Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goodbye, Ningdu

This is video of the incoming orphanage director at Ningdu (blue shirt), the outgoing director (woman in back), one of the government officials (pink shirt) and the SWI doctor, (woman on right) waving goodbye after our visit last summer. As we were leaving the incoming director lit fireworks for us.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kitchen Demo Begins

The first step to the kitchen remodel was to take down the soffit. The cabinet above the microwave is where we've kept the liquor. It's new temporary home is on a card table in the living room. But it's probably going to be moved from there, too. More on the reasons for that in a later post.

This is what was inside the soffit. Which poses a problem. We don't want any soffit at all there, so the pipes that lead up to Rachel's bathroom need to be moved. I have a good friend whose husband is a plumber and he's going to help us out. Thanks, Ralph!
Next up, taking out the cabinet and microwave. The microwave is on the top of our baker's rack in the dining room for the time being. It's a bit high, but it won't be there long. The next cabinet over was the next victim.
Now what?
The wall comes down next, of course!
So far, so good. There is still the soffit to take down completely and electric that needs to be moved. We also need to figure out how to support the granite breakfast bar that will go on this half wall. Flooring is an even tougher question....

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I like winter, I really do. But this winter was long. But my favorite times of year are definitely spring and fall. I love the change of seasons. Everything is so new, so fresh. I love how the grass gets a little greener every day, how seemingly overnight the trees have leaves budding on them.

Today we celebrated spring the way so many do: At Rita's for free water ice. I took a picture, and I searched and searched for the picture, but couldn't find it. Then I remembered I took it on my cell phone, which I don't know how to upload to the computer.

Rachel and I also planted some flower seeds. We are starting them inside. We planted zinnias, forget-me-nots and delphiniums. Can't wait to watch them grow.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Taylor Swift Concert

Fred surprised us tonight with tickets for the Taylor Swift concert.
It was Rachel's first concert, and it was a really good one!
After going into the crowd to sing a song, Taylor walked through the audience to this small stage at the opposite end of the arena to sing a few songs. Then she walked through the audience back up to the main stage. It was a really nice touch, hugging and shaking hands with so many of her fans.
This was the set for "Love Story," which I loved. It's one of my favorite songs of hers.
This was the finale, and I'm pretty sure the song was "Should've Said No." She had water raining down on her, and gaps in the water would spell out words, like "no." It was very cool. Overall, I think Rachel really enjoyed her first concert. It was hard to tell sometimes, though, because, as with everything, she seemed to be studying it. She has always been a big observer. She takes everything in.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kitchen Makeover

This past weekend we started remodeling our kitchen. Below are the "before" pictures. I have hated our kitchen since we moved in here 7 1/2 years ago. Our kitchen in Florida was pretty big, and I guess we were spoiled. What we're doing to the kitchen won't alleviate all our problems. The only way to do that would be to take out the wall completely and move the stove (which means moving the gas line) and replace our hard wood floor. So we're going to do the next best thing and give ourselves much more cabinet space and the feeling of more room.

This is looking at our kitchen as you come in from the garage. One of the problems Fred and I have when cooking is that we bump into each other around the stove and island. I realize that there are worse problems to have. After all, not every wife takes the role of sous chef at dinner time so her husband do the bulk of the cooking. The basic layout here will stay the same, but everything will be replaced (except the appliances).
This is our barely-used dining room. The table was my grandmother's, the desk was my dad's and the china cabinet I bought used a few years ago. It's all going away. Well, I'll be keeping the table, chairs and desk, just not in this room.
This is the view from standing next to the desk. The wall that has the picture on it will be coming down...half of it anyway. It will become a breakfast bar. The window is staying as is. We decided to get rid of the dining room because, in the 7+ years we've been here, we've used it only a handful of times. More often than not, this table is covered with a bunch of stuff, whether it be Rachel's school projects, craft projects, or just random crap that lands there and doesn't get put away. I have a backup plan if and when I ever do have a big holiday dinner.
This is a view of the kitchen from the bay window, near our kitchen table. The mess to the right of the refrigerator is a bakers rack that holds all my cookbooks, my mixer, clean dish towels, a wine rack (filled mainly with cooking wines), Fred's coffee and other incidentals. It, too, will be going away and in its place will be cabinets and the microwave.

We are planning to do this project entirely on our own, with the exception of some minor plumbing work which I will outline in a later post. So yes, it's going to take quite a while to complete.

Some of the things I'm stuck on are what to do with the floor in the dining room. Right now it is carpet. I'm thinking of putting down slate tiles. But will that be too many different kinds of flooring? Getting hard wood to match what's in the kitchen will be next to impossible, and replacing all the hard wood will be way out of our budget.

And what should I do with the walls? We're going to do a tile backsplash above the stove and countertops, but what about the walls that will still be exposed in the dining room and the remaining walls in the kitchen? The walls of the "formal" living room (more like a sitting room) that is off the dining room are red, very red. The walls of the family room, which is where I took the first picture from, are a textured blue. Not too dark and not too light. It's almost like a light denim blue, I guess. And the walls of the hallway from the front door into the kitchen are white with thick stripes. The prior owners painted them. They alternated flat and satin or glossy white to make subtle stripes, which I like. Unlike the circus tent strips above the counters that I hate.

Of course, I'll take pictures along the way and I'll try to get them posted more frequently!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Battle Bound!

Eeks! I haven't posted anything since the 1st? That's pretty bad, even for me.

Friday, March 5th, my friend Kim and I drove the girls to Washington D.C. for Battle at the Capital a huge cheerleading competition. We drove down on Friday to do some sightseeing before the competition started on Sunday. Emily's brother Nick went along.

Emily broke her toe a couple weeks ago and all the walking we were doing was making it hurt, so she got a lift from Nick.
It was very windy, but we were lucky the sun was out and it wasn't raining.
Rachel took this picture of the Washington Monument. We only had a couple hours, so we went to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. Then we went back to the hotel for dinner before letting the girls swim before bed. We were going to go the Outback Steakhouse, but found out it was 6 miles away from the hotel. Plus, it was Friday and since Kim and her kids are Catholic, no meat. So we ended up at the little mall area under our hotel and had pizza from Sbarro. BAD CHOICE. That's all I have to say about dinner.

The girls swam for an hour or so with some of the other cheerleaders staying at our hotel, and then it was time for showers, hairdrying and bed. We have to dry their hair real good before bed because the coaches want it straight. So even though Rachel has straight hair, I blow it out and put Chi Silk Infusion in it, and it turns out real soft and very straight.

Monday, March 1, 2010

First Place Again!

Rachel's team came in first place again this weekend! There wasn't a whole lot of competition there, but still, a win is a win! And they did really good. The stunt they're doing here is an arabesque. This stunt starts as a pop-up, then she changes to a heel stretch, then a scorpion and ends in the arabesque, and then she cradles out of it. Rachel's job in this stunt is the back spot.
Rachel's team is a Youth Level 2. Youth designates the age group; 8 to 12 year olds, basically. The Level 2 part is their skill level. I don't really know all the details, but I know that for tumbling they can't do anything above a back handspring. They can do front and back walkovers, forward rolls and roundoffs. I think there's some rule about their stunting, too. Maybe something about the flyer's hips can't go higher than their head. But like I said, I'm not really sure. Anyway, the organization where Rachel cheers has several different levels. They have tiny 1, mini 2, Junior 3, Junior 4, Senior 3 and Senior 4.2. The 4.2 means their tumbling is a level 2, but the stunting is level 4, or something like that. Our Junior 4 team is phenomenal. I hope to get some pictures of them at this weekend's nationals.
This will be our first big competition. It's a two day event, and the teams perform both days. Your best score of the two days is the one that counts. It should be a fun weekend. I'm driving and taking Rachel, her friend Emily and Emily's mom Kim, who is also my friend. :) We are leaving Friday and will be home Sunday night.