Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fun and exciting weekend with kids and friends

This weekend found us heading down to Olympia for the Dirty Dash. Birdy loaded up the truck and she and the Big Sho picked me up from work (I gave her kids the nick names Big Li'l and Massa Shogun and the two of them are referred together as the "Big Sho"). We swung by and picked up Abbicus and Paco Sanchez and we were off in search of adventure.

We were going to be a part of the  IBEW Local 77 Renew Committee's team running in the annual mud run called the Dirty Dash. Five of us pitched in and rented a house on Summit Lake. This place was immaculate: fully furnished and exquisitely appointed. Great deck overlooking the lake.

The weather was better than we could have hoped for;sunny, light breeze, clear blue skies and no bugs. The kids were in the water within a few minutes after our arrival. We were joined by our house-mates Ben and Dusty (her real name is Shelby, but I will always know her as Dusty...its a long story...I will tell you all about it in another post some time) Cook just as we had finished unpacking. Matt Reese made it sometime around midnight. Everyone had a blast.

After a night spent tying on a few too many Friday night, we crawled out of bed and made ready for the main event: It was time to get dirty! How better to spend a scorching hot afternoon than to trounce around in pools of mud and drink beer? All in all, we had a really fun time and got to hang out and be a part of the IBEW Local 77 Renew Committee's fun event.

Birdy had the brilliant idea to bring along black trash bags for the car ride back to the lake house after the race. Her idea was to step into the bag and poke holes in the bottom of the bag and stick your feet through. We just needed to get back to the lake house without turning the truck into a mud pit and jump into the lake to wash off. I am pretty sure that half of the lake turned a shade of brown for a few minutes after we all got cleaned up.

We had a blast. The kiddos really bonded. We can't wait for next time we can all get together and make mischief. Can anyone say, Seaside?


Monday, June 22, 2015

Ongoing happiness

We are attempting to spend every day focusing on the things in life that bring joy, laughter and happiness. Today is a day to be happy; to have a smile plastered across your face. Yes, let's do that.

June 30-Day Challenge: Part I: Replace Water Damaged Floor

Fresh off of finishing the first 30-Day Challenge in May installing the new deck, this happens:

It's never a good thing to wake up, walk downstairs and when you reach the bottom step hear "Squuiiiiish" beneath your feet. 6am on Monday morning. It instantly changed our plans for our June 30-Day Challenge. And June was already going to be a tough challenge because we have a lot of things going on this month and won't be available to work on the house for at least three weekends. 

So we began ripping up the floor, calling the insurance company, researching a new hot water heater, making materials lists and developing a plan. After a small breakdown on Birdy's part, and some much needed cajoling to look on the brightside from Myko, turns out this isn't going to be SO bad.

There is damage to the living room floor, the dining room floor and the floor in the pantry.

We purchased and installed the water heater the same day the burst happened since we couldn't go too long without water. The new water heater is awesome, by the way. It's amazing that we can take multiple showers in one time period now, or that we don't have to choose between shaving our legs and washing our hair! We couldn't start on the flooring for another week or so because we had already made plans to take a short vacation to San Jose. So, we set up the blowers and let everything dry out.

The next weekend was set for the floor. We kind of thought that it would take both Saturday and Sunday to install the floor. First we had to get the few other things that we had left in that room out so that we had a clear workspace. Myko got the freezer out to the garage without too much problem. We started laying the floor in the dining room.

First we had to install the underlay foam padding.

This went down pretty easy. We used packing tape to secure all of the seams based on some advice from a number of different websites. The we started installing the actual flooring.

Even only 2 rows in it was exciting to see. The flooring really fits the personality of this house, a house that is farm style on some acreage in the woods near the river.

After we completed the dining room we needed to move the piano so that we could complete the floor. This task was NOT easy and ended up taking more time than we had hoped.

Luckily we hadn't thrown away the old pergo yet. It made this job possible. We used it as runners so as not to damage the new floor. Now the piano sits on the back porch outside the dining room awaiting pick up from its rightful owner.

Before we finished covering the subfloor with the foam we wrote a little note in case we, or the next owner's of this house, ever pull up the floor again. Just a little way to add our own embellishment and everlasting touch to this house.

Time to complete the underlayment. While Myko completed the special cuts around the door frame between the two rooms, Birdy finished taping and securing the foam. (Birdy swears she's going to do hair and make-up next time.)

It looked as though we just might finish this whole floor in one day! We work pretty well as a team. It is helpful to have the pieces ready to go and already laid out in the right direction. We got very good, very fast at the process of picking pieces, deciding on lengths, cutting and installing.

 All that was left was some special fitting around the pop out in the front of the room and the space in front of the stairs.

The last couple of pieces to be installed......

And the floor is in! It looks absolutely gorgeous and really does go well with the house. It was really easy to install and looks like it will stand up to a pretty good beating.

There is still a whole lot of work to be done (and not a lot of time to do it in). Fortunately, although it was a full day of draining work, we were able to get the entire installation done on Saturday leaving us Sunday to start on another part of the process.

Off to IKEA in the morning!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Because even as adults it's fun to mess with cats

Just grillin' it

It has been nearly two months without a BBQ. Last weekend the weather was warm, we were working hard, and there's only so much quinoa people can eat. It was time for a steak. And steak is NOT steak without a BBQ. 

There isn't anything that I buy without some research, particularly when it involves large amounts of cash. With the help of my Facebook friends, a few different websites and a couple weeks of contemplation, the final decision was made. Weber (the Genesis series at least) is Union made in the USA. There is hardly a review to be found where folks are not RAVING about this grill. And many that have recently bought one did so because their last trusty (15+ year) one finally said its final farewell.

So we called Fred Meyer to check stock. They carry this grill for the same price as everyone else. I've watched the sales, even around Memorial Day and Father's Day and there's nothing to be found. So, why not give my $799 to a store who employees my fellow Union brothers and sisters? Fortunately for us they had 2 in stock, one assembled, and one in the box. Myko cordially asked Tyler the BBQ guy to please hold on to it for us as we were on our way.

While we were at Freddy's, we picked up some nice New York's. It's the debut dinner on a brand new grill at the start of summer, there's just no cheaping out on the meat.

We dashed home and Myko got started assembling the grill. All in all it only took a little over an hour, all by himself, to get it steak ready.

While he assembled the grill I prepared the meat and some side dishes. He called me outside when it was all done:

We had a small SNAFU with the propane. All hooked up, started that baby up and anxiously awaited the time to put the steaks on. After five or ten minutes to get it good and hot I went out to start sizzling those grill marks on.......and the propane was out.

By this time it was nearly 8 o'clock. Myko to the rescue. Without missing a beat he grabbed the tank and grabbed the keys. When he got back, nearly 30 minutes later, I wondered what had happened to him. Apparently, you can only get propane in town until 8pm, and it was 8:01 when he finally got to talk to the cashier. And so he had to scour the other gas stations in and around town to find some propane. We were having steaks, one way or another. Thankfully, the Chevron at Getchell Station fills propane until 11pm!

FINALLY, I got to throw the steaks on. It's a good thing they only take a few minutes a side to cook....

Oh my goodness that taste can't be beat. Since then it's grillin' season. Made these kabobs Friday night.

So far, I can't say a single bad thing about this grill. I LOVE it. Now, I need to find some grilling utensils. I don't have that many more hairs to be singed off my arms!

- Birdy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Life is for the living

I take great comfort in knowing that I am here because I chose to be.

For as long as breath fills my lungs...
For as long as I have legs that can carry me...
For as long as I have a mind and a hand with which to write or a mouth from which to speak...

I have sole discretion over what I do, the manner in which I do it and the company I choose to keep while doing it.

I own all of my successes and failures...
I own all of my talents and flaws...
I own all of the outcomes of the decisions I have made...

Yet, I am not the sum total of all of them; they are a part of who I am, they are a part of what brought me to this point. But they are not the full measure of who I am or who I may still yet become.

And there is great anticipation as I contemplate the innumerable possibilities that lie before me.

Take my handy, Birdy...let's go for a ride!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Abbicus makes the grade

Abbey (left) and classmate

Ma li'l Abbicus aint so little no more...

She is gracefully awkward as she tiptoes through her teenage years. I am proud of her for having graduated middle school and I patiently watch as she slowly becomes a woman in this world.

There is a peculiar delight in being this young lady's dad: I wish her the best while somehow knowing that everything is going to work out just fine for her. She manages to maintain her darling smile no matter what seems to come her way.

I love you, lillow grull...


Monday, June 8, 2015

Returning Home from Home

This long weekend spent rediscovering the place I came from served to remind me that home is where you make it. While I have fond memories of this place, there are new roads to discover, new paths to follow and new friends to come along for the ride.

It is the people that made for the biggest impact this trip. The nearly 20 years and thousands of miles that have separated us have done nothing to steal the joy or quell the laughter we share. And an even greater joy was found: Birdy joined in on the fun as though she'd been there all along.

Here's to making sure we keep moving forward...and making sure we don't forget who our real friends are...and to making sure its not 20 years until we all get together again!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Boys are back in town

Sometimes you don't see people for twenty years......and it still feels the same as when you were kids. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Off to San Jose

I can hardly tame the butterflies swirling about in my stomach. At long last, we are coming back to visit my home town and meet my oldest friends. This is a part of me that Birdy has yet to see. I am eager for her to see this side of me.

The prop plane is a nice touch as we set off on this next adventure. A few hours and we'll be in San Jose where I cut my teeth and spread my wings. I can't wait to see how things have changed (and how they've stayed the same).

The plane ride was a breeze. We had a pair of really cool flight attendants on our Alaska flight (isn't flying Alaska great?) who gave us a two $50 discount vouchers for our next flight because Birdy was kind enough to share a few Aleve's with one of the gals.
Woke up this morning to that California sun blasting in our room. This day beckons...up and at em', MyKO and Birdy!

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Today at least, I think this is what it's like raising a teenager. They won't know their own self-worth, true ability and the power they hold until they do. You can't tell them. You won't convince them. It has to come on their own. It's just SO damn hard waiting for it....

30 Day Challenge - June 2015

We were so pleased with ourselves having completed the deck in 30 days, even among many other things going on, that we decided to pose a 30 day challenge to ourselves EVERY month. At noon on Sunday (the last day of May) we had completed the deck. We ate lunch and thought, "Why not get a jump start on June's challenge!?!"

Out we went to begin working on the garage. A mess of a place that needs a lot of work but has a million possibilities.

 Scary, right? This building has been a place to throw things when they weren't wanted or needed in the house. Originally, it was a sad building that could hardly be imagined usable. But Birdy's Wusband had shored up the walls and made it a viable building - siding, new roofing, new doors. Although it still needs a lot of help.

First things first, we need to get all the stuff out of there so that we can rip down the rest of the old drywall, enclose the entire building and get ready to run electrical.

Oh, and then there's this stuff out back. Also needs to be removed to shore up the back wall to install siding. It's country living folks....

 We productively sorted through trash, stuff that would be better used by someone else, and organized the many "just throw it in the garage" trips that had been made over the years. We probably spent a good 6-7 hours that Sunday afternoon on this project.

And then, Monday morning, THIS happened:

Apparently water heaters don't last forever? A fact that is well known, but rarely a thought that crosses your mind on a daily basis.......until water comes squirting up through your floor boards. And so June's project turns from preparing the garage for it's new life to repairing the damage from a flood. Not exactly planned, but somehow, when forced to face the bright side of things, will probably end up being another opportunity to work together, have some fun and enjoy the fruit of our efforts.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. Just have to remember to breath...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The 30 day challenge - May 2015

It's funny how your perspective on time changes from child to adult. As a child a month seemed like an eternity. As an adult a month slips by with a blink of an eye. Challenging yourself to do something, anything really - no matter how big or how small, is always the first step in accomplishing something. Without a deadline though, there's hardly a project, a shopping list, or an appointment that gets made in a timely fashion. It is so easy to let these things slip through the cracks when life gets in the way.

So we were reading something on the internet that put forth the 30 day challenge. Here are the rules:

1) Decide on something you want to accomplish
2) Get it done in 30 days

Pretty simple, right?

There was space and encouragement to post progress on their website (though we never actually got to doing that). Many people were looking to get healthier, exercise more, or some other sort of self improvement. We chose to apply this concept to those things you always talk about but have a hard time starting, and then finishing.

Project #1? Rebuilding the deck outside my bedroom that was taken out in a windstorm 3 years ago.

We started with a foundation of a basic frame but that was about it. I had some reclaimed wood that was in the garage that was intended for this project. First things first though, we needed a to-do list. Using Wanderlist we created a list of the things we needed to do and buy to get this deck built. It's kind of crazy when you really break down each step of the process how intimidating it can be. But the act of crossing things off a list always brings great satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Besides, you don't want to forget anything.

We needed material. Measurements were taken and a parts list was made. A parts list that, because we were out and hadn't originally intended to go to the hardware store, got left at home. Luckily, Myko had enough forethought to have already loaded it into the cart at Home Depot (so that we could accurately estimate cost of the project)  so we used the Surface to gather the materials we needed for the project.

So began the process of preparing all of the boards. New deck boards needed to be sanded and stained. Re-purposed deck boards needed to have nails removed, a swipe of a rag to clean off the cobwebs, then sanding and staining. We did all of this portion of the project on the weeknights because we are busy folks. We were actually out of town for 8 of the 30 days (it was actually 9 but there are 31 days in May so I won't count that one) of the duration of this project.

The railings had to be measured, sized, all parts cut and assembled. They also required sanding, putty-ing of nail holes, priming, caulking and painting. Luckily Myko knows his way around a saw and a nail gun. Otherwise this 30 day challenge would've been a 365 day challenge! After the railings were assembled, sanded, puttied and primed, we began to assemble the deck boards on the frame.

Only minor injuries occurred.

The existing two posts needed putty and sanding. 

We continued securing the deck boards to the frame. Cuts had to be made to account for the posts.

Then more sanding, caulking and painting. Neither of us like to paint. But we had a goal and we were determined to meet it. Once the posts were painted, we hit the rails and the posts that hold the entire deck up.

After final cuts were made to the edging of the deck boards, stain was applied.

Myko spent the morning (while Birdy was off watching her kiddo play paintball) putting all of the railings together and securing them to the posts.

A final putty, sand and coat of paint was necessary to finish up the railings while they were in place. We also had to touch up the house paint where the old railings had been ripped off since they didn't match up in the exact same places. To help finish off the final presentation a thorough washing of the slider and outside floodlights was in order.

Last step, clean up all of the dust, make sure everything was just right, and apply a layer of varnish on the deck boards to help coat and protect from the weather, as well as making them shine!

Honestly, there were times we weren't sure our deadline would be met. But we made it. Despite numerous other things taking up our time - time out of town for Birdy's business meetings, countless baseball, soccer & volleyball games/practices/parties, dentist appointments, we ran the Color Run one Sunday, bowling & fun with the kiddos, end of school celebrations, evening work meetings and Logan's birthday - we built an entire deck within 30 days. And we didn't skimp on anything, even when we were both tired and really wanted to skip a step. It always pays off in the long run to do a project right and we stuck to that.

We enjoyed this challenge so much that we intend to have a continuing 30 day challenge every month. Next up: Clean up the outbuildings. Which we actually began upon completion of the deck. (It was only noon on a beautiful Sunday, why wait?!?!?!)