Saturday, December 17, 2011

Asher singing The Element Song

Asher memorized The Element Song by Tom Lehrer and sang it (A Capella)  for his math camp/school talent show Thursday night. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Removing Carpet/Staining the Floors

We have spent the better part of our weekends for the last few months on a large house project.  We removed all the carpet except for our living room which we replaced a few years ago so it is in much better shape than the old carpet in the other six rooms (3 bedrooms, meditation room, school/art room, office).  We need to add transition strips between the stained concrete and the ceramic tile which we will have to wait to do as we are ordering it online and need to wait a few weeks for it to arrive.  Other than that, we are done. 

We started by pulling up the carpet in the master bedroom.  That meant carpet, carpet pad, and tack strips.  Little did we know that pulling those things would be the easy part.  Under the carpet pad was a nearly overwhelming amount of paint on the floor and carpet glue as well as notations done with a permanent marker for placement of light fixtures and electrical outlets.  On the first room we hoped that there was a product that could help with the paint removal so we bought two gallons of (pretty expensive) Ready-Strip paint remover. What we found was that soaking the paint in water, using a sharp paint stripper, and a lot of elbow grease worked even better and cost much less.  At that point, we had not yet decided what to do about staining the floors so we finished cleaning the floor and put the furniture back.  A week or two later, we stripped the floor in the school/art room but again put the furniture back without staining. 

Before beginning the next room we did some research and found SoyCrete Concrete Stain which is sold locally at House & Earth.  The folks there were happy to answer our questions and the stain is sold in gallons or small 2 oz. bottles to test. We got 5 sample bottles and stained some patches in the garage before deciding on our colors. 

For Chiara's bedroom we cleaned the floors and then stained the floor.  The stain had nearly no smell and we didn't even feel the need to open the windows. The staining process basically required wiping on the stain with a sponge and wiping it back off quickly so it didn't take in uneven splotches.  Both kids helped with the staining and we let Chiara put a hand-print in her closet.  We found that the Burgundy Wine was a little deep for our taste so we used the sample bottle of Carribean Blue to give it some depth.
Chiara and Mama working on her room.

Chiara's hand-prints


Chiara's floor

Chiara's room

Chiara's room in action!

The next weekend or weekend after that we took the carpet out of the meditation room.  Asher decided that he wanted to move to the meditation room so he and Chiara would be next to each other (that was always our intention).  We pulled the carpet out of the room and moved Asher's stuff to his new room - complete with a map wall. 

Asher's map wall

Asher's floor

Asher's floor/map wall/desk

Asher's room/bed

Next we tackled Asher's old room which we turned into a play/rumpus room. (The picture is above with the purple rug with rectangles on it. Blogger won't allow me to place it here or put a caption on it.)

Then we spent a weekend going back to the first two rooms: the master bedroom and the school/art room.  On the school/art room we used the concrete black with Burgundy Wine accent so it is a different color from the bedrooms. 

School/art room

School/art room with furniture

Master bedroom from the doorway

Master bedroom

My closet

That left us the room we knew would be the hardest/longest project - the office/library.  We tackled the project Veteran's Day weekend with Rachel, Chiara, and I moving books while Rachel repeated "Love me, love my books" over and over.  We also decided to rearrange the front two rooms so that one would be the library/piano room and the other would be office/school/art.  I think they both turned out wonderfully.

Book pile(s) #1

Book pile(s) #2

Books #3

Library/piano room

Library/piano room



A bit messy in front of the desk but a long view of the Office/school room

Most of the rooms now have rugs in them to dampen the echo and keep the house a little warmer in the Winter.  I think that the floors will be much easier on our allergies and just generally cleaner.  It was a great project and a really great project to finish!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday.  We went to a Fall Festival at the school where Asher goes to weekly Math class/camp and a Halloween party and then the kids went trick-or-treating last night.  After they were done trick-or-treating, they handed out the remainder of our candy. 

They did all those activities dressed in the costumes that they requested and Rachel made: an atlas and bugs bunny. 

The kids practicing trick-or-treating.
Asher showing off his USGS maps.

Asher designed his pumpkin and did part of the carving.  Chiara requested a scary ghost on hers and Rachel carved it. 



Friday, August 19, 2011

Visit from Friends

Our friends, The Sullivans, from Houston came to visit us last week. They only stayed a few days but we had a lot of fun with them.

Rachel reading a Mercy Watson book to all five kids.

Rachel, Chiara, Dylan, & Molly making cookies.

The girls posing.

Dylan wouldn't get in the circle of heads picture.

Asher, Chiara, Molly, & Leah.

Asher getting twinned.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Pictures

Wow. The Summer is nearly half-over and I haven't posted pictures in months. The good news is that the kids are as adorable as always (I swear); we just haven't taken many pictures lately. Or the ones we have taken are on our cell phones and we just keep them there. Our Summer is going very well. We've visited the farm, had a long visit from Phoebe, and done a lot of swimming. Asher is able to stay afloat and swim without touching bottom. It's still a doggy-paddle but it's swimming! Neither Asher nor Chiara want to put their faces in the water.

Chiara loves dress-up. We found this hand-me-down ladybug costume and she has worn it many days in the last two weeks.

Here are some pictures of the kids while they were dressed to go to a party.

And a picture of Chiara enjoying some corn on the cob.

I hope everyone is having as nice (if not as hot and dry) as summer as we are.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dinosaur Park Birthday Party

We went to a birthday party at the Dinosaur Park in Bastrop this weekend. It was a nice place for a party and the weather was lovely. Asher got eaten by a dinosaur and Chiara petted this one.

Rachel has been knitting really fantastic animals for various kid birthday parties lately and she made a great dinosaur (maybe a plesosaur?) but I don't have pictures on this computer.

Sorry for the lack of pictures and posts. We haven't been taking many pictures lately.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Austin Livestrong Marathon/Half-Marathon

The Austin Livestrong Marathon & Half-Marathon was yesterday and I ran my first half-marathon. I've been training for months and running for just under a year to prepare for this event. I ran as part of Team Livestrong (about 500 members out of 20,000 runners) to raise money for Livestrong which "works to inspire and empower people affected by cancer." I raised $888 through my donation page. You can still donate if you wish to do so.

My primary goal was simply to finish the half-marathon (13.1 miles) but the goal in my head was to finish in 2:45 or less. My official time was 2:50:24 so I missed that goal by just over 5 minutes. I think I was thwarted in reaching that goal by the hills which were bigger and longer than I was prepared for, the crowd of people running slowly or walking, and the line to use the porta-potty when I stopped at mile 8.

Regardless, it was a wonderful experience. I've read advice that you should never commit to either run or never run an event for a week after a race, but I would definitely say that I would do this again (and again and again).

My sister Mitzi and nephew Jonah came up from Houston to cheer me on. My niece and brother-in-law would have come but Alissa got sick the night before and they couldn't travel. When I reached the Chuck E Cheese on Ben White (5 mile of the race), I saw Rachel, Chiara, Asher, Christie, David, Ezra, Mitzi, and Jonah. They were shouting my name, pounding on a pot with a stick, and holding up signs for me. Mitzi ran with me for a minute to hand me a bar and I could still hear them screaming for me and hear the pot-banging for another 2 blocks.

Bands played all over the course which was very fun to run by. I tried to clap and cheer for them as I went by.

David, Christie, Ezra, Mitzi, and Jonah again cheered for me at mile 7. I heard the pot-banging first and it came as a surprise as I didn't expect to see them so soon.

At mile 9, I ran by a huge station of Team Livestrong volunteers and spectators. The line stretched for 1/4 mile or more. They manned the water station, picked out team members from the crowd and cheered us by name, and had written notes and names on the ground with chalk. It really picked me up and also made me tear up as I thought of all the family members I've lost to cancer.

Next, I saw our friends Heather, Mackey, and Jayna around mile 11. Sharyn was walking and was well behind me but they cheered and danced for me. The biggest hill on our course was the hill up 15th and it came after about 11.5 miles so most of the people near me were walking. I probably would have walked as well but I saw Jonah and Ezra at the bottom and asked where everyone else was. They said at the top and to run with them so the three of us ran it which felt great.

At 15th & San Jacinto my friend Garth and his two little boys were at the corner cheering for me. That was a really nice surprise since I didn't know they were coming down to the race. He yelled that it was only 800 more meters. At 200 meters I sprinted with everything I had although I was one of the only half-marathoners running at that point.

Rachel and the kids met me near the finish although they hadn't been able to get there in time to see me. We got my medal and shirt and went to meet everyone else for lunch at Chuy's. It was a great day and was wonderful to have so much support.