Wednesday, November 5, 2014

little house on the Palouse.

Our house. Oh, our humble little abode. I love our house. I feel like I'm home when we pull up into the driveway. I knew it from the first time we saw it. It was our house.

But first, it belonged to a middle-aged Chinese couple. They were empty nesters with significantly different tastes than our own. When we looked at our house, I saw potential, and that is why we went for it. We've been in the house for 3 months now, and some of that potential has come to fruition. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm any sort of home decorating pro. I pin much better than I create. But we love our home. Here's what we've done, to date, to make it our own. (PS. Forgive me these are all terrible quality iPhone pictures, especially the ones from before the previous owners moved out. I love that we get so much natural light in our house, but it makes taking pictures of it tricky.)

The main living area was priority number one. We hired an inexpensive (and therefore imperfect) painter to paint the living room and mantle. He threw in the kitchen for free! We went from yellow and wood to gray and white. We replaced the blinds and painted the fireplace face. Though it doesn't show up in pictures, the wood grain pattern above the mantle shows up through the white paint, and I love the way it turned out.

I love our living room. It is long and open, despite being cut off slightly from the kitchen by a bearing wall. We found the big temple print at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, of all places (got to love Idaho). We had been wanting a big Bountiful picture, since we got married there, but I felt like Deseret Book didn't really ever sell it. We were so excited to find it, and I love that it hangs so prominently in our home. I also love having a mantle. It is so fun to decorate it according to seasons.

Changing the fireplace front made a huge difference. After the mantle was painted white I almost thought the gold would be good enough, but I'm so glad we decided to go black. We yanked the face out and taped the glass. Then I used Rustoleum High Heat spray paint. It is designed for grills so it can withstand high heat should we ever decide to get our wood-burning fireplace in working order. It made such a big difference in making it look more modern, and the finish of the paint matches the surrounding black metal on the fireplace perfectly.

Attached to the kitchen and next to the living room is our dining room. We extended the gray paint down the wall (that dining room wall is the same wall the temple picture is hanging on). The wall with the door was yellow, and other sections were mint green. These parts are what our painter painted white for us. It was so kind of him and it turned out exactly like I wanted it to. We got our table from Amazon. Eight years of a shaky, sticky hand-me-down table and metal folding chairs finally gave way to a real one. I really wanted one with 8 chairs for when we have guests, but that just wasn't going to happen at our price point. I love our table though. It fits our space perfectly.

We tore out the vertical blinds. Two weeks into living here and the kids had already taken out 4, so they weren't going to last long anyway. And they were old and yellow and ugly. I had seen using curtains on sliding glass doors but was hesitant. I really wanted horizontal striped curtains, but couldn't find any. We were at the TJ Maxx in Lewiston and ahhhhhh! there were horizontal striped curtains! It was a home decor miracle! I had thought I wanted navy stripes, but love the way the "greige" stripes look in our kitchen. The curtains were oversized, so I did a crude hemming job on them, but it is holding up against washes so that is all I care about. The Consider the Lilies print hangs on the dining room wall, and the window frames hold seasonal pictures (right now it is kids in fall leaves and pumpkin patches). And that light fixture . . . another Amazon find (Amazon is your best friend when you live in a place with limited shopping). We had everything done for a long time before Chris's parents came to town and his dad helped replace it. That old gold and glass light fixture haunted me. Changing it made all the difference. I'm so in love. I still can't believe how different it looks from when we saw it for the first time in May. 

A few more pieces of our home. I realized I don't have a picture of the whole kitchen. I originally wanted to paint the cabinets, as the light wood isn't my favorite, but they are new nice cabinets and I have a feeling painting them would be disastrous. I would like to change the backsplash some day. On the left is the kitchen side of the bearing wall. The bottom is the opposite side of the living room from the pictures above. Next on my list for this area is figuring out how to change the light fixture you can see above the staircase. I wanted a fun-colored accent table under the pictures of the kids, but the kids come running down the hall at high speeds, and a table would just block their path and create safety hazards. Perhaps someday when they no longer run up and down the hall. But I hope that never happens.

Down the stairs we go to the basement. You'll find an outdated bathroom that I'm excited to make super cute someday. I'm thinking stripes on the walls. Who wants to do that for me? But that will be a project for another year. Our basement is a big L-shaped playroom. Right now we don't spend a ton of time down there. We are usually upstairs or outside, but I have a feeling that will change when the weather takes a turn the the worst. I love the space. It is bright and kid-oriented, and was so fun to set up. The side not pictured is pretty bare. Some day maybe we'll own a television again and we'll put it down there. Maybe even a couch to go with it? Then we'll be living the high life.

We'll go out to the garage from the basement, and walk around to get a view of the front door. Don't mind the wreck of a front yard. We yanked out a lot of dead and nasty plants, and now have a fabulous mess of dirt and rocks. Spring will bring landscaping lessons. Our front door was a honey wood that I didn't love. I wanted to paint it, but our exterior is off-white with pale blue trim. I didn't like the pale blue enough to match the door to it, but no other color seemed to be a good idea. Then my mom suggested navy, and moms are always right. I picked out a color that sure looked navy in the sample, but when I opened it, it was anything but. Royal. It was royal. I primed with a tinted primer that turned the door gray. I actually loved the gray, but it wouldn't have looked good on the house. I began the blue and was on the verge of freak-out. It was SO blue. Luckily, it dried darker and it was growing on me. I would stand in the front yard and just stare at the door, trying to decide if I wanted to keep it, if I needed to do more coats. One time Carly was being insanely indecisive and ended up getting in trouble because of her behavior over it. Later she told me, "It was just like how you can't decide about the front door." Touche, child. Touche. I did one last coat and it made the difference. I really like it. And now we can tell people, "We're the house with the blue door,"

The projects continue. We are currently in the midst of revamping the kids room, and I'm excited for that to come together. Our master bedroom and bathroom need to be done. It is our first master "suite", even though our bathroom is pretty small, and I want to get it just right. I'm trying to decide what I want . . . and, I guess, what Chris wants. The yard will probably take a few years to get perfect. And the second bedroom, the tiny one, hosts the blow-up mattress when guests come to town. Along the way there will be leaky pipes and broken lights. But that is home ownership; the American dream.  

This house of ours isn't perfect, but it is perfect for us. The day before we closed on our house in July, a friend (coincidentally) shared this quote on Facebook: 

"The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of far greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles, and will work miracles. Pure hearts in a pure home are always in whispering distance of Heaven." -David O McKay

Naturally, there were tears. What a sweet thought. We have a beautiful home, and we try to fill it with love. We pray we can fill it with the Spirit. We want it to be a safe place, a refuge from the storms of life we face and that our children will face some day. I love this home not because of the ways we've fixed it up, but because it plays host to art projects, ballet performances, giggling lunch times, and bedtimes stories. I see daily miracles here, and when we kneel in our living room to pray, I know we are in whispering distance of heaven. 

It really is our home, sweet, home.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

a Washington October.

As October rolled on, I was experiencing some heartache. It is no secret I've missed Michigan, but October in Michigan is the very best. My heart missed the brilliant colors, our big tree and piles of leaves, and our favorite cider mill. A week into October everything here was still green. I saw that quote, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers", and thought I didn't anymore. It was all ridiculous, this I realize, but what can I say. So I decided to shift my attitude and figure out what Washington Octobers were all about.

Halloween pajamas from grandma.
We found a pumpkin patch. We went with some of our friends and it turned out quite fun. There was a petting zoo, a hay pyramid, farmer's market style fruit and veggie stands, and of course, a pumpkin patch. The patch was a large field surrounded my small mountains, and it was so beautiful. We spent a lovely afternoon there, and didn't even need coats and winter hats. I got to snuggle a bunny and Carly picked out the most gorgeous big pumpkin, so really what else do you need?

A few nights later we headed over to our friends' house for a pumpkin carving party. Pumpkin carving isn't really my thing. Its gross and hard, and I spend entirely too much of my time doing things that are gross and hard. The last few years we have been carving just one pumpkin, a traditional jack o'lantern. But he (our pumpkin) always turns out so cute. My carver does a good job. And when my kids are willing to dig out the pumpkin guts, they are welcome to carve one of their own. The kids were quite smitten with our little pumpkin though. And so was I.

And what is October without Halloween costumes? Last year the kids all matched under a theme, but this year I decided to let them pick anything they wanted (and honestly they are so stubborn I doubt I could have gotten them all to match anyway), and the results perfectly defined each of them. Since each kid had landed on a costume they loved so much, I decided to try to take costume pictures. The Monday before Halloween we made it our FHE activity, and the results turned out so fun. The kids love them, so we've decided to hang them in their room.

 Quinn developed an unexplained love for Snow White sometime around the end of September. She's never seen the movie, but loved stories about her. And I'm thinking the red lips has something to do with it. As the fates would have it, I found a barely used Snow White dress at a consignment store for $2. It was a Halloween miracle. Quinn loved her Snow White dress, and wore it daily. I was a little worried about it surviving until Halloween, but we made it. I found a sparkly red cloak on Amazon to top off the look. Most importantly, she was allowed to wear red lipstick. She loves "red lips". One day Quinn was requesting red lipstick and I kept denying her. I was praying over lunch and she leaned over and whispered "Me red Snow white lips." So I said "please bless that Quinn can have red Snow White lips" and she broke into a huge smile. It was so sweet. And of course, she got Snow White lips after lunch. Her pictures were quite simple, as we happen to have an apple tree in the backyard and a windstorm had just littered the ground with apples. We went our there and she turned into a little model, posing perfectly. Quinn was a perfect Snow White. The fairest one of all.

There was very little questioning what John would be. He's been a fan of diggers and tools and "work" as long as he's been old enough to be a fan of anything. I was trying to figure out his construction worker (or "Bob the Builder") costume when a friend texted and said she had a pair of construction worker overalls. She was kind enough to send them my way and they were the most perfect thing. He looked so adorable and loved wearing his hard hat and tool belt. He would wear his hard hat until bedtime and put it on his shelf next to his bed right before he climbed in. And often he'd come out of his room in the morning with it on. For his pictures I had noticed a little digger at the end of a neighborhood road where it appears they'll eventually be building more houses. It was perfect. John excitedly smiled for pictures, and when we were done, he started walking toward the digger. I told him we had to go and he burst into tears. Not a fit; real sadness. "Me drive dig dig?" he asked with hope. He actually thought he was going to get to drive it! Break my heart. He was so so sad as we drove away. He's a devoted worker, that boy.

Carly was debating between Elsa and Wonder Woman for months. I tried not to be bias, but I really wanted her to be Wonder Woman. I knew there would be so many Elsas, and I thought Wonder Woman would be a really fun costume. Luckily, she went my way on that one. We found a Wonder Woman shirt that came with the crown and wristbands, and a blue tutu that I added white stars to. She liked to zip around in her costume. We headed to "downtown" Pullman to take her pictures. Pullman is sadly lacking in graffiti, as I thought that would be a fun backdrop. But the townscape worked well. She was a super Wonder Woman.

Halloween finally arrived. I had done very little in terms of Halloween fun, because in years past we've been over Halloween before it even arrived. Luckily, all our festivities fell right in a row. We had our ward truck-or-treat the night before, and on Halloween we had a playgroup party (where Quinn mysteriously decided to be Super Girl and Carly wanted to be a "cheetah princess" from a mix of things from our dress-up box), Carly's school party, and the main event. 

All the excitement made for some pretty crazy kids. They were bouncing off the walls on Friday, and it wasn't a particularly good day. But trick-or-treating was SO much fun. The kids were so sweet and excited and polite. And so big! They were such kids running from door to door. At some point I've gone from a mom of a toddler and two babies to a mom of three kids. It was the perfect weather. Cool but not too cold with hazy clouds partially covering the moon. It snowed in Michigan on Halloween. I wasn't missing that one bit. It was a really perfect evening and we came home and ate a bit of candy and watched Garfield's Halloween before getting to bed way too late. Then Chris and I, in our lazy Minnie Mouse and Theo Epstein "costumes", claimed our 50% candy tax.

Near the end of October I was driving down a hill and looked up over our little town. The trees were brilliant shades of yellow, with touches of orange and red. Grand "forevergreens", as Carly calls them, popped up in the mix. Tears came to my eyes. It was beautiful. Every home we have, every place we love, has its own beauty. October came. And you know what? It came slower, so we could enjoy it longer. It came with beautiful sunny days and not a single bit of snow. I haven't had to pull out our winter coats yet. We live in a safe, friendly neighborhood for trick-or-treating. And we make apple crisp from the apples in our backyard. Yes, there are perks to Washington Octobers, and I'm so glad I live in a world where they exist.