I found The Lego Christmas Ornaments Book: 15 Designs to Spread Holiday Cheer by Chris McVeigh at the library and paged through it for the boys. When I saw the camera I knew I’d bring it home. Then I told the boys I wanted to make the camera for myself using their stash, if that was okay.
They said it was just fine. Little Fella decided he’d like to help. The little square book propped open on the floor, we dug for matching colored pieces and cheered when we located what we needed. Then Little Fella started suggesting doing things differently, taking the step by step directions as suggestions rather than rules. Then he grabbed it out of my hands and took over. Just like that it was complete (and a bit different than the one in the book). Now it sits in our bedroom on our tiny bookcase, our little homemade camera. Because in the end, books are just suggestions, right? I’m glad he learned that so young.
When we moved in this November, it was a bit rushed. We succeeded moving in before snow started stacking up around our Airstream. I got things unpacked and mostly organized, enough to get Christmas going. It’s not only until now that I’m really starting to solidify homes for items. I’ve spent time in the kitchen this past week (which is smaller than our last) deciding what needs to be in the immediate vicinity. I have overflow storage down the hall in the laundry room for the popcorn machine, ice cream maker, and a few other things I really do use, but not weekly. I’ve utilized our canning jars and label maker and a little Konmari folding for napkins too. So, this kitchen is settling in nicely and just feeling better.
Also, I just wanted to mention that we decided against a dishwasher for our plan. With the open shelving up top, we needed all the space below for food and utensil storage. We have one large sink which fills with dishes so quickly it can make my head spin. Some times I curse the decision, but more often I don’t. I grew up drying dishes that my sister washed every night. Now Dear Husband washes while I dry or the boys dry. I’ve never owned a dishwasher that worked amazingly anyways. We did put an outlet and have a spot for it if we do want one, but now, we don’t.
While planning the house, the one thing I knew I wanted above all else was a wall of cubbies. We were reducing our living space by 1000 sq. ft. Instead of stuffing in a bunch of furniture to store our things, which we would continually have to navigate around, I wanted open space. I wanted our items in one place, along one wall in the house in floor to ceiling cubbies.
We originally planned for the wall of cubbies in the living room area. We talked about incorporating a built-in desk and TV stand. However, it became clear there was not enough wall space due to the wood stove and frankly a too short wall. We then thought about lining the hall with them. The trouble with storing items in a hallway is width, we felt we’d bump into each other too often while trying to pass by those using the shelving. Our architect had a practical solution, make the hall extra wide. From the wall to the front of the cubbies we have about 4’4″. It’s plenty roomy.
So, now instead of my wall of everything I have a hall of everything. We built the cubbies in 8 foot sections from gorgeous plywood. Dear Husband trimmed them out with chalkboard paint so I can label and change them as needed. What’s here? School books, other books, toys, sheets, records, games, yarn, fabric, batteries, flashlights and so on. You know, everything!
We installed a pulley for the boys loft area, the hold up has been the basket. I didn’t know what to choose. I wanted something lightweight but strong. It needs to hold a lot, but not hurt someone if it falls. Flipping through the book Zakka Handmades by Amy Morinaka I found just the thing, a fabric bucket. Big, sturdy, super lightweight and soft.
With pattern requirements in hand, I made a Hobby Lobby stop and found some fab prints on clearance! Then I sewed. Then the boys joined in. Then I noticed I was walking away and they were sewing the bucket themselves! They would call once in a while for reassurance, but by golly that arrow print bucket they did a lot of work on. I’m so proud.
The thing is, it’s really too big. Not to worry, I had two more prints to go. I made them both into medium size buckets, about 12″ tall. I made two more needing only one of course, but anyhow, that size will be perfect. (The bonus is the boys will use them for Valentine mailbox swapping too.)
Now we can finish the rope and hook and get that project finished.
We’ve dived into a few different science experiments lately. We found a fun book called Labcraft Wizards, Magical Projects and Experiments by John Austin. It’s full of “normal” experiments presented with a magical twist. So the egg above has it’s shell getting dissolved by vinegar and is a “dragon egg.” We’ve also done “crystal courage” which was actually hard crack candy making – a sweet project. We had birthday balloons decorating the living room this week for Dear Husbands birthday. Those have all fallen prey to bamboo skewers, a noisy experiment to see if the skewer can go through the balloon without popping it. Little fella was successful once! Another “magical” experience.
Also, at Christmas the boys received a crystal geode making kit. It’s in its final stages, finally. That one has been a week-long affair.
Science is super easy to get the boys involved in. They love the hands on experimenting. It’s been a great way to motivate my older son to read as well. We listen to him dictate the steps (he’ll read recipes for us too). I used to be the one presenting the ideas, now I love that they can read through and pursue what THEY want.
On November 17th we had our final house inspection and jumped for joy as we received approval to move in. It did NOT mean we were ALL done, but the cold weather was pushing us to just go for it. We still had a list of things to complete, little things. Trim here, paint here. We actually STILL have a list, although it’s lots shorter. My greatest fear was we’d move in and feel settled and let the list just sort of dangle while we took a break. It’s so hard to get back to that list of projects. Not to worry, Dear Husband is on it. He’s been enthusiastically tying up those loose ends.
Anyhow, one of my ultimate favorite things about our house is the built-in shelving in our very long hallway. We designed the hallway wider than most to accommodate cubbies and ample movement for passersby. I’m just elated to have all of our stuff in one spot! I’ve dubbed it the “hall of everything.” In the above photo Dear Husband is finishing up the chalkboard trim install (will do one last layer of paint soon.)
I also like that our house has one large room that serves as our kitchen and living area. I’m close to getting it finished up. I have some more items to hang and so on, but for the most part it’s very exciting to see the clutter decreasing. Most things have found a home, which is making it feel like a real home.
It seems I’m a bit out of the habit of posting, which I hate. We are still moving in, we are still sorting and doing holidays and working and it’s time-consuming. However, I love this little space to savor our fun times and I can’t let it go. I’ve decided to make myself do a weekly post on the books we are currently enjoying, which should lubricate the wheels and get me posting about our other nonsense soon enough. The local library system has books flowing in and out of here like tidal waves. Man alive, I love the library so why not post about our favorite books?
We have done three unique projects out of the lovely book Modern Art Adventures by Maja Pitamic and Jill Laidlaw. I have a handful more selected the boys will create as well. This book is full of versatility, exploring art projects by movements. The book uses mostly items we have on hand, which makes diving in quite accessible. The boys have painted, collaged, and created a silhouette so far. Our next projects will involve tape and more paint.
I found the book by searching the author Maja Pitamic. She created a fabulous Montessori game book we adored when the kiddos were young. I’m thrilled she’s gone on to create this art book. I will continue to check out her wonderful titles.
Quickly, I just want to give a shout out the library. The fact that I can get my hands on such current and engaging materials is such a privilege I am especially thankful for as a homeschooling family. Now that we have a house with space to create and store materials it’s been my privilege to scour the library again.
(p.s. Post up some fabulous art books you love in the comments so we can check them out.)
We have separate rooms now. We installed the insulation and are working on finishing up the walls. I’ve been taping, mudding, and sanding. It’s a messy job. Dear Husband has been running electric in his shop, smartly steering clear of drywall jobs, but the boys do like mudding for a tiny bit. Together we all painted and installed (not the boys on this one, it’s 10 foot ceilings) the tongue and groove (car siding) ceiling. It’s fabulous.
We had the propane tank delivered and filled, we’ve got all the guts piped and run, now it’s just a matter of walls and finishing. It’s hard to see large progress now, because the changes are small. It’s in the details. It is exciting to get closer to those finishing touches that will be forever visible. It’s nail-chomping to see if we made the right choices too. Will the black kitchen cabinets look as awesome as I hope?
All in all, it’s home-ish and I’m getting excited.
I knit my very first pair of socks. Socks! I am just so excited because they are legit! They look awesome, they feel awesome, and they are useful. Should I mention I scored the yarn at a garage sale? Well, I did. While I dance through my super tiny Airstream (so more like shuffle in one spot) and ponder the cold weather ahead, I will plan for the family. Yes, they are all getting a pair. My 10-year old is getting the same pair since our feet are exactly the same size. (Craziness!) Ribbed socks number three is coming soon, meanwhile I’ve started Little Fella’s requested blanket.
Every day Dear Husband and I wake up and work. We work, eat lunch, work, eat dinner, watch the Olympics and sleep. Seriously. Every day. The boys help and have some great feedback. Little fella said he’s happy we’re getting the electric installed because we will know what every single switch is for, sadly an anomaly from our other homes. Our older son will also pitch in. They’ve both learned to frame, drywall mud, and handle the drill more skillfully. This is absolutely a family project.
Each day I think we’ve made huge progress but then I see the long list of things we still need to finish. Instead of getting overwhelmed I just think back to a month ago and how little we had done. It puts things in perspective. It helps me digest this process evenly.
Our recent baby steps included installing bathroom exhaust fans, having our heating installed (still being done), having the electric boxes hung/holes drilled for wires (he’s still working too), and installing stairs (we are working on an upstairs railing – the upstairs of our house will be dry storage). A huge leap was having our rough plumbing complete and inspected. We actually have running (cold) water!
This huge project makes me appreciate the small steps that lead to giant progress. Half a railing leads quickly to a whole railing and yet another trip to the lumber yard for more supplies. A stack of drywall becomes a wall when sealed with tape and mud, and gives our space true form. Sweeping up the wood chips and dust on the floor at night makes me smile as I picture the future cabinets laying in waiting.
And we wake up and do it day after day. It’s the baby steps.