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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Plum pickin'

I took my 2 1/2 hours of kid-free time today and went back out to pick more sand plums. I couldn't believe how many there were when I got there! I mean, I knew we left a bunch that weren't ripe, but I swear they've multiplied - not that I'm complaining or anything, but wow! I only took one bucket with me, which would not be anywhere near big enough for all of them, but considering the extreme heat, I couldn't have done much more by myself. I mean, I love hot weather, but wow. It was hot. 108 degrees' worth of hot, to be exact.

Did I mention that it was hot out?

What I was able to get on my own...

When I finally called it quits, I wandered around a bit and took a few more pictures....

After I got the boys from school and came home, it was time to start on Mission: Training Wheels. Luckily, I got that little predicament fixed.

Then supper, baths, homework, general kid-wrangling, etc. I finally got a shower and got the sweat and filth and gross washed off of me around 9:00 and I. am. exhausted.

And now, I believe it's time for bed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


We decided to do something different today - the jury is still out on as to whether or not it was a good idea.

Since we still didn't have the van back from the shop, I walked up to Alex's school to get him and then we walked back to the house. Then we grabbed his bike and I let him ride his bike while I walked to get Daniel from his school.

He did pretty good to start with....

But, on the way back, when we were about a block away from the house, disaster struck. One of the training wheels fell off of the bike. Suddenly, he went from Look At Me I'm A Big Kid to a crying sobbing blubbering mess (might have been a combination of the broken wheel, the 100 degree temps, and just being tired from school). So now, I have to add "miraculously fix training wheel" to my list of things to do tomorrow.

Good news of the day, however, is that we did get our wheels back! Finally, all signs of The Great Flying Boulder Incident are gone.

It looks incredible. Not only did they replace the bumper and all that other stuff, but they washed it AND cleaned out the inside! I mean, it's like really really really clean, dude. And I didn't have to do it! AND they delivered it to my driveway when they were done with it.

However, they did forget one very important thing - something that I even made a point of telling them before they got started. So I had to run back to the dealership and get it, and they did make it right:

Good day, all in all.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Working backwards. Gotta' love it.

So I've mentioned this quilt block swap that I'm in - I make 16 identical blocks, mail them to the coordinator, and I get 16 different blocks in return. Or, I can opt to make 32 and get 32 different ones back. Pretty cool concept, yes?

This is what the first 16 looked like. Oh, we were told basically to use a black value for the background and a fall print for the leaf. Everyone that is participating was given the same instructions, so theoretically everyone will choose different fabrics, but they'll all have the same theme. But I digress.....

I got the first 16 done and was all sorts of proud of myself. I even went out and bought more fabric to do another 16. I'm not as crazy about this fabric, but when it's all mixed in with all of the other blocks, it'll be fine. That's one of the beauties of quilting.

I started cutting out the second set and getting them ready to put together into the bigger blocks. Then I started looking back at the first set. Then I got out a ruler.

Then I smacked myself upside the head. Very hard.

Apparently, what I've always believed to be the 1/4" seam allowance marking on my sewing machine isn't really 1/4". So all 16 of the blocks were about 1/4-1/2" too small. ALL OF THEM.

Normally, it hasn't been a big deal. Think about it - I make 11,736 blocks for a quilt (ok, maybe not, but stay with me...) and when I'm done, the quilt looks fine. That's because every single one of those 11,736 blocks was put together in the same wrong way.

If I do my blocks for the swap wrong, and everyone else participating does it right, I'm going to screw up everyone else's finished project.

Yep. So what did I spend last evening and this afternoon doing?

Yep. Sitting on the couch and tearing each square apart, piece by piece. Then ironing them flat again so that I can sew them together again. Correctly. And you can bet that I'm going to be measuring every. single. seam. allowance.


Then I get to start on the second set of 16. Because I'm nuts like that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This week's precap: 8/28-9/3

Yes, you read that right - it's a precap. Kind of like a recap of the week's events, but I'm doing it ahead of time. That way, I'll be more motivated to actually get everything done that needs to be done this week.

OK, so it sounds good in theory, at least...

I thought I was being all smart, getting out the datebook and getting everything written down for the week, including the kids' school schedules. Then I pulled out their school calendars and figured out that at least 4 out of the 5 don't have school on Friday (already? really?) so that totally changes the whole dynamic of the week. I had a Super Duper Uber Important Appointment scheduled on Friday, but I think I might have to reschedule that one because I just don't really feel like taking the kids there.

Although, it is only supposed to take 15 minutes, and I'm really anxious to get it done.....oh, decisions, decisions....

So anyway, along with all the normal Running Kids Back And Forth, the other things (other than the usual cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc etc etc etc) that need to be accomplished this week include:

~taking the van in tomorrow to get the bumper replaced
~getting stamps to mail the rent check (should have done that a week ago)
~debating whether or not to reschedule the Super Duper Uber Important Appointment
~working on the quilt blocks that I need to have done for the quilt block swap
~getting to the library TOMORROW to return some movies (after I watch the other one tonight)
~getting Sarah and Alex to separate appointments later this week
~most likely going to a playdate Friday morning, especially if ALL of the kids are off school
~possibly going to the Super Duper Uber Important Appointment with all of the kids in tow

Not a bad week, considering. Next week gets even more interesting when Daniel starts going to his other preschool on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Yay me!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Building stuff....

My friend Alyssa needed some help with some fix-it type stuff around her house, so the boys and I went down to her house today to see what kind of damage repairs we could do.

I loaded up the van with the necessities to get ready for my own playdate....

This is what the wall in her boys' room looked like - they had mounted a TV on the other side of the wall (in the living room) a couple of years ago and ran the wires through the wall, and the wall never got fixed. So we decided to tackle this first.

We ran to Home Depot to get stuff....

It was a squishy drive back to her house....

But we got it all in there - thank goodness her sister volunteered to take the boys out running around all afternoon!!!

Then we got to work. We put some molding around the hole in the wall, cut the plywood to fit, put some molding around that to make it, uh, pretty-ish, and then put hinges on it so that there would still be access to the wires if necessary....

We had so much fun doing it too - despite the minor bloodshed (mine - stupid drill), a few errors in measurement (also mine - I admit it), a few screws dropped into the wall (that was all Alyssa), and a few arguments with the mitre box. She has a whole list of jobs to do around the house, so we're going to see how many we can knock out over the next few weeks.

Not a bad day for a couple of amateurs - and yes, we know parts of it are crooked and mis-measured, but we were going for function, not beauty. :P

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday's Confession Booth

My friend Kristen over at A Little Something For Me has started a new thing for Fridays - The Confession Booth. So, on Fridays (maybe not every Friday, but on most) I'll post a confession and link it over to her blog - read mine, and then go to hers to read other bloggers' confessions. Some will be serious, some will be lighthearted, but I can guarantee that you'll find other blogs that you will enjoy!

Make sure you really read over Kristen's blog - she is a wonderful mom with a beautiful family, including a son with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. I had never heard of this until I stumbled upon her blog, and the way that she and her family deals with everything that is thrown at them is truly inspiring.

And, she's from Pennsylvania too - so she gets extra Coolness Points from me.


I've been thinking about this all week - trying to figure out what I wanted to confess. You know, I don't have many secrets. I really don't. My life is pretty much an open book, not just on this blog.

So without a deep, dark, juicy secret to confess, I figure I can maybe amuse you (and lighten the mood after last night) with some of my shallow, dimly lit, dry secrets.

I really don't like Oreos. The white stuff is ok, but I think that the cookie part is really kind of gross.

I bite my nails. And when I have them bitten down to bloody stumps, I pick at the skin around them. I've tried everything to stop, and have given up. Instead, I do my nails - like with the tips and the acrylic powder and everything. I don't mess with them when they're done, and doing them myself is cheaper than going to a salon every few weeks (although they don't look as good as salon nails, but oh well).

I don't own a hair dryer. Seriously. I wash, towel dry, pick, and go.

I think Chinese food is gross. I know, I know. It's almost un-American to walk past an All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet. But, see how you feel after ringing in the New Year in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, wishing for death to come quickly after an all-night vomitfest resulting from eating bad Chinese food. I was never crazy about it anyway, but that incident pretty much sealed its fate on my Things That Are Repulsive To Me list.

I balance my checkbook to the penny. OK, this one might not sound that strange to some, but it's just one of my "things". And when I say I balance it to the penny, I mean that literally. At least 3-4 times per week, I pull it out and log into my bank's website and balance it - and if it is off by $0.01, I will not quit until I find the discrepancy. Although I do have to say that since I do it that often, it's usually accurate.

I have been arrested. I was 19 (I think) and I got busted (along with a lot of other people at a party) for underage drinking. We were all loaded onto a city bus and taken to city hall (or whatever that building was) for mug shots and stuff. I don't remember most of it, but I got out of the charges on a technicality.

I also don't like Brussel sprouts (who does?), cole slaw, potato and/or macaroni salads, blueberries, and raisins. Ew. Just ew, to all of them.

I hardly ever actually read the books I get from the library. I check them out, keep them until they're overdue (with every intention of reading them) and return them without reading them. I consider my regular fines to be my own way of financially supporting the library. A donation, if you will.

Now, I must go balance my checkbook.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

News Flash

I'm not perfect. I don't have it all together.

There is a weak spot in my relationship with my kids. There has been for a while. From what I could see, I thought that it was becoming stronger, becoming more reinforced. I was doing everything in my power to keep it from breaking, and I failed.

On the other side of that weak spot, it was being chiseled away, bit by bit, little by little.

And today it broke. I don't know if it can be fixed. I don't know how to fix it.

With that piece broken, my heart is shattered. And it hurts like hell.

I don't know what to do. I'm lost, confused, scared, and hurt.

Please, just bear with me as I work through this, and understand that I just can't go into details right now - and maybe not ever.

And remember - sometimes those who seem strong are the ones who need the most support.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It was the BEST...ever....

I had the most incredible experience today. I mean, seriously, it was amazing.


Absolutely amazing.

Out of this world, even.

What could I have possibly done, you ask? Well, let me tell you. But you had better brace yourselves, because it's pretty earth-shattering. And as a single parent, it was something that I just don't get the chance to experience very often. I was able to do it a few times when I was married, but just not often enough for my liking.

I had a storgasm.

What, you've never heard of a storgasm before?

Let me explain - a storgasm is the incredibly free feeling that a parent - especially a single parent - gets when he/she is able to go to the grocery store, ALONE. The parent is completely and totally free to wander up and down the aisles as long as desired. The shopping cart does not look like a racecar (or steer like a tank) and is not full of screaming children and noisy toys, leaving no room for groceries. There are no whining children complaining about the parental choice of cereals purchased. Store employees do not give the parent the evil eye as children come dangerously close to toppling a pyramid-shaped display of pickles. Other customers do not glare at the parent with that Why Don't You Control Your Children Better Than That look. The parent is free to read labels, check purchased items off of the list (because with no children present, the parent was able to remember to bring the list to the store), use coupons, and even use a calculator to compare the relative price-per-ounce of every brand of spaghetti sauce. The parent is able to use the self-checkout and bag the groceries properly, without having to pause to catch children as they jump head-first out of the cart and hurtle toward the concrete floor. Impulse purchases are minimized, as there is only one person to be responsible for at that moment.

It should be noted that an added bonus of this experience is the ability to walk past a non-storgasmic parent and smile knowingly - however, it is advised that laughing at the other parent be avoided at all costs as part of Storgasm Etiquette.

The storgasm continues when the groceries are brought home. They can be unloaded, sorted, and put away promptly. The refrigerator can be organized, along with the cupboards. Old, spoiled food can be thrown away as it is discovered. The reusable grocery bags can be put back where they belong.

The storgasm ends with the parent sitting down in a chair, balancing the checkbook after the day's purchases, and having a cold drink to relax after the experience (cigarette is optional and based on personal preference).

I have looked forward to this day for months - ever since the moment that I realized that all 5 kids would be in school at the same time and that I would truly have kid-free time for the first time in YEARS. I just had no idea how incredible it would be.

And now that I've done it once, I can't wait to do it again.

Happy Birthday, Jeff

I have debated for days as to whether or not I wanted to even acknowledge this day, for many reasons.

I'm not doing this to create drama. I'm not doing it to hurt anyone. I'm doing it because I feel that I need to - for me - as another step in my own healing. And I need to remember that although our marriage was far from perfect and we had many, many issues, we still had some good times. We were still a family.

These pictures are from Jeff's 44th birthday. August 24, 2008. He wanted a Boston Cream Pie, so I made one for him. We had our own little family party that day.

Today would have been his 47th birthday.

But he's gone.

There are so many things that I want to say, but I just don't know how to put them into words.

I'm still mad at him. I'm mad that he continued to choose alcohol over his family - not just our family, but his family back in Massachusetts. I'm mad that he wasn't strong enough to make better choices. I'm mad that the only choice that I had was to ask him to leave our home for good. I'm mad that he didn't win the battle against alcohol.

But I'm also sad. I miss the man that I saw when he was sober. I miss the good times that we did have. I'm sad that Daniel will grow up without his father, and that my other kids lost a stepfather who they loved with all their hearts.

RIP Jeff
August 24, 1964 - February 2, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oldies but goodies

I was searching around on my computer last night, looking for something (funny thing is that now I don't even remember what I was originally looking for) and I found a folder of pictures that I forgot existed...

In honor of Alex and Daniel's first days of school this year....this was taken when Daniel was only 2 days old, the day that we came home from the hospital.

The older 3 with me and Daniel at the hospital when he was a day old. They're all so tiny!!

Oh, uh, yeah. Taken about 11 hours before my water exploded all over the living room floor.

My all-time favorite picture of Daniel, when he was about 6-7 hours old.

I just don't have anything profound to say tonight. I've been running around all day trying to get things done, and it's been super-hot again (yay!), and I've been pretty much glued to the computer keeping an eye on the earthquake updates. Crazy stuff. The epicenter was really close to where we stayed in VA a few weeks ago.

I think I'm going to get the boys to bed, straighten things up, and then continue sewing. I started on another set of blocks today and I'd like to put a good dent in those over the next day or so before I start tackling more strawberries.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another first day!

Today was it. My baby's first day of preschool.

He was so excited! He couldn't wait to find his locker and put his backpack away. There were absolutely no tears from either one of us. He just gave me a little wave and said "bye Mom" as I walked away.

After I dropped him off, I went off to find something to amuse myself...I didn't even know what I wanted to look for while I was there, so I wandered.

I ended up finding some cookbooks and sat down and actually browsed through them for a while.

It was too quiet. LOL I never realized how quiet the library actually is.

Anyway, I hung out there for a while, then picked out a couple of movies, signed everything out, and started walking towards home. Then I realized that I was right by the courthouse so I made a side trip there to check on some paperwork that I need to get filed soon. The staff there cleared up my questions, confirmed a few things, and then we set an appointment for next Friday.

Don't worry - you'll find out after it's all official. Just consider it another huge step for us. ;)

So I did lots of walking to get the boys back and forth to school (about 5 miles total) and enjoyed some quality quiet time to myself. It was odd. Definitely odd.

But I think that I can get used to it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tomorrow is the first day!

So tomorrow is Daniel's first day of preschool. I'm not sure who is more excited though - me or him! He can't wait to use his backpack and go to school, and he's so cute about it!

In fact, the excitement was just too much for him....he crashed out early!

Once we get into a routine, I'll have about 2 1/2 hours each afternoon with no kids. It's going to be weird and fantastic all at the same time! I'm not sure how we're going to do it yet but I'm thinking that if the weather cooperates, we'll walk Alex up to his school at noon, and then Daniel and I will walk (ok, he'll be in the stroller) back to his school so that he can be there by 12:30. Then I have to get Alex at 3:00 and Daniel at 3:30. It'll take a while to get into the routine, but we'll figure it out.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with my "free time" tomorrow. I was thinking about going to the grocery store, but it's too close to the end of my month and I need to wait a few days to do that.

Maybe the library. Alone. What a novel concept. This will be the first time in...well, FOREVER - that I've had time to myself on a regular basis. I had the 2 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays last year, but this is going to be 2 1/2 hours every day....finally, I might get some things done during the day and not have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning every night just to get things done.

In a way, I feel guilty about being this excited about it, but it goes back to that whole Being A Single Parent thing - I need some alone time! I see other moms who are sad to see their kids go to school, and I can't wait. But I refuse to feel overly guilty about it - I need this.

But for now, I need to finish up some laundry and straighten up a little bit around the house, and then I really really want to try to get some sewing done. I was going to try to do that earlier today, but my initiative ran off somewhere. Darn it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We be jammin'....

I managed to scrape up a bunch of empty jars from freecycle - Oh, how I love freecycle! If you're not familiar with freecycle, go to Yahoo! groups and do a search for it in your city/state - people posts things that they want to get rid of or things that they're looking for, and it's all FREE! I got a ton of jars like that over the past couple of days - definitely a money-saver.

Anyway, I started working on canning some more jam today, along with another batch of sand plum jelly.

It's a bit sauna-esque in here right now.

Yes, that's a Santa apron that I'm wearing. Deal with it.

I just tasted some of the strawberry jam, and I have to say that it's pretty darned good! :)

And just for giggles, here are a few more shots that need to go into the My Kids Can Sleep Anywhere files...

And now that my kitchen is completely and totally trashed and I can't seem to get anyone to clean it for me, I need to get on that....so that I can trash it again tomorrow.