Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Wait, what just happened? There's no way Christmas has already come and gone and we're about to ring in a whole new year. No freaking way. My head is still spinning from the whirlwind of holiday festivities and it still feels like I'm playing catch up. I mean, I literally just created my Christmas card (now a "holiday" card because Christmas is over, duh) yesterday. I knew I wasn't going to get them done in time to actually mail them out, but I had at least hoped to have it done before Christmas so I could post it and print them out for family.

Happy Holidays 2011 from Becky, Adam, Aidan, Logan and Lorelai
Behold, one of the only semi-decent family photos of us this Christmas (or recently), and it's blurry. Next year, I'm bringing my tripod (no offense, Mom!)

Unfortunately, we're dealing with a computer malfunction (it's either the graphics card or the monitor) so I can't even see the screen on the computer where I've got Photoshop, so it's been a challenge to do everything on an old work laptop. Anyway... (long post alert!)

We had a wonderful Christmas full of fun, family and a crap ton of gifts for some very lucky kids (and us, too)! We started off the festivities at my mom's annual tree-trimming party on Friday. Growing up, it's always been my family tradition to wait to decorate the tree until right before Christmas. While Adam and I don't maintain that tradition ourselves, it's nice to still hold onto it at my Mom's.

Trimming my mom's tree

handing out the ornaments
My mom and Adam were in charge of handing out the ornaments.

On Christmas Eve, my sister and her kids came over to open presents. When they left, we got ready for bed, and started getting ready for Santa. We said goodbye to our elf, Jack.

goodbye, Jack

Then we read Twas the Night before Christmas...

we read Twas the Night Before Christmas

...and left Santa some snacks and pictures that Logan and Aidan drew for him. They were very specific that Santa was supposed to take the pictures with him, so I had to take a photo to remember them.

goodies for Santa
Logan's picture is on the left, it's Jack flying away with Santa and a reindeer. Aidan's picture is of an elf hat. Apparently they're normally green. Ok, sure.

Then Santa came!!

Santa came!

We had a blast opening gifts like nerf blasters from Santa, a 3DS (to Aidan from Santa), a Gameboy (to Logan from Santa), and water drawing board and slippers (to Lorelai from Santa), and movies, clothes, shoes and Angry Birds plushies from me and Adam. My big gift from Adam and the boys was a new camera lens, and Adam got a key and a tool set specifically chosen by the boys. I gave no input and they did a great job choosing (from an infomercial while we were watching a DIY network show!).
Opening stockings
Opening stockings

Lorelai's new shoes
Shoes, shoes, so many shoes!

playing with nerf blasters from Santa
Loving the nerf blasters

Then we packed up  the rest of our gifts and headed to Adam's parents house for dinner and another round presents. To say that the kids (and us!) are spoiled by such generous and loving family members would be an understatement. We had a great time hanging out with aunts, uncles and grandparents. Although we really missed Adam's older sisters and the cousins, who stayed in Atlanta this year.

opening gifts at Grandma and Grandpa's
How is it possible that yet again, I don't have a good group picture from a family gathering?

By the end of the day, we were all exhausted from so much fun. So hard to believe it's all over.

Opening presents is tiring!
Snuggling on the couch

Every year when I'm stressing at the last minute about shopping, baking, crafting, wrapping and memory-making, I tell myself that next year it'll be different. Next year I won't procrastinate. I'll wrap gifts as I buy them. I'll make lists so I know what to get people. I'll make time to do everything. So far I'm 0 for least 7 (since Aidan was a baby), and it seems like it just gets harder every year.

I stressed right up until Christmas eve until we went to bed. Then I stressed about stressing and not enjoying the anticipation like I should have. Because that's half the fun, right? It just took me too long to be in the Christmas spirit, and now it's over. At least the kids had fun and were able to enjoy every minute. I'll be sad to take down all of the Christmas decorations this weekend, but I guess I can just start looking forward to next year. Who knows, maybe I'll finally get my $&!# together and next year I won't feel crazy. Oh, and lesson learned, we will NOT be scheduling any home renovations right before Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night (a belated 5 nights after Christmas).

the tree was trimmed and the stocking were hung
"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care"

PS: I'll have a Christmas photo post soon with more pictures, and another post about my DIY advent calendar that I'm super excited about.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The ugly counters are GONE

Subtitle: The house is a mess and we're insane

Why in the world did we decide to schedule our installations before Christmas? Between working and the extra stuff like shopping, baking, decorating, and wrapping...finding time to prep the house for new counters and floors is not easy. Who knew? I think we're just so eager for a change, we just couldn't wait.

Anyway, the counters went in last week, and it's such an improvement already. I can't believe we lived with such ugly counters for so long!

good riddance ugly laminate

good riddance ugly laminate
Good riddance, ugly laminate!

But OMG it was so stinky. It didn't even cross my mind that the epoxy and granite polish would smell so toxic. They were installing from like 1:30 to 5:30 so the house didn't have time to air out before the kids and I got home, so we had to go out to dinner. Even now when I open up the cabinets, I can smell it. They look great though. Don't mind the lack of a back splash and the ugly cabinets. I can't WAIT to paint them white!

blue pearl granite
Maybe it's all in my head, but I think the new counters make the cabinets look a *little* better.

Here's the blue pearl granite up close. The slab we chose is definitely more gray than blue. Love it!

blue pearl granite

Floors go in on Thursday. Yep, just a few short days before Christmas, like we don't have anything better to be doing. So I spent Saturday afternoon prying off all of our quarter round trim. Such a huge pain (literally, I bled, bruised myself and got sore) all to save a few bucks in labor costs. We're cheap like that.

I ripped out the quarter round

Adam started ripping up the carpet in the dining room so we'd have a place to put the boxes of flooring, which arrived today.

ripped carpet

And even aside from that we've just got crap everywhere. Bags and bags of Christmas gifts, clothes, toys, etc all over the kitchen and living room. When one part of your house is a complete mess, it's really hard to find the motivation to clean the rest of it.

the house is a mess
Ew. Don't judge me please. At least I finally hung the stockings. And the floor is mopped.

We've even cluttered up the new counters already. Such a shame.
covering up the pretty granite already
Notice the electrical boxes just hanging out of the wall? The idiots who built the house took a shortcut and decided to just go behind the laminate back splash instead of the wall. So now we have to pay extra for electrical work. Great.

Wednesday we'll be having fun ripping out carpet, tack strips and our old laminate, and moving all of our furniture into our living room. Wait, when am I ever going to find time to wrap and finish shopping? OMG.

But yay for progress!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's an elephant, I swear!

And he's got a really long trunk :)

It's an elephant, I swear! 

I got this out of Logan's school folder last week and it was all I could do to keep from busting out laughing in the middle of his class.

Logan has turned into quite the artist lately. Every day he brings home a new creation that he's so proud to show off. He wants to save all of them so I've got to come up with a way to display some of his favorites and store the rest.

He set the bar pretty high with this masterpiece, can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Our kitchen reno has begun!

You might have noticed in pictures or if you've seen it in person, but our kitchen is ugly with a capital FUG. We knew this when we moved in 8+ years ago and it's been on our list of things to improve "some day" (aka, when we can afford it). Everything is/was very "base model" including the fixtures throughout the house, flooring, counters, cabinetry, appliances, etc. It's actually one of the things that was a plus when buying our first house since it was completely functional, but a lower price point than a house with upgrades. It was actually only a few years old when we moved in, it's in a great location in our town, in a cul-de-sac that backs up to the woods as opposed to other houses, so we've got some privacy.

We replaced most of the light fixtures and faucets right away and even did some major construction a few years ago to add a fourth bedroom over our two-story living room. Now we're FINALLY able to move on to the kitchen. On the agenda: new stainless appliances, granite counters, laminate wood floors (in the kitchen, dining room and foyer), white subway tile back splash, and painting the cabinets white. Structurally the cabinets are fine, even though they're super cheap looking. Adam and I are really hoping that white paint will make them look better. If not, we'll look into new doors at some later point in time. We also want to add some sort of island (another upgrade the original owners opted out of) and replace the huge bug catcher fluorescent light.

We started off by scoring some stainless appliances on an hhgegg Veterans day sale to match our fridge. Adam and I spent the better part of a Friday evening attempting to install the dishwasher and microwave. Key word is attempting. No matter how hard we try, we are just not DIY-ers. Not handy, we lack the appropriate tools, and apparently the general know-how to accomplish tasks that should be easy. We had to call my wonderfully handy father-in-law who came to our rescue the next day.

kitchen renovation: installing appliances
See what I mean? FUG! And a complete mess while Adam tries to place the template for the microwave.

That's probably one of the reasons we've put off the reno for so long. If we could lay our own laminate floors, we probably would have been able to get rid of the ugly, peeling linoleum and stained dining room carpet years ago.

And I'm still debating with Adam about whether we should paint the cabinets and do the tile back splash ourselves. Part of me wants to do it, but finding the time is one of the biggest hurdles for us. I have no idea how so many wonderful bloggers I follow find the time. Working full time and entertaining 3 kids on the weekend doesn't leave the hours and hours of free time needed to paint and tile. So we'll see if that happens, or if we get Adam's painters (the guys who paint his apartments, and who have painted several rooms in our house) to do the cabinets and our granite guys to do our back splash.

Next up is the granite. They did the template yesterday, and we get to pick our slab on Monday. We're going with Blue Pearl, but the slab we choose will definitely be more gray than blue. If all goes well, we might have new counters and a shiny new sink by next weekend!

Floors probably won't be until after the new year, but we picked out a handscraped chestnut hickory laminate from Lowes. I went back and forth on the laminate vs. engineered hardwood debate and primarily due to cost and durability, we went with laminate. If money weren't a factor, I would have gone with engineered hardwood, but I think what we picked is going to look fabulous and I just can't wait to get the ball rolling!

Goodbye fugly kitchen! More pics to come once the counters are in so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I wish I were a glow worm

I'm not one that typically loses sleep over work. Like ever. I don't dream about work, I don't think about work when I'm not working and I can generally compartmentalize. I value my job, but it doesn't consume me. It isn't my life and never will be. That said, I lost sleep over a work issue on Tuesday and I didn't like it at all.

I got into a bit of a conflict with a coworker during one of my meetings, and he basically shut my meeting down. Said he wanted to end it right then, and voted not to have it next week, due to some fundamental differences of opinion we were having over our new development process (I work for a software company). The purpose of the meeting was to address any issues with the process and find ways to make it better and us more successful, but he didn't even want to hear my proposed resolution (aka, the POINT OF THE MEETING!).

I have a new role on my team that I'm actually really excited about, and this just totally shook my confidence. I think (hope!) it was more a case of shooting the messenger, rather than a personal issue with me, but needless to say, it put me in a really bad mood. I'm an emotional person and I have trouble hiding that emotion on my face, so when the meeting was over, I came back to my office and cried.

I left work and tried my best to let it go, but I couldn't get it out of my head. Not even decorating our tree with the boys completely got rid of my bad mood, which is a complete shame. Now, that's not to say that I didn't enjoy that time with them and it did help a little, but the incident was still on my mind. For what it's worth, watching New Girl also helped with the mood—I was laughing so hard my cheeks were hurting! But I had trouble falling asleep, which just made me feel even worse about it. UGH.

Fortunately, Wednesday was better and I was able to conduct another meeting with the same team without (major) incident. I'd say I slept better, but I'd be lying...although that was because Lorelai decided she didn't want to sleep in her crib. And I promise you, if I'm going to lose sleep about something, I'd MUCH rather have it be from my squirmy baby in my arms than from some work conflict. (Sleep gods, don't get me wrong, I don't want to make a habit of half-sleeping with Lorelai in the crook of my arm. Please, pretty please?)

I was going to make this a wise words Wednesday post, but my internet went out last night while I was typing this up and searching in vain for the perfect quote. Closest I found was this today, which actually is pretty perfect, now that I think about it :)

"I wish I were a glow worm, a glow worm's never glum. Cause how can you be grumpy when the sun shines out your bum?"

And how can I be glum when Lorelai finds the boys' old goggles and puts them on, just like they used to (see here and here)? OMG that face. How did that face not put every thought of work out of my mind?!

Lorelai in goggles

Lorelai in goggles 

Addendum: at work today, my senior VP introduced me to someone else in the company as an "elite employee" and someone else told me he's heard I've been kicking butt in my new role. I'm kind of glowing. But not from my bum :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's starting to look a little like Christmas

I'd like to start singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" but we're not quite there yet. I think I'm in denial that Christmas is just 20 days away. We've done some shopping, but not much decking of the halls, so we're not in full holiday mode just yet. At least we got the lights on the tree tonight.

the lights are on the tree
Sneak peak of our tree (AKA a really crappy iphone pic, but there are no
ornaments yet anyway, so whatever)

Ornaments tomorrow, hopefully. I think the plan is to put Lorelai to bed and do the decorating without her. I feel bad not including her, but my hope is that if she doesn't see the ornaments going on the tree, she'll be less likely to take them off the tree. Totally logical, right? Ha. Either way, we'll put all the non-breakable ornaments on the bottom and hope for the best.

I hope to get the outside lights up, mantle decorated, and other miscellaneous decorations up before the weekend. We'll see...

As excited as the boys are that the tree is up, they're even more excited that their elf on the shelf, Jack, has arrived.

our elf on the shelf, Jack
our elf, Jack
He arrived on December 1, and I think he's been doing a pretty good job of keeping the boys in line :) We'll definitely be sad to see him go on Christmas. Lorelai will, too. She's so cute, every time she sees him, she waves hi.

Now please excuse me while I get into the Christmas spirit by staring at our tree. Oooooh, pretty lights.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
'Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

And all that jazz...