Monday, April 27, 2009

Andrea saves the day!

Once again - Andrea saves the day! She came through for us all. good thing she got that new digital camera for Christmas!

She was nice enough to send a bunch of pictures from Ashten's birthday party! Sorry - there aren't any pictures of the squirrels. But if you close your eyes, I'm sure you'll be able to visualize the scene!

There were a bunch of great pictures. Here's just a few...

Ashten the movie star!



Hey look! Cake!



Boy - that cake sure looks good...



C'mon bro - share some of that cake!



Kaitlyn gets paid back!



Presents are the best part...



Uncle Bryon and Aunt Darlene with Kylie!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Birthday parties and first communions - oh my!

First - let me warn you! This is a long post. Hope you are ready to read!

Last weekend, we took a road trip back to Evansville. Ashton (Andrea's youngest) was having a birthday party on Saturday and Kiersten (Jennifer's youngest) was having her first communion on Sunday. And boy - there are some stories to tell!

First of all - the birthday party. It was at a park in Evansville. The weather was great - perfect temperature and a nice little breeze. We were all able to sit around a visit. We could play with the kids (it's amazing how much fun they can have with a swing and a tennis ball). We got to pass around Kylie (she is so TINY!). Lot's of hamburgers and hot dogs. It was one of those spring days that you dream about...

And while we were all sitting underneath a huge tree - two squirrels decided to get a little "frisky" and chase each other up and down the tree. They started barking and pieces of bark were flying everywhere. Then they ran down the trunk of the tree. When they got about 10 feet from the ground (bark still landing in everybody's hair), Darlene and Tracey - who were sitting closest to the tree - screamed and jumped up and got out of the way.

It all sounds like a normal reaction - except for the one detail that I've left out. Sitting next to Tracey (before she ran away) was the baby carrier - and it still had Kylie in it! Needless to say, we teased Tracey the rest of the day (and probably for many more days to come) about her new "motherly instincts"!

Of course, Kylie (and everyone else for that matter) was perfectly safe the entire time. And in Tracey's defense, Kylie had been passed around all day - it was more likely that someone was holding her than it was for her to be in the carrier. That doesn't make the "motherly instinct" jokes any less fun (or funny!).

As for the squirrels - I'm sure they "kissed and made up" just a few minutes later!

It really was a fantastic day and it's so rare that we are all together at the same time like that. Hopefully we'll get to do it again soon!

The next day was Kiersten's first communion. The mass was really pretty (there's something pretty about old Catholic churches anyway). Kiersten was in the traditional white dress with a pretty veil. She got to carry the candle into the church - and even had to stand up at the lectern for a speaking part! She looked like a little angel...

...of course - we all no better! Just ask her brother...

The really cool part about her first communion was that the weekend before had been Darlene's first communion. She got a kick out of her first communion being on the same day as Aunt Darlene's second communion!

So now comes that part about the pictures. We took our camera to Evansville with us. We even left it by the front door so we wouldn't forget it when we went out. But as we were arriving at the park - we realized we forgot it. I know that Andrea took a bunch of pictures. Hopefully she'll send me some!

Then the next day - as we were pulling in to the church parking lot - we realized that we had left the camera right by the front door AGAIN! And I know that a bunch of people were taking pictures at the church (consider this an open solicitation - you can email me whatever you might have!).

And the funniest part about the camera fiasco... Monday night, we were sitting at home watching TV. I looked over at the end table and saw the memory chip for the camera laying there. So even if we would have carried it to our "events", we wouldn't have been able to take pictures anyway!

So my apologies to Kiersten (who has told us that we need more pictures on the blog) - especially if she's read this long post and now realizes that there are no pictures for her to see (tell your mom and nan and pap to send me some!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter!

Another Easter weekend has come and gone. We had some wonderful weather for the weekend. We were a little worried about it after the strong storms that swept through on Friday (and the horrible tornadoes in Murfreesboro), but Saturday and Sunday were beautiful!

And it was a big weekend for us. Darlene got baptized! She's been going to RCIA classes (along with about 10 other "baptism" people and 30 or so "confirmation" people) for 6 months now - and it all reached the climax Saturday night at the conclusion of the Easter Vigil. The ceremony was really beautiful - and we were fortunate to have a couple of family members and a few friends that were able to join us!

That means that we spent Easter weekend in Knoxville for the first time in many years. We usually travel back to Evansville to visit with friends and family there. While it was great spending Easter at home, we really missed seeing all of the nieces and nephews getting all prettied up and hunting for Easter eggs!

The good news is, Andrea sent us some pictures of her kids as well as some pictures of baby Kylie! We hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend!!!!!













Friday, April 10, 2009

Finishing Touches

Today we had one of those "finishing touches" done. It wasn't in the kitchen, but it was related. This time, it was in the living room...

For anyone who has been to our house, you are familiar with the huge brick fireplace chimney in the living room. For anyone who hasn't been to our house, it's floor to ceiling brick - and the ceilings in our living room are 24 feet tall. So it's a fairly dominating structure.

Of course, a fireplace needs a mantle. And a fireplace that large should really have a mantle that's not wimpy. Ours, however, was the most pitiful, pathetic little thing - it would look small on a "normal" fireplace. It looked ridiculous on ours.

But we lived with it. It always seemed that we had other things to do with our money. Priorities, priorities. Not to mention that "substantial" mantels are not exactly cheap!

Early on, when the kitchen project was still in the design phase, we looked at all kinds of trim and crown molding. I just happened to be thinking out loud about how some of the trim pieces would look great on a mantel. That put the designers creative mojo on overdrive. And the next thing you know, we had every piece of trim out on the table designing a mantel!

We picked out the same crown that is used in the kitchen, some den til trim that we have on several pieces of furniture, and the same light/char rail that we used in the kitchen. And today, Joe from Southern Kitchen came over to put it all together. It only took 2 minutes to get the old one off - but it took several hours for Joe to "custom" make the new one and get it hung.

And I have to say - it looks fantastic. It's so much better than the old one! It's much bigger. We can actually put things on it and they don't look like they are getting ready to fall off. It also doesn't lean to the left or tilt forward. It's actually level in all directions!

I took some pictures - but they really don't do it justice. You'll just have to drop by the house and see it for yourself!

The new mantel...




...custom made! Pictures really don't do it justice...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

One more thing...

A couple of days ago, we were giving out some praise to Southern Kitchen and Exact Tile for their help with our kitchen project. There was one additional company - Superior Surfaces - that we forgot to mention!

Superior Surfaces is the company we ordered the counter top from. They were amazingly easy to deal with, and the installers were absolutely meticulous perfectionists. Just as an example, our counter top, which would in no way could be construed as "large" took about 6 hours to install - all because of the attention to detail - not because of the lack of effort! And (perhaps most importantly), they show up EXACTLY when they say they will!

So - if you are looking for a new counter top (of any material!) - and happen to be in the east Tennessee area, give Mike at Superior Surfaces a call. He'll be glad to help!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring has sprung?

I'm not sure about groundhogs. And I know it's been more than 6 weeks since groundhogs day anyway.

And I'm also not sure who decides when the seasons come and go. But it's obviously the wrong people and mother nature was never consulted.

Our daffodils have bloomed. All of our trees have buds. The red buds are out. The dogwoods are blooming. Two days ago it was 80 degrees and everyone was outside enjoying the weather.

Today, we wake up to this...



Not quite a winter wonderland. Really, it's not much more than a dusting. But it's 5 days until Easter!

At any rate - I've got to run. Better give myself "a few extra minutes" and "keep a safe distance" and all of the other winter driving tid-bits the weathermen always seem to give. Besides - it's going to take me a few minutes to dig my winter coat back out...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The kitchen is done (sort of)...

Yea! The kitchen is finished! Or at least the construction is finished. The contractor picked up the last but of trash and tools Friday. Now it's our turn. There are a bunch of boxes all stacked around and they are all full of dishes and forks and glasses and pots and cookie sheets and spices and all of the other things that belong in the kitchen.

Right now - all of that stuff is stacked around in spare bedrooms. And of course, we've got visitors coming for Easter and need those bedrooms back

But for now, we are just sitting around and being thankful that the kitchen is done. Right now, I'm drinking a glass of water AND it has ice! We are living like royalty! Oh - and did I mention that the dishwasher is running? Man - life is sweet!

We ended up addressing all of our primary problems with the old kitchen. The refrigerator doors open up all the way. The vent over the stove actually gets the smoke out (as in "outside") rather than just blowing it around. And you can walk in and out of the kitchen with the back door open - much better than than the door blocking the only entrance into the kitchen!

And we ended up with so much more! Beautiful cabinets - and the layout is amazing. Already we can tell how much more pleasant it is to be in a kitchen that is as functional as it is beautiful. And all of the tanks for that goes to Karen and the folks at Southern Kitchen. If anybody in Knoxville is looking for new cabinets - give her a call. You won't be disappointed! And you can see from the pictures that we also have some beautiful tile. All of the credit for that goes to Marni and her sister at Exact Tile. They spent countless hours with a door sample and a 4 inch piece of counter top coming up with the perfect colors and layout. You have to admire somebody who spent an hour just picking out the right color grout! So if you are looking to put any tile at all anywhere in your house - give Marni a call. She's great!

So - as you all know, the kitchen has been the primary topic (although baby Kylie has started making appearances lately!). Some of you may be curious as to what we will be writing about now. Never fear - we've been saving some things up! Not only that, but we are working on another "project" - stay tuned - we'll have more details about that in a few weeks!

For now - sit back and enjoy the pictures of the new kitchen! That's what we are doing right this second.........



Here's the original kitchen...



...and another look.





Here's the "after" view...


Isn't that better!