Saturday, May 30, 2015

Kitchen Remodeling Progress at 3-Week Mark

We started remodeling our kitchen two weeks ago. At the time I posted, we had only taken out one upper and one base cabinet.  (Note the use of the term "we" which I use liberally. I mean it a couple of ways:

1.  "We" are the doing the work ourselves.
2.  "We" always means hubby, and sometimes includes a couple of our sons and me. My main job is to keep 911 on speed dial supervise, sweep up, steady a chair that my long-legged honey uses occasionally, be the go-fer to Home Depot or Lowe's,  and take pictures. If I didn't take pictures, no one would.

Day 1: Saturday, May 9  First set of cabinets are removed. Pictures are here.
Day 2: Saturday, May 16 First set of cabinets are installed.  It took two sons' help to get the upper cabinets and pantry secured.

Some people have asked about the cabinets themselves.

Brand: Thomasville
Wood:  Maple
Color: Fox
Style: Plaza Square
From: Home Depot

Our older son came over for four hours to lend a helping hand. Here you see him patiently holding the cabinet up. (You don't see the wall brace but it's there.) Youngest son decided to get goofy when I told him to put his hand up there to help, too.)

The pantry goes in. So far it's my favorite thing!   (I hate the ceiling that was here when we bought the house in '99.  We are not going to redo it. I don't know who in the 1980s thought that was a good look.)

Anyway, I just love the maple wood pantry and the man putting it in for me.

Ta-da! The walls cabinets and one base cabinet are in. The lighting isn't so good, and the missing drawer is on backorder, but hallelujah, it's a good start.

Day 3: Saturday, May 23 and Monday, May 25  (We don't work on Sundays; it's our day of rest.)

Second wall of upper cabinets goes up.  This time, when I say "we" did the work, I mean I helped hold the cabinets up with Youngest while my hottie handyman secured them in place.

Third  and final wall of cabinets goes up very easily.

Seeing this picture makes me remember the time when I was about 12 and my younger sister was about 10. She was supposed to be cleaning her room, but an hour into it, it looked worse than when
she started.  Mama asked, "Honey, are you making progress? All I see is a mess. "  To which my sister replied. "Yep! Progress always makes a mess."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Noisy Hodgepodge

1.  Did you do anything 'memorable' this past weekend?

Yes. I nearly had a nervous breakdown on Saturday as my honey and sons began installing the upper kitchen cabinets.  Being a foreman on a remodeling job is not the kind of stress I can handle. I'm actually NOT the foreman; I'm just the debris manager who never stops wearing the mama hat.  I hold the broom with one hand and the phone with the other, with the 9-1 of 9-1-1 already dialed.

Circular saws, nail guns, heavy cabinets hoisted overhead, shoelaces untied, potential dehydration, sawdust in the eyes...I thought of every occupational hazard.

But, come Monday, when I was the helper, I was more calm. By the end of the weekend, all of the upper cabinets were in place. 

2. Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying-

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."  

Your thoughts? Do you somehow acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms you enjoy? Did your upbringing contribute to that sense of appreciation? If you're a parent, are there specific things you do to pass on this sense of responsibility and appreciation to your own children in regard to the freedoms they enjoy?

Ronald Reagan was one of the best presidents ever. Certainly one of the most eloquent since our founding fathers. I agree with his quote; freedom is not in our bloodstream. The very fact that we as Americans take it for granted like it's running water, says something of the DNA-like attitude toward freedom that we have enjoyed. I grew up with a profound sense of patriotism, but it was not until I visited Russia in 2007 that I understood and truly appreciated the freedoms we have here .As one of my Israeli friends said when I asked her about America, "You can FEEL the freedom here. People are happy, they hold their heads up, they smile, they come and go as they please from state to state."  

As a parent, I've tried to instill patriotism through thankfulness for it, by attending parades, by thanking soldiers in public whenever I can in front of my children. I fly the flag at home.  I've sent care packages to soldiers overseas who are in harm's way, to say, "We're thinking of you, praying for you, grateful for your service."

3. Loudest noise you've ever heard?

A 200-foot tree falling to the ground behind our house. We had it cut down because it was dead and threatening to fall during every storm. 

 I was only prepared for the loud sound of chain saws. But wow! The giant "VOOM!" of that oak hitting the floor shocked me. 

4. What was the last thing you ate that might be considered 'junk food'? Did you enjoy it?

Hot McDonald's fries yesterday. Yes, I sure did enjoy them.

5. When was the last time you were somewhere the crowd felt 'packed in like sardines'?

On May 15th our school's annual music and art show drew quite the crowd. The art is displayed on the hall walls, and the halls are narrow--or at least feel that way when you're elbow-to-elbow with other gawking parents and grandparents and a gazillion kids.

6. Are you organized when it comes to packing for a trip? Do you make a list weeks in advance or toss items in last minute? Are you a carry-on only sort of packer or do you need an entire suitcase for your shoes?

I'm organized, but I don't make a list weeks in advance. Maybe two days in advance. I am neither a conservative packer nor a shoestore packer. I guess I'm moderate. My honey would disagree. When we pack together in one big suitcase, you see the 80/20 split on full display. 

7. What was the last sporting event you attended in person? Did your team win? Did you care?

An Orioles game a few years ago when my brother-in-law was in Baltimore.  I don't remember whether we won or lost, but it sure was fun having the gang together  and hearing the roar of 30,000 fans on a beautiful night in Camden Yards. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Please add a 38-year-old woman named Alice to your prayer list. I just found out about her in Bible study yesterday. She has Stage 4 breast cancer which has gone to her brain and  is in her lungs.  Her only family in the States are her husband, eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old son.  She is dying, her husband is in denial, and her children have limited understanding of what's happening to their mommy. 

They are Christians so she has hope of eternal life with Jesus, but she absolutely does not want to leave her children. She needs a miracle. 

Our Bible study ladies are rallying g to make food that this Nigerian family would enjoy. Alice, as self-conscious as she is about being bald and too sick to be much of a hostess, has agreed to let me come deliver the food on Friday. Please pray for a miracle. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Simple Yet Complicated Hodgepodge

On first glance, this week's questions look easy, but they took me a little time to think about. 

Thanks, Joyce, for not letting my thinker get too dull between Hump Days.

1.  Did you make someone laugh yesterday? Was it intentional?

I did make someone laugh yesterday--my friend Sally  (hi, Sally!)--and it was in an email. (Judging from her "hahahaha" I'm thinking she laughed for real.)  I was telling her how our kitchen remodel has started but that chaos was reigning. I said something about looking for my keys between a circular saw and a box of Cheez-its. 

It was intentional in that I have to keep my sense of humor in the midst of the remodel or my mind will go AWOL. 

2. What's a simple question with a complicated answer?  

"What's for dinner?"  Sometimes thinking about it is just way too complicated.  What meat? What side? What veggie? What time is it? Oh, it's 5:25  already? What's Domino's number? Do I feel like putting on my shoes to go pick up the pizza,  or do I want to pay the tip to have it delivered? How lazy/tired/unprepared/out of sorts/fill-in-the-blank  am I right now that I haven't thought about dinner till this second and honestly I would just be okay with oatmeal, wouldn't you, honey? Oh, you were thinking meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Hmm, well, that poses a bit of a problem, namely that I have neither meat nor potatoes, just the loaf pan.  I know it's a simple meal, but simple is the new complicated.   

3. Rhododendrons or have to choose. Are either currently blooming in your yard?

Rhodos.    Here is one of two that are blooming in my yard. This one reminds me of my oldest son's engagement day on May 21, four years ago. After he proposed at a quiet spot next to a nearby river, they came back to the house and her twin sister took pictures of her dazzling diamond ring on a petal of this rhododendron in front of the house. 

4. May 21st is National Waitstaff Day. Have you ever worked as a waiter/waitress? How would you rate the experience? What was the best/worst part of the job?

Yes. My first real job was waiting tables at Woolworth's. I also waited tables in restaurants and hotels during college.  I gained invaluable experience learning how to deal with a finicky, demanding public, how to economize your steps ,how to make some pretty garnishes, how to serve wedding banquets, how to suck up to bosses, how to deal with false accusations, how deceitful people can be, how to serve a big family and keep the littles happy which keeps the bigs happy, and so on. Best part of the job? Generous tips.  Worst part? Bustin' my can for picky guests who then leave a quarter for a tip. Or a table of four ladies who EACH leave a quarter. 

5. What fashion trend for women should be outlawed? How about one for men?

For women: leggings as pants.  I don't care if you are wearing a long tunic over them, they are big girl tights, not pants. If you over the age of six, it's time for pants, honey. 

For men--I really despise big bushy beards.  They just look nasty. And I just heard there was a study done on the bacteria in men's beards. Guess what is found more often than any other contaminant? Fecal matter! 

Now, how do I segue into the next question?

6. Name a writer who inspires tell us why.

My dad. Because he is genuine, thoughtful, funny, eloquent--and has never had a beard!

7. What well known quote or saying sums up your plans for today or this week?

The devil is in the details. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

We got some good news and bad news this week.  The good news is, we bought a house! The bank accepted our offer and agreed to our settlement date. 

The bad news is, my mom found out from a CT scan that two-thirds of her liver is dead, and she also has an inoperable hernia at this time.  The good news is, there is medication to help reduce the fluid build-up in her abdomen caused by liver damage, and the other good news is that the doctor confirmed what I advised them on Sunday: do not go through with your move. It's too stressful. I'd appreciate your prayers for my sweet mama  and my daddy. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

House A, House B, and Day 1 of Kitchen Remodel Begins

Warning: long post, picture-heavy. Refill your coffee mug or iced tea now. 

Just an update on the house-hunting situation. (Remember this is for a rental property,  so we aren't under pressure to sell, but one of our sons and his wife will be our first tenants and they must be out of their current place on June 30.)

So far we found two real contenders: House A and House B.   (Not to be confused with the Mexican fireman's twin sons, Jose' and Hose B.)

For my own reference (because it will be good for me to look back on this time of new adventure someday and remember the details that God orchestrated), here is a timeline thus far:

April 18:  Decided House A is the one to pursue. Get excited.   But don't want to rush in to this too quickly.

April 22: Find out House A is under contract. We're disappointed but okay with the news.  I sensed God saying to me,  "Don't worry. This one will come back to you."

Sometimes it's hard to tell if it's God speaking or your own optimism.  Sometimes in my life, His voice has been unmistakable and practically audible. This was not one of those times, but there was a peaceful, hopeful sense that I got that something would fall through with the other buyer's contract. (That sounds bad on paper, but I truly meant them no ill will.)  Things happen. "This isn't our first merry-go-round," said a sweet daughter who sometimes gets her cliches humorously mixed up.

May 6th: Put in contract on House B after falling in love with it and being told there's no other interest in it.  (Ironically, House B really was listed by a guy named Jose'.  I'm totally serious.  I'm not pulling your nose. )

May 7th:  Find out there are multiple offers on it. Whaaaat? We thought you said there'd been no other interest.  Were you pulling my arm? My leg? Something?

May 8th:  Put in counter-offer .  Sit back, pray .Pray hard all weekend .

May 11, 12 Wait, wait.

May 13--Receive cabinets. Boy, oh, boy, I thought it was going to be my undoing administratively, but the delivery guys (two young brothers, strong as oxen) made it easy. Each box number matches a line number on the Packing List. Great labeling. Getting the pantry and lazy Susan through the front door reminded me of working a 2-ton Rubik's cube. But they did it.

I have the proof all over three rooms of my house:
                                              I had to open one to make sure they had the right 
                                                                                style and color. Yup!



May 14:  9:15 AM.  I go to the lake to pray and worship and listen to God. Ask Him to give an answer today, and I choose to be content with a "no" even though I want a "yes" on House B  listed by Jose'.  Come home and start dejunking the cabinet that will get removed first in our remodel. Work while you wait. Whistle while you work.

 May 14, 10:43 AM   Answer  comes about  House B: our contract was rejected.   I am disappointed yet thankful for an answer.

May 14:  11:30AM  Find out House A is back on the market! Same day, same hour? Yes!  Something made the buyer's contract fall through. I am so tickled (for us).   I would say hubby is tickled, too, but that doesn't sound very manly.

May 15:  2:00 PM  See House A again .   At 4:30, submit our offer.  Then more waiting, more praying.

May 16:    7:00 PM  Son and I go to school music  and art show (son is not performing and there is so very little artwork because of all the snow days in the first semester ) so no need for hubby to attend)
I did snap a couple photos of my favorite artwork by second graders.  People, these Dr. Seuss drawings were done with Sharpies by second graders!

While we were at the show,  my Hottie Handyman, aka Hardworking Hubby,  took out the first two cabinets!

It's not pretty, but can I say, this start has made me one happy girl! 
I've been dreaming of a kitchen remodel for 16 years and it's finally happening. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Short--"Way Too Short"-- Hodgepodge

I'm not sure how she does it, but Joyce keeps on churning out good questions week after week. 
My kitchen cabinets are coming this morning (sweet!)  so my answers will be short.  (Are you saying, "Sweet!" about that?)

1. When is your next big deadline? What's it for? 

Big deadline? FINDING and settling on a house before the end of June.  Well, we found the house we want and are on the proverbial 'pins and needles" waiting for the call. Apparently a bidding war ensued the minute we put in our contract. And it's a Fannie Mae sale so everything is slllllloooooower than with a standard sale. But our kids have to be out of their apartment by June 30 and they are our first tenants!

2. May is National Barbecue Month  Do you prefer cooking indoors or out? What's the best thing about a barbecue? What was the last thing you cooked on an outdoor grill?

I prefer cooking in or having my hubby cook out.  Best thing about a barbecue? The smell. Last thing we cooked on the grill? Hmm, probably burgers and hotdogs last summer. 

3. What is one thing on your 'never again' list?

I'll never again let a gay guy cut my hair. Did that one time when I had a  14-month old son and a 3-week old baby and was desperate for change and for someone to play with my hair because I felt ugly and needed pampering. He turned me away from the mirror so I'd be surprised later. He kept using words like "volume" and "lift" and "fabulous" --all good, right?  No! He cut out all the curl, shaved the neck up part of the back of my head, and exposed my ears way too much. I had stubbles in the back along my neck and looked absolutely butch.  I cried and cried on the drive home . My husband couldn't touch my head or hair  for five weeks.  Never again.

4. What's something that annoys you about people your age? Something you love about your generation?

Annoys me about people my age? Hmm. I've given this one some thought.  I think it's how many middle age parents haven't prepared their kids mentally, emotionally, spiritually  or practically to leave the nest to stand on their own. Boomerang kids are products of parents who can't or won't let go for the good of their marriage or the good of their young adult kids.

Something I love? Most of us try to embrace and understand technology.  "Try"  is the operative word.

5. Lilac, iris, hyacinth, pansy...your favorite purple flower?

I've always said as long as I have a garden, it will have purple flowers. I like all of those flowers, but lilacs transport me back on a whiff to my glorious childhood home in Kansas. So lilacs win. 

6. Whats a song that always calms you down?

Jesus Loves Me
this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong, 
They are weak but He is strong. 

7. What's the last thing you donated?

Money to a needy family.

8. Insert your own random thought here.   

I'm so nervous about these kitchen cabinets being delivered. I hate all things related to accounting, and the pressure to do inventory while the delivery guys are here.  But at the same time, this is the first step to a 16-year dream coming true. Can I just pull a poncho over my head and say 'it's all there" and "oh how pretty!" and "just put those there, thanks?"

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook, 5.09.15

Tomorrow will be a cool date,won't it?  5-10-15?

I'm linking up with the Simple Woman. I was awake before six this morning, the house is quiet, I have a smattering of scattered thoughts in my head, so the Daybook meme beckons me .


Outside my window... fresh cut grass, thick green trees, overcast skies and light rain, some birds singing, and a rusted patio set that's headed for the dump. 

I am thinking...

of how happy we'll be to get a call from the realtor that says ," They accepted your offer! You got the house!" or my extreme disappointment if she says, "I'm really sorry. Another offer came in that was better than yours."   When we put our offer in, it was low because the listing agent had told our agent there'd been no other interest in the house. (A week ago.)  But after submitting our lowball offer, we heard back that there are multiple offers, so put in your "best offer." 

I am thankful...

for my wise, smart, cautious husband. I have such trust in him regarding big financial decisions, and that he listens to God for direction and wisdom.

In the kitchen...

ugly cabinets that will be replaced this summer. New ones are being delivered Wednesday, but we will probably wait till school's out to start demo.  I am so NOT looking forward to the mess and chaos that I know from experience comes with a kitchen remodel, but I AM looking forward to the results.  

I am wearing...

A black bathing suit cover-up that doubles as a nightie. 

 I am creating...

very little, unless you count creating space by dejunking.  I have not sewn in weeks, haven't painted in a year, haven't made a fancy recipe for a while, haven't written any prose or poetry that I'd call "creative." 

I am going...

to a "pre-interview" for an art teaching position next week. 

I am wondering...

Will we get the house?  (Yes. it's consuming my mind.  If so, it will be our first rental property and a place for our first (and beloved) tenants (son and DIL) to call home.  They love the house and are praying we get it it . 

I am reading... 

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet ( because I love stories set in WWII).
I am hoping...

my parents make the right decision regarding moving vs. staying put. My mom has a hernia and may need surgery. Can you imagine being in your 70s, packing a house up with your 80 year old husband and moving to an apartment while your house sells (because they need it painted throughout and they can't stand the drop-of-a-hat notice of showings). 

I am looking forward to...

the next time I get to keep my little niece for the day. I got to have her earlier this week and loved every minute of it.  She LOVES dogs and we have a big golden retriever whose crate was empty while I had him outside during her stay (he's rambunctious). While I was fixing her lunch, she crawled into the dog's crate, pulled the door shut and said, "Woof! Woof!" Gosh, it was so cute. I wish I'd had my camera. 

I am learning...

a lot about how bank-owned property sales work (vs. the standard sale we've always dealt with as buyers and sellers).   In a word, REO deals move slllloooowwly. Agents aren't typically as responsive. "As is" is the key word.  Dealing with a bank is all business on their part, no emotion. So no risk of offending a seller. 

Around the house...

is evidence that I've had a stomach bug and unable to put things in order like I enjoy doing on Friday morning. 

 I am pondering...

how my sisters are faring in their trek from Arizona to Kentucky with 3 horses, 1 donkey, 2 dogs and 3 cats in tow.  My younger sister had to retrieve them and her belongings as part of her divorce this week. My older sister is helping her drive the U-Haul which has a horse trailer in tow--altogether as long as an 18-wheeler.  

 A favorite quote for today...

"Need more cowbell!" 

 One of my favorite things...

Watching a teenage son cut the grass. 
A few plans for the rest of the week:

Whew!  After today's carpet cleaning/dump run, a low-key Mother's Day  tomorrow (since, as a mother-in-law, I have to share my sons); Monday--volunteer to prep artwork for the school art show;  Tuesday--Bible study; Wednesday--receive cabinet delivery;  Thursday--job interview; Friday-- tutor and then attend art and music show; shore up vacation plans to Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee!

 A peek into my day...

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A Post-Riot Hodgepodge Post

 I live an hour north of Baltimore and the riots were all-consuming last week. The Hodgepodge was on spring break, not that I had time for it anyway.  My second son works downtown, and was sent home early or told to work from home a couple times.  When he returned, he posted to Facebook a photo from his office window. It was a photo  of  National Guard troops positioned on the street below. "Not something you see every day." 

 I may or may not get around to putting my thoughts and observations and feelings about all the dark and light stuff I witnessed last week.  Sometimes it's just easier to talk about the trivial stuff than to find words for the heavy stuff. There was so much incredible beauty in the midst of the ugliness that the national media didn't show, and for that reason alone I'd love to share with my blog readers my perspective as a Marylander.

For now though, we'll lighten up: 

1. What's a phrase your mother often said to you? If you're a parent, is this something you now say to your own children?

"Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it." 

2. What is a scent you associate with your mother or your childhood home?

New books. My mother is a bibliophile extraordinaire. Her favorite thing is to buy a new book and come home, open it in her lap in the middle, and gently take a few pages at a time and press them open. "You want to be gentle on the spine," she'd say, "not forcing the book open." Then she'd hold it to her nose and say, "Aaah!" She loves the smell of new books, and so do I--because of her.  I can almost feel the adrenaline rush now as I think of her excitement over new books. 

3. What's an activity you remember always doing with your mother (or someone who was a mother figure in your life)?

I can't think of anything we "always" did together, but my mom has always shown, by example, how to care for those in need. She was a foster mom for 11 months to 3 children while mothering 3 of her own (all six ranging in age from 3-9).  She taught an illiterate man to read when his wife died because his five year old kept wanting him to read to her the way Mommy used to.  

My mom loved to help foreigners learn English.  I recall her at the dining room table tutoring Chinese students in English to help them  communicate  with customers in their restaurant. She provided refuge in our home to a woman whose abusive husband was threatening her and her children's lives.  She took a wayward teenage girl on vacation with us one summer. She was always the one giving rides to people who didn't have a car,  or trimming their hair when they couldn't afford a new 'do, packing up clothes for migrant workers--carefully washing and folding the clothes first and saying "don't give to anyone what you wouldn't want for yourself" (in terms of quality). She has, as a business partner with Daddy,  provided low-income housing for college students, helped moms with new babies adjust emotionally and practically, offered nursing assistance  and a listening ear to the elderly, supported foreign missionaries, hired an  intellectually disabled housekeeper.  The list goes on and on. Her experience with poverty and pain growing up compelled her to help relieve the suffering of others.   

I guess in the sense that there were "always" needy people to care for, she brought me alongside in comforting roles.

4. Flared jeans, maxi dresses, and jumpsuits are 70's fashion trends back this spring. Are you on board? Which trend would you be most inclined to try? For the men...flared corduroys, wide-collared shirts, and floral prints...what say you? 

Maxi dresses? I'm too short and wide to look good in a maxi dress. I'd look like a round table covered in a floor-length tablecloth. 

Flare jeans? Eh maybe. 
 Jumpsuit? No way, Jose'. 

5. May 6th is Teacher Appreciation Day and also Nurse Appreciation Day. Is there a nurse or teacher  you have especially appreciated along the way? Tell us why?

My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Vi Grose, has always been my favorite. Her compassion and sense of humor, her love for students and animals, her ornery streak, the way she'd read Old Yeller and start crying.    She is 94 years old (I think) and I just visited her in Kansas last fall. 

 I also had a 7th grade history teacher named Mr. McKnight who made me love American history--which I grew up to teach later in life!  A high school English and French teacher taught me the rigors of grammar and inspired my creative writing.  A college literature professor, Sister Ann, taught us to study the authors' lives so that we could invite four of them to dinner and have a great time together. (Some authors would never get along; she'd help us think through our guest list based on their philosophies and personalities.)

6. If I came by your house, what would I find on your frig door?

Fingerprints on the front. Calendar, essential notes and snarky magnets on the side. 

7. Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana made her royal entrance on Saturday, May 2nd. On a scale of 1-10, how much attention did you give to all the news coverage? 1=Who's Charlotte? 10=sat glued to the telly, cuppa in hand.

I'd say 7.  And yes, I love her name. So classy and feminine, just like a royal lady should be. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

We found a house on Sunday to be our first rental property of our newly-launching business! We put in an offer yesterday and are eagerly waiting for their acceptance!
If it works out, our tenants (son and DIL) will move in by the end of June!