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Industrial Cleaning: A Day at the Circus

During the week, I moved the hoosier from the laundry room to the kitchen. It feels very good to get things out of the house; I used four garbage bags during just a precursory cleaning and started a scrap metal box. We used two boxes for giving away. All week, the thought of how much gunk there is in this room, set me on edge. Even when my dad repainted the floor every ten years, he didn’t move the washer and dryer and give that area a good cleaning or paint under them. The blessing here, however, is that they got new appliances about 3 years ago and I am pretty sure all that was cleaned well when they units were swapped out.

20140913_101531This was going to be a short weekend at home, and while I typically start my weekend work Thursday night, by the time I got home, my new stove (another story for another day) was being delivered and when that was done, I went straight to bed. I spent Friday night feeling overwhelmed a
nd didn’t do anything on the house. Andy came over at 7:30 Saturday morning with a big smile and coffee mug out. We walked around the kitchen a little and he gave me suggestions and vision. He really is good at thinking outside the box. He left to take Grace to Lucy’s track meet and I got to work. I took the remaining items off the shelves and wiped it all down lightly. Then I donned the disposable rubber gloves and a disposable coverall, mixed the TSP to industrial strength, and started scrubbing the ceiling and walls.

Because these walls need serious coverage, I decided to use the thicker ceiling paint on them. This will wipe out the can of paint. So far, the cost on this room is zero. I am using leftovers. Because of the cheap budget here, Andy took me to a local bi-annual warehouse sale to look for carpeting for the next room, the New Room. It was a big tent sale with free hot dogs and popcorn, and a local radio station with a wheel of prizes. While Andy went to look for his favorite saleswoman, I got food. “Want some popcorn?” I asked when he came back out. “nah.” “Hold mine, please, while I eat.” After my hot dog was gone and I reached for the bag of buttery goodness, there were but a few kernels left. Hmm. I also spun the prize wheel while Andy’s impatience very quietly peeked out from around the corner. The guy manning the booth said I won whatever I wanted from the table. After a weekend of festivities, there wasn’t much from which to choose. “Would the girls want clown noses?” “No.” “What’s on this CD?” “If I were you, I’d just take a T-shirt.” “Do you want to spin the wheel?” “No. I want to get home sometime today.” So I grabbed a T-shirt and the DJ gave me four clown noses anyway. I was going to write that they are still in my purse, but they are not. I have no clue where they went but someone is going to have a fun day when they find them!

We ended up looking at the remnants because if you find one that works, you get more bang for your buck. After rooms of cheap-looking and cheap-priced carpet, and gorgeous offerings in sizes that would not work, we happened upon the perfect shade of taupe in a subdued pattern, in a size that would work, and a price that was about 1/3 of retail. “I’d take it if I were you.” He stood guard on the roll while I finished looking and when I got back, he again insisted on finding his favorite saleswoman. She wrote me up while he flirted and stepped on my foot. I did something I don’t ever do – paid for delivery. But there was no way a 12’x20’ rug was going to fit in Andy’s sensible white minivan, much less my Miata.

20140913_131811When we got back, the girls were busy with their friends in the kitchen. I thanked Andy for the date (“hey – it was like a carnival, complete with a meal, right?”) and went back to finish my cleaning.20140913_131841

By the end of the weekend I had scrubbed, patched, and painted the easy half of the laundry room. You can see by the photo on the right, that the ceiling is done but the walls here are cleaned/organized but not painted. This room is going to take another week or two. When I dropped my paintbrush behind the dryer, I noticed that my parents did not, in fact, clean the flooring when they got new appliances.

So I will leave you with a big “to be continued.”

~BS

Best Jogging Buddy

I ordered this20140915_080355 for Grace, who enjoys jogging. The days are getting much shorter now and dusk comes early. There’s a light, a pedometer, and alarm in one. The pedometer counts calories and steps as well as distance in miles and kilometers; and when activated, screeches a high-decibel siren. Before I gave it to her, I asked Andy whether she’d like it. He wasn’t sure if she would remember to clip it on. “Anything to keep her safe, though.” I will report back later on this one!

Perfect Sweet 16 Gift: Safety Girl Roadside Emergency Kit

20140915_08045520140915_080205I ordered this for Lucy, who JUST TURNED 16!!! I was so excited to see the goodies in the box.  There are a couple cards showing you how to change a flat and what to do in case of an accident. The rest of the stuff is really useful for any situation – snack bar and water in case you have to walk, disposable blanket to keep warm, glow stick, bandage strips, you name it! There is even pain reliever, all tucked away in the coolest metal lunchbox that will fit perfectly in the back of Andy’s minivan. Since we couldn’t afford to give her a car for sweet 16, we figured keeping her prepared no matter what she drives, is the next best thing.

I have to add to this. Lucy was surprisingly (and happily for us!) excited to get this. She and Gracie both looked through the contents – Grace wanted the lip balm and snack bar. Lucy was most impressed with the thermal blanket and really liked the SafetyGirl-branded water. Andy told her he’d give her $5 if she took her lunch in the box to school. I’m not holding my breath on that one! But if you have a new driver and can’t afford a car, get her the next best thing – the SafetyGirl Roadside Emergency Kit!

Speed Cleaning the Laundry Room

20140906_18322220140906_183425The laundry room is at the back of the house but because the driveway dumps out to this entry, this is where every single visitor arrives. It is a quaint room with bright light but currently, too much chipped paint on the floors and walls. Over the years, the storage capacity for cleaning supplies and gardening tools have far exceeded a safe limit. Shelves were added as needed and white paint was added every few years. Spider webs prevail. There are more boxes of rose fertilizer than I could use in a lifetime, even if I grew roses. The birds outside would probably appreciate it if I could get their plastic tub of food out somewhere that I could actually feed them. Right now a hoosier cabinet waits in one corner for someone to put it back where it belongs in the kitchen. It was moved the day the EMTs had to get the stretcher into the house to pick up Daddy’s body.

This room will be light and bright and cheery. I will sand down the paint that is on too thick on woodwork (hmm. Should I strip the woodwork?), repaint the ceiling and walls (they definitely need it), and prime/paint/seal the cement floor. First is a good cleaning, and a good cleaning out. It is here that I started.

Much of the shelving is overhead, so I will be wearing the hard hat. I will definitely be wearing the disposable coveralls and poly gloves, with the amount of gunk and goo in this room. I will be wearing the respirator, too, as there are some chemicals.

20140719_132847 20140831_181323As I mentioned earlier, hockey season has started. Last weekend, Andy took Lucy and Gracie and I to get Lucy new gear. When we got back, she and Kay were trying it on and she grabbed my phone to take a selfie. With Andy’s permission, the photo is here. That’s Lucy, Grace, and Kay from left to right. Aren’t they beautiful girls? Anyway, this weekend he took them to Toronto for a showcase, which means recruiters will get to “shop” prospective scholarship-bound players. In today’s economy, a scholarship is necessary if both girls are to attend college.

Since he was gone, my mom and I spent a good portion of the weekend visiting with each other and going through the laundry room: a box to give away, a box to keep, and a box to throw away. Rather, some of the compostable garbage bags on our Construction Gear site. The bags were thick but brittle so I wouldn’t put anything sharp in them. Barring that, they were easy to open and tie, and were very durable. Plus I felt good knowing they are eco-friendly! This is my mom putting on the gloves.20140906_115803

After cleaning off the shelves, I disassembled the perimeter homemade shelving to open up the room. Next week I will be using the TSP cleanser at industrial strength to start scrubbing the room down, and replacing some of the removed wooden shelves with more delicate glass ones.

Pack Rat

mess100 years in the same house + 3 generations + the flotsam of life = 3 stories + 3 outbuildings gorged with stuff!  Some is treasure – buried to be sure! Much is trash. The buildings are headed for demolition so two cousins are spending hours and days sorting it out. It’s a nasty job but someone has to do it to retrieve the treasure – silver coins and much more!

Online Stores‘ Construction GearSafety Girl, and Discount Safety Gear can help:

Hours of kneeling pulling from the piles – CHECK!  We’ve got you covered with knee pads.

Disp RespiratorDust, dust, dust – breathe in, breathe out! CHECK! We’ve got you covered with disposable face masks.

Danger – hazardous to clothing – CHECK! We’ve got you covered with disposable coveralls to protect your clothes.

coverallsHeads-up – Hard hats must be standard gear! CHECK! We’ve got you covered with our construction grade hard hats! They even come in snazzy colors for fashionistas!

hard hatSorting, trashing, treasuring, saving – It’s all in a day’s work. No, make that MANY days! You’re on your own! We don’t make house calls!

~AH

Fixtures and Finishing Touches

This blog’s focus, two little words: install. lighting. Cost: $50. Total cost for the bathroom: slightly under $200 with some leftover materials for the next room.

20140824_161002My weekend started early; Thursday night Andy was busy with the girls and a friend chatted me to see if I was ok. JD was in our circle of friends in high school and we reconnected right when my slide down the slope of divorce, death, and job changing started. He checks in every once in awhile via text just to see if I am alright. I told him I was, but he insisted on stopping over just to make sure. At that point I was in my PJs and had found a leak in the bathroom plumbing. I tried to deter him but I suppose when some people care about you, it’s a good thing. I changed back into clothes and let Andy know I’d be visiting for awhile during our regular phone time. JD and I decided the marine sealant I used on the flooring was good for the leak – it was in the sink drain and all parts were secure except one soldered vertical piece. We sat in the midst of my disastrous house and caught each other up on the last few months.

Even a surprise visit from an old friend can’t stop the inevitable. The bathroom called. I was lucky enough to find some brushed nickel wall sconces at a reasonable price at BigBox but finding the help during daylight hours was the challenge, thus they are last. I am decent at wiring; once you recognize that the wiring either works or it doesn’t, and as long as you don’t use your body as a conductor, it is safe. Andy came over Saturday with tools and equipment, to knock it out with me.

20140824_171619If you know my dad, you know that no project is standard. He loved to create from found objects and scrap, and for the bathroom wiring, apparently he used salvaged industrial wire that had four strands. So not only did we have an extra strand to cap off, but what was coming from the wall was as unmoving as the rock of Gibraltar and barely fit in the box. Additionally, he somehow tied the ceiling fixture in to the left sconce wiring, so there were an extra full set of wires. We did not get the lights up Saturday.

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Left, Before

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Left, After

Andy came back Sunday with more tools and equipment, and after another 2 ½ hours, roll of electrical tape, and 17 different types of pliers, we got them up. Something is loose somewhere in the wall that if the lights aren’t a certain way, they don’t work. Or one of them does. They look beautiful, however, and Sunday night I finally got, and left them, positioned to both work. Monday morning, neither of them turned on. At least I got up early enough to spend 15 minutes wiggling them around so I could light my morning. I finally got them positioned properly and hope no well-intended OCD guest tries to helpfully straighten them that last millimeter.

I am including before and after pics just because it’s so satisfying!

Coming up will be my “gimme” week. I will sit back, enjoy a more open flow in this tiny space, and add the fun stuff: roll the towels and add the accoutrements. When we talk again, you will find me starting to tackle the laundry room, which is the most disgusting room in the house. It is next because it is how all of the visitors enter the house and I really need to be glad when people arrive, rather than cringe. Even though this room is also small and has no wallpaper, I know better than to call this job “easy.” I will be cleaning it out, cleaning it, and repainting ceiling, walls, and floor. Sounds simple, right? Hah! Five tasks, five weeks. I suspect that my one-year deadline for the whole house will not be met.

I will be featuring the pink hard hat but using the disposable gloves, knee pads, and coveralls, as well.

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Right, Before

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Right, After

~BS

Painting a Vinyl Floor

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This is another segment in my farmhouse refresh series. I am still in the bathroom, forever in the bathroom. Over the last week I debated painting the floor, or laying a river stone floor. I decided I would paint the floor and see how it held up. Even knowing the vinyl is a step away from dead and I have a contingency plan, it made me nervous. Everything I read said painting it can turn out great, or a disaster. I read four or five different sets of directions on doing this, as if you don’t paint it properly, you regret the project. I was painstakingly careful with each step. I understand the finish won’t last forever but until I can afford reflooring, I wanted it to look nice.

I got a late start to the weekend, as Friday evening was a celebration for Andy’s parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary! I am so in awe of being able to put up with one person, day in and day out, for that long. Kudos to them. They are a beautiful couple, and the meal was a lovely family dinner at one of the nicer restaurants in their town. I had the lasagna – divine! Gracie went with us but Lucy had to work. I wore a boho dress Andy brought back from a cruise earlier in the year. You know, one of those long things with handcrafted lace at the neckline that makes you feel like a princess and is extremely comfortable all at  the same time? A table full of relatives, some who had traveled from out of state, everyone sharing and laughing. The word I’d use to describe the meal is exuberant.

We weren’t back late and Andy was asleep as soon as his butt hit the leather sofa, so I left and got an early start Saturday. I had already glued down the popped up tiles, and filled in chipped corners, with a marine sealant/epoxy.

20140823_065639If you decide to paint vinyl floors, I will pass on what I read were the important bits: sand it to scuff it and scrape any odd globs off of it, clean thoroughly (I used Trisodium Phosphate at household strength), let every step dry before starting the next, and make sure your sealant is clear. Take the time to tape your edges off carefully, and spend the extra money to get the better masking tape. Be sure every product is made for high traffic, and porch/patio or exterior use to ensure durability. That’s IF you decide to paint your vinyl tile floor.

I followed the directions on dry time but it still flaked off when walking on it after the allotted time. I touched it up and allowed it to cure for a few days before sealing. I used a high-traffic high-gloss clear polyurethane, three coats, with about 72 hours between coats, and then a full week before I put the floor into service. Maneuvering from the hallway to the tub, standing on sink and toilet was interesting but kept me off the floor – and limber! Until I added the sealer, I was not sure on the floor. The sealer, though expensive, really made the difference.

Cost for this project was $30 for high-traffic porch and patio paint, $10 for the cleaner and deglosser, and $40 for the clear gloss sealant (the primer was costed in a prior post).

20140823_132805The disposable gloves were an absolute necessity for the floor project. The TSP cleanser is not to be used on skin, so I wore the gloves when I was scrubbing. I used them also to wash and rinse the floor and hung them to dry, so they were ready to go with the deglosser and painting steps. And again I used the disposable coveralls. I think I may need to get a new package. A side note on those – in the heat of the summer, they were very warm. They are breathable, but it was definitely an extra layer of insulation.  Because of the gloves and overalls, I was able to go right from working, to the store, just by removing those.

I toyed with the idea of using the respirator when I sanded the floor, but as I didn’t use a power sander, it seemed like overkill. I gently scuffed and then scrubbed. There wasn’t much dust. I did, however, need it on the fumes from the polyurethane.

Next week I must tackle the lighting, which I have been putting off. I don’t like to do that alone, at least without anyone in the house to call 911 if I zap myself. I’ve wired an addition before, but it’s been decades.

~BS

Rag Rolling

20140810_093358 Now that hockey season has started (if you have kids that seriously engage in the sport, you know it requires about 13 months and billions of dollars a year), I will have some weekends to myself as Andy travels or hosts for hockey showcases, championships, and tournaments. Lucy plays while Gracie values the dad-time. Sometimes I go, but sometimes I need to sit out to allow their full bonding time. This weekend, Andy had two hockey dad house guests for a weekend kickoff to camp. I was hoping to get the walls and floor done with my copious spare time. Ha!

20140715_201112I have heard two schools of thought on stripping wallpaper: those who think it’s a nightmare and those who think it’s relatively easy. My opinion is somewhere in the middle but I will tell you, my mind has been changed about stripping all the wallpaper in the house. I heard about a secret weapon called a paper tiger but I couldn’t find one, so I just peeled, squirted, peeled, wiped, rinse, repeat. Because this job alternated tasks and I am doing this alone, the tool belt from SafetyGirl was really quite essential for keeping my screwdriver (scoring) and cleaning rag right near where I was working.

As I was stripping, one of the wall sconces fell off the wall and nailed me in the forehead. Luckily the wires remained nutted and the bulb didn’t break. “I know Daddy built you, light fixture, but Daddy ain’t here. I have no trouble tossing you in the garbage.” Remember my fear that I would find something amiss under the wall sconces? I kind of did – when the paper was removed last time, that second layer was left on and the new paper applied over it. It was almost impossible to remove.

I have to give credit where it is due: my dad was the king of repurposing and making things work. My mom is the queen of doing things right. I have to assume my dad was the one who left the traces of paper there.

The stripping took about a week of after-work work. Saturday I wiped down the walls, patched the dings, sanded, and primed. I used the half mask respirator when I sanded. If you’ve done drywall work before you know the value in this. So nice not to have to remove dust from my hair, nose, eyes, skin – you name it!

20140816_145517coverallI was going to rag-roll a seafoam glaze coating over white walls but the glaze ended up turning the very pale paint a warm beige. I am ok with that. I experimented and used a wet rag and the additive method, rolling the rag by hand, then scrubbing when almost dry, to smooth the pattern a bit to look more organic. That job was beyond a mess and I was glad to have Discount Safety Gear’s disposable coveralls. I wore one for the entire wall painting job, and I probably could have broken that down into two, the thing was so covered. The disposable rugged blue gloves were also a necessity because I would still have sticky glaze darkening my hands as I write.

An out-of-town friend was to stay with me Saturday night after spending time with her mother, which forced me to cdisp work gloveslean up mid-project. Gail ended up canceling due to a death in the family but I was very glad I was forced to clean for her arrival anyway. Andy invited me over to meet his friends, since I’d be available. Oh, and can I pick up a bottle of tonic water on my way? Mrs. Ford likes vodka and tonics and she may come out. Really?!? Picking up groceries for another woman? He said, “I’ll pay you back.” “Oh, no you don’t!” I said. “I prefer the right to bring this up for years to come, rather than have the dollar.” I arrived, tonic in hand, hyperventilating with all that still had to be done. Lucy, Grace, and what seemed like seven or eight other girls (I think in actuality there were only three) ran to the street fair down the road while the adults visited for a bit.

20140817_190925Sunday morning, I looked at the bathroom with fresh eyes before church. The walls looked unfinished, so I used the same metallic textured paint to paint a border at the ceilings, then I filled it in with chunks of texture smeared on with a small scraper. I think I got the stripe a bit too wide but I like it anyway. Again with the gloves and coveralls. Since I was using found and extra paint and glaze, cost for this phase was only $2.50 for the patch.

Painting the floor still makes me nervous, because while the vinyl tile is a step away from gone, everything I read said painting it can turn out great, or a disaster, and I can’t afford to replace it. I am also toying with the idea of what is called a Chattahoochee floor, or river stone/pebble floor. I am reading conflicting reviews, however, on whether this is best done by epoxy, or mortar and grout. I think if I did this, I would overlay the existing vinyl tile with black landscaping plastic and work that surface. With the weight and stones hugging the toilet it would stay in place, but also be much easier to remove if I don’t like it. I will ponder the floor for another week.

I ended up being glad I stopped for Mrs. Ford’s tonic, even though Mrs. Ford herself didn’t show up. Andy made me the best gin and tonic I have ever tasted. Quality gin, fresh lime juice, lovely garnish. I could happily live in that man’s kitchen.

~BS

Safety Glasses as Sunglasses

EdgeRemember I said I suspected Andy would steal my safety glasses? Remember I told you about his golf outing last weekend? Well, they went missing about that time…

When he got back, I told him he owed me some quotes in exchange for the glasses. He said that in the active environment, the glasses were perfect. They felt great. He wore them the whole time because it was sunny, and didn’t notice he had them on. He wears safety glasses for work every day and said they are the most comfortable he’s ever worn. In fact, they are more comfortable than any sunglasses he’s worn.

I asked about the ear pieces. He said they didn’t pinch. The nose? Perfect for his adorable hunky nose (I can say that because I am a hunky too).

He volunteered to steal them back and pose for golfing and if he does, I will update this blog with that photo. I suspect he just wants to golf and wear the glasses again.

Beginning in the Bathroom

I tried to knock out as much as I could on the bathroom while Andy was away on his annual golf weekend. I had high aspirations. It’s a tiny room; how hard can it be!? Ha!

Thursday evening I mapped out my plan. Ceiling first, then cabinetry. I assembled my supplies and equipment, and Andy called.
“Why are you whispering?” I asked.
“Because if the guys know I am calling you, they will be merciless. They think I’m in the shower. You know Tom and Brad are bragging you up.”
“Tell the guys that if I am all that, you gotta maintain it.” I don’t understand how men miss that logic. “How was your day?”
“Incredible. I am having the time of my life.” [tons of noise in the background] “The guys just came in and busted me talking to you. I gotta go.” {click}

disp work glovesSaturday morning while Andy was having a three-aspirin cup of coffee, my first priority was the ceiling. I found a can of usable ceiling paint in the basement, so my only cost was an $8 roller kit on sale at a local big box store. I have heard many people say, “I didn’t think it needed it, but after doing it, what a difference!” Not so much for me. The ceilings in the house are generally good. My advice: if it looks like it was painted in the last year or so, a good washing is sufficient.

coverallThe SafetyGirl pink toolbelt was really handy for the overhead work. I stood on a small step stool to reach the fixture and with the belt, my cleaning supplies as well as screw driver were all there. No need to get up and down off the stool to retrieve items. The belt fit over the disposable 3M coveralls, which again were a huge help. I didn’t ruin any clothes with white paint drops. While these are meant to be tossed at the end of each day, they were so durable that I was able to use them for the entire two-phase project.

20140810_093800I decided to refurbish the cabinetry with a restoration kit that was left over from my prior home. The vanity was a dark wood and the kit was espresso – not much difference that I didn’t need to be immaculate with the procedure. I cleaned it, deglossed it, and then applied two coats of the espresso bond coat. I added a horrible textured silver patina and while I like the look better than if I had not used the metallic product, I was not entirely pleased with the texture and spreadability. For the deglossing, I wore the disposable gloves because the liquid was supposed to be pretty caustic. The thing I like best about the gloves is that they are breathable, yet offer great grip with the coated palms.

I purchased new hardware for the vanity from Big Box, and was hugely disappointed. Apparently the ceiling painting was just one time waster over the weekend. Some of the drawer pulls required a silicone lubricant to remove, which was another half hour. Then the new brushed silver drawer pulls fit only some of the drawers because the sink base is so old. The two sets of different sized screws that came with, were either too long or too short. I tried to use the old-hardware screws, which were the mama bear size, but they also did not work because of the mechanics of the old pulls. After much frustration, I painted the old tarnished hardware with the metallic textured finish and reinstalled them. They look better than they did, but are definitely dated. Now I have another trip to Big Box to return the new hardware. I am deciding whether I should try again on different handles and ask if Big Box will give me additional screws in the proper size. Let me know what you think!

Again I wore the disposable coveralls, which was a good thing. The glaze was very sticky and the silver paint was dark. Any miscalculation would have ruined my clothes. The cost for this task was $3, for the metallic paint, thanks to the leftover cabinet kit and the return of the hardware.
While Andy was hitting golf balls and drinking Patron, I cleaned and put away best I could. Time to start stripping wallpaper.

Saturday evening I got a text: “Call me on the hotel number. Reception here is bad.” I called and again, a whispered hello.
“Were the guys merciless last night?” I wanted to know.
“Oh yeah. They think I’m talking to Lucy. I actually did call her first.”
“Tell me about your day?” [noise again]
“Yeah, dad, tell mom I miss her too,” he said in a loud voice.
“Seriously?!” [shuffling and phone changing hands]
Tom: “Who is this?” [me trying to sound like Dad and ending up laughing instead] “Dude, you gave her the ROOM phone number!?”
Andy: “I gotta go.” {click}

20140810_093358I removed the over-toilet cabinet and shelving so the wallpaper stripping would go easier. I also removed the large homemade sconce lighting to see what I’d be up against in the wiring of new fixtures. To my great relief, my dad just had small junction box holes and the wiring capped nicely. I expected the lights may be covering huge defects of some sort.

Sunday after church, while still in my dress, I started pulling wallpaper while I waited to hear from Andy. A relatively clean job. The vinyl layer came off pretty easily and I sprayed the paper layer to soften the glue. The bathroom was quickly littered with shreds of old paper.

True to form, I got a text that Andy would be home earlier than expected because he needed to pick up Lucy from work, for me to be at the house at 1:30. As it was 1 and I had a hamper in the tub and hadn’t eaten lunch yet, I told him that time frame would not work (go, me!). My first time with a counter offer on together time. He told me to do what I needed to do to have peace about the upcoming week, and stop by when I was ready. I had had enough of that bathroom and was there by 2. I stayed until supper time so he could finish his day with father-daughter time.

And you know, he brought the girls back new sunglasses, and me five little “his and hers” Patron XO sets.

XO

~BS