Thursday, January 15, 2015

Welcome back, catch up, and changes!

Oh man, it has been far too long since I've written in this space to keep friends and family updated on our life.  I've neglected blogging for a wide variety of reasons - everyday busyness, constant changes in the "how we do it", time out to process new developments, and lastly, as ridiculous as it sounds I've avoided blogging because we are no longer Waldorf homeschoolers. 

I could (and maybe will) write an entire blog on why we have shifted away from homeschooling.  But the long and short of it is I spent a weekend digging deeper in "what Waldorf Education is" at Sunbridge Institute in New York this summer.  It was an enriching experience and I honestly fell even more in love with Waldorf Education through the experience.  But I walked away realizing that by homeschooling my kids in that method, with no other Waldorf homeschooling families nearby, we weren't really doing Waldorf Education justice.  So that, coupled with the fact that we needed some part-time childcare during my working hours, led us to re-examine the preschools in our town.  We decided on one that isn't a Waldorf school by any stretch, but I felt it honored our kids hearts and minds in the same way that a Waldorf education would.  And halfway through the school year, I can say it was the perfect decision for our family, given where we live and what is available to us. Both kids LOVE school and the friends they have made there.  The entire school did an art show, the sing, they move, they play, they create, they play outside everyday, and the focus is on play/social development, not academics.  The only sad part in any of it for us is that we found out the school will be closing at the conclusion of this school year.  Mannchen will go to Kindergarten at the local public school next fall, but now we are struggling to find an equally wonderful place for Töchterchen.

And the reason why we feel pressured to find an equally wonderful preschool for next year is I am taking steps towards going back to school myself.  I am currently making my way through basic pre-requisite classes, but next year I will essentially be a full-time student to finish up the pre-reqs.  In mid-December we found out that hubby passed the qualifying exam to stay for his PhD in Statistics.  If all goes as planned (and in our experience it rarely does, but we continue on regardless), I will start working on my Master's in Chemistry in the Fall of 2016 and will finish when hubby finishes his PhD.  We'd like to say we'll stay here so I can finish my PhD also, but I feel like I know better than to make plans that far out in the future.  In the meantime, I have been self-studying my way through the first semester of Chemistry for chem majors and I have loved it.  I think I may have FINALLY found a way to combine my love of mathematics with a true application of mathematics, instead of the theory behind all the cool math I learned as an undergrad. 

Whew, I finally said all of that out loud.  Now I'll just sit back and cross my fingers that it doesn't all come crashing down around me.

In other exciting news, linked to now knowing we are definitely sticking around for hubby to finish his PhD, we have been doing more work to our apartment.  We are constantly asked how long we'll stay in this small space.  The answer is, as long as we can.  Yes, 700 square feet is small for a family of four.  But we make it work.  And it is CHEAP.  We discussed possibly looking for a larger space when I start school, but in the end we just can't justify doubling (or more) our monthly rent for something that is still going to be relatively small, simple, and not what we really want.  We decided that we would rather stay in the cheap place and save that money, so when hubby (and eventually myself also) is gainfully employed once again, we can begin the search for a house that fits what we REALLY want.  Besides, if you've ever seen hubby's truck, we need to keep the rent cheap, because that baby is not going to make it until he finishes his PhD.  And of course, who knows what else could pop up from year to year to cost us more than anticipated.

And so without rambling even longer than I've already done, I present you the latest project - the living room.  First though, let me walk you through the beginning, middle, and then finally we'll close up with the end product.

No one has pretty pictures on move-in day.  But regardless, it's dark and dirty feeling.
 
To see the moved in look of the room, look here.
 
And now, this is what we have created:
Actually one more mid-project shot, walls painted, but the boys were prepping for floor installation.

Ta-da!  The finished living room.  Clean, bright walls and a clean, nice floor (one you're comfortable to be on in your barefeet).
 

Close-up of floor.  It's a vinyl plank flooring.  It's supposed to be ideal for basements and the installation was extremely easy.  I could have done it by myself....but thank goodness I have a handy hubby so I didn't have to.
 

More floor, because I love it.

Other side of the room, complete with precious, sleeping pup.
 

Nighttime lighting.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Brighter Kitchen!

I can't remember how much I've mentioned on this blog about how dark our apartment is, especially after coming from our old house, which was always filled with natural light.  The room I had the most difficulty in handling the darkness was the kitchen.  Our old kitchen was always flooded with morning sun and I LOVED IT.  If I had my way, I would live by only natural light until the sun goes down in the evening.  Overhead lights are just way too bright and fake for me in the morning, especially before a cup or two of coffee. 

Living by natural morning light is not the case here.  There is one window, but it's not really a window.  It's covered in grass clippings.  We cleaned it when we first moved in to help "spruce it up", but then the grass was cut a few days later and we realized that was a colossal waste of time.  And the lone window looks into a window well.  Some natural light comes in through it, but its minimal.  And the view is a metal retaining wall.  It's beautiful, just beautiful.  You can take my word on that.

Anyways, I'm sounding much more negative than I intended....so getting back on track.  I hated the kitchen.  Almost no natural light, dark paneling, wood cabinets, grey dingy ceiling....you get the picture.  Dark. 

Here a few pictures from last year around this time:

 



 
And just for reference, this is what I mean by a grey ceiling - not helping the room appear brighter in the least bit.
 
 
 
Well, I can't add windows.  And I'm not paying to replace paneling, cabinets, or counter tops.  But I am a big believer in paint equity.  Sanity in a can some may say.
 
So, I spent hours upon hours painting every possible part of the kitchen this summer.  I still have my areas of complaint (because I'm a perfectionist) - I'm not a fan of the hardware on cabinets and the floor is trifling/troubling/falling apart, but I have to remember we are only renters and this place is CHEAP - but overall, I could not be happier with the results.  It was worth every dollar spent on paint and every minute spent painting.
 









 


 
Now the question is....do I tackle painting the living room next?  See how dark it looks in there now that the kitchen is brighter?  Might have to kick the hubby out for a weekend so I can "surprise" him with the results....

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's not much...unless you know what we started with!

Our bathroom "fix-up" is finally complete.  And trust me, it's nothing fancy, unless I share with you just how nasty it was when we moved in.  So, to fill you in on our "starting point", check these out!
This was an image taken by the previous owner.  I know I have an insane eye for detail, so in case you don't notice it like I do, please note the nasty, black all along the crack where the tub and floor meet.  This is no mistake, that is straight mold/mildew/nasty build-up.
Yes, all the darkness in the cracks is a combination of missing grout and mold.

Why yes, there is water leaking through the missing grout cracks, down the back wall of the shower, and causing the drywall next to the tub to mold, mildew, and deteriorate....and the baseboard also.

And yes, the mirror is rusty. 

Even on the inside.  Hell if I'm putting my toothbrush on that!

So, first we removed the moldy drywall.  I let the kids help me cut it out.  They thought that was awesome.  A chunk of the baseplate for the interior wall was rotten to the point of crumbling.  I cleaned up all of that and sprayed all the wood with a sealing primer.  And yes, I let the landlord know what I found when I cut away the drywall. 

Clearly this leak is not anything new.
 
 
So that's the before.  And I wouldn't say I'm high maintenance, but this girl has standards.  Cleanliness and not broken, moldy, or rusty standards.
 
 
Here are the after pictures.
I took down the cabinet, sanded off the rust, and spray painted it with an appliance epoxy paint.  I lined the inside shelves with cute, red damask rubber cabinet liner.

The walls are light blue and I added a red shelf.  I have a real love for red and light blue.  Sometimes I add red zinnias from the garden in the white milk glass vase on the shelf....but they die quickly.

Ohh look!  No moldy caulk anymore!

And no moldy wall either!

It's all clean now...and I've scrubbed the grout on the floor as best I can.  It's never going to be white.

No more dark and missing grout!  I re-grouted the entire shower.  It was a first time project for me and I did it while Justin was working out of town.  I thought it was fun!

I like things that are white and clean.  Really, really, like them.



I even painted the doors/trim white to help lighten up the whole room.  I don't like wood trim/doors.  In a place this small and dark, I prefer to keep things as white and light as possible.


Truth be told, we do have to keep this dehumidifier in the bathroom to help with moisture and air circulation.  It's not ideal to move around it, but whatever keeps the mold from growing!
 
 
So, that's our bathroom!  All clean and mold free!  And no more leaks in the shower!  I had to paint the walls twice to find the right color and I couldn't be more glad that I did.  The color is light, cheery, and exactly what I had in mind. 
 
Next time I get around to cleaning our kitchen, I'll share with you all the work I did in there this summer!