Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Garage Remodel

We have an oversized 2-car garage with multiple closets, and yet it still felt like we couldn't fit all our stuff in there. The previous owners had put down some green turf-like material in the hallway from the garage to the house and in the area where you walk in front of the cars. They had also put down a coating or painted the garage floor at some point, but its useful life was over a long, long time ago. For these reasons, Meezy and I decided it was time to give the garage a complete overhaul.

There was a work area in the garage that had a built-in table in it, but it didn't provide any good storage and it wasn't the best use of the space. Meezy tore that out and we found a rolling workbench at Home Depot that fit the space perfectly.

In the staging area from the garage to the house, there used to be some more built-ins, but they were oddly sized and again weren't the best use of the space. We had previously ripped those out and bought a metal shelving unit instead and also kept our second fridge there. When we remodeled the interior of our house, we were able to relocate the fridge to our laundry room, so there was an opportunity to re-purpose the space in the garage. I decided I would rather have a mudroom storage unit there, so I went on the hunt and finally found one I liked at Home Depot online. It is a beautiful piece and it fits the space very nicely.

The biggest change we wanted to make concerned the floors. Once we ripped out the green turf, the floor looked even worse underneath. It had remnants of glue and was dirty and discolored. There were low spots throughout the rest of the garage and it just looked awful overall. We found a company that would clear out all the old glue and paint/coating, and then start fresh with an epoxy coating. In order to accomplish that, we had to remove every last thing from the garage that came in contact with the floor. It felt overwhelming at first, but it was really nice to force ourselves to evaluate all the junk in there. We ended up getting rid of a lot of stuff, organizing the closets better so we could put more in them, and installing an overhead storage rack. Here are pics showing what the floor looked like before:

The darker portion is where the turf used to be

There used to be built-ins in the corner

And here is the finished product:

Man, what a difference! I love that replacing the flooring forced us to make other improvements. We now have most of the items in our garage inside closets, inside drawers, or hanging from the wall or ceiling. It doesn't feel cramped and it is actually pleasant to be in!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Goodbye, My Sweet Casey Girl

In June of 2005, Meezy invited me to a park to watch him play frisbee football, or so I thought. When I showed up, the park was empty except for Meezy, an adorable Keeshond puppy, and an engagement ring. I had always wanted a Keeshond, so Jer drove hundreds of miles to find one for me, as a gesture of love while asking for my hand in marriage. It was a wonderful day in my life and Casey has always reminded me of Jer's love for me. 

We have been fortunate enough to have her alongside us for the past 13 years. I have so many happy and funny memories of her, like the time I brought her into the pool and even though I was holding her top half out of the water, she instinctively doggy paddled in the air. Or, how our other dog Riley was relentless in stealing her food, so he would go into another room and start barking, just to lure her in there, and then run back and eat out of her bowl while she was distracted. She fell for it every.single.time. 

Months ago, Casey started losing her hair and drinking water incessantly. We brought her in for an exam and had her blood tested, and the vet told us she probably had Cushing's Disease, along with a tumor growing on her backside. We tried a round of antibiotics to see if the tumor would shrink, but it didn't respond. Because of her advanced age and the size and location of the tumor, the vet didn't recommend further treatment like chemotherapy or surgery. Casey seemed to be getting by day to day and we didn't feel it was appropriate to talk about end of life measures yet. She had become more reclusive, often spending 80-90% of her day under our bed, but she didn't seem to be in pain, still liked to prance happily into the kitchen morning and afternoon for food, and would occasionally join us in the living room or kitchen when we were together as a family. 

As the weeks went on, her tumor grew, her activity level decreased, and it became evident that using the bathroom was more difficult for her. We had her boarded for a couple days while we went out of town, and when we picked her up, the vet said, "She didn't do well this weekend." The staff said she barely moved in her dog run, didn't eat, couldn't hold it until the regular bathroom breaks, and often laid in her urine/feces after going. It broke my heart to hear that and made me realize we were getting closer to the end. Over the past couple of weeks, Casey lost all motivation. She would come out from under our bed and just use the bathroom in whatever part of the house she could muster the energy to walk to.  When we'd try to force her to go outside, she would lay there like dead weight, and I'd have to spend a few minutes crawling behind the bed to pick her up and get her upright. Occasionally, her back legs would give out and she'd collapse on the floor. She had a wound caused by her tumor breaking through the skin, and it couldn't ever completely heal. This was it. As much as I hated to say it, it was time.

Casey had no quality of life left and the only thing I felt like I could give her at this point was a dignified death surrounded by people who loved her. Now, knowing it's time is one thing, but calling the vet to say you want to euthanize your dog is another. I choked back tears and set the appointment. Two days. We had two days left with her. What do you do when you know your friend of 13 years is going to die in two days? I tried to get as many pics as I could of her, especially with the boys. I fed her her favorite people food. I laid next to her on the ground and pet her face. 


On July 19th, at just after 11am, Casey took her last breath. Meezy and I were in the room with her when she died. It was quick. After the vet left the room to give us a few more minutes with her, I sobbed and pet her soft fur and told her I was so sorry. I immediately doubted myself and felt incredibly guilty. Did she really need to die today? Did we make a mistake? It doesn't matter that I could see her condition, or that the vet and other people told me it was her time, I couldn't stop thinking about how I made the conscious decision to end her life and I felt like a horrible person. The hardest part of this whole ordeal was the moment we walked out of the room, knowing we would never see her again. Knowing we would never feel the soft touch of her fur again. I get sick to my stomach just writing about it.

It's been a few days now, and I have had breakdowns. It's hard to talk about her and it's hard to see other people with their dogs. Casey lived with me for 13 years. She was a part of my daily routine, a part of my household, a constant in my life. It's going to be weird not having her in the house anymore. 

I miss her and I love her and I'm so grateful she was in my life for as long as she was. She was Casey, Pretty Case, Pretties, Pitties, Pitty Case to us. She was the fluffy black dog who people asked about, because they didn't recognize her breed. She was the dog I always wanted. 

Thank you, Pitties, for what you meant to me for the past 13 years and what you'll still mean to me for many more. Rest in peace. 5/3/05 - 7/19/18

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Laundy Room, Play Room, and Master Bedroom Remodel

We recently replaced most of the flooring in our downstairs and did some other light construction in various rooms. It had been on our to-do list for a couple years and we finally took the plunge! I'm so pleased with the results and excited to share them here. I'll break it up over a couple posts since there are a lot of before and after pics.

Laundry Room:
Our laundry room previously had some awful white tile with thick grout lines. A few tiles were cracked, the grout was missing in a couple places, and the remaining grout had darkened over the years from dirt. There was also a built-in desk space with a few cabinets, but it didn't make a lot of sense because it was located right outside a bathroom! Not an ideal place to get work done. Here's what it looked like before:

Not a good use of this space since the cabinets and drawers were so small and you wouldn't actually use it as an office area. 

Built-ins are gone!

Built-ins are gone!

Already loving the extra space after removing the built-ins, but that tile still had to go!

What inevitably happens when you start a remodel? You find other issues! We discovered this lovely leak when we moved the washer and dryer out.

Whew! Once we got that cleared up, we could get back to replacing the floors.

Ta da! Bye, bye ugly white tile. Hello, gorgeous travertine.

No more useless desk space. Now we have room for our full-size second fridge!

Master Bedroom:
Our master bedroom had carpet in it when we bought this house 5 years ago, but it was already showing a lot of wear and tear at that point, and adding a couple years of two dogs hanging out in there made it even more undesirable. We ripped it out in advance of some foundation work and just lived with concrete floors while we awaited our remodel. No before pictures here, but I did take pics while the installation was in progress. I'm so glad we went with real handscraped hardwood and picked a dark stain. It gives such a beautiful, dramatic look.

Play Room:
The kids' play room had the same awful white tile as the laundry room and had a random pole in the middle of the room. (We assume it used to be an outside patio and that was one of the posts holding up the awning). It wasn't load-bearing, so we had the contractor remove it while they installed the new flooring. We went with the same neutral travertine we used in the laundry room, which also looks very similar to the travertine we previously had installed in the kids' bathroom. There were so many different types of flooring in this house when we bought it, so it's nice to create some consistency!

Not easy to place furniture when this guy breaks up the flow!

I hated this tile so much!!


The new tile in progress. 

Such a different looking room! We're very happy with the tile and the extra space created by removing the pole. We also feel confident this room can become an upscale sun room or reading room or office down the road, once we don't need it for toys anymore.

These changes were awesome in themselves, but the most dramatic changes took place in the kitchen/dining/living areas. I look forward to sharing those soon! 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Ask For a Discount

This is your friendly reminder not to pay the full cost of medical bills without negotiating first. I got this explanation of benefits recently for Dutch's visit to the ER when he broke his arm. For the emergency services, the amount billed was INCREASED by a "negative plan discount" to the tune of nearly $600. Whaaaaa? After talking to insurance and the medical provider, the conclusion is that the actual cost of those services is less than the contractual amount agreed upon by provider and insurance for those services, so they are requiring me to pay the higher amount, even though that's not what it actually cost for the services. I implored both parties to use common sense, to no avail. These types of organizations stick to their scripts and can't sway from mandatory processes, even when they make no sense. So, my backup plan was to tell them I needed a "pay now" discount or they wouldn't be seeing any funds. The manager said, "I can offer you 20% off, as that's our standard discount." Sold. Most providers have the option to offer a discount, so definitely ask for it when you receive a large medical bill. I could've saved myself 10 minutes of arguing if I just asked for the discount right off the bat, but whatever, they deserve to hear me bitch.

Same is true for collection agencies. I recently helped a friend clear up an old utilities account and I had her tell them she wouldn't be able to pay off the amount for a long time as-is, but if they offered her a discount, she could pay it off right then. They were more than happy to. You've got nothing to lose by trying!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Dutch Turns Six

My eldest turned 6 last month, so the festivities began with a personalized message on the video board outside his elementary school. He felt so special and it was really cute!

The following weekend we hosted a party for him and his friends at Adventure Landing. Dutch loves that place, and it's not unusual for us to go there a couple times a month. We typically stick to only the arcade games, though, so it was still a treat for him. It turned out to be perfect weather on the day of his party, so the kids were able to enjoy mini golf and go-karts outside, in addition to laser tag and arcade games inside. 

When I host birthday parties for my kids at our own house, I usually display their funny quotes from the past year. Since the party was at Adventure Landing this time, I skipped the quote board and figured I'd just share them here for your amusement!

- "Mom, I think Dad needs your help. Jude is out of control."
- "The world needs to be a better place."
- "Jude, let's get crazy."
- "Gotta stay hydrated."
- "When you're crying, that's humidity."
- "Don't you know I'm a math genius?"
- When we asked him who the president was, he guessed, "Tronald Dump?"
- "We had a full on meltdown."
- "Tell me if you need more favors, mom. I can help you with all of them. I don't care if I miss my show."
- "Dad! Unacceptable!"
- "Can I just take my shower tomorrow? I've had a long day today."
- "Jude, just leave me alone for one goodness sake minute."
- "I just touched my eyeball. That was legit not good."
- "Mom, Plano isn't even a planet anymore."

Family Staycation Weekend

Meezy's sisters live in Amarillo, so we unfortunately don't get to see them, or their spouses and kids, very much. His brother and wife live in Fort Worth, and even though that's much closer to us, it's still hard to get together often. With it being a holiday weekend last month, we were excited to hear everyone would be in town. Normally we can house at least one family with us, but with our house currently undergoing renovations, it wasn't an option! As an alternative, we decided to rent a large vacation house for the weekend, so all the siblings and kids could stay in the same place. It was awesome! The house was on Eagle Mountain Lake, northwest of Fort Worth. It was really helpful to have a home base so that coordinating activities would be easier, not to mention it gave everyone the opportunity to spend even more time together each night after we were done with whatever we had planned for earlier in the day.

The house in itself provided a lot of entertainment for everyone. They had ping pong, arcade games, board games, and we brought an Xbox for the kids to play. One day we went to Main Event to bowl, eat, and play games, and the next day a few of us went to the Perot Museum while the rest of the group went to a car show. At night, we made smores and played games. It was such a great weekend! I'm thankful for awesome in-laws and fun cousins for my boys to play with.