Sunday, December 22, 2013

Home Renovations: The After

Moving in to this house 5 1/2 years ago was great for us!  But, like every house, it had some updating to do.  Through these 5 years we have done numerous updates and renovations, but I am lacking all of the "before" pictures.  Since we recently moved to a new house (as of last week!) I decided to take all my "after" photos.  This record of projects is more so for me, because when I was walking through the house I kept saying, "ooh, remember when I did that?" or "That was such a good idea!" or "That looks horrible before AND after."  
So, for your enjoyment and mine, here are pictures and a little blurb of what was accomplished in this room.


  •  Refinished all of the cabinets. (Sanded, stained and varnished)
  • Replaced hardware
  • Painted ceiling
  • Replaced flooring (linoleum).  There was much debate on if there was hardwood floor under multiple layers of linoleum, but finding out would have been too pricey so we just added another layer.
  • New of the few things I had a professional do
  • New backsplash

  •  Replaced vent hood
  • Replaced sink
  • Replaced stove top
  • Replaced dishwasher
  • The oven was the next thing on the list, but never got around to it before moving.

  •  New flooring continued from the kitchen
  • Replaced light fixture
  • Painted ceiling and walls
  • Added crown molding

  •  Put up wall paper that looks like bead board.  It was the neatest product!  Very easy to use, I even did it myself.  Added a coat of high gloss white paint over the wallpaper to give a clean, shiny look.

  •  Crown molding
  • Added faux wood blinds-they are white
  • Painted ceiling
  • Painted walls
  • Replaced fan

  •  Painted walls...multiple times
  • Fixed leak in roof which ruined our first paint job...hence the multiple colors
  • Painted mantle and wood accents white
  • Replaced saltillo tile with large ceramic tile

  •  Removed wallpaper and painted beige
  • Replaced globes on light fixture

  •  Replaced fan
  • Painted this room twice.  The first color was a dark gray, which Greg thought was too gloomy.  I repainted a lighter gray which was named "Pure Silver".

  •  I loved this wall color!
 First, it was Mallory's room and then Casey's.  That is why it leans toward girlish

  • Added owl mural.  This was done with a bottle of Mod Podge and paper from around the house.  The tree is out of brown paper bags, the owls are from scrapbook paper and the flowers and leaves are from some floral wrapping paper I had on hand.  This project was a max of $5-$10.

  •  Added a chair rail
  • Painted lower half a flat white...bad choice.  Should have been satin or high gloss.  You can see where the bed used to be and that sort of bothers me.

  •  Painted the top half of the wall a beautiful jade color.  When I first put it up, it almost looked black, but once the natural daylight hit it, it took on this beautiful jewel tone that I was going for.
  • Added curtain rods and curtains

  •  Painted walls (twice).  The first time I painted this HORRIBLE neon yellow color.  Went with a light tan the second time around.

  •  Replaced light fixture
  • Added frame around mirror
  • Added nickel fixtures and hardware
  • Replaced countertops
  • Added backsplash
  • Replaced sink and faucet fixtures

  •  Tore up white tile to find mint green tile underneath!  Replaced with tan tile with an accent edge.  My knees were killing me from crawling around so much after this little project.
This room has always been Nolan's room, but he had to start sharing it with Mallory after Casey was born.

  •  Replaced ceiling fan
  • Added curtain rods and curtain
  • Painted above the chair rail white after Nolan drew on the walls (he was almost 3).
  • Painted under the chair rail a color that I hated, but the kids picked out.  I thought, "How bad could it be?"  It reminds me of the color of macaroni and cheese, but worse.  For some reason, it also took multiple coats even though the can boasted that it would cover in 1 coat.  

...and that was just the updates on the inside of the house!  I will have to tell you about the outside another time.  When looking for a new house, I wanted one that needed a lot less updating.  I'm a little burnt out on updating right now, and knew that it would be much harder to do having 3 small children.  Let's be honest, doing ANYTHING with 3 small children is hard :)

I'm hoping the new owners will love our house as much as we have.  We don't have buyers if you are interested, give me a call. ( I know, shameless plug, but I'm trying to sell a HOUSE).

Have fun renovating, be better than me and take before AND after pictures.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Night that was Horrible, But Could Have Been SO Much Worse!

On Friday, our family and Greg's parents loaded up in our car to drive to Palestine.  We were traveling to the Polar Express!  The kids were very excited to see Santa, their lists were written and they were ready!  

Only a few miles away from the Polar Express, our car started making a weird sound.  It was coming from the engine, but since being only a few miles away from our location I really didn't worry about it.

**Just as a side story:  I have taken my car in to local shops NUMEROUS times for a mysterious engine sound.  It would make the sound for me, the mechanic wouldn't hear the sound and return the car back to me.  The last mechanic finally heard the sound, and his opinion was that the sound wasn't bad enough to do anything to the car, so he suggested until it get REALLY bad.  Not great advice, but I took the car and really paid attention to any sounds/lights that came on**

We had a wonderful time at Polar Express.  The kids danced in the aisles with the "chefs".  We drank delicious hot chocolate, and got to meet Santa.  After the train ride, and hitting up the restrooms, we were in the car ready to head home about 7:15 pm.  Our goal was to be home by 10 pm.  Sadly, that didn't happen...

In Palestine, we stopped at McD's to get some food for all of us.  Not even a mile from there, the car started beeping at us.  We made sure we were buckled...still beeping.  Doors all closed...still beeping.  Engine starts smoking...
We pull over and Greg and his dad start looking at the engine.  It's the radiator.  Greg gets a cup of water to cool down the radiator so we can make it to a gas station.  When driving to the gas station I hear that thumping sound that I heard the first time when coming to Palestine.  The guy's guess was that the radiator was leaking coolant onto the belt, which was making the belt make a horrible sound.  We got to the gas station, got everything patched and the prayers started, "Just let us get home safely."

If you've ever been to Palestine, you take a lot of dark country roads until you meet back up to I-45.  My biggest fear was breaking down on one of these dark roads...with three kids.  

Around an hour later, it happened.  The belt broke, breaking a huge hole in to the radiator.  Coolant spilled out, causing the car to overheat quickly.  Thankfully, we were near an exit, pulled in to a gas station/Arby's.  

I was sad.
Greg was mad.
Nolan was crying, thinking it was his fault.
Casey was wet.
Mallory was asleep.

I call my sister Jenn's cell phone (which she doesn't usually answer, living in the country gives her bad reception).  She answered on the second ring!  She will leave in 5 minutes to come get us!  Yay!  Too bad, we were almost an hour away...

Mallory asleep in Arby's, and then she woke up and cried.
We all headed in to Arby's where Mallory slept, and Casey cried.  Nolan found a Hot Wheel at the gas station, so he was happy again.  After Arby's closed, they shooed us out, but the gas station had a trucker's living room. We all settled down.  After a little over an hour, our hero was here!  The sight of Jenn and her working car almost brought tears to my eyes.  We all loaded up, and headed home.  

We pulled in to Greg's parents driveway and unloaded all the kids.  They were staying the night to go to the movies tomorrow.  I tucked them in, and they were exhausted.  Greg and I went home, and after all was said and done, it was past midnight.  But we were home safe!!

Since I'm an eternal optimist, here are some things that could have made it worse:
  • The car dying on some scary, dark road with ax murderers hiding in bushes
  • The car dying a few weeks ago in the dark roads of the Hill Country, with ax murderers hiding in bushes.
  • The kids could have FREAKED OUT, but instead, somewhat kept their cool
  • Jenn not answering her phone, or saying no to picking us up (she does have 4 kids herself)
  • Did I mention the ax murderers hiding in bushes????
So, now my car is somewhere in Madisonville.  It won't be looked at until some time on Monday (3 days away).  I am car-less, but I am perfectly fine just sitting at home...I think I'm done with adventures for a while.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Kids and Religion

Questions I asked myself today at church:
What is my short term goal regarding my children and their walk with God?
What is my long term goal regarding my children and their walk with God?
How am I going to help them achieve this?

First, I suppose I should start with my own experience:
In middle school we moved towns.  Prior to moving, we (me, my sister and my mom) attended church every Sunday.  My twin sister and I would go to a church camp every summer.  When we were 10, we decided to give our life to Christ and got baptized.  

Then we moved, and it all stopped.  No more going to church, no more church camp, no religion at all (except for the Christmas story during the holidays, and prayer at the Thanksgiving).  I really can't give you a reason either.  I was probably old enough to request to attend church, but that thought never occurred to me at the time.  Aren't your parents supposed to MAKE you go to church, not the other way round?  Instead, on Sunday I would laze about and at the age of 16 started working on Sundays without giving it a second thought.

In college, I went to church on Sunday asking for forgiveness for my behavior (or lack of Christian behavior) from the previous week.  Isn't that what all college kids did?  Then, after hearing a sermon that bothered me, I stopped going.

Fast forward quite a few years.  I had married a Christian man (Methodist, if you're curious).  We, as a couple never attended church together and seemed to both have the inability to start going again after such a long pause in our faith. 

Then, Nolan came.  We wanted something greater for him.  To give him a good foundation, to depend on someone greater than mom and dad.  So, to be quite honest, we started going back to church for him.  

  Here are some desires I have for my children and am working on daily:
  • Make it a habit to give thanksgiving to God.  To feel grateful for all we have, because we really don't deserve any of it.  
  • To know there is someone greater than himself, someone more loving than mom and dad, someone he can always depend on and lean on.
  • To rely on the words of the Bible as truth.  To find his own meaning in those books and to look to them if he has a question that no one can answer.
  • To know that, even though all the statistics say that he will walk away from his faith during college, he will always be accepted by God, always have forgiveness in Him.
We've been lucky to have a child with a desire to learn about God.  It honestly gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes when I hear him sing our worship songs in church, or be so proud of himself that he got a Holy Bible and can read it himself. 

I honestly don't know how long this desire for faith will last.  We might hit a few bumps in the road as he gets older; but as long as the foundation is there that we've been working so hard for the past 6 years (and hopefully for many more) to lay, I think (and pray) he'll turn in to a Godly man. 

Oh, almost forgot.  My short term goal for my child's faith:
  • Make it through Big Church
  • For him to listen during Children's Time and not act like a ninja or a big clock (I know, odd).  
Hoping you find your own desires for your children and their faith.  It's going to be hard work, but the outcome will be fantastic. :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kid's Themed Movie Night: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I don't know about your kids, but mine are kind of picky eaters.  Not consistently, but it seems to come in waves.  One week they will eat everything on their plate, the next week I'll fix the EXACT same thing, and they will say it's gross and won't touch anything.  Well, that's when you have to start getting creative...

About a month ago, we finished reading Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk  (I know, we gave in to the Zombie craze, totally age appropriate though!).  In the book the mom renames food to match zombie body parts.  For example, scabs = macaroni and cheese, meatloaf=zombie brain.  My kids thought this was the best idea.  So, that night for dinner we had eyeballs (grapes), brains (toast), scabs (chicken nuggets), etc.  They ate everything up and even acted like zombies while eating.  I really couldn't complain, they were seated at the table AND ate all their food.
...Sadly this fad wore off after the book was finished and forgotten.

Moving on to yesterday, I was dreading the idea of fixing dinner, but decided to make it fun.  Since it was a Saturday night, we usually watch a movie (and it being 100+ degrees outside, I'd rather stay where there is AC).  So, I decided to turn it in to a movie themed night.  This week the kids decided to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  The first two Harry Potter movies are the only two the kids can watch (or be read aloud to) because I've deemed the other ones too scary for them for their age.

The kids and I made a big sheet tent where the proceeded to put every pillow we own under there.  In the end, it did look pretty comfy.

This is what I wrote on our chalk board in the kitchen:
Harry Potter Movie Night
For Dinner:
Witches hair with a side of eyeballs and brains.
Then, we will take a dip in the hot cauldron
For Dessert:  Cookies with buggies

To translate:
For Dinner:
Linguini with grapes and toast
For Dessert:  Chocolate chip cookies

At the end of the night, most of the food was eaten, baths were given and I got to watch a movie that I haven't seen in awhile.  We didn't finish it, due to it being the longest movie ever!!  Second installment to be coming soon.

I'm hoping to do this on a regular basis.  Maybe add in some arts and crafts next time.  The kids were happy, I was happy, which means a good night in my books.

Any good ideas for kid's themed dinners?  Thoughts appreciated!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Disney World: Tips I Followed, Tips I Didn't Follow...But Should Have, and Tips I Learned On My Own

We, as a family, have completed our first trip to Disney World!  Greg's parents were nice enough to take us and our kids.  Our kid's ages are 6, 3, and 4 months so we had a wide range of needs.  I spent some time reading up on what to do, and what not to do but it seems like the info was endless.  Of course, everyone's Disney experience will be different, but here are some things that I learned:

1.  Personal water bottle fans and Froggy Togg Towels:  Best inventions ever, especially in the summer months.  The water bottle fans at Disney were almost $20, so it was great that they were pre-purchased.  My mom got me some Froggy Togg towels for my birthday.  I'd never heard of them before, but they claimed "Just Get Me Wet, And I'll Keep You Cool".  I was worried they wouldn't work, but they did!  This was great for our 4 month old.  I would lay the towel over his lower half and it would block the sun and keep him cool.
Mallory with Princess Jasmine
2.  Eating with a princess/Doing Jedi Training:  Mallory had breakfast will all the princesses while Nolan fought Darth Vader.  I bet they were super pricey, but SO worth it!  Mallory just turned 3 and she adores the princesses, and they were all in the same room!  I bet she remembers it for a while.  Nolan (just turned 6) did the Jedi Training.  We had to block off a major part of the day for Nolan, but it was definitely well worth it, he says it was one of his favorite things.
3.  Not pushing the kids:  You want to do everything/see everything, but there's a certain point to call it quits.  Ours was around 1 pm.  We would hit the parks early, leave around 1 pm or 2 pm and go back to the hotel to recharge or swim.  This worked well for us and our young kids.
4.  Patience!:  One friend said I needed the patience of a saint...he was almost right.  There's A LOT of stuff going on: strollers, wheelchairs, adult scooters, grouchy parents, grouchy adults, 90 degree weather, rainy weather...I could go on forever.  My motto was as long as we came back alive it was a good trip.  We all came back alive, so it was a good trip!  Seriously though, take a deep breath and put things in to perspective for you and your kids.  If you've walked all around the park in 90 degree heat with no lunch break, there will be a meltdown soon (and I wouldn't blame them).  If your tired, your kids are tired.  If your grouchy standing in line, your kids will be grouchy standing in line.  Do what works for you and your family.  A lousy vacation can happen very quickly with bad attitudes.
Mallory with Cinderella
5.  Gate Check your stroller:  I kept on reading about this "gate check" thing while flying with strollers.  I figured it out on our first flight.  You go through the whole airport with your stroller and carrier and even through the long tube to the airplane, and then you leave it right outside the airplane door.  It will be the last thing they put with the bags, and the first thing they take out.  When you get out at your destination, your stroller will be right outside of the plane waiting for you!  Just make sure to ask for a Gate Claim ticket!
WARNING:  Our stroller and carrier took a beating in our Atlanta layover going to, and coming back.  It's not like a spent a million dollars on the thing, but I was a little peeved when the whole mesh bag underneath was ripped to shreds.
1.  "Comfy" shoes-  I kept hearing about this comfy shoe tip.  I thought my Reef sandals did qualify as comfy shoes, but I was wrong.  You will be doing A LOT of walking.  I switched over to my running shoes on the third day, and my leg and back pain went away.  My 3 year old definitely showed me up though.  She wore her little glass slippers (plastic with 1/2" heel) and wore those things all around the park.  She was tougher than me.
2.  Fast Passes-  This something that you will figure out on your own.  It confused me reading about it, but after we actually did it, I understood.  For example:  The Pirates of the Caribbean line is super long (an hour wait).  You swipe your card and get your ticket with a time on it, such as 1:00-2:00.  You come back in that time frame and you go to the "Fast Pass" line.  You get on the ride a few minutes later, a fraction of the time than just standing in line.  We didn't use Fast Passes until AFTER we waited in the Space Mountain line for over an hour and watched all the Fast Pass people zip past us.  I DID give them the evil eye, but it was so dark in there they probably didn't notice. :)
3.  Ponchos and rain gear-  It rains a lot in Florida.  We were in Downtown Disney and got rained on for almost 2 hours.  Soaking wet, we trudged back to our hotel wishing that we had brought Ponchos from home because I refused to buy the expensive ones at the park.
4.  Stay hydrated...with water!:  I guzzled a lot of liquid, and it wasn't water.  I chose Coke Zero most of the time.  With all the heat, I knew I should have been drinking water, but I didn't.  Coke Zero didn't satisfy me like I knew water would.  Lesson learned.
Nolan training as a Jedi
1.  Disney has this bus system around all of the parks and to all the resorts.  Plus side: we didn't have to rent a car.  Downside:  waiting for buses, length of bus ride, and crowded buses.  It was especially hard waiting for a bus for 20+ minutes when your kids are exhausted and asleep on you.  It was also hard carrying on and off the stroller and carrier on the bus.  But if I did it all again, I would still ride the bus definitely beat the $15 a day parking cost.
2.  Your child carrier:  My son was not 4 months yet when we went, so a carrier (car seat) was necessary for him.  We weren't allowed to use it on the plane, and we weren't allowed to use it on any of the buses (safety issues).  So, we actually lugged it around most of the time.  If he had been a little older and able to sit in a stroller without the car seat, I most likely would have left it at home.  One last thing to drag around.
3.  Penny Squishing Machines:  Great souvenirs for little cost.  Kids had a great time finding them around the park and then turning the handle to squish the penny.  Only cost $.51 each, which is a steal at Disney!
4.  Pick a hotel with a nice pool:  It was the highlight for the kids...and me.  Nothing better to end a long day at Disney than a swim at a really nice pool.  It even had a whole kid section where the water was only a foot deep and I could let my 3 year old splash around without a life vest on.
5.  Carry ALL your formula on the plane with you:  My 4 month old only drinks formula, so I knew I would have to bring a large container with us to get us through the week.  I also purchased a formula holder that holds enough formula for 3 bottles.  I couldn't decide which one to take on the plane.  Would they make me throw away the formula in the smaller carrying container because it wasn't sealed.  Would 3 bottles last him? I decided to take both in my carry-on bag.  I made sure that the big container was still sealed in case a security person questioned its validity.  No one questioned anything.  The only thing that got tested was some water that I had already put in to a bottle for my son for later use.  I'm so glad I packed both in my carry-on.  Our resort had this great thing where they will bring the luggage to your room straight from the airport so you don't have to go pick it up from baggage claim.  What they don't tell you in the brochure is that it won't get to your room until 4-5 hours AFTER you checked in.  I would have had one mad baby on my hands if I didn't have any formula.  But I did, so he was happy.
Casey just hanging out :)

All in all, I don't think I could have asked for a better trip.  Very happy with the outcome.  The kids are already talking about going again, even though that next trip is years away.

Have fun on your adventures with your kids, make them happy moments they will remember for a lifetime!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cupcakes in a Jar's been a while.  Many things have kept me from posting, the two top being a newborn (now 7 weeks old) and a broken laptop which made it impossible to download pictures from my camera.  I thought I would start blogging again with something fun!  Mallory turned 3 last month and we went with a Hello Kitty theme.  I've seen the "Cake in a Jar" post on Pinterest multiple times and thought it was a great idea.  I told my husband, and he brought up a good point.  If you made the cake in the jar, the icing will only be on top.  Well, after you eat the top layer of cake and icing, you'd have a lot of cake left over.  He suggest layers of icing and cake to make a better ratio.  Great idea!  I toyed with make a 9x13 sheet cake and then cutting out circles, or making cupcakes.  I went with the cupcakes, which were the perfect size for the small mason jars.

This is a super easy project, here's a step-by-step
1.  Buy mason jars
2.  Choose a cake.  I went with a vanilla box cake, divided the batter in two and dyed the other half pink.  Sticking with the Hello Kitty theme, I only used pink and white cake, but you could do more.
3.  I used a small muffin tin (12) and sprayed with Pam.  I filled the cupcake tins half way.
4.  While letting your cupcakes cool, make an icing.  I used butter cream icing and put in to a piping bag.
5.  Now start layering!  I did a white cupcake, a squirt of butter cream, a layer of sprinkles (repeat).
Layer the cupcakes with icing
 6.  I got two cupcakes and two layers of icing.  Make sure to stop at the top of the jar since you still have to put the lid on.
Add sprinkles to the top and you are done!
End product with labels on top, ribbon tied in a cute bow and fork attached for easy eating :)
7.  Tie on fork and make labels if desired.

I ended up taping the forks on to the jars since the ribbon didn't hold them on tightly.  I also found large sheets of blank sticker paper at a local office store and make my own "labels".

Two reasons why these were great:
1.  I don't say this a lot, but my husband was right.  It was a great ratio of icing to cake.
2.  They are "On the Go"  If your party runs short on time or kids start getting grumpy, give your guests this and see them on their way.  I used them as party favors, and you can re-use the glass!