My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Two down… May 23, 2016

 

 

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Our second-born, also known as Michael, turned 18 today.  We wouldn’t dare say it’s been a breeze, because he was definitely our challenge.  The one where if it was going to go wrong, it went wrong… and yet, he still came out amazing!

From about the 5th month of pregnancy I knew something wasn’t right?  Born two weeks late but induced due to a slowing heart rate, he was literally pulled out by our midwife because his shoulders had become stuck.   He was already challenging us!  After delivery though, his little heart came back twice as strong.

He was quiet and strong.

After a couple of weeks with this perfect little bundle, his jaundice set in.  “Pumpkin” the nurses called him when we headed back to the hospital for the light therapy.  His bilirubin count was so high they nearly took him in an ambulance.  That’s when the quiet ended, but the strong didn’t.

For over four years this little man cried.  Cried like his fingers had been closed in a car door.  We went to doctor after doctor, all the while being told he was just fine, it was just who he was.  Four years of no sleep.  Four years of rashes everywhere.  Listening to screaming for the majority of the day.  Four years of having strangers whisper, or tell me straight to my face what a terrible parent I was because of his screaming.  Four years of not knowing how to fix his hurting.

 

 

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But when he did stop, if only for an hour or so, he was so happy, and so beautiful.

 

 

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After four years, we decided to take him to a therapist to see if they could help.  “Take him to a naturopath if the doctors won’t listen!”, he said.

Best advice ever!

Our son was allergic to several foods – corn, wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein).  All of his favorites of course!  After cutting those out, we were still left with a kid who only knew how to get angry, but could now at least function.  Four years of therapy to correct the damage that had been done and all the time lost, and some very caring church leaders, coaches, naturopaths, family and friends who stuck it out with us, he was a completely different kid.

 

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Always challenging.  Always pushing.  Always trying something new.  I couldn’t imagine what life would have been like without him, his energy, his mischievous giggle from the other room and the lessons he brought with him.  Still strong, sometimes quiet.  Always a challenge.

Scary delivery, jaundice, food allergies, night terrors, stitches, multiple goose-eggs, Poison Ivy, two broken arms, and none of it slowed him down!

 

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Yes, he still has his allergies, albeit less intense now.  Yes, he manages quite well with them.  Yes, it’s changed everything in our life, mostly for the better.  Not so much for out pocket book, but definitely for our bodies.  And I am thankful for that!

 

 

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Our computer nerd through and through, he’s graduating high school with a certificate in Computer Technology, and is about to leave home for a new adventure.  I’m sure however, we’ll see him grocery shopping our pantry and finding his way home for the wash machine.  This strong willed, energetic, enthusiastic, kid is ready for the world… I hope it’s ready for him because he doesn’t knock down easily!

 

 

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Get growing! May 14, 2016

 

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Ok, that was a corny title.  Work with me here.

 

It’s beautiful out my way… well, today is raining and cold, but we could use it.  The last few weeks have been unseasonably warm though, and I don’t mind one bit!  And while we’re on a pretty tight budget, we still needed could use a garden.  Last years use of bags, while effective, not only took down a fence, but we were only able to do tomatoes that way.  So this year, I searched all the different pins and sites to find inexpensive ways to make raised garden beds.  If we’re planning on moving, I’m not going to spend a small fortune on amending soil for a garden, and because we live in the high dessert/plains/valley (yes, it counts as all three), our soil, neigh, sand… sucks.  We literally found cactus in the field behind us (which is now growing nicely in a pot on our porch).

I decided to go with just three this year.  I could have fit more, but that was in my budget and I’m working on my little bit of “OCD” and picked an odd number to help me move on.  Besides, when you plant in your garden, you’re supposed to use an odd number right?

 

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Each raised bed cost me approx. $20.  $16 if you don’t count the 2×4’s we already had from another project.  I won’t bore you with the building part because there are probably 100’s of sites out there with tutorials on that part, so I’ll send you there.  I will say that I bought 8 3 x 5 cedar fence planks for just under $2 each.

Now here’s the part I was really excited about –

We have really amazing neighbors.  We live in a rural “neighborhood” of 2 1/2 acre plots.  All the other neighbors are original to when the development was put in.  So they’ve been here since 1975 – 1980 depending on the house.  The house we own, was actually built by one of the neighbors parents… ironically former dentists.  The “kids”, who have been here since 1975 I believe, have a massive grass pile near a corner of our property that they’ve been dumping in since they had grass.  I called and asked if I could use it to amend what little soil I had left over from last years tomatoes and they said “Yes, of course!”.  As we… ok, the boys, were piling the grass into the back of the truck, we realized that majority of the grass was really, really excellent dirt.  We hit the dirt jackpot!  We have free access to free, fabulous dirt!

 

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After getting all the dirt/grass out of the back of the truck I installed the new mini sprinklers.  I have to say though that I’m not thrilled with them and will be changing them out.  The don’t spray the “5 ft” it said and the third one won’t even spray at all.  Not a lot of water pressure up here on the hill.  So I’ll be changing back to the drip hoses once I find the right connections.

 

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Don’t judge the poor things, they were *just* put in the ground on a 90* day.

 

In the mean time, my tomatoes and sweet potato starts have been transplanted and we’ll be getting a few other items this weekend.

 

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It was great to get away from staining cabinets for a while.  I got to get out and get dirty, on the cheap.  What a great start to the summer!

 

The blame game April 9, 2016

 

 

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I’m diverging a bit here, so follow me down my minds rabbit trail if you will please.

 

I was strolling through Pinterest, when I get to one pin full of dental shirts.  *thank you dentist man for your profession invading my pinterest, fb and every other feed, I hope you get sewing supplies suggested*  Very cute shirts too mind you.  Things like “This dentist is the greatest dad”, or “This hygienist has the greatest patients”.  Me, being me, seeing several comments, made me wonder what would make  you comment on something like that?  People saying “Ooh how cute?”  or, “That would be great for so-and-so!”?

No.  No, to my surprise it was someone commenting on how misogynistic it was that this company would assume that the dentist was male, and the hygienists and assistants were female.  (I won’t even go into the statistics on the fact that yes, majority at this time are male and yes, majority are women….)  A quick click on the product page showed that every item (short of the mom/dad shirts) were unisex.  Meaning, that both male and female dentists were represented, and both male and female hygienists or assistants could have the greatest patients.  After pointing this out, a barrage of comments pointing out that the company shouldn’t assume that a male is the dentist and shouldn’t advertise that way, as though they had unlimited space to advertise every product available.  And that men are the reason why most women choose to be hygienist or assistants over dentists.

My argument that more women than men are now becoming doctors only infuriated the commentators more.  However, I didn’t have time for this… I have a life.  However, my mind would drift back while doing random jobs around the house.

In the U.S., I can get any degree I choose.  I can go into any profession, even to the front lines of battle.  If I choose to hold the same hours as a man, I can make the same amount of money.  I can own a gun.  Vote.  Leave my house whenever I want without an escort.  Drive.  Buy a house.  Choose to have, or not have children.  To get married.  What ever the heck I want!

The only time I’ve ever had a man tell me I couldn’t do something, was at Home Depot.  I’m not sure what’s up with Home Depot?  Anytime I got a wild hair up my backside, it was a bunch of guys telling me to do it.

I’ve only had a few women tell me the same thing.  Usually being told  “You don’t look right for this position.”,  “You aren’t smart enough.”,  “You’re too small.”,  “Girls don’t do that.”,  “Why would you want to do that?”, the lovely  “Don’t you have a husband for that?”, or  “Wouldn’t you rather….?”.

Or in this case, it’s blamed on men.  “Men won’t let you.” “They don’t become hygienists, assistants or nurses because they’ve been told it’s not ‘manly’, whatever that means?”  What does that say to those male nurses that have been working on my son’s arm?  Or the male assistants my husband works with in the Navy?  How misandrist of you!  (I want brownie points for that new word btw!)

 

Not falling for that here in the U.S. or any other first-world nation in 2016!  Or, even since I was a child and Sesame Street showed women as doctors, police officers, CEO’s, business owners or astronauts.  Nope.  Whatever you choose to become, it’s your choice, no one else’s.

 

 

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Mind you, I was pondering this while researching underwater welding careers.  And while rewiring the heater in my van, replacing it’s door handle, wiring in new lights into my kitchen and researching some new tools for the counters I’m about to build.  All with the help of men who were cheering me on, coaching and pushing me to try something I hadn’t done before.  “Of course you can do it?  Why couldn’t you?”  The words of a misogynistic patriarchs telling me what roll I should play in society?  Or words I’ve been hearing from my society for the last 40 years?

Unless you can actually point to a resume, college application or some form of documentation that says you were denied, or steered from a certain career, merely because of your ta-ta’s, I’m not falling for this evil patriarch stuff.  What you choose to do, in our current first-world society, is all on you babe!

And me telling you that there is no hidden misogynistic patriarchy holding you to a certain position in today’s society is not tearing you down, it’s opening your eyes to all the things you are capable of.

 

You, are the holders of society – You hold society in your bellies.  You hold it at your breast.  You hold it on your lap.  You hold it on your shoulders.  You hold it in your arms.  You hold it in your hearts. You shape the world around you.  Not men.  You.  A woman.

 

You aren’t being held down by men.  You’re being held down by your excuses.

 

 

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You really want to rock the world – go volunteer to help some girls in the third-world.  Now *that* would really be changing something!

 

 

 

 

 

 

March-ing on March 26, 2016

Filed under: Family,Hubby — blankenmom @ 11:59 pm
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I have been wanting to post for weeks now, but to be fully honest, this has been a truly terrible month.  And I don’t mean that lightly.

To start the month off, we realized our mortgage company, Seterus, lost several thousands of dollars in escrow money (money they put aside to pay for things like taxes and insurance), and hasn’t been paying our hazard insurance, in spite of collecting for it.  Insurance we have to have to keep our mortgage for “that house”.  Both of which are illegal.  After several, multi-hour conversations, with them attempting to blame us for the lost money and their inability to pay the insurance they’ve been collecting money for, they told me to call back a few days later while they try to straighten it out.

 

I called our lawyer instead.

 

A few days later, my brother-in-law who has been battling bi-polar disorder/schizophrenia for nearly 20 years now, ended his life while his mother made his birthday dinner, leaving behind his heartbroken 15 year old son, older and younger brothers, and parents that he had been living with, and whose birthdays were only a few days later.

He stopped taking his meds when the program that delivered them, and helped insure he took them, ran out of money.  I’m so glad my taxes go to pay for dead-beats who choose not to work, but not for people who are truly ill and would still be here, working, if only for that same money.  I wonder if the large amounts of money we lost to our crappy state-aid renters would have helped keep him with us?

 

I guess that’s one way to solve their budget issues.

 

And this is all while I was gearing up for the first anniversary of my sister’s sudden passing.  My sister who had been battling alcoholism and depression for as long as I can remember, killed herself, accidentally, and left behind her heartbroken husband and 16 year old son, our older brother, myself and three sets of parents (divorce people, we’re not complete freaks).

 

The month is almost over, and hopefully this feeling of overwhelming pain, sadness, confusion, anger and frustration, all wrapped up in one little month, will be also.

 

My biggest consolation here is that tomorrow is Easter, the biggest day of hope possible.  I will see them all again, healthy and whole.  The mortgage company, whether we get this fixed or not, will fall away.  God’s promise through Jesus’ resurrection is that all this is defeated and the pain is only temporary.  While it hurts and frustrates us now, there is still hope.  Always hope.

 

Onto April please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching the top February 28, 2016

 

 

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The second-born’s surgery was Friday, along with numerous doctors appt’s before hand, for his broken wrist.  Surgery went well, he now looks like he lost a war with a nail gun however.

 

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I’m taking a little time between pain killer dosages, escorted bathroom trips and ice pack delivery to show my latest completed project.  I’m very excited over this one too!

 

This is just about what we started with, minus a few opaque panels that we may, or may not have accidentally broken in various ways.

 

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Only one light worked consistently, one on occasion, and one never worked.  And yes, we tried changing out the bulbs.  And the final nail in the coffin for these lighting fixtures – they started humming.  Very, very loudly.  If they’re going to make that much noise, they had better at least work!

 

 

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We took down the lovely trim, and the lights, and I nearly lost a finger on that last one to the right.  They were all connected to the same wire, so the wiring was pretty easy.

 

We were still left with a giant 80’s hole in our ceiling, so we took several months to save up for to figure out what we wanted to do with it.

 

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We finally decided to go with just one light down the middle, that will eventually hang over a very small island.  It’s on an adjustable light switch and is extremely bright, so no other light is really necessary – save the lights we’ll be putting in over the stove where we cast a shadow from this one.  And a faux copper tile, that will also eventually match the sink.  If we were going to be stuck with this space, we thought we’d at least make it look like it was there on purpose!

 

These tiles are super easy to put up, and they come in a ton of colors and styles.  We actually took a few months to pick out the exact color/design combo we wanted.  They also carry the real stuff too if you’re feeling rich.

 

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Almost there…

 

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During measuring, we discovered that one side of the inset was about 2″ wider, than the bottom.  This is how we solved the issue.  I doubt it’s what a builder would do, but since it’s going behind very light panels, and then being nailed from the trim, I’m thinking it’ll be perfect for the next 30 years or so when someone updates again.

 

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Done!

(Quite looking in my cabinets!)

 

This project has definitely taken me the longest.  I was scared silly thinking about cutting the trim.  I had to learn to do something called “coping“, where you cut the backside of the trim so that it matches perfectly when it butts up against the other trim.

I finally worked up the nerve to cut it and…. there were a few mistakes, but you really have to work to see them.

 

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I have to say, I’m uber proud of how this turned out.  I love the way it looks and am very thankful it’s over with.  You may not personally like the color or style, but it may just give you an idea what you could do with an eyesore of a ceiling in that one room you’ve been avoiding.

I have been working on the cabinets also (hence, no doors in the picture), which feels like it’s taking forever also with all the other stuff going on right now.  But if I take it as slowly as this, they should look fantastic too!

 

I’m off to strip (cabinets), medicate (broken children), and have a drink or two (of something in the hot chocolate range).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picking your red shirt battles February 20, 2016

Filed under: Boys,Broken/Repaired,Family,Renovations — blankenmom @ 11:50 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

 

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It’s been a long few weeks.

Someone… may, or may not have given themselves a concussion by smacking their head into the ceiling while taking cabinet doors down in the kitchen.  That same someone has also decided that really isn’t fun, and will be avoiding that in the future.

Once that drama was over, the second-born decided to do a repeat of his first summer camp, and broke his wrist at winter camp.  And this one too, will require surgery.  While I attempt to get records from one side of the state to the other, I’ll be picking out what I’ll be working on for my “Broken Wrist Project” to work on through all the appointments, surgeries and chaos.  For his last break, I made a *huge* blanket.  I’ll be scaling it down a bit this time I think?

 

 

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While his brothers were at camp, and we were all by ourselves, I realized that our fourth-born had been wearing the same shirt, for several days.  I know… ew.  How did I not notice this before?

Why?  Because he only wears red, short sleeved shirts.  That’s it.  Well, ok, pants too, but for his top, it’s always a red shirt, with a red sweatshirt.  It wasn’t until I noticed a stain that had been there a few days before that I realized how long he’d been wearing it.  When asked why he didn’t change he said “My clothes were all dirty.”  *sigh*  Apparently he’s never heard of a wash machine?

We went through his room and collected all of his clothes and frankly, it was time for some new shirts anyways.  We finished getting ready for church that morning and I realized that his sweatshirt was just as… um… gross.  Yup, definitely time for some new tops.

And this is when the battle began.  I told him it may be time at 14 (as of next week), that he wear more than just a red shirt every day.  A short sleeved, red shirt, to be exact.  He may have to branch out to a different color, or even a long sleeve.

He held his ground on this one, and was adamant that this wasn’t going to change.

 

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I had a choice I could make here.  In my still healing brain, and while I’m attempting to make doctors appointments and plumbing appointments (the pipes froze and burst in “that house” the same day as the broken arm) I could also argue with my youngest every day about putting on shirts he hates.  Or, I could just buy him all red shirts, and make sure he puts on a new one every time, and we both win.

Was this battle really worth it?  I mean the guy who runs Facebook wears the same exact outfit every day of his life and he makes like…. a gazillion dollars right?  So is this really where I want to make my stand?  Over red shirts?  I could be dealing with drugs, a freaky girlfriend, bad grades, a foul mouth.  Nope, my kid wants to wear red, short sleeved shirts every day.

And gosh darn-it, I’m going to let him.

We went to the craft store where they were having a big ol’ sale and bought him eight red t-shirts for $1.50 each.  One for each day of the week, and two for Sunday, so we’d have one for him to wear while we were washing the others.  I put the day of the week on the tag so we could make sure it’s a new one each day.

We went to the clothing store, and bought him one new red sweatshirt so we could wash one, wear one, and then trade the next week.

Some people may be rolling their eyes thinking I gave in.

I just knew when to pick by battles and save my energy for the big stuff.

 

….. I wonder if I could sneak a Star Trek logo on all of them?  Bwahaha!

 

 

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Switching colors February 6, 2016

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I promised I’d start to show some of my home improvement projects, and slowly but surely I’ve started getting a few pictures of the before’s before I managed to finish them.  One of the ongoing projects is replacing the electrical outlet and light switch covers and updating a few of them at the same time.

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One of the big perks to this project is that I can do this while the boys are doing their schoolwork since it doesn’t make much noise, and I can still be in the room with them to help.  Can’t say that about the air compressor!

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Our trim will be a darker wood against tan’ish walls, and with that, the cream plastic covers just weren’t going to do.  Once we put the new covers on, the cream outlets and light switches just wouldn’t do.  And after pricing the new colored outlets and light switches, there was no way we were going to replace our nearly 30 outlets and/or light switches for the whole upstairs.  (You really don’t realize how many you have until you start replacing them!)

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After doing a little research, I saw no reason why I couldn’t just spray paint them!  Safely of course!

And so I began my very slow process of spray painting all the outlets and light switches and staining all the new face plates.

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This is, of course, how the outlets and light switches started out.

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After taping out a basic template for both the outlets and light switches, I would tape them down, insert Popsicle sticks just barely inside (no electrocutions here please) and begin spraying.  You can use the same cover for each new outlet or switch that needs to be sprayed.

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I used a plastic spray for this, and it usually took about three coats to make it look just right.  Two coats with the “plugs” in, and one quick spray without them, but at an angle so the spray wouldn’t go into the plug-in, just get the edges.  As for the switches, you’ll have to do two with the switch up, and two with the switch down.  Just remember, light coatings or it takes for ever to dry and it’ll leave terrible looking drips.  (Notice I didn’t show you the ones I learned that on.)

The whole process usually takes about three days.  You can do more than one switch/outlet at a time by making more covers, or by removing the covers after a few minutes to use on the next one.

Also important, make the cover long enough to go down the wall to catch any drips from the spray can.  I’ve found that this company’s new spray nozzle clogs terribly and sprays wonky on occasion.  I now have a few paint touch-ups I have to go back to before I figured this out.

This is the end result.  The first two with the typical cream painted over, the next one is new fancy-schmancy dimmer switches.  I wasn’t about to paint over those at their cost! But since they were dark, I was ok with them remaining their own color.

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Some quick tips – let people know which ones you’ll be spraying ahead of time so they don’t blindly flick it on, and smudge the paint and paint themselves.  And do high traffic switches and outlets at night when everyone is asleep.  It will be dry by morning, and you can do the next coat the next night.

You may not like the colors I chose, but really, using the plastic spray, you can get just about any color you want to match your outlets, or walls, or your kiddo’s weirdest desire.

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.So far, with savage boys using the outlets and switches constantly, dogs tails and drool strings, I’ve only had to touch up one because *I* used it too soon.  Otherwise they’re holding up beautifully!  Someday I may go through and replace them with the actual, manufacturer colored, outlets and switches.  But for now, on our very tight budget, this works perfectly.

 

 
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