Saturday, April 27, 2013

Remembering the Phone Call

4 years ago today we got a phone call from our social worker about a 17 month old named Chen Fu Shen.  I knew before she even finished talking that THIS was our daughter.  That was one of the best days ever.  And Rachel Fu Shen has brought us so much joy and laughter.  Happy Referral Day, Rachel!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Big Girl Bed (Finally!!)

When we brought Rachel home, she slept in a crib.  Less than a month later she started climbing out (and falling), so we converted the crib to a toddler bed.  It was just the right size and easy for her to get in and out of (which she did, dozens of times a night).  She grew and grew, but the toddler bed stayed.  Katherine moved to a regular bed just before her 3rd birthday.  Rachel did not.  She stayed in the toddler bed.  We were ridiculously unmotivated to buy her a real bed.  I bought a quilt for a big bed almost two years ago, which has set neatly folded in a corner ever since.  But this spring, when we finally admitted that our soon-to-be-kindergartener was still sleeping on a crib mattress, we decided it was time to convert the toddler bed into a full-sized bed.  Soon!

The bed rails, mattess, and box springs arrived today.  Rachel was beside herself with excitement and insisted on helping assemble the bed.
She spent the whole evening crowing about her big girl bed.  She even invited Katherine to sleep with her (an idea that was vetoed by the adults in the house).  And when bedtime finally rolled around, she was one happy girl!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bathroom Re-do #3

And now for the final, and most impressive, bathroom transformation!

We had a bathroom/laundry room in our basement.  It was, um, interesting.
It was dark and dingy and had some serious design flaws.  There were random exposed pipes. Oh, and that carpet was something special.
For reasons unknown, the toilet was sort of out in the middle of the room.  And you had to sit sideways to avoid banging your knees on the vanity.
And the shower? Well, it was scary!  The metal base was rusting through (who makes a shower out of metal?).  It was impossible to clean.  It was dark.  And it was so small your elbows stuck out the curtain.  This was a shower we only used when we were desperate.
The space between the washer and the shower was so narrow we couldn't set a laundry basket down and there was no space to sort or fold laundry.

I think it is safe to say that this room was the Pit of the house.

The plans for the new bathroom included moving a wall (and taking up a slice of the huge bedroom next door) and cutting through the concrete floor to re-plumb everything.  We knew this was major work and would be incredibly messy, but we were still stunned the day we came home to this...
It was interesting to see the steps in the rennovation process in this room.  It had to be re-wired and re-plumbed, the new walls and door built, the new shower built, and the washer and drier moved before anyone could think of tile and paint and light fixtures.  I was amused the day I came home and found this.
I have no idea why the plumbers needed such an enormous "elbow" collection!  I was not amused the day I found my kitchen rearranged to fit in the tile cutter.
The work took forever, but it was SO worth it!  Look at our bathroom/laundry room now!
The toilet is on the wall, not in the middle of the room, and it is impossible to bang your knees on anything!
There are cupboards to store supplies and counters to fold laundry on!  Not to mention plenty of floor space for laundry sorting!
And the shower?  Oh my goodness, the shower!
It's huge and clean and gorgeous!  We were amazed by the tile guy who worked in our house.  Check out the detail in the shower.
Steve chose the "theme" for this bathroom.  I must say, the Peanuts touches are pretty cute!
Every time I walk into this room I think "I can't believe this is my house!"  The transformation of this room is nothing short of amazing.  Wow!  The dreaded Pit is now my favorite room in the whole house.  This room makes me happy!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bathroom Re-do #2

This was our hall bathroom, the main bathroom in the house.  It was functional, but dated and bland.  Oh, and the plastic tub surround was pulling loose from the wall and threatening to come crashing down.
This is the bathroom we use.  Constantly.  And the whole wall-in-danger-of-falling-down aspect made rennovation a necessity.  Still, it was a bit shocking to see the room look like this.
We saved only one item from this bathroom - the tub.  It was old, but in good condition and they don't make new tubs this sturdy.  The new bathroom is wonderful!
I love, love, LOVE the new tile, especially the tiny accent tiles!  And this shower wall is not going to fall off!
The builder even enlarged our tiny built in medicince cabinet.
When I stand in the new bathroom, it seems somehow bigger, though I know it isn't.  I'm not sure if it's the tile or the paint color or the giant mirror, but it really seems to be a bigger space. 
The tile guy came to set and grout the last 5 missing tiles today, so the bathroom project is officially done!  It only took 12 weeks... 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bathroom Re-do #1

We are still waiting on the last tiny details of the massive bathroom rennovation project to be finished (this is the 12th week of construction!), but the bathrooms are largely functional.  And they look beautiful!  So here's the before and after of Bathroom #1, a tiny half-bath off the master bedroom.
Here is our bathroom before.  It was kind of cute and needed the least amount of work.  (The walls have been a work in progress.  After last summer's insulation project, we peeled the wallpaper off one wall and patched the insulation installation holes and then just kind of left it.)  Really the only thing nasty about the room (other than the sick pea green color that was under the wallpaper) was this faucet.  I was so happy to see that faucet go!
For such a small, small space the demolition chaos was pretty impressive.
And now for the after shots.  Ta-da!
We kept the same sink and cabinet and installed new flooring, toilet, mirror, lighting, paint, and trim.  I am so glad that I was brave enough to try bold color, because it looks great!
Okay, it's really hard to get decent pictures in a space so small you can easily touch all four walls.  You'll just have to take my word that this little bathroom is adorable!

More bathroom pictures to come later!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prairie Music

After yet another cold and dreary week, we were thrilled to see sunshine and some warmer weather this weekend.  Tonight, the girls and I drove out to spend the evening at Symphony on the Prairie and the weather was perfect!

There was live music all afternoon, ending with performances by the youth symphony and the area symphony, all played in the open air.  Lovely!
We sat with assorted friends from church and the kids had a good time socializing.  Katherine had fun practicing her babysitting skills with the younger kids.
But the girls favorite part of the evening by far was when we went out and roamed the prairie.
The kids had a grand time running wild.
They were quite fascinated with the prickly pear cactus that dotted the pasture and eagerly examined each one they found.
And there was a pond with a good supply of sticks handy.  There's nothing more entertaining to kids than throwing sticks in the water!
It was just a beautiful evening with my sunshine girls.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Kitties

One of the best parts of living with my parents for 10 weeks was getting to spend time with their kitties.  We always had cats growing up and I always loved their endearing aloofness mixed with insistent affection.  Steve, however, hates cats so having a kitty for a pet now is not an option.  (Not that Rachel hasn't lobbied for one on many occasions!)

My parents have two black and white kitties, Botas and Bonita.  They acquired these cats years ago, when they lived in New Mexico (which is why the cats have Spanish names - Botas means "boots" and Bonita means "beautiful"). 

Botas is the lazy lover cat.  She spends nearly all her time sleeping.
She is laid back and nearly always calm.
She loves to be held and petted.  She even tolerates Rachel's rather intense affection.  (At least most of the time.)
And she loves to snuggle close.  Really close.  Preferrably right in your face!
Bonita is a totally different creature.  She is opinionated and aloof and very vocal.  She is the ultimate Boss Cat and is certain that she rules the house.  And maybe the world.
See that superior look in her eye?  It's always there.  She is the Queen and the knows it!
During our stay in her domain, Bonita decided that I had the best lap.  She demanded that I sit down (preferably in her favorite spot in her favorite chair) and arrange my legs into the position most comfortable for her and stay that way as long as she wanted.  She would follow me around and yowl until I met her demands.  I adored her demanding crankiness and let her boss me around more than I should have.  She makes me laugh...
Rachel was forever chasing Bonita around, trying to love on her.  Bonita eluded her as much as possible.  (Smart cat!)  The afternoon Bonita finally tolerated her admirer's affection was the highlight of Rae's week!
It has been wonderful to be back home, but I miss the kitties.  My lap is bare (and cold) every evening and there is no cat following me around telling me what to do.  I'm going to have to visit my parents so I can have some kitty time!

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way