Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How we're sleeping and a few goings on

So we are about 2/3 of the way through May, and therefore 2/3 of the way through our monthly challenge of going to bed early. Friends, we are failing miserably! We were doing fine for the first week or so, then one night we switched off the TV at 11, then proceeded to shop online for lamps until midnight. Great success on the lamp front, but then everything just sort of derailed from there. The thing is that we just don't like having an earlier bedtime. It makes us grumpy. We just don't have time to do the things we had planned for the evening, and that creates stress, which seems unnecessary before bed. So for now I'm torn between calling the whole thing a fiasco and giving into the fact that we are just night owls by nature, or doubling our efforts to get this whole challenge back on track before the month is up. We'll see!

Sliding into the future!

What else have we been up to? Well, Espen "graduated" from Joy School, and it was the cutest little event ever. My favorite part (besides the singing, which was hilariously cute) was when each little graduate received their diploma and then slid down the slide into the future. Definitely a preschooler favorite!
The Graduate.
I also loved their graduation caps. If you look closely, you'll see that they're made of  styrofoam bowls, card and yarn! Miss Stepper is, without a doubt, a creative genius, and we are so very lucky to have her for Espen's very first teacher. And I can't believe Espen has completed a school year already!!!

Last Saturday was May 17th, which is Norway's national holiday, and so we headed up to Salt Lake for the annual celebration. While not exactly a carbon-copy of what you might see if you were actually in Norway for May 17th, it captures the flavor and gives us a chance to eat Norwegian food and to dress our kids up in their national costumes.

Granny knitted this!
Gwen had outgrown her bunad (national costume) from last year, so my mum very obligingly knitted her a new one. Isn't it adorable? It actually has a little knitted white top to go under the dress, but I just didn't have the heart to make Gwen wear it in 80 degree weather, so put her in a white cotton onesie instead. She's a bit pink cheeked, but was a total trooper. Fun fact: my mum used the same pattern to knit me the same bunad over 30 year ago. You don't happen to have a picture handy, do you Mummy?

We bought Espen's bunad when we were in Norway last year, and I think, if we're lucky, that we can maybe squeeze a third year out of it next year. They don't wear them very much (once or twice a year), so it's nice to get our money's worth. Isn't he handsome, though?!? I love a man in knee socks. 

And in other news, we've booked our plane tickets to Norway! We leave July 2nd and get back on the 25th, which means that not only do we get just over three weeks in Norway, I also get to spend my birthday there with my family, which hasn't happened for 10 years. Very excited! I've been hungry for some Norwegian summer, so here's crossing everything we have for three weeks of glorious sunshine, firing up the grill, eating strawberries and swimming at the lake, and hopefully not three solid weeks of rain, which is probably much more likely, if what I see people posting on Facebook is anything to go by. Run on sentence! 

And that's how we're doing! How about you? 

Monday, May 12, 2014

House tour: Guest room

Happy Monday! Did you Americans have a good Mother's Day yesterday? I certainly did! I really slept in, then my cute little family brought me breakfast in bed with a side of cards and presents. Then Nick did double duty with the kids for the rest of the day (including making a gorgeous dinner!) so I really felt pampered and special. I hope your day was lovely too, regardless of your mothering status. Oh, and did you see this?

So, I thought I'd continue the house tour I'm doing and show you the guest room in its current state. I try really hard not to fuss and style and stage too much when I take these house tour shots, but rather think of them as giving a visiting friend a personal tour of the house. So bear in mind that all of these rooms are actual rooms that our family lives in, rather than something gorgeously styled for a photo shoot.

All disclaimers aside, this is where we would put you if you were to grace our home with an overnight stay:

It's kind of a funky little room with its slanted ceilings, big window and relatively small foot print, so we went with a similarly funky color scheme of yellow and teal/turquoise which (I think!) works well with the greige walls and browny grey trim (Benjamin Moore's Sparrow, if you were wondering). I feel like it's bright, fun and welcoming, as well as a good balance of masculine and feminine, so everyone should feel fairly at home.

Because the colors are pretty bright, we've been able to go with some fairly fun furnishings too, like the two mismatched teal nightstands and the even more mismatched lamps on top of them. It was quite the hunt to track down two cute lamps in the colors we wanted for a price we were willing to pay (why are lamps so expensive? Why?), so I was pretty happy when we found those two, especially the yellow one which just makes my heart happy. It's just so happy! There's also a teal trash that didn't make it into the pictures, but you can see it here.

We paired all the bright colors with some solid dark wood bookshelves in an attempt to ground the room a little so it doesn't completely go off into lala-land. I really like how the dark brown wood looks with the teal especially. The framed picture on the right of the picture above ties all the colors together nicely.

 Once upon a time my mother made the comment that being a guest is always a bit like camping, so I immediately made up my mind that being a guest at my house would be as un-camping like and comfortable as we can possibly manage. Challenge accepted! Here are a few of my ideas:

  • Give your guests as much space for themselves and their stuff so they don't feel like they're in the way. In our guest room that means that there is space in the closet for them to hang their clothes and stash a suitcase, as well as an empty nightstand. We also keep a luggage rack behind the door for guests to put a bag or suitcase on. 
  • Blackout shades. No one really wants to be woken up by the sun streaming through their window at 6:30 or kept awake by passing cars. Ours are also easy to operate and can let in light at the top or the bottom while still allowing privacy. 
  • A floor fan. For some reason our guest room is the warmest room in the house, so it's nice to know that guests can cool off if necessary. 
  • I also keep a stack of blankets in the closet in case they feel cold. 
  • I keep a set of teal towels (not pictured, because they are currently in the washing machine) that are exclusively used by guests. No one else in our family has towels that color, and because they visually tie into the guest room guests can feel confident that they are theirs. Towel ownership ambiguity is never good. 
  • I think it's nice to give guests something to do in their room, so we keep a couple of bookshelves in there with a pretty broad variety of books, including a couple of local guide books to give them an idea of what they might like to see while they're in town. A few magazines on the nightstand are nice too. 
  • Their own trash can. It's nice if they know where they can empty it too. Some things you just don't need your host to know about!
  • I'm still on the lookout for a good one for our guest room, but a mirror is always nice. 
  • A little dish or tray for corralling jewelry, change, etc. 
  • And for extra special guests (like my mum) I like to add some fresh flowers and a treat like a little candy dish. NOT like camping. 

So that's our guest room! It still needs a few touches like that mirror I mentioned, and a headboard for crying out loud (I like this one from World Market, but don't want to spend the money. It shouldn't be too hard to recreate, right?), as well as some curtains and a bit more art on the walls, but other than that, it's a pretty comfy little spot for a few friends to relax.

When can we expect you?

 Resource guide: 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Health challenge for May: Go to bed!

Moon photography by my lovely spouse. 
So, while I technically started this post yesterday, I got distracted by something (shiny? Squirrel? Shiny squirrel?) and didn't actually finish it until today, even though I said I'd post it yesterday. Do you still love me? You do, don't you? You're awesome. Anyway:

Like so many parents of small children before us, Nick and I are in the middle of the tired years. The years of chasing busy little bodies around all day, and then collapsing in a heap of exhaustion on the couch before crawling into bed ourselves for a (hopefully uninterrupted!) night's sleep and getting up and doing it all over again the next day. And that's OK. It's the season of life that we are in right now. I've heard that there will be more sleep at some point in the future, and I can live for a long time on that promise. (NO disillusioning comments about staying up all night with teenagers, please.)

What's not so OK is the fact that we cheat ourselves of about an hour of sleep just about every night just so we can stay up and watch another episode (or three) of New Girl. It's dumb, because it just makes us tired the next day when the kids, but it's a pattern we've fallen into and stayed in for.. years? Coincidentally (or not), it's also a problem I've been trying to solve for years. See?

This time around, though, I've enlisted the help of my long-suffering and extremely supportive husband, Nick, to give this getting enough sleep thing another try. Here is our extremely simple plan:

For the month of May, we will give ourselves an actual bedtime, and go to bed at 11 PM on weeknights, with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays. That's all.

I'm curious to see if we find that we have more energy, and if so, what effect that will have on our daily lives. I wonder if we'll just enjoy getting a bit more sleep, or if we will begin to shift our day and get up earlier in response to going to bed earlier.

I know I'll be grumpy about it. I have always been a night owl (or a nightgown, as auto correct suggests) and just don't like giving up me-time or us-time, even in exchange for sleep-time. And between Netflix, Amazon and our DVR, there's always something I want to watch "just one" more episode of. But as it turns out, I do actually have a little bit (quite a lot!) of self-control, so I really think we can do it!