It’s Arrived

Summer, that is.  I finally feel that it is summer.  We’ve settled back in to daily life after vacation.  DH went back to work yesterday, I took the kids to the library, we all spent hours reading yesterday (I know, the house still needs an overhaul, but it’s summer), and the kids are sleeping in.  My oldest is working so we still have a schedule to follow, but it’s not the same as during the school year.

Regarding DD1’s summer job, sharing a vehicle stinks.  She needs a car for her own use next summer.  With her work schedule and all of the appointments we need to work around on top of that, I just don’t know if I’ll be able to fit driver ed in for my son.  We had it set up, but the driving school ended up closing.  He’s only turning 15 this summer, so there’s time to do it next year.  I was hoping for more time to get the driving hours in but we’ll adjust if need be.

DD1 had her first accident while we were on vacation.  Her fault.  Friends in the car.  Distracted?  Maybe.  We’ve not come down too hard on her.  She did, after all, have to call us on vacation and tell her father that she damaged his car after eleven years of no dents and great condition.  She also learned about paying tickets.  I made sure she did the math to know just how many hours she worked to pay for it.  That was a good thing my mom did for me way back when I was a teenager shopping for a prom dress.  I found it to be effective, and DD1 did too.

The damage isn’t terrible but will need to be fixed.  The passenger door won’t open without rubbing severely on the front panel around the wheel.  We’re hoping this was a wake up lesson to not get cocky about driving ability.

Bread is rising.  I made a batch as a thank you this past weekend and the smell was enticing all of us.  The main work is finished.  Now we’re in rise, knead, rise, knead, rise, shape, rise, bake mode.

Fireworks are tomorrow night.  I love watching fireworks, but hate everything else that come with it: waiting in the heat, mosquitoes, traffic to leave, parking way far away to avoid traffic and the seemingly endless walk to and from the viewing area.

I’m really good at complaining.  Too bad no one will hire me to sit around and complain all day.

Anyway, DH loves fireworks, so off we’ll go.

We’ve picked out our carpet and padding and have someone coming to measure the room.  Cats are ever closer, so I bought kitten food this week.

After visiting the Celtic store in Gatlinburg, my son wanted a clan history book on his Christmas list.  I found a clan map and book for $20 on Amazon, just a dollar more than that same map (only the map) would have cost in the store.  I told him it’s history and we didn’t need to wait for Christmas.  He’s almost finished with the book already.

Tonight my son will join me in the kitchen and we’ll try our hand at making Mexican rice, which he and his sister love.

The wish list of things to learn and do is a mile long.

Summer has begun.

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Enough Vacation Already

I’ve decided that two weeks is just too much vacation for me.  I was ready to come home around day eight.  Maybe it’s because I’m older and appreciate home more.  For whatever reason, I don’t want to be away from home that long again.

We had a great time, although this was the first time we left our oldest at home (she had to work).  It was odd not having DD1 with us, but we’ve had a year of her being in college so it’s not a completely foreign thing to us.

We began with a few days in Atlanta.  The Georgia Aquarium is awesome!  Those four whale sharks are incredible to watch, especially when they swim over you in the acrylic tunnel.  Other sharks, giant manta rays, and other sea creatures are in the same tank.  We took the behind the scenes tour and watched the whale sharks being fed from the top of the tank, which was incredible.

Another fun feature is in the penguin enclosure.  There is a tunnel you can crawl through to get to two viewing spots where you can stand eye to eye with the penguins.  I didn’t chance my arthritic knee in the tunnel, but my tall DH went through with his camera backpack on to give you an idea of the size.

After Atlanta, we parked ourselves in Gatlinburg.  One day we drove over to Cherokee and relaxed in a park right along the main drag.  The river runs through the park and has a rocky bottom, fun for wading.  DH set up hammocks, which were the envy of many.  We had visited Cherokee many years ago and knew we wanted a few hours in this spot.

DH and DD2 did many a day hike, DS joining them only for the first.  After that he hung out with me.  The Gatlinburg Parkway doesn’t hold much interest for me, other than a few hidden gem shops set back from the main strip.  I hit the Arts and Crafts trail on the yellow line trolley and had fun exploring shops manned by the craftsperson/artist who created the goods for sale.  One artist paints on mostly reclaimed wood.  I loved all her works, but settled with getting Christmas ornaments painted on wood slices, which may have been the only ‘canvases’ in the shop which were not reclaimed.

On the way home we went a bit out of our way to visit Kentucky Down Under once more.  It has never disappointed us.  We love petting and feeding the kangaroos.

Now we’re home and I’ve done mounds of laundry and been to the grocery store and put countless items away.  One thing I missed while away was comfortable furniture to hang out on in the evening when everything is winding down.  I kicked my eldest out of ‘my’ chair without any feelings of guilt our first evening home.

So school has only been out two weeks and the summer is one third over.  The appointments begin next week (dental, eye, etc.), new carpet and padding is chosen and kitties will soon be able to be adopted and loved.  I bought a new litter box many months ago and set it in place covered by a garbage bag, just waiting for the day we’d bring new family home.  I have a soft ‘cave’ and a soft ‘cuddle cup’ along with several new toys waiting, and hope to add a cat tree.  Soon the fluff balls will come.

Maybe that’s why I was ready to come home.  This house has been without cats for too long.

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I’m so excited!  I just received my video course on sewing.  I’ve been sewing for more than ten years now, but am mostly self taught and this course looks as if it has a lot of techniques I can benefit from.  I have books to learn from on general sewing, hand sewing, pattern fitting and making, but seeing things demonstrated can really set things in my mind.

There are tons of videos on the internet which are free, and I have utilized some of them.  It can be difficult to choose which one is the best to watch, who knows what they’re doing, etc, and I don’t often have enough patience to sift through them.  I hesitated over the cost of this DVD set ($100 when I first looked) and put it on the back burner.  Recently it went on sale for $50 with no shipping cost and I snapped it up.

Even though I’m not a newbie, I will watch it from the beginning.  Being self-taught, I could easily have missed something.  After all, I’ve only concentrated on what I’ve needed for each project along the way.

There are many skills I have on my wish list.  You know, for all of that new free time now that my home schooler has graduated.  I’m a crocheter who is slowly working on learning how to knit.  As someone who uses a lot of fibers, I also have a drop spindle which I’d like to play with.  The real pie-in-the-sky dream would be to learn how to wash, card, then spin the wool on the wheel.

I want to learn how to tat.  This one isn’t as easy to justify as sewing, crocheting, and knitting, where the projects are often useful items.  This one will wait a while.

I also want to get some wild yeast sour dough started and delve deeper into baking – both sourdough items and I need to break in my new doughnut pans.  I also ought to work to make a few more dinner items from scratch.  Once I get a new recipe established, it’s not so difficult to remember to do the ‘from scratch’ version instead of reaching for a box, but changing a habit takes time and commitment.

Pinterest is a dangerous place to hang out.  I constantly find new things I want to try, and my boards overflow.

My two youngest are a lot like me: interested in learning way too many different things.  That’s okay.  We’ll never be bored.

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The Lost Practice of Fixing Things

Yesterday I was sewing new elastic into a pair of pajama shorts I’d made about ten years ago.  Many people, DH included, would propose just getting new pajamas.  Other than the elastic, they’re still in good shape.  The material had been on clearance and gotten for about $2 a yard, when new knit fabric runs a good $15 per yard.  I prefer my hand made pjs over the fit of the store bought.  I spent a good chunk of time making this set, and with new elastic they’ll last several more years.

As I sat working on these pjs, I got to thinking.  Since I began sewing, it’s much more difficult for me to simply throw out old clothing, sheets, towels, and the like.  It’s not a money issue.  It’s the issue of how much good is left in the article about to be pitched.  With towels, it’s usually the edges that have become ragged and you only need so many ‘rag’ towels.  Our excess of towels went to the animal shelter, who were happy to get them.  Sheets have been made over into other things as it’s mostly the bottom sheet that gets worn out.  I’m still trying to figure out how to use old clothing (other than for rag rugs).

I got to wondering if it’s more difficult for me to throw these things out because I’ve spent so much time making clothing for myself and the kids that I have a different appreciation for what goes into it.  That train of thought led to larger issues.

Today, manufacturers make electronics, appliances, etc. to purposely wear out or be obsolete in a few short years.  The repair shop who has worked on my washers, dryer, and dishwashers told me that these items are expected to last five years.  Are you kidding?  My parents’ things lasted decades.  Fortunately we’re eighteen years strong on our dryer, and the washer is about ten years old.  That’s with a few repairs along the way which aren’t cheap.

That’s another reason people don’t fix things like they used to.  The cost of repair versus the cost of replacement are often so close to each other that it makes more sense to get new.  I remember my parents going to the actual repair shop with the tv, microwave, etc.

So in this age when every one is screaming that we need to leave a smaller carbon footprint and we need to recycle and have more efficient vehicles, why are we allowing this wastefulness in appliance manufacturing?  Why do we have such a desire to always have the latest and greatest?  Do we really need the tv built into our refridgerator?  Why do kitchens always need stainless steel appliances and granite countertops?  And if these things already exist, why do they immediately need to be replaced?  I watch a lot of HGTV, which is where I see the stainless/granite desire.

I like shiny new things as much as the next person, but am also content to wait.  What I would greatly prefer is a higher standard of manufacturing.  I like when items are built to last.  It makes me wonder if we accept the lower standards because, as a whole, people don’t build their own furniture, houses, etc?  Do we accept it because, as a whole, we don’t try to fix things ourselves as much these days?

My ten year old vacuum recently had it’s hose rip.  It’s a pricey vacuum and everything else still works fine.  DH and I found a replacement hose for $15 and he installed it with the help of a video on the internet.  I’m so glad to have only spent the $15 rather than to have gone out to get a whole new vacuum.  We’ve hopefully extended the life of this appliance another ten years, thus saving ourselves a much bigger expense.

I’m not trying to make a shining example of myself and my family, just pointing out that it’s still possible to do some things for ourselves.

It makes me happy every time the kids come to us with something to see if it can be fixed rather than just pitching it.  There used to be a spot on DH’s desk for things which needed his fix-it touch.  I hope they pass that mind set on to their kids.

I guess making that repair on my pjs set my thoughts done a hole from which I’m not likely to climb out.  I know I tend to be on the old fashioned side in my thinking, but I’m perfectly okay with that.

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What Will You do With All That Time?

I’m being asked this question frequently right now as my home school child just graduated.  It’s a natural bit of conversation, but my contrary nature is tired of it.  It feels as if what’s being asked is, “Now that the only meaningful thing in your days is finished, how will you ever keep yourself busy?”

Okay, that’s a pretty cynical view.  I’m just tired.  There will be aspects of home school which I will miss, but I have plenty of things to do.  For one thing, DD2 doesn’t have her driver’s license yet and while she plans to bike to work (once that job is obtained), there will be bad weather days when she will need a ride.  She also may need a ride to the class or two which we all plan on her taking.

My son plans to take the optional seventh hour next year, and buses only run after sixth hour, so he’ll need a ride home every day.  He’s planning on taking seventh hour each of the next three years in order to take classes such as welding and wood working and still fit in art classes.  I’m hoping that he’ll slowly build up driving practice on these days.  It’s only a ten minute ride home, but the frequency was great for my eldest and it ends up being almost an hour a week.  Every bit counts.

My sewing stack has been overflowing for the past ten years, so it would be wonderful to clear it out.  Okay, ‘clearing it out’ is probably just a fantasy since I add projects pretty steadily, but it’s still a goal.  Eventually I’ll be finished with sewing for the kids, and that alone will greatly help.  Of course, I thought I was done sewing for my college kiddo until she couldn’t find the skirts she needed in the stores.  I think she’ll have to find a new solution after this summer.

My house has been in need of a serious deep clean for the past several years.  That may actually be accomplished now.  The trouble with this goal is that the house won’t stay clean.  Also, deep cleans take a lot of time and knowing how I operate, I’ll get a few rooms deep cleaned and poop out for a few months.  Somehow I’ll have to stay motivated throughout the whole house.

My garden is in desperate need of attention.  The violets have been a struggle for years, but the past few they have completely overrun my flower beds and it’s painful getting them out.  It’s been a process of weed the maple seedlings and other pull-able weeds, dig the dandelions, then shoot the violets with Round Up.  I don’t like the excessive use of chemicals, but I’m in a losing battle and need big help.  I don’t want to add anything new until the violets are mostly under control and I may end up losing some of my current plants as the violets are intertwined with them at this point.

DH asked if I wanted more flower bed space and I had to point out that I can’t keep up with what I have.  The arthritis in my knee complicates things as well.  This year the garden beds all need fresh mulch once I treat the weeds.

Currently I’m attending physical therapy twice a week, and you have to do the exercises on the days you don’t go in order to make the most progress.

The everyday tasks need to be done every day (cleaning, laundry, groceries, cooking, etc.)

Summer always brings well checks, dental cleanings, eye appointments, etc., for which I am the chauffeur.

I’ve been trying to establish time to write in earnest.

There are several things I’ve been wanting to learn.

We’ll be adopting kittens in a few weeks.

So what will I do with all my new found time without homeschooling?

Gee, I don’t know.  I may be completely at a loss.

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Feeling Glad

My oldest is working in a department store for the summer and it’s been an eye opener for her.  We took advantage of 50 cent Frosties last night and while enjoying them, our eldest was talking about her job experiences.  She has been surprised to find out that people will come in looking for particular brands of clothing to purchase.  She’s finding out that people are willing to spend a boat load of money just to get a designer’s initials on a purse.  She’s amazed that it matters to people.

Inside my head, massive cheering was taking place.  She gets it.

Watching “Say Yes to the Dress” with my middle, she was being shocked by what people will pay for a dress which is worn for a few hours.

Massive cheering inside my head.

DH and I have been trying to teach our children wisdom with money.  We don’t want them living a life of debt.  We want them to have money for the things/experiences which are most important to them.

It seems as if the message is being received.

The kids spent their young years in mostly clothing from WalMart and a relatively inexpensive local chain.  I’ve made a lot of clothing for them, mostly for reasons of modesty, but also frugality.  Sewing can be cost friendly when you plan ahead and are careful.  Now that my girls have stopped growing, I shop a higher quality for their clothing, one mail order retailer in particular.  I do this to make sure they have clothing which fits their long arms and legs.  That said, the girls know that I mostly shop the clearance items and really good sales.

Some of the kids’ friends from church have married, so of course we’ve talked about their future weddings.  They know that they will have to pay for some of the wedding expenses in order to stay grounded on costs and how they add up.  They know that they will need to prioritize so they will know where it’s important to not compromise, and where they can trim the budget.  They know we want them to have the wedding they want while being reasonable on expenditures.  The party lasts one day, the marriage lasts a lifetime.

No matter what income level our children have in their lives, I want them to be able to live within their means and be content.  From what I’m hearing and seeing I think they’ll be okay.



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Every Day Life

The end of the school year brings a lot of stuff with it.  This year was the second in a row with an open house.  DS is more than ready for the end of the year but has three more weeks.  Seniors were finished last Friday.  I can’t believe they got out a month ahead of everyone else, but it worked out for my home school graduate who had work scheduled through today but was allowed to finish it early.  She finished last Friday as well, so since the high school seniors were finished I felt okay telling my son that his sister was finished too.  Otherwise, we had planned for her to get up as usual for another week.  I try to be considerate of my son while allowing my daughter to take advantage of some the perks which home school affords.  I don’t think he knows she got a slightly longer Christmas break every year by working ahead, and I don’t plan to enlighten him.

Last weekend DH installed our new dining room floor and it looks fantastic!  We haven’t moved the table back in yet as the trim boards are in the process of sanding and staining before he can install those.  We sprung for the fancy boards, as we’ve envisioned having since the first year of owning the house.  Both of us would love to keep remodeling through every room of the house, but budget realities keep us in check.  There is no need to go into debt just because we have the remodeling itch.

Soon we’ll be able to purchase carpeting for the front room which adjoins the dining room and get that installed.  Currently our dining room furniture is in there, so we have to wait a little bit.  We’ve waited seventeen years to work on these rooms, and I think the wait enhances the satisfaction in seeing it come to pass.

Yesterday my middle child helped me empty the sand turtle and scrub it down to prepare it for its new family.  I had pulled the toys out and washed them a couple weeks ago.  We set the turtle in the sun to dry a bit and went in the house to find out that the water sensor in the basement had alerted DH.  The faucet for the hose had leaked into the workroom in the basement.  Nothing is more defeating than putting a towel on a floor to see it float.  DH came home to help with the clean up and that occupied three or four hours.  I was too tired to pay attention to the actual amount of time passed.

Our girls, both of whom helped, each showed the benefits of living intentionally grateful.  They were able to join DH and I in listing all of the ways in which this flood could have been worse.  The good things of this flood were:

-we found out that our water sensor works quite well (that purchase just paid for itself too!)

-we were home to deal with it immediately

-we learned of the flood before it reached the doorway of the workroom, where it would have begun to ruin the Pergo flooring in the rest of the basement

-this happened when DH and I were here, rather than when all but DD1 were on vacation.  She would have been overwhelmed to have to deal with this alone

-nothing major was ruined

I’m so grateful to see my girls chip in willingly and be able to see the positives of the situation (my son can join in with this too, he was simply at school during this event).  Things often go wrong in life and it makes me glad to know that my children will be able to find ways to laugh and ways in which to be thankful rather than crumble in a pile of bitterness.  We’ve had enough setbacks/mishaps/etc. to see that they will be able to face whatever life throws at them.

This does not mean that we never feel disheartened.  It simply means that we can also find something to be thankful for in a bad situation, thereby not becoming defeated.

Once flood clean up was finished, DD2 and I loaded the sand turtle into the van and delivered it to its new family.  It was given to us by someone with older kids, and it felt good to pay it forward, adding the sand toys to the deal.  I love the community/family feel of our church.  We are by no means the only people who have ever been able to bless another family, and we ourselves were the recipients of an outgrown Narnia castle with action figures several years ago.

Today feels like a lazy day.  I think I’m going to need to push myself to get to work on another skirt for DD1.  I got the first made last weekend, but it was the easiest pattern and pleats lie ahead of me.  She and I had gone shopping for skirts, but the stores had very few, and DD1 didn’t find what she was looking for.  This may be the last time I sew for her.  It’s a bit hard to tell her that when she can’t find the modest clothing she wants in the stores, but she may need to learn to sew for herself.  She’ll be nineteen in a few short weeks and I will not always be right there to take care of her clothing needs.  These college years will need to be transitional in many ways.

Bit by bit, things will be done.

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