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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Bathroom

Those of you who have been following my blog for the last year may remember that when we moved to our house the Bathroom was, well for lack of  better words, a 1960's nightmare with pink walls and ceiling, a bathtub with no real shower and a snotty nosed sink.

After some major elbow grease and a lot of time, we had put in a shower, and replaced the snotty nosed sink with a vanity and marble sink. Willie had torn the drywall off part of the walls, and put up some green board in its place. Then, we basically ran out of money. We lived with the bathroom in this half finished state for the last year. With two children getting married, and many trips back and forth to Des Moines needed, (and gas prices ridiculous, ) money just had to be spent elsewhere. So, a half done bathroom was calmly tolerated.

Then something remarkable happened. Willie had decided to take a careful look at his pay stub at the beginning of December.  His workplace had still been taking out taxes for the state of Iowa. We live in Illinois. They were taking taxes for both states. We only lived in Illinois. Once corrected we had a small windfall of cash, after the weddings, of course. We used the money to pay off an ER bill, and finally FINISH THE BATHROOM!!! 

The first order of business was to get the rest of the greenboard up. Willie did this all by himself while I was in Des Moines for my dad's birthday. He had never done drywall before and took his time. I'm sure he got frustrated and angry at it from time to time, but he got it done. Not only did he get it hung, but he got it mudded and sanded and primed as well. I was very proud of him when I got home. Even with only that much done, it looked a thousand times better.

With the hard part done, it was now my turn. It was painting time. For the most part, I enjoy painting. I love the instant gratification as the wall takes the new color and changes quickly from something undesirable to something much, much improved. I like stirring the paint and watching it recombine after separating while sitting and waiting for me. I love the feeling of the paint going from roller to wall. The sound of the roller as it glides across the wall. I pretty much like everything about painting. With the notable exception of the smell of the paint, and taping.

Willie and I carefully picked colors to match the tile in the shower we had built last year. I wanted three colors, one for the ceiling and trim, one for the main walls and one for the two small walls. It's not like I wanted purple, magenta and neon green, but Willie wasn't sold on the idea of three colors. I talked him into it, though. We ended up with a brown (two small walls), a dark tan ( the main walls) and a cream, (ceiling and trim). Though Willie was still not sure he let me have at it.

We decided to do the ceiling first. I don't know if that is the proper order, but I'm glad that is what we decided. I removed the shower curtain and rod, and everything else from the bathtub. I covered the tiles and tub with plastic and tape. I didn't have to worry about getting paint on the floor, and that was bliss! I didn't have to tape the walls at the top and that was even better. I was a happy painter.

I donned my favorite painting clothes. This pair of jeans and t-shirt have about every color from every house we have ever painted on them. I am a very messy painter. If I get paint on my hands, I wipe them on my jeans. I quite often forget and lean up against wet paint and get it on my t-shirt. Wearing the same clothes every time I paint just makes sense. I usually get paint in my hair, and on my face and arms and.... well you get the idea. Somehow, somehow, I did not get paint on Bazinga though. Not that he didn't try.

 After two days the main painting was done. Next up was the new door frames, and crown moulding. I took my time on them, to the point that I think I put Willie a little behind on what he wanted to do. I didn't want the paint to fill the groves in a way that made them disappear. He found other things to do as I was working on those. Now, while everything that needs painted is done, the frames and moulding are not up yet. We also plan baseboards. Sooooooo, I wont be posting photos until it is entirely finished. We are almost there though. I think we are done moving the vanity in and out of the bathroom. Willie got the flooring in while I was still painting the mouldings. It is shaping up very nicely and I cant wait to post before and after photos!
On a completely different note, look who's coming to see me tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait! Though, I guess, wait I must...... EXCITED!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ever So Distressing News

 A week or so ago I heard the most terrible news. It frightened me to my very core. My soul was shattered and left scattered about the floor. I find myself compelled to share the news. I worry that you also will be shaken, and disturbed, but it is something you must know. The fate of America and everything we hold dear is in dire straights. If we can't reverse this horror of horrors, our children and grand children will be deprived of the most important of American traditions.

What could have happened to put such a terror through my very being? Brace yourselves, this news is very hard to hear. If you have children in the room you may want to turn the computer away from their sight line. Those who are easily set to tears may want to stop reading now.

Ok, here goes. A beloved American institution, has filed for bankruptcy. Hostess, the company responsible for Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos may not be around for much longer. A shudder just went up my spine just thinking about it. There is something sad and dismal about the thought of a future America with out Twinkies readily available. What will state fairs shove on a stick, batter, deep fat fry, and and sell to fair goers? Ok, ok, bad example, state fairs do that to everything. Especially, the Iowa State Fair, that's why I love it so.  But I digress.....

My personal favorite of the Hostess treats are the Raspberry Zingers. The artificially flavored and colored raspberry goo, covered with coconut surrounding a cream filled Twinkie is a taste sensation that cannot be replaced. Zingers have gone through this before. The company that originated the Zinger, in an attempt to cut into the profit margins of the Twinkie and make some bucks themselves, Dolly Madison, went broke years ago. For whatever reason, Hostess decided to save the Zinger from total extinction. I was very grateful for this. Dolly Madison may have disappeared but my  Raspberry Zingers lived on. Who out there will save them this time?

Who will make these fabulous, if totally absent of nutritional value, snack cakes if Hostess can't find a way to survive? Who out there has the technology to create fake cream filled, pretend sponge cake wonders with the shelf life of an uncut diamond? How will Kahlen ever know the joy of digging into her lunch bag on a class field trip to find a squished up Ho Ho? Remember those special moments? First the disappointment of seeing your snack mushed up by the apple sitting on top of it, but then the excitement of pealing it off of the card board liner and licking the smashed remains off of the cellophane wrapper.

We must stop this tragedy in its tracks. Please, if you are reading this, stop! Get up and go to the store, buy a Twinkie, or Suzy Q, or my happy little favorite, a Zinger. Let's stop Hostess from going the way of Dolly Madison. You don't have to eat them, just buy them. Put them in a safe somewhere and one day you will have them for your great grandchildren. They will still be in perfect condition, barring a nuclear holocaust. Even then I hear that cockroaches and Twinkies will be all that survive.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A December Wedding

Photo by Katharyne Dunn Photography
My son got married on December 10, 2011! This year I have been the Mother of the Bride AND the Mother of the Groom with in three months of each other. Quite the year of strong emotions, crazy busyness and happy times. There were times the year flew at the speed of light and times I thought it would never be done. I honestly tried at one point to talk Josh and Caitlin into having their wedding in January or February, just to have a little more time between the two. They had their hearts set on December 10, two days after Josh's birthday and two days before Caitlin's, (something I think they will one day live to regret what with Christmas being in December as well. Ah, but they knew what they were doing.)

Photo by Katharyn Dunn Photography
If you have an event or want family
photos in the Des Moines Area
Look this Photographer up!
Caitlin had hoped for a snow storm a day or two before the wedding for pictures. A storm didn't happen, but we did have a little bit of snow on the ground, she had to have been freezing in this picture!

Josh and Caitlin's wedding was different than Alyssa and Shane's. Caitlin had always wanted to get married in her grandparents' church. With a church wedding comes a little longer ceremony, a little more tradition, and a bit more formality. As different as the two weddings were, both were so perfect.

The church was decorated for Christmas with large wreaths on the walls and very tall Christmas trees at the front. The colors used on the trees and wreaths were the same as the colors chosen by Caitlin for here bridal party. A happy coincidence, not planned in anyway. The church was beautiful, ready and waiting for a storybook December wedding.

The rehearsal the night before was a strange experience, I think in some ways all wedding rehearsals are. It was being run by two wedding coordinators from the church. One was a strange little man who was a bit of a control freak. And when I say bit, I mean complete and overwhelming, and when I say control freak, I mean ego maniacal dictator. That said, he did know his stuff. He just wanted things a little more formal perfect than the bride and groom. For instance, he told the groom, best man, groomsmen to stand up at the front like little soldiers with their hands at their sides, practically at attention. He barked his orders at them, "Ok, now, men, you are to stand up their, hands at your sides. No, Adam and Eve (he demonstrated by holding his hands together in front of him), no hands behind the back, no folded arms." They looked uncomfortable, and awkward, so Caitlin told them to practice the way he told them, then they all decided to hold their hands in front of them for the ceremony. They looked more comfortable, but I heard the wedding coordinator was not amused.

Mr. Coordinator also wanted Willie to follow Josh and I down the isle as he escorted me down to my seat. Willie didn't like that, so we decided to have him walk down with us with me in the middle. (Not the worst thing ever, I was wearing heels after all. )

The wedding the next day was beautiful. Josh looked every bit the grown up man about to be married. He was glowing as much as the bride. His tux fit him perfect, and as he stood up on the alter waiting for his bride to walk down the isle I was so proud of him, a tear welled up in my eye. His happiness filled the room.

The Mother of the Bride was escorted to her seat. Once there she and I went up to the alter and lit the candles that would be used by the bride and groom to light their unity candle. The candles that we were to light had the family names, Bair and Berry on them . As we got up to the candles we noticed that the candles were backwards. So, we quickly and quietly switched them, lit them and returned to our seats.  The bride's maids, Alyssa being one, and matron of honor entered and took their places. Alyssa looked very beautiful in her long burgundy dress and champagne colored sash. Her hair was up and to the side. It was curled in a way that framed her beautiful face, just so. Kahlen, the flower girl, wearing a champagne dress with a burgundy sash, and the ring bearer came marching down the isle, big toothy grins on both faces. Each bursting with pride, knowing that they were stealing the show. After all, Kahlen was an old pro at this sort of thing. She knew exactly what to do and how to do it. They both cooperated grandly, especially for being two year olds.

The intro to the wedding march signaled the arrival of the bride. Everyone stood up and watched as Caitlin, with her father at her side came down the isle. The lights on the wreaths, which had been dark, came on one by one as the bride and her father passed each one. She looked stunning. Her long veil flowing  gently behind her. Her dress sparkling but not as brightly as her eyes. Each step she took her smile grew wider as she looked at her groom waiting for her.  His eyes fixated on her, until finally she reached the alter.

The ceremony went well, their vows spoken, rings put on each of their fingers. Friends and family smiled and weeped tears of joy as the new bride and groom committed their lives to each other. Josh's sisters quietly watched and wiped their eyes as their only brother became a husband. Willie and I held hands, with Kahlen on my lap, as we witnessed another milestone in our only son's life.
I'm not sure who took this one...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shane and Alyssa's Reception

Yes, yes I know that on the 24th Alyssa and Shane will have been married for four months. Time has slipped away so quickly this year. With two of my children getting married, then Christmas I lost all track of time. And for a while the idea of sitting at the computer to write anything was just one more thing to do in a time of too much to do, hence the long absence of blogs. Things have calmed nicely and many wonderful things have gone on. Now, I am going to try and catch up a little, even if it means talking about things from four months ago.

Going for the garter

I have learned something about myself through the past year. Though I love to take photographs, when I am in the middle of something, like my child's wedding, I forget to take pictures of my own. All of the pictures on this blog were taken by others. I haven't been able to get a hold of the photographer's photos yet, so most of these were taken on cell phones, except for two taken by my friend Dawn.

 The evening went very well. Except for one detail. You may remember from a previous blog that I made 300 meatballs and sauce for the reception. They were fine, as was the chicken alfredo provided by Shane's mom, Anita. The noodles that went with them, the noodles were, well, disgusting. They were an overcooked pasty nasty mess. It was my own fault though, I bought thin spaghetti, thinking they would be easier to cook, and cook faster, and well, that they did.

Father Daughter Dance
The rest of the evening was perfect though. There was music and dancing and friends and family. The bride and groom's first dance was perfect. They looked so happy. Kahlen danced around them as they danced. People watched from the tables and some eyes welled a little, ok yeah mine. They looked so beautiful and in love. They both were finally able to just relax and enjoy their wedding, and their day. The overwhelmed bride and groom to be, quickly settled into the excitement of being the new husband and wife. A calm washed over both of them and they took time to just be a couple.

 I have to admit though, it was the father-daughter dance that got me. I watched from the side as my husband and our beautiful daughter danced to Billy Joel's Lullaby. Willie had listened to many songs trying to pick a perfect song to dance to with Alyssa. He decided on that one. As they danced Kahlen danced and circled around them. As I watched them I couldn't help but weep. Weep, yeah right, I was out and out bawling the whole time.  It was so beautiful. Alyssa looking like an angle, Willie so handsome and dapper in his tux, and Kahlen fluttering around like a little happy pixie. It was my favorite part of the night.

Kahlen spent much of the night running around the dance floor. She ran and ran all night long. Every once in a while I would chase her down, take a cookie that she had grabbed of the food table, out of her hand, put a vegetable in her hand and send her on her way again. She would eat the vegetable, but soon had another cookie in her hand again. Eating was not her top priority, eating well was not on the agenda at all.
No, Alyssa did not use this fork to eat with.

When Kahlen wasn't running around happily, she spent a lot of time on the dance floor studying. She watched intently as people danced around her. She listened to the music, watched feet and hands, and then would try to dance along. She boogied the night away. She was the energizer bunny of flower girls. She never stopped. And somehow, and to this day I have no idea how, she never spilled anything on her dress. It was like she just knew that this was a special night, not just for her mommy and daddy, but for her as well. She seemed to understand that her family was celebrating the most important thing in her life. She was as happy as the bride and groom.
If this picture was a little clearer it would be one of my favorites.
I love the way Kahlen is watching us.

 And, Willie danced with me! Now, you have to understand, that was a big deal. Willie does not like to dance. He hates it as a matter of fact. I, on the other hand, love to dance. Not that I do it well, but I love it none the less. So, when Willie said he would dance with me, I was thrilled. Being the rare thing that it was, people got up and started snapping pictures. Alyssa even made the photographer get her camera back out to take a picture. As flashes went off around us, Willie got self conscious. He also hates having his picture taken. I kept telling him to just ignore them and look at me. We laughed and it was a wonderful dance.

As the night ended we cleaned up the hall and Alyssa and Shane sat down to breath. Both happy with the way the day and night went, they prepared to leave. They chased Kahlen down and got her to stand still long enough to give her hugs and kisses. Then, leaving her with Willie and me, they left for a night to themselves. Now husband and wife, a new life in front of them.