Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Santa Express

I had an opportunity to buy tickets for the Royal Gorge Santa Express train route for 50% off explanation point! This is something I've wanted to do for several years now but the tickets are so pricey I could use the same amount of money to buy a small island in the Galapagos. Yeah, I've looked into it.
We waited to tell the boys until the very moment we pulled into the parking lot. This took a lot of effort, because both Evan and Dawson badgered us with questions from the second we picked them up from school all the way until we arrived in Canon City. A grand total of 50 minutes. (100 years in prison sentence terms).
 This train route goes all the way to the North Pole by way of the Royal Gorge. Of course it was pitch black outside by the time the train departed and this was something I hadn't accounted for in all of my excitement for this trip. Both Jason and Dawson have been on the Royal Gorge train route before during the day with no Santa, and I've seen pictures. It's beautiful. I guess I was paying for the exclusive appointment with Santa. Whatevs. I got over it.
The station was decorated and I'm a sucker for Christmas decor. Jason manages to allow me the honor of 2 tiny wreaths with no lights and a gaudy weathered red bow hung disparagingly on the night lights located on either side of the garage door. 
 Even the front of a people carrying train gets a better wreath than I do.
 This is the train car we got to ride in. We were on an upper level with dome windows that I discovered let in the same amount of no light as those losers who got lower level window seats.
 The kids were encouraged to wear their pajamas on this trip, similar to The Polar Express movie (a movie I have never seen all the way through because it creeped me out) but we picked the boys up directly from school and in my haste to pack clothes for them to change into, I overlooked this minor detail. I didn't overlook my need to wear the OMG SANTA Elf shirt that Jason got me last year for Christmas though. I saved the day.
 Gate 2 was our train access.
A nice lady was the gatekeeper and she kept the boys entertained while we stood and waited to get on board. 
Eventually the "conductor" came around and yelled ALL ABOARD! He checked our tickets and told us we could board.
I took the boarding process very seriously and got an action shot.
The inside was decorated and cute. 
When we found our table, an elf came by and I talked her into taking our picture. Elfs will do that if they aren't the scout kind. That comment will only be understood by those brave enough to have an Elf on the Shelf in your tattered, battle worn history.
 The entire trip is dedicated to kids. The kids are given coloring pages and a wish list for Santa. During the ride, an elf or two lead the kids in a game and they also sang Christmas tunes like Jingle Bells. 
Jason and I were given a menu and we could have ordered dinner, but we didn't realize that (we stopped and ate at a burger joint before getting to the train station.) We ordered dessert and later the elf creatures brought us free lukewarm hot chocolate and a cookie.
Most of the elf characters were high schoolers who were probably never involved in any sort of play acting at any point in their lives. Jason and I agreed that the company could take this fun event up one more notch by hiring small time actors. That being said, this elf was charming. She came around several times asking Evan if his wish list was ready for Santa.
After Evan completed his list, he wouldn't show it to us. But he did ask me to guess what was on it. I never guessed correctly, which helped encourage him to just break down and tell me what was on it due to his exasperation. I've tucked that tidbit way down deep in my cerebral cortex for a later date should I need to use it again. He told me his list was:
1. trampoline
2. love
3. a  new friend
Later, when Jason took the boys to the outside train car, I snuck a picture of his list.
The train slowed down. It was announced that we had finally arrived at the North Pole.
I took a picture of the official sign so that it could be proven in a court of law, should the need arise.
Evan stared intently out the window.
I present to you: The North Pole
We stopped in the North Pole and picked up Santa. The whole train car erupted in glee at this news, including me. I didn't wear my OMG Santa shirt for nothing.
He greeted each person individually. He checked each list and then gave the children a bell. (We won't discuss the slight agitation at the minor headache this caused for the return trip. After all, it's Santa.) 
 Jason got a handshake.
 I was a bit overcome by the celebrity and I think I missed my chance.
 I asked Dawson to let me get a picture of him with his bell. 
On the trip back to civilization, we played Santa Bingo.
Somewhere along the way, Dawson thought he got a Bingo and yelled it out. An elf came along with a small bag of prizes, looked at his bingo page and gave him a strange look but gave him a prize anyway. Jason looked at his page and said "Dawson, in order to have a bingo, you have to have five in a row". He said "No! It's 4 in a row!" Then he asked me. (It should come as no surprise that I'm the lead referee in our household, especially in matters pertaining to life and bingo). I told him that yes, you have to have 5 in a row and he felt bad, then immediately they called a square that gave him 5 in a row and he called it good.
 This concludes the Santa Express trip and my post about it, but I did ask Jason to get me tickets for a day that I could go in the summer during daylight hours when the train stops in Bermuda.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Project: A Kitchen Remodel

Sometime before the world was formed, Jason and I had a desire to remodel our kitchen. Yes. That's how long it takes us to actually accomplish stuff.
I set myself to finding luxurious kitchens on Pinterest that would only befit a millionaire and never looked at them again once they were pinned to my wall. I'm pretty sure this is what Chip and Joanna Gaines do too, they just don't announce it in their magazine because they don't have enough space to do so after all the ads.
Sometime in the fall of 2017, we realized we wanted the cabinets to be white and from there, we'd determine the color of the rest of the kitchen.
The picture on the left was taken on the day we were shown the house when we were house shopping and also how it remained up until about 4 years ago when the only change we made was to paint the cabinets an espresso color that technically looked purple. Not Barney purple. More like purple espresso. The picture on the right was taken last week when Jason was gone and I rid the sink and island of all clutter because it's an after picture and after pictures can't be cluttered. (Bylaws 2.3.11a)
Here are various angles of the kitchen taken at different times. 
Below is the kitchen taken from the downstairs living room on the day we were shown the house.
Same view taken literally 5 minutes ago when I realized I didn't have this view to share of the kitchen completed. Can you imagine if this were the 1800's? I'd have to wait months for my film to develop and then it would be Sepia!
This is nearly the only picture I could find of the kitchen showing the mocha colored cabinets. If you'll pay careful attention, you'll notice I took the picture because I wanted the memory of the time that Evan opened the towel drawer and proceeded to place them all in the sink for reasons I still can't fathom. Toddler brains are so complex.

As you can see in that picture above, the sink was a splendid version of crappy laminate, original to the house with stains and chips. While many other homeowners out there may have found the 80's style of ugly to be sentimental... I did not. So therefore we spent nearly one month and 5 trips to the granite yard trying to find a suitable replacement.
This particular slab is called Silver Cloud and is black and white with hints of gray.
Here's a better picture of it along with the new sink (a single bowl granite), spigot and tile we had put in with gray grout. You may notice that Jason is very OCD about weird things which is why there is a napkin under the handle to catch water and under my supremely awesome mason ball jar soap dispenser. 

This is the clutter of tile work in progress. It's also why the picture is blurry. Clutter makes me shudder. I rhyme.
Once the tile back-splash was completed we decided we needed an accent color and I loved egg shell blue. This color does not look like an actual egg shell that is blue, have you seen one? Regardless, we found the color I was looking for and Jason set to work painting the legs of the kitchen island this color. It was also during this time that we decided to get new stools and a new overhead light fixture for the island. Jason also got a new pantry door which my sister pointed out to me just now. 
I even found hand towels at Wal-Mart that matched my color scheme. Yay me.
Somewhere in this process Jason did two things to appease my aesthetic need. One was to whitewash the fireplace and paint the mantel white. Surely it's no fault of mine that I felt the Brady Bunch brick that was installed back when the show was in it's prime needed to go. This particular picture was taken the day after Evan hit his forehead and got stitches.No, I don't go to extremes.
And this is the final project once I bombarded Hobby Lobby.
The second thing he did was shiplap one wall on the far side of the kitchen using the old fencing I begged him to get from our next door neighbor who replaced his fence last year. 
I love it. I will most likely rip it from the wall if we ever move and bring it with us. That's the level of my commitment to shiplap.
 The final big project was to stain the kitchen floor and replace the carpet in the dining room. Who is the fool that thinks it's a great idea to have carpet in a dining room? If that's you, I apologize. But clearly you don't have kids. Or spaghetti.
This was the only before picture I could find of the dining room because it was so rarely used due to the whole carpet scenario that I didn't remember it existed. The gold/orange combination weren't anything to be admired either. I'm pretty sure this was taken when we were moving in because... mattress. Otherwise, who knows?
This little new floor undertaking took a few days because did you know they have to seal off your house like you're bubble boy?
I was in a state of agitation during this time because that whole level of the house was a wreck,
We had to move the refrigerator to the other room and couldn't use it AND, in order for me to continue unhindered from my coffee addiction, I had to move the Keurig to the master bathroom. This was seriously a necessity. Otherwise I'd be writing this blog post from jail because of the murder I committed when I couldn't have coffee. Also. That floss is mine. I floss.
Here's the empty dining room, ready to have the new floor laid down.
Here it is with the new floor (pre-stained).
Here's our floor guy explaining to Jason that he thinks I'm weird because I moved the Keurig to the upstairs bathroom and he wondered if should keep the plastic up for me once the floor was done because perhaps I belonged in the bubble.
I managed to get a picture of him sanding the floor. Looks like an over-sized 1940's vacuum cleaner to me but what do I know?
After the stain before the finish.
After the finish.
After the finish when Jason covered the floor with cardboard to keep us from walking on the floor. OCD. (technically, you need to stay off of it for a day or so to let the finish do something or whatever).
Here's the completed dining room. We painted it and Jason used the leftover fence to make a shiplap wall in here as well. Now I love this room and we still haven't eaten in it yet. We are still in the process of finding room decor and a farmhouse table for it. Sometimes slothfulness takes over after big projects.
The final work to be done to complete it all was to paint the railing between the kitchen and the living room and install new light switches and outlets. Jason said he would rather have a samurai sword shoved down his throat while jumping on a trampoline than do the light switches and outlets again. I actually made that "rather" up, but he did tell me to make sure I wrote about that horrific experience for him so I wanted to make it as dramatic as possible in order to honor his wishes. 
If you are reading this and contemplating a remodel of your own, don't. Go buy a new house instead.