First Project-Boys Room

Monday, January 31, 2011

I cleaned the boys room this morning and thought I should take some pictures before they demolished it.  I  remembered that I had taken some before pictures, so I thought I would put up those too.  After all that they are!


The bookshelves

Cracks stuffed with towels and socks.


The room had become kind of a catch-all over the years.  It was full of cooking and gardening books that belonged to my husbands aunt. Oh, don't forget the rat turds! The floor was just plywood.  The walls were paneling, paneling, paneling.  I began the makeover hoping to just paint the paneling.  Two walls turned out perfect.  When I got around the windows, thats when the magic happened.  The bad kind.  Some drunk driver had crashed into that side of the house at some point in time and there was damage.  The stains kepts coming through the paint.  It went through Kilz and everything!  And!  Some of the paneling had cracks in it so the paint was seeping beneath and lifting away the plastic like surface.  Had to demo the room.  Well, at least the paneling.  It felt like demo.  Stuff was flying everywhere!

Then I had to learn to plaster the walls real quick like.  That was fine.  I wanted a really smooth skim coat, but that is above my pay grade.  So I worked until I got the most minimal looking texture.  I like it well enough.  Where the walls meet the floor was a challenge.  When I tried to apply the plaster, the wall began to fall apart.

Like that corner there.  So, I just did my best and we got some really tall baseboard.

Here is the After:

This pic is a little bright.  Wow!

Every boy needs maps!

Here is the flooring I put in...MYSELF!

No room is complete without the picture of the cowboy lighting his cigarette.

I apologize for the picture quality.  Some day I will have my camera.  Then I will be a real blogger!


Spa Day? Yes, please.... or ....Grumble, Grumble

My husbands children discovered that they can throw their oatmeal.  Everywhere.  I will not post a picture. 

Oatmeal in the blinds.  In the cracks of the floor.  The china cabinet glass.  Stack o' bills.  Ev-er-eeeee-werr.

I was out of site only for a minute, I promise.  (Okay, I was reading a blog.  It was a GOOD one!!!)  I looked up and saw a few blobs of oatmeal on the floor.  Levi was mid swing with another glob, when I tossed the laptop and ran into a scene from Animal House.  I had a Mommy Dearest moment and sent the kids out of the kitchen.  (Not the wire hanger scene, more like "Tina!!!!  Bring me the axe!!!!")  I scrubbed and scraped, ranted and raved.

Oatmeal will never be cooked in this house again.  (Sure.)


Southern Observations

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The dust has settled a little around here.  Most of the rooms are functionally organized. (Read: you can find it if you need it.)  There is a ton of cardboard on the front porch.  The old Suburban is loaded really nice things to donate-wink, wink. 

Now I have time to write about a few things I have noticed in my short time here.  This is old hat to my Southern Born and Bred Husband, but its brand new to me.

People are nice.   Helpful, courteous, smiling, friendly, nice.  Oh and they are not waiting for some sort of mystery shopper report.  It's just the way it is.  I find this both refreshing and alarming. 

I was born in California and lived there through adulthood.  I did a short stint in Michigan (Love You MICHIGAN!!!), and another one in Florida when my husband and I were first married.  (Shout out to the Central Coast!)  Apart from where we grew up, Washington was the state we lived in the longest.  Seven years.  

Having lived in those states I have learned that geography matters.  California is not friendly.  Sorry, but it's not.  Washington and Florida are about the same.  That is not to say that there are no friendly people in those states.  There are.  I am talking about the general attitude.  The public face of the population can be guarded, suspicious, and kinda mean.  Don't get caught looking into the car next to you on the freeway in my homestate.  At the least you will get a harsh look, at the most a gun flashed at you. 

Michigan was the first state where I experienced a neighborly welcome to our home.  I woke up one morning to find a basket of baked goods and a friendly note.  If WTF had existed then, it would have appeared in a bubble above my head.  My friend Jenny and I debated whether or not we should eat it or give any of it to the kids.  (You know the whole razor blades in the candy apples fear.  Hey!  Who knows?)
It was fine.  But, it opened my eyes to a world I didn't know existed.  One where fences were non existent or short enough for you to chat with your next door neighbor.  And they wanted to chat with you. 

Southern people take it to a whole other level.  Case in point:  I was in the grocery store and was grabbing up some fridge packs of pop.  A nice lady told me that the store price matched and the sodas were on sale at another store.  She not only told me which were on sale, but she gave me HER copy of the ad to take to the register. 

The first time I was in WalMart, I thought they had 10 greeters.  Turns out it was just a bunch of people saying hello as I walked in.  Who me?  Well...okay....hi. 

When I drive down Brown's Chapel road, the drivers passing by wave at me!  I haven't seen anyone do that since my early days when I stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's Ranch.  Grandpa waved, but my dad didn't wave to anyone on our street.  No one else did, really.  I waved to my friends.  Why don't people wave anymore?

Another Southern trait:

Faith is the word.

Gimme that ole time religion is no joke.  I can throw a rock and hit a church.  (You know I would never do that God. )  There is no shame about it either.  Its like brownies and ice cream.  All good.  I like that. 

If you are pro-choice you won't be after a visit to the local veterinarian.  They put it out there for all to see.  Pictures, pamphlets, little models of babies in the womb. 

Abortion debate aside, its about the true integration of knowing the faith and living the faith.  The awkwardness that I have felt in mentioning a bible study, or a spectacular sermon just does not exist here.  Could that be the key to the friendliness of the people?  I think it is a big-no huge- part of it.
There is nothing sweeter than the sound of little children telling you about God. 

After trying to practice my faith in the most secular of states, I feel hopeful and alive.  It's nice.

My last topic for today:

The Food

Praise the is good!!!!!


The Stuff I Like

Friday, January 28, 2011

After 10 years of marriage and three kids I have done pretty well narrowing down the products I use in my home.  I used to be really bad.  I would fall for a fancy wrapper, or a classy bottle like a giddy school girl.  Lately, I just want what is cheap and what works.  That can apply to anything home related.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, car care.  Whatev!

These are my most commonly used products:

1.  Coconut Oil

I am discovering new uses for this stuff by the day.  It is truly amazing.  From cooking, to personal products, it is wonderful.  Find out more about coconut oil here.  Please don't pay an arm and a leg for it either.  A great source that I have found is Mountain Rose Herbs.  Their prices are great and it is a company that makes you feel like you are purchasing from a store just around the corner.  I love em! (I buy a gallon at a time.)

2.  Dr. Bronner's Castile Soaps 

This is a hemp and coconut oil based soap.  It also is a multi-purpose product.  My little Levi has had terrible break outs, and rosy red cheeks since he was a wee babe.  Dr. Bronner's is the only soap that has kept his skin issues at bay.  There are recipes all over the internet for hair wash, laundry soaps and tooth soaps all containing or simply using Dr. Bronner's.  One of the best recipes I have is a the multipurpose household cleaner that I got from GroceryShrink.  It costs pennies to make, and if you sign up for her site, she will email you the recipes for free.  Tell her I sent you, and I will blush!

3.  Baking Soda 

Also, very multi purpose and frugalicious.


4.  Apple Cider Vinegar

This took some getting used to.  Now, when I smell it I associate it with clean, clean, clean.  I like apple cider vinegar because it is a little less offensive and salad like than white vinegar.  Whatever vinegar you choose, just make sure it comes from a natural source.  Here are some tips on using apple cider vinegar.  I have tried to take it internally.  Ick.  Not quite there yet. I highly recommend it for a personal care product or for cleaning.

5.  20 Mule Team Borax

I use this along with Super Washing Soda and Castile Soap bars to make my homemade laundry soap.  I found it on the Duggar's website.  If you follow the link, scroll down, it's there.  Very easy to make.  One five gallon bucket lasts about six months in our house.  The cost is less that three dollars.  Very economical.  I would suggest washing your whites in something else.  They tend to become a little greyish.  But colors and jeans do quite well.

6.  Super Washing Soda

A little tough to find.  So if you can, stock up.  It can also be ordered online.  Or, during the summer go to the pool section in WalMart.  There you can find PH balancing Sodium Carbonate powder.  Same thing.  Remember Sodium Carbonate not BiCarbonate (Baking Soda).  When I run out of dish detergent I use a little of this, Borax and course salt in the dishwasher.  It can be used regularly but I find that after awhile it clouds up my glasses.

7.  Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has natural bleaching and antibacterial properties.  I mix it with a little olive oil to make a furniture cleaner.  Love the smell of lemons.  Way better than vinegar.  Lemons are expensive though.  Dang!  Time to get a tree!

8.  Olive Oil

Olive oil just rocks.  Try out some of these tips on this site.

9.  Essential Oils

My fave is Tea Tree Oil. The healing and antiseptic properties make it a great choice for moms who have to treat lots of cuts and bruises.  Once again Mountain Rose Herbs is a great place to find many essential oils.

Well, I better make this a top ten so here goes...

10.  Chocolate

Ahhhhhhh yeah.  (Can't get enough of your love baby!!)


Testing, Testing...Is this thing on???

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now that I am a country mouse...hang on.  Gotta get the door.

Okay, what is with the guys who sell the frozen meat out of their pick-ups?  I told him we just got a freezer full of meat.  Pig actually.  (More on that later.)

What was I writing about?  See, if you break my concentration....?

Oh yeah.  Now that I am a country mouse, I am kicking around the idea of homeschooling.  Not really kicking it around.  I want to do it.  I have my reasons and I will get into them on another post.  I will leave it at this-who better to make sure that my kids get a QUALITY education than me?  Right now, I feel the best way is the homeschool way.

Today was a test for me.  I printed off a few pages from a website that a kind lady sent me.  She runs the Church Cover School here in Alabama. (AL state law requires that families homeschool under the umbrella of a church school.)  Jacob is taking his high school courses through her.  I picked her brain one morning about preschool curriculum.  She has been a wealth of resources and knowledge.  I also hunted down a few other sites that gave me ideas to go along with the print outs.

My basic plan was to have the kids start out with a little worksheet that worked on shapes and colors.  Three shapes: circles, squares, triangles.  Three colors: blue, red, green.  Then we would go on a nature walk and try to find some found objects to bring home and do a craft with.  I hoped to find a circlular object, a square object, or a triangle shaped object.  Another section was going to be coloring the letter A.  I would tailor a snack around the "a" sound. (Applesauce?)

The best laid plans seem to go right out the window for me.  The kids sat down to color the shapes.  Levi did quite well.  I mainly wanted him to get used to the feel of the crayons, and working with them.  Gideon immediately turned over his paper to the blank side and said "Draw the Incredible Hulk!"  I patiently flipped over the paper and tried to direct him back to the activity.  I asked if he could draw a red Iron Man in the circle, or a green Hulk in the triangle.  He shook his head no and flipped the paper back over.  Normally I would blow up and tell him to do exactly what I said.  Instead, I just observed him.  Soon, he flipped the paper over and scribbled some lines of color in the shapes.  Before boredom set in, I told Gideon I had another coloring sheet for him.  I set it down and he looked at it.  Levi got upset because his paper was different and climbed across the table to grab Gideons page.  I set him back down in his chair and said he had shapes to color.  This set off a waterfall of tears and snot.  He threw his crayons and shouted "UH-UH!!!!"  Hmmmm.  NEXT!

 I grabbed up the offending coloring sheet and brought out two that matched.  The letter A worksheet.  It was a simple page with the letter A and an ant.  Both of the boys scribbled some color on it.  Levi cried a few more tears of frustration.  Like a flash, I was hit with a brilliant idea...Play-doh!  I asked Gideon if he wanted to play with Play-Doh.  Duh!!! Who doesn't??  I went out into the storage room and found the box with the art supplies.  Inside, I found a bucket of Moon Sand that my co-worker Sheila had given the boys.  It was brand new.  I thought "What the heck...let's try it." 
After I opened, it Levi crawled back up onto the table and promptly ate a chunk of the stuff.  I cleaned out his mouth and told him he was too little to play with Moon Sand.  More tears and screaming.  I looked at the clock-  ( geez )  -way past nap time.  Sure enough, after about two minutes of lying on his bed, he was out.

Gideon and I played with the Moon Sand for a few minutes.  I couldn't get the stuff to do anything.  Gideon just crumbled it in his hands.  I asked Jacob if he knew what Moon Sand was for.  He said it was for putting into molds.  Well, we need to expand our Moon Sand collection I guess.  I went back out and got the Play-doh.  We played for 30 minutes. 

After cleaning up, I put Gideon's boots on him and zipped up his hoodie.  It was nature walk time. 

"Gideon, we are going on a treasure hunt.  We need to find a circle, a square, and a triangle.  Then we will take them back to the house and do something fun with them."

We searched high and low.  The only circles we found were tires and the tops of glass jars.  Nothing was square except for a large cement block.  No triangles anywhere.  It was all either too heavy or connected to something.  No dice.

If this is how it's going to go, how will my kids ever learn?  Why don't things go as beautifully as I picture them in my mind?  I am starting to wonder if all the homeschool bloggers lie.  Do they just take some pictures and edit stories to make it all fabulous? 

On the positive tip-Gideon and I were outside in the sun.  The boys did an activity together.  They used their hands.  They watched less TV.  All in all, not a bad day.  It ain't over yet.  Maybe we can do something----okay I just looked down beside me.  Gideon has fallen asleep, snuggled up.  It is ALL worth it.  Success, failure.  Everything.


I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My title is a nod to one of the most wonderful set of crooners I know.  The Ink Spots. If you've never been introduced, consider this your introduction.  From the first moment I heard them on the Shawshank Redemption soundtrack, I was transported.  I call it my "laundry hangin music".

In my early twenties I had a vision (the future I wanted) of me on a sunny afternoons.  Hanging my laundry on the line.  A slight breeze blowing my gossamer gown, my sunlit hair tickling my lower back and shoulders.  An open window would carry music on the breeze.  The Ink Spots, Ella, Billie, Count Basie, The Duke...  While this was going on, the man I love would come around the corner and see me basking in the sun.  Doing my wifely duties.  He would come up behind me,throw his arms around my waist, kiss my sunburned shoulders it hot in here?

Speaking of heat.  Let me take the opportunity to introduce you to...

Satan's Stove.

No joke.  This stove would try the patience of Job.

Oh wait I have a much better view:

Now that is more like it. 

Before The Move, we asked what kind of appliances were already here.  We had a stove at the the other house.  It had a burner that did not work.  I made do.  The oven and the other three burners worked well.  It was a glass top. I felt a little meh about it.  I like the idea of the glass top.  Not the care and upkeep.  I digress.

My husband asked his step mom about the situation.  She assured us there was a stove.  He asked what kind it was and her response was "Well, it works."  Red Flag!  Needless to say we said goodbye to our stove and hello to Stovie-Charrer of Doom.

Oh it works.  It works well!  The oven stays in a constant preheat mode .  I have to figure out how long it would take most things to cook on broil, and which rack position will be the least damaging to the food.  One of the burners works okay, but heats one half bright red, the other, sullen black.  The others either don't come on, or won't shut off.  That brings us to the best part:

Notice, three knobs for four burners.  When the knob disappeared, I had the darndest time getting the burner to turn off. It was warm to the touch for several hours.  I finally gave up, then came back and it was cold.  The smallish knob is for the oven.  It is quite prone to throwing parts onto the floor. Spontaneously.


One afternoon I was making bread.  The loaves have to go into a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes, then bump it down to 350 for 30 more minutes.  With Stovie, that means 350 for the first 10 minutes, then 250 for the final bake.  I left the kitchen for the 10 minutes to take a thisquick shower.  I could hear my son saying "What the heck?"  then he knocked on the bathroom door.

"What temperature did you have the stove on?"  I smelled something burning.

"350 like I was supposed to!"

"Well it was at 500 and your bread is burned."

"WHAT?????  I set that thing at 350!!!!!"

The result was raw on the bottom, charred on the top bread.  My beautiful dough, molested by this agent of the evil one.  I started to think we had a ghost. 

Here is another example:

This is tonight's dinner.  Pan fried pork chops.  All cooked in the same pan at the same time, same temp.  Low.  Notice anything?  @#&@#@*!

Once again, my camera is on the back burner ( OH HA HA HA!) because I have to replace the stove.  No gettin around it.


...and it makes me wonder.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My baby boy is going through a break up.  He is 16, 6 foot 4, blue eyed, soft hearted, and torn apart.  Momma no likey.  At all. 

Normally I would go all mother hen and be irate at the young lady who did the damage.  But I can't.  See, I knew her, and wanted the best for those two kids.  Before we moved, I cried to my husband like a baby because we were tearing them apart.  I wanted her to come with us.  I still wish she was here.  She was about the age that the baby I lost shortly after I had Jacob would have been.  I couldn't help but look at her and wonder if my daughter (I thought the baby was a girl.  I never got to know) would have been like her.  So I guess I latched on a little too strongly and put the cart before the horse.

Distance is a hard thing.  Especially for two young people.  I'm so sorry it went this way. 

Seeing him go through this stirs up so many emotions.  Mostly it takes me back to my first love.  That past I keep trying to run from?  It all began with him.  He took everything I was willing to give, broke me, betrayed me, and played with me like a cat toy for as long as he could.  I was a baby.  I went from playing with toys, to kissing this boy.  I was over the moon.  I was an idiot.  The worst part?  He broadcasted everything that went on between us, and gave me a reputation that I could not escape, and eventually gave in to.  Hey, if everyone tells you that you are trash, and they treat you like it, maybe you ARE it.  Right? 

What would I go back and tell the girl of 13 who hated herself everyday?  Who slumped her shoulders.  Failed her classes.  Wanted to be seen, yet wanted to hide.  What would I tell that broken girl?   I would hug her, tight.  I would cry hot tears and tell her she was NOT who "they" said she was.  I would tell her to hold her head up high.  I would tell her not try to find love around every corner.  I would tell her of the mommy she was to become.  The things she will get done.  I would tell her..."You ARE loved." 

I never went to a prom.  It was like I was radioactive.  I felt like an ugly creature that annoyed everyone.  Some days, most days, I would lash out by being provocative, being comical, or appearing crazy.  None of it worked.  I cried myself to sleep a lot of nights.  I wished I was dead many more.

They say you never forget your first love.  No, you don't.  Unfortunately.  The hardest thing I have had to tell my son, is that the only way to get through it is to go through it.  Mom can't make it go away. 

Although I made a bad choice, I would not change it.  That tough road led me to who I am today.  If I changed one thing, I might not have my three precious boys.  One might think that all those years of feeling trampled down would have destroyed my faith.  Folks, my faith is why I am standing here.   I don't know how people do it without God.  I really don't. 

I don't know what happened to the guy.  I don't want to know.  I wish him well where ever he is.  I do wonder sometimes if he ever had kids.  Did he have a little girl?  And when she turned 13 did he think about what he did to me?


Down on PawPaw's Farm

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Today I will lead you on a tour of PawPaw Clements' farm.  This is where we are currently residing.  I hope by the end of this you will not judge me too harshly.  For my environmentalist friends I have a stern warning:  This is not for the faint of heart.  If a trashy beach made the Indian cry, this will make him tear off his garments and shave his head.  Now that we have settled that, let us brave folks move forward.  Let the healing begin.

This is the house.  Well, it's the part I find amazing.  This chimney is HUGE.  Jon's dad did all rock work on the house.  This picture does not convey the cute country charm.  Jon had to patch up the wide open holes on the side of the house with what we had available during the snow storm.  Hence, the metal, towels and bricks.  I forgot to snap a picture of the house, so I used this one.  It's also the only angle that doesn't show all of our crap that's still on the porch.

This is building number one.  It doesn't have a name.  "You know the little cement block building that's full of canned goods"  That's what we call it.  Boy, is it full of canned goods.  Why are they called canned goods when it's all in jars?  Hmmmmm.

This is the dinner bell.  At least I think it is.  It may have been the bell that called the cows home, I don't know.  The string is our effort to work the post back up to a straight position.  Not working.  I want to have it sandblasted and restore it to its former glory.  Okay-I just want to ring it at dinner time, I confess.

This is shed number one.  Cars and trucks are supposed to go in here, but it is full of junk.  Crazy junk.

Like this....

....and this.  That is just a glimpse of what fills every corner of the shed.  Not kid friendly.  Not pet friendly.  We'll get to the pet friendly part next.

Oh!  Here is where Fatman went!!  Play horsie on this big 'un and you might get an unexpected trip to the moon!

This is the Honey House.  This could easily be converted into a small home.  It is the most efficiently built item on the farm.  PawPaw kept bees. This was the newest building to house all the jars of honey.  Currently it houses lots of junk, canned food, pool tables, furniture that no longer fits in the house, and rats.  Lots of rats.  (The former owner's did not believe in owning cats.  But they were okay with living with rats, and rat poo.)  I would take you in there for a tour, but the last time I went in there, there was a near tragedy.  This is the pet friendly area I was talking about. Sarcasm intended.  I went in to look through the wood scraps for some crown moulding.  My dog Sampson followed me in and promptly ate rat poison.  Yeah, I steer clear of the Honey House now.  It's no sweet thing to me.

You can see next to the Honey House is the black walnut orchard.  I love orchards.  I'm an orchard girl!!!!

This is shed number two.  I have no idea what it's official title is.  Lawnmower Shed seems the most logical choice, since there is a Dixie Chopper in there.

 But what about this?

Or this???  Bad Fuel?  If it's bad-why is it here?????


How bout starting a jug band?  I got the jug...oh never mind.

Up next?  The Chicken Coop.  At one time this had actual chickens in it.  Now it has bee keeping supplies, mattress springs, briefcases, and

Grandma's clothes? More canned goods? 

A TV?  Maybe the person who drank the crate of booze broke it.  Sad face.

Moving on...

This bee-yoot is the former honey house.  Honey Trailer? Now it just sits here for effect and mood.  Jon says his dad was inside it once when a tornado hit. Sounds fun.
In the corner of the shot is my hubands broke down Cadillac.  You might be a redneck if you find a Cadillac on your farm.  Along with several trucks stashed about. 

Here is shed number three.  This one is ready to come down in my humble opinion.  Poor thing.

But if you need some Bananex, Shed Three is THE place to go.

Or Super #3000...

I have no idea.

This is the Pump House.  Next to it is another trailer full of bee keeping supplies.  The pump house holds the only hose that I have seen on the property.  It's no fun to go trekkin to the pump house to wash a paint brush.  No fun.

Off yonder...(tee hee) is the Hog House.  No hogs have been harmed here for a long time.  Like the other buildings, it's packed with beekeeping stuff.

No horses have been in this pig for awhile either.

Interior shot of the long Chicken House.  Guess what???  No frickin chickin!!!  It's full of scrap wood.  PawPaw was a woodcutter.  Cap'n.... There be wood here!  Oh and another truck!

Holy Moly!!!

A grain silo used to stand in this very spot.  No one can tell me what happened to it and why it was replaced with this work of art.  I went around this thing four times before I found a door.  (Its a piece of the metal with a latch.)  When opened I found bodies hanging in it with mystical writing on the walls.  I kid, I kid.  It had more bee stuff.  Top to bottom: and it almost made the door almost impossible to open.

Here is what happens to stuff that has no place in a shed, or building. It gets burned.  I keep telling Jon to fish out the heavy bag.  This does explain the mattress springs that are propped up in the Chicken Coop.  Really?  They keep em after they burn em?  For what???

Now that I have brought the ugly out into the light, I can't help but leave you with a little beauty.  Sure it's rough and dangerous, but it's also peaceful....

...and shiny.


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