Master Bathroom Remodel

At the end of October, we started our Master Bathroom remodel. You can see the before pictures in all their carpeted glory here. This was a complete gut job, and one we hired a contractor to complete. I knew exactly how I wanted the bathroom to look but we needed a bit of expertise on how much we could expand the shower. I handed my vision over to the company we worked with then met one of the owners at a local store the company works with where I picked tile, counter tops and finishes. Things like the bathtub were pretty easy – there were only a few tubs that would fit the footprint we needed it to fit, so we had limited options, and love the tub we ended up with. For cabinetry, I specified white, shaker-style cabinets and a cabinet between our sinks, the cabinet company sent us a mock-up, I had them add feet to it, and we were off and running. It was a pretty seamless process (to get started).

The remodel took about five weeks, plus an additional month waiting for a replacement cabinet for between our sinks to come in (though we could use our bathroom for that unforeseen extra month, so it wasn’t a huge deal). It should have taken about 2 weeks (plus another 1 -2 for the shower glass to come in), but there were a couple hiccups along the way. It all worked out in the end, and we are so thrilled with the final result. The biggest luxury we added was in-floor heat. I still brace myself every time I step foot on the tile, and then realize it’s warm and throw a little party in my head. And that freestanding tub, it’s a dream. So pretty and simple – I was a little hesitant to lose the big (eyesore) corner tub that I could easily bathe all my kids in, but this tub has plenty of room for the kids…and Quattro when he arrives. There were other things we added that just made the room. When the cabinet plans came through, I asked if we could add simple feet so that it would look more like a piece of furniture. We replaced all of the baseboards and trim in the room with simple wide trim. It’s exactly what I envision for the rest of our house – someday.  I love our concrete style tile floors. I wanted gray plank tile flooring, but I specifically wanted a more concrete looking tile, not a wood grain tile. Turns out, the wood look has saturated the flooring market and it’s really hard to find plank tiles that don’t have a wood look. It took a long time to find something that fit my vision, but when I saw this tile, I knew it was perfect. Our gray quartz counters remind me of our quartz counters in our old kitchen, though they’re a bit lighter gray and made by a different brand I can’t recall. In fact, I’m sorry to say I don’t know the brands or names of most of these things – I picked what I liked, physically handed my choices to the contractor, and they ordered them.

Enough talk, let’s just get to the pictures.

 

 

 

When B and I were shopping before we hired the contractor to get an idea of what we’d be spending on materials, I realized that B was very drawn to everything modern, and I was drawn to more traditional elements. I loved the classic, almost throw-back faucets, while B loved the ones where you could see water pouring out. I loved classic white subway tile, B loved the big modern tiles we saw. So, we compromised. We went a little bit modern, a little bit traditional. We picked a modern version of white subway tile – 4 x 12 with gray grout to make the tile really pop. Instead of a classic clawfoot tub, we went with a more modern freestanding pedestal tub that has a nod to traditional elements, but is sleek. The gray quartz counters add a more modern edge than the marble-esque quartz I also love would have. We went with classic cup pulls (from Pottery Barn) and more traditional fixtures (the Cassidy collection from Delta), but in shiny chrome. I think this bathroom was a perfect exercise in blending two preferences and coming up with a bathroom we both adore.

I added some natural texture and warmth to the room in the form woven shades, a woven waste basket and a rustic basket for holding our TP. I knew that with the gray and white room, we could easily end up with a cold feeling room. But adding the natural texture and a bit of brown helped to warm up all the cool tones.

All the hiccups that come with a project behind us, we are beyond thrilled with the result of our bathroom. It’s by far the nicest room in our house now and has me scheming big time and dreaming about things we could do to the rest of the house. Maybe someday – right now all of our extra saving will likely go to a minivan. Because, Quattro.

Master Bathroom Remodel: elfa Walk-In Closet

ELFA custom white closet

As part of our master bathroom remodel (almost done, but we’re waiting on a cabinet that needed to be re-done to come in before we can officially call it done), I worked into our budget a customized elfa closet from the Container Store (this is not a sponsored post, though that would be awesome). After elfa-ing our laundry room last year, I was sold on the efficiency that is the elfa system. My good friend works for the Container Store, and she was over one day while I was talking to her about our bathroom plans. I took her upstairs to see our closet in person – sometimes the dimensions of a room only tell you so much. She took a look at how we used our closet. I had a long hanging rod that had almost nothing on it since I fold almost all of my clothing. I had a small freestanding elfa drawer to hold my jeans and workout clothes, but it wasn’t a sufficient amount of storage and everything spilled over. B had double hanging space that was stuffed into a tiny area because our closet door opens to hide half of his side of the closet. B also has a (self-proclaimed) hat and jersey hording problem. He has jerseys and hats that he collected as a kid that he understandably doesn’t want to part with. But because he doesn’t wear them, they just took up valuable real estate in our closet before. And our lack of a system for containing that collection just looked sloppy.  Our shoe shelves were front and center when you walked into the closet, but weren’t laid out very well for our needs. So basically, we had a big closet with an awkward angled wall and no function.  In fact, before this closet re-do, I was adamant that walk-in closets were a waste of square footage.  I’m still not sure they’re not a bit of a waste of square footage, but now that our closet is functional I have a brand new appreciation for it.

So, together with my friend, we came up with a solution for our closet. Lots of drawers for me with a little bit of short hang and a small section of long hang (Colorado girls don’t need much long hang – we’re not a formal bunch!), a bit more hanging space for B but also some drawers. And lots of shelves behind the door to store things that we don’t access very often, but want to have on hand.

Here’s what we were working with before (mostly cleared out for our bathroom remodel and with a pint sized blonde running around, but you can still see the layout):

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See all of B’s hats and jersey’s up there on that top shelf?

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And here was our closet before anything was moved back in. We decided to install the closet ourselves and it took us about a day. 1/2 a day to take down the old stuff, patch and paint the whole closet bright white (what a difference truly white makes is a closet compared to the yellow-y white builders use!), and 1/2 a day to hang the new stuff.

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The great thing about elfa is that it’s changeable. So if when Quattro starts school in 5.5 years, I decide to go back to an office job (or maybe get a job at the Container Store to subsidize my elfa habit…) and my wardrobe requirements become a bit more formal, I can switch out some drawers for more hanging space. Or if we decide B needs more drawers, we can move his pant hanging space to behind the door and add another set of drawers next to his existing drawers.

custom ELFA closet with drawers

These drawers are my favorite things and probably the number one reason in my mind to go with elfa over many other closet systems. When we were interviewing bathroom contractors, one guy said “I’ll redo your closet, too. Build you some nice wood shelves.” And I said, “I’m good, I’ll wait for the elfa sale, I need drawers”. I fold the majority of my clothes (as evidenced from my tiny hanging space allotted in the photo two down), and these drawers keep everything in the closet so that I can get dressed in one spot. These have eliminated our need for a dresser in our bedroom altogether. Drawers are also the most expensive way to store your clothes, so there’s that. But in my mind, it’s worth every penny. I did tell B the other day, “If we ever DO move [NOT our plan, just talking hypothetically], we should totally take the drawers out before we list the house, replace them with hanging rods and move them with us since they’re the most expensive part of the whole system.” B politely smiled and said, “Or we could just not worry about that right now.” Probably wise, that down-to-earth husband of mine. It’s why we make a good team: his living in our current reality, and my not-so-much.

custom elfa closet with drawers and hanging space

Here’s my half of the closet. I love that it’s customized to how I keep my clothing now. And that I’m not pigeon holed into keeping this setup forever if my needs change.

ELFA closet shelves and hanging space

My friend and closet expert talked me through a couple trouble zones. Instead of giving valuable drawer space to my swim suits, for example, I bought some canvas bins to hold all of the things that we don’t access on a daily basis, but need to have nearby. The beauty of this is that it makes things easy to switch around for the seasons. I have started folding my sweaters, but there’s very little sense in devoting a whole drawer to my sweaters May – September in Colorado, so I’ll probably swap my sweaters into the bin and replace my swim suits and cover-ups in the drawer for the summer months. I have a bin for swim suits, a bin for tights, a bin for bags I’m not using at the moment. And lots of shelf space for more bins as the need arises.

organized walk-in closet with ELFA

Those same canvas bins hold B’s everyday hats, his sentimental hats and jerseys, and his logo shirts for work events (that he has to wear about once or twice a year for when he’s representing the company at an event, so didn’t need to be taking up room hanging or in a drawer he accesses daily).

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For our shoes, we decided to install elfa’s gliding shoe racks. B and I are clearly not shoe people as this is as full as they are at the moment. The shoe racks are awesome, and definitely more convenient than standard shelves that we always tended to just pile extra stuff on. I keep my heels (which I wear only for special occasions) in clear shoe boxes above my long-hang. Above the gliding shoe racks are more shelves. Here’s where I keep my bin for extra handbags and snow gear, and also where we will most likely keep out of season clothing (neatly stacked in bins of course :)) as needed. Right now we keep our entire wardrobes in the closet year round, but this system allows us to move to a more seasonal closet if we want to.

So, that’s our closet today. We installed this system a little over a month ago and I can say with complete honesty that it has stayed this organized since the day we put everything back. I didn’t move a single thing when I took these photos (which is why my orange striped sweatshirt hanging above is out of color coordinated order!) That, in my mind, is a closet organization success.

Once again, this is in no way shape or form a sponsored post, but the elfa closet sale (30% off) is going on right now if you are in the market for an organized closet yourself. I’m trying to justify the cost of elfa-ing Thomas’s closet since he and Peter are going to share that room in a few months. But after the major spending that our bathroom and closet remodel entailed, I think I’ll just save up for next year’s sale :). Let’s just be real about the cost: Our closet wasn’t cheap. Even with the sale it comes in at a pretty penny. To be honest I haven’t priced out other closet systems, so I have no idea how they compare.  But, even B, who I’m pretty sure just went along with this because I was so passionate about it told me that it’s been life changing. He’s also asked me if he’s allowed to actually use the shelves or if they’re just supposed to stay empty. Jury’s still out on that one.

Baby #4: Quattro

We are thrilled to announce that McKiddle #4 (whom we affectionately call Quattro) is due at the end of April.

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We used this photo to announce Quattro on Facebook and Instagram. I’m 20 weeks along, and hadn’t announced to anyone but family and close friends yet. But my creativity was tapped and I figured maybe we just wouldn’t do a big announcement. And then I remembered how well that went over in 2010 :). So here you all go, officially announcing that our 4th (and final…for real this time!) is on the way.  Thomas and Nell are over the moon. I wish I’d filmed Thomas’s reaction when we told the kids that we were having another baby, it was just about the sweetest thing. If you ask Peter where the baby is he points to himself and shouts “BABY!”…so this should be good.  Thomas and Nell want to find out if the baby is a boy or a girl, so we’re leaning towards finding out for the first time to involve them in the pregnancy…but we’ll see. I’m on the fence about it.

 

We are set on a name for a baby girl (and despite Nell’s insistence, it’s not “Poodle”), but if you have a suggestion for a New Testament, Irish-Catholic boy Saint’s name that’s not in the top 50 (I’m leaning towards an Apostles name because it’s clearly the established theme for boys around here, but the remaining ones we like are all a little more popular than we tend to choose so we’re not sold on anything), send them my way! I’ve already combed through my dad and grandmother’s Catholic high school yearbooks since my mom calls our naming style “Old school Catholic school”, but I’m coming up empty. And, if we do find out the baby’s sex next week then maybe it won’t matter. Or maybe it will matter a ton.

Halloween 2015: The Year of the Goat on a Roof Costume

Every year so far (though I’m willing to bet this year will be the one that ends it), our kids have chosen their Halloween costume for the next year on November 1st. Last year I was on a plane on November 1st on a getaway with some girlfriends, and I got a text from B when I got off the plane that said, “Tom has picked Peyton Manning for next Halloween, Nell wants to be a Goat.” Of course. So when I got home, Nell clarified. Not just a goat. A goat on a roof. The pumpkin patch we visit every year with B’s mom has goats and a little lean-to with a ladder. We’ve seen the goats climb the ladder and stand on the roof. So, Nell wanted to be a goat on a roof. The goat I could handle – I’m a sweatsuit animal costume making pro (not really, but I can hold my own: Walrus costume, Penguin costume and skunk costume for your viewing pleasure).

The “Goat on a Roof” costume caused me some sleepless nights, but I pulled it off. Can I say? I love this girl’s mind. I love making Halloween costumes for my kids when it makes sense, and this was special: Nell had this totally out there idea, and I helped her bring it to life (with B’s help…I had her convinced that she could just be a goat and pretend to be on a roof, but B insisted that the roof needed to be a part of the costume, and so it was). I hope that she always dreams big and doesn’t care about what everyone else is doing. You do you, Nell. You do you.

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Here’s Nell’s best goat impression:

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Here’s my little goat on a roof leading her class in the school Halloween parade.

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And the boys costumes were mostly a sourcing task. Since Tom wanted to be Peyton Manning, it made Peter a shoe-in to be Eli. The Manning brothers. Perfect.

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Until last week, the actual Peyton Manning was having a kind of rough season learning his new coach’s offense. B joked with Tom that every time someone opened the door while he was trick-or-treating he should self-sack and fall over. In his trick or treating excitement, Thomas did indeed self-sack three times. But then Peyton had a great game last weekend, so all is good.

And my sweet little Eli. Peter loved Trick-or-Treating this year. He ran up to the houses and held out his little bucket of candy. Safe to say he’s a big fan of this holiday.

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Hope everyone else had a wonderful Halloween this year. I love this fun holiday with kiddos.

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Master Bathroom Reno: Before

This week we started our first big renovation at our house. The closest we’ve gotten to a big renovation before was our kitchen in our old house – I painted the cabinets, did a DIY subway tile backsplash, and we had new countertops installed. This time? Our Master Bathroom. This project is a huge one, and we’re not doing it ourselves. We know our limits – a backsplash? Yes. A small bathroom shower? Haven’t tried it, but I think I can and I will happily re-tile the kids’ bathroom shower (and am planning on doing it, their square bisque tile shower is starting to bug me more and more, but that will be awhile since our money and energy is currently focused on the Master. We can only lose one shower in our two shower house at a time!).

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We actually knew immediately after we moved in that we wouldn’t do this job ourselves. Originally we thought we’d just replace the carpet with radiant heat tile floors and that I thought we could probably do ourselves but from a time is money standpoint we could just as easily hire out, but as we lived with the bathroom for a bit, we realized there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. Like, apparently our shower door has been broken since before we moved in. It stopped fully closing earlier this year, so when B and I sat down to prioritize our savings for 2015, we agreed to fast track saving to gut and remodel our bathroom. We had the funds that we’d been quoted back when we got a “Let’s just see what it will cost” quote back in 2013 when we moved in by April, and then we just kind of waited. When our shower door really stopped closing this summer (like, we couldn’t even force it anymore), we decided it was time to find a contractor and get started. I knew exactly what I wanted and had the plan, I just honestly had no idea where to start. We toyed with being our own general contractor on this project, but as I had no experience with this scale of project, that didn’t seem prudent. So we interviewed lots of contractors. And very few returned calls when they promised to. And many were so slammed with work that they just weren’t taking on new projects this year. The real estate market in Denver was crazy this summer, and it appears so was the home remodeling market. After many flaky contractors paraded through our home, we ended up calling a company that B knows one of the owners of through some community work he does. I assumed they’d be way out of our price range because they build and remodel luxury homes in far fancier neighborhoods and towns than we live in. They came out and are working nicely with our budget, and actually came in at a similar number to what the contractors who had all flaked quoted us, too – and they did all the ordering and coordinating. We’re getting far nicer faucets and tile than I would have picked at Home Depot and for not much than we would have spent buying all of that on our own for the other contractors we interviewed. Lesson learned? Sometimes it pays to hire it all out.

So, our bathroom. The first thing that needed to go was the carpet. That was a given. Once we realized the shower wasn’t functional, we decided that we’d probably rather have wall tile that was “us” instead of beige builder squares circa late 90s/early 00s. So, knowing we’d replace the wall tile, we figured we’d redo the counter tops since the tile was also our counter top surface. Which just left the big corner bathtub and vanity in the space. The gargantuan tub is luxurious, but an eyesore. It’s also so big it’s hard to clean. And impossible to open the windows behind the tub. So, while we didn’t have to replace the tub like we did the shower and flooring, once we realized we were going to be doing a full scale renovation anyway, we figured it was worth it to spend a bit more and get an awesome tub that looks nice, too. I was going to reuse the vanity and just repaint it, raise it up a few inches to counter height, and build some shelves in the cutout. But when I mentioned this to the contractor we ended up going with they said, “So, how about for close to the same amount of money that it would cost to do that project, we just replace the cabinet with something you actually love?” Oh. Okay. Yes, let’s do that.

So, that’s a lot of talk to basically say, we’re starting our big bathroom renovation. Since I’ve never shown much of this room on the blog before, here are some (iphone – big camera is still broken) before pictures in all it’s carpeted, orangey-oak glory.

 

Here’s a panorama to try to give an idea of the whole space. It’s a weird room. We can’t change the actual footprint of the room much, but we can drastically improve upon the materials and appearance. You walk into the bathroom and there’s a nice linen closet on your right, double vanity past that, corner tub, and small shower, with a toilet room next to the shower. The closet is accessed through the diaganol wall to the left of the photo below, next to the toilet room. The long wall opposite the vanity has towel bars and that’s it.

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So, that’s the dated before. I’ll share photos again when the whole project is done, but I’m doing the occasional update over on Instagram (my account’s private after I got some weird comments a few months ago, but just request me and if your name is recognizable and you don’t post pictures of women’s feet, I’ll likely confirm you ;)).

The State of the Exterior: Fall 2015

At the end of last Spring, B and I started putting a landscape plan into place for our front yard. The last time we chatted about this, the shrubs were planted in front of the garage and the perennials were in, but small. They’re still small, but I’m noticing that some of the spreading perrenials are starting to spread their root systems, so I think by next Spring (the creep year of the sleep, creep, leap pattern that B tells me plants follow when establishing their root systems) I think we’ll really start to see the fruits of our labors. Over Labor Day weekend, we took advantage of a 50% off sale at our local Tree Farm and bought the four trees that we needed for the front yard and B planted them all one morning while I was at the zoo with the kids and my brother and his kids. We needed 3 compact evergreens and an ornamental tree, and we had to stray a little bit from the designer’s specs just because of sheer size (and availability) of some of the plants, but we found some similar trees and are ready to watch things grow!

The main reason we hired the landscape designer was because we felt like we were dealing with some challenges that were beyond our skill level. Mainly, the front driveway. When we bought the house, I loved that while the garage was in the front, it didn’t absorb the entire front of the house. But, we had no living shrubs, so our whole front yard was cement, gray rock and a little grass. We needed plants and I had no idea where to begin, and I didn’t want to piece it together over the next several years.

 upgrading builder grade landscaping side garage

The shrubs we planted in front of the garage to help soften all of the gray rock and brick are growing nicely. I’m excited to see how these round out as they mature.

 

shrubs in front of side facing garage

The designer we worked with specifically chose plants that will spread and mound, helping to soften all the rock that is in front of our house because at the time I didn’t want to change the rock. I wonder if I should have nixed the rock, but we can always swap out the rock for mulch or something softer later if we think the landscape still needs it. I’m hopeful the perennials will do the trick.

planting flowers in rockbeds Our neighborhood used rockbeds to distinguish property lines when the area was being developed. This is where our neighbor’s rock bed meets our rock bed. We planted a compact Juniper tree that will grow quickly but stay relatively narrow (about 6 feet wide) to block the direct view of the neighbors house, and add some year round greenery. I think this single tree will be the biggest difference maker in our front yard as the plants and trees all mature.

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On the opposite side of the driveway, we planted three trees – two more compact junipers (these will stay even narrower than the other, growing only 2-3 feet wide, but tall) to add some year round greenery and visual height to that side of the yard, and an ornamental, flowering tree.  updating builder grade landscaping

Our Shasta Daisies love this sunny little garden spot, and the spreading perrenials are doing beautifully here. We planted the same flowers on the other side of the house in that rock bed I showed you before and they get a little more shade and aren’t quite as happy there – so we’ll see how those survive the next couple seasons.    low maintenance flowering landscape  I know it’s all still pretty small and hard to see from the street, so I’m mainly blogging about it now so that I can look back to see how they’ve grown. A growth chart of sorts for my trees and shrubs 🙂 Since I don’t have one for my children. Expect an update next Spring 😉

Camp Baby Shower

My college roommate is expecting her first baby this Fall, and last month a group of her grilfriends, Caroline and I threw her a baby shower. Her baby’s nursery is Colorado Mountain themed, and she mentioned that if we wanted to somehow tie that into the shower she would love it, so we went with a camping themed shower. There were 8 hosts of this shower, so we pretty much divided and conquered and trusted that it would all come together. I’m not the best at letting go of the little details, but with a group this big I had no choice. And honestly? It was awesome. No stress, everyone focused on their couple tasks really well, and everything came together nicely. We hosted the shower at my mom’s house – she has a great house for parties so people can spread out, lives about 45 minutes closer to the mom-to-be and other party guests than I do and her house is pretty much setup already for a camping theme party, so it worked. I took a few pictures of the food and drink table and then I stopped. But it was cute, so I figured I’d share. Also, I broke my DSLR while we were in Hawaii, so all these pictures were taken with my aging iPhone. So, there you have it…

As for decor, Caroline and I pretty much used what we had. Between the two of us we have quite the collection of serving pieces. We used a lot of galvanized metal, wood pieces and tones and white servingware. I know that professionals like all white, but have you been camping? It’s mix and match and use what you have, so we rolled with it.

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My mom and I both have mini spruce Christmas trees in galvanized pots (both IKEA Christmas finds a few years back) that we dug out of our Christmas bins for the party and they went perfectly with the camp theme.

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Food was all divvied up and everyone did their own thing. The grandmas to be provided sandwiches and fruit, I made pigs in a blanket and provided the beverages, Caroline made a big pasta salad and we had a veggie tray.

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We used real plates and silverware. Mostly because I have an aversion to plastic flatware, but also because Caroline has lots of white plates and we liked the idea of classing camp up with real plates and utensils.

camp baby shower food table

One of the hosts took on dessert and she did it up. S’mores cupcakes topped with little hershey’s pieces and graham crackers. They were delicious. One of my most vivid memories of college with my roomie was sitting and eating chocolate covered s’mores (she worked at a chocolate shop during the summers and always brought some goodies up to school with her for our long days of Rush Camp) late at night during Rush Camp every August while we caught up on our summer antics (since I spent my college summers in Maine and these were pre-high speed internet, texting and unlimited minutes days, we had lots of crushes, romances, heartbreaks and perhaps a skinny dipping story or two we always needed to catch-up on. So it was very fitting that we had S’Mores cupcakes at Brie’s shower.

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Another one of the hosts was in charge of setting up a build-your-own trail mix bar. It was super cute. And delicious. I may have snuck a few {handfuls of} Chocolate covered raisins during the setup. camp baby shower trail mix bar

Out on Caroline’s back porch we setup the drink station with mason jars for everyone to drink out of. Water, lemonade and iced tea in drink dispensers and mimosas for the non-Mama’s to be at the shower. drink station camp baby showerSo, that was Brie’s Camping Baby Shower. She’s surrounded by a huge group of people who love her, and we’re all so excited to meet her sweet boy in just a matter of weeks.

McKevitts in Maui: 2015

We just got back from an amazing, week long trip to Maui. B and I both agree that it was probably the best vacation we’ve ever taken as a family. We went into it with very few planned activities or expectations other than to disconnect from social media (me!) and email (B!) and enjoy the time as a family and get as much beach time as was humanly possible. With B traveling for work, I am fiercely protective of our family time, and this week with just our five was exactly the refresh break we needed. Sometimes, in the hub-bub of everyday life, the things you have to do: the kid shuttling, the meal cooking, the house cleaning, the disciplining so that you don’t raise hooligans, can lead you to forget that family life is, at it’s core, supposed to be fun. I realized during this trip that this was our first trip that was purely us five. We’ve traveled a decent amount with the kids and always made vacations out of all of our trips, but often our vacation destinations were driven by seeing people we knew places, even if we stayed on our own. But anyway, back to the trip.

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You can pretty much break our trip into two parts: the travel, and everything else. Let’s just touch on the travel quickly. Flights from Denver to Maui were absurdly expensive, we were kind of thinking they’d be lower since August is not Hawaii’s busy season, but nope. Due to the fact that the flights alone are usually what we budget for our annual vacation, and also not knowing if it would be better to have a quick layover to break up the sitting or do it all in one swoop, we didn’t splurge for the direct flight from Denver to Maui (lesson learned: splurge for the direct flight).  So, on the flight out, we left Denver at 5:45 am and had a quick layover in Phoenix, before taking a six hour flight from Phoenix to Maui. The flights were torture. I’m not a great flyer. I’m not an anxious person usually, but flying brings out a certain level of anxiety that I’m not used to. Suddenly everyone on the plane is not to be trusted (I’m the same way in movie theaters now, too…to the point where we just don’t go to movies anymore), and take-off and landing tie my stomach in knots. But this isn’t about me. The big kids were awesome. We generally don’t allow technology for flights, but based on the fact that we’d be flying for 8 and a half hours, we broke our normal rule and downloaded as many Stella and Sam Sprout episodes to B’s iPad as we could. I also bought a few little dollar store activities, and the kids slept for about 2 hours of the Maui flight. It was a long haul, but the big kids didn’t complain once. Peter, on the other hand…made a name for himself. As soon as we took off from Phoenix, Peter fell asleep in the Ergo – he’d been awake for 5 hours at that point since we woke him up at 3am.  He woke up an hour later, and I distracted him for a good hour with stickers. And then we reached sheer exhaustion but the toddler doesn’t want to sleep point. And I would say that Peter screamed on-and-off for two hours of our 6 hour flight. To the point where the next morning (at 5:30am) when I was on the beach with my time confused youngest two, a man stopped and said “Peter! I remember you from the plane. I’m not the least bit surprised that you’re awake at this hour.” At least he had a good sense of humor.

But the beauty of  Maui is that the second we were in our rental car, the flight portion was behind us. We stayed on the Northwest side of the island. I grew up going to Maui for Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family and we always stayed in Kaanapali, and this time we were a little further North towards Kapalua. It was so fun to be back in a place that some of my best childhood memories are tied to with my own family. I think that’s what made this trip so special to me – exposing my kids to something that was a huge part of my childhood. But also, exploring a place I knew with my husband and seeing it through different eyes. It’s so neat to see how your view of the world changes as you’re exposed to new people and things.

So anyway, Maui. We mostly played at the beach and in the pool, with a couple little activities mixed in. Or room had a full kitchen, so we ate breakfast and lunch or dinner in the room and ate out one meal a day. We’d wake up (early…because…time change) and hit the beach within 30 minutes of being awake. We found a sweet beach early on that has a huge reef about 300 yards out, so it protects the shore from huge wave breaks and makes it the perfect, safe place for little kids to play in the ocean. I forced B (seriously – had to force him) to play golf at Kapalua on Monday, and that was the day I took the kids to the protected beach. We had the best time floating, building in the sand and pretending that we were a family of fish. The next day, Tuesday, I decided we should all go to Kaanapali beach. That beach is truly beautiful and the quintessential sandy beach, but the waves were intense. Tom, Nell and I all got knocked over and tossed by a huge wave as we were exiting the ocean: I realized the tides were getting a bit high for my comfort being in the water with a 5 and 3 year old, so we body surfed a wave in, and as I was carrying them out of the water, the undertoe combined with a huge wave behind it and we were thrown under, tossed around and landed on our backs (me still gripping the kids with all my might) with B and random strangers running at us to help. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life and from that time on, we decided to play it safe and stay at the little wave-less beach.  We redeemed Tuesday by eating a delicious lunch over the ocean at Koa’s Seaside Grill on Front Street in Lahaina. Delicious food, and gorgeous views.

On Wednesday, we woke up and headed straight to Baby Beach with B so that he would see that not all the waves were terrifying. And once B saw Baby Beach, that was our home base for the rest of our vacation. We had several people at the hotel with kids our kids ages who had similar big wave experiences ask us if we had found a beach that was good for little kids, and B told everyone about Baby Beach. I said, “Good thing we’re leaving in a few days, our secret little spot is going to be so crowded now that you’ve told everyone about it!” It truly was like a hidden gem that we had all to ourselves for most of each morning – which is funny because we found it by googling “Best Beaches for Kids in Maui”, but maybe not everyone googles? After spending the morning at Baby Beach, we headed back to our hotel and I rented a standup paddle board for 24 hours. The first day was really rough on the ocean outside of our hotel, but the second day was beautiful and we had a blast.  Wednesday night we went to the Maui Nui Luau. I warned B that they can be a little hokey, but it’s a neat way to see a bit of Hawaiian tradition and culture. It was indeed hokey, but it was fun, the food was good, and the kids thought it was the best. Which truly, is all that matters. In the future, we’d probably skip the luau, but if we did do it again, we’d probably choose a different one.

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Thursday was sort of a repeat of Wednesday – we woke up, went to the beach where B and I took turns snorkeling while the other stayed with the kids, swam in the pool, did some stand-up paddle boarding, and then went to Whaler’s Village and ate dinner on the beach at Hula Grill. Peter was not the most enjoyable at meal times this trip. He’s in a phase where he doesn’t eat much, and he’s squirmy. So B and I were passing Peter back and forth to try to keep him from ruining everyone’s meal. I’m sure we looked like a hot mess. When we were done, our server came over and said, “All done? Well, today is your lucky day. Another table has picked up your meal.” He told us that the table had already left, and we’re pretty sure it was a couple that was sitting behind us who at one point picked up a crayon Peter had thrown on the floor. B and I were both dumbstruck, and honestly felt a little guilty, but then we told ourselves, “They wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t wanted to, and we’ll just have to remember to pass it on someday”. We laughed as we were leaving and I said to B, “They either saw us and thought ‘Man, those two are in way over their heads, let’s buy them a meal.’ or they said, ‘What a sweet family, don’t you remember when our kids were that age, let’s buy them a meal.'” We’re hoping it was the latter, but something tells me the first one might be more realistic.
Friday we woke up and went to breakfast in Lahaina, then went to our favorite baby beach. We spent the morning splashing, floating and sand playing. After naps we went back to Lahaina and had the most delicious Hawaiian Shave Ice at Ululani’s, then did a little bit of shopping and went to see the Banyan tree. It was our last night in Hawaii, so we ate dinner at the hotel overlooking the beach and watched the sunset and schemed about how we could extend our trip by another week.

Saturday we did our traditional wake-up, hit the beach and play. We came back and showered and did final packing before checking out of the hotel, then headed to the East side of the Island to look around. We ate at lunch at the Flatbread Company before heading to the airport. We decided that based on Peter’s age and phase, this was not the trip to eat at Mama’s Fish House, but we will be back someday, hopefully with a less scream-y Peter in toe, and then we will have our delicous fancy meal.

 

The flights home were long and made us ready to be home. So maybe that’s why you do it – so that once you’re on the flight, you feel ready to be home and not sad to be leaving Hawaii again. It was a red-eye flight with a layover in Dallas (yes, that’s past Denver. I told you the flights we got were awful. Next time, direct it is.) Peter screamed for about an hour, but did fall asleep for the part of the flight where everyone else would want to sleep. I didn’t sleep, and during that time Peter was crying and I was trying to settle him, I got plenty of evil looks from a not very pleasant newlywed bride. But what can you do? We’ll never see her again, and someday, maybe she’ll be traveling with a 17 month old and I hope that people treat her more graciously.

 

So what would we do differently? Direct flights. And we’d stay an extra week. Here’s a video I put together of our trip:

 

Nell’s Big Girl Room

I just posted that I’m not really blogging anymore, but then I was clearing out the camera card before our vacation and realized I had pictures of Nell’s room that I could share. The shelves in her room aren’t styled (and probably never will be), but you all can overlook that, right? Last time I showed you Nell’s room, I had a 3 year old (enough said) a 1 year old and a colicky, refluxy 1 month old who screamed 20 hours a day. I can’t believe I pulled that blog post together. 16 months later, I have a sweet, helpful 5 year old; 3 year old (still enough said) and a wild 17 month old.  And I’ve given up on “pulling” any kind of blog post together. So how ’bout some quick pics and a few words here and there instead?

I bought a Jenny Lind bed off of Craigslist last month, and that was the impetus I needed to get Nell’s room whipped into shape. The bed was in great shape and I decided to keep it walnut – I love an old piece of furniture in every room, and I love a little bit of real wood tone in every room, too. With the bed came a vanity. It was in really bad shape and needed to be refinished, and I didn’t really like it. So I figured I’d chalk paint it and if still I didn’t like it, I’d sell it. And what color did I paint it? Raspberry pink.  Remember when I said there’d be no pink just because I had a girl? Yep. Feel free to laugh at me. I’ve embraced pink. The mirror on the vanity bounces light around her room nicely, and Nell loves her “pink desk” – she calls it a desk, and I don’t think my three year old needs to know anything about makeup and vanities, so we’re rolling with it.

raspberry and navy girl's room

painted jenny lind

My approach to decorating kids’ rooms is similar to my approach to the rest of my house – I keep the walls and bigger elements neutral and pretty classic and always include an antique or two (usually in their natural wood tones) in each room and then I have fun with the less expensive pieces. I don’t do theme rooms for kids in the sense that they have a theme comforter, themed artwork, and decals on the wall, but I bring their personality into the rooms in colors and the occasional art piece. Nell LOVES pink – I tolerate it. So, she has a quilt with some raspberry in it – a more tolerable shade of pink for me, but the quilt has lots of other colors that we played up throughout the room. The navy especially helps balance the raspberry for me, and ties Nell’s room in nicely to the rest of the house.  Nell’s bed and furniture are all old and I tend to like more of a mix of old and new in furniture, so I made sure that the patterns in her room were bright and colorful and modern to help keep her room from feeling heavy. Bright white roman shades on her windows also look clean and tailored and keep the feel of the room light.

 

navy raspberry and mint girl's room

 

 

window seat in girl's room

Confession: I never actually sewed the cover for Nell’s window seat, just wrapped the fabric around it – as you can see in the photo above. It’s on my list of things to get to this Fall.

pink mint and navy girl's room

So, that’s our Nell’s room. It’s one of my favorite rooms in our house. It’s also the only room in the house that has any pink in it. I must be going soft :). Tom’s room is my current project – I’m updating his gallery shelves and tweaking the layout a bit to be more functional for our kindergartner. Unbelievable.

Summer

B asked me the other day, “So, do you blog anymore?”.  Uhhh, I guess not, huh? The truth is, these little people of mine are growing like weeds – they demand (and deserve) all of my time and energy, and so no, I don’t really blog anymore. When school rolls around this Fall, I might have time to upload pictures from my phone and camera to recap all we’ve been up to and share some of the updates we’ve made to the house over the last few months, but for now…just checking in to say hello, and then run to get sunscreen on faces for an epic sprinkler run. Happy summer friends, enjoy the rest of it!