Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kansas Day

I grew up in Kansas, and every January 29th when I was a child, we celebrated Kansas Day, the anniversary of the day Kansas joined the Union. There were costumes and crafts and learning Kansas facts. I have very fond memories of Kansas Day.

I live in Oregon now, and I love it here, but I like to bring a little Kansas to the party anyhow, so the kids and I made sunflower sugar cookies today. We put the dough together, then tinted it yellow. I cut out petal shapes with a knife, and they each pieced together their own flower.
They very excitedly watched the cookies bake.

Once they'd baked and cooled, I added chocolate frosting for the centers. We'll enjoy them after supper tonight, singing "Happy Birthday" to my beloved Kansas, of course.

Window Painting At The Dugout

My friend, Kim Basney has a great little deli and beer bar in Hillsboro with darts and video golf and trivia nights and LOTS of sports on TV. She has me make signs and paint windows for her, and it's neat to see her place settling in to the groove of what it wants to be. If you haven't been over there, think about giving the Dugout a try! Coming soon: burgers and fries on the menu!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fun Math

At the end of our math lesson about making a matrix out of paper shapes, the J-bird decided to make rockets flying to the moon. I love it!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pardon Me, I Need To Powder My Nose

 As I've mentioned, we've lived in our beloved house for eight years now. It's a house we saw constructed, for which we chose everything, in which we've arranged, re-arranged, and RE-re-arranged the rooms to suit our growing family. It has served us well, but it's been looking a little tired and worn. We re-vamped the master shower and the kitchen and had the paint on the front of the house re-done two years ago. Last year, we replaced the VERY ratty carpet and the equally-in-need-of-help back yard. This year, we're going with smaller projects, like the painted doors, some much-needed organizational systems (mainly for my overflowing craft supply disaster), and redecoration and painting of the kids' bathroom and the downstairs powder room. Projects we can do ourselves for a smaller cost.


I decided to start with the downstairs powder room, because it's small, and because it's the bathroom our guests use. It's also the bathroom our kids use most, because we spend most of our time downstairs. Without being indelicate, let me just say that it was QUITE clear that children make heavy use of this bathroom. I took every part of the seat off and sanitized it to death.


Anyway, I chose a medium gray color, wrapped the toilet in plastic wrap and got to work. I had to paint the ceiling as well, because our builders painted everything - walls AND ceilings - the same color. This makes any room-painting scenario twice as daunting, because painting ceilings is a gigantic pain in the neck. Whatever. I painted the ceiling first - a lesson learned from bitter experience - and then the walls.

 I wanted to keep the bright green accents I have in there - a jar on the windowsill and an antique mirror with green paint peeking out where the gray/taupe paint on top has liberally chipped.

 I also wanted to add a graphic element to one wall, so I drew this flower design on with chalk

 And then painted it on with some of my ceiling paint. I though about adding circles or petals or something, but I decided, in the end, that I like it the way it is. I added an antique drawer that also has some very chipped green paint on it to the back of the toilet and filled it with fake mums and hydrangeas. I kind of love it.

The little rug and step stool went back in, adding more touches of green.

 Then, I took the towel bar down and replaced it with this towel ring. I have always hated that blasted towel bar. It was hung so high that reaching for the towel meant water running down your arm and/or splashing all over the wall. The towel is now within easy reach of adult and child alike. Problem solved. I also replace the Dora the Explorer foaming soap dispenser with a more grown up foaming soap dispenser. Because I'm a grown up. I guess. ;)

 The last thing left to do is replace the lighting fixture. We have purchased a new one, but there are some obstacles with wiring and spacing. James is my hero and is trying to figure it out, but we may have to bring in an expert. Drat.

I'm not going to focus on that though. I'm just going to enjoy my gorgeous new powder room as I form my plan of attack for the kids' bathroom. Coming sometime (hopefully soon): Jungle Bathroom.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Risks of Kid Chores

I expect my kids to set and clear the table (at an age-appropriate level), and it usually works out really well. They've both grown very fond of putting their non-breakable dishes and cups into the sink, and they often remember to dump their trash and recycling into the appropriate receptacles first...but not always.

My sink disposal was making a clanking sound, which is never good news. I figured something might've slipped down the drain by mistake, and I was correct.

Here's some of what I found:

- the ring top from a can of V8 Fusion juice
- pieces of clear plastic straw wrapper
- mysterious shredded green plastic
- wood splinters and apple peels
- a hairpin (?!?!)

Clearly, I need to emphasize that trash and recycling need to be disposed of BEFORE hucking one's dishes into the sink. It's like these people are children, or something. ;)

Monday, January 21, 2013


It's like it's JANUARY or something.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's Gonna Be A Bright, Bright, Bright Sunshiny Door (Or Two)

 The inside of my front door was looking sad, drab, and scratched. I routinely scrub my doors, because they get unexpectedly grody, but it really needed to be re-painted. As I am on a quest for more color in our house, I decided to paint it some other-than-the-trim-color color, and I went with yellow.

 I like yellow. It's happy.

 I also painted the trim around the transom light. Initially, I went with a dark blue, but it looked HORRIFYINGLY BAD, so I mixed up a lighter green/blue, and, after 4000 coats of paint, I like it. I've always wanted to do something with that transom light, and this makes it just a little special.

 I switched out my neutral rugs for some inexpensive rainbow-y rag rugs, and voila! My entryway. Cheerful, functional, and imperfect. Kind of like me. :)

 Of course, being me, I then looked for other doors to paint yellow. My mom had suggested painting my pantry door something exciting, and that sounded dandy to me, so I went for it.

I love it so much, I can barely stand it.

It's the little things, man. I am quite easily pleased. And I grin every time I peep one of my happy, sunshiny doors.

Details: I used Sherwin Williams paint, and I only needed two light coats per door. I am deeply lazy, so I did not sand them at all at any point. Doesn't seem to have mattered. I also didn't take them off the hinges and put them on sawhorses like a pro. I just painted them where they are.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Makeshift Umbrella Stand

One might think, since I've lived in the Northwest for eight years, that I'd have clued into the fact that it's a rainy place, and that I'd have gotten my act together on an umbrella stand of some sort by now. One would think wrong. I did, however, finally decide I'd had enough of the drippy-umbrellas-heaped-on-the-floor and/or drippy-umbrellas-left-on-the-porch during the winter time, so I grabbed an old barstool from the garage (garage sale find from a few years ago that didn't work out the way I'd hoped) and my trusty spray paint, painted that baby, stuck some felt on the seat, turned it upside down, and called it an umbrella stand. It took one afternoon nap time to do, and I like it. It works well, anyway, and it's colorful, which goes along with my current quest for a rainbow hued house. I've toyed with the idea of putting some old doorknobs or cabinet pulls on the feet - opinions?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


 Our friends-who-are-family, the Beckers came over the other day for supper and a movie. We made lasagna together, and then, while it was in the oven, the kids worked on smashing some candy canes Amy had brought over (with the idea of putting the crushed candy into hot cocoa, which we forgot to do). The smashing was fun, if only moderately successful, the lasagna was heaven on a plate, and we had another fun night together. Yay, Beckers!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Dusting

 We got a little dusting of snow today, so, after we were done with our home school, the kids got suited up and went out to play for a while before lunch. Having grown up in Kansas, where nature goes dormant in the winter time, it's always funny to me to see snow on top of the very green Oregon grass. The kids had fun chasing each other around, discovering that their sandbox had filled with rainwater and then frozen solid, and trying to dig in the frozen garden, and I got a few minutes of quiet to drink some coffee in peace. Win-win!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Help Yo Self

 The J-bird has always been a picky eater, and I am guilty of every bad-mother approach to this issue. Sincerely, if there's a bad idea of what to do or not do with a kid at the table, I've tried it. And, as with most things involving children, the bigger deal you make about it, the bigger deal it becomes. What a drag.

Whatever. Anyway, he's almost six years old, and we've progressed to the point where he will eat what I put in front of him, grudgingly, but I realized that I'm probably not helping him or his sister (who is not picky in the least, but still) develop a relationship with food that even approaches healthy or realistic. I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong, and I have probably completely screwed this up so far, so - screeeeeeech! - I applied the brakes and changed course.

Now, I prepare the food (with their help, when possible), and it goes onto the table in serving dishes. They set the table with their empty plates and bowls, and then they help themselves to the amount of each food that they want to eat. They ARE required to have at least one bite of fruit and/or vegetables, and they are supposed to try to finish what they take, but that's about it for rules. Doing this has revolutionized meal times. Both kids are figuring out the manners we've had such limited success teaching them so far (offering the food to your sister/brother first, only taking what you will eat, realizing that it's only food and that we are lucky enough to have more of what we like/it's ok if there's some of what we don't like left over), and, with no one standing over them, demanding that they eat, complaints about the food have mostly disappeared. I am re-training myself not to nag at them to "take bites!" and "get done!". It's much more pleasant. And, when they're done, the kids clear their own dishes and we go on with our day.

My children are very fortunate to have been born into a life where there is more than enough food available to them. They have the luxury of "favorite foods" and foods they'd rather not eat. I recognize how lucky they are. Food can be fun. Food can be an indulgence. Food can simply be fuel. There are lots of different approaches to it, and I want them to figure out what it is to them, without me and my pressure and hovering gumming up the works. I take a moderate approach to what I serve them - mixing the strictly healthy in with the somewhat-less-nutritionally-sound kid faves, and I'm trying hard to stand back and let them help themselves.

 (Noodles cooked in chicken broth, with "shaky cheese" and Craisins on the side.)