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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.