Daily Life

No Place Like Home

The weekend was long and finally over. It was a good weekend. I was at my parents house and I was with my kids but Alex was home and I was not. I love my parents and I am incredibly grateful for all their kindness and hospitality. I’m just a homebody though and like to be home. And I am super glad to be back home with my husband. And not just for help with diaper duty, though there is that.

Monday was my niece’s birthday and my sister had rented an 18 foot blow-up bouncy water slide. It was so high. I had an excuse not to participate, thank goodness, because I am so afraid of heights sometimes. My oldest five kids are not afraid and they were climbing up and sliding down for hours. I don’t know how they could walk after that. Maybe today they will be sore. It was probably the most fun birthday party I’ve ever been to. The kids played with their cousins all week and the party was a good way to end our stay.

We drove home that afternoon and got there right on schedule. Yes, I had a schedule I made and kept. We had to go pick up our fair entries and premiums. Once the kids saw that they were excited to have more entries next year. I was excited just for the ribbons. It was a fun experience.

Once all that kerfuffle died down I got down to business and assembled the IKEA furniture I had been pining after for ages. Last time I’d done the assembly I had to basically assemble everything twice or more times. I remembered that and this time I only did it once! Yay! I still have a couple more things to put together and then to the task of putting everything away. Like there isn’t enough to do. I have a bunch of errands to run on top of meal planning and grocery shopping.

Covid hit my county this past weekend. I’m wondering where it came from. I’m also wondering how it will effect the school year. The school board already pushed the start date back two weeks to implement teacher training on a new platform. I have six kids in school this year and the circus that is distance/ online learning is not something I look forward to. So much uncertainty. This year has been a tough one. I know there are tons of people who will be glad to see it go. I guess we just make the best of it all and do the best we can. There isn’t much else we can do.

Daily Life

Summer “Camp” and County Fairs

This summer has been busy. And weird. I don’t need to explain that part. Everyone’s summer is weird this year.

On Sunday I took my kids to my parents’ house. It is kind of an annual tradition that they spend a week there every summer. I am sure it wears my parents out but they get to know their grandchildren better. We only live a couple hours away but we only see eachother a couple times a year. It would be nice to live closer but it is what it is. Maybe we’ll move someday.

While the kids have been having summer camp at the grandparents- swimming, doing crafts and playing with cousins- Evangeline (who is too young to go away for that long) and I have been keeping busy. The morning after the kids had gone I looked at the house and saw what a disaster it was. Such a big disaster. I’ve been chipping away at the mess for hours each day and I am almost done with the laundry. Hahaha. But the silver lining is that the vacuum lines stayed on the carpet for a couple days. That has never happened.

The day before I dropped the kids off we all gathered our projects and took them to the county fair. As I mentioned before, the house was a disaster and Gideon couldn’t find his painting. He grabbed a piece of paper and on the way drew a picture and we turned that in. It was pretty good. Alex and I have spent the last three nights going over to the fair and checking out all the entries. It is a small county fair and everyone gets a ribbon. It is so fun to see all the projects and art. This year was the second time that I had entered anything in and it was a good year. But what Alex and I are pretty proud of is our cabbages.

This year we planted a lot of cabbages. Two rows because we eat a lot of cabbage. It is so good! This year a few of our cabbages took off. They were giant. (We think the chicken poop fertilizer did the trick.) I measured the vegetables and we had three that were 28 inches around. We needed to turn in two

The ones on the right are your regular size cabbage. Good stuff. I just thought I’d show the comparison. A big one feeds my family for two or three meals.

I am just a bit excited because we won the grand prize!

I was really excited for the kids, too. They all won ribbons and Michael placed second in his category and Lauren got first in hers.

It has been a fun experience and I think the kids will probably put more effort and time into more projects this coming year for the next fair since there are no limits to how many entries one can do.

This morning before wrote this I realize that school is on the horizon and I am not ready! All my Arizona friends started this week online and it made me realize I need to get with it.

But I’ll leave that for another day. It is still summer here and I want to enjoy it.

Daily Life, Remodel

Under-Construction

Pretty much all I have been doing every day is demolition. So much work! I keep going all day. And just when I think I can take a break I get a phone call. The window company wants to know if they can install the windows the next morning. Of course. Wait! I’m not ready for this yet! I figured I’d have a weeks notice not a few hours. I called Alex to tell him the news and then I got to work.

Armed with wasp killer spray and a crowbar I ventured out to dismantle the facade on the front of my house so we could remove the windows. My neighbor was watching, of course, but so were all the construction workers that were replacing the gas line on my street. My neighbor tells it that he saw me slightly lifting one board and spraying some wasps. He thought I was just out there to kill the bugs. The the next time he looked out his window he saw I had ripped off a bunch of the house. Kind of a bit much. I am great at tearing out the old. Putting up the new? Not so much. But I really have to because as nice as the new windows are, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the house looks awful.

The problem is that a lot of it got destroyed in demo and taken to the dump so I can’t put the old stuff back on. It is a veritable can of worms that I have opened. Not sure how to put it all back together. Well, I have an idea but executing it might be a little bit of an issue. I guess I haven’t learned to have a back up plan yet. Pretty sure I should because renovations always have unexpected setbacks.

I will say this for the new windows and door- Awesome! The yellow 70’s glass is gone and there is so much more light and view. I walk into the room and because there is so much light I think the door is open. It isn’t. It is just new windows that let in so much more light. I love it. The kids say they miss the yellow windows. Really kids? They’ll get used to it quickly. They have no choice because I am not switching back.

Now that the windows are done I think it is on to the electric. If I can get that squared away quickly then I can get the drywall back up on the walls and back to a sense of normalcy. Wish me luck.

Daily Life

Weekend fun and Future Planning

Wow! I haven’t written in ages! Summer has been so busy and yet it hasn’t. We don’t go anywhere. Okay, not many places.This weekend Alex’s family (half of them) got together. We sat outside and ate and visited. The kids all ran around like crazy for hours. I’m glad they have opportunities to get to know their cousins. Michael and Benjamin stayed home due to having a cold. Yes, just a cold. It is still possible to have just a cold.Saturday morning I got up and did my usual workout and then since I was already sweating I went out to weed the garden. So many weeds. Gardens are so much work. As soon as I got a blister on my palm I called it quits. Luckily I had finished 85% of it. I had Alex come and do the last row. We got two wheelbarrows full of weeds. It looks so much better now.Once that was all done my sister and parents arrived. They had some business nearby and so we had some fun planned while they were here. We all piled into the van and went to the river. Luckily the last person who stayed overnight at our usual spot was just pulling away. We set up some shade and chairs and enjoyed the view while the kids and Alex played in the river.I got in the river right at the end and it was fun. I wasn’t out very long but I guess since I have kept out of the sun for the most part this year the one time I am out I get burned. Fifteen minutes is all it took.As soon as we got home from the river the kids jumped into the pool. Of course. What else would one do? They said they were glad we have the pool. They mentioned how a couple years ago I gave them an option: home pool or community pool pass. The home pool was cheaper and they chose that. I’m glad. It is easier to just go out back and swim than it is to pack everyone and everything up to go to the pool.I know you are wondering how the house project is going. It is still just a waiting game. I did go through some things to move to the basement and I have a pile of stuff for a yard sale and to donate to charity. The pile gets larger and larger (but not huge). I have baby stuff that I don’t need anymore and that is a sad thing. But a good thing at the same time. Babies are beautiful and cute and adorable. Babies are also so much work and I’ve been doing that work for over 15 years. It is a happy/sad transition. But I’ll just enjoy every stage and hold on to the memories but not the stuff.Alex said I should start tearing things apart. I would rather wait until I have all the contractors lined up and materials bought. I don’t want to live in limbo any longer than I have to.So a curious thing has happened this summer season so far. Our neighbors are dying. Yeah. It is a sad fact that when you move into a neighborhood where a lot of the inhabitants moved in 40 plus years ago that they will have aged. They were all really good people and good friendly neighbors and now they are gone. Three of them have passed away and their families fixed up the houses quickly and now they are all for sale. Plus two other families are moving out. We will have five new families moving in. I told the kids to pray for new friends to move in. All the kids friends are on the other side of town. Some new ones closer would be nice. I told Alex that the longer we stay here the higher our chances of watching all of our retired neighbors pass on and then we’d be the old people on the street. Isn’t that an interesting thought. It is bound to happen eventually.Life has a way of moving on even if the world is in chaos. I chose to ignore the mess and I’m glad I spent the time with family.

Daily Life

I’m Still Here

So I’ve been MIA for a while. My fun holiday weekend wasn’t all that fun. The appraisers called and where I figured I’d have another week to accomplish my tasks I had the weekend. It was good that it was a long one so Alex and I could both work on the projects and cleaning but that means we didn’t get to have fun. We did finish all the projects on our list though, so yay for that. But that is what procrastination gets you- not enough time to do what you should have done earlier.

The kids were helpful here and there. My 11 year old daughter wanted to help with projects so much. I gave in and let her help me mud and texture a ceiling and she was better at it that my son who was helping. I let her paint some of it too. They all helped clean up the house and yard, as they should and the appraisal hopefully went well.

We did do some fun stuff over the weekend. We had a cookout and ate in the backyard. The kids went swimming even though the water was cold due to the cool week we had last week. I did not participate. I don’t do cold.

Benjamin had shown signs of growing up; he helped around the house without being told. I love when it finally clicks for them. Alex decided to reward him so we took him out to eat and had the chance to talk to him.

Then we went to the local firework stand and spent way too much for what we got. The fireworks were a disappointment. Big time. Evangeline wasn’t scared of them and clapped at every one. We didn’t go see any fireworks show but a lot of the people around town had bought some big ones and we went to the high school football field and watched them go off all over town. It was fun and the kids declared it was the best day ever. I’m glad we’ve set the bar so low. The moon was really full and big and bright which did add to the beauty of the night. The dog hated them all and hid under a bed.

On Sunday we got up early and went to my parents house. My whole family was there and it was so much fun. I wish it wasn’t a five hour drive round trip but it is what it is. We visited and the kids played with their cousins. We are making plans for the kids to stay for a week (or a few days) at Gramma and Grampa’s house. It will be a fun break for all of us. Well, maybe. It will wear out my parents. I’d keep the baby with me though.

Monday morning I got up and had to finish cleaning for the appraisal. I was up at 5:30 because it started at 9:00. Dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, decluttering, etc. I went to the basement when there was fifteen minutes left only to find the two teenagers asleep in their dirty smelly room. I had had the kids sleep outside in the tent so I could make their beds and nor have them in the way but the big boys dis what they want. Fine. I told them to jump up and help me. I went around shoving things. Pile of wet clothes in a couple rooms? Thrown into the washer. Pile of mattress pads and sheets? Thrown in the dryer to jus TV get it out of the way. Then as I was sweeping the basement floor there was a knock on the door. I threw the broom at the boys and told them to finish.

I think it went okay. I got a cleaner house out of the deal and a bunch of needed projects done. Now I can start tearing it all apart. Sheesh. I think I am going to recruit my son’s friends for demo. I figure it could be fun for them and I’ll give them a pizza party at the end. It is a proven fact that teenagers do almost anything for food.

I spent a good chunk of Tuesday researching contractors and subcontractors. I think I’ve decided that I am going to be the general contractor for this and I’ll hire and schedule the subs. It could save me money but could be a pain. I’ll find out. I need to call the window guy and see when those are going to be installed.

Two of Alex’s sisters are here for a couple days so that should be fun for the kids. Elizabeth was so excited because she gets to have her nails painted by her aunt. Fun stuff for a five year old.

It should be another busy day. I’ll get to it and let you do the same.

Daily Life

Plans on Hold

Yesterday morning I was prepping to go camping for the weekend. Yesterday afternoon I got a call that the house appraiser was coming Monday morning.

Plot twist.

Okay, it was all good. Just a slight panic because I was excited to just get away from everything and have fun with my kids. I thought we’d have another week at least to prepare for the appraisal. Nope. Just a long weekend. I changed gears and got to work. I cleaned the boys bathroom (it was so gross and I don’t know why they think it is acceptable) and then I cleaned the little boys bedroom. I moved furniture around because that’s what I do.

The big boys said they cleaned their room. They clearly don’t know the meaning of the word clean. I took everything out of their closet. Random piles of paper and art supplies and just stuff. I took some of it and told them to put away the rest. What do you bet they just shoved it back into the closet willy-nilly?

I moved tables and wardrobes and exercise equipment, beds and piles and piles of laundry. Actually I made the piles and had everyone help. I vacuumed and vacuumed and dusted and then I was pooped. Only to have to get up and start in again.

I planned on painting the stairs this morning but instead I am writing. I don’t want to paint them. They need it but I just would rather fix them right but don’t have the time or materials for it yet.

And the camping trip? We are still having it. In the backyard. Because why not.

Quick funny story. Last night I was tucking the little boys in. They are in the basement and out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow move in the window. I calmed myself thinking it was just our cat, but realized it was huge! A ginormous black head was in the window looking at me. My neighbor’s great dane had gotten out and was looking at me. I was startled but figured out what was going on. I went to put her back in her yard because I knew the neighbors had gone camping. I don’t know how she got out. The fence gates were all zip tied and blocked. It is a mystery. But having a huge black animal blend into the night staring at you through the window is a little disconcerting.

Okay, fine, I’ll get to work. It is going to be a very long day.

Daily Life, Dating My Sweetheart

Saturday Stuff

Alex and I try to make it a point to go on a weekly date now that the kids can all be left at home. For years and years the only date we could manage was a movie for us after the kids were asleep.

Yesterday we told the kids we were going on a date. They cheered. I think they just didn’t want to do anything and if we are gone they can play with wild abandon. Fine.

We always end up running errands on dates (we usually do lunch dates) and this time was no exception. Before the errands we decided to just get Subway sandwiches and as we were walking in to get them three airplanes flew overhead. It looked like they were practicing dogfighting. Alex loves watching that so we thought we’d head over to the airport to watch. We changed our mind and thought maybe we could see them from the park.

We got to the park and there was a lot going on there. A food size crowd of men and boys were gathered to LARP (live action role play). Oh good! Dinner and a show. Haha. Imagine an incredibly cheap version of Medieval Times. Alex and I sat and watched the battle. It looked a little unorganized but they were having such fun. They had their swords, mace, arrows, sticks, and shields. Most weapons made from wood and pool noodles for safety. Some had on kilts, some arrayed in metal armor and some just in tshirts and basketball shorts. They would divide themselves into groups and the battle cry would split the air and they would charge.

I think I’ve watched more fights than they have because I am pretty sure you aren’t supposed to turn your back to your opponent and run. And way to many people were hit in the back. Only a coward would get a man in the back. Luckily though they had a resident magician that could heal all the injured and dead.

Once a warrior’s toddler ran onto the field and the mom had to quickly scoop him up out of harm’s way.

It was fun to watch. I am not into LARPing but I could see how it could be fun. They were enjoying it. Plus we got free entertainment out of the deal. We never heard the planes fly over again so the park turned out to be a better choice than the airport.

When we got home we took the kids to an activity at the park. An ice cream social. They ate their ice cream and played with a few of their friends. (For those worried about covid, we are lucky. There have only been a couple cases in our area and that was months ago.) It was nice to be able to visit and catch up after months of not seeing friends.

When we got home the kids immediately asked to go swimming. The water is still cold but the kids have fun anyways. The weather is taking a cold and wet turn for the next few days so they might as well take advantage of the warm days. A storm system moved in a few hours later and we went to sleep with lightning dancing about and thunder rattling the house. I watching lightning storms so I get disappointed when they happen at night when I’m tired and can’t keep my eyes open enough to watch them.

It was a good fairly productive day. There’s always going to be more work to do. I sat on the front steps after the swimming and was holding Evangeline when Noah came up and asked what I was doing. I said I was just enjoying the day. “Because it is gorgeous outside?” Yes, because it is gorgeous outside. I told him he made it all even better.

Daily Life

How to Make Friends

We actually got out and did something yesterday. There is a park/playground about a half hour away that looked so fun. It is huge and the playground equipment was massive. I haven’t seen playground equipment that tall since the 80’s. These toys let the kids climb over two stories high. Possibly three. I stayed on the far side of the park in the shade talking with my sister-in-law and just let the kids play. I’m glad I did because thinking about it now I probably would have panicked the whole time if I had been paying attention. I just let them be the wild monkeys they always want to be.

Alex said he learned something from Elizabeth. Elizabeth got to the park and jumped right in and made a friend. She brought her over to introduce her to the family. Elizabeth told Alex, “You know how you make a friend? You just ask them ‘Are you a friend?’ and then you play.” It works, I guess.

Alex and I tried it last night. We went for a walk around the block and my cat, Piper, followed me. As usual. The next door/across the street neighbor mentioned it as we walked by. Now we have lived in our house almost 8.5 years. We have never talked to the man. Isn’t that awful?! I always felt bad about it but never did anything about it. So last night after our walk and since I’d just pulled a batch of cinnamon rolls out of the oven, we took a couple rolls over and introduced ourselves. He is a nice older guy and he and Alex talked. I didn’t say much and Alex, my sweet perceptive husband who knows me so well knew why. I am partially deaf and I couldn’t hear most of what the man said. It is so frustrating being deaf. It honestly is easier just to stay to myself. But, we followed Elizabeth’s example and made a new friend.

And if you are wondering, there is an update on the house situation: the appraisal is in two weeks. That gives me a timeline to work with but now I am dealing with a deadline. So much to do! And do I schedule the windows to be installed before the appraisal so the house value goes up but we have windows to trim out (more work) or after so we don’t have to do that extra work? Ridiculous choices.

Daily Life

Lazy Summer Day

I was up with the sun this morning. I twiddled around a bit before I finally got up and going. The track team was using the track so I took a turn about town. I weaved up and down streets and ended up on the west side of town. This is where the rabbits live. All the colors. Well, I didn’t see any white ones. Some people’s pets had gotten loose at some point and bred like, well, rabbits. I enjoyed watching them as we walked along. I’m sure they are a pain though. There is a reason Mr. MacGregor was trying to catch Peter Rabbit. Since we have cats now we actually get to eat our strawberries because there are no longer rabbits in our yard eating them first.

I actually planned ahead this morning. When I got home from my walk I made some dough to make pizza for lunch. I didn’t want to hear any food complaints. The kids were confused because I never make pizza for lunch. I ended up having them make it though. Why should I do all the work? They argued about who would do what. Why? Why does it need to be an argument? I gave them each a job and let them loose. It turned out well and they were fed and I didn’t have to do it all. Win-win for everyone.

The kids did something later though that I was not happy with. They went swimming without asking and without me there. That is a big no-no. They had a friend over which for some reason makes them do stuff they wouldn’t normally do. I told them if they do it again I will take the pool down for the year. And I mean it.

I did go out and lie down in the hammock while they swam. I got bored and closed my eyes but I kept an ear open for anything amiss. Kids can’t help themselves, they have to scream while in bodies of water.

When they all got out I did end up falling asleep. Oops! Yesterday I worked all day non-stop and today I had a hard time motivating myself to do anything. Evangeline and Noah joined me in the hammock and they talked and played. Noah said we should go in the house and I told him there was no way I was going inside on a gorgeous day because winter will come and I will be stuck inside. I’m not looking forward to it.

I did discuss meal options for camping with Noah. He’s a fun kid to talk to. He agreed that turkey sandwiches was a good thing. And Nutella. Nutella is always a good idea.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get more done but what good is it to have summer and not enjoy it.

Daily Life

Finally Feels Like Summer

I got a lot done today. A lot of cleaning and laundry and decluttering. Granted a lot of the clutter left the house only to make it to the garage. I’ll get to it eventually. I always do. I got the lawn watered and the last of the flowers planted.

I did not want to exercise this morning. I’d slept in -not on purpose- and felt like I would not get the day accomplished if I took time out to exercise.

Excuses.

I exercised anyways.

And I got so much done. I’m glad I didn’t give in to the excuses.

In working so hard all day by the time four o’clock came around I decided to take a timeout. I sat and watched Noah ride his bike everywhere. Then I decided to join him. I grabbed my scooter and Noah and I rode around the block. Skylar came with us which was a good thing because she needed a run. I enjoyed the time with Noah. He’s a tough kid. He crashed his bike twice, got up, dusted himself off and got back on his bike and kept riding. He did stop once to see if his knee was bleeding. It wasn’t.

Later, after dinner, Alex suggested we go play basketball. I ran with the idea and calmed all the kids and we went to the park. We jumped rope, played on the playground set and played basketball. Evangeline had never seen such a thing. She was running all over with a big smile on her face giggling and clapping the whole time. She loved it. Lauren was shy at first and said she didn’t know how to play. I told her to just get in there and she managed to make a basket on her first try.

Afterwards we were all hot and sweating. The kids all ran home to get into the pool to cool off. I’l never understand why they all have to shout and scream when they are all literally the feet from each other.

It was a good day. It finally feels like summer. We (I) got a lot done and I got to play with my kids. At the end of the day Alex found me sitting in a chair by the raspberry bushes. I was watching all the honey bees busily flying from flower to flower in the setting sun. It might seem a little bit of a crazy thing to do but after a long and full day it was nice to just sit and mindlessly watch the bees.

I’ll leave you tonight with a picture of Luna. She was sleeping so funny that I had to take a picture.