April 29, 2012

Mary May Quite Contrary

I can't remember having a more productive weekend than the one I just had. Sometimes on my train ride home on Friday afternoons, I make a list of things I hope to get done over the weekend. This weekend's list was long, but I managed to cross off most of it. I cannot adequately explain to you how much I love crossing stuff off my to do list. (Also, posting a blog, now is totally crossed off.)

This weekend was a mix of fun things and not so fun, but oh so necessary things. For example, in the fun column was dinner with friends and Skyping with two ladies on opposite coasts that I don't see as much as I'd like. In the necessary column was mailing our rent check, cleaning and taking photos of our old condo for a rental listing.

For the past few months I have slowly been putting our office together. It's the first room in the house that I've really redone. This weekend Mike and I hung some shelves and a white board. Putting those things up felt like one of the last things we needed to do in this room.

Sneak peak! More to come of this before and after. It's quite a change.

This weekend we also checked off one big to do item that we'd been working for a few weeks.

When we moved into the house it already had a vegetable garden, but it wasn't full of the kinds of vegetables we wanted. It yielded some cucumbers, and a few tomatoes but it was mostly filled with flavorless banana peppers.

This year we decided to start from scratch. We tore out any existing roots, removed and relaid the pavers, tilled the soil and laid an entire new fresh bed of dirt for all our carefully chosen fruits and veggies. It was a decent amount of work and we spread it over three weekends. Last weekend we picked out a bunch of veggies and herbs from a local market, but as we were driving home I got a frost advisory on my phone for that night. It didn't seem like the best time to plant. So we, and our plants, waited.

Today and the coming week, however, presented much better weather. It's not going to freeze. In fact it's supposed to be rainy and hotter than average. So hopefully our little veggies will start taking root.

These are the strawberries. We also have cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, and lettuce.

Aside from planting, we also put up a fence. We have bunnies and squirrels occasionally scurrying through our yard. It's not them that we were worried about though. We have a much bigger pest on our hands.

Why our dog likes to wallow in the mud so much, I'll never know. But boy does he ever. By cutting off his access to dirt, it will hopefully keep him cleaner and increase our plants chances of survival.

As you can see, the fence is already doing it's job.
He wants in so bad.
So overall I definitely put this weekend in the win column. However, the next weekend is also shaping up to be pretty awesome. I'm scheduled for a cut and color with my favorite stylist next Saturday, and on Sunday I'll be driving to Michigan to see these friends and meet their new daughter. My cameras will of course be in tow, and I cannot wait to take pictures of them all because, one, they are so photogenic and I love them, and two, I ordered a new camera lens on Friday. It should arrive in a couple days.

Wow. Next weekend cannot come fast enough.

April 15, 2012

So Much Cuter Than Uncle Sam

I just finished paying Uncle Sam my 2011 taxes. That one hurt a little bit, so I am in need of something to brighten my mood. Perhaps you are too? If so, let's delight in just a handful of photos I took of sweet little Maddie earlier today.


I took so many photos of Maddie this afternoon, so I have plenty more to share. These though, I couldn't wait to share.

And now I feel better. I hope you do too.

April 9, 2012

Full House

When Mike and I moved into our new home, it was full of possibilities. The square footage alone allowed us to dream big. We could have a sizable barbecue on the deck, an office that was just an office, a garden full of fresh veggies, a second bedroom with a queen size bed - our options seemed limitless in the face of our old, cramped condo.

The thing that excited me most though was the possibility of having guests. We could have had guests at our old place, and we did. In fact, there was one weekend that we had 5 adults and 6 kids in the condo. That was a stretch.  At the new place however, it is not as much of a stretch.

This past weekend we hosted Mike's sister, brother-in-law and their family, which includes these four kids:
And these two dogs:
Meet Mario (right) and Luigi (left)
Mike and I didn't really plan a lot of activities for their visit, aside from on Sunday attending church and brunch afterward. Our lack of plans were probably a good thing. We all had plenty of fun running around in the sun in our very own backyard.

Taylor totally enjoyed all having company as well. He had dogs to play with and kids to rub his belly. He was so exhausted when they left that he collapsed on the couch for hours. That was an added bonus for Mike and I.

It was really fun to have the house so full and to do the typical Easter things like church, brunch and egg dying. We even had a egg hunt on Sunday night.

Mike busted out his guitar and taught the kids a few tunes.

Mike's oldest niece lost a tooth!

Mike also perfected the sport of niece and nephew tossing. He's quite good.

By far my favorite part of the weekend though was planting our hamburger tree. On Saturday, Mike barbecued a ton of hot dogs and hamburgers. As we were sitting down to eat, one of the boys (Gabe, 4-years-old) handed me some sesame seeds from his hamburger bun. He told me that we should plant them and grow a hamburger tree. I thought that was a fine idea, so after dinner we went out to the garage and grabbed a shovel. The kids helped me find the best spot in the garden and even dig the hole.

As they were leaving on Monday morning, Gabe reminded me that I needed to let him know as soon as the hamburger tree started growing. In about a week, I am going to send this photo to Gabe and the rest of the kids. I really, really wish I could be there to see the look on their faces.
It's not my best Photoshop job, but I think it's good enough to impress a 4-year-old. You think?

April 1, 2012

Wonky No More

In sixth grade, I was given the option by my dentist to get braces. It was an option because my teeth didn't require them, but they also weren't straight. My response to this question was predictable. What sixth grader wants to get braces? Cool kids don't have braces. And even though I was far from being one of the cool kids, getting braces certainly wasn't going to get me any closer to being one of them. So I said no.

And then I regretted it.

While I hated the idea of braces, I also hated my teeth. I had a gap between my two front teeth that was pretty much the first thing I saw whenever I looked in the mirror. I hated it, and it made me self-conscious. It made me so self-conscious that for a brief period in 10th grade, I began trying to laugh with my mouth closed. I am pretty sure it accomplished nothing excepting making me look mildly unbalanced. I also used to after school, on occasion, take two markers and place them on the outer edges of each tooth. I'd then push in a futile effort to force my gap teeth together. Needless to say, doing this for a couple of minutes every once in a while didn't have the effect I had hoped. My gap remained.

And it has remained. I gradually grew to accept it and certainly stopped trying to laugh with my mouth closed. In the back of my mind though, I always wondered what if I had just said yes that day at the dentist. Over time as I thought about this, one of my rear teeth on the upper left side of my mouth started to rotate. It continued rotating to the point where I could feel it moving on given days. Before it knew it, not only did I have a visible gap on my top teeth, but also a rogue tooth that bugged the crap out of me. With a sound mind and the aid of medical insurance, I decided it was time to do something about it. I got Invisalign.

On April 12, 2011, I began the process of straightening my teeth. And just this past Friday, that process ended.
April 11, 2011
April 12, 2011
April 1, 2012
Having Invisalign wasn't easy. It took some getting used to, so much so that a week in I was questioning if I was letting my vanity get the best of me. A little less than a year later, I can 100 percent say that it was worth it. I used to think about my teeth and how much they bugged me on a daily basis. I'd run my tongue over my wonky back tooth and my gap and think what if. I no longer think about that. I also no longer have to worry about nonchalantly removing my Invisalign plastic teeth in public - something I have hated doing. So it's all good. So good, that I can't stop smiling my near perfect smile. If only sixth grade Amy had known how good it could be she would have done this years ago.