Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life In The U.P., Eh . . .

Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech.  Houghton, Michigan 2012.

Anna and Benjamin catching a ride on a dogsled! 

Petting huskies, snacking, trying to stay warm in the windy 5 degree weather. 
Admiring the ice sculptures, meeting "Blizzard" Michigan Tech's husky mascot, and the kiddies wishing they got a ride in the horse drawn wagon. 

Anna and Benjamin LOVED watching the broom ball.  It looked super fun . . . something I'd like to try since it doesn't involve ice skates!  And the pic of Ben-Ben laying in the snow cracks me up.  He was just tired out so he lay down for a rest.  (He's squinting because snow flakes are falling into his eyes. . . not from crying or anything.  :)

All tired out on the ride home! 
My dad asked if the older kids and I wanted to go up to the winter Carnival the first weekend of February, and I was pretty excited since I'd never been.  And it's fun to get out of Marquette . . . or even out of the house during these winter months.  hehe.  My mom offered to watch Caleb since it was just too cold for him to do an all day thing.  Thanks mom!  Apparently the sculptures weren't as intricate as in years past because of the warm weather leading up to the carnival, but they were still pretty cool to look at.  And the high light was the dogsled ride Anna and Benjamin got to try.  Thanks for a fun day, Grampa! 

 UP 200, 2012

Every year Marquette hosts the UP 200 Dogsled race.  This year, they shortened the race because there wasn't enough snow.  I took the kids last year - Ethan was out of town at a clinical.  So this year, I stayed home with Caleb, and Ethan took the kids . . . and they picked up my dad on the way because he always likes to go.  (I love that my dad is retired!  He is always looking for things to fill his time - and they often involve his grandkids!  Anna and Ben have had so many special "Grampa Time"s lately.  Yay!)

Our 2001 Kia Sportage.  I bought it right before we were married, and Ethan sold his car.  It was our only vehicle for 4 years, then became "Ethan's car" when we got the Montana.  It's been such a good, dependable car to us.  But on to, um, newer things. . . . and hopefully just as dependable.  :)  The 2012 Chevy Sonic, hatchback. 

Final thing -  so Ethan and I (mostly Ethan) just got a new car.  The Chevy Sonic - hatchback, standard.  (I still need to learn how to drive it . . . although I've driven standards a couple other times, and my first "lesson" went okay.  And good grief, I can play the piano, I'm sure I can get this down. :)  We weren't going to replace the dependable Kia for a few more years, but we had the "perfect storm" with our taxes this year, and had some extra cash we were completely surprised with.  Seriously - family of five, plus Ethan only started his job in September so on paper it looks like we do not make much.  hehe.  Plus, Chuck (father-in-law) had a whole bunch of GM points he wasn't going to use, plus this car gets 40 mpg on the highway, plus it's the safest car in it's class with 10 airbags and has traction control/ antilock breaks, etc.  When Ethan drives to Munising twice a week for work (about an hour away), he gets paid his regular wage for travel time, plus paid per miles driven . . . now the reimbursement will seem like more since we'll be spending less on gas.  That makes sense, right?  :)  And yes that means that Ethan gets paid a very nice amount just to sit in his car for four hours a week and listen to an entertaining book on tape, or some good music.  Yeah, we're still getting used to this whole "real job" thing.  hehe. 

Anyway, I think this will be good timing after all, because we're hoping to get at least five more years out of our 2006 Montana . . . then we'll always just have one car payment.  Okay, enough boring stuff - we're just pretty excited about our new little addition.  It's fun to drive and has some pretty cool features that neither of us has had before . . . but I'm sure they're pretty normal in cars now.  Mp3 plug?  Awesome!  XM radio free for six months?  Cool!  On star free for six months too?  Nice!  :)  And there's cruise control . . . which the Kia didn't have.  And as you can see above, all three kiddos can fit in the back . . . we've been having a lot of fun squishing them in there to go places.  How can we not, with the awesome gas mileage it gets??  

Okay, so there's my house-free update - but next post is going to show some projects I've been doing around here.  So you've been warned. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let's Finish This . . . .

Well, I thought I'd finish this whole "house reveal" in one incredibly long post and, FOR THE LOVE, get it over with.   hehe.  ***The previous three or four posts show the rooms not in this post.***  Feel free to just click on the first picture to look at those, and skip all the details I'm going to write up.  Really, I will not be offended - I won't even know.  :)  First up, the Boy's Room.  I think their room is a smidge bigger than ours, but we like the idea of having the kiddos rooms right by each other.  And our room is not really that far away (by the kitchen . . . we can still hear everything).  Before anymore explanation . . . here are some pics.  BEFORE

 The walls were a gold-ish yellow . . . not really what we wanted for the boys.  The carpet had to go for many reasons, including Caleb's allergies/lungs/asthma.  And I didn't like the valances either.  As you can see, the original maple floors in the boy's room were in the worst shape of all. . . and the sanding/sealing worked like a charm.  Everything came off except one little oil spot under their bed!  We painted three of the walls a light tan-ish color, Valspar Almond.  One wall we wanted to accent red, and I can't remember the name of the red we chose, but it is exactly what I was hoping for . . . and I hear it's pretty tricky to pick the right red.  We also painted their ceiling, and someday I'll probably do their trim and closet doors in ultra white. 

I wanted to take a second to say that we had some much appreciated painting help one Saturday in December.  We had some friends from church come help, and some family too.  Anna's room, the boys room, and the winter wheat (brown) in the living room were close to completed in that day alone.  Thanks everybody!!!  :) 

Okay, now on to the AFTER

 (Sorry these two are fuzzy!)

(The middle pic below is in the hallway outside the boy's room - Caleb's nook.  We filled those little shelves with baby toys and books.  Mostly 'cause anything that goes there right now will just get played with anyway. :) 

 So, lot's of colors in here too. . . just more "boy-ish ones" than Anna's girly room.  We already had all the furniture for this room.  I did buy the red valances ($5 each at walmart), the rug (the "splurge" $30 at Target), and bedding ($15 each at Target!!)  Again, like Anna's room, I love that it's not too "little kid-ish" and is something that can grow with them easily.  Although, I don't know how long that bunk-bed will last as the boys get older.  :)  Besides the colors - white, grey, tan, red, primary colors, etc. . . I was going for a subtle travel or world theme.  Hence the maps, and a few airplanes around the room (love the two hanging from the ceiling in the corner!), and now there are two pictures of Ethan - as a missionary - with scenes from Australia above the bookshelf.  (The pic of Ben-Ben has been switched out.) 

I love that this also feels like a happy, cozy room for my boys.  It easily fits everything we were hoping to get in there - book shelf (hand-me-down), toys, rocking chair (given to us), bunk beds, pac-n-play - with plenty of floor space for playing still.  The pac-n-play that Caleb sleeps in is usually against the wall under the world map.  When he's done with that, we will put the Great Grampa Rayhorn desk in that spot.  And I think there will still be plenty of space in the room.  

So, things I still want to do in this room - maybe paint the trim/doors ultra white, maybe paint the bookshelf grey, put backing on the two open grey frames so they'll be like two little bulletin boards, put trim around the radiator and a "table" on top.  Not too much . . . it'll happen soon-ish.  Really.       

Okay, now for the "kid's bathroom."  It's right by their rooms, so they call it theirs.  And none of them take showers, so they still use ours for the tub . . . and really, we all just use the one we're closest to.  :)  The wall color was the same gold-ish yellow from the boys room that I didn't like, but I really didn't want to bother painting another room.  BEFORE: 
It has the dark wood laminate flooring that is in the kitchen and other bathroom.  (Our bedroom is carpeted, and the rest of the house is the original maple floors.)  I wanted the "kid's bathroom" to be a little fun, but not too cutesy or little kid-ish.  And I wanted to find stuff that went with the color that was already there.  I'm super excited about the deals I found, and about the overall look.  AFTER

The shower curtain is just perfect for this bathroom!  (And was only $10!!)  It's fun and has polka dots, but isn't too kiddy.  It incorporates all the colors - black, brown, white, gold.  We got a few brown and white towels, white step stool, froggy toothbrush and soap holder (had to make it a little fun for them), a white circular clock, and black trash can.  The black "bubble frame" was a perfect find at big lots for only $7 dollars and just goes perfectly with the shower curtain/bathroom.  There are two pictures each of the kids getting baths, or showering with daddy as babies.  I love it.  :)  Oh, I also switched out the mirror that was in here for a larger one we had, and I also leaned the small white mirror behind the sink (we already had that too), so the kids had a mirror they could see in to.  
The picture of the ceiling is on here because there was only one lighting panel when we moved in.  So we had to go to Lowe's to buy some more, and Ethan cut it to the right size.  Not too time consuming, but it was pretty hard to cut the plastic with out it breaking in wrong places, and it was just one more step to finish the bathroom.  *Final thing: as you can see, this is a tiny bathroom (and our other one isn't much bigger).  But, right outside the door of this bathroom there is a linen closet.  And the little "medicine cabinet" has three deep shelves too.  Plus, we added four large hooks behind the bathroom door for towels and robes.  So, it's very doable.  And we've never had more than one bathroom before, so we're pretty excited, even if they are small.  :)   

Now on to the eat in kitchen.  We love the size of it, and were okay with the color . . . so we didn't have to paint this room too!  BEFORE

It has the dark laminate flooring that I really didn't mind.  I was just glad there wasn't carpet!  Since the color in here was pretty deep, and bold, I wanted everything else to be neutral.  So, I probably spent as much as I would on paint to do some black and white accents in here.  One thing that bothered me was the ceiling fan.  I didn't really go with the room . . . so look.  AFTER:
You can see that I changed the glass fixtures (the old one on the right), about $5 each, and painted the blades black with paint I already had.  I like it so much better now! 

I painted the back of the peninsula ultra white, so it would go with the rest of that side of the room (white half way up the wall).  I bought the two black and white valances for $10 each from target, and picked up some cheap black and white hand towels, pot holders, and dish clothes so everything would match.  (I justified this purchase - about $20, because our old stuff - after 8 years of marriage - was pretty worn out anyway.)  We already had almost everything we put on the wall, and it just went perfectly.  One of the black frames has a photo of my great grandma and her 4 daughters (including my Gramma LaJoice) having a picnic outside around 1940.  Newspaper table clothes and all.  I LOVE having it in my kitchen! 
This first picture shows some frames I already had, but I put three up along an empty wall.  Each one has pictures of the kids eating or cooking - first one Caleb, then Ben-Ben, then Anna.  LOVE it!  The next one shows the pretty view out my kitchen sink window.  And the last one shows the beautiful maple step our friend Jon put in.  (The old carpeted step went along the whole length of wall.  We are still finishing it off/waiting to paint around it and add some trim.  (This picture also shows how convenient that baby gate is!)
I love that our trash is nice and tucked away, as you can see above. (Thanks, Stuart!) I love how much space we have in the kitchen.  I love that we have a pantry (which I've since organized better).  We've never had one before, and it is so, so nice.  The kitchen, our bedroom and bathroom are all an addition done in the 1970's . . . which is why it's such a decent size kitchen for an older home.  I love baking in there with the kids, preparing meals, and sitting to eat together, or just hang out and work on something, and not feeling cramped. 
Some things I'd love to do still - *Add a white bead board back-splash between the counter and cabinets.  (This shouldn't be too hard or expensive - since it's not tile - so I'll probably do this soon.)  *Find a cheap or free (we may have an option for this already) black fridge so that all of our appliances match.  Microwave, dishwasher, and stove are all black.  Plus, the cream fridge really messes up our black and white theme.  :)  I've also seen people on DIY blogs paint their fridges with black chalkboard paint, and think that may be a fun option the kids would love, plus the fridge is old anyway so if it messes it up - oh well.  Oh, and the fridge is COVERED in kid art right now, 'cause Anna and Ben-ben have been in a little competition about who has the most art on the fridge.  ha.  *Final thing - I think someday I'd love to replace all the cabinet handles . . . cause they're all a little gross.  So three things I'll hopefully get to do . . . eventually. 

I added this picture because I didn't include it when I did the basement.  This is the back door, which is off the kitchen, and also the stairs to the basement.  I love that there's a little landing and room to set things down and hang things up when you come in from playing outside. 

Okay, now the final room - "Our Bathroom."  Yeah, it's a little anticlimactic.  I should have switched the order a little.  hehe.  The kids call it the grown-up bathroom.  I'm not sure why they don't call it mommy and daddy's bathroom, or the parent bathroom, but they call it the grown up bathroom.  haha.  BEFORE:

All of the before pictures were taken at night - when we were typically over at the house working.  So they're all pretty bad quality.  Sorry!  The wall color we love in here - a very pale blue, with creme and white accents.  All the bathroom stuff we already had went perfectly in here, so we didn't buy anything - white shower curtain, silver frames and silver shower curtain hooks and silver clock, white framed fishy picture, white and blue towels, sea-shells and sand from our honey moom cruise to the caribbean, etc.  We just had to arrange it.  AFTER

I did buy new handles for the drawers in the vanity - silver to match the other silver things in the room.  With the hooks behind the door, the shelving area, and small vanity, Ethan and I have plenty of room for our stuff, even though it's another small bathroom.  Besides installing (having Ethan install) the new silver handles, I don't think there's anything on my list to do in there.  I mean, if we want to get in to my wish list then I'd probably write about wanting a new faucet and even a new top to the vanity too . . . and . . . well, let's not open that can of worms.  (Yuck, I don't know why I used that analogy . . . it grosses me out.) 

So, that's the whole house.  Although, I already have a couple projects I've done that I'm really excited about, and I eventually want to put on here.  hehe.  But, for the most part, I should be done bombarding you with photos and descriptions of the new house.  You should see a lot more pictures of the kiddos on here again.  Yay!