Monday, January 26, 2009

Peace, Quiet and an Unholy Stench

So Saturday I was out in that addition off the back of the house we call "The Spa," priming the baseboard for the living room, and I was all by myself. Why? Because the spa still stinks. It's like the Phantom Tinkler had a knock down drag out with a box of scented candles. It's a disturbing smell. The combination, both acrid and sweetly chemical, confuses the brain, which starts to try and separate the layers, which means your nose starts to take in MORE of the scent, which causes a distinct retching feeling in the gut.

The bright side was that I was not disturbed by any questing children for a whole 30 minutes. Oh, they tried. They came out, opened the sliding glass door, took a whiff, turned around and went back into the house. After the first couple minutes, my nose became somewhat immune to the smell and I happily painted, thinking whole and complete thoughts in the quiet room. It was even better than locking myself into the bathroom.

Eventually, we'll have to rip the carpet off the floor to get rid of the smell; but, for the moment, it's a place of quiet, if sensorily disturbing, contemplation. I have to finish painting the baseboards, and this is also a good time to start my exercise regime again. Since Oldest Child is now homeschooled, she can keep an eye on the boys while I get my twenty minutes on the elliptical machine. It helps that I'm breathing through my mouth while I exercise.

We also got a dumpster from the county on Friday and are throwing out piece after piece of junk. The chairs, mattress and ab workout machine that were in the spa (and now are unfit for human use) were tossed, along with the carpet we pulled out from the living and dining rooms. My job today is to sort out the clutter and stuff in the laundry room and the middle storage room in the basement, along with whatever I can get to in the shed. No biggy. And it snowed last night. Still, a happy home is a home without clutter.

Here is a picture of the living room rug we got from Flor. We picked our carpet tiles and came up with a configuration we liked. The furniture you see is not destined to stay.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Question of my Sanity

I've been skimming over the last month's or so posts. Zzzzzzz. Wow, sorry, guys! What a load of sleepers I've been sending out into the ether! The problem is that I haven't felt any inspiration. I have been running around so much -- which in itself is highly unusual for me and not at all my chosen mode of living -- that I have had no time to collect any thoughts. Not that I have produced any thoughts to collect. It's all a jumble of laundry, house refurbishing projects, math assessment tests, soccor sign-ups, trumpet teacher searches and menu plans that nothing of any profundity can take hold, much less take root. I even watched the inaugeration of our new president with a certain sense of displacement. Yeah, nice speech, whatever, on with life. Wait, the benediction was comedic? Is that reverent? Still, no time to ponder. Must do.

I am not a doer. I am a thinker. This is all very new and disturbing to me. Even my dreams have a scatterbrained quality to them that is not restful. I know people do this, this frantic pace of life, and do it well, but I was never one of them. I must meditate. I must ponder. Otherwise I am awash in a sea of chaos, drowning.

I suppose I'll find the balance soon, or something will have to give. I'll let you know if it's my sanity. Or, rather, you'll notice before I do. Please be kind and tell me if I've gone insane. That's what friends do. Thanks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We're homeschooling again!

I have just started homeschooling Oldest Child and Child Three. We're experimenting with it at the moment. They are part of the Utah Virtual Academy, which is part of the public school system. I guess it's like being part of a charter school that I, as a parent, have a great deal of involvement in. The school is sending us all our supplies, including another computer, from which the lessons are taken. Some of the lessons are online, some are offline. The kids do their lessons and then occasionally take assessment tests. I grade them and enter their scores online. They have a teacher who can help them with anything they are having trouble with, as well.

We're still operating in limbo a little bit, as we haven't yet received all the textbooks and other supplies. Oldest finished all her lessons in about 45 minutes yesterday. Oops. She's supposed to be spending 5 1/2 hours in school, on average, a day, but she has a goal of finishing high school by the time she would technically be in 10th grade. Fortunately, UVA is very flexible that way. The kids can go as slow or as fast as they wish to. Once we get the books, she'll be able to start doubling up her lessons as much as she wants.

Three needs a bit more parental involvement, so I sit with her as she goes through her lessons and we discuss things. Yesterday she and I did some science experiments to learn about mixtures, solutions and substances.

What's nice about this particular program is that a) I don't have to come up with lesson plans, b) I am not stressed out about running around finding all the books and materials that all cost money, c) there is a definite order and schedule, which is just to Oldest's tastes, and d) they get a high school diploma because this is public school. And they can do things on their own schedule. Best of all worlds!

We're still getting into the swing of things. I've still got two little boys running around here, too, which makes it interesting, plus all the regular housework chores and shopping, etc. I'm busier, that's for sure.

Last night I made a quick and easy recipe that I got from Shanna. The kids love it.

White Chocolate Popcorn

2 packages microwave popcorn, popped (natural or butter flavors work well)
1 package white chocolate chips

Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until the chips are mostly melted. Stir chips to melt them completely. Pour melted white chocolate over popped corn and stir to coat all the corn. Lay the coated popcorn out onto cookie sheets and let harden at room temperature (if you're really impatient, stick them into the frig). Eat. Now try to stop.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Laboratory of His Dreams

"I'm going to build my laboratory today!," announced Child Five, smacking his little fist onto his open palm to emphasize his decision and determination.

"I'm going to have a TV, the Wii, my games, a comfy chair to sit in..." His eyes went misty and far-away. For a few minutes he just sat there, thinking happy thoughts. Then he snapped out of it.

"Mom, I'll need some boards and some nails and a hammer. Right NOW! I have to get started. When will my laboratory be done? I'm building a small slide and a big slide. Okay? Thumbs up!"

He's so excited. So animated. He's got ideas for passwords and food and everything that will make this the bestest place in the world for a four year old boy to retire to when the world gets to be too much for him. Or just for fun.

The entry slide will be so long you'll "sleep til Friday" while sliding to the entry door, but you can't go on the slide until you get into your play clothes. The password is "I love Mom" (awwww!).

All are invited.

When it's built, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A bit of better butter

I bought 30 pounds of butter today. With the stuff I already had in my freezer, I pretty much have my year's supply, knock on wood the power doesn't go out. I really should can it so I don't have to worry about that.

When you find butter at 99 cents a pound, you go a little crazy. I refuse to let margarine pass my lips. Ewww!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tabitha: 19?? -- 2008

About four years ago, we were adopted by a cat. She was scrawny, starved, almost feral, and there was a distinct kink in her tail that looked painful. She had no voice, so when she meowed, you had to be looking at her to know it, as no sound came out. She must have been absolutely desperate by the time she found us, because even with the somewhat indifferent hostility of our two muscular male cats, she stuck around. We put food and water out for her, and Dad made sure she had a comfy place on a spare loveseat in the garage, the door slightly open so she could enter and exit at will, and a heat lamp over her for warmth in the winter.

For two years she wouldn't let any of us near her. We would stand stock still, not quite looking at her, and she would inspect us closely, but at the slightest movement or noise, she was off like a shot around the side of the house and under the bushes. It was kind of a feat just to learn her gender, and once we learned she was female, we thought she was pregnant. Her belly was distended in a pregnant way; but she never gave birth, although we had resigned ourselves to another litter of kittens to care and find homes for.

Finally, Dad, a man to whom all animals come for love and comfort, convinced her (by this time we'd named her Tabitha, or Tabby, for short) that he meant her no harm. Tabby let him touch her, and then pet her a little; finally, all he had to do was go outside, sit Indian style on the ground, and she would eagerly curl up in his lap for a good round of fuzz therapy. After another six months or so, she let the rest of us pet her. Soon, she was eager for love, rubbing up against our legs or crawling into our laps the minute we stepped outside and sat down.

It became obvious that Tabby was a very old cat. Her hearing and sight deteriorated quickly in the last year, and her fur, which was a tortoiseshell pattern of oranges, browns and tans, started to show larger amounts of gray. Child Two started bringing her on little forays into the house. At first she would cautiously creep up the entry stairs, tail alert for danger, and sniff carefully at things. The slightest noise would send her scampering out the door again. By the next winter, she had become accustomed to the house. As the cold came on, her joints seemed to stiffen up, and she was grateful to come into the warm house and curl up in her favorite place, Dad's bed. After a while, she rarely went outdoors. It became difficult for her to climb the stairs from the basement, but every once in a while she would come up to sit by the top of the entry stairs, staring vaguely at the front door until someone would gently pick her up and set her outside for a few minutes.

Tabby died a few weeks ago, right around Christmas. She was sleeping in her favorite place on Dad's bed, Dad beside her, when her spirit left her body between one breath and the next. The kids were distraught, and we talked for hours about where Tabby is now, how she is leaping about and running with her family in heaven, things she couldn't do here in her last years, and how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love all creatures, even cats. It was a good time to talk about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and also about the resurrection. And it was a comfort to them that Tabby died warm, fed and loved and not alone, cold and starving. I don't think there is a greater blessing than to be trusted and loved by one of God's creatures. See you soon, Tabby.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pictures of the progress

My dad kindly took some better photos and emailed them to me (as he said, "Low res is better than NO res.").

This is the living room, walls painted Valspar's Applesauce Cake (a warm, honey-wheat with a touch of green), and floor partly sanded. The inner workings of the grand piano are currently removed while Husband is finishing the floor with an orbital sander. I took my turn with the orbital sander (I can't resist power tools), and called it my resistance training for the day. All that stuff on the rocks is supplies and will be gone soon.

In order to take care of the living room floor, all the living room furniture except the piano was moved into the dining room. It's a little tight at the moment. How I wish I had cleaned off the dining room table before this picture was taken. No one wants to see the corn that Child Six dumped over during lunch. And all the other stuff, of course, which is stuff I have already taken to the food storage room, thank you very much.

The new picture Husband found at IKEA. It has all the colors we're putting into the new color scheme. I love the subject: sort of Tree of Life. Sure, it's a mass-produced picture. When we have the money, I'm going to buy some real original art. I already have an artist in mind.

Remember the "before" picture of the coat closet? Here's the "after." Now just the school backpacks are on the floor. And the vacuum. And somebody's workbook. Sigh. The work never ends. The mittens, hats and scarves are all thrown into the top of the closet. I'm still working on that.

This is the new shoe rack. We have finally corralled the (what seem like) hundreds of shoes that have been stacked on the floor. Everyone has his or her own basket. It's actually part of an IKEA wardrobe system with the Komplement baskets inserted. Can you tell where we shopped recently?
Update: The living room floor now has two coats of stain and is drying, drying, drying. Maybe it will dry sometime this year.

RtHP Continues

I've had a hard time getting anything posted. We've been preoccupied with the living room. The walls are painted a warm honey-wheat color, which replaces the white-pink the former owners left and that we've lived with for 10 years. We were going to paint the floor, but realized we could just hand-sand the paint off. It took a full day of every adult in the house on our hands and knees, squares of 100 grit sanding paper in our hands, blisters forming on our fingers, our clothes covered in sanding dust, but it's done. The nail holes have been filled with wood putty and we're sealing the floor. After the seal is cured, BOOKSHELVES! At last! I have been taking pictures, but my crappy digital camera is not good in lower light conditions. With the motion blur, it looks like people are sanding at 100 mph.