Thursday, April 28, 2016

Special Education Services!

Since my last post about Ella's IEP a lot has happened. First off one of the main reasons she didn't qualify for an IEP was because her Neurologist didn't feel comfortable saying that her short term memory issues were actually caused from the Hydrocephalus. Her Neurologist did want her to see a Neuropsychologist though. I wasn't sure what this appointment was going to entail. I thought it might be where Ella is given some tests and the Dr will be able to know how she learns best or something like that. Really though I was clueless as to what this appointment was all about. 

On February 24th the kids had early dismissal from school so I took all 4 of them with me to Ella's appointment. I had planned that we would probably have to wait for a little while so I had a bag with snacks and card games. Thankfully since this is a pediatric office they are quite well prepared to entertain the kids. 

After a while Ella needed to use the restroom and we actually ended up running into Dr. Dorsch as she was coming out to get us. 

The appointment ended up being quite different than I envisioned. Basically she had toys for the kids to play with and she talked and asked me questions about Ella. She wanted to know things like when she crawled, walked and talked. She also wanted to know some of our family history and about our home life. Then she started talking and basically it became clear to me that she was going to be a major advocate for Ella. 

She explained that you don't normally see people that can talk, walk and generally function from day to day walking around with short term memory issues. It's just not normal. She talked about how we have a very stimulating home and how Ella has not lacked in exposure to all sorts of skills. She even commented on how bright Zeke was because he's just living in our home and being exposed to older siblings. We haven't started formally teaching him anything and he can already count to 12, he can recognize letters and he knows how to spell his name. So basically Ella's delay in learning has nothing to do with our home life or our family medical history. 

She was very confident that Ella's short term memory issues and her learning delays were a direct result from her Hydrocephalus. Hearing this felt like I finally crossed the finish line in a race! I have been working towards getting Ella education services since before she was 3 years old. At Birth - 3 she scored just over the line for them to offer her services, with ECAEP she literally was one point away from being able to qualify for state special education preschool. Every time I tried to get her help she was just a little too good in certain areas. In fact with the IEP testing she was low in certain areas, but then high in other areas and when you stopped and thought about it of course she needed assistance. That's exactly what Dr. Dorsch said....and she was willing to put whatever she needed in an official letter to the school psychologist in order to help Ella qualify for special education services at school. Praise the LORD!!! 

She was also very clear about Ella being retained for Kindergarten. In fact she wants her to repeat it again and stay with Ms. Asselin. Since Ella has short term memory issues if she stays with the same teacher there will be things she doesn't have to relearn such as...teacher style and classroom location. We as an IEP team have to come to the conclusion that she will be retained. I for one am going to fight for it. I don't really think I'll have to fight hard, but just in case I'm ready for it. My thinking is Kindergarten is the foundation of all your want it to be firm and have a strong understanding of the basics. Just like with a house you wouldn't start building the frame of the house if the foundation wasn't firm. Right now Ella's foundation is Play-Doh. It's taking shape and holding together, but it's not yet firm. She needs more only gets harder! 

Back to Dr. Dorsch....she must have written the letter later that day or early the next morning and then faxed it to the school psychologist because the very next day I got a call from Mrs. Perkins saying that Ella now qualifies for Special Education Services!!!! That was music to my ears!!! 

We met as an IEP team on March 29th and discussed Ella's new goals. She is receiving Special Education for Reading, Writing and Math. She's also still going to have Speech Therapy. For speech she still meets for 30 minutes a week, but for her other services she receives 20 minutes for each subject every single day!!! That's 60 minutes a day of special education services. She meets with Ms. Burdsall for reading and math and with Ms. Alisa for writing. At first I wasn't sure how Ella was going to like it since she's being pulled from her class and her classmates, but she really loves it! The best part is she isn't going to miss out on any of her specials such as library, music and PE. 

Her first time meeting with Mrs. Burdsall was the week before spring break. Ella came home and said, "Mama...I can spell Mom....MMMM....M.....Ahhhhh.....O.......MMMM.....M!" I was so proud of her! 

Student Led Conferences were the week after spring break and after seeing her classroom results it just because more and more clear to me that she really does need to retake Kindergarten. She just needs more time and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Ella is a very smart girl she just needs extra time to retain information. We would not be doing her any favors by letting her advance to 1st grade when she's not ready. 

At conferences I asked Mrs. Burdsall if she had any books that I could take home that are the level that Ella is reading at. Currently she's reading at a level A for Fontus & Pinnell curriculum. She let me take home a few copies of books that she reads during her special education time. She even gave us this fun purple pouch to keep them in since we do need to return them to the school.  

A couple days after bringing them home I sat down at the dining room table with Ella and she read me these 3 books. She knows some words for sure, but she also recognizes patterns and just goes with it. She's also good at using the pictures to help her with the words. Which is totally great....she is using the resources she has and that's going to be a great tool for her all of her life. 

I'm so truly proud of my girl! She is such an amazing example in regards to never giving up and never getting discouraged. She has the most positive outlook and she absolutely LOVES learning, LOVES school and LOVES all her teachers. They are such a blessing to her and I know she's a blessing to them. 

I've been praising God for this outcome. I know it didn't happen when I wanted it to, but it did happen in God's timing and that's the best! I'm so happy that Ella is getting the services she deserves. I'm so thankful for these wonderful ladies that are working so hard to help Ella learn and retain information. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

First Time Skating!

The Friday of spring break was the day we were going to Asmeriah's party. Thankfully Jackson was finally feeling better. Michael was tired from working and I knew that I didn't want to bring all 4 kids by myself so he kept Owen and Zeke at home. Owen wasn't really interested in skating and Zeke would honestly be such a mess. He is the clumsiest kid around!  

Picture with the birthday girl!!! 

I figured that this was the first time I had been skating since the late 90's! I used to spend every Friday night at Skate King in Bellevue for Christian skate night. That was totally my jam! Back then they didn't have these cool PVC things that help kids learn. They are basically walkers for children on castor wheels. 

I only brought my phone so the pictures aren't the best. After the first picture with the walker things I ended up finding a taller one for Jack since he was having to bend over too far with the smaller one. Jackson tried so hard to skate and actually get it. He unfortunately is just like his father and was all over the place. I tried explaining to him it's the same sort of thing like sliding on your socks at home, but he still wasn't getting it. Ella on the other hand really did great! She took to it right away. Jackson ending up falling probably around 20 times and Ella only fell 3 times. 

Taking a break from all that hard work!

Picture with Mama! 

The party was so fun and it was so nice to try out skating with the kids and not have to pay. I had so much fun skating myself. It took me a couple laps, but I got my skating legs back. I could have spend hours out there! I was already sore from all the yard work we had been doing and I could definitely feel my backside getting sore from skating. My biggest worry though was getting a blister on my foot...thankfully that didn't happen! 

I think it would be fun for me to Jack and Ella again another time. They have family night on Wednesday nights so I might just have to do that sometime this summer! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wheels & Water!

Thursday April 7th was a super busy day. First we were supposed to meet at my friend Natalie's house to play, but then Jack still had a temperature so we had to alter the plans. We hadn't really been able to get together all year so we didn't want to cancel. Instead of us going to her house and spreading our germs we decided to meet at the school so the kids could play together and we could chat. Even though Jack had a temperature he was feeling good so I didn't feel bad taking him out to play.  

The kids wanted to bring their riding toys so they could ride around the concrete area at the school. There is this fun ramp that they enjoyed going down. 

Zeke is so good at his still scares me a little when I see him going so fast though! 

Ella's turn! 

Jackson is getting more and more daring with his bike...slowly, but surely! 

Natalie and I had a lot of fun catching up and the kids had fun getting to do things they normally can't do at school because of the rules. 

We had to cut our time short though because the dirt and gravel were being delivered to our house and the only time frame the lady could give me was after noon. So I made sure we were home before noon. 

Since it was pretty nice out the kids wanted to run through the sprinkler. 

Zeke looks so thrilled here...not sure what he was sad about though! 

Jackson running through!

Ella's turn!

Even thought it was beautiful out there was a slight breeze and it was a little chilly. Zeke didn't even attempt to get wet! 

They decided they should line my bench with their towels and sit on it. 

Cute milky white skin! In will only take a few weeks of summer break and they will be brown as biscuits! 

Owen wasn't interested in the water...he was too busy riding his Crazy Cart. Side Note: He only owes $35 now!

What do you do after all that fun? You eat the leftover Tuxedo cake from Easter that Mom forgot about in the frig out in the garage. 

Who needs plates...we just need forks! 

Serious eater! 

Mmmm....that was yummy! 


We are all about bunny ears right now! 

So much in fact Zeke gives them to himself! 

My sweet 6 year old girl! 

He's a goofball! 

Jackson in his Spiderman pose and Ella making upside down bunny ears! 

He's such a cool dude! 

A few hours later the truck showed up with all the dirt and gravel and it was time to work! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Please Don't Read & Drive!

During the week the kids were on spring break Kim and her kids came over to hang out and play. The weather was so nice that we were outside most of the time. The kids were having fun riding anything and everything until eventually 5 kids were riding on the Ram at once. Jackson was sick for most of spring break and he had gone in. Although I didn't notice until we all came in....that's a lot of kids to keep track of...I figured he was somewhere in all that mess! 

Anyway....Caitlynn also wasn't on the Ram. She was in the Jeep in the background. She's never really driven any of the Power Wheels and she's still learning. She pretty much was just pushing the pedal and letting the Jeep go where ever it wanted to. During this particular occasion she was sitting in the passenger seat, pushing the pedal, reading a book and driving in a big huge circle. It was so hilarious! 

Thank goodness driving is a quite a few years away for this sweet girl! ;) don't drive from the passenger seat and read while doing it?!?!?!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

School Informance!

Back in March Michael was gone for a few days at a work conference. During that time the kids music teacher had an informance for the 2nd graders. It's not a performance where the kids get on stage and sing for us it was a meeting where the music teacher and the kids informed their parents on the things they have been learning...hence the name informance! 

It's crazy, but this was actually the first time I've ever been alone with all 4 kids overnight! Michael is usually the one being left home with the kids since I will go away on girls weekends with my friends. The last time Michael went away overnight and left me home with the kids was about two weeks before Ella was born! 

To say I was stressed was an understatement. First off this was day two of me being with the kids by myself and we were all having an off day. Owen was being a pill because it wasn't all about him! He wasn't paying attention and he was doing things even when I had repeatedly told him not too. It took everything in me not to yell at him in public. 

Jack did get up on the stage with the other 2nd graders and sing for a little bit. 

Overall when I push away what was going on with Owen I had a great time. It was so fun to learn some things about music and find out what Jack is being taught. I really think our school is so blessed with our music teacher. Mr. Watters is new to our school this year and he has organized so many fun things for the kids it's just great! 

After it was over Owen had to get a picture with his favorite past teacher....he loves Ms. Davidson and has to give her a hug whenever he sees her! 

Jackson also needed a picture with his teacher. I was so happy when I found out that Jack was going into Ms. Davidson's classroom at the beginning of the year. He has really excelled in her class! 

Jack, Asmeriah (Asmeriah's sister) & Jordan! 

When we were getting ready to go I decided to see if I could talk with one of the kids parents. Asmeriah is in Jack's class and he had been invited to her birthday party. Actually the invitation said Jackson & family. The party was at Patteson's West Skating in Federal Way and I wanted to find out what Jackson & Family actually meant! I met Erica and she said yes that our whole family could come! They had rented the whole skating rink for the party so everyone was invited. I was floored! What a blessing since our kids had never been skating before! 

Jackson really likes Asmeriah so it was fun that she invited him, Jordan and a couple other kids to her party. I did tell Jackson not to get any ideas....we are not going to rent out a whole skating rink for his birthday party! :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Water Fun!

Weeks ago Zeke was bored and wanted to play in the tub, but I really didn't want him to get in the tub since the older kids were coming home from school soon. 

Solution....water toys in the sink! 

You can't play in the water without a plastic shark! 

Waiting for the water to get higher and higher! 

Measuring cups are fun! 

It wasn't the tub, but it was the next best thing!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Yard Transformation AKA This Is One Massive Post!

This year Michael and I did a lot of chatting about how best to use our tax return. We already knew that some of it was going towards an indoor remodel later this summer, but what should we do with the rest. We knew that part of this years yard goals was to get gravel for around the play structure and that's when we started talking about really focusing on the yard and getting it finished. We have done a little here and a little there, but we've only really finished one bed to the point where we feel it's done. We hardly have to do any maintenance and the plants that are in it just come back every year bigger and better. So we decided to just jump right in for a total yard transformation!  

The first area we decided to focus on was the back. In fact at first we didn't even think we'd be able to do anything much to the front at all. The picture above is the step area that leads from the backyard up to the easement. It's always been on of those places where we just didn't really know what to do with it. We've never truly been happy with it, but it worked for the time being. 

Here's another wider view shot. All that stuff under the deck has been cleared out for a long time. The kids use this area to draw with sidewalk chalk or ride their ride on toys. What we decided to do was turn that whole awkward step area on the left into a completely new garden bed. 

In doing that we will make the only access into the backyard be this weird ramp section. It's another place we really have struggled with how to transition from the easement to the yard. This year after all the changes is the first time I'm actually happy with it. 

Another view further out. The only garden bed that we had completely done is that one under the stairs. It's has some Yuccas and Hostas and they just come back every summer and fill the bed up so nice. Plus we put bark down so there are very few weeds that invade that area and if they do they pull out super easy. 

Here's a close up look at the play area. When we originally put some play toys down here we didn't have the swing set. We did put some pea gravel under the toys that were here, but not nearly enough. The weeds in this area were just atrocious! 

Our main first goal was to get a good layer of pea gravel around the play area. Michael had to use the shovel for hours to scoop up the grass that was in this area before we could bring the gravel in. There was grass from the top edge of the concrete pad at the bottom of the stairs all the way across to the retaining wall on the right. It was a ton of work and he did it in one day! 

We ended up needing 6 yards of gravel from Carpinito's Brothers and around 4 yards of dirt. However you have to order a minimum of 5 yards for them to deliver. So we went ahead and got the extra dirt and figured we'd find a way to use it. That's when Michael started looking at an area in the back yard he has always really disliked. He didn't like how the lawn didn't come to the top of the retaining wall in this above section. I was very against raising the yard to the same height as the wall so Michael came up with a add another garden bed along this edge. So Michael sprayed some lines down to see how it would look and we went for it. 

The kids had spring break during the first week of April so I had scheduled the gravel and dirt to be delivered on Thursday April 7th.

Watching all the action from the safety of the deck! 

I love that they are all old enough now that the noise from the truck doesn't scare them at all. 

This part of the delivery always scares me to death. These guys are good...I mean really good at what they do, but I'm always sure they are going to take out the neighbors chimney or something. 

Of course he did amazing.....twice! Once for the dirt and then the gravel. He actually walked down the easement with me first to check it out and see where we wanted it dumped. Afterwards he told him if the whole easement had been gravel like it is at the top and not concrete he wouldn't have even tried it. He says if you hit the brakes on a hill in a dump truck like that and it's on gravel it just keeps sliding! I'm so happy the homeowners who lived here before use chose to put in concrete. Having the access to the backyard for this type of thing has been so helpful! 


Here comes the wonderfully rich dirt! It's actually 3-way topsoil. Part dirt, steer and sand! 

After he dumped the dirt he had to drive back out to the main road to get the other trailer that had the gravel. Michael wanted to try to keep the dirt separate from the gravel so I covered it the best I could with a tarp. 

Time for gravel! 

Two big piles of a lot of manual labor!!! 

Owen could not wait to climb to the top of the gravel. I told him that his Dad would not be very happy, but I would let him do it ONCE! 

Of course the other kids had to follow suit as well! 

This boy was determined to dig himself a cave! 

Earlier in the day while Michael was at work I had dug the grass up that was next to the edge since that was going to be the part with the thinnest layer of dirt. I tell you doing that made me think that Michael must be super human because he did that whole play area section in one day. This no joke was HARD work! All those roots to get through....I was exhausted! Michael edged the garden area with that black stuff and then started moving wheelbarrow loads into the yard. I helped fill the wheelbarrows too. It was hard work, but I really truly enjoy yard work because it's so productive! 

After a while he did it....he had a cave! 

It only lasted for a couple minutes though because we need to get more dirt and it collapsed on itself. 

We moved quite a bit of dirt in one night! 

The new garden bed with all that nice dirt! 

This section was the stairs and there were two layers of these stones. Michael moved them down to just be one so the bed could be taller. He also had to extend the retaining wall that's in the back left so it would completely enclose this. He was a little stumped on how to enclose it on the back right and then figured he'd use some pressure treated 2 X 4's. That worked great! After what felts like a million wheelbarrows full and a lot of manicuring it was finally done! 

Lots of material used, but still lots to go! 

Here's the view of the new bed from the deck. 

On Monday April 4th when I knew we were starting this whole endeavor I had gone shopping at mom had the kids for their first day of spring break....and I just happened to be there at the right time. There were pallets full of bulbs. I called Michael and asked him what I should get and he said just to get a bunch of different stuff. I ended up buying over a hundred dollars in bulbs. I figured if he didn't like some of them I could bring them back. He ended up liking all of them. That's when I decided I should go back because they had some really nice size azaleas and other shrubs and we definitely needs plants to go in those new beds. 

Ella and I headed out for Costco for a little girl time. I ended up getting three azaleas and two other shrubs. I also looked through the bulbs again and found one more I liked. I was SO glad I had bought all the other bulbs just the day before because all of them were gone! On Monday there had been 3 full pallets of bulbs and then by Tuesday night there was just one and it was a very limited selection! 

Here are all the bulbs I bought. I can not wait until they start coming up. Some of them were already sprouting in the bags!

On Saturday April 9th we spent the morning hours shoveling the pea gravel...load after load! You might noticed something else different in this picture than the before picture of this area up at the beginning of the post. The retaining wall on the right used to extend out halfway towards the swings. While I was gone the night before with Jack and Ella at a birthday party (post coming soon) Michael decided to use all the rounds we had laying around from getting our giant tree cut down. He wasn't sure if I'd like them, but I actually almost suggested that he do this, but I thought he wouldn't like it. I LOVE it! I think it just adds another bit of texture to the backyard, it uses the rounds that are hundreds of pounds for an actual use and the kids love jumping from round to round. Also it can be extra seating for when we have lots of kids over.

Michael playing around with plant placement. 

More plant placement and trying to figure out which bulbs should go where depending on sun and shade needs and height. We ended up being able to reuse some plants we already had in our yard. For instance our yucca had made babies so we took those and used them in this new garden bed. We also had a couple azaleas that were being choked out by the hostas so we moved them as well. That definitely helped us not have to spend as much buying more plants. 

Owen wanted to help Daddy with planting the bulbs!

After doing most of the gravel we decided to take a break. We knew we needed to go buy some more plants for our garden that would be there during the winter months. We knew we couldn't have just bulbs! We decided to stop at Lowe's for just a couple things....a watering wand and then we got a Northern Hi-Lights Azalea, a Pink Pincess Escallonia and some grasses, but then it was off to Furney's. We had never been to Furney's before and oh my...I'm in love! I could spend so much money in there. They were so helpful and had such a good selection. We ended up getting a Primrose for the front yard and a beautiful Rhododendron that the flowers are the color of the sunset! We also got a bunch of these cool ground covers for our side garden bed by the driveway. We got out of there under $200, but it was hard! We did end up going back later and spending over $100 more dollars on more plants. 

While I was taking Owen and Jack to a birthday party Michael was busy working. 

Here's this bed all finished. There are TONS of bulbs in here so I can't wait to see them come up. After a few days we felt like we might just need to get one more plant for the very center since there was a significant gap. 

Then on April 21st Owen's teacher gave me a Lavender plant as a thank you for volunteering so much in her class this year. So it's new home is right in the middle of this bed. 

We ended up moving all 6 yards of gravel on Saturday April 9th....all but 3 wheelbarrows full that Michael had moved the night before. 

The play area all finished! We were only going to do the gravel 3 inches thick, but we actually had enough to do 4 inches and in some places more. We sprayed ground clear on to the weeds and then laid Cazaron down prior to the gravel in hopes that the weeds won't come back. I know that we will get some of course, but with the gravel being so thick it should be drastically less and the ones that do come through shouldn't be that difficult to pull. 

On to the front yard! Like I said before we didn't think we'd be able to do the front yard this year. However, with having to order the extra yard of dirt we needed a place for it to go. Also I purchased so many bulbs and they needed a place to go. It really only ended up costing a little bit in regards to a few more plants, some containers and a fun surprise at the end. 

Here's a before picture of the area we were going to focus on the most. This is the area where we had our tree cut down this last fall. That juniper was just straight up ugly and we had been wanted to get rid of it for a long time so we were happy to see it go. Michael took Friday the 15th off so we could tackle the rest of the yard.

 We wanted to move the rocks that were in this bed so we could create a new garden space. I also wanted to actually extend the yard a little because I felt this area was a bit too deep. 

Let me tell you....getting those rocks out was a pain in the butt! There were so many layers and they were so shoved in the dirt. Michael actually built this's leaning against the fence in the above picture. It was three pieces of wood and a piece of plastic chicken wire stapled together. He used it to separate the dirt from the rocks...think panning for gold style! It definitely made the whole process go faster. After extending the yard we needed to bring in grass. We decided to go get the chunks of grass that Michael had dug up a few days before from the play area. I love getting to reuse things! We also built the rocks up over by the stump so my pretty bench has a place to sit. 

All planted! My primrose bush is behind my bench and it smells SO good! I can't wait for it to be a few feet higher so it will provide me with a little bit of shade when I sit on my bench. There are a ton of bulbs in this bed as well....Gladiolus and pretty! 

This area of dirt has always been so under-utilized. The dirt here is really only a few inches no more than 6 probably! We decided to fill it with some pretty ground cover and we put a bunch of Phlox bulbs in there as well. 

This is the bed where we planted our Japanese Maple that we bought a couple years ago....sadly it didn't make it! I was so sad it was our first really expensive purchase that we made plant wise. I'm not sure if the summer was just too brutal on it or if the soil wasn't the right kind for it. But we ended up replacing it with a Purple Bayou Hydrangea from Furney's. We also put a ton of ground cover in here. Those grasses and tulips are pretty, but when they are gone this bed looked a bit bare. 

Here's a view of my primrose from the front of the driveway. 

We thought the front by the fence seemed a bit bare, but we didn't have enough dirt to turn this area into a new bed. Also we wouldn't have anywhere to put all that rock so we did the next best thing and bought a few plastic containers and put some perennials...the one on the left is a gardenia and it's going to smell so yummy. The other two are going to be pretty too, but Michael threw the tags away so I have no idea what they are. I think the one on the far right is a dwarf purple something. 

On Monday April 11th my plans for the day got altered a little so Zeke and I headed to Home Depot to pick up mulch. We got 25 bags and actually ended up having to get 2 more later in the week. 

Here's the bed with the fresh mulch and my fun surprise! 

Meet Penelope! Oh my I fell in love when I saw her at Lowe's. She was just so cute! We were trying to figure out what to do in this corner with the stump and then I saw her. Michael ran an extension all around the yard and covered it with rocks! I love sitting in my bench and listening to the water trickle out! 

Here's a closer look at her. At first Owen wanted to name her Stealth! I put a stop to that right away. I told the kids she is mine....I don't buy things for myself very much so it's about time I claim something. I also informed them that they can call her Penelope or Penny, but nothing else! :) Later on that night I wanted to go sit on my bench and enjoy my fountain and I told the kids I was going outside and then Zeke said he wanted to go and I said, "No....I want it to be peaceful!" No worries he's gotten to come out since then. He loves to sit with me on the bench and rock. I just wanted to sit out there for the first time by myself! 

I love the way fresh mulch makes everything look!

Plants in planters! 

Another view of the bed next to the driveway. One of the best things about this bed is the thing you can't see now. In the picture above of this area you can see one of those ugly metal cable boxes. Michael has always hated that so he finally had it and bought a box just like they use for meters at his work and now the wires are all inside that box and it's buried and covered with a rock. Still easily accessible, but no longer an eyesore! 

Next to the garbage enclosure I got a Confederate Jasmine. I had smelled a regular Jasmine at Lowe's and knew I wanted one for this area, but then we went to Furney's and ended up getting one from them instead. Michael just feels it's worth the extra money to get it from an actual nursery. The sad things on the right of the garbage enclosure are our lilac bushes. Our friends Lance and Rachael had some shoots that came up and they knew I wanted a Lilac bush so Lance dug those up for me. They usually look pretty good in the morning, but after all day in the heat they look pretty sad. After planting all those bulbs we still had one whole bag left with Lilies. Michael planted some in front of the Jasmine, some behind my Primrose and then some in the front of our fence where we have this fun rock. 

Back to the backyard....On Saturday April 16th Lance was so awesome and he took Michael down to Carpinito's to get a load of crushed rock for this funny ramp area. Michael was able to smooth it out so it blends into the easement very nicely. It will be great for foot traffic and taking the lawn mower up and down. We are finally pleased with this area! The only thing I would like to add in the future is an arbor. When my Dad retires later this year I'm hoping he'll schedule some time to built me a beautiful one out of metal with his welding skills. Then I want to get a clematis so it will climb on it! 

Again mulch really makes the whole thing look so pretty and complete! 

Here was the one and only garden bed we were happy with when we started. We ended up taking 3 yucca babies from that big guy on the right and he's still huge! We also moved two azaleas to other beds. It was so fun to be in the yard working day after day. We really got to see our hostas growing. At first they were barely shooting out of the ground and by the time we finished the yard they had one set of leaves open and were working on the next. From start to finish from me buying bulb on April 4th to us being completely finished with the yard was less than 3 weeks

Another splurge that I made was buying these super fun colorful Adirondack chairs. They are from Lowe's and they are only $18 each. I love that they are plastic! They can be hosed off and they are light enough for the kids to move them. Plus the added color is just so fun!  

Michael watering all his hard work! 

For next years project we are going to refinish the deck and I'm going to get nice patio furniture. I want one of those pieces that is a sectional and you can have them all together or separate them so it can be a couch and two chairs if you want. I found one at Lowe's that's $600, We also want to get this cool gas fire pit that has fun rocks around the edges so it doubles as a coffee table. 

And just in case you think we have it all together I thought I'd take pictures of what happens when you pay a lot of attention to your yard for days on end and basically let your kids have free rain on the house! 

Living room....I know it's not that bad actually, but they had just picked it up so it was spotless just that morning. 

Barbie covered stairs! 


More Barbie stuff! 

Sink full of dishes! 

Toys on the table and oh so many crumbs under the table. In fact our floors were down right disgusting! It was pointless trying to keep them clean with all that dirt and rock. We were constantly tracking in dirt or dust....even though we tried not too. I just decided that until we were done I wasn't going to freak out about it. The very next day after I took this picture I spent probably over an hour sweeping and mopping my first floor! 

To celebrate the almost completion of the actually took a few more days for us to plant the last of the bulbs...we decided to have our first fire in the fire pit!

Any day that boys can burn sticks is a good day! 

My handsome Jack! 

This boy loves fire!!!

Maximum comfort for this girl...blanket..check...pillow...check...puppy...check! 

Ella's look says it all....Why would you want to burn a stick when you can roast little smokies and eat? She's definitely the eater in our family! 

As for this man.....he worked so hard to make our yards more functional and ascetically pleasing. One of his complaints was that our yard had no color except green...well now it's full of color and only going to be more full once the bulbs come up. I'm so grateful that he is such a hard worker! He is such a wonderful example to our kids and one of my favorite things to do is work right along side him. Isn't that the definition of marriage...working hard right along side each other....through the hard stuff, the beautiful stuff, the easy stuff and the ugly stuff. I wouldn't want to work through life with anyone else! Love you babe! 

And here's some full shots of the front and back yards to get perspective!