30 Minutes or Less: Deck Clean-Up

I don’t know if it’s 4 months+ of backed up projects or a newfound sense to nest, but I feel like I’ve been in go-mode recently.  Or maybe it’s that we’re expecting guests this week/weekend that has me going.  Either way, I have definitely felt the need to get some things actually cleaned up and (sort of) finished around the house.  Because my time is always limited with Kate around, and my energy still isn’t “normal,” I’ve decided to break everything up into approximately 30 minute projects.  So for the next few weeks or so, I hope to feature some of the quick things I’ve done to make our house not feel so haphazard.

One place that has been driving me nuts lately is our back deck. We spend a lot of time out there eating and playing, and up until Saturday, it has looked like this:

IMG_5760IMG_5761Not good.  Check out those dead plants and the broken umbrella.  Nice, right?  And I’m not even showing you the piles of leaves and gook and ashes from the grill that had accumulated.  (OK, you can sort of see the ashes.)  We keep it classy around here.

So this weekend I convinced Jeff to go to Lowe’s to buy a new umbrella, a few plants, and a couple of clearance outdoor pillows.  With a little cleaning, we had a nice space again.  IMG_5974IMG_5980IMG_5981IMG_5971IMG_5982

The results are not miraculous, but it’s colorful and clean, and it has totally changed my mood when sitting outside.  Thankfully we are supposed to have a really mild, beautiful week here so we can be out there enjoying it – just in time for our guests.

One of My Places

We spent the fourth of July up at the cottage this year. And like every trip up there, we had the most amazing time.  Luckily the whole family was able to go this time – all 13 of us in our tiny little cabin (well, and two tents).

Obviously I took a bunch of pictures.  But this time I was pretty good about intentionally putting my camera down quite a bit so I could just enjoy (hence, totally dropping the ball on getting a full family picture).  I’m now left feeling like I should have captured so much more, but I’m glad I did it this way.  I was still able to get way more shots than I’m able to share on here, and I accomplished my goal of getting a picture of all three of the little ones genuinely smiling for the camera. (Just wait for it. It’s really good, I swear.)

So since the weekend was pretty much filled with boating, paddle boarding, fishing, swimming and sitting happily on the dock, I’ll leave most of the explanation out of this post.  But I do want to put down a few things – mostly just for my sake so I don’t forget.

For one, my siblings are hilarious.  Suggestions such as saying “you’re welcome” after passing gas, and naming our child Boulder just to call him Rock, were just a couple of the funnier moments.  There was also Greg’s smack-talking about our little ground fireworks to our neighbors shooting off the big dogs that got us going.  Oh, and the song Joe and I made up about 2 little loons going out to play… that was pretty good, too.  I know these little things mean nothing to you.  Even if I explained them, they probably wouldn’t be funny.  I just really want to remember…

Also, the fishing this year was the best it has been in what feels like forever.  For a long time, the fish populations were seriously depleted, but it seems the crappies and perch are coming back with a vengeance – something we’re always happy to see.  Plus, some of the bass we caught were as big as I’ve ever seen them.  I spent our last evening out in the boat with just my parents, which is a rare treat for me, and I will definitely cherish that hour I had with them.

Finally, I want to mention that my mom and Greg were, in fact, there.  For some reason I have zero good pictures of either of them.  Sorry guys.  We’ll get a good one of you two during the cribbage tournament this year to make up for it. :)

OK, so without further ado, here are my favorite pics…

IMG_5626IMG_5639IMG_5682IMG_5690IMG_5745IMG_5760IMG_5735IMG_5771IMG_5802IMG_5814IMG_5818These pictures of Jenna and Kate in the tent crack me up.IMG_5841IMG_5839

I can only imagine what their conversation was about… but if I had to guess, I would say it had something to do with s’mores.IMG_5850IMG_5869IMG_5861IMG_5866IMG_5922IMG_5925IMG_5943

The week prior to going up, I spent every night prepping Kate for our time, telling her all the fun things we’d do, and explaining to her that this was my favorite place in the world.  While we were there, she kept asking me if the cottage was one of my places.

“Yes , honey, this is definitely one of my places.”IMG_5891

Thank You.

Remember when I said a few weeks ago that I was making a comeback?  And remember how that hasn’t really happened?  I’m sorry.  It’s not that I don’t want to be here posting.  It’s just that I’m not very good at tricking my body into thinking it has energy, and so far that surge of energy I’m supposed to get back by the end of my first trimester hasn’t shown up.  It’s late to the party. I’m still doggone tired most of the time.  So I really do have good intentions of being here, sharing all the meaningless things I have to share. It just might be a couple more weeks before I can keep my eyes open long enough to put together anything decent.

I did, however, need to stop in for a minute to say a huge “thank you” to everyone that sent love our way after last week’s post.  We are obviously very excited and grateful to be expecting another little one, especially after everything we went through.  I promise to share more details soon.

I also really want to say thank you to everyone that kept us in their thoughts in prayers over the last few months.  IVF, and everything that goes with it, is certainly not an easy process.  But it made it tremendously more bearable having the love and support of so many, including many I didn’t expect to hear from or who I didn’t know had any idea what was going on.  So thank you – from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you.

A Message from Kate

Wedding Photography: What Would You Change?

I’m second-shooting my first wedding this weekend (meaning I’m the assistant photographer), and I am just a little (read: a lot) nervous about it.  To prepare, I’ve been browsing wedding pictures to see what I like and don’t like in current shots.  I’ve worked with some really talented photographers on weddings here in Indiana (Matt Bigelow out of Crown Point and Wendi Chitwood with InBloom Photography here in Bloomington to name a couple), so I’ve been looking at their portfolios for inspiration.  And of course, I’ve been checking out the work of my friend (and the photographer I’ll be working with), Eileen Keenan.

But I’ve also been going through my own wedding photos to think about what I would want if I could go back and do it all over again.

For one, I wouldn’t have spent so much time taking formal photos like this one.

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I like that it’s a picture of me and Jeff with my siblings on our wedding day, but this picture is so not us.  What I want is a picture of all of us having fun.  And believe me, our wedding was F.U.N.  We got married in 2005, and as far as I can tell, that was around the time when wedding photography made the turn from lined-up formal shots to a more photojournalistic style, and I really wish I had been more on top of that change.

Plus, it drives me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY that in almost every one of our formal shots, my veil is tucked behind my ear on one side.  I would give anything to go back in time and have just one person pick up on that detail before all of the pictures were taken.

Also, I would have asked our photographer to give us the digital files in color if possible.  I totally honor and value a photographer’s artistic eye and editing – I wouldn’t want to take that away.  But some of my favorite pictures were given to me in only black and white, and I will never be able to see them, much less print them, in color.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH DPP_0220

And finally, I would go back and ask my photographer how many pictures she planned to deliver after the fact.  I was surprised when I received the photos that there weren’t more, and I wish I had known ahead of time what to expect.  It was my mistake for not asking, but it’s still something I would change if I could.

So my question to you as I prepare for this weekend is this: What would you change about your wedding photos?  Or what did you LOVE about your wedding photos?  If you aren’t married yet, what are you hoping for in your photos when you do get married?  I would love to hear some feedback.

Summer To-Do List

I’ve been putting off a lot of tasks lately.  Like, really a lot.  And I’m starting to feel overwhelmed with everything I want to get done around here.  So excuse me for a minute while I use this blog to help organize my thoughts and keep me accountable.  You don’t mind, do you?

Great.

Okay, so here’s everything I’m hoping to do this summer – you know, fun things aside.  We’ll do lots of fun things, too.

1. Refinish this dresser.

IMG_1328

I bought it for $15 from a friend, mostly because I thought it would be fun to try refinishing some furniture without the pressure of cost.  I’m hoping to do something like this with it:

I don’t really know where it’s going to go yet, which is why I haven’t finalized the plan, but lately I’ve been thinking about putting it in Kate’s room for a nightstand/costume storage.  We’ll see.

2. Finish the guest room / Jeff’s office.  Jeff has been working from home for 2 weeks, and so far he’s been sitting at a folding table.  We picked up an old desk at Joe and Shay’s house this past weekend, so once we finally get that set up, and get Kate’s crib and chair out of the room, I think I’ll have a better chance at planning what to do next.  Either way, I want this to happen soon so we have a space for any summer visitors.

3. Find our ping pong table. I understand this doesn’t sound like such a difficult task, but ours is completely buried in crap because our storage room is in such terrible shape.  I need to clean out the storage room of all the stuff we haven’t used in years, and then put away the stuff I do use that’s occupying the rest of the basement.  This could take a while.  While I’m at it, I’d like to clean and organize our closet and the laundry room.

4. Have a garage sale?

5. Hang the mirror I’ve had for the front hall for 2 months.  Also, hang the art that’s sitting on the floor in Kate’s room.

6. Paint the old purple bedroom. First I need to clear that room out, which means I need to sell an old box spring and a crib that is still sitting in the box that we obviously never needed or used. (Perhaps I should be moving #4 to the top of the priority list.)

7. Touch up our deck. We had it refinished a couple years ago, and it’s already showing some wear and tear from the dogs.  We need to put down some more stain and fix a few nails that have come loose.

8. Be happy when I finish half of this list before September.  Because let’s be real.