Monday, December 21, 2009

Jack's Seven!

Jackson turned 7 years old on December 17th. We celebrated with family the weekend before his birthday and his friend party the day before his birthday.

Future golfer or snowmobiler, not sure which yet....

That's one big birthday sundae!!!
I'm not sure why I agreed to go to Chuck E. Cheese with five boys, but it didn't turn out as bad as I thought it was going to be. They all had a lot of fun and the place was practically empty while we were there. They went through all their tokens way before we were done, but they managed to entertain themselves. On his actual birthday he lost another tooth. There was a lot of whining until it came out and then he completely focused on the tooth fairy coming that night - kind of a cool way to celebrate.
All his friends- Drew, Jeremiah, Jase and Clayton

Family Pictures

We had our family pictures taken for the Orchard Hill Church directory. The end result turned out much better than I had expected. It will be our last picture before we add another block baby. The kids did relatively well considering the difficulty that we always face in getting all the kids to smile at the same time.  I can't imagine what it will be like the next time we do this!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Cards and Christmas Trees

I tried to get a good picture of the kids for the annual Christmas card and as usual, it proved to be next to impossible. The kids were a mixture of laughing, talking and smiling. It's an authentic Block picture to be sure. The end result was the first picture, coupled with a smaller picture of Brad and I on our cruise. Brad said it's his favorite card so far.

You can see the baby bump now

We went to get a tree from Kris Kringle's Christmas Tree Farm the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We always try to go that weekend and I am glad we did, it wasn't near as cold as it is now. The first tree we were about ready to cut down (that I liked the best) had another tree growing up right next to the stump and it had a nest in the branches, so we got the second best one we could find.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Flip House Update #1

While we were on our cruise, we had someone come in and finish the drywall, mud, tape and texture the walls and ceiling. It was so nice to come home and have that done. We then primed and painted all the walls and have since completed almost all of the trim, installed the wood floors, installed all bathroom fixtures, tiled the bathroom floor,installed all the lighting, assembled kitchen cabinets etc. These pictures show some of the progress. We do have it listed by owner right now and have had some bites on it.  Keeping our fingers crossed that the right person will come along and it will work for them. By the end of the weekend, we should have the bathroom completly done, all the trim with final painting done, the cabinets all hung in the kitchen and possibly have the carpet installed. Again, keeping fingers crossed for that too...
Not too exciting to see fresh concrete, but this was a major step of progress in getting the house ready. We paved the garage and the sidewalk, we will gravel the driveway prior to selling.
Another major step was getting all the lighting in, this is the kitchen and dining room area. Our mascot, Buz, taking it easy on the blanket.

Brad starting on the kitchen floor. We found the best flooring (I am totally taking credit for it) and it looks great!
The after picture, it needs to be cleaned, but you get the idea.
We used the same flooring in the entryway and the hallway out to the garage, the living room and other hallway will be carpeted.

The before and after for the bathroom flooring. It has a whirlpool tub which I would like to try out at least once...
Random picture of the work table in the living room, soon this will all be put away.

I had the task of assembling all the kitchen cabinets. Truthfully, I was glad to be able to help in a significant way. It seems like 99% of this house stuff has fallen on Brad's shoulders. It's very hard for me to find time to get over to help at the house with all the kids and their schedules to manage. So, when I volunteered to do the cabinets, it wasn't such a bad thing. It did take me all day, but it's not like it's something I have to do everyday. The kids did wonderful with not getting into all the pieces. As soon as we have them hung, I will post a pic of the finished product. And although I was happy to help, I don't think I want to go into a career in cabinet assembly.

The Rest of Fall

Once again proving my inability to maintain my blog, I have to lump everything together in one post to get back on track. I really think if I could lose my addiction to Bejeweled, I would have time to work on this blog? (I guess that's just the competitive nature in me, wanting to be at the top of the "leader board".)  So, here we are, with my last post in mid-October and it's already into December with snow on the ground. You might think we just had nothing going on, but indeed we did, so maybe I can use that as an excuse that I was just soooo busy, but then we are back to the bejeweled thing... a vicious circle!

We celebrated a Halloween party with the Miller's and got all dressed up, it was in a way the dress rehearsal for Halloween which Brad and I missed. Glad we got to do it though and get some pictures of the kids.

Brad and I went on a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean at the end of October. We left on the 30th and returned a week later. Flying into Miami, we stayed there for a night and then took off on our cruise Saturday, October 31st. We had a great time and slept a lot. I think we were both so tired from everything that has happened in the last 18 months that we were worn out. Brad had a little motion sickness, but I was fine. Everyone kept asking how I was feeling, thinking I would have issues being pregnant, but it didn't bother me at all. Our favorite stop was in Grand Turks. The water was gorgeous, the weather was beautiful and we had the most fun on our Catamaran Sailing and Snorkeling expedition. I wish we would have stopped there first, but then the rest might have been a disappointment? At any rate, it was nice to get away and get rested. I figure it's the first time since we have had children that we have spent that much time together alone. I think next time we do something, we will pick a resort and just stay in one place, but now I can say I have been on a cruise.

The first day on the ship, Carnival Liberty

We rented a scooter when we arrived in the Bahamas. It was a Sunday and most of the shops were closed in the morning. We were able to drive all around the island and even went to Atlantis. It was a lot of fun and turned out to be the best place to rent one.

A view of the ship from a lookout in St. Thomas

On the catamaran in Grand Turks. My first time snorkeling and it was a little difficult to get used to. Once I got the hang of it though, it was pretty spectacular. The area we were at was next to a drop of over 8000 feet in the ocean floor. Brad managed to dive down and get a shell for me, no idea what it's called, but it's the one genuine souvenier I have from our trip that I liked the most.

A few days after we returned, we had our ultrasound to find out we were having a baby GIRL! Honestly, Brad or I did not mind either way. As you might imagine, the girls wanted a girl and the boys wanted a boy. We had all the kids with us in the room when we found out. That was a handful, they all wanted to watch the screen at the same time, but it worked out okay. As I was laying on the table, Anderson looked at me and said, "Mom, you doing okay?" It was so funny and sweet. I remember they all were pretty freaked out last time they saw me in the hospital after my back surgery, but they did well at this appointment. Now we need to think of names. I am welcome to any suggestions, but I have a few requirements, no common names, no names that start with "B", no names that are food, plants, or seasons, no unisex names - that sounds easy enough, right?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This year I am the assistant soccer coach for Hailey's team and the head/asst for Jackson's team. We are almost done playing with just two games left to play. Interestingly, Jackson is pretty good at soccer but prefers football. They have won a couple and lost a couple, but I can see real promise in him as a player. Hailey is doing okay, but wants to play goalie all the time. This wouldn't be a problem if she weren't afraid of the ball - kind of an issue if you are goalie. We are working on it with her and she is doing better. She is just so tiny and seeing her in the goal with a bunch of girls rushing at her just doesn't seem quite right?  It's fun helping both of them with their skills, but I have to say I will have no problem letting others take over this spring. Hopefully this spring will be much warmer than it has been the last few weeks. I can do without playing in the rain and snow - ugh!


Jackson' team - Tom Boe is the CF Coaching Director and he helps with practices. We only have six players which makes for a tough game when you play 4x4. The boys get pretty worn out, especially since most of them have played flag football in the morning and come straight to their soccer game. We even have one on our team that says straight out he doesn't really like to score goals - really?!

Hailey's team - Rick Hulstein (Dara's dad) is the head coach. He does a fabulous job. He pitched in last spring after my back surgery to coach for me. He has a great talent for coaching and I am so thankful Hailey has him as a coach. We have ten girls on our team and play 6x6. I had four girls on the team last year, but the dynamic has totally changed with the move to U10 and adding other players.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Note to Jack

Yesterday I was cleaning up the boys' room and rearranging all the furniture etc. I found this folded up note on the floor.

It was so sweet. I have no idea when it was written, my guess would be last weekend or the weekend before. The kids play really well together and they get along for the most part. That is one of the things I am most proud of as a parent. I can remember fighting with my sister and brother constantly. I have no idea when this will change, I wish I could bottle it up and keep it forever.
One of the things I think has come out of our situation is that the kids have no other choice than to be close. Our old home was pretty small and now, living with grandma and grandpa, things are extraordinarily tight. Fortunately, the kids don't know any different. They haven't gotten possesive over their own space or things and they share often. I love to listen to them play, scheme and talk to each other. I hope they will always be this close, but I know that's not likely to be the case. I am going to keep the note, evidence that at one time, their idea of fun was playing together.

Picture Season

I think one of the most expensive things about back to school is the amount of money I have to shell out for pictures. We have school pictures for all the kids, soccer pictures for Hailey and Jackson, gymnastic pictures for Hailey and Annaliese and football pictures for Jackson. I can't imagine how much this is going to cost once all of them are in school! But, I am a sucker for pictures, so I pay up and grin from ear to ear when they come back. And I love those buttons you can get - what's another $10 anyway? We still don't have Jack's football or soccer ones back yet, but here are some of this season's pictures.

Jackson is in 1st grade this year. Kind of a stiff smile, but it works. Hailey is in 3rd grade. This year she showed some teeth, love her smile.

When we showed up for the gymnastics pictures, the girls had to do theirs individually and then with their teams. She asked if I wanted the girls together and I was going to say no, but then I figured why not. I am bummed I didn't get a wallet of this one, it turned out adorable. Hailey's soccer picture, U10 this year, the ball is bigger than her head!
When I get Jackson's pictures in, I will post those as well. He wanted to make sure we got a button for Brad of his soccer picture. Nice to know they appreciate those too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flip House

Shortly after the flood, we purchased a property near our home. Actually, the back yard of this house runs up against the back of ours. The owners received a settlement and wanted out of the house. It was an opportunity that we couldn't pass up. So, as if we didn't have enough to do with our own home, we are now also working on what we call the "flip house". It is a cute little house, or at least it will be. At about 1200 square feet and three bedrooms when completed, it will be a nice home. We gutted the whole thing. The first few pictures are of what it looked like when we bought it.

Original front of the house.

The first picture is looking from the front entrance to the rear entrance. Second is the gutted kitchen. Third picture is the living room, complete with faux brick, love it!

Brad looking out from the living room. And the rear of the house.

Brad says the house was cobbled up worse than ours was. He has spent and incredible amount of time just trying to get the floors in, replacing floor joists, gutting the house, reinforcing all the floors and redoing what was previously done so poorly. Now that most of the floors are in, he has started framing up the house. We completely redesigned the floor plan to make it more open, moving the stairs, rearranging the bedrooms and opening up the kitchen, dining and living room areas.

While we have been working on this house, we have been looking for things for our new home as well and we have come across some great deals for this house. Basically, we are working on a very small budget so everything that we can do to help with that, we are doing.
Brad has a knack for finding these awesome deals. Our favorite store is the Lowe's in Ames. I have made some trips there just to get things for this house and ours. I never knew I would get so excited about bathroom fixtures.

Choosing to do this house means that we will be able to have the house that we want for ourselves. All the profit will roll into the other house when we sell this house. At times it seems like this might not have been the best idea, after all, Brad spends most nights over there and the whole weekend. This leaves me as a single parent most of the times and I know it's not going to get better anytime soon. I wish I could help with the house more, but having all these kiddos running around is a full time job!

(I wrote the previous in February but never posted. This is where we are at now.)

This is the house before we were finished with the garage doors or the siding. No landscaping yet either.

Finally, all the outside is done, even the lighting and landscaping. The mound of dirt has been moved into the garage to fill up that spot in the basement. Need to take a new pic to post that shows the difference.

From the backyard. We actually changed the porches to match and fenced in the backyard. More pics to come on that one too. Side view on the right.

So, where are we at now? We passed our first electric inspection so that part is all done now. We are getting ready to start the plumbing and then by late next week or shortly thereafter we should be onto the drywall. From there, I think it will go pretty quickly. I will be able to help a lot more and then I predict a lot of long days and late nights. As soon as we are done with the flip house, we will start on ours and yes, I can not wait for that! More pics and details to come as we get this thing finished!