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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Worst 4-Letter Word of All-DEBT

I'm switching gears today.

I'm still very very sad about Julie and her family, but I'm going to focus on something positive today.

Joe and I just started Financial Peace University through Dave Ramsey.

Finances are one of those things that no one wants to talk about. It's almost more taboo than sex anymore.

Here's where we stand on it: we don't want to play the game anymore. The game that consumer America has told us we all have to play and we so willingly bought into.

We have a large and a small mortgage.
We have 2 car payments.
We have credit card debt (and how!).
we have school loans.
We have medical bills from procedures/visits years ago when we had no insurance.
There's more.
We owe and owe and owe.

We decided we're sick and tired of being sick and tired.

If you're a Dave Ramsey fan you've likely heard that phrase before.

Dave's plan is simple.

Stop borrowing. Pay off your debt. Save for college. Invest.

Easy right?

So what if you have more month than money and it's impossible to save anything?

This is where Financial Peace comes in.

Joe and I are learning about making up a budget (just putting on paper where our money goes), saving up a $1000 emergency fund for those emergencies that ALWAYS catch us by surprise, paying off our debt, and then learning how to save more and invest.

Easy peazy, right?

Not really. First, you have to get angry enough to actually commit to doing it. It's hard to get to that point because Dave's is a "Go Big or Go Home" mentality. You're either in 110% or you're out 110%.

His motto is Live like No One Else So Later You Can Live Like No One Else.

We are making significant changes. We are lowering our cell plan and downgrading from iPhones to regular, non-fancy schmancy phones. Dumb phones you might say.  That change alone will save us $80 per month.

We're also cutting things like gym membership (cuz, let's be realistic...I wasn't using mine anyway...), eating out (most of the time), and frivolous purchases.

When we actually took a close look at our checkbook ledger, we were amazed at how many entries said "Target-$123" or "Giant Eagle-$54." Ridiculous.

Our "we're just going to grab a few things" inevitably turned into mini shopping sprees of things that we didn't really "need."

I was able to justify (to myself) that it was necessary to charge Christmas decorations. (!)

We are ready.

In a week's time, we've actually save up $445 toward our $1000 Emergency Savings Fund that is necessary before you can start re-paying debt.  That's freakin' amazing for us.

How nice it would be to be completely out of debt. No more friendly calls from the credit card company, no more car payments, no more mortgage! I can see it in the not-too-distant future. I can taste it.

I think it would be awesome to write a check every semester for my kids' tuition and not have to take out a second mortgage, loans or for my kids to have to work to pay tuition. That way they can start their adult life without be saddled with debt right off the bat.

It'll be tough. And emotional. It's amazing how many emotions are tied to the balance of our bank account. But as tough as it will be, it can't be worse than sleepless nights wondering how in the world we're going to rob Peter to pay Paul. 


I'll update how we're doing periodically.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little More About Julie

Joe & I went to the funeral home last night for Julie's viewing. (Click HERE to read who Julie is.)


It was awful. We felt a little awkward being there when we'd never met Julie in person, but I felt like I knew her reading hers and Jaden's story in a blog. Her dad held my hand while he talked about how wonderful his daughter was, his eyes filling as his chest swelled with pride. Her mom and I cried together as we agreed that she touched so many...including people like us who she'd never even met. And we hugged.

Joe was able to talk to Julie's husband and tell him to call if he ever needs to talk. Joe shared that he lost his first wife when she was 31 to cancer. It was a hard moment for Joe and I think it kind of snuck up on him--feeling that emotional about something that happened 13 years ago.

But maybe this is that thing everyone talks about when a tragedy strikes--maybe this is an opportunity for Joe to reach out to someone with his own experience. Maybe that pain and unfairness he suffered through can actually add comfort and some level of peace to someone else. I'm so proud of  him for doing that. I know it wasn't easy and was way out of his comfort zone.

This world sucks. It truly does. I say "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

I am so tired of hearing about babies who are abused, babies who die, parents who kill their children, loving, good people whose lives are cut way too short.

I'm sick of worrying about my kids every second of the day because evil exists and lurks around every corner, waiting for an opportunity.

I feel almost bad that Julie's situation has affected me so deeply. I feel like I am intruding on grief that only her friends and family should feel.

But I am cursed with an empathy that "allows" me to feel others' pain. Too much sometimes.

I don't want to just go about my life, relieved that I am still on this earth with my family.

I don't want to forget this family, who now have to find out how to go on without their wife, mom and daughter. Jaden may still have more battle with his own sickness. I worry, what will happen to his older brother and father if something happens to him?

Please pray for this family.

I told Joe last night as we were leaving the funeral home that no matter who is in those boys' lives...it will never be the same as having their mother. We as moms know that we have a special bond with our kids. Even different and separate from dad. We carried them, nurtured them, and birthed them. It's a connection that can't be replaced.

Surely they will be surrounded with love and support and people who will shower them with love and affection. But I worry.

I'm looking at my kids a lot differently these days.

The little things they do like yell that they want to watch something on TV or want a drink...the unthinkable idea that they want to finger paint or play with play-doh is suddenly not looking so bad anymore. They're here with me. They're healthy and who cares, in the grand scheme of things, if they get paint on the table or play-doh on the carpet? They're kids and I want to allow them to be kids and enjoy the little things in life. And I want to enjoy them with them.

I plan to move on as far as posting about this family for now. But it's really hit me how precious life is. And how quickly it passes us by.

James 4:14 says "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

So, for now, I'm doing all I can to make this mist as full and happy as possible.

Excuse me now...I'm off to go snuggle my kids. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hold On To Every Moment

Christmas always makes me nostalgic and misty, but this year I am especially thoughtful.

A couple of years ago I cam across a blogger who called herself SupahMommy. I thought she was hilarious. And real.

Fast forward a couple of months to where I find out she and I live in the same city! Weird.

As I read her blog I got to know a friend of hers. Her name: Julie. Julie's son Jaden was battling Neuroblastoma. A deadly disease. He was only 2 years old at the time.

I could only read so much at a time because I would cry so much.

Then...come to find out, Julie was from the same town that I now live in and lived only one community away. Wild. What a small world.

I messaged Julie on Facebook to tell her that if her family ever needed anything, to let me know.

She responded back even though she had no idea who I was.

That was in July of 2010.

It was only about a year ago (I think?) that I found out Julie had Neuroblastoma too.

Not only was she watching her little baby struggle with this awful, painful disease, but she was doing so while suffering with it as well.

It seemed like whenever Jaden would rally, Julie would struggle and vice versa.

This month, it was decided to move Julie to hospice. She pased away this week.

She was 36.

She left behind parents, siblings, cousins, TONS of friends...and the saddest of all, a loving, supportive husband and 2 little boys. Jaden is now 4 and his brother is a little older.

And because I am who I am, I torment myself by thinking about things like; did Jaden and Joey ask Santa for their mommy to get better? Were they with her when she passed? Will they remember her when she was healthy and smiled?

And then I think about how awful this must have been for Julie. I cannot even imagine (and I can't because it would easily send me over the edge) what it would be like as a mom to KNOW that I will not see my kids grow up. Not be there for them when they wake up scared at night. Not be there when they get hurt and want nothing but mommy. Not see the milestones; kindergarten, junior high, first date, prom, graduation, college, weddings. Miss the simple things like that amazing smile that only your baby can give you. Hear "I love you, Mommy" or kiss their snotty little lips.

I'm bawling just typing this.

I really, really do try to live every moment to the fullest and hold on to each memory because I know this time will fly. That's exhausting. To always focus on the Here and Now is tough. I was just laying in bed the other day looking at a collage of pictures on my wall. They were taken just yesterday, I swear, but somehow in that time, R & L had aged 4 years. E was just an infant only a week old in these pictures.

Where did it go?


The gist of this post isn't to depress you...although I'm sure I've done a pretty good job of that. Instead, I just want to remind myself and all of you to hold on to every precious second. Even the bad ones where you're SURE you won't make it through another minute of fighting, whining, complaining, and tantrums. Because I know no matter how stressed I am...Julie would have given ANYTHING to have even 5 minutes more with her babies.

Julie & Jaden

Monday, November 28, 2011

Welcome To My World

Allow me to walk you through my wonderfully craptastic day...

Actually, it started before today. The past few days have been pretty awful.

R (our 6 year old) got his fingers slammed in the hatch of our minivan Saturday evening. He's okay but it was traumatic for all of us.

My father-in-law had a heart attack Saturday night. Talk about someone's life flashing before your eyes. I pictured hm holding our kids and how sweet he is. The absolute fear and uncertainty is overwhelming.

Sunday Joe was (rightfully) at the hospital most of the day. I am draaaaagging because of first trimester exhaustion. I am D-O-N-E. I have nothing. I'm out of gas. And here I am with these 5 maniacs barking out order after order. And it's just me. Alone. Hold me.

Today, Joe was up early and at the hospital again (again, rightfully so) and then left right from there to work until 9 pm tonight. That leaves me flying solo. Again.

This morning E (our almost 4 year old daughter) told me she wished there wasn't a mommy in our family.

Yes. I cried.

Then my 5 year old son (L) told me he loves me even when I'm yelling all the time. Which, apprently, I have been doing.

Today I had someone unsubscribe from the newsletter I write for my community. She didn't even try to be tactful or constructive with her harsh words. She wrote: Reason for Leaving "Ugh. Messy format, amateurish writing. And...hello? Spell-check! Sorry, you asked."

I especially like the "sorry" part at the end. Cuz that makes it all go down so much easier.

It seems I'm encountering so many people lately who are just...obnoxious.

I was all proud of reminding myself to wash the boys' guis for karate tonight. I shouldn't have patted myself on the back too soon since I forgot to turn the dryer on. There they were sopping wet when I went to grab them 10 minutes before we had to walk out the door.

I fought with R to wear sweat pants instead. He finally gave in and got dressed. I raced around, woke our 2 year olf up from his nap (which we ALL know is a sin), got the baby dressed, threw on coats, got on shoes, and grabbed the baby ready to head out  the door.

I reached in the drawer to grab the keys when.....wait a minute.....where are the keys??

Not in the drawer.

My husband had them last. I texted him at work.

He didn't know.

I pursued it further with him...Where are the keys?

He had no clue.

So...here it is now 5 after 4 (class starts at 4:25...40 minutes away) when I have to officially announce that we are not going to karate.

There's crying and tantrums and loads of bad attitudes. A little the kids, a lot me.

I angrily texted Joe. I'm trapped in this house with 5 demanding kids and one mama who is ready to explode.

I've had it.

I need a break.

And I can't even have a glass of wine to unwind after the kids are in bed. Son of a...

What do you do when you just need a break? When there's no one to take the kids and give you those few precious hours to yourself?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chewin' the fat

Crappy.

That is the eloquent way to describe how the last few days have been for me.

I've had the stomach bug. That's bad enough with no responsibilities, but add to it 5 little ones who want and need everything under the sun and it's downright torture.

Let's throw in some social drama, dreary, rainy, cold weather, and morning sickness, and you have what equals a crappy week.

That's right. I said morning sickness.

If you don't follow me on Facebook you probably haven't heard the crazy news that we're expecting again.

Go ahead...give me what you got. Duggars. Kate + 8. I can take it.

So what if we qualify to have Starkist smeared across the front of our house because we're packed in here like sardines.

We're thrilled. And scared.

I alternate between ecstatic and terrified. With a heavy concentration on terrified.

We actually have to get a new vehicle. We literally cannot fit another human being (legally) in our van.

Not to mention with pregnancy, inevitably comes labor and delivery.

Passing a 7 lb baby through my nether regions isn't even what scares me most.

It's the darn epidural.

I don't even want to hear that I can go natural and avoid that whole epidural conundrum.

I like that I actually get to enjoy the process and be camera ready right after. :)

I just hate the actual procedure.

You go natural? My hat is off to you! I know my limitations.

Anyway...Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I am very thankful for so much:

My God
My family
The beautiful gift of life and the wonderful blessing of a new baby
My true friends
All the creature comforts we are blessed with
My husband having a job
The ability to see my husband during this holiday season when for so many years he worked in the hospitality industry and we didn't see him until long after the holiday was over
The freedom to say what I want and blog about the mundane and ridiculous
YOU! For reading. I haven't quite figured out why you do yet...but I don't care. THANK YOU for being here. ;)

What are you thankful for? REALLY thankful for?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Skeletons In My Closet

In my house, the idea of 'organization' makes me sweat.

It's something I desperately want, but it alludes me.

Regardless, I have grand visions of a place for everything and everything in its place...but the reality of it is...in a 1945 house with 3 bedrooms, 5 kids, 2 adults, closets the size of phone booths, massive amounts of clothing and 42 million pairs of shoes...'organized' is relative.

This is my actual Living Room coat closet:

There she is. All tucked away in the corner.
Cue horror movie music. We're approaching the monster.
This shoe rack seemed like such a great idea at the time. 3 years and 2 kids ago. It was a $5 LTD Commodities buy. These are not even all of our shoes. No....the clostes upstairs are also full of shoes. It's not like we have THAT many either. We just have a lot of feet. :)

The shelf up above has baskets that hold hats and gloves. In theory, that is. That one on the right ACTUALLY holds life jackets and swim suits.  That plastic bag is full of pillow stuffing. I had big plans to make pillows. You see how far I've gotten with that...
Another beauty shot.
See this convenient set up? Love the radiator in front of the door for maximum door opening capacity.
Because the closet is so crammed, things spill out on the banister. Isn't that pretty for the living room? The first room everyone sees when they come in the door?
Side Note: Isn't that wall going up the stairs just SCREAMING for a photo collage?
And here's what I WISH my closet looked like:

*Sigh* Isn't it gorgeous?
This photo comes from Pinterest and is originally from BHG.com. I've tried to find the original blog, but no luck!

This was a closet very much like mine until they took off the closet doors and added a built in bench, some cubbies, and a few baskets. Voila!

I know, I know...it's scary taking the DOOR off your CLOSET....but see how pretty that is? It's a mini mudroom. 'And oh how I want a mudroom.

I cry and drool as I look through Pottery Barn catalogs at all the beautiful mudroom crap they have.

Unfortunately, this house was not equipped with any kind of mudroom or foyer. You just immediately fall into the Living Room when you come through the door.

Surprise! Here's our mess!

Make yourself at home, just throw your coat over the chair and pile your shoes in the corner. 

So, I have big plans to convert our closet to look like the one in the BHG pic.

Really, it will be inexpensive. The trim is already there (that's one plus for the craftsmanship in this 1945 home), I can find a cute bench second hand or on my fave Criagslist and paint it if need be. I already have baskets galore....so this SHOULD be pretty easy.

Famous last words, right?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What A Sprain In The Neck

I've spent the past 4 days convinced that I had Meningitis.

Googling your symptoms will do that to you.

I've had a sore neck with burning pain that ibuprofen did not even come close to touching.

I've slathered ridiculous amounts of creams and balms on my skin, and gone to bed smelling like a nuclear waste vat.

All for nothing.

I can turn it only slightly to the left without pain.

Sleeping at night is awful....and I mean it's more awful that usual with 1-2 children and a dog in bed with us.

So I took myself to MedExpress today and waited for the inevitable diagnosis and the advice to get my affairs in order.

Instead, the doc pushed on the sore area and I held in a scream. He kept pushing and saying, "That hurt? Yep. You got a pretty good spasm there."


I'm no MD, but I could have told him THAT,

Final diagnosis: Sprain.

I've heard of a sprained ankle, a sprained foot...even a sprained arm, but a sprained NECK?

And I have no clue how it got that way. The doc said I could have slept on it wrong.

I think it's more likely one of the roundhouse kicks my 3 year old likes to give in the middle of the night. Too many times I've been rudely awakened by her tiny foot landing square on my nose. And with authority.

Or the dog who sleeps ON TOP of my legs so I can't roll over.

Maybe it's from yelling at the kids until all the veins in my neck bulge out.

Hmmm. Wait. Maybe a sprain isn't so far fetched.

I love this doctor though. He wrote me a prescription for "1 little bell and 1 case of bons bons."

That's awesome. It was for Joe's benefit of course. And what a farce. Every mom out there reading knows that, next to death, nothing keeps a mom from her duties. I could have a broken neck and I'd still have to clean poop and scrub the toilet. :)

The REAL prescription he wrote: a steroid, a pain killer and a muscle relaxer. So, after I take that muscle relaxer, I know I'll wake up 18 hours later, face down on the kitchen floor.

But the beauty of that is...I will have slept the entire 18 hours without dog gymnastics or karate chops to  the face.

Glass half full.

Monday, October 24, 2011

From Ugly to Awesome. ;)

A little change of pace.

I scored this adorable kid sized armoire/dresser/bureau thingy from Craigslist.

$20.

I was jumping up and down. Joe not so much since he is my dedicated (as in I make him go, not as in he is committed to doing it) pick up dude.

Here's how it started out when I first made its acquaintance.

Isn't she a beauty? 
I forgot myself and had already removed the drawers and started sanding before I took the "Before" pic.

Side note to all Craigslist sellers: CHECK YOUR ITEM FOR OLD BELONGINGS BEFORE PICKUP!: I found 2 pairs of undies and a bra under the bottom drawer. Ew.

Here's an up-close shot of the door and the sweet faux finish someone put on it a while ago.

Look at that. I'm not sure what I like better...the amazing finish or the scotch tape marks.

And get a load of this...


We obviously had a serious Grease Fan on our hands.

I did a little sanding, and then some painting...and voila:



I couldn't put the door back on because it needs one more coat of paint, but Joe and I looked at it and said, "Let's just leave it off!" Granted, a door would be nice to close away the mess that inevitably will become of the costumes. But I could put a little trim around the doorway to finish it off and call it a day.

I like the fresh, white look, but I couldn't resist adding these details:


Each of the kids' first initials.

You can clearly see this faaaaaaar from perfect, but I absolutely don't care! I love it. And it's going to take quite a beating from the kids anyway. 


Most importantly, they love it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Channeling Angelina Jolie

I feel I have to preface this post with the following:

I LOVE my life. I love my kids and I love the big family we have. I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING.

Not ANYTHING!

Now...having said all that...

Every day I spend a good 13-14 hours being begged, yelled at, touched, hugged, pulled on, cried to, argued with, demanded of, sassed, harassed, pooped on, and spit up on.

I do the dishes, prepare meals, do the laundry, clean the house, pick up toys, pick up toys, pick up toys, pay the bills, change diapers, wipe faces, mediate disagreements, and kiss boo boos.

I deal with phone calls where I can't hear, emails I can't answer timely, homework that gets turned in late, and at the same time I try to run a business out of my home.

I schlep 2 kids to elementary and 1 to preschool, and pick them all up a few hours later--with 2 babies tagging along.

Getting a shower is a feat unto itself. Putting on makeup and fixing my hair is an olympic achievement in my world.

Contorting myself into a pretzel is easier than organizing a babysitter for an evening out. Doctor's appointments are acts of bravery with the 3 youngest all present in that small, phone booth-sized room.

Nap time is my solace, but getting all 3 down at the same time so I can accomplish something is almost impossible. By the time all of them are asleep(IF they all go to sleep), it's time to wake them up to go get the boys from school.

Repairs and appointments are my responsibility--both for scheduling and for follow-through.

So, tell me ladies...how in the world do I flip the switch and turn into Angelina Jolie at the end of the day? Exactly how far down do I have to dig to pull out my Megan Fox persona when the lights are dimmed and the kids are in bed?

What's the secret (other than having Angelina's 6+ nannies, personal chef, limitless funds, and time and ability to jet around the world)?

If you're able to balance all of your hats, how do you do it?

My "Mom" and "CEO" hats are pretty stuck. It's nearly impossible to shift from "Mom" and "Caretaker" to "Wife" at the end of the day. Especially when all I want to do is veg on the couch catching up on DVR'd shows, have a snack that I don't have to share, and fall asleep.

How do YOU do it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is It Just Me?


Or are people increasingly rude anymore?

Take today for example...I walked up to take the boys to school. The school is at the end of our road. Convenient? Sort of. It would be IDEAL if it weren't for the ridiculous roller coaster hill I have to go first, DOWN and then, much worse, UP to get there. But I consider it good glut exercise, and--let's be honest--I can always use glut exercises.

So I was juuuuust cresting the top of that mammoth hill when this obnoxious woman glances my way, sees me coming, and....stands right there. In the middle of the sidewalk.

It wouldn't be so bad if the school had a parking lot and the cars didn't park on the sidewalk to leave the roadway clear. So, there I am, huffing and puffing, sure I'm going to die, envisioning the finish line like a marathoner probably does, ready to spray my head with my water bottle, when I see that my sliver of sidewalk is invaded. And by a mom no less.

And I have to stop. Dead in my tracks at the TOP of the hill. We haven't quite plateaued yet, so one false move and I will be skating backward down that long hill. I counted to 3 before she finally slid a fraction of an inch out of my way. That's how long it took her to move.

Let's harken back to yesterday. Same place. This time, I'm leaving the school. And another woman, equally as aware of my presence, stands in the middle of the sidewalk again. In fact, she throws her arm around her son, looks at me, and then turns her back and sashays...I kid you not...in front of me at a snail's pace. I actually--once again--had to STOP.

I could take this only so long, and then I burned rubber up into the grass to get around her. And I heard her snort laugh as I passed. She thought it was funny that I was annoyed, I guess.

This woman....who happens to bring a large tumbler of some kind of drink with her to the school (Thought that was an interesting and somewhat puzzling piece of trivia)...thought it was funny to sashay her bedazzled jeans in my face. That last part is genuine--no exaggeration there. About the sashaying OR the bedazzled jeans. I wouldn't joke about the bedazzler.

And these are Moms. Fellow workers in the trenches. They--of all people--should know the frustration and stress that comes with carpooling kids around in a vehicle that constantly gets jammed up and wheels all turned around...especially on a freaking ginormous hill where I am begrudgingly given about 6 inches of space to land my wheels.

ARRRRGH! It's enough to make me absolutely lose my mind.

Rude. Rude. Rude.

I go out of my way to accommodate people. Honestly. Not only would I have MOVED my fat a--, er..not only would I have MOVED out of the way, but I would probably have asked how I could HELP. But I guess that's just me (and my friends...I know they would have done the same.)

And I really don't feel like trying to sort out all the reasons why maybe these women were oblivious to the fact that I was clearly on the sidewalk--whether it was a bad day, just got bad news, stressed out, not feeling well, etc etc-- I just don't care. I've had all those same experiences and STILL managed to be aware of my surroundings AND kind to others. So there.

But...if these same people didn't move out of my way last year when I was pushing the same double stroller AND 22 months pregnant, WHY would I be surprised that they aren't moving NOW?

So, the next time you see a mom struggling to push a stroller and make sure the small child walking alongside isn't dragged along or following 20 paces behind, please be kind to her. No need for "special" treatment for stroller moms, just some common courtesy. Meaning get the hell out of the way or you may lose a toe.

Just sayin.'

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where's The Remedial Course on How To Parent?

Today started out like any other. Joe got the boys off to school, the smallest three were fed and happily playing and I was just about to settle in with a cup of coffee and my laptop to do some work when Joe came back from dropping off the boys.

He said, "I have someone with me."

Which I knew meant our 6 year old didn't stay at school.

I knew that he was upset and claiming to "not feel well" since the night before, but I also know a shyster when I see one.

He'd confided in me that he'd gotten "yelled at" the day before by the kindergarten teacher for being in the hall when he wasn't supposed to be.

Just so you know...I did not get all up in arms about it like I did the Lunch Lady Situation.

In fact, I was on board 100% with his getting reprimanded since he was admittedly fooling around in the hallway and distracting other students. I explained to him that he needs to be in HIS room where he belongs in order to be learning and stay safe-- and so he isn't distracting the other students.

My Mama Bear Meter was humming nicely at '5' on a scale of 0-100.

So, pan forward to this morning when he starts throwing a holy fit and giving Joe the business. Joe was at the end of his rope. He doesn't know how to handle R when he gets that way. I think I do (or may?) but I'm not always patient enough to follow through with it.

Joe even spoke with R's wonderful, sweet, kind teacher about it and she assured R he would be fine with her. Apprently R thought the teacher who had reprimanded him didn't like him anymore.

When Joe brough him home, I could read the frustration all over his face. R was embarrassed and wouldn't even come in the house because he was so worried about what I would say.

I calmly talked with him about what happened and tried to pry the details out of him. That kid is tighter than Fort Knox.

Since that got me exactly no where, I explained that just because he got in trouble did not mean he could stay home. He yelled how much he hated school and how 'stupid' it was.

I reinforced to him that the teacher was doing her job and he should have been following directions, not fooling around.

So, in the van we went, with R literally grabbing every door frame in sight.

I can only imagine what the neighbors must have thought as I carried/half dragged him by his hand to the van.

Things went from bad to worse when we got to the school. He refused to unbuckle and when I got in to unbuckle him myself he employed the Ninja/Vulcan death grip on the headrest. I had to do the ole trapezius pinch again just to get him out of the van.

When his feet finally hit the pavement, I was actually sweating.

Long story short....the principal was nice enough to talk with R and remind him how we all make mistakes and as long as we learn from our mistakes, that's the important thing. Then the principal allowed me to walk R up to his classroom as opposed to merely sending him on his way. (This was especially necessary since R was attached to my leg with a white knuckle grip.)

I was able to talk with his teacher and, on a lark, also with the kindergarten teacher who had reprimanded him the day before. She explained to him why she told him to get in his room and reassured him she still liked him.

Then, I kissed him and ushered him in his room.

What a spectacle. The whole class was disrupted and ended up staring at him. Which, you may know makes him melt. He hates to have people look at him. He gets very anxious.

So...here I sit with 943 things I could and SHOULD be doing, but all I can think about is this scene.

Did I handle it right?

It seems like such a fine line between coddling and supporting him. I don't want to set a precedent for this behavior by entertaining it, but at the same time, I want him to understand that I am here for him, Always. I see the actual living fear in his eyes when he gets like this.

It kills me to know that he feels like I'm leading him to the Lion's Den when I force him to face situations that frighten him, even though I know that I know that I know that I'm doing the right thing.

And then, of course, I revisit all my own anxieties about wanting to homeschool him. I struggle with:

Would homeschooling or cyber schooling only worsen the issue by keeping him from facing the issue of social anxiety or would it benefit him by giving him the nurturing and support he needs in a safe environment, preparing him for eventual integration in the public education scene? He's clearly a different kid.

I have zero worries about our 5 year old. I don't even imagine needing or wanting to pull him out to homeschool or cyber school him. He's never presented such deeply rooted social anxieties like R has and does.

So...any advice out there is welcome. Nice advice. It doesn't have to be in agreement with me,  but it does have to be presented well. You're dealing with a mother's broken heart here.

Anyone dealt with this before? Have anything that's "worked" for you? I'm all ears.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm The Mom Who Does It All

That's right.

I do it ALL.

I have a big family: 5 kids ages 6, 5, 3 1/2, 2 & 8 months

I stay-at-home

I work out of my home and run a successful business

I am active in my church

I try to spend time with each child individually every day

I help my kids with their homework

I try to teach them manners and ethics and respect for self and others

I support my husband and love him with my whole heart.

I try to do the above as much as possible in front of my kids and verbally to others so that I can uplift him in that way.

I have a huge heart and try to help others often

I try to listen and be there for others

I do my best to provide a warm, inviting, welcoming home for my family and friends.

I wash pile after pile of laundry: sort, wash, dry, fold and put away. Almost daily.

I attend school full time working toward a Masters in Elementary Education

Yep. That's right. I'm pretty spectacular, right?

Let me share with you the WHOLE story. Because when I say I do it ALL....I really mean I do IT ALL!

I also stress. Every single day. About anything and everything.

I daily cross the line from healthy concern to obsessive compulsive whether it's about my home or other people.

I analyze and over analyze everything said to me.

I worry every night about a tragedy in my family and how I would possibly go on.

I fret that I will never graduate and I will drown in my school responsibilities.

I snap at my kids on a daily basis.

I'm not always kind to my husband and often take him for granted.

I'm the suckiest daughter on the planet because I can go months (and have) without so much as a phone call to my parents.

I have certain expectations of people because I think people will think and react like me.

I get disappointed when people don't think, act and react like I do/would.

I am the very definition of snap judgment and hair trigger temper.

I throw things when I get mad.

I have a trucker mouth when I drive.

I lose it sometimes with my kids. I mean--lose it.

I don't always shower every day. 

I pick pick pick on my husband about his quirky little idiosyncrasies that annoy the buh-jeezis out of me.

I think the most awful things about people sometimes for absolutely no reason. They could be a complete stranger or my best friend.

This post grew out of one of my hair trigger annoyances.

I grow so tired of reading blog posts and status updates and tweets about the mom who "does it all." The 520 dozen cookies baked, crafts completed, places visited, charities helped, friends lunched with, pounds lost, items sewn, diy projects completed flawlessly, careers mastered, infants potty trained, 1 year olds reading, etc etc etc... You can almost see the words being wrapped up with a ribbon by singing blue birds.

And I feel all hateful just reading it...especially if I know the person and understand that this is just  a picture they are painting for others.

But I guess we're all guilty of that at times, right?

I know I even fall into one or more of those categories with blog posts and status updates I myself have posted.

But I'm over it.

I ain't perfect.

Faaaaaaaaaaar from it.

And I'm just gonna stand up here and let you know that.

So, if I slip up and post something along those lines and or gag inducing, and you want to give me a sound punch to the face, please forgive me the indiscretion and remember this post.

I'm flawed. Enormously so.

If I were fabric, I wouldn't be the brand new, crisp bolt that just arrived in the store. I am the remnant up front marked down for half off. My edges are cut all crooked and may be slightly fraying.

But instead of calling it ruined, I'll call it character. ;)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Whut the Whut?!

I'm going to wax philosophical here for a bit.

Many of you know I wrote a short-lived "side" blog telling my personal story.

It was very hard to write and was 34 years in the making.

Most were supportive.

Some were not.

And while it shouldn't surprise me, it still does when I come across a hater or someone who is angry at me for sharing the truth.

Why am I surprised that one of the key "characters" in my other blog is obviously not too happy about what I wrote? I guess I thought that we'd worked past that and were able to at least be civil.

But I've since discovered that two of his relatives have "unfriended" me on Facebook. We all know that's the 2011 equivalent of the middle finger.

That hits me on a couple of levels.

My first pang comes with realizing that they must A) not believe me and think I made it all up, B) believe him and he must be a better liar than I ever gave him credit for and C) want absolutely nothing to do with me all for telling the truth.

It's hurtful, annoying, enraging, ridiculous, and upsurd all rolled together.

I know, I know..."Shake it off!" "Forget them!" "Why does it bother you so much? "Why do you care?!"

This is me, people! I don't just forget. I'm not made of steel. I am a ball of emotion and that's sometimes to my detriment. Exhibit A.

I'll never understand how some people think. I'll never wrap my mind around how some people can fall into a pile and come out smelling like a rose. I'll never "get" how some people will stare truth in the face and spit in its eye.

Just don't get it.

And...actually... I hope I never do. I don't ever want to understand why lying is favored over truth.

Or why people would stop being my friend.

I mean, I'm pretty terrific, damn it!

And if you disagree, what in the world are you doing reading?

Anyway...I'm over it.

Okay I'm not really, but I'm getting there.

Joe is bringing home a bottle of wine and we're going  to start the weekend enjoying each other's company.

Not worried about petty, small individuals who know the truth and choose to ignore it.

And it looks like I've moved to the anger stage...

The Credenza That Almost Killed Me

With all the crazy Lunch Lady drama (which you can read HERE and HERE), I completely got off track with the credenza project.

I know you've been waiting.

First off, I never did lose my vision, thankfully. After the freak primer incident, I wasn't sure.

Here's where I started with the enormous credenza that could easily double as an efficiency apartment in New York City:


And then, if you remember, I got this far before almost blowing my head off with an ancient can of primer:




I took about 2 weeks off and completely forgot about it.

Then, one day I just said, "What the heck?" And jumped back in.

I had these things in hand:
Clear glaze
Brown paint
Paint brush
Cloth

I remembered Lisa's directions (from Recaptured Charm) to use a ratio of 4:1 for glaze and paint mixing, respectively.

And as I poured the paint into the glaze, I realized I have absolutely no concept of ratios.

The brown paint just got away from me. And just by eyeballing it, I'd say the ratio was more like 3 7/8:2 1/3. You know, if I had to guess.

I dipped my brush in the mixture, took 3 deep lamaze breaths and slathered it all over the cabinet door.

Then I took my old cloth and wiped part of it off.

And then I panicked because:
1) I quickly deduced that one lonely old shirt wasn't going to be nearly enough for wiping the glaze off this whole credenza and
2) There is a reason Lisa said to use the ratio of 4:1. This stuff wasn't coming off.

Instead of a nice, subtle brown-ish film on my pristine white door, it looked like I dipped the door in mud. Or something else the same shade. I'll let you use your imagination.

I quickly grabbed a roll of paper towels and started scrubbing at the door, trying to rub off as much of the brown as I could.

I could tell this was going to be heavy on the "shabby" and not so much on the "chic."

Joe was great. He told me he liked it. So I pressed on.

When I ran out of the glaze mixture, I whipped up another batch. This time, I used just a DASH of the brown paint. It was sooooooo much better!

The only problem with that was, now the glaze was wiping right off and leaving only a faint residue--the way I originally wanted it to look. But I couldn't leave it that way because it wouldn't match the rest of it.

%$@*&!

So I added some more paint and finished the rest.

Here's how it looks in my living room.

Disregard that there are some essential pieces missing: the hardware. That's yet to come. I donated the original hardware to some gothic castles in Scotland.



There are the 2 middle doors. I started with the one on the left, hence the more beat-up look.

I swear I saved them to my computer the right way and when I uploaded them to the blog, they went back sideways. Sorry. You'll just have to tilt your head to the side.

What I've learned after all this is that I hate it. I want to re-do it.

You can agree. It won't hurt my feelings.

I'll have to be quick because it's getting colder outside.

This time, I might actually follow directions.

Maybe.

I'll keep you posted. Barring anymore school shenanigans.

I'm linking this post to



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

P.S. Lunch Lady

Thank you for meeting with me today, Lunch Lady (Can I call you LL? I feel we've reached that place in our relationship.)

I appreciate you taking 10 minutes out of your morning to meet with the mom with steam rolling out of her ears, but tactfully holding it all together for the sake of professionalism.

I'm happy to say that I ignored my every impulse to greet you with a punch to the face, but instead silently recited the mantra "Listen. Listen. Listen" so that I could hear your side of the story.

And what I heard was only slightly different from what R told me yesterday.

Your addition to the drama was that R is very social (I hid my surprise) and he apparently likes to work the room at lunch time. I'm reserving final judgment on the validity of that claim since I know he CAN be social, but not sure HOW social he is in a room full of kids he only slightly knows.

I metaphorically pumped my fist because he must be coming out of his shell and adjusting in school. That's a reason to celebrate in our house. Too many mornings, LL, have been spent with me sweating while I physically have to dress him, carry him to the door and force him outside to go to school. All while he digs in his heels and begs me not to send him.

You told me that he walks the aisles of lunch 3 out of the 4 days you have lunch duty and he won't listen when you tell him to sit in his seat.

Why am I just now hearing about this? It's week 3 of school and I am just now hearing that he's being insubordinate?

I assured you that we are "Rule Followers" at our house. We do not seek to undermine anyone's authority. However, I want to make the distinction clear that YOU are an extension of US. I want to be clued in if you consider my son a disciplinary problem.

I also made it clear that we are not comfortable with him sitting at a table by himself as punishment. The table that I consequently found out is the Peanut Allergy Table. (The kids with Peanut Allergies have to sit at a table by themselves for their own safety during lunch.)

I think we can be on the same page here. We both want R to behave. We both agree he can't be a hazard or a distraction (or inspiration) to others in the lunch room. I'm with you on that.

I'll do my part to support you and your rules at home. But I can't do that if I'm unaware that there is a problem.

I left the school today feeling reassured that he won't be singled out, yet he is expected to adhere to the rules. There are other ways of addressing the issue should he choose to disobey.

I also stopped in and chatted with the school secretary about it and she understands where I am coming from.

Let's start over fresh. I'm ready to put this behind us and I think you are too.

I appreciate that you asked if you should pull R out of class to chat with him. I also appreciate that you apologized to me for making him so scared that he cried and begged to stay home.

*Cue violin*

It's water under the bridge.

Onward and upward.

Bring on the remaining 150+ days of school. I can only imagine what they will hold...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Open Letter to the Lunch Lady

Dear Lunch Lady,

I can appreciate that you may not enjoy spending so many hours of your day policing elementary students during lunch when they're hyped up on sugar and letting loose a little of their pent up energy.

I can appreciate that you get sick of giving the same directive 5 million times.

I can also appreciate that if Little Jimmy doesn't listen one more time, your head may very well explode.

Oh how I can appreciate those things. It is, after all, my life on a daily basis. I may only have 5 while you corall a cafeteria full, but I understand the frustration none-the-less.

What I DON'T appreciate is that you chose to make my son so fearful of coming to school tomorrow that he sobbed as he begged me not to make him go.

No. Don't understand that at all.

I also don't appreciate that it took me 45 minutes to get it out of him, the reason why he didn't want to go to school tomorrow.

Finally, after practically pulling teeth, holding him, and corecing the details out of him, I found out that he was told he'll have to sit alone at a table tomorrow at lunch time.

Because why?

What was his heinous crime? What is the reason you are choosing to ostracize him and publicly humiliate him?

Was he bullying another student?

Did he use foul langauge?

Did he destroy school property?

Did he talk back to an authority figure?

Was he causing a scene and disrupting other students?

Did he cause someone bodily harm?

Oh yes-- that's right...he went up to the garbage can to throw away his trash not once, as the rules apparently allow, but TWICE.

Yes! Of course! THAT'S why you would take a 6 year old little boy, who already has issues with anxiety and fearing school because he thinks everyone is "looking at him" and place them AT A TABLE ALONE SO THAT ALL HIS PEERS CAN SEE THAT HE IS IN TROUBLE. FOR THROWING GARBAGE AWAY.

Brilliant.

Where did you go to school? Sign me up.

My Mama Bear Meter just went from 0 to 100 in about .3 seconds.

Do I think my son is perfect?

Hardly.

Do I think he's above being naughty or misbehaving in school?

Laughable.

Do I know that he deserves his time outs like the rest of them?

Absolutely.

But you will never, NEVER convince me that singling out a student and using humiliation as a method of reinforcement is the appropriate action.

Nor will you convince me that a 6 year old, in the 3rd week of school, should be reprimanded so strongly and threatened with segregation from the student body so that he actually cries and begs me not to make him go to school.

This is a little guy who is so shy it's painful. He can't be 1 minute late because he doesn't want to walk into a room full of people who will look at him when he enters.

He locks up and shuts down on us sometimes because he can't always express his emotions.

He is someone who I have long thought has some kind of sensory issues and has to be approached gently or it's too overwhelming.

And regardless of all this...even if R were a typical student who even defiantly marched up to the trash can for the offensive second time.....I still don't think the punishment fits the "crime."

Last year R had to sit in the principal's office because he was playing in the boys bathroom when he shouldn't have been. It was embarrassing to him and he felt awful about it.

And I was absolutely, 100% okay with it.

You do the crime, you do the time.

But this? This...I am not okay with.

I'm allowing myself to reserve full judgment until I actually speak with you, "lunch lady." I may be my child's biggest proponent, but I am NOT so naive as to think he's above reproach. I realize that certain-- shall we say-- necessary details could have been conveniently "forgotten."

I will listen to you tell me what happened, Lunch Lady.

But let me tell you if what you say matches what R said...and you still believe sitting him at a table by himself for the lunch period is appropriate...I'm not responsible for the words that may fly out of my mouth...or the teeth that may fly out of yours.

So maybe that last part was only for effect...but you get the idea.

I will not go quietly into that good night.

After our initial conversation was over...hours later...R said to me, "I've seen people sitting at that table before."

I was a little confused and asked "What table?"

He said, "The brown table where I have to sit tomorrow." And he couldn't look me in the eye.

Suddenly I could see it. The brown table.

That lonely, brown, laminate lunch table that sits off to the side by itself. The "trouble" table.

The table where the "bad kids" sit.

I can't bear it. It makes me sick to think about it.

What if he hadn't told me?

I'd never know because there was no note or phone call home. He would have been forced to sit alone while all his friends watched him eat his lunch by himself.

You want to break a mom's heart-just picture your baby in that scenario.

Absolutely not.

I won't be "that mom" who thinks Jr. can do no wrong and her child will never face punishment.

No way. It certainly isn't how we live at home!

But, I won't ever allow my children to be publicly humiliated in the name of discipline.

Especially my sensitive little six-year-old guy who's afraid of his own shadow. The guy who holds his little brother back if he thinks he's too close to the edge of the steps. The guy who tells me I'm beautiful every day. The guy who is so afraid of dogs (we're talking tea-cup poodles here) that I had to wrestle him and peel each finger off the headrest the other day when we went to a friend's house who has a dog.

Uh uh.

I will die on this hill.

So, Lunch Lady, I'll do my very best to be open minded. I certainly hope this is all a misunderstanding and we can all "ha ha ha" laugh it off.

Because if it isn't...and if this goes the way I think it might..well, it may get pretty ugly.

So rest up, Lunch Lady. Tomorrow morning is only a few hours away and I'll be marching into school with R in tow. Ready to discuss.

Sincerely,

Me

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why Oh Why Did I Click On The Link??

As usual, I'm supposed to be doing a million things tonight.

Instead, I keep creeping on Facebook.

One of my "friends" posted a link to children needing to be adopted.

A voice in my head said, "Don't do it. Mandy. You know you can't handle this. You can't even watch the Feed the Children commercials without crying."

Naturally, I didn't listen and I clicked the link.

Why don't I ever listen?

I just spent 15 minutes bawling and snotting my way through a couple of pages of kids.

Young, older, teens, little ones. It's horrifying  to see how many kids need families and homes.

To see how many kids are caught in the system.

In some cases, entire families of siblings (7 or more!) are all awaiting adoption.

There's this one little guy...at THIS LINK HERE. His name is Andrew. And he had me at that beautiful little smile.

I don't know that we're in the position to adopt right now. 5 kids already in a 3 bedroom home. Add another (or more!) to that?

But I am inextricably drawn to  these kids. I want to give them love and security..and most importantly, a place to belong.

I have always had a heart for kids.

But I find myself asking God what my part is in all this? Am I merely a messenger of the link to others who may be able to offer them families?

Or is my part greater than that?

I can just see the look on Joe's face if I even suggested adoption.

Please look at this site: CLICK HERE

PLEASE LOOK.

Even if this isn't your calling...please share the link. Post it on Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you have ties to the person(s) who IS/ARE in the place to adopt and give someone a good home.

Now, how am I supposed to go back to business as usual after seeing these little faces listed with their "stats" like merchandise in a catalogue?

So sad.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WARNING: DIY Projects or Stupidity MAY Cause Blindness

Hello, my friends.

No, I haven't fallen off the planet.

I've just been so freakin' busy doing all kinds of nothing it seems!

School started this week. Boy WHAT a change this year from last year. Do you remember? I was a mess. An absolute mess trying to decide whether or not to send our oldest or homeschool.

I still have those moments of pause, but I discovered that if you endear yourself to the teacher, offer to help in the classroom and really make it a point to keep communication open, you don't have to worry as much.

I mean.......I still TOTALLY DO worry about him. All day. All the time.

And now I have TWO to worry about since our 5 year old started kindergarten.

But it's in God's hands, right?


Anywho...on to today's post.

This mammoth credenza I scored for FREE on Craigslist.


These pictures really don't do justice to how large this thing really is.

So, I took a pic with my hand on one of the handles so you can get an idea of scale.

Is this a credenza or is Sir Lancelot behind that door?

This handle could easily double as a weapon in a pinch.  Or a dumbell.

Here are a few other shots of the whole thing:


Nice upclose shot of the wood grain on top...and my tootsies. Sorry bout that.
It really wasn't in that bad of shape. It was just ugly. To me.

Plus I saw this amazing buffet redo on Recaptured Charm and I was dying to give it a try. Why not try on this? It was FREE after all...

I read and re-read Lisa's post at Recaptured Charm. I gathered my supplies and was ready to dig in.

The down side was that I forgot to get primer at Lowe's, so I decided I would just paint the white base over and over until it covered. What would that be...maybe 3-4 coats?

Um, try about 10 coats. No exaggeration. I actually lost count, there were so many.

It was about the 8th coat that I remembered we had all that leftover paint in the garage (from previous owners and previous projects). I thought I'd hit the jackpot when I spied a small can of primer in the back.

I disregarded the rusted, mildewy looking lid (which was domed, I might add) and the fact that it sounded like there was water inside.

Instead, I shook that b---h like there was no tomorrow since it sounded like it had separated. I didn't have a stir-er handy so I figured I was saving myself a step.

I grabbed the paint opener and BARELY had it under the lip of the lid when there was a LOUD POP and that friggin lid BLASTED off and nearly took my head off. Old, nasty, separated primer flew up into my eye.

I was stunned and just stood there for a minute. Then I raced upstairs, waiting for the burning, pain and blindness to set in, and ripped my contact out of my eye, shaking like a madwoman.

Then I decided it was time for a break.

Here's how far I got before chickening out for a day or two:

And the rest is yet to come...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Strike-Vacation- and a Dog

I sit here in a much better frame of mind since my last post.

I have promised myself that even though things are looking up I won't forget the important lessons we learned because of the situation we were in a couple of weeks ago.

My husband was on strike.

It sucked.

We were without a paycheck for 15 days.

It might as well have been 15 years for how it felt.



Especially since we had absolutely no idea how long the strike would take.

Even though I was ready to jump off a cliff, I did meet some amazing and terrific people. We banded together and worked things out to help one another.

It was a wonderful feeling and one I hope I don't lose as we get back to business as usual.

Anywho...we decided to take a little minivacay to see my family who live by a large body of water. Our kids had never been to the beach before, so it was awesome to see their little faces as they splashed around in the water.

It was also so nice to reconnect with family and friends I haven't really talked with in years.

It was a balm to our wounded souls.

And now we're back to reality and back to work.

This could happen all over again in a month, but let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Oh yeah...and we got a dog.

Because I don't have nearly enough poop around the house to clean up.

He's a stray and he's wooooonderful!

His name is Dexter...after my fave television serial killer.

And that about sums up our week.

 Strike-vacation-and a dog.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Things You Learn in a Crisis

Oh how I would love to be posting about the dresser and credenza projects I've been working on. But there are other things going on that are sapping me of my desire to DIY right now. I don't want to get into details, but we are, once again, at a crossroads of uncertainty about our future.

It's so easy to be in my own little world with my carefully thought out  beliefs and ideals. I'm safe inside my suburban picket fence, looking out at everyone else from relative safety and comfort.

This past week, mine and Joe's beliefs on a few levels have been challenged and outright changed. Those people we thought we were--the people we thought were represented by checking off a box at election time--has taken an amazing about face.

The world is not black and white. There are so many gray areas. I hate the concepts of group think and assumptions, and I am learning first-hand how ignorant it can be to follow along with a set way of thinking without really digging deep to understand what it is that you believe...and why.

There is no teacher like Experience. Experience yields wisdom. I wish we could have received the Cliff's Notes version of this particular wisdom, but God seems to like to use (or needs to use) the direct approach with me as far as learning a lesson. I am not always someone who can learn from someone elses mistakes, so I often find myself in the front seat of an amazing and scary and life changing situation. Like now.

I'm sorry if you came here to read some light-hearted humor about our crazy life. How I wish I was in the frame of mind to offer that. This is one of those times when my reality can't be softened with some witty banter and funny analogies. This is the cold hard world landing on my front doorstep.

I'm embarrassed that I have for so long held to ideals and beliefs without really understanding the stance I was taking. I was the product of group think and maybe wanting to fit into a group that seemed like they had it all together. It seems a consistent theme, though, that I have to re-examine what it is I stand for and how I intend to represent myself and others. It's amazing...Christ never changes. He is who He is, yet, my perception of Him is changing all the time. Just when I think I've got it...got Him...figured out, something happens and I realize I had it all wrong.

Those who I thought were in our circle are now (seemingly) the ones to bury their heads and hope it all just goes away. Those who we would never have thought we'd stand shoulder to shoulder with (simply because we had different viewpoints or just didn't move in the same circles) are now our closest allies.

So, I am challenging myself to think about...really think about..what it is I stand for. And then back it up with my actions.

So that's where we are...it seems you never stop learning life lessons. And this one is a doozey.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Charge{er} It!

I am totally hooked on this new crafty/DIY thing.

After linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick's Before & After Party (and having almost 300 people --in ONE DAY!!--visit my blog and read about my kitchen makeover!) I have found a new love.

I have always loved my home and try to make it as attractive and homey as possible. But I didn't really think I had a "knack" for it. Now I'm realizing that if I like the way it looks and my family feels homey and happy in it...that's all that matters.

Yesterday was like Christmas in August at our house. Whenever I watch shows like Cash in the Attic or any other makeover show on HGTV, the designers come in and "find" a bunch of stuff in the homeowners' home and they repurpose it for other projects. I always think to myself, "That's a load of crap. That was either planted or the designers knew it was there before-hand. That kind of thing never really happens..."

Well...I stand humbly corrected. It happened at our house yesterday.

I was given a small dresser by a neighbor recently. It's hideous in all it's 60's splendor. It's been used for the past 40-something years and has all the cobwebs, scratches and dings to prove it.

I loved how it looked though. Despite the weird pulls. The "handle" was along the bottom of all of the drawers and it went the entire length of each drawer too. Weird.

I knew I wanted to paint it, hack off those old handles and put on new hardware, but I really didn't want to spend much money on doing it.

My husband and I were hanging out in the garage when we re-discovered all the gallons of paint the previous owners left behind. About 15 gallons.

All different colors.

One of the gallons had never been opened and never used...it was black.

Squeal!

That is exactly the color I wanted to paint the dresser.

Not only that...we found the paint to our front door (which we've decided needs a new paint job after 6 years) and to the living room (which is a faux finish that we will never be able to duplicate). It was amazing.

That dresser project is yet to come. Hopefully tomorrow when the last coat of poly dries.

Today though...I present you with a new project I am working on...

I have 12 gold plate chargers. I bought them for a Christmas themed dinner at my church. I was responsible for decorating one of the tables. The dinner lasted 2 hours, but I have these chargers for a lifetime. I really don't want to get rid of them or throw them away...they're kind of pretty.

But I have NO IDEA what to do with them.

Before you suggest the obvious...we don't use fancy plates here at our house. Considering at least 2 kids end up winging or "accidentally" knocking it off the table at every meal...so using them for their intended purpose is not happening.

Here's a pic of one.

 Remember I have 12 of these...they're slightly bigger than a dinner plate. I don't have to use all 12 of them, but it would be nice to use as many as possible.

I'm willing to paint them or Modge Podge them (whenever I figure out exactly what Modge Podge is, Ha!)

But cutting is out since I don't have those kinds of tools.

I am willing to glue them to some kind of board or somehow affix them to something to hang on the wall......just not sure how to go about all that.

I took some inspirational pics off Pinterest.

Here are a few:


You can find  this photo on Pinterest HERE

You can find this pic HERE on Pinterest

And this one is HERE on Pinterest.

 I'd really love any feedback/suggestions from those of you who know more about this type of stuff than  I do (so...about 99% of the population!)

But keep in mind that I am a little craft challenged. I can spray paint with the best of them, but as far as painting delicate or intricate designs...well, that's a little above my pay grade, if you know what I mean.

I welcome your input. Thank you!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Anatomy of a Date

Joe and I did the unthinkable Saturday night.

We went on a date.

Without kids.

We were almost as giddy as on our first date.

There was the usual deliberation of where to go (and what's still open since we haven't been on an honest to goodness, bona fide date since the Bush Administration.)

We settled on PF Chang.

We announced to our server that we were on our first date in forever without kids. Just to warn her.

Yes, we were that couple.

We ate our body weight in amazing food and I drank 4 glasses of wine. Ridiculous. (and no, I wasn't driving.)

Then, to commemmorate the event, we decided to snap a quick pic with Joe's iPhone.

Unfortunately, we got a wonderful shot of the hostess stand since we forgot to reverse the camera.



By the FIFTH shot, I think we got it.

For your viewing pleasure:


We both cracked up when the iPhone's interrogation SPOT LIGHT flash went off. 

Joe's "CHEESE"

All of Joe's chins showed up for this shot. And what's up with my flaming cheeks??

My cheeks are still flaming...but I think we got it.
Mission Accomplished: Date Successful!

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Reveal...My Kitchen

I know you have all been waiting with bated breath...

Finally the kitchen is [mostly] done! (Save a few minor tweaks.)

Here's what we started with so many years ago (Sorry, we weren't in the mindset of "before" pics, so these are actually pics with family and friends in them. Just look at the background.)

Look at this sweet laminate, peel-n-stick "parquet" flooring.

I wishI could blame this horrid color choice on the previous owners, but...well...this was all us. And notice that portable dish washer (with the microwave on top) in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Maybe the color wouldn't have been SO bad...if it was an ACCENT


Believe it or not, we actually LIVED like this for over a year...hideous color and NO cabinet doors!

This monster fridge was in the garage of this house when we moved in...
Later we thought, "Hey...there could have been a body kept in this thing and here we're using it for food..."
It was GROSS! Rusty, it "bled" something gross and black from the bottom and made all kinds of weird groans and noises.

Here's the sliver of room we had to squeak through to get down to our finished basement.

How embarrassing...so dirty and unattractive.

One can never have too much laminate sheeting counter top...and chipped at that. Nothing says home like fake butcher block.

I got a little demo happy one day and decided we'd remove the tile backsplash. I made it all the way through the plaster and lath.
No, I'm not proud of THAT or of this patch job done by yours truly.

Beauty shot...the underneath of our sink and the broken garbage disposal.


Then we got a hair up the bum and decided to rip off that nasty peel and stick and see what was underneath. Here's what happened with that:



Oh this is just awful. It's reminiscent of the floor tiles in the nurse's office at school. But look at the lovely pattern they came up with. And notice the water damage that had obviously seeped through layers of old flooring. Our portable dishwasher overflowed one night and flooded the kitchen. I'm sure that wasn't the FIRST time that had happened.

And then Joe set out to peel every single one of those suckers up. He worked for 3 days straight.

And this is what we were greeted with. Tar paper. The left over glue from 3 layers of linoleum, peel and stick & vinyl tiles.

As far as the eye could see......and why would they have taken up the first flooring when they could (and did) just  throw down the new stuff ON TOP OF the old???

So...that's what we lived with for so very long. We actually had a path of throw rugs on the floor to keep the kids from walking on that tar. I can't remember exactly how long it was like that, but I know FOR SURE it was too long!

We exhausted every avenue to remove the tar paper...we rented a commercial sander and tried every chemical known to man--both organic and poisonous. We interrogated every Home Depot & Lowes flooring employee and stalked many discussion boards online.

Nothing worked.

Finally, we decided to give locking laminate (non glue) flooring a try.

Joe camped out in the garage with a borrowed table saw and a hack saw, cutting the laminate pieces.

And swearing.

A lot.

I was convinced that he would come screaming into the house with a severed limb.

Thankfully, he didn't.

I found this really cool idea online on how to put a faux finish on your laminate countertop. It involved sanding, priming and painting your existing laminate. And then sponge painting the look of granite. Then, you pour a special food safe glaze over the top, allowing it to self level and using a blow torch to pop any bubbles.

Yeah, the blow torch was a little scary, but soooooo cool.

Here's how those two endeavors turned out...

We also painted the cabinets and drawers white.

It actually looked FABULOUS!

LOOK at that shine!

The floor looked fantastic too!

Er...if you didn't look too closely...our house is almost 70 years old and I guess they didn't believe in right angles back in the 1940s.
We lived with it for about 2 years. But the countertop didn't seal right and food started staining it. We just had to hold tight for a bit. After all...we could only afford so many makeovers.

I entered us into many, many HGTV makeover contests, but no luck.

I can't remember when we decided to give it another go. But we did.

Joe took up the laminate floor and we shook our heads AGAIN at the stubborn tar paper.

And then promptly covered it with MORE peel and stick tiles. Ones that looked more like ceramic flooring. It actually looked nice. And we knew it was only temporary until we could afford to lay real, ceramic tile.

And then...I came across an article in This Old House magazine. A lady re-did her kitchen floor and described how she'd used a wallpaper steamer to remove all the tar paper.

EUREKA!

Then, in conversation with my Father-in-law, he told me that he used HOT water in a squirt bottle and a putty knife to remove wallpaper.

I chewed on that for a couple of days.

And then...one day I was preparing the kids' lunch in the kitchen, and the corner of the tile I was walking on flipped up and caught my toe.

I saw stars and decided I'd had enough.

I lifted the tile and peered at that nasty tar paper below. Then I heated up 2 cups of water for 2 minutes, poured it into a plastic squirt bottle, and squirted it all over the tar paper.

And waited.

Tentatively, after about a minute, I started to scrape at it....AND IT STARTED TO COME OFF!

This is 6 tiles in. It got so exciting and addictive to watch that stuff scrape right off. Who woulda thunk it...WATER! After all the other stuff we'd tried.

When Joe saw, he got just as psyched as I was and we waged an all out war on that tar paper. For about a week straight, we took turns scraping.


Joe working away...feeling like Ground Hog's Day since he's spent a good bit of his life in this house on his knees in the kitchen.


We could see the fruits of our labor though, so it was so worth it.

And now....we are [almost] finished. and we love it!

And then I sanded the entire floor with a hand held sander.



Here's some before and after action (cuz I'm a sucker for those!)



BEFORE

AFTER

BEFORE

AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE

BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER
 More gratuitous AFTER shots...

*sigh* LOVE!

I plan to frost the glass on those cabinets since we don't have "pretty" stuff in there. It will still make it feel more open than a regular cabinet door.

LOVE this rug (on sale at Target for $23) even though the one I found online was slightly different

This one I found online was also about $125 MORE expensive!
 Things we still have to do:

*Fix the quarter round that broke under the toe kick of the sink.
*Frost the glass on the smaller cabinets above the stove
*Add a valance over the window above the sink (I'm going to try my hand at making one using ironed seam tape)
*Buy a microwave cart (to put where the portable dishwasher used to be) to free up more counter space.
*Some kind of decorative moulding to dress up the ends of countertop.

Isn't this spot just calling out for a microwave cart?
Ohhhhh can't wait!

And that wainscoting....it was done on a lark when we started hacking up the laminate flooring we'd originally put down. But I LOVE IT! I have SO MANY more plans for moulding in our house now. Much to Joe's chagrin. =)

Here is our ist of supplies/labor:

Counter top: Ikea. Amazingly, we spent less than $130 for two pieces (NOT EACH) that were fit together and the the seam was caulked. Love it! We paid a handyman to cut and install it. Waaaaay above our skill set. The same handyman also replaced those tiles I hastily ripped off the wall.
*My brother-in-law Rick made the cabinet doors and drawers. He was amazing...he came to our house (they live 2 hours away), took measuremements, had me email ideas of what I wanted, went home and created everything, and then drove back a few months later and installed them! $300!

*We bought a new fridge and stove in the meantime. The fridge was from Lowe's and the Stove was from Best Buy. Both were scratch and dent (hardly noticeable) and discounted!

*The light above the sink was bought at Lowe's and replaced by my honey.

*The wainscoting was also purchased and cut at Lowes and installed by Joe.

Just as we were standing back and oohing and awing at all of our work....we thought..."Hmmmm. Wonder what's under the tiles on the basement steps and landing????"

And guess what?

Well, that's to be continued...

I am linking up to Show Us Your Kitchen On Thrifty Decor Chick today!

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