Dusting off the blog

It has been almost 2 years since the last blog post that I have written. Long enough that I couldn’t remember how to log in to my blog or even what program I used to use to write my blogs. Thomas and I are starting a new adventure and a friend suggested I should blog about it. I love the idea of documenting everything we’re doing but I’m not sure if I’ll have the dedication to take the time and write about it. We’ll see how this goes.

It’s funny how I have shared different interests with each kid. When Daniel was still living at home we watched a lot of cooking shows; Iron Chef, Anthony Bourdain, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Man vs. Food. Mostly shows with exotic foods and chefs that travelled around the world. Then when he left for college I never watched another cooking show, it made me too sad to watch them without Daniel. Beth and I watched Project Runway and Americas Next Top Model again not shows I ever watched without her. Thomas and I also have our favorite shows, we love car shows; Top Gear, Fast N Loud, Counting Cars if we had the space we would buy an old car to rebuild together, sadly we don’t have the garage space for that. We also like auction shows, house flipping shows and renovation shows. Thomas has also been the kid that has had the privilege of living almost his whole life in a construction zone and helping with the many never ending renovations we’ve tackled in our very old house.

So on to that new adventure…I am buying a house for us to renovate. While I really want to flip houses this first one is for the kids to rent. At first Daniel, Megan and Beth will live in the house. Then in 4-5 years when Thomas is ready to start at the Police Academy him and BJ plan on kicking the other kids out and moving in.

I think I need to clarify my previous statement that “I am buying a house for us to renovate.” I have been wanting to do this for years, recently I started looking at house online and stumbled across the house we are now very close to owning. I didn’t mention any of this to Dan until the night before I had set up a showing, it was just an idea I was throwing around and I wasn’t really sure where it was going to go. Dan couldn’t go see the house with me but Thomas and I fell in love. OK maybe I fell in love and Thomas was quietly stoic. Dan did go look at it the next day and agreed that this was an amazing deal and a house with great bones. Yes, it needs a ton of cosmetic work but structurally it is very sound. Without one word of complaint or objection Dan worked out the financial side of this endeavor and made it happen for me. I love that about him, instead of pointing out that our house is practically condemnable due to unfinished projects he just lets me go into something that is a little bit crazy.

I do have a big picture plan; Thomas and I will do all the work we can on this house (with a little help from Dan when his expertise is needed) and within 2 months it will be move in ready. Then I think we should move in so Thomas and I can gut our kitchen and bathroom and finally get our house finished. That idea is very dependent on our financial outlook at that point, but that’s what I’m hoping we can do. About the time we are done with all that the kids leases we be ending in their apartments and they should be ready to move into the house. And if all of this goes as planned then the next house I buy will be a flip and we can finally make some money from this new endeavor.

The Giving Tree

was one of Dan’s favorite books to read to the kids when they were little. We have our own Giving Tree growing in our front yard. We have been in the process of cutting down this tree for the past 2 years. It was giving the boys quite a bit of enjoyment to slowly cut down the branches. It’s quite an eye sore at this point but someday it will be all the way cut down and replaced with a  new tree.


In the mean time our giving tree contributed to 2 projects this weekend that Daniel was working on. First he wanted to make a coffee table (actually a D and D gaming table) for his new apartment. He picked up a piece of 1/4 in plywood and 4 very thin table legs at the Habitat for Humanity store. His plan was to just screw the legs onto the plywood and be done.

Instead we searched around the garage and the yard and found a table top that I had trash picked and put aside. We then had the idea of building a double decker table using that as the lower level and his plywood as the upper part. The legs he bought were too small so instead he used tree branches from the giving tree and more branches as spacers between the table layers.



The finished table… I think he did an awesome job! This table is so cool. I love how the legs have curves and forks in them. It is very sturdy and quite heavy.


Back to the giving tree for some more branches. I don’t think this is the safest way to cut down a branch!




Daniel also wanted to build a cat scratching post. It was another successful project. As a matter of fact I’m going to have Thomas build me a coat tree for the front porch using tree branches. It was so nice to see the boys busy building things and working together. Much better than sitting around inside the house watching TV!



Daniel still has a little work to do then I’ll post a pic of the finished project.

Making Owls

Our house has been over taken by OWLS! Some are pretty owls…


And some are kind of crazy owls… We joke that they are actually Honey Badgers. We are so immature, we just can’t quit watching this YouTube video of the Honey Badger.


The owls have been sent around the country as Xmas gifts, these 2 went to my niece and nephew in Seattle. Isabella requested one made by me with very specific colors, BJ just wanted Dan to make his.


and they’ve been added to a Xmas quilt… I made this quilt for my mom.


Thomas contributed this owl to his G-ma’s quilt


Hmm I wonder who made this “owl”


Even Daniel got into the fun of making owls. Actually a few people that came by our house in Dec. made an owl. My friend Michele, our neighbor Victoria and of course; Daniel, Thomas, Dan and me.



Daniel made his owl tall, skinny and goofy just like him. He also packed it with lots of rice so he could throw it at his girl-friend, watch out Megan!


Dan and I spent every evening for a few weeks working on owls. It was our stress de-compressor through the holidays. It also prevented us from getting anything done on the renovation!IMG_5267IMG_5269IMG_5273IMG_5288

This was my favorite owl, it lasted for 1 whole day before it was given by Beth as a last minute Xmas gift.


Trick or Treating 2011

As is our tradition we all headed over to my parents house for trick or treating again this year. For the first time ever  one of the kids was not with us,  Beth, sadly was still in LA modeling. But Daniel and his girlfriend Megan were able to join us, even though they are now in their 20’s.

I’m not really sure what the kids were dressing up as, Thomas was just happy that he got to walk around carrying his sword. Since it is actually a real sword it is delegated to his bedroom and never allowed outside, normally.



There’s mom preparing our Baileys and coffee for the long walk. Mom, Dan and I still walk around with the kids, while Dad stays at the house passing out candy. The Bailey’s and coffee to-go make walking in the cold even more enjoyable!IMG_4453

And this is why the swords are not allowed out of the bedroom, you never know when Thomas may attack!


Here’s Daniel and Megan, aren’t they cute together? Daniel did make the comment that he thought this would be his last year going door to door for candy. Since he’ll be 21 next Halloween he thinks that’s a good time to stop. Dad will finally have someone to help him pass out the candy.


We were so happy Megan could join us, she lives in a little tiny town in Ohio about 2 hours away. Not only has she not been trick or treating since she was 12 years old (can you imagine?) but also she has never trick or treated at night since in her town they do it from 2-4. Now that’s just silly!


Thomas got all 16 pounds of his candy sorted by type. You wouldn’t want all that candy comingling!


Daniel’s class schedule

So what classes does a student at OSU in a computer science major take going into his junior year? A bunch of classes that make no sense to me. Well I do know what Tai Chi is, hopefully that helps calm his mind after taking all these other indecipherable classes.

Seriously, when I read these descriptions I still don’t know what these classes cover. I think they made up some of those words!

CSE  321 – Case Studies in Component-Based Software

Case studies using: tree and binary tree components and binary search trees; context-free grammars; tokenizing, parsing, and code generating components; sorting components and sorting algorithms.

CSE  360 – Introduction to Computer Systems

Introduction to computer architecture at the machine language and assembler language level; assembler language programming and lab.

MATH  366 – Discrete Mathematical Structures I

Mathematical formalization and reasoning, logic, and Boolean algebra; sets, functions, relations, recursive definitions, and mathematical induction; and elementary counting principles.

EDUPAES  169.16 – Martial Arts Forms: T’ai Chi Ch’uan

An introduction to T’ai Chi Ch’uan with emphasis on an exploration of body/energy awareness.

The wood is on the move

Ha! a good portion of the pine tree that had been dropped in our front yard has been moved back to the wood pile (take that you naysayers.) Due to some unpaid debts Daniel has become our indentured servant, during his days off, for the rest of summer. He has a long list of things that need to be done and that wood was moved to the top of the list. I was expecting some complaints about chopping the wood but he actually said he wanted to do that, go figure.

Apparently, Daniel’s idea of chopping wood is actually tearing it apart with his hands. I can just imagine my BFF Melissa saying “homeschooler!” (her favorite response whenever my kids do something dumb, and of course it’s said with love and said quite frequently.)


He was surprisingly successful with his bizarre methods. He actually split all this wood by his Herculean attempts. Some of it really needs to be split a bit more but it’s a start.


This piece did not get thrown down, it was crazy heavy. But it was impressive watching him lift it.


He managed to roll the 6 foot log just a bit…


but try as might he could not lift it up.


Dan and Thomas built this totem pole like structure up in the front yard. Can you guess what they’re using it for?


Yep there’s that throwing ax yet again. It’s been sharpened and is ready to throw.


I’m so happy this is in the front yard so all the neighbors can watch the kids use a throwing ax.



No trip to Seattle is complete without someone getting a tattoo. This trip both Beth and Daniel got their first tattoos. It was a family affair with Dan, Thomas, my sister, Aunt Chris and me all there to witness the event. In the end my sister also decided to get a tattoo. I was feeling very left out but I had left it up to fate (meaning I didn’t make an apt) and the tattoo artist didn’t have any more openings that evening. No worries though, Dan and I have a tattoo artist in our neighborhood and I am already scheduled for my orchid tattoo.

Daniel was first on the table, his design ended up being a little larger than he anticipated meaning it took about 2 hours and cost a bit more than he was expecting. I think he was a little shocked by how much it hurt but he held up just fine, not needing any breaks.



Everyone was getting orchids to show their solidarity to Bethany and Isa. Both the girls share a genetic mutation that Shauna and I are carriers of. While it’s not a life threatening condition it is life altering and this was our way of showing our support. I think it is incredibly sweet that Daniel wanted his first tattoo to be an orchid and that he was doing it just for his sister.


Bethy was more than a bit nervous when her turn came up. She was really excited to get a small tattoo and had been talking about it forever. But after seeing her brother’s pain she started questioning it. After several attempted starts only to have her stop the tattoo guy it wasn’t looking like she would go through with it. But she finally pulled herself together and let him begin.


Eventually, after the initial pain, she didn’t think it hurt too bad after all.


The picture doesn’t show it but she’s giving me a peace sign for the camera.IMG00250-20110718-1433


Here’s Beth sporting her new orchid tattoo:


She decided to not have a black outline (thank you cousin Nicole for that idea.) Since it’s in her bikini area and will not ever be exposed to the sun it should not fade away.


Shauna has several other tattoo’s so this was no big deal for her. I think this was the first time that I’ve been with her for one of her tattoo’s though.



Everyone was very happy with their tattoos and there are many plans for future tattoos…far, far into the future!


You may be wondering where are all the pictures of the boys from our trip to Seattle? Well here they are out on G-pa Larry’s boat crabbing. Big Larry, Dan, BJ, Thomas and Daniel all went out to catch us a crab feast.

Here’s BJ putting the bait in the traps. They bait them then drop them all in the water. After eating lunch on the boat they go back around to see what they’ve caught.


This one looks pretty full. You have to use those red things to make sure the crabs are big enough. If not, back into the sound they go. Since there were 5 people on the boat they were allowed to keep 25 crabs.


I think its funny how Daniel is all bundled up in many layers of clothing plus the big heavy coat and then there’s BJ in just a flannel. The weather’s so different than just a few weeks ago deep sea fishing in North Carolina, there you have to worry about getting sunburnt and being too hot.


BJ is an old pro at this, Daniel on the other hand looks much more hesitant about holding the crabs (notice the tongs.)


Why does Dan always catch the smallest creatures?


Looks like the boys have gotten over their fear of the crabs for a photo.


Finally Dan with something a little bigger.


They caught their limit so a crab feast it will be!


Since Shauna’s husband Chef Larry is in Alaska cooking on a private yacht Dan had to take over the cooking. We’re on Judy and Larry’s deck which is set all up for just these type of feasts. It’s a regular thing for them to go crabbing.


Look at the table all nice and clean waiting for the feast.


And this is what it looks like after all the crabs have been cooked.


The view of Lake Washington from Judy and Larry’s deck. One of the reasons I miss living there.


We’re much cleaner eaters at the girls table, that’s mom, G-ma Judy and Shauna.


We missed Little Larry at our crab feast but it was still a wonderful time with family!

Brother and sister

My kids are not close, I wish they were. It makes me so sad when I listen to other people’s stories about how their kids spend time together and actually enjoy it. Maybe it came from them being homeschooled and always being together. Or maybe its because they are boy, girl, boy so they don’t have that same sex bonding that can happen with siblings. I keep hoping as they get older some type of relationship will form.

Since Thomas is so much younger than the other two the problem doesn’t really lie with him and his siblings. They each do fine with him on their own. And I know I can count on both Bethany and Daniel to take him places and spend time with him if I ask. They haven’t quite gotten to the point of initiating it themselves but maybe that too will come eventually.

The relationship I’m really waiting to develop is one between Daniel and Beth, up until recently it was hard to even have them be in the same room. They did NOT ever get along. Daniel constantly pestered his sister until she cried and Beth went out of her way to be as annoying as possible to drive her brother crazy. For about 2 years Bethany would not even speak to her brother and he was just fine with that.  I was not fine with that it broke my heart (even though them not speaking was better than the constant fighting.)

But finally this year I think I’m seeing a breakthrough! Daniel is being nicer and Beth has calmed down a bit. They are actually spending time together and both of them are seeming to enjoy it! I even have the pictures to prove it.




Notice how cold the water must be both Daniel and Beth are shivering.


this is Daniel pushing his sister under water. This did not end in her crying and leaving the beach like it might have in years past…


Look they are both smiling!


Here is Beth getting her brother back for his dunking her.

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She succeeded and no one ended up angry at the other!


Of course, the ocean always has the final say in who gets dunked.

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It almost looks like they are reaching for each other, siblings bonded together, looking lovingly at each other. Ok lets not get crazy here, I’m just glad they’re not trying to kill each other!


A massive renovation!

It all started with a bedroom that was turning into a dining room and being opened up to the living room.


Our house is over 100 years old, so the walls are all lathe board and plaster. It was also originally heated by coal so add in lots of black dust that got into the walls and you have a big mess!


Dan is very good about plasticing off a room to keep the mess somewhat contained!


After everything was down in the dining room, it was time to move into the living room. Good bye really cool wall treatment, good bye built in shelves…


Thomas has helped at each stage but only before it gets too dusty and only when there isn’t lead paint involved.


Yes, that is a throwing star in the wall. The boys like to use alternative methods to start tearing down the walls.


Now 1/2 of the living room has been taken down to the studs and cleaned up. Which means its time to start on the other side.

Dan is very good at getting the rooms clean enough for us to use them. I thought living in a house that was being completely gutted would drive me crazy but it really hasn’t.


The other side of the living room, before…


Good bye Dutch door, you have been very handy at containing dogs and small children. Good bye cabinet, we will try to use you somewhere else in the house.


Daniel (begrudgingly) agreed to spend his Memorial Day break from school helping us get the second half of the living room gutted.


Back to those alternative methods, a throwing ax (being thrown by Dan.) it’s not just Daniel and Thomas that like all the Ninja weapons!


It’s a very dirty job. I do not like to get dirty. Thus you will not see me tearing down these walls.


The wall to the kitchen, its coming down too. We are a house without walls! The kitchen will be remodeled next year, I thought that was a bit much to add in right now. The living room, dining room, bathroom and office all at once is plenty!


My new view from the kitchen. I love it! The brick chimney will stay (it kinda has to, plus we love it) it will either be sandblasted and made to look pretty or it will be tiled.

You’ll also see Dan’s dad in the background, we would not have been able to get this job done without him. He has kept it moving along even when no one else wanted to work on it.


We still have a small section of wall to tear down along the hallway in the kitchen and the bathroom. Since we only have 1 bathroom that part really has to be done quickly. Luckily we have great neighbors that I’m sure will let us use their bathroom when we need to. I have visions of my new bathroom being like a spa, all natural tiles with a nice deep soaking/ whirlpool tub. Very Zen like and peaceful. I can’t wait!

I’m excited to see the end results but it is still far away. We still need to replace all the electric, duct work, windows, front door, flooring and add insulation, then the walls can finally be dry walled! Oh and strip and refinishing all the original trim (that’s my job.) Then I finally get to decide what colors to paint it all.