Friday, November 21, 2014

The Day I Decided Cotton Rounds Are a Luxury Item

About six weeks ago I received a phonecall in the morning on a Wednesday:

“Hey, it’s me.  Are you sitting down?”

“Um, ya.” 

Aside:  of course I’m sitting down, I’m at the computer procrastinating the bazillion things I need to do by using precious time and gray matter to view the slideshow “10 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Half Siblings”.  It’s riveting.  There’s just no way to start your day without knowing this information.

“No, seriously, this is important.”

“I’m really, really sitting.”

“I got laid off.”

Poor guy, I made him repeat it about four times because it simply didn’t compute.  Wait, what?  He’s good at his job.  He always gets the best reviews and the best raises.  He’s confident with who he is at work.  I used to joke with him whenever he’d unexpectedly show up at home at 2pm and ask him “Did you get fired?” That’s how comfortable we were because it was so absurd it was funny.  I probably won’t make that joke anymore.

That day week was a blur.  We giddily went about the day doing normal stuff.  Getting him a phone (he’d always had one supplied by work).  Buying a baby gift.  Talking on the phone.  A lot.  It was weird and surreal.

There was crying.  We hid it from each other.  Mostly well.

There was also a lot of praying.  I am so grateful that I know—that we know--where to look for comfort.

One moment stands out.  I was washing my face for bed and noticed that I was almost out of cotton rounds.

You know, cotton rounds?  The flat, quilted cotton bolls?

And, I had this thought:

Cotton rounds are ridiculously expensive!  How can I justify buying cotton rounds now?  What will I do without my cotton rounds?  I use 2-4 each day…letsee…if a package contains like 100 and it costs $3.99 PLUS tax, then that’s like…

You get the idea.  I lost it.  All semblance of reality.  It had just shattered into a million tiny pieces.

Maybe that’s what happens when what you think is one of life’s essential foundational truths is now no longer true.

We took it for granted. We built our life plan around the expectation that that’s where Jeff would work through retirement.

Now, six weeks later, we are not in that place anymore.  The sun will still rise tomorrow and the next day.  There are new opportunities around the corner.  We are still not at equilibrium, but it’s closer.

I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who knows us better than we know ourselves.  We had become complacent in so many things.  In Jeff’s job, certainly, but also in our relationship, in our finances, in our life plan, in our spirituality.

We had to step up our game.

And that feels good.

We are unified as a couple as we have rarely been.  I thought having Jeff home all the time would drive me crazy.  It doesn’t. 

We have made a new plan that involves a lot of contingencies.  We have created new dreams and even dusted some off.  We are imagining ourselves in several scenarios and finding that we can be happy, really happy, in most of them.

We have raised the bar on our spirituality.  We have been humbled and in that humbling we are more teachable, more sensitive to the Spirit.  We have reached and we have found solace, hope and inspiration.  I know that my Redeemer lives.

Life is good. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

If You Give a Girl a New Duvet…


She will want to paint her bedroom.


Once the bedroom is painted (and she stops complaining about how it’s the wrong color), the carpet clearly must go (blech!).


If you give a girl beautiful, plush new carpet, she will notice how shabby the shutters look.


Clearly those will need to be replaced with beautiful shutters like these.

If you replace the shutters, it will become clear to the girl that the nightstands are so “last century” (probably because they are).  Throw in some lamps while you’re at it.


If you insert new nightstands, the girl will notice that the dressers are all wrong.  They will need to be painted.  She would replace them but nobody actually makes all wood dressers anymore, so paint it is.


If you give a girl freshly painted dressers, she will want a new chair to replace rocking chair she has been holding onto because it held her with her nursing baby (who is presently 17) in the middle of so many nights.


And, if you give a girl a cute chair in the corner, she might sit in it and notice that it’s now time for the duvet to be changed…


And so it goes with home improvement.


{with a nod of gratitude to Laura Numeroff.  I love her books and have spent many hours with mooses (meese?), mice and pigs who have vision!  She has explained this life truth so very articulately.  I want to be her when I grow up.}

If you give a moose a muffin

Monday, September 8, 2014

Misadventures in Home Improvement #4

It is a truth that when trying to match the  paint dried onto a teenager’s arm, it just might not match EXACTLY.

Therefore, by the next morning it was abundantly clear that the paint was not going to sufficiently dry to the point where you couldn’t see the line where the 2nd coat with the original gallon stopped and the 2nd coat with the paint “matched” gallon began.

Oh no, you could see it.


So, pull out the painting tools once again.  Only my helpers were all gone, so it’s all me.  Whatever, two days later every inch of that bed-vanity combo was perfectly painted.

In the wrong color.

Had I mentioned it was the WRONG color?

So my dear husband, who hates to see me cry, wrote a stinging letter of complaint to the store who shall not be named (but it rhymes with “blows”)

The manager was quick to call and get the entire sad tale retold as only I can with extensive detail, several asides, and dramatic inflection. 

He asked me what would make me a satisfied customer.

“My room painted in the correct color.”

But not by me, because I’ve done it once in the last few days and now I’m pretty much over the urge to paint.

By someone else that has my eye for detail. (I have found this to be an elusive quality in painters)


In the absence of that possibility (a girl can dream!), then the money back for the paint.

I might as well have money in my pocket to drown my sorrows in ice cream.

Apparently, a decision concerning 3 gallons of paint is above his pay grade and he said he had to talk to the rep from the paint company.  Now, I do not completely understand why it’s the paint company’s problem since the guy in the store was the one who mixed it incorrectly, but what do I know?  The paint itself worked just fine and actually did a nice job covering up that crappy texture job.  Ok, whatever.


A few days later, he asked me to bring in the cans and receipts and he’d take care of us.

So we showed up with our receipts and the last gallon of paint in hand.

The lady at the counter called back to our manager friend.

Counter lady asks us about the receipts (check!) and the paint cans (here’s one!) while manager is on the phone.  Oh, just one can?


Yes, we had already thrown the 2 empty ones away.

So she repeats this to manager on the phone.

In the absence of the other 2 cans, he can offer us (over the phone via counter lady):

  • 1/2 refund on the first 2 gallons and
  • a full refund on the 3rd gallon.

Really?  You need the cans?


Now I’m mad.  Before, I was just disappointed.  I care less about the money than I do about the principle of the thing because the fact remains that my room is painted in the WRONG color.  So, I raise myself up and insist that manager on the phone come out to talk to us in person.

At this point, Jeff recognizes the righteous indignation rising in me and just steps back as I take complete control of the situation.

Yes, Mr. Manager, you should be very afraid.

He explains that he can’t get reimbursed from the paint supplier without the paint cans.

Really?  A big company like this can’t pay me back for 2 gallons of paint if only for the sake of customer good will?! 

I explain, calmly and patiently, but incredulously, that my contract is with the store I purchased my paint from.  Their employee incorrectly mixed the paint.  Their arrangement with the supplier is none of my concern.

In the end, he was putty in my hand and succumbed to my vastly superior negotiating skills and a good dose of old-fashioned polite but firm persistence.

Yes sir.  He didn’t stand a chance.

I ended up getting both of those first 2 cans fully reimbursed.  But, I reasoned, since they didn’t do anything wrong on the 3rd can, I’d let that go.  I’m nothing if not fair.

I was VERY pleased with myself as we returned to the car.

As I was buckling my seatbelt I did the math (where X = the value of 1 gallon of paint)—let’s see, that would be:

Manager’s original offer:  2*(1/2X) + 1X = 2X

My counteroffer & settlement:  2X + 0 = 2X

Hey, wait a minute…


dang it.

Good thing it’s the principle that counts.

Because I obviously can’t.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Misadventures in Home Improvement #3

With paint in hand and two mostly cooperative helpers, we got down to it!



(note the drip coming off his roller, landing who-knows-where while he pauses to pose)


By about noon, we nearly had 2 full gallons on the wall, but it was clear that we were going to need a second coat.


Jeff and I started on the second coat while we sent the young lad to the store with an empty gallon to get more of the same.


Bryce calls from the store:

“It’s going to take a little longer, they have to custom match the paint.”

“Um.  What do you mean they have to custom match the paint?  It’s a stock color, they should just be able to read the bar code and…”


“Well, they did that, but I could tell that it didn’t match.  I told the guy to look at the paint all over my arm—it’s supposed to look like THAT.”

Says my color-blind son.

Seriously, he’s color-blind.

But he could tell it was the wrong color.

I would have been proud of his problem solving skills if I weren’t so busy being sick to my stomach.

Because this is what I figured out:  the first two gallons were in fact some mystery color—an imposter to my perfect color.   Some catastrophic mishap at the paint mixing station—2 drops of yellow where there should have been green—I don’t know.  The gallon that Bryce had mixed (originally) was in fact the true perfect color…2 gallons ago.  Oh, the horror!

I cried.

Real tears.

It was devastating.

Because when you’ve just edged a fairly spacious bed-vanity combo, you get kind of put out by doing so with the wrong, totally imperfect color.

I had noticed it was different that morning.  I attributed it to not having 2 coats or not being completely dry.

But I trusted that dratted bar code.

How could the bar code be so wrong?

Jeff dried my tears and we decided to continue painting the 2nd coat with the ugly absolutely hideous paint-matched gallon Bryce brought home.

We reasoned that perhaps after it dried overnight and I slept on it then maybe I wouldn’t feel quite so…betrayed.

Next Chapter

  • Paint matching is kind of an overstatement.
  • My knight in shining armor slays a dragon.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t be managing the family’s finances.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Misadventures in Home Improvement #2

Did I say two months?  Ok, maybe 3.  I’m sure you’re bored with the story by now.  Oh well, this is for my mom cuz she still reads me.

It all started with this:


I saw this duvet set in a catalog.

I put the catalog in my save-on-my-desk-think-about pile.

I’m a ponderer by nature (hence the months between blog posts).

My process is this:  if I’m still thinking about it by the time I find it in that mess, I order it.  If not, it goes into the trashcan. It’s a pretty good system. 

Except.  Not if you want it to still be on sale and in stock when you order.

And of course, because it’s not in stock,



(It must be really good since so many people already bought it, duh.)

And so it’s out of stock.  For some reason, the online catalog would not allow me to just back order it.  Instead, there was a date listed when it would be available again.  In about 6 weeks.

So I waited, and on the appointed day, I logged in.  No luck.  Day after day, I checked back.  When it finally became available about 10 days later, I was ready with credit card in hand!


When it came, I put it right on my bed to admire my beautiful room.

But those cotton-picking walls ruined all of my enjoyment.

Instead of transforming my room, the beauty of the duvet was totally washed out. The unfinished, unpainted, imperfect walls stared accusingly back at me.

It was time to make a decision:  pay to have them re-textured or paint and hope for the best.

Painting seemed the easiest (and cheapest).  The walls certainly could not look worse.


Paint is a big decision.  Life changing.  Do not undersell it.  One must have the exact right color of blue gray.  Not too light, not too dark.  What is the mood it sets?  What are the color undertones?

And I’ve been wrong before.  Remember THIS?

Paint selection takes 10 days and three trips to the home improvement store, minimum.

And if I ask for your opinion, don’t be fooled.  I don’t really want it.

Painting day had arrived.  Memorial Day.  I was at the paint counter at 6:30 am with my paint chip in hand.

I was absolutely positive it was the EXACT right color.

to be continued…

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Misadventures in Home Improvement #1

The walls in our master bedroom suck.

Excuse my language.

Our house was a repo when we bought it, so the bank replaced most of this:

with beige.  Lots and lots of beige.

(They left the pool tile and the kitchen linoleum that was done in these colors, however.  Yes, they were amazing!)

There had been wallpaper in the master bedroom.  The texture underneath the wallpaper was terrible—flaky and peeling.  The wallpaper was removed and the walls were painted, but no texture correction was done first.

In one of my earliest bouts of home improvement (we’ve lived in our home nearly 17 years), Jeff and I re-wallpapered the bedroom in an attempt to cover the bad texture.

It was a heavy wallpaper, adding texture and a subtle color to the walls.  I loved it.

However, over time, the seams started pulling away and we couldn’t seem to get them to stick down because the wallpaper was so heavy and the edges started curling.

In a desperate moment I might have used some glue to try to salvage the situation.

And, maybe it wasn’t wallpaper glue.

Don’t judge.

So, down came the wallpaper.   It was time to finally deal with the original problem:  the texture.

I got some bids.

I felt really good about the first bid I got, but it was a couple hundred over what I wanted to spend.  Name brand company, I thought maybe it was priced a little high for that reason.

Then I found a local contractor through the paper who did small jobs on the side.  Eh, he seemed fine for this job and the price was definitely more in line with what I was thinking.


Fast forward to the result:

I really really hate extra-strongly dislike that guy.

Seriously, I would smack him upside the head if I knew where to find him, or remembered what his name was.

Just kidding.

Ok, not kidding.  At all.


I had started getting all of the wallpaper paste off the walls.  It was a big job, so I asked him if I needed to get the rest of it off the walls before he came.  He said no, the texture would cover it.

I asked him about the miscellaneous adherants (spell check says that isn’t a word, but I’m gonna stick with it) that “SOMEONE” might have used on those pesky seams, especially around the doors and corners.

He said, no problem, he’d take care of it.

(this isn’t him)

I was distressed when I first saw the uneven texture—where you could see the ghost of the old wallpaper texture.

I was even more distressed when I saw the lumpy results around the doors and in the corners.  No prep had been done by him AT ALL.

I had him come back to fix a few of the most glaring problems, but he made it very obvious I was being unreasonable and inconveniencing him.  Clearly, I hadn’t paid enough to warrant a GOOD job.  I was done with him too by this time so I just sent him away.

I hope he doesn’t expect a positive YELP review.

Not that I knew what Yelp was then.

So, to punish his shoddy workmanship, and to wallow in the economy of saving a couple of dollars, I left the walls just like that.

No touch up.

No paint.

For two years.

Boy oh boy, I showed him!

Next up:  what finally pushed me to paint the bedroom after so long and my thoughts on this question:

Why doesn’t the universe want me to have a pretty bedroom?

Of course, it might be another two months until I write that post.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wedding Reception

DSC_4467Maybe I should finish the wedding posts before they hit their anniversary! 

(I’m so easily distracted…)


It was held at the home of Tori’s parents and  all was decorated so prettily.

DSC_4508There was a lot of meeting and

DSC_4517greeting and



It meant a lot to see these guys—football compadres who had starring roles in helping Justin become the person he is today. 


There was dancing.  Notice I’m taking a picture of this moment.  It may never come again.  Justin doesn’t go in much for dancing, but he promised he would.  Just this once.

I’m sure he’ll change his mind when his daughter gets married.  Who can resist the chance to hang on for even one more minute to our now grown up little ones?


There was cake eating.


Very civilized and sweet.  That’s how grown ups do it.  Real men.  No cake smashing here.


There was bouquet tossing.

DSC_4585Check out this catch while holding a niece! 

DSC_4586I suspect a set up…


Then, of course, the ever-popular garter toss.



Here are the eligible bachelors watching it drop unceremoniously to the floor.


In the end, I think the loser of paper-rock-scissors got it.


Girls!  This handsome man is eligible!  And, I know how to reach him.  Message meWinking smile


Photo credit:  Heather Gibbons Photography