Moving Blogs!

I've moved my blog, slightly!

Here is the new page: http://thebillheimers.wordpress.com/

All the old posts are there, with some new stuff - and more new stuff to come! :)  Be sure to follow me over there!


About the Girlies

This morning, a mom I know asked a big group of other moms: "Tell me about your kids!" It's been so fun to read a mother's description of each of her children, and since I spent a little time on the exercise myself, I thought I'd share my answer here:

Natalie: Incredibly sharp and inquisitive - this kid misses NOTHING. She analyzes everything and oftentimes instead of the typical asking "Why?" she first tells US why she thinks something is, very matter-of-factly - and then follows it up with, "Is that right?" She's been entertaining us with her quirky sense of humor for as long as I can remember. Before she came along, I had no idea that such a young child could be so truly funny. She likes dancing and singing (although she really can't carry a tune at this point). She prides herself on being outgoing and brave, but she's actually a bit more timid than she'd like to admit. She's pretty good at following rules, and loves learning new things that make us proud. She's fairly oblivious to what others think of her, loves to pick out her own clothes, but has ZERO interest in those clothes matching in any way. She's a great big sister, she deeply loves her family and friends and Mollie is pretty much her best friend.

Mollie: The first thing that comes to mind about her is that she's probably the most stubborn little creature that I've ever encountered. Mollie has SUCH a sweet spirit, but she does NOT deal well with not getting her way. She is incredibly tender-hearted and very shy and is not a thrill-seeker in any way. She is absolutely obsessed with singing and dancing, and if it weren't for her extreme shyness, I'd be convinced that she was destined to be some kind of performer. She's incredibly sweet and so typically cute with her blonde curls and big puppy-dog eyes that she gets by with SO much with people other than me or Brad. It's not uncommon at all for someone to tell us something along the lines of, "She's so stinking cute I just couldn't bring myself to say no to her!" She adores playing with baby dolls (she's such a GREAT little mama) and playing "house" with Natalie. She fiercely loves her big sister and wants to be just like her. She also loves to pick out her clothes, and to my surprise after dealing with Natalie all this time, she likes for her clothes to match and is pretty good and picking out cute combinations all on her own.


Hall Bath Project

We've been in our current house for just a couple months short of a year, and we haven't made too many changes. The first thing that had to go was the awful drying blood-RED, badly-done faux finish on the walls in the kitchen, which we did almost immediately. Since then, we've painted and decorated both of the girls' bedrooms, and that's been about the extent of our decorating. We barely even have any photos up on the walls! All of a sudden, I started feeling the need to make something more like us! I mean, luckily, the house was a nice, blank slate so it's been more than liveable (aside from the crazy RED kitchen), but I was just ready to make an improvement somewhere! That "somewhere" turned out to be the hall bathroom. We don't have much (ok, anything) budgeted for re-doing rooms, so I knew I had to be frugal, and I knew I wanted to do something SOON, so I started somewhere that was small but noticeable. Since it's the only bathroom in the house other than the master bath, lots of people see it.

Here's a little reminder of what it looked like just one week ago.  I knew I had these pictures from one day when I tidied the house up really well and took pictures of everything to show friends & family who hadn't seen the new place, so I didn't bother with "Before" pictures.  Now I wish I had because this is just not detailed enough and there's been a lot more wear on the cabinets and trim since then!  I'm going to also use some similar photos from the master (which has all of the same paint, cabinets, hardware, lights, etc) for details below.


So, there you have it. A nice, boring, blank slate. We did buy a fun paisley shower curtain that I really like (and I have another plan for it!), but otherwise, this is what it used to look like.

I was pretty sure that I didn't want to do anything totally "kiddie" - I wanted something classic and mature, but also fun and something that the girls would like, since it's their bathroom as well as the bathroom that guests use. I asked some friends for ideas, and one of them suggested some mermaid prints on Etsy. I liked the mermaid idea, but the prints were a little too young for my vision. I started looking for more prints, but I ultimately just found ideas and ended up making some of my own, which was fun. I had seen a few ruffled shower curtains recently, and thought that would go pretty perfectly with what I had in mind. I knew I was going to re-paint the cabinets white. Yes, they were already white, but they aren't exactly quality cabinets, they weren't holding up well and the previous owners had touched them up here and there with a different white paint, so I kind of hated them. I just needed to decide on a wall color. I decided to go with a light-medium bright aqua. I definitely HATED all of the gold in the bathroom (in the whole house, but that's another story!), so I wanted to try spray painting the knobs and door handles Oil-Rubbed Bronze. Brad was skeptical, but I figure spray paint is pretty cheap, so it's worth a shot because all of that new hardware adds up to a lot of money! I followed this tutorial that I found on Pinterest for that.

My good friend Jesi recently upgraded her "builder basic" home with lots of ideas that looked great on the cheap, so I went to her for advice about repainting cheap cabinets. She suggested deglosser and Valspar (Lowe's) Kitchen & Bath Paint + Primer, and I chose a white called Snow Capped in the type she suggested for the ceiling and cabinets. Armed with my advice from friends and from Pinterest, I made a shopping list and the girlies and I headed to Lowe's for paint and the other various supplies that were required.

Back at home, I started off painting the ceiling in the Snow Capped paint. It seemed to go on really well, but I don't think I've ever NOT had to do two coats of paint on a room, especially this flat, cheap, builder beige color, so I completely assumed I'd be painting two coats. To my shock and awe, it really appeared to be fine after just one coat. I then started in on the walls - I decided to do all the cutting in, corners, and places that couldn't be rolled first. Seriously, I spent HOURS on that. Even in a big bathroom, there is just not much wide open wall space that can be rolled, so I probably did at least 3/4 of the work with a brush. Once it was time to roll it, it took no time at all. All the while, I was giddy knowing that it was covering so well that I was NOT going to have to do two coats! Brad says it may have been overkill to use the Paint + Primer, but it was worth every penny ($28/gallon) if you ask me!! For the cabinets, I washed them, sanded the edges, wiped them clean, applied deglosser, caulked the edges and meeting points of the wood (which took no time and made a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE difference) and then used one coat of Valspar Snow Capped . The difference, even though the color is very similiar, is striking!

I could have spray painted the light fixture, but not only did I hate the gold, I hated the style. So I did my research and found a great deal on one through Amazon Warehouse - still pretty basic, but brand new Oil-Rubbed Bronze, just repackaged in a different box, and free 2-day shipping with Amazon prime! Woo hoo! There are lots of pricey versions of the shower curtain I had in mind, but I found one on Amazon for $17.64, again with free 2-day shipping! And the other "big" thing that I wanted to replace was the faucet. I just can't stand the cheap, cheap, cheap one that we currently have, plus a little piece of it is broken off. Again, Amazon didn't fail me! I saved $48 (more than 50% off) over Lowe's price with another Amazon Warehouse find and, yes, free 2-day shipping!

So here are the photos! :) I love how it turned out! Blog00





Mollie is THREE!

I'm so exhausted after getting everything ready for Mollie's party and working on the swingset/playhouse, that I only have the energy to post pictures for now, but Mollie's party was SO much fun, and everything turned out so cute!! I'll add more details later! Thanks so much to all the friends and family who came to help us celebrate!! Board01 Board02 Board03 Board04


Play Structure: Part 1

A few months ago, Brad decided that our swingset desperately needed an upgrade. It's just a simple, typical metal set with a couple swings (both baby swings, actually!), a see-saw swing, a hanging bar, and a slide. It's almost exactly like this one:
I also have a deep yearning for the girls to have a cute playhouse in the backyard. We did a ton of research and online window-shopping and decided that the best way to affordably get exactly what we wanted in a STURDY structure was to design and build it ourselves. I was super excited about the idea - I love building things! :) Brad found some free plans online, BUT they were from Australia, so he had to do a lot of translating - from metric to English, as well as from their type of wood to ours. He used Google Sketch Up to draw up our plans, making plenty of changes along the way, including a plan to enclose the bottom part and make it a playhouse! Here are the plans that he's drawn up - this doesn't show the bottom part being enclosed, but it's a rough idea. We'll have 2-3 swings on the inside of the A-frame and then one rope/disc swing on the outer part of the A-frame. There will also be another way to get up to the top - a more traditional ladder - on the back wall. The front is where you see "Susan" (as Google calls her) :) standing.
We have made sure to choose accessories that are all sturdy enough for adults to use too. Here's our actual slide:
And swings with heavy duty hangers:
The front of the house will have a doorway and a small window. The side with the slide will have a small centered window, the side with the swings will have two small windows, and the back will have a much larger opening with a wide ledge, sort of like a restaurant. The traditional ladder will come out on the back, to one side of that ledge. We decided to use wood siding for the walls - like this:
We haven't decided what color to paint it yet. I think we're going to stain the playset part, and we need to decide what colors of paint and stain we're going to use. We're mainly concerned with just getting it BUILT right now! :) As for the inside, I have some fun ideas - we're thinking of putting up some smooth particle board on one entire wall and painting it with a fun color of chalkboard paint. I'm thinking about using a shower curtain to make some cute waterproof curtains. :) Maybe something like one of these?
I'd love to make some little flowerboxes for the windows - at least the one window in the front - but we'll see. Between planning Mollie's Minnie Mouse birthday party and building, I haven't had as much time as I'd like to think about decorating! :) We are WAY farther in our progress than this picture - this is just one of the first pictures that Brad took to show me his progress when the girls and I were not home. I've taken lots more pictures, and I'll definitely be posting them, but for now, my spare time at home is spent helping Brad, and I'm really enjoying it (aside from the blisters)! I've been in charge of the screwdriver (electric, of course!) for the past few days, and I've actually been the one to attach the top and bottom decking while Brad does the planning, measuring, and cutting! Picture #1, Sunday afternoon (the diagonal pieces on the outsides are just for temporary support):


Florida Vacation Day 10: Getting HOME

I think time helps us to more fondly remember the good things and to forget the not-as-good things. I'm going to say that after a month home, I can barely remember our trip home. A few things stand out: sunrise, the girls fighting in the morning, having to pull over to put a space between their car seats, broken bathrooms in Whataburger, lots of reading "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess), deciding to stay on the road instead of stopping at a hotel, sunset, and remembering that we DO own DVD players so the girls could watch movies (how could I have forgotten about that very important tool during the first, oh, 8 hours?), and finally...HOME sweet HOME. It wasn't the best road trip, but it wasn't the worst, and we got home safely, so that's all that matters. :) RoadTrip8 As for Disney, we cannot WAIT to go back!!!!!

Florida Vacation Day 9: Animal Kingdom

I so enjoyed Epcot and the Magic Kingdom that the bar was set SUPER high for Animal Kingdom to have any chance at all of being a favorite park. Being the last day of vacation, the fourth Disney park experience, and THE most hot and humid days of our trip - well, we didn't enjoy it as much as we should have. I'm going to chalk this up as something else that we'll enjoy WAY more next time. It just wasn't in the stars for us, Animal Kingdom! The park is gorgeous and it's home to some pretty awesome stuff, though, beginning with the Tree of Life:Blog01 You really do feel like you've been transported to another country in Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, it's so real that I'm seriously wondering whether Disney has humidity specially pumped into the place. ;) Blog02 The first thing we did was head straight to the back of the park to get Fast Passes for the Kilimanjaro Safari, which we knew would be awesome. Once we got there, the line didn't actually seem to be all that bad, so we decided to get in line. I'm not sure if that was a mistake or not, honestly. We were in line quite a while, and whereas I'd been pleasantly surprised at the other parks with how the lines were shaded and cooler (with fans or air conditioning), well this line was rarely shaded and NEVER cooled in any way, even when fans could have easily been put into place. It was early in the day, and by the time we made it to the ride, everyone already seemed pretty run down! The tour itself was really cool! It's pretty amazing to see all of these animals and plants and surrounds that are native to Africa, right there in Florida!Blog07Blog08 Our next stop was "It's Tough to be a Bug," a 4-D show inside the Tree of Life. It was pretty cute, but some of the kiddos in our party were a little scared by it. It was definitely a welcome break from the sun and heat and humidity though, and it had some very fun and interesting little surprises!

After the show, it was time for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Brad and I had been before, so we knew what to expect, but the kids didn't. Some of them seemed to really enjoy it. Mollie really liked the fish tanks, but that was about it. Natalie was so leery of the periodic rainstorms where the animals "come to life" that what she really wanted was for me to hold her while we looked - or not walk around at all. She's just too heavy for me to do that at this point, so we ended up just heading back to our table. The food was really good, and we decided to combat the $$ by sharing a burger and having the girls share a kid's meal. After we ate, we wandered around in the gift shop quite a bit and let the girls pick out a new stuffed monkey, so they were super excited about that. :)Blog03 We planned to watch The Festival of the Lion King show that started in about an hour, so we decided to take the opportunity to finally go meet Minnie! Her line didn't seem to be all that long, but it felt like we waited quite a while, and again, the weather was just...not enjoyable. I wished Minnie had been wearing her red polka dot dress, but her Jungle gear was pretty cute. Minnie was very expressive, and it was fun watching her interact with the kids. Mollie, true to fashion, gave us a chuckle because she got out of the stroller to give Minnie her autograph book, but she literally tried to hand it to her from about five feet away. :) Brad jumped in to help her out and hold her for a picture with Minnie. She's totally grinning in the picture, but the only way she would take it was being held by Daddy. :)Blog04Blog05 The girls wanted to try to see Goofy, but we really didn't have time. I didn't realize until we got home that Mollie is so into Goofy. I asked her why, and it's because of his ORANGE shirt! I should have known - that's her favorite color! :) So we headed over to the entrance of the show. Again, I was so disappointed - there was absolutely nowhere to sit, and no shade at all, just a big open area for people stand in the heat and sun. I kind of hate being so negative about this part of our experience, but it's true and it was really not fun. We were SO excited when they began letting us into the theater! It felt WONDERFUL to be in a dark air conditioned room! They had 4 people going around teaching the audience how to do the Hand Jive, starting with our section, and they asked for volunteers to go help teach the others. Aubrey jumped up, and to our surprise, Natalie went with her! Try as I might, I couldn't get good pictures, but it was fun watching them! The entire Lion King show was awesome - it did not disappoint in the least! The music was wonderful, the sets and the costumes were gorgeous, and everyone was incredibly entertaining! A definite must-see at Animal Kingdom!Blog06
Our girls actually started nodding off at the end of the show, so we decided to just head home. The next Nemo show wasn't for a while, we were so hot, and none of the other attractions really stuck out to us as must-see, especially not with how tired we all felt. Our family stopped in a gift shop and we let the girls each pick out a souvenir. Natalie chose a plush baby Ariel doll wrapped up in a blue blanket and Mollie chose a baby Minnie wrapped in a pink blanket. We spent quite a bit of time in the store waiting out some rain and picking out a couple thank-you gifts for some friends at home. Mollie found a tiny spray bottle-fan keychain and decided that she NEEEEEEDED to have it. Brad even gave her a choice of that $9 keychain or her Minnie doll and she chose the keychain! We decided to let her have both, but the keychain was for the girls to share. I was just exhausted and I figured she would be sorry that she didn't leave Disney with a REAL Disney souvenir!

At home, we got some naps in and then just hung out around the house, starting to gather our things and pack. Sheila & Matt's family had decided to stay at the park for the Nemo show and they all ran in later in various states of soaking wet and undress - apparently they got caught in a downpour on the way out to their car! Luckily we weren't staying too far from the park, and their family didn't seem to be too bothered. Al, Deb, Lisa, & Caleb were flying home, so Eric took them to the airport and when he got back, our dwindling group set off in search of a cheap dinner. We used another one of our Restaurant.com gift certificates to eat at the Tiki Bar & Grill, which was inside another resort in Kissimmee. It was a poolside grill and everyone else had been completely scared off by the rain that continued to drizzle off and on. There was one guy working and he enthusiastically took all of our orders and single-handedly prepared dinner for all 11 of us! The food was good, and it was nice to let the girls run around a bit before our big drive in the morning. Once home, we got the girls to bed and finished packing up for the big DRIVE!

Animal Kingdom Instagram Wrap-Up: RoadTrip7

Next up: The long road home!