School Lunches

We start school next Wednesday. I know everyone says this, but where did summer go? While my personality likes the idea of having a schedule again, I am not excited about waking up early every morning and packing lunches. Yes, packing lunches for three kids, five days a week does not excite me. My kids don’t love school food and in our school district, it gets really expensive with all the choices. This way they get food they will (hopefully) eat and I know it’s somewhat healthy. And it’s not costing me a fortune.

A couple of years ago, I came up with a plan to help with the process. Every weekend, I ask the kids what they want for the week. We usually do a drink (water or Capri Sun), a “main dish” (anything from a sandwich to sushi), a snack (pretzels or snack mix or nuts), a yogurt, fruit (grapes are easiest) and a dessert (cookie or brownie). Each kid has their preferences and they usually don’t change that much throughout the school year. So the repetitive buying makes it easier. I buy the groceries on Sunday (at the latest), along with our meals for the week. On Sunday, the kids bag up everything for the week and put them in their labeled baskets in the pantry and containers in the fridge. Each morning, we can grab six items and stick them in their lunch bags. It has made our mornings run more smoothly when three kids are trying to get out the door at different times.

Start Blogging Again

I’m going to try to start this again. There have been a lot of changes since my last blog entry almost 2 years ago, but some things never change. We are still building and moving and working on Made of Metal and raising three kiddos.

Today is our 22-year wedding anniversary. It is, of course, very hard to believe it’s been 27 years since I agreed to go to see Wind with Chip. Last night, I was looking at the wall hanging that I bought Chip for an anniversary gift a few years ago. It is a custom canvas print from Geezees that has the lyrics to Eric Clapton’s Running on Faith, which was our wedding song. I just love the canvas. It has sentimentality and is pretty and makes me happy every time I look at it. I went with a simple, modern look, but there are many options.

Exterior Finishes for a New Spec Home

We started a new spec home in Austin, Texas and the framing is almost complete. That means it’s time to choose the exterior finishes. The home will be similar to this one, with different roof lines.

We always like to put some stone on since that’s what we do in central Texas! We will put some limestone on the front of the home. With this one, there will be stone near the front door (like the one above) and on the facade with the garage doors. There are different shades, sizes and shapes of limestone.  I think for this home, we will do limestone chop in 2-3 different sizes. We usually do typical mortar lines as opposed to a dry stack, where you can’t see any mortar.

stone with mortar lines

dry stack stone

The rest of the home will be Hardie siding, which is an awesome, concrete based product that is resistant to mold, impervious to termite damage and can be painted any color. There are different styles and sizes of this as well.  For this home, we will do a smooth lap siding and a board and batten style.  Right now, I’m thinking we’ll do the board and batten on the majority of the home and lap siding on the bump-out on the back of the home where the patio is located.  This will break up the design a bit and give it some interest.

smooth lap siding

board and batten

Now, what color to paint the Hardie? For the last couple of spec homes we’ve built, I’ve chose a dark gray with white stone. I try to choose neutral-ish colors that a wide range of buyers will like. For this home, I am going to go with a tan exterior and white trim.

The majority of the roof will be a dark brown composition shingles, and the roof over the porch will be a bronze metal, like this look. Again, this will add some interest and curb appeal. Hopefully all these finishes will come together and people will love the look of this new home!






Can Our Kids Realistically Play Multiple Sports?

I have three children that play sports. My oldest daughter just entered high school and wants to play two sports. My middle daughter is softball, all day, all year. My youngest, a 9-year-old boy, plays three sports, and would probably play more if we didn’t limit him to one at a time.

What I currently hear from all the “experts” is that kids should play multiple sports. USA Baseball says it limits burnout, reduces overuse related injuries, allows them to develop better athletic, mental and life skills and helps them build confidence. Parenting Magazine, USA Today, ESPN, USA Football and countless others quote studies touting its benefits.

This all sounds great and helpful and totally legit; however, is it realistic? Coaches and parents say they agree with it and will work with you as athletes and parents. But when it comes to it, do they really?  To compete in high school sports, and even middle school sports, it is often highly recommended that kids play in leagues or club (select) sports. If a child is competing in one sport at school and out-of-school, how would they have time to do another sport, much less excel at their studies?

Some coaches and parents punish the athlete by limiting their play time when they miss a practice due to another sport or studies. Some coaches don’t like their athletes to play a certain other sport whose seasons collide. Some club organizations don’t like their athletes playing high school sports. What are parents to do when school coaches, club coaches, doctors, college coaches and professional athletes all disagree?

How I Got 600€ from American Airlines for a Delayed Flight

While I was waiting in the Charles de Gaulle airport, I attempted to Google why my flight was delayed.  An ad popped up for a company who helps people get money for delayed flights out of Europe.  I did a little more research and found out that if you are flying out an EU country, you are entitled to compensation if your flight is more than 3 hours delayed or cancelled. Your compensation depends on how late your flight was and how far you flew and there are exemptions, such as bad weather.  Since mine was more than 4 hours delayed and I flew from France (an EU country) to Texas (the U.S. being a non-EU country), I was entitled to the full 600 Euros per passenger. I sent an email to American Airlines through their online customer service form.  Along with all of my contact information, it read:

I was on flight #__ on August __, 2017, from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Dallas, TX. My flight was more than 4 hours delayed.  According to EU Regulation 261/2004, I am entitled to compensation.  Please let me know how to proceed.  Thank you.

I was worried that American would deny my claim since I read so many experiences online in which they offered less money or denied claims all together.  But, American responded via email 2 days later, offering me the 600 Euros or $800 in flight vouchers.  There was a form attached to complete and return, which I did the same day.  About 7 days later, I received another email confirming receipt of my form and the deposit of the money into my account within 45 days.  It was a very easy process and I applaud American Airlines for their quick and positive responses.

Inspiration Board

I pin things I love onto a bulletin board in my office.  I started putting things on it eight months ago when we moved into our new house, and it’s still not full.  I have photos of my kids and family, ideas for future homes, cards I have received and gifts my children have made me.  It just makes me happy but it also gives me ideas about the future.

My grandparents with me in 1976

A card I received from my Mom

A kitchen I want to copy some day (and another card)

What do you have on your inspiration board?

IKEA Cabinets

I’m a fan of IKEA cabinets.  We have put them in our last few homes, including spec homes we’ve built.  After a couple of times, I’ve learned the tricks and they have become very easy to assemble.  I assemble the cabinet boxes, Chip installs them and I then add the fronts and finishing touches.

IKEA’s new cabinet system offers tons of different cabinet sizes and custom aspects that gives you thousands of possibilities.  Pick up one of their SEKTION buying guides to get ideas!  You can also do accent doors (like the glass), appliance fronts, drawers within drawers, interior organizers, integrated lighting and wall accessories.

I’ve done a variety of different styles over the years.  My favorite is the one we currently have in our house.  I used the gray Bobdyn cabinet fronts.



Some of my favorite features that I try to incorporate into each house is a pull-out trash can (or two, one for recycling), drawers next to the range/stove top for pots and pans, a set of drawers for office- and school-type supplies, some glass accent cabinets.  I also love doing a counter-depth refrigerator and place cabinets around it so it looks built-in.  It’s helpful to not have the dishwasher on the end of the cabinets or island.  I finish the cabinets off with pulls or handles, and IKEA has lots of inexpensive styles.

What Type of Parent Are You?

I think most parents would agree that they don’t know what they’re doing most of the time when it comes to raising their kids.  I know I fall into that category. My daughters are both in middle school this year.  I remember middle school as being awful.  Just awful.  So when a couple of issues came up this school year, I wasn’t really surprised.  But now I’m the mom, not the student.  Trying to figure out how to handle them is so hard.

My daughter was called fat at school.  My protective side told me to go up to that school and knock some sense into that kid and call up that mom and tell her what her child is doing.  What I ended up doing is talking to my child, telling her that she is beautiful, inside and out.  I also talked to her about the fact that some people are mean and friends need to be chosen carefully and that we love her no matter what.

One of my daughters has a teacher that is less than sensitive and made three kids cry within the first two weeks of school.  While my kids love all of their other teachers, this one stands out.  I talked to her about how she will meet people like this throughout her life, in school, in social situations, in her future jobs.  She is stuck with this teacher for the school year, so she needs try hard in all her classes, and harder in this one.

I think I’m a certain type of mom in some situations and then completely change for others.  I’ll probably figure this parenting thing out once all my kids are in their twenties.

Back to School

The kids start school in one week.  I’m both excited and sad.  I love summer.  I love sleeping late(r), the summer vacations, the pool/lake weather, the lack of schedule and the absence of running around like a crazy person.

On the other hand, I am ready to send my little people off to school so I can go back to work.  I am excited to watch them play their sports again after over a year.  I am so ready to concentrate on the new house so we can move in very soon.

This year, the kids are actually excited about going back to school.  I think they are ready for everything to get back to “normal.”   There is only one more week of orthodontist appointments, meet the teacher nights, sports assessments and one last hurrah to Schitterbahn.

Okay.  I have to go.  It’s time to buy groceries for school lunches, find long enough shorts for the middle school dress code and retrieve the white board out of storage so I can figure out the hell we are supposed to be doing every day.