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Saturday, October 20, 2012

This is a LONG One, It Should Probably Be 5 Posts

Wow, I just realized how long it had been since I did a blog entry. I'll try to get caught up a bit. Let's see, when last we spoke, we were still waiting to find out when we'd be moving. House wasn't up for sale yet. I was a bit cranky about it. Ok, ok. a whole lot cranky about it.  Ok, nearly ready to commit a violent act involving a nuclear submarine and ink filled balloons, about it.

Needless to say, much has happened since then. At the end of July we finally got the house on the market. This was the one absolute fear I had about the whole move back to Iowa. I was scared that we would be holding on to this house for a year and end up bankrupt because of it. Not because of the house, it was a wonderful house. Because of where it was, East Central Illinois.

Nine days later, on my last day at work, Willie showed up at the counter. "What would be the one thing that would make your last day perfect? He asked. I looked at him, and thought.

"If the house sold......" I said in a hopeful, but not expecting it way. He looked at me in a knowing way. That look that most times makes me crazy to the point of nearly slugging him. "Really?" I asked. He slowly nodded his head. I started jumping up and down and clapping with pure glee!

My pharmacy manager looked over, not sure what to make of the crazy woman jumping up and down. I turned around, still jumping, "The house sold! The house sold!!!"

Days passed, Willie headed to Iowa, Bazinga, Mia and I stayed behind. I didn't want to deal with a dog and a cowardly cat in a hotel room for weeks until we could move into our new house.

We went to Grimes for Kahlen's birthday party. She turned three! She is growing up so fast. It is so much fun to sit down and have a long conversation with her. She loves books and Barbies, and pink and purple. She is such a little girl. No longer a baby or even a toddler. A little girl.

One of the best things about her birthday is that it is right at fair time! So, taking a few days off for her birthday also means getting to got to the Iowa State Fair! I love the fair. Getting to go with the whole family is even better. We met everyone there. We spent most of our time at the animal displays. We got to see the horses and ducks and sheep and pigs. I love watching Kahlen as she looks around. I think I spend more time watching her then I do looking at anything else. Next year, Baby Brother (since Shane and Alyssa are keeping the name secret) will be along for the day, too.

Kahlen dabbled in spin art with Caitlin and Josh, making, of course, the most beautiful spin art I have ever seen. There was plenty of time to climb on tractors, look at cars and trucks, and EAT. What is a fair with out every kind of deep fat fried food on a stick. We ate bacon wrapped corn dogs. We ate fried pickles. We ate fried cheese curds. Ice cream, chips and root beer were also on the menu for the day. 

The day was perfect, not too hot, which was amazing considering the summer was so awful! It was a perfect break from the long hot summer. You know the summer with no rain, the summer of extreme drought. The summer that it only rained TWO days all summer. TWO days, one of which was the day we were at the FAIR! I don't think anyone cared though. It was raining and everyone was fine with it. It didn't start really raining until late afternoon. Alyssa, Shane and Kahlen left once it looked like it would rain a lot. It was a good thing they did. Willie, Caitlin, Josh and I decided to stay a little while longer. We got wet. Not just a little wet, but big time soaked to the bone wet! We got to the shuttle bus stop, and it started pouring down rain in bucketsful. The streets began to flood and as the buses pulled up large wakes formed in the drowned street. 

The funny thing about it all, while everyone at the bus stop was dripping with the water being pelted at them from the wind and heavy rain, no one, not one person, complained. There was almost a party feeling with it. The long, hot, dry summer had given us a reprieve, even if only for one night. No one was going to wish it away. 
 Then it was time to go back to Illinois. Time passed very, very slowly. Things were coming together with the move. There were going to be people to pack us as well as move us, so I really had nothing to do.

So..... I found stuff to do. Bazinga and I went on several photo taking adventures around Illinois and Indiana. That helped fill part of the time. I worked on the head board that I'm making for the bed we are putting in the room for the grand kids in the new house. I worked on a cross stitch, that I had been working on for about a year. I just needed ways to fill the days.

One weekend, I joined Willie in Iowa City to go house hunting. We looked at what seemed like 1000 houses. We found two we really liked. One was a little smaller, but cost more. It seemed a little more practical though we liked the other better. We had a hard time deciding which one to put in an offer on. We decided on the smaller one. Until we thought more about it. We emailed the realtor the next day our minds changed, luckily she hadn't worked on the first offer yet, and wrote up the other.

There was another trip to Iowa City the weekend before Labor Day Weekend. It was mostly just to spend time with Willie, and we went to Des Moines to see the family. It was a good weekend. UNTIL....... As I was driving back to Illinois, I got a phone call. My days would no longer need to be filled finding things to do. Our close date on the house in Illinois was to be on September 7th. The loan company for the buyers hadn't sent their appraiser out until August 27th. On August 29th I got the phone call that would come close to causing Willie and I to either divorce or kill each other. Luckily, with him in Iowa City and me in Rossville, killing each other was not an option. 

The appraiser for the loan company decided we needed to..... put in smoke and CO2 detectors on all three floors, scrape and paint the entire basement floor, scrape and paint the ceiling in the bedroom downstairs, scrape and paint all of the trim in the house, scrape and paint the soffits, and the cherry on top, scrape and paint the entire outside of the garage, all of this needed to be done before the close.... in ten days! Oh but no, not just before the close, but in time for her to be able to come out and check it again. With the holiday weekend, that would be Tuesday. Which meant we really only had SIX days to get this all done. Oh, and did I mention, I needed to be back in Iowa City, with the cat and dog along, on the THIRD! We were closing on the new house on the fourth. Now six days were down to four.... on a holiday weekend. How many handymen do you think want to work on a holiday weekend? 

Luckily, Willie knew someone from the Danville store that did handyman work. I don't think there would have been anyway in this world I could have gotten everything done in that amount of time all by myself. Willie had to work the whole weekend, he had traded so that he would have the time off for the move in Rossville and be there for the close. The handyman was a God send! He and his son, worked fast and hard. I helped with the things I could. I bought all of the boxes that I had packed, up form the basement, I moved boxes from room to room as things needed to be painted. I scraped and tried to help prep for paint. I filled with wood filler where I needed to, and sanded and painted a cover for the opening under the built in oven, another project that was added on a day or two later. After a lot of hard work, and a lot of stressing by poor Willie from Iowa City, and I am not being sarcastic here, I felt really bad for him. I know how much he wanted to be there to help out and he couldn't. All he could do was stress out about it, and stress he did, which in turn stressed me out even more. In other words, the almost divorce.... only, I love the man too much. 

By Sunday afternoon we were done. I was packed, and had a plan for how to get Bazinga to Waukee to stay with Kurt and Tammie, Mia to Des Moines to stay with Valerie and then me back to Iowa City, all in one day. The next morning I got up, I packed up the car, litter pan and all. I made Mia pretty much her very own little apartment in the back of the car. 

Expecting the worse, I tried to figure out the best way to keep Mia from panicking. I thought about putting her in her kitty carrier, but the last time I did that she peed all over it and then ended up getting it all over me. I decided to harness her up in Bazinga's walking harness. (is it wrong that I have to let my dog's harness OUT to be able to get it on my cat?) I got Bazinga's tie out and hooked one end to the passenger seat. I put the other end by the back passenger door. It was time to get Mia, but should I get Mia in first or Bazinga? It was a perplexing question. If I put Mia in first, would she try to dart  when I put Bazinga in. If I put Bazinga in first would he try to jump at Mia, scaring her, making her scratch me, and then she darts away. (One time, when my daughter Valerie was moving, she lost a beloved cat because she got scared and darted while Valerie was putting the other cat in the car, I didn't want that to happen to Mia.) I decided Mia first. I left the car door open, I went into the house and grabbed her up. I held on to her as tightly as I could. I we went out the door and to the car. I put her in, and while practically laying on top of her hooked her to the tie out. I kept a hand on her as I stood back up, and quickly closed the door. SUCCESS!!! Now to get the dog in. He of course was more than ready to go bye bye. As if knowing exactly what I needed him to do, he hopped in, left Mia alone and sat in the front seat. The worst part of the journey was already over. 
As it turned out, my worry was for not, Mia loved the car ride. She was nervous at first, but settled in quite quickly. She decided there was nothing in the car that was going to eat her, her food, water and litter pan (which she used, no cat pee on the car seats or on me) were all right at hand. She loved watching the windshield wipers as when we hit a bit of drizzle in western Illinois. 

Next question, who to drop off first. At first I had decided to drop off Mia first. Again, visions of Valerie's cat Dizzy, were spiraling through my head. I figured, get her out first, less danger of her darting. Plus I could hit the interstate and head back to Iowa City pretty easily from Waukee. 

As we drove along, and Mia was so content I started rethinking. Plus Valerie had invited me to dinner and the rest of the kids would be there, too. I decided to take the chance of dropping off Bazinga first. The thing that worried me the most was getting the kennel out of the back with out Mia panicking. It all went very well though. I just re-hooked her to the tie out, Got the kennel moved out quickly and all was well. I spent a few hours with the kids and then headed back to Iowa  City.  A long day, indeed, but now we wouldn't have the animals underfoot as we moved, that was a relief. 

We closed on our new house in Williamsburg and waited for the call that all was ok with the Rossville house. And waited and waited. We spent the night in the Williamsburg house and headed back to Rossville the next day. Willie drove. Still no word on the appraisal. We got back to Rossville, and in his stressed out condition, all Willie could see was what he thought we should have done, but hadn't. Now he was close enough to kill, he was very lucky that I loved him. We finally got the call, all was good, except the loan company delayed finishing the paperwork until the work was approved.... the close was put off. Luckily, all we had to do was go sign a limited power of attorney so they could do the close without us there. Now, we just had to wait for the movers. 

The day the packers came was a hot but clear sunny day. I had packed a lot of stuff, the less personal stuff you have out while showing a house for sale the better. The packers got done quickly and seemed to do a good job. That night was spent sleeping on the couches, our bed deflated and taken apart. We got Casey's subs for dinner and relaxed. 
The next day came. The movers showed up on time, and so did the rain. Yup, that was the only other day it had rained all summer. The movers, unlike the packers, were not good. I shouldn't say that. Two of the movers were great, they worked hard and kept moving constantly. The third mover, and the driver however, were HORRIBLE! The driver was supposed to be keeping the inventory, but kept disappearing. When he would disappear, the others would have to wait on him. I believe to this day it took two extra hours because of him. 

Then it started looking like everything wasn't going to fit. For those of you who have never used an over the road moving company before, they don't just put your stuff on a truck. There were already two other families stuff on the truck. They send someone out to look at your possessions and calculate how much room it will take up on the truck. Apparently, one of the people calculated wrong, and now our stuff might not all fit. The driver started calling around to see what he should do, Willie called his move coordinator, to keep her in the loop. Suddenly, the drive gets a call from his people, and starts moving faster and starts working harder. Lowe's it turns out is one of that company's VIP accounts. With his sudden work ethic, came also carelessness. The driver and the not good mover started cramming our stuff on the truck. Just sticking things in wherever they would fit. Shoving and pushing our things into crevices. Eventually, everything was on the truck. Willie and I finished cleaning as they finished packing. Finally, at 7:15 that night we left Rossville, Illinois, for the last time. 

Arrangements had been made with the driver for him and the movers in Willimansburg to be at the house at 8:00 am. Willie had to be at work at noon, and I needed to be in Boone for a ceremony partly honoring my mother at 2:00 pm. The driver knew this and made sure the next set of movers knew it, too. 

7:45 am, Willie and I are up and ready for the movers. The movers show up, they had trouble finding the house, they were looking for a big moving truck to be parked outside. They wait in their car, we wait in the house. 8:15, Willie's phone rings..... The drive "overslept", he was still ONE HUNDRED MILES AWAY!!! The movers left to go get breakfast. Josh, who was on his way to be here when Willie and I had to leave, planned on being here by 9:30, got here before the driver with our stuff. Willie, was pretty pissed off. I was just getting ready to leave as the driver pulled up and the movers started unloading the truck. Willie, stayed for a little while longer. Josh said that when Willie left, the driver just disappeared again. He wasn't checking the inventory, he wasn't doing anything. When I got home that night, we already knew for sure we had one broken lamp, and a shadow box that the kids and I had gotten for Willie to display his dad's army uniform had been destroyed. Luckily, the contents were fine. Over the next days as I unpacked more and more things were found crushed and destroyed. It was, by far, the WORST move we had ever experienced. That includes all the times we had to move ourselves in our younger years. You know, the borrow pick up trucks and pay your friends in pizza moves. Yeah, it was that bad. So, Atlas Van Lines, I am naming you here because, well, you sucked!

The weather that day was gorgeous, though. It was the perfect day to make a trek back to Camp Sacajawea. A few years ago I made it to go to a bench dedication ceremony for my former Girl Scout leader Jan Russell. Benches are built honoring Girl Scouts, or Green Angels who have passed away. A ceremony is held someone tells a story about them and the bench is placed in the honor circle. A book is kept in the main lodge that  has the story told at the ceremony in it as well as photos of the Green Angel. The benches are paid for by donations from family and friends. The last time I went it was in honor of Jan, this time, one of the honorees was my own mother. My mother was an artist, her choice of medium was needle and thread and her canvas more often then not were blue chambray work shirts. She made many, many of these over the course of years. All of her friends were given the gift of at least one of them, and most had several. She also made wall hangings and quilts, which were also often gifts for friends. There were many people there wearing a shirt embroidered by my mother. Many brought other works my mom had given them. All said how much they missed her. Shirley Beakler, had bought, and been gifted many shirts by my mom. She loved making dapple grey horse shirts for Shirley. Shirley owns a horse stable and most of the shirts made for her has the stable's name on them. Shirley's granddaughter, as it turns out is quite a quilter herself. She made a quilt out of the many shirts, which Shirley also brought to the ceremony. 

Three of my Girl Scout friends, including Jan's daughter Jo Anna, and Julie Williams, and Nancy Lohmeier, were there. My best friend Kelley, my oldest daughter Valerie, and my sister Stacey were all there as well. It was a beautiful day full of memories and people wearing my mom's creations. 

Then it was the time of the unpacking, and unpacking and unpacking. This went on for days and days. One morning a break was offered to me and I grabbed it with gusto! 

My phone rang very early the morning of September 11. It was Alyssa. Her babysitter had a sick child and couldn't babysit that day. Since I now lived only an hour and a half away, I jumped out of bed got dressed and headed to the rescue! I loved it! I hadn't been able to help out like that for years. I drove to Alyssa's house and hung out with Kahlen and Valerie. Ok, yeah, Valerie was there and they didn't really need me to come to the rescue right away. Valerie needed to leave to go to class though, so I really was needed. 

While Valerie was there, she and Kahlen created a birthday card for Alyssa. Yup, BONUS, I got to see Alyssa on her birthday!

The card turned out beautiful, duh, as did Kahlen's hands, hair and face. All of which she tried very hard to clean after she was done, Most of the paint washed off of her hands but her face and hair had other ideas. 

A little soap, and a little unappreciated scrubbing by Nahma and we eventually found skin again. Kahlen also helped clean the kitchen and do laundry as her birthday present to Mom. 

What in the world is a birthday without CAKE! Kahlen sent Aunt Valerie to the store to get a cake mix and frosting. She told her to get yellow cake mix and chocolate fudge frosting. That is her mom's favorite. Kahlen worked very hard making the cake. Most of the cake got into the cake pan.
Most of the frosting got on to the cake. She was very careful to spread it evenly and not get it everywhere. After all, this was for her mom!  

Okay, well like I said, MOST of it got on the cake...... Hey, the baker has to check her recipe.  

Oh, yeah, here's the new house.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Just Grow Everything Big, I Guess

This is ONE tomato plant. 
 My son, Joshua, is six foot, three inches tall. My daughter, Alyssa, is a good three inches taller than me. My Maltese dog is ten pounds, the biggest they are supposed to be is about seven pounds. Mia, well, my fat cat is about twenty pounds. Last year I tried to grow mini pumpkins for Alyssa's wedding and the patch took over the yard.

This year it is the tomato plant that ate the world. That fence behind the plant, is five feet tall. As you can see it is a good two feet taller than it.
The tomato plant on the right is normal sized.
The one on the right, the monster of Rossville. 

How I grow things so big I will never know. Valerie, my short daughter, says she is normal sized and the rest of us all are freaks of nature. (She really is just short. And I'm guessing that I'm going to take some flack for that.)

It isn't just tall either. I don't think I've ever had a tomato plant get this big. If you are wondering, yes, it is producing tomatoes like mad. Willie told me today that he gave it a boost of fertilizer. I wonder if it will grow legs and start walking now.....

And Now... Just In Time To Sell It....

 Remember when Willie and I first moved into this house and I wrote a post about the 1960's bathroom from hell? Well, finally, almost 2 years later, the bathroom is FINALLY DONE!
Yes, it is true that the house is now for sale. Which also makes it true that after all that work someone else is going to use and enjoy this new bathroom. Hopefully, it will help sell the house at a decent price.
 Hopefully, once we get to Iowa City, the new house will have a bathroom that is already usable and pretty. Or at least that will only need paint. I like to paint. That whole tiling thing, though, not so much. I would do it again. I know more now, so that would help.
I like how it turned out. I like the colors we chose. The lighting doesn't show it well in the pictures though. We put in crown molding, Willie, got very frustrated with it. Trying to get the angles cut did not go well, so we improvised. I think it turned out well.
All in all, for never having done a project like this before, I think we did ok.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Waiting Game

Whoever came up with the phrase "The Waiting Game" obviously had no idea of what the concept of a GAME really is. A game is supposed to be entertaining, it is supposed to be interesting. A game is supposed to be FUN! Those three facts were completely lost on that idiot.

I don't like waiting. I don't mind waiting in a line for a movie or at the grocery store. I have decided that to get mad about those types of things is just a waste of time and energy. Those types of waits are a part of life, a necessary evil if you will. I find ways to avoid them when I can and accept them when I can't.

It is harder waiting for things like Spring after a long winter. Or Fall after a long hot dry summer like this one is turning out to be. Again though, it is a fact of life that can't be changed. I have learned to appreciate the things that are wonderful about cold winters and hot summers. There is always some kind of beauty to be found and embraced.

Bazinga's opinion of waiting
The kind of waiting that I hate is the life changing kind. The kind you are looking very forward to or dreading with every fiber of your being.

We, as a family, have been "playing  the waiting game," the last month or so. It all started while Willie and I were back in Des Moines for a vacation and family reunion. We had a great time with family and friends. Spent a lot of time with Kahlen and just relaxed and had fun.

So, where is the stress in all of that you may ask? While we were there, an opening at a store in Iowa City became open. Iowa City is only two, count them TWO hours from Des Moines. Much better than the seven hours that we travel now. An easy day trip for Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthdays. No more missing out on important things, and if we want to kidnap Kahlen for a day or two, it is no longer a fourteen hour round trip. I can go get her and bring her back home on the same day. Maybe we can get to do it a little more..... oh Shane.... oh Alyssa..... are you reading this????

Willie had a hard time deciding whether to post for the job. He had held out hopes of getting all the way back to Des Moines. We talked about it and maybe my excitement took over his doubts, but he decided to post. On our way back home to Illinois, we stopped in Iowa City and Willie interviewed for the position. I waited in the car with Bazinga. Luckily, the horrible hot weather hadn't set in yet.  I caught up on my soap that I watch on my computer, yeah yeah.... whatever. An hour and a half later Willie comes back out. He was smiling and thought it went really well. The manager thought he'd have his decision by Friday, that day was a Monday. The longest week of my life was set to begin.

Thursday came, Willie got a call from the manager of the Iowa City store. He had gotten busy with other things and wouldn't make a decision until early next week. The longest week of my life just got extended.

We waited, impatiently, very impatiently for Monday to come. I was a mess all weekend at work. Willie kept giving me reasons why it was taking so long, but I could see that he didn't really believe them himself, so I wasn't reassured.

Monday came, no word. Willie thought for sure that we would know on Tuesday. Tuesday came, I spent my day finding ANYTHING I could do to keep my mind off of the phone. I actually got quite productive. I sanded down a folding door that I found in the scary room. I sanded some barnwood that Dawn had given me. All of these things are projects in the making, and perhaps future blogs. I even mowed the lawn that morning. The phone NEVER rang. Willie got home that night, he had gotten a call! A call to tell him that a decision still had not been made. AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!! Waiting is NOT a GAME!

Wednesday came, I had to work. At least I wouldn't be watching the phone all day. I had a review at work that went very well. I decided that it was time to tell my boss why I kept dawdling on getting my certification renewed. I told her that we might be moving and I really really do not want to work at another pharmacy when we did. I didn't want to waste $150 on a certificate I wasn't going to use anymore. Iowa City has a lot more jobs than Danville, Illinois. I will find something new! I do not want to sell pseudo ephedrine any more! I do not want to be yelled at by people who are mad because they can't get their vicodin early........ AGAIN....... ANY MORE! Anyway, I digress. My boss was very happy for me, but sad to see me go. I told her I'd let her know as soon as I knew anything.

Thursday, still no word. More sanding and paint stripping. Just couldn't sit around waiting again.

Friday morning. I came down stairs, Willie was out on the front porch talking on the phone. I tried to read his expression. Willie is very good at poker faces. I tried to figure out first who he was talking to, then when I was pretty sure, what they were talking about. They talked for a while. I got worried. I was sure at one point that it was a no. I came inside and paced around. Trying to remind myself that even if it is a no, we are fine. We have a great house, we live in a nice little town. It wouldn't be the end of the world. Except I KNEW it WOULD be the end of the world!

I went back out to the porch. Willie had just gotten off the phone. He smiled at me and I started jumping up and down and clapping my hands! HE GOT THE TRANSFER!!!!! We would be going home! Well, most of the way anyway.

Now the question is WHEN?!? The person he is replacing is waiting to get a store of her own, so we have to wait for her to get a transfer, before we can transfer. Sooooo....... Guess what? We are "playing the waiting TORTURE" again.......
How long before I get to see this face? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Great Memorial-Thanksgiving Day Weekend

 We had a GREAT weekend! Willie and I had been waiting impatiently for the weekend to come. The days at work leading up to it seemed very long and very irritating. Each day just got in the way of the weekend to come. Waiting had become unbearable.

Finally, Wednesday came. That meant Joshua and Caitlin would be coming that evening! How exciting! They would be the first to arrive. The weekend was about to begin. Lucky for me I had Thursday off! We would have time to do things together before I had to work again on Friday. We went to a movie, Dark Shadows! I had been looking forward to that since I first heard about it. It was great. We meandered around Rossville and Danville some, and rented more movies for the evening. We grilled a meatloaf for supper and settled in for the night.

 Thursday night was spent sleeplessly. Valerie, Alyssa, Shane and Kahlen were driving out overnight. I spent the night sleeping for ten minutes and then waking up and jumping up to check the clock. Four more hours, three more hours, two more hours. The minutes ticked by slower and slower. Sleep was being overridden by the excitement of all of the kids and Kahlen being here at the same time. Something that hasn't happened since we moved here. The house itself seemed delighted at the prospect of being full of life and laughter. 
 Finally, at precisely 6:06 am we got a text for Alyssa, "5 miles!" is what it said. Willie and I got up and went downstairs. We both paced around, neither knowing what to do with ourselves. Willie went out on the porch several times, watching and waiting. I paced around the kitchen, deciding what to make for breakfast, just to keep myself from running down the street to meet their car.

Finally, they pulled into the drive. The car stopped and Willie and I raced to the door. Slowly, the very tired group emerged from the car. First Shane, then Alyssa and Valerie at the same time. And then Kahlen! Now, don't get me wrong, I was very excited to see all five of my kids, but they don't change over the months when we don't see them. Kahlen, she looks different every time! She grows, she learns more words, she has emerged from baby to toddler to almost a preschooler since we moved here. Her sense of humor has exploded. I can never wait to see her. Once out of the car I swooped her into my arms and neither of us had any intention of letting go.
 We all spent the morning talking and playing with Kahlen. We caught up and made plans and got everyone settled in for the weekend. Then it was time for Willie and I to go to work. I was again lucky, Friday was the only day I had to work while they were here. Willie had to work the whole weekend. I felt so bad for him.

That Friday at work seemed to be the planet where time stood still. Everything irritated me. I was angry that I had to be there selling pseudo ephedrine to itchy twitchy meth heads instead of being home with my family. After what seemed like forever, 9:00 pm finally came. I knew as I was driving home that Kahlen would likely be asleep when I got there, but that was ok, I'd get to spend time with the grown up kids that way.

As it turned out, Little Miss Kahlen had other ideas. I got home and opened the door. No sooner than I had walked in then a very exhausted Alyssa came down the stairs carrying and even more exhausted Kahlen. She had refused to go to sleep. Alyssa gave her to me, and she hung on tight. We got her talked into going to bed. I promised her that I would stay home with her for the next two days and until they had to leave Monday. She laid down and begrudgingly went to sleep.

The next morning Willie got up early and spent time with Kahlen watering flowers and feeding fish. We had another big breakfast and made sure Willie had Kahlen time before he had to go into work.
We decided to go into Indiana and got to Shades State Park for the day. It was a hot, hot day, but as the name of the park implies, it was very shady there. The heat didn't seem to bother anyone. The dirt however, did. Kahlen is much like her Grandpa. She is neat and tidy and isn't keen on getting dirty. Shane and I have a shared mission in life to change that about her. When we were on a nice flat normal path, or on the board walk and stairs, Little Miss was fine. She wanted to lead the way and decided which way to go. UNTIL..... we got down to the creek bed. It was wet! It was muddy! It was dirty! She wanted Daddy to carry her. She had no intention of getting filthy. Her sandals were not going to be soiled by that mud. I decided to get her dirty anyway. I scooped up a finger-full of mud and smeared it on her leg. Yeah.... not the good idea I thought it was. She was very unhappy that I had betrayed her by getting her dirty. Then I smeared mud on my leg as well. "It's fun to get dirty!" I happily told her.  That seemed to calm her a little.

Shane was very patient and kind with her. He carried her as long as she wanted and encouraged her to get down and walk when she wanted to try. Soon she was down in the water marching around, and just as soon she was up in Daddy's arms again. He was very good at knowing when to encourage and when to scoop her up. What started out as a scary situation for her turned into a wonderful experience for her and Shane both.

On the way home, Kahlen rode with Josh, Caitlin and me. She had an Oreo cookie. Anyone who has ever given a two and a half year old an Oreo knows what a mess that makes. Kahlen looked at her Oreo covered hands. She looked up at me and announced proudly, "Nahma! I got Dirty!" Shane and I may succeed at our mission yet!

The evening was spent grilling hot dogs, brats, pineapple and asparagus. We ate and laughed and wished Willie was there, too. Kahlen and I made a cheesecake for our "Thanksgiving" meal for the next day. She helped me put in ingredients, and watched as the mixer swirled them together. Alyssa took pictures and stayed out in the kitchen watching her daughter grow up a little more. Some cheesecake ended up on the floor, some on Bazinga, some on Kahlen. Some of it even ended up in the pan.  I got to give Kahlen her bath and bedtime snuck up on us.

After Kahlen was snug in bed, Valerie and I went to the store in Hoopston to get a few more things for our Sunday feast. We found all of our items and went home. We made pineapple salad, and Willie got home. His hours had gotten changed for Sunday, which meant he would be home earlier! We were all excited about that.
 The next morning Kahlen came in to wake me up. She climbed up on my bed, and brushed her hand on my cheek very softly. She giggled when I opened my eyes and gave me a big old hug. We watched Sesame Street for a little bit and then headed down stairs. Shane and Alyssa were going to go out for breakfast, and Valerie had already started making rolls for the rest of us. It was the start of a busy cooking day. Before that though, Josh went down and found Kahlen's swimming pool and got it all blown up. Caitlin, Josh and I watched as Kahlen very carefully held the hose to fill her pool. (Very carefully, because the day before she and the hose had had an, lets call it, and interaction. She was messing with the on and off switch on the hose. She wanted to fill a little tub with water. Josh was the first to notice her playing with it, "Let's see where this goes...." was his response. We all watched, and tried to find our phones for pictures, but we were too late..... She got the knob to turn, the water stormed out of the hose fiercely and scared the poo out of poor little Kahlen. Now when the hose comes on she runs for cover until it is flowing nicely.)
We made our big turkey dinner. Turkey dinner on Memorial Day weekend you may be asking yourself? Yes, this was the first holiday we had been all together since Willie and I moved here. So, Alyssa decided we needed to have a big Thanksgiving dinner. Which we did. Willie got home by three, just in time to see Kahlen having a good time in her pool.  Well, standing in her pool, but having fun just the same.

With bellies full, we all vegetated for a few hours while Kahlen and Caitlin put on a show for us. Kahlen was the princess in the grand regal robe, and Caitlin her dutiful servant. Kahlen ran through the house, with Caitlin keeping her robe up off the ground. "Bow down to me," Kahlen commanded. The house was full of laughter and energy. Even the creaks in the house seemed happier and younger.

Monday came and cars were packed. We all went to Penn Station for lunch. Having them leave from their seemed like it might be easier then watching them go down the road from the house. Kahlen started to pout a little as we went to the parking lot. I looked her in the eyes and told her I wanted her to be a good girl for Mommy and Daddy on the drive home. She said ok, and perked up a little. I told her Nahma and Tahpa would see her in about a week or so, and she perked up more. By the time she got in her car seat she was smiling and giggling. Leaving from the parking lot seemed to work. Made it easier on me and Willie, too.

We came home to an empty house. The quiet floating over us like a cloud of fog. Bazinga looked for everyone and was disappointed to find only Willie and me. We sat down on the couch and even the house seemed a little sadder.

Time with Friends

A couple of weeks ago, Bazinga and I decided to go on a road trip to go see my friend Dawn. This meant that Bazinga was going to get to have time with his own mom and dad. I wasn't quite sure how Pig, Bazinga's dad, was going to welcome him. Now that Bazinga is a full grown male dog, therefore competition, I didn't know if he'd see him as a rival, or still as the pup he knew. After the very long trip down to Dawn's, I took a wrong turn, and then hit horrible traffic, Bazinga was accepted as part of the pack. Pig reminded him of his manners and all was fine. 

 A surprise awaited Bazinga, he had a new brother and sister to get to know. He was fascinated with them. He stood and watched them and tried to get in to their kennel with them. Not exactly sure what to do with them, he spent most of his time following his mom, Isabelle,  around. "She smelled PURTY!" Her pregnancy hormones still in full bloom, and  the smell of her milk enticing his senses, Bazinga wasn't sure how to approach her. One moment he would be following her like a smitten suitor and the next he'd be trying to nurse. He was one confused boy. Her reaction was to tolerate kindly and snap him into place as needs be.

He had a whole pack of dogs of all different kinds and sizes to play with.  He had chickens to chase. He could safely go in and out as he pleased, never wandering too far from Isabelle,  was a happy puppy.
Knowing that Bazinga was in good hands, Dawn and I decided to go to town. We went to lunch at an outdoor restaurant in St. Charles, Missouri.  We each had quiche, mine asparagus and brie, hers ham and cheese, and a cup of lovely potato soup. We then went for a walk down Main street. St. Charles is right on the Mississippi River and still has the charms and architecture of an 1800's river town. The shops are mostly independently owned small businesses each with a unique sense of style and quaintness that honors the term Main Street America.  

We enjoyed walking down the street, window shopping and admiring the brownstone buildings. The flower lined streets beckoning us to continue walking. The open doors of the shops welcoming as they let the mid May air in to mingle with the smells of fresh baked cookies, old hardwood floors and the cool, sweet aroma that you only get from aged brick.

Dawn and I could have spent all day there, but we had other things in mind. We got back into the car and found our way to a Habitat for Humanity Restore. Habitat for Humanity, is and organization that builds homes for people. They restore or rebuild old homes, or start from scratch when necessary. These houses are then sold to people at a very reasonable price and with financing that is affordable. They help people get out of rentals and tenements, but give them the responsibility and pride of home ownership.

The Restores take donated items, including building materials, that they can't use, and resell it to the public at much reduced prices. In areas where construction is strong, you can find everything from lighting fixtures, crown moulding, and flooring, to tiles, bathtubs and old doors. It may be stuff torn out of an old house and salvaged, to brand new stuff, that perhaps some one special ordered, but then decided wasn't the right color and couldn't be taken back to the place of purchase.  You can find treasures and bargains galore. We have one in Danville that I have visited, but was amazed by the things to be found at this one. Danville does not have a lot of construction going on, so that Restore is much smaller and relies more on donations from the community. You can still find the bargains, but have to be very diligent and go often as the inventory turns over often. This store was huge, it had enough tile in one color to tile an entire bathroom. Oh, how I wished I lived closer!

Dawn and I both found things, she a new door for her barn, and a few other things. Me, an arched window frame, that may become a picture frame, or something, I haven't decided yet. After that we went to another resale shop, each filled a  grocery bag with things like old books full of upholstery samples, and wine corks. Each of us having visions of Pinterest dancing through our heads. Our very over stuffed bags only costing $8.00 each we left satisfied we had spent the day frugally. Re-purposing discarded items, a passion for us both.

The next day was spent at Grant's Farm in St. Louis. It was a day of relaxing and enjoying a little time outside. Grant's Farm is the historical home of Ulysses Grant. Part of the grounds have been turned into an area with animals and petting zoos. It also houses the training facilities of the Budweiser Clydesdale Horse Team.

We rode the tram into the park and spent time watching elephant shows and animal education shows. I was wishing that Kahlen was there with me, knowing how much she would enjoy it.
 We fed baby goats, who were very excited to be fed. They clamored up to us and less then politely demanded the baby bottles that contained the much desired milk. Dawn's and my bottles were emptied quickly and with gusto. Leaving many kids asking for more. Somehow, Kristie, Dawn's daughter, the newly anointed veterinarian, was able to make her bottle last and made the kids share it. She gave a sip or two each goat, making it last fifteen minutes or more. Dawn and I were perplexed at how she did it.

 After escaping the remake of Hitchcock's The Birds, replacing the birds with baby goats, we continued walking around the grounds. The end of the tour was at the horse training facilities. The Clydesdales weren't there, but you could see the grandeur of the grounds and how the horses were cared for when they were there. It was a good day, and a good break from reality and all that comes with it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Thoughts

My mother died in May of 1988. It has been twenty-four years since I have bought a Mother's Day card for my mother. An old friend of mine, and her mother had a falling out many, many years ago. Recently, they have been starting, slowly to reconnect. Very slowly, but baby steps are much better than no steps. My hope for both of them is that they get past whatever happened between them. They are both very lucky to be able to have the chance to find their way back to each other. I saw today, on Facebook, that my friend did reach out to her mom with a Happy Mother's Day, made me very happy!

I saw this little family, when I got home today. When I first saw them they were all cuddled together at the edge of my yard. Of course, when I got the camera, they got nervous and split apart. Mom never got very far from the baby. I'm sure if I'd gotten any closer that Dad would have dive bombed me.
As I was downloading the pictures from my camera, I found this one of Kahlen from the last time she was here. Wow, was it really clear back in January? She was making brownies to take home for her mommy. Happy Mommy's Day Alyssa. You have the most beautiful little girl in the world! You and Shane have done an amazing job! I can't wait to meet Kahlen's new brother or sister!

 To my mom, we had a different kind of mother - daughter relationship. You were eccentric, original, creative and one of a kind. You taught me that things can be done in many different ways, including parenting. I do know that you did your best. I know you loved us kids in your own special way.  You taught me both how to be, and how not to be a good mom. Lessons that every mother needs to learn. Parenting is not about being perfect, it is about being human. Humans have never been, nor will they ever be... perfect. The real trick is doing it a little better than your own mother did, and I think you did. I love you and I miss you.

To Willie's mom, Virginia, thank you for being the strong, stable, and amazing mother that you were, not just to your children, but to me as well. You were there for Willie and me through thick and thin. After my mother passed away, you filled in the gap in a way no one else could. You were the grandmother to my children, the only one they really knew. They looked forward to seeing you and still talk about how you made them the best ice cream sundaes ever. You were very sneaky about how you spoiled them rotten. They, Willie and I all loved and adored you. You are missed very much.

For all Mother's both here and gone, this day is for you. We remember you, we love you and we honor you. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Random Thoughts of an Exhausted Mind

I finally found a good use for hot flashes. They help me get out of bed on a chilly morning. Yeah, that's about it.

I noticed today, that not only are my eyebrows going gray, but some are trying to grow the wrong way. This disturbs me! I do not want the old man curly eyebrow thing. I'm starting to understand now, why some little old ladies pluck all of their eyebrows and then draw them back on.

Bazinga is not the sharpest tool in the shed. Willie put in two evergreens in the front yard, and Bazinga thought for sure they were going to eat him. Apparently, there are many things in this world that think little white dogs are tasty. I had to drag him up to the trees and make him sniff them to get him to stop barking at them.

Begonias are pretty. I think they belong in every yard.

Mint is apparently a perennial not an annual. If you ever want to grow mint, give it A LOT of room. It likes to stretch its legs and take over a garden. I spent a good hour and a half moving the mint I planted last year to a bed all of its own. It was trying to take over the oregano and sage.

And finally, using an electric hand held sander is fun, and kind of therapeutic. It is rewarding seeing unwanted paint disappear off of an object. However, and I don't know why, but when you are done, and you have that weird tingling in your hands, it makes your hands ITCH!!! Not a normal itch either. It is more an itch of a million paper cuts. It itched so bad it hurt. I had to run my hands under cold water to make it stop.

If you thought this post was going to make sense you didn't read the title.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Scary Room

 Yesterday, I decided it was time. I've lived in this house for a year and a half now. The room has been there the whole time. I peaked my head in once, turned around and walked away. I'd think about every once in a while, especially when I'd go down to do laundry.

Really though, would you be in a big hurry to check out a room that had a door that looked like this? Willie has been in there, and survived. Though, he did come out a little grayer than he went in. I think he was shaking a little, too.

Now, it was my turn. I have been looking at things on Pinterest and thought I might find a treasure or two that I could make into something else.
Bazinga, seeing me looking at the scary door to the scary room, became concerned. He knew that going in there was a bad idea. The basement as a whole is frightening enough, but that room? Bazinga knew no good could come of going in there. He whimpered a little, imploring me NOT to open that door. Surely, there would be evil monsters that eat little white dogs in there. 

 He stood back from the door as I slowly opened it. We peaked in. We decided that a weapon of selfdefense was in order. We shut the door again and looked around. What to use? We needed something that would ward off puppy eating monsters. Bazinga thought a semi automatic machine gun was in order. Never having been a gun owner/collector, the machine gun was just not an option.
 We found a stick. I figured if a bat flew out at me this would be good enough. Bazinga was neither impressed nor inspired to confidence that my choice of weaponry was appropriate. What was I going to do with THAT when a giant red eyed, magenta skinned, lizard tongued, scaly monster with fifteen rows of sharp pointy teeth tried to eat him. He shook his head, woofed good bye to Mia, who was hiding upstairs, the coward, and took a deep breath. We went in.
 Bazinga sniffed the air. He looked around carefully and listened for any unusual movement. Unsure he slowly moved around the room. Suddenly, he realized, this room was the coolest place EVER! So many things to sniff.

As he sniffed around, I looked around. Treasures I did find. All sorts of them. I already have an idea for this shutter, it has a couple of mates out in the garage. That will be my first project. I won't say what it will be yet, but you can expect a post sometime in the future.
 Pinterest has a lot of good ideas for old cribs. I have no idea how old it is or if it is at all safe, so restoring it for the new grandchild is not an option. However, it may still be used for Kahlen and her brother or sister. I have an idea for the spring thingy for my house. I'll let you know later.
This is another treasure, it looks like an old head board. Not sure what I will do with it. There are always options though!

All in all our little expedition into the scary room turned out well. And no puppies were harmed in the process. (Oh, and Bazinga says he was NEVER scared at all and doesn't know why I made such a big deal about it.)