Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our New Patio

When we first bought our house, the flagstone patio in the backyard was beautiful!  But over the years the weeds have taken over, the flagstones have shifted, the sand in between has been blown away and the whole thing has just turned into a big mess.  Jeff has been saying that he wants to re-do it for a couple of years now.  And as much as I would have loved for him to do it himself, I just didn't think he knew how much work was involved (he tends to underestimate on those sorts of things).  

Our backyard patio - BEFORE

Anyway, with Renee being mobile and wanting to play outside a lot more often, the flagstone was even more of a problem.  It was way too uneven for her already unsteady little toddler walking capabilities and it was really not a good place for her to play.  It was simultaneously adorable and heartbreaking to watch her try to traverse the dangerous rocky terrain that was our backyard.  So, although I hated to use our daughter to push my own agenda, Renee ended up being the perfect excuse to justify spending the money and finally having our patio re-done professionally.

We went with a local company, Dumars Landscaping, and they were great to work with.  The landscape designer took note of all our ideas and how much we were willing to spend and came up with a great design (which was totally free of charge, we were surprised!).  The best and least expensive option, as well as the only one our budget would allow, was regular old concrete with a little color and a salt finish to make it pretty.  And here it is:


We had a ton of left over flagstone (all of it basically), so Jeff put in the pretty path to the arbor and back portion of the yard.  Just doing that one small part took him most of a day and he was super sore after, but I think he did a really great job!!

And here is the rest of the patio:


They also continued the concrete to make a path along the side of our house, complete with section for our BBQ and our garbage bins.  It is so much nicer than the stepping stones we had before!!!

Last weekend (5/21) my mom came over to help me pick out some new plants to put in to fill in all the dirt area that we had.  Jeff stayed home and took care of Renee while Mom and I went to Orchard and Home Depot and filled my little Civic to the brim with plants!  It was a challenge to find plants that met all of my requirements: drought tolerant, good in full sun, low maintenance, and pretty.  We ended up going with a lavender, russian sage, and salvia (another type of sage) which fit all of my criteria and will fill in the area nicely.  And my mom treated me to a succulent bed in a shady spot of the yard (by the fence, under my bird houses).  

The next day we had our friends Jason & Jodi, and their kids Keira & Jackson over.  The weather was perfect and we spent tons of time out in the yard.

Action shot of Jack Jack, and some of the new plants.

We also got a hand-me-down slide from one of our neighbors that weekend.  Renee, Keira and Jack Jack had a ton of fun playing on it.  It was perfect timing!!

Of course, they didn't need kids toys to have fun.  A few fly nets kept them busy for quite a while:

Silly kiddos!

This past weekend Jeff and I planted a plum tree, made a concrete bench and laid out whole bunch of mulch to keep the moisture in and (hopefully) block out the majority of weeds.  I'll post some pictures next week after the bench is done curing and we've put it in place under the new plum tree.

It is all coming together so nice, I'm loving it!!!  And since this blog is supposed to be about Renee, she is loving it too!  Actually, she is just loving all the opportunities to be outside with Mommy and Daddy while we are working in the garden.  She has so much fun out there.  I got her some sidewalk chalk to color on the new patio and her Grandma Karen got her some kid size garden tools that she enjoys using to dig in the dirt with.  She recently learned the word rock, which sounds more like, "rah!" when she says it.  So she'll walk around the yard with a couple rocks that she found, chanting, "rah, rah!"  She LOVES the chickens and the duck, and follows them around the yard clucking the way I taught her, "ducka, duckaahh!"  Sometimes she'll pick some mint or flower petals and put them up to her nose, exclaiming, "Mmmmmm!!" (also, something I taught her).  Then she'll bring them up to me and stick them in my face, I always play along and make a big deal of how good they smell.  She also has fun throwing the ball for the dogs when she can get her hands on it.  They try their best to keep it away from her though, it takes her forever to throw it and it never goes very far, not the ideal game of fetch for Sophie and Kirby!  I could go on and on with all the cute little things she does out in the yard, it's so much fun watching her learn and explore and get dirty.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I don't know what you're talking about!

Often, at Renee's daycare, one of the teachers will comment on her goofy personality, her great smile or they'll say something like, "Does she just make you laugh all the time at home?  She is such a crack up!!"

Really, I have no idea what they are talking about . . .

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Catching Up

Since I have been having trouble keeping up with blogging these days, I'm going to do a catch up blog of mini-post describing what's been going on lately.

Here we go!

1) April 27 - Renee got new shoes!!

She got her 1st pair of real shoes for her birthday.  They were size 3, they fit her perfectly and they were the cutest little shoes ever!!  Fast forward 2 short months later and Renee hit a growth spurt that necessitated a new pair of size 4.5's!!!  This may hardly seem blog-worthy to most but, 1) her birthday shoes were soooo cute, 2) her new shoes aren't nearly as cute (those are them in the pics above), and 3) it means that my baby girl is growing up too fast :(

Also, I just love the photo series of her playing with my yarn, worth a blog post in itself!

2) April 30 - Trunnelle Family Gathering

We normally do a Christmas get together in early January with Jeff's parents, brother & family, uncle Glen & cousin Rachel.  This year it got delayed . . . a lot, and we didn't get together until the end of April.  No matter, it was great seeing everyone and Renee had a great time hanging out with her little cousin Eric, 

He is only 7 months old and already almost as big as she is. 

and her Grandpa Earl and Grandma Karen.

3) April 30 - Renee's Last Bottle

After everyone left from the family get together, we gave Renee her normal evening bottle.  She was so pooped from all the fun she had had earlier in the day that she fell asleep while she was drinking it.  There is just something so adorable about seeing your fully clothed baby sound asleep in the middle of the floor, surrounded by her toys :D

We didn't know it at the time, but this was Renee's last bottle!
Since she started in the Toddler Room back in February, we had only been giving Renee two bottles a day, one in the morning and one in the evening before her bath.  This was a BIG step for her, she had been drinking 4 or 5 bottles a day previously and had a hard time with the transition.  So, I decided that I would let her have her remaining two daily bottles until she was ready to give them up.  And when she started seeming less interested in them (i.e. not finishing them and not asking for them) we figured it was a good time to take them away completely.  The morning after that picture was taken I gave her a sippy cup with milk instead of her normal bottle, and she was totally fine with it.  And that was that, Renee is officially weened!!!

(I'm not sure if I ever posted anything about this, but just for my own record keeping, I weened her from breastfeeding at around 10 1/2 months old.)

4) May 5 - Strange Child in the Dog Crate
This is just a funny picture of Renee hugging our cat Madame inside of Kirby's dog crate.  I walked into the back room, saw this, laughed at my goofy girl and then ran to go get the camera.  It was too funny!

 She loves that crate and is always putting random things from around the house in it.  Whenever Jeff and I can't find something (i.e. a shoe, the remote control, etc.) this is one of the first places we look.

5) May 7 & 8 - Mother's Day Weekend

Renee and Grandma Karen reading a magazine together
We had a super busy Mother's Day weekend.  On Saturday we went to Pleasanton to visit with my step-mom and brother for lunch.  Then we went to Dublin to visit with Jeff's parents for dinner.  And we spent the night at my parent's house in Clayton.  On Sunday we had brunch with my parents.  Then, after I got Renee down for her nap, my mom and I went to get pedicures and do some shopping with my aunt & cousin.  And finally we had a big family dinner at my aunt's house.  It was all a lot of fun, Renee got to see all 3 of her grandmas in one weekend, and my toes are super pretty!! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easter Weekend

Easter (a week and a half ago already) was another busy holiday weekend for us!  Jeff was on-call, and his company was doing a major power-down, so he missed out on a lot of it, but Renee and I had a great time.

Jeff was up working in the wee hours on Saturday morning, so when Renee and I got up at 6:30am and he was just wrapping up what he needed to do and starving after having been up for so long, we decided to go out to breakfast.

There's a great little place in Woodland called the Main St. Cafe.  The owner/chef is this gruff mountain-man/biker-dude looking guy who's a bit socially awkward, but he tries very hard to be personable and we appreciate that :D  Renee usually just stares at him though, which means she's still not quite sure about him.  Anyway, the food is great, very fresh and most importantly you don't feel like you just ate a tub of lard when you're finished eating.  And, like most places in Woodland, it's small and not very crowded, so they don't mind if Renee wanders around a bit while we're finishing up our food.

She's good in the high chair until she's done eating, then she wants down and there's not much we can do about it.  She's got all the passive aggressive moves down now: going limp, arching her back, squirming & twisting; so it's hard to keep a hold of her if she doesn't want to be held!  But, she's really good and just wanders around and enjoys all the attention she gets from strangers.  Everyone just thinks she is so cute (we totally agree, of course), so she gets lots of smiles, waves and exclamations of how cute she is!  All the attention is turning her in to quite a little ham :D

The rest of Saturday we just took it easy.  Jeff caught up on some sleep while Renee and I planted our summer vegetable garden.  She loves being outside, so she was happy as a clam and kept very busy while I worked.  She "helped" me dig some holes for the starter plants I had grown indoors, she fed the duck some spinach, she "threw" the ball for the dogs, and watched our new little chicks run around in their pen.  She also loves shaking the seed packets, they sound like a rattle, so she had fun doing that for a while.  She ended up spreading the packets all over the yard, so I was constantly searching for the one I wanted to plant next.

Here she is digging up some dirt in our raised beds:

On a total side note, since I'm writing this post so late, some of the zucchini & sunflower seeds we planted have already popped up!! 

On Sunday morning Jeff had to leave the house at 2AM!!!  So he didn't get to join us at all on Easter :(  But, Renee and I made the best of it.  After her morning bottle I gave her the Easter basket I made for her.  When I was a kid the Easter Bunny always brought us a basket of goodies and I wanted to continue the tradition with Renee.  It was so fun watching her look through the basket!

I don't let her have candy yet, so instead I filled the basket with some fun toys (Little People, no-spill bubbles, a book: "What Makes a Rainbow", and some fuzzy bunny ears to wear).  She also got some goldfish crackers as a yummy treat, even though gets those whenever anyway, she doesn't care :D

Enjoying her Goldfish crackers :D
We spent the next couple hours playing (mostly Renee), cleaning up the house a bit (mostly me) and getting ready to hit the road.  As soon as I got Renee dressed in her Easter outfit, complete with a cute little sweater I crocheted, I took a bunch of pictures.  I wanted to capture her pristine cuteness right away before she messed it all up with her toddler business!

Our first stop of the day was my Aunt Julie and Uncle Mario's house in Petaluma to see a few members of my dad's side of the family.  Renee had fun watching her second cousins, Antonio and Franco, playing with all their fun new Easter goodies.

After a few hours visiting we got on the road again and went to Novato to have dinner with my Mom's side of the family at my Auntie Lea & Uncle Dave's house.  Again, Renee had lots of fun.  My Aunt Lea's house is like a museum, she loves collecting antiques and she displays them beautifully in every possible space.  So it was a bit exhausting chasing Renee around making sure she didn't break anything!  She had a ton of fun when she realized that she could make a full circle loop around the house from the kitchen, through to the laundry room, living room, entry way and then back to the kitchen again.  And she also loved climbing up the stairs, which we don't have at our house.

SOOOO excited about the stairs!!
My aunt and uncle also have a horse barn, so I took Renee out to see the horses.  She was a little apprehensive about it.  She knows what horses are from all the picture books we have at home and she can even tell you what a horsey says, "neehhh!"  But, I don't think she realized how big they were in real life.  I just held her and she sat in my arms motionless, staring at the horses, quietly contemplating whether or not she wanted to get any closer to them.

She also got some extra Easter goodies from my mom and Aunt Lea:

The kitchen utensils weren't part of the gift :D

After dinner and dessert, we packed up and headed home.  When we're out and about I like to try to get in the car to go home around Renee's normal bedtime, usually around 7 PM, but we weren't able to leave until about 7:45.  She was having so much fun that she didn't even notice how tired she was until she was strapped into her car seat; she fell asleep as soon as we hit the road.  All that Easter fun makes for a very tired little girl :D