Sunday, November 1, 2009

October 09

Ah October, a beautiful time in New England. This month, we started on the home renovation project, got more baby shots and graduated Sox from Intermediate puppy school!

As for the renovations, Mike is going huge and really tapping into his inner contractor with 2 room redos - neither is a nursery! We're updating our formal living room with new paint, floors and a more open floor plan. The family room is also getting redone, with a new doorway, new walls and floors. Mike is building a set of stairs connecting the two rooms, which required literally cutting a hole in the wall. Before the hole could be cut, the wiring had to be moved...but he needed to figure out where it was going first!Once the wiring was moved, Mike could cut the hole. Doing so also required a hole in the ceiling because the rooms are at different levels in the house. Surprisingly, this hole and ceiling part only took a day or two! There's still plenty of space left for the existing skylights to let the light pour in.

The view from the other room down into the family room.

As I'm updating the blog, Mike is now taking down the unfortunate popcorn ceiling in the green room. The walls are skimmed, just in need of sanding, priming and paint. The green will remain similar on top, but below the chair rail, we're going with a darker green. The colors are picked, but just in trial colors to make sure. We should have after shots by the end of November!

Mid October, we got our first shot of the bean that actually looks like a baby! I had some integrated screening tests that all came back negative, meaning there is a very low chance that our little one has any chromosomal abnormalities, spina bifida, etc. S/he measured at exactly 13 weeks, on the day I was 13 weeks. Mike said the baby was just like his mom. :)

One of the most amazing shots was a close up of the hand - it was a bit of a wave...or a high five!

And finally, Sox graduated from Intermediate puppy school. Since I've been pregnant, his behavior has been a bit more protective - and somewhat aggressive. He even got testy with some of his classmates. He did end up doing enough to pass, learning to heal, come and a few tricks like spin around and roll over. He enjoyed a graduation treat of doggie ice cream and then reluctantly donned graduation duds for a photo op.

I think he was actually eyeing another dog's ice cream dish that still had some leftovers. :)

Lastly, as it was Halloween this weekend, Mike and I carved our pumpkins on Friday night. Mike took a break from scraping the ceiling (that's joint compound in his hair...he's not that grey!) Sox watched dutifully, as he is a *huge* fan of pumpkin! This year we hardly had any trash...I separated the seeds for roasting, and puree'd the rest of the innerds for Sox! He absolutely loves it...and it makes a good addition to his morning foodies. The pumpkins came out good, and we even got some compliments from the neighborhood!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September 09

In September, Mike and I got some of the best news! Our dream of a family is becoming a reality! We got the first shot of our little bean at 9 weeks and saw the heart beating and the little arms kindof huggin itself. It was so surreal!

That weekend, Mike and I made a trip to Bloomington, IN for a visit to IU! Mike's first trip to Hoosierland couldn't have been better - the weather for September was unreal...80 degrees, sunshine - it was like summer! The football game was at noon and when we woke up at the student union (where we stayed) we smelled charcoal and maple syrup...people must have been cooking breakfast for their tailgates! Not a bad idea since the game was at noon. Mike and I dressed the traditional IU red and khaki! We were meeting up with some of my girlfriends from college and we enjoyed the next day just touring around campus. Mike was a great sport taking many photos of the four of us. It was very different being at IU without partaking in an adult beverage - but it was easier b/c half of us girls were preggo! Jen is due just a few weeks before me. I'll have to bring Mike back when we can really take in the college experience. Nick's just wasn't the same...although there were plenty of folks giving us a show of what it's NORMALLY like there! Once we got back to MA, we finished the month with some beautiful shots in the dog park. What would a blog post be without a Sox Shots? :) It was a great sunset, and the leaves were just starting to change color. I'm a big fan of the last shot in which I was able to capture the moonrise as well.

October updates coming soon!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

what we've been up to...

I almost forgot that we even *had* a blog, and for those of you (few) who check it, apologies for the out-of-touch-ness! Here's a glance at our past (gulp) 6 months since the last post:

March was a tough month that saw the passing of dear Grammy Esther. She died peacefully on March 6 and we had a lovely memorial service a few weeks later. It was an emotional time, complicated by the failing health of my grandfather at the same time (luckily he's doing better!).

April was - well a long time ago and who really remembers what happened then? LOL! At some point this spring, Mike single handedly replaced our holey garage door (which was a project)! Lining everything up, getting it level - he really is a handy guy. I'm very lucky! We washed patio furniture, set up the deck and pruned, cut down and generally cleared lots of excess overgrowth from the yard. We had a few good burn days, but not enough. The burn pile is ready again for the winter/spring when the town allows us to burn again.

May - warmed up, saw my tulips in bloom - which was somewhat of a miracle since they came from the Christmas Tree Shop! Big news this month was the purchase of a hammock stand that was well used for the duration of the spring/summer season. It has a perfect home under our magnolia tree on the patio. I tried to do some more pruning of the bushes in our yard and instead was infected with a severe case of poison ivy all over my arms - swelling, puss, it was oh-so-attractive. Mike, who is less - if at all - affected by the stuff, became my hero and pulled it all up/out and disposed of it. Hopefully we got it all, and the poison we put down will kill the rest. So far, I think we may have done it.

June - to start the month, we celebrated my birthday by inviting the neighbors over for cocktails and cupcakes - a big hit! We got people together who hadn't really been together before - very fun! On the 23rd was our second anniversary! It rained most of the month in MA, and we were able to get away for what we called "Anniversication" to Riviera Maya, Mexico for a week's worth of sun, relaxation and 100% chance of hammock. We enjoyed couples massage on the beach as a present to each other, along with long walks, tropical drinks and some adventures to the ruins and reefs. It was the perfect getaway and a restful and relaxing adventure.

July - Sox and I got into a routine of hiking/swimming at the local state park after work. He did most of the swimming, but I did wade in at times. Around the house, we planned our next big project - installation of hardwood floors in our living room and a new set of stairs connecting it to the family room. The project is still in planning mode, but we're getting closer to starting demo (I think!). Finished spreading the (unbelievable) 5 yards of mulch that came in May and didn't get spread in June because of the crummy weather. I think it makes for a much more tailored landscape. Got to the Cape a few times to visit Mom and the gang which is always nice. Also enjoyed an anniversary celebration with some family friends. With the Cash for Clunkers program, Mike was working his tail off - with good results - and almost doubled his previous record for monthly sales. The down side was the lack of home/rest time he had that month.

August - We have clearly settled in to suburbia and enjoy leisurely days and short adventures. I hosted a Student Send-off for the local kids attending IU - that's always a good time. I enjoy almost monthly gatherings with the other ladies on our street, which is very fun and keeps us connected. Mike built a rock wall around our patio to contain the excess mulch using rocks found in our backyard. Very authentic and creates a nice barrier for the now flourishing new grass. We said goodbye to my parents who left the Cape for the season and headed back to Indiana. With Mike's tremendous connections, we were able to cash in on a new-to-us Subaru Tribeca while trading in my old explorer. I love my new Subie and we got a great deal on it. :)

Not a ton of photos available, however, that can change now that I feel I'm caught up. More news posted soon!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Winter playtime

It's March already?!
Sox and I enjoyed some time in the yard today before the big snowstorm. We played tug with a stick and a little fetch, when it suited him. I have been inspired by pictures and videos of my friends' new pup, Asha, in South Africa so I needed to show off Sox's skills too. Unfortunately, I've hit technical difficulty as my video is too big, so I'm off to do some editing. See an update later this week!

Into the closet

With organizing being hot on my list, Mike and I finally realized our vision of a working laundry room closet!

I love that Mike put in a light, switch and plugs so that it can truly be a workspace! The extra counter space is a blessing, and has been perfect for the breadmaker, kitchen aid mixer and also as a laundry folding space! Underneath, we found some industrial shelving, and Mike lucked into a rolling kitchen cart on clearance that fits perfectly underneath. The nicest part about the cart is that we can roll it out to be an island if we have company!

Truly, the extra space has been so helpful for cleaning up the kitchen clutter. I don't think I've ever been so happy about going into a closet before!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My funny Valentine

Valentine's weekend was bittersweet. Mike and I had a lovely day at home together (before and after he worked that day) enjoying a morning scavenger hunt and a delicious dinner c/o a Bon Appetite recipe for marinated lamb with garlic golden taters and my favorite - yellow heart cakes with lemon raspberry filling. All homemade!

That day, however, I found out that my Grammy was failing. She wasn't eating, which was extremely rare, and having trouble breathing. At 98, she was holding her own, but my visit to her the next day was encouraging. We had a wonderful visit, talking for over an hour and even singing together. Since it was Sunday, she sang a hymn, "Morning has broken" and got through two verses on her own. This made her thirsty, which was great, because she had been dehydrated. She was able to drink some, and I left her in good spirits. It's hard to watch someone with such a strong spirit be betrayed by her body.

All in all, Valentine's weekend was filled with love, which is all one could ask for!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sox...a writer?

I arrived home recently to find Sox greeting me with blue paws! Turns out a blue pen was left on the coffee table and he got the munchies while we were at work! Luckily a walk in the snow cleared it quickly. The mark on the carpet, however, did not go away so easily...

I wish it was something more profound he had written. Just looked like a bunch of scribbles to us!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

O Deer!

Its been a while since my last post - mostly b/c not a lot is going on! With no school, I have been spending my free time really cleaning and organizing the house. Whoopee-doo!
The Christmas decorations are all down and put away, the office is organized and the papers are filed. The kids room is cleaned out and I finally felt ready to rid myself of all the swimming ribbons, trophys and medels I received over the years. It's amazing how many 6th and 7th place ribbons I kept. :)

Over MLK weekend, we had another snowstorm, and this time we actually saw deer in the yard! We often see their tracks, and Sox likes to bark to show them it's his terratory, but rarely to they come so close to the house! We got some good photos of them exploring the bushes.
Later that day, Sox and I went out to play in the snow. He was adorable, especially since the snow was all the way up to his belly. He liked to chase snowballs, but had a hard time "retrieving" them. He would just bury his face where it landed and then look up, confused as to where it went! Silly puppy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

USVI Christmas

Dec 24-27 we traveled to St Thomas USVI. From Dec 27 to Jan 3, we traveled all around the British Virgin Islands with my parents, brother and his girlfriend, Holly. Jan 4 we spent Mike's birthday alone together at a beautiful resort on Tortola.

There was so much to see and so many beautiful shots, it's going to take a while to get them all up on the blog. Please be patient as I work to get things in order! Look for more posts further down - I'm working to tell the story in order, so I'm backdating new posts to keep the week straight.
Enjoy our sights and stories from the Caribbean!
Christmas 2008 was very special. On Christmas Eve, Mike and I spent the day traveling to St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. It was a long day, including flight cancellations, rerouting, lost luggage and a random taxi drive in the middle of it all. We arrived at our condo around 11:30 pm; we didn't see Santa in the sky with us as we flew from Florida (and we were watching for him!) and we quickly fell asleep in case he was nearby.

On Christmas morning, we woke up in a warm, tropical the sound of roosters and chickens. Not an ideal wake up call, but one that got us up and ready to start our vacation. Mikey made a delicious breakfast of coffee, bacon and eggs (all found in the fridge) and I brought some Swedish cardamom buns as is tradition in the Johnson Family.

We stepped outside our condo to take in the sight of Sapphire Beach. The weather was certainly gorgeous and we laughed how our "white Christmas" was now a "white sands Christmas."

We took a walk around the grounds of the condo complex as we decided what we would do that day. Along the way, we ran into a number of rather large iguanas that were not as afraid of humans as I thought they might be! The first one we approached allowed me to get right next to him (or her)?

As we traveled along the path, we saw a few more bathing by the salt pond:

Although they are professionally cared for and many signs asked guests not to feed them, one of them must have thought it was feeding time because he came right toward me! Yes, cameras have zoom, but this was not a close up!

They really were beautiful lizards!

After our little hike around the compound, we decided to make our way towards town and the airport - partly for sightseeing, partly to fetch our bags. Along the way, we stopped in Red Hook to see the marina and the shops there - many were closed for the holiday, but still beautiful.

Once we got to town, picked up luggage, yada yada yada...we enjoyed some time on Sapphire beach.

Our next few days on island were momentous - between the dollah ($) bus, Mike's mountain-side cactus hike and dodging the crowds from the cruise ship, we were ready to move on to the next islands. As we packed up to leave, we found we had a visitor in our bedroom! Should have closed the window a bit tighter! We got a few shots of our little gecko friend before we scooted him out the window from whence he came. We enjoyed our last dinner on St Thomas at "home" in the condo. The breezeway/patio offered a perfect place to enjoy our "fins" (salmon for Amy) and "feet" (steak for Mike). More on our trip to the British Virgin Islands in the next installment!

Sailing Days 1-2: Tortola, Norman and Cooper Islands

Dec 27: We ferried from St Thomas to West End, Tortola to begin our week long sailing adventure. It was a gorgeous morning with the sun shining through the clouds.
On the way over, we did see a rainbow coming across the bay
We arrived in Nanny Cay before the rest of the crew to see the row of sailboats awaiting charter for the week. The blue skies and turquoise waters just begged us to get out there, but we needed to wait on a few things - the food, our captain, etc!
So we sat patiently on the sidelines waiting to leave
Once we got some paperwork done, we were finally able to board Blue Water Bound.
I quickly found my spot out on the trampoline out front.
This was a very comfortable place to lounge, even in the harbor! Captain Billy navigated us out into the Caribbean at about 5 pm
Mike got comfy on the back - hanging on until the sea legs kick in!
We all enjoyed a lovely sunset as we set the front sail to take us to our first overnight in a small bay off of Norman Island.
Dec 28: We woke early with a plan to get to Cooper Island so my brother and Dad could make their scuba excursion. It was a windy day - good for sailing, but with choppy seas it made me a little queasy. The sails were up in full force making for a really cool site -
With the sails up, Mom and I took our spot up in front on the trampoline. We were moving quite quickly, so we're laughing at the splashes coming up to infringe on the photo op (Holly did a great job capturing this moment!)
When we got to Cooper Island, the picturesque harbor looked especially surreal when viewed through the window of our cabin.

The beach was a bit rocky, and provided a great resting place for a number of pelicans (one seen here). There were many fish and oceanic creatures in the waters around us and it was fascinating to watch the pelicans hunt and dive for their food. They were mostly successful while we watched from the safety of the boat. While Eric and Dad were scuba diving, we snorkeled around the cove. It was our first chance to test our new underwater camera together - and it worked well! We saw sea urchin, a turtle and what we think was an eagle ray that was over 8 feet long! I think our underwater shots were pretty cool - do you?
For dinner, we all enjoyed traditional burgers and dogs - it was our turn to cook, so it was a relatively easy night. Grilling burgers on a cookie sheet was a bit of a challenge, but Mike persevered and a tower of meat was served.