The Life & Times of Mommiehood

Here I am finding my way through uncharted waters.

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Practice, practice, practice. Pack, pack, pack.

My day has been pretty busy.

I slept in after the concert yesterday. Woke up and ended up spending most of the day convincing the kids to practice, practice, practice before the recital tomorrow night. The boy did finally and I’m so proud of him, he feels more confident with his song and even has it pretty much memorized. He was so excited and proud of himself as well. The girl has practiced a lot and I think will do wonderful for her first recital. Then there’s me. Hope I don’t screw up my song, I’ve practiced more than the kids combined!

Met with our contractor about painting the halls and entryways and the other small bits of wall and trim in the kitchen. I can’t wait to come home and see it all finished. This has been in my head for MONTHS! Then maybe we can finally get some of our pictures on the wall. You know, after almost two years in the house. He will also be repairing some of the deck and getting down some stuff to hopefully extend the life of our deck a few years. I’m not ready to have to replace that quite yet. Will be nice to have here projects done while we are gone!

The rest of my day was spent getting some packing done. The kids helped me get some of their clothes together. Finishing the last of the wash. We have learned to pack bags for the destinations and not the people in our family so there is a bag for the first hotel, the first family stay, the second hotel and then the big bag for the final destination. On the way home we just make sure there’s one bag ready for the midway pit stop. Then there’s the toiletry bag that’s with us everywhere. Works well and we don’t end up having to take in scads of luggage at every location. Takes a bit more planning and coordination though.

I still need to finish packing my clothes and make sure the food is all ready for the cooler … stuff for the kids in the car … but we are getting closer. Hoping we can be mostly ready to go tomorrow because Friday is a LOOOONNNGG day in the car and we need to get started early!


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Who knew landscaping work was so expensive. I mean crazy expensive. I realize we have some issues most homeowners do not, mainly the retaining walls which of course are rotting and ugly and not completely doing their job in some places. We also have a pretty massive back yard.

I would like to fix my kitchen. Aside from keeping some appliances the kitchen pretty much needs to be gutted, new cabinets, some boards replaced in the wood floor, new counter tops and back splash. Hardwood extended into the dining room (who leaves carpet in a dining room?) and maybe a new pantry area.

When I could most likely do my kitchen for significantly less than the backyard … The landscaping is expensive.

Our first quote made me cry. Give up. Frustrated me.

We had a second person come look. My MIL had her stroke before we got that quote but I got the same impression that it’d be a crap-ton of Cleveland’s.

Found a guy in our neighborhood who does landscape design, had him come look and did not get the impression he could handle the project. Or at least not in a way to make me confident or comfortable trusting him. He is retired so he contracts things with others, making estimates and costs potentially INSANE and unmanageable because it’s with so many different people. With all the things we need done his solution was to pull out my loathsome bushes and “start there” … What next? Who knows. That scares me more than the overall cost of the retaining walls. Which he seemed to avoid altogether.

That was Monday. I decided to finally call the grandfather of one of the students at my school. I’d heard good things about the work he’s done shortly after moving into our home but never called because we always knew it would be expensive, just not the magnitude of expense we are discovering. I’ve had his number in my phone for a year and a half and even back in March wanted to call but just never had the time.

He came this morning and brought his “wall guy” and we talked about what we wanted (no more decrepit wood walls, no more weeds and awful bushes on the top tier, can take or leave the “planter boxes”, possible sprinkler system fixes that makes sense to take care of) and things we were hoping for (easy maintenance for my black thumb, play area for the kids) I made it clear that they are the ones who know what they are doing and I trust them to make it look good.

Meeting these professionals just felt right. Hard to explain that. It seemed like when we met this was who we should have do the work. When we were walking around outside he talked about giving us separate bids for each part of the project. He got that we can’t just drop $40,000 at once on the project to get it all done at once. I know they took measurements and will be emailing bids to me later, and I’m praying that these are doable for us, that we can get started maybe this fall and do another step next spring. That maybe my kitchen doesn’t have to be put off too much longer.

For the first time since we had that first meeting and quote I’m hopeful.
Pictures of the yard right now … Hoping we can go from the top down and then out to the sides. Thankful the south neighbors are willing to help with the fence that borders our properties, that will be huge! Oh, and maybe we can get the cable buried too, wouldn’t that be nice.

The middle tier in our yard and a close up of some of the bushes and stuff that's overgrown.

The middle tier in our yard and a close up of some of the bushes and stuff that’s overgrown.

Mostly what the yard looks like, the middle and sides.

Mostly what the yard looks like, the middle and sides.

The uppermost tier and the broken fences, all the weeds. The one tree or bush I like is the reddish purple one.

The uppermost tier and the broken fences, all the weeds. The one tree or bush I like is the reddish purple one.

The sides of the yard. More fence issues because apparently when the north neighbors redid their fence the previous owner did not follow suit.

The sides of the yard. More fence issues because apparently when the north neighbors redid their fence the previous owner did not follow suit.

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Almost Eight. Almost.

Today was the second day to celebrate the boy turning eight. Which doesn’t officially happen till Wednesday but mid-week celebrations aren’t the easiest to orchestrate.

I’m terrible at long term planning but we got the invites out at the end of the school year, earlier in fact than we did last year. I even remembered to get out a reminder email since lots of things get misplaced in the end of the year chaos. We even ended up with a few RSVPs. And I remembered to at least message a few friends about the party since the invites never quite made it to church with us.

Yesterday we celebrated with nana and papa. Took up some ninja turtle plates and napkins and how to train your dragon cupcakes. He came home with some Lego loot. Was great to see nana and papa and spend the day together despite the long drive.

This year we did our best to keep the friend party simple. Made it after lunch, before dinner, outside. Thankfully when I remembered to ask my awesomely creative friend Natalie to come face paint and do a mini magic show she was still available so we had some good entertainment for the kids (which the adults used as chat time!) we had the squirt guns out and some kids brought gifts of more squirt guns and water balloons. So we had lots of water fun, just like last year. Some of the face paint even made it through the festivities unscathed.

LayoutThe magic part of the day was fun.
Kids learned some fun tricks and the parents got to sit and chat uninterrupted for 40 minutes.

I had one kid tell me they had fun and others you could tell were enjoying the afternoon. All in all it was a good way to ring in turning eight.

One more celebration on the horizon. Wednesday on the actual day we are going to a screening of two IMAX movies at the museum with movie snacks included. Pretty neat that the event fell on his birthday.

Cool things about having an eight year old:
No more car seats.
He’s still a little kid but he’s also pretty independent.
Third grade is my favorite.
You can have some pretty neat conversations.
That reasoning piece is starting to help him make better decisions and think about what-might-happen-if.
He can really do a lot to be helpful around the house (and sometimes even wants to).

When it was all over I even had the opportunity to take one of my good friends for a ride in Sapphire. Having a convertible is just so much fun.

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Almost have my stained glass, almost.

It’s been a few months in the making and was finally installed this morning. Looks wonderful.

ImageSo much better than the old 70’s stuff. Here’s some closer detail of the panels.

ImageThe one problem which complicates everything is that on each panel there was supposed to be a leaf with water glass so we could kind of use it as a peep hole to see who is outside. This was part of the design from the start and they had it in the computer design mock-up that was emailed to us for approval. The builder just got in the zone and made the leaves all the corded glass. So … we have these for a week and they will come take the panels out, return them to the builder who will fix things and make one leaf in each panel be the water glass and then they will come reinstall them. Frustrating but at least they can fix them without having to remake the whole panels again and all should be fixed within a week after they remove the panels.

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basement reorganization project

When we moved last year we took a bunch of stuff from storage and stuck it in the basement. Then when we were hosting Christmas we put several unpacked boxes and items in the basement. Result: mess in the basement.

After wanting to get storage shelves for months we finally got some thanks to a Labor Day sale. I put them together yesterday and started moving things around.


Today I went back down and continued sorting and going through and reorganizing all the boxes and stuff and working to get everything where we can actually find something if we need it.



Next phase in the project is rearranging all that is next to the shelves and donating what we don’t need so we can move the holiday decorations and Christmas tree over next to the shelves.

We have one huge recycle pile …


A small pile to put away somewhere in the house and several picture frames to get hung (finally!!) …


(a few screens to dispose of as well) …

But mainly, we have more open space in the basement for the kids to ride their scooters around and maybe we can someday get a ping pong table and an elliptical down here.


Oh, and the basement is free of several spider egg sacs and a few of the spiders and bugs who dared to show they creepy crawly selves. Just need to empty the shop vac before they hatch or whatever.

I’m so thankful for this house and all this space.

Now I’m tired!

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finally, a photo tour

hall artentry way 3entry way 2entry way 1powder room 1powder room 2
powder room 3hall closetliving room 1living room detailliving room 2living room 3
dining room 1dining room 2kitchen 5kitchen 6kitchen 7kitchen dining
kitchen 1kitchen 2kitchen 3kitchen 4pantryshoe rack

New Home, a set on Flickr.

Here’s the new house. (Click on the fine print link above to see all the pictures!) We’ve been here now three and a half months. The place is starting to feel like home and we feel so very blessed to have this place to call our own.

Still a lot to do (notice I completely avoided showing any of the basement) and we definitely have a long list of furniture we’d like to have and projects that need to be completed, but for the most part we have settled in quite nicely.

Next on the agenda is a new roof (thanks to the fires last summer and a new law passed that allows insurance companies to drop those of us with wood shake shingles). While I’ll be happy to see the current roof go we’d hoped to save that project for a couple years or get saved by a hail storm or something of the sort.

Then the back yard, or as much of it as we can afford to do this year. Having ancient wood and re-bar hanging about doesn’t make for a super safe play area for the kids now does it? And we need to address any lingering drainage issues since we are downhill.

Despite the never ending drama of being a homeowner, and now landlord, life is good and we have a lot to be thankful for!