Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I'm Sorry...and Thanks, Dad

There are some things in life that you just can't truly and fully appreciate until you've lived it yourself.  Like parenting.  Let me tell you, I had the BEST advice for parents before I had my own kids.  Like, some really deep, reasonable ideas that would've made everyone a better parent or every kid listen better.  For whatever reason, people who were ACTUALLY parents didn't seem to care or even want to listen to my fabulous parenting advice.  I thought they were ridiculous.  

And then I had kids.  Four of them in six years, to be exact.  And very quickly I realized how idiotic my thoughts and ideas and "solutions" all were.  I mean, they SOUNDED nice, but in reality, many of them were super impractical.  

Moving on...This father's day, I called and wished my dad a Happy Father's Day, and was sure to say "thank you" for all the sacrifices he made for me, especially as a high school soccer player.  Especially because I was a total bratty high schooler towards him half the time, and now that I have kids playing sports, I'm starting to realize just how much he did for me.  

And so, here's my whole "I'm sorry" and "thank you" list, dad, which I can only now write because I'm actually a mom with littles in sports and I actually get it all now...

Thank you for all the Friday's off you took from work to take me to tournaments.  Were those vacation days you used?  You must've really loved me to have used them to drive me near and far while I listened to Smash Mouth's All Star on repeat.  For miles at a time. With the windows down.  #bestmemories 

I'm sorry for the time I blamed you for booking my return flight for the wrong day.  Pretty sure I'm the one who clicked that button.   I was a teenager who was far too eager to book my own flight on our super slow dial-up internet and could not be bothered to listen to your advice along the way (because you were "old" and simply could NOT understand what was going on).  Thanks for letting me go on that trip anyway. 

I'm sorry for the times I yelled at you for getting us "lost" on the way to the hotel in another city and state.  I really cannot grasp how difficult it used to be reading maps or using Mapquest in its early days.  Thanks for taking me.  #yayforsiri

Thanks for allowing me to steal your car nearly every day in high school so I could be "cool" and not ride the bus to and from school and to and from soccer practices.  Thanks for that.  It was totally unnecessary, obviously, but so awesome. 

Thank you for all the time you spent watching me compete and for always cheering me on.  Thanks for not being one of those annoyingly obnoxious parents, but a cheer-them-all-on parent.  

I'm sorry I never realized how important your calm attitude was at home.  In a house full of three crazy yelling women, your calmness was annoying then, but appreciated now.  #workingtobecalmmyself

Thanks for being my friend.  Even when I was a dork.  Or rolled my eyes.  Or said that I hated you.  Or told you I thought you were the worst because you actually had rules (say what?!?!).  But always and forever my friend.  Thanks for being there, and supporting me, and forgiving my childish behaviors.  

I get it now, dad.  I get how fun it is to watch your kids compete.  I get how the sacrifice of time and money to watch your kids grow is totally worth it, even when they're unappreciative.  But my kids don't get it.  And they probably won't until they have kids and experience this all themselves.  

For now, that's it (love you, dad!).  Excuse me now while I go talk to the child who is currently "oh my gosh, mom"-ing me while she rolls her eyes at me because I said it's not snack time yet.  Because as we all know...that's means it's the end of the world.  

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I Tried Rodan & Fields...Two Weeks Later

Ever since I had my Aaron (now 5 years old!), my skin has been different.  My lovely, young, never needing make-up skin suddenly became red, and hormonal changes throughout the month often produced lots of lovely break-outs.  After visiting the dermatologist a couple times and trying out some various topical medicines, it did improve, but it has never fully recovered.  Plus, those medications were EXPENSIVE on top of an already expensive office visit ($100 visit fee plus a $120 medicine = $220; plus I still needed to buy new face lotion and SPF at the recommendation of the dermatologist).

I've had my eyes on Rodan and Fields products for a couple years now.  The regular posts that pop up in my Facebook newsfeed showing before & afters for the use the product have become more and more persuasive.  I would see women with redness just like mine who showed drastic improvements, and I kept thinking, "I wonder if it'd work for me?"  If they worked for me in the same way, the price tag would definitely be worth it!  BUT, practically speaking, we just bought a house, have a lot of household projects with high priority, and my business had a lot of recent fees (my website renewal, state & city business licenses, etc.).  Rodan and Fields was ON my list, but it just (sadly) wasn't at the top of my list (yet).

My friend Cassie tried the products, fell in love, and became a consultant (cue even more amazing before & afters popping up in my newsfeed).  She asked if I'd be interested in a trade...and I said YES!  I figured that if the products really worked, that I would want to tell all of YOU about it anyway, so this was a perfect little swap.

Cassie asked me a bunch of questions, and after some back and forth, she helped me pick out the product line to best meet my needs.  She chose for me the SOOTHE regimen, which has 4 components: Cleanser, Toner, Treatment, and SPF (Yay for never forgetting sunscreen on my face again!), and is perfect for the redness that I so often experience.  She also paired this regimen with the UNBLEMISH wash, which would help deal with my breakouts and such.

For someone who HATES washing her face, this is seriously SO easy.  I keep my UNBLEMISH wash in the shower for the mornings.  When I hop out, my 4 part SOOTHE regimen is quick and easy to apply...no excuses anymore!  I repeat the SOOTHE at night again, minus the SPF.

I've been documenting it all in pictures.  I'll be certain to give you some before/afters down the line, as well, but I am SO excited about my results after just 2 weeks, that I needed to share today!

Here's one of my most difficult spots on my face (my chin) after just 2 weeks of use.

These results are already telling me it's worth it!  Considering one trip to my dermatologist = $220, plus the cost of a good face lotion and SPF per her recommendation, the $144 fee for the SOOTHE regimen as a preferred customer is a WAY better deal covering ALL of my needs.  AND, it should last for 60 days.  Isn't that amazing?!?!

If you have used R&F, I would LOVE to see your before/afters!  Be sure to post them in the comments!   If you don't have your own before/afters but want to join me in a skincare revolution (or just ask more questions), please contact my friend Cassie through her website here: https://ccarter7.myrandf.com.   She's my super awesome high school soccer buddy and a momma to three littles herself!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What We Buy to Homeschool Kindergarten

I am often asked (or overhear others asking) what it is exactly that a parent should buy for their homeschool curriculum if they plan to use A Beka.  It can be SO overwhelming to look at the site and see all these books, not knowing which you really need, or which ones you can get by without, or even what they are specifically FOR.  Additionally, figuring out which other products would be helpful is yet another challenge.  Since I've answered this question for multiple friends and acquaintances, I figured perhaps a post on the subject would be helpful to many more.

I'll first list my A Beka curriculum suggestions, and then I'll list all our other favorite homeschool products for this age.

There are SO many curriculums out there.  If you're unsure of which curriculum to use, my suggestion would be to ask other homeschoolers.  There is no "one size fits all" curriculum, and even within our family, we've found that some of our children do better with one method or curriculum over another.  For this post, I will be specifically detailing what our family buys for the Kindergarten school year, with A Beka as the primary curriculum.  A Beka is a Christian based curriculum, and has been around for a long time with a great academic track record.  It is used by both Christian private schools and homeschoolers.  Although with older grades we've branched out to some other curriculums based on our daughter's needs, we continue to use A Beka for Kindergarten because I feel that it is such a great program.

(This is not a sponsored post, just my honest feedback for what we find useful and/or necessary for Kindergarten when using A Beka curriculum products.  Some of the below Amazon links, however, are my affiliate links). 

Some helpful tips:

*When you visit the A Beka site, you will select the Kindergarten: 5 year old (4 year old Kindergarten is just their preschool program).

*A Beka offers both cursive and manuscript even at the Kindergarten age.  You can start with either (cursive is actually easier for children to write).  In our home, we start with manuscript in Kindergarten, and then introduce cursive in 1st grade.  Our reasoning being that most things they read are in manuscript, so learning to write manuscript first just makes more sense.  We've found that cursive in 1st grade comes very naturally since they already know all their letters and how to write in manuscript.

For the Parent:

*Curriculum book: Necessary. This was recently redone and is now so much easier as all subjects are in the same curriculum book.  If you look for used curriculums, you will likely find a great deal, but be sure to find each of the curriculum books (one for language, one for math, etc.).

*Basic Phonics Flashcards:  Helpful.  These are not totally necessary, but are definitely helpful to aid in teaching your child phonics.  The curriculum books do call for them quite regularly.

*Phonics Charts and Games:  Necessary.  I have always found all the charts for all grade levels to be quite necessary and well used.  I'd definitely recommend buying and laminating these.

*Numbers Charts and Games: Necessary.  Same as above, we always get a ton of use out of our charts.

Optional but Not Necessary (in my opinion):

*Manuscript Curriculum.  Not Necessary.  There is a Manuscript Curriculum book available, but I just don't find this necessary for teaching handwriting.  I will just follow the lead of the student book, and spend time demonstrating letters on the board, tracing in the air, finger tracing on sand, etc. and then let the child do their handwriting page for the day.

*Homeschool Learning Games.  This must be new as we've never used this and I can't recall seeing it previously.  Since we don't often use all of the games included in the Numbers Charts & Games and Phonics Charts & Games, I'm guessing our family would not use these a great deal either.

For the Child:

*K5 Child Kit (manuscript or cursive):  This child kit really has all the essentials in it, and you'll save a little bit of money by ordering it as a kit.  We use all of these in their entirety.  This kit includes your child's handwriting books, math books, and language books, as well as all the basic phonics readers.

*Classroom coins kit.  These are large coins that we laminate to last a long time.  We still use them with our 3rd/4th grader.  They are optional, but we use them a lot and find it's easier to have these than keep real coins readily available for school all the time.

*Science: I don't use A Beka's science curriculum until 3rd grade.  Up until that point, we just use books from the library and explore outdoors and utilize Pinterest for fun experiments.

*Social Studies: Same as above.  We don't utilize A Beka's K5 social studies curriculum.  Plenty of great library books can be found to accomplish any of our social studies needs at this age

As far as our core curriculum goes, the above is it.  Beyond that, we have a variety of other products that we love and use regularly in our homeschool at this age.  The great thing about these is that so many of these products will grow with your child over many years, being used in a variety of ways for different age groups.  So once you buy these, you'll get many years of use out of it.

Extras that we use (optional, but these are the things we use often):
*Various counters for math purposes- Mathlink cubes, Bug counters, and Two Color Counters are some examples.  We'll also find holiday themed items to use as counters from the Dollar Store.

*Bucket Balance- All of my children enjoy experimenting with the balance-from my 2 year old on up to my 4th grader.

*Butterfly garden- We love utilizing these butterfly gardens for science!

*Various Dice- We utilize big foam dice a lot in kinder, and also find that we use these polyhedral dice for various games, especially later in the year.

*Dixon Ticonderoga Beginners Pencils- These are AMAZING.  I no longer by any cheap pencils, but only buy Dixon Ticonderoga (I'm tired of wasting half a pencil while trying to get it to sharper properly).  For my Kindergarteners, though, I use these "Beginners" ones, which are a bit thicker and SO much easier for them to grip and write with correctly.  LOVE these!

*Snap Circuits- We first discovered these at our local Discovery Museum and fell in love.  We bought a deluxe set last year, and while all of my children enjoy creating different circuits, it's actually my Kindergartener that loves it the most!

*Microscope- All of our kiddos love exploring with our microscopes.  We actually have two sets so multiple kids can explore and study together.  As they got older, we also ordered additional sets of pre-made slides for them to use.

Do YOU need all of these?  Not really.  You'll probably see and find lots of great products and resources that you love as you get going.  If you are going to start with A Beka, however, most of the A Beka products I listed above are really quite necessary to get going.  Please remember that eBay and Facebook swap boards are great places to find used curriculum books, but you'll probably want to buy all your workbooks new from the main A Beka site.

Questions still?  Ask away in the comments!  Best of luck to you in your homeschooling journey!

(Some of the links in this post are my referral/affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy HERE.  Thank you for supporting the continuation of this blog by using my links!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When Extroverts Realize They're Raising an Introvert

For years I commented to my husband on how I didn't know how to parent my little Zoe.  From a young age it was very evident that I simply did not understand or "get" her.  I remember one particular conversation with my husband a long time ago about how neither of us really understood her or knew how to interact with her in certain situations.  She's highly emotional, easily frustrated, hurts at the slightest "not happy" comments, remarks, or corrections, retreats a lot if bothered, happy to avoid big gatherings, and is generally quiet in social settings.  HOWEVER, this same child is generally outgoing and quick to warm up to new people and experiences (and super loud most of the time at home).  She just totally stumped me all the time.

Recently, after reading some articles online, I realized with sheer surprise, that my little Zoe is an introvert!  Nearly everything I was reading out of these articles reminded me of Zoe on some level.  I definitely would label her as an outgoing introvert, however, which is probably why it never occurred to me that she could be an introvert.  Alas, the more I read about introverts, and the more I watch and observe her, the more convinced I am that this describes her perfectly (I also recently learning that the term "outgoing introvert" is an actual thing).

I'm an extrovert.  My husband's an extrovert.  My other children are extroverts (Levi is only 2 1/2, but so far I think he'd fall in with the extroverted bunch).  We love all things people...having them in our space, being in their space, sharing our lives, them sharing with us, etc.  We have a hard time NOT having people over regularly.  My husband struggles with a lack of people in our home more than I do, which I chalk up to me being the one left with the "work" of hosting people in our home.  One of the top 10 questions asked in our home is, "who can we have over for...".  We are like your total, stereotypical extroverts.  And then there's Zoe, who is very different from the rest of us.  She loves people, too, but doesn't like to deal with too many new people or situations.  She doesn't crave being around people like the rest of us do, and she is typically just fine skipping whatever awesome homeschool class I find for her in favor of running errands or staying at home with me. Her general response to just about any sort of activity, whether I can tell that she loves it or not, is that she "hates it."

So what do you do when you and your extrovert husband realize that you're raising an introvert?  Panic.  The answer is panic.  And act confused.  And fear that you've damaged your child all these years.  And then get over it and move forward and promise yourself to do your very best at re-learning how to best parent and interact with your child.

For a long time, I really didn't understand her.  I still don't, really, though since I've nailed down this personality trait, I've been working REALLY hard at understanding her and learning how to interact with her in a way that meets her needs.  It's a challenge, seeing as many years ago I used to wonder what the heck was wrong with introverts (the answer, I know now, is nothing is wrong, they are just different than me).

Because I'm such an extrovert, I always assumed that when she'd sneak off from the rest of her friends, something was automatically wrong (because why the heck would you leave friends unless something was wrong?).  I'd ask her repeatedly, "are you okay?", "did something happen?" and she'd always say, "I'm fine."  I've since started to give her some space in these situations, smile at her if she catches my eye, and will only go speak to her once, asking her instead, "do you need a little space to be alone for a bit?"  The answer is usually, "yes," and I just let her be.

It has taken a LOT for me to wrestle through how to best parent my little Zoe, and even more work as I learn to homeschool her.  So what things am I personally working on right now?...

*I'm learning to ask myself "how does Zoe see this situation?" as opposed to just assuming what is going on from my personal perspective.

*I'm allowing her to occasionally opt out of certain non-essential activities or classes in favor of quieter time at home with me.

*I'm allowing her to enjoy her early mornings alone to do whatever she pleases while the house is still quiet and fewer people are around (she's usually up before 6:00 AM, though my husband is often up earlier than that).

*I'm not assuming that she's upset when I see her alone, but rather embracing that she sometimes needs some time alone to recharge.

*I'm helping her learn new, kinder ways to communicate her boundaries (like when a gymnastics classmate asked if she wanted to be her friend, Zoe said, "uh no" because she, "doesn't want too many friends, you know?").  Boundaries are GOOD and I'm happy she can say "no", but there are also kinder ways to communicate :)

There are so many things I have yet to learn about my little outgoing introvert.  I want to support each of my children to flourish in their own unique ways, and I am finding that I need to put forth a little more effort when it comes to Zoe.

If you're an extrovert reading this, I'm sorry I don't have all the answers for you.  I hope, though, that at the the very least you've felt a bit more inspired to really listen to your child and seek out how to parent in a way that is meaningful and supportive to them.  For me, a little inspiration has gone a long way in wanting to make her life a little less overwhelming or obnoxious with  my extroverted questions and pressures.  Parenting is a fun, difficult, ever evolving journey, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How I'm Getting GREAT Health Care WITHOUT Traditional Insurance

When "affordable" healthcare went into play a couple years ago, our family of 6 quickly found that it was anything but affordable.  We really struggled to find the best fit for our family, that didn't cause us to be completely broke.  It took a while, but I've found a solution that works really well for our family.  While it may not work for every family, I wanted to share what we've found in case it COULD help out another family in our same boat.  Here's our story, and what we're doing now...

My husband has always had fabulous health care coverage at his work.  But to get me and our four children added to the same plan, we were looking at over $1000.  Not affordable.  So we started looking around.  We found some plans elsewhere for me and the kids for $750 (still not affordable).  We finally tried the health exchange.  We were looking, at the very minimum, at $350 for JUST me, not even the children (the minimum plan for us all was in the $700 range).  We didn't qualify for any government subsidies.  Now, $350 is not horrid, BUT the deductible was outrageously high (I remember thinking that I didn't even know they made deductibles that high).  I'd still have to add all 4 children, AND would have co pays in office AND a huge deductible should anything catastrophic occur.  So, we did the only sane and financially wise thing we could do in the situation, and took the medicaid/NV check-up that they offered our children (I hadn't even known we qualified prior to this).   That is virtually free (only a small quarterly fee for NV check-up).  But this still left me personally without many great options.

After lots of research, I feel that I have found the absolutely BEST solution for my healthcare needs, and I have the very BEST care I could ever have imagined.  Better, even!  To boot, I essentially have a deductible of $300, qualify for the Obamacare requirements (i.e. no penalty), have access to my doctor 24/7, and no co pays all year.  For less than the cost of the awful, crappy, no good, very bad insurance I was offered through the health exchange, I have amazing care.

I've combined two resources to accomplish all of this.

#1. Health Care Sharing Ministry-Samaritan.  While there are quite a few reputable companies out there, we settled on Samaritan Ministries as I had some personal friends who had been quite satisfied with their service.  Health care cost sharing is simple...everyone pays a certain amount every month, but instead of paying a company, we pay directly to a person who needs it for medical expenses.  If I need to go to the hospital, I cash pay and try to get my cost down as low as possible.  Then I submit the claim to Samaritan.  As long as it's a qualifying expense over $300, I will be reimbursed by other members for all but $300 of it.  Some things, including pre-existing conditions, can be denied, but hey-insurance companies deny things too anyway.

Samaritan boasts more than 50,000 participating households, with about $15 million available each month to meet health care needs.  Each month I receive a letter telling me who needs it and why (nothing too personal, just a quick "they had surgery on their knee" type note).  I send my check directly to that person.

For just myself, my monthly share is $180.   For an entire family of 3 or more people, the cost does not exceed $405.

Samaritan cost sharing ministry DOES QUALIFY for the Affordable Health Care Act laws mandating that everyone have insurance.  There is an easy exemption form available right on their website for tax purposes.

I have had no big needs, and I hope not to have any, but at least I know that if I do, I will have coverage, with essentially, a very low deductible.

While Samaritan is the one I settled on, there are others out there.  Be sure to do some research first to see if a cost-sharing ministry is right for you.

#2. Concierge Physician.  Okay, this is THE coolest thing ever.  Think old-school style doctoring, in a modern day approach.  My doctor is available by email, Facebook, text, and phone.  I have access to him 24/7, helping me avoid the need for those awful urgent care visits where you're just not sure if you should be seen or not.  When my results came back from a test, he texted me my results right away (via a HIPPA approved texting app).

My first appointment was one and a half hours long.  Just me and him.  There is no office staff to deal with, which is VERY convenient and saves time, too.  We talked about my health history, my family history, my personal life, etc.  I felt as though my doctor wanted to know ME, not just see me for 5 minutes, write me a prescription and send me a bill.  Then I had a full exam.  Heart health, EKG, joints, full skin cancer check, full gynecological exam, eyes, ears, throat, etc.  Everything all in one convenient and relaxed appointment.

I love that my doctor has joined the 21st century and uses technology, making it easy to get in touch with him.  Should I need to be seen, I can typically be seen same day (or even just chat on the phone if that is sufficient).

My yearly fee (which I'm able to break into monthly payments), covers any check-ups that I need with him all year long.  I do have to pay for any external stuff, like if he needed to refer me to a specialist or for blood work, but other than that, I don't have to pay any co pays or other fees in office.  I have no risk of losing my doctor due to insurance changes, and he has a cap on how many patients he sees (he only takes on a fraction of patients compared to that of a typical/traditional doctor).

The yearly fee is really quite reasonable.  And between this and my Samaritan coverage, I am STILL LESS per month than the crappy health exchange insurance.  I can save the extra per month for any out of pocket expenses that may pop up!

Since these doctors are becoming more and more common, you should be able to find one where you live.  If you happen to be a local follower of mine in the Reno area, and you're interested in talking with my doctor to see if he's a good fit for you, please contact Dr. Brown directly and he'd be more than happy to chat with you!

Even though my husband has great insurance through work, he will also be starting with Dr. Brown (hopefully sooner rather than later).

While these options may certainly not work for everyone, for me, it is the perfect blend.  I've got great coverage, a very low deductible, an AMAZING doctor, and a reasonable financial expense each month.  If you are looking for more options for your healthcare, be sure to think out of the box, do your research, and find something perfect for your family.  Questions?  I'm happy to answer whatever I can from our personal experience!  Just leave me a note in the comments below!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Earth Day Dirt Cups to the Rescue...Again!

It's almost Earth Day.  Want to know how I know?  It's not because it's on my calendar (because I have a plain, no holidays listed calendar).  It's not because I just remember the date (I can't remember any holiday dates).  My only heads up to Earth Day popping up just around the corner is that my Earth Day Dirt Cups recipe starts being viewed a ton each day!

I seriously love this recipe, and love that all of YOU love it too!  It is now the 4th most viewed post on my blog with almost 20,000 views, and has been pinned over 18,000 times!  And the haters-oh the haters!  Did you know I have quite a few haters because I served these dirt cups in clear, plastic cups on EARTH DAY!??!?!?!  I know, what was I thinking?  Whatever-haters gonna hate.  Winners gonna have tasty desserts.

Anywho...dirt cups.  These are an Earth Day MUST.  Not kidding.  I've been doing them yearly since I was a small child.  They're simple, easy, can be kid-made, and are SO much fun for kids.  They are totally not healthy (duh), but are a fun little treat to serve.

Want to check out the how-to for this recipe?  Head on over HERE to find it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How to White Wash a Fireplace AND Remove a Builder's Mirror

We are in the process of purchasing our home.  We've lived here nearly four years and have been renting.  Sadly, our amazing landlord passed away last year.  Just a few months ago, his family offered the house to us for purchase and we said "yes"!  We are actually supposed to close on the house tomorrow.  

This past week, my sister in law came over and we white washed the fireplace and then removed a huge builders mirror that hung over the fireplace.  The mirror has been the one thing that I've absolutely HATED about my living room (besides the awful grey striped wallpaper-notice it in the picture above on the right of the fireplace), and it was the most exciting thing to get rid of.  White washing the fireplace has given our room the most amazing change and feel, and it was so incredibly easy.

Since we did these two projects together, and I took pictures of both projects at the same time, this is a two-in-one tutorial: "How to White Wash a Fireplace" and "How to Remove a Builder's Mirror."

White washing is very simple.  You can use any white colored paint you have.  We used a latex white paint.  It is not flame retardant, however, so you'll want to stay away from the inside bricks of the fireplace.  We removed the front, brass (hideous) cover from the fireplace, and then swept and wiped down the bricks with a damp cloth before beginning. 

In a bowl or cup, add about 2 cups paint to 1 1/2 cups water.  Mix well.  Using a paintbrush, brush on the paint onto the bricks.  Be sure to wipe off the excess paint into the cup, as the watery paint will drip.  After painting on the paint, immediately blot off excess paint from the bricks.  We wore gloves and I bought Viva paper towels (super thick) to do the blotting.  Jenny painted it on, I followed and blotted.  We only did one coat and were satisfied with the results.

Next was the mirror.  We removed the wood framing from around the mirror.  Then, using duck tape, and then painters tape when I ran out, we taped up the mirror forming "x's" and squares.  The tape helps hold the pieces of the mirror together when it will inevitably break. 

Because we had lots of littles around the house, we wanted to keep any and all mirror pieces contained well.  We decided to cover the top of the mirror with trash bags to catch any pieces that might have wanted to fly.  Then we grabbed our glasses and started to pry from the back of the mirror!

Our mirror popped off in three pieces.  The big one was pretty heavy, and if you are removing a large mirror like this, I suggest having a second person help you.

These types of mirror are glued to the walls, and they're made to STICK well.  You will probably find that it pulls off some of the drywall paper stuff (technical terms aren't my specialty here). 

It looked pretty sad behind the mirror, but not nearly as ugly as the mirror had been. 

Some putty to fill in the holes, sanding, and spray on texture solved our problems!  If you're holes happen to be small, you could get aways without the spray texture.  We really tried to make it work, but in the end, there were just too many big flat spots and we added texture. 

Lastly, paint!  We painted the wall above the fireplace.  You can see our awful wallpaper to the right of the fireplace.  Nearly our entire house is wallpapered, and so we are taking it bit by bit.  The wallpaper comes off amazingly easy, but then we have to sit and scrub the glue before we can paint. 

While I was teaching on Saturday, Ben scrubbed the rest of the wall to the right, and we finishedpainting on Saturday afternoon.

It already feels like a whole new room and all we've done is to remove the wallpaper and the mirror, paint one wall, and white wash the fireplace.  We are slowly chipping away at painting the other walls, and we're replacing the far-gone blinds this afternoon.  Eventually, we'll add grey laminate wood flooring throughout this room and the adjoining kitchen, as well as new thick baseboards and crown molding.  It's a lot of work, but each little bit is thrilling and makes such a big difference!

I look forward to showing you the rest of our house progress!


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