Tuesday, November 25, 2014

OK, done!...

Purchased this little condo at the beginning of May...

Living Room Before:

Living Room After:

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen After:

Eat-in Area Before:

Eat-in Area After:

Take a walk down the hall:

Bathroom Before:

Bathroom After:

Bedroom Before:

Bedroom After:

Utility Room Before:

Utility Room After:

We put in 350 hours of work in 7 months.  Now we're ready to accept tenants!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

they tried to make me go to rehab but I said, 'no, no, no.'...

Just a little tune that comes to mind whenever I say that my mom is in rehab.  Perhaps when she was younger, she might should have gone to a real rehab, but this is just a nursing rehab after surgery.

She is doing very well, better than we all thought.

We've all brought her cookies; no worries!  She's going to be cookied out.

Her biopsy came back last week.  The golf ball sized mass that was in her colon...you guessed it...cancer.  Colon cancer stage IIc.  They give her 5 years.  She gives herself 3.  She will not do any treatment for it.  She's too old and frail, so quality of life was a key factor for the decision to not have treatment as it would not be good now and up until the end.  They didn't see any evidence of further issues in the lymph nodes, so perhaps they got it all...?  Who knows.  We don't want to find out.  Mom doesn't want to find out.

My sisters have gone back to their worlds on the east coast and so now mom is our responsibility.  That is, me and my brothers.  Hopefully the little schedule that was agreed upon will work, so that no one has to be there every day.

Her appetite is back and I haven't heard her yell at someone like she did me the other day since my dad was alive.  Ahhhh, the memories...

I'm in charge of her bills and things.  Not easy taking control of these things when you have no idea how she handles it...and how she wants to keep it handled.  I'm also in charge of calling companies, people and setting up appointments for her and her car and the such.

We had a little dark cloud hanging over us last week.  Among other things, my mom's dog Tootsie died while my brother was taking care of her during my mother's hospital stay.  Last week, I met up with my brother to take Tootsie to the animal hospital to have her cremated.  I pick up the ashes and a little plaque sometime in the next week.

We're thinking mom might be released within a week.  She'll still live on her own.  Maybe we'll be able to put the Long Term Care Insurance to use.  Not sure if now is the time, or if it should wait.

Anyway, she's doing great in rehab and I've walked in on her during her PT while she's pedaling a bike!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

she was just fine a week ago...

The last time I visited my mom, she was fine.  Her kind of fine, which includes shortness of breath, bent over...basically a little curmudgeon.

I couldn't see her on Monday because there were a bunch of things on my schedule,...she knew that and didn't call me to let me know that she had blood in her stool.  She didn't call me on Tuesday either...she wanted to see if she could take care of it herself by eating things such as bananas.  She waited until Wednesday morning (10/15) to call me at work to tell me what was going on with her.

Just my luck, we drove in to work with our new German student, Tilo...so now it was a little tricky since I didn't have a car, but I was able to leave work early and get her to her doctor.  Of course we knew that he would make her go to the hospital.  And he did.  He did a rectal exam on her and determined it was higher up.

Took her to the hospital where they had a room for her in observation.  She was not allowed to have food; only clear liquids.  She had been hungry when we arrived.

They made her do the prep work that night and the next day she had a colonoscopy.  After her colonoscopy, we found out that she had a polyp that had aggravated, large (size of a golf ball) and actively bleeding.  This needed to be removed.  Mom has COPD and is weak and frail and doesn't like the idea of old people being cut into because they have a tendency to get infections.

Took a couple of days before we were all convinced by the doctors that this is something that she SHOULD have done.  If she waits, she'll have all the risks she faces now, plus a bunch more because it would then become an emergency.

My oldest sister arrived on Saturday afternoon and is still here ~ spending all day at the hospital with my mom.  Here is her blog post from yesterday.

Sunday morning mom had the surgery.  She did very well and didn't need a ventilator after the procedure.  But, she is in a LOT of pain.  So, they give her plenty of pain meds such as codine and morphine...which were making her completely loopy.  She was counting ceiling tiles and telling us that she was up there cleaning them.  She did not believe that she had had the surgery and was still anxious about having it done.

Tuesday afternoon, I brought my sister with me to look at after care facilities.  We looked at three and two looked very nice,...and one looked sort of horrible.  Reminded me of everything you don't want your parents to live in.  However, on-line reviews of these places and from what I hear from our Sister-in-law who works at the hospital, the one that looks bad is one of the better ones.  Decisions...

Yesterday (Wednesday ~ a week after arriving), she was having trouble breathing, not getting enough air, they think she has a UTI and is becoming septic.  They moved her into ICU.  They put a huge, high-powered oxygen mask on her to force air into her lungs; kind of a less invasive ventilator.  Now, no food whatsoever and no IV.  She hasn't eaten real food since last Wednesday.

When you visit her, she wants to talk but you can't hear her because of this mask...it's very frustrating.  We downloaded an app that she could use to write out what she wanted...she only did it once, and what was the thing she wanted to tell us?  "Get me a cookie" !!! Glad she has a craving for "real" food!

We asked the nurse if we could bring her dog in.  She told us that they only allow that if the dog is a worker dog or if the patient is in hospice....and your mom is no where near that!  Very glad to hear that!

Today looks a little better.  She is off the high-powered oxygen mask and can have some semi-solid foods such as applesauce and cream of wheat.  Her vitals are pretty good, the blood ox is good and the respiratory are good...her heart rate is a little high.

My other sister will arrive on Saturday, along with her son Nick.  That will free up my other sister to finally go back home and get some rest.

Once she's all better, I'm going to get her the best tasting chocolate chip cookie I can find!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

health update...

Visited my cousin doctor (the GI) today for a follow up.  He told me that after looking at the results of my colonoscopy, I look very good and I won't need to have another CT Scan until sometime in the next 6 months to a year.

I've lost 10 lbs. since my last visit with him, which was July 1.  So, I guess that's not too bad - 10 lbs. in three months.  So, if I can keep this up, by Christmas, I'll be down 20 lbs.  That would be nice.

Also had the HealthCheck360 at Jerome's work and I've improved in a lot of areas from the previous two years.  I guess the biggest improvement would be that my overall cholesterol level is 153.  Two years ago I was just above 200.  I don't remember a time when my cholesterol level was so low...really.

So, I can now go on with my life knowing that I am doing pretty well.  The chronic kidney disease, hemangioma and fatty liver all contributed to me finally deciding to eat / drink better.  Still, I'm not eating the absolute best I could, but I'm taking steps in that direction.

In March, when I stopped eating fast food, stopped drinking diet pop (or any pop) and started drinking water, I didn't notice anything in my everyday life that improved.  In July, when I stopped eating so much sugary things such as cereal, cookies, ice cream, stopped drinking coffee and started eating things that were good for my liver such as lemon, avocado, walnuts, leafy greens, green tea, etc. I did notice a few things.  Very few headaches.  No more feeling pukey.  Heart flutters (AFIB) stopped.  A bit more energy.  Less aches and pains.

That is also when I started seriously following the MyFitnessPal app.  I'm trying to stay within a 1200 calorie a day diet.  It's not easy AT.ALL!  But, I'm living.

Still need to go for walks more often.  There's always room for improvement.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

a landlord's work is never done ~ don't be one if you know you can't handle it...

We are still working on the little condo we bought in May.  I did a little excel spreadsheet to figure out how much time we have spent working on that place.

The first month we spent the most time working.  88.5 hours.
August was the least amount of time spent working.  11 hours.

If you average all the months since we've owned it, we're averaging 49 hours a month.  That's just a little more than 6 business days a month. So, that would explain a little as to why it's taking us so long.  BUT...we are getting there.

We finished tiling the shower surround and bathroom backsplash along with installing the vanity and light fixture.

There's still a lot more on our list of things to complete before we can put it up on Craigslist, but we're keeping our fingers crossed that by the end of this month, we'll be done.

~ ~ ~

Now, on to the latest fiasco with Riverside.

On September 3rd, we were informed by our tenant that the fridge was leaking and water was filling up one of the shelves.  We tried to walk him through how to fix it, but it was still leaking, so Jerome went to check it out...he did what he could and was going to do some research to see how to fix it.

After going back another time to try to fix it, he decided that we would replace it.  He had me check Craigslist but everything seemed pretty beat up so we checked at local appliance stores.  It was either going to be ABC Warehouse or Sears Outlet.

Jerome stopped by ABC Warehouse and was told by the salesperson that we shouldn't go through Sears Outlet because they are either floor models or returns.  After trying and failing to up-sell, he showed Jerome a fridge that would work for the space and we decided to get it.

The GE fridge was delivered on September 13th.  Right away I noticed that there were scuff marks on the side of the door.  Because of the way our kitchen is set up, the handles needed to be moved from their default location on the left to the right.  We were supposed to tell the salesman that we needed that to be done and he would have charged us an additional amount of money.  Jerome did it himself.  Once it was done we noticed a little dent where the handle used to be.  Very tiny but when you buy something brand new, you expect it to be pristine.

We were to hold onto the box for a week, just in case the fridge needed to be returned.  I looked inside the box and noticed a paper.  I grabbed it and looked.  It was a pick-up/delivery form that said the fridge was a return because it was too tall.  Hummm!  The salesman discouraged us from going to his competitor because the competitor's fridge would be a return...so Jerome stopped by to see the salesman and show him the paper.  It was agreed that a new door would be delivered.

A week later, fridge #2 came and they replaced the doors.  They give you a timeframe for when they will arrive.  It seems to always be between 8-12.  They are supposed to call you an hour before they arrive.  I had a dentist appointment that day that was just down the street from Riverside, so it would work out perfectly.  Once I was done with the dentist, I went down the street to the house and sat in the car in the driveway and ate lunch.  Several minutes went by and Jerome texted me asking if I was there when they delivered the fridge.  WHAT?! WAS I THERE?  Did they deliver already?  I went in and our tenant was there.  He was angry because the fridge door would not remain closed.  He had to use tape in order to keep the door closed.  They also didn't apply any of the hole covers and screw covers.  So, Jerome called ABC and talked to the sales guy and they said that they would send another fridge (#3) out the next day.

This is all fine and good, only we have a life too...we were supposed to be at my cousin's house for brunch at 11am.  Plus we needed to deliver some things to Habitat for Humanity that morning...AND also be at the house for delivery.  We had our niece with us this time, so the time went by pretty fast.  But again, once the door handle was moved from the left to the right, it revealed a much larger dent than the first fridge had.  Salesman was called again.  He offered us $50 to keep it.  We said no.  Now we had to wait until Tuesday...if you're counting, this will be fridge #4...and this one again wouldn't close once the handles and hinges were moved from left to right.

The delivery guy said that he would ask the salesman if we could exchange types of fridges; from GE to Frigidaire.  He had never had issues with changing the handles with that model of Frigidaire...the salesman agreed to do it (they were actually the same price, so a wash for them) and it would be delivered on Friday.

It came, they moved the handles, everything looked good, no scuffs, no dings.  We signed on the dotted line. 

That day, Jerome called the salesman to see if he could do a little something for us since we were so put-out in this process.  On Friday, the salesman called the house and said that he could only credit us $30.  I was the one that took the call because Jerome was out and I said, so you can't credit us the $50 my husband was trying to get?  Salesman said his boss wouldn't let him.  So, I told him that I would have my husband call him later this evening so that he could tell him.  A few minutes later, he called back saying that they will be able to credit us $50.  I'm pretty sure he just didn't want to feel the wrath of Jerome again.

Now, on Monday, I needed to go back there because DTE was picking up the original fridge that had been moved into the garage since the beginning of the month.  Again they give you a pick up time of between 8-12.  I got there at 8 and my tenant was home.  I asked him if he was going to be home for the morning and could he be there for DTE, otherwise I would need to sit in my car waiting for them for up to 4 hours.  He said that he could.  I asked him how the new one is working and he said that the freezer frosted up a few times before it finally cooled completely.  Phew! Good thing because I am not planning on doing this little dance any longer.

Moral of the story...not sure.  The first fridge was the best one, even though it had scuffs and a small dent.  Should we have been content with that one?  Should we have taken the $50 and kept the 3rd one?  Should we have not moved the handles from the left to the right?  It was a lot of wasted time but I think we now have the better fridge.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

the way you don't want to see europe...

  • 3 days prior to leaving, I had an abscessed tooth that required me to have an unscheduled visit to the dentist to have it irrigated.  Was given a prescription for antibiotics that I needed to take for a week, ibuprofen and Tylenol 3's.
  • Our flight from DTW to LGA was delayed...it was looking like we weren't going to be able to grab our connection to Ireland.  We arrived just on time and ran through the airport and luckily they were still boarding the plane.  Out of breath, we entered the plane and it sat at the gate for another hour or so.
  • Our luggage did not make the flight.
  • After not having desserts and basically anything sugary for a couple of weeks, I decided I could splurge and ordered myself a bread pudding with creme anglaise...to my dismay, I had a bad reaction and found myself quickly in a bathroom.
  • Flying from DUB to CDG we were at the absolute back of the plane (not my favorite place, I prefer the wing and forward).  I had been feeling the constant urge to pee for a few days, so I was using the bathroom (directly behind me) several times.  The final time I went in, I thought that the lid was up...and I hover over and pee...to my dismay, the lid was down and I didn't notice until I felt...warm.  I managed to drench myself all over the seat of my jeans.  Luckily, I had a hoodie on so I could wrap it around my waist so that no one would be the wiser...and once we landed and got our rental car, I was able to get changed out of my super damp clothes...while driving on a Paris highway.
  • While visiting Brussels, I started what will be called the worst period of my life.  I had to find a bathroom every 1/2 hour...I was bleeding through so quickly.  I don't know why, I've never had it that bad....THEN, the cramps!!  UGH!  We needed to drive from Aalst to CDG to turn in our rental car, then we had plans to walk around Paris a bit before we would head back to CDG to grab a train to Dijon, where his parents would pick us up...the entire time needing to use a bathroom every 1/2 hour...and not always being able to find one.

  • Used the bathroom in the train but couldn't figure out how to close the door.  While in the middle of using the bathroom, the door rolls open.  Luckily, no one saw anything...at least that's what I'm telling myself.
  • The next day we needed to pack up and drive 3+ hours north with his parents to Annecy France for a wedding.  I was feeling so ill and still bleeding profusely, I asked to stay back but that was not received well.
  • The wedding was that same day and French wedding parties last the entire night into the wee hours of the morning.  We were there until 4am (the party was not yet over)...and then needed to drive back to our hotel with his brother, sister and their spouses.  There was a detour that had us taking an hour to get to the hotel.
  • We needed to be up and ready to go to the brides parents house the next day, at the earliest 11:30am.
  • After all is done in Annecy and we're back at his parent's house in Corgoloin...I don't see the foot board of the bed that is sticking out and slam my leg into it...later the other leg...later the first leg again.  HUGE welts and bruises.  Eventually, I learned.
  • After having a nice dinner at his brother's house, we are heading back to his parent's house and I start sneezing...I can feel the drainage in the back of my throat.  I have caught a cold.
  • Sick in bed the whole next day.  His mom brings down the thermometer to check my temperature.  I pop it in my mouth and she gasps...turns out, it's not for the mouth but for the rear-end.  I don't care and just leave it in my mouth.  I don't have a fever.  But now I have the possibility of having caught butt-hole disease from all the sick butts the thermometer was in prior to my mouth.
  • ...then home and jet lag.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

things have got to change around here...

Health is a funny thing.  People say things like "when you've got your health, you've got everything"...which is pretty true.  When you feel sick, it really takes a lot out of you...even a little sick.

Having grown up with a father who had MS and was progressively getting worse, you'd have thought that all of us kids (there's 5 of us) would have gotten a clue about the importance of taking good care of ourselves.  There is not a one of us that wants to even come close to what our dad had to go through...especially in the last days.  Or what my mother had to go through while being his caregiver.

But alas, we all have our crosses to bear.

I've felt a little sick every now and then for a good portion of my adult life.  Sometimes is was self-induced, such as a horrible hang over, but I haven't drunk like that for years.

At the beginning of the year I noticed a pain in my stomach, perhaps my intestines...right under my ribcage.  Went to see a new doctor who did some blood work and informed me that I have chronic kidney disease, stage 2...but it's nothing to worry about.  Just stay away from Advil (metabolizes through the kidneys)...I decided that I'd stop drinking pop (specifically diet) and replace that with mostly water.  Also, I thought that I should stop eating fast food.

Then I set myself up with an appointment with a GI doctor.  The doctor I chose to see is related to me through my mom...his father and my mother are cousins.  So what does that make us?  Well, we're pretty much strangers.

He had blood work done and prescribed a CT Scan and Colonoscopy and EGD. So far I've done the blood work and CT Scan.  I did this on July 8 and never heard a thing from his office about what they might have found.

I was all ready to have my Colonoscopy on August 4 but the week or so prior, my heart was fluttering so much that I thought it would not be wise to be put under, so I called to postpone until mid-September.

While on the phone to reschedule, I asked about my CT Scan results.  I was placed on hold while they checked.  The doctor got on the phone and quickly told me I have a blood tumor, it's benign and it's nothing to worry about.  He wants me to get another CT Scan in three months.  He told me to get an EKG at my PCP's office and he would be fine with me rescheduling the colonoscopy.

When I hung up with him, I was a bit stunned.  Tumor.

I called my sisters and my mom and they had so many questions that I couldn't answer, such as how do they know it's benign?  Where is it?

So...I called back and was told by the nurse that it's in my liver.  Oh!  I asked if there was anything that I can do to fix this?  She said "all you asked me was where it is...that's the only thing I asked the doctor, but you can pick up the report at our office".  More stunned.  Liver.  Liver...my grandma died of liver disease...

Friday I picked up the report and tried to make an appointment to go over the findings.  He wouldn't be free until the beginning of October!  I waited and read the report when I was with my sister and my mom.  So it seems I have a 9mm X 13mm "tumor" and a cyst in my liver...the liver is also diffusely fatty infiltrated, which means widespread fatty throughout...probably would make a good foie gras for a cannibal.  And a small hiatal hernia.

So, if you're counting, that make three organs; heart, kidneys, liver...

On Monday I went to see my PCP and asked him and the nurse practitioner a bunch of questions.  As it turns out, the "tumor" is a bundle of blood vessels that are intertwined like a rubber band ball.  It's possible I've had this for quite some time.  Nothing I can do about it other than if it starts bothering me (as in pain), then I can get a minorly invasive procedure done to have it removed.  Should not worry about it at this point.

The fatty liver can be addressed by diet.  He said any diet will do.  But I have decided to try really hard to stay away from white refined sugar, coffee and I looked up what foods are good for the liver and try to incorporate at least one of those items in my meal plan every day.  Also, I am either biking or walking just about every day.  And in the meantime, trying to lose weight.

I am once again using the MyFitnessPal app and have lost a pound already.  That's 1/30th of my goal ;-)

In three months, I'll have the CT Scan again and see how I've done with the diet, my fatty liver and see if there is any difference in the size or shape of the blood tumor (also known as hemangioma).


Thursday, July 31, 2014

july has rolled on by (part 2)...

We had visits from both of my sisters this summer.  Deni first and then Terry and Bill.  While Deni was here, she and I took a walk into Romeo and had a snack at the Antique Bank Cafe.  I showed her one of my favorite shops; Two Romeo Girls.  Also showed her some pretty gardens in downtown Romeo.

While Terry was here, I took them to Harsen's Island.  We ate at the Schoolhouse Grille and took a lot of pictures.  It was a beautiful day, perfect for a short ferry ride to the local island.

We also made plans to see a Tiger's game with whomever in the family wanted to come.  You have to see at least one every year.  Later we met up with my brother Ray at Hard Rock Cafe and took Felix to the casino so that he could play Roulette.  He was pretty drunk and put all of his money on black.  Immediately, red came up.  All of his money was gone.  We heard about it all the way home.

We had a bunch of AirBnB visitors this summer.  If you count Felix, we've had 7.

  1. Our first guests were a couple that were traveling to San Francisco in order for her to get some training in her field.  He was from Michigan and we were their first stop.  After talking with him for a while, we found a connection.  His uncle is a big supporter of the Detroit Grand Prix and Jerome volunteers for the Grand Prix every year.  There was only one degree between the uncle and Jerome.
  2. The next guest was a business man that we in town to show the ropes to someone who was going to expand his business.  His business is making take home, nutritionally balanced food for underprivileged children in Macomb County.  He was also a pastor and his family have the entrepreneurial bug and have a business with their bunnies.  They rent their bunnies to people who are having birthday parties, photo shoots, all kinds of events.  They will also sell the meat and fur and breed some bunnies for people who want pets.  Then they also board bunnies for people who are going on vacation.
  3. Then we had a couple that were in town for a wedding. This was their first time using AirBnB and their first time staying at a Bed & Breakfast at all.  The strange thing is that they left us a side note in our reviews that the only thing they would change is the toilet paper.  Not sure exactly what they meant and never received a return email letting us know.
  4. The next was a man who would arrive by bicycle.  He was on a trip from Muskegon, MI to Buffalo, NY; this year's continuation of his trip from the west coast to the east coast.
  5. Then a couple from Toronto Canada on their way to Chicago.  They were teachers and were going to a conference in Chicago.  Very Canadian-friendly and even left Jerome and Felix a couple of beers to enjoy while watching the World Cup.
  6. Finally, there was the mother that was coming up from Indianapolis to visit with her sons.  She stayed with us for 4 days.  You get to know a little more about a person when they are staying with you for so long.  She was divorced from her first husband and he had custody of the boys.  It had been a while since she had been up to see them and it seemed that our price was right.  Being that I work part-time, I spent more time with her than Jerome did, so I got to know her a bit more.  We had a lot of conversations about kids, old marriages and relationships in general.

I do not fool myself, I know that these people are not my long-term friends, but AirBnB has really given us the opportunity to get to know a nice segment of the population of this earth.  It's been pretty cool and I would recommend it to anyone who would want to open their home.

We went to see one of my favorite musical artist, Sarah MacLaughlin at Meadowbrook Music Theatre.

We took Felix to Frankenmuth; Little Bavaria.  Met up with our buds, Dee & Lou.  We had the World Famous Chicken dinner at the Bavarian Inn.  He said that the food reminded him of home.

Visited Pratap and Deepa.  Got to see our Argentinian friend's kids for the first time in years, Lisa and Pedro.  I am now Facebook friends with them, so I can see how they grow up.

Continued to work on all the rentals.

Getting ready for our upcoming trip to Europe.

Went to the St. Clair boat races at Dee's mom's house.  She's right on the St. Clair river.  The boats do a turn right in front of her house.

There was the first in a series of bad storms that day and some branches came down at 251.  We needed to go and chainsaw them up and fix a portion of the fence that came down with them.  Needed to again a week or so later when a full tree came down.

Monday, July 7, 2014

july has rolled on by (part 1)...

We had a busy July.  The weather seems a lot cooler than what we've been used to in past years.

At the beginning of July, we went on a bit of a road trip to Tennessee.  My friend Debbie invited us to her aunt Bev's house for their annual 4th of July party.  Why not?  It was an excuse to stop working on the condo and also to show Felix a couple more states in the United States.

Typical of my husband, he had ideas!!!  He wants to do fun things on our vacations so he mentioned that it would be cool to go ziplining.  We would be passing by two cool areas that offered ziplining; one was in Hocking Hills, OH and the other was in Cave City, KY.  Out of the two, the Cave City one was much cheaper.  It was also closer to our destination and at first we were trying to hook up with some friends that have relocated to Tennessee.  However, this didn't work out because this year, Ramadan fell right on the 4th of July and they are Muslim...so no fun for them...oh well, next time.

We were also planning on going on a cave tour at this same time, but when we got there it was so busy that weekend that they were all booked up.  So we bought tickets for the day we would be driving back.

We booked a couple of rooms in a very nice looking AirBnB 30-45 minutes away from my friend's aunt's house.  Good thing we didn't go on the cave tour because as we were driving to our BnB after ziplining, I decided it was time to call the host and let him know when we would be arriving.  It was around 5pm when I called and we weren't going to get there until 7:30-8pm.  He was not happy with us.  In a perfect world, he would have wanted to have been contacted much earlier so that he could plan his day.  I felt pretty badly, but also a little put off.  It's been a while since I've been scolded...let alone from someone I don't know.  We found out as the weekend went on that he was a little anal about time, being on time and what you did with your time.  We found out other things too...but before we did, we were greeted with lemonade and conversation.

The house was pretty amazing.  It sits on the top of a hill that overlooks some of the foot hills and a cow pasture.  It was built in the 90's to look like an old fashioned Victorian from the outside.  The inside boasted 5600 sq. ft. of living space, several bedrooms and bathrooms.  We were taken on a tour and were very impressed.  He had vintage political posters and photos of him with several presidents.  He purchased the house from the lead singer of the country band Lonestar.

He mentioned that he had owned 13 restaurants, bars, clubs from 5 stars to fast food...not all at the same time.  He was just divorced from I think his 5th wife.  He's got 5 kids all under the age of 13...he was in his retirement years.  He is a member of the millionaire's club....and he was going to cook breakfast for us!  Isn't that something?

We stayed that evening and sat by the pool (Jerome swam) and talked with the other couple that was staying on the property.  We had to stop at Walmart to pick up some beer and snacks for the party and then stopped and had dinner at the local Sonic (our first time).  We turned in early because the next day was going to be pretty full.

The party was really fun.  We all had a great time.  We started out by going to the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree, which is a festival in Smithville, TN that they have every year.  I went to it when Debbie and I visited back in the early 90's.  This features dancers, bluegrass, art and craft shows and a very small gaming area.  It really hasn't gotten much better in the many years between visits.  However, Felix did find a very cool instrument that he ended up purchasing.  It's called a Woodruff and it's sort of a banjo, ukelele, small guitar.  It's was pretty cool and we kind of peer pressured Felix into buying it.  Now he's having trouble figuring out how he going to get it home to Germany!

After the Jamboree, we went to Bev's and relaxed before being brought by a huge ATV, driven by Bev's grandson Dalton, down the road and to the river.  We were going to walk to the falls.

The hill to get down to the river was crazy steep.  We held on tight and waited for the rest of our group.  The walk to the falls was pretty cool, up a trickling brook, under some fallen trees.  The light was strange because it was the middle of the day but it was sort of dark and the light had sort of a greenish tone.  When we were ready to head back, we ran into some other folks that were taking the walk to the falls.  They told us of another set of falls just up the road a piece, so we decided to go investigate that one too.

Dalton then expertly drove us all back up the hill and back to the party where some were swimming in the pool, some were riding horses and others were just lazing around waiting for the party to get started.

By nightfall, Felix was pretty drunk.  He was in competition with Debbie's husband Curt.  They hit it off pretty well.  Actually, it seems Felix left quite an impression on most of the people at the party.

They shot off fireworks and unbeknownst to us, the horses got spooked and somehow got out of their pen.  For about an hour or more, everyone was in search of the horses, in the dark - drunk.

We eventually had to leave and hoped for the best when it came to the horses...they ended up finding them the next morning in a field 2 miles away.  Animals don't like fireworks.

We were leaving the next day, making a stop at the Mammoth Caves to have our cave tour.  Felix was not doing very well.  He slept the entire time driving from the BnB in TN to the Mammoth Caves in KY.  Luckily for all of us, he did not get sick.

Mammoth Caves are nice and cool and it helped Felix with his major hangover.  By the end, he was feeling much better.

We drove all the way home after that and got home that night.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

month ONE with Felix...

Felix is staying with us for the summer.  He is a student intern at Takata Germany and for his degree he needs to work at Takata for 6 months a year.  Takata Germany decided that he should do a rotation in the US for three of those months.

So far we've done a few things with him and we hope to give him some more memories...

We've driven him through Grosse Pointe to Detroit - always a shock to the system...
Comerica Park
Belle Isle
MINI trip to Gun Lake
Many, many BBQ's and parties
Green Dot Stables and Ocean Prime + many other restaurants (including Younger's!)
My brother's house for our niece's 15th birthday...

We will take him to Tennessee and go zip-lining and cave exploring at the Mammoth Caves in Kentucky.

We are planning a trip to Frankenmuth in mid-July.

Hopefully he'll go to Toronto, Niagara, Mackinac Island...but most likely those places he'll have to go on his own.

backsplash tiles and faucet...

Photo taken with iPhone camera

So, nearly 2 months later and we've almost finished the kitchen.  Also, the only room that still needs paint is the living room...oh, scrap that - we haven't even started in the bathroom yet.  The bathroom will take us another month.  I think we won't be done until after we're back from our trip in August - which is a big bummer, but I think whomever rents this place from us will be happy with all the updates.

I've been sweatily wearing my mask/respirator constantly now and I took the advice of a friend and fellow blogger and have brought some shop fans in and have them blowing out the windows the whole time we're there...and thus, I am feeling a lot better.  The sinus drainage has nearly stopped and the throat irritation doesn't seem to be there any longer.  This is a HUGE relief to my overworked brain.

What still needs to be done in the kitchen...
 - dishwasher needs to be hooked up
 - outlets need to be installed
 - counter top needs to be cut to size and glued down (on the opposite side from this photo)
 - toe kick needs to be installed
 - stove and fridge need to be cleaned up a little more
 - 1/4 round needs to be installed
 - window covering needs to be purchased and installed
 - trim at the top of the cabinets needs to be installed
 - countertop sides need to be adhered (ironed on)
 - some paint touch-up to the wall
 - perhaps some cabinet knobs would need to be purchased and installed - however, Jerome is not thrilled about it
 - the floor needs washing...and with that, I think the kitchen is done.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

ok, here's an update...

...this reno is going to kill me.

It's taking so long because we only go to the condo after work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, usually 6-9pm and then we try to go the whole day on Sunday, which is never before noon.

We are s.u.p.e.r. s.l.o.w.!!!  I haven't stopped painting and I'm still not done.  We have so much stuff in all the rooms, it's difficult to go around stuff in order to paint.

I have to wear my mask the entire time now because I am having throat / breathing issues.  I went to the doctor about it last week.  I was prescribed an antibiotic, a probiotic and a steroid.  All these meds made me feel like $h!t with heart palpitations, tightness of the chest, surprise diarrhea and just all around yuk.  I'm off of all those meds now and the original symptoms are still here.  I really hope my body will overcome this once we are all done.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Peyton is growing up...

I was able to squeeze some time in on Tuesday to go see my granddaughter.  With everyone's busy schedules, I hadn't seen her since my birthday in April and that feels way too long. 

She was just coming home from dance class. Her first recital is coming up next week Saturday. She looked so cute with her tiny bun on her head :)

I noticed with this visit that she is beginning to interact in a more grown-up manner, which is super cute.

Another noticeable thing was my DIL's belly!  She's expecting and due in November.  Hadn't seen her in that long as well, so this was the first time I saw that she was showing.  Growing family.

upper cabinets...hung!...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

dream, dream, dream...

Well, I think I was dreaming a little bit about how much work I could have our summer student intern do...I don't feel too comfortable yet to have him do too much, but last Friday I had spent the greater part of the day cutting down and burning the bamboo that died over the winter.  There was a ton.  It happened that Jerome and Felix showed up in the middle of it and I asked Felix to help cut the bamboo up into little pieces so that it could get burned easier in our little elevated fire pit.  We worked until it was dark.  He says he's used to doing work like that since he's from Bavaria and the forest.  Good to know :-)

We've taken Felix to a couple of MINI Cooper Club events.  One was a BBQ that one of the MCC members was having at his house.  His event was called "Drink all the beers!"  Felix really liked that and when it was time to leave was asking "why is it time to leave?"

The following weekend we had a MINI Cooper drive to the other side of the state.  It was a memorial drive for our fellow members that passed away last year.  Took us 2h 45m to get there and then we drove around for a couple of hours and then we had to drive back to our side of the state to attend our niece's birthday party.  Jerome mistakenly told Felix that we are usually the last to leave this party...and when people were still there at midnight and we were wanting to leave, again Felix started with the "why is it time to leave?  I thought you said you are the LAST to leave!"  It's like we have an instant adult kid! :-)

We've also taken him on a little tour of Detroit via Grosse Pointe and had dinner at the Green Dot Stables.

Still working slowly on the condo.  The girl that said she was interested in renting was quickly disinterested and we're not exactly sure as to why, but that allows us to NOT have a deadline and I think we're OK with that.

I don't have many photos to show the progress because the progress is on things that don't show well in pictures...that's my story!

We still have the water heater unattached and in the bathroom.  Hope to get that taken care of in the next week.  Jerome has cut all of the tiles for the laundry/utility room and it's all ready for adhesive.

We have picked up the kitchen cabinets from the Home Depot* and we will attempt to hang the uppers tonight.  That means that I have finished the two coats of paint in the kitchen - YEE HAW!  Maybe this place will start to shape up!

*long story in another post regarding this.