Friday, July 26, 2013

Before & after, the outside

When I look at the house before and after, side by side, I realize just what we've accomplished. It was not easy, but I am so incredibly happy with the results. We did it! And so many memories in the process...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Modern on Meadow progress report

Life at Modern on Meadow is still a work in progress. The port-a-john is gone from the driveway and the floor grates have been installed  - so we no longer have large holes in the middle of the floor in which kids can drop small toys. Temporary lights have been removed and replaced, the refrigerator panels were installed - finally. The exterior steel columns and deck rails were painted, as was the garage door. Progress.

There is still much to do. The basement is not yet usable - with tile that needs replacing, framing and closets that must be put back together. The walls need to be painted, cabinets need to go up in the laundry room. Hopefully we can make the basement space usable soon, and then getting it where we want it will take time - we will get a new couch and tv eventually. The office space will get spruced up with new shelves and my wallpaper!

We're waiting on the glass wall for the master closet, the sliding closet doors in the kids rooms don't have any hardware (this is really bugging me!) and the garage is still too full of odds and ends to even think about parking inside. The backyard is mostly a pile of dirt and exposed drainage that is waiting on....? to be completed. We met with the landscape architect last night and things will hopefully start greening up soon.

In the meantime, our deck is amazing and with this unusually mild July, we eat outside on the deck most evenings. Last night was especially beautiful and I reminded myself that we are in our new home for summer, just in time to enjoy such a lovely evening. Life is good, if a bit rough around the edges.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weekend update, the lake

We went to the lake this past weekend with my family - all 17 of us! We figured out it is probably our 8th year of going together as a family. Pre-dates my children, my husband. The weekends are the most fun because of the cousins - it is fun to see their relationships with each other evolve each summer. I didn't take any pictures because I wanted to just be in the moment and soak things in this weekend. Sounds great in theory, but now here I am with no pictures...

I have a picture from the beginning and and a few from the end of our trip. The weekend started really well and we timed our drive to the lake to coincide with the kids' afternoon naps...evidenced below.

The end of our trip did not go quite as planned. Our last morning, Sunday morning, I decided to say yes to Charlie's repeated requests to get in the hot tub at the rental house. We turn down the heat and, since it is located on the deck, the kids love to splash around in the hot tub while watching boats go by on the lake below them. I didn't let Charlie get in the hot tub late Saturday night when several of his cousins did, telling him he had to go to bed instead. So the next morning I was feeling guilty and decided to let him have his wish before we headed home around noon. Fateful decision. He fell climbing into the hot tub and gave himself an ugly gash on his forehead. There was a lot of blood. And tears. We wrapped him in towels and took him to the emergency room.

It looks a lot worse from this picture where they wrapped him in gauze. He looks like he's had major head trauma. We felt like parents of the year when we told the nurses and doctors about the hot tub accident. Turns out no one bats an eye at Lake Regional Medical Center when you come to the ER because your 4 year-old fell into a hot tub at 9am on a Sunday morning. Just another day in the ER at the lake - can you imagine the things they see there?? The doctor did say how incredibly lucky we were that the accident happened in the hot tub and not in the lake. Only in Osage Beach are the hot tubs cleaner than the lake.

The stitches, four of them, were painful for all of us. But Charlie was a trooper and seemed like his old self immediately after the doctor stitched him up. Little did we know at the time that Charlie's cousin was on her way to the same ER. She had taken a bad bump in the speedboat that morning and cut her forehead open on the bow of the boat. Between the two cousins, they had 11 stitches from two different accidents an hour apart. A record day!

In spite of the fact that I only took a few pictures with my iphone, I have many vivid memories of the weekend.

17 people crammed onto a pontoon boat going about 5mph in a lake full of monster speedboats...Charlie and his cousins playing in the pool, swimming and jumping off the side over and over...Izzy jumping with gusto into the water with the freedom of her newly found water wings...Mark asking Charlie "we're best friends, right?"...Izzy finally responding when Mitch asked her what his name is for the nth time and saying "Itch."..the big cousins throwing each other off the dock...looking over architectural blueprints for planned changes to the house my brother, sister and I grew up in...listening to Izzy sing "Take me out to the ballgame" while we watched the Cardinals play...sitting on the deck after dark talking and watching the sky light up with lightning...Aunt JuJu and Layla reading books to C and Iz at bedtime...Mark holding his arms out to Charlie for a hug when we were leaving to go home...Charlie wanting to give Macy a sticker to cheer her up after her visit to the ER...watching my sister's beautiful wedding video...Charlie's smile while he was on the 'tube' with two of his cousins...

Stitches or not, it was a great weekend full of memories. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How I found two extra hours in my day, and why the whole family benefits

A few months back I wrote this post about my struggles to lean in both at work and at home. I've figured out a way to improve both my happiness at home and my effectiveness at work. Curious?

I found two extra hours in my day, and it was surprisingly easy.

I took the two least productive hours of my day and made them count. The least productive part of my day was 7-9am. These two hours typically went something like this:

kids wake up, lots of whining ensues, milk and coffee are distributed; someone cries outside the shower door, small hands pull at my legs while I put on makeup, cuddles on the couch; the blender whirs with frozen fruit and kale, lunches are made, time-outs are threatened; Ryan and the kids shuffle out the door with loveys, raisins, and goodbye kisses; collect stray socks, sippy cups and legos; make beds, throw in a load of laundry, down another cup of coffee; head out the door and at work by 9am.

Now, I leave the house before 7am, before the kids wake up. This shift in our schedule is benefiting all of us. Here's why.

For Dad: Ryan now has to navigate the often grumpy morning time on his own, but this gives him two hours of alone time with the kids every day. And they aren't nearly as whiny when there is only one parent in the vicinity - it's like they know their options are limited. I usually change diapers, help them get dressed, and cuddle with them on the couch for a few minutes in the morning. If I'm not there, they are perfectly happy to let Ryan do all these things - and he's just as good at them as I am! A little alone time with Dad and we all feel more balanced.

For the Kids: Getting to work at 7 allows me to leave by 3. Picking the kids up at 3 as opposed to the typical 5 or later, is life changing. First, because the kids are at day care for 2 less hours a day, which makes all of us happy. And second, because we can actually do things with our time together in the afternoon. We've visited the library and joined the summer reading program. We've gone to the pool so often that Charlie figured out how to swim. We have time to play with toys together and I don't feel rushed to get dinner on the table. A block of quality time at the end of the day is so much more rewarding than the fragmented time that used to bookend our days.

For Mom: While I miss the morning snuggles and goodbye kisses, the early hours at work are worth the trade. Almost no one is at work at 7am and I can work quietly on those projects that take real thinking - the ones I never seemed to get to before. There are no interruptions. I eat breakfast at my desk and enjoy my coffee while I scan emails and organize my time for the day. Technically, I am still at work for the same amount of time as before - but I'm using the time so very differently and more effectively.

Those focused two hours in the morning add up to 10 quality hours per week! Even if I decide to indulge in morning cuddles once a week, I have added the equivalent of a full 8 hour work day of productivity to my week. And there is no guilt to leaving at 3 when I feel the accomplishment of those extra hours. I leave satisfied and happy, my mind clear and ready to focus on the kids.

I won't be able to do this schedule every day, many days I have meetings that go til 5 or beyond. But it's perfect for the summer when I have fewer meetings and no classes. I know how lucky I am to have the flexibility to make this decision for myself, and a supportive husband that is willing to make it happen.

The gift of time is one that keeps on giving...

Have you found a way to balance your time that works for you and your family? I would love to hear what works for you, what you've tried that hasn't worked, what you would like to try if you had the chance...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tball, cookies and goggles

Another season has come and gone as Charlie had his last tball practice/camp this past weekend. He participated in the pre-K tball camp through JoCo parks & rec, 8 Saturdays for 45 minutes and they learned to catch, throw, hit and run the bases. It was just right for his age and although there was a lot of whining and resistance, I do think he learned from the experience.

Charlie has always shown so much interest in sports, wants a ball or a bat to play with every time we're outside or at a park. We were sure he would be thrilled with the chance to play soccer and tball this Spring. Wrong! Maybe 4 is still too young for organized sports? (Would love opinions on this!!) He still loves to run and kick the ball, etc. but on his terms and without guidance or rules. Despite his dislike for tball, he has already asked to play basketball this winter. Fool me thrice??

I love to bake and, in theory, I love to bake with the kids. The reality of baking with the kids never goes quite like I imagine it. But we made an attempt this weekend and it actually wasn't too bad. I had things ready to go before I mentioned it to the kids and really tried hard to overlook the mess until we were all done. My physical and mental preparation paid off and it was fun to bake cookies in our new kitchen for the first time. Having plenty of counter space to spread out and allow little hands to move around without knocking into things really made a difference.

I don't know what it is about showers in our house, but if either Ryan or I get in the shower, the kids simply must join us. Luckily, our new shower is big enough for all of us. These two have reinterpreted my zen shower space as a water park. Sigh.

We hit the toddler splash pool in our old neighborhood last week and the kids are at the perfect age where they can move about in the 2ft water without supervision and enjoy themselves. I can actually sit on the side and relax while they splash. Two friends from Charlie's class showed up at the same time we were there and the kids had a blast while I chatted with the Moms.

Charlie has been requesting goggles, so I had to oblige...they could not wait to put them on!

I just love these summer pictures full of skinny arms and skinned and bruised knees. Every inch of skin is so familiar to me, and yet sometimes I can look at these two and wonder in amazement at the little people they are becoming. I know them as if they were still a part of me, and yet they become more themselves every day.

Like Miss Attitude here, strutting her stuff at the pool. To think I once worried that my little girl would be quiet, timid, with a meek personality. Oh Izzy, you continue to surprise and amaze!

Swim note: We have a swimmer! With all our pool time lately, Charlie has become so comfortable in the water, jumping bravely off the side, dunking his head under without a thought, that he finally just figured out how to swim. He simply put his head under and started kicking and moving his arms. I was so proud of him. He is so physical and strong that I knew he was capable of it if he just gave it a try. Watching him figure out how to swim was about as cool as watching him learn to walk for the first thing. Life changing for both of us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Inside these walls

We've been living in Modern on Meadow for a little over a week now. It is still very much a work in progress. The Punch List is a mile long! (This is the list of items that still needs to be completed as per the original design/construction contract - everything from outlets that aren't working, to putting the walls back in the basement).

I had this idea that I would bust out my 'real' camera and take some fancy images before posting, but that's just not going to happen. So instead, here are a few iphone pics taken around our new digs...starting with the entryway and our bright orange mailbox!

The master bedroom is full of natural light with windows along one wall and above the bed. I love how peaceful this space feels. And believe it or not, we have been sleeping great in the new house. We have reclaimed the master bed for adults only, and though I've have to spend a few uncomfortable hours wedged into a toddler bed to make that happen, it is totally worth it. After sharing a bed with a squirming two-year old for the last 11 months, it suddenly feels like we've upgraded to a King!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Home for the holiday

We spent the long holiday weekend in our new home. We didn't do much for the 4th, just relaxed and enjoyed summer - finally.

The 4th of July marked Roxie's 11th birthday (last year we celebrated her birthday in a big way - with a dog party!). Poor dog is just miserable on her birthday every year - terrified of fireworks and all the loud noises. She got through the day(s) with lots of hugs and tugs from her small, two-legged friends. She now has a big, beautiful deck from which to perch and watch the world go by...I think she is going to love the new house.

Saw this house in Leavenworth over the weekend and had to stop and take a picture. True Americana.

Our new neighborhood had a 4th of July kids' parade in the morning - we decked out Charlie's strider and he fell in line with what had to be 100 kids. Our block is full of kids! And many are the same age and will go to kindergarten with Charlie. Fun days ahead.

We hit the pool three times in one week - and I could tell that C and Iz were getting more comfortable in the water each time. They were jumping off the side higher and longer, putting their heads under, letting go of me and stretching for the wall without fear. Won't be long and we'll have bona fide swimmers on our hands.

The rest of the time we stuck close to home and discovered long lost toys that had been in storage, rode bikes around the neighborhood, and planted pretty flowers in pots. Charlie and Izzy climbed up and down the bunk bed ladder at least 100 times, and discovered that the bottom bunk can make a pretty awesome fort.

Cooking in the new kitchen is, well, nothing short of amazing. So much counter space, sparkling clean ovens, and a deep sink that makes clean up a breeze. This is the first thing I baked in the new oven - perhaps my all time favorite summer dessert. I need a lesson in how to use the convection oven - maybe there is an app for that?!

Modern on Meadow is still a work in progress, but it feels oh so good to be home. Last night, everyone in the entire house slept in their own beds the entire night - something that hadn't happened in almost a year of living in our apartment. The house must be magic!!