Who Am I? What Have I Done?

What do you do when you have been laid up for awhile, can’t really carry a cup of coffee for the life of you, and every step is agony, but then you start to feel SO MUCH BETTER? Well, you would load your minivan up with a half ton of rock and haul it piece by piece to your backyard to create a majestic wonderment, of  course!

Two weeks ago, I got a crazy idea in my head and it wouldn’t go away. Our behemoth, 4-burner gas grill was just a giant stainless steel shell, whose innards had basically disintegrated. We used eBay and Amazon to replace the parts, only to find that we were spending more than if we just bought a new one outright.  Not to mention, we had my husband’s charcoal grill from his bachelor days waiting in the wings, but we got that sucker going and our chicken is still stuck to the grates (from about 9 days ago), womp womp.

We returned the gas grill parts, shoved the behemoth gas and pathetic bachelor grills to the corner, and I headed to Lowe’s with these two yahoos to purchase a brand new grill:

THE GRILL 933 start

Reading Grill Cookbooks while I “grill” (HAHAHAHA) the salesmen and “pepper” them with questions.

We settled on a Weber grill. More bang for the buck. Plus, I talked them into giving me 8% off, in addition to my husband’s 10% Veteran’s discount. I had big plans for this grill of ours, so I wanted something that was going to last.

Next, I watched YouTube videos and Googled incessantly.

I took a “Before” shot. I wasn’t totally convinced there would be an “After” shot by the time I would likely hose up my own plan, but you must always have hope.

THE GRILL 935 before

Before. So boring.

Speaking of “Plan”, I made an actual drawing of my “Plans”. My first ever, official Plans that I created out of my own head…and executed!

SERIOUS PLANS!!

SERIOUS PLANS!! These might be the most serious plans you’ve ever seen. View them wisely. Seriously.

Now, comes the moment of truth. I can’t do this by myself. I couldn’t count on my husband (he was too busy making kick-ass dinners). I only had these two to REALLY lead the way:

THE GRILL 952 erin lowes THE GRILL 942 dylan1

I said, “Guys, will you please stop being so silly and please just act like your normal selves?” And, finally (thankfully) they did:

THE GRILL 953erinnn

THE GRILL 944 dylan2Alright, so my boy just provides love and support, but the Honey Badger has REALLY got to get in there and HELP – in capital letters. Each stone was 12 lbs.; I had 100 of them. My Dad suggested I rent a truck, or do multiple trips. I said, “No! One trip!”  and just loaded them all up at once. I drove home with the hazards blinking and the windows down, because I blew the fuse to the AC in the van from the weight of the stones. Just to be clear (some have asked), I am pretty sure that I reclined my seat and had the bass bumpin’, although I was sweating and I don’t recall what song HB and I were swaggerin’ out to, but, we had PLANS up in that piece!! I was making things HAPPEN.

Honey Badger was making things happen too. She would have collapsed into a crying mess on the driveway if I didn’t let her help move the stones. So, maybe she did and that’s how I know this. Ohhhhhh, yeah, speaking of 12 lb stones… That wheelbarrow that we had, that I was planning on using to haul this shit to the patio, yeah, the, uh, tire was completely deflated, therefore rendering it useless.

Hmm. That threw a wrench into my project.

PLAN B!

THINK.OUTSIDE.THE.BOX.

THINK.OUTSIDE.THE.BOX.

And, here’s the Honey Badger : Even 1 block at a time was a big help. She’s my Big Helper.

THE GRILL 936 erin bike

Ok, so my Dad helped me bring my plan to light. He was there to assist and light a fire under me. We could have gone round and round about how this was going to go. But, he likes to Get ‘er Done, and I like to, well, procrastinate and chat. We busted a move and got the stones set up, took a picture, then tore them down. We built it back up and glued it together, piece by piece. We marveled at what we accomplished, yet acknowledged we may have sped the process up a bit and so we aren’t exactly at 90 degrees in some spots. Oh well. I think he was just extremely impressed with my work ethic on the job site and couldn’t see past that.

And then, my father left me on my own. “Sink or swim”, he thought. This is pretty much how he raised me anyway, thank God.

So, I swam for dear life.

I can’t draw a stick person to save my life, but I measured, drew precise pencil lines that weren’t actually precise, tried to erase them, gave up on the eraser, went through an entire package of baby wipes (Kirkland brand, from Costco,- I cleaned my entire van out with them the other day – they can be utilized in ANY situation)  and sent my husband to Lowe’s to have the tiles cut down to my “exact” pencil markings.

Next, I needed more tiles cut. But, in a moment’s notice, I had to draw my lines there on the spot, at Lowe’s. I asked for a pencil and tape measure. They gave me a “grease pencil”. That went over well. The grease pencil was gigantic compared to my small pencil at home. So, I made a lot of noise using their ink pen to draw my lines, much to their dismay. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

THE GRILL 977 lowes pen

Ok, ok, ok. So – I started this little project with the Honey Badger in tow on Tuesday. After many days of rearing the children, working from home, and the everyday stuff in the middle, I finished the project tonight (Saturday). It really is a 2 day project. Knowing what I know now, I could do this in no time. I feel so completely empowered, I just want to stand on the damn thing with flames shooting out from behind me shouting, “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!!!”. But, I don’t think my neighbors would like that. Plus, the dogs would go crazy everywhere and cause quite a stir.

Here’s the finished product. Disclaimer: Once again, I must credit my father with the awesome wisdom and time he provided to the project. I will say, though, that the tile part was completely independent of anyone but myself. I have never tiled anything in my life, so this was quite an achievement. I want to tile the shit out of anything and everything now! I want to tile the backyard!!!

Here are the final pictures:

THE GRILL 985 FINAL

THE GRILL 987 side

I especially want to say that that this project makes our back porch so versatile. I made it so that, during the wintertime, the grill could slide back, and we can store it in the garage. More importantly, this brick wall becomes The Most Amazing Snowball Shelter in the History of Mankind.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at my oldest below, demonstrating just how awesome it will be:

THE GRILL 991 Sean

Mother

I dedicate my post today to my Mom. Of course, in my younger years, she was lovingly referred to as Mommy. (Even my 4 year old is already phasing out Mommy, and replacing it with Mom. I’m not sure why I’m offended, but I am.) Besides being a mother, she is known by many different names, some more colorful than others, all equally meaningful to the person speaking of her.

“Katy” – by her loving husband.

“Aunt Katy” – by her many nieces and nephews that have always adored her.

“Chatty Cathy” – by her extremely funny children.

“Grandma” – by most of her eight grandchildren.

“Kiki” – by 2 of her 8 grandchildren.

“Grammy” – by one, little Honey Badger.

“Daughter” – spoken from the lips of her Father, but only until the age of 3 when he was taken from earth. And, most certainly spoken with elation when her mother gave birth to a girl, after 5 boys preceded her.

“Sister” – spoken by her 5 brothers, each of whom have passed this life before her.

“Friend” – the many, many friends she has touched over the years, and the close ones she relishes today.

But, if there is one title she deserves, it is that of “Mother”. You see, that is how she always referred to her own Mom. I have always found it to be a very reverent title for a woman, my grandmother, that symbolized the epitome of strength.   Her name was Sarah Nadine. At least, that was the new name she chose for herself after she left behind a life of torment, walked from Ohio to Indiana by herself, got a job, and married a man 16 years her senior. Together, they were raising 6 children, until his sudden passing. Poor and alone, she did the best she could to feed her family. She never learned how to drive; she walked, or took the bus wherever she needed to go. She, in fact, walked to church every single day. She had weak knees, but her faith was stronger. I once found myself in a small church in Rome; I believe it was called the Scala Sancta. They had a staircase that Jesus walked on to his way to Pontius Pilate. It contained drops of his blood, and was encased in a protective case. I saw little, old ladies on their knees, going up each step, one by one. It was difficult with my prosthesis, but I went up those stairs one at a time for my grandmother. She would have. She was a woman of devotion and endless love for others. Once, she had just enough money to buy groceries when she boarded the bus with my Mom. But, a little girl boarded as well, and she had no shoes and she was dirty. My grandmother insisted they get off at the next stop, and they took the little girl and spent all their grocery money to buy her new shoes. This was the kind of selfless person my grandmother was, and passed along to my own mother. My mom would give the clothes off her back to her children, her nieces and nephews, her husband, or her friends. She has given countless time and energy to making each of her grandchildren feel loved. When my aunt was dying from cancer in a hospital in California, she and my Dad drove my cousins to the airport to send them on a plane so they could be there for their final goodbyes. My Mom decided, in that moment, that she was boarding the plane as well. She had no clothes, no toothbrush, but she provided an amazing amount of support that came from the depths of her amazing soul.

I believe that there are two kinds of people in this world; those that have lost a parent, and those who have not. I cannot even fathom losing my Mom. My heart goes out to the many people today that I hold dear that are celebrating this day with an ache in their heart that I am sure will never, ever go away. I will be one of those people one day, and so I take each moment I can to relish my relationship with my Mother. I find that my relationship with my Mom means more to me today than it ever has. I appreciate each visit, each moment, each conversation.

So, today, I want to say – I love you, Mother. I am humbled to be your daughter. My children are privileged to have you in their life in such a meaningful way, and I hope that I have made you proud. You are incredibly beautiful inside and out.

Love,

Your Daughter.

 

Katy (2)