December 26, 2013

The Non-Christmasy Christmas of 2013

Whew! I'm exhausted. It's 12:30 Christmas morning, I'm dead tired, but I want to jot down this crazy day before I forget it. This wasn't a typical festive, holiday eve. It was far from it.

The first thing that woke us up this morning around 9am was Livie being a silly toot in her room. Jake went to get her so she could hang out in our bed for a while so we could wake up. But, when he opened her door, she was butt naked, so he had to at least put another diaper on her. He went ahead and got up with the kids and let me sleep in. Apparently, while I was asleep, Livie took off her diaper, again, and peed on a pillow in the living room. *sigh*

I finally got out of bed around noon. My intention was to do some laundry and dishes before I needed to get ready to go to the Christmas Eve service. But, I only had time to pee when I heard Jake scream, throw his handsaw, and run to the kitchen. He'd been cutting new floorboards, and was almost done when the little handsaw kicked back on him. When I got to the living room, I saw blood drops on the floor, Jake at the kitchen sink, and blood on the kitchen cabinets by his knees. I thought he had cut his leg. I yelled from the hallway:

"What did you cut!?"

"My thumb!"

"Is. . . it. . . still. . . attached?"


So I got a towel from the laundry room to clean up the blood before the kids stepped in it. Then I checked on Jake to see how bad the cut was. It was hamburger right at the base of his left thumb. No amount of home first aid was going to fix this. I told the kids to get dressed, tightly bandaged Jake's thumb, checked to see if ProMed was opened, they weren't, then called Momma to come get the kids so that we could go to the ER. Jake thought he could drive himself. I convinced him that I would take him, so after I got dressed and Momma picked up the kids, Jake and I set off in the Jeep to the ER. His hand wasn't really hurting yet, but the side of his thumb was numb.

Ok, well, so much for getting this typed out the night it happened. I was just too tired and went to bed. It's now the 26th, and I now have more to add to what I didn't finish in the first place.

On with the story. . .

I dropped Jake off at the ER entrance while I looked for a parking space. By the time I got in, he was checked in and ready to sit and wait. So we found some spots in the almost empty waiting room expecting to be there for a while. We had enough time to pull out the iPods and tell a random guy what had happened to Jake's thumb when they called us back.

They put us in the "let's-make-sure-you-really-need-to-be-here" room to check his vitals and look at his thumb. I guess they decided a nurse could fix him up, so they led us to a space with no door, just a curtain. Again, we expected to wait a long time, so we got settled, Jake in the chair because it had an arm rest, and me on the bed. By this time, Jake's whole arm and shoulder where starting to ache, partially because of the trauma, and partially because he was holding his hand up. We found some Star Trek on the tv and pulled out the iPods again. But a nurse showed up quickly to take us to x-ray to make sure there weren't any saw or bone fragments in the wound. I sat on a bench around the corner, texting Momma to keep her up to date.

They finished the x-ray and led us back to the curtained space. Again, we expected to be there a while, but another nurse showed up. Jake had to un-bandage his thumb for the third time. The nurse poked, squished, and moved the loose skin, "I don't know what they expect us to do here with inadequate lighting. You'll need to go to the laceration room."

The laceration room. A whole room for lacerations. Sounds. . . bad.

So, after a few short minutes, another fast walking nurse came to lead us to the laceration room. Jake took the bed/table, I took the chair. At this point, there were at least three different nurses in and out asking questions, sometimes the same ones, and typing things into the computer. I don't know how many times they asked if he'd had his tetanus shot. It had been nine years, so we knew he needed another one. But first, the thumb.

We were in the laceration room by ourselves for longer than any of the other places, so we had time to look around. That room was covered, floor to ceiling, with what we decided was rhino lining. There was no paint on the walls, no seams as if it were vinyl flooring. I guess they have a lot of blood spatter in the laceration room? I scooted my chair away from the wall.

And, of course, we took pictures (CAUTION: VERY GRAPHIC, at the bottom of post) and video of his thumb. It was nasty. One of the not good iPod pictures I texted to Paul and Philip. Philip's response, "Santy don't visit the funeral home, little buddy."

We also had time to re-evaluate what we were going to do over Christmas break. You see, we'd been working almost non-stop on our living room remodel since we got the money for it back in October. One of the things we wanted to avoid was getting the room "livable" without actually finishing it. We knew that sanding, staining, and finishing the floor was going to be a big job, but once we did some research, we realized it was going to be a bigger job than we had thought. So, for some reason, we decided to do it over Christmas break. We were basically going to move in with Momma and Daddy for half a week and work on the floor as quickly as possible. But once we realized that drying times and ventilation were going to be an issue with the cold weather, each of us separately considered putting the project off till summer. The problem was, neither of us told the other one our idea because. . . I don't know why, really. But after Jake jankied his thumb, we both decided that putting it off was the best idea. I was disappointed that I'd have to live in a half finished mess for another half of a year, but, we knew it'd get done eventually.

After not too terribly long a wait, the Nurse Practitioner came in to sew up Jake's thumb, and I got as much as I could on video. First, she had to numb everything. She was sticking that needle up under the flaps of skin, it was nasty. She probably stuck him over twenty times, but it did the job and even made his arm and shoulder stop hurting. Then she had to wash out the wound. I couldn't see much from where I was because she had a piece of gauze over his thumb so the saline wouldn't squirt everywhere. There was a lot of fluid gushing down his hand, though. She also washed the blood off the rest of his hand.

Then she started stitching. We're not really sure how he cut his thumb where he did. For some reason, the underside closest to the palm was what was torn up. He didn't notice till he took his bandage off the third or fourth time that he had small nicks on the top, where you'd think the main cut would be from the way he was holding the board when the saw kicked back. She started stitching the small nicks on top first, then worked her way to one side of the main wound.

The NP had to figure out how to jigsaw the jagged pieces back together. After stitching up some of the other side of the cut, she got to the middle where she realized some of the pieces wouldn't go back together. She had to cut off a few small pieces just to make the rest straight enough for her to sew it back together. I'm not sure how long it actually took, but she did a fantastic job, 14 stitches later.

Some of this is blurry, but there were other nurses telling Jake how to care for his thumb and what to do next. But, Pepper called on Jake's phone, so I took it out in the hall. I told her what was going on, and she told me how she'd lopped off the end of her finger before with a kitchen knife. Then she asked what we were doing on Christmas day. After changing phones, 'cause Jake's died, we got everything squared away, and I went back to the laceration room.

Now, we were just waiting on his tetanus shot, which he eventually got after not too long of a wait. Then he got his prescriptions and paperwork, and we were led to the discharge office. We were in and out quickly after a $150 charge and talk of financing what was left of the bill. We walked out to the almost full waiting room and left the building. All-in-all, the trip only took about two and a half hours, which I think is a record for that ER.

We drove over to Chick-Fil-A's drive through, because neither of us had had anything to eat all day, forgot to run by the pharmacy, then got home where our neighbor, Brad, met us. We were able to tell him, and show him, what had happened. He got to see the house, and we talked a bit more about different things.

By this point, I had less than an hour before Momma was going to pick me up to get to the church to practice for the Christmas Eve service. I showered, dried my hair, which I hate doing, and did everything else I needed to get ready. Then I helped Jake cut off his hospital bracelets and cover his hand with a Walmart sack so that he could take a shower. We had just enough time to get some of the kids' clothes together before Momma and Philip showed up. I showed them the REAL pictures of Jake's thumb, then we left for the church and Jake left for Momma's house to get the kids after a short detour to the Walgreens Pharmacy to get his antibiotic filled. But, since they were closing early, they couldn't fill it, so he went without antibiotics till today.

I got to church later than I wanted. But I was still able to practice with the Beasley girls singing "O Holy Night" for call to worship. And we ran over "Emmanuel" for communion. They even moved the piano onto the stage, which made it feel more homey. Jake and the kids got there on time, surprisingly, but still in the clothes they had left the house in earlier that day. The service went really well, even though I had to hold Livie in between singing sets. She hadn't seen me all day and really wanted me. She ended up on stage with me at the very end. Did you know it's really hard to hit the high notes in "Joy to the World" with 30 pounds of baby on your chest?

We headed over to Momma and Daddy's to have supper and try to have some semblance of Christmas. Usually, I have this "Christmas spirit" feeling around this time, but it just wasn't happening this day. But, we did have good food and got to show off the pictures of Jake's thumb. Once everyone got there, we started opening presents. I'm still not sure what my kids got because it was a mess in there. But one very cool gift was what my momma got from Paul and Becca. . . little baby socks! Yay! I'm gonna be an aunt again!

I realized during all of this that I had forgotten Momma's present at home. So, after we opened everything, I drove back to the house, barefoot because my shoes were really uncomfortable. I grabbed the Christmas candy, my comfy house shoes, and Momma's gift which was an unwrapped photo book of the kids, then headed back to her house.

I gave the photo book to Momma, she loved it, of course, then I walked over to Paul and quietly said, "That thing is on youtube if you wanna show it now. It's up to you." That thing was something else that had been consuming my life since before Halloween. Paul realized back in September that it had been twenty years since Momma and my aunt Stephanie had put together a video with music and pictures of my grandparents growing up. He thought we should make a new one with all the kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. I thought it was a great idea, and took off with it. The problem was, I'm a terrible procrastinator, and I had to rely on many cousins and siblings to get me the pictures. That was more frustrating than I thought it would be. I realize that they weren't quite as consumed with it as I was, so getting me pictures wasn't at the top of their to-do list. I worked more on this the three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas than before. I was so tired of it by Christmas. But, I got it done and uploaded to youtube so that those that weren't going to be in town would get to see it. And we went ahead and showed it to Momma on Christmas Eve. She loved it, of course, it looked great, I'm glad it exists, but I'm never doing it again.

Things went blurry again. The kids got baths at Momma's. They played with a remote controlled car Paul and Becca had given them, then we packed up everything and everyone and left for home. I felt kind of blah because I had eaten way more junk food than I should have. The bag of m&m's were right next to me during the entire 36 minute picture video, then I tried one of Anne's Nutella roll-ups, then I tried some of Momma's wassail. It was all yummy, but it was a bad idea to eat all of that.

We got the kids in bed, and I was ready to sleep, too, but I had to get things ready for Christmas morning. Jake left for the annual Waffle House tradition with the guys, and I set out the presents and got the stockings ready. We couldn't do any of that before because Livie would have unwrapped everything. I watched only one episode of Bones, then attempted to start this blog post. I eventually went to bed.

Then Christmas morning came! . . .

Yay for Christmas . . . I didn't feel well. Benjamin woke us up around 8 am. We opened the curtains, got the Five Iron Frenzy "You Gotta Get Up" song going to wake up Emma, then started in on the presents and stockings. I got great pictures, they got everything they wanted, Jake got his stocking full of canned meat products, and I got a very cold, unwrapped digital picture frame straight from Jake's car. But I was too nauseated to enjoy it much. I assumed it was because of all the junk I had eaten the night before, so I had some crackers and water. That didn't help at all. After everyone got all their presents out of their packages and started playing, I went back to bed, for what I assumed was just going to be a little while.

I didn't get better. Pepper and Charles showed up. I could hear most of the festivities from the bedroom. Emma got the Anna doll from Frozen that she'd been wanting, and they all needed to get ready to go to Jake's dad's house. Pepper had to help with the kids while Jake came into the bedroom so that I could re-dress his wound. Sitting up made me feel worse. They eventually left, and I tried to go back to sleep.

But I got up to go to the bathroom. I tried blowing my nose, but my gag reflex got the better of me, and I threw up. I felt better for a while after that until the knot in my stomach started. I had crackers and orange juice because I was a little hungry, but that didn't help the knot. By this time of the day, the modem had crapped out. . . again. . . so I had no phone, no Netflix, no internet, unless I could get Paul's wifi to work from across the street. So I was awake, but bored because I had nothing to do and was too tired and sore to do any chores or clean up the wrapping paper. This stomach thing was just flat out annoying at this point.

I did manage to borrow the wifi long enough to ask how the picture video went over with Grandma. After talking with Momma later that night, I think I'm glad we didn't end up going out to Grandma's. It sounded as if the whole day was awkward out there.

Eventually, I went back to bed to try to sleep off the stomach knot, then Jake and the kids came back. We hung out watching Kung Fu Panda 2, and I actually had an appetite for potstickers. They stayed down, but I still had a knot, and now, a terrible headache. The kids went to bed, I settled on the couch 'cause I wasn't tired, and even tried a swig of Jake's beer to help with the knot. It was nasty and didn't help at all. Then my headache got worse. This just wasn't my day. I took Tylenol because I thought ibuprofen would hurt my stomach. But the Tylenol made me nauseated, gave me chills, and made me achey. It made no sense. On top off all that, Livie kept waking up because she was constipated.

Around 1:30 in the morning, I had crackers and apple juice, started feeling better, then snuggled Livie through two episodes of Bones. At 3 am, I finally got to go to sleep. This morning, if you can call 11:30 "morning," I woke up with a slight headache, but my stomach felt great. By the way, it's taken me from noon today till now, 9 o'clock at night, to finish this post. This is why I don't blog.

This was probably the most non-Christmasy Christmas I've ever had. Maybe next year I'll laugh about it. It wasn't all bad, it just wasn't Christmas. It sounds as though I had the worst two days ever. Christmas was yucky for me, but Christmas Eve. . . Jake and I were kind of having fun together in the ER. He called it a little date. I loved leading the Christmas Eve service. I always love going to my Momma's. It was an exhausting day, but, surprisingly in light of what happened, a good one.

I'm glad it's over. I'm glad Jake's thumb still works. I'm glad we're not going to work on the floor. I'm glad we've got a week and a half before school and therapy start back. And I'm glad I'll get to go on a date with my husband, 'cause that's what he wanted for Christmas. We won't be able to go to a steak house, though. Jake can't cut a steak right now. :-)

If you want to see the VERY GRAPHIC and NASTY picture of Jake's thumb, keep scrolling down.

July 10, 2013

Remodel Part 1

I've been told that as long as you own a house, that house will never be finished. I've come to realize this is true.

We've been in this house for just over ten years. Of course, when we moved in we made some changes and improvements. 

Smokers lived in this house for over 15 years before us. Cleaning that much tar off of EVERYTHING would turn anyone off of smoking for life. We thought our attic fan grate was that cheap brass finish. Nope. Aluminum....nasty

We cleaned, painted, pulled up carpet, washed hardwood floors, the usual stuff. Our house had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a spot in the kitchen for a little table. The place was a fine size for a newly married couple. But when I got pregnant with our first child, we realized we needed to start making more room. And so it began. 


Our kitchen/ dining room/ laundry room were all in the same room. I decided it was designed by a guy. We first moved the washer and dryer into the mudroom attached to the back end of the garage. We made a pantry out of the space left by the washer and dryer. 
The pantry after the washer and dryer were out,
before we put real shelves in.

Next, we added more counter space, got rid of the poo brown electric stove and oven that weren't big enough and didn't work completely, replaced them with a gas range my grandma gave me, and painted the cabinets a color I would regret later.

Original kitchen. Electric stove top straight ahead.
Tiny bits of counter top to the left and the right.

Kitchen after some improvements. Old stovetop and oven are gone replaced by a new gas range to the left. Added more cabinets next to the range. Took out old stove vent and replaced it with a shelf. Put microwave where the oven used to be. New counter tops. Where the range is used to be a bare wall. That's where the table used to be.

Basically where we stopped. Unfinished. New counter tops, white cabinets, new knobs and pulls, shelf for microwave, primed backsplash.

I love having all the new counter top space. It makes it much easier to prepare meals. I would in the future, however, like to change the color of the bottom cabinets. I can't seem to keep the white clean. I'm thinking gray. We're also going to finish the backsplash and do something to the floor to get rid of the poo brown vinyl that is now chipping.

Because of all those improvements, we now had a different table that only fit in one spot in the kitchen: right in front of the pantry and the back door. This would become an issue later. Oh, and we didn't actually finish the kitchen. We got it functional.
Emma, entertaining at lunch with friends. See how the table blocks the back door and pantry.


Our bathroom was a remodel of necessity. So much water had gotten onto the floor next to the tub over the years that one could bounce on the soft spot. Jake took Labor Day weekend after Livie was born to redo the whole bathroom....without any help. It's not that he was too proud to ask, it's that he just assumed that everyone would be busy, so he never bothered asking. 

We had to spend a few nights over at my parents because we had no toilet, and for a while, no running water. The floor was rotted all the way to the studs. He had to patch the floor and replace the tub. In order to avoid this happening again, we decided to tile. I think he was up well into the early morning finishing the tile so we could get back home more quickly.
Original bathroom. Plastic blue tiles, globes over bulbs that made them almost impossible to change, boring mirror. 

Blue toilet and tub. Sparkly and speckled countertop. This is AFTER we replaced the aluminum window with a vinyl one.

Getting rid of the blue tile. Notice by the new toilet. The tiles had been falling off for years. Oh, and the air vent is right in front of the toilet. Really annoying for a guy. Jake moves that to under the cabinet.

Unfortunately, we had real tile in the tub/shower area that we weren't able to salvage, and we didn't have the money to replace it with new tile. Oh well, one small loss.

Blue tub gone. Sub floor exposed.

Yeah, that'd be rot

New tub, and overkill on the water proofing

Jake's first ever tile job. Looks good! Much better than cracked and pealing vinyl with a pink and blue pattern.

Jake's start to the artwork for the new bathroom. He even painted the toothbrush holder. Notice the green wall. It was much brighter than I thought it would be. We also see a new countertop and oval sink here.

New light fixtures, framed mirror and window, chair rail above the masonite covering where the old plastic tile used to be, extra switches for new vent/heater/light.

The paint color turned out a bit brighter than I anticipated, but Jake's artwork helps to offset it. This room we actually completely finished. 


Oh the deck. I'm not sure when we started messing with it, but we finally finished it last fall.

The house already had a pretty large and strangely shaped red painted deck when we moved in. But, because we have no gutters to offset the pounding rain, and we didn't realize it needed upkeep, the deck turned to a piece of junk. Almost all the paint came off, and the boards directly under the eaves completely warped.
Benjamin being silly on the slowly dying original deck. That far rail did have a bench on it for a while.

Look! A worm! And Benjamin (red jacket) is sitting in about the same place as he was standing in the other picture. See how big the deck is.

Jake starting to take off part of the deck. There's still plenty more to the right. If my grandpa stood straight up where Jake is in this picture, he would hit his head on the low hanging wires.

No rails. The deck stayed this way for a very long time.

We had some money at one point and were able to replace some of the decking and redo the way the steps went down. But that was all we had money for. We didn't finish the decking, put rails on, or even paint it. It stayed that way for AT LEAST a year, so some of the decking ended up warping again. 

Eventually, we got the money to finish it. We made it smaller to reduce cost, added a gate to keep the dog off and Livie on, put up rails, and painted it. I even got a table, umbrella, and chairs to make it useable. We ate every meal we could out there that fall. We still use it every chance we get.
I'm pretty sure this table is bigger than our kitchen table. This picture was before I bought outside chairs.


We added a few things to the backyard: a fort with a swingset, and a playhouse, neither or which we have yet to finish.
Jake building the fort out of leftover deck pieces 

The playhouse which has since lost its roof and gained a floor made from the fabric of the old trampoline to keep the grass from growing inside.

Garage/Laundry Room/Living Room/Dining Room lets just go with Great Room

This brings me to our current redo...the's going to take me a long time to stop calling it that. When we moved in, we actually had a garage with a manual garage door. It didn't take long for the door to stop working. I believe it came off track. But because it was manual, we never got used to parking in the garage anyway, so it was no big loss. 

At least a year went by before Jake took the door off and started walling up the hole. We got as far as plywood on the outside. It stayed that way for several years before the city told us we needed to get rid of the ugly. So Jake got things up to code, then added some windows, siding, and an outside outlet, which our house didn't have at all.
Ignore the eaves. That's a job for another day.

At this point, the garage was basically a sunken storage room with a concrete floor. It stayed this way for a long time until recently. 

Last year, Jake had a job that finally got us out of debt and helped us to put money into savings. We now had the money to slowly start working to add the garage as a living part of the house. 

Because we went for song long without the money to work on the room, we had a lot of time to keep revising and improving how we wanted to do it. We had decided that we wanted to raise the entire floor and knock the wall out between the garage and living room to make one great room. But now that we had some money, we decided to just make it into a sunken living room because the lumber would be too expensive to raise the floor. 

We started by getting rid of the door between the garage and kitchen, widening the hole left, installing a wall a/c/ heater unit, getting rid of the guts of the fireplace in the corner if the living room, and building new stairs down to the garage. 

We left the front of the fireplace up to act as a baby gate.

After getting all that done, Jake lost his job. We no longer had the income to mess with the remodel anymore. For a little while, Jake was able to set up a temporary home office in the garage to get some freelance work done. But eventually, he found a new job. Unfortunately, it didn't even pay enough for us to pay bills, so we ended up relying more in the government. The remodel was on hold indefinitely. 

Several months went by. We decided that now, since we couldn't afford to do anything anyway, we might as well wait till we could actually raise the floor and do it right. Then my parents told us they'd gift us the floor! I couldn't believe it! They'd been talking about it for a while, and we really needed the room now that we had five people trying to sit at a four person table crammed into the kitchen, so this was very exciting!

So, for the last several weeks, Jake's been raising the floor in the garage. He's gotten from the front to about the middle then needed to stop to raise the laundry room. Otherwise, the guys would have had to lift the appliances not only OUT the laundry room door, but also UP. So, because he paused on the garage floor, they only had to move the appliances out to the concrete floor in order to mess with the laundry room. 

Washer, dryer, water heater sitting in the garage

I was excited to actually get to help with the laundry room. The other part of the floor I wasn't able to help with. I technically knew what to do, but since I hadn't used the power tools very much, I wasn't very good or very fast at using them. Besides, Jake got the garage floor put together very quickly. 
Laundry room

The laundry room, on the other hand seemed to take forever, mainly because we had to finish the whole room in one weekend. Jake and Philip pulled the appliances out on Friday night, so we were out of hot water for a few days because the water heater's home is the laundry room. 

Jake worked on some electrical most of Saturday, then installed the floor which didn't take long. While I was giving the kids baths at my parents' house, Jake got in the subfloor and backer board for the tile. By the time I got home and put the kids in bed, we were ready to lay the tile. Jake buttered while I laid them. It didn't take us too terribly long. Then Jake had a cold shower, and we went to sleep.
raised and tiled

The next morning, I stayed home from church with Livie because she still had a rash, but Jake took the other two kids with him to church because he had to teach a class. I cleaned thinset off the tile while they were gone. I learned something about tiling: work as cleanly as possible in order to avoid hours of cleanup work later. Blah. 

Later that day, we sheet rocked, taped, mudded, grouted, then put the water heater back in. We decided we'd paint later. Then we took HOT showers and went to bed. Monday, the guys put the washer and dryer back in the room. We figured we could paint another day when we had some time. No big deal. I'm the only one who'll be using the laundry room anyway.

So that's where we are, exhausted from the weekend. Jake's planning on cleaning up the garage a bit so he can find tools and have room to finish the floor later on this week. After that, we'll just buy a few sheets of sheetrock at a time and a bundle of hardwood floor when we can save up the money. It'll happen. We're hoping before Thanksgiving.