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

Images Pinterest

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Before you scroll down, please note that this post is rated MA 15+.

This week we adopted Charlie, our elf on the shelf. For those of you who aren't up with the Christmas jibe, visit here to learn more.

He seems to have settled in very well. The girls love searching for him each morning and seeing what mischief he has been up to overnight. Day one saw him eating their Halloween treats, day two he was found parking with Barbie and day three, he was clutching an eyeliner pencil and had drawn freckles on Josephine's face! Of course, I didn't get to take a photo as she was mortified and quickly scrubbed her face clean, embarrassed by sisters laughing at her.

Dean and I are having competitions to outdo each other. The freckles, I believe was pure genius (of course, that was mine)! Scroll down to see Dean's attempt to out do me.

I take no responsibility for the image below. Dean's immaturity can be blamed on his parenting. I must admit, that while sitting down having my coffee and watching TV, seeing this out of the corner of my eye, did induce a snort.

Charlie and Barbie playing leaf frog.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


I feel my addiction to home magazines may require an intervention!

Overwhelmed by a rare moment with only one child, I found myself standing in front of a dizzying display of magazines. Seduced by the stylised callout, "clever ideas for indoor & outdoor kitchens for people who love to entertain", I walked my new magazine to the register, eagerly envisioning a bit of coffee and homeware heroin later that night. 

Three hours later, with four comatose kiddies, I open the glossy pages and feelings of familiarity flooded me - this is the same magazine that only last week I opened to find I had purchased the week before!

Three copies of the same magazine. Copies one and two sneakily stacked amongst a pile of similar magazines, version three still gracing the bench acting as a diversion for Dean.

I can only conclude that a subscription is in order and let's be honest, I am going to buy them anyway. So my prepared defence for Dean is, I used one copy for my reno scrapbook and another complete copy for coffee breaks, as for the third... decoration? 

Hi my name is Joanne and I have a magazine addiction, and this week sees the beginning of the Christmas editions - heaven help me!

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