Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Carol of the Bells

My Dad just showed me the links to I'm a new fan! Although the Christmas tree is no longer skirted with unwrapped joys and the parties have all been enjoyed, there is still a bit of Christmas Spirit left around. Remnants of the Holiday are scattered here and there. So, I share with you a fabulous rendition of a favorite Christmas Carol in our house. My favorite instrument, the cello is featured here. Please enjoy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's a Kung Pao Buckaroo Holiday

Today is the 16th. We are looking at 9 days until Christmas! As Christmas approaches, the anticipation mounts, but so does the stress. I have found that when I'm most stressed, I need a good laugh. SO, to help relieve some stress, I'd like to share with you a little Christmas music from one of my favorite country musicians, Brad Paisley. This song is non-traditional, but quite hysterical. It features the Kung Pao Buckaroos: "Little" Jimmy Dickens, George Jones, and Bill Anderson. Have a good laugh, shake off the stress, and good luck with your last minute shopping! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

S'mores for Christmas

Like many families, we like to choose new ornaments for our tree every year. Each boy selects one and then we choose one dubbed the "family ornament." We write their names on them, and the year. It makes for a memory filled tree with many assorted ornaments. At our house, you won't find a tree with a theme or a color scheme. It's all about finding that something that fits the personality of our family each year.
This year, as we wandered up and down the aisles of the store, we came across an assortment of s'mores. Snowman s'mores!  I wanted to just scoop them all up and put the all on our tree. There was a traditional s'more (with a snowman face!). There was a snowboarding s'more. There was a s'more in a graham cracker boat with a chocolate motor and his fishing pole. (I had to remind my little one that he doesn't fish--although, it would have been okay if he was dead set on it. It was so cute!) We almost came home with a sledding s'more...until we saw something else. There were so many to choose from, we stood there looking for a long time. But when we finally arrived on our choices, I don't think we could have done wrong. The Santa s'more with his List is the family ornament, and my boys each picked out the s'more that they loved best. It was a hard pick. I almost decided that Mom and Dad need our own ornaments this year, too, just so I could bring home a couple more s'mores. But with a budget and a tradition, I think we came home with the things that fit us just right this year. Who doesn't love s'mores?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lessons Learned from a Wind Storm

 On Thursday, winds reaching 100 mph ripped through our area. It was an incredible storm (especially for those of us who've never lived anywhere near hurricane country). There was an amazing amount of destruction. Ours, thankfully, was minimal. There were about 7 patches on our roof where the shingles were roughed up, or completely ripped off. (I have some neighbors who lost nearly half--if not more--of their roof shingles) I spent much of Thursday morning and afternoon gathering up the scattered shingles (and trash) from my yard in hopes of salvaging some of them. That afternoon, my mom called to find out how we fared from the storm. I told her of the shingles, and she offered to pass the message to my dad.

When my dad got home that evening, he called to hear my estimation of the damage, and later drove by to take a look from the street. He called me back, told me to buy a packet of shingles and some roofing nails and we would patch it up on Saturday. I invited my father-in-law to come help out--because he's handy, too, and "many hands make light work."

The lovely folks at our home improvement store were more than happy to help me find the materials I needed. (There were lots of people at that store, out buying stuff to replace the things the storm took from them--nothing like a storm to boost the local merchants!) Wondering if I'd handled the shingles wrong and snapped them in half while getting them into my car, I drove home. When those handy men arrived, we borrowed the neighbor's extension ladder and up we climbed. I was glad for the calmer winds and a blue sky. (Please note: I volunteered to climb up. I wanted to! My hubby was more than glad to stay in with the little monkeys. His vertigo would have landed him in the ER if he'd attempted to join us.)

And then, I learned a few things about roofing and roof repairs:
You've got to find any loose shingles that didn't come off and put in a new nail or three. Remove or pound in any nails that were once securing the old shingles. Make sure to work from the bottom up. Be careful not to bend back the existing shingles too far, or they'll break (especially in the cold weather!). If the package says "Standard Shingles," it doesn't necessarily mean the shingles on your roof are "standard." Color does matter, but close enough is good enough. A roofing hammer is different than a regular hammer. When re-roofing over existing shingles, use 3 inch nails, not 1 1/2 inch nails. (This was partly why we lost some of our shingles!) Roof tar may be dispensed with a caulk gun to add extra security under the shingles. The plastic strip on the back of the shingle should be removed to expose the tar prior to nailing to the roof. Nails should not be hammered on top layers because it lets the water in. Two layers of shingles is the maximum allowed. When a roof has 2 layers and requires a new roof, it must be stripped bare to start again.

After spending around 3 1/2 hours on the roof, I am grateful that we didn't lose more than we did. I saw much damage around my neighborhood, and many people were worse off in our neighboring cities. We had to cut some shingles to fit, and the color isn't exact, but I think we did a pretty awesome job. I had a lot of fun! I don't mind heights, and I always enjoy learning more about how to be a little handy.

We had one other adventure because of the wind. Our carport is a metal structure that is secured to the concrete. It has a canvas roof. The feet on the leg poles are plastic. The wind was so strong that day, that it was trying to remove our carport. The plastic feet were no match for the wind and they broke around the anchor point on two of the legs. It was violently bucking in the wind. My next door neighbor happened to be outside when I was gathering some shingles. He noticed the threat of losing the structure, and kindly offered some rope to help me tie it down. We tied it to the fence, my patio, and a tree. Later, my dad traded some of the feet so that it is now anchored to the ground again. (Whew!)

I learned much from this storm. But I was also reminded that we have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for family who knows how to do things and are willing to help when things need fixing. I am glad for the ability to learn new things. I am thankful we have neighbors who look out for us. I am grateful that we were able to afford the damage, and repair it quickly. And now that we are ready for it, Let it Snow!