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

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Last Night’s Dinner

It’s been awhile since my family sat down to dinner together at the kitchen table. Football practice from 5:25pm-7:30pm really threw a wrench into our routine, but now it’s over, and things are settling back to normal. Or, at least I thought they were. I like to think I feed my family a healthy dinner. So, when I saw a “Turkey, Spinach, and Parmesan Meatloaf” at my favorite place on earth (Costco), I was super excited to pick up this $8.79 gem and head home to pair it with some mac ‘n cheese for dinner. We had asparagus in the fridge as well, but that was too much work. Don’t judge, it was still a school night.

Anyhither, I was reclined in the leather sofa in the Wellness Center when my husband was ready to get the dinner ball rolling. He tried to preheat the oven, then became completely confused when I said we didn’t need to bake the meatloaf.  I admit, I didn’t read the directions before buying; it was a complete impulse purchase. I was also a little taken aback that it didn’t cook in the oven. Reluctantly, I boiled a pot of water, per the directions on the package, and placed the heavy (gross looking) mass of meat into the pan. Sean came into the kitchen and immediately displayed a very foul face at the boiling meatloaf on the stove. “I’ve never seen meatloaf boiled before. I might be sick.” I said, “Honey, you just wait, this will be AWESOME.”

Cut to all four of us sitting down at the dinner table. Dylan actually loves meatloaf. Homemade, that is…with meat, cheese, and BBQ sauce. So trusting, he was actually excited for this humdinger. I felt nervous, like I was blindsiding him with this high tech, futuristic loaf. Poor kid. As for Sean, I was ready to kick him under the table for the exaggerated, vile faces he was making to…. just me. He “allowed” me to transfer the tiniest sliver of meatloaf onto his plate. However, I cut up generous portions for the kids, and myself.  Truth be told, the more I cut into this thing, the more disgusted I felt. But, I wouldn’t let Sean know that. Furthermore, I took a bite discreetly. I tested the waters. No one saw me, and so they didn’t know what I knew: It was repulsive.

Then, Erin took a bite. She has a very, VERY discriminating palate.

“Mommy, this is sooooo good!”  Wow. I’m second guessing my own opinion!

Clearly, she then swallowed it, because next,  “It tastes like THROW-UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.  Of course, we all three completely lost it. I almost wet my pants at the dinner table, Sean was choking he was laughing so hard, and Dylan was completely red-faced and losing it . We were such a sight, right in front of the giant kitchen window. All of us were bent over at the table laughing, except Erin. She was looking from side to side, no head movement at all, just furtively moving her eyes back and forth. That’s what Honey Badgers do when they are at a loss for words, apparently. She thinks she is so funny when she does this! It was her contribution to the party. Oh, the jokes did not stop rolling in. Sean choked out between laughs, “This looks like something FEMA would hand out to survivors!”  We really had a field day with the meatloaf. It provided a litany of memorable quotes and hearty belly laughs. It did not provide nourishment to our bellies, but it did to our souls.

Below are some pictures for verification purposes. Side note: I really do love Costco. Please do not let this post sway you either way on the  ever, in your whole entire life, purchase the “Turkey Spinach Parmesan Meatloaf”.

“SPAM WANNA-BE”. It failed miserably, and so will you if you ever try to feed this to your family.

Sean is trying so very hard to muster up the strength to just keep pushing the meatloaf around on his plate, to make it look like he’s really digging into it. Or, he might be trying not to throw up.

After she stopped furtively glancing back and forth, she thinks she’s pretty hilarious, which, let’s be honest, she is.

“MOM!!! STOP MAKING ME LAUGH!!”
Me: “The Turkey Meatloaf started it!!!!”

Stars of the Week….Erin Edition

This has been a big week around here! Erin waited all school year, two months to be exact, to be Star of the Week in her classroom. This was HUGE. She was sent home last week with the coveted “rainbow can” and a special assignment to fill it with things that start with the letter “G”. We promptly found a giraffe and a green toy. Those two items sat in the can all weekend, until Monday morning when we decided we needed just one more “G” item. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! Keep in mind that we spent all weekend working on the Wellness Center (which has also been dubbed The Wine Room). This means that the rest of the house was neglected….in a massive way. I couldn’t fathom coming home to the mess after the kids went to school, so I told my husband that he could find me in the Wellness Center with a fire extinguisher blowing out the flames because I had lit a match to the rest of the house. He promised me he would defecate in the (piled high and overflowing) sink on his way out the door to work just to perfect the theme we had going on. Anyway, I am rushing around trying to get Erin’s lunch packed before we leave for school. As if the kitchen wasn’t cluttered enough, I knocked a giant cup of water over on the counter and just left it there dripping everywhere because I didn’t have time to clean it up. I was still busy trying to get her lunch together. I went to the refrigerator, opened it up, and a bottle of salad dressing fell out onto the floor, splattering everywhere. That was neat, too. So, on our rush to get out the door I had a flash of genius. “Erin, we could rename Audrey (the caterpillar) GUS – Ga Ga Ga GUS starts with GEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and you could take him in the can!!!!!!!!!!”. She thought that was a SUPER idea!! So, I haul Erin, myself, her backpack, her lunch, and the can out into the pouring down rain, along with a Costco-sized bag of Goldfish for the “G” snack, and no umbrella. I hate umbrellas and I never, ever use one. I felt sorry for Erin when I saw all the other parents with umbrellas, or better yet, their kids had their own umbrellas, and wondered what my problem was. I used to think I was simple, but Monday morning I thought I was just plain dumb. Plus, she started to get a little sad and start to cry on the way to school because she didn’t want to call Audrey “Gus”. I toughened her up and told her it was just for the day and she said, “Ohhhhhhh kayyyyyyyyyy”. Mission accomplished. I got her off to school without (much of) a hitch.  She had a fantastic day and I’m sure it was mostly because she got to be the Line Leader, one of her all-time favorite passions. Her day was smooth sailing until I picked her up and she wanted to hold my keys for me while I drove. She cried her eyes out when I took them back and THEN refused to sit with her in the backseat. I can’t do anything right….can’t drive without keys, can’t sit in the back and drive. I’m a horrible mother.  That little Honey Badger finally fell asleep on our way home. She knows not what she does. It’s absolutely exhausting being Star of the Week.