Weekend Project 2: Doorbell Upgrade

This was one of the easiest weekend projects I’ve done.  I heard about ring.com doorbell system from a coworker when we were at lunch one day and she answered the doorbell from her phone when a UPS driver showed up at her home.  I was a little intimated (as I am with all things to deal with electric), however, I was able to complete the install from start to finish in an hour one Sunday before church.

First step is to download the app to your phone and connect to your WiFi.  Once you have the software functioning it’s on to the hardware.  I started by turning the electric off at the breaker to the front patio.  I then unscrewed the original contractor grade doorbell, pulled out the wires and bent them so they wouldn’t fall into the hole.  Next I grabbed my trusty drill and put a mason bit on and drilled the holes for my new base.

ring base

Please note, most homes don’t install the doorbell this close to the corner.  I put the ring.com doorbell in the same spot my original doorbell was so that it would cover the hole.  If you do this project, I very much doubt that your will be this close to the wall so you will have a better view. After you have the base on, the camera/doorbell slide easily on and then have security screws to tighten it to the base.  The finished product:

ring installed

Once installed we tested it out and this is an example of what you see on your cell phone:

ring from cell

From your phone you can answer your doorbell from anywhere and talk to the person on the other end.  Since I connected the device to my old doorbell wiring it also rings my in-home bell still as well.

For the first 30 days you get Cloud Video Recording for free after that it’s $3/month or $30/year.  This allows you to view past events and share clips with friends, neighbors and law enforcement if need be.

I love this upgrade to my home and use it weekly.  I hope you enjoy your ring.com doorbell  as much as I do!

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DIY: Glass in Disposal!

Well, I’m not one to call a repairman at the drop of a hat.  A few times I’ve thought a repair may be outside of my knowledge base.  However, then they come to my house and it takes them 30 minutes or less to fix and I kick myself at the money I just threw out the window. I now thoroughly research items and at least attempt to fix the problem. All I can say is, I love YouTube and Google.

I broke a glass about a week ago and some shards went into the garbage disposal.  I (very carefully) pulled out what I could gently feel.  However, when I turned on the disposal it churned a few times and then gave me a dreaded hum.  I knew I had either jammed it or burned out the motor.  I quickly turned it off, plugged the hole (because I’m the type to absentmindedly use it while cooking), and made a mental note to search for a solution.

A week later, I felt armed for the task at hand which really seemed unbelievable easy.  I vacuumed into the hole to pick up any possible glass specks (a Shop Vac was the suggested tool, but I just used my regular vacuum since the disposal was dry and had been unused for a week).  Then I got out my handy Allen Wrench/Hex Key tool (seen below).

allen wrench

I unplugged my disposal and went underneath to the bottom of the disposal.  Find the correct size key and turn it around multiple times in the below circled keyhole.

disposal bottomOnce I heard the glass breaking up, I vacuumed out the top sink hole again, then repeated this process a few more times until I didn’t hear the glass breaking up and the key turned smoothly.  Afterwards I plugged back in my disposal, turned it on and ran the water, and voila, no more jammed disposal.  And I just saved myself a $75 service fee. Life is good!

Weekend Project #1: Kitchen Cabinets

A little paint can change everything!

For those of you who don’t know, I bought a house and I spend any free time/insomnia ridden nights updating it. This project actually went over into three weekends because I had to wait for the paint to dry before adding the second coat and then adding the handles. Total cost for this particular project was roughly $240 (including stain brushes).

First of all, I price shop for everything.  I ended up getting the best price on paint and on the handles from Amazon.com.  Home Depot actually sold the same handles for about twice as much in store and about $6/10-pack more online.  I used Minwax Stain ($20) for the color and these satin nickel handles ($25/10-pack) for the hardware.

So here was my kitchen when I bought the house. Cute, but everything was basic contractor package:

Kitchen before

I also updated the lights and they were the same price at Amazon as in store at HD so I went ahead and bought them at Amazon since I have free two-day shipping.  Please note, I’ve noticed the prices fluctuate so be sure to check at both places.  The flushmount ceiling light was about $90  and the hanging pendent light over the sink was about $60.  However, if I would have waited on a Home Depot coupon and completed the project for less.  Patience is not my strong suit. :\

Here’s my kitchen as of yesterday:

Kitchen after

I still have a lot of plans for this kitchen: new stainless steel appliances, wall paint, sink, and granite so this won’t be the last you see of it.  However, the cabinets match the floors in the rest of the house now and the symmetry makes me very happy.  I really love how it’s coming along!

Have you done any cabinet upgrades?  If so, share your pics please!  I love to see before and after photos.

 

Politics? Do I Dare?

Alright, first of all, I’m writing this with a little bit of an apology.  Last night I got a little bit heated.  Mr. Trump did us the pleasure of visiting us here on the Northside of Houston. Quite a few of us questioned why our suburb?  Then we found out a billionaire attorney was hosting a fundraiser for him.  So my beloved community got torn a part a little bit.  So let me set some things straight.  All politics are about issues and what the proposed person wants to accomplish in their elected position.  Our President is about our issues and also choosing someone to represent us Internationally and be the Commander In Chief of our amazing and envious military.  So now that you have that in my mind I will continue.

My huge problem with this election is the cultural divide.  If I hear one more person comment, shame, or otherwise try to debate with someone not on the issue or problem with the Trump/Hillary that they stated, but instead with “go home”, “speak English”, “you must be Muslim”, or some other slur, I will lose my cool. Yes, those are all slurs.  Maybe you don’t realize they are slurs as you senselessly type them in, but please take a moment to pause and reflect and see if you would say that to the other person face-to-face, and if you would you can now label yourself a racist.

We all stereotype.  I’ve done it.  However, when I realize I’ve done it I make an acknowledged effort to make amends.  I’ve thought people spoke Spanish by their looks and name,  when in reality they’d never spoken a word their entire life and were 2nd or 3rd generation Americans.  I’ve assumed people were a certain faith by where they were from, but I have Japanese friends that are Mormon, Trinidadian friends that are Muslim, and Mexican friends that are Bahai.  This is the absolutely amazing thing about our country. The diversity.  We are an amazing mixing pot and we all have a right to choose our religion. Think about that.  Think about all the people who came before us that fought for us to be able to have equal rights, marry whom we want, vote for whom we want, voice our opinions, and believe in whatever God or belief system we want!! It’s amazing right?

Secondly, for my friends that don’t “look white”.  You can stop stereotyping too.  I’m tired of all the “look at all those white people” remarks as well.  I look white, I check two boxes and one of them state “Caucasian”, but that doesn’t give you the right to comment on my skin color either.  You aren’t helping the situation.  Just in my immediate family, there are those of us that look brown, look black, look white, look red.  Yes, in my Parents/Children/Aunts/Uncles/first cousins.  Several of those speak multiple languages fluently.  By referring to white people by their skin color you are doing exactly what you hate, and you’re building a wall. Congratulations.  You have started doing exactly what we’ve been trying to undo for years. You cannot expect people to look past your skin color when you’re stereotyping them by theirs.  Please truly think about that.

Let me put this into perspective for you for all those that think that white people cannot suffer from racism.  No matter what non-white box you check, how would you feel if we had a “White Entertainment Network”, “Pearl/White Magazine”, “White Caucus”, “White Talk Radio”, “White Businesswoman Network”, etc.   Trust me, it doesn’t feel nice when there’s a double standard does it? Doesn’t seem right reading those things correct?  However, you wonder why “white people” feel pushed into a corner on race. You are allowing people and organizations to divide us by our skin color, cultural, and religious background.  Why would you want this?  Why are we allowing this?

I understand being close to your cultural roots and active in your religious beliefs.  I’m active in my Tribe and vote on what happens on my reservation and I go to church every Sunday of my choosing.  However, I don’t need to prescribe and identify with any skin-based groups.  My ancestors don’t define the person I am today.  I’m Native American, part Polish, a little French, and 100% American.  I don’t hate anyone because my Nation was “stolen” from me.  I’m happy.  I wouldn’t be here if things didn’t happen the way they were.  My Polish family wouldn’t have immigrated here. I wouldn’t be here and I’m extremely happy about having an existence. So I’m thankful to everyone that came before me and I’m working my ass off to make a better life for my children because that was their goal and I believe it’s the goal of the majority.  We’re trying to give our kids the best life we can.

So let’s talk about the bigger issue here. Can we get rid of the Political Action Committees?  Can we get rid of these people who want to label people?  Seriously, every time you see something like he can’t give me a fair answer/judgement because his parents are “Mexican” trying switching that out for something you are, maybe “White” or “Black” or “Canadian”. Sounds absurd right?  How about when they refer to banning all Muslims?  Try inserting “Christian” or “Jewish” and how does that sound now? Sounds kind of like someone else that came in history and thought the problems of the majority were because of a certain niche, doesn’t it?

That’s what you’re seeing across the news now.  Truly put some thoughts into the things being said.  There are radical Christians that have bombed and shot up abortion clinics and more, there are radical Baptists that I recently heard say shoot all the Homosexuals, there are radicals everywhere.  That doesn’t define the religion they belong too.  I don’t refer to that preacher as the radical Baptist.  I refer to him as the moron that lost his way. I don’t even remember his name because he doesn’t deserve to be remembered.  He’s just somebody that distorted a good religion to contain his confusion/hate/loneliness.

I know the News isn’t really news anymore.  They find something that gets high ratings and that’s the only thing they report on until the next high rating find.  Entertainment industries have bought up all the networks and turned something that was meant to inform us about what was going on around us to something that they need to get ratings so more big companies will advertise with them and they’re more profitable.  That’s right, they’re not trying to inform you now; they’re trying to turn a profit.  Think about that next time you watch the news.  Think about how the same story can be run on different stations with completely opposing points because they’re basing the story on the demographic that watches their station.  I implore you to test my theory and spend a couple of weeks going back and forth between two stations to see how editorialized things have become.

News has become reality television and I believe that is how it was possible for Trump to even make it this far in this election.  He’s a reality TV star.  The way things are going maybe the Kardashian’s will run next.  Seriously, think about that.  They have successful businesses, they’ve created an empire from a name, they have their own money to use,  they don’t anger easily, and they don’t have bankruptcies. They could give Trump a run for his money.  You think I’m kidding, but they have the same background as Trump so why not?

Please realize, I’m not pro-Hillary.  I am disgusted by our choices this year and yes I do vote every year.  I think Political Action Committees, Super Delegates, and the news stations have all been bought.  How can a super delegate pledge allegiance to a candidate before hearing what the people want?  We allowed it to get this bad.  We gave them this power by sitting idly by and allowing them to do these things.  They’re magicians.  They have us split and divided by our skin, our religion, and heritage so instead of uniting and paying attention to the magic show  we are here fighting with each other and missing the sleight of hand.  Sad isn’t it?  So what are you going to do about it?

We must stop sitting behind our computers and commenting on our fellow Americans. Stop fighting amongst ourselves! That’s what they WANT!   We MUST ask the candidates about the positions that they will take, the issues at hand, and we must get rid of PACs that buy our elected officials votes on OUR major issues that we must live with, no that our CHILDREN must live with.  I’m begging you.  Stop fighting with your neighbors and start demanding answers and actions from those we will put in office or whom we’ve already put there.  I don’t know all the answers, but I’ll be damned if I’ll sit by and watch this great country lose itself because they divide us. E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One.

It’s Just Not Possible!

It’s funny how many times I’ve heard, “It’s just not possible”.  When people are trying to cut costs, when they have too much to do, when they have no time, no energy, or maybe when they’re just in a bad situation.  They say, “it’s just not possible to fix”.  It’s an easy thing to say.  When it was more than just me some people said to stick it out with where I was….to do it alone was just unfeasible. And after, many people have even said to me that it is impossible for a single mom to be the sole provider for three little people. Some people have said it as a compliment, however, others have this look in their eye like I must sell drugs on the side  (I blame Weeds…love that series) or have an inheritance of some kind if I wanted to survive.  I assure you I do not. I just work hard. All. The. Time.

lol. Okay, not all the time. I’m totally lying.  I take Saturdays to do fun stuff with my kids and even some weeknights! We go to the park, we do Twister, they love to Slip N Slide, we play Jenga, whatever makes these kids smile.  This weekend we’re having our first sleepover. Yeah, that’s right.  I’m inviting more kids over to my house. And I will be giving them popcorn. OMG. And if I feel really brazen, I’ll give those young ladies Play-doh and finger paints to get all over as well. That’s just my personality….GO BIG OR GO HOME!!

first jenga
Cici contemplating

Seriously, though, at one point in my life 8pm would be when I’d be getting ready to go out, socialize, and see the world.  Tonight, I’m utterly exhausted and multitasking: folding laundry, making dinner, watching the news, helping the girls bathe, playing Swagbucks videos on my laptop while my phone plays Perk TV, and most likely I will literally pass out while doing these things. No, really. It’s possible. It happens more than I’ll ever admit.

multitasking

These are the days of my life.  And you know what? I’m exceptionally happy about it. Crazy, right? Let me be clear, I am  extremely fortunate and I’m here to tell you anything is possible. I truly adore my girls. I think they are the best thing that has ever happened to me (actually I’m biased…I think they’re the best thing that’s happened to the world).

My girls make every early morning, every late night, every bill, every struggle easier.  It doesn’t matter what dark days are ahead or what days we’ve sustained…we’re family.  And these struggles have made us a stronger and more powerful. Charles Darwin was a dropout, Jim Carey was homeless, Van Gogh sold few paintings while he was alive, JK Rowling was a penniless mom before Harry Potter, Marilyn Monroe was told she wasn’t pretty enough to model nor talented enough to be an actress, and the list goes on and on. You have to push through the rough moments in time.  Don’t quit. Don’t say “It’s too hard” or “It’s not possible”. It’s sooooooo possible.  Everything we go through, every bad day, every obstacle is worth it.

I survived, I persevered, and I am motivated to do better every day not only for these little people that I love so much, but for me. To prove to the world that I am extraordinary. The things I’ve survived don’t define who I am, but how I deal with them does.  That’s what I want my daughters to see and learn.

true strength

I wasn’t always so severe in cost cutting and family, but if I had been more diligent with my budget and my priorities before I wouldn’t have had to be so extreme now.  I got lazy. I got comfortable. I wasn’t challenged.  So to those of you going through hard times or difficult situations, please know that it’s not impossible. Just realize the opportunity for a better life is there, you just have to be willing to make some changes, step it up, believe in yourself, keep pressing forward, and don’t forget to have a little fun. Life is short and time flies.

mustache you
Mami mustache Milla a question

 

 

 

 

Naturally Disasterous

I’ve had a rare “opportunity” this week. We survived the great flood of 2016.

To begin, I do not live in a flood zone.  Wednesday I left work as normal and the flash flood hit.   The street my little people were on had already begun flooding so I parked down the  road and waded my way through the knee-deep water and pouring rain to them.  I thought the worst was over when we got back to the car and then to my surprise we pull into our subdivision and it was flooding as well!!  I backed up and went through a back road and safely made it into our garage.  We’ve had a couple of flash floods, but it never made it into our neighborhood.  I guess since we’ve been getting so much rain, there was no where for it to go and so it just began rising…and rising…and rising.

By Saturday, the sun came out and it seemed like the water must go down!  To our frustration it went up.  By now it was up to our garages and front doors, and for a couple of neighbors it was in their homes.  The initial flooding hit so fast that we weren’t able to leave to get sandbags or supplies.  We definitely did not expect it to continuously rise.

flooded Meadow Hill.png

So you ask, what was the “opportunity”?  There are so many I don’t know where to begin.

I met neighbors and saw our neighborhood rally together.  They helped me lift my fridge and deep freeze to put pavers and wood underneath, they helped me move furniture to my second floor, we all used sand from the girls sandbox to make quick sandbags for our garages, we watched each others kids so others could meet family and friends for supplies, we shared food and groceries and stories, we let our kids play together, and so much more.  I loved WHERE we lived before the flood, but now I love my community of neighbors. I don’t have enough words for all the nice things I’d like say and the generosity, civility, and concern  we were shown. Especially after all the negative things you  hear people say and do now, it’s nice to know the good people are out there. I only wish I would have made more of an effort before the flood to get to know their stories. This was a lesson to me to label less and communicate more.

sandbags
sandbox + walmart sacks = diy sandbags

My “noisy motorcycle” neighbor (you know you have nicknames for your neighbors too) ended up being the one who saved us.  Her boyfriend knew some people and was able to get an industrial pump brought in to drain the water.  We all pitched in for gas for the machine, but without her we wouldn’t have had it and the county was unconcerned with helping us.  She got it Saturday and the water immediately started to recede. Then we had another flash flood and the water just went up to where it was previously.  I have no doubt in my mind that it would have been in my home, A/C, etc if it wasn’t for her.  I love my “noisy motorcycle” neighbor now.  We went to thank her and it turns out she’s actually very sweet.  She just has a noisy hobby that as an exhausted mom I found frustrating some late nights.  However, never again! 🙂

My “angry, crabby old guy” neighbor helped dig a trench to release some of the water too.  Then afterwards he walked about a mile and a half to get more supplies and brought the girls back chocolates as well. “Angry, crabby old guy” neighbor is actually a lonely empty nester.  It ends up it was just him and his daughter for a long time, but then she went away to college about a year and a half ago out-of-state. So now it’s just him and his garden. :\ I’ll probably be the “angry, crabby old girl” when my kids go off to college too.  We’ll be taking him cookies and such more often.

Also, I realized how lucky I am to work where I do.  I love my job truly, but occasionally I wonder if I couldn’t be doing more with my life and my degree.  However, throughout this ordeal my coworkers and boss were constantly checking on us and helping me weigh pros and cons (my first flood so it was nice to have some feedback).  They sent over pizzas, drinks and formula for me Saturday when the water was at my front door.  People I only see from 8-5 waded through 4 blocks of water to get to my house just to drop off supplies.  That says a lot about the people I work with and company I work for. I’m forever grateful just for the sheer thoughtfulness.

Lastly, my home is ridiculously clean.  After moving all our furniture upstairs we were at a wait-and-see point. This gave me time to clean under and around everything. lol. Forget spring cleaning — I’ve got a full-on summer shine!  I had to go through all the boxes in the garage to get them out of there when the water was leaking in (thankfully diapers came in handy for keeping the water at bay).  I moved into this house when I was 3 months pregnant and had horrible morning sickness.  To say it was an unorganized and unmotivated move would be an understatement.  I finally feel like we are “moved in”.  It just took a flood to do it!

diapers.png
Diapers — more than one use

I could be a negative Nancy and focus on the bad stuff.  My backyard still has standing, stinky water, the mosquitos are going to be INSANE now, I missed a couple days of work, and Milla missed her last day of PreK.  However, my family is safe, my home is intact, I made some amazing new friends, and we know there is a drainage problem that we can fix before any potential hurricanes. All-in-all, it was a blessing in disguise and Milla didn’t seem too upset about missing school with all her friends and a creek in the front yard. Kids have a way of creating fun where adults can only see predicaments. We could probably all learn a little something from that. 🙂

kids play.png

 

Shame On You!

Mom shaming: When you shame a mom on the Internet, at the school, at playdates, or anywhere for that matter. Anyone can be afflicted with this disease of the heart. It has been seen in mom’s and non-mom’s alike.

This “disease” takes on many different sizes, shapes and forms. I hear more and more people with a lack of understanding or knowledge of other parents’ circumstances, choices or decisions regarding their kid(s) and it seems to be contagious. Instead of being supportive they assume they know and comment negatively. Most of the carriers of mom shaming don’t have the ability to empathize with challenges of other parents, but have no problem telling them how they’re wrong and how they should be doing it or should have done it better. Remember, hindsight is 20/20.

I read this article today and, yeah, the mom was obviously having a rough day.  It was Mother’s Day, her kids were too young to do anything for her, she was single, and she was reading all these wonderful things wonderful husbands were doing for their wonderful mommy wives and she was upset/frustrated or whatever.  Is what it is, but what really got me were the comments.  It wasn’t hang in there it’ll get better, or “Happy Mothers Day” I’m sure your kids appreciate you more than you know, etc.  No, a lot of them were: You need therapy.  Your kids should be taken from you.  What kind of mother are you?  You don’t love your kids and it’s obvious. Your kids are going to grow up with problems because they can tell you don’t like them. Etc.  It just went on and on. I truly couldn’t believe it.

I think I’m a top-notch mom (big grin on my face and happy dancing…okay, maybe not happy dancing but feeling pretty sure of myself as I say this…okay, maybe not sure of myself, but a little sure….), but I have had some bad days.  Here are some prime Mom Shaming opportunities.

  1. I’ve had to rush my daughter to the ER before.  —-  Milla drank the children’s Advil I left on the table while getting her some water. I was SURE  this was going to put her into a coma and they may need to pump her stomach. I measured it quickly and arrived at ER telling them she had 3-4 tablespoons and they laughed and said she’d sleep good after checking her out. :\   Still feel guilty about it though.
  2. I lost my daughter in a McDonald’s playhouse and called the police.  — I was sure some pedophile had stolen my beautiful, little princess and I had every episode of Law and Order SVU running through my mind.  Cici was hiding under the slide the whole time. I was up the playhouse, all around it, questioning parents and generally in a paranoid frenzy.  Cici thought it was hilarious.  We found her when she started uncontrollably giggling. Yep…I never went back to that McDonald’s.  I mean, how could they leave that space under the slide that she could fit in? lol. j/k.  My fault.  No more hide and seek with the kids.  They’re getting too good at it.
  3. My daughter has pooped in an aisle at Party City. — Yes, that’s right. Pooped. Full on blowout.  Cici was looking at Little Mermaid party gifts next to me when she tooted and I was like, “geez sister, peeyoo”.  However, when I looked at her she had deer and headlight eyes and then I saw it running out her pant leg. O.M.G. . Me scooping her up, “Me: Cici where is your PullUp? Cici: On Ellie (her baby doll) at home.”  Can you say MORTIFIED? Disgusted? Gagging?

I can only imagine what the other parents at the ER, McDonald’s, and Party City were thinking. AND, these are just three examples that immediately come to mind. This doesn’t include Milla’s corn starch snow angels in the kitchen, Cici’s injured mouse friend (EEK), or a multitude of others.  Kids are kids, parents are human.  Some of these things are ridiculously funny to look back on, some of them were learning opportunities for them (reviewing stranger danger and why not to hide from mommy) or for me (the lid on everything should always be on tight and up high even if they’re sick for their safety-Advil or my sanity-Cornstarch). Granted, there are exceptions to every rule and you can argue the gray areas.  But most of the stuff I hear isn’t gray area it’s just straight mean — so let’s review some basic human principles:

  1. No one is perfect. Not you, not her, not him, not the President, not anyone.
  2. Venting is a release of built up emotions. I might feel overwhelmed and say “I need a vacation”, but I personally can’t be away from my kids for much time before I’m calling/texting/ready to get back to them.
  3. Just because someone is having a bad day, doesn’t mean they’re a bad parent.
  4. Your way of parenting is not better than their way of parenting.  It’s just different.
  5. Being a parent has ups and downs.  Things will get better, then they might get worse, then better, rinse, repeat. So lend an ear, or a hand, and be supportive of others.

I realize it’s a day and age of reality TV: Kardashians, Dance Moms, Teen Moms, Real Housewives, etc.  It’s a digital age where we are fed the lives of others and expected to have an opinion on it.  However, try to realize being a parent isn’t a reality show.  Being a parent is caring for and loving a little person so much you would do anything for them. REAL parents are constantly trying to improve, do the best, and be the best for their little people.  This life is better than reality TV because it’s REAL–unedited, unreviewed, moment by moment living.  Embrace it, enjoy it, and learn from it because none of us are perfect and so many of us are truly, desperately trying our best.