The Connolly Family

The Adventures of Matt, Shannon, Liam & Paige

Month: November 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Mini Thanksgiving Roundup

Things have been a bit crazy around here lately, but I’m hoping that in another week we’ll have some before and after shots of the painting project.  Although I know you’re just chomping at the bit for pictures of 70s paneling and previously dingy walls, for now you’ll have to settle for some Thanksgiving shots of Liam.  Disappointing, I know.

With GGDad and GGMom before the chowing began:


Liam’s Thanksgiving feast consisted of two courses:  yeast rolls and candy corn.  He cleansed his palette between the two with a smidge or two of a turkey cake pop.

Before the massacre:


The sacrificial fowl:


Nom, nom, nom:


After the decapitation:


Candy corn, dinner of champions:


The face that prompted Liam to learn the phrase “GGDad is CRAZY!”  (Can you blame him?)


White flour and high fructose corn syrup combine to create quite a sugar high.  Who’d’ve thunk it?  The primary result was about 20 minutes of Liam rolling a car down the hall at my parents’ house and screaming with delight as it was rolled back and Matt helped him jump over it as it came his way (let no one ever say that silliness isn’t valued in this family).  The secondary result was some of my favorite pictures of Matt and Liam:





Toddler Conversation

(I went into Liam’s room this morning to get him up and ready for the day.  The following conversation is what awaited me.)

Shannon:  Good Morning, Liam!  How did you sleep?

Liam:  No good morning Mama.  I want Da.

Shannon:  Well, Da had to go to the dentist this morning, so I’m going to get you up today.

Liam:  No want Mama.  Da get Liam up, please.

Shannon:  Da’s already gone, so you’re stuck with me, I’m afraid.

Liam:  Go back asleep.  Night night.  Wake up morning Da get Liam up.  Night night.  See you in the morning light.  Sleep well.

Shannon:  Well, I guess this means Mama gets the day off.  I’ll let you know when Da gets home.  Have a great day.

Liam:  Night night, Mama.  Go get Da?

I think it’s a really good thing that Matt’s going to be here for a few extra days this week.  Rejection this early in the morning will be a hard pill to swallow if I have to do it for days on end…


For the past week, when I’ve walked past a certain point in my kitchen I’ve smelled bleach.  For the first five days, I tried to convince others that they smelled it, too.  They didn’t.  Then, two days ago Matt finally smelled it too.  We didn’t figure out what was causing it, but at least I didn’t feel crazy.

Tonight when I went to pour myself a glass of milk, I noticed a giant puddle on the floor.  I called Matt in to investigate, hoping that it was merely spillage from the dishwashing he’d just finished.  It was definitely coming from under the sink.  Upon further inspection Matt determined it wasn’t coming from the pipes.  It was coming from a bottle of bleach solution I’d used to clean the grout in the bathroom.  It was flowing out of the spout like a faucet.

Matt:  “I want you to know that I’m blaming this on you.”

Shannon:  “How could you possibly blame this on me?”

Matt:  “Well, you obviously created a vacuum.”

Shannon:  “How could I possibly have created a vacuum inside a spray bottle?”

Matt:  “I don’t know, but I’m blaming it on you anyway.”

On the upside, the bottom of the cabinet and the kitchen floor in front of it are really, REALLY clean.

The House Wins Again

I’ve never been to Vegas (nor do I have any desire to do so), but something tells me that if I were a betting woman, it would feel much like home improvements to me.  The latest gamble is paint-related.

On Saturday we headed to Lowe’s to pick up some paint.  We even bought samples and tested them out to make sure that we were buying the right thing.  I had some doubts about the color we picked for the treadmill room (grey-blue), because it looked more grey than I had intended, but it turned out that as it dried, it looked great.  The beige color we picked for the hall and the office also looked great and I couldn’t wait to get it up on the wall.

Before we got the chance to work on the office and hallway, Matt had to replace two fluorescent fixtures in the office.  Both lights had gone completely caput and it’s hard to do a good job painting without light.  He got the new lights installed and we began painting the hall and office.  We then tried for about 8 hours to convince ourselves that the grey/purple tint of the the walls was due to the new lighting and the fact that the ceiling and trim were still an awful dingy, dirty yellow.  It turns out the lighting wasn’t the problem.

Today, my mom and I continued work on the office and hall.  I was working on trim and she was cutting in around the ceiling with the beige paint.  She used up the first can of beige and moved on to the second.  As she was finishing up I came in and noticed that the paint she had used from the second can was a different color than that from the first.  She thought that maybe it was because it was wet and the walls were dry.  I knew in my gut that that wasn’t the case since the second color looked like the sample.  It did not look at all like the prison grey on the rest of the wall.

I began inspecting the two paint cans.  The dots of paint on the two lids are different colors.  I went and got the sample paint can.  I began comparing numbers.  The color name is the same.  The Lowe’s secret paint-mixer numbers are the same.  The “tinter” was different.  The sample and the second paint can are the same (Tinter B).  The first paint can is different (Tinter A).

Matt’s on his way home now so that we can eat dinner and he can go deal with getting a replacement can of paint at the Lowe’s.  If only they could give me a refund on my time.

Update:  We just returned from our 5th visit to Lowe’s in three days.  The first thing we discovered is that the designation “Tinter A” vs. the designation “Tinter B” simply means that the cans were mixed on different machines.  The second thing we learned is that our painting techniques are flawed in about 83 different ways.  The third thing that we learned is that when I say that I think we should bring both the first (incorrectly colored) can of paint and the second (correctly colored) can of paint we should bring both.  The fourth thing we learned is that my eye is rarely wrong.  After getting home and putting both colors up on the wall to confirm that they are, in fact, different colors, Matt is headed to Lowe’s for the 6th trip in 3 days, this time with both cans of paint in tow.

Update #2:  Matt just got back from Lowe’s.  We learned a 5th lesson: machines are sometimes wrong.  What appears to have happened is that the two machines at Lowe’s are calibrated differently.  One is correct.  The other isn’t.  What remains to be seen is whether the paint for the treadmill room was affected as well.  Hopefully if this one’s wrong we’ll catch it before we’re almost finished.

All I wanted was a beige wall.  Now I also want chocolate.

Saturday Splurge

This week’s Saturday Splurge has been brought to you by Melton’s App and Tap.


I actually have all the ingredients for a proper splurge meal in my fridge, so this wasn’t an entirely planned course of events.  What I didn’t anticipate when I went grocery shopping this week was the incredible nesting instinct I’ve been dealing with lately and how it would manifest itself into days and days spent in very uncomfortable positions working on one project or another.  I’ve just had this incredible drive to continue making this house into our home.  Each time we finish a project that I envisioned when we first toured the place in March of 2007 it feels like we settle in just that much more and it becomes more and more ours.  It’s hard to describe the satisfaction that comes with that, but I think that anyone who has put in the hours/days/weeks/years working on their own home knows what it feels like.  I’ve gotten a bit ambitious lately, but then I always find myself sprinting at the end of a race.  It’s time to get to the end of the first leg of projects and I’m running as fast as I can to cross that finish line.  I’ll post pictures as soon as we manage to finish with something.

What A Morning.

This morning started out normally enough.  Liam and I ate breakfast and got dressed and ready to run a couple errands.

The first stop was at World Market where I went to look for alphabet pretzels for my mom (which is a long story and much less interesting than the one I’m going to tell).  I searched all over the store for them and after having no luck, I reached for my phone to give her a call and find out if there were any acceptable substitutes for pretzels shaped like the letter E.  When I opened it up I found that I had a slew of missed calls and one new voicemail.  I also discovered that my battery was low, but since I’ve been holding my breath for weeks waiting for a call back from Liam’s pediatrician about the H1N1 shot I went ahead and listened to the message before calling my mom.  It was the message I’d been waiting for and it was from yesterday afternoon.  The nurse who left the message said that there were a limited number of shot appointments available for today and Saturday morning.  I panicked and put everything in our cart back on the shelves and ran outside to plug my phone into the charger and call the nurse back.  It was at this point that I realized that somehow, at some point, my phone was put on silent, hence the missed call.  I called the nurse back and left a message praying that my ringer mishap wasn’t going to cost Liam the vaccine we’ve been waiting for for a month.  I also called Matt and left him a message to let him know what was going on.

I continued on to my next errand, hoping that the phone would get juiced enough to use by the time I got there.  Unfortunately I had thrown it into my lap when I got ready to pull out of the parking lot and it had apparently dislodged the charger, so by the time I got to the Target, there was nothing left.  I decided that it was a sign and didn’t even get out of the car.  I just plugged the thing back in and tried to figure out how to proceed.  I was in the process of calling my mom to ask if she had thought of any substitutes for E-shaped pretzels when Matt rang in on the other line.  I assumed he was returning my call from a few minutes earlier.  He wasn’t.

Matt:  “Where have you been?  I’ve been calling you all morning.”

[Matt calling me multiple times is never a good thing, so I immediately acquired a rock in my stomach.]

Shannon:  “We’re out running errands.  Apparently my phone was on silent.  Why have you been calling me all morning?”

Matt:  “Have you seen the AJC this morning?”

Shannon:  “No.”

Matt:  “Well, there’s an article in there about a SWAT standoff at Kirk Road and S. Candler.  I called my parents to see if they were okay and if they knew anything.  I talked to my mom.  It’s William Studstill.”

Shannon:  “Oh God.  What happened?”

Matt:  “Shannon, he killed his wife.  He was holed up in his mom’s house with a knife.  He killed his wife.”

William Studstill was in my graduating class at Decatur.  He lived down the street from Matt.  We knew he’d had mental health issues as of late, and there’d always been something off about him, but no one ever thinks that someone that they grew up with is capable of this kind of thing.  This is certainly not the story we expected to read when we woke up this morning.

News travels fast in our little town.  By the time I checked out of Liam’s doctor at 2:50, Tangie (who works at the office and also was in my graduating class) already knew and asked me if I’d heard the news.  We both knew to which news she was referring.

I’m just sitting here.  Stunned.  I realize that I am truly a mother now, because my first thought was how awful his mother must feel.  He is her only child.  Then I thought about his wife’s parents.  I cannot imagine how any of them feel and hopefully I won’t ever have to.  I definitely hugged Liam a little bit harder today.

Saturday Splurge

This past Saturday’s splurge meal was Portobello Penne Pasta Casserole.  It wasn’t new to us.  It wasn’t difficult.  It is a splurge meal simply by virtue of the fact that it’s awesome.  Also, there’s butter involved.

I made the following changes:

  • I used an entire 16 oz. package of penne and it was whole wheat
  • I used 12 oz. of portobellos
  • I used butter instead of margarine
  • I never know what kind of milk to which they’re referring in things like this so I used one cup of whole and one cup of skim to make up the two cups it calls for
  • I used 8 oz. (which is about 2 shredded cups of most cheeses) of monterrey jack cheese in the sauce and sprinkled just enough mozzarella to cover on top after everything was mixed together (maybe a 1/2 cup, shredded?)
  • I used 16 oz. of spinach and squeezed it out thoroughly
  • I used light soy sauce

This dish became an instant family favorite when I first made it in early September.  It’s definite comfort food, but is meatless (fitting the qualifications of the dinner guests we had at the time).  It’s perfect served with a spinach salad and a glass of wine.  Plus, it’s relatively easy, which is very important on a weekend when we’re trying to finish projects around the house.

Here’s a picture:


The picture really doesn’t do it justice, but I promise it’s fantastic!

Old Houses And Old Habits Die Hard

It starts the same way every time.  Matt and I make a plan.  It feels doable (at least to me — I’m admittedly overambitious with these things).  We start out full of hope on a Saturday morning with the obligatory Lowe’s run.  We buy supplies.  We price out other things that we cannot afford.  We drool and we dream.  We get home full of fire and hope.  One of us starts working when we get home.  The other joins in while Liam’s sleeping.  Somehow we end up at 11:00 pm trying to finish one, final, seemingly simple task.  And then it happens.  The brick wall goes up and comes crashing down all at the same time.

With each separate occasion we find out why the things that were left undone when we bought the house were left undone.  There was the deck — which to the unexperienced first-time homebuyer (a bit of an oxymoron, I know) seemed like a little problem.  We now know that the $100 Lowe’s gift card they threw in at closing to “cover some of the paint” would cover approximately 1/8 of the cost of painting that deck (and that was a good deal).

Those toilets that didn’t flush — they were probably the easiest of all the things to replace and they were still a pain in the…well, you know…

There were the sliding glass doors that iced (on the inside) in the winter.  Those might have been the easiest project overall, but only because we had someone else do it for us.  The easiest does not mean the least painful.  I assure you that that AmEx bill pinched quite a bit when it came due.

The carpet in the back bedroom that’s suspiciously old and stained (when the carpet in the other two bedrooms was clearly replaced at some point in the 10-year Navarro reign)?  It’s there because it’s obvious that the subfloor needs replacing.  They just covered that with a bed.  We’re getting to it.

The paneling in the treadmill room?  They didn’t paint over it because it’s not actually made of wood.  I’m painting it anyways because it depresses me and it’s hard enough to get motivated to get on that dang machine.  So there.

The dingy color that covered the entirety of downstairs?  We’ve eradicated 50% of it so far, but let’s face it: painting is a pain and that’s a lot of square footage to cover with a small child underfoot.

The complete lack of baseboards and door/window casements in the family room?  We’re working on it.  (Right now.  Literally.)

The complete wall of 12 x 12 mirrors in the living room?  We got lucky with that one, but it scared us too, so I can sort of understand how they didn’t get to it.  On the other hand: Really?  You looked at that wall (and it looked back at you) for an entire decade and you couldn’t muster up the chutzpah to conquer what lay beneath?  To that I say: no pain, no gain.

The missing handrail on the left side of the staircase.  You know, to keep you from falling off into the room below (which apparently happened to the relative of a former owner who’d had one too many, sending her to the hospital…let’s just say our neighbor is full of enlightening information)?  We got lucky with that one when we found a great guy to install it for us.

The fact that there’s molding in two of the three bedrooms as well as in a room that shouldn’t exist in the first place but not in the third bedroom?  I’d be willing to bet money that it was a combination of the fact that their oldest son slept in that room and that the room has five interior corners and one exterior corner and miters were too advanced for their tastes.  Again, no pain, no gain.  We’re tackling that before we move Liam into the room in the next six months or so.

The biggest saga in Connolly Family History (by far) is the stairs, but I brought that (mostly) upon myself.  What I didn’t bring on is the fact that the missing kickplate on the top stair (for which I bought a pre-cut replacement) is an inch higher on one side than on the other.  Let’s just say that I don’t think that the stairs aren’t level, but I’m more than certain that the floors above them aren’t.  More coming soon on that one…

But what we thought would be the easiest project for today: replacing the three remaining brass doorknobs in the house?  That one has proved nearly impossible.  First Matt tried replacing the knob on the door to the garage.  The hole isn’t deep enough and we need to make another trek to the Lowe’s for a wood chisel if we have a prayer of making it work.  For the last hour Matt has been attempting to replace the locks on the family room door.  You know, the one that secures our house while we’re sleeping.  First he encountered what he described as “the worst set of directions I’ve ever seen printed by a company whose first language appears to be English.”  The directions specify certain screws.  Those certain screws are not labeled.  Then the hole on the door was just a titch too small.  He scraped it out with a razor blade.  At this point the door won’t close and he’s doing something suspicious with a drill.  I’m not asking questions.

Tomorrow it’s on to the installation of door casements and rosettes as well as (fingers crossed) finishing the stairs.

The next time I embark on another project that I’ve always wondered why the Navarros didn’t do themselves I hope that someone reminds me that they were apparently very logical and cost-conscious people and I should think twice.  I’m trying to comfort myself with the notion that if the Navarros had been so inclined as to finish up the glaring details in the house, we probably couldn’t have afforded it in the first place.  All this neurosis must at least have improved the value of the house…right?

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Last night Matt and I had our annual discussion about Christmas: planning what we would like to do for others, discussing whether we’d like to get things for each other or do something joint with the house, and talking about the types of charitable organizations to which we’d like to give this year.  There was much discussion about iPhones and pet projects.  Things eventually took the turn that they always take — to focus on the much-detested wall between the dining area and the “bonus room” (the only bonuses to which appear to be bonus frustration, bonus irritation, and bonus claustrophobia).

Matt declared this to be the “squeaky-wheel-gets-the-grease project” for the next year.

Then we started talking about the actual cost output if we were to do the majority of the work ourselves (Ha!  I just thought of an actual “bonus” to that room: I will be able to relieve a ton of stress while whacking at the thing with a sledgehammer as I’ve dreamed of doing since we moved in while I was pregnant with Liam!).  It’s no minor miracle that the thing made it through my pregnancy with Liam but I don’t think that if we’re lucky enough to have another one, it will make it through a second time around.  I mean, I have some self-control (you know, as long as it doesn’t involve chocolate…), but that’s unrealistic, don’t you think?

Then we shook on it.  That’s as good as a signature in blood in this house.  All I want for Christmas is to gain a pantry and lose a wall and Santa just told me that he’s putting a sledgehammer in my stocking.  Yippee!

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie…

…he’ll learn to drink from a straw!

Recently, I splurged on a copy of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie for Liam.  It’s one of my favorite children’s books and I knew that it would be perfect for him, so I treated myself during a recent trip to Barnes and Noble.

The first unintended consequence was a sudden and immediate thirst for milk as soon as the mouse wanted a glass of milk.

The second was a burning desire to color as soon as the mouse broke out his crayons.

Tonight was the coup de grace of unintended consequences.  You see, I’ve been trying to get Liam to drink from a straw for the past 9 months.  The mouse drinks from a straw so Matt suggested giving it another shot in the context of the book.  He cut off a bendy straw (less distance for the water to travel — that husband of mine is some kind of smart).  He referenced the beloved book.  Liam drank from a straw.  And drank, and drank, and drank.  He finished an entire glass of water and went back for more.


We’re okay until Liam realizes that the mouse gives himself a haircut…

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