Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A camping we will go

I love living in Utah. I loooooove the mountains. When I was younger I totally took them for granted, and I realize now what beauty surrounds us here. Sometimes I am in awe that I get to live just minutes away from beautiful canyons. The last few years we have tried to spend as much time as possible enjoying the great outdoors, which usually includes at least one camping trip. Recently we got together with my fam for our annual camping adventure.

Things were a little iffy at first. The awful wildfires in the west so far this year meant fire restrictions at several campsites, so we had to improvise a bit by eating and hanging out at a picnic site and then driving 5 minutes to our actual campsite for the night, but it wasn't bad at all. Rain also threatened our fun a bit, but it quickly passed and the rest of the night was fantastic. 

Brady made a mean dutch oven, as usual. We roasted marshmallows and made s'mores, threw rocks in the water, and Claire spent a fair amount of time hunting for Tinkerbell in the forest after we happened to spot some random green glitter on a rock.

Camping while 6 months pregnant? You betcha!

Visiting around the fire

S'mores...one of the best parts of camping

My little outdoors-y girl
Even though we regularly take Claire to the mountains, we've never actually camped out overnight with her there. I wasn't entirely sure how it would go, considering sleep has always been a challenge with this one, but it was smooth sailing. She was thrilled to sleep in the big tent, and once we all settled down for the night she was out cold all night long. Brady and I tossed and turned and struggled to sleep all night, but Claire stayed snuggled in her new sleeping bag like a pro camper.
So excited to sleep in the big tent!

In fact, she was a dream the entire trip. Not only was there not a single crying episode, but I don't think there was even a whine or word of protest from her. Camping seemed as natural to her as anything. I can't believe we've waited so long to give it a shot!

A fun night with family, a little bike ride, and a little hike (where we spotted tons of butterflies, I've never seen anything like it!) later and we could declare our camping adventure a success. I never really imagined myself camping at 6 months pregnant, but it went much better than I anticipated. However, despite the fun of our little excursion, one night at a time is plenty for me. Nothing better than coming home from an enjoyable camping trip to a nice hot shower :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The most obnoxious project in the world

The last thing this blog is is a DIY/home-improvement blog...or perhaps a cooking blog...or most definitely not a fashion blog. Good heavens, what DO I offer the blog world?

Anyway, several months ago we put our house on the market for a variety of reasons. One being that we've lived here for 6 years now, and our original plan was 5 years. We've lived here our entire married life and kinda think it might be time for our next adventure. We've been so torn though because we do like where we live, and we've been blessed with wonderful friends here...

The primary reason though is a giant HOA mess involving crumbling stucco on many homes in the area, water damage to some homes, a big fat lawsuit to the builder, and some dumb decisions from the HOA over the years, which has resulted in high HOA fees for us that are only going to get higher (and we don't even have cool amenities like a pool or clubhouse). We thought it might be time to get out before it became impossible to sell.

We've had some offers, but on the low end of things thanks to the lame housing market. Since we don't have to sell right now we figure that we'll just ride it out until the right offer comes along. All the showings are a pain, but my house sure has been clean!

In April we decided maybe we should do some updates that we'd been talking about doing for years anyway in hopes of increasing value. And, if we end up not selling, at least we like the house we're in. So we embarked on a project that for us, was massive. I repeat- we are not "handy" people. We get no thrill out of the DIY type stuff. In fact, we rather hate it. A few months ago we replaced our back doorknob and deadbolt and it took the two of us over an hour and more swear words than I wish to divulge... and it still kinda looks like crap.

So we decided to update our oak cabinets that looked dated, as well as replace the linoleum in our kitchen with tile. We also ripped up a section of carpet in the entryway that leads back to the kitchen and replaced it with tile, since it is such a high-traffic area and the carpet was beat. We are fortunate that Brady's dad and brother both have laid tile for a living, so we had a good connection there. We decided to tackle the cabinets first, and then while we were in California for a week have the tile laid during that time. Brilliant, right? We figured we'd have things all done and beautiful by the time we came home. Easy peasy!


Excuse me while I laugh at my naive and idiotic assumptions about home projects!

The cabinet project started out fine, and really, we had no hang-ups throughout, other than the fact that it TOOK A MILLION YEARS! And was so totally obnoxious. Oh, and I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and totally sick and exhausted, and had bronchitis for much of it (see previous posts). The last thing you want to do while nauseous and tired and is head outside to paint cabinets. And no, we did not do things the "professional" or the "Pinterest" way and rent a sprayer and all that. We went old school (cheap!) with rollers and paintbrushes. Kill me.

We left for California with the cabinets about half done and figured at least we'd come home to beautiful flooring...HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA! We kind of overlooked the fact that because my father-in-law was doing this for us for super-minimal pay, he was just kind of stopping by when he had time. An hour here, an hour there...two weeks after we got home the refrigerator was still in the living room and we were still hopping from place to place to avoid the unfinished areas.

However, the tile did eventually get finished, and the painting and hardware installation on the cabinets did come to an end, more or less (I still have touch-up to do that I procrastinate week after week...gah!) The paint job is totally amateur and I see flaws on pretty much every square inch of each cabinet, but hey! It's done! And I do think that it looks better than it used to, flaws notwithstanding.

(Forgive the crappy phone photos. If you haven't noticed, this blog also is not a photography blog.)

The biggest accomplishment of all? Our marriage managed to stay intact throughout the process! In fact, not one frustration-from-home-improvement-fueled fight! Go us!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer time, and the livin's easy...

So here's a confession- I'm secretly a kind of lazy parent sometimes. As a result, I sometimes want to keep Claire in a little bubble. Not because I'm a perfectionist necessarily, but because other stuff is tricky to deal with. It's an urge I actively try to fight in order to avoid becoming the dreaded "helicopter parent".

For example, dealing with wild cherry slurpee on a white shirt = tricky. Dealing with hand-foot-and-mouth disease because she licked the chairs at the library = awful. Getting crayon out of the couch = hard. See? Better to just keep her away from the hard stuff, right?

But really, what kind of childhood is that? That's no fun at all (although, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is worse, so I stand by my choice to not let her lick the chairs at the library). She actually usually makes things pretty easy on me because she generally is a pretty cautious kid. Definitely not the type to take a flying leap off the top of a slide, or anything. But I genuinely want her to be a kid, to have fun, to let loose, and sometimes I feel like I have to encourage her to do so and push her step outside of her comfort zone, all while pushing myself out of my comfort zone too.

So tonight, when we were playing at the park and her little friends came over and they took off having fun I was thrilled. And then when the sprinklers came on, and they started jumping through them and shrieking and just plain being kids in the summer time, my heart couldn't have been happier.

And I don't think hers could've either.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A little catch up

Back in April of this year we took a little family trip to Dana Point, California. Our little family of 3 rented a condo not far from the beach and spent the week relaxing and just being happy. It was desperately needed.

When we first got there after a long drive it was a little cool and rainy, but the first thing we did was head to straight to the beach. Literally, the second my feet touched the sand I wanted to cartwheel and shriek for joy. I may have jumped around a bit. Both of us nearly got emotional. You could say that a beach vacation was long overdue for us.
Brady's sister McKenzie also came down with her family a couple of days later and Claire was thrilled to have her cousins around.

We spent time at the beautiful Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point and frequently took the short drive up to Laguna Beach. It was amazing how all the time spent sitting on the beach made all my stress melt away entirely. Pretty much every single day we spent time brainstorming about how in the world we could move down there.

We also went to Disneyland for a day, which turned out to be awesome. We got a great deal on our tickets, the park was the least crowded I've ever seen, and the weather was perfect. And we felt like we had at last fulfilled our duty as parents by taking our kid to see Mickey in person.

It was so stinking fun. The weather during the week ended up being perfect, our little condo was cozy and just right, and Claire was a delight almost the entire trip. Our time together as a little family was so precious and much needed. The fact of the matter is we work too much, worry too much, and forget too easily how lucky we are to have each other. A little trip to the beach was just what the doctor ordered. Leaving to come home was nearly impossible.

But stopping in Vegas for all-you-can-eat buffet at The Rio helped drown our sorrows a bit.

New look, new resolve

Ok, OK...I really am getting back into this blogging business. Fer reals, this time. Life has been busy and overwhelming the last year or so, and it has been nice to focus on taking care of the things that need the taking care of. But, along the way I've failed to document some great things. Claire is getting to the age that she's just too cute to not document, and I don't want to forget those little moments.

So- for the purposes of remembering my little family in a format that I can actually (hopefully) stick to, I'm back in business.