Thursday, July 23, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Summer Fun!

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Mary Clare took this of Katie Grace last week

We've been happy enjoying lots of swimming the past few weeks, minus several days the past week where we had a tummy bug. So glad everyone is healthy again!

These kids scare me with their climbing to the top of the rock climbing wall and then diving, flipping, or jumping from the very top.

Our neighborhood park finally opened after being closed almost a year. We've really missed it! Yesterday was the ribbon cutting, so we walked down in the heat of the afternoon to check out the new playground, pavilion, and splash pad.

Yesterday we went to the park ribbon cutting, the pool in the evening, and then back to the park until 9pm! A full day of enjoying summer. We love our neighborhood park and pool!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Before and After, Backyard: Fence, Playset, Siding and Doors

We have finally started the first projects of our home renovation! We'd initially hoped to do this before, or soon after, moving back into this house last October...but things never quite go exactly as planned!

Our home was built in 1972 and we bought it from our friends in 2007. They had done a lot of work to get it functional, and they did a ton of projects like tiling, paint and other things themselves during the years they were here. Since we've owned it we've mostly only been able to fix what's broken, and the renters who leased it for three years while we had a job relocation did a great job at upkeep. 

But now we're at the point where we've pretty much decided we will stay here for the near future. We wanted to start with getting the exterior of the home weatherproofed and safe. Next we will finally be able to put our own personal touch on the interior of the house, namely the bathrooms and kitchen.

Right around Christmas we were finally able to put in a new fence, and in January we got the new big playset. Here are some "Before" shots...

When we moved back into this house (Oct 2014). Those bushes on the right were as tall as our garage!

After we had the bushes trimmed and were about to replace the fence last winter (Dec 2014)

Our new fence! (July 2015)

New playset and fence

Next we had some major drainage work done in the yard, along with a lot of pressure washing of the house, porch, patio, and driveway. We had new french drains added, some trenches with bull rock put in, and we tore out a lot of landscaping in the front. These things will all keep the water draining away from our house and down to the street! We will be adding some new plants in the coming weeks, along with new front shutters and maybe a new front door too. I'll share photos of that when it's complete.

This summer we've been preparing for a refinance and the other things needed to start this renovation. About two weeks before closing, we found out the bank needed us to replace the rotten wood siding, so it was a very quick project.  I was so glad to have gotten an Angie's List membership (only about $7/yr), and I contacted about 7 different siding companies. Three of them came out on such quick notice, and one was a kind of creepy guy who kept asking questions about the kids and such. The other was priced really high and wasn't available for the work on short notice, and the last was this contractor who was wonderful and had a very reasonable price and quick turnaround. He got this done in less than a week and was a pleasure to work with. He will be doing our roof next week, our windows in a few weeks, and then will probably be our main contractor for the interior renovations.  He and his guys did an excellent job!

Here are some photos of last week's project:

Apparently this wasn't even an exterior door. It was always getting stuck, was falling off the hinges, and it was allowing water to leak through on one side into the sheet rock.




This door was probably the worst part of the exterior of the house! It had a broken doggie door, was rotten on the bottom, and the knob was so close to the frame that everyone's hands would get stuck in the door!

This makes me so happy!


This window area is one part that isn't finished yet. We're going to order a big no-pane picture window, and so they'll replace the framing around it when they replace the window. We'll go with all-white trim and all white on the fascia under the roof as well. I'm hoping to figure out a better patio furniture plan. Maybe I'll move the picnic table into the grass and find a wrought iron table set with chairs to go around Steven's fire pit. We will see! One thing I'm so thankful for is our local online classified website where you can find almost any kind of furniture in great condition at an amazing price!

Here's a little snapshot of what they had to face when they pulled off that old wood siding! Scary! They ended up replacing all the insulation.

There was a lot of wood rot on the bottom of this wall.

They even added an electric outlet, so now we can use Steven's new grill over there!





These projects felt like the big first steps in fixing up this house! It's so pleasant to walk into the backyard now or to open the back doors! Next week we'll be putting in the new roof, and then the windows. Hopefully soon after that we will start the interior renovations, which will be the best part! I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Since July 21, 2001

Still laughing...

Still following Our Lord and His Church...

 And I'm still holding onto this strong arm to lead our family; he hasn't let us down!

Just posted on Facebook:
It's our anniversary, but instead of a little getaway or even a fancy date, we've got a husband and one kid down with a nasty virus...that sick husband working late...the other kids are turning our house into a "city" with a store, restaurant, and "planes" (paper airplanes) flying overhead! In sickness and health, welcoming children lovingly from the Lord, this is what we signed up for! Happy 14 years to my main man!

14 Years of family, faith, and fun! Living the dream!
Happy Anniversary, Steven!

Friday, July 17, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday

July seems to be a month of big decisions this year; my brain is so very tired and ready for a break! Here are some of the big things going on. This post is brought to you by the letter H!

I realized I have two tests to grade, and the packet to put together and send in their work and report cards for last year! I plan to do that by the weekend. I finally registered the girls for their online courses and grading support this year. I need to do a blog post with a summary of this last school year and a plan for next year. I've chosen to register for quite a bit of support for the 7th grader. I pray that it was the right decision for her; it was an agonizing decision for me to figure out all of her courses! 

This week we began in a major way the renovations we will do on our current house. We got new siding and back doors installed. We have spent the past year trying to decide whether to live in this house or lease it and move. I look at homes online almost every day and we've looked at many in person too. As much as we would love to have more space both inside and outside, I think for the time being we are choosing to find contentment right here where we are. Our house and yard might be smaller than I'd like, but we are in the best location and we have the opportunity to fix this home just how we'd like it. Our neighborhood has made tremendous improvements over the past few years, we have some neighbors we love, our park and pool are blocks away and have both been redone, and Steven's commute isn't as bad as it would be if we moved farther out. So in the coming weeks and months this may very well become a bit of a home renovation blog! I can't wait! Though I do reserve the right to change my mind if a dream house comes on the market!

It's been awhile since I've made my own health a priority. After my shingles outbreak, I had a little wake-up call that my body isn't what it was in my 20s! I can't lose the pregnancy weight like I used to, and I've got to start being proactive about my eating and exercise habits. One of the moms in my homeschool group started a weight loss challenge a week ago. Whoever hits 10 pounds first gets some cash! So I've gone back on the My Fitness Pal app to track my calories, and I'm trying to stay more active. I've been doing some water aerobics at the pool, and I'd also like to find another consistent form of exercise for myself. It looks like a few pounds have been shed in the first week, although I'm not sure how accurate my scale is!

We're dealing with some pretty serious health issues among my family and friends. I briefly mentioned that my dad was hospitalized a couple weeks ago. He had a scary seizure episode in the middle of the night, but is doing well now. I also have my dear friend Beverly going through a new "chemo cocktail" to try to eliminate the gastric cancer she was diagnosed with this spring. Sometimes life can be depressing and anxiety-inducing. There are so many factors in our day-to-day lives that affect our health and can cause us anxiety and concern. But watching my friend be so positive and hopeful in her cancer battle helps me to see the bigger picture, that virtue of HOPE that we're striving for. We hope for a good future for ourselves and our children, but even moreso we hope for Heaven. When it comes down to it, our lives here are all short, and hopefully our souls are purified through the suffering as we realize that our home is truly in Heaven.

Helping Hands
Helping Hands is the name of the calendar website that our community is using to coordinate meals and help for my friend. What generous hearts people have when they are willing to take a few hours out of their week to make a meal, run errands, or grocery shop for a friend in need. It's also a reflection of the generous heart of the receiver, because her family has been on the other end for all of us, always giving of themselves. Still in the midst of this trial they have offered help to our family at various times, as have other generous friends recently. It is so nice to read an "Absolutely Yes" to a question of help with childcare or something else. I hope as we heal from these little trials of this summer we can find more ways to give of ourselves. The above photo was taken when a generous friend came from across town, in rush hour, with five kids and husband, on their anniversary, the night before a road trip, to do a last minute family photo session for my friend before she loses her hair. A true gift of herself. Mary Clare enjoyed being back-up photographer.

Healing Waters
One thing that always helps us to have a joyful and relaxing summer is spending time in the water. This is how my childhood summers were spent too. While living in Corpus Christi, we got to take lots of trips to the beach throughout the year. Here back home, we have the blessing of a nice pool just two blocks away. We have spent many days there this month, getting our Vitamin D, cooling off, and visiting with neighbors. I also love that rejuvenating evening water aerobics class when I can make it. This week we made a trip to my parents' neighborhood pool too. I was hoping to take some trips this summer but it turns out that with illness and Steven's work schedule we will have to wait until September to travel. I'm so pining for a few days away, but am trying to find my happy heart right here at home. 

Happy Heart
Speaking of having a happy heart, our little love does so well at helping us to be happy in the midst of a kind of stressful time. I found her a shirt that says this and it is so true! She accompanied me to the hospital to be with my dad and to his doctor visit too. Her snuggles brightened my mom's days. This weekend she had a little bug and fever with major teething which took away that always-smiley baby for a couple days, but we are glad to have her back! I am so grateful to God for the gift of little Katie. I can't imagine life without a baby to love on. I'm afraid we may end up having to add more room so we will have space for all those children I want to adopt after we can't have anymore! That's another thing we told the children about staying in this house: it could allow us to reach the financial spot where adoption could be a reality. We will see if that's God's will for us, but for now I'm enjoying the happy heart that most of the children have had during a generally carefree summer!

A few unrelated snapshots for good measure...

Mom's Night Out on the weekend many of us were a little sad to not attend the Edel Gathering

A LaMadeleine lunch with the kids after a library outing 

Cow Appreciation Day at Chickfila!

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