Monday, April 30, 2012

68 days but who is counting


No sleeping in on Sunday.  It’s time to ride and get out of the house, away from the remodel.  We still have boxes and boxes of stuff to unpack and they will be there tomorrow or the next day, but Sunday was about riding with friends, laughing, enjoying the sun, and seventy-two degree weather.  We came home long enough for a quick rest and then it was off to small group with friends and a time for fellowship and study.  Rejuvenation for the coming week.

Bob the painter is back from surfing in Hawaii for his vacation but he caught more than a wave while he was gone--the flu struck him his last days in paradise and then he came home to try and recover.  Bob is getting the stairs done so the carpet can hopefully go down on Friday if James isn’t slammed with another job.  Bob will also finish up the trim work, doors downstairs, and windows.  The rest we told him to fit it in between his commercial jobs coming up.

Bill is getting creative and used tile left from the kitchen to finish off the tub trim in the upstairs bathrooms.  Tom is busy trying to get the crown cut and finished in the kitchen and the panels on the cabinet housing the stove vent.

Bill and Tom came up with an idea to get a little extra wood and Tom will router it and stain it to match the crown molding and it will then surround the kickboard on the base cabinets;  A little extra protection for dings and dents.

The under counter lights should ship by Thursday and the island light fixture should arrive tomorrow. 

I keep plugging away unpacking the stack of boxes in the dining room and Larry keeps flattening the empties and storing them in the garage until we completely empty all the boxes.  We are going to run an ad in the Bellingham Herald free section:  boxes, good, clean, barely used, must take all.

Two more loads of dishes washed and put away.

I finished sealing the slate tile around the fireplace so Bill will be able to grout it tomorrow.  I only had a small section twelve inches wide by about five feet by four feet by five feet.  Our main fireplace has three sides with a brick fa├žade that raises about four and a half feet tall, topped off by a custom built mantel the previous owners’ son made.  My friend Kim has an entry, dinning, and kitchen in slate that she washed and sealed on her hands and knees.  She is younger than I am but knee pads helped.  I guess I shouldn’t whine about the small little section of tile that I finished.

Another day, another dollar; not our dollar, well it is our dollar, but we owe it to the crew who have transformed our home into a jewel.

Tuesday morning it was more of the same, a wet and grey drizzly day, sort of like a repeat of last year.

Bill finished the grout on the kitchen backsplash and the slate tile around the fireplace.  Not much to do until the trim is ready for the kick plate and the last piece of trim on the cabinet for the hood vent.

Bob is putting a second coat of paint on the staircase, base moldings, and getting the windows and trim ready to paint on Wednesday and then he will probably been done with this phase.  He will return when and if we ever get warmer weather and do doors and trim upstairs.  He can work this in between other jobs as his schedule allows.

Another load of dishes washed and stacked on top of each other in the cabinets until I figure out their final resting place.  The china is all unpacked and put away safely in its own cabinet.  My parents gave me this china as a gift for Christmas my senior year in high school.  My mother’s green Jewel Tea glasses and her dessert plates and cups are on display in the hutch cabinet, no longer hidden in the pantry.

The whimsy in the hutch is two red ceramic chess pieces—salt and pepper shakers--about six inches tall, the queen and knight.  Michael dropped in the other night with a friend and immediately said “I want these, where did you get them.”  Sorry, they came home from a shopping trip with Kelly to Hobby Lobby in Las Vegas this past Christmas.  Larry likes them as much as I do; they are a little conversation piece. 

Lights, camera, action!  The camera keeps snapping shots of the progress on the remodel even if the action is slowing down because we are nearing completion.  The lights…well we still aren’t sure where they are, but we have been assured that as soon as the manufacture ships to the warehouse, they will get shipped out to us.  Not holding my breath because I have heard this story before and from a subsidiary of the parent company. 

We have decided to hold off carpeting the bedrooms upstairs until the fall.  We just need to put the house back together and breathe.  We also need a thorough house cleaning before anyone sets foot in this house.  We are planning an open house for family and friends to come see the new kitchen and enjoy lots of home cooked food (we don’t know what the menu is but Larry finally will get to cook again) sometime in May.  Jim and Nicole will be here in June to visit.

Wednesday Tom is doing trim and Bob is painting.  It’s all in the details.

Thursday the butcher block counter arrive and was installed.  It looks wonderful and the counter guy was impressed with the progress since he was last here.

Bob is still painting.  Lots of trim work, doors, base molding, and windows..  I guess maybe we should have counted the number of gallons of paint it took to transform the house.

I made a run to Lowe’s, haven’t been there in days so I know they miss me, to pick up food grade butcher block oil to condition and seal the new top--Two coats of sealer six hours apart.

I cooked chicken fajitas as our first meal on the new cook top.  Fresh tomatoes, avocados, and salsa topped off the fajitas.  What a treat to be able to cook again.  We still have paper plates because the backsplash needs a few more days for the grout to cure.

Friday Bob finished up the painting that he could do and will return on a warmer, sunnier day (haha) to spray the bi-fold shutter closet doors in the entry.  He actually left early enough that he might get to ride for a little while.

I sanded the butcher block with four hundred grit sandpaper, wiped it down with a lint free cotton cloth for dust, and put the final coat of sealer on.  Now it needs seventy-two hours to cure before we can use it.

Tom won’t return until a missing piece for the cabinets arrives.  Bill stopped by to check on the progress.  James called to say they would be here on Monday to install the carpet on the stairs and the upper hallway.

No,  we never made it to IKEA to look for door handles so we still need to make a trip next week.  Home Depot finally tracked down our under counter lighting from the manufacturer and it has a tracking number now but the box still does not show it has left the building from its origins.

Monday, April 23, 2012

All quiet on the homefront


Tuesday Larry went off to his Kiwanis meeting then returned home to mow the lawn.  I told him if he mowed it, it would just grow back and it did.  It looks better and he finished before the rain started again.

I taped up the box with our fabulous five light wire chandelier and took it off to the UPS store to return it.  So sad but it just won’t work.  We have found an alternative replacement and it should be here within the week.  Worst case scenario is we don’t like and send it back and start again, best case scenario is we like it as much when it arrives as we did online.

No workers today so it is a quiet house

Yesterday I picked up the missing part to the double ovens and bought a new light fixture for the upstairs guest bathroom.  I bought a few groceries to sort of fill up the new refrigerator and then we spent a quiet evening relaxing.

Today was stocking up on paper plates and plastic utensils.  Until the cabinets are lined and I can wash dishes, which means unpacking the boxes where the dishes are hidden, we are still eating on the finest of paper plates I can buy and using heavy duty plastic forks and spoons.

Larry asked me Sunday night about cooking on the new stove and I said, “Where would the pans be?”  End of discussion.

Close but not close enough

Wednesday:  Bill and Tom came, they went, and we did too.  Tom took the cabinet parts that finally arrived, back to his workshop to get the cabinet ready to install and Bill went off to George’s growing rental house problem to try to solve all the issues at are arising there.

Larry went with Paul and Dennis to the new Cabela’s store that opened in Marysville today and I went off to art demo.

Since our house has been covered in carpet there was no real reason to have a broom in the house until we installed the new flooring.  So off to Wal-Mart I went to buy a broom, dustpan, and a new mop system. 

Larry is thinking positive and hopes by next Tuesday everything should be done.  I won’t hold my breath.

Thursday the cabinet arrived back at the house and the process of installing the last of the wall hung cabinets was completed by 5:30 PM.  Nothing has been easy in this remodel.  Simple? Not in this house.

Dinner out with friends was just what we needed.  Laughter at the end of a rainy day and for our friends only one more work day until the weekend. 

Friday: Bill is taking care of business offsite and Tom is working on the stove vent.  Bill arrived in time to fire it up and:  Houston we are ready for liftoff with the Typhoon Zephyr stove vent....wow I never dreamed when I let Larry research and pick out the stove hood vent that we would need to button down the hatches before we turned it on full power.  I will probably never get past the stage II rocket firing for my down home southern style cooking with a twist to healthy no fry, lots of veggie cooking.  Larry on the other hand with Cajun, spicy, more is better steak, crawfish, meat kind of guy we might have to wear those ear muffs you see the guys at the airport wearing when they are directing planes into and out off the gates.

Tom asked if we had door handles.  No, I said, next week because we need fifty-four and we have not decided how big they need to be, at least seven to nine inches minimum and we could go as big as twelve or thirteen.  Larry has a saying “that it only costs a dime to go first class.”  I don’t think a dime is going to do it on buying all these handles even if I find something we like at a discount.

The under counter lights have not arrived yet and the island light shipped yesterday.  The stove hood has two halogen lights so I don’t think lighting is going to be a problem. 

I need to finish putting the shelving in the pantry and trying to unpack a few more boxes this weekend.  My goal is to fill the pantry and see how everything fits and then just remove items from one shelf at a time to line them with Duck Brand easy liner vinyl.  I have been stocking up, but I am sure I don’t have nearly enough.  It might be like buying boxes to pack up where I made runs to Wal-Mart thinking surely this will be enough and it never was; even the last night of boxing before the remodel started, we were at Wal-Mart.

Good thing IKEA is not close by.

Basically everything in the kitchen works, although there are a lot of details to finish.  The guys left early having accomplished installing the super-duper hood vent.

I emptied about ten boxes of food, dishes, glasses, and small appliances tonight..  My job then was put as much as I could into the dishwasher and just do load after load.  Two down and I haven’t even scratched the surface.  Larry had the job of breaking down the boxes and putting all the packing paper into one of the leftover cabinet boxes that will be recycled next week. 

It’s the weekend and the weatherman says it is going to be sunny. 

Saturday was unpacking boxes and putting kitchen stuff somewhere, not necessarily where it will finally go, but emptying boxes and trying to see the rainbow.

We went to church and then it was home to a light relaxing time and more boxes and cleaning.  Its midnight; Cinderella was the belle of the ball but I must be the ugly stepsister because I’m still scrubbing slate tiles dreaming of riding on a Harley tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Monday, Monday, just can’t trust that day…

Bill arrived Monday morning to do the tiling on the hutch and the right side of the kitchen sink. Not much more to do until the other cabinet comes so Bill was off to check on neighbor George's construction woes.

Just another day or so I thought. Troube in paradise? Paradise: a very beautiful, pleasnat, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect--or so we thought. My brain kicked into overdrive and discovered a discrepancy in the kitchen. To be or not to be or in this case can we live with it?    I read a post on Facebook this morning that read, "it is not the glass half full or half empty, it is having a glass and being thanksful". I am thankful.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3, 5-6

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We're Home

Thursday morning Tom arrives to begin working on the cabinets and the baseboard molding. Bill arrives and gives us an update on all that has been done in our absence. He is pleased with the progress, even if it has been slow (because of circumstances out of our/his control) and the look and design of the kitchen.

Tony arrives to fix a broken wax seal on one of the toilets and he’s gone. Bill discussed options for finishing the trim around the bathtub and shower before moving back into the kitchen to work.

A little while later Larry and I laid out the tile design with Bill for the backsplash and he began installing the white subway tiles. Three rows high of two by four tiles, and then four rows of one by two cracked glass tiles, topped off by four more rows of white subway tiles. We had ordered white marble pencil tile to cap off the two open ends of the tile under the outside wall. Bill had an idea to use the tile saw and split the pencil tiles to make them just a little smaller and he did a beautiful job. We found out these pencil tiles were less expensive and better made than what the big box stores sell--these have a steel bar in the middle of the tile to support it and keep it from breaking. They also took its toll on Bills tile saw blade and he will probably need a new one.

At the end of the day Bill and Tom are tired, Larry has mowed the lawn in the few hours of sunshine this county has had in months, and I left to do a little grocery shopping for dinner.

I put a few shelves in the pantry cabinets and sort of blindly found my way into the dark dining room to retrieve boxes of food items and kitchen supplies. One box down, ninety-nine more to go (not really, but it looks like it and I am sure will seem like two hundred when I am done) and I am sure this is going to be a slow process with all the dishes, cookware, and silverware needing to be run through the dishwasher. Of course before I can clean the dishes I need to line the cabinets and drawers and until the last saw and drill has been removed from the house I won’t start that process.

Friday morning Tom is busy on the crown molding. With the different cabinet sizes, there are not many straight pieces, meaning there are lots of angles to measure twice and cut once. The darker color crown makes the cabinet color pop and stand out in the kitchen. This is a tedious job and after working overhead for several hours Tom gave his arms a rest and began the finish details on the island.

Bill laughed and said several people who have seen the island have commented on the low size. Bill told them it could double as a massage table when we aren’t cooking. I would never have thought of having the island at less than counter height, except when we moved in the existing island was twenty-six inches high. What I quickly realized is rolling or kneading dough or chopping vegetables was much easier with a downward movement than a chest high movement. Against everyone who tried to talk me out of it, I had the new island built the same (almost, because the base cabinet is an inch or so higher and a thicker butcher block will top it off). My butcher block is not one of those pretty-to-just-look-at objects; it gets used, which is the purpose of having a butcher block and not one of those flimsy pull out cutting boards they used to build into kitchen cabinets that were a half inch thick and made from scrap pine or some other cheap wood that looks good when you first see it and quickly becomes useless.

Bill broke down the last of the empty cabinet boxes that were stored in the garage and loaded up all the other miscellaneous cardboard from the appliances, fixtures, etc. and took them to be recycled. Cardboard is free to recycle and helps the environment which as Martha would say is “a good thing”.

Fritz came to finish the electrical connections for the double ovens and then turned them on high to burn off the new appliance smell. He also finished the vent for the guest bathroom exhaust and checking off any other electrical items that needed to be done. He still has one trip to finish the garage lights we are replacing and checking all the others to make sure they are okay. Fritz also helped us decide on under counter lighting for the cabinets which I ordered from Home Depot and it should arrive next week.
Our island five light wire hanging chandelier that we spent so much time searching for and then looking for a bargain is not going to work. The staggered height of the cords would either hang down too far to be able to work under or shortened up would be too close to the ceiling to look good. Next week it gets shipped back and we have began a new search for an over the island, closer to the ceiling light. I am truly disappointed to not have this design element in the kitchen but it is just another one of those “flexible” choices we have had to make.

No more chrome, stainless, ceramic, granite, or wood. Fabric and plastic are out. That leaves rattan, metal, glass, bronze or black for choices. I know what my weekend is going to consist of, computer research and pinning to Pinterest all my ideas for Larry to look at later and see if anything appeals to him. It may be awhile before Fritz returns.

Larry and I need to make another trip to IKEA to look for drawer pulls because the cabinet doors and drawers show no face frame and that means they are almost impossible to open without handles. We need fifty-four handles and they are probably going to need to be seven to nine inches long. I don’t even want to think about what this is going to cost.
I washed the drop cloths that I am going to cut up for curtains and have them folded away waiting for the day I can get to my sewing machine. The new hand towels for the downstairs bathroom are washed and stored in the under counter basket that also has extra “TP”. A mirror and we will be done with that room…well a curtain and some art, and then maybe we will be done.

Saturday is all about more laundry that has been piling up, dusting and cleaning the upstairs bathrooms, and maybe putting in a few more shelves in the pantry and unloading a few more boxes.

Sunday the sun held and we were on the bike riding with eight friends with not a thought of kitchen remodel in our heads. First stop Starbucks and then it was back roads to Skagit HD. Afterward, we took the freeway to avoid the throngs of people visiting the tulip fields, winding our way to highway 9 to The Blue Mt. Grill for lunch. Part way up the mountain and down the other side the sun held and we were blessed to spend a day with such good friends--Dave, Lorie, Dave, Dawn, Rob, Kaye, Bill, and Marla. Thanks for the memories.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Withdrawals

It’s Friday night and my mind can’t stop thinking about details. I crawled into bed and a few minutes later I was downstairs hunting for a flashlight to check the color of the crown and baseboard molding. When I was given the ins and outs of painted cabinets versus stained cabinets, the practical part of me won out. Larry said it was my choice but given that the painted cabinets could show cracks in the mitered joints after several years, I agreed to stain. Troy mentioned that one way to make the cabinets pop out would be to have the crown and base moldings be a little darker stain. After looking at a cabinet color similar to ours and trim in a dark black coffee color we placed our order. What I realized was that when Troy had come to the house to check the cabinet install he was holding a piece of trim and it was the same color as the cabinets. Too late to do anything until Monday.

Easy you say. Well we were leaving for Las Vegas to visit with our daughter Kelly, son-in-law Kyle, and when they leave for a wedding out of state, we will get to take care of our grandson for six days.

I am not a control freak but I do take after my mom and dad when attending to details. My mother is an extremely talented quilter who learned from her grandmother at age five. I have watched her rip seams until a corner of a triangle was perfect or she would continue to work on it until it looked exactly as she thought it should look. My dad was a master carpenter who took pride in his workmanship and his employers always found his skills and precision were qualities they valued. I am not OCD (obsessive, compulsive, disorder) but I do put my tools, paints, and equipment back after using them, and with my short term memory loss this is a must for me. I am explaining that while I need to do some things for my own orderly world, I am also like my parents in wanting things to look the way they should. We get one shot at this remodel and considering we have had to remodel more than a kitchen and the budget has increased way more than the ten percent we had allowed, I not only want but need this kitchen to be my dream kitchen when it is finished and not feel like I settled and let something slide when I should have spoken up.

We made compromises on removing a whole bank of cabinets in the pantry, changing the color of the cabinets, and even the floor color when we changed cabinet color--and our word of the day, week, and months has been flexibility….up to a point. I may drive a few people nuts but we have to live with the end results and that must be the vision in idea sheets, pinterest photos, the paper layout, and the vision in my head.

Bear with us…that would be Larry backing me up and sometimes acting as a go-between me and everyone else. That would be Larry listening to me when I need to vent or wonder about endless details. Going to Vegas in the final weeks of this remodel is a comfort to Larry, he wants to return home with basically everything done and I can’t stop thinking about what is going to happen when I am not there and will everyone remember what I wanted done here and there.

Saturday morning we flew out of Bellingham on a straight through flight on Alaska Airlines to Las Vegas. We were late leaving and that meant Kelly and the baby were driving around the airport for about fifteen minutes before we showed up at passenger pickup. Good thing we only had carry on bags.

We stopped at In N Out Burgers for takeout lunch. When we got to the house and unloaded our bags, I held out my arms wide and asked the baby if grandma could have a hug and he opened his arms and ran to me. He put his little arms around my neck, laid his head down on my shoulder and just hugged me. This is what being a grandmother is all about. The little guy was born almost three months early and when he came home form the hospital all he wanted to do was sleep with his mom holding him, which was just fine with her. His first Christmas, Larry and I flew down to spend the holidays with them and I was content to just sit on the sofa with a baby on my shoulder asleep. I think he must remember those hours because he just seems to find comfort on my shoulder. After lunch it was nap time for the baby and rest time for everyone else. Kelly and I did a little shopping at Target later in the afternoon and then a trip to Smith’s (part of the Kroger family grocery stores) for groceries. I watched and paid close attention to the little guy’s evening routine (dinner, bath, teeth brushed, prayers, bedtime) so I would be able to keep him on the same schedule and try not to disrupt his life any more than I had to.

Sunday morning we attended Canyon Ridge Church. I thought Cornwall Church was large with about twenty-five hundred attending each weekend but this church has over six thousand attending each weekend. The church is only about seven miles from the house and Kelly, Kyle, and the grandbaby attend regularly.

We stopped at Wal-Mart for a quick shopping trip and then it was home. We sat outside on the patio in the late afternoon and Kelly watered her garden plants and we talked while the baby played. We spent a quiet evening and Kelly finished packing her suitcase and getting ready.

Monday morning we dropped Kelly off at the airport and then returned home to fix breakfast and have playtime. After the baby’s nap we ventured out to do a little more grocery shopping in preparation for Easter Sunday dinner. Michael called to give a report on the construction zone. He is staying at the house while we are gone and taking care of Deuce the dog. The flooring and toilets are all installed and baseboard molding in the bathrooms is installed. The flooring has been started in the entry and living room and he likes what we have selected. His car is in the shop so he is driving my SUV and finding with gas prices rising that my car is not nearly as economical to drive back and forth to Seattle between work and school.

Tuesday we had a quiet day at home and then drove to south Las Vegas to have dinner at In N Out Burgers before going to the Bass Pro shop at the Silverton Casino. The Easter bunny is making an appearance and we are going to kill two birds with one stone on this trip. Papa gets to look at fishing tackle and the baby gets to see the Easter bunny. We were the first in line and thankfully the little guy doesn’t mind oversized white rabbits and people snapping photos of him.

Michael called to let us know the kitchen island has been built and Wednesday they will come to measure for the butcher block countertop. More of the flooring was installed and finish details. This is killing me not being able to be there to watch and take photos.

Wednesday we went to Wal-Mart shopping for a lawn mower and, of course, more groceries. We seem to go through a lot of food. Remember we have been living on whatever you can microwave for almost seven weeks and this little guy can really eat and he stays so skinny. Michael sent a photo of the new floors….thank you sweetie.

Thursday we spent a quiet day at home playing with toys, watching Disney, enjoying our grandson. It has been a bit windy since we arrived so there has not been much outdoor playtime. It’s okay because we have baskets, tubs, and drawers full of toys.

Friday was laundry day and I took a quick trip to Target with the baby to get last minute items for Easter dinner. The wind has died down and we finally can sit on the patio in the sunshine and bask in the warmth while watching the little guy soak up the rays as he plays in the yard but refusing to run through the sprinklers.

Michael called to give us an update on the remodel. The granite was installed and the holes drilled for the faucet and soap dispenser. This caused me a little angst, stressing Larry out that I was nervous over where they drilled the holes. Something we had not discussed before we left thinking they would wait until we returned because their instructions were the homeowner made the decision and if it was wrong it was on us. Michael called a second time when he got back to the house to let us know where the faucet /soap dispensers were installed and it it was okay. I hate not being there and making the decisions.

Michael also sent a new photo of the kitchen showing the new floors and it looks like a different house than the one we have lived in for the past thirteen years. There are still wall cabinets to be hung, a cabinet frame that has not arrived, the stove hood to be installed, tile, and appliances hooked up.

Saturday was sunny and warm again with no wind. Larry mowed the lawn again and watered Kelly’s garden. Playtime for the little guy outside while I prepped for Easter dinner, making deviled eggs, a Boston cream pie for dessert, and boiling eggs to decorate later in the evening.

After dinner we stripped the little guy down to a diaper, covered everything up with plastic bags and gave the boy markers to color his first set of eggs. Then the fun part…a dye bath for the remaining eggs. It took four adult hands and two baby hands to do one egg. We only broke one egg and that is much better than last year when the little guy just picked up the eggs and smashed them in his hands. No more eggs to decorate and only one small spill which was contained quickly and then it was bath time.

After Kyler went to bed, Larry and I just sort of looked at each other and I said that when Kelly and Kyle returned home tomorrow we would be chopped liver. The little guy would hold the phone and look at Kelly’s picture and say “love you” or call out “mommy” which was cute and sad at the same time. He somehow thought Kyle was at work so it took a few days before he realized that dad was gone also.

Sunday morning, Ky decided to sleep in and we had to wake him so he could go with Larry to the airport to pick up Kelly and Kyle. Larry said they were parked in short term parking and the baby was in the front seat when he saw his parents before Larry did and started getting very excited.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I was making special breakfast (eggs, bread, cheese casserole my mom began fixing on holidays when my kids were little) because it just wouldn’t be a holiday without special breakfast. With full stomachs and a busy morning, everyone took a nap or rest time in the early afternoon.

Nap/rest time was over and Larry prepared two half hams while I fixed au gratin potatoes and green bean casserole. Abby, Sean, Ryan, and baby Will were coming for dinner and an egg hunt. The potatoes didn’t want to cook so we were a little behind schedule but after the rolls were baked we put the potatoes in the microwave to speed them up and dinner was served. We had more than enough food for seconds, sent leftovers home with Abby, and have plenty to enjoy another meal at home, plus sandwiches.

Kelly had this wonderful idea to put glow in the dark bracelets inside the plastic eggs and the kids could have a nighttime egg hunt. Abby and Kelly twisted and forced the bracelets into the eggs, securing them with clean packing tape and then hid them around the yard. Cameras were ready and the kids were off and the parents were laughing. You could barely see the kids but the eggs glowed in the yard and then you would see a little flash as one of the kids would run across the yard or throw one of the eggs. It was so much fun, Kelly threw all the eggs they found back out and let them run and grab again. The sound of children’s laughter is priceless. This will be a family tradition that I am sure Kelly will repeat every year.

Monday we had leftover special breakfast, always a good choice, and then we headed to the park. The ducks and geese were waiting for us to feed them and they even showed an inclination to aggressively follow us to get what they wanted--bread. We looked at the waterfall, crossed over the bridge, and watched the turtles sun bathing along the edge of the pond. If we approached too closely, the turtles would back flip and dive into the water to avoid us. We moved on to the slides and Larry and I stayed grounded, cheering Kelly, Kyle, and the baby on as they climbed, slid, and repeated this over and over while we listened to the happy squeals of laughter the baby made. The smaller set of slides was just as exciting and less difficult for the little guy to step up or climb a ladder to get to and as fast he slid down he was on the run for the next round. We didn’t get to play in the dinosaur sprinkler because the park system has not designated it warm enough to run them yet. Kyler did run through the belly of the dinosaur, which was filled with sand, before we made our exit to find a treat. A yogurt shop where you fill your cup with as many flavors of soft serve yogurt as you want, sprinkles of every kind--fruits, and chocolate, caramel, strawberry, and assorted other sauce to drizzle over the top. You pay buy the weight. Between all of us, I think we had just about every flavor offered. My favorite was girl scout chocolate mint cookie and pineapple. Larry had several assorted flavors but I think his favorite was the sugar free praline.

Home for nap time, back yard play time, dinner, and the big kids had date night while grandma and papa stayed home and watched movies and played with the little guy. Who needs glitter, glam, lights, and casinos, when you have a grandbaby.

Tuesdy morning Larry talked to the contractor while I talked to Sears to try and work out what needed to be done to get our new thirty-one cubic foot refrigerator, into it’s new cabinet in the kitchen. It won’t fit and one solution was to remove the doors. Remove the doors and the warranty is voided. Sears told the contractor to watch a video on YouTube to see how to remove the doors. I told Sears they could come out and they could remove the doors and install the refrigerator as it was contracted to do when we purchased it and if they needed to remove the doors the warranty would not be voided. After a few more phone calls Sears worked it out with the contractor on what to do with the doors on, warranty intact, and my nerves just a little frazzled, and the day has not even begun.

We headed out to Hash House for breakfast. Larry had read about this restaurant and it has been featured on several television shows. I stepped through the doors and was visually assaulted with diamond plate, barn wood, chrome, black cast iron, corrugated metal roofing, so much to see I had to pull out the camera and take pictures. I also had to take pictures of the food when it arrive. Literally the four adults and one little guy could have been satisfied with only one of the huge breakfasts that were served to us, but we each had our own. Yes we had to-go boxes and they were full just like us. Kelly said there are actually three Hash Houses in Vegas and on a weekend you might have to wait an hour to get in and get seated.

We stopped for water and snacks, I know this seems to counter what I just said about being full, but babies always seem to need food and no sooner did we start the truck than the little guy needed his first snack. We headed to Red Rock Canyon and Larry had his handy dandy over sixty-five national park discount card so we got in free. The park ranger laughed when Kyle handed him the discount card and said you aren’t old enough for this and Larry leaned over toward the open window and said “no, but I am”.

The rock formations are beautiful and parking was a little crowded but not like it would have been on a weekend. People were climbing along the edges of the outcroppings and some on the far edges of the north facing walls appeared to be just tiny moving blimps. We drove through the valley and marveled at the beauty that most people don’t even know exists just west of the Las Vegas strip. Most people don’t realize you can ski just north of Las Vegas and Mt. Charleston still had two feet of snow on the summit while we were there, although we did not visit the mountain this time.

Kelly and I left all of the guys to nap or rest while we took a wild ride to the south side of Vegas to pick up a free wooden industrial spool. We pulled up, got out and begin to check out what size spool we wanted and how we were going to get it into the back of the truck. One was loaded but we weren’t totally sure this was “the right one” so we kept looking. A worker on the loading dock above us said hi and I asked if we wanted help. He didn’t but one of the other guys was kind enough to assist us. We decided we liked a spool in the back, the one on the bottom, with two others sitting on top of it. Kelly and I unloaded the other spool back to the stack we got it from and watched as our helper pushed the two spools over and onto the ground to get to the one we really wanted. About that time he called for reinforcements because this was a bigger heavier spool. Mission accomplished and we were on our way home, the back roads, slowly. A quick stop at the grocery store for dinner makings and then to Home Depot to buy paint, rope and sandpaper.

Kelly is going to transform the industrial spool, which probably held electrical wire, into a backyard patio table. The base already has a warm finish on it and the nails give it a grunge bling. She is going to wrap the rope around the middle section and spray paint the top a deeper turquoise color and add a clear glass marble mosaic over the top of the paint. It will be a beautiful pop of color in the backyard, useful, and satifiying to know you have made it.

We had a quiet dinner, played with the baby, and watched a little television. My gift from the baby was he finally said “gam gam”. Such sweet words.

Wednesday morning Kelly was up early and fixed breakfast and cinnamon rolls to go with hot coffee. The little guy calls his sun tea, “coffee” and he had his cup with us. I checked Larry and I in online for our flight home and was able to move our seats, finally, from the back of the plane to row six. Kisses at the airport and an love you gam gam and we all waved goodbye as we headed into the airport and they drove away.

We printed our boarding passes and headed to our gate. Security wasn’t bad but just as we boarded the tram to the D gates and took off it reversed and took us back to the main terminal. The whole system shut down for about ten minutes and we wondered if they would bus us out to the gate or what would happen. Finally the glitch was fixed and we were back on our way. Starbucks was right by our gate so Larry settled down with our bags and I got coffee and food for the flight. A day of glitches because we pulled back from the gate and stopped. Seems one of the engines would not fire up and they were going to have to jump start it. Then the navigation system needed to reset. I am not sure giving passengers all this information is a good thing, because it just tends to make me nervous. The air conditioning stopped; and when I take off my coat on a plane, you know it is getting warm. Fire one but not two, and we waited and then nothing. After almost forty-five minutes both engines fired up and we began to move towards the runway and home.

When Kelly downloaded photos off my camera Wednesdy morning she laughed because I had taken one hundred and fifty¬-eight. It really didn’t seem like that many and really I did not shoot a photo at every little thing our grandson did, just adorable, funny, memorable moments that I could share with them while they were away from their son and I can treasure and look at until I see him again.

We are leaving the sun, the warmth, and the dry wind behind to go home to cold rainy weather. The forecast for the weekend has only a slight chance of rain so maybe we will get to ride with our friends.

The anticipation of going home and seeing the transformation is exciting and knowing we really are down to small things and little details until we are finished. A working refrigerator to put our to-go food in without going out into the garage is progress. Michael said the funny thing was testing the dishwasher, it wouldn’t work, wouldn’t work, wouldn’t work, and finally they put a fork in the dishwasher and it could detect the metal and ran just fine (lesson learned always put a fork in the dishwasher…ha-ha). The sink and faucet look beautiful and the granite is stunning so much to look at and take in all at once. The floors really compliment the cabinets and everything has an open inviting feeling. Larry brought the microwave inside from the garage so we have almost, not quite officially decommissioned our temporary garage kitchen. Now to move the coffee maker from my studio into the kitchen will be real progress.
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