Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rainy Weather Ahead

Since arriving we've heard about the semi-drought conditions that this area has experienced for awhile.  From the low levels of the lakes I can see what they are talking about, however, after years of living in Southern California, we have experienced more rain in the few months we've been here than over years of time at our old home.  Of course the land here is designed to absorb the downpours whereas the former location would have been overwhelmed and flooded.

Yesterday after a busy day of getting things done around the house the kids and I joined Jennifer on a trip to the library while Kevin and Patrick stayed here to paint and clear out some of the overgrowth in our front yard.  I'll have to make a point to take pictures at this library because it is a really wonderful facility with SO MUCH for the kids as well as having excellent resources for us older "kids".  The day stayed beautiful as we finished here then went to Pat and Jen's for an afternoon swim and BBQ.  Kevin and Patrick finished up and joined us there and we had a great evening together.

Once back home though is when the skies opened up and the rainy weather the forecasters had been warning of moved in.  We had lightening and thunder and the skies opened up and just poured!!  Kevin and I needed to run to the store and were drenched, despite the umbrella, when we attempted to leave there and get our purchases home.  From these downpours we've realized a necessary addition desirable for our home, GUTTERS!!  It is really bizarre that in Southern California where the rain is more an anomaly practically every home has gutters.  Here where rain is just par for the course in the life of this land, there is a strange absence of these useful devices.  I've included some photos of a previous rain downpour we experienced here to show what I'm talking about.

Our front yard with rain coming off the gutterless roof as it pours outside.

To step outside of our house during a rainstorm is to invite an instant shower as the water literally pours off our roof and without a gutter to catch and channel it away it flows on to anything that's directly below.

So with a week of  thunder storms forecasted I think it's an opportunity to make our plans for laying out  an effective gutter system for our home and one that will eventually include a rain catchment system for taking advantage of the plentiful water that does fall when it rains and storing it for use in our future garden and landscaping projects. 

In the meantime we'll huddle inside and watch it come down or duck and cover when it's necessary to go out.  Have a great day, staying dry as we enjoy all this liquid sunshine!!


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another Family Day

Our day began yesterday with the guy from the garage door company arriving to install our new door. He made pretty quick work of it and I'll share the finished pictures once we put the trim up we want to install.

Kevin got the garage cleared out and garage door is ready to install.

Kevin's brother Patrick and his wife Jennifer took her aunt to the airport and then were heading over to Disney's Animal Park.  We stayed there 6 years ago when we flew to Disney World for a visit. After the garage door was installed we decided to drive over to meet Pat and Jen at the park and finish our day exploring the Animal Kingdom.

Entrance to Animal Kingdom

Six years ago we flew into visit Disney World and stayed at the hotel at this park.  Hannah was not quite 3 then and Cameron was 12, Amber was also still at home and came with us.  So being there yesterday with Lauren for her first time and having Aunt Jen and Uncle Patrick was so different and really a lot of fun.

We started our tour of the park taking a nature walk where the girls were thrilled with all the animals and close up views or interaction with them. We saw a lot of pretty colored fish in large tanks and ponds.  A couple of ducks that seemed to be performing for us in a large tank where they were inches away from them.  A family of gorillas with dad taking an afternoon snooze and mom and baby treating everyone to a view of them.

From here we headed to the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride and took a really fun and BOUNCY safari ride seeing lots of great animals as we travelled through. The girls oohed and ahhed their way through this ride.

Next we took a train ride to the research and care facility where we checked out the animals on display inside, the girls had their picture taken with Rafiki and then headed out  to the petting zoo outside.

Our next area of exploration was "Asia".  We arrived as a parade was just coming to the end, so we caught sight of and waved to Mickey before entering the various lands represented by Disney's designers.  There were buildings designed to look like areas of India, then as we moved on past the "Tree of Life"  we arrived at the area and ride called Everest.  I'm always impressed by the detail that is on display at these parks.

Disney's Mount Everest

After moving through this land where we didn't do any rides just looked at the sights, we arrived in Dinoland.  Here we rode the ride that is supposed to take you back in time to retrieve a dinosaur and bring it back with you. It was fun and Lauren who was sitting with Pat and Jen behind me was squealing with delight at each twist and turn.

The girls had stamp books given to them at one of the teaching stops where you have interactive talks or activities to learn about plants, animals or dinosaurs in the various land you pass through.  So they participated in these and got all but two stamps filled on this trip.  Will have to complete it on another visit.

After our last Disney visit when we found all the restaurants so crowded,  Pat and Jennifer had thought to make reservations so we could dine at the Rainforest Cafe and enjoy a nice dinner before it was time to head home. Again the fish tanks were incredible and kept everyone entertained as we waited for our table.  Then as the animals "come to life" and the rain storm sounds could be heard at various times throughout the meal we all enjoyed "dinner and a show" as Hannah announced on the first of several of these events during our meal.

Our day ended a bit earlier as this park closes at 7 PM.  It  was perfect though, and we all really enjoyed another family day out.  We'd thought to buy strollers after our last Disney trip so that piggy back rides wouldn't be necessary.  Both girls did really well with all the walking and with the exception of a brief ride from Dinoland to the restaurant they managed to walk the majority of the time.  Still best to be prepared!!


Monday, April 22, 2013

Cameron's Shed/New Room Arrives

On Friday Cameron's soon to be new living space arrived on a trailer.  I've shared before that we ordered a 12'X20'  shed that we will convert into a mini apartment for him.  The basic shed was delivered late Friday afternoon and is scheduled to be inspected by the county tomorrow.

Once we get the go ahead from that we will begin the process of adding electric, water and connecting to the septic system for building out his studio style apartment there.  I'll be posting as we make our progress on this, but for now he's very excited that we are moving closer to the reality of having his own room.

The shed arriving

It was amazing watching how quickly these two guys backed the shed in, moved it into place and off loaded it, then leveled and secured it down with very long stake tie downs that the county requires for high wind protection. This is what will be inspected tomorrow so we can get our paperwork sign off and get to work making it a real living space.

Shed being leveled and then after blocks were added it was secured with very long stakes through the interior side pieces.
The shed's exterior was the "wood look" required by the county because of the area we are located in.
Truth be told I'm not as happy with the exterior appearance as I would have been just to have it match the look and color of the home.  So I'll have to figure out what I'll do to soften the exterior appearance and have the two buildings blend together better.

Shed set and secured.

The interior space.

This Wednesday we are due to get our new garage door installed.  We're looking forward to that too, as our new door will function properly.  The current one was damaged in the past and doesn't open very well and the opener doesn't work at all.  The new one will be fully insulated and will have windows that will help with noise, temperature and a good light source.  A new opener will also be installed so as we clear the garage out we can actually begin getting our vehicles inside!!

The progress of settling in continues.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Sunroom Complete, Time to Celebrate

On Tuesday the guys we had converting the screened porch to a sunroom came to work on it.  They got the windows and doors in along with all the insulation.  Then on Wednesday returned to finish the wall panels and put the dog door in. 

Screened porch before

Screened porch before, view from pool area
Sunroom support frames going up
Our Sunroom on a truck

Windows going in

More Windows in

Complete - view from side door towards pool area window and door

Sunroom complete - after picture from side of house near Hannah's room

Sunroom complete - back of house view

Kevin putting fan up

Cameron getting fan blades together

Fans up, just need lights added - time to celebrate!!

Once they were done Kevin and Cameron put the fans up and our sunroom was done and ready for use.  The transformation is amazing and makes this space so much more usable.

As promised once the room was complete and the dogs could have a space to be indoors as well as have access to go out we celebrated by taking the kids to Disney World.  We started at downtown Disney where we walked around then went to guest services and bought our annual passes.  There was an annual flower show taking place at Epcot, so we spent the day walking around and looking at the attractions, beautiful flowers and topiaries and riding a few rides.

Girls at our arrival at Downtown Disney

Our whole crew in Epcot - First topiaries behind us

Epcot Ball

Festival sign and some of the flowers

Butterfly house

Tinkerbell topiary

Some of the butterflies in the building we had flying around us

Panda topiaries in China area of Epcot


Sales clerk showing her skills with the juggling sticks

Her demonstrating these for Lauren
Lauren's attempt to work these. It's a challenge!

Working with Hannah

Chinese dragon topiary

We visited all the countries represented around the park looking at the beautiful flower displays and topiaries, and later looking for a food place that was air conditioned and didn't have a horrible waiting list.  Seems everyone else had the same idea so while we enjoyed the flowers we weren't successful in our search for a cool (meaning air conditioned ) place to eat.


Lady and the Tramp topiary - just beautiful

Kevin in "Germany"

Me (Lynda) by my favorite character topiary - Grumpy

Part of our crew passing into "France"

Beauty and the Beast topiary by France

Cogsworth and Lumiere

Chip and Mrs. Potts

Tigger and Rabbit

Piglet and Eeyore



Peter Pan topiary on top of the castle

Captain Hook

Flowers as we head back towards the parks entrance

Girls are finally too tired to walk and hitch rides back to the parking lot

End of a really fun day.  Time to drive over to restaurants for dinner.

The park eateries were SO crowded we had to head back to Downtown Disney for dinner.  After enjoying a nice dinner and the very comfortable coolness of the Splitzville Bowling Lanes and restaurant.  We found our vehicles - this actually took a bit of effort, we had all been so hungry and determined to find a food place no one paid attention to where we parked.  Oops!!  Once in the truck, tired from all the walking and with full bellies both girls fell fast asleep on the trip home. This was the end of a really great day.

Today Cameron is really looking forward to the shed that is due to be delivered, so we can begin working on his living space.  Stay tuned - more to come!!