You Go, Girl.

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Yesterday the hubs and I went to kindergarten parent teacher conference for our daughter. I wish I could make some funny comment about how we were dreading it, but I’d be lying. I wasn’t dreading it. My daughter is awesome. And I’ve got the perfect story to illustrate why.

Her teachers are amazing. (She’s got two – one mostly for English, reading, art, & kindergarten “social studies,” and one mostly for Spanish, science, & math. Spanish Dual Immersion kindergarten is so cool!) And they “get” her. They love her! They were oh so sincerely rantin’ and ravin’ about her. We ate it up.

Even the hubs got misty eyed when one of her teachers spoke about her character. And dang, my girl is smart. I couldn’t be more proud!

Both teachers told us stories about her that made us giggle and beam. But my favorite story about her was one I experienced myself.

Usually when Reese gets home from school, I “casually” ask lots of “nonchalant” questions. Who did you play with at recess? What did you play? Who did you sit by at lunch? Did you see anyone who didn’t have friends to play with today? What did you do? Did anything make you sad? Did anything make you nervous? Did anything make you laugh?

I’ve gotten lots of different responses, and then one afternoon, this conversational gem:

Me: “So who did you play with at recess today?”
(Daughter) R: “In the morning I played with *Jessie. But I didn’t play with her for the recess after lunch.”
Me: “Oh. Did something happen?”
R, with no indication of sadness: “She just didn’t want to play with me.”
Me, trying to hide my ruffled feathers: “What were you playing?”
R: “We were playing tag and Jessie didn’t want to play after lunch.”
Me, hesitantly relieved: “Oh, she was probably too hot to play tag. It’s really hot out there, huh?”
R: “No, mom. She said that tag is for babies.”
Me, eyes bulging, mouth pinched, secretly thinking WHO IN THE WORLD IS THIS JESSIE GIRL AND WHERE DOES THE LITTLE BOOGER LIVE!?: “Oh.”
R, with gleaming, glittering eyes and a stinking confident smile: “But mom, (shakes her head like an adult), babies can’t run.”

Babies can’t run, people. And tag, well, tag is no baby game.

You go, girl. You go to the moon and back.

Love, your mom.

*name changed to protect the friggin’ guilty.

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Wild Zone!

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Wild Zone!

My dad is awesome. He has a hilariously skewed and unexpected sense of humor. He likes the weirdest movies, and proves it with endless obscure movie quotes that almost no one but his family recognizes. Aziz! Liiiight! 

He’s many things: an airline pilot, a stubborn debater, world-class champion of The Look, tinkerer, mechanic, sailor, grandpa, cherisher of my angel of a mother, BYU Cougars fan, intellectual, rock music aficionado, pet scorpion owner,* and secret teddy bear.**

But did you know? He’s also an inventor. No, for real. Like, the man has two patents. The guy could have been a mechanical engineer if the sky hadn’t been calling to him since he was a little tyke.

I’m going to let you in on his best creation (besides us kids, you know). It’s called WILD ZONE!. That punctuation may look funny. It’s because you can’t say “WILD ZONE!” without the “!”

Now, this is a hard pill for me to swallow. I’ve spent years, nigh, decades alongside my siblings in our combined pursuit of OMG-Dad-you’re-so-embarrassing. Wild Zone is one of those things we “tolerated.” Almost like how we barely tolerate the super worn-out overalls he deems worthy of wearing in public. Except, the overalls are truly horrifying, and Wild Zone is actually pretty awesome. But of course, we couldn’t admit that.

Years and years ago, my dad invented a game. And then he had it made. Made. As in he professionally printed his card game. Then life got busy. Four kids and his profession and all other sorts of life responsibilities took precedence, and so the card games never got sold to stores. They wallowed in storage for a very long time. Then one day, his partner-in-crime decided it was pointless paying the storage fee for years on end, so boxes of card games arrived at our house. LOTS of boxes. An INCREDIBLE amount of boxes.

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This is what’s left after a good 10 years of giving away games whenever possible.

Inside each box are 48 WILD ZONE!’s. We as a family played a lot of WILD ZONE!.

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What a gem. Straight outta Zack Morris/Kelly Kapowski early 90’s perfection.

Did I mention we have a lot of boxes? Guess what my parents gave out to trick-or-treaters last year? Yep.

It’s a fast game, with simple math, and a whole lot of you snooze, you lose rivalry. If you can add up to 10, can tell the difference between red & blue, and have no problem stealing your own mother’s turn, then you can play.

When Nick and I lived in Hawai’i, my Dad snuck a box of these into our luggage, which we dispersed among friends. Many a get-together resulted in heated WILD ZONE! matches across our coffee table.

My dad named Nick the Vice President of International Sales and Distribution. Which means WILD ZONE FOR EVERYONE!

So, if you want a free card game, hit us up! This is prime Monday FHE material we’re talking about here. Though if you’re a local neighbor of mine, just wait a few weeks until neighborhood Christmas gifts start making their rounds. 🙂 Why didn’t I think of that years ago?

-Tara

*Yes, my father owned a slew of scorpions for longer than I care to acknowledge. He kept them in a large fish tank on his bathroom counter. And he named them after his daughters’ ex-boyfriends. Except for the one he claimed was a member of a Mexican drug cartel. That one was named “El Jefe.”

**The mother of my childhood best friend once told me that she had always been super intimidated by my Dad. That she thought he was sorta scary. Then she declared, “But really, he’s just a big teddy bear, isn’t he?”

 

 

Pee-Pants. A horror story.

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PEE-PANTS Horror StoryIn case you were wondering what I mean by said “pee-pants,” we’re speaking of toddler/kid night time pull-ups. And, dear readers, PULLS-UPS ARE THE KINGS OF THE NECESSARY EVILS.

They’re disposable (yay!) and suspiciously expensive (boo.)

They’re easy for kids to pull on (yay!) except every 3rd time, when they rip up the side (boo) and render themselves useless. Unless you’re a parent willing to use duct tape. No comment.

They’re everywhere & always within reach (yay!) until it’s two hours past your adorable hellion’s bedtime and you discover you’re all out (major boo).

But dear readers, let me tell you a horror story.

It happened on a very recent dark, stormy night. We did laundry. More specifically, we did the kids’ laundry. If you know where this is going, then shame on you for not warning me ahead of time.

The buzzer buzzed oh-so-innocently and hubby got up from the couch where we were watching reruns of “New Girl” to forward that load to the dryer. I heard the washer door open, then an incredibly long silent pause. No sounds of sloshing wet clothes. No little “hmphs” from Nick begrudgingly bent over transferring those wet clothes to the dryer. Nothing. Sickening silence.

Then, the dreaded, “honey . . . ?”

I didn’t move. Maybe if I just pretend I didn’t hear it, time will rewind and fix whatever horror it is. 

“Seriously. Something is wrong. Come look at this.”

Nope. Nnnnnope. Nothing is wrong. Everything is just fine.

“Tara. There is something seriously wrong with our washer.”

I blew out a sigh, bid Schmidt to wish me luck, and trudged into the laundry room WHERE FREAKIN’ SLIMY SNOW AWAITED ME.

I kid you not. Little, clear-ish/white-ish slimy pellets of snow were spilling out of the washer and clinging to the wet clothes.

“I don’t want to know what that stuff is,” said my dashing, debonaire, total scaredy-pants husband.

I bravely picked up a clump and squished it between my fingers. Then images of a long-forgotten Youtube gardening video flashed through my mind. A video where the crystals inside of diapers are soaked with water and placed in the soil, thereby providing a source of water for thirsty plants and also preventing overwatering.

A PULL-UP EXPLODED IN MY WASHER.

My son’s ***PEE-PANTS*** literally expanded to 5 times their normal size and violently disintegrated.

With more attitude than was probably necessary, I impatiently carefully removed each article of wet, slimy clothing and shook out slimy crystals all over my laundry room floor, then threw them in the dryer. We plugged a wind-turbine in front of the washer to dry out the crystals and hoped (or just pretended) the clothes now in the dryer wouldn’t do any damage. “This thing is under warranty, right?”

Nick vacuumed out the dried crystals in the morning, and the kids clothes are no worse for wear. (Though I cannot attest to their emotional and mental state.) I still haven’t tried to use the washer or dryer since. Too scared. Should we take bets on how long I can go without doing a load of laundry in this house??

Moral of the story: warn your kid not to put their pee-pants in the dirty clothes. And warn yourselves to be on the lookout for the little disposable traitors when throwing in a kids’ load late at night in the dark.

Stupid pee-pants. Stupid, stupid little pee-pants.

*If someone dares make a joke about them not being “little” pee-pants when they’re five times their normal size, I will publicly unfriend you.

 

She’s finally here!

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Guys, I’m going to start this post by saying how GLORIOUS it is to not be sick anymore! I CAN’T STOP SMILING!! I can talk! I can walk! I can laugh! I can mom!

That said, as you might have guessed (or seen on my facebook page), baby girl decided to finally join us. And she’s adorable. (you might remember me mentioning here that my oldest daughter was a gorgeous newborn but my son looked more on the Benjamin Button side of things for a few months. So maybe a little part of me was worried…)

And she’s the best baby EVER. Seriously. From 9:00 at night until about 9:00 in the morning, she sleeps. Even when I wake her to feed her, she basically sleeps through it. Hubby and I are getting a ton of sleep! Scratch that. We could be getting a ton of sleep if we’d stop with our second go-around of Netflix binging all the seasons of Friday Night Lights. Texas forever.

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I’ve never understood why family and friends want to know the weight and length of a newborn, so I’ll just say she was born perfect. She is on the long and lean side, though this past week she’s started to plump up with that ridiculously cute cheek and thigh squish.

She’s super curious and has these ginormous, searching eyes, which you might get a glimpse of if you happen to be around during the few minutes she decides to forgo her beauty sleep and grace us with her awake presence.

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She’s named after her great grandmother and her grandma. Though I’m on the fence about sharing my kids names on a public blog, so I’ll keep those to myself for now.

Delivery was a cinch, recovery has been awesome, and again, I CAN’T STOP SMILING! Two days after delivery, I was already anxious to be normal again and started making plans. “Nick, let’s go camping! Let’s throw a party! Let’s start going back to the gym! I’m going to church this Sunday! I’m gonna make the kids’ Halloween costumes this week! What do you want for dinner?? Ooooh, let’s host Thanksgiving for EVERYBODY!!” I tell you, pregnancy is not my forte. Newborns? Newborns I can handle like a boss.

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We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m sure you all remember this post when I was definitely not on my A-game.

So, dear readers, I know I announced that I was “back” a few months ago, but in reality, my fingers were typing away some thoughts while I whithered away behind the scenes in misery.

But Oh Glorious Day, we have arrived! The land of the living has beckoned and brought with it a perfect, beautiful little girl! Our family is healthy, happy, together, and smiling. What more could we ask for?

I’m feeling tremendously grateful. I have the best husband. He’s thoughtful, and caring, and works hard for our family, and brings spontaneity and laughter. He’s my best friend. He’s my love. He has sacrificed so much to keep our family running smoothly during my pregnancies. He is strong, he is wise, he is brave, and he is mine. He doesn’t just make me smile, he makes me feel like I’m glowing. There is no one better for me than him, and I’m so lucky to have found him.

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I have the best little 5 year old daughter. She’s super smart and creative. She reasons through everything, making sure she thought of every detail. She’s very beautiful with big, bright blue eyes. She is very aware of others around her and tries so hard to be helpful. She never forgets anything (both a blessing and a curse), and her giggle is freaking adorable. She’s a lover if ever there was one, laying on kisses and hugs and cuddles like they’re going out of style.

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My 4 year old son is so stinking cute! What a charmer. He’s one of those people that never laughs at his own hilarious commentary, even though the look in his eyes says he knows exactly how funny he just was. He’s the sweetest boy you’ve ever met. I get unsolicited “I wuv you, mommy”s all the time. He has to run everywhere, because walking is for chumps. His energy is never-ending. Except at church. At church he’s the epitome of shy, reserved, quiet, and tender. Oh, and he’s completely and utterly obsessed with Star Wars.

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And now, I’ve been blessed with another beautiful soul. A sweet, sleepy, curious, pretty, perfect little baby girl. And I can’t wait to get to know her!

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Love, Tara

Please. For one blessed day. #startwithoneday

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#StartWithOneDay

This post has been on my mind for a while. I don’t how else to say it, other than World, we need to stop.

Stop it. Stop the judgments. Stop the scorn. Stop the sarcasm at the expense of another’s opinion. Stop. Really.

I have opinions, and I’ve been as judgmental as the next person. I even have some very strong opinions on some rather controversial subjects. But for just one day, could we stop?

Everywhere I turn, I see and hear catty or snippy or angry or scornful or down right scathing words about someone else’s stance. Stop. Even if you’re “right.” For today, just stop.

Some say their words with the best of intentions, but are blinded to how those on the other side interpret them. For today, just stop.

I don’t care where you stand. Immigration, race relations, feminism, religious liberty, bigotry, death penalty, politics, war, taxes, social security, welfare, climate change, gay marriage, prison policy, foreign relations, political correctness, flags, it goes on and on and on. . . .

And the mother wars? Oh, sweet heaven above me, I almost wish I had the guts to swear up and down to you about the senselessness in mother-warring. Means of delivery, nursing vs. bottle feeding, co-sleeping vs. not, cry-it-out vs. not, homeopathic remedies vs. doctor visits, disciplining, homeschool vs. public vs. private school, helicopterring vs. unstructured freedom, 100% organic vs. feeding your family the best you can . . .  just about every freaking parenting action under the sun is under a social media microscope. Even what kind of diapers to use! Did you see how many “vs.” were in that? Verses. As in, mother against mother. As if one is so right and one is so wrong. Let it go. Please. For one day, just keep your opinions to yourself. Love your kid the way your instincts are telling you to love that dear child and spare other mothers from your well-intentioned shaming. Support each other, for crying out loud. Because every mother knows how hard it can get even without the constant fear of being judged.

We all, as human beings, are doing the best we can. Our cultures, our environment, our experiences, our education, our trials, fears, and inadequacies, even our brain chemistry all come together in a whirlwind and shape how we view the world. There is no need for public shaming. Please. Just stop.

Even “helpful” advice, or “godly” wisdom, or “straight-up” logic can shame. Think through what you’re saying. What you’re typing. What you’re sharing. I’m only asking for a day. One blessed day.

There is one particular subject I didn’t mention to which I have a very strong opinion. For me, the issue is black and white. Right and very, very wrong. And that’s a rare occurrence for me. I’ve researched and contemplated both sides, but my stance has only strengthened.

But let me tell you what, NO ONE has the right to shame another. Do I have to agree? No. Do I need to try to understand why they view the issue the way they do? Yes. Do I need to understand that people in opposition to me are just that: people? With feelings? With convictions? With rights to those opinions? Yes. Though I believe in the absolute wrongness of their stance, I do not believe they, as people, are wrong. They are just as human as I am. They are just as loved by their God as I am by mine. So, for today, I will stop.

All these words floating around the internet, or dumped unceremoniously in grocery store checkout lines, or snipped about amongst parents at their kids’ play dates are a reflection of just how judgmental our world has become.

For one day, just stop. And then . . . start. Start doing something good. #startwithoneday

Imagine the good we can accomplish by doing instead of by judging?

You have a problem with the welfare system? Then go help someone who might be a receiver of such welfare and listen to their story and figure out what you can do to curb the reason welfare exists in the first place. Because I’ll tell you what, whining about it on social media doesn’t do a thing. Shaming another’s stance only makes us divided and unable to make a difference.

Are you upset by the way in which our human race is treating the planet? Go do something about it! With strength! With joy! With love! Shaming is only going to make stronger enemies.

Are you upset by the surge in hurtful race relations? Be an example of love! Because voicing an opinion on the subject on social media is probably a bad idea right now. No matter where you stand on the issue. Someone’s going to get riled up by WHATEVER you say. Riled up does not a solution make.

Us humans are pretty clever. Let’s use it. Let’s use it for good.

I think our problems get worse when we put our cleverness aside and opt for hurtful targeting. I think our problems get better when we come together and get things done.

I believe with all my heart that every single one of us human beings is a son or daughter of God. Whether you call that God Allah, Jehovah, Heavenly Father, Mother Nature, or even refuse to acknowledge a higher power, I believe you are loved by that Higher Power. And I believe that God is longing for those small moments when we stop and come together to accomplish wonderful things. When we start doing. For good. Instead of watching us bicker and shame and snip and judge.

I’ve judged. And I’ve likely hurt others unintentionally. For that I am profoundly sorry. And so I write this post, hoping, praying, that maybe someone else will stop with me. And then, maybe, that someone else will start with me.

Even if it’s for just one day. Let’s start with one day. One day of peace. One day of getting up and making a difference without an ounce of shaming or judgement.

Can we do that?

Can we Go and Do without a snide thought?

Can we love without condition? Work without argument? Help without shaming?

Share your goodness, your love, your support. Go and do. Get out and make a loving, purposeful, effective difference. Go lovingly toward solutions instead of scornfully after “the other side.”

For just one day, stop. Then START.

#startwithoneday

-Tara

DIY Concrete Countertops – 11 months later

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UPDATE! click here for how these counters have fared 3 1/2 YEARS LATER. 

11 months laterHey-o!

Tara here.

Novel writing exploits took a backseat today. Lucky you? I was perusing Pinterest this morning and saw another concrete-over-laminate countertop pin. You know the countertop treatment popping up on the internet? The one using Ardex Feather Finish concrete “painted” over sanded-down laminate or formica countertops? I smiled to myself, remembering when I first saw those pins and thought rather smugly, “Oh, we could totally do that!” Well, last summer, I took that smug opinion and put my (not much) money where my confident mouth was.

If you’re wondering how that treatment holds up, this is the post for you. There may be hints and tips and tricks, but this is by no means a how-to post. This is a how-did-it-hold-up reality post.

Yes, this is a new type of post for the ol’ blog, but it’s my blog. You’re not the boss of me.

Kitchen full, countersWhat do you think of my on-the-cheap, mostly DIY kitchen remodel? I’ll post more (including the unrecognizable before photos) on that one later. I still have a couple of things left to do. But for now . . .

The house the hubs and I bought last summer had pretty awful laminate countertops. They were probably great in their hay-day, but we must have inherited them from a butcher . . . or serial killer. I’m talking knife gashes and slices everywhere. Chunks missing.

Had I a bigger budget, I might have sprung for the quartz countertops I really wanted. But after raising the kitchen ceiling, electrical work, A/C duct work, new lighting, and DIY shelving, (it was a brutal summer) we basically had enough money for paint. And maybe cheap cabinet pulls.

So, we took the plunge. The Ardex Feather Finish countertop plunge.

Total cost- Approx $125

Concrete– $25 (which I purchased at a local floor covering supply store)

Cheng Food-Grade Concrete Countertop Sealant- Either $30 (small bottle for up to 40 sq. feet), or $100+ (Huge 4L bottle – you’ll have lots of leftovers for re-sealing down the road or for other projects)

What we already had on hand

Painter’s tape, plastic drop cloth, face masks, electric sander, utility knives, taping knives (a.k.a. drywall spatulas) similar to these, old bowl/bucket, whisk, old soft rags.

Time

It took 3 adults (one of which had done this before) one long evening, then 2 adults for a second night. That said, we had an electric sander. If you are sanding by hand, expect it to take a lot longer.

To begin, we wood-putty’ed over the missing chunks in the counters. Then we sanded with an electric sander, and savagely scuffed those original gashed badboys with utility knives. That was just as fun and it sounds. Then came the many, many super-thin layers of Ardex (with sanding between each coat). After drying came the sealant layers. Then the waiting game.

Ready for the good stuff? The big questions?

#1 – How have they held up? Surprisingly well, actually. Are there chips? Yes. Are there dings? Sort of. Are there scratches? Eh… Are there stains? No. (Yeah, I was surprised by that one, too.)

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Chips. (See the lighter gray dots?) This happens when something both heavy and sticky is left on the countertop. When said item is picked up later, chips can occur. I’ve got 4 tiny chips in the corner by my stand-mixer, 2 next to my stove, a long-skinny chip up against the wall by the stools, and another little tiny one in the main workspace. (When I say tiny, I’m talking pin-head tiny, not even as big as a pencil eraser). Not bad for nearly a year of wear and tear from our rambunctious family of four.

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Dings. This only happens in this one small part of my countertop, no bigger than a 5-inch square. (Apologies for the weird lighting, it’s the only way I could get the camera to show my dings.)

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Why does it ding? Because this part of the countertop for some reason is much thicker than the rest. We probably missed this in sanding one of the layers. Maybe it soaked up more sealant and therefore has a little give to it? I’m not sure of the science behind why the thicker concrete dings.

Normally, each layer gets sanded down until completely smooth, almost as thin as paint, resulting in a final, smooth surface. This little section was never completely smooth, and noticeably thicker.

The plus side: I highly doubt this thick part will chip. But it has definitely “aged” with these lovely “character” dings. I actually kinda dig ’em.

Scratches. Truth be told, I didn’t notice any at all. Then I read Sarah’s experience with scratches and looked very, very, closley. Technically I guess you could say there are things that look like scratches. But they’re not like mini slices through the sealant, they’re like tiny, almost imperceptible lines scattered throughout. Like my dinged section, but to 1/10th of the degree. Almost like the miniscule leftover markings on a pad of paper from a previous sheet: the ones you only notice if you color the clean sheet carefully with pencil lead to reveal the hidden message. They don’t even show up in the sunlight unless you are really searching for them. I think maybe Sarah’s showed because her countertops were black and she used non-countertop wax to try to seal them.

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Stains. Yes, I said there were no stains. In truth, no amount of berry juice, melted popsicle, soy sauce, or other nefarious stainer has penetrated our food-grade concrete sealant. However, right along the seam to our stove, oil/grease seems to have seeped into the concrete. See the darker half circle right at the edge? I’m guessing our tape job (to protect the countertop-installed stove during this whole concreting process) wasn’t up to par. Or maybe when we pulled the tape up afterwards, it pulled up a tiny bit of the sealant. I don’t know. But, yes, I do have those tiny pockets of oil along the edge.

See the little dots an inch to the left of the stove that look very similar to the oil/grease stains? That’s what happens when water is left pooling on the countertop over the top of a chip. (I had just finished cleaning the counters before I took the picture). Water is absorbed through the tiny chip, then spreads out wider underneath the sealant. Guess what? They dry! Those little dark dots disappear after about a half hour.

Which brings me to a stain precautionary: It has not happened to me, but I would venture to guess that if berry juice (or other stainer) was left pooling over a chip in the surface, and it absorbed, and then dried, it very well could stain. Just a thought.

Ok, at this point, some of you might be asking “Tara, why don’t you just dab a little sealant over the chips?”  The sealant requires a process, which I could try, but I’m scared of it turning out uneven and looking worse than the teeny tiny chips do. To appease you, dear readers, I might try it and post about later. We’ll see. To get a flawless seal, I would have to re-sand and seal the entire countertop. And I am not quite ready to do that just yet.

#2 – What would I have done differently? A few things.

First: I’d do more layers of concrete.

I think we did 5 really thin layers. Yes, the surface is super smooth, but I actually would prefer a surface more like my little 5-inch section with the character dings (another pic zoomed out below). Personal preference, but I like dings more than chips. The thin-ness in some areas makes me a tiny bit nervous. It’s pretty thin.

Second, I’d heed the directions a little better with the sealant.

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See the photo above? The dull bit in the sunlight? Right above my dinged up section? That’s a spot where the our sealant didn’t soak in as well as it should have. I’ve got two of them. This is because we didn’t get the concrete wet enough during the sealing process. When they say get it wet, they mean really wet. Wet enough to soak into the concrete and stay wet while you apply the sealant. That spot must have dried too much by the time we got the sealant wiped over the top. It doesn’t stain, and it doesn’t soak up water like the chips do, but it’s not as shiny. So it’s noticeable in certain lights.

#3 – Would I do it again? Absolutely.

This is a fantastic countertop. It looks great, it feels great, and it holds up better than I thought it would. As a matter of fact, if I get enough chips to necessitate a change, I’m planning on doing it again. Tape off the room with plastic, a little (or lot) of sanding, a few more layers, and re-seal. Though I’m guessing I’ve got a while before that will be necessary.

The only thing about this countertop that I can’t do that I wish I could do: run a flat razor blade over the surface to clean hard, crusty bits. I’m pretty sure it would knick the sealant if the blade caught a ding, chip, or other imperfection.

HOWEVER, the project is labor intensive. And takes a significant amount of time. And very messy. (Use the hose or utility sink to clean up, not your kitchen sink, which should be taped off and covered anyway.) And concrete dust will be EVERYWHERE.

Also, this is not a 3 hour project. This is not a one-night project. And if I were you, I’d tape painter’s plastic over entrances, doors, cabinets, etc. to keep the insane amount of dust contained. (Remember the sanding? Lots of sanding.) Be prepared and willing. We weren’t moved-in when we did this, and I am so glad I didn’t have to wipe concrete dust off of belongings in addition to house surfaces and fixtures.

If you don’t have the money for solid countertops like marble, quartz, granite, or even butcher block, I’d suggest this as a great alternative to cover those old laminates. If you didn’t already know, this Ardex treatment is cheap.

I’d also do it if I had older cabinets and didn’t have the money for new countertops and cabinets. Because putting expensive countertops on older cabinets is not a good idea. The counters will likely crack if you later try to take them off to replace your cabinets, and you might just decide on a different cabinet footprint and wouldn’t be able to use your previously installed expensive countertops anyway.

AND… again… we had serial killer countertops. And a tiny budget. What choice did we have?

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Dang, I’m proud of my DIY kitchen remodel. Just wait until I finish adding my tarnished gold pulls to those blue drawers and finish up my crown molding.

For in-depth instructions, visit: Here, Jenny over at LittleGreenNotebook.blogspot.com, and then here, Laura over at ABeautifulMess.com.

So, there you have it, folks. The not-so-ugly ugly truth behind those internet concrete-over-laminate countertops.

AAAAAND NOW, click the photo below to see how these counters are doing 3.5 years after install!

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The Lasering of the HooHas

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Yes, this post is probably too-much-information. But, dear readers, the world needs to be warned.

Hooha SPAANB

Once upon a time, *someone* (eh-ehm) saw a killer Groupon deal for laser hair removal. Though it took some minor sisterly manipulation, she managed to convince her two sisters to join her in an adventure. The three of them then scheduled their appointments for “the lasering of the hoohas.” Yep. Go big or go home.

Each sister had the same procedure, the same number of follow-up visits, and received the same advice and instructions. However, each had a very different experience. In order to protect the not-so-innocent, names will not be assigned to each hilarious tragic mishap. Hopefully our combined lessons-learned will save you from an equally humiliating memory.

If you laser your hooha . . . 

. . . remember that you only need to undress from the waist down. When the technician comes in and seems surprised at your state of complete undress, then has to ask you twice for clarification on what exactly you want lasered, you will eventually realize where you went wrong. In this sister’s defense, there was a modesty towel provided that appeared to be meant for whole torso cover-up, which seemed like enough cover at the time.

If you did indeed strip completely . . .

. . . don’t admit it to your sisters. Who then gossip and giggle about it with their technicians. Like a bunch of nosy old ladies at the hair salon.

If they tell you to shave everything the day before your appointment . . .

. . . they mean EVERYTHING. Because when that laser beams upon a not-quite-so-shaven spot in your nethers that you probably didn’t even know existed, it will hurt like the dickens. The DICKENS, I tell you. You will see stars. Galaxies. Undiscovered universes.

If you have a known skin sensitivity . . . 

. . . mention this to the technician BEFORE you slather on the numbing cream. You might break out in a severe rash. There are other options. Like ice. Or a strip of leather hide between your gritted teeth.

If you think you might have a severe skin reaction . . .

. . . don’t schedule a date for that night. Or any of the next 5 nights. And we come from a traditional, religious family, so this has nothing to do with sex. I’m just talking about normal functioning in front of the opposite gender. Walking, sitting, getting in and out of cars . . . all things that will make you move like the zombie in “Hocus Pocus” if your crotch is on fire. Even with a best-case-scenario and a high tolerance for pain, your date will at the very least think you’re constipated.

If you do have both a severe skin reaction and an unfortunate date planned that night . . .

. . . don’t wear tight pants. This should be common sense. Apparently us sisters aren’t always running on all cylinders in the common sense department.

If you break out in a severe rash . . .

. . . don’t wait 3 days to see the doctor. That’s just 3 days of unnecessary discomfort. “Discomfort” is probably putting it mildly.

If the doctor tells you to put “Di-syn-et? Des-ri-tyme? Da-resi-tin?” on it . . . 

. . . he means Desitin. Which is diaper-rash cream. Which you can buy at the grocery store. Or borrow from your sister’s diaper-bag. But you probably should have asked the doctor to clarify this when you were confused so it didn’t take you an extra day to receive relief.

If you need Desitin, like immediately . . .

. . . find a bathroom to lather yourself. Don’t do it in a car, without tinted windows, in the mall parking lot. Especially with your sister cracking up and making a scene in the next seat.

If you can’t sleep at night because your lady bits are on fire . . . 

. . . try turning up your ceiling fan to full blast and strip down to a half-birthday suit. Then sprawl out on top of your covers. I’ve heard this helps.

And finally, If you did indeed suffer from a severe, toe-curling allergic reaction . . . 

. . . DON’T USE THE DANG NUMBING CREAM AT YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT! It shouldn’t have to take you a few sessions to realize that the cream was your fatal mistake.

So ladies, if you’ve been contemplating taking the Brazilian laser plunge, please take a moment to truly internalize any possible ramifications. Hedge your bets, and prepare.

Maybe pre-purchase some diaper cream. Just in case.