Monday, July 28, 2014

The Six Phases of Home Improvement - Phase I: Super Excited!

Our big home improvement project for this year is a complete kitchen remodel. We're talking new cabinets, counter tops, floors and back splash. This is what we have now.
Galley Kitchen Remodel
Our current kitchen
It's a charming galley kitchen, perfect for the family who designed it in 1942. But we need (OK, want) something a little more functional. 

Our new cabinets have been sitting in our basement since April, waiting for our contractor to clear his schedule. I call him the Old House Magician, and he is well worth the wait.  He arrives tomorrow. Tomorrow! The cabinets come out tomorrow (cue "Annie"). I can hardly believe it. It's finally our turn! 

In anticipation of the big event, our house currently looks like this:
Galley Kitchen Remodel
Our dining room pantry

Galley Kitchen remodel
Our sun room storage area
I cannot wait to get this project underway! Yes, I am in Phase I of Home Improvement: Super Excited! I am living in my Ideal Reality where, with a strike of a hammer, my kitchen will be transported into 2014.

The Real Reality in which I will be without a kitchen for at least a month while home with two 7-year-olds while trying to interview company CEOs for freelance projects has yet to sink in. That's Phase 2 of Home Improvement: What the Hell was I Thinking? 

Stay tuned for that as well as the remaining four phases ... 

Phase 3: Unexpected (aka Expensive) Problems
Phase 4: I Don't Care If It's Not Done. I'm Ready for These People to Get Out of My House.
Phase 5: I Hate Everyone.
Phase 6: It's Beautiful!

Interested in one of our previous home improvement projects? Here's what we tackled in 2012: When Ideal Realty Becomes Real Reality: Home Improvement. I just realized I never posted our 2013 project, which was where the Old House Magician transformed our dungeon in to a third bathroom and a revamped laundry room. Maybe someday I'll at least post pics. 

What are your Phases of Home Improvement? Any tips on surviving? 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Time I Found Swimming Lessons on Craigslist

swimming lessons; craigslist
After five years of swimming lessons, my 7-year-old twins barely have the basics down. This year, they were adamant about not taking lessons. I almost acquiesced, but my own love of the water and my fear of them drowning kept me from caving. It took several meandering Q&A sessions before I got to the root of the problem: They don't care for group lessons. And I can't say I blame them. 

I decided to bite the financial bullet and started searching for private lessons. Except by the time I jumped in, everyone else had been in the water for awhile. All the local facilities were booked. Mamma as instructor was NOT an option.  

I'm an infrequent craigslist user, but on a whim I did a search for swim instructors. I found two within 10 minutes of our house. I reached out to both and ultimately picked one. The gal was willing to wrangle my kids for one hour each week for $20 total. Yes, I had low expectations. After all, you get what you pay for. As the girls and I left for our first visit, I gave my husband the address with explicit instructions to call the police if we didn't return by a specified time.

As it turns out, the girls love the instructor, and with her encouragement they have both taken risks and learned new skills. Are they learning to swim? Not the way I had envisioned, but they have gained confidence and some survival skills. For $20/week, I'll take it. 

The experience has definitely dropped me into the deep end of my comfort zone. Our instructor is super nice, good with the girls, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. But I've had to go with the flow several times and remind myself to keep an open mind. She's a Millennial; I'm a Gen Xer. In many aspects, we are at opposite ends of the pool. She's clad in tattoos, and I'm not. She collects skulls, and I do not. She runs with the Festival crowd (as in Renaissance), and I have no idea what that means. She's ok when her phone dies; I start twitching. She's loosey goosey when it comes to scheduling lessons and returning messages. Me? Hahahahaha. No one will ever describe me as loosey goosey.

Overall, it's been a good experience for all of us. I've enjoyed getting to know her, and I think we'll all be a little sad when the pool season comes to an end. 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Travel & Leisure; Living Vicariously

Viva Wyndham Maya Cancun
Viva Wyndham Maya, Cancun, Mexico
I love traveling pretty much anywhere. I'm addicted to the adventure of wandering new roads and discovering new experiences. I love challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone. (Read about one of those times here.) I'm fascinated by the cultures, customs, foods, dialects and everyday routines of people who live in different places. The possibilities of an open road make me giddy. I am a road trip junkie, although planes, trains and boats are awesome, too.

But I haven't been able to get my travel fix lately, unless you count the 10-minute round trip from my house to Target. Which I do not. I'm feeling a tad cagey. Stuck. In a rut. And that makes me crazy. And cranky. 

To alleviate some of my restlessness, I've been trolling Travel + Leisure's website, The blog, appropriately named Carry On, is a bite size bit of travel yum. I'm going to subscribe to the hard copy so I can drool on the pages and live vicariously through the travel writers who get to go and do. 

Living vicariously will have to do for now because life demands it. I do have a trip planned to Cancun in September that I'm really looking forward to. The pic above is of Viva Wyndham Maya, the resort where I'll be staying. I've never been, so I'm super duper excited, especially because I'm going with some fun friends.

How about you? Is there something you love to do but have to live vicariously through someone or something? Please share.

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real

P.S.  I also drool over the Viking cruise ads on PBS. Check with me in 15 years because that's my timeline for hopping on one of those pleasure rides. Footloose and kid free.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Am I Ready for Hillary?

Ready for Hillary Super PAC
Ready for Hillary
 A couple of weeks back, Hillary Clinton stopped in KC on her Hard Choices book tour. For $40, I got a signed copy of the book, an hour of intelligent and engaging conversation and some time with me, myself and I (bonus!). 

The funny things is, I almost didn't bother with buying a ticket, even though I find HC one of the most fascinating women of my lifetime. Then, my husband pointed out that she could possibly be the next President of the United States. Sold. 

Attending that talk was one of the most exciting adventures I've had in awhile. People of all ages, genders and backgrounds lined the sidewalk outside of The Midland Theatre. A gaggle of  protesters lined the opposite sidewalk. I don't think I've ever been that close to protesters. It was scary, yet exhilarating! And funny. As in, hilarious.

Hillary Clinton protesters
Funny protesters
There is no doubt that HC is intelligent, sharp, wise and a genuine supporter of rights for women and girls around the world. She's also funny. More so than I expected. I can certainly see her as our president. 
But am I ready for Hillary? I don't know. Experiencing a female president in my lifetime would be PHENOMENAL. But it needs to be the right woman, not just a woman. 

I do know one thing: I am ready to educate myself about this possible candidate as well as any other candidates that throw their hats in the ring. 

And that's about as political as I'll get in this space. 

Wherever you are, whatever you're doing ... Keep It Real.