Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sick Bay

One by one they hit the dust. Gwen got it first.

The next day Charlie threw up and stayed home from school.

By the third day, Alec was sad to miss out on all the fun at home and went to the school nurse with an upset tummy and a temperature of a whopping 99. He was sent home 'sick' and joined the party. He never ended up throwing up and never really acted sick, but oh well. He did a good job of taking it easy.

Not sure where this picture of Charlie came from. One of the many selfies the kids take whenever they can get their hands on my phone unbeknownst to me. Cute kids. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Playing outside

We had a nice warm spell the first bit of February and enjoyed some outside time. The kids like to play around the renovation/building scraps. Alec here is making a sort of catapult out of some wood and bricks. The only bad part is he tried to catapult chunks of bricks and they would fly directly back toward the person's face who launched it. 

The swing set that came with the house was placed towards the back side of the backyard, far away from the house and the kids are too scared to go out and play on it without a parent right by them. Sometimes we'll see it on our walk home from the bus and stay out to play.

The playground has a nice view of the backyard and I really like how the new addition looks from the back of the house. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Eletrical/plumbing and an initial tour of the new upstairs

Also while Chris was gone, they framed in the opening into the new space upstairs and started on electrical/plumbing.

new upstairs hallway: with a bathroom on the left, a bedroom straight a head and another bedroom up to the right.


Then below is the first, smaller bedroom with windows facing the driveway. We're probably going to call this room the brick room since after seeing it initially framed in, we decided we liked the brick wall from the old exterior of the house and are going to keep it exposed but fix the one little section of roofing with a drywall arch. Its going to look nice.

The last, larger bedroom has a beautiful view of the backyard. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Heating/Cooling, EAVES and connecting old and new

One of my favorite improvements we're doing on the house right now is trimming back the extraordinary long eaves all around the house. These babies stuck out 4-5 feet from walls! It was insane. Anytime you look out any window almost 1/2 of what you saw was the underside of the eaves, the soffit. It was causing the roof to buckle and bed on the edges of the roof and maybe even some warping/ripples in the middle. They first cut away the part by the breakfast nook in the kitchen and it was like someone had turned on an extra light in the kitchen. Amazing! 

Also on the docket for this week was installing the new furnace in the attic space of the new addition and running the heating/cooling "worms" for the upstairs bedrooms. The current bedrooms are heated/cooled with vents in the floor which means there is some exposed duct work in the current garage. Now that we're making the garage into a playroom we want to remove that duct work. Also, to have all the upstairs rooms heated and cooled with the same unit is a good idea. 

This means that we needed to install an attic space in the upstairs hallway and so we loose the vaulted ceiling there.  That doesn't bother me at all. I think it'll help make the transition from the existing house to the new part of the house a little more seamless. But it does mean that the upstairs bedrooms feel a little bit under construction and its pretty inefficient to heat this space that is connected and open to the outside air. It can get kind of cold up there during the night and feels quite drafty on a windy day. 

It also means that we needed to move Gwen from out of her room and into the boys room so that we can connect the new addition to the current house! This was also one of those changes that the kids have been asking us about for weeks. Now we don't have to climb up a really tall ladder, creep across the roof and crawl in a window to walk around and inspect the new stuff! It is really amazing to see our dreams and ideas materialize. We can really get a feel now for how this connection will work... I think its going to be awesome! We're thinking of putting a little built-in day bed/reading nook against the wall where the closet was, so the room becomes more like a big hallway with a cute reading spot off to the side.


While Chris was gone at his conference, an exciting development happened at the house...we got the windows cut out of the brick and installed in the new playroom!! It really makes the that space feel totally different - decidedly un-garage-like.

Alec's baptism

Alec was baptized on Friday January 23. My parents and Chris' mom flew in the day before! It has been a while since we had parents from both sides with us at the same time. I LOVED IT. We were just talking and catching up the night before and looking forward to the time together. My parents could stay until Saturday morning and Dixie could stay until Tuesday.  We texted Thom, Chris' brother, with a crazy idea that they were welcome to come for the weekend and play with us and Grandma Dixie, even if they couldn't leave work in time to drive the 9 hours and make it to the baptism at 6:00. But we never heard back from them and I didn't think another thing about it since there was plenty other to think about to get ready for it. 

We had printed out a bunch of invitations to hand out to a lot of my friends, Chris' colleagues and Alec's friends and teachers. Alec decided that he would like Charlie to give a talk, Gwen to sing a song, Grandma Heather to play the piano, Grandma Dixie to say the opening prayer and lead the music, Grandpa Betteridge to give a talk and his friend, Benjamin to give the closing prayer. I think Alec liked the idea of being able to ask people to do things that he, himself, found uncomfortable. You should have seen the smile he had on his face when he said he wanted Charlie to give a talk. My dad was great and helped me get the program figured out and printed.

Since it was on a Friday night, I wanted to provide a nice spread of refreshments and it was so nice to have my mom and mother-in-law to help finalize the selections, shop and bake. We did two cheese balls, a meat and cheese platter, crackers, a big bowl of strawberries and grapes, a vegi tray, banana bread, fruit bread, and texas sheet cake. I had some friends who would bring cookies, lemon bars and a yummy punch. 

This would be the first baptism in the new building so we had to work out the kinks a bit. How long did it take to fill up the font? Where was the controls for that? How should we line up the chairs? How do you get the microphone to work in the podium? Where should we serve the food? Were their knives, pitchers and other serving utensils in the kitchen? I left my dad at the church to monitor the font, and start setting up chairs, while my mom and I did the last minute shopping, while Dixie stayed home with Gwen and Frederick.  It was SOO WONDERFUL to have family there. 

Then a few hours before the baptism we got a text from Thom and Brittany with a pin of their current location: Vicksburg, MS!!! They were coming and would be here in time for the baptism!!! Such a fun surprise. By the time Alec got home from school, we could tell him that his cousins Jackson and Graham would show up any minute. Haha. So So exciting. We're so blessed to have such great family and we love and appreciate them more than we can say.

I finished picking up the programs and the last minute shopping (stuff for the food, white underwear for Alec) and grabbed 6 McDonald's happy meals for all the children at home so they wouldn't be hungry during the baptism. I really wanted the evening to feel special for Alec and I think in that regard it was a huge success. There was a very sweet feeling in the room and just before it, Alec was giddy excited, grinning and giggling as he walked/ran around the halls in his white jumpsuit watching people come into the building.  My one regret was to get a family picture with all of our family who came. 

Grandma Dixie had brought Alec a "Baptism Notebook" that had a place for people to sign in, and I didn't quite get it set out in time before people started showing up, so I asked Charlie to go around and ask people to sign it...not really thinking he would but I thought I'd ask anyway. To my surprise, Charlie wasn't shy at all and took the job quite seriously and did it thoroughly.  Despite giving out LOTS of invitations, no one that we gave invites to actually came. :( Alec even asked, "When is my teacher coming?" But the room was still full with support from fellow branch members and family so that was nice. Frederick was pretty antsy the whole evening but I didn't want anything to ruin the warm Spirit I was feeling and just chose to not be annoyed while I held him/distracted him as best I could while listening to the program. 

Watching Alec and my Chris step down into the warm water with that cute giddy smile still on Alec's face and Chris' protective arms guiding and helping him electrified my insides. Then hearing Alec's name in that wonderful, simple yet powerful baptismal prayer made me shed a tear or two. Its hard to describe how incredibly special it all felt. I know this ordinance of baptism truly opens the gate towards returning to our Father in Heaven. I know that it is what God wants for all of his children and to see my son taking that step brought such a lightening feeling to my soul -- confirmation that I'm doing 'okay' as a mom, and that my kids might actually turn out decently. All these feelings strengthened my testimony of Baptism. 

I know Alec felt it too. Later that night I was talking with him about how he felt and I encouraged him to write in his journal about it and he wrote something along the lines of how he wanted to do it again because it felt so warm and good. 

My parents had to catch their flights the next morning and we were sad to see them go. Thom, Brittany and kids could stay until the next morning (Sunday), Chris actually also had to leave Sunday for a conference for a week and so we were all extra glad that Grandma Dixie could stay a few days more until Tuesday afternoon.  I really hadn't planned out any meals or activities for the weekend since I was so focused on the baptism so that brought a little extra last minute stress on but I would gladly take that stress in exchange for time with family.  Also, our plumbing really started acting up over the course of the weekend and by the time Chris, Thom and Brittany left, we only had 1 working toilet in the house and no showers or baths. Apparently a brick had gotten jammed up against a pipe, blocking it from being able to release its contents into the septic tank. Luckily, it was a simple (read: INEXPENSIVE) fix and by Monday night, things were running smoothly again. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Everyday moments

I love these sweet cheeks and kiss them maybe a hundred times a day. I will never grow tired of watching my sleeping children. I know my days with Gwen at home are growing short. She'll be in all day kindergarten next year and I know I will miss some of my quiet-house moments with her. I particularly love my walk to the bus stop with her. Frederick is often still sleeping in the house so just Gwen when I will run up our driveway and down the street a bit to meet the bus. "Time to go get the brothers!" We play 'I Spy' or 'Simon Says' or have a rock throwing competition in which she gets to stand 20 feet in front of me or some such rule until she consistently wins by throwing the rocks farther than I can. :)  

Sometimes Freddy is awake for the bus-pick up and he LOVES to run on the street. I totally wouldn't mind since our street is NOT busy and theirs good visibility but this little boy will fall on his face. EVERY. TIME. He rums faster than he can keep up with.  The boys still scream "Can I hold Freddy?!" the second their foot touches the ground from stepping off the bus. 

Frederick sometimes "talks" on a play phone by holding it behind his head and walking around.  Pretty much any game he plays involves walking or running around. This kid loves to move.

The favorite toys are called "Straws and spikey=bombs" and are SUCH a favorite with the kids and provide hours of entertainment...but they leave SUCH a mess! These toys are on two lists:  the "you-have-to-ask-mommy-before-you-play-with-these" list and the "Stored-in-a-hidden-location-so-the-kids-don't-see-them-and-ask-to-play-with-them" list.  But they are pretty fun. The kids love to make houses, bridges, umbrellas, etc and almost always insist on taking multiple pictures of their creations. 

These boys love their little brother and Charlie, in particular, is quite put out that Frederick no longer likes to be 'held.' The one except to this is when he drinks his milk. He still likes to be cuddled then.  The last pictures are from New Years Eve. Charlie asked to feed Frederick and I was busy with other things and for a few minutes forgot I had left the two downstairs. Frederick had fallen asleep and Charlie tucked him in a blanket on top, pillows all around so he wouldn't roll off the bed, and his new bear Fritz nestled under one of Freddy's arms.