Friday, September 21, 2012

All Things Jack

Meet Jackson (Jack, Jack-Jack, etc.). He is a super little guy who has already been through a tremendous journey. Starting out as a little fish baby in Alaska things were not looking so good for Jack's future. Thanks to an emergency relocation to North Carolina, and the team of doctors at Duke University, Jackson's heart was repaired as much as possible. His condition is called Double Outlet Right Ventricle (with characteristics of Tetralogy of Fallot), which is pretty rare and not easy to fix. The result of his complicated surgery at 8 weeks old left him with a damaged electrical conduction system. Thanks to the good folks at Medtronic, Jack has a state-of-the-art "keep me alive box" pacemaker. It will limit the amount of things he can do in the future, but that just means we have to think of other (and more fun) things for him to do! As he grows he will need several additional surgeries to repair valves and replace batteries in his pacemaker, but for now we just focus on the fun stuff.

Jack spends most of his time with our circus of dogs. That fat scruffy guy is Ernie (Nernie, The Nern) who had just received his insulin shot. So naturally, the next logical thing to do is to eat popcorn with Jack. The reclusive grumpy guy in the back is Wrigley (Wriggles, Wriggle Monsters).

This was this morning's post breakfast snack of champions. What's that you say? Oreos and popcorn? Correct. Jackson constantly gets a variety of snacks because he eats very, very little. After his heart surgeries he completely stopped eating and had to undergo an additional surgery to place a G-tube in his stomach. The G-tube was a nightmare, but it kept him alive. After his first year we were able to have it removed and he resumed eating on his own. So anything that I can get him to eat is a major success.

Jack is my miracle baby and because the first year of his life was so hard, our main goal now is to have fun! His favorite  activity includes feeding this guy, Mr.Stumps the Squirrel:

Mr. Stumps is a hungry little dude and at some point has lost his tail. All the more reason to take extra good care of him. Once we discovered that he was sorting out the food we left for him and only wanted sunflower seeds, we decided to make things even easier for Mr. Stumps and leave him only the good stuff from now on. Jack likes to supervise with his chocolate donut.

Another favorite game is peekaboo and he is quite the expert. He can hide behind just about anything, to include his hands or a door.

Several times a day he checks on the birds houses to make sure they have enough to eat.

This little guy has a lot going on, but always has time to smile at strangers! Jack also has a pretty cool family with lots of cousins, aunts, uncles and Grandmas and Grandpa. This is Jack with his best buddy and first cousin Matthew:
This is Jack with his daddy on his last day as an Army Physician at Fort Bragg. Always the lady's man, Jack is more interested in (Captain) Dr.Donoway and the nurses who had donuts waiting for him.

Jack especially loves his Aunts, and he has a bunch of great ones! This is his aunt Jeanine (Nean) whom he loves to call on the phone on a daily basis. Sometimes she gets lucky and he leaves her really exciting voicemails.

After all of this excitement, sometimes Jack gets sleepy. Mommy does too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learning Who "Your Paint People Are": Lowe's vs. Home Depot

I think the most important statement that a home makes begins with the paint on the walls, and it is also the hardest thing to decide. Therefore the question arises: where do you go to get the goods? Until just this week, I have always been a Lowe's Loyalist. Growing up in the country with a mother who had two very green thumbs, a trip to Lowe's was a big deal. First of all, it wasn't like it was just down the road. It took about 30 minutes to get there. If any of my Peterstown, West Virginia, friends are reading this you know exactly what I'm talking about. So if you were lucky enough to score a road trip to Lowe's, when you got there it was a pretty big let down. It smelled like dirt and there was  nothing exciting going on for a teenager. Now that I'm much older and wiser, a trip to Lowe's is a pretty fun time. (Side note: Just a few weeks ago I had my most adult moment ever when I saw a guy with a power washer in his cart, and my first thought was "LUCKY"!)  I still love my Lowe's for all things DIY....until I discovered the paint section at Home Depot.

So I must confess that I am a bit of a paintaholic. Over the past ten years I've spent approximate 72 million dollars on paint. I once had a bathroom that I painted so many times the room shrank by at least an inch in diameter. That might be a stretch, but the room changed colors ten times when I lived there. I tried about five shades of beige, one super dark blue (you know the one- curse you Pottery Barn and your impossible-to-duplicate blue), green, then back to beige. As you can see, I gotta get the color just right- or I can't live with it and it has to change!

This was my biggest dilemma upon moving in to my current home. The colors in this house were such a nightmare when we bought it I still have a little PTSD just thinking about it. The color was called "Bicycle Yellow" by Behr. I do believe that if hell has a color, this is it. I hated it so much I couldn't even take a before photo, but here is what it looks like- and in case there is any doubt, it is the lovely mind blowing shade on the bottom:

That's right folks- absolutely everywhere, and in a lovely high gloss sheen. ICK.

After several gallons of paint, and several failed attempts to get the shade right through trial and error at my beloved Lowe's, I stumbled upon something that I wish I had found a very very long time ago: Hello paint section at Home Depot!

May I present, the Martha Stewart Living Complete Paint Palette for Interiors and Exteriors.

Seriously Martha? Why have you been keeping this from me for so long?  Inside this handy dandy pamphlet is every single shade of paint that Martha has conjured up (along with their extra snobby sounding names) and underneath of the color is the "Martha Stewart Living Color Coordinating System". Each color belongs to one of 6 families and if you pick paints in the same family, voila! Magically they coordinate.

So now I am on my way with my "Tailor's Chalk" white and "Driftwood Gray" for my kitchen cabinets, and so far so good. However, that is an entirely different post all together people. Can't hardly wait, can you?!

                            So what is this all about?

My love/hate relationship with home improvement began when the first home that I owned (now a rental property) was flooded by an exploding supply line to a toilet. On that glorious day, I discovered that I did not even know where the main water supply valve was. Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure, I didn't even know that a house had a main water supply line that could be turned on and off. So in a panic I called my sister and her super handy husband and they rushed to my aid at 5:30 a.m. to teach this gal how to turn off the water fall that was destroying my home. $8,000 of damage later and months of work, the house was transformed into a better version of its original self.

Moral of the story?

On that lovely day, I felt totally helpless and clueless what to do. Neither of which are feelings that are acceptable to me! How could a college graduate, a successful professional and a homeowner by the age of 25 NOT know something so simple? Well, I've discovered that it is not such an uncommon phenomenon. While we go to school to learn the classics or how to do statistical analysis on things that really don't matter at all in the real world, very few of us learn real life lessons that we will need to be a fully functioning adult who does not need to rely on a handy man for every little problem that comes along in a house. Do you know where your water main valve is located? Do you turn off your water when you leave the house for more than 24 hours? Do you know how to flip a switch in your breaker box? Can you fix a leaky faucet or a toilet that doesn't work? How about laying tiles, installing floors or properly installing closet brackets into wall studs? Well I didn't know how to do any of these things, but through lots of trial and error I have learned a great deal. In my new home remodelling project I've already had some failures, but I'm learning from them and trying to master my DIY skills.

So, on my page you can learn the basics of home ownership, tools and tricks on remodeling projects and I'll share a little about my circus of dogs and my super special kiddo along the way. All comments and questions are welcome. Thank you for reading!