January Snow… or not

So we live in the south, almost deep south, but not quite.  Sure we have had snow here in our area, but the last time was the late 70’s and the people who were here for it, still talk about it.  Frozen pipes, yup, we’ve had that, but actual snow… not since I’ve lived here for the last 35 years.  Carline drop off of 27degrees, sure every once in a blue moon, but only about 2x a calendar year.  When it is that crazy cold, I say we should have snow, because cold is cold is cold but snow…  sigh.  Most of my kids have never seen snow, and the time one of them saw snow he was  not yet 2 years old.  The oldest who has loved being in the big city, bright lights and all has had a few very snowy days, the college girl has had a few snowy adventures, going to open fields to ride sleds, and building snowmen on canceled class days.  The senior is looking at universities all to our north (but there is really not much to our south) he is sure to get snow and cold, at any of the places he chooses.

In order to celebrate January and snow, which I’ve established we don’t get…  I decorate for it.  Years and years ago I noticed how very sad my house looked after I took down the Christmas decorations.  I decided to leave up my snowmen, it grew after that.  Today I am going to share a few of my favorite Snow decorations with you.  My fire place, I love my fireplace, We have burned 1 fire so far this year.  It is lovely when we have one, and according to the weeks weather forecast we might get another chance to burn one this week.  (one day we will hang up the curtains over the book shelf but right now I love the light coming in)E made this super sweet snowman when she was in Kindergarten.To the right of the fireplace.  O and R searched for an app to store our books on, to make them easier to remember so I don’t buy duplicates like I did this year at Christmas.  At last count we have a grand total of 1698 books in our house.  (I have a few new ones to put on the app, pushing the total up when I get them all in)A close up of the shelf.  My sister gave me the birch bark vase last year, this month it is filled with sparkle sticks. To the left of the fire place.  I copied the sparkle houses from a picture I found online, I would link it up if I remembered where I found it.  I just know that she had no directions and they were in the middle of something, not the focus of the picture.The top of the cubbies found a little snowman fun this year.  I can’t decide if the gum ball jar of snowmen and bells is working or not?  
Look at all the cute glitterness!  Those are the little houses PS and I made the other day.

So there you have it
how was your January, did you make your own snow, or did you get real snow?
go hug your kids, they need your love


A Trip and A Project

Keith and O went on a mission trip to Haiti, they went with Mission of Hope and I will let O tell you about it some time soon, but for now I will share the tiny, but long project I worked on while they were gone.  I had great aspirations, I have/had a very old window frame and a plan in my mind, but when I went to grab the window, the thing had rotted apart.  I am very disappointed that I could not do my project and even more when I realize that in order to do it, I will either have to go purchase an old window or wait until Keith gets the old ones removed from the front of the house.  We had a 10 year plan to get the entire house re-sided, we are on year 5.  Two owners back, the person who bought the house, bought it to flip and he did the crappiest work ever.  (whoops J just started following…) He did the bare minimum on the house before he resold it.  I know how much he paid and how much he profited, and those shows on HGTV have nothing on the profit he made from our house.  We bought it from the people who bought it from him.  (follow that?) Anyway, he slapped vinyl over the wooden slats.  And by slapped, I mean he did not add insulation or anything, just pulled off slats in spots and slapped up siding.  You can imagine the affect that has on hour heat or cooling bill.  Five years ago when we added onto our house we had to go before the historic district board, they gave us 10 years to get the whole house to match with siding, we are on year 5 we have the west wall, and a north wall to complete.  Humming right along, in all Keith’s free time.   Since he has no free time for 2 or 3 or 4 more years.  That means I will not get my window for that project until then…  So I have moved on.

The travelers left on Saturday, we drove 3.5 hours away to an airport to save us $600 in flight fees, the way home was much longer…  Much longer. I was not actually looking to repeat the trip the earlier the following Saturday morning.  Our week was busy, C worked and we played, went swimming, and did laundry, I think I did laundry non stop, we also went to the library and had a lunch date with friends.  Suddenly the week was ending and I had no project,  I had the disaster break apart with rot window frame but could not do anything with it.  I was looking around the house and spotted the very long (7 foot) reclaimed board that Keith had clean and sanded smooth for me.  I would work with that board.

I made a giant ruler.  I know you have seen them all over the internet,  I did mine my way.  I needed it to be 7 feet tall, when you have 3 people are over 6 feet in your house you cannot make the 6 foot ruler, the people are beyond the ruler, and 2 of them are still growing taller.

11303482_10207781384558829_592035469_n-1How tall are you?

I did mine in about 30 minutes.  I am sure it was 30 because the man child just chose an episode of Friends from Netflix, I finished the ruler before the show ended.  I realize that if the wood was not prepped then it would take longer, mine had a lovely shaded stain on it, and was smooth and splinter free.  I love the color. 11263736_10207781385838861_347956311_nI used a ruler and pencil to mark 1 inch marks along the length of the new big ruler.11541195_10207781384878837_1482094146_nAll the way to the 7 foot mark.  I kept the inch markings an inch long, and gave the half foot and foot a longer mark.  I seriously thought about marking the quarter foot markings bigger but changed my mind.  If I do decide it needs it I can go back and fix it easily enough.11124261_10207781385718858_28857105_nI bought a pack of alphabet and number templates at Hob’Lob and 2 paint pens, both thick and thin.11418320_10207781385238846_132357075_nI have no reason why I worked my way backwards but I did.  I guess that is how my mind thinks?11637938_10207781384758834_300655663_n-1For now the large ruler is standing against some of the book shelves.  I like it there.  The kids have all taken turns measuring themselves.  This week I will transfer their heights from the kitchen wall (a termite damaged spot) to the new ruler, then when the wall piece comes out or falls apart I won’t be sad about losing the measurements.

What about you, have you done any simple or difficult projects lately?

Go hug your kids, breath in their summer smell, the smell of dirt, sweat, sunshine, and fresh air.

Happy New Year, Lets Make a Resolution

Happy New Year!

I’ll let that sink in, 2015 the older I get, the faster time moves.  Okay I know that technically it moves at the same rate of speed, maybe I should say the older I get the more aware of how fast time actually moves.  I remember when the year changed from 1979 to 1980 I won’t tell you how old I was, just that I remember talking in class with our teacher and classmates about how we would have to remember it was not 79 anymore but 8o.  It is the weird little things that I remember.

Lets talk Resolutions.  Do you make unrealistic resolutions or even realistic ones?  Do you make the poplar time management, weight loss, resolutions or do you set even better bigger goals.  A few years ago I decided to take a picture a day.  For the most part it was an easy, there were a few months in there where I struggled to get pictures every day.  By in large I loved it, I was looking for things to take pictures of, my kids were the subject most days, it reminded me to appreciate the simple things, the daily ness of our life.  That is my goal this year, to get at least 1 picture a day.  In today’s technology it should be easy, we all have cell phones, most of them have a good camera, most electronic devices also have a camera on them, some people are ‘old school’ and actually own a camera.  I float between my phone and my camera, which will make it easy to get at least one picture a day.

For Christmas Keith spent time and money fixing my computer, recovering the pictures on my computer hard drive, they are for the most part rescued.  A few pictures did not come through clear but the majority have survived!  I cried when I opened it and saw the work and recovery.  He also bought me an external hard drive.  He did the computer recovery at school in his conference room.  One day someone came into the room took one look at my old computer and asked if it really worked.  DSCN1773The missing enter key.DSCN1772 The frame-work around the glass screen had broken loose and was taped with electrical tape to keep it framed in.DSCN1771 A better look at the plastic frame around the screen.DSCN1770One more look.

DSCN1769It was a HOT mess, by HOT mess the computer would get so hot I was honestly afraid it would burn my lap, canceling out the benefit of a LAPtop…  He rescued the pictures off the old computer, transferred them to my new (not so new apple computer) and combed files and files for pictures from the lost brain of the apple computer.  He also installed another brain into my apple computer.  I am happy to have it back and working.  While he was kind to share his laptop I felt guilty using it when he was around.  So goal number 2 is to back up my computer monthly.

There you have it 2 goals for the year 2015.
1 A picture a day
2 A monthly back up on my computer files

What about you?  Do you have goals for the following year?  I hear that part of the solution is to have a plan, what is your plan to accomplish the goals you have set?  My plan for a picture a day is an easy no need for a plan of attack, the back up I have written on my calendar with an alert so that will help me remember.

Go hug your kids and share some love this next year


New Paint

We have been busy here in the land of overholt8.  We finally, sort-of, sold C’s bed last week.  The boys are finally not sharing a room, they are thrilled, not that there is anything wrong with sharing, but we have an empty room so we are spreading out.  After we started boxing up the things C left behind I took the boys shopping for new room paint.  It took another week before we could start with J’s room.  We are doing his first because he is getting C’s room, it was empty first.  C had the smaller room, which is why he was alone, we let R choose and J got the smaller room.  Now that the boys will be in separate places I am interested in seeing who made their room such a disaster.IMG_0471R was more than happy to help paint, knowing that the sooner the room was ready the sooner he could have his own space.IMG_0470I just love the dark gray color.IMG_0472 Nice and fresh coat of paint, new high gloss white on all the trim.  I love the contrast and I love high gloss white!IMG_0474J has 4 windows in his room, 1 faces south the rest face west, his room is nice and bright most of the day, so gray was not going to be a problem color.
{See that brown thing on the window sill?  It is termite fras and the termite guy was just here last month.}IMG_0473Like I said the room is small.  It is the smallest room in the house, but perfect for 1 person.  (actually years ago we tore apart our bedroom and moved into this room during the 6 month fixing process, we had a queen bed and 3 people sleeping in here, it was not huge but there was space for 2 dressers, a bed, a mom and a dad and a very fussy little boy.  I guess you could say J is returning to the bedroom he had when he was a baby.)IMG_0478Right now we only have his furniture in the room, but we are free on Friday night so we will move everything else over so we can start in on R’s room.  I’ll post pictures of the finished project when we are done.  R is patiently waiting for his new look in his room.  He “sold” us 2 of his bookshelves for J’s room so he can get 2 bigger bookshelves since the 3 short ones he had did not hold all his books.IMG_0467While cleaning out C’s things we found a missing sock, I will be sending it up in this week’s care package.

Set work for Alice is humming along nicely I’ll post pictures when we finish that too.  We should be completely done with all our things by Oct 3, which is dress rehearsal day.  We have a schedule and seem to do a pretty good job sticking to it.  And I have had quite a group of helpers.  Willing parents who come for hours at a time and work hard.  I was talking to one of them yesterday, her child is not even in the play, but she has given up 3 full days so far, and told me it is addicting to work on the set, I agreed with her.  The director asked if I would be willing to do it again next year.  I told her I would have to see how the next year shapes up.  But If I could start working in the summer instead of a month before the musical it would be easier.  As a bonus I could harness the help of students who have nothing to do all summer.10706465_10205494598670611_1526445077_nMy adorable set painting helper.  If you will notice she has no paint on her clothes, we keep our painting clothes on stage and just change to paint then put on our clean clothes again to go home, saves ruining clothes and we always know where our painting clothes are.

10707894_10205494598590609_1856632261_nThis sweet thing gets stuck standing all the time.  No matter how many times I help her sit down she gets back up again.  She was doing this before she could sit, and still gets stuck.  Yes she is almost asleep, she was tired and stuck.

10647771_10205341668087442_1569950720_nHere is something to make you laugh or not, it made me laugh at the large family.  No it is not my van although we do drive the same kind, we large families stick together in our lack of vehicle choice.  For the record dad is not crossed out, he is colored in, it is a bi-racial family.

I’ll get you all filled in on our boring but busy life in a few more weeks when we are finished working on the set.

What about you did you change things around at home recently?  Did you paint a room?  I ran into a friend while shopping for paint and things for Alice, and he asked if Keith was out-of-town…  Ha-Ha  he knows me too well, a cart full in the home improvement store, no Keith, must mean I’m working on a project!  {I do have one in the works and he will be gone in October…}

Go hug your kids, and tell someone you love them, life is just too short to wait!

The Attic Fit For A Princess Part 3

I promise this is the last outside of the house post on O’s room.  Looking back on the pictures I realized I made a mistake on the part 2 post, I also realize it took a lot longer to get it all done than I remember.  By the time we finished the outside temperatures were upwards of 100 degrees.  I do not know how outside laborers and construction workers do it down here.

When we got home from ballet I called our good friend MC who came over and helped fix the holes in the wall and close in the bathroom area.DSCN3597They had evening plans but he came for a few hours which was so helpful!DSCN3598They had to add more studs to the bathroom wall as support since termites ate away at the original wall studs.DSCN3600They added insulation, plywood house wrap and then the windows.  O actually held the window in place while Keith secured it from inside.DSCN3605Holding a window in place over your head for about 15 minutes is really painful, the window was heavy but in place so she just had to keep her arms up and pressing the window until Keith could secure it from outside.DSCN3607Ahhhh almost done.DSCN3610For my northern friends this is what termites look like.  Not a clear picture, they kind of look like ants without being segmented  and the fras {poop} looks like poppy seeds.  This by the way is the new window, the termites did not waste any time getting settled in the new windows.  {They are metal so the termites soon died}

The next weekend Keith and help got started on the rest of the siding.DSCN3635I did not get pictures of the damage on the rest of the wall, I had to be some place.  When I came home Keith and his dad were able to get the vinyl siding down, the window out, the insulation in, and the plywood up.  We also put up a tent for shade had a very large ice bucket with drinks and an outdoor fan.  DSCN3640Old window is out and everything is set for the house wrap and new window and siding.  DSCN3641It was so hot, and so much work.DSCN3644C was roped into helping this weekend.  The weekend before he was taking his ACT test and missed all the action.DSCN3648After the wrap was on the lower part they tore off siding all the way up.  Do you see how the wall studs are just open?  Yeah at that part of the house there was a lot more damage than we expected.DSCN3655More house wrap and more child labor.DSCN3657Our work spilled over onto Sunday, after church, our neighbors J and M came to help Keith for a little while.  All the insulation, and siding and house wrap were completed that Sunday.DSCN3658M was waiting for instruction on the cut size that was needed.DSCN3662Starting the siding.  Keith had his fair share of frustrations with this task.  We tried 2 different nail guns, but both of the quit working, no matter what Keith tried they would not work properly.  Our neighbor even tried to fix them, but they were just not working for the job.DSCN3669J and R would get the new hardy board siding in place for Keith to attach.DSCN3671Do you see how Keith is attaching each board?  Yes, the man nailed each and every board into place.  I begged him to rent a nail gun, or go buy a new one but he insisted on doing each and every board by hand.DSCN3688Keith’s grandpa stopped by after work to help for a while, they were creative putting the house wrap in place.DSCN3695Wrapping the top of the house.  Keith’s grandpa was a much better ladder holder than R was.DSCN3728One FINAL weekend to finish putting siding up.  When Keith went to buy more siding, they were out of the original color we had, not a problem, we are planning on painting this next spring.  After we finish the rest of the house.DSCN3732We tried a nail gun again for a while, the guys had a routine down, with measure, measure, cut, pass siding up the ladder, pass up the nail gun, and then take the nail gun back down.  When someone gets a routine it is better to stay out-of-the-way with your mouth shut than offer advice.  The nail gun suit working soon after getting the routine going.DSCN3735The final piece of wood, cut and hung.

The outside took a few weekends of non stop work.  It was exhausting for all those involved.  My boys, R and C, are not outside workers, they are not physical laborers, some people love hard work and sweat to show a job completed, not so for my boys.  Good thing they both have a career plan that involves being inside.  O and J are great workers but are small so they can’t do everything they want to do to help.  I was busy supplying cold drinks, popsicles and keeping the little girls out of the way.

The siding was completed just in time for our busy summer,  we left for NC the week the siding was completed, then Keith went to DC and Europe after that, we followed up with a beach trip then the start of school.  I am so thankful for a husband who can do this type of work, thankful for a FIL who can do this work and is willing to help out, thankful for friends, neighbors, and children, who were willing to come over and help out for a few hours.

We had a big scare with Keith’s dad.  We think he had heat stroke one day.  It was hot, and he just did too much, we ended up calling an ambulance to come check him out.  He refused treatment so Keith took him home.  It was very scary and we are thankful that things turned out for the good.  But heat is something we forget that we are not better than, so here is my advice for you or anyone working outside, full sun, 100 degrees no breeze.  Drink plenty of fluid!  More than you think you need, take breaks in the shade to cool off, use water to cool off, and stop working if you start to feel weird.

Would you believe I do not have a picture of the completed work?  I will look and post that on the next attic post.  I know you are excited to see the rest! Ha

Go hug your kids, they need your love

The Attic Fit For A Princess Part 2

Many of you know or knew at one time that we had planned on fixing FIXING the attic up for a bedroom for O.  We had the contractor put the wall studs for the addition to line up with the existing attic for easy access.  The roof line was over top of the old roof line connecting to the high roof line of the main house.  Four years ago we were relaxed with our time line, this past spring we now had a looming deadline.  Would Keith, his dad, O and a few friends be able to get it done before the new baby came in January?  There was a lot of work and honestly some days were very daunting.  The mess was not even fit for Cinderella for the longest time.  But we knew the hard work would pay off in the end.  Or at least we hoped it would.
These pictures are all from 3 different weekends.  There was so much to be done, we really sacrificed a lot of family time to do this quickly.  And with all home construction there is a “hurry up and wait” with all the things we did.  {I say “We” like I did anything but supply Gatorade and water.}

One of the first things that needed to be done was repair the hole that Keith made when he fell through the ceiling, as the work began upstairs the entire nasty popcorn square tiles, and the sub ceiling {attic sub floor} began to cave in.  Bowing an an unhealthy level.  We stayed out of the hallway as much as possible.  No one wanted popcorn tiles falling on their heads.DSCN2527We replaced it with thin plywood that looks like bead board.  In the boy’s room there is actual bead board ceiling {on half the ceiling} years past we added bead board plywood to C’s room, and if you will remember we added the same thing to C’s bathroom the year before.  So adding the bead board was going to help the hallway look better and match the boy’s rooms.   We still have half of the boy’s room to change over but that is not high on our list of home renovation tasks.  {Keith wants a garage next}DSCN2524The ceiling looks so much better now.  It still needs a coat of high gloss white paint and trim but until the baby comes I am banned from climbing ladders…  I plan on getting this done during spring break.

This is the break through between the girls upstairs room and the old attic.  Notice how they are actually standing on the roof of the house.  Pretty cool.  But oh so messy as they pulled shingles and rotted wood out to secure the new hallway.

IMG_0452Once the attic subfloor was secure Keith and his Dad went back to work adding floor joists and taking out damaged wood.IMG_0454I am not even sure what the hole is over in this picture.  I think it is the roof of the laundry room.IMG_0458Of course there was more electrical work to do up there.  See the big air conditioning duct work?  Every time they wanted to go through they had to climb over and under the ducts to get to the attic room that would be O’s room.

Now this is all taking place in late April which means we have temperatures reaching of 90 degrees.  The attic is not obviously air conditioned it is hotter than blazes up there.  Water and Gatorade and popsicles were required to cope in the heat.

The following weekend Keith decided to quick pull out the old windows that were not double glass, and rattled and leaked when we had big rains, and put in new windows.  Remember nothing is as easy as it seems in our house.  They were only able to get the top window in.  DSCN3353Removal was easy.DSCN3354Hello I see you.DSCN3355Rebuilding the crooked window framing so the new window would fit and stay in place with out leaking during rains.DSCN3356Getting the window up the ladder and it place was a little tricky.  I choose NOT to take any pictures of that.DSCN3357Window is set in place, not to firmly attach it.  I don’t want any children falling out of the window.  Our neighbors came over and helped Keith, his dad was not able to stay longer than an hour that day.DSCN3359R acted as the ladder holder.  It was hot, he was not that into it and there might have been some yelling as the ladder wobbled a bit.

The following weekend was little A’s ballet recital.  Keith wanted to get started on the rest of the windows.  We were in a hurry knowing that it was only going to get hotter as time went on and no one wanted to be out in the heat if not necessary.DSCN3514Pulling off the vinyl siding was such a disappointment.  If you look closely you can see that there was some wood siding but it was ruined, splintered and damaged the previous owner {2 owners back} just covered the entire house in vinyl siding and called it good.  Now we are getting the full grasp of how not good it was.  We are also understanding why the house is drafty and does not keep the air-conditioning or heat inside.  Most of the walls were nothing but vinyl siding and lattice wood then drywall, there was not a single bit of insulation in any of the outside walls.DSCN3518Taking out the windows was the easy part.  Adding insulation and putting up plywood took a little longer.DSCN3520Cleaning up the mess to make it easier to fix up.DSCN3522Most of the wood looked like this.  Termites love our house, for my northern friends, count your self lucky termites have made a mess of our house and many older houses.  This was a 2×2.  We did not break it they ate it all away.  This is what was left of it.DSCN3523Trying to make a new game plan.DSCN3524Trying to decide if her new room was worth all the work.DSCN3525It was slow going, there was more damage than they expected.DSCN3529Keith and O were covered in termite fras {that is termite poop for my northern friends}  It looked like they were in a poppy seed fight.  Because they were hot and sweaty it stuck to their skin.  It was as disgusting as you are imagining.DSCN3592We left O and Keith home to go to little A’s ballet recital.  They were able to put in the window so our house was at least closed in, shower and get to ballet just as they were calling the children to the stage.DSCN3547Little A’s fan club.DSCN3591I need to brag on Keith, you saw in the above picture how he left the house.  He never made a complaint while we were at the recital or taking pictures after.  He did not complain about being dehydrated, or that time was running out, or that the house needed to be finished.  He sat in the shade and smiled as little A danced around, he sat and waited as we took pictures and laughed and talked.  He had miles to go before bed but he was able to put that to the side and enjoy family time.DSCN3588Our beautiful ballerina.  {she was a butterfly this year}DSCN3593We came home to this.  Which had to be done before dark.  We did not wanting any animals coming to nest or stay in the empty walls.

It was a long hot weekend.  Keith with the help of O and the boys, managed to get the bathroom window in and more insulation in the walls.  They were able to put up plywood and the house wrap.  It was a lot of work, hot and exhausting.  But we could feel the difference in temperature in the rooms.

Stay tuned as I update more about the attic room fit for our princess.  This outside of the house was not obviously for O’s room, but a result of her room.

What about you, deal with termite damage, those wood eating blind bugs?  Or have you taken on a huge home remodel task that was like pandora’s box everything you started was bigger and much worse than you had hoped?

Go hug your kids December is here!!!

The Attic Fit For A Princess

Many of you know, or knew at one time that O was going to move into the attic.  To say the attic was in rough shape, was an understatement the attic at one time {back in 1920’s} was rented out with walls, and insulation, an outside entrance, two workable windows, and livable, actually it was rented out for years.  Long before we bought the house there was still an outside entrance to the attic, the steps rotted off before we bought the house.  The flooring had been ripped up the space was not useable, even for storage.

We began the remodel shortly after the January birthdays, in the free weekend time, between ball games, music concerts, science fairs, and family time.  Keith and his dad worked after school or weekends.  Some days both worked some days only one of them could work.  It was hot and dirty.  And I am sure more work than they thought it would actually be, once they opened that can of worms.

As time went along we realized the urgency of getting the room done, we were now on a time constraint to get A out of the crib in our room, and O out of the bed in her room, in order for A to move up O had to move over and it had to be done by January or sooner.
DSCN2413Climbing through the pull down stairs was the only way in.

When we added the back addition to the house four years ago, our contractor lined the addition up so when we were ready to convert the attic to a room, we could easily go through the wall next to the girls room.  Here are the before pictures.  Before as in even before we knocked a hole in the girls wall.  Before we could do anything but repair and clean out, clean up and get ready.DSCN2193You will remember the call out the window from O, when the guys were throwing debris out the window.  The “mom, dad just fell through the ceiling” that call.  I don’t know about you but I instantly had images of Clark Griswald in National Christmas Vacation, when he gets stuck in the attic and watches home movies.  See O’s head peeking through, Keith was a spoil sport and did not want to reenact it for a picture.
DSCN2198See his amused face when I asked him to please reenact the fall for the blog? DSCN2195He patched the hole with plywood, I was afraid that a rodent or bug would fall out on me every time I went into the boys hallway.DSCN2208Looking north {at this point they layered plywood on the floor beams so they could actually walk up there.}  Nice plumbing pipe in my face, the air conditioner is blocking the door that the renters would use to get up to the attic.DSCN2209The west wallDSCN2210The south end of the west wallDSCN2216Looking south, see the plumbing pipe?  That is where I was standing at the beginning.DSCN2213Looking down next to the plumbing pipe.  We found trash but no hidden treasures.DSCN2211More holes that had to be repaired, this is over C’s bathroom.DSCN2220Oh the wiring.  Seriously it was a good thing we did the attic remodel and we are amazed that God has protected us from the wiring mess up there.  Obviously there was no building inspectors when they added the electricity to the house.  Live stripped wires, old metal wires that were burnt, and wires that were not fully connected.  I am thankful that my FIL knows how to rewire a house, that he has the tools to accomplish such a big job, safely. The 2 of them spent weeks fixing the wiring,  I wish I was kidding on the amount of time, but it was weeks of fixing and making safe.DSCN2219See how few wires are in the same area?  See how safe the wires look now?  I am so thankful that Keith and my FIL are able and willing to make us safe.

Ok for fear of overloading you on the room remodel I’ll post more pictures in another blog.  This set of pictures started in late January, and went through March.  {Okay the wiring took us through March}

At the beginning of the attic remodel the room was not even fit for cinderella but O has the ability to look past the mess and distraction with vision.  Thankfully she is not easily discouraged.  From beginning to moving in this week it was 10 months.  And sleeping in her own room is now a reality.

Thankful updates!

Nov 19
I know this sounds silly but I am SO thankful for online shopping.  Keith and I spent almost 2 hours trying to find birthday presents for little A.  We came home with 2 things.  Do you want to know the biggest problems?  We don’t watch tv with commercials, they don’t know what is out there to know what they should want.  The other problem I buy toys based on quality, and imagination, toys that stand the test of time, there were a lot of toys out there, just none that would interest her.  Oh BTW, you walmart lovers…  I was trying to get some Doc McStuffins plastic toys for her cake… and at Walmart the EXACT same toy was $2 MORE. yes $2 more expensive than at Target…

Nov 21DSCN1026
I am thankful for A, surprise #3.  She is strong, funny, busy, loves life.  She is a great snuggle, has a vivid imagination, worships O,{crying when she has plans that don’t include her} She is smart, I N D E P E N D E N T and brave. She loves life.  I am thankful for the fussy baby who was born with out hip sockets, thankful for the running, jumping and normal walking that the doctors said might be a problem.  I am thankful she has grown into a spunky, sassy girl who loves ballet, her family, going to church to “see Jesus”, chick fil a, and playing with the big kids. I am thankful for A, who, by the way thinks she is WALKING to chick fil a for her birthday dinner, AllByHerself. she has a map after all…

Nov 22
Today is grandparents day at school, I am thankful for the Godly influence the grand parents have imprinted on my children, teaching them strength, dignity, true love, kindness, servants hearts, discipline, and knowledge.  I pray that the bits of wisdom them have pressed upon my children will one day be brought back to their memory and they will remember the teaching of their “fathers” I am thankful for grandparents.????????Keith’s parents with EDSCN1581My mom with the kids, last Christmas {lest you think I am that prepared for this year…}DSCN3093Keith’s Grandpa, {his dad’s father} and parents.  C rides to the early service every week with Papa, I am thankful that they have that time together each week.DSCN3057Keith’s Grandma (his mom’s mother) and Little A last March when we flew up to take care of Grandma.

What about you are you able to have a great relationship with the grandparents?  Make sure that during this month of thanksgiving that they know how thankful that you are for them.

Go hug your kids. the need your love.

Tadpoles and a Swimming Pool

Our pool pump broke weeks ago, seriously it broke while still in pool season.  {Of course if you are from the north, sorry about the snow, our 80’s is prime pool season for you.}  Keith looked at it and could not fix it, he took it off for me to take to the pool store, and due to poor planning it never made it to the pool store.  Since then our pool has been over taken by frogs, not just any frog but the invasive Porto Rican Tree Frog, they are loud and apparently fertile and very invasive.  We have heard the frogs for months, we knew that they were laying eggs on the surface of the pool, until the broken pump the chlorine and filter took care of that problem.  But without chlorine and the water running through the filter there was no way to control them.  Until yesterday.  A few weeks ago E’s class was studying the life cycle of frogs, she told her teacher our pool was filled with tadpoles {oh how I wish she was exaggerating}  and she could bring some in.  Her teacher was more than thrilled with the prospect of tadpoles.  O helped her catch them, they filled a milk jug with more than 200 of them, she counted.  {Again I wish I was kidding.}  I told the teacher that when they grew legs she was going to have to dispose of them and not release them at school.  At our school we have a “gator pond,” {A gator trapper had to come get the gator out last year.} a turtle pond, and some protected wet lands.  She could not release an invasive species on campus.  She laughed but promised not to.  All was well, until yesterday.  Ellen brought home the kids from school, within minutes of getting home, before they even ate their snacks, they told me “we HAVE to get rid of the tadpoles!”  What?  Apparently the ones we took into school have grown their back legs they were trying to get out of the container the teacher had them in.  Which meant that ours are about ready to climb out of the pool and invade something, the logical place would be our house, and shed, and the neighbor’s house.  So… I did what every reasonable person would do, declared the tadpoles to have lived a good life and offered to pay the kids to remove them.  Having seen the massive number of them swimming around a week ago, I offered a penny a tadpole.  R knew it was an easy buck, he took the pool net and set to work easily filling the bottom of a big trash can, I’d say there was about 6 inches worth of tadpole in the bottom of the heavy-duty big gray trash can.  We estimated that at the beginning of the sweeps he was pulling out one hundred each time.  {Again, I so wish I was kidding} He stopped his work to help the girls collect tadpoles, and visited with the curious neighbor kids.  We estimate, because neither of us were willing to actually count them that he collected over a thousand, honestly it was probably closer to 2,000.  We settled on a fee of $15.00 which I will pay him on Friday.  Not to be left out the girls will be getting $2, and $3 and O who had a ball game but heard the story when she got home has declared she collected about $5 worth those weeks ago.  Hey I’m not going to complain and I will gladly pay the kids the money so I don’t have to worry about the frogs getting in our house.  Of course that being said, If the kids played it right, there is someone who remains unnamed who is terrified of frogs.  I bet they could work it to get that person to come up with some money too.

We’ve added chlorine to the pool and hope that it will prevent more eggs from being laid.  What I really need to do is get the pump to the pool store and get it fixed, we just fear it is beyond repair at this point.  {It is probably gunk’ed up with frog parts}

What about you?  Ever been invaded by an insect or animal?

Go hug your kids, enjoy the calm before the holiday chaos, and share the love to someone who needs it.


A Weekend Update

I know you are all so anxious to find out how “THE VISIT” went.
I won’t keep you waiting.
Turns out he LOVED it.
This university is “THE ONE”
Kentucky is calling his name.
The boys came home full of smiles and stories to share.

It looks like I will be making 13 hour road trips to visit my kid.  I am not too sure how I feel about that.  Oh I am thrilled that he has direction, and a plan, and a hope for his future.  I really am thrilled.  I loved going away to college, I went 20 hours away and never looked back.  I loved everything about college, except of course the school work.  I was, after all “more social than academic” I loved college life!  I know he will love it too.  The guys he stayed with were so welcoming, and they had great ideas, they were funny and fun.  Yes it is time to start looking for winter clothes, since our winter is 2 weeks long and consists of days in the 50’s and nights in the 40’s with occasional freeze warnings.  Again it is 2 weeks long.  This boy is going to freeze.  He did report to me that each room has a heater and air conditioner, that they can control, I hope his room-mate likes to be HOT and stuffy!  But that 13 hour road trip to visit him is a long ride with children in tow.  And he cannot think that I would come up with out at least 2 children at all times.

Yes this University is THE ONE {read that in a big booming echoing voice}

Now to finish strong.

Our Church picnic was this Sunday, we had a nice time, we were on a lake, for those of you north of us, yes it had alligators, and snakes and turtles and fish and other things in it.  We were a noisy group and gators, unless they are protecting a nest, typically stay away from crowds of people.  We also had 2 boats going most of the time which will scare gators away.  But if you come out to that lake at night with a flashlight and shine it on the water you can see their eyes popping out of the lake watching you.  Pretty much any body of water down here has gators in it.
Anyway, at the picnic there was boat rides, I think my kids took about 5 rides.  J was excited because he got to drive a boat 2 times.  And the adult driving with him said he was the best boat driver they had, he reminded me again this morning about how fun it was.

We also had a little {okay BIG} painting project at home.  We’ve been working on O’s room on and off since the spring.  We are now to the point where it is time for paint, lights, and carpet.  While Keith was gone with the biggest boy, we had a little paint action going on.  A good friend came over, he is a paint machine, fast and efficient and tidy with a professional look.  {He used to paint houses over summer vacation}  He and O and R went to town on the attic room, while I took J to flag football.  When I finally got home 2 cans were empty and he had to leave for a family activity.  I was thrilled at the work!  That afternoon I went up with O and R and J to work some more.  We only were able to put in an hour of work but an hour is better than not any time.  The room was finished yesterday, our friend came back after school, it looks great!  Now to order carpet and install the lights,  Oh and O wants a bed custom-built by her daddy.  We’ll see when that happens.  {I have no doubt that he can do it, just finding time to do it is the biggest question.  I can’t wait to post pictures!

What about you?  What fun things did you do over the weekend?
We had a road trip
a university tour
pizza and a movie night
a flag football game
a trip to Lowes
a painting project
a dinner out as a family
a picnic
and plenty of family time
GO hug your kids and take a nice walk to enjoy the changing leaves of fall, or if you live near me, enjoy one more day with low humidity.  Life is too short not to find joy in your day.

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!