Monday, December 28, 2015

A Newbie's guide to Plaster Paint/Chalk Paint

We're not quite like most of the families our age. We do things a little slower. We've been in this house for 3 years now, and we're still working on it, bit by bit, piece by piece, tile by tile. We don't use credit cards, we use cash, so if we don't have the spare change for a bathroom remodel, we're sitting on that pink toilet seat until we do. It's just how we live.
It makes it kinda frustrating sometimes to see all our friends with fully furnished, gorgeous homes out of a magazine, but we always come back to our lives, knowing this is the way that works for us. 
SO, now you won't be surprised to learn that I've been waiting 3 years to find the exact kitchen nook dining set at the price I wanted, and was totally fine with us eating on an outdoor patio table inside until that day came.
And it did.
This old girl, who I've named Sunny, came up for sale for $100. She was old, and loved, and a little tired, just like me. She came with a leaf and six chairs. 
And I snatched her up. 


There is so much detail on her, and especially on the chairs, that sanding was going to be utter hell. The top needed a good sanding, though. There were water marks and a few raised areas. 
Emma took care of that for me. This girl knows her way around with a mouse sander!


Now usually, when there's some big "fad" going on, I tend to be the first to turn tail and run as far away as I can until it finally sucks me in. I mean, you won't find burlap in THIS house, people! I refuse!!
But the legends of the great and mysterious chalk paint finally intrigued me when I learned that no sanding or priming was involved, because when I would walk through the garage and see those beautiful chairs, they made me cringe thinking about sanding each spindle and swirl.  
I headed down to the store to talk to the paint people about it, and these crafty women talk about chalk paint like I talk about rainbows or legos or Jesus! They showed me pieces they've done, photos carried in their phones like albums of their children. Amazing. (And also the thing that makes me want to run...). 
I was ready.
I was going for it.
They said I couldn't mess it up. 

But they didn't have white.
And that's what I do. If it's not rainbowed, it's white. 
So I went home and thought about it for a couple days until I ran into a plaster paint store. 
And these girls knew their stuff. 
And they had white paint.
AND a wax sealant that you can use on COUNTERTOPS in bathrooms and kitchens! Which means it's tough, and washable! AND it's made right here in our home state, so it was a go.

Plaster paint. I'm in.

The first coat went on and I cried. I called my friend, who has been alongside me on this table journey all throughout. i told her it looked like hell and the ladies that told me I couldnt mess it up were stupid b*tches because they shoudn't tell someone who can burn ramen that they couldn't mess this up when they CAN, and Sunny was RUINED and I'd NEVER find another Sunny II to try again, and LIFE IS OVVVEEERRRRRRRRR!

(The ladies are actually really nice, un-b*tches.  I just get a little dramatic when I panic... hand me a snickers bar and call it good...)

She laughed at me (because that what true friends do), and then told me that the first coat allllways looks like crap, and after another one or two, it'd be fine, and offered to come help and bring coffee. 

But like a hideous vampire beast, i told her not to come see what i had done to Sunny (imagine me putting my forearm across my face in embarassing detest) and I would keep her updated. 

The second coat was better, but she was still a hot mess. 

By the 3rd coat, i understood why everyone is into that shabby chic, banged up edge kinda look, because you can hide all the flaws and it looks PERF, but as with anything massly awesome, I renounce it, and so, coat number 3 went on, and Sunny was looking a bit happy. 


After her 4th coat, I felt okay to call my friend again and tell her that after a surgery that lasted DAYSSSSS, I had saved Sunny, and she was on fleek. 


Applying the wax coat was super easy, and both it and the paint dry SO fast, it makes it so easy to get a project done fast, which is more my impatient style. 
The wax has to cure for 24 hours before you start spilling milk and leftover ham on it, so she made it inside the next afternoon, (with our current chairs, since hers are still in the garage with their vintage clothes on.)


Some things about plaster paint from a plaster paint virgin:

Plaster paint is thicker than chalk paint, so be mindful of which way you use your brush strokes, because they're staying that way.
Long strokes across the whole table as opposed to short back and forth ones get you a much prettier, consistent look. 
You'll see brush strokes, so if you're one of those anti-brush stroke people like my hubby, grab a roller and latex paint instead (and sanders and primer) bwah ha ha 
It looks like poo the first coat, especially with white/light colors. The pros say usually they do 2 coats. People who can burn water do about 4-5. Just sayin. 

Have you ever used plaster/chalk paint?? What have you painted?? I need to know and I need to see!!

I have six chairs waiting for me now...wish me luck!

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{The Lego Castros} Week 4

DECEMBER 21

Little Evan lego is at one of bricksmeade's toy shoppes. They always have the *best* toys that no one else sells, so he's sure he will find the red and green racecar set he's been looking for!


Inside, Courtney tells him the bad news. "I'm so sorry, Evan. I don't have a racecar set like that here. I've got a sailboat! It really floats!"
"No thanks", Evan replies, hanging his little head.
"Well, perhaps Santa can help! Did you write your letter?", Courtney asks, trying to cheer him up. 
"The avalanche made all the mail stop. We couldn't get our letters out!", he tells her. 
"I'm sure he will know, somehow.", she says with a smile. "Here. Take these tokens to the carnival, and your family can have one free spin on the carousel!"
"Thank you, Ms. Courtney!", Evan says and walks out into the snow.


But once again, outside in the snowy road, he finds another letter addressed to Santa! He rushes home to tell Emma about the toy shoppe and the tokens, and the letter. 


DECEMBER 22

The Lego Castros head to the Christmas Carnival, the minifigs favorite part of Bricksmeade. 
What a fun ride! (And not nearly as fast as the spinny-spin back home!)


As they smell all the yummy food from the food vendors nearby, their little tummies begin to grumble. They each get to choose which yummies they'd like to have for lunch. There are several little food stands and one photo booth with a Christmas door and a tin soldier by it. 
"Do you have any hot cocoa?", Mommy lego asks them all. Silly Mommy!


As daddy and mommy lego buy the food, Emma & Evan lego find yet ANOTHER letter in the snow!


As the minifigs discuss all the letters and where they could possibly have come from, a soft "pst! pst!", interrupts them. 
It was coming from the photo booth! 


"Why, he's not a statue!", says Emma lego. "He's a real toy soldier!"
"That I am! And I heard you talking about the letters you've found! Would you help me deliver them to the right place, if I point you in the right direction?", he asks.
"Well, yes, but they're to SANTA! We'd have to find the north pole to deliver them!", Emma says with a giggle. 
But the toy soldier just smiles and winks. 


He steps aside, and the background painting of the photobooth becomes a real door, that opens slowly wide.
And the minifigs walk carefully inside, where they gasp!


DECEMBER 23

They were standing in what seemed to be another world! It smelled of candy and cookies and there were trains full of goodies and twinkling lights and short little elves everywhere.
There was Christmas songs being sung coming from everywhere and reindeer and toys and it was so amazing that little Evan lego didn't even notice the elf that had come up to stand right in front of them.


 "Welcome to the North Pole!" says the short little elf. "Have you come to help load the sleigh?"
"Umm, I...We...We have letters!...for Santa?", Emma stammers, too shocked to think straight.
"Letters?! Hurry, come with me!", he says, and leads them to a house that smelled of gingerbread and peppermint.
"Mrs. Claus! Mrs Claus!", the elf shouts excitedly, "They've gotten the letters!!"
"Oh my goodness!You've saved Christmas!", she says, and hugs the two minifigs. She goes on to explain how the avalanche had blown a bag of letters all the way down the mountain. The elves were hard at work trying to find them all, but a few were hiding too well! Santa had been so worried about them! He keeps all the letters in each child's file, and he was so sad to miss even a few!


The elves quickly built toys for the children whose letters were found by the minifigs, and were asked to help load the sleigh. 
The minifgs loved helping, but Mrs. Claus noticed a bit of a sad look on little Evan's face as he watched all the toys go by on the toy machine. 
"What's wrong, Evan? I can see that you are a little low on the Christmas cheer."


He tells her that of all the toys on the sleigh, he hasn't seen a green and red remote control car set, which means Santa may not even know he has been good this year! Or that he's in Bricksmeade for Christmas! No letters had been mailed, no Santa had been visited. 
"Oh, heavens! I can fix that!", and send the minifigs to a bright red building.
"It's SANTA!!!", they exclaim together. The minifig kids sit down and tell Santa all about their adventures at the shore and at the city when they missed seeing him. They tell him about the avalanche and the mountain pass and finding all those letters but never having a chance to mail their own. 
"Well, thank you for saving Christmas, you have been very good this year!", he says with a jolly "Ho! Ho! Ho!' 
"Remember, I always know if you've been bad or good. I know what toys you like, and I always keep a special lookout on my little Lego Castros, who spread Christmas cheer more than any other minifigs I know!"
"Now head on back to your parents, and I will see you tomorrow!" he says with a jolly smile. 


And they did just that, with happy feelings and jolly thoughts for all they had done. 

DECEMBER 24

The next morning was Christmas, and the minifigs woke their parents up before the sun was even awake! They are so excited!
As the fire roars, they find their packages from Santa Lego tucked under their tree with tags of gold and ribbon that smells of candy and peppermint. 
Emma lego opens hers to find exactly what she had been wishing for - a tiny bunny. 
Mommy lego reads the golden tag as Emma hugs and squeezes the soft little kit. 

Dear Emma,
Thank you for helping deliver my letters this year. You have been so good! I am giving you this bunny, but she is not just any bunny. She is from the North Pole, and she is white to remind you of your visit here, and the soft white snow. 
I'll be seeing you again next year!
Love,
Santa


Mommy and Emma lego didn't even see Daddy and Evan lego put on their boots and head outside!
But they see Evan's note from Santa laying among the pile of gift wrap and bows. 

Dear Evan,
Merry Christmas! I am so thankful for your help this year. 
Please remember to have faith. That there is always someone watching out for you, even when you feel like you're alone. Your innermost wishes are always heard, even without seeing me or writing me letters. 
I hope you enjoy this package. I think you'll find it to be just what you imagined. 
Love,
Santa


DECEMBER 25

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Love, The Lego Castros, The real Castros, and the birthday boy! ;)
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The Pre-Christmas Events!

Well first of all, this.
 Someone stole one of these big balls from the street, and it wasn't me, but I kinda want one. Who needs a playground in your backyard if you've got a big ornament to climb on for hours? I mean, seriously. 


Team Castro Racing ran its' last race for 2015! Wahoo! We wanted to do a Christmas themed race, and since none of us had ever run an 8k race, we'd all automatically get a PR! (Personal Record). And who doesn't want to the end the year with that? ;)
It was hubby's idea to all wear our pjs. He's not one of those typical dads that's all "No way am I wearing family jammies! Not in the house and not out! Not in a box or with a fox!", which is cool, because that's obviously one of the reasons I snatched him up off the dating scene. Man who will don matching jammies? CHECK. 

 And also, doesn't that photo totally give you our personalities in a single shot?
Seriously. Selfie QUEEN!!!

So, we run this race in the blistering wind. Like, OKLAHOMA wind, which is like basically looking up into one of those Dyson hand dryers in the airport restrooms and trying to keep your lips shut and eyes open. 
Yeah right.
So, not only that, but the wind was FUH-REEEEEEZING because we were running alongside Lake Hefner. It was kinda cool to see the crazy windsurfers trying to stay somewhat close to the earth, but they inevitably failed and either went home or flew off to Oz by the time we made the turnaround at the half point. 
Hubby left us all, and the kids attempted to keep up at the start. I always kinda meander the start of races, because I'm Evan's safety net. Once he falls back behind daddy & sister, I sweep him up and keep him from falling too far behind. I've learned to be more patient, more encouraging, and if I can cheerlead that kid through icy tornadic winds, I can cheer him through ANYthing, right??
By the end of the race, daddy had come back to run Emma in, whom Ev and I caught a quick glimpse of at every corner before she disappeared again. And at the very start of the finishing chute, Evan always puts on his turbo, and I always tell him the same thing. "There it is, baby! Run fast! Empty the tank! (from the wise words of Uncle K), and finish so I can watch you!
And he always says the same reply. "Okay, Momma! I love you! I'll see you at the end!"
And off he goes, with that extra boost, and I get to slow down and watch my littlest baby cross the finish line into the arms of his daddy and sister, and I always think, 
This is the way to race.
Not for times or medals or PR's.
To watch the ones I love feel proud, accomplished, and together.

And one day, when I am very old, and ready to go home, I will hear my littlest little tell me "There it is, mom! Run fast! Empty the tank! (from the wise words of Uncle K), and finish so I can watch you!"
And I'll say to my littlest little,
"Okay, Baby! I love you! I'll see you at the end!"
And I will.

Wow, that was rather sad.

Okay, so ANNNNYWAY, we get to the end and look up our times on the computers and find out that three of us won age group awards!
 Emmie won second in her age group. 
 Evan won FIRST! (Because, seriously, what other 0-8 year old is gonna run 8k?!)
 And hubby won 3rd!!
 We also won 2nd in the costume contest, just behind "Cleavage Santa", and lemmie tell you, she certainly was. And to run that whole race in just a low cut santa coat and shoes - I bow down, and relinquish 1st place, cuz ain't nobody got time fo that! 
So they got double medals and I got a furry, soft Victoria's Secret blanket. 

Also, I ran in my awesome Ugly Sweater Rosches. They're weren't made for running, obvious after a few feet in, but looking adorable > keeping your toes, right? RIGHT?
(hangs head)

So then, since we were in the city anyway, we headed over to the ballpark to do some snow tubing!






Yeaaahhhhh, so maybe going to the snow tubes after running 8k wasn't the best idea I ever had, since we were constantly having to lug a HEAVY-@$$ snow tube up a kazillion stairs. 
Okay, well, hubby lugged mine, but still....
So we made it through about half of our allotted time, and headed out to see the rest of downtown. 







It was gorgeous with all the lights and horse-drawn carriages, and fireworks and not much wind...
:)

And then Christmas Eve came and we sang Silent Night by candlelight, and remembered why we were celebrating the day.

...and Dobby stayed home with his cigar.

Sinner.
;)

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Last Week of School...

Any time there's going to be a break from school longer than a couple days, you can guarantee that life at the Castro home is turned all the way up to red. The amount of PTA luncheon items that need to be dropped off, and teacher gifts that need to be turned in to this child's mom, and minutes from the last meeting need to be typed, and yearbook photos need to be entered, and party supplies need to be sent, and THE MADNESSSSSSSS of it all! And every year, I always run around screaming "I'm not doing this next year! I'm gonna learn to say no!", and every year, John reminds me that I say that every year, and yet here we are again, because every year, if I step back and take a good long think, I love being here for our kids. I love supporting the people who support my kids, and I love that I have the opportunity to do it. 
That being said, the last school day of the year is like getting aboard a roller coaster, and you know if you just make it through the next 5 minutes, you'll be sitting on the sidelines, with a smile.
Evan's Pancake Breakfast party at school.

The introduction of polaroids to 1st graders. 




After school, we continued on our merry way to the kids' party at John's company. The crafts were new this year, and they loved it!





Santa brought them adorable gifts that they loved. Emma made a special trip over to the CEO to let her know how perfect hers was, which is adorable, especially when they get to "this age".

The birds of winter have made their arrival, and have found the magical re-filling squirrel stockings!




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