Friday, March 20, 2015

If You Give a Moose a Muffin....


For the twelve and a half people out there who are not familiar with that phrase, it is from a series of children's books that follow different scenarios of how something small can build upon itself until it becomes something big... basically.  

Kind of the M.O. for Art and I.  We start with one thing, like our monthly vacuuming of  the rug, and the next thing you know we're picking up loose change, sandwiches, and dvds from under the couch cushions and behind bookshelves.  Which then leads to pulling out all the furniture, which leads to discovering that the legs on the couch are scratching the floor, which leads to a trip to Home Depot to put pads on all the legs of everything in the house except the cats, which leads to someone on the roof, and someone else in the crawl space opening up a couple of cartons of ice cream.  You know how it goes.  One thing leads to another.  

And for those who actually read all of that, first of all, doesn't everything lead to ice cream?  I mean really.  There's always an excuse to eat ice cream, which explains a lot about my wardrobe right now.

Secondly, for my mother, we do vacuum more than once a month; more than once a week even, actually.  But my sources of entertainment are few, so I enjoyed writing this out and thinking about you reading it.  And no, I have never found an entire sandwich under the couch either.  Goodness.  It was really less than half of one, honest.  

So in that spirit, here is our Moose and Muffin sequence that lasted about six months, which is about four and a half months longer than we thought it would, or should,
but those who are constantly interrupted by emergency room visits, emergency calls from the school, and medical traumas, cannot be too rushed about finishing something as inconsequential as a kitchen floor.  So, sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy....  (now where did I put that other half of my sandwich?)

This was basically the beginning of it all.  When we moved into our house almost nine years ago, our kitchen came with a Corian countertop, which gradually developed a crack.  Corian is supposed to be pretty tough and resilient, so it may be because we had to cut a slice of it off in order to fit in a stove that actually is functional for a family of 12, or it may be because my kids stand on the counter to put away the dishes, or it may be because the fryer was parked on this part of the countertop for several years. And sue me if you think a fryer isn't a standard countertop appliance, but how else are you going to cook your Twinkies?  So the crack grew and grew and finally, about six months ago, cracked all the way through, ruining the countertop.

Now, the Corian countertop is a molded countertop which included the sink, molded right into it.  Not sure whose amazing idea that was, but they certainly did not attend the School of Practicality, I am pretty sure.  The people who lived in this four bedroom house before we did were a "family" of two people.  They probably didn't even need a sink at all, but one molded sink in the kitchen was plenty for them.  For me?  Not so much.  Since we moved in, I have secretly coveted a double sink.  Since the sink was molded right into the countertop, it was not a simple thing even for my brilliantly capable handyman husband to replace in a weekend.  So, when the countertop cracked through, visions of a new sink danced in my head.

Not the best picture, but this is the first one I could find.  You can see the single, molded sink.  

So, our first step was to remove the countertop, and order a new one.  For those of you keeping score, we have eleven people living in this house, many of whom have substantial medical and other special needs.  Even though I watch HGTV as I fall into a comatose state in my bed each night, granite, marble, quartz, and even Corian were not an option for us.  We resorted to our familiar friend, good ol' Formica!!  And they have done a lot with formica since the last time we replaced a countertop so you haters can just keep it to yourselves.  Formica countertops can now be ordered to look almost like real granite, if you squint with one eye, and have a milky residue over the other one.  

So we ordered the granite looking formica countertop.  

Somewhere along in the demolition process, we had also discovered that our dishwasher had at some point leaked underneath the flooring that was already there, and so up it came.  Under it was a light colored linoleum.  We could live with that while we waited for the countertop.  But then we saw that the floor was still damaged, and upon investigation along one corner of the linoleum, Art found that the entire floor should be ripped up.  Of course.  Enter the moose.  

So the repairs begin.

The leak is fixed.  The new floor is ordered.   We ordered something from Lumber Liquidators that they described as "water invincible" or something like that.  The new sink is ordered as well!!!  (insert heavenly chorus.)  Again, how many kids and expenses do we have?  This was  not something in our budget by any means.  But thanks to a very generous relative, we are not still living on plywood.  Very thankful.  

Let's proceed, shall we?

Well, if you take up a countertop, the next thing you find is that it runs into the backsplash, and the new countertop will need to be configured with a new backsplash.  So we shall simply pull the tile off of the old one?  Not so simple.  The tile was stuck to the drywall and would not come off without taking up the drywall as well. 

All our lives, we have included our kids in our home repairs and upgrades.  Art does virtually all home and car repairs himself, and whatever he doesn't know how to do, he learns.  We always include the kids because frankly, they want to be included most of the time.  Our kids helped to demo the backsplash and loved it.

So, here we are down to the studs, and then Art had to put up all new drywall.  And don't worry about all the electrical outlets and switches.  He's an electrical engineer remember?  Everything got new switches and wiring. 

Ruby inspecting the work.

 Stopping by to observe: Canaan, who Art affectionately calls The Blister (he shows up when the work is done.)

 Putting in the new countertop.

Why the floor needed to be replaced.

Maggie and Silas helping Daddy.

Maggie and Silas tearing up flooring in the pantry with crowbars.

 Did we mention that the kitchen attaches to a hallway with a bathroom and a laundry closet?  When you give a moose a muffin...

So up comes the flooring in the bathroom and in the hallway and in the laundry closet.

And since we've got all of that ripped up, why don't we just widen all the doorways so that wheelchairs can go through them more easily?  So the bathroom doorway was widened by about six or eight inches, and we happened to have the wider door from the kitchen to replace it so that we didn't need to buy one.  And the kitchen door?  Don't need one.  Blew out the doorways of both entrances to add width.  Art also lined the corners with trim so that the wheelchair bumblers could bumble without ruining the walls.  

Art and Maggie putting down the new flooring.

 Silas helping too. 

Maggie and Silas tearing up nails from the floor in the bathroom.

I feel like I had more pictures but can't find them now.  Let's just fast forward to the finished -- or semi-finished - product.  (There are still a couple of finishing touches to be done.)  

 Here, you see, the lovely floor.  I love it.  

And what is this?  A double sink?!?!  We're so fancy now.  Next thing you know, the children will all be wearing shoes!

Look more closely.  My, that's a lovely backsplash.  Subway tile.  Who could have done such a lovely, lovely job on that backsplash?  Looks almost professional!  Why thank you, that was me.  Lovely work, if I say so myself.

My helper.

Enlarged doorway.

And another enlarged doorway.

 Well I am sure there is more than one thing I forgot to mention.  But when the bathroom was torn up, and the kitchen, and the fridge pulled out, then it was noticed that we needed to get back behind the wall of the fridge, which is accessed by demolishing a wall behind a coat closet under our stairway.  Now we are enlarging that area into a storage area, but while it was open, Art created this inset shelf in the bathroom.  The bath is a half bath, and pretty small, yet still needs to accommodate wheelchairs not only to enter, but to close the door.  Any place where we can inset or remove things in the way, is a benefit.  He did a great job.

 Well who mitered and cut all of that beautiful quarter round you ask?  Well, thank you.  Me again.  Nice job!

Laundry closet.

And I'd like to say that's the end of the repairs and remodeling but anyone who owns a house knows, there is never an end.  The Honey-Do list is as long as ever, and we have many things left to work on after we finish finding Art a job, and Hannah a husband, and get everyone medically stable for at least more than one day.  One thing at a time...



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Snowy Day... It's Better!"

 Well here is what I found when I opened the front door early Thursday morning.  No school today!

 When the sun came up, we went out to explore.  Everything was completely covered in white.  A beautiful, pristine snow... so pretty.

 Our neighborhood looked like a Christmas card.  It was magical.

Speaking of so pretty....

 Our back yard.

 Levi so happy!

 This is the first time since we have lived here (nine winters) that we had some really good, deep packing snow -- snowman making snow! 

 A minion eye, and some crazy hair.

 I can never resist getting out in the snow with them  It always brings back lots of memories of playing in the snow as a kid.  Except my kids are all playing together and I love that.  It's a lot more fun to make a snowman when you're not the only one doing it!

 My lovely girl and me.

 Then we went out front to do some sledding.  The snow was not nearly as slippery as the little bit of snow we had the week before.  It was wet snow, and not great for sledding, so they kids found their neighborhood friends and built forts and threw snowballs and came in rosy and breathless hours later. 

 Levi came to me to tell me he saw a white dog in the chicken coop!  Hooray for Levi!  He saved the chickens!  I don't know how our neighbor's dog got in there, but she was there and I chased her out.  We are down to three chickens, and the two that were out were pretty shaken up.  I could tell that Sugar-Pie had probably been mouthed by the dog a big, as she was all wet and her feathers are flustered.  The dog did not mean to hurt them; I think she was just curious and playing with them thankfully.  If she had wanted to hurt them, they'd be dead.

So we brought the two of them inside and gave them a warm bath, and calmed them down.  I blew them dry and fed them warm corn, and then they were all fluffy and happy again.  The third chicken, Cauliflower, is sitting on some eggs now and never came out of her nest, so she was fine.

 The cats are always curious of the chickens, but don't seem to have any animosity towards them. 

 All clean and safe and dry and warm.   Time to go back to the coop!

 We took a neighborhood drive, amazed at every turn at the beautiful, snowy landscape God had made.

 Our house.

Kiki was tickled to have Ruby choose her for a snuggling spot.  Usually Kiki does not hold still well enough for the cat to want to sit with her. 

 Snow cream.  With sprinkles of course.

 Best friends.

 Some snow sculpting.  Eden made Thor's hammer.

 Isaac made Stone Henge.

 And Si and Maggie made a Triforce from Zelda on a pedestal. 

 Maggie's window garden.  She started her own little collection of seeds and pots a year or so ago.  She takes care of it very well, and it is all her own idea.  We found the shelf by the roadside and she took it home and cleaned it up for her plants.  She seems to be the only one in the house who can keep indoor plants alive.  I plan to let her take over the garden this year in the back yard.  She has a natural interest in this, and whether it is plants, or chickens, or her bedroom, she always takes good care of her things.

The snow is mostly melted now.  March came in like a lamb and it has been beautiful so far.  Only a few more weeks until Spring!

Micaiah is in the hospital again.  When he came home from his colostomy surgery, he was put on hemodialysis for a few weeks until his colostomy healed up and he could go back on the peritoneal.  But the hemodialysis turned out to be very hard on him, and he was not tolerating it well.  His blood pressure would crash, and he would throw up and have dizziness and headaches as his heartrate spiked.  They could not get enough fluid off of him, and finally decided to admit him back into the hospital to give him the dialysis he needed while weaning him back onto the peritoneal dialysis.  They expect him to be released in a couple more days, and we can get back to our normal.  In this case, he is not in any pain or discomfort in the hospital, so he is quite content, and getting spoiled by the nurses.  He is in good spirits and is happy to be going back on the peritoneal dialysis.  

We ask for prayers for Art's job.  Once again, he is faced with a situation where a company merger has eliminated his department.  It's scary enough when your husband loses his job, but when he is the only one making money in the family, and you have nine kids in the house to support, and a whole lot of medical stuff that must have insurance to take care of, it is a little disconcerting to say the least.  The timing here, in my perspective, seems especially poor.  But we are leaning into God and trusting that there will be a good outcome.  Art has some options and ideas, and we will see what happens over the next few weeks.   Please pray.

There are many things going on, stressful things, hard decisions... I would say life has brought me to my knees, but I was already on my knees.  As Churchill said, "If you're going through hell, keep going."  That's the only choice anyway.  People often say how "strong" I am.  I want to write more about this later, but I think to myself, "What would NOT being strong look like?"  Am I strong because I get up every morning and do the best I can with what I have to work with?  That I do the best I can for my kids?  What would be the alternative?  What would it look like if I were NOT strong?  Would I be curled up in a fetal position crying on my bathroom floor?  Well come over sometime!  You might see just that.  We keep getting up, and we keep doing what we feel is right, and we keep trusting God, and we keep waiting.  I see people handle more than I do, with much more grace and dignity.  But each day, I do the best I can.  It's not how I would like it to be, and I wish I were made of tougher stuff, but that's how that one went.  And I realize things could be worse, but like Calvin said:

Pray for us.