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Our Kitchen Remodel!

19 Aug

1 1/2 years ago when we bought this house, we thought, “Hey, it would be so fun to buy an old house and remodel it ourselves!” Turns out it is so much fun. Fun like a root canal. Or a pap smear. Or like getting bitten in unmentionable places by fire ants (yes, this did just happen to me). It doesn’t help that this summer has been so, so hot and rainless (but st

ill humid). My garden is dead and I don’t care. The flowerbeds are overrun with weeds and I don’t care. We started sanding down the porch to paint it and decided that we would finish it when the weather cooled down, so yes, we’re that ghetto family with a half-hanging porch swing, bits of paint sanded off the pillars, and sample colors painted on the porch.

We decided that since Sam works 12 hours a day and doesn’t have time to mow the lawn, let alone remodel a kitchen, we were going to suck it up and hire a contractor. Best. Decision. Ever. It’s still not fun, but it doesn’t involve Sam and I smolderingly staring at one another (and not sexy smoldering, more like, “I don’t want to say something I’m going to regret later”) and then quitting because it’s hot and we’re tired and we don’t want to fight over sanding technique.

I’m going to document the whole process as we go along. One of the biggest reasons why we wanted to remodel (aside from the hospital sterility of it all) is the fact that the washer and dryer were in the kitchen:

The cabinets and “decorative molding” were total handy-man specials–they weren’t going anywhere, but they also weren’t square or pretty.

The stove looked out onto the dining room. I like having the semi-open concept, but the whole layout of the kitchen was awkward and it was a little bit of a problem that the range didn’t vent anywhere. Also, those columns had to stay because they’re support beams, but we have a plan for them.


See that white closet on the red wall with the knob on it? It’s a deep, awkward cabinet that we were using as the linen closet. But it was hard to find anything because of how deep it was and how the shelving was situated. So that’s gone. We extended the closet out, so now it’s going to be big enough for our washer, dryer, and vacuum.

The kids’ room had wide bi-fold doors that opened into the kitchen. It was just a weird layout and it was hard to work in the kitchen after or before the kids were in bed because the doors weren’t great at keeping the sound out. So that is now a wall. Then they ripped out the wall that was their closet and the new entrance to their room is through their old closet door.

It’s not even done and it feels so much less weird and more like a bedroom now!

We also walled off the door to what was once the formal dining room because we’re turning that into another bedroom.

When they pulled off the cabinets, we discovered all sorts of layers of awesomeness–sheetrock (I didn’t get a pic of the red paint), red and yellow faux tile paneling, a nice, yellowed, 1950’s-esque floral wallpaper, and then the walls.

Apparently our house was built to withstand the cold war because this is what’s behind all the sheetrock:

Solid, 3/4″ wood planks.

One of the fun things about taking apart the kitchen is trying to figure out our house’s story–it looks like this back wall where the sink, dishwasher, and fridge used to be was actually once the back wall of the house–there’s framing for a big picture window and what was once probably the back door.

There’s also a story with the floors–sub-floor, hardwood floors, black and red linoleum tiles, adhesive, yellow linoleum tiles, and the light ceramic tiles that were in the house when we bought it.

So there you have it! I’ll keep updating as they make more and more progress!


Straight from the Depths of Hell

20 Jul

I saw this scurry across our driveway this afternoon. It was nearly an inch long and completely unafraid of me. Apparently it is a cow ant. I used an entire can of wasp spray trying to kill it.

Clark’s Talents

17 Jul


So last week, in an attempt to maintain my sanity, the kids got to go to Bible Art Camp, which was sponsored by the church that also sponsors their preschool. Meredith loved it (she also really doesn’t seem to get that school is primarily for learning and not for hanging out with friends). This picture of her showed up in the local newspaper:


Clark, on the other hand, had a rough time getting excited about it. He’s always been kind of a home-body, even when he was just a baby. When I was trying to convince him to go on the second day, he said, “Mom, they want me to paint! I don’t like painting! They want me to sing. That is not one of my talents.” He’s got it pretty rough.


17 Jul

Soooooo…yeah. If you take a look at the post just below this one, it says March 8. Without a year. That would be March 8 of last year. I think I kind of burned out on the personal blogging thing and then life got crazy and then I felt massive amounts of guilt for neglecting my poor little family blog and then life got crazier. And then…I started hearing the “inner blogging voice” again! During this whole time, I stayed active posting on Facebook, but I realized there were things that weren’t conducive to the Facebook format. I also realized that while Facebook has a record of all my memories during my blogging breakdown, I don’t know if they can be salvaged and that’s kind of been my journal for the last year and a half. So much has gone down in the last little while and I need to have a better record of it.

There’s no way I can possibly go back and blog about everything, so I’m just starting over. Hi. I’m Kate. But you probably know that. Since March of 2010, this is what’s gone on in our lives:

Clark lost a whole bunch of teeth, our crazy cat Charlie ran away, we got a new cat named Willow, Meredith turned 3, Sam’s mom and brother came to visit, we had a really, really, really hot and hellish barbecue with our friends and family for Sam and Meredith’s birthdays, I cleaned the church all by myself because I love my husband that much (and because I wanted a family shopping day in Lafayette), the kids and I went to New York City for two days and made banana splits with Kelly Ripa and stayed in a posh hotel and ate room service at the expense of Electrolux, I called Aaron Mangum at the butt crack of dawn on the day I left for New York City because I had the most unbelievable toothache, seriously on par with back labor with a side dish of Pitocin, and discovered I had an abscessed tooth, I got another abscessed tooth 2 weeks later in New Orleans (ironically enough while I was with the Mangums for Youth Conference), I got two root canals for my abscessed teeth, our hot water heater leaked onto our oven and we had to replace the water heater and the electrical panel of our oven and we still have a water stain on our kitchen ceiling (all of this happened last June and July, by the way–it was awesome).  I was released from the Young Women’s Presidency at church and Clark started Kindergarten, Meredith started preschool, Clark started playing soccer (I’m using the term “playing” loosely here), something possessed me to get a haircut at Fantastic Sams where a surly hairdresser (again, using the term “hairdresser” loosely here) gave me the Layers from Hell. Sara and I went to Des Moines to see the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens and we won their blogger cook-off. We turned in our manuscript for our book, Meredith got strep throat on Thanksgiving day, I got called to be the Primary President in our ward, we had Christmas here in Louisiana, I quit tutoring, Clark turned 6, I flew to Utah with Sara (well, not with her–I met up with her there) and stayed with my faraway BFF Adriann while we shot a cover for LDS Living magazine. Three weeks later, I was back in Utah to celebrate the launch of our book, then I was back again in another two weeks for more book signings. Because we’re insane, we got a little doggy named Mala. She looks like a Wookiee. Sam spent a week in the hospital with a very diseased gallbladder–a good time was had by all! Clark ended his first year of school as one of two kids in his class who never got a behavior mark (he was sure to inform his teacher that he was plenty naughty at home). Sara and I went to Scottsdale at the end of May for a Thermador event, then the day after we got home from that, Sam, the kids, and I drove to Houston and then flew to Seattle for 9 days. After a book signing in Houston, we came back to Louisiana and then I flew to Idaho to speak with Sara at the BYU-Idaho Business Summit. We haven’t gone anywhere since and I’m okay with that.

So yeah, that’s our year-and-a-half in a nutshell! But I’m back, baby. And on WordPress, so change your feeds and bookmarks (that is if anyone is still reading…)

>Until We’re 100% Settled…

8 Mar

>We’re just about settled. I haven’t taken any pictures yet–maybe tomorrow, right? Until then, here are a few kidisms to tide you over.

Meredith was giving a very stern lecture to someone on her pretend phone the other day. I couldn’t make out 90% of what she was saying, but there was some yelling and a lot of “I TOLD you!” going on. I asked her who she was talking to and she said, “Grandma.” Grandma, I don’t know what you’ve done to deserve this, but I’m glad it’s not me!

Clark: Mom, how does Cheer get your clothes brighter in just one wash?

Kate: Clark, you’d better get ready to go!! We’re going somewhere really exciting! [We weren’t. It was more along the lines of the storage unit.]

Clark: Oooh, oooh!! Is it Chik-Fil-A? [Yeah, we haven’t been to Chik-Fil-A since I was about 3 1/2 months pregnant with Meredith and he was still riding in a stroller. Natalie Pyles, I think you were there.

We just got done having a good giggle and he sighed and said, “Good times, good times.”

I went to register him for Kindergarten today, but I forgot his shot record. I think I’m subconsciously trying to keep him from growing up any more than he already has.

>Mardi Gras!

19 Feb

>You may be saying, “Hey, Kate, aren’t you closing on a house in 4 days? Shouldn’t you be packing and not updating the blog that’s lucky to get two updates a month TWICE in one night?” Yes, I should. At the prospect of packing, I have suddenly been bitten by the blogging bug. Go figure.

On Saturday, we went to the local Mardi Gras parade. It was really cold, I won’t lie, and as we were standing there, waiting for the parade to start, Sam informed me that I would be repaying everyone for the rest of the day. Luckily, we ALL ended up having a great time, even Captain Party Pooper.

Afterwards, we went to our new house where a friend from church who’s a contractor came and checked out a few things for us (since 2 electricians and 2 roofers didn’t show up last week). Then we came home and watched E.T. (because Clark’s preschool teacher, who was on a float, threw Meredith a stuffed E.T. and we had to show her that he wasn’t terrifying). We didn’t think she was paying attention, but in the final moments, as E.T.’s ship was flying out of the sky, Meredith burst into hysterical, inconsolable tears.

It was cold. Clark was not super keen on being at the parade at all.

Also not super keen about touching his sister in a way that didn’t involve hitting, poking, or otherwise provoking.

Meredith was loving it.

Clark was not.
“Wave at me? I’ll wave back!” I think she thought the parade was for her. In exchange for her cuteness and enthusiasm, we got LOTS of good stuff this year and no one had to expose their breasts.

Not the Burger King. But I see the resemblance.

This float was surprisingly withholding. We did get a black plastic cup from them, though.

This float, on the other hand, threw us more than we knew what to do with. Dancing alligators must inspire good will or something, but we got, like, three stuffed animals and a whole bunch of Moon Pies. Too bad we all discovered we don’t like Moon Pies. It did not stop us from yelling for them. “Banana Moon Pie!!! Over here!!!”

After the Twinkie float came through, Sam said we could go. I also don’t like Twinkies, but we got some…

We’re just packing. Cleaning. De-junking. It’s therapeutic and exhausting and I wish Monday would just be here and all my boxes would be packed.


19 Feb

>Last night, for Young Women, we worked on getting names ready to take to the temple before we go on the Pioneer Trek this summer. Being of good pioneer stock, it’s pretty hard for me to find ancestors whose temple work hasn’t been done, so I was really excited when I found a handful of people in my family tree whose names I could take to the temple. I was feeling pretty good about myself. As I was leaving the church, one of the girls told me to drive safely, and I said I’d try. While leaving the parking lot, I drove straight into a median and a shouted a rather loud expletive–kind of a second-tier swear word. Like…”Holy crap!” Only not “crap.” And the worst part? After doing family history for 1 1/2 hours and being at the church, not only did I not feel guilty (like at all), but I felt good.

That’s all. I’ve got a potty mouth and I like it, apparently.

>Mayhem, Dave!

13 Feb

>Things here have been crazy. They say that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do, and I’ll believe it! At least it’s been relatively good stress, not “I feel like my life is falling apart stress,” you know?

Anyway, last week, we had our home inspection. The inspector said everything looked pretty good, especially for an 80-year-old house, but…dum dum dum…the foundation needed repairs. That is NOT what you want to hear. So this last week, we’ve been waiting for the foundation guy, plus a couple of other subcontractors, to come take a look at some things that may need to be repaired. We were particularly worried about the foundation guy because he only comes out once a week (on Fridays), that was our big-ticket, deal-breaking item, and our inspection requests are due on Monday.

Well, the roof guy was supposed to come on Wednesday. Didn’t show. Thursday? It snowed. Friday? Still snowy and very cold. So no roof guy. The electrician was supposed to come out yesterday. No-show. So imagine my distress at 4:30 when the foundation guy still hadn’t shown up. I was a big ball of nerves. I had to change my ringtone from the Chuck theme song to something a little more mellow because everytime my phone rang, I about jumped out of my skin.

Fortunately, the foundation guy did come. Also, fortunately, the foundation is in great shape and doesn’t need any repairs. The house isn’t level, but from a structural point of view, it’s just fine. He said if it’s annoying or if we just want to have it leveled, we can, but it’s an 80-year-old foundation that has another 100 years. Phew. A lot of worry for nothing.

So we close in 9 days! I figure it’s not over ’til it’s over, and no celebrating until we have the keys in our hands, but I’m hoping we’re through the worst of it. Now onto packing…

Oh, I did have a Devil Dog incident this week. Like I said, we’ve had some CRAZY weather for Louisiana this week. I swear to you, Devil Dog’s owners are in some kind of dog fighting business and not only do they allow their dogs to roam the neighborhood freely, but they also allow them to reproduce freely. As nearly as I can tell, there are at least 2 females and at least 1 male, so there’s always at least one litter of puppies roaming with the older dogs (can I tell you how excited I am to leave this street??)

Anyway, when I came home the other day, two of Devil Dog’s puppies came bounding over and then an adolescent German Shepherd and a fully-grown, tiny, twitchy, hump-everything-in-sight mutt came running over. I’d never seen the German Shepherd or the mutt before, but they were very sweet (and cold). So we played for a little while and then I went inside. The two puppies and the other two were just huddling with each other to stay warm on our porch.

In our town, the animal shelter closes at 3:00 pm (of course…because animals stop roaming at 3:00 in the afternoon). Not wanting to send the puppies back to Devil Dog’s house, someone in the ward came and picked them up for the weekend (it’s supposed to warm up next week). I got a box and a blanket for the German Shepherd and the mutt, but even still, they were both shivering and crying on our front porch. We felt so bad for them that we brought them inside, gave them a bath and some food and water (“some” is quite the understatement–they were either starving or enormous eaters), and let them sleep in the kitchen (from which they escaped at some point in the middle of the night and proceeded to pee and poop all over the house).

Sweet as the doggies were, they had to go. I loaded them into the van and called the animal shelter to let them know we were coming and they informed me that because of the snow, no one could get up or down the hill, so no animals until close to closing time. Nuts. So I turned around, went back home, and let the animals out to pee. They promptly met up with the Devil Dogs and started running around the neighborhood. Then I saw some dude from Devil Dog’s house on a 4-wheeler (we do NOT live in the country) who seemed to be happy to see the mutt and the German Shepherd. So, assuming the dogs were indeed part of the Devil Dog pack, I let ’em go.

Well…the dogs proceeded to run through the neighborhood all day. They scratched on our door from time to time and tried to get into the car with me when I went to check on the foundation inspector. After I managed to drive away, I saw the same guy on his 4-wheeler and, being the sly fox that I am, had the following conversation with him:

Kate: Hey, do you buy any chance know who that German Shepherd and the other dog belong to?
4-Wheelin’ Guy: Nope [yeah right, dude]–I’ve seem them running through the neighborhood today, but I don’t know who they belong to.
Kate: Yeah, they were hanging out on our front porch last night and we felt so bad for them that we let them sleep in our kitchen, but we’re trying to move and can’t hold onto them until we find their owner. I wish I knew who they belonged to because I really don’t want to have to take them to the pound…
4-Wheelin’ Guy: Yeah, that would suck.

I was gone for about 10 minutes and when I got back, the German Shepherd, mutt, and ALL the Devil Dogs were not running around the neighborhood and I haven’t seen them since.

>Weekend Update

29 Jan

>So…we’re under contract on a house!!! This is it:

It is actually the very first house we ever looked at while we were house hunting. We were seriously considering it before, but passed on it because one of the bathrooms needs a lot of work. After we made the offer on the other house, we realized that the bathroom in this house would probably not be as much work as the 2 bathrooms in the other house would be, and that really, it had about 90% of what we’re looking for, so we made an offer on Monday, negotiated back and forth for a few days, and the seller accepted our counter-offer yesterday morning. I feel SO good about it–I just feel like this is the place for us. Assuming everything the with the inspection and loan go like they’re supposed to, we’ll close on February 22nd. YAY!!!

So…this leads into my embarassing moment of the month. My sister’s last name is Morgan and one of my Young Women is also named Morgan. Well, after we heard from our realtor yesterday, I went to call my sister to tell her the good news. This particular sister lives in Alabama. So anyway, the person on the other end answered the phone and said in a sweet little Southern Belle accent, “Well, good MORNIN’!” I, thinking this person was my sister, said in my fake Southern Belle accent, “Well, good mornin’ to YOU!” We then proceeded to have a sweet Southern Belle conversation. At which point I realized it was not my sister, but Morgan’s mother. I wanted. To. Die.

As for the kids? They’re good. Meredith says everything is “way ______.” Like when it gets dark at night, it’s “way nighttime.” Or her food is “way hot.” She’s obsessed with princesses, dresses, shoes, make-up (“lip sauce” is her favorite), being beautiful, beautiful things, the word beautiful. She’s such a girl.

Clark loves Transformers and Ben 10–he does some VERY serious transformations, complete with sound effects. The other day, I told him that I was sad he doesn’t like to play with his Thomas trains anymore and he said, “Well, Mom, some things are changin’.” So funny and yet it breaks my heart just a little bit. He’s gotten too big too fast!


19 Jan

>So they rejected our offer. They are not willing to give at ALL–they want full asking price, will not pay closing costs, and are selling it as is and will not include a warranty. I’m actually okay with it because it is SO inconceivable to me that they’re not willing to budge at all–I’d be more sad, I think, if we negotiated the heck out of it and ended up not getting it. But it’s just so egotistical (at least in my mind) to ask $20K more than the neighborhood comps (which sat on the market for 6 months), with a completely trashed backyard and 2 bathrooms that haven’t been touched 50 years and expect full asking price with no concessions, you know?

Back to the drawing board…a little wiser… 🙂