Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Top Ten for Ben

Hey look - I'm a poet (and didn't even "knowit"). Cheesy, but I couldn't resist!

So today my handsome husband is turning 32. He is a wonderful guy, but also the sort of man that is happy to stay in the background. That's probably in part why he married me - he knew I'd been happy to be in the "frontground". He jokes that he married me so he'd have someone to do his talking for him.

Ben and I also recently celebrated our TEN YEAR anniversary! So in honor of this fabulous man that I married, I am going to give you a "Top Ten for Ben" - reasons I love and appreciate this husband o' mine. See what a lucky woman I am???

Top Ten for Ben (in no particular order)

1. He gives the BEST back and shoulder massages in the world. Whenever I've had a long day or I've been sitting at the computer for a while and it's obvious I'm stiff, he'll walk by and stop for a moment and work his finger magic all over my shoulders, back and neck.

2. He's affectionate towards his wife (that's me!) He always wants a hug from me almost as soon as he walks in the door after work. And if he doesn't get one right away, he generally comes in and snags one while I'm fixing dinner.

3. He does housework without complaining when asked.

4. He knows how to sort and pre-spot laundry.

5. He knows all sorts of trivia (i.e. useless) facts about about movies, TV, and the people in them.

6. He can fix a toilet. There are some things in life I just don't want to have to do.

7. He kills bugs for me. My hero!

8. He looks up the TV schedules and tells me when the shows I want to watch will be on.

9. He holds my hand and opens doors for me when we go out on dates.

10. He eats almost anything I cook without complaining. Even that one time I tried grilling unseasoned yellow squash for dinner and it was nasty.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Sexy Man

No, not this one. (He's my handsome man.)

And not this one, either. It's my dog and my dog is a girl.

There he is! And what's he doing might you ask? He's using a wet saw to cut porcelain tile for our bathroom. I just love it when he's a handyman.
And here's the floor he helped tile. Before grouting, anyway.
Niel grouted the floor...
And here's what it looks like so far! White floor, mocha brown grout, beautiful walls. We're almost done!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You Know You're a Mormon When...

...your 9-year old uses words like "proxy" in normal conversation.

Tonight we went out to dinner, and as we were leaving the restaurant the girls and Ben were racing to see who could get buckled up the fastest. Since Kelsey doesn't get to be first much I leaned over and helped her buckle up so she could get first place! She then proceeded to tell me that she won first, Daddy won second, Olivia won third, and Connor won 4th place. That meant I was "The Big L" (loser).

My response to her was that since I had helped her win, I was her "co-winner" then walked around the van to get into my side. Apparently, she didn't like having to share first place, so Daddy said "Kelsey, it's like you're winner 1, and Mommy is winner 1-A." Then Olivia piped up, "Yeah, she's like your proxy."

This, of course, had me rolling. I started laughing and asked her if she knew what proxy meant. Her response, "It's someone that helps you vicariously." Which made me laugh all the harder. "Vicariously" is even longer than "proxy"!

I asked her where she learned that, and she said, "Brother Goolsby taught us." See? They do listen sometimes...

Only a Mormon.

Lemons and Lemonade

This past week has been a very stressful one for me. I have this disease called Takingontomuchitis. It's really a terrible thing to have, and sometimes it does go into remission. At the moment, however, it's in full swing. (Please, Mom & Dad Ervin, no lecturing. I know you do it because you love me, but I already know I shouldn't be getting into this mess!) I have to remember that I am not superwoman, and sometimes, despite my best efforts, things are not going to all go smoothly or easily or even like they are supposed to. And on top of all this, my bathroom project has been one problem after another. And it still isn't done. So. These are my lemons. Now what?

Now is when I tell myself that this has not been a total disaster because I have learned some very important things.
  1. Never undertake a renovation project on an impulse.
  2. Never buy a used vanity top without checking it over carefully with a level. If that puppy is bowed there ain't nuthin' you can do about it.
  3. Never rely on the salesperson to know what you need.
  4. Call your sister-in-law for good advice a week into the project instead of 3-4 weeks into it Said sister-in-law will impart her wisdom, which includes this truth: (aka #5)
  5. "A renovation project will almost always take 3 times as long as cost you 3 times as much as you think it will." Pretty close!
  6. And finally, no one else will be in as much as a hurry as you will to get the job done.

Fortunately for me, there are some other good things coming out of this, also known as lemonade:
  1. My brother Niel and his family are coming up for a long weekend on Friday to help us start over in the bathroom and do it right. I love family visits.
  2. I won't have to live with a bathroom that I hate.
  3. We have been able to get an unfinished vanity that I actually like and vanity top for $100 so it's not going to cost us an exorbitant amount to start over.
  4. I'm actually going to like the look of the new bathroom a whole lot better! (Hope you didn't love the blue and yellow take on it - that's not going to be around much longer!)
  5. I get the added input and decorating talent of my artist sister-in-law who has great taste.

The rest of this week will be spent getting ready for the big overhaul which starts this weekend. Maybe now I can actually focus on getting the rest of my house in order and decorated!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


There are few things at heartwarming to me as a mom as watching my kids "mother" each other. This afternoon my sweet Olivia taught her younger sister to ride her bike without training wheels. Olivia has recently graduated to a "grown up bike" and has been practicing in the backyard learning to ride it. That way if she falls, it's grass and she doesn't get hurt. (Yes, it is still slightly a little big for her - she does great, though.) So of course Kelsey wanted to practice riding with no training wheels. I tried to teach her last fall and we just couldn't get it. But today, Olivia got out there with Kelsey and her old bike and showed her how it was done. If I still had video capability on my camera, you'd have gotten a video, but the camera is starting to go. Maybe this year Ben and I will get ourselves a nice camera for Christmas... But anyway, here's the still shots of the process.
Kelsey getting on the bike.

Getting ready to take off...

...and there she goes!

All by herself.


Look at the pudgy little baby! So cute and squishy in his lion costume, right?

This is what is underneath. See those ribs?

Connor loves being naked in his diaper (it doesn't happen often). I was looking at him running around tonight and realized all over again that I only have skinny babies. I don't get fat rolls, or pudgy knees, or anything like that! Long and skinny. Too bad it's not contagious!

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Dog and a Boy

I've gotten some cute pictures lately that I wanted to share.

Every afternoon we walk up to the elementary school to get the girls. There's a grassy spot where all the parents of "walkers" wait, and if we are there early enough, Connor insists on getting out of his stroller to play. This is usually what he ends up doing.
Try as he might, he can't figure out how to get the blasted thing back together. But he does enjoy trying!

His other favorite thing to do outside is hang out on our back patio. There's a broom out there from when we were sweeping it last Saturday after Ben mowed. It was never put back out in the shed, and Connor's favorite thing to do is housework. (Yes, I'm training him early!)

He would stay out there for hours sweeping the porch if I would let him!

Our newest addition seems to be adjusting to life with the Ervins pretty well. She loves to walk with us to take the girls to school and pick them up, too. The trickiest part is teaching her not to hog the sidewalk.

And while we wait at the school, she's busy doing things that dogs like to do.

She also loves to hang out in our backyard while Connor sweeps.

And she climbs willingly into her crate every night to sleep. She's so well-behaved in the house, we trust her enough to leave the door open at night. Good for you, Trixie!

Hello There, Little Fella!

Look what I saw outside my sliding glass door this morning!

He was stuck between the screen and the glass. Fortunately for him, once he crawled off the screen part I opened it all the way so he could find his way out.

I've never seen one before, but I'll bet you a million bucks this is called a "leaf bug".

It Ain't Ever Easy...

When I got up this morning, this is what I saw in my kitchen. Yep. It's a 1965 dishwasher - the original one installed in this house at construction. Fortunately for us, it broke - permanently - right after we moved in. And I expected to have it gone by 2:00 this afternoon, seeing as how the installers for the NEW dishwasher called yesterday and told me to expect them between 10 and 2. Fast forward to 11:00 am this morning. They came, they looked, they left my new dishwasher on my front porch and they left. You see, they are just delivery men. They aren't plumbers or anything like that, and wouldn't you know it that this dishwasher is hardwired in? That means it's wired directly to the electrical system - no plug. And there's no shut-off valve for the water, either, which means a plumber is going to have to install the new dishwasher. Fortunately, this is all still covered by American Home Warranty.

As Ben so aptly said, "Oh well, at least we don't have to pay for it." Well said, honey-bunches. And you get what you pay for.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Here we are, a month into another school year at yet another school for Olivia and Kelsey. Although Kelsey has not had much difficulty at all in adjusting to a new school (who does when it's Kindergarten??), Olivia has not acclimated quite as quickly and easily. Welcome to fourth grade.

Part of the problem has been (I think) that of the 22 kids in her class, only 8 are girls. That limits your friend possibilities when you're nine and you are starting to think that boys are goofy and gross. (At least, that is all you will admit to thinking about them.) Another challenge has been that there is no real socializing time in school by the time you get to 4th grade except during recess. When you don't know anyone and haven't talked to anyone in class, it's a lot harder to know who to play with during recess if you are new and don't know anyone.

About 2 weeks into the school year, Olivia asked me if she could be home-schooled again. We did it for about 3/4 of her 2nd grade year in South Carolina, and it was something she seemed to enjoy. Although I am not opposed to the idea of homeschooling her, I wanted to make sure she was interested for the right reasons. If it was just to get out of working so hard, there was no way I was going to give her an easy out. In the course of our conversations over the next few days (which I will not relate in detail here to protect her privacy), it came out that she had not yet made any friends and was having to play alone at recess every day.

As a mom, this really bugged me. I want my kids to feel loved, wanted, and appreciated. The last thing I want to do is feel like I'm feeding them to the wolves when I send them to school. Although I can't protect them from these things for the rest of their lives, I think elementary school is one of those places where it just isn't necessary. So I came to the conclusion that I was willing to enroll Olivia in the Oklahoma Virtual Academy, which is still technically public school but completed at home on the computer and would enable me to "home-school" Olivia without having to stress out over curriculum at the last minute.

But then something wonderful happened. The kids had off the Monday and Tuesday of that week from school for teacher training, and when she went back to school on Wednesday she got to go to something called "The New Kids Club" at her school. It is where all the new kids in a particular grade have lunch together with the school guidance counselor. And that's where it finally began. Olivia started making friends with another girl in her class. And from there, with another girl. And another girl not in her class, but in the "club". Now my little social butterfly is starting to bring home classwork that she isn't getting done because she was too busy talking to her work partner as school. I'm glad to see she is finally making friends and getting adjusted, but how I wish she could find a middle ground that didn't involve so much chatter! I guess the apple doesn't fall very far...

So, Olivia and I have decided that she will stay in school this year with Kelsey. Here's to hoping for a great year!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Our Growing Family

Today was a big day! We have always planned to expand our family once we bought a house here in Oklahoma. I had such a hard time parting with our dogs in South Carolina, and still feel guilty for not bringing them with us, even though I know it was what we needed to do. Therefore, we didn't want to get any more pets until we were sure we could give them a "forever" home.

For the past weeks, Ben has been scouring and occasionally sending me links. This past week he got lucky. There was this one dog that captured my heart. So yesterday Connor and I went to Yukon (about 30 minutes away) to meet her while the girls were in school and Ben was working. She stole my heart in about 2 seconds! She's a pretty mellow dog, and a mix between a Brittany Spaniel and a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog). Ben wanted to get the whole family together to go pick her up to make sure it was the right choice before bringing her home. So this afternoon, we headed out.

We had some varied reactions in the car on the way to the shelter:

Olivia couldn't stop grinning...
Connor took a nap...
Ben didn't want his picture taken...
And Kelsey thought the trip was taking too long.
Once we got there, the rest of the family fell in love, too. So we decided to bring her home. The car ride home was a lot more exciting!

This is apparently her favorite position. She loves a good belly scratch!
The name the shelter had given her was "Sundance", but once we got her home we felt like she didn't like it very much. So of course we had to pick a new one. We came up with a few suggestions to see which she liked most and let the girls be the judge.

So what's her name?

She's not the only one enjoying her new digs, either...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When I Work...

... I work hard.

When I play... I play hard.

When I think... I fall asleep.

Someone got up early this morning...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So you know how I said Ben wasn't feeling good on Saturday (conveniently) while I was busy unpacking? He apparently legitimately had a stomach bug of some sort, because he gave it to me. And apparently, he had picked it up from someone at work last week. Phooey. And because I was so stressed out from the moving stuff, my immune system was weakened and I got it good yesterday. I started feeling bad around 8:30 before taking the kids to school, and by 11:15 I had put Connor down for a nap and gone to bed myself. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stay away more than about 30-45 minutes straight for the rest of the day, so I basically slept from 11:15 am yesterday to about 6:15 this morning with some minor interruptions. And though Connor did demolish the family room around me yesterday, he couldn't actually do any damage to himself while I was dropping in and out of consciousness. And then because I barely ate (or drank) anything yesterday, I almost passed out in the shower twice this morning! What were the chances??

I think I've caught up on my sleep now.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Isn't this the most beautiful rose you've ever seen? We have this huge rose bush behind our house, and it is laden with fragrant blossoms. I love visiting the roses whenever I go outside. I believe we have about 4 rose bushes. This home was purchased in 1965 brand new by a couple that lived here and took great care of the home until they both passed away. Then a young couple bought the house last year and lived here just 14 months. They got a job in another state and sold the house to us. I love this home already. In spite of my great frustration with myself and others about the still unfinished bathroom (which I won't talk about tonight) I am so grateful we purchased this home. And a month from now when we're moved in, settled, and established and this is all becoming a distant memory, I'll be even more happy.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Good Times

It was our first full day at the new house, and MOST of us were having good times. Okay, the kids were having good times. I was unpacking and organizing, and on the phone with AT&T and didn't even get to brush my teeth or shower until after 3:30. Part of that was due to the box with the toothbrushes getting left at the old apartment, but Ben did go get it sometime this morning. By the time he got back I was working full-steam ahead and didn't take time to stop or eat until about 3:00. And what was Ben doing after he got back? Let's just say he looked something, like this:

In his defense, he did the best he could. He woke up sick this morning for some reason. Didn't he know that I needed him in tip-top shape today?? Fortunately (and conveniently) he's feeling somewhat better this evening and will probably be back to his normal chipper self in the morning. (Ha! Can you really imagine Ben "chipper"? I'm laughing out loud at that one!)

But we did have a wonderful event today. We picked the first watermelon from our garden and cut it open! And there's like 5 or 6 more out there growing. Wow... they have just taken off!

The girls posing with the watermelon.
Isn't it just gorgeous? Are you jealous, Gwen?
I made the kids go outside to eat it - NOT on the patio. You've got to drip in the grass, girls - I don't want ants! (Don't worry, they didn't eat alone - I joined them!)
After sharing my piece(s) of watermelon outside, Connor got a little of his own in the jail chair.

And as for the state of the house in general, it's getting there! The room that is the MOST complete is Connor's. This is the first time I've really been able to put his toys in his room since we're not in a townhouse anymore. The little guy loves being able to play in his own room! And his momma loves letting him do it. Happy day!

We're In - Sort Of...

Well, after all is said and done, we are moved into our new house. For the record, I have come to the conclusion that I hate moving and if I have to do it I'd much rather pack everything into neatly labeled boxes, rent one big truck and move it all in one day. This taking a week or so is for the birds. Instead of being really worn out for one or two days, I'm running full throttle for 8! By the time we actually move, I'm running on fumes. Last night (Friday) we moved the rest of our stuff into the new house. Here are a few pictures of what my house looked like when I went to bed:

In spite of all the mess, we were very fortunate to have some friends from church that made our move go so much smoother! Friends brought over dinner on Thursday and Friday, and then we were able to farm out our other kids to friends on Friday night for the actual move. Add to this the friends that showed up and helped us actually load and unload the stuff, and Travis who has been working on our bathroom (more on that in a minute) and we've been very, very blessed in this move! Which is great, because all we have here are friends - our families are so far away!

So, the bathroom. Note to self: next time just go to Home Depot to buy the bathroom vanity. I won't bore you with all the details, but let's just say I bought a vanity top that was the right size but needed new hardware. Then I was sold (I didn't pick it out!!) a vanity that was almost 4 inches smaller in depth. Fortunately, Travis can fix the gap problem we will have behind the vanity, but unfortunately that won't happen until Monday. So as of today, my "project bathroom" has a working tub/shower and commode. The sink and floor will be done on Monday at which time I will post some lovely "after" pictures, I promise!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What I Did Today

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I tend to bite off a little more than I can chew at one time. Of course, if I had more time I really could handle it all...

Our new house needs a little updating. In this case, let's talk about the main bathroom. When we bought the house it had this brown shag carpet on the floor, which just had to come up. I think carpeted bathrooms are unsanitary. So all along we had planned to do a quick fix for the bathroom floor. Simple and easy. Then I went to Habitat for Humanity's Renovation Station store last Saturday. I came home with a bathroom vanity and ceramic top. I thought to myself, "Self, you could replace a bathroom vanity - there's nothing to it! Just screws, nails, and glue. And you have to disconnect the pipes, but how hard can it be?"

You see where I'm going with this, right? I couldn't even figure out how to turn off the water to the house! Fortunately, there's a guy we know from church... so he's going to do the actual vanity-replacing part Tuesday night and I get to focus on the stuff I really love: painting and decorating. This was my project for today (in my mind it's still Monday because I haven't been to bed yet.)

As you can see in this picture, the girls and I already pulled out the carpet started taking up the old tiles. At 11:30 this morning, this is what I started with.

Less than 2 hours later, I had taken up the floor tiles, removed the towel rack and mirrors, stripped the bulk of the wallpaper, sanded the walls, taken the door off it's hinges, and scraped off the rest of the floor tiles. Oh, and I removed the shoe molding and the splash guard, too.

This is what the floor looked like after all my sanding. As a funny side note, when I got in the van to leave I noticed that my nose hairs were all white and coated with wallpaper shavings. Real attractive...

By 2:30 I had painted 2 coats of oil-based primer on the walls and paneling. I have come to the conclusion that I hate oil-based anything. It doesn't come off. No, I'm not going gray... I bent over to dip my brush and my head hit the freshly painted wall! How am I going to get THAT out??

After working on other things with the family this evening, I went back over to work on the bathroom. I got there about 9:00 and by 9:40 I had painted the paneling and realized that I needed a new plan for the top half of the room. So off to Walmart I went! Fortunately, I found the most ADORABLE bathroom decor to use and picked another color of paint to go with my lovely shade of bright blue. I was back to painting by 10:30 and by 11:30, I had finished for the night.

Here is the same bathroom (with wet paint!) 12 hours later. Just wait till the new vanity goes in tomorrow!! Then I just have to touch up paint, tile the floor, and rehang the mirrors and towel racks. I can't wait...