Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Halloween!

 I just finished throwing the BIGGEST party I have ever done! It was a BLAST.  I think we ended up with 33 people coming to our house.  My friend Cheryl and I spent two days just putting all the decorations up...not to mention another friend, Karen, coming over another day to plan and get some decorations ready...and about 2 weeks just planning and making everything.  Wow! I am exhausted! This was the front entryway.
 A big thanks to my neighbor who bought two boxes of Halloween Decorations at a yard sale the day we were setting everything up and brought them over. I used almost all the decorations she got. I have awesome neighbors!
 After you walked through the front door you see this...
 and then walk under the hanging skeletons
 I put some roots that Tyler had dug up from the retaining wall in this big vase and hung bat buttons from it. 
 Fireplace! My friend Karen took pictures of all the couples who came in front of the fireplace with her really nice camera! I can't wait to get those pictures. Everyone had such awesome costumes.
 Cheryl made those candles! They were so cool!
 After you got your picture taken at the fireplace you walked out this door to the backyard.
 Yarn spider web! I love those! We had a black light shining on it so it glowed really well
 Our table of music, candy corns, and voting.  We voted on Best Overall Costume, Most Creative Costume, and Best Couple's Costume.  Everyone had great costumes it was hard to vote!
 Firepit in the backyard
 The grim reaper! I just bought 7 yards of fabric and my friend Cheryl put about 100 pins on it around the tree! It looked sooo good!
 The graveyard that led out to the horseshoe pit.  Tyler mounted a big light up in our huge tree that gave soooo much light to the backyard! It was perfect.
 Gravel for our retaining wall that we haven't finished yet.  So I added a few bones out there.
 We put up a lot of lights and tables and chairs.  I assigned out food for everyone and we ate a great meal.
 Blowing Ghost!
 We put lights up under our car port and the tables of food and drinks.

 We had homemade root beer and sherbert punch.  We also had water and hot chocolate. And yes it was COLD!  Of course the weather turns cold when we decide to have a party.
 The dinner party!
 We had a men's competition eating a donut from a string.   
I forgot to take a picture of the table centerpieces that night so here it is! I spent a lot of time on them! They are crepe paper roses with spiderwebs and little button spider mixed in the cobwebs.  So glad to be done with that! But I really liked how they turned out.
 Then we had the girls compete in the donut game.  It was a great!

 The next day I went to a baby shower, then Austin's friend had a birthday party and then straight to the church for the Ward Halloween Carnival Party.  Here's my little carrot that everyone thought was a pumpkin!
 I dressed as the girl from Brave and one of my Primary kids dressed like her as well, so we got a picture together!  I'm keeping up my tradition of having a bow and arrow as part of my costume every year.
 Austin was a train conductor! He loves his hat which makes me happy. He wears it all the time.
 Tyler was Mario.  We were all very random but oh well.  Maybe next year we'll be more of a themed family.  We also added Rapunzel (Makayla) to the group! You can't see Austin's face in this so I added another picture below...

I was sooo tired this night.  I had a sore throat coming on and was chasing Austin and Blake around the church all night. I did go to bed at 9:30 and woke up at 7 am the next morning and felt MUCH better!!!  Maybe I won't be getting sick after all!

Happy Birthday Tyler! October 22

 Yes I am late posting this! But I had a lot a lot a lot of fun making this cake for Tyler.  My friend emailed me the idea when I was thinking of a Geology Inspired cake and this turned out perfect! and was easy enough for me to do.   It is a Stratigraphic Column of the earth.  The blue is an aquifer, and the green is trapped oil. 
 I baked two full boxed cakes and cut them up and stacked them while frosting each layer.
 A view from the top...Not exactly sure where on earth this is, but I'm sure it's somewhere. :)
 We had a party watching the BYU game and invited some friends over. I made Taco Soup for everyone.
 Make a Wish!
 We then had a separate party since our bestest friends couldn't make it.  We played some wild "Minute to Win It" games.  We're kinda hooked on those.
 Spencer and Tyler shakin' it!
 Spencer and Bonnie doing the head bop....They have a pedometer on their head!
Tyler got MONOPOLY DEAL!! Wahoo! Now if we could only get Austin in bed early enough so we could actually play it...........Any tips on getting your kid to go to bed before 9 would be reeeeeeally helpful! AND, he no longer takes naps...I don't know why he doesn't need more sleep...

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Good help can be so hard to find some times...lucky for me I've got Austin and Blake! These two studs love to get out and work with Dad, especially if it involves using a tape measure. Good thing I have one for each of us  :)

This week my friend Galen came over to help before the BYU v. ND football game, and we got a lot done together. Three of the five layers of block are installed with two more to go. The slowest part is making sure that the bottom layer is level. While I finished leveling the last 15' or so, Galen hauled blocks over from the driveway and stacked them by the wall in preparation for the building phase. 

With the bottom concourse of blocks set, we applied some construction adhesive to that layer and set the next layer on top. After the third layer was in place we filled in behind with gravel to help with drainage. After adding the top two layers of blocks I'll fill in another layer of gravel up to about 6-8 inches below the top of the wall, then lay down some landscaping fabric and replace some of the original soil that we dug up. Lastly we'll install some low maintenance, drought resistant plants.

Rachel was came home from a Relief Society activity as we were cleaning up our tools and she was sort of impressed. She says: "it's a little wall, just kinda little", haha

This week I'll build up the next two levels along the straightaway, then turn the corner. I'll have to terrace that back corner and along the right side fence line because the yard slopes towards where this picture is taken from. It's been challenging yet very rewarding to get outside and work. No mouse, keyboard, cellphone or email...just me, my boys and the yard. So refreshing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dreamin' Big in the Backyard...A Manly Post

Ever since we moved in to our house in June I've been tallying up all kinds of different projects that I needed/wanted to do. Among other things, I've trimmed our trees, installed a automatic gate opener, trimmed our trees, planted grass seed in the front yard, redone the sprinkler system (we had this done by a pro), and trimmed our trees AGAIN!

The project that I'm most excited about is a retaining wall/raised flower bed that I am building along our back fence. The idea came as a result of several things: we wanted to save our flowers from being trampled by the boys, and we wanted to use the space along the back fence where no grass would grow. 

These first two pictures are from before the digging began, and they show the entire section of the fence line where the retaining wall will be. You can see the scars from the recently dug trenches for the sprinklers. The grass has since begun to recover and fill in the gaps again, and it looks much better.

The back fence line. The original plan was to have the wall come about four feet off the fence and make an "L" at the corner. Then down the road I'd like to install a little patio in that far corner beyond the light post. The gradual slope is nice because it provides a natural space in which to dig and place our wall, without being too steep. 

We ordered our supplies whole sale and had them delivered right to our house! Luckily they were able to get down the our single lane driveway and into the back yard, which meant they dumped it as close to the job site as possible. This also means that I am reminded of how much I have left to do every time come or go!

Before I dug anything I used stakes, string and a level to map out the design. Then I outlined the trench with orange spray paint. Austin was very careful not to step on the "painting", or tear down my string. I was very impressed with how seriously he took the whole thing.

The boys love to help, and we get to spend some quality time together working. Austin uses his little spade to "work really hard" and help me fill up the wheel barrow. On my first day of digging I started with a six foot wide section and laid the blocks (without the construction adhesive) to give me a temporary look at things. I learned just how deep and how far off the wall I'd need to dig in order to get the height I wanted.

Blake loves DIRT! We had some nice cool weather for two weeks straight, and we all enjoyed working outside. Most of our evenings were scheduled up though, so I did the majority of the initial digging in the early morning from 5:30 to 6:00 am! I had to wear a head lamp to see what I was doing. The neighbors think I'm weird, but it's good exercise. 

Things were going slow and steady until I started running into buried roots...they may not look that bad, but it's just a nasty web of interconnected, rope-like roots that each have to be chopped off. It truly is a weed of a tree.

The corner of the property is particularly bad because of a large tree just across the fence line in my neighbors yard. Thankfully he considers it to be a trash tree, so he doesn't mind that I hack at it with my pick axe and shovel. 

 I wasn't making very good progress by hand, so I rented a small gas powered tiller for four hours. Using it made the digging much quicker, despite having to fight through the pile of roots seen above. Yes, that largest one is actually a root that I pulled out with my pick!

This is the growing pile of dirt behind my shed from the trench that I am digging to lay the retaining wall. It's 4 feet tall, 15 feet long and 6 feet wide.

It sure doesn't look like much, but the foundation has been laid for the wall. Next step: level the lower trench and lay the first row of blocks. Stay tuned for updates!