Thursday, March 31, 2016

Photo Blogging Challenge!

I may not have written much this past month, but I have been taking photos. The inspiration was the theme for PJ's Photo Challenge this month. Three, in celebration of the three years the challenge has been going. Congratulation, PJ, on three great years!

On to my photos...

Three boys.

The three non-high school boys with whom I spend the majority of my time having some french toast after school one day.

Three bananas.

Three over-ripe bananas on the counter means it's time to make banana bread!!

Three Pairs

There are always three pairs of boots (a variety of sizes) ready and waiting at the mud room door for someone to head outside to do some chores.

Three days.

Called the Triduum, it is the three days from sundown on Holy Thursday to sundown on Easter Sunday. It is a special time in the Catholic Church, full of special worship and prayer services and Masses. This was taken on Good Friday during the 8th grade's presentation of the Living Stations of the Cross. Giant had been chosen to play the part of Jesus, and this photo was taken when he was being carried to the tomb. It is always an emotional prayer service, but it was especially so this year, watching my own child up there on a cross.

Three dollars.

Two days after Easter Sunday, Easter lilies were on clearance. I snagged a couple of them for $3 each. For now they are decorating our newly painted front porch, but I'll be transferring them to the ground soon.

Whenever I see an Easter lily, I am taken back to Bermuda, where Bryan and I spent our first Easter as a married couple. Easter lilies were abloom all over the island, not just in pots at the grocery store.

There's still time to join in if you want to head out with your camera and take some photos. If you want to join in next month, PJ will be posting the new theme on April 1. (No joke!) He also started a Facebook group if you want to keep up to date on future challenges. 

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I'm Home with a Semi-sick Kid, So I Can Hodgepodge!

1. What are two or three expectations you have of yourself?

Well, this is a tough one right off the bat.  :)

I expect to put my family first when it comes to choosing how to spend my time and energy.

I expect to always treat people with kindness, regardless of the situation.

I expect to not just wait for opportunities to fall in my lap, but to search out ways to help and to serve others.

2. In what ways does your outdoor space need sprucing up this spring?

On a 150 year old farm, there are always, ALWAYS, things that need sprucing up. Trees that need taken down, barns that need repairs, animal areas cleaned up. We tried to get some landscaping done last year, but the dogs destroyed quite a bit of it. We'll see what comes up and what we can do to improve it. One thing that does not need done? House painting. Got that done already, so check it off the list!

3.  According to this site (Roadtrippers), six of North America's most wondrous waterfalls are-Webster's Falls in OntarioUpper Whitewater Falls in North Carolina,Havasu Falls in the Grand CanyonMultnomah Falls in Oregon, The Lower Yellowstone Falls, and Niagara. Have you seen any on the list? Which one on the list would you most like to visit? Prettiest waterfall not on the list that you've seen in person?

Of the list, I've only seen Niagara, but I've seen it several times.  I'd like to visit all of them.  As for ones not on the list that I've far as I'm concerned, all waterfalls are beautiful. I find them to be mesmerizing. 

From last year's spring break trip, on the side of the road somewhere in Tennessee

poor quality photo of a poster-sized photo, taken on our 10 year anniversary trip somewhere in Maine

4. Looking back, what's something you wish you'd done as a teenager?

I can't say that I would do anything. The things that made my teen years less than ideal weren't something I could change. I got involved, I jumped at the chance to try new things, I had fun, I met Bryan. I'm happy with the choices I made back then.

5. Ham...yes please or no thank you? If you said yes please which of the following do you like best-baked ham with all the trimmings, a ham and cheese sandwich, prosciutto with melon, a ham biscuit, a bowl of split pea and ham soup, or a slice of pizza topped with ham and pineapple?

We raise pigs, sooooo pretty sure you can guess YES PLEASE!!  My favorite ways to eat our ham is grilled ham steak (Ever had ham on the grill? Delicious!) and ham and bean soup (no split peas).

6. Are you typical of your generation?

I don't thing so. Bryan and I have never been typical of our generation, even when we were teenagers. That's all I have to say about that. ;)

7. April rolls in at the end of the week, and in keeping with that theme...'act the fool', nobody's fool', a fool's errand', 'could have fooled me'...which foolish idiom most recently applies to you? Explain.

I'm going to have to go with "act the fool". I've never really given two sticks about what people think of me, and that attitude, coupled with an impulsiveness I possess, has led me to do many silly, ridiculous things. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you've probably seen it. This past weekend was one instance where I totally acted the fool, but I can't expand on it. While I am all about making fun of myself, this instance includes another person who wouldn't appreciate my telling of the story.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

A little update on Star's tooth pain from the Easter weekend: Star will be getting a root canal on Friday. Four years ago, playing tag at recess, he tripped, face-planted, and his front tooth took the brunt of the fall, cracking it in half. The nerve inside is now dying. Until Friday, he is living on high doses of ibuprofen and at night, Tylenol with codeine.

Turken has had a fever since Monday afternoon. He has had no other symptoms of illness except a mild stomachache. He's still eating, and he's not vomiting or getting a rash or collapsing in exhaustion. Basically, he's just starting his spring break early, sitting around doing nothing all day. 

You can thank him and his desire for me to be sitting with him, if not necessarily holding him, for my ability to write this post AND the post that will publish tomorrow. (PJ's Photo Blogging Challenge. The theme is "three" if you want to join in.)

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful, Easter Edition

Happy Easter!!!

So much to be thankful for these days...

For our active parish, which has plenty of opportunities to make Lent and the Triduum a prayerful, contemplative time.

For the youth of the parish who get involved and make Good Friday one of the most emotional days of the year.

For our freedom to pray and worship and celebrate any darn way we please. It is all too clear lately that this is not so for many people in the world.

For my mom's good health in her retirement which allows her to spend these last three days with us.

For the many people who were baptized and Confirmed at the Easter Vigil. We knew many of them this year, including two boys who are in Turken's class and the husband of Turken's teacher.

For the beautiful weather we had this weekend. We were able to spend a good amount of time outside, working and playing.

For the abundance of food available to us.

For pain medication to help a poor teen with major tooth pain make it through the weekend until the dentist office opens on Monday.

For a family who makes me laugh on a daily basis.

For Turken, whose birthday just happened to fall on Good Friday this year. Celebrations were postponed until a non-fasting day, with absolutely no complaints from him. It helped that he knew I was going to make the blasted red cake for him. :)

This is where I would insert a family photo of all of us in our Easter finery. Except we never get one of those. We always go to the Easter Vigil, and besides the fact our family isn't all together (at least one of the boys always serves, thus having to arrive over 2 hours before Mass starts) in that Easter finery until 10:00 at night when the Mass ends. A photo of 8 people is hard enough. A photo of 8 people at 10:00 at night after a 2 and a half hour Mass is not going to happen.

So, no photo for you.

Or me.

How has your week been? Let me in on the things for which you are thankful!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Madness Is All Up in My March, and I'm Thankful, Week One forty-something or other

Ya'll. Seriously. Not only did I not write a single post this week, I didn't even READ one! I barely had time to flip through Facebook on my phone while I waited for one kid or another to finish one activity or another before collapsing into bed early each night.

Bryan has been out of town since 5:40 am (Yes, capital A capital M. aka in the morning, before the sun and normal people should be up) on Wednesday. It's his annual guys' trip to Vegas for the start of March Madness. (For you non-'Muricans, that's the college basketball championship in which 64 teams are whittled down to one over the course of 3 weeks. Non-stop basketball from Thursday afternoon until Sunday night this first week. (Which makes one wonder why Bryan left so early on Wednesday morning, doesn't it? (It does.))) I'm glad he takes some time to do guy things with his guy friends. He has been working way too much lately, and he needed this break before his brain exploded. I don't begrudge him one minute. (OK, so maybe I begrudge him a few minutes (which add up to a couple of hours) on Wednesday morning, but other than that, not one minute of begrudging.)

And here I am, screaming in at the last minute to let you know I am thankful...

1. for a Monday night get-together with my Bible study. Sadly, one of our group has to move to Michigan in two weeks, and we wanted to get together before her husband had to start the new job this week. Everything has happened so fast, this was our first chance to actually sit down with her to get the details. Bonus thankful, one of our group had a ridiculously hilarious incident immediately before we met, thus giving us a reason to laugh our full heads off instead of crying the entire time.

2. for my dad's continuing recovery from a nasty bit of surgery. He has been in pretty good spirits through it all, even making jokes about there being a sad face in one of the wounds. If you could, we'd appreciate some prayers that everything heals up nicely and quickly so he can get back to golfing.

3. that spring is officially here!

4. for a fun indoor soccer season for Giant. For a variety of reasons, this is the first time we've let one of our kids do indoor soccer in 8 years. For a variety of other reasons, we did let Giant this year. They were in the championship game on Tuesday night, and they won quite handily.

5. for the start of track and field season. For 5 years, Star has been debating running on a track team instead of playing soccer in the spring season. Each year, we decided that if he wanted to play soccer in high school, he should choose soccer. Soccer has skills that need to be learned, but anyone can jump into track at any time. This year is the year. He finally gets to run in high school. The first meet was on Wednesday night. First off, it was so much fun to watch one of my kids actually doing a sport that was such an integral part of my life for so many years. More fun, though, was to see how much Star is enjoying it and how well he is doing. It's going to be a fun couple of months.

6. that high school volleyball games started this week, too. I didn't know until Phoenix started playing 2 years ago that volleyball is a great spectator sport. We were able to see his team play and win two matches this week.

7. that Cuckoo is finally, FINALLY, getting old enough and mature enough and patient enough to sit through a volleyball game or track meet and actually show some interest in such things. Bryan and I used to rock/paper/scissors to see who had to take Cuckoo to whichever game we were going. The boy couldn't make it through 10 minutes of any game. (As opposed to Turken, who loved to watch every minute of any game since the day he was 7 days old.) This week he was put to the test, and he passed with flying colors.

8. for March Madness. I'd explain why it's so much more exciting than regular season games, but I'm in a hurry and I've already spent 10 minutes trying to write this one paragraph.

(That's Giant, the Keeper of the Brackets. This is his absolute favorite time of year.)

9. we (and everyone we invited) had a free Saturday to have Turken's birthday party. The poor kid has a terrible time for a birthday. It's always either over Spring Break or Easter. This year, it falls squarely on Good Friday. Yup, poor kid has his birthday on the day we fast and focus on the day Jesus died. We took a gander at the calendar and discovered that we had one completely open day (except for Bryan, who was still in Vegas) just 6 days before his birthday. To make it even better, all he wanted was to have some kids over to play football. And to top off the awesomeness of this party, Turken just happens to have 2 teenage brothers who were happy to go outside and play football with 9 little kids. All I had to do was make lemonade and bake brownies for the brownie sundaes the boys gobbled up after the game.

10. Bryan made it home safely.

Bonus thankful!! For my fabulous blogging friends. Within 10 minutes of publishing this, two friends I met through this blog were texting me to let me know I had accidentally used one of the kids' real names. You all are wonderful.

Well, it's not likely that anyone will be finishing a post after me, but just in case, here's the linky if you have one!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Friday, March 11, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful Week 143

We were very fortunate to have had a pretty mild winter here in Indy. We never had enough snow to even delay school, let alone cancel it. Which means...

1. A short week this week! Monday was a built-in snow day. Since we didn't have any snow days this winter, we didn't have to use that built-in make up day. Gotta say, it is way better to have a random day off when the weather is warm than a random day off when it is freezing cold outside. I'm extra grateful for the shortened school week because this was one loooooong feeling week. On Wednesday afternoon, I was astounded to find out that it was in fact only Wednesday.

2. I am thankful for teachers and attorneys who volunteer hours and hours and days and days over months and months to help a group of teens practice for Mock Trial.

3. I am thankful for the Geometry teacher at our high school who makes up goody bags for groups/teams in the school who don't get the attention that other groups/teams do. Out of her own pocket, she supplied each person in mock trial with a big bad of candy and snacks.

4. I am thankful for the teen who took it upon himself to wash, dry, and FOLD two loads of laundry while his parents were off watching two other kids at their mock trial competition. *cough*Giant*cough*

5. I am thankful for the teen who took it upon himself to take the little boys to the church half a mile away from our house, on foot, to play on the playground and shoot some hoops. *cough*Star*cough

6. I am thankful that we aren't dead. The vent/chimney issue will be fixed on Friday the 19th.

7. I am thankful my kids like to play sports and sometimes play in super exciting games. Giant's team played on Tuesday. At half, they were down 2-5. Two minutes into the second half, the other team scored again. It was the last time. Giant's team came roaring back and ended up winning 7-6. It was great fun watching his team work together and come back from such a deficit.

8. Somehow, we got away from reading to the little boys before bed. Last week, Cuckoo asked me to read a chapter book he had found on the shelf. We have read a chapter each night, and even a couple in the middle of the afternoon just because they love it so. You'll never guess which book it is, so I'll tell you. I wrote a horrifyingly funny post about it once.

9. I am thankful for the PTO fish fry, which just happened to occur on the day I had to begin scrubbing my house from top to bottom (more than once, because plaster dust is worse than sand, ya'll!) and did not feel like making any sort of dinner.

10. (I will be surprised if this one doesn't make just about everyone's list this week.) I'm thankful for the warm weather we are having. Sure, it was rainy for two of the days, but at least it was warm. And the other days were absolutely gorgeous.

How was your week? Tell me all about the things that put a smile on your face!

Have a lovely day!

(A bit of trouble with the link tonight. It says it doesn't open until tomorrow night. We'll get that fixed ASAP!)

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Little Hodgepodge to Keep My Mind Off of CO2

March is National Women's History Month. In that vein, who are three women who've been influential in your life? How so?

I can look back and see a whole line of women and men who have influenced me. I don't know if it's possible to not learn from everyone we come across. But I was asked to name three...

1. My mom. She is a fun mom who is quick to laugh and quick to forgive.

2. My best friend in the world, Amy. For many years, we practically raised our kids together. We taught each other how to be better moms, we helped each other be better spouses, and we talked and debated religion, which helped me begin to really hammer out what I believe and why I believe it.

3. My grandmas. (I know, that's two. I can't just name one!) One who lived far away and passed away much too soon, and one who lived down the street from me in Ohio who is still have alive (91 years old!) and well. There is no question where my mom got her sense of humor. Her mother was fun, fun, fun. She could laugh in the most difficult of situations. I spent a large portion of my childhood at my dad's mom's house. We'd play cards, I'd go to Bingo with her, I'd help her get stuff done around the house, and sometimes we'd just watch TV and talk. I just talked to her today, as a matter of fact.

In what ways do you think women have it easier than men?

I don't know that they do. Men and women are different. We aren't made to compete, but to complement each other. We have different roles, but both are difficult. Bryan is the sole money maker in our house. I know there have been times where that weighed on him mightily. I am in charge of all things house and kids and schedules. There's plenty of weight in that role, too.

But, I have to answer the question. I have it easier than Bryan because doing my job means going to the zoo and hiking through the woods and playing board games.

What do you need most right now: Faith, love, hope, or peace?

Well, I've got plenty of love, surrounded by my family who are good at showing it. I'm going with faith as my answer. There's a lot of things going on in the world and a few in my home that I just need to trust God to take care of. It may be hard to get to the other side, but I have to have faith that it will all be right in the end. Knowing that, I'll have peace.

Do you have a collection? If so, what do you collect and why?

I actually wrote a post about this a couple of years ago. Before then I would have said I am absolutely not a collector, but I realized I am. You can read about them HERE. Good news, we no longer have the koozie collection. I donated them. But, we now have a gigantic plastic bag collection overtaking the mud room.

Plaids, checks, polka dots, and stripes...your favorite?

I'm not opposed to any of them, but I do only have polka dots and stripes in my wardrobe, in both shirts and dresses.

In what ways are you the same as your childhood self?

Pretty sure my personality hasn't changed, but you'd have to ask my parents or even Bryan, seeing as how we met when I was only 15. I'm the same, but I've learned to tone myself down. For example, I still have opinions and am not worried about expressing them, I've just learned to do it in a better way, or not say anything at all if that is the best way to handle a situation.

You're a contestant on the game show "Jeopardy". What category will you ace?

Um, maybe board games? Or picture books? I know how to play lots of different sports, but don't ask me who did any of them professionally. Thanks to my kids, I also know a lot about smells and burps and weird ways to break things (both household items and bones). I could do well in those categories, too.

Insert your own random thought here.

Is it normal for family members not to tell each other about medical issues or is it just my family? My dad had some cancerous cells removed from near his ear. It was done in a hospital because they were  going to have to take so much out, they'd need a piece of his leg to repair it. I didn't know it was happening until my stepmom posted a photo of him in his hospital gown lying on a gurney.

A sibling's spouse spent a night in the hospital being tested for internal bleeding. I found out from my mom, only because I happened to call her when my niece was getting picked up from her house.

A few years ago, my mom was fighting cancer a mere 3 months after having 2 heart stents put in. She had some major complications, but I didn't know a thing about it until she was on her way out of the hospital 3 days later.

I had oral surgery and a house that is poisoning us with carbon dioxide, and I haven't told any family besides my mom. My dad found out about it from my blog posts.

Yet, in just the last week I've talked with them about what size suit coat I should get for Phoenix and some things relating to my dad's life insurance.

Is this normal behavior for families who generally like each other and frequently contact each other about a variety of things?

Just curious.

If you want to join in, hop on over to Joyce's to link your post up!

Have a lovely day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Awesome Song in This Post, But Only the Title Actually Applies

The previous owners of our house were...what's a nice way to say it?... creative (?) in their home improvements.

Their handiwork has been baffling professionals for a decade now.

The 4 layers of shingles on the roof of the house.

The two air conditioning units connected to one furnace that could not handle the load.

The cover on the porch, which was actually built around the old one, gutter and all.

The windows that were installed improperly, causing the windows and the siding to rot all around the back of the house.

And we aren't even blaming them for the now-illegal septic system that was on no government records and couldn't be found by two different septic companies. (Ended up, the tank drained through a single pipe right out into the corn field behind our house.)

This time, though, I'm pretty ticked.

We're lucky to be alive.

This is a terrible photo of the "fireplace" in the family room.

We've been wanting to see if we could get a gas insert, but it has been on the bottom of our to-do list.

Well, a couple of months ago, the mirror started crackling.

Odd, but nothing we were overly concerned about. Most old mirrors we've ever seen are crackled.

Two weeks ago, Bryan noticed that the tile-looking thing, which is actually just a thin piece of board, was warm.

That got our hackles up.

The chimney inspector came out today.

The moment he took the board off and stuck his head in the chimney, he knew something was wrong.
It should not be warm air.

I'll cut to the chase.

The chimney guy discovered that our water heater vents into the chimney, and the chimney has insulation stuffed into it, blocking any venting of the fumes.

Carbon Monoxide has been pouring into our house for an entire decade.

The only reason we haven't died is because the house has large, really drafty rooms.

I've never been grateful for cold, bitter wind blowing into our house until this very day.

The insulation has been pulled out, so the gases can now exit through the chimney top.

It's still not perfectly safe, though.

The chimney guy will be gathering supplies to properly line and vent the water heater.

This chimney guy has been in this business for over 25 years. He's a nice, honest guy who lives on a farm and raises dairy goats with his wife.

He has seen people improperly venting things through their chimneys before, but he's never seen anything this bad before.

How much has this affected us???

Are Bryan's and Buttercup's headaches symptoms of a decade's worth of carbon monoxide poisoning???

It's making me question every single health problem we've had over the years!

I just can't wrap my head around it.

It makes me want to say some very bad words.

I wonder how we'll be feeling once this is all taken care of and we're breathing non-carbon monoxide laced air.

Of course, as anyone who hears that there is a lice outbreak at school knows, the power of suggestion is real.

I've been feeling sick to my stomach and fighting a mild headache all day.

I'm just at a loss.


How do people do things like this?!?!

In the end, though, I'm just glad it was found. I'm glad we are OK. I'm glad it can be fixed without too much trouble.

I'm glad it's not worse.

And I wonder, why in the world haven't I slept a whole lot better than I have these past 10 years??

I'll keep you posted.

Have a lovely day.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Happy, TToT Week 142

"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." 

- Guillaume Apollinaire

Some happy from my week:

1. The stitches and bandages came out of my mouth, so I'm finally feeling closer to my normal self.

2. The painter has come and begun the prep work for the outside of the house. It really, really needs it. When they're done with the outside (in about 2-3 weeks), they'll start the inside. Checking off two bullet points on my List of Things to Do Before Phoenix's Graduation Party in 2017.

3. My car had a slow leak. As in I had to put air in it twice in 5 days. I finally had time to take it to the tire place on Friday. It was simply a loose valve piece which only cost $10 to fix.

4. I was going to make cookies for Buttercup to take to Mock Trial practice the day before her birthday. When I went to get the chocolate chips out of the pantry, I found only 1/3 of a bag left. Not nearly enough to make a batch of cookies. Thankfully, I had just enough time to make some snickerdoodles. (The dough needs to chill for at least 2 hours.)

5. Bryan takes care of getting the taxes done. I have to do absolutely nothing but cry as I write the check.

6. Phoenix did something very difficult recently (sorry, can't give the details), and I couldn't be more proud of him for doing it.

7. Buttercup turned 16 on Friday. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be her mom.

8. I was able to go to dinner at a Turkish restaurant with the most delicious food with a few of Buttercup's friends and another mom. Seriously, Ya'll, a bunch of 16 year old girls can be loads of fun. (And I think they don't mind a couple of moms hanging out with them.)

9. Phoenix and Buttercup are competing in the State Mock Trial competition this weekend. I was able to see 2 of the 3 trials they did today. It is astounding how professional and smart and awesome they and all the other teens were.  And to throw out a little Hurray, Buttercup snagged Best Witness award for one of the trials.

10. Attire is important for Mock Trial. They need to look like real lawyers in a court room. For Regionals, Buttercup borrowed a pencil skirt from a friend and wore a blouse (but more of a casual blouse) and Phoenix just wore his khaki school pants, a red shirt, and a tie. For state, I knew they were worried about what they were going to wear, so on Friday, while they were at school, I went in search of suits for them (without their knowledge). I'll refrain from giving you the blow by blow, but I walked out of the store with suits for both of them, crossing my fingers that they would fit the kids. (Ok, I little blow by blow. I told the clerk (Antonette at JCPenney) that Phoenix wore a 30x34 pant, that he was about 6'2" and 135 pounds. She took it from there and picked out pants (that weren't 30x34, because apparently suit pants fit differently), a jacket, and shirts.)

Guys, everything fit! And even better, the kids were so thankful that I had gotten the suits for them. I was so happy about this that I almost made it my entire Ten Things of Thankful list 1. Phoenix's shirt fit., 2. Phoenix's pants fit. 3. Phoenix's jacket fit. 4. Buttercup's skirt fit....You get the idea. So. stinkin'. happy.

OK, Folks, it's your turn. Pause in your pursuit and tell me why you're happy.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Friday, March 4, 2016

Our Life, 7 Quick Takes

I started this post this morning. Many hours ago. I haven't linked up with Kelly for a while, so I thought I'd catch you all up real quick.

That was many hours ago.

Now I should be working on my Ten Things of Thankful post, seeing as how it goes live right about now.

But I'm not.

I'm finishing this blasted post!

*********** 1 *************

I received a note from Turken's teacher yesterday. Basically, she noticed he had marker all over his shirt. She asked him a few times how it happened, and he insisted he didn't know.

I replied, "That is our life with Turken," except I rarely ask him how anything gets on him. He has no idea. The reality is, he is constantly fidgeting, and if he has a pen, marker, or anything else in his hand, it will be all over him in no time. He has even been known to write on his face, having no idea that he has done it.

Each morning when he comes downstairs, supposedly dressed and ready for school, he looks like he got roughed up by someone looking to abscond with his lunch money.

When he is doing anything while sitting in a chair, like eating or doing homework, he frequently disappears.

When he eats a meal, a good portion of the meal ends up on the table, the floor, and his clothes.

He is almost incapable of doing any task without stopping at least three times to attend to other things, usually forgetting what he was doing in the first place.

It makes getting out of the house with him a long, drawn-out affair.

This is life with our adorable Turken.

********* 2 *************

I had a dream last night. I would almost consider it a nightmare. For some reason, I had to catch a plane as quickly as possible. I called the airline, and of the three choices, I chose the earliest one, even though it meant I only had an hour to catch it. I wasn't even packed yet.

Oh, and Turken was going with me.

I had a dream in which I was trying to rush to pack and get out the door, with dear, little, I-can't-do-anything-quickly-no-matter-how-much-you-want-me-to-or-how-hard-I-try, Turken.

Seriously, when the first alarm (I'll explain in a bit.) went off, I was awoken from a dream in which I was in a full-on panic, with only 20 minutes to get to the airport, but I was standing at the front door trying to get Turken's shoes on him.

This is life inside my brain.

********* 3 *************


Cuckoo sleeps in just his underwear in order to facilitate a speedy school preparation in the morning.

His clothes for the next day are laid out next to his bed.

His backpack and jacket are laid out next to his clothes.

When he comes downstairs each morning, (before breakfast!) he is not only fully clothed, but has his jacket and backpack on.

He eats breakfast and brushes his teeth with his jacket and backpack on.

This is life with Cuckoo.

********* 4 ****************

Bryan and I have a really old alarm clock. It no longer has an adjustable volume. There are now only two settings, either barely noticeable or howler monkey.

It's been on barely noticeable for awhile now, and we haven't had any trouble. Except the one day last week when it didn't make any sound at all.

I was awoken by someone going downstairs 9 minutes after the alarm went off.

We jumped out of bed, ran to wake everyone up, and scurried around to get everyone out of the house on time.

That night, as we were putting the kids to bed, Cuckoo gave me his Batman clock he had received for his last birthday. He loves that thing. It's a giant Lego Batman.

He handed it over and said, "Use this so we can wake up at the right time tomorrow."

So, now we have our alarm, which decides on its own which days are howler monkey days and which are barely noticeable days, and each day, 45 seconds later, just as I've dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom, Lego Batman starts beeping.

This is life at our house.

******* 5 **************

For over a week now, the soap dispenser in our master bathroom has been empty.

We're past the point where we can pump and pump and pump it, getting tiny little bits of soap out of it. You know, that point where there is juuuust enough to get a lather.

Ya, the dispenser has run dry.

For over a week, I have been having to reach in and grab the soap from the shower to wash my hands, then put the soap back in the shower.

Normally, I leave a giant refill bottle in each bathroom, so I can simply and easily refill the almost empty dispenser.

But the gigantic bottle ran out.

And I forgot to replace it.

And every single time I leave the bathroom, I forget that we have no soap in it.

Until I use the bathroom again.

And have to use the soap from the shower.

This is what life is like without a working memory.

********** 6 ****************

So, don't know if you've heard, I had oral surgery last week. This week, the stitches and bandages came out, so I'm feeling muuuuuuch better.

In the portion of the appointment when I was given instructions on the care and keeping of horribly sore gums, I was told, "You have to use this really, stupidly expensive toothpaste. Your gums will bleed when you brush them. Probably a lot. Keep brushing them through the blood."

Ya'll paying $15 for toothpaste is bad enough, but brushing while I bleed all over the sink?

It's as bad as you're picturing in your head. And as you gag and run for the toilet to vomit from the image now in your brain.

Sorry about that.

I was also told that I no longer will be flossing the back teeth where the gums were removed. I now get to use these teeny tiny brushes that bend and go in between the teeth. As I was told at my appointment, "The space between your teeth is bigger now, so you can clean it better."

See, I have mongo teeth but a little mouth. When I was in 4th grade, I had 8 teeth pulled, 4 adult and 4 baby. And still my teeth are snug. Getting floss in between is a chore. My wisdom teeth, which were still kinda covered by my gums were even worse.

Thus the surgery.

I now have a bigger space.

So I can clean better.

Ya'll, the space is big enough that I no longer need to pack an afternoon snack for myself.

Plenty of food waiting between my back teeth to shove out with a teeny tiny brush to curb those afternoon munchies.

This is life with terrible, inherited teeth.

******** 7 **************

And guess who is so happy to hear that this is all hereditary!

This girl:

That girl right there...she's 16 years old today.

Six. Teen.


Short story from when she was about 6 years old:

We were playing the game. In the game, a team is given a category, and the team has a short amount of time to come up with the 10 items in that category.

Her team was given the category "natural disasters".

Everyone started shouting their answers, things like tornado, hurricane, and earthquake.

There was a lull when everyone ran out of guesses.

In the middle of the quiet, Buttercup shouted, "The playroom!"

While yes, I miss that sweet little face of her younger years, I am loving the teenager she is.

She's compassionate. She's hard-working. She's smart as a whip. She's not afraid to speak her mind.  She's hilarious. She's responsible. She's got a good moral compass. She is a slob.

Every room in this house has something of hers that doesn't belong there.

Her bedroom is a disaster.

A natural one.

This is life with my peach, Buttercup.


And now I am off to start my Ten Things of Thankful post.

We'd love for you to join in with us! The link is live at Lizzi's. My post and link will be up tomorrow.

I hope.

'Cause you know what my life is like.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I'm Talking Debt and How We're Teaching Our Kids to Avoid It

It's one of my new favorite songs.

I like the music, I like the nostalgia. I don't like the truth of it.

There are a lot of stressed out people in this world of ours.

One of the big reasons for this is debt.

So much debt.

Bryan and I chose to go into debt back when the kids were young/being born.

I hated it.

It wasn't that we were strapped for cash all the time. We had enough money to make the payments, but my nerves were always on edge about it.

Thoughts of Bryan losing his job and us being destitute were frequently on my mind.

The amount of money we were losing in interest ticked me off.

Thankfully, Bryan saw how much it bothered me and was willing to scrimp and save and pay those loans off as fast as we possibly could.

And we've never gone back.

I found myself in a conversation about debt not too long ago. I was just sitting and listening as folks told of the arguments they had with their spouses about debt and spending. They all had quite large sums of debt. At one point, someone asked me about our debt. I replied that we had none. It makes me nervous to have it and I hate it, so we don't have any. One person then said, "Well, you're lucky. Bryan makes enough money that you don't have to have any."

It's not the first time I've heard that sentiment. I have heard it said over and over again that only rich people don't have to have debt.

I don't agree.

As far as I can see, debt is most often a mindset. There are people that make $500,000 per year who are in debt up to their eyeballs, yet a man who makes $50,000 retires with over a million dollars saved up.

Sometimes, debt is beyond our control. Sadly, a medical emergency or chronic illness can send a family into bankruptcy, but most of the time debt is a result of choices that we make.

Borrowing money these days could not be easier. The government hands out student loans practically willy nilly. When a kid goes to college, credit card companies line up to sign them up. You can buy everything from jewelry to phones to carpet through "financing". Problem is, all of this comes at a huge cost.

Our parents didn't have these same problems. Debt wasn't nearly so easy to come by when they were raising us, and debt wasn't something that was discussed much. When it was time for us and our peers to go out on our own, many of us were caught off guard. We didn't know the pitfalls. We didn't know the toll debt could take. We walked right into it.

Our kids are on the verge of making some important decisions. Decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. We have been and are going to continue to teach them and guide them to make smart choices, then cross our fingers and pray that they listen.

 The biggest points we want them to hear:

1. College is about the education, not the "college experience" or the name of the school.

We are stressing to our kids that the point of college is to learn, and the point of that learning is to get good jobs that they enjoy. (First things first, pick a major that teaches you something useful. A major in European History might be interesting, but it doesn't have many career choices to go with it.) As long as they do well in their classes, the name of the college doesn't mean all that much. For example, Bryan was accepted to every law school to which he applied. He could have gone to Michigan, which was ranked one of the best schools in the country, but we chose Indiana. Knowing we wanted to live in Indianapolis when he graduated, and knowing that a majority of new hires at Indianapolis law firms came from Indiana's law school, we saw no reason to take out tens of thousands in loans to pay for a Michigan diploma. Same goes for our kids. Our kids have done well enough in school and on their standardized tests to get into just about any school they choose. However, the amount of scholarship money they get from each will vary greatly. Even though Buttercup would like to go to Notre Dame, it just doesn't make sense to borrow $50,000 to do so when she could borrow nothing and get a top-notch architecture degree from Ball State.

2. Making the choice to go into debt now limits the choices you have in the future.

It doesn't take long to get into crushing debt. A person borrows $40,000 to go to college. That person marries someone who has $30,000 of her own student loans. They finance two cars, and boom, they have over $100,000 in debt to pay off. Choices are taken away. They can't take the jobs they really want because they need the higher salary of the jobs they dislike to pay the bills. The couple has a baby, but despite their desire, neither can stay home with that baby because one salary won't cover the payments on their loans. A friend of theirs has a medical issue and there is a fundraiser to help pay medical expenses. The couple wants to be generous, but they can't because being generous means there won't be enough money for them to pay their own bills.

None of us knows what the future will bring, but making smart choices now will give them more options when that future unfolds.

3. Live below your means.

I think (hope (pray)) we have taught our kids that having the newest and nicest and most isn't the goal in life and these things won't make them happy. Being content and grateful for what we have instead of pining for things we don't will make for a much happier life. With this type of mindset, it is much easier to say no to the bigger house that stretches your finances, and instead buy the smaller house that allows you to save money for emergencies. With this mindset, it is easier to drive a car that has a door which doesn't open and rust as its paint color until you have saved enough cash to buy that dream car.

Saving money is important. It is important to have money in the bank for the "just in case". Just in case you lose your job, you have money saved to pay for food and housing for several months while you find a new one. Just in case the furnace goes out, you have the money to buy a new one. It is also important to save for retirement. Pensions are few and far between, and social security simply isn't enough to keep you from being a burden to your own children. When a bulk of your paycheck goes to paying off loans, there is precious little to go towards savings.

4. Borrowing money is expensive.

Borrow $28,000 to buy a brand new truck on a three year loan with 3.7% interest, that truck actually costs you almost $32,000.

Put $5,000 on a credit card with a modest 18% interest rate. If you pay $200 per month, never adding another purchase to it, it will take you almost three years and $6,400 to pay it off. If you pay only the minimum payment the credit card company requires, it will take even longer and cost a lot more.

Imagine what you could have done with that money. Saved some for retirement. Given some to your favorite charity. Bought those shoes you really liked.

It really gets expensive when it snowballs. You are making enough money to make your payments, but not enough to build up a savings. All is fine until your car breaks down. You don't have the money to fix it, so you have to put the repairs on your credit card. More debt, more interest, more money going out the window, and now you are having trouble making payments. Things can go downhill from there even faster.

Even more important than the amount of money you waste is the expense you pay in peace of mind. It is stressful to have those bills hanging over your head. That splurge Christmas present you put on your credit card doesn't bring any happiness when you're still paying it off long after the person you gave it to has stopped appreciating it. That student loan is a weight that exhausts you when you are working a second job to make ends meet. Fighting with your spouse over where the money goes puts a wedge between the two of you that is hard to overcome.

It just isn't worth it.

Yes, Bryan and I are fortunate to have a generous income, but we haven't always had it.

Besides the fact we could only afford to live in a roach-infested, horrible apartment eating the cheapest of the cheap food for the three years Bryan was in law school, both of us have divorced parents. Both of us helped our previously stay-at-home mothers pay for necessities when we were still teens and young adults ourselves. While we never went hungry, we saw what it was like to struggle financially. We saw how a tragic event can throw a family into financial instability.

Some might say that's probably what makes me so nervous about debt.

Our kids have not gone through the experiences we have. They don't know what financial instability feels like. They don't know what debt feels like. It is our job to teach them what debt is, what the downfalls of it are, and how to make good choices that give them the best chance at avoiding it.

I really, really don't want that song of being stressed out to apply to them when they're adults.

If you have anything to add, any other ideas I should pass on, please let me know. While I am knowledgeable on the subject, I'm no expert, and I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have a lovely day!