Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sad Post

I better write this quick - while I'm feeling transparent.

School has started in Austin, and my Facebook and Mom groups are filled with pictures of the first day of Kindergarten, 1st grade, and so on ... The reviews from each parent's child varies from excited to scared over leaving their parents for the first time.

This is a grand assumption on my part. I am not trying to chime in on the Mommy War, and my opinion is admittedly very biased.

I should be happy that Olivia is getting so many life experiences, and that she is building the self confidence to explore the world on her own. Selfishly, though, I am not. I want her to want me all the time, and I want to be there all the time.

I'm very happy as a single Mom. Olivia's father is happy as a single man. We both are who we are, and therefore everyone is happier when we're not married. That doesn't stop a part of me from feeling angry from time to time. I'm angry that marriage didn't play out how I wanted it to. I wanted be home to raise my child(ren) no matter the sacrifice. I wanted to be there for every moment of her young life. I wanted school and separation to be a distant thought, not a part of our daily routine from the beginning.

After spending ten days with my baby girl, my heart is aching for her today. I miss our leisurely breakfasts, day time adventures, cuddles before nap time, and every cute moment she thinks up during the day. I hate hearing second hand about how she put her baby dolls away after nap before she even left the room. I want to praise her macaroni art work, and teach her 1-2-3.

I want to be a stay at home mom. On my worst days, I have to admit I still blame Chris for being selfish. I blame him for not making the sacrifices that would allow for a more conventional life, the one I thought we were building. In the end, though, that's not reality. Most days, I feel nothing but how grateful I am to have her. I never question why I married Chris so young, or why I stayed as long as I did. The bigger picture is that Liv is the why. She was meant for me and she makes my future nothing but bright.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My First Attempt at a Staycation

I'm back to our routine after a nice long "staycation." Needing to burn more vacation hours before my real vacation next month, I took a little over a week off to spend with my baby girl.

We had A TON of fun, and I have a ton of pictures to go with it. For today, though, all I have is random iPhone pics of her sweetness.

I'm not sure why I find this so cute. It's a baby ... in a box.

She put the necklace and hat on herself and was soooo proud of herself!

She wants to be just like Mommy. She found the gloves and cleaning supplies herself. Again, I'm not sure who's prouder - her or me.

This all started with her finding a mitt and thinking it was a sock. Once I showed her it was for her hands, she started insisting on wearing socks on her hands. And her feet. At all times, even in Texas August heat.

Two notes on this child's hair:
1. Look at how blond our staycation made her hair! One guess what we did everyday for a week. ;-)
2. I (meaning she) can't take it anymore. Bangs coming to an Olivia near you this Wednesday.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Busy Bees

Obviously, we've been swimming and trying out different pools. We also made an attempt at Bubblepalooza. The idea is that there are bubbles and games and music for kids. It was HOT. Liv was scared of all the people. She was stuck on me like white on rice. I sweat my ass off. I'm going to call it a fail. She did spy the parachute and played under it briefly. Then she cried.


Mom's house is going on the market Friday. Officially, this time. I think we'll spend this week helping her out and letting Liv decompress for a few days. Between play dates, swimming, visits with her Dad, Bubblepalooza, and birthday parties, the poor kid is a little overwhelmed. Sometimes in life, you just need to stop and catch your breath!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 7

So far, Day 1 and Day 6 are the only days I haven't cheated the fast. Overall, I think I'm doing well, though. Day 7 is looking good!

The real victims here are my parents. They are being dragged through this with me. My mother is willing, my father is ... hesitant. When I told him last night I was making Jambalaya with brown rice instead of white, and turkey instead of sausage ... Well, both my parents were giving me the side eye. Honestly, I was a little nervous, too.

We almost exactly used the Playing House Jambalaya recipe.

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Cajun hot sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup brown rice
Add the chicken broth and brown rice to a pan and cook as directed for rice. In a deeper pan, cook the bell pepper and garlic with the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the ground turkey, onion, salt, pepper, and red pepper and cook until browned and vegetable are soft. Stir in the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Eat over rice with Louisiana hot sauce.


We were all eyeing this thing thinking it didn't look good at all, but it was delicious! Even Olivia ate a whole bowl, and she's a picky girl. This one will go in the repeat category. Maybe next time I'll actually have more spices to put in it, although with the veggies and pepper and hot sauce, I don't think it needed any more. The turkey jambalaya was very reminisce of beans and rice ... but with turkey and lots of vegetables!

One funny thing I learned about my father last night: His Louisiana hot sauce is from Schotzsky's.

Yep, I said Schlotzsky's. He is very particular about his Cajun food, and this completely took me by surprise. He was right, though. It was good!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kitchen Details

*The story of my kitchen remodel is here.
* The back story and drama is here.

I just got back from having the house appraised for my refinance, so I was up until midnight last night trying to get the kitchen finished.

Just last week, I finished grouting the back splash tile. Last night I installed all the outlets and outlet covers, microwave vent cover, and touched up the paint. The day before yesterday I painted the laundry and pantry doors and hung them. This morning my mother had to put the dishwasher back together and install the door knobs!

It's been a long slow process, but I love the outcome.

I added a cabinetry above and to the left of the refrigerator, giving it a built-in look. The cabinets are American Woodmark by Home Depot. The quality blows the Home Depot stock cabinets out of the water for just about $800 more.

I replaced the light in the dining room, too. It's pretty basic, but I wanted something that matched the fixtures in the kitchen, but didn't stand out and distract from the kitchen. The light in the kitchen was replaced when we first moved in.

I still need to replace the light above the sink. I'm torn between something super girly (for our house of women) like a chandelier or something more industrial that is so popular right now. Which ones do you like?

The counter tops are New Venetian Gold granite. It is readily available in Texas, so was so affordable. I really had to fight to get granite in the house, but ex-husband's don't get a say so. ;-) This is the same granite I have in the master bathroom. Austin Granite Direct did both the master bathroom and the kitchen.

The guest bathroom has a stock granite counter top from Home Depot. Again, the quality just doesn't compare. The New Venetian Gold is so much thicker and more durable than the guest bathroom. And for the record, I will never, ever, EVER do black counter tops again. Thank goodness it's just in this one tiny space.

The back splash is Durango Travertine in 1x3 (or is it 1x4?) inch tiles. I think it might be my favorite part of the kitchen! Maybe because (with the help of my mother) I installed it myself? Where as Chris and his friends did the cabinets, and a pro did the counters. I bought the back splash tile from a tile contractor I found on Craigslist. I know, sketchy, but it saved me a ton of money! I got the 12"x12" mesh-bound tiles for under $6 a square foot. 

Another short cut I did that really helped a DIYer like myself was use the premixed grout from Home Depot. It saved me a ton of steps, and has so far been a great product.

All in all, the kitchen has:
  • All new cabinets
  • Granite counters
  • Updated light fixtures
  • Tile back splash
  • New laundry room and pantry doors (replaced the old plain doors with six panel)
  • Under mount, extra deep sink
  • New faucet (which I don't love, but it was an upgrade and it was -FREE-)
  • New disposal
The appliances are all Kenmore from 2006. I'd love to have stainless steel, but that's just not in the budget on this house. Maybe for the next house ... in the distant, distant future. I'm really settling in and looking forward to using and enjoying MY house!

Special mention to my mother, who helped throughout this whole process. She gave blood, sweat, and probably some tears right along with me.

The Evolution of a Kitchen

There's a lot to say about my kitchen. My kitchen. I don't even know where to start.

Originally, it was honey colored oak cabinets with faux wood grain laminate counters. You know, like every house built in the 80s. When we bought the house, the previous owners had painted the entire dining room and kitchen walls burnt orange, and had painted the outside trim of the cabinets dark brown. It was actually worse than it's original state.

Excuse the mess. I don't have the true before pictures, but do you really need to see more?

I love DIYing. However, I was nervous about redoing an entire kitchen. Since kitchens are so important, I didn't want to do it wrong. So I hired a "professional." In this case, exchange professional for criminal. $4000 later, they left my kitchen even worse, if you can imagine that. No doors or drawers on the cabinets, and everything was the wrong color.

I don't have any full kitchen pictures of it in this state, but here are some close-ups.

That was their finished product. Long story short, we were out a kitchen and out of money. FIVE YEARS LATER, I finally got over my spite and empty bank account, and we decided to start again. Yes, I lived with no drawers or doors for 5 years. I like to keep it klassy. ;-) Since I live in an, ahem, budget friendly house, I didn't want to spend $20k or more on updating the kitchen. We originally ordered the Home Depot in-stock cabinets.

About half way through the installation, I realized these cabinets were not going to work. They were literally falling apart before we even got them installed.

Home Depot rocked my socks off, and returned the cabinets! We had to spent about $1000 more, but we got some upgraded cabinets. This most recent remodel started October 16, 2011. I had a completely gutted kitchen until December 6 of last year. Months of no sink, no cabinets, no counters ... nothing. This was due mostly to having to return cabinets and special order the new ones. Also partly due to someone who-shall-remain-nameless not wanting to get off his ass and work on the kitchen.

I will say, the wait was worth it. I'm going to call it and say ... drum roll please ... my kitchen is complete!! There are still a few minor details, and yes these are iPhone pictures from midnight last night. However, this is probably the only time my kitchen will be this organized and together again. Toddler and all, ya know?

I obviously still need to decorate. I have not been able to find a shade of turquoise/teal/aqua that I like. I need a new color. I may just go with white! I'm planning on replacing the light above the sink in a couple months ... I think I just might have a crystal chandelier in mind. ;-) I also noticed that I forgot to put the vent cover on the microwave. Oops!

Is it my dream kitchen? No. Is it a helluva lot better than I thought I'd ever have in this house? Yes. Are you ready for this? You are looking at a kitchen remodel that cost under $5000. I'm super proud of all the hard work that we put in. I'm proud to say I did that.

It's not bad to cook a meal in, either. ;-)

About Me

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South Austin, Texas, United States
Consider yourself warned ... I'm "that" Mom.

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