Let There Be Light

We’ve been in our “new” house just over 6 months now and we’re finally starting to wrap up a few little projects that we had put off to make way for the bigger ticket items. We love having a nice, big formal dining room and we use it almost exclusively for mealtimes. Liam uses the table for coloring with crayons or squishing Play-Doh. I suppose we don’t use it in a very formal fashion, but we do use the room a lot!

We’ve never been too fond of the rustic chandelier in there though. The size of the fixture was nicely proportioned for the room, but the style just wasn’t “us” at all.

rustic dining room chandelier

We wanted a bit more modern-looking light in brushed nickel or steel finish, but those we found at the local stores were way too expensive, so we just waited. Finally, Rob found the Pierce Brushed Steel Nine-Light chandelier at Bellacor.com, a web-based lighting & decor showroom. This new fixture is the right scale for the room, the glass shades really brighten up the space, and was available at a price that couldn’t be beat:

brushed nickel dining room chandelier

Best of all, Rob was able to install it in just a few minutes (with some welcome help from Ryan, a.k.a. “Mr. I Can Touch The Ceiling Without a Ladder.”)

You can see a bit more of our dining room progress and photos of other areas of the house via the interactive floorplan that Rob has been working on here. You can click a room on the diagram to see what we’ve done in each area. Note that many of the rooms don’t yet have a project page, but those will be online very soon, so check back in the coming days & weeks for more updates.

No Loitering

National Delurking Week banner

Thanks to an early morning tip from my bro Rich, I discovered a couple of problems with the WordPress comment settings. Something I did recently switched comments off for all posts, which explains why things have been so quiet for the past week or so. (We were starting to think you just didn’t care about us anymore!) Now that I’ve got that resolved, there’s no reason to be a lurker.

What’s a lurker? In Web parlance, it’s someone who reads forums, newsgroups, or blogs, but rarely participates. Don’t slink around our site unnoticed – post a comment or two! Let us know that you were here!

Oh sure, we’ve got colorful little pie charts & graphs from Google Analytics that say people actually do occasionally visit our site (and we really do appreciate that!) but blogging is all about community. Want to share something cool? Feel the need to rant? Having a burning question you’ve been dying to ask? Cut loose! We love feedback!

After all, if you don’t leave a comment, you’re letting the terrorists win.

Mr. Motormouth

We’ve mentioned a few times (most recently on our Labor Day trip to Round Rock) how thankful we are that Liam is such a great traveler and generally loves riding in the car. Even on long rides, he doesn’t usually sleep much, but instead just occupies himself with a book, his doodlepad, a toy or just looking out the window. But regardless of whatever else is going on, he’s always talking.

Don’t get me wrong, Dede & I love how communicative our son is and we’re often outright floored by the very mature way he converses with us. (Dede would probably say that he’s inherited his Dad’s propensity for “big words.”) But y’know, while Liam’s very articulate speech is usually fun & impressive, there is a downside:   he almost never stops yakking!

So, so many times, I’ve flashed back to the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where the loose-lipped rabbit is mistakenly kidnapped by gangsters and ends up driving them batty with his incessant chatter. Sure, we’ve doled out more than a few “hushes!” but more than once I’ve wanted oh so badly to be able to instead just say this (without the gun, of course):

(Naturally, Liam clams up tight when we really want him to say something clever or cute on cue. Oh yeah, then he’s a regular Michigan J. Frog.)

So, what about your kids—are they chatterboxes or as quiet as church mice?

G-Ma Turns 82

Today is my Mom’s 82nd birthday.  We celebrated with her yesterday by taking some cupcakes to the nursing home and it’s a good thing we brought extras!  Once the singing started some of the other residents decided to join in the birthday festivities.  One man got a little upset when he thought there were no more cupcakes and he was going to get left out.  He calmed down though once we got a cupcake for him.

Mom didn’t remember that it was her birthday but sure was excited when Liam gave her a gift and a hug.

It made me happy to see Mom in such good spirits.  We had a good visit and lots of fun singing and talking with the other ladies that sat at the table with us.  It’s always sad to go visit her in the nursing home but she seems content and is getting good care.

I’m not sure what the face she is making in the picture below is all about, but she had green icing all over her face by the time that cupcake was finished.  The other lady in the photo licked all the icing off her cupcake and then gave it back to me.  😉

Here are a couple of videos from the party:

I love Annie’s response in the next video:

Happy Birthday Mom, we love you!

Liam’s New Rain Gutter Bookshelves

You’ve heard the phrase, “Get your mind out of the gutter,” but maybe in this case, the gutter is a good place to be…

Recently, we stumbled across a blog post about rain gutter bookshelves and decided that these would be good to put on the big blue wall in Liam’s room as a clever & inexpensive (less than $15!) way to the handle some of the oversized books that won’t fit on his regular bookshelf cubbies. So we decided to turn today into “Project Saturday” and get busy.  Below is a before picture of the wall:

We spend a lot of time reading to him from the comfy recliner in his room so putting the bookshelves below the window seemed like the perfect spot.  After some measuring, leveling & drilling, here’s what we ended up with:

Here’s another couple of pictures with some books on the shelves:

We were happy with the end result and Liam was excited to see some of his favorite books prominently displayed.  Now he just has to decide which book to read first.

If you’re interested in putting up your own rain gutter bookshelves, read the tutorial at Raising Olive’s blog post. And be sure to check out the Rain Gutter Literacy Revolution for a more in-depth look at the effect of displaying childrens’ books facing forward.

What are some innovative ways you’ve handled book storage in your home?

Labor Day Weekend 2010

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that the past few months have been kind of chaotic for us so even though we have a dozen ongoing projects at the house, last weekend we decided to take a much-needed break and get out of town for a couple of days.

So we headed to Round Rock, Texas (just north of Austin). Admittedly, we also hoped to do a little shopping, but we planned the trip around a train ride for Liam. Thanks to Thomas the Tank Engine & Chuggington, he’s really crazy about trains and has been asking about riding one for quite some time now.

I found a vintage train that goes from Cedar Park suburb to the Oatmeal Festival in Bertram that was about an hour ride each way. The train was scheduled to be pulled by a restored steam engine but it was out for repairs so we had to settle for an old diesel engine. The train was named the “Oatmeal Flyer” but we’ve decided they should change the name to the “Oatmeal Crawler;” man, that train was slow! Anyway, Liam was thrilled to finally get to ride on a train and loved meeting the Conductor.

Liam and the Conductor

Liam on his first train ride

Liam looks out the window of the train

Liam gives Oatie a hugDuring our stop in Bertram, we walked down to the Oatmeal Festival parade which was really nice; they’ve got a lot of small town spirit going on there!. Liam got his first experience of racing to scoop up candy that was thrown from the parade and he loved meeting Oatie, the mascot of the Oatmeal Festival. The parade also included the local villain, The Grits Guzzler, who was apprehended by the local police during the parade and drenched with oats.

After the s-l-o-w train back to Round Rock, we headed to our favorite store, Ikea. It is also one of Liam’s favorite stores because he loves their play area. We were all set to shop and he was all set to play and then things took a turn for the worse. They had the play area closed down for renovations. That did not set well with our boy and he let the whole store know about it. There were tears throughout the departments until we reached the kid’s section of the store. Yes, he now owns a new soccer ball and wooden train set that helped soothe his disappointment of the play area renovation. We wouldn’t normally buy him something to make him stop crying, but I just felt so sorry for him since he had talked about playing at Ikea the whole 7 hour car ride there.

Things went pretty smoothly after the Ikea fiasco and we got a bit more shopping in at the Outlet Mall there. On our way home, we we stopped off in Brady. We spent a few hours there visiting with our friends who always spoil him. This time, with help from Glenda, he even got to drive a “Mule,” which of course he loved.

Liam drives a Mule

So, it was a fun-filled weekend but we were glad to get home so we could get some rest. I am so thankful that Liam is such a good traveler. He loves riding in the car and staying in hotels.

How about you, what did you do for Labor Day weekend?