73 and Gorgeous

Today it was 73 degrees and not a drop of wind or clouds in the sky. Nicholas, Simba and I headed to the beach for some “construction work” after school. 

Public schools are closed for the Chinese New Year today, so the beach was packed. 

   
 

Broncos!!

We watched with about 20 friends at Kevin and Abby’s house, and everyone was a Broncos fans.

We made the yummiest pigs in a blanket, a Martha recipe that was simple and a party favorite. Definitely making this one next season. 

   

    
    
 It was definitely the good luck koozie from Chris that brought us the good luck. 

     
   
After eight long days away, we were sweetly reunited with Daddy on Saturday evening. I think I might deserve a spa day, but instead Julia and I had a girls morning, getting our nails done while the boys went to the sunny beach. So fun. 

  

  

  


Go Broncos! 

 

 

Latest Backyard Digging Technique

It’s called harpooning. If only you could hear his sound effects. 

   
    
 
We’re ready for a friend of my cousin Katie’s to stay with us this weekend. She’s in town for an event and does important work for Veterans, so we are happy to help. The kids and I are looking forward to meeting her tonight. 

  

Etc. 

I installed the fence last night and it looks great. More importantly, it’s doing its job of keeping Simba out. No digging Simba!

   
 
This one’s for you, Grammy. Beyond excited. 

  

 

Jiro Julia after making sushi in her after school cooking class. She made and ate an avocado roll. 
  
I had the pleasure of attending Julia’s Math Morning where the girls got to teach their parents all the math games they play. We got through about five of the seven games before the math specialist took all the parents away for a great conversation about math. It was an inspiring morning. 

  

Backyard Progress

The big day for plant installation came yesterday. We had to make a few tricky decisions but it’s all coming together well. 

This is the best bird’s-eye-view I can give, taken from the kids’ shower window.

  

The hedge looks great!! We spent a little more money to buy more mature hedge plants, but they will establish faster, they’re healthier, and they give us some immediate impact.    
    

  
The horse trough planters are now off to the side. They’re low maintenance, low water users, and add some architectural interest.   

 
Look, mom! Do you see your fan agave in this pot below? I made sure we kept that one in the garden. 

  
Upstairs on our tiny deck, we have another water-wise and low maintenance combination. It makes for a nice view from the kitchen. We got rid of the previous owners’ bad plastic pots but kept the three hangers I purchased a couple years ago. 

  
  
  
This way, we can have some color on the back deck without Simba chewing at his height, or a child digging in lower pots. 

Speaking of Simba, a simple black fence will be going up later today. Nicholas and I picked up the fencing, got to ride in the best shopping cart ever (we spent an extra 15 minutes steering around the store), and Nicholas honked at the customers to move faster. Not embarrassing at all. 

  
Here are some more shots during the day.  
   

 

Our purple bistro table is getting a bit rusty, but we love it (it was our first dining room table), the style is still timeless, and we don’t have the budget to buy something new.

It will take some elbow grease but I’ll be sanding the rust off, using a product that neutralizes rust, giving everything a rust-proof primer via rustoleum spray paint primer, then giving everything a colorful makeover. Each chair will be a different tone of purple, blue, and aqua. 

  
$40 and a few days of my time later, we’ll have new, customized table and chairs. 

I hoped to do the prep and painting this week but, truth is, I’m sick as a dog. It started on Sunday after Matt left Saturday, of course. I looked like death on Monday/Tuesday, slept while Nicholas was at school and while he napped, slept 11 hours each night like the kids, had great friends deliver soup and help me out. It was awful. Thank goodness for lots of sweet friends. 

I’m slowly curing what ails me. Here’s a shot of straight up ginger, lemon and cayenne for my throat. 

  
For two days it was green tea and lentil soup for every meal. I felt like a truck hit me with a combination of flu, bronchitis, strep, and exhaustion. 

  
Wednesday night Cathie got me out of the house and We took the kids out for an easy hour together. I had barely eaten so this salmon salad was heaven to my sick body. 

   
    
Ice cream always helps, too. 

  

I’m still sleeping a solid 11 hours at night like the kids, but I functioned at a meeting this morning, although my voice was barely there. 

I’m hoping I’ll be 100% by the time Matt gets back into town Saturday night, fingers crossed. 

Fun

This is Nicholas and one of his best school buddies, Reed, discussing the amazingness of Reed’s shirt. YouTube Twenty Trucks. Three year-old boys’ minds are blown.   

This is what 8:30 Saturday morning looks like when three of us are leaving for a basketball game and one of us is leaving for an awesome 40th birthday ski week with a bunch of buddies. 

  
Matt’s in Alberta, Canada, making his way through some great mountains with six other almost 40 year-olds. I can only imagine how shaggy and in need of laundry those men will be when they come back on the 6th. 

We miss him a lot, it’s tough (and rare) losing him on the weekends, but the guy deserves such a great week. 

  
When he’s on work trips, we don’t get such interesting pictures texted to us. 

   
   
Matt missed Julia’s 9am basketball game on Saturday morning. And what a game it was! Tough girl Julia got rocked with a rebound to the head. Ouch. 

  
An ice pack, hugs, snacks, and 15 minutes later she was back in the game. I have to say, most K girls are out with extraordinarily minor injuries, even the wrong color ponytail holder or seeing a good snack on the sidelines can throw off the mojo, but not for Julia. As one wise mom of another tough player said, “there’s about to be a lot of self selecting happening after this year.”

   
 
The best part: Julia didn’t want to change our plans to visit the zoo. As the only parent all weekend, I wanted to keep them outside all day.

   
   
Julia photo bomb as her horse went up. 

   
    

   
    
Here’s some exciting news. After some thinking and budgeting, some inexpensive but big changes are coming to our back yard. 

Before: 

     
Note no screening from our neighbors and a sea of red. The red is all wrong, Arizona flagstone belongs in Arizona, but we’re not changing that part, it would be too costly. Besides, it’s covered in green mold!

 
Note bad combo below of bad pavers, bad concrete, and a bad ledge that kids and adults routinely fall from. 

   
Note silly step in a silly place. 

 
We’ve done what we could with what we’ve had. It was time to call in a professional. I’ve loved working with a garden designer who has an amazing eye, and great ideas. 

The big troughs I got at Tractor Supply in farm country (Petaluma) helped and they are staying (with new plants). 

Our favorite contractor is back and had his stone guy do the demo in half a day, for $150. :) He likes us.   
   
  
The stone mason carefully salvaged all these pieces for….

   

  
Our new step, reaching the entire length of the yard. We can sit, we have a better outlook from the basement doors, and the ugly pavers will be gone. 

  
He didn’t have to salvage the stone, it’s cheap and readily available at Home Depot, but using old stone means it’s worn like the rest of the patio. It will match.

The stone is still red, and there’s still bad concrete, but we’ll live with it. 

The step will be built when the rain stops for more than an hour next week. The new plants, mainly featuring a green hedge across that whole back wall to tone down the woefully red fence, will go in Wednesday. Also, the sad, poorly chosen trees will be gone. I consulted an arborist who confirmed what we feared: they look good for staging a backyard when we bought the place but are not going to be successful here.  

We’re planting podocarpus which will start out medium and quickly turn into a great, tall wall of green. 

   
   
When Matt gets back, we’ll have a backyard makeover! Can you picture it?!

  
Other fun stuff… 

A boy and his pup. 

   
   
   

Julia takes a cooking class in her “after school academy” on Thursdays and now she’s even more interested in preparing her own healthy food. 


Yay for friends. My friend Cathie and I get together mid-week when both of our husbands happen to travel at the same time. It helps everyone. 
  

  

Here’s Nicholas serving dessert to the mommies. 

  

   

Starting to work on Valentine’s for her 42 classmates and four Kindergarten teachers.   

Nicholas was fully captivated watching Finding Nemo for his first time.  
   
Julia wants to live in the blue one, Nicholas wants the orange one at the end, and I’ll take our house, my favorite place to be.