Thursday, December 29, 2011

What to Read?

My amazing sister, Michelle, and brother-in-law, Dustin, bought me a Kindle for Christmas. I love, love, love books! I have a gazillion books - yes that's an actual word, well for me anyway. Just ask Brad, he's had to move them from house to house and even in a boat after the flood. My dilemma is that I have soooo many books and I love to read them. I'm often reading several at a time. But now, I have this Kindle. So, what do I read? I need some input on the best way to use mine?
I have downloaded a lot of free things so far. I have some books, fiction and non-fiction. And I did some word games, that the kids and I are all enjoying. But how do you decide what to read? What tools work best for you on the kindle? I am overwhelmed by the whole notes and highlighting thing. I read that you can transfer things from your email to your kindle. Does anyone know of any other cool tools or tricks? I am excited about the fact that you can save where you're at and go back to it later. I also like that there are endless possibilities for books to download, but where to start?! Hmmm, oh the choices!!!
~ Misty

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011

It's finally about over, this year that is. As optimistic as I was about the new year at the beginning, it turned out to be a bear. Granted, some good things happened, but generally, it's a year I will be happy to put behind me. Instead of focusing on all that was difficult or didn't go as I had planned, I'm going to try to leave that behind and look ahead. This picture was taken Christmas day.
I am most thankful for my family and that everyone is healthy. 

I have a friend that says it's cliche to have a resolution that starts on New Year's Day, so I'll start now. Well, I'll start thinking about things now. Overall, I'm ready to move into the red albatross. I'm ready to have my own space. I'm sure everyone else is ready too. I'm ready to have someone ask me if we are in our house yet? and actually say yes! We are in the drywall phase right now. We've actually hired someone to come and start the mudding and taping next week. I do think it will go quicker then. Most of the first floor has the drywall hung and we're hoping to finish that up by the end of the weekend with inspection on Tuesday.

There are several personal goals I've set for myself. I'm reluctant to call them a resolution, just things I really want to change. Among them, be healthier, drop those last few piper pounds, lower my overall stress level, be more consistent in my parenting and relationships. There are some fun ones too. I would like to do the 52 new recipes in 2012, run a 5k (or more?) focus on my writing, do more with this blog....

Any new goals or resolutions for you? If you would like to read some perspective that a friend shared, check out this blog, I did and it helped a lot as I was thinking about how I could make this year great - 30 things

~ Misty

Piper's Kitchen

I finished Piper's kitchen just in time for Christmas. It has been, by far, the gift I have been most excited to give. I don't think I would have attempted it if it weren't for Brad's help. He was able to cut the holes for the sink for me and help attach all the hardware. But, in the end it was my project, so I'm taking the rest of the credit.
I totalled up my cost in the project and my best estimate was around $50 or so. That includes the actual cabinet, wood for the back, all the hardware, paint and fabric. The two most expensive things were the unit (15) and the faucet (20) which actually is a laundry faucet that works if it's hooked up to water. Brad asked if I wanted him to plumb her room for the sink? That was a very quick NO! Can you imagine the disaster that would cause?!
The first picture is her the day after Christmas with her kitchen before I moved it into the actual kitchen. Still a mess from Christmas, you can see that she's a little on the short side yet. She has been using the potty for a step stool, rest assured, she doesn't actually pee in the potty yet...
I put hooks on the right side of the kitchen to hang her apron and pot holders. And on the left side, I painted a picture frame and added "Piper's Kitchen" to the top of it. However, when I tried to glue on the metal for the magnet board, it messed up the side of the frame. I still haven't fixed it yet, but when I do, I will attach it to the side so she can put her letter magnets on it and maybe her shopping list :)

So, it's finally done and I can quit obsessing over it. The good news is that Piper loves it, plays with it all the time and the other kids do too. I wish I would have seen this idea when Hailey was little. Maybe someday if I have a niece, she can use it when Piper's done with it.

~ Misty

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas is Coming

It's true, Christmas is coming. So, we needed a tree. Last year, we waited too long and had to get one of the last two trees that was left at Earl May. Usually, we go cut ours down from the Kris Kringle tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. We made it there this year, just a couple weekends off. All the boys had their hand at cutting it down. Starting with Jackson while Anderson threw a fit because he thought he wouldn't get a turn. And Brad finishing it off. He has a hat on this year, so no funny head shots.

 The girls and I watched while they did the dirty work. Piper wasn't too thrilled with the whole snow suit thing, but it was sooo cold! She looked like a stuffed marshmallow waddling around.

 Last week, I decided it was time for a change, so I had my hair done darker and shorter. It's a bit of a drastic change, but I think it works. The lighting is hard in this picture to tell how dark and red it is, kind of like red wine. We took a bunch of other shots that actually turned out better, but I liked this one. Piper was trying to get in on the action and was very upset that she wasn't in the picture. So, there ya go Pipe! And in the background you can see the tree decorated by the Block kids. No shortage of tinsel there.
~ Misty

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pinterest Addicted!

The first step is to admit you have a problem. Yes, I have a problem - PINTEREST! Where have you been all my life?! Like so many others, I have fallen victim to the allure of crafting, baking and new style ideas that dominate pinterest. Seriously, I have no time for facebook now. I spend way too much time on pinterest and I'm sad to admit, I think Hailey is addicted as well? She is always asking to go on and find new craft ideas. On the upside, I have gotten a ton of new ideas and my kids and family are benefiting from it. I made the headband holder below for the girls. Super easy and turned out way cute, you can use the inside of the container to hold other hair things as well.
I'm also not the only one that wishes she could sew better after being on pinterest. So, that's next on my list, brushing up on my sewing skills. While on the site a few weeks ago, I found the absolute cutest idea for a little play kitchen. This is the inspiration for the kitchen. But, I 've taken it a step further, cut off the ledge on the back, removed the cardboard and added a 48" high solid back with a shelf. Here are a couple before pictures.

The whole thing is going to be painted pink. I was in the process of sanding and started to prime it all when Brad tells me that I shouldn't use spray paint. He gave a list of reasons why etc. etc. As it turns out, one of his clients offered to primer and spray it in his paint booth. I can't wait to see how it turns out. I am making the curtain out of the same fabric I used to cover her chandelier.
A few other details on the kitchen, the knobs for the stove were free from an appliance store and I got the "sink" for .75 from a thrift store. Brad says I should put a Viking emblem on the oven. I'm still researching that idea, but how cute would that be?! There will be a magnet board on one side and hooks to hang her apron and potholders on the other side. I am so excited for this to be done and able to give it to Piper for Christmas. Stay tuned for the finished product!
I have tried quite a few other things from pinterest. We did the pumpkin muffins for school a couple of times, super easy and tasty too. I bought the ikea shelves to do this project, just need to paint them - you guessed it - pink!  I'm making my sister's cards into a book, about half way done with that. Who knew she had so many cards?  
 If you haven't done so already, you should check it out.  
But don't blame me if you have no more free time...
~ Misty

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another House Update

You know you're slacking as a blogger when your husband even asks for you to update it! I admit, it's been a while. Perhaps I'm only meant to be a quarterly update blogger? At any rate, lots of stuff happening at the house. Still making progress, but very slowly.  Here's a few of the inside, as requested by Brad.
Insulation is done in the house with the exception of the part above the porch which will be blown in this weekend. This is the kitchen. Brad actually finished drywalling everything in the kitchen last night, but this is the only picture I have so far. The black paper and wire on the island is prep for the stone.

 Fireplace with prep started for the stone.
Drywall was first started on the ceiling of the boys' room. The ceiling is now completed, but haven't gotten to the walls yet. The little space to the left is their hideout area.

I can't remember if I had posted a picture of Brad's "Man Cave" or not? This is the room above the garage. It won't be completed until after we are in the house. For right now, it's storage for all our things. I've started bringing totes of stuff over to help when we actually do move in.

Finally, an updated picture of the outside of the house. It looks like the sidewalk will have to wait until spring. But, at least we can drive and walk easier on the driveway.
I had hoped we would be in before Christmas, but I'm not convinced that will happen. We are really behind in everything. It all takes soooo much longer than we anticipate. We both feel like we should be further along by now. Nights and weekends just aren't enough. I wish I was able to do more during the day, but having Piper and Anderson at home makes it difficult. Hopefully after the drywall is done, I can have them over during the day while I work.  Trying to get ready for the holidays just isn't the same when we're not in our house yet. Until then, I'm still thankful for a place to live, my house or not. 
~ Misty

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

House Update

This summer we worked constantly on the house. By "we" I mean everyone, even the kids. At this point, we have most of the electric done, but still have more to finish. We shifted gears and started to work on getting the outside done. We really need to get the soffit finished and the place closed up before it starts to get any colder. When you think about building a house, you generally don't think of all the little things that have to get done before you can see any "progress". But all those little things take a lot of time. Some of the progress you can see now is that we've started the stone work on the pillars and the chimney. The picture below is what it looks like before.
 This is the side entrance to the house on the driveway side, with the pillars done. We will wrap the posts so it will look like the front pillars.

After the pillars are done, but before the steps are finished.

And now you can see the chimney taking shape. The shakes are also up on the east side of the house. The are other areas we have worked on while they were doing the stone, like the west side of the house and a lot more painting of trim and shakes. 
We are still hoping to be in before Thanksgiving. But really, it's hard to say when we'll get in until the electric is done and the drywall is up. I think it should go pretty fast after that. Every time I go over to work on the house, it's harder to leave. Some days I just want to throw in an air mattress and rough it out. We could make it an "adventure". What do you think?!
~ Misty

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Rest of Summer

I truly thought I would do more blogging this summer. Apparently having five kids at home all day, everyday, makes it difficult to sit down at the computer and do this. After reviewing which pictures I wanted to use, I also discovered, I don't really have that many. I guess when I'm not taking a picture a day, it's easy to forget to grab the camera. In short, this summer was mainly about hanging out at the pool during the week and working on the house. The house took up a huge amount of time, so an update on that will follow this post. 

 We didn't do much sports wise for the kids this summer. I wasn't sure how much time I would have or how to manage schedules, so we kept it simple. Annaliese did t-ball, Hailey did track and both Hailey and Jackson did golfing again. Hailey met a friend, Nika, at golf. They hit it off really well and it made a huge difference for Hailey to have a friend to golf with. Next year they'll do intermediate and hopefully I will be able to make it to the course more to "practice" with them.
Piper has continued to GROW! She's walking now, finally, but still has her chunky little legs. This is one of my favorite pictures of her. I say, "Raise your hand if you're cute?!" and she raises it really high. Yes, she's definitely cute!
My brother, Ronnie, made it home from Afghanistan. We are so happy to have him home safe and sound!

We made it to the end of July and had the Westendorf family reunion. Hailey was on vacation with my sister and fiance, so she missed it. It was very hot and sticky, but we had a nice time with everyone. Annaliese is always up for a picture with a great smile.

Before I knew it, the kids were back to school. Starting school in the middle of August makes for a short summer. Hailey is in 5th grade, Jackson is 3rd grade and Annaliese is 1st grade. They all love their teachers. It's nice to have a regular schedule again.
I hosted Michelle's bridal shower at our house, in spite of it being a construction zone. Elke was the co-host and she was a huge help with everything. We tried to dress it up as much as possible. The deck was done, so we had everything except the food outside. I had a huge picture of Michelle and Dustin in a frame and everyone signed the mat around it. I think that was her favorite part. It was a great success, I just wish the house would have been done before the shower. All in good time.

Later that day, we had Anderson's birthday part at the house. I figured I had it all ready so why not? This was a neat picture of Jackson giving Anderson a baseball he had bought for him. He had the whole family sign it ahead of time, very thoughtful. Anderson is 5 now!

The very next weekend, Elke and I headed to Minneapolis for Michelle's Bachelorette party weekend. We had a lot of fun. I wish I would have taken more pictures. This was the first night before everyone arrived. Another one of Michelle's friends took most of the pictures. We did everything from Lawn Bowling to the Twins game. A great weekend!
Finally, Anderson started his second year of preschool. He has met some new friends and really likes his class. Even though he turned five before the deadline for preschool, I just couldn't see him being ready for it.  So, three days a week for 2.5 hours, it's just me and the Pipe! 
That's the summer wrap up. Hopefully, I will be better about blogging, but we know how that goes. I need to make it part of my weekly schedule. Of course, we're in full swing with fall sports and that brings it's own challenges for my weekly schedule. For now though, I'm trying to just enjoy the chaos~
~ Misty

Monday, June 20, 2011


The start of summer means I haven't really gotten into a schedule yet. Thus, the delay in posting anything lately. The kids are all out of school now. Summer is in full swing and it's been either very cold and rainy or very hot. Where's the happy medium?! Here's a little of what's been keeping us busy~

Anderson completed his first year of preschool. He made some great little friends. The picture of the four of them above, Sybil, Luke and Julia (twins) with Anderson between the two. I have so enjoyed seeing Anderson have his own friends. And even more than that, I have made two great friends out of the deal as well, Gretchen and Sarah, their mothers.  
We have been doing park play dates. Cedar Falls has quite a few nice parks. I  think there are even some that I've never been to, we'll fix that! 
Work on the house is never-ending. But, the garage is mostly done now. We still need to get a few windows in the upstairs, but it's so nice to have that additional space to work in.

Hailey discovered it was flag day. Her and the kids threw an impromptu Flag Day Parade. They made flags using paper, bamboo skewers and masking tape. They gave us all invitations to the parade and even provided seating (as noted on the invitation). It was all very cute. They are so creative! 

We just finished VBS. The theme this year was Super Heroes. The kids thoroughly enjoyed it.
They look pretty strong don't they?! 
We went golfing with Hailey and Jackson for Father's Day. Hailey wanted to wear matching shirts. We did it as a best shot and had a lot of fun. It's hard to beat golfing with the kids. After finishing golf, we picked up the other kids at home and went to the Brown Bottle for a late dinner.
 Brad said it was the best Father's Day ever. It's hard to argue with that. 

~ Misty

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Second Story

The second story went up yesterday. This is all they were able to finish before the rain started. I snapped it quick before I hustled all the kids home. They were a little frightened with the storms. Unfortunately, they called a rain day today so it's looking more like Friday before it will be done. The two open spots are where the dormers go. There will be two on the other side as well. I'm hoping the stairs get done sooner than later so we can start storing some things up there. I almost took a picture from the upstairs so you could see the view, but it was pouring this morning and there's currently no roof, so that will have to wait.
We chose to put this room above the garage because we had to fill in our basement. And looking at it now, if we were able to have a basement, I don't think we would have this room. This is our "basement" with a view!

~ Misty

Monday, May 23, 2011

May Update

I think I delay updating until I have something substantial to share. I/we do have a lot going on, but I keep thinking well, when this gets done, then I'll post. Or, when we finish this, I'll post. You know how it goes. So, this is an abbreviated update of the last couple weeks. And yes, I do have something big to share - literally BIG!!!
Foot Pedals!
I have been catching a lot of grief over these. But, I love them!!! I originally read about them in a Food Network Magazine. They were in Guy Fieri's home kitchen, I thought, "Those are awesome!" After some research online and talking to Brad, he agreed that they would work for the island sink. I absolutely love them! It's just another touch that makes our house unique.
I made this picture a little larger so you could see Piper's expression. She clearly doesn't like this cage/kennel as some call it. Technically, it's a "gate" but I bought it for the front steps. It makes into a kind of pen that also works to keep her contained. But, she's not a fan. 
Our yard is far from being landscaped. However, I did plant some flowers around our mailbox. At least we can have one little bright spot until we get everything else done.

I wrote about this on facebook, but didn't post here. The shakes have been a nightmare for me. We decided on one color and after I had painted a double coat on quite a few of them, we decided to put them up. Only to discover the coloring wasn't right. So, Brad picked another color. I double coated those and after putting them up, it's the right color. BUT! The ones that were already up have to be painted while I'm up on the ladder. That's a long way up! I was able to get these painted (on the left) but that was as far as I could get without moving the ladder. Round two should happen this coming weekend.

We received a playset from our good friends, the Dekoster's. We took it down and carted it to our house earlier this week. We plan to attach it to the current playset in the background. Eventually, it will all end up in our enclosed back yard. In the meantime it will be in the open part of the back yard. Thanks to John and Ange!

The garage is getting built! That's the big news! They think they will be done by Wednesday. I think the second floor goes up tomorrow. There will be a "man cave" above the garage. It will totally change the look of the house. I can't wait to see it all done!

~ Misty