Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brick Roads . . . in Yellow and Red Varieties

I hate The Wizard of Oz.  I don't really know when this extreme hatred began, but I know it had something to do with an uncanny fear of Munchkins.  It's just not my favorite movie.  Nothing about Dorothy pining away for her Auntie Em ever thrilled me.  In fact, the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," despite singing it on occasion for Junior Miss, doesn't really do it for me either (unless it's that fabulous island version--that completely redeemed it for me).  That is why when I first heard about this show, and its connection to the original story, I was somewhat skeptical: 

That was many moons ago;  I was in college.  Then I heard the soundtrack.  I have been dying to see this show ever since.  Well, last Thursday my fondest dream was achieved.  We went as a family to see the show in Durham, and it was all I hoped for and more (with exception of Fiyero being played by a chap who was just a bit too femmy to convince me he actually enjoyed kissing Elphaba).  Speaking of Elphaba, her voice was fabulous.  The star of the night though, was Glinda.  Hysterical.  We had a great time at the show, and an even better time listening to my father-in-law place our drive-through order at McDonald's afterwards. 

Here's the crew before the performance.  It was The Saucer's first Broadway show, and judging from all of the spinning around he was doing during certain numbers, I'm guessing he enjoyed it too.  (Although, I think he's already pure boy.  During Ironman II he didn't stop moving the entire time.)   

We've also been keeping pretty busy with home improvement projects.  Last year all of our time and money was consumed fixing up the interior of the house.  This summer, we've shifted our focus to the outside.  I'm hoping to eventually lessen our neighbors' embarrassment of having to live next door to us once all of the projects are complete.  It is definitely a WORK IN PROGRESS, but we've made a lot of progress thus far. 

Last weekend, Chad and I spent the morning moving pavers around the lawn, trying to round off our flower beds.  Our flower beds in the beginning were very boxy and close to the house.  I am LaVar's daughter, which means in my mind a straight line has no business in a landscaping plan: 

I know they still look awful, because we haven't brought in topsoil or planted anything yet, but I think it is already a vast improvement.  The house looks so much more cozy from the street.  I keep envisioning meticulously groomed flower beds (not sure who's going to be grooming them, since we're about to have a new baby and can't afford a gardener, but one can dream).  I am really hoping that by next summer people will be driving by in awe, stunned by the massive change.  

Maybe it was Wicked's reminiscing about the yellow brick road that got us motivated, but we also were able to finish our brick path this weekend.  This project made me feel two emotions:  extreme joy and extreme guilt.  Joy because it looks beautiful and I am in love with it, and guilt because I think there is a woman in Moses Lake whose yard probably looks a royal mess thanks to me.  When I was in high school, my friend David Price and I were hired to put in a brick pathway for a woman in our stake.  She is a saint, which makes this story even worse.  Neither of us had a clue what we were doing, but we were cheap labor, so there you go.  I knew we didn't know what we were doing then, but after working on our project now, I REALLY know.  

First of all, meet this little man:     

This machine floats across the sand after you lay it and vibrates a trillion-something times a second.  It's supposed to pack the sand and help level the ground, so the bricks don't become an uneven, shifted mess in a few years.  Yup.  Definitely didn't use one of those the first time around.  Come to think of it, I'm not even sure we used sand.  Whoops. 

Anyway, on a happier note, when you do your YouTube research, and ask a professional brick layer's wife for advice, you get the machine.  After the sand is packed, this is what it looks like (notice the landscaping fairy I mentioned in a previous post ready for action on the right):

This shot doesn't quite do it justice, but in my opinion my yard has looked like a piece of art you might view at the Tate Modern for over a week. Most of the bricks came from the original path. We dug them out and hauled them (I did a lot of that myself with the help of a Piggly Wiggly bag over Spring Break). We bought the rest for dirt cheap on Craigslist.  Notice all of the bricks stacked in obscure piles all over the yard.   Nice.  I'm sure the neighbors have been loving us, as has all of Kinston as they drive by our house.

Here's another source of guilt.  See that little yellow bar?  The one on top of the 2x4 that my husband and father-in-law are dragging through the sand?  You know, to make sure the sand is level, before we start laying bricks?  Hmmmm . . . don't recall using that the first time around, either.  I think we solely "eyed" things to make sure they were going well.  Her pathway looked nice when we were done, but I can only imagine what condition it is in now.  Oh, Sister Nelson, I am so sorry.   

Then, after leveling, sanding, and pounding, and leveling, sanding, and pounding again, it was time to start laying the bricks.  Despite the fact that there are no pictures of me working, I would like to inform you that I did participate in this entire process to the best of my ability.  You know you live in a small town, on a busy street, when your Nana-in-law gets a phone call telling her, "Your granddaughter-in-law is out there pushing a wheelbarrow and her pregnant self has no business working in that yard!"  I will say this about the baby belly:  it makes everything feel so much more difficult.  I am so thankful, though, that I've been healthy enough to still do so much.  I have been really blessed.   

By about six that evening, the gentlemen had finished the project, and I think it looks amazing.  Feast your eyes on our "red brick road" that now leads from our front door to our driveway:

Ignore the terrible state of the grass.  One step at a time, folks, one step at a time.

This pathway is evidence that my husband loves me.  This project was my idea, and it is what I wanted.  Chad's very valid point was that it would be less work, less money, and look fine to leave the path where it was.  Even though he wasn't thrilled with the idea, he indulged me (like he has done with so many of the projects we completed inside the house).  While I helped the best I could with the project, the majority of the work definitely fell to him and his dad.  My sorry, pregnant self couldn't do the digging and hauling that my non-pregnant self could have.  I am so thankful for the hard work he put into it, and for the help we received from Chad's family to unload bricks, dig, and finish the project.  Last night I kept peaking out my windows to look that beautiful thing.

Lastly, here's the project that we're in the middle of at Joy and Bruce's:    

This year we have planted a KILLER garden behind their back yard.  Bruce has been working like a crazy fellow.  Aside from helping with the initial planting, I am not going to lie, I haven't done much.  I think it looks beautiful, though, and I can't wait to savor fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. 

And, here I am, at almost 29 weeks:

My pregnancy is going by so quickly.  It's hard to believe that in another 11 weeks we'll have a new addition to our family.  I know our lives are about to change in a huge way!  As much as my changing body has not thrilled me, I am so thankful for the chance I have to be our little guy's mom.  Sometimes, when I watch the numbers climbing on the scale it gets easy to feel depressed, but then I remember how many times I cried and prayed for this opportunity.  I am so thankful, and feel so greatly blessed.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Prom Night

Chad and I were mistaken for high school students when we stopped by the grocery store on our way to chaperone the prom. To quote the checkout lady: "You are the chaperones?!?! I thought you were two of the kids!" Chad even neglected to shave, hoping the facial hair might add a few years. He was hoping not to be mistaken for a high school student. I guess it didn't do the trick. Neither, apparently, did my growing abdomen.

Here I am at two days shy of 27 weeks:

It was baby's first prom, and Chad's first prom (since he was super lame in high school and refused to go to his). I won't complain though, since I got to be his first prom date.

It was fun to see my students all dressed up and well behaved. Chad and I went out to eat with a bunch of folks from my department before hand, which was also fun.

I am so thankful it's May. Summer vacation's just around the corner!
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