Saturday, December 24, 2011


Bass Guitar lessons: $88 a month for 12 months

Impressing the heck out of your teen- and pre-teenage boys by rocking out along with Trans-Siberian Orchestra to Carol of the Bells: priceless

That's right boys; your mommy is a rock star (at least in my own head).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Conjunction Junction

Wednesday on the way to school, Aaron and I were listening to 94 FM (the Fish), a local Christian radio station because they're playing Christmas music 24/7. We sang along with Point of Grace on Let it Snow/Sleigh Ride. I was bothered by something at the very beginning of the song, but I didn't say anything about it. I just tried to ignore it and kept on singing

When the song was over, Aaron said, "Mommy, do you know what bugs me about that song?" My heart sped up a little bit in anticipation of his next words, hoping but not really believing it was possible that he noticed the same mistake that I did. But then he said, "The girl sang the wrong conjunction. She said 'Oh the weather outside is frightful, AND the fire is so delightful,' but she should have said BUT since they're contrasting ideas. I mean, frightful and delightful are opposing adjectives, so she should have said BUT."

I nearly swooned with delight. That just may be one of my proudest mommy moments. I am successfully creating the next generation of grammar nerds in my image.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I finally received my tenure letter yesterday. It's just a shame that it's now meaningless because of the state's new evaluation model. Oh well, if we ever run out of toilet paper at Casa de Brewer, I can put that letter to some use.

"Oh, awesome! I have tenure! Now I won't have to prepare for three observations this year." Um, yeah. Right. Now I get to prepare for at least four--even though I have only positive feedback in my file, great observations in the past, high test scores, and happy parent recommendations. That's your tax dollars at work, people--paying extra people to come in and perform unnecessary extra observations on people who are already getting the job done.

And what, you might ask, did I do upon receiving my notice of tenure? Blow off school and go out to celebrate? Decide that I have job security and just "phone it in" for the the rest of the year? Or even the rest of the week?

No. Actually I didn't even phone it in for the rest of the day. I stayed at school writing lesson plans until 6:00 p.m. (two hours past my contracted time--for those of you keeping score at home--after I'd arrived an hour before my contracted time started that morning). The only reason I left at 6:00 is because we had Bible study at 6:30 and I still had to eat dinner. The next day I came in early again, stayed late again, and have been grading papers at home on a Friday night for 5 hours. I'm only about halfway finished, in case you were wondering.

Tomorrow I get to go to school to decorate my door for Red Ribbon Week, which is our county's Drug Free event for Just Say No (to drugs and alcohol). Seriously. I am a professional with a Master's degree, and I have to go in off the clock to hang butcher paper on my door. It's enough to make me want to say yes to drugs and alcohol.

But regardless of all the insanity that is currently running amok in education, I officially have tenure.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I Did on Fall Break (part two)

For my next trick...

I had two other projects working this week: one that was really easy and one that made me cuss. The easy one first. My 14 year old has had the same dresser set since he was still living in my belly and I filled it with baby clothes. Back then his clothes fit in the dresser drawers. Now, not so much.

I've been checking Craigslist every night and yard sales every weekend trying to find one tall (5-6 drawer) chest of drawers to replace the 4-drawer chest and 6-drawer long dresser that he has now, but I haven't found anything that I like which I can also afford. So, unfortunately for now, he's stuck with his kid-sized furniture to hold his man-sized clothes. But also unfortunately, they were fugly. They were scuffed and scratched and had these really awful fake brass drawer pulls. Well, see for yourself:

Old English Scratch Cover and Rust-oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint to the rescue. Both of those products are must-haves for me. I've used the Old English scratch cover on so many things--to erase a bunch of minor scratches in furniture when we moved, and more recently, to help me restore a Bombay Company jewelry chest which I've seen on Ebay and other sites for $100, that I scored at a yard sale for $5 this summer. It was in pretty rough shape, but with a little sanding and elbow grease and Old English, it is beautiful again.

Rust-oleum Univeral paint and primer in one is my go-to for anything that needs to be replaced when I can't afford to replace. Seriously, this stuff has saved me bundles of cash. I've painted (in two different houses) bathroom light fixtures , towel bars, toilet paper dispensers, drawer and cabinet pulls (see bathroom cabinet makeover, next), hinges, my metal (fake iron) bed, metal wall art, decorative crosses, picture frames, and probably some other stuff that I can't remember right now. I love this paint. It looks black at first glance, but when the light catches it, it gives off this really pretty glowy, gold-flecky, sparkly sheen that is so lovely.

So, back to the dresser. It's not a huge change (at least it doesn't show up well in the pictures), but it's enough that I can live with the chest of drawers a little while longer until I find something better. And then when I sell the old ones on Craigslist, somebody will get a less fugly pair for their kid's room. Win, win. Here is the finished product:

Now on to my bathroom. I painted the walls over the summer to match the blue/brown motif we have going on in the attached bedroom. I love that shade of blue. My plan was to paint the cabinet base in a dark espresso brown, paint the door and drawer fronts blue, and then texturize them with some brown glaze. It was cream colored with lots of scuffs and scratches, and it had a couple of places where I'd dripped hair color down the front of it and stained it. Oh, it also had fake brass hinges, drawer and cabinet pulls. I forgot to take the "before" picture until after I'd already removed the cabinet door (and I forgot to put away my flat iron too).

It should have been a piece of cake to do because it's so small. I might not have mentioned this before, but I have the smallest bathroom and the smallest closet in the family. But of course, right off the bat I ran into trouble. The screws holding the drawer fronts in place were totally stripped and I couldn't unscrew them. After trying every Phillips head screwdriver we own, and lots of brute force, I managed to get them off. However, the fake drawer thingy (what do you call those things?) was firmly attached. So I decided rather than tape it off and try to paint it the same blue as the real drawers, I would just leave it the same color as the base.

I couldn't find a brown that I loved enough to buy a whole quart of it to do such a tiny section of cabinet. I really wanted this project to be free (my favorite price) like the dresser (since I already had a can of spray paint) and I didn't want to have a nearly full quart of brown paint sitting around. Then I discovered two things that solidified my decision: one, the previous owner had used oil-based paint, so I could not paint over it with latex; two, there was still half a can of the cream-colored oil-based paint that the previous owner had used just sitting there, free (my favorite price) in the basement. Decision made, I sanded the worn spots on the cabinet base and applied another coat of the original paint just to freshen things up.

I took the hinges and door/drawer pulls off and painted them with my beloved oil-rubbed bronze. I sanded down the door and drawer fronts, primed them, and painted them with four coats of the blue wall paint. Yes, four coats. Ugh. The hardest part of the whole project was getting the drawer fronts off and back on again. Because of this fact, even though I don't absolutely love the way it turned out, it's staying this color for a while. I'm not taking those suckers off again any time soon. I thought I would really love the contrast between the blue and cream, but I'm not in love with it. I don't hate it, but it's not as awesome as I'd envisioned it. And it really bothers me that the fake drawer thingy is white but the real drawers are blue.

I really love the next picture because you can see my goofy hand in the mirror trying to avoid capturing my own image in the photo. Trust me when I tell you, I do not want the cyber world to see what I look like right now.

So, there's two more projects checked off my list. The others are much more time-consuming, requiring power tools and strength and skills that I don't possess. At least not by myself. I need to build a shelving unit in my laundry room to make it a proper mudroom, paint the whole room, rip up the Brady Bunch linoleum, and stain the concrete floor. Then I need to sand and repaint my front porch columns and gable, caulk the cracks and seal the concrete porch, repair the handrails and attach one side to the brick wall of the house for stability. Then I need to sand and paint all the shutters. I don't look forward to doing any of that alone. Yuck. I may have to break down and hire someone for that part of the list.

But at least I got some of the minor things crossed off the list this week. And I still have a few more days to tackle some more.

I still ♥ fall break.

What I Did Over Fall Break (part one)

Okay, so it's fall break and I have a week off to take care of all the little projects that stack up during the school year when my entire life is dominated by school stuff. I need these breaks throughout the year so I can catch up on housework and create something artsy to feed my artists' soul. If only I had more time, because my To To List, she is long and mighty.

First, I'm cleaning the whole house. It's a work in progress because I hate cleaning and can only do so much at a time. It's way overdue for a scrubbing. Kinda like Johnny Depp. Euw. Somebody needs to flea dip and groom that boy. Speaking of which, I did that to Lily the other day. She had a total doggie spa day: bath, conditioner, flea dip, nails trimmed, ears cleaned, teeth brushed, and doggie mouthwash generously applied. Then she came home and rolled in something and ate goose poop. Sigh.

Next, I made a chair. Well, I didn't really MAKE the chair, but I recovered an old one. I was trying to copy a chair I'd seen "on sale" for $399 at Price Point furniture's going out of business sale. Since there's no flippin' way I'm going to pay $400 for one stinkin' chair, I shopped around a little more. I found this one.
It was on clearance at Kirkland's for $99, but that was still too much to pay. Plus, the French cut of the wood on this chair didn't really fit with the music room slash man cave decor. But, I loved the zebra print fabric and black frame. I started thinking about what I already had at home that I could fix up to work. I remembered an old chair used to be in my dad's office when he worked for Dictaphone. I'd recovered it once before when we lived in Smyrna to match the boys' playroom in the old house. The original chair was covered with mustard yellow pleather and upholstery (right out of the seventies, kinda like the linoleum floor you can see in my laundry room in that picture, which is also on my projects list), so I covered it with denim and red trim. Here's how it looked before:
It had about a million staples in it, so they all had to be removed, by hand of course, to take the blue fabric back off.

My hand was aching by the time I had them all out, but it was worth it.

After taking off the seat and back, I sanded and primed the wooden frame. I painted it with Benjamin Moore low luster black paint because I wanted that Pottery Barn look instead of a glossy black sheen.

After about a million coats of black paint, the frame looked really good. During that time I also painted an old end table that we got for free (my favorite price) back in Smyrna when one of our neighbors moved away and left it sitting by the curb. It was brown and didn't match the black/red music room, so we've been covering it with a black tablecloth, and Dan keeps his mixing board on it. After a few dozen coats of black paint, we don't have to cover it up anymore. It's missing the cross bars that are supposed to connect the legs, but that's actually a good thing because we always stored a box full of sheet music underneath, concealed by the tablecloth, and the missing crossbar made it easy to slide the box out. Now that box is in the closet because the table is too cute to cover up. If only I could hide all those blasted cords. They are the biggest draw back to having a music studio in the house. Wires and cords are EVERYWHERE!

So, back to the chair. The inspiration chair ranged from $99 atKirkland's to $400 at Price Point. I spent $15 on paint (which I used for more than one piece of furniture and still have plenty left for more projects), and $15 for a yard of zebra print fabric. I reused the red corded piping that I had on the free (my favorite price) chair when it was blue. So, for a grand total of $30, here is my finished chair:

Isn't it great? Can't you just see me sitting in it to practice my bass guitar? I love this chair!

It looks really great in the room, especially photographed in front of the new loveseat. Oh, did I mention that we finally bought some grown up furniture? After years of using hand-me-downs, slip covers, and garage sale furniture in the music room, we went to Price Point's sale (where I first saw the original inspiration chair) and bought a double reclining MATCHING couch and loveseat. We haven't bought matching furniture since before my 14 year old was born. I wanted a really pretty black leather set, but this gray corduroy feels like you just cuddled up in a giant fuzzy cloud. We went with comfort over style, since it's the man cave/music room.

Then I scoured all the stores in Hendersonville to find some red, black, and gray toss pillows to go with it. I found the gray pleated pillows at Target on sale for about $10 each (I can't remember the exact price). Then I found the red ones at Ross on clearance for only $6.48 each SCORE! They're actually reversible too, so I can have red with black embroidery or black with red. I prefer the red because the colors pop against the dark gray fabric.

I will have to write another post with the other projects I'm doing this week, because the paint isn't completely cured yet on my bathroom cabinet project. More to come.

I ♥ fall break!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First 55 Minutes

So, this didn't start out to be a banner day, at least not the first 55 minutes.

  • 5:30 a.m. Woke up to pouring rain. On picture day. Awesome.
  • Suffered intestinal distress while showering. I'll skip the details to give you the polite version of the story and just say that the end result was the toilet was clogged. Before 6:00 a.m. Double awesome.
  • Stumbled in the dark to go to the other bathroom to get the plunger. Ran headfirst into the bedroom door. (The awesomeness will continue to escalate throughout this tale of woe. Stay with me.)
  • Got the plunger.
  • Tripped on the laundry basket and ran into the bathroom door frame on the way back to my own bathroom.
  • Unclogged the toilet and rinsed out the plunger in the shower.
  • When attempting to put the wet plunger into a plastic bag to contain the germs and avoid contact between my skin and all things germ-related, I realized there was a giant hole in the bag. The hard way. When the plunger fell threw the bag and landed on my bare foot with a big, wet plop.
  • Re-showered feet. And plunger. And entire shower enclosure, just for good measure.
  • Went downstairs to walk the dog and realized we are completely out of dog food. Fed the cat instead.
  • Listened to the dog voice her heartfelt complaints about the lack of dog food and the unfairness of the availability of cat food for another hour.
I'm happy to say that once I left my house, the day went smoothly.

Tonight we bought brand new furniture tonight for the first time in at least 16 years. We're borrowing PawPaw's truck to pick it up tomorrow because we're too cheap to pay for delivery. When Dan watches football this Sunday, it'll be as if he's sitting on a marshmallow. A really soft corduroy marshmallow that reclines.

Oh, and I played an acoustic bass guitar for the first time last night IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE EVEN at our small group Bible study. It was monstrously huge and crazy awkward to play, but I loved it. Jimi Hendrix (not that Jimi Hendrix, but he's just as talented as the one you're thinking of) is letting me borrow it. I have the coolest friends in the world!

Oh again, I was evaluated at school TWICE in the last week and rocked out my scores both times. I still have two more unannounced observations this year, but hopefully my scores are good enough on the first two to give me a little padding in case I bomb the next one.

So, other than the first 55 minutes of today, it's been a great week.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Rock Star Wanna-Be

My friend Loren gave me a little bit of good-hearted grief this week because I haven't blogged in a while. Mostly because she likes to read about herself. But I didn't realize just how long it's been since I've blogged until I opened up the old Blogger account and January? Really? Um, okay Loren, you win. I'm blogging.

Here's why I haven't been writing much. Or, you know, at all. After taking a lesson a week since January, I've learned to play bass. Like, really play. In front of people. Without throwing up or wetting myself.

It all started back in the spring, when Dan and I (mostly Dan, but he let me come along just to humor me) were asked to lead worship for the Student Ministry service on Wednesday nights at church. We were very interested in helping because we love our youth pastor and our teens (and we happen to own our very own teenager who is gracious enough to pretend he doesn't know us when we're in the Student Zone). But this presented a challenge because there were very few songs that I could actually sing and play at the same time. Or, you know, play at all. But luckily this was after TCAPs were over and I could relax a tiny bit about the school stuff and focus on being a rock star. I played for hours every night and worked up a few songs that I could sing and play as long as I played a really simple bass line while Dan carried the song and I just sang harmony. Then we found a handful of songs that I could sing the lead and play. We had a couple of awesome students who were willing to sing with us on stage, and we had a blast doing it. We stopped when school got out because they changed up their Wednesday night service for the summer, but Dan kept working with the students who helped us lead. Our goal all along was to mentor them and equip them to lead worship themselves instead of having us old folks in there.

At the end of May our regular bass player told me that there were two months in June that he would be out of town and I would need to fill in for him. I really didn't think I was ready, but Dan convinced me that I was. Our worship pastor agreed and put me on the schedule. Then I saw the songs for that first service and nearly fainted. They were really challenging songs! I took what I thought was the hardest one to my bass teacher and said, "Help me play like that." That was Monday night and by Wednesday night's rehearsal, I had it. Because it was summer, I had lots of time to practice before that Sunday's service. I was nervous that first morning, but it was such a rush. It. Was. Awesome. I loved playing side by side with my hubby--rocking out for Jesus.

Long story short, I ended up playing five Sundays in a row before taking a break to get ready for school to start. I took 4 Sundays off from playing bass (during which I went back to doing Praise Team, choir, and even acting in a skit twice) before playing bass again last week and this week. The guy who usually played bass before I started is still playing, he's just playing electric or acoustic guitar because, unlike me, he can actually play more than one instrument. I'm not that talented yet. And I still have a hard time playing and singing at the same time. But I love being part of the energy of worship in a church full of beautiful, spirited-filled, imperfect believers.

But let's get to the important stuff: my friend Loren. She's a great children's pastor, mommy, wife, friend, and child of God. And she is a crazy-good singer herself, in case you were wondering.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Days = Sinking into the Abyss

How is it possible that I've had very nearly a MONTH off from work and I'm still completely unprepared to go back to work tomorrow? Thanks to the Great Snowpocalypse of 2011, I did not go to school at all last week. Today we're off for MLK day. Yet somehow I have to find the strength to work four whole days in a row this week. I simply don't know how I'll manage.

When I'm pressed for time, I manage to get things crossed off my list. If I know I only have a certain amount of time to do something, I buckle down and get it done. But if I have hours of unstructured time looming before me, I somehow let entire days go by and wonder why nothing got done. Last week I could feel myself morphing into a depressed, unwashed, pajama-clad slug and was almost powerless to stop it. Thank God we went to church yesterday so I had a kind of dress rehearsal for reentry into the real world.

Here's what I managed to accomplish last week:
  • tried to vacuum, only to discover that my only six-month-old Dirt Devil is broken and also, no one carries the belt type required by that model
  • spent another hundred dollars at the vet for my incontinent, very expensive, free dog
  • started reading two books, got to page 30, and tossed them aside
  • reread two titles and successfully completed a new title without throwing it against the wall
  • tried in vain to load songs onto my son's new mp3 player before cussing a lot and giving up
  • bought new jeans for my teenager who suddenly outgrew all his jeans overnight
  • sent the kids to mom's for two days after the stress of jeans shopping with a 13-year-old
  • practiced my bass guitar for hours (and built up a really impressive callous on my index finger)
  • helped paint a backdrop for the children's worship room at my church
  • bought new flannel sheets because I'm tired of freezing to death when I get into bed every night
  • took four bags of stuff to Goodwill
  • had a lunch date with my smoking hot hubby
  • walked the dog one mile each day
  • kicked some ten-year-old butt in Wii Play (I love the shooting game!!)
  • procrastinated all things work-related
So now, because of that last one, I have to get busy today. So why am I still goofing off on Facebook? Because I can, that's why.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, Clean Closets

So, apparently either my cleaning streak was just due to overzealous winter break getting ready for the New Year neurosis, or those Rock Star drinks last for several days. In the last few days I continued my cleaning streak adding:

  • finished cleaning out the garage, including sorting through all the beach toys and sporting equipment that my kids have outgrown
  • cleaned out the craft closet, which resulted in about nine bags of trash and a big box full of more stuff (another three bags) to donate
  • cleaned the boys' bathroom (which required a haz-mat suit and a full can of cleaning product)
  • ripped out all the old caulk in that bathroom (which involved lots of scraping with a razor blade and completely ruining my manicure) and recaulked everything
  • reorganized, alphabetized, and made new tabs for my music binder for the praise band
  • saved then deleted my list of books read last year to start the list for 2011
  • solved the mystery of our internet freeloader, whom I affectionately refer to as the Lawnchair Laptop Larcenist
Here's the deal with that: just as I suspected, he was a college kid who was home on break and didn't have access to the internet. He was staying with his grandparents and had no wheels, so he wandered the neighborhood until he got a wireless signal. He was trying to check his grades online. We talked to his grandmother this morning, who wanted to know if she owed us anything for his using our wireless connection. How sweet is that? Turns out, we think he was leapfrogging on someone else's connection, because ours is password-protected and Dan disabled the Guest access. Anyway, Grandma was very apologetic and kept telling Dan what a good boy her grandson is and that he teaches Sunday School in Florida and didn't mean any harm. I'll never forget looking out the window and seeing him all bundled up in his hoodie, surfing the net in front of our house.

I've also decided that it's ridiculous to start a diet when there's still Christmas candy in the house, so I'll worry about that when all the goodies are gone. Which reminds me, I have a date with some peanut butter fudge.