Monday, August 19, 2013

Flying Back to Saudi

We had an absolutely amazing time this summer in Washington. It was everything we needed to rejuvenate and come back to Saudi. It was also so good that it was hard to tear ourselves away and agree to fly home. We love our life in Saudi for many reasons but we love Washington so much and it is hard to be torn between two places. But we had to head back and so we got all packed up and off we went.

I surprisingly only had five suitcases and the two carseats (I could have had three more suitcases) but even with all that it was a feat to get through the whole airport process and thankfully my mom and sister were there to help. We got all checked in and then had to say our goodbyes which was so hard. Both kids are at an age now that they know and realize what was happening and Graham was so sad. It  breaks your heart every time and makes you question why are you doing this every time. I finally tore them away and made it to security and they cried the entire wait, it was heartbreaking. Thankfully after security we had a train ride to our terminal which helped Graham and then I went and bought them each a toy to help distract them. We were at the airport way too early and so it was hard to entertain them and they went through their "dinner" I packed before we even got on the flight which worried me but they did great entertaining each other and waiting.

We finally boarded and got all settled and the kids started on some activities while we waited for boarding to finish up.

And then we were off on our about 14.5 hour flight home, a 7 hour layover and then a 90 minute flight to Bahrain and then a two hour drive home! I was hoping that this flight would go smoothly with us taking off around 6:00 PM. My goal was movies, dinner, change into PJ's, another movie and then bedtime and it worked perfectly! The kids had a hard time getting settled and finding enough space to fall asleep but when they did they were out and slept the entire flight! I woke them up around breakfast time so they could eat and they were in pleasant moods and it went so well. I had ordered gluten free meals for the kids but was nervous it would be stuff they would eat but all the meals they had were delicious and they ate everything :) After breakfast we changed into our clothes, played for a little bit and then landed.

Since we had a 7 hour layover I got a hotel room in the Dubai airport and we had someone meet us from the hotel at the gate and help get us there. We got to our room, ordered some food, showered, the kids played, and then they watched movies in bed so I could nap. We packed it all up and went to our next flight and were all doing great.

The second flight was a little rough but nothing bad. For one, it was delayed taking off so the kids fell asleep which wasn't ideal since I knew it was only a quick flight. They refused to sleep at the hotel and now they crashed. I was fine with them sleeping but it was knowing that waking up would be rough and that they had to wake up when we landed because I couldn't manage our three bags and carrying two sleepy kids through the airport. I got them awake....they were mad....and whiny but I got them walking through the airport, through passports and to baggage claim...somehow. We got all our bags super quick, the porter was actually helpful this time and we headed out to find daddy which was the best part. Both kids dropped their bags and ran to him which was awesome. 

We then packed up the car and headed home to deal with a long night of jet lag! Thankfully John was able to take a half day the next day so he helped stay up late with them so I could sleep and then helped me in the morning unpack and get a little settled. Then he headed to work at noon and we went for a nap only to wake up at 5:30 PM. Oh jet was super rough this time for everyone. It took almost two weeks. It was no fun! But our trip home this summer was and the flights were great and I will take rough jet lag over rough flights any day!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Home Sweet "Needs So Much Work" Home....

We spent much of our summer working on our house and in the process falling more and more in love with it! We are so thankful to have found that house and love the area, the home, our neighbors and are very excited to continue to renovate and eventually live there and make lots of memories in that home!

The first major project that I managed to do by myself was rip up the carpet downstairs to see what kind of condition our wood floors were in. The kids helped by being the staple and nail police and pointing them out so I could find them and then we all pulled the carpet and pad pieces to the garage. The kids were awesome helpers and I was so proud of myself for getting that carpet gone! The floors are in really good condition. There are some spots in the living room where old radiators were that we will need to find some wood for but other than that they are in great condition, especially the bedrooms. I am so excited to have then refinished!


Next project after the carpet was some fireplace demolition! The current gas insert was way too small and look not proportional to the rest of the fireplace mantel and it was also improperly installed, didn't have a safety shut off valve and it made more sense to have a new one properly installed. I met with the fireplace guy, picked out an insert and then started to demo out the old tile which was a beautiful cream with pink flowers on it. After demolition of the tile I realized that they had poured a cement block to make the opening smaller and if I ripped that out I could have an even bigger insert installed. So, I measured it out, made sure it would work with clearance requirements and after getting the ok from the fireplace guy, I ripped it out as well. I did all this before John got there and was super proud of my demo abilities!


Once John arrived we tiled the backsplash and hearth, which thankfully my mom gave us a crash course in tiling! It looks good and we managed but I am not sure if we are up to the bathroom project which is heavy tiling...might need to contract that out :) We then got the insert installed and it looks amazing! And we will have heat in the winter...safely!


We also tiled the front entry...we still need to add trim around the tiled areas but will wait until we are done with refinishing the floors.

We also had a painting party with my mom and sister and painted the living room from a beige brown color all over to crisp white bead board and grey on the top. And we installed new blinds. All that is left in the living room is new floor vent covers, refinish floors, new front door, new light fixture....and some furniture...not much :)

After with new paint still need to finish some trim, and the floors and lighting!
We had a tankless water heater installed....not exciting but it solved the issue of an improperly vented water heater fixing I think the last major safety issue in the house.

The other safety issue that was fixed was the stairs. The spacings between the spindles at the top were too far apart and so that was an issue and it was just ugly. They had three different patterns of spindles going on, tons of railings going here and there and it needed to be uniformed. We started this project in December and realized we were in over our head. We left it and dreaded finishing it this summer. You can imagine the relief and gratefulness when my dad and uncle offered to finish it for me before John got there. My uncle was a carpenter and has tons of experience in finishing houses and doing very detailed and beautiful work. It took them a whole day (which means it would have taken us FOREVER) and it looks beautiful!

Before it had mismatched spindles...different ones on the top and then heading down. Two different posts, the square ones up top which are most craftsman style and then the more traditional ones on the bottom and it was so crowded with multiple and not needed railings. 
After....spindles are uniform, we removed the redudant railing leading up on the one side by fixing the posts between the stairs and the ceiling to create a barrier. The stairs were so narrow on that side it made no sense to have a railing anyway. We fixed the spacing on the top with matching spindles and posts so we achieved uniformity. We removed the stick on tread things as when we finally paint the stairs we have sticky paint adidtive to achieve the same need. Still need to paint the stairs and the railings. It seems like such a quick project but needs to be primed, painted the white and then painted the dark grey for the treads and all the while making sure that it is done when no one needs to go up and down. Someday it will get done but already it looks so much better!

We still need to add a board on the side and paint but it is so much nicer. And we have new carpet up there as well which makes it look nicer!

We worked on the kids rooms which was a change from my original plan. We didn't plan on doing that but felt that the kids would do better working on and being at the house with their own spaces. So we decided to finish out the upstairs and do the playroom, their rooms, new carpet and their bathroom so it was a livable and comfortable space. We also added window safety guards on all the windows so it was safe for them to be up there since the windows are low to the ground because it is an attic conversion with low ceilings. Both of their rooms don't look too bad in the before pictures but the carpet was different than the playrooms, the walls were a dingy grey/brown and the baseboards were an off white. It didn't look bad but not great.

Peyton wanted purple in her room so we did light purple with darker polka dots painted on by my mom. She picked out her striped duvet from Pottery Barn Kids and we added accents of teal here and there found in Target. I found her nightstand at a thrift shop and plan on painting it purple and with some accents/designs on it. She loves her room and it made it so bright and bigger in there.


Then it was onto Graham's Room. Here it is Peyton's it doesn't seem bad but it had gross carpet and also just dingy colored paint.

Graham's room is transportation themed with bedding from Pottery Barn Kids. I found his bed at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store and spray painted it red. It was only $20 total for the paint and the bed! I found license plates from Craigslist and then some of the other accents off of Etsy. My mom is painting him a painting for above his book case and we got a wooden model airplane to hang from his ceiling but it arrived just before I left so I wasn't able to hang it.

We finished touchups on the playroom paint (we removed the wallpaper at Christmas), added new light fixtures and it was ready to go. Especially with the new blinds and carpet it made a huge difference.

Here it was before....wasn't it beautiful....not....

And here it is after....this also shows the new carpet which is so much nicer as it is a prettier color, texture and it is the same across all three rooms upstairs.


The next project was the kids bathroom upstairs. Here it is really wasn't bad but the wall paper was dingy and pealing at parts and it needed fresh paint. We have been debating later on remodeling totally and adding space to it so we decided to just do a quick cosmetic update instead of putting too much money into it right now and for the most part that is all it really needed.

The kids bathroom had new wallpaper installed by John. It is a yellow/white graphic square print that just makes it feel fresh and bright in there.  We changed out the toilet seat that was gross. I also ended up changing the sink faucet since we had tons of credit to Lowes from some returns and decided I could do it myself. It took a couple trips to return parts but I figured it out and we have a nice new faucet. We added new towel bars etc and it is almost done. I am painting/refinishing the tub which I didn't get to finish this time and also hang a new mirror (on the floor right now) and then buy towels etc but for the most part it is done.


We also tackled some landscaping in the front and back which was so much fun mostly because there are so many options for plants here that grow so well. My mom had to keep reminding me to not plant too much because it grows so fast and easily. We also planted a fruit garden with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. I am looking forward to many summers working in our yard! This year sometime we are putting down some pavers for a nice patio area and that will help complete the backyard!

So, as you can see we had a busy and productive summer at our house! We are loving seeing it come together and fall more in love with the home and area the more we are there. We are so incredibly thankful to be able to have this home and work on it and look forward to the day when we will be able to reside there all the time. We got a ton done over the summer but have so much more to do and I always joke with John that even when we finish our list I am sure this will be a never ending to do project but we are loving it and it has always been my dream to live in an older historic home and area! So blessed!