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StephanieZ last won the day on January 10 2014

StephanieZ had the most liked content!

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About StephanieZ

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    Child Wrangler

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    Between a hill and a valley

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  1. 11 layers. I removed 11 layers of wallpaper from the front foyer of my first house. Only 7 layers from the living and dining rooms. Two bedrooms and the main hallway had several layers . . . and were painted over with high gloss paint. Those walls had to be removed in 1-2 inch squares with paint scrapers, after having being cut through with razor blades, with much help from steam, chemicals, and tons of hard work. I can confidently predict I won't be adding wallpaper anywhere anytime soon. Never say never. . . I can imagine putting up kiddo themed paper somewhere someday . . . in my wildest imaginings. If I *DO* put it up anywhere, I promise to properly paint the walls before putting it up (for much easier removal!).
  2. IMHO, this is an inappropriately controlling approach. Offering to pay if the funeral looks one way, but not if it looks another way, is interfering in something that really is not your business. If you are willing to chip in $X towards a funeral, you should do that. But, putting strings on it (unless there is critical moral or religious reason why you feel strongly the funeral service must be "your way"), isn't cool. I encourage you to offer $X (just mail it, IMHO), and stay out of the details/logistics. Note: I can understand a family member saying, "Uncle Joe was strongly Religion Z. I'll pitch in $X as long as the service complies with Religion Z's rules. . ." Or even, "It was really important to Uncle Joe that his family be present at his service, and I'll pitch in $X (or two plane tickets, or whatever) towards helping get family members there." But . . . offering $$ tied to your vision of a "scaled back" vs her "staged" affair is not cool, IMHO. TBH, you sound resentful and judgmental towards your aunt. I totally dislike and am annoyed by plenty of my extended relatives, so this isn't meant as an insult. Just as a warning that you might want to check your feelings & be super careful as to what you do and say. (That's what I do whenever I have to interact with plenty of my extended relatives.)
  3. We live in a state that is far at the opposite end of the spectrum we believe in. Until late 2016, this was somewhat tolerable. We had our small circle of local allies that we talked politics with, and mostly avoided political discourse with those who we didn't share core values with. After the 2016 election, however, we realized that our political beliefs were just the tip of the iceberg, and that our personal moral values were gravely threatened by the politics of the age, that our democracy as a whole was in jeopardy, and thus, we have made a moral choice to take a stand publicly, whatever the personal costs. Since then, actually, I've felt better locally to some degree, as by getting highly involved politically in our state, I have met MANY allies state wide. Even if your state is only 30% "your" side, that's still 1 in 3 folks who can be allies. So, I actually feel much LESS isolated knowing that. So, that's a good thing, I suppose. That said, if I were to do it over, I wouldn't have settled my family in this state because of the political/moral climate here, so, my personal advice would be to make every reasonable effort to settle in a community and state that reflects your values. I wish we had chosen a state that better reflects our morals and values. Unless you live under a rock and/or simply refuse to take any ownership in your duties as a citizen or our democracy in general, you can't really overstate the impact of living in a state/community/nation that is utterly at odds with your moral/social/political values. So, for me, I believe we'd have been much better off if we'd settled in a state that DID reflect our values. I've learned a lot by living in this environment, but the lessons are painful, and IME, the vast majority of folks simply choose to live under rocks instead of engaging with democracy. In truth, my ability to engage politically here is a privilege that not many have here, as the risks to employment and even personal physical safety can't be overstated.
  4. Just be sure to connect a firm dollar amount with any agreement you make. Las week, we had a $5k bid on taking down a big (huge) tree in our back yard. We decided that even though it's clearly ill . . . and might fall or split . . . Since there is little/no danger of it hitting any house/valuable out building (or vehicles), we are going to let nature take its course. Just a warning that tree removal can be $$$, in case your willingness to share costs might be impacted if the bid comes in a lot higher than you anticipate.
  5. People are nuts. This is one of those stories that makes me thankful for a small family, because mine is pretty much a bowl of nuts, and there's enough crazy with just a few of us in the mixture. That said, for me, I give 100% weight to the wishes of whoever lost the most. Assuming his wife isn't evil, and assuming his parents are long deceased and he didn't have children, then that'd be the widow. So, whatever she wants, I'd do my best to fulfill. (If his parents or children were alive, I'd consider their feelings as equally important.) In general, unless there was an exceptionally close relationship (lived together for a long period in recent years, etc), then nephews/nieces/aunts/etc really don't rank, IMHO. I'd say to the widow, "If at all possible, I'll be there whenever works for you. Just tell me when and where, and I'll be there." and I'd say, "Let me know how I can help." (and then I'd do it.) And, since she's ALREADY TOLD YOU how you can help ($$$), I'd offer some generous amount. If you can come up with $500 or $1000 to travel to his service, you could just send that to her instead. If you can afford both, do both. If you can afford just one, then send her the money (unless she refuses it after you let her know that this is all you can afford, so won't be able to ALSO come to the service). He loved her, so, presumably, he'd have appreciated you doing that. Even if she doesn't need it financially, maybe it's just a way of getting emotional support/recognition/whatever. Maybe she's just nuts, and maybe money is her "love language", but whatever the reason, I wouldn't worry about that part. I'd just do what I could do. So, if I could possibly afford it, I'd send her a nice card along with $500-1000 towards *whatever she needs*, and I'd (gently, mostly by letting them know what I'd done) encourage my siblings/relatives to do likewise. You have nothing to lose by being generous here. And nothing to gain by being stingy or judgey.
  6. Easy peasey DIY, IME. We replaced the back door in our first house when I was 23 or so, and we knew very little about that sort of thing at the time. Just remove all the trim around the door, then it becomes easy to see where/how you remove the door and it's framing. You'll want to buy a pre-hung door for the new door if possible, as that's much, much easier than hanging the door yourself. You can put in new trim or re-install the removed trim if you have unique or nice trim and were able to remove it intact. Do it in good weather, and figure out how to blockade the kids/dogs/etc from escaping during the time you have the hole in the house. 🙂
  7. Other: My 16 year old hasn't worked a regular job, but she does play music gigs once or twice a month & makes bank (50-100/hr) when she does, so she is earning her own spending money. But, she's not getting that "learn the value of a dollar" lesson from working hard for low pay that I do think is valuable for teens/young people.
  8. Kayaking and/or paddle boarding on the Wakulla River in FL -- see manatees, alligators, etc. You can even swim if you're brave. There are a couple rope swings along the banks. We spent Octobers on St George Island for over a decade, and adding in the Wakulla River kayaking days was a fantastic delight, especially as the kids got older. 🙂 Paddle boarding on it is awesome, too, but if the flow is high (depends on time of day/tides because it's a spring fed river that feeds into the ocean eventually), it can be a lot of work, so stick with kayaks unless you have experienced and strong paddle boarders. (We typically take a fleet of a mixture of boards and kayaks, so everyone can take turns and not get too worn out.) Allow for about 4 hours round trip including a lunch break: Our general system is to launch at the public launch next to TNT Kayak Rentals. We paddle up river for a couple hours, where you get to the end of the navigable river because there is a fence that crosses the river preventing you from proceeding to the actual springs which are part of a nice park. If you look left when you see the fence, you'll see a nice pull out, where you can pull out, flip a kayak over to make a temporary picnic table, and have your picnic lunch. Then you float easily down river in about an hour to your launch point. We have our own boats/boards, but you can rent them from TNT. We've often rented one or two extras from TNT for friends/guests if we have a large group visiting us. TNT staff are grumpy, lol, but they have fine equipment and all you have to do is rent the boats from them, so it's not like you have to deal with their grumpiness much. (Just don't ask to use their bathroom. Stop at a quick mart on the way instead! I think they must have very limited sewer access, because they are really rude about people using their bathroom. DEFINITELY buy something there if you want/need to use it. We've learned only to ask if we have a small child or someone else who can't wait, lol.) (You can pay for a guided trip like this for about $120/person. We did that the first time, then we realized how easy it was and have self-guided since then, which is more like $25/person if you have to rent boats and free if you own them.) Another good day adventure is to spend a half day or so at the Wakulla Springs State Park. COLD but awesome clean water to swim in and a super high diving platform for the brave souls in the group. There are similar nice spring fed rivers around to kayak on in other areas if you're not near Wakulla. I love them all. 🙂 Appalachicola is a fun town to visit if you're in the mood for shopping and/or a nice meal out (The Owl Cafe is the bomb.) We headed to there for the day/half day when the weather was sketchy.
  9. I've used CustomInk numerous times for our business and for political stuff for orders from 25-200 shirts at a time. I love that you can tweak brands/quantities/colors/styles online and see the true pricing immediately. Their online design capabilities are quite reasonable and have a lot of flexibility if you can't/don't want to DIY design on your own computer/program. I've done it both ways, both using their design suite as well as uploading complete designs. Either way is super easy. You can also call and ask for assistance in mixing styles/items and getting discounted pricing on the combined larger orders. They're always super helpful and nice, IME. Pricing is fair. Delivery has always been fast and reliable & quality has been excellent. Under 2 weeks is standard, or you can pay a bit extra for faster turnaround. We've got some 12+ year old t-shirts around that have been washed hundreds of times and the print quality is still great -- never have had a crack, a peel, or any other printing fault. They aren't union, which is a bummer, but they are US based and from what I can tell they are a fairly responsible employer. I do believe all the printing & staffing (other than manufacturing the raw shirts, which depends on the brand you choose) is done in the USA.
  10. I'm a huge fan of Corelle for numerous reasons. My every day dishes for about 8-10 years have been a set of 12 (2 sets of 4) Corelle. + They are indestructible. We use them VERY heavily. They look perfect. So good that I have been wondering if I'll ever have the fun of getting a new set of every day dishes. + They are super safe in microwave/dishwasher/etc. + They are thin and light, making storage, dishwasher loading, etc. easy and handling for dishwashing/etc very easy. Carrying a stack of 4 plates with 4 bowls on top of it is so easy you can do it with one hand and have a load of flatware in your other hand. So far as them splintering if they broke, I'm sure that could happen, possibly, but we haven't broken them. Ever. Just like pyrex bakeware, etc, it's a sort of glass, so it could splinter. I've broken tons of things in the last decade, including plenty of glassware. Haven't managed to break the Corelle yet. It does NOT break easily. I mean, we've broken probably 40 or so glasses and jars over the decade we've had the Corelle, and not ONE piece of the Corelle. It's TOUGH.
  11. The later school hours are way more humane for kids and better in most respects, but for mixing parenting with working, I can totally see the upside of the super early shift . . .
  12. The 7-2 schedule sounds awesome if it works for your sleep schedule, as it'd allow you so many more opportunities to "do life" before 5 on work days, especially for after-school stuff with your kid(s). So, that'd probably be a big factor for me, personally.
  13. I suspect that WELL painted brick could last a very long time w/o maintenance. Good strategy on color choice, good prep work, high quality paint of the correct variety . . . and you could likely last decades with one paint job (same as you can with properly painted hardi-plank or concrete). If I were building new, I sure wouldn't plan to paint brick. But, if I were facing an ugly brick on a nice house, I might do it . . .
  14. Random things to consider . . . + ASAP, I'd totally put cheap padding and carpet down over that tile for a couple years, until you're not so worried about the kids cracking their heads. For just a couple/few hundred bucks, you can make the floor a million time safer and reduce a lot of your (reasonable) worries. Plan to rip it out when it gets nasty and then that tile will still be there, good as new. + My climber kids had bunks at those ages and I never felt unsafe, but they weren't REALLY crazy, just climbed all the time. But, with thick padding and carpet, it was fine. Kids fall. It's OK. I mean, my youngest climbed the ladder to the tip top of the big kids' bunks when she was TEN MONTHS OLD and did that in about 20 seconds flat (first time she ever got on any ladder of any sort, while Dad was helping the kids brush their teeth in the bathroom no more than 20 feet away . . . So, I get it. But, still, no damage done . . . + A Twin-over-Full bunk, slammed against the wall on the long side and with modern, safe design . . . could be pretty darn safe. Especially because if you fell off the long side of the twin, you'd land on the full. 🙂 And the short ends could be pretty hard to climb with the right design (say, solid panels instead of rails/slats . . .) Modern bunks have so many safety rails, etc, they're pretty darn safe, I think. + You could take the doors off the closet and just take over that closet space for more floor space for bed space if that helps. Even if you keep the closet as a "closet", I'd still take the doors off to clear the floor space. You could hang curtains or just leave it open. + You could remove everything but sleep/peaceful stuff in the entire room. You could remove all toys (to the family room, whatever) and maybe all the clothes, too, or at least ONLY have minimal clothes (maybe only jammies) and books/lovies in there. + Kids clothes could go to some "family closet" wherever you can fit them. Maybe in the laundry room. Or an armoire in your family room or maybe in your master. + So, at a minimum, each kid would have a lovely bed, with room for a few movies and a bin/nook somewhere for their favorite books and one or two items they really want in the bed room. Everything else OUT (and give each a chest/cabinet/shelf/trunk/whatever somewhere in the house that is "theirs" for their STUFF). + Consider curtains as dividers/screens (in place of closet doors and/or between beds) if desired. Make them easily washable to minimize allergens.
  15. My prediction: the parents are junkies and they are going to lose their kids for keeps, most likely, and that's likely for the best. Nothing adds up in their story. NOTE: Infant spit-up does not equal vomit. Infant spit up drying on the baby's bib or mom's shoulder is NOT THE SAME THING as "sick vomit" I've had a house full of family members vomiting and having explosive diarrhea. I've had all the kids sick and Mom and Dad, too. I've had crap all over the couch and vomit splattered all over the laundry room (and that was a TEEN)! I've had toddlers vomiting and diarrhea exploding. I'm sure most of us have BTDT. Also, I'm not the most fastidious person. But, I've never, ever, ever left vomit around my kid's mouth to dry. Nor left vomit or *any other bodily fluid* stain on their bedding or anywhere else. I see the vomit or other bodily fluid, and I CLEAN IT UP no matter how sick I am myself. So would my husband. I just can't FATHOM a responsible adult allowing a small child to be in bed with vomit or other bodily fluids on it. Nope, that's on the adults. Kids under 8 or so are 100% on the adults to keep clean, healthy and well. No excuses. Sorry, not sorry. That point alone, IMHO, says those parents are up to a lot of very bad stuff. (I totally believe they were destroying evidence while CPS was trying to get in and in NO WAY do I believe they all slept through the attempts at getting in.) No way, no how, does a responsible parent allow a young child to have vomit drying on their clothes or bedding. Unless you're drugged out of your mind (or seriously mentally ill and incompetent), or unless your very, very busy doing something much more important than performing the basic duties of parenthood. (If these parents lived in housing with no running water, that'd be a totally different situation. STILL no excuse for vomit drying on your little kid's face, though. None.) IMHO, as long as the reports are generally accurate, then IMHO, these parents are very bad, no good, awful. I'm Team DR 100% on this one. I hope I'm wrong about the parents, but I doubt I am.
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