How to build a patio in 28 easy steps

Yesterday I posted a picture of our finished patio that George, some friends, and I built over three days last week. Now I am here to tell you how we did it.

Step 1: Mark out and measure the area. 

Our yard is on the side of the house, and it’s an L-shape. There’s a weird bit of sidewalk in the middle back from when there was a house there. Due to the boys playing soccer and Ziggy being Ziggy and other factors, there was an area next to the back door that was dirt or mud, depending on the weather. So we marked out a rectangular area between the side of the house and the weird sidewalk bit.

Step 2: Order stuff

We decided on these brick-like pavers from Home Depot called Holland pavers because they were on sale and I liked the look of them. Woot! Arranged for them to be delivered because, uh, we needed a bunch.

We also needed sand, so I did some googling and found a local company to deliver a truckload of concrete sand. Thank goodness they had a handy dandy calculator on their website to figure out how much we needed. Feel very adult-like.

Also buy a case of beer with which to bribe friends with so they will help. Go back to feeling like a college student. Continue reading

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Ta dah! {brick patio!}

A week ago, this was basically mud (or dirt, depending on the weather.) But now, thanks to the help of friends and my parents (who took the boys for a few days) we have a lovely brick patio!


Naturally, this photo was taken very carefully so you can’t see the piles of dirt and sand and shovels everywhere. I’ll save all that for the post I’m planning about how we built it.

But for now I’m going to enjoy the nice evening with my back to the mess.

15 years ago today I ran really far

April 2002 was a pretty big month.

On the 14th, my friend Chris and I ran the London Marathon. It was my first marathon (of two, I did the Marine Corps Marathon in 2003) and wow, it was a long way. I’m really slow, so also it took forever (just a few minutes shy of 6 hours.) I mean, when you think about it, it’s basically way more impressive than someone completing a marathon in 3 hours. OH SURE FAST PERSON I’D LIKE TO SEE YOU RUN NONSTOP FOR 6 HOURS.

My second marathon was a huge improvement. I think I shaved a whopping six minutes off. You can see why I stopped running marathons. I just didn’t have time for it.

Anyway, it was pretty cool. It’s why I started blogging, after all. I wrote about training and so you probably don’t want to go back to my earliest entries, they’re pretty darn dull. Gems like this:

Anyway, we decided that we’d go twice around the park (a total of 3.54 miles) to try to figure out how long it’d take us to do the 5K (which is in 3.5 weeks now). So I started my watch after we had walked a bit, so I figure I timed about 3.25 miles. Which took us 45 minutes. So I guess it’ll take us around, oh, 43 minutes to do the actual 5K.

Zzzz. Somehow I made some friends online via my blog, which seems unbelievable since blogs weren’t really a thing yet. But Chris and I had dinner in London with a bunch of British people who were also running the marathon.

Proof:

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(Well, if you take my word for it that the guy on the left is someone I met online while training for the marathon.)

Anyway, I won’t go into great detail about the race itself (I did that here already) but just a few pics because I’m nostalgic like that?

And YES that is a bright orange fanny pack, thankyouverymuch.

Later that month, when Kristina and I went to a British pub in New Orleans to celebrate my finish, I met a guy, so yeah, that ended up being kind of a big month.

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Vintage skinny us.

 

Melbourne (before I forget)

Dealing with constant sickness since I got back from Australia means I haven’t been able to finish blogging about it. So without further ado, a recap of our short time in Melbourne.

On the flight from Auckland, Deborah made friends with a Finnish triathlete who lived in San Francisco. She shared our taxi with us to our hotel, the grand old Hotel Windsor. This hotel was cool. It was old and the hallways were hella creepy, but the rooms were updated and very clean. Plus, they had a menu where you could order different types of pillows for your bed. FANCY!

But the long hallways also reminded me uncomfortably of this:

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Right?

More hotel pics:

After we were checked in, I went to go visit Deborah’s room, and from her window I spied a rooftop bar across the street with Pimms umbrellas. SOLD! So we went over there for dinner and a pitcher of Pimms. Continue reading

Cough, cough, cough (times infinity)

Other suggested post titles:

“The Sicklets”

“Whooping it up!”

This has been a terrible year for sickness. I don’t know why. I thought the boys got all the sicknesses out of their systems when they were younger. We had a great run of it for a few years, but this year has been constant. There was the coughing and asthma from the fall that lasted three weeks, then the barfing in the winter, and now this.

“This” is Whooping Cough. Wait, what year is it? 1938? No, it’s 2017, my kids are fully vaccinated, and they were diagnosed the other day with pertussis, more commonly known as Whooping Cough.

Well, I say “they.” Not really. But let me go back to the beginning…

February 28, Mardi Gras day: I took Oliver to a parade, but George called me because Miles had a fever. We headed home and I took Miles to Urgent Care, where he tested negative for strep (which was my guess) but was given a z-pack (azithromycin) anyway. The doctor thought it was some kind of throat infection.

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Infecting the whole Smoothie King Arena at the twenty one pilots concert!

March 5: Oliver has been coughing a little bit, but it’s not terrible, and I go to Australia/New Zealand.

March 15: I arrive home, and Oliver is still coughing.

March 16: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing.

March 17: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing.

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Spreading disease at the Aquarium!

March 20: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing.

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Ha ha ha ha ha yeah like that was gonna help.

March 21: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) because of coughing. I take Oliver to the pediatrician because his cough is not getting better. But he’s showing no other symptoms. He had a very mild (like 99 degrees) fever, though. The doctor suggests maybe it’s a post-nasal drip from a sinus infection, so she prescribes a z-pack.

March 22: I have to work at a conference in town, so George stays home with all three kids.

March 23: The boys go back to school, and that afternoon I triumphantly post on FB that I didn’t have to pick up anyone from school! My triumph is short-lived, though.

March 24: I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up all three because of coughing.

March 27: Me and the school nurse are buddies by now. But the kind of buddies you dread hearing from. I really do like her. But I hate it when she calls. When I go pick up Oliver, she says, “this is going to sound crazy, but it might be Whooping Cough.” I poo-poo the idea. He’s vaccinated, after all!

March 28: I volunteer as a chaperone for a field trip in Miles’s class. This way I know I can give cough syrup midday to all three, so maybe we can make it through an entire day again! I dose up Miles and Oliver, but when I get to Linus’s classroom, he’s already been sent to the nurse’s office. Sigh. I take all three home.

March 29: I keep all three home from school. WHAT’S THE POINT? Meanwhile, I desperately make an appointment with the pediatrician, who agrees it can’t hurt to test them for pertussis. That afternoon, we head to Children’s Hospital to get the test. It involves shoving a thin tube up the boys’ noses after squirting saline up there. There is a surprising amount of laughter while they have it done, even though it’s definitely not pleasant.

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At the doctor’s office. Notable because they’re reading!
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Waiting to get a tube shoved up their noses.

That evening, I get a call from the doctor. “Are you sitting down?” she asks. “Linus tested positive for Whooping Cough. The other two were negative for that, but positive for rhinovirus.” (Which is just a cold.) Dr. Google had already told me that the treatment for pertussis is a course of antibiotics. As it happens, a z-pack. We realize that must be why Oliver tested negative – he had a z-pack the week before!

But what about Miles? We were going to have this in our house forever. Do you know pertussis is called the “100 day cough”? Yeah, I believe it.

But then it hit me – Miles did get antibiotics, for the mysterious illness he had on Mardi Gras day! It’s only a theory, of course, but it makes sense…Miles was Patient Zero! We got, dare I say, lucky, that we treated him unknowingly. And correctly. Never have I been so glad that the boys have a penicillin allergy! Z-packs FTW! And Miles finished his antibiotics before he went back to school after Mardi Gras break, so at that point he was no longer contagious.

So here it is, March 31. Linus is on antibiotics. I am on antibiotics (preventative.) I sent Oliver to school this morning because he seemed to be feeling okay. (And is no longer contagious as he finished his z-pack already.) But right on schedule…

I get a call from the school nurse. Need to pick up someone (I can’t keep track) Oliver because of coughing.

When I go to pick him up, the nurse’s office is filled with third graders. Earlier today, I got a call from the state Department of Health about the whole situation. I’m really glad they’re tracking it and everything. But it really hit home when I got to school to pick up Oliver. Every parent of a coughing third grader was getting a phone call with a recommendation to start antibiotics. If they weren’t vaccinated, they have to stay out of school for 21 days.

A little while ago, a letter went out to the whole school saying there’s an outbreak of Whooping Cough in the third grade. Ugh. We’re not named in the letter but it’s obviously not a secret since I’m blogging about it.

I feel irrationally terrible. I know it’s not our fault. We had no idea. We don’t know where we got it from. We vaccinate our kids. We get vaccines ourselves. Who would have thought we’d come down with some preventable disease? But we have friends with small children. The boys were at school all month with this. They’ve been in public. They’ve played with friends. We went to a one year old’s birthday party!

We may have weeks of coughing ahead of us. It’s “only” been four weeks. We could have another month of this.

Here’s what our house sounds like now…

Send wine.

Auckland time!

Sorry for the delay, have been catching up on work and life and sick kids.

So I left off with us leaving Sydney on Friday. We had breakfast at the airport (Beckett said it was the best eggs benedict she’d ever had) and then got on our flight to Auckland.

You know, when you are flying from Australia to New Zealand, you think “oh, that’ll be an easy jaunt, it’s so close” but then you realize it’s a) not as close as it looks on a globe and b) another country. So the flight was almost four hours but since it was international, we got a meal and wine. Score! (But it also means passport control and customs yet again.)

So anyway, we watched La La Land on the flight, ate some reasonably yummy airline food, drank some New Zealand wine and then landed in Auckland. We got in a cab to get to our airbnb and proceeded to sit in gridlocked traffic for an hour and a half. The traffic was due to torrential rain that was causing…I dunno, flooding? Or just bad driving? In any case, our trip took three times longer than usual so by the time we got to the airbnb, we were tired and missed the speaker dinner.

Welcome to Auckland!

Continue reading