Tuesday, September 9, 2014

At A Glance

My mom informs me that all seven of my readers are craving more information from our little lives in this part of the state. I want to keep the masses happy...so here's a quick recap of our last month:

1. Brrr....

Maddie was challenged to participate in the ever-popular "Ice Bucket Challenge" in August. She and her friend's family came over one afternoon. Ever so quietly they all entered the house (through a complete shambles - tiling was in full swing) and just as quietly they all left - soaking wet. For a good cause though.

2. First "Last Tile"

That tiling job I mentioned in #1? That was a BIG project. We tiled roughly 850 square feet. We bought a tile saw for this project and returned it the next day because it was cutting crooked. We ended up getting an upgrade on a saw and were SO happy we did. It finished out that job, and then headed to my sisters to help with hers; money well spent! My dad spent DAYS with us helping lay tile. The kids helped. My sister, Tracy, helped. It was a team effort, I assure you!

The above picture is just as the title says "The First - Last Tile". If memory serves correctly we had FOUR "Last Tiles". We would get it cut, then drop it in place only to find the piece cut too short, or slightly crooked. This was a spot that we really wanted to be accurate and we finally got it at 9:30pm. 

3. Beauty Amidst Chaos...

While the inside of our house looks like it's been ransacked multiple times, the backyard was lovely to sit in and soak up the color. This time of year a couple of our perennials bloom and I love them. The Hibiscus is my absolute favorite. Our flowers out front didn't fair so well, as well as the potted annuals in the hanging baskets. I'm sure it would have been beneficial if I'd watered them. That oversight makes me love perennials even more - they are reliable even when I'm not!!

4. The Great Minnesota Get-Together

We spent our annual day at the State Fair in late August. We managed to meet up with my sister-in-law, her girls, her mom and her brother who were there the same time we were. We also ran into my uncle right after I told the kids how I always saw someone at the fair that I knew.

Maddie and I were headed to the bathrooms while Mike and Jake were going to refill water bottles. The boys noticed that you could get your picture taken with some of the anchors - one of whom is the weather guy named, Sven. I had wanted a picture with him last year, but we missed the times. Maddie and I put the restroom on hold and we all got in line (which was really only two families in front of us). It'll probably be our Christmas card....name droppers, that we are.

5. Back to School...

Labor Day came and went and the next day we were back on schedule. Maddie started 10th grade this year and it's her first at the high school. It's also her first year as a "walker". She and another friend bike to school most days though I'm sure that will change once the weather becomes much colder. We live RIGHT on the edge of the walking/busing boundary line at 1.8 miles away. Her friend two streets over catches a bus. Sort of frustrating - but she's getting a lot of great exercise when the weather cooperates!

Jake started 7th grade and he's at his first year of Junior High. He still is riding the bus and was thrilled to find out that he got to sleep in 10 minutes later than last year since his bus comes later. He was probably most excited about being able to wear his new tennis shoes - which is what he's most excited about each year, honestly. 

Both kids seem to be transitioning well in their new schools and we are off to a great start of a new year.

And that, dear readers, catches you up on what's been happening...until next time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

June Project Life

Ahhh...summer. I'm slowly reliving it through these pictures. It's going way too fast for this household!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I thought I'd check in with a little update of our work.

First though - it's hard to explain how our kitchen is going to look - or at least how we think it's going to look. I remembered that Mike had drawn up a detailed plan (shocking, I know) using an online tool through the National Kitchen and Bath website. He was actually really impressed with the design program and it helped us visualize everything (and by "us" I mean "me") a little easier. I won't bore you with all the design details, but here's a general idea of how this design is going to look:

We've tweaked a few things including drawers vs. door and a couple of these cabinets (like the fridge one) will be bigger, but he couldn't change that on the program. Still, it's a nice overview of the general direction things are going to be going.

I believe my last pictures were of the area after demolition. By the end of the first week demolition, wiring, and plumbing had been finished to the point they needed to be to sheetrock.

Sheetrocking is where Jake and I jumped back in the action.

It's a very messy job. Especially when Mike is having to work with amateurs.

(Honestly - this picture doesn't even do justice to the absolute mess Jake's hair was. I'm sure the plumbing lines in the shower will have to be unclogged with all the dust that we've washed down them!)

We had to take last week off because we were waiting for the man who is doing the taping/mudding to be available. I think this about killed Mike to have to wait. In the meantime we had our appliances delivered and Mike and I went to pick up the tile.

This is only one load. There was a full trailer and 10 boxes in my car. Each box was 75 lbs. Mike and I were able to get it unloaded fairly quickly though I could barely feel or move my fingers when it was all said and done. Jake tried to help, but I nixed that idea. During this construction process we've been trying to teach him how to lift heavy objects properly so he doesn't hurt himself. I didn't want him to jump in with something over half his body weight. That and the fact that if they were dropped and broken, I'd rather be mad and yelling at myself than him.

Yesterday taping/mudding began and will take the rest of the week. As of last night, this is how things looked:

New Kitchen Area...

Combo Dining/Sitting Area...

We are also at the furniture/lighting fixture looking stage. Mike and I spent all day Saturday shopping at furniture stores. I found a chair I loved on Friday and by Monday we found out we couldn't order the fourth chair we wanted due to manufacturing changes. So, we will start again. Our problem is...we have NO IDEA what our "style" is which makes it hard to narrow things down. We are learning though, I guess.

We have a temporary kitchen in Mike's bar area. While small, I certainly think our situation is better off than a few people we've talked to who have done kitchen renovations. They were washing dishes in the bathtub and eating in their master bedrooms. While we have storage boxes galore in our bedroom, the actual eating takes place at the bar and we have a dishwasher and fridge to hold everything. Mike and Jake have grilled a lot and we've used the crockpot a fair amount. It's all working out though I did break down last night and told Mike I just plain didn't want to eat in this house. Mexican it was.

Hopefully next week we start the tile process and get a little further in our furniture/lighting situation!

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Last week was Maddie's 15th birthday! We were up bright and early and headed to Chaska for a little test taking...

It wasn't a long wait and soon enough she was waiting in line her peculiar grin that says, "I'm not trying to smile...but I'm really wanting to have a huge grin." It's perhaps a look only a mother would know.

For her birthday she wanted to drive. So, we headed straight to the nearest parking lot and spent the next four hours driving forward, backward and all around.

My parents stopped by to see her in action and wish her a happy birthday. My mom lent me some safety gear...

Later she went back with Mike to take a turn in his truck. She prefers my car more though.

She's now been driving a full week and is getting much more comfortable. I think there's only been one day she hasn't gotten behind the wheel. This morning we drove to Target. Since we hadn't really practiced parking a lot yet I told her to just park little further out to stay away from cars.

I needed water after the hike back to our car.

So she is off and running driving.

In related news, Mike has grown a few more gray hairs.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


About a month or so ago Mike and I decided (really decided this time...) that we were absolutely going to move the kitchen to a new location. Neither of us wanted to call in the appliance order for a revamped kitchen when we knew that wouldn't fix any of our problems. In fact - the fridge we expected to get was going to give us less space by a couple inches - which we barely had where it was going to be located.

We've been spending the last month getting things ready and ordered. We changed a lot of the appliances we were getting and got those ordered. After SEVERAL trips to many different tile companies we finally picked a tile we think we will like. (And thank you to the many people that we pulled inside for a second and third...and fourth opinion!) We spent the last couple weeks looking at granite. We think we have one picked out. I'm not totally in love with it - but there doesn't seem to be a lot of options for exactly what we are looking for. We are still waiting to place that order in case we run into something else. We are hoping our cabinets can get ordered this week; we are just waiting on some color samples.

In the meantime though - we can and did finally get to work on other things. Mainly demo.

Last Thursday we spent quality time together as a family packing up our kitchen and relocating it to the bar in the basement. I had gone through and pulled out some of the things that I thought were absolutely necessary. The rest was boxed up and will be stored in our room until we are finished.

July 4th we were up early and started in on the demo! First we removed appliances. My dad came over to help. He unhooked the dishwasher and as I walked over to help him carry it out - he popped it open and walked out himself with it. We all just stared and started laughing. It's kind of a running joke in our family how much weight my dad can lift. I ran to offer to help open the door and Jake yelled after me, "Don't bother mom - Grandpa will just open it with his mind!" (Dad didn't...but he did open it with one hand while holding the dishwasher with the other...)

In removing the microwave we found out why we never had a vent that seemed to work. The microwave flap that was supposed to be open for venting was still taped shut. Someone had forgotten a minor detail upon installation.

Here is what we basically started with on the that day - the appliances were moved out shortly after this.

My mom had offered the night before to come over and break down walls with a sledgehammer. She said she likes demo-ing things. We didn't think it would be a wise move for her to wield a sledgehammer though when she has some ribs that are currently mending from over-strain. We did put Maddie and Jake to work though!

They were both looking forward to two things: busting up the counter and tearing down the walls.

They really didn't bust up the counter - they just knocked it loose. But they did love tearing into the walls!

So did Mike and I - GREAT stress reliever!!

This is about the point where Mike decided safety glasses would be useful. Then he put them on and he was sweating so much that they fogged right up and he couldn't see a thing.

We did have our first unexpected situation. We thought we'd be able to save more drywall than we actually did. The cabinets had done a number on the wall and we didn't think they'd be salvageable.

It wasn't all work though. Dad offered a ride for Jake:

He also offered one to Maddie. She hadn't been downstairs to see Jake's ride so was a little skeptical to stand on the Dolly when dad told her to. Please see her face...she was quite surprised when he took of running with her on it!

It was a messy, messy day - we all looked a little worse for the wear...

By the end of that first day we had accomplished a lot -

On Saturday the last bit of demo was done. We removed the island wall and tore out the portion of vinyl flooring in this area. Mike, Dad and I were crazy people getting that all up and out! It was to the dump by noon!

Day two did come to a screeching halt for a couple hours. Mike and Dad had to figure out the riddle that is our electrical wiring. They couldn't figure out what our builders had done to certain rooms and how they were (or weren't) wired together.

I was in charge of cutting a couple wires out of boxes and removing the old boxes we no longer needed. I must have checked about four times with my dad to make sure all the wires were dead and that I was definitely cutting the right ones. Mike and he assured me everything was good to go. I cut the first wire then as I cut the second wire I felt this vibration and jumped up a little expecting a sudden volt to go through me. Turns out it was at that exact moment of cutting the wire that someone texted me and my phone vibrated in my back pocket.

I don't have any updated pictures from the last couple days- but not much else looks different. There's more wiring and piping since these were taken. They've built a second wall to make wiring and piping that much easier. We've sold half the appliances, all the cupboards and our table and chairs - which I wasn't really expecting to sell, honestly - not until we found something we liked. Mike had different ideas. I'm set next week to go furniture shopping with my mom and Tracy.

So we are off and running. We expect this to take a couple months. Maddie and Jake were in charge of making a dinner list this week and one of the items to try is grilled pizza from Papa Murphy's. They heard good things from someone at church. I'm sure we'll be trying any number of grilled combos in the next couple months!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Project Life - May

What? It's July 1st and I'm just getting May posted? Yep. I was SOOOO close to being caught up! But then summer happened and kids were home all day and suddenly I'm still wondering where June went!