Friday, March 25, 2016

Nasty guy!

So we are not fans of Trump. At all. I'll just leave it there.

On the way home from some family errands last weekend, Brian and I were bickering a bit and then, forgetting about it, started joking with each other. Brian, mocking Trump, said to me, "You're just a nasty guy!"

Will picked that right up. Out of the blue from the back seat we heard, "Dad, you're a nasty guy!" We died laughing, which of course bolstered him. He said it again and even though we knew it was bad, we laughed again! Finally Brian explained that it was supposed to be a joke. He said, "William, if you call Daddy a nasty guy, you have to laugh so that everybody knows you're joking."

That night, as I was changing Neva in the bedroom, I heard them joking around in the bathroom, calling each other "nasty guys" again. When they came into the bedroom, William asked to whisper into my ear. It was clear Brian had put him up to something. He whispered into my ear, "You are a beautiful mommy!" Then immediately he ran back to Brian and whispered into his ear, "You're a nasty guy!" Turns out Brian had put him up to whisper into my ear that I was a nasty guy, but William turned the tables on him all on his own!

Last night William said it again, and laughed right after, as instructed, and I wish I could have captured his cheesy hearty laugh on camera. Then guess who else joined right in? Yup, Barrett. "Nathty guy!" We've got to put a stop to this!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Today I boast.

Okay. I worry so much about what people think. I just can't do that anymore.

This is my blog. Here, I can complain, but I can also boast. I don't know who reads this, and I don't care. I would never want to write this blog for a hundred thousand readers. I write this blog for us. The only regular reader I have is Brian, and that's just the way I like it. So if someone happens to read this and thinks that I am proud or boastful... well, too bad.

So today, I boast. I have a husband who comes home to me right after work. He is an introvert, like me, and he loves to be home. I never have to wonder where he is. He never prefers to spend the night with his buddies. He likes to be with us. We sit down every night as a family and we eat dinner. Sometimes dinner is fried eggs and toast because I didn't make anything special. Does Brian ever complain? Never. Brian helps me put the kids to bed each night. He brushes teeth and put the kids in pajamas and lays on William's bed with the boys and asks them questions about their day. We pray together as a family.

Our kids are great sleepers. When they go to bed, between 8 and 8:30, they stay in bed for ten or eleven hours. The rest of the evening is ours to enjoy. Every night I get this time to recharge. I don't always use it wisely. Many nights I putz around and look at my phone between tidying up and I never really sit down to take a break. But it's my time, and every night I have it.

Brian and I will have been married 10 years this year. More and more he's my best friend. Last night I brought up the topic I was sure he was sick of hearing. But he talked about it again with me, and his support was so comforting. The fact that he even agreed with me was reassuring. I feel so thankful to have him in my corner. This morning I was a jerk to him. I really was. And I didn't even say sorry before walking upstairs to nurse Neva, fully expecting him to be gone by the time I came back downstairs. But as I nursed her, I became mortified by how I had treated him and I prayed that the Lord would give me an opportunity to apologize. She finished up nursing and, as quickly as I could without waking her, I deposited her back into the bassinet and rushed downstairs. I heard the sound of the door closing and I ran outside. He was just about to get into the car and I apologized. He forgave me so graciously. The Lord answered my prayer. I hate being a jerk to somebody I love so much.

I love my kids. I love spending time with them. My favorite thing to do is read them stories, and they love hearing stories. I sit Neva on my lap, leaning her back against my chest, with a boy on each side of me, and we read and read and read. This recharges me.

Brian works so hard to provide for us. I look around at our beautiful home, much of which he has improved with his own hands, and I think to myself how nice it is that I can be a stay-at-home mom, that there are four of us here enjoying this house all day. Brian only gets to enjoy it for a few hours in the evening. What a sacrifice he makes for us.

I love not having a schedule that binds us, no hard-and-fast time we need to be out the door. No pressure to yank the kids out of bed. No rushing at breakfast. We have a loose routine, and many days I shake my head in frustration at myself and berate myself because we don't have a rigid schedule. But I wouldn't change it, not really. We have a routine, some days it's tighter than others, but I'm so grateful for that flexibility. Many days I struggle with guilt that I must work around the house all day and don't spend "enough" time with the kids. But then I think to myself, everyone needs to work around the house. If I were a working mom, I would have to do all of this, but I would have to do it in a few hours of the evenings and on the weekends. Instead, I can spread it throughout the day, taking chunks of time here and there to sit down and play with blocks or race cars or read books.

My kids are good. They can be little stinkers, but they obey me and they listen to me. They are kind to each other. I make them be kind, but I am also seeing how these forced kindnesses ("tell Barrett 'hello'," "no, let him have a turn,") are slowly becoming second nature to them.

I don't spend enough time teaching them about the ways of the Lord. But we talk about the resurrection and the crucifixion. They enjoy talking about these things. We talk about Jesus and we sing Bible verses. And I'm not bragging that we do these things, I am just thankful that despite my busyness and my flaws and my inadequacy, my kids are still learning about the Lord even in a small way.

Neva is a perfect, dream baby. Barrett is barely a month past his second birthday and he is 95% potty trained. William sits and look at books on the floor for hours each day. His imagination is incredible. My kids are not the smartest, the biggest, or the most gifted. But they are good and they are a joy and I could brag on them all day long. So today, I brag on my husband and my kids. I am incredibly fortunate.

Truth be told, I have been in sort of a funk the past couple of months. Many a day goes by that I feel discouraged and scatterbrained and hopeless. I don't know if I will ever be the person I dream of being. But at the same time I feel content. A friend asked me recently what the next thing was that I was looking forward to. I couldn't answer her. There are enjoyable moments ahead, trips and vacations that I am looking forward to, but the truth is that I look forward to each morning. I look forward to nap time. I look forward to reading stories. I look forward to going outside and working in the garden. I love each day.

And that's where I am right now.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


"Barrett, you're nice, but you're kind of a baby monster."

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Today and yesterday and Monday were gloriously warm. We also finally bought another electronic collar for Bo, and we received it Saturday, so for the first time in *forever* I wasn't keeping my eyes peeled on him. We could relax, knowing he'd stick around.

The boys love being outside. They run to the top of the driveway, count to ten (Barrett says, "one, two, three, four, nine, ten GO!") and then race down! Barrett never goes all the way to the top, so Will (who does, and therefore starts way behind) never "wins" but boy he sure doesn't know that yet.

The other day, Will: "Mom, I have a job for you. Can you go up into the guest room and vacuum up the dead ladybugs?"

Barrett is doing fabulously with potty training. Very proud of him. He wears pants now and tells me "pee pee" or "poop"... I now conveniently forget the "eh-em's" (M&Ms) unless I'm reminded 2 or 3 times, so they're weaning off of them.

Neva is starting to drool! Just like Barrett did. She's just the sweetest, by the way. Nothing but pure contentment and joy.

Tonight at bedtime Will told me he was proud of me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Kitchen, almost done!

Here are some pictures! More detailed summary is after the pics. My grandma says Brian must be "an angel, to do all that."

Here is the kitchen, BEFORE. Many of the white tiles were cracked, and the grout was stained and/or difficult to keep clean. The bar top was awkwardly set back. It didn't jut out at all, so you had to lean over quite a bit if you wanted to eat off a plate at the bartop. And the design of the bartop meant that a lot of the countertop below was taken up. The worst part was the faucet and sink! It was badly stained from years of hard water buildup, the faucet was beyond grody, there was no garbage disposal, and the sink was small and the faucet wouldn't stay in place.

Before, 1.

Before, 2.

Before, 3.
Barrett's birthday party day! Bar top and backsplash come off. 
Sunday - kids are too sick for church. Brian starts ripping off the counters.
And they're off!
Monday, Feb. 15 - I have a "new" plywood countertop.
Monday, Feb. 15 - my new gorgeous sink is also installed!
Thursday, Feb. 18 - forms are built, rebar installed. Temp faucet installation has to come out now. (Back to washing dishes in the laundry tub!)
The sink edge is formed with sheet metal, double sided tape, and styrofoam. Feb. 19, Friday night - tomorrow, they pour!
February 20 - Saturday morning, waiting for my dad to come help Brian pour the countertops.
Here's a quick video of them pouring that I took for my aunt.

Sunday morning - Feb. 21. Plastic sheeting has been draped over the top to retain moisture overnight. It's been about 24 hours, forms can come off now.
Brian was very eager to see how the edges had formed. The forms came off quickly, early that morning.
Taking out his homemade sink form. (You can buy a plastic one for about $50, but he made his own.)
Double sided tape around the edge held the sheet metal on. That stuff did not come off easily, let me tell you.
All the forms are off. He's happy with the result!
Monday, Feb. 22 - he sanded all the previous evening (Sunday night). More sanding followed Wed. and Thurs.
Friday, Feb. 26. The countertop has been stained and one coat of sealer has been applied. He's repairing the drywall now.
Friday night, Feb. 26 - reinstalling the faucet (permanently this time). Apparently the holes formed in the concrete for the fixture weren't big enough, so this turned out to be a huge headache for him. 
Saturday night, Feb. 27 - countertop has been sealed a couple more times. The bar top was bought and sanded today, a couple coats of finish applied (won't dry glossy).
March 1 - bar top has been finished and sanded for the last time. The stools are back in place. Most of the switchplates are back and the wall is painted. Backsplash and final switchplate - last item on the list!
UPDATE: Saturday, March 5. The backsplash is done! So notwithstanding a few tiny things that Brian wants to reseal or retighten, etc., we are done! 
Saturday, February 27:
Brian finished (for the most part) the kitchen! We still need switchplates and a backsplash. It's been a long two weeks of having no kitchen and watching the kids by myself, but man it's going to be worth it. He did such a good, good job. He worked so hard. Lots and lots of heavy sanding, lifting, tricky plumbing. Heavy work. I am so thankful for him!

I don't have a before picture, but we had all white tile (many cracked) and the nastiest, stained-est white sink and faucet that no trick could clean. No garbage disposal, which was my only request. (I'll never forget the day we moved into this house, it was so exciting... This has always felt like my dream house even from the beginning. The only feeling of disappointment was standing at the sink for the first time and realizing that the sink looked gross and there was no garbage disposal... two things I'd failed to notice before.) Brian told me he wasn't going to install a disposal without replacing the sink, faucet, and countertops. Well now was the time. 

On the day of Barrett's birthday party, he stripped off the bar top. The bar top was all white tile, too, and unlike typical bar tops it didn't jut out above the counter beneath. The edges were aligned with each other. It made for some awkward leaning when trying to eat at the counter and it essentially took up half my counter space.

Over the next two weeks, he stripped off the rest of the counter and backsplash, removed the sink and faucet, reinforced the cabinetry, added a plywood top, built the concrete forms, installed rebar and control joints, and installed the sink, faucet (temporarily) and disposal. A week ago, with my dad's help, he poured the tops. 

A day later, he stripped the forms before church. After church he sanded for several hours, creating a lot of dust! That was a long day for him, and me! I shamefully admit to grumbling and complaining quite a bit after being "trapped" upstairs with the kids to avoid the dust for a couple of hours. (I had left the house and shopped during their nap time, got back, woke them up, and for the next few hours entertained them in their room, feeding them shelled peanuts and string cheese! I had it easy!) It's not something I'm proud of. I did apologize. 

On Monday and Tuesday he had to work quite late and didn't get home until after the kids' bedtime, so no work on the kitchen. On Wednesday he wet sanded quite a bit more. On Thursday, I woke up with a pounding headache, fever, and sore throat. He decided to take a sick day and stay home with me. I was absolutely wiped out until about noon when I started feeling quite a bit better. I told him to work on the kitchen if he wanted, so he finished up the sanding and put a layer of stain on the counters. We debated quite a bit about doing this. I really liked the concrete as it was, and he did too, but he thought a little bit of tint would be a good idea. So he did it. We put several coats of sealer on over the next 36 hours. On Friday night he spent several hours reinstalling the faucet and sprayer. There wasn't enough space in the concrete to tighten the fixture on, so he had to drill more out and it took a long time and I'm sure it was a tremendous headache. He was a trooper though. I can tell when he is having a heck of a time but he really doesn't complain very much. Unlike his wife. 

Saturday morning (this morning), he went to a mill and picked out a board for the bar top. He spent the day sanding it down and installed it this evening. He then brushed a couple coats of boiled linseed oil on to finish it. My after picture doesn't do the kitchen justice, it's a crappy cell phone picture and hopefully I can add more later. But the bar top now juts out like a typical bar top, making a lot more counter space on the other side, and the open space underneath the countertop makes the kitchen feel so much bigger. My sink is an absolutely enormous horse trough of a single bowl stainless steel sink, with that purring kitten of a garbage disposal down in there. It's an incredible feeling to have a garbage disposal after over two years. I am a happy woman!

I want to say again how hard Brian worked on this. It can't be easy to get home from work and immediately throw yourself into four hours of heavy manual labor. He predicted it would take three weeks, but he did it in two. I'm so thrilled with our "new" kitchen, and I stand in awe of all of the updates he has made to our house in not even three years, doing most of the work himself. More pics to come as he wraps up loose ends!