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Thursday, May 31, 2012

A little bit of fundraising - with a twist

So as you all know, we've been planning TMOART:2012 for several months.

However, our plans keep changing. The biggest change of plans came in the form of my class reunion being cancelled. Yes, cancelled. One of the two major reasons for even doing this trip, gone. *sigh* But, we're not letting it stop us. We're just changing our intended route so that we can do a few more things along the way....or, sort of along the way.

But along with changes of plans comes changes in the budget. I had planned to stay at my parents' house for a few days, but that is not possible for many reasons this time around. So, we're going to camp at a beautiful lake/park about 25 miles away - which adds more money to the budget that we need to make this trip happen. Since the class reunion isn't happening, we might go see some friends who we haven't planned on seeing - so although we can stay with them, it's going to take some extra gas to get there.

Right now, we actually have just over $1100 set aside, and we could probably do the first part of the trip on that amount (I have more money coming in while we're on the road) so I'm not terribly stressed about it right now - except that it seems like more and more expenses keep creeping in to surprise me. I know that we have to get 2 new tires on the van before we go, and there are a few other little odds and ends that need to be done.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to have a little online auction with some of the stuff that I've made. I'm going to start out today with 3 quilts that I have that are completed, and I might add more items along the way. The auction is going to be on my facebook page - if you don't have a facebook account, you can contact me directly to place a bid (and you can do that by emailing me at non-stopmom@hotmail.com) - but you should still be able to see the pictures even if you're not on facebook.

I will be posting the pictures of the quilts (and anything else that I add to the auction) in a separate album - I haven't gotten that far yet today, but I hope to do that sometime tonight, or tomorrow morning at the latest. So keep your eye out and see if there's something that you like!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Long day

So I spent the day helping my friend pack up all of her belongings so that she could move on to bigger and better things. It was a long day - I forgot that she lived in a second floor apartment, so at this point, my entire body hurts from running up and down the stairs. But, we got it all loaded up, and got her car on the trailer so that I could send her on her way again. *sniff*

We had to keep moving faster and faster as the day progressed because there was some nasty weather rolling in to the area. And of course, it started to pour down rain just as we started loading the car onto the trailer. At least we're not girly-girls, or it wouldn't have gotten done.

Wait....this is supposed to attach to what???

I got out of there about 5 minutes before the hail hit, and managed to avoid any severe weather until we got back to The Dude's house. At that point, the wind and rain started. But, we were hungry, so we took his mom and went out to eat. The storm was pretty bad - there were downed branches everywhere and trash cans littering the streets but we got there, ate, and went back to his house - and then found out that there was actually a funnel cloud about a mile from us as we were going into the restaurant. And we didn't see it. But, in our defense, we were hungry.

And now....I'm exhausted. My futon is screaming my name.

Got wood?

Sorry. I could't resist that one! *snicker*

Anyway, the boys and I got up early this morning to prepare for my friend to arrive at 8am with his chainsaw. He cut, I stacked, we raked, and we were done in about 2-3 hours.

First, some pictures from yesterday ...

And then what we accomplished today ....

All in all, not a bad haul for a couple of days of hard work - we have enough firewood to last us for a while, so now we just have to find the time to go camping and use some of it! I still have to get rid of the big brush pile, but that will take a while. I have to cut it up and bundle it, and the city will take it with the trash collection. I'm not too worried about it at this point, other than the fact that it's really ugly. I'll start working on that in my spare time over the next few days. Ha.

So tomorrow's plan is to go help a friend pack up her belongings to move, and then hopefully get some pictures of my finished quilts that I'm hoping to sell before our road trip. We need a little bit more money before we go, so I'm thinking that getting rid of those would be a good place to start - maybe I'll get at least enough money to get the new tires that we need to get before we go. Too many details going through my mind right now....ugh.

But for now, I'm going to go try to get some sleep - tomorrow is going to be (yet another) long day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Taking a step forward

So, as I talked about yesterday, The Dude and I are *thinking* about moving in together. It's still a new-ish idea for both of us, but we've talked about it a lot over the past few months - just not as seriously as we are now. There are so many reasons why we should (and I'm not going to go into a lot of those for personal reasons) but we really haven't come up with any reasons why we shouldn't.

While I was playing around online last night, I decided out of curiosity to look and see if there were any houses for rent that would suit us in the town that we want to eventually move to. While I was scrolling through some listings, I stumbled upon an image that I immediately recognized.

There's this house - I was in it years ago (probably 10 or more years, honestly) and I loved it then. I've driven past it a million times since, and I still love the house.

And it's for sale.

I clicked on the listing and started reading the description. Four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, fully remodeled, 2 car garage, huge corner lot, new roof, new this, new that, and a small one bedroom with one bathroom house on the same property. I looked at the price and thought "huh. I wonder....."

After I picked my jaw up off of my desk, I sent the link to The Dude, who had already gone to bed. He got up sometime later and shot me a message.

"well, should we look into this, it's exactly what we're talking about."

So we drove out there today, just to take a look. He loved it from the outside as much as I did. So, we called the number on the sign. The owner answered, and said that he could be there in 30 minutes to show us the inside.

Why not?

We took the boys to a local park and played around for a while until he got there with his wife, and we went inside. The house is amazing. They have done a ton of work remodeling it, and it's really close to perfect for us. The only real downfall that I saw immediately is that one of the upstairs bedrooms doesn't have a closet - but there's enough room that we could put an armoire or a wardrobe or something in there for whichever kid landed in that room if we were to get the house. We looked at the little house too (someone's living there at the moment) and it was just absolutely adorable, and would be a perfect place for The Dude's mother to live.

So....we took a step. We looked. We liked. We went back to the hospital and showed The Dude's mom the pictures that we had taken and talked to her about it. We know that realistically, financing is going to be an issue - we don't have stellar credit, but our current income is good.

At this point, we're looking at it like this: we're going to look into the financing and see what we can get, if anything. If we can get it, we get it. If we don't, we're no worse off than where we are right now and we maintain status quo. I just can't help but think that there's a reason why I stumbled on to this particular house right at this moment in time - it could be a fluke, it could be coincidence, or it could be some kind of a sign. Who knows? We figure if we don't get this house, we'll keep looking - the right house is out there somewhere, and if we don't find it right away, we'll be ok. We're not going to find a house for the sake of finding a house, and we're not going to settle for something that isn't perfect for us - so when the time is right, the right house will appear and we will get it. It could happen really fast - or it might not.

Oh - and just to add to all of the perks of this house - it's about 4 blocks from where the kids would go to school, and (this could be good or bad) it's about 4 blocks from Ex1's house - so the older three kids could realistically just run back and forth between houses with a bit more freedom, rather than being (what they perceive as) "stuck" at one house or the other.

So....we'll see. No decisions have been made yet. We're ok with whatever direction this happens to take. One day, one step at a time.

We'll see what happens.


Here, for your enjoyment...some pictures from our outing at the park while we were waiting to go look at the house.

Perhaps the least flattering picture of me ever posted...

Saturday, May 26, 2012


A few months ago, I did a post on what I call "processing". Go back and read that post for the full explanation. Basically it's this whole working-through-things-in-my-head thing that I do - sometimes for just a brief moment, sometimes for days or weeks.

I'm in the middle of processing some really big stuff right now.

When The Dude and I started dating, I didn't allow myself to see it as something that would be long-term. Not that I didn't like him, because I did immediately - but because the thought of being in a relationship again was too scary. I wasn't going to open myself up like that again.

But as time went on and our relationship grew, I realized that we had something special. It sounds old and cliched, but it's true. The more we talked, and the more we got to know each other, the more we fell for each other. And even now, just over 6 months later, we are still growing as a couple. We have gone through some pretty rough stuff and it has done nothing but make our bond even stronger.

We have talked about our future - a lot. Minus the whole marriage business, because we all know that I'm never taking that step again. Yes, we joke about it, but at this point it's just not something that I even want to think about for a myriad of reasons. I don't need a piece of paper to prove that I love someone, and neither does he. We have talked about moving in together in about a year, which is when I plan to move to the town where my older 3 kids go to school so that all of my kids can go to the same school.

But now, we're talking about maybe speeding up that process a bit for a lot of reasons. Of course the main reason is because we want to be together, but there are other reasons as well. It makes sense in a lot of ways. But it almost makes too much sense to me, and I'm trying to find reasons why we shouldn't do it.

And I can't find any legitimate reasons.

And it all kind of comes back to this post - the whole "I said I would never do this again, yet here I am" scenario.

I said I would never even date again, and I started dating.
But, not a relationship - I won't do that again. Oops.
OK, maybe a relationship, but not a serious one. Well, screwed that up too.
A serious relationship is ok, but I won't fall in love. DAMMIT!
So being in love is cool and all, but that's it. No more. Hey, think we should move in together?

So yeah. We're talking about it. We're looking at options. I'm not saying that it's going to happen immediately, because there are A LOT of things to consider - not the least of which are the 5 little munchkins that run around this house on a daily basis. We have a lot of things to work out, and of course, finding a place that would be big enough for all of us that we could afford, whether we rent or buy... and we have a lot of things to discuss and a lot of details to think about and a lot of processing for me to... well, process.

But, it could happen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cutting wood.....

As I mentioned yesterday, we had some wood in the back yard that needed to be cut up today. The kids and I went out and started working on it this morning, and worked through most of the afternoon.

I have to say - the girls busted their butts out there. I don't know that I've ever seen them work so hard on anything before this. The boys alternated between "helping" and playing, but for the most part stayed out of the way and out of trouble. We got a ton of stuff done, but there is still so much more to do. We really need to get our hands on a chainsaw to get it done, but as long as we can get the massive piles out of the way, I'll be happy.

Needless to say, we'll have camping firewood for a very long, long time.

This pile is mostly going to be bundled up and put out for the city to take.

Look! Clear spot!

The older 3 kids left tonight to go on vacation with their dad, so they won't be back here for about a week and a half....which kind of stinks, but since I'm taking them for 2 weeks the end of June, it all evens out in the end.

Tomorrow's plan is to clean up around here some, and then go over to The Dude's house to help him do some cleaning. His mom is in the hospital so we're going to get some things around the house taken care of before she gets home - so it's going to be yet another busy weekend for us. All I know is that I am avoiding my backyard for tomorrow - I have a feeling that my muscles are going to make that a necessity.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Dude's birthday and some minor tree trimming

It's been a good - but long - couple of days.

Yesterday was The Dude's birthday. We didn't have anything major planned, so he started the day off right - by taking a nap.

I spent most of the day preparing for dinner. He wanted homemade onion rings (*barf*) and cheesesteaks. So Daniel and I ran to the grocery store to get what we needed and then I started working on it. I really should have gotten pictures of the food, because it did come out really good - at least he told me that the onion rings were good - I didn't eat them. After supper we had the obligatory cake and ice cream - which I will admit was good!

The Dude's mother was trying to take his food....I think.

Anyway, we had a great day, but by the end of it, we were both beat. Our backs hurt and we were miserable. So we actually called it a night fairly early and he went home to get some rest.

Today was Alex's last day of school, so I had to get up early to get him there. Then Sarah had basketball practice so we had to run there. Then we ran all over the countryside to find her a new pair of sneakers, ate some lunch in between there, and then came back home.

Shortly after we got home, I heard a strange noise outside and saw movement out of the corner of my eye. The landlord was here with Maintenance Dude, and they had a gigantic lift and were going to trim some trees that were overhanging the house. I mentioned to the landlord that there was a lot of dead stuff in the trees out back, and "you know, since he's here with the lift anyway, maybe Maintenance Dude can take some of that dead stuff down too?" I showed the landlord exactly what I was talking about - the trees out back were a mess and have been ever since we moved into this house. He agreed with me and asked me if I'd be willing to get rid of the branches if Maintenance Dude cut them - I instantly jumped at the deal. It's worth my work getting rid of the branches if it means that all of that dead crap will stop falling out of the trees every time the wind blows.

So, my "project" for the next few days that I referred to on my facebook page is going to be cutting up all of the branches - which will become our summer's supply of firewood for camping at the lake!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chaos, panic, and disorder. Or "just another day".

The day started out great. Daniel and I walked Alex to school, and found this little gem once we got there...

Then we came back home and puttered around a bit. I walked back outside to check the size of the tires on the van, and heard a weird noise from above my head. When I looked up, I discovered that the ceiling of my porch started to come down - and apparently something has been living up there. That resulted in a call to the landlord, who jokingly informed me that whatever was living up there probably wasn't eating much, but he'd send someone out tomorrow to look at that (and the ever-leaking bathtub).

Gotta' love my ghetto-esque house...

Then, because I don't have enough kids already, I watched one of my friend's kids for the day. I love these kids - I used to watch them regularly when I did daycare but I haven't seen them for quite a while, so we had a blast! We picked Alex up from school, went to a park, got pizza, came home and ate, then played outside for a couple of hours.

Of course, in between all of this, I was making phone calls to get prices on tires (found some inexpensive ones too!), confirm the outrageous price (to me, anyway) to camp out while we're in Pennsylvania, and take care of some other stuff. And then I also got the news that my class reunion - you know, one of the two reasons for the road trip - has most likely been cancelled. So that's going to end up drastically changing our plans. I mean, we're still going - we still have the family reunion - but now any semblance of an itinerary that we had has been totally messed up at this point.

So, now it's back to the drawing board. Again.

I feel another list coming....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Head. spinning.

I have been trying to get things done around the house today. I know, that's not a big surprise. But as I was running around doing stuff, I kept thinking about other things that I need to do. Some of them are no-brainers - you know, the usual work-on-the-laundry, do-the-dishes, pick-up-the-toys type stuff.

But, as TMOART:2012 quickly approaches, I realize that I have so. much. to. do.

By this time last year, I had everything planned. I knew where we were staying, I knew the routes we were taking, and I knew how much everything was going to cost.

This year has been a bit different. Plans aren't set in stone yet, we don't know where we're staying for half of this trip (more than half actually), and we keep finding things that are going to cost us more than what we had originally thought.

It doesn't really help that I have to put two new tires on the van before we go anywhere.

And I have another fundraiser walk/run coming up THIS SATURDAY that I totally forgot about until tonight. And there's another run that I have to get registered for before they stop accepting registrations.

And the kids are all out of school after this week, which will both add to and cut down on the chaos.


So I did what I do best. I started a list. Granted, I've already crossed off a bunch of stuff and I've added twice as much to it since I took the picture - but just having the preliminary list made has already helped to calm my nerves a bit.

At least it calms me down until I add more to it - but this is going to be one of those constantly-evolving lists - and until we actually pull out of the driveway to leave for the road trip, it's going to continue to change.

I will definitely feel better once we have the itinerary set - then we can figure everything else out after that. This trip is definitely going to be different from the previous versions - instead of staying AT my parents' house for a few days, we're looking for a place to go camping nearby. There are a lot of reasons why we are looking to do this, but even just trying to figure out something as simple as WHERE to camp isn't easy. Plus we have to find someone to watch the kids for a few hours while we attend my class reunion. Urgh.

But I know that regardless of what we decide, it's going to be a great trip - we know we are going to end up in Pennsylvania (that's kind of the point of the trip) but we also might end up as far south as South Carolina - but none of that has been decided yet.

Hopefully - within the week - we'll have the itinerary set. Then my OCD-planning can kick in and we can get all of the details planned! And then I'll feel like I can maybe relax just a little bit.....

Saturday, May 19, 2012

An afternoon at the lake

Since I only have Daniel and Alex today, The Dude and I decided to take them to the lake for a few hours. Although they were super excited to go, we were a little hesitant because it was so incredibly windy. But, we went. I actually got a little farther into the water this time - almost to my shoulders even! But it was so cold that I just couldn't take it. Yes, I'm a wimp when it comes to that, and I freely admit it.

Luckily, The Dude was able to tough it out and so he played in the water with the boys for a while. We forgot to take their lifejackets (oops) so we had to be even more cautious than usual but they still had a ball!

Daniel did get tired before Alex (no surprise there) and came up and hung out on the blanket with me for a while - and almost fell asleep. Alex stayed in the water and played with The Dude until they were both worn out.

And a couple of videos. I know the quality sucks - I need to play around with the camera and see if there's a way to correct that. But even if you can't see much, you can at least hear the wind.

It really was a good day. The Dude and I got some time to just sit and talk while the boys played in the sand, and we had a great time just hanging out with each other. I'm really looking forward to the kids getting out of school for the summer so that we can go to the lake (and go camping) more.

But for now, I'm going to try to get a little bit of cleaning done - the house isn't too disgusting right now, and I'd kind of like to keep it that way!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A carnival and some concerts

Today was pretty uneventful - during the day.

Then all you-know-what broke loose at about 4pm when all of the kids finally got home from school. We ate a quick supper (leftovers and whatever could be scrounged up) and then ran over to The Dude's house to pick him up to take him to a carnival at Daniel's preschool. They do this carnival at the end of each school year - the kids get to play games and get prizes, and they have lots of fun to wrap up the year. It didn't seem too terribly hot outside until we were standing in the middle of the parking lot under the sun - and then it got a bit warm.

What a stud!

We only stuck around the carnival for a little bit, and then we dropped The Dude back off at his house and went tearing out to the girls' school for their band and choir concerts. I promised the boys that if they behaved the whole time, we would get ice cream on the way home - and it worked. They got a little fired up by the end, but even *I* can only sit in one place on wooden bleachers for so long. The girls did a great job, and there was a definite overall improvement since the last set of concerts!

And who wouldn't love being in band with a director like this???

So after we got done with the concerts, we came back to town, I stopped and grabbed some ice cream, and we came home. The kids had some ice cream and went to bed, so hopefully it won't be too hard to get them up in the morning. I am so ready for summer break, if for no other reason than the fact that I might get to sleep in - you know, until about 7am for a change.