Before & After: Backyard Edition

When we first bought our house in May 2010, we knew one of the biggest projects of the house was going to be the backyard.
The backyard had ISSUES.
But we saw the potential the backyard had, so we didn't let the issues scare us.
The biggest issue was the pool (which was disclosed).
The pool had a crack, a pipe leak and the surface needed to be redone.
The spa also had a leak & didn't hold any water.
When we first saw the pool, it was green with algae & was filthy.
The girls thought it was so cool we had a "pond" in our backyard. Ha!

Last summer & this summer have been spent fixing up the Backyard.
I am so glad I took some Before pictures of when we first moved in because it looks SO different now & I thought I would share the Before & After's.

Here are some Before pictures of the pool:
(You can't tell how dirty & green the pool water is from these pictures. Trust me. It was nasty. There was no way I was ever going in that pool!)

All around the pool where overgrown trees, weeds & bushes.
DURING construction:
With all the rocks ripped out:
And, the AFTER:
The pool re-do was the first thing we did last summer.
The pool was drained June 1st and the pool was completed on July 1st.
Here are some close ups of the changes we did to the pool area.
Before, the pool was lined with lava rock:
Did you know black widow spiders love Lava Rock? The Lava Rock had to go, especially because Lava Rock is bumpy & not comfortable to walk on or sit on.
Another Before:
So we had all the Lava Rock removed & replaced it with smooth Connecticut Blue Stone.
View #2 of the pool:

Another thing we re-did on the pool is we got rid of the steps to the shallow end.
We added an Acapulco step, which is basically adding a baby pool/lounge area to the pool.
Here it is during construction:
The re-bar for the Acapulco step:
And, the AFTER:
The Acapulco step is my favorite thing we did. It shallow (and goes from 6 inches deep to 12 inches deep) and is perfect for the kids to play on & the adults to lounge around on.

Some other things we did around the pool area is get rid of this disgusting lattice trellis that was falling down & full of termites.
We had the pool guys build up a bench for the spa area that people can sit on.
This past Fall, we replaced the fence we shared with our neighbors because it was also rotting & falling over. Literally. And, we had 2 pine trees removed & 2 huge privet trees removed.
Ugly Privet tree BEFORE:
With dirt & a random walkway:

Nasty Pine Tree that dropped all it's needles into the pool:
There was no landscaping, just weeds & dirt.
I love having color around the pool & no more pine needles everywhere!
BEFORE there wasn't a pool fence around the pool, but with 2 little kids we put one up as soon as the pool construction was complete.
This summer Kevin tore down the overhang that was attached to our house. It was rotting and falling down. It needed to go.
We planned on putting up a new one, but we like not having one (for right now)
Since the pool & fence were such big (and expensive) projects, we saved the rest of the backyard to deal with this summer.
Here is a BEFORE of what the other side of the backyard looked like:
Another BEFORE:
There wasn't much landscaping, just a lot of weeds, an overgrown rose bush & a dying apple tree.
(Family Friends gave us their old playset. Score!)
Kevin ripped it out the dead stuff & we added some landscaping & 3 crepe myrtle trees.
And, the final section of the backyard that Kevin slaved over is the side area.
BEFORE it was just a bunch of weeds & overgrown plum trees that didn't produce anything.
Kevin spent months ripping it all out and building me garden boxes!
We also put in a little walkway around the garden boxes:
Close up of the garden boxes/walkway. Oh how I LOVE my garden!
So, there you have it.
The BEFORE & AFTER of our backyard.
It certainly has been a labor of love.
(We hired people to do the pool & fence, but besides that we have done everything ourselves.)
Kevin did all the hard manual labor & I did the planning/landscaping.
I am so happy we are pretty much done with our backyard.
There are a few other things we need to do (like paint the house) and eventually red0 the cement patio, but for the most part, the BIG projects are done with and we have been able to enjoy our weekends and not spend them as Weekend Warriors working in the backyard.


Back to School Resolutions

School is in full swing.
3 days down, 183 to go!
This week I started my 8th year of teaching Middle School Math!
I forgot how exhausting the first week of school is.
We are so lazy & relaxed all summer, that I was a little shell shocked going back to school last week!
So far the first week has been good. Tiring, but good.
It feels nice to bet back into a routine again.

A new school year is like a new calendar year.
A fresh start. New Beginnings.
I was one of those kids growing up who LOVED the start of school.
I loved going back to school shopping for new clothes and for new school supplies.
Heck, I still love doing that!
So, I thought I would write down my Back to School Resolutions to keep myself more accountable and, because who doesn't love a list?
2011 Back to School Resolutions
  1. Be in bed at 10:30 each night (as I type this at midnight. ha!)
  2. Lay out my outfit & jewelry each night so that the mornings aren't so rushed.
  3. Make & pack my lunch the night before.
  4. Make coffee & use the automatic timer in the morning (Kevin always does this, thank you Kevin!)
  5. Don't hit snooze 5 times before I get up in the morning.
  6. Leave for school by 7:40 am
  7. Meal plan on Sundays so that I have our dinners figured out for the week.
  8. Pack the girls clothes/backpacks each night before bed.
  9. On Sundays, I want to finish laundry & house cleaning for the week so that I start the week with a clean house.
  10. Have a good attitude!!! (I had some tough students last year & I had a super bad attitude toward the end of the year and would bring home that bad attitude. Not this year!)

As a working mom with 2 little girls & a side business of photography & Etsy shop, I need to keep myself organized so that our home can run as smoothly as possible, but trust me, things get crazy at times!

I pretty much have the same Back to School Resolutions every year, let's see how long they last this year!
Anyone else have Back to School Resolutions?


Nine Years.

Celebrating 9 years today.
Almost a decade.
So thankful we get to share life together!
(And, Happy 37th Anniversary to my awesome parents!)


And, just like that....It's over.

It's over.
I want to cry.
Instead I will drink wine.

This summer FLEW by.
It went WAY, WAY, WAY too fast.

Last summer ROCKED.
Probably the best summer ever.
(I think it was the excitement of being in our new house, having a pool & fun neighbors)
(Kate reviewing our Summer List)

This summer was a good summer, but not as good as last year.
I don't know why. I can't really put my finger on it.
This summer started off with a bang & we went on the Disney Cruise/Disney World which was probably the best vacation I have ever been on (besides our Honeymoon)

But after that, the summer was pretty uneventful.
The only "activity" we had was Kate's swimming 3 times a week.
Swim lessons weren't until noon, so we had really lazy, slow mornings & stayed in our jammies until 10 everyday. It was great!
Other than that, we just kind of hung out and summer just seemed to pass us by.

And, for the past 3 weeks, Kevin has been so busy at work & has been working 15 hour days.
He is exhausted & I am exhausted. Not a relaxing way to end summer. Oh well, that is how it goes sometimes. Just thankful for his job & that they are busy!

Although, I am ready to get back into a routine again.
I think the girls are ready to get back into a routine also...they keep asking when school starts. ha! They have played really well together this summer, but they have also bickered/whined a lot this summer.

Here is how we did with our 2011 Summer List.
We had 33 items on our summer list and we crossed 25 out of 33.
Not too bad!
Here are the 8 items we did not accomplish:
1. Lunch at Daddy's office (poor guy was so busy, he didn't have time to take a lunch!)
2. Kate learn to ride a bike without training wheels (she is good on the balance bike, but still needs training wheels)
3. Watch a movie at night on the lawn (2nd summer in a row we failed to do this!)
4. Go to the Farmers Market (I cannot believe I haven't gone this summer!!! Because we have our own garden, I haven't needed to go, but I need to go soon because I just love going to the Farmers Market!)
5. Help Jimmy make ice cream (we ate the ice cream, but didn't help make it!)
6. Donuts with Daddy (techincally Kate doesn't start school for 2 weeks, so this will probably get done by then)
7. Feed the Ducks
8. Pick fresh fruit

Here were my highlights of Summer 2011:
1. Disney Cruise & Disney World
2. Kate learning how to swim
3. Claire getting much better with sharing
4. Hosting the annual 4th of July Party for the first time!

Kate's Favorites:
1. Disney Cruise/Disney World
2. Going to the Fair
3. Going out to Breakfast with Daddy

Claire's Favorites:
1. Meeting Belle
2. Disney Cruise
3. Going to Lake Tahoe

So, just like, Summer's Over.
And, I am sad.
Really, really, really sad.
I am SO not ready for school to start.
My classroom is ready & all my materials & lessons are ready to go, but mentally I am not ready.
I was at school most of last week and all day today.
Tomorrow is a Teacher Inservice & students come on Wednesday.
So long summer, see you again in 9 months!


Last Week of Summer

This was our last official week of summer.
School starts for me next Wednesday.
(Moment of silence while I wipe my tears away)

I tried to pack as much as I could into these last couple weeks of summer.
Here is what we have been up to, via instagram!

Summer means Chardonnay.
My BFF was in town for a wedding (us at the Rehersal Dinner)
The Bride & Groom:
Oh yeah, and they had Coldstone at their wedding!!!!
4 flavors, the stone, and all the toppings. It was amazing.

I got another chair from my Grammy (from the 1 room school house in Colorado)
You may remember the yellow one. Well, I spray painted this one pink for Claire's 3 year old photo shoot. Love it!
This past weekend another one of my best friends from high school came into town for our soccer reunion. Our coach (who coached us for 6 years) has lung cancer and just finished his chemo. We had a reunion to see him & celebrate.

The next day, I had a playdate at my house with more friends. We have been friends since Middle School! Between the 5 of us, there are 15 kids!!!!
I had to put up a fence around my garden because our dog (Kevin's dog) was eating all my tomatoes & strawberries. Grrr.....
Our lawn was looking so green. Then we decided to air out our pool cover on the grass for 30 minutes. Bad idea. Huge dead spot on the grass now. Watering it extra to bring it back to life.
What I eat for lunch everyday in the summer.
Grilled cheese with tomato on Sourdough. And, I got some bottled Mexican Coke at Costco (real sugar instead of corn syrup. So good!)
The Crete Myrtles are blooming. That always reminds me of the end of August & when Kevin & I got married. 9 years next week!
My sister & Jason came over for dinner along with one of her best friends & fiance'.
They brought Chipotle for dinner. Win!
They asked Kevin & I to read scripture at their upcoming November wedding. So honored!
I have been going into school this week to get my classroom organized.
I cleaned out almost every cabinet & drawer. After teaching for 8 years, my stuff was getting cluttered!!!
One of the days, the girls came along because I had no one to watch them.
Good thing my room has a TV (and lots of coloring materials!
What I could eat for dinner every night.
Tomatoes & Basil from my garden with Mozzerlla, salt, pepper & balsamic vinegrette.
And, It's It for dessert.
2 cookies with ice cream in the middle dipped in chocolate.
A San Fransisco treat! So good!
They were on sale so I bought 3 flavors. Coffee is my favorite!
Hydrangeas from my yard:
On the Summer List, Kate wanted to have a Popsicle Party.
So, we had a swimming playdate with popsicles!
Thankfully Popsicles were on sale this week!
Claire enjoying doing her own hair:
So there you have...a glimpse of our last week of summer.
Seriously depressed about school starting.

Linking up here:
life rearranged


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