Anneliese is Two!

She’s actually been two for a little over a month now, but Momma is a slow blogger.  Everyday she reminds me that she is no longer a baby, and is a full blown toddler (or dare I even say little girl?!).  She says new words every day (and loves to repeat everything we say… which is sometimes not so great!), knows her colors, can sing her ABCs and read all 26 letters, can count to 10 (in English and German!), and loves to sing twinkle twinkle little star at the top of her lungs.


 Photo credit: Cheyenne Wilson Photography, taken at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ.

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A Camping We Will Go

We just returned last night from our first real camping trip with Anneliese at Chevelon Canyon Lake (she’s been to Lake Powell before but I don’t consider that true camping as we had a houseboat on the lake).  Chevelon Canyon Lake is just past Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim for those familiar with the area, but it takes about an hour and an off road vehicle to get to Chevelon from Woods Canyon Lake (the “roads” are VERY rough).

There isn’t direct access to the lake, meaning we had to hike about 3/4 mile from the staging area to our campsite.  Here we are heading down with all our gear, and Anneliese on my back.The hike down wasn’t really too bad, and it only took about 15 min to get to the lake, but it was pretty steep.  We managed to get everything down in one trip, not including the canoe that Chris and our friend John hiked back up to bring down.

We set up camp right along the edge of the lake, and with the exception of one other campsite with two people, we had the whole lake to ourselves (the number of people who can access the lake, and then crazy enough to hike down all their gear is slim, apparently).  There were 6 kids (all under the age of 6) and 6 adults in our camp.  They had tons of fun playing ourside, especially gravitating towards a pile that was obviously an old fire pit.  They were all filthy within 10 minutes of being at the site, so we just let do whatever the wanted and them totally cover themselves in dirt.

Being that we had to hike down everything we would need for camping, we packed as minimally as we could (with children).  We knew it would be chilly at night (the forecast called for the low 40s), so I put Anneliese in fleece footie pajamas, a fleece sleepsack, a cotton sleep sack on top of that, and a beanie for her head.  I also put a down blanket between the crib mattress and the tent bottom (we brought this Phil & Teds Traveller- it’s lightweight & folds small) and thought we’d be good to go.  We put her to bed the usual time and she went right to sleep (as was expected seeing all the playing she did and lack of nap that day), but no longer than 2 minutes after we crawled into bed a few hours later, she was awake.  Her arms and hands were freezing.  Remember we also had 3 other tents of kids/adults near us, so I pulled her into my sleeping bag (a mummy bag barely big enough for one adult) in hopes to minimize the crying and get her back to sleep.  Well, she did fall back asleep, but on the only way we both fit in the bag was with her laying on top of half my body.  Chris tried to get her to sleep in his sleeping bag but she wasn’t having it.  I knew there was no way I would get any sleep that way, so we put my fleece jacket on her, on top of all the sleepsacks, and put her back in her bed, and she quickly went back to sleep.  For 15 minutes.  She woke up again saying “I want to take it off!” over and over, so I again pulled her back into my sleeping bag, where we ended up staying the whole night.  She slept pretty well after that, I on the other hand got maybe 1 hour of shut eye (Christoph snoring next to me didn’t help the cause, either).  Ugh.  I decided somewhere around 2am that I definitely was not staying another night (we’d planned on camping for two nights).  I’m sure it would have been fine if we had a sleeping bag or something else to keep her (more) warm, but we didn’t and I wasn’t going to bank on it being any warmer the next night, and I am not used to this no sleep thing anymore!  I checked the weather when we got home, and it was 32 DEGREES that night!!

We did manage to get in a trip on the canoe out on the lake the next day before a storm started to roll in.  The boys tried fishing but didn’t catch anything; apparently it’s a pretty tough fishing spot.

We decided to head back out after lunch.  Hiking the 3/4 mile back up to the car was pretty rough.  I was pretty sure my heart was going to explode.  Chris again had to hike the canoe back up the trail, so we decided to make two trips with our gear back up since he was going to have to make two trips anyways.  We carried all our gear up the first trip, then we hiked back and I carried Anneliese up while Chris and John brought the boat up.  All in all it was a fun trip, but I now know that backpacking (at least with a child) is not for me.  I am already planning my beach vacation. 


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New Addition

No, not the “be here in 9 months” kind of addition; an addition to our house!  We enclosed part of our patio and turned it into a dining room!

We desperately needed a bigger dining space since we closed in the formal dining room when we reno-ed the kitchen.  That left us with just a little nook for our dining table, which was fine for the 3 of us, but made it pretty annoying to entertain since extending the table meant blocking the whole kitchen off.  So we started brainstorming on how we could make the living space of our home bigger (we didn’t need more bedrooms since we converted the old dining room and front living room to office space, giving us 3 bedrooms and 2 offices), and enclosing half the patio seemed like the best (and frankly, only) option.

We actually finished the project a few months ago, but I’ve been putting off taking pictures of it because I wanted to decorate it a little more.  But it’s become obvious that isn’t going to happen any time soon, so I’m going ahead with what we are currently living with.  It took about 6 weeks to finish the whole job, which included:

Building a new exterior block wall (digging footers under the existing concrete and constructing the wall).

Leveling out the existing slab (it was sloped for drainage of the patio).

Demoing the old exterior wall, including removing a large window and back patio door.  That meant we had to live with a large plastic sheet wall and furniture like this for a few weeks.

Enclosing the French doors that led from our bedroom to the patio.

Installing drywall, matching flooring, paint, and new French doors.

And here it is now!

It’s hard to capture in pictures just how much bigger this small addition makes the whole house feel (we only added about 150sf), but here’s a before:

And after:

Another before:

And after:

We also had to put in a threshold since we installed doors that would lead directly outside, so we had a brick herringbone border put in, and replaced our flagstone walkway to the pool with the same brick so everything tied in.  Here’s what it looks like now:

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Maui 2014

Aloha!  I guess I can’t use that phrase anymore without getting weird looks now that we’re back from Hawaii, huh?  We just returned from 7 days on the Valley Isle and man is it hard to get back into the groove of real life again.  But we’re leaving again for Vegas next weekend for my cousin’s wedding, so at least we have that to look forward to.

The flight to Maui was about 7 hours total (we flew from here to Oahu, then connected to Maui), but honestly after flying to Europe so many times, 6-7 hours is a breeze!  This was Anneliese’s 5th plane trip in her short 19 months of life, and I think we’ve got this traveling thing down pretty good.  It was a little more difficult this time because we are cheap and didn’t want to check any bags, so along with Anneliese and her car seat we had to bring 3 carry-on suitcases on board, too.  It also helps that Anneliese can play games on the iPad by herself, which keeps her occupied for a good amount of time.  We like the Pepi apps (Pepi Tree, Pepi Bath, & Pepi Doctor).  We again used a Go-Go Babyz with Anneliese and her car seat, and instead of checking a stroller we rented one from Maui Baby Rentals (along with a crib, high chair, & some beach umbrellas).  Renting makes everything sooo much easier; why lug it all with you when you can have it waiting for you when you get there?!  I highly recommend renting as many things as you can!

We rented a house in the Ka’anapali area, and the night we arrived was also my mom’s birthday.  My sister and I were trying to think of something to get my mom for her birthday that we could celebrate with that day in Hawaii, so my sister found a chef to come cook us tacos (fish tacos are her favorite) for dinner.  He made us mahi mahi, pork, and beef tacos as well as a 3 different sauces/salsas and rice and beans.  We had enough leftover for lunch and dinner the next day.  And we all agreed the food got even better those next few meals!

Here’s our chef in the kitchen, and my mom in front of her birthday sign that I carted all the way from home (you may recognize it from here).

Of course we hit up the beach several times while there, where Anneliese had the time of her life digging in the sand.  She also had no fear of the water and would run straight for it.  Still a water baby.

Here we are all loaded up for the beach.  We looked like we had all our worldly possessions on that stroller (and true to BOB form, it still pushed like a dream!).

Maui had been having some pretty rainy weather before we got there (and the day we got there, it was raining), but luckily it cleared up just in time for our snorkeling trip to Molokini.  We booked through Trilogy for an all day snorkeling trip on their catamaran.  They served us food throughout the day (cinnamon rolls, fruit, some yummy chicken for lunch, ice cream, and drinks), all while we rode along and enjoyed the beautiful weather.  We saw a lot of humpback whales (whale season is Nov-May in Hawaii) along the way. (BTW, we did not take the younger kids (1 & 3yo) on this trip; although there were small children on the boat, I’m sure their parents didn’t have quite as much fun as they would have if they were kid free. We booked a babysitter through Happy Kids Maui for the day, and it was a great decision!).

The neatest part was actually being able to hear the whales underwater.  When we were out snorkeling, if you dove down a few feet and cleared your ears, it sounded like a haunted choir.  Probably the neatest part of the trip.  My SIL had an underwater camera and took a video where you can actually hear them:

On the way back the wind picked up enough to raise the sails, which Chris gladly helped with.

We also came across some sea turtles.

Another day we went to the beach down in Makena and spotted a mom and calf whale just off shore.  We decided the mom was giving the calf lessons, as she would breach (jump out of the water) and the baby would do it right behind her.  They did this over and over again, then moved on to arm slapping, then tail slapping.  We got quite the show!  If you look closely in the picture below, the little dark spec to the left of the whale is a guy in a kayak, so you can get an idea just how massive these whales are.

One of the other big things we did was a trip around the island, through Hana.  It took almost 12 full hours to drive the whole way, but we stopped a few times to do some hiking, cliff jumping, & lunch eating (we kept Anneliese occupied by singing and counting, and after 12 hours she knows most of the alphabet and can count from 1-10 now).  We hiked up a super slippery creek to a really tall waterfall, which seemed like a good idea with a 25+lb toddler strapped to your back.  We made it all the way to the waterfall until I fell, soaking us both from the waist down and leaving me with a 3″ size dark purple bruise on my outside thigh.  The worst part is I wasn’t even moving when it happened, I lost my balance while standing still!

This picture of Anneliese is from another stop we made near Hana, at Wai’anapanapa State Park which has a black sand beach (yes, I copied & pasted that name from Google).

We also stopped at the Venus Pool, just past Hana.  Chris & I stopped here on a previous trip to Maui, pre-baby back in 2007, where we both (and his sister) did some cliff jumping, but things were a little different this time around with a kid strapped to my back, so he and my brother were the only ones that jumped.

This is my sister and I waiting for the boys to jump; I look less than thrilled to be there, but I really was!  I didn’t know my picture was being taken!

And here’s a few family shots we managed to take:

All 12 of us came back not hating each other after a week of living together, so I think we can say it was a successful vacation!

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Evolution of a Living Room

I was going through and updating pictures on the house tour page, and it reminded me how much our living room has changed over the 3.5 years we’ve lived here.  It is the one room that has undoubtedly gone through the biggest evolution, decor wise.  I mean, it’s seen 4 different coffee tables or ottomans since we moved in.  Here’s the original listing picture, and what the house looked like when we purchased it in 2010:

Before we moved in we repainted, put in new windows, and finished the baseboards.  This was the first version of our new living room:

We bought new couches, a new rug, scored a vintage glass Hollywood Regency coffee table, and repurposed an old bookshelf into a TV console by flipping in on its side, painting it, and adding legs to the bottom.  I thought I was so crafty.  But that wall behind the TV was crying for attention.  So we did this to it:

We lived with the room in this state for a while (while changing small things like throw pillows and table decorations, and big things like flooring), but after our family of two became three, we realized the glass and metal sharp edged coffee table (which I still loved even as it was being driven away in its new owner’s car) would have to go.  So we DIYed ourselves an ottoman perfect for tiny humans with horrible balance (aka a toddler).

This served its purpose well, but even with a “no shoes on the ottoman” policy, it still became obviously dirty.  Note to self, don’t use a fabric with any white on it when upholstering any piece of furniture that will possibly have feet on it.  So after 8 or so months of use, we moved it into the playroom.  And that brings us to the current state of living room affairs:

What’s changed now?  First we removed the standard block legs from the couches and replaced them with some newly stained tapered legs.  Then we bought a new TV console (which once we got it in the room made me realize just how craptastic our DIY console was).  I was so tired of Anneliese pulling everything off the shelves of our old one and desperately wanted something with doors that she couldn’t open.  We also picked up a fiddle leaf fig tree from Ikea (this is actually the second one since I killed brutally murdered the first one; it turns out they don’t like to be watered more than once a week) and a random foliage plant from Lowes for our side table that I somehow have managed to keep alive.  Then I came across this coffee table that fit all the requirements we had (not cause stitches), and since it was on super sale I pulled the trigger.  I also added a tray table with some magazines and accessories on top.  Then, while browsing Ross one day (which I haven’t visited in at least 6 months) I picked up a 4×6 Chindi rug for $15.  I bought it planning to use it on our office, and when I got home I rolled it out in the living room to get a better look at it and loved the way it looked layered in there.  It gave the room some much needed color and, bonus!, hides some of the stains on the rug.  Also, see that wood tray slipped over the arm of the couch?  I saw them on Pinterest and tracked them down to an Etsy seller listing them for $234!!  That’s crazytown!!  So I showed Chris and he whipped up a couple.  They are awesome (and so is he for agreeing to recreate my finds)!

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