28 August 2011

Disregard previous post.

Any man who doesn't understand the importance of a label-maker needs to re-examine his life.

Home. Really, really home.

I'm home after a weekend away with Claire, Charlotte and Raquel. We spent two fantastic days at the Fullness of Truth Conference in San Antonio. It was just wonderful, and I came home feeling refreshed and peaceful. There is nothing like surrounding myself with the love of Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit in the midst of 1500 other true Catholics. The focus of the conference was the biblical basis of the Church and the ties of our faith to Jewish tradition and the Old Testament. I learned so much and returned to my dear husband so ready to tackle my vocation and jump back into our marriage with fresh eyes.

One of the most exciting parts of the weekend was learing that the Covenant of Love program is being made completely free to all parishes as of right now. I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself. I am so blessed and fortunate to be married to a man who really and truly understands what marriage is. Andrew puts himself aside for his marriage and family absolutely every day and I'm so acutely aware of how rare and precious that is. So many marriages are stretched thin and reaching for a life raft. The death of marriage in our society is ultimately what will bring our society to an ugly demise. Marriage isn't merely loving someone and being happy. It's so much more than that. When we love our spouses as Christ loves us, we minister 24 hours a day. A heart that's truly fostering Christ in the home will be a beacon to the entire world. A marriage full of selfless love and true giving produces children who are secure, generous and able to love without reservation. A light set on a hill cannot be hidden, and marriage should be just that. A bright, blinding light.

My mom said to me today that you can be married to absolutely anyone and be happy as long as you're both focused on Christ. She's so right, because when you're focused in the right direction, you have a clearer vision of what matters. It doesn't matter who you love, because when you're loving them as Christ loves His Church, you're not just living with a person. You're tending a soul. It's humbling to think like that, because it reminds me that if I were really loving Andrew as Christ loves Andrew, I wouldn't think twice about wiping down the bathroom sink after he shaved. I'd just wipe down the counter and remind myself that if the good Lord washed the feet of the Apostles, I could certainly clean the bathroom without grumbling. I wouldn't pout when he called me an hour later than usual to tell me he was on his way home. I'd just thank my lucky stars that I'm married to a man who provides so joyfully, enabling me to keep our home and mother our children. I wouldn't wonder why he didn't have the foresight to pack a lunch before he was walking out the door. I'd have it waiting for him as he left, a little love note on his napkin and my last two Oreos waiting for 1pm.

I have so far to go, even in the simplest tasks. The selfless and life-giving part of our marriage comes from Andrew. He's so giving and unfailing, always building up where others might tear down. In him I know that my failings are always forgiven and every day is new. In him I know that our marriage is strong and can weather whatever lies ahead. (Sound like someone else you know? I'll give you a hint. It rhymes with "sod.")

I am such a broken, flawed person, and he loves me anyway. If it weren't for my winning smile and great legs, I'd be doomed.

People, spend ten minutes today tending your marriage. Write your spouse a love letter. Make a nice dinner and buy a bottle of wine. Figure out a nice Tuesday gift for the one you love. Make your "have a nice day kiss" last a few seconds longer. Pinch a tooshie and share a wink. Say an extra prayer to be Christ to your spouse and the people in your life.

Your spouse will be thrilled. Your children will have a greater future. Society will flourish. Heaven will sing. We were put on this earth to love. So get out there and do it.

Stronger than ever. God Bless America and her children.

Molly, Lucy and I were viewing "best pix of the week". First, I'm just astonished at how much chaos, hate, destruction, etc there is in the world today. Yes, there were the sports pictures, cute animal pictures, exotic people/destination pictures too (that was my intent & target with the little ones) but I had to skip through so much... turmoil. Political, environmental, etc. We paused briefly on this picture (the rebuilding of tower/memorial in NYC @ Ground Zero)...

Lucy said, "What's that and why is that a best picture?" Before I could find words a tear rolled down my cheek and I stumbled to find words. She was sitting on my lap and Molly stood at my feet and listened attentively. I summarized with "About 10 years ago, airplanes ran into buildings in NY and DC and knocked them down." As I paused to reflect on 1) how on Earth to describe the events of 9/11 to the beautiful innocence of my little girl, 2) what level of detail could she even comprehend and 3) the fact I had some crazy deep emotions still behind that horrific day... She chimed in quickly with a "Looks like they're rebuilding it", she jumped off my lap and continued as she flexed her biceps and gritted her teeth like a pro-wrestler would, "and it's going to be stronger than ever!!"

I pinched her little biceps and said "Whoa. I hope the new buildings are as strong as you!" Her smile beamed from ear to ear. She jumped back on my lap. I discreetly wiped my cheek with my sleeve. We looked at a couple more pictures and hurried onto our next activity for the day, feeding the ducks at the lake! A new favorite for both girls. Molly, however, was heartbroken when there were no boats launching at the ramp today. She kept saying "Ducks happy. I want a boat! See a boat! Where the boats?"


On our walk yesterday to the playground... (on which I got lost, walked miles in the wrong direction up & down multiple hills in 110 degrees, pushing the double stroller. sigh). Needless to say, I now know the shortcut/right roads to get to/from the playground more expediently. Live and learn. Cute playground! Well hidden! Some tennis courts too! Anyways... here's how MOST of the way-too-long-and-hot walk went:

A: Wow. Look at those beautiful trees. They have pink and purple flowers on them! They are so beautiful. I bet that your mom would like those. I wondered what they're called.

Lu: Ha. I don't know. Ha. I learned THAT word from Mommy.

A: What word?

Lu: I-dont-know

A: Mommy taught you the word I-dont-know?

Lu: Yes. She says it all the time. It's not a bad word daddy. She says it like, "Lucy, I don't know". So, yes. It's an okay word to say daddy.

Mo: I KNOW! I KNOW! MWAHAHAHAHAHA (evil laughter)

Lu: Molly, you do NOT know. Only Mommys and Daddys know.

A: It smells good but I still don't know what kind of tree that is...

Lu: You can look it up.

THAT ONE had me laughing hard enough to slow down my strides and gather myself :-) Every day Lucy sounds more and more like Laura and it's just the cutest thing in the entire world.

27 August 2011


New rug.

Thrill. Are you getting chills? I know. Me too.

Grandpa Time!

Hi Mo!

I miss you! Be a good girl for Daddy this weekend! I love you!

24 August 2011

Andrew 1, Dad 0

Mmmmmm.... fishing on a work night.

Once upon a hot TX evening there was a dead lizard.

Don't worry. I said it was dead.

So... last night, I went looking on our patio for geckos and lizards. Why? Because they're fun. So, I found one laying on the bricks on the windowsill. It looked so cute that I called my dad out to look at it. Once he was out there (Laura was inside mid-MAJOR-kitchen renovations, more on that later), I tried to poke it to make it run away.

It didn't run. Boo. SOOOOO... Dad got this idea. "Hey" he said. "Let's scare Laura!" He then coerced me into picking up the dead reptile and bringing it in the house. He forcibly pushed me into the bathroom and with that deacony-you-shall-do-as-I-command look in his eye, instructed me to put the dead little reptile next to her toothbrush.

I, commonly known to blog readers as "sugar lips" and "loverboy" was so distraught that I couldn't bring myself to forewarn my lovely bride. Needless to say, this ended with some strong punches, threats, yelling and... Laura buying another dining room set (!?)

I love that girl.

Glazed over. No, really.

I haven't blogged from my computer in ages.

That's because i haven't left my kitchen in 5 days. No, really. It's undergoing a massive transformation courtesy of your truly and my treasure of a father-in-law. I truly can't wait to post the whole transformation. I had no idea it could be this beautiful! I think after all is said and done it will have been about 50 man hours and about $700 to get the kitchen up to a decent standard. I'm guessing that most of it will be done by mid-September, but that's pure speculation. If I could have it done by thanksgiving I'd be satisfied. I still have to finish painting the ceiling, finish painting the walls, sew some curtains, build the breakfast table, hang pictures and "things" and get the cabinet doors back on. And the cabinet doors are still completely untouched. That means 30 doors need to be deglossed, painted with three coats of white paint, glazed and coated with a protective top coat. This glazing business is enough to drive me to my grave, but the cabinets do look awesome. This includes our behemoth china cabinet. She needs a name. Gloria. Cause she huge. (if you didn't catch the Madagascar 2 reference, you haven't seen it enough, freaks.)

And with that, I'm signing out. Call me when King Julian is the standard for 90% of your social interactions.

22 August 2011

Dirty laundry and painted ladies.

Mm-hmm. I know you're interested now. Shaaaame on you!

Today was Day One of what I will call The Week of Intrepid Project-Doing.
Andrew and GrandPaul tackled the laundry room today and I am happy to report that they not only started what they set out to accomplish, but they finished it as well. They ran plumbing and some electric to one of our huge master closets to turn it into a laundry room. (Primarily because I was tired of doing laundry in the kitchen.) After working ALL day, the washer is ready to roll and the dryer just needs a 220v outlet installed. Andrew still has fetal-position flashbacks from the "220 Jolt of 2008," so we've opted to hire out that little detail. But seeing as it's 105 in the shade these days, it's actually no faster to dry the laundry in the dryer than it is to just hang them outside on the railing like I've been doing, effortlessly convincing our neighbors that they'll never sell their house while my unmentionables are waving to the passing golfers.

And what was I doing all day? Never one to be outdone by hard labor, I tackled the kitchen and have been working on resurfacing the cabinets with Rust-Oleum's Cabinet Transformations. The reviews on the website were great so I thought I'd give it a try. And whaddya know? The guy who said this would be a great "weekend project" was essentially right. If you've got Thanksgiving weekend free and can run the risk of being hopped up on No-Doz for 96 hours, then yes, it's the perfect weekend project! Most of the kitchen is currently in Step 2 and under 2-3 coats of this and that, and I've been working for a day and a half. I have 5 steps and about 3 more coats of that and this, so...I hope to have them done by Thanksgiving. But don't worry- I'll be taking a break tomorrow to finish up a root canal, so it's not like I'm missing all the fun summer has to offer!

Well, my darling girl is nursing as I type, but she's about to finish and I'll be expected to fetch warm towels and frozen grapes and massage her gently until she drifts into a peaceful slumber. Divas really do come in all sizes, and while mine's only demanding at night, it's enough to remind me never to go into show business.

21 August 2011

First time in the highchair!

Texas Sunrise

Book nook.

Who says a closet's only good for clothes?

Washing the carseat covers.

Mo on an imaginary trip to Mimi's!

I'm a puddle on the floor.

Because we're in Texas.

Because it matched her outfit. Because her little bowling ball head is perfect for giant bows. Because she's totally defenseless. Ha.

Sweet Little Mama!

Drs. T & C.

Thank your lucky stars that these two are just general practitioners.

Molly vs Expo

No clear winner.

Things I Will Blog Tomorrow

Claire needs to stop sleeping on my right side at night. I need her to nurse on both sides and the thought of doing so sitting up during The Dark Hours makes me want to cry. On the other hand, I don't want her to fall out of bed.

I'm working on the kitchen cabinets right now. I am beyond excited. I'm on the first coat of the first quarter of the room. I have four coats and four quarters to do. I hope to have it done by 2017. Pictures to follow.

Deacon Daddy-O is here. The house is just busting with excitement! Tonight he and Lucy were sitting at dinner and he was playing around and said, "Can I call you Lucy Goosey?" Lucy gazed up at him, green eyes sparkling, and said dreamily, "You can call me anything you want." Melt. She's such a little doll. Cute as a button and she doesn't miss a beat. Nothing she won't do for attention from Grandpa!

Andrew and DDO are working on putting in a new laundry room right now. I know. My heart's all a-flutter. Tomorrow will be a trip to Lowes and more work on the cabinets, followed by copious Manly Muttering from the laundry room. It's cute.

We had dinner at Ben and Charlotte's last night, and ended up putting all the kids to bed in various rooms so that we could stay late and play games. All of the girls just happily dropped off to sleep without so much as a grumble, giving Mommy and Daddy a chance to have a fun night with their friends. Love our easy-going girls! We stayed til 11 and played Apples to Apples and laughed our keesters off. Every Saturday should be so nice.

And now it's 11 on Sunday and I will have three cute girls up before I know it. Time to snuggle up with Little Miss Sunshine and get a little shuteye!

Oh, and get this. Lucy came up to me last night and sat on the couch for a few minutes. She snuggled up and said, "You know, you're the best mom in the whole world." Double melt. I almost cried, it was so darling!

Okay, okay. Lucy's charming, Claire's a snuggly little peach and Molly's always covered in marker. Oh, Molly. She's like a naughty little puppy. I seriously can't get enough.

19 August 2011

Lost in Translation

I love the way toddlers mispronounce things. I just love it.

Let's start with Lucy, shall we?

Marote = Remote

Paws Nailish = Nail Polish

Sye-ked = Excited

Evewwey = Even

And then there's Molly:

Hoggid mims - Chocolate Milk

Monnie = Molly (which is funny because her great-grandma is called Monnie)

Hoo-hay = Lucy

More plumbing work.

I called my mom today, and before she even said hi, she asked, "You're not calling with a plumbing problem, are you? Nina's ceilings are falling in and I can't take any more plumbing phone calls." I answered, "Well, kind of. I bought two cloth diapers."

I'm a disposable diaper gal. Cloth diapers seem so...permanent. Disposables say to me, "Don't worry, Laura! This'll be over in a snap!" Cloth diapers say, "Buckle up, girlfriend. If  you didn't want another 3 years of diapers, you shoulda been sleeping on the couch." So here I am, staring down the barrel of 3 more years of diapering, in the middle of which we'll turn up expecting again because I have yet to brush up on the Creighton method, so that's...5 more years? Plus another 2 for #5...that puts me at somewhere aroound 7-10 years of diapers, plus any "surprise" babies that come along after that. That's a LOT of diapers. Thousands, even. My head is spinning. So much poop.

But I digress. Cloth diapers are more work, yes. But it's not like I do much more than change diapers, play house and dream up crockpot meals and make pot roasts and whatnot. For some reason I'm suddenly reminded of a weird joke the Bomboys have in their family about Jean Bomboy "cooking a pot roast" when in fact it's the last thing she'd ever do. She always say, "Dinner? There's a pot roast in the oven," but in all actuality there was probably never a pot roast in the oven. That may be the only thing she and I will ever have in common. I doubt there will ever be a pot roast in my oven. They're gross. That's just way too much cow for one meal.

Now I'm totally off topic. I'm waiting for my diaper budget to approved by our CFO. (I'm the COO, clearly.) Just ask Lucy, God is our CEO. She's on this whacky trip lately about "who's in charge of the family." Andrew and I were mature and team-oriented and we went with, "God's in charge of our family, and Mommy and Daddy work for Him to help our family be the best it can be." Somehow she's still running around here telling me that "Daddy's in charge." As if that's the best position to take when you're left with Mommy all day. Kids. Hmph.

Now I'm off track again.

Disposables - about $1k a year. And we use Luvs, because we're cheap.

Cloth - about $300 over the span of three years. Maybe $500 as we have more babies and have to rotate in new diapers. And Claire's bumper will be wrapped up in softness.

CFO? Are you reading this?

Now I've gotten totally off track.

15 August 2011

Oh Monday, why me??

Today is seriously kicking my tail. I don't say that often, but today has really been handing it to me.

I spent the early part of the morning trying to move the girls' clothes into the closet in Claire's room. Basically, there is a very big closet between the two rooms and with so many clothes belonging to all three of them, it seems like a sensible switch. After giving it a try for awhile, I'm pretty sure that we're going to rearrange rooms very soon to put Claire in our room, the girls in Claire's room, and us in the girls' room. Our only real concern is that we have more furniture than we have space, so we may end up leaving a dresser behind. The girls are very excited about the switch and I'm going to have Aunt Lisa paint trees in their closet the next time she's down, to maximize the space for pretend play. (Hello? Walking through a forest? I would have killed for a forest between our bedrooms when I was four!)

So, the closet is huge and almost every inch is being used for clothes. Claire is already growing out of things too fast to keep up with the seasons, and now we're in trouble because the heat is just not letting up and I'm running out of hot-weather stuff. The good news is that she really only rotates between 5 outfits because I want her in "the cute stuff" anyway, so we have lots of onesies to get us through on our lying about the house days. As I was putting her too-small clothes over on the daybed to be packed up, I just thought, "Poor girl number 4..." (The thought of having a boy becomes more foreign every day...I don't know a lot of people who have a ton of girls. I do know a lot of people who have three or more boys, but I feel like all-girl families are a little more scarce. If our next is a boy, I'll seriously pass right out.)

Hanging all of the cold-weather clothes made me just ache for cooler weather. It was so wonderful having a rainy day over the weekend. We took the girls to the zoo on Saturday and had a blast. They have a baby monkey there and boy was that adorable. Looked just like Claire.

We spent yesterday doing house stuff - the list is just neverending. Andrew spent part of the day demolishing the bathroom wall and a doorframe to build me a laundry room. This is exceptionally thrilling as my washing machine is currently hooked up in the kitchen and I'm drying clothes on the rail outside the living room. It's terribly charming, but our neighbors are convinced that we're poor and unwilling to save our pennies for the necessary appliances. I HAVE a dryer. It's just sitting in my garage dreaming of better days.

I've got some Peach-Whiskey BBQ Chicken in the crockpot right now - I figured it would be easier to just put it there than try to pay attention to it in the oven. It smells DIVINE. Grandma Susie would just love this recipe, as she was a BBQ chicken freak like myself. Of course, the whiskey would have caused quite a stir as it would mean a trip to the liquor store and Grandpa hiccuping for far too long while he sang "Rye Whiskey." It might not have been worth the trouble for her...

I've been trying to get my house all clean and pretty for Andrew when he gets home. It's the least I can do. I swear, my children are actively trying to prevent me from looking like I accomplish anything around here. "What's that? Just did the laundry? Well I'm naked and my clothes are in a trail down the hall - enjoy!" "You just swept the floor? Well I just ate crackers in front of the kitchen sink! Great minds, you know..." "Is that a newly Febreezed couch? Hm, yes, well, I suppose I do need to pee. No, no, don't get up on my account. I'll just pee on the couch!" Motherhood = humility. And whiskey.

12 August 2011

Humility is a dish best served by a four year old.

Lucy and I were in the car yesterday and had the following conversation.

L: Mama, my babysitter said "butt" when she was babysitting us. That's a very bad word.

M: Yeah, we try not to say that one. There are lots we don't say, right?

L: Yes, like #%?$. Only mommies can say that one.

M: Well, they shouldn't say that one.

L: Yeah. Only if something really bad happens and it's an emergency.

M: Right. Sometimes it just slips out.

L: Yeah, I know you have a LOT of emergencies.

Here's another funny one from the bath tonight. Each girl had a cup of crushed ice on the side of the tub. Lucy took a piece of ice and said, "Okay, I'm going to show you a magic trick. I'm going to make the ice in my hand disappear." I replied, "Wow, okay. But you have to show me the ice first so I know it was in your hand to begin with." Well of course by this time her hot hands had melted her tiny piece of ice. She opened her hands and gasped and said, "Whoa! I'm so good at magic I did it without the trick!"


So, I do love having an adorable round baby. I love her chunky little thighs and her sweet gray eyes. I love her red fuzzy hair and her little dimple on her chin. I love her fat, sweaty hands and soft little belly. I love her crooked smile and her cute little coos. Babies are awesome..

But I'm in postpartum hell. My belly is pouchy and I'm so tired from nursing all day and running after children that I'm getting to the gym like, 3 times a week. I'm incredibly hormonal and I'm about as mature as my toddlers anymore.

And my hair is falling out. I mean, it's REALLY falling out.

My hair is about 20 inches from root to tip. It's incredibly soft, always perfectly straight. When I'm pregnant it gets so thick I can't get a brush through it. When I hit about 10 weeks postpartum, I lose it in handfuls. I wish that were an exaggeration. If it's down, there's hair falling everywhere. When I take my messy bun out, I usually throw away about 4 handfuls of hair before I get so frustrated that I put it back up. I love wearing my hair down, but it looks like I have at least another month of extreme hair loss, Claire edition. It's so gross. I'm trying to avoid brushing it, as it just seems to aggravate it. The problem is that my scalp is so sore from wearing it up that my skin is just burning and my head just throbs after a few days of ponytails and messy buns. But if I wear it down, there's hair absolutely everywhere. After Molly, my mother-in-law saw how much I was losing and told me to see a doctor. I'm pretty sure it's even worse this time, and my hair is still incredibly thick. I'd cut it, but it's taken so long to get it to this length and it's so healthy right now. Well, except for the fact that it's all falling out.

Mama Lion

It's funny the way a mama holds her baby. In ways you'd find appalling if you saw someone else doing it, you tote them around like a sack of potatoes. It reminds me of when mama lions pick their babies up by the head. Not that I pick my children up by the head, but it just sort of shows you how sure a mama's arms are.

I always think about this when I'm sleeping with Claire. She'll nurse on the right side, with my body pressing her left arm into the mattress. (I mean, where else is it going to go?) When she wakes up a few hours later and it's time to switch sides, I put my left hand around her middle and roll, and she just rides right over to the left side, never waking up or making a noise. The mama and baby dance is so beautiful. I love babywearing for this same reason. Keeping Claire in a wrap or a sling feels natural because we're still one biological system, she and I. I carry her mindlessly, her little body riding backwards on my forearm and her leg in my hand.

The same way Mo melts into me on the couch and the way Lucy leans into my leg, Claire has found her place slung over my arm as she learns how things work around here. Always watching and observing, sometimes sleeping right in the middle of the chaos, she breathes against me as I go about my day. Everytime I look down, she has a toothless smile for Mama. I can't imagine how amazing it is to love Mama at that age. I am truly everything to her, and it feels so right. When I come back into her view, she's excited and relieved. When her hot little face is sleeping under my arm, she's safe and at peace. All she knows is that where Mama is, there is happiness and refuge. Being needed like that is like no feeling in the world.

That was Andrew. I am still formulating my political views. Stay tuned.

11 August 2011

Driving me nuts...ugh. Come on Repuuuuuublicans!

Watching this crazy debate tonight. Don't know if I'd vote for them or Dem or Independent or not at all (hate if I have to do that).Ugh.

Herman Cain is cracking me up and he's doing surprisingly well (?!?). Bachmann & Pawlenty now both look dumb. She had an opportunity to hang Pawlenty by graciously staying quiet but she attacked and looked dumb.

The word "job" does not appear in the Constitution.
The word "job" does not appear in the Articles of Confederation.
The word "job" does not appear in the Bill of Rights.

[confession: courtesy of "ctrl+F" on the above linked sites]

The only 'jobs' that a President can create are 'federal' jobs... and trust me. THAT ain't good for America. Jobs are created by companies in a free market...

Sigh, interruption. Pawlenty/Bachmann creating more stupidity. Actually getting boo'd at this point. lol. this party is ridiculously immature. sigh... what happened. Please help us Rick Perry.

Romney says "idear" for "idea". I don't like him for a lot of reasons but that's just one more :-)
Ron Paul is a smart dude. Bit crazy. Most definitely but still the smartest guy on the stage. Santorum just ran off on some tangent about polygomy and the country being founded on moral values... hmm... maybe he just dropped some crazy words in there because he's not getting an air time :-P

Newt is a smart guy but he's got a attitude that just frustrates the bejeezus out of me. And, he always says "When I was speaker..." blah blah blah. AND, if you can't take a little heat from some Fox News guys that you speak to almost weekly... how are you going to handle the diverse issues of our entire nation today???

ROFL... no leaders in Iowa tonight. Are there any leaders in politics today? America today? Holy cow. I think that Pawlenty just quoted "Spiderman" in his closing speech. Yikes.

The only people happy with tonight's debate? Obama and Rick Perry. Oh, and maybe Donald Trump too :-)

First clouds...

...since May 24th. How long I've waited to smell rain in the air!!

Lunchtime, y'all.

I love lunch. I love "doing" lunch, making lunch, prolonging lunch, enjoying lunch, chatting over lunch, cleaning up from lunch, planning lunch, inviting people over for lunch, laughing over lunch, meeting for lunch, all things lunch.

My lunch-love is deep-seated. Grandma Susie was a big luncher. She prepared the best, best, best lunches. She made sure that when she did have to eat without Grandpa, he had a fantastic lunch with a big sandwich, chips, fruit and homemade cookies. Her sandwiches were stellar. She used the very best bread, fresh and bright lettuce, juicy beefsteak tomatoes, deli meat (never in a plastic box), Tillamook cheese and French's mustard. She cut them in half lengthwise, never diagonal. She always wrapped them in wax paper and sent them in the truck in a brrown paper bag. I remember that when Grandpa worked in the heat, he took them in a lunchbox, but the heat is infrequent in Port Angeles.

When Nina and I were over, we'd always have something light and ladylike, and we sat at the table and chatted for ages. "All things in moderation," she'd say, which meant, "Eat whatever you want, but not too much."

In the summers we'd take our lunch outside to the picnic table, usually cheese and crackers with cottage cheese, grapes, apples or pears. Grandma was a big cheese and crackers fan. She always had the same cheese, the same crackers, the same cottage cheese. I loved being with Grandma and Grandpa because it was one part of my life that was completely constant, even down to the cheese. Now that she's gone, I know Grandpa is still buying the same cheese, the same crackers, the same cottage cheese. Comfort food is what gets us through.

When this weather breaks, the first thing I want to buy is a picnic table. I can't wait to show the girls how to live life outdoors, like Grandma and Grandpa taught me. A romance with the outdoors is romance that never dies, and gets more passionate with age. The anticipation of spending our fall, winter and spring outside on our sweet piece of land makes this summer seem to stretch so much longer. I need the heat to break, because I need to open these windows and let these girls run. I need to spent the day outside on a blanket and finish a book while my Smallest of the Small Ones eats leaves next to me. I need to see bare feet again, and feel a cool breeze. I need to see the girls building their "house" in the trees. I need to strip the baby down to her diaper and let her roll around on the grass. I need to see dirty feet climbing into bed at night, too tired to even take a bath. I need to hear Grandma tell me, "This too shall pass." This summer may break me yet, waiting to feel that cool breeze again.

How this post went from sandwiches to moaning about the heat, I have no idea. All I know is that my sandwich is fantastic, the heat is killing me, and I'd give my right arm for one more lunch with Grandma Susie.

So. Darn. Sweet.

07 August 2011

whoa rattler!

While I was hanging a polite "do not tee off in our yard and foot-retrieval only" sign on the corner of our lot facing the course, I heard a rattle. A very distinct rattle. Boy, you can watch documentaries on TV about snakes/etc but until you hear a texas rattler in the wild, you never know how you're going to react.

Thinking back to Psych 101 "fight or flight", I RAN ! 'Flight' accurately describes how quick I ran across the yard and back into the house. I came inside and told Laura. Lucy grabs her plastic driver golf club and she says "Maybe this will help you get the snake away".

Oh boy... time to re-visit the 'Stay Away From Snakes' lesson. Quick.

05 August 2011

Summertime...and the living is a lot of work.

So we bought a house with a nasty, dirty popcorn ceiling, mint green paint and brass hell-bent on keeping this house in the 70's. The track lighting, however, brought it from 1977 to 1989 - bonus! The day we moved in we had Mr. Joe out to see the house and schedule a day to paint it for us. He told us that painting the popcorn ceiling would be no trouble at all. Well, that turned out to be less than true as I started googling this whole popcorn business. Once the plumbing exploded and we realized we ought to save our $1500 for things like flushing toilets, it was an easy decision to paint it ourselves. "And why not just do the ceilings while we're at it?" we asked. Why not, indeed...
Here is the living/dining area "before." Unloved, thrown together, mint green. Yack.


All-in-all, something of a disaster. So we threw sheets over the furniture and decided to give it a go. Luckily, we had already scraped the ceilings in the breezeway and the kitchen. (Calm yourself - you'll see them when they're closer to presentable. I know, I know, now you feel left out, don't you?)

We started staring at gray paint samples a week or so before the scraping started. THAT was tough. I really liked the bottom right, but agreed it was too dark for such big walls. Nina liked the top right, but it was too purply. No one liked the bottom left. It was too "eh" and cold. Everyone liked the top left, mostly because it was called "Elephant Skin." That's hardcore. Nobody messes with elephant skin. We actually brought in two more after this picture was taken and decided on Ashlar Gray (Valspar) for the longest walls and next to the fireplace, and Elephant Skin (Behr Ultra Premium) for one wall in the breezeway and the big wall at the end of the living/dining. You'll see the dining room later. The big wall is still green. We're having a hard time letting go.

So we picked a random night, grabbed our putty knives and razor blades and got moving. I really had no choice but to deal with my fear of ladders - you can see me in the background, and I guarantee my belly was turning over and over. Ugh.

Here is the thing about scraping popcorn ceilings. Once you've made sure they're not asbestos, (google "EPA testing labs" in your area!) all you really need to do is prepare mentally. With two small running children and a breastfeeding baby, the amount of plaster seemed to multiply itself. We had little plaster-dust footprints through the entire house. We're still finding dust in corners. It doesn't matter what you mask off or how much you clean. It's everywhere. The most important tip in remodeling with young children about is to just "let it go." We covered what we could and just prepared to have the messiest, dustiest house in the county. And it was. Now that it's all over, I suggest renting a shop vac or borrowing one from your dad. It'll make a world of difference in the cleanup.

Claire spent plenty of time in her swing, watching us scrape and whimpering for an inhaler. When we put her to bed on this night, we were so itching to scrape that we forgot to move the swing. It reminds me of Silent Hill. Creepy.

Oh, the plaster...we filled trash bag after trash bag, and it seemed like it would just never go away. What's sad is that in the entire ceiling refinishing process, scraping the ceiling was actually the fun part, and that was torture. So...yeah.

Here is Andrew giving the "Molly thumbs-up," as you'll see in a minute. She's cute, but she has no idea which finger is which.

We put the girls to work doing all sorts of things. Lucy loved sweeping - she felt like such a big girl!

Molly carried her little brush around and climbed on whatever she could find. She's so cute that we really had no choice but to let her run the show.

We were really very lucky that we didn't have more surprises once we got under the plaster. We had a few problems in the kitchen, but our logic was that whoever did the living room would have been able to use full sheets of drywall and would have had fewer opportunities to screw up the joints and seams. Our logic was mostly correct, save for a little water damage in the corner and what looked like a wiring patch. You can also see the track light wiring in this picture, along with the ceiling fan wiring. I think we're going to ditch the track lighting and refinish the ceiling fans. We will probably do the fans this weekend, so stay tuned!

I know, I know...who would cover up a green like that?? You can see a peek at our Elephant Skin here, as it starts on this wall and extends down the hallway. It's just gorgeous. Well, we expect it to be once we paint up to the ceiling.

The only real problem we had in the living/dining area was that the house had shifted since the seam between the ceiling and the wall were taped, and the tape was looking a little wonky. So we pulled all the tape off and taught ourselves how to use joint compound and drywall tape! And wouldn't you know, Andrew rocked it like he was born wearing a toolbelt. My incredibly skilled hunka-hunka-burnin'-love.

Here we are alllllmost ready to paint! We were itching to get down off that ladder and do anything but scrape and sand. The first thing we had to do was prime all of the now-bare drywall, which is a must when you're going to paint, as drywall will seriously suck in your paint and turn to mush if you don't prime. (My Home Depot 1-2-3 book taught me that. Thanks Mom and Tim! I am ashamed to say that I read the 1-2-3 book more than I read the Bible.)

And the priming begins. Back-breaking, thankless painting. Ugh.

I'm fairly certain that our necks will never be the same. (And look at that Elephant Skin! Doesn't it look just like an elephant's leg???)

Mmmm...drywall dust and tacos from Rosa's!

Here's a small taste of what we were looking at and walking through for almost two weeks. Gag.

We estimate that we spent almost 30 hours scraping, sanding, puttying, sanding, sweeping, priming, painting, vacuuming and grumbling before we could really say we were "done" with the tough work. We still have to do some small touch-ups and paint all of the trim, and the dining room is barely touched at this point, but here's a look at the nearly-done living area. We're so in love with the paint choices and our incredibly smooth ceiling! Talk about 30 hours very well-spent!

We have yet to rehang the lighting, as we need to paint the fans and flip the blades. We hope to get that done this weekend, but we're taking it slow from here on out. We're both a little pooped from all of the painting, so we're taking a little break before we hit the dining room or start on the trim.

We're eventually going to cut away the front of this cabinet and just have a floor to ceiling bookcase here. We like the built in, but the cabinet has GOT to go. It'll also be refinished in an antique white to brighten up the room a tad.

These aren't the curtains that we're planning on keeping in here, and I'd like to sew something a little more unique, but they were hanging in Claire's room and we REALLY needed to block the morning sun, as it's been about 110 degrees every day. They'll do for now. They don't look bad, but I'd like something with some metallic in them to really help the room sizzle a little more. It's cabiny and cute now, but I know adding the right textiles can bring it up a little more.

Claire seems to approve, and that's really all that matters to us!

We still have to hang stuff on the walls and we need an 8x11 rug for the living area, but we're getting there!