Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not much happening

That's right, there's not much going on around here (as you can tell by my lack of posting). We took the kids to a movie, did some shopping, had some friends over, ate some good food...all just normal life with nothing too spectacular.

One thing that is irritating and at least worth a mention? The weather. We're supposed to get snow. Again. I'm over this winter. I love where we live and normally I don't mind the weather, but this time of year I'm ready for winter to be done. And this year, that week we had of 50s and 60s just a few weeks ago seems like horrible punishment since it hasn't been above 45 for almost 3 weeks now. *sigh* Soon enough...

Monday, March 23, 2009

DIY Weekend

My husband is a carpenter by profession, so some people think that means that I have all sorts of wonderful, hand-crafted projects throughout my house. Not quite. See, since he does it for a living (though he's now a commercial carpenter) the last thing he wants to do is come home and work with a hammer and screw gun. Just doesn't happen very often.

When we moved into our house 4 years ago, one of the first things we noticed was the shabby front porch. It was serviceable and structurally sound, but just looked horrible. The wood was covered with indoor/outdoor carpet that was fraying and worn. Yuck. But like other things, it was pushed to the back burner by other projects that were either more important (like needing new appliances) or more for the everyday enjoyment (like the flooring we put in the kitchen). The porch never left our list, just was pushed further down.

Enter Marley. She single-handedly (or paw-ed-ly) moved the porch up to top priority this spring. Why? Oh, because she's a puppy. A puppy with short hair. A puppy with short hair living in northern WI during the winter. See where I'm going with this? During the cold winter months, she didn't always make it completely off the porch before she'd do her thing. Annoying, but a blessing in disguise. Last week when things started thawing out, we realized that the carpet had to go...NOW. The smell was not so pleasant. So we tore up the carpet and deck boards and replaced them with cedar. Ahhh, how clean and refreshing and the smell is wonderful. We're not done yet, we still need to stain the boards and replace the railings, plus get a nice bench for under the star and maybe put a light on each side of the door. And in a few years we're going to be re-siding the house a beautiful dark red...But until then, it's great!

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that my kitchen is an on-going project. We've stripped wall-paper, painted, installed new flooring, replaced all the appliances...and it's still not done. There is still lots of wall-paper to strip and that's a HUGE chore. It's vinyl wall-paper that comes off in 3 layers-the vinyl stuff, then the paper part of it, then the crusty paste left on the walls. I can work for an hour and only get about a foot of wall between the counters and cabinets done. It's awful. We also want to replace the light fixtures and counter tops soon, too.

So anyway, I was looking for some instant gratification in the kitchen this last weekend. I follow two home blogs, The Nesting Place and The Lettered Cottage. Well, Layla at The Lettered Cottage was showing pics of her kitchen the other day and gave me some inspiration. Soooo...I took the double doors off the cupboards above my peninsula. I'll show some before and after pics of this and the porch, because we all know we love B&A pics of anything that's been redone. So far, I think I like it. A lot. It makes the kitchen itself seem bigger, plus it lets so much light into the kitchen from the patio doors in the table-area. And I have some great everyday dishes that I can display now. Not only are they beautiful dishes, but they are all accent colors in my kitchen decor! Add to that the ease that now comes with setting the table or putting away the dishes and it's near bliss. Someday, this kitchen will be done. Someday...

Here is an old pic that shows the beautiful carpet on the front porch (and some furry friends)

Here, you can see how it's fraying at the edges (we're working on all that plant over-growth, too)

And here's with the carpet pulled up (I know I have my garland and wreath still up, as well as my LOVE hanger for Valentine's...don't judge, they're all down now)

My dad, Alayna and Andy screwing down the new boards


And here's an old pic of the kitchen, with lots of before elements...the wall-paper above the cupboards, the dishwasher, the stove, the window treatments, the doors on the cupboards

And some pics taken yesterday

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Puppy Poopy Predicament

Say that 5 times fast, huh?!

Poor Marley is having some issues this week that Andy and I are finding quite comical. See, if you remember back to when we got her, Marley was a late fall baby. So we brought her home the weekend before Thanksgiving and as most of you know, that time of year in WI usually means some snow. Then all winter we have snow. We have snow until well into March, most years. Well, this year is a little different. We've been above 40 for 6 days now, and even into the 60s on a few days. What does that mean? The snow is almost gone...

Marley doesn't know where to go potty!! We let her out and she frantically searches for the tiniest bit of snow she can find, so she can do her business. She hasn't yet realized that she can go potty on the ground. The snow doesn't have to be there, but she's known nothing different.

Now, this will be a great training experience if I can do it. Since she's a bit confused, now is the perfect opportunity for us to train her to go into the horse pasture like Sunny, or at least up against the fence. But the thing is, time is a precious commodity. When I have 4-6 kids in the house, it's hard to stand outside with Marley while she does her thing. As a small puppy, it was quick and easy because she had no bladder control. Now, she can hold it for hours and gets embarrassed if someone sees her going. Ahhh, the joys. Maybe I'll just find an old white sheet and stake it to the ground where we want her going? Hmm....

In other puppy news, Marley can now sit on the couch without getting on the couch. Yup, she just backs her butt up and pops a squat. At night she gets free rein of the house, though she never leaves our bedroom that we know of. She's finally starting to get the hang of Sit and Stay, though it's still touch-and-go. And she's noticeably left Sunny's height and moved up another inch or so. We also had to move out her collar...again.

Marley & Alayna "sitting" on the couch

Marley this morning, relaxin'

Pic taken in the first 2 wks

Comparison shot from last week

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patty's Day!

Hope you all have a great day and don't end up with some funky colored tongue by tomorrow morning...*ahem*

Details Emerging

I love when I'm gone overnight to a scrapping retreat or a mini-vacation like this past weekend. I'm not talking about the relaxation and rejuvenation that I feel, though I do. I'm talking about hearing the details of the girls' weekend with Dad. I love hearing what they do that they thought was just great or fun or funny.

**Alayna: Mom, Daddy took us to church but he got a little confused with our hair.

Me: What did you do, just leave your hair down?

A: No, we brought the brush and a few pony-holders to church and Gramma helped us before it started.

**Mikayla came into our room yesterday morning around 6:30 like she does most mornings. Since I had arrived home near midnight, she didn't know I was there. She climbs into bed, gives me a hug and says "Hi Daddy!" When she realized it was me, she got super excited. Anyway, I was telling Andy about it and he starts laughing..."Each morning this weekend she came in and told me "Hi Mommy!" Now she's used to it being me and gets it wrong again." Of course, he's gone most mornings by the time she gets up, but poor girl just couldn't get it right!

**Lilly was excited to tell me that they stayed up until 11:00 on Saturday night, watching tv in MY bed in MY spot with Daddy.

**Mikayla then had to tell me that they watched the "funny ephant" movie (Horton Hears a Who--Horton is an elephant)

**Alayna was showing me her painted finger-nails and then told me that Daddy had painted her right hand (you all know how hard it is to paint with your "dumb hand" as Andy calls it) "He kinda out-lined it and then just filled in the middle, but it worked!" she said.

**Lilly: Mommy, if you're looking for the cookies we ate them ALL when you were in the airplane.

Me: I'm not looking for the cookies, I'm looking for the craisins.

L: Oh, they are here somewhere.

**Alayna made sure to tell me how nice it had been and how I'd missed the first 50 degree day of the year. When I told her it was in the 60s in Colorado she goes, "Yeah, but 50 here is better!" Oh, how we get acclimated to where we live!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Colorado Springs

This past weekend, I went to visit my friend, who currently lives in Colorado Springs--her husband is Army and they live on Fort Carson. They are moving to Germany in a few months, so we thought we'd better get the visit in now before they moved and a quick weekend would be a lot harder...and more expensive.

Oh. My. Goodness. Did we have fun! First off, this was the farthest west I'd ever been. So I had never seen the mountains before. Second, I hadn't flown since I was in first grade, so this was my first real flight that I remember. Third, I'd never been on an army post, so that was incredibly interesting to learn more about the lifestyle that I've heard so much about! Fourth, we went to an awesome Irish Pub (my first) and I had some amazing Beef Boxty (my first)...see a lot of things in common with this post? I experienced a lot of firsts and I loved them all!

The mountains...Wow. That's about all I can say. They are just gorgeous and I was completely enthralled. Seriously, I think my friend was secretly laughing at me because I was like "This is beautiful!" *snap* picture time, about a million times this weekend. Oh well. I just didn't get enough of looking at the mountains and I want to go back some day for sure. Andy and the girls would love it!

The flights were okay. To and from Denver were great but between Denver and Colorado Springs certainly left something to be desired. The flight itself is only 15 minutes, but it's turbulent and rough. Oh well, I survived.

Fort Carson was amazing and I learned so much. We just drove around post for awhile, while I was shown the various neighborhoods, stores, schools, hospital, barracks, etc. It was all so interesting and I was worried I was asking too many questions, but she didn't mind at all.

Jack Quinn's was awesome. I really don't need to articulate on that, but I will. It's a great Irish Pub in downtown that is a favorite of my friend's family. As soon as you walk in, you just feel the charm. The atmosphere was awesome and the food was amazing! I'd never had authentic Irish food before and I opted for the Beef Boxty, which I was assured was incredible. Oh goodness, was it ever. YUM! If you don't know what it is (which I didn't) it's beef stew meat soaked in Guiness, then cooked in a stew-like gravy, wrapped in a potato pancake and covered with a cream sauce and bleu cheese crumbles, with sauteed veggies on the side. It was so good. (I also had my first experience with Red Robbin and that was really good, too!)

But besides all the firsts, the best past of the weekend was just being there with my friend and her boys! They are all such wonderful people and we had so much fun. Sure, we did fun things like go out just us girls on Friday night and we hit the Olympic Training Center with the boys on Saturday, but we spent plenty of time just hanging out and talking while the boys played at the park or watched a movie in the living room. We just talked for hours and hours, about everything under the sun. It was a nice, relaxed weekend and something I wish we could do again and again and again!

Thanks for a super weekend guys!

At Jack Quinn's Friday night
Equestrian model at the Olympic Training Center

View of Pike's Peak from the OTC

Us girls atop the OTC where the Olympic Flame is

The boys and some other kids and dads at the park

Mountain view with the Fort Carson herd from the stables

Mountain view heading back onto post from the stables

Their housing unit and the view

View from a small park only 2 houses down from their house

The front door had this beauty on it when I arrived home late last night

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sure, we live in Wisconsin

I am always proud to say that I live in Wisconsin and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. The weather is great, minus a few days of bitter cold in the winter and a few days of horrible humidity in the summer. The people are awesome. The scenery is beautiful. The dairy is abundant.

That last comment is a very important one to our household! We go through dairy like it's going out of style. I would say that at least a full third of our grocery bill goes to dairy alone--milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, etc. We go through 5-6 gallons of milk a week, and that doesn't include my daycare kids (who bring their own). We eat cheese as snacks or on almost any meal that it could sorta be considered okay to add cheese. We like our dairy products. A lot.

Well, this past week Andy has been working some overtime and not getting home until after 7 pm. The other night, we ran out of milk and I didn't get to the store between daycare and a 4H meeting. Andy said he'd stop, but in his hurry to just get home, he forgot. *gasp* The horror! We went almost 24 hrs without milk in this house and it was like Armageddon was upon us. First, Mikayla wanted cereal for breakfast the next day. I told her she could have it dry or she needed to have oatmeal or toast. After a minor fit, she settled on oatmeal. Lilly, thankfully, was old enough to understand and Alayna said she'd just wait until breakfast at school. Then came lunch time and I gave the girls water in their cups. Mikayla pushed her cup across the table, spilling it of course, and exclaimed that she wanted milk! "No law-ter, Kayla MILK!" She refused to drink the water and didn't drink anything if she couldn't have milk. Then dinner time came and Daddy remembered the milk! Between the 5 of us, we drank over half a gallon just at dinner. It was like we were in withdrawal.

The moral of the story? There isn't one, really. Just remember to never, ever forget the milk!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This Little Girl

...sure loves her puppies. And thankfully, they love her right back!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Total Random-ness

We've had some pretty important and unimportant, but still cool, things happening in our house this last week. So, instead of doing a bunch of posts, here's a run-down of what's been happening...

Lilly learned how to whistle! This video was taken last week and she takes awhile to warm up, but she gets there. Even since then, her warm-up time has decreased considerably and her volume has increased quite a bit, too.

Alayna has learned how to cross her eyes without bringing something closer and closer while focusing on it. This may not seem like a real note-worthy accomplishment, but considering that I'm the queen of eye crossing and making silly faces, it's a pretty big deal in our house. I always joked as a teen that if I was ever in a pageant, my talent would be making stupid faces or belching, so the kids have a lot to live up to!

Mikayla has gone an entire month with only 2 accidents! She is in underwear full time now, only getting a diaper at bedtime (she's staying dry through naps, too). It is just so great to have her telling us when she has to go potty, and not having to change her diapers along with all the daycare diapers!

Marley has had a big week, too! She was just 5 months old on Sunday and that day, we realized that she's now taller than Sunny! Now, we know that Marley will soon leave Sunny in the dust. That's a given. But at only 5 months, she's now taller than our bigger than average Lab. Just a noteworthy thing. Also, we've kept Marley out of her kennel for the last 2 nights now and she's done great! We gate her to the upstairs, so she can only go in the bedrooms, hallway or bathroom, and she's been content to sleep on a blanket on the floor at the end of our bed. Nothing has been chewed, and she hasn't had any accidents (which she hasn't in her kennel in ages, either, but you never know when you give them free range). She's also found a new favorite spot in the morning: she lays in front of the patio doors in the sun and right on top of a heat register.

The horses are finally all getting along, too! Alayna was so excited last night when she got home from school and all 3 horses were within a 15' diameter circle of one another. She had to run from the window to tell me that I was right, and they were all finally getting along. Of course at dinner time, there is still some tension as they all filter into the barn and divvy up the grain, but that will probably always be there. Horses don't like to share food.

Today is Square Root Day! I always liked math and when I heard this on the news, it seemed like a totally cool and geeky little trivia fact. Know why it's Square Root Day? Today's date is 3/3/09...3x3=9. This only happens 8 times a century. And did you know tomorrow is the only day of the year that is also a command? March 4th (March forth!) Thanks to Mr. Peterson back in high school for that little tidbit. I think of him every year on the 4th of March (and incidentally enough, he was my algebra/geometry/calculus teacher).

And last, but certainly not least, especially if you consider that without this last little tidbit, the rest of the stuff I wrote wouldn't be here (except for the previous one, of course)...today is the 12th anniversary of mine and Andy's first date! He had asked me out a few times, but I had just broken up with someone in January and I wanted to be alone for awhile before getting in a relationship. Well, after he asked about 5 times in 3 weeks, I finally gave in. One of the best decisions of my life.