Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"The Best Part of the Entire Fort Trip"

We have only seen the sun briefly here in Florida.

So we’ve been taking in the sights, shopping and basically, trying to kill time until the sun decides to make another appearance.

We came to this part of Florida almost 10 years ago when Ellie was still in a car seat.

We had such a good time then even though we took two trips to the hospital, it suddenly dropped to 47 degrees during an evening of putt-putt golf and McDaniel almost lost her big toe nail when she “shoveled” it trying to dig a moat around her sand castle.

But we’ve come to expect those kind of things in our family.

We call them “good times”.

The highlight back then was a visit to the historic fort in the area.

There were people dressed in period costumes and the girls got to help make reindeer shoes in the blacksmith shop.

Yesterday, I decided we should revisit the fort since the day was gray and super windy.

The fort must’ve lost some funding because there was only one guy in costume and very few people touring it.

There was no blacksmith shop in sight.

It was like there was never a blacksmith shop.

We walked up steep spiral staircases to view the cannons on top of the fort forgetting Monte’s gout which slowed him down considerably.

He said, “Ow!” a lot.


Check out the big ship in the ocean sailing by!

Before my hair went wild.



The wind at the top of the fort was intense 
and made my hair betray me.

I could see precious little but my hair.

The girls were smart and had their hair pulled back.

We walked around the entire fort in very little time.

I was so disappointed.

Everyone touring the fort was well into their 90s so Monte didn’t feel so bad about his slow descent on the many stair cases in the fort.

On the way out, I decided to use the bathroom before we left the state park.

As I was zipping my pants, 

I was suddenly shoved into the stall wall 
by someone pushing the door open HARD.

My cheek squished into the wall
of a public restroom, people!

I had to yell to get the “pusher” to stop pushing!!

Which must have sounded weird considering my compromised cheek position.

There were words of apology or something but I can’t remember due to the intensity of the heartbeat in my ears as my blood pressure rose in anger.

Every single person in that fort was 90.

What Amazonian strength did the woman have 
to pin my face against the bathroom stall wall?!

I was caught off guard.
But still…

I was seriously considering waiting around to “have a final word” with the “pusher”. 

I know. 
I was going to “tell off” 
an elderly woman with 
super hero strength. 
Not. Wise.

But then I looked in the mirror and saw my hair.

To say that it was wildly untidy is too kind.

Too sophisticated.

I looked like I had been electrocuted 
and given a few dread locks 
at the same time.

With great volume.


I quickly decided that “having words” with an elderly woman who just compromised my body’s good germ vs. bad germ ratio with hair that looked like I slept under a bridge,

might call into question my sanity.

So I stomped to the car and angrily told my family my story as we left the park.

They laughed until they cried.

Okay. 
In all my shock and anger,
I wasn’t able to step back long enough to see
ALL THE FUNNY
in being pinned in a bathroom stall
by a freakishly strong old lady
sightseeing in a fort.

Monte said it was the best part of the entire fort trip.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Out with the Gout

This is a bit over due.

But there was quite a bit of house prep to do and packing for our trip to Florida before I could sit down and type this.

You might remember that Monte missed the last few steps of our stairs and went down hard a few weeks ago.

The next morning he sported a bruise and a jazzy limp.

Well, the next morning he woke up at 2:00 am with an INTENSE pain in the joint of his toe.

Like, I-think-I’ve-been-shot-in-the-toe intense.

He grabbed his pillow and blanket to go downstairs to the living room couch to read or something to take his mind off the searing pain.

I could hear him say “Ow!” on each step.

But he forgot about THE VAPORS of the lingering smell of polyurethane from our hardwood floors being finished.

So back up the stairs he came a few minutes later.

I could STILL hear him say “Ow!” on each step.

In the morning, we investigated his foot.

It was red and swollen and hot.

Weird, since it didn’t look that bad a day after his fall. 
Why now?



Ellie decided that Monte’s foot swollen looks WAY more human than his foot not swollen.

The puffiness filled out his crooky hammer toes nicely.

I finally convinced him to go get an x-ray.

The doctor took one look at his foot and said,

“You’ve got gout!”

Two days before Monte tumbled down the stairs and ended up with a jazzy limp,

he looked at me across the table and asked if I thought he looked old.

He said he felt like the reflection in the mirror was, well, reflecting old.

I told him no, he still looked like normal Monte to me.

And he does.

But nothing beats out any remaining hope of youth like a diagnosis of gout.

Monte insisted on an x-ray anyway.

Nothing broken.

Except maybe a hairline fracture to his pride.

When he called me from the pharmacy,

I was shocked.

Then we both gave our reactions to gout 
which exposed how little we know about it.

I thought it was something invalid’s got because they couldn’t move around enough.

Monte thought it was an extremely elderly frail disease.

In fact, as we told people about Monte’s gout, it was interesting the reactions we received:

“Is he a big rich food eater?”

“Likes the beer, huh?”

“Does he abuse prescription drugs?”


So in a short amount of time, 
Monte became a fat, 
drunk,
pill popper 
with gout.

Which he is not,
by the way.

Turns out, his brother had it as did his father.

It can be chronic or injury-induced.

Once Monte’s blood work came back, it seems he has the latter.

Thank goodness, this might be his only bout with gout.

But Monte still has medicine to take and he still has to walk around with a “hurts like a gun shot wound” pain in his big toe joint.

He drove all the way to Florida just fine even though I said I’d drive

and McDaniel was ALL TOO WILLING to step in as well.

In fact, on our first morning at the beach, Monte and I walked 4 miles.

Monte was convinced that the sand and the ocean air cured his gout and 

THAT JUST MIGHT BE why old people retire to Florida.

Then we went to a fort.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We’ve Got the Vapors

The polyurethane sealer for the wood floor vapors, that is.

It’s stinky in a way that has stages.

When you walk through the front door it’s STRONG.

Then you kinda settle in with it 
when the headache starts.

We walked in Sunday evening to find the floor guy just packing up to go home.

The floors looked shiny and wet.

The smell was fresh and INTENSE.

We decided to watch TV upstairs.

Then Monte said something that made us dissolve into tears of laughter that neither one of us could remember the next morning.

Vapors.

We may be minus a few brain cells now.

The next day wasn’t bad at all until the builder called and said to peek behind the plastic covering in the hallway to see that the new wood wasn’t matching with the old wood which wasn’t matching with the original wood in the living room.

Follow that?

So the wood guy had to restain and reseal that area.

Which meant an extra 2 DAYS of stinky.

Stinky but less than before 
because it was just a small area.

No vapor-induced giggles.

Hopefully, brain cells remained intact.

Yesterday, I came home around 3:00 to find the hardwood guy packing up for good.

The ENTIRE new space had been given a 2nd coat of poly.

It was thick with stink.

I picked up the girls from track and immediately took them to grab a quick dinner before we had to go to a middle school track meeting.

McDaniel opted to go with us, that’s how bad the smell was.

We came home and opened every window and then retired, once again, upstairs.

Ellie found a mask in the linen closet to wear as she packed her lunched downstairs.


The headaches came back.

I felt like I could taste the smell in my mouth.

Then Monte decided to take the dog out one last time for the night.

Somehow his slipper folded around the last few steps of the stairs and down he went with a thud as I was washing my face in the bathroom.

Good thing I had actually used the bathroom BEFORE I washed my face

because, well, 
I blame it on the vapors,

I fell to a squat position 
and dissolved into laughter.

Although I’m not kidding myself,
I would’ve done that even without 
the influence of vapors.


Ellie woke up with all

my laughter, 
Monte’s repeated, “I fell. My foot. I fell! My foot!” mutterings, 
McDaniel’s laughter 
and Nigel’s sniffing out the whole situation, 
very much still needing to go outside to do his business.

Back upstairs, I looked at Monte’s foot and offered him a frozen bag of blueberries since we haven’t had ice since October.

He would have none of it.

This morning, Monte was sporting quite the bruise on top of his foot along with a jazzy limp and nasty disposition.

Monte has had it rough having to  “take care of his business” at the Speedway gas station down the street because the line for the bathroom gets too long in the mornings.

We are all still sharing one shower and one toilet.

And Monte never seems to remember 
what color toothbrush is his.

We’ve got the vapors bad over here.

But it’s warmer today and I have all the windows open and I can hear the birds chirping--

even over the backed up sump pump spilling water into a nasty pool in the side yard.

Think a REALLY loud flushing toilet sound 
but splashing onto the ground with a loud SPLOOSH!

It’s a good reminder that even though we can’t get to the basement right now to see it, HOUSTON, THERE IS STILL A PROBLEM!


But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, people.

I can see it!

Unless that’s the vapors too.

I need some fresh air!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Some Random Lady’s Blog…

So in the past few days this happened:

1. McDaniel came home from being with friends with a story.

One of her friends explained that her dad very oddly told her to read “some random lady’s blog” the other night. Turns out, the dad was one of the firefighters AT OUR HOUSE the other Sunday night and he wanted his daughter to know it. I guess he is not allowed to discuss where and what he does on fire runs but because I was the “some random lady’s blog” and made the information public, he was free to discuss it. 

Apparently, he thought Monte trying to pass off as Urban Meyer 
was COMPLETE COMIC GOLD.

2. We went to see "McFarland, USA".


It’s fantastic! Great family movie. I love a good sports movie that makes me actually interested in sports I could care less about:  like “Miracle” did for hockey, “Field of Dreams” for baseball 
and “Rocky” for the brutal world of boxing.

McFarland is about a high school cross country team in a poor community. But so much more. 
I cried big, happy, inspired tears. We all did. The best part is that it is a true story. 
Go see it!


3. McDaniel turned 16.

Ellie had an entire “surprise McDaniel for her birthday plan" that involved her, Monte and I secretly blowing up balloons and shoving them in trash bags and trying to find a place to hide them when half the house is taped off in preparation for the wood floors to be finished.

Ellie also spent most of the afternoon writing notes and putting them in different colored envelopes that she taped onto McDaniel’s door early in the morning on her birthday.

She also had me write “Happy Birthday, McDaniel!” 
on the bathroom mirror in lipstick.

I regretted using red because after a few days 
it seemed to be more of a sarcastic, murderous threat 
than happy wish.

Showering the birthday girl with balloons.

Didn’t realize until I saw the picture that she taped the envelopes to form “16”.


McDaniel chose not to have a party and just wanted a low key dinner with just us at a grilled cheese place called Melt.

The menu was intense with macaroni and fried green tomatoes as filler options for their grilled cheese sandwiches.

I got a chicken pot pie grilled cheese.

You know what’s weird when you bite into a sandwich? 

Having a green pea squirt out. 

Also, I picked off the pie crust--
too much with all the bread.

It was delicious.

Monte got the Monte Cristo (of course). He opted to have it DEEP FRIED with powdered sugar on top. He said it was like having a funnel cake sandwich.

That belongs at a fair.

McDaniel invented her own sandwich.


Ellie got some sloppy buffalo chicken which caused her to fill the entire table with used napkins.


This is definitely a place where you will take home leftovers.

Ellie and McDaniel playing Pac Man before we leave.
McDaniel takes her driving test this weekend…

4. Our new hardwood floors are getting finished.

Which means we don’t have access to our basement which means we can’t use the bathroom down there and are ALL sharing one. 

Which is fun. 

Not really. 

And we also didn’t think this all through and our only printer is downstairs and it seems the girls need ALL THE FORMS printed out and signed for school. 

Come on…

5. Our basement flooded.


Yes, the one day that we got rain this week (yet we still have snow on the ground), 
we got water in our basement. 

Monte happened to check down there before he left for out of town and before the hardwoods were finished because he’d noticed how much the sump pump had been running. 

Thank goodness he did! 

We moved all we could to drier areas in the basement which was tough since we’ve been using the basement as a holding ground for all the new light fixtures, chairs and a SUPER SIZED TV that has been purchased for the new space. 

Right now, as I type, our carpet and padding has been ripped up, there is a hole in the wall of my craft room with a fan blowing on the wet insulation and our builder Paul is investigating outdoor trench draining options to prevent future leaks. 

All while the hardwood guy does his thing with our new space.

Monte called the insurance company and was told because the leak 
didn’t come from INSIDE the house, 
we aren’t covered. 

For the love of Pete!

6. McDaniel’s eyes keep swelling.

For the 2nd morning in a row, McDaniel has sent me pictures of her swollen eyes 
from her 1st period study hall.


Nice bubble.

Ouch.

It has to be the make up remover wipes she uses. 

Or there is a hidden cat roaming around the Learning Center where she has study hall.

I can’t even imagine chewing gum at school 
let alone taking a picture of myself blowing a bubble 
and sending it to my mom DURING CLASS.

Which makes me sound old. 

See #7.


7. I have to get reading glasses.

The eye doctor told me yesterday to not look at it as getting older 
but to look at it as a problem bending light. 

Apparently I can’t bend light like I used to.

8.  THIS

No matter how much I reassured, 
Nigel could NOT figure out that the dog in the mirror was HIM.

Even after I pointed out that “the other dog" was 
wearing the exact same too-small shirt.


But who am I to judge? 

I called the fire department because I thought a toy was going to explode when the real ticking time bomb 
was a water soaked basement.

Is it possible to actually bleed money?



Monday, March 02, 2015

Saving the Decorative Tiles

After it was decided that we were not going to keep the old faux brick archway in the new kitchen,


I wasn’t ready to give up the decorative tiles too.

Call me sentimental, but I actually liked those kooky painted tiles that we inherited with the house.

We found a stack of 5 or 6 of them in the basement when we moved in, almost 16 years ago, and I decided to incorporate them in a back splash underneath our open shelves on the other side of the kitchen.

I wrapped the 5 or 6 tiles in paper towels and shoved them in a grocery sack and went to the big tile store on the other side of town.

I showed the sales lady the tiles in the hopes of matching up a plain tile for the back splash. Instead, she gasped and got the other employees. 

Like, ALL the other employees.

One, tall, skinny man, PUT ON GLOVES to touch and pick up the same decorative tiles that I brought in wrapped in Bounty and shoved in a Kroger sack.

He asked if I had more and I told him I had almost an entire wall of them.

I thought he was going to faint.

He brought me a catalog and asked me to point to the ones I had.

I had them all.

Except for the lobster, which was a real bummer 
because of Monte growing up in south Florida 
and how much we both love lobster.

The man turned white and asked me if I had ANY IDEA how much that wall of hand made, hand painted, stamped tiles from Portugal was worth.

I stopped him right there and told him quite plainly that I did not want to know.

And I didn’t.

I knew that if he told me just how much each tile was worth, I was going to hit every bump on the way home and then break those tiles and I was going to FEEL SICK about how much money I just lost in the Bounty-wrapped, Kroger sack in my back seat.

So it was knowing there was value in that wall, that I asked that as many of the tiles be saved as possible when they were removed from the wall.

I was told to scrape any old adhesive and grout off the tiles so that they’d be level for reuse.

I googled the best way to do that and watched a very informative video.

Just soak the tiles in very hot water in a bucket 
and then scrape the adhesive right off.


So I did.

And I did.

And I did.

Some tiles were way more stubborn than others.

Julie offered to come over one day and she suggested adding Dawn dish soap to the bucket of hot water.

It worked like a dream!

It takes a village, people.

Not THE Village People.

We were able to get SO MANY tiles scraped and clean that day!



They were numbered.





And we still had time for some other necessary things.

When you got to go,
you got to go.

I love that no one is even paying attention to the two
middle aged ladies snapping photos on a toilet in the
middle of a construction zone.


It was sometime AFTER the toilet posing, that Paul, our builder, walked into the room and tapped Julie on the shoulder and said,

“I just hit your car.”

I thought he was kidding and started to laugh because THERE WAS NO WAY he hit her car after the siding guys HIT MY CAR a few months ago.

What are the odds??

But I saw his face and it was not joking or laughing. In fact, it looked really remorseful and a touch sad.

Julie handled it like a champ and they walked outside to examine the damage and take pictures.

Of course, I had to take pictures too.

Poor Paul looking all defeated and slumped over.
Julie looking just the right amount of melodramatic.
And me being HORRIFIED that my Christmas wreaths are still on the table in the front yard!


We laughed far more than Paul did, poor guy.

They exchanged information which she promptly sent to her husband because he is in the car business.

Her husband was at a business organization lunch when he got the word about the car incident. He decided to call right then to get more information. When he dialed the number and asked for Paul by name, the guy sitting RIGHT NEXT TO JULIE’S HUSBAND happened to be Paul’s insurance agent and let him know that Paul was fully covered and the matter would be handled.

What are the odds??

So these tiles came at a cost, people. 


They weren’t able to use as many tiles as I would’ve liked due to the size of the corbels.

While the tiles were being laid out, I had to get rid of the cool blue bird with the crazy eye because it was slightly larger than the black and red raspberries tile next to it.




I had to quickly hand the tile guy a substitute, the baby calf, which makes three brown animals in a row, TIC, TAC, TOE.



I will try not to focus on that 
every time I’m at the stove.


Right in the middle is my favorite tile. 
The maid milking the cow.

Before the tiles were removed from the wall, I was able to notice tiles that never popped out to me in the 15 years I stood before them cooking.

Like, this turkey only has one leg:

That little quirk earned him a spot on the wall.
And the fact that this milk maid is milking a cow with HORNS.

Ahem.

The cow/bull seems to be saying something to the maid.
Probably, “Hey!"
This tile quickly became me and one of our worker’s favorite. We pointed it out to everyone. Paul finally got fed up enough that he researched cows with horns and apparently IT’S A THING.

I told Paul that me and Jeremy’s story was better and it would not stop us from telling it. 
EVER.

We have two boxes left of the tiles and while I’m planning a cool tile serving tray project, Monte is researching the going rate for hand painted, tiles from Portugal on eBay.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Adding On Update

Since my last house addition update, 

we got kitchen cabinets.


So many boxes.

Laying them all out.

Nigel helping.
We had open, floating shelves built instead of installing upper cabinets.

I’ve always had open shelves,
even in our first house in Atlanta.

It saves you money,
 makes unloading the dishwasher a snap
and it makes guests feel comfortable
grabbing a glass for water
or a plate for a meal.

Because they are all right there out in the open.

And when your husband brings home those huge ugly plastic cups
from his gas station ice tea,
you just throw them
in one of the lower cabinets.

Or you throw them in the trash can
and tell him it melted in the dishwasher.



I made our builder, Paul, nervous when I asked him if he was POSITIVE the fridge would fit into its new cabinet home.

That would not even be funny if the fridge that started 
this whole project still didn’t fit into the kitchen.

Lots of measuring later, 
yes, he is POSITIVE it will fit.

Whew!

Our fridge’s future new home.

I can’t even express the excitement I have about this pantry!

They reconfigured the shelves and widened the doorway.

To the right of the shelves, I have an area to hang my broom, mop, Swiffer and aprons.

Yay!!


In our original plan, we were going to keep the brick archway that enclosed the stove area and also hid the ventilation hood.

I can’t believe I wanted to keep it.

Since Julie opened our eyes to the concept of getting rid of it,
(thank you, thank you, thank you, that you did, Julie!!)

we had to come up with a plan to cover the ventilation pipe. 

I did not want one of those stainless steel exposed hoods. 

And not just because they were super expensive.


I looked at pictures on Houzz and Pinterest and printed out a few and gave them to our crew.

They really ran with it and even helped me find the wooden corbels on eBay.

Monte negotiated hard and saved  a
whopping $4.00 on the corbels,
which he still considers a victory.

It turned out awesome!!


 Next, everything got a coat of primer.




Our counters were installed.

When I went to the fabricators to pick out what pieces to put where, they avoided every vein in the stone.

The veining was my favorite part and I had them 
make sure to include every last bit of it!



Some places call this granite, River White, others call it Typhoon White.

We wanted something that looked like marble without the fuss and staining issues of marble.




A one bowl sink! I really couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to stainless steel or stick with the porcelain cast iron I’ve always had.

In the end, I decided stainless steel might hold up better. My white sink was really showing some wear and tear.


While all the above was happening in the kitchen,

our fireplace and cabinets were shaping up in the family room.

The over 100-year-old barn beam mantle my Dad brought from Indiana.
The walls above the cabinets are painted black because one of the workers, Jeremy, suggested putting barn wood behind the open shelves. The black paint would make any cracks in the wood less noticeable.
 Jeremy wrapped the column in the kitchen with barn wood too.

I used to not like this ill-placed column.

Now it’s one of my favorite things in the room.


I really like how it looks with a toilet in front of it.


The barn wood in place.

The red pieces of wood clashed with the stone in the fireplace, 
so Paul brought me a wire brush so I could rub some of the paint off.

I sneezed red dust for two days.



Next came picking a paint color.

At this point, I was in what Monte later diagnosed as 
full-on Decision Paralysis. 

I could not pick a color.

I handed the paint fan that Sumita loaned me to the painter and told him to pick.

I gave him some parameters and he gave me choices and we narrowed things down pretty quick.


We went with Repose Grey by Sherwin Williams.

I like how sometimes it looks beige and sometimes it looks grey.




Next came the tile backsplash.

I decided on a simple white subway tile. 

I made sure the guys saved as many of my decorative tiles as possible 
from the old kitchen so they could be reused. 

That required some work on my part to get all the adhesive and old grout off. 
More on that later.

I decided on a dark grout called Winter Grey.


Yesterday, our kitchen lights were installed.


I bought those cool Edison light bulbs for the pendants and over the sink light we found on sale online at Pottery Barn around the holidays.



And our cabinet hardware was installed!!!

Oil rubbed bronze handles and knobs.
Have you fallen asleep yet? 

I feel like I’ve just shown you our vacation pictures from out West and it bored you into slumber!

That actually happened to us. 

Our neighbor nodded off during our slideshow.

We still like to bring it up at neighborhood parties.