Friday, August 14, 2015

Celebrating AJ - 5 Years Home

Five years ago today, a little boy who had hardly ridden in a car before got off an airplane in Kentucky to be with his forever family.  We are so proud of the young man he's becoming.  He has gone from a boy who could not sit still and who won the "loudest kid" competition at camp without knowing that it was a "loudest kid" competition, to a perfect gentleman.  He loves listening to music - particularly Johnny Cash and Kirk Franklin.  He's gone from a boy who hates to read to one that devours books in no time, particularly if they have sword fights and/or dragons.  He runs like a gazelle and is the fastest kid we've ever seen.  His biggest love is soccer, and he is an absolute phenomenon on the pitch, but he also enjoys and excels at basketball.  While he still loves Ethiopian food, Chinese food may be his favorite.  He is an artist with a lawnmower and a huge help to his mom around the "homestead".  He gets along well with his little sisters, as long as they stay out of his room.  We love him very, very much.

To celebrate AJ's anniversary in our family, watch how he's grown through these five short years:

We took this picture in March 2009 when we traveled to Kamashi, Ethiopia, way out on the Sudanese border, to adopt our girls.  We had no idea at the time that we would return just over a year later to bring little Amsalu home.

In August 2010, Matt traveled to Ethiopia to bring this little 8-year-old home.  This picture was taken on a sightseeing trip to the Jema River Gorge.

Meeting Mom for the first time, August 14, 2010, at Bluegrass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky.

Our first family photo shoot in November 2010





August 14, 2015 - waiting for the bus to West Jessamine Middle School, our 13-year-old man-child of a 7th Grader.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

First Day of School 2015

Yesterday was the first day of school for these three.  Essie and Chloe are in the 4th Grade, and AJ studied all summer so he could make up one of his missed years and skip to the 7th Grade.  (He was especially motivated to do this because 7th Graders are eligible to play on the High School Junior Varsity Soccer Team, which he is doing - and excelling.)  My, how they've grown!

To show how much they've grown, check out this picture from just three years ago:

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Difficult Goodbye

After only being in our family for about 5 months, sweet Opal had to be put down yesterday due to complete renal failure.  Since she is only 3 years old, it is assumed she ingested some toxin that caused her organs to shut down.  She was a good dog who had a very loyal following on Facebook.  We are all sad to have had to say goodbye too soon.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Great Bathroom Remodel of 2015

Our upstairs bathroom (the kids'/guest bathroom) has been looking a little shabby lately.  The flooring was a wood laminate that probably shouldn't have been put in a room as wet as a kids' bathroom can get.  It was beginning to peel, especially in front of the tub and around the toilet.  The vanity was really looking rough.  The walls, which we painted when we bought the house, were looking blah.  So we decided it was time for a remodel.

For the record, here are the before pictures:

(That basket is hiding a hole in the wall.)

The vanity had gotten wet inside, and the wood was warping pretty badly.

We really wanted to lay ceramic tile, but we weren't sure we had the know-how to do it.  We were right.  Fortunately, a friend told us about a tile workshop at the orange home repair store in Lexington, and we attended.  We left sure we would not be laying tile in our bathroom.  Then we found ceramic tile we really liked at about $1/square foot, and there was hardly any left, and they weren't going to order more, and we started to think maybe we can do this after all.

So off we go to the blue home repair store in Nicholasville.

So excited about getting a new bathroom

The kids jumped in to help with demolition.  Here Chloe is taking down the old towel rods.

AJ is removing the outlet and switch covers.

Dad is unhooking the plumbing from the sink.

And Chloe has had enough work and has switched to clowning.

AJ pulls out the baseboards.

And the vanity is out!  We were going to take the mirror down, but couldn't pry it off the wall, so we figured it must've been glued up there.  Fast forward to the middle of the night...CRASH!  The mirror did not break, but it did break off the drain pipes back in the wall.

Our friendly neighborhood plumber fixed things up nice, but that was an unexpected expense.

Upon pulling up the wood laminate, we found this lovely linoleum.

Amy started painting the walls.  We picked a shade of blue to match the sky in the safari pictures that hung on the wall.  (Matt took the pictures himself in Kenya.)  We only painted halfway down, because we wanted to install wainscoting all around the room.

Amy screwing down the concrete backing board

Matt is very proud of this cut to go around the air vent in the floor.

But the cutting is also very tedious work.

Down goes the tile!

Laid and spaced...about a 7 hour job.

And now grouted

Starting to cut and fit the wainscoting

We bought a new medicine cabinet that matched the vanity for some extra storage, and AJ put it together mostly by himself.

Of course, the girls wanted in on the fun too.

Finishing touches

Five people and one toilet is rough when you're used to two.

The sink has been re-plumbed and vanity installed.

And the toilet is back in place

And here is the finished project: 

Just look at that beautiful floor!

For comparison, here are the before & afters:


We are definitely amateurs, and it is by no means perfect, but we are happy with how it turned out and are satisfied with the hard work we put into it.