Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tis the season~

Being a mom and wife...
Children at different age levels (6,9,15,17)...
Christmas Season...
Calendar of activities...
Home renovation in progress...

Do you ever feel like a Stretch Armstrong? I sure do!!!

Praise God He gives strength; when I am stretched like this, God reveals himself in mighty ways. My prayer is for any and all who feel the way I do right now~ that we tap into God's supernatural strength and find a nice balance in our situations. May none of us lose the meaning of our mission in life (wife, mom, mentor, teacher, etc) or lose sight of Jesus as we celebrate His birthday this month.

I pray Jesus stay at the center of our stretched lives!

...“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

IT Gets Worse Before IT Gets Better!

Have you ever noticed that when you're working on a project or encountering a challenge, "IT" sometimes seems to "get worse before IT gets better?

I think we can all relate to the times when a room in your house gets a "deep clean"... you end up making it much messier in the process to get it to the place of cleaner- "better". In the middle of the project mess you may doubt if the getting worse part was worth the getting better part. Can you relate?

What is your "IT"? We all have them.

Right now, mine is our home renovation project. It seems to get worse before it's getting better! I wonder how much longer?... when will we finally be completely "better"? We are living in the midst of a cluttered mess! It's been 10 months since we moved into our fixer upper and begun our projects based on priority; doing all the demolition and construction while living in the house as we renovate. It's been like a domino effect of shuffling one mess into the next in the process of each stage of updating. Besides the fact that we are living our everyday lives in addition.

My family and I are truly learning patience and perseverance!

Office area by kitchen looking in from dining room.

This is our dining room area looking from the living room. The domino effect of mess from "every day living" and "renovation". This is a sample of our "IT".

What is your "IT"?

Monday, November 22, 2010

"BEFORE" and "AFTER" ~ Bathroom Renovation #2

"Bathroom #2" is our second bathroom renovation for our ranch house fixer upper. We did some work on it back in February out of desperate necessity (see THIS POST) to replace a leaking toilet and rotten sub-floor. After the repairs, we lived with the out of date bathroom for just over 7 months before we got time to renovate it. That's what's hard about this house- everything needs attention, so it's a matter of prioritizing.

We officially started our Bathroom #2 renovation the first week of September while the kids were on a break from school. We had this vision that we'd start and finish in a couple weeks. HA HA! Just like ALL the other rooms in our home, we discovered there's much more to the updates than we realized once we started, and the length of time it would take would be much longer than we expected.

Bathroom #2 took 6 weeks of hardcore demo and reconstruction before we could install the toilet and sink to even begin using part of the space again; that means six people coordinating bathroom time and showers in one bathroom (we just got done doing that with the first bathroom renovation!). We've learned to persevere because time has not been our friend! Officially as of today- 10 weeks after we began this Bathroom project- I am able to take good "AFTER" pictures. With the exception of a few painting details, a small piece of molding to install, and several knobs on the built-in cabinet, we are done with Bathroom #2!

Check it out~ (forgive me for so many pictures; I'm a "visual" learner and communicator and believe they speak volumes).


The kids picked out the "cool" shade of blue on the wall~ "Aqua Ice" by Kilz
The mirror has a recessed cabinet in the wall.

This is a close up of the corner of the floor by the bathtub that had rotted. What you can't tell by the photo is the corner space is stuffed with steel wool and is about 1" x 2" . When the steel wool is pulled out, you're able to look straight to the ground.

Repaired and pretty!

This original built-in cabinet had five layers of different colors of paint from over the many years of it's life (I sanded a small section to investigate). Since the layers of paint most likely contains some lead, we chose to repaint! The piece went from an antique cream color...

...to an "Ultra Pure White" semi gloss, just like the trim. What a difference a fresh coat of paint makes! New hinges and knobs (still needed to be installed), give this original built-in cabinet the face lift it needed.

...love all the storage space. The bottom cupboard space was originally a wood hamper (the smelled musty and not practical). We converted the old hamper to a storage for toilet paper and cleaner- salvaged the original front of the hamper and added a hinge.

Looking into the bathroom from the hall.

The bath tub had seen better days.

New and fresh!


...I love stained glass! This window adds some nice light to the bathroom.
...the molding around the ceiling dress up the space as well.
...the mosaic border is our personal touch to accent and compliment the window.

We saw the mosaic border idea at our Home Depot for $10.00 a 12" section. There was no way I wanted to spend that kind of money since we needed 22 sections, so we made our own for about $.50 a section using tile "left overs" from Bathroom #1 and this project. We saved over $200. as DIY'ers and got to make it more special with handpicked colors. Making the mosaic sections was a family project with the kids each doing at least one section piece (12" long)- Jessie did 3 or 4 sections!

Soap and razor niche.

No more arguing over where the shampoo belongs!

Jessie and Joe are the first to initiate the new bathtub. Both in swimsuits, they think it's a fun place to play!


Joe was excited to help tear down the old tile...

This chunk of wall with tile on it came down in one big piece and scared Joe as it was falling. We were blessed he wasn't hurt.

We knew there would be water damage, just not sure how much! The smell was gross.

...the tile backer board that was used (many, many years ago) was 1/2" plywood. After years of leaking around the broken chalking seal, the plywood rotted and crumbled around the bathtub upon touch.

Joe having a grand time lifting the brittle laminate tile pieces off the floor...

When we lifted the old bathtub to get it out, we discovered previous evidence of "critters"-mice or rats?- under the tub!

..and a rat snake in the wall by the tub! FREAK OUT TIME! We never caught him since he was so fast to escape straight up the wall into a crack next to some plumbing that goes to the attic! YES, HE MAY STILL BE IN THE ATTIC SOMEWHERE! But, that's a good thing, since rat snakes are non-venomous and eat rodents!

A bathroom down to nothing... time to put it back together~

...notice the opening above the shower area? (an opening for a transom window to let light in this room with no other windows!)
... how about the new tub? (we went from a 14" depth to an 18 " soaker tub depth)
...notice the niches near where the shower nozzle goes? (a place for soaps and razors- another is on the opposite side for the kids' shampoos- photo below)
...notice the shelf along the back wall? (perfect for kids to line their toys up, or candles for a nice bubble bath)

...the opposite side- four separate "cubby niches" for the kids to put their shampoos; each child has their own space!

...the transom window arrives!
(ordered from eBay- an artist in Canada)

Getting it installed was a challenge, but well worth it! The other side of the window faces the laundry room; we changed out the laundry room back door to an exterior door that has a window on the top half to let natural light in the space (which also comes into the stained glass window in addition to the ceiling light from the laundry room).

Our fixer upper has been a labor of love. Kirk has become the expert in updating the electrical and plumbing, while I (Teri) have done everything else- carpentry, framing, sheet rocking, all the tile work, chalking, painting, trim work, - a jack of all trades, master of none. Our house has a total of 12 indoor spaces (halls included) and we have 6 completed. Master Bedroom Before and After coming soon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Remembering Brittney~

A year ago today- November 8, 2009, an unexpected turn of events occurred and my sister's only child (my niece), was called home to be with Jesus.

Today, on the anniversary of her "Birthday into Heaven", we celebrate Britt and her memory here on earth. As a memorial to honor her, my family and I placed a cross by the side of the road where the car accident happened that took Britt's life. We let off a single red heart balloon to float to the heavens as a way to let Brittney know we love her and miss her. As the balloon quickly floated away, Jessie and Joe yelled, "we love you, Brittney"! The balloon went so fast to the sky we almost didn't get a photo (as if Brittney was grabbing it to let us know her presence with us).

As today marks the one year anniversary of Britt leaving this earth, I take time to reflect...

I think about my sister, Traci and Brittney moving to Corpus Christi at the end of July (2009) for Traci to start a new teaching job at Calallen Middle School. Traci had some situations occur that inspired her to move from Washington state to pursue new opportunities in Texas. Traci began her new job and Brittney started Calallen High in August. Britt would catch up on lost academics from her Junior year in Kelso, WA and graduate on time in Texas at the end of the school year 2010. Britt had got behind on her school credits when she had back surgery for scoliosis. After the surgery, she went through a rough and painful recovery (physically and emotionally), missing many days of school...

I think about how Brittney resented the move to Texas at first, but was getting adjusted and beginning to enjoy their new adventure in a new place. She was making good grades in school, meeting new friends, attending a new church (Bay Area Fellowship), getting to know her cousins better (my 4 kids), and drawing closer to her mom- a relationship that had been strained over the past couple years...

I think about Brittney's boyfriend Sean moving to Texas (in late August), how it was just what she needed at that very moment. After his arrival, all started to fall into place for Brittney...

I think about Ryan (Traci's husband, Britt's dad) and his trip to Texas to bring a load of belongings before his move. Although he didn't like the state, I believe everything happened the way God intended... he was reluctantly taking his time to square things up in Washington to move down south himself to join his family at a later time (a move that ultimately would not happen- all God's plan)...

I think about how over the month of October, when ever I saw Brittney, she had a countenance that was that of inner joy... she smiled more... she laughed more... she seemed real happy... it was an attitude I now saw in Brittney I hadn't seen in a long while...

I think about how after the car accident that took Britt's life, neither Traci or Sean could bring themselves to to stay in Corpus Christi; Ryan hadn't made it down to this point and chose to stay in WA state; losing Britt and the memories connected to Corpus Christi were all too painful for all three of them to be here (in Texas). Traci moved back to Washington state to join her husband (leaving her new job), and by God's grace found a long term substituting position in the Tacoma area to finish off the 2009/2010 school year...

I think about how this past spring, after applying to a number of schools in WA, God provided her the perfect position. She was offered what she considers to be her dream job- a High School English Teacher (11 & 12 grades) in Eatonville, WA. It's just what she needed to be close to this age group of children to keep Britt's memory alive and feel close to her as she teaches and mentors 16-18 year old youth. God knew what He was doing to provide her this job to help her heal; He IS for ever faithful!

I think about how Traci and Ryan have drawn closer through this time of losing their only daughter. God has been ever present in working to heal Traci and Ryan's hearts through this past year...

I think about the whole string of events, how everything fell in place for Traci and Britt to move to Texas... the mended relationship between Traci and Britt after the move...

I think about the last words Britt said to her mom were, "I love you, mom" before she left the apartment...

I think about Traci and Britt attending a new church together and both of them getting to know Jesus in a deeper way (in such a short time)...

I think about how God always has a bigger and better plan for us than we could ever imagine... I still don't understand why He called Britt home at such an early age and so soon after the move to Texas (only three months), but I know His ways are always right even when they don't make sense to us...

I think about how my sister tapped into a supernatural strength to get herself through every minute of everyday with such a great loss on her heart, and has been an inspiration to many as she seeks the Lord for her strength...

I think about Ryan and all he has gone through in questioning the "whys" of Brittney not being with us any more... the heart ache and different emotions he is going through that only God can comfort and answer.

We all miss Brittney and I personally think of her almost everyday. I know for a fact, Traci and Ryan think of her multiple times a day. As long as they are on earth, they will have an empty place in their lives that was filled by Britt.

As I think about Brittney leaving us; I'm sad, yet I celebrate. Celebrate, because for those who have Jesus in their heart- which she did- when it's over (on earth), it's really "not over", but just beginning! The life she's living RIGHT NOW is what living is all about!

I think about Brittney hanging out with Jesus and our loved ones who have gone home ahead of her and after her... how she is watching down on us from heaven excited to see us all again someday, wanting to give us a tour of "her new home" ... Until that day, we hold her close in our hearts and memories until the time when we join her at home in heaven.

We love you, Britt!

Dec. 17, 1991 - Nov. 8, 2009