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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I Stayed

After I got the boys off to school this morning, I came back home and sat down in front of the laptop as I often do, trying to finish waking up. I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed and I saw a link that several people had posted, and it caught my attention.


If you haven't read that article yet, do it. Do it now.

Read the tweets. All of them. 

Read the last paragraph.

Now think about what you just read. I mean, really think about it.

How many times have you heard about a domestic violence situation, and questioned why the victim didn't just leave? How many times have you said something along the lines of "If that was me, I'd kick him in the junk and walk out the door"? 

Do you know how many times I said that before?

Trust me when I say that it's not that easy. It's hard. Staying in a bad situation is hard, but leaving is even harder.

A bike ride with this kind of scenery -
perfect therapy.
I went for a bike ride after I read that article. I needed to get out of the house and away from the computer and get some fresh air and quit crying. I ended up going about 6 miles, which is about 5 miles longer than any ride I've done recently, and even with a minor spill along the way, it did me good to work through my thoughts.

It has been 5 years, 4 months, and 3 days since I left my second marriage. And reading tweets like that can still bring me to tears, remembering exactly how it felt. I could feel the pain in those tweets. I can still feel the pain of what I went through - both physically and mentally.

Why did I stay for so long?

We He made the decision that I should quit my job and stay home with the kids. I had no job, no income, no way to support myself and my kids if I left. So I stayed.

I knew that I could file for child support and apply for assistance and things like that, but knowing the bureaucracy and red tape of the system, I wouldn't get it immediately - and landlords don't accept "I'll pay you in a couple of months" before they offer you a lease on your own place away from the abuse. So I stayed.

When we bought the van, he put it in his name because it was "easier" - leaving me with no transportation if I walked out. So I stayed.

Sure, he was mean when he drank. But he was nice to us when he was sober. So I stayed.

He worked hard at his job all day, so when he came home and the house wasn't clean enough, it was definitely my fault because I didn't work hard enough to clean it. But I knew that I could do better to make him happy. So I stayed.

I just needed to be a better wife and mother, and he'd stop drinking and treat me better. I could fix everything that was wrong. So I stayed.

When he dozed off on the couch and I finally figured out that he was hiding flasks of booze in his boots, he responded by kicking me as hard as he could. But really, I had just startled him and it was a reflex, and he didn't really mean to do it. So I stayed.

He choked me in a drunken rage when I was 6 months pregnant with our son. But I had made him angry when I grabbed his shirt to make him look me in the eyes and be honest with me. After I bailed him out of jail that night, he swore that it would never happen again. So I stayed.

He really didn't mean to knock me down and fling my glasses across the floor when he hit me upside the head. I was already crouching down so I was off-balance when he hit me - otherwise it wouldn't have happened. And he really didn't mean to hit me - it was accidental. Honest. So I stayed.

He was with his first wife for close to 20 years. Obviously, if she stayed with him for that long, things must have been fine and this behavior must have started when he married me. I must have somehow broken him - so I had to fix him. So I stayed.

If I left, who would take care of him? I loved him, and I didn't want to hurt him. So I stayed.

I loved him. So I stayed.

It finally took him pulling a knife to get me to realize that I didn't deserve this anymore. My kids didn't deserve it either. No one deserves it - men, women, children, young, old, black, white - it doesn't matter.

If you know of someone who is being abused - the last thing that he/she needs is your judgment. That person needs your support and your love more than anything. It's so hard to get out of those situations - contrary to popular belief, resources are not always readily available. It is not something that most victims are willing to discuss with just anyone, and so often the allegations of abuse come as a surprise to those around them - and they're not always believed, making it harder to get the support that is needed to get out of the situation.

Stop judging the victims. Support them. Love them. Be there for them. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why do I push?

I spent pretty much the entire day outside cutting firewood and cleaning up the corner of the yard and the firepit area. The general firewood area has needed to be cleaned up for a while, but the firepit area really needed it after I tore down the fence the other day - since I just chucked all of the old fence over the remaining fence into that area rather than dragging it all the way around and into the gate.



I got to work early this morning and started knocking stuff out fairly quickly. But as time went on, I started to get tired. After tearing part of the fence down two days ago, and tearing the old gate down yesterday, my body was just tired.

I stopped occasionally to catch my breath and move into the shade, and I'd occasionally check the notifications on my phone. There were a couple of notifications on the pictures that I had posted of the work that I've done, and there were some comments that were complimenting me on what I've accomplished.

In typical brain dump fashion, my thoughts started to go in a few different directions. I started thinking about different reactions that I've gotten to various accomplishments that I've posted about in the past. Everything from variations of "good job" to "you've inspired me because...." Those thoughts made me start thinking about why I post these kind of things.

It's not for attention. It's not for the virtual pats on the back. It's not to brag or to show off or to gloat or anything like that. Honestly, it's not for me at all.

Every now and then, I get a message from someone who says "I've felt so hopeless because of my situation, but then I see what you can accomplish and I know that you've been in my shoes and so if you can do it, so can I".

That is why I do it. That is why I post the things that I do.

For the person who has hit rock bottom and doesn't know it it's possible to get back up again.

For the person who is so broke that pennies found on the ground are hoarded like gold coins.

For the person who has gotten smacked around by an alcoholic partner one too many times.

For the person who battles depression and struggles to get out of bed and function.

For the person whose kids have said "I don't like you right now, so I'm moving out for a while."

For the person who is struggling in any way.





If by some chance, someone is inspired by the things that I do and post, then that is all that I need. That makes all of this work - and blogging about it - worth it. And it gives me a reason to get the work done - the inspiration that people get from looking at my work inspires me to do even more.

Pay it forward, one positive thought at a time.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Got a few things done today...

I started out putting the finishing touches on the dining room curtains, which included washing the drapes. They came with the house, so there's no telling how old they actually are - but they're old. I was feeling brave so I tossed them into the washer on the 'handwash' cycle and hung them out on the line to dry. They survived, although the linings needed to be repaired because the fabric shredded in places.

But, they are hanging back up, complete with the new sheers that I made. I got regular sheers at the Dollar Store and shortened them and added the pleats, and got the full set for about $10.

Someday I might actually hang the birdhouses outside.

Then I went outside. The Dude and I planted some raspberry and blueberry bushes before we went on vacation, and then we just kind of tossed the bricks over there so that we had an idea of how many we needed to do the edging, but that was as far as we got. I finished that project up rather quickly, before the sun hit that part of the yard.

Before...

After...
Then - for some bizarre reason - I decided to tackle the fence around the shed. I've been working on getting this corner of the yard cleaned up because with it being outside of the fence, it looks awful as people are driving past. The fence right there was useless - most of it was just leaning against the shed, and what was still attached to anything was rotten.

Side. Isn't that a lovely fence?

Back - this section of fence was actually in the best condition.
Go figure.
It really didn't take much effort to pull the fencing down. I eventually got a hammer to break apart a few pieces, but most of it was so rotten that I could just pull it down. The posts had rotted off at the bases and I was able to just knock them down too - although they did take a little more effort. I took all of the wood and just tossed it over the fence into the firepit area - we'll pull the nails and burn it all eventually.

What was left of the window had a couple of pieces of screen just nailed over it, so I pulled those off and found out that the entire window was coming out of the wall, so I beat that back in with the hammer and then pulled out the broken glass so that I could put plexiglass in instead.

Obviously, we need to paint it. And plant stuff.

So much better.

Pulling out the glass to put in plexiglass.

We have a little bit of firewood to cut and stack.

Once I got all of that done, it was shower time and then time to pick up all 3 boys from school. We came home and did homework and then ran back into town to get the Traverse from the shop and then grabbed pizzas and then picked Sarah up from volleyball practice.....

Starting tomorrow, life gets more interesting. The girls are already into the swing of volleyball, and with one in high school and one in middle school they no longer play at the same time and the same place - instead it's twice as much running to get to as many of their games as possible. Alex and Daniel start soccer practice tomorrow night, and of course - they're on different teams. The Dude and I are now sharing a calendar so that we can keep track of what we're both doing and can tag team to get everyone where they need to be.

It's a good thing that I "binge slept" last week - because there won't be any more of that happening for a long time.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's a little ridiculous...

This week has been crazy busy. It's not like that's unusual for me, because my life is always crazy busy, but for some reason it seemed worse this week. Maybe it's because we're just getting back into the swing of the school schedule. Maybe it's because the kids are revving up their sports schedules. Maybe it's because I still have so much to do on the house.

I'm pretty sure that it's a combination of a lot of those things, plus a whole lot more.

It's funny though. I caught myself the other day - I was standing at the stove making cookies at the time. The boys had come home from school and absolutely begged me to let them go to the park. I had so much stuff to do and as much as I hated to admit it - I didn't feel like going with them. I relented and allowed the three of them to go to the park without me - after giving them a specific list of rules and an even more specific list of what their punishments would be if I even remotely thought that they had gotten out of line - and sent them the 4 blocks to the park.

I think that's when it hit me.

I had clothes hanging out in the summer sun on my new clothesline. I had cookies in the oven. Supper was ready to go into the oven as soon as the cookies came out of it. Laundry was in the washer. I had been puttering around the house, both inside and out, getting projects done all day long. The boys were at the park. The girls were at volleyball practice.

My life is ridiculous right now. Ridiculously wonderful. Ridiculously right.

I get so stressed out by the amount of work that I still have to do on this house - and I know that it will NEVER be completely done. But a lot of it needs to be done, and at times it seems so overwhelming - but it'll get done.

I spent the last year or two in my old-old house trying to figure out how to get out of it because I knew that it was going to go into foreclosure. Then we moved into the ghetto-esque house and although we knew it was only temporary, we were there for 3 1/2 years.

Now, we're in OUR house. The one that we will stay in for a very long time. For the first time in many years, I feel like I am where I belong, and it feels so ridiculously perfect that I can't even begin to describe it.

I've slept more in the last couple of days than I've slept in the last couple of months, and I think at least part of that is because it's finally starting to hit me that I don't have to keep pushing myself to get stuff done. It's just stuff - and realistically, most of it is cosmetic stuff. I've gotten way more done than I give myself credit for doing, and I didn't realize it until I sat down and started looking through pictures from when we first looked at the house and compared them to what it looks like now. Only then did I realize how much I've done already.

I am so ridiculously grateful right now.

Life is so good - when we take the time to notice.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The making of a clothesline

I posted this picture of my almost-completed clothesline on my facebook page and had at least one person ask me how I made them - so I figured that I'd just try to explain it here. I started to take pictures during the process, but then as time went on I kept forgetting to take more. But honestly, this was one of the simplest projects that I've done since we moved into this house. It's really easy. Honest.

I started off with three 4x4 pieces of lumber. They typically come in 8' lengths, so that's what I got. One thing you need to be aware of is that a 4x4 is not actually 4" by 4". It's 3 1/2" by 3 1/2".  Why? I'm not sure. I was told at one point that it's because when the lumber is cut, it's cut as a 4x4 but then in the processing and smoothing, it's trimmed and comes out smaller. Whether or not that's true? I don't know.

Anyway.....the first thing that I did was take one of the 4x4's and cut it in half, so it was now in 2 lengths that were each 4' long. Then I found the center of each one and made a small mark, then drew lines that were 1 3/4" out from each side of that mark. By doing that, I had marked the 3 1/2" wide spot that the vertical post would eventually fit into, and it would be centered on the horizontal crossbar.



Then I took my circular saw and set the blade to about 1/2" and cut grooves into the wood about 1/4" apart. I laid them side by side and cut through both of them at the same time just to make life easier.


Then I used a hammer and chisel and chiseled out the part that I had grooved, which left a 3 1/2" wide notch in the wood that was about 1/2" deep. The vertical pole will now fit in that notch, giving the whole thing a little more stability. You don't want to make the notch too deep, or else it will weaken the crossbar and it can split in the middle.


Make sure it fits.


I measured down 5" from the top of the vertical piece and made a line, and then lined the crossbar up just under that line. I had carriage bolts to hold the two pieces together, and used a long drill bit to drill through both pieces, inserted the bolt with washers and tightened them together with a nut.


I had purchased eye bolts to use to attach the ropes, and chose to get ones that were long enough to go the entire way through the crossbar, but you can always use shorter ones that just screw into the wood without going the whole way through. I measured about 4" in from each end of the crossbar and then spaced 4 eye bolts across it, drilled holes the entire way through, inserted them and tightened them with a nut and washer. 

At this point the poles were done.

The Dude and I had measured out where we wanted to put them earlier in the day and I marked the spots with spray paint. I dug holes about 18" deep and then stood the pole in it to see if I could reach the top or not. I wanted them to be fairly high so that when I hang sheets and comforters, they won't drag on the ground, but I also didn't want them to be so high that I couldn't reach them. So I made the crossbars as high as I could comfortably reach and used a quick concrete mix to anchor them in place. I used a level to make sure that they were standing straight(ish) and propped them so that they wouldn't fall before the concrete started to set.

I ran into some technical difficulties in the process - like I somehow managed to jam the first drill bit into the head of the drill and it wouldn't come out, no matter what I did. Finally after fighting with it for about 45 minutes I gave up and took it to the local hardware store, where the owner was able to get the bit out in about 2.5 seconds. Not counting that, from beginning to end the whole thing probably took less than 3 hours. I'll put the rope on tomorrow after I know that the concrete is good and set. I also plan to put some decorative bricks around the bottom of the poles, but that'll wait until tomorrow at least.

Like I said, super simple and quick to do. I need to dig out the receipts and figure out exactly how much I paid - I'd say that it was under $50. If you're looking to do something like this, there are about a gajillion plans for them online - I had scoped them out and just combined ideas that I liked and came up with this one and so far, it's worked. We'll just have to see what happens when I do my first load of laundry with them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

The Dude challenged me to do the ice bucket challenge. He put a different spin on his response to it, and I'm doing the same thing - albeit a different spin than the one that he used.

You don't need to see a video of me dumping a bucket of water over my head in order to raise awareness for anything. I don't need to one-up the guy before me and go for the gimmick and have a front end loader dump hundreds of gallons of water on me in order to prove that I care more than someone else.

I don't need to do it.

Instead, watch this video.

video

And then watch this one.

video

This is my niece's son, Corban. He's just a few months younger than Daniel and although they don't get to see each other very often, they are buddies. They love to play together, and I hope and pray that they get to hang out and be buddies for a very long time - but Corban has cystic fibrosis.

"What's that?" you ask..... well, you can check out THIS LINK to get more information on that. They explain it way better than I ever could. After you get done reading that information, explore the rest of the CFF's website and learn more about this horrible disease.

Corban wears the vest daily - it thumps him hard enough to knock the excess mucus in his lungs loose so that he can cough it up and get it out of his body in an attempt to prevent infections in his lungs. He takes breathing treatments. He takes oral medications.

He does this every day. He has done this every day of his life, since he was diagnosed just after birth. This is his normal. This is his life.

Corban is doing well at the moment, but that can change quickly, and it often has. There have been many sicknesses, hospitalizations, tests, medications, treatments, 3 hour long road trips to get to the specialists to not get any answers - it's a constant battle not only for Corban, but for his entire family.

We participate in the Great Strides walk every year in order to raise awareness and much-need research monies (I didn't get to do it this year because I had other commitments that day). It's usually right around the beginning of May, and we are always looking for support - whether it's more walkers to join our team, or donations, or just spreading the word. If you want to help us with that, just get a hold of me.

There are so many causes out there that need attention. Whether it's research for a cure for an illness, donations to help the homeless, funding for mental health care, support for victims of domestic violence, or whatever - we all have the power to put ourselves out there and do something. Make a donation. Volunteer. Spread the word.

Dump the water, don't dump the water. Do whatever it takes to make a difference.

Monday, August 25, 2014

And I wonder why I'm so tired....

Today has literally been a non-stop day.

I was up bright and early to get the kids up and off to school. Somehow I managed to make pancakes, pack lunches, double-check and sign agendas, and get dressed all at the same time - and managed to get all 5 kids out the door on time and off to school. As soon as the door closed on the Traverse after dropping off the last kid, I breathed a sigh of relief and came back home.

I ran around the kitchen, trying to find it under the piles of dirty dishes, nasty dish rags, stuff that needed to go out to the recycling, random food items, and various other unidentifiable pieces of crap. Once I got the kitchen somewhat straightened, The Dude and I worked out our plan for the day.

I started mowing, while he worked on scrubbing out the new-to-us fridge that we got yesterday. Before anyone says anything about why *I* was mowing and he was cleaning the fridge - I enjoy mowing. I really do. It's an awesome workout, I love seeing the immediate progress that I make with each pass of the mower, I get lots of sun and fresh air, and I totally have a brain dump while I'm out there. All of those weird, random, self-defeating thoughts run through my head (and sometimes out of my mouth because no one can hear me) and then they're gone. POOF. Just like that.

Before I got done mowing, he was ready to move the fridge, so between the two of us we managed to somehow maneuver it down into the basement and into place, and then we moved the new-to-us stove into place as well. Once I get that kitchen organized, I can officially move my entire canning operation down there and not destroy the main kitchen while I'm working on that stuff.

However, that's going to take a while - it's a disaster down there.



But at least we're a few steps closer to getting that area done. Of course, there's a whole list of things to do to get it "officially" done, but at this point I'll settle for making it functional.

After we got done down there, I went back outside and finished mowing the grass. I grabbed a late lunch and then got in the shower to wash the ick off of me, and then went and got the boys from school. They were both tired when they got home, so they wanted to do nothing more than lay around for a while, so I took the opportunity to work on a set of curtains that I had started for Daniel's room. I worked on those for a while and got them finished - but didn't have time to hang them before we went to Scouts.

After Scouts, we grabbed supper and came home. I got the curtains hung up, did a few more things around the house, did the stuff I needed to do online, and then I started to wonder why I was fighting sleep....

I have a list of things that I want to get done tomorrow while the kids are at school, and I will totally admit that taking a nap is on that list.