Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Time to Update

It took us 5 1/2 years (that's how long we've lived in this house), but we finally put new lights in our kitchen and new wood floors in our kitchen and dining room. I love them!

First the lights. We had this hanging down fluorescent light box thing going on, and it made our kitchen look so dated. Our house was build in 1998, but the light looked 80's to me. So we knew we wanted to take it down and install recessed lights around the cabinets and pendants above the sink and bar. I didn't take any pictures before we started, but I did manage to get this one right before we took the box down. It's under my house, if anyone wants it. My gardening friend Nancy recommends using it for a planter box. My brother-in-law Jason installed recessed lights in my parents' house last year, so we asked him to help us with ours while they were visiting.

Lighting makes such a huge difference in a room, and I like it SO much better!! I even like our cabinets more, because they look so pretty all lit up. I helped by going to Lowe's approximately 7 times in 3 days, choosing the pendants, turning the power on and off and on and off and on and off about 20 times while Dave tested the wires, and painting the ceiling after Dave patched the little holes from the old lights. Jason gave up 2 days of his vacation to help us while Ellen and I chatted and bought supplies. And Anna played with Brennan, which made everyone happy. Dave already knew a lot about electical stuff, but he learned so much, like how to install multimple 3-way lights with dimmers. Now that I know he can do it, I have so many other projects in mind.

Now on to the floors. We had carpet in our dining room, which we HATED. Carpet does not belong under dining room tables, especially with children. Particularly when one of those children is 1 1/2 and likes to dump everything onto the floor, including oatmeal, spaghetti and yogurt. We have a carpet steamer, so I did clean it from time to time. But it was just a pain, and some stains never came out completely. We also had boring linoleum in the kitchen. We finally decided on the wood we liked and had to buy it quick before the money was needed elsewhere. It's a distressed, wide plank, medium brown maple and I love it even more than I hoped I would.

While they had the old baseboards off, I decided this would be a good time to replace them with a wider one. After 4 stores, I finally found the one I wanted. See why it takes me so long to do these things? First I'm extremely indecisive, and then it takes forever to find what I want. Anyway, I painted them while they were installing the floors, and then they put them on for us. You can see the old one on the left, which we'll be replacing soon. I like the new ones much better, and it looks pretty silly just halfway done. I want to do at least the living room and hall also.

Next step will be new carpet in the rest of the house. Hopefully it won't take us 5 1/2 years to do those, because they are in pretty sad shape too. Not as bad as the dining room was, but close.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Club Penguin Party

Tyler had a Club Penguin friend party. In case you haven't heard of it, it's a free online game on Miniclips. My boys love it, especially Tyler. He also has the Wii game. It was actually really easy to come up with activities because we just played the same games the penguins play.

The first and possibly most popular game was sumo wrestling. I bought a couple of 3XL t-shirts and put a pillow underneath, held in place by a rope. That alone was hysterical.

The goal is to knock your opponent off the iceberg. So we moved the couches out of the way, and the area rug became our iceberg. The rule was they could only use their big belly to bump each other - no punching/kicking.

It's a little blurry, but this picture of Brennan cracks me up.

They could have done this all day.

Then they played 4-way hockey. They had to stay on their knees, so that kept it from getting too crazy.

There were four goals (laundry baskets), four players at a time and a bunch of racquetball balls, which aren't too hard.

We also played bean counter. The computer version of the game has the penguin catching big bags of beans off a delivery truck. We had the boys go down by our front door and catch pillows that Dave threw down from upstairs and put them in a laundry basket.

They went fast, and the ones that fell on the floor didn't count. I couldn't believe how much fun they had with this. They played it for a really long time, with each round speeding up.

By the end he had 4 throwers lined up at the top, throwing them down practically all at once.

When they weren't catching or throwing pillows, I pulled them into the kitchen a few at a time to make their own pizzas (also a Club Penguin game).

After lunch we ate puffle cake balls. Puffles are the penguins' pets. This was plan B. I tried to make a big 3D penguin, but it stuck to the pan and ended up a pile of crumbs. I didn't want to waste it (I made it from scratch after all), so I turned them into cake balls, which I remember seeing on Pioneer Woman awhile ago. Tyler loved them.

Then we did a Puffle Rescue, i.e. Easter egg hunt. I made 72 of these cute little guys, hot-gluing the yarn and googley eyes and drawing the rest of the face with a permanent marker. Okay, so it was a little labor-intensive (it took all Friday afternoon), but I seriously had so much fun making them.

Spencer hid all the puffles in the backyard, and I think they all got found. Although Tyler found one just the other day.

Tyler was especially excited about getting membership cards from his cousins. Although the game itself is free, there's a lot more you can do as a member. He can earn coins playing the Wii and online games, and then he saves them up to upgrade and decorate his igloo. He "bought" a 2 story igloo today.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Tyler!

Tyler has the best birthday ever - April 6th. He turned 9 this year. Ellen made a Hawaiian feast for dinner, so we went with a luau theme. The volcano cake was Brennan's idea. It was super easy and looked pretty dang cool.

I started with 5 layers of cake, various sizes. It's always nice to have 2 kinds of cake to give people a choice. They tend to have strong opinions about this kind of thing. These are both America's Test Kitchen recipes, almond and chocolate. Yum, yum. Then I used scraps for the top layer to give it a crater look.

I spread frosting between each layer. . .

Then I covered it with chocolate frosting (another ATK recipe) and Oreo crumbs.

I iced the crater with red frosting (if you want really red frosting, the dye paste works way better than regular food coloring), and pulled apart Twizzlers to look like flowing lava. Finally I stuck various plastic trees in the sides.

We managed to locate Hawaiian shirts for everyone.

Dave even found Hawaiian music on Pandora. It sure made us want to sneak back to Hawaii in Ellen and Jason's luggage.

Oh my goodness, we actually found a vegetable Levi will eat - cucumbers.

For the family party, we had Kristen's family, Ellen's family and my parents come over. It was a gorgeous day, so the kids ate outside. Which is good, because they wouldn't all fit in our house too well. Can you tell how these cousins feel about each other?

I love this sweet picture.

Sitting around visiting afterwards with the fat and happy's. See my new area rug from the Crate and Barrel outlet? I love it!

Opening presents.

And playing games late into the night. If Jason's around, games will be played.

Tyler loves his Guess Who game. Next up: Tyler's friend party.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A taste of summer

We had a taste of summer a couple weeks ago. The kids had minimum days all week for parent teacher conferences, and the weather was super warm and sunny. We even had to turn the A/C on a little bit. So Friday after school I went to the store and bought a slip-n-slide. I got the cheapest one they had, and it didn't work right unless the kids stood on the side to increase the water pressure. But it was still fun.

Afterwards we ate creamsicles.

It's been chilly ever since, but it was nice while it lasted. The kids are especially excited about summer now.