20 August 2014

I Scream, You Scream

We just returned from our annual summer trip to the shores of Lake Michigan. Our luggage is full of sand and our hearts are full of memories.

It's a tad overwhelming to sort through hundreds of beach pictures, so I'll start with one of our favorite Michigan pastimes; visiting the ice cream stand, where there are endless combinations of cold treats.

There aren't ice cream stands where we live, so the tradition of hitting up the Frosty Oasis is always top on our priority list.

Especially when the outing coincides with the golden hour of sunlight.
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05 August 2014

Summering iPhonegraphy Style

July was our month for living up summer with no vacations on the agenda. We definitely did not lack in the number of outings we fit in. Even though it got a little too busy for my liking sometimes, I'm glad that at the end of the summer, we'll be able to say that we both worked and played to the fullest extent.

The boys fell into a good system of accomplishing some homework and chores each morning with a new family system we implemented. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard for me to see them lazing around in front of a screen unless they've accomplished a few things that feel productive. 

We lived in the water whenever possible. We pool hopped from our neighbor's pool to the community pool to my brother's apartment pool to the waterpark pool to the swimming lessons pool. Anything to cool down in the crazy summer heat.

Crew cheerfully toted along while I tried to make the days fun for the older boys. I was happy to discover that he shares my love for all things nautical.

We put the boys to work to clean up our SUV, sold it, and officially became a minivan family. My cool factor definitely went down several notches, but the boys are delighted about our new (used) mode of transportation. At least we can all come home from the hospital in one car. 


We had to pick Troy up from work a couple of times because we were shuffling vehicles. Blake and Nash couldn't have been more eager to wait as close as possible to the doors and run to their dad at the first sighting. We headed up to a park in Park City one of the evenings to take a break from all of the vehicle arrangements.

Our friends from Colorado stayed with us for a weekend and of course wanted to soak in the beauty of Temple Square. We ate at a restaurant overlooking the temple and I kicked myself for not having my nice camera with me as we strolled the grounds afterwards. I'm always amazed by the upkeep and variety of flowers.


Troy had the opportunity to go to Girls' Camp again this year with the Bishopric. It looks like they had a completely serious and mature evening...
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My mom took Blake to see his first play at our local professional theater while we were in New York and Troy and I went a few weeks later. Our cousin played the lead in Mary Poppins and she was phenomenal. I'm not sure what Blake was more thrilled about; all of the moving sets onstage or the fact that Mary Poppins knew his name and greeted him after the production. Summer wouldn't be summer without a few summer dollar movies with friends thrown into the mix as well. The boys didn't actually see Guardians of the Galaxy, but they were sure excited to view some of their favorite family friendly movies.

We played with friends from school a few times as well. One of our outings in particular was challenged by rain clouds, but the boys were grinning from ear to ear when we let them play in the mud. Crew slipped and fell into a puddle almost instantly upon walking outside, so I thought, why not? What is childhood without a little dirt every now and then?
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Add in our weekly library trips, boating, reunion-ing, doctor and dentist visiting, book clubbing and working towards our goal of visiting 20 parks this summer, and we had a pretty full month. Summer is exhausting in a whole different way than the school year, but I wouldn't trade our hot school-free days for anything. 

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31 July 2014

More Home Updates

I hosted book club at the end of May and it became my deadline for some home improvement projects. My friends had of course seen our house in its pre-makeover state, but having a deadline gave me the drive to finish three huge projects by the end of the school year (not the most ideal timing).

I went gung ho on refinishing our banisters, and while I was at it, I tackled the dining room and half bath as well.

Most of our house is dated and long overdue for a makeover, but these two areas in particular were driving me nuts.

The dining room was the only room we left white after painting the rest of our main floor gray last spring, so it was time to add a fresh coat of paint of Sherwin Williams Argos.
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Especially because this is what it looked like before.
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Of course, after I painted the walls, I had to design some new prints to hang as well. I put together a collection of some of our family's meaningful locations, songs, numbers and memories.
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I couldn't stop there. I made some new curtains too. I painted stripes on long white curtains to match the ones I did in our living room a year ago and added small curtains on the opposite wall with fabric from Tonic Living.
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Before:
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After:
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So much better. Since I was on a roll, I tackled the room that needed the most work as well; the half bath.

Looking at the before pictures makes me cringe a little bit. Apparently, maroon walls were in six plus years ago. And those brass knobs have long since been replaced.
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It was no picnic to prime and paint over those dark walls. And to have to repaint the entire ceiling because there were maroon marks everywhere.
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But the end result was more than worth it.
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I searched high and low for billy button flowers and finally found them on Etsy.
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The before vanity look was not pretty.
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I framed the builder grade mirror by cutting molding into four pieces at 45 degree angles. I glued them right on the mirror and puttied/sanded the corners. After sufficiently taping the frame to the wall and letting the glue dry for a few days, I painted it white. 

And of course, those orange oak cabinets desperately needed a coat of white. With the final additions of an updated light fixture and a replacement faucet, it all came together.
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I was still ripping off tape and putting everything back together the day before I hosted book club, but I made that deadline just in the nick of time.

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30 July 2014

Water Canyons

We made our annual trip to the water canyons downtown.
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We've gone to the same park with the same friends for four summers straight. We made sure to put it on the calendar weeks in advance to ensure that the summer didn't pass us by without our annual tradition. In four years, this group of children has doubled.
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My friend and I have been alternating having baby boys exactly nine months apart for the last two years. Our new baby will even follow suit. We are both insisting that this trend is not going to continue. We are more than ready for a pregnancy break.
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All of those baby boys sure are sweet with each other though.
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My friend and her family almost moved away this year, and while it would have been great for them, I'm so glad they're still here. Book club just would not have been the same without her. And I'm happy we can continue this fun summer tradition as well.

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