Snapshots of our lives
July 6, 2013
This year I was really determined to spend as much time outside as possible. Before I knew that it’s gonna be on of the wettest spring / summer in history. So instead of being trapped inside because of the cold, we are now banned from the outside by constant wetness. Rain, rain go away!
Nonetheless, our outdoor spaces got some nice small updates to make them family friendly should any day unexpectedly turn out rain free.
In the front yard we had that spiky ground cover bush going on that was really good for trash and leaves getting stuck in it, but not for hanging out front to watch our kids play.
One sunny day I went at it and just ripped it all out. It all originated in just 3 plants and the roots were all intertwined with the tree’s roots, so much sweat was shed. But all worth it afterwards. The home owners association sent the landscapers out to even things out and put down sod.
Just a few weeks later – thanks to the rain – everything was lush and green and all set for mini picnics. The flowers grew in almost too much, so I might transplant them to the backyard next year or extend the flowerbed a little.
In the backyard we took on a pain-in-the-butt project that was long needed. Previously the deck was all taken over by bikes, trash cans, and other stuff. Apparently it was not even picture worthy. So we decided to extend our patio by just a few square feet on each side of the deck stairs in order to tuck things away. For being such a small area, it was kind of a big project. Digging out dirt, hauling in gravel and sand and pavers, cutting wood borders, etc.
Daddy helped Milo do it and over the course of the following weeks I actually got around to cleaning up other junk that had accumulated around our deck, regraded the soil below our deck to prevent water damage in the basement, and painted the wooden border with leftover deck paint.
Now this whole area is just way more functional and neat without spending a fortune.
The bikes and trash cans have space on the new paved corners and make room on the original patio to even grow three big planters full of veggies.
And then it was time to do something about our deck. I mean, it was all nicely renovated and painted, but came out a little too neutral / brown / blah.
With the help of some paint on the herb pots and new pillows …
… as well as a red solar lantern, and rope lights that I wrapped all around our deck, it’s now a lot more cheerful and moody to spend summer evenings.
And who would have thought – by the time I finally get to finish this post, the summer actually has made an appearance and I am typing this as I am sipping a glass of wine on the deck. Happiness.
June 10, 2013
Some days I feel completely overwhelmed by the workload of a full time job, taking care of kids, and running a household. Other days I am full of energy and everything feels like a piece of cake. One day I will look at back at this post and wonder how we managed to make a living, have a homemade meal on the table every day, and keep the kids entertained. The truth is, we can’t always fulfill all needs and wants. But we are doing our best. This is what a typical day in our life in April 2013 looks like:
5 AM: Felix wakes up, but I just give him a bottle, change his diapers, and turn the lights off again. He better learn early on that I am not to be disturbed before a certain time and he can tend to himself if he really needs to be up before the birds. Usually he just chills in his bed or falls back asleep for another hour or two.
6 AM: Felix wakes up for real now, if he wasn’t already awake at 5. Time for his milk, diaper change, and getting him into some clothes. This is his and my hour before everybody Milo wakes up. I might take a shower while Felix watches the water drip down. Then I make lunch for Milo and Felix and I play for a little bit.
7 AM: Milo wakes up. Like clock work. Because of his Gro Clock. Still the best kids related purchase ever. I can’t wait for Felix to be old enough to follow it. Sometimes I hear Milo up before 7, but he just goes potty by himself and then goes back to bed until the sun shows. “Mami, Sonne is da!” is my cue to bring him his milk. It usually takes him about half an hour to really want to get up and get going, so Felix and Milo and me hang out in his room together an chat about the upcoming day.
7:30 AM: Milo is ready to climb my back and ride downstairs. All kids and me have breakfast together. Sometimes I have to actively feed all three people, because Milo is too distracted or unmotivated to eat.
8 AM: Milo plays by himself, while I pack up my stuff, clean up the kitchen, and finish packing his school bag.
8:30 AM: Felix is either ready for a nap or I hand him over to Lincoln. Either way it’s time for Daddy to wake up. Milo and I leave for the day.
9 AM: Milo’s preschool starts, Mama goes to work, Daddy and Felix stay at home. Felix usually takes one nap in the morning and (unless he is sick) is pretty happy chewing on something or jumping in his bouncer, so that Lincoln can get about two hours worth of work done.
12:30 PM: Lincoln packs up Felix and they pick up Milo from school, which ends at 1PM. They all go to Lincoln’s parents house, where Milo takes a long nap and Felix is being cared for by the grandparents or auntie Rosie. Usually he takes another nap. Then the kids play for the rest of the afternoon.
5 PM: I get home and seize my golden hour before the rest of the family gets home. Now is the time to prepare a quick dinner, pick up stuff around the house or finish some home decor projects. Ideally, dinner was prepared the night before and is already cooking in the crockpot, but that only happens about once a week. Usually I try to make quick stuff like stews, pasta, or burgers and we make enough for two days so that less cooking is required. This is the most productive hour of my day.
6 PM: Lincoln and the kids come home. Felix is usually tired enough to go to bed right away, so I give him his bottle, change into PJs, and put him to bed. If he had a late nap, he might stay up for dinner with us. We all try to eat together, although Milo sometimes already comes home fully fed.
6:30 PM: Play time. This is really the one hour of the day where I try not to worry about getting stuff done and Lincoln and I play with Milo. Usually lots of wrestling, playing some sort of ball sport, or running around is involved.
7:30 PM: Time to get ready for bed. On bath nights we go upstairs closer to 7:15. While I wash Milo, brush his teeth, and read a book with him, Lincoln takes a nap on the couch.
8 PM: Kids free time begins! For Lincoln that usually means getting back to the computer to work, but depending on how much he got done during the day he might also tend to computer games, watch hockey, or work out in the basement. My idea of a good time is working on home decor projects or working on home decor projects. Once or twice a week we hang out together and watch ER or do what couples do. Somehow however, around 4 out of 7 evenings end up being used for errands. The list of things to do is endless: do laundry, pay bills, do financial planning, write blog posts, prepare my lunches for the week, go grocery shopping, stay in touch with people, research kids activities, etc.
10 PM: Is my average bed time. Sometimes it’s half an hour earlier, sometimes later, but you bet that I regret that the next day. Lincoln keeps working / enjoying quiet time much later.
2 AM: Lincoln goes to bed. All lights go out. The house sleeps.
May 19, 2013
(This picture shows the Batman that Milo drew this morning. It was the first time that he intentionally drew something specific and it actually turned out to look very remotely like what he wanted it to be.)
Nic: “Felix is sad.”
Milo: “Maybe he needs a friend.”
Nic: “Can you be his friend?”
Milo: “No, I can’t. Mommy is my best friend already. And daddy. And Felix.”
Milo is using his flashlight to check my teeth out: “Your mouth is very broken.”
Milo: “I got a hairy cut.”
Milo while brushing my hair: “Don’t move. I’m cutting your hair and making you a new one.”
Milo wants to drive my car.
Nic: “You can drive it when you are bigger.”
Milo: “I’m gonna drive cars when I’m big and when mommy is small.”
(Funny how they think that our roles will reverse at some point and they get to be the big person while their parents will be the kids. Dream on.)
April 30, 2013
Milo: Oh no, the airplane is flying away! It’s scared of us.
Milo: I didn’t sleep so well.
Nic: Why not?
Milo: I had a dream. And there was a finger.
Nic: Can you say it in German too?
Milo: No, I can’t
Nic: Why not?
Milo: Cause I’m not Mommy yet.
Milo totally out of context: A rocket.
Milo: No, mommy be quiet. I’m talking to Felix. Felix, a rocket, yes or no?
(No idea what he wanted from Felix)
Nic: Please stop it, Milo. You are hurting me. (He was playing cars on my head)
Milo: And then you be sad and cry real loud and wake up daddy?
March 14, 2013
Milo: “The wind is not moving today”.
Milo copies Lilia and says: “Watch this, Lincoln.”
Linc: “Who is Lincoln?”
Milo points at me (Nicola) and says “him”
Milo is trying to pump air in the tires of his bicycle: “I need to put punk in my motorcycle.”
I take Felix’s rectal temperature. Milo says: “I want fever in my butt too.”
Milo: “Stop squishing me, Felix. Mami, Felix is squishy. Like Ava. Ava is ssss … smart.”
Nicola: “You are smart, too.”
Milo: “No, I’m not smart, I’m a big boy.
Milo: “Mami, you are Superman.”
Nicola: “And what is Felix?”
Milo: “Felix is a real small Superman.”
February 26, 2013
Phase 2 of the master closet makeover has officially begun: DIY-ing a bunch of accessories. Up first were the light fixtures.
How these ancient light fixtures made it into our house that was built in the 90s is completely incomprehensible. They must have been rotting at the builder’s warehouse for decades before he decided to finally get rid of them in our lovely home. Too brassy, too teardropish, and too much weird glass texture. They had to go.
So in accordance with our customized his and hers shelf solution I decided to also make a male and a female lamp shade. After finding inspiration and figuring out the best way to spice up plain lamp shades, I came up with a plan: I would literally dress up these lamp shades:
One in a men’s dress shirt, the other one in a ruffly skirt. But they still had to match, so they both had to be navy. Navy is a newbie to our house of muted midtone colors. After hubby convinced me that we needed a blue chair for our bedroom (not the neutral grey that I was voting for), I kinda got used to the thought of adding a new color to our master suite.
Well, after sourcing two different thrift stores I just couldn’t find any ruffles in blue at all. So I went with a thin navy knit sweater with a see-through hole pattern that makes it look a little lacy. Just female enough without being too frilly. This feels more like me anyway. Here are our two candidates:
First, I decided which section to use and cut off any excess fabric on top and bottom of the lamp shade. This left me with two wide strips of fabric:
Then, I broke out my hot glue gun and glued down the strip on one side. I pulled it tight around the cylinder, and glued the other end down. Now all that was left was to cut the top and bottom to a uniform overhang, fold the edges over, and attach them by applying a thin bead of glue under the bottom and top rim. Sorry, I didn’t have enough hands nor light to take progress pictures, but this tutorial explains and shows all the steps I took.
Since I was working with knit fabric, the edges turned out a little too frayed to be pretty. So I bought this half-inch wide ribbon to cover them up. Just glued it on with hot glue as well.
Looking much more finished, there.
Finally, I created a few fabric flowers out of the shirt remnants to really tie the two lamp shades together.
Here they go. Aren’t they a cute couple?
Now I just gotta spray-paint the bases of the existing light fixtures white, and find a way to attach the shades to them. I’ll keep you posted.
February 16, 2013
Before, I was just a messy and boring wire closet. Now I am much fancier, colorful, and organized. Check me out:
And some more fancy schmanzy before-and-after pictures:
This is where we left you off last time:
The first step in customizing our master closet was painting it a custom color. The reality is that I was too cheap to buy new paint, when we had three cans of leftover paint sitting in the basement. So, I threw some yellowish white, medium gray-blue, and navy blue together, and ended up with half a gallon of this muted blue (just a little lighter than the picture):
Very similar to the shade that I was gonna get at the store. The amount of paint was just enough to paint all the walls and backboards of the bookcases. Up next was assembling the shelves. Initially I was gonna go super budget and just get one bookcase on each side, plus some rods to build something like this:
But then I decided to go all out on this project. Just because I had been waiting for this closet for so long and didn’t want to regret any cheap choices that I wasn’t totally happy with. Also I realized that two of those bookcases would fit perfectly in the space. So we got a total of 4 Ikea Billy bookcases, the deeper kind so that all clothes would comfortable fit.
Lincoln’s side was pretty straight forward. For the hanging part of it I got some extendable rods at the hardware store and left all optional shelves out.
On my side we had to hack it a little bit because I needed some taller space for dresses. So we cut the middle board in half, got a laminated board for the center from Lowes (they cut it to the right size and the color and finish was already close enough to the Billy’s so that it was all set to go), and with the help of my handy dandy husband put it all together. Before assembly we had drilled a hole through the center divider so that the rod would just slide through to both sides.
In order to fit both shelves next to each other I had to take the quarter round trim out, so putting that back in will be next on the list. Along with some other detail work:
Paint the walls a grayish blue Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA Build in some racks to maximize space usage
- Install trim around the shelves
Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
- DIY some custom lamps
- DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
- DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
- Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
- Get and hang some wall art
- Maybe a rug
Do the happy dance!
As you can see we already made some progress on accessorizing and dancing as well.
Here is our new hamper ($15 Home Goods) and trash can ($15 Target).
The storage ottoman is from our foyer where we will be adding a storage cabinet instead. Now it is serving to hold my bags and as a seating bench to put on socks and stuff.
This mirror was previously residing in our bedroom, but for the purpose of fully getting ready in the closet without having to wake up the other sleeping person (Linc and I are on very different sleep schedules) it will also find a spot somewhere in the closet.
There you have it , my new most favorite room in the house.