Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Week in Washington


(Excuse me while I play a little bit of blogging catch up...)

After spending nearly our entire summer laboring on our backyard we finished off August with a relaxing week visiting Papa and Rara Hill in Washington. It was a fantastic week with nothing we had to do. Actually, at first I was feeling pretty guilty about lounging around on the couch watching TV. After a few days I warmed up to the idea and relaxed completely guilt free. It was FABULOUS! Just what we all needed. The busyness of life had caught up with all of us and we needed to take some time to forget about it all and just enjoy each other. 

We spent a good part of our week in our swimsuits. Hailey helped Kyle mow the lawn, Keira ran around in just a diaper- and loved it. And I soaked it all in.



Keira's classic underbite smile.


Kyle found his grandpa's old pellet rifle in his parent's garage. He set up some tin cans to use as target practice while the girls looked on.











One evening we went out and played some pickleball. That was a blast. I really am not very good at it, but after a little bit of practice I began to warm up to it. Hailey took a shot at it too. When we really got down to playing she became the ball girl. She took her duties seriously, when she was paying attention. :)







And of course there was the pool. We spent some time nearly everyday swimming. The girls loved it. In fact, I loved it! I get bored swimming pretty quickly, but this time was different. I didn't have anyone clinging to me for dear life. Hailey finally opened up to the idea of swimming on her own with a floatie. Keira just went for it, with no thought of fear. She was perfectly happy to bob along on her own next to someone.








Both girls loved jumping in and out of the pool. On the side and off the diving board. Kyle tricked Hailey into jumping off the diving board all on her own. He stood on the board with her, counted down, and she jumped while he didn't. After that she did jump after jump on her own. She even swam all over the deep end all on her own while wearing her floaties. It was so good to see her enjoying herself and learning that she is capable of doing more than she thinks she can.







Keira the little daredevil saw Hailey jumping off of the diving board ran straight for it herself. I swam to the deep end as fast as I could in an attempt to beat her there, knowing full well she'd climb aboard and step right off. She is still working on getting some air when she jumps, so Kyle caught up to her and helped lower her into the water while I caught her. That satisfied her desire enough. That girl is crazy.

Keira also got a huge thrill out of being thrown into the air and splashing back down in the water. Kyle and Papa heard constant pleas of "up-please!"






We also were able to catch up with some longtime friends, nap in the afternoon, and enjoy quality family time.  And with the beginning of the college football season and the US Open going on we watched an unhealthy amount of football and tennis. Isn't vacation fantastic?




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Where Did the Summer Go!?

This summer disappeared so fast! It is already mid-September and I am having Lagoon withdrawals. Boo...

I say that, but to be honest I absolutely love the fall. The crisp air, the feeling of change, a new start with a new school year, football games, Halloween, apple cider and hot chocolate... (and my birthday, but we're skipping it this year). 

I'm not ready to completely say goodbye to summer on the blog yet. I guess that's the advantage of being behind on posting, I can keep it summer as long as I want!

August ended up being fairly cool and wet this year. It was pretty nice actually. Especially for our brand new lawn we put in. No worries over it not getting enough water! One evening when a summer rainstorm set in the girls put on their swim suits and went out to play. And because it just looks hilarious, I gave them each a floatie to wear as they ran around.


Hailey had a blast! She ran up and down the side walk screaming and splashing!


Keira on the other hand thought a bit more about it and mostly watched. (With one piggie in, one piggie out.)


It didn't take too long before Keira was done. I don't blame her, it was actually just under 60 degrees out there. Not exactly swimsuit weather. Hailey didn't care and played a bit longer until I dragged her inside to warm up.

That August weather some days felt a bit more like fall. It was so refreshing! Now it nearly is fall, everyone is back in school and back to a routine we go again. (Though not yet on the blog- I still have yet to blog about our vacation we FINALLY took at the end of August.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Yard Re-Do, Part 3: Sod

After all of our hardwork this summer, the time had finally come for sod! The old weeds and grass were dead and cleared away, topsoil was brought in, sprinkler lines were adjusted for hopefully optimum coverage, new curbing was in place, weeds that grew back were pulled out, and the ground was level, or as level as we, the non-professional diy-ers, could make it. 


It. Was. Time. FINALLY! 

We had 5 pallets of sod delivered to our home. Never in my life had I ever been so happy to see grass!

 


Kyle came home early from work that day to get started. It was Friday, and we knew we had to get started right away or sod laying would spill over into Saturday. 



Kyle laid an entire pallet on his own before I had the chance to come help him. My mom came over around dinner time and helped watch the girls. Then I put my work gloves on and joined him. Laying sod isn't hard to do, but all of the bending and lifting makes it physically exhausting! Thank goodness we have some good friends (and my dad) who came out and saved the day. Just the addition of a few extra bodies dramatically sped up the process. We are so grateful to them for helping us! Seriously, by ourselves, Kyle and I would have been at it clear into Saturday afternoon had we not received some help. We are extra grateful for the help knowing it was a bit of a sacrifice. Isn't laying sod on everyone's list of favorite Friday evening activities? :) 
  



There it is all done and green. Kyle and I couldn't believe our eyes the next day when we saw it in full sunlight. Green grass in our backyard! It really looks like a different place. I really nearly cried. Now our girls have a space at our home where they can run around and play!


The grass is in and green as ever. In fact, Kyle is out mowing as I type. But... there is still a lot of work to be done to completely finish our backyard transformation. I don't want to post a full before and after picture yet, I want to wait until it really is finished. For now, here is a pre-sod and post sod.



The girls and I have been able to enjoy the new yard already. We have picnicked, read books, and brought out the soccer ball. Now I can actually spend a little time in the garden (which is a total mess this year, but full of tomatoes, grapes, and peaches) without worrying what those two are getting into. I never realized how important a good backyard would be to me, until we really didn't have one. Hurray for one more step towards completion!

If you missed out on all of the work we've done see our yard clean up, new patio, adding topsoil, and new deck.

Monday, August 11, 2014

An Evening at Lagoon

After spending a straight week+ of evenings working on the new deck we decided it was deserving celebration of it's completion. Off to Lagoon we went! I have taken the girls there at least once a week all summer long. It's a blast. Sometimes we meet up with friends, sometimes we hang at the water park, and most of the time we raise our hands in the air and ride the rides. Kyle has been a handful of times with us (and once on a man-date with Chad), but not enough! Once we got a free night, Lagoon was definitely calling our name.


We hung out in kiddie-land. Though Hailey was most excited to have Kyle with her so she could ride Bombora, a REAL rollercoaster, not the little dragon one. Hailey is big enough to ride it accompanied, Keira is not. So when we go poor Hailey looks fondly at Bombora and always comments that she'll get to ride it next time Dad comes with us.

Keira loves the whales, and raises her hands way up in the air and she goes up and down and all around.


I do think Keira's overall favorite ride is the cars. She is always super anxious to get in- she's even shed a few tears over having to wait her turn. Once it's her turn her face immediately lights up and you can't get her in that car fast enough. I'm glad she isn't 16 yet, we have some work to do on driving, she yanks that wheel back and forth as fast as she can- it would make anyone sick to ride with her driving!





I am NOT a roller coaster rider. I get car sick pretty easily. And I really don't like that stomach drop feeling (which Kyle says is a tickle). Hailey has been able to talk me into a couple of bigger rides, like Bombora. How do I say no to her? What am I going to do when she's big enough to ride the really big roller coasters!? Anyway... Hailey asked, so I rode on the pirate ship with her. Luckily for me there were restrictions on where Hailey could sit, so we were in the middle, the more calm area of the ride. That was a good spot for me. I don't know if I could handle the very back. It doesn't look that bad watching it, but something changed once we were on and suddenly it was a lot bigger of a ride than I had thought! Yes, I am a total whimp. 





Though I'm not big on riding the rides, I still love trips to Lagoon because I enjoy watching my girls have fun. I'm sad summer is almost over, what are we going to do without Lagoon!?


Friday, August 8, 2014

Yard Re-Do, Part 2: Deck

Before we first bought our home we paid for an inspector to come out and look it over. He mentioned to us that the deck needed some TLC. Really, it was pretty obvious it needed something. What he failed to notice or mention was that it needed more than just TLC, it needed to be replaced. After years of wear and winters of snow piled up on it, the support beams underneath had begun to rot, a couple of them nearly completely through. We didn't realize this until one day when Kyle stepped out on it and felt the decking begin to give way underneath him. It was then we decided it needed to be torn down and replaced.

Deck before. Kyle started working on taking it down before I got my camera out. So here it is at the beginning of deconstruction.
Here is some of the rotting wood we discovered during tear down.



After the deck was torn down the house sat for over a year with no new decking. Until this summer when we fully began to tackle our backyard transformation. While I was in Washington for my sister's wedding open house, Kyle and his dad put up the frame for the main portion of the deck. A few weeks later Kyle began work on the rest. Since we put in the patio last fall, we decided to shrink down the size of the deck to just a landing down to the patio, instead of clear across the back of the house.








We did a lot of back and forth on what type of material to use for the decking. Composite vs. redwood. It was a hard decision! Ultimately when it was time to make the decision we opted for the redwood. Composite has a lot of fantastic advantages, but we decided redwood was a better choice for us right now: Kyle understood how to work with it, we could stain it whatever color we would like, it doesn't get melt-your-feet-off-hot in the sun, and it costs half as much as composite. 

Look! A deck! No railing, but the decking is complete!

I love the wide stairs. They are the same width as the deck.



Once it was time for the railing the construction became a two man job. I got out my work gloves and Kyle set me to work cutting down the balusters.  




I didn't get any pictures of putting the railing up because I was busy helping Kyle by holding railing in place, checking that everything was level, and putting screws in place while Kyle came along with the drill to secure them down. It was a straight week of deck building in the evening. We would eat dinner and then head outside to work on the deck. Some evenings I wouldn't make it out until the girls were in bed, other times they went to Papa and Rara's house to play. Kyle and I would work until dark, until we really couldn't see any more. Then inside for a shower, quick TV show and then bed.

Now it's done. Another project to check off of our forever-long to-do list. 



And we love it! We still need to pick out a stain. That can wait for a little bit. We're just happy the construction is over and we have a functional deck once again!

Notice the addition of curbing? This yard is starting to come together! Next step: sod.

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