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

I’m Off to the Fair

The County Fair is next week. Ours is pretty small compared to some but it is still the highlight of the season. Even though we rarely enter anything into it we still like to go and see the talents and skills of those who do enter.

This year I was a little more on top of my game. Yes, we should have been working on stuff all year long for this event but at least I warned the kids a few weeks ago that if they had anything they wanted to enter that they better get it ready. Michael has some artwork that he has spent countless hours on. He touched it up and we printed it off. Oh my goodness that kid has got some talent. That and he spends countless hours on it. I used to do the same at his age. So did Alex. That is one thing that we wish we spent more time on is art.

Benjamin had some pictures that he had worked on as well so I printed one off so he can enter as well. I took a pretty cool picture the other day of one of my cats in the strawberry patch and the composition and all that was spot on. Unfortunately I took it with my inferior camera. The pixels are low and it isn’t the best quality. Had I gone for my camera I would have missed the moment. I’ll enter it anyways. No harm in trying.

I got up early this morning to make some sweet rolls to enter as well. I entered them several years ago but I have improved since then and again, why not give it a try. My great grandmother was really in to the fair. She was pretty amazing. After her funeral her kids divided up her fair ribbons. Shoe boxes full of them and a lot of them were Grand Champion and Sweepstakes at the state level. She obviously knew what she was doing. I will probably never get to that level, but I guess I have years ahead to keep trying.

Also this year our garden has been good. My family loves cabbage- even the kids. We planted lots of cabbage this year and three of them are huge. I picked the third largest one for dinner a couple nights ago and it weighed 6 pounds 9 ounces. I only used half of it for dinner and we still had a few leftovers. The others are bigger so I think I will probably enter those two into the fair and see what comes of it.

We are lucky where we are and that our community is so small. We haven’t got Covid-19 in our community and the fair is being conducted as normal. My sister’s fair is bare bones. Her kids have steers they have been raising and all the circus that goes along with steers and the fair has been cut down to just a few quick showings. It is sad how this year has cut out so much fun. We have had fun in others ways, but the normal things we look forward to have changed so drastically or disappeared that it is quite a sad thing to behold. So I am going to enjoy our small little county fair this year.

So wish us luck.

Daily Life

Missing

Last night and this morning were stressful. There is a holiday around here where we celebrate our pioneer heritage and some celebrate with fireworks. I didn’t use fireworks and never saw any but we sure heard them. For over two hours. Boom! Boom! Boom! I am half deaf and didn’t know they were going on until later.

After prayer we sent the kids to bed and the dog wasn’t sleeping where she normally does. We’d left her out back to go do her thing. We looked all over inside the house. Called outside. Walked around the neighborhood. Drove around the neighborhood. She was nowhere to be found. I told the kids she’d probably be home by morning.

I was wrong.

I had gotten up several times in the night to check and see if she was outside the front door. She wasn’t. I prayed and worried myself sick. At just before six as the sun was about to peek over the horizon I got up and dressed and got Michael up and had him come with me to drive around and look for our dog. No sign of her. We figured the fireworks scared her away. We always put her in the house during fireworks. This year all the festivities were canceled due to covid so I didn’t think about it.

When we came home from the first drive of looking I put a notice out on Facebook about what happened and a picture. A friend suggested I call the police. I did. They didn’t have her but would let me know if she was brought in.

I was restless and teary the whole morning. I had done all I could. It was a waiting game now. I sat at the table making rolls and Benjamin came up behind me and gave me a hug. He said it would all be okay and that she would be home soon. It was so sweet of him and I really hoped for the kids’ sake that it was true.

A few hours later a friend commented on my post that a woman on another Facebook page had found my dog. Yes! My stomach had been clenched tight for hours and it finally relaxed. The woman called me and we confirmed that it was indeed Skylar, my dog. I kept crying but this time tears of gratitude and happiness. We went and picked up Skylar. The people who found her said they found her in the back corner of their yard just shaking. She had managed to get herself over a mile away through lots of fields to where she ended up. When we got to her and saw her we were so happy. She jumped in the van right away. The kids were petting her and talking to her. Lauren and I were crying. I think the dog was relieved, too. She doesn’t do well when we’re gone and to be lost probably put her over the edge. She stuck closer to me than usual the rest of the day.

The kids think that I don’t like the dog. I really do and I hope they realize it now. She is with me pretty much all day and though I sometimes need a break, I do care about her.

When we got home we said prayers of gratitude. Gratitude that she was returned to us so quickly. Gratitude that she was alive and unharmed. Gratitude for the help of others in finding her.

I really hope she never goes missing again. She will definitely be inside on all firework holidays and days surrounding them from now on.

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, Remodel

Things are Starting

The last few days I got serious about the house project. All the papers were done and appraisal was good and done so there is only waiting for the bank’s process to get finished.

Since it was inevitable I got a move on and started taking stuff from the upstairs kitchen to the basement kitchenette. Let me tell you, it won’t all fit. When cooking is a big part of my job (as a parent) and baking is a hobby I tend to collect a lot of tools.

Yesterday Alex moved the basement oven up to the garage and the upstairs oven to the basement. The oven we took to the garage was a “vintage” oven from the 70’s. The oven stopped working and finding parts for it is detective work I don’t think is worth it to me. I’ll sell it to someone who wouldn’t mind the work.

When I went to plug the oven in to make rice krispie treats the kids have been begging for I realized that the oven plug didn’t match the outlet. Great. First thing this morning I got the tools out and looked up how to switch the plugs on YouTube. I got it figured out and did it! The stove works!

I also weeded the front flower garden. I needed to fertilize it and I wasn’t about to fertilize the weeds. That is the last thing I need is more weeds. This spring when my tulips came up they were pretty but I didn’t like how they were planted so I dug all the bulbs up this morning so I can replant them this fall in a different arrangement.

Then it was back to the house project. I think moving would be less work. I made lots of trips up and down the stairs and had to find a new home for all the stuff. Alex came home and he was so good and got right to work pulling the cabinets off the upstairs kitchen wall and putting them in the basement kitchen. I was wondering where I was going to put all the stuff because there weren’t any upper cabinets in the basement. Alex saved the day and we reused the old stuff.

I did take a break in the middle of the day. Gideon and Sam had coupons for free sundaes from McDonald’s and we finally went and used them. I needed a few things for the “new” kitchen anyways so we made a quick trip for ice cream cones. It was a fun time with the kids. On the way home Michael and Benjamin spent the entire ride home trying to figure out the chemical sign meant that was on the outside of Walmart. It made me laugh how much they wanted to know and how they went about searching for it on the phone.

I need to finish the kitchen and fridge tomorrow and hopefully move on to the laundry room and bathroom. And I need to see about getting a permit. That is an ordeal I will write about tomorrow. For now I am exhausted and need to get to sleep.

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, 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, 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.