Thursday, May 26, 2016

{pretty, happy, funny, real} The Books and Curses Edition


We've had some glorious sunshiny days this week.  After weeks and weeks of cold, gloomy, rain we've just been basking in this wonderful weather.  The children had been losing.their.minds being cooped up inside for so long.  And when the children lose their minds, they usually take mom down with them.  It's good to be outside again.


This past weekend I really needed a break so Chris took the kids while I went to my favorite used book store armed with my Ambleside Online master book list.  I did pretty well staying focused on hunting down next year's books though I might have got a little sidetracked here and there.  The beauty of using the AO curriculum is that a lot of the books I want to read are on the list for the later years anyway, so I'm not splurging, I'm planning ahead.

During this trip I realized that I am a total sucker for these older bird and animal books.  They all have such beautiful illustrations and these two also have photographs of the animals, as well as bits of literature and poetry references and interesting stories about the different creatures.  One even gives the pros and cons of keeping skunks and racoons as pets although I think we'll pass on that.  

I spent three hours wandering around and nobody yelled at me or asked me how much longer it was going to take,  Not once.  A happy day indeed.


I think I'm on my way to mastering fried chicken, which is good because I'm pretty much craving it all the time.  Up until recently making fried chicken seemed like something that was just too complicated to even attempt, something only an expert should try to accomplish--you know like a KFC employee.  And like most things I've found in this homemaking gig, it was not nearly as complicated as I was imagining.  I've tried a couple of recipes and finally found a winner--I'm thinking of making it our staple Sunday dinner for the foreseeable future.  There's no such thing as too much fried chicken, am I right?  


I'm calling this process quilting, since I've been more concerned with the therapeutic effect of hand piecing this together and less with the final product, which I admit I haven't given much thought to.  I mostly just gathered up all the scraps from John's quilt plus some new coordinating scraps and started sewing.  I might regret this later, but for now it's really relaxing to just sew them together by hand in the evenings and still be able to converse with my husband without being stuck to my sewing machine and all the noise that entails.  Plus, I'm much better at lining up my seams by hand than with a machine--so that's satisfying.

John is very excited about this quilt for his baby brother and is always pointing out which fabrics he has in his quilt too.  It's pretty adorable.  He says the baby is going to be his friend, not Margaret's, because he'll be a boy.  I suppose we'll see.  About the friendship part that is.

He's definitely a boy.

I'm hesitant to even post this because the past two of these link ups I've participated in have resulted in the immediate destruction of at least one of the things I pictured.  Literally within hours of posting each time a favorite lamp and then the washing machine went down.  The washing machine will be saved but the lamp was beyond repair.  If something tragic happens to this quilt I might be officially convinced of the pretty, happy, funny, real curse and never link up again.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

As always, pop over to Like Mother, Like Daughter to find some more captured contentment and hopefully less curses.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

{p,h,f,r} The Laundry Room Reno Edition

{pretty, happy, funny & real}

I don't know if there's anything more in the spirit of this linkup than a mediocre laundry room renovation.  Sometimes you need to have a little imagination to see the beauty around you, or maybe just a lower threshold for what you consider beautiful.  

The renovation started with this little beauty that I spotted on the side of the (very busy) road.  I've been wanting a new deep sink for our sad laundry room ever since we moved in, but since we are renting I obviously didn't want to go out and buy a new deep sink.  I've just been making do with the sad one--putting a bucket into the sink and then putting the things I needed to clean into the bucket since cleaning things in a gross dirty sink seemed counter productive.  Well no more!  When I spotted my precious, I pulled over, checked it for cracks, and claimed it for my own--stuffing it into the front passenger seat of my van.

Well in order to install the sink we had to pull out the washer and dryer and if we were already pulling all of that out anyway we might as well paint, right?  Right.

The Before

This might be the complete opposite of pretty.  Most of our basement was this yellow color when we moved in and we've since painted everything but this laundry alcove which is located in the basement in one of our two bathrooms.  There are usually doors that close it off to hide its unsightliness from guests.

As you can see it's very fancy cinder block with I'm not sure what splotched all over it--or is that stuff coming from underneath the yellow?  It's hard to say.  Well, about the same time I found the sink, the support for the shelf over the washer and dryer detached itself from the wall.  Clearly it was a sign to get to work.

Chris, dutiful husband that he is, pulled everything out, scrubbed it all down and primed.  I took over the next day painting and trimming everything while he was at work so that I could have my laundry room back.  I can't function more than a couple of days without doing laundry.  The laundry mountain can get scary.

You know what's not fun?  Dabbing paint into cinder blocks to make sure you covered all the crevices.  It was worth it though.

The After

I don't know if I would be so bold as to call this pretty but it's certainly an improvement and definitely clean.  Not too shabby for some elbow grease and paint.  I painted the shelf and the supports white and since the shelf is a little warped, we flipped it over so it could eventually bend back the other way.  Hopefully.

I'd still like to hang my drying line inside the little alcove so I don't have to drape my diaper covers  over random things in the bathroom to dry.  And it would be nice to find some kind of wall mounted container for found objects/mostly legos.  And I need to hang the doors back up, but since I painted the trim we now need to paint the doors as well or they'll look super dingy.  It's funny how one project tends to spur so many, many more.  Well, not funny to my husband :)

And, since I was already standing in the shower attempting to photograph this tiny space I thought I'd go ahead and show you the whole bathroom in all it's glory.

I know, it's pretty exciting.

What I'd really like to find is a circular braided rug for the floor.  It's an awkward space and the rectangular rug looks off no matter how to lay it.  Plus someone's always got cold toes since it can't cover the toilet, shower and sink all at once--hence the late spring space heater.

I know it might seem silly to put so much work into a rental home, but since we are military and haven't managed to stay anywhere longer than three years in the past decade we've come to the conclusion that there's no point in waiting for some undetermined future home to make things pretty.  This is our life now and this is our home, so we may as well make it as nice as we are able.  

David especially will spend his entire childhood bouncing from one duty station to the next.  I don't want all of his memories to be of us living in ugliness.  Really I think we're setting a good example for him,  attempting to create beauty (or at least, less ugliness) and always leaving things a little better than they were wherever we go.

After all,
"...for the Christian who is consciously in communication with the Creator, surely his home should reflect something of the artistry, the beauty and order of the One whom he is representing, and in whose image he has been made!"
~Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

What are your thoughts?

And as always, make sure to pop over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for even more captured contentment.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On His First Holy Communion

Last weekend David had his first communion.  It was so sweet watching him get dressed up in his first suit with Chris explaining how to put on each layer and then how to properly hang it all up again. You know, man advice.  He would absolutely not give me a nice smile for a picture until I let him have Margaret to pose with.  She was not as enthusiastic as he was but she did look cute in that dress.  He just loves her so much.

I might have been crying big silent mamma tears during the service at how big my biggest boy is getting.

The actual mass was a bit of a circus which was unfortunate for such a special occasion.  The kids looked adorable processing in--girls on the left, boys on the right--but the number of phones, ipads, and random photographic devices out was distracting to say the least.  All the grown ups were talking, pretty much the whole time, and had their phones out, also pretty much the whole time.  I just wanted to shout, "Do you really need a low quality video from a bad vantage point of what may or may not be your child receiving their first communion?  Are you really planning on watching it over and over again? Could you please just put the thing down and enjoy this moment?  It's not going to happen again!"  There was actual photographers there taking a nice photograph of each child receiving communion and then a group photo as well so it's not like there wasn't going to be any evidence that this sacrament actually took place.  I'm not sure what the solution is.  An electronic device check at the front door?

David however, was unfazed by all the rigmarole behind him.  He just wanted to know if he could go to communion every day from now on.  I told him it's definitely there every day at mass but I don't think we can go every single day--maybe once lessons are over for the summer though we can schedule in more daily masses.  He had a baseball game later that afternoon (which ended up getting rained out halfway through) and Chris had to go back to the office (he went in that morning and came home in time to take David to the church early with all the other first communicants) so we celebrated in between by letting David choose a restaurant to go out to eat lunch at.  A rare treat.  With the whole world as his oyster he picked....Jimmy Johns.    We were a tad overdressed.

It really was a beautiful day despite the craziness and the thunderstorms and now Henry can hardly wait to make his first communion because it drives him absolutely crazy that David gets to get something that he can't have.  Brothers :)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On Turning Six

For his birthday this year, and after I explained again that everyone can't have a full blown birthday party every year or mommy would lose her mind, Henry decided that he would like to go to the zoo for his birthday.  Well, actually, he decided he wanted to go to Aunt Kate's house--the magical wonderland of everything my children love--but he settled for the zoo as a second best option.  If he hadn't I suppose I could have informed him that the Mandel's have given up eating everything that makes life worth living which might have swayed his opinion but I didn't have to resort to that, after all the kid does love the zoo.

In  typical Reintjes family tradition, we started the day off with presents which the kids love because then they have all day to play with their loot.  Henry is still incredibly into all things military so his presents were almost all army themed.  He specifically requested an army guy helmet, uniform and grenades* which Grandma Kazleman dutifully provided.  I'm already regretting the grenades, which apparently make explosion noises.  Awesome.  Since Henry's favorite pastime is building forts--like the one he was working on when he acquired that scar--I came up with the idea of a fort kit for his other big present when Aunt Courtney also wanted present ideas.  I was thinking camoflauge netting but Chris thought a Marine poncho liner blanket would be more practical.  Aunt Courtney just went with both, plus some really nice fort clips.  It's been a huge hit and now I've got interesting fort creations popping up all over the house, but on the bright side my blankets are all back in their rightful places.  As for us, we got Henry two army tanks to go with his well loved army men and some new coloring books, which goes to show you how lucky Henry is to have family to fill in those present gaps with everything his little heart desires :)

I was about to bake his cake the night before his birthday when I had the idea to suggest that he might prefer some ice cream instead.  I had to sweeten the deal with promises of every flavor he wanted, plus sprinkles, chocolate sauce and whipped cream but in the end he decided that what he really wanted was a giant ice cream sundae.  It was so worth not having to pull out the mixer on a Friday night.  For his special birthday dinner he requested mac n'cheese from a box and hot dogs.  He insisted the mac n'cheese be of the blue box variety and not the homemade everyday stuff.  Very fancy.

It was an all around great day even if  I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that it's already been six years since he made his (very slow) arrival on my second ever Mother's Day weekend.  I certainly would never have imagined a few short years later I would be spending my time researching camouflage netting and thinking up the best ways to hang said netting in my dining room.  Being a mom certainly brings plenty of opportunities for personal growth.

A very happy birthday to our not so little "Henny," as Margret calls him, much to his chagrin :)

*My Amazon links are affiliate links which means if you click on them and buy something I get a check in mail about once every three years, each time I hit that $11 mark.  Thanks for supporting the blog ;)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

{p,h,f,r} The Carpets, Dollhouses and Quilts Edition


In a hopefully not overly optimistic leap of faith, last weekend I decided to go ahead and begin this newest little one's baby quilt even though I haven't hit that twenty week sigh of relief mark yet.  And yes, there is an awful lot of blue and green in this pile.  I've never done any genetic testing before because I just didn't want to 80% know if something might be wrong, but with my history they offered me the super charged, 99% correct, ten week genetic testing which I accepted solely to find out the gender of the baby a couple months early.  The baby is completely fine genetically speaking--except for that pesky y chromosome.

I kid, I kid.

The unexpected consequence of finding out that he is a he was that my anxiety over this pregnancy has all but evaporated.  Apparently I was mostly afraid that I was having another little girl and that my little girls are somehow doomed.  A boy though?  A boy will clearly be totally fine.  Irrational?  Probably.  Rational thinking isn't exactly a hallmark of pregnancy anxiety though.



I had a bit of a break down around the fact that my living room always looked dirty due to to my previous rug choice from hades and bought a new rug.  I cannot even begin to describe how happy this rug makes me.  I had a carpet remnant bound in a color much closer to that of the stains on the old one and it is glorious.  It looks a lot lighter than it really is in these pictures. While we were rolling it out we also decided to rearrange the furniture in a way that kaboshed the current traffic flow, which led from the front door directly to the sofa, in an effort to help the most soiled high traffic areas stay cleaner.

It looks so good, Chris fell asleep on the couch the first night we had it and I caught him talking in his sleep about how beautiful the room is.  Really.  Actually I thought what he said was "you are so beautiful" which was flattering, but no, he said "the room is so beautiful."  True but not as good for my ego.  He maintains that since I was sitting in the room I was included in the overall beauty of the space.  I'm still not convinced.

Also, someone said recently that gallery walls are so out.  I hope this isn't true because I've kind of committed, what with the plaster walls and all.....


Since Margaret will be turning two in October she obviously needs a dollhouse.  I found this little Melissa and Doug fold and go house on craigslist for $15 and I've started rehabbing it for the little lady.  I've got big plans that include shingles, paint and wallpaper.  The scale of the house is a smidgen on the small size which is good in the sense that we don't have room for a giant dollhouse right now but bad in that regular toddler/wooden furniture won't fit.  I think I've found some on Etsy that will do the trick though and I'm pretty sure I'm getting her a little Calico Critter squirrel family to go with it which appear to be the  perfect size.

I'm feeling so torn between wanting to make all the miniature things right now and my desire for her to have a simple toy that's good for imaginative play.  I keep reminding myself that this is just a starter dollhouse and we have plenty of time to make a real dollhouse later.  You know when she's actually old enough to play with a real dollhouse and not eat it.

I just loved my dollhouse so much growing up and I worked on it all the time and I'm really hoping Margaret will share that love and we can do fun mother-daughter dollhouse projects together.  I know that being presented with a totally "done" dollhouse that's completely furnished and decorated would be sort of lame since a lot of the fun of a dollhouse is rearranging, collecting and making all the bits and pieces.  At the same time though, it's so hard to not go for it Pinterest style now that I'm an adult and have the finances and hand-eye coordination to actually do all the things I wanted to do as a child.

What we sacrifice for our children :)

Oh, I've been waiting so long to work on a dollhouse!  The baby's quilt and the house have almost the same deadline so I'm trying to get them both done before the final stages of pregnancy sap all my enthusiasm. Somehow I think I'll manage.....


Just so we're clear that my living room is generally not what you'd call "tidy" during the day.  Here's the epic train layout we had going this week.  I even let them keep it up overnight because I'm such a cool mom.  Okay, it was just one night before I broke and took back my living room, but still.

And as always, make sure to pop over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for even more captured contentment!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

On Lego Pouches and Useful Crafting

I try to teach the big kids handicrafts during their lessons, but I've been having a really hard time coming up with interesting projects to work on that are actually teaching some kind of skill.  Then I had an epiphany--pouches.

I think it was the women we saw at Colonial Williamsburg with their exterior pocket pouches combined with my burning desire for the children to stop stuffing random bits of life and legos in the pockets of every pair of pants that they own (with the ensuing dumping of every pair out of the drawer in a desperate attempt to find that-which-they-cannot-live-without).  Originally I thought about little knitted pouches I had seen somewhere before but once I started looking for ideas I found this tutorial for weaving pouches and I knew I had a winner.

I took the kids to the craft store and let them each pick a couple skeins of yarn from the dollar bucket.  John wanted sparkly green yarn because he "loves it so much" and David and Henry wanted camo yarn because that's who they are.  Margaret got mostly pink because her vocabulary is limited so I had to decipher the deepest wishes of her heart for her :)

I ended up making John and Margaret's (obviously) and I ended up doing most of Henry's too because he's grumpy and a bit of a quitter (poor Henry).  But David, David wove his whole pouch on his own with a bit of help on the flap and button and sewing on the cord.  He had so much fun he's been begging to make another, even longer, pouch.  He originally said he wanted it long enough to hold his baseball bat but I think I've convinced him that that is a really bad idea.  Also I don't have cardboard long enough to make him a bat sized loom.  We'll see.

I didn't put a flap on Margaret's pouch for ease of use since the flaps are a little difficult for little hands to work as there isn't a button hole--you're just supposed to push the button through the weaving.  They really liked picking out which button they were going to use from my stash though so there might have been a revolt if I hadn't made the button flaps on the boys'.

If you're looking for a handicraft I would definitely give this a go.  It may or may not help with the legos in the pocket situation at your house.  Sadly, it hasn't made much of a difference here.

What about you?  Do you have any favorite handicrafts at your house?
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