Plodding Along

I’ve been working on cleaning and projects the past few weeks.  Some days are more successful than others, but overall progress is being made.  Last week I got the long pole out and washed the siding on two sides of the house.  I was so sore the next day that very little got done.  I love how the siding looks after it’s been washed.  It’s a satisfying chore, and since I haven’t done it for a few years, it was all the more satisfying.  I use a pole rather than a power washer because the siding was pretty dirty when we bought the house, and we didn’t have much money for extras at the time.  The down payment took our savings pretty low and other purchases were more pressing.  The cost of the pole fit the budget.  The cleaning attachment is falling apart at the squeegee, however, and I haven’t started the windows yet.  We’ll have to see if I can fix it enough to get the second story windows clean.

At the beginning of the summer, my girls found knit dresses on clearance for $4.50 each, but they were a bit too short.  We got some fabric to add ruffles to the hemline, I washed the fabric, and there the project stopped until this weekend.  On Saturday I got DD2’s dress finished, and finished DD1’s this morning.  That feels good.  It’s been tough for me to stay out of JoAnn Fabrics, and I got really excited when I needed to get thread Saturday.  I was happy to know that my address got scanned to keep me on the mailing list, too.  I love window shopping, and the problem comes in when I find an awesome deal and put the item away for a future project.  I need to keep chipping away at the existing stack of projects until it’s gone or very nearly gone before I find that next awesome deal.

We had our second family cleaning time and our son seemed to get into it.  He didn’t complain, and the floor of his room is actually cleaner now than when he started, even though his focus was on his closet.  Hopefully this weekly routine will help him to get his room in order.  DD2 was not so happy about it, but did manage to change her sheets.  I think that’s where it stopped, but I’m not saying anything to her yet.  It could be different next week.  We’ll see if a pattern develops first.

While we’re not making it a goal to purge the house, it has been good to look at things with a sterner eye and clear some things out.  We’ve had some garage sales in the past, donated items here and there, passed clothing on to other families who could use it, etc., but items still accumulate.  In our first few years of marriage we moved often, and moving always led to getting rid of things on both ends of the move.

I’m hoping to get my younger two to go through their belongings with an honest eye.  We’ve offered to pack beloved but outgrown items away for them.  They don’t have to throw out things that are important to them, but I’d like them to think honestly about what is and is not important.  I think if they do this, they’ll surprise themselves.  (Knowing that my seventeen year old still has My Pretty Ponies which haven’t been touched in years.)

Right now I’m just working to keep the momentum.  Each project finished or task completed adds to the accomplishment, and there’s a big picture goal to keep in front of me.

 

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Day to Day Stuff

Yesterday took DD2 and I to the thrift store.  We had an oversized bag of clothing to donate, and for fun went in.  Of course we found something.  DD1 has been stating here and there that she is going to get ice cream dishes when she’s on her own.  This child never knows what to put on Christmas lists for her grandmothers, so a couple of years ago I suggested she begin a ‘hope chest’.  She doesn’t have a physical box, but the logic was to ask for items which she knows she will need in the not-too-distant future.  Back to topic, I saw four small ice cream dishes in beautiful shape for a dollar total.  She won’t care that they came from a second hand store, and this will add to her hope chest.

DD2 found a black formal for $10.  It’s velvety on the top, empire waist, a-line satin skirt and could have been made for her.  It’s modest without any modification and in great shape.  Totally not frugal as I bought it for her even without an upcoming occasion needing a dress.  Of course, DD2 knows she’s not going to be trying formals on again for a long time.  It’s usually just for fun as the dress won’t quite fit, or the zipper is broken, or it’s too immodest, etc.  This one just happened to be the Goldilocks ‘just right’, and we seized the proffered opportunity.

Tonight will be the first night we do family cleaning time.  DH came up with the idea after the emptying of our son’s floor.  (He’s still going through the items pulled out.)  The idea is that once a week, we will all take 30 minutes to clean or organize something of our choosing.  I’ve made a list of things I need to do, and have been working on the list already.  The thinking is that we want the kids to see that we’re working too.  They don’t always see our cleaning efforts and can feel as if it’s just us telling them to work while we sit around.  At the end of the half hour, we’ll show each other what we did.  If all homework is done, the half hour can be followed by a game, tv show (we’re a season behind on “The Flash”), or some other family thing.  Hopefully it will be a positive thing.

We’re also working to encourage the kids to use the time in front of the tv.  I’ve been pulling out my knitting (gotta get to those socks!), DH has been working on his chain maille, and I’ve allowed our son to keep his chain maille items in the living room for easy access.  I really hope he sticks with it and finishes his shirt.  He loves to make things and I know he’d feel awesome wearing a chain maille shirt of his own making when we go to the Renaissance Fair next year.  DD2 often has something in her hands – part of her sensory issues- so she doesn’t need too much encouragement.  She’s also the least interested in tv.

There are always big plans and ideas in this house.  Some become realized, others do not.  I’m a firm believer in aiming high.  It is a great truth that “when you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time”.

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A Ten Pound Hole

That’s what was left when our cat died.  Sixteen and a half years ago, we adopted two sister kittens from our local shelter.  Last November we euthanized one of them, and even though we knew it was the right thing to do, we were bawling buckets.  All of us were present for everything.  We had an appointment, and in the time leading up we took tons of pictures, poured love on our furball, and gave her lots of treats.  The kids video taped and audio recorded the cat because she got so excited over those treats, even if she had just finished some.  We had time to prepare, and there was still one beloved kitty in the home.

The remaining kitty was lonely after her sister disappeared, and we reluctantly started to notice her growing frailty.  Sixteen is old for a cat, after all.  She’d been faltering on jumps and taking smaller ones when possible.  She’d lost some weight.  Then came this past week.

This particular cat was my husband’s buddy.  She would leave anyone else to go get on his lap.  She curled up against him at night.  This past week my husband was away for a conference.  The first day wasn’t bad until it came time for bed and her buddy wasn’t there.  The next day she hid under our bed for the morning instead of sitting in her usual chair next to my home schooler, and did not eat until my son gave her treats in the evening.

Then the following day was more normal for her.  She sat next to my daughter while she did her school work, ate better, then came up to bed with me and stayed on the bed almost until the alarm went off.  She ate normally in the morning, and again took her seat next to my daughter.

Around noon she went behind a chair and everything began to fall apart.  Within an hour I was calling my husband from the vet’s office asking for a decision.

We don’t need to detail that part of things.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how absolutely empty the house felt without this ten pound cat in it.

A couple years ago I told DH that when the cats were gone, I wanted to take a break from having pets.  After our first cat was gone, I actually began to get the break.  In the last years of her life she had begun to poop several times a day, about half of the time on the carpeting.  We took her to the vet about it, but nothing was resolved.  Toward the end of her life, she expanded her pooping territory and I had to follow the smell to her new locations.  I found a couple after she died, which shows how good she got at hiding them.

She ate so many things over the course of her life, I’m sure her insides were mincemeat.  I found a balloon in her poop, even though we were careful with balloons.  I pulled dental floss out of her behind, even though we kept trash cans inside cupboards.  She pooped out four inch fire place brush bristles.  Who knows what else she ate that we never knew about.

She was also prone to throwing up a lot.  She liked to “scarf and yarf”, as I put it.  I rushed her to the vet as a kitten when I found foamy puke all over the hall, but she was just one to throw up.  Again, no doubt tearing up her insides with stomach acid.

There were other issues, but these two were the main things I really needed a break from when I thought I was needing a break from pets.

I could go to the humane society right now and pick out a new kitty.  I know that some people scoff the idea of our pets loving us back, but my kitty sat at my feet when I got home from the hospital after giving birth to our son, waiting for the invitation to come up.  She was waiting for me any time I was away for a while, even if someone else was home to care for her.

So why haven’t I gotten a new cat yet?  First, the carpeting needs to be replaced.  Both cats used the carpet in our dining room here and there.  Thankfully it’s old and ready to be replaced, so it’s not just because of the cats.  There are two more affected areas as well.  I don’t want to encourage a new pet to use these rooms in the same way, so flooring needs to be changed first.

Another big reason to wait is that our oldest two were babies when we brought these cats home, and it would be nice to choose the next cats as a family, which means our oldest will need to be home from college when we go pick them.  This would also give them all a chance to enjoy the kitten time, which doesn’t last long.

I do want a kitten.  There are many sweet adult cats who need to be adopted, but we don’t know what bad habits they may have, and we’ve already had our share (many that haven’t been listed and a myriad of attempts to end the habits).  Also, it’s hard to let go of a pet friend, so I want to try to lengthen the amount of time we’ll have them.  There aren’t any guarantees on either count, but we can stack the deck as much as possible.

It would be good to wait until after the family trip next summer.  We weren’t traveling when we got the first kitties as the girls were so young.  We don’t want to leave a freshly adopted pet for a week or so.  That wouldn’t be fair to them.

I never thought that losing the second cat would hit me so hard.  I didn’t expect the empty feel of the house.  My kids, when younger, asked the familiar question about pets being in Heaven.  I don’t know the answer.  Animals don’t have souls, but God gave us such a connection with them that I have to believe that there will be animals in Heaven.  Maybe not our pets in particular, but animals with which to continue to enjoy a bond.  Maybe even tigers and other such animals which we can’t be friendly with here.  That’s a fun thought.

 

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Home School Government

My home schooler is a senior this year and that means a semester of government.  We have a regular text book, but I wanted to have more than just a book.  By chance, my husband spotted a set of DVD’s entitled “Constitution Alive! (A Citizen’s Guide to the Constitution) with David Barton and Rick Green.  Perfect.  A detailed study of the Constitution would be a great supplement to the overall study of government.

We’ve used several of David Barton’s books over the past six years.  I like his work because he uses original sources for his information: documents, journals, correspondence, etc.  His research is based on facts, not someone’s interpretation of the facts.  This DVD set is living up to the rest of the materials I’ve read by him.

I’m watching the DVDs with my daughter and we are learning so much.  It all starts with pointing out specific charges laid against the king in the Declaration of Independence which are then answered in the Constitution, ensuring our government will not become a repeat of the king.  Right now we’re learning about the role of Congress, as spelled out by the founding fathers.  It’s an interesting study, to say the least.

I have to say it’s eye-opening to compare the original language to what currently takes place today.  My daughter has made several comments/observations and asked lots of questions as we’ve been watching these videos.  Personally, I want our future voters to know about our founding documents, I want them to think and question, and really find out who they are and what they feel about our country and the direction they feel it should be taking.

One thing she said was that it was great so many people vote.  When I told her that the average presidential election only had about a 30-40% voter turn out rate, her jaw literally dropped.  Her response was to question, “Then why do so many people complain about it when their candidate doesn’t win?”  Good question.

This is mostly in lecture format, filmed in Independence Hall with a small audience, and a small book comes with the DVDs.  My daughter and I learned some about the signers of the Declaration several years ago, but I’m starting to think we need to learn more.  They were quite an eclectic group of people, many self-educated.

I’m so happy we found this, and will probably encourage my son to watch it as well to enhance his public school class.

 

 

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Getting our Butts Kicked

My home schooled daughter was not looking forward to fulfilling her physical education requirement for high school.  We thought creatively and have taken part in a local walking program the last two summers, and this year are using a ballet conditioning dvd.  Sounds pretty and gentle right?

We do fifteen minutes of the dvd and it leaves our muscles burning.  I walked through the house later and it felt as if my legs were going to give out.  We usually can’t leave our arms up in the air as long as we’re supposed to.  We’re at the beginning, and are just doing as much as we can, hoping to get all of the repetitions and greater extensions as we continue.  I know from past experience that I will become more sore as the day progresses.

The great thing is, even though we complain all the way through what we can accomplish, my daughter is willing to consider doing it more frequently and hopefully become a bit more accustomed to the work.

I have tremendously increased respect for dancers.

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Delayed Plans

My to-do list and wish-do lists are always overflowing.  Summer was really chopped up and things which were supposed to happen then have been pushed along to fall.  The school year began, and now we’re sick.  Stupid cold season.  The cruds are all over town right now.

So what needs to be done?  Lots of lesson planning still.  I’m way behind what I normally am, and correcting is now adding into the daily mix.

Housework.  Housework.  Did I mention housework?  This is a weak area for me.  The goal is to clean or organize something above the normal routine each day, no matter how small the task.  The point is to keep moving forward.  Sickness put a temporary halt on that as doing a load of laundry had me sweating and exhausted.  Now I need to commit to this all over again.

My garden needs to be cut back for the winter and ideally new mulch will be added, provided any is still available.

The siding, windows, and screens need to be washed.

I need to get back in the habit of baking.  Last year I lost half of the day to taking my daughter to her vet class.  Time to get back to making waffles and breads.  My 14 year old son is still growing, and that brings quite an appetite.  Pumpkin bread for his lunches is on the agenda for today.

Sewing.  This is the year my middle gets the special gown for the church Christmas party.  Hers ought to be less complicated than her sister’s was, but that doesn’t make it less important.  Besides, my projects list and materials for said projects is overflowing.  I’m trying to ignore the JoAnn and Michael’s coupons which come, and am working to not care that I will soon drop off of the JoAnn flier list.  When I’m caught up I can sign up again, and still have access to coupons if I need a zipper, thread, or other item to finish a project.

Knitting.  I’m really, really, really, anxious to try making socks, but am trying to stay focused on practicing through making dishcloth size squares for an afghan.  I’ve been crocheting for since I was ten, and that helps with reading the patterns and working with the needles, but I’m still a beginner to knitting and need to be patient.

My mom keeps telling me that some day I’ll actually be bored and searching for projects.  I think that day is a lot further off than she realizes.

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Heaven Give me Strength!

I just did the laundry.  I have been trying to drill into my son’s head for years that he needs to check his pockets before putting pants in the wash.  (Still working on his dad, too!)  Many items have been fished out of the washer or dryer.  Today I found his brand new (bought it Friday) leather wallet with his school id card inside.  I’m waiting for the call at lunch time, when he needs this id to eat in the cafeteria.

I will not take the id to him, even though it’s only a ten minute drive.

He is supposed to clean out his pockets.

He knows he needs this id card at all times at school.

The wallet is leather, brand new, and he asked for it.

I’m sick and left the grocery store with only half of what I needed to purchase because I finally gave up trying to get the task done.

The room that I cleaned everything off of the floor just a few days ago?  New things are on the floor, tags from the new dress pants stuck onto the bookcase, and no containers sorted through yet.

I just might need a whole relaxation store to get through the next few years.

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