Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Awesome House: Heat Lamps

The days are getting cooler around here, and we have the heat on some days. But I sleep hot so I like to keep my room cool at night, by closing the vents and sometimes opening the window. Which is awesome and snuggly and fine while we're in bed.

But the funny thing about night is that at the end is morning. And we have to get up. And it's cold. And it's especially cold in the bathroom. And even more so if you strip down, get in the shower, and get wet.

But some genius previously involved with our house, bless them forever, had the same problem, and installed heat lamps in all three of our full bathrooms. You know, the kind you find in hotels - you switch it on, it casts a high-energy yellow or orange hot light accompanied by a buzzing fan sound. And it heats up a closed bathroom quick like. It's not something you might expect, or require, in a house. And in these energy-efficient times, you may not ever go to the trouble and expense to have them installed.But every single morning this last week I have sent silent thank-you's out into the universe to whoever put those in our house. By the time I'm showered and dressed I'm almost too hot, and have to turn it off and cool off in the bedroom before drying my hair. It's a problem I'm all too happy to have.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Starting Early

This year I'm skipping Halloween and Thanksgiving and just starting Christmas now. I understand this may bug some people - those of you who scoff indignantly at the holiday catalogs arriving, at the Christmas stock already nudging Halloween out of store aisles. It probably would have bugged me too before I was The Mom but I honestly can't remember back that far.

I mean, obviously most people are thinking about gifts and who to get what, and how to budget the next few paychecks. Christmas card pictures must be ordered (or taken and ordered), letters written. Travel is arranged. Party invitations are starting to arrive. There are stocking stuffers to collect, meals to plan and packages to mail. Which is EXACTLY why I'm starting now. Because last year, despite best efforts, I woke December 26 a little disappointed. The Christmas season, and especially that week, had been a little too busy, and not meaningful enough for my taste. So I'm trying to pace myself - get a lot of the To-Do's done in November, keep the December calendar a little more open, and seek traditions to test drive. I'm a bit aimless in the traditions department, but I have an appreciation for their role, especially around Christmas, so I'm searching.

I've been playing Christmas music, and putting a few new CD's on my wish list. Collecting children's Christmas books like a bandit - that will have its own post soon. Planning gifts (on a spreadsheet, using a code for Ed's gifts in case he sees the list, but every time I can barely remember how to decipher the code myself - lame!) Got my gift wrap ordered from the school fundraiser.

I just remember last year thinking, "Note to self: the kids got too much stuff, and December was too hectic." So I'm making very, very sure to scale back on the kids' things this year. What do they really need? Not much. And maybe December will always feel hectic to The Mom, but if I go into it with more To-Do's checked off, and a better plan for celebration and relaxation, maybe I - and everyone - can get more out of it. Or maybe I'll have to start even earlier next year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bed Time

After 6 years on a slightly-broken hand-me-down metal frame, a year on a built-in platform in a rented house, and 4 months of a mattress on the floor in our new house, Ed and I have gotten a bed, a real bed.Wouldn't it be nice if our room actually looked like that?

We picked it up yesterday and assembled it this morning. It was quite the cause for excitement around our house. The girls could be distracted by neither treat nor TV; they wanted to HELP. So Ed found an empty box (yes, we are still unpacking) and told them if they were going to be in our room, they had to stay in the box. The instructions came in both French and English so we gave them the French instructions and told them to supervise.When we'd gotten a little further along and were working on the corner feet and brackets, we let them out of the box. They brought in their plastic tools and worked on the styrofoam the bed had been packed in.
The assembly was quick and basically painless. It helped that the bed wasn't from IKEA. It's not quite the finished product yet - we still plan to get the headboard and nightstands, just on a different paycheck - but it feels like a new room. And I'm pretty sure tomorrow, when I only have to get up from a sitting position rather than a squat, I will feel like a new woman. Yes, we're getting there, bit by bit.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Cabin

About two and a half hours west of here (almost five hours if you decide to go during Friday night rush hour before a holiday weekend and make several stops like getting your 4-year-old new shoes at Target because you turned around in the car to realize she's barefoot instead of having put her shoes on like you thought, and the only other shoes you packed were for church) is a hidden-away 55-acre property in West Virginia, to which my parents escape almost every weekend. In our family, it is known simply as "The Cabin."

Last weekend, while Ed was off hunting in Colorado - successfully, I might add - the girls and I packed up and headed out to The Cabin for the weekend. Here's how a typical weekend at the cabin might go:

You arrive late Friday night. Bring in sleeping kids, tuck them in. Adults sit around in the living room drinking cocoa and catching up in quiet tones until someone (or everyone) starts to doze off. Go to bed. You might stay up late at this point, reading a favorite book and relishing in the fact that you have two whole days away from your house and all its chores.

Saturday morning Grandpa makes pancakes for breakfast - plenty for everyone and then some. You bundle up in warm jackets and go outside for the morning "chores" which consist of riding around the property in Grandma's supped up custom golf cart refilling bird feeders and bird baths.Then you might take some time to play in the new treehouse Grandpa and Uncle Dave built last summer. It's not exactly in a tree, but it is in the trees, and up high. Structurally sound to boot. Every grandchild to visit thinks s/he owns the treehouse, and has made good use of the pully bucket, speaking tube, spy glass and kid-size broom. My girls got in there and immediately claimed, "I'm so busy! I have a million chores to do!" These included sweeping the leaves out, and bringing up acorns in the bucket.
After the treehouse you might ride the golf cart up the gravel driveway to a location called "the beach" - a sandy area Grandma keeps stocked with weather-resistent hoo-haw from thrift stores like stone sandcastle statues and plastic dolphin knick knacks. After clearing the area of leaves, you might try to relax and not get bothered that your kids are getting covered in wet sand while they dig and play for awhile. You might go to your happy place and remember how magical childhood is or something like that.

After a busy morning you'll have a good lunch of sandwiches, fruit, chips and yogurt. Then you'll take advantage of Grandma's big heart and sneak off for a nap at the same time as your 2-year-old. Your non-napper will have a great time doing drawing, stickers, reading books, and playing checkers with Grandma. After naps your kids will play downstairs with Grandma's collection of toys, mostly leftover from your own childhood, and they'll end up giggling and playing in the papasan that used to be in your room as a teenager.Before long, it's time to go outside again. Your kids will play "soccer" with a ball and cones. They'll swing in the hammock and pick flowers.
When they see you wandering off for a quiet walk in the perfect fall weather, they'll want to hold your hands and go with you, only to complain after three minutes that they're tired and want you to carry them back.

Grandma will make something FABULOUS for dinner, like a hearty stew that everyone gobbles up, and then Grandpa will go out back and build an impressive fire for sitting around, and later, for roasting marshmallows. You'll discover that your kids only like the idea of roasting marshmallows and eating s'mores, that in fact they prefer to eat plain marshmallows, chocolate pieces and graham crackers separately while walking on the log benches like balance beams and making up cute songs about camping. No matter, more s'mores for you, done just right with the chocolate getting melty on the graham cracker strategically placed on a stone near the fire while you roast your marshmallows to perfection. You might eat...more than one of these.
You'll stay up late again, reading your favorite book again, loving your little vacation and how happy and healthy your children seem out here.

Sunday morning is pretty straightforward - leave at 8:30 for church, a tiny congregation in the nearby town, and return around lunchtime. Eat lunch, more naps. Wake up and it's time to pack up again. Maybe one more romp to the treehouse; a quick trip to the beach to pick up the buckets and shovels left yesterday. Pack the car while Grandma and Grandpa close up the house - trash out, food put away, mice traps set, beds stripped, water shut off, etc.

Drive home to the chorus of, "When can we go back to the cabin???"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Awesome House: Fireplaces

There are two major compromises we made in the purchase of this house: electric cooking (rather than gas) and no driveway. Kind of big ones but in the end worth it for the space, location and other cool features like my freaking awesome kitchen (despite coils.)

Now that the weather has turned colder this last week we've been turning up the heat and last night we made our first FIRE in our fireplace! Excuse me, in ONE of our fireplac-ES. We have two - one in the main level living room and one in the second level family/play room:Fireplaces are awesome and we made a whole big deal night of it. After dinner we all got in our jammies, built a fire team-effort style, played Memory and ate Sour Cream Pumpkin Bars with Brown Butter Frosting (watch for it on the VGP - "Pumpkin Week" is coming up in November!)Then after the girls went to bed Ed and I snuggled down on the couch talking (catching up after a week apart for the hunting trip) and watching the flames fade to embers. Definitely one of the most cozy, happy and satisfying Friday nights I've had in a long time. Hooray for fireplaces! Hooray for my awesome house!
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