“I love God”

Every night, after we read multiple books before bed, we lay Parker down and he, in hopes of prolonging bedtime, asks to hear a “story”. These 2 minute stories are always made up on the spot, usually about monster trucks racing, tractors on a farm, boats in the ocean… or something like that. However last night he laid in our bed before going to his room and I told a “Jesus story” and he listened intently as it went something like this:

“Did you know that God created everything? He created the whole world in 7 days. He made the moon, sun and stars, the plants, animals in the ocean, sky and land, and the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. He loved to spend time with Adam and Eve and their only rule was to not eat from a certain tree, but Adam and Eve were naughty and they ate from the tree and God had to send them away from the garden and separate himself from them. They were very sad and God was sad too. When we are naughty it’s called sin. Parker sins. Mommy sins. Daddy sins. Everyone sins. This makes God very sad (Parker is really into distinguishing emotions these days. Often telling me “Mama’s happy!” when he eats his dinner or “Mama’s sad” after he disobeys or throws a tantrum). However God didn’t want us to be separated from him so he sent his son Jesus to the world. Jesus was the only person who NEVER sinned. He always listened and obeyed his mommy and daddy and he never did anything wrong. He saved us from our sins by dying on a cross, so that now we can be with God forever!”

At this point, Parker who was quietly listening the entire time, spoke up in his sing-songy, sweet little voice and said, “I love God, mama!” and my heart swelled as I held him. “That makes mama so happy”, I told him.  That totally unprompted, innocent moment will be ingrained in my memory forever.

I can only pray that he continues to love God more and more each passing year. I feel so honored to be his mom and that I get to experience moments like that… makes all the hard days worth it!

 

 

Our Icelandic/English Adventure – Days 6-8

Day 6

Today was the first day of Kevin’s conference so I had the entire day to myself to explore Manchester. I looked up on pinterest “things to do in Manchester” and then arrived at Chetham’s School of Music to explore the oldest library in the English speaking world. I was able to go on a tour with only two other people and the tour guide was so thorough and knowledgeable.

Afterwards I explored the Manchester Cathedral and thoroughly enjoyed myself while sipping tea and eating a scone at ProperTea.

Later that evening I met back up with Kevin and we had a late dinner together at a pub we found nearby.

Day 7

Kevin’s conference had two more days in session so I left before him and as crazy as it sounds, I boarded a train and went BACK to London! I would have flown home from Manchester but it would have made the ticket price so much more, so I had to go back to London to fly home… however there were no trains that would get me there on time so I had to get there the day before. Thankfully Pete and Charlie let me stay with them overnight.

So I arrived back in London and had a few hours to kill until Pete and Charlie were finished with work, so I walked around the city again and saw St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Diana was married).

Later Pete picked me up from the train station and drove me to their cute house where Charlie had appetizers awaiting my arrival! They then took me to dinner at a proper 600 year old English pub where Pete’s entire family was waiting for us. I met the Martin family when my Aunt Sally and Uncle Matt took me to England in jr. high (they are my Aunt’s brother and family). We have since kept in touch via Facebook and a couple of visits they’ve had to the states since then. Although we aren’t directly related they took me in and made me feel like family. It was the perfect way to end this whirlwind trip!

Day 8

Early in the morning Pete drove me to Gatwick Airport on his way to work and I began my trek back home. I thankfully met two really nice people on both of my flights home and they kept it entertaining. After 20+ hours of traveling, Kelsey and Sue graciously picked me up from the airport and took me home! I could hardly wait to see my babies. When I walked in the house Parker looked at me and said, “Hi mama!” and gave me a big hug. I let him sleep with me in my bed that night and my mom was gracious enough to stay ANOTHER night and help with Levi so that I could actually get some rest. Could not have done this trip without her, grandma Jill, and my dad! What a blessing it is to have such a supportive family that lives nearby… we don’t take it for granted!

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Our Icelandic/English Adventure – Day 5

Day 5

This was our final day in London before heading over to Manchester so we had to make the most of it. We booked a duck tour through the city and saw some more of the sights.

We then head over to Harrod’s for afternoon tea, which was something I had been looking forward to all trip! It did not disappoint 🙂

We then boarded our train and arrived in Manchester that evening for Kevin’s work conference.

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Our Icelandic/English Adventure – Day 4

Day 4

We have started a trend of not sleeping the night before we fly I guess because last night we decided to hunt for the Northern Lights before catching our flight to London at 6am. Unfortunately because it was so cloudy we only caught glimpses, but I already want to come back in search for them again. So we said goodbye to Iceland and made our sleepy way to London.

When we arrived we had to figure out how to get the train/tube/taxi to Picadilly Square where we were staying. It just so happened that there was a women’s march today protesting, newly elected President Trump, so the subway and streets were packed with people! We finally made it to our cute hotel that just so happened to be centrally located. We then got to meet up with my cousins-cousin to have lunch and get a local’s tour of the city.

They took us to a really cool restaurant called the Flat Iron.

Pete & Charlie.

We got a good taste of London with Pete and Charlie and were ready to explore more tomorrow!

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Our Icelandic/English Adventure – Day 3

Day 3

Booking a tour was the best thing we could have done. We booked our tour HERE and had the absolute best tour guide name Bjorn. He was hilarious, easy to talk to, very insightful, and made the trip so enjoyable. He picked us up along with 14 other tourists and away we went.

  1. First stop of the day: Þingvellir National Park

At Þingvellir – literally “Parliament Plains” – the Alþing general assembly was established around 930 and continued to convene there until 1798. Major events in the history of Iceland have taken place at Þingvellir and therefore the place is held in high esteem by all Icelanders. MORE HERE

The park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian. MORE HERE

Look closely and you will see their old house of Parliament.

Rift Valley

2. Second stop of the day: Efstidalur Farm for the best Icelandic Ice Cream

Our awesome tour guide, Bjorn!

Rhubarb Caramel… yummm

3. Third Stop of the Day: Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall) is an iconic waterfall of Iceland offering a spectacular view of the forces and beauty of untouched nature. The water plummets down 32 meters in two stages into a rugged canyon which walls reach up to 70 meters in height. MORE HERE

4. Fourth Stop: Geysir Hot Spring

A favorite stop along the Golden Circle is the highly active Geysir Hot Spring Area with boiling mud pits, exploding geysers and the lively Strokkur which spouts water 30 meters (100 ft) into the air every few minutes. The area became active more than 1000 years ago and comprises more than a dozen hot water blow holes. MORE HERE

5. En Route to 5th Stop: Icelandic Horses

These beautiful horses can be seen all over the Icelandic countryside. I asked Bjorn if we could find some to take pictures of and he pulled the bus over on the side of the highway and here they are…

6. Fifth Stop: Secret Lagoon Hot Spring Nature Bath

The Secret Lagoon natural hot springs are located in the small village called Fludir and are in the Golden Circle area. The pool’s natural surroundings and steam rising into the air gives the place a magical feeling. The warm water stays at 38-40 Celsius all year. MORE HERE

This was such a fun day exploring and learning. If you go to Iceland you HAVE to book a Golden Circle tour.

Our Icelandic/English Adventure – Day 2

Day 2

We woke up with sun (so around 10:30 AM) and enjoyed our first night’s sleep (post Levi) without any interruptions. Ahhh…

It was a beautifully snowy day. We found a cute little coffee shop and picked up some breakfast sandwiches and hot chocolate and hopped in our car to go “explore”. We took the main highway and decided to go where it led and stop whenever we saw something interesting. However the beautifully snowy weather turned into a scary, windy, blizzard and about an hour into our trip we decided to turn around because us So Cal drivers were a little too inexperienced.

Taken from the car window… this photo isn’t in black and white!

When we got back to our apartment we decided to book a tour for the next day so that we didn’t let weather deter us from exploring again. We then went back out into the city and walked around and looked for another good place to eat dinner.

Lots of cats in Reykjavik

We got waffles at this Vofflevagninn for dinner to help keep the costs down 🙂

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavik

Our Icelandic/English Adventure – Day 1

Kevin and I just got to take a trip of a lifetime and leave the kids for 8 days while we adventured across the ocean.

Kevin was invited to attend a civil engineering work conference in Manchester, England and we decided to turn it into a vacation and have me tag along. We searched for cheap flights (and found them on WOW Air!), asked the grandma’s for their blessing (since they’d be babysitting), and then booked it! Take a peek into our travel diary and possibly take some of the ideas for when you book YOUR trip… because you totally should book a trip to Iceland (Sidenote: We decided to include Iceland in our trip because WOW Air offers stop-overs to Iceland en route to a European destination without changing the cost of your ticket! So we took advantage of it and stayed 4 days in Iceland and 4 days in England. I saw some flights for only $350!).

DAY 1

Levi’s Frozen Meals for the Week √

Goodbye LA!

We didn’t sleep at all the night before we left because we were packing, cleaning the house, making sure all of the kids’ stuff was in order etc. So we kissed our babies goodbye early Tuesday morning and boarded our flight around 11:30 AM! We planned on sleeping on the plane however we encountered a sleepless 8 hour flight and arrived in Keflavik at around 4:30 AM their time. We located our rental car covered in snow and decided to go find breakfast. What we discovered was that since it was dark until about 10 AM many businesses were not open! We drove around for about an hour in search of something “local” but had to resort to the only thing open… Dunkin Donuts. After our fairly disappointing breakfast, we headed on over to the Blue Lagoon… which quickly became the best part of the entire trip!

There were two types of facial masks that you could try. One cleansing and one moisturizing. They were amazing!

Soaking in a massive geothermal pool while it was snowing was an incredible experience, and the perfect way to unwind after the flight. I highly recommend doing the Blue Lagoon on your arrival date because it is only 30 minutes from the KEF airport and a great way to relax. When we arrived it was still pitch dark so it was fun to be in the pool while the sun was rising! The resort had lots of things to do. There was a swim up bar for drinks, a waterfall, steam room, sauna, restaurant, and gift shop. We stayed for a good four hours before making our trek to Reykjavik to find our Air BnB.

At this point we were going on 30+ hours of no sleep, nice and relaxed, and incredibly tired. So we grabbed a quick bite to eat at the first place we spotted and got our first experience of highly priced Icelandic food. Two burgers and fries… $50.

Once we arrived at our AirBnB we finally fell asleep and woke up about 5 hours later ready for dinner and a chance to explore old town Reykjavik. 

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Teacher’s Lounge Makeover

I was asked a few months ago to help redecorate the Teacher’s Lounge at Foothill Christian Preschool. After seeing it, I suggested we do more than just redecorate and do a total renovation.

The space is used by over 40 teachers every day, so it had to be practical and functional. It is a really small room, so I had to figure out how to maximize the space. My suggestions included replacing the cabinets, counter tops (that had a lot of water damage around the edges), the flooring, appliances, and furniture. I truly believed that by improving this space it would boost staff morale and show our appreciation for their hard work every day… and it has!

The room started with a few round tables and chairs which filled up the space quickly and gave very little walking room. I thought that replacing those rounds with a long rectangular table would not only visually streamline the room but would also foster community seeing as people would have to sit together versus in groups. However… I wanted to consider those that would rather have some quiet, alone time on their break, so we created a bar height eating area (looking out the window) for four people to take advantage of. I also wanted to remove the visual separation that the two different flooring materials created between the kitchenette and eating area.

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BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

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My Proposed Room Arrangement

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A very rough mock up using some of the furniture I suggested.

Vicky, the preschool director, and I spent a good amount of time at Home Depot picking out the cabinetry, counter tops, backsplash, and appliances to pull this entire look together. We scheduled the installation and then our maintenance staff demo’d and replaced the floor. We ended up doing the same gray, wood vinyl plank flooring that we have in our K-8th Grade office. The furniture was ordered online from Pottery Barn, Industry West, and Cost Plus. Blinds were from 3 Day Blinds. Decorations and Accessories are from Home Goods, Target, and Amazon.

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New roller shade color we chose to replace the vertical blinds.

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Stainless steel fridge to replace the smaller white one.

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Quartz countertop color chosen.

 

 

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Basic shaker style cabinetry chosen in the color “Painted Stone”.

Goodbye kitchen!

Goodbye kitchen!

Hello new floors!

Hello new floors! Do you realize that’s where the kitchen was??

Cabinetry installed! Check out the 2 microwaves! The teachers loved that new perk.

Cabinetry installed! Check out the 2 microwaves! The teachers loved that new perk.

75% Finished

75% Finished

The furniture was delivered and assembled and the room started to take a new form. The school colors are teal, black, and white with accent colors of gold/yellow… so this is what inspired the room.

Glass subway tile

Glass subway tile

Here comes the fun part... decorating! My favorite little corner.

Here comes the fun part… decorating!  Found this quote online and designed a fun wall graphic. Love this little relaxing corner.

Added some random decor elements to the wall to fill in the empty space.

Added some random decor elements to the wall to fill in the empty space.

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Created a little coffee bar on the buffet. Mug rack found HERE!

How cute is this little succulent pot from Home Depot?

How cute is this little succulent pot from Home Depot?

Added some random decor elements to the wall to fill in the empty space.

Still need to add another outlet below the buffet so that the Keurig can join the other coffee elements.

 


 

PRODUCTS USED IN THIS PROJECT

Mug Rack from Amazon

Coffee Table Reads

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Tool Time… Halloween 2016

This year our costume idea had to work for a family of four and appease a picky two-year old dresser. I figured that Parker loves construction and Bob the Builder so he wouldn’t mind wearing a tool belt and dawning the outfit of Tim the Tool Man Taylor from our beloved childhood show, Home Improvement. We might as well take advantage of dressing up like we want to while the kids are young enough to be props haha.

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Parker (Tim the Tool Man), Levi (Al), Me (Heidi) and Kevin (Wilson)

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Look at this cool little fence Kevin whipped up the morning of!

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One of our favorite traditions is hosting a Halloween party because we get so many trick-or-treaters. Bon fire in the front yard, handing out hot apple cider and candy, yummy food, and movies!

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Make your own costume by hitting up the thrift store and Amazon! Some of our finds:

Wilson’s Bucket Hat

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Little Tim’s Tool Belt

Little Al’s Boots

Home Office – Part 1

As we anticipated the arrival of baby 2 and the work-from-home opportunity given to me we had to get creative with space we have at home. We have a three bedroom house which currently uses one bedroom as an office (aka a catch-all for things that don’t have a place). We knew that we would need a quiet place to escape and get work done once two kids were running around and we also wanted the boys to have separate bedrooms for the sake of full night sleeps, so we decided to build an office in our garage. This decision was hard to make because it replaced the idea of creating a studio apartment back there that we could possibly rent… it also ate up a bunch of work space for Kevin!

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We still wanted to be able to park in the garage, and keep a space on the side for Kevin’s work bench and tools so we didn’t end up with much room… only 48 sq. ft! Adding a window is a MUST!

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This garage project includes: fixing up the existing bathroom, creating an office (framing, electrical, drywall, built-in cabinets and desk, flooring) and reorganizing the tool/storage area.

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This stud (pun intended ;)) put up the framing in just one, extremely hot, afternoon!

Cutting a hole for the window!

Cutting a hole for the window!

There she is!

There she is!

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Weekend 2: Insulation √, drywall √, electrical ran √, can lights installed √

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AC unit installed!

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Drywall Complete. Kevin painting the interior.

The beginning of the custom cabinet.

The beginning of the custom cabinet.

Josh approves!

Josh approves!

Getting fitted into the space. Next up trim work, doors (for the bottom half which will cover the filing cabinets), and paint!

Cabinet getting fitted into the space. Next up… trim work, doors (for the bottom half which will cover the filing cabinets), and paint!

Cutting down the butcher block that will be used for the desktop.

Cutting down the butcher block that will be used for the desktop.

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Desktop installed and trim work around the window finished!

Desktop installed and trim work around the window finished!

We use to take pride in the speed of completing projects… well those days have changed. Free time is a thing of the past and late night work sessions have been replaced with late night feedings. So stay tuned to see the grand reveal…

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Welcome Levi Rietze

What a whirlwind it has been the past 2 weeks. Let’s give it up for all the moms and dads rocking multiple kids. It is a lot of work!

These past few weeks with newborn Levi have been more challenging than I expected. With newborn Parker we were in a cloud of sleepless bliss. Even though we were tired, we “slept when the baby slept” and found ourselves just sitting and staring at him multiple times a day. This time around with newborn Levi (and two year old Parker) there is no sleeping, period. Someone is always awake and needing attention. This state of pure exhaustion really does something to your brain! The combination of parenting a toddler, not sleeping, feeling mom-guilt for not spending enough time with Parker/Kevin/Levi, balancing the work-from-home life, and trying to “soak it all in” can really bring on a bout of anxiety.

Did anyone else feel this awkward tension between feeling so happy to have a second baby yet sad that you didn’t have just one anymore? Almost like this wave of nostalgia hits you and you crave all the moments you had just a few weeks/months prior when life was easy (hindsight is 20/20 haha) and all your energy was devoted to just one. All of the veteran moms I know have assured me that this feeling fades as your love for your second child continues to grow and I know deep-down that this is just a phase, but it is a strange feeling nonetheless and a contributing factor to the overall exhaustion.

God sure knew what he was doing when he designed motherhood. He must have known that us moms would struggle with the feelings of exhaustion, guilt, and anxiety, so he built in multiple times of rest a day (usually every 2 to 3 hours) with a loud, pressing reminder to sit down and be still… and feed your baby.  During these “resting” times, I have found that reading my Bible and going through different devotional plans have fed my soul and given me the peace and energy to get through my day. Some of the verses that I have highlighted this week are:

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever – Psalm 73:26

And whatever you do, whether in word of deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. – Proverbs 16:3

I am so grateful for my two healthy children and our growing family. I hope to never take for granted what many long and pray for. Thank you Jesus for entrusting to me these beautiful babies to raise. Give me the patience and energy to teach them your ways and may my actions always point them to you.

Welcome to the family Levi! We love you!

Photos by Valentina Glidden Photography

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Baby #2

Whenever we reach a major life milestone we tend to want to photograph it. So having only a few weeks left of pregnancy with #2, we contacted our friend and photographer, Valentina Glidden, to meet us at Easley Canyon in Pasadena for a quick shoot. We only had a short window of time to work with after getting home from work, with good sunlight, a toddler (and her baby), with the park closing at 7 so we hopped on the freeway and rushed over. After a series of unfortunate events (a major brush fire that was heavily showering us with ash, having to return for missing camera parts, and a wild toddler) she somehow managed to capture these “quiet” moments of motherhood. It was a crazy afternoon, but I have a feeling our life is only going to get crazier in these next few weeks…

Photos by Valentina Glidden Photography

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Backyard Facelift

Although our backyard was just made over a year ago, we started to see some problems with our grassy areas. The trees in the grass were creating too much shade so the grass was dying… creating big muddy messes when the dog and Parker would play. Knowing that Easter was just around the corner and we were hosting again, my dad surprised us with a backyard facelift.

I came home from work and both trees and all remaining grass was removed! By the very next day my dad had new sod installed and put in a flower bed surrounding the seat wall (where it is still very shady). I am constantly stunned with my dads creativity and generosity. There is no way we would have been able to fix the yard to this extent. Sure do appreciate him!

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Came home from work to find my backyard like this! 2 trees and all the grass removed!

Came home from work to find my backyard like this! 2 trees and all the grass removed!

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New flower beds filled with mossy ground cover that enjoys the shade. My dad's vision is to have all of the moss fill in and spill over the bender board into the grass.

New flower beds filled with mossy ground cover that enjoys the shade. My dad’s vision is to have all of the moss fill in and spill over the bender board into the grass.

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New sod installed! It looks so lush!

We all love laying in the new grass!

We all love laying in the new grass!

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Thanks grandpa for spoiling us with such a great backyard!

Entertainment Center

I’ve found that nothing motivates us to start (and finish) a project faster than hosting a party at our house. It gives us a deadline to work around and provides just enough adrenaline to work late nights and finish in the nick of time. We love the anxiety haha.

We offered to host Thanksgiving at our house this year. Hosting your first Thanksgiving (well any holiday event really) is a big deal… what should I serve (I’ve never cooked a Turkey!)? How should I decorate my dining table? What should we do afterwards? We decided upon the food, pulled together a few simple decorations, and then tried to figure out what to do afterwards. We came to realize that most people liked to sit around after the big meal, let the tryptophan set in, and watch football (we aren’t big sports fan). However, where would they sit to do that in our house? (Sidenote TV Story: The Christmas before we got married, I bought Kevin a 32″ TV for his bedroom. When we got married, we set it up in our apartment, realized we never watched it so we sold it to some friends. A few years later they wanted to get rid of it and we were living in our house and still didn’t have a TV so we bought it back haha!) The TV now sits on top of a small armoire in our living room. We don’t have cable or even local channels,  we occasionally use it for Apple TV and Netflix. Needless to say, this was not the ideal TV nor location for a big group of people to huddle around. So we decided that this was a better time than ever to build the entertainment center that we always wanted to.

Our family room is a long, rectangular room that had an extremely long couch on one side and long blank wall on the other side. I began perusing Pinterest to find some inspiration to show Kevin. I found a few pictures I liked and he got right to work… and finished it within a few days!

The 32″ TV just couldn’t cut it in our new entertainment center so we borrowed Kevin’s brother’s TV for the sake of turkey day football and purchased a brand spanking new TV the next day, Black Friday… perfect timing!

inspiration

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BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

STEP 1: remove baseboards, run electrical to TV console

STEP 1: removed baseboards, ran electrical to TV console

STEP 2: built box frame out in the garage and moved it into the house to get an idea of size

STEP 2: built box frame out in the garage and moved it into the house to get an idea of size

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Step 3: painted, borrowed TV for scale

Step 3: affixed to the wall, painted, borrowed a TV for scale, attached frame pieces together

Step 4: Add decorative elements (shiplap and moldings)

Step 4: Added details (shiplap and moldings)

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Step 5: add TV, shelf accessories, and cabinet doors

Step 5: Accessorized! (*Decorations and doors were added after Thanksgiving)

Kids Table

Kids Table

Pinterest Win - Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Pinterest Win – Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

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Back to the Future… Halloween 2015

bttf2015Did you know that when Marty, from Back to the Future, was sent to the future it was October 2015? Well it just seems appropriate to celebrate that this year with a family Halloween costume.

Kevin began building the Delorean around Parker's red wagon.

Kevin began building the Delorean around Parker’s red wagon.

Spray painted to perfection.

Spray painted to perfection.

Doc checking out the flux capacitor.

Doc checking out the flux capacitor.

Doc getting prepped for the big night!

Doc getting prepped for the big night!

The Delorean in all its glory!

The Delorean in all its glory!

Taking it for a spin around the neighborhood...

Taking it for a spin around the neighborhood…

#outatime

#outatime

Circa 1985 in 2015

Circa 1985 in 2015

Read about how you can create your very own Delorean and send your costume back to the future HERE!

The Big Reveal

After only four weeks of construction, our backyard has been completed. Kevin has spent many long nights working away to get the patio finished. My dad and his guys have been spent almost every day digging, irrigating, and planting. We are so grateful for the help we have received.

To say we cut it close is an understatement. The finishing touches were completed at 2am the day of Parker’s first birthday. Bishop’s Painting painted and stained the patio cover on Friday and ended around 6pm. Then Kevin hung the ceiling fan and pendant lights. Then we cleaned and began setting tables out for the big party. Phew! We did it!

Plants being installed!

Plants being installed!

Vegetable Garden with tomatoes, basil, chives, peppers, strawberries, cilantro, limes, avocado...  this paint job was fixed after the ceiling was stained.

Vegetable Garden with tomatoes, basil, chives, peppers, strawberries, cilantro, limes, avocado… this paint job was fixed after the ceiling was stained.

Raw wood ship lap ceiling, prior to stain.

Raw wood ship lap ceiling, prior to stain (EAST SIDE).

Raw wood ship lap ceiling, prior to stain (WEST SIDE).

Raw wood ship lap ceiling, prior to stain (WEST SIDE).

Oh no! Something we encountered when spraying the stain was this very splotchy, uneven finish. It took 3 coats to even it out and make it presentable. But believe me... I was worried.

Oh no! Something we encountered when spraying the stain was this very splotchy, uneven finish. It took 3 coats to even it out and make it presentable. But believe me… I was worried.

Taken the next day during with the sun out... You can see how the stain evened out.

Much to my relief, the stain soaked in and evened out. This photo was taken the next day with natural light.

 

What a transformation!

What a transformation! (LOOKING FROM THE GARAGE)

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LOOKING FROM NORTHWEST CORNER

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LOOKING FROM SOUTHEAST CORNER

Welcome to Parker's First Birthday party! (/backyard reveal party)

Welcome to Parker’s First Birthday party (/backyard reveal party)!

Over 50 people attended this 1st birthday bash! The yard functioned perfectly and proved to be the perfect place to entertain.

Over 50 people attended this 1st birthday bash! The yard functioned perfectly and proved to be a wonderful place to entertain.

The kids loved the new sod!

The kids loved the new sod!

Thanks to Kayla for her help party planning!

Thanks to Kayla for her help party planning!

 

Hurray! I have a brand new backyard to play in!

Hurray! I have a brand new backyard to play in!

Patio Lights

Barn Light Inspiration

Barn Light Inspiration

After looking all over the internet for cool patio pendants I finally landed on farm light fixtures. I searched high and low for online retailers and found plenty of good options, however my expensive taste kept getting in the way. I decided to get crafty and spruce up some chrome lights I found at Lowes. Adding the Edison bulbs from Ace Hardware pulled the entire look together.

$28 per light!

$28 per light!

How about barn yard red?

How about barn yard red?

Took all of 30 minutes to spray paint our four patio pendants.

Took all of 30 minutes to spray paint our four patio pendants.

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Notice the nice red farm house lights!

I love how the red pops with the white trim!

Backyard Makeover – Part 6

There are a few ways to guarantee rain. 1. Wash your car. 2. Start Roofing. Although drought-stricken California enjoyed a few sprinkles this week, our roofing project did not suffer.  Kevin finished the ship lap sheeting and began laying the shingles the next day. He worked around the clock in the heat to get it done in two days. He was pleased with how relatively fast it went with the new nail gun he purchased. Funny… it seems like we acquire a new tool for every new project we begin…

While the roof was being completed the sod was installed and the sand box was constructed. It is so exciting to see the progress we are making each day!

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Shade!

Shade!

Sod being laid!

Sod being laid!

Sandbox constructed, just needs sand!

Sandbox constructed, just needs sand!

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Finally Covered!

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Shingles going up!

We were so excited the shingles were done we couldn't hold the camera steady.

We were so excited the shingles were done we couldn’t hold the camera steady.

Ridge cap installed. Kevin is a proud handy man!

Ridge cap installed. Kevin is a proud handy man!

Backyard Makeover – Part 5

Kevin has spent many nights this week framing the new patio cover. Thanks to our brother in law Dan, Kevin’s brother Jason, and our friend Jake for their help.

The patio cover is much taller than I expected but I am pleasantly surprised. I think it will make a grand statement and I cannot wait to begin picking out lighting and other patio furniture decor.

Lumberjacks, Kevin & Dan. Placing the first supporting beam up.

Lumberjacks, Kevin & Dan. Placing the first supporting beam up.

Getting the center ridge of the roof in place.

Getting the center ridge of the roof in place.

Framing begins on the roof.

Framing begins on the roof.

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Support cross beams in place.

Look at the size of this thing!

Look at the size of this thing!

Framing completed.

Framing completed.

My hero :)

My hero 🙂

Where's Waldo? Up on the roof... in 100 degree heat...

Where’s Waldo? Up on the roof… in 100 degree heat…

Shiplap roofing being installed...

Shiplap roofing being installed…

Backyard Makeover – Part 4

Work has begun on the winding paths throughout the garden. The original concrete was broken and reused. Each stone was laid, leveled, and arranged by hand. I absolutely LOVE the end product. My dad wanted you to be drawn into the back yard with each turn of the path.

Path dug out, ready for concrete stones to be laid.

Path dug out, ready for concrete stones to be laid.

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Left path leading to the side gate. Right path leading to the future sand box.

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Each piece of broken concrete was laid and leveled by hand.

Each piece of broken concrete was laid and leveled by hand.

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DG was used to fill in the cracks to help keep everything in place and resist runoff.

DG was used to fill in the cracks to help keep everything in place and resist runoff.

 

Backyard Makeover – Part 3

Today work began on the new and improved patio space. My dad has dreamed up a space that will provide a great place for entertaining and relaxation. He has designed a wall to surround the patio that will serve as seating and containment of the dirt behind it. We think that we will be able to seat 20 people comfortably, perfect for home group! Kevin now needs to build the patio cover to go above it.

Digging the trenches for the seat wall.

Digging the trenches for the seat wall.

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Preparing the molds for the rounded edges of the seat wall.

Preparing the molds for the rounded edges of the seat wall.

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Ready for concrete for the slab beneath the shed.

Ready for concrete for the slab beneath the shed.

Cement is here!

Cement is here!

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My dad chose a dark charcoal gray color to match the house.

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Concrete poured for the shed slab.

Concrete poured for the shed slab.

Concrete design by Papa John

Concrete design by Papa John

11 Months old today!

11 Months old today!

Waiting patiently for the birthday party backyard reveal!

Waiting patiently for the birthday party backyard reveal!

Backyard Makeover – Part 2

With no time wasted, at 7:00 this morning the Bobcat arrived and began ripping out the existing concrete. Within a matter of hours, the concrete was removed and the ground beneath the future patio had been leveled. Talk about a quick turnaround!

Goodbye old concrete!

Goodbye old concrete!

Parker was awakened from his nap from the loud noises outside. Luckily he didn't seem to mind...

Parker was awakened from his nap from the loud noises outside. Luckily he didn’t seem to mind…

We enjoyed watching the tractor from the inside of the house.

We enjoyed watching the tractor from the inside of the house.

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Happy to see the concrete breaking in nice large pieces to be used for our garden paths!

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Papa John came over and chalked out where he envisions everything going.

Papa John came over and chalked out where he envisions everything going.

Just imagine a beautiful winding path that draws you into the secret garden.

Just imagine a beautiful winding path that draws you into the secret garden.

Enjoying cool breeze in the afternoon, can't wait to see what everything will look like in just a few short weeks.

After a long day, P and Grandpa enjoyed the cool breeze in the afternoon.

Backyard Makeover – Part 1

My dad texted us last night and said, “My mason and I will be there before 8am to go over my backyard design”… What?? I was so excited to hear that my dad was willing to start working away on our backyard before Parker’s 1st birthday party in July. He has described to me a beautiful oasis that is both inviting and accommodating for entertaining and relaxing for a night out on the patio after a long day’s work. Let’s get started!

Check out the BEFORE photos below…

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Thanks Dad!

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Papa John measuring for the new patio.

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Looking from our side gate at the back of the house (Northwest view).

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Looking at the back of our house from the garage.

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Looking at the garage from the southeast corner of the yard.

South East View

South East View

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Southwest View

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West Side Yard View

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We will be moving the shed (seen in prior photos) to wear the ladder is sitting in this photo. In return we will put a sandbox where the shed currently sits for a play area for Parker.

Kevin and Dan got a head start and began breaking up the concrete on the west side yard. We are saving all of these broken pieces to be reused in a winding path throughout the garden.

Kevin and Dan got a head start and began breaking up the concrete on the west side yard. We are saving all of these broken pieces to be reused in a winding path throughout the garden.

Painting the Awnings

After much debate about what color to paint the awnings I fell back on my trusty gray. I wanted it darker than my walls to contrast nicely with the white cabinetry yet light enough to still see some of the wood grain. That is when I stumbled across milk paint. The perfect solution to my problem. With milk paint all you have to do is add water and dilute it to the right color you like. It acts more like a stain. To read more about it CLICK HERE.

Just add water!

Just add water!

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Still drying… but I love how the color is soaking in differently in different places.

Up close of the milk paint in action.

Up close of the milk paint in action.

Decided later on to add a second coat.

Decided later on to add a second coat.

 

Wood Awnings

As I was perusing Instagram I came across a beautiful kitchen designed by HGTV’s Joanna Gaines (which looked very similar to our kitchen!).

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Love the wood awning!

I loved the wood awning that she incorporated above the window. I asked Kevin if he would build me something like that for our kitchen, because our windows look naked! He agreed and built me them in 1 day! I’m always impressed with his can-do attitude and his ability to get it things done so quickly.

Before he began, I wanted to do a little tweaking to the original inspiration. Instead of having the raw wood look, I wanted it to have more detailed moldings, like the rest of our house. Kind of like this range hood here:

Nevermind that it is over the range... this will make the perfect wood window awning for my kitchen!

Nevermind that it is over the range… this will make the perfect wood window awning for my kitchen!

Our turn…

A wise man once said... measure twice, cut once.

A wise man once said… measure twice, cut once.

Notice our naked windows...

Notice our naked windows… Kevin first created a mock up with cardboard.

Measuring the frame he built.

Perfect fit!

Wood awning frame 1

Wood Awning Frame 1

Wood Awning 1 with detail pieces added.

Wood Awning 1 with detail pieces added. Goodbye naked window!

Wood Awning 1 Close Up

Wood Awning 1 Close Up

Both wood awnings completed!

Both wood awnings completed!

Now I need to decide what color to paint them. I’m thinking of a rubbed dark gray so that the wood grain is still visible. What do you think? I also want to install a pull down shade underneath for privacy. Pictures of that project to come!

Parker Bracelet

July 11, 2014 was the day our lives changed for the better. Parker was born! It’s amazing how such a small someone can bring so much joy to a family. He has brought our family closer together in many ways.

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I pinned this picture on Pinterest (HERE) knowing that someday I wanted to order it as a way to commemorate a special someone. Parker was that perfect someone. I ordered it on Etsy and it arrived within a few days. I love it!

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Parker Bracelet: Olive Yew Jewels

Gold Bangle & Merlot Gem Bracelet: Suo Boutique in Monrovia & Brea

Gold Stacking Rings: Mary John Fine Jewelry

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