Home Sweat Home: Outside updates

I did spend three minutes trying to think of a more clever title but I just couldn’t come up with one. I’m open to suggestions. Also, long post ahead.

Remember when I took you on a bushy tour of our front yard and then a similar tour of our backyard? Well this is so unlike me but I told you I was going to get a few trees removed this summer and I actually followed through on that promise.

We had a tree guy come out and as one would hope, he knew a lot about trees. Erik can wield a chainsaw AND he’s a certified arborist so he taught me a quite a bit on his journey through our jungles.

We’ll start with the front yard. Let me post a Before picture to jog your memory:

He agreed the mammoth pine tree (more specifically, a blue spruce) had to go since it was sitting on top of the roof. Plus it was fairly ugly because it had been carved into over the years to keep it manageable, making it lopsided and goofy looking (which reminds me of how I looked after my breast feeding Amelie started to go awry but that is for another day and another post). A closer look made me realize it was also seriously encroaching our neighbor’s yard as well.

Erik’s guys had at it *claps excitedly*  What a difference, eh?! Unfortunately, removing this tree exposed our neighbor’s secret: they had painters come last summer but they only got the front of the house painted…

I am so excited that this huge tree is gone! Amelie was too; she thought the big trucks and loud chainsaws were fascinating. And so are big rocks!

How about a closeup?

It’s actually quite sunny back there just as I had hoped (although cloud cover had moved in when I went to take these pictures). Removing this dude uncovers ugly side yards for both us and our neighbor but maybe this the encouragement we will need to pretty it up. I’d like to plant flowers and hide our trash/recycle/compost bins back there and eventually Hubs would like a nice paver path leading to the back yard. At least this is a small step towards getting there.

If you scroll back up, you’ll also noticed another tree was taken down in the front. Erik suggested I remove the very tall but still young silver maple on the other side of the driveway. He had some favorites in the front (including an aspen and a linden) so he felt this fast growing maple would clobber those eventually.

Here’s another angle:

Moving right along, remember this beautiful picture of my “grand plans”?

Well, Erik had other suggestions. He recommended keeping the pine tree and only trim it slightly on the side near the house. He said it’s in perfect condition – growing nice and straight. I dislike the mess it produces with its needles and pine cones but I decided to take his advice and leave her be! As you can see, I also wanted to remove the smaller tree (noted on the left above) but Erik said that was a desirable tree – a linden. I’m glad we called in an expert because I seriously don’t know anything.

Instead, he recommended trimming the Big Tree (the one noted with a heart in the above picture) or officially known as a honey locust. I thought it was gorgeous with its fancy lime green leaves but it really isn’t the greatest tree to have since grows so fast and can die early.  There were a few dead branches overhanging the smaller crab apple tree so Erik’s guys fixed it right up.

 Should we move on to the back yard?

A couple big changes happened here as well. Do you remember the right side (next to the wasteland)? Here’s a picture to help you recall.

Erik told me that center tree was an ornamental pear tree, which he likes mucho mucho because it’s beautiful and drought resistant. He told me to keep it and I do what Erik says. He did, however, suggest we remove the silver maple (shown on the left side in the above picture) since it was crowding the pear tree. Here’s a Before picture:

This tree was big! Look at how high!

And, all gone:

Another view:

With that tree removed, the pear tree can breathe easy and enjoy more sun. It also uncovered a few tattered shrubs that might enjoy the extra sunshine as well.

Remember the funny strip of yard that led to our wonky hot tub? And remember that awful dead tree stump?

That came down!


The tree guys found it quite silly because they could literally push it over, it was so rotten. Glad to see it go!

Last but not least, we round the corner to the other side. We had two trees removed here – a river birch that was hounding a pretty red maple (Erik seemed to like this maple variety) and a dead Lombardy poplar.

Let me refresh you on where we started:

And our new plans:

Apparently, according to Erik, the shrub thingy living next to the not-living Lombardy poplar is used for cancer research. How cool is that?

And here are the trees removed:

And another angle:

Removing this trees made me notice a few other problems. I’m not in love with the pine tree that’s still there nor am I a fan of the neighbor’s grape vines overtaking that area.

Our plan is to leave them for the summer and after their harvest is over – I’ll try to do my best to return the grape plants to their side and trim back anything that won’t budge.

All of this tree talk got me understanding our back yard better. Our other neighbors to the back have two huge apple trees that hang over to our side. They drop a ton of fruit into our yard. The squirrels and the birds have a hay day over the apples. Seeing how we spent a few hundred dollars to encourage squirrels NOT to come over to our house to play, I periodically go and gather them up (half eaten and rotten) for the compost bin. Amelie has been helping me and yes, she tried to eat an especially gross one. Yuck! Also, the apple branches are so big and sun hungry that they reach across our yard and can almost touch our deck! I do love the foliage but next summer it might be nice to trim them back. They provide so much shade that the shrubs that line our side of the fence are doing terribly so that’s another reason to tame them. But that is for next summer and when we can get the neighbor’s permission. For now, I’m enjoying this huge step towards some flora sanity.

So how much did all of this tree work cost? We haven’t gotten the official invoice but it’ll be around $1300. It was certainly not a small project. Luckily we’ve been planning this so even though it was costly, I am glad we put a little money into the outside of the house this year. I’d still like to fertilize and get our deck fixed up with new railings, remove the walkway to the hot tub and get some boards re-secured. I imagine that will be spendy undertaking but we’ll see.

You know what else was a spendy undertaking that we didn’t plan for? Our new washer and dryer fiasco…more on that someday.

You made it to the end! Go get yourself an iced coffee as a reward.


My Amelie

AGE: 16 months

It’s been waaay too long since my last My Amelie post. Littles change so quickly that it’s hard to know what to catch you up on. I’ll do my best!

She *finally* has more teeth coming! After a few nights where Amelie was acting out of character, we realized that new teeth are on their way. We are excited – it’ll expand her food options considerably! Other than her new teeth, I want to mention sleep. Generally speaking, she has been a great sleeper. We put Dinasaur in the crib and she wraps her arm around his (her?) neck and lays right down to sleep. After many months of hard fought bedtimes, she is easy right now. I know that could change so I’m not taking it for granted! She sleeps from about 7.15pm to 7.15am, sometimes with a few wakes in between but she usually puts herself back to bed.

In the last few months, she’s had some flare ups with diaper rash but we have that under control. I suspected the first round, which was especially bad, was due to eating citrus fruits and this latest much milder bought was due to teething. Who knows though, poor girl!

She can woof like a puppy, moo like a cow, snort like a pig, hiss like a snake and say a few words: Dada, Mama, bear, and bubbles (she’s only said that once). She doesn’t talk much at all but she knows a lot of words. Although I’ll get sentimental sorting through her baby clothes prepping for BabyBoy, I really like this stage so much better than BabyVillle. I love that I can communicate with her and she understands. She helps me pick the apples that drop into our yard from the neighbor’s tree for the compost bin. If she spills, she’ll help us wipe it up. She puts her “bed time” nuk back in her crib when we ask. She grabs her shoes for us to put on. She “helps” us with putting on sunscreen – although she usually misses and smears it into her shorts or rubs it into her eyes…

She can also “jump”. Her feet don’t leave the ground but it’s about the cutest thing ever see her hop around the house.

Friends: She’s not overly social but she is big into sharing – especially with Daddy, other kids and her stuffies. She shares everything, including food that she may or may not have already put into her own mouth. She enjoys watching other kids and has been especially entertained when we’ve had visitors stay at our house. Her other friends include a growing posse of stuffies: Dinosaur*, Baby Bear*, Fox*, Lamb and Bunny. (*her favorites)

Activities: She demands engagement. I totally get how people’s houses get overrun with toys. I’m far from a collector but I’m willing to fill corners of the house with play things just to buy a few minutes of time! A neighbor down the street has an entire den dedicated to the kiddies. It’s a play place heaven! Thank goodness for folks like that; we’ll be making a play date soon. Amelie also loves books. She prefers being read to but I’ll catch her flipping through books on her own in her car seat or in the living room. I have always loved books so this thrills me.

Filling our mornings is still difficult but I’m slowly figuring out a list of options to spend time: the library story time (we never miss it), play places in town and at the mall, the local children’s museum, and sometimes I take her somewhere to run around like Target or Home Depot. I can’t do any real shopping but at least she enjoys exploring! It’s kind of weird to hang out in an aisle of Target at 9am following her all around but on especially hot days, it’s something to do.

I signed her up for gymnastics (starts next week!) and hope to get her into a swimming and music class as well. Everything costs lots of money but it’s worth the new experiences for her. I figure any money I make coaching (which is very little) will go directly to Amelie experiences: camp, classes, anything to get her out with other kids and learning new things.

She is a kind and inquisitive little lady. I think she’s awesome.

Baby Bump2 Update

Now that it’s finally official – I’m growing another human – I’m sure you can’t wait to be inundated with all things baby (again).  Should we let the nonsense and self-indulgence begin?

Main scoop: The biggest news since we last chatted is that we found out the gender…and it’s a boy! It took a little while to get used to the idea but I’m excited. Most importantly, the big 20 week ultrasound went super smoothly. I was terribly nervous but the ultrasound tech whizzed through everything and the doctor called us on our way home to say that BabyBoy looked “awesome”. I’m so thankful! Hubs and Amelie joined the fun and although Amelie was very busy during the appointment, it was nice to have us all together.

Here’s a pic and yes, I’m wearing the same pants as I was last time. They do not fit comfortably anymore and will be stashed away for the rest of the year!

 The Science: Baby Center recap – 22weeks. I have been feeling BabyBoy moving for a few weeks now. It’s such a weird/awesome feeling and it never gets old! Never, ever.

Body morphing: My bump really popped this week – I think it’s cute. :)

Sexy stuff! In the last month of so, I’ve been bothered by sciatica. I have this pain only on my right side by my tailbone and it’ll make me yelp or stumble if I catch it just so. It makes taking care of Amelie complicated. In general, I’m having trouble picking her up (especially from her deep crib), playing with her and doing diaper changes on the floor. Yesterday it flared up and I was hobbling around but today it’s better. I didn’t have this with my first pregnancy. I’m also still very tired but it’s nothing like the fatigue from the first trimester. It must be because I’m chasing after a toddler all day and high schoolers all afternoon?

Food drama: None. You guys, NONE. I am so relieved!

Exercising? Actually, I’ve gotten myself a little exercise. I’ve been running 1-2/week and I hope to continue as long as I can. Running feels very heavy “down there” and I’m always sore but it’s good to get out and move. I started coaching cross country this week so that will help/force me to be more active than I have been. I’ve been sleeping so soundly because of the exercise too – yay!

To Dos: Hubs bought a pack and play off of Craigslist today so that’s done! We’ll keep BabyBoy in that initially until we get the rooms figured out. Although it pains me a little, I want to consign Amelie’s outgrown clothes and start picking out boy stuff. Other than getting general house To Dos checked off like finishing all of my half started painting projects, I think our next big item is a new carseat for Amelie so the baby can use her old one. And just because I tend to be neurotic, I’ve picked out a few Christmas gifts already. Go ahead, judge me! I know I’m insane.

And randomly: It was MIL’s idea to make a reveal cake because we had family visiting when I had my 20 week ultrasound. My MIL baked it and I added the colored frosting and assembled it myself to keep everything secret. I must be honest, having them here made me even more fearful of the appointment. If we were to find out something didn’t look right, I didn’t want to come home to a house full of guests awaiting the news of the gender. I would have needed some alone time. Thankfully, there were only reasons to celebrate and having them in town made the day very joyful for me.

You can’t tell from this angle but there is blue frosting in the middle! :)

Just for comparison sake, I thought it would be fun to include my 22 week pregnancy pic with Amelie:

Until next time! Hopefully I can get my act together and post more regularly. I’ve been bad about posting mostly because I don’t want to get my picture taken. I never feel presentable. Rightfully so because I rarely shower.

The baby is a…

We found out the gender a few weeks ago. I’ve been meaning to tell you but I’ve been meaning to do a lot of things and not doing much of anything. Forgive me!

It took a while to wrap my brain around having a boy because:

  • Boy parts! Those are very mysterious.
  • We don’t get to reuse any of Amelie’s baby clothes and that makes me sad.
  • We are having trouble coming up with boy names that I like.
  • Girl clothes are ridiculously adorable to buy and think about. Boys clothes aren’t for me. (This is a stupid reason and I shouldn’t even mention it).

Basically having a boy is outside of my comfort zone. Anyone else feel this way?

Silly as it may seem, I bought an outfit for him at Target last week and that made me feel excited to meet him and smooch him. We’re having a boy. Whoa!


Raves & Faves: MAY

More (mostly irrelevant) Raves and Faves today. Sorry.

Here is my list of May loves. In other words, another chance to List thing-ys. *slow claps*

1. We had a handful of visitors come in May, but this little family stayed the longest.

A Mama, Papa and their baby birds made a home on our deck!

2. It took me a few listens but I really fell in love with this song. It’s oh so pretty.

3. This is a kind of weird product; it’s a lip exfoliator in lipstick form.

I threw one of these into my shopping cart during a recent ELF haul and have been enjoying it. I’ve been battling dry lips this summer…probably because I’m having such difficulty staying hydrated this pregnancy.

4. Tomato soup!

It was basically the only thing I could eat for a few months. Thank you, Campbell’s!

5. I know it’s not good form to wish away days. Life is a precious gift. But I’m being real when I tell you that I’m thankful that May is over. I was sick, crabby, tired and sad. Once May ended, little by little, the days started to feel better.

Only June and July to catch you up on! Fun stuff, eh?

Raves and Faves from long ago: May 2011, 2012, and 2013.