Thursday, June 24, 2010


In June we took a quick trip to Houston. It was kind of a last-minute vacation, mostly to get out of town while we still could, but also to see my Uncle Charlie, Aunt Ann, and to go to the beach.

Our first outing was to the Children's Museum. It is a really fun museum- a little on the pricey side, but totally worth it.

The Bike Mechanics in their shop, making the big bucks. This was a really fun acty because they could earn a paycheck, deposit it in the bank, and withdraw funds to pay for needs/wants, and save the rest.

Water table fun outside- it was really hot and humid, but the water helped keep us cool. This was the boys' favorite part.

We went home to eat a great dinner and rest, thanks to the great hospitality of my family members. We all slept really well, which was good because the next day we went to the beach.
Building sand castles in the blistering sun. My poor swimsuit was stretched to the limit! (37 wks pregnant)

Max loved the water. He's trying to look polynesian here.

Not really sure what's going on here. We had lots of dramatic poses. Obviously we all had a great time.

Katrina's favorite thing was collecting shells- mostly tiny broken bits, but she collected whatever she could find. She has quite an affinity for small pieces of beauty.

We cleaned up -nothing feels so good as a shower when you're covered in sand, saltwater, sunscreen, and sweat. I lay down for a couple minutes and then we bid Aunt Ann and Uncle Charlie goodbye. It was a fun trip, even though we were only gone about 36 hours- which is pretty fast considering we drove about 11 hours of that.

Sadly, we came home to discover that our fridge/freezer in the garage had been left open, which meant a ton of thawed gross food. But it didn't ruin Father's Day. I think it was really Black and White Polka Dot Day- actually just a coincidence! But we had to take a picture.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bizarro Kitchen

Mark and I recently did a bunch of work in our kitchen. We thought we were possibly going to move, and asked a Realtor friend for advice about improvements we'd already considered. She gave us some input about what things should be our priorities and we decided to go for the kitchen. I thought about the "Before" pictures the day we started taking things apart; I was in the middle of babysitting for a friend and making cookies but you know if you don't take the pictures when you think of it they won't ever happen.

We decided to paint the cabinets white. I've always liked white cabinets and before I ever bought a house I thought I'd like white cabinets because of their classic look. However, we had white counters and backsplash and it seemed like it might wash out the room too much. So we decided to wait until we replaced the counters, which probably needed to happen since our previous ones had some damage (like drilled holes). What I was seriously wrong about was how much work it was going to be. We've painted a number of things, but this was just a ton of work. After all, we have a lot of cupboards: 34 doors and 16 drawers. It took probably 4 or 5 times as long as I'd thought. Mark was incredibly supportive of the project in every possible way.

What we ended up doing was buying a sprayer and spraying the cabinet doors. We laid them out in the garage on top of a tarp and sprayed. ( I took a picture of that, but it's on another computer which is currently in PA) It was a whole lot faster, although there was some learning curve with that, too. Since we have little kids and additional responsibilities, most of the work was done late at night. After one particular spraying session and the Day of the Countertops/New Sink & faucet, we waited a day and 1/2 to return to the project. Unfortunately, the cupboard doors stuck to the tarp. It took a lot of scraping and sanding to recover from that. Ultimately, Mark finished the project while I tried to keep the kids out of his way. With the new backsplash, I think our kitchen looks a lot different. We still have lots of touching up and the hardware pulls/knobs to add, but with my ADD tendencies, it may be awhile before I get to that.

And we determined that the new look is very different: a bizarro version of the kitchen we had before. Well, not totally- same basic structure and appliances. But the coloring is different on the surfaces: we had brown cabinets, white backsplash and counters, more brown cabinets, and a brown floor. Now all that is reversed! I told Mark it was like seeing the white version of him, or the black version of me. We had all sorts of fun imagining what the white Mark would look like: would he have red hair? Blond? Pale, freckled skin? And what about me? Would I have an afro or super short hair?

Of course the irony here is the same irony that applies to my insistence to replace carpet with wood floors: the girl who hates to sweep is also the one whose college roommate told me to decorate my kitchen in a "Spatter" theme (since I do enjoy cooking and baking but not so much cleaning). So yeah, white cabinets? Turns out they need a lot of wipedowns. That's okay, I can force myself into cleanliness.

The Happy Feet Spa

Wow, it sure takes me awhile to get around to posting things. We took this trip in the middle of May, I uploaded the pictures in June, and am just now pushing the "publish" button. We took a trip to Kansas on a last-minute spontaneous adventure. Mark and I wanted to vote in the very controversial mayoral election that morning, so we had a bit later start than we wanted (who knew how long the lines would be at 7 am on a Saturday at City Hall?!?), but we were blessed to make fabulous time and only had one 9-minute stop for gas and visiting the facilities. I stamped my legs as much as possible to get the circulation going.

The reason for the trip was our niece/cousin's baptism day! We were so happy to join her on this special occasion and made it just in the nick of time, thanks to changing in the car. She just glowed with joy.

The baptism girl with some cousins and siblings

Three sisters (in-law) all pregnant at the same time... Alice (far right) has since delivered. Kristie is having twins, so hers will probably be next. A child took this picture, which is why it's a less-than flattering view.

Katrina and Maria sharing a drink at Chili's afterward- Martha's pick of restaurant.

For Mother's Day, the children organized "The Happy Feet Spa" for the mothers and/or willing fathers. They gave massages, rubbed lotion, fanned us... it was very nice.

The best part of these trips is all the time we got to spend together. Only 500 miles and we have wonderful family members with whom to talk and play. Too bad we can't drop a zero (or two) from that mileage...

The Single Season of Texas

You thought this post would be about the hot TX summers, admit it! Well sorry to disappoint you, it's actually not- although it is a rant. To explain the seasonal reference: When I was a college student living in Utah, I was riding the bus one day to my dental appointment and overheard a conversation in which someone said, "There are 2 seasons to Utah: Winter, and Construction." (Mind you, this was in the mid-90s) If that is the case, then TX has one season: construction, construction, construction.

I realize that I am extremely whiny about this, and should be more patient with my town's growing pains. The city has grown by about 20-30% just in the 4 years since we've moved here, and it grew much more rapidly the ten years before that. Naturally, there are many adaptations that need to be made because of traffic patterns and residential and commercial changes. Most of it has not been too awful, because I prefer taking the back roads anyway. For that reason, I didn't even know the main road was finished until a few weeks after the fact. They did a great job and didn't take nearly as long as they could have. The next town spent a year and a half on one lousy intersection, just to add a silly turning lane and let me tell you, they chose to continue the traffic problems. So at least my town's better in that regard.

But the other main drag, a street which affects me more, they don't seem to be doing anything on! Which wouldn't be that big of a deal, except that they tore up the limited road that we had, reducing the already stifled amount of traffic that can pass on this highway. I know it's cheaper and more efficient, not to mention probably a lot more fun, to rip up road even if there are no plans to get to that road for awhile. But can there be some sort of deadline on when it gets done following the demolition?

My other beef is that the Construction Gnomes are busy trying to make life miserable for as many people as possible. You know what I'm talking about: they finish the road in spots, but does anyone get to drive on it? Of course not! They also pull little hilarious pranks like move a bunch of cones in an odd formation just so they can watch cars try to negotiate the new dimensions. Naturally, there are no needs for such cone manipulation. I think I brought on the Wrath of the Construction Gods one day because someone moved the cones and I had the guts to drive on the new road. The next day, they were back up in a swirly design, lest I lose my head and take that initiative again.

But that's all I can complain about for awhile, since this industry might be the livelihood of my family for the coming days...