Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Earning Favor with the Neighbors

When we bought our house, most of the neighborhood was ecstatic. Those who frequented walking their dogs or jogging past our house would make a point to stop by when we were doing work to exhort us for "making this house beautiful again," and especially for "how quiet the neighborhood [was] now since cops [weren't] here running teenagers or homeless people off the property every other day." The general consensus was that we were two kids just crazy enough to pull this fixer upper thing off.

Fast forward a few months, and some of the neighborhood started scowling as they walked slowly past our debris piles, tree branch piles, and the amount of trash we had accumulated during our demolition days. I caught someone taking photos of our house as she walked her dog three days in a row. The next Monday, the city had notified us that we had one week to remove a pile of tree limbs from our yard. Other neighbors gently hinted that they were sick of the smell of the stagnant pool drifting into their open windows. People must be a little disenchanted about what it actually takes to make a home that has been neglected for two years "beautiful again." After a few incidents in a row, Blake decided it was time to focus on our yard space for a while, in spite of our kitchen needs--whiny neighbors could eventually result in pricey fines, which would further delay our progress.

In the last few days, Blake has essentially overhauled our curb appeal. The only truly hideous thing that remains is our ladder to nowhere leftover from the deck; he has trimmed and removed trees and bushes, replanted some rose bushes, laid mulch, and hauled all of the overgrowth into a trailer to be taken to the dump as soon as possible. Here is a quick before and after:

Unfortunately, we didn't think to take very good before pictures of this particular area. You can tell in the top right before circle that the overgrowth covers the gazebo where you can't look out of it from the inside and see past all of the greenery; all of that has been hauled out or trimmed down. Trees had overtaken the small space dividing the property between our lawn and the neighbors, and Blake removed and trimmed all of that as well. The bottom right circle gives a basic idea of what it looked like from the road. Also, look at that beautiful mulch work! Considering we knew we would be doing Addie's birthday party outside, it was good to finally push back the jungle.

Between all of Blake's outside work and Addie's birthday party on Saturday, our poor kitchen is still empty other than the gorgeous ceiling you saw last week. To console you, readers, and me, who still longs for a kitchen, I will give you all the details of Addie's Beauty and the Beast themed birthday party (and the fact that it all cost me about $60).

Addie got this Belle dress from my parents, so of course she got to wear it to her Beauty and the Beast party. She got a little hot near the end of the party, but this particular dress from Amazon is machine washable, breathable, and stretchy and comfy for playing. 

Really delicious, quickly melted. :(

There were two little snack tables for people to choose from, since Addie had invited girl and guy friends. The first was the "Be Our Guest" table, decorated to look like Belle's dress. Snacks were really simple: watermelon, vanilla cupcakes from a box mix that I iced to look like roses, and graham crackers to use for dipping into "the gray stuff" (like the song: "try the gray stuff, it's delicious!"). This was super easy, you can find the recipe here. Blake's little sister, Noelle, helped me bake all of the cupcakes and make the gray stuff on Friday morning. We also had sparkling lemonade or water to drink.

The other table was "Gaston's Tavern," using decorations I borrowed from Blake's mom. There were "fish & chips" (goldfish crackers, potato chips, and dip) that I set in pint glasses for decoration, and root beer to drink. I got all of the decorations I didn't borrow from dollar tree for about $30. All of the food was from Aldi, other than the here-and-there things they don't have that I picked up at Walmart. Aldi is so awesome. 

Since our house is still a bit of a danger zone (especially for a birthday party), we had the whole thing set up at the little park across the street from our house. Our friends Kane and Rachel came to spend the night Friday, so on Saturday, Kane helped Blake with a lot of outside work that he wanted to get done before people showed up, and Rachel helped me decorate for the party. Blake's littlest sister Charity came over to help decorate as well, and the rest of the Comptons watched Addie so that she could be surprised when she got back. So, that's the secret to a great kid's birthday party--lots of volunteers. :)

I also had lots of fun setting up a little Beauty and the Beast themed photo booth. Being outside, lighting was obviously an obstacle, but it was still really fun and the pictures turned out really cute :) 

She is obsessed with the cape.

After reminding everyone to bring sunscreen, guess who neglected to wear sunscreen? Addie asked if I was wearing a backpack, then said to Blake, "Daddy, Mommy is wearing a silly backpack."

Addie got lots of awesome presents, all of which we had opened by the time we went to bed. She is obsessed with her Belle dress from Nonie and PaPa, and the new Anna and Elsa dress-up dresses she got from Granmommy and Pops. In fact, I told her she could wear whatever she wanted to go grocery shopping today, and she picked the Elsa dress. I also did the best french braid I could manage with the little hair she has. She loved all of the attention. 

She had her little lemon birthday cake, as per Addie birthday tradition, but we had to pretend to blow out the candles since it was too windy to light them. She will get another chance tonight, because today is Addie's actual birthday! I can't believe my baby is three years old. The past two months we have watched her transform from true toddler to little girl. She's potty trained, unbelievably articulate, kind, friendly, cuddly, silly, and curious. She loves trains and airplanes, and princesses and dress-up. She is the cleanest toddler I have ever seen, and I frequently find her lining up crayons or pens in perfect rows (clearly takes after her Daddy). She can be sneaky and ornery, but the second she thinks she has disappointed you, her little eyes tear up (clearly takes after her Mommy). She loves learning about Jesus, and begs everyone she meets to read her little pink New Testament to her (despite the lack of pictures). She has a Jesus Storybook bible, but I think this Bible makes her feel like a mini grown-up, which coincidentally describes her very well. Adeline is like a mini grown-up. She wants to cut her own food, set the table, help do chores, dress herself, and will ask for help only when she hasn't figured out a mini-way to accomplish her task. My favorite thing about her at this age may be how thankful she is. We may remind her to say thank you for compliments or being helped, but with no prompting whatsoever she will offer sincere thanks. "Mommy, thanks for taking me grocery shopping with you!" "Thanks for playing a game with me, I had lots of fun!" "Thanks for making me dinner, it's good for me!" She is also convinced that everyone in the world is her best friend as soon as she knows their name. To be fair, she might be right. 

Happy Birthday, darling. You are my favorite kid ever, ever. <3 Tonight we are going to celebrate with the dinner she has requested, fruit and mac 'n' cheese. She also has asked that today we paint, take a bath, read princess books, and put on makeup. This week we are working on getting air conditioning working, and hopefully laying tile for the kitchen floor. See you back here soon! 

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