Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas is Changing

Baby Drew 2011

"Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away
Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too

Where are you Christmas
Do you remember
The one you used to know
I'm not the same one
See what the time's done
Is that why you have let me go"

The first time I heard these lyrics was five years ago. AJ and I had just gotten married and were on our honeymoon at Universal. It was Christmas time and they were performing "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

I liked the song a lot, but every year I seem to like it more and more. It strikes a deeper chord with in me each year. This year it is cutting into my heart and I don't think I can ignore it. I mentioned this feeling to a friend the day before Thanksgiving and he joked I needed to help "fight the consumerism". I laughed at that, but it did add to the turmoil I have been feeling.

I am not going to say consumerism is bad or we are not giving presents this year (maybe in the future we won't, but I enjoy giving too much for that any time soon). I am just trying to figure out what Christmas really means to me and my family. What do I want Drew to learn about Christmas? What can we do to really celebrate what Christmas is about? What do we honestly want Christmas to be about?

"Christmas is here
Everywhere, oh
Christmas is here
If you care, oh

If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time

I feel you Christmas
I know I've found you
You never fade away
The joy of Christmas
Stays here inside us
Fills each and every heart with love

Where are you Christmas
Fill your heart with love"

This is the second half of the song. I realize that this isn't exactly the right meaning to Christmas either, but it is a good start.

In light of what Christmas is about, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Since I am never going to have the ability to love or give like God did, I am going to try and love and give to those around me in the best way I can.

Therefore, this year we are choosing to do an Advent calendar. It is a little different though. It starts on December 1 for ease sake and goes through December 25th. Every day has something special for it. Every day has a family tradition, a Christmas carol, and a way that a different culture celebrates Christmas. There is also a Bible verse for every day. The verse relates to either the promise of Jesus coming, the coming of Jesus, or the blessings from the fulfillment of the promise. 

We are also limiting our presents in our house. We are only doing four presents per person: a want, a need, something to wear, and something to read. There are some loose boundaries within this. A six pack of socks would be one need or an Amazon gift card is something to read even if it buys more than one book. We are also going to try to be much more intentional with the gifts we give to other people. We want our presents to be something special, and not just "stuff" to someone else.

"Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Welcome Christmas while we stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand"

I know some people might be thinking this is a silly and dumb thing to be thinking about, but I know I can't be the only one who wants Christmas to mean more. What are your thoughts? Are you willing to change your Christmas and your expectations? What does Christmas really mean to you?

Also, this is not a criticism of the way anyone else does Christmas in their house. We aren't even asking our families to do this. It is just something we feel is important in our house. It is something we are trying to figure out, just like every other step of life, it looks different for every household.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Projects: Finding Free Paint

With all the projects that need painting in this house paint has been an issue. Paint is expensive! Yes, I know it is a cheap way to make changes, but it is still a bit costly when we need as much as we do. Some projects don't need much of a certain color though. 

Well, I was reading an article somewhere and it mentioned contacting your local Household Hazardous Waste program for paint. Duh! I know that UF has a program like that. You can take them your old paint and pick up other people's old paint, for FREE!!!! I am not sure why I hadn't thought about that before. 

I called our county's office and they said yes, they have that program. Sweet! I made an appointment and Drew and I headed to where it is located. The guy there was so helpful. He asked what I was looking for and then found it. There was a whole sway car full of paint! I asked him for some greys, tans, whites, and black. He found it all. It was also some really high quality paint.

Free paint!
I came home with 7 gallon cans and 2 pint cans. They aren't all full, but there is a lot in each can. I do have 2 full gallons and a half gallon of the Ralph Lauren paint in a walnut tan color. The grey gallons are all about half full. The guy also gave me a 3/4 full gallon of white and the 2 pints are black to make some more greys. He was awesome and very helpful.

I am so excited to have new to me paint. I have lots of little projects to work on and a new color for my craft room and maybe our master bathroom. The best thing is if I don't like it I am not out anything and I can take it back and get more. I think this place might become part of our weekly shopping stops.

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Projects: Painting Interior Doors

One of the main things that really bugged me about the new house was the interior doors. None of them really matched. Some are newer wood colored hallow core doors, some were white hollow core doors, and some were solid wood doors. There was no cohesion in the house with the doors. The former owner confessed she had a door obsession (she had random doors stashed in the attic that didn't go anywhere in the house, and we have yet to find a couple of doors that do belong in the house). 

So, one of my projects has been to paint the interior doors white. At least that way they will all go together even if the doors aren't the same. The closet doors in Drew's room will be painted a different color, but that is also a different project. It belongs with painting his room. 

Brown doors before.

Solid wood door before.
It took about four coats of paint to get the doors covered. I actually ran out of white before I finished the back of the solid wood door, it only has 2 coats and is still mildly visible wood right now. I didn't think it was going to take that much primer paint to cover them. I still need to go back over them with a non primer paint to give them a surface that I can wipe finger prints off of.

Solid wood door after.

Wood doors after.
The hallway feels much brighter now that the doors are painted. Joy came over this week and said they looked so much better she couldn't remember what they looked like before, which is what I was going for. At some point we might paint the hallway, but for now I am enjoying the brightness of it.

I still have to paint our master bedroom and bathroom doors. I am having trouble figuring out how to block them off though. It is hard to paint when I am home by myself with Drew because he really wants to help and paint is fun. The other issue is our bedroom door comes right off the kitchen and there are three walk ways that have to be blocked off, and while we have 3 baby gates one walk way is just awkward enough that a gate doesn't fit well. The other big reason this project isn't a 100% finished is I am still out of white paint. That will be remedied this weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Charlie Brown Goes to the Fire Station

This week we took a field trip with our old church's home school group. They went to the fire department. It was a lot of fun and the firemen were great with the kids. They took time to answer all kinds of questions like, "How much does the gear weigh?" and "Can you use those ladders to change light bulbs?" "30 lbs" and "no, because they are outside ladders" were the answers.

We got to meet the firemen that were on duty that day. We also got to see inside the fire station. The guys who work in Osceola County work a 24 hour shift, so we got to see their giant kitchen, and their bedrooms. The kids were kinda impressed they got to sleep there.

Getting to hold a nozzle.
 The firemen showed the kids all kinds of cool things off the truck. The hoses, nozzles, and brooms.

"Look a hose"

"This helmet weighs as much as me."
Drew even got to hold one of the helmets. It was really heavy. The fireman tried to put the helmet on Drew, but he wouldn't really cooperate. He was very happy to carry it around though.

"I could ride in this rear-facing seat."

All the kids got to sit in the back seat and see what it was like to be gearing up during a call. The older kids got to sit in the front behind the steering wheel. Drew was otherwise occupied and missed that part. He was busy climbing all over the little Gator they had next to the truck. That was about the right size for him to drive. One of the firemen even turned the Gator on and it had a siren that Drew could push the button for. I wish I had a picture when the fireman turned off the siren and took the key out. Drew was rather grumpy.

The Lieutenant even put on the full gear to show the kids. He explained that if they are in a fire listen for the "Darth Vader" breathing and not to be afraid of the guys in the big suits. He also explained some nifty features of the suit to us. It has a built in harness that they can repeal with, it has built in knee pads for when they are crawling through the fire, and it has an alarm system that if they stop moving goes off and if that happens all the other firemen rush to their aid no matter what. We also learned that it is tradition for the Lieutenant to have a red leather helmet while all the other guys have bright yellow polycarbonate ones.

This was a great field trip and we really enjoyed it. The firemen were awesome and really great with the kids. They were a so much fun to meet and I am looking forward to taking Drew back when he is big enough to really get what is going on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Projects: Weekend Update

I realized today that we are almost through the month of October. I am not sure where this month has gone. I also realized that I haven't posted in a couple of days. I feel like a slacker. I have all the normal excuses - back out, teething munchkin, and crazy business, none are great excuses, but they are what I have. The project list is getting done even if the blogging isn't.

- This weekend AJ got the pool completely taken down and we even sold it yesterday. We didn't get as much out of it as we wanted, but we got more than it just sitting in our backyard.  We still have one of the liners that the buyer didn't take with him, but AJ said someone emailed him about just buying a liner for their pond. Hopefully, that will work out otherwise we are just going to cut it up and put it out with the trash.

 - We also started painting all the interior doors. I have a post in the works for when I finish this project because it made a HUGE difference.

- AJ made new shelves for the built in DVD racks the house came with. Yay! Shelves that don't fall down if you get close to them.

- The dining room got lots of attention: new curtains hung, a shelf put up and decorated, and the sign I made hung.

- We started playing with the furniture in the den and seeing what works for that space.

- We bought the rug for the eat-in.

- I scrubbed Drew goo off the couch.

- AJ changed the oil in my car.

- We also had someone come over and give us a crazy expensive estimate (more than my car cost) to resurface our cabinets. Needless to say, we aren't going to go with that method to updating our kitchen when we finally get to that.

Looking at the to-do vs. done list it is starting to even out. Though I joked to AJ that for every one item we move to the done column I added three new to-dos. I feel like we are making really good progress. I am excited that some rooms are really coming together. Now, I just need them to stay clean enough to take pictures.

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Projects: Hacking An Ikea Wardrobe

I am going to stop numbering the projects for a while. It is getting confusing to me and they aren't lining up with the days any more. We are getting stuff done, but it isn't working well with the numbers. At the end I will post a tally with links to projects that got a post.

Today, we hacked our Ikea Aneboda wardrobe. We really like this piece we picked up in the as-is section. We need something by the front door to function as our entry way since this house doesn't have one. It just had some quirks we weren't crazy about.


Originally it had slightly opaque doors. In theory this sounds fun, but in practice the whole world could see all the stuff we had in the wardrobe which mildly defeated the point. So, I had some fun Ikea wrapping paper and I put it behind the plastic parts of the door. Under normal circumstances I would have just used double sided tape and called it a day, but in this house that won't work. Drew started pulling the wrapping paper out instantly. I had to get creative. I used clear contact paper to go over the whole back of the door. It seals it from him pulling it out.

Then we had to address the interior issues. We have been playing with different ideas for a while now. We added some Command hooks and that helped with my purse storage, baseball caps, and a bag to hang Drew's shoes in, but the inside was still lacking. Then we had the idea to just build shelves into it and be able to store the baskets we used in our old house for storage. Duh! Why did it take this long to figure that out?

AJ added a center support and shelves to the top part. The shelves were shallow enough that he didn't have to cut down the clothing bar that came with it. As you can see the wardrobe is one of Drew's favorite toys in the house. He spends lots of time pulling all the shoes out from the bins under where he is sitting in the picture. 

Now we have a way to store the camera bag, AJ's work bag, lunch box, and storage bins. Before all this was shoved into the bottom of the wardrobe under the jackets. It was a mess, but now it seems so nice. I think this is going to help with the organization problem in the wardrobe. We even have space under the jackets to still store our reusable shopping bags. I am excited that this hack worked!

Drew approves this project.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

We Went To the Animal Fair

We went with our church's play group to Green Meadows Petting Zoo. What a lot of fun! It was a really large group so we got our own tour guide to lead us around the zoo. I wish my back hadn't been out because I would have enjoyed staying and letting Drew play more on all the cool tractors they had.

The kids got to milk a cow. The older kids in the group (4-5 year olds) thought it was a lot of fun. The tour guide offered to let Drew try it, but he was a little unsure of it and decided that climbing the bleachers around the cow was more fun. We did learn that a milk cow like this can produce 10 gallons of milk a day, and fill a bath tub in a week. That is a lot of milk. 

There was a train that we rode around the zoo. Drew loved this! He does so well sitting on things that are not his rear-facing car seat. I think he would have spent all day riding the train. He was a little grumpy when we got off, but was happy enough to wave "bye-bye" to it.

After the train we went to the chicken coop. I felt bad for the chickens with almost 20 something small kids chasing them. Luckily, they took it all in stride. Drew didn't really know what to do with them. He just watched them. When the tour guide held a chicken for him, he sort of petted it, but didn't know what to do with it.  He spent most of his time crouched down watching them.

Watching the chickens.

Petting a duck.

He did a little better with the goats and sheep. I think they looked more like the dogs and cats he is used to.  He still took some encouragement to try to pet them. He was way more interested in their barns than the actual animals. We did get him to at least pet the goat. Then he ran off to unlock the barn doors for them.
The sheep were expecting Drew to feed them.
Even though he didn't understand feeding the sheep food, he understood putting the hay into the bowl. Unfortunately, it was the water bowl and not the hay bowl. I think had we given him a bit more time he might have tried to pet this little goat. He stood there and watched him for a while. 

At the end of our tour we got to go to the pumpkin patch and pick out a pumpkin. Drew was getting really tired by this point of the day. I couldn't get him to really cooperate for pictures, but I still got some I loved. He enjoyed picking them up and trying to chuck the pumpkins. They were all about the right size to make throwing balls for him. He even made a friend who helped him up a couple of times when he fell over. She loved rubbing his fuzzy head and telling him it was alright when he fell. It was really cute.

We had a great time at the zoo. We will probably go back, but he needs to be a bit older and understand what is going on better. Maybe when Nana and Poppa come down we can go with them and Poppa can tell him all about the animals. All in all it was a fun day and we got to spend time together and getting to know the people from our church a little better.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Projects: Playing Catch-Up

I haven't posted in a couple of days, but things have been rough here. I pulled out my back by falling over one of Drew's toys. This hasn't slowed us down on much of anything except house projects. I can walk mostly ok, but I can't bend over or squat which is what most of the house projects need. 

AJ has still been working away on things. I don't have pictures of the things he has been working on because they really aren't picture worthy, but they needed to be done. I am very thankful that he has worked so hard for me on all of these things.

  1. Patched a hole in our bedroom wall.
  2. Dug up a stump that was by the front door.
  3. Worked on the laundry room and wood shed.
  4. Started taking down the pool.
  5. Re-installed the access panel in the gust bathroom.
Hopefully, my back will get better soon and we can tackle some bigger projects! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

31 Projects: #8, #9, and #10 - Front Yard Clean-Up, Sign, and Fall Decorations

Today was a work like mad people kinda day. We started with the best intentions of working as soon as we got up, but there was an estate sale on our street. We couldn't resit that temptation. Luckily, there wasn't a whole lot of stuff we wanted or needed. I did buy a book for my Momma and a piece of fabric for some Christmas stuff.

What it looked like when we bought the house.

When we got home we decided that since the weather was cooler we should tackle the front yard. Ugh! We have gone round and round with what to do with the front yard. The previous owner was a bit of a hoarder and this included plants. There was no rhyme or reason to how she planted things. Which made it hard to decide what to save. She also had a "rock collection" that she left us when we moved in.

Up close and personal with the jungle.
What we decided was to pull up all the plants we know we don't like. Thankfully, Mother-In-Law's tongue is much easier to pull than the Wandering Jew in the backyard. There was a lot of it. We filled four lawn bags full of it. We also pulled up these weird cup flower things. Can you see how little I know of plants? These cup plants hold water and with the mosquitoes we have had this year the more we can get rid of that holds water the better off we are.  Everything else we just hacked back so we could run the mower over it.  

Attack of the Mother-In-Law's tongue.
I know we have a lot of Mondo grass in the area, but it was so full of weeds and vines that we couldn't clean it out. Hopefully, it will come back. We also figured out that we have Blue Star Runner, which is a pretty ground cover over most of the front yard. YAY! I wanted to plant something like this since it is nice and soft and doesn't require the mowing that grass does. It also apparently does really well in the shade.

This one pile was up to my knees. It is taller than the clippers in the ground.
When we got everything cut back and pulled up we had 10 bags of yard trash. That is a lot of stuff for a fairly small area. AJ put it by the fence to wait until yard trash pick up. He also piled the stones by the road hoping someone would take them. Well, while I was putting Drew down for his nap the former ower (who is renting the house next door) came over and asked if she could have the bags of the plants and the rocks. Yes, yes you can. She took all 10 bags and all the rocks! She is nice, but she is odd, and we don't have to wait until Wednesday to have all the bags removed.

Much cleaner looking.
We aren't sure what to do about the palm tree things next to the tree right now. Since we didn't know what to do we left them for now. They aren't hindering us from putting up the swing we have for Drew and that was one of the main reasons for cleaning out the plants. We are having to let the ground sit for a little while, too. It is fairly torn up now and we need to mow, but that is just going to make a mildly muddy mess. Even though it isn't 100% complete it looks SO much better.

During our lunch break on the yard I got a chance to finish a sign I started on Thursday. I love this song. My mom used to sing it to me when I was little,and I think it is appropriate for our house. I plan on putting it into our dining room. 

AJ won't let me use real pallet wood because of these reasons, but he is great at sharing his scrap wood and also buying me pieces to make things with. He cut everything to the size I wanted and then put it together for me. I think picked out what I wanted on it and divided it up and drew lines onto it to right on.

I wrote everything out with a pencil. I don't press too hard when I am doing the lines or the letters. I keep it light enough that I can erase it and re-adjust if I need to. After everything was about the way I wanted it I went back and painted over it with white and red craft paint. I got the letters to the shape and thickness I wanted. Then I let it dry. 

When it was dry (AKA when I got a chance to work on it again), I pulled out the lovely can of stain I have that I am in LOVE with. I brushed it on and let it sit for 3 minutes and wiped it off. I love this stain. It is water based and I can work with it on the kitchen counter tops. I don't have to worry about it staining them or my hands because it cleans up with soap and water. 

I am not sure how I feel about the red paint under the stain. AJ says it is a bit hard to read, but I really wanted some contrast. What are your thoughts?

While Drew and I took a nap, AJ pulled out my Fall decorations for me. When we woke up it was time to turn the house into Fall. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Fall. It is my season and I think I decorate more for it than Christmas, maybe. I don't have any pictures of it yet because the house is a wreck and I don't have everything completely up yet. But, the project of finding the stuff in the shed is done and a good chunk of the decorations are up.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Projects: Update

We didn't finish a project today. This bums me out a little bit. We were trying, but nothing is "officially" done. Though, we are in the middle of some fairly large projects and when they get done it will be great.

AJ is still working on the laundry room build out and his wood storage shed. I am working on a couple of decor projects that take longer than a nap time to complete. We also had to make a Wal-Mart run. Some how that always eats up a good chunk of our night, but we did get a few things to tackle some more projects. 

We also chose to clean out my car tonight. Though not a project on our list it needed to be done. Drew dumped a bag of popcorn in the backseat and it was EVERYWHERE. So, we pulled everything out of the front and back seats and vacuumed and cleaned out all the random bits of trash and toys. It made me feel much better to have that done.

I have high hopes that we can get a lot done this weekend. We are working really hard on things, but I feel like we are falling behind even though on our list we have actually gotten 14 projects done (though not all have made it to the blog). We have a lot on our plates right now, and some nights projects aren't the highest priority. Drew is also in the midst of CRAZY teething. He is cutting SIX teeth right now, and that is making him a bit grumpy, clingy, and not his normal perky self. 

Even though there are no pictures or finished projects I wanted to post to at least say we are working on things. We will have 31 projects done by the end of the month. I know it. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Projects: #7 - Caulking the Guest Bathroom

Today's project that was completed was caulking the guest bathroom.  I had hoped when we sold the other house that I would never have to caulk again, but things don't always work out. Luckily, it is just cosmetic stuff in the new house and not re-caulking every single baseboard in the house.

Most of the trim and woodwork in the guest bath was left unfinished. I know this isn't the end of the world, but it REALLY bugs me when I am in this bathroom. There were gaps around all the door frames and the mirror. Caulking makes things look nice and finished to me.

There were also cracks and gaps around the window frame in the shower and around the ceiling where they just hadn't got a good coverage of caulk to start with. After the trouble we had with our old shower I want to stay on top of caulk and grout not holding up. Luckily, these areas aren't likely to get drenched with water, just a little spray and humidity.  I am not even sure the cracks showed up in the picture.


All told it didn't take long to do the whole bathroom. I did have a couple of areas I had to get creative with because the previous homeowners had been creative with their DIY skills. Even though it wasn't a big project or even the most impactful, honestly, no one else will probably notice it, I am glad it is done. It makes me feel like the bathroom is "right".

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Projects: #6 - Creating Charlie Brown

Today's project was making Drew's Halloween costume. Drew is going to be Charlie Brown. I made the shirt for the costume because they don't make Charlie Brown costumes for people as tiny as Drew. I did find a 2T one, but I think that is going to be to big on him.

The first problem I ran into was that they don't have blank yellow t-shirts in the 12M size. I could not find one anywhere, even Hobby Lobby didn't have yellow ones in this size. So, I bought a 4T/5T size and cut it down. I used one of Drew's normal shirts to see how long to cut it.

I then used hem tape to finish the bottom. I tried to sew it, but the yellow thread I had was the wrong yellow. I probably could have gotten away without finishing the bottom, but I did want a nice clean edge.

 Next, it was time to create the zig-zag pattern that goes on the shirt. This was a pain to figure out. I finally cut a strip of contact paper and used a post-it note on the diagonal. Then, I cut it out and pressed it on to the shirt.

I put four paper towels folded up inside the shirt. I then used black fabric paint and edged the contact paper. I did a very fine line around the contact paper and then pulled up the contact paper.

I switched from a small fine tip brush to a thick fill in brush. It took a while to paint the whole shirt. I did the front and let it dry, then flipped it over and did the back. When the back was done I did the sides to try to line up the pattern over the seams of the shirt.

It looks a little wonky in the picture, but in person it looks great. I am excited to see it on Drew. We have a photo shoot tomorrow for him. I think it is going to be great! I will post pictures when we get them.