Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Jacobson Invasion!

The Nevada Jacobson's came to see the Colorado Jacobson's this week! We had a great time visiting, playing & seeing the great sites of Denver & Colorado during the week.

They drove in late Saturday night--Joel and I left our house in plenty of time to get to Rhonda's to help get dinner ready. But, in movie-like fashion, it took us forever in the KFC drive-through line--the people in front of us had 3+bags of food! Then, we got caught at the "slow train". Two kinds of trains go through Arvada at all times of the day and night--you guessed it--fast & slow trains! We had to drive around it through a neighborhood. Just as we pulled up, we realized they had already arrived! Oh well, at least dinner was hot & yummy!

Sunday we all went to church and then Charis came over to help us set up our living room & dining room--our projects are about 95% done! Then the rest of the crew came over for Taco Salad on the deck!

Monday we all drove down to the Children's Museum--it was a hit. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera & Ted & Beverly's ran out of batteries just as we arrived! Bummer. Sure was a great museum! Tuesday and Wednesday Joel & I were pretty busy getting work on house projects done & Joel had a lot of school work to do before his Wednesday night class, so they did some fun things as a family and with Grandma J. Beverly left on Tuesday afternoon to head downtown with Kenna for her conference. Wednesday night Joel and Ted got some "guy time" playing cards with Joel's friends.

Thursday we decided to escape the blazing heat of Denver (ironically Thursday turned out to be the coolest day of the week) and head up to the mountains. Joel & I had discovered a great picnic spot while camping earlier this summer. So, we drove up to Echo Lake, right at the base of Mt. Evans with our lunches. Boy were we in for a surprise! It was CHILLY and rainy! Thankfully, Grandma J had packed some of Joel & Ted's sweatshirts from when they were kids (they were a bit big--see Arden in the picture above?), but they kept the kids warm! I had to use a blanket from the car (see picture on the right)!

We ate our lunches under a pavilion and then walked around the lake--thankfully the rain stopped & it was warmer on the other side of the lake. Haiku was in doggy heaven! She got to play in the lake for about 30 minutes--the kids loved it! I just love their squeals of delight! About 1/2 way through our walk, Arden tripped and fell and scraped his face on a tree branch. Poor thing. He cried for about 2 minutes and was fine! What a trooper!
Friday afternoon we took the kids to our local Rec Center--the Apex. It has a great swim area for kids & adults--a couple of kids slides and then 1 body slide & 1 ride you can do on an inner tube. Charis ended up doing the inner tube ride alone! Arden loved going on the lap of whoever would take him! We had a great time! Friday night was girl & guy time. Rhonda took Charis to a wedding and Ted, Joel, Tobin & Arden went tot he Rockies game. Sadly, it poured down rain on Friday late afternoon/evening. So much so that there was some flooding in downtown Denver. You guessed it--the game was canceled! But, the boys got to have a hot dog and they got new Rockies hats. So, they all just came home without seeing a game!

On Saturday, we all crammed into the van (try taking 4 adults and 3 children in car seats into 1 mini-van) to the Denver Museum of Natural History. I had only been there twice--once for my Sr. High Prom (way back in 1997!) and once with my class of 3rd graders. So, I didn't remember much of the museum. We had fun going through the Space Odyssey--they had cute astronaut costumes for the kids to wear in one section.

Then we walked through the large "Prehistoric Journey" exhibit. AKA: Dinosaurs! The boys especially love this section. Joel & Ted reminisced about how much the museum had changed since they were kids. Here's Joel with a prehistoric beast of some sort. Can you tell who's who? We also walked through the North American Wildlife and Botswana, Africa sections. I like the Africa section because of the books I'm reading, set in that country.

Saturday night we hung around home and the 4 adults got to play some Pinochle. Joel & I won two games right in a row!

Sunday morning Ted left early to go pick up Beverly and Kenna from her confer-
ence. Joel and I went over to make waffles and French toast. We all ate breakfast together and then they packed up and were off!

We sure wish, like all our family, that they lived closer!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Every so often I'm amazed at how much work we've accomplished on our house since moving in last year. Then, as I think about it, I realize how much help we've had! I can't believe that other people would want to come and help us with our house projects in their free time! Here are some of the people who have helped us just this summer...

Taking Out Our Bushes

Larry & Garrison
Betsy & Aaron (& baby Alison)
Sarah (& baby Catherine)

Removing & Replacing our Banister

Loaning Us LOTS of Tools
Scott (our neighbor)

Helping Us with our Floors

Taking Stuff to the Dump with Joel

Purchasing & Delivering New Baseboards

Painting New Baseboards

And numerous others who have encouraged us & offered advice long-distance!

I hope that I haven't forgotten anyone. Thank you so much! We couldn't have done it without you!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

From Banister to Dry Wall!

After a year of debate, discussion, brainstorming and gathering of opinions, Joel and I finally decided to remove the old banister and replace it with a 1/2 wall. It was hard to decide--we had lots of choices--replace it with another up-to-code banister, do iron (our neighbor has the tools & know-how to do this), or do dry wall. We ended up going with the dry wall for a couple of reasons.

1. It was the easiest solution for the flooring (less cutting/finish work)
2. Our friend gave us all the lumber we needed for the project for free!
3. We already had dry wall
4. We're crazy & think we can do everything ourselves!

Here is the process (in pictures) of this project:

Day one: Stare at old banister and think about how much work it will be to do this project.
Day two: remove old banister with some sadness. Don't wait too long until starting day 3--I had vertigo walking around near the stairs!

Day three: have a great friend, named Jim, come over to help you build the wall. He will bring all the tools and supplies you need, including free lumber. Reuse the posts of the old banister and have much fun cutting off the finials on the top with a "sawzall" (PS: Christmas request for

Day four, five & six: dry wall. It doesn't REALLY take 3 days, but when you have no idea what you're doing, like us, it will take you 3 days for this part of the project.

Day seven: stare at all you've accomplished with great pride. Wish you had money to pay people to do the work for you.

Day eight, nine & ten: apply tape and mud to cover screws and corners. This really does take a couple of days because you have to let the mud dry 4-12 hours in between.

Day eleven (preferably at about 10pm at night when you are thourghly exhausted from days 1-10 and it's about 83 degrees inside your house): Texture the dry wall. (pictured below are the tools you will need)

Day twelve: prime the wall and then paint!

Day thirteen: add a nice piece of painted (white) wood to finish off the project. Use a router to make it fancy & finished. Finish off with baseboards. (Day 13 will happen some day in the near future...)

We now own almost every tool you will need to do this project. If you would like to borrow them for your own dry wall project, let us know. We also offer unsolicited advice. No warranties or guarantees offered with free advice.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The light at the end of the tunnel...

As some of you know, our major project this summer was removing 30 year old carpet and linoleum and replacing it with new laminate flooring--about 800 square feet of it. Int he process, we also decided to remove and replace all of the baseboards as well. Then, we decided to also rip out and replace the old (non up to code) banister and replace it with a half wall! All by ourselves and all in 2 months! It has been a LOT of work and we are tired!

Well, today we actually accomplished something! We have the family room done! Floors! Painting! Baseboards! Room put back together!

Here are a few pictures. Of course, it doesn't look like much from the pictures, but let me tell you--it was a lot of work! We have a lot of sweat equity in this house in just 1 years' time! We love it and are highly motivated to get the rest done!

Cajun Pepper Pasta

This winter, my sister, Aimee, introduced me to a great new recipe. The only problem was, I didn't have a pan big enough to make it! So, I asked my mother in law, Rhonda, to buy me a new one for my birthday. Boy did she deliver! She bought me a great Calphalon pan that can go on the stove top or in the oven and is large enough to make the recipe! I was finally able to break in the pan last night--she was able to come over and enjoy dinner with us. Here's the recipe--thanks Aimee!

4 chicken breasts (cut into strips)
1 quart whipping cream (watch out cholesterol!)
2 red peppers (you could really use whatever color you want)
1 pound rigatoni pasta
4 tablespoons cajun seasoning (more if you like it spicy)
cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like it! I use about a teaspoon or two for a mild flavor)
olive oil

1. Cook the chicken in the pan with the oil and aply the seasonings.
2. Cook pasta (a few minutes less than the package says) & drain noodles
3. Slice peppers and add to chicken
4. Add everything to the pan with chicken and simmer about 10 minutes


Summer Reading

Remarkably, one of the things I've been able to do this summer is read, read, read! Here are a few of the books I've read...

Young Adult Fiction or Historical Fiction
The Tent by Gary Paulsen
Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
The Teacher's Funeral: A Comdey in Three Parts by Richard Peck

Adult Nonfiction
A Mother's Ordeal by Steven Mosher

My new favorite read is by Alexander McCall Smith. I just read the first book in a series of books called The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. It was a great read! I can't wait to get the second book in the series. It is set in Botswana, Africa which offered a very different setting from other books I've read recently. I was also surprised in that there is little to no violence, no sex (except one reference to it at the beginning) and the main character had morals! I highly recommend it!

Boston: Red Sox & the 4th of July

One of the things Joel told me early on in our marriage was that he wanted to go to two baseball games. One at Fenway Park and one at Wrigley Field. Hey, he's pretty easy to please! So, one of the main reasons we chose to go to Boston was so we could fulfill half of this dream of his. I found great seats (not great prices) on the 4th of July. It was a 1:05pm game.

We left early to be able to go and walk around a little before the game started. The trains were packed! There isn't any parking around the stadium and it was basically a sold out game. They close off one of the streets next to the park called "Yawkey Way" (pictured left). You have to show your ticket before you can get into this area. here are street vendors and t-shirt shops lining the streets. Oh yeah, and lots of people!

The stadium is not like any other stadium I've been to. Normally you walk down to get into the stadium, this one has tunnels below ground and you walk up to the field--it is at ground level. Very cool. We were forewarned not to eat the hot dogs, so we had some other food--great french fries and sat back and enjoyed the game! I guess their version of a ball park dog includes a bun made from a piece of wonder bread white bread.

It was an action-packed game against the Tamp Bay Devil Rays. And, in the end the Red Sox won. I'm not a huge baseball fan, but I would go to another game at this stadium!

After the game we went back to our hotel to gear up for our big night of fireworks. We had heard that they had a huge fireworks display and concert by the Boston Pops. So, we left our hotel with a newly purchased blanket from Filene's Basement (a great store, by the way) and headed down to the water. We had no idea what we were in for!

About 500,000 other people had the same idea that we did (we knew there would be a lot of people there), we just didn't expect it to RAIN for the 4 hours we had to sit outside! Other people had tents (literally) and coolers and had camped out for the entire day. The rain didn't bother them (or surprise them) one bit. Us? We just had two $3 ponchos we happened to buy at the CVS store on the way, our totally worthless blanket--it was soaked in the first 10 seconds of drizzle (I'm sad to say we left if behind). Needless to say, we were miserable for about 3 hours. We tried to play cards to pass the time in between rain, but then it just rained and rained and rained. We thought that we needed to stay on our blanket to save our spot because we were right on the water. In the end, we got up and walked closer to the fireworks and we probably didn't need to sit in the rain, we could have arrived about 10 minutes before the show and been fine.

The fireworks started about 9:30 and lasted about 25 minutes. It was UNBELIEVABLE. The Pops played the 1812 Overture with fireworks and canons. I'm not a huge fireworks fan, but these were AMAZING. They shot them right over the water from a barge and it was awesome. They had music and it just seemed to go on and on forever. It was totally worth the rain-soaking wait!

We went home happy, tired and a little damp. Our last day in Boston we slept in and relaxed at our hotel, packed up our little suitcases, had lunch at the local food court and headed off to the airport. It was a great trip--one we hope to repeat in the near future!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Boston, Day 2

Our second day of adventures in Boston took us to the north- eastern corner of the city on the Freedom Trail. We walked past the site of the Boston Massacre (now a busy street corner with skyscrapers on every side). Then it was on to Paul Revere's House. This was the only site we had to pay money to see. (A great bonus for visiting Boston, especially with families). It is a great old house--it was almost 100 years old when Paul Revere bought it!

From there it was on to the Old North know..."one if by land, two if by sea"? It was very cool to be in the same building where the lanterns were hung to alert Paul Revere. I guess there had been a few additions to the building and when they were remodeling they found the actual window where the Rector escaped the church on that fateful night. It is still bricked over on one side, but you can see it. I guess I didn't realize that there were actual British Soldiers that figured out the signal and went to arrest the Rector. How cool would it have been to be a fly on the wall that night?

Then we followed the red brick line over to the the harbor. You have to walk across a bridge to get there. While walking over this bridge, we saw a sign for another bridge...this one's for you, Tobin!

In the harbor, they have two ships in dock. One is the USS Cassin Young. It was commissioned in 1943 and named after the Commander of the Vestal, which was next to the Arizona during Pearl Harbor. The Vestal was damaged heavily in the attack. The USS Cassin Young fought in the Pacific during WWII. It was decommissioned in 1960 and returned to it's 1950's version. It is now kept in Boston on display. You can walk aboard and look around. I just love these "old" boats--reminds me of my own grandfather, fighting in WWII in Europe and Africa. His ship was much smaller than this one.

On the other side of the harbor is a much, much older boat--the USS Constitution. This boat was commissioned in 1794 and is the oldest boat still in service in the world. It still under the direction of the US Navy and sails about once a year under her own power. She is magnificent (and I'm not even a "boat" person) and enormous! At the beginning of her life, she sailed the coasts of North Africa for our young nation and then was re-commissioned into service for the War of 1812, where she fought her most famous battle. On August 19, 1812, the Constitution was in a close-range battle with the British ship, HMS Guerriere. During this battle the canons fired directly at the Constitution, but didn't damage it, giving it the name "Old Ironsides". We could have waited in line for over an hour to do the full tour, but we opted to do the "quick" line and so we only got to go on deck. It was still very cool!

Next stop: Bunker Hill. It is a short walk from the harbor through an old neigh- borhood with windy streets. You can climb 279 stairs to the top of the memorial (much like the Washington Memorial in DC). We chose to climb the stairs! Here is the view from the top--we were sweating when we got the bottom again! After this we were ready for LUNCH. Of course, we were now in the middle of nowhere and couldn't find anywhere to eat! We finally stumbled upon a Friendly's Resaurtant and enjoyed some food!

Then we hoped on the train and went to the original Cheers bar. Everyone has to get a picture in front of this famous sign!

Our final stop of the day (and boy were we tired) was Harvard. You can take a 10 minute train ride out to Cambridge. Joel teaches many of the writers who worked or lived in either Cambridge, England or the Cambridge of the Massachusetts variety. They often told Joel he needed to visit one of these places before he could become a published author. So, we did! We didn't get to spend too much time here because we were so tired, but here are a couple of cool pictures proving we were there so Joel can show his students. The second picture is in fron of the Harvard bookstore called "The Co-op". Joel could have spent hours & hours in there. Much bigger than Borders or Barnses & Noble. They had rows and rows of poetry books. Joel was in heaven!

Back to our hotel for the evening for a night of rest--the Fourth of July would prove to be a long & fun day for us!

Boston, Baby!

Last February (as in 2006), Joel & I voluntarily bumped ourselves from a flight so that we could receive 2 free tickets on United. We decided to take a trip to Boston this summer using those tickets. It was our first trip just the 2 of us.

We flew out Monday morning and the miracle is that this was all the luggage we brought with us! Just carry-ons! For some, this is not a major accomplishment. But, it is for me! I usually like to bring half my closet with for a 3 day trip. It was actually a really good thing we only had carry ons because we were running a little late and I think we might have missed our flight if we had to wait in the check-in line.

We arrived in Boston mid-afternoon and had one of those "they-must-be-tourists-because-they-don't-have-a-clue-what-they're-doing" moments. You have to take a bus to get to the subway from the airport and we couldn't figure out where we were supposed to go! But, we made it to our hotel and then went out on the town (we were starving by this time!).

We were just blocks from Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market--really old buildings that are now restaurants and shops. We ended up eating at The Purple Shamrock. Then we started walking the Freedom Trail. It was a beautiful afternoon--about 75 degrees and a bit breezy. Just awesome.

If you've ever been to Boston, you know that the Freedom Trail through Boston is a pathway leads you to all of the major Revolutionary War sites. There is actually a painted red line/brick line throughout the city for you to follow. You can't get lost! At every major site there is a large seal (like the one in the picture) in the middle of the line so you know to stop.

We began by going to King's Chapel (built in 1686) and Burial Grounds. Buried here is the woman who Nathaniel Hawthorne is said to have based his character from in The Scarlet Letter. (Joel knew this fact, having just taught the book this year!)

Then is was on to another cemetery--who knew they could be so cool? This was the Granary Cemetery where many Revolutionary War Heroes are buried. The few that I remember are Samuel Adams, John Hancock (his is the biggest headstone in the cemetery, just like his signature!), and Paul Revere.

From there, we passed by Park Street Church (now being renovated) and the State House Building. Then we walked through Boston Commons and the Public Garden (made famous by the 1942 Caldecott Winner, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey). There is a bronze statue depicting a scene from the book in the park. We then tried to ride the swan boats that are also famous, but they were closed (we tried again another day, but got there at 5:01pm and it closes at 5:00!)

We then looped back the way we came and went to a Fife & Drum Concert. We only stayed for about 20 minutes, but it was very cool. They play classic Fife & Drum music from the Revolutionary time period, along with other lesser known music from Great Britain.

Our last stop of the day was at the site of the very first
school in America (we're both teachers, what did you expect?). It is called the Latin School and all that is left of it now is this plaque in the ground. You would walk right past it if you didn't know it was there. It was built in 1635 and has many famous former students, including 4 Harvard Presidents, 5 signers of the Declaration of Independence and it's most famous drop out, Benjamin Franklin. It still operates as an elite school in Boston.

Then it was off to our hotel for a good night's sleep. We had another big day planned for Tuesday!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Someone is Lying

Someone lied. People always say, "It's a dry heat, so it's not as bad out in Arizona or Colorado". Big fat lie. 91 degrees and 14% humidity is still H-O-T. I realize it's not quite as bad as the Florida Everglades, but it's still hot. I'm sure our family out in Las Vegas would agree--I think it was 116 there yesterday. Holy hotness.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Before & After

One of the projects Joel & I wanted to do last summer, but didn't get to, was ripping out the overgrown bushes & shrubs (weeds) in the front of the house. Well, yesterday was the day! Despite the 100 degree weather, we had a number of friends come and help us (and boy are we grateful!). We started about 8:00am--before the sun had a chance to peek over the house and heat up the front yard. Here is what the bushes looked like before we started...

We started with a chain saw and clippers and just began destroying everything! The ripping out part was fun. The cleaning up part, not so enjoyable. We ended up chopping a lot of it up and putting it into bags, twining the larger branches together & our friend took a lot of the wood for firewood. We took 1 trip to the dump and still have at least 1 more trip to the dump to take when we rip out the stumps. You'll notice in one of the after pictures that all of our old carpet is still on the front porch...
At least the main part of the project is done now & we doubled the size of our front yard! We still have one more bush to take out (it has nasty thorns) and then we'll rip out all the stumps. Our hope is to do some terraced landscaping all the way around the front of the house up to the new fence (seen in the picture right above). But, that will probably have to wait until next spring...Oh the joys of owning a home!