Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reclaimed Solution

With one small coat closet to house all our winter gear, the vacuum, our board games, and our first aid kit, I decided I needed a new remedy for the stuff we use everyday.  I've been loving all the recycled wood projects I've seen on Pinterest, and a big pile of abandoned pallets and lumber was beckoning across the street.  After "liberating" one of the boards from the pile, I still had to deal with my two concerns. 
a) Old wood is splintery, and I don't think anyone wants splinters lodged in their coat hood.
b) Old wood might be home to any one of a number of gross crawly critters.
Both problems were addressed with my quick four-step process:
1) Brush loose dirt off with a whisk broom and follow with a quick scrub with a sanding sponge (medium grit).  Examine everything closely for movement.
2) Use Kilz primer to thoroughly (but thinly) coat every surface, even the cracks.
3) Paint the front and the sides that will show with your favorite color.  (I chose a sample pot of "Deepest Aqua" by Glidden from Wal-Mart.  For your information, a sample pot will cover a four-foot length of a 2x6, if you don't paint the back.)
4) When the paint is dry, brush on some antiquing glaze and wipe it off immediately with a paper towel.  I love how the black stays down in all the cracks and shows off the reclaimed texture without the splinters and  the feeling of bugs coming out to land in my coat.  (One small bottle of glaze can do a gazillion projects.)
With the addition of some ebay-ed hooks, and with John's cooperation to screw it straight into the studs, it works perfectly for my purposes.  Adds color, gives the girls a place for their backpacks, lunchboxes, and coats, and keeps John's jacket off the chairs.  Done.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crazy Baby

This baby won't eat cheese in any form, other than pizza.  She hates macaroni and cheese and despises chicken nuggets.  She barely tolerates hot dogs and grilled chicken.  Rice, pasta, and un-peanut-buttered bread get dropped off the edge of her tray.
However, she consumes black beans like a person possessed. . .
 . . . smashing them all over her face in an effort to get MORE of them into her mouth FASTER.
The same thing happens whenever she is offered a banana.  I stopped slicing her bananas months ago because she'd prefer me to just hand her an entire unpeeled banana to devour in under 30 seconds.
Seriously.  Maybe she was meant to be born in Brazil.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Thankful for Fall Decorations

Isn't it fun to pull out fall decorations?  I love the warmth and color they add to my house.  My mother-in-law bought me some fall bargains three years ago when all the decorations went on clearance, and I especially love this big wreath.  In my old house, it lived just inside my front door, but I like the look of it hung over a mirror here.  (And those sheaves of wheat?  $2.50 each at the same sale.  And I'm not even kidding.)
 Inspired by this display, I saved the root beer bottles we had for Halloween dinner (except on Halloween, it was called The Draught of Living Death, from Harry Potter, of course).  However, I then a) picked the wrong (unreadable) font, b) picked a color I don't really like with this, and c) sized it all wrong.  And then, I ran out of energy to fix my mistake and determined to just live with it until next year.
 I do, however, like the overall effect of the grass cut from our flower beds with the mirror and the berry wreath.  So it still makes me happy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Favorite Traditions

Don't you feel sometimes like it's just incredibly hard to feel grateful?  I mean, I KNOW that I live a charmed life.  My husband is kind and works hard at a good job.  My kids are healthy and I love them dearly.  I have a body that works well, a house that helps us stay warm, fantastic friends, and only first-world problems.  However, sometimes it seems like it's what I'm dissatisfied with that stares me in the face until I want to soak in a hot tub (see what I mean about first-world problems?) and shut my face to the world for an hour or two.  

This is my particular solution to that particular problem.  And yes, we just keep it up through the month of November.  But at least I'm counting my blessings every day during the month of November, so that's something, right?   For several years, we had a Thankful Jar on our dining table, which we each put a blessing into every night.  
However, last year, the girls and I stained this leftover piece of 2x6 with some poly-stain mix (which was also leftover from restaining the kitchen table).  We cut out the "give thanks" on my Cricut (but you could easily paint or stencil or even Sharpie the words you wanted), and put one nail up for each  member of the family.  The board is hung with two screw-eyes and a length of ribbon.  Then we cut out a bunch of tags and strung them with fall-colored embroidery floss.  (You can see the blank ones in the bowl sitting there on the piano.)
 Every night at dinner, we each get a tag and write one blessing we are thankful for.  Then we hang it on the board.  And we can't repeat any blessing of our own throughout the month.  Last night, Bella was thankful for her pet dinosaur.  You can see that she "writes" first and then I put the translation on top afterward, and I'm not entirely sure which dinosaur she's talking about.  In this house of girls, I don't think we even have a toy dinosaur.
At the end of the month, we write down all of our blessings in our "Thankful Notebook", which we keep with the Thanksgiving decorations.  (We did this with the Thankful Jar as well, so we've got a few years on record.)  It's so fun to review the blessings from years past when we add the new ones.
I really do have so much to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here's the final look at the birdies.  (Aren't you sick of them yet?)

First we have the swan, the epitome of grace and beauty.
And goofiness.

Next, we have a rare shot of a peacock in a tree.

Plus a good shot of that magnificent tail (sturdified with heavyweight interfacing and boning, and it still wouldn't stay up, so it had to be a relaxed peacock tail.  Plus can you see that one goofy feather?  Who knew that boning had a right way and a wrong way?  I do now).
Now we see the notorious canary-turned-chick.  This is one stubborn little bird, determined to sport pink legs rather than yellow, like the rest of her kind.

And the smallest, yet loudest, of all.  The screech owl.
 Most owls, of course, prefer to eat mice.  This particular owl, however, has discovered the joy of the Dum-Dum sucker.  Sticky plumage, here we come.
Trick-or-treating was a lot of fun, though unseasonably warm.  (Isn't that how it goes?  When I make an effort to get everybody a cozy costume, that effort turns out to be unnecessary.)  I desperately missed our Indiana neighborhood as I was walking with my girls.  Halloween was always one of my favorite times.  Darn it.  Here's to hoping I feel that way about Roosevelt in three years.  :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Undaunted, or mostly undaunted

There is a book (out for maybe two years?) by Gerald Lund, titled "The Undaunted."  He covers, in his partly-historical way, the story of a group of Mormon pioneers who traveled from Cedar City (southwestern Utah) to Bluff (southeastern Utah) via a trail called The Hole-in-the-Rock in wagons to settle a new community.  The journey was supposed to take six weeks and ended up taking more than six months.  (There's that huge canyon we've now filled with water and call Lake Powell right there in the middle of their trail, you know.)  To be honest, I didn't care for the fictional characters Lund added to help with the smoothness of the narrative, but the true stuff brought me to tears more than once.  
I'm attached to this particular trail for two reasons:  #1) My ancestors were among those pioneers.  #2) My dad has been organizing jeep/boat expeditions along this trail for years, and it's one of my favorite family vacations.  A little bit of hiking, a little bit of jeeping, a little bit of boating, a little bit of swimming, a whole lot of fun people (one of the requirements my dad sets forth is that the participants have to be willing to keep a pleasant disposition the whole time) with some fabulous spiritual history thrown in.  It's wonderful.
We just completed another successful expedition.  Timeline as follows:

Wednesday night:  John and the big girls arrive at the houseboat moored at Halls Crossing.  They sleep there in order to get two hours more sleep the next morning.  That was genius.  The little girls and I were in Monticello.  Maddie stayed with my sister-in-law Kelly (I'll henceforth refer to her as Saint Kelly), and Bella and I met up with the group in the morning.  Breakfast on a houseboat is obviously exciting.
 Thursday morning:  Bella and I get on one of the houseboats with the boat group, and John, his parents, and the big girls head out in the intrepid jeep group.

 The pictures honestly make everything look a lot tamer than it really is.  And you'd be correct if you thought that jeeps should keep all four of their wheels on the ground at all times.
 Elisa Rogers, my math teacher and Young Women's leader of yore, drove the entire trail by herself.  She is amazing.  50 points for Gryffindor!
 The jeep group hiked five miles at the end to meet the houseboat group at the lake.  We had food ready.  In fact, the group always had food ready.  It seems fitting, you know, to commemorate a pioneer group that nearly starved to death by gorging ourselves at every opportunity.

I had five of my six brothers there (sorry, Dave), and it was so much fun.  They are really the funniest people I know.
 Bella refused to get out of her pajamas except to trade them for a swimming suit.  I don't know why I ever pack clothes for her.
 Annie and my dad.
 This little guy is my nephew, Quinn.  He looked at all the rocks on the beach and then looked at all the people he was with and realized that none of the rest of us were going to do a thing about all those stones that needed to be tossed into the lake.  It was up to him alone.  He took his responsibility very seriously and I think he put in a good four or five hours every day, throwing rocks.  Non stop.
 Friday morning, we boated over to the Hole-in-the-Rock, an incredibly steep slit in the canyon wall that the pioneers had to blast their way down (when you look at it, you cannot believe that wagons ever made it down).

 Mimi loves a good hike.  She made it all the way to the top.
My brother Rob recreated a photo we took of him and Olivia 8 years ago.  (This is one case when the reality is not as scary as the photograph.)
 Here's the original.  Wasn't she a tiny little bug?  And doesn't 21-year-old Rob look 12?

  Next on the agenda:  Tubing behind a boat.  Annie was a great sport to take my little girls with her.  Mimi loved it with her typical enthusiasm (even though she looks less than enthusiastic), and Bella thought it was fun, but she just couldn't . . . keep . . . her. . . eyes. . .  open.  When we got her back in the boat, she fell asleep in 2 seconds flat.

Until she got to wear Annie's fabulous sunglasses.

Olivia found two adventurous buddies.  They were a fabulous trio.
Saturday morning, all of us Wellses hiked our way back up the trail.  Naomi and Bella were basically hauled all the way up by one Anderson brother or another.  We got into "Old Whitey" (as John affectionately refers to his Jeep), and within 10 minutes, we were stuck in a hole.  Awesome.  (In the interest of full disclosure, this is only the second time in John's vast four-wheeling experience that he has gotten stuck.  That's important information in the preservation of John's manly ego.)
Brother Pete was struggling with hair in his eyes.  Does any self-respecting mother of four girls ever find herself in a situation without a comb and some elastics?  I took care of the problem.
And my brother Josh, in a Hole-in-the-Rock first, driving my grandpa's thirty-year old Jeep, found himself high-centered on a five-gallon water cooler.  (That red one on the right.)  Both the jeep and the cooler escaped unscathed.
We made it back to Monticello a little more tired, a little jostled and windburned, and a lot happier.  Do any of you want to join us next time?