Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26, 2011

Lately I am enjoying listening to the boys while they are playing, pretending and talking to themselves. It is so cute. As I type, Nick is playing alone with playdough and just talking away to himself. It is adorable and I wish I could just capture this moment in time and get to watch/listen to it again when he is older. Unfortunately, at this age we can no longer sneak up on them with a video camera and tape them without them knowing. I just heard Nick singing (he has a very high voice) and then stop and say "mom, it's no time for singing".

Ben is also playing right now and talking to himself as he plays, although I cannot hear him so well. He is playing with Batman and Joker and the Joker's hideout, which the boys recently bought after saving the money they earned from violin lessons and practicing. They were so proud of themselves for saving up for it.

One of my nieces just came for a short visit and we really enjoyed having her here. She played lots and lots of games with the boys, which they love, so they had a really fun time.

The house is coming along quite nicely. We are still on track for moving in mid-April. There is a lot of work going on right now. They are laying tile in the bathrooms and still have to finish the backsplash tile in the kitchen and laundry room. They are finishing up all of the painting work on the outside and are laying the stone for the headwalls at the entrance of the driveway, which are required in our neighborhood. They still have to lay the stone in the living room around the fireplace and the columns. In the middle of next week they are going to start sanding and finishing the floors so we won't be able to go in from Wednesday through the weekend. They will also be grading the yard and getting it ready for the sprinkler system and landscaping.

I had mentioned in the past that our new neighborhood has lots of boys. They were having spring break last week and we saw that some of the neighbor boys just behind us had put up tents so they could camp out in their backyard. The next day when I was at the house I notice one of the windows in the back of the house had a b-b-hole in it. The b-b broke through the outer pane of glass and hit the inner pane, cracking it, and it was laying inside of the window between the panes of glass. Our builder said he would talk to one of their parents to alert them to the b-b-gun activity.  The neighbors behind us and their sons are very nice people though and boys will be boys:). I'm sure when the parents hear what happened they will discuss it with their sons and try to prevent it from happening again. I'm actually more concerned about one of my sons or pets being shot than I am about the house or windows.

Just a short update today as it is lunch time and I need to feed the little guys. Hope you are having a great weekend. We are all doing great here, although we are still undecided about which church to join, which bugs me. I want to be settled. I will be praying about this though and hopefully we can make a decision soon. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15, 2011

We are all so tired. We have been running constantly, picking stuff out for the house and doing this and that, here and there, for the house. I never imagined that building a house would be so much work, especially when someone else is managing the actual building of the house. It really is amazing how much there is to do and how much time is required to do it all.

I picked out all of our light fixtures and was concerned that the light above the island would not be sufficient. Our builder confirmed that the other day, along with the light above the stairs, which hangs too long for the space. So, I have to go back and pick new ones for those two spots, along with the fixture above the kitchen table because it won't look right when I change out the one above the island. The two kitchen fixtures are the hardest ones for me.

We picked out all of the door and cabinet hardware yesterday. The guy from the store went to the house this morning and counted the number of pieces we needed and then we found out we are way over budget with that. So, I need to figure out what made us go over and determine what we need to do to mitigate this issue.

We are in the middle of picking out carpet for the upstairs, the downstairs bedrooms and the library. Fortunately the dear husband is taking the lead on this one and it has required a good amount of research work on his part. We think we have it narrowed down to two and either one is fine with me. He is doing the final research on these two. I am meeting the installer at the house tomorrow morning so they can measure all of the rooms that are to be carpeted.

The counter tops are suppose to be installed tomorrow and I am hoping the timing will work out so I can be there to watch. They have already laid the tile in the laundry room and are waiting for some tile to arrive tomorrow to do the other bathrooms.

The outside of the house is almost completed. I included some pictures below. The house looks kind of white-ish in the pics but it looks very different in real life. It is a very creamy color and turned out to be just perfect to match the rock. The stucco guys will finish up tomorrow and then there is some final painting to be done for the trim, garage doors, shutters, front door, etc. They also paint a thick coating of something on the brick.

We have given our notice for this rental house, that we will be moving at the end of April. We are hoping the new house will be done in mid-April, but I will be a little surprise if it is really done in four weeks. We'll see. I'm skeptical.

The husband and I have both agreed that we would likely never build a house again. It is just way too consuming. I feel blessed and fortunate to be able to do this but I also feel it has required us to put our lives on hold for quite a while. Everything has revolved around this house and it is really getting old. I am ready for our lives to get back to normal. I constantly feel bad that I am not doing enough teaching for the boys. We have not done any reading or writing lessons for quite a while now and we are doing good to practice the violin 3 days a week, although one day is a lesson so we don't practice that day anyway. Still, we should be practicing 5 days a week, very constantly, so it becomes a better habit. Also, I have not been good about teaching the boys to do their daily chores, which I know I will regret later. I just keep putting everything off thinking we will start once we have moved. Oh well. We are in the home stretch now so not too much longer and we'll be done.

Please forgive my complaining. I know we are very blessed to be able to do this and I do appreciate it. I'm just tired tonight. I don't think we have adjusted to the time change yet.

Here are a few of the latest pictures:

Friday, March 04, 2011

March 4, 2011

We have been so busy here lately that my head is spinning half the time. So, this post is a general update on what we have been up to lately.

My birthday was last week, which is always nice. Well, the part about getting gifts and attention is nice. The part about being a year older is only nice relative to the alternative. My mom's birthday is the day after mine and she and my sister came over and stayed the night with us. So we all celebrated my birthday and mom's birthday together and it was really nice. Every birthday celebration is more fun with children around. They get so excited about blowing out the candles, eating cake and opening gifts, even when it is not for them. It's too cute.

We went to Kansas City the week before last (did I already write about that?) We had an awesome time and the boys really enjoyed playing with the daughters of my friend, who are also from Volgograd Russia. All the kids really got along exceptionally well. They were all very cute together.

The boys are still growing, learning, changing daily (surprise!). Funny how that happens. They are getting so leggy lately and Nick's hair is really getting dark. For the past week or two, there are times when I look at him and have to look twice because he just looks so different to me. It seems to me that it has happened very suddenly.

We finally bought new bikes for the boys yesterday evening and they are so excited. Their old bikes are so small (12 inch) that Ben was actually having trouble riding sometimes because his knee would hit the handlebars and he was afraid it would make him have a wreck. Their new bikes are 16 inch and fit them perfectly. The small 12 inch bikes were excellent for allowing them to learn to ride without training wheels though. Those are the bikes that I bought off of Craigslist and one of them is a girl's bike. The boys still did not give a hoot that one was a girl's bike though. If the subject came up, they thought it was funny that they had a girl's bike. Other than that, I don't think they ever thought about it. But they are both very happy to now have their own new bike. I found them at Academy Sports for $35 each a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, by the time we decided to go ahead and get them (we had thought about waiting until we moved), the price had changed to $49. But the funny thing was that the price had gone from $35 to $42 to $49 and, when they changed the price from $42 to $49, they only changed it on one bike that was hanging on the second row up. Hanging on the third row up, were 7 or 8 bikes that still had the $42 price tag on them. So I found someone to help me get them down and I told him that I wanted two of the $42 bikes on the third row up. They acknowledged their mistake and gave me the lower price.

These bikes came with training wheels so the dad removed them and put on a kick-stand. They are also very excited to have a kick stand. It is fun to see them enjoying their new bikes. They are a bit wobbly on them, as they become accustomed to the difference in size. Hopefully we will all enjoy many bike rides together this summer.

The other popular thing here currently is games, especially for Ben but Nick likes them too. But Ben thinks that everyone should be willing to play games with him pretty much all day, or at least anytime he asks. One new favorite is Monopoly Junior and we also just got an I Spy game too. I bought them these two games with birthday money:). The great thing is that the Monopoly Junior helps them practice adding. We even keep an abacus nearby so they can use it to add if they need to. It is perfect for their level. The next favorite game is Shoots and Ladders. The boys will bargain. Nick will agree to play Monopoly Junior with Ben if Ben will play Shoots and Ladders with him.

Violin lessons are going pretty well. We are increasing the number of times a week that we practice, albeit slowly, but we are getting there. They are working on memorizing their first song this week. It is VERY short; only 18 notes and 5 rests, or something like that. I wanted to get them excited so they would really do their best to try to learn it this week so I upped the ante. I told them they could earn an extra dollar at their lesson on Tuesday if they could do a good job of playing the little song from memory for their teacher. So they are very excited now and I think we will get some very good practice time Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Once they can see their own progress, when they learn the first song that they know (such as Old McDonald, or something like that), then I think they will own their excitement, rather than me trying to think of incentives to build their excitement. So, we'll see how it goes.

The house is really coming along, now that all the trim is finished and all the cabinets are in. All of the staining is finished, along with the trim, and they are now caulking closet shelves, taping off the trim and painting walls. Next week they will start laying floor tile, the master bathtub will be delivered and installed and the granite people will come out to make a template so they will know how to cut the granite for the countertops.

We are done picking colors, although we are still debating what paint to use on the garage doors (dark trim color, light stucco color, or both). I am voting for light stucco color but I told the husband that he can make this decision because I have made to many lately. I met with the lighting people and spent HOURS looking for the right lights for various spots in the house. I also met with the plumbing and picked out plumbing fixtures. And then I had the plumbing people calling me over and over to verify this or that or tell me about an issue with something or whatever. I also had the tile place calling me to verify what we had picked out and I thought we had finalized that weeks ago. There are way too many things to pick out when building a home. Having a budget helps because it keeps you focused on a smaller set of choices...but then, I have expensive tastes and inevitably will pick out the most expensive thing in the store. We still need to pick out a pedestal sink for the powder bath, review how the back splash should look on the wall behind the cook top and pick out carpet. I think that might be all. I hope it is and I really hope we are happy with the wall colors we picked out for inside the house. We tested it on walls but you just never know until you see it on the walls.

On the outside, they have one last stucco coat to apply, the one with the color. Then it is painting trim, pouring concrete sidewalks and driveway, grading the lawn, landscaping, etc. As long as the house is finished, we can move in before the lawn work is done.

Oh, and we are now targeting mid-April for our move in date.

Well, those are the highlights. I am falling asleep as I type so please forgive anything that doesn't make sense. Goodnight!