Nov 28, 2016

Deck Renovation Part 1

Our back deck has come a long way since this picture!  First of all we removed the majority of the landscape that was so sad and overgrown.  

Here is another before pic from the week we purchased the house.
Before moving in we added an iron fence at the edge.
One of the biggest issues was the middle and top level of the deck was only 4 feet deep, meaning you could barely fit a rocking chair on it.  We knew we would want to expand on that.  Also the lower basement level was completely blocked by the huge stair case and overgrown bushes. We cut back and removed almost all landscaping in the back.
 So we demoed all of the middle and bottom level.
 Dug new footers...
And started building the new and improved deck!

So many hours of thought went into the design.  We decided to add screen under the middle screen floor to keep all bugs out!
 The brick walkway took forever (but of course worth it now)
 We added a gas firepit!
And unfortunately had to do a TON of yard work, landscaping, grading and drain work.
All of the gutters ran right on top of the yard in awful places.  Every time it rained we would have mud puddles all around the yard.  We had all new pipes put in that took the gutter water all the way underground and to the pond. Here is a look at before.  I just drained right where the driveway stopped and yard began (obviously in this pic it goes to the walkway)

Here is the new underground pipes.
 After all the new pipes were laid we had to have dump trucks of dirt brought in and had someone level the yard.

We also had to get all new electrical boxes put in.  Apparently old old panel didn't meet code and we were not able to add even one outlet without upgrading.

Here you can see the new panel to the left of the ac units....which we also had to update....
 Here is the finished product!
 New stairs!
My favorite major change is how open it is.  I also am very happy with the way the brick came out.
 I mean this view!
 Ryan finally has a grill area.
 We added lights, moved the water hose, added pluming for sink and gas for grill.  I designed plenty of storage for all his tools and grill accessories.
He loves having an outdoor sink here.

 We put a gray stain on the wood ceiling down here and added fans, lights and speakers.
 We also added all new landscaping, sod, irrigation and new lattice ac unit cover.

 Here is a view of the driveway side.  We made trash can storage under the stairs, and the herringbone brick walkway to get from garage or driveway to the deck.
 Middle screened in level coming next!

Nov 27, 2016

Christmas Tree

 We came back from Thanksgiving and started gearing up for Christmas!  The day after Thanksgiving our elves came back!  Dorthy and Wolfpack are now watching over Bobo and Ellie to make sure they are nice, not naughty!
 We got our Christmas tree!
 We needed a tall tree so Bobo helped Ryan measure them.

Christmas ornaments are one of my favorite things.   We collect them throughout the year as we travel and I love decorating the tree every year and remembering all the fun vacations and memories made.
 We also get new ornaments each year.  This year Bobo got Chase and Marshall(from paw patrol tv show), Ellie got Princess Tiana and Sky, Ryan got a whale from Nantucket and I got a conch shell from Turks and Caicos.
 The kids helped us decorate....and I later fixed it haha!
 After naps we made Chex Mix and hot chocolate and watched Home Alone.

 These two loved the movie just like their Daddy!  Christmas is so much fun, but kids and new family traditions make it magical!
 Now we need more presents and to decorate mantel and outside!

Nov 25, 2016


We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  Our kids, our health and a finished deck renovation make the top of the list! We had a few couples over for a dinner last weekend to kick off the holiday!  I made an appetizer and macaroni and cheese casserole and Ryan smoked a turkey!  It was by far the best turkey I have ever had!

 The next day we had Ryan's parents over to do some Turkey crafts, fish and cook!

That night we had our first big Thanksgiving at Ryan's brothers house.  Uncle Jared and Aunt Catherine are in Paris now so it was nice to celebrate all together before they left.
 I signed up for the kids Thanksgiving celebration at school.  They were so excited and just proud to have me at their school.

The next morning we loaded up and headed to my parents house.  My Bonus Mom always has new toys ready for our visits.  This time she restored an old armoire and filled it with dress up stuff for the twins.
 Ellie tried it all on!

 For the thanksgiving meal the next day we went to Grandma Linda's house.  The kids (and us) love it there.  So many fun things to do and toys to play with!
We all went four wheeling, gator riding, horse back riding, zip lining, jumped on the trampoline, chased chickens and much more!
 We had to make the kids take a break to eat though!
 There is something about being wild and free in the fresh country air that is good for the soul.  These two strongly agree!

 Grandma Linda's house is just a happy other way to describe it!
At sunset Ryan and I took a long ride around the neighbors cotton fields which was one of my favorite parts!