Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sick Day

The only thing good about sick days is the extra snuggles that come along with the fevers, coughing, and sneezing. Benji started a high fever a few nights ago. This photo is from yesterday morning, at the height of his fever. The poor guy was so tired that he actually fell asleep on my shoulder while I was talking on the phone - canceling today's preschool co-op, which was to be held at our house. He still has a low fever today, but he's mostly back to normal, playing and running around the house with his brother. And he took his snuggles with him. :(

Sunday, March 20, 2011

To-Do List 2011 Update

It's three months into the new year and a new To-Do list, so it's a good time to take stock and see how well I'm doing with my goals:

1. Lose weight. I wanted to lose about 10 lbs by my birthday this month, but that didn't happen. Actually, I barely lost any weight since committing to the goal over three months ago. I've been frustrated with myself because while it felt to me like I was putting in a lot of effort (cooking healthy meals with lots of vegetables, working out three times a week), it seems like it's been so hard to lose anything. 
But I did keep a journal of what I ate throughout the day for three months and I learned some things about myself: 
1) I think it's okay to eat unhealthy food when we eat out. BIG mistake, since food offered at restaurants is some of the most calorie-dense stuff around. 
2) I think it's okay to overindulge on the weekends, since I've "been good" all week. One yummy snack isn't going to hurt, but two full days of overindulgence can (and has) prevented me from losing weight. 
3) I think it's okay to overindulge on special occasions. 

When you put together each scenario where I think it's okay to eat badly or overindulge, it works out to several days a week. When I look at it this way, no wonder I haven't lost weight! Once I realized where I was going wrong, I made some changes to my eating habits that will hopefully produce some results. We'll see where I am in three more months. :)

2. Decrease Internet time. I've been successful with this. I keep my computer off during the day and give myself 15 minutes of "veg-out" time on the Web a day. 

3. Read the whole Bible again. More success here. I started off with the same reading plan I used last year, which takes the reader through the Bible in chronological order, starting at Genesis and ending in Revelation. Recently I changed to a different reading plan which takes the reader through four separate sections of scripture each day. This way, I'll get to read the gospels and wisdom books twice through the year, and the rest of the Bible once.

4. Take part in a Photo-a-Day project). Big fat fail. I stuck with it for eight days, then realized that between taking pictures, uploading then, selecting (the very few) good ones, editing them, and adding them to my Flickr account, it was really interfering with goal #2: Decreasing Internet Time. Also, it wasn't much fun when I had to put so much work into it. In the end I decided that for now, I'll just stick with taking pictures of my cute kids doing cute things and work on my photography skills when I have more time and interest on my hands.

5. Read more good books. Success! Some of the books I've read this year are Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, Intimate Issues, by Linda Dillow, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lews, Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, and I'm currently reading Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. I was given a TON of good books for my birthday. Glancing at the growing stack of To-Be-Read books throughout the day has been great motivation for me to spend more time reading.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Deck Refinish

This weekend we spent almost every minute of daylight working on our deck. This project has been on our To Do list since we moved in to our house, but we just never got around to it until now. Earlier in the week, we spent a day prepping the deck for sanding: driving screws deep into the planks, smoothing the railings, and letting the kids feel like they were helping out by sanding the floor of the deck.

All day Saturday we spent sanding each part of the deck, and also sanding and sealing our table and chairs that go on the deck. Like the deck, our furniture was overdue for a refinish. On Sunday, we applied a coat of stain to all parts of the deck.

It was a TON of work, and both Mark and I had aches and pains in new places when it was all done. But now it's done and drying. It was a huge project on our list for a year now, and at last it is done. What appeared to be a ratty, creaky, old deck, ready to be replaced, now looks almost new, and feels very solid to walk on.

We let the kids use the power sanders on the deck while we sanded the railings and sunk all the screws.  As you can see, almost all of the original red stain is gone from erosion. What is more, a lot of the screws were sticking up 1/4 inch above the wood, the boards creaked, and the grain of the wood was so weathered it was as bumpy as a washboard.

Just sinking the screws made an immediate difference. The floor no longer creaked and shifted, and we could move around without catching on screw heads.

Mark used a belt sander for some of the railings, but others were so bad he had to use a hand planner.

There is something very satisfying about using a sharp hand plane. It is like popping bubble sheets.

Chief Sand-em-smooth

We rented a big floor sander for the day. It took five sandings of the whole deck (about 8 hours) to get it flat and smooth.

While Mark sanded the floor of the deck, I sanded and stained our table and chairs. It was harder work then you'd think. We re-coat our teak furniture every spring, so there was 3 years of weathered varnish to get off.

On Sunday we stained, starting with the railing and detail work.

In the 2nd half of Sunday, we started coating the floor with rollers on poles.  We were racing the clock at this point since it was supposed to rain that evening. Our stain was oil-based, so it wouldn't wash away, but it needed to have enough time to absorb and dry in the wood so that the finish didn't look muddled.

The finished deck. It is not completely dry yet, so it looks darker and shinier then the final result.

Hooray! A big project done!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Being Brudders

One of the things I prayed for a lot when I was pregnant with Ben was that my two boys would get along well together. God has answered my prayer beyond what I could have imagined. Tommy and Ben are best buddies. Of course, they have their usual sibling moments of fighting over toys or being too rough with each other. I suppose that is unavoidable with two little kids. But their relationship is generally characterized by a lot of love and caring for each other. They are each other's buddy from the time they bound down the hallway first thing in the morning until the time tell each other bathroom jokes before falling asleep at night. It makes my heart very glad to see my children show so much love to each other and to enjoy spending time together. I pray that this affection will continue throughout their lives. 

Here are some recent examples of "being brudders":

One afternoon Tommy woke up from nap much earlier than Ben. We fixed three snacks (one for me, one for Tommy, one for Ben) and then ate our two snacks. When Ben woke up about thirty minutes later, Tommy brought his snack and his water cup to him in bed. Then Ben shared some of his snack with Tommy. Awwww....

"Being brudders" - the boys have a game where one will lay on the other's lap and they say they're "being brothers". After a few minutes, this usually turns into one of two games: pretending to be a baby, complete with pretend crying and pretend tantrums, or a full-on wrestling match. But it's incredibly heartwarming while it lasts.

Tommy "reading" a book to Ben. The cuteness occurring here was at such high levels that we had to take a video of it to capture the moment.