Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our Little June Vacation

Dear friend and devoted reader, things have certainly picked up here at the Hunter house in the past few months. My Michael left his place of employment of the past 7 years and started a new job. He also applied to, got accepted to, and started graduate school. We thought we were busy before, but things have certainly been crazier than ever these past couple of months.

Allow me to brag a little: My Michael, smartypants that he is, got himself into a pretty good graduate program. He is now working on getting a Masters of Science in the Management of Information Technology from the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce (say that ten times fast--I dare you). The program is geared toward working professionals and is an accelerated program. He'll have his M.S. in M.I.T. completed next August. Wa-hoo!

Now, he doesn't go to class for an hour or two every Tuesday/Thursday or Monday/Wednesday nights; instead he goes a couple of Saturdays a month, a l l d a y l o n g. Usually. In June, he had to report to the campus in Charlottesville, VA for two weeks straight.

Instead of having him drive home Saturday morning and head back to school again Sunday night, we decided to turn a weekend in Virginia into a family
mini-vacation. The kids and I had never been to Charlottesville and we thought it would be a great chance to be together without a ringing kitchen telephone and the responsibilities of home.

After Teensy played in her All-Star baseball game, I loaded up the kids and drove to the hotel where my Michael had been staying. We piled into the hotel room and hit the ground running in the morning.

After a yummy breakfast at a little corner deli, Michael gave us a tour of the University of Virginia's campus. I really thought the campus was beautiful. I am a sucker for brick and the red brick buildings with large white columns surrounded by all the lush greenery sure made for a pretty, pretty campus.

After touring the campus, we headed out to Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Monticello. I have heard many wonderful reviews of other people's visits to Monticello, so I was totally excited to go. My kids weren't sure why they were going to visit some dead guy's house, but Mason quickly became a believer. He found the estate fascinating.
Check out how big the stump of this tree is! Our entire family could have fit inside.

It was a super hot day and Mackenna, especially, started to melt (emotionally and physically) but I think everyone had fun. Monticello has a special family-friendly tour and our tour guide was very good at trying to do hands-on activities to interest the children. There is also a children's Discovery Room with all manner of hands-on exhibits that our kids didn't want to leave!

Teensy and Kenna both loved playing house in the slave quarters of the Discovery Room. I tried to tell them that the real slaves had to sleep on the floor, work all day, etc. but the girls thought it all looked great to them!

Maia had fun working on a loom.

Here's Mason writing with a quill. He was supposed to write his name, but he wrote his catchphrase, "I like pie," instead.

I would love to go back sometime with my Michael to do the regular tour and to visit all the nooks and crannies our kids were too pooped to explore. The scenery around the house itself was stunning; I can only imagine how beautiful all those trees are in the fall!

I will say this: I cannot quite figure out Thomas Jefferson. Certainly, he was a genius innovator. And he no doubt had some great ideas and believed in America. I just don't know how to reconcile all that with the slaves and the slave mistress thing. It boggles my mind.

Anyway, I am glad we got to steal this little weekend away. With all of my Michael's church, work, and now school responsibilities pulling him away and me running kids to piano and baseball back in June, it was awesome to just get away from it all and spend time together as a family.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Room of Shame No More

For years, my Michael has called our bedroom "The Room of Shame." It's always the last room I clean when I clean the house and sometimes (most times/almost all the time--don't judge me) I run out of steam so I don't really do a good job. I have always shut the door to our room when people are coming over because, in truth, I have always been ashamed of anyone seeing what a disaster zone hides behind that door.

My Michael has complained to me, "It just seems like you take anything you don't want people to see and you shove it in our room." BINGO! "That's because that's what I do," I have responded.

In my defense, even when my room was picked up and organized it was nothing to look at--with its four different colors of mismatched adolescent furniture, its flat white walls and its general blah-ness. I never took any pride in my room.

Well, dear friend and devoted reader, I decided to make some changes around here in the master bedroom department.

My Michael had to go away for two weeks and I thought I'd give our bedroom a make-over while he was gone. I thought I'd change everything he hated about our room and even some things he'd never mentioned. In short, I thought I'd play HGTV (one of my favorite pastimes).

When I went to take some "before" pictures, I thought I'd leave things as messy as they were so that the after would look all the more dramatic. Looking back, I see that step was completely unnecessary and I'm more than a little embarrassed to show you the grossness that was my master suite, but alas, that's what I get, I guess.

Without further ado, I present the Before and the After of our space:

Do you like how I didn't even shut the dresser drawers to snap the photo? Cuh-lassy! And do you think we have enough books?

This is my Michael's awesome hand-me-down dresser. The last owner of this small wonder was a two year-old girl, hence, the tulip shaped drawer pulls.

Here is the new view of my side of the room. What? You think this looks better? I mean, it's basically the same, right?

This is my Michael's grown up big boy dresser! Isn't it pretty? And don't you love how Maia's copper embossed art project from school matches the room and looks great in the space? I know I do!

Now, dear friend and devoted reader, please don't think that the Hunter children will not be able to go to college just because their parents now have a decent space in which to lay their weary heads. 'Tis not so!

I'm nothing if not thrifty and I stuck to a pretty tight budget to pull off this spousal surprise. I scored both of the new dressers and the lamps for free, thanks to a friend who wasn't using them to do anything other than gather dust in her basement. I bought the new, slim bookshelf off of Craigslist. I stumbled upon some bi-fold doors at the thrift store and was able to quickly turn them into an easy headboard. Several cans of spray paint made all my "new" furniture match, if not in style at least in color. I got my pretty coverlet (the first bedspread I've ever bought for my bed) on sale at Target and I sewed my accent pillow shams and bed skirt one late night with Kendra (my sewing machine). So, you see, not bad at all. We won't be eating beans until Christmas because of my room redo!

And my Michael? Let's just say that sometimes I catch him up there just staring, enjoying the adult retreat he's always wanted our bedroom to be. (And it's never been messy for even 30 seconds since I did it nearly two months ago. I won't let one misplaced item mar its peaceful beauty.)

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill