Daily Life, Remodel


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.


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, 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

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.

Daily Life


A business on Facebook was doing a giveaway and asked the question what is you least favorite thing to clean. I had to think hard. I do like to clean. Honestly. I love seeing things go from dusty to shiny. I have collected hints and tried tricks and all that in an effort to do it better and faster. I did decide on bathrooms though. I think it is the awkwardness of the space. And having boys. That’s just gross sometimes.

I found this Instagrammer the other day who cleans for a living. (I would consider doing that in the future when my kids are all in school.) She has tutorials and the like and I love watching the cleaning videos. I learned a ton. If you are interested look her up. She’s on gocleanco. I tried a couple of the things last night. Wow! Game changer! I felt slightly stupid for not knowing some of the stuff before and rolled my eyes at myself. But now I can teach my kids and they will be that much better off.

The thing that got me interested in her was laundry stripping. I stripped a load of laundry last night. I didn’t do it for the full length of time but it still worked. Stripping laundry means taking perfectly clean clothes and stripping the residue and hard water deposits and everyday oils and junk off them. It works and it is disgusting. Even if you think your clothes are clean you should try it, they probably aren’t.

Anyways, I spent yesterday studying budgeting and cleaning. Literally watching videos and taking notes. Homemaking school if you will. This I did in between taking kids to the dentist, helping with schoolwork and grocery shopping, picking up vehicles from the mechanic, and general everyday life with kids. Anything that will make my life run smoother I am all over.

I love that we have a world’s worth of knowledge in our pocket. There really is no reason to not know something. Have a question? Look it up. Growing up if we had a question the only options were to ask an adult and hope they knew (it was hit and miss) or go to the library (which was again hit and miss and so much work).

By the way, yesterday Sam finished school. He buckled down and did all the work and we turned it in. Yay! Only four more kids to go.

And the van I picked up from the mechanic? The air conditioner works, the blowers in the back work! When we go to see family in a couple weeks the kids won’t be sweating in the back and I won’t be windblown and none of us will get out with sweat dripping down and staining the back of our shirts. That was last summer and it was awful. We thought it would be a several thousand dollar repair so we just dealt with the heat. I couldn’t do it again. It was about $300. Um, kick myself much? Sometimes it is better to know reality that to guess. But we got a feel for what it was like pre-air conditioner and that was a pretty bad place to be.

Today we can hopefully check off a few more subject and a few more kids can be done with school. I hope because I know I am not the only parent on the brink of insanity.

Daily Life

Monday and Tuesday

I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: I am not good at this school from home thing. Rumors are that school in the fall will be a continuation of the same. Please no.

Both days I spent hours upon hours working with each child individually. One subject at a time we finished all their work for the year. We are almost done. A few more subjects, a few more tears, a few more threats, a few more meltdowns. That’s all. We can handle it. Right? We have to. My sister told her kids that summer school will be open so they better get their work done so they don’t have to go. We are all getting desperate.

On Monday I had a bunch of energy. I even managed to get the kids to help me weed the dandelions from the front yard. We got several buckets filled. We have about a fifth of the front yard to go. They didn’t mind the work for the most part.

We stayed busy all both monday and Tuesday with school, weeding, cleaning and of course the kids played. I am tired at the end of the day. It is a good thing.

So I have to laugh. My neighbors are all retired and apparently keeping tabs on what’s going on is what they like to do. Saturday Alex and I went on a morning walk and we were stopped by one neighbor who was looking at another neighbor’s yard. A sprinkling system was being put in and he had no qualms about inspecting it. As he finished showing us the spectacle he said we better get to our two mile walk. Shows how close he watches, I usually only walk a mile. Haha.

Then yesterday as I was weeding another neighbor came over to talk. We talked about weeds but then before he left he asked how far I walk every morning. I told him as much as I have time for. See, nothing gets past these people but it can be a good thing. Nothing gets by them so I get the extra eyes on my house and kids.

Tonight though we had a bit of a tragedy with the chicks. Turns out the big chickens are bullies of the worst kind. We had a chick die. Lauren discovered it and it was hers that died. Poor thing. There were tears shed. It is unfortunate. Alex spent two hours building a separate yard and shelter for the little chicks to stay in until they can better defend themselves- get bigger. It is upsetting to put time effort and money into something only to have it die. I feel bad every time we lose one.

Today Lauren made a toy for the cats. That’s all well and good but she insisted the cat be in her room while she made it. I told her it was a bad idea but let her make her own choices. She is allergic to cats; most animals, actually. She paid for it tonight. Itchy eyes and all that comes with it. Now we have to wash everything in her room tomorrow. I don’t think she’ll make that choice again.

Tomorrow I have to take Elizabeth to the dentist. She’s been worried and crying all week. We’ll see how she does. I’ll give an update tomorrow. Until then though, I’ve got to get some sleep.


Weekend Catch-up

Friday morning Noah said as he pulled the big blocks out, “I’m making a masterpiece.” He makes me laugh so often.

We had no TV on Friday. Someone took the Roku and we couldn’t watch tv without it. Not a bad thing. They still had tablets but they played games and colored on them so at least there was interaction.

All the little kids slept in that morning so I cleaned and then didn’t know what to do with myself. Then while the kids ate breakfast I mopped the floor. Why not, I couldn’t leave the area with the baby in the high chair.

I’ve started to mop the floor with hot water and vinegar. It stinks but I think it cleans better than the other cleaners I’ve bought. The kids don’t like to come into the kitchen when I’m mopping because of the smell but that’s not a bad thing because they dont make tracks on the wet floor. It has been nice for the kids to have clean feet because the floor is clean.

Benjamin and his friend got to work after school. It had snowed in the morning so they went door to door asking to shovel. They made some money and are eagerly waiting for the next snow storm. I watched them shovel a neighbor’s driveway and it was so cute seeing them doing that.

Michael made the movie suggestion for the evening. The Music Man. He is in the spring musical and had never seen it before. It was fun to see him watch it and he knew all the songs and said his lines along with the character he plays.

We unfortunately started the movie late and lost out on sleep. I didn’t even watch the whole thing. Then on Saturday night we were at a cousin’s birthday party and the kids were so busy playing that they didn’t eat. Well they did eat candy and cupcakes. So Alex made them some pupusas (I suggested pancakes because they are faster but whatever). That took forever and we watched Sister Act 2. We’d finished the first one earlier. So we were up late again.

We made it on time for church today. We had to get up at 7 but I guess if that’s what it takes. Noah wasn’t happy. I said he got to go to his new class again. “I don’t want to go. It’s boring.” The silly kid. He liked it anyways.

After lunch we worked with the kids on their goals. They had no idea what kind of goals to make. We’ll be working on those for awhile.

Then Alex and I took along nap. I feel like it is a waste of time but man I needed it.

Earlier today I got an email about a possible hint for my family history. It was a census from 1881. It looks like a match but what really got me excited is that if it is correct then I found a family member that we didn’t know about! I’m excited. Plus there are a couple more clues that could lead me farther back in the family. I’ve been stuck on this one line for years. Wish me luck.

I’ve got to get up and get everybody ready early tomorrow because we have some dentist appointments in the morning. Fun, fun, fun. Okay, not really. But one can’t have fun all the time.


All Better

The other morning we slept in. It was much needed. We told Noah to go get the big boys. He said, “They are teenagers. They won’t be awake.” Hahaha. This coming from a little kid.

We spent the weekend just hanging out. We had a thing to go to on Saturday afternoon. It was the first time that Michael would be babysitting all the kids- Evangeline included. And he wouldn’t be able to contact us. I was a little worried. But she has been doing better. We are all better except for a lingering cough a few of us have. She has been sleeping better at night and eating more solid foods. So I figured it would be fine. When I could finally check my phone it said “Evangeline is crying and going crazy and wont stop!” And it was sent an hour previous. I panicked a little. I called and no one answered. Finally 10 minutes later I got through and he said she only cried for a few minutes and then fell asleep. I figured that was the case. So we picked up some pizza for dinner and headed home.

It snowed and snowed today. I actually got the boys to go shovel the snow. And school is cancelled due to all the blowing snow. Yay for the kids.

Tonight for dinner Alex helped me. It was a little more involved than it should have been but it turned out good. It was general tso’s chicken and sweet and sour chicken. The kids that tried it liked it. The general tso’s was not hot at all. I’ll fix that next time.

For scripture study tonight I had the kids draw a picture of what we read as it was being read and then afterwards they had to explain their picture. It was fun and the kids got a lot more out of it than if they just read it. We’ll be adding more to the pictures throughout the week.

As soon as the dishwasher was done after scripture time we all headed up to clean up the dinner mess. Arguements ensued. “Why do we have to do this? Why aren’t the little kids in here? Why do I always have to dry?” And on and on and on. So frustrating. Two steps forward and one step back. I’ve been giving cleaning lessons to each kid as well cooking lessons. Thus past week it has been cleaning the sink.

Growing up my mom taught us kids how to clean. Deep clean. Event clean. It is the maintenance cleaning that we didn’t learn. So I’ve been trying to discipline and teach myself and my kids how to do that. I figure one thing at a time. Small changes are easier to implement and over time will add up. Thus dishes cleaned up after dinner. Then washing the sink after use, and who knows what I’ll teach them next. It was only a few years ago I learned that cleaning a sink didn’t have to be a big ordeal. I just have to wash it like I do any other dish. Soap, water, scrub, and rinse. Such a simple concept but I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. So better learning it late than never.

I feel like I kind of obsess about the cleaning. I think it is because my brain cant function in the clutter. It bounces around unable to focus. So if I write about it a lot it is just because I am learning and I am excited about my progress.

Oh, yesterday my coughing got bad. I had a coughing fit for about 10 plus minutes in the middle of the night. It was awful so I got some Lifesavers and Werther’s candy to help with the cough. By the end of the night my throat was killing me and swallowing was painful. Alex’s was the same. We figured that sugar just made the problem worse as we were coughing more and it was more and more painful as the night wore on. We won’t be doing that again.

Thankfully we are all better.


School is Not Cancelled

This morning the kids woke up a little late. I slept like a rock (finally! Though I found out later that I tossed and turned and thus Alex got no sleep. oops). Lauren came in and said they wanted to know if school was cancelled. Um, no. The power is on, the sun is rising, the is no snow or ice, in fact it is 40°. So you are going to school. “But our alarm clock didn’t work.” Welcome to real life. It isn’t cancelled because your clock didn’t go off. There alarm clock went off, just in the middle of the night and Alex went in and unplugged it.

I didn’t write about it but yesterday was a hard day physically. I’ve put myself on the back burner for so long. Foolish on my part. And yesterday I was feeling it. I could write a huge list of health problems but I’ll spare you. Another day perhaps. None of them are serious problems now but if I keep on the path I’m on then they will be. I listened to a podcast the other day and she said, “You’ll die for your children but you won’t live for them.” She’s right. It’s all noble to say you’d die for them but you won’t make good choices so you will be alive for them.

So about lunch time yesterday I’d had enough. Walking hurt and that is so sad. So I made a plan, took some before pictures, drank my water and ate a normal sized portion of a healthy dinner. Yeah, it might seem foolhardy to start eating healthy right at the holiday time but I’ve done it before and succeeded. Mostly because my unborn baby’s life depended on it. Now mine does. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s been an uneventful day. Evangeline has taken up most of it. At lunch she ate a banana and decided that it would look good in her hair. She thinks most food looks good there. So bath time it was. While I had one hand on her (I use the bathtub that sits in the kitchen sink) I cleaned out a cupboard. She’s adorable but I needed to find something that was buried in the cupboard. I found it.

Benjamin went to his friends house after school. I said it was fine when he called and asked. Of course at 9 o’clock he remembers he has a book report due in the morning. I will gladly help my kids with their work- during normal daylight hours. If they choose to lose sleep to finish an assignment that is on them. I also don’t bring stuff they forgot to school for them. They have done really good at remembering. I’m mean that way.

I took Michael and his friend to their young men’s activity tonight. We were a few minutes late and had to find the house. First had to find the name of the people so we could find their address. Then we had trouble finding their house because their address wasn’t lit up on the front of their house. Make sure your address is visible folks! It could be a matter of life and death if the emergency services need to get to you. We were even more late after that and probably looked stupid driving in circles in front of their house.

Btw, I ate a great dinner. I am going to need some help keeping myself accountable. Roasted veggies and a salmon patty. So good! I had a couple bites of the kids’ German Pancakes and they didn’t taste nearly as good as the vegetables did. Then I ate a handful of nuts and dark chocolate chips. It was my go to snack when I had gestational diabetes with my last two pregnancies. It was just sweet enough to save me from eating all the desserts. I will pat myself on the back because with the last two pregnancies I weighed less after I had the baby than when I started.

Tomorrow is another day. I am ready. But can I get out of bed. I am great at waking up about 50% of the time. Getting out of bed? Not so much.