Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We Bought A Bed

There are few things in this world that I love more than old things. Okay, and let's be honest- wine. I love wine and old things. And silver. And china. And, well, I love a lot of things.

The point of this is that I really like antiques. And I like wine.

The Hometown Historic Society has an annual benefit that used to be called Antiques and Wine. Now, it's called Perfectly Aged. The first time I saw the invitation, I called Husband and said, "What about this doesn't have US written all over it?!" We went. We bought a desk. Zingo took us home. It was super fun.

This is our first time back in three years and we were obnoxiously excited about Antiques and Wine/Perfectly Aged. Bennie and LMC made plans to have a spend the night party at my parents house. Husband and Wife programmed in a cab number in the cell phone.

My mom dropped us off at The River Room.

We're classy like that.

Since we're being honest, let's just throw all the cards out on the table. We were consuming copious amounts of wine. For a good cause. Let's be clear-- it was for a good cause. Historic Hometown saves buildings and has amazing amounts of information about this place we call home. Besides, they're just really nice people. So, we were drinking for a good cause.

It was really great, too. They had a huge silent auction and there were pens at every lot. We made the rounds seeing what items were out there what we might need as we sipped.

Lot 22, for example was a South Georgia bird hunt, valued at $7500. Well, we had to have that. Boom! $550 down (thank God we didn't win that).

Lot 322 was custom silk drapes from an "established Augusta home and hand made by a well-known blah blah blah" valued at $1300. I needed those, because the cornice boards I made for our living and dining room looked... um... stupid. BOOM! $100 down (we didn't win those, either.)

Lot 45 was several sets of coins. Well, guess what? We needed those. Needed them. BOOM! $30 down. A few minutes later, some jerk counter-bid us at $35. BOOM! $40 down. Victory is sweet. We walked out with coins.

Lot 18 was a bucket of rum. No lie. A bucket of rum. There were five bottles bootlegged from St. Kitts. The opening bid was $70. It was valued at $250. Guess what? We had to have it. I put my name down in a the bold swipe of $70 with that ever-present pen. I checked it. I checked it again. It was in the corner, so surely, people just must not see this bucket of practically free rum. It was meant to be.

But, here was the problem. We found this other room off the main room and there was a beautiful bed right by the bar. There were no slats present, no mattress/box spring in it, but there were the measurements on the card for the 19th century Victorian bed.

"It's a queen," says Husband.
"It's a double," I counter back.

Whatever, we were taking this bed home. Valued around $1000 (my memory is a little hazy at this point), we open the bid at $100. More wine. More conversation. Lots of laughs. Good food. We check our bids.

Someone bid $150 on our bed. This bed was going to our Money Pit one way or another. We put $200 down and walk away. To the bar, for another glass of wine. Because, obviously-- we needed it. Wife says we can buy a double mattress. Husband says that it will fit our queen mattress just fine until we upgrade. But, we were agreed-- this bed would have a new home by the end of the night.

Long story short... we won the bed. $200 and the 19th Century Victorian bed was going to the Money Pit that we call home.

Lucky for all drivers on the road, we called that cab in our phone. We paid for the rum and the coins and sat down on the steps as we waited for our yellow and black checked ride. Husband had the bucket o' rum on his lap and we were laughing about the fact ... we bought a bed...

The cab came. The cabbie was not nearly as friendly as the DC cabbies we are used accustomed to. Husband started giving him directions to our house and said Grumpy Cabbie turned around and said, "Shhhhh. I'm on the phone. With a customer."

Dead silence in the background. Until we started laughing uncontrollably. This was unimpressive to the cabbie who dropped the hammer and we started to wonder if we were in better shape to drive than this guy. [we weren't]

The next morning found two Cagles with two headaches and a bucket o' rum on the kitchen table. Not to mention the coins in Husband's suit and the bed that needed a home.

Husband picks up the bed and we made the discovery that Husband was wrong... and so was wife.

This 19th Century Victorian bed does not fit a queen. It's too small. It does not fit a double. It's too big. We were starting to think ourselves like Goldilocks as we switched mattresses back and forth to see how bad off we truly were.

Our queen box spring was squared on the end and the end of the bed was rounded. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot put a square peg in a round hole. Husband heads off to Lowe's to build a box spring.  Yes, you saw that correctly. He's building a box spring.

$150 later, Husband is in the backyard sawing, measuring, nailing, screwing, and creating a 350 pound box spring. A box spring that will fit in our new-to-us 19th Century Victorian bed. Upon completion, We schlep the 350 box spring through the door into the master bedroom where the bed has been assembled.

Back up, many children must have been conceived  jumped in this bed. There were T-brackets and L-brackets and hinges that hold this 19th Century beaut together. Something we failed to notice last night. Husband unscrewed the brackets at the end of the bed to [insert something I was paying attention to here].

We carefully raise the 350 pound box spring over the foot of the bed and drop it on the slats to raise the mattress enough to get it over the footing where it was too big. And then we drop it. On the bed where the brackets were undone. It shook and creaked, but it did not fall apart.

"Okay, I'm going to raise the box spring with my brute strength and you are going to shimmy underneath me to screw back in the brackets," Husband says.

"um, okay. orrrrrr.... what's Plan B?"

"This'll-be-fine-just-do-it..... errgggghhhhhh [brute strength failing].... okay, Plan B."


"Okay, Plan B," Husband says, "I'll just slide under the bed and screw these in brackets."

Oh. Duh. We'd figure that out eventually.

Fast forward hours later and I am sitting in my parents office regaling them with the wit and wisdom of our decisions from the past evening when, as if right on cue, my phone rings.


My parents hear:

--a pause--
"Oh? Wow! That's great!"
--a pause--
"Tomorrow? Sure."
--a pause--
--a pause--
--a pause--
"Wonderful. Thanks so much for calling. I'll see you then."

That was my friend, Julia, who works at Historic Hometown and she said that we also won a bottle of wine. I need to pick it up tomorrow.

Cheers! Until next year!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our favorite babysitter

Yesterday, I totally nerded out and put Bennie in an orange tutu. It was an impulse buy, let's be perfectly clear about that. But, every little girl needs an orange tutu, right? She's in her tutu and I find her smocked Easter bonnet.

We were trying to take some pictures so I could subtly brag as to how precious my peanut is.

It wasn't going so well. There were no "blow the doors off" good-looking pictures. Alas, this is what we got...

I have no idea how I turned this into a movable gif, but I thought I'd share.

Not bad, but not awesome.

Then, our favorite babysitter dropped by to give kisses and get slobbered on. Totally made Bennie's day. No more was she interested in holding still for Mom, rather she wanted to play with her best buddy.

She is awesome. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Dining Room

Oh, the dining room. That place where you get to put all your pretty stuff. That place where family dinners are held for special occasions and happy memories are made. The table gets set, the lights get low, and it makes something already wonderful just a little better.

I really like a dining room. Almost as much as I like a living room-- but very close to how much I love my pantry.

The dining room is still a work in progress, but it's at a place where I feel comfortable sharing it for the millions tens of you out there who are curious as to what this turquoise room looks like.

This is what it looks like from the foyer:

There are heavy bi-fold doors that separate the space between the foyer and the dining room. That white door on the right of the picture leads into the kitchen (we won't be there for a while). The dining room table is new to us-- having been in my in-laws dining room for an eternity. The old table that stretched out to seat 64 came from "the old family homestead" according to my father- which means it could have come from a yard sale in '72 or it could have been hand-crafted by my great grandfather's great grandfather from timber on the family farm back in Berzalia around 1844. My money is not on the yard sale as I have seen it in too many old pictures and have scurried underneath it and seen the handcrafted nails. However, he weaves a tall tale sometimes.

That being said, one does not need to have a table that stretches out to seat 37 people when one does not have 37 chairs. Good rule of thumb, people. When an invitation is extended for supper- typically people want a place a to sit.

So, I left the table at my parent's house when FIL offered his table. It took me more than a second to understand which table he was talking about.

My eyes squinted with concern, "You mean you're table from you're dining room? The one that I have had dinner at? That table."
"Yes, that table."
"The one that is on the farm? That table?"
"Yes, that table. It's not on the farm anymore, it's in the warehouse."
"The one with the twists on the edge? That table?"
"Yes. Do you want it?"
"To keep?"
"Yes. Do you want it?"

It's really pretty and simply ornate. It's an oval shape and seats six quite comfortably. We could do eight in here and maybe 10 if we stretched it. Ten place settings would just mean less in the place setting. It's no seating for 45, but then again... I don't have to go out buy those 45 guests 45 chairs.

MIL saved the day and the money when we bought the house. She found her way to Hobby Lobby and bought silver leaf. She spent the next four days silver leafing the brassy (note that they were not brass) chandeliers in the dining room and foyer. They look a whole lot better than the 1964 numbers that came with the house when it was built.

Not bad, right? She's pretty dang handy and pretty dang handy to have around.

This is from the other end of the dining room, looking towards the foyer and the living room. Please note the grand piano in the background with the fabric on it. Once I find another four yards, I am going to get a sofa recovered and you will get to see that room. It'll be a while. Imperial Treasure by Braemore was on turbo-clearance the other day for $12/yard. I cannot find it for less than $20 now. Originally... $40. Ouch.

The picture of LMC hangs above an old sideboard I bought before Husband and I were married. This, too, was kept safe at Brother's house. Niece and Nephew had a great place to store toys in their playroom. The chair sitting next to it goes in the kitchen, but it's broken. So please don't sit there.

This is from the corner cabinet looking towards the window. That's my DC china! It makes me smile and as I sit here and type, I glance up at those six plates and think about how happy they make me. Something worth noting is that beautiful chest. We will get to that in a minute.

I was really happy to unpack my china from days long gone.
And my crystal.
And my silver goblets.

While we are on the subject, I have a confession to make.
I have a lot of china.
A Lot.
Like, maybe half a dozen patterns?

White, Wedgwood, for everyday
Fish, Vietri, for fun
Mottahedeh, for sass and fahn-cee occasions
blue Georgia plates, because- well, you need those.
red Georgia plates, because- well, if you cannot decide between the two... you might as well get both.
Blue lace chargers (or Thanksgiving plates, because they hold more) (and green Lace chargers- six of each. We'll count these as one pattern and not two.)
Augusta National/Masters plates
China Blossom, because they were a good price on eBay and my mom has eight or ten of those in her many cabinets.
Christmas Spode, because... well, when you get married, you think you need it.

Okay, so that's nine. That's a lot.

DC china!


I have ten patterns. Let's not point this detail out to Husband; he will kill me.

Back on Raymond Ave, we bought this china cabinet to hold all of our my (who am I kidding?) china and crystal. In the corner, you can see my wedding shoes. My SIL thinks that's just, well, crazy. I get it. It does look kinda silly, but I really like it. What else are they going to do? Sit in a box? My closet-- because, surely, I will have a need for white sparkly open toe low heels again, right?

All of my highly starched and ironed cloth napkins sit safely in the drawers. Some of my table clothes are in the bottom drawer (firmly un-ironed) and the left cabinet holds my Christmas china, while the right cabinet holds dessert plates and some crystal. Just in case you were curious.

All right, let's talk about that chest now. It's bodacious, right? It might not look like much to you, but to me it sings of love, happiness, and fighting for life. Since we got married, Husband has been on the hunt for a silver chest for me. Over the years, I have told him things that I like about silver chests... just in conversation. I had no idea he was on the hunt. My tastes were specific; his love of details intense. The silver chest- hard to find.

So he had one made.

On his way home from DC for good, he took a five hour detour and met with the carpenter he had been talking to and showed Husband his progress. Down to the littlest detail, Husband picked out pieces of wood, inlays, finish, even the color of the key. This was my "I Love You and Thank You For Standing By Me Through This Hard Time While I Trained and Trained and Made No Money" present. It was shipped to us about two weeks later.

It's mine.

He had a silver chest made. For me.

Who does that? My husband, that's who.

When we got married, we received two pewter Senate bowls as wedding gifts. They were safely placed in Brother's attic for three years. When they came out of the attic in June, I made the very sad discovery that both bowls had warped in the heat. DOH! So, I have them on display, just at an angle. And now I know- pewter does not need to go in an attic in the South. Lesson learned.

The last project was finished just a few days ago. The chairs. These chairs were SIL's mother's and I fell in love with them when she offered them up for sale. I recovered these with the help of Husband's staple gun and that same turbo-clearance where I found the fabric for the sofa. The two end chairs are in the stripe pique fabric, while the side chairs have a complimentary floral pattern. It brightens them up quite nicely.

Last thing- we are replacing the windows. They leak both hot air in and cold air out. They leak water in. They are rotted. They have got to go... and they do not give those away. The Money Pit has not been kind.

That's the dining room.

We took down the mural, hung four can lights and put the carpet that was always too big for the biggest room in any house into our dining room. We painted it turquoise. Against all the advice I received. Against what the interior decorator said. Against the painter's suggestion.

And I get so many compliments on it. Maybe it is lip service, but I don't care- because I love it. People look at it, a little bewildered as their eyes adjust and say things like, "WOW! This color... it really pops... It looks great.... I would not have thought of that." Maybe lip service, but whatever. It makes me smile.

And just a reminder as to how far we have come:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Mudroom and The Pantry

I am on a serious roll with house pictures. The pantry is the first door on the left when you first walk in from the garage. A garage, BTW... that neither car fits can fit inside. Both my Tahoe and Husband's (NEW!) Tundra are too tall for the garage door. Sigh.

This is what you see when you open the door with bags of groceries and a baby in a carseat:

Not bad, right? I like it. At some point we will need to replace the door. We tried pulling off a "God Bless America" sticker. Turns out, peeling off a patriotic sticker is like trying to throw away something Religious-- it never pans out well. The sticker is coming off in microscopic pieces that get caught in the wind and, well, they just make a mess. So, G... ess.... Am...r..a will be what our backdoor guests are greeted with. 

In the mudroom are four prints, two pieces of artwork, a red beveled mirror and two galvanized buckets- one marked "Senior's" and the other marked "Junior's":

The buckets help me be both a good daughter and good sister/SIL. When I have borrowed something or something has landed within these walls that is not ours, it gets tossed in the bucket. It's right by the kitchen, the laundry room, the play room, and the garage. After washing the tupperware, clothes, towels, bowls, etc. it is safe and sound. When either a parent or one of the Juniors comes over- they have to check their bucket on the way out. I have a third bucket that is filled with things of friends. When it is empty, it collects shoes from this end of the house- an excellent idea from my SIL.

These girls are iconic in my mind.

Walking through the door directly across from the garage door will land you in the playroom. It used to be a bedroom. It used to have green shag carpet. It used to have faux wood paneling. It used to be something to sing about. Now, well, now it is a work in progress. One day I will hire Yancey to come through and tell me how to make it awesome. In the meantime, it holds a sofa, chair and ottoman that I purchased in 2004. Those suckers are 10 years old and have survived both the twenty-something me and the toddler-something children. Niece and Nephew kept them safe for us while we were in DC. They had their own indoor trampoline, fort building kit, and marker tester. These pieces have certainly seen better days, but ... for now... they will continue to last until we can replace it with something else.

I really wanted to turn this big-ass room into two small rooms, a playroom and guest room... but I got outvoted. He who pays gets two votes. I like to call the walk-in closet our 'media center' (tongue in cheek), all of our books, DVDs, equipment and electrical stuff are tucked away behind a door that can be closed. Better still, I have arranged my books by color:

Behind the red sofa is a chair that SIL kept safe for me.    [doorbell ringing]

 The playroom is the only room on this side of the house. The sliding door looks out onto the patio and into the master bedroom. It's the door that the kids run in and out of, dripping wet.

I know you care more about the pictures and less about the words, so I'm going this short because my buddies from Middle Georgia just walked in the door and they are making fun of me for blogging in their presence. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Pantry

I am obsessed with my pantry. It's kinda sad the amount of time that I spend in the two rooms that encompass it-- not because there are mountains of laundry (there are), but I just really love and have a really OCD outlook on keeping my pantry organized. If I can keep the pantry clean and organized than the rest of the house will follow suit.

I like to think that, the reality is- it's the only place that LMC has no interest in messing up and Husband doesn't have to look for anything in there, as everything has a bin, a spot or a place to call home.

From the door, on the left when you walk in are shelves and shelves of both canned and dry goods. Baskets hang on the walls, there is an extra trashcan that gets a surprising amount of use and our old dining room light fixture adds a little panache in the lime green pantry.

When I ask for something from the pantry, I basically give driving directions. "The Ro-Tel is on the left, second shelf on the left side in the middle," or "Crackers are in the blue and white basket on the left side in the middle of the middle shelf." (The extras are on the top shelf... with the goldfish. LMC lost her ability to get to the goldfish for a while.)

There's a place for grains, pasta, and rice (LS, RS, MS).
There's a place for condiments (LS, BS, MB).
There's a place for tomato products (middle shelf, middle area), canned goods (LS,4S, LS), nut products (LS,2S,MA),  and canned vegetables (LS, BS, LB)

On the right side of the pantry are my baking supplies, the microwave, toaster, and LMC's snacks on the bottom shelf. When she wants a treat- and is given permission- she runs into the pantry and picks out what she wants from her bin. All the kids know where the snacks are and all the kids get to pick out what they want.

Next to her snacks is the basket for the Rice Krispie Treats. We eat a lot of Rice Krispie Treats in this house. I should make them because they are so easy... but when I make them, I have trouble keeping my grubby paws off of them. A tray vanishes in a crazy fast period. So, we buy them and enjoy the convenience of eating them on the way to school, the YMCA, and as a sweet snack after supper.

The top shelf (RS, TS) has all my sweeteners- Splenda, sugars, syrups, etc. 
The second shelf (RS, SS) has all my flours, powders, cornmeals, etc. 
The third shelf (RS, ThS) has a toaster, a microwave, and... let's not share this secret with too many people, but there is a miscellaneous bin. 

Through the pantry is our laundry room. The laundry room usually has a carpet of clothes. Every morning, LMC shucks her jammies and streaks through the house to drop them in the laundry room. This is, amazingly, a time save for me. However, this does mean the clothes are akimbo and strewn throughout the room. 

The best part about this room-- the very best part-- is the deeper than sin laundry sink. That think is a baby scrubber. Bennie gets in there and takes a shower under the faucet. She splashes the water and giggles, giggles, giggles at her placement. Husband built the box under the washer and dryer and I freaking love it. The box raises the appliances to just below eye level. Pre-box, I would sit on the ground to place laundry in the washer or pull it out of the dryer. It was just easier. Now, LMC likes to help me throw things in there and pull things out. 

All those cabinets are full of cleaning supplies, large platters, coolers, and lightbulbs. I am too short to reach most everything in them, so there is a foot stool in there.

Our beloved wine racks from days gone by have spent the last three years in Brother's attic. At one point in our home ownership we thought we would turn the basement into a wine cellar....


Our wine racks now house Enfamil, baking pans, egg stands, paper supplies (not shown), garlic baskets (we use a lot of garlic in this house), onion baskets (we use almost as many onions) and different platters that cannot fit in the cabinet. There are oils, vinegars, and boxes of sandwich bags.

And that's the pantry.

Next up, the mud room? Sure. Why not? It'll be a short post because it only has two galvanized buckets in there. Mostly I am waiting for our bodacious countertops to get installed before I take pictures of the kitchen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Church.... with children and senior citizens

Yesterday, LMC, Bennie, and I went to Mass while Husband was on call. It was going to be great.

Going to be.

We got there in the moments before Mass started and were able to sit with my cousin, Griggs. He's the last of the back pew crew. My grandfather (his uncle) used to sit with him along with my grandfather's sister, Aunt Helen. Griggs' wife isn't able to make it to church anymore. So, he sits alone. And I wanted to sit with him.

With ... my.... children.

By themselves, they would have been fine. Bennie was audible cooing for a bottle and LMC was up and down out of her seat getting the hymnal and the missal before putting one back to get a pencil or an envelope or writing a letter to Princess Celestia, hushing Bennie before asking for lipstick that she registered I was wearing. She found the lid to Bennie's bottle and placed it on her curls before closing her eyes in prayer with her prayer cap, unbeknownst that the required mantilla went out of style with Vatican II.

I managed with grace.

Bennie hopped up and down in my lap, with LMC telling her to be still in her best "quiet" voice. Griggs' eyes were closed and I wished I could close mine. Bennie did as a baby does and let her presence be known. She was not crying; just wanting to be heard.

At church, you cannot help but feel the stares of those around you. It's like when you no longer have children this age and they are shipped off, you get to become righteous and Ignatius when someone is interrupting your moments of silence. Does the cooing child and the mother trying to feed her the bottle really interrupt your conversation with God and your osmosis of the Homily and Gospel? Instead of seeing the beauty in a mother taking a chance and taking her children to church to sit with a lonely man, the stares drew the conclusion that we were a distraction.

I was okay with being a distraction- for a while. But, then I caught myself getting mad at LMC for nothing other than being a four year old and being asked to sit still for an hour. Don't get me wrong, I fully expect her to sit through church for an hour and be well-behaved, but I also understand that she is four and she isn't getting much out of these prayers and stories of the prodigal son.

Ah, Irony- the Gospel was the Prodigal Son.

That woman from the a few weeks ago- the one with the big nose she liked to look down on me with? She was there- right behind me. I could feel her breath on my neck. The overweight couple who had children I went to school with? Yep, they were staring at me, too. Gawking, really. Perhaps if more time were spent offering an encouraging smile to the young parent and less time was spent staring condescendingly, there might be more young families at church.

Ouch, okay this is getting mean.

Bottom line, my girls were not atrocious. But, I could feel myself turning into a less than stellar mother, snapping at LMC to be still so the stares would subside. After the Homily, I excused ourselves. As I was leaving, I felt a little victorious in my belief that my kids weren't that bad, or that not all ultras are out to stare down young flustered mothers. A gray haired gentleman patted me on the back, another older man winked at me, and as the usher opened the door for me, I whispered, "We'll try again next week," He chuckled and said, "Why? They were fine." Maybe it's just the women who need silence to commune with the God.

We sat out in the Narthex where I really got a taste of what unruly children look like.

I plopped Bennie on the ground and let her crawl around, leaving a streak of drool in her wake. With all this space, her coos subsided as she left her mark. LMC sat next to me and I let her squirm to her heart's content and promised her that she was not bad at church; Bennie was just noisy. Next week we would leave Bennie at home and go just the two of us.

LMC spied two much older children at a distance. They appeared to have no mother. I say that they appeared to have no mother for two reasons:

(1) They were playing tag. They were sliding across the floor and sitting on slanted stone window sills while leaning against the stained glass window. I shudder to think if they fell through.

(2) The mother was not sitting with them.

Where was the mother? She was kneeling on the ground, away from them, reciting her prayers, hands raised, eyes towards Heaven, and looking more like a zealot than anything else. And. Not. Disciplining. Her. Children. Those kids were running everywhere. And they were old enough to know better. LMC looked at me before hopping down and trying to join them. It's hard to tell her she cannot do something when she clearly sees other kids doing what she is being asked not to do.

I attend Church.
I am a mother.
I am a mother because of God.

These three facts come to a simple conclusion: Attending church should not prevent me from being a mother. Children need to learn how to behave at church, I'll be the first to stand up and scream that- but children need to be taught how to behave. Yes, setting an example is an excellent place to start. But isn't training a better place and then leading by example?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Getting Settled

Okay, so I have had about 544 questions recently about how the house is coming. Husband and I did the math today at lunch and about choked when we calculated just how much we have sunk into this house.

The house we shall hence-forth kindly refer to as The Money Pit.

Let's start at the beginning-- and before we get too far into this, there will be no pictures. No peeks into our life yet, but I promise, promise, promise... Megan comes next week.  When she finishes cleaning up our chaos,  When I get my act together, I will take some pictures and upload those. Promise.

I spent the better part of last weekend cleaning the grout, yes the grout, in the pink bathroom. I can now tell anyone who wants to know that baking soda and hydrogen peroxide do not clean as well as one would hope. Curses to you, Pinterest. After much research, I discovered Oxiclean, hot water, and a gallon of wine can really bring some life back to the grout. Husband asked why I was so in-tune to cleaning the grout, I pretended that music was still playing in my headphones for fear he would see my OCD, as if me head-to-toe in white powder and hydrogen peroxide would not give it away.

This little project was spurred by Re-Bath. We had them come out to give us a quote on the pink bath. I was thinking maybe a four digit number. Paint the tile, paint the tub, throw up a countertop and leave the floor alone. The quote-- are you ready for this-- the quote was twelve thousand dollars. T-W-E-L-V-E. We weren't even in the same number of digits. Drop the comma and we might talk. I sent him on his way and started googling ways to reconcile myself to the pink bathroom. Such a common problem with homes of this age, but no solutions offered.

Every room has been painted. We have a turquoise dining room- Belize is the color if you have a Sherwin-Williams paint wheel. We have a turquoise living room. These rooms are supposed to be very fahn-cee, but while I love me some fahn-cee, I love me some turquoise even more. It's an odd color for the living and dining, but it makes me smile. The living room of any house is always my favorite place. The doors are usually closed, the room usually cool, and the quiet-- oh the quiet, I love the quiet. Living rooms are always clean and full of lovely things. Ours has a grand piano (yep, grand), a chair and a sofa. I want to put a zebra skin rug in there. Husband thinks I am crazy. Meh, we cannot afford it right now- so it just sits in my plans of things to do later. Until then, we ran the hardwoods on a diagonal and it is a fun change from the norm.

We painted the fireplace. Husband was not really keen on painting the fireplace and I ignored him. He said he liked the brick and I pretended to not hear him. He asked me not to put paint on the fireplace because it could be difficult to maintain and I told the painters to go ahead.

He likes the gray fireplace and I love the fact we are one wall closer to getting rid of this icky brick color. By the way, the house is an icky brick color. Red brick would have been beautiful, but we have a brown and white brick that makes your nose curl when trying to describe it. We will paint the house in the future. Probably before I buy my zebra rug.

Our stove has not worked since we moved in. It was an old school white one with black coils and turn knobs. While not original to the house, it was no less than 20 years old. I have gotten very efficient at cooking in the oven, in the microwave, and on the grill.  We found a deal on a new stove. A real deal kind of deal. Like $1500 off the original price kind of deal.

I asked for the manager and told him that we would buy this stove today if they would take some more off the bottom line. Total deadpan on my face. The manager stared at me. I stared back.

"You do realize that this price is fif-teeeeen hun-dred dollars off, right?" as if he emphasized the numbers, I would balk.
"Yes, and if you take off another ten percent, we will take it out of here today," dead pan.
Husband walked off, probably to find a newer wife who was not quite as frugal as his current one.

Who walked out of there with a new stove?

Two thumbs in the air. This girl.

We strung can lights, knocked out a wall, and hung a barn door system for the kitchen. We replaced all the doorknobs. Have you ever thought about door knobs and how many are in your house? We have six doors in our master bath- 10 if you count the closet doors. We replaced all the hardware on all the cabinets and updated our PotScrubber600. The dishwasher was original to the house, extremely noisy and there was nothing efficient about it. Half the pins had broken off. At some point in the last fifty years, the knob broke free and it was superglued back on. I know this because after living in the house exactly 48 hours, I found it in my hand and not on the PotScrubber600. Using the the knob like a key and my cracker-jack safe-cracking skills, I would place the knob on the screw and slowly click it forward until I heard the rush of water. I loved it and was almost sad to see it go. Almost.

A week later, back at the same store. New manager, and a new dishwasher that was mis-marked at one thousand dollars off the original price. How do you mis-mark something $1000 off? Could I possibly profit from one employee's mistake?

You bet your sweet face I could.

That sucker was loaded up in the back of the Tahoe and we were out of there in 15 minutes- maybe the easiest sale ever? Only if you know that I asked for an additional 10% off. Why would anyone ever want to go shopping with me?!

The Money Pit is coming together. We are getting granite countertops installed next week. They came yesterday and made a template for us. After that, we are putting a hold on all things house. I say that, but we do need some updated double ovens, rugs, outdoor furniture, window coverings, and and and.... it will never end, will it?

As Kitty Scarlett says, "I can't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Last Night

The past 10 days have been a reminder of Husband's fellowship schedule. It's been easy to get back in the single mom routine, but difficult having had just a taste of how the other half lives. Last night was almost legendary.

I picked up LMC, Niece, and Bennie from school yesterday and brought the three girls home. Bennie napped, Niece and LMC played. And played. And played... and played some more. They played "freeze dance," had shows on the hearth,  organized the "best cooking show ever," read books to each other, asked me to read books to them, and took turns-- yes, I said it-- took turns riding LMC's Princess bike. They played chase, blew bubbles, colored, and danced. When I say they played, I am serious- they played.

Niece was going to be picked up at 1:15, but told SIL to hold off and run more errands. She was going to pick Niece up at 3pm and I said go run more errands and do laundry. She was going to come at 4pm and I flat out said, "Don't." She finally came around 5pm and Niece asked if she could stay. I said YES before SIL could say NO. She stayed and played until after 6pm. They had the best time playing and being both friends and cousins.

Going to school and then playing for another five hours makes a four year very, very tired. And she's whiny. And hungry. And really, really whiny. Paint a picture of a virtuous mother in her apron string and heels patiently talking to her about her whines and graciously calming her down.


Paint a picture of a mother still in her work out clothes, sipping wine, and threatening her within an inch of her life.

A forty-five second bath follows the whines with promises of her favorite TV show if she doesn't throw a fit. She throws a fit. I "forget" because, like her- I want a few minutes of calm, too.

MOTY throws her jammies in the bathroom with the statement of, "Get out. Dry off. Put your jammies on and meet me in the den. This is you last chance." ('Last' became a relative term)

I walk up front to pour her milk and a very naked, very wet, very hacked off four year old comes streaking down the hall at my heels, screaming the whole way. NONO NO NO!!! She's red in the face, her tears are real, and she is howling.

"What's the matter?" (I'm really starting to gain some composure, because let's be real- only one of us can act like a child. Today was not my day.)

"I TTed a widdle bit."

"It's okay."

"Ohhhh".... and then she TTs a whole lot. On the floor. Thank goodness for hardwoods and no money for rugs.

"Go go go... run to the bathroom."

And she takes off in a bow-legged hopping/run, TTing down the hall.  Fortunately, her bladder is empty by the time she gets back to her pink bathroom sanctuary.

I grab my rag and 409, following the trail of tears and TT. Husband will never know.

After tucking her in, saying her prayers, and promising to keep the hallway light on, I have one child left to manage. Watching some chick-flick on FX, Bennie's little eyes wisp open and look at me. She is full of love for her mommy. I smile and softly kiss her head, trying to hush those eyes closed. It was a beautiful and perfect between mother and child.

Full of love, she was also full of puke.

Down her jammies, down her diaper, down my shirt, down my pants, down to my skivvies, the green puke flows like water. All I can do is let her finish so we only clean up the hallway once in a night. When I think she is finally puked out, I pick her up and take her to her bedroom to get her undressed.

Let's back up a moment.

I did mention it's nighttime, right? I say this because there's some law about optical something or other when one is in a lighted area and looking through a glass into darkness, the lighted room cannot see out into the darkness, but the darkened area can see into the lighted area-- clearly.

Did I mention that we don't have curtains on our windows yet?

No big deal, naked baby. We've all seen them. I shuck her jammies and they, literally, splat on the floor. Noticing that putrid green smell as my perfume, I look down and notice that not only am I wet with puke, I am saturated with puke... like I said, down to my skivvies.

These clothes have got to go.

It was not until I was down to my socks did I realize that I am standing in front of the window in my full glory, ready to meet the neighbors.

Being a mother is awesome.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Good Stuff

Sitting in my turquoise living room, Robert Earl Keen is playing on my computer as I sit and type. "It feels so good feeling good again" takes me to so many places and so many people. Music has that ability and I love that.

How fortuitous that this song landed on the play list as I opened my computer, because that's where we are right now- Feeling Good Again.

The other day, I went back and reread those blogs about Brother. Those sad, difficult blogs about my hero. I told a friend that I had done so and it finally set in where we were a year ago. As an example, I wrote about how we were elated that Brother could move his arm -- no direction to his actions, but his brain could tell his arm to move- and it did.

At the time, that was the greatest news. Now, I look back and see how truly terrifying that is. When you are in the throws of a situation, sometimes the terror has to sit on the sidelines until it can be processed.

Husband said it would be at least a year before Brother would have any true recovery. Everything in those next 12 months would lead up to real progress. I scoffed. This was Brother. The strongest man I know. The bravest. The toughest. He has battled many great things-- a year? Whatever.

Husband was right. But, so was I. Brother made remarkable progress and the doctors were dumbfounded that he made the strides he made with the stroke he had. As Brother would take these tiny baby steps forward, things would push him back. Whether seizures, medicine side effects, or just... life, those tiny baby steps that Bennie has yet to take were mountains for Brother. And those mountains came with avalanches.

For instance, the steroids were doing their job- helping the kidneys heal. That being said, the steroids come with their own box of problems. Cataracts are a very common side effect for those that use them for an extended period.

Brother is the very definition of an extended period.

And, yes, he has two cataracts. One in each eye.

On one hand, I was sad at this- on the other, had there been no steroids, there would be no Brother. There would be no eyes for cataracts to be in. And... here's the thing- Cataracts are a relatively easy fix.
Especially when you know people. And we know people. Good people. Good people who do good work with all kinds of eyes. Good people that tell you both the good and the bad about the surgery, speaking in even and easy words for this sister who does not speak Medicine or Doctor. Something better, after speaking to those good people, I saw a silver lining about cataracts. Once cataract surgery has been performed, it never has to be done again. They remove the lens where the cataract is and replace it with an artificial one. Done and done. Steroids be damned! She did share some bad news, he might have to get reading glasses sooner than had he not had cataracts. [insert a sarcastic, "Oh Gee" here]

The steroids that wreak havoc on the body are diminishing. What was once a prescription for 60mg (and yes, that's a lot), was cut to 30mg, to 20mg... and now 10mg. He still takes a dozen or so pills a day, but those steroids that can be so cruel to the mind, physique and spirit are slowly dissipating. Because of the reduction in steroids, his body is starting to become more normal- his swelling is slowly going down.

And the doctor reviewed those dozen-plus pills and made some changes. Good changes. Great changes, actually. In the past two weeks, we have seen that charm emerge and start to crawl from the cocoon where it was resting. It has taken a year, but he is slowly starting to unwind this knot and find the end to the tunnel. There is still a lot of work to do and lot of healing to be had, but in my heart, I feel the sun shining at the end. The warm sun splashing rays on all of us.

For the first time in a year, Brother asked SIL if they could have "chicken wing night," a Thursday night tradition on the Man Porch that was once a thorn in SIL's side. She agreed and the usual band of outside screaming at the football game. SIL lay in bed hearing them laugh, talk, eat chicken wings, and have more than one beer. I picture her in the middle of her king size bed, under her blue monogram with her hands behind her head and looking up at the antique brass chandelier with a smile on her face and happy tears in her eyes. She got a text from one of Brother's dearest friends, who was a mere 30 feet from her- on the Man Porch- with three simple words:

He Is Back

He still cannot drive as he has to be seizure free for six months, he still cannot see- the surgery has yet to be performed, He still has rehab therapy four days a week, he still has a mountain. But, his personality- that personality that makes people either love him or hate him. That personality that I truly wish I had, that made his wife fall in love with him every single day- is slowly emerging.

I watched him play hide and go seek with his daughter and niece yesterday at our house for twenty minutes and felt my heart grow in love for this man, my brother.

He Is Back.