Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back to Basics: Three Weeks Without a Kitchen Faucet

Note:  This is the second in a multi-post series called "Back to Basics."  Click here to read the first entry in this series.


About a month ago, Alex and I woke to find ourselves with a mysterious puddle on the kitchen floor.  Don't tell Alex, but I'd actually noticed a bit of water on the floor near the kitchen sink a few days earlier, but I always assumed our wet hands or dish-cleaning had somehow resulted in said water and let it go for a few days.  But that particular Sunday morning, the puddle was larger than it had been and finally I realized something wasn't quite right.

We opened the cabinet doors to see where the water was coming from and immediately realized we had a problem.  It wasn't clear the source or cause of the leak, but there was obviously something going on and it had probably been dripping or leaking for at least a few days, if not more.  Through trial-and-error, we eventually figured out the issue was a leaky spray hose.  Once the source was determined, we breathed a sigh of relief - ya'll know plumbers charge an arm and a leg, especially for house calls.  As with all things marriage- and house ownership-related, things are never as simple as they seem. 

Our trip to Lowe's was pretty painless - visit the store, purchase a universal hose, go home and install the hose...not so fast.  Removing the existing hose was downright brutal.  First, we couldn't unscrew the darn thing, and then after that, one of the attachments got stuck when we tried to pull it through.  There was a whole other issue when trying to reverse the action in hopes of finding success with an alternate method.  Once we finally did get the hose removed, we reached another road block - that "universal" hose wasn't universal after all.  You got that right...the darn thing didn't fit!  UGH.

At this point, we were about a week into the process, seeing as how Alex had begun traveling for football, and he was also working 11 hour days when here in town (daily practices), so we tried to not stress over it because using paper plates and a microwave for food preparation really didn't seem so bad for a short period of time.  Once we realized the hose wasn't universal, the search to find a proper replacement part began.  Again, our schedules (well, mostly Alex's schedule) didn't allow a ton of flexibility needed to expedite this process, so we just went with it.  He ended up finding a store here in Monroe that sells products made by the manufacturer of our faucet, so with the help of a store clerk there, he attempted to order a replacement and urged the clerk to emphasize the prudence in making it all happen in a timely manner.  About a week after making the order (then, two weeks after the whole ordeal began), Alex began calling the store to check the status of the order daily.  It took about half a week after that for the piece to finally arrive, which meant we spent nearly three weeks without use of the faucet in our kitchen. 

My lovely husband exploring the leaky sink; little does he know the challenges that lay ahead.
As I said before, the idea of losing access to our kitchen faucet didn't seem like such a big deal at first.  We had some paper products on hand already, and eating sandwiches or preparing microwave meals wasn't a huge issue.  About a week in, however, we got sick of sandwiches and microwave meals, so I started trying to prepare one-dish meals and "allowed" ourselves the "luxury" of having cereal in ceramic bowls a few times a week.  But, then the dishes started to pile up because we were too lazy to wash dishes by hand (or even rinse them out) immediately, which led to some really gross build up and even a few unpleasant odors.  By the start of week three, I was ready to pull my hair out.  I was so frustrated; I admit I threw a few tantrums and probably shed some tears too.  Alex felt bad that he couldn't do anything to fix the issue so we even started to eat out more than usual, just to avoid me being whiny about washing dishes or not wanting to eat my seventeenth (yes, I exaggerate - duh) peanut butter sandwich for the week.

 It's sad, but things were rough, ya'll.  This is where it would be appropriate to say "#firstworldproblems," lol.  Thankfully, we got everything up and running before reaching the milestone of three full weeks without the faucet.  It was a huge sigh of relief, but even though we're about a month out, I still fill like I'm readjusting to having flexibility in preparing meals again.  I feel like we're in a bit of a rut (though maybe on the upswing by now) with meals - making the same basic meals over and over again.  If anyone has some simple recipes they want to share (especially of the crockpot variety - those are so great!), please send them my way. 

I hope everyone's enjoying the first few days of fall, and maybe even a special treat of some cooler weather.  It's been another busy week on my end (I'll be in the office just once this week.), but hopefully things will start to calm down soon.  The start of the month is always busiest as a 4-H agent, and the start of the school year is even worse.  Earlier this week, I went to an overnight livestock training at 4-H Camp, today we did a training for club leaders in our region, tomorrow is our first Jr. Leader meeting of the year, and Friday I'm headed back down to Alexandria for a meeting to develop an evaluation for our shooting sports program.  Next weekend I'll go back to 4-H Camp for a two-night camp with 7th and 8th graders, and then my lovely college roommate will be bringing her little family to Monroe for a visit (wahoo!!!).  Whew!

As always, stay tuned.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finally, a Facelift

For all my regular readers out there, you may have seen my last post about following this blog via BlogLovin. If you're someone who follows more than one or two blogs, but aren't yet using using BL (or some other Reader format), I highly suggest you try it.  Readers have made my blog-following experience so much easier and more meaningful.  So, yeah...check it out!  

In that same vein, have you the seen face-lift on my blog?  Sometimes Readers don't show blogs in their original formats (especially if you use an app version), so I wanted to be sure and tell everyone about the new and improved "Breaking the Mold."  Instead of using one of those cookie cutter templates with backgrounds, images, and colors, I downloaded a new set from someone who designs custom templates.  Now, this particular template I'm using is not a custom template (I didn't pay for it), but it takes a lot of time and a bit of sweat on the brow to use this type of design.  If you can't tell yet, I'm SUPER excited about this big change to my five-year (and counting) blog!!!

In my quest to find outlets for creativity, personal expression, and general hobby-type ventures, I'm slowly learning how to improve my blogging and (maybe eventually) increase readership.  I have to give mad props to Kara over at The Simple Life Blog for sharing some tutorials she's used along the way.  She's been a huge help in making the learning curve not so steep, and I really look forward to learning more and more as I work to up the ante on this here blog of mine.  Maybe one day we'll even be in the same "league" of blogs and then we can teach each other how to make fancy new projects for our pages.  A girl can dream, can't I? (Also thanks to Dawn and Christy for serving as reviewers as I ascertained the style/color combinations were clear and readable before this big reveal.)

Never fear, though.  I don't aspire to ever be one of those blogs with thousands of followers because let's be honest, no one wants to see give-aways, ads, or product reviews all day every day (and that's what's required to be at that level in the blog world).  Plus, that's not "me" anyway.  I just like recording stories and experiences so I can look back on them one day and smile about the many people and places who "moo-lded" me into the person I am today.

I might, however, try out a few blogger-style entries every now and again.  (Note:  This is your warning.)  Eventually, I want to learn about "linking up," creating buttons, and building an audience.  For now though, I'm going to stick to the basics and probably keep playing around with my page design before I move on to other things.  Lately, fonts, colors, and images are really intriguing to me, and even in my professional work, I'm trying to learn more about creating materials that are attractive to others in order to do a better job of growing our program.

So, what this all means is that I hope I'm finding a fun new hobby that will give me a creative outlet to feel connected with others in a different way.  For all you other bloggers out there (I know, I know, all... three of you? ha.), feel free to share tips and suggestions, or even tutorials that were helpful to you.  I'm like a sponge right now!

In other news, this was a really busy week for me.  The "fair" is in town where I work and given my line of work that means lots of activities that require coordinating volunteers and all those hundreds of details that go into executing events.  Plus, some super intelligent person (not!) decided it would be a grand idea to take all the 4-H agents out of their parishes for two days during the first week of the first month of club meetings and have them go to an overnight training session at 4-H Camp.  Genius, right?  I felt super anxious returning today to a mound of missed calls, e-mails, and list of things to do before three events we have tomorrow.  The only thing that makes the idea of working all day Saturday not totally depressing is that Alex is in North Carolina overnight for the ULM game against Wake Forest.  It would be that much worse if I had to work all day on Saturday while he sat at home alone or something.

I was on the team that was designated as "Overall Winner" of the Top Chef:  Healthy Tailgate event during our training this week.  We made crock-pot fajitas and they were totally yummmmmmm!

This is the office explosion that occured while I was out at training for two days.  Really, the photo doesn't do it justice.

Ok, enough of the pitty party.  Ya'll go check out my new and improved page, and let me know what you think!  While you're at it, go ahead and click the (super cute) buttons to follow me on BlogLovin, Twitter, and Facebook.  You're also welcome to leave a comment or send me an e-mail (because there are adorable buttons for that too!).

See ya, folks!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gimme Some Lovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

(I am adding buttons to my page, connecting the blog through Bloglovin.  Stay tuned for other upgrades on this in-progress facelift.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Knot Untied

Not too long ago, the story of how Alex and I weren't legally married for almost a month after our wedding, came up in a phone conversation with Kara.  I also received a request to expand this story when I mentioned in my last post.  If we're going to be completely honest here, I may or may not have exaggerated just a teensy-weensie bit about the legality of said marriage, but why don't I just let you decide for yourself?

To really explain, I have to take it back to the beginning when we first explored our options for selecting a church and going through the Marriage Prep process.  We explored the option of being married at a church near my home, but not the one I'd grown up in.  Not having received any of my sacraments there, I really wasn't sure whether they would welcome us and what hoops we might have to jump through, especially since Alex isn't Catholic.  When I made my first phone contact with the priest, I used a list of questions I'd prepared, and took diligent notes throughout the conversation.  Jokingly, he snuffed me off as being very "conscientious."  I said I just wanted to cover all my bases, and be sure there were no surprises.

Throughout our Marriage Prep process (which was mostly done online through outside programs, I might add), Fr. M, as I'll call him, was very laid back.  He never seemed concerned with schedules, dates, deadlines, etc.  In fact, sometimes he even forgot our names or the date we'd chosen to be married.  There's nothin' like sending a bride over the edge when mentioning the slightest notion of there being another wedding on the same day as hers...seriously.  But, I digress.  

So fast forward to the impending wedding date, say 9 days before the big day...Alex and I went to get our marriage license from the Ouachita Parish Courthouse in Monroe.  (While the wedding was to be held in Lafayette, the 30 days-72 hour window was narrowing and we didn't foresee another opportunity to be in the same town together on a business day, especially with the Christmas holidays approaching.)  When we received the license, we joked about how Fr. M is so laid back that he'd forget to send in the paperwork or something.  In fact, we'd even come across an article online about a couple who was "married" for 50 years and found out due to paperwork issues, it had never become official.  Surely that wouldn't happen to us...right...?

If you know anything about being married in a Catholic church (or maybe any church, I dunno), you know the priest fills in the information after all the signatures are there and makes a copy for church records before send it off to the courthouse/whatever proper government office.  When we returned from our honeymoon, we again joked about how the papers probably never made it to the office and it's likely we were "living in sin" at that point.  Yeah...joking.  Not so fast, people.

About a week after we got back, Alex received a phone call from the Lafayette Parish Courthouse saying our marriage license had been received.  Problem?  Problem.  It was Ouachita Parish where the license was filed, meaning it needed to be returned to Monroe, not Lafayette.  Thankfully, the nice folks in Lafayette agreed to forward it on to Ouachita for us.  Easy enough, right?  Nope.

Once Ouachita Parish received the forms, Alex received yet another call.  Not all of the forms were included.  A document was missing from the stack of papers.  Go figure.  I contacted the church (which in itself was an act of congress between the secretary and the priest) several times to have the missing document sent.  Finally, we thought we were done.  Again, close but no cigar.

Nearly a month after this whole ordeal (aka: our marriage) began, Ouachita Parish called Alex yet again.  All the forms had been received, but key information was missing - the date, time, and location of the wedding.  What the...?  By now, I think the employees there had begun to recognize us and decided it was probably just easier if Alex went in and completed the information himself.  No more sending papers back and forth, no more phone tag, and finally, an officially legal marriage.  

There you have it.  Exaggeration?  Maybe, maybe not.  Either way, it was an ordeal I'd rather have not dealt with, but just over 8 months later, we are legally and spiritually (which was most important from the beginning, anyway) married...forever. 

We hope and pray none of you sympathize with this experience.  :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Just Another Roadtrip

[Originally written on Friday, August 30th.]

It's practically September now and I want to squeeze in one more entry before the proverbial page turns on a new month. I planned to carve time out of my evening for this, but it's after 3 o'clock on the Friday before Labor Day and I have officially checked out.  After conducting three meetings today, my focus is shot and I'm ready to do something else, so here I am.  Way back when, I promised I'd write about our week-long trip to North Carolina in July and by golly I think today is the day.

Per usual, we loaded up and left after a full day's work on Friday (7/19), making our routine overnight stop at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  It's not a bad 4 hour drive to that stopping point, and nice to make it there early enough to get a full night's rest for the following full day of driving.  On Saturday evening, we rolled into Alex's mom's driveway right around suppertime.

We got up early on Sunday morning for 8 a.m. mass, which got us back to the house with plenty of time for breakfast and then services at his mom's church.  We practically had to run out of there afterwards because the service lasted for-freaking-ever, and Alex's groomsman, Christopher, planned to stop over and say hello on his way to Greensboro for a conference.  Thankfully we barely beat him there, so it ended up working out just right.

That afternoon, we loaded up (this was a reoccurring theme) again, headed for Topsail Beach.  Alex's mom made arrangements for the three of us to stay overnight at her friend's beach house down on the coast, so we were able to get our fill of the beach on that short trip.  The major sunburn we both took home was a great souvenir, I might add.  ;-)

On Tuesday, we drove from Dunn to Clinton for the second half of our visit.  The remainder of our week was spent with Alex's dad's side of the family, relaxing and spending time together.  There, we were able to enjoy delicious food, making up for the "diet" we'd been on the previous few days...

Wednesday was extra special because we took a mini-"pilgrimage" back to where it all began for us - Krispy Kreme in Raleigh.  Well, let me back up.  Before dessert, we had dinner at Mellow Mushroom with Kara, one of my bridesmaids, and Justin, one of Alex's groomsman.  Justin also brought along his girlfriend, Sarah, so we could meet her.  The food was good, as was the opportunity to spend time with friends.  (Remember my last entry?  Friend-time doesn't happen very often these days.)  During dinner, Kara and I joked about how it would be fun to have hot donuts for dessert, so we made an executive decision and told the group we were going.  Haha.

When I say we made a pilgrimage to where it began, I'm referencing the first time Alex and I met, and our terrible attempt/failed double-date at Krispy Kreme.  Looking back over previous entries, I'm realizing I didn't write much about that event.  Note to self - share that story sometime.  Double note to self - also, share the story of how we weren't legally married for nearly a month after the ceremony.  Anyway, back to what I was saying...Krispy Kreme is special to us, and Kara played a major part in that, so going back to Krispy Kreme together was pretty cool.  And of course, when hot donuts are involved, does the rest even matter??  It may have been a late night drive back to Alex's dad's but the fellowship was well worth the effort and I hope we can all do it again sometime.

We closed out our week on Friday, making the long leg of the journey to Tuscaloosa for the night, and returning to Monroe on Saturday afternoon.  My parents were there when we arrived, since my dad makes his annual trip for the tent sale at Simmons' Sporting Goods in Bastrop.  It's definitely been nice to see my parents so often while living here in Monroe.  In fact, "the women" (my mom, grandmother, and great aunt) are coming to visit tomorrow.  This is when I keep reminding myself there are perks to being closer to home...

In any case, ya'll be safe and enjoy the holiday.