Carlsbad Caverns

June 14, 2009

We took the six oldest kiddos to Carlsbad Caverns the other day. It was a great day full of adventure, discoveries, and hiking. We went on an hour and a half long tour that took us deep into the caverns. While we were 850 feet under the ground, the tour guide turned off all the artifical light to let us experience true darkness. It was truly amazing! Even the kids enjoyed the darkness.

After a short break, we went back into the caverns using the natural entrance. It was so interesting to note the temperature change as we descended the twisty paths.

By the end of the day, the kids were beat, but not too worn to stay and watch the bats fly. Unfortunately, it began to lightening, so we were forced to leave.

It was a long, great day. We can’t wait to go back.

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Family Movies

June 13, 2009

We are on our third week of houseguests. I loving having things to do and people to do them with.

I am not sure what other families do when they are together, but I like family movies. Not regular movies depicting a vacation, but those in the tradition of the many that Matt and his brother made – full on movies with a script, costumes, and direction. Okay, Matt’s lacked plot, but you get the idea.

Today we filmed the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I can’t wait to see the final result.

T-Ball

June 4, 2009

It’s that time of year again – t-ball season. For the first time both the kids get to play on the same team. To celebrate this fact (and because no one else would volunteer), Matt signed up to be head coach. This is amusing only because we are known for our lack of athleticism and sports knowledge.

I’m most excited because the team is filled with kids from our church. It’s fun to cheer for kids we’ve watched grow up with our own kiddos. This is going to be a fun season.

Visitors

June 4, 2009

This will probably be my favorite month this year – it is our month of visitors. We have the joy of playing host to some of our favorite people for four weeks straight and I am loving every minute of it.

Last week our friends Joe & Suzanne were in town with their kids Evan and Maren. We hadn’t seen them in a year, but slipped right back into old conversations and rhythms within minutes. I guess that’s what 7 or 8 years of history will do. To add to the fun of having the Thomases here, the Gassiots tried to absorb as much of their visit as possible, so they were over a lot too. For a good part of the week there were 6 adults and 7 kids in our house. I couldn’t imagine having more fun.

While they were here we took pictures of the kids (I hope to have those soon), shot a music video, and spent lots of time talking, reminiscing, and wishing we lived closer again.

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The Thomases left on Monday. As they pulled away, the kids wanted to know why Kim and I were crying. I tried to explain that when you love someone and they go away, you miss them. Fortunately, the easiest way for me to remedy the sadness of missing a friend is to have more company. That’s why I’m so glad that my mother-in-law came into town Monday afternoon.

I am truly blessed to have Teri for a mother-in-law. She’s fun, funny, quirky, and she explains so much of why Matt is the way he is. The kids love her, too. Bill will be joining her this weekend for even more fun. I can’t wait.

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After they leave, my mom, sister, and her three kids are coming for two weeks. I have so much and so little planned for the time that they are here. It is going to be a great month.

Big Day

May 28, 2009

Today was a monumental day at our house. Look who doesn’t need training wheels anymore…

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To complete the before & after tour of our house, I will show you around the upstairs today.

School Room

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So besides replacing the banister that hit just below our hips with a half wall that was much taller, we didn’t have to do much in here. This second-floor loft was the perfect place for our school room – it already had a built-in desk. Perfect!

Upstairs Entry

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This is the view of the entryway from the schoolroom. Matt scraped all the grass wallpaper, textured, and painted in the first few days in the house. We also replaced the sconces on the wall and the entry light fixture. Replacing that took renting a 14 foot ladder and getting two other guys to help us out.

Girl’s Room

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Can you notice the biggest change in this room? Anyone? Yes, it is Pepto Bismol pink. We also hung new curtains and installed a ceiling fan. In addition, Matt is going through each room and changing the outlets and switches from nasty old-looking cream to white. It makes a huge difference.

Boy’s Room

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I had my doubts as to whether all his furniture would fit in this room, but it worked out really well. This will be his room while our friend Bekah lives with us for the next year. After she finishes school and moves out, he will move into the room that she is in.

The last two rooms in our house are not complete yet. Bekah’s room lacks, well, Bekah. She is bringing all her stuff, so right now we have very temporary furniture in there to accomodate the guests that we have visiting this summer. The other room is the upstairs bathroom. We are working on that this week, so hopefully I will get to post before & afters by the end of this weekend. That room needed a LOT of work to come out of 1989. You’ll see…

The biggest excuse I have for my web-absence is our new house. We obviously liked it when we bought it, but we knew that it needed some cosmetic updating. So, that’s what we’ve been doing – in addition to unpacking boxes, we have been using a little elbow grease to make it pretty.

I thought you might want to see some before & after pics, along with a description of what we did in each room. The before pics are courtesy of my MIL who was here to help while we moved in (I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t even think about picking up my camera then). I will start with the first floor and post on the second floor tomorrow. Of course, since most people have given up on my blog, I don’t expect anyone to really read this, but here it goes:

Entryway

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The first thing we had done when we moved in was have the banister replaced. The wrought-iron banister was too low, and was only attached in two places – out of date and unsafe.

Dining Room

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We stripped the wallpaper, textured, and painted the walls and the inside of the cabinets. I painted over the faux-finish and flowers painted on the cabinets and changed the pulls. We also took a horrible gold chandelier from the living room, spray painted it black and added shades to hang over the table. Many thanks go to my mom for helping me out so much with the room.

Living Room

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The thing that bothered us most about the house when we moved in was the RED carpet. The previous owners claimed that their interior designer said that it was a neutral, but we disagreed. We recarpeted the entire house before moving a stick of furniture in. We also took out that chandelier (in the living room? Really?) and put in a ceiling fan.

Master Bedroom

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The distinguishing feature in the bedroom were the two hanging lights that illuminate the nightstands – a great idea, but impractical in real life. The only sources of light in the room were controlled together by a switch across the room. We got new fixtures and Matt installed the “Lightening Switch” (as seen on TV). Now we each have a control for our own light on our nightstands.

Master Bath

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Oh, that horrible brassy-gold. It was all over this house! In the master bathroom we got rid of it all – we replaced the faucets in both sinks and in the shower, got all new towel rods and drawer pulls, and hung cabinets in the shower area. We also stripped wallpaper, textured, painted, and got rid of those awful sliding glass shower doors.

Office

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In the office, we painted the walls and back of the bookshelves, put in new cabinet pulls, and installed a ceiling fan. (Seriously, what did the previous owners have against ceiling fans – there were none when we moved in.)

Kitchen & Backyard

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I’m not doing befores & afters for these two areas, because we really haven’t done anything to them. The kitchen is big and had been updated with granite counter tops and new pulls about 6 months before we moved in. The back yard is narrow, but is host to an herb garden, roses, a hammock, and two huge pecan trees. The only grass is in the front yard, which Matt finds delightful.

No Apologies

May 19, 2009

Yes, we have been absent from the web for a long, long time. Part of the delay has been the burden recapping all the things we have been doing over the past few months, so we’ll skip that. Instead, we’ll jump straight to today and hope for consistency from here on out.

Today is the kindergartener’s last day of school and the kids have been invited to participate in a talent show. When we asked him what he was talented at, he said, “Putting together LEGOs.” Easy enough. Here’s his submission for his class…

Friday night we went to a birthday party at the racetrack. The kids loved watching the cars qualify for the race from the suites, and I loved getting a taste of the NASCAR craziness without having to actually go to the race. On the day of the race, we were able to hear the cars and see the finale fireworks from the Bowling’s house. Bristol becomes a completely different city during the race, and it was fun to see the insanity up close.

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The next night, Gretchen was on call and at the hospital, so we brought her lunch. The kids found her on-call room fascinating. We had a great time meeting some of her friends, seeing where she works, and spending time with her.

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Matt flew home out of Ashville yesterday, so we decided to visit the Bilmore House on our way to the airport. It was a lovely day, but we were a few weeks early for the full force of the spring flowers.

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We are having a great time in Tennessee and so grateful that we have another week here. I am already dreading the withdrawl that we will face when we get home.

Creeper Trail

March 20, 2009

Yesterday we went to the Creeper Trail in Virginia. We rode 16 miles of what used to be a railroad line on bikes. The big kids rode tag-along bikes, little half-bikes that attached to grown up bikes, and the little kids were pulled along in a trailer. The ride starts at the top of the White Top Mountain in the Appalachian Mountains and goes down the mountain into a nearby town. It took us about three hours with several picture stops in the first half of our journey, and riding as fast as we could with sobbing children through the cold rain during the second half of the journey.

Despite the rain, it was a fantastic day that involved generous dads who took off their socks so that their children could have “mittens”, Mary wearing a shirt for pants, and sore bums for all riders. I would do it all over again. This is what great memories are made of.

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