Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bedroom for a budding artist

I'm still not sure about the pink. I changed the top paint color in Portia's room three times now. And I'm still not sure about the pink. Portia says she likes it so I'll let it be for now.

Because there wasn't enough room for a bedside table, we used two shelves on both walls of the bed where Portia keeps a water bottle, books, and any other trinkets she can't live without for the night.

The real color issue has to do with this peapod green chalkboard paint we used inside the panels on the bottom of the walls. I love the idea that every picture Portia draws with the chalk is a framed piece of artwork.

But it's the color that I can't find the match to. At first, we tried to match the chalkboard paint, but it was like a cave--so dark! And the color didn't match quite right.

The shelf along the ceiling was here when we moved in. As you can see, I'm not quite sure what to put up there. I really need help, but hope inspiration will come with time. Maybe the right top color inspiration will come as well. I was wondering about a light version of the dark green. But I hate to start all over. Sigh. This will do for now.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Portia's not-so-secret admirer

A couple weeks ago, as I was digging through Portia's backpack, I found this.

I don't know why I cared who sent this card, but I just wanted to know. Since it was signed Collin, I asked Portia who Collin was. She shrugged and told me she had no idea. I asked Bianca when she returned home from school. She didn't know either. "Does he ride the bus?" Not that they knew of. This couldn't be someone in Portia's class, though, because the writing and the drawing hints of an older kid. Maybe third or fourth grade?

So I decided to hire a private investigator. Bianca is obsessed with the TV show Psyche, so I gave her a job that she could use the skills she learned while watching rerun after rerun. Find out who this Collin is. And I'll pay her.

The next day, Bianca texted me from the bus. I know who Collin is. He plays the violin in orchestra. He has glasses (as the pictures he drew of himself above clearly shows). But my next question was, "How would he know Portia?" We still didn't have that one figured out. But Tuesdays are Activity Days, and I'm the leader of the 8 and 9-yr-old girls who were coming over that day. When they were at my house, I asked them. "Do you have a Collin in your class?" One of the girls said, Yes and he's Portia's third-grade buddy. Portia then buried her head in her hands. "Does he play the violin?" I asked. They all agreed that he did. So, mystery solved. Not bad for Bianca's first stint as a PI. And Portia assures me that Collin doesn't like her "like that"; they're just friends and anyway she doesn't want to talk about it. Thank goodness for backpacks or I'd never know anything that goes on with my kids!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mind over matter...

  A couple weekends ago, I flew to LA for a sister's weekend. Actually, Susannah had won the entry to the Los Angeles New Year's Eve half-marathon and she had a hotel and wanted me to come hang out with her. I agreed, under the condition that she understand I will NOT be running any races. I hadn't jogged a step since the Zombie race in October. I brought a good book onto the plane (Unbroken, which incidentally is about an Olympic runner from Torrance--where Susannah currently lives) and was planning to read the book back in the hotel room while she was out running in the middle of the night. Still, she said I should bring my running things just in case.

  I spent the first night at her house and got to see the kids. Then we did a little bit of shopping, lunch at P.F. Chang's, and then headed to the hotel, The Biltmore downtown LA which was swarming with runners for this very race. I love historic buildings so I thought the hotel was great, even though the bathroom was a little "icky". I love the ceiling in the picture here, and check out that chandelier

So you see that I'm wearing running attire. Rest assured, I let Susannah talk me into walking the half marathon with her. I hadn't signed up for the race but figured it wouldn't hurt anything if I'm just "walking along." "It's just walking; I can always walk another step," I thought. We explored downtown and hung out at the mall and at nine, the race was beginning. I don't know what it was that filled that air, but the tension made my legs start itching to run. "Maybe I'll run the first mile," I told Susannah and she was so agreeable and said she'd do whatever I wanted; she was just so glad she wasn't there alone. Here we are just minutes before the race started. 

And once that race started, I don't know what happened but I felt invincible. It didn't matter that I hadn't run in two and a half months, I was going to run this thing. Okay, so we ran and walked and ran and walked and just kept going as fast as we possibly could. We ran through Chinatown and up and down hills. At mile seven, we were at Dodger Stadium and actually ran through the field there. We talked and walked and ran and talked through the whole thing. We thought about dad and spoke about him when we were passed by the cutest old man. I felt pretty good up until we passed Mile Marker 11. And then my legs hurt so bad from walking fast that it was actually a relief to run. So we ended up running more in the last two miles than walking. And wow did I just want it over! It is amazing the feeling of accomplishment you get when people are cheering you on at the end and you realize that it was kind of a big deal. I've never felt more relieved than to stop moving. We crossed the finish line a little after midnight. No one seemed to care that I hadn't actually registered for the race and they showered me with a medal and a tin-foil blanket and lots of food and drinks. I was doubly surprised by how many people we passed in those last several miles. Here we are, barely able to hold up our medals.

After resting a bit, we still had about seven blocks to walk home, but at least we could walk slowly. Kind of. It was late and it was downtown LA after all, so we kind of wanted to stay with a group of people who were all heading back to our same hotel. I showered, then laying in bed was actually the best feeling of all. 

  I didn't really understand just how much this 13 miles would affect my body. The next morning, I could hardly walk, which wasn't great considering Susannah had planned a "walking" tour of the city where she showed me the building where she worked as an accountant at KPMG right out of college. Every step was painful. Yeah, I shouldn't have been all that surprised considering I hadn't run in over two months, but sometimes when you tell your body to do something, it listens and then you pay for it later. Mind over matter, right? Well, I was definitely paying for it.

  We had tickets to see the LA Philharmonic perform Tchaikovsky's 4th and then some experimental, first-time-performed-in-the-US piece that reminded me a little of August Rush. We drove around a little city where Susannah hopes to move to in the future and then she dropped me off at the airport. It was a short trip but so fun. I'm so lucky to have an awesome sister who makes me do things I really don't want to do and then appreciate it later. Now, weeks later, when the soreness is all finally completely gone, I can say that yes, I'm glad I did it. I can now check 1/2 marathon off my bucket list of things to do before I die. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Vintage Tiles

One of my very favorite things about my house is the antique fireplace mantle with vintage tiles in the master bedroom. In fact, we chose wall colors to coordinate with these tiles. I loved them from the first time I walked into this house. A couple weeks ago, I was watching an episode of HGTV's House Hunters International because I've been feeling the itch to roam the world again. I love England so I was watching a couple who was looking for a home in a village in England. I was shocked (and super excited) when I saw MY vintage tiles in a cottage the couple was looking at in Hertfordshire, England. Here they are:

And here's my bedroom mantle with the same tiles:

On this wall, we pulled off the closet doors and made it into a niche. And I added this antique desk I found on ksl and this chair I bought at an antique store in Alton, Illinois this summer. I love antiques!

And of course there's Eric's grandpa's chair that is the most comfortable chair in the entire world. Eric doesn't like the old-timey velveteen fabric, but I happen to like the pheasants on it and think the colors sort of go with our color scheme. (Although I have to mention that last year, when we put our house in Herriman on the market to sell, the realtor took one look at grandpa's chair and said, "You'll need to put that in storage." That's okay. She didn't understand its merits. She never sat on it.)

And lastly, we found a comforter set at Pottery Barn that pulled in the orange and blue of the vintage tiles, but also added several more colors into the mix as well. Eric and I have never had a king-size bed before. I read recently about some study done that showed more people with king-sized beds divorce than couples with queens. It's been an adjustment and I do find it a little too big at times, but I guess it's nice to have a little extra room on Saturday mornings when Portia and Bianca try to pile in the "family bed."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

To the mountains we go...

I made it a goal to go skiing & snowboarding once a month during the winter month's this year. I figure if we're going to be living in Utah (and it looks like this is my fate), we might as well be able to enjoy the perks of living here. So during Christmas break, Eric took a day off work (this is a rare occasion) and we headed up to Solitude. We were late getting there so Portia couldn't get into the ski school for the morning bit, so we put her in the "play" area, which is pretty much like a nursery with crafts and Play-Doh. After lunch, she started at the ski school. This is her third season skiing so Portia's quite the little pro.

Bianca snowboarded with me in the morning and then she got in on the afternoon class as well.

It was sunny but really cold. On our drive home, Portia informed me that she preferred the "nursery" over the skiing. The more you do it, the more you like something, right?

I've already signed the girls up for January. We're going to The Canyons, which used to be called Wolf Mountain and is where I worked all through college as a lift operator and in the kitchen. I hear it's much changed. The girls are going to do the Utah Learn-to-Ski program and I'm going to mix things up a little--Portia's going to snowboard and Bianca's going to try out skiing. I don't think Bianca will like it, but I'd like her to make an informed decision, nevertheless.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas 2012

Now that my house is void of any trace of Christmas, I feel a hint of depression settle over me (that could be because the kids STILL aren't back at school). January is always a difficult month for me. I normally start a project, but with all the projects I had this year, I'm not sure that's the best thing for me now. Maybe I'll start planning a summer trip. That's a small project in itself. Christmas this year was another good one. We considered going away for Christmas, but I wanted to spend our first Christmas in our new house.

We spent Christmas Eve this year with a friend of Eric's. We did our normal Christmas Eve stuff, just without the shepherd's pie Eric normally makes. Instead, we had Chinese food. We read some Christmas stories and did the nativity. Portia was Mary, with her silky wrapped around her head, and Bianca was the angel. It had snowed all day and the roads weren't great. There was plenty of snow for a white Christmas.

Eric and I started a fire in the fireplace in our bedroom when we returned home Christmas Eve and wrapped presents until about midnight. Bianca and Portia decided to sleep together in the bedroom downstairs by the Christmas tree to await Santa's imminent arrival. Fortunately, they fell asleep really quickly. Every year I think I've got to start the wrapping earlier and every year we end up doing it all on Christmas Eve. The 4-hour-log we used in the fireplace ended up going for nearly 8 hours and I slept fitfully through the night.

Eric got up at 5am, started a fire in the fireplace in the basement, and we got up at seven for presents. Portia's three categories this year were: 1) creativity -- art easel, paper rolls, smock, paint and paintbrushes, more art supplies; 2) exercise -- new skis and ski boots and koala aromatherapy koala for after-skiing sore muscles; 3) creative play -- lego friends stable.

Bianca's three categories were: 1) creativity -- calligraphy quill, ink well, parchment paper and ink; 2) beauty & relaxation -- bathtub caddy, scented bubble bath and soaps, flat/curling iron, and jewelry tree; 3) exercise -- new running outfit and shoes, MP3 player, and stop watch.

Father Christmas, of course, fills the girls' stockings with toys and candy and other little things like jewelry and lip gloss.

One of the highlights of Christmas morning was the present Bianca made for Eric. She had been sewing and cutting and working on this for days before Christmas. I woke up to the sound of Bianca's sewing machine whirring on Christmas Eve morning. She worked so hard and Eric loved the BYU apron she made for him. It's rugged and awesome and she is so sweet and thoughtful. Bianca tagged Portia's name onto the presents she thoughtfully gave. Hopefully Portia will eventually learn from Bianca's gift-giving example.

Bianca also gave presents to the dog and cat. Jillyboo wasn't exactly overjoyed with the dress Bianca put on her. In fact, once it was on her, she would only move to get closer to us. It was amazing how affectionate she became with that dress on. But really, she was trying to get our hands closer to the velcro she we could take the dress off her. Here's Jillyboo feeling very little Christmas joy.

We spent Christmas day at Bruce and Joanie's. We brought our Bread Pudding Quiche, and I got a nap in the afternoon, and the kids did a little talent show. Portia played O Come Little Children on the cello while I accompanied on the piano. And Bianca played a Seitz concerto she's been playing on her viola. Then Josh played his trumpet, and Emily played her clarinet and they all played Christmas songs together and it was a beautiful cacophony of wonderful Christmas music. We even headed over to the swimming pool and went in the hot tub at Saratoga Springs before heading home for the night.