Sunday, March 28, 2010

Super Reader

The City of Chandler has a reading program going on right now where if you read 5 books, you get a certificate for a free In-N-Out cheeseburger. How's that for motivation to keep on reading! As soon as we heard about it, we got Joshua signed up and he's been working hard for that cheeseburger! This afternoon he finished his 5th book since signing up for the program. He was so proud of himself!

Of course we had to reap the benefits of the reward right away! We ran to the library and Joshua proudly handed the librarian his card, and got his special certificate, with his name on it and everything!

Joshua was so happy to have the cheeseburger he worked so hard to earn, he ate every last morsel!

Joshua has worked so hard with his reading, and we are so proud of him. I can't wait to see him continue to grow and learn, and most importantly develop a love for the written word and just learning in general. Keep up the good work, buddy!

The Work Goes On

Our house is still a work in progress after The Big Storm back in January, but we're getting there! With all of the rain we've had this year, it seems like every time it's rained, we're finding a new place where our house isn't water tight. One issue we've found in the last couple of times it's rained is that there is a small amount of water coming in on the outside wall of the chimney. We've known the trim on the chimney could have used to be replaced, as the wood was really warped and separating from the house. So before we close up the wall, we wanted to get the trim replaced and make sure that solves the problem and seals everything up tight. Andrew worked so hard, and did a great job replacing the wood. Check it out!

Here's the before:

And here's the progress that was made this weekend. Quite a difference!

One of the other things we had noticed was that the cap at the top of our chimney wasn't really fitting properly. So we had someone come out to look at it, and come to find out the whole thing needed replacing. So now, we have a brand new chimney cap!

We're supposed to get another storm passing through this week, so after that we'll hopefully be able to confirm that the rain will all stay outside, and we can get going on the fun part... having our living room drywalled and painted! I'm so excited to have this all done, and to see our new living room! Here's hoping it gets done sooner rather than later!

An Egg-celent Time

This Saturday was our church's first (and we hope it's the first of many) Easter egg hunt. What a great time we had! There were a total of 40,000 eggs up for grabs, each one filled with a yummy treat.

It was so fun to have a morning of free fun with some of our closest friends! They split the kids into 3 different age groups. Josh and Ben were in two different groups which made it possible to enjoy watching each of them fill up their baskets.

After getting all their eggs, and of course sampling some of the contents...

...the boys had fun running around with their friends Braeden and Drew for a bit before heading home.

The boys had so much fun at the park, they weren't quite done with egg hunting when we got home. So we took turns hiding and finding them in our backyard for the rest of the morning. Such a fun morning and a great way to kick off Easter week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Recently Joshua started going through a rough patch at school behavior wise. He wasn't doing anything bad, just typical reports of not listening and making bad choices. The kind of things you would expect out of a 4 year old from time to time. He's reaching the age of being influenced by other kids, and just growing into his own person. But he has set a pretty high bar for himself as all we've ever gotten from him are glowing reports, so this change, however mild it was, was a bit alarming to us so we thought it was time to take some action before it got worse. At first we took the "punishment" approach. If he got a bad report from school, he would get a punishment when we got home. After a while we realized this didn't really seem to be working, mostly because he was being punished for something that happened hours earlier so the punishment had lost its significance.

So we came up with a great idea for positive reinforcement, to give him something to work for instead of to fear. This was the birth of the marble jar. We split the day into 4 sections, each worth 1 marble. He also gets a marble if he does his reading, for a total of 5 possible marbles each day. Once the jar is full, we will get to do something special. For his first full marble jar, we decided we would go to Peter Piper Pizza.

The marbles have worked like a charm! Josh has lost very few marbles since we started, and this weekend the marble jar was finally full!

Tonight he cashed them in and off we went to Peter Piper for dinner and games. What a fun time we had! They each ate a slice of pizza, and had a blast running around playing all the games.

One of Joshua's favorite games was a snow mobile video game.

He was laughing hysterically the entire time. It was awesome! Just look at this face!

Of course we were on the prowl for as many tickets as we could get. One of the games was kind of like a slot machine. You pull a lever and then smack a button and whichever number was lit up when the button is pressed, that's how many tickets you get. The highest number you could get was 250. Of course Lucky Andrew hit the jackpot!

We had so much fun, Ben REALLY didn't want to leave. Can you tell?

He cried the whole way home and almost all through his bath that he wanted to go back.

We're so proud of Joshua for the good choices he has learned to make, and we hope he keeps it up. Good job, Dude!!!

Harvest Time!

Now that the weather is warming up, it's time to get going on our spring garden. Of course this means it was time to harvest the veggies we've been watching grow for the last couple of months. All in all we got 19 carrots and 1 good sized head of cauliflower.

We also learned why we were supposed to thin out the carrots once they sprouted (which we apparently didn't do good enough...)

Seeing how we have actually kept up with and taken to this gardening thing over the last year, we wanted to have a little more space to work with this year. So we built a bigger and better garden box.

Once the box was finished, with the help of Andrew's new toy (his new miter saw)

We got to planting! This season we're trying corn, sugar snap peas and zucchini, all from seeds, as well as a strawberry plant and tomato plant. Here is our finished project.

I hope all of our seeds sprout and turn into yummy food. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Veggie Growing

Our winter vegetable garden is just about coming to its end to make room for our spring fare. Since we've really gotten the hang of this gardening thing over the last year we've decided to make our garden box a little bigger this year. We're giving our veggies a little more time to grow while Andrew constructs the new box. We've got a really good head of cauliflower growing right now. It's been pretty cool watching this thing grow. The leaves are absolutely huge.

All this from one tiny seed. Pretty amazing. At first we thought that the plant had forgotten to actually grow the meat of the vegetable. But then all of a sudden there was a tiny floret inside, which has continued to grow at an astonishing rate. Hopefully it will be pretty close to ready to pick by next weekend when we plan on planting the spring garden.

We also have some carrots that are getting pretty big. We picked one tonight to see how they were coming along, and they were a pretty decent size.

We all shared this little sucker tonight, and he was so tasty! Very sweet and flavorful. Nothing like home grown veggies!

Viva Las Vegas

Somehow it was time for cousin Adria's first birthday. We don't get to see Auntie Kerri, Uncle Jonathon and Adria often enough, so we took the opportunity to take a little weekend road trip to Las Vegas for her birthday party.

This was our first road trip after having Benny completely potty trained. I knew that 6 hours through the desert was a lot to ask of him, as we don't typically get a whole lot of warning to get him to a potty once he starts "dancing." I had thought that maybe we should have him wear a Pull-Up for the car ride, just in case, but of course completely forgot about it when it was time to go. So, we just went for it. He went potty in Wickenburg, but every other time he had to go, it was immediately AFTER leaving any civilization where there was no place to stop or even pull over to let him go, then when we would stop, he wouldn't go. He had 3 accidents by the time we got to the hotel. To say it was frustrating was an understatement.

But other than that, the boys were absolutely perfect on the long drive. There was no crying and no complaining. Josh, who is now in a booster seat instead of his 5 point harness, was a big help as he could now reach things on the floor for him and Benny. It appears that these boys have gotten acclimated to these long car rides. They find ways to amuse themselves without vegging out in front of a DVD player. Joshua got a big kick out of seeing the Joshua Tree Forest along the way. Benny didn't quite understand why there weren't any Benny Trees, so Joshua told him the bushes were Benny Bushes. There were also Mommy Mountains and the Daddy Desert.

When we rolled into town, we saw that down the street there was a park with a nice little playground. How perfect for two little boys who had been cooped up in a car all day!

The next day we took the boys down to the Las Vegas Strip to see some of the sights. As we were driving up Las Vegas Boulevard, Joshua saw the Excalibur, which looks like a castle, and said "There's something wrong with that castle! Castles are supposed to have flags, but that castle doesn't have any flags." Alert the authorities! :) The best part of the strip as far as the boys were concerned was the M&M World store, a 4 story gift shop of nothing but M&M merchandise. They even had a big M&M greeting the patrons outside. Ben thought he was pretty cool, but Josh, as usual, wanted nothing to do with him.

We did a little walking up the strip, then stopped at the lion habitat in the MGM Grand. Whenever we see the lions at the zoo they're always so far away, but these lions were so close! Couldn't really get any decent pictures, but it was pretty neat to see them so up close and personal.

After the strip we headed out to the Jones' for Adria's birthday party. It was a great party and so fun to spend time with that part of our family, and of course Grandma and Grandpa B. Adria was the prettiest little birthday girl!

Saturday night we were able to meet up with an old friend of mine from high school who I haven't seen in almost 12 years. Jennifer and her husband, Dennis, live about an hour outside of Vegas and they were nice enough to drive into Vegas to join us for dinner. I was a little worried about how the boys were going to behave, having had such a long day, but they were awesome. They sat and ate some of their dinner, pretty much without making a peep, and then promptly conked out, buying us some time to have some good adult conversation and catch up on the last 12 years! When we got back to the hotel I realized I didn't get any photos of us together. :( I guess that just means we'll need to do it again sometime! It was really great to see her after all these years.

Our trip home was so much less stressful, as far as Benny's plumbing goes. We bought a package of Pull-Ups and had him wear one on the way home. It seemed like taking the pressure off of him made it so much easier for him. He did all his business like a big boy all the way home with no trouble. It was another very pleasant 6 hour drive.

We had so much fun this weekend. It's so nice to have these little opportunities to get away. I hope these trips will make for some fond memories for the boys. I know they will be for us.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Roof Update

Almost 6 weeks after the bout of Storm vs. Roof, we finally have a new roof! Here's what it looked like before (you might want to click on the photos to enlarge to really see the difference):

And here is our brand new roof!

The difference might not translate well in the photos, but to us it really looks like a brand new house. While our roof was being torn up, anyway, we thought it would be a good time to take the opportunity to add some ventilation to our attic, which was something we were wanting to do this year anyway.

Here's the really cool part. We were able to pay for the whole roof without having to go into debt and without depleting our savings. We are completely overwhelmed and humbled by God's loving provision for us in all of this. It just so happened this came at the one time of year when we get 3 large extra checks, which all turned out to be almost to the penny the amount we needed for the roof. God is good!!!

We were hoping that once the roof was done all of our interior water problems would be solved, but no such luck. With this last rain, which actually hit just before the roof was done, our roof proved to be water tight, which was great! But then we started to see water seeping in on the chimney walls, and also in the windows, neither of which had EVER been a problem before. Arg! Now we need to make sure those problems get solved before we can finally close up the wall. Are we ever ready for all of this to be over!