Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hoarding: Buried Alive.....

Is this an episode of extreme hoarders?? Here is the foyer...

Looking up the entry steps into the family room...

The kitchen...

The eating area...

Our family room...

Don't worry - we haven't turned into hoarders despite the above pictures...the good news is we are getting new carpet tomorrow in our basement and office area, so we had to, once again, move all of our stuff into a different room (this seems to be the theme of this summer for us). This has been a major pain, but each time we move all of our stuff I tend to throw out a little bit more, so I guess that is a good thing. Here is our empty office area...

And our basement...Paul actually tore up all the carpet in here because he wanted to see if there was any water damage underneath the carpet pad (there wasn't thankfully) and fully bleach the concrete before new carpet was put down. Here is our old flooring before we remodeled the basement...

Ben has been a very big help during this whole process. He helped Paul pull up carpet, get up nails, and mop everything up. He even got up Sunday morning and made us all breakfast. That's right, we were upstairs with Abbey and suddenly realized that we hadn't heard from Ben in a while. Since this is normally not a good sign, Paul ran down to see what he was up to. Turns out he had made everyone waffles, put them on plates at each of our spots, and made Paul a cup of coffee! It was so sweet and he was so proud of himself! This definitely makes up for some of his behavior this past week (pouring shampoo down the toilet to see the bubbles for example)! Ah, it's fun in this house sometimes :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

T-Ball 2011

We have had such a busy summer, but not too busy for a season of T-Ball!! This is Ben's second season of it as he played last summer too. He had a bit more fun this year as he played with his friend Aiden and seemed to become friends with the other kids on his team too, although that sometimes led to a bit more goofing off rather than focusing on the game! But at least he had fun. Here he is up to bat (yes, he's a lefty).

Running the bases...

Being a ham for the camera instead of focusing on running home!

The girls really enjoy going to the games too - who wouldn't enjoy running around in great weather!

Abbey always brings her glove to every game, even though she just carries it around. She can play once she turns 4.

Back to the game, Ben catching a grounder...

Ben has quite the cheering section!

It was a great season - congrats Ben!!
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Monday, July 25, 2011


And if we didn't have enough going on this summer, Chien decided he needed to add to our list and get some attention too. He had a growth over his eye that we have been watching for a few months. It has slowly become bigger and the vet said we could just watch it for now unless it started to bother him. Well, it started to bother him as he would try to scratch it and then it would bleed. It was getting pretty big too. So, we decided it had to come off (second lump removed in 6 months, but at least it isn't anything serious). So, here is the lump before surgery (you can see the scab within the lump where he has scratched it and had it bleed).

And now here he is after surgery with his stitches. Unfortunately, she had to remove some of his skin around his eyelid where his eyelashes grow and replace the skin, so those eyelashes won't grow back (which is too bad because he has pretty eyes), but at least it is gone and hopefully once the stitches come out he will be more comfortable.

Poor Chien...
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When it Rains...

I was so looking forward to having a productive weekend. I wanted to hang everything on the walls and finish putting away all the last minor things so our house would be completely back to normal. I even hoped I would have a chance to do a lot of cleaning as certain areas of our house desperately need it since the remodel. Well, I guess God had other plans for us this weekend. Friday night we had a terrible storm - I was awake for about 2 hours because the thunder was so loud and the lightning was pretty much continuously lighting up the sky. I can't believe the kids slept through the whole thing as I was jolted from my bed several times due to the intensity of the thunder and lightning combined. Saturday morning, Paul and I were exhausted. The kids got up normal time and we told them they could go watch tv in the basement. They came up to tell us the tv wasn't working (which wasn't so shocking considering the storm), so Paul set up a movie for them in the family room so we could get a touch more sleep. We went out to breakfast, went grocery shopping, ran a few errands and then came home for lunch. The kids went down to see if the tv was working in the basement and called me down to look at it. I stepped off our last step into the basement into water. My first thought was that the kids spilled something so I asked them what was going on. They both sat on the couch waiting for the tv and looked confused. I took another step and realized the basement was soaking wet. It wasn't standing water, but when you stepped on the carpet it puddled around your foot. They looked at my face and said, "yeah, it was like that this morning too. And look Mom!" Ben said as he jumped off the couch and onto the floor, "When you jump like this it makes splashes!" Sure enough, as he jumped up and down water was splashing up around his feet. I opened the laundry room door to see black stuff covering the floor. I immediately called Paul down and we quickly realized that the sewer had backed up and our sump pump had gone out briefly when our power went out briefly (around 3am).

Paul started to clean up and I went to 3 stores and called a bunch of different places only to find that there were absolutely no carpet cleaners anywhere close to us available. One of the store clerks laughed and told me they were out of them by 8am...oh those lucky people who knew they had a problem earlier on! Thankfully, Domi was able to easily get a carpet cleaner down by her and brought it up with Andrew to help us the rest of the day. Domi/Andrew spent most of the day running it back and forth over the carpet (they got up over 50 gallons of water) and Paul cleaned up the sewer waste that was in our laundry room, downstairs bathroom, and utility closet. I mostly watched the kids and went to work on santizing everything. Luckily, most of the toys were actually put away and not out on the floor, so that helped a lot. we did lose some toys (a few puzzles that were on the floor and some dolls that were soaked through), but most of stuff was salvageable with some heavy sanitizing. I didn't take any pictures of the mess before we started cleaning, but here are a few once we were pretty much done and setting up fans to keep up the drying efforts.

Once fully cleaned, the laundry room became one of the sanitizing stations between running multiple loads of laundry and wiping everything down with disinfecting wipes or bleach.
And our house, which I had thought would be back to normal after this weekend, is not back to total chaos. Here is our foyer with toys and other items from the basement in it.

Our new office, which I had pretty much just finished on Friday by setting up the new kids table and chairs, is now just a toy storage place (notice though that Ben did find a spot to play legos).

So while we spent the entire weekend cleaning, it wasn't exactly the cleaning I was planning to do. It was good to get everything disinfected given how sick this family has been this summer though. We have fans continuing to run, but they aren't big fans so I am not sure how much it is helping. We did call our insurance company as the more time passes the more we think the carpet is going to have to be replaced. Ironically, our kitchen contractors were out this morning to put the glass doors on our cabinets so now that project is completely finished...just in time to start a new project! Before the kitchen, the basement was the newest and nicest area in our house...I guess it got a bit jealous of the new kitchen and decided it needed some upgrades as well. Our contractors took a look at the basement and they are guessing it will need to be replaced as well. So, we are currently waiting to hear back from our insurance company and in the meantime, are back to chaotic living. I can't tell you how anxious I am to get this house and our life back to normal, but it looks like it may be a while now.

Even though it was an awful weekend, we decided we have a lot to be thankful for. We are so thankful for Domi and Andrew for spending their Saturday helping us out - we could not have done it without their help. We are so thankful that this didn't happen while we were out of town or even on days when Paul was working - at least he didn't have to take vacation days and spend them cleaning up a sewer flooded basement! We are thankful this didn't happen when we were all so sick. And of course, it could always be worse!

And I am especially thankful for my amazing husband, who never seemed too upset about the situation (unlike me) and worked very hard getting it all cleaned up and sorted through. He spent Saturday night sleeping on the couch so he could get up every few hours and reposition the fans in the basement. And on top of everything he did for our house, he still somehow found the energy to help a widow down the street (who we had never met until Sunday) clean up her basement for a few hours. Paul, I am so lucky to have you - love you!

Whew, sorry for the long post, but I guess I had a lot to say on the matter! I will post pictures of the completely finished kitchen soon, but it is a bit of a mess right now given this weekend!
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Thursday, July 21, 2011


Saturday night was the wedding. Here are the beautiful bride and her groom (Casey and Ryan).

And we got to see Paul's grandmother, Gandy! This was the first time Abbey or Juliette have met their great-grandmother and Ben didn't remember her from 2007, so it was definitely a picture moment!

Then it was on to the reception. It was pretty late at this point and the kids were exhausted, but they still had some good food and a good time. Juliette, as usual, found someone to hold her and was just happy cuddling. She doesn't look like it in this picture (she was more giving me a face than this reflecting her temperament at this moment), but she really did enjoy being held by Cousin Arden.

Then Ben took the camera and shot some photos...notice how we are squatting to make sure we made it into the picture from the way Ben was holding the camera- ha!

Caroline was the flower girl and she did a great job! Isn't she beautiful? Abbey is going to have to take flower girl lessons from her because Cousin Samantha asked Abbey to be a flower girl in her wedding next summer and she is so excited about it! Juliette was the only one of our children to make it out onto the dance floor. Ben and Abbey watched from the side (too tired to bust a move) and I think Juliette was too tired to really protest when Caroline took her hand and led her around!

The kids faded fast and we tried to get a family picture, but you can see how it turned out!

Thankfully, Aunt Kerri had arranged for a babysitter for us. So, after a quick trip back to the hotel to put the kids down, we made it back as the party really picked up (thanks so much Aunt Kerri). They passed our mardi gras hats, which was such a cute and fun idea! We weren't quite back yet when they got passed out, but Mama Kay and Papa generously gave us their hats (and don't worry - we were able to find a third hat - we didn't dare bring back 2 hats for 3 kids!)! I had to kiss a frog...

But then I found my prince...


Paul and his siblings...

What an amazing family I married into...

Theresa and I in our one-shouldered dresses...

After we saw the bride and groom off, we went to Morning Call for some delicious beignets...

It was a gorgeous wedding and we had so much fun seeing everyone. We can't wait for next summer! But, the weekend festivities were over and it was time to head back home. This time, we made sure to stop in Arkansas and take a picture. Here are the kids splitting an icee.

Here is the corn in Arkansas...not as tall as the corn in Illinois...

It was a fantastic weekend, so thank you to all the Dwyer family!
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sightseeing in New Orleans

We got into New Orleans on Friday morning and saw a lot of family we hadn't seen in quite a while. There were several new cousins' children we had not yet met and several family members our kids had never met either (or that Ben didn't remember). The kids all had so much fun together - there are 3 girls that turned 3 all within about a month of each other (Abbey being one of them) so they were super cute running around together. Friday night was the rehearsal dinner at a place with really good New Orleans style food - it was delicious! But I did not bring the camera to that event sadly as the kids were all playing so well together and being cute. Oh well.

Then on to Saturday morning. The kids had us up early as usual, so after some breakfast with Mama Kay and Papa, we headed out to explore. There was a ferry (the river cruise) very close to our hotel that was free and only about 20 minutes round trip, so it was a perfect way to start our morning! The kids were so excited to get on, but got a little nervous right before we started moving. Luckily, there were lots of hands to hold!
Then they got more comfortable and started looking out the window at all the cool sights!
Like this great view of the city!
Some stayed a little nervous though...or maybe just tired.
After we got off the ferry, we met up with Aunt Theresa (yes, she came down from Alaska!!), Aunt Domi, and Cousin Caroline to walk around the city a bit. We make quite a line!
We did a lot of walking, so sometimes some of us needed a lift.
Here's our group (minus Paul who is taking the picture) in front of the big Catholic Church in the french quarter (I am blanking on the name right now. Ed. Note-St Louis Cathedral)
And here is a picture of Ben and Aunt Theresa by the horse.
Now flash back to 2007 (the last time we came to New Orleans for a family wedding) with Ben and Aunt Theresa by the time has flown by!

Well, with all this walking around, we got pretty hot and decided to rest a bit with a little refreshment.
Then make some wishes in a nearby fountain.
Juju gets a lift from Aunt Thereeta.
Ben saw someone with a balloon and spent the rest of the morning on a mission to find one for himself. Luckily, we did finally find one and he got a cool sword out of it...unfortunately it later led to a meltdown when the sword popped :(
The kids with their balloons.
It was a very fun morning. We also walked around the market area and just took in the ambiance of this great city. Then it was back to the hotel for naps and showers...after all, we had a wedding to attend that night!
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