Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kitchen Chronicles

The Original Kitchen
It's been awhile since we have finished our kitchen but I though I would give a little chronicle of the process.  Ever since I moved in our house about 7 years ago, I have wanted to tile the kitchen area.  There is a hallway from the garage to the kitchen that is carpeted and just gets nasty with all the traffic.  The kitchen is all infested with a pretty ugly type of lineoleum that has layers of caked in dirt.  This stuff needed to go.  You could say why did I not replace it years ago.  It was not motivation, it was more about Rachael finding the right type of tile.  Unfortunately or fortunately (in hindsight), she had bigger plans for the kitchen and wanted to update the whole kitchen including cabinets, countertops, and appliances (especially the microwave).  Of course, after seeing the price tag of new cabinets, countertops, and appliances, Rachael and I had to compromise.  We set a budget of $5000.  So we found that we could not get new cabinets or no new appliances.  We could however replace the backsplash, get new countertops, tile the floor, and at least paint the cabinets...and everything but the countertops had to be self installed.  Let the process begin.
Tearing down the sheetrock

I don't know about y'all but when I have a project to do I just want to get it done.  Rachael on the other hand has to be happy with the scheme.  It took awhile (according to my timetable), to find the right countertop, backsplash, and tile that we agreed upone, that matched each other, and fit within our budget  (I think Rachael's careful planning was well worth it).  We were even able to get the countertop during a sale and we found a groupon at a tile store.
Rachael painting the cabinets

So we made an appointment for the installation of the countertop which required myself to remove the existing backsplash.  I thought it just be a piece of cake in which I could just easily chisel them off the wall.  Not the case.  I ended up just tearing down the wall and putting up new sheetrock  The one benefit was that we decided to put in a hidden outlet that is controlled by an existing light switch for cabinet lighting.

Countertops installed
During the sheetrock installation, Rachael got an idea to take off some of the cabinet doors to at least start painting the cabinets.  I think Rachael had the idea just to do this in her leisure.  Unfortunately, it gave her ultra-motivated, yet one-sighted husband the green light to paint the cabinets.  Hell-week began and we hammered out those cabinets. We degreased, sanded, put on 1 coat primer and two coats white paint inside an out.  We we able to finish just in time to have the countertops installed.  Rachael's sister Becky visited at the time and graciously helped us out and put up with my stubbornness.  I don't think we would have finished them without her...thanks Becky!

A Master Tiler
After painting the cabinets, we had to install the backsplash.  I thought the backsplash was going to be one of the most difficult jobs, but we were able to put it up in a day (not grouted or sealed), and probably could have finished much sooner had we not been taking care of a very curious and energetic 1-year old.  During the process, I discovered that Rachael is an excellent installer of tile.  I just had to cut.  We ended up finishing around 11:30 that night, after our new neighbor came by to complain about the excessive noise from the tile saw..oops.  At least I was able to go finally meet him the next day and apologize.  Rachael and I were able to finish the grout and sealer in the next few days which did not take long.

Amazing!  The kitchen progress actually took less time than what my aggressive internal timetable was expecting.  Other than the tile floor, we were finished most of the difficult work.  Over the next few weeks we did the finishing touches of adding door hardware, cabinet lighting, caulking, and doing some touch-up painting.  Now for the floor.

Everthing Finished but the Tile
Doing the floor would take some pick the type of tile.  We were, however able to find a groupon for a tile store and could get the tile as a substantial discount.  The other issue was figuring out when to install the tile with a one-year old.  Rachael had a idea to have her nieces down in TX and then return them to Nebraska a week later and stay in Nebraska for two weeks with Caleb.  I did not have the vacation time and found that it would be the perfect time to tile the floor.  I would have to tile kitchen, pantry, hallway, bathroom, and hall closet (around 450 sq ft).  Not an easy job and definitely NOT a no brainer.  I won't go into details, but I am happy with the way somethings turned out and not happy with other things.  Most people who come see it are impressed, so maybe I am a perfectionist.  I was not able to finish before Rachael made it home so it took about 3 weeks on nights and weekends which included installing shoe molding, caulking, painting and reinstalling the sink and toilet in the bathroom.
Installing the Tile

 So you may ask, did we stay within budget?  I think so.  The countertops were $2600, the backsplash including grout, mortar, and tools were around $550, the paint, sandpaper, and degreaser were about $200, the tile floor (with groupon), grout, mortar, and shoe molding were around $1000.  We also bought a new kitchen faucet and garbage disposal which cost about $325 and we bought some slideout shelving which cost around $300.  This gives a grand total of $4975.  I am sure there is some extra-miscellanous stuff that I forgot to take into account which probably took the total above the $5k mark, but hey not bad at all considering others end up spending way above $10k for the same updates.
All Done!!

In hindsight, there are things that we would do differently, but I think Rachael and I are well-pleased with the results and greatly enjoy the look of the new updates as well as the cabinet lighting, new faucet, deep-single sink, and the slide-out shelving.

You might ask what is the next project?  Well after burning out Rachael and realizing that I had some issues with getting too focused on finishing a task and ignoring more important priorities like a son and a lovely wife, we have decided to take a break for awhile.  Rachael and I signed a contract so that we will not do projects in 2012.  Might be difficult, but I think we are up for the task.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Quick Fix??

This is a little rant based on my hesitation to use medications to provide relief for certain symptoms.  I am talking about antibiotics for infections, cold medicines for the cold, sleeping pills for insomnia, the list can go on.  My hesitation was increased when Caleb got an allergic reaction to an antibiotic (amoxicillin) for an ear infection last year.  My question is that even if Caleb did not get a reaction would it have been better for his bodies natural defense mechanisms to fight off the infection and does the antibiotics actually suppress the bodies natural defenses and cause the body to be more susceptible to infections in the future?  I am not sure.

This little rant has turned into a bigger question about our desire for a quick fix.  This question can be directed our medical industry, economy, and even our police state.  I will turn to the medical industry on the topic of drugs, but might write some other topics later on.

Furthering my discussion about antibiotics leads to the question about why medications are so popular.  If a person goes to a doctor with some type of symptom or chronic problem, does it seem like medications seem to be the fix to the problem?  I am only asking?  Does the visit (other than the wait) seem to be rushed without a thorough analysis of the fundamental problem?  For example, a person might have insomnia so a doctor might prescribe a sleeping pill without questioning whether the person drinks too much caffeine, does not exercise, etc.  I see all these drug commercials with the promise to improve your life (provide that you don't suffer from the large number of side effects) but can these really deliver and are doctors just prescribing these just because a patient asks. 

Do you see my point about a quick fix?  So why is the quick fix for health so popular?  Here are my thoughts (WARNING: CONSPIRACY THEORY)
  • A doctor is just trying to get the patient out the door and prescribing a drug is an easy answer.  Why?  Asking lifestyle questions takes too long (see footnote 1) and perhaps a patients is unwilling to change their unhealthy habits and will not budge until drugs are prescribed.
  • A patient just wants to relieve their problem without any lifestyle change.  Exercising an eating right is not easy.
  •  Money, Money, Money.  Drug companies make a ton of money selling drugs.  They market to the doctors (drug reps), patients (commercials), as well as the government (lobbyists) and they do a good job at it.
  • Sometimes the adverse effects of a drug are minimized (again see point 3- Money).   These drug companies control advertisements (notice nice music over a peaceful backdrop while giving side affects) and sometimes has some keys ties to government officials (CDC) who will recommend certain drugs or require certain vaccines.
One issue with antibiotics, vaccines, and prescribed drugs is the possible side effects, suppression of the bodies natural defense mechanism, allergic reactions, reactions to other drug,  and the long term effects of these drugs.  No one knows the full effects of these drugs, because either it cannot fully be determined, or the drug has not been in the market long enough to see the effects.  But is it less of a risk to take the drug, vaccine, or antibiotic rather than use natural methods??

Again, I am not an expert in this field but I believe this is a valid question. I admit that I am a little old fashioned and generally believe that toughing it out though a sickness is a better alternative, so I would love to hear your viewpoints on whether drugs are quick fix alternatives or a better alternative.

1. Our pediatrician for Caleb, although well recommended, tends to be a little busy.  Rachael has visited many more times than myself, but in the three times that I have visited, our pediatrician has started the conversation with "Boy that last parent would not stop talking", insinuating that we should make this visit quick.  That was just a sidenote.   For our 2nd or 3rd visit (I can't remember) when we started seeing symptoms of eczema for Caleb, we asked the doctor about the symptoms and she just seemed to minimize the issue without looking at his skin or even asking about our history.  It was not until the end of the very quick visit when Rachael, as an aside, commented about how my side of the family has had many cases of eczema.  The doctors face lit up and she finally realized that we were serious.  She almost had us out of the door, but realized that this was actually a case of eczema.

Thursday, January 13, 2011