Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anatomy of a Kitchen Remodel

We've never liked the kitchen in our house in Colorado. There wasn't anything really all that wrong with it. It was pretty neutral and had decent space, but we got spoiled by having a very efficient kitchen in our last rental house before we moved here. We had fun things, like tall cabinets, full opening drawers, and slide out shelves, and also a hood over our range that actually vented outside. It was a small kitchen in a small house, but it held a lot!

After many years of saving up, we finally bit the bullet this fall and had our kitchen redone. The footprint is the same, but everything is new.

Here's what our kitchen looked like in the beginning. Note the oak cabinets, early '90's light box, and the huge space between the tops of cabinets and the ceiling (why?). Not only did those spaces attract a lot of dust, but since the hood only recirculated the steam from what we were cooking and put it back in the house instead of outside (again - why?), anything in those spaces got nasty, greasy, sticky!


This is what our kitchen looked like the next day.




Here's the garage. As of just a few days ago, we are parking both cars in the garage again (just in time for a day with snow and a high of 19 F!).


Look! Cabinets!

This is what the kitchen looked like from the living room. A big room swathed in plastic.


This is how they template for the counter top - with large plastic sheets and a glue gun. Then the template gets folded away and the counter top is made.


Every day there were men in my house. Sometimes just one - sometimes four or five. These are the electricians putting in our under cabinet lighting. This took hours! Other things that took hours and hours and hours - tiling, re-texturizing the ceiling, plumbing for gas, installing the toe kick lining (the toe kick is the indentation at the bottom of the cabinets that provides a place to put your feet so you can get closer to the counter tops without losing your balance).


But, finally, ta-da! We have a new kitchen! Isn't it lovely! I love the new goose neck faucet. It makes washing and rinsing large items much easier! I love our big drawers, the lazy susan cabinet in the corner, the new fan we had installed over the dining room table, and how quietly everything closes. We now have a gas stove, and each week we burn less. Our new dishwasher is so quiet that I frequently don't even know it's running!



 We now have a lovely tile back splash. The subway tiles are off white, and the glass tiles are fall colors. Oddly enough, we keep looking around the house and finding other items that we have owned for years that match our new kitchen. Colors of shelves, finishes on lamps, candle holders. It's funny how our tastes haven't changed much over the years!



Thursday, September 05, 2013

Things We've Been Up To

My specialty - the "catch-up" blog post. The one that brings you up to speed with all that we've done in the last few months. Here are a few things that you may have missed:

1) We got fish.
On the last day of the kids Wednesday night program at church they gave them little fishes in small glass bowls. Extremely bad idea. Who came up with this? We brought them home and promised to get a tank the next day after school. Here are the kids Thursday morning. Aren't they happy?


We had a fish funeral Thursday afternoon. Yes, he's probably crying. The second fish funeral was later in the day, before we ever got a chance to get the pet store. Less than 24 hours after getting fish in the first place.


That weekend we went to the pet store, spent a lot of money, and got several fish. We've hit the last few weeks of summer and, amazingly, they're still alive! One was suicidal and jumped out of the bowl when I was cleaning the tank. None of us saw it the second time he did it. Now we have one less fish.


2) Brandon played baseball again. He had a really good team, and had a wonderful time.

He noticed I was taking pictures:




3) We went to Disneyland. As you can imagine, zero fun was had by everyone! (On a shallow side note, though, we need to stop doing vacations immediately after school gets out. The post-vacation exhaustion sets a tone for the first half of the summer, and I don't like it).




4) We got kittens!
They're much bigger now.



The kittens love staring at the fish!


5) My parents came for a couple of weeks. 


During their visit, Brian and I got away, kid-free, for a few days. We did crazy things, like drive for 6 hours (to Santa Fe) with no whining, ate dinner at interesting restaurants, visited an old church, art museums, and a pueblo. Fun!



6) And, then, on August 22nd, school started. I now have a 5th and 2nd grader.  How did that happen? The kids weren't all that excited about getting up early, but they enjoyed their first day and have general enjoyed school since starting.



Hanging with her bestie before the bell rang.


Coming up:

I open a new photo site online. My old one is getting too crowded and full.

Brandon will have a birthday and be in the double digits!

We will have our kitchen remodeled. I will also slowly go crazy while attempting to cook without a kitchen. Going out every night is just not feasible with our family.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Contact

It finally happened. The nightmare I had before getting contacts at the age of 14 has now come true - my contact moved around and got stuck somewhere else in my eye other than my iris (where it normally resides). I had to do some odd maneuvers with my eye to get the little bugger back to where it was suppose to be. Not fun! Thanks, way to dry (and currently way to hot) Colorado weather. It's amazing how the lack of any moisture here can get to you.

I know you all expected something a little more moving for my first foray back into the blogging world, like what I did over the summer, or the kids first day back to school but this is it.

I go back and forth with whether or not I should continue blogging. My life isn't particularly interesting, nor is my writing witty or wonderful. I wonder if my kids, especially the oldest, won't appreciate his stories being told here. I wonder if I am as depressing of a person as people have called me after reading my blog (just trying to be real with how I feel, and being real doesn't always mean being pretty or positive). I'm still mulling all this in the back of my head. No conclusions yet. I'm just hoping we can get some rain, or at least some more moisture-laden air here so I don't have to go searching for my contact once again!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What Are the Odds?

I thought that the credit card receipt that fell out of the cabinetry catalogue this evening was mine. I couldn't figure out what I had bought. Then I noticed the date - 6/25/2002 - and the address of a local art center here in Colorado.  6/25/2002 - I'm pretty sure I was packing for a trip to Honduras to help build a church. I was married, but had no children. I didn't even get pregnant with Brandon until the end of that year. I had no idea we'd ever be living in Colorado back then.  What are the odds that a credit card receipt with the exact same last 4 numbers as my current credit card would be in my hands almost 11 years later?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sheesh!

Put Caitlin in the bathtub with a washrag and a couple of toys and she'll invent stories of squids, kings, fairy godmothers, and marriages. She never wants to get out! But, in the absence of water, the kid can't entertain herself for more than 2 minutes, max.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Whole World


I was called into the bathroom this evening to see this. Not only had he found a way to blow a big bubble, but he held it out to me while singing "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands." Melts my heart!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Least Religious

Saw this in today's paper:

New Gallup Poll-Boulder One of the Least Religious Cities

I could have told you that a long time ago. It says something when I'm surprised to see a local family at church. There is a lot of worship going on here, though. I quickly realize that the locals here worship the body.  I'm so tired of the cult of the body! There is so much emphasis on exercise and eating right (and trust me, no matter what you do or what you eat, you're never exercising enough or eating right!), and not eating certain things. While I don't think that being healthy is bad, it's odd to feel excluded because you don't jog and have no plans on running a marathon for fun.

Oddly enough, even though many people here are so into the health of their body, so few are into actually looking good. With all the emphasis on being outdoors, exercising, cycling, running marathons, skiing, etc., people here tend to look a lot older at younger ages than I'm use to. Between that and no attention to fashion (and were not talkin' haute couture), it's an odd mixture. Here's proof, and not in my words:

Worst Dressed Cities in America

and again



Thursday, March 28, 2013

More Often

I'm thinking my family should go out of town without me for 5 days more often. I was 4 pounds lighter on the scale this morning than I was before they left. I can't recall doing a single thing special to drop 4 pounds, but there it was (or, there it wasn't). Happydance!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Giving a Shout Out to Coldwater Creek

Yes, I shop at Coldwater Creek sometimes. Don't judge. It's been a struggle in the last 5 or so years to find clothes that are appropriate for my age. I'm starting to think that most clothing stores think everyone is young, skinny and a size 4. I'm not 20, not skinny, and even at my optimum weight I will never be a size 4! The last time I wore a size 4 I was 4.

Anyway, I digress. Sometimes I shop at Coldwater Creek. Almost every time I go in there, I am the youngest person in the store. Sometimes by 15-20 years. At least 80% of the store is off limits to me. The clothes can be very loose fitting, too boxy, frumpy or far too bright. Sometimes when I try things on, I feel like I should be going on an AARP cruise to the Bahamas, or moving to Miami. Call me vain, but I don't want to look any older than I am! That said, there are always a few things each season that actually look good on me. So I shop. And I shop on sale, or with coupons, because Coldwater Creek is outrageously priced! What person in their right mind would pay $65 for a t-shirt? Or $99 for a very average sweater? Seriously? Do only older people have that kind of money? Coldwater Creek definitely caters to the older crowd. Still, I have found some wonderful things.

I've also found some not-so-wonderful things. I had to amp up my winter wardrobe when we moved here. It's much colder for much longer here than I was use to. Sometime in 2009 I purchased pair of black pants. Just plain black pants. And they were awful. After just a few wears and washings, they pilled, stretched, and seams came undone. I'd tossed the receipt, so I kept them. I repaired them. I mended the pockets that tore after the 2nd wearing. I'd worn them no more than handful of times, and then eventually stuffed them in the bottom of a drawer, never to be pulled out again. Recently I took them out to toss them, but instead put them in a bag to go through later (sometimes I'm weird that way). Same thing happened with two long sleeved shirts I bought in late 2011. Pilled up, faded, hardly worn. It was a disappointment. I liked what I bought, I'd paid quite a bit of money for them, and wanted to wear them. Not only did the items look horrible after a few washings, they were so rough they irritated my skin. Most of what I've bought at Coldwater Creek has been good quality, but not these!

So, last week I read about their quality guarantee. Bring anything back, any time, for a refund. Really? Here's their official policy (taken right off their website):

"At Coldwater Creek, we want you to shop in confidence knowing that your purchase is Always 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed. If, for any reason at any time, you choose to return your selection, we'll cheerfully refund the purchase price, help you with an exchange, or credit your account." ***

And they are not kidding. 

I decided to gather up the 3 disappointing items that I somehow had not gotten rid of and take them into the store. I had no receipts, nothing. As I said, these items looked awful, even though I had only worn them a handful of times. Nothing else I own from Coldwater Creek looks as bad as these did. Even my heavily worn items. 

They gave me over $75 in store credit! Can you believe it? The store clerks kept apologizing that they couldn't give me a refund because I didn't have any receipts, but I didn't care. Store credit, for the full price I paid for each item, was more than enough. I now have an new pair of capris and shorts for summer, and several new tops. 

Even though I think the store is pretty overpriced, it is very nice to find a store that sticks to it's very generous return policy. It's pretty amazing, actually. I'm not going to randomly return other items without receipts because I've "changed my mind," but it was nice to be able to return a few poor quality items. Nice going, Coldwater Creek. Nice going.

***please note that these policies have changed. I am adding this because I've been fairly disappointed with Coldwater Creek as of late. I thought their return policy was extremely generous (probably too generous), and I've taken several things back that were a complete disappointment. The return policy has changed (as of September 2013) and now reads (as posted on their website) : "Valid on store, online and catalog returns: All regular, sale-priced and clearance merchandise that is unwashed, unworn or defective, may be returned within 120 days of purchase."  I am not surprised that they changed it. 4 months is still fairly generous, but it is not the same as it was. I am no longer sure about the 100% satisfaction guaranteed, either. As far as my experience goes, I did not discover how horrible the items I have returned were until after I had worn them or washed them. I also think that the calculations of dollar off coupons is very deceiving when merchandise is on sale. I went in with a $20 off card for my birthday. It just so happened that the entire store was all on sale for weeks. There was nothing I could do about that, but it also meant that anything I purchased during my dollar off coupon window was on sale. When my products were rung up, the $20 was deducted off of the ticketed price, not the store "that day" sale price, which applied to every item in the store (again, no fault of my own). My dollars off ended up being worth $10 off the final price instead of $20. There was no verbiage on the card to state that the money would be taken off of anything but the final price. No other store that I know of calculates prices on coupons this way. Customer Service inquiries have, at this time, not been returned. The quality and selection of clothes have also gone downhill in my opinion. Belts pull apart after a few months. Pants have far too much spandex/elastic in them and don't fit after an hour.  Shirts are thinner than they use to be, and don't last as long (which is a shame, really, since shirts from their store fit me and the sleeves don't shrink in the wash) I doubt I will be shopping there in the future. After advocating for them, I just wanted to put it out there that changes have been made, and that my opinions of the store have changed greatly in the last 6 months.



Friday, March 22, 2013

The Number are In

About a year ago Brian wanted me to start using our credit card for grocery purchases so we could earn more airline miles. Because we live so far from our families, airline miles are essential in our life. Before that, I had been a cash-only grocery shopper. When I was out of money for the month, I was done shopping. That's not nearly as easy to see when using a credit card! So, in order for me to keep track of how much I was spending each month I started a spreadsheet. After every grocery trip I would record what I spent, what I saved, and the percentage of savings (if it was on the receipt). The numbers are in.

From March of 2012 to March of 2013 I spent $6,748.49 on groceries for our family of 4, and saved $2,214.59. In actuality, I probably "saved," or didn't spend, closer to $2,600.00 on my bill. Some stores, like Sprouts, Target and Whole Foods, don't tell you how much you've saved off of their regular prices. While I could easily track the coupon savings on the receipts at many stores, I didn't start tracking other savings from those stores until the last two months of my spreadsheet. In the stores that told me the percentage amount saved, I averaged a 50% savings. Sometimes it was only 13%, sometimes it was as high as 90%! Most of the time, it was 45-65% per grocery trip to conventional grocery stores. The average cost per month, if you like averages, was $562. Summer months were lower, under $500 each month, and the months before and after summer were high. I was probably in stock-up mode at stores that aren't close to my house. I tracked all food I purchased, even on vacations or when visiting family. I didn't track eating out or date nights, which we do about once a week (unless it's a vacation).

I am fortunate enough to get coupons from my neighbor, who gets 3 papers each weekend, but doesn't use the coupons at all. They truly are free for me. I also print coupons off the internet. I try to use the ones from the paper before printing anything, since that uses paper and ink. At Target you can stack coupons, meaning you can use a Target coupon and a manufacturer's coupon together for one item. I just bought some $3.00 eyeshadow for 45 cents.

In late April of 2012 my rheumatologist wanted me to go gluten-free for pain control. Gluten-free products are usually twice as much as the same, glutenous products on the shelves. A tiny box of crackers can be upwards of $4.00! That probably explains why in April of 2012 I spent $300 more in groceries than in March or May! I started shopping more at health food stores. I buy a lot of gluten-free products, organics, and minimally processed foods. Some of the local items I buy don't say they are organic, but I know that the farmers use organic methods. They don't certify because of the cost and required testing.

There's a huge difference in cost savings where I shop, too. I could just go to King Soopers, which has a huge selection of natural and organic foods, the best prices, sales, and doubles most coupons to $1.00. It would be my everything store if there was one close to my house. I also do a lot of my shopping at a local store called Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers. They only sell natural foods (and not the fake foods that say "all natural") and organics. I can get 2 pounds of organic flour there for $1.67 in the bulk department! Their whole milk and minimally processed yogurts are the cheapest, too, along with their refined cooking oils. I've found that Safeway is the most expensive conventional grocer around. I can get better deals at Whole Foods, and they aren't cheap, either! In the summer, when my life keeps me closer to home (and I can't justify driving 10 miles to go grocery shopping), I do most of my shopping at my local Safeway, Whole Foods, SuperTarget, and Costco (all within 2.5 miles of my house).  I can keep my bills low, but it's a lot harder.
     I follow coupon blogs for the conventional grocers, and use them judiciously. Unlike the people on the "Extreme Couponing" show, I buy real foods and produce. I buy my share of junk food, too. I like chips sometimes, and the kids like things like Cheez-It's. I don't admit to that, though, because I live in Boulder county. The fact that I don't buy organic foods 100% of the time and sometimes eat M & M's might get me shunned by the locals. I'm only partly joking.

    Other facts I learned about my shopping are:
    • I'm a poor trip planner. I went to the store many times a week! Mostly, I think, because I shop at a variety of stores.
    • I am a stock-up shopper. If something of us really likes is on sale (and it's not a perishable food), I'll stock up.
    • If I plan, I can feed 21 people dinner (8 adults and the rest kids) for $20-$25. We're talking good food, too. Lean proteins and veggies, plus a dessert!
    • I rarely purchase store-brand items anymore. With coupons and sales, I get the brand name for a much cheaper price. The exception to that is at Natural Grocers, where their store-brand bulk items are usually the cheapest, and usually organic. I use to buy a lot of Safeway Select items before we moved to Colorado. We have gone through lean times, and didn't always the money to just buy whatever we wanted. Safeway has a stranglehold on California, especially northern California, and there weren't a lot of other store options with better prices unless I was willing to drive all over (which I wasn't). The store brand was almost always cheaper, and in a lot of cases, better for you. I have more choices in Colorado. If I don't like the prices at Safeway, I can go somewhere else.
    • It's taken years, but I've learned to shop without Trader Joe's. We still shop there when we visit family, though. I'm glad that one will open up near us this year. There are so many unique things that I've missed. 
    • How I shop and what I shop for has changed over the years. I didn't use to pay a lot of attention to ingredients, and now I read labels. My choices of products has shifted greatly towards minimally processed foods and organic foods. I do my best to avoid artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup in the processed foods that I do buy. Instead of shopping for one or two, I now shop for a family of 4 with 2 growing children. Sometimes they eat as much as I do! 
    • We make most meals from scratch. I have a much easier time keeping ingredients in my house than an actual product. For example, if I make teriyaki sauce, I just measure and mix the tamari, miren, and brown sugar. Hot chocolate consists of milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and maple syrup. 
    I'm pretty pleased with my numbers. According the latest USDA Cost of Food charts, we are living below the "Thrifty" plan. I'm sure if I bought all organic foods, my cost would go up, but I don't think we'd even hit the USDA low-cost plan. When friends ask me about using coupons, they assume that I spend hours and hours each day figuring out what to buy. Not at all. I use the internet to my advantage. There are so many coupon blogs out there that you don't have to do the work. Just spend an hour a week, cut out the coupons, and you're done! I just scored 5 32-oz tubs of natural yogurt (no weird ingredients) for free at the grocery store! Normal price would be $16.45! I know, 5 tubs is a lot, but we can go through yogurt pretty quick in this house when the kids are home and when it's hotter outside. I don't understand the people I run into at Safeway who have a small cart of items, and pay $100+ dollars! I guess stores rely on those people to keep their sales up. I'm not going to be one of those people, though. A little planning really does go a long way!

    Friday, March 01, 2013

    (Not Deep) Thoughts

    Random First World thoughts that have gone through my head today ....


    I was at Dillard's today. Every now and then I see something I really like from the "Reba" line. I shake my head - I just can't bring myself to try anything on or purchase it! I'm not a little bit country (or a little bit rock and roll), not all that young, and not ├╝ber fashionable, but....but...but.... I still can't do it! Maybe I think I'm just not old enough yet!

    Why do the local Denver TV stations always start their programming a few minutes before the hour? First World Problem, I know, but it's still really irritating. I'm always missing the first few minutes of things.

    I think the national news is formatted for commercials, not actual news.

    I have several friends on Facebook who do nothing but share pictures from other FB pages. Not just a few pages, mind you, but lots and lots! One friend shares upwards of 25 pictures a day. I never really know what she's up to, but I am very caught up on weather and grocery prices in Alaska (her home state), current news, and sappy religious stories. Another "friend" only gets on FB occasionally, but when she does, she'll share 30 or more pictures in less than an hour. I've had to take these friends off my main page. I don't care if people share pictures or links, but these ones - it's too much! I know that FB is all about advertising, but I do like to see what others have been up to. Call me crazy, but that's the only reason I have an account.

    Speaking of Facebook, or of Boulder, but I am sick of the the FB "preaching" that I get day after day after day after day about the dangers of processed food, non-organic produce, and cleaning products. I know these things. Seriously! I know that "fat free" means there's usually more sugar in something, and that organic produce has less pesticides. All you Norwex sellers - not every household cleaner is toxic. Ever heard of Shaklee, or 7th Generation? What on earth were you using before? There are also other microfiber cloths, also, that cost way less. I can only "hide" so many of these people. It's one thing to occasionally share your thoughts on something, but the day-in, day-out posts are starting to drive me up a wall.

    Yes, I realize I can get off of Facebook at any time. I know that. But I do like it.

    I'm tired of listening to "Smoke on the Water," "Dynomite," and "Rock Lobster" over and over again. Brandon, however, is not. Is this a harbinger of his teenage years?

    I haven't hit my "winter wall" yet (in which I am absolutely ready for winter to be over and can't stand it any longer, but because I live in Colorado, I have to wait until mid-May for spring to start), but I am looking forward to daytime temperatures to be in the mid-40's this weekend. But it's suppose to be windy. Ugh. There are so many days in Colorado that you just don't want to be outside. Still, 45 will be warmer than the 20's and 30's we've been in for several weeks.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Changes, Changes

    Changes, changes. Do they ever stop?

    In December, the family that had been living next door to us for 3 years moved back to South Korea. I really liked having them as neighbors, and Brandon was good friends with their oldest boy, who was the same age. I'm pretty sure that they would have been best buds if he had not gone to another local school (our school is so small it doesn't offer an ESL program). It's probably good that they were at different schools, though, as Brandon doesn't expand his friends horizons when he doesn't have to. We knew that they were moving. Everything had been planned out for months. Still, it was a hard day when the moving truck showed up, and even harder when we said our last goodbyes a couple days later. Brandon cried and cried over the loss of his friend. I know that there is Skype and all that, but the loss of a good friend, one that you will probably never see again, is still hard.

    Just two weeks after that, Big J, our neighbor of 3 1/2 years, also moved. Big J and Brandon hit it off right away. Their personalities were very different, so I'm convinced that proximity played a large part. There were no other kids anywhere near the ages of our kids in the neighborhood for the first year and half we lived here (at least not that we knew of), so the introduction of another kid to play with was huge! Brandon had made a friend in kindergarten, but the half-day of school combined with a rigorous schedule made socializing a difficult task. Big J and Brandon became friends right away, and I became friend with Big J's dad, who stayed at home (and then, eventually, his mom, who is the breadwinner). It was nice to have someone to talk to. The kids played and played. Big J was at our house All. The. Time.  There are things we do now, like how I dress in the mornings and when the kids do homework, that were all designed with him in mind, since there was minimal supervision and he was always coming up to play . In later years, as the boys got older, they didn't seem to have as much in common and didn't play as much. Still, I have to give credit to Big J for sticking with Brandon. Brandon would be so rude sometimes, and yet Big J kept coming around. We've advised Brandon that lots of other kids wouldn't/will not put up with that kind of treatment, and we work to turn it around. It was a pretty hard week when Big J left. The parents said they were leaving on Saturday or Sunday, and they couldn't get it together to leave for a whole week! Oh, the drama! Each day Brandon wanted to play, for the last time, with Big J. And each day was not the last day, until on Friday it was. Each night there was sadness and tears because Big J would be leaving the next day. And then he didn't. And then he did. Both boys had tears in their eyes when it was actually time for Big J to drive off (in the late afternoon, 4 days before Christmas, right before a snow storm, with their first hotel 8 hours away in Wichita). It would have been a pretty sad night for our family, had we not been leaving an hour later on holiday travels. Big J had been such a part of our life for the past 3 1/2 years that he was almost family. He knew where everything was, and even put his shoes in the kid's shoe basket when he came over! There was also some relief when they left, knowing that between the distraction of Christmas and the fact that their family actually left, the sadness would not continue to drag on day after day after day.

    We've also, I think, switched churches. We weren't church shopping when we tried out the church in Boulder where the kids have a Base Camp, a Wednesday night program (I also did MOPS there for a couple of years), but yet we like it, and there we are. One thing we have not been able to find since moving to our part of Colorado is consistency in community. When the kids started Base Camp, they already knew several kids there from school. Caitlin's come home many afternoons and told me that she's seen one of her leaders was at her school doing volunteer work and said "hi" to her. When we decided to check it out after the new year we not only saw and talked with our neighbor, but several other people from around town, from the kids sports teams, and from the kids school. It was so nice! We looked at a general map of where people live (represented by pins), and discovered our town is not on the fringe, not out in the boonies of the church population. I've been looking for that since we moved here, and I've never been able to find it. I mean, isn't that suppose to be a benefit of small town living? There isn't much in our area, so we always have to drive. Oddly enough, these churches are all 10-12 miles from our house, but worlds apart. Our first church, CBC, drew from an area mostly east of Boulder, which made community hard (I just can't drive 15-25 miles one way to meet up with people on any sort of regular basis). FCC, where we've been for the last 2 years, is very centric to its neighborhood. I think that's wonderful, and I love what they do for their community but, even though we are only 10 miles away, we are so far out of their vicinity it's funny (there are huge differences inside and outside of Boulder county, and across city lines). I loved our FCC small group, but it disbanded at the end of last summer, leaving us with a dearth of community. I'm no longer sure how I think about myself in community after the last 5 1/2 years, but it's still nice to know that at FPC (the new place), I don't live in the fringes. Geography matters here, immensely. I want to live in community with others - not scattered.  That's a huge order to fill in a marginally rural place where there are little enclaves and small towns here and there. I'm going to have to get use a lot of things at FPC but the consistency in community is huge. Plus, the kids are really happy. They wanted to start going there right away.

    Even though the last few months have been a flurry of changes, the kids have weathered them and are doing fine. We're all doing fine. They were pretty big at the time, though. In some ways the neighborhood changes have been a relief for me. Between the family dynamics, the family drama, the affair, the alcohol, and the lack of kid supervision, not having Big J around after school makes our afternoons a lot easier. The kids can relax more when they get home. Getting homework done is easier without constant distractions. Getting to after school activities is a lot easier when the kids aren't involved in playing games. Caitlin's friends down the street are rarely home before 6:00, so she doesn't see them much during the week, which is easier all around (if she knows they're home, it's torture for her not to be with her friends. Can you say "extrovert"?). The 9-year-old boy that moved in across the street late last summer goes to a private school, is always busy, and is gone on the weekend a lot, so we don't see him much, either. Sometimes I wish nothing more than to have my kids go outside and play with other kids in the neighborhood (and we have lots!), but sometimes I just want them to do what they need to do without constantly being interrupted by other kids who want to play. There's a balance in there somewhere, and we may have found it through all these changes.

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

    How We Spent our Saturday

    A couple of weeks ago Caitlin decided she wanted her ears pierced. I had wanted her to wait until she was 7, but I'd never mentioned that to her. She never mentioned it before, but then, right after turing 7 it was all of sudden on her mind! We waited until this weekend to get them done so daddy could be in town and go with us. She was brave in the face of pain. She forgot her stuffy, and was very grateful for the one at Claire's. I told her that after our 6 weeks we can go back and get her a pair of Hello Kitty earrings. Fun!


    Happily getting her hair pulled back. 

    Happy with her measured, marked ears.


    Getting both ears pierced at once!

    Caitlin doesn't like this picture. It makes her sad. I'm putting it up here to show how brave she was. Getting your ears pierced is painful, and this is as close as she got to actually crying.


    The pretty pink daisy earrings she chose.

    Pain distraction, courtesy of Red Mango frozen yogurt.


    Cute, brave Caitlin - now, with earrings!

    Tuesday, January 01, 2013

    12

    The 12 numbers of Christmas :


    12 - the number of people who stayed at my parent's house during our visit

    11 - (pm) - the time we started driving home from the airport

    10 - days spent visiting family

    9 - people at my in-law's house on Christmas day

    8 - hours spend with our friends Scott and Chris (and Emily and Josh!)

    7 - cats

    6 - hours on airplanes

    5 - trips to Target (seriously, I'm always forgetting something!)

    4 - stockings hung by the chimney with care

    3 - packed suitcases

    2 - tired kiddos

    1 - Lord and Savior

    Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!