Archive for January, 2009

If there’s ever ANOTHER bathroom remodel

Here are some things we will need to think about and make selections on, preferably well before the demolition and reconstruction begin:

1.  length, width, and desired depth of tub

2.  size of opening in which tub will be placed

3.  slope of tub

4.  preferred throat size of toilet

5.  tub/shower faucet fixtures

6.  height, width, and depth of vanity cabinet

7.  lighting around mirror

8.  paint color (walls, trim, ceiling, door) and degree of gloss

9.  flooring – vinyl? tile? concrete? dirt?

10.  tub surround – how many pieces?  made of what?

11.  shower curtain bar

12.  towel bars, TP holder, hooks

13.  shelving above toilet

And here are some other things we will make sure our contractor takes care of:

a.  ordering the tub surround and flooring well in advance of when they are needed, as it can take 3+ weeks for them to arrive

b.  telling us what grade of vinyl flooring we should limit our choices to

c.  getting the right size/style of toilet the first time

d.  figuring the math on #1, #2, and #3 above before purchasing the tub

e.  knowing whether to put concrete board or drywall around the tub

f.  adequately tightening the tub drain (this requires having the proper tool on hand to do so), to prevent water from dripping down into the room below

g.  remembering to drill holes in the drywall for the plumbing (notably shower faucet) to come through

h.  telling us which side of the cabinet vanity the drawers should be on, in order to allow the sink and its plumbing to fit – before we buy a prefabricated one on deep discount (non-returnable) with the drawers on the wrong side

i.  telling us which style and dimensions of sink faucet will fit our pre-drilled counter top, before said fixtures are ordered – OR telling us before the counter top is purchased that the fixtures we like will require a certain placement of holes

j.  remembering to paint not only the walls and ceiling, but also the bathroom door (both sides) and all the trim pieces, even if the door and trim pieces have been leaning out in the hall for several weeks

k.  using enough coats of paint to cover completely, even in corners, and especially if it’s a dark color

l.  and most of all, giving us (in advance) a overall list of what things will be done in roughly which order, and which decisions we will need to make in roughly which order


Tonight all is well with the world.    (happy sigh)

On top of our ice and sleet, we are now getting real, honest to goodness, actual fluffy SNOW!  And, to top it all off, Jessica just talked with Katie, who said her 12:20 Rhetoric class (her only Tuesday class until 6:30 PM) was canceled today, so she got to play in the snow, have a snowball fight, try to sled (not quite enough snow), and make snow angels.   = )  She has no boots or ski bibs at college, so I’m guessing her jeans and tennis shoes are soaked – but the whole family got to play in the snow today.  What a joy!

Ready for the storm

We’ve been praying for snow all winter.  In fact, we’ve been praying for snow for several winters now, and we have learned that when the forecast calls for snow, we just never seem to get any.

This time, however, we were forecast to have a lot of freezing rain.  Freezing rain is generally a very bad deal, not only because the roads are impassable, but because ice on power lines can cause the power to go out.  In our case, no power also translates into no heat and no water, so a certain level of preparation is necessary when a significant winter storm is likely to hit.

We were told that the freezing rain would begin about 5:00 PM yesterday (Monday, January 26), and we were advised that power outages of three or more days were likely, so here’s what we did to get ready.  I say, “we,” but the truth is that the kids, and specifically Josiah, did almost all the work.

+ Arrange wood in the fireplace and bring in a full load of wood for the hearth.

+ Fill the 3-gallon red jug with drinking water.

+ Locate and/or buy (Jessica went to Wal-Mart) flashlights and a lot of D batteries.

+ From the camper, bring in the propane lantern, the small propane burners, and the extra screw-on propane bottles.

+ Clean the bathtub and fill it with water.

+ Put several jugs of “air” water in each bathroom for flushing.

+ Make and store as much ice as possible (in case we need to use an ice chest to avoid opening the fridge and freezer too much).

+ Buy six bags of ice for the same reason.  Scott got them on his way home from work at 3:00 PM, passing two serious wrecks on the way.  By the 6:00 PM news there were many, many wrecks along the route he took – one occurring about 15 minutes after he had passed by.  Right now our bags of ice are out on the porch swing!

+ Freeze the three partial gallons of spoiled milk (that were going to be poured out) for the same reason.

+ Charge all cell phones fully.

+ Fill three more gallon jugs with drinking water and place on the kitchen counter.

+ Back up computers.

Once all that was done, we were able to pretty much sit and wait, and at 2:30 PM, the freezing rain started.  It continued throughout the evening and this morning turned into sleet, which has fallen most of the day.  It’s really glorious, and we are forecast (but NOT holding our collective breaths) to receive one to three inches of SNOW on top of the ice and sleet!!!

This all makes for perfect sledding conditions.  What you want is cloudy skies (got ’em), temperatures that stay solidly below freezing (our high today was only 20), a solid layer of ice (we have about 1/4″ on everything), topped with a nice layer of sleet  (ours is almost 1.5″ thick), overlaid with powdery snow.  All we lack is the snow, but the evening is young and we still have hope.

This morning, the boys were out on the old holey toboggan sled and they were able to get some good speed just sliding across the back yard.   The Smart Lane hill was much better, but a bit more challenging because the right-hand (as you come down the hill) ditch eroded seriously in our multiple Floods of 2008, and is super deep now.

When Scott realized how prime the conditions were, he decided to go buy more toboggan sleds and take the gang up to the county line hill, where we had such fun several years ago.  That hill is a gravel access road, parallel to Highway 65, running down (north) toward Saddlebrooke for a full half mile.  It’s straight as an arrow, and only sleddable when conditions are perfect – which today, they looked to be.

First we called Wal-Mart, and if you can believe this, no, they didn’t have any sleds because they hadn’t ordered any because we don’t get enough snow here for sledding! Good night alive!  Target did have sleds, so Scott braved the elements in his Honda Accord to retrieve the goods.  He picked up a couple extra ones and took them to some friends who we figured didn’t have any.  They had moved here from San Diego – not a lot of snow there – and have four young children.  Their oldest son’s eyes lit up when he saw those sleds, and I’m sure that by now they have found some hills to conquer.

Then My Hero returned home with sleds for us, and after lunch, we all bundled up and headed toward the county line hill.  The roads are pretty much sleet-covered, so I told Scott he could drive.  I think we were both glad about that.  As we headed up toward Highway 65, I kept looking at the ditch to my right (our highway has no shoulders) and thinking that if we did meet the ditch, I’d be in it before Scott.  However, there were no problems.

We got up to the highway, but instead of getting on 65 to go north (the county line’s about three miles north on 65), Scott turned onto the access road.  It has a nice hill – nothing like the county line hill, but a paved hill, nonetheless.  Out we tumbled, and the guys tried the hill.  It was kind of a big nothing.  It wasn’t steep enough to get much momentum, and heading north into such a strong wind, the sleet really stung one’s face.

Back into the car we piled and Scott said he had another idea.  No surprise there;  Scott always has an idea, or two, or twelve.  He drove back down the access road toward Highway 160; then he suddenly stopped and parked the car.  What was up?  He got out.  He looked to the left of the access road.  Oh, surely not.  There’s a long, steep hill there, and it goes down at about a 40 degree angle – no exaggeration.  Normally, it’s kind of a grassy, weedy hill with scruffy patches of little bushy plants.  Now, all those blades of grass, weed, and plant look like little glass needles, and there are hillocks of icy-encrusted vegetation up to a foot high all over the place.  And he’s going to sled down THAT?!?!?

In a word, yes.  We tell him he is crazy.  He says, “thank you.”  He surveys the hillside carefully and plots his route.  He plops down into his sled and with a loud “Ayeeee!” pushes off.  Screaming like a banshee, he slides down the hill, crunching over and flattening icy plant matter as he goes.  Somewhere before hitting the rocks at the bottom of the gorge, he bails out of the sled sideways and stands up, victorious.  Josiah follows.  Andrew is not far behind, and even Jessica the Brave takes a run at it.

It’s a long climb back up, but they all clearly enjoy the rides down, which are repeated for most of a half hour.

I took pictures, then got a bit of exercise by walking on the sleet-covered road while they did their wildly insane sledding.  Scott says tomorrow we need to take a video camera.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Amazing recovery

A week and a day ago, Jessica’s wisdom teeth were removed by Dr. Horan in Springfield, who had done Katie’s the year before.  Beforehand, Jessica was quite concerned about the whole event.  We both remembered how Katie had been so groggy afterwards that she couldn’t walk a straight line and had to be helped into the house.  For some reason, Jessica was more uneasy about the prospect of being “loopy” than about the expected pain.

Lots of people were praying for Jessica as we headed to the oral surgeon’s office, and we were both very thankful.  We did have to wait a long time in the waiting room and a longer time in the actual Chamber of Extraction.  The wait was unnerving, and we were both emotional.  (That means we were crying.)

However, the actual surgery took only about 40 minutes, and after I paid the slightly staggering bill and went into the recovery area, there sat Jessica, looking and acting as normal as could be!  She was holding an ice pack to her cheek, but around the two lumps of gauze, she could talk and answer questions.   She didn’t remember or feel any pain, she could see me and focus her vision, and she wanted ice cream.

We left and got her a Frosty at Wendy’s and she spooned Frosty (mostly into her mouth) and talked all the way home.  At home, she walked into the house unaided and went to her computer.  No big deal.

Yes, the pain did begin some five hours later and for a few days she took a narcotic pain reliever.  She started with applesauce, but rapidly progressed to macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.

Her recovery has been much faster and easier than Katie’s was.  The swelling and bruising are about gone, and she’s no longer taking anything for pain.  In fact, right now, she’s out sledding with the neighborhood kids.

Thank you, God, for such an amazing recovery!

A little action in the ‘hood

January 19th was a full day in our little world.  That morning, Jessica’s wisdom teeth were forcibly removed from their happy dwelling places (blog worthy and to be addressed in another post), and that afternoon there was a great deal of traffic on our little gravel road.  Here’s a letter I sent one of our neighbors after the fact:


I spent about 1.5 hours yesterday afternoon standing out in the cold in our backyard along  the gravel road, staring down toward Irene’s and trying to figure out what was going on.  Andrew had told me there were four sheriff’s vehicles in the restaurant parking lot and that an ambulance had gone down the creek road.  That made NO sense, as there’s nothing down there.

We ended up with a total of SEVEN law enforcement vehicles that I could see from our yard, (three in LaShell’s driveway and four more in various locations along the lane) plus the ambulance that remained parked on the creek road down under the bridge for a long time.  There were never any sirens, and no gunshots were heard.

A local news reporter came by and I flagged him down.  He said he’d been listening to the police scanner for about an hour (it was almost 2:00 PM then) and that “there was a man in the house with a gun threatening to kill himself, and he had a child in there.”  It seems to have been Wendell, Carol’s new (rather hot-headed) husband.  That same reporter later told Eva that the woman had called 911 and left the phone off the hook, so officers could hear what was going on in the house.

An SUV I’ve never seen came down the road and went down Irene’s where it parked for a while.  When she came back out, I stopped the woman to ask if she knew what was going on.  She was fairly rude, told me she wouldn’t talk about it, that it was a family situation, and that I could talk to the police.  She drove off in a huff.

Tiffany drove in, parked a while, and then drove out.  When I talked to her, she said there hadn’t been school for her youngest son that day, that she had had to work, and that she had asked Carol to watch him.  But Carol and Wendell got into a fight, he threatened to kill himself, and Carol called Tiffany at work.  They had gotten Seth out of there (he was in the car with Tiffany), but Wendell was still in there.  She said the cops had said they were going to take him to the hospital, bit Tiffany thought they should take his (expletive deleted) self to jail.

Eventually, the ambulance went slowly down to Carol’s house, and they brought someone out on a stretcher and put him/her into the ambulance.  We didn’t know who it was.  There was no rush, so it clearly wasn’t someone who was critically injured.  Maybe ten minutes later, the ambulance drove slowly away.

Next we saw Judy walk back to her house, and then Reggie took Carol and they drove out.  We stopped them, too.  Eva asked Carol if she was all right (yes, but she was crying), and I asked what was going on.  Carol said Wendell had gotten sick and they had taken him to the hospital.  Then she rolled up the window and they drove off.

After another long time, the cops finally began to leave.  I tried to stop the first one, but he ignored me.  The next one told me that he wasn’t authorized to tell me anything, but that if I’d flag down a certain sheriff’s black truck, that man was the officer in charge of the investigation and he could tell me what was going on.

So, I flagged down that last truck and asked my question again:  “Can YOU tell me what’s going on in our neighborhood and why we’ve had seven law enforcement vehicles and an ambulance here for so long?”  He was very polite and friendly and replied that yes, he could.  A man had had a medical situation and because of accusations by family member(s), they (the cops) needed to take every precaution.  No one had been hurt, everything was okay, and the man would hopefully feel better soon.  Then he looked me right in the eye and said, “you know how stories get started.”  I said, “yes sir, I do.”  He said again that everything was fine, wished me a good day, and drove off.

It made the local news here the following day.

So much for a medical situation.  Not only do we have probable drug dealers in the ‘hood; we have crazies with guns.  Of course, guns per se don’t bother me, but the crazies surely do!  Never a dull day in Walnut Shade!!!


We live about one-tenth of a mile from the house where all this happened.  Thank God no one was hurt or killed.

There’s a shower hole now

But only because of a minor disaster.

Yesterday morning, Josiah came running to me with the news that, “the living room ceiling is dripping!”  This was not what I wanted to hear.  “Mom, the ceiling is bulging out and it’s wet and the paint is turning brown.”  (Sigh)

It was all as he said, so Scott called Mr. A who arrived in five minutes.  The story I heard is that when they put the drain in the tub on Thursday, they must not have tightened it enough.  Then, when they ran a lot of water through to check for the leak Scott found Wednesday night, it must’ve run into the space between the bathroom floor and the living room ceiling.  Yes, that would be the living room ceiling that was just painted a year ago.

Well, when Mr. A and son arrived to this joyful situation, they had to take off the sheetrock they had installed the day before, and in so doing, the lack of a shower hole was discovered.  They left to obtain a certain special tool to tighten the drain better, came back, tightened it, we’ve been told that there are now no leaks.  Our living room ceiling will also be repaired.

I’ll be glad when this bathroom is done!

Lost shower

The funniest thing about today’s remodeling work is that now there there is a lovely piece of sheetrock on the wall where the tub faucet is.  The tub faucet sticks out of the sheetrock, but there is no hole where the shower should stick out!  Does this mean we have been relegated to tub baths forever?  Worse, does this mean we are back to square one with the shower water running into the wall?!?!?

Water in, water out

Today is Day 18 of The Great Bathroom Remodel.  The tub is in, and it has, in fact, been in for almost a week.  It is white and lovely, if you don’t look too closely at the two scratches on the side (sigh).  I’m hoping those can be buffed out somehow. No, I don’t know how they got the 60″ peg into the 58″ hole.  I decided it was better not to watch.  But once it was in, the next task was to tackle the leaking tub/shower plumbing.

We heard a lot of ripping of lathe and sawing of I’m not sure what.  Then the old pipes were removed, leaving quite a mess and a strange appearance.  The insides of 94-year-old walls are interesting.  Also, due to their being no interior dedicated shut-offs to that water source (although there are some shut-offs in the cellar that keep being turned; it’s just that I think they go to the first floor bathroom, not the master), Josiah has had to keep going back and forth to the well house to shut off all the water to the house.  This does prove slightly inconvenient when it comes to things like flushing and doing lunch clean up, but we make do.

Yesterday, the new plumbing was installed, and the water turned back on to check for leaks.  We left for church while the workers were still here, but when we got home at 9:00 PM, Scott found the tub faucet area leaking.  He shoved a piece of pipe into something somewhere to divert the flow into the tub rather than into the wall (ugh!), and we were with one accord terribly disappointed.

I took the ostrich approach and just asked Scott to call Mr. A. in the morning, let him know about the leak, remind him that a leak behind the shower into the wall was what started this whole project, and communicate again to him that leaks were totally unacceptable.  Which he did.

This morning, the Messrs. A. returned and soon came to ask me about our second floor water pressure.  It seems that even with the water turned back on, (which they had to do to try to diagnose Scott’s alleged leak), there was basically no water pressure – only a trickle on either the hot or cold side.  They asked me if we had had good pressure in the past.  Yes, we had.  Now, I don’t know what ever happened about that, because I just kept going with my usual responsibilities of math instruction, algebra assistance, piano practice, ministry printing, etc.  Mr. A. said that he didn’t even think there was enough pressure to get water up to the shower head!  I am sincerely hoping our water pressure will have returned when all has been said and done.  And paid for.

Next I was asked how the old tub had drained.  Actually, not very well, but that was only because from time to time we need to run some Dran-o down it and/or  plunge it, and I just haven’t been real diligent on that.  However, it turns out that wasn’t what Mr. A. was asking.  He wanted to know if, when we let the water out of the tub, there was still standing water in the tub after it had drained all it could drain.  And did we need to “scrape” the water on down with our feet to get it to go down the drain.  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Furthermore, I politely but firmly told him that I was emphatically unwilling to ever have to “scrape” standing water out of my $$$$$$ remodeled bathroom’s tub!!!  Did I mention that I said that firmly?

It turns out he hadn’t bothered to level the tub.  It looked okay to him, and it had been so hard to put in, and “they” had put the previous one up on two by fours, etc.  He figured it was just a good idea to “scrape” the water down, to get rid of the soap scum and stuff.  HE always did that whenever HE took a bath, and didn’t everyone?  Or shouldn’t everyone?  Maybe so, but I told him that I was NOT going to do that, and that I fully expected that when the drain was unplugged, all the water would go down the drain without any assistance from Yours Truly.  He said he guessed he could raise the back end of the tub somehow, but then that would make things uneven, and then we’d need to put some something around the edge to keep the water from going somewhere or the other.  I didn’t follow all that, but I reiterated that the tub MUST drain unaided EVERY time.  I don’t think Mr. A. was too pleased with me, but he said he’d take care of it.

The Messrs. A. spent quite a while trying to figure out exactly what was leaking, and where, and why.  It was ultimately determined that nothing was leaking, but that the shut-off had just not been shut off all the way, which let some water through, and the valve wasn’t closed all the way, which let it drip.  But now, with the shut-off on, and the valve closed, there is no leak.  Whw!

Actually, Mr. A. said it was a good thing Scott had found the “leak,” because it was the standing water that had dripped into the tub that made him realize the tub wasn’t level.  So I guess all’s well that ends well, except that this little leak repair project is becoming The Monster That Devoured Cleveland.


AAARRRGGGHHH!  I just realized that WordPress ate the remaining third of this post, but I am not willing to try to recreate it.

It’s been a tough day

1.  Our new president was sworn in.

2.  Katie didn’t get the job with the chancellor.

3.  Andrew wouldn’t do his chores or academics.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Cashew chicken, anyone?

Our annual ministry banquet was a success.  We had 69 warm bodies present, but there were a number of last-minute cancellations and no-shows.  Since we had planned to have enough food for 100, we have LOTS of delicious cashew chicken left over.  That is okay, as we will give much of it away to some of the families who attended.

It was a great evening, and we believe that those who came were informed, inspired, and encouraged.  The AIM students did two excellent presentations, “Faithful” and “Thank You.”  Why DO I wear mascara when I know they are going to present?

The offering was astonishing in the good sense.  In fact, we were overwhelmed at the generosity of the donors.  We also had lots of volunteer help, which really took a load off Scott and me.  There are things we need to remember for next year, and some changes we should make, but overall, the banquet accomplished its goals.

Now I just need to figure out creative, dry, organized storage for all the supplies that we’ll be able to re-use next year.  That, however, will be a challenge for another day.

Added bonus:  Scott’s team is going to the Super Bowl!

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