New Sink Old Sink Red Sink Blue Sink

Ok full disclosure there is no red sink or blue sink in my house or even in the blog…
I just was feeling a little Seuss like today.

In more children’s literature style… “If you take a mouse to school” the kitchen sink story.

If you are walking up the street and see a nice and deep sink sitting in someone’s trash.

You will take the sink home.????????

When your kitchen sink starts to leak,

Your husband will want to fix the plumbing at 10 pm on a Saturday night, after a full day of course work, muding an attic room, doing dishes and helping chase kids into bed.

When your husband starts to fix the plumbing he will remember the found sink,

When pulls out the old sink to put in the found sink he will realize a new faucet would look nice.1234601_10202484924190630_835273856_n

When he gets back from Wal-Mart with the new faucet he will watch the neighbor shoot off Firework {only 1} in the middle of the street at 11:20 at night,

When he recovers from the shock of nearly being showered in sparks, he will continue fixing the sink.

When he puts in the found sink he will notice there is no ridge for the counter top clips to hold onto,1175320_10202484923990625_1561385316_n

When he realizes he cannot put in the found sink he will leave the opening on the counter and go to bed.

When you get up on Sunday morning you will see 2 sinks sitting in a row on the kitchen floor and laugh.

When you get home from church he will see the empty counter and get back to the sink fixing.

When he realizes the new sink won’t work he will want to return the nice new faucet for a cheaper faucet, {per my request}

When he puts back in the old sink with the cheaper faucet you will kiss him and tell him thank you for all your work.

What about you?  Any repairs that were better when put back to the original?
Go hug your kids and tell someone you love them!
jen

A Perfect Little Sweet Potato

So did you think I was going to talk about the fruit/vegetable?
What is a sweet potato?
A root?
A vegetable?
Besides yummy?
Or yummy when covered in butter and brown sugar!
At any rate I’m not talking about the foods, nope.  I’m talking about my baby.  There is a great website { The Bump } Their website tells you how big the baby is compared to fruits and vegetables.  Great visual for my kids and many others who need to see actual things.  So today the baby is as big as a sweet potato, about 5.6 inches long and 6.5 oz big.  Except that yesterday they said my baby is a little smaller than normal.  So not as big as a sweet potato but close.

I have been reserved in my joys of this pregnancy because the first appointment with my doctor held some very scary news.  It basically boiled down to my age, previous c-section, and my blood pressure.  It was at an unsafe and downright dangerous level and needed to drop immediately if not sooner.  The 20th anniversary trip we had planned, the tours, the meals, the peace and quiet, the conversations we wanted, could not happen.  We had to stay home and guard the pregnancy and in fact me too.  Thankfully the medicine the doctor prescribed began working almost immediately and with in 5 days my blood pressure was back to a safe area, actually well into normal.  He was also worried because my c-section and then there is the age factor.  Yes age I am an AMA {that is to say Advanced Mature Age, I’m old}  At least by the worlds medical standards, I should not yet be fitted for a cane but should not be still growing babies.  I should be saving for retirement, not shopping for strollers.  The list of “could happen” was a mile long, scary, and tragic.

Because of the scary news I have not looked at baby things, I have not shopped or sewn or even made plans.  I have been afraid to.  Afraid that there might be one of the many scary things wrong with this baby or me that the doctor gave in his scary speech.  Oh I know and remind myself and have friends remind me {I am so thankful for their reminders} that GOD planned this out at the beginning of time.  They remind me that God’s “got this too”  they pray for me and remind me of scriptures that tell me that this is not a surprise to GOD that He loves me more than anything and that every thing He does is to bring about His glory.  These friends have been great for me, prayer warriors and making me laugh at the same time.  But I still did not want to begin making plans only to live with the loss of a dream or the loss of a child.  I’ve been kind of holding my breath.

My doctor has taken every precaution with this pregnancy and the risks involved.  He moved my mammogram up, {remember my spots?  Those two tiny, too small to biopsy spots on my left breast, those wait and see spots?}  The hormones of pregnancy can make those spots grow big and fast.  Well I went into the mammogram thinking IF there was anything wrong then I would go for a total removal, the amazing thing is the spots were gone.  G~O~N~E GONE GONE GONE!  They were reabsorbed into my body.  I will go back again in 6 months for another check but things looked good.  With that bit of good news I spoke to my neurologist about the tumor on my brain.  You remember the blog entry?  I called them to find out how to go about that 2nd MRI.  They said “congratulations!”  His nurse also said that because the tumor had been diminishing so nicely that he was not concerned with doing another MRI but would like to see me after I have the baby.  I let my OB know and had to talk again to my Neurologist before my OB let me off the hook and did not make me go get one anyway.  Next he was concerned with my eyes, apparently having such high blood pressure can affect vision.  I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist for an eye exam.  His response “you have freakishly good vision”  I told him it was because I used to read in the dark.  He did not find me as funny as I found myself.  My sister told me I should have said “It is because I sit too close to the TV”  He was not a guy who liked to laugh.  The comment would have been wasted on him.

The only thing left to make my doctor happy was to go to a high risk doctor.  His office called the office of the high risk doctor.  {follow that?}  Then the high risk office called me to set up an appointment.  I had no idea where they were, or who they were.  I promise that phone call was like taking a message from my son.  Only this was that person’s JOB.  I had to ask for the doctor’s name, and spelling, she spelled his first name {It was Joseph… } It went like this  “can you spell that for me?”  “Spell what?”  “Please spell the doctor’s name for me”  “J~O~S~E~P~H”  “Umm I meant the last name” “Oh alright *sigh*”  Yea that was not the start I was hopeful for, and from that point it was down hill, until we were actually back in the ultra sound room, and doctors office.  I had to ask her for the address and the location of the appointment.  She had to look up the address then gave it to me.  Thankfully I asked because I had no idea where I was going.

That appointment was yesterday.  I dropped the 4 kids {C was at the Senior Retreat} at school, took little A to Grandma’s house.  I had plenty of time so I stopped at Starbucks, realized I left my gift card at home, and since I am too cheap to pay for my drinks if I don’t have a gift card I won’t get one.  Drove back to school to get Keith.  We left an hour and half BEFORE my appointment.  That was accidentally a great move on our part.  Google Map said it would take 46 minutes.  We were driving along, I was reading him funny things from Facebook when we came upon a flashing road sign, an accident with back up 2 miles long.  Trusty Map in hand, we took the exit.  After a long way around the accident that was still holding traffic.  We still had more than 45 minutes until my first appointment.  REROUTING was happening again as we missed our exit.  We finally arrived at our location.  Oh I should mention we drove through the city and over a bridge to get there too.  We took the middle of 3 parking garages, and we chose the correct building out of 5 only because we spent some time the night before looking up information on this doctor not because of the help of the phone girl.

This is where it gets a little strange.  At the front desk we tell the girl who we are and who we are seeing today.  She said she has never heard of that doctor and starts flipping through a notebook, “was he an intern?” {nope been practicing fetal maternal high risk medicine for 40 years}  Then she could not find me, she could not find the doctor or patient.  She was calling all the other buildings no one had me.  Finally, Keith points to a sign and she sends us to the fourth floor to “see if they know where you should go”  Yikes.  We zip up the elevator and arrive before appointment time.  We check in fill out paper work, answer insurance questions, and wait.  And wait, and wait and wait.  Almost an hour later, I cannot “wait” anymore so I ask if I can use the restroom before my appointment, and “oh by the way, any idea when I will get to go back to see the doctor?”  The 4th floor desk girl tells me she is waiting on authorization from my insurance.  I tell her that my doctor in my town made the appointment for me.  I explain that my doctor is spanish so there are 2 different first names he goes by.  I have to explain that Peter and Pedro are actually the same man.  Not two different men with similar names practicing at the same office.   It is approved instantly.  We are sent to another waiting area to wait some more.  About 5 minutes into the 2nd waiting room a nurse comes out, tells us we were late for our appointment, the doctor had another appointment and had to leave but “we can go ahead and do your ultra sound then go get lunch and come back to see the doctor”  I text a friend and start to cry.  I am so anxious about this appointment, I don’t know what to expect I don’t know what is going to happen to my baby or to me, and now I get to wait for over an hour more.  As long as I kept reminding myself that GOD has this all planned out I was relaxed, but I would forget and get nervous.  She talked some sense into me and Keith told me that missing a full day of work is not the end of the world.  I text all my family saying we are still waiting and will let them know what is going on when we know.

The ultra sound took a full hour.  They were very through.  Because I had refused all genetic testing they were going to check the baby for “genetic malformations” by ultra sound.  She checked thickness of the neck, the heart with close-ups on all 4 chambers of the heart, the head size and growth.  That is where she and the doctor determined that this baby is a little small but developmentally right on track.  The only other “marker” that she forgot to check was the baby’s nose.  We asked her to keep the gender a secret so she did.  I was irritated with the term “genetic malformation”  knowing full well that GOD knit this baby together in my womb, this baby is fearfully and wonderfully made.  This baby is made in GOD’s image and made for a purpose.  This baby regardless of what they say would not be “genetically malformed”  This baby would be perfect in God’s plan.

Back to the waiting room with 20 minutes wait time until the doctor appointment we opted to skip lunch and just wait.  When I checked in again the check in lady was confused that I would have a 3rd appointment, she had checked me in for my first two.  I told her “apparently we were late so we had to wait.”  She looked confused and checked us in, then checked the records, we had checked in on time, the back staff had made a mistake some where.  Which made me feel better knowing that we were on time, it would not fix anything but it made me feel better.  Thankfully God kept my mouth shut, there were no ugly words, no unkind things came out of my mouth at the staff who could do nothing about the mistake, I was thankful that I did not say anything I would regret, I was thankful.

After less than 20 minutes we were called back to see the doctor.  He rushed back from his meeting to see me.  Actually running up 4 flights of stairs and panting when he welcomed us into his office.  He was great, a little funny, kind and patient with my questions.  He easily explained all my risks and his opinion and research on those risks.  He went over the baby’s pictures and again we told him we did not know the gender so he honored our desire to be surprised {now I kind of wish I had asked, but I have the next ultra sound in 2 weeks to change my mind}  He said the baby looks great, a little small but right on track.  The “markers” indicated the baby appeared to be fine with out genetic malformations, there was one more thing to check if we wanted.  He knows that termination was not an option so taking more pictures would not make a difference in our love and now relaxed joy in this baby.  As far as he can tell the baby looks healthy and fine.

He was hopeful about my blood pressure, and says not to worry, Yes, I am At Risk because of my age and my blood pressure but not such high risk that he needs to see me again in the near future.  He said that things can change and change fast but as of right now he sees no need for me to drive all the way out to see him.  I still have some regular pregnancy tests to take which could change me from At Risk back to High Risk.  He would like me to get a blood pressure cuff to take my BP at home on a regular basis, and he wants me to follow through with the normal testing.  And he sees the probability of a “normal” delivery as of right now we do not need to plan a c~section.  Which sounds wonderful to me.

I was so relieved to learn the baby is growing, moving and beautiful.  The baby is strong and active and developing as a baby should.  My blood pressure is a concern not a worry, and my age, well there is nothing I can do about that except continue to lie about it telling people I really am 36 years old.

Because of this relief, we went to Chick Fil A to celebrate {or actually because by the time I finally got home there was no time to put the chicken and bbq sauce in the crock pot for pulled chicken for dinner}  I also took some time with my sister last night to look through all the baby stuff at the store.  There are some cool and weird things for babies, be looking for a post on that.  Things have changed a lot since my first pregnancy, things have changed since my last pregnancy too.

So there you have it, a LONG story about a Sweet Potato and how beautiful the baby is.  Oh and more good news, my blood pressure was only slightly elevated in all the chaos of “missed” appointments and long wait times.  I did not offend anyone or hurt feelings of the people who were not doing their job right.  I was able to hold my tongue, with God’s help. I told my face book friends, I would appreciate your prayers while we go meet with a high risk doctor. I don’t know what exactly to pray for, but I do want to shine Christ while were there, I want them to see the Peace that only God can give. and right then I was not feeling very peaceful.  I NEED my blood pressure to stay down.  And I am sure because of their prayers I kept my tongue to the people who did made mistakes, and had no idea what was happening.  I hope they felt I was different.

So there you have it a very long update on my fears and excitement.
God is good all the time.
All the time God is good.

Go hug your kids, life is changing so fast and tell someone today that you love them.
jen

First Week Of School Recap

I asked the kids during the weekend what they felt was the best and worst things about the new school year, here are their responses.   I was not actually surprised by their responses, but I thought I would ask anyway.  No complaints about the lunches, except the day that I gave C a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Oh and I only gave him one sandwich 2 different times, the boy has had 2 sandwiches almost every single day of his life, seriously starting in kindergarten.  Silly me to forget.  And of course the first day when I did not screw on the lid to O’s sweet tea and she drenched her locker and a few other things in sweet tea.  No worries about the super expensive text books, they were not yet in her locker.

The 2nd grader said she loves reading!  We have a pretty difficult reading program that takes up a lot of time each day/week but we are thrilled with the results and the things they are learning and the literature they are exposed to!  She loves it and we love having good readers in our house.

She also said the least favorite thing is PE {Physical Education or gym, what ever you want to call it}  We have PE every day at our school, along with recess, plenty of physical activity, the teachers are thrilled with all the moving the kids get to do.  Anyway, last week Thursday she came home and burst into tears.  I asked her “what is wrong?”  her reply “Coach said I can’t wear any of my cute shoes to school anymore, we have to wear tennis shoes”  Then she started to cry, angry, hot and tired tears.  Poor girl, she already does not like PE, {she loves recess} but to have it every day and then to wear tennis shoes, the world might just come to an end.  Or at least her world… I finally got her to calm down and explained that all her “cute” shoes were actually called “playground” shoes so they were fine for wearing to PE.  Once she was reassured that she could wear her shoes just not her sandals she was much happier.  She did get 2 pair of super cute tennis shoes from her Beda, when they went back to school shopping she did not mind wearing them the first few days, but then the thought of wearing them every single day was just too much.  She is after all the girl who hid one of her tennis shoes middle of last year so she did not have to wear them anymore…  She is a girly~girl!  Now that the shoe issue is sorted out she can carry on wearing her cute shoes and happily go to PE.  Today is Mile Monday, we’ll see how the day goes.

I asked the senior {wow weird to write that!} what his best and worst are,  Here is his reply.  Best is my new girlfriend, Worst is not sleeping in.  So then I asked his “for real” Best and Worst.  Best thing is his Greek teacher, who imparts Greek teaching and knowledge that applies not to just the class room but his walk in Christ and in his future success in the world.  Worst is this is possibly the last musical he will be in, at least the last musical he will be in at our school.

The 10th grader says Best~Year Book and the Worst~there is no nap time.  Mind you they only give naps through kindergarten. {I think she misses her little 3-year-old shadow every day although she is not admitting it.}

My 4th grader says Best~Math and Worst~spelling.  He loves math the challenge and the neat and tidy ness about math, there is a problem and if you follow a formula there will be a solution, there is no surprises.  This year he failed the first spelling pretest and decided that he does not like spelling anymore.  We are not a family of strong spellers…  Keith is a spell’er and does not understand how they can be such readers but not spellers.

The child in his last year of middle school says the best is RISE Institute {this is an advanced science class at high school level, that involves research, and science fair project, science experiments beyond the regular 8th grade Physical Science class that he is also taking.  {he may just not be my child}  He says his math teacher has more energy than a Tesla Coil she is in a tie for Best with the science class.  The worst thing is his best friend is not in any of his classes.  So he does not even have the same lunch period.  Makes for a long year, but he will find new friends to sit with during lunch.  {He did try out a table last week but the boys were just beginning to be girl crazy and he did not feel like spending the next year talking about the girls in his class.  Fine with me.}

994886_10202465596387447_1242492167_nLittle A says the best thing about the kids being back in school is they get pack~packs and lunch boxes and I get to do ballet and Chick Fil A at north play place.  Her worst thing might just be at 7:35 when O gets out of the van and leaves for the day.

What about you?  Do you remember your favorite things about school?
Go hug your kids, life is just rushing by so fast and they need reminders daily of your love.
jen

Product Review Because We Like Food

You know I cook from scratch almost all the time.  It is not faster but it is healthier and cheaper, and I like cheap and I really like healthy.  Last week while at our Publix grocery store {If you don’t have a Publix, then I am sorry.  They have the yummiest subs and when we go on vacation the first thing I buy when we get home is milk, but after milk I buy a Publix sub.  They are that good!  Even seagulls like them, remember how one snatched it right out of my hands this summer?}  Like I was saying last week I went to Publix with 3 out of 6, we had a great time, and we really stuck to budget and my mental meal list.  {Until we got to the frozen treat aisle, I could not help myself, and I have a yummy freezey treat to share with you next time.}  I knew that there would be a few nights in the near future where Keith and I both had to be at meetings for school, and there would be nights that I just did not feel like cooking so I was going for easy meals this time.  Fast, Healthy, Easy and Cheap.    That is a combination that is not always possible, but that was my desire.

In the frozen potato section I was going to grab a bag of Alexia Brand Sweet Potato Puffs, which only some of the family likes, others only like if I make a brown sugar glaze for them, which obviously cancels out the healthy part of that meal.  But this time I saw something new and took a risk, such a risk that I actually bought 2 bags.1233376_10202437481524593_229024929_nI fixed them on a night that I would be gone, Keith was home with the 3 littles while I dropped the 3 bigs off at youth group and ran a few errands alone!  I came home hopeful that there would be some left overs for me.  Nope not a single tot or “puff” they ate them all.  I asked the kids if they were good and they all said yes.  E actually said “those are the best I ever tasted.”  J who can still gag at the sight of foods said they were yummy and little A shouted to me Yes when I asked her if they were good.  1148996_10202437481884602_472040780_nThis is what I liked about them  No HFCS, No Soy and no weird things, or words I could not pronounce.  I do not know what corn flour is yet but at least those words are real words.    I also liked the fact that for a serving of 9 puffs the calories were only 150 not bad for a side dish and 9 puffs are a nice serving size.  We baked ours I am sure you could deep fry but that would add more oil and calories to your meal.

So for the ALEXIA brand Crispy Seasoned Potato Puffs with Roasted Garlic and Cracked Black Pepper we give a thumbs up!  Go ahead and give it try, let me know what you think!

I used to buy the Dannon Pure yogurt from Sam’s club, a few months ago Sam’s and Publix quit carrying it and I could not find a yogurt that I liked, a yogurt with words I could pronounce a yogurt with our HFCS.  So I quit having my smoothies, I quit making them because I was not able to find a yogurt that I liked or wanted to eat in my smoothie.  This July while I was at Publix I noticed a new brand of yogurt {I was still searching for the Dannon Pure} I picked up the container ready to be irritated at the new “healthy” not so healthy yogurt.  I was surprised by the list of ingredients.  On a chance I bought a few flavors to freeze and use in my smoothies that I was longing for.1173743_10202437482084607_579984659_nThis Liberte brand was a surprise.  It was so tasty and made up in the smoothie just right.  I was in my happy place again!  I have tried all the flavors except lemon.  And I only have not tried lemon because I am not sure I want a lemon flavored smoothie for breakfast.  The coconut yogurt has actual pieces of coconut, not hair as I feared was on my tongue {that would have been nasty.}  The price is right, and the ingredients are perfect.545882_10202437482524618_869087385_nCheck out all that good stuff, no hormones in the cows, or their milk, no artificial flavors, no HFCS, no added weird things, just good stuff.  So this yogurt gets a thumbs up from me.  I love it straight from the fridge or even more in my smoothie.  So if you get a chance give this yogurt a try.

What about you?  Tried anything new?  Was it a hit or a miss? Tell me what you think of these to foods if you give them a try!

Go hug your kids, life is racing past and they need a reminder of our love.
jen

Welcome to My Boring Life

Things have settled down to the boring routine of school.

Don’t get me wrong I love my boring life.

I love routine, I do wish that routine was later in the morning, why can’t school start at 9am?  I think I would like that!

As I was saying I love my boring life routine.

The biggest excitement for me right now is trying to list the boxes and boxes and boxes {I wish I was kidding but right now I have 9 boxes and still have so many containers to sort through} and boxes of outgrown clothing from the kids for the Just Between Friends Consignment sale.  If you have one in your area you really should check it out.  Last spring Ellen and I went to the consignment sale.  She snatched up a beautiful Moses basket with pink toile printed bumper, sheet and blanket for a great deal, I was able to get a few nice boutique things for a great price too!  Anyway as we were leaving we decided that it was just up my alley, I had done Ebay and loved it.  But honestly I just don’t have time for it right now.  I understand how Ebay works and this is similar.  You chose the things you want to sell, what ever name brand or style you have, you price it using their website so the price tag has a bar code on it, print the tags, pin the tags, then you hang it up and you drop it off.  Could not be easier.  The consignor makes 60/40 but if you work the event for at least 8 hours then you split with the JBS 70/30 and I checked Ellen O and I are all working for 4 hours to reach the 8 hour split and making it 12 hours so one of us can go in early and shop.  Ellen can also go in early for being an expecting first time mom and {remember the adoption, still praying and waiting for a birth mom to choose us!!!} and they have special hours for teachers.  The nice thing is during the special hours unless you are wearing your child, they are not invited.  nice huh?

Here is a little more from my boring life over the last month…IMG_1352We enjoyed one last Chick Fil A lunch before school started IMG_1146Loved the relaxing time of our vacation.  I LOVED the funny book from a friend!  I think I need to go back to the beach!IMG_1190The beach was so relaxing that C fell asleep, check out sleeping beauty.  Sadly when I woke him he dropped his sunglasses in the water and they were gone to us for good but I hear Nemo’s dad looks great in them.IMG_1018Shoe shopping…IMG_1290Do NOT take these 2 boys shopping with you for maternity clothes…  Trust me it is more work than help!IMG_1164Who needs a baby gate or play yard, just stick the child in a pile of floats.IMG_1228Little A is sure this looks just like Peter Pan {I don’t see it, do you?}DSCN0792After 500 jumps in the pool and being thrown dozens of times he still had energy.  It is almost as though the activity gives him more energy.DSCN0794She can now swim the width of the pool under water!  We are all excited!!IMG_1348This was our practice get up for school days.  She was not really happy or willing to talk to people.  But she was up.

So there you have it a bit of our boring in our life.  I am thankful for the calm before the storm.  I am thankful for the evenings with the family.  I am thankful for my boring life.

I know it will change soon, I have been filling our scholarship application stuff for C, little A goes back to ballet next week, E wants to take up tap, and I will begin working on the set for Peter Pan in a week.  {Right now they are in the design stage I told them I could work for the month of September that the dr cleared me to help out so they need to get it built fast}  The school year has started so things are picking up meetings and activities and games.

What about you?  Is it all calm and boring for you right now or is this your busy season?
Go hug your kids, life is just too short to not tell someone you love them.
jen

Fire Place Re~Do

When we moved into our house 11 years ago, we were thrilled with the space we had, we have since expanded and expanded and expanded again.  No longer expanding but now we are in the throes of remodeling the attic to a live able space again.  In the 1920’s the original owner rented out the attic there is still a door upstairs that leads to outside, the stairs up have long since fallen off, and Keith with help has been working fervently to get that room done for O.

One of the things that was a bonus about our original purchase was the fire-place.  It was not on my “must-have list.”  Close to school, a decent sized yard, close to school, 3 bedrooms, close to school and a good-sized living space were on the list.  A fenced in yard was also a bonus.  {We were able to meet our number one on the list we are 2 minutes from school, nice and close} but a fire-place was not on any list, it was just a nice surprise.

Like I was saying the fireplace that came with the house was a bonus.  When we looked at the house, they had the fireplace boarded up.  It was brick that had been painted white, I am NOT a fan of painted brick.  I love the reds/oranges/browns of natural brick.

After two years living in our house we added bookshelves on the sides of the fire-place.  I had a dream but it was taking a very long time to get it moving.  I still have not finished the bookshelves completely, I need to paint and nail into place the bottom trim piece on them.

This is what our fireplace/bookshelves looked like after 3 years.
????????{R with the zero the hero cape from school, each child was able to bring it home every 10th day of school}
We left it boarded up for 3 more years.  We just did not have time or money to find someone who could clean it, do the necessary repairs, and get it back to a safe working condition.

Our living room was the main living space in our house, the toys were out in the living room {and bedrooms.}  We put our Christmas tree up in the center window, we celebrated birthdays, and we had parties in our living room.  ????????{E’s 3rd birthday, she was such a baby still}
After we paid a chimney sweep {actually 2 of them} we had a working fire-place.  We loved it but I still hated the look of the painted white brick on the fire-place, and the filler pieces of wood were just as ugly-looking.  I watched a lot of HGTV and grew discontent in my house, after some soul-searching I realized that either I had to change my views of my house or I was going to be miserable for a very long time.  I quit watching HGTV.  I still hated my fire-place but now I was not watching people get their dream houses, while I was now living in a too small house with kids sharing a bed and the crib was occupied in my room by my 3 yr old.

Three years later I was confident enough in my lack of home remodel skills I decided to take the fire-place on as a Keith is Gone Project.  I posted a hint of project on face book and a dear friend from high school sent me a message, she was between taking classes for her Nursing Degree and would be down the next day to help me but I could not put anything on face book because she was not going to tell her family in town.  As long as the project did not involve paint she would come.  No painting at all.

I boldly walked into Lowe’s and went to the tile department.  I chose the little tiny tiles that are connected by a sheet of mesh.  I had my measurements and my idea.  Thankfully the guys at Lowe’s did not laugh in my face but instead helped me pick out the cement board I would need, they talked me through the steps and offered advice on supplies.  I opted to go with the cheaper tiles because basically I am cheap and honestly that was the ones I liked.  I did take the advice on the non staining grout, and I gladly bought the seal that they recommended I am lazy and I do not want to scrub sooty grout or have it go gray and yucky.

Bright and early {around 10am} my friend pulled into town.  She has a sweet husband who spoils her rotten, {of course she spoils him rotten too} her boys were a senior in high school and a freshman in college.  Her boys would be fine for a day or two with out her.

????????When she arrived I screwed in the long screws that Lowe’s guys told me to use.  I am sorry I cannot remember the name of the screws, maybe brick screws?  I used liquid nails on the back of the cement board then while she pushed the board in place I screwed in the brick? screws in as fast as possible.

Lovely isn’t it?  Honestly I felt the cement board actually looked better than the white brick and wooden strips on the side.

????????I have no pictures of the actual project because we just worked fast.  We soon developed a pattern I would slap on the grout she would rake it, I would push on the tile pieces she would adjust then I would hold it for a minute or two.  {The house is not THAT crooked, although it does slope, my photographer was only 7}  J would cut more tile and we would start the steps all over again.

????????Check out the cute helpers we had!
J actually woke up sick and true to nature I was irritated, having him home would only slow us up.  He was going to be in the way.  I could not have been more wrong.  While we were busy slapping grout and tile up J was cutting the mesh on the tile squares that were too long.  He would count how many tile rows each section needed, select the piece and trim off the excess.  He also refilled our drinks and ran for clean rags when we needed them.  All while taking care of little A and sick.  He was a great helper and I was thrilled with his work.

????????This is the finished BEFORE final grout.

Because I wanted to do this without professional help I would not let my father in law {who has laid more tile than he wants to think about…} help in any way.  I did not let him touch any of it, I did call him over after work to check out our work.  And to ask advice on the grout I wanted to be sure I made it the right consistency and put it on right.  I have no desire to fix my mistakes so I wanted to do it right the first time.  He came over and talked me through application.  I made him stand and watch as I added water and made him stand and watch while I began application.  He corrected my form and then left me on my own.  I had enough grout to re-do the grout on the tiles in front of the fire-place.  All bright and shiny, clean and cheerful.

I was so proud of our work.  I was so proud of the fact that it was something I could accomplish and I LOVED it.  I loved it so much more than the ugly white brick.

I was filled with nervous laughter on the ride home from the airport with Keith.  I had only done little home improvement things before this trip.  New paint, and easy things.  This was permanent.  The closer we were to home the more nervous I was.  He loved it.  Or at least he faked it enough.  He checked it out, he felt it, inspected it and said it looked great.  Whew! because if he hated it, that was going to be a lot of work for him to remove and fix.

????????I love my fire-place in all seasons.

????????And it is perfect for enjoying a lovely fire in the winter.

So 2 years later and I still LOVE my fireplace tile.  I love the colors, the shine, and the look.  It makes me happy, now we enjoy it every day because the front room is now our dining room.  As an additional bonus, the fire-place reminds me of a dear friend who drove a few hours just to give me a hand.  I really could not have done it with out her.

What about you?  Do you have something in your house that you just hate the looks of?  Why not take a walk through Lowe’s and see what you can do to change it?

I have no idea the cost involved, It was pre-blogging for me so I did not find it important to save receipts.  I can assure you it was not terribly expensive but it was more than I wanted to spend.

Go hug your kids, the need your love, school is starting and they are physically and emotionally exhausted be sure to give them some extra loving!
jen

Chore Charts

Chore charts are stupid.

Ok I should say Chore Charts are stupid at my house

Ok I should not use the word stupid, maybe unrealistic.  Yes unrealistic sounds much nicer.

Chore charts in my house are unrealistic.

I cannot make them work.

My kids cannot make them work.

If you and your family can make them work then I must say, I am jealous.  They look so nice hanging neatly on a wall in the kitchen, they sound so nice, they seem perfect.  In someone else’s house, with a different family.  They have some really great ideas on pinterest and they are so creative.

I have a few theories why they do not work in my house.

1 I refuse to pay my children money to do a task that is not worthy of being paid.  
{Doing homework, clearing the table, putting away dishes, wiping up your mess in the bathroom doing your own laundry, are not tasks that are worthy of financial reward.  I do not get paid to make dinner, I do not get paid to clean my house, and unless they have enough financially as adults they will not be able to afford a house keeper either.}

2 They obsess with checking the charts.
{Not just their own chart but everyone other persons chart too, they check it after a task and read all the tasks left, then they check and take inventory on the other lists.  After they take inventory they report back to me every. single. change.}

3 After the first few ANNOYING days they forget about their charts.
{I have to remind them to do their tasks.  Isn’t the whole point of the chart so things magically get done?}

4 Life gets in the way.
{ we have tried to rearrange schedules to fit chore charts, but with after school practices and homework.  It seems that life just gets in the way.}

5 I forget to check the charts.
{Which really should not matter since I don’t actually reward them for doing the jobs I have expected them to complete.}

Those are just 5 of the reasons I do not do chore charts in my house.

Instead we just tell them to complete a task and expect it to be done.

I was talking with the 3 bigs about a few things that I have let slip that I really need help getting done. I offered up the idea of doing a set tasks for a complete week or being asked to do a task at dinner time.  I asked them what they thought would be the easiest and least resistance for getting help.  Right now the biggest hassle is dinner, setting, clearing, sweeping, dishes, all those things that need to be done that I just cannot at this time do them all.  {honestly I don’t want to do it all and I could not do it all before if I really think about it.  Keith pitched in A LOT but now his work load has gotten a bit larger and he just cannot do what he did before.  Time for all those kids to start earning their keep.}

The census was each day for me to just pass out meal time jobs, that way if one child had a ton of homework they could do the fast clear the table, but if another child was relatively free they could do the task of washing and drying a load of dishes.  This option is actually easiest, we eat together as a family every night {except Wednesday} so handing out tasks as a group insures that everyone will be included.  Things like laundry and tidy up their rooms and clean the bathrooms are reminded when things get bad.

What about your house?  How does the chore chart measure up?  Do you pay $ for a job or a job well done?  What works for you?

Go hug your kids, life is just too short!
jen