Sunday, October 30, 2011

Planning the Trip

Justin started college when our oldest was seven and our then youngest was just a few weeks old (we've grown since then).  It wasn't the time to go to Disneyland.  We have been promising the children for all those years that we would go when Dad graduates from school.

In our matching Mickey shirts.  I'm on the left, in front of my Mom.

When I was eight years old, my parents took our family to Disneyland.  We each saved for a year so we could go.  Instead of a straight drive down and back (from the northern border of the US to the southern), my parents planned a loop for us.  We went to many of the National Parks (Redwoods, Zion), visited national symbols (Golden Gate Bridge, Salt Lake Temple) and saw natural features outside our familiar home-base habitat (desert, Great Salt Lake).  It was two weeks of exploring many of the Western States of our great country.  Needless so say, it was the trip of a lifetime.  Disneyland was the pinnacle, but the rest was awesome.

Flying seven people to California, renting a car for while we are there, and sleeping in a hotel the whole time would be more expensive than us taking a longer car trip (and spending most nights in a tent).  So, with a few exceptions, we will be repeating the epic journey of my childhood.

I have just begun planning for this trip.  There is so. much. to think about!  I know many of you are travelers and I have lots of questions.  For the next little while, keep your eye on my sidebars.  I am going to have regular polls with some of those questions.

First up?  Should we visit Death Valley?  It would add about three hours to our trip.  I've never been there and it looks cool to me.  Have you been there?  Do you think it is interesting?  We would be going at the beginning of May, so we are to expect temperatures in the high 90's, but we would try to arrive in the evening and we would leave before it gets too hot (May = longer days).  Feel free to add comments if you have something to add, but don't forget to vote.

Thanks, dears!

The MotherShip

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Tonight was my girl's first piano recital.  It was a Halloween theme so the students picked a song to match their costumes.  She played Home on the Range and did a superb job, especially considering she has only had four lessons!  There were going to be several cowgirls, so she went with scarecrow.

Joette asked me to sing a couple of songs with her.  Since all of the performers were dressing up, I decided I would look silly if I didn't!

 Sorry about the fuzzy picture.

A little Mary Poppins action.  Can't wait until Monday when we add an angel, Peter Pan, a Doctor and Dorothy!  Have a great weekend.

Friday, October 28, 2011


We were dancing in the kitchen tonight.  I think it was the new floor.  Maybe it wasn't such a waste of money after all!  Anyway, Justin was playing random songs from our childhood (apparently I know every word to Bon Jovi's Bad Medicine) and the girls and I were dancing.  I am really no good, but it is fun and has managed to help keep me thinnish all these years.  

Looking around at my laughing little beauties, my heart felt that familiar wrench:
Our son wasn't there.

There are some days when I really hate ballet.  I feel robbed, cheated, ripped off.  I was supposed to get at least eighteen years with him.  I'm sure this feeling is compounded by the loss of our baby Eowyn earlier this year, but that doesn't lessen its magnitude for me.  I just want him home.  I want him picking on his sisters and drinking all of my eggnog.  I want him alternately rolling his eyes at me and laughing with me.  It's those little things that don't translate well on Skype or over the phone.

And isn't it always about those little things?

The Kitchen Floor

Have you ever had buyer's remorse?  Have you ever had buyer's remorse before you even bought the thing?  I had that experience two days ago.  Here is the story.

You all know that I am a lousy housekeeper.  I work at it, but I would much rather tackle the bigger projects like building an outdoor fireplace.  Floors offer their own special challenge.  The kitchen floor in our mobile home was carpet.  Not only is carpet in the kitchen difficult to keep clean, but when you add that the said carpet was CREAM colored, you will understand why this was a serious problem.  I could not keep that thing clean.  I know many of you would have done a fabulous job with the situation, but I don't have the wherewithal to keep food off of a cream kitchen carpet.  Also, one of the reasons I wanted a dog is because they cut down on the cleanup of even the most egregious food spills.  With the carpet, my dog wouldn't even consider the bounteous treats on the floor--he would lick the lotion of my legs instead (dogs are gross).

On Wednesday, I got a bee in my bonnet and ripped the carpet out of the kitchen.  I was kind of hoping that the linoleum under the carpet would be okay.  It was, for the most part, but there was this super bad gash right in the center.  Plus, it had all the carpet glue living forever on it's surface.

Off to Home Depot.  They had some acceptable laminate flooring on clearance for $1.08 per square foot plus about $30 prep expense.  They had some really great, inexpensive flooring that my sister used with great success.  Not much prep expense, but it was $1.79 per square foot.  I looked at the sticky vinyl squares, and they actually had a design that was decent for $0.88 per square foot.  Finally, they had sheet vinyl for $0.48 per square foot with about $15 in application expense.  I looked and felt and thought and watched videos and looked again.

You know how when you go shopping when you are thirsty you end up with milk and juice and apples and oranges and grapes and pop and pineapple?  Just like I should have had a long drink of water before I went to the grocery store to balance my desire for liquid, I think I should have slept on this decision.  I was so desperate to get a new floor down in my kitchen that night that I really didn't take the time to decide what I wanted.

I bought the sheet vinyl.  It was the cheapest option by far and it achieved my goal of having a washable surface in my kitchen.

After the nice man in the orange apron cut it, I picked it up.  The roll bent.  "Oh, don't let that bend.  It is cheap and it will crack."  RED FLAG!  At that point, I should have put it down and run, but I did not.  I brought it home.

I have done a lot of home improvement projects.  This was one of the hardest.  I won't go into trying to cut the "cheap" vinyl floor without sufficient space (there couldn't be anything under it that could puncture the thin surface).  I won't bore you with the details of trying to keep the large roll under control while I spread the adhesive.  I won't expose myself with how I kicked my family out of the house under threat of removal of the little toes that kept trying to sneak into the very messy glue.  Basically, Wednesday evening was a disaster.

But, Thursday morning, I woke up with a floor that the dog would help clean--and one that I could run a mop over after he was done.  It doesn't look great (there are some bubbles that I was too exhausted to prevail upon), but it looks fine.  My biggest worry, though, is that it won't last very long and I'll still have to pick one of the more expensive options before we are finished with this house.  I don't know if I just wasted that money.

Oh, well.  It is done.  Lesson learned.  And, I suppose, the floor is clean, after all.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quaking Aspens

Immediately behind our property line, there are a few dozen acres of undeveloped forest.  It is an area that was subdivided into five acre building plots.  The developer, who lives in Arkansas, improved the land (built a road and put in water and electricity), and sold one plot.  Then the economy tanked and he pulled it all off the market.  There are, therefore, no backyard neighbors.  I doubt the Arkansas guy would care that we are using this horse trail (we see horses on it frequently).

Take this trail, preferably with your canine companion.  Go past the Order of the Phoenix Club.  Next time you write Phoenix on anything in permanent marker, be sure to make sure whether the e or the o comes first! 

When the forest starts to thin, you will be in the right place!

Here we have a wide expanse cleared of the forest.  One look up and you understand why:
Power lines.

On one edge of the clearing, the forest has begun to creep back in.  I know the electric company will be here sometime in the next year to clear these trees away.  They are getting too close to the buzzing lines overhead.  

I dug out eight Quaking Aspen saplings and transplanted them to my yard.  I'm hoping to eventually have a small grove butting up to the pine tree forest behind it. 

Under the Aspens, I'm going to cover the ground in this natural growing Kinnikinnick.  I'm hoping it will maintain a wild feel, but more manicured than the crazy patch of everything that is there now.  

Imagine this (Kinnikinnick):

 Growing under this (Aspens):

Kinnikinnick is a deep, glossy green and has the added bonus of these gorgeous red berries in the fall.  
(When I was looking up the spelling of Kinnikinnick, I discovered that it makes an effective tobacco.  
Is there an income potential here?? )

I love the colors of fall and I can hardly wait to see the golden fire of these Aspens here next year.

But for now, I need to go haul eight buckets of water to the trees because I don't have irrigation out that far. At least they are native plants so they should maintain themselves soon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Outdoor Fireplace Reveal

 The fireplace is near the back of our property.  Eventually, we will landscape around it, but, like my dad said the other night, he likes that it has a Lamppost in Narnia appeal as is.

And . . . Ta Da!

 See that tiny pile of rocks in the background?  That is all that is left of our huge pile!  Hard to believe how many rocks went into this thing.  From ground to capstone, it is over eight feet tall.

Grasses, berries and leaves from our meadow.  Big stump seat from Joette's backyard.  Squash from my parent's garden.  
The pumpkins from Safeway.

As you can see, it is only generally square.  I didn't want it to look like masonry and I didn't cut any of the stones.  It has a pioneer quality about it, doesn't it?

I am not in love with the capstone, but with this much forest around us, it is a safety precaution worth looking a little off for.  It was obvious during our first fire that it nearly eliminated embers from escaping the chimney.

There you have it.  Took long enough, huh?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lost Tool

When I bought my latest digital camera, I liked everything about it (considering its $100 price tag) except the battery system.  It is a specific to the camera kind of battery so I can't go to the Walgreens to buy a replacement.  It has a long battery life and recharges quickly, but I worry about times when I have my camera on for extended periods of time and I can't recharge the battery (like on a vacation).  I have considered purchasing a backup battery.  ($30.)

Today's problem is not that one, though.  Today's problem is my children.  One of them took the recharger off of a high shelf and LOST the thing.  ($30.)  I have a battery, I have time to recharge it, but I can't get the task done.

And it's really a bummer because my fireplace is done.

Update:  It has been found.  The battery is charging.  Pictures of the fireplace coming soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Plaid and Pinecones

I know this is a little early.  We are having a most glorious fall--maybe one of the best I've ever seen.  Today I will be transplanting some wild aspens into my garden so next fall we can enjoy their golden show.  But, I have to admit, there is some Christmas on my mind.  So, to whet your pallet:

Nature and Plaid.

A restored schoolhouse--all decked out.

This is the add that started it all.  Love the Christmas-y plaid and the birch bed.

Yummm.  Wassail, gingerbread cookies, and natures bling.  Grab some of that plaid and you're set!

Can't handle the oxblood red door.  Amazing.

You've seen this picture a few times.  It is one of my all-time favorites.

I love the gentle Christmas hints.  The bows seem to fit into this home's year-round decor.

How about you?  Do you have Christmas on the brain?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Eight and All That That Implies

It was a very busy day.  It was the Primary Program.  It was her birthday.  The grandparents came over for dinner.  Finally, in the evening, she was baptized and confirmed.

The program I typed up was all wrong (printed upside down, wrong names), we forgot to tell one person that she was on the program, the cake that always turns out, didn't turn out quite right, and two trips home were required to obtain forgotten items.  It felt chaotic and aggravating.  It was obvious that there were opposing forces at work--someone didn't want this to be a good experience.

Sorry, Opposer.  It was a wonderful night.

This little girl is a gem.  She has a spirit about her that is undeniable.  She asks difficult and intelligent questions about religious topics.  And she is fun to have around.

For the past several weeks, she has been feeling the Spirit and trying to do righteous things.  One of ways she has shown this desire is by copying verses out of the Bible.  Most of the time they are nice verses, even if they are random.  A few days ago, she brought me yet another copied verse.  I tried to be supportive and proud of her efforts, but I'm afraid I could not see through my tears.  She wrote:

Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?  The glory of his nostrils is terrible.

Ha ha ha ha!!  What???  
After much searching, we found this verse.  Job 39:20

A couple of days later she had an interview with the bishop.  Afterward, I asked her how it went.  She told me,  "He asked me who the Holy Ghost was.  Mom, I couldn't remember everything so I just said, 'He's a ghost that's not scary.'"

Her baptism and confirmation were wonderful.  Her funny little personality came out frequently like when she was asked how she felt, "Weird and cold and wet and happy, kinda'."  

I love this girl and am so blessed to be her mother.  It is going to be great fun watching her grow.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Someday House Windows

This post will not outline the type of windows (wood, steel, vinyl, paned, double hung, or stained glass).  Most of those kinds of decisions won't be made until we're talking with the architect.  This post is more for the mom and gardener in me.

The front of the house faces south, so we'll want windows there.  However, I don't want my view focused on who is coming up the driveway or who is checking their mail or passing on their 4-wheelers.

The neighbors on the east side of the house have three, big pole buildings.  All of them are sided in a brilliant white metal--too bright for this area, I think.  So, I really want windows on the eastern side, but I think we'll focus more on transom windows and skylights so I don't need to look at the neighbors garages all of the time.

West is . . . well . . . west.  We'll want some windows on the west side for the winter (again, long cold season around here), but western facing windows are tricky during the summer.  I'll have to plan the plantings carefully so they let in heat during the winter, but effectively block the sun in the summer.

Projects traditional landscape

That leaves the northern side.  Usually, they suggest that you don't have many windows on the northern side because of the heat loss.  That is a factor, but I think the house will be close enough to the wind-blocking forest that most of the most intense heat-loss potential will be drastically reduced.  It is also the prettiest view--the forest, much of the meadow and the fireplace are behind the house.  There are no neighbors to spy and no direct sunlight to roast us out.

I would love for this to be a wall of glass.  Something like this:

There is one glaring problem with this, however:  the children.  I had full-length windows in our first house and I was ALWAYS washing those windows.  The base of all windows in our house will be higher.

Higher even than these, but this gives you an idea.

In order to get to that inviting back yard, we need doors.  One other must not, is a sliding door.  Our front door in our trailer is a sliding door.  Between the kids and the dog, it is constantly grimy.  Also, for some reason, it is impossible for children to close a sliding glass door.  This is a big pet-peeve of my husband's--that door is continually being left open.  Grrrr.  Instead, I'd rather go with something like this:

It has a large window, but has a solid wood bottom (although that doorknob would be difficult for my pods to negotiate).

I haven't gotten to a kitchen post yet, but I have to show a couple of images here.  The kitchen will be on the north-east corner of the house--like the bottom of an L shape.  I'd like the north and west sides of the kitchen to be all glass.  This should be the view into the kitchen:

I'll get more into this in a later post, too, but suffice it to say that extending out from those kitchen doors will be a long, vine-covered pergola over a patio.

Of course, there will have to be a few window seats:

In short, lots of windows, but not clear to the floor, and the glass doors must have hinges!