We FINALLY have a fully operational deck! It took up all summer, but better late than never.
Let's see it started in April when we hired a friend to build it. The first day of demolition was enough to make anyone nervous.
Building took about 2 months since our friend was doing the building on weekends and free days. After getting it all built, I waited for the stars to align to do some staining. I needed a day that wasn't too hot or cold, a day that would be followed by dry days without rain forecast, and most difficult of all a day that I had back-up for watching the baby. Tricky, huh. Truth be told the deck still isn't completely stained, but I think the high side has been knocked off it.
The last piece of the puzzle was getting some furniture for the deck, and this one took a while. After paying for it all to be built we had limited resources set aside for shopping, which meant waiting for a clearance sale. The umbrella and base came from Kohl's bought on clearance with a 30% off coupon. After using it I wouldn't recommend it, but it will last a little while. Then the furniture came from Sears - also on clearance. I had been shopping craigslist looking for a lucky find for a couple weeks - and I think S just got tired of hearing about it. We went shopping and after some minor dramas found what we wanted. I put together the chairs, and he helped with the table and voila!
Now we have an excuse to invite everyone over for some grilling!