Jun 042016

2016 Garden Update

Several changes have taken place around the garden and yard this week.  Most were due to a domino effect.

For starters, I can now pull into my own side of a garage, a first in almost a decade.  It gets even better.  I can pull into my own side of a garage using a garage door opener AND without having to drive through mud.  Yes, folks, the driveway width now matches up with the garage we have.

This little update was supposed to happen a few weeks ago.  However, the guy doing it had to delay things a few days while the underground utilities were marked.  Then it came to be planting time.  Where I am, nothing much takes precedent over planting  time if you are a farmer, a family member of a farmer, a friend of a farmer who can drive equipment, or any in any way associated with the farming community.  So we waited.

A call on Tuesday morning changed all that.  By supper time I was able to pull into my garage without having to drive through the ever present mud puddle.  I also no longer needed to use the fairly redneck style of a ramp setup I had in place to get my car over the several inches difference between the ground level and the garage floor.  Oh the issues you run into when updating old parts of a house.

While planning the extension of the driveway, I asked if he would be willing to leave the dirt on site.  Turns out that little question fill a need we both had – I needed just a bit more dirt in low places along the garage and he needed somewhere for the dirt to go.  By keeping it onsite the job also was a bit cheaper and was faster to complete.

With the dirt spread and rain in the forecast, the next morning I knew what my focus would be – spreading grass seed.  This satisfied something my husband has been wanting me to address – the weeds in the yard along the side of the garage.  This is the place where a very deep trench was dug to put in the foundation for the garage part of the house.  With a deep trench comes a lot of dirt to move.  This had been piled along the edge of the trench, thereby killing any grass that had been there.  Over the past few months, the weeds have taken over.

driveway dirt collage

Having the dirt from the driveway spread out in this area meant that I did not need to spend time loosening up the dirt and filling in depressions.  Rain meant that I did not need to spend time every day watering the seed.  So, while it is not the best time of the year to plant grass seed, it was the time I had available unless I wanted to wait several months and let weeds take over.

With grass seed spread, I moved on to getting ride of several buckets of wood chips sitting by the shed.  These were added to the shade garden at the front of the house.

After dumping the buckets I decided to take “a few minutes” to address some issues in this bed – mulch needing spread out, weeds and tree sprouts removed, sticks picked up and stepping stone laid back out.  Amazing how “a few minutes” to finish a gardening task never takes just those few minutes.

With the driveway installed, I no longer worried about leaving the spray painted marks from the utilities.  However, when I went to mow the grass, I found out that my weed eater no longer seems to be working.  Flashbacks of The Great Replacement washed over me.  After a breath or two I calmed down and moved on.  Hand pulling weeds in the worst areas would not be the end of the world.  Also, our edger will take care of the ones along the curb.  A new weed-eater will be in our near future.  These are the things of life that I never envisioned being a part of being an adult.  Sort of like property taxes and insurance.

Time was saved not using the weed-eater, so I spent it instead spraying the weeds that have popped up in the driveway.  I used to pull these by hand, not liking to use chemicals for every little problem I come across.  I may still do so, but wanted to see if I could save time right now by using a spray and perhaps save time later by them not coming back as quickly.

This is a point where my husband and I disagree.  He is all for spraying.  I want to see if I can find other solutions.  It may have to do with our backgrounds, or with various studying/reading I have done over the years, or maybe the difference in how we view our time.  Either way, we have finally come to an unspoken agreement – as long as I do not complain about it, ask him to do it, or leave it so it starts looking really bad, he does not care one way or the other.  Some areas I have succeeded in, others (like the violets in the yard) I have failed at.  I guess we are not all perfect. 😉

blackberry bushes bloom

In other parts of the garden, the onion sets planted last week have sprouted, little tomatoes are beginning to appear and the blackberries are blooming.  The radish seeds have begun sprouting.

My strawberries also have slugs.  Once the rain stops I will try putting a trap out for them.  I did not think they were too bad till I saw The Big Guy.  He was so fat and slimy, he would have covered the finger nail on my pinky finger.  That was the point where I resolved to do something about it, these were not just one or two little guys doing the damage.

strawberry grub collage

I also went gung-ho on trimming up a fairy rose bushes that are in the middle of a side yard.  They have really needed trimming, not exactly a job I jump for joy at though due to all the thorns.  Last month I did a poor job of beginning the trimming, in hope that new side canes would form where I wanted them before I cut off more of the canes where I did not want them.  In the end it only looked bad.  So, I jumped in … well, not literally. Remember, thorns.

rose bush thorns

I did a more aggressive trim this week, also removing a lot of virginia creeper and hackberry sprouts that had been hiding among the canes.  Once it was all cleaned out it looked much better.  Emptier, but better.  A few days later I noticed the roses blooming, so apparently my trim job did not shock it too much. We will see if I think the same thing come the end of summer.




Dec 032015


After a week’s break from painting, I’m back at it.  I think Jack and I were both tired of being apart for so long. Solution?  I set up a video watching station in the closet. 🙂

This actually kills several birds with one stone. 1. I get to preview the videos, to make sure they are still in good shape, before passing them along to someone else.  2. Jack and I are within conversation distance. 3. It does not use up our limited bandwidth. 4. I can make sure he is watching something appropriate. 5. He can do some school work in this setting later.

As for that last one, I think he is tired of the light school schedule I have been giving him – Reading Eggs, Mathseeds, Wild Krats/Super Why/Leap Frog/Mighty Machines videos, and puzzels.  He mentioned it this morning, so we’ll start getting back into the full swing g if things soon.

I called the electrician today, saying we would be ready for them next week.  All the painting won’t be done, but enough that they can come finish their work.

There is still a small pile of woodchips and 3-4 buckets of coffee grounds that need to go on the garden beds. Well, after I clear off the old plants from this past year.

We are expecting warmer weather next week. Once I have the ceilings painted, I am going to take a day to put the garden to bed for the winter.  This step has never been done so late in the year before. On a positive note, it isn’t planting season yet.

Little by little things are getting back to where I want them around the house. There is still a long way to go, but by Spring I hope to be able to focus more on gardening again.  I’m even getting excited about starting seeds, an activity whose idea only produced a feeling of dread and inadequacy last year.

Are you beginning to think of next year’s garden, or still recuperating from this past season?

Jun 052015

highest aspirations quote louisa may alcott

Our days do not have a steady pattern to them.  It is more of a loose fitting routine that this Mama would like to be more structured and dependable.  However, we are imperfect humans who have to live life together.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  Other times we get in the way.  We do our best to reach the end of the day ahead of where we first began.  Sometimes it happens beautifully.  Other times, well, it would have been best to just stay in bed.

A (new) friend of mine recently mentioned that it seemed as if I had it all together.  Once I was done laughing, I assured her I did not and shared a bit of our not so perfect days.

This made me wonder how our life comes across here, in Internet Land.  I can post pretty pictures, descriptions of our latest craft or outing, complete menu plans and large plans for the garden.  I could share all the niceties and leave out all the ‘ugly’, but that would be dishonest.  No one’s life is like that.

So, if you are feeling like a failure, like everyone else has it together, I hope you can take some encouragement from this – no one has it all together, everyone has their struggles.

Or, maybe you are having a great day and just need a laugh.  Go for it.  Looking bad I would love to laugh at all the mistakes I made these past few days.  Give me a few weeks and I just may.


If you were a fly on the wall in our house Tuesday, here is what you would have seen.

5:30 a.m. – my alarm went off.

5:50 a.m. – I finally gout of of bed, got dressed and headed outside to do some yard work.

6:30 a.m. – I came back into the house, found George awake standing in the kitchen (probably wondering why I was not there making breakfast.)  I sent him back to his room to get dressed and make his bed.

6:40 a.m. – George came back, ready to help make muffins for breakfast.  Jack appeared in the kitchen, having just woken up.  When he heard what we were doing, and that he could also help, he headed to his room on his own to get dressed.

7:00 a.m. – The dishes from the night before had been put away, the muffin batter was made and resting.  Each boy got a banana and we headed to get started on our Summer Bridge workbooks.

7:30 a.m. – Workbooks are done.  The boys take a few minutes break while I print off some worksheets for our new math book.

7:40 a.m. – I then introduced our new math book, one that is more inline with Charlotte Mason’s living book philosophy.  It was a hit and the boys had fun doing the new worksheets. (It included a hunt through the house for numbers!)

8:40 a.m. – The kids played in the garage while I finished up drinks for breakfast, then we will sit down to eat.

10:00 a.m. – We finished breakfast, watched YouTube video, brushed teeth and headed outside.  (There was a bit of discipline training that took place, but it was corrected in about 10 minutes, rather than 2 hours.)

10:15 a.m. – Thinking ahead to the afternoon, I invited a mom and her son to join us in playing at the park in the afternoon. Turns out they were able to join us for the morning, too.

12:10 p.m. – Lunch time.

1:00 p.m. – Quiet time, even with a friend visiting. Every boy got some books and found a spot to sit/lay, while the dishes were cleaned.

2:00 p.m. – Paid bill that was due yesterday. 🙁  This is something I almost never do, so I was upset with myself when I realized I had missed the “Due by” date.

2:15 p.m. – We all headed to the park with bikes and scooters.

3:40 p.m. – We left the park to walk home, then drove our friends to their house.  It is quite a walk and her son was tired, but don’t tell him that.  🙂

4:10 p.m. – I turned a movie on for very tired kids. Talked with husband and cleaned up a few things.

5:00 p.m. – I begin cooking supper.

5:40 p.m. – Received a phone call to schedule appointment, so supper was delayed a few more minutes.

5:44 p.m. – Supper is served. This took a bit longer to make, due to being a newer recipe.

6:10 p.m. – The boys and I began their bed time routines – brush teeth, put on PJs, turn on classical music.

6:20 – 7:10 pm. – The boys head to bed at their appointed times.  Dad goes in to talk with the first one to head to bed, then spends time with the remaining one.

7:15 p.m. – I contemplate more yard work, but choose to sit by my husband and watch a movie for a few more minutes.

8:00 p.m. – With the sun still up, one part of summer I like, I head outside to get a bit more yard work finished before tomorrow.  I am hoping to have some wood chips then and want to be ready in case it turns out that way.

9:00 p.m. – Pick up the yard and head inside.  I clean up, warm up a cup of coffee from earlier (decaf, no worries) and sit down to finish watching a movie with my husband.

9:30 p.m. – bed time, expect I fell asleep on the couch.  🙂  It was a long day.

The shade garden in the front yard it coming together one slow step at a time.  I have a goal in mind that I am working towards and know I will get there, one evening at a time.

homeschool planner collage

After such a good day on Tuesday, I was sure we were getting into the groove of things and so had high hopes for Wednesday.  🙂  Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.  I’ll give you a feel for the the day went and leave it at that.

The boys both decided they needed a restroom break at 3:30 a.m., then proceeded to talk together, getting louder and louder.  I separated them, putting one into our room

At 6:00 a.m. they both decided they were no longer tired and wanted to get up.  I felt as if I had not slept all night and told them both to go back to bed.  Whining and loud opposition ensued.

They did not want to get dressed, I was cranky, ignoring of house rules seemed to be the theme of the day, and I just did not have the energy to deal with it.  “Don’t they realize I’m exhausted?  Why can’t they have a little compassion and play quietly?”

I lost my calm temper endless patience and separated them into different rooms … they stood in the doorway of said rooms and played, yelling at each other so they could hear (because that is what you do when you are two feet away from each other).  I was determined (stubborn) to not reward the behavior with t.v. so it did not get turned on.  (That was mistake #50 of the day.)

No school work was accomplished, no beds were made, no crafts were done, very little housework was achieved, and over all it was a failure of a day.

Oh, and in case that does not give you an idea, there was also several bathroom issues, which is something we deal daily with one child, but which gets worse in high stress/andziety situations.  This time, both kids had at least three changes of clothes that day.

Quiet time turned into nap time.  “Oh, they are tired too!  Why didn’t they say something?”  Let me answer that one for you, “because sleep is another (of the many) struggle and they rarely say they are ready for a nap/bedtime.  You should have known instinctively.”

If you are one of those people whose kids basically behave, you probably read the above and wonder what is wrong with my kids.  I would have B.C. (before kids).  I would have judged, all be it quietly, and wondered what kind of parent this person was, “don’t they know how to control their kids?”

In talking with a friend of mine, she admitted that she was exactly that kind of person with her first several, quiet, compliant, fairly easy going kids.  Then she adopted a high energy, sweet, “why sit still when you can run?”, “I’ll obey as long as I agree with it, then apologize as honestly as my little toddler heart allows when I get into trouble, but do it again 10 seconds later” kid.  I love Olaf.  🙂  My friend admitted that it showed her how the Other Side looks and she no longer judges … usually.

We all went to bed that night, wondering “WHY?!?!?” and hoping the next day was not this way.

white oak tree collage

white oak tree

When I woke up on Thursday, it was to a boy coming into my bed at 5 a.m. and not going back to sleep, just doing circles and almost pushing me off the bed.  Looking back, after having a bit of sleep, I should have just gotten up with him, but again I was stubborn, “He WILL go back to sleep.”  Will I ever learn?

Once I did get up, it was a conscious decision that this day would be different, that I would  nip some things in the bud and change my attitude.  So, when I heard the kids running through the house yelling, before I was even out of bed, I sent one back to bed, because:

“If you can not handle being awake, then you need to go back to bed.”  (He was chasing his brother around with a marker, marking up his brother’s legs.)

The other, less offending kid, was told to sit on the couch with a book till I came back.  Then I got dressed, made my bed, and started breakfast.  The less offending kid was made a nicer breakfast by my husband and enjoyed some breakfast time with him.  The Back To Bed kid had a shake with me, though he did come out of his room dressed without me telling him.  I’m pretty sure that was in an effort to get out of the consequence.

The day got moving and I decided to give them an incentive for school work, “If you get done by 9:30, we can go to a yard sale and you can bring some money ($1) to spend.”  We were done at 9:33, but I showed grace.  It only took that long because George decided to do 3 math lessons rather than 1 math lesson and 1 phonics lesson, both of which are done independently.  Glad he got into the math, but I was wondering what was taking him so long and was questioning if having him do a whole lesson was too much.  Seems not.  🙂

Since things were going so well, I texted a friend, inviting her and her kid to join us.  Turns out they were having a day like my Wednesday.  Nothing like a change of scenery, friends and some fresh air to change things, so she agreed.

My kids did not know I had invited our friends over, so it was a complete surprise at the end of the lessons for me to open the front door and invite our friends (who were waiting on the porch) to come in.  We went to a garage sale, looked for a few more in the town over, watched a cartoon/visited, ate lunch and headed to the park.  All the kids cried when they learned they had to say goodbye.  Turns out they were tired from playing, and it was only 3:30 in the afternoon!  This time, I knew better and agreed to some not too bad t.v.  (They learned some new fact from it, so it was not all fluff.)

Jack went to sleep with minimal effort and George followed close behind.  They have both slept through the night.  I however, woke up at 3:30 and couldn’t fall back sleep.  🙂

yellow  purple iris

Moral of the story: You are in control of how you decide to view the day; it will affect how your day goes.  At times, you need to tell yourself to act as if you have energy in order to have energy.  It is okay to use all the tools in your tool box, at times including the t.v./other “bad parenting” one.

So, today, what kind of day are you going to have?  Not how has your day gone so far, but how are you going to choose to view your day?  Personally, I am aiming for a productive day.  After all, I got out of bed at 4 a.m. so there should be plenty of time to do things today.  🙂

Jul 312014

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

My goal for the week was to knock several outside chores off my list.  The list still contains most of the items, but a few have been completed.

One of the items on the list was to get new house numbers.  The ones we have blend in with the color of the house too much to be noticed.  Not being able to see the numbers has been an issue the whole time we have lived here.  I have been putting off getting new numbers because, honestly, I do not want to spend money to do so.

While thinking this over earlier this week I also remembered a can of black spray paint I recently saw in the garage.  “I wonder ….”  A quick search online revealed the steps to paint the numbers a different color and save the cost of having to buy new ones.  I am not sure why it took me so long to think of doing this, as I have done it with other things around the house.  The important thing is I actually thought of it before going to buy new numbers.  Once I finish painting the porch trim I will removed the old numbers, paint them, and put them back up.  I am not sure I will put them in the same place.  We will see what they look like at that time.

Saving money in small ways adds up over time and is something my husband and I have made a habit of trying to do.  Even with our upcoming remodel my husband went through the expected expenditures and found that we would be able to save a couple hundred dollars by printing off documents ourselves rather than having the contractor do so.

kid shredding zucchini

Here are some items I have actually accomplished:

  • Wash the porch floor and railing
  • Painted the outside of the porch railings and most of the pillars
  • Moved random rocks, left by the previous owners, from our backyard to our front yard – these will be used as stepping stones … eventually.
  • Moved an old dehumidifier from the basement to my car’s trunk to recycle.
  • Threw out some old make-up, realizing I have stopped actively removing clutter back in May.  🙁 I need to start that again.
  • Made some DELICIOUS blueberry muffins.  The kids wanted to share these so we took them to several different neighbors.
  • Got eye exams for school taken care of.
  • Took the first step in working with our architect for drawing up plans for the changes we want to make with out house.
  • Realized I probably “weeded” most of my okra plants this past Spring when I tried to do work in the semi-dark.  Next year, they will go into one of the actual garden beds.
  • Requested some gift cards from Swagbucks
  • Found a solution to a problem we have been having with our bed
  • Shredded 46 cups of zucchini
  • Cut corn off of 3 dozen ears of corn and froze
  • Took a morning to go to the playground, and another one to go to an event at our library
  • Took the kids to the hardware store to purchase some items with their own money.  (Apparently being cute helpers at the stand has its perks.  3 different customers told them to either keep the change or intentionally gave them money.)  An hour later and I think the kids had fun and maybe, perhaps, hopefully learned a few financial lessons in the process.  Even if they didn’t, I had fun with them so I am counting it as a good time.
  • Gathered up more seeds from the marigold plants

There are still a few things left on the list:

  • Add netting to the blackberry bushes
  • Paint the inside of the railing on the porch and a missed spot on the ceiling
  • Give a second coat of paint to the outside of the railings
  • Paint the porch floor
  • Touch up missed spots
  • Figure out how to raise the netting over the strawberry plants
  • Purchase items to fix our bed

gathering marigold seeds unlabeled collage

Honestly, I was feeling as if I had not done anything this week.  Seeing it all written out makes me aware that taking things one at a time really did add up this week.

I am done with zucchini, or at least until someone offers me some for free.  Same with corn.  Actually I was just given another dozen today, so I think I’ll modify the menu plan to included grilled corn.

Our local hardware store had tiki torches half off today.  I could have waited for a yard sale, though that would have also meant more of the berries going to birds.  While I will still keep my eyes out for some at yard sales, I went ahead and bought several to get me started.  (If you are not sure what I am talking about, check out the Facebook page.)


Mar 262014

Garden Update 2014

I started this week with the plan to plant several hundred onion bulbs to grow an early crop of green onions.  It didn’t happen, of which I’m very thankful.  We have had several mornings where a hard frost has fallen over night. The birds and squirrels are also much active and my fencing and other deterrent methods are not set up.

I have already lost one of four blackberry canes to hungry rabbits.  Please, let’s not start the gardening season out by decimating what little is out there.  I tried to salvage some of the blackberry canes.  Not only did the rabbits eat the one cane down, they snipped off another cane into two pieces.  After chasing the rabbits away, I put some wire cages around the remaining canes.  In the cage with the really short cane, I stuck the two snipped off pieces down into the dirt in hopes that they would root and start growing.  A girl can always hope.

The only reason I caught the silly rabbit eating the blackberry canes last Saturday, and thereby having any hope of blackberries this year, was because I in the same bed digging up the lilac bush stump.  I need to get this stump out of there if I am to plant the intended peach tree there.  The tree arrived in the mail on the 13th and has been in my basement (cool and dark) every since.  It needs to be in the ground soon.  The stump is only half way dug up.  For a rather empty week we have been busy around here.  However, this really needs to be a higher priority than it has been.

Here are pictures of my seedlings.  I have two grow lights there, but the one is lifted up as it is mainly over the area with the heat mat.  The flats in that area are not ready for light yet.

I will apologize now for the poor quality.  With only the grow light on in an otherwise dark basement and some of the flats next to a white wall, well, the conditions were the best for photo taking.

View of seedling table

I’m planning to divide some of these lettuce plants into other containers.  I put them all into this old margarine container because it was the quickest at the time.

seedlings tomato lettuce basil labeled

With the okra, I had run out of cells but had extra soil and cups, so I used those instead.

Okra seedlings

The flats below are a mix of plants.  I did make a “map” of each so I would know what is what.  Very important when there are about 4 different kinds of tomatoes in there.
Seedlings Round 2 tray 2

Seedlings round 2

Seedlings tomato

Seedlings on heat mat

I have been rotating my seed flats so each gets a chance on the heat mat.  The heat mat was one investment that has really helped.  I have so many more seeds sprout, and quicker, by using it.  If I had a green house, or a warm counter top on which to place my flats, then a heat mat may not be needed.  However, what I have is a cool basement in a cool house.  I is much cheaper to plug in the mat than to raise the whole house by about 10 degrees.

I’ve also been saving milk jugs and plastic drink containers to use in starting my zinna seeds next week.  I need to check with a gardening friend to see if she has any empty cells in which to start spinach, which also needs to be started next week.  The space on my counter with grow lights and the heat bad is basically gone, so I also need to figure out another set up for the next few weeks of seed starting activities.

Mar 152014

Garden Update 2014

This past week has seen me doing very little in the way of gardening.  I was able to take a few minutes here and there to thin out the seedlings I have already started.

So what was I doing instead of gardening?

  • Catching up on over a week’s worth of laundry – something that is possible now that it isn’t 5 degrees outside
  • dental appointments
  • having required home visit for our foster care license
  • finished patching kids’ jeans
  • making the spare bedroom visitor friendly again.  It had become a catch-all room plus a DIY project in progress.
  • making our bedroom visitor and kid friendly (chose to place these visitors here due to the work we are doing in the spare bedroom.  It is very much not kid friendly right now.)
  • making meals for the freezer
  • finding an outfit to wear to court
  • updating my wardrobe (if I was going to toss out clothes I needed enough left to actually have something to wear, by choice I don’t have a lot of clothes – I decluttered 9 shirts)
  • setting up and going to MOPS
  • entertaining 2 different sets of overnight visitors
  • watching a friend’s kid (my kid loved the impromptu play-date and lunch out)
  • going to an all-day conference

Oh, yeah and ADOPTING OUR KIDS!!

I was hoping you all would understand why this just wasn’t the week to be doing a lot of gardening and why my posts have not been my normal schedule.  It has definitely been a full week, and the house looks so much better for it.

picked up bedroom

This upcoming week has a lot more free time, very few required places for me to be or things to accomplish.  I  plan on making the most of it while I can.

Gardening and Home Goals for the week of March 16, 2014:

Call school to inform them this will be the last week in preschool for my youngest.

List all the start dates for the seeds I have.

Start seeds that should already have been started.

Work on removing 2 lilac bush stumps.

Plant peach tree? – I may hold off on this one for another week.

Add mulch to areas around the yard, if the mulch pile is no longer frozen on top.

Declutter 49 items.

Cook and freeze pork roasts in refrigerator.

Create more omelette kits for freezer.

Plant 200 – 300 onion sets – if ground isn’t still frozen.

green onions in raised bed 2I am very ready for the 2014 gardening season.  However, if I don’t start now with my garden jobs, soon it will be an overly busy time and I’ll get behind.  The warmer weather will appear before we know it – though I’m not convinced we are through with snow storms or freezing temperatures.

How are your gardens or garden preparations coming along?

Jan 122014

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

What a long week last week turned out to be.  Being at home for three or four days due to sub zero temperatures, snow and high winds would do that.  In addition, we started off with a brief scare, as our furnace displayed a “Systems Error”, one of which was “Temperature Sensor Out of Range”.  At the time I thought it meant outside temperatures, after all it was -12 degrees Fahrenheit at the time.  After, we cleared the error message, my husband left sort of suddenly to go to work with a co-worker who had a 4×4 truck (his all wheel drive car wasn’t tall enough to make it); apparently the equipment there also wasn’t appreciating the cool weather.

About 15 minutes after he left I realized it was fairly cool in the house. Sure enough, the furnace had turned off!  I couldn’t call my husband back, so I tried to fix it myself.  I had a Plan B of what to do if it didn’t come back on, it is just that Plan A wasn’t a total bust.  I put a call into the heating company but got a message, “If this is an emergency please call one of our technicians at ….”  Two “System Check” runs and about 40 minutes later the furnace came back on and stayed on.  A prayer of thanks ensued seconds later.  

The week ended with a call to our local heating company.  The error message had come back after a few days and we weren’t sure why.  Being several days after the extremely cold weather, I didn’t feel so bad calling them for something that wasn’t an emergency.  The technicians showed up and went to work.  1.5 hours later they knew what the error was, but not what was causing it.  Apparently the “Temperature Sensor Out of Range” was referring to the temperature INSIDE the furnace itself – it was getting too hot.  A blessing at the end of this turned out to the that the technicians didn’t charge us.  I’m not sure if it is because we are repeat customers, because they couldn’t actually find something wrong, or if it was because he didn’t believe that the code will stay away.  So, as for now we wait and see if the error message stays away.  Thankfully it is above freezing for the next few days and we haven’t had any issues.

snow on rose bushes and bird bath

So between having a furnace issues, a few snow days off school, and all the other routine changing things that come along with fun weather I’m surprised I got anything done on my list from last week.  The three goals I didn’t achieve  were all partially accomplished.

Last Week’s Goals:

  1. Get rid of one thing each day (Toss It, Sell It or Give it away) – ongoing
  2. Pick up kitchen each night – trying to form a new habit
  3. Make two vinegar pies
  4. Take basket of goodies to neighbor (check on elderly neighbor)
  5. Read 10 books to the kids
  6. Put empty canning jars away in storage totes
  7. Write book review
  8. Remove one section of wall paper

This upcoming week does not contain inclement weather, at least as far as I know.  We should be back to life as normal.

This Week’s Goals:

  1. Patch ceiling in our bedroom
  2. Patch hole behind kitchen door
  3. Sand down stair way walls
  4. Draw up a garden plan
  5. Write a book review
  6. Declutter 7 items
  7. Plan February’s meal plan
  8. Get up at 5:30 a.m.
  9. Exercise 3 times
  10. Clean stove top and oven

What is on your to-do list his week?

Jan 032014

Matthew 6 26

I really am back from my end of the year “break”.  Yes, I realizing posting something on Monday, then not making an appearance till 4 or 5 days later doesn’t help support the statement.  In my defense, I’ve been doing a lot around her, other things I’ve mentioned wanting to get done this week.  Turns out that those items and life didn’t line up well enough with blogging to make everything happen.  Everything in time.

I’ve been fighting a very negative attitude, aimed at myself, as of late.  Okay, it has been for months.  The start of school should have been nothing different than the past several years of school.  The difference?  Our long-time foster kid started Kindergarten.  My feelings were a complete surprise to me and I wasn’t sure how to handle them at first.  It isn’t like this kid hasn’t been going to school since Day 1.  On the contrary, preschool, more specifically the Early Childhood program, has been a part of our lives since the time this kid moved into our home.  And it isn’t like this is my first round of being the parent of a student.  So what was the issue?

It took a while but I finally came to the conclusion.  The issue was that this kid was going to public school, about which I had no choice in the matter.

Though I am very frustrated that the adoption had taken so long to get moving, I also no longer felt like I was in control.  Now someone else was telling me what to work on at home and when.  I had to follow their plan.  Preschool was focused more on general things – colors, numbers, letter, fine-motor skills, and therapies (speech, developmental, physical, etc.).  These were all aimed at getting the kids ready to be able to function in a public school setting, to catch up to where they needed to be.  It wasn’t your typical preschool and everything was planned to serve multiple functions.  What they did there very much lined up with what we were doing at home.  These two parts of our lives meshed very well.  Now it suddenly changed and I had homework to follow-up with.

School started and I was feeling very negatively towards the school, which then turned toward me feeling like an incompetent mother.  Why is it that I couldn’t find time to do the stuff we used to do?  Why was my kid struggling so much with school work when it used to be fun?  What was I doing wrong?

The gardening season finally came to an end.  I was relieved, hoping this would mark a change.  There would be more time to focus on things here on the home front.  Yeah.  Not quite.

We decided to leave for a few weeks on a vacation to visit family.  This meant that all the items here at the house that I had hoped to do and the new routines I was hoping to iron out had to be put on hold.  “Okay, I’ll enjoy the trip and just deal with everything when we get back.  Besides, this will give me a chance to work with the kids on our own.  Surely they won’t miss too much.”  They didn’t, but they also weren’t always keen on doing “homework worksheets” the teacher sent along.   See, what I didn’t take into account was that we are early risers.


The kids naturally wake up at 6:30 a.m.  Thankfully my husband and I also like getting up early.  What I didn’t think about was that not everyone appreciates those early hours.  To amend my statement then it would be more accurate to say, “…they also weren’t always keen on doing “homework” quietly while we stayed in our bedroom quietly for two hours quietly till it was somewhat decent to wake up the rest of the household, even if it was still early for the rest of the household.”

I came back feeling as if I had failed at showing the teacher that I could do all the stuff needed to keep the Kindergarten student up to date on what should be learned.  Kindergarten.  Right, as if not learning the letter ‘K’ this week meant they would never ever, ever, never learn that letter the rest of their life and fail Calculus as a result. Forget about the fact they had learned the letter ‘K’ the previous two years. Yeah, I know.  But hey, it’s what I was feeling.

I was focused, wrongly, on showing the teacher that I could do just as good of a job as she did, that the student would come back with ALL the worksheets completed.  Unfortunately there was no worksheet showing what was learned on the many day trips we took to see sites and talk about things. (Is there an app for that?) Those things stuck more than any worksheet we did while on vacation.

Once we got back we had 2.5 weeks till Thanksgiving and leaving to visit family for most of a week.  It took most of a week to do laundry and get back into the swing of things.  This was just in time to pack again.  None of the items I wanted to work on around the house happened and I was feeling more behind and more like a failure for not doing those things.  My husband would make comments about this or that needing done, ask why I hadn’t done this item or that when I said I would, mention how we just have so much stuff around, etc.  I know he didn’t mean for it to come across as critical, but I took it all in as proof that I was failing.

Then December came and I was sure I would get back on track.  Or at least the track I thought I should be on.  Yeah.  Nope, didn’t happen.  I decided that I needed to get into the habit of picking up the house before starting anything beyond simple housework.  It seemed to happen every day, something to make even keeping the house picked up impossible.  Sometimes though it was a good thing and I didn’t let the guilt get to me.  If a kid wanted to sit on my lab and listen to Bible stories and folk songs then I am very  happy to comply.  We can have sandwiches for lunch for all I care at those moments.  

All the things I wanted to get done before staring a big project in January weren’t getting completed.  These were all ‘small things’ that wouldn’t take long to do, except there were several of them.  I wanted these items completed before moving on and disrupting our household more with a larger project.  The closer Christmas got the worse I was feeling, which really did not contribute to a productive attitude.  Then I realized there were only two weeks till Christmas and I hadn’t completed all the gift shopping I had hope to do.  COMPLETE FAILURE.  I was pretty sure this was stamped on my forehead for everyone to see.

Let’s just say the days away for Christmas were not exactly restful and encouraging.  I couldn’t wait to get back home.  There are stresses enough in my life that I don’t need to try and behave perfectly (including keeping my kids quiet, see above on that one) to decrease the stress in someone else’s.  I guess I kept my cool enough that my husband was surprised when I spoke up about my feelings on the way home.  He had no clue to the undercurrents that were happening.

Okay, NOW I could get on track.  Except I was so down at this point I couldn’t do anything. Even seeing everyone’s end to the year summary posts and goals for the new year made me feel guilty, lazy, incapable, and all around like I was amounting to nothing and never would.

Worm Composting and Composting Ideas ebook

I read.  And read some more.  In my free time I read.  Basically I escaped.  Guilt, frustrations, selfishness, unrealistic expectations, would appear when that book ended, and the one after that; I realized I had to do something. “The New Year, when it starts then I’ll do what I planned.  That’s it.  In 3 days I’ll start.”  That lasted all of a day, thankfully, before my brain reminded me of something.

Start Today! Do something now. A little each day will add up to something big.”  And that is exactly what I have been doing every day since.  Combating the small voice in my head whispering horrible nothings into my ear.  “I’M NOT LISTENING! La-la-la-la-la.  I can’t hear you.”

One of the items I wanted to do in the new year was to clear out the items in my house that we don’t use or need anymore.  How?  1 item at a time, 1 day at a time.  Even if all I did was throw away, give away or sell 1 item everyday that would mean 365 fewer things in my house by the end of the year.  If I did more than that each day, great.  If I skipped a day, then that was fine.  There was bound to be a day that I threw away, gave away or sold more than 1 item to make up for it.

Progress – I have 1 item sell pending, a stack of fewer shirts, 20+ books listed for sale, a box of clothes in the yard sale pile, 5 mostly empty gallons of paint drying outside drying waiting for trash day next week and multiple things in the trash.  Not bad for 7 days worth of the 1 item per day goal.

Here is what I have found – it is getting easier.  Yes, I still have those negative thoughts.  I still let things get to me, but I’m slowly coming out of this ditch I’m in.  I may not be able to take a week off to work on the house without also needing to cook and do laundry, but those little things every day are starting to show.

I took an hour yesterday to organize our extra clothes.  They used to be a pain to get to, so I had moved them to a convenient location.  So convenient actually that it was easy to just toss the outgrown clothes and newly acquired clothes right on top of the boxes.  Well, that is till the pile became too precarious, so I grabbed an empty tote and started tossing them in there.  This quickly became a huge mess right at the bottom of the basement stairs.  It screamed “FAILURE” every time I saw it, which I did several times a week.  While I could have used the two hours it took to sort through these clothes and shoes on something a bit more visible to our daily lives, I count it as extremely productive.  Now when I walk by it I feel in charge and hopeful that the rest of the house will be that way too soon, if I just keep going.

Psalm 19 14

This morning when my husband walked into a basically unused room of our house, where I had wrapped Christmas gifts and decorations were in the process of being put away.  He said, “We could never move, we have too much stuff.  This house is a mess.”  I replied, “I don’t want to hear you mention that again.  I told you I am doing one thing a day, but every time you say that I feel further behind and like not doing anything.  I know we have too much stuff and I’m dealing with it 1 thing every day, so please don’t say that again.”

I felt so much better.  For months I’ve been trying to think of how to say that very thing.  How is he to know what I am feeling if I don’t say it?  How can I get aggravated at someone making me feel bad if they don’t even know they are doing it?  The key was doing it at the appropriate time and in a nice way.  This was it.

Every year starts off with the feeling that anything is possible, and it is.  What is NOT possible is doing everything.

I think this is where I got stuck.  I was trying to do everything, expecting myself to be able to do it.  When I found myself coming up short, whether real or perceived, I began the slow descent of negative thoughts which only further inhibited my ability to do anything.

Where does this leave me?  Reevaluating what I want life to look like in the upcoming year, season, month and week.  At some point in the future I am going to share what those things are, but first I am going to work them out in my head.  I want to make sure I don’t set myself up for failure. Again.  Like I seem to do so often.

For now, I am going to go find some pictures to post next week.  Then at least you will have something nice to look at, and my guilt will be lessened, if I get too wrapped up in finding things to clean out of the house.

Dec 152013

snow on trees

Yesterday I got a day of relaxing, for the most part.  It was the first day in 2 weeks that I felt like I had nothing to do.  That was mainly due to the snow we got.  Early last week they were calling for a 30%-40% chance of snow.  Thursday of last week they said, “1 inch on Saturday”. Saturday morning I woke up to what was obviously more than 1 inch.

Our plans for they day involved two things, both in Big Town about 40 minutes away, once you factor in traffic to reach our destinations.  The first was a visit with our foster kids’ sibling at 10 a.m.  Then a 2 p.m. our church was having a function for kids and adults – the adult were able to drop off their kids for a few hours to go shopping or on a date, then come back later for a meal the kids had prepared.  Knowing driving was going to be slower than normal I started shoveling out the driveway at 7 a.m.  (Why me and not my husband?  Well, he was already making breakfast and I was NOT going to interrupt him doing that.  It involved fresh baked croissants.)  Though I didn’t take the time to actually measure it, I’m sure it was in the 6-12 inch range.  Maybe more like 8 or 10 inches.  About 1.5 hours later I had finished the driveway and most of the sidewalks when my husband came to relieve me.  It was my turn for breakfast.

snow on rose bushes and bird bathThe photo above was from last winter.  The snow we had this time was not quite as deep, though close to it.

My sweet husband had make breakfast, dressed the kids and allowed me 1.5 hours of mainly quiet thinking.  It was a pretty good start to the day.  When I came inside I called the other foster mom to make sure we were still on.  She obviously had a different level of comfort with driving in the snow than I did.  Besides that, they  hadn’t plowed the streets where she was and she hadn’t shoveled out her drive yet.  Okay, so that was to be rescheduled.  While on the phone with her a call from church came in, the activity was being reschedule for possibly Sunday, though “more details will be available during morning services.”  Now, my day away from home had turned into a day at home with no where we had to be.  I pulled out a book and sat down to eat my eggs, croissant, and hot tea with no rush to be anywhere or do anything.  After two weeks of this or that needing to be done right now, it was great.

In the end, the kids watched more t.v. than I normally allow, the sidewalks were shoveled a second time (it was still snowing when we did it the first time) while the kids played in the snow, I read some of a book and played a game on my new phone.  Lunch and supper plans were put together as I hadn’t planned anything at all except “Eat out” and “Eat at church” which were no longer valid options.  Well, we could have eaten out, but that seemed silly as we were going to be at home all day. Homemade tomato soup and corn bread made up a very delicious lunch, followed by homemade pizza for supper.  Having some staples in the house made what could have been a source of stress into a non-issue.

Carrot Bread and Winter Spice tea

So, what have I been doing these past few weeks to make things so busy?

  • Took advantage of the 2 days with temperatures above 50 degrees to paint the porch, with a day at the beginning to scrap off some loose paint.  I didn’t get all of the painting done, but made significant progress.  When spring comes I have just over half of the railing, the edges where the wall meets the floor and a second coat on the floor to finish.  Now that I know what I’m doing, it should just take a few hours.  My main goal was to get a coat of paint on the floor to cover exposed wood before it snowed.  It snowed the day after I finished.  🙂
  • Because of the Thanksgiving holiday I had a planning meeting rescheduled for the first week of Decemeber.  This meeting alone took up most of a morning.
  • I cleaned the house up from being gone for Thanksgiving and so we could have a last minute birthday party.  Several cakes were baked, furniture moved and a strategic survey and selection of toys for the playroom made.  What may work for a few kids won’t necessarily work when you add 10 more.
  • We had a last minute birthday party with kids from school.  The kids’ whole families were invited, which most accepted.  This made for 20-30 people coming over.  In years past I haven’t made quiet enough cake for everyone.  This year, I didn’t make that mistake.  After sending cake home with a few people, we were still eating leftover cake as dessert for a week.
  • Monday of last week was a snow day.  The change in schedule really threw one of my kids off, behavior wise, making it a not-so-fun day here at home.  It wasn’t as productive as I had hoped.
  • On Tuesday of this past week I invited several ladies, and their kids, over for breakfast of muffins and biscotti.  It turned out to be a nice morning – the kids played well together while the adults got to socialize.  Those I invited mostly didn’t know each other, so it was fun to see conversations taking place.  I want to do this again next month, focusing just on muffins as the food though.  It is easy to plan for, as muffins can be frozen then taken back out the night before.
  • Wednesday of last week we then had a morning of set up, followed by a morning of the actual event on Thursday. This is what the planning meeting the week before had been for.
  • Friday I took my car to the mechanic.  I’ll get it back the middle of next week.

Once I had the house picked up, I decided to take time each day to get it back to that state. A good habit to get into, don’t you thing?  At first this was easy.  After several days though, I started to notice little things slipping.  Sometimes it is a decision between sitting an listening to fun music with a kid in your lap and getting up to sweep the floors. Other times it was just because a bad habit showed itself (putting dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher, sitting an item down instead of putting it away immediately, etc.) My most productive part of the day is the mornings, which is when all the kids are at home wanting attention.  I think I need to work on the little thing called self-discipline to get up and do the housework in the afternoon.  Otherwise I’m just whining.  Hm.  Don’t I tell the kids to, “Stop whining and just do it.  You’ve wasted more time whining about it than it would have taken to do it.”  No, surely I don’t ever say anything like that.


My meal plan, which I didn’t post, reflected all of this.  Pre-made meals in the freezer which were warmed up in the crock pot were the plan those days.  The day of the actual event I unashamedly told my husband we were eating out for lunch.  Subway has a good deal on $2 subs right now which I planned to take advantage of.  At first I felt guilty, then remembered that my husband has said in the past that he would rather do that than come home to a crazy household and a stressed wife.  We don’t order out often, so this hasn’t been a habit, I’ve tried instead to plan our meals ahead (pre-made meals in the freezer, using the crock pot, etc.), or else he may have a different opinion of this.

This week is a bit different than week’s past, for which I am thankful.  Without a car, or at least one to myself, I will not be able to go out as easily.  Yippee!  For this I really am thankful.  There are two things this week for which it may be nice to have had a car, but for which I can easily make other arrangements.  The meal plan for the week is already made and contains mainly ingredients we have here at home.  Stuff for salads can be picked up today after church, otherwise I don’t need anything.

Here are the items I plan to work on:

  1. Pick up the house – declutter by filling another box with items to get rid of, put misplaced items away, sweep several times
  2. Put out the rest of the Christmas decorations – right now we have stocking out and a holder for Christmas cards we receive.
  3. Finish Christmas shopping (after all Christmas is next week).
  4. Go through photos I’ve taken for the blog and see what I haven’t shared. (This is low on the list, and something I’ll be working on till it gets completed.)

That’s it.  I’m pretty sure other things will pop up, so I’m going to keep my “must do” list pretty short.  I’m very tempted to look through seeds I have and begin planning the garden for next year, but am trying to hold off on this till after Christmas.  February will find me seed starting, so it isn’t too far off.  Seems as though we just ended the season.  So much to do and so little time.  For now, I’m going to have some muffins (from the freezer) and coffee, admire the snow covered landscape outside and leave on time (i.e. early due to snow) for church.

Have a great day everyone.


Nov 172013

Weekly Goals collage May 2013

Last Week’s goals:

  1. Add a pull chain to our living room fan
  2. Add something to kids’ dresser so it doesn’t make a loud noise when closing
  3. Hang bird feed
  4. Install gutter guards
  5. Remove fence from around garden
  6. Pull up dead tomato plants and store trestles
  7. Mulch leaves
  8. Clear off kitchen shelf
  9. Prepare for a birthday party this coming weekend (it is a last minute decision so I’m keeping it as simple as I can considering we are actually inviting more than just family and family friends)
  10. Read through 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life in preparation for starting the challenge next week.

Menards had a great deal on gutter guards last week.  Since I was in Big Town at the beginning of the week I picked up a couple to take home and see if they would fit.  They did.  When I went back last night the store was out of the white colored ones.  I was able to order them, but will have to wait a week or two for the rest to come in.

As for the leaves, well, I decided it would be a great thing for the kids to play in outside at the end of the birthday party.  They had a lot of fun having leaf fights, throwing arm fulls of leaves at each other.  Update: we had very strong, constant winds last night … most of the leaves blew away.  🙂


This Week’s Goals:

  1. Begin working my way through 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life
  2. Mulch leaves
  3. Trim and remove tree limbs
  4. Send Thank You cards from birthday party

While working through the book, 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life, I hope to get things back in order while working on a larger project.  There will be a few days taken for Thanksgiving, but otherwise I hope to work my way through with few delays.  I would love it if you would join me. After considering the intent of this goal this morning I realized that I would be rushing into going through, trying to make it fit and becoming stressed out in the process.  Though I don’t really want to be starting this in December, it really would be a better time to do this.  

storage totes in basement

What better way to bring 2013 to a close than with setting yourself up for a more discipline life in 2014?  With that in mind, I’m going to wait a week and a half and begin working through the book on December 1st.  In the mean time here is what I am going to be thinking through:

  • What large goal do I want to work on?
  • How am I going to get there?
  • Are there smaller goals I also want to accomplish?
  • What needs to be done do I can focus on working on those goal? (Do I need to finish a current project so I can move on to the next thing?  Do I need to menu plan so I don’t have to think about it later?  Do I need to finish my Christmas shopping?)

I’m not going to stress myself out by saying “I am going to post every day with 10 gazillion pictures of my progress”, because life might happen and then I’ll feel guilty for not having told the truth.  What I am going to do is designate Tuesdays and Fridays as update days.  That is when I am going to post my progress and invite you to do the same.  It will be a great opportunity to encourage one another.


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