Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kitchen remodel and some catch up

I know when life is busy when I can't get to my blogging for a few weeks. That and the fact that my internet has been down off and on over here has kept me away.

So some catch up...

After getting in town from Vegas we were glad to spend the day after New Years hanging out at home. We watched the Rose Bowl parade and saw our nephew Jarek playing for Oregon State.

We had to pause this quick to get a view of him....his glasses give him away. 

Way to go Jarek!

Tuesday morning up bright and early for piano and school and real life....this is what happens after being used to sleeping in...and now having to get up at 5:20.

It took me until about 9:00 to notice you see it???

The weekend after New Years we met up with Angela and Robert and Ian for a little post holiday get together. 

They were out of town during Christmas so we met for lunch at....

This place called Philippe's to visit and exchange gifts.

It didn't look remarkable on the outside but it was absolutely packed when we got inside. I guess it's been around forever and was pretty famous. Good choice Robert. 

We ate lunch and visited and watched Robert eat his pickled pig's foot...

The kids didn't want to try any but the sure enjoyed watching Robert eat it.

Afterwards we wandered over to Olvera Street to check out mini-mexico. 

We tried some dried candied...watermelon, sweet potato, coconut and cactus. Interesting and good (but some were better than others)

We heard drums so we wandered to the plaza to see what all the commotion was about.

These guys were dancing to the drums and collecting donations. 

They were braver than I would be in those costumes!

After mini-Mexico we headed over to China Town which was only a couple blocks away. Its funny in those few streets it felt like we were entering another country. 

The markets were cramped and close, covered with items I don't see in my average grocery store. 

Robert showed us these places where you could get rabbits and fresh poultry of all kinds, in fact you could take them home live.  I couldn't imagine walking into Albertsons and coming home with a live duck for dinner. 

Or some live sea food....this looked tempting to Jeff but I didn't bring an ice chest to bring it home in so we just admired them. 

Jacob is not appreciating the poultry with the necks still on. 

We actually bought a sweet and savory bun here that had meat in the middle. It was only a dollar and it was delicious! I would definitely get one again! 

Angela pointed this out in the market and I thought it was hilarious. 

Obviously something (I don't know what) was lost in translation. 

This package reads " Close relations between family members, Shuyaging fabric workmandup series perfection"

To me it looked like some kind of plastic apron, I think.

Oh, and we came home with more pets :(

Two for $5.00 was all Jeff was thinking.

As they are being handed to a thrilled Ashley I'm asking "Wait a minute!!
 What kind of turtles are they? What do they eat? How do we take care of them? ....How big do these things get!"

We are now the proud owners of 3 red eared sliders. 


That night we were invited to a post holiday dinner at the Vincent's.

Thanks Vincents! You know dinner is going to be great when the cook has been to culinary school, it was great as always!

OK now for the kitchen remodel. 

We've been waiting about 9 years for this...since we moved into the house I wanted to get rid of the tile with the crumbling grout and the pitted and banged up porcelain sink but we knew that we wanted to change the layout of the kitchen so we waited patiently until the day we would be ready to do the whole kitchen. A few years ago I painted everything on the old portion of the kitchen and put handles on the doors to tide me over until we really got it done.  Well that ended up having to last 4 or 5 more years.

We have had numerous bids over the years, we almost did it a few times but a stock market crash held us back (literally the day before we were signing to have it done) and the possibility of moving held us back. 

 So with our house deals falling through one by one we have given up and realized for the time being we are staying lets get the kitchen. Finally!


They wanted to start demo on Monday but I had Jury Duty...actually Mary Ann and I had jury duty that week and I convinced her to go in on Monday and get it over with. We got to hang out, go to lunch and come back that afternoon to be released. They didn't need us and we were done! I was so relieved because if they would've wanted me on a trial I don't think they would take the excuse "Sorry I'm having my kitchen remodeled tomorrow"

Here are some before pictures. 

This part of the kitchen was just fine...but to make it tie together we decided to have it done as well, and the fact it was cheaper to do it all together. 

Here's the other side with my paint job.

You can't see it too well but the windows on the side wall both had to be replaced with smaller windows and the wall had to be repaired so we could extend the cabinets farther.

To get the kitchen ready to demolish the rest of the house looked like a pack rat house...its surprising how much stuff those cabinets held.

It even extended out to the backyard.

The person we ended up going with was recommended by Jeff's uncle. She was a Chinese lady who gave us a great quote and a time of one week! I was happy with that.

Day One 

From my perch in the loft I can see the old kitchen coming down. 

They didn't get to the house until 11:30 or so but that kitchen was down in a little over 2 hours!

It's all gone! A floating dishwasher and oven is all that remains.

I thought the yellow I had on the walls was bright....

This yellow was practically flourescent!

After the first day they got some of the cabinets put together (they all came in pieces and from putting together the few bookshelves and such over the years it looked like a nightmare to me!)

We couldn't walk into the kitchen at all that night so I leaned over the couch and made microwave meals with the microwave on the table. 

It's funny that day ended up being one I won't forget. Not only did we have piano, and mutual and all the normal stuff, I go to get into the car that morning and my battery is dead. Ashley and I walked to school, got there just as the bell rang, did my 100 mile club volunteering job and then came home to call AAA to get my car going. I was having the city bring a dumpster at any time so my car had to be out of the driveway...was I going to have to push it out?? But I was also worried about having it parked on the street because it was street sweeping day and I would get a ticket. Well that all worked out. We had one neighbor boy over that afternoon...I had to try and find snacks from piles around the house, then I had another neighborhood boy wanting to borrow my phone going through a teen crisis. With pounding and chaos around me I was still able to talk a bit of sense to him and help him enough to get him through it. It was an exciting, stressful, hectic day. 

I forgot to get pictures on day two, but Jeff was out of town that night. We had electrical issues and I couldn't call him (I'm sure there are always snags that pop up with stuff like this.  I got it figured out, took the kids to jack in the box for dinner and got through the day. 

Oh I forgot that at the same time as chaos going on at the house. It was Ashley's birthday so I was planning cupcakes for school and a party for Friday. 

I told her that I would have to buy cupcakes but she suggested I make them the week before and freeze them...good idea Ashley. So I frosted cupcakes in the living room as the guys were putting together cabinets in the kitchen. 

End of day 3 all the cabinets are done!

They did a great job! They put in molding everywhere, soft close drawers and pull outs in the pantry and all the lower cabinets and we didn't even ask for it! We were very happy. 

Day 4 the granite guys came.

As they were there I was running around trying to pull off an after school birthday party for Ashley at the movie theater. 

We were hoping for Saturday and it would've been less hectic but somebody already was doing one so Friday afternoon it was!

The dog wasn't too sure about all this going on at our house. I had to block her from the kitchen because she was in the way, her world was turned all upside down :)

Happy Birthday Ashley

Silly girls celebrating at the movie theater!

We had fun playing games, eating pizza and watching "We Bought a Zoo"

Jeff helped with the party part and then went home to finish up with the house stuff. 

So me and 10 girls watched the movie...I took girls out 3 times for potty breaks, there was lots of moving around and giggling and general silliness but I think they all had fun. 

After everyone was brought home I spent the rest of the evening at urgent care with Ashley, she fell on her thumb at recess and it was swollen 2 times the size of the other one. She sucked it up during the party but afterward she couldn't handle it. 

It's tradition that she happens to get sick on her birthday every year so I was glad she was at least able to enjoy her party.  Two days later she got the stomach flu for 4 it just came a little later this year. 

So the end of day 4 and the granite is in and our cabinet people are done with their job. Way to go!

I was very very happy to throw away my grout brush. 

Saturday we had an electrician come in to work on moving a couple of electrical outlets and take out our florescent lighting and put in canned lights. 

It seems that during this process everything was breaking...Jeff's transmission went out on his car and it's having other's been in the shop for 3 weeks and counting, my car needed a major service and the batter died twice in a row and we needed to replace that, our ceiling fan broke though I'm not too sad because Jeff picked up this in the clearance section for $80 and I thought he did a pretty good job. 

After the electrician left we sat down as a family to relax and realized the TV was broken.

When they were working on the power an outage damaged the TV and it's gone. Luckily we bought the extended warranty...if we're lucky it will be 2 weeks to get it fixed. 

He'res some of the almost finished kitchen.

We didn't get water until Monday because we ordered the faucet online and it wasn't in yet.

Until we had water I kept trying to get the kids to use paper didn't always work so I ended up having to do dishes in the bathroom a few times. 

We are almost done, we have some wall fixing that is going on and painters coming today and then we are almost done!

I am very happy with the layout and I've put all the dishes, cups, bowls and lots of stuff down low where my family can get to them and Taylor and I don't have to be the only ones reaching stuff down!!

(So I'm asking Jacob why is he still asking me to get him drinks and cereal :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ringing in the new year in Vegas

Since my family is spread out we decided to meet up with Joel and Virginia from Utah in Vegas for a few days before we all headed back to work and school. 

It was a quick mini-family vacation and a nice way to get out of Riverside and see family at the same time.

We rolled in town just in time for downtown Rush hour traffic then loaded up on some food for the next few days and Panda Express for dinner. My aunt works for Hilton Grand Vacations so she helped us book a one-bedroom timeshare place...the kitchen and dining room table came in handy and I liked that it didn't have a casino in it!

The Oleson's met up with us not too long later. Some of us watched Pirates of the Carabean in our room...(you can see our view of Circus Circus from the window) and the rest of the kids watched Kung Fu Panda 2 down the hall. It actually was nice to have 2 rooms close enough together to split up if the kids wanted but still be close enough to come back and forth. 

Dean was very excited to see "Asheee!!!"  He loves Ashley! He also loved Taylor throwing him up in the air and Jacob pushing him in the stroller. 

The next morning this is what we find after breakfast. Kids hanging out in front of the TV while Joel and Jeff take the Oleson car to the shop (leaking fluids on the drive down) and buy tickets for the adults to go to a show that evening. 

We planned out our day by starting with a recommendation Joel found for the Pinball Hall of had a 5 star rating. We were open but I have to admit I was thinking it would be more of a museum,
it was more of a warehouse.

There were lots of pinball games, and some other kinds. Basically it was an arcade so we let the kids play for a bit. 

Here is Ashley getting some $.25 popcorn which was a hit with the kids (notice all the games that came here to die in the background)

Jacob found the popcorn too...

Ashley spent her money on fake mustaches and this machine. It was basically a foot massager/vibrator thingie from maybe the 50s or 60s. 

It said "Step up for a pick up" and "Bet a hit, this is it, keep young and fit"

Don't know how vibrating feet keep you fit but Ashley had fun with it. 

Classic Mrs. Pacman kept Jeff and Taylor occupied while we were there and then we were off to Fazoli's for lunch and a trip to Red Rock. 

I would never know about Red Rock Canyon if I didn't have an aunt that lived in Vegas but we loved it. About 1/2 hour away from downtown there is a national park that has trails and canyons and hikes that take you to petroglyphs and Indian sites. 

Here's the view from the visitor's center

When we drove up closer we could see all kinds of people rock climbing and repelling. It was fun to pick them out in the distance hanging precariously from the rocks. 

We found a trail that took us ...

To some petroglyphs and wall paintings.

Joel thought this would be a good idea at the time...people eat cactus don't they?

Well I already learned my lesson the hard way you don't have to just worry about the big spikes...there are lots of little ones you can't see very well. 

Lets just say Joel's experiment left him with spiky lips...

Some more hiking.

I loved that Dean would reach out and touch whatever dad was walking by.

After a nerve racking brush with running out of gas on the way back, picking up the Oleson's car with only 15 minutes to spare (they would've been without a car for the next 4 days) we made our way back to the hotel and got the kids dinner so we could go out as adults. 

With a million choices for dinner it was hard to pick...even harder when a lot of the best places had 2 hour waiting times...we settled on a place called Bahama Breeze and it was great. Yummy island themed food and not too expensive!!

We ended up going to a show at the new hotel Aria.

It was Viva Elvis with Cirque du Soleil.

Fun and we loved it but we were hoping for a tad more acrobatics and a little less fact there wasn't even an Elvis! They had his songs sung by a gospel chior, plenty of videos of him but no person actually acting and singing as if they were him.

There was still plenty to keep us entertained. 

We came home to the boys up playing Monopoly. Jacob was in heaven because nobody will play it with him at home any more. They ended up continuing their game the next day but finally got bored with it.

On Saturday we went and explored some of the downtown treasure island...

The Venetian all decorated for Winter. 

They even had an ice skating rink but looking at it closer we read that it was a "simulated ice skating experience that was eco-friendly"  It was plastic that you ride around on with greasy skates. Not worth $10.00 a pop if you ask me. 

Here is as close to Vegas nightlife as our kids got...

in front of Madame Tossaud's Wax museum. 

The Venetian was pretty cool and Jeff told us all about how it compared with Italy. 

The Christmas tree looked like a big foil cone with balls on it.

We figured it looked much better lit up at night. 

At this point Dean insisted that only Jacob push him in the stroller. I think he thought Jacob was a fun stroller driver. 

We went inside to see the gondalier's...Jeff said these were much nicer than the real ones...

A quick lunch in the food court.  (We aren't big eaters so it was nice to have the Oleson boys to finish up our leftovers ;)

Dean wanting to hold Ashley's hand while we're walking...awww how cute. 

The tram that took hotel over...the kids wanted to ride it and they got to. 

We had to go to M&M world...5 stories of all M&M stuff....

it took us 1/2 the time to find the actual M&Ms 

Here they are.  

Not only did they have every color that had pretzel, coconut, peanut, peanut butter, mint, cherry and rasberry M&Ms. So we started putting some of each in baggies. 

Before we knew it we were up to 2 pounds.

I asked Jeff how much it ended up being..."A lot"

Yeah $25.00 for two pounds, (he didn't realize how much a pound it was)!  

We tried to see the dolfins at the Mirage but after winding through the maze to get to them we found out it was $20.00 for adults and $15.00 for kids to see them. Yeah right. 

Never mind.

So we went to the MGM to see the lions for free instead. 

This guy was full on playing with them and manhandling their mouth and everything and they seemed fine.  They attracted quite a crowd. 

We were wondering if the guys from "Tanked" did this one...

The last stop for the afternoon was the New York New York...Inside made of candy...

Outside...hmmmm the roller coaster...

does anyone want to try it??

Taylor and Scott wanted to try it...$15.00 for a only those two went on it.

They liked it but by the time they were off the ride everyone was pretty much done...

Besides the streets were starting to get pretty crowed. We had an hour to get off the street and back to our hotel. They were closing Las Vegas Blvd from 5:00pm to 5:am to all traffic so we would be stuck if we didn't get back to our room. 

We got back and decided to swim since the pools were heated and it was nice to relax in the hot tubs and then get the kids showered and relaxed. 

We ate in again and had planned to play games but the boys decided to hang out together in the other room playing more Monopoly and us adults hung out and talked until about 9:30 or so. 

We were curious what the streets would be like since they were all shut down. We wanted to take a walk and when noone wanted to go (they were done walking) Jeff, Joel and I went to check it out. 

I actually was expecting craziness but it was very tame. 

We found cheap New Year's party stuff....

And more stuff...

We walked as far as Treasure Island and the Venetian (the tree did look better at night)

And then we headed back to be with the family at midnight and watch the fireworks

They were prepared for chaos but the whole time we were walking we saw normal people, families and even kids in strollers. I thought the few high heeled, mini skirted moms walking next to their husbands and boyfriends looked funny towering over them. Only a couple of people looked noticeably like that had been drinking all in all it was very tame, there wasn't even any music or anything...but I think we were on the "tame" end of the strip and away from the partying...fine by me.

Jeff was asked to have his picture taken 3 or 4 times and he was called "wee-man" once or twice.

At 11:30 we gathered the kids and headed to the top of the parking garage to watch the fireworks show. 

It's fun to have the kids old enough to celebrate New Year's with them!

Ashley and Dean are ready!

The fireworks were shot off all down the strip, they kept coming and all seemed synchronized even with the colors that were being shot off!

Right behind us was the stratosphere fireworks!

How fun!

The next morning we found a 10:00 church service and was on the road by 11:30 to try and escape the traffic going back to California.

There were plenty of cars but it only got really bad at State line and at the fruit check-in place. 

We got home to work being done in our kitchen.

After 2 years of trying to house hunt and having deal after deal fall out we decided to give up and redo the kitchen here is the first step, we put in smaller windows so we can extend the counter farther and put a return...more pictures to follow as more gets done...

Happy New Year Everyone!!