Sunday, May 24, 2015

back yard progress | a deck and sweet memories

We've been making some progress on our back patio area. The patio is poured and now we're working on building a small deck, mostly to serve as a way to get from the back doors down to the patio. We've worked on the deck the last couple weekends. 

Here is what we started with last weekend. Patio poured and lumber ready to build a deck:

And a little proof that it's not just Dan that has the carpentry skills:

Last weekend we got the frame of the deck in place and this weekend we worked on the floor of the deck and the stairs.

But I will say I was a little distracted this weekend. All I could do was watch my little babies as I realized they aren't little babies anymore. A lot of the day I found myself just watching my kids...just taking it all in. What they did; what they said; how they interacted with us and each other. I just kept on wanting to take pictures to capture these little moments and these memories as we worked on this deck together. We weren't doing anything super exciting or super fun, but it was special. It was our little family working together and hanging out together and making memories in the ordinary moments.

I mean look at this little man. Tool belt and all. Just like daddy. Helping him carry lumber to the back yard.

With his little butt crack peeking through.

I mean how cute is that little butt crack?!

 Kaiden and daddy just working together. He just wants to be in there helping daddy. I can envision this same picture about 25 years ago with a little Dan and his dad.

And not only was it Kaiden who wanted to be a little helper. Look at this little lady with her little tool belt, ready to get to work.

She was so busy.

Oh these two babies of mine. I just can't get enough. I just love how they play together and laugh with each other. Jada's got that deep down belly-laugh goin' on here:

 And here they're busy building an art project together:

And at the end of the day, not only did we end up with a deck and stairs but a day full of sweet, sweet memories.

Monday, May 11, 2015

no training wheels

I think for any little 5-year-old boy, learning to ride his bike without training wheels is a big deal. It's like a right of passage from toddlerhood to full-blown childhood. Well, folks, Kaiden has officially learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He can roll with the big boys now.

We started with a really old bike. Actually it was Dan's brother's bike from when he was a kid. We scrounged it up from his parent's house. It was pretty old and didn't even have a seat on it. We took a seat from a different bike and added training wheels to it last summer. Last weekend we adjusted the training wheels on it to make them higher and we started off on a really long bike ride. 

It actually didn't start off very good at all. I think Kaiden was a bit uneasy without the security of the training wheels to assist him. They were still on but off the ground a ways to allow him to learn to balance without them but catch him if he did lose his balance. I think he was a bit scared and a bit frustrated. There were some tears but Dan forced him to push through it. It was a really long bike ride and he did end up running into some things along the way (including a lady jogging). But we made it home without any major injuries.

The next day we went for another bike ride and he did so much better. He was riding with the training wheels but he wasn't even using them. They were actually getting in the way more than they were helping. Also, since the bike he was using was super old it was really loose and kind of a little harder to ride and because the seat wasn't really the original seat, it was tilted up and Kaiden was getting caught on the seat.

Very serious. Very focused. Riding the old bike with the training wheels but not using them.

Jada learning to ride a tricycle. She kept wanting to pedal backwards.

Since Kaiden had done so well not using the training wheels that were on the old bike, we decided it was time to try the bike without training wheels. We grabbed another bike that we had which was sturdier than the other one and the seat was straight and proved to be a much easier ride for Kaiden.

Now I realize this is a girls bike. (I got it for free from a friend for Jada someday but just happened to work out pretty slick for Kaiden right about now.) And for the time being, it doesn't seem to bother Kaiden so we're going to try to get by this summer with this one and next year buy a bike that's a size bigger (and looks like it's for a boy).

He's so happy to be riding without training wheels, he doesn't mind it's a girl's bike.
 Finally, Dan couldn't take it anymore just sitting and watching. He had to join in the fun too.

This is why that bike is a piece. I hear Dan and his brother rode this bike when they were way to big to be riding it.

My three kids on their bikes:

And now all Kaiden wants to do is ride his bike.

Friday, May 8, 2015

concrete hand prints

When I was a kid, I remember seeing my friends' handprints stamped in concrete on their driveway or sidewalk or wherever and as a young child I thought that was so cool. I wanted to leave my handprint in some concrete too. I even recall sitting on the back step of my house trying to make a handprint on the step. I tried pressing my hand down as hard as I could; I tried holding my hand in place for several minutes, thinking maybe it just takes time; I tried using water, thinking somehow that would make an imprint. I remember my cousin, Rob, asking me what I was doing and when I told him what I was up to, he broke the news to me: you can't make a handprint on already-dried concrete. (Apparently I was old enough to remember this but not old enough to know how concrete worked.)

I never had an opportunity to make a handprint in concrete as a kid but now as an adult, I finally got my chance. And while it's less thrilling to me now as an adult, I figured maybe my children would think it was pretty cool to make a handprint in some concrete.

We had some leftover concrete from when we poured our patio and concrete slab for our shed. Some small forms were quickly made and concrete poured to create two small slabs to go outside the two doors of the utility shed.

And I finally got my chance to leave my handprint in some concrete

and my children got their chance too

Friday, May 1, 2015

back yard progress | a concrete patio

Last week Dan decided that last Saturday would be a good day to pour our concrete patio and pad for our utility shed. The weather was forecasted to be a little cool and overcast with little chance of rain. Perfect for pouring concrete. Apparently the slower it dries the lesser chance it has to crack. So Dan lined up a cement truck and a pumper truck for the big day. He also lined up some guys to help, including his dad, brother, uncle and our neighbor who has had experience with pouring concrete for a summer, which was a great help.
I'm pretty sure Dan lost sleep the night before with his mind anxious for the job. 
The pumper truck arrived bright and early at 7:20 Saturday morning with the first concrete truck arriving shortly after. It was quite a sight and quite the excitement as we all quickly finished the preparations for the concrete to be poured.

rebar in place

pumper truck preparing to extend over our house

pumper truck extended over our house

concrete being pumped into the form as the other guys moved it around to level it out

power screed used to agitate and smooth out the concrete
We started pouring the concrete at 7:30 and by 8:30 the concrete was poured and smoothed with the screed. The concrete was then smoothed with a trowel and throughout the day Dan used a bull float to continue smoothing it and working the aggregate in the concrete to the bottom, while bringing the smoother, creamier part of the concrete to the top.

going over the patio with a bull float

And while at this point it seemed like the day should only be getting easier, things began to not go so well. The first truck-load of concrete was extremely wet. So much so that Dan called the concrete company to have them come out and take a look at it. However, there was no one in the office on Saturday morning. He continued to work with it, knowing it wasn't normal. It was so wet that almost 12 hours later it was still too wet to put a textured finish on it. (not normal). Finally Saturday night it appeared to be ready for the final broom texture finish. At this point it should be dry enough to hold the texture that is applied, but still wet enough to be able to apply a texture. 
The whole patio ended up drying at varying rates and part of the patio was now too dry to add any texture to it, while other parts of the patio where still too wet to hold a texture. What ensued after this realization I will not go into, but we'll just say it was not a good night and Dan ended up losing another night of sleep over the sickening feeling that we just put a decent amount of money toward a patio that did not turn out as expected.
Now, we realize there are worse things that could happen than uneven, random texture and discoloration on a newly poured patio. And once we had time to process everything and calm down we came to that realization. It will be fine. Most people probably won't even notice. It just made for a bad night.
Someone from the concrete company did end up coming out Monday to check out Dan's complaint of the concrete being too wet. He, too, could see the problem that was created by a bad consistency of concrete and he did end up giving us a small discount.