Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Overwhelmed, but Catching Up!

My kitchen is a disaster right now. My beach trip with a friend this weekend has fallen through. My children start school next week, and I think at least one of them needs new shoes, plus my daughter wants for me to sew her some new cullottes for gym class.  I was asked to write an article for the local newspaper that just this morning was only half complete. I was asked to write a quote for another article, am in the middle of a basement redo, and am about to embark upon directing Charlotte's Web at the local cultural arts center. My garbage disposal has given out, and my kitchen faucet has been leaking for months. That's not even the overwhelming part. I am not sure what I do and don't have written in my calendar (Lord, Please help me to not miss another dentist appointment), my car is completely covered in dirty crepe myrtle droppings (largely because I am overdue in cutting back overgrown crepe myrtle brances), and I have a mountain of paperwork that I have all too "conveniently" stuffed into a cabinet.  
I truly buckled down today, and the things I had been avoiding, like the article, had to get done. The pile of clothes that was giving me mini panic attacks had to get sorted through. You know how it goes. At the end of the day I look back, and feel a little bit of accomplishment and a lot less stressed.
I finished the article and submitted it. Check.
I submitted a quote. Check.
I worked on Charlotte's Web and drafted an email for the board. Check.
My children (and I) are all dressed, fed, and brushed our teeth and hair. Check.
I folded three loads of laundry. Check.
I cleared out some kids clothes and shoes and took them to Goodwill. Check and a tax write off.
The plumber installed my new faucet and garbage disposal this morning. Great big beautiful check!
I cleaned out my car. Still need to wash it, but the mess inside is finally gone. Check.
I am feeling so caught up right now, I might shave and paint my nails. Big time, I know. I'm celebrating tonight.
Anyway, if you don't see or hear from me in the next couple of days, please someone send a search party. I will either be buried beneath that pile of paperwork I "conveniently" stuffed in a cabinet or the crepe myrtles will have swallowed me alive.  Just kidding, no need to send a search party. Just send wine.  xoxo, Erin

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SoVA Mom DIY Dry Erase Table

Have you ever seen the show "Design on a Dime?" In that program, designers create beautiful living spaces in homes on a super tight budget, often $1000 or less. Our family wanted to turn our dungeon of a basement into a comfy, cozy, beautiful, yet practical living space for the whole family to enjoy. The catch? We were on a "design on a dime" budget.  We had to be very creative about every aspect of the basement. This little project is one that resulted from our creative efforts.
I could have used a coffee table as is, but I wanted a piece of furniture that would be fun, could be used for board games, putting together puzzles, and for children's arts and crafts. I needed something that I wasn't afraid to get dirty or otherwise "mess up."  I found this coffee table from an estate auction for $5. It was very sturdy, functional, and had good project potential, the three qualities I always look for in thrifted and salvaged pieces.
I removed the hand pulls on the front and filled in the holes with a wood filler, then sanded with a hand held block sander. I then sprayed a light blue spray paint that I found at a local hardware store.  I am using fabrics in several colors and prints in this space, and I wanted a color that coordinated with those fabrics. This light aqua did the trick.
Did you know that this stuff existed? This is so cool! This is right up there with chalkboard paint. It comes in two containers in one box, and you have to mix them. If you have more than one project to do, do them at the same time. Once you mix the paint, you only have an hour or so to use it, and what is left is wasted. I didn't realize that when I started my project, and then I was running all over the house looking for something else I could paint.

I primed the whole table before painting any part of it. I always sand between paint coats. Miss Courtie is a great helper. We used Frog Tape (one of my very favorite products) to tape off the edges, then used a foam roller brush to paint on the dry erase paint. 
Voila! I think it turned out great! 
And the children love it! I can't wait to put this in our basement. It will be great for puzzles, games, arts and crafts, and for dry erase drawing and coloring. The fabric I mentioned earlier is going to be used to make four floor cushions for us to sit on. The games, crafts, and puzzles can easily be stored underneath the table alone or in baskets. How cute is this? 
The table was $5, the spraypaint was $4, the dry erase paint was about $20, and the dry erase markers were $2 per pack, for a total of $31 spent. I already had the primer, frog tape, and paint roller. If I had thought this out better, I could have used the paint on more than one project and spread my money much further. Live and learn. Regardless, I think it's a great table, and $31 is still pretty reasonable. What do you think?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Picture of the Day - Barbies and GI Joes

Some days it's harder to make it up and down the stairs than others. Anyone else ever have this problem? Or is it just my house? I remember when I was little, playing barbies on the furniture, underneath the coffee table, anywhere but in the big fancy plastic dream house. My children have the big dollhouses, and they do play with them just like my three sisters and I occasionally did, but I think there is something about the stairs, the furniture, and other random spaces that encourage children to use their imaginations just a little more. While it's hard to make it up and down the stairs at this very moment, I don't want to ask them to move the GIJoes and Barbies. They're using their imaginations and having fun on this cloudy morning. I'm also using it as an excuse to not do the laundry, because who can possibly carry a laundry basket through all of this? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

If it seems like I've been missing in action...

It's because I've been missing in action. And lots of it!
Mark left in July for two weeks of Army training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey. I have some really great friends who kept me and the children company while he was gone. Our friend Shannon and her daughter Natalie came to visit for a week, during which the three children took classes at the Prizery as part of Parsons-Bruce Art Association's annual Kids Kollege. This is the best summer program! It is affordable, there are three weeks of classes from which to choose, and they provide high quality instruction. Courtland took a class called, "Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice," in which she made lots of cute preteen girl crafts, like a trinket box, washer necklace, drink coozie, etc.  She loved her class! Carrington took an art and nature class and came home with a notebook full of drawings, clippings, etc. Shannon and I ate breakfast at Southern Plenty in the mornings and shopped downtown while the children were in class. One day we took the children to the Danville Science Center, to eat dinner, and then to see Planes: Fire and Rescue. Every other day, we could be found at the pool. I hated to see that visit end.
Carrington in the hurricane simulator at the Danville Science Center. It is totally worth the extra $2 for a priceless expression such as this! 
The new train exhibit at the Danville Science Center. I'm not sure when this arrived, but I don't think it was at the DSC last summer. This is a really neat addition to this part of the center, which also serves as the Amtrak train station.
 Trying to lure butterflies to perch on little fingers.
 The beautiful butterfly garden at the Danville Science Center
Dinner and a movie at the World of Sports in South Boston. We decided to eat at Spare Times Grill at the World of Sports because it is so easy to eat and walk right next door for a movie. After dinner we saw Planes Fire and Rescue. Super cute movie, by the way, very family friendly, and very respectful toward fire and rescue personnel.  
 And of course, every day was pool day.
I don't think I could ever tire of Southern Plenty in downtown South Boston, VA. The past few weeks it has become an almost daily ritual.
Shannon and Natalie headed back to Lynchburg on Saturday, and we hated to see them go. Fortunately, though, on Sunday, our other friend, also named Shannon, visited us for four days. Did you see those beautiful fresh, local flowers above? I went back for those. I also bought gourmet smoothie flavored jelly beans to fill the candy dish. I love having friends visit, and I love making their space comfy and pretty while they're here. This is what I did with those lovely flowers and jelly beans:
Underneath this guest bed is my new DIY trundle bed. I have a small mattress atop a piece of heavy duty plywood that slides out from underneath the double bed above. This is the easiest, yet most useful home project ever!  
On the pillow I left the CD that I bought from pink haired, bubble blowing, free hugging Storyteller Kristin Pedemonti last month at her house concert. It never quite made its way into the mail, so now I can give it to its rightful owner in person. Read here about Kristin Pedemonti. I met her and heard her tell stories in person, and it ranks pretty high as a cool and interesting local experience.
This visit was so needed!  Courtland had her best friend here with us this week, and she got her ears pierced, too. Happy, beautiful Courtie and Mimi!
When two best friends have children who become four best friends, it looks like this.  
Courtie and Mimi on the new trundle bed. 
Courtie and Mimi at the new downtown South Boston green space mural. 
Crosby and Carrington at the South Boston-Halifax County Visitor Center. 
Marlo the Magician wow-ing Miss Courtie at Frutopia. Marlo is at Italian Delight on Tuesdays and often makes his way next door to Frutopia. 
We had such a wonderful visit and miss you guys already!
I took Courtland to her orthodontist consultation in Danville after our friends left for their Lexington home. Then she, Carrington and I had lunch and did some back-to-school shopping. It was a great day. The icing on the cake, though, was that when I got home, someone had mowed my lawn! It needed it, and Mark wasn't able to do it, so someone stepped in and filled the need. I had no idea who it was, but was very thankful. I later found out my mystery lawn mower was Trooper Dan Cline. Thanks so much Dan!
There's no place like home! Thanks a million to our friends for keeping us busy, but we really did miss Mark while he was gone and were so happy to see him again! After 6 months of correspondence coursework, additionally traveling back and forth to Raleigh for classroom instruction every Monday and many weekends for 7 months, months of video instruction, exams, papers, studying, and 2 final weeks of training at Ft. Dix, I am happy to say that Major Thackston left here a student, but returned as a graduate of Command Staff General College. Congratulations! We are so proud of you!
So glad to have the whole family together again! Having friends visit kept our minds off of being apart, but we still missed dad.  After hearing all about Ft. Dix and Mark's graduation from CGSCollege, we had some good old fashioned family time. Then Sunday night we celebrated with another family at a graduation party/going away party for Margaret Coe. The Amazing Miss Margaret, the world's most beloved babysitter, is going to college in 11 days. We will love and miss you, Margaret! Thanks for letting us share your special day with you, and thank you so much Joy and Andy for inviting us. Thank you even more so for sharing your lovely daughter with us. She is a jewel!
Thankful today and always for family, friends, and world's greatest babysitters.
I have had fun playing for the past two weeks, but now we're back to business. I have a basement to renovate, a trip to Natural Bridge to enjoy, a girls' beach trip to take, and school starts in a week and a half. Wish us luck! I'll be back sooner than later. Take good care! Erin, Southern Virginia Mom