Saturday, May 23, 2015

Featuring...The Front Garden

How long has it been?  Too long. 

I got a job!  A wonderful, flexible, perfect part-time job.  I love it.  It's hourly.  I work from home, I can volunteer at the school occasionally and I pick the kids up every single day.  Heaven!

But it's not very conducive to blogging.  Sorry, dad.

So now that I've explained where I've about I show one of the (few) projects we've done lately?!?

Like I said, it's been too long.  Way too long.  Last summer, we demolished and rebuilt our porch.  Then we got as far as painting it...and stopped.  Which was fine - it was September.  The garden can wait. 

Painted...and done.

Here's October.  Which is exactly how it looked the following April.  A bunch of dirt and some leaves.


Until last weekend, when the kids went to Grandma's house for a Victoria Day mega-sleepover!!!

I decided to keep it simple.  No flowers.  Low maintenance.  Modern-ish.

Hakonechloa macra "All Gold"

In the front,  I chose a shade tolerant yellow ornamental grass.  Yellow, because it POPS in front of the green porch.  Shade tolerant, because the front garden gets minimal direct sunlight. 

It faces east, so it gets morning sun...which the car mostly blocks since it's against our parking pad.  I learned long ago, don't fight the sunlight your garden gets - work with it.  So with any luck, this variety of Japanese forest grass should be happy here. 

And if it's happy, I sure will be too.

Buxus "Green Gem"

Behind that, I chose a row of boxwood bushes.  This variety, "Green Gem", is different because it tolerates full sun/full shade.  I've planted other bushes here over the last decade.  Some have worked (hydrangea, variegated dogwood - kind of) and some have not (spirea, burning bush - never turned red in fall, and countless full-sun/part-shade perennials).  Sunlight has been the problem.  So finding a variety that can tolerate a full range of light gives me hope these will survive, too. 

I stressed and slept on and changed my mind and revisited and reconfirmed my simple plan for two rows of bushes and grasses.  A few times.  Multiple times.  Then one more time.  But when the boys were gone and we had a few open hours, Steve decided to pull the trigger. 

Newly Planted

We visited our local nursery and almost fainted at the prices.  So right then and there, in the 'ornamental grasses' section, we googled a nursery outside the city and took a little trip.  Best decision ever. 

Islington Nurseries had a variety of boxwoods in a smaller size (which were 20% off at the register - surprise!) and multiple containers of the grass at a better price than downtown. 



Combined with the pop of color at the door in the background, I just love pulling up to our house.  The front garden is complete.  Finally!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fiddle Leaf Figs Do Not Like Me

I love to garden.  I can't wait to dive into my backyard and get dirty.  I don't have a black thumb. 

But fiddle leaf figs do not like me. 

Actually, I think they just don't like my bay window. 

Fig #1

It faces north.  It gets little indirect light.  The semi-transparent shades that hide the neighbors' cluttered backyards don't help.

Fig #2

But the first one lasted almost a year.  So I got a 2nd one.  And then it died.

I'll spare you the sadness.

I swore off plants.  Nothing alive will live here.  Instead, I started googling other options.  Artwork.  Sculptures.  DIY something!  Nothing inspired me.

But then I remembered Modern Jane's Instagram shot of a vase filled with greenery.  No flowers.  Just green.  Yes, it's alive...but how much light could simple greenery need...???

The very next day, a West Elm coupon landed in my inbox. 

Isn't that awesome?  Such a great view through those shades.  Light be damned, I can't live without those shades. 

And I filled those vases with something tall, something ferny and something small.  I need the height in this window.  Anything short looks really awful.  Filling the space at least 3/4 high is a must.

The vases were an investment.  But the branches and greenery?  So cheap!  That bundle of branches was $15.  $15!!!!  You can guess how much those little green sprigs cost.  Less than a latte.

Cherry Blossoms

The branches are blooming.  I guess I got flowers, afterall.  She said low light would be fine, they just might not open up...but I see some!!!

I can almost ignore what's outside that window.  Almost.  Just look for little flowers.

View from the entryway

I left the price tags on the vases, just in case.  I wavered between loving the new setup and feeling like I lived in a West Elm store when I walked into my house. 

But after a few days, when Steve noticed I made the change, he gave me a thumbs up.  I think those vases are staying ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easy-To-Change Artwork Display

My last post was a guest post about my oldest son's decorating skills in his own (new) room.  And how I cringed.  Then got inspired.  And thought about more...

Here's more!

First.  Let's recall.

So. Much. Better.
Even close up!

I've created a monster.  It's my own doing.  I'm okay with it.  Repeat.

Repeat?  Yes!  Other side of the room?  Why not! 

Again.  BETTER. 

Waaaaay better than a calendar duct taped to the wall.  That was the before-before picture I missed.  I was too busy slowly peeling back tape hoping it wouldn't take strips of drywall with it.  Ugh. 

So this wall.  Same painted wood with hooks and command strips as before. 

Plus a ledge.  IKEA's RIBBA picture ledge.  I didn't use command strips there.  Just 3 screws into the wall, one into a stud.  The frames are much heavier than paper with a bulldog clip, so I didn't want to risk it. 

It's perfectly shallow enough for this wall in this room.  Because there ain't much space between the foot of the bed and that wall.  There's enough.  But no extra.  It's perfect!

More close up?  Yes!  

It perfectly hides the outlet and cat5 connection for a future TV.  (All our bedrooms have this now and it's dreamy.  The bedrooms on the 2nd floor have them in the middle of the wall instead of at the baseboard so we can mount a TV without seeing wires.)  I made sure to space out the hooks above them so a double-wide art collage can cover them. 

Because a 9-year old doesn't need a TV...yet.

I chose the ledge because having framed photos is just as important as his art.  And he can change the pictures out as he wants.  But who's gonna swap out a signed photograph from #70 TJ Lang?!?!

Really.  Who's the monster here?

We still need to put something in that upper left corner.  I'm thinking a clock.  Something big?  Silly?  Modern?  He was thinking a Green Bay Packers wall decal.

I know who the monster is...!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guest Post: Hook It Up!

I'm guest posting over on 4mothers1blog again!

It's a follow up to my last post on Jake's "new" room and the pictures he randomly taped to the wall. 

Sometimes inspiration hits at the perfect moment.  And sometimes it works out so well, you need another post to show how you've used it further.  Stay tuned...!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Jake's Room...?!?!

I find being a stay at home mom is rewarding because your boss (kids) are ones you love (mostly) and the work is steady (until they fire you).  As if turning 9 wasn't enough, I feel like my term of employment is ending soon with the oldest.  He's got his own room.

Old Guest Room

Pardon this super old, pre-reno, spring-in-the-window-is-mocking-you picture of the guest room.  This is the tiny 3rd bedroom we have on our 2nd floor.  It's next to the bathroom, to the right at the top of the main staircase.  It's the room my parents stay in when they visit, but otherwise it's empty. 

(I can't believe I didn't have a real "before" picture of this room taken after the reno.  I feel like I've photographed every inch of the finished project to death.  I searched!!  But, to be honest, this room changed the least from before to after the renovation.  A new window, new light fixture and a few throw pillows are all that were different.  There's your visual.) 

Empty, until one night when the 3 boys sleeping in the same room wouldn't fall asleep. 

Me: That's it.  Jake, sleep in the spare room.

Jake: No!  I don't want to!!!

Me: I'm sorry, but you have to do it.  whisper: I think you might like it.

And then he kinda moved in.

While I appreciate all the details you can see in this picture...his toddler bedspread, his old pillow, alarm clock, hats, sports stuff and random picture taped to the wall...something more permanent had to be done. 

So we hit IKEA.

Now, Jake is my son with a mind of his own.  We didn't walk in cold turkey.  That would mean the first item he saw in each department would come home with us.  Oh no.  I had a strategy.  And that strategy was browsing the catalog first.  When I turned the page to a dresser, I pointed one out to him.


He loved it.  Then we went to the store and he searched for it.  He helped me put it in the cart, load it into the car and put it together (mostly) until I fired him for slacking.  Actually, he heard the Spongebob opening song on the TV downstairs and disappeared. 

So Far, So Good

It's a nice pop of color in the corner of the room.  And the dimensions are perfect.  Plus, he's a kid and I need furniture that's not precious.  And bedding that's not precious...which he also picked out.

Because those pictures move everyday and I don't want to care where that tape ends up.

Which is my next challenge for this room...!

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Newborn is 9

So, just yesterday my firstborn arrived.  Well, that's what it feels like.  Except yesterday he was 8.  And today he's 9.


But I swear this was yesterday. 


Because I can remember him creeping.

1 Year Old

And learning to count.

3 Years Old

And cutting his hair too short.

5 Years Old

Or leaving it go too long.

7 Years Old

But now I'll always remember his last night of 8.

8 Years and 364 Days

Those 9 years went by in a flash. 

9 Years Old - No Smiling

So we went out for pizza at lunchtime :)

Happy Birthday, my Jake.  I'm saving my tears for double digits!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Growing Like Weeds

The days are long, but the years are short. 

I am living this cliche.  I think it happened somewhere during the holidays.  Visiting with friends and family you haven't seen in a while who all say:  "Wow, your boys are getting so big!"  "Oh my gosh, Jake is so tall now."  "Henry's catching up to his older brother!"  "George sure isn't a baby anymore." 

Then in mid-January, we started back up at the community center.  We hadn't been there since last spring, but this mom needed after school sports classes for some energetic boys.  It just so happened that their favorite counselor is scheduled to work the nights we're there.  They've known him since Jake was 3, Henry 2 and before George was a thought.  The look on his face when he saw the boys again was utter shock.  It was then I realized they really are growing up.

Literally.  Jake is now less than a foot shorter than that counselor. !!!

These weeds are growing in many other ways, too....

Someone's potty trained.  Halle-frickin-lujah.

I am not a master in potty training.  I actually hate it.  Diapers are a pain in the neck, but oh so convenient.  It's a beautiful thing when you don't have to navigate public bathrooms with a child who touches everything on, around or near a toilet when peeing.  Not to mention the standoff I had with my oldest when trying to potty train him at 2-1/2 or 3 years old because everyone said I should.  It was hell.  So I gave up, let it go, and made sure he could do it by the time Kindergarten came around.  And he did it.  In one weekend.

I have no idea how Henry did it.  Poor middle child.

But George?  I think he could have done it for months already.  He only needed some underwear of his own to get him going.  He started the first week of January and just did it.  Only one accident last week...he was having too much fun playing with his toys downstairs, so he forgot and soaked his pants.  Won't do that again!  Lately, even his overnight pull-up is dry in the morning.

Finally.  After 9 years of diapers, we are almost done.

Then there's this kid.  Henry has a lot of scratches on his face at all times.  He's the lover.  He needs to kiss, hug and be close to someone every minute of his life.  Unfortunately, that person is usually George.  And George lets Henry know he doesn't like it.  But Henry doesn't listen.  His heart won't let him.  So George pushes and pushes and pushes away until he scratches.  Poor Henry.  It's not good.  That scratch on his cheek is a scar.  But it's hard to blame George when I see him being suffocated.  By love.  Oh my heart!

But those scratches under his nose?  Not from George.  See, Henry is also curious.  You can warn him, beg him, even tell him directly not to do something, but he will do it.  He has to figure it out for himself.  When Henry wandered upstairs to find a band-aid (also not George related), he was gone for a long time.  Then he came back downstairs with those marks on his face.

Me: Hey!  What happened to your lip?  What are those marks?
Henry: Oh nothing.  I bumped into something.
Me: What?  When?  Just now?
Henry: Yeah!  It's fine.  It doesn't hurt.
Me: I don't understand.  What did you bump into?
Henry: Nothing!  It's fine!  Really!!!
Me: (getting up from the couch)  Show me.

He leads me to the bathroom, pulls out the toothbrush drawer and picks up Steve's razor.  My eyes get really big.  He shows and tells me how he went up his cheek, down his other cheek and then (in a fast voice) "went side-to-side" on his upper lip.  Aaaaaah!  Did it hurt?  "Yeah."  Are you ever going to do that again?  "No!!!"

And this kid.  The eldest.  His behavior's been off lately.  So over the holidays, I googled "9-year old behavior".  He's almost 9.  Actually, in two weeks he's 9.  Wait, one week from today.  Jesus Christ, he's almost 9.  I have a 9-year old.  What the hell happened???

So when I googled, the responses were "pre-teen" this and "pre-teen" that.  Wait, whaaaa???  Pre-teen is 9?  Well, yeah, the pre-teen age group is 9-12, especially when referring to behavior.  So we have a pre-teen.  Jesus *%^#*$^ Christ!!!!  A pre-teen!!!!  I'm not ready.

But he is.

Before the school winter break was over, I went to a brunch at a friend's house.  She lives in the neighborhood, but a few good, long blocks away.  As soon as I got there, I realized I forgot something at home.  An ingredient for the sparkly drink.  It wasn't worth leaving the party to get it.  But I felt bad for forgetting.  So I texted Steve: "get Jake to bring it over!"

It was perfect.  He was home.  I was there.  We both had our phones.  We knew how long it would take him.  Jake could walk from home to me and back while Steve and I texted his departure and arrival.  And...his route would be the same as the walk to and from school.  No brainer.  My palms were sweating. 

He showed up at the door with delivery in hand.  In the other hand was a post-it note with my brunch friend's address and Steve's phone number.  I gave him a huge hug and tried to lean in for a kiss.  Nope.  He just said, "Ok, ok, I gotta go, I only have 10 minutes to get home." 

That's my pre-teen boy!!!