Friday, July 18, 2014

Wonderful Baptism Weekend!

We had a very busy but wonderful week.  We worked very hard to finish (95%) of the patio, get the house cleaned, and get food prepared for Josh's baptism.

The baptism itself was great - Josh was the only baby being baptized and the deacon did a fantastic job.  Here are some pictures from after the sacrament (the "baptism" photo is a reenactment).

I'm not sure how we only ended up with one picture of my parents together with Josh but they both had their eyes closed - hopefully someone else got a better one!

We had a lot of family in town for the baptism and we wanted to treat them right for coming so far.  I made a LOT of food for the pre-baptism lunch.  Here are a couple of my more colorful dishes.

Since we don't entertain often, I forgot how much work it is to throw a party but it was definitely worth it!  We are so blessed to have such a wonderful family support us. 

I mentioned that the patio is 95% complete - there are still two small wall sections to finish around the fire pit area, some "privacy" lattice to install, landscaping, and dirt removal.  I'll try to get some preliminary "after" pictures to post next week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Coming Up Short

We thought this weekend would be the end of patio work...and we were wrong.  We got very close to finishing only to realize that we were short about 100 pavers.  We knew the store wouldn't be open on Friday for Independence Day so we tried to go over on Saturday to buy the remaining blocks.  I called first to made sure they were open and checked their website - no mention of being closed on Saturday.  So we got the kids in the car and drove over only to find that it was indeed closed.
This left us with only two things to work on - the fire pit and remaining wall sections.

To fill the rest of the weekend, we bought and planted some flowers in our planters to make the patio look inviting once it is finished.  We took a look at patio furniture too and realized that we either didn't like it or it was too expensive.  We may just have to borrow some neighbors furniture for the upcoming baptism party.

The work we did accomplish turned out very nice indeed.  The fire pit is ready for action and the walls are very close to finished.  The flowers and plants look great and hopefully will remain nice (I am horrible at remembering to water them!).  Having a party in one week means that we have a lot of work to do - inside and out!

I'll end today with a couple pictures of the kids from the week.  Hope you had a great Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Patio Progress!

I'm normally pretty good about updating this blog about once a week - I just like to sum up each week more for my own records later.  The last couple weeks though have been a little busier than normal.  Unfortunately, this means a very long post!

The last post was all about how the plate compactor wouldn't start for us.  So much has changed since then! 

I went to two different stores to try to exchange the non-starting compactor with a working one. It was a struggle in itself with the two kids and stores that are about an hour away.  Fortunately, this one started right up (with a little frustration first though - nothing is ever easy).

We still had steps and a wall to build before we could lay any pavers.  Those things are always the most tedious - making sure everything is level and in line, cutting large blocks, etc.  Between the work being tedious and the kids being uncooperative (only one of us can really work at a time) it took awhile to get to the point where we can show major progress. 

Once we had a working compactor, things moved pretty quickly on the upper patio (until we ran out of gravel and had to get more delivered - but that's another story altogether).  The most time consuming part is getting the correct slope on the patio before you lay any pavers - you always want the water going away from the house!


Now that the steps and wall were built and the patio gravel was compacted and sloped correctly it was time to lay some pavers!   

Since it is such a challenge to work when the kids are awake (keeping them entertained, playing referee, feeding, changing, etc., etc.) we started working mostly when they were sleeping.  This meant working in the hottest part of the day (mid afternoon) and in the evenings.  We have been working from about 8 to midnight most nights of the week to get this finished. 

Because we've been working at night (and covering everything with tarps when we're done) I don't have very good pictures of the progress.  This is the best I have for now (Chris actually took a picture of me working too!):

We are so close to finishing the upper level - just the fire pit and area surrounding it (including a couple wall sections).  Unfortunately, Storm Arthur will be making an appearance and will halt all of our work...maybe this long weekend we'll be able to finish.

Besides the patio, we've had plenty more going on.  We've been busy seeing friends and going on play dates during the week.  We had our friends Cat and Joe over for dinner one night and Samantha was in love with Mr. Joe.  Poor Joe didn't get much time to visit because he was being bossed around by a toddler to do puzzles and build sand castles.  It was great to see them though!

Our small play group is starting to do letters of the alphabet play dates twice a week.  It's great to get the kids back to some structured activities like we did during the winter.  I hosted my first one for the letter C - we made cars, saw many C animals (with crafts, books, and songs), and ate cookies when we went "camping."  The other kids are still talking about their camping adventure so I think it was a success.  Now I just need to come up with some good ideas for my other letters (F, I, L, O, R, U, X) - some of them are difficult!

We also went to Clark's Farm.  It has a large playground area, petting zoo, hay rides, and a storybook forest.  Sam had a lot of fun looking at the animals - we need to go back sometime soon.

A local private school hosts an Early Enrichment series for ages 2 - 5 each month.  It is at a beautiful campus and way out of our price range ($10K for age 3 preschool) but it's great to get to experience it.  This month's class was all about bubbles and the bubble paintings they did were great.  Samantha always wants to get dressed up when we go to the "fancy school" and I can't say I blame her - it's nice!

One last thing we did was during a hot afternoon over the weekend (we needed a break from patio work).  My group at work has a picnic each summer at a house on the river.  We got to see some co-workers and eat good food.  The highlight of course was the ride on Mr. Jack's catamaran.  Samantha got to sit on one of the trampoline sections up front and loved watching the water go by under the boat. 

Josh was a little less impressed.

And of course here are just a few pictures of the kids from the last couple weeks.


Notice a size difference (we thought Samantha was a big baby!)?

Since this was a really long post, I'll end with this video of Josh "talking" to me.  He's really becoming more vocal!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

(Un)Happy Father's Day and Giant Baby!

After the travel last weekend, this weekend was spent close to home.  We wanted to take advantage of the last of the less humid and cooler days of the weekend to work on the patio.

Saturday was spent moving the rest of the gravel to the back and leveling it out with rakes and shovels.  We also worked on the steps going from the lower to upper patios.  This area looks great but is still not's always harder/longer to get work done with a toddler and infant to tend as well!

The next step was to tamp down the gravel to the correct depth and slope.  We have been trying to buy a new plate compactor for awhile now but they never seemed to be in stock at our local store.  So we finally found one that was about a half hour drive away and went to buy it on Thursday evening.  We pulled it out of the box on Sunday - it looked pretty nice too.

Unfortunately, it would NOT START.  Chris tried everything he could think of to get it to start to no avail.  After about 4 hours of complete frustration, he gave up.  We put it back in the box to exchange later.  The bad part of this was that we missed out on some ideal work weather - not to mention Chris having a horrible Father's Day.

But speaking of Father's Day, Chris is the father to two pretty great kids.  Josh is a very happy baby (when he's not wet, hungry, or tired!).

 And they get along well (for now) with the exception of the aggressive loving that Samantha shows sometimes. 

Looking at this picture, is it any wonder people think Josh is 6 months old instead of 2?  What a huge baby!

I took Josh to his 2 month well appointment and he is still way off the charts for weight and length.  He measured 16 lb. 15 oz. and 25 1/4 inches.  If he keeps up on this path, he'll be at least 6'4" and 220 lb by age 20 - yikes!

This coming weekend, we hope that we get some nice/cooler weather so we can finish up the patio!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Traveling with the Kids

This week was busy like every other.  Samantha had her last dance class, we had multiple play dates, and library trips. 

My brother drove down for a day to spend some time with the kids.  Samantha really enjoyed having him here and it was a big help to be able to run some quick errands while he stayed with the kids.  It wasn't the most exciting trip for him but hopefully we can have more fun next time he's down.  

We made our first (mostly successful) trip with the kids.  We headed to Columbus to celebrate our niece's graduation from high school.  In order to make the most of our trip, we headed up Thursday evening and stayed with Chris' parents. 

Friday morning we drove the remaining distance and spent some time at COSI (the science center) and had a nice walk and lunch in German Village.  Samantha enjoyed the science center and both kids were pretty well behaved. 

Our hosts were very gracious and allowed us to stay in the apartment attached to their house - it made nap/night time a lot easier this way. 

With all the family in town I was able to spend some quality time with Josh without Samantha trying to love him to death at the same time.

Samantha really enjoyed spending time with the whole family.  There was a lot of bouncing on the trampoline.  Here is a picture of her with Anna (the soon-to-be graduate) and another of pure silliness.

She got her first "big kid" bike and did a pretty decent job pedaling it around the driveway.  

Her favorite cousin of the weekend was Isabelle - poor Isabelle never got a break! 

She did enjoy the additional dogs too and Lucy and Leo were very gentle.

Saturday morning we walked around the Ohio State campus to see where Anna will be attending in the fall.  Even though Chris spent his college years there, the campus has had a lot of renovations and additions since then.  Being a Penn State graduate, I begrudgingly allowed my picture to be taken in front of the Ohio State sign (I tried to give a thumbs down with a frown-y face but I was chastised).

While walking, Samantha kept stepping off the path when people were near to let them pass...this is something we make the kids do on the path around the lake at home when there are runners/bikers.  I tried to explain that these sidewalks and paths were wider but she still insisted (at least she was trying to be polite).

The family party was on Saturday evening (for some reason we're missing many pictures of the rest of the family).  It was great seeing everyone!  Plus I got a break from holding Josh the whole time so my arms are nice and rested today.

On Sunday, before the actual graduation ceremony, we had a big family brunch at the Scioto Country Club.  It was fantastic food - as evidenced by Samantha's three full plates!

The private balcony overlooking the golf course was a nice place for taking pictures too.

Unfortunately, only about half of the cousins made it so here is a photo of 8 of the 14.

As with every family gathering, people start to question which parent the children resemble.  So for comparison sake, here are photos of the kids with Mommy and Daddy at about the same age - what do you think?

We weren't able to make it to the graduation so we headed home.  We broke up the trip by meeting my parents for a late lunch/early dinner.  After we left them, we had to drive through some storms and very slow traffic.  The plus side was the beautiful rainbow (always hard to photograph!). 

This week we hope to get some more work accomplished on the patio - especially before the full summer weather hits!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Berries are In!

This was a slow week work wise due to the rain almost every day.  Another reason is the Chris had to go in to work on Saturday morning.  We were able to move some of the base gravel for the upper patio this evening.  The pile in the driveway is getting smaller and smaller - pretty soon we'll be able to park side by side again!

We did have some fun - I took the kids to the summer reading kickoff celebration at the library on Saturday, we went to a cookout with friends, and we had our sister-in-law and niece stop by for a visit. 

Our garden is looking better and better - probably the healthiest plants we've had in this garden.  Our strawberries are doing great in the planter box I made.  We've been able to harvest a few handfuls every day so it has become our "dessert" after dinner.  Delicious!

Josh continues to grow like a (chubby) weed.  He's 16 pounds now and he's on track to exceed the Skocik family record of 18 lb. at 3 months old.  He's awake a lot more during the day and starting to smile a lot more too.  I tried to get a picture of the adorable open mouthed baby grin but they didn't turn out well so this is all I have for this week.

Hopefully this week we'll have some nice evenings to continue hauling tons of gravel so we can put in the upper patio soon!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend - TONS of Progress!

This was quite the busy week!  The week included some fun (field day, dance class, play date) and a lot of doctor/dentist appointments.  The kids did a very good job behaving this week so I was very grateful. 

The big news of the week though is the progress on the patio.  We started this work back in October so it's been a long time coming. 

My parents came down to help us and it was wonderful!  My mom watched the kids while my dad helped us on the patio.

We started out with adding more base gravel material and lots of tamping.  It takes a long time to get the slope correct over the whole surface - and many passes with the compactor.

Once the slope was correct, we added a layer of sand before starting the installation of the patio pavers.  

We decided on a herringbone pattern in the center of the patio with a straight border to make it look a little fancier. 

Due to our pattern, we needed to cut several pavers.  This was a very loud and dusty operation!

The majority of the work this weekend was back breaking.  There was so much shoveling, pushing heavy wheelbarrows, lifting, moving, and placing large wall blocks and hundreds of patio pavers.  Each of us easily carried tons (literally) of material.  I think we'll all be sleeping well and be very sore tomorrow!

We were able to finish the lower patio and lower wall.  We still need to install the steps, upper wall, upper patio, and fire pit. 

At the beginning of last week the area looked like this:

And now it looks like this (with some added gravel to the upper level):

It's going to be slow going to complete the patio with no help with the kids but Samantha was enjoying the lower patio today so maybe she'll entertain herself by riding her bike in circles!

I'll end this post with a picture of our big sleepy baby.  After carrying all those pavers, blocks, and wheelbarrows of gravel, he seems light!