Thursday, August 29, 2013

At Home And Done...??

We're back.  It feels like it's been forever.  It's really just been since March. 

How can March feel like forever?  It's been:

6 10hr car rides
5 beds
4 houses
2 countries
1 same suitcase each through it all

Most of those suitcases are unpacked.  (I still need to hit a craigslist jackpot for the boys' dresser)

Nevertheless, it was all worth it.  WORTH IT.  The five of us have been home -really home- for 4 days now and it feels great.  Like exhaling deeply while finding your zen and getting a massage all at the same time.  That good.

Almost as good as seeing this move in pile of stuff...

...go down to this.

Two bags.  Yes!  Go through one bag a day and it will be done by the weekend.  Don't mind that outdoor furniture to the side, it will also be exchanged and out of the way this weekend.

But it doesn't mean we're done.  There's much left to do.  And it's all in the details, which I love. 

Like styling.  Which I'm not that good at.  I know it when I like it, but it takes me a while to get there. 

Let's take the livingroom.  I have the old curtains.  I have the old rod.  But the window is not centered on the wall so the curtains have to trick the eye.  Not too hard, right?

Forgive the bad shot - this was the iphone picture I sent to Steve to show the bad sheet on the window was gone.  But the curtain didn't look right to me.  Too squished.  Too much white on either side.

So we did this.

Better!  Much better.  But the curtain on the left is ready for a flood.  It doesn't hit the floor.  (There's a subwoofer in the way, but believe me when I say it's at least 4 inches off the ground) 

We're also struggling with a bit of a privacy issue at night, which we've never had before.  It's that open concept thing.  Who knew a linen sheer can't block people from seeing directly into your kitchen like a wall could? And guess what pulling those two narrow panels together does for the look of this room...

My plan is to double up the panels on either side and go wall-to-wall with the curtains.  Both short ones can sit on the right, while I buy two longer ones to go on the left.  Then, at night, we pull only the inside panels together for privacy. 

As for the couch, I'm testing out pillow placement.

A sectional confuses me.  How many pillows are supposed to be on it and where?  So far, this scenario is working well.  Corners only.  Not in equal numbers.  Add a blanket. 

We spend tons of time in this space, probably second only to the kitchen.  Exactly what I hoped for.  So once I figure out the comfort factor I'll move on to the fabric choice and style factor. 

The coffee table arrives this weekend, so kiss that IKEA Lack stand-in goodbye!!

Lastly, the wall.

Not this wall.  We love this wall.  Not going to touch it.  Just need to find the RIGHT items to put in that niche up top.  Be picky.

This wall.  Steve is talking me into his vision of a picture wall.  Hmmm.  Sounded too clunky and chaotic at first.  I resisted.  But it's really the only place we have on the whole main floor to put a group of photos or pictures together. 

The more I consider it, the more I can see it working.  It needs something, so the plan is to give it a try.

So, yes.  We are home.  And the reno is done.  But is a home ever done?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Still Away

The official nickname has become "the vacation that would never end."  Mostly because we've been without my better half (who's at home working) for over two weeks and it's taking a toll on me and the boys.  Not to mention him.  Very much him.  But we'll be reunited soon and it will feel so good.

In the meantime, we've been having fun.  Get ready for a family/kid filled post.

Miller Park
What's a great way to entertain two growing boys?  Baseball works.  Major league baseball totally works.

Roof Open
I asked the ticket guy for the three best cheapest seats.  Without skipping a beat, he said the bleachers.  Done.

They liked watching the game, but they liked eating even more.  We were in line for hot dogs when the Brewers scored a home run.  We missed Bernie sliding down into the mug of beer, balloons and fireworks.  But they were pretty good hot dogs.

We didn't catch any balls, but we had a great time.  NFL visit, check.  MLB visit, check.  Lucky kids, check. 

What else do you do to entertain three little boys?  You revisit what works.  For us, that's fishing.

Except this time, we caught 12 fish.

Another Winner
It must have been our lucky charm.  My Aunt and Uncle came in from upstate New York to visit for a few days, and my Uncle bravely joined us on our fishing trip.  He may have baited worms on hooks about a thousand times, but it worked. 

Lucky Charm
Henry wouldn't leave his side.  I wouldn't either if I caught 5 fish with him.

I know, I know.  I was just watching Jake's pole while he hit the men's room.  Until I caught one or three.  Then I got hooked.  (That was too easy...)

So after we caught half the pond and threw it back, we hung out at my parents' house.

And shot off rockets.  What else do you do with three boys?  I took a bunch of videos, this was the only picture.  Uncle Mark set the rockets.  My dad set the ignition while taking turns with each boy.  This was a hit. 

Dare I say, the first rocket may have been the best only BECAUSE it landed in the tree.  We spent time running after it, looking up in the maze of branches, and launching baseballs/footballs/tennis balls after we found it hanging waaaaaaay up beyond our reach.  It's still up there.

But what do you do when you're baseballed, fished and rocketed out?  You change the scenery.  And head for my brother's house.  Bro = Pool.

Oh No.
Unless you run into a major accident on the tri-state highway that shuts down all lanes heading north and south. 

Hangin' Out
Then, if you follow me on instagram (@lovingalbany), you see us hanging out on the side of the highway with hundreds of other people for 2-1/2 hours watching smoke and helicopters.

And huge tow trucks. 

I know, it could have been worse.  It could have been us.  That would've been way worse than stitches.  Knock on wood.  Twice.

The world's longest trip aside, we made it to my brother's house.  And had a mini-reunion.

Sister, Mother, Aunt
Uncle, Father, Brother
It was all worth it.  And then some.  Such a great time together :)

After my Aunt & Uncle left on their long drive home, we wrapped up the weekend with some kids in a box...

...a little sweatin' it out...

...and a little group artwork.

I only put this last picture in because my brother is a guy's guy.  So seeing him make chalk art is pretty funny.  Anything for the kids, right?  HA!

Here's a shot from our last morning of the weekend at my brother's.  It's something that will stay with me for a long time.  The boys constantly ask when they can go in the pool every morning and my answer is always "after 9-zero-zero."  They are stripped, trunked and splashing by 9:01.  I'm sorry, neighbors.

And lastly, I can't not mention my husband who is working like a dog back home.  Tidying up post-renovation without his wife telling him what to do and kids getting in the way.  But look at what he does when that happens.

Storage Towers
This is the top half of the storage towers in the kitchen.  He said he googled how to style them.  I love it.  And I love him :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

At Home And Away

We're still away. 

This vacation feels awfully long for the husband who's back home in a quiet house.  But he's getting work done.


This is the pre-me leather club chair.  I caveat it with "pre-me" because anything we own that's before our relationship started, we have deemed expendable.  If it breaks, nobody gets upset.  If we sell it, nobody feels hurt.  If our kids destroy it, we might not try to save it.  But if we do, we don't totally care if it doesn't work. 

Except this leather club chair is nice.  Buttery nice.  So we didn't pitch it during the reno.  Instead, we decided to actually try to save it.  Meaning, I left a bottle of leather cleaner under the kitchen sink and sent an email to the hubby last week telling him where it was if he gets bored.  And look what happened.


EEK!  Buttery. 

I know, it's not perfect.  But it will do.  It will do just fine.  I've been told, if you look really hard, you can still see the outline of a stick person and an "H" on the seat.  I still wonder if it was Jake, Henry or George who did that.

Speaking of seats, our modular outdoor furniture came.  We decided to tweak it slightly based on the deck size and layout.  Objects look larger when they show up on your deck.  But even though I haven't seen the furniture (or deck for that matter) in person, I found the perfect pillows.


I found these in the window of a store.  I drive past this store to get to SuperTarget where my brother lives.  It takes all my effort not to turn into the parking lot of this store every time I go to SuperTarget.  Which is every day.  That's because the store is this:

I'll only be a minute

I limited myself to the outdoor pillows I saw in the window.  Husband, you should be proud.  I could spend the day in this store and justify all items purchased.  Easily.

Lastly, I need to make up for the lack of kids appearing here over the last few months. 

We had fun going fishing.

Henry watching his bobber

This kid caught a bullhead and a turtle last time we went fishing.

George reeling in his bobber

This kid was in an infant seat strapped to a stroller.

Jake caught a Bluegill!

And since he caught NOTHING last time, he was due.  It was the smallest bluegill I've ever seen, but it was a catch. 

Looks bigger than it is

And release.  We'll take it.

We also had too much fun in the pool.


So much fun, we got a split chin and ended up in the hospital.  


Getting six stitches at the hospital his cousins were born in was not his idea of fun.  But he was brave and his mother didn't pass out.  That's a win-win.

Stay tuned for the second half of our vacation...I can't promise stitches are as bad as it gets.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It's All About The Kids

If you've been reading my blog for the last 5 months, it's been all about the house.  Well, life this past week has been all about the kids. 

So here's a little run down of our summer escape to the good old midwest USA.

It started like this:


Ok, stop right here.  If you have three young kids and you put them in a car for 10 hours, you can only hope and pray this happens.  And chances are it won't.  Not unless you drug them or bribe them or deprive them of sleep the night before.  We did none of that and it happened.  It happened for a good 45 minutes.  And those 45 minutes were amazing.

We pulled into my parents' driveway in Wisconsin later that day and set up camp.  Setting up involves taking over their house.  And yard.  Thank goodness their yard is big.

Where's George?

The biggest hit was the water balloon filler.  This piece of plastic provided over an hour of fun.

The only thing they couldn't do was tie them.  I sacrificed two fingers for that hour of intense rapid balloon filling and no fighting.  Ended up being totally worth it.

Not sure my dad will appreciate finding all the balloon pieces in the yard next time he's out on the tractor.

But George loved it.

Water balloons can't fill a whole week, so we took a 2-hour road trip north to Green Bay, WI.  

If you are a sports fan, related to a sports fan or ever watched the sports report on the evening news between September and January in any year you have been alive, you may have heard of the Green Bay Packers.

Last year was our first visit to Green Bay during Training Camp.  This year was our return trip.  It only got better.  I have to dedicate a whole post to the 48-hour adventure that was full of amazing memories.  But here's a sneak peek.

Yes, that's him.  We ran right into Aaron Rodgers.  It was amazing, he signed autographs, we're texting buddies.

We also went to Lambeau Field, aka: the mecca of football.  This may appeal to nobody but me. 

We watched many Packer games growing up in WI.  It is part of life here.  When I grew up and left WI, the Packers became more important to me.  It's a connection to my home, to my family, to my childhood.  That I'm imposing on my own kids.  And they love it. 


Back to the rest of the week.  All time inbetween parents and Green Bay has been spent squatting at my brother's house in Illinois. 

The best part of being there is the connection between my youngest and their oldest.  They are 2 months apart, so when we get together, it's like managing twins.  Not that I know anything about twins.  I live across the street from a family with twins and I can't even begin to imagine how they operate.  But when George and Charlie get together, I feel like I get a glimmer here and there of how life might be when you have to buy two of everything. 

Even buckets.  Two buckets.  For their heads!