When December Comes... {Adoption and Family}

She said other adoptive mama's call it trauma-versary. 

And it all makes a little more sense. And it's probably why I haven't been able to write about it, even a little bit -- until now. 

I heard that a fostered or adopted child can suffer more from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) than a soldier on the front lines. 

So it's no wonder that December is tough. 

And we all nearly crack under the weight of it. 

And there's a tension that anticipating Christmas should be nothing but excitement, and joy, and hope --

But instead, if I'm laying it all out there, it's emotionally and physically exhausting. 

OK so maybe I do. Crack that is, wide open.

And the feelings of what are we doing wrong, and are we getting this right, and what do we say and do, and do we discipline this or that or let it go.

But it's all in fear. 

He's scared. And we're scared we're getting it wrong. 

I haven't asked him yet. If he remembers the time he left birth mom's, and his life was turned upside down. The air would have been chilled, and perhaps there was snow and Christmas lights. And when he experiences these things each year, these emotions bubble over... 

That perhaps something scary will happen, again. 

It's volcanic really. And I get it -- as much as I can -- but this slow mama only just caught on recently to all those heated emotions bubbling out of my 6-year-old. 

His teacher calls me on the last day before the Christmas break, and she's at a loss for what to do and say to this little boy who's missing the mark, and I remind her that he's a little boy with big feelings because of big life events -- and really, I'm talking me down from the edge of frustration. Because it's been a month of "what are you thinking?" and "why are you doing that?"

But truly, he has no idea. 

So it's one day at a time. Moment by moment. And I pray that --

I can help bring healing to all this. 

That I could be equipped to see into his heart, and see past all those wildly strange behaviors. Because isn't that it.

We just want to be seen. And known. And accepted. 

So the teacher, she deals compassionately with him at school, and we decide that when he comes home we'll let it go. 

And I'm doing a whole lot of that these days. He's telling me to let go, and let Him. And for this mama who tends to hang on tight, it's a process. So it's that middle child, and me, and our messy moments, and beautiful moments. And then January comes, and February and we're all breathing a bit more easy. And there's no perfect ending to all this, just a little wiser. 

And other writers like this help me process, because I'm nodding the whole way through this. 

Opening Up The Basement... {Basement Playroom Progress}

It turns out that the walls I wanted to take down in the basement happened to be load bearing. So we hired a friend to help us out. 

Here's how our basement looked prior to demo. 

It's dark and gloomy with dated flooring, fixtures, popcorn ceilings, and paint. The basement is also divided into three rooms, two of which (doorways to the left of the photo) served no purpose given there's no windows. And our storage room is adequate that we didn't need additional storage space. So the plan was to open it up and make the basement an open concept space for the kids to enjoy and a space that would grow with them. Think ping pong table or pool table.

Here's that angle again, with the far wall to the left being completely gone.

Having that far wall come down changes the space dramatically. 

See, no windows in there. The space already feels less gloomy. And cheers to no more slamming doors as the kids run between the different rooms.

So the large steel beam you can see in the photos took the place of the load bearing wall. For awhile we hesitated if we should open up the rooms because structural work can be daunting and costly, but once you see it like this it's so worth it. 

Here's the basement before from the other angle. 

Instead of completely removing that wall by the built-ins we decided to simply widen the doorway to 6 feet which required a much smaller wooden beam. 

This room will be where crafts, coloring, sewing and homework projects take place. We'll be putting in a hard floor and a pendant light over the work space. We thought a partition to the large room would be helpful in creating a work zone and containing art supplies. Plus, that wall to the left of the stairs is load bearing so we'll keep that in tact, while the wall to the right of the stairs we'll open up and put a railing and spindles. 

And again, it's a huge difference. Having access to some natural light is much nicer than a closed off room with fluorescent lighting. 

So "beam day" was a big success. The handyman and I have a bit more demo to go, you can see above there's some remaining carpet and drywall that we'll remove. Then, we will work on electrical, plumbing, and HVAC. I'm excited to bring updated lighting to the space, so it's a good thing I married an electrician. 

Let's Get Back to It... {What We've Been Up To}

We moved in late 2015. And we added a third child to our family in early 2016, a beautiful leap year baby boy. And we're in the midst of renovating our new home, while juggling three busy kiddos. 

It's a good busy. Here we are now. 

The exterior is very brown and the interior is very beige. But we liked the location and the space. It's a four bedroom, four bathroom, 2-storey home, with a large dining area for our growing extended family (we only had a kitchen eat-in at our former home). However, to say I loved it when we moved in would be an overstatement. In fact, it was just the opposite. The move was physically and emotionally taxing for me and the kids. The kids had to switch schools and I felt so guilty to cause another interruption in their lives. Keep in mind, I was also six months pregnant. That poor handyman.

The first few months felt like I was living in someone else's home, but as we make memories here and change the home's appearance it's becoming more us. Not to mention, we hit the jack pot in terms of thoughtful, helpful, fun neighbors. And the move had to happen at some point and we're glad we did it. This brown house is spacious and perfect for our growing family. 

And here's our little one, Simon, who came into the world February 29, 2016. He adores those big kids, and the feeling is very mutual. 

He's a good sleeper, a good eater, and all around happy little guy. He's been an extraordinary addition to our family. The oldest girl is his second mama. She is so capable, and she's become my reliable assistant in all things. While that middle boy can make him laugh all day long. His unstoppable energy keeps that baby entertained until bedtime. 

Our home is our hub. Our place to rest between school, work, music lessons, sports, church activities, and family outings. And as I did with our former white-siding black-shutter home, I look forward to inviting you in for a close up of the mess of home and life, and how we're working this all out.

Here's our current project, and why we have a trailer of junk in our driveway. The basement. And in our home it's the playroom. Here's how it looked when we moved in. 

The live-in portion of the basement, so excluding the storage space, is divided into three rooms. One large room that spans around 30 feet, and two smaller rooms (one on each side of the stairwell). Those smaller rooms do not have windows, and so we would never use them as a bedroom or office. We've decided to completely open it up. Not to mention, the lighting is random and gloomy, and the popcorn ceilings made the ceiling feel closer. 

We've since sold the wet bar that was situated in the middle of the large room, tore down the ceiling and most of the drywall, increased the size of the footings, and relocated water lines. Today we are calling "beam day" because we're putting in a beam to replace those load bearing walls. So today, the room really opens up. 

It feels so good to be back. 

Our Second Bathroom Reveal... {Basement Bath Reno}

We're ready to reveal to you our new bathroom. 

It's 95% done, and we're so happy with how it came together.

I should mention that we're a whole new family over here. The one bathroom tension has lifted and we're all breathing a little easier. Really, we haven't had any problems since the toilet was installed weeks ago. But I'm glad it caught up aesthetically.

The custom vanity was a great asset to the bathroom. It's made from a bamboo counter top purchased from Lowe's for just over $100. The handyman made two pieces from it plus narrow supports that hide underneath, so that the vanity looks like it's floating (the surfaces were cut just shy of fitting in case the wood expands). We sealed the surfaces with Cabot's gloss spar varnish with marine durability, so we don't need to sweat any water getting into the wood. If you look closely, you can see that we sealed the hair line space between the counter and wall with a clear bead of caulking. On top is the the Cheviot Quattro vessel sink we purchased online from Lowes.

We're digging the oil rubbed bronze faucet from Overstock. It hides everything (every smudge or speck of dirt -- a mama's dream) plus the single hole makes cleaning a breeze. Aesthetically, I love the contrast between the white sink, the faucet's bronze finish, and the bamboo counter top.

The Kichler sconces also came together well. Their 5" extension was just the right amount for a mirror to tuck in behind (and reflect the light back), and they keep the space from feeling crowded.

As far as the vanity's accessories, I'll give a full source list below, but wanted to make note of a few items. I found the storage boxes at Homesense and although they weren't initially what I was going for (I was hoping to find matching baskets) they give ample storage because they extend right to the back with the plumbing falling in between. The mirror is my favorite accessory. It's circular shape breaks up all the hard lines and the etched glass along the outside brings character into a mostly modern bathroom. And thirdly, we went with a standard towel ring from Home Depot for easy use, and it ties in with the finish on the sconces. I picked up two hand towels from Target's closing sale to pull together the bathroom colors. I alternate the towels when one is in the wash.

We're in love with the shower.

It's spacious, plus we love the generous shower head. The back of the shower curves which is a cool feature and there are little spaces for shampoo, body wash, etc. There wasn't much selection with regards to shower stall curtains, so I ended up with this white curtain with a waffle-like texture from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It does the trick. We picked up a curtain rod from Home Depot and curtain rings from Target. The rod and rings are hidden behind a little step up in the ceiling.

Next to the shower we went with two hooks, which could easily be added to in the future. But really, only the handyman or I occasionally use this shower. Although, the handyman thinks that towels are too nice and doesn't use them just yet. By the way, stepping out of the shower is amazing because of those warm heated floors. They make all the difference in a cool basement.

These are my first Turkish towels, and now that I've gone Turkish I don't know if I can go back. I love the designs, the fray along the bottom, and how little space they take up when folded. I was giddy when I found this particular design (blue, brown, white) at Homesense, since it ties in the color scheme of the bathroom. Their nice to look at, not like our other towels (but it's not worth replacing our other towels at this point). I bought three at ~$17 each -- the third is in the vanity storage.

We placed one towel hook higher so that it wouldn't interfere with the toilet paper holder. By the way, we ended up purchasing the same swivel toilet paper holder that's in our upstairs bathroom. We didn't notice until we came home, and realized that we must be married to the swivel. I can change my toilet paper in about 2 seconds with 1 hand. Although, I'm not always in favor of matchy-matchy finishes we decided to match the paper holder, towel hooks, and hand towel ring for a semi-seamless look in such a small space.

Here's the third and final corner of our bathroom (not counting the corner where the doors swings in). I went with a shelving unit above the toilet to gain a bit more storage space. But I didn't want to fill it up too much to start. I went with a small holder for Q-tips, a lotion bottle, extra soap, an artificial plant for greenery, and two small books for reading material. Other than the plant, these items came from around our home, keeping in mind the color scheme of the bathroom which are natural tones -- browns, whites, and blues.

I was always appreciate a little bit of art in every space. I picked up this art print and frame from a thrift store for just $5. The wooden frame is in great shape, as well as the glass. I love all the blues, greens and whites, especially the unique blue matting. The flock of birds birds flying above those rolling hills and church brings in some whimsy.

That wraps up our bathroom tour. But just for fun, here's a few more pictures.

It really puts the rest of our basement to shame, although if our basement had a point system (hot or not) it just went up a few points given this new asset. And what did I mean by 95% done? We need to add a stool under the vanity for little legs. I've search high and low at thrift stores but to no avail. We also need to touch up a few spots on the wall that got roughed up along the way. Lastly, I need to go over the grout one more time to truly bring out the charcoal color between the tiles and then seal it up.

But to think it was just a small storage space a few months ago. Amazing. 

By the way, we're still looking to move. Just nothing has come our way that we love yet. But when we move, I wish I could pack up this little bathroom with us. I'd even take it as my ensuite. In fact, it beats any other bathroom we've seen during our house search. It was our first project from scratch and we really enjoyed it... so perhaps I'm also sentimental.

Ok, here's that source list :

Shower stall & accessories - Emco
Toilet - Lowe's
Tile - Lowe's
Heated Flooring Accessories - Sacwal Flooring Center
Door - North Pole Trim
Knob - North Pole Trim
Floating Vanity - DIY, bamboo counter top from Lowe's
Vessel Sink - Lowe's (online)
Faucet - Overstock
Mirror - Homesense
Sconces - Amazon / Living Lighting
Pot Lights (3x) - Rona
Bulbs - Home Depot
Dimmers - Home Depot
Fan - Home Depot
Storage Boxes - Homesense
Hand Towels - Target
Soap Dispenser - Target
Towel Ring - Home Depot
Towels - Homesense
Towel Hooks - Home Depot
Towel Rod - Home Depot
Shower Liner - Home Depot
Shower Curtain - Bed, Bath, and Beyond
Shower Rings - Target
Toilet Paper Holder - Home Depot
Paint - Behr at Home Depot
Shelving Unit - Homesense
Artificial Plant - Homesense
Wooden Trash Can - Target
Art - Yardigans

And if you want to catch up on all the other bathroom posts check out here (the beginning), here, here, here, here (toilet and flooring), and here (sink, faucet, lights & door).

My "Oliday" Camera Bag... {Photography}

My new camera bag arrived yesterday.

And I really like it. I ordered the green canvas bag a few weeks ago from a company called Oliday, which I found when browsing Etsy. It's just one of the many ways I'm getting ready for my modest business launch in the spring, since I anticipate taking my camera and lenses on the road more than ever before. What was most important to me was the three interior compartments for my camera and two additional lenses, for the most flexibility in the field. It's a super soft and padded removable insert with a zippered liner for extra protection.

It's compartment heavy on the exterior as well, which is great for all those little things like memory cards, keys, iPad, etc. It has five pockets in all. This way I don't need to bring a purse or fill my pockets will small things. Given all the bags storage capacity it surprised me how small and light weight it is, so hopefully my back won't be aching half way through a shoot. Of course, I can always set it down if I'm in one spot for an extended time. It's got a great little shape to keep it upright.

And of course, I think it's quite handsome. I'm drawn to the earthy color scheme, so it's no surprise that my brand is headed in that direction too.

I'm all kinds of new to the photography field, so I'm attempting to prepare myself as best I can. My list is long. If you're a photographer (or a camera lover), I'd love to know what accessories you use from camera bag, to editing, to taking photos. What lenses do you love? What kind of camera bag do you have? I'm all ears.

By the way, I'm not partnering with Oliday, I'm just sharing a product I've stumbled upon and love.

We're Moving... {New Site, New Name, New Everything... Almost}

This spring I'll be packing my bags here at This Kind Handyman and I and moving to a new domain. This is a big step for me.

I launched TKH&I in January 2013, and it's a little embarrassing to look back at that first post, where I "timidly joined the masses of bloggers." But I have no regrets. What a gift to go back and see how far we've come. Since pressing publish in 2013, we became parents to two beautiful children through adoption and I've brought readers in on the waves of adoption, parenting, life, and living in a small fixer upper. And it's been pure joy.

I didn't know I would love it like this. The kids know mama likes to "write" and sometimes it feels scary to put myself out there.. but I'm glad to say it never completely stopped me. What comfort I've felt to write, and write, and write.

So thank you for following. It's been humbling to see my readership grow.

Along the way, I bought a Nikon 3200, nothing fancy, to help share stories from our corner of the planet. I was intrigued by my DSLR so it wasn't long before I was shooting in manual and enjoying the creative element of taking photos. Then to my surprise, a couple close to the handyman and I asked me to do an engagement shoot for them, and I almost fell off my chair. Though I was awkward, and nervous, and completely unsure of what I was doing.. I enjoyed it. I edited photos from home between taking my kids to and from school, homework, meals, and errands.. and it fit my life perfectly.

Months later, a few more photo shoots, and lots of thought, lots and lots of back and forth, I decided to just go for it.. do it.. and launch:

Hudson's Rose

...coming soon in April 2015, with the help of an amazing graphic designer. It will be my small business (portfolio + blog), and I'm complete nerves.

But what I love most is the element of being at home for my kids, flexibility, and a creative outlet that this mama really needs. So I'm starting small, very small, and looking forward to what 2015 holds. So this new site? It will have a gallery of my photography work, my photography services.. and still a blog element (home, parenting, life) because I can't be without my roots. I love that Hudson's Rose, unlike TKH&I, will have more to offer, easier to navigate, and more.. of everything. Thankfully I can still pull over all my material from the last 2+ years to my new site.

My man is not too pleased with my name change, feeling left out and I'm reminding him that he's still my kind handyman, but he's still so excited for his wife.

So maybe it's because spring would be amazing right now (ahem, -20 degree celcius weather) but I just couldn't wait to share this news with you. Building a small business with a new name, logo, stationary, whole new website, and more takes time. I'll be sure to announce here when the official move will be made. And as far as where the name, "Hudson's Rose," comes from, my middle name is Rose, and for some of my childhood resided on a little street called Hudson. So it's very personal, sentimental name for me, and it's growing on me. 

The Toilet and Floor... the really, really important stuff {Second Bath}

We were really busy last week. We had "Family Day" last Monday, a statutory holiday observed in some of Canada's provinces (and we're happy to be in one of those provinces!). On Family Day, we took in a London Knights game, our city's hockey team, and even walked away with one of the practice pucks that came over the glass. Our youngest's love of hockey grew three sizes that day...

And, we were busy with wrapping up our second bathroom, other than a few cosmetic things. So a lot has happened since I last "saw" you. We've been using our second bath as if we had it all along, and we're loving it. *Spoiler alert*.. sometimes we just want to sit on our heated floors (yes, we went with heated floors!), and admire the work of the last few months.

But let's rewind and catch you up on a few things.. with hopes to reveal the whole bathroom next week.

We made the big decision to heat our basement bathroom floor. We didn't want to put all this effort into a new bathroom and then complain about cold floors. We could see ourselves using this shower regularly, especially the handyman after a cold day of working outdoors, and so stepping out of the shower should be a cozy, warm prospect. The heated floors also increase the room temperature by a few degrees which is nice. Plus, we thought it would be a great selling feature for future buyers (because that's always on our mind these days).

My handyman-dad installed our heated floors (we went with electrical heating, rather than hot water), and as you can see he used this orange underlay, which is called "ditra xl." It's texture allows you to weave the cables through the underlay. This isn't a thorough explanation of the process, but if there's a request for it, or any questions, I could have this handy-dad give us more details. We choose to heat the small area just outside the shower stall and in front of the vanity because this is the traffic zone, and it saved a few bucks. I can stand comfortably in bare feet and a towel (TMI?) and do my routine, and I love that.

The handyman placed the thermostat above the light switches, out of reach of little hands, and mostly out of sight. I like that it's white and blends in. I should have flipped it open for you to see, but the key pad is very simple and easy to navigate. What's extra nice about the thermostat is that it gives us the time. 

When it came to tile, we went with the same tile in our main floor bath because a. we had some leftover tile, b. the additional boxes we needed were on sale at Lowe's, and c. we just really like the look of it. It's a Nott gray procelain tile by Style Selections and the tile measures 6 x 24. We went with the charcoal grout, which unfortunately turned white on us again. So we're beginning to think it's the brand or type of grout. So far, I've done two grout cleanings with the Sulfamic Acid Cleaner, like we did here when our grout turned white, and it's slowly returning to it's original color. On one hand it was nice that we had this problem before and knew of a solution right away.

Important Note: We didn't turn on the heat until one week after the flooring was done to let it set completely.

For those who are curious about doing a small heated flooring project themselves, it cost us just shy of $500 (we're so grateful that labor was free, thanks dad!). It felt like a big cost in the moment, but it really paid off. Here's the cost breakdown for us (items were purchased from Sacwal Flooring Centre):

- Heating System $185
- Thermostat $147
- Ditra XL $74.25
- Mortar $19.95

+ tax ($55.41) = 481.61

On to potty talk...

We coined the day the toilet was installed as "Toilet Tuesday" and we weren't disappointed. The next morning, sure enough, there was a line up for the toilet and I reminded a little one of our second toilet.. and the clouds lifted (no more bowels in distress!). I completely identify with Dana at House*Tweaking who says it felt like she won the lottery when their second bathroom was done (and they have 3 kids!). We decided to go with a Kohler toilet in white with 1.28 GPF (gallons per flush), and we purchased it from Lowe's.

It's not an elongated bowl or dual flush, which we've grown to like in our main floor bathroom. But since it's a round toilet bowl it saves us a few inches of space between the shower stall and edge of the toilet (it gives us approx. 20" of space). We like that it's space-saving toilet, and that the toilet seat and lid are prevented from slamming.

Having the toilet installed was a huge wave of relief. THIS is why we embarked on this renovation several months ago! We feel like a whole new family over here. 

The Bathroom Accent Wall... {Second Bath}

The painting of our basement bath is complete, other than touch ups and painting the trim. Here's a reminder of the colors we went with (you can read more about it here):

The "Fresh Popcorn" by Behr went on well. It took two coats on the walls and ceiling, in addition to the Kilz primer, and I'm happy to say it's a white I finally like. I've had many hit and misses with white, which is funny because it's "white" and I can't believe how many variations there are. 

But the color I was most excited about was this baby, Behr's "Starless Night." 

I decided to do a strip of it on the vanity wall, and the little raised ceiling above the vanity. 

I actually lied down on the floor for that second shot. I'm committed... plus, it was a great ab work out. I taped the perimeter with "Scotch Blue Painter's Tape" for multi-surfaces, and I give this tape two thumbs up. We picked it up from Home Depot awhile ago, so it was in my paint bucket. Taping took the longest. I used scissors to cut the tape into straight edges for the corners, and ran my finger along the tape several times to make sure there weren't any bubbles in the adhesion. 

Then came the best part. 

I cut in and rolled, using a small stool to reach the ceiling, and a cloth for any dark blue splatters on my freshly painted white walls. After two coats, over two days, I pulled off the tape and here's how it turned out. 

The color is beautiful. I love the contrast against the white, and how the light bounces off the color, it's dramatic. Plus, the lines are nearly flawless. In the end, I was happy I went with painting the small ceiling as well. It carries your eyes up, and makes the small space feel a bit bigger than it is. Of course, a lot of that paint will get covered up with a vanity and mirror, but I think it will make a great back drop. 

I thought it would be fun to pull together the progression of the vanity space thus far. 

I guess that much hasn't changed.. since the original color of the vanity wall was blue (behind the studs)? Although, I'll go with the new blue any day!


Thank You Pinterest for Saving Valentines... {Kiddie Valentines}

Because, if I'm being honest, I'm not so creative when it comes to things like this

I told myself last year that I would be more organized this time, with my oldest now in grade 1 and the youngest in junior kindergarten. Which means we would be required to make double the amount of valentines this year. Last year, my daughter made each of her valentines by hand - bless her heart - and she did a great job, but it took many evenings.. right up until her valentines party at school. So I wanted to do something more efficient but still fun for the kids. And get this, we started and finished the oldest's valentines on a snow day we had last Monday (two weeks prior to when they were due!). 

Here's the ideas we went with that I found via Pinterest (and I'll give you all the sources too).

1. The "Whooo's Crazy About You?" valentine is for my youngest's kindergarten class. It totally fits his personality too because he's a crazy, fun, wild kid. Plus, he loves curly straws aka crazy straws. I grabbed the straws at Walmart ($2 for a pack of 6), and found the free printable at Happiness is Homemade. It prints 4 cards to a page, so I used 7 sheets of white card stock (from Target). We have a laser printer so we can easily print this kind of thing at home. So my youngest will practice writing his name 26 times on the back of those little owl cards (we've got 3 days!). 

2. The "Bee" valentines are great for the teachers. Who wouldn't want a new lip chap in the dead of winter? I found the idea at Jolly Mom, and went with the 3.5 x 5 size so that I could fit 4 to a page, which is all we needed (2 teachers per class). I picked up the Burt's Bees lip chaps at Target (a 3-pack plus 1 more). Then using double sided tape, I taped them to the card. Although, I think I'll get little clear bags to slip them into in case they get bumped around. I like that there's a little spot on the card for the kids to sign their names. 

3. We finished my oldest daughter's valentines, "You Make my Heart Glow," in about 1 hour. We grabbed a pack of 40 glow sticks from Walmart for $5, and printed the little cards on card stock. It printed 6 to a page which was nice. I found this idea at Delia Creates, and she's right, this can be whipped up last minute. My daughter helped cut out the cards, whole punched them herself, then wrote "To : ____" and "From : _____" on the back, and carefully picked out a glow stick for each student. It was nice that she could do most of this independently. 

How cute is she? I hope she'll be my valentine... But whew! I think we're going to make it! We just need to finish up my youngest's valentines, and we'll be good to go for Friday. Thank you to all those creative bloggers for helping this mama out. 

Here's a "what you might need" round up:

- Printer
- Card stock
- Hole punch
- Scissors (in our case, we have a cutter)
- Double sided tape
- Markers / pencil crayons

And depending on what you're using.. in our case:

- Glow Sticks
- Burt's Bee lip chaps
- Curly straws

So I'm already thinking of next year, or  end-of-the-year gifts.. because it sneaks up so fast. What ideas have you thought of, or pinned (if you're like me)? 

Our Basement Bathroom Paint Colors... {Bath Addition}

So I darned my paint clothes, and yes, I even have paint socks.

Because it's time to paint that glorious bathroom bath, which means the end of this bathroom addition is in sight, hooray!

Here's the plan: we're using Kilz Clean Start as our primer. It provides easy water clean up, stainblocking, and a mildew resistant finish (all those nice words you like to hear when you're priming a bathroom). This Kilz primer was really great because it has very little odor, no VOCs, and it dried in a 1/2 hour. We put two coats up yesterday, and the bathroom walls and ceiling are well covered.

I should insert here that although those "afters" looks pretty great, the "befores" are just as good. They are evidence of a well done taping and mudding job by my handyman dad. I'm surrounded by amazing handymen, and it's heaven. He completed this step over the weekend, and we are deeply grateful. As you can see there are many corners and edges in this small space, see where the ceiling raises up above the shower and vanity? So it was ideal that we had an expert come in and help us out.

For our paint colors (which I hope to get to today!), I decided to go with with Behr's Fresh Popcorn (left) on the walls and ceiling. This white will keep things light and bright. But I still wanted to go with some drama and interest, so I picked up a quart of Behr's Starless Night (right) and plan to use it on the sliver of wall where the vanity and mirror will go.

I'm excited to do the accent wall. Although, I've been humming and hawing over whether I should paint the little raised ceiling above the vanity with this dark color as well. Thoughts? 

I'm hoping to have all the painting done by Saturday because Saturday is tile day. That wonderful handyman-dad is coming back to tile the bathroom floor (another hooray!), with the same porcelain tile and charcoal grout we went with in the upstairs bath since we had leftover tile. And if all goes to plan, this family of four is in great anticipation for "Toilet Tuesday," it's even on the large family calendar.

Oh, and this weekend, I'm off to a more-than-needed girls weekend away in Collingwood. Here I come hot tubs, wine, girly talk....

Children's Books We're Digging... {Kiddie Stuff}

It's been awhile since I bought new children's books.

Of course, library and reading books are always circulating through our home, but I hadn't bought anything new in many months that was just ours to stay. So when a brilliant friend sent me an email about this book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, I went for it. I love that this friend always recommends books that stretch our little ones minds to wonderful possibilities.

Then, while shopping on Amazon, curiosity got the best of me, and I found another book by that creative author, Andrea Beaty, called Iggy Peck, Architect. And it's been the cause of big laughs and raised eyebrows, especially when at two, Iggy builds a tower with dirty diapers and glue. The kids just can't believe it.

The writing is fun, and the illustrations are captivating, and we love that Rosie and Iggy are in the same class at school. We wonder if their friends? But anyhow, Rosie and Iggy inspire us to build, and create, and not to quit on our dreams.

And because this mama can't contain herself when it comes to great books, I splurged for this one too, What Do You Do With An Idea? 

I love how this little boy feeds his idea, defends his idea, and grows his idea.. and we're all left wondering, what's his idea? And it gives us room to dream, too.  Because I want nothing to limit these adopted little ones. We desire for them to dream big, to nurture those dreams, to trust God with those dreams, and to let nothing hold them back.

Aren't they the cutest pair? And we're proud that the oldest one is reading wonderfully, and the youngest is right on her heels (you can tell who their mama is.. one who gets excited about books and writing, and anything that stretches the mind past it's limits.. and I love that they love it too). And in case you're wondering, these three books have our little ones stamp of approval and I'm sure they'll be memorized in no time flat. Plus, they'll further inspire our fort-building, lego-loving, art-enthusiast kiddies.

In no way have I been compensated for sharing these finds with you... we just love to share what is boosting the learning and stretching in our home. And for the home decorators, isn't this what we create a cozy, charming home for? For lazy days with books on laps, big dreams, and socks half on, and we're all completely comfortable and loved for who we are in this place. 

And just one more thing, do you have a children's book or two that you're currently loving? I'd love to hear it. 

Drywall in the Basement Bathroom... {Second Bath Reno}

We've got drywall up, and so this little space is really taking shape.

It's exciting to have the plumbing and electrical prep work finished and while it's all very tidy behind those walls, it's nice to cover it up (to state the obvious). However, before the drywall went up, we decided to go with soundproofing insulation in the walls and ceiling (Roxul Safe'n'Sound from Home Depot). We put it everywhere except for around the shower. This was an important feature for my new mom cave.. you know, when I need a soundproof break. Actually, that's a secondary reason, the first is to provide family and guests with absolutely privacy. In a small home sometimes it can feel like we're right on top of each other, so adequate soundproofing was important to block each other out a bit... said in the nicest way, of course. Here's a dark drywall tour, since there's no light source at the moment:

The vanity will be to the right of the shower, where the single dangling bulb is. And the last photo (bottom right) is where the toilet will go. The toilet being the whole reason for this bathroom renovation. 

Here's the view from the laundry / storage side. The wall protrudes into this area slightly, but there's still adequate space. Much to the handyman's surprise, I did request soundproofing and drywall on this side too (after the bathroom is complete) to keep the laundry noises at bay, and to provide a more clean looking laundry space. I'd like a wall to have a drying rack, hang an ironing board, maybe put up art, etc. Who knows, this may inspire a whole new, nicer laundry area... a girl can dream.

Outside the bathroom was also dry walled. It will be nice to have some "normal walls" in the basement given that our basement walls have mostly haphazard bead boarding and popcorn texture, it's just not pretty.

My handy-guy left a spot for a light to the left of the door. I'm thinking of going with something like this (from Living Lighting) or this (from Lowes), keeping in mind that it's near the playroom so it will need to have some sturdiness to it.

And I'm delighted to have access again to my central vacuum plug in. Luke (the handyman) moved it from where the bathroom door is now, to the adjacent wall. It's a perfect place for it because I won't have to hassle with any furniture to access it.

Here's an updated before and after, because we really like to see our progress around here. Before:

And, now:

Yes, that pole is very annoying, we just have to deal with it. But otherwise, progress is so wonderful. The mudding and taping is happening this weekend, and we plan to paint early next week (!).

For other bathroom posts check out here (pictures from way, way before), here (the shower), and here (our plans for the sink, faucet, and lighting). 

Quick Art for $0... {Bringing Life into Your Home}

I spend a lot of time here... and I'm keeping it real this morning:

Making breakfast, lunches for school, dinner for four, late night snacks for weary parents, entertaining family and friends, and all the clean up in between. I realize this kitchen won't make it to Pinterest (those counter tops are "yikes"). It has hardly changed since we moved in nearly five years ago. However, a kitchen renovation just isn't on the "list" right now, but hey, it serves us well. So, I decided to do something quick and easy to brighten up this heavily used space without enlisting the help of a busy handy-guy.

I've always wanted to put up Bible verses in our home. Surround ourselves with scripture, before anything else. A quick search online ("free scripture printables") brought up many options of beautifully designed scripture versus. I decided to print this (from Beautifully Rooted) and this (from The Girl Creative) for the kitchen because they're great reminders in moments of stress, like getting ready for school, preparing dinner.. you know that 4-6pm stretch can be tough.. to be kind, loving, patient, and self controlled with my children. And I love that as my kids learn to read, they'll have these daily reminders too.

We have a laser printer, so they were easy to print at home, and I found they printed best on regular paper for my intended use.

My tools were simply :

- 2 clip boards
- 2 copper nails
- Hammer
- Pencil
- Measuring tape
- Sticky tack

It's all quite self-explanatory. I held the clipboard up to the wall to see where I wanted it to go (on either side of the sink where there is a sliver of blank wall), marked it with a pencil, measured that it was centered, and hammered in a nail. Although, I didn't anticipate that the clipboard wouldn't sit flush to the wall, so I used a small ball of sticky tack to stick the bottom of the clipboard to the wall. I measured the placement of my first nail, and used those measurements for my next nail.

It's a perfect use of space for us, and I even tidied up for you.

We've been living with it for a few weeks now, and I'm still loving it. Just this morning, in a moment of frustration while I prepared a little one's lunch, I took a deep breath and reminded myself.. the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, patience, gentleness... and I was able to breathe again. I may frame these prints down the road, but for now, this little project was entirely free (yes!), and entirely life-giving. 

So, while I was building this post and linking to the sources, I couldn't resist but to print these other designs I spotted at Beautifully Rooted, this ("hope") and this ("pray more, worry less"). And I added the "hope" design on our gallery wall in the living room. A little daily inspiration with no cost.

So a big thanks to all the artists who created these designs, and let us print them for free. I'm so grateful, as I do the dishes and wipe the counter tops this morning, and thinking 'what's for dinner?'

Okay, now be honest. What are you thoughts towards that crazy kitchen backsplash? I won't be offended. 

Friday's Four Links... {because we like the good stuff}

When you need a breather, because I don't know about you, but sometimes a week is wonderfully, nearly over...

1. So I've only see the trailer, but we're looking forward to watching this Saturday night (without the kids, because their too young for such mature themes). "The Good Lie" is about "the lost boys," who were orphaned by the Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983. These young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety.. I just can't even being to imagine. Then, fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to the US. Sudan, and the Lost Boys, are close to our hearts because it is a profound, deep part of our children's heritage :

2. Yes, these excuses, I can completely identify with. They keep you from moving forward, from taking a risk, pursuing a dream. And I'm stepping out into something risky, and I've got to toss these excuses to the curb... you?

3. My girl and I are listening to this song these days, "Try," by Colbie Caillat. I think we have it memorized, because we're loving the message... your beautiful just the way you are. And my heart melts, when I hear that 6-year-old girl pray and thank God that she is beautiful, not for her painted nails, or dresses, but just the way she is :

4. So my indoor plants have seen better days. We're all missing the sun around here, because we're in the heart of winter in Ontario, Canada, but I've also been slightly neglectful (overwatering or underwatering). These reminders from A Beautiful Mess, a blog I've just discovered and enjoying, are giving me inspiration to revive my sad looking plants with some TLC.

Happy nearly-the-weekend, friends!

Coffee Table Makeover... Because I'm Not Waiting on 'Someday' {Just 3 Steps}

We picked up this coffee table awhile ago at Yardigans (a second hand store here in London) for just $10.

I introduced it on the blog here, and confessed that I had no idea what to do with it, other than remove the ugly wood tape and give it a good wipe down. So it's migrated around the house, between the basement and living room, but always ducked under my makeover radar.

Until I read the The Nesting Place, which I wrote about here, and realized that I was waiting on 'someday.' 'Someday' when I have the time and resources to do it right.. and guess what, that day rarely shows up for this girl, you?.. so I need to just do 'something' rather than wait on 'someday.' So I took another look at that coffee table we picked up in the summer, and decided to try something out.

First, I used what I had - leftover chalkboard paint - on the two surface pieces. I did two coats in one evening (chalkboard paint covers very well), and then let them sit for a week (as instructed) before I prepped the surface with chalk.

We have play chalk on hand for the kids, so I just used a piece of white chalk from their collection. I rubbed the side of the chalk across the surface, then used a damp rag to wipe it off. I did this step twice. It was super quick.

I decided to go with a little blurb on the top piece, give thanks, which I wrote with a white chalkboard marker. On the bottom, I just went with a simple triangular design.

Next, before the handyman left on one of his many trips to the Home Depot, I asked if he could add these items to his list :

The Goo-Gone was pretty amazing. I sprayed it along the frame and then a few minutes later I wiped it down with a cloth. The frame cleaned up really well.

Lastly, I guess you could stop here if you wanted, but I decided to paint the frame with Rust-oleum's Universal Pure Gold spray paint. It only took 1 can, 2 coats. This was my first time using a metallic spray paint.. so it was really a shot in the dark.. but I like the look of it and I'm feeling gold fever (I want to spray paint everything gold).

After letting the frame dry for about 24 hours, I put it all together and set it up in our basement TV area. But first, a reminder of how the coffee table looked before this mini makeover.

And now :

I love that it's no longer giving me an evil eye.. the "do something" eye. And you know what, it was a super cheap fix. 

Coffee Table (second hand): $10
Rust-oleum's Universal Pure Gold spray paint: $10 + tax
Goo Gone Spray Gel: $5 + tax
Chalkboard paint: $0 (leftover paint)
Chalk and chalk board marker: $0 (around the house)

= ~ $28

And if you're wondering, we're using coasters as much as we can, but a simple spill (drink or food) is easy to wipe up. Do you have a little project that's just getting away from you? Who doesn't! What is it? 

A Bathroom Update... {a door, faucet, sink, and lights}

I've decided that although a bathroom is the smallest room in our home, it is the most high maintenance. The expense is high for such small square footage, and the labor is tedious. Thank goodness I married a talented handyman (with a super talented handyman dad, who is a plumber by trade).

So I'm always delighted to share progress on this big undertaking in our home. One of the latest updates on our basement bath is this: we have a door, everyone! But first, a before-the-door look.

And now, with a door :

Don't mind the haphazard wall to the left of the door. We had little nephews over, and had to put up something to stop them from going into the storage / workshop area. But other than that, isn't it great?

We purchased the door, a basic six panel to match the other doors in our home (all two of them), and the door knob, hinges, frame, and door jam from North Pole Trim & Supplies. The cost of the door and accessories were $120, which we thought was reasonable (plus, delivery was free). The door needed to be cut down to accommodate the low ceiling due to the duct work, which was done for us by North Pole. I wondered if the door may look noticeably shortened, but we were happy to see that it doesn't. We opted for black hinges and door knob. The knob is a Hancock 514 in iron black. I like the contrast of the black door knob against the white door, and the traditional knob fits our home's aesthetic.

Installing a door is very exciting because it makes this a room now. It makes the basement seem more spacious too, given the extra room (literally, an extra room). The kids love to demonstrate how the door opens, as if it's their first door experience. They are quite excited for the new bathroom, I think they see it as their own personal playroom bath. By the way... it swings inward.

But if we keep it shut, you're under the illusion that the bathroom is nearly complete, so let's keep it that way for now.

We've also gone ahead and ordered our sink, faucet and drain, and lights, and we're crossing our fingers that it all comes together well.

We went with a vessel sink considering the vanity space is quite narrow, just 29". Instead of hunting for a vanity that would be the perfect width, we're planning to do a custom counter top. And the vessel sink will sit right on top.

We went with the Cheviot Quattro vessel sink in white from Lowes.ca. It was actually an affordable way to go, and we like the character it will bring to our small bath. But we didn't go with the faucet shown, instead with went with a contrasting oil-rubbed bronze bathroom faucet from overstock.com.

Originally, I was planning on a wall mounted faucet like this one, but in case of any faucet leak the drywall would need to be removed to fix it (what a mess). And with moving somewhere in the future, it's safer to go the more traditional route. But we're still really liking the faucet we decided to go with. I think the faucet and sink will be good friends make a great pair.

The lights were tough. We hummed and hawed over whether we should 1. put a light above the mirror, or 2. have two sconces on either side of the mirror (like this), or 3. have two sconces on the walls to the left and right (like this). We liked the idea of a sconce on either side of the mirror, but felt it may looked squished and we'd need to find a very narrow mirror, given the vanity width is only 29". We're always dealing with small spaces, so this kind of dilemma is not new to us. We ended up going with option 3 (which would give us more flexibility down the road with the width of the mirror), and these are the lights we purchased through amazon.ca.

These Kichler lights are brushed nickel with a satin-etched opal glass. Since the lights will be mounted on the side walls surrounding the vanity, it was important that they have a nice profile. So we like the lines and the traditional but modern-esque vibe. It's actually most flattering to put the lights to the sides of the mirror, rather than above, so I'm glad we went this route. And in case you're wondering, the lights will protrude 5" from the wall, so we're not concerned with bumping our head on them, or having them hinder the view of our beautiful selves in the mirror.

So that's where we're at. Whew! Did you stick with me there? Do you see what I'm saying about 'high maintenance'? I'm excited to have all our online orders arrive at our door over the next few days and in some cases, weeks. But now that our choices have been made, the roughing in for these items can be done in the meantime. We were surprised by how much we ordered online.. this is our first time doing that. But we found the prices and options were much better online. How do find ordering online vs. buying in store?

Four Link Friday... {what I'm watching / reading}

It's a PD Day today in these parts, so we're having a slow, breathing in deep kind of morning. And for when you have a moment to breathe...

1. We pulled the kids in close on the couch to watch this amazing teenager's response to being a "nobody" at a high school just down the road from us. Our kids walked away with a great lesson in how far kindness can go :

2. If you need a lighter approach today to this wild thing we call parenting, Jim Gaffigan delivers. Oh yes.. Luke and I keep coming back to this when we need a deep belly laugh :

3. And not for little ears or eyes, because of it's mature theme.. but I'm torn by this, and a reminder to educate my children on this topic when it's appropriate. Praying that we will never fuel such an industry :

4. Lisa Jo Baker's new years resolutions that are really worth making. This is worth reading. I love number 2 :

"I will worry more about the weight of my impact on the world than the weight of my body on the scale." - Lisa Jo Baker

Happy nearly-the-weekend, friends.