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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New bookcase

It started simply, as most things that turn into huge productions do.

I wanted a long, low bookshelf to replace the two hulking bookcases in our living room at Gilligan's Island.  I looked online at least weekly to see if anything was available in our price range.  Occasionally, I would find "just the thing" but it would be over $200 and that's just not in the budget, especially not to replace perfectly functional items with new ones.

Then, day before yesterday, Shawn and I went to Office Depot to pick up some things for my work.  We decided to just cruise through their office furniture selection and saw almost exactly what I was looking for!  And it was on sale for $84.  That's doable, right? 

My intent was to put a low bookcase in back of the loveseat and leave the loveseat "floating" in the center of the room.  Once we got the bookcase assembled, though, Shawn suggested putting it in a corner by the fireplace and pushing the sofa against the far wall.  Our living room is SO small, this really seemed the better choice.  We'd been living with just a rabbit trail between the loveseat and the old bookcases and that was part of why I was so sick of them.  Here's a shot of the old, white bookcases, taken as we were taking stuff off them:

From the other side of the room:

We had crammed a big chair and ottoman into the corner by the fireplace:

Anyway, it was better than the original set-up of this room, when we didn't use it at all and had an antique (very uncomfortable) sofa in there, but it wasn't going to set the woods on fire.  We had begun to use the living room more, which was great.  Our house isn't big enough to have unused rooms in it, so incorporating the living room into our lives made a big difference.  But it still didn't work very well and we didn't use it too often.

So, last night at midnight, we finally finished moving EVERY STINKING PIECE OF FURNITURE in the room and this is what we ended up with (ignore the dust!):

New bookcase, in the corner where the chair & ottoman used to be.

Loveseat, chair & ottoman on the wall where the old shelves were.

View from the den.  Me likey.  You?

Friday, August 26, 2011

(Don't) Come On, Irene

Whew!  Looks like Hurricane Irene has decided to hit land farther up the coast, so we are staying put on Gilligan's Island and so far have just had some pop-up thunderstorms and wind.  I do not envy the people north of us, who are battening down the hatches and hoping for the best.

What with both my part-time jobs trying to get all full-time on me this week, I'm feeling over stretched, so it didn't take much convincing from Shawn for me to stay here and just wait til next weekend to go to the Taj.  Next weekend being Labor Day, Shawn is off and we can accomplish more anyway.  That's the theory, at least. 

Oh....remember the cool sink I scored off The Craig?  Well, it had this leetle old hard-water stain in the bowl, next to the drain.  Hmmm, I thought, a little Magic Eraser will take that right off.


Magic Eraser and C-4, maybe, but otherwise that stuff was NOT coming off.  I tried everything I could think of.  I went online and tried all the suggestions (lemon juice, white vinegar, Borax, bleach, mild abrasives).  You name it, I tried it.  And....nothing.

I thought we'd just wasted $60 on a sink that would always look dirty.  And that was sooooo not gonna happen!

So, I went medieval on that bad boy.  I got my handy dandy flat-head screwdriver and convinced the hard water scales to move on down the line.  Now, I'm not necessarily recommending that you go after your porcelain bathroom fixtures with metal blades, but it worked for me.  If you do have some serious calcium deposits and decide to try it, just remember to be gentle and use the blade at a low angle...you don't want to stab at it and scratch the surface.

Anyway, it's not the Martha Stewart-approved method, but who has the time to forumlate their own hard water stain remover and package it attractively in a repurposed gunny sack?  Not me.

Well, that's the latest.  Sad that a little stain removal is the only Taj-related progress to report.  But, the Fall 2011 Ikea catalog arrived today, so there's hope yet!

Off to drool over cheap, breakable goods with a Scandinavian flair....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Rock You Like A Hurricane

Um...that's a song, if you weren't alive in the 80's.


I'm just sitting here, watching "Barnyard" with the Tankster and plotting my return to Mayberry, possibly this weekend.  I'm anxious to get a little more done on the bathroom demo before the electrician needs to get in there.  And as an added bonus, I might be escaping Hurricane Irene.  Always a plus when you can avoid getting creamed by wind and water.

Oh, yeah, I have other news, too.  We scored a Kohler pedestal sink off Craig's List for $60.  These things are over $300 for the basin and the pedestal, so it was a great deal!  Here's a pic off The Internets of the same sink:

Cute, yeah?

I'm really excited about this find, since we knew we wanted to go back with a pedestal sink in the hallway bath, but DEFINITELY not the aqua sea-shell sink that was in there!

Now, we just need a 40-inch stove, a refrigerator, lots of drywall, paint, and an entire master bath.....guess I'll be spending a lot of time Craig-in'.

Until later....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Whirlwind Tour of Everywhere

Back at Gilligan's Island tonight, after a very LONG day.

Tank and I left Mayberry at 9:00 this morning, picked up our baby friend from the caring home parents, then all of us made the trek back to the coast.  I took the little one to meet her new parents at their hotel.  It goes without saying that there is now a very happy, brand-new family in the world tonight!

After a brief detour at home, it was back to pick up the baby's birthmom and then a two-hour visit between the families.  The visit went really well, with everyone feeling very positive and a lot of love and respect between the parties.

Now, I'm finally home and halfway watching the Braves game that Shawn very thoughtfully recorded for me.

While in Mayberry, I decided to demo the master bath.  Cue the maniacal laughter, because boy, was THAT ever a joke!   I managed to get both sinks disconnected and out, along with one vanity, but the other vanity and the shower defeated me.  I figured out why when I saw the three-inch nails that the doggone things were attached with!  Holy cow...I was in there, just whaling away with a sledge hammer and it WAS NOT happening.  I'm really tired and my arms are sore, sore, sore.  And the most annoying part of all is that I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped.  Oh, well.  Rome wasn't built in a day and apparently the Taj isn't going to be remodeled in a day, either.

Here's a few photos, so you can share in the magic.  Or madness.

Partially demo'd second vanity

First vanity removed and cabinet demo underway

Overkill much??

Debris pile.  And a cheap fan because...damn.  It's hot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News. I Has It.

Long time, no blog, eh?

I'm still at Gilligan's Island, but I believe I will be heading back to the Taj briefly this weekend.  The baby that was placed for adoption has a family now and they will be traveling from their home state late Saturday night.  I'll go pick up the baby on Sunday and bring her back down this way to meet her adoptive mom and dad and also to spend time with her birth mom before she leaves for a while.  This adoption will be an open arrangement, so this is not goodbye for birth mom and baby.

In other news, we finally figured out a layout for the master bath.  It's not perfect, but given the many issues with the space, its a successful option.  We'll still have a laundry room in the master bath, but by stacking the washer and dryer, we'll keep precious floor space and avoid the bath being all crammed up together.  Shawn didn't really want to stack the w/d, worrying that i would be a negative for potential buyers when we sell the house down the road.  My solution was to spend yet MORE money and get a nice, front loading set that could be stacked.  That way, we won't be saddled with an apartment-sized set of appliances forever.  Again, not the most perfect solution ever, but pretty much the best one available, given the limitations of the space.

The Very Nice Electrician called and said he is about a week away from starting on the Taj.  We'd had to wait to call him until we had a plan for the bathroom...didn't want to end up with outlets behind the shower!  So, his work will be next, then the plumbing, then framing and drywall.  And one of these days, we'll have a HOUSE!  How 'bout that?!

Well, I'd better get up and get busy.  Work has been extremely demanding this week and no relief is in sight.  Better go make the money that I'm spending on the Taj, right?

Friday, August 5, 2011

My kingdom for a potty!

Having finally recovered from late-night adoption road trips, I headed over to the Taj this morning, only to learn that our Best!  Idea!  Ever! for the bathroom re-arrangement is not going to work.  There is only a 31-inch space in the area we were going to use for the toilet, instead of the requisite 36 inches. 

I tried to measure, plot, think and re-measure, but Tank was in the mood to be Very Helpful.  Being Very Helpful involves running off with the tape measure, pushing Mama by the bum from room to room and generally being a pest.  One day I'll wish he wanted to be with me all the time, so I try to be patient.  But sometimes I just want five minutes to sit quietly and come up with a plan!

Anyway, Grandmother (Shawn's mom) is coming over in a bit to listen out for Tank while he naps and I'll head over to the Taj and see if inspiration strikes.  *Sigh*

Off to look at stackable washers and dryers online...that may be our last hope.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And you thought I was an exotic dancer...

Believe it or not, I'm BACK in Mayberry!  We drove from Mayberry to Gilligan's Island Monday evening and on the way, I got a call from a birthmom I had worked with almost a year ago.  She had decided to parent her baby and left the adoption program.  Well, long story short, she called Monday and said she could not take care of her now 7-month-old daughter any more and wanted to place her for adoption.

We did the paper work yesterday afternoon and late last night, I was on the road with both Tank and the baby.  Because the birthmom had not selected a family yet, the baby went to stay with one of our fantastic temporary care families.  Unfortunately, the only one available was about 6 hours from Gilligan's Island.  These wonderful folks met me at 10:00 last night to get the baby and take her home and love on her for a few days, until the new family can come.

If you don't know a whole lot about domestic adoption, here's a very simplified snapshot:  in Georgia, a birth parent signs legal surrenders to their child and then has ten days to revoke those surrenders.  Because birth parents do frequently revoke, many adoptive families elect not to travel from other states and meet the baby, begin bonding, etc., until the ten days are up and they know the baby is free for adoption.  In this case, we haven't even contacted a family yet, because the mom needs to select the family she wants.  Because this baby is 7 months old, some families will not be open to her: they want a newborn.  Which is their loss, because this little pumpkin is ADORABLE!

Anyway, back to Domestic Adoption for Newbies:  Typically, when a mother places her child for adoption, a lack of support from the father is one of the main reasons.  So, the birth mother usually makes the adoption plan, contacts the agency and selects the adoptive family.  Once the mother's ten day revocation period is up, the agency contacts the birth father.  He can voluntarily surrender his rights, like the birth mother, or he can simply ignore the papers he is served and if he doesn't make any move to fight the adoption, his rights will be terminated in court after a lengthy process.  The other option is for him to gain custody of the baby.  This last option is the one that is most rare.  Nothing against all the great dads out there, but sadly there are many men who aren't the least bit interested in the children they father.  I've worked with some birth mothers whose ex-boyfriends threatened to fight an adoption, but when it came to committing time, money and energy to showing a judge that they would be good parents, they didn't follow through.

Whew.  Long-winded explanation of one of my jobs, huh?

I didn't want this blog to be about my work in the adoption field, but the truth is, there's a lot of misinformation and prejudice out there related to families created through adoption.  So, I'm violating my own blogging rule and opening that door.  I'd rather answer questions and try to offer some information than have more folks walking around with antiquated ideas of adoption and "baby-stealing."

So, anyway, since I had to meet the wonderful people who will be caring for the baby, I ended up driving 3 hours from Gilligan's Island.  I just re-packed my clothes and Tank's and brought him with me and we came on the rest of the way to Mayberry...it's only about 40 minutes from where I met the family.  I'll try to maybe meet another plumber or get some small project scratched off the list while I'm here.

Luckily, my OTHER job was very nice about this emergency and I am able to just go back to the island on Saturday and handle what I need to do there.

More later, but I am too pooped to write much at the moment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New & Improved Taj! Now with 30% More Dust and Debris!

Monday morning in Mayberry and I am taking advantage of a few quiet moments before the boys get up.  We'll head back to Gilligan's Island later today, so it's going to be a busy day, trying to wrap up all the projects we can before leaving.

Shawn, along with his dad and his brother, tore out the bonus room ceiling on Friday morning.  It didn't take them long...sledge hammers seemed to do the trick pretty well.  Once all the drywall, foam insulation and fiberglass insulation were down, the rest of the family (Shawn's stepmom, sister in law and your truly) joined in for the huge cleanup.  About 45 big bags of debris are waiting for pickup at the curb now.  Our neighbors love us.  Not.

Because sweating our hineys off in the un-air conditioned bonus room was not enough fun, Shawn and his brother decided to take down the enormous limb that reached from the pecan tree in our front yard, across the driveway and halfway across the yard of the house next door.  It really needed to come down, but I could have cried when they announced their plan.  Seriously.  How much sweat can one body generate in a day?

But, it's done and we won't have to worry about it any more.  So, yay!

We also bought a sump pump and had drained the pool almost completely (we'd had it within a foot or two, but then it rained a good bit last week).  Late yesterday afternoon, it was beginning to dry out, but then of course we got a massive thunderstorm last night, so I guess we'll be pumping water again today before we leave. 

There were other little projects, like finally figuring out where the weird den closet meets the master bedroom closet...that might enable us to bust through and make a big (albeit awkwardly shaped) master closet.  Storage is sexy.

And we're still struggling with a better layout for the master bath.  General Handydude suggested an exterior-mounted tankless water heater, but we didn't really like that idea, especially since we will not be here full-time and we worry about freezing in the winter.  Freezing.  Ha!  At 9:00 last night, I looked at the Jeep thermometer and it read 96.  Hard to believe that in a few months, I will be complaining about the cold!

Anyway, that's the scoop for now.  Since I missed out on pictures of the last big Tree Debris Pile, I made sure to snap a few of this trip's Tree Debris, plus the forty-odd bags of ceiling debris.  I bet we get a Christmas card from the City of Mayberry guys who have to pick this stuff up.

Goodbye, Ceiling!

Shawn's brother surveys the scene.

We ran out of bags!

Taj Pile-O-Trash

One limb.  Repeat:  ONE limb.

Fortunately, you can't see the blue toilet in back of the bags.

Not a very good photo, but you can sort of see the limb stretchign across the driveway to the house on the right.

And another shot, this time with no limb!

Well, that's all the fabulousness I have for you today.  Off to get some work done and then head back to the coast.