Monday, May 31, 2010

Remodel/Addition Update--week 4

Demolition of existing dining room:  deck is gone, wood flooring being removed, trim removed:

This is the new ceiling framework for the new kitchen/old family room.  It was an angled tray ceiling, so it got changed to a straight tray to accommodate canned lights.  Ceiling fan will go in the center.

This is the view from the mudroom doorway.  The big window is gone and the new opening is for the window that will be above the sink:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Last Track Pics...until next year

I am so proud of these boys!
4x100 team for Ballard  (Brandon is third from left)
7th place in state for 3A

4x200 team
4th place in state for 3A
They broke their own school record set last year at state. (3 of the 4 boys stayed the same.)

This was Brandon's third year to make it to state track.  
We never buy t-shirts, but I couldn't resist this year.  
He made it in three events, 
and I didn't feel like we could count on repeating this fabulous season next year.  
This shirt will definitely end up in the display at his graduation party.

I also couldn't resist having the shirts printed with some extras.
It was a great track year...
let's hope we have an even better one next year, when Brandon is a senior!
(I hope I get to buy another shirt next year too.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Easy Lasagna

My family loves lasagna. family loves all food and would keep me in the kitchen 24/7 if they could.  My original attempts at lasagna were often disappointing--it was runny and looked like a mess on a dinner plate.  Over the years, I simplified my recipe and my lasagna turned out better.  Win-win!

Easy Lasagna

1 lb. sausage
1/2 lb. ground beef
24 oz. spaghetti sauce
24 oz. container cottage cheese
3-4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
parmesan cheese
Italian seasoning
lasagna noodles - do not cook

Brown sausage and ground beef together, drain off the fat, mix in the spaghetti sauce.
Spread a little sauce onto the bottom of a greased, 9x13 pan, and then cover with a layer of UNCOOKED lasagna noodles.
Next, layer half the meat sauce, then half the cottage cheese, sprinkle on parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. Top with 2 c. mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers: noodles, meat sauce, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover the pan with foil.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Remove the foil for the final 10 minutes.
Allow 10 min. additional time for lasagna to cool before serving.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Excuse me?

I found this in my refrigerator yesterday:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Iowa High School State Co-Ed Track Championships

We have been hanging out at the amazing Drake University track, also known as the blue oval.
It's one of my favorite places:
Home of the famous Drake Relays which have been held for 100 years and are attended by the best track athletes in the world.  (Michael Johnson, Lolo Jones, and Jesse Owens have run there.  Usain Bolt is expected at next year's Drake Relays.)
Host track of this year's USA Track and Field Championship.
Host of last year's NCAA Track and Field Championship.

It is such a privilege for Iowa high school students to get to run on a track of this caliber.  The atmosphere is so special.  You can feel it when you walk into the stadium.
Almost sacred... in a track sort of way.  : )

On Friday we had the whole family, all 6 of us, plus Byron's parents who drove up from Missouri, at the track meet and forgot to take a picture.  I am glad we got a picture taken on Saturday (thanks Lisa!).

On Saturday, I went to the track meet, then to a softball game of Meggan's in a different town, then back to the track meet, and then to a graduation party. Today was church, then a soccer game for Ryan, then our neighbor girl's graduation party.

Busy weekend.  More track pictures to come later, because I can't resist. : )

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dream Spaghetti

This delicious dish was brought to our family years ago when I had a new baby. We loved it! I got the recipe and have been making it every since.

Dream Spaghetti

1.5 lbs. ground beef, browned
24 oz. spaghetti sauce
12 oz. cottage cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
10.5 oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked

While cooking the spaghetti, brown the ground beef. Add spaghetti sauce to the ground beef.  Mix the three cheeses together.  Grease a 10x13 pan; drain and rinse spaghetti and place as the bottom layer in the pan.  Spread the cheese mixture over the spaghetti as the second layer.  Top with ground beef/sauce.  Bake for 45 min. at 350 degrees.  Optional: top with mozzerella or parmesan cheese.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Death of a Deck- house remodel-week 3

Our deck got torn off today.  This is the space where our new family room will go.  

The only sadness I felt in losing the deck is that my dog won't have a place to sunbathe anymore.  On early spring days the deck is so warm, and she loves to soak it up...especially if I leave the door standing open, so that she's free to come in and out.  Something about that closed door makes her nervous.

I am sad about the future of those beautiful lilacs.  We're going to try to move them, but they may not survive this addition/remodel process.  I used the deck for a lot of flowers in pots as well...sad about that.

The doorway to the deck is the main access to our back yard.  We use it constantly throughout the day.  It is going to be a problem...mostly for Mandie.  In this picture, she is wondering how to get back into the house.  Poor pooch!

The missing deck boards aren't a problem for this member of the family.  Pumpkin is the only one not impacted.  Just a day or two more, then the boards she's walking on will be gone too.

Another sign of progress...that's what the death of the deck is to me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recital, Birthday, Track Meets, and House Remodel-week 2

Piano Recital...
Ryan and Meggan had their piano recital on Saturday.  It is always great to hear them play pieces they've worked sooo hard on.  Of course, I've heard them hundreds of times by the time we get to the recital, but it is great to hear the performance.  They both did an excellent job--dynamics, expression, good tempos! Everything you want a pianist to accomplish during their performance.  I was really proud of them.

A Dog Birthday Party for Mandie...
On May 6, our pooch had a birthday!  She turned four years old--28 in dog years!  We still treat her like she's our little puppy. : )  Because our schedule during the afternoon was pretty open, we had a dog birthday party.  Mandie got to invite her best friend Lilly to go to Brown Dog Bakery in Ankeny, because she is such a good dog!

Meggan  --  Ryan
Mandie  --  Lilly
We met Lilly when a doctor in our town was looking for someone to walk her five month old golden retriever puppy.   Ryan and Meggan were hired, and they have been walking Lilly four days a week for almost two years.  On bad weather days (which is a lot in Iowa) Lilly just comes to our house and wrestles with Mandie for a few hours.  At the birthday party, both pups enjoyed sniffing lots of treats and  toys--Brown Dog Bakery has rows of buckets full of dog treats and bones.  Yummy, if you're a dog! They also have specially decorated treats stored behind glass just like cookies and donuts would be in a real bakery.  The dogs had a great time and got bacon flavored bagel treats and some peanut butter turtles.

Track Meets...
This is the last week of regular season track meets for my two oldest.  We only had two meets this week,    so my schedule already has a little breathing room in it again. Our district meet is Friday night. Brandon is on three relay teams that will likely go to state-- 4x100, 4x200, and 4x400.  Keeping the baton off the ground is the key factor.  Ellyn's running hurdles again this year.  Her shuttle hurdle relay team is the only event that could get her to state--the girls will have to be extra fast on Friday night to make it.

Our remodel project is moving a long.  This is the pocket door opening--a new way into our kitchen from the mudroom. That used to be a wall, with my family room on the other side.

It just keeps raining here.  I hope it stops soon...we've had four inches this week.  I haven't done any flower gardening, and I'm hoping to get some time for it when track ends.
Meggan and her friend on their way to piano lessons, walking in the rain:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Addition/Remodel- week 1

We have lived in our house for exactly 15 years this week.  When we built it, we had an almost 2-year-old and a brand new baby. We built a conservative 3 bedroom ranch.  We weren't sure at the time if Huxley would be our long-term home.  Since that time, we have come to love our small town; our lot, which includes a wooded back yard; and the location, which is close to the school and park.  I have often said that I have a little town out my front door and a little bit of country life out my back door.  The best of both worlds.
Seven years of living in this house went by, and we became a family of six.  We decided to homeschool, which meant kids were home with me all day.  We decided we were here to stay, but our house wasn't fitting our family needs anymore.  So, eight years ago we added a bedroom/laundry room addition and finished our basement. We have loved the extra space and use every bit of it daily. The kids got their own bedrooms and the laundry chaos was eased by a larger space. The addition was great, but we have continued to feel the squeeze in our kitchen, dining, and family room space.  I really like to host meals and parties, so we have a lot of people who eat in our kitchen/dining room, not to mention the six who sleep under our roof.  We have spent the past eight years talking about someday adding some more space out the back of our house, to better handle the people who cook and dine here.

In April, we decided to do another addition/remodel.  We jumped in with both feet and have been slightly consumed with the decisions that we've been required to make in a very short amount of time.  We wanted to start the project as soon as possible.  We are playing "musical rooms," so our house will be completely different than its original state.  We are moving the kitchen and piano room and knocking out two walls to make a large dining area.  The addition on the back will house the new family room.  Moving the rooms allows each one to have more space.

In the past 3 1/2 weeks, we have settled on a floor plan and planned a new kitchen --including ordering new cabinets and appliances.  We spent last weekend emptying our family room of EVERYTHING, so that the new kitchen could be started.  We also combined the two boys into one small bedroom --lots of cleaning and sorting was required!  This allowed for access directly under the new kitchen for new water pipes, etc.
Here's the before and after of Brandon's room.  He'll move back in when everything is finished:

The family room (we had already moved some stuff out of it):

This will become the new kitchen:
The windows will be removed/changed and a doorway will be made on the wall 
on the right side of the picture at the far end.

Yesterday, the real construction began.  Meggan was the first to start the demolition!
This is where the new doorway will be (from mudroom into the kitchen):

I love how blogging can be like keeping a scrapbook of a project.  I am planning to document the process here, so look for more in the future.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Wrap-Up

This is a busy time of year.  Here are some pics of what we've been doing.

Byron and Ryan ran a 5K race.  They called after the race to tell us that Ryan got first in his age group and that Byron got third in his!!! (Then they told us that Ryan was the only runner in his group, and that there were three in Byron's.) They got the shirts they are wearing, but didn't have a great choice of sizes, as you can probably see. Ryan got the cup, since he won his age group. : )
Ryan has been playing soccer games on Sunday afternoons and practices a couple of times a week.  He runs and works out daily.  He enjoys reading a lot too.

Byron is trying to keep up with everything at home and work.  He's also trying to keep up with Ryan when they run together! The grass grows like crazy and we are never home to mow in the evenings. (We used to have a teenage boy who took care of our mowing, but he's very busy now.)
He works the home track meets as a timer and we split up a lot of evenings to attend the away track meets for Brandon and Ellyn--we need more co-ed meets, so we can all go together.

Brandon has been very busy with track, but has managed to find time for mushroom hunting. He is going on a mission trip to Panama this summer, so he has been working on fund raising for the trip. (Thank you for your generous donations!)  He went to two proms in April, which made for two busy weekends but a lot of fun. We helped host a progressive supper for one of the prom groups.  We fed dessert to 18 kids at our house. It was fun to see all the kids in their formal clothes.

Brandon is on the far side in this picture (just finishing 200m in first place, his teammate in second):

Ellyn went to Rosebud Indian Reservation with another family for Easter. They served a meal and hosted an egg hunt. She loved on a whole bunch of kids!  
She has also been busy with track.  She is preparing for her dance recital, but has trouble getting to dance class because of all the track meets.   
Ellyn is in red on the left:
Ellyn's shuttle hurdle relay team, she's second from the left:

Meggan has been keeping busy with softball, dance and theater class. She finished up her theater class with a performance this week--she is in the middle of the picture in brown (she was a groundhog):

I had a garage sale with some friends, and I'm wishing I would have gotten rid of even more stuff.
Meggan bought the fan in the picture, but I resisted the urge to buy this bridal veil... to wear if Byron and I ever renew our wedding vows. (tee hee)

A new project is about to begin at our house.  It has been taking an enormous amount of time.  I'll be posting about it in the future.
Here's a hint:

Happy May Day to you!