Updates on Stuff Around Here

Today has been full of both ups and downs. First the downs:

Little Josiah woke with a 101+ fever, thus rendering him yucky-feeling and rather clingy for much of the day. Mommy wonders if she too has a touch of whatever he has, but either way, she has been less clingy. She is however, rather in need of a bath since her last shower was 48 hours ago. Unlike manly Jay, she was not willing to shower in the cold last night, so she has patiently awaited the return of the working gas hot water heater. The boys were sad that we could not attend our anticipated playdate with friends this morning due to the need to wait for city inspectors to approve the large repiping job our plumbers did the past few days.

But…on the upside:

A very friendly lady inspector arrived during the first half of the 8am to 5pm service window, and after looking everything over, quickly signed off on the job as well done (this means hopefully no more time or money invested on that part of the house!), our plumbers arrived not too long after to restart the furnace and hot water heater, Josiah took a good long nap, and tonight, for the first time since moving into our home, we enjoyed GRILLED MEAT because we now have a gas hookup for our grill. Here is a picture of us sitting down to one of the children’s favorite meals: hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob!!

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Also, I am so happy to report that the toilet in the third bath is fully operational after Jay’s diligent work (and he can tell you this 3rd toilet was NOT the charm – heheh!). Actually, it was operational yesterday, but we were too busy having fun at our end of school picnic last night to report on such things here.

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Replacing the toilet meant going with a taller, more modern version than the 1965 one we pulled out (notice how I casually use the pronoun “we”), and after installing the new potty you can see the old wallpaper which is now exposed…

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…when they textured over this wallpaper however many years ago, they could not reach the area behind the original tank. So, I get to add “learning how to texture walls” to my list of new skills. I am thankful that this spot is in such a small and somewhat hidden area as walls go.

Jay the Home Improvement Guy

Today we had some plumbers come to the house to start a job we had taken bids for back in the fall. They have their work cut out for them, replacing the copper gas lines under our pier and beam home with the more up-to-date variety. By way of aside, we will be without hot water for a couple days due to the need to shut off the gas during this operation. Well, about an hour after they arrived, we discovered a major leak under the sink in Abigail’s bathroom, which had unfortunately soaked the cabinet in which the plumbing was housed to the point of damaging it. Then in almost the same moment, the toilet in that same bath (and the only toilet in the house Jay has not replaced since we moved in) decided to give up the ghost. We joked to the poor plumbers that we suspected they might be quietly going around the house sabotaging things!

Well, anyway, as I write this, my manly man is replacing that dead toilet. Just lugging the heavy thing outside to dispose of it is a chore in and of itself. He hopes to finish installing the new toilet this evening, and at least begin work on the faucet which had also deteriorated to the point of needing replacement (hence the leak). Before we lived here, Jay had never learned to deal with plumbing issues or do a number of things that he has in these past seven months managed to get himself up to speed on. All of us around here are reaping the benefits of his hard work, and the house’s condition is improving, little by little.

Of course, it’s easy for me to say – after all, I’m the one doing the delicate typing while he splashes around in the toilet muck – but I feel such a sense of satisfaction every time we accomplish something which improves and beautifies our home. It is very hard work, but so rewarding. And I am very, very proud of my favorite home improvement guy.

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DIY Tips Learned the Hard Way 2

When you set a toilet in place, if it has a bit of a rock to it, no amount of tightening the bolts will stabilize it.

First, make sure it really is in place and you’ve mashed down the wax ring so that the toilet is fully on the floor. If it continues to rock, you probably have tile that is a bit uneven or some other anomaly with your floor. Here’s what you do. Go raid your kid’s piggy bank and get some pennies. Use the pennies as shims around the edge of the toilet to stabilize it, making sure the weight is distributed across several pennies.

When you caulk around the bottom of the toilet at the end of the job, it will both hide the pennies and ensure they stay in place. Assuming you use white caulk instead of clear. Which you should, for this very reason.

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Don’t skimp on plumber’s putty. It’s just not worth it. Sure, as you tighten things down, a bunch will squeeze out that you’ll have to clean up. But that’s 10 seconds of work. Reinstalling everything 4 months after you originally installed it is much more irritating.

Refurbished Chandelier

A big thank you to my mom and dad who, in November bequeathed to us a chandelier they took down when they moved into their new home; they already owned a cherished fixture which they wanted to hang in its place. I brought the chandelier back to Dallas and with the help of an incredibly cute little blonde, blueberry-eyed boy, removed the lights and covers, and prepared it for painting:

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After Nicolas and I painted the chandelier a satin black, Jay found a little piece of molding at Home Depot, which we painted to match the fixture, and a couple of weeks ago he installed the whole thing in our dining room which used to look like this:

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And here it is, now with the new light in place:

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Admittedly, not much of a make-over has yet taken place in the dining room…but at least we have picked a paint color! It will be fun when the walls in here are red…I am really looking forward to decorating this room!

And, I was so thrilled to find out just how simple it is to paint a chandelier and give it a whole new look. When your chandelier just happens to be free, all you spend money on is the can of spray paint (and the optional molding). Quite a deal compared to some of the other projects we’re involved with around the House of Horne!

More Surgery…

It’s been quiet here at House of Horne – not much to write about, because last week the Daddy had a big ole sinus surgery. On Valentine’s Day of all days. Highly romantic! (Poor Jay!)

Many of you are aware that Jay has an alarming propensity toward sinus infections, and gets sick quite often despite many precautionary measures and allergy meds. Well, after ongoing consultations with an ENT, it was determined that Jay had a deviated septum, among other issues. Last Wednesday, the surgeon went in to remedy that, excavate his sinuses and do a bit of other work, which perhaps Jay himself will detail for you later.

Post-surgery, Jay went to the wonderful guest quarters at his folks’ home to recover. While the children and I missed him for those 3 days, he was comfortable (as comfortable as someone who has had major sinus surgery can be!) and cared for at John/Ruth’s, and we are convinced it significantly aided in his recovery. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) The doctors wanted Jay to move, bend, DO as little as possible after he got home. Any tiny movement those first few days served to increase the bleeding post-surgery. So, being in a place with lots of quiet, and no bouncy, albeit loving little children around, served to help in healing.

Anticipating Jay’s return home sometime this weekend, we set about preparing a surprise for him: I used my time in the evenings after the children were in bed, and some of the daytime, to prime and paint our front entry hall, which was an interesting shade of brown when we moved in. We wanted to brighten and lighten it up. Here is the way it used to look.

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The children worked very hard on a homecoming sign for their Daddy which we strung up in the freshly painted hall, to greet him as he came through the front door. At his request we took no pictures of the surgery patient, but here is what he saw:

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And here is a shot of the door with that same little boy standing in front of it!

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After the moldings/door are painted a fresh white and the light fixture is replaced, we will be all finished in the hall!

We’ll keep ya posted on the patient’s recovery. It is wonderful to have Jay home again, though we are sorry he continues to have really hard nights with little sleep achieved. All the kids are eager to “help” make him feel better, so they are thrilled to be able to see him all during the day. For now, we are limiting visits, and saying “please be gentle!” quite a lot! But readers, I must close: I think I need to bring our patient some yogurt!

In Costume

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Why do you suppose I am wearing this clever getup? I’ll give you three answers, from which you may choose your favorite:

1 – I just needed a fresh new look – after all, I’ve been wearing the same “Suburban Stay at Home Mommy Garb” for over 8 years now.

2 – Having way too much free time on my hands, I am off to a daytime masquerade party for other Mommies with Way Too Much Free Time on Their Hands.

3 – I am doing my best to protect my eyes, nose and mouth as I prepare to sand the mudded ceiling in the boys’ bathroom as part of the ongoing remodel.

If you guessed “3”, you were right on the money. The sanding went ok, though I admit I had a great deal of difficulty breathing, as I perched high on my ladder with dust raining down on me. Bleck. But, I got the job done. Here is what I looked like when I finished:

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Very classy indeed!

We are making great headway on the bathroom project. Hopefully we’ll have pictures for you soon!

Such excitement!

While this may not prove vastly exciting to all our readers, I feel I have to announce that today we have embarked upon what is to us a wonderful chapter in our home improvement efforts, and one which we believe will greatly increase the aesthetic appeal of our new casa: the painting of the walls!!

For 4 months we have lived with a huge and shall I say, very much outside what we consider our taste, assortment of paint colors in this house. Everything from very sad-looking, dingy beige (not a nice, pleasing shade of cream for all of you out there who are quite happy with your more neutral-toned walls!), to a neon yellow to some color that I don’t think I could actually find in a store even if I were looking to match it – it’s an awful green paired with a blue splotchy ceiling in the boys’ bathroom. Just hideous. Given it’s one of the smaller rooms we have to tackle, and since it also needs some other attention beside just color improvement to make it functional for our little guys, we’ve chosen it for our first room makeover candidate. Here are some “before” photos for you to enjoy….stay tuned for the photos of the finished product!

Here is the sink area which has always been lacking a mirror and light fixture (the small blue circular area is where we had wire pulled so Jay can install the vanity light fixture), but has plenty of green wall to enjoy:

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And here you can fully appreciate the green/blue color scheme in all its glory (actually, it looks worse in person IMHO), and see another area where we had wire dropped to allow for Jay to install a tub light:

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New Headboard for Abigail’s Bed

Early last year, we returned our second borrowed twin bed to Peter/Katie for sweet Sarah to graduate into. (Thanks, guys, for the several-year-loan of your wonderful beds.) At that time, we knew a move to a smaller house was in our future, and in preparation for losing that 5th bedroom/guestroom, we moved our comfy queen-sized bed into Abigail’s room, since 1) it was the only bed we had to give her and 2) we planned to eventually allow her room to function as a guest room and a queen bed is more conducive to guests than a teensy twin!

This meant she had to say goodbye to the headboard I’d painted for her “big girl” room several years back, and so I began searching for a queen sized headboard/footboard to “girlify” her new nest. (Note: I have decided that hunting for furniture bargains is a HUGE hobby of mine. Big shocker to my husband, I know! I love being able to furnish our home for a fraction of what it would cost me to walk into a store and pick out pieces sold there.) Anyway, I gave myself a reasonable, yet modest budget ($25-50) and searched for something that could be painted. And while I came across lots of very acceptable choices it seemed impossible to find something “sweet” that didn’t look generic, or as if it were more suited to an older person than for a little girl. The other thing I discovered as I searched was that while double and full sized headboards were everywhere for the taking, there were far fewer queens to choose from. (The double size has been around forever, the queen, not so long.)

After doing some calculations and making some inquiries, I determined that one could, if one was not super picky, try using a double-sized headboard on a queen bed. And probably make it work. This made the search a little easier..and just before Christmas I found the perfect headboard. It was wrought iron with beautiful scrolls and flowers that gave it a younger feel than many of the other headboards I’d found. I bought it at this place (neat bit of trivia on this store is that the owner’s name is Horne too…so they are always happy to see me when I go in!) and came in under my budget ceiling. Always nice. Last Thursday, after a few weeks’ stay in Grammy Ruth’s guest room (where I’m told it was very happy!), we brought the headboard home and set it up with Abigail’s bed, and we LOVE IT!! When the weather gets warmer, Abigail and I will drag it back outside and have fun painting it white, per her request.

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Besides pairing a full-sized headboard with the queen-sized bed, there is one more “trick” I used in setting up Abigail’s bed, and that regards the quilt on top. When she moved into her big girl room at 22months, we purchased this adorable quilt shown with the patches of little girls in various scenes all over it. It was a twin-sized quilt intended for her then twin-sized bed. But, as I mentioned earlier, we are now dealing with a queen bed. While I do hope to someday acquire/make new, queen bedding for the room, I wanted to use what she had for the time being, and we have done this rather successfully, by simply taking a queen sized quilt, flipping it over to its plain white side, and laying it on the bed, then draping her twin size on top. It may have been Stephie who suggested this wonderful idea to me, and if so, kudos to her! At any rate, the twin quilt perfectly fits across the top side of the queen bed, you can see the edges in green where it ends. It works beautifully…and perhaps it will be a helpful tip for any of you possibly trying to use a twin quilt/spread on a larger bed!

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