Friday, February 27, 2009

Investing in Heaven

"Then Peter answered and said to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?" So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life." - Matthew 19:28-29.

Peter was asking a fair question here. He and the rest of the apostles had taken everything they owned, all their assets, and had made a huge investment. This was not in the Jerusalem stock market, either. They didn't have a diverse portfolio. They invested everything in the Kingdom of heaven. So logically, Peter asked, "What shall we have?" In other words, what was in it for them? What were they getting out of their investment? Jesus' answer blows me away: they would become CEO's in the Kingdom, receive a hundredfold for their investment, AND inherit eternal life to enjoy the dividends in. Think about that: receive a hundredfold for your investment. That's like saying you invest $1,000 and receive in return $1,000,000. Not bad, huh? If the New York stock market were that secure, this country would be made up of nothing but multi-millionaires and billionaires. Forget poverty; it would be non-existant. Life would be so much easier and enjoyable.

But let's face it: the situation in this country and worldwide is far from this idyllic scenario. Unemployment is racing out of control. People are losing homes, businesses are shutting down, and the government is scrambling to find a solution that may well take a decade to work. So many have lost money that they'd invested in stocks, bonds, IRA's, 401K's and such. It's saddest for those who were getting ready to retire, and now find that their nest egg isn't what they'd hoped it would be by this time in their lives. So much for the "golden years". The truth is, there is no secure investment in the world we live in. We can have much today, and have it all taken away in a nano-second. We work hard, save our money, try to be good stewards of what we have, but it's no guarantee. And of course, once we die, it all gets left behind.

Now let's take a look at Jesus' proposal. Invest in the Kingdom of heaven, and He promises us this: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:20). That sounds pretty secure. The treasures we invest in heaven can't be taken away from us. Even the most conservative stocks can't promise that. Then of course there's the hundredfold dividend. Yeah, I like that one alot! And eternal life. Only the One who defeated death can offer that. It's the most sound investment to date.

And it gets better! We can invest in the Kingdom now, knowing what we put in is secure in heaven, but we don't have to wait to get to heaven to start enjoying the interest payments! The more we put into our Kingdom account, the more blessings we receive here on earth. Get others to invest with Jesus Christ, and your own account will grow too. It's a win-win situation!

So, take a look at your spiritual portfolio. Where's your investment? Have you put much into it? It's never too late to invest in God's Kingdom. He will open an account to whomever asks for one. What are the requirements? Well, you have to admit that you're a sinner and recognize you need Jesus in your life. Then, name Him your Heavenly Stock Broker. Give it all to Him: your material possessions (which, by the way, belong to Him anyway), your time, your energy, your heart. His returns are guaranteed forever. Can Wall Street promise you that?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Angels from above

I don't believe in coincidences. I believe God puts us in certain places, at certain times, with certain people, so that He can bless us. He's done this for me time and time again, and He's done it for me yet again.

I'm leading a women's bible study group on Fridays. We get to discuss God's word, have fellowship, pray for one another, and draw from each other. I've done this now for 6 seasons, and I'm glad to be able to do it again. In my group this spring is a dear lady and her 2 daughters. CC happens to be a teacher in my county. I told her about the troubles I'm having with E and that I need to get him tested for a learning disability but am getting no cooperation from his teachers or the school, so I would probably need to get him tested independently. Well, God showed me why He put this wonderful woman in my group. "Arlene," she said to me, "you as a parent have rights which teachers are discouraged from telling you about, but I'm going to tell you. You have the right to request testing for your son, AND you are entitled to get him tested independently, free of charge. Don't pay for outside testing; you pay your taxes, therefore the county must pay for his tests." Now, as I'd mentioned before, the cheapest psychologist I'd found charges $1,200 to have testing done. I went to the Dade County school's website, and searched until I found the Parent Resource Guide. There I found that indeed, I have the legal right to have my child tested if I feel he needs special instruction, and if I disagree with the findings I have the right to a free of charge independent evaluation. I've informed both the teacher and the guidance counselor that I'm aware of my legal rights, which of course they can't deny, and the teacher has now referred me to the school psychologist (I think she's a psychologist; not sure, but the teacher said it's the person who does the testing). I left her a message and am waiting for her call back so I can see about having E tested before March 10 which is when FCAT exams start.

I'm so thankful to the Lord for providing CC, who has no idea how much she has helped me with just a simple phrase. Praise God for His goodness, and bless CC for her kind guidance. Praying for a quick response!

It's Finished!!!

I'm happy to announce the bathroom remodel is D-O-N-E done! And it turned out beautifully! Won't you join me for a tour?
Upon entering the bathroom, it is easy to appreciate the colors in the tile, and the sage green bathroom curtain. I bought a new curtain because the previous curtain, though also lovely, has tie-backs that would need to somehow be, well, tied back. I tried several methods but to no avail, and I refuse to drill holes into the tiles to put in a hook, so I got this curtain at Target. It works with the swag from the previous curtain and matches the colors of my other accessories.

Ah, the commode area. Whenever I look at this I laugh. So much time, energy, and resources go into designing a bathroom, yet we all know what it'll be ultimately used for. Come on, you MUST be able to see the humor in that, can't you? The picture on the wall was in our living room for years, until I was given a picture that hung in my office at work that matched the furniture perfectly. I had this picture of orchids put away, and remembering that it was in my closet, hung it on the wall and voila! Like it was meant to be there.

Here's the vanity that took the longest to get finished. My brother-in-law built it from a drawing and picture I gave him. I think it turned out gorgeous, especially the color which looks nice with the granite and the rest of the colors. The granite slab is the one we were offered for $100. The owner had it cut for one of his customers on Fisher Island who then cancelled, so we were able to get it for a great price. It has all the colors in the bathroom so it matches perfectly.

Here's a better view. I think the bathroom turned out more like a luxury spa than a master bath. I'm so pleased with the end result. Now we need to do bathroom #2. This will happen in about 3 weeks. My daughter is due home for spring break, and 5 people sharing one bathroom can be catastrophic, so we'll wait till she goes back to school before we tackle the next project. Till then I'll enjoy the cleanliness of my home!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Challenges of Parenthood

My youngest son was quite a surprise. Our 2 older children were 12 and 9 when I found out I was expecting. It came as a shock, especially since we were trying not to have any more children. Although I love children as does my husband, another c-section was not something I looked forward to. But this child has been a blessing from day one. He's 9 years old now, and he is a joy to be around. He's funny, cheerful, compassionate, and loving. He always wants to help. He makes friends easily and talks to just about anyone (unlike Mom who quite the introvert). He's been an easy child to raise except in one aspect: school.

Now understand, my son E is an intelligent little boy. He's articulate, curious, willing to learn. His math skills are strong. But when it came to reading, it seemed that E just could not progress. I couldn't understand it, either. My 2 older kids are avid readers, and so am I. He loved having any of us read to him, would follow us around with a book if we didn't. And he learned his alphabet and sounds at what appeared to be a normal pace for a 5 year old. So I couldn't understand why reading was such a chore. His first grade teachers would give the kids a list of 25 words per quarter that they needed to learn to read on sight. Simple words like the, and, it, as, if, and then longer words like this and that. He struggled to learn these words, and although we went over them regularly it was as if he would just forget. His first grade problems I justified with, "He's just getting started, once he gets it he'll catch up." But second grade proved to be more challenging. His handwriting was atrocious, though his older brother & sister had had similar problems and had worked them out. Still, there were times he was getting failing grades simply because the teacher could not read his work. I met with his teachers by the third quarter when his SAT scores came in. He was in the 76 percentile for math, which was acceptable, but only in the 26 percentile in reading. I asked if he might have some sort of learning disability. One of his teachers said she thought his problem was that he was easily distracted, and I might want to discuss this with his doctor. I was totally against the idea of medicating my son for ADHD because I knew for sure he wasn't hyperactive, and while he may not pay attention to things that bored him, he was very intent on those things that interested him. I felt we just needed to help him get focused. He started working once a week with a tutor, and I bought him some workbooks to study during summer vacation. By the time he started the third grade his reading grade was a B.

I met with his teachers before the end of the first marking period in October. His reading grade had already slipped to a D average. I had watched him carefully and could see signs that indicated he might be dyslexic. I discussed this with his teacher, pointing out that he had b-d confusion, and that he had trouble reading and remembering what he'd read. His teacher's response was, "That's very typical in children his age. We just need him to practice more at home." Foolishly I let the teacher convince me that if we got him to read more he would progress. The amount of frustration we both experienced was immeasurable. There were times I just had to walk away and ask my older son to help E with his homework because I felt I was going nowhere fast. Sitting with him to read a simple first grade book would take an hour or more, never mind the chapter books he was supposed to be reading. I would push him to try harder, and I could see that he was, but instead of progressing it was like we'd hit a brick wall. I began mentioning to my daughter that I really believed he might be dyslexic, and my fear that he wouldn't pass the FCAT. FCAT is the Florida Comprehensive Apptitude Test which students take in the third grade. A failing grade on the FCAT means he won't pass to the fourth grade. My daughter had just started a biology class and was studying learning disorders. I went down the list of things I'd noticed in E, and she told me, "Mom, he is a textbook case. He's dyslexic. You need to talk to the teacher about this." Just as she and I were discussing this, E's teacher called to have a parent/teacher conference. She began to show me his work. Spelling: words that they go over the entire week, my son cannot spell. Words like "laundering", he spells "luondering". Letters get left out or are in jumbled order. This is typical of dyslexic children. His handwriting continues to be an issue. I told her point blank, "When can my son be tested for a learning disability? Because what you show me are classic signs of dyslexia." His math teacher then jumped in and said, "Oh, but his math score has gone down also." Of course, upon questioning her, she admitted the math they were doing was all reading, not numbers, so of course his score was suffering. Yet once again the teachers tried to make it seem as though he just needs more focus, more practice, more reading time. I finally was able to convince his teacher to seek testing for him, only to have her tell me it won't be done this year due to a backlog of children that need all types of testing. As you can imagine, this did not go well with me.

I went online and found this website dedicated to dyslexia. As I read all the symptoms associated with dyslexia, I just sobbed. My son has an overwhelming amount of symptoms that apparently his teacher cannot see because in a classroom of 40 children many times these things get lost. (I told his teacher this, and I don't think she took it well. I wasn't being rude, just honest). So now I'm on a mission. I've called the school counselor and am pushing for testing. He called a few minutes ago and said he'd spoken to E's teachers who don't believe E needs to be tested. I made it clear that I strongly disagree with them, and that if I need to get outside testing will the county reimburse me? You see, I've gotten a price from a psychologist, and testing costs $1,200. I will pay it if I have to, but as I'm not currently working it would be a hardship for us. It's the reason I'm pressuring the school to do the testing instead. I'm extremely upset at his teachers, who are NOT psychologists yet think my child is perfectly fine despite their own records which prove otherwise. If you find it in your heart to include us in your prayers I will be forever grateful. I know God has a plan for my son, and I also know He gave me this precious little boy so that I can raise him, train him up, and do the very best I can for him. I'm not going to let God down. I will do whatever it takes to get my son the help he needs so he can fulfill God's purpose for his life.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, February 23, 2009
Outside my window...a bit overcast. Hopefully we'll receive some much needed rain. Weather's been in the 60's to 70's range.
I am thinking...about my youngest son who is a poster child for dyslexia but his teacher doesn't seem to agree. I need to take care of this, and now.
I am thankful...for the friends God has put in my life. They're not only good listeners, they help direct me and encourage me in my life and walk with the Lord.
From the learning rooms...I had a conference with E's teacher last Monday. I finally was able to convince her that my son needs to be tested for dyslexia, but she indicated that, although she would put the paperwork in, testing wouldn't happen until next school year. This is unacceptable. Some wonderful ladies in my church who are also teachers have steered me in the direction I need to go to get this resolved quickly.
From the kitchen...pork tenderloin in one crock pot, Puertorican style pea soup in another. I love crock pot cooking!
I am wearing...lime green t-shirt, green khaki capris, flip-flops, and I left my hair curly because I need to get it colored. My natural hair color is black but I don't appreciate the white highlights that have invaded it after I turned 40, so I color it auburn.
I am creating...not in a creative state of mind currently. Got too much other stuff going on.
I am probably make another trip to Target to get a shower curtain. I'm not liking the one I have right now.
I am reading...1 Samuel for morning devotions, still on Matthew for S.O.A.P. devotions, chapter 3 of Really Bad Girls of the Bible and trying to finish up The Case for Faith.
I am hearing...nothing but the hum of the computer. It's really quiet.
I am hoping...that my husband gets out of jury duty. He had to report today and it causes him all kinds of stress because he's the only one working (my son has a part-time job but that pretty much pays for his expenses). I'm also hoping my brother-in-law will get here today and finish the bathroom vanity.
Around the house...the normal stuff, cleaning bathrooms, do some laundry, but really the house is pretty tidy.
One of my favorite turning my house into a home. I like our home to be our family's sanctuary.
A few plans for the rest of the week: I'm going to make an appointment with the school councelor about getting E tested before FCAT exams, also see about independent testing. Awana on Wednesday, small groups on Friday. Don't have much else planned, but God can change that when I least expect it.
Here's a picture thought I'm sharing: actually, I'll have more pics later in the week as we wrap up bathroom remodeling. I think it's going to look spectacular!
To join in the fun, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook. Have a blessed week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bathroom Progress

We aren't done yet with the bathroom redo, but we're alot closer than we were 2 weeks ago, which is a good thing. Here's where the work stands so far:

As you can see, the showerhead is on the floor, where obviously it doesn't do us much good. The tiles were sealed by yours truly, and we were able to start using the shower, but I quickly realized the showerhead was leaking from the wall no less. Hubby took the whole thing apart so it could be tightened, but we ran into a problem.
My darling husband doesn't know his own strength. After taking the whole thing apart he realized there was no pipe tape on this connector piece. He taped it, but when he tried to tighten it, this is as far as it went. Problem was, it was so tight he couldn't get it off either. It would've been funny if he hadn't gotten so frustrated with it. He did the smart thing, though: he walked away. This afternoon he came home and fixed it. It's all better now.

The walls have been painted, also by me. The color is called Taupe Tapestry. I would describe it as the chocolate filling in a Three Musketeers bar. It's a rich yummy color and gives the bathroom class.

This is the beginning of the vanity (with the shower curtain draped over it; I had to take it down so hubby could work on the showerhead). The drawers and doors are due today. Then my brother-in-law is taking the granite countertop along with the sink and faucets to a friend of his who will make the openings and then bring it over to install. After that, we're done!! At least with this bathroom. Praise God, we have enough money left over to redo the small bathroom also, though this time my hubby and his brother will do the tile work. Hubby isn't totally pleased with the work done by our tile man. He's too much of a perfectionist, I think, and he notices every tiny flaw, but that's a good thing too. I'm sure he'll do an excellent job in our second bathroom.
My plans were to go tile shopping today, but I had to get the house cleaned up. There was dust everywhere, and I just couldn't stand it any longer. I did major cleaning, especially floors, and now I can relax in my home. Tomorrow is our first small group meeting, which I pray will be a blessing to all who attend. It's something I need, too. Decorating the house and making it a home is great, but fellowshipping with friends and drawing closer to God, well, that's just plain awesome!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook - February 16, 2009

For today, February 16, 2009
Outside my window...cloudy, cool, looks like it might rain. Of course it started out that way yesterday and turned into a scorcher. Have to wait and see what develops.
I am thinking...about my friends who lost their father yesterday. He's with the Lord now but they are still sad.
I am thankful for...the hope we have in Christ. Knowing that one day we will be together with our loved ones again makes death more bearable.
From the learning rooms...have a parent/teacher conference tomorrow. Doesn't look too good. E's reading score is still low. We'll be working on a project for Black History Month today. E chose to do his report on Jackie Robinson, so we'll be reading about him.
From the kitchen...I was going to make chicken parmegiana today, but there's so much ham left it would be terrible to let it go to waste. I'll make home-made pizza for lunch and we'll have ham at dinner time.
I am wearing...a very ratty t-shirt, old jean capris, and I'm barefoot. Painting the bathroom ceiling today, so I don't want to ruin any of my good clothes.
I am creating...the design for bathroom #2. That's next once we finish the master bath.
I am paint the master bathroom, or at least the ceiling. I like painting, but ceilings are hard and cumbersome, so I may not have time to do walls also.
I am reading...Judges for my morning devotions, still working on Matthew for my S.O.A.P. devotions, and almost done with The Case for Faith. I'm already on the third chapter of Really Bad Girls of the Bible and small groups haven't started yet.
I am youngest son playing in the family room. No school on President's Day.
Around the house...I've got about 3 loads of laundry to do today, painting, and tidying up the kitchen. The house is a mess because I've been so busy cleaning and sealing the bathroom tiles I haven't had time to focus on anything else. Hopefully that'll change soon.
One of my favorite my son coming over periodically to shower me with kisses. Not because he wants anything from me, just because he loves to kiss his mommy.
A few plans for the rest of the week: our worship leader, who is also our youth pastor, and his sister, who is children's ministry director and one of my very dearest friends, said goodbye to their father yesterday as he went to be with Jesus. Their father was a pastor at a Spanish speaking church in one of the low income neighborhoods in Miami. They're a large family who know the Lord and are very close, which is good during this time. Tonight is the viewing and the service which I hope to attend. Parent/teacher conference tomorrow, Awana & Bible study on Wednesday, Thursday I'll most likely be tile shopping again, Friday is our first small groups meeting, and Saturday is our wedding anniversary. Busy week!
Here is a prayer request I'm sharing: pray for those who lose a loved one and have no hope. Ask that we take the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. It may be the only time they're willing to listen.
To join in the fun, visit Peggy at
Have a blessed week!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day Six - Tiling is done!

And it looks absolutely amazing! Won't you come into my lovely master bathroom? Well, it's not completed, but we're so much closer than we were yesterday!
Walking into the bathroom, you can immediately appreciate the dust that is still settling on the floor. I've spent the morning cleaning it with water & vinegar. This was right after the workers were done, so the cleaning hadn't started, just a quick sweep.

The faucet wall. This gave me the biggest headache of all. Originally I'd selected beautiful faucets and showerhead in a Tuscan bronze finish which would have worked perfectly with the colors in the bathroom. Unfortunately, because there is a concrete wall behind what you see here, the plumbing needed to put in the new style of faucets would have required breaking the concrete so the fittings could fit, and that wasn't a financial option. So I took all the bronze stuff I'd bought and tearfully exchanged them for models that would fit in our bathroom, in a brushed nickel. Not my first choice, but not ugly either. Well, when the contractor went to install them, the face plate for the faucet was the wrong size. It had a different type of installation. Back to Lowe's I went. When the salesman saw the face plate I had, he looked at it strangely and asked, "Have you tried Home Depot?" That worried me. It's not like I was at Macy's during Miracle on 34th Street. Anyway, they didn't have what I needed, so sure enough I went to Home Depot. The salesman there also looked at the piece funny, and said he'd never seen a face plate cut the way mine was. It's either a special order or discontinued. He suggested a plumbing supply store. Ugh!! So in the meantime the old faucets are in, the new showerhead is installed, and they don't match. This disturbs me greatly. It has been my one remodeling nightmare.

Here's the wall facing the faucets. I totally love the design! The marble is a chocolate brown with veining the same tan color as the tiles. It has a real custom look.

Our toilets are back! Hubby and I are debating whether to replace the toilet paper holder and towel rack above it. He thinks they're just fine. I want them replaced to match the showerhead. He has one good point: behind both of them is a cement wall, and once they're out that's it, we're stuck with whatever we find. Still, the hardware should be cohesive. Don't men understand how important this is?!

Ah, the vanity area. Still drawing a blank here. Actually, my brother-in-law came today to take the measurements and the design drawing, along with a color sample, and we should have the cabinet finished by Monday. Then we need to make a decision about the vanity top. A business associate of our contractor brought us a sample of a slab of granite he has, and it's stunning. It's from a job he was going to do but it got cancelled. He's willing to sell it to us for $100, which of course is a steal, but we'd have to pay someone to install it and cut out the holes for the sink & faucets. That's an additional $250. We saw a complete vanity top at Lowe's in cultured marble that also matches and it costs $209. Just one problem with the Lowe's vanity top: it's ugly. At least I think it is, Hubby thinks it looks just fine. So that's going to be another issue come next week.

Well, back to cleaning. There's still a ton of dust everywhere, and it's irritating our allergies. But each time I look inside my bathroom, I sigh. It won't be long now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day Five - Starting to take shape

Lots of progress yesterday. A good 80% of the tile is done. Here's what's been done so far:

Walking into the bathroom, all the floor tiles are down. Base trim is being put in today.
This is where the vanity will go. We tiled all the way to the back. I'd like a more open bottom on the vanity, but even if we don't go with that I prefer the tile to go throughout in case we decide to change something in the future.

The toilet area. This was major bone of contention with hubby yesterday. I had instructed the tile man to cut the large 16X16 tiles in half and use those as base trim. Since I'd measured (read: estimated) that the tile trim that was already on the wall was 8" tall, I figured this would be a perfect fit. Wrong! The original tile trim was almost 11" tall, and now it looks as though the tile work is unfinished. Normally this would get sanded and painted, no big deal. However, we have textured walls. Even if we tried to texture just the bottom, it would be obvious that it was done after the rest of the walls and would look awful. In the end I ran back to the tile store and got 12X12 marble tiles to go over the base trim that's already there. It isn't the exact match of the marble in the tub area; it's the same color but has much less veins. Still, it was $2.99 per tile as opposed to $6.29 for the marble I'd already purchased, and it's similar enough that it can pass.

Here's inside the tub area. Notice large tiles on bottom, small tiles on top above marble trim. I decided to go with all square design because a) it's cheaper than putting them in diamond form, and b) I like symmetry. This keeps the design much more symmetrical.
Here's a close-up of the wall. We had the tile man cut a few pieces of the marble into 4X4 squares to include them randomly within the smaller tiles. Well, not so random. Remember, symmetry. The design on the one wall will mirror the design on the opposite wall, and above the glass block window there will be 3 marble tiles in one row to balance everything out.
I really believe this is going to look spectacular. Hubby wasn't so sure in the beginning, but now that so much of the tile has been put down he's starting to see my vision and he's liking it. Today the balance of the tiles should be laid, then grouting can begin. We're starting to see it all come together! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Got this from I laughed so hard! Hope you do too.

In 1997, Reeve Lindbergh, daughter of aviator Charles Lindbergh, was invited to give the annual Lindbergh address at the Smithsonian Institution's Air & Space Museum to commemorate the 70th anniversary of her father's heroic solo flight across the Atlantic. On the day of the speech, museum officials invited her to come early, before the facility opened, so that she could have a close-up look at The Spirit of St. Louis, the little plane suspended from the museum ceiling that her father had piloted from New York to Paris in 1927.

That morning in the museum, Reeve and her young son, Ben, eagerly climbed into the bucket of a cherry-picker, a long-armed crane that carried them upward until the plane was at eye level and within their reach. Seeing the machine that her father had so bravely flown across the sea was an unforgettable experience for Reeve. She had never touched the plane before, and that morning, 20 feet above the floor of the museum, she tenderly reached out to run her fingers along the door handle, which she knew her father must have grasped many times with his own hand.

Tears welled up in her eyes at the thought of what she was doing. "Oh Ben," she whispered, her voice trembling, "isn't this amazing?"

"Yeeaaaaah," Ben replied, equally impressed. "I've never been in a cherry-picker before!"

Out of the mouths of babes!!!

Beginning Day Four

I admit I chuckle every time I remember my hubby saying, "This should be done in 3 days." I guess no one ever calculates contruction times right! This was what was completed yesterday:

Because this is natural stone, it doesn't have the honeycomb like pattern on the bottom the way man-made tiles like ceramic and porcelain tiles have, therefore it takes longer for them to set. Consequently, the tile man has to keep a path open so he doesn't stand on any tile and move them. Hubby couldn't resist getting a close-up, almost lost his balance, and guess what? He moved a tile! Thankfully it had recently been put on and the tile man was able to set it back in place.
Here's a closer view, in front of the bathtub. It's hard to really appreciate the tile, since they're all full of dust that continues to settle. Once everything is cleaned up it'll be easier to see.

Here's the tub area. Yes, that's a floating ladder leaning on the wall. It's there to help keep the tiles in place as they dry.

Another close-up. The dark shiny tile over the travertine is the marble border that will go around the tub area. Smaller travertine tiles will go over that, to give it an interesting design. They couldn't put more tiles until the bottom ones set, otherwise the weight from the top tiles would move the bottom ones and they'd be totally messed up. The 16X16 tiles weigh 10 lbs each (I weighed them myself). The smaller tiles are 4X4, but once you stack them up they're real heavy too. The men showed up at 8:00am, while I was doing my morning devotions (I wasn't expecting them till 9:00). I'm glad they're here bright & early, so they can finish up sooner. I'm so excited to see my completed bathroom, and get rid of the dust!!!
I had to go buy an additional 20 of the larger tiles, since the design was modified a bit and we decided to go with more of the large ones. This means I'll probably be returning some of the small tiles, which is fine since square foot-wise they're more expensive than the large tiles. It's a good thing too: hubby is talking about redoing the small bathroom as well, since the weather is favorable now. I can't imagine having all this construction going on in the middle of summer when the weather is in the 90's and the humidity is something like 120%. We have zero humidity right now, and the weather has been in the 70's and breezy. I pray God will provide us with the means to get this done. We're commited not to get into debt, so I'm trusting God to make this happen. Not a problem for Him, that's for sure.
More to come!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Days Two and Three

I guess what I hate most about construction is, before it can start there must be destruction. The mess becomes nerve wracking (at least to me, because I hate dirt and messes). Here's the progress thus far:

From the bathroom entrance. Broken tiles everywhere.
This is where the vanity was. The mirrors are still there (that's me again, in a pink sweatshirt because it was so cold that day). Below, however, just rubble.

Toilet's still standing! Of course actually using it would have been a bit uncomfortable. Looks like no relief in sight (pardon the pun).

By day three, the plumbing for the vanity was well under way. The contractor moved it from the left hand side to the center. I'm so glad, too. I really believe everything will function better and be more comfortable now.

Oh well, even the toilet's gone now. Thankfully so is the broken tile. Still, there's so much dust everywhere; I can see it from my son's room where I'm typing right now. Ugh! I just cleaned up AGAIN this morning! Yep, it'll be this way for a few more days. They're tiling the bathtub area today, so far it looks pretty nice. Once they're done tiling, the vanity will be made and installed, and I can paint. I enjoy painting, and by doing it myself we save some money. Keep watching, more pics to come!

The Simple Woman's Daybook - February 9, 2009

FOR TODAY February 9, 2009...

To join in the fun, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my has gone back to normal. It's sunny, not overly warm, upper 60's by now. There's no humidity and a cool breeze means I don't need to turn on the air conditioner or heater. Perfect weather.
I am thinking...about the mess in my house. There's construction dust everywhere. Yuck!
I am thankful God who comes through for me each and every day.
From the learning rooms...shapes & sizes in math. Simple geometry. Also preparing for the FCAT.
From the kitchen...pot roast in the slow cooker. Need to stay out of the way of the contractors, and I think this is the best way.

I am t-shirt (daughter's college), jean capris and flip flops. Weather is nice enough that I can dress in springtime outfits in February. See why I love Florida?
I am creating...this blog post, and the first couple of lessons for our small group.
I am probably have to go back to the tile store and get more tiles. The design changed a little so I think I have too much of one and not enough of another.
I am reading...Joshua for my morning devotions, and Matthew for my S.O.A.P. devotions. I'm about half way through The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. And of course Really Bad Girls of the Bible for our small group study.
I am hearing...the tile cutting going on outside and the men working inside. I can't wait till it's all done and I can clean my house again.
Around the house...I'm doing laundry right now, and already set the slow cooker. Can't really do much other than continue to sweep every hour so the dust doesn't overwhelm us.
One of my favorite Haagen Daz ice cream. Wish I had some right now!
A few plans for the rest of the week: my hubby said the bathroom remodel would take 3 days. Well, today is day 3 and they're just starting to put the tiles in, so I think he underestimated. Construction will take, in my opinion, all week, but hopefully when it's done it will look fabulous. Stay tuned!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...contruction till now (scary, I know):

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day before construction began...

...the bathroom looked like this:

This is the view when entering the bathroom. Behind me is the master bedroom; the doors shown on either side are the master closets (mine on the left, hubby's on the right). Bathtub straight ahead.

This is the tile area in front of the tub. While not too visible in this pic, the tiles are cracked pretty badly. There's a crack that runs from the vanity (on the left hand side) to the toilet (on the right hand side). It makes the house look much older than it's 9 years.

Here's the tub. No, it doesn't have jets or anything fancy like that. We thought about it for a very short time. Truth is, those tubs are expensive, and neither one of us would probably use it for more than a couple times, so it wasn't a wise investment for us. This tub will stay; it works just fine. The faucets will change, though, to something that works with the new tiles.

Here's the vanity area (and me taking the pic in the background, heehee). The vanity is very vanilla, and I hate the fact that the sink is over to one side. Rather than make it more comfortable, it's just plain awkward. The jury is still out regarding double sinks, though. The plumbing is for only one sink, which means we'd have to pay extra to get the additional plumbing done, and I'm not sure it would be worth it. Hubby likes to be alone when he's brushing his teeth. We still have time to decide, though. Let's see what happens. We are keeping the mirrors. I like the 3-D effect I get with mirrors on three sides, especially when I'm doing my makeup. I may have frames made for the perimeter of the mirrors, if they aren't too expensive.

As you can see from the pic above, the toilet/bidet area is directly opposite the vanity. The tub is in the center. We're keeping both of these; they're in good condition and the color matches the tub, so purchasing new ones would be wasteful. We are changing some of the plumbing hardware that's a bit worn, though. Shouldn't cost more than $15, so it's worth it. We're also changing the toilet paper holder and towel rack to match the other accessories that are being put in, so that the design is cohesive. These items aren't very expensive but will give the bathroom a more put together look.
Contruction has started early; the men were here at 9:00 this morning. I can hear the demo and smell the dust. I've already swept the floor once; I'll be at it again shortly. The cap of dust on my bedroom furniture makes my skin crawl, but it won't help to clean it up yet. I'll probably do some dusting after they leave.
Stay tuned, more pics to come!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mid-week update

Monday I was able to get to the tile store and purchase most of what we need to get the bathroom tile work done. The particular store I went to is an outlet store, so the pricing is better than even Home Depot but it's important to be sure not to get something that will go on clearance within the next month, in case more materials are needed. I took a chance, though, on some decorative marble tiles. I've learned from watching HGTV, that while using high-end materials on a complete remodel might be out of financial range, using these same materials as accent pieces makes it affordable while also giving the remodel a custom high-end look. So I "splurged" on some absolutely gorgeous chocolate brown marble tiles that cost $6.25 EACH (12X12). Insane, isn't it? But I'm only using them as a border and accent pieces in the tub area, which means I only need 4 of them. For this special unique look I'm paying $25.16. Not bad, huh? Since I was also able to get travertine tiles at an incredible price ($1.49/sq ft on sale!!), for our master bathroom we're spending under $800 in materials. It's a fairly large bathroom, with a roman tub, 60" vanity, toilet and bidet, plus both my and my husband's walk-in closets, so I think what we're paying for tiles is a steal. Only it isn't! God not only blessed us with the money to pay for this remodel, He's showing me how to shop so that I can get more for less. Thank You Jesus!!

I drive a Mitsubishi Montero Sport, an mid-size SUV with plenty of space when the seats are folded down, which I did before heading out to the tile store. I was able to fit all the tiles in my car - 672 - 4X4 tiles, 98 - 16X16 tiles, all travertine, all EXTREMELY heavy, 4 - 12X12 marble tiles, 5 - 50 lb bags of thin-set, plus 2 bags of grout and a bottle of sealant. The tile store is in the next city, way at the OTHER end of where I live, and with such a load I couldn't take the expressway because if I had to hit the brake too quickly the tiles would have gone through the windshield. So I drove home slowly and with lots of care, and when I got home my hubby was there and between the two of us we unloaded everything. I thought we were done, but my husband told me we'd also need cement board. Like I know what that is! Turns out it's like sheetrock, but it goes on the inside of the tub area and resists moisture and mold. Yep, guess we do need that stuff! I checked online and found that Lowe's price is cheaper than Home Depot, so I was going to go there today, but E came home from school yesterday with a raspy throat and this morning he had a fever of 102.4, so I won't be going out with him today. No problem, the contractor is scheduled to start work on Monday so I still have time.

Next thing is the vanity. I already know what I want and my hubby is shopping the design around. Because ours is an oversized vanity it's a little harder to find than the little ones the home improvement stores stock. I found a beautiful one at Lowe's, but hubby said it's made of cheap materials and if we're going to all this trouble to redo the bathroom we need to get it done right. I agree. Hopefully his brother (who is a carpenter) can get this done for us. We also need a vanity top. Those can run from as little as $200 to as much as a couple thousand. I'm seeking God's wisdom on what's best, though I'm pretty sure He's not going to direct me to the exorbitantly priced stuff. I can't deny I'm excited about having the bathroom redone, though the very thought of the mess it's going to create sends me into spasms. Oh well, you know what they say, no pain no gain!

When is a Blessing not a Blessing?

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

- Psalm 127:3

I believe this with all my heart. I have 3 blessings myself, and they have brought me great joy. Children bring richness to life that neither fame, fortune, nor career can give. I wouldn’t trade being Mom for any other job.

So when does this STOP being a blessing? Like all of God’s blessings, it’s when it goes outside of His will.

From the very beginning, with the very first couple, God established His will for man and woman: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24. Marriage is very important to God; we see this throughout Scripture. Adultery was condemned from the start – it’s the 7th commandment. When outlining the job description for pastors, the apostle Paul put “husband of one wife” before ruling his own house well and keeping children in submission (1 Timothy 3:2-6). It’s clear in God’s word that His intention was for children to be raised by two married & committed parents. Unfortunately, at times single parenthood is unavoidable. God knows and understands this. That’s why widows and orphans are given special consideration, because God realizes how much more difficult raising a child by one parent can be (see James 1:27). But what about purposefully having children outside of God’s perfect will?

When I first heard of the woman who gave birth to octuplets, I thought, “Wow, this woman put her life in danger to protect the lives of these babies.” Then it was reported she already has 6 children at home. “She’s trusting the Lord in her perilous situation,” I said, and praised what I believed to be her faith. Then the story changed. Her mother told the press that her daughter is unmarried, has had all her children by in-vitro fertilization, and is “obsessed with having children.” Children who are being deprived of knowing and having a relationship with a daddy. Fourteen of them. Is this how God intended families to be?

I’m not against people wanting children. As I said, I have three and they are each a blessing. And I’m not against couples seeking medical help when they find they can’t have a child, though these procedures are painful & at times dangerous. I understand wanting to have children so bad that you’d go through anything to have them. But is it responsible to bring children into the world without a spouse? More important, is it fair to the child (or children, in this case)? And most important of all, is it approved by God?

To be honest, one thing that really troubled me when I read this story is the unfairness of the laws in our country. My husband and I have been together over 20 years. I worked until recently, and my husband is a hard working man who makes a good income, enough to support our family. Our children are healthy, intelligent, well adjusted, and I have always received compliments on how polite and helpful they are. My kids would agree that, while we’re certainly not perfect, we’ve done the best job we can at raising them. Yet if my husband and I were to try to adopt a child, we’d have to go through a background check as rigorous as what Hillary Clinton went through to become Secretary of State (or perhaps even more so). We would have to take a 6 month parenting course, have psychological evaluations, our home would be inspected to make sure it’s kid safe, and finally, at the end of 9-12 months, we would find out if we are deemed suitable to adopt a child. Yet an unmarried woman decides she wants to get in-vitro fertilization multiple times, and it’s done because it’s her body and she can do with it whatever she wants. No financial check, no psychological exams, no verification of any kind. Am I the only one that has a problem with this? Maybe lawmakers will look at this case and see that there’s something wrong with the laws here. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Managing the House

Got this from Church Laughs at, and I just had to share. Enjoy!

A beleaguered young mom went to an "Organizing Your Life" class. After hearing many organizing tips, she asked, "But how do you get your kids to help clean up? I have two young children, and it's usually easier to just clean up myself. That way, I know where their things are, and they get put away right. But I feel frustrated about that."

Another woman in the class answered, "In our house, we use a 'Butler Box.' Whenever something is left lying around the house where it doesn't belong—even if it's car keys or a wallet—it gets put into a large, wooden box that we call the Butler Box. Then, if anyone is looking for something that's lost and finds it in the Butler Box, he can't just grab it out. He has to do five minutes of chores around the home to get the object back."

"What a clever idea!" the first woman said. "How old were your children when you started that?"

"Children?" the second woman answered. "We don't have any children. This is for my husband."

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook - February 2, 2009

FOR TODAY February 2, 2009...

Outside my's a typical South Florida morning. Temps in the 60's, later in the 70's. However, we're supposed to get into the 40's by Wednesday and the 30's by Thursday. Brrr!!!
I am thinking...about alot of things this morning. My brain is pretty busy today.
I am thankful for...the Pittsburgh Steelers winning the Super Bowl. Not that I care, mind you. Football is the farthest from my interests. But one of my very dearest friends is from the Pittsburgh area, some I'm happy because she's happy. Go Steelers!
From the learning rooms...more reading practice.
From the kitchen...pork tenderloin in the slow cooker that I got on sale at Winn-Dixie. Buy one get one free. This one is marinated in BBQ sauce. I got alot of great deals at Winn-Dixie this week. Spent $45, saved $62. I just love a bargain!
I am wearing...still in my house dress, but I'll be changing soon. Got some errands to run.
I am creating...the design for the master bath, and the budget to go with it.
I am purchase the tiles for the bathroom today. One local tile store has a great deal: travertine tiles, 16X16, at $1.49 per sq. ft. God is blessing us as He leads us to the best prices for our remodel.
I am reading...Deuteronomy for my morning devotions, and Matthew for my S.O.A.P. devotions. Finished the Duggar book (great read!) and I've started reading (yet again) The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. I recommend this book to believers, non-believers, semi-believers and those on the fence. No matter where you are spiritually, this book is life changing.
I am hearing...the hum of the computer. I've got XM radio in the family room, on the Christian channel, but I can't hear it from here.
Around the house...just this morning I folded 3 baskets of laundry and have 2 more loads going. Fixed my bed and got lunch/dinner started. I'm pretty much on a roll! We had so many errands to run this weekend I fell behind on a few things, so I need to get back on track.
One of my favorite a tidy house. Messes make me irritable.
A few plans for the rest of the week: I'm going to the tile store today to pick up the tiles for the bathroom. I already got some of the accessories from Lowes, tub faucets, towel racks, those sorts of things. I also need to go today or tomorrow to choose the cabinet doors for the vanity. Praise God, He got us enough money to not only tile the bathroom but redo it completely. My God is Awesome!!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...the design I'm hoping to do in our bathroom (modified, of course):

To join in the fun, visit Peggy at the Simple Woman's Daybook.