Thursday, August 21, 2008

Deck In Progress

With our deck needing painting desperately, basement flooding and rain water draining issues and Chris wanting an "under the deck" access plan, we decided in early summer that replacing the deck would be our summer project of choice. I must be honest up front that Chris has done 99% of the work, most of it during the hot, sweaty evenings! All but the framework has been replaced, including the deck boards, railings and balisters!
Here, Chris worked on the back 1/3 of the deck while the kids were up for a visit in mid-July. Keeping them off the deck was near impossible, but no one got hurt so that's a plus!!

We also had the concrete slab on the side of the house replaced this week, as you can see above that the previous slab had falled away and left in it's place a huge hole. Rainwater was seeping in through this hole into the window-well and down into the basement! Chris had a pump in the window-well for most of the summer as a temporary fix, but the new slab as well as an under-the-deck drainage pipe will hopefully eliminate the need for the pump!!

Chris ordered these awesome tiki torches which match the deck perfectly and give off much more light at night than we imagined possible.
A side view of our new concrete slab! Now that this is poured, Chris can finish the last 1/3 of the deck closest to the house. We can also start working on a rock border and flower bed that we plan to put in underneath the silver maple tree (right side of pic)! I know Chris is anxious to have this deck project finished! He had done such a good job, but I know that the project is getting OLD!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Goodbye GrandAM, Hello Camry

While, I was in Tulsa throwing Chrisltyn a birthday party last Friday, Chris miraculously sold his GrandAM. He placed a pictureless add on during lunch and by 2:30 he got a call about the car. By 4:30 it was a done deal, leaving him carless until I returned home Saturday morning. We had hoped it would sell but had no idea it would sell so quickly!!
So, Saturday when I got back from Tulsa, Chris and I went out car shopping! Let's just say I am married to the most awesome wheeler-and-dealer in the continental US! He had done his homework, bringing along spead sheets a-plenty to help us get the best deal possible! The car salesman wasn't the easiest to deal with, but after 45 minutes or so of going back and forth, we finally signed the papers on our new '09 Camry!!!
Because of an added safety feature, Vehicle Stability Control, that wasn't available on the base models on the lot, we had to wait until today to get the car! Doing all the work of buying a car without taking one home is a teeny bit anti-climactic, but the adrenaline rush hit this evening as we picked up our new car!! Chris compares his Grand AM to an old pair of comfortable jeans and the Camry to a brand new pair of shoes; it will take us awhile to "break in" the car and for it to feel like ours! We're both tremendously glad to have the whole process over!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tabletop Butterflies!

For those who have been following the kids' table construction, here are a few final pics! The sense of pride the kids displayed at their finished table was adorable! Once the table painting was complete and dry, Uncle Chris helped the kids with assembling the legs onto the table.
Of course, since we used 2x8s and 2x4s for the table top and small old ballisters (from our old deck) for the legs, it was a teeny bit top heavy, not to mention completely unstable.
That didn't keep the kids from laying, leaning and pushing on it! They wanted to build chairs to match the table! Another time, another place. . .another lifetime perhaps! (With the above mentioned stability of the table, I can only imagine what their chairs would end up like
Christlyn painted the roses and apples on the trees as well as the wild blueberry bushes in the "Messed Up Jungle"(see previous post for reference)! Ethan painted the trees, the bright sun as well as the "man cloud"! Now you don't have to wonder when gazing up at their hand painted sky what the clouds look like! He made it clear cut!!
And of course, the artist in Aunt Kathryn had to add her own finishing touches (without little fingers to smear it)! While the kids were napping, I painted the butterflies on the table, both of which species we had seen earlier that day at the butterfly garden!
Today while walking through the backyard, I spotted a butterfly identical to the one I painted on their table! I thought they'd get a kick out if it! If only they were still here to see it! :( Yes, I've been quite sad without the kids around, though I feel more rested and the house is much quieter!
I couldn't resist bringing my new pet butterfly inside to enjoy my freshly cut zinna floswer! Afterall, that is what she was snacking on in the backyard when I found her! Don't worry, I let her go!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekend Water Fun

What a difference a year makes!! Last summer when the kids visited our neighborhood YMCA waterpark, they steered clear of the deep end, avoided going under the water and would only jump in when caught by one of us. This year after completing swim lessons at their own YMCA, they were more than ready to hit the water! We spent three days at the pool and let's just say they wore me (and themselves) out!!
Friday the kids were lucky enough to hit the pool twice in one day. After a couple hours there in the afternoon, I brought the kids home for a nap and to wait for Uncle Chris to get home and join the water party! After dinner we headed back and the four of us had a blast together! The kids showed off for Uncle Chris all their fun tricks! Christlyn was glad to have a partner to hit the water slides with.
Christlyn mastered the art of underwater rocket swimming, swimming on her back and tackling both slides. Last year she wasn't quite tall enough to try the slides. This year Ethan was the one left out but I reassured him that next summer he should be as tall or taller than Sissy and be able to ride the slides. That didn't keep him from trying two days in a row to ride the slides. Hey, I guess it doesn't hurt to try, does it?
Saturday, Grammy joined the party at the pool, too! And once again the kids had to show off all their tricks. Ethan perfected under water summersaults, "spinning" under water as well as the famous cannonball jump! (I'm sure if you check out Grammy's blog soon, she'll have a video of all their tricks posted) Grammy tried the slide with Christlyn but somehow bonked her head so hard that I could hear it across the pool! I panicked and waded as fast as I could to where she sat at the bottom of the slide, looking slightly stunned and "out of it". She did recover, but not without giving the lifeguards quite a scare!!
We all got a nice tan from three days in the sun--that and Aunt Kathryn forgot to put sunscreen on the kids the first day, resulting in a slightly pink tinged faces! The next two days I faithfully applied the sunscreen every hour to the kids, much to their dismay. The combination of bright sun, chlorine and sunscreen when rubbed into little eyes creates quite the burn, burn, burn. I thought I was going to have to initiate a burning eyes intervention!! But, the only real cure is to wait it out, which didn't please either of the kids!
That's all the water fun for 2008! Join us next year for more tricks and tales, as well know now what a difference a year can make!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Visit to Botanica

It's hard for kids to understand the concept of time. And even harder for them to fill the hours of "waiting" until the pool opens up! Why the YMCA doesn't open their outdoor pool any earlier than 1:00pm is beyond me, but I'll tell you that it's difficult to pacify pool-anxious kiddies when 9:30am rolls around and they're convinced we should be swimming! (And why is it that kids can pop out of bed at 7:00 am ready to face the world with boundless energy, and it takes me half an hour to drag myself out of bed and wipe the drool off my face? So unfair!!) So, with more than enough time to fill, this morning we decided on a picnic adventure to Botanica!!
Ethan was grossly disappointed to realize that Botanica is nothing more than another "FLOWER PARK" which inspires any and all adults to incessantly snap pictures of the beloved children. I had to bribe him, actually, to even go to Botanica . . . bribe him with the butterfly garden that Botanica is highly acclaimed for!
Of course, Ethan had no problem with getting his picture taken with this tame monarch butterly.
Christlyn got her turn to hold the butterly, too, as the two kids watched several other butterlies hatch from their cocoons (or crystals as the butterfly volunteer called them). We saw all types of moths and butterflys . . . too many to recount! But, we were given a Butterflies of Kansas book that I'm sure Christlyn will cherish as much as Ethan loves his Snakes of Arkansas book!!
Little did we know when we arrived at Botanica that there was some sort of preschool play day at the park. Though we shared the park with about 50 preschool age kids and their parents/day care workers, we were allowed to do several activities, including the one above. The kids each got to make a necklace out of fruitloop cereal to hang in the backyard for the birds to eat. Christlyn was very artistic and made a pattern out of the fruity cereal. Ethan just wanted to eat the cereal!!
Doesn't she look contemplative? I love this picture!! It embodies the essence of serenity and peace! Most five (almost six) year olds ask lots of (loaded) questions! Today she laid them on thick!!! On the carride home, she asked me "Are God and Jesus the same person? How can two people be one person?" So, we had the Father-Spirit-Son Trinity discussion--which let me assure you left her more confused than ever, but she nodded politely when I asked her if she understood!!! Then, out of the blue she asked me what " I swear" means, "does it mean saying bad words?" How do you explain to a five year old how one word can have two different meanings! Once again I got the "sure, okay, uh huh" look and polite nod!! I'm just glad that after spending the morning out in the park with the butterflies and bubble bees, that I didn't get asked the "birds and the bees" question! I mean, as Aunt Kathryn, I can only do so much!!!