Sunday, May 19, 2013


This makes two years in a row that we have been home and not traveling for Thanksgiving.  So Charlie & I decided to cook up a storm and invite some of my family over to celebrate the holiday with us.  My two sisters Wendy & Sandy, and Sandy’s family came over. 

Charlie did the turkey and I’m glad he did because it still seems just a bit intimidating to me.  I’m so thankful to have a husband that likes to cook!

I didn’t get a lot of pictures because I guess I was too busy eating or something.  Here’s the spread before we got started.

Sandy & Wendy were serving up rolls at the kids table.

 The brother-in-laws, Charlie & Chris.

Luke & I sharing some pie.  Luke shares my love of sweets and we both ate way too much pie that night (and the rest of the week). 

The next day we went to Huntington Beach to meet up with my friend & old college roommate Erin.  She & her family were in town visiting family for the holiday.  We hung out at the beach for awhile but it was a little too cold, so everyone came back to the Woodbridge pool instead.  I don’t get to see Erin often but we talked and talked just like we were back in the Glenwood.  It was so fun to see her and her cute family.  I hope they come back soon!   

For some reason I thought we could take our boys to the beach and have them stay on the sand so I did not put them in swim trunks.  Luke ran straight for the water anyway(he is a total Wood in that way) and ended up soaking wet and freezing cold.  

The Seven Year Itch

On the morning of our seven year anniversary Charlie told me that he was getting the "seven year itch."  Of course he was laughing while he said it so I have to assume he was only joking...right?  I thought it was funny.

This was the first year that we actually hired a baby sitter and went out for our anniversary.  It was so so nice!  Isaac's primary teacher had offered to baby sit for us and this was the second time we had her come.  I can probably count on one hand the times we've had a baby sitter since having kids.  It's pretty sad.  So we really enjoyed having alone time to celebrate our seven lovely years of marriage.

I had Nathalie take a few pictures of us before we went out.

She also text me some pictures of the kids that night.  I love this one of Luke and his "cheese" face.

We went to Fashion Island and had dinner at True Food Kitchen and did a little shopping at the mall.  Having a little time alone is always a good reminder of why I married Charlie in the first place.  We had such a fun night and definitely need to get out more often.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Halloween (Yes, I'm blogging about Halloween in May)

Now it's time to get caught up on the last several months of laziness.

It is crazy to me how Halloween has become such a huge commercialized holiday.  It has never been one of my favorites, but every holiday is more fun with children and Halloween is no exception.

We passed the Johnson Brother's pumpkin patch everyday on the way to Isaac's school, so it was more of a question of "when" we were going than "if."  We invited some friends to come with us and had a fun night letting the boys run everywhere and play.  It was a week night so it wasn't too crowded, which was nice.

We checked in with the "How Tall This Fall" scarecrow to see how the boys were measuring up this year.

Isaac's favorite thing was the Haunted House, which was actually just a haunted hallway, but I guess that's good enough when you're 5.  I think he would have spent all night running through that hallway if we would have let him.  Isaac would take Luke's hand and lead him through too, which was cute since he is not usually very interested in his little brother's company.

Next stop was the petting zoo.  Luke was a little timid around the goats, but liked watching them from the safety of Mom or Dad's arms.  Isaac on the other hand was smiling ear to ear and giggling as the goats gobbled piles of food from his hands.

Last year Isaac's favorite thing was the pony ride, so we were sure he would want to ride again.  But for some reason he was acting weird and insisted on sitting on a bale of hay to watch while Luke rode instead.  Luke loved it!

We bounced in the bounce houses and rode in all of the mechanical vehicles.  The kids climbed and played on the fort made from hay bales.  Isaac went crazy swinging his fists at the giant hay filled punching bags.

Don't let Luke's cute innocent face in this picture fool you.

Any pumpkin that was light enough for him to lift was also immediately thrown.  All night he kept saying "ball, ball, ball!" and chucking every little pumpkin he could get his hands on.

At the end of the night we picked out a small pumpkin to purchase for Isaac.  We'd already bought some larger ones from the grocery store, but as you can see, Isaac wasn't too happy about this.  Mr. Grumpster.

The next Halloween activity was pumpkin decorating.  Isaac's class has share day every Friday at school and the assignment for the week was to bring a pumpkin that they decorated.  Isaac and I had several conversations about the pumpkin and how we should decorate it.  We finally decided to make a Robot pumpkin from Isaac's favorite TV show, Robot & Monster on Nickelodeon.  He was soooo excited about this idea and got really into it.  We went to Lowe's and got some miscellaneous hardware pieces to use for his hands and some orange spray paint.  We picked up craft paint at Michael's for his eyes & letter "R."  We gave him some random wheels that we had laying around and used a pipe cleaner for his antenna.  His arms were made from little plastic cups glued together at an angle & spray painted orange.

Isaac loved, loved, LOVED his pumpkin and was so proud of it.  He wanted to show everyone that came to our house.  He kept it on his dresser for weeks after Halloween until it started getting moldy where we had drilled his wheels in.

Moving on.  A few days before Halloween was the big Trunk or Treat at church.  Charlie was out of town so it was just me & the boys.  It was their first time to get all dressed up in their costumes.  I don't think Luke really had any clue what was going on or what he was supposed to be, but he did like wearing a hat.  He loves hats.  And Isaac, of course, was most excited about his helmet.  Here are my little Trunk or Treaters all dressed up and ready to go.

This is Isaac and his friend Hudson.  They were born just a few weeks apart and have grown up together.

It was Luke's first time trick-or-treating.  He caught on really quickly to what he was supposed to be doing.  He couldn't quite say the words but he won the candy passer-outers over with his cute smile and his little outstretched hand.  I'm not sure Luke even realized he was filling his bucket with candy, but he sure did like dropping each piece into his pumpkin bucket.

Once we were back at home Luke figured it all out really quickly.  He couldn't eat that candy fast enough!  I eventually had to hide the buckets because even when they were way up on the kitchen counter, he kept pointing and begging for more.  Luke has much more of a sweet tooth than Isaac ever did.  But don't get me wrong, Isaac ate his fair share of treats that night too.

The day before Halloween Isaac had a costume parade at school.  Luke and I got to go watch.  Well I watched and Luke climbed around on the playground, rode tricycles, and threw balls.  There were some other astronauts in the parade, but Isaac was the only one with the cool helmet.

Isaac & Luke also got Halloween cards in the mail from their grandparents.

And finally the big night arrived.  We had to get a good picture of our space crew before sending them out on their mission.  It is always a challenge getting even one of these three to look at the camera let alone all three of them!  But here they are - the Wood brother astronauts and their trusty space shuttle dog Cracker.

When Isaac decided that he wanted to be an astronaut I was a little stumped at first about how to dress Cracker.  They have always had matching costumes and I couldn't let this year be any different.  Finally Mikael gave me the idea of dressing Cracker as a space shuttle.  I googled it and found another shuttle dog to base his costume off of.  The costume was time consuming, but not necessarily difficult to make.  We really only needed it for a few good pictures.

Cracker was a good sport.

After pictures we set out trick or treating.  Isaac is always more interested in everyone's decorations than in the candy.  We just went up and down one street and called it a night, and everyone was happy.  Until next year, Happy Halloween!  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The New Kitchen

I'm about seven months behind on this blog, which is kind of depressing because I actually do want to keep it up to date.  I think I'm down to only about five readers but I like having the blog for myself so that I can look back on trips, holidays, and other events and have my memories all written down and my photos organized.  I will go back and update all that I've missed in the past several months but for now I'm just going to go ahead with the kitchen post.  No one really cares about my Halloween photos in May, right?

From the time we purchased this condo six years ago, we knew that we wanted to redo the kitchen.  Before we moved in we gave it a little update by painting the cabinets white and the walls a bright green apple color.  And every year since then we've talked about doing the full renovation.  This year we finally bit the bullet and went for it.  

Our main purpose in redoing the kitchen is for resale.  We don't have any immediate plans to put our home on the market, but we hope that in the next couple of years we'll be ready to move on and we want to be ready when the time comes.  Besides, if there's going to be a whole new kitchen - we might as well enjoy it for awhile, right?   

Because we designed the kitchen with potential buyers in mind, we wanted to keep everything as neutral looking as possible.  We didn't necessarily choose the materials or the colors that we loved the most, but just what we thought would be the best fit.

We found a contractor that we liked and scheduled a start date.  His name was Luong and he was a young Vietnamese guy.  He was super nice - almost too nice.  He was always bowing to me, only called me Mrs. Wood, and took off his shoes every time he came in (I kept telling him to leave them on - I mean really, why are you walking around this dusty, scrap covered floor in your socks dude?).

Alright, so let's get to the pictures.  Here are a few before shots.  This was after most of the kitchen was packed up, so it looks a little bare.  We normally have a bit more stuff out on the counters. 

In this photo you can see our embarrassingly dirty grout.  We think that the old owner did a lot of the fix-ups around the house himself.  And he did not seal the grout.  It was nearly impossible to get clean.  

Now let the renovation begin!  This project was way more stressful than I ever thought it would be.  In addition to the construction noise, mess, and inconvenience, there were so many details that Charlie and I had to make decisions on.  And watching the whole process I kept noticing every little error or problem and stressing out about everything.  

On Monday morning they started demolition and the whole thing was gutted within a couple of hours.  Overall we liked our contractor, but there were a few things we wish he would have been more on top of.  Like scheduling time to paint.  We had decided to save ourselves the $500 and do it ourselves, but it would have been so much easier to do in an empty room.  They started installing the new cabinets right after lunch, so by that evening the kitchen looked like this:

So painting had to wait until the end.  The cabinets were not custom made, and the tall one in the corner ended up being a little too big.  It just barely fits outside the cut-out area in the ceiling, but there was not any room for molding around the top.  Other than the tall pantry, all of the new cabinets are slightly smaller than the old ones.  There were gaps all around with different colors of paint, so leaving the green was definitely not an option.  We were planning to paint anyway, but I always really liked the green.

Meanwhile our dining room was housing all of our appliances and the living room was home to dozens of boxes filled with our dishes, food, etc.  We could still use our refrigerator and microwave, so feeding ourselves wasn't horrible.  Breakfast and lunch were totally doable and we went out pretty much every night for dinner.  

We found ourselves at Lowe's and Home Depot almost every other day during the remodel.  It was kind of fun picking out things like a faucet, new hardware for the cabinets, a new dishwasher (we discovered that our old one was still leaking even though we thought it was fixed), a window covering for the side door, and a paint color, but it was also stressful because we always had our boys with us and they are not the most patient shoppers. 

The hardest thing of all was picking out granite.  We originally planned to go with a dark grayish color, but then decided that it would probably clash with our existing flooring which we had opted to keep.  Anyway, we went with our contractor to the stone yard and agonized for an hour or so over which color we should go with.  But some colors only came in smaller sizes, so did we want more seams?  And some had rounded edges and some had square edges.  And then once we found a slab we liked we had to find another piece from another section of the warehouse that would maybe kind of match the first piece even though each piece looks totally different and some don't match at all.  Totally stressful!  Not to mention trying to keep Isaac and Luke from being run over by one of the many forklifts that were constantly zipping past and swinging giant slabs of granite over our heads.  

We decided on a color called Colonial Cream and we are really happy with it.  This is the actual slab we picked.  It has square edges which I wasn't sure about at the time, but Charlie convinced me and now I love it.  

Isaac and Luke both loved watching the work in progress.  They'd often pull up chairs in the dining room and sit to watch for awhile.  It was really convenient that we could just put a baby gate up on the doorway to keep the boys and Cracker from getting in the way.  The workers used the side entrance to the kitchen so the mess and noise of it all felt pretty contained.  

We tried to match the paint color as closely as possible to the taupe-ish color that was used in the dining room and in most of the house.  We didn't know the actual name of the color, but we found a pretty good match.  A day or two after we had finished painting Luke found some extra brushes lying around and started doing some painting himself.  

We re-stained and sealed the grout to hide all of the impossible dirt stains.  And we had to have one tile replaced because it was cracked.  There were two extra tiles left by the previous owner.  One was an exact match to the floor and the other was just slightly different.  Of course the tile guy put the exact match UNDER THE REFRIGERATOR and the different looking one right in the entrance of the kitchen.  There were a few things like that that absolutely drove me crazy.  Like can't these guys use their brains?  Also, did he really think this new wood molding was a good match for our existing floor? We had them replace that, but it was too late for the tile (bottom right corner in the picture).

And just in case I haven't dragged this post out long enough, here is a photo of our new dining room set.  We had been meaning to replace the old one (which Charlie had before we were married).  Then when we were moving the table back in place after the kitchen was done, a leg broke off of it.  So that pretty much sealed it's fate.  I love the new set but it is a tad too big for the room because it is hard to scoot the chairs in and out and still have room to walk around.  So now we just need a bigger dining room, right?

And now finally, here are the pictures of the finished kitchen.

I don't think the change looks that dramatic, especially since we had white cabinets before and after.  But I absolutely love it.  I love the granite that we chose.  I love how the floor finally looks clean.  I love putting things away inside new cabinets that are clean and white inside instead of dark and gross.  Also, we did a major clean out and took about two carloads of kitchen stuff to Goodwill, so there is now tons more space everywhere.  We bought a new toaster, new trashcan, and new paper towel holder - little things, but they made a difference.  I need to get some nice new towels or something to add a little color, but the whole thing feels fresh and clean.  From start to finish it was just a little over two weeks, which was really not too bad.  We are so happy to have it done!