DIY

Time flies.

Well, I realize that I have not posted an update in more than a month, and I feel guilty about that, so let me explain.   We have been, almost without pause, spending every free moment working on directly, or planning for working on the “new” house.   Our contractor helped our budget quite a bit by allowing us to serve as a subcontractor.  Michelle and I installed all the hard flooring surfaces in the house, the majority of the light fixtures/fans, and also served as the painting contractor.  In relate-able terms, Michelle and I installed approximately 1300 square feet of tile, and laminate flooring.  Michelle painted the entire first floor (1300 sq ft) and I scrapped and painted the deck.  I have also been building doors for a storage area in the car port. (One is complete and installed thanks to help from my brother)  So, I hope you will cut me some slack about having been MIA for more than  a month.  Today, in fact, is the “final inspection” for all the contract work that has been done.  That does not mean that we are finished with all the things we need/want to do prior to moving in, but it will take some degree of the pressure off.   Deadlines make for long days.  Last week I was up at 5:50am every day, and worked at my paying job, left there, went home, changed clothes, and then worked at the house until at least 9 every night.  That is not something I recommend that any of you do.   The worst part of having to do that, was that I got very little “Logan time’.  I missed that.

Saturday, Michelle needed uninterrupted time to get about 800 sq ft of floor grouted.  So I was on Logan duty.   The little guy and I had a good time.  I enjoyed his request to have me pull him around in his wagon.  We loaded up the wagon with his bubble machine and I pulled him up and down the driveway for probably at least an hour.  I’m sure we looked like a scene that was cut from Willie Wonka with the trail of bubbles floating after our little caravan.   I introduced him to the fun of picking a dandelion and blowing the seeds off.  (yeah, I’m not a control freak about the lawn)  I gently steered him away from a fire ant mound. (I took care of them later)  We played on the deck, him riding his tricycle around the bubble machine and I watched and every once in a while scraped a loose flake of paint.  He amazed me again, when we both got a little hot and decided to go inside and cool down.  I took him up to his room where we had a portable crib set up.  We played for a bit, and then I asked if he was tired.  “Yes.”  Do you want to take a nap? “No.”  Less than 5 minutes later, “Daddy, I go nite nite.”  That is pretty clear.  I put him in the crib, covered him up, and he slept for 90 minutes.

Long story short, I really enjoyed spending time with my son on Saturday, and we made up for some lost time by having some real quality time.  I’m very conscious of that balancing act.  I think all parents do something as a reaction to their own upbringing that they found wanting.  For me, my father was a wonderful man, a great provider, and certainly knowledgeable about many things, but I wish he had spent more time with me when I was young.  I think that is one of the advantages to being a little bit older than most people with young kids.  I’ve already done the career focus time, and my marriage is strong and stable and established. (we celebrated 20 years of wedded bliss early this month) So, I WANT to spend time with my son.  I WANT him to look forward to spending time with me.  I want to be someone he enjoys spending time with because I know that sometime in the future I will be the dad who simply doesn’t understand and could never understand his teen angst.  Although it is hard to even imagine that kind of thing from our little guy.

All in all, the whole new house undertaking is one we are doing in large part because we both feel like Logan will benefit in every way from having this as his childhood home.  He is only 2 now and likely will not remember the house where he lived for his first 2 years.  Instead of 1/3 of an acre in a subdivision, he will have 1.7 acres with trees, a creek, a barn, and plenty of space to play.  We have plans for a play area where I will build him a jungle gym type structure.  His room in the new house will be more than double the size of his present room.  I measured it yesterday.  18×13.  I think he will have enough room for toys for a while.  Michelle has found a really unique bed that gives the feel of sleeping in a tree house.  (it will have stairs not a ladder) Naturally it will be safe, but that kind of a big room gives us the opportunity for more creativity.  (yes, I will build that too.)

Until the next time.  And, as always, thanks for reading.

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Categories: Adoption, DIY, Happiness, New House, Parenting | Leave a comment

The honey do list.

Since the weather has turned more favorable to human habitation here in the south, I’ve been able to complete several items on the honey do list.  In the last month or so Michelle and I have replaced every picket on our privacy fence, and finished updating our fireplace.   As you might imagine, having projects such as these going on means that Logan has been exposed to a number of different things an average almost 2 year old probably has not seen;  primarily, a number of tools the average homeowner doesn’t own.  Also, as you might expect, having several projects going on means multiple trips to the local Home Depot.  He has accompanied us there most times we’ve gone, and now seems to recognize the store from the outside and appears to enjoy it.  This suspicion was confirmed this past week when I took him in and Michelle and I went different directions to look for things.  I took Logan with me, and we went to the tool section.   As we walked, finger in hand, and turned the corner into the tool aisle, his eyes lit up, and he said, “OOOOH….TOOLS!”

That’s my boy.

 

 

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Halloween and a growing vocabulary.

Logan had two Halloween costumes this year.  He wore one to an organized event our town has just for kids.  For that one he was an owl, and the costume was entirely hand made by Michelle.  The second one was a hand me down, but one we were honored to have.  It was a cowboy outfit, but it was made of actual leather, vest, chaps, and lasso included.  He looked adorable in both, but it was easier for him to walk in the cowboy outfit, so he trick or treated in it.

Logan in his owl costume, hand made by Michelle.

 

He continues to amaze me almost daily.  We were preparing to go somewhere as a family the other day, and I took Logan out to the car and got him all strapped in, and I got in the driver’s seat.  We were waiting on Michelle to join us when the garage door started to go up.  Logan saw this, and even though I’ve never tried to get him to say it or teach him the word, he said, “Garage?”

He has started to say a few simple sentences as well.  When asked “Logan, where is Papa?” He replies with, “I don’t know” complete with hand gestures and shoulder shrug.  He knows what it means because when you ask him about toys that he can’t immediately see, he does the same thing.   Not yet 2, and already grasping sentences.  Wow.

Just so I paint an accurate picture, he is starting to show signs of the terrible twos.  His favorite word right now is No.  He likes to throw a conniption fit when you suggest he do something, then once you relent, he asks for exactly what you suggested.  It just needed to be his idea.  Oh well, it is all part of the parenting experience, and I am still thrilled to be able to take that journey.

Categories: Adoption, DIY, Happiness, Parenting | Leave a comment

Some things never get old.

Logan has been strongly hit with allergies this past week.  I know it is allergies and not an illness because it happened to me at the same time with the same symptoms.  The thing that stinks is that because of his size and age he can’t take the same stuff I can to cope with the symptoms.  The end result is he hasn’t been feeling especially well.  On the positive side, that has rendered the magic of Daddy’s lap all the more desirable.   A couple of times he has gotten to that “over-tired” state and was just not happy no matter what we tried, until he cuddled up in the curl of my arm on my lap.    He managed to sleep for 2 hours that way and was restored to his normal happy self after his nap.   I never realized just what kind of sympathy pain/suffering parents go through.   I cannot even imagine what parents who have kids with disabilities or who require surgery must have to endure.  My heart goes out to them.

The good news is that the mold that was in the air has started to fade.  (no it isn’t the house, it is outdoors)  As a result, Logan and I are feeling better.

<Warning dramatic subject shift ahead, prepare accordingly>

I’ve decided that Michelle watches too much HGTV.  She has several projects lined up for me.  I’m working on shelves in the bathroom at the moment.  Tomorrow I will be working on creating a structure that allows her to hang three vertical panels of cloth and allows the panels to slide one behind the other.  In case you were wondering, this isn’t something you can buy at the local hardware store and slap up on the wall.   Noooo, that would be too easy.  Design Star Michelle has her resident carpenter and is putting him to good use.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the challenge of it and getting to spend some time in the shop.   I just fear the day I come home and she has ripped the fireplace surround off the wall and hands me a sketch and says, “Make it so!”   (Don’t be surprised when I write about just that happening in the near future)

New subject, Memphis Mayoral race, discuss.

There are 29 candidates running to replace the recently resigned mayor of Memphis.  Yes, I said 29.  They run the gamut from the current mayor pro- tem, to the mayor of the county where Memphis resides to the retired pro wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler, to the unique individual who calls himself Prince Mongo from the planet Zamodia (or something close to that planet name) I’m not kidding. Google Prince Mongo.  It boggles the mind.   At this point I am very thankful I do not live in Memphis, I don’t see this ending well.   If you would like a laugh, here is a link:

Categories: DIY, Parenting | 2 Comments

Repurposing

I haven’t written a blog post about a “green” subject in a while.  Michelle and I have been busy reusing, and repurposing cabinets that came from her parent’s kitchen.  They recently gutted and redid their kitchen, and graciously offered the cabinets to us.  We couldn’t make use of all of them, but we have found useful homes and purposes for everything we did take.  Storage in our master bathroom is, shall we say, minimal.  We have intentions to redo the whole bathroom, but we have to retire some debt first.  (adoption is expensive!) So, Michelle had the great idea to reuse a kitchen cabinet in the bathroom and have it mounted above the toilet and then I would build some shelves both for inside the cabinet and between the cabinet and the nearby walls. (9 inches on either side of the cabinet) Now before you assume that we just screwed a kitchen cabinet to the wall, let me tell you that NO project that involves my wife is EVER that simple. First she decided to paint it.  She did a fabulous job, and the design she came up with for the front evokes that spa like feeling.  When we first attempted to hang it, we realized that it was simply too deep. It was 12 inches deep and that really made it feel like you were sitting in a cave when you had to do your business.  So….what to do?  I got out the table saw and cut the back of it off!  It was a little more complicated than that, but it worked.  I made a new back for the cabinet, and mounted some pieces specifically so it would be strong enough, and it looks great!   We didn’t discard the back of the cabinet, because it is deep enough that I can easily make a spice rack or something else useful from it.  I also hung two cabinets in the laundry room.  They also required some trimming on the table saw, but they also turned out great.  What makes me really pleased with the whole thing is we kept a bunch of stuff from ending up in the landfill AND we ended up with cabinets that were much nicer than we could afford to purchase for where we used them.  Everybody wins!  So thanks very much Marvin and Donna!

On a completely different subject, Michelle got a call from some potential adoptive parents who were asking about The Adoption Center of Choice, whom we used.  This couple has had four failed adoptions….four.  They were calling to ask if it was true that the Adoption Center of Choice actually did not make us pay for the failed adoption we experienced.  It is true!  While I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to go through a failed adoption, going through it AND losing your money would make it even more painful.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think adoption is about money.  But, had we lost all our money with the first adoption, we simply would not have had enough left to do it again.  I was joking with Michelle the other day and said, “Well honey, I’ve always been a little different……our son was my mid-life crisis.”  For what we spent I could have had a cool sports car, or hair plugs, and liposuction, or any number of more typical male mid life crisis things.  I’m here to tell you guys, my way is the way to go.  No car, girlfriend or medical procedure can give you as much joy as you experience when you come home and he sees you and starts to wave his arms and legs and squeal with delight as you come to say hi and pick him up.  If I could bottle that feeling and sell it, I’d never have to work again.

Categories: Adoption, DIY, Environment, Parenting, Recycling | 1 Comment

Quick update

As you may have guessed, we did not hear from the adoption agency on Friday.

We spent today avoiding the Memphis heat and working on a light box.  If you think about the box a doctor flips on and then sticks an x-ray in front of it to view the film, you have the basic idea of what we’re trying to build.  A box that emits light.  Of course, the intent is for it to be beautiful and artistic, so it won’t be a white metal industrial looking thing.  The one we are making for our own home is the prototype and the front panel will feature wood with cut outs inset with stained glass making it look like bamboo.  Hopefully it will provide a nice accent light above the couch.  We are both pretty proud of our work so far. (I can say that because I’ve helped. )  If it turns out really cool when we’re all done, maybe I’ll post a picture of it.

Keep us in your thoughts.

Thanks.

Categories: Adoption, DIY | 1 Comment

An eventful week.

Call it what you will, but it seems as though forces larger than Michelle and I are involved in this little adventure of ours.   The adoption agency called Wednesday to ask if we would allow ourselves to be considered for a child.  They don’t normally call us so as to avoid the whole roller coaster of emotions phenomenon that goes on when you know your profile has been submitted to a birth mother.  In this case we were called for two reasons 1) there is no information about the father, and 2) the baby is bi-racial.  The only one of those two that concerns me is that there is no info on the father.  The child’s mother was dating this man, and the relationship has since ended.  That is some pretty sketchy info upon which to base a major life decision, but there are other mitigating circumstances I have yet to share with you my good reader.

Something about the whole proposition felt better when we were told that the birth mother is in Indiana.  The birth mother also has another child who does very well in school.  The birth mom has also been receiving proper pre-natal care, and we have no reason to be concerned about any drug use.

This whole experience thus far has been a lesson for me in learning to make decisions based upon what information I have rather than my norm which would be to gather as much information exists on the subject, and read it all before even considering the decision.  Normally that is a pretty reasonable way to conduct your life, but the flip side to doing that is you tend to ignore gut feelings and intuition in favor of facts.  When you have fewer facts and your intuition is rusty, it makes things a bit challenging.

I do have to say that the whole thing taking place in Indiana gives me a bit of a warm fuzzy.  The fact that the mom’s other child is doing well in school is a good thing. This time we’re not dealing with premies, drug use, schizophrenia in the family, none of those things.  Whew.

As with all the other times this has happened, nothing is assured at this point.  We have simply granted permission for our profile to be submitted to this birth mother.  The baby is due August 22nd, and is a boy. The agency told us we might expect a decision as early as today 8/1/08

It has been an eventful week. A fraternity brother of mine came to visit (Flounder for those of you who know and care) and brought his two boys (13 and 11). The younger turned 11 on Wednesday, but evidently the Memphis heat got the better of him and he spent the evening getting sick, so his birthday festivities were postponed. On Thursday we all went to my favorite BBQ place here in Memphis, the Germantown Commissary. Eleven year old kids are seldom calm and sedate, and this little guy was no exception, but his fidgeting caused him to whack his tooth on the side support of a metal chair and chip his front tooth. Somehow I don’t think he will have a particularly fond memory of his time in Memphis. Flounder and company departed this morning, just before our heat index is predicted to hit 110. Coward. 😉

Other items of interest: I have been encouraging Michelle to get back into her painting / drawing / insert artistic activity here. She has in the past year painted more than in the previous 17 years we have spent together. I’ve been impressed by all of it, but of course she is her own biggest critic. Well, she must be enjoying it and think it is at least passably good because she has started moving forward with plans to participate in the Collierville Mulberry festival this October by having her own art booth. She plans to have paintings, and, if it works out, at least one possibly several light boxes. (basically a piece of art illuminated from behind.) In my opinion she is at her best when she is engaged in some artistic pursuit. She enjoys doing it, and I am ridiculously proud of what she creates. So, even if this little adventure is not a commercial success, there are other ways to determine worth.

Lastly, we are kicking around the idea of building a “living wall”.The back of our home faces south and gets remarkably hot in the summer time. The idea of a living wall is to construct an aesthetically pleasing support that allows us to mount living plants vertically.Picture a raised garden bed and then mentally stand it on end and you sort of get a visual of what we intend.The idea is to plant drought tolerant plants in it and include some sort of automated watering system. Why do this you ask? Well, our bedroom is on the south side of the house, and it gets mighty warm in the summer. If we put the living wall outside our bedroom and constructed it so that it was big enough that it provided shade for the brick of that south side wall, then our a/c bills would be reduced, the heat transfer from the bricks would be reduced, and we’d have done something kinda snazzy. As I said, we are in the idea stage, but I thought it was a pretty cool idea and so I toss it out there for your consideration. Discuss.

Thanks for reading.

Categories: Adoption, DIY, Environment | 2 Comments

Update May 8th

Well it seems that our efforts to make our home presentable paid off.  The social worker came and went and didn’t have any reactions that caused me to think she was horrified or frightened by anything she saw.  Alby and Duffy were the wonderful ambassadors of canine behavior that we have come to expect from them.  Qwerty the cat made an appearance that made him seem like was actually a good fellow. (his favorite hobby is beating the bejebbers out of our other cat.) The last thing on the to do list is to get fingerprinted, so I’ll get that done here shortly and then the waiting will begin in earnest.

On a positive note, the social worker, Penny, was absolutely not a fan of aquariums….until she saw my planted tank.  She was amazed by the balanced little ecosystem in a glass box.  It wasn’t looking its best because some of the plants are growing so quickly that they needed to be trimmed back, but she was impressed.  So, for what its worth our little menagerie was not entirely off-putting.

Weather permitting we will get our huge trellis installed this weekend. Michelle needs to finish with the second coat of paint and then we can put it in place.  It is large enough to have its own gravitational field.  Home Depot doesn’t have off the shelf trellises that are 9.5 ft tall and 5 ft wide, so Michelle and I are kinda proud of our creation.  It turned out pretty nice.  Maybe I’ll take some pictures for friends and family who wonder what I do with all those tools I buy.

Lastly, I want to toss out there for any of you who care that there is a lot of stuff we normally throw away that is recyclable.  Sure, most of us recycle our aluminum, glass, and plastic, and maybe newspapers.  Did you realize that cardboard is recyclable?  All the boxes from the food you prepare, the toilet paper tubes, the boxes you carry stuff home from Costco or Sams in….all recyclable. It doesn’t have to be corrugated cardboard to be recyclable.  Some people don’t realize that fruit and vegetable cans are recyclable.  Of course, not all services collecting recycling are the same as to what they will and will not accept, but most have that list posted online.   Spend a minute googling your recycling service and read what they will and will not accept.  Just a few quick facts to help convince you it is worthwhile.

Material Type     Energy Saved by Recycling vs Initial Production

Aluminum                                         95%

Glass                                                 30%

Plastic (all resin types)                      70%

In California recycling statistics from January through June of 2007 reflect that 3.64 million aluminum beverage containers were recycled.  This saved 1.9 MILLION barrels of oil, or the equivalent of 183,000 passenger cars removed from the roadways.  In this day and age of $3.50 gas and heavy dependence on foreign oil recycling is a way of showing your patriotism, helping do your part, and maybe, just maybe helping yourself to feel just a little bit better.  So, when you think that your little bin on the roadside doesn’t matter…..it does.

Thanks for listening to my rant.

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Trying new things.

Sometimes you just have to confront things that make you anxious.  This past weekend I had big plans to get several home projects completed.  Well, I got two done, but only one was on the list.  Don’t you just hate it when you walk into the kitchen and there is a puddle of water on the floor and the carpet in the adjoining room is wet?  Me too.  So, I got the chance to confront a DIY project that has always been one that I had avoided, plumbing.  A day and a half, and a few dollars later, I can cross plumbing off the list of things that intimidate me.  Just like most things, when you have the proper tools, it isn’t terribly difficult.  I was able to solder 14 joints, and cut and fit a number of pieces of pipe to repair a pinhole leak in a pipe feeding the kitchen sink.  (it just HAD to be smack dab in the center of a T joint)  My point in all this is that we all have things we avoid doing, or maybe even are afraid of doing because we have a preconceived idea that we just can’t do it.  Make this a week where you do something that scares you.  I did, you can too.  It is a really good feeling once you put something like that behind you.

PS.  I didn’t say it was pretty, but it doesn’t leak.

D

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