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Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Great Basement Makeover

I have always been one who believed that summer is the time to take on projects (which probably also explains why I think VBS is God's gift to homeschooling moms).  When my kids were little, the projects were things like filing papers and purging outgrown clothes and overabundant toys (ALL of which still need to be done regularly, but now the kids can help).  Now, my projects are a little...ummm...larger.

The first project this summer was The Great Bedroom Swap, which I have already blogged about and is really wonderful now that it's done.  It's amazing how our old room (the girls' new room) had 5 windows and our new one has 3, but it's SOOO much lighter...and the rooms are side by side!  But I digress...

The second project has been The Great Basement Makeover.  See, in FL people don't have basements because the aquifer (our source of drinking water) is very close to the surface, and if you dig a basement, it's likely to be underwater.  But we are built into the side of a hill, and our basement is really at ground level on one side of the house.  So we have a basement.  A 1200 square foot basement.  Yes, you read that right-it's actually larger than our first house.  And when we moved in...Oh! The plans we had for it!  But I was pregnant with baby #3, and my other kids were 3 and 1 at the time, so the reality was anything that got put down there (which was anything I did not have a definitive place for in the house) stayed down there, untouched for years. 10 years. 

I mean, sure, we went down there.  For a brief period, maybe even a year, part of it was actual usable space.  But really, our trips down there were mostly to bring up Christmas decorations in December and put them down again in January.  Or to put a box of outgrown clothes down there for the next sibling or retrieve one for a child in need.  And the answer to ANYTHING that we were given didn't have a home?  Put it in the basement.

But the rub is that we live in an old house, and there is no storage space.  Each passing year saw more and more homeschool supplies and longer and longer school days meaning the dining "room" (really a large area outside the kitchen that you have to pass through to get to EVERY other room in the house) was constantly cluttered, sometimes the table was buried, and we were running out of places to put things like globes and microscopes, etc.  And all of that is just crazy when you have 1200 sq ft sitting right below you being used for absolutely nothing important.  And sooooo, this summer finally brought The Great Basement Makeover.

I have no true "before" pictures.  See, when I first began my work down there about 2 weeks ago, I started in a small room I call "my room" because I used it to house all my craft supplies, and all the gifts I shop for year round for special occasions for others or for my own kids' holidays.  Well, when I started moving things in "my room", I found (if you are eating right now, stop reading...really) 50,000 maggots.  Okay, not really 50,000, but probably well over 100.  And I popped every. Single. ONE.  And they aer what they me on this.  The stench was indescribable.  Combined with the subtle stench of something that had clearly died somewhere behind a wall (hence the maggots) and the high humidity (this is summer in FL after all) and the lack of air conditioning, and it has been one truly nasty experience.  There just are not words...and I was a little to busy to take pictures- you wouldn't have wanted to see them anyway-trust me.

So I cleaned it all up, and mopped the floor with bleach water, and wiped the walls with bleach water, and we used expandable foam to plug the gap where we think the critter died, but wouldn't you know it...

About a week later, it was like Lord of the Flies.  I mean, we went from no flies to flies thick enough that you didn't walk down there with your mouth open in one day flat.  It was beyond description, except to say it was disgusting.  They would land on your hair...on your body...ewwwww....

So my son Scott and I went on a killing spree...and that night The Hubs brought home 10 fly tapes.  We hung 7 downstairs and 2 upstairs (one broke right in the container).  And I did take some before pictures then, so if you look close, you can probably see flies whizzing by. ( You can definitely see them on the fly strip!)  And today, I took some "during" photos for comparison.  Be very prepared to see a colossal mess.

 You can't fully appreciate how many flies are on this is covered all the way around.  And there are 6 more just like it.

 Here is the far side of the basement in its "before" state.

And here is the "during".  I have to paint the walls, so not much is actually in place yet, but all 3 desks and workbox shelves will go here.

 This will be my "office" area- my desk, file cabinets, a bookshelf, etc.  Plus my photography props.

Here's the "during".  I'm painting the walls a "pumpkin" color, which is really looking more "Creamcicle".  Unfortunately, we had some water seep in from the outside along the front wall (to the right), so I have to wait to finish painting until we paint on some "Dry Lock".

 This will be the arts and crafts area.  There are 2 sinks over here- one is the white thing you can see on the right and one is under all those suitcases.  Can you believe we NEVER looked inside those cabinets?  Ever?  Not even once since we moved in?  They have all sorts of outdated lighting fixtures we now have to purge.

Here's the "during", which isn't quite fair because it shows a different view of the space.  From here, all that sink area is to the right.  This corner DID house all my Christmas and holiday decorations, but now will have all the art and craft supplies AND science experiment stuff.  The sink area is a mess right now with craft stuff that needs a home on these shelves (just haven't gotten that far-only one of me- although the Magician's wife, who has a great eye for what should go where, came over to day and helped me organize my space and my thoughts...she also did more than her fair share of heavy lifting ;-)

 Above and below is "my little room" which will now just be the storage room.  I have no before pics-this was the flies' favorite hangout spot- but it's relatively done now.  I was going to paint the walls, but decided not to because the paint I was going to use (that we already had) went bad, and it's money and time I didn't need to spend to paint in there.  This houses all our Christmas and holiday stuff, camping supplies, canning supplies, clothes that was waiting for the littles to grow into them, and on the wooden shelves, gifts waiting to be given, Easter baskets, pictures, mementos, and antique rocking chair in need of repair, and lots of other things to be gone through when I get the chance.  We think the door to this room is in another part of the basement, and we may put it back on to keep inquiring minds out of the presents!

 And above, this is the area you enter into when you first come down the stairs.  It will be our reading area, but obviously the mess had to go.

 Of course, to move the white plastic shelves, they had to be emptied, and so now the pool table is covered!  I can move all that once I paint the walls so the bookshelf can actually be loaded with books.  Below is a glimpse of what it will look like (minus the speaker, LOL).

Below is what my husband's project was all day long.  Before we moved in, they had installed a drop ceiling down here.  But the ceiling is LOW, and we are tall, and the drop ceiling was clausterphobic, not to mention it really meant if you were over 6 ft.  you hit the ceililng.  See the picture below this one?  That's my fingers marking how tall I am, and the white metal bar shows how close the ceiling was to me.  We got the ceiling tiles taken out months ago when we had electrical work done adn needed to access the wiring, but the grid came down today...I could not be more excited- I wish I had a picture.  I'll get on though.

See all that junk below?  That's all The Hub's stuff.  It's 9 computers, 2 monitors, a printer, 2 BOXES of cables, several boxes of books, and tons of miscellaneous computer parts (he works on computers for a living).  He has to go through all this, so I just put it all in one place for him :-).

Okay, that's it for now...I have to get to bed!
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Destination Disney- The Letter E

Heidi at RRR is continuing her alphabetical theme for Destination Disney.  This week's letter is "E". 
For as important as vowels are to our language, they aren't always easy when it comes to finding things that are Disney related that start with them :-)  Here's what Heidi had to say:
Use the Letter E as your inspiration. Some starter ideas --- Epcot, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Electrical Water Pageant, ESPN Wide World of Sports, Expedition Everest – and the list goes on and on and on . . . E might sound like an intimidating letter, but I know you can come up with something for this week!
So go, get busy! Post those Letter E things on your blog (with pictures, if you can) – then come back here and link up! I’ll link up my post too!

So here is what I've come up with so far:

 Egret at AK

 Eagle at AK



 The ELP returns, complete with Elliot



 Eeyore's Gloomy Place

Two "E" boys (If you know the real me, then you understand).  You really must click on the picture, my son's face is pretty hysterical.  Waiting on Everest riders and having to watch a 5 year old eat ice cream while you have none because your mom is too mean to buy you some was causing him some teenage angst.
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Our Recent Audio Books

Funny that my friend Marie just posted about what her family has been reading (and listening to), but I had already been planning on listing these, so I will, even if I look like a copy-cat :-).

On our trip we began with The Boy of Mt Rhigi, which is a Lamplight Audio Drama...but because we drove through the night, I slept through parts of it and the kids slept through all of it, and so we need to listen to it again.

Next up was The Mysterious Benedict Society, which was really good, and my kids really liked it, but it is not very fast paced, and the reader's voice is mellow enough that it wasn't the best choice for combating road fatigue when you are driving across the county. 

Then we listened to Esperanza Rising, which was fantastic.  I'd totally recommend it to everyone.  What a great and interesting glimpse into migrant work camps all wrapped up in a very enjoyable fiction story. 

While we were listening to that, Mimi and Sari listened to The Sherlock Files- The 100 year old secret.  The boys have listened to it since we got home.  They all said it was really good, but I still need to listen.  It's about some kids who discover they are related to Sherlock Holmes and are drawn into solving a mystery from 100 years ago.

We also listened to Bread and Roses Too, which was about factory workers and their horrid conditions, and the different factions that worked in factories and what happens with a strike.  It was very interesting and enjoyable, if not quite as masterfully written as Esperanza Rising.

We also took some Magic Tree House books (17-24) with us on CD and those filled in nicely when we had lulls.

The last book was the third in a series that we have read; The Penderwicks at Point Mouette.  We love the Penderwicks :-).  I must say, the preoccupation of one character with love was a little bit of a detractor, but otherwise, the story was great and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it.

So there you have it...books to cross the country on :-)
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who doesn't love FREE?

Read It Online Today!

The Old Schoolhouse magazine is giving away their Summer Digital Edition for FREE.  All you have to do is click on THIS LINK.  There are no strings attached-no registration required, no e-mail to input.  Just click and start reading!
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Destination Disney-The Letter D

My friend Heidi at RRR hosts the Destination Disney Meme.  She has been focusing on letters of the alphabet, and I've had the best intentions of participating, but haven't gotten around to it until now, and wouldn't you know it...I don't have many pictures for the letter D!

Here's Heidi's explanation:
As we move through the alphabet on our Destination Disney journey, we’re ready for the Letter D this week.


Use the Letter D as your inspiration. Some starter ideas --- DinoLand USA, Disney dining, DisneyQuest, DiVine, Downtown Disney – and the list goes on and on and on (especially considering that this whole meme is inspired by the biggest D of all – Walt DISNEY!). . .

So go, get busy! Post those Letter D things on your blog (with pictures, if you can) – then come back here and link up! I’ll link up my post too!
So, here are my thoughts on the letter D:
At the Magic Kingdom, we love the Dapper Dans.  And we love them even more because our pastor Doug (really, how perfect is that for D week) is a sub with them.  Come on, tell me you could resist the chance to take a picture of your tap dancing pastor???  (He's the one in light blue.)

At Epcot, the kids love to do the Kim Possible missions in the World Showcase.  The one below took them to the Mexico pavilion where they learned about the Day of the Dead.

And we love the fountain with the Dancing Waters:

You couldn't do the letter D without a picture of Donald.  While the picture below is of my youngest daughter, he is the first character I had MY picture taken with as a child, and I still have a Donald glass that I got at Disneyland as a child!  And here's some trivia for you...Donald is the only one of the "Fab Five" to have a middle name...what is it?  (Here's a will fit in with next week's DD theme.)
 Here's the same daughter with our favorite Donkey...Eeyore!
 And last but not least is this amazing Dragon that was in China for the Flower and Garden Festival.  There was one animal for each sign in the Chinese Zodiac.  I'm not sure if they are always there?  I didn't remember seeing them before.

The first place we saw the new Doors on the trams was at Animal Kingdom.

And of course you have to mention Dinoland USA. Here's Mimi pretending to ride her dino as if it was a bucking bronco.

Oh, and you can't forget about Duffy (so forgive the hop back over to Epcot for this picture)...who doesn't love a bear that even a 13 year old boy will pose with!

At Hollywood Studios, on our last visit before our passes expired, we saw Fantasmic.  It had been years since we'd seen it, and we had front row seats.  All the Disney characters are in it...even the Dwarfs!

And in Animation, you can learn to draw different Disney characters.  That evening, Donald was the one they were teaching.  Here's TJ with his:

Below is a fun picture of TJ with Dinosaur Gertie :-)

At Downtown Disney, the kids really like to go to the World of Disney store and try on the hats.  This is Mimi's friend with a Dwarf on her head.

Lastly, at the barn at Fort Wilderness, there is a horse named Dutch.  We had the chance to take a field trip out there last year, and it was wonderful.

Anyway, those are just a few of the "D" things we enjoy at Disney.  If you'd like to see some of the D things other people came up with, go HERE.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011


So remember that dog that showed up on our doorstep...

She is sooooo good with the kids...

And soooo sweet...

But when it comes to our yard and to animals smaller than she is, she is destructo-dog, and I think she has to go, which makes me very sad.  But she has attacked our chickens and eaten, yes EATEN, a hole in the coop.  She also destroyed the net of our brand new trampoline :-(.  And she's a runner.  She escapes at every opportunity, and since our house's placement on our corner lot does not allow for the backdoor to open directly into the fenced yard, she has the opportunity to escape every time she goes in and out, which she does...and heaven forbid she spies a cat as she escapes because she can chase them for MILES, and jump half way up a tree to get them.  And she's a digger.  She dug out of the fence the first day, and our yard is one big dirt pile now.  Oh, and she's desperate to be loose in the house, but our other dog can't be (at 3 years old, he still pees on the furniture) so she WHINES while she is inside, and going out and coming in, she searches without prejudice for our kitten and yanks your arm out of socket trying to get her if she sees her.  But I still feel like a quitter, even though the dog wasn't even ours.  And I hate that if I take her to the pound they will likely put her down because she has some bull terrier in her.  Anyone local know of someone who lives on acreage who does not have small animals (although kids are okay) and is looking for a dog?

Here are some of the pictures of her destructive acts.  Keep in mind that is 1/2 inch galvanized steel mesh that she ate through to get to the chickens.

The square board on the bottom of the coop is covering the hole she ate into it...the picture below this shows the hole from the inside.

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