Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Room to breathe!

The toy situation was getting out of control in our house! The kids get everything out in the living room, toy room and both bedrooms and never clean up. I would be ok with them getting everything out, but they don't play with any of it! They have a select few items that they constantly fight over. As long as one has one of the coveted toys, the other wants it. As soon as I distract the one with something else, the child with the toy is finished with it! It is so frustrating to constantly be breaking up fights over toys all the while tripping over the abundance of toys that don't get touched.
Tonight I reached my breaking point and we moved all of the toys down to the basement toy room. This way at least if all of the toys are out and scattered all over the place, it is not the first thing that people see upon entering our house. I am sure that the toys will eventually work their way back upstairs, but at least for now I feel like my living room can breathe.
Now that all of the toys are moved, I need to begin the daunting task of going through the toys and weeding out the ones that they don't play with or are broken. Though I don't think that I will be able to get rid of very many toys (I have more of an attachment to some of them than the kids do!), I do plan to put some of them away in a closet. It seems like putting some of the toys away and switching them out every few weeks keeps the toys new to the kids and more interesting to play with. Being in the basement tonight was actually enough of a change in environment to keep the kids playing nicely while I was working on decluttering the rest of the house of toys. Hopefully the change in environment along with a weeding out of toys will make play time a little bit less of a hassle and a lot more fun!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter 2011

My daughter woke me up at 6:30 am, ecstatic that the Easter bunny had come and left her a basketful of goodies. She dove right into her basket, eating as much candy as she could.

Aidan was equally excited to see his basket when he woke up a few minutes later.

The kids then got to try out their gifts from mom and dad. Reese got Just Dance 2 for the Wii and Aidan got a four wheeler:

They would have ridden that thing all day, but eventually we went in to get ready for the day. Here are my babies all dolled up!

We got in the car and drove to my uncle's for brunch with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and their kids. We only see some of these people once a year and it is always great to get together.
Before leaving to head back home, we got together to take a family picture. How long can it take to get 18 people together for a photo? Quite awhile! We asked my cousin to take a family photo with my siblings and all of our kids at our recent Easter brunch. She thought it would be funny to document the process of getting our whole group together:

Still gathering kids who were having too much fun to be bothered with photography!

The gang is all here, but we need to fill in the gaps.

Passing babies around! My god, our family multiplies like rabbits!

Looking pretty good, but why is my brother-in-law hiding in the back?

Finally, almost everyone is looking at the camera! My daughter is crying, Parker looks like she is chocking and my husband and I are too tall to be standing in the front, but we have proof that we were all toghether for Easter!

Though I knew the kids were tired and cranky, we tried for a photograph of just our family:

My daughter is still crying, my son looks like he is trying to look down my dress and my husband looks like he has been goosed! My husband did not understand why I wanted to even try taking a picture because he knew that it would not turn out. I said it is not about having a perfect picture, but actually to remember the moment! I will always remember that the kids had a great time running and playing with their cousins and were just worn out and overstimulated from the days activities.

After a quick nap in the car the kids were nice and refreshed for the remainder of the days activities. We had an egg hunt with their cousins from my husband's side of the family.

Then the kids played which allowed us a nice chance to visit with family. It was a wonderful and fun day with all of our family!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Living Room Reveal

Though we have yet to receive the rest of our living room furniture, I could not wait to show off our new living room. We ordered a twin sized sleeper this week to match our steal of a deal queen sleeper, I told you about here. The twin sleeper was also a great deal and a funny story. My husband has been on the phone with several local Flexsteel dealers searching for our sofa. Finally, we went across the river to Dan Vinar Furniture in Moline to see if they could help. The store owner greeted us as we walked into the store with, "What are you looking for? We've got the best prices locally, you can't find a better deal." We told him what we were looking for and he maintained his confidence that he could do better. He then looked up the loveseat we were looking for and about choked at the price that we paid. Though he could not give us the same deal, he did order us the sofa for less than we would have paid anywhere. If you are looking for furniture, I would definitely check out Dan Vinar Furniture in Moline, I know that we will be going there first the next time we are in need of anything!
On to the living room reveal! My husband was out of town this past weekend. I took advantage of a rare quiet, rainy weekend at home to start painting the living room. I painted 3 of the four walls in a mocha color that was actually leftover from painting our sunroom. The color is a medium brown tone, though it photographed kind of mauve.

I had planned on painting the red cabinet black to give the space more of a modern feel, but really liked the pop of red in the room. I liked it so much that I pulled out some other red accessories.

I made the red pillow out of an old t-shirt several months ago, but never had a place for it. I removed the small lamps which only had like 30 watt lights and replaced them with the larger black lamps from our master bedroom. They are decorative, but also functional as the room is rather dark without a central ceiling light fixture. You can also see a corner of the wall that did not get painted.

Other side of the tv wall. I kind of like the contrast and having the tv/fireplace wall have a different paint color to make it even more of a focal point. It actually worked out for me that I saved this wall for last so that my husband could undo all of the electronics. I do have a red paint leftover from our main bath that I have contemplated using on this wall to make it really stand out. What do you think?

I love how it all came together and with things that I already had! Not a bad transformation from this before we moved in:

To this after we moved in:

This after our main floor remodel:

And finally, today:

So what do you think of painting the fireplace/tv wall red, leaving it as is, or painting it the same color as the other walls? I can't wait to show you the end result with the other sofa and fireplace wall painted.

Jewelry Organization

I do not have an extensive jewelry collection by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a few pieces that I wear frequently and would like to be able to access easily. Up to this point, I have hung my necklaces from a hook in the bathroom closet. Though hanging them kept them from getting tangled up, it was difficult to find the piece I wanted because the closet is not well lit and I had all of my jewelry on just 2 hooks.
I have seen several different blogs create jewelry organizers out of empty frames and some beautiful fabrics. Recently it dawned on me that I had filled a frame with a coordinating fabric for the decor in my bathroom soon after the renovation because I did not have enough artwork.

I eventually found some artwork that I liked and the frame was banished to the attic. I rescued the frame from the attic several weeks ago and removed the glass, which was broken anyways. I then grabbed some hooks that I had laying around the house and screwed them into the backer board of the frame. Several of the other bloggers that I have seen do this used mdf or scrap wood to create a sturdier back, but I did not feel that this was necesarry. The screws got caught on the fabric and made funny gathers, so I just cut a slit in the fabric for the hook.

I obviously did not use my jewelry to place the hooks! I wish that I would have put them up a bit higher, but now it leaves me space to put in an extra hook that would be perfect for bracelets.

I actually let the frame sit on the floor for a few weeks to see if I would like it. I thought that maybe it was too much for one wall because I have a towel bar and two framed tin pieces right next to it. For the most part, the jewelry organizer is covered when the door is open, so really you will only see it when the bathroom door is closed. Since we are really the only ones to use the bathroom, I decided to go ahead and hang it up, and I am so glad that I did.
How do you organize your jewelry?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Busy Weekend!

We made lots of progress this weekend on our little landscaping project in the front yard. We put in a few railroad ties around the stump that remained after removing a very large and ugly bush. We then filled in the bed with dirt from a dirt pile that was left at the side of our driveway by the previous owners. We rescued some very large rocks from our back yard, which we arranged in the bed to cover the remainder of the stubborn stump. We still have to buy some rock or mulch to finish off the bed, but it looks so much better! I can't wait to show off the before and after pictures.

We also made a few changes in our living room. We have had our sofa/chaise for almost 8 years and were ready for a change. We have been looking for living room furniture and found something last week that we could not get out of our heads. I listed our couch on craigslist to see if there was any interest and it sold the same day! I was ecstatic that we did not have to worry about what to do with the old couch, but then had a bit of panic that we did not have anything to replace it with. The sofa that we found that we could not get out of our heads was a sofa sleeper and they did not have any of the coordinating pieces available. We were unsure whether we could live with a sofa because we have always had sectionals. Also we were unsure whether we could find something to coordinate with the sofa to fill in the seating in our living room. After looking at a few more stores, we always came back to the sofa and we knew it was meant to be. Fortunately, one of the main benefits of the sofa is that it is a Flexsteel. My mom works for Flexsteel and we know that the quality and durability is some of the highest in the industry. The sofa was offered at an unbelievable price for the brand and the fact that it is also a sleeper (contains a queen sized bed)! Finally, because my mom works for Flexsteel we are hoping to be able to either order a matching piece or find a coordinating piece that will fit our needs of giving us ample seating.

With the addition of the new sofa, I have some plans to make some other changes in the room, including painting the walls and a cabinet we use for toy storage. I am so excited to get to work on these changes and even more excited that in just a few short weeks, I will be home full time for the summer to spend time with my kids and to work on these and many other projects. I have so many projects that I want to
get started on, I hope you will stick around to see some of these transformations!

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, April 8, 2011

My ABC's

I just saw this on a blog that I follow and thought that it would be fun to do. If you’ve done it, leave me the link to your post in the comments! I love learning random facts about you guys. :)

{a} age: 30

{b} bed size: Queen - My husband has tried talking me into a king, but I like the closeness.

{c} chore you hate: I actually love cleaning, except for toilets and showers!

{d} dogs: none! We had pets before children and were not very good pet parents! (One was run over by a car and the other was so naughty we returned him to the pound.) Fortunately that was not an indicator as to how we would be as parents to children.

{e} essential start to your day: shower. I do not feel awake until I have had my shower.

{f} favorite color: lime green.

{g} gold or silver: Silver or white gold.

{h} height: 5’9”

{i} instruments you play: I played the clarinet for 8 years, but am not sure that I could still play it today!

{j} job title: Currently a Special Education Aide. Next year I will start working as a substitute teacher.

{k} kids: two. Reese (3) and Aidan (2). I guess 3 if you count my husband, Randy.

{l} live: Princeton, IA

{m} mom's name: Laura. Here she is with her pride and joy, her grandkids.

{n} nicknames: My friends call me Aubs. My husband calls me babes.

{o} overnight hospital stays: tonsils and adnoids as a child, for depression in high school, and childbirth as an adult.

{p} pet peeves: people not picking up after themselves.

{q} quote from a movie: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get."

{r} right- or left-handed: left handed

{s} siblings: 3 younger brothers and 1 younger sister. My mom named us in alphabetical order (Aubrey, Brandon, Courtney, Devin & Elliot). We sat in alphabetical order for this picture because we are cheesy like that!

{t} time you wake up: 5 am during the week and as late as 6:30 on non-working days!

{u} underwear: Victoria's Secret

{v} vegetables you dislike: I like vegetables, I just don't choose to eat them as much as I should.

{w} what makes you run late: changing clothes 100 times, the kids not cooperating.

{x} x-rays you've had: Broken leg, sprained wrist

{y} yummy food you make: I do not really like to cook. We make whatever is quick and easy. My husband does like my chicken and rice baked with cream of mushroom soup, but everything else comes from a recipe from his mom!

{z} zoo - favorite animal: monkeys and panda bears.

Now you know just a little bit about me, that you never really wanted to know!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Paper Crafting Easter Decor

I have very little in the way of decor for Easter. Of course I have my stick wreath which I change out for every season. You can see my 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas wreaths here. I had a purple and green ribbon for it, but it just looked too boring and bland. I found some coordinating scrapbook papers in purples, greens and blues and freehanded an egg shape which I used as a template. After cutting out all of the eggs, I slid some of the eggs into the wreath using twigs to hold the eggs in place. Immediately, it looked much more interesting, but I had something else up my sleeve! I then dug through my scrapbook paper scraps and created a little paper bunny to peek out of my wreath.

He is so stinking cute! I love it!
I had several paper eggs left, so I decided to create a garland much like the candy corn garland I created for Halloween (I just realized that I never posted pics of this garland, bad blogger). I cut out the letters to spell, "Happy Easter" and "Welcome Spring". I glued the letters to the eggs and then hot glued the eggs to a coordinating ribbon to create a garland. I hung one from my mantle:

I used the other garland on the china hutch in our dining room:

This project cost me no money because I had all of the supplies on hand. This is the second time that I have used my scrapbook papers to create holiday decor in my home and I think that I will probably be making a paper garland for each holiday. These little touches really helped to bring a little bit of the brightness of spring into our home and also a little bit of whimsy for the kids. I have another project that I would like to attempt for spring, but am waiting to get together the supplies. Do you decorate for Spring/Easter? How?

Dresser turned art display

My daughter has had this dresser/changing table combo since she was an infant. Though I no longer use the changing table, we do still use the drawers for extra storage, and we will continue to do so. Because I plan to continue to use this dresser in her room, I wanted to make it transition to something that could be useful as she ages.

I looked at the inset panel on the side of the drawers and thought that I should be able to put cork in it to function as a display area for her artwork now and for notes and pictures as she ages. I purchased a package of four 12 inch cork tiles at Target for around $6.50 (tax included) and used the adhesive included in the package to adhere two full size cork tiles. I then measured and cut up the two remaining tiles to fill in the rest of the opening. The dresser looked like this once all the cork had been installed.

I think that some kind of dry erase surface or chalkboard could also be really cute and useful in a child's room.

Once all the cork was installed, my daughter could not wait to display her art.

Now I need to get to work making some cute boxes for the shelves at the back. I am thinking something like these decorative duct tape boxes from Allison at House of Hepworths.


We had a massive bush and several small trees located on the front corner of our property. The bush had been planted by previous owners of our house to disguise the fire hydrant, gas lines, and electrical box that were also located on this front corner.

Though the bush did do a great job at disguising the ugly utilities, that was all it was useful for. The deer liked to eat the leaves off of the bush, but since they could only reach about halfway up, the bottom was dead and bare while the top was green and leafy. The bush was also located in a position that it blocked some of the view from inside our house and also your view of oncoming traffic as you tried to exit onto the highway. Last year when we moved in we had the power company assess two dying trees on the opposite corner of our lot which were also blocking our view of the river. They determined that they were a hazard to fall on the power lines and had them removed at no cost to us. You can read about that here.

The other night around 6:00pm my husband suggested that we cut down the massive, ugly bush. My husband does not get the urge to do projects around the house very often, so I jumped at the suggestion. As soon as we cut into it, we realized that it was a much larger job than we had anticipated, but we were committed. My husband wielded the chainsaw, while I piled the branches up out of the way. About 45 minutes later when we had the whole bush cut down, Randy was sweating and exhausted! Unfortunately we still had to clean up the front yard! He pulled up the lawn mower and trailer and we piled it high with branches to drive to a burn pile in our backyard. After a few trips, my mother and father-in-law showed up. My father-in-law took up the chainsaw and cut back the stump even more. My mother-in-law helped take care of the kids and also to unload the rest of the trailers full of debris. Fortunately we finished just as it was getting dark.

It made such a huge difference! It looks so big and open. I would much rather live with the ugly stump, dead grass and visible utilities than the massive bush.

Here is a picture of Randy and our two little helpers! He took them for a ride in the tractor once we had finished moving all of the debris.

The next day I took a picture in the daylight.

With all of the utilities, it is going to be impossible to ground out the stump and plant grass as we had planned. Instead we will be creating a planter box with either stone or railroad ties and planting something much smaller and more beautiful.
I won't be holding my breathe waiting to finish up this area, just waiting patiently for the urge to strike my husband to take on another project.