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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Weekend With Kahlen

Willie and I got to have Kahlen for the weekend. Alyssa and Shane were moving into a new apartment so I offered to come get her and bring her back here for the weekend. I figured moving would be easier without a curious toddler on the loose.

Kahlen has become quite a good little traveler. I make sure she has a box full of toys sitting next to her and that my computer is fully charged so she can watch movies. She sleeps a couple of hours and pretty much entertains herself the rest of the way.

When we stop for a meal she spends much of it chatting it up with the locals. Meals would go much quicker if she was more of a chow hound then a social butterfly, but after being cooped up in a car for hours, she deserves a little social time. Her favorite movie to watch on the road is Planet 51. She enjoys jamming to the oldies. It is so much fun to peak back at her "dancing" in her car seat.

She seems to have taken well to the new house. She enjoys playing with Bazinga, and still enjoys a good tussle with Mia our cat. Mia does not enjoy it quite as much. She and Bazinga get a long very well. He sits under her table as she eats waiting for what ever she drops. He's our very own eco friendly dust buster.

She has found her favorite cabinet and I kept finding her milk cups in it. It's like playing Where's Waldo trying to find what she had done with her cups. She also enjoyed putting her toys and clothes and anything else she thought appropriate in the cupboard. It was also fun to play peak a boo around the door.

One challenge of having a puppy and a toddler in the same house was potty time. When Bazinga needed to go out I had to get Kahlen all bundled up to go out, too. We don't have a fence yet, so we have to walk Bazinga out to the back of the yard to do his stuff. When Willie was at work, Kahlen had to go, too. Kahlen did not like wearing her own hat and gloves. It was too cold to go without. As you can see we had to get a little creative. Grandpa's Iowa hat and Gramma's mittens seemed to be the right combo to keep her happy. She had a lot of fun walking around in circles all over the yard.

Diaper changing time is a new adventure with a puppy in the house. Bazinga seems to have the same affinity for toddler poop as he does for rabbit poop. Yeah, that was unpleasant. Got the diaper away quick enough though that a true crisis was averted. I learned very quickly not to leave the diapers on the floor while I finished dressing Kahlen.

I took her back home yesterday. I think Willie was very sad to see her go. He's a bit homesick and misses her a lot when she is gone.

It is so fun to see her reunited with her mommy. She gets so silly. Alyssa is always giddy to have her back again. It warms my heart to see them together. We went to Perkins for dinner and Kahlen was giggling at everything. Alyssa was tossing a napkin in Kahlen's face, which must have been the funniest thing she had ever seen in her life! Alyssa and I laughed so hard our sides were splitting.

Then it was time to leave. I miss her.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Look at it, running water from a shower head. Isn't it just about the most beautiful thing you have ever seen! The gentle stream that trickles upon your head, down through your hair. It glides its way down to your shoulders and back. Finally it reaches your feet. Aaaaahhhh.

Don't get me wrong. I do enjoy a nice relaxing bath. For cleaning and also relaxation, nothing tops a hot shower. After a bath I just don't have that clean feeling. Once the soap is in the water it just looks dirty. When I get out, I feel like it is all still on me. For relaxing and just getting lost in my own thoughts a bath is great. For relaxing, getting lost in my own thoughts and getting clean, the shower is for me!

And we worked so hard for this shower. We still have some little cosmetic things to finish up.
For instance our shower caddy needs to be replaced. It is brush nickel, just doesn't go with the oil rubbed bronze fixtures. But it functions just fine for now. We are going to paint the bath tub. It needs it and is a lot cheaper than replacing it. It is a cast iron tub, so would have been a bear to get out. That process will take 3 to 5 days to finish. Not looking forward to not being able to shower or bathe for that long. Maybe I'll paint it and then go visit Des Moines while it cures. I don't know. We also need to finish the trim around the shower, and well, the rest of the bathroom. We need to replace the walls with green board, and paint it. Replace the floor and do something with the ceiling. A lot more work ahead of us.

But the shower is done and running and I am so HAPPY!!!!
Now, if this has inspired you to to try tiling your own shower, here are some tips. First tip, DON'T! If you have the money to hire someone else to do it PAY THEM! It is very hard work and if don't have a week or so to devote to only your shower, it would be worth the money to have someone else do it. Second, if you are going to do it anyway, start with something easier. Try tiling a counter top or anything else that gravity isn't going to be working against you. That way you can get a feel for the thin set and grout. Learn how it is supposed to look and feel and work. Doing a shower as a first time tiler, wasn't my smartest move. It is all worth it though. I love the way it turned out. Putting in a tub surround would have been easier, faster and probably cheaper. No one else has my shower in their bathroom though. I do like the way it turned out.

Monday, January 17, 2011


This is grout. When mixed properly it is easy to use and kind of fun to smear around. When not mixed properly it is a nightmare! Last night Willie and I went to grout our tile. We thought that following the package directions was a good thing to do. Not that the package directions were very helpful. Instead of being written out, it was in pictures. The pictures did not tell you how thick or runny the grout was supposed to be. It gave a website to go to for more specific directions, but the website wasn't a whole lot better. I guess they just assumed that people who buy their product already know how to use it. They are stupid! Willie and I mixed the grout with stuff called grout boost. Grout boost is supposed to help the grout from getting stained. One bottle of grout boost plus one 10 pound bag of grout was supposed to make usable grout. We didn't know what consistency the grout was supposed to be, but it was very thick, much like clay. We worked and worked and worked with it. We only got part of the shower done. We needed more. We were exhausted. Willie was dirty, and not happy about it.

The tub was a mess, Willie was not happy about that either. We used a colored grout, it stained the tub. It stained the tub bad. But we had to get the Tiles cleaned off before we could worry about the tub. Cleaning the tile was hard work but we got it done. Only, it left a film on the tiles. Now it was my turn to freak out. All I could thing was I did all this work to have the tile ruined when we grout it! I was ready to cry! Then I got out my handy dandy book I bought and found out it was ok. I just have to buff it off when the grout is dry. I felt much better!

This morning Willie went and bought more grout making stuff. We mixed it thinner this time. I finished grouting this morning. It went much better. No tears, no dirty husband.

Here is how it looks.

And here is the aftermath. I don't feel like cleaning yet.
This time tomorrow, SHOWER TIME!!!!!!!!! We have a 90 gallon hot water tank, oh yeah!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Willie and Tiling

See these little tiny spacers, I HATE THEM! They are evil and they must be destroyed. When I am finished with them I am going to tear their little arms off. I would feed them to the dog but then they would just come back to haunt me later. I will get my revenge! Perhaps, I will melt them with a blow torch, or run them through a shredder. Maybe I will hit them on the head with a hammer, put them in a box and mail them to myself. Then I will open the box, and hit them on the head with a hammer again! (Yes, I watch too much Disney. You may remember that from the Emperors New Groove.) Since they like falling so much, maybe I will drive to Chicago and drop them off of the Sears tower! Ok, rant over, on to other things.

Willie is a man who loves to garden, he will stand knee deep in a pond full of fish poop water, and will happily play with cement to put in a fence post. Bring him inside though, and he is a different man. Suddenly, he doesn't like to get dirty. If painting needs to be done, I don't let him near the paint. When he comes even close, the paint jumps out of the can and attacks him. He gets even one little spot of paint on him and he screams like a little girl. Ok, well, not like a little girl. If the words that come out of his mouth came out of a little girls, that little girl would, at the very least, be in a time out.

Willie and I take a very different approach to tiling. If I can't get the trowel into a spot, I use the tools that God gave me. God gave us hands and fingers for a reason. They are very useful and a lot more flexible than a trowel. Yes, when I tile I get as much thinset on me as I do on the wall. Willie, doesn't like to get dirty, at least inside. I had about 12-13 tiles left to put up. Willie had the day off yesterday and wanted to help. He wanted to try his hand at tiling, but didn't want to get the thinset on him. Not possible! He was delicately using a scraper to put the thinset onto the trowel. Then carefully spreading the thinset onto the walls. He was trying to be very delicate and precise. Did I mention that thinset has to be used quickly. It was all I could do not to snatch the trowel from his hands. You gotta love him wanting to help, but there was something very backward about that picture.

I asked him, "you willingly stick your entire arm in fish poop water, but don't want to get this on you?"

His answer, "fish poop water is organic, this is not."

"But it has fish poop in it," I reply.

"But it's organic."

I'd rather have a mortar substance on me than fish poop any day. I don't understand. Poison ivy is organic, but I'm not sticking my arm in that either.

I did end up getting the trowel from him. Which I think made us both happier. I buttered the tiles and he put them on the wall and put the evil spacers in. He now understands why I hate the spacers so much. We got the tiling all done! He cleaned the extra mortar out of the spaces between the tile to get them ready for grout. Today when he gets home from work, we grout! Tomorrow, we will get to use our brand new SHOWER!!!! I'm so excited!

I'll leave today on a completely different note. This is Bazinga. Isn't he cute. He likes pickled beats. I think this is very clever of him as I too like pickled beats. He also enjoys a snack of rabbit poop. I do NOT find this very clever of him. We often have arguments when we go outside. I want him to make puppy poop, he wants to eat rabbit poop. We seem to be at cross purposes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

All Ten Fingers Present and Accounted For

Cutting tiles with a wet saw is a very messy, very long process!
Here you see the wet saw. While it is true that without it I would not have gotten the tiles cut, it is NOT my friend. The wet saw is a very demanding mistress. You must do things its way or it will shut down on you. It will only cut straight lines, if you veer off of a straight line it will stop cold. Speaking of cold, it spits water at you the whole time you are using it. I chose to sit on the bathroom floor to use it. Where it spit the water left me with a rather embarrassing spot on my pants. I could have also entered a wet tee shirt contest, or mud wrestling for that matter. I was a mess. Perhaps I should have also worn a long sleeved shirt. I ended up with a rash on my arms. It seems to have gone away though.

It took all day to cut most of the tiles I needed. Willie is going to drill holes in two of them where the plumbing needs to come thru. I was pretty proud of myself for getting most of the tiles cut. I was just not happy that it took most of the day to do it. Cutting tile was all I got done that day and I still have more to go. We also seem to be having issues figuring out how to cut the tile to go around the plumbing. Willie is working on that right now. Hopefully it works.

This is my final mess of cut tiles and leftovers. It does not look near as impressive as it felt when I finally got it done. I was achey, sore, red and my legs were dead asleep.

But, I was DONE. My hair was caked with tile goo, my face covered in wet saw splatters and the goggles, well, they are just stylish beyond compare. I think I'll go to my kids' weddings looking just this way.

Now to get the darn things up on the walls. Hopefully, I measured right and they all fit.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

So far so Good

I have been trying to get my shower tiled. This is the first time I have ever tried tiling, so it has been an adventure. Adventure # 1 mixing this goop. It is the stuff that sticks the tiles to the wall. It is called thin set, and is basically a cement that you spread on the walls and the tile and then slap the tile on the wall. You have to mix it with a drill and a paddle. Beware though, it will probably beat you up before you are done. It pretty much kicked my ass. In the end though, I won! You gotta show that thin set who's boss.

Once this stuff is mixed you have to use it quickly, so you never want to mix too much at a time. About the only thing I knew ahead of time. Thank goodness, or we would have wasted a lot.

To get started you need to put up a batten. That is a level board that you start your first row of tiles on. Most tubs are not level, (especially in a 1oo year old house) so you don't want to start from the tub. Once the batten is installed and you have and idea or "plan" of how you want your tiles, you can get started.

You can see the batten at the bottom of this tile. One thing you don't want to do is install the faucet before you tile. you just have to take it back off again. But Willie wanted to see how it would look, soooo, there it is.

I got two walls up with out too much problem. I'm definitely not a pro at it though. They aren't exactly flat against the wall, which I didn't realize until I took a bath the first night. It was way too late by then to fix. I had nightmares all night that they all fell off. I just have to hope the grout will help cover a multitude of sins.

You can kind of see in this picture the little white spacers in the corners of each tile. They are very necessary to help keep the tiles evenly spaced. They are, however, the bane of my existence!!!! They do not stay where you want them or when you want them to. Willie told me it took me about 32 seconds to put up a tile. He could tell because from down in the living room he could here me cussing the spacers. Apparently, I cussed every 32 seconds.

One thing I learned the hard way was that you need to scrape or sand off any dried on thin set. If you don't you end up with a bulge in your wall. We have a bulge in our wall. I have been sanding ever since.

Next..... Cutting tiles! Starting with 10 fingers. I'll let you know how many I have left afterwards.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making Progress

Willie has been hard at work in our bathroom. We got a great deal on a vanity set. It was a customer return, that was a special order. It was lose the entire cost of it or sell it cheap, we got it cheap! Not exactly what I had envisioned but very nice. The countertop and sink are all one piece, MUCH easier to clean, and it is marble. It is growing on me every day. We decided to go with antique bronze fixtures. It isn't in permanently yet, but it is hooked up. No more washing our hands from a nose. (see older post if that makes you say hmmmmmm?)Willie has been tearing down our old ugly walls and getting Hardie backer up in the shower. Hardie backer, as I understand it, is sheets of cement. I guess it is cement that has been formed and hardened on a mesh screen. It can be cut and pieced together like drywall, but is much more durable and mold and mildew resistant, perfect for a shower. I think he needed special tools to cut it, though. For the rest of the bathroom we will be using green board. It is easier to work with then the hardy backer but more mildew and mold resistant than drywall.
He has also been getting the plumbing installed for the shower. That has been an adventure. One of the older plumbers that works for Lowes had him all fixed up. Had everything Willie needed to get the project done. But Willie had the measurements a little off and had to go back to exchange things. When he went back, a younger person in plumbing talked him into trying something else. "It would be a lot easier." Was what he was told. So, he came home, it all worked well in the dry fit. He put it all together, started the water and leaks everywhere. He tried several different products to stop the leaks, nothing worked. Oh, and did I mention that while he was working on this, the water had to be off, for the whole house! Our tub doesn't have its own shut off valve, so yeah... Anyway, nothing is working. Another trip to Lowes to get a different product. Still didn't work. Willie is getting very frustrated and I really have to go to the bathroom. (Yeah, stupid us, we lived thru the flood of '93, but yet, didn't think to fill up buckets of water to flush toilets with, ah, live and RE-learn.) Ended up back at Lowes again, I went with him that time so I could relieve some issues building up, and another plumbing expert fixed him up, with the same stuff he had been fixed up with in the first place, the stuff the older plumber suggested. Guess what, it worked perfect. We have plumbing for our SHOWER!!!! Moral of the story, go with the old guy, they get to be old for a reason!
Now that we have the plumbing and the walls it is my turn. Soon these bare cement board walls will be covered with stone tile. Well that's the plan anyway. My friend Dawn says it is fairly easy. I just hope she is right. I'll let you know.......

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Life

So, here I am in Rossville, Illinois. Willie and I have been working on settling in and one of those things settling in things was waiting for our Internet to get connected. And now, I'm baaaack!

Getting used to being away from my kids and my granddaughter has been tough. I went from seeing them a lot, to rarely seeing them. I don't get to hear Kahlen's giggle everyday any more. It hurts. We did get to bring her here for a few days after Christmas, and that was fun. I couldn't get enough of her! Cuddling her to sleep every night was the best Christmas present I could ever get! Seeing her smile every morning lit up the day like a comet from heaven. She is definitely the shining star in my life.

Now, that I live so far away, I find myself alone a lot. My friend Dawn gave me a puppy from her dog's last litter and that has helped fill the days with something to think about besides missing my family.
I named him Bazinga. For those of you who don't watch the Big Bang Theory, bazinga is Sheldon's favorite word when he zings someone. I love that show. I was tossed up between naming him Bazinga or Gilligan (another favorite show). He looks more like a Bazinga. He is a little Maltese puppy. He was born Sept. 5th, (this is the first time in my life that I have had a pet that I knew its actual birth date.) I think he is going to end up bigger than the average Maltese though. They are a toy breed, usually between 3 to 7 pounds. At his last check up last week he was already 6.6 pounds. Luckily, I have no plans to breed or show him, because he will probably grow out
the breed standard. He's just my new buddy. Mia, my 18 pound cat, is jealous though. They are starting to slowly accept each other. He still thinks Mia is eventually going to eat him. Kahlen and Bazinga got along great. Just had to watch her to make sure she wasn't hugging too hard. She really loved him, and he loved her.

Since I don't have everyday contact with Kahlen anymore, the content of this blog will be changing some. I will still brag on my beautiful granddaughter whenever I have new things to talk about. No matter what, she is a huge part of my life. Now, however, I will be writing about other things. One of which will be the huge endeavor that Willie and I have taken on to transform the most horrible bathroom in the world to a usable, comfortable place to shower and relax.

Here are some before pictures. I had to take them because I am certain that no one would believe us when we told them about it. We don't have a proper shower. Consequently, I have cut off about eight inches of my hair just to make my life a little easier.

The sink has its own issues. I mean have you ever seen a sink with a nose?
When the water is on it looks like it has the worst allergies ever.
I don't think I like having a sink with a dumbfounded expression on its face.
The floor is a black rubbery tile like I remember from the floors my elementary school. I think this bathroom saw its last remodel in 1960.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love our new house. I just hate the bathroom. I'll post new pics as we work on it. Hopefully, we will get it done quickly with few tears and little blood.

Other things that I'll be talking about are the two, yes, two weddings that we will be having this next year. Alyssa and Shane are getting married September 24th. Josh and Caitlin are getting married December 10. A very busy year is coming. I wish I was there to really help plan, but life is what it is. God knows what he is doing, even if I don't understand it right now.