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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Observations from the day....

Today has been insane-crazy. I'm pretty sure that we reached a whole new level of crazy over the past 24 hours, and it's only going to get worse.

It started with a phone call from my mother to let me know that my father had to be admitted to the hospital after what was supposed to be an outpatient procedure this morning. It's nothing serious serious, but he's 88 years old so there are always risks. They only expect to keep him overnight, but I've learned to brace myself for more bad news when things like this happen. Of course Mom is getting stressed out because we're having our big family reunion next weekend - I told her not to worry and that we'd try to get on the road earlier than planned so that we can get there Monday instead of Tuesday.

Of course, since we had originally planned to leave Monday evening and we now want to try to leave Sunday morning, we've basically lost 2 days of prep time. We haven't started packing anything yet, laundry isn't done, we don't have food to take on the road, and we are just totally not ready.

Along with all of that, there's approximately eleventy bajillion things to do around the house before we can walk out the door and leave it for almost 2 full weeks. The garden still needs to be weeded, the grass needs to be mowed, there's a huge pile of tree limbs that really need to go away to prevent rodents from taking up residency before we get back, the house needs to be cleaned, mouse traps need to be set now that those little a-holes have decided that they like my pantry, I need to get the house key to the neighbors, and so many other things that I haven't even thought about yet.

And here I thought that I was being so efficient by getting the oil changed in the van the other day. "Woohoo, look at me go, getting it done ahead of time." Ha.

Of course while this is all going on, we have a major opportunity for recruitment for Scouts tomorrow and I've been running around all week getting stuff ready for that, including taking about 3 hours to get set up for it this evening (not to mention making some really generic derby cars for people to play with at the event) so that I can maybe sleep a little bit later tomorrow - but basically my whole day tomorrow is shot too.

I have no idea how we're going to get all of this done. None.

But I just keep reminding myself that it will get done. I might lose my mind in the process, but it will get done.

Why is it that there is one wheel missing every time I buy more
than one derby car? 

Starting to weed the garden as the sun goes down was an amazing
 moment of peace in a day of chaos and stress.

By about 9:15pm it was too dark to see what I was doing,
but at least I got everything watered and started weeding.
And it was still 99 degrees outside.

The bats come out around 9pm. And it's really hard to
catch a picture of them with a cell phone.

If it was a full moon, I might have had enough light
to keep weeding.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Checking things off....

Today was a crazy busy day.

I managed to get the entire front flowerbed weeded, which was more of a challenge than I had thought it was going to be - but it's done and shouldn't be completely overrun with weeds before we get back from vacation.

Hopefully at some point there will be more flowers in there than dirt, but until everything that I planted establishes itself, it's going to continue to look relatively pathetic.

After I got done with that and got a shower, I took Alex and Daniel into town for their very first official eye exams. I figured that since the older three kids now all wear glasses, I might as well get these guys checked out too.

Luckily, we escaped from that appointment without any new glasses - which actually disappointed the boys. I, however, did a happy dance on the way out the door.

We then ran a ton of errands - stopped at a paint store to pick up some paint chips for a friend, ran to the library to make a whole ton of copies of stuff for Scouts for a big recruitment thing this weekend, got the oil changed in the van, grabbed some (late) lunch, picked up a few things at the store, got gas, stopped and got a new air filter for the van, and then came home to keep working on clearing the fabric pile out of the garage.

Oh. The air filter.

The oil change place wanted $35 to put a new air filter in the van. I might have laughed at the poor kid who was working there when he told me the price. So I bought one (granted, it's still a stupid expensive filter) and changed it myself when we got home.

In the meantime, The Dude went to get the Scout trailer to bring it over here and stash it in my garage as we had planned. I was still out there going through the fabric and suddenly a thought came to me - I walked to the open garage door and reached up and touched the top of the opening with my hand without even stretching (and I'm short). I pulled up the pictures of the trailer on my phone and tried to judge the height of it.

My fear was right.

So now, the garage is cleaned out for a trailer that's sitting in my driveway. Because that's my luck. But the latch has been repaired and it's here and safe for the time being, and I'll work on going through all of the stuff over the next few days and get that all sorted out.

But.....other than balancing the checkbooks and washing the rest of the fabric (those are at the bottom of the list) I've gotten everything done that I set out to do today.

That means one thing - time to make tomorrow's list.

I'm so ready for vacation.....3000 miles in a vehicle with 5 kids will be a cake walk after this week.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Sometimes, a day starts out on a really crappy note.

You know, like finding out that the trailer that contains a huge amount of your Scouts' camping equipment has been broken into.

I got that message first thing this morning, so Daniel and I took off into town to deal with that. I crawled around inside the trailer and was relieved to find that nothing obvious was missing, but the latch itself was destroyed. I made the police report (not that I expect anything to come of it) and then one of the Scout dads and I ran all over town trying to find a new latch.

We couldn't find one, so we secured it as well as we could in order to form a plan, which will ultimately involve towing the trailer over here to put it in my garage so that I can go through it, clean it out, and inventory everything that is in there - a job that I've been meaning to do for months. And one of the Scout grandpas thinks that he can weld the latch to repair it for free - a huge bonus for our little pack of boys.

Of course, in order to get it over here to inventory the contents, there has to be room in my garage - which would not normally be a problem.


A month or so ago (maybe more) a friend of mine found out that a friend of hers was cleaning out a "hoarder house" - it was a house that was apparently stuffed full of fabric and craft goodies (the owner had passed away), and the person who was cleaning it out didn't want to throw all of the fabric in a dumpster. So I went over and spent a few hours going through floor-to-ceiling piles of fabric, batting, sewing supplies, partially completed quilt tops, spools of thread, and so much crap that it was unreal. I piled as much as I could into the van and brought it home.

However, it all stunk. It had that nasty musty stale animal old lady smell to it, so I piled it all in the garage until I could figure out what to do with it.

I had hoped that just leaving it in the garage would kill the smell, but it didn't. I started to worry that I wouldn't be able to get rid of the smell and I'd just have to toss the stuff after all.

With the latest development of the Scout trailer being moved in sometime in the next few days, I knew that I had to do something with the pile today, so I started going through it. I unrolled all of the batting and hung it out on the clothesline to air out, and I took the first pile of fabric and quilt squares and quilt tops and tossed them into the washer with lots of detergent, and hoped for the best.

When the first load was done and I opened the washer, I was greeted with no smell at all. Not willing to risk the odor coming back in the dryer, I hung it all out of the line to dry. Some of the tops started to pull apart, and some of the fabric basically disintegrated, but I think there is quite a bit that is salvageable with a lot of patience and a little bit of luck.

Some of it is remarkably hideous. Some of it is gorgeous. Some is hand stitched, some is done by machine. Most of it is polyester (ick) but some of it is cotton. There is absolutely no way to tell how old any of it is.

Now that I'm getting a chance to actually look at some of the stuff, I think I'm going to do what I can to finish as much of it as possible into quilts - some are going to be small lap-sized ones, some a little bigger, and some might actually be twin or full-sized by the time that they're done. And when they're done, they're going to be donated somewhere. I've seen a couple of programs over the years where foster care agencies look for quilts and blankets for kids that are in state custody, so that's where I'm going to start.

Busted up trailer. Dirty hoarder fabric. Cluttered garage.


Motivation to clean, organize, and inventory the trailer along with getting it fixed (hopefully) for free. Fabric that is coming clean with not much effort. Cleaner garage. Being able to take stuff that I have to turn into donations for someone who needs it.




The last 2 days have been crazy busy with Scouts and day camp. The weather has been disgustingly hot and gross, and I've run non-stop with Alex and Daniel while the older 3 kids were at their father's house. I'm glad that we were busy though, because it was distracting me from the reality that Alex was going to spend tonight with his father.

Normally, that wouldn't be such a big deal, but since it's been close to a year and a half since that's happened, I've gotten used to him being around all of the time. But we've been working toward him being able to do this - and it was time.

I've been dreading it and looking forward to it at the same time. Dreading it because I know deep down in my heart that his father will most likely disappear again. I hope he doesn't, but I'm a realist. Alex has been dancing around all week waiting for their time together, and it ripped my heart to shreds to see his excitement - but I couldn't squash it.

At the same time, I looked forward to it purely for selfish reasons. I looked forward to a bit of a break with only having one kid running around the house. No arguing. No bickering. I knew that he would come home after camp, play with his Legos for a while, watch a movie, and fall asleep - because when there's no one around to annoy him, that's what he does.

After we got home from camp, we took a nap (at least I did) and then we decided to have Mommy-Daniel Date Night. However, we were both tired so we kept it pretty low-key.

Out to eat, but more interested in the
storm clouds outside.

I told him he could pick *a* snack
at the convenience store.

We came home, ate our junk food, watched a movie, and he's currently snoring on the loveseat - just as I predicted. I'll toss him into his bed here in a few minutes and go to bed myself, and then we'll try to find something fun and exciting (or quiet and laid back) to do with just the two of us tomorrow.

Honestly, I hope I can convince him to go fishing with me. But he generally thinks that fishing is "boring".....

All I know is that it will be fairly peaceful and quiet. He and I get some quality time together while the other kids are gone, and we can just relax and chill together - something that I can definitely use before the chaos of The Last Week Before Vacation.

Friday, July 17, 2015

More road trip planning

It's that time of the year again.

TMOART:15 is just around the corner.

If you haven't been around for very long, that stands for The Mother of All Road Trips: 2015 Edition. It's our annual (for the most part) road trip from here in Kansas to my parents' house in Pennsylvania, usually with a few (or a lot of) other stops thrown into the mix.

This year, we're keeping it simple. Renting the short bus last year cost us a small fortune, so we're taking my van this time - which means that luggage has to be kept to a minimum. Side trips are going to be eliminated due to finances and time and overcrowded seating arrangements. But we're still doing it. We're going to spend more time with my parents (including a reunion of all of my siblings, something which hasn't happened in a lot of years), more time relaxing and less time running around like idiots trying to see everything and do everything and run run run run constantly.

Of course, along with planning the actual itinerary comes planning for all of the crap that has to be done before we can even pull out of the driveway. There is a lot of stuff that we need to do first, things like an oil change in the van and weeding out the garden and flowerbeds and mowing the grass. And of course my constant obsession over the financial aspects of it, budgeting for gas and food and fun stuff and (please no) emergencies.

The lists are running rampant. On my phone. On scraps of paper. In my head. On my gigantic new-to-me white board calendar that I got in a thrift store in OKC earlier this week.

But the funny thing is that even now, as we get down to just over a week before we leave, I'm not spazzing out about it like I usually do. We've done these trips enough over the years that I know that no matter what, unexpected things are going to happen (remember The Great Flying Boulder Incident?) and we'll just make the most of it and have as much fun as possible before the reality of another school year starts less than 2 weeks after we get back.

The kids are excited to go, I'm more than excited to get away from reality for a while, my parents are looking forward to seeing the kids, and it'll be nice to have some real quality time with The Dude.

I'm so ready.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Observations from the day

Today has just been one of those days when I kept seeing things and saying to myself "I should write something about that" but then when it came right down to it, I couldn't come up with the words. So instead, you'll just get my random thoughts and a few pictures.


For whatever reason, whenever the sky looks the coolest, the stupid panoramic feature on my phone camera refuses to work. So instead of getting a really cool panoramic view of this....

I end up with this kind of garbage....


Facebook is such a funny place. For real. I enjoy it most of the time, in spite of the haters. But it's so ironic that I can post things about having a glass or 3 of wine when most people know that I'm the only adult in the house and no one bats an eye (having one right now, thankyouverymuch) but when I post a picture of a lightbulb, it sparks intense debate (not just tonight - every time I mention that I use CFLs it happens).


And this one....this one might just be my most favorite observation of the day. It would have been cooler still if I had noticed it two days ago, but still - I'll take it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A girl with a vision. A mom with power tools.

It's a good combination.

It all started out a while ago when Emily decided that she wanted a bookshelf for her room. The three basement bedrooms are small, don't have closets, and all have at least one cement wall - which makes adding shelves more difficult. We've had to get creative with storage down there (remember the beds that we built?), but so far the kids have done well with improvising.

Emily decided that she wanted basically a bigger version of some cubbies that I had made for the girls many years ago. I told her to draw up what she wanted, and we'd figure it out from there. So she came up with this:

She drew it on her iPod. Whatever works, right?
We finally decided to do it yesterday, so we went out to the garage and poked around in the plethora of scrap plywood leftover from other projects. Once we found the wood we were going to use, we got started. She decided to change some of the measurements a bit, but that was the fun part - we created as we went.

She decided that she wanted a back on it, but rather than use plywood, we used a scrap piece of paneling that we found in the garage to give it a different look - and make it not be quite so heavy to move around.

Once we got it assembled, she went to work with the sander.

Then she dug around the cans of paint in the basement until she found the one that she wanted - light colored so that she can doodle on it and decorate it however she wants to.

It actually is square - but the picture
makes it look wonky.

I really can't complain about a kid wanting more room to keep her books - and I'm even more thankful that she was happy to design it and help build it rather than insist on something store bought. We had a fun few hours doing it, she's happy with the final product, and it didn't cost us a penny.

Pretty awesome in my opinion.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Take a step back

We had some pretty nasty storms yesterday here in our neck of the woods. They didn't last long, but they packed a punch with a lot of wind and rain. We got stuck driving home in it, and for the first time in a long time I debated pulling over until I could see better, but at that point I was only a few blocks from home and wanted to get the boys inside in case it started hailing.

Luckily, the weather passed quickly, and we got cleaned up and headed out to Scouts and then to the library for a bit. We didn't get home until close to 9pm, and after the boys went to bed I went downstairs to work on a sewing project.

This morning, when I finally rolled myself out of bed, I looked out the window of my bedroom like I usually do - and then without even stopping in the bathroom I put my crocs on and went out to my garden.

Or what was left of my garden.

A good sized branch came out of the neighbor's tree and landed partially on their fence and partially on my garden. I couldn't really tell at that point how much damage there was,but I knew that the only way I was going to find out was to get in there and start cutting. I went back inside, went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and went over to the neighbor's house to make sure that they were even aware of the situation.

She came to the door and said that yes, they knew, but they didn't know how bad it was on my side. I showed her the picture that I took and she gasped in shock. I told her that I would clean up my side as best I could, and she said that they had already called their son (they are both in their mid to late 80's) and hopefully he would come over after work to help clean up the mess. I assured her that I would help clean it up since I knew that they would be unable to help.

Then Alex and I started cleaning. We got the clippers and started cutting the smaller branches to remove them to see just how much damage had been done to the garden. Once we got the worst of the branches out, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the damage was contained to one potato plant and possibly a raspberry bush.  That was it.

I was thrilled.

We went ahead and did a quick weeding since the ground was wet, and then he helped me to stake up some of the more wobbly plants and we piled all of the branches we had cut into the wheelbarrow.

There were a lot of branches. The wheelbarrow was completely covered.

But then I took a few steps back and looked again.

And a few more steps.

A few more steps back, and I started to see just how much bigger the problem really could have been.

And at the same time, I started to realize how small the problem really was in the grand scheme of things.


Sometimes it takes a blinding storm to see things a little more clearly.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Not quite a day of rest...

After running the 5K yesterday, I figured I'd do a whole lot of nothing today.

I figured wrong.

I don't know what got me started, but I was outside, just kind of puttering around in the yard. I've noticed some bricks that were hidden by dirt behind the house, between the patio and the firepit area before - I kind of thought that maybe it was a walkway, but I wasn't sure. So I started poking around.

Now, we have already found a ton of bricks around the property. I don't know what the previous owners did with all of them or where they came from, but we've used them for various projects, including the firepit.

Not knowing exactly what I was getting into here, I started to dig.

And then I got the wheelbarrow and started to dig some more.

And then the broom to see exactly what was there.

And then Alex came out and started to help me - until he got bored, then he'd go back inside and out of the heat.

There were parts that were under almost 6" of dirt and grass that had just overtaken it.

By the time I was done, I had removed enough dirt to fill the wheelbarrow twice, and I uncovered an entire walkway made out of bricks. It's uneven in spots, and it's considerably lower than the level of the grass, so I'm going to have to do a LOT of work if I end up keeping it (I debated digging it up and reusing the bricks elsewhere). I have a few ideas in mind for things that I can do with it, but I have to figure out just how much work it's going to take, not to mention how much money.

For now though, I think I'm just going to leave it as is - until I come up with the ideal plan. And a lot of extra time. And win the lottery.

Or at least until after we get back from vacation.

So did I tutu or not?

Last night, I wrote about how I got roped into doing a 5K today.

Well, I did it. And I survived. Barely.

Since I hadn't run a step since the half-marathon in May, I knew it was going to be hard and that I was going to pay for it. And before the end of the first mile, I wanted to die. But stubbornness prevailed for a while.

The first mile was all in the sun, and even though it was only 8am and it wasn't that hot out yet, there wasn't a lick of a breeze and it felt HOT. The second mile wasn't so bad - it wound in and out of a bunch of buildings (so much so that it seemed like a drunk designed that portion of the course) so there was quite a bit of shade.

The third mile was totally out in the sun again. And while we don't have real hills in this part of Kansas, there was enough of one that I had to give up and walk for a bit. I was mad and frustrated by that point, but I also tried to give myself a little bit of slack since I did this one (stupidly) without training at all.

Once I got up that hill, the course made another sharp turn and headed toward the finish line (and it was downhill!) so I knew I could make it. I spotted The Dude and the boys waiting at the bottom near the finish line, and seeing them always makes it better.

So I did it. My time was not fabulous by any stretch of the imagination, but I did it. I'm not in it for speed or medals or prizes - it's only for my own personal goals. And now I have a little bit more motivation to get busy and train over the next few weeks so that I can do the race in PA without dying on the mountains.

But the question remains: did I tutu?

He missed the shot when I was flipping him off.

I did not tutu. I just wasn't feeling the tutu, although I brought both of them along to the race before I made my decision. I decided that the sparkly sequins were a little more festive for the 4th of July than the tutu was.

However, The Dude did tutu momentarily - at least long enough for me to get a picture.

What a stud.

I do have to give him a shout out though. He's not feeling well - some kind of summer bug - and honestly, he was downright miserable. But he dragged himself out of bed to go along with us this morning to keep an eye on the boys and act as my photographer. I couldn't do this stuff without him, and I appreciate him more than words can say.

(And he lets me post ridiculous pictures of him. Bonus points right there.)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Wait, tomorrow?!?

Ah, The Dude. He should know that conversations like this never end well for him.

But being the good guy that he is, he usually ends up dealing with whatever crazy scheme I've cooked up for us.

A friend of mine messaged me today and informed me that there was a local 5K happening tomorrow. I had heard little bits and pieces about it, but didn't really pay attention to it. I think I was trying to hide from it because if I actually knew about it, I'd want to run it. Because I'm weird like that.

Anyway....I haven't run a step since I did the half-marathon back in May. I've been wanting needing to get back out there again but just haven't really had the initiative. But I want to do a 5K when we're in PA on vacation, and if I'm going to do one there in the mountains then I need to at least get my butt in gear and start running again here where it's flat so that I don't die mid-race and fall over a cliff or something because that would kind of put a damper on the whole vacation thing.

So yeah. Because I have nothing better to do than to make a fool out of myself first thing in the morning....

So I guess now the only question is:
tutu or sequined skirt? 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lumps and bumps and bruises....oh my.

A week ago today, we had a scare. Kind of a big one.

I was working down in the Mom Cave, and the boys were upstairs. A friend had come over to play, and they were getting more than a bit rowdy. I listened to them getting louder and louder, and when it became more obvious that they weren't going to calm themselves down, I started to head upstairs.

Just as I put my foot on the bottom step, I heard a drastic change in the noise - now it was punctuated with screams of pain. I started running up the steps and the door opened, with Daniel yelling at me "MOM COME QUICK JARED'S HURT!"

Long story short, as he was racing through the house, he misjudged a turn and ran into a wall. Hard.

When I peeled his hands away from his forehead, I was relieved that there was no blood, but I watched in fear as the goose egg grew right in front of my eyes. We iced it immediately, with him still lying on the floor in the hallway. I talked to him, watched his eyes, listened to his responses - and decided within about 20 minutes that he needed to be checked. 

We got to the ER and he was taken right in to be seen (so thankful again for small towns). The doctor was awesome and decided almost immediately to do a CT scan to be safe, and because he had some concerns. Thankfully, the CT was clear, he was diagnosed with a concussion, and we were sent home.

He recovered quickly (almost too quickly) and was running around again later that day. The bruising started a couple of days later and other than being tender, he seemed fine. 

I took him to our pediatrician on Monday for a follow up, and she did an eye exam - which he failed miserably in the eye on the side of his head that got hit. Fearing that he might have done some damage to the eye, she referred him to an optometrist - where we went today.

After an extremely thorough exam, which included dilating his eyes for the first time ever, it was determined that he did not damage his eye. But, his vision sucks.

At the ripe old age of 11, he's getting bifocals.

There's a good chance that he'll grow out of his crappy vision. Or, since I've already cursed one kid with emotional scarring I guess he can blame me for being blind as a bat. Either way, I'm just so incredibly thankful that it's not damage to his eye.

Never a dull moment. Ever.