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.
jen

 

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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”
Yup
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.
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

20th Anniversary Gift

So this year we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary at home, mostly in our home.  We had a great trip scheduled.  But due to some risks with the pregnancy we were advised against travel and actually doing any of the things we had planned, walking tours, train rides, carriage rides, and eating.  Mostly eating.

I searched high and low to find an inexpensive gift for Keith.  We were trying to save money for our trip.  But I wanted to get him something that was significant.  And I have given him some pretty terrible gifts in the past.  I blame the bad gifts on the fact that my father died with I was only 3 and my younger sister was 6 months, I have no memory of Fathers Day so our first few Fathers days I gave Keith things like Father Parenting Books and socks.  While my friends were giving their husbands golf clubs Keith was getting books, they were giving sports tickets, he was getting more Parenting Books.  Christmas I have always done fine but Anniversaries not so good, I no memory of what my mom gave my dad, so pretty dumb gifts were given to Keith.  I have improved greatly but I still panic that the gift will be lame.

It took me forever to come up with an idea, I planned Keith’s gift out for our anniversary while he was on one of the SLU trips, he was in Europe so no fear of him finding out the gift if he came home for lunch or on an errand.

I was going for significant but inexpensive he was impressed with the gift {or at least he acted impressed}

I thought I’d share it with you.

1082349_10202328603002698_941383054_nThe top penny is from the year we were married.
Then each penny is from the following years.  The dime is our 10 year anniversary.

Pretty cool huh?
The greatest thing is R searched our change jar and found all the pennies and dime without much effort.

Here is how I made it.

1 5×7 shadow box frame from Hobby Lobby {it was around $10 but It was half price}
Pennies or coins from the years
Catsup or lemon juice
Hot Glue and Gun
Ruler or Straight Edge

We used Catsup to clean the pennies.  R has a penny trick book and it recommends either one but after some experimenting the Catsup was the fastest and worked best.  {I was betting on the lemon juice I even tried baking soda with the lemon juice and R’s still came out cleaner}

DSCN4330Step 1
Lay the pennies out in the grid you are trying to achieve
I also flipped them so when I picked them up to glue the back the penny was naturally facing head towards the top so I did not have to try to turn the HOT penny.DSCN4332Step 2
Hot Glue works best/fastest/most painful.  The pennies carried the heat.
You can use glue dots or a craft glue or hot glue.  {glue dots will shift and the pennies can drop off}DSCN4331Step 3
Line up the pennies as you glue them.  You do have about 2 seconds to shift your pennies if you need to.
My straight edge was a piece of paper.1082349_10202328603002698_941383054_nStep 4
Clean the glass, pull off the hot glue webs, put the frame back together and admire.

My next plan is to take a larger frame and start gluing down the random foreign coins he brings back from trips.  He has been to quite a few countries and I think that will be a better way to enjoy them then in a pile in a jar.

What about you?  How are you on Anniversary gifts?  What is the worst gift you’ve ever given?

Go hug your kids, they need your love
jen

No Idea How It Happened

A strange thing happened at our house a few weeks back. DSCN3701This very useful hook that I made
{okay I did not make the hook we had 4 in the house and I really don’t know where they came from, so I purchased 4 wooden mounting squares at Hob’Lob and drilled holes in ALL BY MYSELF and attached the hooks to the squares all by myself}

This very useful hook, took a tumble

DSCN3699I walked in the bathroom to put away towels and this is what I saw on the floor.

DSCN3698I looked up and this is what I saw on the wall.
{Do you see those two holes in my wall?}

The most surprising thing is NO ONE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED.

Not a single person in the whole house saw it fall, not a single person in the whole house propped it up against the wall.

No one knows what happened.  No one has any idea when it happened.

In all fairness it could have just fallen but no one mentioned it to me, I don’t use that bathroom often so I have no idea when it fell.  But it would have been nice to know about so I could set about asking Keith to hang it.  That is a task I am afraid to try.

What about you, do you have things that just break in your house with out anyone’s knowledge?

Go hug your kids and tell someone you love them!  Life is just too short.
jen

No Project This Time

Keith is getting back from Europe tonight.  My few readers know what that means.  A PROJECT.  One that will surprise him when he gets home.  As of right now I have about 14 hours to complete a project.  It looks like it will not be happening.

We have done plenty of other things while he has been gone.  I think the little kids have had ice cream or a frozen treat for breakfast all week.  And some have had it again in the afternoon or evening.

We tried to go swimming a few times, but the rains would not stop.  Or not stop long enough to get suits on and get into the pool.

We went to IKEA for hide~n~seek.

We ate lunch at Chick~fil~a.

Four of the kids went to play putt putt golf with the grandparents.

We played games, put together puzzles, read books and built with legos.

We watched movies and ate nachos.

We did not do a project.  We talked about painting, we talked about new windows, we talked about landscape.  But all we did was TALK.  Talk is cheap.

R put away all the clean dishes 3 different days, J became a laundry maniac, doing it before I woke up in the morning.  He knows what bleach to use, how much to use and where it goes, he know what goes on cold or warm and how much detergent to use.  I am loving this.  Not loving the load I had to iron because he dried it too long, but it is a learning process.  He loves it and I love it for him!  O baked cookies, and C fixed up the projector so we could watch movies on the wall of the family room.  E and A played, sang, danced and played some more.

I even ordered a new TV for the house.  When we returned from vacation our TV would not work.  No changing of outlets would help, the TV would not power up.  It was fine that first week, the sun was shining and we could swim,ride bikes, play outside.  But this last week, continual rain, the kids have taken to watching netflix, on the computer devices around the house.  It is not working as well as I would like.  I snapped, sent Keith a message and he found a few for me to purchase.  I did it online, but had some problems with best buy’s website.  Finally after 50 minutes of hold time talking, getting disconnected, trying again… we had our TV.  Keith asked why I did not just go in the store.  It was an online deal.  The online issues were not the fault of the phone people, they just had to follow protocol.  But sometimes I wish following protocol included listening all the way and using common sense.

I guess you could say the new TV was my project.

So, no big project this time, no small project either.  Unless someone wants to come over and do a project for me.

DSCN3738This little girl is ready for her daddy to be home.
We all are!  I love that he gets to do the trips, I love that he truly loves spending time with these students, and that he is interested enough to invest his time in their lives, and I love that my kids can’t wait for him to get back home.  I love him.
Gotta go vacuum out the van since we did escape to the beach for the few hours of sunshine that we had during the week.

Go hug your kids and listen to them to see what interests them!
jen

An IKEA Towel

We went to IKEA, little A and I, last week.  She had a Dr appointment in the next city over,  we were running out of glasses and I like to see what other deals I can get there.  We seem to break glasses with flare.  We go through at least 15 glasses a year.  Since the IKEA trip we have broken 2 glasses already.  {I know what you practical minded people are thinking, “Why not get plastic?” I’ll share my weirdness with you, drinking milk out of plastic is gross to me, and then I am afraid of BPA leaching into my drinks, as I told the kids when we were looking for drink containers for school I don’t want men with man boobs, and now with the whole breast issue for me, no BPA!!!}
So as I was saying, we went to IKEA.  Since I was on a time crunch we skipped the upstairs much to little A’s chagrin.  She L O V E S to run and hide, and climb, and look, and open.  There are signs all over that it is family friendly, kid friendly, climb, touch, open friendly we let her have a go at the place.  We went upstairs only to go to the elevator down to the bottom floor, we were out of the place in just over an hour.  Which if you have ever shopped with me you know that is amazing.  And if you have ever shopped at IKEA you know that is also amazing.

We stopped and collected some glasses, ended getting some super cute flamingo glasses not at all practical but so adorable.  We looked at the fun kitchen gadgets, and moved on towards the towels and aprons.  In the kitchen towel area, little A found a super cute stripe~y towel that she insisted we needed and put into our yellow bag.  As we wound our way through the store, we found some interesting prints, we decided that those would be nice for C’s bathroom since the re~do project we never did get any artwork, or ceiling trim for that matter, put up.  {Keith and O did replace his bathroom window and Keith is planning on trimming out the window tonight.}

When we got home little A showed my sister the cute stripe~y towel.  My sister suggested making it into smaller dish towels for little A’s kitchen.

Here is what I did and if you want you can do it yourself.

DSCN3705Take 1 super cute stripe~y towel

DSCN3714Cut it into quarters, I did not measure I just folded it in half and half again and pressed hard, then cut along the folds.DSCN3717I rolled/folded the raw edges twice, so it would not unravel over time.DSCN3720I rolled/pinned/sewed the raw edges, because it was already a towel the other two edges on each quarter were hemmed making less work for me.DSCN3721Ta~Da 4 super cute little hand towels for little A.DSCN3707They fit perfectly with her cute pink and blue kitchen.DSCN3711Washing “hot toffee tups” and sitting pretty on her shelf.

I decided next time we head out to IKEA I will pick up a few more, then I can make an apron and dish cloths for her to take to a birthday party.  How cute is that?

Today is the last Friday of school for us!  I cannot even begin to express how happy I am about this.  Although part of the joy might be based on the fact that I actually thought today was Thursday.  I can see the end of the year and it makes me very glad!

Go hug your kids and share some love.  Life is just too short!
jen