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Summer Fun: Water Balloons

Dear Photography Diary,

It's about to go down ...

B-12. Miss.


Their expressions in this next bit crack me up!

He gave up on popping it over his head and pounced on it instead.

Who knew $3 worth of water balloons could be so fun?!

How To Paint A Popcorn Ceiling + Renovation Update

Dear Renovation Diary,
The home-buying process exposes one to some very interesting trends of the past, like ...
Our Split was built in 1992, and though the home had all of the main points we were looking for (attached garage, kids have their own rooms, open concept, large yard), the decade of its construction was alive and well.
We opted to paint the ceilings a crisp white to help lighten the space, instead of scraping it off. This decision still requires a process and plenty of technique though, because painting a popcorn ceiling can be a bit tedious.
How to paint a popcorn ceiling:
If the texture gets too wet, it will fall off.
So, you can only paint one swipe of the roller at a time, one coat at a time. Miss a spot? Cover with the next coat. Avoid painting the same area twice in a row. Make sure the previous coat is completely dry before applying the next.
Landen's ceiling is currently awaiting its 4th coat of white paint to achieve the coverage I want.
When we moved in back in 2012, the kids were still pretty young. Madelyn had just turned 1, and Landen was 5 (I know, don't even talk to me about how fast time passes); and we wanted to keep the kids together on the same floor. That meant, Landen would sleep in the master. Still, the set-up has proven ideal for them because (when they aren't fighting) they lean on each other during a thunderstorm or when Madelyn has a diabetes episode.
I snapped the above panorama photo of Landen's room once we moved most of his things out. There isn't a whole lot to do here: finish his ceiling, touch-up his blue accent wall and paint the other 3 walls the same gray as Maddie's; replace the baseboards with white ones and install white 6-panel doors. Then, we'll finish decorating his bedroom and hang his wall art.

{It's demo day.}
From there, we'll have to pick from the never-ending to-do list of home updates we've discussed. None of it is major, as we intend to keep the footprint as it is. We've talked about refinishing all of the cabinetry, add fresh paint throughout, and perhaps new wood floors in the kitchen. I want to add wood to the support beam in the great room to warm up the space.
It's a lot of DIY, sweat equity - but if there is one thing I learned as we exorcise renovate our split, calling in the professionals is still considered DIY. Knowing when to step back is just as important a skill as any.

With no lacrosse on the schedule until Sunday evening, this is where you can find me ...

How to Organize the Paper Piles

Dear DIY Diary,

Madelyn's classroom at the daycare has a file box, with each file housed inside labeled with the child's name. It serves as a communication hub as many an important piece of paper has been collected or distributed there.

Truthfully, it was so practical and "everyday" that I barely gave its usefulness a moment's pause, let alone consider how I could apply it to my life. But then ... the piles. THE PILES! The piles of random papers, of mail, of appointment cards - there is a constant pile on my kitchen counter that, despite our best efforts, seemed impossible to defeat.

Or, should I say there was a pile, because when I collected Madelyn's daily documents last week, I had a lightbulb moment:

Pile of clutter, be damned.

There is a file labeled with the name of each family member, a "Mail" file and a "Misc" file. It holds such "action" items as outgoing mail, mail to be sorted, bills I don't have synced online that need to be paid, and forms awaiting completion. The calendar clipped to the front will soon catalog our schedules for the month, and hopefully, help hold us accountable.

It's such a painfully obvious concept of DUH! (at least to me) that I even feel silly for turning its simplicity into a blog post. But then again, I figured I'd share in case you were seeking an "aha!" moment of your own.

Total investment? Less than $18.
I found the mesh file bin at Target for $10.99 (similar from Amazon here) and the (set of 6) hanging files for $5.99. The calendar was part of a magnet sent to us by our realtor, which I adapted for its new purpose.

But staying organized and on top of our necessary tasks? Priceless.

All-American Summer

Dear Diary,

 She was not a happy camper, for reasons unknown.

 But tell her people will toss candy, she'll perk up!

I've been trying to get creative with her hairstyles lately, and this was my first attempt at one of those crown-style french braids. It wasn't perfect, but it did keep her hair up and off her face so I consider that a success!

Handcrafted Swedish Clogs by Sandgrens

Dear Travel Diary,

I felt compelled to share these photos, because at its surface, few things encapsulate Swedish culture like a pair of wooden clogs.

Deep-rooted in tradition and paired with an effortless sensibility that has withstood many a passing trend, there is a factory in Payrd, Sweden that has been making clogs by hand for over 100 years.

And while these iconic wooden shoes seemingly burst onto the international fashion scene in the 1970s, they are making a comeback in closets around the world thanks to sightings of Kate Moss wearing a pair.

As I snapped these images, the master clog maker at Sandgrens was kind enough to yell over the mechanics of his machinery so I knew what he was doing. To consider footwear an art, is a privilege. To have your hand in it, a calling. To stand within the four walls of this place, I may as well had been in a museum.

For this is the first chapter: Christer, fine-tuning and finishing and refining these fine leathers and wooden bases into footwear. Then, it is packaged up and shipped to the doorsteps and storefronts of the world where the second chapter is written. Sweden's influence is immediately felt in the four corners of the world until it is joined with that of the consumer. When a Sandgrens box arrives, a third chapter is written. It harmonizes with the footsteps, the movements, the lifestyle of the wearer. This pulls forward that tradition, only by now, it has been shared with the world. The legacy is everlasting, and I was so honored to witness its "once upon a time."

This is the last of my Sweden recaps, but certainly not the last time I will visit. 

Sprinkler Fun

Dear Photography Diary,

In everything that must be done, there is an element of fun.
We've been watering our lawn at night, and the kids needed to burn off some energy.
So I present to you, a way to kill two birds with one stone ...

A Walk Through Swedish Pines

Dear Travel Diary,

Twice I walked within the pristine forests of Payrd, Sweden. Twice I had my camera with me. And twice, I was reminded of the landscapes of the northern Midwest - where the woods creep up to the roadside, the schedules are less stringent, and the "real world" is but a distant memory.

Until I arrived upon this scene -

Sweden is rich in granite, and there are these massive boulders everywhere you look. It reminded me of the trolls from Frozen (thanks Maddie!) which instantly affirmed the fact I was in a Nordic country.

The path was pretty easy to follow, so though I was alone, I was confident I wouldn't get lost. Plus my camera roll held enough evidence to help retrace my steps!