Friday, November 10, 2017

Hope of America Award

Today my body is demanding a rest day,  and I am happy to oblige.  This afternoon,  I'll be doing finances on the computer (wrapped up in two warm blankets and snuggled into the couch), but I spent much of the morning binge-reading some of my favorite blogs. I haven't done it for a while,  so there's a lot of catch-up to do.  Darn. 

http://www.nieniedialogues.com/2017/05/ollie-hope-of-america.html As I read about how proud one mother was of her 6th grade son because he was awarded the Hope of America Award, something warmed in the back of my brain. I got that award, too - when I was an awkward 6th grader.

I've always wondered why. I even wanted to contact my elementary school principal and ask him why, out of all the other much more talented and smart and cute and self-assured girls in the sixth grade, why did he pick me?  

The last few years of elementary school were rough. I had one or two friends at most. I was growing and gangly-tall, felt so different from all the other kids, and bounced a ball by myself at lunch recess, softly singing "Only the Lonely Can Play."  I wasn't good at socializing, I was pretty bad at jumping rope, and I hated dodge ball.  In the classroom, I alternated between cocky-smart and burying my head in my arms on my desk and hoping no one would see me.  What on earth did Mr. Nichols see in that little girl?

I looked it up. I found out the award is given under the direction of the Kiwanis Club to one girl and boy in each elementary school.  Usually they are chosen for their academic work,  good citizenship, and leadership. Another article cited the children's "positive influence on others" as a criteria. 

My beloved elementary school principal passed away a few years ago,  so I'll never be able to ask him my questions. I still wonder.  But for today, I can still work on being a positive influence on others. I can make my own little corner of the world a better place.  If we all did that, there would be plenty of hope for America.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Mop


My hair grows fast - it always has.  Since high school, I have let it grow long for a while, then I chop it all off and donate it to a hair charity.  Or I think about selling my hair and let it sit in a box for a while while  I dream of all the money I'll make, and then I send it to a hair charity.

I've always gotten lots of comments and questions about how I can get it to grow so well.  Unfortunately, I don't have any good answers, since it kind of grows all by itself.  I have no hair elixirs or magic tonics - just the thick, fast-growing hair my mom and dad blessed me with.  They each had a pretty good head of hair so I know where it comes from.

Mostly, it grows so long because I am too lazy to get it cut often.  I've tried it short (like every few years when I chop it off), but it grows quickly enough that I'd have to go to the hairdresser every couple or three weeks, or it loses its shape in a big, messy way.  It's not that I don't like the salon - in fact I have a favorite hair center where I go (maybe yearly?) that I love.  Mostly because the hairdresser has known me since I was a wee little girl, because she loved my mother, and that Trent and I met because of that hair place.  Not getting my hair cut often, on the other hand, is cheaper and easier.  That's the win right there!

When we bought our fixer-upper house this spring, I vowed I'd cut my hair off because I knew it would get in the way.  And it did, but I just didn't want to take the time out to 1) figure out what kind of a style I wanted, and 2) actually go to the salon.  So I put up with it.  And put it up a lot.  Yes, I did almost dip the end of my braid in the paint can multiple times.  Yes, I did get stuck a few times when my hair wrapped itself around a raw piece of lumber.  Yes, it did get full of dust and sheetrock mud.  But I bought a couple of Flexi-clips, and they were amazing!  I've never found anything that would hold up my heavy hair consistently and without pulling, but I am totally sold on these clips.  No product affiliation or anything, just an ever-so-happy customer.  And they are so pretty!

Anyway, I still have my long hair, and it's still attached to my head.  It was my Halloween costume this year. - we were Adam and Eve.  Actually, it was a reprise from last year, but hey, if you have a costume this easy, why not?  I did Lady Godiva for part of the time too, and handed out chocolates.


I do love my long hair, but it does tend to get in the way.  Like when I get in a car - I always close some of my hair in the door.  Or buckle it into the seat belt.  How about when you unbuckle your seat belt and the belt gets retracted back into the... wherever it goes... and it sucks some of your hair down there, too?  Love it.

I tuck my hair into my pants.  When I get dressed and pull a shirt over my head, I can't just flip the hair out of my shirt.  It takes three or four pulls to get it all out.  I've started zipping my hair into the fly on my jeans.  If I put on a coat over my hair, I'm frozen like that and can't move my head.  And static!  Oh, it's bad.  I'll zap everyone in the room at the same time if my hair starts getting big and charged.  Which is all winter long.

We won't talk about how really long hair is a liability in the bathroom.  Let's just say that I love my Flixi-clips and they are really, really fast at making and holding up a bun.  Because sometimes you need to be fast.  Showering, on the other hand, takes forever.  I can't roll over in bed because I'm laying on my hair.  Sometimes I can't roll over because Trent is laying on my hair.  Hair gets stuck in your armpits or wraps around your body, especially if it is wet.  The hair, not the armpit.

And the vacuum hates me.  There is always shed hair on the floor and it winds around your toes as you walk across the room.  I've never had hair this long, and it is pretty interesting to see how it is like a toddler and gets into everything.

But I like it.  It's flowy and feminine.  It keeps me warm in the winter - like wearing my very own fur coat.  And it's pretty.  The bottom of the braid is still beautifully brown, which is more than I can say for the hairs sprouting out closer to my head.  My hair is a beautifully fun accessory that I can do differently every day.  It's part of me, part of my identity.  One day I'll cut it, but for today, it's in a really cool 4-strand braid.  And I found a new bun I want to try for tomorrow!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Laundry!

I'm doing laundry!  That normally wouldn't be too terribly exciting, but see,  I'm doing laundry at my own house! In my own washing machine that is actually hooked up to running water!  Because of city codes, we couldn't hook up the washer and dryer until the kitchen passed its final inspection.  Trent made that happen this week and I'm elated.  I am a lucky lady to have such a skilled husband.  

Man, I take so much for granted and having an in-house laundromat is a huge convenience, especially for a large family.  We can work through a dozen loads a week without any mishaps (like a bedwetting!),  so we give the washer and dryer a pretty good workout.  I can hear it chugging away in the laundry room while I write this,  and it makes me so happy.  It's like having my very own maid!   I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I've only been doing absolutely critical laundry for the past few months because leaving home to do the wash is so inconvenient.  It will be nice to have all the towels clean at the same time, or be able to do a late-night emergency load, or have clean sheets the same day.

I'm so spoiled.  And grateful today. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Shredded Jeans


Growing up, my brothers and I wore jeans a lot.  We wore them until they were "high waters" or until the waist was so tight you couldn't sit down in them anymore.  Then you passed them on down to the next kid (who was obviously delighted to get another batch of hand-me-downs, of course!).  That didn't actually happen very often, because we always wore out the knees first.  I don't know why we think of denim as being so tough when the knees rip through so fast!  I say that as a mother of boys.  I do remember my mother getting Tough Skins jeans at J.C. Penney - or was it Sears? - because they had a double layer of fabric at the knees.  To her, it was worth it.

When my first little boys were getting bigger, Shop Ko had a return program that if the kids wore out any clothing before they outgrew it, the store would replace the item.  I would drive several cities away to get Shop Ko jeans for my little dudes, even though they were noticeably thinner than the other brands.  I went back to get those holey jeans replaced over and over and over... until I got sick of it and quit shopping there.  Boys are HARD on jean-knees!

When our knees blew out, the jeans were candidates for cut-offs.  Mom would cut the jeans off at the knee-hole.  Hopefully the holes in both knees lined up.  If we were lucky, she would hem the cut ends, or we would just roll them up.  Those were our summer shorts.  But we did not wear them with holes in the knees.  Not at all.

As I'm getting to be an old-lady-person, I'm surprised at the jeans on the racks at the store that are pre-thrashed.  First the jeans were pre-washed, then pre-worn-in, and now you can pay good money to have them pre-worn-completely-out?  I have a hard time with the idea.

David had a pair of jeans with holes in the knees.  They were hand-me-downs from Chris or Ben, so they came by the knee-holes honestly.  Usually I take such jeans and add them to my enormous pile of old pants that I fully intend to make denim quilts out of.  One day.  Don't ask how large that pile is (it currently lives in multiple big boxes), or when "one day" is.  But David liked the jeans and kept wearing them.  He even took a razor blade to them and ever-so-carefully WHILE wearing the pants scraped a few new holes in the legs.  This does not compute.

The holes got larger after every washing, and I think after every wearing and every time someone looked at the jeans.  Thankfully, there came a day recently when there was more hole than jean and they were declared legally dead.  Even more fortunately, there wasn't enough fabric left to worry about imaginary denim quilts.

Farewell, holey jeans!  Let's go to the store and get you a pair of new pants.  I'll pick them out.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Zero Problem


I have a zero problem.  No, not zero problems - although that might be nice to try!  It happens when I am thinking about large numbers that have lots of zeros.  I know how much a house is worth, but I'm just as apt to say, "thirty thousand dollars" instead of "three hundred thousand."  That last zero makes a huge difference!  Some people are quite confused when I talk about numbers.  My husband has learned about this little quirk of mine, and doesn't bat an eye when I rattle off a number that is off by a magnitude of ten.  He calmly corrects the number and we laugh about my zero problem.

The other day, Trent was given cash as a payment.  He brought home the large bills and showed them to the kids.  Little Georgie's eyes got big as he looked at the money.  "Hey Mom!" he excitedly piped up, "Can I have 6 of those?"

Um, what?  That's an awful lot of money!  When I asked him to tell me more about why he needed money, he explained, "I need sixty cents right now."  Sixty cents... six hundred dollars... I guess I've passed on my zero problem and then some.  Yikes!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Carpet and Old Pipes

We scraped the ceilings, painted the walls, and put new carpet in our fixer upper of a house.  We have lots of work left to do (the tub doesn't run water, we have no washer or dryer, several rooms don't have light fixtures, only one bathroom has a working sink...) but that keeps us busy and out of trouble, right?  (sigh)

But at least the framework of walls, ceiling, and floor were complete.  And then David and Eddie noticed a squishy splishy spot in the middle of their room.  In the carpet.  The brand spanking new carpet.


After pulling up the new now-nasty carpet, ripping out the now-mildewing carpet pad, and removing some soggy wallboard, we found the problem.  An old pipe behind the wall had broken.  It was the pipe from the kitchen sink and dishwasher, so every time dirty water went down the drain, the pipe leaked.  (Bad words)

See how those two pipes don't line up anymore?  Not so much that they dump water all over the floor, because then we have noticed it faster and been able to fix it.  No, the dumb thing had to just drip for a long, long time.  Bah.

Fortunately, Ben and Chris were moving back to college just after then, so we could move David and Eddie out of the mold and mildew room.  For now, the oldy moldy nastiness has been cleaned out, but the wall is still open, the floor still needs a new pad, and the carpet still needs to be cleaned.

Couldn't the pipes have broken BEFORE we put the new carpet in??  I wonder what other treasures this old house has in store for us. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dirty Dishes


Oh, I have a lot to say about last week's DesignMom feature!  I still can't believe that they really wanted to feature my house - my family.  I'm pinching myself.

I had so much fun with the photo shoot.  A friend came over and helped me scoot chairs and plump pillows and remove clutter and laugh.  Mostly, it's laughing that what is normally an every-day scene can be dolled up into a fancy-pants fashion photo.  It was so satisfying to see the inherent wonderfulness in my life - the beauty that I'm usually too busy to acknowledge.

A night or two later, I was headed to bed, trying my best to ignore the whisperings of the dirty dishes on the counter.  I really shouldn't leave them until morning, I know.  Not just because of flies and the health department, but mostly because my sweet husband does breakfast and a messy kitchen makes him crazy.  I appreciate that he takes the morning shift and I don't want him to have angst that early!

I was so tired, though!  I walked back to the bedroom with the image of the stack of soup bowls and piles of dirty spoons still flitting around in my head.  I'm grateful for those dishes.  It's a testimony that my family was well-fed tonight.  Before I could climb into bed, I just had to grab my camera and head back to the kitchen.  It only took a moment or two to grab the shot (and then I went to bed anyway).

The next day, I was looking through the raw files, getting ready to crop and edit the pictures to the format DesignMom wanted.  There, with all the pretty pictures was the shot of the dirty dishes, awkwardly hanging around the cheerleaders like a seventh grader with braces.  Oh yeah, that was me.

I don't know why I included that late-night picture.  I was sure they wouldn't use it in the article.  It wasn't prepped, it wasn't pretty, no natural light...who wants to see my dirty dinner dishes?

It's part of our life, and they included the picture in the home feature.  I gasped when I saw it, then bubbled up with giggles.  Really??

I guess we don't need to look that hard to find beauty in our lives.  Dirty dishes and all.