liam // Dad and I often catch you eavesdropping on our conversations and lovingly call you Radar, letting you know we see you. I sometimes catch you listening to the world this way, paying attention to the small sounds someone others might notice.
burke // If there were an award for the best idler, I would give it to you. You are upset if you are rushed out of bed, wanting time to read or simply stare out the window. I often find you like this, simply thinking. I have always loved your thoughtfulness and slower pace.
blythe // dancing. You are always dancing. And when I watch you, I glimpse a part of your spirit otherwise left hidden. I hope you always express yourself this way.
olive // This week, you returned from Nina Camp with strep throat, deciding maybe you were too little to go. On another note, you’ve begun reading beginning readers and love it. I have found you more than once studying adult books for the simple words you know and recognize. I love watching this curiosity grow in you.
I met my mom for lunch and ice cream yesterday and then left all of my children with her for Nina Camp, a week of fun the grandparents host/plan each summer. The only prerequisite for this special week is that you are at least five in age (and their grandchild, of course). This is Olive’s first year to go–the first thing she mentioned the morning of her fifth birthday–meaning she has officially graduated into the “big kids” category, and subsequently, Mark and I close a chapter of parenthood. We no longer have babies.
Typically, Mark and I would seize this opportune week for a romantic adventure, just the two of us. However, this year, with the kitchen still in-process and our checkbook tighter than ever, we’re enjoying a “stay-cation” as they say–meaning we’re working on the house and working our jobs instead (you know, in hopes of relaxing that tight checkbook). Don’t feel too sorry for us, though. The kitchen is turning out beautifully, and we’re indulging ourselves a bit this week by eating out for breakfast, going to the movies, drinking good beer and malbec, listening to audiobooks while we work, and enjoying silence or one another when we’re not. It’s the little things, right?
In the meantime, I apologize for the sporadic posting here and hope after this renovation to be less flaky and return to some sort of normalcy, whatever that means. Hang with me, friends. Updates on our kitchen progress are coming soon. xo
liam // I always find you reading, even when you should be folding laundry.
burke // a sweet smile from the guy who had blotches all over his face due to poison ivy earlier this week. Sometimes I look at you and can imagine you at 15, so I hug you and enjoy that you are only nine today.
blythe // from the moment you first arise, you get to work on something–sometimes a drawing or your math work. You are such a hard worker.
olive // enjoying a summer popsicle, in a tutu, naturally. Just your style.
Mark and I dry-fit our kitchen cabinets today, and I’ll admit it was wonderful seeing some more of our vision for this space come together. I’ll share more pictures of the progress soon, but for now I thought it might be fun to share some of the inspiration for our new/old kitchen. Although we are adding so much newness to this room, we wanted to pay tribute to our home’s 1920 origin. We’re trying to keep an early 20th century feel by mixing a few industrial elements with the warmth of aged wood and marble. Although I originally dreamed of white subway-tiled walls, Mark nixed the idea due to shifting foundations and fear of cracking grout. Overall, I imagine the space to feel warm and minimal, full of clean lines and workspace for our family life. As I painted cabinets for hours today, I couldn’t help but swell with gratitude. Stay tuned.
When we first bought the house, the kitchen was dark and ugly. The faucet leaked incessantly so that the sealant around the sink wouldn’t hold. Although the space was decently sized, there was barely any counter space, half of which we allotted to a dish rack (no dishwasher). It was dark, which we helped immensely with white paint, and divided into two parts by a partial wall/shelf, limiting the flow light of the space. Since the kitchen was built in the 1920s, it’s doubtful they ever considered a place for a large fridge. As a result, the fridge sat on a wall too short in depth, making it feel like it was floating out of place in the middle of the kitchen. Ironically, my favorite part of the kitchen was the vintage oven/stove. The stove heated instantly (once I turned the gas knob on the wall and lit a match), but the oven would never reach above 200 degrees. After a handful of service visits, our home insurance decided we needed a new one–a huge gift for us although we were sad to see the old one go. We did hold onto the old one as a future project or in case any of you know how to fix it. (Wink.) Regardless of all of the ugly work this space needed, Mark and I fell in love with the place, determined we could love it back to life and planned a full kitchen renovation in 2015. I was convinced we could make it work a year while we adjusted to our new home and saved money for a larger renovation, but after a few months of cooking and preparing food with the kids, I felt more and more defeated by the dirtiness and lack of counter space. Mark and I decided we needed to move this project up on the priority list.
During the girls’ weekend earlier this month, Mark sent me a picture of the kids tearing out the kitchen laminate. He was dying to discover the condition of the wood beneath FIVE LAYERS of laminate flooring. If any of you have renovated an old home, you know it’s a surprise each time you tear something out. The wood was a pleasant surprise–it needed scraping and sanding but otherwise was in good shape. He then tore out the partial wall–we had already removed the shelf above it–and discovered this wall was not load-bearing, another win! Originally, we planned to leave the top cabinets, but now we could remove that entire wall and lengthen the shelf and counter space! At that point, everything came out.
We moved the fridge to the boys’ room, stacked all of our dishes temporarily on the dining room wall, and began clearing out everything including the leaky, dingy kitchen sink, the tile board wrapping the bottom half of the kitchen, and the cool but not practical ironing board cabinet on the kitchen wall.
The guys re-wired the kitchen installing a new larger ceiling fan, grounded outlets, and spots for new light fixtures in the next phase. Mark tore out the rest of the overhangs, opening the ceiling and walls, making the space feel more cohesive. Although we would have loved opening and moving the wall with the oven, the gas line is on that wall and the water heater is behind it in the pantry. We knew that small wall would drastically increase our rather small kitchen budget, so we left that entire corner alone structurally. We plan to cut into the existing cabinet to add space for a fridge, but that will happen in one of the next phases. Now, it’s time to begin the rebuild.
liam // you wanted to build something this week–possibly inspired by all of the handmade work your father’s been doing–so you built a lemonade stand for your sisters and cousin to use.
burke // you love helping in the kitchen. You also think Kristen is the best cook, and dote on her after most snacks or meals. I’m not offended because it’s true. I’m glad you have access to her kitchen so often.
blythe // you were in charge of the signage for the lemonade stand and originally wanted to charge $1/cup. We decided $.50 was probably better.
olive // You wore braided hair to bed last night and enjoy frizzy waves all day long.