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, Sunday

Gardens and Family

The weekend was so busy!

Friday and Saturday was spent on errand running and yardwork. Usually I am the first one on the block to have my flower garden in. Not this year. I was the last. I don’t think I’ll do that again. The nursery near my house was completely out of flowers. We came home and loaded the kids into the van just to get them out of the house and to make the yearly pilgrimage to our usual nursery for plants. Most of the kids enjoy it. They all get to pick out several flowers for the gardens and they have fun doing it. My flower gardens are never the same color year after year. I also have what I have dubbed my “odd” garden. When the kids pick or random flowers I have no idea what to do with then so I plant them all in this one garden so they can look at their choices. It’s always colorful.

Gardens always look so sparse when the flowers are just babies. (And I did spray those weeds and yes, there is still a lot of work to do. So much work!)

In my front garden- sorry, no pictures yet- I had two daylily plants that have been getting bigger every year. I finally divided them. I dug them out and Alex and I chopped them into three or four each and spread them farther apart in the garden. Yay! Now I’ve got more foliage going on. I’ve just got to wait for the tulips to finish dying back for the year. They are taking forever and look very haggard.

Luckily, the one flowers, Alyssum, that I grow every year reseeded themselves because both nurseries were completely sold out of them.

Enough garden talk.

Sunday, Father’s Day, was pretty laid back. We took our time getting ready for church (actually I hadn’t washed Alex’s white shirt so we waited while it washed) and then finally at noon we had church. Michael gave a talk about the importance of having a father in the home leading and supporting the family. While he was talking a circus broke out. Gideon’s nose started bleeding and it was a bit of a mess. I think Michael kept talking through it all. Haha.

Later Alex made his own dinner. He had a specific meal in mind and made it. I was good and he didn’t make too big of a mess. Marinated chicken cooked on the grill and roasted vegetables and rice. I made oatmeal cookie sandwiches with marshmallow frosting. Bit of a mess because the frosting was sticky but it tasted good.

That morning I had received an email from the family history site I am a member of that said they’d found a hint for a relative. It was the 1900 United States Census. I love looking at the census records. This time was kind of the jackpot in one way but a really upsetting puzzle in another. In this particular census it had my great-great grandparents and their kids. (My dad’s dad’s mom’s parents.) The big shocker was there were two kids on there I didn’t know existed. I’ve been working on this family tree for over 20 years. Technology and indexing (connecting records to people’s name so they are searchable) is making more information available every day. If you haven’t ever indexed you should, it is fun to do.

Anyways, there were two more kids! An eleven year old boy and a one month old girl. The problem came in when that was all the information I could find. Alex and I spent a couple hours looking everywhere. Cemetery records, obituaries, and trying to find the 1890 census that the one kid would have been one year old in. Fruitless pursuit because it turns out that the 1890 census records were badly burned in a fire. The 1910 census we looked at was a sad record. The father had died and the two kids I had found, well their names aren’t listed as living with their widowed mother. The son could possibly be living elsewhere as he would have been 21, but we couldn’t find any mention of him anywhere but that one 1900 census. The baby girl would have been 10 but she was gone also. My great-great grandparents had 11 kids that we know of but only 8 made it to adulthood. It was exciting but incredibly frustrating and sad at the same time.

Before we turned in for the night Alex drew up the plans for the new window we are putting in. I need a drawing of the plans in order to get a permit. When the window guy was here I said I wanted the window to be the same size as the window in my daughters’ room. I had never measured it. Um, I should have. The window doesn’t look that big in the bedroom. It is 60 inches long! Alex drew the outline on the wall where we are putting the window and it takes up most of the wall! Its huge! I mean I am okay with it and that’s good because it is already ordered. I wanted the window for light because that room is dark and I am thinking that big window will definitely do the trick.

Daily Life

It’s Been a Couple Days With A Lot of (Little) Miracles

I’ve said this before and I will say it again (and again)- if you look for them, miracles happen all the time.

Earlier this week Michael said that he needed $10 so he could go out and eat lunch with his friend. I gave him a pickax and a spot of ground and he got to work digging. It was a patch of weeds that I wanted to plant grass in- grass os easier to take care of than controlling weeds. It took him a couple hours over a few days. He gained $10 and some muscles to boot. We all won.

I spent several hours weeding this patch of dirt. Two 5-gallom buckets full of weeds and rocks were pulled out of this patch. My plan was to get it prepped to plant grass seed. It would be a weeks long process growing grass from seed. Then one night I was done working on the yard when I checked my Facebook feed. A man in my church had posted that he had extra sod from a project. Free to whomever got there first. I grabbed two of the kids and we jumped into the van and headed over. It was still there. Over 60 square feet of sod. It really was a blessing. Saved me so much time. A miracle because it showed up right when I could use it.

I still have some work to do on it but that work was cut down significantly.

Next miracle. I have wanted some nightstands to match my dresser I got last year. I finally had the money saved up and I was planning on buying them and picking them up this weekend. I just couldn’t make it feel right. I tried and tried and tried. It just felt wrong. I kept trying to make it feel right because I wanted them and I couldn’t see a logical reason to not get them. But I finally gave into the feeling and like a petulant child said to Heavenly Father “Fine, I’ll do it your way though I don’t understand why.”

(As a quick aside, the store, IKEA, is in Salt Lake City, hours from my house and shipping is ridiculous but I would be nearby when visiting my family over the weekend so picking them up wouldn’t be a big deal.)

When I got home Saturday night I finally checked the news. Rioting and vehicles set on fire in Salt Lake City last night. I might have or might not have been in the area when all the chaos broke out. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in harm’s way but I am grateful that I was able to avoid all of it.

Another miracle happened on the way home. As we left my parents house the weather that had been hot and pleasant all day turned into thunderstorms. About halfway home in the fading light and the worst part of the drive for it to happen, the storms let loose. I have a hard time seeing the road at dusk and the rain didn’t help. The winds picked up and I was having a hard time keeping the van driving straight as the big gusts would push the van violently. I told the kids to pray. I was praying and putting all my concentration into keeping us from crashing. There was literally nowhere to pull over and wait it out as we were in a canyon. It seemed as though as soon as the prayers were uttered the windshield wipers worked better, the headlights seemed brighter, the winds let up, the rain let up and I was able to see where we were going. Lauren said she noticed it too as she prayed. It was scary. The rest of the drive was still rainey, some parts a heavy downpour, but I was able to see well enough without panicking. The lighting flashing around us was amazing and we were able to enjoy the rest of the ride.

There were more, too, as I sit here thinking about it and though they seem small and possibly insignificant and some people would explain them away as mere coincidences or imagined threats, I choose to see them for what they are- God’s hand in my life, evidence that he cares for us and that he cares about the little things- the details. All we have to do is look.

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

Long Weekend

It was Memorial Day weekend and we used it but I didn’t have much fun. It was a lot of work. It was raining on Friday and Saturday all day both days until it finally cleared out Saturday night. Sunday was very slow, I even got a nap in. Monday I managed to sleep in until 7.We did a bit of yardwork- I weeded an insane amount but 1-inch weeds are tedious to pull.But the bare ground looks good. (No picture of just dirt- sorry.)Alex worked in the house on the rainy days finishing the closet we wanted built. We have decided that when we do the remodel that we are hiring drywallers. We can do it but we are so slow at it. This closet that we built will be nice though. It will not be some awkward empty room. The kids are still deciding who gets the room. I want none of them to have it. Guest room, folks!We have two cats and zero mice. We wondered where the mice went. Did the cats eat them? We never saw proof, we just guessed. On Sunday morning I found proof. Yellow feathers in the garage. Mostly eaten bird carcass. Apparently they take care of mice and birds. I’m sad about the bird part. I love birds. But the cats are good hunters so I’ll take the occasional bird casualty if it means no mice.We watched a few movies over the weekend. The kids enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog. They said it was one big commercial for various companies. Kind of lame. Alex and I watched the new Emma adaptation. Other than one maybe two quick scenes-that were entirely unnecessary- we loved it. It was quirky but well done. I’d buy it and watch it again.Monday afternoon we had a picnic in our backyard. The grill was out of propane and so was the town. Alex started a fire in the fire pit and we cooked the meat that way. We set up all the hammocks (I’ve collected 3 over the years) and all the kids had fun swinging in them. It was a fun night topped off by watching Jurassic Park. Our friends stopped by for a bit and it was good to see them. It was weird having people knock on the door again. After almost three months of not having anyone over it throws a body off. The kids loved it.Earlier a neighbor also stopped by to drop off a bunch of rhubarb stalks. The kids were excited. My friend made a rhubarb crisp for us one year and my kids loved it. So do I. I will have to make it for them soon. I chopped the stalks up and put them in the freezer for later. I have a rhubarb plant but it isn’t nearly as big as my neighbors’ plants are. I guess I need to find a sunnier spot?It was a pretty productive weekend. Now maybe we can relax a bit now that summer and warmer weather is here. Maybe. There is a giant project looming. The kitchen. Oh well, work is a good thing. We’ll make time to play.

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

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.

Daily Life

Friday Turned Out Pretty Good

This morning as I started my walk two Canadian geese flew overhead honking. Other birds were singing, the sun was shining. Later a large crane flew over. It added to the walk. When I got home I had planned on watering the lawn but the water in the hose was frozen. I had to wait until later in the day for all the ice to melt. It was cold again this morning.

Evangeline wanted to go outside and honestly, I did too. I was tired of being in the house. The other kids started to trickle out and soon half of them were out there riding bikes and just enjoying the sunshine. Alex had told the kids he would pay them to weed the dandelions out of the yard. Lauren enthusiastically got to work. She didn’t know how to do it though so I got up and showed her the proper way to do it. She loved it. “Thanks for letting me weed the yard! This is so fun!” I wasn’t going to tell her otherwise. I joined in and we got a big section of the yard weeded. It actually was enjoyable.

After lunch I corralled all the kids into the “classroom” today to get work done. The absolute minimum got done. I heard rumors that they will be continuing this remote learning next year. I hope so much that it is just a rumor because I will have 6 kids in school next year. Not everyone was wired to be a teacher.

Alex and I went to the credit union today to look at numbers and options. The loan guy was saying that we should get a line of credit. He wasn’t very convincing. “The interest rate will be high and the minimum payment will be $x, and if you make only the minimum payments you will never pay this thing off. I suggest you get the line of credit if you don’t want to wait three months.”  Um, that is the worst financial advice I have ever heard. To refinance, which would be a lower interest rate, we could get the full amount and only cost us $70 more per month but we would have to wait three months for all the paperwork.  I’ll take that option, thank you very much.

After all that figuring out, Alex and I went home and ran all the numbers, looked at what needs to be done and what can wait. We whittled the list down and think we’ve come up with a reasonable plan. All the other rooms that are functional and not falling apart we are going to save up and cash flow later on.

I did stop at the window installer to give them a check so we could get on their schedule and they could order our windows. I had a few questions and things I needed clarified. I had forgotten what I had had him measure (a couple years ago) and I was so happy that the quote included a back door. Our back door is bad. We can barely shut it anymore, there is light shining in at the seams and when it rains the water comes in. See, I told you this house needs work! I am not making these things up. I had decided this morning to take pictures of everything so that when we look back we can see that yeah, it really did need to be fixed.

I also stopped at our mechanic to make an appointment. I wish I didn’t have to but summer is coming and the last time I took the van in, the mechanic did fix the air conditioner, recharged it because it was so so low that it was just hot air coming in. The recharge worked and the front of the van is comfortable but the fans to the back of the van aren’t working so they are still sweating in the back. If we get that fixed then trips to Utah to see family will be much more comfortable. Last year we would get to our destination just dripping sweat. Air conditioners are one of my favorite inventions. We haven’t been to see our Utah family since Halloween last year. They are only 3 hours away so it is time we went to see them again.

For dinner tonight we made pizza. It is Friday– tradition. We are getting better at it. The house smells like a pizzeria. It is torture when I am trying not to overeat. It smells so good! It is a family deal, making pizza. We all have our part. One makes the dough, one makes the sauce, and one grates the cheese and tops the pizzas. It is never the same person doing it every week.

We didn’t end up watching a movie together tonight though. The older boys had plans to play video games online with their friends. They haven’t interacted with their friends in so long that I was fine with them all doing their own thing. We’ll have to plan to do something Saturday. We’ve been so focused on all the other stuff — I have been focused and stressed about all the other stuff– that we haven’t spent enough time just having fun together. I think I’ll tell them we’re going to go play soccer. Not my favorite thing to do but all the rest of them love it.

They will still have to get the house cleaned first.