Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Busy couple of days

Between me flying, planned vacations, kids in preschool/day care 3 days a week, and a few other summer fun activities, squeezing in trips to the Tri-Cities can be difficult. But that's just what Riley and I did on Monday, we squeezed in a quick, less than 24 hour trip (of actual time in the Tri) to the attend my sister-in-law's baby shower Monday evening. We left Portland at 9:45am Monday morning and were home again by 3pm on Tuesday! In that time, we stopped and had lunch, visited with my mom and grandma, attended the shower, visited with my dad and step-mom, slept (barely), got a chance to see my good friend Courtney's new (and amazing!) house and chat for a bit, and then drive home just in time for me to shower and head out the door to an early 6pm showing of Eclipse with some amazing women. Whew! I loved getting a chance to see my family, even if it was brief, and spending such quality "Girl Time" with my beautiful daughter. She was pretty excited about our trip too, and she was on her best behavior! (She also consumed WAY more sugar than she ever should in a 24 hour period of time, but she worked it off in laughter and swimming!)

Riley at the shower- that little box was filled with candy... hence all the sugar consumption! :)
(She is also still wearing some of her pizza on her face!)

Lauren, my sister-in-law.
She is due with the first grandchild that will carry the Burt name. :)

Finally, we get to go swimming- after a couple hours of begging!

The girls swam for nearly 2 hours, and we had to drag them out of the pool- purple lips, shivers, and all!

The only thing missing from my trip was a stop in at Bruchi's for my favorite chicken cheesesteak sandwich... silly Weight Watchers! I'm sure one of those sandwiches would account for an entire day's worth of Points... but, it would have been worth it! :)

I'm also tacking on a few more photos of the backyard, some we took in the morning when the sun was shining!

I think these photos turned out way better than the others!

Hopefully I'll get pictures of the front yard in the next couple of days!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The backyard

After over 2 months of work (mainly due to the ridiculous rain we had in May and early June), our yard, back and front, are finally complete! Here are some before and after shots of the back... front yard photos to come.



The play structure before Rick re-stained it, and it was moved from the west side of the house to the east corner of the yard.

And the "new" play structure:

This was the east corner of the yard, with part of the play structure set up.

And now:







(Before adding the trampoline)
And a few other "After" photos:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Today is a good day.

No particular reason, just another day to be thankful for and feel blessed.

The school year is winding down, and Rick only has 1 1/2 more days with students and then a final work day on Monday to wrap up the year. Summer is suppose to be here, although the cloudy skies, rain, and wind aren't really screaming summer here in the greater Portland area. I hear it was sunny and warm last weekend, but of course I was traveling and missed it! :) Our backyard will be ready to walk on by the end of the weekend and the rest of the yard should be finished by then, too- so, hopefully I'll have some amazing pictures to post and we'll have some wonderful weather to be able to enjoy it!

On Friday, the kids begin a summer of fun at a preschool/child care facility near our home, in their Summer Program. Each week has a different theme, so the kids should have fun learning while meeting new friends and getting used the facility. They begin there full-time in the fall, so we decided a few days a week through the summer would be a great way to ease them into their new school, give Rick a little break while I'm traveling, and also give Rick and I both a chance to get projects done around the house and enjoy some daytime dates. We haven't golfed since our first summer dating, so golfing is high on our activity to-do list, and we'll be able to go on bike rides and runs together- I can't wait!!

Earlier today I was able to go visit the class of 5th graders I taught during student teaching, which was so much fun! I haven't been to see them since my last day in May, so I was excited to spend an hour with them on their last day as 5th graders. They were so surprised and happy to see me, which only reminded me of the amazing experience I had student teaching. I can only hope to be lucky enough to have a similar group of my own someday!

A couple of updates on my goals: I have been successful at working out most days and can already notice a difference in the way I feel. I love that although I am still training for the marathon in October, my main focus for staying in shape has shifted from running to an overall body shape-up. I've discovered Exercise TV on our Comcast On Demand, which has perfect workouts I can do during naps. Then I can still run 2-3 days a week, which I love! I also signed up for Weight Watchers online on Monday, to help guide me a little in the area of nutrition. So far I am really pleased with it, and love the iPhone app I can use to stay on track and look up Points. Thanks to Jill and my mom for the suggestion! Hopefully I'll be able to share my successes in the weeks and months to come!

Finally, I have to share with you my newest television obsession: Mad Men!! My cooperating teacher introduced me to it back in April by lending me her Season 1 DVDs. It took me a while to watch all 13 episodes due to lack of time, but I finally finished them and moved onto Season 2. Now that I'm flying again, watching Season 2 has been perfect way to pass the time while commuting- which is why I flew through them in no time! I'm all ready for Season 3 to arrive by Netflix this Friday, and I'll finish them just in time to enjoy Season 4 in real time on AMC. I love everything about the show- the costumes, the characters, the eccentric lifestyle, and the 60's history they weave into the storylines, like the election of JFK, Marilyn Monroe's passing, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. I love losing myself in the world of Don Draper and Sterling Cooper advertising, and I can't wait to see what Season 3 has to deliver!

Alright, enough rambling for this post! How do you like the new layout? A nod to my running goals for this summer/fall!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The photo that started it all...

Let me be clear...

I am not pregnant- contrary to what it may look like in this photo of me, taken on Mother's Day.

Don't get me wrong, this is a cute picture of Rick and I. We're both smiling and very happy. I love the color of the shirt I am wearing, and I love the necklace and earings even more. The problem is the type of shirt I'm wearing- a peasant shirt- which looks an awful lot like a maternity shirt. Especially when you're packing an extra 10-15 pounds around the mid-section- as I have been lately.

I'm going to place an equal amount of blame on my own laziness, the hectic season of student teaching, and the crappy weather we've had in Portland all winter/spring. I barely ran at all (like maybe 2-3 times) the whole time I was student teaching, I was sick with some sort of cold or another pretty much constantly, and the stress of the whole thing didn't help much either. It was a perfect storm. And in that perfect storm, I gained 15 pounds... since December! YIKES!

I knew my clothes were slowing getting a tad bit tighter, but that's what Spanx are for, right?

I knew I wasn't feeling 100%, and I was constantly tired and sluggish.

I knew that the number on the scale was creeping up... but that pound at time didn't seems to matter until one day those single pounds equaled 15.

It wasn't until I saw the photo above that I decided enough was enough. It was time to reclaim my health and waistline... but mainly my health (mental, emotional, AND physical). I mean, getting winded while carrying Cooper up the stairs- really???

So, around my birthday, I decided that rather than having New Year's resolutions on January 1st, I was going to have New Me Resolutions on June 1st! And when I say New Me, I mean the whole me, and not just my weight. I have been unhealthy in all areas by allowing myself to get overstressed, wearing myself too thin, and not leaving enough time to enjoy some "me" time or enjoy the simpler things in life.

Here are a few of the things/goals/resolutions that I have been/will be working on:
  • Wash my face before bed every night/don't sleep in make-up (see, I told you- laziness).
  • Drink less Diet Dr. Pepper and WAY more water.
  • Drink less beer and more red wine... (OK, not more red wine, but choose it instead of beer).
  • Do something active every single day, especially on overnights, when I don't have the excuse of kids being around.
  • Cross train more this time around while training for the marathon... On "off" running days, choose something like biking, swimming, a workout video, or simply taking a walk, rather than just doing nothing.
  • Make smarter choices when it comes to meals- what to eat AND portion sizes.
  • Spend more time doing fun things with Rick and the kids on the days I am home from trips, and less time worrying about housework.
  • Do not spend the last day before I am suppose to leave on a trip, or the day of, running around cleaning house and trying to finish laundry- do all that 2 days before I leave. Then I can concentrate more on the item listed above.
  • Go on more early morning runs or work out first thing, rather than waiting until naptime or when Rick gets home. Otherwise I blow it off for something more enticing like a show on DVR or blog updating... :)
  • Have a dinner planned out earlier in the day or day before, so that when said-dinner time rolls around and the kids are being grumpy and I'm tired and don't want to cook, an unhealthy option doesn't end up being more "convenient".
  • Spend more time playing games or playing outside with Rick and the kids and less time with the television on- something that will become a lot easier when our backyard is done and the sky quits raining!!
So, I know it seems like a really long list, but I think it is manageable... I've been doing pretty well so far on most of it- but lets be honest, it's only been a little over a week and I'm human! I did manage to go on an almost 4 mile run twice in the past week in unfavorable conditions- first on an evening when it was pouring rain and I got soaked and the other was yesterday morning at 5:45am. Yet, then I failed on the healthy dinner option last night (we had pizza) and I failed again today, saving my workout for naptime (yet, here I am blogging instead). Baby steps.

I hope you can all help keep me accountable a little bit. And I'd also like to know- What are some goals/resolutions you have set for yourself lately? Also, any great workout ideas so I don't get bored?? Please share goals or workout ideas in my comments section, thanks! :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Future cake-maker?

Who doesn't love spreading out the birthday love just a little bit longer?

Rick and I went out to dinner on my actual birthday and we didn't have any chocolate frosting in the house, so we opted to make a birthday cake the day after my birthday instead, as a way to celebrate with the kids.

(My all time favorite cake is a simple yellow cake with chocolate frosting.)

So, while Rick and I were on our date, Riley drew a picture of the cake she wanted to make for my birthday:
The little figure on the bottom left part of the cake (yellow face with eyes and a blue mouth) is Ariel. Riley decided I should have an Ariel cake for my birthday!

This is what we ended up with- not bad, right?
(We used the leftover princess cake decorations from her 3rd birthday- a castle candle and 5 of the princesses. :)

She was so excited!

She can plan my birthday theme any time- it's actually something she and Tyson talk about all the time. Tyson said just today that he wants a Dinosaur birthday next year.

I love her creative imagination and her warm heart!

And here are a couple of photos of the boys enjoying the cake!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Upstairs: Part II

Bonus/Play Room, Master Bedroom, & Bathrooms

The bonus room was given a movie theme- so fun!
The room contains the sectional from our old family room, the shelving unit we had in the playroom, and the kids' activity table. The red chairs and rug are from the other house as well, and it's amazing how many movie themed pictures have red in them- the whole thing worked out really well!

I'm still amazed at how well everything fit into the room, almost like it was bought especially for this space!
(which of course, it wasn't)
The little kitchen set Riley got for her birthday also has red and I love the lampshade we found at Target.

Those two sets of doors on the left side of the hallway are both storage closets- I LOVE having so much storage! A goal for this summer is to really organize them- we pretty much just unpacked into them in December quickly without really making the best use of the space.

Some of the movie decor' my mom found along the way:
LOVE this old movie camera and the book, Romeo and Juliet, doubles as a movie case/remote holder!

This old movie reel and sign are great, too! The kids love it when we pop some popcorn, turn off all the lights, and turn the room into a "Movie Theater". :)

And I found these two pictures at Blockbuster of all places- on clearance for $8 a piece.

It's just a cozy little room- the perfect play area/family room for the upstairs!

This is the upstairs hallway, our bedroom doors are on the right, the bathroom is straight ahead, and Riley's room is to the left of the linen closet.
We have a plan for that big empty wall- it will eventually contain a collage of family photos and such. Hopefully we'll have it complete by the end of summer! :)
(Are you noticing a "summer project" theme??)

The bathroom the kids use:
All the sinks in the house are waist high on adults, so stools at every sink are necessary for the kids to be able to use them.

And finally, the Master Bedroom

Pretty much the same bedding and decor' from the last house, with a few new additions to fill in the wall space.

It's fun having a sitting area in the room- this wicker loveseat was a steal from Pier 1, I found it on clearance for like $80 or something!

Double doors for both the bedroom and the entrance into the Master Bath, plus another built-in for the television with storage underneath.

And the Master Bathroom, which is pretty much ginormous.
(At least it feels that way compared to our previous bathroom.)

Maybe after I organize the space in the walk-in closet, I'll post pictures of it, too. But for now, it's the door on the right, next to the toilet room.
Thanks for taking the time to look through all the pictures of our home, I had fun photographing all of the rooms!

And to answer a couple of comments about how clean the house is:

Yes, Lisa Joy, I did a mad-dash clean-up one morning with the kids! The house was pretty much clean from my graduation weekend with family visiting, so I made the beds upstairs and took pictures quickly while the kids had breakfast. Then, I moved them into the playroom and ran around to photographed the downstairs! :)

I try to keep it straightened up most of the time, however we do have 3 kids! I at least like only one room to be thrashed with kids toys, we actually only keep a few things downstairs for the kids to play with, making it easier to straighten up. But the playroom/bonus room is the space that gets the least amount of attention- it's pretty much always in some phase of fun and play! Another "summer project" is to go through all the toys and do some serious streamlining- maybe even figure out a rotation system so the kids don't have time to get too bored with the toys they do have.

I try to make at least our bed every single day, open all of the shades to let the natural light in, keep dishes out of the sink when possible, and avoid getting piles of clutter on any of the counter spaces. Try being the operative word... these are not ALWAYS things, but a most of the time things. Luckily, Rick and I both love having a clean and organized space to live in, so we both work at keeping it up! Starting in the fall, the kids will be in daycare full-time and I think keeping up with the house will seem a whole lot easier then!

The garage is another "summer project", getting the third car space cleared out and Rick would love to get an organization system going similar to our previous house. We are also in the midst of having our backyard redone... a process that is taking FOREVER because of all this stinking rain we've been having! The new patio is in, the retaining wall is finished, most of the landscaping is at least set out and ready to be planted and much of it is already in place, they have moved the play structure from the side of the house to another area in the backyard, put in the lights and a french drain in the lawn to avoid the mud puddles we were getting in the grass before. Now we are just waiting patiently for the rain to let up to get the grass put in and the final touches to be done. It will be so nice to have a place for the kids to play again- this process has been going on for nearly 6 weeks now thanks to the wettest May I have ever seen! I will certainly be posting before and after pictures of the yard when it is ready!

I still wake up most every morning and wonder how we were lucky enough to have found our dream home and actually get to live in it, too- I just feel so blessed and thankful!

For the rest of the house pictures, click here, here, and/or here!