Friday, January 30, 2009

In Two Hours...

I'm headed to meet Brad at the Pentagon to exchange the girls and then continue on to Maryland for a women's retreat with my friends from my former church in New Jersey. I'm SO excited for a variety of reasons. Last week the girls had a few days off with MLK and the inauguration and then this week we had a teacher in service day and two snow days. Although the unexpected time at home with the girls has been a lot of fun it has also been...well, just a lot!

I haven't accomplished much in the past week and all that "together" time inside with some wound up kids has me feeling a little frazzled. So with that said, the time away this weekend is going to be twice as sweet. This is also probably one of my last get aways by myself before the baby comes so I'm keeping that in mind. And finally, and one of the biggest blessings, will be the chance to spend some time with wonderful friends. I'm looking forward to being with people that I have a history with and that I feel known and understood. The first picture on my sidebar under "fabulous friends" is from last year's retreat...all those girls are my roommates and will be attending again this year.

And last, but of course not least, I'm looking forward to a few days of great worship music and speakers. I think I've heard that the theme essentially is the idea of finding "joy in the journey"...sounds like something that if I try really hard I can probably make some personal applications! I'm very appreciative of a husband that is more then capable with the girls on his own and who not only supports me getting away but is also an encouragement.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

Technically yesterday was a scheduled teacher in-service and we didn't have school anyway. Today we have a "snow day" but technically it's a freezing rain/ice day. This is our first accumulation of the year and the girl's were so excited to go sledding. I wasn't as enthusiastic about the idea considering Brad was at work and I wouldn't have an extra set of hands...but I couldn't deny them a few hours in the snow.Baileigh and Mckenna were easy to bundle up and excited to go outside despite the layers of clothing. Brooke is resistant to coats and hats in general and didn't understand the concept and it was a constant fight to get clothes on and get outside. Once we were outside she changed her tune and had a good time.
Mckenna's screams of joy could probably be heard for miles. I think my ears are still recovering.
We went to Baileigh's school down the street because it has the best hill around. It was nice because Brooke grew disinterested in the sledding sooner then her sisters so she also had the playground to keep her entertained.
Mckenna is always our most coordinated dresser...thanks to my friend Tricia and all her great hand-me-downs.
Baileigh learned the hard way that head first down the hill can mean a lot of snow down her shirt!

Baileigh is such a good big sister...she helped Brooke walk up the hill and get on her sled and stopped whatever she was doing whenever Brooke needed something. I think appreciated it even more then Brooke since it made our sledding time easier for me.
Getting ready to race.
As much fun as we had, it made me thankful that I don't live in MI anymore and that I don't have to bundle them up every single day!
video

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank You

Tomorrow is the start of my "thank you" theme week. This isn't anything official...I just heard this song on my drive home tonight and I started listening to the words and thinking of all the things I have to be thankful for that I take for granted on a daily basis. So as I prepare for a hectic week that leads into a weekend away at a women's retreat (something in and of itself I'm thankful for!) I'm making a conscious effort to be thankful. Being thankful isn't something I struggle with as much as remembering to pause and see everything around me that cries out for my gratitude and appreciation.

I'm probably the only person that struggles with this...but, if perhaps there is one other reader who could use a reminder to have this perspective or some joint accountability throughout the week then keep it in mind and let me know.

Remodel Update

A quick update on the girl's bathroom project. It has been slow but steady. Our progress doesn't really look significant at this point, primarily because we've been busy doing all the behind the scenes stuff. Remember we ripped everything out including the toilet, vanities, even the tub. We stripped the walls of the tile and wallpaper and ripped out a lot of the drywall in sections. We shortened a wall by about 5 inches and moved the electrical from the ceiling to the walls.

After the tear out we had to put up new drywall and lay backer board on the floors as well as around the tile for our custom tile project. Installing the new tub was a pretty big project...especially because it required some small alterations with the pipes which then required saudering. We started the shower tile this evening...we made a pattern in the center of the primary shower wall and we just laid out that tile tonight. Tomorrow night we'll hopefully finish the remainder of the wall. We need to mud and sand the walls one more time before we can paint. The ceiling needs another coat of paint, too. Then the floor tiles and the vanity installation, counters, lights, mirrors etc. I think it will be about two more weeks before we can move back into the room considering Brad will only be able to work on it from about 9-11pm most nights this week and not much this weekend because I'll be out of town and he'll have the girls.
There isn't a lot of visible change in this photo...yet a lot has happened. No more wallpaper and smooth walls now. The medicine cabinet holes have been filled and drywalled. There is new electrical on the wall and backer board on the floor.
Here is the start of our shower tile project. The small tiles will make a square around the center design and then the remainder of the walls will be 6 inch tiles laid out in a subway or brick pattern. It was fun to design and I think it's coming together nicely. I can't wait to see it...then Brad pointed out that the shower curtain will hide it most of the time...so now I'll just have to pull the curtain back so you can see our pretty tile project.
Having the girls share our bathroom hasn't been too big a deal. They still head to their bathroom every morning when they are sleepy and don't seem to realize it's out of commission until they take a few steps in on the bare floor. Sunday morning was the first time it was an issue as the five of us were trying to all get ready at the same time...but it's been a lot less inconvenient then not having a kitchen for two months!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lovin' the Hummus

Brooke loves roasted sweet red pepper hummus. In fact, her exact quote while eating was "I'm a hummus girl!"





My Nightmare

If you know me well at all you'll know I'm not fond of gum chewing. I don't like to chew gum and I don't like to watch people chewing gum. It's like watching someone chew a tough piece of steak, over, and over, and over again. Oprah has this same aversion...this is really the only thing I agree with her on these days. I think she compares it to watching cattle chewing cud. Good analogy.

I can't remember where but I recently heard of Bubble Gum Alley in San Luis Obispo, CA. The tradition of sticking your gum on these alley walls started back in 1960. Fifty years of old chewed gum. I'm feeling nauseous! I seriously don't know if you could pay me to walk through this alley. I know I wouldn't do it with my children present for fear of them rubbing their hands all over the walls. Swim with sharks. Sure. Jump from a plane. I'm game. Walk through bubble gum alley. Think again!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TONIGHT!

It's back! Finally! I'm a huge Lost fan...perhaps because it is one of only a couple shows that Brad and I enjoy together. I admit that the plot is pretty confusing and if you miss an episode you can be completely lost. I found this 4 minute trailer that gives a summary since the beginning. If you're thinking of watching tonight and want to refresh yourself on the events then take a few minutes to watch.

I'm really looking forward to an hour of TV that doesn't involve a political discussion!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Observing History?

This is obviously a historic and fascinating time to be living in the DC suburbs. Imagine the coverage of inaugural events that you're seeing on TV and triple it considering all the local news and coverage we receive around here since it impacts our schools, traffic, work schedules, etc. Roads out of VA and into DC are actually going to be closed. School is cancelled. HOV rules are in effect all day instead of just rush hour. Essentially the news says stay home and watch our TV coverage from the warmth and comfort of your home. I agree!

In this midst of this historical time in society there is also a mass marketing of the presidency, a person, and the inauguration unprecedented in history. I am continual in shock as I walk into the food court area of the local BX/PX at the various bases around here and find myself in the newly formed Obama-Stuffmart. The same is true on almost every street corner of DC...I can buy an Obama t-shirt, plate, hat, hoodie, snowglobe, keychain, candle, ornament, tie, travel mug, socks, soap, hot sauce, bobble head dolls, stickers, playing cards, board game, DVD, chocolates, etc. Nothing like saying I'm proud to be an American by washing my hands on the image of our new president after consuming some candy with his face stamped into the chocolate! So patriotic!

I had the chance to lay in bed and watch some of the news stories for about a half hour since Brad is home today and he got up with the girls to make breakfast. I flipped around to see story after story about celebrities in DC here to support Obama and "give back". About the next generation getting involved in politics. About the air of excitement and enthusiasm sweeping across our nation. About the historical implications of Michelle Obama's inaugural gown and it's impact on fashion in the future. About inaugural snacks to celebrate the event. About how the DC social scene is going to change with this young couple in the White House. About how "cool" it will be to have elementary age children now in DC since your kids may potentially rub elbows with the Obama girls and play dates and birthday parties may be involved. About the cultural "earthquake" and the generational shift we're about to experience with a president who listens to Ludicrous on his IPod, is obsessed with his Blackberry and mimics JayZee and fist bumps the first lady. About the Obama's future dog becoming the most popular breed in the US in 2009. And in the next story about Obama bringing more prestige back to the White House. Huh?

This thirty minutes of "news" had my head hurting by 8:00am. I didn't vote for Obama. However, he has my full support now as I hope he does by other people who did not give him their vote. Support doesn't have to equal endorsement...but he is our president now and I don't understand anyone wanting to see him fail at the expense of our country just to be able to say "I told you so." I will be praying for his wisdom and for those that surround him and advise him during his presidency. I'm anxious to see what he does and fascinated by the renewed enthusiasm for our country and the political scene.

On the flip side, I'm really disturbed, annoyed and concerned. I keep thinking back to The Left Behind series of books that I read a long time ago. This will open a can of worms...but about the character of Nicoli rumored to be the Antichrist and his rise to political power and the celebrity like popularity he had and the cultures obsession with this man. Sound familiar? Also the timing of all our events in the US with what is taking place in Israel and along the Gaza strip and how it parallels a lot of the Bible's end time accounts.

Is Obama ever going to be seen as our president, or a celebrity? The news stories say you can find more celebrities in DC this weekend then you can in LA. Oprah alone seems to have brought at least 30 celebrities along with her to be on her show being broadcast at the Kennedy Center today. Local story after local story is an interview with a celebrity at a run down DC school helping paint a wall or pick up garbage as part of the National Day of Service and in efforts to come together and show their support for our new president. While I think it's great in a sense I guess I'm a little confused as to what was keeping them from coming here before and giving back on any given day? I feel like it's Jr. high in DC...it's "cool" so let's all do it! Was someone stopping them from giving back the other 364 days of the year or during a republican administration?

I don't have an agenda with this post or really even a conclusion. I just wanted to clear my head after thirty minutes of "news coverage" this morning. Although I find some of my kid's cartoon shows fairly disturbing they leave my head hurting a lot less then the media did this morning.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Never Easy

The bathroom renovation has consumed us the past few days. I'm getting back into the routine of late night runs to Home Depot to visit old familiar faces that assisted me during our kitchen renovation. There have been some plumbing hurdles but so far things are on track...slow, but on track. There have been some intense moments, like when we carried the 250lb. vanity upstairs. Before you think badly of my husband for making me move cabinets while I'm 30 weeks pregnant, I insisted I could help and begged him to let me try. We rigged some straps to help me lift on the up side and he pushed from the bottom. It wasn't pretty, but we eventually go it upstairs. Did I mention we have to eventually get another one upstairs.
Pushing the box upstairs, on his back...poor guy was ready and I stopped to grab the camera while he waited.
The vanity upstairs, awaiting it's new home.

The biggest issue caught us off guard. We purchased new vanities and bought separate vanity tops. We were surprised to come home and find the two granite counter tops to be very different colors despite the fact that they are supposed to be the exact same product. The display counter, called "beige" was just that, beige! However the majority of the "beige" counters have really been grayish/pink unlike the sample in the store. Complicating things is that we also have to buy 4 side splashes to go along the wall on either side of the counter...those have been different colors, too.

The difference was more then obvious even to someone that doesn't care about details. The picture below is the counter we didn't like with the side splash on top that we thought we were purchasing.
We went back to Home Depot and discovered that our case wasn't an isolated situation. They say it is the manufacturer's fault and they take the blame and they are trying to get consistent colors. The stores were able to call around and see where they have more counters, but we still had to drive around and see if they were truly "beige" or the grayish and pink colored granite called "beige". And once we found 2 counter tops that worked (amongst about 20 gray versions of the "beige") we still weren't finding 4 side splashes that were the correct color instead of the grayish pink. You following me?
Essentially that meant making the rounds to about five Home Depots. We ended up purchasing four different counter tops and about nine different side splashes. The two below were close matches and three out of the four side splashes were great matches...one is close and will have to do for now. Pictured below is also the boxes of our floor tile that look nice with the counters...they looked bad with the grayish tone counter.The girls were troopers through it all. Thankfully I remembered to grab the DVD player to occupy them on our drive around Fairfax county searching for Home Depots. Considering we spent Thursday night driving an hour to a a Lowe's that had the vanity in stock that we wanted, I expected a lot of resistance tonight. However, the fact that we were still out at 9pm and they were watching movies in the car became very exciting to them! They actually asked to go to another Home Depot so we could stay out longer. Tonight our living room looks like this...
We're dreading packing up the returns, but I know we would have regretted settling with the original counters. It's now 10:37 and Brad is busy soldering some pipes. The water has been off since about 3:00pm when he began one of his plumbing projects. Our toilets are starting to remind me of an outhouse (lovely visual, I know). I guess the positive is the fact that I can ignore the dishes in the sink without any guilt since I can't wash them right now anyway. That means I can watch Friday Night Lights on Tivo without any guilt! Well, maybe a little guilt considering my husband is working upstairs right now...but I think I've earned a rest.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Love These!

A few months ago I posted about these books. Today I saw another one that I picked up at Target and couldn't put down without buying...The Supermarket Survival Guide. It's so frustrating to see an item listed in this book that I thought was the healthier option, yet in reality it has been a poor choice. I'm well aware that just because something is labeled as "light" or "low fat" doesn't mean it is necessarily good for you...however I'm still constantly surprised at some of things that are poor choices

I'm going grocery shopping on Thursday and I plan on doing a thorough reading of this book prior to that trip so I can make educated choices.


Here are a few pages from inside the book, in case you've never seen one, that gives you an idea of what the book is like. There are other sections to the book as well that offer more explanation.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Round 2

Today we dove into our second round of projects. Actually, I think this is probably round 4 or 5, but this is our first project of 2009. Brad has taken this Thursday through Tuesday off and we're going to attack this project full force.

We spent yesterday purchasing the majority of the large items for the remodeling of the girl's bathroom. Today we started the gutting of the room so that by Thursday, when Brad is off, we'll be done with demo and ready to start remodeling. So for the next few weeks we're all sharing the one sink in our master bathroom, which is the next big project that probably won't happen until later this summer.

Below are all the "before" pictures. The bathroom is odd...similar to a hotel set up with one vanity and a linen closet in the first room, then the second room has a full bath. Ideally we wanted to knock out the wall dividing the two rooms and install one large vanity. However, the wall with the door dividing the two sections of the bathroom is a load bearing wall and attached to the exterior wall. Since this isn't our dream home and somewhere that we'll be long term, we figured we'll do a complete remodel with the same floor plan to keep the costs from skyrocketing while maximizing the potential for resale in a few years.

There are a few pros to this design since Baileigh has started asking for more privacy...she is able to be in the full bathroom portion and take her shower while the other girls can wash up for bed and brush their teeth at the same time in the other room.

I already removed the wallpaper in the first portion of the bath, now I need to strip the wallpaper in the second portion. I decided to wait until Brad did his demo in hopes that he would rip out a lot of sheet rock to eliminate me having to strip as much wallpaper.


We're ripping everything out...the vanity, toilet, tub, lights etc. We're putting in a white toilet and tub and then we're tiling the floor (both rooms) and custom tiling around the tub. We've purchased espresso cabinets and granite counter tops for the vanities. We're going to change the lights like we did in our half bath...we'll seal up the canister lights that are currently in the ceiling and then hang wall mounted fixtures over the mirrors.

It was easier to rip out all the sheet rock around the tub then to try to carefully remove the tile off the wall. We're going to tile to the ceiling around the tub which I think is a great idea since it means I won't have to worry about stripping wallpaper in that section!


The supplies...new tub, vanity, sinks, toilet, tile etc...right next to all our containers with Christmas decorations. We're not motivated to put them in the basement and organize our storage room. So they'll sit while we remodel...I'd rather focus our energy on the bathroom project anyway.
I'm assuming this will take 2-3 weeks depending on any unforeseen problems. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 09, 2009

At His Expense

Don't get me wrong, I've been a George Bush fan. I will never debate the fact that he isn't our most eloquent President in regards to his public speaking capabilities. I think Obama's polished demeanor appeals to a lot of people in comparison to the way Bush always seems to be stumbling over his words. However, I like the authenticity you see in Bush compared to feeling like I'm listening to a smooth talker.

My Texan hubby, who has political aspirations, has found Bush to be a source of encouragement and motivation. While I think Brad is a good public speaker, I know he relates with Bush and after watching a video clip like this he'll have renewed belief in his own capabilities to one day be in some type of office.

This segment is over four minutes long, but there are some funny clips.

I'm gonna miss "W"!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

History in the Making

Today was the Armed Forces Farewell to President Bush. Brad put his name in a lottery to attend and was one of the approximately 400 military members selected. Although he was disappointed to not have a handshaking opportunity and a photo op, he said it was pretty awesome experience.
Essentially this was the military's farewell to their Commander in Chief. The VP and his wife were there as well as Laura Bush.

Below is the Armed Forces Continental Band.

Here are 2 brief video clips of Bush addressing the crowd and some of the parade.
video

video

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Family Pictures

My friend took beautiful pictures of the girls in July. As a result the idea of getting our annual family photo in the fall and pictures for the Grandparents slipped my mind. As Christmas approached I realized this fact and decided, despite my preference for outside natural light photos and the ease of pictures outside a studio, we got pictures taken today to give to family and to capture the girl's growth.

Brooke has never been too cooperative for photos. She did fairly well today...especially considering that she came down with a fever less then an hour after pictures and fell asleep on the way home (totally not like her) and took a four hour nap with a 101.7 fever.

Here are a few pictures from today.




I debated on this pose but decided it is our final child and we've never taken a photo to commemorate this stage.