Saturday, February 21, 2009

Making our Happy Place...

I've been in a funk about our house for quite some time. It needs so much work, it's overwhelming. There are actually just a dozen relatively small things that can be done that would greatly improve our feelings about this place. Then there are several much larger projects that will cost mucho dinero and will have to be placed on hold for the time being.
So we've embarked on a quest to knock out the little things. Things have been nagging at us for the whole 5 years that we've lived here.
I knew a garden would make me very happy so I've made that a priority for myself. I'm so tired of having to buy every single piece of organic produce, even herbs. There's no reason not to grow them myself. My dad built me planter boxes a few weeks ago. So the next task was to finally clear out all the railroad ties and all the junk that has accumulated in the side yard (conveniently, where we can't see it on a daily basis). We got that all hauled away this morning and set to work on our garden projects. There was a garden in the ground when we moved in here, but because the garden was outlined with the railroad ties, I didn't want to use that soil. We cut out the grass where the new planter boxes are set and put it on the patch of dirt that was the old garden. With grass seed covering the bald spots, we're hoping that will look normal one day! As soon as I get some soil in the boxes, I'll be ready to plant.
In the front yard, there's this shabby little strip of dirt that lines the front of the house. When we first moved here, it was really nice, full of impatiens and beautiful gardenias...all of which I promptly managed to kill with neglect. And it has remained shabby ever since.
Today, I planted some pretty azaleas and new impatiens and hopefully, we'll get that old gardenia bush to bloom again. I even have herbs planted in my pots.
We all worked really hard today, even my dad and the girls. We never expected to finish all today, but we did. The best part was watching the girls play outside ALL day, enjoying our yard. They have never really played outside much here.
I took a few minutes off to put up my feet and drink a nice cold beer. I watched a bit of the action and snapped some pics.
Meanwhile, important stuff was happening on the inside of our house. One of the major eyesores for me is the flimsy curtain hanging in our front entry closet. The curtain is constantly falling down and just basically looks really bad. Also, our front door has a big glass cut-out that has been broken since we moved in...large shards of glass are being held together with masking tape. That's attractive.
Our friend is a contractor and agreed to take pity on us and install the closet doors (brand new, in the package, sitting in our garage for at least 2 years) and fix up the front door. The closet doors are a pain because they have to be cut to fit our non-standard size closet, stained and finished. There was no way we were ever going to get to the project, mostly because we'd have no clue as to how to do it.
So today our friend worked hard to size them and install them, tomorrow they'll get stained. It is already such a VAST improvement, we just keep staring at them. I can't wait to see the finished project! I wish we would have done this a long time ago!

Nature Walks & Opossums

Yesterday, I took the girls to Ant-Sized Adventures, a great little nature program for preschoolers. The focus of this class was on raccoons and opossums. We learned a lot about each and sang cutesy songs about them. Elise was not into the classroom portion of this at all and pretty much pouted on my lap the whole time, but she did get into the nature walk. Especially the furry caterpillars we encountered along the way. Lola's favorite part was getting to meet a live opossum after the nature walk was over. Our adventure ended with a craft, then we had lunch outside the visitor's center with some friends. It was really nice. We are signed up for another adventure next month. I hope Elise will share some of Lola's enthusiasm next time!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rainy Days

It's been raining on and off for a couple of days now. We had plans to have dinner tonight in La Jolla with friends, but just then the rain started to pound around the dinner hour and we decided to skip it. The kids had been on top of themselves and us all day so they were a bit ornary by the days end and, I must admit, that did factor in to whether or not we wanted to drive all the way to La Jolla for dinner in a restaurant. But that still left us with the dilemma of how to entertain them until bedtime. We had played games with them all day. Board games, imaginary games, tickle fighting, you name it. We were tired.
I thought this last resort might work. I offered to set them up in the living room and pretend to camp. I got out a nifty tent that a friend gave us. It opens completely on one side so they were able to lay their sleeping bags inside and still have a nice view of the T.V. We rented "Horton Hears a Who" and made them some popcorn. With the lights off and flashlights in their hand, they were so eager for their little camping adventure. Elise didn't pay too much attention to the movie and never stayed in the tent for more than a few seconds at a time...until, of course, the popcorn came out. She is her father's daughter, after all.
Lola made it through the whole movie but is still sleeping soundly in the tent as I write this. Elise fell asleep in my bed with her hand in a bowl of frozen peas. Don't ask.