Friday, April 10, 2015

State football practice

We were given the opportunity to watch the Mississippi State Football team practice! It was an event opened to all faculty and their families so Chris signed us up. We were given special badges and cookies and juice to start things off. There was SUPER loud music playing the whole time in the background with beeps or messages every now and then to signal some kind of change for the practice. There were SO MANY players and coaches with clipboards and support staff. We could tell that each practice required massive amounts of logistics. It brought me back to my highschool days, being a trainer/watergirl for my high school football team, but on a much larger scale. And by large, I mean gigantic! These football players are HUGE! I thought Chris was big, but he looks on the smaller side of average compared to many of the football players. When we were given a tour of the locker room, we found a pair of shoes that were actually bigger than Chris'. I didn't think that was possible. :)  

Easter and General Conference

During the Holy Week before Easter we tried to talk about Jesus more and I did a 7 day Testimony of Jesus Challenge were I studied specific aspects of Jesus life and role and journal ed experiences where my testimony of that aspect was strengthened. I didn't quite get to it every day but I had some good moments and I love the opportunity to really think about Christ. I should do it more often since I love how I feel when I feel close and connected to Him. Because of Him, really, truly all things are possible and joy, happiness and peace exist in my life.  Because He Lives, I love life. 

On Good Friday our Branch put on a musical fireside. I made the program (with some major printing issues and a pretty bad typo!) but managed to get there a little early still. The choir sang a bunch of numbers, I had a solo, "I Heard Him Come", the primary children sang some songs, Chris and I sang a duet "Were You There" and a YW sang a solo, and then we had a trumpet trio. Our choir director teaches trumpet at MSU and he got 2 of his students to accompany us on all but 1 of the choir numbers, and another YW played the flute. Our Branch President's wife played the piano or organ for every number (except Chris and my duet which was a cappella). We had potluck refreshments afterward. It was a nice evening, but I wish more people would've come. 

Easter Baskets in the morning. Hello sleepy-eyes. :) 

General Conference Weekend means no early-Sunday-morning meetings! 

We did our traditional Conference Cash and the kids could earn some treats by taking notes in their blank books. Let the record show that this picture was actually taken during the Music and the Spoken word. Chris did NOT sleep through conference this year. He listened, took notes and then made a completely scrumptious Easter Dinner Feast while I may have drifted off during the last talk. 

In between the sessions we did our Easter Egg Roll! My mom did this as a kid and I did it as a kid so we continue the tradition with much enjoyment. 

Frederick won!! Some sad siblings may have erased our bracket on the white board in an attempt to destroy the evidence. This makes Freddy the two-time defending champion and means he's held the title for his entire life. 

After dinner we had planned on doing an Easter Egg hunt, but ended up doing some service for one of our friends and took a family drive to pick her up from Lousiville to bring her home to Starkville. By the time we got home it was too late and kids were ready for bed. So we did our egg hunt the next morning before school. Both Chris and my phones were full and so we took pictures with the video camera but I haven't transferred the files to the computer yet. :) 

Spring accomplishments

Frederick has successfully cut in 4 molars and got his last rounds of immunizations until Kindergarten Boosters! Yay! Unfortunately this means the past few weeks have been full of crying, runny noses, coughs and crankiness. On one occasion when the poor boy was so miserable Chris held him until he fell asleep. He is such a patient and tenderhearted father.  Some of his worst moments happened at during the Soccer jamboree. It was also Conference Weekend, and we had pictures for Charlie at 10:45, a game at 12, then pictures for Alec and Chris at 12:30 and then a game at 1, then Alec had another game at 4 and Charlie another at 5. I love watching my kids play sports and my husband coach, but it sure is difficult to manage it all from the sidelines sometimes. Keeping Frederick happy within a 3 sq foot radius is tricky..especially when he's not feeling well to begin with. I had to walk around and hold him while he cried himself to sleep. I wish we lived closer to family where they could help us juggle it all.  

Also Freddy successfully sits still for a few minutes at the library! 

Gwen has mastered the game of Uno and plays it about a hundred times a day. I play some games with her, but I reach my limit way before she does. So she continues to play against made up opponents like Sachi. Somehow, Gwen always manages to win...apparently Sachi always forgets to say Uno when she has one card left, and Gwen never misses a chance to call her on it. :) Also Sachi, unknowingly, often changes the color to whatever Gwen's last card is for her. 

Also, Gwen earned a little date with mommy and we went to watch our friends in the Jr. High production of The Little Mermaid. Gwen got to stay up late past her bedtime to do this and almost every 10 minutes would ask me how much past her bedtime it was. Also, she took a bath and tried on at least 2 different outfits so she looked just right for her date. She's adorable. 

Charlie started playing Coach-Pitch baseball! He's so brave and willing to try new things, I love that about him. He is a good player and catches on quick. They do the 3 strikes and your out rule, but Charlie has always managed to get a hit and make it at least to first base. There are so many rules though! During his first game, as an outfielder, he was able to get the ball a lot but didn't quite know what to do with it when he got it. I was wanting to shout out and tell him where to throw it, but I confess I had no idea myself! We did a special Family Home Evening lesson the next Monday and used army guys to explain the rules of baseball. Alec, Charlie and Gwen paid attention so well, it would be nice if they wanted to learn about prayer or charity with that much focus! 

Charlie also has one more week of soccer before the end of that season. He's a good defender and team player -- he doesn't take the ball from his own teammates and doesn't always run straight to the ball but instead positions himself between it and the goal he's guarding.  Charlie also got Student of the Month a month or so ago, but I never got a chance to get a picture of him with his ribbon or in his Fantastic Kid t-shirt. He looked great in it. :)

Alec finished Soccer! Some of the moms on the team ordered trophies for the kids! Alec is very proud. He made some beautiful goals the past few games, so I hear. I was at Charlie's games and missed them but Chris described them to me in great detail. Alec is quite talented and is a great defensive player with good instincts and positioning and a powerful kick. 

Also, Alec got Student of the Month and touched a frog in our backyard! He's a great studentNormally, we're all pretty skiddish around bugs and animals and what not, so this is a pretty good accomplishment. He almost picked it up before it hopped away and scared us all. :) 

I finished my quilt from last year! Well, I still have to do the back and get it quilted and then bind it, but seeing the top all sewn together inspires me to keep quilting! I love how it looks and each square reminds me of where I was when I worked on it. The big flowers in the corners I did when Chris was in the Tupelo hospital for his chemo rounds before the stem cell transplant, and the red stars, I did in Nashville when he was getting his stem cell transplant. Also I changed the pattern a bit and did a tree by the house instead of a big flower because I wanted it to remind me of the big trees here in Mississippi by our first house we bought.

Chris accomplished a lot this year as coach! His team made so much improvement since last Fall. The boys listen to Chris, and pay more attention to the game and try to pass more, and are quick to throw in "down the line" and stand "goal side" of the other players they're defending.  Not only have they improved in soccer skills but they all seem to be good friends and trust Chris. The parents have been super kind and supportive. Chris really did a great job. 

Also, Chris and I have made lots of decisions! We've decided on carpet, paint, tile, linoleum, knobs, cabinets, garage door, and electrical fixtures (actually we delegated that decision to Joe... he really is so great). I think the last thing is toilets and exterior paint color. I forgot to take a picture of our three interior paint sample swatches until after they got prime-ed over. oops!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exterior work, trimming inside

The brick masons came! It was finally dry enough for a few days to work on the outside. The way they set up their work reminded me of a pizza factory with round platters of mortar every few feet and stacks of brick in between. They would walk backwards as they laid the next row of brick - spread a layer of mortar a few feet across, dab some mortar on a brick, sandwich it down, wipe off excess, grab another brick and repeat.  They stayed late enough each day so that the boys could watch them for a bit when they got home from school. 

After trying out how Shakes looked on the front dormer, we X-nay-ed that idea and just put up some diagonal batons. I like it. We still need to decide on paint. 

They've trimmed in the windows and floor and doors and everything inside. Its getting so close!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Getting into the details

The renovation continues to move along. If I allow myself to complain I can get really tired of all the mud, the dirt, the chaos, and smoke tracked into the house with workers, never knowing if a worker will walk through the door at any time, always having to remember to wear clothes around the house, parking at the top of the long driveway so workers and deliveries can get close, the constant hum of air compressors, nail guns and hammers, having our three older children share 1 bedroom that also doubles as linen closet, Freddy's closet and storage room. But when I look past that and think about how spacious our house will be when its all finished I feel bad for being annoyed and realize how lucky we are to be able to renovate and own such a wonderful home. 

Here are two pictures of the kids bedroom right now.  They've actually done really good about sharing a room. The only hard time is bedtime or clean up time when they just get so distracted teasing, hitting, or playing with each other. Also it's rough in the morning. When one gets up, they all get up whether it be 5:15 or 7:00. 

The workers have all been really nice and I've mostly enjoyed interacting with all of them (the cement crew was sort of intimidating and one of the electricians doesn't have the most pleasing manners). I try to get to know all their names but mostly I can just remember the current ones: Jonathan, Chris, Morgan, Ross, Shane, Austin. This week they have mudded (is that a word?) the drywall, textured the ceiling, and started putting up the exterior. We're having to make more decisions like type of cabinets and tile in the bathroom, type of style for the exterior, type of texture on the ceilings, where exactly to have the doors open, what kind of style for the built-in storage spaces, flooring for the laundry/mud room etc. I'm super glad for our contractor Joe for organizing everything, helping me stay in budget and narrowing down the options for me. He's very easy to talk to and always seem so calm and unruffled no matter how many crazy ideas I give him. I'm also super glad to have someone else being the boss of the workers, and just one guy to go to with all of the problems that come up: some electrical circuits not working, flooding by the septic tank outback, crooked doors, wrongly-followed plans, cracked floors, leaky roofs etc. 

What we are currently trying to figure out is the exterior style and paint. We're limited with the simplicity and total brick-ness of the current building and trying to pick styles and colors that will work with it...(keeping in mind that we can't find a perfect match for the brick...the original brick yard is no longer in service). Its hard for the new structure to not feel completely out of place. The Tudor style seems to work well with lots of brick and I like how that style looks, it makes me think of Europe and I feel it seems really classic, never-out-of-date to me. But Chris, thinks the white stucco look with the dark brown batons looks cheap, run-down and 70's. We're trying to explore some reverse-tudor options where the batons are lighter than the background. This is really hard to figure out! anyone able to help?? ideas??

Eventually we'll be able to add some more interest and bring the Tudor style to the left side of the house when we change the front door and add a porch. I think that will balance out the new structure we've added on the right side. 

The view from the Front of the house, which is actually the side, but again when we move the front door to be on this side of the house it will become the official front side. 

The side of the house that is currently the official front with the front door on the right. No one ever sees this side except our neighbors as they drive past this to get to their driveway. I never even see it from this angle unless I'm walking around our yard. 

The back of the house: 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday night Pizza and....Tennis night!

Instead of watching a movie with our pizza, we decided to take our two boxes of Little Caesars to the Mississippi State tennis match.  The kids enjoyed watching and cheering and seeing how hard/fast the players can hit the ball. Alec could've stayed there all night (so fun to see him appreciate sports!) But the rest of the kids... especially Freddy were stir crazy as soon as they finished their pizza. So we left after the doubles matches. It feels good to get out of the house together. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring break: Texas and Sispy

We decided to go to Texas for the first weekend of Spring Break. I don't know that I would've felt up the to trip if we hadn't had snow days the week before. Working in the Stake Young Women's presidency requires a lot of long traveling and so some weekends seem like they hardly exist for me. 

We drove down Friday morning and got in town for pizza at Brittany's parents. Then we stayed up until way too late talking with Thom and Brittany. Its not our fault, they are the ones that are so fun to talk to. :) 

The next day was Saturday and Brittany and I went for a run then let the Dads go golfing.  They went to a nearby Jack Nicklaus course but were disappointed at not seeing Jack there. At night, we got babysitters so the adults could all go to an FC Dallas soccer game with Brittany's siblings. It was fun to get out and Chris and I are both continually blown away by how BIG the Dallas, McKinney area is. There are so many stores and businesses. I guess we're getting used to small town living in Mississippi. 

Brittany didn't feel well and was kinda quiet during the game and Chris was so interested in the game he didn't talk much either. This was his first time to be so close to professional soccer (8 rows back right behind the goal) he was fascinated.  I really enjoyed watching the game and it was scoreless for most of it, then Dallas got an awesome goal a few minutes from the end. Super exciting. 

Sunday was church (3-6pm!) and chilling at home. Such a relaxing morning! The timing of church and dinner and bedtime made for some grumpy kids but we managed and enjoyed more talk time after bedtime. Monday, Brittany and I went window shopping downtown and got hot chocolate and manicures then we all went to a fun indoor rec center pool and swam with the kiddos until bedtime. 

Tuesday morning we left for home. It was a short trip but fun to get away as a family. We stopped in Shreavport, LA on the way home to visit with my cousin Anthony and his cute family for a couple of hours. Hurray for family kinda close!

Wednesday we did more unpacking and packing again. Chris was packing for a backpacking trip he was taking with the young men/scouts from church. Meanwhile, I got in the car and drove another 6 hours for a Young Women event up on the other side of our Stake. When I got back it was late, we were tired but still tried to finish getting Chris packed. I was tired and laid in bed and he came into our room so we could still talk and accidentally spilled propane (from the camp stove) all over our bed!  Ugh. He cleaned it up pretty good and got to sleep way after me. What a guy. I'm sure he wasn't anticipating starting his 3 day backpacking trip with little sleep. 

The whole 3 days they were gone, it POURED here in Starkville.  I worried for him and texted him every couple of hours during the day even though he had no reception. But when he came home Saturday afternoon, he said they only had a little rain up in Sispy, Alabama. 

I'll let him recap more from his camping trip, himself. Don't forget pictures, Chris!

The kids and I survived and tried to do fun things together. We watched movies and ate simple meals. For a fun treat, I made slightly sweetened pizza dough and cream cheese and let the kids design their own fruit pizzas.