Showing posts with label domestic miscellany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label domestic miscellany. Show all posts

Saturday, January 20

The Birthday Outing

So, it was 11 degrees on Em's birthday. Not inside, obviously, (thankfully) but just knowing it's that cold has an impact. We didn't even get dressed until noon. So, the manicure and the lunch with the boys will have to wait.

BUT, we did go out that day, and we fed her little heart.

First, we went to Anthropologie. I don't shop there. Mainly, because I have very little money. And I have to explain what I've done with it, which would be very hard to do if I spent the entire grocery budget on a throw pillow and a new coffee mug. However, I knew that it would satisfy an aspect of her heart to just BE in that environment. To see things that were designed with an aesthetic that she appreciates. To touch fabrics you don't find at Target or Kohl's, and to peer into designs that are inspired by something bigger than things close to home. To be inspired by what can be done when you have a vision.

We were there for an hour and a half, folks. An hour and a half in a tiny store, and she was not bored for a second. She was awed, and she was thrilled, and she was just quietly enthralled. I followed her around, letting her explain everything to me.

"Mom, feel this bead pattern, now feel this one. See how they feel different?" (For the record, no. My hands are calloused and I hadn't thawed out from the walk to the store yet. But I listened, and smiled, because she was showing me how she experiences the world.)

"Oh, look how they get different results with different knots. Also, they used knots. That's brilliant."

"Ohhhhh, squeeze this. Just grab it in your hands. Isn't that fantastic?"

"We need to find out where you can get this fabric and make one of these."

"Did you touch that plate? You should. It's amazing."

She comes to a dead stop. "Sniff, right here. Do you smell that? What is that?" So we sniffed around and couldn't find the source. We asked an employee to help us find it. She couldn't, either. We have no idea what we were smelling, but it was Stop You In Your Tracks lovely.

Then, we headed to Justice, where she got what I can only describe as her Tween Uniform.


It's adorable. Blessedly, they have a lot of decent, cute stuff this year. It's not an Anthropologie wardrobe, but it works. The ladies who work there were so kind and fun. They made the visit enjoyable. She got a water bottle that the boys won't steal and lose. She got some leggings and some t-shirts. We laughed and poked around. It was a very different vibe, but just as fun.

And now, she is 12. Gosh.

I haven't said it in a while, because (obviously) they aren't babies anymore, but still ...

Kiss those babies!

~ Dy


Tuesday, January 9

Buddy the Dog, Juvenile Offender

Well, he's not really a juvenile; he's eight. But it's like having an obnoxious, rebellious Eddie Haskell in the house, lately.

He actually isn't adjusting to city life very well, at all. I'm not sure what's up with him. He digs being more of an indoor dog, but he just loves to get out of the fence. The maintenance guys haven't found a way to secure it that he can't undo. (We'll keep trying, though.) I'd love for him to be able to have more free time outside, but as of right now, he can't be out there unsupervised, at all. When we let him out to relieve himself, he'll do his thing, then head straight for the fence line. He'll glance back and if he sees one of us watching, he'll sit. Not ready to come in, and he doesn't want to play. He just wants to sit there, looking innocent. You can stand there and watch him for half an hour and he'll not move, just sit and keep glancing back at you. We've then moved to observe from a spot he doesn't know we're at, and the moment he sees you've left your observation spot, he trots straight to the fence to get out. If you call him, even with the most innocent tone, "Hey, Bud, what'cha doing?" He scrambles like mad to go back to a neutral spot with his head down, again trying to look innocent.

He's also turned into a total trash panda in the house, even when there's no food stuffs. He's never gotten into the trash before. He's started hoarking food from the table (again, never been a thing in his life), and I caught him up on the counter in the kitchen the other morning. On the counter! It's like having a cat. A 65-pound cat. Nobody wants a 65-pound cat! We've gotten much better about securing all temptations (along the same lines of setting them up to succeed), but with six of us here (three of us being fairly young, still), something occasionally falls through the cracks. He pounces on those opportunities like an entrepreneur at a seminar. We can't even keep the candy bowl on the coffee table anymore (something we've had for his entire life, and he's never once even stuck his nose in it). I got up one morning last week to find he'd sampled all the Lik-em-aid packets in the bowl. Blue powder all over the carpet!

He surprised us with a new trick yesterday. Aunt B and Aunt Sally arrived and came for supper, so we got to visit for a bit. Buddy got to visit with Toby and CW (Aunt B's pups), which he loved, but then, out of nowhere, he decided he needed to go ahead and mark John (or rather, John's things) as HIS, just in case the interlopers got any bright ideas. So he had to spend the rest of the visit outside (and, of course, he immediately got out and came around to the front porch to watch through the living room window the entire visit). Not so much fun. This is not something he's ever done before. We've had dogs (male and female, spayed/neutered and intact) come and stay for hours, days, even weeks on end, and that hasn't been an issue, ever. Why now? I don't know.

Anyway, we've had him checked at the vet and he's healthy. He's eating fine. He stays hydrated, but doesn't appear to have excessive thirst. All his physical traits are rock solid and healthy. He has no interest in chew toys or balls or other things of that sort. He's definitely not bored. We spend a ton of time with him - both play and training.

He does listen much better, in general. Em can even walk him on a slack lead now, which is fantastic. She said if she needs to get something out of her satchel or take a drink of water, she can lay the lead across his back and he just maintains the same distance while she tends to whatever she needs. Then she can take the lead back up when she's done. (Jase has not had the same experience yet. Buddy mostly walks him. But that's not new.) The toy poodles up the road terrify him, but the neighbor's dogs don't phase him. He loves to visit the housing office, and he's not aggressive toward anyone or any thing.

He just waits until he thinks nobody is looking to get into trouble. He also knows pretty straight up when he's not doing the right thing, and he'll backpedal just as quickly as he can if he hears you coming. Basically, he's developing some low-level juvenile offender tendencies and we have no idea what to do about it.

I guess, in the big picture of things, if someone in my house had to become a bit of an obnoxious vandal, I'm glad it's the dog and not one of the kids. There is that. Have you ever had that happen? Any insights, or things we might look for that we haven't thought of?

Be encouraged!

Dy


Monday, January 8

Five Minutes Until I Go

James got up early to air up the tire in the Highlander for me before I leave this morning. That is such a gift! I know he probably doesn't think so, but it is. (The tire's got a slow leak that's just this side of the tread, so they can't legally plug it. *Cue grouchy old lady noises, "In my day..." *waves cane*) But anyway, it's on the payday list of Stuff That Needs Attending - which is not nearly as much fun to make as, say Grocery Lists, or Birthday Lists, but it's very important.)

**************************************************************************

And then, I had to go. Spent too much time sipping coffee instead of typing, I guess.

That was Friday morning? Saturday? I don't remember. But now it's Sunday night. The week is over. We made it. I am so stinking proud of these kids. They're rolling into the Spring semester with gusto, and they've made this single parenting gig a relative cake walk. It's still about zero fun, but at least it's not a logistical nightmare, as well.

The house is freakishly quiet, and cold. I should go to bed, but I don't want to climb into a chilly bed. Should have asked for a hot water bottle or an electric blanket for Christmas.

Between the move and the job, The Nutcracker and the flu, we never made it to the beach house to see The Aunts. That made me inordinately sad. Then, Aunt B texted to say they were on their way home and planned to swing by! Oh, I'm so glad! We'll made some delicious food, and crack open some delicious wine, and visit. I can't wait to hear about their winter beach adventures!

On that note, though, I have got to get to bed. Sundays are long sometimes. I should sleep well.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Friday, January 5

Some days start earlier than others ...

I grabbed a transcription file yesterday - a nice, long, difficult one, since I didn't have any outside work coming up, and I figured I could work on it at my leisure throughout the day and really make sure it was tight. I love that feeling, when you know you've done a job spot on. It wasn't due until 11 today, so that was perfect.

Then I got a text last night - can I fill in a shift for someone who can't make it in the morning? Of course I can. (This is a really wonderful position, working with a truly delightful lady, and I am so thankful for having these beautiful people in our life.)

About an hour later, it hit me. I just bumped my transcription deadline up by four hours because I'd have to leave the house by 7:00. 😨 Well, that wasn't particularly brilliant. What can I say? I'm new at this.

So after dinner, I tasked the children with putting the living space to rights before they turned in, and I slipped off to bed super early. I was up and wide awake this morning at 2:30, and was able to finish the job and submit it in time to leave for work!

I need a GIF for that. It's definitely more Mr. Magoo than Wonder Woman, but you know, mostly it's about appreciation for having opportunities and being able to find ways to make things work, honor our commitments, and live a rich, healthy life.

What absolutely made my day, though, was getting texts from the older boys. "Do you mind if I take the Littles to Skate Day?" and "I'm taking Jacob to the movie." Oh! Well done, boys! Wow.

Got home to find John studying, and the house picked up. That's like Second Christmas for a mom!

So, to celebrate, we're sitting very still and not moving for a little bit. Just taking stock of the good things in the day ... It got above freezing for a few minutes today. That was exciting. (It's about to dip way back down, though, so the faucets are staying on.) ... Z is doing well - we talked this morning and he described the Sandias in the morning sunlight - I can't wait to see that again! ... School is back up and running, ballet, theater, Bible study ... There's coffee. (It's a little thing, but it's a thing, and I appreciate it.)

Not every season is going to be easy. Sometimes the seasons that you think will do you in turn out to be the easiest of the challenging parts of your life, and you'd love to go back and do them again with the knowledge you have currently. (It's like doing 1st grade math when you're in 6th grade, and you laugh and laugh that you'd been so frustrated when you first learned it. If you do find yourself feeling like that, wishing for the exhaustion of toddlers, or the "busyness" of playdates and field trips to the zoo, give yourself some kudos for having come far enough to do that. That's good stuff. You've got this.) And then, take stock of the good things. They're there in plenty.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Tuesday, January 2

On Moving. Again.

So, while John and I were basking in the dry, cool mountain air of New Mexico this past July, Z was at home, clearly panicking at the thought of living here forever. Possibly without me. (The fear of me dying is kind of a constant with him. It was always there, but got markedly worse with the cancer. Single parenting for a month rather exacerbated the whole thing. Understandable.)

So he went off plan and applied for a slew of jobs in New Mexico that month. (The deal has always been Colorado, or we stay here.) When I got back into signal range and read the job postings he'd forwarded to me, I started praying ...

"Lord, please not Alamogordo." (I have NOTHING against Alamogordo, for the record. It's a vibrant, neat little town with a strong Classical education community, and a ballet company. It could be a great place to live. But I have always maintained that if he worked in Alamogordo, I wanted to live in High Rolls or Cloudcroft, both of which just wash my mountain-loving soul in cool air and pine trees. I haven't had cool air and pine trees since 2003. But that would put us right back to living in the country and having to drive into town every. single. day. That thought kind of made me cry. Actually, it totally made me queasy.)

That job fell through. Thank you, Lord!

"Lord, Socorro? Really? This needs to be discussed?" (I've never lived in Socorro, and I'm sure we could make it work. NM Tech is there, and it's fantastic. It's not too far from the Bosque. There's a lot to commend it. But, again with the driving to get the kids to the things they do. And there are no mountains there to soothe the process. Sorry, Socorro, but I was actively praying against that one.)

That job fell through.

"Albuquerque? Well, Lord, you know I'd love it. And you know the kids would love it. We both know Z probably isn't going to love it. He might grow to like it ... I don't know. But, if it's gotta happen, then it's gotta happen. Your call." (It's ALWAYS His call. I know this. But he says to ask for what we want, and I'm taking Him at face value on that.)

So, Albuquerque it is.

We all hate to leave our people here. One of my biggest requests is that we have a home large enough that we can be a destination point for loved ones to come and see the West, stay with us, and allow us to repay the generosity and love they've shared with us.

The older boys may stay. James will, for sure. He's surviving college. He loves his job. He loves our church. He seldom gets lost when he's driving. He'll be 20 this year (oh, gosh, HOW?), so it seems there's not much point for him in uprooting to start over again.

John's measuring his options and seeing what he can see. He's 17. This is a good time to do that.

Jacob would gladly move in with someone from the ballet school to stay here, but since that's not an option, we've given him room to be morose, and then encouragement to embrace what he can about it. He plans to come back, perhaps for his Senior Year, to dance here. I'm okay with leaving that on the table. It'll be here before either of us know it, and who knows what he'll want to do then? But in the meantime, having that on the table gives him hope and frees him up to enjoy dancing in New Mexico without feeling like he's being unfaithful to his beloved HBC. I love his loyal, passionate heart.

Em and Jase are basically holding their breath and not making eye contact. They don't know what to expect. They haven't particularly enjoyed all the change and upheaval to date, and it's not what they would choose, but they're still young enough that if I promise them a good adventure, they'll trust that it's a good adventure. (Jase finds this exciting. I should, however, have chosen a different word for Em - an adventure is the last thing she hopes for. Ever. Oops. Still learning with that one!)

And so, our Alabama adventure appears to be drawing to a close. It's something we've known was coming for the last seven years, but truthfully, it came as a surprise. This is such a wonderful place to live, with so much available, and so many wonderful things in life here. It's hard to imagine another place that has so much to love as North Alabama does. Twelve and a half years of living will do that to a person, though. It's good. It's been good.

And the next chapter of our lives will also be good.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Monday, January 1

So, what do you do with all your extra time?

And I thought I'd be able to write more once we moved! That's so cute!


We're moved in. We're loving life Five Minutes From Everything. It's truly very nice. The boys appreciate the extra study time for school, the extra bits of sleep in the mornings, and the ability to pop out to a movie or coffee with friends, or Bible study without having to pack a full daypack and hydration bladder to make it happen. The Nutcracker performance week, and tech week leading up to it, were smooth and efficient and wonderful.

Personally, I'm loving the ability to call housing if there's mold, or if something breaks, and these delightful men arrive within an hour to fix it. There's no having to put it in the budget, shop around for parts, and then carve out time to make it happen. I really, really love our maintenance team!

That said, Z got a job offer ... Out West. New Mexico. (I'll write about that whole set up at another time.) The offer came in shortly after we'd signed the lease on base. It's a good move, with promotion potential. It puts him closer to family, able to help out more often, and it might even afford him a path to Colorado one day (something that just isn't an option from here). It made sense for him to take it. He expected a start date in the Spring, but they had the day before Thanksgiving (this Thanksgiving) in mind. Uh, no? What? No relocation package, and you want us to move when? Uh-uh. He negotiated to start the second week in December, though, which bought us a little time to finish all the things on the Forever Home. (New carpet, new back deck, replaced the flooring in the kitchen, installed a lovely new exterior door in the master bedroom, and the Holy Grail of my last five years, the beadboard ceiling in the kitchen/living area! It's gorgeous!) Then he left. *poof* He's staying with his brother and sister-in-law, who were so very gracious to open their home to him. The kids and I will follow sometime this Summer.

We couldn't uproot and go right now. James is going to stay behind. He has a wonderful job, and he's survived the first semester of college (he has no humanities this coming semester, so he'll likely knock out a 4.0 on that one). But he was staying at home and commuting - we couldn't shuffle him into the dorms at the last minute. John's pursuing his EMT certification, and we couldn't just yank him out of that. And Jacob is dancing with the Junior Company for the Huntsville Ballet (this is the first step in their pre-professional study track, and he is wholly committed to it). He might just turn into a real, live Gollum if we pulled him out of that and dumped him in an unknown community past the audition dates for anything. So. We're staying until we can extricate ourselves a bit less violently. We want the move to be good, for everyone involved, and that's how we're moving forward. Being separated isn't much fun (less fun for Z, who doesn't have the routines and familiar surroundings to buffer him), but we both acknowledge that a few months out of 22 years together isn't going to break us, or warp us, or damage us. We'll be fine.

Good Times. Or, it will be Good Times. Right now, it's all just a bit surreal. We haven't listed the Forever Home yet, because there's a beautiful, wonderful family that wants it. They've listed their home, and we're all just waiting on their house to sell. If it hasn't sold by Spring, or if they give up, then we've found a realtor and will list it with him. In the meantime, we're floating two and a half homes through the Winter. It will be okay. But they need it. They really do. It's worth the wait. No regrets, there.

And now, we have a routine. We have a plan. We have a little breathing room. Later than we'd anticipated, but it's here. That's good.

Welcome to 2018!


Tuesday, October 3

14 Days

In 14 days, we move. Because it's a local move, I can't convince anyone in the house that it's a legitimate move or that it needs any actual preparation. I guess we'll teleport.



Whatever works, folks. Whatever works. I don't have the bandwidth to force the issue on the front end, so I'm just going with it for now and I'll fix it the following week, when everyone is surprised that their approach wasn't terribly efficient.

If Life has taught me anything (and it has, actually, taught me many things), the most recent is that sometime you just have to step back and let people do what they will. This is, perhaps the hardest lesson for me, so far.

Maybe.

Actually, I think any lesson is the hardest lesson (ever!) when we're in the middle of learning it, don't you think? It's not until after you've mastered the skill, or internalized the lesson that it becomes easy and self-evident. I'll be truthful with you - I am soooo ready for me to master this Letting Go thing. Just let it go. Let it be. It's fine. No worries.

In (mostly) unrelated news, we're spooling up on our wine knowledge. Ha. No, really, that is unrelated. We're doing the research now to see about the viability of a vineyard on the family ranch. We've sent in soil samples and met with a viticulture specialist. That's very exciting, and as with any industry or endeavor, there is so much to learn! It's overwhelming, but it's also exciting.

And there's wine.

So, serendipity, and all that. 😉

Sunday, September 24

*psst* Hi.

I am not dead. Nor have I killed anyone, run anyone off, or set anything on fire. There should be cupcakes for that. We have, however, firmly identified the point at which we cannot function anymore, and ballet is it. Or rather, ballet, college, work, theater -- all in town, with us living in the country. That's it. That spot, right there.


So, we move into town next month (I'm doing daily countdown announcements like a six-year-old near Christmas!) and we'll be officially putting the Forever Home on the market. Not only will this buy us some breathing space, but it'll be significantly easier to show the place when we don't have seven people's worth of activities and lunch bags drizzled from the front door to the kitchen. (Because that's all we have the energy for when we do get home, limply drop our belongings as we stagger to the fridge.)

It's funny. Some of the kids have mused that we should have bought a house in town when we got here. It's a knee-jerk reaction to agree (because nobody wants to pack everything - that's their real motivation, there), but then I think back on it, and no. No, this was the perfect place to raise our family. Bonfires in the lower meadow, smaller campfires in the upper ... Dinners with friends on the balcony, airsoft in the woods ... Fruit from the trees and minnows from the creek (we ate the fruit, but not the minnows) ... Window frogs and lightning bugs ... Expeditions into the woods to look for new plants or harvest blackberries ... Building projects and Scout projects ... The Pinewood Derby track that lived in the basement, in use, for years ... Riding the wagon down the drive, or trying to get Balto to be a sled dog (didn't work) ... The incredible, amazing friends we've made here ... We have a dozen years of delicious, precious memories firmly rooted in this place, and I wouldn't trade them for anything.

We'll make new memories in new places, yes, but they don't negate that the Forever Home was a pretty darned fantastic home base for over a decade. It just needs to be a fantastic place for someone else, now - someone with little ones who want to garden and play in the creek and really revel in all the delightful surprises this place has to offer.

And I need to live in a place that lets all my people do their thing while still giving Z and I time to do ours.

23 days!! *squee*

Be encouraged!
Dy

Sunday, August 27

It's like Military Maneuvers

... if your military were staffed by clowns and hippies.

We pulled into the parking lot with one minute until prayer began. The car doors were flying open before the thing was in park, and I heard from somewhere in the back, "All right, troops, move, move, MOVE!"

I clambered out, gathered my things, and was formulating a response when I heard, "Or, you know, eventually. That works, too." It was John, who was standing there, holding the door open as the little moved ever so slowly toward the door, chatting, gathering their things, putting on their shoes.

I stifled a laugh and grabbed the rest of my things.

That one little interaction pretty much summed up our Sunday mornings. We may have grand plans and ambitions, but we're only going to move as quickly as our least-focused cadet. And yet, we made it without any yelling, or making anyone cry. Sometimes there's a bit of resignation, though.

I do wish I were a more consistent photo taker. Jase was wearing shorts and big, heavy shoes, and he just exuded Christopher Robin. It was precious and wonderful and made me smile every time he scampered off somewhere. I hope he's the one who picks my clothes for me when I'm old.

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Tuesday, August 15

Brilliant Plans and... Other Ones

Yesterday was a rest day. Well, it was a school day and a rest day. OK, actually, it was a school day, a few small projects, a little more cleaning, and a rest day. But when Jase talked to Z about his day, he told him it was a rest day, "so we didn't do much but hang out, eat and read". Then he gave me credit for it! So it's officially going down as a rest day that I instituted. Because I don't often get credit for the occasional cool things I do. (This incident is not a prime example, since it wasn't actually a rest day, but I don't even mind at this point.)

We replaced the worn dry erase board in the linen closet door and cleaned and repainted the air return register. We washed some more walls. We made more lists. John had Favorite Child status for several hours because he dug around in the basement to find the panel that I knew was down there but which none of us had seen in ages. Many people thought it was a myth. I had even begun to think perhaps we'd thrown it out at some point. But no, he found it! And he cut a new panel and got it switched out.

Today, we all overslept. I awoke at 7:37, immediately registered that we were behind the 8-ball for an 8 o'clock hair appointment, and bolted out of bed to wake everyone else. AND we made it! We weren't coherent, or clean, or functional, but we were there. After that, and a hair cut, I needed a full-on shower. I was still a little sleepy, however, and didn't want to do the bag-wrap-tape routine on my finger (I sliced the tip off last week - rookie mistake that's more irritating and inconvenient than damaging, thankfully). So I grabbed a mechanic's glove. It worked great until I reached down to shave and the glove immediately filled up with water! Oops! Lesson learned - tape the wrist!

Jacob got his schedule recommendations today, so we're plugging things into grids to see what's going to work. I found a lot of schedule templates online that skip weekends, or end at 5. None were quite what I needed, but then I found one from Apache, an Open Office spreadsheet that was dead handy. If you use Open Office and need a planner template, this one's quite functional. I had to tweak the margins on my page set up a titch to get it to print on one page, but it's pretty good, otherwise.

We're all about to head into a completely new world with school. I feel like we're skydiving for the first time -- no clue what to expect and vaguely surprised to find us here even though this was the plan and we very intentionally got to this place. It's so strange. If you're kindly inclined, please keep all of the young men and women who are heading off to college, to internships, to work, in your prayers. They're in for some amazing adventures, but it doesn't hurt to have people actively pulling for you.

Be encouraged!

Dy

Sunday, August 13

First Showing, School Books

We showed the house today! It was nerve-wracking and scary and hard, but we did it. I don't know if they liked it or hated it, but they were kind and made it painless. They stayed for two hours, their children played and ran amok all over the property, and we got that dreaded *first* out of the way. If this isn't the house they need, that's OK. It was a good experience, all the way around.

After they left, I took pictures, thinking to put them up online and get the word out. But that's not going to happen yet. All I see in the pictures are things I want to fix, tweak, clean, change. Nope. Not just yet. Or, maybe a few now... and then I can update the album as we go? I don't know. Although I DO know that taking a photo of a room is an excellent way to assess its condition even when you think you already know what it needs! Wow! There's something about a photograph that allows us to step back and look with a critical, unbiased eye, which is pretty cool. I'm not sure at what point we'll have done enough work that it'll warrant calling a realtor to come take over. Who knows? Always be learning, right? Sometimes, we learn the hard way. That's OK, too.

Meanwhile, Jacob and I are working through The Iliad right now. He asked if I'd read a bit aloud tonight. I jumped on it, as I've been wanting us to read together more. Yeah, that was a trap. It was the end of Book 2, where Homer lists all the ships, all the leaders, all the dalliances that brought about the leaders... it's a lot like reading I Chronicles, but with harder names to pronounce. No wonder he didn't get through it during the week. Good to read, but not gripping. Well, unless you're into genealogy. I'm sure it's fascinating to somebody, just not for us. We continued on through Book 3 to make up for it. Now, that was fun!

Now that we've got the first showing out of the way, a lot of the house de-cluttered and an idea what needs to be done next/first/whatever, I feel much less tense about the whole process. We'll just work our way through the photos, right? It's a start, at any rate.

Tomorrow, school! A little work in the foyer and hall. Then dance. Always dance...

Be encouraged, no matter how weird things get, there's good to be found!

Dy

Saturday, August 12

Well, then...

I didn't think the kitchen had much we could get rid of.

I was wrong. So wrong.

And now, it looks so much better! So, yay!

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I wrote that ^^ two weeks ago. Since then, we've been working on the rest of the house. Ballet auditions. Home staging. Work. School. Planning. HOLY COW. I came up for air and it's August, y'all!

The meadow is mowed. The trash is out. The walls are clean! The game is afoot!

Meanwhile, we're putting together some section hikes of the Pinhoti for this fall. This gives me something fun to do now, and something to look forward to for later. (When it's 95 degrees and 80% humidity, I do not look forward to so much as walking to the car. But I can plan indoors, where there's a/c!)

I found this, too. Don't really want to get down to 8#, but it did inspire me to drop a significant portion of my pack weight for this fall. Check it out.

http://www.opb.org/television/video/orfg-2817-01-ultralight-hiking/

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James starts school on Wednesday. He's loving his job. (He also threatened to just sleep there until we're done with the house. I think he's not enjoying the process of working on the house after working at his job all day.) We don't see him much, but he's happy when we do see him.

***********************************************************************

I still don't have a clue what the schedule is for this fall. I don't have John's schedule, or Jacob's schedule, and that means I can't make Em and Jase's schedules. That's making me a little twitchy.

***********************************************************************

We'll have photos of the house soon! I'm so excited!

And with that, we're mostly caught up. I've got some room in my brain now and can write again.


Sunday, July 23

Headway!

I have a den full of boxes and three empty book cases! We gave away one book case, and I hope to give away more this weekend. We learned a few things:

* If you want to get kids to read books, have them take books off a shelf to put in boxes. We got SO much reading done today! Like they discovered a secret library I'd been holding out on. It was hilarious.

* When your 18yo and your 11yo curl up on the couch to look at Rembrandt pictures together, you really can't care that they aren't working. (I already knew this, but it was a beautiful reminder.)

* One book case can hold a LOT of books! Wow, we are richly blessed with books.

* Dust is insidious.

* I'm wondering if white book cases would mitigate some of the room-shrinking effect... but then I wonder how bad it would look when they get dirty... then I spin around in circles like Gayle Waters-Waters preparing for company. So. No actual decisions, and I'm a little dizzy, now.

* Also, I need a vertically-capable roomba. Do those exist? If not, why not? I can't be the only person who's thought of asking Santa to look into this.

* And finally, we really should have gotten a storage shed before we started boxing things up. But, you live and learn. It'll be fine.

The nice part is that nobody minds working inside when it's hot 'n sticky out there! Plus, the Popsicles don't melt so quickly if you're indoors! Win!

Tomorrow's task will be the kitchen. It's already pretty tight, so I'm thinking it will be an easy day. Also, it's only going to be in the high 80's tomorrow! So that's downright doable!

Be encouraged!

Dy

Monday, June 26

*POOF* Busy weekend!

I thought for sure I'd posted over the weekend, but no. Know what else I didn't do? Sleep. Clearly, I should have thought things through a bit better.

Although, to be honest, I don't know where to cut anything, or how to make it happen in a sane way. It feels like we're holding everything together with surface tension at the moment, and I'm afraid if we poke it, the mess is going to be enormous.

Friday, we ran errands, we cleaned the house, we had a little Come to Jesus about the condition of the house, and we worked on the Volvo some. Normal stuff. The Volvo wasn't yet up and running that evening, so Z stayed up to retrieve one of the boys from his shift at Hamacon.

Saturday was full of trek prep, home repairs, more errands, more Hamacon retrieval, Volvo work, and a show at the VBC (Jacob walked, so that was 4:00-9:30PM, there).

Sunday, we had worship, which was fantastic. And pot luck, which is always restful. I am thankful we can do that. Then I had to be at a casting (nothing glamorous, just helping with sign-in -- although I did get to dance and snuggle with a precious baby for most of it, freeing up her parents to be more productive than I could be - that was a win), and Z took the kids to a birthday celebration for a lovely young woman we know. I headed over after my shift at the casting and passed the keys to John. He left for work. James arrived at some point and...

We all sat. We sat and visited and just did. not. move. It was glorious. We stayed WAY too late, and I feel a little guilty about that; however, it really was glorious to just be among kind people, chatting about hopeful things, listening to kids laugh and talk. Balm for the soul, right there. Also, how can I cut *that* out in exchange for sleep? That was just as rejuvenating as anything else we could have done.

Again, thankful.

There is so much I am thankful for, amidst the exhaustion.

This morning, I tried the Fat Coffee I'd purchased for the trek. (Realized, after a discussion with someone else about how coconut oil just, erm, tears through them, that I ought to try some NOW for the first time, rather than on the trail.) It tastes like 1970's-era instant decaf. So, not exactly something I'll look forward to on the trail, but I'm working up some kind of nostalgic affection for it. We'll see how that goes.

This afternoon I head in for six-month labs at the cancer center. Praying for a clear report. Actually, if you want to be very specific about it, I'm praying for labs that are good enough that we can punt the next scan another six months further down the road. So, if you're up for it, that'd be magnificent! There's more to the day, but that's all I'm focused on at the moment.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, June 19

More Prep and Random Things

James' security clearance is good to go, and he starts actual work-work today. I suspect the good Lord let it drag out so long in order to help him be truly excited to work. 😏 Good stuff. He just finished taking his first professional certification, passed it, and he's on his way. It is very exciting to see your grown child follow his passion.

The guys think they've figured out why the Volvo keeps shearing bolts at the alternator. That's more exciting than it should be, but there you have it. We're easily pleased and appreciative. Also, it's NOT a $200 part! That just made it even better, as far as I'm concerned!

I've got the keto menu plan for Philmont just about nailed down. Now it's just a matter of buying the stuff and getting it portioned out. I put powdered heavy cream and powdered eggs on my list. Need to pick up packets of mustard and those little salt and pepper packets, too. If Z hadn't been working on the Volvo, the roast would be dehydrated by now. As it stands, I'm a little nervous about taking trail food that we haven't field tested... eee.

If these kids would just stop needing rides for a week or so, that'd be super helpful (although that's why Z's been working on the Volvo, so six of one, half a dozen of the other). I thought the Bigs would be able to haul the Littles at some point, but they went and got jobs. What's up with their responsibility getting in the way of my payoff? (Not really complaining, well... maybe a little.) Uber needs to set up a NannyCar option - background screened drivers with in-car video on CCTV and offsite storage. I could use that...

But, that said, our Philmont gear order is beginning to arrive. John's puffy jacket, sock liners, our pack covers and sleeping pads. My teeniny camp stove! I have to tell you, I. am. geeking. out over how little this stuff weighs! WOW! Mad love for technology and development! I'm guessing we'll be a lot more comfortable in-camp, as well, than I ever was on the trail. THIS IS SO EXCITING!!!

What's got you excited this month?

Be encouraged!

~ Dy


Saturday, May 27

It feels so good to succeed.

(I found this in my drafts folder from 2008. It made me smile. I thought it should see the light of day.)

We all know that it feels good to succeed. We all know the power of praise well-earned. I think we (and by that, I mean "I") fall into the trap of wanting to praise perfection, and feeling exasperated by failures or struggles.

But life is full of failures and struggles. How we handle them is one true measure of success. (And perfection? Just throw that one out the window. It's overrated and stressful. Blech.) It doesn't take much to say simple things that have a strong impact on guiding how they learn to handle the struggles and failures:

I'm proud of you for sticking that one out.

You really put a lot of thought into that, and it shows. Good job.

Wow, you did it! *big smile*

Whew, that one used to be tricky, but it looks like you've mastered it.

Well done.

Slow down, I know you can do it.

It's okay. You gave it a good shot. We can try again tomorrow. How about we do...

You got farther today than you did before. Excellent.

Feels good to tackle a challenge, doesn't it?

And if it doesn't feel good to tackle a challenge? Well, then it's worth looking into why. That'll be different for everyone. I know when I'm not up for tackling a challenge, it's usually due to one of three things: I don't feel like I have the tools to tackle it; I don't have a clear idea of what, exactly, I'm supposed to do with it; I don't feel like I've got somebody in my corner on it. While I haven't done any official studies (and even if I had, I wouldn't be able to cite them because my organizational skills are deplorable), but my guess is that people often fear (or avoid...) taking on a challenge because of something very similar to that list.

The wonderful thing is that we can be a positive resource to eliminating those barriers. If we listen and provide presence and understanding, we can help them free themselves up to tackle the challenge, clear the hurdle, create the metaphor!

Be encouraged! (I added that bit tonight, but it seems appropriate)

~ Dy

Wednesday, May 24

More Progress, and Food

Four days until the family arrives! A week and a half until graduation! I feel dazed. We've kind of done it. We've raised a decent, fairly wonderful human!

Today, we buy food! I love grocery day! We stuck to our budget, which means I was filled with gratitude the other morning that Z hadn't seasoned the rice in the pot when he made fried rice for the kids. That freed the leftovers (that hadn't gotten fried) to make sweet rice for them one morning. Granted, I didn't think about checking before I made the sweet rice... It could have gone down as one of the stranger meals Mom has offered them. Serendipity!

Just to keep things interesting, though, I did throw some leftover acorn squash into the egg bake yesterday morning. That sounded brilliant and delectable in my head, but it didn't work. The flavor was lovely and the texture was that of soggy bread. Not a great choice, but it did use up the last bits of leftover veggies!

We Kon Mari'd the snot out of our clothing yesterday. I now have nothing anywhere that doesn't fit, or that I do not love, except my Scout shirt (which is both too big and not that attractive, but that's fine, it does its job). Same with the older boys. Woohoo! The Littles will likely outgrow anything they own, whether they love it or not, in the next month, anyway. So I'm not worrying about them.

I tried to move on to books, thinking I could surely clear out one book case of books. But, no. That is not going to happen. I have shunted books out of here regularly for years, and yesterday I got a little stabby at the thought of parting with any that we still have left. Next up, though? Magazines! I am not a keeper of magazines, but my hoarder children are. They have 12 years of Boys' Life, Birds and Blooms, American Rifleman, Game Informer, and Alabama Living (our elec. co-op magazine - really? We keep those?) OUT! Time to go! That may net us an additional 10 square feet of living space!

Not sure what's next after that. Z and I are in negotiations about the ceiling. I want to paint the panels first, then install them and touch them up. He wants to get them up, then paint them. We view painting an in-place ceiling very differently. He doesn't think it's that big a deal. I, having painted this one twice already, and being familiar with how it plays out for me, would rather remove an already in-place ceiling in order to paint it on sawhorses. So. It'll be fun to see what we do. (I say "fun", but honestly, it's fear. My fear is that he'll agree to paint it in place, since it's not that big a deal - to him - but THEN, once it's up, he'll realize that he has a bazillion things to do, which he does, and expect to pass it off to me so he can get to the other things. He will not think this should be a problem, and I'll get stuck saying nassy werds while painting an in-place ceiling. Hence, the negotiations. Very important going in when you know you have different ideas of what's "not that big a deal". It's a marital life saver!)

And that's about it. It's raining, raining, raining, here. Everything is damp and muddy. All the leaves are a brilliant, clean, sparkly green. Through the windows, from the climate-controlled inside, it's gorgeous out there! (But I'm glad we'll be working indoors today.)

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Wednesday, May 17

I Got Stumped, But for Good Reason

There was a job opening for a position that, if I were to describe my ideal job, would be this job. I'm afraid I would pretty much upend my entire lifestyle to get it, and ask my wonderful family to jump through flaming hoops to help me make it happen (of course, we phrase it differently, don't we? "We'll all be in this together," which sounds great, but the reality is that other than the money, it would all have been for me.) Still, dream job. Open now. That's hard to not at least gawk at on your way past.

It was so very tempting to apply, even though I don't meet a good many of the requirements. Several friends encouraged me to apply, citing that I do meet a good many of the requirements. I thought I would give it a try, but I needed some writing pieces to showcase for the application.

And that's when I got writer's block.

About eating! Food! Nutrition and healing!

Really?

Could there be any clearer sign that this is not the right time for me to be looking for another outside-the-home job? I didn't think so. I sat quietly and thought for a few days. No words came. I sat some more. Last night, I had peace about the whole thing. Do I still want the job? Oh, heavens, yes. I want a job doing what I love (talking to people about healing their bodies with nutrition), learning every day (staying up on the science and new developments), and traveling (we've discussed my bohemian tendencies and my struggle to give them the occasional healthy outlet - thank you, homeschooling and day trips). I want a job where I'm the dumbest person in the room and I can absorb the wisdom of those around me. I want to work in an industry that actually improves lives, creates health, supports healing.

But I already have a job very much like that, and it's a full-time job that deserves full-time attention. Although I'm graduating one this year, there's another one next year. He's pretty set, but he's not ready to be on his own. Another coming down the pike in four years. Those two Littles at the end? They still need to be introduced to authors and stories, to poems and songs. They are still learning the ins and outs of how to read deeply, how to organize their thoughts, how to share their ideas. They haven't had Logic yet! I can't move my focus away from them yet. They need me just as much now as the Bigs have needed me the last 12 years.

I will have other jobs, other opportunities, but they will not have other childhoods.

I'm glad I clued in before I put us smack in the middle of what truly would have turned out to be a 3-ring circus. (Not because people can't work from home and teach -- hundreds of thousands of us do that every year. This is wholly about me and my limitations, my abilities, and the importance of putting my resources where they're needed, when they're needed.) But it's a good thing. A good place to be.

Besides, we've got enough other irons in the fire right now. Potentially some big news on deck for the whole family (that's really good for the whole family!) Party plans, Summer schedules, Confirmation classes, and time enough to keep us busy.

Best case of writer's block, ever.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Friday, April 28

Flailing Across the Finish Line

So, y'all. Yesterday. Oh, my word. I was out cold on the couch with a good book by eight o'clock and that still wasn't early enough!

We had the pest control company out again yesterday to spray for fleas. Again. Still. Always. I suspect he's feeding them and has begun to think of us as his personal, off-site aquarium. When this contract is up, we're done. One year is ample time to get rid of fleas when you're working with a family that is all about the vacuuming and treating and keeping debris away from the house, setting light traps and not living like animals. Really? If that's not enough support for the flea treatments to get rid of these bad boys, then we need to consider contacting the CDC or just fire bombing the house and moving.

Also, although I do enjoy a clean house, we're all a little tired of stacking all our belongings atop the furniture every couple of weeks. It's to clear the floor so he can get everything, but it feels like a weird religious ritual at this point, and it's clearly not appeasing the blood gods, or whoever its meant to appease.

Ballroom was canceled for the older boys (their instructor had surgery and wasn't quite recovered yet), and that meant that there were seven of us to hustle out of the house instead of five. We decided we'd take the cars to the car wash and give them a thorough debriding. That's always good for an hour and a half, plus it's quite a workout.

We hit Mike's Merchandise, which is sort of a random overstock, discontinued, slightly-damaged things outlet. Also good for another hour and a half. Then we stopped in at John's work for ice cream and to visit with his coworkers. (I don't know if they appreciated that, but they're very kind. It's a good group of kids who work there. And the owner is a joy.) That gave enough time for the boys to head to class and the rest of us to start hauling Jacob to ballet.

Jacob had gotten up early and thrown in a load of wash (which, when you're 13, is pretty danged insightful). Unfortunately, it was a load he neeeeded for ballet that day. And we had to evacuate the house an hour before the wash would be done (which, when you're 13, you just don't think about timing - heck, at forty-something, I still get sideswiped by timing - it happens). We had scrambled a new plan that would allow us to give the treatment the maximum time to dry while allowing us to slip in and grab the clothes from the machine on our way to ballet. It was a brilliant plan.

Except that the water inlet valve on the washing machine died (a hero's death, truly) while we were out of the house. We came home to a washing machine full of water, a flooded basement, and wet clothes for ballet. The machine started spraying water into the hallway when Jacob opened the door.

If you've ever wondered if you can dry clothes on your way somewhere by holding them out the window as you drive, you can. It's a little awkward, particularly as you get into town, but if your drive is long enough it works surprisingly well.

Unfortunately, we were late for his first class. About a mile from the school, he realized that in the upheaval of finding buckets and towels and ringing out the wet clothes, he'd forgotten his bag. Bag has shoes. You can't attend class without your shoes. So we turned around and headed home. He was so sweet about the whole thing, and he really wanted to make his second class (he missed last week because he had a concussion). We decided to see what time it was when we pulled up and make the call from there.

Hey, we can make it! (I may have cried a little. Not from joy. He was joyful. I was tired. It's a 40 minute drive each way.) He grabbed his bag and we headed back out. I tagged Z to pick him up after class, dropped him off, and headed back to the house, where we finished dealing with the washer mess, vacuumed the couch and the rooms, made dinner, and read. *poof* Out cold.

I ordered some Fleabusters RX from Amazon and am considering installing misters filled with it throughout the house at ankle level to keep people from tracking fleas from one room to the next. I ordered a new inlet valve from Amazon and briefly considered checking to see if I could put it on Subscribe and Save. (The earliest we could get it in is May 2. Why is there not overnight shipping available for things like washing machine parts? If you see us at any point over the next week, please remember this is a mechanical failure not a lifestyle choice.)

Today, I've no idea what we're going to do, but I truly hope it doesn't involve driving. Or bugs.

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Wednesday, April 26

Anniversaries

I've never been good about remembering significant dates. Birthdays, anniversaries, even some of the major holidays... they sneak up on me. It's not that I don't care about people. It's all dates, even mine. A few years ago, Z and I spent an entire day doing our thing - he took the Aunts out visiting museums, I had one of the Littles with me, painting the house. Sometime in the evening, I checked my phone for something and saw the calendar: Happy Anniversary. Oh. Hey Babe, it's our anniversary. Love you.

But it's not just the happy dates that I can't remember. The more somber dates? Oy. No clue. I'm not callous, or uncaring. I remember the sorrow, feel the loss, mourn with those who do remember, who do observe individual days of loss. But the specific days don't linger in my mind. They don't become anchor points or mile stones that point to the passage of time. I don't know, for instance, off the top of my head, when my parents died, when I lost a baby, when bad things happened... I know they did. They were awful. But the dates don't stick. (I recognize that this is different than so many people I love and cherish, and mentioned to Z once that I worried about it. He suggested that it's probably a relatively healthy mechanism that's kept me from losing my mind - there was a lot of death in my life, growing up. I love him for that perspective.)

So it came as a bit of a surprise tonight, as we shared a little of our backstories in a group I'm in (lots of new members, and it's always easier to know how to support or encourage someone if you know where they're coming from and what their goals are, so we did a short introduction thread), and it hit me that it's been almost exactly two years since I first heard the doctor say, It's cancer. And that hit hard, which was weird.

Two years, with 15 months in remission. I give thanks for that every day. But I don't remember the day.

Only six months of chemo. Special thanks for that - that it's available, and that it wasn't longer. But I don't remember the dates.

The port still irritates me and catches on things, but I'm clumsy at the best of times, and I still maintain that is one brilliant invention. But I couldn't tell you when I had it put in.

Getting dressed yesterday, I was taken aback by how easily my body moves and does what I ask it to. I gave thanks. But I don't know when it had stopped, or when it started again.

Tonight, recalling dates as I tried to reconstruct a timeline, it just struck a resonant chord when I realized we are right at the scene of Z and I sitting at the restaurant, quietly eating while we processed the news.

"I don't want cancer. This is stupid," I muttered. Like I'm six and someone has made beans and cornbread, right? But we respond the way we respond. A friend of mine, upon being told she had cancer, replied, "Oh, no. You must be mistaken. In my family, we get heart disease." God love her, I get it. The human brain is one of the most magnificent mysteries in all creation.

And I realize it may come back.

A dear pastor here in town is fighting a recurrence of it right now.

The kids' godmother is fighting it right now.

Friends' kids, nephews, parents, friends... all fighting. Right now.

I won't remember specific dates. But I will be right there, to celebrate, to mourn, to rage, or just be there. Because in the end, that's the part that really matters.

Just as it's the life lived between anniversaries that makes the marriage, more than the mile marker we pass each lap around the sun.

But to someone who lives like this, it's still weird to pass one of the more somber ones and recognize it on the way by.

However you note, or forget, dates, remember to let the ones you love know you love them -- so if you forget an anniversary, they won't think you've forgotten them.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy