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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It is finished!

After being exiled from our home for two weeks (actually three including the first redo in February), our stained cement renovation is finally finished. We moved back into our home Sunday evening. We are so grateful for the generosity and hospitality of Steve & Shannon Ho who opened their home and hearts to us for fourteen days. We are also grateful for a finished project with which we are satisfied. There were definitely moments along the way we questioned our decision to do another stained cement floor, but all in all we have been pleased with how it turned out. It definitely doesn’t look like the original floor, but in light of the hiccups along the way, we believe this will be a more durable floor for the future. For those of you who are curious about redoing a stained cement floor, here’s the process. Too bad it isn’t scratch & sniff – that would truly give you the complete experience!


Original floor . . . notice the chip, in lower right, revealing our foundation.


The first attempt at repairing the floor – epic fail.


Just one of the areas that looked worse after the repair than before.


Twenty-four days later, our contractor starts from the ground up by soaking our floor with soy gel (horrible smell) to break down sealers & stains. Then, he uses a scraper & a buffer to remove & sand original skim layers of concrete. This process was supposed to take a day . . . it took three. Let’s just say our floor has proven to be very non-compliant.

Once the contractor is pleased with the original surface, he primes and lays a new skim layer of concrete. (I honestly was ready to seal at this point. I didn’t want to mess anything up with stain colors.)

This is how the floor looked after three layers of stain – two green layers with cola (a reddish brown stain) added on top. It is very difficult to see what the finished product will look like without wetting the stain down. For the most part, we liked the look. I had some areas I wanted retouched & Chris wanted the contractor to address the spotty areas where he dripped stain.


After the stain continues to dry, it gets lighter making it more & more difficult to tell how the final product will look.

We thought we were almost ready to seal but we wanted the contractor to address some spotted areas. So, he buffed the stain down in those areas. What happened in the process is that he buffed down to the original layer of cement while also darkening these areas because the grit from the sander actually mixed with the stain colors, creating an even bigger eyesore. We were sick. These areas looked something like the picture below.


So, the contractor had to re-skim these areas with new concrete & re-stain two times, then buff them back down. This was a two and half day process. Nothing happens fast when dealing with cement & acid stains. The following images are what the repair jobs look like after skimming, staining & buffing.




And . . . drumroll please . . . after much angst, disappointment, patience, prayer and a coat of polyurethane sealer & hardener, this was the final product. All that is left for me to do is let the floor cure a few more days and apply a special cherry wax. Oh yes, and there is oodles of clean-up and candle burning in our future. To add to the drama, the valve to the water line on our fridge was leaking into our drywall so a plumber replaced the whole valve system on Monday. We were thankful for a project that only took an evening to repair.



Lessons learned:
1)  We should probably never build a house.
2)  Perfection is the aim but rarely the result. Letting go is necessary.
3)  You have to ask a contractor the same question over & over until you understand clearly what each other wants and is going to do.
4)  Renovations take much longer than originally expected and cost even more.
5)  We will NEVER stain another floor while we are living in the house. 
6)  There is no place like home, even if your home, clothes & food smell like sealer.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Seven years in the making


On Monday, March 4th, Chris & I celebrated seven years of marriage. It’s still hard for us to wrap our minds around that number. It just doesn’t seem possible. There hasn’t been much time to reflect on the celebration as we moved to our dear friends, Steve & Shannon’s home, on Monday while our stained cement is being repaired for the unforeseeable future. We are, however, looking forward to an official celebration in New York City at the end of this month.

One thing I can take away from this past year is that we make a pretty good team. We had some trying seasons over the past couple of months, but we’ve been able to encourage each other in the midst of them and persevere (we’ve even laughed too). We look forward to a new year – anticipating more time together, travel adventures and more opportunities to grow in our spiritual walks as a couple. We are eager to see what God has in store for our family and how He’ll allow us to be a part of what He’s doing. I am so thankful for the godly spouse God blessed me with seven years ago. It’s been an exciting, humbling, memorable ride!
**All of these images were captured by the artful eye of my precious friend, Shannon Ho (Ironically, the friend we are also staying with this week.) You can enjoy more of her beautiful work at



It’s been a good seven years, hasn’t it!? Love & respect you honey!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A retrospective–Christmas & NYE

Okay – this is it . . . really. This will be my last retrospective post. My hope, from this point forward, is that I’ll be “on my horse” to prevent this from happening again, but at least Alexa will have some memories this way. This final look back will include images from Christmas in California, Christmas in Oklahoma & our annual New Year’s Eve celebration with the Kilgores. 



Alexa getting the best tickles (ever) from her Great Grandma Graf, or as we affectionately renamed her – Gigi. She truly is the best tickler!!


I love this pic of Gigi with Chris (Alexa’s pose is questionable). Grandma Graf is 92. I know . . . don’t we all pray we can look that amazing at her age!?


Okay – so maybe Opa & Alexa can pull off the tongue out pose.


Completing the Advent calendar with Ama.


We managed to pack all of these gifts for the flight (minus a few gift bags & boxes). I never knew marrying a CA boy would so greatly improve my packing skills.


Here’s the whole crew including four little ones under the age of three. Grandma Graf, Uncle Tom, Aunt Janet & Lyndal Hayes, Ryan, Camille, Josiah & Kaila Hayes, Charlie & Karen Kennedy, John, Kelly & Ruthie Chase and our crew.


Alexa with her cousins (all in coordinating tees thanks to Camille’s creativity) – Josiah & Kaila Hayes and Ruthie Chase.








Opening up a Mickey Mouse mug that was Chris’ when he was a boy. Alexa is a big fan of all things Mickey Mouse. She was delighted!!


Playing a very cool xylophone courtesy of Ama & Opa.


In just a little over 24 hours, Alexa went from being the oldest cousin to being the youngest. No matter which time zone she’s in, Alexa loves being with her cousins.

The girl LOVES balloons and we could’ve stopped opening gifts right then & there. It was a classic moment as the real gift was a Melissa & Doug shopping cart with groceries. Alexa just couldn’t get over the balloons.

Alexa got this precious ornament from Aunt Hol & Uncle Mark. It is so neat. Every time you push the button, you can hear a child share the story of Christ’s birth.

Alexa would listen to her nativity ornament again and again and again.

The boys & their matching LED headlamps. We laughed & laughed at this pic.


It’s not Christmas if Mark doesn’t get an El Fenix giftcard.


Holly’s thrilled with her Cutco knife – I’d stay on her good side, if I were you!


There is always a scavenger hunt for the kids to find their final gifts. They were reading clues cleverly adapted to Christmas carols.


Alexa gives Ry-Ry a big kiss after painting her nails – one of the things she looks forward to when she visits her cousin. Rylen’s our resident nail expert.


As I always say, I can’t remember celebrating a New Year’s Eve without the Kilgore family. We keep growing. We keep laughing. We keep looking forward to it every year!! (We missed you – Trey, Kim & baby Luke.)




Dr. B (Brandon) & Malachi. His wife, Kim, had their 2nd son, Luke, just a few days earlier (Dec. 28th). Needless to say, they didn’t make the party.


Precious baby Kaden. Born to Trey & Courtney in October.


Okay – maybe one more of that sweet lil’ boy.


There isn’t anything much better than Janice’s homemade sugar cookies.


Alexa’s going in!! Happy belated New Year ya’ll!