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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Perfect.

He was 6'4", handsome as hell, fun, crazy smart and had a heart of gold. He loved us like no other man could ever love us.

He wasn't perfect, but he was perfect for me.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dear Matt...

Five years. Your brother Jeff counted 1825 days... It seems like an eternity, and to think of how much more time we have to be here without you is really depressing, but I count my blessings to be alive and able to raise our children - especially since you would probably give anything to be here with us to do the same.

In some ways, I've come a long way in these five years, and in others, I'm still kind of stuck. Thankfully, I've talked to some of my fellow widowed friends, and it's a normal kind of stuck - at least for some of us...

I'm finally done running away, and numbing the pain with the excitement of new relationships that don't last, trying to find someone to fill the void in vain.  Now I need to face some things head on that I'm sure I've been avoiding for the last five years. I'm not quite sure exactly what they are, but I think it's just a matter of staying put in one place and finally getting settled that will allow for more healing. At least I'm doing it with my head on a little straighter, and with my best friends by my side.

I still can't grasp the concept that I'm now older than you...

You would be so proud of your kids - they got all of your best traits! Your good looks, your intelligence (particularly for math!), and your spunky personality and sense of humor. Don't get me wrong - I take some credit... We were similar in some of those ways, too, which is probably why we got along so well!

Jacob dances to the beat of his own drum just like you, too. He thinks many rules don't apply to him, like you. ;) He is kicking ass in all his classes. Even though he's only in fourth grade, if I had to help him do as well as he is doing in math, I'd be lost. He thinks outside the box and comes up with unique solutions to problems. He has the kindest heart of anyone I know. He loves planting seeds and nurturing them and watching them grow. He harvested seeds from our bean plants so he can plant them again in the spring. Same thing with the marigolds. We've been having a lot of fun with gardening!

Sydney is a spunky little spitfire and gets more beautiful by the day. She's doing so well in first grade, and loves to read. She especially loves math! She takes ballet and enjoys every moment of it. She still looooves to talk. A lot. She adores babies - oohs and aaahs over them where ever we go. She has such a nurturing personality. She's talked about wanting to be a doctor when she grows up - I told her she might like to be the kind of doctor that delivers babies or takes care of babies. She might do a little fashion design on the side. We have lots of time to figure that stuff out...

Jacob and Sydney still play together well for the most part, but that sibling rivalry is kicking in a bit now with their ages. Fortunately, we're now living close to Karin and Connie and all the kids love playing together - plus, there's lots of kids in the neighborhood and that that we've met through school. The school is awesome and their teachers this year are really wonderful.

You know all this, though.... I know you're with us every day, and I'm so grateful for that. I'm especially grateful when I can feel your presence. I'm sorry for all the times I've cursed you out for leaving, even though I know it wasn't your choice.

We all appreciate you lending a hand with keeping your dad here a bit longer. Please give some extra love to your little cousin Jake who really needs your help. He is literally going through hell right now.

I love you and miss you every moment of every day. Every day until you're there to greet me at those pearly gates. I can finally say that I hope that's not for a very long time, though (for that, I've come a long way). I want to be fully present for our kids and help care for our grandchildren someday.

All my love forever...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Interior Painting 101

I recently finished painting nearly every room in my home with pretty decent results. During and after this process, some of my friends have been asking me for advice on painting. I'm so honored that people think I did a good enough job to ask my advice - even the contractor who redid my kitchen and bath asked me for advice on the textured paint I used in the downstairs half-bath!

I'll do my best to cover any possible questions...

The first thing I did was go to my local Benjamin Moore paint store.  Matt and I always used Benjamin Moore with excellent results, and have a great rapport with the owners of our local store. It's Aurora Paint Pot in East Aurora, NY, in case anyone is wondering - they're awesome! (Benjamin Moore has a built in primer, goes on smoothly, and tends to dry quicker making it possible to apply a second coat sooner.)

Choose the paint colors you would like to use in the room(s) you would like to paint. This may take some time - you want to be sure of your decision because you're only gonna want to paint once. Bring swatches home, and if you really like a color, you can get a bigger swatch or even get a paint sample. Look at it in different lights. Too dark could make a small room seem smaller, too light could be blah. Be a little daring - color is fun! (After Matt and I built our house, every room was painted "bone white" until we could decide what colors we really wanted. Matt was afraid of color until I finally went over his head and made Jacob's new big boy room fun with color, and then he wanted to re-paint every room in the house!)

Next, get all the supplies you will need:
Paint (the store will give you stir sticks when you buy the paint)
Painter's tape (I highly recommend the green Frog Tape - it seems to be better at not letting paint seep underneath, and it comes off easier without ripping)
Paint can opener
Good angled brush for cutting in
Rollers and disposable roller covers
Roller tray with liners
"Handy" paint pail with liners
Damp rag for quick clean up of goofs
Drop cloth or old sheets for covering up furniture/floors
Step stool
and if you're doing ceilings, an extender pole (you can actually use the pole from your push broom if you have one - the head will unscrew from the pole, and the pole and paint rollers are compatible sizes)
Don't forget some good music!

Because I didn't want to keep putting all the paint supplies, etc. away every time I did a room, I decided to keep them out and paint all the rooms I intended to paint, one after the other. It was about a two week process, but with the mess that comes along with painting, it was worth it to have two weeks of mess and then clean up for good, then to drag out the process. I keep everything in a large Rubbermaid bin.

DOWN TO BUSINESS...

Take everything off the walls in the room you're working on and move furniture into center of the room. This includes switch/outlet plates. Make sure you do any repairs to walls beforehand so the spackle has time to completely dry and the surface is sanded smooth. Sand any bumps from previous paint jobs, and if painting over a somewhat glossy finish, rough up the service with some sand paper, too. The paint will adhere better that way. Wipe down surface of walls with a damp cloth. Tape all trim, light fixtures, etc. and throw sheets over furniture, etc.

Depending on how much time you have, you may want to do your paint prep the day before the actual painting. This process can be more time consuming than actually painting, but it's up to you.

Mix the paint and put some in the handy paint pail. Start cutting in with the angled brush - take your time! This is one of the reasons I tend to paint the ceilings the same color as the walls... (If you want to leave one wall in a room the same color and paint a different color on other walls, you can tape the wall you're not painting, and it makes a perfect line.) You may need two coats where you're cutting in, so go ahead and apply a second coat if needed. If you have to walk away from your project for a few moments while in the middle of it, put your paint brush in a ziplock bag so it doesn't dry out. If finished, clean off brush immediately.

Once the cutting in is complete, pour some paint into the tray and get your roller ready. Don't go too fast with the roller or you'll splatter more than necessary. Once you make your way around the room, you'll be ready for the second coat (another great thing about Benjamin Moore). If you're painting your ceilings, I would do them first to get them out of the way. Also, in case you splatter the walls with paint from the ceiling, they'll get covered up when you paint the walls.

When you're all done, carefully remove the tape. If the paint is dried over the tape, use a razor knife to make a slit so the paint doesn't end up peeling off when you pull the tape off.

TEXTURED PAINT.

I was going for an old-fashioned Mediterranean plaster look on the walls in my downstairs half bath. I researched it online, and several sites suggested using some expensive Venetian plaster with multiple steps, and requiring skill. I neither wanted to spend that much money (paint is expensive enough!), nor did I have that kind of time or those kinds of skills, so I wasn't willing to go forward with that plan.

I ended up getting sand-based texture paint (also Benjamin Moore) in the half-bath, and it turned out AWESOME. I found using a brush as opposed to a roller gave me the desired effect. I did up and down strokes, then went over them with side to side strokes. It's VERY messy, so use a drop cloth or sheet that you're willing to just throw in the garbage when you're done. Trying to use a roller will result in a bigger mess. Mix the paint VERY OFTEN - the sand settles quickly.

Whatever color you would like your textured walls is what you will paint them OVER the textured paint, and after it has dried (the textured paint might not have been 100% dry on my walls before painting them the desired color, but it still turned out good). The paint will provide a protective covering over the texture, making it also easier to wipe your walls when needed.

Well - I think that about covers it!! If anyone has any other questions, feel free to ask away! Happy Painting! =)