Thursday, September 27, 2012

Catching up.......

So much going on........and so little time to write about it all!

This week is almost over, and I feel bad that I haven't posted yet. Here's what's going on with us this week.

I had a crazy weekend. On Friday I started feeling chest pains (sharp scary ones) on my left side, right where my heart is. It hurt pretty bad to breathe in or out, cough or sneeze. I really couldn't tell if it was my heart or my lungs, and the pain was getting worse as the evening went on. Tim had to work the next day (Saturday) so he had gone to bed early. My son Chris was over and I asked him to stay for a while just to be sure I was OK.

Then around 10:00PM, I was really beginning to get worried and uncomfortable. I asked Chris to go with me to the hospital to get checked out. (If you know me, you know I NEVER go to the hospital.) Since I'm a heavy smoker, and I'm getting closer to age 50.........I wanted to be sure of what was wrong. And I couldn't breathe. I was seriously worried it was my heart........or my lungs.
Add to this, that a very close friend of mine died of a heart attack on July 2nd, and another good friend of mine died of lung cancer on July 31st.

So Chris drove me up to the emergency room. We let Tim sleep since he had to work the next day. I told him I would call if it was anything serious. When we got to the hospital and I finally got to see the triage nurse, he told me my vitals were "very strong" and he sent us back to the waiting room to wait. The emergency room was pretty busy, and we had long wait before I could be seen.

After about an hour and a half, I was feeling a little better. The chest pains were subsiding. Chris was cold (it was freezing in the waiting room), and really I just wanted to go home. I felt that since the triage nurse didn't think I was having an emergency, and I was sitting in a hallway for an hour and a half............then maybe I wasn't really having an emergency. I was also sitting there thinking about how much this visit was going to cost. We have insurance, but still...........emergency rooms cost a fortune.

I started thinking maybe we should go home, and I could try to make a Doctor's appointment in the morning or maybe I could go to Urgent Care. So, we went home without me being seen in the emergency room that night.

I had a rough night at home. I didn't sleep well at all, the piercing pain in my chest hurt when I moved or breathed.

The next morning I was up pretty early, and still feeling chest pain. I made a few calls and I found out that my regular Doc and the Urgent Care place would not see me. No one had the "proper equipment" to check me out. With chest pain, the only place to go was back to the emergency room.

Tim was already at work, and my kids were all still sleeping so I drove myself back to the hospital around 9:30AM. They took me back to a cubicle right away, there was no wait.

I had all of the tests.......X-rays, EKG, CT scan, and bloodwork. Everything came back ok (THANK GOODNESS!) and the Doc and nurse seemed to think I may have a respiratory infection or maybe Pleurisy.
I was glad it wasn't anything really serious. I already felt better by the time I left the emergency room around noon. They had given me 4 baby asprin, so maybe that helped??

They want me to take a stress test, and I do have an appointment set up for that.

At this point, I'm feeling fine. I haven't had much chest pain since the weekend. It still hurts when I take a deep breath in or out, so I try not to do that.

One good thing that came out of my emergency room visit...........the Doc and I talked about my smoking. He told me that he could see "just a little bit of scarring" when he looked at my lung X-ray.

I was happy to hear that. I have been a heavy smoker since I was about 15 years old (back when 15 year olds could legally buy cigarettes, AND we had a dedicated -completely legal- smoking lounge in my High School). I've been a heavy smoker for about 30 years.

I've been wondering what the state of my lungs were. For several years now I have been afraid I had already made a mess of my lungs, and if so, what's the point in quitting smoking?? It's not everyday you get a lung X-ray and a Doc to tell you there isn't much damage so far. I feel like I'm in good shape, not too far gone! I think this is my "sign" that I'm still healthy enough to quit smoking and still be OK. Time to try quitting again. I've been looking at E-ciggs this week.

As soon as Tim found out that I had gone back to the emergency room, he came home from work. I had been trying to tell him I was fine, but he came home anyway. He's a sweetheart, I'm lucky to have him by my side.

We had a good day for the rest of our Saturday. I felt much better as the day went on.

We spent some time outside trying to get our house and yard cleaned up for winter, which seems to be approaching fast.

Tim got his ladder out and put the replacement shingles up.

The side of our house has looked like this for most of the summer:

Now it looks like this:

I think we will actually be ready to paint the house in the spring! WOOHOO!

Tim also bought me an awesome surprise this weekend:

What is it? Its a garden cart!!!

For several years now, I have been asking Tim to get me a kids wagon so I could use it to haul and move stuff in our backyard (sticks, branches, weeds, bricks). He did better than a kids wagon!!! I'M IN LOVE!!!!

Am I in love with Tim , or the garden cart??? well, BOTH!!!!

Any other normal  person would have just asked for a wheelbarrow, since the purpose of a wheelbarrow is to move things around.
I can't manage a wheelbarrow (I've tried before). With all of the ruts in our yard, I felt sure I would dump the thing over everytime I had a full load. They get awkward when they are full.

So I asked for a wagon, and I got one!!!

The cool thing is, this wagon will hook up to my riding lawnmower so I can pull it around the yard with heavy loads. The sides of the cart drop down so I can unload it easier too. I am loving this cart!!

I managed to move this giant pile of bricks and stepping stones (with the help of my son Allen)

We relocated the pile behind the new shed, toward the back of the yard. I didn't want to get rid of them, they are pretty cool old bricks. I may use them somewhere later on. I just didn't want them in the middle of the yard, and I certainly wasn't going to move them by WALKING them to the back of the yard.

My riding lawnmower, my new cart, and my son Allen handled the job with ease!!!


The inside of our house is going through some huge changes. I'm working on it slowly but surely. It seems to be taking me FOREVER to get to a point where I can take pics and show them here on the blog...........but soon!!! I promise the changes are significant, and it will be worth the wait to see it all at once.

Meanwhile, our living room is in a state of disarray............and the kitchen is the next room to get a lift. I really need to get these two rooms finished so we can move on to the bedrooms and bathroom.


And last, here is a pic of my parents and Tim's mom and step-dad all together.

When my parents were in town a few weeks ago, we all went to the Farmer's Market. Kansas City has an awesome Farmer's Market. Our parents had never met before that day, so it was nice to get them all together.

And a pic of my baby daughter, who had worked all night the night before, but managed to stay up for the Farmers Market so she could spend a little time with her grandparents.

She was so tired that morning, poor thing.............but we went shopping just after this pic was taken and we both bought new dresses for our upcoming cruise. She cheered up quickly while we were shopping.


As for my bloggy, I have recently realized it's a mess behind the scenes. This week I am talking the time to fix it up a bit. There are posts that need links to other posts, pictures that need to be resized and a lot of posts need tags (so you can find things easier).

I suppose that's it for today................I'll be back soon with another update!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Should we stay or should we go??

This has been an ongoing discussion between Tim and I for a few years now.
 Is this our FOREVER home? Or should we plan to stay here for a short time and then move on?

We still are not 100% positive what we are going to do. We really need to make a decision before we go too far with the home renovations.

If we decide to stay forever, we can do whatever we want to the inside of our home to make it perfect for us. Knock out some walls, reconfigure the bedrooms, etc.....
If we are going to move eventually, we need to keep the integrity of the house so it will appeal to any future buyers.

Here is our dilemma......

First of all, our house is small. It's 885 sq ft on the main level.
2 small bedrooms, 1 small bathroom, no storage, no usable garage for our cars, no closet space.

The size of the house isn't too bad really. For just Tim and I and our 2 small dogs, it's OK. But we are missing a few things that Tim and I would really like to have in our home.

1. Timmy needs a REAL garage. The underground dugout thing we have now is not even big enough to drive a car into.

THIS is not a garage, it's a tool shed disguised as a garage. And it's ugly:

For me, I would love to be able to park my car in the garage in the wintertime. I think it is so silly that we have a "garage" that isn't usable to even park our smallest car in it. I know they didn't have small cars back in the early 50's when this house was built, so I don't think anyone has ever been able to park a car in that garage. What were they thinking when they built it?

I suppose it's OK for now, but if we stay here forever I will have to continue to clean snow and ice off of my car in the winter. Even a carport would make me happy at this point.

2. I need a master bathroom. This is really important to me. The bathroom we have now needs to be completely gutted and we need to start over, but we still won't have a master bathroom. This one is in the hallway across from our bedroom.
See my house floor plan HERE if I am confusing you with the layout of our house.

This entire bathroom needs to be reconfigured.
Example 1: If you are sitting on the toilet, the shower curtain is about 6-8 inches from your face. I am not kidding. Ugg!
Example 2: When you step out of the shower, you have about 12 inches of room to dry off. Ugg!
Example 3: That gigantic ugly sink doesn't even work properly. It only has a small stream of water that comes out when you turn on the faucet. And the only water that comes out of the sink faucet is hot, hot!! Ugg!

Because of these things, I don't spend any time in that bathroom at all.   After I shower, I grab my towel and head to my bedroom where I have some room to dry off properly. This part sucks if we have houseguests because the hallway I have to cross to get to the bedroom is open to be seen from the livingroom. PRIVACY PLEASE???!!!!

The trickle of boiling hot water that comes from the sink faucet makes it impossible to wash my face or brush my teeth in the bathroom. I keep my toothbrush and toothpaste in a cup in the kitchen cabinet, and I wash my face in front of the mirror in the bedroom.

Can I just have a master bathroom???? PLEASE??!!!! It would be such a treat to be able to get ready for my day in my own bathroom.

3. We could use a bigger livingroom, or a family room.
Here is our livingroom now:

This side of the livingroom is OK and works fine for us.

 But the other side of the livingroom is borderline chaos. (Sorry, this seems to be the only picture with a view of my desk in the shot). That is my desk on the left side in the picture below. You can see the legs of Tim's desk butting up to my desk. Our desks take up about 1/3 of our living room.

Tim and I own a Private Investigations business, and we use our computers daily (and sometimes nightly). Our computers are both on 24/7 and we use them constantly when we are home.

We also need at least 1 file cabinet each and more space for our office stuff. Using the livingroom for an office is getting a bit cramped, and sometimes it gets messy on that side of the room. I hate that our office mess is the first thing people see when they walk in to our house.

Of course, we could use one of our extra bedrooms to make an office. (We have TWO extra bedrooms now!) but then Tim and I and our 2 doggies that follow us everywhere would be stuffed into an office bedroom for hours at a time. We don't love that idea, plus we have other plans brewing for the 2 extra bedrooms.

We think it would be nice to have a bigger "family room" where we can fit our desks and still have a little living space without being all cramped in.

We have talked round and round about building a huge addition onto the back of our house. We would love to build a family room, master bedroom, master bathroom and walk-in closet.

We also would love to add a garage, a back patio and a real front porch.

There is PLENTY of room in our back yard to do these additions and still have a lot of yard left for the doggies. Our property is almost a half acre. The yard is entirely fenced in, and our property goes back about 30-40 feet past the tree you see in the center of the yard back there.

Read more about our back yard HERE

Now for the problems with adding on?? Well, one problem we can see right away is that most of the homes in our neighborhood are small like ours, and some do have additions built on. But the additions we want to add to our house would more than double the size of our house. We are not sure it is wise to put such a gigantic addition on the house in the neighborhood we live in. We would basically end up with a house worth double what the other homes in our neighborhood are worth. Not so good if we do eventually try to sell it. We would never get our money back out of it.

There is so much more to consider too. To do all of this construction, we would have to remove 4 giant trees from our yard. This will cost about $1000.00 per tree. YIKES!!

Well, really we have 3 trees to be removed, and one tree just died this year and is dropping huge limbs all over. It sits on the property line between our back yard and one of our neighbors yards. Our neighbors have 4 little kids and we are definitely worried a rogue limb will drop while they are playing back there in their yard.
That tree has to be removed ASAP. We would feel so bad if our tree injured someone, or if the entire tree fell over and damaged their house, or ours. That would suck.

And beyond trees, we would have to think about enhancing the existing elecrtical panel in our house to be able to handle the load of the house addition, and the new garage.

So much to consider.

With all of that, we are really wondering why we don't just plan to find a new house to move into. I really don't think we are asking for anything unusual. There are plenty of houses out there for sale that already have garages, master bathrooms, family would be SO much easier to just move into a house that already has what we are looking for.

We have talked round and round about moving. It sounds easy........but it's not really as easy as we want it to be.
We worry about selling our house in a crappy economy. As our house stands now, we might break even if we sell our house (if we can even find a buyer!).
We actually looked at another house that is for sale a few weekends ago. This house has EVERYTHING we are asking for, and it's only about a half mile from where we live right now. Tim and I love the house and we talked about it all that weekend.
In the end, we decided that we don't like that the house payment would be DOUBLE what we are paying now. We are really comfortable with our house payment now, and although we wouldn't mind paying a little more for a house we love...........paying double what we pay now would be a little over the top for us. Sadly, we decided we aren't going to put in an offer for that house.

Back to the drawing board.........should we stay or should we go?? At this point, I think we are staying where we are, although things could change if we happen to find the perfect house. 

For now, we are going to continue on with the renovations of our existing house. We have some plans drawn up to add a large patio to the side of our house (just off of the screened in porch) and I think we are going to continue on with those plans.

I'll keep you posted as we make more decisions.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The softer side of Timmy

My husband isn't as rough as he looks in his pictures, he's actually very sweet.

Since we moved into our neighborhood 4 years ago, Tim has befriended the little kids that live on our block. If he sees them playing outside, he will stop and ask them how they are doing and chat with them for a minute or two. The kids think he's "cool" (so do I!)

The neighborhood kids have figured out that Tim likes bikes. Any kind of bikes! He collects bicycles and mini-bikes, he has several motorcycles.................I don't even know what all he has down there.

Many times in the summer, the kids will find Timmy to ask him to air up their bike tires or fix something. They will even knock on the door to ask him if he isn't outside. It's SO cute!

So yesterday when Tim came home from work, a couple of kids asked him for help and I happened to have my camera handy.

"Hey Timmy!!! Can you help us put air in this bike tire??"

The kids are Breana who lives across the street, and Kyle who lives a few doors down from Bree. They must be 7 or 8 by now. They were both so little when we moved in. It's kind of neat to watch them grow up these last few years.

Tim is in the garage getting his air hose. Bree is telling Kyle that it will be really loud when Tim turns it on. Kyle covers his ears. He realized soon after that the air hose wasn't as loud as Bree said it would be.

Tim takes the time to listen to Kyle's story about a really loud noise he heard the other day.

And now it's time to get the tire aired up.

He's so good with the kids!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Turning Green

Tim and I have made a conscious decision in the last 3-4  years to be more green. Some things are easier than others, but we have managed to make several lifelong changes around our house.

Here are some of the ways we are green around here:

Our trash company provided us with a large bin for trash and another one for recycling. They will empty it for us each week, although it usually takes several weeks for us to fill this.
Our trash company will recycle: newspaper, office paper, ad inserts, telephone books, envelopes, junk mail, catalogs  aluminum cans, tin or steel cans, corrugated cardboard, yogurt & margarine tubs, and plastics #1-7.

The black is for trash and the yellow is recycle.

We haven't bought or used paper towels in over two years now. The only tricky part is draining bacon, and now we have to hold the bacon up with a fork for a few extra seconds while the grease drips off each piece. No big deal really.

We don't use paper napkins either, although I have a small package in the cabinet for guests. (Just in case.)
We use cloth napkins but I do need to buy more to have on hand.

We don't buy paper plates, paper cups or plastic silverware.

I don't buy sponges anymore, I use a dishcloth. I realize sponges aren't made of paper. I googled and found out that kitchen sponges are made of cellulose wood fiber, but we don't buy them anymore anyway.

I bought dishrags that match my kitchen

No paper towels for us........we just grab a hand towel. I have 15 (or so) dishtowels. We just throw them in the wash when they get yucky.

All of our dishtowels, dishrags, rags, etc... get washed using the "sanitary" setting, which takes 3 hours and uses HOT water. I usually do a load of rags and towels about twice a week

I don't drink coffee, but Timmy does. He is up every morning at 4:45 and he leaves at 5:15 for his hour long commute to work. He needs his coffee so he can stay awake during his drive.

This re-usable coffee filter came with our coffee pot, but I have noticed you can buy them separately in many sizes to fit your coffeepot.

The re-usable filter is easy to use, we just dump the used coffee grounds in the trash and rinse out the filter. It's quite painless really. I love that we don't have to buy coffee filters ever again.

We have about 10 reusable bags that we use everytime we go to the grocery. Our local grocery store gives us 5 cents off for each bag we use.

I actually like using these bags much better than the plastic ones from the store. These are much easier to handle and I never worry about them breaking.

The grocery stores hand out thousands (millions??) of those plastic bags daily. I wonder how long all of those bags will be in the landfills?


I think just about every family uses these reusable cups.

Tim has these for his coffee:

And I take one of these to work with me everyday filled with ice water. It keeps me away from the soda machine:

We use these funny looking light bulbs instead of the regular ones. We will all eventually be using these since the regular old bulbs aren't being made anymore.

I like the way these last for a very long time, although they are more expensive. Tim and I bought some 3 years ago and they are still working.

A drawback to these new lightbulbs is that they can't be thrown in the trash when they burn out. They contain mercury and we sure don't want that in the landfills.

I'm not exactly sure how we are supposed to dispose of these bulbs, since none of ours have burnt out yet. I'll be sure to update when I figure it out.

When we bought our house, it came with some appliances, including a washing machine and dryer. The old washer never worked right, and Timmy replaced it when we moved in with this awesome side loader washer. It uses way less water than a top loader, and is also more energy efficient.

I am loving the homemade laundry soap. It doesn't have the scent of my beloved TIDE, but it's really just as good, and WAY less expensive. My laundry detergent actually leaves no scent at all on my clean laundry, but the clothes always smell fresh.  If you want the recipe here is my DIY laundry detergent post.

I'm not sure that making my own laundry soap is actually "green", but it sure saves Tim and I a boatload of money every month.

***I tried to make my own dishwasher soap too, but I found my homemade soap was leaving white stuff on the glasses and silverware. (DIY fail!!)  I am looking for a new recipe, and I'll share as soon as I find a dishwasher soap that works.

Tim and I are trying to find more ways to reuse, reduce and recycle..........even though it's sometimes a pain to change the way I have always done things. I am finding that the changes make sense after we try it.

I especially like that we save money by not buying expensive laundry soap, paper towels, paper plates, coffee filters, etc..... Every little bit we save is more money in our pockets at the end of the month!!

What's everyone else doing to go green these days? I'd love to know...............

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kansas City Bikers for Babies - 2012!!!

Yesterday, Tim and I participated in Kansas City's Bikers For Babies fundraising event. It was the 5th year I participated - except last year I paid my entrance fee but I didn't ride the 100 miles becuase it rained the day of the event. I refuse to ride in the rain.

This year, Bikers For Babies was in full swing! There were over 5000 participants that gathered yesterday at the racetrack to begin our 100 mile ride for the babies.

Our event yesterday raised over $650,000.00 for the March Of Dimes. WOW!!

Kansas City holds the largest Bikers For Babies event in the nation, and the largest fundraising event in the Midwest. It's a lot of fun and very cool to see that many motorcycles in one place at one time.

Tim and I got to the racetrack around 9:00 AM
We waited outside the gates to meet up with a few of our friends.

As we waited I took a few pics of bikes arriving:

Here is my Timmy watching for our friends. This motorcycle is our new one. I was excited to ride the 100 miles on this. We haven't had it very long and we have only taken it out for a few short rides so far - out to eat or a quick run to the store. I wanted to see how comfortable it would be on a longer ride. I was pleasantly surprised!!!! We had a very nice ride.

I love my "queen" seat! It's as soft and comfortable as it looks.

For comparison, here is Tim's other Harley. I have been riding on the back of this one for over 4 years now. It's a very nice bike, but the new one is so much more comfortable for longer rides.

By the way, now that we have the "new" bike, the old one has been changed (redecorated?). Tim has removed the back seat and the sissy bar. He changed the seat to a single rider seat and now the bike in the pic above can't have a passenger. If Tim is hauling me around, we can only ride the new bike now.

Anyway, we met up with our friends and we headed into the racetrack for the opening ceremony.
The event is held in the "pit" area of the track. In order to get into the pits, you have to drive through a tunnel that goes under the track.

Thousands of bikes already there! We parked and walked around to look at some of the vendor booths and talk to friends.

Tim is a busy man! He didn't have time for a proper picture

The vendor booths are inside these garages. The garages are the actual pit areas for the race cars during racing season.

We didn't walk over to the opening ceremony, although on previous years we have always walked over there. Johnny Dare was there as the MC (He is a DJ from one of our local radio stations -  98.9). Johnny Dare has been the honorary chairman of the KC Bikers For Babies ride for 17 years now.
Here is a picture of him in one of his posters for the ride:

How sweet is this?

As the ride started, we all got back on our bikes and waited our turn to exit the racetrack and begin our 100 mile ride.

Here is a short video I took while we were waiting to get going.
(If you are at work, you may want to turn your volume down)

Heading back through the tunnel to get out of the pit area

Here is a very short video I took while we were going through the tunnel. The guys sure like to make noise in there............boys will be boys!

Here are a few pics of our ride.

There were people along the route waving to us as we rode by. It was kind of like a parade. The small towns we rode through were a lot of fun with a lot of people waving and cheering us on.
In Eudora, the firemen had one of  their trucks out to welcome us as we rode through. They had the ladder up and a flag hanging off the top for us to drive under.

After our 100 mile route, we were back at the racetrack for free lunch.
Price Chopper (grocery store) donates hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, bottled water and cans of soda for the participants. The lunch was nice because we were all starving when we got back.

Such a nice day, and a nice ride. We really enjoyed ourselves and we are looking forward to going again next year.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Livingroom Changes

For the past 4 years, our living room has gone through some changes.

This is what it has looked like for the past 3-4 years:

Today, my living room looks nothing like the above picture. We have some BIG changes going on right now.

I don't want to say too much about it until it's finished, but here is a hint of what's going on at our house this week:

Stay tuned! More to come soon...........

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Recovering Kitchen Chairs

My sister gave me her table and chairs a few months ago. She moved into a smaller house and didn't have room for it so Tim and I inherited it.

Here is our old oak kitchen table (I really loved it):

And this is our "new" oak table and chairs:

It took me a while to warm up to the new set, but I really like it now. One thing I wanted to do was recover the chairs. The material they were covered in was white and a very heavy material that I didn't like.

A few weeks ago Tim and I walked around the fabric store for quite a while, but nothing jumped out at us. Since upholstry fabric is expensive, we decided to wait until we found something we really like instead of buying something we were just ok with.

Then last weekend, Tim's mom gave me several bolts of heavy fabric that she didn't want anymore.

One of them was a grey/blue stripe that I thought would be OK for the chairs.

It's not REALLY what I want on the chairs, but it was free. I like the blue stripe better than I like the original white chair covers, so I decided to go for it.

First I turned one of the chairs over and took out the screws holding the seat in place

After taking out the 10,000 staples that held the original white fabric on the seat, I had a seat board and a piece of foam

I cut a piece of material off of the bolt, and wrapped it around my seat board and foam. I used my staple gun to staple the fabric to the bottom of the chair.

It took about 20 minutes to recover each chair.

To tell you the truth, I don't love the blue striped fabric on these chairs. I think the blue is better than the original white that they came with, but I'll re-do them again when we find some fabric we love. We're still looking.

I'll be sure to post again and let you know what I find.

Until then, here are a few pics of our "new" table, looking pretty:

We have some big projects going on in the kitchen right now...........

HINT: That knotty pine on the kitchen walls is getting a makeover!