In early December we surprised the kids with a trip to Elbe, WA to take the Polar Express to the North Pole. Well technically, our elf, Jingle, generously brought tickets for us. Silas has been dying to go on a train ride and we had heard lots of good things about this particular one, so we were excited to bring a little Christmas magic to our family. The ride featured all the characters from the movie, including dancing chefs who served hot chocolate and cookies. Then we arrived in the North Pole where we could see small elf houses through the windows. I bet you can’t guess who arrived on the train next?! It was Santa! He visited with all the children and brought the first gift of Christmas, silver bells from his reindeer! The kids were enthralled (well, the little ones were)! But even Avery and Kieron had great things to say about it. All in all, a fun night!
You wear PJ’s on the Polar Express!
Silas and his golden ticket
Who’s that on board?!
At Taco Time afterward – in our matching Christmas Jammies, no less!
As I write this we have been in our home just over a year. It amazes me looking back at this folder of pictures I’ve accumulated documenting the home improvements we tackled in such a short time. When we moved in in mid-November we had the interior walls and ceilings repainted and by the 28th we had a guy ripping out the counters and backsplash in the kitchen. Bright white quartz counters went in and then we lived with the walls in the kitchen torn up over the holidays. In January and February we hired John, our favorite painter who did our Bellingham house, to paint the kitchen cabinets the same color — alabaster — that he painted our last house. It was fun getting to hang out with him some more, he’s so nice! We also had a tile backsplash installed to tie in the kitchen and switched out some of the lighting. In April we had new front doors with windows installed, which completely transformed our entryway and opened up the house, allowing so much more light to stream in! During this time I also decided I could paint the bathroom cabinets alabaster if Jonathan would sand them. So that is what we did! Shortly after that we freshened up the exterior and had the shingles and trim painted. The rest of the paint still has a few years of life in it, so eventually we will do the whole exterior, but this will get us by until then. Once the weather warmed up Jonathan could do some sawing. We thought it would be pretty simple (and relatively inexpensive) to put up board and batten on the lower floor ourselves. After all, we still had a ton of alabaster paint leftover, so that was already paid for. I got the laser level out and started drawing on the walls. The board and batten did go up pretty quickly, but we drastically underestimated how much wall there was! Oh well, we got through it! And that gave Jonathan a lot of practice with the saw, which came in handy when it was time for our next project, built-in bookshelves. We started with the playroom, where there was already a cutout in the wall. Jonathan built three bookshelves over two weekends and then I primed and painted them. He installed them in one afternoon and then caulked and I threw on one more coat of paint and patched. Now we were ready to do the harder bookshelf installation, four 7′ shelves in Jonathan’s office with cabinets underneath and crown molding on top. Fortunately, I convinced Jonathan to do an Ikea hack and buy cabinets there and build the shelves on top. This made the job much simpler, and the end result looks more like a large piece of furniture. Plus we have some much needed vertical storage on either side. Once we completed these projects we were able to move onto the exterior and make improvements to the yard. I just realized I forgot to mention Jonathan also installed four new toilets, new flooring in the kids bathroom, an additional shelf in the family room, and a beautiful dining room chandelier. New carpets and refinished hardwoods are on our 5-10 year plan!
We spent Thanksgiving at Grammy and Papa’s this year. Uncle Scott and Aunt Manivanh drove over the mountains with Andrew and Nicole to spend a few days on this side of the mountains. We had a great time together and the kids had fun catching up. Avery and Silas stayed the night so they could help Grammy set up the Dickens Village on Friday.