Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Construction Site

Last summer will forever go down in history as the summer we installed a yard. This summer will be the summer our home was a construction site. From May to July, we had contractors in and out nearly every day, at all hours. It was so nice to finally finish all our projects and just walk around the house without a bra and makeup again!

Here's what we've been up to:

1. Adding stairs to the deck. This is game changing. I can now get out to my backyard without having to go out the front and around or down through the basement. Hallelujah!

2. Fire pit. Jeff and I built this with our own two hands. It isn't perfect, but it adds just a bit of ambience and we've already consumed many a s'more as a completion reward.

3. Plants! Last year we put in grass and borders, this year I started planting. I burned out after the front yard, but I love watching it all grow and come together.

I started with the area around these utility boxes. Let's hope these plants grow nice and big to hide all that ugly plastic and metal!

Plumbego. The prettiest groundcover ever.

Knock-out roses. The only kind I'll try to grow with my black thumb.

The lacy looking light purple bush is called Agastache and it smells heavenly.

I was hesitant about this Rose of Sharon but it's doubled in size in a year and it's so beautiful and healthy, I will likely plant more in back!

My garden isn't doing too shabby, either. I've never had success with tomatoes like I have this year! I did have to add some deer protection, but aside from the green beans, I caught it in time to still have a flourishing crop.

Finishing the basement. This was the biggie. We added two bedrooms, a bathroom, some storage, and a family room. It was stressful and a money pit, but I LOVE it. It turned out just as I had hoped and sometimes I will just walk down there and sit on the couch to take it all in. We bought the sectional when it was still only framed, and I stressed about how it would fit and whether I would still like it two months later when it was finally delivered. I shouldn't have worried-- it is perfect for the room and I love everything about it! The barn doors were another splurge that I worried I would regret, but nope. They make the room, in my opinion.


This shelf was a vision I had that I was pretty nervous about right until the very end. I am a great copycat, but not such a great inventor. I couldn't find an example of what I wanted, so I just had to describe to our contractor the basic idea and hope he could make it come to life. It was more stressful than I had bargained for, but oh so worth it in the end! The decision to put a queen bed (for guests, when needed) in Logan's room meant there wouldn't be much room for anything else. This shelf is designed to be a desk, a nightstand, a Lego workspace, or any other surface Logan may need without taking up any of his precious real estate. Logan actually had the idea to add bins underneath for his Legos, and I think it's brilliant! To keep with the industrial vibe, we used food service containers instead of traditional plastic bins.

This room is empty for now, but has so much potential! While I decide what to do with it, the girls are taking it over as their play space, and that might just be it's permanent purpose. Temporarily. For awhile.

Now I just need to decide on a theme and start decorating! This part is just as overwhelming (if not more) than the actual finishing part, and has the potential to be pretty pricey, so I've just been ignoring it for the past few months. It will likely be awhile before anything ends up on the walls, but I'm ok with that. I'm just happy to have walls!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The CA Mackays

Not long after Curtis and Katie left town, Matt and Jen arrived. We were so lucky to have had so much of our family come to us this summer! And our basement was finished in the nick of time. It was life changing to have extra room to spread out in. We packed in so much fun while they were here that it would take a novel to write about it all. So instead, I'll describe our week via captions.

1. Seven Peaks x 2. Water parks are so much more fun without any babies!

2. Cousin sleepover. Every night.

3. The Grotto. Logan once again expressed his dislike of hiking, but after a good heart talk, he stepped it up and proved he could be a good leader despite not wanting to be there.

4. BYU, where Izzy wanted a picture with every Cosmo.

The Joseph F. Smith building had a small exhibit on emotion in the scriptures. This wheel gives many suggestions for dealing with emotions. I kind of want one on my wall!

5. MTC tour. The bus may have been the highlight.

Cousin twins!

The light in this new MTC building is photo perfect. I read somewhere that they made the building bright and spacious to help with depression amongst new missionaries. I felt less depressed, so I think it's working. ;)

6. Paddleboat in our backyard pond.

7. Owlz game.

8. Gavin's birthday! We celebrated Gavin's birthday last year at our house, so it was fun to repeat his special day requests, complete with BYU bowling and lemon chicken. This boy knows what he likes and there was no sense in changing a good thing!

Other highlights (not pictured): Gavin and Ruby learned to ride on two wheels! Pioneer day parade, childrens' games, artisan booths, and park entertainment. Whiffle ball at the park. Despicable Me 3. Date nights to Joe Bandidos, Korean BBQ and Waffle Love. Matt doing the headless chicken dance. Jen, Erica and I finding cute clothes at boutiques. Fifa 24/7. Charlie the escape artist.

We had so much fun packed into nine days that I'm pretty sure we all took a two day nap to recover from it. We sure love these cousins and can't wait to see them again soon!

The AZ Mackays

We had so much fun spending Independence Day with Curtis and Katie last year, that they decided to make it a tradition and came to spend it again this year! This time they brought a special addition, baby Sterling, and I'm pretty sure he is the most delicious baby alive.

There were two critical parts of their last July visit that made it particularly memorable, so naturally we had to repeat those parts. The first was our hike. Last year we hiked in Alta; this year we hit up Stewart Falls. We hiked the morning of the 4th and it was insane. I have never seen so many people on the trail! The kids were super happy about it (see the picture of Logan), but were as pleasant as they ever are hiking so that's something. They did get to break in their new hiking backpacks, and I loved how patriotic Savannah was!

We were all happy to see the falls and cool off a bit in their mist.

Here's Logan's happy hiking face.

I would like you to note in the picture above the large patch of stinging nettle just behind Logan. Now notice where I am standing in the picture below. Yeah. It really does sting, in case you were wondering.

The second memorable moment was the fireworks. Last year, we set our hillside on fire and the fire department had to come (even though we mostly had it out). Not surprisingly, this year we were wary of all things explosive and decided not to set off our own fireworks. I knew there would be plenty around to enjoy.

Well, imagine our surprise when before it was even fully dark, I hear Isabelle yelling from her bedroom window, "Fire!" Sure enough, one of our neighbors had set off a large aerial that had tipped and gone straight into our dry, weedy hillside. It was unusually windy that evening, and this time the fire was raging before we knew it. This was not a repeat of last year-- there was no way we were going to get it out unassisted. Luckily, the fire department was vigilant and they had it out within ten minutes. It was a humbling site to see how quickly a fire can spread with a bit of wind.

We thought that was the end of that, and sat down to watch our neighbors start up again. They had built a rough support for the base this time so nothing would tip. We were all cautious, but still hoping for a show. The wind really started to pick up, and as the first fireworks went off overhead, they were dropping their cardboard and ashes right on top of us. I took a piece of cardboard tubing to the forehead that gave me a bruise for a week. I was about ready to call it quits, when low and behold, another spark appeared on the hillside. Yes, we started ANOTHER fire! This time, we hardly had time to grab our shovels and hoses when the firetruck appeared. I swear they must have been waiting just around the corner thinking, "These people are too stupid to stop. They are bound to start another fire so we'll just wait here."

So another fire, another save by the fire department, and we were officially done. My kids are now traumatized and hate fireworks. I'm not too far from that disposition myself. Every time I heard a boom that night, I flinched and hoped that a fire wasn't going to start somewhere. I especially worried about the common space behind our house. It would burn just as quickly as the hill across the street, but with no street to break the fire and no easy access by firetrucks, it would be much more dangerous.

Another perk of having Curtis and Katie in town is the way they draw other people together. Somehow we finagled a get together with Byron and Dustin (and their families) since Dustin was in town that week, too. Imagine, 4/6 siblings together of their own volition! My mom was so proud. We were just missing our bookend siblings to have a complete set.

Thanks for coming to visit, Sterling! We hope you come again next July. :)