of junk, which is what had been happening. The shawl doesn’t stay there normally. 😉 I put it there for the picture and also because The Little Oratory is one of the books I’ve been reading lately, as well as some Wodehouse and Heyer and the latest issue of The English Home and Piecework. I like taking The Little Oratory a chapter at a time and absorbing it that way, rather than my usual speed read.

I’m only on row 13, Clue 5A of the shawl. Swim practices have been rained out, babysitting schedules change. Ah well, that’s life. At least I’m still getting some knitting in!

Happy

Ice cream was buy 1 get 1 free last week. We got two of the vanilla and then the flavors. That Blueberry one is terrific. I could eat a whole tub of it, but I’m being good at the moment.

Funny

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One afternoon as I changed Littlest, Posey Pie came in my room and decided to play in this square of sunshine for a while. She literally didn’t budge from that square, standing, sitting, rolling, laughing, for about ten minutes.

Real

Have you discovered ThredUp yet? Please allow me to invite you. (Of course, if you’re as avid a reader of Ginny’s blog as I am, you’ll already have gotten her invite–in fact, that’s how I got on the bandwagon) I’ve been having a blast updating my postpartum wardrobe here (and ebay), because I’m frugal/a cheapskate/ parsimonious / whatever and I like getting deals on clothes. I can shop here for the kids and myself and get pretty good deals. The problem I find though is that when I do get a good deal on something, I balk when I have to pay full price on something else–like an accessory item. This week I was bemoaning the price on scarves because of a deal I got on a dress. Haus Meister was laughing in his sleeve at me, but later I texted him that I’d raided my fabric stash and thrifted the hem of a worn out pregnancy blouse and created an infinity scarf out of it.

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That was the one time I got it to work on my hair. It works better worn around my neck.

I think I’m just a nut.

🙂