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!

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