Tuesday, April 23, 2013

House reno and DIY updates

So I'm not sure how I've squeezed in any crafts, but I guess if a mom of six can, so can I!

We've been putting our tax return to good use around here. Having a baby and buying and updating a house all in one year is pretty good in Uncle Sam's eyes :)

Something we've been wanting to do since we moved in was update the kitchen appliances. But we thought that was something that might have to wait a few years. I'd been browsing craigslist for a great bargain on a stove, because ours was starting to be very sensitive. And of course there was that annoying bottom drawer that's half broken. And then our microwave got even worse. It was already slow, but it was getting even slower. And it didn't have a turntable.

So, we started looking at microwaves. At least $100 new (we had to have an over the range one). And I put out search alerts on craigslist. I really wanted stainless, but after weeks of waiting, I could see that nothing was going to come up on my limited budget. So I decided to switch to white. Easier to find and easier on the pocketbook. And probably more in keeping with the home values in our neighborhood.

Well the deal of the century popped up. A white smooth top GE stove, for $200. We decided to crunch the numbers, put off some other things and get it. Then a few days later, John saw a microwave at a thrift store for $18. With the mounting hardware. No lie. Then a friend of ours remodeled their kitchen, and we got their old dishwasher, for $40. It took several weeks to find the fridge. I really wanted a side-by-side. Ice and water in the door, heaven! However, this must be the holy grail on craigslist. They don't come up often, and several times, they were gone within hours, before I could call. Then, there was the width of our opening. Many were just an inch or two too wide. We thought we might have to get a top and bottom style. But then those would usually be like 5 inches narrower than our current top and bottom. And I didn't want to lose that much space.

Finally, one came along. I didn't even negotiate. I bought it just from one photo, and John picked it up the next day. I wish I would have negotiated. The ad said like new. Like, not! But, given all the factors I had (color, width, price), we are keeping it. And I like it. It's just got more scratches and dings than I ever thought a "like new" fridge would have. That part was a total lie on their part. They were also smokers. Thankfully a good cleaning and baking soda took care of that. It's also an off-white. Not almond, not cream, just an off white. Unusual color for a fridge really. But- it still blends in just fine.

So, by the time we bought everything and sold our old appliances, we were able to replace everything for $250. I'd say that is pretty reasonable. Of course it would have cost us more in labor and installation, except we have great friends who are always willing to lend a hand. Even if that means fighting with a microwave at 9pm. Why is everything always twice as hard as you think it will be? The only thing that was an easy switch was the fridge. Everything else required modifying. Thankfully my father-in-law eletrician fixed our stove plug. For some reason the height of the old one and the new one didn't match up, so it sat 2 inches out from the wall until he fixed it.

And speaking of dads who fix things- he also installed a vent fan in our bathroom. I am so glad! I really don't like the constant moist smell our bathroom had. He also fixed our laundry room light (no more fumbling with laundry in the dark!) which turned out to be only loose wires in the switch. And our front door deadbolt now slides easily since he widened the opening with his router.  It's the little (big) things in life! All that labor would have been a couple hundred bucks with a handyman.

So once the laundry room was complete, I had to add a new rug, and get something up on that blank wall. I wanted to get away from the all green theme. So I added in bold colors. Rug purchased at Ross and mirror gifted to me by mom from Hobby Lobby.

The way it was when we bought it. It makes me queasy to see this photo. (From the MLS listing)

The kitchen after paint but before new appliances. Notice the blank wall to the right of the fridge



The $18 microwave. There are hairline cracks in the plastic. For $18 I don't care!
$40 dishwasher. That's really a half inch too big. I thought they were all the same size! Oops.

The $250 "Like new" fridge. I do love the ice and water in the door!

The $200 stove. No complaints here. We love it!

This isn't new, but I took a photo just because it was one of the best things we changed in the kitchen. The prior non-gooseneck chrome faucet made the sink depth like 8 inches. Awful!

I had to brag on our orchid. I got this as a gift when I left my old job last April. A year later John has kept it very happy and healthy. It made it through its dormant winter season and sprouted 12!!! new blooms this year! He uses worm tea (worm pee) to fertilize it. It's so healthy it had to have a new bigger pot! I love looking at it above our sink.
So that's the kitchen update. I like buying "new to us" things. It's both eco-friendly and budget-friendly!

Then I've also been tweaking a few things outside. John has been working on the grass. Right now it's mostly brown and dead (on purpose). But the new grass seed is down, and just barely showing growth in some areas. I can't wait to take a photo once it's green again. Right now I'm jealous of our neighbor's mowed (but green) weeds!

But if you remember in this post I talked about our mailbox. That we hated. That other people loved. People who don't live here. People who didn't know that it is small, and leaks, and looks antique which is certainly not my thing. I started off white, with a gold top. Then we sprayed it black to make do.
Then John finally dominated it. It required renting a jack hammer, a lot of sweat, and then a grinder to cut down the pole that held up the address sign. But it is gone!

Gone. Nothing but a big hole in the ground now. The green grass/weeds gone. The juniper against the house, gone.
The new mailbox. Package sized for John's business.
So the new mailbox was great for John. Functional. But to me it was a big black utilitarian thing. And I wanted some flair! So I decided to be really trendy and go with chevron stripes. I found a stencil on Pinterest, modified it to my needs and cut it out on cardstock. Then I bought a paint sample from Lowes and used white and turquoise that we already owned (the blue hue is Sophie's wall color). I want to paint the post the taupe color also. And the shutters and porch rails on the house. But that's down the road. Hopefully by the end of May, especially since my sweet husband offered to do the painting, after I asked if we could hire it out :)

Ok so don't look closely at the stripes. From 2 feet away they look fine. If you're driving by the look perfect. Up close, they look hand done. Which they are. But I did have a stencil. Let me tell you- painting a stencil is tough. I definitely would recommend using spray adhesive to make the stencil stick in place. I had a lot of bleed through and had to go back with a tiny brush and redo all the edges. I also hope this lasts a bit because I used latex interior paint on a shiny metal mailbox that has a ridged texture to it. This also made stenciling tough.

But for now, I like it. I even painted out house numbers the teal and re-hung them vertically. I'll show that once the yard and shutters are done.

Oh, I also tried my hand at mesh ribbon wreaths.
Excuse my wilted raffia. And that's the mailbox before the monogram, from a more flattering distance :)

I'll be very excited to show you the outside of the house! I love getting it personalized. I'm trying to kick the 80's old-man-owned monochromatic scheme it had when we bought it. The corrugated metal awnings make it tough to give it a modern look, but since they get us a homeowners discount I just pretend they're not there :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I've been everywhere man

Ok, so I've only been to Georgia. But I think we have done more traveling in the 20 weeks Sophia has been with us then we did in the last 6 months before she came.

2 trips to Tampa, 1 to Baton Rouge, and now one to Georgia.

We visited John's sister and her boyfriend for the weekend. John's mom and her husband invited us to join in on their visit to his sister and paid our gas. Otherwise we'd have missed out.

While we were there we also visited his great uncle (who is about the age of his dad). He and his wife live on a hill top and have a small farm. It was so fun! He also has a river that runs on the property and for many miles beyond. We kayaked it as a group. Sophie and I watched evening chores and looked at the animals, and John milked a goat! The farm has 3 Great Pyrenees, goats, hens, roosters, rabbits, guineas (a bird, not a rodent), a turkey, and they also hatch chickens and guineas. We got to watch one crack out of it's shell! This was my first time meeting this great aunt and uncle (I had met their kids once, who are our age and have kids of their own) and it was so nice, they are great people.
Sophia enjoying the wrap around porch at the farm

We also went out for Mexican because it was Bill's birthday. What a fun time with like 15 people at the table!
Birthday boy embarrassment

Our last night we took an impromptu jaunt over to Stone Mountain. I've never been, and since we were fairly close John's mom treated us to the laser show. We only had enough time before the show to grab dinner. Too bad because the walking trails and park area looked really inviting. Maybe someday we'll go back.

 Sophia did really well on the car rides, but it just really is a toll on her and us to travel that many hours. We can usually add 30-40 minutes per feeding to our drive time. A 6 hour trip means 2-3 feedings, so it's more like 8 hours. And I miss her when she's in a rear facing carseat all day! In fact, on the way up I got in the back so I could play with her. She must've been lonely too, because she greeted me with a HUGE grin!

In fact not too long after this she laughed for the first time. It was the cutest little giggle ever! I thought I would explode with adoration. She's only done it once or twice since.
Sleeping on the way back home
Then the day after we came back from Georgia, John's dad and grandma came and visited. His dad helped us tremendously by doing several improvements/fixes in the house. I am so glad to have a vent fan in our bathroom now!
He also treated us to a NASCAR series race here locally. I've never been and it was pretty exciting, and also VERY LOUD. I am glad we didn't take Sophia. She has headphones, but even I could've used some fr myself there!
At the race
Four generations

There's been lots of little things going on around here, hence my lack of posting. I want to write a post on some house updates and DIY, as well as how WeightWatchers is going. Now that I've finally got the photos uploaded, I will hopefully get those written some time this week.

 I'll leave you with some random photos. Sophia is just growing and growing. I enjoy each day and I'm also sad to see it go by so quickly.

Saturday morning fun. Her feet don't quite touch yet, so I've put a pillow under her feet now.

Who's that cute baby I'm looking at?

She sits with us for dinner now. Big enough to sit in the high chair! Sniff Sniff (No food yet though)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Time Flies When You Have a Baby

I knew it had been a while since I posted. So long that I had to go back and look at my last post to see how "far" in life I'd chronicled here. I can't believe it's only 4 days short of a month! Where did the time go.

Well, the time went to work, cleaning, traveling and lots of feeding, rocking and kissing.

I love Sophia so much, I could just squish her. Sure sometimes I wonder when I'll ever get projects completed since they are squeezed into naptime and bedtime. Sure I care a little less about tidiness these days. But cuddles and kisses are more important. I do have to admit it still wears on me mentally when I can't check stuff all the to do list.

What all has been going on around here? Well, Sophia had her first Easter. She was a doll baby. In fact just the other day from afar someone thought she was a baby doll :) She is just that pretty. I don't know how I got such a dainty attractive baby.

We went out to our church's camp ground Easter afternoon. They had an egg hunt for the adults. Two egss had big prizes. John found one and it had 2 movie tickets, a Chick-fil-a gift card, $20 and some candy. Jackpot! I'm married to a winner!

Two days after Easter Sophie had her 4 mo appointment. She is right on track for development. She was 25 inches and 14.5 pounds, putting her in the 75-90 percentile for height and the 50-75 percentile for weight. She is now in 3-6 month clothes. She rolls back to front all the time. This has disrupted her sleep some since she hasn't figured out rolling back just yet. She also has laughed a few times. It is the cutest thing, her little giggle. She and I both light up when she laughs.

She's starting to chew more. I ordered her a Sophie Giraffe. I hope she likes it! I'm convinced there should be a baby gear rental service. It's such a shame to buy something only to discover your child didn't care for it or outgrew it too quickly. I don't know if it's teething, or just getting older, or the change in environment (we took a trip) but her routine is so off. Her eating is hit and miss, she VERY easily distracted when eating, she's napping less and at inopportune times. At least she still does pretty good at night. But I'm really anxious to get her back on some form of schedule or routine again, but that's hard to do when you work all day then have a function at night too.

Work has been pretty busy. In fact I didn't leave until almost 6 today. I would have left at 4:45 but when I made my final rounds a fellow co-worker was near crying she was so overwhelmed. I miss the time with Sophia and I was pretty tired, but I was glad to make her Friday afternoon better.

I've told work I would like to go down to 2 days when our staffing levels allow, but with one person out on bedrest and then maternity leave, and another going on maternity leave in 6 weeks or so, I'm not sure how soon that will happen :(

I'm finding work still is affecting my breastfeeding. At least once a day I think about quitting. Mainly because I can only find time to pump once at work, and even then I feel guilty if we are busy. And when are we not? I call it the triple P break- Pump, Pee and ______. Inevitably potty time and pump time run into each other. By the time I potty, setup the pump, pump and put away the pump, I'm gone like 30 minutes.

At this point, if it weren't for the Weight Watchers points and that I think overall it is helping me to lose weight I would probably quit. That's really the only motivation I have left. We had gotten on the right foot again as far as Sophia latching on, provided I didn't let her get too hungry. I was only pumping at work and I loved it. But then the distraction phase set in. And then I worked more. And the last 3-4 days she is back to crying and frustration at the breast. It's kinda pitiful and hard to watch your baby arch away from you and scream. The rejection hurts me a little. Maybe more than a little. Pitiful baby.

Overall motherhood is great. I just wish it didn't bring so much angst and guilt sometimes. But when I feel that way I try to soak in the sight of my smiling baby and take a deep breath. 

At the dog beach

Popcorn and a movie anyone?