Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wow, Lots of Stuff Going on Here!

First off, I am now officially a University of Minnesota student.  I'll be taking my final exam tomorrow for my first class toward a Certificate in Interpretation.  My language pair, of course, is Spanish to English.  I am hoping to either certify as a medical or legal interpreter.  I can't believe I'm back in the classroom.  Somehow I feel like I never really left.  With homeschooling and being involved in the kids' academic careers, I've always felt connected to academics.  Now it's just more formal because I'm paying tons of money to sit in a desk!

In other news, Jane was named in June as part of our city's royalty program.  She's so cute and honestly one of my only kids who could actually do good in this role.  Jane is not shy and doesn't think about things too much or at least enough to scare herself out of doing them.  She'll be wearing her tiara and polo this evening at our Night to Unite block party.  I asked her if she's nervous to address everyone with a microphone.  She naturally said, "Of course not!"

Summer is now slowing down a bit.  We have fewer things on the calendar and are looking forward to a couple camping trips and the State Fair.  Blogging hasn't been on the top of my "to do" list so I'm surprised I remember how to do blogging basics!  Thankfully, the platform hasn't changed.  Otherwise, I'd be on another learning curve.  I have enough learning curves I'm on right now!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

12 in 2014 Wrap Up

Since I didn't do much blogging this year, I was intrigued by Dwija's link up of 12 photos for 2014 recapping the year.  Sounded good to me so here goes....

We had a lot of snow and the coldest temps on record.  I'm talking it was so cold we had almost 10 days of no school and one that was cancelled by the governor to protect the kiddies who have to wait at the bus stops.  Seriously, it was so cold in below 0 weather that your face would hurt if you went outside even to get the mail!!

This ratty boy turned 4 years old this year.  He's actually a pretty neat kid....very affectionate and full of conversation.  He started his second year of preschool in September and definitely gives his teachers a run for their money!

We had 2 Spring Breaks to contend with this year which meant I had to get creative with the field trips.  We made it to the Jackson Street Roundhouse/Train Museum, the History Center, and the Science Museum all in one week!  It was a lot of fun for the boys and Jane.  Maria and Molly didn't get a break from the online school.  Monica's break didn't line up with the boys' and Jane's so she just spent the week resting at home.  Tough life, I know!!

April saw awesome weather and another classic Easter Egg Hunt.  Check out Jane's socks and sandals and those baskets made it yet another year!  The boys and Jane are at the ready to scout out all the eggs in the front yard.  Demolition had not begun yet so it was easier to stay clean in the sloppy spring weather.  Phew!

Gabe made his First Holy Communion this year which was very special.  He made it just before the onslaught of remodeling.  Lucky kid!

Our sweet Elizabeth was born right after the school year was over.  Literally, school was over on a Friday and she was born on Monday morning!  We had the perfect June weather for having a newborn among us.  Grandma came up from Texas and spent a month with us which was awesome.  It was great to have her around to help with the remodeling and baby blues for me.  It was a tough last month of pregnancy and first month with a newborn.  I'm saying now that I'll never do that again, but you all know me too well to believe that!

Monica and Maria were sporting the red, white, and blue at the Italian American Club 4th of July picnic.  Maria has probably until next summer with her braces.  She's looking forward to having a million dollar smile like her older sister!

August saw the end of the remodel!  We gained a larger garage, a wider entryway, an updated look, and a beautiful patio and garden to welcome visitors.  The siding is growing on us as is all the extra space.  To live through a remodel with a newborn is no small task so we are grateful it's all over!

September had everyone except Maria and Molly back to school.  Lucas, Gabe, and Jane went to the Spanish Immersion school and Monica headed back to the high school.  It wasn't until October that I decided to enroll the last homeschool holdouts into our parish school.  So far so good.  Everyone's happy and I have more time for the house, the baby, and Nick.  I also get an occasional nap which is quite welcome!

Lucas turned 10 this year!  My big boy, awesome helper, and handy man hit the double digits with a killer party for him and his friends and brothers at Zero Gravity.  It was a fun time and easy for me and dad to celebrate how wonderful he is.  He deserves it for his go with the flow attitude.  His is such a helper to me at this age.  I hope he knows how much I appreciate all his help and companionship with my many projects!

Paul and I celebrated our 16th Anniversary by going to the Minneapolis Christmas Market.  It was so cold but fun to have spaetzle, Gluwein, strudel, and hot apple cider among all the German booths of ornaments, Nativity scenes, and Christmas stars.  It was magical!

This last month of the year has been fun.  I finally volunteered at the Spanish school for Lucas's class winter party.  I was in charge of pictures for posting to the school site.  We had fun with all the photo props!  
We managed to get all our stockings except Elizabeth's (she didn't have one yet) hung up on the mantle.  I'm glad Maria photographed the mantle because the plan for 2015 is to remodel the family room and kitchen.  The mantle is going and we would like to make a build out over the brick to update the space.
Elizabeth is now 6 months and started sitting a week ago.  She's also eating solids and sleeping through the night!!!  
I also ventured out in 1 degree weather yesterday to take 5 of the kids sledding.  Yes, I'm crazy, but we did have a lot of fun laughing and giggling down the steep, icy hill of hard-pack snow.  
The plan for New Year's Day is skiing at Trollhaugen for the whole family.  It should warm up to 20 degrees so it won't be as bitterly cold as it was sledding.  My hope is to get on the slopes.  We'll see how that goes.  I consider myself a pretty valuable member of our family so being flat on my back with a broken arm or leg doesn't sound too good.  On the upside, I'm super excited to start the 5th season of Downton Abbey.  
Of course, I'm the only one in the house that's excited.  Everyone else is excited about all the numerous electronic devices we've allowed into our home.  Yes, we've succumbed to secular parenting, but we still try to lecture the kids on the evils and perils of social media, online gaming, and the like to which they usually yawn and go back to playing and posting!  Well, you win some....

Happy New Year from Our Home
to Yours!

Friday, November 21, 2014


the last time I blogged was in September?  That's just crazy, but I've been crazy busy with all kinds of life stuff.

First off, I decided to send Maria & Molly to our parish school.  Yep, that's right!  I'm officially not a homeschool mama anymore.  It's hard to believe that I'm not homeschooling, but for now it's all for the better.  Now the 3 oldest girls get on the bus at 7:10AM and ride over to the high school.  Monica gets dropped off and Maria and Molly take a transfer bus to St. Charles.  They love it!!!

The boys and Jane are still at the Spanish Immersion school.  That's working well.  Nick is in his last year of preschool so he'll hopefully be at the SI school with the others next year.

Next, the house was finished up.  I have pics of the unit that we had built for the mudroom.  It's AWESOME!!!!

Each kid has a small cubby that fits their backpack, library books, mittens, papers & anything else that I need them to remember to take to school.  The space for the coats has 12 hooks for all the coats so at least every kid gets one plus dad and me.  There is extra shelving at the top for Costco stuff, extra hats, baskets, dog stuff, etc.  The bottom has laundry baskets for now for extra shoes, sports shoes, and boots.  The extra long runner rug is from LLBean.  It's a waterhog mat that I love!!!  Those mats are the bomb!  

Mike, the builder of this project, added crown moulding at the top of the unit to make the simple design a little more jazzy.  He also made all the shelving adjustable and gave us a little room on every cubby space so that doors can be added later if we want to change the open look.  It's bare bones right now because we are super tight on our budget for the remodel.  He's coming back next Wednesday to add the desk/countertop over the dog's area that will replace the phone desk in the kitchen.  EXCITED!!!!

Next, I found a custom cabinet maker at the State Fair that I had to know more about.  I had Joe Otto of Joe Otto Enterprises come out and do a consult on my kitchen cupboards.  He suggested for starters adding two drawers under the cooktop.

These are faux drawer panels because the original cooktop was too deep for drawers.  And below are the TWO drawers I have in the kitchen for all our eating and cooking utensils.  They are stuffed to the gils!

Here's an overview of the kitchen.

This is Joe Otto.  He has a business in Ham Lake.  He makes custom cabinet inserts and sliders.  Here he has taken the panels off and is getting ready to add the hardware for the new drawers.

These are the boxes/drawers that he made in his shop in Ham Lake.

Drawers are going in!!!!!

And here they are with the panels glued and screwed to the faces of the drawers!!!

I moved in pretty quickly after......

It still looks a bit cluttered, but it's very nice.  I went from 2 drawers to 4 and every drawer feels spacious and roomy.  Things aren't super tight and jammed into spaces.  I love the outcome!!

Next, I have to keep working on the hallway walls going upstairs.  I crazily decided to peel the wallpaper off some months ago.  However, I have so much glue on the walls so I have to wet and scrape it off with a putty knife.  It's quite a job so I try to tackle it a bit at a time.  I can't wait until it's ready to prime and paint those walls.  It will be nice.

Upcoming jobs include:
  • Hallway walls: prep, prime, paint
  • Upgrade kitchen cupboards, make new boxes for broom closet, remove phone desk and upper cupboard
  • Kitchen upgrade....reconfigure layout to remove dividing upper cabinets above dishwasher
  • Brick over grill in family room
  • Add braces over brick in family room and build out shelves and a surround for mounting TV
For the family room, I'm thinking about something like this, but not in white:

Anyway, we're on the 10 year plan for all of these upgrades.  But for now, I'm super happy with all the changes.

I hope all is going well with everyone who usually pops in here to check up on us.  We're all doing well.  The baby is doing awesome.  I'm crocheting another winter hat for her, and I'm getting ready to thaw out the turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Really it's November?  Crazy!!!!  Oh, well, that's life in a big family, well in any family!  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Update on Remodel....End in Sight!

The rest of the siding was put on the front entryway, the front columns were decked out with cedar, and the service door was repainted finally after 3 years!!!  It's amazing how all these little things start to come together to really finish up the project.  My screen door was also installed so we now we get more light in the entryway.  I love the screen door.  It has an internal screen so no more changing out screens or removing glass to clean both sides!!!!  With one quick motion I just pull down the top glass and the screen is right there.  If I don't want the screen, I just push the top glass up and it retracts into the top frame of the door.  AWESOME!!!

I also took out my spirea bushes in front and started working on re-landscaping west of the sidewalk.  I scored sod off Craig's List last Saturday so Paul and I had a date night to pick that up.  I just have to make a little list of the things I've purchased from Craig's List for this remodel.....

  1. Ceramic Floor Tile....a guy had the amount we needed left over from his cabin project so I picked it up for more than 1/2 off retail
  2. Refrigerator....a french door Maytag bought from a retired couple that was downsizing
  3. Stackable Washer & Dryer....bought from a guy who was upgrading his set
  4. Landscape Plants....bought from 3 different people who were thinning out their gardens
  5. Patio set
  6. Sitting Bench....this guy repainted the iron and removed and restained the slats for the seat....it's beautiful!
  7. Padded bench for entryway....guy was selling it for his daughter.  It really jazzes up the entryway and gives people a place to sit while putting on or taking off shoes.
  8. Sod....a landscaper had 42 rolls left over from a project.  I picked it up for 50% off retail, and it's just what we needed for the front yard.
I think that's everything.  I'll go back and add things if I remember them!

I also purchased corbels for the decorative piece at the peak of the garage.  I decided to have the builder put 2 corbels at the entryway to match the ones over the garage.  I bought these from Architectural Depot through Amazon.  We went with this type of corbel:

I decided to stain the corbels and the trim around the columns with a cedar stain.  Here's the stain I chose:

The stain color I went with is Cinnamon.

I've also been having lot of fun with the fam....State Fair, Back to School, and a photo shoot.

Jane & Nick posing for a picture at Little Farm Hands.

First Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade
I was also contacted by a gal who writes for our local Catholic paper and a few other national publications.  I made cookies for her daughter's baptism probably 3 years ago.  She's doing a piece on Catholic artists for a publication from Couple to Couple League.  I had to fill out a questionnaire and submit photos of my cookies and my self.  Maria received the prestigious title of "family photographer" so she was given the task of photographing me.  I sent the following pic to Christina, and the article will be published in November for their December issue!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lotsa Gardening

We asked for an estimate from a landscaper because the mess left after the bobcat seemed too overwhelming at the time.  However, the estimate came back way over budget.  So I decided to take on the project with the kids.  Paul & I did most of the work, but the kids did help with inside jobs....laundry, cleaning, meals, baby duty, and childcare.  I like the agreements we can come to in order to get a job done.

The space for the front flower bed is 17.5'x7.5'.  That's a lot of square footage!  We removed 5 inches of clay and rock from that bed.

I had a truckload of black dirt delivered from D Rock.....love that place!  After we loaded the flower bed with enough dirt for planting, we worked on grading it.  Paul and I then went back to D Rock for stepping stones and mulch.  I also met with a friend to plan out my garden.  She gave me tips and suggestions on plants and placement.

Paul and I chose rough cut Flagstone for the stone path.

We used gravel trap to set the stones in the dirt.  Then we put poly barrier down to keep the weeds out of the garden.

These are the plants I decided to use:  hostas, peach daylilies, a transplanted hydrangea, lamium, salvia, perennial geraniums, black eyed susans, white daisies, blanket & coneflowers, karl foerster grass, cat mint, ajuga, coreopsis, moss rose, purple vinca, and anise hyssop.  All of these except the hydrangea came from Craig's List from people who were splitting off plants.  It cost way less than a garden center!

We decided on red cedar for the mulch.  I love the look of the red background with the green foliage.

And here's the finished product in the daytime.  We picked up the patio chairs and side table from Craig's List for $20.  I tossed the cushions they came with and decided to use my own.

Now we have to tackle the sidewalk edge.  Unfortunately, I got mastitis yesterday and still felt like crap today.  I spent most of the afternoon in bed and am taking an antibiotic for the infection.  The baby is still nursing like a champ, but boy does it hurt!  I tried to do some digging on the trench for the edging but I didn't get very far.  My legs were so sore, and with a fever you just can't do much.

Next, we have to remove these bushes.  I had an azalea planted between two of them, but I removed it and it's now sitting in a bucket waiting for a miracle to happen.

This dirt pile also has to be removed, the new border made, and shrubs/plants need to be planted.  I'm going to plant spirea and sedum with various ground covers on the edges.  Then we need to reseed the lawn.  The new border will only be 4' from the sidewalk which will give the kids more grass in the front yard.  I also need to do a bit of grading so the lawn is more level.  Like I said....Lotsa gardening!!

It's been a fun and busy summer, but it's coming to a close.  We'll be going to the fair on Friday and continue working on various projects....painting, gardening, landscaping, and moving in....over the weekend.  School starts back up on Tuesday, but everyone's ready for it!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remodel Update!!!

I'm still trying to work out how to go from posting updates on Facebook with the pictures taken from my phone to posting updates here on my blog.  If I take pictures with my camera, it takes a bit longer to download and edit them.  Taking pics from my phone and immediately uploading them to FB is SO much easier.

I'm all about the quick fix around here so this is as good as I can do....a link to my remodel album on Facebook.  I'm told you don't need a FB account to view the pics.  So here's the link:

Remodel 2014

I also have a second album where I posted updates after Monica painted the entryway and mudroom.  Here's the link for that so you see the colors.  We used James River Gray in the entryway...

And we used Rockport Gray in the mudroom....

Here's the link to the second album I have posted on Facebook....

Thankfully, our siding came in this week so the workers have been putting it up, and it looks great!!!

side of the garage and entry door to garage....We have to put a second coat of paint on that door!

See all that landscaping that needs to be done?....ugh!

The 2 sides of the entryway were finished with siding yesterday.  The color is a perfect match!!!

This is the other side of the garage which was finished today.  The light fixtures on the garage and
entryway have a photo cell so they come on automatically when the sun goes down!  Too cool! More landscaping goes on this side of the house, too....ugh.
Well there you have it.  I'm so excited about the changes.  Yesterday we moved the refrigerator into the mudroom, and today the plumbers were connecting the water and venting to the washer and dryer that will be in the mudroom, too.  I'm also working on the plans for the storage unit with the cabinet maker.  I can't wait until it's all completed, but I have to be patient!

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