Dec 16

Granite countertops step 2

16024279265 5b05482416 z Granite countertops step 2
Well after Kenny did a great job jacking up our old countertops it was finally time to bite the bullet and have the new countertops installed.  We had been debating back and forth between two different colors, Giallo Ornamental Extra and Thyphoon Bordeaux.  We finally decided to go with the Giallo Ornamental Extra, it was less expensive and also a more traditional color so we are hoping it will hold up well when it comes to resale value if and when we decide to sell our house.
15998507576 eb3e2da96c z Granite countertops step 2

We shopped around at about six different stores and found the best deal we could and made our purchase.  Our installer set up an appointment about two weeks away and then all we could do was wait.
15402025064 60899b6db3 z Granite countertops step 2
Finally they came out and got everything in place in under an hour.  They installed our beautiful undermount sink and got the hole drilled for our new faucet.  It was so exciting to see things fall into place.  It is still a little hard to envision without the new backsplash in place but it is one step closer to finished and we are loving being able to use our kitchen sink once again.  We are planning to do a natural travertine subway tile backsplash, something like this

travertine Granite countertops step 2

Hopefully you can use your imagination until we get the real thing in place.

Dec 15

McKayla’s Week 2

15412858543 f4d867dbfe z McKaylas Week 2
Two weeks old and such a little joy.  We are so blessed that God shared these two precious girls with us.  We feel so honored to be their Daddy and Mommy.  Even though it may not always be easy, they bring such smiles to our faces we couldn’t imagine life without them.  Knowing from experience that the first six weeks are kind of an adjustment period we are just going with the flow for now, nursing and napping and snuggling whenever it works to make us all happy.  I’m sure we will start to recognize a pattern to our day and get a schedule down but for now we are winging it and that’s okay.

Highlight of the week:

Karen- Spending my first full day ‘on my own’ with both girls.  Daddy was back to work, Grandma’s and Grandpas were back to their homes and it was just me and my little ladies.  It wasn’t my greatest moment as a Mom for sure, I don’t think McKenna took a nap and I didn’t eat lunch until about 3:30, but it was nice to know that I can do it!

Kenny- Watching McKenna and McKayla interact.  There is such love between the two of them already.

Product we’re loving:

Karen- The little baby bathtub we have borrowed from Julie and Neil has come in handy once again (we used it with McKenna too).  It is a great size, folds down for storage and is just handy all around.

Kenny- I get a lot of use out of our exercise ball.  Most people talk about ‘rocking’ a baby but our girls seem to love the up and down motion of bouncing so in the evenings while I let Karen catch a few zzz’s putting McKenna to bed I keep McKayla happy by bouncing.  Thanks again to my Mother-in-law for introducing me to this technique.

McKenna and McKayla Week 2 Picture

16024278675 e9fcde8840 z McKaylas Week 2

Struggle:

Karen- Sleep (or lack thereof) is always a struggle with a little newborn.  McKayla is actually doing pretty great in this department.  I get anywhere from four to seven hours of sleep (broken up throughout the day and night) but when I first wake up I always seem to think I need a little more.

Kenny- Things are actually going pretty great, the only thing I struggle with is finding time to do everything I need (or want) to do.  Grading papers, mowing the lawn, ongoing house remodeling, helping with the girls, we just run out of time for it all.

Picture of the Week    

15402025524 475a9e7cc0 z McKaylas Week 2

Something we’ve learned:

Karen- Even though I feel guilty for splitting my attention and taking all that focus away from McKenna, I am actually giving her the greatest gift I could EVER give her, a sister.  If their relationship is anything like me and my sisters they will treasure each other more with every passing year.

Kenny- Wait for the rain to stop before you go to the library.  We had planned all weekend to go to the library and when Sunday rolled around the storm clouds were rolling in too.  We finally got ourselves together, diaper bags, library books to return, everyone’s tummy full and diaper empty and strapped into car seats and a torrential down pour broke loose.  I mentioned that we should probably wait until the rain passed before we took off for the library but Karen was READY.  So we ventured out and by the time I got myself, our books and McKenna out of the car we were drenched.  It even started hailing!  Karen carried McKayla inside and we were so thankful for our car seat canopy which kept McKayla snug and dry.  I can’t say the same for the rest of us.

Quote of the week:

Karen- McKayla was laying on her little pod pillow on the ground and McKenna was snuggled up right beside her.  She gave her a sweet kiss on the forehead and said “My sweet McKayla, I love you.  You make me soooo happy” (oh my goodness, melt Momma’s heart!)

Kenny- McKayla was crying and I was reassuring McKenna that everything was okay.  McKenna said “she’s just saying she wishes I had brown hair like her”.  (I’m glad she can translate for us)

It has been a great second week and we are looking forward to many, many more!

McKayla vs Bear Week 2

15412858373 0e98a752dc z McKaylas Week 2

for comparison HERE is our update from when McKenna was 2 weeks old 

Dec 08

McKayla’s Week 1

1 Week Photo 

15358342334 af3795f722 z McKaylas Week 1

One week down and many more to come.  I have to say that life with a newborn the second time around is a million times less stressful.  It still takes a lot out of you but having been through it all before you feel more confident and competent.  We are having such fun with our new little doll girl!

Highlight of the week:

Karen- After DAYS of labor and contractions, FINALLY giving birth to our sweetheart.  Hearing her cry for the first time and feeling her little warm body in my arms is a moment I will never forget.

Kenny- Seeing McKayla born is such a special moment.  Actually witnessing the miracle of life is pretty amazing.

Product we’re loving:

Karen- Our little rock n play sleeper has been amazing these first few nights.  It really cradles her snug and helps her sleep for several long chunks at night.

Kenny- A handmade car seat canopy made by Karens Mom.  We have had to take McKayla out quite a lot the past few days to check her weight and jaundice levels.  With the weather so cold and drizzly it has been nice to know she is warm and snug in her little car seat.

McKenna and McKayla Week 1 Picture

15793321720 e64148f78a z McKaylas Week 1

Struggle:

Karen- The hardest thing I’m dealing with right now is splitting my time between my two girls.  I’m so used to showering all my attention on McKenna I feel guilty now that I need to focus so much of myself on McKayla.  I have to say that McKenna is handling it like a champ.  She loves her baby sister so much!

Kenny- Going back to work after a week off with my girls is hard.  I don’t want to miss out on anything.

Picture of the Week    

15954846116 2c85807201 z McKaylas Week 1

Something we’ve learned:

Karen- I’m learning to trust my Mommy instincts more and more.  It takes a while for my milk to come in and the doctor was getting a little anxious about McKayla’s weight gain.  She was just barely under ‘normal’.  The doctor suggested we supplement with formula but Mommy knew better.  We nursed and nursed and nursed as much as she could/would and as of today she is right on track.

Kenny- It’s easier the second time around.

Quote of the week:

Karen- Yayyyy!!  I’ve been daydreaming about you for days!!  (when the anesthesiologist walked in to give me my epidural after literally DAYS of labor and contractions) (more on that later when I post my birth story)

Kenny- “OMG you have a great looking family!!!!!”  (a sweet e-mail from the principals secretary at Kennys school)

It has been a great first week and we are looking forward to many, many more!

 McKayla vs Bear Week 1

15794884527 ee91332937 z McKaylas Week 1

for comparison HERE is our update from when McKenna was 1 week old 

Nov 11

Thanks to Veterans

Veterans Day Thanks to Veterans

My wife and I are truly blessed in so many ways, and one our blessings is living in a country that is grand, and with today being veterans day we just want to thank all those that  have, are, and will serve our country protecting us and the freedom that we cherish.  We were shown this video today in our veterans assembly at my school and it was too good not to share with you.  To all veterans and their families we thank you for all the sacrifices that you have made.

Image via

Nov 05

Montville Nature Trail: Great Sand Dunes National Park

15719880711 4323031b00 z Montville Nature Trail: Great Sand Dunes National Park
The Montville Nature Trail provides a nice little stroll located on the opposite side of the sand dune parking lot on the main park road.  At just over a mile this nature trail is right for just about any hiker.  The trail goes through a forested area for most of the trail which makes it great for a summer afternoon when finding shade is a good thing to do.  Eventually the trail will open up providing sweeping views of the sand dunes. 
15721799215 b2f169cf7b z Montville Nature Trail: Great Sand Dunes National Park
The Montville Nature Trail is also the starting point for the Mosca Pass trail which is a good place for some backcountry camping.  Check out the park website by clicking here for more information.  The start of the trail follows Mosca Creek and crosses it twice, and there is possibly a chance to see wildlife though I did not on my hike.  This is black bear country so be bear aware and the sign on the trailhead said that bears frequent the area.  Eventually the trail will lead to a slight incline where it will open up and provide some nice views of the dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. 
15536367038 9e0292fb2e z Montville Nature Trail: Great Sand Dunes National Park
I enjoyed the trail because it provided something a little different from the rest of the time I spent at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Since I did not have a 4-wheel drive vehicle when I was there the park is rather limited to the dunes area.  The Montville Nature Trail is a nice little trail that is great for young children to have a walkabout. 

For our other reviews of things to do at Great Sand Dunes National Park and area click here  

Montville Nature Trail
1.25 mile RT
Easy Level Trail
Around 30 minutes to complete

Nov 02

Trick-or-treat: Our Halloween Costumes

15697801775 e0f7b1a122 Trick or treat: Our Halloween Costumes
We kept our new tradition going even with my wife on “semi” bed rest and 8 months pregnant she with the help of her mother got our family Halloween costumes completed.  This year we went with a family pirate theme.  My wife Karen was a lovely mermaid with a wonderful treasure played by the newest member of our family who should be arriving any day/week now.  I was a pirate and if you are going to be a pirate only the Dread Pirate Roberts will do, and my trusty parrot sidekick acted superbly by my daughter M.  Who went around saying “Polly wants some candy.”

Hope everybody had a safe and enjoyable Halloween!

15511918779 90ae5369a2 Trick or treat: Our Halloween Costumes
To see last years family costume where we were a flower, a bee, and a honeypot click here.

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Oct 28

Jackin Up our Countertops

Karen and I have decided to make the big splurge and update our kitchen countertops.  We had several other cleanup projects to do, and when we learned that we could save $250 by removing our old countertops ourselves we rented a dumpster.  Now I am all for demolition, I usually have the problem of finishing the project after the destruction is done. 

IMG 7448 1024x682 Jackin Up our Countertops

So I was ready with my crowbar, sledge hammer, and other tools of mayhem when Karen had the wonderful idea to look up how to remove laminate countertops on YouTube.  I will say that I am glad that she did because somebody on there had the ingenious idea to use a carjack and a board to gently lift up the countertops.  It worked like a charm, made the whole process very easy and the best part, because I could keep the boards intact, there was very little cleanup.

IMG 7449 1024x682 Jackin Up our Countertops

It worked great for laminate countertops I am not for sure if it work for other types, but for us and the process of jackin up our countertops I give using a carjack two thumbs up.  It was quick, easy and stress free, the three words I wish I could use for all my household projects.     

IMG 7450 1024x682 Jackin Up our Countertops

To see our Kitchen remodel process click here              

Oct 19

Landscape Photography Number 13: Colorado River

11975476706 07c1efba4e z Landscape Photography Number 13: Colorado River

Number 13 is from an iconic spot in Grand Canyon National Park at Desert View. What makes this photograph stand out for me is the lone raven flying above the canyon.  The view down into the Canyon is nice but most people just stop at the tower take a little stroll to the left of the tower and you will get a better view overlooking the Colorado River.

Oct 16

Bumpdate (2): 32 weeks

32 weeks pregnant 2 669x1024 Bumpdate (2): 32 weeks
HERE is my 32 week bumpdate with M

How Far Along: 32 weeks!  Yay, it feels good to be that far along.  I read that if the baby happened to come at this point there is a great chance that they would be okay.  So, with my cerclage and always anxious of preterm labor, that makes me feel a lot more at ease.

Total Weight Gain/Loss: I am still right at 17 pounds gained.  I’m so glad it is less than when I was pregnant with M.  Not that I gained a TON that go around it’s just I’m already higher than I’d like on the scales, so if I can keep the pregnancy weight gain within reason and stay healthy then that is for the best.

Maternity Clothes: I haven’t had to buy anything new, but with the weather getting cooler I am enjoying some of my warmer clothes now.  I have several little cardigan type sweaters that aren’t necessarily “maternity” but they are still cute even with my belly bump sticking out.

Gender: At this point we have put off announcing anything for so long that I almost think we should wait until baby is born to announce “boy or girl”…..

Movement: I LOVE feeling this little lovebug kick and squirm all over.  There are certain times of day when baby is especially active, right around 4:00pm and then again around 8:30pm are SUPER active times.  I think baby is having a jazzercise class in there.  I also got to feel some hiccups yesterday.  I didn’t ever feel those when I was pregnant with M.  I’m sure they happened I just didn’t know what to feel for or expect.  This was a repetitive little twitch over and over again so I’m pretty sure it was hiccups.  So cute!

Sleep: I have been having a little insomnia on occasion but nothing too serious.  I can be so completely exhausted but once I actually get in bed it takes forever to get to sleep.  So weird!

What I miss: Well…. this week is the start of Fall Break for Kenny and we are usually packed and heading out the door on some great adventure but we have got so so so many things on our to do list and with me needing to stay off my feet we had to cancel any trips this fall break.  Bummer, I know Kenny is missing traveling but thankfully we are getting a lot done.

Cravings: I am still chugging decaf iced tea.  I think it’s a good thing because it is forcing me to drink a lot of (tea flavored) water which is always a good thing.  I am loving all things Italian too, spaghetti, lasagna, pizza…. it’s pretty strange because the last time I was pregnant I was NOT a fan of Italian food at all.

Best Moment this week: Moving M into her big girl room.  She was so excited and I am so proud of her for making that transition so smoothly.

Oct 15

Oh my oh my a Royals fan until I die

Royals Oh my oh my a Royals fan until I die
I usually do not talk about sports on my blog, but today is too good of a day not to.  My Kansas City Royals are back in the World Series.  Move over Amazin’ Mets there is a new team with an incredible story. 

I have been a Royals fan my entire life we would go and see them play a couple of times a year every year since the last time they were good.  My wife’s first baseball game was at the K and no matter how much my students and baseball players that I coached would make fun of me I would tell them that I am a Royals fan.  Of course, it was always the Charlie Brown approach to baseball and “just wait until next year.”  Well our year finally came. 

Some of my fondest memories of my Papa was talking to him about Royals baseball and how he would never forgive the team for not doing more to keep Bo Jackson away from the football field.   My family would go on our mini summer vacation at least once a year and watch a game or sometimes two and spend the night in the big city at the Doubletree hotel which when I was a kid was the greatest thing ever.   Another fond memory is the time my dad took me to a Royals game versus the Orioles got wonderful seats and a few innings into the game the skies opened up and the game ended up being rained out.  It was not the game itself that made it memorable it was the fact that I got to spend some one on one time with my dad. 

Even though there has been more downs than ups being a Royals fan as far as on the field product goes, I would not change those memories for anything.  Being a Royals fan to me is much more than just the wins and losses it was the memories built along the way.  Of course, when they are winning again it makes it all that more sweet. 

Image via 

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