Little explorer…

He’s at the fun, but exhausting, exploring stage. He wants to see and touch everything and usually test it against his mouth. Every drawer is opened and it’s contents emptied. Cupboards are no longer safe. Our tub is full of items that he finds and throws in there. The q-tip box has been picked up multiple times. The bathrooms remain on lockdown.

He’s busy. And messy.

And then this picture reminds me what it’s like to explore a world where everything is a new experience. He saw the sun coming through the shutters and it was hitting his arm. He waved it up and down watching the light dance across it. Not quite sure what was going on. He stood there for a while doing the same thing over and over again. I often forget as I’m walking from one room to another cleaning up after him that he’s just exploring. He’s trying to figure out his little body and build experiences in that little brain of his. This particular day he played with light.

Little Explorer

Bookcase Doors…part 2…

Find Part 1 (building the bookcase)  here.

The hardware for the bookcase doors (or Murphy doors as they’re also referred to) are relatively simple. The bottom hardware is a ball bearing and the top hardware includes a metal pin. There are no hinges. It seemed as though it would be a relatively simple install. But it wasn’t. In order for the hardware to function properly, everything had to be exact – with little to no wiggle room. We were dealing with pretty square bookcases in a somewhat square opening. Not to mention the entire wall leaned in. We worked and readjusted and tried again. It was late, we were frustrated and finally – the bookcases fit into the hardware. And they opened – which was my biggest fear the whole time.

bookcase doors

I mentioned earlier that we decided to install the face frame after the bookcases were installed. Here’s why it was a stroke of genius…

We figured it would be near impossible for us to get the bookcases completely level with each other within this space.  But in order to look good – they needed to be spot on. We knew we wouldn’t be able to adjust the bookcases once they were installed, but we would be able to adjust the placement of the face frame. There was a significant face frame overlap on all the edges so we were able to adjust the frame so they were completely level with each other. Mission accomplished.

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

See how nice and level these are?! They would not look like that had we installed them before installing the bookcase. It would have been all sorts of messy.

bookcase doors

Once the face frame was attached, we had to cover the side gaps with trim moulding. The moulding is attached to the wall – not to the bookcases. This allows them to swing open freely and still gives it a finished look. We also added a trim piece to the left side bookcase to cover the middle gap. The gaps are necessary in the design in order for them to open properly. This means the left side will always have to be opened first.

bookcase doors

With all the trim in place and the adjustable shelves in – the space looked completely different.

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

I’m beyond happy with how it turned out. It’s exactly what I wanted. Now if I would just dedicate some time to styling the shelves, we would be in business. But styling isn’t my strong point. They might look like this for a while and even then it’s an improvement from the crooked bi-fold doors!


Bookcase doors…part one…

Years ago after we opened up the wall to the office (which was once a bedroom), I realized a design flaw in my plan. With the wall opened up, now when you walked in the front door, you immediately saw the bi-fold closet doors of the bedroom/office, it wasn’t pretty or aesthetically pleasing. It was one of those things that the minute I realized it, I knew it bothered me. But I didn’t have a great solution. We needed the closet space for storage. After living with it for just a bit, I came up with the solution, bookcase doors. It could be pretty and functional. But as I searched on how to do it – I couldn’t get any clear instructions. So I tabled the idea and got used to the bi-fold doors.

bookcase doors

bookcase doors


Fast forward 4 years: With my dad’s annual trip approaching I was prepping some projects for us to work on. Figuring out the bookcase doors was high on my priority list. I contacted an expert in hidden doors and passageways to see if I could purchase hardware from him. He pointed me to a company called Murphy Door Hardware who sells  DIY hardware kits. The company also sells the bookcases complete – but what fun would that be for my dad and I to work on. I purchased the hardware kit.

Let it be known – this was not an easy project. Yes, they sell hardware but it doesn’t come with great instructions on how to build your own door.  I spent hours creating my plans on the computer and then making sure the two doors would swing the way I thought they would. I was several hours in before my dad even showed up to lend his helping hand and expertise. Here’s the process we took:

We started with a closet with bi-fold doors. The original plan was to build a jamb for the rough opening. But I wanted the door to the right and the bookcases to be of similar height and if I built a jamb it created even smaller bookcases, we already had a finished opening to work with…yada, yada. We skipped that step and my dad and I would both agree now – build in the jamb. When it comes to installing – our walls weren’t entirely square (which we knew) and it made for a tough install.

bookcase doors

After we decided to skip the jamb – we went straight to building. The bookcase was 11″ deep and we routed the back edge of the sides so the back wood panel would sit flush. We also cut all the shelving pieces.

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

With the worst timing ever, my paint sprayer stopped working and was out of commission. It’s been a while since I hand painted a project like this and I was missing my sprayer. Knowing that it would be easier to paint flat pieces, everything was painted before it was put together.  This lengthened the process of the project because we were often waiting for paint to dry in between coats.

bookcase doors

Using my kreg shelf pin jig – I drilled all the holes on the sides of the bookcases for the adjustable shelves. We then started the assembly process, making sure everything was as square as could be. For stability, one shelf was screwed into place.

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

We made all the adjustable shelves using the 3/4″ plywood with a 1.5″ maple face – glue and a nail gun.

bookcase doors

Everything started to come together and I was excited because things were coming together so smoothly. We hadn’t made any emergency runs to the hardware store for needed supplies and the process was straightforward. Build a solid bookcase. We attached the back 1/2″ panel. Typically you could go thinner – but we really needed strength so we went with 1/2″

bookcase doors

bookcase doors

As we started building the face frames (the wood to cover all the raw edges) problems started to arise. Wood was splitting and getting them square was proving to be difficult. What should’ve been a quick step ended up taking an entire afternoon.

We were ready to install the face frame  on the bookcase – but we decided to unconventionally attach the frames after the bookcases were installed so we could mask our imperfections. This was a crucial decision. Although when we made it, we didn’t understand how important it was. (I’ll explain more of that later).

bookcase doors

Late one night with most everyone in bed, we installed the threshold (bottom piece running across the bottom of the floor) and the bottom hardware to our kit. By the time we got to this point, I naively thought, “Wow – we’re almost done!” Our bookcases were built and painted. The face frames were built and painted. All we had to do was install it. How hard could it be?!

Winter wrap up…

I was going through my photos and realized I had a bunch of random photos showcasing daily life around here.

Briggs is the destroyer. He can empty a drawer or cabinet in no time. It’s a full time job making sure he doesn’t get into things and cleaning up after him.

We have really mild winters in the desert. But even with mild winters, I still get that spring project fever when it gets warm enough to not need to wear a sweatshirt. My first spring project was painting the trim on the pillars. A simple task – and yet it took a year for me to care enough to finally do it.

Each day this kid has a new bonk or scratch. Being a three year old boy explorer is not without its downsides.

Hallie will be turning 12 this fall. 12 is a big age in our church because you move from the primary (young kids program) to the young women (12 and older). We attended a special event to welcome in all the new girls who turn 12 this year. She couldn’t be more excited to be apart of this group. I’m trying not to be nostalgic because she is so happy about it, but I’m having a hard time swallowing the fact that she’s old enough. No more primary programs? New Wednesday night activities? Girls camp? What??

Hallie enjoys being in the kitchen with me and she’s able to help out much more these days. She’s always willing to help me try a new recipe and this particular day we were trying chocolate covered cinnamon bear popcorn.

Out takes from a few of our weekly photoshoots.

I bought this helmet at the goodwill for three dollars. It was a good purchase and has become the popular toy – Bennett doesn’t play football, but he makes sure to wear it while eating his pretzels.

Now that we have early church, and Steve is around more, Sunday afternoons are game time. Steve is making sure to teach them all his favorite strategy games and he’s taught them well because they usually beat him.

After our sledding excursion, our patio looked like this.

Saturday mornings are made for yard work and Briggs’ enjoys a freshly cut lawn – just like his father.

We take turns hosting Hunter’s friends after school for backyard football games and cookies.

Before school, the kids were waiting on the porch with their umbrellas until they saw the bus. Steve sprinted out to the but with them and grabbed all the umbrellas. Interesting fact: The kids don’t typically have recess on rainy days.

Sunday night family dinner when family (my lovely sister-in-law in the back) was visiting from Wisconsin.


Hunter’s class didn’t make fancy Valentine boxes – instead they each decorated paper bags. Of course his had a Green Bay Packer football player on it.

The hammock we purchased in Mexico has been used far more than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s between two posts on our back porch and they’re usually fighting to do their homework in it.

For Valentine’s Day we opted for a fancy family dinner at Red Robin. We rarely take the kids out to dinner like this – it’s usually not worth the headache – but the kids were on their best behavior and made sure to get our money’s worth of their bottomless fries.

Hunter really worked hard on his biography report. He was assigned Ben Carson and knew nothing about it before the project. His favorite part was creating the powerpoint presentation to go along with his oral presentation. When I was in second grade we were taught how to color in the lines – he’s learning powerpoint and excel.

Cannon got a new book and he requested that it was read every single morning. Steve was filling the quota before he left for work.

We have entered the world of Cub Scouts with Hunter. I’m grateful for leaders who take the time and make it fun and special for him because he absolutely loves going. He’s disappointed when there are pack meetings and he doesn’t go to scouts. The blue and gold banquet had a wild, wild, west theme.

Bennett did a science project with a solar oven and s’mores. Not sure he learned a whole lot but he loved the end product.

And that’s a winter wrap!

Briggs’ First Haircut…

Briggs’ hair was looking a little sloppy and a little wispy. The hairs over his ears were starting to curl and the top comb over was prominent. The back of his hair was curly and was the start of a great mullet. It was everything to expect in baby hair. But it was baby hair. And the older he gets, the less I see my baby and it was time to make the transition.  My baby no longer.

Except that he still cries a lot which is a good reminder that maybe he’s still my baby for a while longer.

Briggs' first haircut

He was more sad about the haircut than I was. That one little tear was suspended on his cheek throughout the entire haircut. He would calm for a minute and then quickly return to wailing. As if each individual hair that I cut was a painful slice.
Briggs' first haircut

Briggs' first haircut

Briggs' first haircut

I was left with a little pile. For my first two kids, I saved the hair from the first cut – and then I realized I didn’t need it. I don’t keep traditional scrapbooks and I couldn’t think of a reason to save it. So I scooped up this pile and tossed it as if it was just another haircut. If I change my mind about wanting to save some, I’ll just grab some from his next haircut – no one will know the difference! 🙂

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