Friday, April 24, 2015

Love the Home You Have

For the next part of the book, I was supposed to imagine my dream house - every room!  I'm such a planner and a detail person, so thinking all the way through my dream house will take weeks and weeks. Maybe months and years.  Gah.  I finally compromised my thinking about what kinds of things I would love to have going on in my dream house.

I want a five-butt kitchen where lots of people can work at the same time and not be in each other's way.  I also want a sitting area/family room/great room adjacent to the kitchen so I can be part of things happening/watch the kids/sit and visit with Trent while he makes breakfast.

I really want a large dining area, where we all can eat dinner together.  Enough room to set up extra tables for a big dinner party would also be nice.  Maybe the dining area should be part of the kitchen/great room?

I want a large family room, where we have seats for the whole family to hang out or watch a movie or say family prayer.  That's an important part of our lives - just being together.

That's the main wish list.  On the periphery is a deep porch for sitting, flower and vegetable and herb gardens, a big wooded lot for the kids to make their own play, gobs of parking for my husband and his vehicles, and a soaking tub.  It would also be nice to have some elbow space from the neighbors, and to be able to live at a little slower speed.

I can spend the next week dreaming about this.  Happily.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Prom Season

Prom is coming up... again.  I feel like it does this every year!  I just read that the average prom this year will cost about a thousand dollars.  Say what?  I'm not sure where all of that money goes, but we do save a little bit by having a couple of teen-sized tuxedos in the closet, and doing the flowers at home.

This year, I'm not sure where my floral wire and green tape are - probably in a box somewhere.  I'll have to go hunting.  And I don't even know what color the young lady's dress is so I can make sure I have ribbon to match.  This is what happens when the young gentleman prom-goer is involved in track and never has time to speak with his mother.

Last year, or was it last fall at Homecoming time? Chris helped me make the corsage and did a pretty good job.  Hopefully he won't claim to be too busy and he can make it himself this time.  

I was surfing around, trying to find a good diagram that shows how to make a corsage, so we could be boring - I mean quick and efficient - and make this year's arrangement.  I'm really surprised that I couldn't find any!  I won't say they aren't out there, but I sure couldn't find any.  

I did find some good tutorials, though.  You can watch these while I go crawl around in the garage and look through boxes.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mission Monday

<sigh>  I am missing my boys this week.  I love looking over their letters and seeing how they are growing.  I can really see a softening of their rough edges, and at the same time a strength coming in that they didn't have before.  Serving the Lord is pretty awesome stuff.

From South Africa:

To start off, mother nature decided to do the hot, cold, sunny, cloudy thing, and mess with everybodys head. So it has been a fun and exciting week. I love being a missionary! There were so many little things that just reaffirmed my testimony this week and added to what I already knew about the Church and My Savior. I really am grateful for the Spirit and it's direction.

From Madagascar:

NORBERT GOT BAPTIZED!!! He is still a stud among studs and his wife finally came to church for his baptism and his confirmation the next day and... drumroll please... she loved it!!! We are going to get the rest of that family! Ah, he's just such an awesome man!

Then what happens on this Saturday and Sunday? GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! Sorry for all of the caps and exclamation points, but that is really good stuff! So you could say that I'm way pumped for that to happen.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Love the Home You Have

I got my new book, and I've been reading Love the Home You Have. It's been more difficult than I thought it would be.  I didn't realize how much emotional baggage I had when it came to houses.  And I love to read, and I read fast, so I was hoping to finish it quickly.  Alas, this will be a book of reflection and internal work.  Work, bah humbug.  <sigh>  But I need this.  I need to love this home and make it mine.

First of all, I was supposed to list three things I loved about my current home.  Only three!  Guiltily, I came up empty.  I fought with my thoughts for a while and finally came up with a few things.  But they came out very begrudgingly, "I don't even have a ______, but (grumble, grumble) at least we have a sprinkling system that mostly works."  Most of my first thoughts centered around the trees or the fenced yard or the great neighborhood.  

Then I forced myself to focus on the house itself.  It's really been a challenge to move into this house.  We didn't move here because we wanted to be in a new place.  We didn't move here because it was a better house than the last one.  We didn't move because it fit our family better.  We moved here because this is where my dad is, and we didn't want him to have to move.  Crazy!  Why would we move and inconvenience a family of 10 for the desires of 1?  I don't know, and on paper it is ridiculous.  But it feels like the right thing to do.  

It's certainly not a bad thing to be here, and it's not a bad house.  I've just been focusing enough on the things that don't work for us, and need to see the things that do work for us.  After a bit of mental rebellion, I took a walk through the house.  I noted the nice color and pattern of the kitchen floor.  I saw how the light pours into the back windows.  I appreciated the spacious laundry room.  I was glad that the noisy areas of the house are farther away from the areas we need to keep quiet.

And you know, the more I saw things with grateful and happy eyes, the more good things I saw.  I now have a list of far more than three things I love about this house.  And I'm feeling more happy to be here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Decent Women's Costume Month

I was looking at the calender today, and I amazed that it is halfway through April!  The twins love to look at the "ky-lander" and have me tell them how long it is until their birthdays.  So we were counting off how many months until their birthday, until school is out, until school starts again in the fall (and they will be in kindergarten!  Aagh!), until Halloween...

We stopped at Halloween because it is their absolute favorite day of the year, until Christmas rolls around, that is.  They are already dreaming up what they want to be for Halloween.  Current favorite: minions!  I love to sew and create - always have - so making Halloween costumes is something I put a lot of thought and time into.  I like dressing up too, but let's be real.  With a family of ten, making costumes for myself is way, waaaayyy down on the priority list. 

And forget about buying anything ready-made from the store.  I'm not about to show that much skin in public - especially chilly Halloween night!  I don't know why it seems that costume manufacturers think that all women want to show off their legs and cleavage on Halloween.  Every costume comes from the same pattern: bare shoulders, deep necklines, and short skirts.  No creativity.  And no coverage, if you prefer to be modest.  I do.

I've decided to declare the rest of April to be Decent Women's Costuming Month.  There isn't much going on for the next few weeks (no major holidays, not yet the frantic end-of-school rush, no family vacations to plan), so I have time.  

I picked up these fun historical patterns a few weeks ago when there was a good sale at the fabric store, and I might be able to pick up some fabric tomorrow.

If I sew a little bit here and there, instead of doing a whole bunch all at once, I won't get sick of the project.  Also, I won't end up with back problems from hunching over the sewing machine, and my children will get fed.  Bonus that my house won't turn into a disaster.

Now I just need to decide which pattern I want to make!  I'm leaning toward the Regency dress, but that would mean I have to watch Pride and Prejudice again for inspiration.  Or If I choose the 1950s dress, I'd have to check out some Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe.  

Bring on the popcorn!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring (Snow) Showers

Happy Spring!  This is the view out my back window right now. Two days ago, we were admiring our tulips and daffodils. Yesterday, we were slammed with a massive windstorm. My headline for yesterday should have been "Giant Trees Blown Over in City Cemetery.  Thousands Found Dead." 

And today, we are back to winter. We've got the gloves and boots and hot chocolate out, and the fireplace is a-humming. I was planning to do yard work today...  not disappointed to have to stay inside. 

We're cozy!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Today I...

I'm so bummed that our taxes are not done.  Due to a combination of not getting the correct W-2 forms and having a complicated financial year, we will have to file an extension.  It's not the end of the world, I know.  But I hate being late.  I don't like to run or hurry - especially when I have the pressure of a deadline looming over me. I even hate not being a little bit early.  It just unnerves me to not be where I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be there.  And so not having our taxes done before April 15 is really giving me a anxiety fits.  Gah.

So today I need to list the good things I have done today so I don't feel like a total failure.

Today, I made a batch of really good bread.  It's mostly whole wheat, but it still rose and made four great, tall loaves.  The kids will have delicious sandwiches for lunch tomorrow.

Today, I cleaned the kitchen, even though I didn't want to.  I did all the dishes and cleared the counters and wiped everything off and swept the floor.  I have to remember that one, because if you walked into the kitchen now, you would see no trace of my hard work.  Dinner happens and BAM!  Messy kitchen again.  But for a while, it was clean.

I read a few pages in a book.  That helps my brain to remember that I am a college graduate.  I am a smart person - sometimes.  I love to read, but don't get to do it very often.  Today, I got to read a few pages before the twins both needed to sit on my relaxing lap to show me a new yo-yo and ask how to draw the letter K.

I helped my neighbor lady figure out what to make for dinner when she was getting stuck in a menu rut.  Maybe I didn't really do much except provide moral support while she flipped through her cookbook, but being social is important.

Today, I took my dad for a walk.  We struggled up the hill against a stiff headwind, and nearly ran back home.  The sun was shining and it was gorgeous - for that part of the afternoon, anyway.

I made it to my son's track meet.  Granted, I was a little bit late (the bread was baking and I couldn't leave yet) and missed his first race.  But he was competing in four events and I could watch the others, right?  I came with warm wassail for him and blankets to keep out the wild windstorm we were having.  We even had a long conversation about the importance of staying with mom so that I didn't lose one of the twins like last track meet.  The little people and I were prepared.  What a great mom I am!  We got there just as they cancelled the rest of the meet due to bad weather.  I guess they figured, when the pole vaulting mats blew down the field into the runners, that having a track meet with 40 mph winds was a bad idea.  Glad we stayed away from the shot put area!  We did show up, so that counts for something.  And I was able to take my chilly boy straight home so he didn't have to ride the buses.

I stayed awake all day long, in spite of the fact that I got less than 6 hours of sleep.  I've been tired the whole day, but I didn't snap or snark at anyone.  Major victory.

Today, I had a nice conversation with my husband and listened to his worries.  It was nice to spend time with him, and I didn't even get anxious about the things that were not getting done while I sat with him.

I did not laugh when Georgie raced past me, hollering as he passed, "My bladder is so full!"  I remained a helpful, supportive mother instead of dissolving onto the floor in fits of uncontrolled laughter like I wanted to.  Where did he learn that?

Today, I took a shower.  Total score.  It was a good day.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mission Monday

I woke up this morning and checked my email.  It was so nice to see letters from my boys!  It really is a huge highlight of my week, and I'm so glad there wasn't another Monday holiday this week.

From South Africa:

This week is going to be short. Lots of amazing things happened this week. We were way busy and it was a crazy busy week. We met so many people, had a ton of really amazing lessons, found a new way to teach, had zone training, had dropped appointments like nobody's business, and yeah, just the normal life of a missionary!

Zone training was awesome, as usual, and we had some really great discussions about missionary work. I always love trainings/conferences because they pump you up spiritually that you can't get any other way.

From Madagascar:

So I've been here the equivalent of one term back in high school. Hah, that feels so long ago, but I still don't feel like I've really graduated yet either.

Fun facts for the week, I've been wearing a (missionary name tag) for more than 9 months now. That's neat. The weather is also starting to get a little bit nippier, we might have to start closing the windows at night here in the next month or so... I actually found some leaves that have just turned yellow this morning, so that's exciting. Time flies.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Soggy Sofa Solution

This is why I was working with fluff yesterday.  I have my mother's couches in the front room, and the back cushions are getting more that just a little saggy.  Droopy and soggy and saggy and sad.

When we moved in last summer, we had extra pillows from the beds of our two boys who left to serve missions.  And we no longer have guests, so we have extra guest pillows.  And I found a cupboard full of extra pillows that my mother had stashed away.  Lots o' pillows!

I gathered up the pillows - used and extras - and washed them all.  They got washed and bleached and dried to a fluffy near-newness.  Everyone picked a new, fresher pillow, and I cannibalized the rest.  Even washed, they were matted on the outside.  But when you pick it apart, the inside is light and... fluffy!  How many times can I use that word?  Fluffy, fluffy...

I unzipped the cover of the sofa cushion and found another cushion instead of loose fill.  When I opened that cushion at the side seam, I found that there were three baffles inside, to help the stuffing stay in place better.  I pulled the old stuffing out, fluffed it up, and filled two of the three baffles back up.  Into the third went an entire pillow of fluff.  It really wasn't hard, especially with enthusiastic fluff-ripper helpers.  The kids had a good time helping with that part.  Yes, it did occasionally look like a snowstorm, but it is easy to clean up.

Once it was full and firm, I hand-sewed the side back up with giant, messy stitches - because it's faster, no one will see it, and I imagine I'll be back in a few years to add more stuffing.

Look at the difference!  One cushion down,and a half dozen to go!  I love our newer, fluffier cushions.  Fluff, fluff, fluffy...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Pioneer Fail

I was working on this fluff today, and it took a long time.  Ben used to say that, in a whining way, when he was about 10.  "But it will take a loooooong tiiiiiime!"  It did.  Isn't it beautiful fluffy stuff?  It is the inside stuff of an old pillow, and we were stretching it out and pulling it into smaller pieces so it was soft again and we could use it for other things.

While we were working with the fibers - Angel and the twins were more than happy to help me - I started thinking of carding wool.  Isn't that kind of a similar idea?  You take dirty old sheep coats, wash them, and then comb the fibers out so they are soft and you can do other things with them.  

I grew up in a house with a 6-acre field out back.  It wasn't our field, but we loved it like it was.  The back neighbors kept flocks of sheep up in the mountains, and they would bring down the sheep that needed more attention and put them in The Field.  We grew up watching sheep with a limp, and sheep that were very gaunt, and sheep that just looked sick.  As far as we were concerned, they all got better and went back to the flock (I would imagine that wasn't always the case.).  In the early spring, they would bring the expectant ewes to The Field.  Every morning we would wake up and run to see if there were any new lambs.  How funny they were when they tried to run!  As they got bigger and the weather grew warmer, they would be sheared.  Poor little nekkid lambies!  

I remember walking along the back fence and picking little tufts of wool out of the barbed wire.  I had every intention to collect a whole basket full, clean it and card it and make my own clothes, just like Little House on the Prairie.

I was mildly obsessed with Little House on the Prairie, but I don't remember them actually carding wool.  Did they?  I think it might have come up in Farmer Boy, the book about Almanzo's youth.  I used to dream that I was transported back in time somehow and got to grow up in a white apron and sunbonnet.

As I watched my fingers bumble through the clean pillow fluff, I realize that I would not make a very good pioneer.  I can cook, yes - with groceries that come in boxes and meat that comes on styrofoam trays.  I can sew - with a machine.  I can crochet - slowly, with a large hook.   I can gather eggs, but so could any four-year-old pioneer girl.  I can not build a fire nor butcher a chicken nor knit socks nor write with a quill pen nor make a poultice for a sick child.

I think I'm glad I live now in the days of band-aids and ready-made clothing and refrigerators.  How lucky I am!  But I still want a cute bonnet.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Snuggled Up Together

I am the oldest daughter of an oldest daughter, so my mother always told me that when I found a suitable suitor, I could have Grandmother's 1/3 carat diamond to use in my ring.  When I was in college, my beau and I went ring-shopping a few times, browsing and joking about the "great diamond-buying conspiracy" so many of our peers went into debt for.  One day, just before final exams, I found the the ring that sang for me.  It had simple and graceful swoops and was smooth enough that it wouldn't catch when I put my hand in my pocket.  I loved it.

We had a hard time catching the attention of a clerk in the store, who didn't believe that we wanted to buy instead of just look.  Then he didn't believe we wanted it now instead of Jay coming back later to surprise me with it.  He didn't believe we didn't want it sized (it fit perfectly), or that we didn't want a diamond to replace the customary CZ in the setting (Grandma's diamond was going there), or that we could pay cash for it instead of preferring a payment plan.  I've never had so much trouble getting someone to take my money!

After it was purchased and we showed it to my parents, my mother guiltily admitted she had lost Grandma's diamond ring.  We still left the CZ in my ring, and it sparkled just as bright for me - a reminder of our poor college student days.

I wore my rings every day and loved them.  Jay wore his ring every day, and it made me happy to see his ring shine while he held my hand.  When he died, 7 years after being diagnosed with cancer and 13 years after we were married, my ring got uncomfortable.

After about a week I took it off and examined it, only to find that the once-circular ring had been compressed into a smaller oval shape as I had maneuvered him and his wheelchair around the narrow hallways in our home .  It squashed my finger and I couldn't wear it anymore.  I took it to be cleaned and they offered to reshape the ring, but I liked it squashed.  It  reminded me that I had been a good wife all the way through to the end.

I cleaned the ring and shined up the brilliant little CZ.  Now it lives in its original green velvet box, snuggled up next to Jay's ring.  That's where they should be - together.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I woke up this morning, like every Monday morning, excited to read letters from my missionary boys.  Actually, I was suffering a bad bout of insomnia, and I told myself that if I was still awake at 2:30 I would check my email for letters.  That may have helped me stay awake.  But I was so disappointed when there were no letters!  Not even a hurried short one!  And at 3:30 a.m. the result was the same.  At 9 the next morning, still no emails.  Boo!  I checked my email on another device, wondering if my internet connection was bad.  Still nothing.  I was surprised that I didn't get a single short note from either of them.  So strange.

But then Tuesday morning, all was well.  It turns out that Easter Monday is a big holiday in Africa.  Everything is closed for what one missionary referred to as National Hangover Day, since Easter is a big drinking and partying holiday there.  Whew!  Good to know that both of my boys hadn't abandoned me!

From South Africa:

The reason I'm emailing on Tuesday, and not on Monday is that our entire country was enjoying a Public Holiday yesterday, which means that all the email shops were closed... I don't like that when I don't get to email. So here I am today, writing a quick email before I have to go to an appointment at noon. Yesterday, we went with all the youth and hiked Paarl rock and Gordons rock. Both were awesome, and the youth were so cool. All of them made it to the top and all had a fun time

Also this week, I celebrated by year mark. Wierd is all I have to say. I don't feel like I've been out a year. But this means that there are only a bunch of once more on missions left, e.g., only one more general conference, only one more birthday, only one more mothers day, only one more chirstmas, only one more new years. So Flipping WIERD.... I don't want to end my mission, It is so fun, but at the same time, I can't wait to be home again. I love the chance that I have to serve here and help and teach the people here.

From Madagascar:

So this one's a short and sweet one because yesterday (the real p-day) all of the cybers were closed because it was Easter Monday!!! One of the biggest... holidays... Anyway, it's huge here, so we're writing today (Tuesday). But we don't want to waste too much non p-day time so it's pretty short...
This week has been great though!!! We taught a lot of lessons and we've been improving the quality of those lessons and the other proselyting stuff we do too. It's great!

Malagasy morsel of the day is fanantenana. It means hope. It literally means to have one's self. So that's a neat little treasure there, yes, it's used all of the time.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Love My Home

I stumbled across a new book the other day and it's hitting me pretty hard.  The name of the book is Love the Home You Have, and you can read more about it here.  I do need to learn to love the house I live in, and make it a home.

Ever since we moved in with my dad, I've been struggling to love this house.  I've been struggling to find my place here.  I've been struggling to feel at home here.  I grew up here, and it certainly felt like home then.  But I've gone away and grown up and now it's my mom's house - my dad's house.  It doesn't feel like my home.  I'm never quite at ease here, which has been draining.

Maybe I need to get this book.  Maybe, nuthin.

Stay tuned, and I'll let you know when the book comes - sometime next week.  It looks like a keeper.

Maybe it will help me to feel a little better about this odd situation I find myself in.