Wednesday, August 26, 2015

patio makeover reveal - we're finally done!

wooot! are you excited about this as much as i am? probably not. i don't blame you. but just stay with me because the end result is beeeaaaauuuutiful! 
when we bought our house about 14 months ago, the back yard looked like this:
living in an apartment, it was pretty much our dream come true after you've gone years without a backyard. it was ample but weedy, and in great condition. the deck was spectacular, and i was already imagining all the updates i could do to it. 
about 6 or 7 months went by and we quickly learned the previous owners (also the builders of said deck) did not really build it as a permanent structure. its untreated wood started rotting in the houston weather. there was absolutely no escape for the humidity under that deck, either. 
and then termites. 
so yeah.
it had to go.
we had a blank slate. no real back steps. and sand. lots of sand. it left us scratching our heads on what to do.
build a new wooden deck? whoa that's expensive. not to mention termites, remember? treated wood is really not eco-friendly and i'm not ok with that. 
so i researched concrete pavers and found some winners. then i sketched my design and told gary to get to it. and we did!
we started with an outline, then took out the 'grass'. Gary began building the retaining wall and i started leveling the sand to lay our pavers down. 
it was a lot of dirt. lots of wagon haulin'. it was a lot of sand tracking into my house each day too.
i don't know if you have kids and have done a major update around the house, let me tell you it's a really really tough challenge. which is probably why this project took us around 5 months from start to finish. after all, it was only us two working evenings and weekends and an additional 3 helpless children.
slowly and slowly and slowly our retaining wall was finished and the pavers were laid. it was such a long process. it never felt like i accomplished much each night...
this little girl would beg and beg to come outside with us. the boys would come out sometimes. then the mosquitos. the sun. and the sand. i lost count how many spray cans of mosquito repellent we went through.
we also made our small trampoline into the back steps. it was pretty awesome for the kids.
i know kids can't stand mounds of dirt. they can't stand not being able to climb, dig, and throw dirt. it's what they do. i remember doing it when i was a little girl. boys are noise makers with dirt on them, don't you know? so the boys would dig holes and little girl loved climbing into them and they ALL LOVED THROWING DIRT! 
so each night, all of my chicks climbed into the bath. got clean and went to bed. 
then the next day we would do it all over again. this went on for weeks. some days we wouldn't get around to it and other days we would work twice as hard. 
the chevron pattern made it quite difficult to figure out how many pavers we still needed. my husband was great at cutting the pavers. in fact, he got quite good at it.
then it was time to think about those steps. wooden steps? rock facade? yikes! have you seen the cost of rock? waaay out of our price range. 
so while we were at a local stone/masonry company, gary instantly fell in love with these long gray stones. they were in our price range and they were beautiful! 
we thought and argued and finally agreed over the installation of these steps thee longest. i was so relieved when we finally came to a conclusion.
we recruited a bit of help for their installation, though. the stones were easily over 200 pounds each--and since I couldn't really pick them up and carry them, gary called me a sissy.
so we dug and cemented some cinder blocks to make sure they were sturdy enough for the massiveness of the steps.

add a bit of mortar and some muscle and install! promptly enjoy them too! we liked having steps for the sliding door, finally! i personally love them. i'm not sure what our style is called, and i don't give it much thought. it's just us. 
we poured crushed granite against the house and finished cleaning up. now we spend our mornings outside and it feels OH SO GOOD! I'm so glad we are finally finished!
we had a get together before school started to celebrate our patio. although we are still in need of a grill. however, gary's in no rush for a grill because that would mean he would have to cook--ha! 
and what's best is NO MORE SAND in my house! *evil laugh*
so once more, here's the BEFORE:
Next order of business, or just...on the list is paint the patio table to match the chairs. We want to paint the exterior of the house, build a pergola & set up a privacy fence but gary said he needed a break from projects! and I really want to work on landscaping in the new year.

I can't wait for that fence though...

So what do you think?? Don't you love a good DIY home project? Have you ever done one this big? how did you handle it? 
Til next time! 

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Monday, August 24, 2015

First Day of School 2015-2016

and it begins again. the hustle and bustle (wha..?) of the new school year. 
this year is a very exciting one. my youngest boy enters Kindergarten after two years of watching his brother take off for school each day. 
he will love being bragged about at school how he is the little brother. how they are related. but i hope he makes his own mark at school. make his own little friends. to be known as Jonah. not Andrew's little brother. 
this morning, before heading out, i took some pictures of my guys--including some silly face ones! 
 So first grade & kindergarten. They're growing up!
daddy will drop them off and I will pick them up. no bus riding for these kids! 

My prayer each day for my kids is this: 
That they lead by example and are lights in other children's hearts. To always choose right from wrong. That any problems they may face, will be resolved with trustworthiness & confidence. That they make the best of friends and get along with their teachers. 

To my husband the school teacher slash coach: I love you and am grateful for your sacrifice and all your hard work. I always pray that you will be an amazing example to your students and that you have the knowledge to guide them through the straight & narrow. Let them look up to you, Coach Witty. 

I hope that your children will have a blessed school year as well! Let's make it a good one...

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Bayou Bend Gardens - Houston

during may, we visited the bayou bend gardens. and it was easily 1000% humidity. it was hot (but not as hot as it is right now so i'm not technically complaining) the magnolias were all blooming with their beautiful off-white color and i could have easily stopped at each tree throughout the whole property to photograph them. after all, they stay more still than a child. 
the gardens are a ways down from the museum. so we headed in that direction.
there's a tiny little suspended bridge that you have to cross into the gardens, and for me it was a little unsettling. the stroller hardly fit as it was mostly a 1-person, 1-way type of bridge. not my thing as i freaked out a bit, but definitely cool for an added effect as we go over the buffalo bayou. 
when we finally reached the gardens, the boys just took off. labyrinth type gardens are the best ones to run around in, i gather. some tourists were around but for the most part, it was serene except for the wild witty boys.
 the gardens were so green. so beautiful. so peaceful. i could spend many quiet times here, i imagine.
and those magnolias i was talking about? oh gosh, just look at how a 'mother faerie' appears through those petals. *heart eyes emoji* you don't see a faerie? look closer!
then the butterfly garden--jonah's favorite. he walked and walked in between the bushes not realizing its shape. so i pointed it out. he then pretended to be the butterfly :)
Ima Hogg, known as the First Lady of Texas, planned and overlooked the gardens before she donated the entire property to MFAH. her residence sits atop the hill and is ginormous full of art and beautiful furniture. we did not tour the house but really enjoyed the gardens and what they offered (read: we had to pay extra).
there were steps everywhere. on the trails. pathways. down the ravines. up to the house, down beside the house, into the gardens...definitely not stroller accessible for the most part! 
the boys enjoyed racing each other everywhere.
let's talk about trees. my gosh they are enormous! i nearly broke my neck taking some pictures. i am not a knowledgeable tree person, but i could still appreciate the ancient beings. gary found it interesting that some trees were grounded by cables to protect them from getting hit by lightning. never have seen that before.
i never got tired of taking a picture. we were also hot but nobody cared...the boys always wanting to explore the next part of the gardens & elena always trying to catch up. they wouldn't stand still for pictures so they kept me running. and once i just sat down to rest on the steps in front of the house, we began to play 'red light, green light'. jonah was a big cheater, to no one's surprise...
elena was so proud of herself---she conquered those stairs! 
and up and up she went.
we had finally ran all over the place and it was time to get back on that darn bridge & head home.
i asked the boys to turn around so i could document their tired little faces. their soaking wet hair against their necks and foreheads definitely meant they had had a good time.
houston has so much to offer. if you're ever in the area plan a visit to the gardens! they're unlike any other i've been to. humid, certainly, but beautiful. 
let me know if you have ever visited or recommend other places in houston. i would love to hear about it! 

have a blessed week everyone! 

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