Monday, March 24, 2008

I love springtime and the celebration of new life and the remembrance of THE new life we have in Christ! I'm so thankful to live in a place where we are able to openly celebrate Christ's resurrection. So often we take things like that for granted, but we are TRULY blessed to enjoy these freedoms and even more blessed to have the privilege of knowing and having relationship with our Creator. "Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness...Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." (excerpted from Psalm 150)
We had a lovely Resurrection Sunday morning together as a family. We got up and had the requisite egg hunt. The kids don't believe in the Easter Bunny (they saw a person dressed up in a costume and it was apparently quite unbelievable - they determined that he's just a mascot, so he's just pretend). However, they believe in his helpers. The night before Easter, Aric came up with the great idea to leave cookies and milk out for the Easter Bunny's helpers. Taylor thought that was a great idea, too, since we'd dropped the ball at Christmas time. (For the record, they think Santa is pretend, but they think his helpers are real. They are convinced those real helpers are elves who must like cookies and milk. :-) We, of course, never got around to putting out snacks for the Easter Bunny's helpers, so they helped themselves to a few of the boys' marshmallow peeps. The boys were quite happy with the evidence that the helpers had been there.
Anyway, Aric got up before anyone else on Easter morning and came downstairs to scope out the egg situation. A few minutes later, Taylor also took a survey of the situation. They both agreed the Easter Bunny's helpers didn't do a very good job of hiding eggs. They gave a good critique of what should have been done with the obvious eggs to make them more challenging (i.e. "This hat should be turned over so I can't see the egg at all. This is way too easy.").
I think next year, the Easter Bunny's male helper will have to hide the eggs, because the female helper is apparently not tricky enough. After breakfast, we went to an Easter service at our new church up in Battle Ground, which we are liking very much. Then we went to Sweet Tomatoes for a yummy brunch. I had been planning an Easter ham for dinner, but Jeremy got word that the afternoon and evening were going to be quite busy for the tug company. Almost as soon as we came home from lunch, he had to go to work and he was gone until it was nearly the boys' bedtime, so I'm really glad we decided to have a nice lunch together as a family before he left. It was a very pleasant day.
The day before Easter was a very full and fun day. We went to Big Al's bowling alley in Vancouver for an "egg hunt." Turns out they just throw a pile of eggs in the middle of a circle of kids and then say "Go!" and it's every kid for himself. The boys had fun and successfully wrangled a number of eggs, so it was fun anyway. After the egg hunt, we saw the "Easter Bunny mascot." The boys declined to have their picture taken with him, saying, "that's too silly." They did enjoy watching a balloon artist making "anything in the whole world" - Taylor even thought he could've made a world out of a balloon if only Taylor had thought to ask for one. They were both quite impressed and Aric has a new career track in mind. :-)

We went to the park for a few minutes to try to practice batting, but it was so windy that the ball wouldn't stay on the tee. We came home and took advantage of the very windy day by flying kites. Grandma & Grandpa had purchased little kites for each of the boys at the Kite Festival in Long Beach, WA last fall. Taylor & Aric ran around and pulled the kites behind them, having a great time until they were "all out of air."

We also spent some time coloring and stickering eggs the day before Easter. It was a very fun day.

In ongoing house news, the electrician starts his work today, so hopefully by the end of this week, we'll have electricity inside the house again. :-) We were hoping and planning to have all the plumbing done before we did the electrical, but that hasn't quite happened. Jeremy's plugging away and getting closer all the time, and the parts that aren't done yet shouldn't interfere with the electrical installation, so we'll just keep working on plumbing before, during, and after they do the electrical. Here is an exciting picture. I'm standing in our dining room looking at the kitchen area. The half wall is where our eating bar will be. Jeremy has all the windows in their final positions now. It's really shaping up, isn't it? You can see the pantry behind the kitchen area and the guest bathroom past the pantry, then the garage past all the framing. Having a "see-through house" makes it fairly easy to explain things. :-) We're also excited about our master bathroom. We acquired an oversized 6-foot soaking tub on Craisglist, and I can't wait to soak in a tub built for tall people. People often complain about being short, and I do like being on the tall side, but when it comes to bathing and finding pants that are long enough, short people definitely have it easier. :-)
I think that's all the news for now. Ascha's still doing great and the pregnancy is going fairly well. She'll be here in about 95 days, give or take, and we're hoping to get this house project done and be all moved in before she makes her entrance, so we've got a lot to do. I must say (yet again, but it's so true) that I'm SO thankful to have such a handy and hardworking husband!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pre-Easter Fun and Plumbing Progress

Last Saturday we joined some friends in Newberg, OR for an Easter Egg Hunt. There were 13 little "hunters" wandering around, all under the age of 6. Taylor was the oldest and I think that might have had something to do with his achievement of finding the most eggs. Aric was tied for second, so they each got to take home an extra prize. It was a LOT of fun and they are so excited for more egg hunts this weekend.

Jeremy's been doing a lot of plumbing work recently. It's been slow going, as he's had to cut through a lot of concrete in order to access old lines and install new ones. We've been ambitious in our planning, moving pretty much every piece of plumbing in the house. Jeremy has been bravely tackling this huge project with high hopes for completing it quite quickly. Here's a picture of what will be our main floor bath. We've got a shower (so once we actually live in this house, we'll be happy to have overnight guests make the drive and stay awhile with us!), then to the right of that will be a toilet. About where I'm standing, the sink will be on the righthand wall. Right now it's all kinda undone while we wait for the plumbing to be inspected. Then Jeremy can finish out this section of floor, which he's had to build up from the level of the garage to match the rest of the main level.

Just outside this bathroom is a "mud room"/entryway from the garage where the kids (OK, OK - and the grownups, too) will be able to dump coats and muddy shoes without them being in the way. That floor is all built up and the wall separating it from the garage is built. (Yay, Jeremy!) It's hard to tell what you're looking at in this picture, but that shower is visible in the back corner and the wide opening just to the right of center is where our garage entrance will be. You can kinda make out (maybe, if you're creative :-) how we'll enter and have a mud room here, with the bathroom to our right. Then the hallway will open in front of us, extending past the family room (on the left) and kitchen (on the right) and dumping us into the formal living room / dining room area.
Here is a peek downstairs. Jeremy has spent many hours cutting that trench to the right of the picture (sorry it's a bit dark and hard to see down there). We are moving the bathroom into its own space from the tiny room where it used to be combined with the washer/dryer/water heater room. That means all the plumbing used to stop in the middle of the picture where you see that pipe sticking up. Jeremy's replacing it all and moving it all the way to the very back wall, where the kids' bathroom will be. It's been a long arduous process and he's not there yet, but he's doing good and keeps consistently moving forward on it. It's exhausting work for him, and I'm so thankful he's willing to do all of this to make the space nicer for our family. I'm also thankful he's such a quick, competent learner (the Home Depot plumbing book has been an invaluable resource).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A New Accomplishment, A Visit, A Roof

Taylor removed the training wheels from his bike last week. He still needs to gain a bit of confidence on starting himself, but he's an excellent little bike rider. He got to use Daddy's tools to remove the training wheels all by himself.

Then we went to the park, where Daddy & Grumpy helped him get going, then sprinted to try to keep up! :-)

Aric enjoyed spinning in circles at the park that day.

Obviously, Grumpy was out for a visit, and so was Grammy. They stayed for about a week and went back to MT on Sunday. We had a wonderful time while they were here! Grammy and I and the boys played a lot and Grumpy and Daddy worked on the house a lot and played a little.

Here we are at the Vista House. The boys hadn't ever gotten to go up on the balcony before, so it was an exciting visit for them.

While in the Columbia Gorge on a beautiful day, who could resist a hike? We walked down to the Bridal Veil Falls viewing platform, where my mom snapped this shot of Taylor looking like himself (no cheesy camera smile).

On another beautiful day, we walked up to an overlook near our apartment where you can see the River, the airport, and a nearby rock quarry. It's a favorite place for my boys with their love of heavy equipment. We could stand there all day watching the giant dump trucks and loaders. Of course, since the boys are "outdoorsmen," we have to be prepared and bring a backpack full of "supplies" (in this case, cupcakes and water bottles). You never know when you might get thirsty on the [very short] trail!

One more hike on one more beautiful day...this time, we even convinced Jeremy to take a breather from work on the house and come with us. We went to Lucia Falls (NE of Battle Ground) and walked around. It's an easy place to get to and there isn't much hiking to be done, but the guys all made their way farther than we've ever gone out onto the rock outcroppings in the middle of the East Fork of the Lewis River. It's a place where the salmon come to spawn, so we're gonna try to revisit it while they're running. It's really neat to be able to stand right over these pools and waterfalls and we hope to show the boys what a salmon run looks like sometime soon.

As you might be able to tell from this picture, Ascha's taking up more and more room in my belly all the time. We are now in the 24th week (out of 40 weeks of pregnancy), so we're nearly done with the second trimester. We are so thankful she seems to be growing healthy and strong, and we can't wait to meet her.

You might have noticed a weather trend in the above pictures -- gorgeous, sunny days. We were so blessed last week to have a dry warm spell. The forecast kept predicting showers, but they never really happened, and our roofer was able to reroof the entire house in dry weather. It was an unexpected blessing and we are so pleased to have a roof that doesn't leak! Here is a picture of the front of the house with the new roof and the gutters.

Here's another sampling of our progress on the inside of the house. This is a new wall we're placing between the formal living room (where I'm standing) and the dining room (where the sliding glass door is). We'll have an 8 foot opening on the lefthand side and a 5.5 foot opening on the righthand side, so it should still be very light and airy, but with a bit more distinction between the different living spaces.

Another exciting project Dad & Jeremy accomplished was the building of a new floor. This section of hallway didn't used to exist and it was all part of a converted garage which had become a sunken family room. The guys built up a new floor so it matches the level of the rest of the house, put in this little desk nook on the left side of the picture, and framed walls around the hallway. You can see the opening to my pantry in the right foreground, and the wider opening where Jeremy is standing is going to be one of the openings into our kitchen area.

Although there is still a long way to go, it's so exciting to see progress every single time I go to the house. I am so thankful for my handy husband and for all the help people are giving us with this project (THANKS, DAD!). Jeremy is upriver this week, and then he'll spend next week tying up some loose ends (two more windows to move, building up the floor in our new bathroom area to match the hallway floor, a bit of framing) and figuring out how to move plumbing in concrete, and then it'll hopefully be time for the electrician to come wire everything. Once that occurs, we'll be ready to insulate and sheetrock the walls. At that point, it will truly seem like a house again, and we're hopefully only a few weeks away!!! I think we'll try to get a bit more than that done before we leave our apartment and move in, but if we chose to, we could move in at that point, given a working bathroom. Unfortunately, our kitchen cabinets aren't going to arrive until April, so we probably won't move in until the end of April, or maybe even May, but still, that's not too far down the road.

A few other tidbits: ~Taylor is starting T-Ball this Saturday in Battle Ground. We're pretty excited about our first foray into "real" organized sports and hope this is a good learning experience and that he can make some new friends in our new town this way.
~We've met a number of our neighbors, and they all seem incredibly nice. We even have close neighbors with kids the same ages as ours, so we're feeling really blessed to have some "built-in" playmates.
~Aric's full of silly sayings, as usual. We drove down to Salem to visit some friends a few weeks ago, and on the way we passed a plant that burns garbage to generate electricity. There's a big red- and white-striped smokestack and the boys always notice it. Aric was excitedly pointing it out, so I thought I'd see what he remembered from our last trip. I asked what was burning in the smokestack, and he said "Garbage." Then I asked him what they turn the garbage into, and without missing a beat, he said "Marshmallows." I think it might have something to do with the whole concept of "Junk Food," but I'm sure thankful the "garbage" we eat is food grade. :-)