...because everything is funny when it's happening to someone else!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Everybody Lived


We're back at Gilligan's Island, as of last night.  Had a fun, busy, stressful, exhausting Christmas, what with family get-togethers, Taj work and moving!

We did actually make it into the house on the 23rd and spent our first night there.  It felt pretty weird, especially since there were no window coverings in the whole house.  Kinda like sleeping in a fishbowl, but luckily there aren't any line-of-sight neighbors, so nobody got an unwelcome peep show.

We still have to move things and tweak it a bit, but most of our stuff is in and it's starting to look like something!  I've learned a few things, too:
--those bathroom light+fan+heater things are The Bomb! 
--3-year-olds do not transition easily into new homes, even after 6 months of prep work
--only crazy people move at Christmas

So, anyhow.  We survived.  We still need to move the remaining small stuff from Uncle Todd's Cabin, but we are close to being done there and that will be the end of the 3 utility bills per month!
Photos below, but first a Christmas recap:  Michael was given lots of great presents, all of which he liked and will enjoy.  Nobody went too overboard, which was wonderful.  Michael is already richly blessed with crazy family and bad parents, so we try not to overdo the gift-giving!

In addition to some other things, Shawn gave me a Keurig coffee maker, rendering me twice as caffeinated in half the time.  Obviously, nobody pointed out to him the faulty logic there.

Okay, so on to the Taj photos.  Bear in mind that it's still a work in progress!

Tank's Room:

We've got to put some blinds up in there and make better use of the space, but I thought the paint color turned out pretty nicely.  I have a vinyl tree decal to put in there, too, but ran out of time this trip.  Note the toy organizer we scored off a neighbor who was tossing it.  We won't tell Tank it's girly colors if you don't!


 The living room, after the tree was down.  Santa had the train running around the tree when Michael woke up on Christmas morning.

The den fireplace, which works perfectly (nice surprise there!)


Best pal/Gilligan next door neighbor came up on Monday and presented the boys with Big Guy and Little Guy caps.  Little Guy looks deranged...he may have been in the Keurig.

After a sizeable SNAFU on Thursday, we finally got the washer and dryer hooked up on Tuesday.  I did about 7 loads of clothes, since everything was dirty by then.  LOVE my new LGs!


I'll take more photos next trip, after we move things around to suit us better.
I'm just glad we made it in time to celebrate Christmas there.  Everything else will work itself out!

Hope you all had a great Christmas and that 2012 is very, very good to you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Tajmas!

Hope everyone is doing well and managing to finish up Christmas lists, etc.  The family unit is packing up here at Gilligan's Island, preparing for the ride to Mayberry for a Christmas to remember.

We'll get in sometime tonight, paint and work on floors tomorrow and tomorrow night and then...we hope...move our stuff on Friday, so that we can actually be in the Taj for Christmas!  Whew!  I'm tired just thinking about it.

Photos of Taj-y Merriness to come, but in the meantime, here's Tank with his Santa bubble beard, to wish you good tidings of the season: 

Time to get merry, fo' shizzle!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Not All About the Taj

While recent developments Taj-side have dominated my posts, other things do go on besides work on the house.

Last week, Tank went to see Santa Claus and performed admirably.  The only catch was that I had "coached" him for several days, talking about how he'd go see Santa, sit on his lap and say, "Cheese!"

Have I mentioned Tank's "Cheese!" face?  It's been with us for a year or so now, casting its blinding sunshine across all our family photos.  Observe the cheesiness:

I say CHEESE outside

I say CHEESE at Uncle Todd's Cabin

I say CHEESE while watching "Flushed Away"

I say CHEESE when Daddy and I get ice cream

I say CHEESE in a Santa hat

You get the idea.


 After the nice mall Santa photographer took extra sets of pictures for us, we gave up and selected a Cheese Face picture for this year's Christmas card.  Sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow.

And there you have it, folks. 

Your Christmas Cheese.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why I'm Probably Under Surveillance Right Now

Actual conversation between me and the Sainted Singing Plumber:

SSP:  That sure looks nice, but you can't move in yet.

Me:  Yeah, I know.  Clint, the Christmas-Stealing Grinch at the City of Mayberry said we had some more things to do...

SSP:  *Sympathetic noise*

Me:  ...and that's why I killed him.

SSP:  ????

Me:  He's buried under that stupid pool cover he insisted we get.  So, anyway, if you smell something, it's Clint.

SSP:  Um, yeah, well...ahem...we'll just get the rest of our stuff done by Friday and you'll be good to go.  You can dig up Clint and get him to sign off on it.

Me:  Cool.

SSP:  You ought to think about being a comedian.

Me:  It's cute that you think I'm kidding.

So Close I Can Smell It...

....or do I just really need a shower?!

Can you believe it?!  We are ALMOST DONE!  Okay, not almost done with the whole Taj, but almost done with the laundry list of things the City of Mayberry said we had to do to move in.  Woo to the hoo and then some.  I'd break out the champage, but I think moonshine would be more appropriate.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we primed walls and ceilings in most of the rooms and even painted the master bath and a couple of ceilings.  This past weekend, we loaded up a UHaul trailer with all the crap that's been in my dining room and took it to the Taj.  While we were there, we painted the living room, dining room, hall and Tank's bedroom. Photos, you say?  Why yes, I DO have some:

The living room floor, after I spent a whole day on my knees, scrubbing and waxing the dang thing.

Here's the living room, sort of set up.  Ignore the stupid non-working lights on the tree.  I am extremely hacked off about that, but whatever.  The Craig's List finds work well enough in there and you can't beat the price!

Here's Tank's room with its Bath Bubbles paint:

All in all, I'm pretty happy with our progress.  Naturally, I'd like to be farther along than we are, but I think that's just me.  My hope was to be able to spend Christmas at the Taj and it may in fact be possible, but it's going to be really close!

The master bathroom was completed today, despite a snafu with the sink faucet.  The Sainted Singing Plumber picked up a replacement I ordered online from Home Depot and got-er-done.  So to speak.

Shawn had been curious about the state of the dishwasher, so he asked if the SSP could check on it.  I got a texted photo of mangled wires and debris.  I texted back to ask if that was the dishwasher and it was.  His response to my inquiry as to whether I should buy a new one?  "Absolutely."  And we still don't have a fridge.  But, somehow I am still optimistic.  Probably because I have been driven stark raving gazonkers by this whole stupid process.

Oh, and Shawn is looking at jobs in the Greater Mayberry Commuting Area.

Oh, dear.

More later, once my poor, crippled, arthritic hands recover from all the trim paint!

Friday, November 25, 2011

I Love Walls!

We have walls.  And ceilings.  I quiver with joy at the thought of all that lovely drywall.

The drywall went up late last week at the Taj, so we're priming walls and ceilings and hoping to get everything primed and at least the master bath painted before we leave this trip.  The tile guy is coming Wednesday or Thursday of next week, so once he's done, the Sainted Singing Plumber can set the toilet and vanity.  Since those are tight fits, we'll need to paint behind the toilet and behind/beside the vanity before they're installed.

Because all the walls had these crazy little cracks in the painted surface and a few legitimate plaster cracks, I've spent the last 4 months patching and sanding the other rooms, as well.  It is an on-going process, and extremely unpleasant:

Tank's bedroom, ready to sand.

So far, we have primed the master bathroom and Tank's bedroom and begun the sanding process in the living room, hallway and master bedroom.  More patching needs to happen on the master bedroom ceiling and then the sanding needs to be finished before we can prime everything.  I am beginning to think this is far beyond a two-man, three-day job!  We'll just have to do what we can and it may end up that we spend Christmas at Uncle Todd's Cabin once again and move to the Taj in the new year.  Sighhhhhhhhhhhh.

Photos later!

We've Been Sentenced....

And no, I'm not talking about the speeding ticket I got a couple of weeks ago, thankyouverymuch!  I paid my fine online (yay, technology!) and that's a thing of the past.

What I AM talking about is....talking.

Tank said his first sentences last week!

His first ever sentence was uttered when I went into his room as he woke up from his nap.  "Mama, I poo-poo," he said.  And yes, he had!

A couple of days later, I was getting ready to go somewhere and he decided that he'd like to play in the bathtub for a while.  So, he said, "I take a bath."  And to reward his talking, he got to take a LONG bubble bath!

We've waited a loooong time for more than one word to come out of that little beast, so this is HUGE!

Won't be long before he's completely humiliating me in public.  I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In sickness and in health, so long as we both shall renovate...

I'm back with a Taj Update!

Tank and I made it to the Taj late last Thursday afternoon and by Friday night, I was sick with whatever crud Tank had been generous enough to share with me.  As far as my getting anything done at the Taj, it was a wasted trip, since I only worked a little bit on Friday and then threw in the towel.   I spent the remainder of the trip taking decongestants, nursing sore ears and generally being a complete wimp.


The Sainted Singing Plumber had completed his part of the job by Thursday and on Friday, he had put the subfloor down, making the bathroom look like an actual ROOM again!  When I left yesterday, he had torn out the ceiling and was putting up insulation, in preparation for the drywall guys to come.

Tank double-checks the contractors' measurements.

The tub/shower combo is in!

Marly considers the options for the threshold.  She's leaning toward a wooden transition strip.

Tomorrow morning, the drywall starts going up in the master bath, as well as the living room, den and kitchen ceilings!  We're actually making noticeable progress and we're getting close to being able to paint and MOVE IN!

Shawn and I will head up to the Taj a week from tonight and work over the Thanksgiving break, then return the following weekend to move furniture (or that's the plan).


We've spent more money than planned, to have the drywall and subfloor done in our absence, instead of trying it ourselves, but I think in this case it was the right choice.  We're also leaving the floor in the master bath to a tiling pro and we plan to learn to tile in time to tackle the kitchen floor later on.  The goal now is just to finish the items on the city's list so they will okay us to move in.  So, we have to finish the bathroom and cover the pool and from there on, we'll be working on and living in the Taj.  No more months with 3 sets of utility bills!  Hooray!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It's the evening before my planned trip to Mayberry and...Tank has a cold.  Sigh.

We'll still make the trip, but I will likely not get any work done, as I can't paint with the Tankster underfoot and nobody wants to babysit a sick kid.  Shoot, I don't even want to babysit him and I love the little snotpocket!

When you're planning a renovation, these are the sorts of things that will happen constantly.  Little, seemingly insignificant things will turn themselves into fire-breathing dragon roadblocks from hell.  Not that I'd exaggerate or anything.

Well, we're still going to make the trip, since Tank is snuffly but still acting totally himself.  We'll see if my luck improves and I'm actually able to accomplish anything.  Next weekend, we'll all stay at Gilligan's Island and the weekend after that, both Shawn and I are taking a couple days off for Thanksgiving, so we're planning to get as much done as we can.  If I am able to do ANYTHING this trip, it will be a huge help, freeing up other projects for when both Shawn and I can be there.

It all hinges on the state of the Taj, more than anything.  If we're still a couple weeks away from drywall, there's no way we'll get done in time to move for Christmas, so it's a done deal.  If the drywall has been started, or is about to get started, there's a chance...just a chance...that we can pull this thing out of its nosedive and all live to laugh about it.


And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We're off like a terd of hurtles!

Have you watched "Property Brothers" on HGTV?  It's a show where two brothers (one a realtor, the other a contractor), work with couples to give them their dream home within their budget.  They take them to a home that has all their desires and is move-in ready.  Then, when the family has fallen in love with the place, they reveal the astronomical price tag.  Then, the contractor brother says he can give them all their wish list items--within their budget--if they will purchase a fixer-upper.

Anyway, what happens then is that the buyers purchase a run-down property and then the brothers fix it up...usually in a 4-8 week time period.

Yeah, that last part always cracks me up.

When we bought the Taj, we anticipated working on it slowly, bringing it back to its potential room by room, saving money for the next project before we embarked on it. 

The City of Mayberry had other ideas and dictated that we pay $50 for 90 days of temporary power and said we could not move in until they deemed the house to be up to code.  So far, we have paid the $50 fee twice, in addition to paying the monthly power bill.  And we still can't move in until the pool is covered and the plumbing and electrical pass inspection.  You'd think the city would rather have us there, working on the place, than leave it languishing in foreclosure/auction nowheresville, but city governments are funny that way.

So, month after month has dragged by, each with its own twists and turns.  The wrong roof.  The discovery that NO sink will fit in the hallway bath.  The Termite Surprise.

But it looks like we've turned a corner.  Ever since the plumbing work began, the whole darn thing has felt more doable somehow.  I mean, I knew we were making progress before, but getting the master bath, the absolute worst room in the house, put together again is making me feel optimistic.

Or maybe it's just the sugar high from Halloween.

And speaking of the 'Ween, here's Tank (almost) in his pirate costume:

He was ripping it off as soon as I got it on him.

Tank still wanted to participate and trick-or-treat like the other kids, so I grabbed his baseball jersey and cap from the local minor league team and rubbed some black eye makeup under his eyes.  He was happy as a clam with that costume:

That's my boy!

Well, that's it for now.  The next scheduled Taj trip is a week from today and I am waayyy too excited about seeing the progress that's been made!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Was Telling The Truth!

If you've doubted my tales of the Sainted Singing Plumber, let me set the record straight:

He is a saint, because he is not only putting up with my ignorance and indecision, but he is also very kind and patient about Tank being underfoot a lot


Yes, he does sing.  He's the one on the left:

So there!

Next time I'll tell you all about the secret life of the Very Nice Electrician.  But first, I have to make it up.

The Taj MaHoard

You know those people who seem to be effortlessly "together"?  Their hair is always smooth and styled, their Saturday work-in-the-yard clothes look better than what you wear to work, their houses never seem to get dirty?

I am SO not one of those people.

I love to have friends over, but I really like about an hour's notice, or a half hour, if I've been keeping up with the dishes and laundry.  I can't imagine the stress-free living I could enjoy if ALL the rooms in my house were clean.  AT THE SAME TIME.  I just got chills thinking about it.  A moment, please.


When I was a singleton, working full time and living in rented digs, I was pretty doggone neat and tidy.  My TV remote was always in the exact right spot on the coffee table and my kitchen was always spotless.  It was depressing.  A house that's scarily scrubbed and sanitized is a house that needs a good dose of life in it, if you ask me.

Now, all that is not to say that I have learned to love clutter.  Left to my own devices, I would probably hang approximately 2.4 pictures in an 8-room house.  Every table surface would be bare and I'd never have mail sitting on the end of the counter.  Shawn.  Ahem.

But somewhere along the way to becoming the mother of an insanely active 3-year-old, I let go of some of my housekeeping strictness.  Sometimes, you just gotta toss the toys in a basket and say that's good enough.  I can live with that.


This is just freaking me out:

This is the room formerly known as the dining room in the Gilligan's Island house.  It has become the cram-it-all-in holding pen for items destined for the Taj MaHell.  Here and there, we found some great deals.  Remember the sofa and love seat from Craig's List?  They're in there somewhere.  And then Shawn's friend Amy sold some of her dad's furniture after he passed away, which is where the amazing, huge wicker wingback chair came from, along with the two bedside tables and some other little things.

The big white dresser was a $10 find at last weekend's Gilligan's Island Yard Sale Extravaganza.

And then there's the 40-inch stove:

Better view:

THAT was a lucky find!  The stove at the Taj is an old 40-incher, which apparently was common in the 1940's and 50s, but nowadays, any stove over 36 inches seems to be a professional (read: OMGexpensive) model.  One day, I was trolling the Internets and checked out local appliance listings on The Craig.  Lo and behold, somebody had a 40-inch stove up in there!  It wasn't the stainless, smooth top model I'd decided to splurge on and pay $1700 for....but it was WAY newer than what I had and only cost $250.  And it was literally just down the road from my house!

I took Tank with me to look at it and he so utterly charmed the seller that we got the stove for $200 PLUS free delivery to the house!  And the guy threw in some really neat kids' books for Tankie.  After a little love (new drip pans, new elements), it's looking pretty good.  A lot better than the current, rusty dinosaur at the Taj, so I am all kinds of happy.  I think the non-stick griddle and the additional 12-inch oven will be a lot of fun to play with.  Heck, I might even learn to cook!  Or not.

But....dayum.  I am ready to get all this stuff out of my dining room, especially since it's open to the hallway and the front door and everybody from the mailman to random Boy Scout popcorn salesmen get an eyeful and go away thinking I belong on "Hoarders."


The good news is that the Sainted Singing Plumber is making lots of progress at the Taj and before too long, I think we'll actually be able to put up some drywall and paint.

And then I'm going to sit on my big rear end and watch a full season of "Hoarders." 

Because, obviously.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Well, of COURSE there's termites!

As you can tell my the post title, the Taj MaHell just keeps on givin' the love!  Sainted Singing Plumber waved me over Monday and pointed out a termite column going up the brick foundation.  Before he re-floors the bathroom, the Termite Dude has to come whip some munching insect butt.


$1109 for the treatment and preventive measures against future house-nomming termites.

THAT was not in the budget.

Oh wait...there was a budget?!

Anyway...just another setback on the road to fabulousness.  The good news is, the local pest control peeps are going to take care of it tomorrow, so the Sainted Singing Plumber doesn't have to leave the floor out and invite Who-knows-what to move in to the house while we're not looking.  "Oh, hey!  A skunk in my shoe!"

We're back on Gilligan's Island and trying to coordinate Termite Annihilation from 200 miles away, but it'll get done. 

And best of all...this weekend is HALLOWEEN.  HALLO-FRICKIN-WEEN!  My favorite holiday, because all my adult life, the 'Ween is the only fun time of the year I didn't have to pack up and head home from wherever my gypsy butt was camped at the time.  Since we moved to Gilligan's Island, our house has become the grown-up Halloween destination.  We live on a tiny island that is very safe and quiet.  Our house is on a circle, so the parents come by and sit on the porch for a drink while the kids walk around the circle, then come back for the parents.  You can do the whole trick-or-treat thing on foot (or golf cart, if you roll like that).  Tank's going to be a pirate this year, if I can make him wear a costume.  I have great photos of his second Halloween, half in and half out of a costume, red-faced and screaming.  Kodak moments, people.

Ah, well.  Time to get back to the grind.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Well, hi there!
I have a few updates and I will start with the most important:  Josh's lymphoma is the "good" kind, with a 90% success rate.  YESSSSSSS!  Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers, since the wonderful survival rate is only part of the story...he still has a tough time ahead.  Today, Josh had surgery to place his chemo device in his chest.  He's doing well and we're all pulling for him.  Go, Joshua!

In the face of what my friends are enduring, work on the Taj is pretty insignificant.  I am lucky to be fighting unwieldy bathroom vanities and budgetary concerns...and I know it. 

We are making progress, though.  We decided to go with the less-expensive fiberglass tub and shower combo, instead of buying a tub and tiling above it.  Time constraints and inexperience convinced us to take the simpler route.  We found one we liked at Lowe's and bought it, along with some tile that was on sale.  I couldn't find a good photo of what we got (Aqua Glass Eleganza set), but I did find these images:

You can't really tell much from the pics, but the shower surround has molding around the top that dresses it up a little.  It was $50 more than the plain-Jane versions, but if you're going to be staring at it while you soap up and rinse off, you might as well like the view.

More news to report, but that will have to wait, as Shawn has demanded brownies.  And I want some, too!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Not that anybody deserves to be where my friends Al and Trish are right now, but I can't think of many people who LESS deserve it.

Al and Trish's son Joshua was just diagnosed with lymphoma...we don't know the type yet, so details are sketchy.  Josh is a real trouper and he's holding up very well...teenage boy and all that.  He's a bright (101.4 average at a tough private school), devout young man who has never known a day without the love and support of a truly amazing family. 

I sat next to Trish at choir tonight and she wept quietly while we sang songs of praise.  Every once in a while, I could hear her voice, always soft but now more faint than ever, breathing out words that were as much a prayer as a song.  Every time she is quiet and still, I am sure her mind goes to a place she would rather not visit.

She's taking her oldest child to a reproductive specialist tomorrow to have sperm frozen.  Just in case Josh's treatment prevents him from being able to conceive a child years from now.  Trish tries to laugh when she says, "We're savin' grandbabies."  She's not very convincing, not when you see that she cried her mascara off about 12 hours ago.

Please pray for Josh and for his family.  Pray a prayer that I'm sure they never imagined praying:  Please let this be the good kind of lymphoma.

Please let Josh kick this thing's butt.  And go on to live a beautiful life and give his mama lots of grandbabies!

JOSHUA:  Hebrew, "God rescues."

Wallace Coming Out of My Gromits

Just a quick note to report that I am still sane.  Okay, "sane-ish."

The thread of my sanity was saved when Tank allowed me to take "Veggie Tales' Ultimate Silly Song Countdown" out of the DVD player and replace it with Wallace & Gromit.

If he ever starts to talk, it'll  probably be with a British accent, but I think I can handle that better than repeated renditions of "The Hairbrush Song."

At least Wallace and Gromit throw in some humor for the grown-ups from time to time.  I always crack up in "Curse of the Wererabbit" when the constable says it was "a case of arson...someone arsin' around!"

"Well done, lad!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dude, Where's My Floor?!

Well, the Taj continues to surprise, what with its little quirks and idiosyncracies and....what's the word I'm searching for?  Oh, yeah...the house is nutballs.

The plumber, who has yet to be nicknamed because he may in fact be too amazing for a nickname and may instead just get a halo, came by on Saturday to go over a couple things.  He's thinking he can start later this week, but he needed the floor out of the master bath.  He quoted us $250 to take out the floor and remove the debris.  Like an out-of-body experience, I heard me say to the guy, "No problem."  Inside my head there was that cavernous echo from horror movies, so it sounded more like, "Noooooo proooohhhhhbleeeeemmmmmmm."  And then there was demonic laughter from somewhere.

Fabulous Niece Rebecca agreed to stay at Uncle Todd's Cabin while Michael napped and so Sunday afternoon, I got to swinging the sledgehammer.  Given that the floor was already falling apart, I thought this job would be easy-peasy.  Oh, SO not true!  There were four layers to take up...2 layers of vinyl flooring, then a layer of crumbly pressboard-type stuff, then a thin layer of plywood.  It was a huge mess and most of it came up in about 6-onch sections, which meant many, many trips to the curb with the world's tiniest wheelbarrow.  And spiders!  (You have to say it like an old Jewish woman in New York...SHPEYDUHS!)  Egads, there were spiders and crickets and quite possibly dead bodies, but I was not about to go spelunking under there to see.

In the end, I only got the floor completely off the main part of the bathroom.  The smaller room to the left, that had previously housed the toilet and shower, still has the plywood, but the other 3 layers are gone.  And the toilet is gone.  THAT was a job for one tired chick on her own!  The toilet is now sitting in the middle of the master bedroom floor, because that is the precise spot I was standing in when I decided I couldn't carry a toilet another step:
Gives new meaning to "en suite" doesn't it?

Well, I didn't get it all done, but I got most of it, so I guess we'll save some of the $250.  We'll have to cut more elsewhere.  The good news is, we're all going back to the Taj this weekend, so maybe Shawn and I can get more done.

In the meantime, here's the bathroom, waiting for the plumbers to come and move EVERY SINGLE FIXTURE:

We're making progress.  I have to remind myself of that.  Sometimes it just has to get worse before it gets better....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Taj -- Now With More Flushing!

We have WATER!


You have no idea how huge this is!  This afternoon, the fabulous Diamond Dave (Farm Maven's hubby) came by the Taj and helped (and by 'helped' I mean pretty much single-handedly) install the toilet.  I had to run around a bit and tighten the caps on the old sink lines and the old shower has a steady drip, but everything went very well.  I have a bucket under the old shower head and the plumber should be able to start soon, so bye-bye old shower, anyway.

I could have CRIED, I was so happy to have running water again.  I've been hesitant to tackle skim-coating or painting without cleanup capabilities.  Now, things look more do-able.

The new vanity has been shimmed into place, but I still need a small 1 1/2" PVC extender to hook up the drain line.  It's not the look I necessarily wanted (I still mourn the loss of the fabulous Kohler pedestal sink), but it will be a functional bathroom for Tank and for guests.  THANK GOD.  Honestly, there were moments (many) when I didn't think I'd make it.

But all the news isn't sunshine and roses.  The Farm Maven and Co.suffered a significant blow to the funding for their second adoption when an unexpectedly high tax bill arrived.  It's really sickening to know that almost half your income goes to fund the lifestyles of those who won't work and that's why you work your tail off and you STILL barely make it.  Don't get me wrong, I know that there are many deserving recipients of government funds out there...I just think those folks are outnumbered by the ones who cheat the system simply because they don't want to work.  And now a child waits even longer for a loving family, so that another family can sit on their arses.  It just isn't fair.

Why I Should Buy Stock in Excedrin

It's going to be a good day.

If I tell myself that enough times, will it happen?

Yesterday was a challenge for me. Tank pushed my buttons in a BIG way and I reacted. By the time I put him to bed last night, it was all over and done and we had a good quiet-down time together, with prayers and teeth-brushing. As I went to bed myself a couple of hours later, I said aloud, "This day is over. Tomorrow is a different day, not a continuation of this one."

In addition to the challenges of single-parenting Tank while we're out of town, there are all the challenges of working the adoption agency job with a portable wireless system that tends to blink on and off at the worst possible times. And yesterday I had to deal with a VERY difficult prospective adoptive mom. She's one of those controlling types who thinks that the only reason the agency does things a certain way is because she hasn't shown us a better way. Sadly, the oftentimes bulky, inefficient way we operate is the best possible option, discovered after many, many trials and errors working with governments overseas. But Dr. Heifer, as she is known to me, refuses to follow the instructions we provide and instead strikes out on her own, gaily calling back over her shoulder that she knows a better way to get this done....and then she bombs. And when she bombs, she blames...ME. The very adoption consultant she wouldn't listen to in the first place. It's not just me; I spoke with one of our Admin Assistants yesterday and she's been getting the same treatment from Dr. Heifer. At the end of the day, it's not about us all getting along, holding hands and singing "Kum-Ba-Ya" as the sun slips over the flower-strewn hills. It's about bringing an orphan to a loving family. I try to remember that. But then I think about how this woman must be as a mother and I wonder if we're doing this kid any favors.

I did come up this weekend to work on the Taj, but not a lot has happened as of yet. Two trips to Home Depot yesterday (the secon trip was when Tank sprawled out in the floor and screamed bloody murder because I made him leave the door mock-up section). I spoke with the plumber dude and he is dropping off what promises to be a jaw-dropping estimate this morning. Oh, and the tankless water heater arrived (thanks, Farm Maven, for being my storage facility). I bought some shims at HD and slid them under the front of the vanity and voila! It works much better with a bit of shimming! I think I'll trim the shims up today and finish installing the drain line. Diamond Dave has graciously offered to help me install the 125-lb toilet that Shawn just HAD to have. The goal is to--come hell or high water--leave here this trip with running water. Maybe I shouldn't have said "come hell or high water", huh?

Oh, well.

More later....

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Occupy the Taj Movement

I read this morning that the Occupy Wall Street protesters got a reprieve when they began cleaning up their own mess, so that the city of NY didn't have to shoo them all away and clean up for them. Am I the only person who thinks this whole mess is stupid? After a day or so, I haven't even paid attention to the news reminders that this "movement" is on-going. I look at the headlines, see something about the Occupy folks and go, "Meh" and move on.

The last time anything political was accomplished by sitting still, it was Rosa Parks. These peeps aren't Rosa Parks.

Well, at least they're sweeping up the fast-food wrappers and tags from their brand-new Birkenstocks, so the rest of the world can squeeze past them and get to work. Incidentally, even if I thought parking my big butt down on property owned by someone else was going to serve any purpose, I don't have the TIME. Because I have TWO JOBS. So that I can pay my bills and not have to cry to Diane Sawyer about how this country has failed me, because I can't afford cable TV and cigarettes. Y'all keep up your "protest"--I'll keep paying for your kids to go to school free, eat free and get free health care.

Argh. Enough of that.

Michael and I arrived in Mayberry yesterday evening and had supper with the Farm Maven and her brood. Rebecca had spent the day volunteering at the Mayberry Munchkin Farm, a small private school near their home. She enjoys grading papers and helping the teacher and reports that the kids are all sweet and cute. Sounds like she inherited her mother's teaching gene. Me, I no gots it. I don't learn well by verbal instruction; I learn by physically performing a task. The byproduct of that is that I don't explain things worth diddly. Also, I tend to make up my own words for things, which is why taking me to a tool store is an adventure. "I need one of those things that goes on the end of the drill and looks like a biscuit cutter." The guy begins looking for the items you'd use to actually make a biscuit joint, but what I'm talking about is a hole saw bit. To me, it looks like what Mama used to cut out biscuits. Sometimes, being me is a lot like traveling in a foreign country. I am forever being misunderstood, misunderstanding those around me and generally embarrassing myself.

I haven't ventured over to the Taj yet, but once Tank wakes up and gets his daily dose of Wallace and Gromit, I guess we'll check in. Need to call the plumber dudes, too. Busy day, but without busy days, nothing gets done.

Right, Occupy protesters?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Hopes Are Sinking

It's been a bit since my last post.  There's a reason for that:  I've been trying to formulate a post without using creative profanity.

See, the THIRD sink fits in the hallway bath, but it's not a great look.  Because the bottom tiles on the wall are coved, the vanity won't fit flush next to the wall and leaves a gap at the top, which shows the holes made when we un-mounted (dismounted?!) the old pedestal sink.  Should we cut a curve into the bottom of the vanity to make it fit better?  Re-do the tiles with holes in them to make the wall look better?

Or just down the World's Largest Margarita and forget the whole thing?

(Guess which one I'm advocating?)

Anyway...since I'm never one to leave well enough alone, I am heading back to the Taj on Thursday with Tank and I'll do some rear-end scratching and thinking and see what I can come up with.

I'm also going to look into skim-coating the plaster walls, since the estimate to drywall over them caused my spleen to exit my body.  (Spleen, come back...all is forgiven)

Okay, then...I'm off to do online research into skim-coating.  Hope your projects are going more smoothly than mine....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Tiled!

Hey there, mah peeps.

I did something today I've never done before.  No, I didn't cook a meal...ha, ha..you think you're SO funny.


So, you remember the gaping hole where the old gas heater used to be?

Okay, so last night, I carefully removed the partial tiles around the perimeter of the hole, that had been cut to fit around the heater.  I was left with this:

Attractive, yes?!  Um...NO.
But then I got to work.  Diamond Dave had some leftover green board from a tiling project for the Farm Maven, so I happily snatched up a scrap piece and some scrap lumber from his barn project.  The scrap lumber I made into cleats, one of which you can see in the picture above.  I needed the cleats to have something to screw the green  board to.

Home Depot sells individual 4x4inch tiles for $0.16 each.  I needed 25, which was only $4.  Sadly, the ancient tiles were just a WEE bit smaller, so each and every tile had to be carefully filed on the edges to make it all fit:

Yes, I DO have pink work gloves.  You got something to say about that?!

Well, after the filing was done and the backerboard put up, I got covered in mastic, so I didn't use the camera again.  (These one-woman operations leave a lot to be desired).  I did take a pic after I got the tiles up:

Another view....

Once they are good and set, I will grout them and give them a shot of the same epoxy that I put on the old tiles, to get them to match.  Ignore the funky holes above the sink connections...the new sink (if it fits!) should pretty much cover them.

It's not perfect by a long shot, but I was really proud of my first tile attempt.  I hope the tiles are still on the wall tomorrow!

Well, that's about it and I'm about done in.  Going to rest my poor tired hands...that filing was not fun!

Hope you have a great night!


The Tankster and I made the long drive to Mayberry yesterday afternoon.  We finally located a plumber who's willing to jump in and do all the Taj master bath fixture-moving, and there are a few things I need to do ahead of his arrival.

In other news, I'm still clutching my chest and stumbling around like Fred Sanford after getting the plumbing quote.  (Fred Sanford was this character in a show called "Sanford and Son" that was on in the late 70's and....oh, forget about it.  If you don't know who it is, my wrinkles are older than you are).

I shared my bloggin' with neighbor PJ back on Gilligan's Island and she sent me this link.  It's a good illustration of the way male and female brains work.  I have to admit, I'm siding with the male on this one.  Thanks, PJ!


More news and photos later, hopefully, once Tank wakes up and we get going.  In the meantime, I am sucking down coffee and hoping to get a LOT done!
Toodles.  Plus oodles of noodles.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bathroom Progress

Thought I'd add some photos of the progress in the hallway bathroom, so far.
Here's the bathroom before:

Blue toilet and sink, pink tile.  Well, except for where it was PAINTED WITH A BRUSH!

And now, the tub and tile have been refinished, using epoxy paint.  Here's a snap of the tub:

The shroud of plastic drop cloth is a good look, no?

And now, we have a non-pink ceiling and painted walls.  Some touch-ups will be required!

The hole where the old gas heater was. 

Well, that's about it for now.  More later!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Updates, I Has Them

While there hasn't been much blogging action lately, behind the scenes, things are FINALLY beginning to improve at the Taj.

The Very Nice Electrician has just about completed his part of the job.  He had to meet with me yesterday to go over ideas for an awkward bank of switches in the den that don't control anything.  Because the wall is cheap paneling, we were planning to paint it but that would mean having to put back the same number of switches (5) or else we'd have a big gaping hole where some of the old switches were.  We have decided to tear down the paneling and dry wall that little wall...which should work.

I spent most of this trip working on the hallway bathroom.  I am so desperate to get a toilet and a sink in the house.  I have to assume that will make working there slightly less--um, let's just say inconvenient!  The new vanity arrived and I picked it up on Friday.  I was able to set it up for a dry-fit finally tonight and...

it doesn't fit.


The spot where the sink goes is so tiny and awkward that we really had a challenge locating a sink to fit.  We hit the jackpot with the one we bought because it looked nice and had the funky shape to fit where we needed it to go.  And I think it would have worked, but for the old gas space heater in the wall next to the sink hookups.  It sticks out about an inch into the area needed by the sink base, so a true dry fit wasn't possible.  I have no choice but to see if The Gas Man, as he is locally known, can meet me at the Taj in the morning and take out the old heater and cap off the gas line to it.  If we are successful in removing the heater, I will be left with a hole in the wall that will require 25 tiles to cover.  Nothing is ever easy, is it?!

Oh, well.  If we ever do get it to fit, here's what the bathroom vanity will look like:

St. Paul "Valencia" model.  We got it at Home Depot.

I did get two coats of paint on the hallway bath ceiling and started cutting in the wall color.  I hope that tomorrow I can re-do one small patch area on the ceiling and finish the walls.  I'll have some ceiling paint left to touch up on the next trip, but it would be SO STINKIN' NICE to leave here--for once--feeling like things are getting better!

Well, it's late and I'm tired so it doesn't bear thinking about right now.  I'll do what I can tomorrow and then return to Gilligan's Island and my jobs.  Next weekend, Shawn, Tank and I will return and we will probably be able to do something significant to the house, so all will be well.

Goodnight and here's hoping your sinks all fit!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Acting Squirrelly

Holy crap, it's been one of those days weeks months years.

My adoption agency job has a tendency to be feast or famine with the amount of work and I am definitely FEASTING right now.  I don't have time to sit down lately, and that's on top of the other job and being Tank's ringmaster and zoo keeper full-time.

As if that wasn't enough, yesterday while Tank was watching a cartoon, he started some concerned-sounding grunts and pointed at the floor.  I was sitting on the sofa with the coffee table between us, so I stood up to see what he was pointing at.

Scooter the Schnottie had dragged in a dead squirrel and laid it on the area rug.  It was DISGUSTING...all holey and with bare, fur-less patches.  I had to go get the dustpan and the broom and I jabbed it with the broom handle (gag, gag) to get it onto the dustpan (gag, gag) and then hot-footed it out of my house, with the poor little thing flopping in a Very Dead Manner from side to side.  GAG.

As I bolted out the door with Angus the Late Squirrel, Shawn pulled into the drive and I ran up and shoved the dead squirrel in his face and said, "You shoulda gotten here 5 minutes ago!"  Then, I handed him the dustpan and went inside to wash my hands.  A lot.


And now my dog has Squirrel Breath.

Double yark.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Came, I Saw, I Taj-ed

We're all back at Gilligan's Island now, after spending the weekend in Mayberry.  We did some work at the Taj, but since yesterday was Tank's birthday, this trip was mostly about seeing family and celebrating the Big Boy turning THEE!

We had lots of fun with family on Saturday, when we had a small gathering for cake, ice cream and presents.  Shawn and I decorated Uncle Todd's Cabin with Spanish moss I brought from the yard of our church (with permission, I swear!!) and gators, frogs and turtles.  No snakes, though.  I know they live in the swamp, too, but Mama does not decorate with snakes.  I share Samuel L. Jackson's attitude about them.

Anyway, it was a great party and Farm Maven and I managed to create a passable gator out of yellow cake and chocolate frosting.  Farm Maven baked an oval cake, a large loaf pan cake and two small loaves and we hacked them to bits and pinned them together with frosting and toothpicks until we had a decent alligator. 

Tank got lots of great toys that he is still enthralled by...made the drive home very pleasant, except for the UNRELENTING NOISE of the Leapfrog Leapster that his daddy got him.  "K says kuh.  Kangaroo!"  "I says Imma throw that thing out the window in a minute!"

As for the Taj, we were thrilled to find that the Very Nice Electrician has done probably 90% of the work there.  Almost all the receptacles are redone, and nearly all the switches.  The new lights are installed downstairs, but we still need the new upstairs overhead lights run and a light in the living room, which currently has no overhead.  Very Nice Electrician has been swamped with work, so we had told him it was fine to fit us in as he could.  Looks like he has been doing that, and has done a great job.

We need to get the plumber to return our calls and then we'll be making some real progress!

While we were there this weekend, we did work some in the yard and I stripped the wallpaper of the hallway bath walls and began patching the plaster cracks in there.  Bit by bit, it's becoming more the house it has the potential to be.

Or maybe I'm just delirious from all the Gator Cake.

Til next time...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Of Mice and Mold

Howdy there.  How was your holiday weekend?  Lovely, I hope.  As for me and mine, we just kept up the crazy pace at the Taj, but we did get a lot done.  Now I just need a holiday from my holiday!
Today, we finished the demo on the master bath.  Well, we left what remains of the floor, but other than that, we took everything down.  There ended up being more mold than we'd thought, but now that we have a new roof, we should be good to go.  The damaged bits are going bye-bye and everything got a nice bleach bath in the meantime, cuz Mama don't "do" mold!

We also had to hack the old shower into bits and haul it out in pieces.  Underneath the shower "seat" we found a 2-foot-high pile of....leaves.  Dry, old leaves and twigs.  No sign of any critters having made that a nest, but it was definitely a strange discovery.  I'd rather find a stash of gold coins or an unknown Rembrandt, but no, I get leaves.


Grandmother (Shawn's mom) was Tank-sitting today, but he was not feeling it, so we ended up with a Very Helpful Boy on our hands.  I'm embarrassed to say, the kid handles a hammer better than I do.  I gave him one to bang on the floor with and he was a natural.  Darn those child labor laws!

After working, we cleaned up enough to be passable and went over to my sister the Farm Maven's for another WONDERFUL home-cooked meal.  Last night it was salmon croquettes (for Shawn) and homemade mac-n-cheese (for me), with home grown and home canned green beans and sauteed squash and onions.  Tonight we had roast beef with veggies, plus biscuits and gravy and vanilla ice cream with home made fudge sauce for dessert.  I am still so full I could die, but what a way to go! 

I admire the Farm Maven's culinary abilities, but I do not share them.  I'd probably like to cook if someone else cleaned up and went to the store for me.  Since that's not going to happen, though, I am not much of a chef.  I'm going to have to do better, though, because we really should be eating healthier than we are.  Just thinking about it makes me tired, though.  I TOTALLY understand how TV dinners came into existence.

Anyway, we did get a good bit accomplished this trip.  We're looking to leave Mayberry tomorrow after lunch, but we'll be back next weekend to celebrate Tank's 3rd birthday with family.  Hard to believe my little dude will be three!  Or, as he says it, "thee." 

Well, without further ado-be-doo, I'm attaching a few photos of the Taj in its current state.

Here is the master bath BEFORE:

Weird shower seat
Right-hand vanity with view of washer and dryer

And here it is NOW:

Where the right-hand vanity was

Where the washer and dryer were.

And, just because you've been so nice and asked so politely, here's a pic of the leaves under the shower:
You're welcome.

Well, you have a great rest of your weekend and I will be back here soon!

Friday, September 2, 2011

You Better Knock-Knock-Knock on Wood

(but not too hard, because the wood is probably water damaged or full of termites)

That sound you hear is me, beating my head against the wall.

It's been a long day at the Taj, my friends.  And by "long day," of course, I mean, "holycrapwhathaveIdonethisisthedumbestideaEVER."

For starters, we arrived last night to a Taj without electricity.  Ever the hopeless romantic, I assumed that meant that the Really Nice Electrician had killed the power to get started.  So, I wandered around with a weak flashlight and saw....nothing.

No electrical work.

We had intended to drag some junk down to the street for trash pickup this morning, but we didn't have enough light to do it and things were too dangerous with Tank running around anyway...there are nails, sharp broken boards and who knows what else, just waiting to kill us all.

This morning we learned that the City of Mayberry had cut off the power for non-payment.  Despite the fact that we signed up for automatic bill pay through Wells Fargo.  Apparently, their slogan of "Together, We'll Go Far" doesn't extend as far as Mayberry.  So, we had to go to the city utility office and pay $25 to get the power back on.  I'd like to mention that Shawn was having a duck fit the WHOLE time...so, THAT was fun.  Thank the Lord I just happened to have my checkbook with me.  I don't use checks at all anymore, but the City of Mayberry only takes cash and checks...no credit.  So, I dutifully wrote out the check for twenty-five-stinkin'-dollars while Shawn developed an ulcer.

Later, we got busy tearing out the @(#*%^ shower that tried to kill me on the last trip.  Behind the fiberglass shower we found a TON of mold.  Hooray.  Because we love mold and were SO hoping we'd find some.  The walls were already coming down to the studs, but I am still not happy with the mold situation.  We'll have to do everything cautiously, with the special masks and LOTS of bleach.

After those fiascos, we decided to do a dry-fit of the fabulous new-to-us pedestal sink, only to learn that it DOES NOT FIT.  The door opens into the bathroom and there isn't enough clearance.  The door won't open because the edge of the BEAUTFUL sink is in the way.  I could have cried. 

This was one of those days when nothing goes right.  We did get a good bit done late in the day, but it was a series of frustrations first.

Oh, well.  The Really Nice Electrician is coming next week, we hope, and from that point on, maybe the Taj will begin to get BETTER instead of just WORSE.

So far, it's a bust, but tomorrow is another day and I am sure things will look brighter.
Hope your day went better...