Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Here's a before picture of the front of my house. I was eager to get started on this project. I wanted it done last year and was hiring it out however I didn't get around to it. I felt more of a push to get the upgrade completed because it needed it so badly so this year was the year. I also felt that with my time away from school and other hurdles, I'd do the work myself. I had to wait for my semester to be over though. I didn't want this project to come in the way of my studies. So I waited.

After the semester completed I did as much as the weather would allow. I've never put in a retaining wall or done my own landscaping and patio. So this was going to be quite the learning project for me. I WAS PUMPED!

I think the hardest part was deciding what was going to go in. I wanted it to be just right because I wasn't/won't be doing this again anytime soon.

I wanted to do as much as I could by myself. I did have helpers. Samee and Greg, especially Greg, ran the tractor at times and dug dirt. My dad helped rake out the 2.57 tons of crushed rock that I unloaded. OH- and he pointed. Dad couldn't seem to vision what my plan was and I'd try to describe it but it didn't seem to help. Finally putting in the material was helping him see my plan.

The walls weren't as hard as I thought. The only tedious part is leveling and packing the first layer. Boy! What a pain! I don't mind lifting, carrying and laying the rock or patio slabs however the leveling can have someone else doing it. Not hard just time consuming and tedious!

The job wasn't easy but it was very satisfying. Something I could claim as my own. I worked as much as the weather would allow. Some of the plants are from a friend, Lynee (also nursing student), who was pruning down her plants throughout her yard. I am so thankful for that. Some opinions was that I wouldn't really have much of an area to put chairs and sit out front. I obviously disagreed and had a chance to try it out. I'm glad I did. It's really a great place to sit and relax. I have gone out several times to read. Friends have stopped over and we've sat on the patio just talking and catching up. Even my mail carrier has commented on the improvement since she watched the changes from day one!

So now you have it! Here are my improvements that I smile about. You'll find me from time to time looking over the plants to see what changes I may like to make or picking out my favorites.

Welcome to the family

Toad's Ride Home
Sunday July 20th: I let him out of the carrier because I have found animals are more easily soothed with someone during car rides. So he climbed all over my lap for awhile. He got down a few times to search the car but the further away he got from me the louder he was. Finally he just planted himself on my lap and stayed there. He'd cry a little however it wasn't bad and he was calmed and soothed by my voice and petting him. That's how I know Cobi and his mama Lana did a great job for his first months.

Toad meets the family
The babes were with their dad when I brought Toad to his new world so it was the girls, Mango and Aspen first. They weren't too sure what to think of him and I think from the interaction he had with the PIFF (Pine Island Feline Family) he really didn't give it much thought or care with the hissing and growling.
You'd think Mango would have more of the stir however, it was Aspen who made the most noise and keeps the greatest amount of distance. Mango looks like a pro. The way she ignores him and if he does get closer then welcomed a small hiss is all it takes. Aspen stalks Toad. She'll sit on the bed and look down at him from 2 feet away hissing, growling, and making a fuss or stake out the litter box while it's small black occupant is detained. The great thing about Aspen as even during her heated, verbal declaration of difference for the fluffball we can pet her and she doesn't lash out. She even turns her voice to the soothing talking we're used to.

Yesterday Aspen played with Toad through a blanket however growled the whole time. Toad tries to play with Mango more because she's not as verbal and lets him touch her. They're making progress a lot quicker. Today Mango and Toad played a little more with batting paws. He'd get knocked on the head more than he could do because of arm length difference however he wasn't turned away by it. Mango and Toad sat near one another during eating and drinking. He pounces on her when she walks by and Mango turns to hiss. He just follows her to the new destination. So the PIFF actually got him ready for his welcoming committee.
Don't be turned away though. The babes keep him happy, welcomed and play with him. He doesn't seem lonely and knows how to entertain himself. I know it won't be long when the girls treat him very happily too!