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!