Saturday, July 30, 2011

The House: I'm not the only dork around here...

I called myself a dork for spending several hours using MS Paint to create a scale imitation of our house. But I'm not the only one overly excited about building these houses!

One guy in our group came to build today wearing a white T-shirt with the words: "Days building" on it and three little tally marks. Another guy showed us his sketch of his lot with the landscaping complete. One girl giddily walked through her storage room when we were placing plastic in the foundation, and told me where she was going to place shelves and every last item she would be filling it with. When we received our packets of tools, one guy started singing Christmas songs and thanked our building manager, calling him "Santa Claus."

Have I mentioned just how excited we all are?

Today was a big day out at the site--the first full Saturday. Cody went out bright and early, arriving at 7:00 AM armed with all kinds of tools, sunscreen, water, and snacks. I spelled him for a few hours in the midday, but then he went back out. We started the framing of the first house. This took screwing down plywood to the foundation, then outer plywood supports to those, raising an interior load bearing wall through the middle of the house (in the basement), and then placing the I-beam floor joists across the top, which will be the floor of the house. When it eventually rolls around to our turn to do this, I will put up lots of pictures. I'm actually quite glad we're not the first house. While it is hard to watch our lot sit there covered in rocks, I know that we will be pro's when it is our turn and it will be done fast and efficiently. That is, if we ever figure out what we're doing... :) With nine houses, we are one of the biggest groups to ever do this project. And I just wanted to remind you, in case you were wondering: everyone in our group builds together. The nine houses are staggered in their build sequences so that there is always work to do. When one house is getting framed, others are having foundations poured by the subcontractors. When one is having cabinets installed, others are being painted. But in the end, we wait for all nine houses to be completed, then there will be a big open-house party, and then (and only then) we can move in. But of course, that is still a long way away.

One bit of semi-related, very very good news: Cody has been moved to a permanent shift on one of his jobs! He now will work mornings, with weekends off. Perfect! He can help build every evening and Saturdays, and we don't have to fret about his schedule changing all the time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Apparently I am a slow shopper

Annalisa got bored while we were shopping this morning. I had a watermelon beside her in her car-cart, and she put her head on in and fell asleep like it was her pillow. She didn't even wake up when I pulled the watermelon out to purchase it--she just laid down the rest of the way and kept on snoozing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The House: Second "first" day at the site

We finally got to go back to the house today and work! It has been far too long. Several of the foundations have been placed, but our lot is still a pile of rocks. Our next door neighbors get back-filled tomorrow, so the rocks and dirt will be moving soon. Today I went out by myself since Cody had work. My amazing mother was kind enough to stay with the kids. We put big sheets of black plastic in the bottom of a couple houses and hung the window wells (yes, hung, because they are not surrounded by dirt yet). We also got all our tools and chatted a bit with each other, sharing our excitement and worries, thrills and nerves.

One thing I found out to day that has me praying in thanksgiving--the funding for further houses is gone. If we had not been bumped up, we would not have gotten the house. What an amazing blessing! I wish the funding was still available, because this is an amazing program; however, we are grateful for this opportunity and know it is the right thing for us.

Now, we go back Saturday to hopefully start framing. Some people we talked to who have already finished building said this is very much a "hurry up and wait" kind of program. I can already see what they mean. :)

Katie's first big laugh

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pioneer day

In Utah, July 24th is Pioneer Day. We went over to the city's celebration for breakfast and some fun activities this morning, and I thought it was high time I take some pictures!

Lee is working hard on learning to ride his bike. He did even better on the walk home.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dates with Mommy

Occasionally when I was a kid my parents would take us on a date for some one-on-one time. I'll never forget driving to Spokane with just my dad (this was when we lived in northern Idaho) and eating at that restaurant with the dancing chicken and the amazing corn muffins; and dad actually drove back through the drive-through at the end of our meal to get more corn muffins. I was shocked! Mom would NEVER do something like that!

So this week I had planned a date with Cody to go to the local Opera, which my parents and sister + her husband are performing in. However, a last minute schedule change made Cody unable to go. I searched for a different Opera buddy, when I realized that Lee was old enough to accompany me. I knew it might be a little thick for him--it's the traditional Russian Opera Boris Godunov--but I decided to take him anyway. Good culture. And overall, I'd say he did pretty darn well for being a five year old boy going to a three hour long Opera in a foreign language. He wiggled. He whispered a bit. But we didn't have any outbreaks of screaming or whining. We had a good time; Lee says he didn't like it because of the bad guys (there is one scene where Grandpa got his gun stolen and someone else got shot), but the costumes and music were ok. Lee practiced behaving like a Gentleman, which he thought was silly because apparently Gentlemen live in churches, not houses.

Annalisa, of course, was insanely jealous that she was too little for the Opera. "But I'm FIVE!" she would cry. "No, sweetheart, you're two." "I'm three on my birthday!" she would cry harder. So I promised her she could come to Aunt Sara's Tupperware party with me on Saturday (yesterday). That, plus going down to Daddy's office for a few minutes (strictly off-limits in our home) appeased her. So yesterday it was Anna's turn. As we drove to Sara's house, Anna asked me at every turn, "Is THIS the Tupperware party?" Even though it is only about seven minutes away, Anna was thrilled when we finally arrived. We were the first ones there. Sara gave Anna some toys, but she got bored rather fast. She took all the magnets off of Sara's fridge. After the cake demo, we gave Anna a piece. She sat down on her chair looking very bored. I held her in my lap for a few minutes and she fell dead asleep. So we put her down on Sara's bed and she napped through the remainder of the afternoon, eventually waking up in time for the family pioneer-day BBQ we had last night.

So, my first official attempt at Mommy-kid-dates were both pretty goofy, but hey! that's what parenting is all about. I know both kids felt singled-out and special, and that was the important part.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Best Friends

My kids are best friends. Of course they fight. But they love to play with each other, squeal with delight when they see each other, and find endless sources of interest to talk about. Just a moment ago, Anna set up this little spot for Katie and helped her put her head on the pillow. She (Katie) is now lying on the floor, happier than she has been in a long long time, because she can just kick her feet and watch her brother and sister play.

In other random news, I found another thing we can all do to help Minot rebuild after the devastating floods. This one you don't even have to pay for! Just go here:

And find OAK PARK in MINOT, ND. Vote as many times as you like! The park with the most votes on Sept. 6 will be awarded a $100,000 grant. In the rules they suggest using the money for "nets for the basketball hoops" or "A new hiking trail." For Oak Park, how about new everything? They need the money so desperately. Anyway. Just do a good deed and vote, ok? :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The House: Yes, I am a dork.

Using MS Paint and way too much time, I've assembled this silly rendition of what I think our house might look like when it is (finally) done. Laugh away.

When it is done, I will take a front view like this and then we will compare. This is based merely on my memory of our choices. I didn't fix the garage door, but it will be white. Everything else I sort of tweaked to make it look like ours--again, though, only as I remember from our selection day.

Funny on this picture--when I showed it to Lee, he said, "But I don't want stripes on our house!" He couldn't understand the concept of siding lines, and that the house would not have stripes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

While our house is stalled, we've been enjoying the Summer.
My sister Kathryn came to visit and we took the kids to the park. It was warm in the sunshine and the kids got drenched with sweat and sun.

The other day Raychel and her kids came for a lunch playdate. We thought it would be a blast to have the kids run through the sprinklers in the back yard. Gavon went walking into the grass while I fiddled with the sprinkler system, trying to get the big sprinklers on in the back. Suddenly they came on and shot him right in the face. He tried to run away, but they were the big rainbirds and he kept running in the direction they were going so they kept hitting him. He finally got back to the stairs where it was dry and refused to set foot on the grass again. It was rather hilarious. :) As it turned out, Lee was the only kid who ran through the sprinklers. The rest of the kids were too scared. Oh well, the lawn needed the water anyway. I'm sorry I didn't take pictures.

We have only a little window AC unit that barely keeps the kitchen cool. Yesterday seemed particularly hot, and right before falling asleep I realized that one of the kids had turned the heat back on. Grr! I was mad. Good thing they were in bed, because they would have been in big trouble!

So, there's life. It's kind of quiet right now. That's good, I suppose.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Rainbows for Minot

Dear Friends:

As you may know, my hometown of Minot, North Dakota recently experienced the worst flooding in its 130 year history. Over 4000 homes were damaged or destroyed, along with numerous businesses and schools. Looking at the images of this beautiful city breaks my heart, and I've been trying to think of ways I could help.

I've decided to do a little fundraiser. For a limited time, I will be selling these rainbow hairbows and donating all profits to Minot Flood Relief.

The bows are made of 100% polyester ribbon, and measure about 2" by 2". (About.) They are $6 each or $10 a pair. There will be a $2 shipping charge to send them to you, no matter how many you order I can deliver them if you live close to me. Again, all proceeds go to Minot Flood Relief.

For an additional $.50 you can add a headband. The headbands are a soft, ruffly elastic ribbon and can be sized to order, so measure the head of the little girl you would like to accessorize. The rainbows will be mounted on either barrettes or alligator clips, and will be removable from the headbands so you can use them separately. I will make all the bows to order, so allow me 2-3 weeks after ordering to get your bow. Since I'm just doing this myself through my blog, please plan to pay with a check (or cash, if you live nearby).

If you would like a bow, please email me at:

Copy and paste, then fill out this information into the email:

Address you want them delivered/sent to:

How many bows would you like to purchase?
Do you want Alligator Clips or Barrettes?
For an additional $.50 each, would you like a headband?
If yes, would you like blue, pink, or white?
How long does the headband need to be? (Inches around, please)

Thank you!

Katie Bubble at 4 months

In the last few weeks, Katie has learned to roll over both directions, rather quickly. She can no longer be trusted on any sort of high surface, or to sit in her bouncy seat without being buckled.

Katie smiles and coos and laughs a lot. She still loves to be held nearly all the time, though. She has become a babbling baby too, and flexes her voice almost constantly when there isn't anything in her mouth. It is fun to hear her stories.

Lee and Anna are still in love with her, and she loves to play with them too. They make her laugh. She is a social baby, can't stand to be alone, and soaks up attention. (Even from her cousin Bryan, who is about a month older than her.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lee's 5th Birthday Part 2

More pictures and moments from Lee's 5th Birthday.

We had a little party in the back yard with family. We played with bubbles, ate Fajitas, and Dirt and worms cake. I think everyone enjoyed themselves--but especially Lee.

See my clever trick? I covered the cake with plastic wrap and poked the candles through it. No wax on the cake, and better yet--no drool this year! :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The House: Selection time

Yesterday Cody finished work at 3, so we rapidly packed up the kids and went to make a long list of decisions on the materials for our house. We are easy-to-please people, not too picky, who agree on almost everything, so it only took us about an hour to look through all the options and write down what we want. We were counseled by other people in the subdivision to keep a copy of our selections, so we did that. We picked the door knobs, the cabinets, the countertops, vinyl, laminate, carpet, door style, garage door, vent shape, gas appliances (YAY!), siding, grout, stone, and so forth. It was so much fun! Cody and I were both just beaming as we left, envisioning how our selections would work together to make our house our home. Then we decided to drive up to the lot again, now that is officially "Ours." We drove all through the neighborhood to look for similar selections and try to piece it together. We think all our choices will be very pretty, and will fit right in with the neighborhood, while still being distinct. There are still more selections to be made, like lighting, but that will be done later.

Two of the lots in our group have been dug, but that was done before the paperwork hiccup. Hopefully we can get going on the foundations again soon... like, this week...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A 5 year old boy

Lee is five years old today!

Lee is such a special part of our family. He helps out around the house a lot, and loves his sisters to pieces. He always has been very good natured, happy and caring.

He is excited to be five. He can't wait for Kindergarten to start. He was somewhat surprised that being five feels just like being four did.
Happy Birthday to my most wonderful son, Lee! You are one awesome dude!

The House: Loan closed

We closed on the loan today! Once the paperwork is filed, which will be "official" tomorrow morning, the lot will be ours. Of course it is empty. But we will be able to legally touch it and dig in it and start building on it.

We've hit another delay in paperwork. Apparently the city had some things that have recently changed, so the corporation we're working through had to quickly rearrange the order of some paperwork. This set everyone back another couple of weeks. All of us are getting antsy to go build. But in the meantime, it has been ever so slightly good for us because we've had some time to catch up.

We now get to go pick all of our home details! We've already decided it will be a sort of dusty dark blue (not navy... grayer than that...) with a square-ish grey stone on the front, and white trim, shutters, corners, and doors.

Right now, every step is bringing us closer to our goal. We still have a long, long way to go, but we are still excited!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Living in a detour maze

Imagine a big capitol H, lying flat on the ground. The top of the H is to the North, the bottom of the H is to the South. I live on the road that runs through the middle, facing south. The big road to the right(West) of me is closed with major MAJOR construction (turning a 2 lane road into 5, along with laying new pipes and sewer drains through a five mile zone). The big road to the left of me (East) is closed by a flooding river that has been running over the road since early April. What does that mean for us? We are now smack-dab in the middle of a very long, confusing detour maze. It also means that at about six every morning we start the parade of construction trucks, commuters, and recreational motorcyclists. It also makes me totally and completely nervous to use our front yard or park on the street. Getting the mail is scary. And getting out of the driveway during "rush hour" is nearly impossible. I'm really grateful for the fenced in backyard and that our kids are really quite good at listening and not going anywhere near the road. The best news? I get to see Optimus Prime drive down my street every day!

I can't wait to live on the quiet street with a school zone to the West and horse pasture to the East...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Patriotic bows and other useless information

I've been pondering for a while on how to make some type of patriotic/Independence Day hair bow for my girls. I thought about stars, fireworks... finally I just pulled out my ribbon, located all the red, white, and blue I could find, and tried some things. I made Katie's bow first, trying to do stars. While they do have five points, the angles are a little soft and abstract, and so I decided it is a cute bow--but too much work and not "Star" enough. So for Anna, I just made a big ribbon burst pattern. Easy enough. Maybe next year I'll attempt something else. For now, I think they're super cute and I didn't even go buy new ribbons for it. My next bow goal is going to be rainbows, and I still really want to get bumble bees done sometime. I have a notion to maybe sell the rainbows and donate the proceeds to the Minot flood relief. Get it? Rainbow after the storm? anyway. Just a thought.