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Idaho-Playing Around

Idaho-Playing Around

Hooray for our annual summer trip to Idaho.  There are always fun things going on when grandma and grandpa are around!

Katya was the official fish feeder, taking her duties very seriously twice a day.  She also got to add some new goldfish to the pond, hopefully to rebuild the school after a neighborhood cat interfered!!

One of our fun days was spent at a local amusement park of sorts.  Unlike the big city parks with tons of lines, big crowds, and lots of scary rides, this one was nearly empty.  There were only a few things to do, but we got to do everything as much as we liked.  Katya was the only driver on the little kid go-cart course!


We all had fun driving the bigger go-carts and did that a few times.  We also spent some time in the batting cages–even grandma and mommy did a pretty good job!


This huge spinning see-saw provided fun for everyone.  I think Nathan was the best at catching and ringing the bell way up in the air!


We also had a picnic there, squirted each other with the bumper boats, and even managed to squeeze in 9 holes of mini golf.

The next day was full of nautical adventure.  First we headed to the Snake River for a delightful canoe ride.  Nathan is actually getting to be a pretty good paddler!


Katya still doesn’t help much with the rowing, but she is in charge of spotting birds and dangling things in the water.


We paddled to an island in the middle of the river and it was fun to see how far out everyone could wade on the shallow side.


After a quick lunch at our favorite local Mexican fast food, we continued the maritime theme with a visit to the pirate exhibit at the local museum.  It was very well presented, full of interesting facts and artifacts both real and recreated.  There was also some information about how this pirate ship was unearthed and the items in it recovered from their long sojourn under the sea.


No trip to Idaho would feel right without several visits to Reed’s Dairy, of course–still the best ice cream ever.


And still lots of fun to see the cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and donkey.  This trip we also got to see miniature horses owned by one of the doctors mom works with.  They were really pretty!


We also enjoyed playing games, spending time talking, and doing craft projects–check out Katya’s cool Sharpie-tie-dye hat.  (Nathan made one too, as did grandma and mom.)


There is nothing quite like going “home” again.

On the Street Where You Live

On the Street Where You Live

“I have often walked down this street before…”

(Now that you have a song from My Fair Lady stuck in your head, you can read this post.)

Sometimes I forget how good it is to just get outside.  A few weeks ago I took the kids for a walk, spurred on with the promise that they could photograph anything they wanted while we were out.  We need to do more of that–everybody had fun.  Here’s what we found on the streets where we live…






Catching Up-The Basement

Catching Up-The Basement

Other than Christmas, the major event of our Christmas break was the re-construction of the basement.  Than was able to use his remaining vacation days of the year to completely repair all of the damage done by the flood in November.  Pergo, trim, wainscoting, chair rail, door frames, caulking, tile, touch up—he labored and labored, with help from his dad and my dad and some friends from church, until the basement was back to where it used to be.  I am amazed by his skill, his patience, and his persistence in getting it right without letting perfectionism become an obsession that hurt our family time over the holidays.  Look at the progress…

Here is what the basement used to look like:




Then the water came…



Next came the restoration company with their dehumidifiers and heaters and drywall saws…



Now, enter my intrepid husband (and a surprisingly helpful, at times, daughter too!)  He was joined at various points by his dad, my dad, and a few friends from church.


Drywall patched, then floors beginning to return…


And a family art moment where we decorated the old linoleum tiles with Sharpie markers before covering them up.  Hopefully we will not rediscover our work, but can leave that fun to some far-in-the-future remodeler!


Now all the wood floor done–no easy task, starting in the corner of my office and making it lock together continuously all the way through the main room and down the hall to the spare bedroom!


And then, by Christmas Day…



The guest bedroom and bathroom still weren’t finished…


But by the first week of 2014, we had…



The work is done and we are happily settled back in.  All in all, it was just shy of two months from the flood date to the “work finished” declaration.  Our receipts are submitted and we are praying for favor with the powers that be who are deciding what to do by way of restitution.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!


Changing the View

Changing the View

As I was downloading the flood pictures (see this previous post, or watch a video of me walking through the mess) I realized there were some other photos on the camera from a few weeks ago.  Thinking about the drama of the damaged basement, I realized they captured some of how I am thinking and feeling about things.

In the wake of the upheaval, chaos, disruption, and loss, sometimes I see this…


Things have been destroyed.  My happy green office is no longer the place where I am sitting to write and create and think.  There is a long road of repair ahead and a battle to find resources to pay for it.  Holiday traditions have been disrupted.  The upstairs feels crowded.  My home is not the calm, peaceful, settled place I love.  The hard work of my loving family has been cut out of the walls, ripped off the floor, and thrown away.

However, I can also stand in the exact same place and see this…


People have been kind and concerned, thoughtful and compassionate.  Nothing irreplaceable was lost.  My kids are happy and healthy, no one was hurt.  I live in a country where there are laws that can still help, and we have time and knowledge and resources to cope and rebuild.

Sometimes I’m so sad, looking at the dead stuff.  Sometimes I am deeply encouraged and grateful, looking at the sky.  Most of the time, though, I am somewhere in the middle, just standing in this moment, making it through the “right now” and looking for the grace I will need again tomorrow…


A Bit of a Flood…

A Bit of a Flood…

A few weeks ago, I posted some photos of the flooding from our rainy Colorado fall.  Little did I know that I would soon have some more photos to share that hit closer to home!

Last week I was home as usual on a Thursday morning, waiting for my first student to arrive.  She arrive just a little late, and explained that she had parked her car at the bottom of the street and walked up because our street seemed to be flooding!  Sure enough, the water main right in front of my house had broken and water was flowing down the street.  Several neighbors were also out looking at it, so we peeked into the rapidly forming hole before heading inside for the lesson.  Right at the end of our time together, I was startled to hear a loud water rushing sound.  We raced downstairs to find water gushing out of my basement bathroom!  I was shocked and startled and had no idea what to do!  I tried to mop it up with some towels but that soon proved to be completely futile, as the water was continuing to pour out rapidly.  My student and I grabbed a few things to save them from the water and I ran back out into the street to see what was happening.


By that time, a retired Denver Water employee who lives nearby was on the scene and he had the presence of mind to call the city and get the water turned off, not something I had thought of yet. I did call Than, who raced home to help. By the time the water stopped flowing, my basement was ankle deep in freezing cold (but fortunately fairly clean) water.


The rest of the day was a blur of cancelled lessons, restoration crews, and a big big mess!!!  All the water and sewer was turned off on our block overnight while crews worked very hard to repair the damage in the street.  We took refuge at my in-laws’ house, grateful for dinner and toilets that flushed and some calm.  By the next day, the restoration crew had finished drying everything out in the basement, removed all the damaged flooring, and cut off the wet drywall.


They left fans and heaters and de-humidifiers running over the weekend, so now we are looking at our deconstructed basement and praying for wisdom on what to do next.


By the way, the kids are doing OK.  They were both upset (especially Katya) when they first arrived back at the house, but have adjusted to the chaos and are even enjoying using the displaced couch cushions to make lots of cool forts and play spaces in their rooms!



I will certainly let you know what happens next in this crazy episode, and will probably wax philosophical about my thoughts and feelings in a later post.  Wow, what a weekend!

A New Look

A New Look

When you realize that your kitchen counter looks like this…


…it is time to take some action.  After months of deliberation, advice, decision making, saving, and waiting, we finally got a call that our new kitchen counters were in.  Than went to work immediately!


Out came the old counters, off came the old tile, and in came a big trash can and the Shop Vac.


After a hard day’s work (more for Than than for the rest of us), we were down to this…


Bright and early the next morning, I did what any woman with a choice would do–went out to visit friends while Than stayed home with both kids and worked!  Not very fair, I admit, but oh-so-nice while Than and our kitchen contractor (a man I would highly recommend, by the way, if you need any work done) banged and hauled and fitted and tiled.  I did come home after a few hours to feed and entertain the kids while the work continued.  (Turns out an old sink is a new toy–amazing, right?!)


Much to my amazement, by 9:00 that evening I could put everything back in its place in my gorgeous new kitchen!!!  It is much better in person, and I’ve already had dinner guests twice, so please come by and have a look.  In case you can’t, here are a few before-and-after photos.

A VERY old (and unusually messy) before shot, from long before we painted…




And now…


Old sink…



New sink (stainless steel, much bigger, and with a seamless edge)…



And one more overall shot from before…



And after…


My sister’s long-distance design advice was invaluable, and I am also thankful for the extra job that helped pay the bills, our contractor who did excellent fast work, and my husband who labored long and hard to make this happen.  I LOVE IT!!!


Before and After

Before and After

Nathan started with this…


After 3.5 hours of work one Saturday morning (with the help of Katya and mom), he ended up with this…


Now, two weeks later, it still looks that way!!  So far, so good…

(Katya did hers two weeks earlier, and has kept it tidy since then.  I like going in their rooms so much more, and they like them a lot better as well.)


Random Quote

Random Quote

Her heart sang all the way because she was going home to a joyous house…a house where everyone who crosses its threshold knew it was a home…a house that was filled all the time with laughter and silver mugs and snapshots and babies…precious things with curls and chubby knees…and rooms that would welcome her…where the chairs waited patiently and the dresses in her closet were expecting her…where little anniversaries were always being celebrated and little secrets were always being whispered.  –L. M. Montgomery, in Pat of Silver Bush

L. M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors, and I love the way this quote captures so much of what I think a home should feel like.  I hope my family feels this way about our house–a place where everyone who crosses the threshold knows it is a home.

Fall is Really Here!

Fall is Really Here!

Yesterday there was something in my front yard that looked like this…

Last night we pulled in the green tomatoes, clipped all the blossoms, and re-potted the herbs into the windowsill, because today, we woke up to this…

I love living in Colorado with dramatic seasons!!  (Especially knowing it will probably be 70 degrees again next week…)

Random Quote

Random Quote

For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.  –Benjamin Franklin

Although I don’t know if this is true, I wish it were!  I’m not good at cleaning, but I do like to organize things.  Sorting…categorizing…storing…re-arranging…maybe that earns me a little time, even if it isn’t 60 minutes for every minute spent.  Or maybe I “earn” extra time and use it right up organizing some more!!  In any case, it is helpful to have things put away and to know how they fit together.  Organizing is at least a way for me to feel more creative and productive, ready to tackle the next task.