Monday, February 25, 2013

We Have a Walker

We got a lot of small things accomplished this week.  They are not all worth writing about so I'll just give you the list.

1.  Moved both 1000+ lb planters into place
2.  Planted peas
3.  Cleaned up part of back yard
4.  Cut down ornamental grasses
5.  Cleaned up part of garden
6.  Added drywall compound to basement stairwell
7.  Made homemade applesauce
8.  Finished taxes
9.  Made grow lights

This last one is worth at least a picture.  We put together four lights total to help our garden seedlings grow.  To make them, we used some cheap light fixtures, Y-bulb sockets, a plug, and some scrap material that we had on hand. 

For the past couple years we had put our seeds in my office window at work.  They always got plenty of sun but ended up tall and "leggy."  So we decided to rig this to hopefully get some thicker plants this year.  Under the grow lights now are our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.  We'll keep our fingers crossed and our grow lights on (during the day at least!).

The big house news for this upcoming week is that we're getting our solar panels installed!  We are going with Solar City and doing the pay-as-you-go plan.  It will end up costing us about the same as we pay for our current utilities. 

Solar City's representative was rather surprised that they were able to increase the number of panels by 32% on our house - I guess it's pretty rare to get an increase (particularly one that big).  I guess it was beneficial to remove those large trees for more than one reason.  The panels will cover a significant portion of the back side of the roof. 

I'm sure I'll write more next week when they are all installed!

The big news on the Samantha front is that she walked for the first time this week.  She took five steps to get from Chris to me.  Of course we couldn't get any of this on video (although it wasn't for lack of trying!).  She still doesn't seem interested in walking on her own.  She will take a couple steps sometimes but it'll be awhile before she's walking all the time (thankfully!).

She still really enjoys food - I think it's her favorite time of day. 

 We've gotten into the habit of having a little snack in the den after her afternoon nap.  She really likes those pretzels!

I made some finger paint for her this week out of flour, sugar, salt, and water.  She didn't understand the painting aspect much but she really liked squishing it between her fingers - and the nice bath afterwards.

That's it for this week - next week we should have plenty of fun solar panel pictures!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Relaxing Week, Busy Weekend

We spent a lot of time relaxing this week.  But that means that we had some energy to actually accomplish some things this weekend. 

Some of the things we did were very small or easy but it's nice to get them checked off the list.  One of these was hanging the curtains in the den.  Now we won't be on display for the neighborhood at night. 

While Samantha was napping on Sunday we planted the seeds for our garden.  We planted peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.  There are a few trays like this for all the plants we'll have.  The grow lights are still not put together yet but the seeds can germinate in the meantime. 

While thinking about the garden, we realized that the large planters that I built last year were not in an ideal location.  While we were building the deck this fall the planters were moved a couple times.  They ended up on the side of the deck where they would get the least amount of sun.  

Each planter weighs about 1000 pounds so we had to use a lot of blocking and leverage to move them.  We only got one moved before Samantha got fussy so we'll do the other one some night this week.  Once they are in the right spot, we'll use these for the plants that have been constantly attacked by the groundhog.  Hopefully we'll get a larger bounty this year.  

Chris did quite a bit of brewing this week.  He is making a pilsner, a brown ale, and a Dortmunder Export.  He will be entering these into the NASA homebrew and "Barley Legal" competitions.  When we are making up lists of things to do on the weekend we always have to write "Brew Award Winning Beer."

One non-house related project I finished this week was the busy bags for Samantha's play group.  A busy bag is a small activity  that you can take with you in the diaper bag.  It is particularly helpful when you are in a public place - a restaurant, doctor's office, etc. and the kids need to be entertained.  

The play group is having an exchange here next week.  Each person will be bringing a different activity so each person will end up with 11 different busy bags.  I chose a foam matching puzzle - the kids will use the loose pieces in the bag to match up with the shapes on the foam board.  Each bag has two puzzles - easy and challenging.  It should be a lot of fun!

Another fun project was that I was finally able to work a little bit on Samantha's play kitchen.  I'll probably write a few posts later just on this project but here is the beginning of it. 

I started with a TV stand I found on craigslist for $10 and the small "above the refrigerator" cabinet from my parents (free!). 

The TV stand will become the fridge and a pantry.  The small cabinet will be the sink and stove/oven.  I spent a little bit of time making a bunch of modifications to these - removing hardware, cutting pieces to size, etc.  Once that was done, I filled holes, sanded, and primed everything.  This week I should be able to start assembly.

Samantha went shopping with me for some of the items I plan to use on the kitchen.   It took 4 stores to collect all these items but I'm in pretty good shape now. 

And here is just a taste for what I'm planning for the sink/stove.  I have a long way to go!

Samantha had a big week - we went to her one year appointment.  She got 4 shots, blood work, and found out that she has an ear infection.  She was a trooper though!

She is still growing like a weed.  She was 31 inches tall (96th percentile), 21 lb. 14 oz. (60th percentile), and her head grew to the 40th percentile (she used to be 25th).

She got some great gifts for her birthday.  One of the ones that she uses a lot is the little Minnie Mouse chair from my parents.  She uses it for reading...

...playing with her toys...

...and using as a step stool to get up to the "big chair."

She has been making us laugh a lot lately.  Here are some of our favorites:

She loves to be buried in laundry.

She enjoys "sneaking" onto the stairs to see if we're going to stop her (which we always do!).

She plays with her hair in the middle of dinner and ends up looking like Nick Nolte.

The swing at the playground is still a big hit.

She ends up with the craziest food faces - this particular one was after some black beans and rice.

Now that we're rested, hopefully we can finally finish some of the projects that have been hanging over our heads!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Now We Sleep (for at least a week straight!)

Well all of our late (and I mean 4:00 AM late) nights paid off.  We now have the rec room finished (with a couple exceptions) - and it was just in time for Samantha's birthday party.

We spent a lot of time finishing drywall compound, priming, painting, finishing stairs, installing trim, etc., etc.  We are both completely exhausted and are happy that we can go to bed at a reasonable hour.

My friend, Mindy, was kind enough to come watch Samantha for a few hours on Tuesday.  Chris took off of work that day and we were able to get all of the doors installed.  These are the doors to the laundry room, workshop, and eventual apartment.  Let's just say that installing doors is one of the activities that makes you want to poke your eyeball out with a shim.

Wednesday was all about the paint and trim - this room was very (extremely) bright with the primed walls.  We chose a shade of blue that took away the need to squint or shield your eyes when you're downstairs.  The picture below is a little darker than it looks in real life.

We got the carpet installed on Thursday and it made such a difference.  It took what was a large, loud, echo-y room and turned it into a nice, warm, quiet space.  

So in five short weeks we went from this...cold, dark, disgusting, and not level.

To this...bright, warm, level, and welcoming!

We still have a little work to do down here but it's mostly small things:
Install trim around fireplace and stairs
Caulk the trim
Touch up paint
Finish drywall in stairwell
Prime and paint stairwell
Finish painting toe kicks, treads, and railing/balusters

One area of major improvement was the stairs.  They aren't even done yet but they are so much better!

Samantha was fun this week.  I made the mistake of feeding her some pasta while the dog was in the kitchen this week.  Not only did she turn herself into a little Mel Gibson Braveheart wanna-be but she put pasta sauce covered hands on the dog.

We're spending some time each day playing with Samantha in the basement - it was totally worth it!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rainbow Birthday Party Fun!

I know I haven't posted the final basement pictures yet - more on that in another post. 

Parties are always more fun with a theme.  So for Samantha's first birthday party, I chose a rainbow theme.  I figured that small children really like bright colors and the party is just a glorified play date.  There were a lot of bright colors!  Here are plenty of pictures!

The birthday girl wore an adorable dress from my neighbor back home. 

The whole basement was covered in rainbow colors.  Even the food had a rainbow theme:
Pinwheels (spinach and tomato tortillas with ham, cheddar, peppers, etc.), Tri-color pasta salad, a Fruit Rainbow, Rainbow Veggies, Blue Tortilla chips (with salsa, guacamole, and queso), Rainbow Jello, Skittles, M&Ms, and Jelly Beans. 


And for dessert, a Rainbow Cake served with Rainbow Sherbet.

We had a photo banner of each month of Samantha's life - she was quite chubby for a few of those months!


The kids all played with the most colorful toys I could get my hands on - and the ball pit and parachute are always fun!

Samantha wasn't so interested in eating her cake - but she liked the candles and she ended up eating most of my cake.


We tried again the next day when we had friends over for lunch - she did a little better that time (and notice her baby sized rainbow cake!)

The kids all left with rainbow favors - a Slinky, mini-Frisbee, Beach Ball, and Crayon.  


We asked for donations to the local food bank instead of gifts but of course family bought her tons of gifts.  She had a great time unwrapping them (very, very slowly) and seems to really like everything she received.

Thanks to everyone who made her birthday special!

It's still hard to believe that a year has gone by.  We hope that the next year is just as fun as the first!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

DIY Basement

As you know, we finished about 500 sq. feet of the basement for Samantha's first birthday party.  Here, in pictures, is the progression of work (all completed in 5 weeks with a little one!).