Tall House Updates

One of the projects that’s been happening at the Tall House this month is in the attic. Gijsbert has been building an upper wall to add privacy to the guest bedroom, and he added a floor to the loft area (above the staircase) that finishes it off, and hides the wires and construction mess.

If you’d like to see the progress, here’s a 3-part report I shared on Instagram Stories over the last couple of weeks (they are saved in the Attic Highlights):

Living With Kids: Leslie Degenhardt

The home of Leslie and her lovely family was featured here a couple of years ago, and we are delighted to have them join us once again. They’ve spruced up their place a bit, and decided to start a business during all the craziness of shut down and homeschooling and work-from-home. Leslie is passionate about vintage and found clothing and furniture pieces, both because of the personality that they bring as well as the sustainability of not always buying something new — so starting a shop that sells vintage goods is a perfect fit. Welcome, Leslie!

Renewing Passports in Paris

On Friday, we woke the kids up at 5:30 AM so we could drive to Paris. We had an appointment at the US Embassy to renew the four youngest kids’ passports — Olive, Oscar, Betty, and Flora June. I spent many hours prepping for our appointment, and happily it went very smoothly. (Big sigh of relief!) The woman who was assisting us thanked me for being so organized and prepared and I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I’ve never felt more proud. : ) She said it would take about ten days to process and then the Embassy will mail the new passports to our house, which means we won’t need to go back to Paris to pick them up.

In the past, when we’ve needed to renew passports, we’ve always been living the U.S., so this was our first time reapplying from a foreign country. We’ve heard that the passport processing time in the States is currently 8 weeks or longer, so I’m guessing they must have a speedier process for people who are living abroad. Which makes sense I guess — it’s nerve-wracking to know that our kids currently don’t have a passport (and won’t for another two weeks) and we are in another country.

Inauguration Day Thoughts & Reactions

Oh my. I’m still processing my thoughts about yesterday (1/20) and today (1/21). You too? Here is some of what’s on my mind:

-I woke up yesterday feeling hopeful, but also very worried. I wondered if there would be last-minute drama from Trump, or more violence from Republicans.

-In the morning, I heard the Star-Spangled Banner playing on a French radio station and started weeping. It felt like the whole world was celebrating.

Living With Kids: Ruth Beckerman

When Ruth reached out about sharing her family’s story, I was intrigued. It is always interesting to talk about different kinds of families and the way that they evolve over time. Ruth, and her husband Andy, are both retired and were empty nesters. Then the pandemic hit, and their grown-up kids (like so many parents) were have such difficulties juggling work and school and toddlers. So Ruth and Andy opened their home back up to support and help their kids and grandkids get through this difficult time. It’s a good illustration of how so many of us have had to be creative to get through this impossible year, and I’m so happy to share Ruth’s story here. Welcome, Ruth!

What to Wear to School 2020-2021

For about about 15 school years (since 2006), I’ve shared What to Wear to School posts. The posts started in response to reader questions about my kids clothes, and then they became a tradition for our family — a really great journal-of-sorts, recording the kids growth, haircuts, and their favorite items of clothing over the years.

Usually I share the What to Wear to School posts in the Fall, but during at least a couple of those years, the Fall was too busy, so I ended up posting in January. And last school year (2019-2020), I skipped the What to Wear to School posts altogether. I didn’t mean to, it was just challenging adjusting to our new life in France (we moved here just a couple of days before school started) and we never got around to taking pictures.

So this past September 2020, I was careful to take photos of the kids just as school was starting — I didn’t want to skip another year. But I kept forgetting to post them! I ended up taking a few more shots during the holidays, and today I finally got them edited and uploaded here.

All that to say: Here’s a combined post featuring Flora June, Betty, and Oscar in What to Wear to Fifth Grade, 9th grade and 10th grade.

A Few Things

[ UPDATE: Good news! After 5 very sick days in bed, my mom seems to be getting her energy back. I know Covid can be tricky, so I know she’s not totally out of the woods, but I feel very optimistic. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and notes. I sincerely appreciate it. ]

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? I’m feeling worried right now. My Mom, who lives in a very small town in Utah, tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week and has been sick in bed. Will she pull through quickly? Will things go south? Like everyone else who has gone through this, all we can do is wait and see how her body reacts.

I’m seeing tweets from friends in Utah about their over-70 parents receiving the vaccine, and it feels like she was so close to staying safe, you know? How are you doing? What has the vaccine rollout been like so far where you live?

If you’re in the mood for a link list, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

Tall House Updates

Sometimes there are mini-projects going on in the midst of the larger renovation. One of those has been stripping down and re-storing the door knobs and locks. Here’s what he process has looked like so far:

Living With Kids: Jennifer Bangoura

Jennifer and her family live in Maryland, just outside of DC. Like many of us, she and her husband have been juggling home care, child care, jobs, etc.; working from home with two small kids, including a kindergartener who started online school this fall. Jennifer’s solution to this challenging time has been to get help when she can safely do so, give herself a lot of grace, and not to stress too much about screen time. You’ll love peeking around her warm and charming home.

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? I find it’s so hard to concentrate and get work done when the news cycle is particularly intense. You too? I have some house updates that I plan to share to Instagram, and I can’t seem to get in the right zone (if that makes sense).

This weekend, we’ll keep it low key. We’ll celebrate Oscar’s birthday, and maybe take a break from the internet. : ) How about you?

Ready for your weekend links? Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

Starting the Day With Wins in Georgia, Ending the Day with an Attempted Coup

Well. Wednesday. I woke to happy news about the election in Georgia. I felt such hope! Here are the tweets I shared on Instagram in celebration:

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By the end of the day, hope had been replaced with anger as I watched the attempted coup at the Capitol. Here are the tweets I shared on Instagram in anger and frustration:

Tall House Updates

Have you ever heard of using soap as a finish for wood floors and wood furniture? We heard about it from our friend Gijsbert and then I went down an internet wormhole searching “traditional soap finish” and “Danish soap finish” and “Scandinavian soaped floors” and a dozen other related terms. I loved the images and descriptions of soaped floors so much, we decided to try a soap finish on our attic floors.

You know those pictures of Scandinavian wood floors that look whitewashed? They were mostly likely sanded, then treated with lye (which bleaches the wood and prevents yellowing) and then finished with soap (just soap!).

Project Plans for 2021

Last night we had a family meeting (with the 3 oldest kids joining via videochat). Each of us reported on our year, and we reviewed a list of family goals we had made at the beginning of 2020 — laughing hard at how few we accomplished. For example, at the beginning of 2020, we were confident we would be moving into the Tall House, probably in the fall, and certainly by Christmas. (Hahaha!)

I like making goals, though I don’t beat myself up if I don’t always accomplish them. A big part of what I like about goal-making is creating a picture in my head of a possible future. Goals help me focus, and they give me something to look forward to. I make goals throughout the year, but January is my favorite time to think about what’s next — even though I know the calendar is arbitrary.

For 2021, here’s what’s on my mind goal-wise:

A Few Things — and Happy New Year!

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your end-of-December? Has it felt like a strange holiday break to you? What felt different this year and what felt the same? Is there anything new you tried this holiday that you’ll repeat next December? I’d love to hear how you’re doing.

We’re starting the new year with a reading marathon today. Our reading marathons are always casual and stress-free — everyone together, lots of good books, pajamas, throw blankets, a loose schedule, and snacks on hand (a mix of healthy and not so healthy).

Something that I noticed today — and I can’t decide if it’s worrisome or just a phase: I seem to have lost my appetite for reading fiction for pleasure. Reading to learn or reading for research is no problem. But diving into a novel and taking a mental escape till the story is done? I can’t seem to do it. Not sure what’s up with that. Will I feel differently in a week or a month or a year? Has this ever happened to you?

I hope you’re in the mood for a link list. Because here are a few things I’ve wanted to share:

What Are Your Only-in-December Foods?

In December, a food cart (pictured above) parks next to the big church in the center of town. It sells crepes, gaufres (waffles), and croustillants. Croustillants are fried balls of dough, rolled in sugar, and served hot with an optional side of Nutella. (You can see them up close in the Normandy Instagram highlight if you’re curious.) This cart is a mere 35-second walk from our rental house and we have become almost daily customers. : )

Living With Kids: Marianne Brown

We met Marianne three years ago right here on Living With Kids when we featured her Holladay, Utah home. Well, this year Marianne moved to her new home, three doors down from her old home. Marianne is an interior designer and this new home that they built from the ground up is so special and so thoughtful. There are so many beautiful details — I love a vertical channel on an upholstered piece! Welcome back, Marianne.

A Few Things

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your week? Ours was really good. The kids holiday break starts today and they were so happy when they got home from school. Olive will be joining us from Paris on Sunday (and I’m trying not to think too much about Ralph and Maude spending Christmas so far from us; I miss them so dang much).

A lot of my time lately is spent on renovation tasks. There are daily meetings and check-ins with tradespeople, tasks like choosing cupboard knobs and lighting, issues to solve when problems arise (like the radiator pipes in the kitchen need to be moved), plumbing parts to track down, and errands like having paint mixed. Everything takes longer than I think it will. Hah!

I suspect that things could slow down a bit renovation-wise for the next two weeks as people take time off for the holidays. I think we’ll try to tackle some projects that we can all work on as a family — like doing a traditional Danish soap finish on the wood floor in the attic.

Ready for your link list? Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

Tall House Updates

We’ve had some fun and busy days at the Tall House over the last week. And a big discovery too! I shared all the details on Instagram Stories, and I’m sharing the slides here as well.

A Few Things

[ UPDATE: Hey there! I’m having more tech issues here on the site. At the moment, I can’t add images — which makes it hard to do things like create a home tour. Hah! I’ve got an awesome WordPress expert, Michelle of Walder Studio, helping me resolve the issues and hopefully I’ll be back up and running quickly. (I have 2 last-minute gift guides I was hoping to share this week!) ]

Hello, Friends. How are you? How was your weekend? We’ve had so much going on with the renovation! So many meetings with tradespeople, some new discoveries, a ton of errands. And I haven’t made time to write a Friday link list post in a couple of weeks. But I miss sharing links with you! So even though the weekend is over, I thought I’d write my usual Friday post anyway.

Here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

Gift Guide: French Cleaning Supplies

Here’s a small, focused gift guide I think you’ll like. It’s for those of you craving a bit of France, and it’s for those of you who love bringing gorgeous + usable products into your home. There’s an extensive line of personal and home cleaning tools, that are made in France, called Andrée Jardin. Their products are gorgeous and beautifully designed and manufactured.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I want one of everything. And I like that they have choices! It’s not just one handsome dust pan, there are several great-looking dustpans to choose from. Plus, sweeping surely must be more enjoyable if your broom is from Paris, right? I’ll share 10 of my favorites from their product line below.

Their main website is only in French, but you can find some of their products on U.S. Amazon too — I’ll link to double sources where I can, for my readers in Europe and in the U.S.. And you may be able to find these at a small local shop as well! I buy mine from a beautiful shop in our little town called Weemood.

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