Sunday, May 26, 2013

Old South Gaylord Memorial Day Festival

From a Facebook post, I found out about a free festival in the Wash Park area on Memorial Day! It's called the Old South Gaylord Memorial Day Festival. The weather was a little overcast, perfect for a day out and about!

Both kids got to ride in strollers. Lucky!

The festival was small, but it was nice. There were a number of shops who pitched tents, including some artisan shops. There were also some food booths. Andrew loves fair food! The sticker prices were a little steep, but we sprung for the $6 funnel cake anyway. After all, there were no admission fees, so it was OK. Right? That's what we told ourselves, anyway. They had a station to add toppings, so Oliver got to add toppings all by himself!

There was a large bouncy castle and a small one. We paid a dollar for Oliver to jump in the small one. He was too intimidated to go in at first, but we took him around to a quieter part, and then he climbed in.

Unlike her brother, Joanna wasn't afraid at all. She said, "Peace out, guys; I'm going to play!" Well, that's what she would have said if she spoke in sentences.

Here's Jo watching Oliver from above.

I wouldn't say this festival is worth a long drive, but, if you're nearby, it's a nice way to spend an afternoon on Memorial Day weekend. Jo's favorite part was all of the dogs. Oliver's favorite part was topping the funnel cake. Not a bad day out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

a SUMMER bucket list!

How perfect is it that this just popped up from Melissa & Doug on Pinterest? I just made my first bucket list earlier this week!

They recommend making a summer bucket list. Write down all of the things you want to do this summer!

I recommend not making it too long; after all, you want to be able to complete it over these next three months. I've created a summer bucket list for my family. It includes all of the things I want to do this summer, even if we've done them in the past.

* Watch a fireworks display on the Fourth of July.
* Bake a berry stars & stripes cake with Oliver.
* Run through the sprinklers.
* Go to a splash park.
* Play in the "creek" at the Children's Mordecai Gardens at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
* Watch our first parade.
* Ride the outdoor train at Belleview Park.
* Visit a petting zoo.
* Take the kids for a swim.
* Have a real outdoor picnic on the grass with a picnic basket.
* Watch a sunrise.
* Go for a hike in the mountains.
* Go on a road trip.
* Go out for an ice cream cone, and eat it outside!
* Make our own ice cream, and let Oliver choose the flavor.
* Pick and eat vegetables out of the garden we're growing at Grandma Judy's house.
* Eat cherry tomatoes right off the vine at Aunt Bonnie & Uncle George's house.
* Throw water balloons.
* Go tent camping overnight.
* Look at stars in the sky.
* Visit Andrew at work for lunch.
* Take the train downtown to visit Grandpa Larry for lunch.
* Go to the Fireman's Museum.
* Use sidewalk chalk.
* Blow bubbles.
* Take Father's Day photos with the letters that spell out "DAD" again.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Bucket List

I've never made a bucket list before. Have you? I'm sure there I'll add to this list in the years to come as my life takes me new places, but here is the first version of my bucket list:

* Watch a movie in the park with the kids.
* Take the kids to Disney World.
* Take the kids to Sesame Street Place.
* Take the kids tent camping.
* Take the kids to the tulip festival in Holland, Michigan
* Build a snowman with the kids.
* Have a tea party with the kids.
* Have a real picnic with the kids (blanket + picnic basket).
* Pick wild berries with the kids.
* Stay in a log cabin for a winter night in the mountains with the kids.
* Take the kids to a parade.
* Take the kids on a drive to see Christmas lights.
* Help the kids with a science fair project.
* Take Andrew on a cheese tasting.
* Live in an old, brick home.
* Pay off our house entirely. Own it out right!
* Make our very own garden.
* Dress up for Halloween as a family.
* Plant a fruit tree.
* Train and run in another half marathon.
* Sit in a hot tub in the snow.
* Throw a nice dinner party for no reason.
* Go on an Alaskan cruise.
* Go on another tropical vacation, just Andrew and me.
* Go to the National Cherry Festival in Michigan.
* Go to the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival in Michigan.
* Go to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.
* See the Northern Lights.
* See the Milky Way.
* Go to Hong Kong with Phuong.
* Go to India with Aminta.
* Go to the Dominican Republic with Stasa.
* Get to every continent (So far: North America--including Central--and Europe)
* See Machu Picchu.
* Go to Paris.
* See Mount Rushmore.
* See the Crazy Horse Monument.
* See the Little Bighorn National Monument.
* See the Vietnam Memorial.
* Go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
* See the Abraham Lincoln National Memorial in Washington, DC.
* See the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
* See a whale (in the wild)
* Take a train across country.
* Camp on my uncle's land in Vashon Island.
* Go to the strawberry festival on Vashon Island.
* Go to the original Starbucks in Seattle.
* Go to a coffee plantation.
* Drink espresso in Italy with Andrew.
* Learn how to use a wet saw and lay tile all by myself.
* "Yarn Bomb" something!
* Build a window seat for reading.

Some things I've already done that would have been on my bucket list if I'd made it earlier in my life:

* Backpack Europe (Phuong and I backpacked through Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Austria in 2006)
* Sky Dive (2002)
* Get a tattoo (2002)
* Dye my hair a funky color (Purple - 2001)
* Cut my hair super short (2000)
* See Yellowstone (2003)
* Ride a mule down the Grand Canyon (1995)
* Get my degree (2005)
* Train and run in a half marathon (Disney World 2009)
* Have a garden wedding (2007)
* Have children (2009 & 2011)
* Stay in the dorms (2001)
* Live in an apartment (2007-2008)
* Buy our first home (town home, 2009)
* Take the kids apple picking (2012)
* Build a sandcastle at the beach with the kids (2013)
* See the aspens in the Colorado mountains in the fall (2012)
* See the Maroon Bells (2012)
* Explore Mayan Pyramids (2008)
* Drive along Highway 1 through Big Sur (2008)
* See the redwoods (2008)
* Go for a wine tasting in Napa Valley (2008)
* See the Scottish countryside (2012)
* Learn how to use a jigsaw and use it (1997 and 2013)
* Learn how to use a miter saw and use it (2009, 2010, and 2013)
* Redecorate an entire room (first: 2009)
* Volunteer for a political campaign (Barack Obama, 2012)
* See a President speak (Barack Obama, 2012)
* Hike with the kids in a hiking backpack (2010 and 2013)
* Go treasure hunting! (New Mexico, 2013)
* Throw boxes of tea into the Boston Harbor (simulation, 1996)
* See the Gateway Arch in St Louis (1997)
* See a panda bear (2003 & 2005)
* See a bonobo chimpanzee (2005)
* Go to a Renaissance Festival (2003-2007)
* Ride a steam engine (1997 and 2012)
* Vacation at Cape Cod (2010)
* Host Thanksgiving (2011)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We did it! Here's our virtual tour.

Our house officially goes on the market this weekend. We've owned this home for four years and have put a lot of work in maintaining and updating it, so it's well-cared for! We've replaced all of the flooring in the whole house, replaced all of the bathroom sinks & vanities, replaced all the lighting, freshly painted all the walls, and replaced a number of appliances (furnace, refrigerator, and washer & dryer).

It's in a beautiful location, right on the Bear Creek Open Space with easy access to the Bear Creek Trail (just walk down the block, and you're there!). We have great neighbors, and our HOA takes good care of maintenance and updates, too (our exterior is actually being repainted this week!). They handle all the yard work, including watering, mowing, and shoveling. Whew!

Lakewood is just west of Denver. This home is in Jefferson County, which is nicknamed the "Gateway to the Rocky Mountains." We're a short drive (or bike ride!) away from Bear Creek Lake State Park. We're just a 15 minute drive from Red Rocks Amphitheater & Park and Mount Falcon State Park, and we're less than half an hour's drive from Lookout Mountain Park and Lair 'O the Bear State Park! This house is perfect for a nature lover and someone who wants quick access to the state's beautiful parks and mountains.

You can check out the virtual tour of the house here:

If you're in the market, then please stop by the open house this Saturday & Sunday afternoon. You'll find more details in the virtual tour I linked above.

Thanks for checking it out!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Home Improvement: Living Room

Here is our finished living room.

Almost everything in this room has been replaced since we moved in nearly four years ago. The front door was really old and rotten, and parts were held together with packing tape! We replaced it a couple of years ago, a generous gift from Andrew's parents. I painted the room a natural green color called "Witch Hazel." We pulled out all of the old, icky carpeting from this room, and Andrew and my parents replaced it with laminate wood flooring. The floor was a housewarming gift from my parents, so we really lucked out in some of these expenses. My mom helped me install new baseboards to replace the old, fake-wood ones. We hung new curtains, and I bought a new floor lamp from IKEA.

Here's a before and after photo that shows the old room color, old door, and old carpet.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Planter Gardening

Our HOA replaced our front lawn with a xeriscape. Because the climate is so dry in Colorado, it's impossible to maintain a lush lawn without daily watering. Many people have replaced their front lawns with xeriscaping, which is basically done with decorative patterns of rocks and drought-resistant shrubs and plants. Xeriscaping always looks very naked when it's first placed, but, when it grows in, it can be quite beautiful. It takes time to get used to it, but people are starting to appreciate it more because it's so much better for our state and our scarce water resources. You can see some examples of xeriscapes here.

Well, ours is so new that the plants haven't fully grown in yet, and it looks bare. I added a few planters of flowers and borrowed a bench from my mother-in-law to help fill the space. I filled my oak barrel planter with petunias and snapdragons, and then I bought an already-filled planter from the Home Depot to fill the corner by our stoop. It makes a big difference, and hopefully it will be more appealing to potential buyers! This is their first impression of our home, after all.

Here's my little garden helper:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Home Improvement: Stairwell

Andrew's an outdoorsy kind of person, and we like having a little "nature" in the house. You can't really see the detail very well, but the glass in our new light has a light leaf design in it.

We also chose this wall sconce from Lowe's with the leaf design.

Here's the finished stairwell! All of the changes we did included replacing the outlets and outlet covers from brass to white, painting the walls, putting on new handrails, putting in new flooring (including the carpet), adding new trim, scraping off the popcorn ceilings, and updating the light fixtures.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013: Lookout Mountain

For Mother's Day, I requested breakfast in bed. Our little chef, Oliver, helped Dad mix pancake batter, and they whipped up some pancakes, scrambled eggs, and veggie "sausage" patties. The kids decided to climb into bed to eat with me, and Oliver declared it was a picnic. This was the best way to wake up!

This photo is pretty much my favorite photo ever. I just woke up, had hair everywhere, and couldn't keep my eyes open. Oliver decided to help Jo eat by feeding her pancakes. <3>

After breakfast, I asked to go hiking. I looked up some family-friendly trails nearby, and we decided to head to Lookout Mountain. There are numerous bike paths and trails throughout the area, but they have a pretty flat, 0.6 mile hiking trail from the Nature Center. On the drive up, we saw dozens of cyclists and joggers. At the Nature Center, the crowd changed, and we saw lots of families with small children.

Andrew put Jo in the hiking backpack. It's the first time we've used it since last summer, and she didn't remember it. She freaked out and started to scream at first. Once Andrew started walking, she calmed down and really enjoyed the ride. Here she is with her lovie, Tod the fox. Her Uncle Andy & Aunt Erin sent it to her for her birthday, and it is a very loved little animal.

As soon as we stepped out onto the trail, we spotted deer!


After the hike, we went into the Lookout Mountain Nature Center. Oliver loved exploring the poop molds they had. He got to compare elk scat with deer scat, which was very interesting to him.

Jo's favorite part was the animal pelts.

The kiddos fell asleep on the drive home. I was sleepy from the hike, too, so we made a stop at Starbucks. I bet they were busy today! When Jo woke up to a chocolate milk and cake pop, she was so excited that she squealed, "Yay!"

Once again, I had a very happy Mother's Day! Thanks for all of your hard work, Andrew! I feel incredibly lucky, and I look forward to seeing my mom this afternoon and Andrew's mom this evening. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Carpet!

We finally, finally got new carpet yesterday! When we moved into our house, there was a powder blue carpet that wound from the entry way, through the living room, up the stairs, and into both bedrooms. It was a outdated, but that wasn't the big problem. It had a faint smell of dog pee (better than cat pee!). It also had numerous stains and large bleach stains in places.

We removed it entirely from the downstairs when we put in our laminate wood floors. Of course, it had to be replaced everywhere else, but we kept putting it off. What's the point in getting new carpet when we were about to have a baby? Babies spit up and poop everywhere! So we waited. And waited.

I cleaned the carpet a number of times with a carpet cleaner. It helped with the smell, but, on rainy days, you could get a whiff in the air. It was so unsightly that we almost never had anyone go upstairs.

Now that we're planning on putting our home on the market, we couldn't put it off any more. Carpet was more expensive than we'd thought, but it had to be done. We went with the second estimate (Carpet Exchange). They did a really good job with the install, and I love the new carpet. I only wish we'd done it a little sooner so we could have lived in the house long enough to get some use out of it!

Here's a photo of our room looking very spiffy with the new carpeting. There's something else new in our bedroom, too. My friends Aminta and Olivia went with me to Whimsy Paint & Sip yesterday with some vouchers from Living Social. We had a blast, and I got a new piece of artwork for the house!

My painting:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rainy Day Painting!

I discovered this fun idea from Pinterest:
It comes from the Little Page Turners blog.

I've been waiting for a rainy day to give the project a chance because it looks promising. Today, once the hail stopped, I jumped on the chance to get outside to "paint." It was going to be a toddler activity until the last minute when I realized Jo is too little to do drops of food coloring.

Oliver was very excited to do the drops. I have all of our craft supplies packed up, so I improvised and used sandpaper instead of card stock. Oliver made a few drops of yellow and blue on the sandpaper.

He was a little reluctant to go outside, so he held his out to catch the rain drops. It wasn't really getting wet, so I coaxed him outside to lay it down on the porch (It's cluttered out there because we're cleaning out the storage shed! The worst of the mess isn't even in the photo...).

A few drops hit the paper, and then the rain stopped.

It was too slow of a transformation to keep Oliver interested. He definitely wanted to do more drops, though. He went outside and added a little red. We didn't get any more rain, but the colors slowly leaked from the paper getting a little damp.

I guess we had the opposite problem from Little Page Turners. She said their paintings only took 1-2 seconds to run together. She wished it had been longer! Here in the dry West, I guess it takes more like 20 minutes. Ha!

It didn't end up being the fun activity I'd hoped for, but I want to try it again one day. We usually get a week of good rain at the end of July, so we'll attempt this activity again then!