Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Traveling w/Kids

Well, our vacation travels began Sat morning at 3 am.

You read that right -- 3 AM.

Techno and I set the alarm a little before 3, (yep, we KNEW we wouldn't be able to drag ourselves out of bed on the FIRST try) showered, dressed, and began waking kiddos. By 3:40 we were packing the cooler, giving directions of 'brush your hair and teeth, put on your shoes, make sure you have your pillows,' and shuffling the last minute items to the SUV.

Finally, by 4:10 am or so, we had all the munchkins loaded in the car and were rolling out of Dodge.

Normally, getting the kids up THAT early, resulted in all 6 of them falling back to sleep within the first hour of the trip, allowing us to drive till 8 or later before we stopped for breakfast.

Appears as though times have changed.

I think the older kids fell asleep for a bit fairly quickly, but those little ones?  Not so much. I think they slept for MAYBE 40 minutes not long before the older kids woke up and began talking of their grumbling tummies.

Me, however?  I think I slept MOST of the way.  LOL!

Before 8 am we stopped to eat our traditional McDonald's breakfast.

Oatmeal, coffee, cinnamon rolls, sausage english Mcmuffins, sausage biscuits, and a round of orange juice and we were 'on the road again.'

We decided to eat all our meals 'on the go' this first day to make the trip end a bit sooner.

Here's where I simply MUST brag on our stupendous children.

Other than an occasional, "I have to use the restroom", we never heard any groanings or grumblings about the long trip.  No 'Are we there yet?' or 'How much longer?' was heard.
(Unless you count mommy who MAY or MAY NOT have whined such phrases a time or two quietly to Techno-genius.)

During the trip I passed out a few 'prizes' to keep the children occupied.  A coloring book w/crayons,  new cheap dolls that can be used in pools and oceans, a notebook and pen, some lotion, suction cup balls, nerf-like blow dart guns; small trinkets of the novel variety simply to keep their minds and hands occupied.

They watched 1 movie - Frozen - the first day.

They played Gameboy once the first leg of the trip.

We stopped for gas and potty breaks several times allowing all to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and dole out snacks and lunch.

Other than that, they occupied themselves and each other THE. WHOLE. TRIP!  Limited bickering and squabbling took place.  THANK YOU, LORD!

Finally arriving at the hotel, we checked in and started dinner.  Another family tradition of microwave noodle meals in the room while watching 'kid TV' before changing into bathing suits and heading to the pool.

(It's quite a treat to watch Disney Jr or the Food Network now that we don't have TV other than DVD's at home.)

Swimming and hot tub fun then back to the rooms where we watched a little more TV while putting on our PJ's and preparing for another short night's sleep.

Techno and the boys in one room; the girls and mom in the other.

5am - wake up time.

A quick shower, breakfast at the hotel, then off and running again.

Day 2 was much like day 1 except we stopped to get Texas BBQ and actually 'sat down' for lunch.

Another movie, 2 game boy turns, a few more 'prizes', and a couple naps made the second day of driving just as smooth as the first.

We arrived before dinner on Sunday.

The girls were excited for their 'room of bunkbeds' and the boys made dibs on their rooms.

The older kids and Techno unloaded the car while I unpacked everything they brought in and distributed it to the various rooms.

The girls 'got lost' a couple times as they meandered from floor to floor to floor.  The stairs alone are quite impressive.

(Why did I bother bringing those workout DVD's and weights?  
Getting my workout just going up and down the different floors.)

Finally, we headed out to find some food for dinner.

All in all, a GREAT start to our family vacation.

Tremendous kids, a fabulous hubby, a touch of 'smart' pre-planning and our 2 day drive was smooth sailing.

Now the REAL vacation can begin with fun in the sun, trips to the beach, and lots of swimming, laughter, and playing.

Let the memory making commence.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part III

Who knew the entertainment center re-do would take a full THREE posts?  Not me, that's for sure.  In my idealistic mind, I had it done Sat afternoon.  Ha!

I should've know better.

Techno and I RARELY accomplish projects with such speed and agility.

I was just so pumped from the easy closet fix that..... I had my head in the clouds.  :-)

However, we DID manage to hang the shelves last night. Today Techno will put the chains up, I'll wrap them in jute rope and then......

...... we'll begin reassembling the electronics.

Oh boy!


I'm going to make a little pitstop at the Goodwill in town in search of 'decorative' pieces I can add to the new space.

BASKETS are high on the list to 'camouflage' some of the electrical components that are.... well..... less than decorative.

The kids are excited.  I'm excited.  Even Techno gave his accolades on the semi-finished project.

(He's often surprised when my 'projects' come out kinda cool.  We work quite differently, you see.  I get a 'vision' of what I want something to look like but can't quite express it well.  He is all about pre-planning and being able to visualize exactly what it will be in the end.  Sometimes, my plans work, sometimes they flop extravagently.)

This one ----- W-O-R-K-E-D!!!!!

Here's the before picture.  You might remember it's a single piece of furniture angled in the corner of the room so everyone can see the TV when it was in use.  A nice piece, but not fitting for our new space.

Functional, but that's about it.  LOL!  Notice the commercial beige on the walls too.  Not so cozy.
Now, the reveal!!!

Front view!  Love the softness of the sage green on the walls and how much more open the space feels.

Angled view.
 Cozier and so much  more open.  Not crowded -- well, except for the cord issue.

Doesn't it look SOOO much better?

I can't believe how much it opened up the room. Which sorta makes no sense as the wall shelves are significantly bigger than the free standing center was.  But..... who am I to question?


Granted, I still have to find a solution for those CORDS!!!!!

I may make 'scrunchies' to put around them - or - we may purchase cord conduits to put over them on the wall and paint those.

Decisions, decisions.

I'm still working on the 'decorations' for this area, but that shall be a process.  Apparently baskets aren't that readily available around here.  :-)

Advice needed:
What would you do to 'hide' all those cords?
Would you paint the cedar chest?  I plan to make a 'cushion' for the top of it so it can be added seating for guests.
What about the black speakers?  I'm considering painting the sides either sage or bone white.  What would you do?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthy Living Wees and Woes

I haven't posted lately about my healthy lifestyle progress.

No real reason.  Just haven't had much << new>> to share.

I'm staying the course.  Using a healthy eating approach to life in general.

I'm not depriving myself, but I'm not over-indulging myself, either.

Through the week, we have pretty healthy fare.  Lots of fresh veggies - raw or roasted.  Lean meats.  Complex carbs.  Yummy fruits for 'sweets'.

Weekends are often a bit more 'lax' as we go out to eat on Sunday afternoons and usually have 'snacky foods' and leftovers on Saturday so we can cram more time into our house projects.  ;-)  Albeit, I'm getting much better at ordering salads and baked chicken when eating out.  Of course, appetizers are often ordered, but that's where MODERATION comes into play. :-)

Exercise has probably been my biggest downfall.

It seems to be feast or famine on that front.

One week I'll easily get 5 days of my exercise videos in then the next week 0 days.  Crazy.

That's one area I'm trying to find a better balance.

The other pitfall I struggle with greatly is drinking water.  Now that I've allowed myself to have coffee again, I tend to NOT drink water nearly enough.  Sigh.

Balance.  The key!!!

I feel much better in general.

I've lost 16-17 pounds since I began this journey in Feb 2014.

Not bad.

I'm fitting clothes I haven't fit in over a year.

Pretty cool.

It's slow.

Sometimes it's agonizing.

But.... it's becoming a true lifestyle change.

I can't say I NEVER eat unhealthy foods.  I still like chocolate; ice cream; candy; brownies; even fried foods, but... I only eat them in moderation now.

Wow -- never thought I'd be capable of that.

I still eat carbs.

I eat protein in healthy portions.

I eat a lot of veggies and fruit daily.

Some days I find I don't eat ENOUGH!

Yes, you read that right.  Sometimes I eat too little.  I'm working on that.  Three healthy snacks and 3 healthy meals each day is my overall goal.

I often wish I could find that 'magic bullet' and lose 20 pounds in one month, but.... I then remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I'm in this for LIFE!  Not just for our beach vacation.

As I alter my mindset and my eating habits in a healthy manner, I'm setting myself up for LONG TERM success.  Not just success to fit in a specific dress or look a particular way for an individual event.

I'm also setting a wonderful example for our children for the rest of their lives.

I can tell as I walk around our neighborhood, as I shop, when I play with the kiddies.....

...... I..... Have...... More...... Energy!

I FEEL better.

Plus I think I'm beginning to LOOK better too.

Yes, it's MUCH slower than I'd like. Yes, it's a daily struggle.  (Although, admittedly the struggle is getting easier.  It's becoming second nature.  Yet it is still something I have to think about and plan.)


That's the goal.

The end isn't quite in sight from the perspective of the scales, but in reality????

.......the end isn't the actual goal.

Life long change IS my aim.

THAT'S a forever event.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part II

Best laid plans....

Never seem to come to fruition!

Well, my 'ideal master plan' of buying paint on Fri morning, starting to paint Fri afternoon, and hanging the entertainment shelves Sat morning..........

........ didn't quite happen as planned.

While shopping, I felt congested and as if my sinuses were 'filling up'.  I thought it was just the result of a 'sneezing fit' I had that morning.  As the day progressed, my head felt worse and worse.  By the time I got home with the groceries and all my painting supplies...... I.  Felt.  Horrible!  As if my head just might explode.

I even had a slight fever -- or at least felt a bit warm to the touch and felt feverish on the inside.

To bed I trundled.

Sleeping fitfully for a couple hours, I emerged a little before dinnertime.

By then I decided the painting could wait till Sat and we'd just push back hanging of the shelves for a few days.  :-(

The littles headed off to Kids' Club and Techno, Jacob, and I watched Saving Mr. Banks while we ate popcorn and chicken for dinner.  (When the main cook is under the weather, dinner options get interesting.)

Before bed, I took a dose of Nyquil.

That seemed to have done the trick.   It knocked me out AND cleared my sinuses.

After a quick snuggle round at 7am, Techno and all the girls headed into the living room for breakfast and I (in my Nyquil induced haze) rolled over and went back to sleep.  Finally emerging around 9:30 am, I had a cup of coffee, sat in my chair, and slowly began to feel human once again.

Not sure exactly what time I started, but midmorning I began removing all the electronics from the entertainment center. (Boy was that a doozy!  I'm not a fan of cords and let's just say THERE ARE A LOT OF CORDS IN OUR ENTERTAINMENT EQUIPMENT!)

As I mentioned at the start, best laid plans seem to fail miserably.  Once the entertainment center was cleared and dusted, the plan was to roll it back to the girls' room to await it's 'transformation'.  Apparently our hallway had a different idea.

It. Didn't. FIT!!!  So..... it's currently on it's side, resting in our kitchen.  LOL!

The initial step accomplished, I set up the boards for the 'new' entertainment system on saw horses and put on the first coat of 'bone white' paint.

While those dried, I began 'cutting in' around the edges of the wall with the lovely dried sage.  I chose NOT to tape off the ceiling and baseboards simply b/c I'm a bit lazy and I didn't want to be up on the tall ladder any longer than I needed.  ;-)

Since I only did 1 full wall and a 1/4 of another, it didn't take too long to accomplish.

Then.... the first coat.  Again, pretty quick - relatively speaking.

By the time I finished all that, it was time for a second coat on the boards.  Easy peasy.

Unsure of what I wanted to do with the trim, I decided to 'just try' the bone white around the trim of the entryway into the kitchen.  It looked 'quite white' as I painted and I wasn't sure I loved it.  But... I kept going.

Once I finished the first coat of that, I decided it was a go. I  did the floorboards along the painted walls as well.  (Have to admit, now that I've done them in the bone white, I do---- in fact ---- "LOVE IT"!)

The wall still needed to dry a bit so it was a good time to take a break.

Anyone who's ever painted, knows you should never sit down.  Once you do....... you. just. don't. want. to. get. back. up.

Since I already broke that rule, I decided to take a little break and eat a snack.

After that, the walls and boards were dry.

Flipping the boards, I painted the first coat on the second side of all three.

Next up...... cutting in for the second coat. Ah, the lovely tall ladder.  My favorite!

After that was accomplished, getting the second coat on the walls was fairly simple.

Ah, the lovely trim -- again.  Did I yet mention how much I dislike painting trim?  I'm not a neat painter and I absolutely despise taping off, so..... I get paint everywhere.  Yeah, I know, not the sharpest tack in the box.

That completed, the final coat on the boards was next.

Phew!  All the painting was done!!  (Well, on the first wall and a fourth.)

Now, waiting for Doug to have time to hang the shelves.

Waiting is not a strength I possess.  I'm rather impatient. But.... tonight, after work, we'll get started.

Can't wait to share the 'reveal' when it's all said and done.

Then, I may have to take wagers on how long it'll take me to finish painting the rest of the walls.  LOL!!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part I

Since Techno-genius was on such a roll with re-doing the closet.....

Since we were scheduled for a trip to Fort Collins.....

I had the WONDERFUL idea of having him complete our 'Wall Shelving Entertainment System'.... NOW!

Yeah, he loves me.

So, Tue, while we were in Colorado we made a 'not so quick' stop at Home Depot.  There we picked up boards to use as our shelves, brackets to support them, chains to hang them, and rope to make them 'rustic' looking.

This project should be pretty easy, except......

BEFORE Techno can hang the shelves.......

I have to paint the shelves..... and the wall on which the shelves are going to hang..... and the doorframe on the wall that the shelves are going to hang.   All BEFORE Sat morning.  (It's Friday morning now.)


Guess what I'll be doing today?

First...... a trip to town to get paint.

Second..... remove furniture from the wall/room, tape, and PAINT, PAINT, PAINT!!!!

Could be a LONG day.

Could be an interesting day.

I'm going to call it a GREAT and EXCITING day!

The house is becoming more and more 'homey'.  More and more cozy.  More and more 'OURS'!

That's the thrilling part. The fun part.

The hard work is worth it.

Our current entertainment center.
Yeah, nothing to write home about.
A nice piece of furniture, but doesn't really 'fit' our space and purposes any longer.
It's at an angle so all seating arrangements can actually SEE the TV when it's in use.
Makes for poor use of the space and a crowded 'feel' to the room.
Looking forward to the new look!!!

Can't wait to share the reveal next week.  I'd say tomorrow night, but I don't want to jinx ourselves.  LOL!

I do have a lot of painting to accomplish today/night.  :-/  Along with the typical school day and household chores.  Hmmmmmm........

Also.... stayed tuned to what will become of the clunky entertainment center.  Any guesses?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Closet re-do -- take II-III?

Upon moving west, I was so excited about the room off the laundry that could become the 'family/kids' closet'.

Since seeing 19 Kids and Counting, I've wanted a 'family closet'.

This 'storage' porch was PERFECT for just such a room.

The only problem?  This room was used for loose storage and had NOTHING on the walls that could  hold or store clothes.

No shelves.

No bars.

Just boxes, a free standing metal 'garage like' shelf, a Sauder type cabinet, and an old cracked laundry tub.

What to do, what to do?  Especially on a limited budget.

Initially, we purchased several 'free standing' clothing racks at Walmart to hold all the kids clothes.

I was ecstatic!!

We. had. a. 'family'. closet!!!  It really did make laundry easier.  Just wash, dry, hang!  Voila.

However, time went on.

Those free standing racks? Well, they don't hold up so well to LOTS of clothes and little people pulling said clothes off of them.

Slowly..... they...... began.... to tilt, sag, and even fall apart.

Such disrepair resulted in clothes on the floor; shoes being 'lost'; mom getting grumpy.

I lamented my 'wonderful closet' more than once to Techno-genius.

I shared my lofty plans of putting up 'permanent' rods around 3 of the 4 walls in the room - 2 layers of rods to be exact.  Not to mention my dream of shelves above the rods around the entire perimeter of the room.

"Imagine the storage", I mused.

Finally, those dreams have become a reality.

Techno built my dream closet.

He put up the clothing rods.

He fashioned my shelves around the room.

He.  IS. My. H-E-R-O!!!

Prior to the closet re-build, we had 4 free standing racks along the side walls and back wall plus 2 in the middle of the room - a total of 6 clothing racks.  That allotted us lots of hanging space, but made for a very cramped room.  The last wall housed the wooden cabinet for 'kitchen storage' and hat/glove storage and the shelves with the baskets for the girls socks/tights/undies/tank tops.  There was literally a small path down/between the middle racks on either side and THAT. WAS. IT!  

Once you added baskets of clothes to fold and shoe buckets, it was overflowing and ALWAYS a mess.

I had planned to take before and after photos, but, alas..... those 'falling down' clothing racks combined with the 12 and 14 year olds who are responsible for putting kids' laundry away made. for. QUITE. a. mess!  I was a tad too embarrassed to take, let alone, SHARE such 'before' pics.  Ha.

So, the AFTER photos will have to suffice.

Here's the NEW and IMPROVED 'kids' family closet'.
Looking IN to the closet from the laundry room door.
Don't you LOVE the shelves above?
Enough hanging space for all 6 kids' clothes AND the snow pants.  YAY!!!
Not to mention space UNDER the clothes for each kid to have their own shoe container.

Looking to the corner - this door leads outside.
I plan to hang a clothes line out this door for spring/summer
drying of clothes.
Next to the shelf of baskets will be our extra produce fridge.
Can't wait.
It's currently in the garage
and freezes everything in the winter.

Looking at the opposite corner - ALL the kids clothes.
The WONDERFUL shelves around the whole room.
Just imagine all I can store there?

I'm so pleased with the final product.

The kids are thrilled with the open space.

All in all?  A HUGE SUCCESS!!!

Go Techno!  You rocked another home improvement project.