Take me out to the ball field…or ball fields in our case

This was the first year since 2008 that any Houghlings played baseball. Isaac had tried tee-ball way back when and hated it, but last year he asked to play again. We put him off but when he basically begged us to let him play this year, we caved. And of course because Isaac was playing, Noah wanted to play too. This lead to all kinds of craziness because they were on two different teams. but if there is one thing that we Houghs do well, it’s craziness. Noah played on the “coach-pitch minor league team” the Dodgers. Isaac played on the Cubs. To say that they enjoyed it would be a gross understatement. They LOVED it. Isaac’s team had a pretty good season and finished over 500. They beat the two best teams in their league, which was AWESOME! To see the smiles on their little faces after a huge win made the countless trips worth while. Noah’s team “tied” every game. Basically they don’t keep score, so every game is a tie. But even though they didn’t keep score, every game was highly entertaining. To begin with, Noah played not only in the game on the field, but also in a game in his mind. He cracked me up. He would run out onto the field  to play second base and slide into the base and call himself safe. And then he would jump up to catch an imaginary ball, tag the “runner” and call him out. His games were very exciting. Well at least the ones in his head were. Sometimes the actual games would get exciting too. For example, occasionally they would actually make an out or two! No small feat my friends!  In the end, I think that it is probably safe to say that there is a good chance that you can add baseball season to the Hough family calendar from here on out. 
Noah at bat
 Noah in the field
Noah on deck
Seriously, how cute is he on base?!
Isaac up to bat
Isaac talking to coach on third base
Isaac at shortstop

The Beach!

Well, the vacation was absolutely delightful! It was everything that I wanted and needed it to be. We were a little bit anxious because Tropical Storm Andrea was causing some commotion right before we left, but we weren’t about to let a little bit of rain dampen our spirits. (Get it?  Rain…dampen! Ha!) The plan was to be at Mom and Dad’s house by 6:30 so that we would have plenty of time to drop the car off at Charlie Brown’s park and fly and be at the airport for our 11:45 flight. Looking back, I believe that I may have been given a time that was actually earlier than necessary because I have a tendency to be a teeny bit late. What some people didn’t take into consideration was the fact that I was MORE than excited and I was the only one that needed to be ready. I was at mom and dad’s by 6:20! We were on our way by 7:00. EEEEKKKK!
At the airport waiting for our flight…First Class baby!
Crazy-eyes Dad and I
Mom and Jess…see the big smiles!?!
Once we boarded, we got comfy. We were LOVING the roominess of our awesome seats. We had, and I quote, “all the elbow room that you could ever want.” We were flapping our arms just to make sure. It was awesome, with the exception of the super-annoying guy sitting behind us. He was what you might call a whiny pants. All that he did the ENTIRE flight was talk about how terrible the weather was going to be when we landed and how awful the flight was going to be and how he was ready to go home and fill up sandbags and his wife said that there was a tornado in downtown Tampa..blah, blah, blah. He was really starting to get to me so I popped in my earplugs and said a rosary.That was very helpful. After enjoying the airplane snacks and complimentary drinks we settled in for a slightly bumpy, but relatively uneventful (always a good thing) flight. 
When we landed it was gray and yucky. I was starting to think that Mr. Whinypants was right, but I decided that I just didn’t really care. We went to dinner where I ordered a bacon wrapped fillet. (Oh yes I did!) There are few things that can make a fillet better, but surely bacon is one of them! Unfortunately the bacon was floppy. (Insert sad face here.) But even with the floppy bacon it was still pretty good. Besides, my food was hot and I didn’t have to cut up someone else’s meal. I was able to stay seated throughout the entire meal and nobody spilled anything, not even Dad! Vacation was off to a grand start and then the power went out ( It really did, but just for a second. )  and it started to pour! Stupid rain! But thankfully, by the time we got to  Walmart to pick up some odds and ends and snacks,  it had pretty much stopped raining and the sun was shining! ( YAY! ) Things were looking up! 
We went to our hotel, Tradewinds Island Grand, and checked in. It was beautiful! 
This was mine and Jess’ room. Note the big, beautiful queen sized beds that we each had all to ourselves!!!
I totally loved it!
Mom and Dad’s room was the same as ours, although they both slept in the same bed. For them, it was not nearly as exciting as it was for me. They have an enormous king sized bed at home and this felt a little it cramped to them. But I was LOVING it! Each bedroom had it’s own bathroom and then we had a living room and kitchen area as well as a little deck. A perfect home away from home!
Once we had all of our luggage, we changed into to comfy clothes and decided to walk down to the beach. One teeny problem with the safe  and we were on our way.( By teeny problem, I might mean that somebody may have shut the safe with ALL of our wallets, money, my purse, ipods, ipads, etc. in it  before we figured out how to set it and unlock it. We also might have had to call down to the front desk and have a a security guard, who may, or may not, have been every bit as annoying as Mr Whinypants-airplane-guy, to come an open it. He also may, or may not, have accused us of asking him to open the safe with someone else’s belongings in it, demanding a description of my purse. Sheesh! )
My beautiful Sissy and I when we FINALLY made it down to the beach!
Beautiful sunset!
The only sandbags that we saw.
The next morning, we woke up and hit the beach walking, literally. We went for a three-ish mile walk. It was    a good walk and I really enjoyed talking to my dad during it. It isn’t very often that I get a chance to just chat with him without the kids interrupting, so this was a treat. Once we were sufficiently sweaty and gross, we went back to our suite to change into our suits and hit the cabanas.
This is what I was waiting for…the sand, the sun, the ocean, my kindle and  our cabana. It was finally here!
The view from the cabana…gorgeous!
Mom and Jess made me promise not to post or blog any bathing suit pictures, but I couldn’t help it. We were at the beach! How can you not have any pictures in a bathing suit. Get over it Mom and Jess! Besides, I think that we looked pretty good.
No wonder the guy at the one restaurant told Dad that he looked like a greek god with his suntan! True story…
Ok, fine! I know what you are thinking. Yes, we totally staged this picture. We didn’t actually RIDE the jet skis. We just posed on them. Whatever… 
So, where was I…oh yes, the cabana… We were laying there soaking up some rays when I heard the squawk. I looked up and saw it, a rat with wings, otherwise known as a seagull. I hate those stupid things and apparently the feeling is mutual. Splat! Pooped on. No joke. Did I mention how much I hate those stupid birds!?!
We were loving the waves! They were pretty big because of the passing storm. Jess and I were splashing around and jumping in them like little kids. Mom and Dad were laughing at us from the edge of the water. And then a big wave knocked Dad down on his butt! We were all hysterical. Dad was laughing so hard that he missed the second wave coming in. It him so hard that he slid right out of his swim trunks. We were pretty much dying by then. It was so funny. Mom asked him if he was ok and he said, “Yes, but things got a bit cheeky!” 
The waves were so wild that this is what fell out of my bathing suit when we went back to shower for dinner. 
Seriously! A handful of seashells!
After our fabulous day at the beach and we showered we went to Crabby Bills for dinner. Oh My Yummo! Best. Seafood. Ever. They also had really funny signs everywhere. The one read, “Unattended children will be used for shark bait.” Another read, “If you set out to fail and succeed, what have you really done?” Think about it people. Mind blown.
Yes, I actually ate all of this. And I loved every scrumptious bite! I did not, however, love the oyster that Mom let me try. Think of sludge and mud. Not good.
Every night, after dinner, we would go back to the suite, put on our jammies, and play cards, and eat junk, and laugh, a lot!
Poor Dad had to be my partner when we played 500. I was a bit slow to catch on, but by the end, we managed to win a few times.
Oh yeah, we had a few yummy mommy juice boxes. 
On the second day, we got up and hit the beach again. Mom and I didn’t walk this time. I was VERY sunburned. Needless to say, we kept the cabana cover thingy up most of the day. At one point, I popped my head out of the cabana just long enough to tell mom something and it happened…again! One of those horrible birds pooped on me again! Seriously people! Two days in a row! I tried to spin it and I said something about it being good luck or something. Jess said, “Yeah, good luck for me! I was beside you both times and didn’t get hit!” Did I mention how much I hate those stupid birds!?!
We went for a drive to try to use some of the gas that Mom and Dad had prepaid for in the rental car. (Side note: the rental car did not come with a remote lock thingy. Soooo every time we would have to unlock the car, Dad had to use the key and it set off the alarm…every single time! We made a little game out of it. I think that Dad’s record was 5 beeps to get it unlocked. We are easily entertained!)
Sissy finding some pretty shells to take home for the girls.
They are so cute!
Dad and his girls
Mom and her girls
My parents
The beautiful sunset on the last night that we were there.
I miss you beach!
Our last day…
We were very sad to leave.
One totally random thing. Jess and I had the same purses, just in different colors. Sister purses! We are so weird.
So, in a nutshell, the vacation was wonderful. The weather was gorgeous. Time with my mom and dad and sister was thoroughly entertaining. I now know how to play 500. Car alarms are annoying, but anything can be made in to a game. I managed to read two and a half books and paint my toe nails. I missed my hubby and kids a ton. And I hate seagulls!
I came home to a clean house. The laundry was still caught up. There was a beautiful Welcome Home Mom sign and a note from each kid and Brian. I was welcomed home by squeals of “MOM!” and a smooch from my sweetie. I picked up Jonathan and he popped his fingers in his mouth and grabbed my hair and started to rub his nose with it. (He always does that!) I was relaxed (and I still am!) and happy to be home. It was nice to miss them and be missed. 
Oh yeah, I still hate seagulls.

The bathroom…

Well folks, this post has been about 12 1/2 years in the making! We have finally had our bathroom remodeled! This wasn’t just a coat of a paint and a new shower curtain. No way, this was a COMPLETE remodel! I am talking new floor, walls, ceiling, tub, sink, lights, toilet…you name it, we replaced it! I cannot even tell you how excited we were. We were finally able to set aside some money and hired a good friend of our family to do the remodel. (At least I hope that he is still a friend after being in our house everyday for 2 and a half weeks! You can never tell what over-exposure to our chaotic family can do to a person. If nothing else, he has burned off some serious time in purgatory.)

Ok…Brace yourselves! What you are about to see are the “Before” pictures. If you have a weak stomach you might want to skim  past these pictures. They are not for the weak…

Note the duct tape wall. That beautiful work of art is courtesy of the kids trying to stand on the soap dish that was tiled into the wall. It broke off and water got behind the tiles and the started to fall off. Duct tape to the rescue!! The window was another issue. It wouldn’t open and no mater how much I scrubbed it, it was always gross.
Don’t you love the gorgeous aquamarine toilet and tub. GAG! Apparently it wasn’t bolted down to anything. Thank God it didn’t fall over!
This little hole has a funny story behind it. One morning Brian was going to the bathroom and looked up and a mouse was looking out of it! We duct taped that shut too and hung a picture over it. 

Here is the teeny tiny sink that all 11 of us would crowd around to brush our teeth at night.

The light fixtures were both cracked and the one on the left wouldn’t work.

I have no words…

Right after we met with David and planned the remodel, the sink died. It was leaking everywhere so we couldn’t use it for about 2  months. We went through 2 gallons of hand sanitizer.  Literally.

The super tiny closet had three broken shelves and not nearly enough room.
So there you go. The “Before” was scary, but what we found underneath all of that loveliness was even worse. Seriously.

This is where the sink was and the floor was completely rotted underneath it.
Here is where the tub was. The floor here was rotted clear through the subfloor. Apparently the faucet was leaking for about 10 years. It all needed to be replaced. David said he had no idea how we hadn’t fallen through to the basement. We know the answer to that. We have 11 guardian angels that took turns holding the floor up. Obviously!

This pipe was right beside the old closet. It had no purpose, other than taking up unnecessary space.
Here is the new plumbing and the new floor where the sink will be.

The new and improved bigger closet to be

Here is the new insulation in the ceiling. This was very exciting because when he took the old stuff down we found out that we had a hole in our roof. Thankfully we had been planning to replace that this summer too, but we were worried that it would slow down the bathroom. Thankfully David managed to patch the hole temporarily so that we could continue on with the bathroom.

No yucky window! Woohoo!
New tub!

This was very exciting. The boys had to check it out. 
Viola! The new bathtub and shower curtain. It took FOREVER to pick a shower curtain. No joke, it took me longer to pick a shower curtain than it did for me to find a new bathing suit. That is saying something!

New lights and an exhaust fan! I love the fan! No more moldy ceiling!!

New toilet! Brian loved it because of the elongated seat. It’s the little things in life folks!

5 hooks to hold 10 towels. Three were placed high and two were placed low for the littles. No excuses little people!

My new supersized closet! I LOVE it!

Beautiful big sink, humungous mirror and a faucet that works! Oh yeah baby! We are living large!

The best addition to the bathroom…the laundry chute! We still need to put the door on it, but it is awesome!

The other little thing that we were really excited about…2 toothbrush holders. Each on hold 6 toothbrushes. I know that might sound stupid, but when you have 11 toothbrushes to store, it is a big thing!
There you have it folks. The remodel. I can not even begin to say how appreciative we are to David for all of the hard work that he did to finish it up. It was much worse than we thought as we removed the drywall and the flooring. I am very thankful that he didn’t just turn and run the other way! I will admit that I occasionally bribed him with food. I was a desperate woman. Don’t judge. The kids just loved him too. Everyday they would watch out the window for “The Man” to arrive. When he came they would run down the hall yelling, “The man is here! The man is here!” I tried to keep them out of his way, but sometimes they would sneak down the hallway to watch him. To the kids he was practically a rockstar. In fact the one morning we had gone into Rural Valley to meet Missy and Jonah to walk in the park. We stopped at the store to pick up some odds and ends and David was there and they were freaking out! “Mom! It’s the Man!” To others he might just be David, but to the Houghs he will always be “The Man.”