29 February 2008

Film Contest, redux

Well, Drew and I decided that we'd have to skip the 24-hour film contest this year. We just didn't learn of it early enough to pray for it, to assemble a team, and the house is still upside down.

We look forward to watching the entries as they roll in and we hope to tackle it next year, when we'll have more time to prepare.


28 February 2008

Book Review: From Homer to Harry Potter

Finally getting around to reviewing this.

I thought most of it was wonderful. To begin, the authors delved deeply into what is fairy tale, whom it's appropriate for, and the lay of the land of Faërie. I appreciated their differentiation between modern fantasy and science fiction, a distinction that is most helpful to me as it deals much with worldview.

Then we traveled to Biblical lands to learn how the Bible is true myth. ('Myth' doesn't mean an untrue story, but a story dealing with gods or, in this case, God and his works and ways.) After the stop in the Middle East, we wended our way through medieval literature. We also stopped at the nineteenth century to visit the Grimm Brothers. The last chapters of the book dealt with more recently-written Faërie stories and authors, including Ursula LeGuin, Phillip Pullman, and Jo Rowling.

I came away with a better appreciation for the stories I love so much and encouragement that I wasn't far off in some of my opinions regarding books I didn't like. I also came away inspired to read more of the stories from the land of Faërie and, maybe, even to try my hand at writing one.

In addition to the delightful exploration of Story, the authors specifically challenged me to think hard regarding the order of the writings of the ancient world. I've always been of the opinion that Moses didn't necessarily write Genesis from scratch, but compiled ancient documents into the book we have now and that those ancient documents had been handed down and added to by the generations from Adam, and was thus older than, for example, The Epic of Gilgamesh. (I think that thought came from Ruth Beechick's Adam and His Kin.) However, given Jesus's assumption regarding Moses' authorship of Genesis, I don't know that this is quite accurate, after all. Dickerson and O'Hara put forth the idea that, even though other creation and flood accounts may be older, that shouldn't cast doubt on Moses' account. (It seems the articles I've read about this always race to prove that Genesis came first.) Moses, being raised in Pharaoh's court, would have had access to all the knowledge that man had gathered to that date, including the ancient creation and flood narratives. I don't find it a stretch to think that he read those contemporary accounts, and then, under inspiration, wrote to set the record straight. An analogy that came to my mind was of two witnesses to the same event, one of whom releases his inaccurate account immediately, while the other releases his more accurate account later. Just because the second witness has the latter-published work, doesn't make his less true.

What I didn't like: while the authors called into question Moses' authorship of Genesis, they ignored the authorship controversy surrounding the Iliad and the Odyssey. Since Christ himself attibuted Genesis to Moses, I'm not comfortable with their stand.

I did find my copy disappearing a few times as Nathan would steal away with it and once it was buried in Benjamin's room. I'm not surprised at Nathan's interest, but Ben can catch me unawares.

Kitchen Progress, VI? VII?

Oh, well, I've lost count!

Started grouting last night. The desk just needs the corners and it'll be ready to be sealed. The backsplash behind the stove is newly grouted, as is the island; they're drying now.

Drew began installing the facia pieces last night and they look wonderful!

Been too busy to post pictures, but I'll try when I have time.

27 February 2008


At about 8:30 last night, the saw decided to work again. At that point, we cut everything we needed to complete the desk, the island, the backsplash, and the window sill. We were able to cut a few more strips for the counter fronts, but the saw started pulling to the right again, so we gave it up.

Drew and I stayed up until 11:30 working on the island. We had only two pieces of tile left to lay and … we ran out of thinset!

I'll pick up another bag today - we'll need it for the fronts anyway.

It's also time to start grouting. This afternoon, I'll finish cleaning the grout lines in the desk and start the grout there. I also want to work on the backsplash behind the stove. As soon as that section is grouted and sealed, we can move the stove back into place permanently.

I'll keep working to post pictures as I have time around school and the work itself.


p.s. We've been told that the tile saw will be retired once we return it to World of Tile, so I'm glad to report that no one else will have to try to cope with this persnickety piece of machinery.

26 February 2008


Nathan and I worked this afternoon and finished the desk {and the people rejoiced!}. We got all of the backsplash done {and the people rejoiced!}, except one little tile next to the fridge that needs to be trimmed. We got the window sill done {and the people rejoiced!}, except the last three tiles that still need to be cut.

And why didn't we finish those last few cuts? Well, I'll tell you. The saw stopped working this afternoon. {sigh} We haven't been able to get it turned on since about 4:30.

We were hoping to lay the tile on the island tonight and got all the inside pieces cut and laid out last night {and the people rejoiced, some more}. We couldn't lay that tile last night because we'd run out of edge tiles. {'nother sigh}

If it wasn't for technology, we'd be done by now!


25 February 2008

Backsplash, V

I'm not sure why, but that bottom tile doesn't really look nearly as out of place as it does in the pictures.

We're tackling the island tonight, and we'll finish the backsplash (just a little more to do on that, but I'm not sure which tiles go where, so we have to wait for Drew to get home from work. We also need to put on the vertical front pieces and the window sill pieces. Then the tile saw goes back and I start grouting and sealing. {whew!}


24 February 2008

Backsplash, IV

I've been trying to upload progress pictures all afternoon, but sunspots are interfering. We're making great progress, but we're done for tonight as it's now too late to use the saw. I'll keep trying to post pictures. It's turning out just beautifully!

Backsplash, III

Home from church and working again. This time the tiles require fitting together so we'll have room for the green accents and make sure everything fits in a small space, so the going is a bit slow, but we're moving nonetheless.

23 February 2008

Progress Report

Well, after a nasty tug-of-war with the saw until fairly late in the afternoon - the third blade finally worked.

We tiled the desk (shhh…don't tell, but the tiles are a bit crooked and the overlap isn't even across the front; it looks good, now, and will look better after we grout, but we may have to shave a bit off a few of the front pieces to make them fit).

Jared and Drew tackled the first course of the backsplash on the counters (once we got the new saw blade, we were able to cut some tiles that needed precise measurements to make up for an unlevel countertop).

I don't have any pictures right now, and am ready for bed after a long day and not feeling so well right now, but I'll try to post some tomorrow.

After church, we'll continue building up, grouting the desk, and getting the pieces cut for the desk's backsplash so we can install them a.s.a.p. We also need to pick up some caulk in the same color as the grout for the bottom of the backsplash.

It was an interesting day, with several frustrations, but God is good and no one lost any temper. At one point, we stopped and prayed together for help. Immediately after that, Drew thought to price saw blades online and found one that was reasonable at Home Depot. That was definitely a turning point as after he brought it home, everything began to fall into place.


Houston, We Have Lift-off


That's the sound of the tile saw. World of Tile had an older, straight saw blade. It's a bit smaller, which is fine with me as it's taking off less of each tile.

The island and the desk have been pulled apart.

Ah…the sound of progress!


The tile saw has a warped blade. We're still marking tile, but have only gotten one cut (and we may end up not using that one). Drew is going to check at Home Depot, but their saw rentals cost a bit more than World of Tile's. Unfortunately, WoT doesn't have any more saws available this weekend.

We're taking the under-cabinet lights off and the boys will pop off the counter on the island while the girls and I clear off the desk and then they'll take that apart. The plywood and hardyback boards are already cut for those, so they can start putting all that together. Since the tiles for the desk have already been cut, we can begin laying those as soon as the underlayment is ready.

Step-by- step, we'll get this done.


p.s. I'm getting other ideas, too! I think we're going to paint the kitchen/dining room a light and medium shade of sage/greyish green, with a honey oak chair rail and window & door trim. Our windows are all simply set into the walls, without any trim, sills, or framing. They've always looked bare to me and I'm looking forward to highlighting them. Of course, now Drew is thinking that before we do that, it would be best if we had better insulated windows, which would drive down our cooling costs in the summer.

22 February 2008

Here We Go Again!

Woo-hoo!! Drew is laying out the line for the bottom course of backsplash tiles.

As soon as the boys are finished with dinner (canned ravioli for the kidsters, tonight), they'll start setting up the tile saw and the canopy on the back patio. For some reason (probably having to do with our sanctification), it seems that whenever we rent the tile saw, we have cloudy, cold, wet weather.

The cuts for the backsplash will be easier than the cuts for the counters were. We're also hoping to get a bit of an assembly line going, with Nathan and Drew cutting and me actually sticking tiles to the wall. Benjamin and Judith will take turns cleaning out the grout lines between all the little mosaic tiles while the thinset is still wet. We're hoping to get all the cuts done for the island this weekend, too. We'll lay it out with spacers on the peninsula and cut everything we need to cut. Then we can continue to lay tile on the island, desk, and desk's backsplash after we return the saw and with no time deadline looming over us: a batch of thinset here, a batch there, and soon we'll be done!

I hope to post pictures and updates as the work progresses, with photos of the finished product when all is said and done. If you care, keep checking back. If you don't, well, I think I can live with that.


21 February 2008

Thoughts from Ephesians

I spent some time reading Ephesians in my French Bible several weeks ago and was greatly blessed by a couple of interesting translations.

In the first chapter, Paul repeats a phrase, with a minor variation, three times. In English: 'to the praise of his glorious grace' (v. 6) and 'to the praise of his glory' (vs. 12 and 14). That's a great sentiment, but I never really understood what it actually meant. A literal translation of the French cleared things up: 'in order to celebrate the glory of his grace' (v. 6); 'to celebrate his glory' (v. 12 and 14). Now, I get it!

3:8, from the ESV:

…to me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

The phrase, 'unsearachable riches of Christ', reads in French, 'richesse insondable du Christ'.

The word insondable translates to English as 'unsoundable'. The depths of Christ's riches are so great that no one can sound them, or determine how deep they actually go, where they end. I love the picture this painted in my mind of a small dinghy, bobbing on the waves with no land in sight, its anchor drifting through the vastness of the ocean. This is a small, yet clear picture of the vastness of the grace found in Christ by those who believe in him.

5:19, from the ESV:

…addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.

The French translates literally as:

…address one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and celebrate the Lord with all your heart.

The French here is so much more exuberant than the English. I just love it.


Puritan Reading Challenge Update

My copy of The Bruised Reed is on its way, but hasn't arrived yet, so I started A Lifting up for the Downcast. I've been underlining much, but wanted to post this quote from chapter (sermon) two.

So long as man has encouragement elsewhere, he does not encourage himself in the Lord his God. This being man's nature, and God having a design of love upon His own children, He permits a damp and discouragement to pass upon all their comforts: their peace to be interrupted, their hearts disquieted, and their souls discouraged, that so they may encourage themselves in God alone.


Neglected Number Nine

Once I learned to crochet, I began making afghans for each of the kids. When I started, I only had four kidlings and each of the first four afghans differed only in color. I used the same pattern over and over. When it came time to make the fifth, I changed patterns and have been varying them ever since. The plan (once I caught up) was to make an afghan as a present the Christmas after each child's fifth birthday. I thought that would give me enough time to stay current. Ha…little did I know…

Elizabeth is almost seven and the picture shows how far I've gotten on her afghan so far - only about a foot and a half. On the bright side, she did get to pick out her own color and pattern, a privilege withheld from the older kids. Does that make up for my tardiness?

Whenever I get it out to work on it, she sits as close to me as she can get. She's learning patience. Either that or she's demonstrating perfect patience for me so I can learn from her example. God truly works in mysterious ways.

I'm dealing with a bit of anemia this week (I have an appointment with a nurse practitioner next week), so, in addition to taking lots of iron, eating lots of protein, and drinking lots of water, I'm getting lots of rest with my feet up. It's time to work some more on the afghan. Maybe it'll be ready for Eliza's seventh birthday in June.

The good news is that, once this one's done, I'll be all caught up!


Film Contest

Christian Filmmakers 24-Hour Contest

Well, it looks like we just might have something on the calendar for March 1st! Keep an eye out for the link to YouTube!


20 February 2008

Book Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

I've heard this book (two books, really) described as frightening and nightmarish. While there is a dream-like quality to the stories, especially the second as the setting dissolves and rearranges itself often, I didn't find them nightmarish at all.

I found the word-play delightful, the characters enchanting, and the sendups sharp. Some of the scenes and puns reminded me of The Phantom Tollbooth, which we all loved when we read it aloud years ago (I think it's time for a re-read as the little ones either don't remember it or weren't born yet). I look forward to reading Alice aloud to my kidlets.

For those who don't understand literary nonsense, I suggest you check out this article on Wikipedia, which I haven't finished yet, but I plan to print out and read when I get a chance. I also look forward to reading more literary nonsense.


18 February 2008

Book Review: The Acid Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health

One of the books on my 'Reading Challenge Progress' shelf over at GoodReads is The Acid Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health, by Christopher Vasey, ND.

I started with a pretty cynical attitude toward this book. I've read too many tomes through the years that promise that fixing one aspect of your health will heal everything, that I just couldn't believe I was reading another one. (The reason I read it is that a good friend's husband recommended it to Drew and he ordered it from Amazon. I also knew that he doesn't have the time to read that I do, so I thought I'd give it a try and at least try to pass on some of the gleanings to him.)

I read 2/3 of it and then put it aside. I just wasn't that impressed. Then I had a weekend-long, serious bout of acid stomach. I felt as though I were 11 months pregnant with twins. (I suffered much heartburn while in my last trimester of each of my pregnancies, but this felt even worse.) I grabbed the book and began rereading as if my life depended on it. I began making changes immediately. I bought some alkaline supplements at a local health food store and began paying attention to what I was eating, focusing solely on alkaline foods until the volcano subsided. I ate lots of bananas that weekend. Once the acid attack had passed, I continued to apply what I'd learned (I knew even without Vasey's list of symptoms that my system was very acidic and had been for years.) Since then, I've got much more energy…amazingly more energy…so much energy I don't know what to do with myself. Well, okay, I exaggerate a bit. I'm not the energizer bunny, but compared to my past energy levels (pretty much non-existent), I'm impressed with the change. I've also begun to drop a bit of weight. I've been trying for years, but no matter what I do, it just won't come off. It's not much, but the scale is moving in the right direction and my pants feel just a bit looser.

First what I liked about it:

* While at the beginning it reads like the others ('Fix your acid/alkaline balance and all your health worries are finished!'), by the time he gets to the last part, it's clear that Vasey understands that this is only one aspect of health, an important one, but not the only one. Because of this understanding, Vasey recommends other approaches that will work in conjunction with acid alkaline balance to promote health: colon cleansing, pre- and pro-biotics, enzymes, lots of water, and exercise. He doesn't just focus on dietary advice.

* Vasey realizes that we live in a world that requires balance (and not just acid/alkaline balance). For example, most meats have an acidifying effect on the body, but he acknowledges that eliminating meat from the diet means that most of us wouldn't get enough protein and that wouldn't be healthy. He doesn't recommend completely eliminating acidifying foods, simply becoming aware of them and striving for balance.

* In the section about supplements, he gives detailed instructions for alkaline supplementation: how to figure out how much your individual system needs and how to read yourself to know when the deacidification process is complete. He doesn't hand out one-size-fits-all advice about supplementation, which is a breath of fresh air.

What I didn't agree with:

* In the section listing symptoms of a system that is acidic, he lists a common occurrence in women. I know too much about the female reproductive system to buy that this particular thing is a symptom of too much acid.

* I think the book was written in French originally, and some of my occasional difficulty in following his train of thought might have been because of the translation and not because of his original writing.

In summary, I found it interesting. I'm more aware of this aspect of health and am seeing positive changes as I apply myself to the balance explained in the book.


17 February 2008

Waste Not

I have a confession to make. I hate tossing out the last few drops of dishwashing liquid in an empty bottle or the last few scrapes of peanut butter left at the bottom of an empty jar, or rinsing down the drain the last of the cake batter stuck on the bowl or beaters after the cake is in the oven.

It's not that finances are so tight that those little bits make a difference in whether our family goes bankrupt or not. It's that those things were made for a specific purpose. There's a reason they exist and throwing away those last little bits means that they aren't allowed to fulfill the purpose for which they were made. Yes, I kind of feel sorry for the dishwashing liquid.

We were designed and created on purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. If we allow sin to draw our eyes off God or if anything becomes more important to us than Christ, we aren't fulfilling the purpose for which we were created and saved.

I'm seeing this also regarding the various roles God has called me to and placed me in. If I don't care for my children in a way that honors the Lord, I'm not fulfilling my purpose as a mother. If I don't respect, honor, walk alongside, and encourage Drew, I'm not fulfilling my purpose as his wife. If I don't reach out to our neighbors with the gospel, or press a discouraged friend into Christ, then my purpose (the reason God has placed me in those contexts and relationships) is being thwarted.

But … if I fulfill my purpose in those situations, yet do it grudgingly, without joy, that's also wasteful. Part of our purpose as Christians is joy - specifically enjoying Christ and his riches and grace. What a precious gift and reflection of God's character that joy is part of our purpose!


16 February 2008

Puritan Reading Challenge

Thanks to Kathleen for posting this year-long reading challenge. It originates from the mind of Timmy Brister at Provocations and Pantings. I haven't been able to get the code to work to post the button and the link (I think sunspots are interfering with my ability to upload again), so I thought I'd write about it.

He's scheduled a different Puritan classic to be read each month of 2008. I've already missed January's title, but I think I'll start there anyway. I have to plan my reading around school, and I'm not planning to read them all, but if I aim for one each two months, that will be a good start. Here's his list:

*January: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes (128 pp)
*February: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel (221 pp)
March: The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson (252 pp)
April: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks (253 pp)
May: Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan (225 pp)
*June: The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (130 pp)
*July: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge (287 pp)
*August: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (228 pp)
September: The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton (224 pp)
*October: The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie (207 pp)
November: The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (256 pp)
December: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine (148 pp)

I've starred the ones I hope to read (not necessarily on the schedule Tim's listed, though). There are a couple of considerations guiding my choices: the length of the works, and what we have here at home and what I know is available from our church bookstore. I'll try to post quotes and thoughts as I read (which I hope to do more of as time goes on for all the books I'm reading). And just because I'm not reading some of them this year, doesn't mean I won't read them in the future.


15 February 2008

Disappearing Who

No, this post isn't about the Invisible Man meets Dr. Seuss. It's about the disappearance of the word 'who' at the beginning of a subordinate clause.

I often read or hear
the doctor that works at the hospital.
the child
that plays in the backyard.
the father
that cares for his family.
the mother
that rocks her toddler.

But shouldn't it be
the doctor who works at the hospital?
the child
who plays in the backyard?
the father
who cares for his family?
the mother
who rocks her toddler?

Shouldn't it be 'that' when referring to an animal or an object? Doesn't 'who' remind us, subtly I admit, that people, who are made in the very image of God himself, are of higher dignity than animals and things?

I'm probably reading too much into this linguistic trend, but by using 'that' when we should be using 'who', are we buying into the post-modern idea that people are of no greater value than the gum that's stuck to the bottom of my shoe?



Drew was hoping to finish tiling this weekend, but the rose mosaic won't arrived until early next week. I'm okay with this as I'm feeling a bit under the weather right now. (The kids went to Gileskirk alone today - a first!) It's also another rainy, cloudy, cold day and the guys would have been miserable outside cutting tile.
I'm still re-organizing the kitchen, but I'm stumped about how much plastic to keep. We don't use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave. I don't like drinking out of plastic (with the exception of my pink kid-lit-themed Nalgene water bottle from Powell's Books as it's so much harder than typical plastics) and I'm not sure I like the kids drinking out of it. We don't have little ones who drop and break glasses and such (at least not often). I'd like to kiss plastic-days good-bye, but Drew and Anna take leftovers to work in plastic containers. I'd rather they used foil-covered plates and bowls, but I don't think I'll be able to convince them.

Well, if this is the most important decision I have to make today, that's a pretty easy day, so I'm not going to fret about it. If you have any suggestions for something more stable than plastic, yet less spillable than foil covered plates, I'd love to hear them.

13 February 2008


After a trip to World of Tile last night, we've changed our thinking about the backsplash. It's finally coming together - at least in our minds.

Seven inch square Beach set straight on the bottom, followed by a row of 5/8" square rose marble tiles, then more Beach set on the diagonal with accent tiles of green marble. Then another row of small rose marble, finished with Beach. We'll use battiscopa tiles at the top once we move out from under the cabinets, as the rounded edge will give it a nice finished look.

We're also going to incorporate the rose (1x1 here) and green marble into the island.

The rose really brings out the rosy brown hues in the Beach tiles, but I'm not sure how green happened as it's most definitely not my favorite color, but it'll be gorgeous. I think I've figured out green: it's either absolutely beautiful (dune-grass grey-green or tropical ocean blue-green) or it's just hideous (lime and the greens used in army fatigues). There's no such thing as a mediocre green.


12 February 2008

Kitchen Pictures

Not done yet, but here are current progress pictures.

This one shows a bit of the mess of thinset on the counter, but it also shows clearly the missing front piece. The other pictures are farther away and you can't see what's missing so well. Drew is working on a brilliant way to support the tiles while the thinset dries so they stay level and even. We didn't cut enough the first time we had the saw, so the front will have to wait until we rent the saw again.

This one shows a close-up of the counter between the stove and the sink with my tea maker and the new bottom cabinets.

The sink and the peninsula.

The view from the dining room.

This is one idea for the backsplash. Probably not this particular tile (only three in stock at Home Depot and all chipped - not very good quality), but we hope to find something like it a World of Tile. We'll also outline the diagonals in a 5/8" dark brown swirly-patterned tile, with more of the Beach on the bottom and on the top.


10 February 2008

Almost Done

The grout has been sealed…five times. It's taking quite awhile to soak in and work properly. I'm going to apply another coat tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, and as many days as I need to to make the grout waterproof.

We still need to install the facing pieces around the edge, but we didn't cut enough when we had the saw, so that will need to wait a bit.

We've finally made some progress in designing the backsplash. We're going to use smaller versions of the counter tiles, varying their orientation, setting them off with a smaller outline tile in a darker brown and an occasional decorative tile. We're narrowing down the selection of the decorative tile, but we're not quite there yet.

The desk will be the next big piece of the puzzle and then the island.

I'll try again to post pictures. It really is looking wonderful!

In the meantime, we're all enjoying the larger kitchen. We've been slowly putting things back in the cabinets, but we're rearranging and reorganizing as we go…also sorting and getting rid of things we haven't used in awhile. I'm thinking through the way we use the kitchen and rethinking how I've categorized things. For example, instead of putting the mixer with the rest of the small appliances where it was before, it now sits up with the mixing bowls.


08 February 2008

Arts and Architecture

My first issue of The Intercollegiate Review arrived today. The quote on the back was an excerpt from Russel Kirk's essay "The Architecture of Servitude and Boredom".

Let us leave historical determinism to the Marxists and other ideologues. The courses of nations depend upon the energy and the talents of particular individuals--and upon Providence, always inscrutable. It remains true even in this mass age of ours that individual genius and courage--or at least, the imagination and boldnesss of a handful of men and women--may leaven the lump of dullness and apathy, all across the land. From causes which at present no one guesses, conceivably there may come about a reinvigoration of urban planning and architecture.... The architectural and artistic charlatan, leagued with the spoilsman and the bureaucrat, may be thrust aside, abruptly, by a new breed of architects and artists endowed with the moral imagination. Given faith and hope, it is yet imaginable that we may draw upon the architectural well of the past to bring into being an architecture strong and humane.
And, not from the Review, but quoted in the Gileskirk lecture we discussed today, from the quill of John Adams:

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.


05 February 2008

Super Tuesday!

I have a confession: I've never read Alice in Wonderland. Some friends were discussing it last week. It was the work of a moment to pop over to Amazon and order it. It arrived this morning, so I took it with me to read while waiting in line to vote in the primary.

Jared came with me - his first time voting. As we waited in line, I paged through the book and we laughed together when I found a chapter called 'A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale'. Given how much the candidates have left me feeling like Alice at the tea party and that this election has already felt like a very long tale indeed, I thought this chapter might prove interesting. I was right.

"What I was going to say," said the Dodo in an offended tone, "was, that the best thing to get us dry would be a Caucus-race."

is a Caucus-race?" said Alice; not that she much wanted to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that somebody ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything.

"Why," said the Dodo, "the best way to explain it is to do it." (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)

First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, ("the exact shape doesn't matter," it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no "One, two, three, and away," but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out "The race is over!" and they all crowded around it, panting, and asking "But who has won?"

04 February 2008

Finished…for now

The tile saw is loaded into the van and I'll drive it down tomorrow morning. {wooh-hooh!} That means everything is cut, except for the final end pieces of edging and facing. When we get everything else installed, we'll measure and take the pieces down to World of Tile and use the saw there for those last four cuts.

We install the last few horizontal pieces tomorrow. I'll grout them on Thursday. We're putting the vertical facing on its own timeline because we want to get the sink back up and running as soon as possible. We'll also need some good strong tape to hold the facing pieces up while the thinset dries. Then, I'll grout that separately and we'll just have to be careful for a few days.

I'll try to post pictures tomorrow, but I'm not promising anything because we've got to get back to school. Even without grout, I think it looks wonderful! The kitchen feels so much bigger with the lighter color.

Weird thing about all this manly work I've been doing…the abrasiveness of the mortar is acting as an exfoliant. My hands haven't been this soft in years.


Kitchen VI

The edging tiles have been setting for less than 24 hours and they're pretty solid. I spent a little time this morning running around the edges with a damp cloth to remove the extra thinset. They all set up level and without any drifting or settling during a very humid night (Arizona has entered our winter rainy season and we turned our heater on for the first time last night - set to a tropical 68 degrees; it was still too hot, so it's going down to 65 tonight). But even with the humidity, the thinset is working great! We used a powdered thinset mix instead of pre-mixed and, according to Mike at World of Tile, that can make a huge difference as the pre-mixed has additives to keep it from setting up in the container. I'm a believer!

We've got about a dozen more cuts and then we're done with the tile saw (at least for a couple of weeks - we haven't even started the island, the desk, or the backsplash, yet!).

Here are a few pictures:

Now that there's a top on our lower cabinets, it's time to re-fill them. I'm taking some time on this as the way we use the kitchen has changed dramatically in the last 15 years (from 3-going-on-4 young children and just trying to get everyone fed everyday to 9 kids ages 6 -21 and experimenting with more gourmet fare and wanting to extend more hospitality), so the kitchen is in need of a re-organization as well as a facelift. The new cabinets are going to make this a much nicer proposition than it was before!

I'm working to figure out the division of the different areas of the kitchen. Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing from the Inside Out, calls it the kindergarten method of organization. Figure out what you do where and put things away where they're close to where they're used. This is what I'll be thinking about as I lay tile this afternoon.
And if anyone's interested - school's been called on account of tile. Actually, this is a kind of intensive vocational/real life skills class. :-D

3:43 p.m.

Grout is mixed and will be ready in a couple of minutes to be used. I'm starting with the smallest counter between the fridge and the stove. Then I'll begin on the other side of the stove and start working my way around the 'U'. Drew is still marking tiles and Jared and Nathan are taking turns cutting them. It's cold out there, especially with the water running off of the tile saw. And we had a bit of hail this afternoon.
5:17 p.m.

I've gotten from the fridge to the stove to the sink to the corner of the peninsula. This is kind of fun! The lines are all, well, lining up, everything is level and it all feels smooth. Boys are mixing up another batch of thinset while I take a little break.

While working, I've been listening to 'My Top Rated' playlist on iTunes: Chicago, Petra, Billy Joel, Eric Bibb, Finding Neverland, Kenny Loggins, Journey, REO Speedwagon, Joshua Bell, Bertie Higgins, Christopher Cross, the Righteous Brothers, etc., etc. Makes the work go much faster!
7:14 p.m.

We've gotten around to the last bit of the peninsula. It's gotten a bit harder: my arm started cramping at on point and the plywood underlayment has a bit of a bow in it, so we're having to build up a thicker bed of thinset on the far side to keep things level. So far, it's working, but I've gotten to a point where I need Drew's help and I'm so glad he's here. One more large tile, a few filler pieces, and the rest of the edging and we're done with the counters. The island and desk will be a cakewalk after this as they're both simple rectangles - no turns. We're also planning on purchasing new plywood pieces the same day we install them so they aren't stored standing up and begin to bow, which is what happened with the peninsula piece.

We were supposed to grill burgers tonight, but the weather has precluded that, so we've sent Jared out for Arby's.

03 February 2008

More Kitchen

We're finally laying tile - for real!

Drew started with the edging tiles. Once those are set and level, we'll work back from there. The boys are continuing to cut strips for the front vertical edging. They're also working on some of the other diagonal cuts we'll need for the back wall.

It's starting to look like a counter!

Drew also decided that the groutline from the 1/16" spacers was too big, so we're eyeballing our groutlines and they're closer to 1/32". The won't be perfect, but Drew's working with straight edges so we hope to have minimum drifting. Also, the tiles are manufactured to fairly tight specs, which means we don't have to have larger groutlines to compensate for lopsided tiles.


Kitchen Progress, IV

We are finally dry-laying tiles! Drew, Jared, and Nathan have figured out how to use the tile saw for precision cuts and they are looking great!

Benjamin is still filming and I've been snapping lots of stills. I don't have time to upload any yet - we're on a roll and I don't want to slow things down. I'll post pictures if I have time tomorrow.

Confidence is high. We may actually finish this project before we retire!


02 February 2008

Kitchen Progress, III

The plywood is installed on the 'U'. {whew!!!}

We sorted through several boxes of tile, end caps, and battiscopa at World of Tile this afternoon to pick out the specific pieces we wanted to use. I'll say it again: I love World of Tile. As overwhelming as this job seemed, we've received nothing but encouragement, information, and help.

The hardybacker board is screwed on (with the exception of a couple of places that need some unusual-sized and -shaped pieces). We still have to cut and screw on the edging pieces of hardybacker board (and we'll need more screws before we're done) - maybe tonight when it gets too late to run the tile saw we can focus on that as we have two drills. We have the tile saw until Monday morning, and will dive in again right after church tomorrow afternoon to cut it all. One of the single young men from church volunteered to come over and help later in the week. We may take him up on that.

I don't have any pictures to upload because Anna has the camera to take pictures at corporate youth tonight, but I hope to get some more uploaded tomorrow.

Once we finish the hardybacker board, we'll dry-fit the tiles to make sure we've got everything cut right and then it'll be time to start mixing thinset and laying tile. {whoo-hoo!!!}
Yesterday, Rebekah was sick with a stomach flu, but she's much better today. I'm still working to keep my stomach calm, but the headache is going away and I'm not feeling quite so queasy.