One Crazy Ride

It’s been months since I last wrote.  Corona virus shut states down and all my chicks came home to roost and deal with the resulting stress.  My oldest no longer likes to come home from University, preferring her friends to us, so she was stressed over being home.  My middle has a hard time with change and had just found her groove with college classes then they were on line and one night she started screaming in frustration.  My youngest is in high school and had next to nothing to do for a month while his sisters were tied up with school (bored).  Then his school finally kicked into gear just as the girls finished.  Enter his stress.

My husband has been working from his basement office through all of this and we are thankful that his job has continued, but while he was finishing his on-line masters it was rough to only come out of the basement for meals.

Then came May 19, when one dam collapsed and another had enough damage to let all of it’s water out further down the same river…and my mother-in-law’s house had three feet of water invade.  Since that night, she’s been living with us.  My oldest gave up her bedroom and moved to the front living room, sleeping on the couch (which is comfortable, thankfully).

MIL has next to no money, in good part thanks to the bum who never payed alimony or child support and emptied all of the bank accounts at the time of divorce, including my husband’s savings (eleven years old, birthday and Christmas gifts).  She’s worked hard and budgeted since that time, but never got to a fully comfortable place and rented until she moved here.  Her car was destroyed by the flood as well.

With all of the home demo and repair going on, I mostly shuttled my oldest to and from work, then took her car shopping (which I highly detest, even if it is for me).  We found something quickly and that burden lifted, but MIL doesn’t want to look for a car yet, so I’m still her driver.

A small getaway with my mom had been planned for the end of April, and because of shutdowns and other matters was delayed until mid June.  Just as I was about to walk out the door, my oldest got an email from her school.  This was going to be her third year working in a job which paid room and board.  The email stated that because of all of the Covid hassle, this would no longer be the case.  Now they would be paid an hourly wage, but they would not say how many hours a week, nor what the hourly wage would be, but please let us know in a week.

I went to see my mom and we had a grand time just the two of us, but a lot of the drama still went with me.

Now, in the midst of the chaos of six people sharing the house, my oldest is packing to move out completely (two years left of school).  She has her car, found roommates, just signed a lease, and then became indignant that her father couldn’t just take the day off of work that she decided she wanted to move.  She’s paying an extra month’s rent so that one girl can get out of her parent’s house that much quicker, but balked at having to rent a truck to move her bedroom furniture.  We don’t have a vehicle big enough, and multiple trips are not an option.

Adding to all of this, the bathroom renovation that had been slated to start in March finally began last week.  Six people, one shower.  Thank Heaven it’s summer and schedules are more flexible.

I’ve had my laundry taken out of the washer while I waited (for an hour or two while he got up and showered) for my son’s clothes to fill the load.  I have a doctor’s appointment this morning before which I’m all of a sudden taking MIL to a hair appointment, and she asked if her appointment could be ten minutes after mine started.  Mine’s a bit more important and I’m dropping you off at the original time agreed upon.

She’s starting to drive me batty.  Not because she’s an awful person.  I like her, I just want my normal routine and quiet back.  I want to be alone sometimes, not always have to fill time with chat.  She stood watching me last night while I was preparing a pita bread thing for dinner last night.  Not talking, just watching.  She does that kind of thing with DH too.  He’s also ready for her house to be ready, but we still need plumbing, HVAC, floors, insulation, drywall, nearly everything.  I’m praying that we’ll be finished by Labor Day weekend.  School starts back up at the end of August for both my middle and youngest and I’ll be running them around.  I’m really hoping MIL looks for and finds a car by then.

Things will ease up a little when my oldest moves out.  It’s the attitude which we won’t miss and the attitude leaving which will allow us to breathe a bit easier.

Our usual vacation is not happening as we need to spend the time and, frankly, the money on MIL’s house.  DH is shouldering the burden of that house.  MIL leans on him hard, and he is the contact for nearly everything being done.  When she moves back, we’re going to need some kind of getaway.  He’s bummed because vacation was going to be to attend a graduation for his master’s degree.  Maybe later.  They’re being flexible since so many of the graduation ceremonies were canceled because of corona virus.

I’m so ready for normalcy, but I don’t think that’s coming any time soon.

Posted in children, corona virus, family, flood, in-laws, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m Not Cleaning

We’re all supposed to be keeping our homes ultra clean, wiping doorknobs and faucets at least once a day, etc.  Well, I am not following that advice.  My home looks the same as it did when the whole stay-at-home stuff began.

Projects are being scratched off my list left and right, however.

What have I finished?  (I’m going to tell on myself in this list as well.)

  • four crocheted market bags
  • several crocheted Christmas balls, they still need to be starched
  • an insulated bottle sling for myself – the old one only fit a 16 ounce bottle, this will hold a twenty ounce bottle- I started it about two years ago
  • I’ve worked on my cotton Renaissance dress and have just figured out how to adjust the bodice while cutting the pieces out to fit better – the sleeves are almost finished and the skirt panels are sewn together
  • knit pajama shorts for myself – the fabric was washed three years ago
  • a face mask so I don’t scare other shoppers at the store
  • a twin sized denim and cotton blanket made of all recycled fabrics
  • two beaded cross stitch magnets which have been waiting for three years

Pathetic how these projects have been waiting so long for completion, but even more pathetic that I have a bunch more items on my list.

I have a problem.

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The Stay at Home Order

These are historic times.  We have never before shut our country down over a virus.  Granted, this virus has killed people and will continue to kill people, which is always a tragedy.  That said, we have had much more serious pandemics run through and not had anywhere near the same panic.

First, our college age daughters were switched from physical classrooms to turning on their computers.  That was a difficult switch for my middle, who loves routine like nobody’s business.  My oldest is considered part of the housing staff at her university and stayed until the campus ordered everyone home a week ago.  My son, a high school student, has been home for two weeks, this third week being their scheduled spring break.  Rumor is strong (the superintendent’s office spreading it as well) that our governor will shortly close school for the remainder of the school year.

My husband has been working from home for three weeks now as well.

My eldest crumpled into a fetal ball against me and bawled.  She hasn’t snuggled into me for any reason in perhaps ten years.  My son has fought frustration bordering on anger at not being able to go to school.  My middle child burst out screaming last night.

We live in the middle of the country and have a home large enough for everyone to have a place to work alone, as well as a good sized yard.  My son helped me plant hydrangeas one afternoon, and we’ve done a few other outdoor things.  We have cats which provide fuzz therapy.  We are mostly home-bodies who don’t need to be on the go all the time.  Our church has been streaming services for years, so that was already in place, but we miss our church family.  We don’t normally eat out more than once a week.  We’ve been taking neighborhood walks.

Yet here we are, fighting the stress of HAVING to stay home.  No new library books.  No butterfly house (a yearly March highlight for my middle).  My eldest had to part with her boyfriend, possibly for another month.  No woodshop or blacksmith class for my son.  They were half way in to the blacksmith class.

Having home schooled my middle, I’m in the midst of planning the last marking period for my son.  It won’t be graded and I won’t be pulling him out of public school, but if the school year is finished, I don’t want his education to suffer any more than it has.  Some teachers have assigned minor tasks, but nothing graded or involved.  I can’t let an entire marking period go idle.  He understands, but is starting to worry a bit.  He’s in French 2 and I don’t speak French, but wouldn’t you know that it’s a language I want to learn and purchased a Living Language course for last year?  It won’t be the same as his class, but it’s better than nothing.

My son got a bit freaked when he saw the assignment sheets and read that English and Literature are two different subjects with my class and I’ve lined up four books for him to read plus some Sherlock Holmes.  He used to ask to be home schooled (it wasn’t the best option for him at the time).  He’s about to find out what his sister experienced.

Somehow, we’ll get to the other side of this craziness.

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It seems that I’ve taken an unplanned hiatus from this blog.  I’ve been trying to keep to my resolve of working on the project list.  Currently I’m working on two things at the same time.  One is a new Renaissance dress for myself.  It’s more fun when we all dress up.  This past summer I realized that cotton will be much cooler.  It’s mostly cut out, but I need to adjust the bodice pieces.

Along side the dress, I’ve been working on a denim blanket for my sensory child.  I had a stack of jeans headed for the trash and now I have a stack of circles.  I’m using a pattern which I’ve seen called a ‘cathedral’ window.  Now I need to cut a stack of squares to set inside the circles.  The blanket is a lot of work, but I love that I’ve saved a stack of jeans from the trash and can use scraps from my stash for the rest of the blanket.

Every year I make a renewed effort to complete projects on me list.  If I keep making the effort, I might make some good progress.  The crochet projects are tougher as I have carpel tunnel which is aggravated by driving and I’m driving my middle to and from her college classes.  I’ve asked her to try to take her classes at the branch in our town next fall to help me out.  I’m really hopeful that she’ll be able to find the classes she wants/needs.

DH and I have been spending a lot of time shopping for the bathroom remodel.  The good thing is that we’re finding businesses we will deal with when it comes time for the kid’s bathroom.  It will save some time.  The biggest decisions have been made, but there’s a lot yet to do.  One frustration we’ve had is that many home fixture businesses don’t have Saturday or evening hours.  DH can only take so much time off of work to make these decisions.  We’ve also found that the businesses recommended by our contractor act as if it’s a guarantee that we’ll be purchasing from them.  That’s a big turn off for us.   I wonder if these businesses would be surprised to find out that we won’t even consider them next time.

DH and I are continuing to transition our parenting role in regards to our eldest.  She’s in her third year of college, and at the stage where we know nothing and she knows everything.  We’re trying to keep our mouths shut a lot more than we’d like.  She shuts down when we step beyond the shallow waters of the events of her life.  It feels like we’ve been walking on glass around her for about a year now.  Will it ever get easier?  Probably not.

Now I’m off to cut triangles from my scrap stash and keep moving forward on the list.

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Technology in the Home

My husband loves his gadgets, and for Christmas decided to treat himself to smart light bulbs.  I don’t know their actual term, I just know that I hate them.

He kept trying to convince me that I really wanted these things.  I kept telling him that I didn’t.  We can have colors, he said.  I don’t want colors, I replied.

The light bulbs arrived and I came home to a pink living room.  He saw my face, and declared that he at least thought I’d give it a chance.  I was in no way weak in stating how much I didn’t want my light bulbs controlled by a phone app, and definitely did not want colors.  Sorry.  You don’t get to be indignant that I don’t want these forced down my throat.

Then came the 5:25 am wake up when a lamp turned on in our bedroom – before the alarm clock went off.  When was I going to be asked if I was okay waking up rudely to a light?  The morning before it was on for an hour and a half before he rolled out of bed.  Thankfully, I had gotten up five minutes before it turned on or the bulb may have been dropped on cement.

He keeps trying to tell me how much I like these lights.  He even joked that with enough time he’ll wear me down to the point where I’m good with the whole house like this.

Tech geeks, please listen to your spouses on these things.  We have a good marriage, but I’m seething over this issue, and we may have a Mount Vesuvius moment coming.

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Soak in the Season

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I can’t complain too greatly about lack of time to post.  The blog was displaced by good things: working on my fictional writing, getting back into my sewing stack, hosting Thanksgiving – my mom actually made the trip to us!, decorating for Christmas, getting the ball rolling on our bathroom remodel, etc.  It’s been a good busy.

I’d been struggling with the Christmas cards, even though I cut sending cards to friends at church these past couple of years due to holiday stress.  This morning I finally finished the letter and got it printed.  Last night I wrote the insides of the cards – it’s a small personal touch that I don’t want to omit.  Tonight DH is going to print the picture of the kids for me and tomorrow the mail carrier will groan when they open our mailbox.

We have a date to go to Mom’s for Christmas, and she will have all six grandchildren together again this year.  My kids have been warned that lots of pictures will be taken any time this happens.  The eldest is 25, the next is in the military and hoping for an overseas appointment, the next is a junior in college, etc.  We don’t know how often they’ll all be able to come at the same time as their lives progress.

Mom pointed out that she doesn’t have any pictures from last year and asked if I would bring her some prints.  She doesn’t pull her camera out.  Dad was the one who took pictures.  I have a small variety of pictures on order for her – yay for free shipping from Shutterfly!  Hopefully she’ll like what I chose.

Most of the Christmas goodies have been purchased.  I start watching the sales in November as it all adds up quickly.  DH wants crab legs for Christmas dinner but they are still pretty high in cost.  It’s cheaper than Red Lobster, but still.  I never thought I’d be okay preparing seafood for DH, and I doubt that I do it properly, but he’s happy to get it and doesn’t complain.

The shopping is finished and mostly wrapped.  The choir cantata at church is next Sunday night, then I don’t have to worry about catching a cold.  It’s also kind of tiring, but still fun.  The baking hasn’t started, but I like while I don’t like to cook, I do like to bake.  DD2 only has one more day of classes, then I get three weeks off from driving her to and fro.  DD1 comes home Friday.  It’s just about time to sit back and simply enjoy the season.

That really is the reason I work to get things finished early.  Yes, I’m a planner, but I learned a long time ago that it’s better for me if I get an early jump on Christmas things so I’m not so caught up in checking things off my list that I can’t sit back and just enjoy everything.

Soak it all in: the time with family, the lights, the church programs, the whole reason we celebrate, and all of your personal traditions.  It’s okay to let go of a few things if you need to.

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We’ve had light snows, one of which even stayed around for a day, but this one dropped at least three inches and has the trees sagging.  It’s beautiful, but the roads are slippery.  Hopefully everyone slows down a little and remembers their winter driving skills.

Our city lets us rake leaves into the streets (they’re wide enough) then they come through with a special tractor which pushes the piles into trucks.  The leaves then get dumped into a natural area (which the city owns) to decompose.  Too bad they didn’t start picking the leaves up until this past Monday.  Now they will be gathering the leaves with the snow on top, and many will be frozen to the roads.  Oops.

I’m so glad that DH and the kids got most of our leaves to the curb last weekend, and we got burlap where it needed to be to protect our more delicate plants.

Our furnace has decided to retire, but so far is letting us limp along.  We can run it about three times a day, which keeps us warm enough.  We generally keep the house at 65, and we have lots of blankets so we’re okay.  We’re hoping the furnace will continue to work this much until next Friday, when the new furnace will be installed.  The current furnace is thirty three years old, so it’s been a good one, and at least the cold weather just began.

I joked that this next week would be a good time to do lots of baking.  It does help to keep the house warmer and the holidays are coming.  The drawer in the deep freeze for my son’s lunch breads needs to be refilled as well.  I got mini pumpkin bread loaves made yesterday and banana bread is next.  DS thinks it so funny that he has a whole freezer drawer dedicated to his lunches.

We’ve got someone working on another estimate for our bathrooms.  The last estimate didn’t break out the individual costs even though we asked for it.  This estimate will be broken out the was we want.  We have expensive tastes and will need to be able to adjust our choices down to our budget.  Unless something unforeseen happens, this will be the only time we renovate these bathrooms.  We want to do them right.

The expense of renovation is a little scary.  We have a home equity loan lined up, but we worked hard to pay the house off early and now we’ll have house debt again.  The house is simply at the point where it needs updating.  It was built in 1987 and the only updates have been done by us.  After the bathroom work is paid off, it will be time to look at the kitchen.  Builder grade cabinetry doesn’t hold up well.  I don’t want stainless steel appliances, but solid wood cabinets are important.  Again, I only want to remodel the kitchen once.

We’ll keep working on taking the popcorn ceilings down and replacing bedroom lights and flooring as possible.

Of course, I need to keep working on cleaning/organizing/paring down.  Yesterday saw a load of old sheets go to the animal shelter.  DD2 and I also spent time loving on the cats.  It’s important that we don’t do this too often, though, because there are so many loving kitties who climb on you, nuzzle, purr, etc.  We could have adopted the whole room.  DH and our current kitties would have had something to say about that.

I’m hearing the evil magician from Frosty the Snowman saying “Busy, busy, busy!”  Guess I’d better get to it.

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The Holidays are Upon Us

My middle and I attended a holiday open house at Pier 1 this afternoon.  This store is her happy place, and I can admit that I like a lot of their inventory as well.  She won one of the gift cards they were giving away!  Everyone likes to win.  They told her the wrong amount of the card and she didn’t bring any money, so I paid the balance.  Of course I would have preferred that she had been told the correct amount, but the difference wasn’t too big.

We attended this same event last year, too.  It’s fun to poke around and get inspiration.  I could go crazy with Christmas decor if it weren’t for a few factors.

1. Money to pay for all of what I would like.

2. Space to store the items after the holiday.

3. My cats destroying the items while displayed for the holiday.

4. Driving my family nuts with a house decorated within an inch of its life.

I may attempt some home made items based on today’s inspirations.  I saw a pillow with evergreen trees which had gold beads for pine cones.  It was simple and elegant.  Add another project to the list.  (This is why I’ll never finish!)  There were several pretty table runners/decorations as well.  Two issues with a runner: my table is an oval, and my cats would pull on anything dangling over the edge.   I could, however, quilt an oval centerpiece and even add some bling.  Another project.

Several years ago I quilted some simple dark green place mats to try out hand quilting and dress the table for Christmas at the same time.  A couple of those are showing signs of wear.  Another project: new place mats.  Fortunately the napkins are still good.

When will I learn that while I love attending events like this, it’s just not healthy for me?  Oh, did I mention that I’m going to go tour a older home when it’s decked out for the season?  I’m sure I won’t find any inspiration there.

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More Chores

The effort to catch up continues.  I know that I’ll probably never be fully caught up, but it’s a guarantee that you can’t reach the finish line if you drop out of the race.

I tackled the shed.  Oh boy did that need it.  There is still quite a bit of dirt on the floor, but my push broom couldn’t get in between the studs too well and my regular broom was covered with a sheet to attack the spider webs.  One corner remains to be handled.  I began removing scrap wood to clean – wood with mouse droppings on it.  It was a happy moment.  Anyway, two layers down I noticed the nesting material between the wood pile and the wall.  Thankfully, DH okayed me throwing out all of the wood scraps to take away mouse home potential.  We can put out larger items once a month for trash pick up, so chewed upon boxes of scraps as well as the loose scraps will go then.  I really hope no mouse comes running out of that nesting material.  I’m really hoping it’s an old nest.  I’m really going to have my son help me.

Each additional area cleaned makes me feel as if I’m getting somewhere.  What I need to spend copious amounts of time on, however, is my sewing stack.  The cats will have to be kicked out of my room while I’m cutting out patterns.  They won’t take that kindly, but they live to attack the fabric.  Last night I was cutting up the stack of old jeans set aside for a future jean quilt.  My lap was the most popular place on the planet.  One cat kept batting at my scissors.  I gave them a couple of seams from the legs.  It will take a while for the kitties to destroy those seams.

My sensory daughter wants the jean quilt for it’s heft.  My mom is giving her a weighted blanket for Christmas, but when posed with the question of “If you get a weighted blanket…”, the answer was yes she still wants the jeans.  If she’s not careful, she just might pile so much weight on herself that she crushes herself.  We’ll have to have some sensible guidelines, but it’s not as if this quilt will be constructed soon.  Too many projects are in line in front of it, and I don’t know if I have enough material for the front yet.  Pinterest is providing inspiration for the design in the mean time.

Christmas shopping for the kids is almost finished, and I’ve done a good amount of wrapping.  DH is taking care of his Mom’s gift this year, and I’ve got a good start on my own mom.  Other than that, I have one nephew to shop for (our family rule is that once kids graduate from high school, they are out of the gift pool), and I take the leftovers from the list he gives Mom.  I had an idea for my cousin’s daughter last year and scooped up a Spirograph during clearance.  I try to go for creativity oriented items.

Our moms are frequently asking for more ideas for the kids.  My middle is the easiest because she’s interested in so many different things.  My oldest sent me a list with eight items on it – to also be shared with grandparents.  Three of the items were CD’s.  I’ve had to prompt her a few more times.  My son has next to no ideas.  Sigh.  I love that my kids aren’t overly materialistic, but it makes for tough shopping at Christmas.

Back to chores.  The basement needs a major clean/reorganization, but is in a state of chaos with the mouse situation.  We’re still getting them in the traps, so many items are in plastic boxes, taking up additional space.  DH hasn’t been able to find an entry point, so we’re both of the theory that they came in through the holes in the chimney plywood before it was fixed.  I hope that’s the case and that we can get rid of the current residents.  I’d love to start a major clean up, but don’t know how much DH will be okay with me moving his things around.

DH is busy with his Master’s degree, which is why I tackled the garage and the shed alone.  I will be so glad when this degree is finished.  Of course I support my husband, but it’s tough to have life revolve around this degree work.  He found time to get away for a photography outing and then for a visit to his alma mater, but there are also things which really need him around the house.  He took a vacation day last week to deal with leaves, and thankfully they’re almost fully down.  I’ve raked some, but my arms/shoulders are still recovering from whatever I did to strain them, and it’s tough.  My son helps when he can but school is priority number one.  My daughter flakes out pretty quickly with shoveling and raking.  Whether real or dramatic, it amounts to the same thing.

We’ve got an appointment for an estimate on remodeling two bathrooms.  I’m a bit concerned that we’ll find out that our moisture problem is actually the bad mold.  One way or another, I’ll feel more at ease after the dry wall is ripped out and replaced.

I found a taker for a coat my son never needed.  He went through a number of coats in elementary school, and I had a clearance coat ready for the next zipper breakage, or whatever, and it never came.  That’s okay.  It was a small amount spent, is now a blessing to another family, and is out of our closet.

Small cleaning/tidying tasks add up over time.  I just need to keep plodding along.

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I just got my first attempt at sourdough bread from my own wild caught yeast starter set to proof over night.  A friend gave me some of her starter a few years ago, but I didn’t keep it up as I should of.  We’ll see how the bread turns out tomorrow, but I’m hopeful.

Today got the plants around the house cut down for the season and then the yard waste bin had room for some of the leaves waiting for pick up.  This is the time of year when the bin is full every week, or I feel it’s a waste.  The last of the weed killing cardboard has been pulled out of the garden, and tomorrow I hope to clean the shed and apply spider killing spray.  Next year I’ll plant mint around the shed to keep bugs and mice out more naturally, but the spiders have been celebrating quite hard this summer and must be driven out.  They’ve kept the kids from their bikes.

Saturday I worked on cleaning the garage.  I was too tired to spray for spiders, but the trash can is full of dirt and spider webs and the shelves are more organized.

DH and I think we’ve found the general area where the mice are entering the house.  A bit of insulation on the workroom wall provided a big hint.  It does seem to be somewhere around the chimney, and thankfully DH plans to inspect and seal it this weekend.

When I set the sourdough to proof, I realized that I need to step up my plans to make fabric covers for the bowls.  I need a cover which will stay taught and keep inquisitive cats out of the dough.  The towels I usually use won’t cut it.  Another chore for the list.

I’ve been working to keep up with the house and in general trying to be a better home keeper, but it seems as if the chores keep multiplying.  I don’t have enough time or energy for everything I want to do, but I just need to keep at it.


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