Monday, December 31, 2007

Gingerbread Cathedral

This Christmas I wanted to make a Gingerbread House. For Thanksgiving our family in Washington got together to build the houses together. I, of course, built mine from scratch using a template I found online. (here)But either the templates were off or the recipe I had was off. The result was a poor example of a gingerbread house. (I'll upload the picture when I get back home.)

In California at Erin's Mom's house I knew I would have some time to find a good template and a good recipe to make a great gingerbread house. I tried another template from the site referenced above, but the pieces didn't even line up in the cutouts, and everyone else's templates were too simle. Four walls and an "A"-frame roof is too boring for me. I decided to make my own. With a pencil, paper, ruler and some foam board I started to create my masterpiece for this year.

Cathedrals have great shapes and are usually very ornate, so that made the perfect idea for my house. After designing the church (loosely based on St. Pauls Cathedral in London, England) I needed to find the right recipe. I lost the recipe that I used on last years gingerbread house After going through two not-so-good recipes, Erin's mom found a great one. I was a little discouraged that I wouldn't be able to make the house because it was taking so much time, but finally I was able to get it done.

The resulting structure stands at over 1 foot tall with the Point of the cross at 20½ inches. The footprint is 12in by 17in and consumed two full batches of dough. Next it needs to be decorated, probably by Erin's mom. And lit up. I cut out places in the bottom to install lighting.

For more pictures, visit:

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Fun and Our Newest Nephew

I'm having trouble putting pictures where I want them, so these are backwards. Oh well. Here is Auntie Jackie with her nephew. Is he cute or what!?
Christmas Eve we spent with Joshua's family in Gig Harbor. We had fun visiting with the Muellers from CA. The highlight of the evening was the surprise gift to Joshua's folks ... all the kids chipped in for new reclining chairs! It was a lovely evening cut only slightly short by our trip to the airport. We had a late night flight to CA and arrived just before midnight. After sleeping in a bit, we had fun opening gifts with my mom and sister. Then we had dinner with some other family members and enjoyed visiting. Last but not least we spent Christmas evening with my dad. He has two new kittens that entertained us all.

Seven days after his due date, baby Caleb came into the world. After 17 hours of labor (yikes!) they decided to do a C-section. So, at 7:57 pm on 12/27/07 we met our 7 pound 4 oz nephew. He is too precious and he and mommy are doing well.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

13 weeks and feeling better

We have officially entered the 2nd trimester and I am feeling a whole lot better! Hooray! Now I only feel sick when I need to eat (which I still have no desire to do and am consequently at -5 pounds from pre-pregnancy). Yesterday was our last day of school for the year. My room moms threw an amazing party and I left with more gifts than I have ever had in my life! The children are excite about the baby and the questions have already begun. "Why can't I feel anything?" "How does the baby get out?" "Will you name the baby my name if it's a girl?"
On Monday we are flying to So Cal for Christmas, and hopefully to meet our newest nephew , courtesy of my brother and his wife. :) Today is the due date, so let's hope he's here before we fly back home! The fun is only just beginning ...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Blog Upkeep

I know we've been very bad at updating our blog. Thank you for not giving up on us. I've uploaded some pictures that we captured during the month of October. So much happend that month. Erin's birthday, Joshua went to the Albuquerque balloon fiesta, Joshua's birthday, and we carved a hole into the kitchen door for the cat to be able to eat his food in the garage.

Click here for all the pictures:

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Baby's First Picture

Introducing the newest member yet to join the Hardwick family! Here are the first pictures of our expected baby. We aren't going to find out if it's a boy or a girl until his/her birthday. So please allow us the luxury of assigning a sex on occasion knowing that we will be using it loosely and interchangeably. Because, lets face it, the baby is a person and not an "it". So the very first picture of her/him from head to tail is located below. He/she is upside down with the feet near the top. The doctor also took a video (which we'll receive later) where the baby waved hello to us.

We are very excited to be new parents, still wondering if we're ready for it I'm sure. Erin wasn't sure she was pregnant for the first month. As soon as the test rang positive, she became positively sick. I thought "morning" sickness meant it happend only after sleeping. Erin corrected me that like a day is separated into morning, afternoon, and nighttime; so the first trimester of pregnancy is considered the morning, hence the term previously mentioned. It really should be called "before and after sleeping, between meals, not-excuse-enough-to-miss-work, until-Jesus-returns" sickness.

Lately we've taken to asking people how they got more than one child, "Did you forget the pain?" "Yes" is often the reply. Some weird amnesia must go on in a woman's head once she holds her new child that makes her think "I could do that again." I'm glad I'm not a woman. Even if a file cabinet gives me a static shock, the next time I'll have somebody else pull files for me.

Oh, I almost forgot, the doctor offered a new benefit that's being tested at their practice. You can get a 3D modeling of your own baby after the sonagram. I don't know the benefit yet, but it was a pretty good value at $1,500 plus the cost of materials.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Joshua's 31st Birthday

I know it's been almost a month since my birthday, but I've got to blog about it anyway.

This year I wanted to have a birthday party like I remembered as a kid. Carving pumpkins. Usually when the family gets together to celebrate something we just sit, eat, and play cards. This time my sister Pattie was willing to let me use her house to have everyone carve pumpkins.

I went online and found some templates to use and we all made some pretty good looking jack-o-lanterns. And, yes, Blake is carving a green pumpkin. I recommend it as it really shows off the carving with it's contrast in color. However it was a very juicy pumpkin.

My end result? A scary looking tree with a bat flying overhead. Blake made a cool spider. Spencer's said "Be Swell". Mavric had a three faced pumpkin with stab wounds all around. Marisa and Chandler shared a pumpkin who had a delightful face.

Okay, now I'm all set to make my gingerbread house.
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

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The First Day of Our Fourth Year

So today was our third anniversary! Joshua is off working hard and enjoying the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. In his place, he sent his mom with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a love letter to my classroom. She came in and asked the kids to help her sing "Happy Anniversary" to Mrs. Hardwick. They sang away and when she left, one little girl asked me "Who was that?" At the same time a little boy asked,"What's Anniversary?" How sweet are they? One of the other boys explained that an anniversary was like a birthday for your wedding. A fine explanation I think! :) I ended my day with a strange (sans my husband), but nonetheless wonderful, anniversary dinner with the Hardwicks and the Graffes. Even better, now I have leftovers for tomorrow's dinner! As lovely as my day was, I am hoping that next year Joshua will be with me so we can celebrate together.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yard Work

Yesterday, we decided that we'd had enough with working on the inside of the house, and started focusing on our yard again. As winter is stepping in it's going to start raining soon, so we had to start burning all the debris that was on our yard. And when there are so many trees on the property that makes for a lot of debris. I invited my folks over to help, mostly because my mom likes to be part of a debris burning party.

We found out that we had a science experiment on our hands once the blaze took off. Apparently sound doesn't travel through intense heat. I could talk to Erin on the other side but my voice sounded like it was coming from either side of the fire, not through it. Try it out, it's really neat. (Disclaimer: I am not recommending that you begin a large fire on your property or anywhere else. Check with your local authorities, and apply for permits where neccessary. Be sure to contact the fire department 48 hours prior to setting your blaze. Unless you live in Gig Harbor, and can just create any fire however large at any time.)

You can see in the picture below how we already have a large pile to burn to the right of the fire. It was a perfect day to burn as it was a little overcast with very little wind so the smoke went mostly straight up. It rained the day before and again during the evening, with little to no risk of the fire spreading. However, I just checked and at 8am this morning it is still burning away with a visible flame after raining all night.

Many of you may remember that I love watching Little House on the Prairie. I thought I'd perform a little Pa Ingalls on the firewood leftover from the previous owners. But they left some horrible, knotty wood; although, I did manage to split a few. My dad gave me back my old maul that I used back in High School to help pay for mission trips for church. (I'm sure he'll call it his, but I don't see him using it again any time soon, so I'm keeping it.)

Not pictured is our cat, Six, who we let roam in the outdoors with us. His front paws have been de-clawed, so we don't let him out much and it shows. He doesn't let us near him when he's outside because he thinks he's in trouble and we'll take him back inside. At one point when it looked like he was trying to escape, he scoweled and hissed at me when I went to touch him. I backed off and he ran back into the house. As soon as he was just within the door, he calmly said "Meow." and I could pet him without fear of attack.
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New Cereal

So, I found my new favorite breakfast cereal lately (eaten with a side of fruit). It has all the grains and things to make a healthy body without all the artificial sugars. It's pumpkin, flaxseed granola, found at Trader Joe's. Then the other day when shopping at Fred Meyer (a grocery store with a healthy food section) I saw the same cereal sold in bulk for more than a dollar cheaper. I'm thinking, "A dollar and a half cheaper and less waste in the environment. It's like I'm getting paid to be healthy and greener for the environment." Upon this epiphany, Erin and I go purchase a tupperware container to fill up.

Once home, I realize, "Hey, this cereal is bigger than my head!"

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Breakfast Test

This is our first full weekend in our new house. So we wanted to have a fun breakfast together. But we really haven't gone grocery shopping since moving out of our apartment. So with our leftover ingredients we had buckwheat pancakes with bannana syrup and eggs. The egg carton said they were expired, but a trick we learned from the days of Mr. Wizard was to test them in water.

Here you can see a good egg and a bad one. (The bad ones float)

As far as progress with the house, we have decided not to scrape the rest of the ceilings. Or should I say, I won't be scraping any more ceilings, as Erin didn't participate. It made the whole house dusty, I'm sure we've ruined at least one vacuum, and my hands are dry and crackling. However, it was fun spraying the mud onto the ceiling for the orange peel texture. My friend Jared came over with his compressor to help out. Sorry there are no pictures, the camera was misplaced at the time.

Also, our current front door doesn't have a deadbolt. So I purchased a door-hole maker to do the job. But the drill bit broke off in the middle of drilling and left itself in the middle of the door. The door now is completely scratched up and looks awful. A quick trip to Home Depot and I returned the unlodged part of the drill bit and exchanged it for a new door. The new door is fiberglass with an ornate half-moon shaped window at the top. It's pre-hung so it came with a new door jamb and everything. I just have never installed one before, so I'm a little hesitant to start ripping a hole in the front of my new house.

I need to stop watching the DIY Network, otherwise I'll keep thinking that I can do all of these projects on my own. Next project, custom built-in bookshelves, new windows, sunroom off of the kitchen...
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Settling In

We are now actually living in our new house (hooray!) and hard at work on some updates. Joshua has expertly applied texture to the bedroom ceiling and painted it too. We finished painting our now creamy yellow kitchen. Today we intend to finish painting the bedroom so we can move our bed in. I have been lining shelves and cabinets all over so we can put things away - a slow but steady process. Six has made himself at home. He prefers our bed to any other spot in the house unless there is an open closet door or cabinet - then he heads inside for some privacy.
I have also been settling in at work. Have I mentioned yet that I love it? I knew I loved teaching, but somehow in the craziness of the last eight years the joy had faded away. I am happy to say that it is back and better than ever! It is so wonderful to have parents in my room helping out with everything they can - grading and filing, helping students, sharpening pencils, etc.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Moving Day

Yesterday was a whirlwind of moving fun. Joshua and I were up and moving before 6 (although he made me wait for breakfast and coffee until 8!) We got everything packed and ready to go. Surprisingly, this was the only time that I actually packed any boxes. Joshua packed like crazy all week while I worked on school stuff. One of my students gave me a gift card to Starbucks, so we treated ourselves to their new "warmed" breakfast selections. Not bad food, but for $15 we could have had a much better spread at a diner. Next stop - truck rental. Joshua found an amazing deal of $25 a day. Back at the apartment our moving crew was beginning to arrive (what would we do without family??).In about an hour and a half the truck was all loaded and we set off to the house. Marisa and I stopped to grab a lovely pizza lunch (can't beat Little Caesar's $5 deal). After a quick break we began unloading. In about an hour, we were done! I think that's got to be a record or something. The secret to our speed: everything is in the garage and not yet in the house. Not very convenient, but we can finish painting and ceiling scraping without worrying about covering our stuff. So now we are staying with Joshua's folks. Six is happy as a clam to be back in his favorite waterfront spot. Now we get to go back to our new home and try to find some clothes to wear this week ...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ceiling Scraping = Mess

So I thought it would be nice to scrape the icky popcorn off of our new ceilings. We put our nephew Spencer to work donned in mask and goggles. What a mess that stuff made! The whole house (and half the neighborhood) was covered in powder. Joshua took over to finish the task and he managed to keep the dust to only the one room. Take a look at Spencer the "snowman"!

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Let the fun begin!

Yesterday began our new home improvement projects. After a quick trip to the house to assess the situation, we headed to Home Depot for the first of many shopping trips to come. $500 later, we made it back to the house and started painting. We decided to go with a very pale color palette. So pale in fact, that you may see the wall we are painting as white. Nope. It's actually a light shade of purple for our master retreat. Today we are going back for more painting fun, and maybe a little yard work. Doesn't that sound better than a Labor Day BBQ? Maybe we should go back to Home Depot and buy a BBQ ... now that sounds fun!

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Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Official!

Today I went to pick up the keys to our new home! Can you believe it? It was not the happy moment I thought it would be - Joshua is out of town for the weekend and we aren't actually moving in until next weekend. This on top of starting school on Tuesday ... But I suppose that's fitting since it isn't the home I had been hoping for either. :) If only it looked more like this house...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Back to School Fun

I know it's hard to believe, but summer is quickly coming to and end and the new school year is upon us! I have been working like a mad woman to get my classroom all ready for my students. As hard as it is to start over with a classroom, I have enjoyed making it my own. Tonight was the back to school picnic - a fun, family event where everyone can get to know each other. The children had fun exploring our room and I had a wonderful time getting to know the families. We have more school supplies than I know what to do with and promises of parent helpers like you wouldn't believe! The staff at my new school are amazing as well. I feel like we've been friends for years! This is going to be such a wonderful year!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Our First House!

It's close to official. By Thursday of next week (one week away) we should be signing the escrow papers closing the deal. It's not exactly what we had in mind for a first home, but it is a stepping stone to better things to come. For the same money we could've purchased twice the home on half the land further out in the sticks. But as Erin always said, "It's better to buy the cheapest home in the best neighborhood rather than the biggest home in the worst neighborhood. And in the 98335 Zip code there are no bad neighborhoods. (okay, maybe there could be, but I'd still feel comfortable leaving the keys in my car.)

The home is just over 1,000 square feet with a one car garage. The garage is mostly finished so we can use it for living space.

The floors are real wood (I don't know the kind of wood, I'd like to say oak) throughout the dining, kitchen and hallways of the house. It's three bedrooms and one bathroom, and sits on 2/3rds of an acre. Our kids can ride their bikes to the second best elementary school in Gig Harbor, or if Erin still works at Lighthouse Christian School, they can go to the first best elementary school.

The living room is small but we have big plans to make it our reading room by installing some custom shelves beside and above the fireplace.

So many places to put our personal touch in this house and outside. The yard has some work to do to make it beautiful.

This is my first time going through the home buying process and it's confusing, frustrating, and quite stressful at all times. I'm sure many of you know how much Erin hates to pack and move; with that and Erin starting a new school year, life at home requires a little more patience than we've been giving it.

All in all, I'm excited for the new home. Finally something I can call mine and do whatever I want to with it. And with so much land I can build that garden I've been wanting, and composting center, and...

Friday, August 17, 2007

No News is Good News

I know everyone reading out there in Blogger world is desperate to know what we've been up to lately, so this post is just for you!
Summer is winding down so quickly - I only have two days left at the zoo! I've already spent a couple of days working in my new classroom. Joshua has been keeping busy with his work too. The rest of our time has been spent house hunting. We have an offer on a house in Gig Harbor and are awaiting the seller's response to our post-inspection adjustments. Don't worry, we'll tell you more once we know if it's ours. Joshua had inspired a new "toxic free" lifestyle which includes taking vitamins made only from plant sources, eliminating Sweet n Low ( I never thought I'd see the day...), and eating a low glycemic diet. If you'd like to more about it, ask him - he'd love to talk to you! We joined the new YMCA in Gig Harbor to continue our new healthy lifestyle, but it doesn't open until the 21st. We are looking forward to Zumba and ballroom dance classes!
Other than that, it's life as usual for us. Hope you enjoyed the update.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Trip to California

While Erin is reading about the last adventures of Harry Potter, I thought I'd catch you up on what we did last week.

It was our first trip back to California after moving to the green state of Washington. And sad to say, we didn't really miss our old home. We, of course, missed all our family. Which one-by-one, we'll get to move up to Washington with us.

Erin's cousin Alex and Grandma came to visit California too, from Albuquerque. It's always fun to spend time with them. Erin's dad brought us all to Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland, and do a whole lot of swimming with goggles.

Disneyland has been taken over by Pirates this year. Tom Sawyer's Island is now the Pirates Lair. With captain Jack sparrow signing autographs at one end and performing a stunt show on the other. You can search for lost treasure, or get captured by a primitive tribe, like us. The submarine ride was open, but with a two plus hour wait in line, we decided to pass on that adventure.

Erin's mom is always a delight, so much of Erin's humor is in her. I missed her a lot too. Jackie wanted us to have a late Breakfast together at a restaurant we don't have in Washington. I suggested BC Cafe for their great pancakes. But Jackie said that they have cockroaches and vetoed the vote in favor of Mimi's Cafe. Three days later, I had my BC Cafe pancakes. (They had an "A" rating on the window)

Maybe one of these days we can leave without mom getting a tear in her eye. Perhaps it'll be the day when she leaves with us.

For many more pictures of our trip visit our Web Album Page
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Spa Day at Seacliff

The first week of summer when the kids were all out of school, the Mason gals and I decided to go out for pedicures. After balancing the budget, we all decided to change plans. A picnic at the beach sounded much more reasonable. Joshua used to attend a "Vino Night" where the host kept a journal handy each week for guests to write whatever they wanted. He bought us our own journal for writing out thoughts and feelings. Here is Marisa compsing her entry for the day.
The day was slightly cooler than we had hoped, but nothing a long sleeved shirt couldn't fix. We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch of bagel sanwiches that stuck to our teeth, chips, drinks, and cookies for dessert.
Since the original plan was to get pedicures, I found an at-home version at Big Lots. For just $1, each gal got sandals and foot-shaped brushes with pumice on one end. I threw in a set of clippers, scissors, files, and paint and here is the result! Now we need to schedule a day for manicures ...
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Monday, July 23, 2007

Zoo Day!

A few weeks ago the Muellers came for a visit. The highlight of their trip (for me anyway) was a day at the zoo where I work. This is a beautiful picture of the entrance with majestic Mount Rainier in the background.

William was in charge of reading the map ... no wonder we got so lost! Ok, we didn't get lost at all since we had such a well informed tour guide. :)
William enjoyed feeding the goats almost as much as I did. Isn't the zoo fun?
This was not from the zoo, but I didn't seem to get any pictures of Mackenzie there. She loved watching all the animals! Here she is with something else she loves ... shoes! Hers, yours, left, right, it matters not to this little one.

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