Slightly Sidetracked

I went from ‘painting’ this

To this.  I’m jumpy like that.  And impulsive.

So, while trying to decide what to do with the bar stools that I claimed I was going to re-finish this weekend, I randomly turned my attention to the fireplace.  Okay, so it’s not completely random, since, for the past year we have been talking about painting all the trim in the living room white.  I thought, “What better place to start than the focal point of the room, right?”  Hmmmm……

Stay tuned to see how it turns out.  That is, if I finish it before I start something else……

August 16, 2011. Home, Inspiration. Leave a comment.

They just don’t get along

Here is my weekend project.  I’ve been meaning to paint these bar stools ever since, well, I painted them.  They were a garage sale find, that I paid a whopping $7 a piece for.  Not too bad.  When I saw them I immediately knew that I was going to paint them some happy, ‘we’re at the pool’ aqua color.  And I did.  And I’m sorry.

The color itself isn’t so bad, but it doesn’t quite (like not at all) go with some of the other furniture pieces I have in the room.  In fact they kind of clash.  Ewwww.

I had every intention of painted that dark green console, a nice creamy white or maybe even black.  But now I kind of like it.  It has made itself a part of our family living room and I think for now I’m going to leave it alone and I’m also just completely afraid I might ruin it.  I have no problem painting cheapo garage sale finds, but really nice pieces of furniture is another story (plus this one was given to me by my aunt-I’m slightly sentimental too).  I might, however, get the nerve up to re-stain the top a nice rich mocha color one day, we’ll see.

Anyway, back to the bar stools.  That’s them peeking around the corner making an unsightly scene again (they’re troublemakers those two).  So the question is what color?  White is always a safe bet (apparently it’s the Botox of the design world)  but I’ve been seeing a lot of yellow lately, and I have my fair share scattered around the kitchen and living room, so that might be fun, right?  I figure if I mess it up again, I can always throw them to curb try again.  Maybe they’ll end up with a nice ‘layered’ look when I done.  If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears eyes.

August 12, 2011. Home. 8 comments.

Chalkboard Kitchen


          Photo curtesy of (click on pic to view site)

First of all, love the kitchen.  Really creative, very unique, whimsical, pretty, and I’m really diggin’ that sweet light fixture with the pom-pom flowers above the makeshift island.  But my question is, what about the chalkboard paint?  I keep seeing it being used to cover old dingy appliances or a pantry door, but have yet to see it cover an entire kitchen (and to be fair, it may just be the dishwasher and a few select cabinet doors-it’s hard to tell…..).  I myself, have yet to have any experience with the chalkboard paint, although I’m considered painting the top of a coffee table I have in the living room/play room.

What do you think?  Love it?  Hate it?  Does it make the space fun and personal or unfinished and messy?  I’d love to know what you think!

August 11, 2011. Home, Inspiration. 2 comments.

Baby ‘Popsicles’

There is a new treat at our home……

and my children love it.

And because I thoroughly enjoy deceiving love them immensely and care for their health and well-being, I have convinced them that these delectable little pieces of frozen goodness are just baby popsicles.

Eat up honey, eat up……

August 10, 2011. Family. 2 comments.

Left to her own devices

Earlier this summer, my husband and I (ok, maybe it was just me) decided that it was time for our daughter to have some real life legitimate household chores.  We both expect her to pick up her things (or let’s be honest, help us pick up her things) and she gets dressed on her own (and has since she was two), and has even been known to prepare breakfast for herself and her little brother-that was a glorious morning, let me tell ya’, but I thought with school out for the summer, maybe a little more structure to our day (and a visual goal) would help lead all of us in the right ‘we all contribute in this family’ direction.

So L and I excitedly made our trip to Target, L was more than willing to pick out the necessary supplies we would be needing, of which included cupcake stickers, and hurried home to create our her chore chart.  Going in to this, I had an idea in my mind of how it should look, and this was certainly not it.  (Mine consisted of a large graph and maybe some pictorial representations, but nothing of this scale and magnitude, oh my).  My daughter had her own ideas of how a chore chart should look, and since she has absolutely zero patience (I have no idea where she gets THAT from), she went straight to work while I was in the restroom or changing brother’s diaper, or some other menial task that distracted me for a mere 2.2 seconds.  And this is what I came back to (without the chart of course):

L took it upon herself to give a vivid pictorial representation of each chore she thought she was capable of or should be capable of.  Here’s what made the list:

  • Make bed
  • Help set the table
  • Clean room (in the form of picking up pillows from the floor)
  • Put away books
  • Brush teeth
  • Clean up kitchen
  • Put away shoes
  • And close the blinds

L came up with most of these (closing the blinds?) but i did help think and add a few more, chores that I thought she was more than capable of doing.  We ended up having enough room on the left hand side to put a weekly chart for her to place her cupcake stickers on whenever she finished a chore.

And even though it was not what I had in mind, by allowing (and by allowing I mean being distracted long enough for L to get into the art supplies)  L to take the initiative, to not only come up with the chores she could do, but drawing them out, has made a big difference in her drive to actually do her chores.  She can visually see what needs to be done (after a gentle reminder from me), a task that was drawn with her little four-year old hands and can go do it.  And I think the whining has minimized too.  When children are allowed to act on their own initiative, and given a certain amount of independence, they feel more confident and it empowers them to carry out the task ahead of them.

And I must say, I love my new fridge decor, it has….how shall I put it…..presence.  And nothing can be sweeter to a mom than hand drawn ways to help around the house, right?

August 9, 2011. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

A little give and take

Like all siblings L and brother partake in their fair share of quarrels.  One moment they are playing sweetly with one another, and the next they’re screaming obscenities (not really, but that’s what it sounds like to my ears).  Learning to share and cooperate with one another is an ongoing process, and I stumbled across an art activity that I thought might help ease a bit of the tension that has been circulating around here.

You will need paint (we used tempera), paper and yarn.  (It was a little windy, so we used some outdoor toys to hold down our paper).

I let both children squeeze out their color of choice, brother probably should have had more assistance. :)

Now it’s time to practice working together……L and brother had to take turns pulling the yarn across the paper to spread the paint around.

Hold tight, that big sister can really pull!

Now it’s time to clean up-word of warning-this activity was messy!

Overall both kids enjoyed this activity, however, cleaning up with the hose was by far their favorite part!  (And yes, they did have to take turns!).    Brother had some difficulty pulling the yarn and keeping it on the paper (when it was taut, it would raise right above the paper, which became frustrating for him).  So next time I would elevate the paper onto a firm surface, so that they could pull down on the yarn to keep it in contact with the paper more.

 How do you promote sharing and turn-taking in your home?

August 4, 2011. Art, Education. 3 comments.

When it’s too hot to play in the water table outside…

make one inside.  My kids were sooo excited to get to play in the kitchen sink, who knew that would be such a treat?  (I wish I got that excited, I think I have myself a couple of new dishwashers).  We dropped all of our kitchen utensils in there (except any sharp ones of course), and L and brother went to town.

How are you beating the heat?

August 3, 2011. Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Learning to read

My daughter is getting very close to turning five.  And starting school.  These are all wonderful things, but they make me all nervous and sweaty if I think about them for any period of time.  She’s one of those kids who is ‘school ready’.  You know the type.  Overachiever, wants to know how to do everything, goes above and beyond what she is asked to do (if she is asked by someone other than her mother, that is).  She has most recently shown an earnest interest in reading.  She loves books, and we both enjoy our story time (some days we easily read together for 2-3 hrs).  So being an early childhood educator I should be more than capable of helping her down that ‘lets learn to read’ path, right?  (Insert laugh).  I thought I was.  But each child is different and I have had to think long and hard about what reading ‘instruction’ should look like for L.

And here is what I’ve decided:  my main priority is going to continue to read for ‘fun’ and focus on the joy of reading. *Gasp*  Does that mean that we aren’t going to go over letter sounds, phonemes, sight words, and all that good stuff?  No, all those things have their place, and are important when it comes down to decoding text, I mean we all have to understand that words are made up of letters and letters make sounds and when they are put together they make different units of sounds and yada yada yada.  But the real reason any of us learn to read is to gather meaning and understanding from what we read.  We don’t read for the purpose of sounding out words, (and of course that is a necessary part of learning to read, and can be taught in meaningful ways).  And I know everything is not in its own little vacuum, the decoding, the comprehension, it is all tied together and part of the process.  But it is amazing what my daughter has picked up from reading with me, a true passion for the written word.

A love of reading, and a love of the ‘story’ will prove much more beneficial to my daughter over the years than any direct instruction will now.  As a country we are so focused on making everything faster and sooner, and this has overflowed into our education system.  We now have flashcards for our babies, and educational videos that will ‘teach’ our toddlers their ABC’s.  I’m not saying any of these things are bad, but they are not necessarily beneficial either.  I just read a study about early literacy instruction and its’ impact on later rates of illiteracy.  Those countries that began instruction as early as 3 and 4 (and by instruction I mean rote memorization and rehearsal of letters and sounds) had by far the highest rates of illiteracy in later school years.  By contrast, Sweden, which doesn’t start direct reading instruction until 7 or 8 years of age (when a child is typically more developmentally ready) had by far, the lowest illiteracy rates of all the nations.  Interesting huh?

Each child is different and learns in his or her own unique way.  While one child may be thrilled to open up a new library book and explore its story through the pictures (which is a great way to build comprehension in young readers) another child may feel much more interested in decoding the text through sounding out words.  And we (as in I) can get all caught up in what strategies to use, and what our child should be working on, and which method is best, but we, as parents and educators, need to step back and look at the bigger picture.  These early years go by so fast, and we want to equip our children in every way we can, and also enjoy this precious time with them.  And right now that means, opening up a book, and allowing my daughter to ‘read’ me her story, even if she misses a few (or all) of the words. :)

What advice would you seasoned mothers and educators give when it comes to helping your child learn to read?

August 2, 2011. Education, Family. 7 comments.

Renovated Craftsman

As I’ve mentioned before I am slightly addicted to looking at houses online.  While I was perusing through listings this weekend I came across this beauty, and I thought, “If I enjoy this so much, other people probably do to0.”  So I thought I’d share.  You’re welcome.

This welcoming craftsman was built in 1917 and is currently for sale.  The owners had it professionally renovated, staying true to the original architecture of the home. It’s located in the historic district of Wichita and it is just oozing with old world charm.  I’m enamored.  (And if you want to take a peek at the listing just click on a pic).

Can you say inviting?  Can’t get enough of the large columns, or the glass front door.  The amazing landscaping doesn’t hurt either.

Front porch, you had me at hello…..(name that movie)

The trim work in this home is amazing, I love how they combined the white trim, with the dark beams and crown molding.  I’ve always wanted french doors that led into my dining room…

This home brings together its historic charm with updated amenities very well.  The kitchen is obviously newly renovated, but still has a traditional feeling that gels well with the rest of the home.

Still can’t get enough of the hardwood floors,

trim work,and all those gorgeous windows!

Bathroom looks like it stepped out of 1920,

but it’s all shiny and new.

And, yes, I am a sucker for bead board.

More of those delicious windows.

The master bath reminds me of the kitchen,

mixing modern with traditional.

You don’t very often see gold faucets and light fixtures

(oil rubbed bronzed and brushed nickel are still all the rage),

but I have to say that I really like it.

I feel fancier just looking at it.

And the bead board above the windows, I swoon.

So there you have it.

There has really been a resurgence of

craftsman homes in recent years, any ideas as to why?

Do they embody an American ideal or

do we all just love how

they’re simultaneously detailed and simplistic?

You know, beautiful with out all the fuss.

They are definitely in my top five, what’s in yours?

August 1, 2011. Tags: , . House Love, Inspiration. 1 comment.

DIY: Ballerina Mirror and Barre

Remember the recently renovated bathroom I posted about here?  Well, since the large mirror was removed and replaced by that charming little oval number, we ended up having a really large mirror that we were sure would be good for something…….and then it became clear…..

Yes, that is my daughter admiring her ballerina-self in the oven door.

Every aspiring ballerina needs her own mirror and bar to  admire herself  practice on, right?  So the engineer, being the loving and doting father that he is, went straight to work.

Oh, and here is L’s room.  Not too bad huh?  If I’m ever home alone (which is extremely rare) this is where I hang out.  Seriously.  The girls got the prettiest room in the house.  And the color on the walls, it’s Fair Maiden (Valspar), the softest, most beautiful shade of pink ever (it almost looked white on the swatch, it’s that light).  Anyways, I’ll save the breakdown of how this room came to be for another post, I thought I would just share what we’re working with…..

This is the wall we decided to hang the mirror.  When the door is closed, it allows for lots of room for plies and arabesques.

So the Saturday we decided to tackle to ballet practice area,  my dear sweet husband went into the storage room to retrieve the mirror, and *gasp* tragedy struck.  Tragedy in my world consists of very small irrelevant things, like chipped glass, but I never seem to see them that way at the time.

A chipped corner of the mirror….cue wailing and very unpleasant sounds from me….”But this was only going to take an hour, what are we going to do with a broken mirror?  How could you be so careless, I would have never broken the extremely large, heavy, very difficult to move and impossible to carry mirror!”  What can I say?  I’m a work in progress.

Here is the unsightly offending shard.  I can barely stand to look at it.

But as always, my dear husband, ever the voice of reason in this house, assured me that he would come up with a solution and that all was not lost.  The ballerina mirror would prevail……
And as always, he came through with a brilliant plan.  He designed corner pieces to use to hold up the mirror and – get this – conceal the unsightly chip - genius!

He also came up with the cute scalloped design on each corner….but I’m supposed to claim I did, because what kind of man comes up with scallops?  One who loves his little girl (and his wife who is really just a ballerina loving four-year old herself), that’s who.  (And I love that they look like little hearts). :)

Here’s the plan stan.  For anyone who is detail – minded (that does not include myself by the way).  The corner scallops were cut out of 1/4 in. plywood, using a dremel with a jigsaw attachment.  The inside of each corner piece has a little ‘ledge’ around the edge that the mirror will actually sit in.  My husband used wood glue to secure it in place until we mounted it on the wall with dry wall anchors.

Then we secured it into the wall studs using drywall anchors, four for each corner.  I think each anchor can support 50 lbs, and there’s four on each corner, so yeah, it’s secure.

Those black screw heads were a little unsightly, so I covered them up with a little white paint.  If you really want to hide em’ good, go back over with some putty, sand it smooth, and then paint.  But only if you are planning on the mirror hanging up for a long, long time, like forever.

That’s better.

The bar was just a large dowel rod that cost us a whopping $5 and the brackets to hold it on to the wall (the same kind that are used to hold up stairway handrails, were a mere $2.50 a piece, not bad).  And the mirror was FREE!  And since we already owned the paint and the plywood, we spent right around $10.00 for the entire project.  Of course, if you purchased a mirror from a home improvement store, they run around $200 for that size (yikes!).  But places like Habitat for Humanity’s Re- Store, Craigslist or even your local Goodwill may be a great place to find a large mirror (in fact my mother just informed me that she sees them on Craigslist quite often), builders like to put them in new homes (because their easy and relatively cheap) sounds a bit dirty…. anyways and people like me come along and rip them out visualizing bigger and better things for their bathroom (or in my case smaller and swivelier).  And I seriously doubt most people have a need for a large bathroom mirror anywhere else in their home……unless they have a four-year old who loves to dance.  :)

And finally…..completion.

Our little ballerina thoroughly enjoying her parents Saturday afternoon all day and into the night efforts.

I think she likes it…..

July 29, 2011. Home, Inspiration. 11 comments.

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