Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Favorite Things: Family Room

Our family room is generally a disaster area. Our couch and chairs are college-era Ikea. There are several competing colors of wood. The builders plan for the room itself is a bit of a mystery. It's really too big to be all family room and yet if you shoved any type of dining room furniture it would look like you'd tried to cram two rooms into one. We have neighbors with the same floor plan who use the non-family-room space for their piano. That looks perfect. But our reality is kids. Many kids. Kids who are rough on furniture. Kids with many toys. And suddenly the room is maybe not too large to be all family room. And there's something to be said for furniture that doesn't make you gasp when a child jumps on it. When you throw in all those toys, furniture and a treadmill (yes, we have a treadmill in our family room), I guess it almost makes sense. I think my mother fights off a coronary every time she walks through the front door. When I was a child we had all of our toys in a trunk in the garage and could only bring them in one or two at a time. (Yes we did also have a basement for big-wheels, but you know what I mean.)

I love this antique ice chest. We bought it at tiny antique store just outside of Mammoth. Brooks wasn't sure we'd be able to fit it in the car. I said we'd make it work. The poor dog (yes, we had a dog, no we don't anymore, don't get me started...) had to ride on top of it the rest of the way home. When we called a friend to help us move it into the house, his response was "You paid for this? An old, used, refrigerator?" Both our parents have one in their homes, so it was love for both of us. Now it happily holds a mess of junk etc. happily between the treadmill and toys.
For the life of me I was unable to get an accurate picture of this window. There are actually two of them. When we moved into the house, it was just one of many "why did the builder do this?!?" questions we asked ourselves and each other and anyone who would listen. Why so small? Why so high? Again my Mommy came to the rescue. She suggested that we find stained glass to hang over it. It took a few years, but she finally found a store back east with some great pieces. We bought these, shipped them here and then I sanded and painted the outside wood to match the room. Brooks hung them and suddenly the little windows didn't look so random - it's like they were made for eachother!
Ahhh, plantation shutters. I've always loved these, and was finally able to talk Brooks into getting them, all through the downstairs. We even got the slider in the kitchen. And I can't even put into words how much I love them. Not only are they pretty, but they keep the house amazingly cool! Which saves us a bundle in the 100 degree days of summer. When we go through the open houses on the weekend (we love doing it, even the kids enjoy it, I know, we're weird), I light up when a house has them. I don't know if I could live without them now.
This table still has the old sewing machine inside it. It warmly greets anyone who comes in our home and is happy to hold incoming mail and outgoing bills as well as extra blankets, the baby monitor...Yeah, this room could definitely use better organization :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Favorite Things: Kitchen

There's been talk of moving lately (don't worry, we're not going anywhere for at least another year). But it made me realize that if we did move, there are many things I'd actually miss about this house. Things that, for one reason or another, would be impossible/unreasonable to duplicate in our next home. So I decided I'd do a photo-doc of the things that I love in and about this house. I started in the kitchen. Because it was lunch time. Hope you enjoy it!
I cheated a bit, this is an older picture. I always loved this pitcher. Then Brooks brought me these flowers and I feel even more in love with it as a vase. It's from a set of antique china that my late Uncle Tommy collected. He gave me a tutorial on how to start collecting it myself - once I had any money to spend on it :) Knowing how much I loved it, my mother bought it from my aunt when Tommy passed away. A beautiful thing, connected to the memories of a beautiful person, filled with beautiful flowers = bliss. And toss in a bit of serendipity - what are the odds of china that exactly matches my kitchen?!?
Brooks and I got married 3 days after Christmas. My Uncle Bud and Aunt Beverly gifted us with a beautiful box filled with magical ornaments to begin our holiday collection (more here). This flying frog was in that box, but I just thought he was too adorable to only see seasonally. I've always had a fondness for frogs. On a whim, I had Brooks string him up with fishing line. And now he hangs over our dining table. Just to make me smile.
I adore everything in this picture. The lizard was just a spur-of-the-moment purchase at a roadside stand somewhere near Fillmore. I laughed that I liked it and Brooks bought it. And we laughed about where the heck we'd put it. I love memories like that. And I like how he hangs and watches me cook. The box is an antique repurposed as a recipe box. My mother gave it to me filled with all of her favorite recipes and those of Brooks' mom. Yes, she even laminated them so that I don't get them all grubby as I cook. I love having that little piece of her close at hand. Although I should have the phone next to it since I am completely lacking any culinary instinct and must call her at each step of the cooking process. The salt and pepper shakers are new. Brooks bought them for me at the La Cruset outlet on our way back from Palm Springs. He wanted to buy me a pot, but I just don't cook enough to justify that expense. These were just too cute to pass up.
Wow, I guess from these photos you'd think I had a thing for animals. Or even animals with inappropriate wings. I found this at a little local boutique a few years ago. I loved that the bow matched my kitchen. He's made of stone and is supposed to bring me good luck. Oink.
My apologies for the awful faux panorama. I had intended to use only one of the three photos I took, but then they just didn't tell the whole story. The entire border of the kitchen is decorated in antique kitchen utensils - with green handles. I can't take credit, it was my mom's idea. But I love it.

I think I'll always have a green kitchen...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shoes Night Out

After a long absence, I took my boys to the mall this week to walk around and shop a little bit. Before I realized it I had been sale-suckered into buying a pair of super high Steve Madden heels (let's say it involved a few scratch-n-save cards and two very enthusiastic scratchers who were elated to discover a 40% off coupon). Upon returning home and posting news of my new additions on Facebook, a conversation commenced between my stay-at-home mom friends lamenting the fact that we never seem to get the opportunity to wear our fancy footwear. And an idea was born. Shoes night out. Boxes were pulled from the top of closets, shoes were dusted off and out went the Mamas! We had such a fantastic time - this will definitely become a new tradition. Here are some of the guests of honor and a shot of the Mamas :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

End of an Era

I've really been wrestling with something lately that I've felt compelled to write about.

As my friends and the salvation army already know, I've been cleaning house and getting rid of most of the baby stuff. Gone is the floor gym. The swing has been re homed. The baby books have gone onto more ready-to-be-fertile pastures. And by now I'm sure the majority of the baby clothes have found other babies to warm. Even the baby bucket has left the building.

That's right, this family has reached capacity.

I'd be a liar if I said that it is an easy decision. I always envisioned myself having four children. But these little men arrived at such breakneck speed that the mere thought of adding another one terrifies me. And yes, we thought about waiting and having another at some point down the road, but I see what good friends Fin and Dash are and I know that Kell gets closer to becoming their partner in crime every day. Waiting and adding another child to the mix just doesn't seem fair - to have one that was always left behind? And then I do have days where I think that maybe I could handle the demands of one more little man. But like I say to my kids (and people who wear their clothes too tight), just because you can doesn't mean you should.

If I'm going to be honest, and let's face it, I always am, realizing that your child-bearing years have come to an end is kind of like the first time you start to face your own mortality. It means that so many of life's burning questions have been answered. You know where your life will go, where you'll live, who you'll marry, how many children you'll have and what they'll look like. The questions that you now face are mostly hinged on your children - who will they be? It feels like the first glaring streetlight to "Old Town".

I cleaned out my closet this weekend, post-partum fat clothes be GONE! I started to get down my large containers of maternity clothes but I just wasn't ready for that. Any mother will tell you that it just might be the wardrobe equivalent of having your tubes tied. No one, NO ONE wants to recreate the maternity closet - especially in CA where it's not even seasonal. I have a friend who will be in need of them soon, but not yet. I'll hold onto them just a little longer. Who knows, maybe I'll even change my mind in the end.

Then I look at my four boys, cuddling in bed with me watching a movie, and I think my life is so very full of love already.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

My Bucket List

I've been meaning to start a list like this for a while. Maybe by writing these things down, I'll actually get to do some of them! I'll keep you posted with any additions or hopefully, any achievements...

1. Travel to Australia.
2. Photograph a birth.
3. Photograph a wedding. - DONE! 10/14/12
4. Learn to play the guitar.
5. Be a foster parent.
6. Be a "Room Mother".- DONE! 2011-2012 (Finley, Kindergarten with Mrs. Caudillo)
7. Travel to Greece.
8. Travel to Hawaii.
9. Write a novel. Even if it's just for my children to read someday.
10. Live by the Ocean. For a month at least.
11. Learn to surf.
12. Finally lose the last of the baby weight.
13. Go on a shopping spree with no limits. Just once. Hopefully after completing #12
14. Complete a half marathon. Preferably running.
15. Take my boys camping.
16. Learn to sew. Well.
17. Take cooking classes.
18. Drive a car that can only hold two people. On a regular basis.
19. Take photography classes and/or apprentice with a professional.
20. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and help build a house.
21. Learn to play golf.
22. Ride a horse on the beach.
23. Spend a whole day at the movies.
24. Have a nicely decorated bedroom. - DONE! 2011 (just need new lamps...)
25. And a big bathroom. With a stupid big tub. - DONE! 2011
26. Be a "Team Mom"
27. See something on Broadway.
28. Go on a week-long vacation with my husband and ONLY my husband. - DONE! 2011 (Paris for our Anniversary)
29. Take my boys skiing.
30. Teach my boys to drive.
31. Teach my boys how to treat a lady.
32. Drive cross country one last time with no time constraints.
33. Have a room of my own to use as I'd like.
34. Take my boys on their first big roller coaster.
35. And drive them on their first date.
36. Go to Paris - DONE! 2011 (for our Anniversary)