Category Archives: house

Who’s the Boss?

We’ve known for a long while now that Lillian is going to challenge us. She has a will and a voice and a stubbornness, which add up to the occasional butting of heads. I’ll return to this in a moment.

I just finally finished a fantastic book by Pamela Druckerman, an American woman who is raising her children in Paris. She compares and contrasts the cultures of parenting in America and France. Not only is it a delightful read, but it also offers eye-opening nuggets of sound parenting wisdom. I decided to practice one of these on Lillian today.

According to Druckerman, French parents have a saying that translates, “It’s me who decides.” She says, “Parents say [this] to remind both their kids and themselves who’s the boss” (p. 226).

So, on our way home this afternoon after lunch with Jeff’s parents, Lillian was talking about things she wanted to do this afternoon. I said, “The very first thing we do when we get home is quiet room time, remember?”

She said, “No. I don’t want to do quiet room time.”

[My kids always always always protest quiet room time, but they pretty regularly seem to enjoy the alone time once it is forced upon them.]

I gave her my best Mommy-is-the-boss look, then said, “It’s Mommy who decides.”

She stared right back at me and responded, “It’s Lillian who decides.”

And Jeff, trying to drive, was in silent hysterics.


Do you ever have a project on your to-do list that just doesn’t get done? This little nagging task that weighs on your mind, but you feel either too lazy or too incompetent or too busy to face it? This seems to happen frequently at our house. High on my list of neglected household tasks has been installing more smoke detectors in our home. We have one in the hallway by all the bedrooms that was here before we bought the house … and that’s it. Long ago we did buy additional smoke detectors, but they remained in unopened packages. Last year some time, I did prop one up in Lillian’s room when she decided she wanted to close her door at night. But that preference was short-lived. Finally last night, after scribbling this task on countless to-do lists over the past few years, I convinced Jeff to install them. And now it’s done! Just like that! As Lillian would say, “Y’hoo!”


Friday night

I think we’re back to health around here. I would still like to sleep a little extra, but that’s nothing new. So back to regular programming.

Monday afternoon I was still too sick to go to work at the Weight Watchers meeting, but not too sick to make dinner. And it’s maybe the most I’ve ever enjoyed making dinner. I felt like I had awakened from a long hibernation and was at least halfway alive again.

The rest of the week passed by in a blur. I finished up a proofreading project, talked to a couple long-distance friends, readied half-birthday treats for Lillian’s preschool buddies, ate too many cookies, went to a Christmas parade, and now here it is Friday night. We had a family dinner at my parents’ house, and the grandkids decorated their Christmas tree. It’s so entertaining watching kids as they eye the tree carefully, looking for just the perfect spot. And always, there are one or two clusters where most of the ornaments end up.

Tomorrow we may be buying new tile for the bathroom floor. We recently discovered water trickling down Jeff’s built-in bookshelves in his basement office, and we’re pretty sure it’s because the main-floor bathroom flooring needs to be replaced and properly sealed. Enter my parents, who have tiled many a floor in their history of house renovations. I’m nervous about tile shopping, though. Neither Jeff nor I are good at making decisions, and I struggle to envision what I want in finishing/decorating a space. Something cheap, something that doesn’t show every speck of dirt and hair, something easy to clean, something that goes well with the vanity that we’re unfortunately keeping for a while. And now I’m overwhelmed.

The kids are quiet now, so it’s movie time with Jeff. I’m looking forward to this. The majority of recent weekends we’ve either been traveling, sick, or working. Just hoping I can stay awake.

Before & After

The garage. Transformed!

Unload-the-Storage-Unit Day, February 2010. Isn’t that just the worst and brightest blue you’ve ever seen in a garage?

Painting Day, June 2011

These stairs were DEEsgusting, y’all. I cringed every time Lillian ascended them on all fours.


And a blurry, broad view:

Yay! I’m still in the honeymoon phase of smiling every time I drive into or step into the garage. It just looks so clean! And fresh! And white! And did I mention clean?!

Huge thanks to my mom, who sacrificed an afternoon off to paint in the stifling heat, and to Jeff, who was willing to help out with the high, hard-to-reach places.

Happy Anniversary, House!

One year ago today, we signed papers (and more papers) on our first house! In honor of this anniversary, some before-and-after photos:














We have so many things on the projects list still, but it’s fun to look back on old pictures and see how much we’ve done. We love our house, and we look forward to making a lot of memories here in the years to come. Happy Anniversary, dear home!

Original art

Once upon a time, I jokingly asked my dear friend Cassie if she would duplicate a painting I had fallen in love with. She surprised me by responding, “Sure!”

Here it is. Gorgeous, happy, playful, stunning:

I’m in awe of Cassie’s skill and the time she committed to creating this beautiful canvas for Lillian’s room. Thank you, sweet friend!

A home for the canvas

Just thought I would show a photo or two of my canvas in its new home:

Curtains and a canvas

The house is quiet, save for the whirring of the oversize fan in the hallway, turned on for white noise as Lillian naps. Jeff took Charlie out and about to give me, in Jeff’s words, “some down time.” Isn’t he a good man? I have showered (even shaved!) and dressed, put away the dishes, attempted to call a friend, and how I’m reclining on the couch with the laptop. And I feel good. Is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

We’ll call this Part Two of my posts on craftiness. It’s the big reveal of Charlie’s curtains, and a hesitant showing of a project I’ve had in my brain for a few months and now it’s nearly finished.

So first, Charlie’s curtains. I LOVE the perfect color pattern we found for his room. My mom thinks I’m totally boring, but I’m okay with that.

And now for the canvas photo art thingy. Awhile back, I realized that we had three pictures of the tree that stood outside our living room window in Chicago, and that they were all taken in different seasons. I tried getting standard-sized prints and framing them, but they looked a little silly because the pictures themselves aren’t anything special. They are special as a group because of the striking contrast in seasons, and because of their sentimental value. So I thought for a few weeks about how else I could display them, grouped together and on this same wall in our living room. With a little input from Jeff, this is what I came up with:

Step one: paint a 10x17 canvas for the background color, order photos in 8x10 prints

Step two: cut photos into one-inch strips

Step three: use a glue runner to attach photo strips to canvas, overlapping the seasons with 1/2-inch strips

What do you think? I may still use a spray adhesive to cover the whole thing, and I’m trying to decide whether to paint the side edges of the canvas to frame it a bit. But the hard part is done, and I’m pleased with the end result!