Friday, April 20, 2018

Learning how to refinish floors & other things

We've officially been South Dakota homeowners for just over a month. It has truly been a whirlwind.  After we took this first photo in front of our new purchase, we spent that evening just trying to get a small space clean. The entire house was pretty sickeningly dirty, with a lot of leftovers from pets who had been roaming freely. Ick.

We felt really fortunate to have two weeks during which we were still living in our rental while putting in as many hours as we could at our new place. We would put the kids to bed in the one clean room and then work late into the night on many night. We knew anything we could get done before moving in would be a huge benefit.

Our biggest focus was on the things that would be hardest to do once we were already in the space ... which meant project #1 was figuring out how to refinish the hardwood floors which had peeling varnish, water damage, large gaps between boards and different stain colors from room to room. Nice!

Jason was amazing with his adventurous spirit and decided to give it a try. It didn't really sound too hard...

Except that our brains seemed to automatically tune out some of the tedious details ... like that you need to go over the floors with at least three different grits of sandpaper and use two types of sanders (one for the main area, one for the edges); cleaning up all the dust, etc after each time. Then once all that sanding and cleaning is done, the floor is cleaned with mineral spirits, then treated with a wood conditioner, then stained and then finally several coats of polyurethane.

What most write-ups don't give any tips on is what to do when you encounter irreversible mistakes made by previous re-finishers. Ugh. Turns out, we could have used some help in that area.

After days of work, there was something on the floors that did not allow the stain to adhere properly in the living room and hallway, leaving crazy splotches everywhere :(.  Additionally, the previous refinisher of those floors had left at least 20 places where they'd allowed the sander to gouge out long strips of the floor. Such a bummer and very disheartening.

We decided to spend one more day re-sanding and staining the bigger splotches

It didn't totally fix the issue, but we didn't know what else to do and knew we just needed to finish it up and move on.

Next came some work in the kitchen - pulling up the cracked/broken/dirty floor tile and refinishing the brown-checked counter top & backsplash ...

I felt a little bad to cover up such perfectly retro tile ... but I just didn't think I wanted to live with it long-term even if I could appreciate how awesomely 50's it was.

Cabinet refinishing to follow ...

After that came lots of wall repairs, priming, painting and always more cleaning.

And, then our two weeks was up and it was time to MOVE. We felt incredibly blessed by six folks from our church who showed up to load/unload and by a break in the snowy/windy/freezing weather.

Everything was IN and we were left wishing that like our last move, we could just take off to Vermont for a week and deal with unpacking later. No deal this time. And while I'm thankful our living room has been transformed from the above picture to the below ... we still have a lot of unpacking, sorting and organizing to do (in addition to completing many, many more projects on the house).

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Watching Luke turn 5!!

Luke turned 5 on Monday and I have to admit, it has felt like a big milestone. For us and for him. He's officially out of the baby/toddler years and that is crazy. We feel so fortunate to have him be part of our lives. We know he is a special gift and we are thankful for him.

I'll admit, I did feel a bit badly as I had very little time to prep for his birthday -- we've been working on our new house for the past two weeks during any/every moment we could, then moved our stuff Friday, cleaned our old home on Saturday, had Easter on Sunday and then his birthday Monday. Whew! It was quite a blur.

We felt really glad that in spite of the start to some more terrible weather ...

... Luke still had 7 of his friends come out for a playdate to celebrate him. Another special gift, the Outdoor Campus (which has a wonderful indoor area for kids) was closed on Monday, but the security guard had been given clearance to have it open and let us all in!! So so thankful for that kind man.

After seeing pictures of a "rainbow cake," Luke had requested the same for his birthday. My attempt was very last minute. It's not the colors of a rainbow, but it's a layer cake with different colors. Pretty good I think considering we're still in the midst of unpacking.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Finding Luke's 11th home!

We are moving again this month. Hopefully this will be our last move while Jason works in S. Dakota. Luke turns 5 next month and I was counting up the number of homes we've lived in since he was born and it's ELEVEN. I never moved even once until I was 18 - so go Luke! Hoping this hasn't damaged him, but instead makes him a flexible, adventurous person :)

Here are Luke's 11 homes --

1. Our beloved Vermont barn

2. First Guatemala home

3. Second Guatemala home (needed to find something more affordable)

4. We got flooded out of our second home (perhaps that's why it was cheaper?) and had to move back to our first home until we found this, our third Guatemala home

5. First Idaho home - just for a few weeks, but what a blessing it was as we transitioned into Idaho life

6. Second Idaho home - loved this cozy garage apartment in the woods!

7. Third Idaho home -- summering at Priest Lake

8. Forth Idaho home - our very first home purchase

9. Washington home -- summering in Leavenworth

10. First S. Dakota home

11. Second (& hopefully last!) S. Dakota home!

We were really fortunate to be eligible for a small grant which allowed us to purchase this little 50's bungalow. The house and neighborhood lack the charming, historic character of our current situation and there is a lot of work to be done on the house, but the neighborhood is nice and it is more affordable than our rental. We have much to be thankful for.

I am reminded once again of 2 Chronicles 29:16 "Lord our God, all of this abundance ... comes from your hand and all of it belongs to you." 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Making friends

For the first few months after we moved here, I wasn't ready to put myself out on the friend-market again. Leaving amazing friends in Moscow, to find more awesome friends in Leavenworth and then leave them as well made me want to just take a break from all that relationship building entails.

In December, I realized my break in this area was really hard for Luke. Our super-social boy who loves playing hard with other kids had been left with just me and Mabel for months. In January I started making an effort to plan playdates with folks we'd met through the library, MOPS and in our neighborhood. Luke is happier and it is good for all of us, but boy is friend-dating exhausting!

I am thankful for the women that God is placing in my life, especially the Mom's of these kiddos. We each have one 4 year old and one 2 year old ... and, they all play well together (most the time!)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sleeping past 7

I doubt that I'm the only one who becomes obsessed with sleep after having it taken away on a repeated basis. Ever since Luke was born I have been obsessed. Even though he started sleeping through the night at a decent age, his morning wake up has generally been very early. He is an early riser no matter when we put him to bed; and often if he's put to bed late, he wakes up even earlier than usual.

All summer, he was sleeping until 6 on most days, but Mabel was getting up for the day with the sun. This meant that somewhere between 4:45 - 5:30 I would make a mad dash for their room to snatch her before she woke Luke up. It made for some mornings that felt very long.

After moving here, both kids seemed to get into a good routine of both sleeping past six ... until early November. Then they both started waking up 3+ times a night to go to the bathroom which meant I needed to be up also since Mabel still needs help getting on/off the toilet.

After weeks of that routine, I finally realized that Luke was waking Mabel up since she's a light sleeper and had the idea of having Luke sleep elsewhere. A little tricky in a 2-bedroom house, but we've been doing it for several months now and Mabel has been sleeping in until SEVEN (and even after) on many days. It's been a-mazing! Twice it's even happened on a weekend which was really lovely.

All that to say ... we're attempting to get them back in the same room again for the night. I don't know if I'm ready for it :)

Our month closed out with a larger snow storm and then some above zero degree days to play in the snow without literally freezing ourselves. A pleasant change.

We made use several times of the free snowshoe loaner service provided through the Outdoor Campus -- Luke loved learning to use snowshoes --

Got plenty of tubing in on the hill across the street --

It even got warm enough for the snow to stick together for a snowman to be built --

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Driving through a snowy Spearfish Canyon

Almost every year since we got married, I've created a photo calendar with photos from each month from the year before. It's a fun way to remember the previous year and pretty much the only "photo-booking" I do these days. For the past three years, when making our calendar February has completely stumped me. I literally have had only one or two photos. For the entire month. For three years running. That is just how dreary and yucky February in Idaho is ... this year we vowed to try to DO something photo-worthy this month. 

So when we had a somewhat decent weather day recently, we took a drive through the scenic Spearfish Canyon. This place was spectacular when we drove through it in Fall and I was curious how it would look in the snow. We were not disappointed. Around every curve there were beautiful mountains and a very chilly looking creek.

Coming through the town of Deadwood at the end of our drive.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Celebrating an early Valentine's Day

Jason has a work trip this week - his company's annual convention (which is planned every year over Valentine's Day) - so we celebrated Valentine's Day with the kids while he was still home.

I have never tried to make pancakes in any particular shape as I'm usually just hoping for getting them fully cooked without burning; but in the spirit of the holiday I decided to try heart-shaped. Whew, it wasn't always pretty, but with these helpers what could go wrong?  ;-)

The kids even wanted to dress for the occasion for church on Sunday. Super cute :)