Monday, May 13, 2013

Home Improvements

Preparing for cement
Mixing cement

Patio extension poured
Bar moved onto patio
Bar with backer board
Bar partially tiled
Hailey in the backyard doing an Easter Egg hunt
7 yards of mulch for the yard
Rachel spreading mulch

New flowering cherry tree, flower beds, rock path

Home Improvements
We've undertaken a few home projects recently, many of the outdoors. (Yes, January to April is the perfect time to work outside. Be jealous all you cold weather folks!).

We've been working on the back patio with grand plans of a covered suite complete with misting fans, a wet bar, a lounge couch, and an outdoor TV. Turns out that all takes money.... so we're not done, but in the last month we've make some great progress. Scott, John, Kevin, and Bruce worked on it over Thanksgiving, but the project was put on hold due to to poor weather (you know, rainy and cold.... not snow :) ) and the next thing we knew it was "busy season" at work for Bruce.
During busy season Bruce traveled to Jackson, Mississippi for most of the month of January. When he was in town he would leave form work about 7:30 am and return home between 10:00 pm and midnight. He worked weekends, and generally had no time to do anything but sleep and work, so the bar waited.
 After his client filled their earning statement he was given a few days off. We celebrated with 800 lbs of concrete. I've become a bit of a softy, so I carried a couple bags, maybe a whole half dozen, but Bruce carried the rest of the concrete from the garage to the patio and then lifted them into the mixer. He was a little sore the next day, but the patio was poured and a week later we bolted down the bar.

Bruce ordered the parts of our latest toy- the carbonator! It's a home carbonation device. Like the commercial product "Soda Stream," but WAY cooler. While visiting for Christmas, Ben Merritt gave us a CO2 tank, so Bruce ordered another $70 in parts and built our very own carbonator. The maiden voyage was homemade lemon lime soda (we couldn't find root beer concentrate at the stores close to home).

With the bar bolted, we started cutting backer board. We've almost cut and attached all the backer board. The next step is tile the bar. We chose a dark slate for the sides and a light marble tile for the counters. Should look pretty cool.

After tile the patio will be on  hold until the project fund can be restored, but it will be completely usable and look finished. When we resume work we'll add a roof, fans, misters, furniture, etc.

Pre-busy season we started another project: yard renovations. We love our backyard and chose our house, in part, for the large yard. Last fall, Bruce cut the grass from the perimeter of the yard to create flower beds. We bought a few fruit trees and made room for a garden. Recently, I  tilled the beds and planted a garden. We cut out a bush in the front and created a tree bed (like a flower bed, but for trees... maybe I made it up), added a flower bed, and reshaped an existing bed. And last weekend we finished laying landscape fabric and spread mulch. It's nice to look out and see a pretty, finished yard. We need to add some plants, but need to figure out what first.
Rock path, area for sand box (back right corner near fence), tomato plants (right)

Those have been the two great sink-holes for our money recently. 

Other home projects include a finished living room, a painted master bathroom, and ideas for some of the other rooms.

Living Room
Bruce built some small side tables which I painted black. I potted some leafy, fern-like palm in a pot that I got off someone's curb because literally, their trash is my treasure, or in this case, my living room decoration. Bruce suggested painting it so if anyone knows if you can paint giant ceramic pots, let us know. And with those final touches, I consider the room complete (don't mind that the curtains need to be hemmed.... ask again in a year or two).

Master Bathroom
We painted the girls bathroom a grey that we found in the garage and like it, so we decided to do the same to our bathroom. We have grey walls and black cabinets. Someday we'll have all white linens including the shower curtain... maybe even some wall art, and the bathroom will be finished.

Ideas for other Rooms
I finished painting the base coat for some family wall art and finally settled on an image, so Laurel will paint it for us and with art and some more curtains the family room will be finished.

We decided that baby 3 (we are accepting name submissions- real and otherwise since we haven't name the fetus or the baby yet) will share a room with the girls (it's a girl!) and with 3 girls, it's probably time to resign ourselves to girly paint. :) We're thinking we'll paint their room brown and pink.

Bruce is getting antsy, which means it's time for me to start caring, to have the master bedroom decorated. We need nightstands, curtains, a couch cover, paint, and some wall decorations. We'll see what we decide.

Other rooms need curtains to keep the summer sun out, but room design is still unknown.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Growing Up

The girls are growing up. Here are some photos of the girls at the park. May 2013.

Hailey love being big. She enjoys preschool (once a week, co-op I do with some other mom's from church) and retains what she learns surprisingly well. She'll occasionally tell me facts that she learned at preschool during our regular day. I'm always impressed that she remembers what she learned a day, or even a week before.

She loves Sunbeams class at church and tells us that she goes to Sunbeams (sharing time) and to her small class. If she has a handout from class she insists that she made it in her "other class," not in Sunbeams. She loves to play on the grass after church. Occasionally, we only take one car to church (or always, before the van was working) and the girls and I play on the grass and in the nursery while Bruce counts tithing. She's always devastated to hear that I want to go home, not play on the grass.
We try to do an activity most days of the week. Monday is swimming day, and a highlight of the week. Tuesday is library, Wednesday is preschool, Thursday is park, and Friday is grocery shopping. Hailey will often ask "Which day is it, today?" meaning, what are we going to do today? And after I answer, she will often ask, "Can we go swimming today?"

Hailey and McKayla both love the pool. Hailey uses the pool as just another medium for the endless pretend play. Some times we bring Barbies or other toys to assist, but even without toys we pretend that we're going to look at "something beautiful" or that we're "friends," or any other scenario she can orate.
McKayla has become quite daring in the pool. The first week she cried when she wasn't being held, and then she would walk on the handicap ramp to waist deep for our hour at the pool, then she split time between the stairs and the ramp, now she walks from the end of the ramp back to the stairs through water that is nearly too deep. She makes it across the deepest part by tilting her head back so only her face is out of the water. She doesn't want help and grins even when she goes under. I have to constantly watch her and save her from drowning at least a half dozen times each visit. Now she's more aware of her limitations and does not worry me quite as much. Good thing since the outdoor pool opens in just a few weeks.

Hailey's become much more social, particularly with strangers. She loves to chat with the women in the locker room about why they are going swimming and that she just went swimming, and that she's going to have a picnic, or play at the park. But, when she's nervous, she doesn't say a word, sucks her thumb, and wants to be held. It's cute. She was recently at a birthday party and pretty nervous. The host said she was reserved and sucked her thumb the whole time, but when it was time to take a picture Hailey took her thumb out, struck a pose for the picture, and then put her thumb right back.

McKayla is learning how to play; she like to tease, usually in a good way, but she'll pull hair or kick just to get a rise out of her sister. The funniest is when Hailey is napping on the couch and McKayla wants to play. McKayla will run over and pull Hailey's hair, or steal the blanket to wake Hailey. My favorite moments are when I get down on the carpet, even if I'm there to clean, and McKayla comes running, excited to rough house. She and Hailey love to do "dog piles" and be tickled, and rough-house in the family room. McKayla's not old enough to play pretend with Hailey, but sometimes they will pull out the play food and both "make soup" or get the duplos and build. McKayla loves to vacuum with the pretend vacuum and has become very sensitive to messes on the table. If she spills she immediately fusses for a rag to clean it. She's not a professional quality cleaner, but she does pretty good for a 1 year old.

McKayla likes to push boundaries, so when we're out at the store or elsewhere, I have to be close enough to catch her. She's quick, so you have to be right beside her, or run to catch her before she pulls items off the shelf, or plays the piano in church, or takes off into a crowd. Sharron Sommerfeldt said she reminds her of Bruce when he was little. Oh please no, that's all I can say. :)

McKayla has some rough times in the day, she'll fuss and push, and want to be held. It's impossible to get the dishes clean (you have to hand wash before you load in the dishwasher because our dishwasher is special like that), or get dinner prepped, or do a list of other tasks. Silly girl- go play and be happy. We're going to try feeding her more since she often stops crying when you find her food.  :)

McKayla's experimenting more with vocalization. I'm impatient and want words, but recently I've heard sounds that are similar to words, so hopefully we'll hear "more," "food," and "up" soon. Today she was babbling and it sounded like a sentence. I hear an occasional "yeah," get regular head shakes to indicate "no," and she can say "bubbles" and "belly button"- both very important words for an emerging speaker.

Both are healthy and well. It's a joy to be part of their lives and see them grow.