Since Austin had several surprises for me when I returned home from my trip, I wanted some surprises for him when he returned from his trip. He probably liked some more than others. ;o)
After an extensive conversation and lesson in gas appliances from my dad last week in Hull, I was able to get the pilot light lit on our gas fireplace and get it going for the first time. It's old, but relatively simple to operate. Unfortunately, the electric blower doesn't seem to work, so it doesn't really heat the room. However, the glass doors get super hot, making it totally unsafe to use with mobile infants/toddlers. It might be something we just enjoy at night after the kids go to bed with a new gas fireplace added to the long wish list of home improvements.
#2 The great toy sort
Following a discussion with the other moms in our Denver playgroup and a growing frustration of how long it takes to pick up toys at night I was inspired to do a massive toy sort and reorganization. Using all the diaper boxes I have been saving (which has been driving Austin nuts) I organized most of Emily's toys into small, distinct categories. I made both written and picture labels for everything and arranged all the boxes in the upstairs landing closet (click on picture for larger view). Even included are 4 small kids' shoe boxes each containing a few "misc" items like a slinky, Happy Meal toys, a flashlight key chain and other random things Emily latches onto for a day or two and then casts aside when she loses interest. The idea is to pick out a few boxes at a time to bring downstairs and play with. Every few days the boxes can be exchanged for new boxes with different toys. We haven't quite started yet because I'm still deciding which toys will be sent to the basement play area which is yet to be established. Plus I have to figure out something with Lincoln's baby toys. And I'm unsure what to do yet with Emily's play kitchen and all the play food/dishes that go with it. I'm sure any "system" I come up with will evolve as toys, interests, and developmental changes occur. At the very least it will cut down on the number of toys to trip over and deal with over the course of a day! (Special thanks to The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room for organizational ideas!)
#3 New rugs/decor
I pretty sure Austin wasn't as thrilled about this one as I was, but I finally put together new master bathroom decor. I removed the blue & green shower curtain for use upstairs when we have guests and put the lavender rugs in Emily's closet. The sad blue & green towels have been demoted to cleaning rags. In their places are a new black shower curtain, fuzzy black rugs and luxuriously soft black & maroon towels. It's my feeble attempt to at least work with the tile & wallpaper currently in the bathroom.
I was also excited to find area rugs that I think will work in our bedroom. It really needed something, and my feet/legs were getting achy from walking across the hard floor so much (mostly at night). I have been completely overwhelmed by the whole rug thing and didn't even know where to start. After glancing through the collections at every store I went into I found these at Blain's Farm & Fleet (my new favorite store). There's enough green that matches the current paint color, and I think the squares compliment the geometric pattern on the bedding set. It adds a splash of color, but I don't feel like it's too overwhelming. Now I just have to decide what and where to hang things on the walls! ;o)