51 months in (the christmas edition)

i get so many emails from people who have seen our house on pinterest and ask for floor plans, who built it, do we love this choice or that choice, what have we changed/added since moving in. for the interest: thank you! this house truly was a labor of love for us, and continues to be our happy place in the world.

so if you are coming here from pinterest or, specifically, the one month in post, welcome to the future!

while the house was all clean and christmasy and waiting for guests to arrive last week, i took some new pictures of the space. not every room was photographed, and i will definitely be better about documenting things in 2016 ... i've found a real love for answering emails about our house, and want to offer more to those who are working on their own build or redecorating projects. and once the holidays are put away, i will try to do a more complete tour, including the rooms i didn't photograph last week. i will also update on the projects we have in the works (whether plans only or baby steps being taken) for '16.

without further chattiness ... our house, 51 months in and dressed for the holidays:

 

main floor

i'll start with the entryway, because this post on the craigslist dresser is one of the most pinned things i've posted on the ol' blog.

 

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because of its status, i probably should have taken more than one photo. anyway ... moving on.

 

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the great room is still one of my favorite spots in the house. we literally never use the fireplace (makes the house too hot), but i love the mantel and the built-ins. they remind me of what i loved in our first house - a 1925 bungalow in south minneapolis, and missed in our second house - a 1965 ranch in the 'burbs. and yes, i should have made sure the blinds were equally open before taking the picture.

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i know ... i told you months ago i would share the gallery wall process. i will do that in january. making myself a note Right Now.

 

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(i was inspired by the glass box of travel ephemera in the asid design house that i toured with erin from house of turquoise back in october, and knew a similar box would be perfect for christmas cards. the box is from west elm.)

 

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(blending my old school crosley with marc's new school mp3/receiver/buttony tech.)

 

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(the mantel seemed boring this year ... new garland took up too much real estate and i couldn't put other things out. luckily, i still had a bunch of paper snowflakes from last year - our elf brought them - and added them to the wall around the picture of the kids. perfect filler, zero cash involved.)

 

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moving on to the tv room ... this room has gone through the biggest change since i last blogged about it. four years ago, the room was empty of all but boxes, but i did have some ideas for where it might go. the rug i wanted sold out shortly after falling in love with it, but we moved forward with the white couch and the cabinet of my dreams. and then ... stuck again. we had the couch, we had the cabinet, we had a tv, but the room needed some warmth - a rug, some curtains. so again, i brainstormed. and eventually, it came together. we went with the graphic yellow rug from west elm, and some adorable white curtains - also from west elm; i may need a 12-step program - with translucent circles in the fabric, and sweet little pom pom trim. then i attended junk bonanza with a girlfriend, found a vintage german periodic table school chart, and my life - and this room - was complete. and today, it looks like this:

 

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and ... i took no photos of the kitchen or other areas on the main floor. like i said, post-holiday complete tour is on my To Do list. so, then, let's move

 

upstairs

 

the only room i really photographed is the guest room. it has gone through several looks in the past four years. it started with harper's ikea pull-out bed

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but when she wanted her bed back, we switched it out for the two jenny linds we had put in her room. however, when we upgraded to a king bed over the summer, we did a bedroom furniture shuffle, and put our bed in the basement guest room (more on that in a minute), and the guest bed that was in the basement moved to the upstairs guest room. and that's where we are right now.

 

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more about this room when i do the actual, factual tour.

and ... a brief tease of the master bedroom:

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yes, the new bed ... black and white. the the $50 craigslist chair also got fancied up in new black and white fabric. shocker, i know.

now it's time to move on to the

 

basement

 

a quick glimpse at where the past four years have brought this space.

when i last shared pix of the basement, we had pretty much just moved in all the main furniture from our last house and called it good. with the exception of finally buying a piece of furniture for the tv (instead of the old desk i found on the side of the road in college that we HAD been using), and some bookshelves, this space is largely the same, just more finished.

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(a star wars tree. because, yes. i found it at treetopia, and it is a black-to-silver ombre tree, which in my mind meant it was a dark side to light side ombre. of course. i really should have gotten one that was a foot taller, but we'll make this work.)

 

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on to the guest room, where the old master bedroom bed now resides ...

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usually, there is flannel snowflake bedding on the basement guest bed at christmastime, because it can get pretty cold in this room when the door stays closed. but truth be told ... i couldn't find it. the linens got lost somewhere in the mess of the upstairs guest closet, where all spare linens go ... to never be seen again. organizing that closet is *also* on my To Do list for 2016.

i have a lot to do in 2016.

 

and there you have it.

hope you liked the little holiday tour, and i hope it will hold you over until the official tour of All The Rooms in the coming months.

 

later this weekend: actual christmas photos and re-cap. because it was super fun.

 


the rest of snowflake's visit

i'll wrap up snowflake's month with us, and then go into christmas in a day or two.

also, i took some updated pix of the house, so that is coming, too! bonus: the house was all christmasy and sparkly at the time.

 

on day 19, snowflake and gray kitty found a little hiding spot in the kitchen window shade.

 

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day 20: they somehow knew we were going to *finally* see the new star wars movie that night, so harp found them having a light saber duel in the pantry.

 

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day 21: we had a christmas party for marc's co-workers the previous afternoon (before star wars), and there were some leftover veggies. snowflake and gray kitty used them to spell out a morning greeting for harp.

 

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day 22: our visitors from the north made some cute little gingerbread cookies.

 

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day 23: visitors from the south (ie my family, from indiana) arrived the previous evening, and one of the first things wyatt wanted to do was dig into henry's legos. so on wednesday morning, snowflake and gray kitty had gotten pieces of their own and built a little spaceship.

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day 24, christmas eve: harper awoke to find the annual present from snowflake under the tree in her room. she ran downstairs and said, "mom! snowflake brought me a present! i know it's my christmas jammies, because that's what she always brings on christmas eve ..." then she trailed off and batted those big browngreen eyes at me. so of course i said, "well, then you better go open it!", and off she went.

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day 25, christmas: snowflake was gone. gray kitty was sitting alone on harper's nightstand. but under the christmas tree, there was a present with a tag: to harper, from snowflake. she opened it, and immediately was speechless. then a little teary. then she sat the rest of christmas morning, holding that gift in her lap. and said to me, when all the opening was done, "i should have opened this one last. it's my favorite gift of all of christmas."

what did snowflake leave for harper?

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a picture frame, with this photo:

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major. win.

though next year, i'm screwed.

 

thanks for visiting, snowflake! we - and gray kitty - look forward to seeing you next year!


snowflake, days 12 through 18

another long week almost in the books. swim meet tonight, busy tomorrow, busy sunday. then ... with any luck ... relaxing and enjoying next week.

 

fingers crossed.

while we were all crazy this week, here's what snowflake got herself into:

day 12: she led a gathering of the reindeer.

 

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day 13: she and gray kitty stayed out of the way during my mad cleaning, by hanging out on a wreath.

 

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day 14: the girls (i just assume gray kitty is a girl) had an, "i feel pretty, oh so pretty" moment.

 

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day 15: harp lost a tooth at school on friday, but forgot to bring it home over the weekend. monday, she remembered, and left the little treasure box by her bed for the tooth fairy. i'm not sure what transpired in the middle of the night, but we awoke the next day to find snowflake and gray kitty tied to harper's ceiling light, and the fairy's dollar was strung up with them.

 

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day 16: continuing with her "stay out of the way" theme, on wednesday snowflake and gray kitty hid in a small vase to watch - and mock, i'm sure - my frenzy.

 

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day 17: marc and i finally got some shelves in the craft room, so snowflake and gray kitty broke them in by being arty in the middle of the night. there was a little portrait drawing session, apparently.

 

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day 18: last night, i held a party at our house for women at risk, international, and had out all of the beautiful jewelry and scarves made by women who have been rescued from sex trafficking and exploitation. this morning, snowflake and gray kitty were decked out and having a namaste moment.

 

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namaste, indeed. it's friday, and it's almost christmas, and my house is clean. namas-freaking-te!


snowflake's week

longest. week. ever.

but snowflake showed up every single morning, like a good elf.

she deserves christmas brownie points.

or brownies.

maybe green ones.

bit i digress. or i'm just really tired.

where was i?

snowflake. okay:

day 5: she and gray kitty held onto the white tree for dear life. luckily, the tree was as yet undecorated, so harper was able to spot them fairly easily.

 

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day 6: she hoarded some marshmallows by the cocoa stuff.

 

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day 7: she and gray kitty had an "e.t." moment in harper's room.

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day 8: snowflake and gray kitty were bundled up in jacket, hat, boots, and scarf, and settled into the "snowy" village.

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day 9: ladies' (and kitty) tea.

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day 10: back at the marshmallows, she decided to make a s'more. and gray kitty just wanted some chocolate.

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day 11: hide and seek in the mantel garland. sneaky pair.

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off to a swim meet, because that's our life. happy weekend!


snowflake 2015

well, she's back.

and here we go again.

we got home from indiana on sunday night ... a good quick trip to celebrate thanksgiving with marc's family, then monday we were thrust back into madness. high school swimming started, harp's club swimming started, time to pull out christmas stuff, a million errands ... and other harder, sadder events that would affect the week.

regardless, tuesday morning, there was snowflake - snuggled up with gray kitty on a chair in harper's room. and there was much excitement.

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wednesday, she brought a fun elf puzzle and tried to get it put together before morning. she didn't quite make it, even with gray kitty's help.

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thursday, snowflake decided to get a little snarky, and remind me that those eight loads of towels and sheets i washed before thanksgiving were still on top of the washing machine, waiting to be folded. snowflake, apparently, doesn't understand my schedule. at least Towel Mountain was clean.

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this morning, snowflake was literally the elf on the shelf. but with a cheeky little twist.

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four days down, twenty more to go.


every leaf speaks bliss

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fall in minnesota. to borrow vernacular from the kids:

i. can't. even.

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i find myself stopping at windows, just staring out across the yard. i mean, really ... wouldn't you?

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i even managed to squeeze in five minutes with the kids while it was still amazing.

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then, minute 5:01:

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and at 5:02:

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and that was that. today? gray, raining, cool. very fall-like, and the leaves are dropping fast. wonderful, really, but the beauty is fading.

luckily, we managed to make it to the orchard last weekend, when it was still bright and crunchy and golden.

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("how tall this fall" used to be cuter.)

 

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hopefully this weekend there will be time to carve these bad boys. next week is a busy one ... often, pumpkins end up a rush job at the last minute.

also, stay tuned next week for a four-year house update. pinterest has garnered our little place a lot of attention, and many questions have come to me about what more we've done since moving in. the house is pretty clean right now, so next week i'll share house pix.

appetizers ...

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asid showcase home - minneapolis

back in may, for mother's day, i requested a walk through my favorite minneapolis neighborhood to look at all the beautiful old homes near lake harriet. while we were walking, we noticed one of the houses was completely wrapped up and under construction. i worried that someone was taking something historic and turning it into something that wouldn't fit the neighborhood.

i shouldn't have worried.

a couple of months later, i was reading minneapolis-st paul magazine, and saw the teaser for the upcoming ASID showcase home tour in minneapolis - where designers from the area take over a house, and work together to make it a showstopper, then let the public walk through and experience the amazingness of their work. while i was looking at the style boards for the various rooms, i noticed a very strong coastal/turquoise vibe, so i took a pic of the magazine page, and sent my friend erin a message:

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"we should go."

"yes," she replied.

see, erin is also obsessed with beautiful houses, coastal vibes, and the color turquoise. in fact, she's so obsessed that she started a website, house of turquoise, specifically to catalog and share that love with the world. which is how i came to know her.

and last week, erin sent me a message: we're going through the showcase home.

the homeowner, it turns out, is also a fan of coastal vibes and the color turquoise, and when she agreed to allow her home's renovation to be the featured showcase home, she gave the designers links to house of turquoise to show them her inspiration rooms and style. and then when the home was finished, she reached out to erin and, as a thank you, invited her to privately tour the home that had been so inspired by the beautiful coastal and turquoise homes that have been featured on the site.

and - coming full circle - when i pulled up in front of the showcase home, i realized it was the house that had been under renovation in may in my favorite neighborhood.

i freaking love serendipity.

when you walk in the (super cute, light turquoise, dutch) front door, it is immediately clear that the theme of this house is "coastal", but it is also "family". the home feels warm and personal and intentional ... my three favorite qualities in a house. and while the designers did an amazing job designing and decorating the home, it doesn't feel "decorated" for the sake of tchotchkes and filling walls, but rather it feels like the family's personality is in every corner. which is no small feat, considering the size of the house.

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erin has posted a tour of the home on house of turquoise with the official photos of the rooms. here are photos i took of the moments in the home i found the most special, and the design decisions that jumped out at me as most inspirational.

 

1. coastal

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the house started with a blue bicycle the homeowners found at a hardware store. from there, every corner of this home is touched with a coastal vibe, without ever falling down the "theme" trapdoor. wood tones are all grayed and weathered, finishes are simple instead of precious, colors are sand and sky and water. and light and air flow through this house like it's sitting on the water, instead of in a neighborhood in minnesota.

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light fixtures and art throughout the house emphasize the beach, the lake, coral and driftwood.

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(an original samantha french? just for this family?? i die.)

 

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(the most luminous, amazing photograph i've ever seen.)

 

 2. wallcoverings

with this much wall space, the designers wisely chose to use wallpapers in many spaces to break up all the flat surfaces. it added warmth and depth to the rooms. the different grass cloth textures were my favorite, but there were also patterns and colors, not to mention different textures, from planking to ship lap to corrugated metal.

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(i mean, maps inside the niche? amazing.)

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3. the fifth wall

one thing you don't initially notice in this house - because your eyes are going everywhere at once - is that even the ceilings got attention. and it if was in just one or two rooms, it might seem like a gimmick, but it was in nearly every room, and works perfectly. decorating the ceiling was just one more of those, "oh, wow!" things about this house.

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4. surfaces

if you watch hgtv, you'd think the only surface available for counters is granite, but there wasn't a bit of it in this house. amazing cambria counter surfaces were used throughout, including a marble-esque version that is so new that this house is its world premiere.

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all of the shower floors have river rock tile, which the homeowner says reminds her of beach houses, and is so much smoother and more comfortable on the feet.

 

5. personal touches

model homes and show homes are lovely, but what i want to see is the personality of the family who makes the house a home. this home had that in abundance.

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this amazing mural ... i don't know how long it was (seven feet, maybe? eight?), but it took up the entire upstairs hallway. one large family photo mural, framed in rustic wood. so genius, and so perfect. in fact, nearly every piece of art on the walls in this home hearkens back to a place or a memory or something special to the family.

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see the little gymnast? that's the homeowner's daughter. a perfect little detail in her lovely room.

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like, i'm sure, many people, i always save little bits of memorabilia, with no idea what to do with it. here, those postcards and ticket stubs are tucked away in a special glass box, so they can be seen and remembered without being clutter. brilliant.

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this cabinet is dedicated to the family's love of travel. their guide books to different states and countries, photos from their vacations, seashells they've found ... all gathered in one place to honor them and enjoy their memories.

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the family owns a vineyard, and this is their wine label: a drawing of their daughters, and the name is a combination of both girls' names. the butterfly is in honor of their daughter, faith, whom they lost at birth. (you can read more about the amazing thing this family has done in faith's honor here.)

 

6. and, of course, turquoise

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(you know i love a good barn door.)

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if you are in the minneapolis area, you must go see this place! this is the final weekend, and tickets are $20. every designer did an amazing job ... this house is perfection! inspiration and 'wow' moments at every turn. it is truly a dream home.


another reminder

all last year, i freaked out about the whole "my kid is in high school!" thing. the idea that henry is almost out the door and on his way into adulthood - and into the years when he doesn't need us and won't be around - doesn't exactly fill me with glee. but for the most part, his freshman year looked a whole lot like middle school: same friends, same swim teams, same interests, no major changes.

then his sophomore year arrived.

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and with it, hours a day spent on homework (i mean, pre-calculus? who is this child??) drastically increased, making time to let him drive the car became a thing, and ... then there was a girl.

it started with:

 

him: is it okay if i go to homecoming?

me: game or dance?

him: dance.

me: of course. why wouldn't it be okay?

him: well ... wouldn't i have to get a suit or something?

me: are you thinking of taking a girl?

him: ... maybe.

 

and then he DID ask the girl. and she said yes. and then he asked her out for a date before the dance to make sure they were comfortable together. and then they decided to label themselves a "couple".

this is so, so new. and different.

but she's an adorable girl, and they seem to really get along well. and the dance came, and with it plans to hang out with friends before and after, and they had a great time (from what i hear).

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these are great kids. and i know they will have great times in the next three years. and it's fun to see them becoming young adults ... especially the ones i've known since they were in first grade.

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but it's all just another reminder that they are growing up. and it's fun to watch.

but it also kinda hurts.


autumn

it's here.

if you've read my blog for any amount of time over a year, you know that a) i adore autumn, and the coming holiday season, and b) every year my autumn, and coming holiday season, goes to hell.

this year, on the first day of autumn, i had to see a doctor about a painful eye situation, only to discover a blocked and infected tear duct, that had to be drained (with a needle, thankyouverymuch) and then "milked" (just as fun as it sounds), and then treated with antibiotics. and tomorrow, on the second day of autumn, i will go to a surgeon to see how to reconstruct part of my left nostril, which i lost 10 days ago to basal cell carcinoma.

the autumn, and coming holiday season, are off to a dubious start.

nonetheless, i can't wait to "autumn" all the things! some pretty pumpkins are now on the porch, i have the fall flowers for the window box, the summery pillows and photos are getting replaced with the autumny ones. and i'm starting to look around the house to see what projects are on the list. i will tell marc i want them done by the holidays. they may actually get done by next year's holidays. it's how we roll.

we've been in our house for four years now (what???), and we're pretty much settled in and squared away. but there are a few tweaks that are on the horizon, and a few changes that we're ready to make.

current inspiration for those tweaks and changes:

1. shelves like these.

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there is a wall in our basement that currently is home to an ikea expedit shelf. there is general flotsam and stash on those shelves. however, there are bundles of martha stewart magazines dating back to 1996 in the closet, just begging to be enjoyed again. i foresee some rustic, warm wood shelves lining that wall on some cool iron brackets, maybe get some lights installed above the shelves for a little spot lighting.

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2. now that my craigslist-find chair and ottoman have been restored, and our new king-size bed is here, our master bedroom is at about 90%. we just need to get some art on the walls and curtains on the windows. trying to figure out exactly what direction to go in ... art above the nightstands, flanking the bed? or art or a mirror above the headboard and nothing above the nightstands? still debating. but i'm pretty sure the curtains will be white, because ... well ... of course.

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3. put the guest rooms back together.

when we switched out our old bed, we moved it to the basement, which meant we moved the basement guest bed to the upstairs guest room. and we moved the upstairs guest beds to the garage. we still need to get the beds put back together (literally back together ... not just "i need to make the beds", but "i need to MAKE the beds"), which needs to happen before company comes, which means when i tell my husband that i'd like him to do it this weekend, it really means "for the love of god just put those beds back together since it's been a month." or something like that.

the downstairs guest room has warmer colors ...

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and the upstairs one has cooler ones ...

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so now i'm gathering art and stuff. but first the beds have to get MADE.

wouldn't a pretty guest room be a nice place to spend a holiday? i mean, especially if the bed doesn't fall apart  underneath you?

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4. we're also in the process of getting estimates to finally put on a screened-in porch on the back of the house. it won't happen until spring, but we need to know exactly how much money we're talking with this. and if it sounds straightforward, it isn't. marc threw a wrench in the works by declaring that our mechanical room is no longer sufficient for his geek needs, so we may need to add on a server room under the porch. and, if we're going that far, we might as well go a little farther and attach a storage room for yard equipment, etc.

i wasn't thrilled when i heard that. "screened-in porch" suddenly became "nah ... we don't need to send the kids to college." oh well. i just have to focus on the pretty ... these inspiration pix distract me from googling "how to homeschool for a college degree."

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once my face heals and things no longer hurt, i'll try to clean up the joint and take some updated pictures of the place. there are so many of you out there who have loved my home (thank you!) via pinterest, and have asked to see how it looks now that it's more complete. i'll do my best to oblige in the coming weeks!

until then, go pick some apples, pull out the flannel sheets, and enjoy a pumpkin muffin!


where does summer go?!

not that i'm complaining - heat and humidity are my two least favorite types of weather - but summers go faster each year. it's crazy.

one minute it's the last day of school ...

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and the next 90 days stretch before us like taffy, sticky and stretching longer the more we try to reach the end. then suddenly the days on the calendar are filled with events and camps and swimming and life, and the summer flies by.

every year, i tell you.

this year has been no exception. we just finished the first week of freedom that we've had since june. it was lovely and restful, but also included things like summer homework and dentist appointments and weeding the garden ... things that haven't fit into the schedule until now.

 

 

june

 

school ended, marc took off for a week in boston, and harp and her bff had picnics and bug hunts ...

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while henry and his guys hung out with a buddy who would be moving away by the end of the month.

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and then, two weeks into summer break, we headed to new england.

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the kids and i flew out to meet marc on friday. he was waiting at the airport with a rental car, then we grabbed our luggage and pointed to the seaport for a lobster roll and a summer stroll along the water.

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saturday, we made a list of the boston things we haven't done before, and set out to mark them off. first stop was the skywalk observatory at the prudential building. 360 degree views of my favorite city.

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(someday one of those brownstones will be mine. that's the dream, anyway.)

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(selfies.)

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(henry had to pretend to play because his podium wasn't working. he still kicked butt.)

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then we walked to the christian science monitor center so i could finally, finally see the maparium, which has been on my to do list for, like, eight years and every trip to boston. click on the link; photos weren't allowed in the maparium, but it was amazing. so cool. even the kids were wowed.

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(one of the country's largest pipe organs)

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we walked around a little more, got our favorite sushi, etc.

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sunday morning was rainy and cold ... perfect day to head to maine.

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we kept an eye on the weather and decided to take the scenic route. and by scenic route i mean spend the day in salem, mass.

first was lunch ... and a meltdown from miss harper, which is typical of a meal with harper.

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then we got passes to three museums - the witch dungeon museum, witch history museum, and pirate museum. the museums were very interesting ... little, and more than a tad cheesy, but also sad. the whole history of salem left me feeling horrified and outraged by how cruel people can be when they are so narrow-minded and led by fear.

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then we just wandered salem. very cool little town: brick streets, lovely homes, dunkin' donuts. and we found a stick installation from artist patrick dougherty.

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from salem, we drove the rest of the way to maine, checked into our hotel, then headed out to find some lobster and clam chowder.

monday morning was beautiful, and we had tickets for a whale watching trip out of boothbay harbor.

when i was pregnant with henry, marc and i took a vacation to maine and absolutely fell in love with the coast. it was so nice to be back among the quirky, sweet villages full of saltbox houses and fishing boats, and see a town we hadn't visited the last time. boothbay is charming and touristy and wonderful.

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the whale watch boat ride was after lunch, so i told the kids to not eat anything too heavy or greasy. hindsight: i should have picked up some dramamine somewhere.

the boat trip started off great ... it was windy and cold on deck, but the view was beautiful.

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once we got out of sight of the shore, though, the water became rougher, and the swells tossed the boat around more. harper wanted to give up on standing on deck and go below to sit down. for an hour, i watched her turn more and more green around the gills. another hour, and henry was below deck with us, also green. and below deck was where there was no fresh air, so the smell of boat fuel was stronger, which triggers marc's migraines, so he stayed above deck. to recap: two hours of bouncing and rolling with two kids who were on the verge of puking, while marc was up top. super fun family activity.

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but then: whales!

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it took longer than expected to find them - and we had to go about five miles farther out - but there were mama and baby finback. henry didn't want to get up, but harper was feeling a bit stronger, so we watched from the lower deck (just in case) while henry stayed in the warm, stuffy, smelly comfort of the table, sipping a ginger ale. luckily, he managed to see the whales through the window, so it wasn't a total lost cause for him.

the ride back was, thankfully, better. smoother, and tummies were more settled.

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once on land, everyone started to feel better. ice cream cones made all the difference.

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we spent a little more time exploring boothbay, finding the perfect souvenirs, having what was hands-down the best meal of our entire trip at the boathouse bistro ... a tapas bar, where marc discovered a blackened grilled shrimp with spicy honeydew gazpacho that he loved so much that he ordered two more.

the next day, tuesday, was all about lake winnipesaukee in new hampshire. i was really hoping to bump into bob wiley ... we could have gone sailing.

 we didn't find bob. but we did sail. or ... boat. we boated. we're boaters.

marc's aunt and uncle's boat is on lake winnipesaukee, and luckily they were staying on the boat while we were in the area. it was such a fun day, and the kids had a blast.

and the lake ... oh, my ... such a beautiful place. water, trees, mountains ... just breathtaking.

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the whole day was relaxing and wonderful.

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just blissful.

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after a perfect day, a yummy dinner, and a glorious night cruise, we headed back to the hotel.

the next day, we decided to detour through concord on our way back to boston. we took the kids to the concord museum to learn more about the town's role in the revolutionary war and the transcendentalist movement.

what else we learned? paul revere apparently looked like jack black.

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(ralph waldo emerson's study)

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(henry and his namesake, henry david thoreau)

after the concord museum, we took harper to the louisa may alcott museum. we've been reading "little women", so it was so fun to show her the house that inspired the story, and the rooms of the sisters who inspired jo and amy and beth and meg.

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(i may have sneaked a photo of louisa's writing desk. bad girl, i know, but what can you do.)

we also walked past emerson's house ...

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and then emerson's grandfather's house.

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the grandfather who had a first-person view of the start of the revolutionary war.

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the kids were troopers through this whole trip. we aren't exactly "let's go on vacation to relax" people; if there's something interesting to do or see or learn, that's where we go and that's what we do. i wanted the kids to experience where history and literature and philosophy happened, so that when they learn about it in school, it will feel more relatable and real to them. for the most part, they were curious and attentive about it all, and we had some great conversations.

it got too hot to keep wandering concord, though (we'll take them to sleepy hollow cemetery next time), so we drove back into boston, where we had a lovely hotel in cambridge and ate some yummy sushi ...

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which henry said looked like "sushi dipped in crushed cheetos", and the next day we flew home.

such a whirlwind, but totally worth it. it was a perfect trip.

and then it was

 

 

july

 

july was pretty much all swimming, all the time.

there was, though, the one day when marc drove a lamborghini.

i had gotten him a slot at a driving day for christmas, and it was finally time to cash it in.

the car wasn't exactly roomy for a big guy, but he didn't care. he had the. best. time. three laps around an agility course. the only downside was that he couldn't go as fast as he would have liked.

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but once that fun day was over ... all swimming. all the time. like, a meet every weekend plus two mid-week meets.

crazy.

but the kids did awesome and ended the season with some major wins.

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and one of the meets was an invitational, so the kids swam at the same time and were able to cheer each other on. which, of course, delighted harper.

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harper ended the season with best times, and a great position for making it to the finals meet when fall season rolls around.

henry swam a full roster of events at the minnesota regional finals meet, but struggled with the heat during the three-day outdoor meet. he dropped some of his times, though, and was the 50m free champ with a state-cut time.

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which meant the following week was four days of state - prelims in the morning, finals in the afternoon. he swam five relays and the 50 free ... he just missed the top eight in the 50, but he and his relay teams medaled in four of the five relays - an 8th, 7th, 4th, and a 1st place state champ finish.

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kinda fun that he's now a state champ in relays two summers in a row :)

i know he was disappointed that he didn't do better individually, but he still has one more year - and two more state meets - in the 15-16 age group, so he's going to do awesome next time. he's so close.

concurrently with all the swimming, harper also attended three camps: one was a "girls in science" camp at the zoo, the second was to lean how to create fashions and fabrics using technology (for which a picture of the back of her was in the newspaper, and she was interviewed for the article, so she's convinced that now she's famous), and the third was to learn how to sew, at the end of which she and her other campmates gave a fashion show to debut the lovely dresses they made.

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also during this time of swimming and camps (july was beyond insane), henry took driver's ed. i was doing really well not freaking out, then on the first day, henry got out of my car and there was one of his best friends ... the little boy who came up to henry on the first day of first grade, introduced himself, shook henry's hand, then said, "i think we should be friends" ... and off they went to drivers ed together. gah! heart!! tears!!

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and now we have to sign him up for the behind the wheel stuff. and - as luck would have it - he has wheels.

back in may, marc took the man car in for some work and some mods. yadda yadda yadda  ... he finally got his car back three days ago. so in the meantime, rather than throw money away with a rental, we went ahead and got a third car. cuz we were going to need one anyway for henry to drive.

so now we have a cute little safe, reliable suburu in the driveway.

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also, in the middle of all the camps and swimming and drivers ed and car buying, we got to spend three days with my sister and her family. they were driving back to indiana from fargo, and we just happen to be on that route.

their first day here, we found their personal heaven:

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i've never seen so much candy in my life.

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(seriously ... chicken & waffles salt water taffy?! chicken & waffles seems like a bad idea in and of itself, but to make it into salt water taffy?? that's just irresponsible.)

we let the kids run off their sugar high in the sprinklers ...

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(i don't know what this face is, but i totally recognize it.)

and also the park.

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(seriously ... nora's faces ... )

and i got to be the aunt who introduces her niece and nephew to a hilarious video of a corgi twerking; a video they watched about 500 times. (go search for corgi bubble butt twerk on youtube. you're welcome.)

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i won Aunt Of The Week with that one.

we also braved mall of america so wyatt could experience legoland ... a trek that about pushed my sister and i into claustrophobic, apoplectic wrecks from the sheer magnitude of humanity in the hallways.

but legoland was a hit, and then there was sushi.

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then they had to go home. [sad face]

and ... what else ... oh: we got a king-size bed after nearly 19 years of marriage and cover-stealing (marc) and knee-and-elbow wars (also marc) ...

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our garden is churning out monster zucchini ...

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i had to have a spot on my face biopsied ...

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and now it's august.

hoping for a month of breathing room before the summer is over and we re-enter the school-swimming-craziness routine. the kids head to indiana for some time with the grandparents later this month while marc and i go really crazy and ... clean out his office. should be awesome. and henry starts his first job on wednesday: teaching swimming lessons. i have a feeling our "breathing room" will be not so roomy, but we'll take it.