Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Demolition Day!

Tomorrow begins DEMOLITION! I'm so EXCITED!! I thought I'd better post our "before" pictures quick!

Obviously, the front of our house... everything goes!

One of the things Steve and I love about our house, is all the brick. Unfortunately, it's been covered by these overgrown shrubs! Last summer, Steve pulled out three shrubs and planted a rose bush that Great Grandma Struckmann gave me for my birthday. The rose bush didn't make it, but the other shrubs came back! Go figure...

Here's a close up shot of the front of our house. The two windows on the bottom are the lower level bedrooms and don't get much sunlight because of these shrubs.

This is the side of our house. There was never any landscaping to begin with... just a lot of rock and a lot of weeds.

The back of the house. Once again, this overgrown shrub is going bye-bye! Steve used to be able to get in between the shrub and the fence to mow, but not anymore.

The back of the house including the deck. When we moved in, this area in front of the deck had a TON of flowers, weeds, and bushes in a massive disarray! We eventually pulled out everything, planted grass seed, and now it will be ripped up again and planted with beautiful boxwoods!

This area is right by the step of our deck. It's a pretty large step down, so they are going to build up the dirt, and put a few stepping stones off the step.

This was the previous owner's garden and soon to be mine! Again, this was a hodge-podge of flowers, weeds, and a spirea plant right in the middle. Our friends, the Hulls, dug out the spirea plant to transplant at their house and the rest is being dug out and new soil is being put back in. I'm most excited about this part of the landscaping project. I don't have a lot of knowledge about gardening, but this will be my opportunity to learn!

The other side of our house. Again, we had ripped out everything when we first moved in, but never planted anything to replace it.

The edge of the house, near the garage. The concrete edging will come out a bit, and a variegated dogwood bush will be planted (to help cover the utility box).

Hopefully, I'll get a chance to get some demolition pictures taken tomorrow and posted soon.

Lark Toys

One of my patients recommended that we take a quick trip to Kellogg, MN to visit Lark Toys. Last Sunday, we finally decided to make the trip and we had a great time. We weren't sure what to expect, but it surpassed our expectations.

Lark Toys is described as being one of the largest independent specialty toy stores in the United States. They have over 20,000 square feet of stores including every toy imaginable, books, science projects, craft ideas, games, and puzzles. There is also a Memory Lane Toy Museum with toys from the past.

Here Amaya is putting a puzzle together:

They have a great area full of dress up clothes for purchase. Amaya didn't want to try on any of the crazy hats or sunglasses, but both Steve and I enjoyed it! I love this hamburger hat and fun sunglasses!

We indulged in Strawberry ice cream, Fruit Loop flavored ice-cream, and homemade fudge. My favorite fudge was the Caramel Cashew, Steve liked the Peanut Butter Chocolate, and Amaya liked them all!

Lark Toys has a one of a kind, hand carved wooden carousel and it took over a period of nine years to carve and hand-stain them. We thought Amaya might enjoy a ride, so we gave it a whirl. At first, she had a death grip on me:

And then... pretty soon she was laughing every time we passed Steve. She loved it so much, that she waited a half an hour to go back on the carousel for a second time! Roller coasters here she comes!

They also have a scenic 18 hole miniature golf course with crazy blue waterfalls and a mountain that you play through. We didn't have enough time to play, but maybe next time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tree Trimming

One of the projects that's been on Steve's list for a long time was trimming our tree in the backyard. Our friends the Hulls, loaned us their tree trimming saw and graciously offered to help! They came over in the afternoon and while the two Steves trimmed trees (they ended up doing some of our neighbor's tree), Jen, Cooper, Amaya and I played.

Here's the before picture:

And the after:

Amazing! We actually do have neighbors back there!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Landscaping Links

If you're curious, here are some links to the companies/organizations mentioned in Jan's blog post below:

La Crosse Children's Museum

Ground Pros MN

Creative Curb Appeal

Community Lawn Care

Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Random Thoughts

I'm having one of those weeks where there is so much to blog about, pictures to post, etc. but I haven't had the time to sit down and really blog. And because there is so much to blog about, I'm feeling rather overwhelmed! So in a nutshell, this is what's been happening this past week.

Lacrosse Children's Museum:
We've been looking for things to do on the weekend now that I work every 4th weekend instead of every other weekend. One of the things we wanted to do over the 4th of July was to spend some time in Lacrosse. Unfortunately, with Amaya getting sick, we were only able to go the Children's Museum. But it was worth it! They had an area for kids under the age of 4, a clmibing wall, a make-believe Kwik Trip - seriously it was AWESOME! We can't wait to go back, so if anyone wants to go - let us know!

Ben's Birthday:
Last night we celebrated Ben's 11th Birthday! We went to Lydia's T-ball game, which unfortunately had to end short because of the rain. Amaya spent the whole time on the playground with Miles and Annika going up and down the slide. We went back to Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson's for pizza and dirt dessert! Sooo good! Amaya especially enjoyed the dirt dessert and probably should have been dunked in the tub or hosed down to get all the oreos off. Ben got a gift certificate to Dick's sporting goods for a new baseball glove, two Webkins, and ROOT BEER BARRELS!

Groundbreaking begins on Wednesday (we think). Ground Pros will be coming to rip out everything and on Thursday, Creative Curb Appeal will be installing the concrete edging. Either Saturday or Monday, Ground Pros will come back out and install our plants, flowers, and trees. We meet with Creative Curb Appeal tomorrow to go over different colors and shapes of the concrete edging. We've also hired Community Lawn Care (a referral from Ground Pros), to do some major overhaul on our weed issue. What's great about Community Lawn Care is that 10% of our bill will go to a charity of our choice. We've chosen Christian Fellowship of Athletes and found out that the manager goes to our sister church in town. (I haven't had time to get "before" pictures, but that's on my To Do List this weekend.)

Along with landscaping, Steve's been working very hard getting odds and end projects done around the house. He fixed the downstairs bathroom fan, glued down the kitchen countertop that had never been glued down, painted our basketball pole, hung up our new American flag, killed a whole bunch of bugs that one of the landscapers found, hung up some pictures for me, etc - Just to name a few! :-)

I've also been working on some projects. I've organized my kitchen cabinets, separated my floss for my cross-stitch project, caught up on old e-mails, finished 5 puzzles, read 12 books, weeded through Amaya's clothes (still in 12-18 month clothes to my dismay - I have so many cute 18-24 month summer outfits - maybe Hope or Baby Girl Hull can use them if they don't end up working for Amaya), got 3 cards made, copied all my recipes in my recipe binders, got the pictures hung of the Springer's and Amaya - 8 down, 2 to go!, sewed all of Steve's buttons on his shorts and mended some other clothes, and decided that we'll make the fourth bedroom a guest bedroom (when we have money)... whew! We're getting there - slowly but surely!

What can I say? This girl has got personality! Can two introverts really make an extrovert? She's been jabbering more and more and talks to everyone (just as long as she initiates the interaction.) Every day she picks up more words. A few days ago, she learned "eyebrow", although she says it, "eye-bow" and "airplane". Steve and I keep wondering where the time goes. She's no longer a baby and becomes more and more like an independent toddler. But, we're enjoying every minute! (Okay, okay - we enjoy MOST minutes!)

The Springer's are coming up from Nebraska on Monday! Steve will be working partial days and I'm off for 12 days! We're looking forward to go to MOA, the Olmsted County Fair (I hope you kids are wanting to go on some rides with me!), and Oxbow, swimming, etc. The time always goes so fast when they visit, but we sure pack in a lot of fun and memories!

That's about it... pictures coming soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Be Careful What You Say...

Now that Amaya has been picking up more and more words, we've been warned to "Be careful what you say." Last night, we were at Grandma and Grandpa Gustafson's house and Grandma was trying to teach Amaya to say, "Yabba Dabba Do!" So today... all I'm hearing is "yabba bow, yabba bow!" Thanks Grandma... :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

10,000 Hits

Woo-hoo! 10,000 hits to our blog! I wanted to be the 10,000th person, but I'll settle for 10,001...

Landscaping Project

When we moved into our house two years ago, there was quite a bit of work that needed to be done on the inside as well as the outside. We wanted a house that needed a little bit of TLC (so we could "make it our own"), so over the years, we've enjoyed painting, ripping down wallpaper (okay, we really didn't enjoy this - actually, I think I cried several times after spending DAYS trying to get a wallpaper border taken down in our bedroom), and NOW LANDSCAPING!

Initially, Steve and I thought we'd tackle this project ourselves, but after looking at all we wanted to do, we didn't want to spend the rest of our summer trying to pull out literally EVERYTHING, replace the rock with bark, replace the edging, and plant new shrubs, flowers, etc. We just finished meeting with 7 different landscaping companies and after getting different opinions and advice, finally decided to go with Ground Pros. It's been a VERY steep learning curve for both of us. We've learned so much about edging - plastic, bullets, pavers, and poured concrete. We've also learned a lot about different types of perennials, shrubs, trees. It's almost overwhelming with the amount of information out there!

We also have a boxed in "garden"that will stay, but definitely needs a new face lift - it's mainly weeds and grasses leftover from the previous owners. Ground Pros is going to rip everything out of the box and put in new dirt so I can have an area to experiment and get my hands dirty. I think I'm most excited about this!

We're hoping the be finished by mid-August (depending on how busy the crew is) and will most definitely post "before" and "after" pictures.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Amaya has a fascination with an old friend from Sesame Street: Elmo. It began when she'd spend the day at my parents while Steve and I were working and she'd watch Elmo's World. Whenever we'd go shopping, she'd spot something with Elmo on it and get really excited, point, and say, "Uh, uh!" Shortly thereafter, she learned how to say, "Elmo." Now, we have Elmo sippy cups, books about Elmo, we check out DVDs from the library with Elmo in them, and we found a stuffed Elmo at a garage sale! Elmo has been a source of comfort for Amaya especially when she was in the ER a few weeks ago. We're not at the point where Elmo is attached at her hip, but she always sleeps with him and her purple blanket.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer Fun

Some of Amaya's favorite things to do outside are pushing her stroller around (in the background - 50 cents at a garage sale), playing ball, going down the slide, and playing in her new sand and water table. Amaya also loves smelling and watering our flowers. Whenever I water our flowers, Amaya gets her watering can and wants to smell the flowers and "help" water them. Unfortunately, usually one or both of us gets wet in the process.

Amaya being her cute old self - bracelet and all! (Thanks Grandma Gustafson!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Update on Amaya

Thank you so much for your prayers these past few days. Amaya is finally back to her normal, cheerful, mischievous self! I haven't seen her this happy in a long time!

We took her to the doctor yesterday after she developed a suspicious looking rash on her face, trunk, arms, and legs on Sunday. The doctor thinks it's some type of viral illness. In order to come down with a definitive diagnosis, she would need to get a blood sample from Amaya. Since the treatment for the rash wouldn't change with a diagnosis, the doctor didn't think it was necessary to get a blood test. She mentioned quite a bit about fifth's disease:
but didn't want to diagnosis her with that because it generally occurs with older children and she had such a high fever which isn't typical for fifth's disease. What we do know is that the rash will go away eventually and since it doesn't bother Amaya, there's nothing more that we can do.

We're relieved and very thankful that Amaya is feeling better and that this chapter in her life is done.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Febrile Seizure and a Trip to the ER

It's been a rough couple of days. Steve and I went out on a date night Thursday and left Amaya with mom and dad. They called a few hours later and said that she had a really high fever and not quite herself, so we thought that maybe we should go pick her up. She's been running fevers off and on related to teething since Wednesday night, but at 12:45am Friday morning, Steve heard Amaya do this weird cough/cry thing and when he called for me, she was shaking and drooling and her eyes starting doing this weird eye-rolling thing and then went unresponsive. Steve called 911 while I tried to arouse her (she never stopped breathing and her heart didn't stop, but this was one of my biggest fears). I checked a rectal temp and she was 104.9! It was probably the scariest moment ever. I'm still trying to get the image out of my head because we both thought we were losing her. The ambulance and fire truck came so quickly and said that she had a febrile seizure. The seizure only lasted about a minute, but it felt like much longer. She didn't have to be transported by the ambulance because she was arousable and snapping out of the postictal stage. We then headed to the ER to have her fully evaluated. The MDs said that this is more common than people think, but that the chances of her having another one were slim and that 1 of 25 kids between 6 months and 3 years old experience this. Because her fever was so high, they checked a urine sample and that came out just fine. She's still having off and on fevers, but nothing nearly quite as bad. We're alternating tylenol and ibuprofen and checking her about 50 times a night. Please pray that her fevers would go away and please be praying for me and Steve. I am still struggling quite a bit with the images and replaying what I should have done, could have done, etc. I feel more pressure because I'm a nurse and I should know what to do, but I really panicked when this happened. Everyone has reassured me that this is normal when it's your own child, but still...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Jordan!

Yesterday was our nephew, Jordan's 10th birthday! Jordan, can you really be 10 already? He's grown up so fast - as kids all do.

Hope you had a great day! We love you so much!

Ben's Baseball Game

Last weekend, we were able to watch Ben play in two of his AAA baseball games in Bloomington. Steve and I were both impressed with the level of talent and surprised at the difference in ability from last year to this year. It was definitely a lot more competitive!

Here's part of Ben's fan club - Sarah, Lydia, Amaya, and Miles.

Ben typically plays at third or pitches.

Pitching... very nerve wracking for those of us watching. He has an awesome change up pitch!

Amaya and Miles weren't very interested in the game. They were more interested in finding their belly buttons!

"Amaya, do you have a belly button?" - Miles

"There it is!" - Miles

"Love you, Cousin!" - Miles

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

To Do List

Since Mommy made a "To Do List", why couldn't I make my own?

1. Go outside!
2. Take all of my books off the bookshelves and look at only those with pictures of Elmo or dogs.
3. Go outside!
4. Teach Elmo how to use the potty.
5. Go outside!
6. Watch a Baby Einstein or Elmo DVD.
7. Go outside!
8. Help Mommy organize the kitchen cabinets. I really like all the Tupperware!
9. Go outside!
10. Feed all my babies and Elmo.
11. Go outside!

Gotta go! Lots to do!