Welcome To Our Little Big House On The Prairie

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting Closer...

I've come to the conclusion that re-doing all this furniture that I've picked up the last few weeks is a one step forward, two steps back type of deal.  I'm pretty much in a love/hate relationship with refurbishing stuff.

If all I had to do during the day was completely focus on the fun furniture stuff I want to accomplish, I'd be in heaven.  Alas, real life intrudes often in the form of dishes, laundry, homework, sports practices...  You know, like having to eat.  Details, Schm-etails.

Just so you don't think I'm not accomplishing a darn thing, I've decided to post some of my progress so far.  Since I'm currently waiting the 2-6 hours for wood filler to dry (for the SECOND time), I have nothing better to do.  :P

You might remember the pair of nightstands of my father that I posted a couple of weeks ago:

Here they are today:

Stripped, sanded, and waiting on me to prime and paint them.  Although some residual stain remains, since I'm painting them, I'm not too worried about it.  I got all the poly off, so the paint will adhere well.

Remember the Craigslist rocking chair?

Here she is today:

My first attempt at using liquid sander and deglosser.  Gotta say I luh-ove it!  The varnish on this chair was so old, it was black in places.  Of course, I didn't get it all completely off, but again, I'm painting and distressing it, so no worries.  My remedy for the laminate that was coming off chair back, was to thinly smooth a wood filler over it and sand it level.  I wasn't completely satisfied with the first attempt, so I'm currently waiting on my 2nd attempt to dry.  I think I got it too thin, so I didn't have enough to work with when it came time to sand.  I have to admit I kind of pouted because I was looking forward to getting my primer on this morning.

Remember these end tables?

Here they are today:

Now, I have to admit I'm scratching my head over these two.  I put the liquid sander and deglosser on them and well, it didn't seem to do anything.  I scratched them up pretty good with some sand paper, but the surface still feels smooth.  I'm not quite sure if they're going to take the primer or not.  I know that they're solid wood in places, I think the main flat surfaces are probably pressed wood.  So, this morning I'm going to surf the net and figure out what I should do with this.  Anyone have any ideas?  I certainly don't want to waste a bunch of time painting them, only to have the paint peel off.  I know I saw something about something like this somewhere, but do you think I can remember where I read it at?  Urrrrrrrr....

And as for this:

Yep.  Pretty much still looks like that, except its sitting in the mudroom screaming at me to do something with it every time I walk in the door.  Maybe I'll sand it today.  I've got to accomplish something!

Blah...  Blah...  Blah...  :P

Monday, August 29, 2011

Boys and Sports

When I'm not fixated on all the stuff that needs to done to this little big house, I'm always running my boys to sports.  My oldest son started junior high ball this year, which makes me kind of tear up.  The middle two, are in a Youth Sports Foundation league and the 10 year old had his first couple of scrimmages this weekend.  Next weekend, the real games begin.

Half the time, I'm not really sure which sport I like best, football or wrestling.  Just about each afternoon from now until March is a crazy-whirlwind of homework, dinner, practices, bathes, and bed.  Weekends are filled with games and tournaments.  Most of the time I love that my boys are so involved in sports, but other times, I just wish we had the afternoons and weekends to just be.  I think its sad that if you want your child to have any success in sports you have to get them involved at younger and younger ages.

For example, here in Iowa, wrestling capital of the country, you start your children wrestling in Pre-K.  Back in North Carolina, where football is THE sport, boys are playing tackle football in full pads at the same age.  Fortunately, they don't start doing that here until 3rd grade and we've put the kibosh on our youngest son beginning to wrestle until he's at least in 1st grade.  And God knows that the sports around here are all about the politics and who you know.  I wonder if it is like that other places too?  You start cultivating the relationships with the high school coaches and other parents now, rather than later.  I suppose I could refuse to participate in all of that, but my boys love their sports and as a parent, I want them to have the best opportunity possible.  I'm beginning to think that maybe that's not the best idea, but what do you do?  So, (I'm just going to start using the boys names on here since its easier) Greyson (the basketball player), Ian (the football player), and Noah (the wrestler) are all going full-bore.  School has barely started and we've hit door running for practices that last until 8:00 p.m.  Fortunately, Greyson is in junior high, so his practices are right after school.  Ian and Noah's start at 5:45 p.m.  Noah's ends at 7:15 and Ian's end at 8:00.  By the time they have a snack, get bathes, and get into bed, its 9:30.  Thank goodness they have Wednesdays and Fridays to be kids!

I have to admit that my sons' athletic abilities make me pretty dag-gone proud.  And there's absolutely nothing like watching them make an awesome tackle that prevents a touchdown or catching a pass and running it 15 yards.  And nothing even comes close to describing the feeling when your son is on the mat and the ref raises his hand in victory.  They're proud and loving it and you're proud too.  But sometimes you can't help but wonder if its an awful lot of pressure to put on kids so young.  Maybe not my oldest, but the younger two, I worry about.  But I guess as long as they're not being pressured to perform and they realize that all we care about is them having fun and doing their best, then we're okay.  God help me if I ever become one of those parents that demand perfection from my children.  And we see A LOT of those.


Not sure how I got on that subject, when I was going to brag about Ian's athletic prowess this weekend.  I guess its just where my mind went.  It goes to show you that I must worry about it more than I think.  I suppose as a parent, you always wonder if you're doing the right thing...  Am I pushing too hard?  Am I not pushing enough?  Are they too involved?  Are they not involved enough?  One of the hardest jobs ever is being a parent, hands down.  And it's the one job where you can't afford to fail.  The Lord knows, I love my kids and I want what's best for them.  And as long as they're happy doing what they do, then I'm okay with it.  Even if I do worry that a lot of the time our focus is too much on sports.  Or maybe that's just because we have so many boys???  Who knows.

Anyway, before I go work on some more sanding (trying to get all 6 pieces sanded, so I can prime them all at once), I thought I'd share some pics of Ian this weekend.  He had two really awesome scrimmages: 10 tackles, 1 completed pass that he ran 15 yards, and he almost had an interception - a dive and it bounced off his fingertips.

Warming up...

 Ian is in the middle.

Encouraging the team from his position of Free Safety. 

Making his 3rd tackle in the 1st scrimmage. 

I believe he is exchanging some words with the opposing team.  LOL 

Breaking out of the huddle. 

With his cousin, Brandon.  
I thought it was pretty cool that they both are #10. 
 The boys are only 4 months apart in age and talk about competitive!  Their first game was against each other's teams.  Whoo-Boy!

And just for the heck of it, here's a couple of videos from wrestling season, last winter/spring:

Noah's video:

The video I made last year for our wrestling club and posted to YouTube:

Really, there's nothing like it.  And as long as the boys are happy, then I'm happy.  And that's what its all about, right?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stay away from my family, IRENE!

This morning I am obsessing over my family and friends that are laying in the direct path of Hurricane Irene this morning.  Looks like she's coming ashore right where my entire family lives - in between Cape Lookout and Ocracoke Island.  Carteret County has managed to miss a lot of direct hits over the years, but it looks like this time their luck has run out.

I talked to my Momma last night and it sounds like pretty much everyone is staying in my aunt's brick house, except for my cousin (more like sister) who's riding it out at home with her husband and 2 kids.  They're all taking it in stride, knowing there's nothing they can do about it anyway.  Everything has been battened down and they've made their run to the store for batteries, candles, and the staples of munchies.  My cousin has a generator, so they'll be able to keep their fridge going and they're hooking the computer up, so she can give everyone updates via Facebook after they inevitably lose power.  There's priorities right there, peeps.  LOL!  My daughter, who is 45 minutes inland, is going further inland to Thomasville which is up by Greensboro.  That makes me feel a whole lot better that I don't have to worry so much about her.  I just pray for a safe trip for her, as she travels.

It sounds like ole Irene has been downgraded to a CAT 2, which is somewhat of a relief.  However, before we moved out here, we dealt with Isabelle, which was also a CAT 2 and did quite an impressive amount of damage.  The hubs was busy for weeks taking care of storm damage, banks were closed, we couldn't get gas because there was no electricity, and forget about getting any kind of food.

I just hope that all my family and friends back home stay safe and that just maybe they'll avoid a disaster once again.  But looking at the projected storm track, it doesn't look like that miracle is going to happen.  If any damage is going to occur, I just hope its minimal.  Something tells me that I'm going to be up half the night making phone calls to check in with those I love.  Its like my cousin said, "Our time is up.  We're well passed due a hit and now here she comes."  Of course this was said a little gleefully, as my cousin loves the excitement of a good hurricane.  Only this time, I'm afraid she's going to get her wish.  I just hope they're spared the misery of no electricity for weeks, no gas to be had, and no way to get food.  I've told my Momma that if it was really bad, I'd drive in with gas, food, and water.  And being the grandmother she is, "Not without the children you won't."  Oh yeah, because I'd bring my children with me into that!  But you won't be able to keep me away if its bad enough.

So, as I sit here thinking about my kin, I thought I'd share a video from our vacation on the Crystal Coast this summer.  We spent a glorious month enjoying her beauty and the love of family and friends.  I'm glad I got to see her one more time before the inevitable changes a storm of this kind will make in her landscape.  The beauty of the coast is why so many people choose to live there, even when threatened with massive storms such as Irene.  And its why all of us who have ever lived in the glow of that coastal paradise, somehow always find our way back.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Atlantic Beach, NC

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to School & Back To Real Progress

Yippee!  School is in!!!!

I ushered off my little brood onto that merry, bright-colored yellow transporter of freedom this morning.  After a hearty pancake breakfast, their rosy little cheeks were washed, their pearly little teeth were brushed, and their golden hair was combed.  They set about putting on their fabulous first day fashions and at last I waved them happily on their way.  With a big grin on my face, I called out to them to have a great day and I watched the bus roll down the road until it was out of sight...  You know, just to make sure it wasn't coming back... Until 3:45.

YAY!  A quiet house reigns once more!!!

Now it's just me and little man in this big old house all by ourselves.  Daddy is at work and the little man is a super kiddo!  He's just about 4, so he colors and he plays and he watches a little TV and he likes to just sit and watch what I'm doing.  I finally got him potty-trained this summer by putting my foot down and banning diapers from the house, so its smooth sailing from here, folks!  I am absolutely giddy at the thought of all I will be able to get done!  Can't you tell?!

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love each and every one of my little urchins sweethearts, but with a gaggle of 5 at home its nearly impossible to get anything accomplished during the day.  My house has now been cleaned and has stayed clean for 8 hours!  Its a miracle! Laundry has been done, dinner is in the crockpot, dishes are washed...  I tell ya, I feel downright DOMESTIC!  I get sooooooo much accomplished when they're at school!

Now, I wish I could say that as soon as I waved them all goodbye, that I immediately began working on the furniture that is now crowding the diva's room.  Here's a pic of my pretty girl, by the way (just so you know she really does exist)...

But alas, I did not.  While I love that my boys are in sports, the practices are a headache.  The football player had practice last night and we didn't get home until 9:00.  Dinner had to be made and eaten, clothes laid out, baths taken, and then trying to corral 5 and get them to bed is like herding cats.  The hubs has been in Minnesota for the last 4 days doing a job for a local client's vacation home (what a life, huh?), so I was on my own.  I think I finally got them all settled by 10:30, which in and of itself is a minor miracle considering I accomplished all of the above in an hour and a half.  In the midst of all of that, the football player informs me that the shirt he wants to wear for the first day is dirty (Lord forbid he wear a new shirt) and he would like me to wash it.  So I started a load at 10:30, then while waiting for it to dry got my 2nd wind for the day and started 2 more loads, did dishes, folded clothes, and did a general pick-up.  Don't you hate it when that happens?!  Plus, I was excited for their first day of school and I couldn't turn my mind off.  The hubs was on his way back from Minnesota and I was worried about him driving late, so that didn't help.  I think I finally closed my eyes around 2 am, only to check the clock at 3:30 to realize the hubs wasn't home yet, but he would be shortly.   Then I woke up at 4:30 when he crawled into bed.  Then we had a doozy of a thunderstorm that woke the entire house up at a little after 5.  By the time I got them all settled again, it was 5:30 and I snatched another half hour of half-sleep until the alarm went off at 6.  Grrrrrrr!  Can we say sleep deprived?!

So while I had the best intentions of getting my sawdust on this morning and keeping at it for the rest of the day until my little darlings walked back in the door, it didn't happen.  I waited for another wicked storm to blow through:

Auntie Em!  Auntie Em!  I can't find Toto!

After it had done its worst, which really wasn't that bad considering how bad it looked, I finally crawled into bed with the hubs and thanked the good Lord that little man was actually sleeping in.  By the time I got up again and re-woke back up (It literally takes me an hour to become even a remotely functional human being - Morning person, I ain't.), it was noon.  Yes, I just admitted on blogland that I slept until 11 am.  Slacker and proud of it, after that night!

After doing a few chores, which did not include making any beds or cleaning the bathrooms like I had planned, I did manage to sand the remaining varnish off the two end tables of my Dad's that I stripped late last week.  But that was as far as I got, before I decided to have even more slacker time by visiting with y'all before my little honeys come home.  Tomorrow I plan on priming and painting the 1st coat.  I still haven't decided if I'm going to go distressed white or black yet.  Hopefully, I'll have that figured out by tomorrow.  I'll have to ask the hubs for advice, unless anyone wants to chime in (if there's anyone even reading my boring posts because I never seem to accomplish anything lately).

Room Scheme:  School colors/University of Iowa colors which are the same.  Black, Gold, and White
Wall color:  Top half Hawkeye Gold; Bottom half Black
Furniture:  So far, all black (2 chest of drawers and 1 dresser)
Possibilities:  Old barn wood headboards for the twin beds that are white and distressed. Nightstands and one table they use for their XBOX and cable box stand possibly in distressed white to match the headboards.  
Should I just paint the whole kit and caboodle black???  Headboards, table, and nightstands???

I just can't see it in my head.  I'm afraid it will be too much black in the room, if I go with all black.  But, I'm afraid if I go white then it won't look right with all the dressers and chest of drawers black.  Also, they've got dark wood trim which totally clashes with the black and gold that I'm probably going to end up painting white.  Decisions, decisions!  

Any and all ideas 
would be greatly appreciated!

Well, its almost time for the little buggers to get home and that's when the whirl-wind starts.  I'm sure they'll have all types of exciting news to tell me about their first day and I can't wait to hear their stories.  Dinner will be served and then its off to football practices again. Four nights this week (UGH!), before they switch to three nights.  Then tomorrow we get to do it all again!

Life is good.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

NO MORE Adventures in School Shopping!

I am super happy to report that I finished all the back to school clothes shopping and school supply shopping!  Two days of nose to the grindstone and somewhere around $1,200 poorer, but its done.  Thank you, Lord!

Yesterday with the football player was super FUN! He got his back to school haircut and liked it, which was a bonus.  First we headed to Scheel's, which is kind of like a Dick's Sporting Goods for those of you in the East.  I had told him before we started that he could get ONE pair of Under Armor shorts since he already has a slew and that this year we were be going to be getting stuff that wasn't completely sports related.  He's going into middle school, so he needs to have a little more nicer looking stuff rather than slickies and t-shirts.  And he was totally game for that. SWEET!  I managed to find a North Face neoprene coat that I've been eyeing for 2 years on sale, so I snatched that up.  Why should the kids get all the new stuff?  Right???  Right.

The basketball player had decided he didn't like the Under Armor bookbag he had picked out, so I had to exchange that.  Thankfully, he liked the one I brought back home.

Then the football player and I headed into Aeropostale.  WHOO-BOY!  That was a mistake.  I've got a good friend who's the manager there and she just happened to be working.  Within an hour, between my son and her, they had loaded up!  The good thing was the jeans were a BOGO, and the t-shirts were a BOG2.  So, not only did I buy for the football player, I took my chances and bought for the basketball player.  They had some really killer deals, so I didn't mind really racking up for them.  I don't think I bought a single thing that wasn't at least 25% off.  Polos that were regularly $35 were on sale for $15.  Hoodies were $20.  And then, because my friend loves me, she added on a coupon that I knew nothing about.  So, we came out of there with two bags stuffed full, but $200 broker.  But we scored 9 t-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 sweatshirts, 2 polos, 2 hoodies, and a belt.  That wasn't too bad at all.

After a quick trip to Gordman's for some jeans and a khaki pair of shorts, we were done.  It took the football player only 10 minutes to pick out his jeans, try them on, and be satisfied.  YAY for no drama!

We headed home after that and I held my breath as I started to pull clothes out of the bag for the basketball player.  The first thing he said was, "Why do they all have this A word on them?  I don't want all my clothes to have the same thing on it."  WHAT?!  As pretty much every shirt he has is either the school mascot, Nike, or Under Armor, OR Iowa Hawkeyes, I thought,


Well actually, I'm pretty sure I screeched that out loud.  LOL  So, he picked through what I had picked out that he LIKED and was left with TWO
t-shirts!  Yes, the jeans were big, but what in the world was wrong with the other stuff?!  So, he pats me on the shoulder and says, "Its okay, Mom.  At least you picked the right bookbag."

Okay, that was IT!

I looked at him and said, "Get in the car.  We're going back.  Let's go."  Now, its no small feat that I was going clear back to Cedar Falls, which is like a 30 minute drive.  He must have known I was pushed beyond my limit because he grabbed the bag with his "rejects" in it and went to the car and off we went.

Walking in to the store, I spotted my friend, put my arm around my son and said, "He's all yourrs.  Outfit him for the year and for God-sake, find something he LIKES!"  She just laughed and took over from there.  About 30 minutes into it, he started to actually enjoy himself with trying on different things.  We found jeans he LOVED (did I mention after we got home yesterday, he hated the Reclaimers from the Buckle, but took the tags OFF, so we're stuck with them?), he exchanged out t-shirts for ones he liked and she even managed to explain and TALK HIM INTO wearing his shirts a size smaller, so it didn't accentuate his small belly.  It ended up being $45 MORE than what I had originally spent, but I was so thrilled that the boy FINALLY had some clothes that I didn't care!  He found 2 pairs of jeans, 6 shirts, 1 Hoodie, and 1 Polo.  And the major bright side...  I don't have to do this again for a whole 'nother year!  With having so many kids, the kids know that they get ONE shopping spree a year, a few things at Christmas, and then they're done until the next school year.  So, while it may seem like I spent a lot, they don't get clothes all throughout the year like most kids.

So, here are two of my boys decked out in some of their new clothes, after I bribed them outside for some pictures:

Handsome fellas, ain't they?  Yeah, they make this momma pretty proud!  And now, since all the shopping is DONE, I can now focus on other things...  Like this little big house on the prairie!  :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Adventures in School Shopping.... UGH!

I've accomplished very little in the way of any refurbishing and everything is pretty much put on hold until I finish all the last minute school shopping that I have procrastinated on.  Four of the five with start school Tuesday and as of yesterday morning, I had NA-DA.

I did manage to strip the boxy reddish-orangish nighstands of my Dad's on Thursday - now that was a hot mess.  I think I despise stripping more than I do sanding.  And since the hubs managed to find me a sander that was moldering in his parent's barn, I think stripping will be my all time most-hated chore in the whole process.  Not to mention that inhaling mineral spirits made me sick to my stomach, so I spent 2 hours sleeping it off.  Since then I have bought some liquid sander/deglosser and  I hear through blogland that it makes the job a lot easier.  Fingers crossed on that one, folks!

So, yesterday morning started out with a 9:00 am sports physical for my 12 year old that I had put off all summer.  Have I mentioned I'm a huge procrastinator when it comes to stuff unless I have a deadline?  And if that deadline is off in the murky future somewhere, I tend to space it off and end up running around frantically in the last week before it must be done.  Same with back to school clothes shopping...  And school supply shopping.

I had gotten all the diva's clothes shopping done three weeks ago, but as far as the boys...  Yeah.  Wasn't too excited about THAT.  Its much more fun to go shopping for girl's clothes and between Old Navy and The Children's Place, fun can be affordable.  The boys, eh...  Not so much since they have to wear Under Armor, Nike, Adidas, blah, blah, blah...  Buying their school clothes always gives me a minor myocardial infarction (heart attack).  But the good thing about buying all that stuff is that it lasts and I can hand me down from the oldest all the way through the youngest, so you get four times as much wear out of the stuff than say...  Walmart or Target's clothes.  The wrestler and the football player got very little in the way clothing this year since they have TONS between hand me downs from the basketball player and all the stuff I order through school sports and what they win at tournaments.  However, they both had had their current book bags for 2 years, so it was time to buy them new back packs and I always try to pick them up a couple of shirts/shorts for the first day.

Yesterday I hit the stores with the basketball player and the wrestler.

Oh.  My.  God.  

Who knew that pre-teen boys could be so PICKY???!!!  We got to the FIRST store around 11:00 am.  It always amazing to me that all my children have such different personalities when they all come from the same genetics.  The wrestler is usually so full of movement and talking that sometimes I feel like he sucks the energy from me.  He doesn't mean to be and it isn't in a BAD way, but his energy level is just so high that it feels like he feeds off and expands from any and all energy in a room.  Probably why he's such a good wrestler.  The basketball player on the other-hand is so laid back that it feels like everything he does is in

S....L....O....W.... M.... O.... T.... I.... O.... N....  

Or maybe that's just the age.  Drags his feet to do EVERYTHING.  And when you're trying to get two kids worth of clothes/supply shopping done in a day, well, it about drove this momma nuts.

First, he didn't like anything.  Then, it didn't "feel" right.  I tried to hit all the mark-down places like T.J. Maxx and Gordman's right off the bat because most of the time you can find great stuff there for a reasonable price.  The boy probably tried on 25 pairs of jeans!  In his defense, he's in that in between stage where youth clothing is too small and men's sizes are too big - at least for pants/shorts.  And he goes for that baggy basketball player style, so he wearing men's mediums.  AND to top it all off, he's in that stage that all pre-prubescent males go through (or so I've been told when I've worried to my friends about it) where he's put on some belly fat this summer in preparation for a growth spurt, hopefully sometime in the near future.

So on top of the frustration of not finding any clothes that fit him well, I had to listen to him wail that he's fat - which he's not by no means.  He's just got a lot of baby fat right on his belly.  By the time we'd been to the THIRD store looking for jeans, I threw my hands up and took him to The Buckle, who's jean prices will make you faint.  The poor sales girl probably thought I was nuts, but I was so frazzled at that point that I just wanted to find something (ANYTHING) that would satisfy him so we could wrap it up and call it a day.

So the first thing out of my mouth when we're approached by the salesperson is, "My son needs a size 30/29 pair of jeans.  They can't be too baggy or too tight.  They can't be too long or too short.  They can't fit tight around his thighs.  And they can't cut into his belly or be falling off.  Do you have anything like that?"  LOL!!!

Christine (that was her name), was an absolute God-send!  She automatically set to work pulling jeans in styles/washes that she thought would work.  When he came out in a pair of Reclaimers, I closed my eyes in absolute relief.  Not too short, not too long, not tight in the waist or thighs.  PERFECT!  Except he STILL thought they were too tight in the thighs.  He couldn't MOVE in them.  GRRRRRR!  At that point, I'd had enough with the pickiness, as we had by then been at it for almost 4 hours and he had NO pants!  I came to the conclusion that since during the warm months he wears baggy basketball shorts and in the cold months he always wears slicky pants, all jeans, no matter what, are going to feel tight and restrictive to him.  Because they were by NO MEANS TIGHT!  And better yet, they didn't give me total heart palpitations with a $54.00 price tag.  Not that that is great by any means, but much better than the $80-$100 ones that my husband wears.  Needless to say, I made him get them.  AND I refused to buy him any other pants so he'll HAVE to wear those and get used to them when it gets cooler!  Why not just buy him slicky pants?  Because he can't possibly go around all the time in those things AND we were having the same problem with those.  If they fit in the waist, they were too long.  If they fit in the length, they didn't fit in the waist.

And what I can't figure out is he's NOT FAT!  He's not reed thin like the wrestler, but you'd never look at him and think he was chunky.  Its like all this belly just appeared from no where (with a little help from my mother's southern cooking when he visited her for 2 months this summer).  So, by the time we got his book bag (which he decided he didn't like AFTER we got home, once he saw he's brothers') and his new size 8.5 kicks by Nike, we had been shopping for 6 hours!  And what did he have?  4 shirts, 2 shorts, 1 pair of jeans (I only bought one pair because I'm afraid he'll either 1) Refuse to wear them.  2) Have his growth spurt within the next month and not BE ABLE to wear them.), underwear, socks, and a jacket.  AFTER SIX HOURS!

I try to remind myself that this is a really difficult time for most kids.  You're trying to fit in.  You haven't figured out yet that its more important to be WHO you are and NOT who you want others to THINK you are.  I wouldn't relive my pre-teen and early teenage years over again if you paid me!  And he is by no means a spoiled brat, like this post would suggest.  In fact, he's one of the nicest kids I know and I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom.  So, I know that he's just going through a stage when he wants to look good and dress like his friends.  We all went through that time and now, its his turn.  Kind of makes me tear up at the thought that my little boy is becoming a young man.  I can't believe that my baby is going to junior high!  Where has the time gone?

So, today I'm headed out with the football player who's got confidence in spades.  He knows what he wants and he doesn't really care about what other people think.  Of course, he's not quite 11, so he hasn't hit that stage yet.  But I don't know if he ever will.  He's just one of those kids that is very confident in who he is and I hope that NEVER changes.  

Wish me luck!  Hopefully, today will go a little smoother and I will actually accomplish everything I set out to do today so I can spend tomorrow getting my sawdust on!  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Sweet Deal (or two!)

I think I've forgiven Craiglist for its betrayal from last week.  I was little soured on the whole deal, but today my online garage sale was redeemed!

I found this AWESOME solid oak rocking chair with the BEST detailing on the back.  Today, I picked it up for a song - $30.00!  It is going to be absolutely PERFECT in our bedroom!  And better yet, I picked up a gallon of the most gorgeous green paint that I'm going to paint it with.  I had originally thought that the color pallet for our bedroom was going to be gray and white with pops of turquoise, but when I saw this green eggshell paint in the mis-tint aisle at Menard's I KNEW that it was color I was going to go with!  At $5.00 a gallon, it was such a steal!  I am so glad I learned about mis-tinted cans through the amazing blogs I read!  So, the nightstands, and now this rocking chair are going to be green.  And if I get REALLY brave, I'm going to paint my vanity that color too!

So, here's the chair:

Is that not the most awesome thing EVER???

Here's a close-up of the carving on the back:

And the arms:

And another close-up of the little bit of veneer that is coming off the back.  This does give me some pause, as it seems to be REALLY thick veneer.  In fact, I'm not even sure it IS veneer.  It just seems a lot thicker than any veneer I've ever seen.

I CANNOT WAIT to try my first attempt at distressing and using finishing paste.  And the hubs has promised me that I can buy an electric hand sander since I hate sanding with a vengeance.  I am just so excited at the thought of it all!

I also went on a little buying mission at Menard's today.  I used to DESPISE going into that place!  The hubs would spend HOURS in there and I would be all antsy for him to get what he wanted and get out.  Now, I get downright excited to go into that store.  It's a restorer's heaven!

I think I'm getting a little ahead of myself though, with all my furniture purchases.  As of now, I have 4 nightstands to refinish (2 of which I already owned), the football player's chest of drawers, 2 twin headboards/footboards (we own those, as well), the rocking chair, and a buffet that I bought today.  I have now promised myself that I will purchase absolutely nothing until all those pieces are completed.  I won't even LOOK!

I also found an oak buffet yesterday on Craigslist.  Unfortunately, the one I REALLY wanted was almost 2 hours away and the hubs vetoed the idea of me driving that far north to buy it.  Sad thing is, it was definitely the era in which I was looking, had some minor veneer issues on the top, and was only $10!!!  DARN!

So, last night I called one that was for sale locally for $100.  The gentleman was a little ill-informed (not that I'm even close to an expert) and told me that the one he had for sale was built probably in the 1920s-1930s.  Supposedly the only thing that was wrong with it was one of the doors was off a hinge because the screw holes had been stripped out - an easy fix.   Well, I figured with an asking price of $100 bucks, it would probably be in pretty decent shape.

I was a little disappointed when I got there.  I had assumed from the way he made it sound, that the man just needed more space in his garage and wanted to get rid of it.  When I pulled up to the residence, it was obvious that the guy probably just needed money quick and this was one of the only things he had of value that he could sell for any decent amount of money.  The small one car garage was full of boxes and miscellaneous furniture.  The garage obviously wasn't  even remotely able to keep out the elements, so I knew I'd be dealing with some moisture damage.

She (I always refer to my furniture in the feminine, no clue why, just do - Heck, I might start naming it.  LOL) was in pretty rough shape and definitely had more going on than a door that was off.  Due to moisture, the veneer was buckling off in places on the front and on a few spots was peeling.  But the piece itself was actually a really solid piece of oak furniture.  I'm not sure if the knobs are original, they probably are since they match the wood drawers.  It even has the key that fits into the locks on the drawers.

The one good thing is it still had the dealer tag in the back.  It says it was made by Chittenden and Eastman from Burlington, Iowa and it has "Square Brand" on the tag, as well.

The company dates it's beginnings back to 1866.  Thanks to Google, I have seen some absolutely beautiful pieces by them from the 1920s.  They manufactured the Square Brand product from 1890 to the early 1970s, so I have a very broad range of years that this could be dated.  Something about it reminds me of furniture that came from my Dad's childhood home, so I'm thinking maybe 1940s or 1950s????

Given the nature of the work I was going to have to put into it, there was NO WAY I was paying the $100 asking price.  Its not like it was some kind of antique that needed the work and would be worth quite a bit when it was finished.  At best, it might be 40 years old.
I really didn't want to have wasted a 45 minute drive for nothing either.  When he saw me hemming and hawing and pointing out the issues it had, he said, "I'll make you a deal.  I'll take $80 for it."  That DID NOT impress me.  I looked at it some more, looked at the back again...  Stared at the front...  I already had an idea about what I would do with the veneer buckling off the drawers, but I knew it would be super-lots of work.  So, I offered him $60 and that was only because I knew that it was solid oak.  And he took the offering price.  Honestly, I feel like I should have only paid about $50 for it, but I didn't think he'd go half.  If it turns out the way I think it will, I will be satisfied in the end.  I just really wish there was a way to find out for sure how old it is.


Here she is in all her faded glory:

Looks like I've got a lot of work to do!  I probably won't post for a little while, while I work on the all the things I've acquired lately.  But when I do post again, hopefully I'll have lots of reveals to show you!

Until then, take care!  :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DIY Medal Display

Two of the boys compete around our state for wrestling and one competes on a traveling team for basketball.  Just about every single weekend from November through March you can find us somewhere rooting our kids on and we LOVE it!

This picture of  our "wrestler" was recently featured in the June 2011, USA Wrestler Magazine.  He was so stoked!

This is our "football player".  He hasn't figured out which he likes better, football or wrestling.  He's so good at both!  And now he wants to play baseball!

And #11 is our "basketball player".  The other two keep trying to convert him to wrestling, but its not happening.  And he loves it, so we try to keep the other two from giving him such a hard time.  If you know anything about wrestling, its that they're always ribbing basketball players.  They call him, "Pumpkin-Pusher".  LOVELY.

We are so into sports, that it was even the theme of last year's Christmas card:

Anyhoo...  ADD moment there...

We have TONS of medals from their tournaments and I have gotten so tired of finding them everywhere or finding them broken.  When I first started working on their room I really wanted to make a shelf that went all the way around the top of their room to put their trophies on, with pegs underneath for them to hang their medals.  While that would be uber cool, I have no skills whatsoever with building a shelf and getting the hubs to do something like that during our busy season is like pulling teeth, so I came up with the next best (and super cheap and easy) thing.

Here's this picture again:

My solution to the medal problem:  Pegboard and J-Hooks.  

I won't give you a play-by-play on this one, since all I did was slap a coat of primer on, slap one coat of paint on and call it good.  However, I think I will be stopping by Menard's and grabbing some trim to trim out the edges.  I'll post that picture later - after the hubs is actually home long enough to hang the board for me (there's that leveling-challenged thing again).

But I think it was actually a pretty good idea and now they all want their OWN medal boards.  Guess it's off to buy some more peg board and J-Hooks.  Until then...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Motivating... DIY Wall Art

"Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it."
~ George  Halas

This quote, by George Halas, a pioneer in American professional football, are words we can all live by.  And it is also a very good summarization of something I always tells my boys before a game or a match:  "If you do your very best, you have nothing to be ashamed of.  All I care about is that you give 110% and have fun doing it."

On my last post, I showed you a picture of a few odds-n-ends that I picked up to work on a project for the boys' room:

A few months ago, I ran across this awesome little dealie on a blog while randomly looking for ideas for the Diva's room:

Here's the link for it HERE.

I completely fell in love with how it grabbed your attention with its boldness, yet it projects simplicity at the same time.  What a statement maker.  I also adore the message - from the Bible, as well as one of my favorite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman.

My first thought was to use the idea for the Diva's room, but thinking about it more, I decided to put something similar in the boys' room.  I wanted to use it as something that inspires them and keep it so simple that the words not only become a mantra because they see it so often, but also something they keep with them for the rest of their lives.  So, I decided to put my own twist on her original idea.

My first step was to purchase a piece of plywood from Menard's.  Luckily they have a help yourself section, and I had plenty of sizes and thicknesses to choose from.  I went with a 3/4" 4'x4' sheet knowing I had plenty of wall space to use.

I lugged that bad boy home (Thank goodness for my Yukon XL with its awesome storage space), up the stairs, and into the Diva's room that is, by necessity, becoming my workspace, while we wait for the skim coat to cure.  After layering newspaper on the floor, I laid the sheet flat and primed the entire surface.  I didn't bother roughing it up, as it was already pre-sanded.

Then, I waited overnight for it to dry.  I didn't get around to putting the first coat of paint on it until later that evening since we were busy.  I have a really great local True Value store, that helped me mix the exact match to U of I's Gold when I painted the boys' room a year ago.  They have it saved in their computer as "Hawkeye Gold" for me, so if I ever needed it again (which it turned out I did), they'd have it.

Unfortunately, one of the new kittens that we got last week got shut in the bedroom with the sign and decided to contribute her own artistic talent to my wall art.  Silver Lining:  That area will be covered by another coat of paint when I finish, so I didn't have do put on another coat of paint.  WHEW!

After painting, I began thinking about my lettering.  In her post on Pink Coffee PhotoArt, she used regular 6" letter decals from an office supply store.  I decided I didn't want to purchase that many decals because my saying is a little longer than her's.  I still had plenty of contact paper left over from using it on the basketball player's chest of drawers, so I decided to use that instead.

I went on my computer and found a font that I liked for the signage.  I went with IMPACT in a size 600 font and printed them out on my handy-dandy printer.

Something you might do, but I didn't think of is to figure out how many multiples of letters you have in the phrase or saying you're going to use.  It never even crossed my mind to do that, so I printed out all of the letters.  And OF COURSE, my printer ran out of black ink 4 letters short of completing the entire quote.  So, I had to stop in the middle of what I was doing and make a run to Wal-Mart.  Not to mention the amount of trees you'd save.  :)

Then, I went about tracing the letters onto contact paper.  It took me about an hour to trace all of the letters.

After tracing all the letters, I put each word into a pile and laid anything I could find that was heavy on it to flatten the letters out because they wanted to roll up.  I left them like that overnight.  Worked like a charm.

Finally I started on the task of using an X-ACTO knife to cut out all of the letters I had traced.  That took me about an hour and a half with breaks after every 3rd word.

I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't going for perfect.  I found doing anything with a curve pretty tedious, but any straight lines were a snap.  I think I'll probably get better with that in time.  Plus, I want the wall art to have a home-made aged look to it.  I just kept repeating to myself when I would goof up:  "Its not supposed to look perfect."  Pretty hard giving that up for a perfectionist like me.

After I was done cutting out all the letters, I laid them out on the board to get a feel for where I should place the words, how many words per line, how many lines I would need, and spacing of the letters and the lines.

I'm really not sure why the camera makes the board look longer than it is wide, but it really is a true square.

My next step was to mark lines using a pencil to make sure each line was straight and evenly measured out.

I'm what I like to call leveling-challenged.  I can't draw a straight line even using a ruler.  My husband hangs all the pictures in the house.  I can't even tell that the line I've drawn is at an angle.  Its ridiculous!  And frustrating!  So, when I'm having to draw a straight  line, I first measure vertically from a straight edge and use hash marks across the surface I'm drawing on to make sure when I lay the ruler horizontally, I'm keeping it straight.  Each line was exactly 66 cm apart.  I don't know why I used centimeters, it just happened to be the side of the yardstick I was using.

Then I measured 4 across the width of the surface...

After painstakingly (I'm sure you'll be able to do it much quicker if you can draw a straight line), measuring out all four lines, I laid all my words out again to figure out the best placement of the letters.

Because I ended up with some extra space at the bottom, I went back to the computer and printed out an 8x10 of our school mascot, the Go-Hawk.  I thought that added a nice touch and was glad it turned out that way.  So I would remember where I had placed each word, I put a hash mark beside the first letter of each word and a line where the center of the Go-Hawk needed to be.

Next I began to apply the contact paper letters.  At first, I was kind of concerned  because the contact paper really didn't seem sticky enough to adhere to the painted plywood.  That actually turned out to be a God-send because then I was able to move them around quite easily and didn't have to worry about the letter getting stuck at an angle or spacing that wasn't right.  When I got the letter positioned properly, I used a credit card to smooth the letters and get out all the air bubbles, just as she advised on her blog at Pink Coffee Photoart.  It worked wonderfully!

Here's what it looked like once all the words were on:

I realized that the "O" in nobody is actually smaller, but I have no clue how I managed to do that.  However, I decided to leave it because I thought it looked neat (Read:  I told myself it wasn't supposed to be perfect anyway!").  It took me just under an hour to finish this stage.

The next part is pretty simple.  Just cover the entire piece of wood in your secondary paint color.  I, of course, went with black.

I chose to use a brush to apply the paint.  The idea is for the sign to look old and worn, so I wanted visible brush strokes in the paint. I have to admit, that at this point I was holding my breath because I wasn't sure if the contact paper adhered enough for the paint not to seep under it and ruin the crisp lines.

Here's what the board looked like completely painted with the 2nd coat:

At this point, I put a fan on it and closed the door on it.  It either would or wouldn't work, but boy I sure hoped it would!

Unfortunately, it did bleed the slightest bit.  Maybe I should have gone with the decals from the office supply store, but what do you do when something doesn't work exactly the way you planned?  You make it LOOK like it's supposed to be that way.  I ended up with an sign that looks like the yellow paint is peeling off the black surface.  WORKS FOR ME!  And in the end, perfect for a bunch of rough and tumble athletes.  Lord knows, nothing stays perfect for long in their room anyway!  ;)

Here's the final result:

Not too bad for a gal that has not one stitch of craftiness in her.  :)