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Friday, August 24, 2012

Zip Lining!

We decided to take the boys to a Zip Lining course last weekend.
Of course, I made the reservations, ignoring the reality that I would need to zip line.
I tried once before as part of a training class at work, and ended up (after a very long time sitting on the super high platform) walking down the tree again.  I just couldn't force myself to scooch off.
This time, though, after much psyching myself up, I did it!  Three times!
Here I am on the second Zip Line - if you're reading this in email you'll need to switch over to the blog to see the 14 second video. 
And here's Brennan on his very first Zip Line! (Another video - switch over to the blog please if you don't see it in your email).
He did great!
Thomas was a natural, having been through a zip line and high ropes course at church camp this summer.
Brennan and me, all suited up and ready to head out.
Me - not sure at all!
I'm so glad I did it and I'm so glad I did 3 different ones!  There were 6 total, but after #3 I stopped, the adrenaline wearing off.  I'd like to do it again someday though and attempt all 3.
The best part was being there with my family, having them cheer me on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Basement Renovation - Phase 3

Well, it's really coming together in the basement!  We've gotten quite a bit more done in the last couple of weeks that I thought I'd share.
You can see the before photos and see phase 1 here.

You can read about our second phase here.

Phase 3 - Sun Room Area, Plants & Extra Furniture
The "sun room" area in the basement is really pretty and gets lots of natural light.
It also looks great with rattan furniture.
However - no one ever used this area.
It was filled with older, abused furniture and did not really serve any purpose.
We decided to remove the furniture and get a Pub Table & Chairs for this area for family games.
But first, we had to get rid of some furniture.
The leather chair was thoroughly "worn" by the boys.  Comfy, yes, but marked up and (as it turned out) ripped it two places.
The glider was broken and marked up too.  It was sad to see it go - I remember purchasing it with David in Memphis when we were expecting Thomas.  I was happy to think that it'll be fixed up and a new mom will get to enjoy it now.
We also gave away a tall floor lamp that you see in some of the before photos.  It hadn't been used in years.
After much research, David and I chose a pub set from overstock.com (my first purchase from them - great selection & prices and $2.95 shipping!).  We like to mix wood tones and really liked this table with comfortable chairs (key).
David and the boys put the set together and did a great job.
I put myself in charge of plants - we have some beautiful pots from Mexico and hand-made rolling carts to sit them on. These carts had been in the attic for 8 years just waiting for a use.
(sorry for the bright lights - it was a sunny day!)
And we love the new pub set!  I like the height, the interesting chairs (with padding!) and the pretty table.  We plan to get a lot of use from this set!

View from the back wall.  Removing the chair and rearranging the love seat and couch really opened up the family room area.  That side table by the stove is not staying there :)

I'm really happy that we turned this area into a more useful, comfortable space.
before and after
And that was Phase 3!
Next up, lots of other decisions to make.
Maybe finding some colorful art to hang on the wall below the lights.
Going to ArtFest downtown this weekend to look around.

We're thinking about family photos for the other side of the stairs.
I picked up these frames at Kohl's for a great deal the other day.  I've ordered some photos so will wait to see if they work.
And this other end of the room.
This is the before.

And now.
It's certainly looking better, but we are trying to decide what we want to do here.
David's thinking an architectural-inspired reading chair.
This glass table probably won't stay here.
And obviously the cooler needs to make its way back to the garage!
And changing up what's hanging on the walls. 
Lots of decisions to make, taking our time with it.
It'll all come together at some point!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What I've Been Reading - August 2012

Hello, hello!
I finally sat down to do some reading this past month.
I find it hard to get through books in the summer - too much going on outside!
Four good books to share with you this month.
The Litwits (my evening book club) is reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak this month. 
I chose this book because I've heard so many great things about it and it's been on my shelf FOR.EV.ER. 
I'm so glad I finally picked it up.  I loved the writing style, loved Death as the Narrator, loved Liesl the main character. 
While heartbreaking at times, it was a great read.  Looking forward to hosting our discussion next week!
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - "It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery."
Loved It

"As the Page Turns" (my daytime book club) chose The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig for our August read. 
I enjoyed Ivan Doig's style and the story of Montana in 1909.  This is a simple story about a family whose lives become intertwined with a new housekeeper and her brother, and about growing up learning in a one-room school house.  Quite a bit of mystery unfolds as well.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - So begins the unforgettable season that deposits the noncooking, nonbiting, ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch-a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom.
Liked It OK

Oh, this was a tough one to read.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova is the story of a Harvard Professor who has early on-set Alzheimer's, told from her perspective.  Our September "As the Page Turns" selection, and while it's fiction, it could easily be telling the story of so many who are affected by Alzheimer's and dementia.  A beautiful, but heartbreaking story.  A fast read and one I'm sure we'll have lots to discuss about next month.  Have a Kleenex handy.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com - Alice Howland - Harvard professor, gifted researcher and lecturer, wife, and mother of three grown children - sets out for a run and soon realizes she has no idea how to find her way home.
Liked It


A couple of blogs I follow mentioned this new book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and the excellent way he weaves cutting edge research and true case studies. 
I hoped I would come away with good information about changing habits, and I did.  But I think the power of the book for me was in the real life examples the author studied and shared - The Indianapolis Colts, Michael Phelps, Alcoa, Starbucks, and Target - just to name a few. 
Detailed and too in-depth at times, but at other times I couldn't put it down.  A good non-fiction read.
One sentence synopsis from goodreads.com -  Award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed.
Liked It
And that's what I've been reading!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Basement Renovation - Phase 2

A couple of weeks ago I shared Phase 1 of our basement re-do.
You can see those photos and the before photos here.

Well, we liked our new cabinets so well, that we decided to put the same ones in on the other side of the stairs leading down to the basement.

Phase 1:

Phase 1 Before and After:

Phase 2:
This is the interesting office furniture that the previous owners had installed downstairs.
It was actually nice for the boys to have their computer and some art supplies, but it was quite an eyesore for some of us.

So David happily ripped it all out one night.
Then we spackled, sanded, and painted.

And finally the cabinets and countertop were installed last week.
And the new light and globes look great!
Can't tell you how much I love all the storage space and clean, clean, clean countertops!

Move In, Last Week, and This Week

Phase 2 Before and After

Also last week I used Craigslist.com for the first time.  I listed the Pier 1 love seat and chair for free and within 2 minutes I had 9 offers.  I say "offers".  I didn't think anyone would want them so I listed them for free, but somebody might have actually paid money for them!

They were just so torn up in spots.

But a nice couple came and collected them that same day.

And now the whole sun room area is cleaned out, and we've ordered something new for that spot in the basement.  Looking forward to having it here and assembled!

Slowly but surely, it's all coming together!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Amelia and Tyler

Last weekend Amelia and Tyler got married!

Amelia babysat the boys in the summer of 2009 - my last summer working.
They had an absolute ball with Amelia!
Click here for some great photos of their summer with Amelia.

She also took care of the boys when David and I celebrated my 40th at Key West last year!

And we're so excited that Amelia and Tyler have moved back home.
In fact, Amelia may be one of Thomas's teachers next year in the 8th grade!

We unfortunately missed the actual ceremony, but joined the big group of well-wishers for the reception.  Here are just a few photos.

Our friends who introduced us to Amelia were also at the reception and we got to catch up with them.
Mark, Kurt, Thomas, Brennan, and Amelia

 The food was delicious, and while David and I enjoyed more adult beverages, the boys really enjoyed helping themselves to the punch!

Amelia surrounded by her bridesmaids and her youngest peeps - Brennan had a ball dancing.

Tyler loves pie.
Loves pie.
Amelia and her grandmother made all of these pies for the reception!
She said it was therapeutic amidst the moving, getting ready to start a new job, and all the wedding planning!

A lot of varieties, with labels for all.
I thought it was such a fun idea!!

Congratulations Amelia and Tyler!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Fun - part 4

While summer is still going full-force, I felt like with school starting today it was a nice time to wrap up our random summer fun posts.  We had a really great time, even though we didn't travel this year.  But summer vacation still felt pretty short!

Thomas attended a Lego Robotics camp in July, and of course loved it.
The camp leaders sent us a few photos I thought I'd share.
As opposed to just building with Legos, this class teaches you to program the Legos robots.

in his element...

We had a couple of swim parties at our house a few weekends ago.
We invited Brennan's 5th grade class over for a summer party.
More than half were able to come, many were still traveling for vacation.
Since the majority of his classmates were in last year's class as well, it was great to see everyone again and welcome a few new students.
They had a ton of fun swimming, snacking, and playing Capture the Flag.

I think he's going to have a great year!

The next day we invited the junior high youth group over to swim.
This is such a great group of kids.  They had a lot of fun together.
They all start Confirmation classes next Sunday, and youth group kicks off at the end of the month.

This boy is growing up so fast!

Barry and Leigh hosted an Olympics Opening Ceremony party that Friday night.
I had suuuuch a great time!
The boys and I picked up these cookies at the bakery to take along with a couple of other appetizers.

Aren't they cute?

Mr. Barry even made a child-friendly cocktail for the boys!

The boys asked me to include their desserts.
They plated them themselves - we've watched a lot of Food Network this summer, apparently.

We told Thomas we wanted him to start training for his first 5K race in September.
He was not thrilled, as you can see below.
He's OK with the running, but he is a little concerned about the "race" part of the equation - we continue to let him know that it's about his own personal best and not about racing necessarily.
He's training like a champ, but still isn't sold on the actual 5K race.

grumpy face

But his second time out, he did great, running a mile on the treadmill.  I snapped a photo to text to David at work.  He's doing about a 9.5 minute mile now and likes to do pull ups afterwards.  He's going to be great in September!

David got me an awesome chef's knife - I was so excited!  It use it all the time.

The boys attended a great day camp a couple of weeks go and were totally exhausted each night.
We relaxed this past week and went to doctor's appointments, got our school supplies, and rested up for the new school year.

It's hard to believe it's upon us already, but we're ready!