Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Strano ribbon - "Carrie"

Strano ribbon - "Carrie"
Originally uploaded by art chick.
Ok. I am basically a very visual person. I can get totally lost in something when I look at it. Which is why the Strano Ribbon site is so very dangerous for me. Oh, it's not like I buy tons of it or anything. Most of the designs are too girly for me to use in my scrapbooks of the boys. But man... it's just so gorgeous! I love clicking through the pages and looking at it all.

I'm sure I'll get around to finding a way to use their ribbon for something. Then look out!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Kitchen - Before

Kitchen - Before
Originally uploaded by art chick.

I've been so intent on the renovation process that I didn't realize that most of you hadn't seen the kitchen we tore down. This wasn't original to the house. It was remodeled in the late 80's or early 90's.

If you look closely you'll notice the lovely pink countertops, the small fridge which was originally on the opposite side of the room, and the wall oven. Oh, yeah, and the floor.

*You can click that photo and it will take you to a few more close ups of the kitchen before we started*

This whole overhaul came about because we were going to have to replace the countertops (darn... and it was such a lovely shade of pink). The counters weren't installed right so at each seam there was either a gap or a ridge. You couldn't sit things over the seams or they'd slant or tumble over. And food crumbs fell into the gaps. Yum.

We liked the wall oven, but replacing it and a cooktop was too expensive for us. One of the burners on the old cooktop had stopped working sometime last winter so we added that to the list of things we had to replace. You'd think that half a range would cheaper than a regular range, right? Oh, nooooooo. Cooktops start at around $250 and the wall ovens are even more! So we're happy with our flat top range. Yay, cheaper range!

The whole cabinet thing was decided because the fridge was falling apart. How does that impact cabinets? Well, Rusty's mom lived by herself for over 15 years. She had purchased the very smallest fridge on the market. The size they make very few of any more (at our Lowe's they had none on the floor). We just figured we'd buy a bigger fridge, especially since we have a family of four. Including two boys that would be eating more and more as they get bigger. But wait! The guy who installed the last cabinets? Built them around the small fridge. No other size fridge would fit that space.

This whole renovation has really been a result of a series of discoveries as we went along with the original plan of just fixing the cosmetics. We're thrilled that it's finally coming together but man! Between doing assembly and layout of the cabinets and floor pretty much ourselves and the upheaval in our lives with the boys? I'm really hoping we never have to do something like this again!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Kitchen shock

Kitchen shock
Originally uploaded by art chick.
Well? They're in. The counters. They're installed and smooth and beautiful and so smooth. I can't stop rubbing the counter every time I go into the kitchen! The boys were amazed that the kitchen looked so different after the installers left.

NOTE: The installers were so incredibly nice and did a wonderful job. Thank you, Surface Technologies! (and "You stink!" to Home Depot for making us wait so long).

If you click that photo of Sean, showing his absolute disbelief that we actually have countertops? You will be able to see the photos of the kitchen from this afternoon!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Kitchen Update Again

In the process
Originally uploaded by art chick.
See that? That's our kitchen. It's "almost done". That's the official status - "almost done". It would be "DONE" except for the fact that we had to stop work for two weeks while Home Depot decided to lose our paperwork for the Corian countertops (funny, they didn't lose the ginormous deposit that we had to pay). We have everything finished as far as cabinets but aren't putting the doors or drawer fronts on until after the countertops are installed. Tomorrow. Yeah, that's right. Tomorrow. Can you believe it? I'm giddy.

In case you were wondering, they suggested waiting with the doors and such so that they don't get dinged and scratched when they're installing the counters.

After tomorrow? Well... we pick out hardward for the drawers (we have picked it out, we just have to pick it up at the store). Then we put on the doors and such. Then we move all of our kitchen things actually back into the kitchen from the living room, family room, computer room, our bedroom and yes, even the bathroom where we've had to wash dishes the last two months. All of the cosmetic stuff will be done after that - the trim, light fixtures, painting. I don't care about that process. That's fun for me. I'm just slightly geeked out over the fact that having my own kitchen sink again is getting me so excited. I'm considering making popcorn, pulling up chairs and inviting the neighbors to watch the installation.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Conversations with Sean (Age 3)

Scene: Sean wanders into the computer room, pants-free.

Me: "Uh, Sean... where are your pants?"

Semi-naked Sean: "Someone took them off"

Me: "Sean, there is no one else here beside you and me"

Semi-naked and proud of it Sean: "Maybe Daddy took them off"

Me: "Sean, Daddy is at work"

Semi-naked and very good at pretending to be shocked Sean: "Well, someone took them off!" [goes along his merry way]

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Father's Day Book

Rusty's Father's Day Book
Originally uploaded by art chick.
Liam and Sean and I spent last week trying to be sneaky making a Father's Day surprise for Rusty. Liam picked out the little red album with the rings and some canvas "Dad" stickers (Sean didn't pick anything out, he just cheered us on). I wasn't sure how to put all of this together but I knew that I wanted to include photos of Rusty's dad. I wanted to find out, for myself as well as for Rusty, what characteristics he and his father shared in their parenting. Since I never had a chance to meet Rusty's dad (he died when Rusty was in high school) I had to rely on photos and Rusty's mom's version.

Now, there's nothing wrong with Rusty's mom's version. But it is his mom's version. She was married to one and the mother of the other. I wasn't sure if she'd be able to really see the similarities. Or if being so close to Rusty and his father, she would only see them as individuals who had totally different roles in her life. To her credit? She did a great job with the note I asked her to write. I tucked it behind the photo of Rusty fishing with his dad and brother (I made a little pocket behind the photo so the note could stay semi-private).

Anyway, here are the photos of the album. If you click that photo, above, it'll take you to the rest of the book. It feels a little bit unfinished to me, probably because I would have junked it up more. And though Rusty loves my work and totally supports everything I've done or made? He's not super funky in the artistic sense. And seeing as how this book is for him, I didn't want him to feel like it was made for anyone but him.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Father's Day Post

So this is my third attempt at writing something for my dad. To tell him that I love him so much and am so thankful for all he's done for me (and probably given up for me as well). To tell him how much I respect and admire him. Why would it be so hard to say something like that to my own dad?

When I talk about my dad, it doesn't occur to me that I should call him my "stepdad". Though technically he is. Technically, he married my mom when I was five after my biological father, who was a bit of a mess, had left my mom divorced with two small children and some pretty crappy self-esteem a few years before. My dad not only married my mom, he adopted my brother and I and we took on his last name. We became a family.

Somewhere along the way, that family got a little messy. Combine the self-centeredness of your average teenager with the self-consciousness of the same teenager because her "real" father never called or wrote or stopped by even though he ended up living in the same city. My relationship with my dad during my teenage years involved a lot of yelling. From both of us. Me, because I thought I was right. And my dad? Because he was right. Quite honestly, there are very few, if any times, I can look back at the fights my dad and I had and say was I right and he was wrong. My dad argued and yelled at me because he was trying to keep me in line but more importantly, trying to protect me. Of course, at 15 or 16 years old I didn't see that. I didn't want to see that. Even in my early twenties I don't think I realized it yet. But now at the ripe old age of 32, with my own kids, I think I'm starting to get it. And I am so ashamed that it took me this long.

My dad didn't just get married in 1977. He took on two little kids. Kids that not only weren't his own, but came from a biological father who's family is annoying to say the least. But he took us in as his own. We were never referred to as his "step-children" even when he and my mom had two more daughters (and my sisters have never once been my "half-sisters". Please. Don't make me slap you.) Our family is very important to him, even though he doesn't say it often. I know it now. My dad loves us and my mom more than I ever realized. I watched him cry in the emergency room when my mom had her first seizure and it broke my heart.

My dad? I owe him so much for not giving up on me or throwing my annoying teenaged butt out onto the street. I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all of the frustration I caused. And I'm so thankful that he is my dad. He is a fabulous grandfather (this man who used to complain about gas milage now drives my boys back and forth up and down the driveway so they can ride in "Grandpa's truck"). He is a great father-in-law; Rusty loves sitting and watching sports with "Big Dave" when the families get together. Most of all, my dad is a good man. My dad is not my biological father. But he is most definitely my real dad.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Unmounted stamp addict

The naked stamp
Originally uploaded by art chick.
Call me an enabler (some of you already have) but I finally got the photos up with descriptions of how and what to do with unmounted stamps - both rubber and polymer. Click that photo to the right. It will take you to a group of photos with directions for each step. You can also click each photo to enlarge it to get a better look. NOTE: if you choose to view the photos as a "slide show" you will not be able to see the directions for each photo.

Lianne, if you're reading this? All of this applies to the Wordsworth stamps I bought you a while back (I don't know if you've used them or not). Marco's sells EZ Cling (or they did) and I think Stamp Your Art Out sells some as well though it may be another brand of cling foam.

Jodi? See what you started when you sucked me into the world of unmounted stamps a few years ago? I'm spreading the love, sister.

Linda, I take no responsibility for your buying sprees after reading this innocent, totally non-enabling post.

Here are some great resources for unmounted stamps, though it's by no means even the beginning of what's out there:

Waxing Nostalgia (Owned by River City Rubber)
Cat's Life Press
Ma Vinci's Reliquary
Invoke Arts
Wendi Speciale
Stamp Camp
Rubber Trouble - Various unmounted companies available through one online store & source for inexpensive EZ Mount
Rubber Stamp Connection (Ebay Store)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tonight, I was overpowered by beauty in the midst of our nightly routine. Rusty had to go in to work to get ready for some upgrades they're doing tomorrow. He got Sean ready and into bed while I read to Liam, then he left. As Liam was brushing his teeth, I happened to glance out the window and saw the lightening bugs.

Now, Liam has been talking non-stop about lightening bugs. When are the lightening bugs coming and where do the lightening bugs live and why aren't they here yet cause I want to see them now! So when I saw the little flickers of light darting across the lawn, I knew what had to be done. I told Liam to get Blue Bear settled in bed then come to the front door. I put my finger to my lips to quiet him so we didn't wake Sean, and we opened the door and tip-toed outside. The second we hit the porch, Liam saw them. He squealed and took off running across the front lawn in his jammies.

I'll be the first to admit, I don't know anything technical or biological about lightening bugs (or fireflies as others call them - I seem to bounce back and forth between the two terms). But last year? The lightening bugs were few and far between. Not sure why. But this year... tonight... they were everywhere. Across the lawns, in the street, above in the trees. Those lights were blinking back and forth to each other like they were all trying to talk at once. Liam took off after one, it would fly too high out of his reach then he'd see one buzz his head and he'd turn and run for that one. He was giggling and his smile... his smile, totally oblivious to me or anything else besides those lightening bugs... his smile killed me. I sat in the grass, with just enough dusk light left to see what was important.

Liam and I spent about twenty minutes outside then I hauled him back in. To his credit, he did not want to come in but didn't throw a fit. As we said his prayers, he thanked God for Mommy, Daddy, Sean and the lightening bugs. It totally makes up for the fact that deviating from his normal routine has caused him to be up six times now since I've put him to bed.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Blah-ity blah

I'm sure many of you have noticed (as if there is a large crowd reading this?) that lately my posts have been just not as perky as usual. Not bad, just not as fun? Anyway, here's the deal.

It is now officially summer break. I'm getting a lot of "Mommy, can we go to the beach?" and "Mommy, when is my soccer camp starting?" and "Mommy, can we go to Hershey Park this week?" from the kids. Mostly Liam. Now, these are all things we've said we're going to do this summer. Along with heading out to Cincinnati at least once, probably more, to take care of bridesmaid dress pick-up, tux fittings and general frivolity of the wedding and baby shower sort. But smack in the middle of all of this -- the big thing that is filtering down and affecting all these other things -- is Liam's assessment and when we'll need to be in Cincinnati for the appointment.

** If you haven't read up until now, or don't know the whole "Assessment Saga", click here to read up **

Ok, so we have gone through the referral, filled out the packet, talked to the extremely just-couldn't-be-nicer people on the phone. We were told Liam would most likely be seen in July. Send the packet back, we'll call you. We sent the packet back the first week in May. No call by May 19th so I call them. Again, very nice on the phone. Says Liam is on the waiting list to be scheduled and if we don't hear by few weeks into June, to call again. No word as of today, I call again this morning. Before I go any further, please understand that not once have these people been rude, condescending, or put me off. They are wonderful! But today I call and the woman lets me know that they've lost a doctor and we most likely won't even get a call to schedule an appointment for at least two more weeks because they are so backed up.

Now, again, I understand. Cincinnati Children's is a phenomenal hospital. They've been a million times nicer than anyone we talked to here with the exception of our own pediatrician. And I understand that they are just overloaded. So I try to be patient. I'm trying to not worry about it. I mean, I even think about Liam's issues every day anyway (unless he has one of those days, then I think "Man, we really need to see what's going on with him!").

But it's been hard overall because Liam's initial physical, the one that started all of this, was back in March. So since March, we've known that something is up with Liam (which, really, we already knew). But in March, it was pretty much confirmed by Liam's doctor. So we've waited and wondered. And that's the very hardest thing. I know it's not like he has cancer or something life threatening that requires immediate intervention. But he's my child. And I see him struggle at times and want to know why so that we can help him not have to struggle quite so much!

Bottom line? I'm taking this back to God and dropping it at his feet again. For the bazillionth time. I know I can't spend the summer spazzing out. That's not fair to the kids, it's not fair to Rusty. And it's not fair to me. So please, keep this in your prayers. And we'll send you a postcard from Hershey Park.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Girl Gift

Girlie girl gift

This? This is the girliest girl present in the history of girldom. As the mother of two boys, rare is the opportunity to live life on the pink side. It took me mere minutes to pick out the gift. When you rarely get to buy for a girl you tend to gravitate to Barbie. When Barbie is too mature, you go for her back-up -- The Disney Princesses. And this gift has the Disney Princesses. All of the Disney princesses. In book form. A set of eight of them. With a CD (which is also pink). The card? No, I didn't go overboard and get a matching princess card. Give me some credit. The card is My Little Pony. With glitter.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily say I've "turned to the pink side". But it is way fun to play here every once in a while.

(Did you see? The gift bag is a purse for pete sake. With little metal handles. And a working latch. Someone help me, that's just way too cute).

Friday, June 10, 2005

House Renovations - Chapter ?

Ok, for the last week? We've had siding/trim guys in the yard. So this was my week, starting with a preface last Thursday. Keep in mind, this is the most reputable company in the area with literally 20 plus pages of references.

[phone rings] "Hello, this is ****** Company. We'll be getting started on the trim work today."

Us: "Yay!"

Us (later in the day): "Why did someone leave multiple ladders and boxes all over our yard? Hello? Anyone here....?"

Friday: No word on multiple ladders and boxes. Ladders and boxes multiply sometime during the day. Still no actual human beings to be seen.

Skip over the weekend (weekend, yay! Woo hoo!)

Monday: One lone kid, about college age, shows up on the front lawn. Starts messing with the mysterious boxes and ladders (note: it's already past 80 degrees at 9 am). Does some work. Leaves.

Tuesday: Same kid, now accompanied by an older man, start working. After returning home from Target with Sean, older man approaches me. Not looking so good (note: it's way hot outside again).

Older guy: I'm going to be leaving. I'm sick (that's why I didn't make it yesterday). I threw up in your backyard.

Me: What the... huh?!

Older guy: [leaving now]

Now, let me go over that again. Guy gets sick in yard. Doesn't say where, or if he's cleaned it up. It is hot. The boys play in the backyard after school. Today they have been promised the sprinkler may be turned on as soon as we get home. So me? I get to go on puke patrol and see where I'm going to have to clean up. Trying to not get sick myself at this point. Thankfully, the guy had enough sense to clean up (the hose was out, leading me right to "the spot". Yum.)

Wednesday: Return home from the grocery. Notice previously mentioned younger kid guy casually strolling into the backyard (his back to the driveway, can't see I've just pulled in). Realise he has bypassed the house, therefore is not going back to work. He keeps going. I realise the guy has to "use the facilities" and our backyard backs up to the woods so I figure that's ok, he'll go back to where no one can see him. But no. He goes back behind our shed. Which is not backed up to the woods. In fact, it is backed up to the fence of our neighbors yard. Which could be visible from the school playground behind our neighbor's yard, if you knew where to look. And the children are on the school playground behind our neighbor's yard. Younger previously mentioned guy? Proceeds to pee. Fight urge to laugh and wonder if I need to call the company owner and complain about his workers. As I'm walking to the front door, older guy stops me and points out the work they're doing (which is great, by the way). In conversation mentions that previously mentioned younger peeing-behind-our-shed-guy is company owner's son.

4:00 pm that same day (this is still Wednesday, people): Younger guy leaves. Older guy says he's staying to work late because he missed part of a day of work being sick and wants to catch up. That's ok. Asks to use the phone to arrange a ride since younger guy was supposed to be his ride but left. Ok. Wants to know if he can give our number to his wife in case she gets lost coming to get him. Sure.

7:00 pm: Phone rings. Caller ID tags it as a call from Virginia. Lady calling asks for worker guy like it's a big hassle for her to be calling my house. Take phone out to worker guy who proceeds to argue with his wife for five minutes. Brings phone back in, thanking me.

7:30 pm: Go outside with Sean to blow bubbles. Find worker guy sitting in one of the plastic backyard chairs. Smack in the middle of my front yard. Smoking. Waving and chatting to people. Sean and I go back inside as I mumble something about getting bug bites.

Thursday: An unbelievable normal day of work.

Friday: Nothing to report as of yet, but the day is only half over.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Another good "house thing"

Ok, so this photo? Was taken from our living room window (notice the screen pattern in the top right corner?). One thing I love about our backyard is the trees. They're ginormous! In this photo, you can see our side yard and some of the trees behind our house and the neighbors. I love sitting in the chair by the window to read. And when the window is open, we can hear the neighbor's fountain. It's really relaxing.

The line of green running across the bottom is the vining hedge growing up the fence between our house and the neighbor's. The fence is about five or six feet tall. And if you click on the photo to enlarge it and look up the left side? You'll see power lines; that's another good point of reference for telling how much taller the trees are.

Little by little, I am finding more and more about this house -- this home -- that captures my attention in a good way.

Now I have to go move stuff off the porch so the workmen can get to the underside of the roof (happy thoughts... happy thoughts...)

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Chair

Originally uploaded by art chick.
Since our house has been in a state of renovation chaos for pretty much the last six months, I have come to despise it. But that's not going to fly because I have to live here. But then I realized that there are little things about the house that I really like. The color on the living room wall is one thing I really love now (though this photo is a bit dark). The chair just happened. It's holding a bunch of unused old photo frames until I can find a photo and a place to hang each of them.

I'm trying to change my attitude about the house because we are so blessed to have it. In this area especially (Metro Maryland/Washington DC) it is horribly expensive to own a house yet we do. So I'll suck it up and change the stuff that bothers me and live with the stuff that doesn't.

::GASP:: Was that the sound of me actually maturing?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Kit-Kat commercial?

Oh. My. Goodness. Has anyone see this Kit-Kat commercial that's on lately? It's not new, but I'd seen it once then it disappeared for awhile and it's been on again recently.

So, this guy is sitting on his couch watching TV and eating a Kit-Kat. His wife/girlfriend comes in and says "Baby, do these make my butt look big?" (ha, she said 'butt'). Then this woman proceeds to turn around and has the biggest butt I've seriously ever seen. It has to be incredible camera work because no one, and I mean NO one, people, could function with a butt that big. Anyway, the guy takes one look at her and crams the rest of the Kit-Kat in his mouth then mumbles something you can't make out but with a very sincere look on his face. She gives him a big kiss and thanks him and leaves the room. This? Makes me laugh like I'm smoking the crack rock.

"In the Post"

Pink Postcard
Originally uploaded by art chick.
I took some pictures of my first three class assignments.

Eh. I just wrote all kinds of "ooh, this is what I did here" and "that's what I used there". Let's be honest - unless you're into this kind of thing, you probably don't care much about how I did it (am I right?). Just enjoy the pictures.

And do something creative today.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Dark Vader

You know, there are times when Liam seems like a perfectly normal 6 1/2 year old. When I totally forget that we're waiting for Children's to call us to set up an appointment for his assessment. Then he has days like he did yesterday.

From the time he came out of school, he was crying. First because his umbrella wouldn't work. Then because he was thirsty. Then because Sean didn't wait for him to get out of the van. And it went on and on and on. There is no degree to his reaction. If his umbrella is broken or if he's hurt himself and is bleeding... it's all the same. An outburst of crying or screaming. It's a little easier to deal with now that we realize that his brain probably processes things differently. But at the same time it's harder because I look ahead and wonder if he'll be able to control those emotions as he gets older. I can get really sad. Then Liam does or says something that snaps me out of it.

Last night, Liam and Rusty watched The Empire Strikes Back. Liam has been very into the original Star Wars movie since we bought the DVD set a few weeks ago. He's never seen the newer Star Wars movies and obviously doesn't really know the whole "Luke, I am your father". thing. So they're watching the movie, and it's the second one, the one with that infamous line in it. And Liam is enthralled. Darth Vader tries to convince Luke to join the dark side. There is a light saber battle, the movie ends. Liam turns to Rusty, with Rusty thinking this would be a question about what happens next, or how'd they fix Luke's hand. But Liam just says, "Daddy? I think Dark Vader misses his son." Then he runs out to get his jammies on.

Now, I was nine when I saw The Empire Strikes back. It never occurred to me that Darth Vader missed his son. Not in that movie (not until the third one where he saves him). You could probably put 100 kids in a room and ask them what they thought about the movie and I'm betting none of them would say that either.

Why do I bring this up? Because that "disability" that Liam is going to be assessed for? It wrecks havoc on his daily life from time to time. But it also brings into our lives a perspective that we would have otherwise never had. Liam can totally miss the big picture a lot of times then pick up on the smallest detail or nuance. He really is an amazing kid, no matter what the assessment is.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I need some non-fruity coffee.

Ok, so, me? Tired and very very cranky. I am such a child! I am exhausted but do I go to bed any earlier? No. There are just way too many things I think need my attention. Could I possibly be any more self centered than to think the world will stop spinning and go hurtling blindly through space if I just curl up and sleep for a normal amount of time?

Then, when I actually do make myself go to bed at any time earlier than midnight? I get all "Yay you, you're going to bed 'early' therefore you should read a book or flip through a magazine all relaxed and such in bed". Then "early" turns into 12:25 a.m. and this morning I'm barely functioning! My coffee consumption is way up (which explains why 7-Eleven shareholders will soon be sending me thank you notes at this rate).

And here's another rant somewhat having to do with that last paragraph. Apparently someone at 7-Eleven has lost partial brain fuction or they've recently employeed a chimp to make their coffee decisions. That chimp has decided that instead of coffee flavors like "Hazelnut" or "Vanilla" or whatever? They've added coffee flavors such as "Blueberry", "Strawberry Banana" and "Kentucky Mint Julep". That's just wrong on so many levels. But I guess the chimp explains the banana element anyway.
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