9.12.2013

back to school

As I pondered all the glorious things that stem from back to school, the one that struck me as the most fantastic was the prospect of grocery shopping with only three kids.

Why, that's practically a vacation!

Then I realized that to most people, shopping with three kids would be the exact opposite.

I guess it's all in your perspective.

So while the rest of you think I'm crazy, and the greeter lady at Costco continues to comment (every week!) on how many helpers I have, I'm just going to enjoy the break.

And also, these words from Jim Gaffigan.

"I watch the faces of single people in their twenties after I bring up that I ‘have children.’ I imagine them taking a small step backward as if to avoid contagion, with a look of ‘Sorry to hear that’ on their face. Like I naively volunteered to contract leprosy, forever quarantining myself from the world of having fun by having children. Well, why not? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy. Each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart. I would trade money, sleep, or hair for a smile from one of my children in a heartbeat. Well, it depends on how much hair.”

Which is pretty much how I feel about my five (almost six) kids. {Though I do have to add that it's not just singles. Plenty of people with children balk at the number I have.}

3.13.2013

All that glitters is gold

Our last home was temporary from the moment we started looking for it. It was a starter home, and we planned on living there 3-5 years. So, while there were cosmetic things that I didn't like about the house (hanging light fixture in the kitchen, I'm looking at you!), we very much had the attitude of, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

This time is totally different. I can picture living in this home for the rest of ever, so I'm feeling much more motivated to spruce it up and get it just how I want it. 

Case in point.


We love having a fireplace. Our last place didn't have one, and while I like the cheerful crackling of a REAL fire, a gas fireplace is much more convenient. (And much harder to roast mallows over, but I digress.) 

This one, however, has shiny, ugly, gold-colored bars. Now, I hate gold. And I especially hate gaudy, shiny, fake gold/brass stuff. (See also: all my door knobs--doh!) So this fireplace was an eyesore for me. Add that to the fact that it stares me in the face every time I stand at my stove and you can see that I was not loving it.

Enter spray paint.

Not just any spray paint, mind you. I did my homework and got Rustoleum Specialty High Heat Spray. It is specially designed to withstand heat up to 1200 degrees. While my fireplace won't ever get that hot, I figured it would be better to err on the side of caution, rather than having cheapy regular spray paint bubbling and peeling the first time we turned the fireplace on. 

While I considered getting a brushed chrome/silver paint, I picked flat black for a couple of reasons. A) That's what the rest of the fireplace is, 2) Fred Meyer had it in stock, and I was there anyway, and D) I have no intention of making a special trip to Home Depot or Lowe's, or even wait patiently for an order from Amazon. I'm a bit impulsive sometimes.

So I pulled the bars off and lightly sanded them so the paint would hold better. 


Then I wiped them down, painted them with several light coats, and (after waiting patiently for them to dry) popped them right back on. 

LOVE!


Me, that is. The kids hate the change, (Lou even started crying) and I don't think Tom would have noticed if the kids hadn't pointed it out. 


It's a small thing, but I smile every time I look at it. Which, as I mentioned above, is quite frequently. And for a grand total of $6.59 (plus tax, of course), I call that a win! And I even have paint leftover, just in case someone scratches it.

Aaand, I linked this post up to Thrifty Decor Chick's "Little Things" linky party. Because it really is the little things.

2.19.2013

And the idiocy continues

Just when I think I've reached a low of brain capacity, I amaze myself with my own stupidity.

Example:

When we bought our house, the previous owners left, well, a bunch of stuff. Some useful, some not. One of the more useful things was a treadmill (and yes, they asked if we wanted it). They had used the downstairs bedroom as a home gym and left all the equipment for us.

That was great, except that we wanted it all in the garage so that the room could be used as a play room. The night we closed on the house, we moved everything down to the garage except the treadmill as it wouldn't fit out the bedroom door. It lived in the play room for several months where I occasionally used it and the kids abused it. They pulled all the decals/stickers/labels off, tried using the cord as a rope swing, and hid small toys in and around it.

I tried figuring out how to take it apart so as to move it out of the room, but all my efforts were to no avail.

Christmas Eve, we mentioned this dilemma and Tom's brother (who is quite mechanically-minded) offered to take a look. After looking over the treadmill, he suggested removing the door, as it should fit (without even an inch to spare). They pulled the hinge pins out, shimmied the treadmill through and relocated it to the garage. I was thrilled!

Naturally, we didn't try it out immediately, and the first time I got myself up early to try it out, it would not turn on. I tried multiple outlets and multiple extension cords, tried wiggling the "key" around, and nothing. Nothing at all.

Once again, I tried taking it apart a little to see if the cord had been pulled loose what with the kids swinging on it and all, but I was unsuccessful.

So it sat there.

And sat there.

And sat there.

And I looked online and some helpful website suggested using a multi-blabbity-whatsit and measuring the electricity from the wall along the cord and internal components to see where the problem was, but I still couldn't even get the cover off to see the inside workings. Not to mention I don't own or know how to use a multi-blabbity-whatsit. But I figured I would cross that bridge when I got there.

So I tried AGAIN.

After breaking it (only a little) I realized I would need to tip it back to access a screw from the bottom. I was out of time and figured that would be a better two-man job anyway.

Several weeks later (yesterday), Tom was cleaning out the garage, and I mentioned my thought that I could possibly get the cover off if he would tip it back for me. He did so quite obligingly, and after grabbing a screwdriver, I noticed a switch.

As in, a power switch.

And it was turned off.

So I turned it on, and magically, the treadmill worked fine.

Now I just have to get myself down there to use it regularly!

{Also, in case you are wondering, my dad and I fixed the fuel filler door on the van. He got a part from the junkyard (I would have gone too, but I had to be home to meet the bus) and I (we) installed it. So my van does not look all ghetto anymore. Thanks Dad!}


2.07.2013

Hello, I am an idiot.

Growing up, we parked in the driveway. The garage was for things like pool tables, ping pong tables, large saws, ridiculous amounts of scrap wood, and such like.

Tom grew up parking in the garage.

Now that we have a garage, he convinced me of the wisdom of garage parking without much difficulty. Now, I LOVE parking in the garage.

The kids can climb in the car without messing with shoes when we're just running to drop off/pick up kids from the bus stop. I never have to scrape ice off the windshield. And no matter how hard it's raining, we don't get wet when loading into the car.

Pretty much it's genius.

But I'm not.

Yesterday I parked a little too far over. I knew I was close, but when I pulled out in a bit of a hurry this morning I scraped the side of the van on the door jamb of the garage. I got a lovely purple stripe about 18 inches long on the side of my silver van.

Clearly not a genius.

To make matters worse, it was the side with the gas tank, the cover of which as one of those handy dandy finger pulls so that you can open it.

It caught on the side of the house and ripped the little door clean off. Well, not clean off, because the gas cap is attached to it, so the whole way to school and back it just dangled there, banging around and looking all white-trash-ish. Because I'm classy like that.

I'm hoping I can glue it back on.

Please, oh please, let it glue back on.

And just so you can visualize how cool I am, the door:


Where it's supposed to go:


Like this:



Yep. I'm pretty much the coolest.

2.06.2013

Redfin

Let me start by saying, I know I just wrote a review post. But, I figure posting a review is better than not posting at all, and I promise I'll be back soon(ish) with something more interesting to the general population that reads this blog (aka: Mom and Dad).

(In the interest of full disclosure, Redfin recently rolled out their "Refer a Friend" program, but I was already planning on writing this post.)

When we bought our first home, we went with a realtor we found through a program with Tom's work. They promised to credit a small portion (10%, maybe?) of their commission back to us at closing, and not knowing any real estate agents, we picked a name and called it good.

And she was fine. Ish.

At least that's what we thought at the time.

This time around though, I had heard about Redfin. Their website is the very best I've found for looking at real estate, and their rebate program is in a class by itself. They don't have agents everywhere, but if they have them in your area, (and you're in the market to buy or sell a home,) you should seriously check them out.

But even without those extras, our agent knocked our last one out of the water. She was super nice. She never made us feel like we were wasting her time when we wanted to look at more houses (or at the same ones again). And she never pressured us in any way. Even when we were super wishy-washy and kept changing our minds. At one point, mid-purchase, we were considering backing out of the deal for a couple of reasons. I felt horrible telling her, since she had spent so much time and effort on our behalf, but not only did she reassure me that she was totally supportive of whatever decision we made, she ended up giving us a great work-around for our main problem.

My favorite comparison between the two agents, though, is the way they handled the inspection. At our inspection for our first house, the inspector brought several things to our attention: old water heater, deteriorating siding, aging roof, etc. that would need work sooner than later. Our agent encouraged us not to request any repairs because "that would bring us back to negotiation." Not knowing anything, we agreed, and bought the house "as is." And I would say we regretted that.

Our Redfin agent, on the other hand, encouraged us to ask for repairs, with the logic that, "the worst they can do is say no." While the sellers didn't agree to everything we requested, they did (among other things) have the furnace serviced, and subsequently repaired to the tune $2500. Needless to say, were were so glad we didn't gloss over the inspection!

I think the best part, though, is the attitude of the agents. Our first realtor seemed to be in a hurry to get us into a house. The sooner, the better. And, quite frankly, the closer to the top of our price (tiny) range, the better. But Redfin agents are paid based on customer satisfaction, not commission, so there is never any pressure to pay more than you want or to move faster than you want. And though they only had a few agents in our area, they also have "field agents" whose sole job it is to take you out to look at houses. And they get paid for it, so you don't feel like you're wasting anyone's time looking at MORE houses. (Believe me, we looked at TONS.)

Add to all of that the fact that we got nearly a full percent of the purchase price back (nearly 1/3 of the commission), and we were fans for life.

So, if you are looking to buy or sell a home, I would highly recommend checking Redfin out. And if you use my referral link, you get an extra $200 on your rebate, just for being referred. (And I get a $25 amazon giftcard, or something. But I would seriously be telling you about Redfin anyway.)


1.31.2013

Love and prayers

Rico played hooky from school today.

When tragedy strikes, like it did in Newtown last year, it is only natural to hold your loved ones close. But tragedy strikes every day, only it's small so the effect is not as far spread.

We just found out that Rico's little buddy in his kindergarten class is starting treatment for leukemia tomorrow. As today was his last day for visitors, and as he requested Rico and another friend by name, they went down to the hospital to visit instead of going to school.

I've been fighting tears all day and I don't know anything about this boy, except his name and that Rico loves him.

Rico just got home, so, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go love on my kids and be grateful they're healthy and well.

And pray for those who aren't.

1.28.2013

Lady in Red

I was recently contacted by firmoo.com to receive and review a pair of glasses. For free.

I like free. And I like glasses. So this worked out very well for me.

I've been wearing glasses for the last 12 years of my life. In that time I've bounced between burgundy, oval, metallic frames and dark, chunky, rectangular, (usually) plastic frames. One at a time.

Since my insurance only covers frames every two years, that means I wear one for two years, swap to the other option for the next two, and so on. But I am a girl who likes options.

Currently both of my glasses have lenses that are similar enough so I can switch, but it's still the same two options that I've had for the last 12 years. The problem is that I'm not brave enough to spend that kind of money (usually over $100 after insurance) on something edgy or trendy or "out there" in any way. Even though I'm always tempted.

So this was the perfect opportunity to go out on a limb.

And so I did.


The glasses shipped out very quickly (only a day or two after I placed my order), but as they were coming from China (I think), it took a week or so to get them. About the same as from an optical store.


Overall, I love them. The are just as high quality as ones I've gotten traditionally or through other online retailers (for Rico). They are a little bigger than I'm used to, but as they provided all the measurements beforehand, I should not have been surprised by that.

(Ignore the junk in the background and check out the blue interior and stripes-fun!)

The best part, is that even if I hadn't gotten them for free, their prices are much more reasonable than your local glasses store. They have frames (with lenses included, prescription or otherwise) starting at just $8.00, and the extras (like thinner lenses or anti-reflective coating) are very reasonably priced. The anti-reflective coating (which is MUST if you use your glasses for night driving) is only $2.95, as opposed to the $35 PER LENS that the optical department wanted to charge me (and which insurance won't cover).


And to make it even better, they want to send you a pair for free. All first time customers can get their first pair free, you just pay for shipping which is an easy $6.95. Not bad for a pair of glasses. So scurry over to firmoo.com and pick out a pair!

{If you're interested, I made a video review as well, here.}