Friday, 30 December 2011

House Update - Dec11

I had a friendly reminder from my biggest fan, that this month has been disappointing, blog-wise! Dean, who actually lives all the chaos I share on here, actually required an update. Well Darling, this is for you...

The week before Christmas saw a tirade of tradesmen (I don't actually know the correct collective noun, so I thought I would just make one up). We had ceilings, walls and the most divine bi-fold doors done before the jingle of bells. Most of downstairs was adorned with a decorative cornice, and I felt happy driving away for a few days of well deserved Christmas feasting and frivolity.

This week though, there has been no feasting. Dean has been on holidays so we've lived out of a cooler bag, snacking on crackers and downing Powerade like we owned shares. I have been painting windows, balancing atop ladders, contorting with bucket and brush in hand, until my neck seized in protest.

For once, I am actually looking forward to Dean's return to work. I miss having clean floors. I miss my days at home with the girls, the pool, the air-conditioning, the cooked meals, but most of all, the kids routine!

I have attached a few pics as an update. I will post some of the beautiful doors at the back of the house, when I take one without me standing in the reflection wearing my "special" paint splattered clothes!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

We love you!

The photo for our family Christmas calendar.

I procrastinated over these shots for weeks, and funnily today my sister rang me to ask whether I had one for this year - out of panic, I took these shots in the garage! I love the way they turned out. No change of clothes, no waiting for the right light, just simple shots of the girls with amazing smiles.

We love you.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

What keeps me smiling...

Currently our front garden is overflowing with beautiful blooms and nobody to appreciate them. Cate and I placed posies on paint tins and in the open air loo to amuse this weeks tradesmen.

Christmas baubles adorn the porta-fence like jewels, purely for our own joy.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

As promised, the gorgeous photos of my sweet Josie that I took on the weekend (albeit late).

Today, Rose graduated year one, and as expected I bawled. The kiddies danced (and so did the parents), and ate lots of Christmas themed, party food.  I sat with tears streaming down my face, thinking about how much she has blossomed this year.

Cate finished school today too like it was just another day. Being as she is sooo old and mature now, they don't do anything to mark the occasion. No presentation, no concert for the parents, no nativity - nothing. A proud, precious moment in our lives but not worth celebrating at school, sad.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The house is progressing nicely at the moment, but as usual, this time of year is mostly filled with Christmas and graduation celebrations.

Dean and I spent most of Saturday at the house - me painting windows, he dressed as the abominable snowman, filling the ceilings with insulation. My sister, (bless her) had the kids for us and took them to the park for a play, so we worked in silence, stopping only briefly for a quick coffee.

We had a party Saturday night and then more Christmas celebrations for Dean's work on Sunday, so another weekend minus a break saw me arrive at work this morning with the obligatory migraine. Thankfully there is only three days of school this week and we are holidays.

I hope to post some pictures of the house this week as there is a lot going on. Weather permitting (haha), we will be at lockup by the end of next week. The kitchen isn't going to be ready before Christmas, so we can spend the break cleaning up, ready for a flurry of inside activity come new year.

Here are some of the great pics I got of Grace yesterday (not great quality, but that's because it's animated). Every time I see the one of the dog licking her, I snort with laughter. 

(My camera has run out of battery, so I'm unable to download the fantastic ones I took of Josephine. Check back tomorrow for those.)


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Frocking up for the festive season

Her festive top and headband. 
Yesterday my beautiful Josephine graduated from Kindy. The dress code was Christmas attire, so I spent the last week designing and sewing a festive outfit for the occasion.

I know I have done this twice before, but I doesn't get any easier. You would also think I would have remembered to wear less eye make-up, but no. Tears ran freely as she shook her tush while wishing me a "Very Merry Christmas and a groovy New Year".

There were carols, cakes, certificates and the a special visit from Santa himself. A wonderful way to end an amazing year for her. I still find myself thinking she is four and just starting school, but in a few short months, she will be five and at school five days a week!

I sat down today to show her the video of her dancing, and to watch a collection of photos from her teacher, that she had put to music. I would like to say that Greenday's "Time of your life", should be banned from kids DVD's. I dare anyone to watch images of loved ones, with that tune haunting your subconscience, and not start sobbing!

Josephine's wonderful teacher.
I am grateful for these bittersweet graduations where you are reminded of how fast life passes, and how precious your children are. For the first time since becoming a mother, I will have all my children (if only for five hours a week), at school next year.

This time next week, they will officially be on school holidays and I couldn't be more excited. I cannot wait to spend the next seven weeks with my precious girls.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sobbing Saturday. Happy Sunday.

Another weekend of slavery and mood swings. Saturday saw me sobbing in the sweltering heat at the sheer amount of work we have ahead of us. Complete exhaustion suffocating what was left of my motivation, had me unable to use my inside voice!

The girls were purely evil and I could not cope with their mischievous energy. I set up the sprinkler under the scaffolding to exhaust the naughty from them, but sadly evil has no limits, they were possessed!

The cool water soothed my seething, emotional self, but failed to tame the beasts. Playdough, sandwiches, banana peel, pencils, butcher's paper, glitter, paint, glue, ribbon, pompoms and the rest of the craft box were smeared across the lower level of our house while clothes hung from scaffolding. Kids with hand drawn tattoos up and down dirty limbs, refused to be coaxed into cleaning it up. 

Now I have mothered these children long enough to know that they are like a virus - they attack you when you are feeling down. Today I woke up feeling stronger and ready to tackle another day at the house but alas, a metamorphosis. They played perfectly, no fights or arguments and when I picked up the broom, they reached for one too. They played in the sand, made ice creams and biscuits from playdough, danced to music and played "mums and sisters". They also set up a beauty parlour while we were upstairs painting...

Make up by Rose.
Make up and nails by Cate. (Note the eyebrows!)
The angels (after the exorcism). 
The girls and I clocked off early today, as this house, much to my displeasure, doesn't clean itself. I am sitting here with my washing and ironing done, floors washed and bags packed ready for school tomorrow, all while four sweet babies lie sprawled across three beds. Happiness. Happy it is over.

(In case some of you need a visual as to why I am suffering from a bout of once-a-week bipolar, please see below.)


Monday, 28 November 2011

House Update 29.11

Unusually, the past week went by uneventfully. This time of year is typically hectic for most families and including a renovation deadline into the mix, you would expect chaos, but no.

Thanks to my amazing friend Ness, I had a child-free day at the house on Saturday to plod along with those jobs that take time, but don't show for much. Among other things, I squeezed myself and the electric hedge trimmer between a pile of old timber, left over rent-a-fence and prickly, pelvis-high weeds to manicure what was left of our rosemary hedge. You can't see it, but I'm hoping to peel away the rubble one day soon and be graced with a divine display of perfect roses surrounded by a Sunday lunch smelling hedge.

Today was the first day back for Mike. I found it amusing that Dean had to meet him at the house this morning at 6.30am to help with some lifting - this meant he was there to explain my random apologies and wood scrawled requests.  By the time I arrived with cupcakes and three little girls for protection, he offered a smile and voila, we were friends again. (Cupcakes are the answer to all life's problems - except obesity.)

Tomorrow the exterior cladding starts and we have to confirm our render colour. Our beautiful bi-fold doors should also be installed this week and then glass, (and a laundry door) is all that prevents us from being secure. Our baths, toilets and fixtures have all arrived and sit patiently waiting to be fitted, I think, for a few hours at least, I can relax and know it is not long now.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Doing Dean's dirty work!

I came into this renovation completely prepared. A degree by correspondence in interior design (aka a subscription to House and Garden). I studied weekly with the school of the air (Foxtel's Lifestyle channel), and I have mood boards of inspiration and ideas - Pinterest.

I researched products for their energy efficiency and made price comparisons. I am fluent in building lingo, "Pass me the phillips head screwdriver from over near the two by four".

Dean and I would scoff at the unprepared renovators on tv, making costly changes to their homes after they had been built, surprised they hadn't noticed the oddity on the plans. We had checked our plans a thousand times - they were perfect.

Except for the one part that isn't. Gasp, an oddity on the plans. The problem is, rather than notice it on paper, I noticed it on the completed timber framed walls, erected where our laundry and office will be.

Luckily, we haven't gyprocked them - unluckily, Dean is refusing to tell the man with the hammer and forcing me to do it! To prevent an issue with WorkSafe Australia, I chose to leave little messages, hoping he will be warmed by my humour. He is not due back on site until next week, so currently the note sits on the floor waiting in fear for his return.

Sadly, my only means of correspondence at the house
was packing paper and the odd crayon. 
Mike, I am truly sorry, I will bring cupcakes/beer for you and Mark. Think of it as extra spending money for Perth Cup. Dean, you should be ashamed of yourself, making your poor little wife butter up the men with the (nail) guns!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Welcome Monday...

We haven't always been friends - not so long ago I hated you, but not anymore! You now mean the end of a weekend of manual labour. Bye bye dirt, dust, sweat and sneakers, hello school runs and skirts.

Perched atop seven metres of scaffolding, Dean, his mum and I painted for nine hours today. It took me two weeks to climb the ladder to see my future bedroom - my girls had been up there three times before I had even peered over the beams, too scared to climb to the top of the ladder.

My first trip to the top this morning, I walked holding both sides of the fencing, crouching as close to the ground as possible. After climbing up and down half a dozen times before lunch to check on children, I was beginning to feel more comfortable. After seven hours, I was lying down painting the underside of the eaves like a pro!

I think the biggest feat for today, other than me conquering my fear of heights, was how amazing my girls were. They entertained themselves underneath us all day without so much as a grumble. I must admit, the occasional head poking up above the first floor, was worrying, but once we had established the rules about climbing up the ladder, they were perfect. I cannot praise them enough, I am so proud that we can do what is needed at our house as a family and not rely on sitters.

Well done my babies, I wouldn't sell you for a million today, you can all have your own room as a reward. Now to just finish them.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Kids 1, mum 0

Confession - I like my sleep. I am guilty of a lie in whilst my kids make themselves breakfast (and a mess in the kitchen). Rising with minutes to spare, I frantically yell orders to get ready for school because they are sitting in their pyjamas, eating porridge and spaghetti in the lounge room, watching tv.

I have tried disconnecting the aerial so the tv doesn't work - they put on a DVD. I even unplugged it completely, but being kids of a technological age, they put the cords back in their holes and within seconds, were happily mesmerized by the cartoons, oblivious of my foiled terrorist attack.

But I am mum, I am smarter!

Last night, Charlie wrapped the tv, and some of the lounge room in toilet paper, cunningly obstructing view of the hypnotizing screen. The girls know the rules, Santa's instructions were clear, "you must not touch the elf". Kids 0, mum 1 (I am starting the tally today so I look like I actually have some control over these children).

I went to sleep feeling powerful and devious. I had outsmarted the enemy, won the battle. Yes, but no.

I did not think of everything! The little ratbags, (that is the cute but sometimes drive you crazy kind if ratbags), woke us at the crack of dawn to inform us of the mess Charlie had made!

Crap. I now believe a sleep in, fed kids and a messy kitchen is waaaaay better than an early morning gaggle of girls bounding into your bedroom at day break.

Lesson learned - choose your battles. Kids 1, mum 0.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Captioning our weekend away

Sisterly love while ferry (a.k.a. fairy) waiting.
Josephine getting wet on deck!
Check in, then check out the view from our verandah.
Everyone enjoyed the blow up beach games.
(Even me who with a suspected throat infection, needed a sit in the sun.)
Snow angels in the sand.
Josephine alerting all of Rottnest she made it to the top.
"Muuuuuuuum, looooook at meeeeeee."
The casualties of too much beach fun.
(Josephine left, Grace right)
Rose lost her second tooth, in the sand, and then found it again.
$2 from the TF, the start of her money making weekend.
The $50 winning sand castle. Easy cash, they were the only
kids that didn't have an adult help, so got the sympathy vote for having crappy parents.
Oh, and the best design!!
(A bar on the beach = kids build sandcastles, parents drink beer.)
Josie and Grace's entry. Mum, Dad and the four kiddies.

Sigh. Kids are so brutality honest.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Happy 11.11.11

I think I am finally organized. A weekend away is needed after packing four kids for a weekend away. I will probably need another weekend away when I get home and catch up with all of the washing and unpacking - a vicious circle really!  Our car is packed to the brim with five bikes, suitcases, bags and then somehow I need to fit the children in.

I love the fact that Rottnest has no cars or taxis but I hate the fact that Rottnest has no cars or taxis. Our last trip saw me riding home at eleven pm with three frozen, little girls crammed into a bike trailer, and me in a summery dress and stilettos, trying to navigate our way back to our cabin in the dark. Dean followed carrying an esky whilst pushing Grace in the pram. Stupidity. This year, 2 girls ride themselves, we buy drinks at the venue and I wear jeans and boots (with a heel, I wasn't traumatized enough to wear flats).

I think the amusing part of Rottnest for Dean and the girls is not seeing me on a bike, but on the ferry. Not even a couple of frolicking whales can calm me, in fact, they make me worse. The girls run to the edge and I have to make the decision to either wet myself and shoo them back to their seats, or hope that someone else will jump in and save them if they fall. I spend the whole trip in tears and my elevated heart rate burns off three kilos in sweat.

Ferry ride over, I am sure I will have the best time and will be posting some happy snaps on my return.

Happy Rememberance Day. Happy to live in a wonderful, beautiful, free country. Lest we forget.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Surrounded by scaffolding

So far this week I have relied on the girls' Halloween treats to maintain a socially acceptable demeanor. A sugar high, a sweet, emotional pick-me-up and most importantly as a bribe reward for the kiddies.

Waves of excitement, anticipation and fear have consumed me as the house has gone from a lonely worksite to a stressful hive of activity. The second storey is framed and today the scaffolding was erected, leaving our home resembling teenage teeth covered in braces!

I have been perusing paint charts, lighting websites and bathroom inspiration as things are ordered, leaving me frazzled and my brain aching. I am trying to combine the art deco period features of the home with a modern feel and second guessing my decisions on an hourly basis.

This weekend we are off to Rottnest for a beach break. We are taking the bikes (I've had mine for 9 years and have only used it once) and I am really looking forward to a break from the house and having some family time with Dean.

Cate recounted our last Christmas break to Rottnest in the car this morning, announcing in front of Rose and Josephine how the best part about Dad's work Christmas parties was, "the strange man dressed in the bad Santa suit giving her presents". When did she grow up? I patiently told her that the real Santa is quite busy in November, making her presents and that it is polite to pretend for the others. Phew, dodged a bullet!

Anyway, below is how special my house is looking today, and then a couple of pics I found of how nice my garden used to be. Oh well, I am determined to get it back to it's beautifulness asap.

That is our never-been-used pool in the bottom left.

The yellow snow is from a tree that had to be removed to get the pool in.
Every Christmas morning we had a blanket of yellow covering our back lawn.
Just wanted to brag that Dean is currently out on a date with his mum and nanna for dinner. I think it is so sweet and I am very proud, what a fab son. (Unlike me who rang my mum today to see if she wanted to take me to the theatre. Hmm, she really lucked out with me.)

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Counting stairs to sleep

After a weekend of work, work, work, I find myself lounging on the couch in need of a pen. A million thoughts run through my exhausted mind and I need to take notes for my scrap book about tiles and stairs. So being lazy smart, I start thinking more laterally, and decide to post my ideas.

This week we did a spot of stair shopping and I bet you've never thought about how much one can lay awake at night, fretting about a staircase. So here is the image I sent to the stair-making-man.

Simple, jarrah tread and handrail, white posts and verticals, done. No, there's much more to consider when choosing a staircase, as I now know. There is a bottom step, that sometimes curves around and is larger than the other steps, then there is to have a "stringer" or not. (A stringer is where the posts hit a timber running up the staircase parallel to the handrail {see image below} - the one above has them landing on each step.)

The one above also has the two bottom steps larger than the others. Our stairs need only one railing as it is against a wall, so finding a picture that I can just send on to the stair-making-man with a post-it saying, "stop confusing me, just make this," is proving to be a challenge.

I am beginning to notice a pattern. The very feminine gentleman at the tile shop gave me an unpleasant look when I merely noted how strange it was that one black tile didn't have a white tile to match. And why their 20x20 tiles (really 19.8x19.8) didn't line up with their 20x40 tiles, doesn't anybody want their tiles to line up anymore? (And yes, that includes grout, they still don't line up.)

There was also the man at the restoration shop. I innocently questioned his recycled, eco friendly timber deck substitute and why it costs so much. His response was that it needed no maintenance. It was hanging on the wall with a large water stain down it, next to a perfect jarrah sample. So, I stated the obvious, oops. Apparently, he didn't mean scrubbing watermarks off as maintenance, he meant no resealing!!!! 

I must say that I have this problem all of the time. I know what I want and get frustrated when I can't find it. I want two tiles of the same size in a black and a brilliant white, and a larger wall tile in the SAME white, a no brainer really. I want a bathroom vanity that doesn't have the tap hole in it. I want wall taps that don't resemble a penis, I realise they are coming from the wall, then need to point the water downward, but please, can someone be a little creative???

I need a toilet, light switches, stringer, LED lighting hiatus. I can't think straight - information overload. The idea of having a builder who sends you to a particular shop to select from 5 tiles and lays them the way he wants is almost sounding like a beachside holiday right now. 

I can't believe I said that. My goodness, times are bad.

I really must send a huge thank you (and a fruit basket, ha ha) to my lovely bestie Ness. With her three kids in tow, she and I nailed through 25sqm of secondhand floorboards. 7 hours of hammering and pulling out nails whilst watching our seven kids play in the dirt, rusty nails and rain. Conditions were bad but she soldiered on and forced me to finish it and made it fun. You are star Ness and so are your kids. x

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