Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Patio Progress: 95% Complete (with pictures!)

I know it's been a couple weeks since I posted...life got busy! 

I wanted to provide a little update on the patio - we're still about 95% complete.  We worked so hard to get it ready for the baptism party that we're tired and don't want to do any more right now.  The items still left to be completed are:
  1. Build small wall sections around fire pit area
  2. Remove remainder of dirt/debris/root pile
  3. Bury downspout and extension
  4. Move planter boxes
  5. Landscape 
Some of these items will wait until cooler weather (particularly landscaping).  We think it looks pretty good right now though - and it's functional!

It's also quite an improvement from the "Before" shot.

Last weekend, we took a trip to PA to visit with family and friends.  Traveling more than a couple hours away is rough with the kids but we had a good time. 

We went to a reunion with my parents sports car club.  There was a small pond there so Samantha went fishing with Uncle Rob.  She was pretty good at reeling and carrying worms around but she needed some help with this large mouth bass.  This is her "nice smile" face apparently.

In other news, our garden is definitely the best we've had since we moved here.  Here are a few shots of the produce from the last couple weeks.


We found renters for our condo (the previous tenants moved out a month ago after four years).  In order to get the condo ready for the new tenants, I spent over 16 hours cleaning everything over a few nights.  After dinner each night I would head over and clean until around 11.  It was in great shape when I was done!  I'm tired of cleaning though so I think our house will suffer for a couple weeks.

Now some pictures of cute kids.    

She does love her brother!

She loves him so much that she puts on tea parties for him in the den.

He really is a happy baby...

...with some really crazy hair!

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!