Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label projects. Show all posts

Friday, March 24

Well, then.

My week, in pictures. (I thought I had more pictures. This has not been a great week, though, and it makes total sense that I didn't take a lot of pictures of the not-great bits. So, well, there you have it.)

It started out really well...


And then, it all went horribly wrong...


And then, out of nowhere...


As of right now, we have a temporary set up in place until we can get that line fixed. Love that the propane company delivered 100 gallons to the tank before testing the system for a leak, even though it was clear that something was broken  - and then they had to lock it until the leak is fixed (which I totally understand locking it -- but I do hope they, likewise, understand the laughter that ensued when they hit me with the invoice for the gas in the tank that they've locked... because sometimes life is just like that).

We do spend a lot of time just sitting and watching the light through the glass in the new door. I bet it'll look even better once the trim is up and the stickers are off the door, too!

And our Easter Baby is nine. Wow. THE baby. Is... not so much a baby. And I'm okay with that, except when the realization that he's halfway grown hits. Then I'm not. Parenting is weird. But he felt loved and appreciated and welcome on his special day (hopefully he feels that way every day - hopefully, we can all feel that way more often than not), and he's happy to be nine.

Be encouraged!

~Dy

Sunday, March 19

A New Project!

Guys. We've been so busy with raising kids and driving to every corner of three counties lately that we haven't made much headway on the house. Other than the wall we built two years ago, what discernible headway we have made has been in the more mundane realm of picking shoes up from under the coffee table in the living room and shaking off the table cloth in the dining room. Occasionally, we get wild and break out the paper shredder to beat back the drastic piles of college junk mail.

Well, I volunteered the property for a party in April, and that, combined with the wonderful weather, has lit a fire under all of us! Landscaping! Caulking! Debris eradication! Allofit! This past week, Z and I have been researching doors for the basement. (They were ghetto when they were installed 46 years ago. Time, and the elements, have not improved their appearance or function one bit.) We thought it would take a couple of paydays to pull that one off, but really, it needs to happen soon. (We suspect, although we have no reason to think this, that having decent doors on the walk-out will spur us to make the rest of the basement nice. It seems a sound perspective. We may, however, just end up broke, hanging out in a junky basement, staring at the nice doors.)

Yesterday, we got up early to visit Gobble-Fite, a local materials supply - they were great to work with during the bulk of the renovations, and they deliver. Considering the space is 112" wide, delivery options are appealing. Unfortunately, we forgot they aren't open on Saturdays. We brainstormed a few other places we could visit so the day wouldn't be a total wash. (Also, neither of us wanted to work on the landscaping, so we were motivated to get out!)

We stopped at our favorite hardware store and met with one of the guys there. The door options weren't great, but he did have some good ideas. Also, they have the beadboard that I want for the living room ceiling. We made notes and moved on. We checked another couple of places and then realized basement doors would likely have to be ordered and we're going to have to do some framing to alter the rough opening because part of the unique joy of this place is that so many elements are not standard. Or square. So, that's cool. But what shall we do this weekend?

Well, as luck would have it, we ended up at Lowe's. Lowe's has the front entry door I've had my eye on for the last five years. It's lovely, it's solid, and it's usually in stock. What's not to love? They had it in stock today. Oh, yeah...


This may not be exciting to everyone, but for me it is right up there with the day after we pulled the carpet out and were able to get all the way through the foyer before the weird Abandoned Shack smell hit us. I have hated our current front door for years (11.5 years, to be exact). It was oddly stained and never sealed, so the wood was rough and blotchy and hard to clean. The panels had split over the years, and you could see daylight through the door in places where you shouldn't have been able to see through. (Seriously, the paper boy from Better Off Dead could totally have kicked in this door.) The glass was hard to clean and there wasn't enough of it.

But this beauty? She's solid! She's sealed! She'll let light into the foyer! I'M SO EXCITED!!!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Monday, March 13

So it could be demonic possession...

... Or it could be the alternator. I'm surprised how similar the symptoms are for the two problems when you're talking about a vehicle. Especially a really old vehicle that already has a lot of, shall we say, personality.

For the second night this week, John's been stranded when he got off work and the Volvo wouldn't start. Both times, a jump start did the trick. After the first one, they ran by an auto parts place and asked them to check the battery and the alternator. Both checked out fine.

Then James took it out one night. It started right up, ran fine. He let it sit for hours while he was at an event, and drove it home. No problems.

Last night, it wouldn't start for John. He's frustrated that it's only doing it to him, of course. He got another jump, but when he got home he started telling us about the weird behavior of the Volvo on the drive home. Headlights dimmed and brightened, dash lights also behaved oddly... add in the radio cutting in and out (probably a loose wire), and what we suspect may be slightly fouled fuel injectors affecting acceleration, and the whole ride sounds like a scene from Supernatural.

It would be hard not to take that a little personally when the thing drives fine for everyone else and you're pretty sure you're not crazy. After a good night's sleep, I'm able to chuckle a bit. (It's likely an intermittent failure on the alternator, which won't show up unless you've got an hour to spare and can ask the parts place to do the long test. He's not crazy. And the car's not likely possessed.)

So today the boys will get to learn how to switch out the alternator. That's good stuff to know. I'm excited for them to do it again (three cars, all old - this isn't their first walk through). They don't particularly appreciate it at the moment, but one day, they will. You may get to the end of your life and think, "Whew, some of that was challenging," but you don't get to the end of your life and think, "I wish I hadn't been so capable!"

😉

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, March 5

Sleep

It is 9:40 this morning. Everyone is asleep except for me, and the one who wakes up talking nonstop. So we're hanging out, chatting and doing things. It's a lovely way to start the day.

The show last night was fantastic. I did not know what to expect, but it did not disappoint. We had four incredible designers showcasing their looks, several local boutiques and stores, and a millinery show that absolutely blew the crowd away. I can see why this is a passion for so many -- when you can see that in your head, how can you not work to make it a reality?

I think that's something we can all take from the art communities - Go For It. If you've got a vision, if you've got an idea, don't let excuses get in your way. Make it a reality. The work is going to be hard, long, complex, and challenging, but in the end it will be more satisfying than words can describe. We should all tackle the ideas in our heads with such vigor.

That said, I've got to tackle the Calendar Vikings and the Budget Broadcast today, or the inside of my head is going to resemble nothing but the kitchen of a poorly run restaurant. We've got a campus visit this week, and I have no idea what else...

Be encouraged!
~ Dy

Thursday, January 12

Gosh, but I Am So Old!

I used to be my mother's tech support. I could program the record function on a VCR like a boss. I could scan for channels and get a new remote paired with the TV in no time. And her clocks? They were always synchronized and accurate, never flashing. This morning, it's a different story...

I'm writing this up in Open Office Writer because my internet connection is hinky. I ran the troubleshooter and it said the modem is experiencing difficulties (which is code for, “You have Charter. They're probably down, but they said not to tell you that.”) The troubleshooter suggested rebooting the modem.

Hey, I can do that. I remember doing that, back when you had to set up your modem on the phone that could do pulse/button dial tone! (I got a new phone just so I could do that!) My IT is leaving this year, so I'll just quietly assume my old position. Cool. That's cool.

I peered around the back of the TV and...

You can't be serious! First off, we're missing one – either the router or the modem – but there's only one box back there and I'm pretty sure there should be two. So, if the modem is actually missing, that would explain a lot.

But right now, it doesn't really matter because I can't tell if the one that's left is the router or the modem. It doesn't seem to say, outright, what it is. I feel so old.

And my internet is down SO I CAN'T EVEN LOOK IT UP.

*sigh*

I checked my watch. Hmm 6:30... I wonder how long before I can risk waking my tech support?

Where's my phone? I found it. It's charging. Just need enough charge to figure out if that's the modem behind the TV. If so, I'll need to find out how to reboot it. (Yes, I know you just press the button. But there are a zillion buttons.) And if that's not the modem, well, I'm going to have to wake tech support, then, and inquire just where they've relocated the actual modem to...

And why.

Because I am old and cannot even begin to reason where you'd put a modem if not with the router. (Or vice versa.) But I will! And I will put a note in my journal so that the next time this happens I won't be stuck offline during the prime Quiet Moments of the day.

Be encouraged!


~ Dy

P.S. James got up fairly early this morning, so I just told him the internet was down and he made magic. He also showed me where the modem is living, now. AND gave me a cool trip  -- if you can't remember which is which, just remember that your modem communicates with your ISP (which is easy - the router broadcasts, or routes, things to the devices in the house), so if you find the ISP cable coming out of the wall, you can follow it to the first box you hit and TA-DA, that's the modem. I'm still not remotely prepared for him to leave, but this will make it easier.

Wednesday, January 4

Beauty in Life

I've said so many times that God gave us Em because we needed to be reminded that life can (and ought to be) beautiful as well as functional. We can do functional 'til the cows come home, but sometimes it's ugly. She corrects that.

For Christmas, Em had asked for Perler Beads. If you don't have an 8-12yo child in your life, you're probably missing out. They're small, like little pony beads - they have sharp edges like Legos - and they roll like airsoft BBs. So, basically, when I saw that item on her wish list, I immediately scanned for something more reasonable, like a pony or a Disney cruise where you never meet anyone in character costume. Nope. No luck there. The rest of her list was so simple - a sharpie of her own, a soft blanket to replace her gnarly, unsalvageable one... Really, it was a shockingly sane wish list. So, Perler Beads it is!

Recently, I lost my Pampered Chef brown scraper. Since we use nothing but cast iron, and occasionally enameled cast iron, this is A Problem. But I can't find it. It's probably in the upper meadow, and there's probably a perfectly good explanation why, but none of us has any ideas.

And so, one evening, when I started to clean the kitchen, I found this waiting for me at the sink...



She gets functional. But she sees that there should be beauty, as well.

Viewed sensitively and with love; the world blossoms in beauty." ~Kristian Goldmund Aumann

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, January 1

The Good Things

2016 seemed like a grueling year in so many ways. But it wasn't all bad. In an attempt to archive some of the good (and some of it was Very Good, Indeed), I wanted to pick a highlight from each month to share. Like the habit of finding 3 Good Things to list when life gets difficult, but on steroids.

January - Z was gone a lot this year, and Dad Boxes, sent from on the road, were a highlight for everyone.


February - we finally got around to designing and building a coffee table to go with the sofa! I love it!!


Also, Buddy finally got over his fear of the car. (He now hops in, goes all the way to the third row, and refuses to acknowledge that you're even speaking to him until you've taken him for a spin around the courthouse!)

 March -- John and James were both called out for the Order of the Arrow.


 In April, we biked the Silver Comet, starting at the AL/GA boarder.


 Oh, and took pottery. This was a pretty fantastic month.


John, his best bud, and I volunteered at a Spartan Race. (The plan was to use our credit to race in May, but that fell through. Still, this was a pretty fantastic experience.)


May - prom! Steampunk. Because that's awesome.


And we bought kayaks for the Littles. OH, why did we wait so long? This was huge fun!


And Chemistry. Every week, with two other families. The house is still standing. There were a few explosions. Semi-controlled, and outside. So that was nice. This was hard, and good, and I'm SO glad we did this.


Jacob got to go to Space Camp. He's hooked, he's got his eye on Mars, and is saving to go back for the next level in 2017.


June - James was selected as a model for the Alabama Fashion Alliance. This changed the trajectory of the entire rest of the year. So much to learn, but such an interesting industry. And he loves it.


And back to Colorado! It was hard - very hard - to come back that last time. And did I tell you we hiked the Manitou Incline? I only got 3/4 of the way up before the Littles mutinied, but James and John made it to the top. Also, we got lapped by an octogenarian who clearly runs it daily just because he can, but even that was encouraging.


July -- We tried Durian for the first time. Because how can you not?


And then Jacob's best bud came home and spent a week scrabbling about the rocks with us.


August -- *phew* This one was hard. (That's not me in the pictures - as far as I know, there are no photos of me doing this. But I did it!) For someone who has no depth perception, is uncoordinated and afraid of heights, this was a gigantic feat. Scouting is cool.


September -- James had his first runway show.


And his second...

October -- we were still out in the kayaks every chance we got this Summer. Er, and fall.


And James received the rank of Eagle Scout!


November -- there's been a lot of fiber art action going on, here. I love these little miniature felted critters that Em made.


A visit from friends from out West!


And a birthday outing! (Actually, a lot of the kids turned 18 this year. This has been bittersweet, but the excitement and anticipation win out because they are just. such. great. young men and women.)


December -- we made it. Full lap. Holy cow.


Here's to 2017 bringing us a time of learning, discernment, joy, growth, support (both given and received)...

Be encouraged!
~Dy

Thursday, November 13

Days fly by. Kids get big.

It's been years since John loved dragons, but we've been so busy building wood smokers and forges, making PVC bows (just for fun, we don't take them too seriously) and bat boxes (not to mention food, in general) that we haven't updated the house.


Actually, we haven't entirely *finished* the house. But that's not the point of this post. This post is about making a room for 16 & 14 year old young men out of a room designed for 7, 5, and 2 year old little boys. Or, at least, starting on it.


First difference I noticed this time around? They're actual help. Not "help", but really fantastic help. They care about detail and drip edges and primer. W00t:

Second difference? They're a LOT taller than I am. Not that this is news, per se, but the practical aspects are becoming more clear. They can reach the ceiling with little assistance. How cool is that?


They also have fewer opinions about what to do with the room. When we did this the first time, they knew just what they wanted. They designed the stencils and picked the colors. They had Vision. This time around, they're pretty flexible and don't seem to care what we do with the walls as long as they get a better ceiling fan (which they have, now, and it's wonderful - but it hasn't helped develop a vision for the room aside from "quiet ceiling fan and good lighting").

We'll get some paint samples this week and start looking around for furnishing ideas. I'm pretty excited! They're... well, they're willing to do the heavy lifting. They'll be excited later, when it's done.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, April 29

Busy Days!

The kids asked for a day at home, since we've had one in the last ten days, but that was for re-packing gear and doing laundry. Not quite the same.

After the storms that ripped through here last night, I think they'll get their wish today. We weathered it just fine, but not everyone did, so as the reports come in, we're looking for opportunities to help and pay forward all the generous care we've received in the past. If you don't mind saying a prayer for the Southeastern US this morning, that would be much appreciated.

James spent a fantastic week in New Mexico, eating, learning, experiencing, and doing.  He ate a lot of new food (mostly Vietnamese and Indian, I think), which thrilled his food-curious heart no end. He Skyped with us on Easter Sunday so Em could show him her dress, and Z and I could put eyes on him in real time. It was a chance to see the tangible benefits of hard work and self-discipline, and to walk away with more knowledge and insight than he arrived with. That's hard to pass up. His team won an award for Creativity and Innovation in Design: they each received a plaque and $50.  We picked up a very happy camper the following week.

Meanwhile, we had a quietly busy week while James was gone. (I spent a lot of time standing in parking lots, waiting for him to come around the back of the Suburban, then realizing he wasn't actually in the parking lot with us. The kids thought that was hilarious.) We went to the annual Earth Day movie (it was Bears this year, and absolutely fantastic) with friends, then shuttled over to the Teen Game Day for a visit and some fun.

The rest of the weekend was taken up with projects - for me, mainly the quarterly changing of the seasonal clothing and updating of the sizes. I realized I have a lot of things in the basement we can pass along, now. They're too small for Em or Jase. Some of them were rather large sizes, to my way of thinking, for me not to have a child wearing them. Things are about to get weird, I suspect. Easter was a lovely day of joyful celebration with church family and local friends. Then I took the kids camping.

We slipped out to DeSoto State Park to enjoy a little camping and exploring. We scampered around Cherokee Rock Village in the fog (fantastic for kids, a wee bit terrifying for mothers), hiked and hiked all over the place, and played at DeSoto Falls (something I've been dying to do for the last five years! It was worth the wait!)

John and Jacob absolutely rock the camp set up action. Em and Jase have found their groove, and they're more help than not at this stage. It could not have gone more smoothly, or been more fun. Even John mentioned that the loading and setting up seemed "freakishly easy". He was worried we'd forgotten something, or left someone. I told him I know the feeling. We did a head count and called it good.
James flew back in on Wednesday as we headed out from DeSoto, and everyone arrived home covered in road grime, exhausted, and happy.

We had Thursday to re-pack, wash clothes, catch up, and rest, for Friday we headed out to the Camporee. That was a truly amazing experience. I sat in with the Rocking Chair Patrol (the adult leaders). Seldom saw the kids except when we ambled over to take pictures. The boys' Troop hosted the Camporee, and these boys were on fire. They were busy and engaged the whole time. They handled everything from administration to direction. They were gracious and encouraging. I think my favorite tidbit of feedback came from one Scout who came panting up to the check-in desk after the Orienteering course and exhaled, "That was hilariously awesome!" Well, that's hard to beat, isn't it?

We slipped out after the camp fire on Saturday night so we could be ready for Sunday's adventure... which requires a post all its own.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, February 18

A Playset

We've wanted to build a tree house for ages. But when you're working with various personalities, and time demands, projects don't always get off the ground. Or into the tree. James and John are no longer interested in having one, and Z and I both got a little panicky last month about never having a tree house for the children!

Craigslist to the rescue! Sort of. We found a standard play set. The ad said it was "gently used", and the price was good. It was a bit of a drive, but we called it a Date and justified the trip.The whole thing turned out to be a reminder that using Craigslist can be a cautionary tale. Ask for more detailed pictures and measurements before you make a drive to pick something up. We knew this, and yet... well, I guess we just needed the excuse to spend some time in the car, alone.

"Gently used" included a two foot wide hole in the middle of the slide, and a good bit of rot on the wood that made contact with the ground. That actually made us laugh, and laughter is good for the soul. The "paid $1100 new" set can actually be purchased brand new today for $600 at Wal-Mart. I know they're fond of price droppers, but I'm guessing that's... not it.

So we offered her what we were willing to pay for it, and she acknowledged that she was probably making out pretty well, all things considered. We dismantled it and brought it home. Yesterday, Z and the kids spent the day putting on better quality wood and reinforcing the frame. They cleared a spot in the back yard, and the Littles could not be more excited if we'd built an actual tree house. So, that's good. We also bought some stain to protect the pieces that are still solid, and will have it cleaned up in no time.

We think we can replace the broken slide with sheet metal, using the existing frame. That'll be less static-inducing, and a little faster. Also, less likely to give way while in use, because regardless of one's definition of gentle use, I doubt we'll fall into that category. In the end, the cautionary reminder was good, but everyone is happy with the results.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, January 20

Shortened Attention Spans and Gifts

Between Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, my attention span deteriorated quite a bit last year. That was embarrassing, if visually stimulating. This year, I determined it would be better to seek balance and set the example for our home, by bringing life (particularly the bigger chunks and meatier content) back into focus.

We also decided we'd actually do some of the projects we've pinned on Pinterest. The boys insisted we photograph the outcome. I'd love to think they want a record of the fantastic projects we make together, but the truth is they're hoping for something they can submit to PinterestFAIL sites.

Our first project, however, was a total win. We made these adorable play tents for the Littles of some very dear friends:


EmilyGirl handled all the sewing - from threading the machine and ironing the fabric, to sewing the hems and sewing on the ribbons. The guys did the woodwork, which was quick and easy. We sealed the wood so that the tents can be used outside without rotting by August.

The tents are sturdy, but they break apart so that for travel the boards lie flat on the fabric, you roll the fabric around the boards and secure with the ribbons at the corners. They'll fit in the trunk, on the floor behind the seat of the car, or in a footlocker.






I tried to get a picture of the littles inside them, but they moved too quickly. Here, Little M had just chased JakeRabbit out of hers and gone into it when she saw the camera, stepped out to pose, and then her brother had something fascinating to show her. My phone isn't the best camera, and I suspect I'm getting old, with slow reflexes. But the picture was sweet, and it's the only one that shows some detail on the tents without being blurry.

They loved them. EmilyGirl is now ready to make ALL THE THINGS. The boys are on board, but I suspect for different reasons... we'll probably have a little Win and a little Fail this year, but we'll have fun doing it together.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, May 27

Gathering for a Pounce

Many (most? all? I should look that up) animals gather themselves together before they pounce. I'm pretty sure this is a mental phenomenon, also. (Though I haven't researched it, because honestly, it's just a picture in my head of how I feel before we have to tackle something big. So it could just be us.)

Anyway, we've had a busy week or so, and neither of us gathered for it, so it's been more of a swatting than a pouncing. Z ran out of steam on the soffits as he got farther around the back of the house and started running into rotted wood on the frame. And more brick work (not our favorite thing to do, regardless). It's been a week of sawzall work and framing, mortar and priming. It'll be good, in the end, and solid. But... nasty things fall out of the eaves when you start sawing on them. *gag*

Our Scout Troop had a weird confluence of TDY assignments for all our adults, and we found ourselves two weeks out from camp with only one Adult leader able to go. It's been a week with a flurry of emails, brainstorming, and stress. We were hoping to get information on a provisional troop arrangement at the camp, or perhaps to have the boys and our one adult appended to another troop for the week, but the camp office isn't open yet, the lady we generally deal with is on vacation, and we're having a devil of a time making headway. I could to go, if we could come up with a way to hide three bouncy Littles in camp for a week. So far, no brilliant ideas on that front. So it looks like the boys may miss scout camp this year.

Our Webelos built bat boxes. That was a "Z to the rescue" kind of thing. He's incredible with the kids - they learn so much from him, and they have fun doing it. Once the cedar dries out a bit, and they don't weigh so much, the boys will finish them out and get them hung. Based on the volume of mosquitoes we have this year, I'm betting we'll have the fattest bats in the state, and plenty of them.

I lost my glasses at some point last week. The Suburban was spotless. The house was immaculate. Still no glasses. Then I realized we hadn't tackled the Baby Dragon Lair. We waded through the paper treasure and bead bullion and other valuables in the hoard. I almost didn't do it. It's daunting for a non-crafty person to delve into an artist's space. Especially when she's small and has a minion. And, dragons. But I'm glad I did. The glasses were there, on a pony. Under some homemade pillows (paper, cotton balls, and staples). I also found my stapler.

On a related note, as much as I want to do the ceiling next, that child needs a non-carpeted room to work in. I'm thinking gunite. If you have ideas, toss them up on Pinterest. I'll be researching next week.

And graduations! We've had three beautiful, amazing young people in our lives who graduated from high school this week. Every one of them is the kind of person you can't wait to turn loose on the world: kind, hard working, generous, thoughtful, upright young people. I know their paths won't always be easy, but we are so very proud of them and excited for them to get out there and share themselves with the world. When people complain about "kids these days", I want to share these kids with them, so they'll know what to look for. They're there. And they're fantastic!

Kiss those babies, no matter how big!
~Dy

Tuesday, April 16

What Do We Do All Day?

There is no way our daily activities are what trash this house every. single. day. OK, the socks are ours. I'll own that. But the amount of dirt that finds its way onto the living room floor would normally require a contractor and a liability waiver. Maybe for my birthday I'll ask for a fleet of Roombas.

Z's replacing the soffits and fascia this week. That's a somewhat thankless job, from what I can tell. While it is good, and it needs doing, what will be most obvious when it's complete will be the old roof and the nasty hillbilly porch off the back. He gets serious bonus points for doing things just because they need to be done.

The kids did the first mowing of the season this week. Now that? That's a high-reward job. Fewer ticks, gorgeous view, low resistance job, and instant gratification. Love a freshly mown meadow.

I did... laundry. And swept. Mostly. There was other stuff, but it was about as exciting as that, really.

We did drive up to Tennessee to buy Z another Volvo. This last one had... fatal flaws. After several trips to George, the car whisperer, and three weeks in the shop, it was up and running, and then, in the middle of a normal morning commute, there was metal on metal noise. Even our laid back mechanically-inclined buddy shuddered when thinking about the noise. But the Volvos are a fave, and so off we went. Z seems happy. He can't wait to retrieve his beaded seat cover, and the a/c needs to be charged, but everything else is good. Plus, it doesn't leak in the rain. (He's a trooper, but it gets tiring driving to work with your feet in a puddle of water after every rainstorm. Maybe not such a deal breaker in the desert, but it'll wear on you, here.)

Oh! And our anniversary was last week. We thought about going to the drive-in theater, but decided it would be hard to hear the movie over the tornado sirens (not a euphemism for children - actual tornado sirens). So we opted for a night in with the family. Romantic, flashlights-at-the-ready dinner, nervous dog, anxious weather-following child. (Jacob. He discovered the weather news. And now he joins James in the general uproar over how seldom we go to the basement when the weather guy clearly states that's where we should be rightnow. I'm not sure how best to handle that. I don't want him to think we hold no regard for the weather warnings, because we do - that's why we have the radio on. But if there are no tornadoes on the radar and the winds aren't that strong, I'm just not convinced we need to hunker down with the damp and the basement critters until there are... uh, no tornadoes on the radar. I could be missing something. It happens. Sometimes more often than I'd like.) But all in all, it was actually pretty great. Z and I looked at each other, looked around at the kids, the house, the dog, then back to each other, and felt giddy.

"We're doing it! We're probably even getting good at this!"

w00t:

Thank God for grace and mercy. I've received it in spades.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy


Friday, April 5

What passes for exciting around here...

After years of making do, and more than a few months of threatening to just buy a hammock and sleep in the yard, we've finally bought a new mattress. Our old mattress is probably 25 years old. It's served us well, but it's been a long 25 years, and the other furniture never said, "Oh, you look so good for your age" or any other thing furniture would say if it were animated. I'm pretty sure even the leaning, saggy, 18-year-old chipboard bookcases just politely refused to make eye contact with the bed. And we slept about as well as one might expect on bedding in this condition. When Zorak would travel for work, he'd call at night and I'd ask him to tell me about the mattress. And he would, because even though he probably thought that was odd, he loves me. (By the way, Marriot does sell their mattresses to the public, just in case you're in the market - best night's sleep I've had in decades on one of those.)

So. This is huge. So huge that I must admit I'm probably just old, because a new mattress shouldn't be this exciting.

Yet it is.

And the only reason I'm not wallowing on that thing right now is because the sheets are still in the wash. Even that took some mustering to force me back up.

In other news, we finished the week strong for school, in spite of three dental visits, two hair cuts, music, and the constant need to buy more food.

We bought five new chicks, all "guaranteed to be pullets". (I am not strong on my farm knowledge, but the lady seemed to feel that answered my question, so I had to smile and nod and just trust that "pullet" does in fact mean "you'll get eggs from these if you can keep them alive long enough". Looked it up. It does. Yay!) The kids got the brooder box set up with a divider (we still have one of our older hens convalescing in there after a horrible near-death pecking by the roosters shortly before we left), and they're all enjoying the fun of raising baby chicks again.

And now that the last freeze of the year looks like it's past, it's time to start gardening! That's pretty exciting, too.

Kiss those babies, and sleep well!
~Dy

Tuesday, December 18

90% Done!

Which, for us, is like 110% done. We seldom get this far. I still have the kick plate to put back on, and the wood putty in the nail holes is drying. We may, or may not, get those dealt with in 2013. For now, though, here it is -- The Window!

It's like having a whole new kitchen! We'll add upper cabinets, now, and put up the beadboard ceiling and trim, and then... I think that's it. The inside will be, dare I say it? :whispers: Complete. That's hard to comprehend. Oh, no. No, I take that back. The boys' bedroom windows still need to be replaced, Em's room needs new carpet, and we need screen doors. OK, that feels more like it. (I'm not sure I'd know how to behave in a finished home!)

So, I tried to find the original before photos of the kitchen, but it looks like I'd uploaded them to a Flickr account, which has since been... emptied? sucked into the ether? eaten by Yahoo? :shrug: I don't know. I could log in with my normal account, but they had an old address for main contact info, so I'm sure they warned me that they were deleting pictures, but I don't use the ISP email, so I never saw it coming. Hopefully, there are some tucked away on the hard drive James salvaged from the basement.

And then, because it's more fun to play in a well-lit kitchen, we've been busy in there...

The spiced nuts would make a wonderful gift. I think. We can't keep them around long enough to package and give away, so it's only a guess. The saltine toffee, of course, is a natural favorite. James has reached a Zen-like mastery of the Russian tea cakes (aka, Snowballs, or Mexican Wedding Cookies). And a dear friend brought the mock Turtles to the Troop meeting last week (pretzels, rolos, and she topped hers with M&Ms, although pecans are traditional, and almonds are not bad at all!) So Jase and Em have been making those. Rice krispy treat wreaths, and old fashioned chocolate chip cookies round out this week's adventures. I might make some of my Mother-in-Law's amazing candies the week after Christmas. (The kids need to be busy doing something else for that. I don't have it down well enough to supervise helpers, and there would be scalding. She would probably rescind my rights to the recipes, and rightfully so, if I scalded the grandbabies.) We're on the lookout for more ideas to make together, though. Do you have a favorite recipe you'd be willing to let me know about?

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, December 17

A Busy Day in December

Z and I did quite a bit of shopping today, finishing up the majority of our gift purchases. Coffee, quiet time in the car, no bickering over what to buy or where to go. It. Was. Wonderful. Long-term monogamy is handy for us slow learners. Give us another 15 years, and we are absolutely going to *rock* this living together thing!

I'm finally entering the... whatever century this is... and actually used my Amazon app to buy books. In the car. On our way home. I don't know why that felt like such a milestone, but it did. :tinylittlefistbump: Had this phone for two years, and it's only been in the past few months that I've figured out how to use it. This is why I'm not an early adopter, right? But, yay, Amazon loves me and there will be books beneath the tree!

James watched the siblings for us, which was huge. He wants to babysit, and so the experience is good for him. Plus, it's not a bad gig - they played Apples to Apples and Battleship. He made lunch. Jacob made smoothies. Then James and John read to the little ones, and spearheaded the video game rotations, all without wielding the Staff Of Power, or any other nonsense. Just a good, warm, gentle time of watching the Littles. They were all quite content and safe. Plus, he called to check in while we were out. :happy melting heart: He's such a great big brother. And a neat kid, overall.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center is here in Alabama. I'd feel silly if we lived here a decade and never made it over there. (Kind of like not making it to the Walls of Jericho, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Buck's Pocket, Rock City, and a few other places on our To Do list...) So that's where we went today. Wow. Oh, wow. That is a cool little place. They have a museum, with displays and information on the more interesting things that have come their way. They have a central pillar display done up like ancient Venetian plaster, with money and pictures from around the world worked into the columns. I'm pretty sure I couldn't go on a highly hormonal day, as there were a few things that you just *know* someone really, really missed, and I couldn't imagine not trying to find out who and where, to reunite them with the lost item. So. There is that warning. But if you're of a less sentimental nature, it's a neat little place to find interesting things. No pictures from there, though. They do have a hashtag and posters for Instagram users who want to tag them. I nearly took a picture of that, but couldn't decide if it was weird or ironic. If you can't tell, it's best to pass, I think.

And the window trim is up! (As of two minutes ago.) I have to clean, and we need sunlight, but then I'll share a picture of the end result. This project is as big an improvement as pulling the carpet was! (Z says not quite, from a health standpoint, the carpet wins. That's a fair assessment.)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Wednesday, December 12

Wow.

There is a window in the wall, folks! It's IN. It's not foamed or trimmed, but I don't particularly mind. It's IN! It's so pretty, too. We may get up early tomorrow, just to enjoy the light as the sun comes up.

Also, that was just in time. We have a Scout meeting here tomorrow. The boys will be down in the meadow (additional serendipity: meteor shower tomorrow night! WOOHOO!), but the committee members will probably appreciate meeting indoors before that. It will be nice for there to be a marked difference, yes? Yes, we thought so, too.

Standing back, taking in the progress, I'd wondered aloud if we could find before-before pictures of the house, and Zorak mentioned that he's pretty sure there are some on the blog. I'll bet he's right! That will make before/after shots significantly easier, but it also got us thinking about how much we've done, and how much we've learned. We're really quite fortunate to have one another -- it's a good combination. Although I am excited about living in a normal, finished house for a time. At least until we have the opportunity to take on another Big Project.


Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Saturday, December 8

Spoke too soon.

No pictures. I can't find the camera!

It's just been that sort of week, really. Thankfully, it's over. And while I'm bummed about the camera going missing (although it's *got* to be here, somewhere -- it's just got to be -- we had it at the Troop Christmas Party, then came home... didn't go anywhere else or do anything else. It's crazy.) -- really, it's not going to upend our world. We have a lot to be glad for, and we are. (Although I did push pretty hard on the Clean As You Look For It rule, and the house is quite tidy, now.)

Zorak and the boys got all the brick off the wall, got the sheathing prepped, the bricks cleaned, and started re-bricking where it needs to have a wall. That's crazy-scary, watching that. Brick dust is tremendous, and duct tape is a total godsend for sealing off leaks and keeping the dust out of the house. Bless the engineers at Johnson & Johnson. (As a side note, I read several articles that stated the Germans called it Panzertape. Now that's an endorsement, isn't it? Good stuff, by any name.) We ran out of mortar today, but will get some tomorrow, and hope to have it done by the end of this weekend.

EmBaby has begun to suspect that we're trying to get out of Christmas decorating. (She asked the other day, "Are we having a tree this year? Should we just decorate the bookshelves?") I guess we do need to put that on the to-do list for this week. The kids haven't exactly nixed the idea of cutting their own tree again this year, but they haven't made eye contact when we've brought it up, either. Z and I figure this may be the year to buy a replacement tree. I geeked out over one last week that has little, fake pine cones on it. James and the littles were with me, and it's not clear whether they thought I was joking or not. (I wasn't. It's truly just ugly enough to be wonderful! Whimsical! Perfect!)

Meanwhile, we're still loving the new arrangement. EmBaby did her schoolwork in the Dining Room. We aren't even doing school this week! We need some actual furniture for the living room, now that it's the size of a living room, but that will come. Eventually, we get things done.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Thursday, December 6

It's like having an illness!

We got the kitchen painted and the cabinets reinstalled. They look lovely. Also, the kids are stoked to eat like normal again. Meanwhile, the voices (I don't know if it's the house, the caffeine, or what) started up again. That dining table... needs to be shorter, and wider, doesn't it?

Yessss....

And then it would fit in the school room, wouldn't it?

Mmmm, yes...

I wonder if we could put the computer over in that corner?

Oh, yes, my lovely...

Ohhh! And then (THEN!) we could put furniture equidistant from the wood stove on the right, doubling our living space!

Yessss, you're mine, now. You won't be able to think about anything else until you try it...

SURE! All we have to do is move those two bookshelves, dismantle the computer desk and the shelf over that... empty the corner hutch, and... why, we can do this before dinner! It's brilliant!

It's a good thing I've never done drugs. I can't imagine how much worse this could be. The kids didn't even flinch, and when Zorak got home, there we were, wading mid-calf deep through books stacked in the living room, vacuuming up dead bugs, maneuvering around empty bookcases parked caddywompus in the dining room. He's such a sport. Mere mortals would, at the least, use a tense, hissing voice as they inquired what in the name of all that's holy is going on here. Lesser men might even have asked about the voices. He just threw some pork steaks in the oven and helped schlep books back and forth.

For hours.

But we ate in the new Dining Room! It's echo-y and bare, but pleasant and intimate. (Definitely need a different table, though.) And after the kids went to bed, we sorted and shelved books. I have about 90# of books that don't have a home now that we've taken down the computer shelf, and the corner between the hutch and the tea cart accumulated a shocking amount of crap in the last five years. (None of which I have any idea where to put.) And then there's that paper addiction we haven't addressed yet. So really, it looks worse. Much, much worse. And the voices would be laughing, but they gave up and went to bed two hours ago.

The window will be here next weekend (not the one coming, but the one after), and I hope to have everything looking like it's meant to be this way by the time the window arrives. We'll see how that goes.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, December 2

Watching Paint Dry

Turns out, it won't dry any faster if you watch it. (And yet, I stare. Go figure.)

As of this writing, the kitchen has been textured and primed. I wanted to paint tonight, but that's not going to happen. Of course, I wanted to put the kitchen back together tonight, too, so admittedly, I had ulterior motives at work, there. Still, we are moving forward, keeping our spirits up, and our debris to a minimum. If I can get two coats on tomorrow, then Zorak can do a few things under the cabinets when he gets home and then we'll be in business. I can't describe how giddy I am over this project.

We bought enough paint to do all the living area spaces that are currently Heavy Cream. (Fresh paint does wonders, even if it's the same color you had before.) I thought I'd run into a bit of a snag, though, when I pulled the paint chip for it. It's... tan. According to the paint chip, Olympic's "Heavy Cream" is a tan color. I stuck it under the wonder lights, to see if our lighting must be making it look different. Nope. It looks tan under all the different lighting options. So I called James and asked him to read the label to me. It matched. No extra letters, numbers, or runes anywhere on the can? Nope. :shrug: OK, then. Since we're redoing everything, I guess it wouldn't matter if it were way off. It's just unsettling to think you've been living in a creamy yellow house for seven years, only to find out it's tan and everybody you know just smiled and nodded when you described it as yellow.

The guys began the brick work today, removing the bricks from within the space for the new window. The boys helped get them off, and took turns cleaning bricks (some of the old window space will now be wall, so we want to re-tread bricks to match where we'll have to build new wall.). If there is a patron saint of lungs or respiratory systems, I need to know. The dust is astounding! Even with filters and tarps and a good breeze to keep it moving away from the house, everything is covered in abrasive dust. Blech. By the time we're done with this project, it's going to take another six months to get it all out of the house.

Anyway, the boys worked their fingers to the bone this weekend. Zorak declared they did a steak-worthy job, so we splurged on steaks and turnip greens tonight. So good. I wish we could afford for them to work this hard all the time!

The window will be here in 13 days. That's plenty of time to finish what we can of the brickwork, have the rest of the kitchen back together, and start another project. I love this time of year!

Kiss those babies!
~Dy