Summer Vacay thus far

We’ve been super busy thus far this summer!

We’ve attended two weddings:

The Sobey Wedding: (side note: I cried when the groom also presented rings to the bride’s two little girls, symbolizing how he was becoming their father).

Sobey Wedding 5

All of their kids below them

Sobey Wedding 1 Sobey Wedding 3 Sobey Wedding 4


The Brooks Wedding:

Brooks Wedding 4

The only photo of the couple that I could steal from Facebook, since they are still not letting any wedding pictures be posted!

Brooks Wedding 1

With my high school friend Stephanie and her two month old baby! BABY FEVER, I tell you!

Brooks Wedding 2

Me with my boss

Brooks Wedding 3

Gregory flat out refused to dance with me, and instead bopped to the beat by himself in a corner



We had my niece Rachel’s Graduation Party:

Rachels Grad Party 1

3 legged race!

Rachel's Grad Party 2

As you can see, Jesse and I were WAYYY behind everyone else. Next to us is my brother in law David and my (future?) sister in law, Emily!

Rachel's Grad Party 3

AJ was too pooped to party and fell asleep on Aunt Janelle’s lap



Last but not least, we’ve been to the beach twice and plan on going again this Friday!

School Beach Day 2

At Pismo Beach with our school

Avila Beach Day 2

At Avila Beach last week with just our lil fam


Avila Beach Day 1

Right here, you see the difference between my children. Gregory is screaming with joy, and Anthony is howling in terror.

Avila Beach Day 3

Due to Anthony’s fear of the waves, he and I spent most of the time watching from a safe distance, eating sand

Avila Beach Day 4

Gregory definitely got knocked around by a few waves

Avila Beach Day 5

Dadda and Gregory playing catch


We have many more summer trips planned, including *a trip to LA (next week), * a trip to Sacramento/San Francisco (the following week), * another trip to LA when the Unruhs are in town, * a family trip to north Seattle (possibly), and a * trip out to TX (possibly). Oh, and Big Sur camping! Can’t forget that!

The Bartels

I’m just now getting caught up on my “meant-to-post-that!” list. Included somewhere in there is Anthony’s 12 month letter. You know, now that he’s 14.5 months.

Last week was what I’ll title the “Bartel Week” of summer.

Sunday, we met them at church. It was a bit distracting for me, personally, because I really forgot all about Jesus once adorable Gwen got there.

Look at this sweet ball of adorableness!

Look at this sweet ball of adorableness!


I neeeeeed a baby girl someday, people….however, Anthony has some definite jealousy going on in that department. The moment I held Gwen, he flipped a biscuit and wouldn’t stop howling until I held him again. He was soooo clingy after that, I’m shocked and surprised he let Godfather Tim take him up for communion! And he definitely gave Gwen the stink eye for quite some time….

Bartels:Cones group shot

On Monday, we had the older and the younger Bartels over for a BBQ. Sadly, I was too busy learning that we had NO napkins or paper towels to accompany our steaks to take any pictures.

Then, on Thursday, the boys went to see Superman, while Hope and I spent a quiet morning/afternoon together with the babies. 7 hours hanging out? Yes please!

Anthony came over to investigate this baby who tried to steal his Mommy and was now playing with his toys

Anthony came over to investigate this baby who tried to steal his Mommy and was now playing with his toys

Ah, I love how social my kids are. So warm and welcoming. See the hitting?

Ah, I love how social my kids are. So warm and welcoming. See the hitting?

"Seriously, mom, who is this?"

“Seriously, mom, who is this?”

Gwen pulled up and stood for the first time! After this, she kept pulling the huge wooden cube down on herself. The girl's got muscles!

Gwen pulled up and stood for the first time! After this, she kept pulling the huge wooden cube down on herself. The girl’s got muscles!

The offspring photo op!

The offspring photo op!


Even though they had to leave the next morning to back down south, we will be seeing them in just another week and a half! Yay for 3 whole months of summer vacation!!!


New Laundry Room

When we moved in to our new house 4 months ago (4 months, can you believe it?), we knew that we would eventually enclose the carport and either make a giant family room, or a laundry room and a bedroom. We chose the latter, mainly because it worked perfectly for what we need (aka, we need a 4th bedroom so that the boys can have a bigger space eventually, and a mudroom/laundry room for all of our dirty stuff? nice!…).

For frame of reference, the area I am talking about is right beyond this door in the kitchen:

Valle Kitchen After

Before we moved in, here was the view from this door:

Valle 10

Here is the view from the outside looking in:

Valle 8

The door to the left goes to the kitchen, for reference. The door in the middle goes to our backyard.

AFTER we moved in, it became even worse, filled with moving boxes galore. We couldn’t hardly move around in there, much less park a car. A few weeks ago, we officially hired a friend who works as a contractor. He began work on “THE WALL”– aka, our new laundry room!



DAY 2 (or 3?)

DAY 2 (or 3?)

It was somewhere around this time that the Bartels came over, and, in the usual manner of wives who are about to have company over, I convinced Jesse to put in a couple good hours to stack/throw away boxes. And we got this!

It fits!

It fits!

Behind the car, you can just barely see THE WALL. We will soon be moving the door from the kitchen to this spot in front of the car.

The mudding has finally been done over the drywall, and we now have this!!!

Laundry Room During 2 Laundry Room During 1

Do not be fooled by the junky appearance! It will go from caterpillar to butterfly, I promise. Here are some of my favorite inspiration pictures:

Laundry Room Inspiration 5

We have this Expedit unit from Ikea, along with a fitted seat pad, so we will probably use it in this capacity somehow.

Laundry Room Inspiration 4

Above the Expedit, I want to construct something like this. DROOL….

Laundry Room Inspiration 3

This picture is my ultimate color inspiration.

Laundry Room Inspiration 2

We are going to make something like this on the direct opposite wall from the washing machine. Organization Heaven!!

Laundry Room Inspiration 1

Also dreaming about this. We have a cupboard like this one, sitting outside unpainted in the garage, so it would basically cost us nothing!

That’s it for now! More updates when we have something to show!

20 days!

What a difference just 20 days makes in a garden!

Remember this?

Valle garden beds June

Look now!

Garden June 2 Garden June 1



I mentioned in my last post that we finally tackled the staining of our deck. This project has been weighing on our minds for months, as the original deck wood was not protected. We were warned to stain/seal it before it got too hot.

Unfortunately, the warm weather coincided with the end of the school year, when we are always super busy. But we promised ourselves that we would tackle it the second school was done.

It took us (and, by us, I mean 75% Jesse) two mornings to get this done. The hardest part was the prep work. We had to use butter knives to scrape ever single crevice! On a deck of this size…let’s just say it was not something I’m dying to do again.

Deck Before 2

So much deck…

Deck Before 3

We used a paint sprayer and it worked really well!

Deck Before 1

SUCH a difference!

But the results were worth it! We just moved our furniture back up on the deck tonight and got to enjoy a few last minutes of daylight as the sun set.

Deck and yard with people

Decks are always better with family members

Deck Furniture Adirondack chairs

I made an extra pillow for the adirondack chairs

Deck Furniture After

My $30 table and chairs that came with peeling paint and UGLY fabric. I love how they turned out!

Deck Furniture Upholstered

Upholstered patio furniture

Patio Furniture Slipcovers

You may remember this $20 wicker patio set I picked up at the thrift store a few months ago:

Garage Sale Deals 11

I believe that I also mentioned they came with super ugly floral chair cushions (let us never speak of these again).

Patio Slipcover before

Back in April, I bought some outdoor fabric that I absolutely love. Yesterday, in between piano lessons, I finally had the opportunity to sew up some fitted slipcovers/pillow covers for these guys! (note: you’ll have to excuse the placement of the furniture on our lawn. We’re FINALLY staining our deck today, so everything is out of place).

Patio Slipcover bench

Patio Slipcover chair and pillow

If you could see how lovely and cheery it is in person, you’d just die. It’s that awesome. I picked this fabric because the blue, yellow and mocha brown match other things on the patio (not to mention our blue house).

Next up (later…) I have to tackle the upholstery on our outdoor dining chairs (you can see two of the khaki corners in the picture above).

8th Grade Graduation

This last Friday night, my favorite class ever, the 8th graders, graduated from NCCS. Some of them are transferring to a high school where they can play football, so this class will never be the same as it was this last year. Makes me pretty sad.

I was so honored to be unanimously chosen as their key-note speaker! Although I was SUPER nervous ahead of time, I actually had a blast while I was up there speaking. It’s the first time in my LIFE that all of my nervousness actually went away the moment I was up in front of everyone. My speech was exactly 10 minutes long.

A group shot with all 10 of them!

A group shot with all 10 of them!

With the twins

With the twins

Even though it was a great experience, I’m so glad it’s over and I can relax. Summer is finally here!!!

Love Affair

I might have had a minor obsession with handstands my whole life…









Kinda ridiculous, if you ask me.

Our Big Backyard

The title of this post is misleading. We don’t really HAVE a backyard– just a half acre of large front and side yards! There is so much to do, as there was almost NOTHING here when we arrived.

I sculpted the garden beds near the garage and front walkway a while ago. They’re still doing quite well, although I need to buy another $5 bag of bark.

Valle side bushes 1

An astute observer will note that the sunflowers are quite gone– there wasn’t quite enough SUN for them to flower. We have a lot of shade on this side of the house, which is actually quite advantageous, since we haven’t needed our a/c even ONCE so far! Even when it’s 105 outside (we had one or two days in May), the downstairs is so chilly that you almost need a sweater!

On this same side of the house, we have a few hillsides. These have been quite a chore, and the work isn’t even halfway done. The soil is pretty tough and rocky, so putting in these privacy bushes (drought resistant, since we don’t have sprinklers) made me so sore that I couldn’t move for a few days!

For reference, the sculpted beds I made are up where that basketball hoop is. You know, just in case you are feeling super-stalkerish and trying to picture the layout of our yard.

Valle hillside 2

I only added 5 here to see how they’d do. I’m hoping to add about 10 more, extending to the left where we have a set of wooden stairs. But at $5/each, this is a project that will wait for later!

Here is a picture of even MORE hillside as you come up our driveway. Our MESSY garage (makeover coming sometime next week!) is up on the right. Our plan  for this area is to plant more vinca groundcover. There’s tons of it to the left, the deer hate it, and I think it’s pretty! A shipment is arriving any day now. It MIGHT be enough to cover this area. We’ll see. Fingers crossed. Also, the kids toys are getting moved to the other side of the house. In case you wondered. Eventually, this side will be a stone garden of sorts, with a trellis and fountain! I’m calling it the “Adult Yard”.

Valle hillside 1

Down below these hillsides is our second driveway, where guests park. We triple parked around 10 cars here when I had my piano recital! You can also see the first set of deck stairs I was talking about.

Valle driveway
While I was taking these pictures, a lone deer (usually we see them in herds of 3-6) darted right past me and onto the neighbor’s driveway. I’m not kidding when I say that we have a HUGE deer problem over here!
Valle driveway deer
Now we move on to the crazier side of the house. This entire side will be fenced in, eventually. In other words, we’ve bought the fencing and posts, we’re just waiting for the school year to end so we can put it up! We are hoping to make this lawn thicker for the boys to play on. I’m also trying to score more play equipment, but Craigslist as has not been kind to me in this regard.
Valle Kid Side of yard

To the left of the steps as you enter this part of the yard is a barren ugly hillside, with our second set of deck stairs coming up from the guest driveway. My plan, once the fence is up, is to build a retaining wall here and make a flower bed out of it. My plant selection is limited, however, because this is RIGHT where the deer love to hang out!

Valle hillside 3

As you walk down the path, I planted some lavender to the right, up next to the house. There were massive weeds here prior, so I’d say this is an improvement!

Valle side yard lavender

We also found some previously planted mint here! It smells amazing and we’ve already made a few batches of tea from it.

Valle side bed mint

This side of the house I’m calling the “Kid Yard”, even though I have my garden beds here. Now that we’ve had to deer proof them, I think they’re safe from the kids as well.

Speaking of garden beds, we’ve had a bit of a saga concerning these.

Round 1: Originally, I had grown a bunch of seedlings on my window sill. Once Jesse had the deer netting up on the first bed, I planted them all. Sadly, the deer laughed at our little attempt, tore down the deer netting, and ate EVERYTHING. They even left a hoof print in the middle of the bed for me to find, as though they were signing their name to the destruction!

I had also seeded the second bed that didn’t have deer netting yet, and they dug through that too! I figured all was lost. Or so I thought….

Round 2: Jesse and Norm came back with a second idea– two more sets of PVC pipe, and chicken wire with a little door on side so that I can access things. It’s worked beautifully for the past month.

Valle garden beds June

The catch? It’s too expensive to buy 10-15 new plants already grown, so I seeded things…again. Will they be big enough for harvest this year since I’m getting such a late start? Who knows.

And apparently some of the seeds from the last round survived! So now I have NO IDEA what’s growing where, and multiple things sprouting in tight bunches. I probably won’t know what things are until they have fruit!

Valle garden beds June 2

Next up, we have the blank field/yard to the right of the garden beds. This will eventually be our chicken coop/run. Or a playground. Or a chicken playground. Who knows.

Valle chicken coop area

Well, now you know what we’ve been up to for the past couple months! There’s so much to do,  it’s a bit daunting at times. But it’s also amazing and wonderful. Having so many projects to do is fun and brings a bit of hope to each day. How can we make our house even better? I get to ask. It’s such a fun change from renting, where my first concern was always about how to get what I want without it being too permanent. It’s also nice to know we have a return investment waiting for us after all this hard work!
And, in case you wanted to see something super-daunting…I only showed you HALF of our yard. We have NO CLUE what to do with this bottom 1/4 acre….anyone want to build a 2nd house? Or should we get some goats?
Valle front hill