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.

Remodel

Demo Time

This is what we’ve been up to this week. So much work! I spent the week cleaning out all the cupboards and moving back into the basement kitchen and then Friday and Saturday was spent ripping it all apart. The more we tear into the house the more we see how much it needed it. Wood that has seen better days, mismatched paneling, paneling, plastic trim, wood trim, fiberboard trim, moldy subflooring, non-working electrical outlets, burned out outlets, worn out cabinets, mismatched cabinets, and so much more. My son’s friend was over and asked why we were taking it out (before we’d done any demo) and I drew a blank. I couldn’t remember why we were doing this whole thing. Oh yeah, electrical issues. The rest was livable but when some outlets just stopped working we got worried the house would burn down.

As we planned I thought it would be funny to put a plastic skeleton in the walls when we put them back up. I’d leave a note on it but it made me laugh. While we were taking the walls down we actually found skeletons. Mouse skeletons. Lots of them. Ugh. You can guarantee it that I am going to make the walls mouse tight.

Alex and I didn’t do it alone. We gave the kids gloves, chisels, hammers, screwdrivers, and drills and told them to get to work. It was a “fun” family activity. It was good to work together and I hope that they, like me, will be proud of their work and when it is done they can say what parts they did and helped with. Turns out Lauren is lot like me. Give her a task and she will keep going until it is done. Alex had to tell us we needed to stop to go and eat.

I am going to call the electrician on Monday and get the electricity all fixed so the walls can go back up in the next week or so because it is difficult to live in a construction zone with exposed studs, insulation and wiring.

One thing that came to mind as Michael and I were dismantling a 70’s decorative fixture is that trends and decorative fashion doesn’t last forever. It was a big pain to remove. Luckily it was just nailed in (with 100 giant thick decorative nails). I look at the farmhouse shiplap walls that are so in style right now and I cringe. I love the way they look, don’t get me wrong, but I can see how big of a pain it will be to remove years down the road when it is no longer the style and everyone tries to remove the glued on boards. I guess everything is like that. Styles come and go and eventually stuff wears out and needs to be replaced. But I would rather just change paint color and curtains than rip off shiplap and wallpaper. Just sayin’.

We’ll see how long the style I pick holds up.

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, Sunday

Start the Week

Sunday was a good day. Very slow. Rainy.

For the kids singing time at our home church I asked them each what song they would like to sing. Noah said the sun song. I don’t know what that is so he picked another one. Elizabeth said she wanted the raspberry song. Again, I don’t know what that is. Turns out they were going by what they thought the picture was on the songbook page. No raspberries. I told her to go through the book and find it. She came across a page with palm leaves on it. I told her the song was called Hosana. Oh, she said then proceeded to sing, “Hosana ooh na-na.” Um no. That is not how the song in the book goes. I got a chortle out of that and corrected her. The other song says Havana, not Hosana. Hopefully we cleared that up.

Around dinner time I didn’t want to cook. The kids said they wanted donuts. I said if they made them then they could have donuts for dinner. Everyone ran upstairs as fast as they could. I believe they all helped Alex and only one bowl was broken. I found remnants when I cleaned on Monday.

Benjamin wanted to make the frosting/ glaze for the donuts. I told him butter and sugar milk and vanilla. I didn’t specify powdered sugar because I thought it was obvious. It wasn’t to him and the regular sugar didn’t work. After the failed batch he asked what kind of sugar to use. The second batch was good. Alex said he saw him using the wrong sugar but figured it was an easy lesson for Benjamin. Benjamin asked why Alex didn’t stop him. I asked if he would make that mistake again. He said no. Okay, lesson learned. And the donuts were good.

Monday wore me out. With the appraisal looming over my head I need the whole house decluttered and cleaned. I cleaned the whole day. Bedrooms dusted, vacuumed. Bathrooms cleaned. Laundry room cleaned. Laundry washed and put away. Front room cleaned. All the upstairs vacuumed and mopped. The basement cleaned. All the dishes found scattered throughout the house washed. All that’s left is the kids bedrooms and the garage. And the basement bathroom. I don’t want to do that one, it is gross – five boys use it. But I’ll do it anyways. If I could I would ban my kids from the house. I’d set a tent up in the backyard and have them camp out there for an extended period of time to save the house. I won’t but it is a nice thought.

Once the cleaning is “done” (is it ever done?) I need to mud and texture the girls’ bedroom ceiling then paint it and the walls. I haven’t moved the little girls into the room yet because I want to get that done first so I am not dodging furniture when I mud. It is just easier that way.

Last night Alex should have been mudding the drywall on the new closet he build but he spent hours finalizing drafting of the renovation plans. He loves drafting. We made sure the measurements were correct and moved a couple things that we’d wanted to change, added a few more lights, etc. The good thing about being able to redo a house is that we’ve lived here for eight years and know how we’d make the space work better. A good thing about taking our time is we’ve been able to think and rethink what we thought we wanted and try and improve it. Things that have bugged us we can change. Things that we have always wanted we can add. I am looking forward to ripping the whole thing out but not necessarily putting it back together. It will be worth it. I hope.

Alex did stop working on it long enough to join us for scriptures and prayer. It was fun because the story we were on is an exciting one and Michael was practically on the edge of his seat. He loved it and said, “Ammon is awesome!” I have to agree.

Well, I need to start the day. It is the last day of June. I’ve got lots to do including fortifying myself for July because if it follows the first half of the year we need all the help we can get. Can we just pretend that 2020 is over? Just me?

Daily Life, Thoughts

The Days Go By

The day started out okay. Up early and got my walk in. I was thinking about stuff and such, planning things. One thing I was looking forward to just felt wrong. I couldn’t make it feel right even with a bunch of justification. The Spirit was telling me no.

Fine. I gave in, a little petulantly. It threw off my mood and I headed into a bit of depression. It is so silly. I still have a lot of things I need to do today and all I could seem to do was sit there in my doldrums. What I really wanted to do was just go window shopping: Home Depot, Kohl’s, TJMaxx. Not really buy anything. I think I need a change of scene. It is one of the drawbacks of country living- everything is a drive away. I saw a meme that said, “Now I understand why Laura Ingalls was so excited to go to town with Pa.” For real.

The gas line in my neighborhood is being replaced/repaired and they had to dig up the road. It was fun to watch. The little kids and I sat on the front steps eating popsicles and watching the trucks and tractors and such do their thing. It was nerve wracking as well because trying to keep the kids from getting in the way was not something I thought id have to do. Sit on the steps, stay out of the way. Not hard, right? Wrong. Eventually the hubbub had moved down the street a ways and I was able to convince the kids to come in so they wouldn’t be run over or sunburned.

Michael asked for $10 to go out with his friends on Friday. I told him he could earn it. He reluctantly agreed. He went and got the pickax as instructed and I had him tear up a section of the yard that was very uneven, choked with weeds and very ugly. He did a good half an hour before blisters started to form and his back started hurting. Hard to go from video games building virtual worlds to building stuff in reality. He said he’d finish the next day. He’ll use gloves this time and work on his form. The plan is to pull the weeds now that the dirt is turned over and then sift out the rocks, level it and plant grass. There are two more spots of similar size I have plans to do the same thing to.

While Michael was digging I was weeding in the garden. I pulled a bunch of morning glory out of the strawberry patch and discovered a sprout of peppermint plant. I had dug the main plant out years ago and put it out front. This straggler had survived. I carefully dug it out and put it in a pot. My friend had said she wanted a peppermint plant last year. So I saved it for her and asked if she wanted some strawberry and raspberry plants. They all grow like weeds sending shoots and runners all over. Raspberries are coming up in the middle of my yard and the strawberries are in the walkway. My friend and her husband came over last night and we dug up all the rogue plants and they took them home. It’s a good cycle. I got berry starts from one friend and passed some on to another.

After a late dinner (we had to visit with our friends for awhile) I made the kids clean the house. Yes, it was late. Did I care? Nope. If they are going to sit all day then they can work at night.

I was telling Alex that I am doing this parenting thing- I was going to say wrong, but that’s not true, more like not how I want to. I want a certain outcome but the things I am doing aren’t going to get me to that goal. Know what I mean? I don’t think a clean house is the be all end all but i focus on it because it is tied in with work and responsibility (and I can’t think in a messy house). I told the boys that it seemed to me that life was the opposite of what you would think: the harder you work the easier life is not the opposite which is the less you work the easier it is. I don’t think they believe me. Who wants to work harder?

So I am trying to find a balance. I have never been very disciplined or consistent and that has been a problem. In fact it is the problem. I’m working on getting better at saying no and having the kids get work done first then play later but it is an uphill battle. But I can always try again tomorrow. Though the tomorrows are running out. My oldest has only 4 more years at home then they all start leaving. Have I taught them enough? Will they do okay? Will they succeed? This parenting thing- tough.

Well, I guess I better stop writing about it for now and get up and do something about it.

Daily Life

Off Day

The day started out meh. It was cold and windy and possibly rain. I wasn’t in the mood. I did my usual at home workout anyways while the kids slept around their blanket fort. Yes, around, not in.

My plan was to just clean today. So fun, I know. I got one room emptied and vacuumed and them cleaned out the heating vent. Then I cleaned all the vents and washed their covers. I found out why my room wasn’t as warm as it should be. Some kid had shoved a giant wad of toilet paper into the vent. No freaking wonder it wasn’t working right. What would possess them? It was back in there so it wasn’t easily seen and it is quite creepy to shove one’s hand into a vent. I’ve taken my phone and put it in the vent to take a picture prior to sticking my hand in vents before. I just went for it this time. Luckily I lived through it and found about $.40 in odd change. Payment for my work. I’m highly skilled and invaluable, I know, hahaha.

The rest of the day was just off. I was dropping things all day, missing when I threw stuff into the garbage, sucking up aliens that messed up my vacuum. It’s true. Little boys and their little junk toys all over the place. And don’t vacuum up raisins because it might clog the vacuum and you’ll have to take the vacuum apart and untangle raisin coated hair off the beater bar. Yes, that’s the kind of day I had.

Alex came home and it looked like I’d done nothing. It was depressing.

After dinner Alex did do something and it stayed done. Lucky him. I helped him drywall the new closet in the downstairs bedroom that now hopefully counts as a bedroom. Alex told the kids to figure out who gets the room. I told him I’d rather have it be a guest room so when family comes to visit they don’t have to sleep in the family room on couches. I have a feeling I won’t get my way.

I did get the little boys room cleaned and vacuumed and rearranged. Now to decorate it and have them keep it clean. They said they would keep it clean forever. Hmmm.

I guess this post is a little down but we’re allowed to have a down day every once in awhile. I’d rather it not be that way but what can you do?

Tomorrow should be better. Sam got a coupon for a dvd rental so it should be something to look forward to tomorrow.

Daily Life

Power Outage

I sat in the basement listening to my oldest son try to play catch up with his band homework from the last two months. Hard lesson to learn. But it is something that I have been learning. Keeping up is easier than catching up and life is really just work. The piper will be paid at some point.

I was weeding the other night and i was thinking that life is work. You can’t really cheat. You can’t really take the easy way because you miss out when you go that route. You really just cheat yourself.

The boys got all their work done and passed their classes. One subject with one child left.

Wednesday morning I got up and the forecast was raining. It wasn’t dumping rain, it is Idaho and it never really does and only for a few minutes. It was dry enough so I was up and at ’em. It started to sprinkle as I walked and the sun peeked through the clouds. A rainbow before 7 a.m. it was a good start to the day.

I thought my washer was level but it wasn’t. One sure way to ruin a washing machine is for it to not be level. Ugh. I had Alex help me before he left for work. The front couldn’t go any different so I had to fix the back. Alex had to go and I was left to figure it out. I pulled the washer out and found out that the rear legs are stationary. I had to problem solve. This all happened before my walk. I needed the walk for time to figure this problem out.

This is what the floor looked like under the washer. Its messed up, right?! (Sorry for the blurry picture.)

I did my workout and then got on my knees and prayed for help to know the best way to fix the problem. I figured that since I am going to be gutting the whole thing anyways I might as well start by ripping out the section under the washer. The exact tools came to mind and how to do the whole thing. I got up and went to the garage to look for the crowbar. The tools are usually not where they should be. I looked for a minute and then called Alex. Before he could answer I saw the crowbar across the garage. It took me maybe 15 minutes to get the floor out and the thing leveled. Talk about prayers answered. I have about 10 more loads of laundry to do so I am glad it didn’t take long to fix.

The gas lines are being replaced or fixed or something in my neighborhood and so there has been construction going on. All day it was rumbling and loud truck and backhoe noise. It will continue as they do the road in front of our house. They were working on the side one first.

It was a chilly rainy day. I’m not a fan of the cold but it was pretty.

While I was putting the little kids down for a nap the power went out. I found out because the kids emerged out of the basement. Cloudy rainy days make the basement really dark with no power. The power was scheduled to come on at 5. Okay, 2 more hours to go. The kids were bored because it was cold and rainy so they were stuck inside. I said cleaning is a good cure but they wanted nothing to do with that. I cleaned the best I could without power. Washed dishes by hand, washed some walls, cleaned up the “classroom” since we didn’t need it for at least 3 more months, cleaned the little boys cave dump bedroom, and then we went to the store to find food for dinner and to get out of the house. Taco salad was on the menu.

We got home and I checked the power status. Not scheduled to come on until 8. What?! Ugh. Fine. Alex said to ser up the gas camping stove to cook the meat. I did. He cooked the beef in the garage when he got home. We ate and then had ice cream cones. I looked at the status again. No power until 10 p.m. No!!! My phone was dead, all the flashlights are in the 72-hour kits and I wasn’t willing to drag them out. So we read scriptures in the fading light, the kids built a blanket fort and we all went to bed with the sun. I got 9 hours of sleep. It was wonderful. In total the power was out for over 8 hours.

It was comical yet sad that the kids were so bored. I had to explain that electricity is a very modern invention and that people before it managed to survive. I am not bothered too much when the power goes out. Just an inconvenience. I am glad for it sometimes because gives us a chance to see where we could improve. I do love having electricity though. It makes everything so much easier.

So that was the last couple days. Power is back on and I have the laundry from yesterday to catch up on as well as a huge stack of dishes. Schoolwork and who knows what else awaits me today.

Daily Life

Another Monday

The house was a mess when I got up Monday morning. I got my routine done (workouts, scriptures, get ready for the day and planning). I decided that since we are in the last leg of the school year that the house would have to wait. I’ll have all summer to get to it. School has a deadline. I have two kids done. Three to go. I spent hours sitting and watching history videos with Lauren. It was good and I learned some stuff.

What bugs me a ton and it has since I was in school is that every (U.S.) history class I have taken since kindergarten always starts with Columbus and slowly meanders through time until the last month of school it seems we rush through the last 300 years barely glimpsing at any of it. I remember in my senior year we each got a decade. I actually got a decade in the 1700s and was supposed to look up the fashion of the time. Really? As I was watching the videos today it was amazing how history is repeating itself today! Everyone assumes this is a unique time. Um, not really. This all happened 100 years ago- at least in this country. The names have been changed but the story is the same.

After school work and dinner the kids and Alex were watching a movie. I just couldn’t. I went outside to enjoy the warm evening and decided to weed the side flowerbed. It took probably an hour but now I can fill it with flowers. It already has delphinium, a rose bush, a random lily, dianthus and raspberries popping up all over it. I will dig out the raspberries and either replant them in my yard or I’ll give them to my friend.

This year I’ve done a lot of get down on the ground weeding. I’ve come to the conclusion that I enjoy it. It is oddly relaxing. Yardwork in general is hard work but there really is such a satisfaction in getting it done. But my arms do itch from leaning in the grass. The cats kept me company and were quite entertaining. They were practicing catching stuff. Rocks, dirt, grass, each other. I was amused. I think I will have cats from now on.

Morning comes fast so I’ll leave you here.