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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What a year...

I've been thinking for the last few days (scary, I know).

I knew I wanted to write something about New Years. But did I want to do resolutions? Goals? The year in review? A post blasting the cliches of resolutions?

Honestly, this year has been a total whirlwind for me.

Seriously? I bought a freakin' house. A HOUSE. How did that happen? Days away from homelessness a few short years ago, and now a homeowner? For real?

Just a few weeks short of a year later, it's still surreal. From tearing out old flooring, putting in new flooring, dealing with a flood, a worn-out water heater, more yardwork and cleanup and tree trimming and digging and planting than I care to think of, so much cleaning and unpacking and organizing (still)..... I still catch myself running my hands down the walls and thinking to myself "holy crap, this is MINE" at least once a day.

The list of projects, both inside and out, continues to grow, but it's a manageable list. We have things to work towards to make the house perfect, and I know that we'll get to them sooner or later, but it's mine. My house.

It's insane.

The boys have adjusted well to their new school. They've become involved in sports and have made tons of friends and love to be outside terrorizing the neighborhood with the other kids. The older kids enjoy not having to bounce back and forth between two towns to spend time with each parent, and the stress level has decreased greatly.

Life is good.

Do I have 'resolutions' for next year? Not really. Goals? Yes. But I hesitate to call them resolutions, only because I know the failure rate of my so-called resolutions.

Am I going to list them out for the world to see? Nope. Not this time. Sometimes, I do better when I don't have an audience. Sometimes, it's better to do things just for myself, and then it's more fun if someone else happens to notice.

I will say that I'm officially signed up for two half-marathons already, but that shouldn't come as a surprise for anyone who has been around for a while. I have some other health-related goals, and some financial ones, and some personal ones. I do hope to write more, and take more pictures, and sew more.

Regardless, I'm ready to see what 2015 has in store for me.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just something to think about...

My heart is hurting tonight.

Today, the son of one of my oldest friends was sentenced for a crime that he committed.

The sentence, while harsh, is fair. He screwed up. He screwed up in a really big, really bad way. There's no getting around that. He admitted it. He has apologized and is remorseful, but that doesn't change anything.

I met this young man several years ago. I was impressed with his attitude, his demeanor, his respect that he showed to those around him.

But sometime after that, he made mistakes. There is no excuse for what he did.

I have watched the reports about him in the media. Most of them have been neutral. Fact-based. Emotionless. This happened, and then this happened, and he did this, and then this.

But that's where the neutrality ended. Hiding behind their monitors, the keyboard warriors struck out at this young man and his family. His family, who had nothing to do with the crimes committed, was attacked.

His mother - my friend - was called every name in the book. She was blamed for his wrongdoings, as though she was the one egging him on to commit the crimes. The comments left by anonymous people turned my stomach. People suggested that his parents were to blame, or that they somehow encouraged this kind of behavior from him, or worse yet - that they should be punished for what he did.

Honestly, in the past, I never really thought about the families of criminals. They were generally nameless beings, someone who floated around in the background at the trials or tried desperately to hide from the barrage of video cameras.

But I know this mother. I've known her for close to 30 years. I remember the letters that she wrote to me when she was in the service, the ones telling me that she was pregnant, and the ones including baby pictures of her boys. We lost touch for a while, but through the miracle of social media we reconnected and I loved seeing the pictures that she posted of her sons. The love she has for them is incredible.

And then the unthinkable happened. And I watched the articles that were posted online. And I read every single comment that was posted. I cried for her, for the wrong assumptions that people made about her parenting, and for the threats that were made against her because of her son's mistakes. I wanted to scream at these people, "but you don't even know her!" but I couldn't. I couldn't say anything, because there is no reasoning with people who are looking to vilify someone.

Somehow, she has managed to hold her head up high through all of this. She has shown such an amazing amount of strength and courage despite what people have said. I don't know how she manages to do it.

I do know that she doesn't deserve the nasty names.
She doesn't deserve the hatred.
No one has the right to threaten her or her family.
She shouldn't be judged based on his actions.
She didn't commit the crimes.

She is already being punished. She has had to watch her child make mistakes and suffer the severe consequences for his actions. She questions herself as to what she could have done differently or how she could have prevented this, knowing full well that despite what anyone else thinks, she did her best.

It is not her fault. She is not to blame.

The victims of the crimes are not always the only victims.


Monday, December 1, 2014

A push

I got pushed today. Not really pushed, but more like shoved. And smacked around a bit.

It actually started about a week ago. I'm in a whole bunch of groups on facebook, but one of them is a small group of local ladies who all run. I met several of them when I did the half-marathon in October, and they are awesome. But since that race, I haven't done anything to get in shape, or to even maintain the bleh shape that I was in when I did that race. Nothing. I haven't even gone for a walk.

So....like I said, a week-ish ago, this post caught my eye.....


Two miles a day for 2 weeks, I thought. I might be able to do that. So I agreed.

Of course, when I agreed, the weather was decent. Today, on the first day of the challenge? Yeah. Not so much.


I thought about waiting until later in the day (notice the time on that shot is 7:35am), but I had so much going on that I knew that if I didn't do it as soon as I dropped the kids off at school, I wasn't going to do it. And if I missed the first day, then I wouldn't do the challenge at all - because that's the way that my mind works. And I also knew that I had an appointment at 9am so if I was going to do it, I had to do it right then and there. I threw on an extra layer of clothes, cursed the girls in that group as I felt them virtually shove me out the door, and took off.


It. was. cold.

OMG it was cold. There was just enough wind that it was absolutely miserable as I started walking into it, and I came *thisclose* to turning around and going straight back to the house. But, it was a challenge. And I knew that if I got going, once I got to a certain point on my predetermined route, I could turn and have the wind at my back.

And then my mind started to wander in typical brain dump fashion. I'm not going to bore you with the total stream of consciousness train of thought that went in a bajillion different directions at a speed that blew my mind, but it was intense.

Ultimately, I thought about how parents tend to always put their kids first. I mean, really, who wouldn't? We have these little humans that depend on us for everything (more or less) and so we have to make sure that they're taken care of because that's our job, right? And we run ourselves ragged taking care of them and doing the things that parents do because it's what we're supposed to do and it's what we're expected to do - and we put ourselves last, sometimes to our own detriment.

I am so guilty of this, as most people know. I don't do squat for myself except maybe sit on my butt on the couch with a glass of wine once in a while (speaking of which...... I'm thirsty). And while taking care of the kids is all well and good (and ultimately, necessary) I realized....

I have to start taking better care of myself.

It seriously hit me like a smack upside the head. It's something that I've always known in the back of my mind, but I've ignored it because it seems like anytime parents (and yes, especially a mom) put themselves first, they are ripped to shreds by society. They are called selfish, self-centered, irresponsible, or bad parents.

I have been called all sorts of horrible names in the past because I am grateful when the kids go back to school after a long weekend or summer break. It's not that I want to get rid of my kids, but it's because I know that I can use that time away from them to work on things that *I* need to do to make me a better parent. Sometimes, it's mundane tasks like folding laundry and scrubbing toilets because I know that if I get those done while the kids are gone, I can spend more quality time with them when they return. And sometimes it's things like going for a run or taking a nap, because I need some time to do something that is completely and totally for me and for me only.

But even those things that I do for me and for me only end up benefiting the kids because guess what? When I get to do them, I'm in a better mood.

Better mood = better mom.


And seriously, who can argue with that train of thought when a view like this is staring you in the face while it's happening?

I came back from that run this morning feeling like it was ok to want to get back into running again. Like it's ok to finally commit to doing something for myself. Like maybe, just maybe, I can actually succeed at this 2-week challenge, and then continue on from there.

It's amazing how much my perspective can change in one 33 minute chunk of time.


And maybe, just maybe, in 2 weeks I can shave more than a few minutes off of that pathetic time. Assuming that I don't freeze a few limbs off in the process.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Making Amends

I got a phone call yesterday. Actually, I got a voicemail because as soon as I saw the area code of the caller, I got chills and couldn't move to answer it even if I wanted to.

I waited for the voicemail notification, staring at the phone the entire time. I was sitting downstairs in the Mom Cave at the sewing machine, and the phone was sitting beside the machine as I worked. When the notification chimed, I picked up the phone, called the voicemail, and somehow entered my code with my hands shaking.

"Good morning, Amy! This is S, Jeff's father. I'm calling because I need to talk with you. I know it's been a long time and there's been some issues and so forth but anyway, I'm trying to reach out. I need to make some amends and I'd really like to hear from you. I'd appreciate it very much. I've been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and enough is enough. We need to make some peace here so anyway I hope things are well. My wife keeps track of you on the internet and she just says that you're just such a lovely mother and I believe that. Anyway when it's convenient, and if you don't, I understand too. I just would like to talk with you. Anyway, I hope it warms up there in Kansas. Give me a call. Please. Bye."

My first reaction was extreme anger. Then sadness. Pain. Anger. Devastation. Confusion. Intense sadness. Disbelief. Anger.

I screamed and yelled and cried and stomped around the house and sobbed and collapsed in the middle of the living room floor.

How dare he do this? Why now? What gives this man the right to call me and "make amends"???

I called The Dude and told him what happened. I forwarded the voicemail to him so that he could hear it. He asked me the Million Dollar Question: What are you going to do?

I've gone round and round and round in my head about it. I've listened to the message dozens of times. And here is my response:

Dear S:

First of all, I'm sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Cancer is a truly horrible disease, and I don't wish it on anyone.

I have not stopped thinking about how to handle this since the second that I saw your number come up on my phone. I thought about ignoring it and just not responding, but realistically - that gives you closure. You get to say "well, I tried" and pat yourself on the back. I thought about calling you back and telling you exactly how I feel, but I know that wouldn't end well. You would try to manipulate me and tell me again how everything was all my fault like you've done in the past, and I wouldn't be able to say what I wanted to say. Maybe a public blog post isn't the best way to handle it, but I don't have your address so I can't send you a letter - and this way it's "out there" so that everyone can see exactly what I said.... because I have nothing to hide.

Just to refresh your memory, it's been more than 5 1/2 years since you've bothered to contact me. To be precise, I told Jeff to leave for the final time 5 years, 6 months, and 2 days ago - and you never bothered to contact me since before then. You never called to make sure that Daniel was ok or to see if he needed anything. You wrote him off, just like the rest of your family did.

Even after I made it clear that you could have a relationship with Daniel, you chose not to. You continued to ignore him. Worse, you and/or your family made it your mission to make our lives more difficult. The decisions made by you and your family destroyed everything that I had and everything that I was for a while.

But now..... after all of this time..... you want to make amends.

Why? Because you're dying.

Think about that. You're not doing it because it's the right thing to do or because you miss your grandson, but because you're dying. You didn't even mention him in your voicemail - it was all about you and your need to make amends. It's not about anyone else but you. You think that if you do this now, you'll get your Get Into Heaven Free card.

You could have done this any time in the last 5 1/2 years, but no. You chose to wait until the last minute, giving me a guilt-laden ultimatum to make you feel better about yourself.

I have news for you.

No.

You lost your chance.

I have done nothing in the last 5 1/2 years but put my kids first. I have fought tooth and nail to give them the life that they deserve. We have struggled to rebuild what we lost after we lost Jeff, and we did it without your help. We have moved on, we have grown up, and we have learned what is truly important in life. I am not the same person that I was back then. I don't allow myself to be trampled anymore. I don't hide my feelings, and I'm not afraid to tell you exactly what I think of you.

You have done nothing for Daniel. Nothing. You have not been there for him. You have not shown him love or respect or anything but indifference. You have only shown him that he is not worth anything to you or anyone else in your family.

The good news is that he has a huge family who does love him. He has a dad now - one who he has chosen and one who loves him as a dad should. He has siblings and grandparents and cousins and crazy aunts and uncles who love him as he deserves to be loved - and they won't turn their backs on him.

You chose not to have that. You chose to wait until the last minute, hoping that I would feel bad enough for you to give into you and give you what you expect - but it's not going to happen. Maybe I'll regret this decision some time in the future - but then I'll remind myself that it wasn't me who turned my back 5 1/2 years ago.

It wasn't Daniel's fault. It wasn't my fault.

It was you. It was your family. It was your choices.

So there you go. You reached out. You tried. Good for you.

And I told you what I think. Good for me.

I guess we both got something out of this.

Peace,
Amy

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blanket Update

So a couple of weeks ago, I posted the deal about creating Mom Cave Designs, and I figured that it was time to give a semi-official update on what's been going on with that.

It's been interesting, to say the least. People have shown a tremendous amount of interest, and I can see that there is definitely a market out there for weighted blankets (among other things). I honestly  had no idea how fast something like this could grow. Since I got started, I think I've completed 3 blankets to order, I have one blanket that is being made, and I have orders for 5 more (that's off the top of my head, but the numbers are pretty close). It might not seem like a ton, but it's been keeping me busy. I got a little bit of a break last week while I waited for supplies to arrive after I ordered them, but that gave me a chance to get some stuff done around the house.

The most surprising thing that has happened though.....I have had several people contact me to basically say "your prices are too low" or "you aren't charging enough for your work" or "you're never going to make any money like this". You get the idea.

It dawned on me that a lot of people who are following me on the Mom Cave Designs page don't necessarily know me as Non-Stop Mom. They don't all know who I am or any of my story, and that helps to explain the low pricing.

I'm NOT in this to get rich. I'm just not. I don't need the money. When my second ex-husband unexpectedly passed away, Daniel and I started receiving Social Security benefits. Those benefits caused a lot of drama for a while because of the people who felt that I didn't deserve them, but that's another story altogether. The reality of the situation is that we receive enough money on a monthly basis to pay all of our bills and have a little bit left over. We are not rich. We don't have much in savings (that happens when you buy an older house) but we survive and we manage to do a little extra here and there. So "getting rich" off of these blankets is not really a priority. Will a little bit of extra money here and there help us? Of course it will. Is it the driving force behind doing this? Not even close.

What we want to do is make them affordable. The blankets do absolutely no good to anyone if they are so outrageously priced that people can't afford to buy them. We want to help people get the blankets that they need without having to sacrifice something else that is equally as important to be able to afford them.

I don't see it as doing anything amazing or spectacular and I certainly don't expect any kind of recognition for it. I just want to be able to sew and create things and help people, and if I make a little bit of extra money, great. It'll be even better when we get to the point that we can start making blankets to donate to those who need them, but that will take a little bit of time yet.

At the same time though, I am a mother first. I have 5 extremely active and involved kids. They are in sports and extracurricular activities and Scouts and church and everything else under the sun. I'm a single mom, and even though The Dude helps me out when he can, he's not here all of the time and so the housework and the grocery shopping and the yardwork and the kid chauffeuring and everything else falls back on me 99% of the time. The Mom Stuff has to take priority, especially when the kids are at home - so when they're here I run around and do what needs to be done around the house, but as soon as they're in bed or at school I head down to the Mom Cave and get busy. Right now I have a fairly quick turnaround on the blankets but as time goes on and I get busier with that, it will probably slow down a bit - but I don't plan to raise my prices any time soon.

Alrighty then....
I'm also looking into the things that I need to do to actually eventually turn this into a legitimate business if it looks like that would be a good thing to do. Right now, it's still in the little more than a hobby but not quite a business stage. I don't want to jump the gun and do all sorts of crazy official stuff until I know exactly which direction we're going and where we might land with all of this stuff.

For now, I'm learning as I go. I know that I can make the blankets and I'm enjoying doing it. I welcome any input or suggestions or critiques that anyone wants to give. I've had people ask if it's ok to share the page or share the blog - please do, because otherwise we won't be able to do this. (For the record, I've thought about starting a secondary blog just for the business stuff, but honestly..... it's so intertwined with me and who I am that it would be hard to separate it...... so it'll all just be contained right here in this nifty little package.)

There are other things rattling around in my skull but for now I just wanted to explain the lower prices a little more in detail for those who don't know the whole story. And just in case you haven't been around here for a while - if you have any questions, just ask me. Seriously.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Start of Something ...... Small to Medium (for now)

So.....

If you've been hanging around here for very long, you know that I sew. Kind of a lot. Or at least, I try to when I'm not running around like the proverbial headless chicken all hopped up on caffeine. I've always wanted to get a business going around it, but so far that hasn't really happened yet. A craft show here and there, or a special order once in a while, and that's been about it.

Then, a series of things happened.

Actually, it started a couple of years ago when a dear friend of mine took in 3 little boys who were in need of a new home. Keep that in the back of your mind for right now, ok?

I bought this house. And it has this incredible basement that I can almost totally devote to my crafty stuff. Getting it cleaned up and usable has been more than a little bit of a chore, but it's so close to being perfect that I can spend time down there actually sewing instead of hyperventilating over the mess.

Then my friend got another child, the little sister of the boys she already had in her home. One of the boys started showing some signs of autism and other sensory issues, and she has been doing everything in her power and within the foster care system to meet his needs. She called me one day and asked me "hey, what do you know about weighted blankets?"

Huh. I've never been asked that before. So I started researching. I was astonished at the prices and knew that I could make them for less money than what some of these companies were asking. I started crunching numbers and doing thousands of searches online for supplies and ideas and prices and ideas.

The Dude and I talked about it. We talked to friends who have experience with these things. We brainstormed. We drew pictures and talked and discussed and made phone calls and did more research and discussed and bickered (but just a little).

And then we went to Oklahoma to see my friend and these precious children, and to help them move into a new home. The Dude, my friend and I all sat down and talked and crunched numbers and brainstormed some more.

On the way back to Kansas, he and I talked about it some more. We both decided that this is something that is worth pursuing, even if it's just a short-term project. I ordered the pellets needed to weight a blanket, and dug through my fabric stash to see what I could make for her little boy as a prototype.

It took me more than a few weeks to make that first one, as life was too crazy for a while. But then I got it done and had it ready to ship to her. I had done everything except for take pictures of it, and she called me and asked me to come back down to help her - she had just moved again (long story on that one) and was diagnosed with diabetes, and she was struggling. I packed the boys into the Traverse, pulled out of the driveway, went to the gas station, went back to the house to get the blanket, and hit the road.

Once we got there, we basically forgot about the blanket other than pulling it out of the bag to show it to her, and then it got put aside. I don't remember exactly what happened at one point, but her little boy started to have a meltdown. He was extremely upset and was kicking and screaming and crying and flailing all over the place. She got him in her arms and sat down on the couch and motioned for me to hand her the blanket. I tossed it to her and she draped it across him, and as the weight settled on him, he immediately became quiet and relaxed.

She and I looked at each other in shock. We had never witnessed what one of these blankets could do.

I knew right then and there that this was something that I need to do.

I've referred to the basement in this house as the "Mom Cave" ever since we moved in, and as ideas for this have been rolling around, so has a name for our venture. "Mom Cave Designs" was born. I snagged a facebook page for it, but didn't post anything until tonight as I kept working on ideas.



Our (and when I say "our" I mean me and The Dude because he's in on this too) general idea for the blankets is this - while we will have some standard blankets on hand (after we get them made), we will make them to order, because we know that kids (and adults) who need them sometimes have very particular requests/needs. We plan to sell them at very reasonable prices, because we're not out to get rich off of these. We actually want to turn some of the profit around to make more blankets that can be donated - either to kids in the foster care or mental health system, or to families who can't afford to buy them.

We want to make a difference.

Of course, it's going to take a while to get this going full-speed. There are some things that we need to do first to make it easier - small things like getting a piece of wood cut to make a tabletop for the pool table to give us a big work area, buying a bigger ironing board to make working with larger pieces of fabric easier, buying the pellets in bulk to get the biggest cost savings, buying some bulk fabric and thread, etc.... and other things like looking into what needs to be done to turn this into a legitimate business should it grow and succeed as we hope it does. For now, we're going to take it all one step at a time, but I already threatened him that if this takes off, he's going to be learning how to use a sewing machine pretty darned quick!

Mom Cave Designs will be more than just the blankets though. It will be everything that I make, but with a focus on the blankets. As of right now, I have pictures posted of two smaller lap blankets that I made as samples, and also some Trick or Treat bags that I made that I have for sale. I plan to post more items over the next few days, as I go through my inventory and see what I have. Anything that is sold in the near future will help to fund the initial startup costs to get some more blankets made.

As this progresses, I'll be posting updates on the Mom Cave Designs facebook page, so if you'd like to keep up on the day to day progress you can follow me there - but of course I'll always be on my regular Non-Stop Mom page too.

So.....it'll either be really cool, or it'll be a train wreck. Only time will tell. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mayberry

I swear.... we moved to Mayberry.

And I mean that in the best possible way.

The boys have gotten into a routine after school. The girls are always at volleyball practice for the first few after-school hours, so the boys come home, grab a snack, do homework and whatever else I need them to do, and then they're gone.

They are back outside as fast as they can possibly be. They grab their bikes and that's it. I don't see them again until I hunt them down after I pick the girls up from practice. They ride up and down the street, or to the park that's a few blocks away, or to any number of friends' houses. If I don't spot them right away, I usually spot their bikes parked in front of someone's house - and it's never just one or two bikes. There's usually a whole pile of bikes and scooters with random footballs and hoodies nearby.

Today, a bunch of their friends showed up here, and then they all took off and disappeared. I heard them say something about going to the park. A little while later, there was a knock at my door. There was a man who looked vaguely familiar standing there, and he asked if his daughter was still here playing with Alex. I said no, that they had all taken off toward the park a little bit ago. He laughed, we introduced ourselves to each other, and then he said he was going to go to the park to get her for supper - so I asked him to send my boys back when he saw them. He smiled and waved as he got in his car and drove down the street. Sure enough they boys came zooming back a few minutes later. "Mom, did you need us?" I told them I just wanted them to check in with me and sent them back on their way again.

A little later, I looked out the kitchen window and saw them climbing the cottonwood tree and playing in the dirt.



All 3 of them were covered in filth from head to toe. I made them come inside one by one and actually gave them baths instead of letting them do it on their own - because I knew that there was no way that they were going to get the dirt out of their hair by themselves.


And then I scrubbed every inch of the bathroom, from top to bottom.

This is it. This is why we moved. This is the way that life is supposed to be - knowing that I can send my kids outside and not worry about them and they can play with their friends and have fun and get dirty and not be sitting inside with their noses stuck in a video game.

Sure, they get into arguments with each other while they're out running around. But you know what? They resolve it on their own. They know that if they have to come running to me to tattle or settle a fight, I'm going to make them come inside. They know that if anyone strange happens to approach them, they are to stick together and either come get me or get to a friend's house, whichever is closer. Same thing if someone gets hurt. They are learning to cooperate with each other and to look out for each other and to amuse themselves. They problem solve and brainstorm and meet new friends and play new versions of old games.

And they get to be kids. If that means that I have to scrub the bathroom every single day, I'm ok with it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I Stayed

After I got the boys off to school this morning, I came back home and sat down in front of the laptop as I often do, trying to finish waking up. I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed and I saw a link that several people had posted, and it caught my attention.


If you haven't read that article yet, do it. Do it now.

Read the tweets. All of them. 

Read the last paragraph.

Now think about what you just read. I mean, really think about it.

How many times have you heard about a domestic violence situation, and questioned why the victim didn't just leave? How many times have you said something along the lines of "If that was me, I'd kick him in the junk and walk out the door"? 

Do you know how many times I said that before?

Trust me when I say that it's not that easy. It's hard. Staying in a bad situation is hard, but leaving is even harder.

A bike ride with this kind of scenery -
perfect therapy.
I went for a bike ride after I read that article. I needed to get out of the house and away from the computer and get some fresh air and quit crying. I ended up going about 6 miles, which is about 5 miles longer than any ride I've done recently, and even with a minor spill along the way, it did me good to work through my thoughts.

It has been 5 years, 4 months, and 3 days since I left my second marriage. And reading tweets like that can still bring me to tears, remembering exactly how it felt. I could feel the pain in those tweets. I can still feel the pain of what I went through - both physically and mentally.

Why did I stay for so long?

We He made the decision that I should quit my job and stay home with the kids. I had no job, no income, no way to support myself and my kids if I left. So I stayed.

I knew that I could file for child support and apply for assistance and things like that, but knowing the bureaucracy and red tape of the system, I wouldn't get it immediately - and landlords don't accept "I'll pay you in a couple of months" before they offer you a lease on your own place away from the abuse. So I stayed.

When we bought the van, he put it in his name because it was "easier" - leaving me with no transportation if I walked out. So I stayed.

Sure, he was mean when he drank. But he was nice to us when he was sober. So I stayed.

He worked hard at his job all day, so when he came home and the house wasn't clean enough, it was definitely my fault because I didn't work hard enough to clean it. But I knew that I could do better to make him happy. So I stayed.

I just needed to be a better wife and mother, and he'd stop drinking and treat me better. I could fix everything that was wrong. So I stayed.

When he dozed off on the couch and I finally figured out that he was hiding flasks of booze in his boots, he responded by kicking me as hard as he could. But really, I had just startled him and it was a reflex, and he didn't really mean to do it. So I stayed.

He choked me in a drunken rage when I was 6 months pregnant with our son. But I had made him angry when I grabbed his shirt to make him look me in the eyes and be honest with me. After I bailed him out of jail that night, he swore that it would never happen again. So I stayed.

He really didn't mean to knock me down and fling my glasses across the floor when he hit me upside the head. I was already crouching down so I was off-balance when he hit me - otherwise it wouldn't have happened. And he really didn't mean to hit me - it was accidental. Honest. So I stayed.

He was with his first wife for close to 20 years. Obviously, if she stayed with him for that long, things must have been fine and this behavior must have started when he married me. I must have somehow broken him - so I had to fix him. So I stayed.

If I left, who would take care of him? I loved him, and I didn't want to hurt him. So I stayed.

I loved him. So I stayed.

It finally took him pulling a knife to get me to realize that I didn't deserve this anymore. My kids didn't deserve it either. No one deserves it - men, women, children, young, old, black, white - it doesn't matter.

If you know of someone who is being abused - the last thing that he/she needs is your judgment. That person needs your support and your love more than anything. It's so hard to get out of those situations - contrary to popular belief, resources are not always readily available. It is not something that most victims are willing to discuss with just anyone, and so often the allegations of abuse come as a surprise to those around them - and they're not always believed, making it harder to get the support that is needed to get out of the situation.

Stop judging the victims. Support them. Love them. Be there for them. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why do I push?

I spent pretty much the entire day outside cutting firewood and cleaning up the corner of the yard and the firepit area. The general firewood area has needed to be cleaned up for a while, but the firepit area really needed it after I tore down the fence the other day - since I just chucked all of the old fence over the remaining fence into that area rather than dragging it all the way around and into the gate.



I got to work early this morning and started knocking stuff out fairly quickly. But as time went on, I started to get tired. After tearing part of the fence down two days ago, and tearing the old gate down yesterday, my body was just tired.

I stopped occasionally to catch my breath and move into the shade, and I'd occasionally check the notifications on my phone. There were a couple of notifications on the pictures that I had posted of the work that I've done, and there were some comments that were complimenting me on what I've accomplished.

In typical brain dump fashion, my thoughts started to go in a few different directions. I started thinking about different reactions that I've gotten to various accomplishments that I've posted about in the past. Everything from variations of "good job" to "you've inspired me because...." Those thoughts made me start thinking about why I post these kind of things.

It's not for attention. It's not for the virtual pats on the back. It's not to brag or to show off or to gloat or anything like that. Honestly, it's not for me at all.

Every now and then, I get a message from someone who says "I've felt so hopeless because of my situation, but then I see what you can accomplish and I know that you've been in my shoes and so if you can do it, so can I".

That is why I do it. That is why I post the things that I do.

For the person who has hit rock bottom and doesn't know it it's possible to get back up again.

For the person who is so broke that pennies found on the ground are hoarded like gold coins.

For the person who has gotten smacked around by an alcoholic partner one too many times.

For the person who battles depression and struggles to get out of bed and function.

For the person whose kids have said "I don't like you right now, so I'm moving out for a while."

For the person who is struggling in any way.





If by some chance, someone is inspired by the things that I do and post, then that is all that I need. That makes all of this work - and blogging about it - worth it. And it gives me a reason to get the work done - the inspiration that people get from looking at my work inspires me to do even more.

Pay it forward, one positive thought at a time.

If I can do it, anyone can.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Got a few things done today...

I started out putting the finishing touches on the dining room curtains, which included washing the drapes. They came with the house, so there's no telling how old they actually are - but they're old. I was feeling brave so I tossed them into the washer on the 'handwash' cycle and hung them out on the line to dry. They survived, although the linings needed to be repaired because the fabric shredded in places.

But, they are hanging back up, complete with the new sheers that I made. I got regular sheers at the Dollar Store and shortened them and added the pleats, and got the full set for about $10.

Someday I might actually hang the birdhouses outside.

Then I went outside. The Dude and I planted some raspberry and blueberry bushes before we went on vacation, and then we just kind of tossed the bricks over there so that we had an idea of how many we needed to do the edging, but that was as far as we got. I finished that project up rather quickly, before the sun hit that part of the yard.

Before...

After...
Then - for some bizarre reason - I decided to tackle the fence around the shed. I've been working on getting this corner of the yard cleaned up because with it being outside of the fence, it looks awful as people are driving past. The fence right there was useless - most of it was just leaning against the shed, and what was still attached to anything was rotten.

Side. Isn't that a lovely fence?

Back - this section of fence was actually in the best condition.
Go figure.
It really didn't take much effort to pull the fencing down. I eventually got a hammer to break apart a few pieces, but most of it was so rotten that I could just pull it down. The posts had rotted off at the bases and I was able to just knock them down too - although they did take a little more effort. I took all of the wood and just tossed it over the fence into the firepit area - we'll pull the nails and burn it all eventually.

What was left of the window had a couple of pieces of screen just nailed over it, so I pulled those off and found out that the entire window was coming out of the wall, so I beat that back in with the hammer and then pulled out the broken glass so that I could put plexiglass in instead.

Obviously, we need to paint it. And plant stuff.

So much better.

Pulling out the glass to put in plexiglass.

We have a little bit of firewood to cut and stack.

Once I got all of that done, it was shower time and then time to pick up all 3 boys from school. We came home and did homework and then ran back into town to get the Traverse from the shop and then grabbed pizzas and then picked Sarah up from volleyball practice.....

Starting tomorrow, life gets more interesting. The girls are already into the swing of volleyball, and with one in high school and one in middle school they no longer play at the same time and the same place - instead it's twice as much running to get to as many of their games as possible. Alex and Daniel start soccer practice tomorrow night, and of course - they're on different teams. The Dude and I are now sharing a calendar so that we can keep track of what we're both doing and can tag team to get everyone where they need to be.

It's a good thing that I "binge slept" last week - because there won't be any more of that happening for a long time.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's a little ridiculous...

This week has been crazy busy. It's not like that's unusual for me, because my life is always crazy busy, but for some reason it seemed worse this week. Maybe it's because we're just getting back into the swing of the school schedule. Maybe it's because the kids are revving up their sports schedules. Maybe it's because I still have so much to do on the house.

I'm pretty sure that it's a combination of a lot of those things, plus a whole lot more.

It's funny though. I caught myself the other day - I was standing at the stove making cookies at the time. The boys had come home from school and absolutely begged me to let them go to the park. I had so much stuff to do and as much as I hated to admit it - I didn't feel like going with them. I relented and allowed the three of them to go to the park without me - after giving them a specific list of rules and an even more specific list of what their punishments would be if I even remotely thought that they had gotten out of line - and sent them the 4 blocks to the park.

I think that's when it hit me.

I had clothes hanging out in the summer sun on my new clothesline. I had cookies in the oven. Supper was ready to go into the oven as soon as the cookies came out of it. Laundry was in the washer. I had been puttering around the house, both inside and out, getting projects done all day long. The boys were at the park. The girls were at volleyball practice.

My life is ridiculous right now. Ridiculously wonderful. Ridiculously right.

I get so stressed out by the amount of work that I still have to do on this house - and I know that it will NEVER be completely done. But a lot of it needs to be done, and at times it seems so overwhelming - but it'll get done.

I spent the last year or two in my old-old house trying to figure out how to get out of it because I knew that it was going to go into foreclosure. Then we moved into the ghetto-esque house and although we knew it was only temporary, we were there for 3 1/2 years.

Now, we're in OUR house. The one that we will stay in for a very long time. For the first time in many years, I feel like I am where I belong, and it feels so ridiculously perfect that I can't even begin to describe it.

I've slept more in the last couple of days than I've slept in the last couple of months, and I think at least part of that is because it's finally starting to hit me that I don't have to keep pushing myself to get stuff done. It's just stuff - and realistically, most of it is cosmetic stuff. I've gotten way more done than I give myself credit for doing, and I didn't realize it until I sat down and started looking through pictures from when we first looked at the house and compared them to what it looks like now. Only then did I realize how much I've done already.

I am so ridiculously grateful right now.

Life is so good - when we take the time to notice.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The making of a clothesline

I posted this picture of my almost-completed clothesline on my facebook page and had at least one person ask me how I made them - so I figured that I'd just try to explain it here. I started to take pictures during the process, but then as time went on I kept forgetting to take more. But honestly, this was one of the simplest projects that I've done since we moved into this house. It's really easy. Honest.

I started off with three 4x4 pieces of lumber. They typically come in 8' lengths, so that's what I got. One thing you need to be aware of is that a 4x4 is not actually 4" by 4". It's 3 1/2" by 3 1/2".  Why? I'm not sure. I was told at one point that it's because when the lumber is cut, it's cut as a 4x4 but then in the processing and smoothing, it's trimmed and comes out smaller. Whether or not that's true? I don't know.

Anyway.....the first thing that I did was take one of the 4x4's and cut it in half, so it was now in 2 lengths that were each 4' long. Then I found the center of each one and made a small mark, then drew lines that were 1 3/4" out from each side of that mark. By doing that, I had marked the 3 1/2" wide spot that the vertical post would eventually fit into, and it would be centered on the horizontal crossbar.



Then I took my circular saw and set the blade to about 1/2" and cut grooves into the wood about 1/4" apart. I laid them side by side and cut through both of them at the same time just to make life easier.


Then I used a hammer and chisel and chiseled out the part that I had grooved, which left a 3 1/2" wide notch in the wood that was about 1/2" deep. The vertical pole will now fit in that notch, giving the whole thing a little more stability. You don't want to make the notch too deep, or else it will weaken the crossbar and it can split in the middle.


Make sure it fits.


I measured down 5" from the top of the vertical piece and made a line, and then lined the crossbar up just under that line. I had carriage bolts to hold the two pieces together, and used a long drill bit to drill through both pieces, inserted the bolt with washers and tightened them together with a nut.


I had purchased eye bolts to use to attach the ropes, and chose to get ones that were long enough to go the entire way through the crossbar, but you can always use shorter ones that just screw into the wood without going the whole way through. I measured about 4" in from each end of the crossbar and then spaced 4 eye bolts across it, drilled holes the entire way through, inserted them and tightened them with a nut and washer. 

At this point the poles were done.

The Dude and I had measured out where we wanted to put them earlier in the day and I marked the spots with spray paint. I dug holes about 18" deep and then stood the pole in it to see if I could reach the top or not. I wanted them to be fairly high so that when I hang sheets and comforters, they won't drag on the ground, but I also didn't want them to be so high that I couldn't reach them. So I made the crossbars as high as I could comfortably reach and used a quick concrete mix to anchor them in place. I used a level to make sure that they were standing straight(ish) and propped them so that they wouldn't fall before the concrete started to set.

I ran into some technical difficulties in the process - like I somehow managed to jam the first drill bit into the head of the drill and it wouldn't come out, no matter what I did. Finally after fighting with it for about 45 minutes I gave up and took it to the local hardware store, where the owner was able to get the bit out in about 2.5 seconds. Not counting that, from beginning to end the whole thing probably took less than 3 hours. I'll put the rope on tomorrow after I know that the concrete is good and set. I also plan to put some decorative bricks around the bottom of the poles, but that'll wait until tomorrow at least.

Like I said, super simple and quick to do. I need to dig out the receipts and figure out exactly how much I paid - I'd say that it was under $50. If you're looking to do something like this, there are about a gajillion plans for them online - I had scoped them out and just combined ideas that I liked and came up with this one and so far, it's worked. We'll just have to see what happens when I do my first load of laundry with them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

The Dude challenged me to do the ice bucket challenge. He put a different spin on his response to it, and I'm doing the same thing - albeit a different spin than the one that he used.

You don't need to see a video of me dumping a bucket of water over my head in order to raise awareness for anything. I don't need to one-up the guy before me and go for the gimmick and have a front end loader dump hundreds of gallons of water on me in order to prove that I care more than someone else.

I don't need to do it.

Instead, watch this video.


And then watch this one.


This is my niece's son, Corban. He's just a few months younger than Daniel and although they don't get to see each other very often, they are buddies. They love to play together, and I hope and pray that they get to hang out and be buddies for a very long time - but Corban has cystic fibrosis.

"What's that?" you ask..... well, you can check out THIS LINK to get more information on that. They explain it way better than I ever could. After you get done reading that information, explore the rest of the CFF's website and learn more about this horrible disease.

Corban wears the vest daily - it thumps him hard enough to knock the excess mucus in his lungs loose so that he can cough it up and get it out of his body in an attempt to prevent infections in his lungs. He takes breathing treatments. He takes oral medications.

He does this every day. He has done this every day of his life, since he was diagnosed just after birth. This is his normal. This is his life.

Corban is doing well at the moment, but that can change quickly, and it often has. There have been many sicknesses, hospitalizations, tests, medications, treatments, 3 hour long road trips to get to the specialists to not get any answers - it's a constant battle not only for Corban, but for his entire family.

We participate in the Great Strides walk every year in order to raise awareness and much-need research monies (I didn't get to do it this year because I had other commitments that day). It's usually right around the beginning of May, and we are always looking for support - whether it's more walkers to join our team, or donations, or just spreading the word. If you want to help us with that, just get a hold of me.

There are so many causes out there that need attention. Whether it's research for a cure for an illness, donations to help the homeless, funding for mental health care, support for victims of domestic violence, or whatever - we all have the power to put ourselves out there and do something. Make a donation. Volunteer. Spread the word.

Dump the water, don't dump the water. Do whatever it takes to make a difference.

Monday, August 25, 2014

And I wonder why I'm so tired....

Today has literally been a non-stop day.

I was up bright and early to get the kids up and off to school. Somehow I managed to make pancakes, pack lunches, double-check and sign agendas, and get dressed all at the same time - and managed to get all 5 kids out the door on time and off to school. As soon as the door closed on the Traverse after dropping off the last kid, I breathed a sigh of relief and came back home.

I ran around the kitchen, trying to find it under the piles of dirty dishes, nasty dish rags, stuff that needed to go out to the recycling, random food items, and various other unidentifiable pieces of crap. Once I got the kitchen somewhat straightened, The Dude and I worked out our plan for the day.

I started mowing, while he worked on scrubbing out the new-to-us fridge that we got yesterday. Before anyone says anything about why *I* was mowing and he was cleaning the fridge - I enjoy mowing. I really do. It's an awesome workout, I love seeing the immediate progress that I make with each pass of the mower, I get lots of sun and fresh air, and I totally have a brain dump while I'm out there. All of those weird, random, self-defeating thoughts run through my head (and sometimes out of my mouth because no one can hear me) and then they're gone. POOF. Just like that.

Before I got done mowing, he was ready to move the fridge, so between the two of us we managed to somehow maneuver it down into the basement and into place, and then we moved the new-to-us stove into place as well. Once I get that kitchen organized, I can officially move my entire canning operation down there and not destroy the main kitchen while I'm working on that stuff.

However, that's going to take a while - it's a disaster down there.



But at least we're a few steps closer to getting that area done. Of course, there's a whole list of things to do to get it "officially" done, but at this point I'll settle for making it functional.

After we got done down there, I went back outside and finished mowing the grass. I grabbed a late lunch and then got in the shower to wash the ick off of me, and then went and got the boys from school. They were both tired when they got home, so they wanted to do nothing more than lay around for a while, so I took the opportunity to work on a set of curtains that I had started for Daniel's room. I worked on those for a while and got them finished - but didn't have time to hang them before we went to Scouts.

After Scouts, we grabbed supper and came home. I got the curtains hung up, did a few more things around the house, did the stuff I needed to do online, and then I started to wonder why I was fighting sleep....

I have a list of things that I want to get done tomorrow while the kids are at school, and I will totally admit that taking a nap is on that list.

Patience

It's no secret that I'm not a very patient person. It's just never been one of my stronger traits - I'm generally all about instant gratification. But every now and then, I'm reminded that patience can indeed be a good thing.

 I walked out onto the patio tonight and saw an amazing sunset. Everything was glowing orange and there was an amazing warmth and glow that just can't be described. I tried to take a couple of pictures of the beauty, and failed miserably. It's pretty and all, but it's just not right. And there's that stupid reflection up above the sun that I just couldn't avoid, no matter what I tried.


A little while later, I walked outside with The Dude to get ready to start unloading a stove from the back of his truck, and as I looked to the west I was even more amazed at what I saw.


OK, OK, I get it. Sometimes we have to wait to get the perfect ______.

All I really want to do right now is clean up the rest of the rocks in the yard, put the brick edging around 2 flowerbeds, get all of the firewood cut up and into the lean-to part of the shed, build the raised flowerbed that is just screaming to be built by the side door, put the stones down under the rain barrel, clean out the rock garden and plant stuff there.....

Of course, inside I want to rip out wallpaper in a couple of rooms and paint the walls, pull up some carpet, tile the laundry room, repair the tile in the laundry room bathroom, repair the cracks in the walls, put some ceiling lights in the living room....

Then there's the other stuff that I want to get done - finish canning the sand plum jelly, make some pickles, finish a weighted blanket that I promised a friend a month ago, finish a bunch of quilting projects, start some other projects, organize my desk....

Patience. I need to be patient. I need to realize that I am only one person and I can only do so much.

But it'll all get done eventually. And it'll be worth the wait.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Backyard Cleanup

I've been wanting to resurrect the blog since I hardly ever post anything here anymore, so here it is. Nothing exciting, but a few pictures from what I got accomplished today.

I've been working out in the yard a lot this past week, trying to get things cleaned up out there because while it doesn't look that bad on the surface, it's actually a horrible mess. There are rocks and bricks and random chunks of concrete all over the place, there are dead trees and branches and stumps that need to be removed, there's a horrible metal edging thing around a flowerbed that needs to be ripped out and replaced - and that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Today, a friend sent her son up with a chainsaw and he helped me to get rid of some stumps and cut some branches off of an old cedar tree out behind the shed - that area needs a ton of work yet, but we were obviously doing something really right (or really wrong) when people were slowing down to STARE at what we were doing. One lady almost ran off of the road in her effort to stare us down - it was odd to say the least.

Anyway.....this is basically our firewood area. We've just been tossing anything wooden back there and it's gotten overgrown and downright ghetto-looking, so I straightened that up today. We're hoping to use some of the old fence slats to patch the holes in the parts that are still standing - hopefully it won't look too horrible until we have time to replace the whole thing.

Before...

After...
And then there's this tree... I've cut it down once already and it's back up to this. We want to get rid of it so that we have easier access to the lean-to part of the shed, because once that's cleaned out we're going to put the firewood in there to keep it from getting wet - but that is going to take a while.

Now you see it...

The tree disappeared today. Again.

Now you don't!
There is still a ton of stuff out there that I need to do. Besides just the normal mowing, we have a few sections of fence that need to come down, we have more wood that needs to be cut up into firewood length, we have at least a load of stuff to go to the local burn site, we have flowerbeds to redo, rocks to move..... and that's just the start of it.

I'm exhausted. My feet are swollen and sore. But I'm slowly getting stuff done. Having the kids in school during the week helps out a bunch and gives me time to not only get things done but to also relax once in a while. Right now I'm really only dealing with sports practice schedules, which aren't so bad - but volleyball games are going to start soon, and at that point I will lose what little bit is left of my mind.

One day at a time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TMOART:14 - Let's get this show on the road!

If you've been around these parts for any length of time, you'll recognize the 'TMOART' abbreviation - but just in case you don't know..... it's time, once again for *insert drum roll*

The Mother of All Road Trips: 2014 Edition!!!

I've been talking about it a little bit here and there on my facebook page, but I haven't really gone into great detail about where exactly we're going on the trip. I always try to maintain at least a little bit of privacy on here, mainly by not revealing our exact location at any given point in time. Because I use our real pictures of our real selves, I try to be careful - although I've said it before and I'll say it again, if I had any idea when this thing started that it would get as big as it has (ok, in the grand scheme of things it's still a baby blog, but it's way bigger than what I expected) I never would have used our pictures. But it blew up and our pictures were already there, so all I can do now is hope that none of you are crazy psychotic stalkers.

However..... I will say this about this trip....

We are leaving Thursday morning. We are stopping at a friend's house in Tennessee - and I can not wait to see her! Hopefully she'll let me post some pictures of her too, because honestly, she's the person who truly got me started on this blogging thing. There will be at least one more stop in Tennessee, and then on to my brother's house in North Carolina for a night, where I will also get to see my niece and her daughters and her new husband.

After that, we are heading north to Virginia to see some more friends and to spend a couple of nights in a tent, and then off to Washington, DC for a day or two where we will see at least one more friend (hopefully more). Once we leave DC, we will head up into the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania to see my parents for a few days, along with a day trip to visit Penn State and get our traditional family picture taken on the Lion Shrine.

Our final official stop will be "back home" for me, which is in the southcentral part of PA. We'll be camping out for a few days there and visiting with lots of people who have known me for a lot longer than I'd care to admit - and then we'll pack up and head back west again.

We've been slowly getting ready for this trip - I went ahead and rented a really big van to do it this time so that we have room for all of our stuff and the kids won't be on top of each other. Plus this time, if we lose our transmission on the way back, it won't (theoretically) be on our dime like it was the last time.

I've been doing laundry and cleaning the house and trying to get things organized so that when we come back, the house will be at least semi-clean (for a minute or two), and I've been making lists out the wazoo. I already stopped the mail delivery and notified the local police department that we'd be gone so they'll keep an eye on the house for me and notify me if anything happens.

Today though, I did something that was just so totally surreal - I took one of our spare keys over to my neighbor's house and asked her if they would mind keeping an eye on things for us while we're gone. You know, walk through the house occasionally, water the plants on the patio, help themselves to any of the peppers or tomatoes as they become ripe, stuff like that. Normal, right? Of course it is - until you realize that I was on the verge of being homeless less than 4 years ago, and today I handed my spare housekey to the wife of THE MAYOR who lives next door to me.

The mayor. I live next door to the mayor.

One of these days, I'll get used to all of this homeowner stuff, right?

Until then......it's time to get ready for a road trip.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's an amazing life

This is my life tonight.

Roughly half a case of bananas, 4 loaf pans, and my oven.

By the time that I'm done, I should have about 14 loaves of banana bread made. And I won't eat a single one.

Instead, it's all going to the local homeless shelter. They put out an announcement today that they were inundated with a huge donation of bananas, and they couldn't possibly use them all before they went bad. They've tried to freeze them before in the hopes that they'd get used eventually, and that just didn't work - so they asked for help with them.

I like to bake, especially when I'm stressed. Problem solved.

What's funny though is that my stress is probably some of the best stress that a person can have.

How is that possible?

Easy.

My life is amazing right now.

I might bitch and moan about the amount of work that I have to do on the house - and trust me, there is so much work to be done - but it's my house, and I'm able to do most of the work myself.

I've been complaining about the kids a lot - and not without reason. Summer vacation is crazy insane at times, and the amount of togetherness is starting to grate on everyone's nerves. The fighting and bickering and laziness is at an all-time high, but at the same time - they are having fun most of the time. They have been working together to help clean the house and do their own laundry and help me do yardwork.... and there is absolutely no reason to complain about that.

I'm getting ready to take The Dude and the kids and do our cross-country jaunt to see friends and family. I was able to rent a 12-passenger van so that we can travel without sitting on top of each other or with the kids' knees up their noses or elbows in each other's sides, which will hopefully keep the road trip relatively bicker-free.....and considering that the last time we made the trip we came back without a transmission in my van, renting a vehicle seemed like a wise choice. We are going to hit some new stops along the way and do some really fun stuff, and we haven't even told the kids where all we're going yet because that's part of the fun.

Speaking of The Dude - he continues to put up with me and the kids and my neurotic tendencies, no matter what I throw at him. And if I throw too much, he calls me on it and throws it right back at me. He helps with the kids and the house as much as he can with his own responsibilities, and he continues to amaze me every day. Heck, we even have the chance to go on a real date - kid-free! - on Friday.

I see so many of my friends struggling right now. Seriously struggling. And it breaks my heart. I see marital problems, financial problems, issues with domestic violence, deaths of loved ones, kids using drugs - and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have the life that I have right now.

But I also realize that it can be gone in a heartbeat. I refuse to take this life for granted. No matter how much I complain about petty crap, I know that it's petty and people have problems that are so much worse than mine.

So I will stay up all night to make different varieties of banana bread to take back to the homeless shelter tomorrow, because I know that someone there is having a much worse day than what I could ever imagine.

I'm not writing about this to get the attagirl's and the good job's that typically come when someone does something like this. I'm writing because I truly believe that we ALL have the power to make someone's day a little bit brighter. Maybe it's not by baking a bunch of banana bread. But we can all do something.

Donate your old clothes to charity. Buy something from that kid's fundraiser, even if it's overpriced garbage. Go to a local nursing home and visit with someone whose family has forgotten about them. Volunteer at your kid's next school function, even if you have to put up with those parents. Smile at someone you pass on the street.

Do something. I know you can.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Home

Today has been a good day.

The boys and I got up and took The Dude's truck to go back to town and swap it out to get my Traverse back from him after his road trip yesterday. I didn't expect him to be up and moving after driving for almost 24 hours straight, but he was - so we snatched him up to run some errands. Before we left his parking lot, his landlord - who was my property manager at the ghetto-esque house - caught me to finally give me the last of my security deposit back and so we chatted with him for a while. He took us to a vacant apartment to look at some furniture that I am most likely going to try to buy, and then he went back to his office and The Dude went with us to run errands.

We went to the bank and to the car wash to get rid of the skunk smell in the Traverse and then stopped for lunch and had some amazing Mediterranean food (shawarma, anyone?) and then took The Dude back home, and then the boys and I went to WalHell to get a few things before we came back home.

Home.

Once we got back, I started working on bikes. I worked on putting a new rack on the back of my bike so that I don't have to stick stuff in a backpack every time we go somewhere. But, I needed a bigger allen wrench for it, so we hopped on the bikes and rode over to the hardware store to get one. Then we came back home.

Home.

Once we got back here, I got the tube and tire changed on Alex's wheel, and we put it on my new rack on my bike and rode over to the convenience store to air it up before we came back home to put it on his bike.

Home.

I got the wheel put back on his bike, and tightened up the handlebars on the 'spare' bike that he had been using while his tire was flat and then we came inside for a while. I did a few things around the house and grabbed something to eat before I headed back outside to the firepit/shed area to do some work. Several hours later, I felt like I had made enough progress - and suffered enough mosquito bites - that I could quit and come inside.

While I was outside working, at least 90% of the traffic that went by was either combines, grain trucks, or other harvest equipment. The drivers were all up high enough that they could look over the fence where I was working and almost all of them smiled and waved - a normal occurrence around here. It made me so grateful that I live here now, instead of in the city where no one would even look someone else in the eye.

Home.

After I came inside and showered some of the filth off of me, I sat down and played around online and watched a movie for a bit. After a while, I got up to do a couple of little things and as I walked around the house, it kind of hit me again.

Home.

It's crazy. I still can't believe that somehow *I* managed to buy a house. Not just any house, but a really cool, really big, really awesome house. It's mine.

It's still surreal. Unbelievable.

In a way, I'm still waiting for the bank to call me and say "Oh, you thought you were buying that house? Hahahaha, joke's on you, sister! There's no way we're going to let that happen! Bring the keys back immediately!"

OK, I know that's not going to happen....but in a way it wouldn't surprise me if it did. I still wait for the proverbial shoe to drop, because that's what has always happened.

But it's not going to happen this time. It is what it is. It's mine. The house is mine.

It's our home.

At some point, it'll sink in and seem real, right?