Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Projects Part II

We have the curbs all in. The next step was to get some good dirt in the beds so that new little plants and trees would not struggle in the hard Texas clay. We had looked at buying topsoil in big bags from places like Lowe's or Home Depot. Logistically, this was looking cumbersome as we have such a large area to fill. We had seen some neighbors that had these huge yellow bags of topsoil sitting in their yards or driveways. After sending the kids on a reconnaissance trip to get the phone number off of one of these big yellow bags, we called to order one of our own.

This is a cool product if you need LOTS of good dirt. They brought the soil right to our house from a turf farm, and left it on a palette in the spot we indicated. Next came the loads and loads of wheelbarrowing. We convinced (read: paid) Corbin, Bowen, and Rex to work on this task.

Yes, that is Corbin standing inside the bag. It is HUGE!

Fill 'er Up

Now, let me tell you, I am giddy, GIDDY, with excitement. A blank canvas, all ready and waiting to go. Beautiful black dirt just begging to be planted. It is almost more than I can bear to leave the house and go to work instead of the nursery!

While the boys were busy on that part of the yard project, I was working on one of my own interior jobs. Our house is a great house. It has room for all of us. It is warm in the winter, cool in the summer. It is in a great location.

I HATE all the wood trim and cabinetry.

Our kitchen has some nice sturdy honey oak cabinets, as do the bathrooms. The entire house is trimmed in the same honey hue. I thought staining the cabinets might be the ticket, so I started with a project in the laundry room, a nice out of the way spot to experiment. I used gel stain, and worked on it mostly in our garage. Did I mention this started way back in March? The gel stain is nice in that it doesn't drip, but it takes LOTS of coats to get a nice even finish. Once I had on three coats (which all require at least 8 hours of drying time in between), I kind of left the cabinet doors sitting in the garage to languish.

In progress

Enter Theo's extended visit to Page. While he was away (as mentioned in Part I), I decided I needed to finally get those cupboard doors finished and re-hung. One more good coat of stain and a few turns of the drill later, they were back in place. I think they turned out pretty good. However, I learned that I do NOT want to have a kitchen with no cupboard doors for two months. I am still working on a plan B.


In the same family as this cabinet project lurked a cousin. Several months ago, Corbin's bedroom door was broken, and we knew we would have to replace it. It was just one of those minor projects that got pushed to the back burner. When I shopped for doors, I really didn't want to put in a flat door like he used to have, and I also knew that matching the stain would be tricky at best. (Besides, didn't we just establish that I don't want to stain again for at least the next 10 years.) This was just the motivation I needed to start the long and arduous process of changing out all the interior doors in the house AND painting all that lovely brown trim.

This is a before door with said trim

Corbin's new door with old knob painted silver

Door and shiny painted white trim

As I prepared to paint the trim, I decided that it was a little skimpy looking. I like the big wide stuff. I saw a really cool idea on Pinterest where you add a skinny strip of trim above the existing trim and paint the whole shebang white. Voila, it looks like the big wide stuff. It's a whole optical illusion thing. I need to get better pictures, but I think you get the idea. So far, I have done just this hallway and Corbin's door. There is some more painting in my future.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May Projects Part I

Theo has a two week break from school beginning on May 11th. Unfortunately, his break, does not coincide with the summer break our boys have. They don't get out for summer until Memorial Day weekend, May 24th. That means that for about 10 days, Theo had lots of time on his own while me and the boys were busily working and wrapping up the school year.

His first order of business was a long awaited trip to Arizona. Before leaving for Texas at this time last year, he had promised a group of his Page kids that he would be there to watch them run in the state track meet and to graduate. True to his word, he made the journey on his own first, to Phoenix, and then on to Page. We really missed him while he was gone, but he really needed the break.

When he got home, he was refreshed and ready to get to work on some things we had been talking about doing at our house in Texas.

Last summer was literally the hottest summer on record in most of the state, including the panhandle. it was HOT! I am thinking this year will be more of the same since we hit our first 100 degree day in April! Theo and I discussed it for a while and decided that since we would be unable to make trips to any body of water within a reasonable distance, we would get a pool for the kids. We purchased a great 18 foot above ground deal at the end of April, and promptly set it on the back porch awaiting set-up.

I guess one of the big things you have to do with these kind of pools is get the ground nice and level before set-up. We had determined the area of our yard where it would live, a patch of grass that was spotty at best, and kind of in the corner out of the way. After a lot more talk and discussion, we determined a sod cutter would be the best course of action for such an large footprint. Figuring we would have the equipment handy anyway, I talked Theo into expanding the plans to include the creation of some flowerbeds in our front yard, and maybe even a nice little bed for some new trees. No big.

Being the good natured guy that he is, he readily agreed, and the cutter was rented. Cutting, hauling, scraping, digging, sweating, and maybe even a little whining ensued. We got things all leveled and ready in the backyard first. As the pool went up, we focused on the front yard. More cutting hauling, and all that jazz followed.

Next came the discussion of how to border the newly created beds. We didn't want chintzy plastic lining. Pavers were a little pricey and are are hard to mow around. We settled on concrete. At first we thought we would rent one of those machines that just kind of poops out a nice perfect curb. That would be cool right? No luck finding one to rent. Theo, being the do-it-yourselfer that he is decided he could just do it himself! He created forms with the cheap plastic liners, got the wheelbarrow, the hose, about 20 bags of quickcrete, and went to town. That guy is a freaking work horse! Have I ever mentioned that?

Here are some of the pictures of the process. We are now awaiting delivery of some good topsoil to fill our new beds. The soil here is unbelievably hard clay stuff!

 Meanwhile, in the front...

More to come....

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Misguided Attempt

This week the boys had Monday off school since they didn't use up any of the built in snow days on the calendar. Theo would also be home since his spring semester had ended the Friday before. I was supposed to work, but had scheduled to take the afternoon off to enjoy some time with the family.

Backtracking a couple of weeks... There is a teacher at Corbin's school that takes a group of 8th graders on a trip to Washington DC over spring break. It is a lot of money. The kids work for a whole year raising money and preparing for the adventure. When we heard about it, we were really excited and thought this would be a fun opportunity for Corbin. He wasn't too sure he wanted to work to earn all of that money, but once he found out some friends were going, he was IN.

Bowen and Rex decided on their own that they wanted to help in the fundraising department. They immediately got a box, covered it in duct tape and labeled it as a collection for Corbin's DC trip. They encouraged Theo and I to put in any change we had leftover whenever we bought things. They were so excited.

Returning to our Monday off... I went to work in the morning, and returned home at lunch to enjoy our leisurely afternoon at home. Theo was in the shower having just returned from a run with Corbin. Bowen was playing in the backyard, and Rex was sitting on the living room couch happily fondling a somewhat large wad of one dollar bills. Drake is nowhere to be seen. I was a little surprised to see Rex with money knowing that he hadn't earned any lately. He is not a big saver. So I casually asked where he got the cash. "Oh, we collected it," Rex gleefully reported.

Me, getting an uneasy feeling, "What do you mean you collected it?"

Rex, happily replies, "We just got it from around the neighborhood."

Me, growing more chagrined, "You mean you went around and asked people for money?! Where exactly did you go?"

Rex, certainly noticing the increasing shrillness of my voice says, "We just went around by our house. We didn't go very far."

At this point, Bowen was called in from the backyard to take part in the impending tongue lashing. A barrage of questions ensued. Why would you do that? Where was dad? Did he know what you were going to do? Did you tell Drake where you were going? What did you say to people when you went to their doors? All of these came out in a steadily increasing volume.

They just wanted to help Corbin. They stayed near our house. They told people what the money was for. Somehow, these answers didn't do much to assuage my horror. I am thinking we should take the money back, but would they even be able to remember where they got it from? Little kids can cover a surprising amount of ground when motivated.

Theo emerged from the shower to referee (see stop me from inflicting any more verbal torture). Rex and Bo scurried to safer territory.

Once the heat of the moment had passed, I had some guilt about my reaction. They were just trying to help afterall. No harm had really been done, and I am certain they wouldn't do it again! We are always trying to get our boys to be more kind to each other, to think about others' needs. They were only doing what we taught them. Even if he attempt was a little misguided. Oy vei, what the neighbors must think of us!

A New Adventure

My mom and dad have embarked on mission #2. This time they will serve for 6 months at the historic site Cove Fort in southern Utah. To keep everyone up to date, they have started a new blog. Check it out!
 My parents are the BEST!