Revisiting my New Year’s Resolutions

End-of-year pile of artwork

End-of-year pile of artwork

Today is the last day of school for Miss Seven and Mr. Ten. It’s not even June! And it seems a very long time until August. (Though when I look at my calendar, it’s clear we won’t be sitting at home with nothing to do.) I thought it might be a good time to revisit my New Year’s Resolutions, see what we’ve accomplished, and make a plan for what I might tackle over the summer months.

2013 Resolutions

  • Paint and paper the kids’ bathroom; replace the shoe moulding; add floating shelves (bonus points: raise the light fixture and frame the mirror)
  • Organize the tools in the garage
  • Clean out the laundry room
  • Replace the computer armoire with a simple desk in the living room (maybe a DIY with an old door and some IKEA table legs)
  • Continue the landscaping project–at the very least, the vegetable garden and compost pile
  • Spackle and touch up/finish paint all over the house
  • Figure out two comfortable reading chairs and lighting in the living room
  • Refinish or paint the extra kitchen barstools
  • Cut down the rest of the old shrubs around the driveway (just one left by the lamp post)
  • Patch the concrete under the garage door
  • Organize basement sewing area and kids’ craft area
  • Paint, refinish dresser and redecorate Miss Seven’s room
Our growing veggie plot! I am now addicted to freshly picked lettuce.

Our growing veggie plot! I am now addicted to freshly picked lettuce.

After five months, I guess that’s not too bad. Add the powder room makeover, which wasn’t even on the list, and I feel pretty good about our progress. I have all the supplies for the computer desk project–now I just need to DO it.

As I look at the list, I realize those extra kitchen barstools aren’t really a priority. Since I found a place for them in the pantry, I don’t have to look at them when we’re not using them. In my mind, I’ve added Mr. Ten’s room to the list. After seeing the redecorating plans for Miss Seven’s room, he decided he is also ready for a new look. We’re going to repaint, get him a tall bookcase and maybe a reading chair, rearrange the furniture, and generally declutter. He’s picked out a cool gray-blue color called “Ozone” for the walls, which should take him into the teen years without needing another big change.

Here's hoping that if we move it away from the wall, it might be easier to make the bed.

Here’s hoping that if we move it away from the wall, it might be easier to make the bed.

So what’s at the top of my summer list?

  1. Assemble the new computer desk already! (And probably add some wall shelving above it.)
  2. Paint both kids’ rooms.
  3. Landscaping: repair and replant grass in the front yard, and add some new plants in front of the porch.
  4. Organize tools in the garage.
  5. Patch the concrete under the garage door.
This grass needs help.

This grass needs help.

That feels plenty ambitious for one summer! My goal for today is to strip the paint off the door that will serve as the top of the computer desk. This weekend, weather permitting, we hope to work on the yard a little.

What summer projects are on your list this year?

The garden project: phase one

It’s been a long time since I first mentioned our landscaping project. We’ve moved at a glacial pace…lots of thinking, waiting, budgeting, thinking, waiting… Then we spent the majority of the summer traveling, so all projects were put on hold. But I’m excited to report that Phase I is finally a reality!

To refresh your memory: Our backyard has some serious drainage problems. Rain water and runoff flows from our neighbors’ lots on three sides into our low-lying property. Our ejector pumps also used to discharge under the patio and straight under the back lawn, causing erosion and subsidence of the soil over time. Every time we had a rainstorm, we had a swampy yard and standing water in some places, often taking weeks to drain. Grass wouldn’t grow, the lawn was bumpy, and the kids couldn’t go out and play without returning soaking wet and splashed with mud.

We have been so happy working with Dig Right In these past few months. They listened to our concerns and our vision for out outdoor space. They designed a complete plan for us (both a drainage plan and a landscape design), and then broke it down into phases so that we could prioritize and make some progress within our budget. What I most appreciate is their willingness to view the project as long term and to work within the reality of the budget we have at the moment. They are also committed to creating sustainable, Earth-friendly landscapes and educating homeowners about chemical-free lawn care and conservation practices.

So where are we now? We decided for this phase we would focus on improving the drainage. Jeff mapped out a swale to direct the water coming into the back of our property and move it (along with water from our downspouts and ejector pumps) toward the storm water sewer on the street in front of our property.

The crew began by removing some of the larger “weed trees” and out of control shrubs around the perimeter of the lot. Then they started moving the soil to create a channel for the water and keep it out of the center of the lawn. They added new sod to the swale to eliminate erosion, and in a future phase, we’ll also have a dry streambed of stones and rocks.

What else do we have to look forward to in future phases? To complete the drainage plan, Dig Right In will create a domed lawn for us so rainwater runs down into the swale and doesn’t pool in the grass. They’ll help us create some new perennial beds around the patio, reusing many of the plants that we already have. They also gave us a beautiful design for the front yard. The progress they made in a single day has really motivated us to get out  and do some of the work ourselves.

My dear friend Jen came with her shovels and helped me dig out the large overgrown bed along the east side of the back yard that is destined to become a vegetable garden. (Let’s be real: I helped her.) We trimmed branches, dug up yucca plants with their gigantic roots, eradicated more purple loosestrife, and pulled out countless day lilies to give away. I weeded several more beds (some more thoroughly than others), and we borrowed a chainsaw so that we can continue to cut down the overgrown shrubs and hedges. It’s a work in progress!