Thursday, September 8, 2022

Got That New New

Living in an older home means there are endless projects to tackle. A couple of the big ones we have knocked out so far this year were replacing part of our fence and replacing a few of our exterior doors. I have no idea how long ago the wooden fence was originally installed at our house, but it's been in place since at least our ownership, which has been 9 years. It's been leaning in one section for a while, and got quite a bit worse over the past year. Another section had been covered in ivy, but after the deep freeze of 2021 killed the plants, we removed them to find the boards were pretty deteriorated and old. 

I've heard people being hit lately with massive quotes on fence replacement, so I was bracing myself. Luckily, we found a guy who would place the supplies order on our behalf, so we could pay the distributer directly, thereby insuring no markup on supplies. Then we paid him for labor after the job was done. I have to think that lowered our overall cost. I'm very pleased with the end results!

For the doors project, it took a little longer than I had hoped from order to installation because of supply chain issues. Still worth the wait, though! We replaced a couple doors to an outside supply closet, our back patio door, and our double front doors. The front doors definitely had the biggest improvement! 

Before and after of back patio door

Outside before view of front doors

Inside before view of front doors

Outside after view

Inside after view

The new look is much more modern and lets light inside, while still ensuring privacy. The previous doors didn't let any light in, so the entry way was always very dark. 

Still a lot more projects on the to-do list, including painting our brick and remodeling our pool, but it's always nice to get a couple more under our belt. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Sweet Sixteen

Sometimes our 16-year marriage has been about the exciting moments - like the time Jer bought a spectator pass at my VIP experience with tennis pros because I wanted someone to take pictures of it. Or the time we had a field pass before a 49ers game and he slipped past security, so I waved him on while I turned back, because I knew it would be awesome for him to shake the owner's hand. 

Sometimes it's been about the sad moments - holding each other after the loss of loved ones and pregnancy losses.

Sometimes it's been about the small moments - watching Jeopardy together every day and taking turns on kid duty in the mornings so the other gets a few extra minutes of sleep.

No matter the day, no matter the moment - it's always been about love, mutual respect, honesty, and friendship. It feels like we've already lived a lifetime together, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. Bring on the next 16!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Kentucky Bourbon Tour 2022

Our besties Casey and Rachel invited us on a trip to Kentucky to visit a few distilleries. I couldn't care less about bourbon, or really alcohol in general, but I never want to miss the chance to take a vacation with Meezy and our friends! Our first stop was Angel's Envy where we learned their history, saw the distilling and bottling process, and ended with a tasting. I don't like the taste of bourbon, but I took my sips and quickly switched to the chocolates!

We had dinner at Jack Fry's in Louisville. The parking sucks but the food was fantastic! We stayed at The Brown Hotel. It's got an old-world vibe, but it was nice enough. The next morning our first stop was at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery in Versailles. The tour was cool because the buildings are super old and they actually still roll the barrels! 

Up next was the Buffalo Trace Distillery. By this point I really didn't need to hear any more history or details about how the bourbon was made, but the tour was still fun, the gift shop was great, and the tasting was my favorite. They had Bourbon Cream and Root Beer! Now you're speaking my language. 

This experience was the favorite for our group because after the tasting, each of us was allowed to buy the (rare) Blanton's at retail price. Not that I knew this before Meezy told me, but apparently it's hard to find, especially in the DFW area, and if you do find it, the price is super marked up. 

Next up was a stop to the Bulleit Distilling Co to grab a drink and check out their gift shop.

We ended the day with a meal at OBC in Lexington. They have a ridiculously expansive Bourbon selection, but the food was underwhelming. Meezy and Casey tried Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year but decided they like Eagle Reserve and Willett better. Glad they figured that out before splurging for a bottle!

Meezy and I had a flight home the next morning and our friends started their road trip back to DFW with all the booze! It was quite the haul.

I really didn't expect to have a blast on a trip centered about Bourbon, but I wouldn't mind doing it again in the future. I've already gifted a few bottles to clients and they've been happy about it! I guess it depends on how long it takes to get through the rest of these!

Side Yard Remodel

We decided it was time to revamp our side yard. The playground had a lot of wear and tear and our kids had pretty much outgrown it. The area under the trampoline was never able to grow grass, so we were basically just trying to cover it up. The entire space was very large, but the playground took up most of it and prevented any other activities from happening. Here is a before pic:

We initially thought we'd install a sport court, but I wouldn't be able to get exactly what I wanted because of the width limitations, and we'd probably have to cut down a tree. Since the cost was going to be super high, we decided it wasn't worth it to pay that much for something that wasn't ideal. The backup plan was to turf the whole area and install a putting green. We interviewed a few companies and chose Synthetic Grass Pros. We went to their office to test the turf options. They have a section beside their building with all the different types, so we took the kids, took off our shoes, and walked on all of them! We decided on "St Augustine Soft."

First the playground had to go, then the trampoline was relocated to our backyard, and then all the grass was dug up. They removed the first layer of dirt, leveled the yard, and then put down a layer of crushed rock. 

Then they started installing the turf and putting green. After install, they threw down a bunch of sand to weigh it down, to keep the turf blades standing up, and to hide any seams. It took about a week to complete. 

The finished product is breathtaking! It's really beautiful, it feels good to walk or run on, and it's totally safe for Zoey.

It's nice to have a large, flat expanse for playing sports and so that Zoey can run around. The putting green was a fun addition and provides some novelty when friends are over. It wasn't a cheap project, but we're happy with not needing to mow it and not worrying about grass not growing in some areas.

Dutch Turns Ten

My oldest hit the double digits! Dutch turned 10 in February and asked to invite a few friends to go ice skating. There were no professionals in the group, so it was fairly comical for us to watch. They had a great time, though, and enjoyed pizza, dessert, and games at our house after. 

Over the past year, Dutch has gone to weekly coding classes. He's doing pretty well and seems to enjoy it. He also made the Lone Star team at school (only a few fourth graders did), which is somewhat of an academic decathlon team. He has 1-2 meetings a week and will compete in May. We're very proud of him! He continues to be an avid reader, often getting through multiple multi-hundred page books each week. His bedroom is filled to the brim with books and he gets mad when he doesn't have something new to read! He enjoys the daily Wordle, Marvel movies, the game Terraria, riding his bike, and playing catch with Meezy. We recently got him a smart watch that lets him communicate with us and tracks his location, so he's able to be a little more independent.  

He's a little OCD with his bedsheets, doesn't like to see a mess on the floor or counter not being cleaned up quickly, wears his pants up too high, likes a hoodie no matter how warm it is outside, gets frustrated if his hair isn't sitting flat, often gets impatient with his little brother, loves Zoey like crazy, is very affectionate and loving to his parents, has good manners, stays up super late and sleeps in late, and does very well in school. We love the young man he's becoming!

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Thanksgiving in NY

When we told the boys that Meezy and I were taking a weekend trip to Arizona, they said they wanted to take a trip too. I asked where they'd want to go and Dutch said New York. He wanted to see the 9/11 Museum because they had been learning about that day's events recently in school. That sounded like a good idea, and if we were going to be in NY, I figured we should try to get tickets to Hamilton because they both really enjoy that soundtrack. We picked Thanksgiving week because they'd be off from school and it was Jude's birthday week. I checked Broadway's vaccine requirements and, at the time, if you weren't fully vaccinated, you'd have to show proof of a negative test within 3 days of the performance. That presented some logistical problems because our show tickets were for the day after Thanksgiving and I wasn't sure the boys' test results would be back in time with a holiday in the mix. As luck would have it, right around then they released the shots for 5-12 year olds and Broadway updated their rules to say they only needed to have their first shot at least 14 days before the show. Perfecto! The boys got their shots, got their vaccine cards, and we were good to go!

We traveled to NY on Thanksgiving Day, which worked really well. The lines weren't long at security and the airport wasn't that crowded in general. Only snafu was Jude getting a nose bleed on the plane! Then he got another one in the car on the way to the hotel. That's never happened before! Thank goodness for helpful flight attendants and Meezy having the foresight to keep a couple extra napkins on hand after the first incident. 

We stayed at the Hyatt Centric Times Square. I thought the rates were reasonable, but I definitely would have preferred a larger room. It was a great location, though, because we wanted to avoid public transportation as much as possible. We were able to walk to numerous tourist attractions and find food nearby. The first night we took it easy and just visited Times Square and M&M's World.


We started our first full day in NY at FAO Schwartz. It was pretty awesome, but (luckily!) we weren't able to buy much because it wouldn't have fit in our luggage. 

Up next was Hamilton! I had seen Hamilton performed in DFW a couple years prior, but seeing it on Broadway was another level! When a song started, Jude would lean over to me and announce which one it was. They enjoyed it, but definitely started getting antsy before intermission. Being able to grab snacks and drinks helped them make it through the second half. This was my third show to see on Broadway, and I look forward to more in the future. It was fun to experience this one with the boys.

After the show we had reservations at Serendipity3 to celebrate Jude's birthday. We surprised him with a birthday song from the staff. He was so embarrassed but he took it like a champ! The desserts were delicious.

The next day we started by visiting Oculus Plaza. It provided some good photo ops! It helps that my kiddos are so cute. 

The next stop was Dutch's choice - the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Meezy and I had visited during a prior trip to NY, so we let the boys decide which exhibits to check out. Jude liked seeing the gallery of dogs that assisted in rescue efforts. Dutch read as many placards as he could. After we listened to the phone calls/voicemails of the passengers on United Flight 93, he decided he couldn't take anymore. It's a lot for anyone to take in, let alone a 9 year old.

We headed up to the One World Observatory so we could get some great views of the city. It was neat to show the boys the Statue of Liberty and also Ellis Island, which was their Opa's first stop in America.

We hit up Schnipper's for dinner, which had some super yummy shakes, and ended our day at Nintendo NY. 

I love that our kids picked this destination and that we were able to make it happen. I think it's important for them to travel and see other parts of the country and world. It's also nice that they're at ages where we can actually enjoy vacations that aren't completely catered to kids' activities!