Tag Archives: decorating

Catching Up

I’m spending a portion of this four day holiday weekend catching up on some of the things I never seem to have enough time for. This morning my task list included going through a multitude of photos I have taken and deciding which to delete, file, add to the entrance area slideshow or write blog posts about.

Now I have to actually write some posts – this first one is actually about TWO projects that we worked on last summer. Yes, I am that far behind which is why I’m combining two projects in one post.

Back in June I wrote about the new octagon shaped dining table. I also wanted to write about the place mats the children (aged 2-8) made to define their spaces at the table. Each child worked on their place mat design independently so each one would be unique as some of the children are prone to copying or competing with others.

When they were all complete and dry I covered the place mats with clear plastic film to protect them from spills. Only once they were all together on the table did the children get to see what the others had created.

For several weeks these place mats were the main focus of discussions around the table at meal/snack times. The conversations were amazing. So many questions. So much interest in what others had done.

Interestingly it was the work of the two-year-old that garnered the most attention – ‘Hey, how did he do that?’

The answer to that question is ‘After he added paint, he used the handle of the brush to create the textured pattern’. This was exactly why I had them all work independently. Had they all been painting at the same time then either someone would have ‘corrected’ him by telling him he was using the wrong end of his paint brush or everyone would have copied him and the place mats would have all looked the same… End of conversation.

The second project didn’t involve the children but was a space I created for the children. The ‘Nature Area’ is the small room off the main play space. It has always been a quiet space to read, relax or reflect. This post from last year show what it used to look like after the addition of the nest swing.

The babies’ cribs used to be situated on opposite sides of the room with their long side against the wall and the ‘quiet’ space in the centre of the room. There was some ‘extra’ space at the ends of the cribs – not really enough to be considered useful for storage space or play space just wasted space. Wasted space bothers me immensely.

Last summer I moved both cribs to the same side of the room with their short sides against the wall and the cot storage between them – no more wasted space. At nap time a temporary divider wall is placed between the cribs to provide a little privacy for sleeping babies now that they are much closer to each other.

The open area of the room is now considerably larger with the addition of the space on the other side of the room. I rearranged the trees and added some cushions and a wall tapestry. It is now a much more cozy, comfortable area for reading and relaxing.

There is still plenty of open space in front of the window if the children want to stand and look outside at ‘real’ nature. Of course there are still fake branches, bird and butterflies to look up at when you lay on the nest swing.

But that could change too. I did buy another tapestry that I considered hanging on the ceiling here…but I love it so much I might put it somewhere else. I just haven’t yet decided where that may be…

My Vacation – 2012 Edition

Today is the last day of my vacation.  Around here vacation time is not for relaxing or travelling.  Two weeks with no childcare schedule or programming.  Two weeks without young children in my home. Vacation time is when we tackle those big projects that can’t be completed in a weekend.

So, what did we do this year you ask?  First I’ll give you a little history.

We’ve lived in this 100 year old house for 16 years.  It is relatively small – 1040 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It was in rough shape when we moved in but over the years we’ve fixed floors and shingles.  We’ve had new windows, doors and a furnace installed.  We’ve painted, built cupboards, put on siding and done many landscaping projects. The bathrooms have been on the ‘project list’ since the beginning but we keep putting them off.

The basement bathroom gets the most use.  It is dark and dingy.  It has an ugly plastic shower stall that leaks but it works.  It is permanently dirty – stained — cleaning seems pointless.  Upstairs the vinyl floor is cracked and buckled and there are pieces missing.  The bathtub finish is rough and uncomfortable – I never use the bathtub but some of my sons do.  The plaster walls are ugly and the paint is bad.  Both the floor and the paint are yellowish from age – I hope.

The dilemma was which bathroom to attempt first.  I want to replace the plastic shower in the basement with a tile one but I’ve never installed tiles before.  What if we encounter issues and the project takes longer than two weeks to complete? The daycare children use the basement bathroom and although I could let them use the upstairs bathroom temporarily I didn’t really want to.  So, even though it doesn’t get much use, the upstairs bathroom would be this year’s vacation project – the ‘practice’ project.

Of course I didn’t remember to take a ‘before’ picture because we started demolition as soon as my ‘vacation’ began.  I think my husband and I make a good team for these projects because we have different skills.  I’m more into details – the plans, the lists, and the finish work.  My husband is better at the loud, messy stuff – and I rely on him to use those scary power tools.  (shudder)

We have different methods of working too.  Even when he doesn’t need assistance he likes to have someone (me) nearby so he can ‘vent’ – I ‘help’ by ‘listening’.  There’s always a sense of urgency when he is working. Sometimes I offer suggestions and he retorts ‘Do you want to do this?’  I prefer to work independently – slowly and methodically – analyzing and pausing often to reflect on the progress.  My husband helps by pacing and ‘encouraging’ me to stay on task.

In the last week I spent a lot of time here;

I wasn’t sleeping in the bathtub (although it is comfy enough that I could have); the sheets and quilt are there to protect the new tub from paint, caulking and grout.

Tiling was something new for both of us so there was a lot of trial and error and many trips to the store.  I discovered that there are special tile nippers for glass tiles – the ones I was using worked but they left tiny little shards of glass on the floor.  The slivers of glass were easier to find if you just followed the trail – took me a while to figure out what those red streaks were, I felt no pain.

The walls are painted ‘Liberty Gray’ to match the lighter parts of the wall tiles.  It is a shade of blue but I had a mild anxiety attack when I first opened the paint can – it looked purple (mauve). I don’t like purple and I detest pink and red.  I usually stick to earth tones so even blue is unusual for me but I’m really happy with this color scheme.

Overall it was a slow process – not as physically demanding as some of our projects but there were so many steps and periods of waiting for caulking/grout/paint to dry.  Two weeks of time and a $1500 budget and the upstairs bathroom is now complete.  I need to find/buy some towels that match.

It functions well but we don’t use it.  I often turn on the light and stand in the doorway to look at it – like a piece of artwork.  We use the bathroom in the basement so we don’t get the new one dirty. 🙂

That’s Not a Christmas Tree

I used to do a lot of decorating for Christmas.  I hung garland and swags on railings and door frames.  I put decorations on every available space on walls and shelves.  There were lights for all the windows.  My children helped me decorate our tree – we had more ornaments than we could possibly fit on the six foot tall tree.  I put the tree on a two foot tall table so the top of the tree touched the ceiling and there was plenty of room for plenty of gifts underneath.

I began all this decorating on the first day of December and took it all down on Boxing Day.  I felt it was a lot of work – it was something that I considered a duty not something that I actually enjoyed.  Some other members of my family would occasionally agree to help but I found out that they only did it because they thought it was important to me.  Huh?  I only decorated for them.

As my children got older I decorated less.  We bought a four foot tree and later I recycled the old six foot tree as part of the nature area in the playroom.  It was still difficult to persuade anyone to help me decorate the four foot tree and no matter where I put it it always seemed to be in someone’s way.

I got a two foot tall tree – I selected all the smallest ornaments and only decorated the tree once.  On Boxing Day I put the still decorated tree in a box and tossed it in the attic to wait for next year. It took just minutes to get it down, plop it on the table and fluff it up a bit.

This year I forgot to get the tree down at the beginning of December.  Maybe it was the warmer weather and lack of snow but I didn’t even think about decorating until it was almost the middle of December.  I put up my winter village – it stays in the window until spring.  I didn’t bother getting the tree from the attic.  I didn’t even put the window clings on the windows.  Nobody seemed to notice though.

Then last week one of the daycare children asked ‘Hey Cheryl, where’s your Christmas tree?’  I was going to tell them it was in the attic but instead I said, ‘It’s in the nature area’. There was silence as the children looked at each other – they seem puzzled.

There is no Christmas tree in the nature area.’ one of them said.  I pointed at the pine tree in the corner;

That’s not a Christmas tree’ they said in unison.

Why not?’  I asked

It has no decorations.’ They replied.

‘We could decorate it,’ I suggested, ‘but my decorations are in the attic so we’ll have to make some.’  I had seen a Christmas decoration craft over at The Crafty Crow that I thought would be suitable for all the children – and I had some sparkly poster board that would work for this purpose.

I gathered some supplies and started cutting out the circles and some pieces of yarn.

The preschoolers were most interested in the scraps that were left over after I cut out the circles.

The cats liked them too.

We got busy making decorations.  Everyone had their preferred method.  There were intricate designs with multiple colors and simple designs that had really long loops for hanging.  Some children spent a lot of time on each ornament and insisted that each one they made was different from every other one.  There was one child who mass produced a dozen identical ornaments in less than 15 minutes!

We hung all the completed ornaments on the tree;

There was still plenty of room on the tree and enough supplies to make many more ornaments so I’ve left the tray out in the sun room.  Each day there are some more ornaments to add to the tree.

Now we have a Christmas tree.  It’s ours and we love it.  There are no Christmas tree rules – each tree is special and unique.  Small or large, exquisite or plain, artificial or real, traditional or unconventional; it’s your tree – you decide.

Go check out some of these interesting Christmas tree creations