Thursday, October 29, 2015

Goodbye Sunshine. See you in May

Last week, we started our Halloween celebrating by running the Haunted Hustle, a 1/4 mile kids race. Cora made it about 1/16 of the 1/4 mile, which I anticipated and thus brought a stroller because that's how her first 0.15 mile kids race went in August. It was fun though, and both Louisa and Cora loved the jack-o-latern finisher's medal they received after crossing the finish line. I had suggested to Louisa that she go as a sunshine, but she chose Little Red Riding Hood, which was fine. Sometime in the past year or two, I learned that it's not worth arguing about simple details like which costume a four (or two) year old is going to wear. I only suggested the sunshine because I sewed it two years ago and it still fits Louisa. So anyway, this part of the story is important because of what happened at the next costume-wearing-opportunity.

Cora choose to go as Raggedy Tinkle Bell
Nate surprised himself and us by catching an early flight home from Shanghai, so he returned around 4 pm on Wednesday instead of 5 pm on Thursday. We ate dinner together and then everyone, except me, was asleep by 8 pm. I considered going to bed too, but decided, in typical mom fashion, to stay up and enjoy the peace and the chance to do whatever I wanted. So I watched some HGTV on Netflix and daydreamed about our new house. After Small Spaces Big Design was over, our screen saver came on, showing a bunch of photos from our 3 years in California. I almost instantly felt this longing to be back in California, where the sun shines 355 days each year. To counter this sadness, I made a cup of hot tea, put on some Smartwool socks, and curled up in a blanket - things I always missed doing in California because it never got cold enough. While this warmth helped a bit, I was left with a feeling of regret. Did we make the right decision?

Of course it was the right decision, it's just that winter has finally arrived here in Madison. I knew the weather transition would be difficult, and yesterday was the first rainy, windy and cold day we've had since we moved back on May 24. That I know of (I was inside at work all day), the sun didn't shine. Finally around 10 pm, I went to bed, partly because I was tired and partly to stop dreaming of the California sunshine with my rose-tinted glasses.

I think I dreamt, but it wasn't about California, and I woke up slowly, so thankful that Nate was back and willing to receive all three kids as they woke at their normal time of 7:15. He even made breakfast...lucky me! On my days off (Tuesdays and Thursdays), I like to try to get out of the house and do something fun before Louisa catches the bus at 11:15. So during breakfast, I suggested that we go to the Madison Children's Museum for a Halloween party. Without any prompting, Louisa announced that she was going to be a sunshine today and Little Red Riding Hood for trick-or-treating on Saturday! So sweet. It's like she knew that I needed some sunshine.

At the museum, as I was wrangling the kids to get them into the car so Louisa wouldn't miss her bus, an adult volunteer called out to Louisa, Goodbye Sun! See you again in May! Oh how sweet his intentions were, but how harsh his words were to me. I sort of felt like I got punched in the gut. It was a joke though, right?! The sun will shine again before May, right? Yes, in-fact, it is right now. I may be wearing my down jacket inside as I type, but the sun is shining

Saturday, October 24, 2015

More Kitchen Design Talk

To the lovely ladies who shared their thoughts and some great links, here are Nate's drawing that offer more details to help you visualize our kitchen. The upper cabinets are not purposefully grey, although that's an idea too. And the counter tops are not purposefully black, probably just what was in Nate's mind because that's what we chose in our last kitchen re-design. 

We do plan to do butcher block on the island and the breakfast bar. The large window by the refrigerator makes it difficult to do anything too useful with that back wall, but maybe some open shelving between the window and the mudroom? There won't be a door to slam (knocking things off), just an opening. 

The two doorways on the adjoining wall are for the laundry room and pantry. That wall probably has some potential for open shelving, although it's also a thoroughfare, and will likely hold our spice rack.

Fun conversations! I'd love to host a kitchen-design party like our great friends the Cizeks did, but this blog chatting is the next best thing with you out of state and out of country folk!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kitchen Design Time

I wonder if asking others for their opinion about kitchen design is like asking their opinion about unborn baby names. You know, like you tell someone what you're leaning towards, and they make a "oh, that's nice" face?

But I'm going to go for it. Meaning, I'm going to show you pictures of our kitchen inspiration. Be honest and brainstorm with us. Just don't be sad if we don't ultimately choose your design.

What I like about the first kitchen below (from The Inspired Room) is the charcoal grey lower cabinets and white upper cabinets. I like the way they look on hardwood floors (which we'll keep in our kitchen) and how they lighten up and modernize the look. Stained wood can be beautiful too, but I think we'll have enough of it on the first floor that the kitchen needs to be something different.

I also like the white subway tile with dark grout, but wouldn't be able to handle white countertops. Would something darker contrast too much with a white backsplash?

Another thought is making the upper cabinets with glass fronts, just so things don't look too whitewashed? We are planning to have small cabinets all the way to the ceiling, so perhaps just having glass fronts on the small top cabinets, like this:

What do you think? Let's hear your honest feedback!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Picture (Frame) This

I always thought that if we had to pick a "hardest worker" in our family, it would be me. NO LONGER! Nate has laid this thought to rest over the past 3 months. He has put in so much time at the new house. Most recently, he's been framing our new spaces, including new window openings and basement stairs. When he's there, he's working incredibly hard, and when he's not, the mental energy he's using could fill a bazillion houses. If Louisa wasn't sleeping, I'd ask her to better quantify how much mental energy he's put toward this remodel. She loves to quantify intangible things, like love, saying I love you as much as 10 houses or 100 marbles. I know in her mind, 100 marbles is lots of love, so I don't explain how little that actually is or that it doesn't compare to 10 houses. I just take the love and try to store it up for days when I might feel under appreciated (not that a mother of three ever feels that).

Nate has to take a 10 day break from the house for some day-job responsibilities, and while he's away the heating and AC contractors are coming to do their heating and cooling magic. They will not only install a new furnace, air conditioner and all the necessary ducting, they will also haul away the old radiators and boiling that have been cramping my cleaning style. After the HVAC is installed, it's time to frame the back porch and install electrical and plumbing before the insulation team comes in. The windows and new front door have been ordered and should be installed before the end of November. While he's away, we expect our concrete guy to get the garage pad poured so we can attempt to host our second ever garage raising this fall.

For the most part, Nate seems fairly optimistic. There have been a few evenings when he comes home overwhelmed by his "to do" list. This is when I remind him to reflect on his "done" list, which is long and impressive. Louisa has spent some good quality time at the house with Nate and it's rubbing off on her...

Building a house at the Madison Children's Museum

Peter and Cora have spent less time in the construction zone, but are both growing up so much...Peter crawling and eating and Cora spouting off new words every day.

Barefoot at the park in October. What a beautiful fall we've had!

Please forgive the bib, but don't gift him a Packers one

It was a bit too dark to take a video of the progress last night, so I snapped a couple of photos instead. I hope that these photos help Nate realize the incredible job he's doing!

See Where Our Pictures Were Taken