Quick Takes – Around the House and Yard

WHEW!  It’s been quite a busy time over here at our house!  We’ve been putting in our garden, re-vamping the chicken coop, going on photo shoots, redecorating the girls room (I’ll have a whole post up on that, soon!!!) and getting our house (even more!) in order.  Here are some of the things we’ve been up to…


— 1 —

The Chicken Set-Up

I am so so so excited about the way our chicken coop is set up, thanks to our friend Mark!  The chickens so much easier to take care of now, and all the little things that always bugged me have been taken care of!  For starters, Mark built us an amazing new door for the coop, which originally had sliding doors that kept getting caught and causing me no end of frustration:

And now features a hinged door, and lots of ventilation to keep me from feeling smothered any time I take care of the chickens:

He and Jon also put gates up to give me outside access to each chicken run (before, the only way to get into the runs was to take the fence down!):

And they built some little gates we can open and close from outside the coop to shut the chickens in at night, and keep out critters (we’ve had holes cut into the sides of the coop for a long time now, but no real easy way to open and close them.)

Before, just a hole in the side:

And now…

Oh, what a happy girl I am!

If you’re wondering about the gates and the runs, our coop sits in the middle of three fenced in areas (we originally had four, but we had to take one down to accommodate the garden.)  Each fenced in area is it’s own run, and while one of them is being used, the other two are closed off (hence, the little gates… we used to have pieces of plywood set up in front of them, but they were an incredible pain to set up and take down.)  Every 15 days or so, we’ll open a new run and close off the existing run to give them a new area of grass to scratch around in.  Here is a crude drawing of our setup:

Our garden is also coming along nicely, but for now I don’t really have any good pictures of it!

The chickens are really enjoying their new digs:

Of course, this picture is several weeks old – they’re huge and kinda ugly looking right now.  :)

And here’s our little porch-friend, sitting happily on a perch INSIDE her coop:

(forgive the red tint… we have a heat lamp on the baby chicks at night.)

SO glad to have these guys set up in their own home, and no longer pooping on our back porch!

— 2 —

While the men were working outside, I did some work, inside, via the 100 Thing Challenge. 

In an effort to de-clutter and organize a little better, I’ve decided to take a variation of the 100 Thing Challenge (here’s a good description, if you haven’t heard of it already.)  Obviously, we can’t take everything in our house down to 100 things, but we decided to limit the number of things in our home.  I thought it might be helpful to mention some of the specifics of what we did, since it was tough for me in the beginning to figure out how much of what to pare down to.

In the kitchen:

– Got rid of pots/pans/skillets/casserole dishes we rarely use.
– Got rid of most of our plastic tupperware, (kept the glass.)
– Got rid of every kitchen appliance, serving plate, utensil and misc. kitchen item that we haven’t used in the past year (some of which we’d never used.)
– Got rid of a lot of our dishware (kept out enough for two meals, in case dishes don’t get done after each meal.)

In the play area:

– Kept the small toys the way they were in the bins, but had each child pick out two large toys they wanted to keep and got rid of the rest with the exception of items like stick horses, doll house, baby dolls, etc.

In the desks:

– Got rid of any duplicate electronic stuff we had (USB plugs, battery chargers, phone cords, etc.)
– Got rid of any DVD’s we don’t plan on watching again
– Got rid of all the music CD’s we’ve already copied to the computer
– Threw away two large trash bags worth of papers and notebooks we no longer need.

In the closets:

– Limited the number of outfits per child to 5 play outfits and 5 nice outfits (HUUUUGE MISTAKE!!!  The only thing about this whole project that I wish I hadn’t done!!!)
– Limited the number of shoes to 2 per child (one pair of play shoes, one pair of nice shoes)
– Limited myself to 5 maternity shirts, 2 skirts and 3 pairs of shoes (Actually, that’s all I had, anyway.  :)  I put my pre-pregnancy clothes in the attic.
– (With his permission) limited my husband to 5-6 of each set of clothes (workout clothes, tee shirts, button downs, etc.)

So, that’s where I’ve gotten, so far.  8 trash bags and two huge boxes of things we THOUGHT we needed, gone or waiting for a yard sale!

— 3 —

Speaking of getting rid of things, I thought it would be fun to share a conversation I had with my 7 year old daughter a few weeks ago, as we were weeding out her “special box” (each of the kids have a “special box” they can put their sentimental cards and nic-nacs in, to keep them from collecting all over their bedrooms.  The rule is: once it’s full, they have to get rid of some things to make room for new things [or get rid of the new things.])

After having these special boxes for a few months, the older girls have filled theirs about half-way while Bitty’s box is overflowing and she can no longer fit the lid on.  I sat down with her and began the process of helping her weed through her stuff.  I knew it would be an emotional process (she tends to put a lot of sentimental value on just about everything,) and I asked her to make two piles – one would be a “keep” pile, and the other a “discard” pile.  I watched in amazement as she pulled out old toy packages (“because I like the pictures!”), plastic packaging (“the wrap my flowers came in!”), drawings (one of which featured… a circle), branches from trees, dead flowers, and tons of what her unenlightened mother considered simply trash.  We were halfway through her box (her “keep” pile still growing while her “discard” pile had one piece of paper in it, and she was getting more emotional by the second), when she suddenly dove into her box and with all the seriousness in her 7-year-old self, holds up a little children’s bible and shouts: “It’s because of THIS!!!  THIS is the problem!!!

It’s taking up ALL THE ROOM!!!”

I think that was the first time in the 10 years I’ve been parenting that I could not keep from laughing in a critical moment… it simply was not possible.  What were we to do?  We obviously couldn’t get rid of a BIBLE!!!  Laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face, I told her she could take the bible out of her keepsake box and keep it on her bookshelf, after which she grabbed every single thing in her “keep” pile, crammed it back into the box, and shoved the lid back on which, of course, was JUST capable of snapping shut, now that the offending bible was out of the way!

— 4 —

Like father, like daughter

The really funny thing about Bitty’s pack-rat tendency is that I’m starting to see where it comes from, now that we’re taking the 100 Things Challenge.  My husband and I have had some interesting conversations regarding his stuff, too.  For instance, I want to set up a keepsake box for both of us in the attic, for things that have sentimental value but we don’t actually need or ever use.  Jon, on the other hand, doesn’t just want his sentimental stuff downstairs, he wants it readily accessible in his desk.  Can someone please explain to me why something you never use and rarely ever look at needs to be in such a central location???  The other night, we had the following conversation, as we were considering how to best weed through his stuff:

Me: Lets go through all of this with a critical eye and get rid of the things you don’t really need.  Like your Greek chart… you don’t really need that.
Jon: Of course I need that!  That’s a years worth of work!
Me: But you don’t use it.
Jon: I use it ALL THE TIME!
Me: Honey, it’s been at the bottom of that pile of stuff for six months.
Jon: Well, I WILL use it!  I’ll use it all the time, once it’s out from under all that stuff!

For now, I’ve convinced him to take it to the basement where it will be accessible to him for all the multitudes of times he needs it, but not taking up space in the main part of the house.  Baby steps.

— 5 —

Renovating the girls room!!!

This is, by far, the most exciting house-related thing we’ve ever done around here.  When my husband and I moved in, over seven years ago, we tried to get a bunch of stuff done before we moved in and in the bedrooms we only got as far as putting primer on the walls before we had to move furniture in.  We always said we were going to get back to it but never did.  So for SEVEN years, our bedrooms have had a coat of primer on the walls, and no paint.  We’ve also had, in the girls room, a HORRIBLE red carpet left over from the previous owners (pictures, below!)  Again, we’ve always said that we’ll replace it but never did.  But recently, thanks, in part, to my favorite book EVER, we’ve been tackling projects and I finally just sat down with my husband and asked him to help me set a starting date.  So we started about a month ago and now we’re almost finished!!!  I’m going to write a whole lot more about this in another post, but for now I’ll show you some of our hideous (and embarrassing!) “before” pictures:

What we plan on for this room, some we’re doing now, others we’re planning for the future (sad fact: we actually bought a lot of the stuff for this project over a year ago [almost two] and never did it!  Which is great for our budget, but goes to show just how much of a procrastinator I can be!!!)

1. Paint the walls
2. Put up curtains
3. Get a trundle bed and move our youngest into the room
4. Paint the girls bunk bed
5. Take out the carpet and redo floors
6. Put up shelves and make a desk area in the closet (something like this, or even better – THIS)

— 6 —

Bragging on my Husband

When we started the room renovation, I knew my husband would help me (he always helps me with everything) but I never expected him to get excited about it with me. I’m surprised to say he’s just as excited (possibly even more so!) than I am!!!  This is the first time we’ve ever really done anything to our home, and he told me the other day that he feels like we’re making it ours, “instead of just LIVING here.”  He’s already talking about doing the other two bedrooms and the hallway, and we’ve decided that each time he gets paid, we’re going to purchase at least ONE project-related item that we’ll need for the other rooms (what we buy will depend on our budget… it might be one gallon of paint or primer, or just one piece of wood to make shelves, but no matter what we’ll purchase ONE of something!!!)

Last night, Jon did something that absolutely touched me and made me feel SO loved.  After spending weeks painting the bed (we’ve had to do everything in stages, since we haven’t been home as much as we’d planned), we were FINALLY ready to put it up last night. It was the last thing we had to do before the entire room was done (or, at least, everything we’re doing for now,) and I was SO excited to get it finished, but after putting the bottom together, we realized we’d put it together wrong!!!  It took us two hours to figure out what our mistake was and by then Jon and the kids were already in bed and it was too late to do anything with it… presumably.  :)

Personally, I couldn’t stand it being left like that, so I asked Jon if he would bring the other headboard upstairs (our mistake was putting the headboards on backward), so that I could fix both of them and put them back together.  Instead, he went downstairs and started pounding away with a hammer, fixed BOTH headboards and then came up and put everything together with me. This man, who had to get up at 6:00 this morning to go to work, stayed up past midnight to help me fix this bunk bed simply because it was important to me.  I can’t even begin to say how much that meant to me… he’s amazing.

As for the room, we’re still not finished with everything, (we lost some of the brackets we need to complete the bed, but the bottom half and one side of the top half are done) but we’re finished enough so that I can move the kids in today!!!

Pictures coming soon!

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