Was, Is and Always Will Be

Gray,

When you are old enough to read this, you will know who you were and who you are because your Mama spent so much time and love making this chronicle of your life. She doesn’t make it into her own blog posts or photos too much and that is a shame (because she is quite a hotty). So I thought it would be good for you to know about the person who writes this for you; who that person Was, Is and Always Will Be.

Was:
When she was born, it was pretty apparent that she was going to be a beautiful lady.  She was tiny, blonde and had the most beautiful almond shaped eyes (still does).  When she was a little girl, her dream was to be an Apple Seller or a Cheerleader when she grew up.  Although she never became an Apple Seller (at least she hadn’t by the time this post was written),  she did become a Cheerleader; and a damn good one too, 10th in the Nation WOOT WOOT!!!  This is something that she often groans about when its brought up but will still give the harshest critiques on the championship squads competing at nationals anytime its on.   She was afraid of the dark (still is) and didn’t like sleeping alone (still doesn’t), especially not in strange places.  You can ask your Aunt KK about sleep overs when they were little.  She was a gymnast, teddy bear twirler and an all around beautiful little girl (still is).

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Is:
First an foremost, you Mama is a beautiful woman and a beautiful lady.  She is often the first to refute this claim but I and every other person who meets her will argue this with her until the bitter end.  Now some would say the appropriate statement here would have been to say that she is first your Mom, but I’ve never been one for appropriateness, as can be confirmed by any one of the people you know who know me.  She IS first a beautiful woman in every sense of the word, both physically, personally and in her soul.  It is this fact that makes her such a beautiful mother to you.  She is way more fun than she ever lets on initially and WAAAAY more crass than anyone would ever suspect as illustrated by the fact that she almost pee’d her pants 4 days ago when you learned to fart on command, or when someone else does it first.

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She is a Photographer, and a damned good one too.  She loves taking pictures because she loves nostalgia, she loves being able to capture memories and hold them in her hand and she loves the beauty of life when you can make it stand still for just a moment in time.  She also loves being artistic and creating things that come from inside.  She might say she isn’t that creative but she very much so is; and when it comes from a place of love, then it’s really where she shines. She has attitude that she doesn’t always show, but there is definitely a “Slap to the Face” side in her.

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She is silly, playful and makes a mean Monster Face.  She was actually the originator of this in our Family.

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She loves children (which bodes well for you), she loves to help others and would love to move to Africa to help orphans.  She loves reading and reads to you all the time to share this love.

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She is selfless to a fault, keen, sneakily observant and nosy to her own detriment, which is why I had to do this post in secret (as well as every other gift I’ve ever given her)  Again, she is beautiful and gorgeous but doesn’t realize just how much so (she actually makes other women jealous because of how effortless it is for her)  She would rather give to others at her own cost than to do for herself and have it cost someone else (something I’ve tried to brake her of but have failed thus far) She has a soft voice and HATES loud noises, which makes for some interesting times with me since I have the hearing of an 80 year old war vet and a loud, brash voice at times.  She is very emotional because of her big heart and cries at all kinds of movies, TV shows and even some commercials.

Always Will Be:

How she is today and how she will be by the time you read this can’t be said in full detail.  But what can be said is that she will always be herself.  She will always be the future Apple Seller and Teddy Bear Twirler, she will always have the soft voice, big heart and hyper-active tear ducts.  She will always love taking pictures and I hope that by the time you read this, she is doing photography full time because I know that’s what she really wants to do.

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You are a lucky kid because you have her eyes, her face and her heart. You also have my personality which makes you tons of fun and very unique but may also be a problem since I have SERIOUS ADHD that makes me scatterbrained, have hyper focus, obsessive/compulsive, forgetful and just a tad bit insane. This can be good when the focus locks on a task that needs to be done or when strong analytical thought is required, but can also drive people crazy because once locked, it’s hard to break the seal.  Also, the forgetful aspect of it can make some people pull their hair out, i.e. your mom.  But I can tell you that I never forget the things that really matter (and that I hear clearly) and I never forget her, even though she thinks I do sometimes.
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I started this blog as a gift to her on our 9th anniversary to document the building of a table she so desperately wanted, but she turned it into a gift for you. She takes pictures of you every day and writes because she loves taking photos and loves sharing her mind and heart, but also because she wants you to have a chronicle showing you that you were loved everyday for exactly who you are since the day you were born.

She will always be the girl who made me no longer want to be single, the girl who amazes everyone around her without even trying or even knowing and the girl who just gets better with every passing year.  But most importantly, without a doubt, 100%,  she will always be your Mama, and that guarantees that you will always be the luckiest kid in the world.

(P.S. Did I mention that she loved to read as a teenager too? Especially Adventure books)IMG_0212

Baby Closet: How to

We’ve had a lot of interest in the baby closet with several friends asking how we did it.  So by popular demand, here it is!

The best part about this closet is that it is really incredibly easy.  We did this long before I had used Erin’s Pinterest Project wish-list as an excuse to build up my wood shop (Thank you, Pinterest).  The entire process is as simple as cutting a few pieces of wood and screwing them together.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Drill with screwdriver bit
  • 1 x 2 lumber
  • 1/2″ plywood
  • 1×8 poplar
  • 1 5/8″ wood screws
  • 2 small laundry baskets
  • 2 Closet Maid 3 Cube Stackable Organizers (These can be found at Target)
  • Closet Rods
  • Circular Saw or Jig Saw (You don’t have to cut the boards yourself if you don’t have access to a powered saw.  You can have the people at the lumber yard where you buy your material cut everything to size.  Just give them the cut list and they will take care of this part)
  • Although you don’t have to have one; you can also use a Kregg pocket hole jig which can be found at any major hardware store.  They go for around $50 and are great for this project as well as any other where you don’t want the screws to be seen.  I would definitely recommend this investment.

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Step 1:

Decide how high you will need and/or want the main shelf to be.  This will need to be tall enough to fit the racks for your laundry baskets below.  Measure the width and depth of the closet.  (As a reference, our closet was 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep and we set our main shelf 3 feet high.)

Step 2:

Get one piece of !/2″ plywood cut to fit the width and depth of the closet and act as your main shelf.  Have 2 pieces of the same plywood cut to match the depth of your main shelf and tall enough to fit squarely below the main shelf and hold your laundry baskets.

Have 4 pieces of the 1×2 lumber cut to match the depth of the main shelf and act as your cleats for your laundry baskets, 1 piece of 1×2 to be 2 inches shorter than the width of the closet.  Have 1 piece of 1×8 poplar cut to match the width of the laundry basket rack and 2 pieces of 1×8 cut to match your closet depth.

Step 3:

Attach the 1×8 poplar boards along the side walls of the closet by screwing them to the wall studs.  Also attach the 1×2 popular you had cut 2 inches shorter than the closet width along the back so that the tops of all of the cleats are even and level.

Step 4: 

Attach the 1/2″ plywood you cut for your main shelf on top of these cleats with wood screws.

Step 5: 

Now if you have the Kregg Pocket Hole Jig, use it to drill 2 pocket holes on each end of the 1×8 Popular you had cut to the width of your basket rack.  (If you don’t have the jig, you can just screw through sides to attach this board.

Also, drill 4 to 5 pocket holes along the top edge of the plywood you had cut to act as the sides of your basket rack.

Step 6:

Attach the 1×2’s to the sides of your basket rack to that you have enough space from top to bottom to allow for both laundry baskets.

Step 7:

Attach the 1×8 popular along the back side of the basket racks and attach the walls of the basket racks to the underside of the main shelf.  The 1×8 board acts as a stiffener to hold the sides of your basket racks together.

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Step 8:

Install your closet rods from the side of the basket racks to the 1×8 poplar cleats on the sides of your closet. (This is why you will want to have 1×8’s as the side cleats instead of just 1×2’s.  1×8’s give you more space to mount your closet rods.

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Step 9:

Paint the shelves to the color of your choice.  We chose white to match the 2 Closet Maid Stackable Shelves we used.

And that’s all there is to it.  If you get the wood pre-cut at your local Lowes or Home Depot, you can do this little project in one easy afternoon.  The best part about using the Closet maid shelves is that you can move them around to fit your needs and as the baby changes and grows, this becomes very handy.

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A few tips:

Make sure your closet is square and the width/depth is even all around.  When we first cut our plywood main shelf, we didn’t know the closet wasn’t exactly square so one corner was slightly shorter than the rest.  Because of this we had to cut the main shelf a couple of times to get the right fit.  If it’s not square, no problem, just cut the main shelf to fit the smaller measurement.  It’s better to cut the main shelf a !/2″ short on the width to allow for some wiggle room.  You can always caulk the gaps around the edges after you have it installed.

When you measure the widths of your laundry baskets, allow for the basket rack to be a about 1/4″ wider so the baskets will slide in and out easily.

I hope that helps all of you out there who are either expecting a little one or just want to make their closet a little bit more kid friendly.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Divine Organization


They say in the beginning, “God created Heaven and the Earth”.  And after that, he and Ms. God spent the weekend organizing all of the clutter in their closets (They left that part out in the book).  Well we’re no God’s, but we are trying to create our own little heaven here on Earth, i.e. buying a new house and preparing for a new baby.  Can’t Wait!  And like God, we had a little bit of clutter in our closet.

Since we are not Mr. and Ms. God, we couldn’t just snap our fingers to make this mess reorganize itself.  But we did figure out a simple and easy way to make it a little more presentable.  Step 1: Get all the junk out.  Once that is done, a trip to the local hardware store will put you on the righteous path.  We decided on some of the inexpensive wire shelving in white, (the heavenly color of neat and clean).  You can have it cut to size at the store or just cut it yourself.

Safety first, then teamwork.

Once you’ve got it cut to fit, you can hang it.  Our closet didn’t have a lot of great light so I had to pull out my official members only Chilean Miners Head Lamp!

Let there be LIGHT!

Now that mine eyes can see the glory, Ill give you a little tip. Typically, you would hang these wire shelves with the little plastic hook sets that are sold in the same section.  These are great if you are planning on only setting nice fluffy angels wings on them because they won’t hold much else.  So for more support, get a few pieces of 1×2 lumber and cut out some supports to run along the wall.  This not only makes the shelves stronger, it also makes them easier to level since you can just draw a line with a level, tack the 1×2 alone the line and set the shelves on top.

Patch any holes with sheetrock mud followed by a fresh coat of white paint and even Jesus wouldn’t mind stashing his birkenstocks here!

Cleanliness truly is next to Godliness!  Now peace can truly be with you, and also with you.

 

Chokin’ Some Weed

A Case of the Crabbies!

Have you ever come across some of that icky green that is so nasty, just one look at it can make your whole face go funky.  You know the stuff I’m talking about…

OOOOOO, You So NAAAAASTY!

Sorry to anyone who thought I was actually referring to reefer.  The grass I’m talking about is the stuff that pops up in your yard every spring and can be a real pain to get rid of.  (Hmmm, I wonder why they call it CRAB-grass) There are chemicals you can use in the Spring, but they can be costly and have to be timed just right or they’re useless.   Once it starts growing, other chemicals are available but they don’t always do the trick.  So what’s left?  Well, don’t go drown your frustrations with a bunch of munchies just yet. There is a simple and all natural way to get rid of these little nasties, choke them to death!

Let your Bermuda do the deed.

If you look closely at Bermuda grass, it has little horizontally growing lines called runners. (These are the things that you often see growing down peoples’ curbs when they don’t edge.)  This is how Bermuda spreads and it’s also how Bermuda grass kills off the competition.  So how do you use those runners to do your dirty work?  Step 1: After a good rain or an ample watering, when the ground is soft, grab the nasty grass down by the root base.

Be sure to gather up all of the branches of the crabgrass you are pulling on in your hand and, if you can, get your fingers just below the top soil for a good grip.  Step 2: Once you have it, twist and pull, being sure to get the roots out.

Once the area is clear, the Bermuda runners will spread through the area and any weed roots that are left will be choked out by the runners as they steal the nutrients and strangle the roots.  The perfect murder!

A little tip: After you have removed the unwanted’s, keep your yard trimmed short.  This will allow the ground to get hot and Bermuda grass grows best when the ground is 80 degrees and up.

Water it heavily 2 to 3 times a week and watch the once fugly portion of your yard change into a picture perfect curbside view!

Oh, So Lovely!

Now you just have to get rid of the bodies!  I reccomend a few episodes of Dexter for advice on how to do that ; ) Or you could just throw them in the trash.


Turn that Brown Frown Upside Down


Okay all of you “Un-Joneses”,  let me start off by confessing that one year ago to the day, I was just like any of you who absolutely, positively, with a deep-seeded passion, HATED YARD WORK!  My idea of the perfect lawn was exactly equal to my idea of a good personal head of hair; cut short enough so you couldn’t see the tangles and no bald spots.  Anything outside of that was just whipped cream on the pancakes.  Today, I’m the guy waking up in the early Saturday morn to water his beautiful bermuda and pluck the weedy’ lothario’s attempting to sneak their way into his beautiful flower beds.  So what happened?  Occupational necessity meets new home in a neighborhood chock full of Mr. and Mrs. Joneses.  And through the process, I have learned quite a bit that can help your yard to get Mr. Jones suffering through a few sleepless nights.

Lesson 1: Watering

It’s the most basic of needs for all living things.  No water means no life.  People need it, animals need it, the aliens in Battle: Los Angeles needed it and so does your grass.  The main questions most face is when and how much.  Some say early in the morning, some say late, some say 30 minutes a day, some say all night long (I believe this is Lionel Richie’s advice)  But the truth is simple, E.H.I. – Early, Heavy and Infrequent.

Here is a lovely picture of my yard after a few days of 105 degree heat and no water.  Please give me a moment to wallow in my shame…..okay, back to work.

Since you don’t beat the J’s by sulking around while your little slice of controlled nature dies from dehydration, set the alarm for 7 a.m. on a Saturday and get that water flying.

Leaving the water on for a good hour before the heat of the day sets in and you’ll have a golf course green in no time.

Granted, this change was not instantaneous.  I watered the yard for an hour starting between 6:30 and 7:00 in the a.m. every 3 days over a 10 day period.  The reason being, Bermuda grass thrives in the hot, dry climates.  When the soil temperature is 80 degrees and above, (like water temperatures, soil temp is not equal to air temp) the Bermuda grass will really start to take off.  Because of this, you can’t water everyday, all day causing the ground to stay cool.  When the ground is cool, weeds can grow better; weeds that will steal the nutrients from your Bermuda grass.  Watering your grass during the heat of the day, especially when the yard is already dry and browning, can actually cause it to burn. Just like little kids at the local pool who fry like piggies on skillet, your grass can get burnt up by the sun being focused through water droplets.  Water too late and not only does the yard have to compete with the heat escaping from the earth and taking the water with it, there is also a chance that fungus can grow and give you more brown to frown about. Watering for hours and hours will jack up that water bill and also promote insects in the yard since they too need water to live (you don’t see mosquitoes buzzing around the desert). So save your money, grass and bug repellant by watering early, watering heavy and watering infrequently.  Do this and you will be one step closer to being the envy of all those early morning walkers who saunter past your domicile.

P.S. Your little beauties in the flower beds typically need more water than your Bermuda.  You should water these for at least 30 minutes every other day when the temperatures are in that  90 plus to triple digit range.  Since different plants need different amounts of water, you will want do a little research to make sure you are giving them enough, e.g. a large tree needs more than a wide patch of ground cover since the root area is larger and deeper.

Shower Door Stopper

As a Home Builder in my day job (my night job being part-time superhero protecting pregnant Erin and Baby Grayson on our evening walks) I come across a LOT of small issues that don’t necessarily have obvious solutions. In said day job, I often have to devise my own clever way of solving these seemingly innocuous issues before they become something big, or just to make someone happy. I take this trick of the trade home with me and when I come across an issue that is bugging me or needs attention, I’ll either call upon the power of Google to find the answer or, when Google can’t help me, I’ll develop my own simple solution.

This was the case with my shower door. (I say MY shower door because Erin has her own bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and wall mount for a TV)

As you can see, my glass shower door opened up right into the edge of the corner seat inside, creating a possible glass-break/slice-foot scenario. Now one would think that there would be a specialized device to prevent this while keeping the aesthetic quality of the shower intact (anyone could strap a giant rubber bumper on the edge of the tile but who wants to see that in their walk-in getaway) Unfortunately, I could not find any easy, ready-made solutions for this so I made my own. The answer…regular old door stops.

Now, I didn’t want to screw into my tiled splash and risk doing permanent damage to it; so I call upon the power of the Silicone. (That’s right, it’s not just for making celebrities look weird in their Golden years)


A healthy portion on the back side of the base…

…and then just stick into place.

(Honestly, I didn’t mean for those last 2 lines to rhyme)

Let it dry for a few hours, 4 to 8 so the silicone can get to a strong and solid state. and then just insert the stops.

I stuck one at the top and bottom to give it a little extra support.


And now my door, and my feet are safe from the breaking of the glass!

By placing the stops next to your hinges, they are almost unnoticeable from the exterior.

And don’t worry about getting any silicone overflow onto your tile. The best thing about pure silicone is that when it dries, it sticks strong but you can still scrape it off easily like the Elmer’s glue boogers you used to make when you were in elementary school. Don’t lie, you know you did it.

Barn Door Finish

To start the door re-finishing, I first prep the lumber and hardware.  I picked up some larger door handles and a six pack of thicker, longer, heavier faux door hinges.  (A little secret, the new door hinges were actually plastic instead of metal so they were actually cheaper than the smaller, metal hinges I had before.)

I tacked my top rails up first making sure to have them level across the top.  I then cut and installed the trim boards running straight up so I could line them up with the bottom and make sure they looked square.  A little trick to make the center line which would be where the two barn doors met more visible, I hit the edges that would be meeting with my random orbit sander so they would be chamfered down a bit and enhance the appearance that they were actually separate doors.

After they were up, I started the angled boards that would be the cross bracing.  The intended look is for the diagonal pieces to look like solid support braces that span the door, so originally, I started to measure these as one long board and then cut it in half.  The problem with that method is when you cut them in half you loos the length from the thickness of the saw blade and they don’t end up flush with the frame.  So the best way to do it is to select pieces long enough to span the distance, mark one small section, cut and install it and then mark the second piece.  You’ll want to use a long board for the first piece so you can make sure that your angles are all correct.  Geometry would suggest that 45 degree angles would be sufficient, but that only works if everything is square, which mine was not.

Once the boards were up and secure, a little caulking is necessary to fill any gaps that are present so water won’t get behind the trim and cause it to rot.  This was not done on the original trim so many of the boards were pulling away from the door.  Next, I needed to get the paint for the exterior of the house out of the attic.  Once down, there was one little problem; the paint had molded from being exposed to the changing temperatures and smelled disgusting.  No problem, a short trip to Lowes with a piece of wood from the exterior, quick color match and I’m on my way home to put on the finishing touches.

Once the paint dried for a few hours, I just needed a few turns of the drill to set my hardware and I was finished.


And there it is!  The finished product.  Only a few hours of work and the front “grill” of our little house is ready to show to the world! (Or at least our street)  

Tools & Tricks for the Trade

Since the price of a new garage door (at least a high-end barn door style door) is a bit out of our budget, we will have to do what we can with what we have.    The door was already half trimmed out with 1 x 4 cedar so I decided to stay with the same idea, finish it out and dress it up with some new paint and hardware.  Instead of buying new 1 x 4 cedars, I found some 1 x 8 scraps lying around and had them ripped down to the correct width.  This was nice because I could get two 1 x 4 pieces from each 1 x 8.

For tools, my supplies were also limited.  Ideally, having a mitre saw would best, but since I didn’t have access to one this weekend I had to do it all with what I had available:

For power tools,  I used my Black & Decker Firestorm Skillsaw, Dewalt Power Drill and Dewalt Random Orbit Sander.  The B & D Saws work pretty well and are easy to manuever since they don’t have any plugs, but just be sure to have an extra battery around because they can run out of power pretty quick.

To draw the lines and angles, all that is needed is a Framer’s square and Carpenter’s pencil.  Carpenter’s pencils work best because they have thick lead which doesn’t brake on the rough edges of the cedar when marking the lines for the angles. The screwdriver will be used for a little trick I came up with that I’ll show you in a minute.

Finally, a little Alex Plus caulking and cheap caulk gun to fill the gaps along the boards.

I also purchesd 2 boxes of Star head exterior screws.  Exterior screws are designed so you won’t get the little black runs down the front when it rains and the star tips are nice because they don’t strip out as easliy.  You will also need semi-strong tape (Duct or Masking will work fine).

Now for the part that can drive some people a little nuts.  When placing the top board, it’s important to take into account the break at the top when the door opens (specifically, the break is when the door first pulls back from the frame).  If you place it too high, the beam could get knocked off or damaged, too low and you’ve got a gap showing at the top that takes away from the barn door affect.  I didn’t want to just guess and I wasn’t going to tack an entire board along the top to find out, not to mention the fact that I would need to take into account the height of the new, thicker garage door hardware.  So I came up with this little solution.


Using a scrap piece of the 1 x 4, I inserted a screw to be the exact height of the faux hinge hardware.  I would then use this piece as my test strip along the top edge of the door to find the highest point at which I could place by top rail.  Use the tape to secure the test piece at the top of the door, open-close, move accordingly, open-close again until you find the highest point that you can place the top rail.  By using the tape, if it hits the frame around your garage door, it will just fall off and you will avoid doing any damage to the door, frame or trim pieces.


Another little trick, as you can see, I removed the 1 x 2 trim board that went along the top of my frame.  This gave me a little more room to raise my top rail.  After I’m done, I’ll fill in the gaps on the side with scrap 1 x 2, caulk, paint and no one will be the wiser.  Now I can finally get started on the main portion of this job, trimming out the door with the new cedar boards!