Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I feel like I should post. It's been quite a while since I've had a real post, but really - I've got nothin'.
We're still waiting for it to rain. We had about two weeks of temps in the low-mid 80s, and it rained two good rains in that time, but..... We've still had probably less than 2 inches in 2 months - and that included 20 some days of temps over 100. So it's still really dry. There is a crack in our yard that's probably 4 inches wide and over a foot deep. (There's lots of cracks all over, but that one is really crazy.)
Next week is vacation! We're going on our first "real" family vacation. Every trip we've been on since we've been married has been either with family or to see family (with the exception of a weekend in Branson and our overnight trip to Omaha that were just Paul and I). We're still going to see family - we're spending a few days with Paul's grandpa in Fort Collins, but we're also going to Colorado Springs to the zoo, to see friends in South Dakota, and to a farm show in Nebraska. (The last one I'm not totally psyched about, but there are three others who are, so I guess I'm outnumbered.) I'm sure we'll be exhausted and ready for another vacation (the stay-at-home, stay-in-bed kind) once we get back, but I know we'll make lots of memories.
I've really been making a concentrated effort to keep up on the house the last couple weeks. It started with a talk with my husband about helping out in the kitchen. He hates doing dishes (although he does them on occasion), and I try to respect that and not make him do something I know he dislikes. But over the last couple months (since Jacob has been eating well), I've realized - I hate dishes too. The kitchen is seriously the last room in the house I want to tackle (probably because no matter how long you spend on it, it can be destroyed again in a matter of hours). But it's also the room in the house that I feel best about myself when it's clean. Is that weird? So I explained this to Paul. I told him that since I almost always am the one that does all the other cleaning, the laundry, and the cooking, I would like him and the boys to step up and help out after every meal - everyone else eats, so everyone else should help clean up. So he and the boys (mostly just Nathan) unload the dishwasher and clear off the table while I focus on tidying up the counters and washing the pans I used to cook. We can get everything done in 10 minutes usually. Ever heard the term "happy wife, happy life"? Yeah, it's true. And the weird thing is that the rest of the house is cleaner! I guess since I'm spending less time in the kitchen, I spend more time everywhere else.
Part of it is expecting more from the boys. They are almost 4 and 2, and they are more than capable of cleaning up after themselves. I've always thought that children will only live up to your expectations (this applies to all areas - potty training, behaving in public, etc). If you treat them like they're not capable, they won't. If you don't ask/tell them to do it because they don't do as perfect of a job as you, they'll never learn. We're getting there on the toys. Now I just need to teach them how to clean up after themselves in the bathroom.........


We're reading through Acts in our family Bible time. After reading yet again of the Jews inciting a riot and/or trying to kill the Apostle Paul, my Paul says,

They were such drama queens.


"Ssssssssss. Sssssssssss. Sssssssssss." (Jacob is scooting on his belly across the linoleum.)
"What's that sound? What's crawling across my floor?"
" 'Nake!"
"A snake!? What's a snake say?"
"Sssssssssss. Ssssssssss. Sssssssssss. Bite!"

At least this snake warns you before he bites your leg.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

No-Dry July

First off, I am well aware that it is nearly the end of August, and I'm posting something about July.
I'll explain....

My husband gave me the best Mother's Day present ever this year. He built me a clothesline. Even though I nagged him all last fall that mine needed replaced (we had to tear ours out a year ago when we replaced the cellar), I hadn't started up again on the nagging once spring rolled around. He came up with the idea on his own to build it for me. (And I can't remember what it cost - I want to say $30? Maybe $50? Basically 3 4x4 posts, 2 bags of QuickCrete, plastic-coated wire, and some eye-bolts.)
Here he is, finishing it up before church on Mother's Day. With his helpers.

We had to drop a huge chunk of cash to replace our air conditioner in May. Then it got hot. Really hot. I was really stressing about how to cut back on energy use so that we could afford for the a/c to be running constantly like it was (even set at 78!). So I became the light Nazi, turned off the computer after I checked email in the morning, and didn't let the TV be on that much (have you noticed how warm a TV can get?).
And I decided to not run the dryer.
I actually decided in early June that I wanted to try to go until July without running the dryer.
Well, hubby was helpful one day mid-June when I was busy (I think it was one of the 3 garage sale weekends we did), and did all the laundry using the dryer. So I started over, challenging myself to get to the end of July without using the dryer. I even came up with a clever name for my challenge: No-Dry July. Which isn't quite right, because I was drying the clothes, just not in the dryer. I just thought No-Dry July sounded better than No-Dryer July....er.
It's now nearly the end of August, and I can victoriously say - I have not used the dryer since mid-June. Well.... Correction - I did use it for 10 minutes one Sunday morning to de-wrinkle the boys' shirts since there was NO WAY I was going to actually iron them.
I have learned some things along the way.
I always hang shirts by the tails now, instead of the shoulders. Our old clothesline had one line of copper wire, which reacted with something in the wet laundry (unfortunately, we didn't realize it was copper until after this fact). I ruined one of Paul's favorite t-shirts, which now has a line across the back from one shoulder to the other. (It looks like a perfectly drawn line of bleaching.) Several of his shirts got it, but that's the only one that mattered. So I started hanging the shirts by the tails - to avoid that problem, but also so you don't get the weird pulled, wrinkled, bunched place where the clothespins were. Paul always tucks his shirts in, and even though I don't you don't notice it nearly as much when it's on your hips than on your shoulders.
Also, I hang underwear differently now. Growing up, I always hated hanging our underwear on the line, because anyone and everyone driving by can see exactly what size, style, and color of underpants you wear. So embarrassing.
Except when it's these teeny tiny underpants. Then it's really cute.
(And do you see the shirt on the left? That's what I mean when I say I "hang them by the tail.")

So I started hanging the underwear by one side, with one clothespin. They dangle down, and you can't really tell what they are.

Not a great picture, but that's the point! You can't tell what they are

Socks have been the killer. I hate socks. HATE them. (I may or may not have avoided sorting socks for 6 whole weeks once.....) I sort them as I take them out of the washer and hang them up in pairs - so there is a great thing about it..... When I take them off the line, they are already paired up and all you have to do is fold them together.
That doesn't do anything about the rest of the laundry, though.....
(I'm OCD, and can't fold clothes neatly at the line, so I don't bother. I bring them inside, where there's no wind to fight, and a work surface that I can lay them flat on.) (Oh, and the OCD continues.... I can't just hang the clothes on the line..... All the shorts have to be together, t-shirts together, washcloths, big towels, etc. I don't just arbitrarily hang them. It's gotta look neat and organized, folks!)
Anyhow. That's my economical victory for the summer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Daddy's at Work.

I do kind of like my husband's weird work schedule (work 2 days, off 2, work 3 nights, off 2, work 2 days, off 3......), because it gives weekdays with him at home. Not weekends, where it's run, run, run - birthday parties, family gatherings, church, etc. We can go places on weekdays, when it's not crowded.
But there are some advantages of Paul being at work:
"Boys, you want eggs for lunch?"

Monday, August 15, 2011


We went from sweltering, 105+ degree days, to fall-is-practically-here weather seemingly overnight. Remember this post? Yeah, well.... Not even kidding, two days after I posted this, it rained and cooled off, and it's been in the mid-80s pretty much every day since then. It's amazing! The weather is perfect! When I step outside, I still find myself holding my breath, waiting for that suck-the-life-out-of-you blast of heat, but then..... AHHHH. It's just gorgeous. (Have I said it enough? Do you believe me yet?)
So of course, I've been kicking the boys outside to run, play, and all those things that they couldn't do for a month when I kept them cloistered inside to avoid a heat stroke.
And what have I been doing? SPRING CLEANING!
Seriously. It's the same concept. I've been stuck in the house all summer (okay, a month), and things have been grating at me. I'm doing small projects here and there. De-cluttering. Rearranging. Centering a picture on the dining room wall that I've had hung off-center for well over a year now (Not my fault - the stud was off center!). Working on converting the dining room into the school room.
That last project is a tough one for me. We're planning on home-schooling (starting with preschool this fall), and we don't have a separate room to use just for school. So we're going to do it in the room that makes sense: the dining room. I'm trying to make it functional for school, but I still want it to look like a dining room (pretty). I think one wall will be "schoolroom" and the rest will stay the way it is (for now). I've got a set of shelves with Nathan's preschool books, our Children's Britannica set, and markers, crayons, etc, on them. We mounted a chalkboard on the door. I've got a world map I'd like to hang up, but it's too wide for any wall except the one holding a picture I love (the one that's been off center for over a year, that's not any more :) ). So I'm trying to figure out what to do. But I really want to get the map hung up, because......
My little sister moved to Africa! She left August 1 to join the Peace Corps for a two-year assignment in Zambia. She'll be setting up and teaching the natives how to operate fish farms. So Nathan is suddenly very interested in Africa, and where it is. I think he's just starting to grasp the idea of distances. When I show him a map of Africa, he asks, "And where are we live?"
Seriously, I'm going to miss Carlsie. She's lived several hours away from home for 6 years now, but it's one thing to be a couple hours away - another to be a couple days away. The plane ride from New York to South Africa was 15 hours. She is frustrated with the complete lack of organization and initiative of what she's seen of the Peace Corps so far. It sounds like a lot of people use it as a government-sponsored vacation. (And we wonder why our country is so grossly in debt???)
My crafty projects are kind of on hold..... I'm not exactly positive what color I want to paint the coffee tables. (Yes tableS. There are two now.) I spray painted my tacky brass lamp, and I L-O-V-E how it turned out, but I'm trying to find the perfect lampshade. I just am not willing to part with $25 for something I don't love. (I may custom-cover a lamp shade, but I want to make sure that I can't buy one for the same price I spend of fabric and materials..... I just need to get up to the city for some shopping. Sometime.....)
In other news, since I'm actually posting......
Jacob is has so many words now! They aren't perfect, but they are recognizable. He uses "d" and "b" sounds to start most of his words (dat for cat, dlock for clock, etc), but we're getting there. I think he's really enjoying that we can understand him more and more.
Nathan started violin lessons a couple months ago. Did I mention that? He is still so very young (not 4 yet), and I have no need for him to be viewed as a child prodigy, so we aren't pushing it a lot. (I want him to enjoy playing the violin, not be some little performing robot.) Paul and I are giving him lessons ourselves, and we have three different areas we focus on: posture (holding the violin), rhythm (imitating a rhythm we clap), and theory (flashcards). We probably only spend 10 or 15 minutes on it, and may not do all three things. We want to keep it enjoyable. We've already had several fights about it. The protests were all because of "Mommy says I have to do this, therefore I WILL NOT do it!!"
Anyhow. I've got 4 pounds of beef jerky to take care of, and another 5 to make, so..... I'd better get on it. Not to mention that pile of laundry..... Bleh.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

.....And the Dresser, Too!

I finally finished the dresser this week (the one I was painting to match the desk). When I was painting the desk, it was so hot and dry that by the time I finished the one side of the writing surface, the other side was already dry, and I couldn't smooth out the brush strokes. The dresser was even bigger than that, so I decided it would be wise to wait for cooler weather.
We finally got some rain Sunday night and Monday, and it cooled down (it was "only" 90!) and the humidity was up, so I got to painting. The drawers were already finished (I did them when I did the desk), so it didn't take me long.

I forgot to take a true "before" picture, and I'd already started the work when I remembered to take this.
Ugly, huh? (I really don't like veneer. That's what the desk was, too.)

But it's really nice and solid, which is why I wanted to keep it. You don't see drawers like this on anything made today:

The old drawer pulls were one-hole pulls, but they looked like a handle that should have two holes. As a result, the pulls had started to spin and etch the wood as they loosened.

I knew I wanted bar pulls to match the desks, so I filled in the single hole, and drilled new holes. Not as simple as it sounds, folks.
First, you have to fill the hole. This requires hammering a piece of 1/4" dowel (about 1/4" inch long) into the hole. Good luck not hammering your fingers!
(I forgot to take my camera out to the shed for, and was too lazy to walk back inside to get it, so you have to deal with horrible-quality phone-camera pics.)

Then spackle, sand, spackle, sand. Prime, prime, and finally......
Find out that your little "helpers" had decided this drawer needed "fixed" and had hammered the crap out of it when you weren't paying attention. At first I was really upset - I had worked hard to fill in all the nicks and dings! But then I realized - it's a child's dresser. If they're going to use it, it's bound to get more of these along the way.
Sigh. Oh well. Slap on that blue paint!
(The handprint was after it was long after it was dry, or I would have had a conniption!)

Then comes the nerve-wracking part. Originally, I thought measuring and drilling a few holes? No problem.
(oops. forgot to turn the pic before uploading!)

Um, yeah.
First off, the drawers are 7 27/32" deep. What is halfway of that, pray tell? I rounded to 3 7/8", which is pretty darn close. But when it's not exactly middle, you need to remember to always measure from the same side (top or bottom) of the drawer. Or else you have one end of the handle slightly higher than the other.
Please tell me you can't even notice!

But in the end, I'm very happy with it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

You know it's hot when.....

  • You're excited for the big cooldown over the weekend - it will be 20 degrees cooler than earlier in the week.... but it will still be in the mid-90s.
  • You have a brand on your arm from the black trim on the car door.
  • The water coming out the tap is slightly warmer than lukewarm.
  • Your kids have cabin fever - from hiding out indoors to avoid the heat.
  • The hydrant handle is almost too hot to touch, and it's in the shade!
  • Your 3-year-old son says, after 5 minutes in the pool (which is in the shade), "Mommy, it's too hot to swim."
Seriously. I hate to complain about God's plan, but.... I'm tired of this weather. To give you a summary, this is from the National Weather Service in Topeka about our weather last month:


And where we live, we've had even less rain than that. We had 1/3 inch around July 4th, then another 1/3" a few weeks later. A couple other times, we've had "teaser rains" - enough to wet the deck and the rain gauge, but not really even enough to settle the dust. I asked Paul several times, "How many times does the rain have to completely dissipate or split and go around us before we figure out God's trying to tell us something?"
And not included in the above report is the temperatures from this week. Tuesday's high - actual temperature - was 115.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Desk is Done!

I finally finished up the desk today. It was pretty much finished by last weekend, but I was just waiting on the hardware. I'd tried some pulls from our local hardware store, but not only were they too big for the little desk (top is only like 20x35" - guesstimate), they were going to be $90!!! I thought I wanted cup pulls, but they didn't look right and were way too big for the tiny drawers. So I ordered what I needed from Home Depot, got free shipping, and only spent $30.
(This still sounds like a lot, but they are for the little desk, plus a 4-drawer dresser I'm painting to match - pictures later, when I finish it up. It's too hot to paint [100+], and the paint was literally drying instantly.)
While I was waiting for the hardware to get here, and feeding my obsession with Thrifty Decor Chick back posts, I ran into a link to Young & Crafty, and her Table Desk. (Click on the link to see pictures.) I fell in LOVE with the border she painted on the tabletop, and decided I HAD to do that to my (ahem... Nathan's) desk.
Lots of painters tape, 4 coats of paint on the border, and newly arrived hardware, and we have the finished product.....

I really think the border made the desk. But I was seriously stressing about it. Like, waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it.

With the painting tape on... Will it work?

Holding my breath.... Taking the tape off......

I am in LOVE. LOVE. LOVE!!!!

Weird angle, but better view of the border.
(Can you see my goofs?)

Another favorite transformation of mine.... Notice in the "before" picture below, the deep bottom drawer was one of those fake "two drawer" drawers? (Why do so many desks and kitchens have those???) Well, I sanded the crap out of that thing, and spackled, and sanded some more..... And I got rid of the line that made it look like two drawers. I love it this way - more modern, maybe? More classic?
And you can't even tell that it used to have a strip of wood to make it look like two drawers.

So again..... Before:
And after:

Total cost:
Desk - free!
Primer, Sandpaper, Paintbrushes - $15
White Paint - on hand
Blue Paint - $15
Painters Tape - $6
Drawer Pulls - $10
But when you divide out what I still have left and can use for other projects, the actual cost was probably more like around $25.
I tell you. I have unleashed a monster! It's like my eyes have been opened, and I'm seeing all these totally easy projects I could do. Projects I'm also working on/have on hand: the aforementioned dresser, a coffee table, a lamp, and a reading nook for the boys. More on those later.....