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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.

Patience

It's no secret that I'm not a very patient person. It's just never been one of my stronger traits - I'm generally all about instant gratification. But every now and then, I'm reminded that patience can indeed be a good thing.

 I walked out onto the patio tonight and saw an amazing sunset. Everything was glowing orange and there was an amazing warmth and glow that just can't be described. I tried to take a couple of pictures of the beauty, and failed miserably. It's pretty and all, but it's just not right. And there's that stupid reflection up above the sun that I just couldn't avoid, no matter what I tried.


A little while later, I walked outside with The Dude to get ready to start unloading a stove from the back of his truck, and as I looked to the west I was even more amazed at what I saw.


OK, OK, I get it. Sometimes we have to wait to get the perfect ______.

All I really want to do right now is clean up the rest of the rocks in the yard, put the brick edging around 2 flowerbeds, get all of the firewood cut up and into the lean-to part of the shed, build the raised flowerbed that is just screaming to be built by the side door, put the stones down under the rain barrel, clean out the rock garden and plant stuff there.....

Of course, inside I want to rip out wallpaper in a couple of rooms and paint the walls, pull up some carpet, tile the laundry room, repair the tile in the laundry room bathroom, repair the cracks in the walls, put some ceiling lights in the living room....

Then there's the other stuff that I want to get done - finish canning the sand plum jelly, make some pickles, finish a weighted blanket that I promised a friend a month ago, finish a bunch of quilting projects, start some other projects, organize my desk....

Patience. I need to be patient. I need to realize that I am only one person and I can only do so much.

But it'll all get done eventually. And it'll be worth the wait.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Backyard Cleanup

I've been wanting to resurrect the blog since I hardly ever post anything here anymore, so here it is. Nothing exciting, but a few pictures from what I got accomplished today.

I've been working out in the yard a lot this past week, trying to get things cleaned up out there because while it doesn't look that bad on the surface, it's actually a horrible mess. There are rocks and bricks and random chunks of concrete all over the place, there are dead trees and branches and stumps that need to be removed, there's a horrible metal edging thing around a flowerbed that needs to be ripped out and replaced - and that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Today, a friend sent her son up with a chainsaw and he helped me to get rid of some stumps and cut some branches off of an old cedar tree out behind the shed - that area needs a ton of work yet, but we were obviously doing something really right (or really wrong) when people were slowing down to STARE at what we were doing. One lady almost ran off of the road in her effort to stare us down - it was odd to say the least.

Anyway.....this is basically our firewood area. We've just been tossing anything wooden back there and it's gotten overgrown and downright ghetto-looking, so I straightened that up today. We're hoping to use some of the old fence slats to patch the holes in the parts that are still standing - hopefully it won't look too horrible until we have time to replace the whole thing.

Before...

After...
And then there's this tree... I've cut it down once already and it's back up to this. We want to get rid of it so that we have easier access to the lean-to part of the shed, because once that's cleaned out we're going to put the firewood in there to keep it from getting wet - but that is going to take a while.

Now you see it...

The tree disappeared today. Again.

Now you don't!
There is still a ton of stuff out there that I need to do. Besides just the normal mowing, we have a few sections of fence that need to come down, we have more wood that needs to be cut up into firewood length, we have at least a load of stuff to go to the local burn site, we have flowerbeds to redo, rocks to move..... and that's just the start of it.

I'm exhausted. My feet are swollen and sore. But I'm slowly getting stuff done. Having the kids in school during the week helps out a bunch and gives me time to not only get things done but to also relax once in a while. Right now I'm really only dealing with sports practice schedules, which aren't so bad - but volleyball games are going to start soon, and at that point I will lose what little bit is left of my mind.

One day at a time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TMOART:14 - Let's get this show on the road!

If you've been around these parts for any length of time, you'll recognize the 'TMOART' abbreviation - but just in case you don't know..... it's time, once again for *insert drum roll*

The Mother of All Road Trips: 2014 Edition!!!

I've been talking about it a little bit here and there on my facebook page, but I haven't really gone into great detail about where exactly we're going on the trip. I always try to maintain at least a little bit of privacy on here, mainly by not revealing our exact location at any given point in time. Because I use our real pictures of our real selves, I try to be careful - although I've said it before and I'll say it again, if I had any idea when this thing started that it would get as big as it has (ok, in the grand scheme of things it's still a baby blog, but it's way bigger than what I expected) I never would have used our pictures. But it blew up and our pictures were already there, so all I can do now is hope that none of you are crazy psychotic stalkers.

However..... I will say this about this trip....

We are leaving Thursday morning. We are stopping at a friend's house in Tennessee - and I can not wait to see her! Hopefully she'll let me post some pictures of her too, because honestly, she's the person who truly got me started on this blogging thing. There will be at least one more stop in Tennessee, and then on to my brother's house in North Carolina for a night, where I will also get to see my niece and her daughters and her new husband.

After that, we are heading north to Virginia to see some more friends and to spend a couple of nights in a tent, and then off to Washington, DC for a day or two where we will see at least one more friend (hopefully more). Once we leave DC, we will head up into the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania to see my parents for a few days, along with a day trip to visit Penn State and get our traditional family picture taken on the Lion Shrine.

Our final official stop will be "back home" for me, which is in the southcentral part of PA. We'll be camping out for a few days there and visiting with lots of people who have known me for a lot longer than I'd care to admit - and then we'll pack up and head back west again.

We've been slowly getting ready for this trip - I went ahead and rented a really big van to do it this time so that we have room for all of our stuff and the kids won't be on top of each other. Plus this time, if we lose our transmission on the way back, it won't (theoretically) be on our dime like it was the last time.

I've been doing laundry and cleaning the house and trying to get things organized so that when we come back, the house will be at least semi-clean (for a minute or two), and I've been making lists out the wazoo. I already stopped the mail delivery and notified the local police department that we'd be gone so they'll keep an eye on the house for me and notify me if anything happens.

Today though, I did something that was just so totally surreal - I took one of our spare keys over to my neighbor's house and asked her if they would mind keeping an eye on things for us while we're gone. You know, walk through the house occasionally, water the plants on the patio, help themselves to any of the peppers or tomatoes as they become ripe, stuff like that. Normal, right? Of course it is - until you realize that I was on the verge of being homeless less than 4 years ago, and today I handed my spare housekey to the wife of THE MAYOR who lives next door to me.

The mayor. I live next door to the mayor.

One of these days, I'll get used to all of this homeowner stuff, right?

Until then......it's time to get ready for a road trip.