August 30, 2011

It's that time of year again...

Our "Cupcake Neighbor" (she bakes professionally!) and her husband who invited us to go with them today. Their 3 yr old son was asleep in the car and our 3 yr old son was refusing to take pictures.
The feasting month after the fasting month has begun!
And like so many things we've discovered in this seemingly very different culture, the fondness for buying matching outfits on a big holiday (think Christmas and Easter) transcends international, religious, cultural and ethnic boundaries. All siblings matching (and parents included) is cute world-wide!

Kaylee looking lovely in her Raya best. Me looking like the Pacific Ocean with that much blue fabric. This was the outfit I had made from the Indian Sari material I found a few months ago! It turned out great, but still...there's no minimizing the belly these days...
How cute is this picture?
So once we're all dressed up, what do you do all day? 

Go from house to house and eat, of course.

August 24, 2011

The Yard... "After" photos!

It seems we're on a roll here. A sod roll that is.
The past week and a half have been dedicated to getting the yard done. The biggest holiday of the year is coming up and Isaiah's 2nd birthday is too.  This is definitely the biggest "room" at our house and with 2 little boys running around, one of the most important! Knowing that they'll be able to run around and expend all that energy safely while I can be inside with baby sister in the coming weeks WITHOUT having to go to the park or load up the stroller is a wonderful thought.

But lemme tell ya, this piece of ground was a BEAST.  This post is coming to you after many days and hours of blood, sweat, tears, cramps, blisters, sunburns and probably more than a couple cuss words mumbled under our breath. Just being real folks.  We even had a 14-year-old choose Geometry Homework on a Saturday over working another minute in the yard (he lasted about an hour).

A couple days ago as we were sweating out the remaining minutes of sunlight chipping away at the hard clay, pulling the roots of the razor-grass up by hand, Kaylee stated (with a scary amount of believability in her voice), "If anyone ever says anything negative about this yard, I'll make sure they regret it."

So you all just mull that over in your head as you look at these before and after pictures and think of exactly how to phrase your comments at the end.
BEFORE-ish: Before the yard work, we cleaned the wall. Can you see the difference between the section of wall on the left and the one on the right? Kaylee, Caleb (14-yr-old referenced earlier, who, it should be noted finished this job, in the rain!) and I bleached and scrubbed the wall clean. Inside and out. Looks great!
BEFORE: Razor grass. Lots and lots of razor grass. Can't walk through the yard at all because it hurts, razor grass.

DURING: So we started the task of pulling up the razor grass. Then we realized it's all connected underground by a very hearty root system that must be removed before sod can be put down. For all you experts, no Round-up was not an option as you have to have a commercial business and a permit to put it out me, digging by hand was not the first option.
DURING: So then came the task of digging up the rock hard clay and digging-up as many roots by hand as possible.  The nursery where we bought our grass could have done this for us but we just didn't have the $500 extra it'd take.
DURING: I like this picture. Not because of the poor lighting nor the side sweat on my belly, but because it helps capture just how HOT it was to do all this work. I labored for 36 hours with Isaac and didn't come out with a sunburn or blisters...this lasted longer, days and days longer and there were unfortunately no epidurals involved and in the end I was still pregnant.
DURING: This brightened our spirits a bit. Like green and clay Swiss Cake Rolls, the sod arrived last Saturday. Which started the countdown. It all had to be put down within 3 days or the sod would die.
DURING: Doesn't it look so nice going down? This was Saturday. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday all passed between this photo and the next...
DURING: Tuesday Night. 11pm. Finally done. This is how I found Kaylee when I came around the corner to go in the house.
DURING: I really kept waiting for her to announce "I did NOT sign up for THIS!!" every hour of the long process or simply come out of her room with her bags packed, or just be gone one morning with a note left behind. But she stayed til the bittersweet end.  She got a cramp in her entire right hand last night as she slept.  What a treasure she is!
AFTER: This morning the boys did this in the yard. Oh sweetness. This photo is what I had to conjure up in my brain during those hours of work. Knowing this would be the scene.

So. There it is. Who wants to come over for a BBQ?
 (...and for pictures of Isaac helping to plant those snazzy yellow flowers go see the boys' blog...)

August 15, 2011

The Atrium..."after" photos

There is another "room" in our house that is finished. The "Atrium" as we've come to call it. An indoor-yet-outdoor space that has come in super handy while our yard is still not finished.  We keep the large sliding glass doors open all day long most days (there is a fan that blows not only in the atrium, but onto our dining area too!) and the boys have found the spot a never-ending source of entertainment. "The Rocks" is what they call it. "Come play in the rocks wif me!" is something you'll hear Isaac say most every day.

While this space took much more physical effort (thanks Daddy and Mama!) it won't require 2 posts. Here are some before, during, and most importantly some after pictures.

BEFORE: concrete chunks, cigarette butts, and anything else small and discard-able that the construction crews didn't need. What this picture DOESN'T convey is the cat pee smell as the space was also used while the house was vacant by neighborhood cats as a litter box. Couldn't let my boys out there for a second without them getting filthy dirty or (Isaiah) eating a cigarette butt or two.
DURING: It took a couple DAYS but we hauled all the rocks and debris out and tried to level the ground a bit in the middle.
DURING: If you look in the picture before this one, you'll see the quality paint job done, particularly around the bottom few inches of the space. We decided a dark green would keep with the "Atrium" feel so filled in the unpainted part.
DURING: Then after much debate and a couple-day search for Quik-crete (which in the land of concrete here does NOT exist, at least not the kind we needed) we decided to lay down some plastic sheeting (double and in some lumpier spots, triple and quadruple-layered) to keep the dust at bay and to put nice smooth rocks down. The "rock store" didn't have enough in any one color, so we bought all of them.
DURING: Us taping and cutting the plastic sheeting down.  When it came time, all four adults (us two and my parents) had way too much fun ripping the bags of rocks open and dumping the various colors and filling in the space with them at like 11pm. It was the last step in a long process and we had fun with it!
AFTER: Nice huh?
AFTER: So neat. So cat pee free.
AFTER: My son standing in the rocks and smiling. Because they're a lot of fun.
AFTER: Kaylee gets her rock time everyday too. We've also noticed that she needs some help on her basic math skills, but we're glad the rocks in the atrium are there and that the space is DONE!

August 08, 2011

The Making of... the boys' room

I realize a post like this shows my obsession with fondness for decorating. So my apologies to any male readers who don't care.  Though you should, seeing as how at least the first project was completed much faster due to the mad skills of my husband. There are also shots of my boys in this post that are really just more for displaying their cuteness than helping anyone with a craft project.

on to the projects...
Project 1: The "cornice boards" or valances.
Materials: Super thin plywood (really unfinished wood laminate), corner brackets, screws, a saw, scissors, foam, tape, staple gun, fabric, a hammer drill, wall anchors, and a few more screws.
Total project time: 5 hours-ish. Though it took days for me because I had to wait to put up the blinds before installing the valances. 
Final product on the window. White-colored blackout roller blinds included
Step 1- Locate plywood. Hardware stores here in our part of Asia have them. We managed to get a huge piece. If you're doing this project in the US then any material stiff enough to hold it's shape, yet light enough to have a long piece that won't require all kinds of installation difficulties because of the final weight will work.  Here all I could find was thin plywood and it worked great.
My hubby coming back from the hardware store with the plywood. He supports my love of decorating:)
 Step 2- Measure how large you want your valances. The big window in the boys' room is 6 feet wide so I went a couple inches on either side to compensate for blinds/curtains/etc that would be installed under the valances. So to make a "box" shaped valance, I measured one piece about 6.5 feet in length/width, and two small ones about 3.5-4inches wide, as the part that comes out from the wall.  The "height" of my valance depended on the foam I found. Doesn't matter how thick/tall/high they are as long as you like them. I think my foam was like 14 inches, so the height of each of the 3 (6 total for both windows) pieces was about 13 inches. Cut the boards.
We have drainage ditches around our house that worked great for him to use to saw the boards. And we measured and cut them so there was a lot of plywood left.  Think we may see a repeat of this project in other rooms!
 Step 3- Attach the boards together at right angles to make the box. We used 8 brackets (correct term? I dunno, a 90 degree hinge thing, but that doesn't move). 4 to make the actual box shape of the valance frame and 4 more for attaching it to the wall.  In the end we discovered that we really only needed 2 brackets to attach it to the wall bc it was light enough. But I would recommend attaching all the hardware/brackets before adding any foam or fabric.
Corner brackets on the outside, wall-attaching brackets on the inside. A man who can attach brackets AND has nice legs? Got a great man for sure! Note: at this stage we were like, "Wow. This seems kinda flimsy" but in the end everything held up nicely and was lightweight.
Step 4- Attach the foam. No JoAnn fabric stores here. I used what I found at a hardware store and just taped the foam (wasn't very strong tape) to the valance frame to hold it in place until I got the fabric secured around it. To make the fabric end up looking nice and plump, I made sure to let the foam go up over the edges of the board. Maybe about a half-inch or so. So foam was 14 inches, board behind it, 13 inches.
So you can see the tape in place. Please don't be confused by Isaac's opinion of how the foam scraps should be used. :)

Step 5- Secure the fabric to your foamed valance frame. I used a staple gun, but with a board this thin I could have probably gotten away with hot glue and a regular desk stapler. (Note: the fabric I used was plaid. So getting the lines straight was important. I started in the middle and worked my way to either side constantly pulling, checking, and smoothing the fabric around the foam. The corners I just kind of tried to make look neat. I'm sure a professional upholsterer would be appalled at my finished product, but I had very few wrinkles in the corners and the plaid ended up straight, so that was good enough for me!

Step 6- IMPORTANT!!! Install ANY blinds, shades, curtains, curtain rods, etc that will go under the valance BEFORE the valance. The valance goes last. My "design plan" included wooden blinds to give the room a warm masculine feel. But alas IKEA didn't carry them long enough for our windows and "custom" blinds are as expensive as you'd expect. So we went with white-colored blackout shades. The fingerprints from the boys touching them will probably eventually drive me mad, but they keep it dark in the room and dark = sleep.  Here is where I give a shout out to Mr. Sivad for coming and assisting Anthony with measuring, marking the drill holes, holding up of valances so I could tell them when it was centered and straight, etc. This picture doesn't do his help justice, but it made me laugh, so I'm posting it anyway. 
Step 7- Attach valances to the walls. Here in Asia EVERYTHING is built from concrete. So a hammerdrill, wall anchors, and screws are always necessary. However you attach your valance is up to you and whatever works best on your walls. They never get pulled on or touched so I'd recommend the path of least difficulty. If they stay put, that's all you need:)

Project 2: The Boys' Name Frames
Materials: Poster paint, a thicker-than-computer-paper art paper, scissors, tape, and frames. Having 2 sweet boys to do the painting helps too, but isn't absolutely necessary. You could also use a sweet little girl or two.
Total Project Time: 1 hour (hands-on) but add time for the drying of the poster paint:)

This is really straightforward. I had 2 matching frames and got the boys to paint several pictures on poster/craft paper with poster paint, then I painted their names on poster/craft paper and tried very neatly to cut out their names so that they were even. I didn't measure or anything though, just eyeballed it. Then taped their name cut-outs to their artwork and put them in the frame (had to trim some of the paper to make it fit). Because I couldn't do wood blinds, I decided to keep them the dark brown wood color instead of painting them some fun color...but a fun color would be, well, fun, if it worked in a room for you!  Easy peasy. The fun part was the painting and the pictures of my adorable boys. :)
Sometimes they're just extra cute!
I had them paint more than one so I could have a choice. They didn't mind! The ones I chose they painted with paint brushes...
...though they made a couple with their fingers too. My Righty and my Lefty getting their paint on!
The kiddie pool was waiting for them when they were done.
"Clean up" of materials and children is included in the project time :) Though seriously, that kiddie pool for them to jump in afterwards ended up being a smarter idea than I expected.
I'm sure this is what Michelangelo looked like as a 3 year old.
Project 3: The Toy Shelf
Materials: IKEA "Gorm" shelf (or any other paintable wood rack), paint, hardware to assemble said shelf.
Total Project Time: 2 hours (hands-on) Though we let paint dry over night before assembling shelf.

This also really has no steps and is more a shout out to Mrs. Sivad for bringing a truckload of paint color samples from the US, and to Kaylee and my husband for helping me narrow down a paint color (Anthony was a fan of primary colors, Kaylee of fun colors... so in the end a light, bright yellow was chosen). Kaylee also helped me paint and assemble the shelf. It is simply a "GORM" shelf from IKEA...we chose it mostly because shelving here involves hammerdrills, wall anchors, and screws. This required none of that and my husband was a fan:) We painted it first, then assembled it. I briefly considered getting us matching orange painting smocks, but decided against it in the end. They wouldn't have helped all the yellow paint I got on Kaylee's feet anyway.

So there ya have it. I have ONE more craft project I'm planning to do for the boys' room- Growth Charts. I have a cute idea for them, but they'll probably have to wait until after little Sister's room is done. Thanks to everyone for your help!

August 02, 2011

Boys' Room- AFTER photos!

The first room in our house is finally complete!
I realize these pics are slow in coming and the 7 or so of you who cared at one point might have dwindled...but here they are nonetheless!

A reminder of the before... geometry and half-blue walls...
...standing by the bathroom door...
...standing in corner with small window looking toward bathroom...
From doorway. (one of the big problems with this room is the hot morning sun coming in the big window and the hot afternoon sun coming in the little one...we think we fixed it;) corner with small window looking towards bathroom (standing on Zay's bed:) I wanted a bigger rug for their room but the "Lightning McQueen" rug was given to them by the childcare workers in Bali. Free is free and the boys love it!
From bathroom through doorway...
The toy shelf.
...standing beside wardrobes looking toward beds :)
Personalized art work...
...and the reason we did it all! :) These two sweet boys!
I will do a "The Making of..." posts for
1. The curtains (well, the valances)
2. The framed artwork
3. The toy shelf

The valance is the only thing with actual "steps" to it, but my husband, the boys, our neighbors, and Kaylee all helped make the room happen, so I want to give credit where credit is due. For now enjoy the done-ness!