My mom tried extremely hard to instill in her children a good habit of cleanliness and knowledge of how to keep a proper home. Her weekly chore list of "clean the bathroom mirror", "shine the faucets", and "use the vacuum hose to clean the corners of each room" was certainly intended to raise up responsible adults with a flair for tidiness.
Dave and I have lived in this house for over a year, and I don't think I had ever cleaned the bathroom mirror, shined the faucets, or used the vacuum hose to clean the corners of each room a single time.
That changed last week. We are in the process of adopting two sisters, ages 12 and 14, from our local foster care system. We have been visiting with the girls for a few months now, but this past weekend they came to our home for the first time. I spent all of last week trying to channel every bit of cleaning wisdom my mom had ever given me--I wanted the house to be absolutely spotless (because obviously 12- and 14-year-olds really care about clean houses). I even washed the windows inside and out (which, Dave pointed out, I had not done since we moved in, which explains why I had to wash them twice before they were sparkly). Did you know that the little tracks on windows get super gross and full of dead bugs if you don't clean them for a year? Ick. From now on, I promise to clean more thoroughly than my habit of "vacuuming sometimes" and "intermittent sweeping."
I haven't shown off our little home since we first moved in, so I am taking the opportunity of this unprecedented cleanliness to show off what we've done with the place in the past year (other than the kitchen--it looks nearly identical). We have made some pretty big changes as we prepare for adding more members to the family.
Clearly, I have not grow up to be a responsible adult with a flair for tidiness (yet). My mother's dedication to cleanliness did not make the jump into my blood, but I like to think that I inherited her lovely affinity for acquiring interesting and strange dust collectors.
My Janet Echelman print is one of the few pieces of art hanging in our home that I didn't create--wall space is scarce with all the gorgeous windows, and the remaining walls act as storage space for my paintings. Echelman is one of my favorite living artists. Earlier this year she ran a kickstarter for her project Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks and offered a few limited-edition, signed screenprints to supporters. While I was never a big fan of kickstarter, this project changed my mind. I am very thankful that an artist of Echelman's genius chose to fund her art through this medium; there would be no fathomable opportunity where I would be able to procure her work without this method of funding. To daily experience a piece of her art in such an intimate way is a huge deal for me.
Every little thing in our home has a very personal story. While it would please me greatly to endlessly document the tales of each trinket and bone pictured, I'm afraid the pleasure would be entirely mine. I will say that the middle shadowbox housing Dave's baby glasses is a favorite of mine. Dave wore his first pair of glasses when he was only 18 months old; each of his childhood photographs is more adorable than the next.
I think there is a wide gap between the impressions "we are getting things ready for you to move into our house" and "we have been waiting and preparing for you, and we are ready." I was determined to have the girls' room prepared before they ever set foot in the house.
The sisters had described their dream room to us--Fourteen requested blue and black, and while Twelve agreed with the color choice, she immediately asked for a big line straight down the middle of the room. Linden made the drive down from Orlando two weeks in a row to help (she is already such a good auntie!) to help paint the room and assemble furniture. Wise Riley, who is of similar age as the girls Dave and I are adopting, told me that I should make sure each girl has her own nightstand with a drawer and her own dresser.
We hung Ikea's magic wire from the ceiling around each bed to create a little fortress of solitude for each girl. They can just close the curtains if they don't want to look at each other. The curtains are cheap full-size sheets with a small, geometric print--one sheet was the perfect size to cover the long side of the bed ceiling, and half of another full sheet covers the ends. While the pattern and color options are limited, low-quality sheets are much less expensive than buying yardage of fabric for a project like this, and sewing is kept to a minimum--only the two cut edges for the end curtains needed hemming.
There was no plan beyond blue and black walls, but as Linden and I finished our simple painting around 8pm, everything seemed too plain and too dark. A quick brainstorm and google search for geometric walls sent us back to Home Depot for more paint and tape.
We began by freehandedly taping off large triangles and separating those triangles into smaller shapes (I am proud to say that we also did a test area to see if our chosen colors were the correct hues--a younger me would have thrown caution to the wind). The thrill of putting triforces all over the wall was exhilarating for a Zelda fan like I am. Once we were happy with the design, we painted over all the tape with the existing wall color to ensure crisp, clean lines. Ah, the midnight oil! It coursed through our veins!
Linden masterfully marked out the plan for our three shades of blue so that no two shapes of the same color would touch. After 4am and two coats of each hue, we gleefully ripped the tape off the wall and admired our work.
Our bedroom is pretty lame compared to how awesome the girls' room turned out to be. Dave and I don't spend a ton of time in the room, and it has become a mish-mosh of furniture and things that don't really fit anywhere else in the house and don't really match. I do love the enormous clock over our bed, which, although acquired from a local thrift shop, I suspect has a stately history of hanging in a bank or train station and alerting the fine men and women of the midcentury that they really must be moving along with their day if they want to get to the manager's meeting on time.
We also have Minecraft torch lights flanking the doorway to Dave's little office cubby, and really, what adult bedroom is complete without functional video game paraphernalia?
This little project is the only real reason I included our otherwise lackluster bedroom. If you have a tablet and use that tablet while in bed, this is the best invention. Following the tutorial found on Instructables, this broken desk lamp became a fully articulated stand for my iPad. Now I just lay in bed and whisk the screen directly into my eyeline, wherever it may be, and lazily watch Gilmore Girls or TED talks. Sometimes I play games without worrying that I will fall asleep and drop the iPad onto my face and wake myself up crying from iPad-in-my-eye pains.
The girls came to the house for the first time on Saturday, and they loved our home and their bedroom. We are so excited for them to become a permanent part of our family--now that they have been here and filled our walls with their laughter and sassiness, the house feels a little bit empty without them.