My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Surfing life’s waves January 27, 2013

Filed under: Broken/Repaired,Family,Hubby,Navy,Pets,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 10:00 pm
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I’ve been trying to blog for a week or so now, but without sucking everyone down with me into the weirdness that has been our life these last few months.  As things drag on with “that house”, the upcoming move…. the loss of the dogs…. and the appliances…. and the renters…. and doctors appt’s…. and now an unsure date for the return of my dentist man, I’m starting to even ignore myself.


I can either succumb to what seems like overwhelming circumstances, become bitter, mean and grouchy or I can do what the good Lord is intending and learn from all of this making me the awesome imp He’s been working towards for thirty-some-odd years now.


We all know that I’m dying to learn to surf (ok, maybe not dying but I *really* want to) so a surfing analogy works best for me to describe what has been going on in my head for the last month or so…. follow me please as we take a walk through the pictures in my brain.








I hold on to my board while the waves get bigger and faster as they come to me, knocking me off each time.  It get’s harder to pull myself up and out of the surf with the weight of the water and salt sticking to my burnt skin.  My tired muscles from pulling myself up over and over and the usually friendly sun, suck what little energy I have left with each wave.

With one last-ditch effort I pull myself up on my board and lay on it for a while, feeling the still frequent waves pass under me while I catch my breath during a lull in their strength.  I turn to see others in the distance still being knocked over, going under, walking away, leaving.  I could do this too.  It would feel so good to just walk away, mumbling under my breath that it’s all too hard.  I’m tired.  This isn’t fun any more.  The sun is too hot, the water too cold.  The salt is hurting my eyes.  There’s too many people.  The boards too heavy.  I have no one to help me.  There’s too many waves and they’re so big that I can’t see passed them.

I turn my head to look out into the surf and see someone riding a huge wave – they’re amazing!  Totally wish I could do that too – AND make it look so easy.  As they come in, they see me sitting up on my board watching, probably looking like a half-drown kitten.  They yell something to me, but I can’t hear them over my own discouraging thoughts and the waves crashing in around me.  Swimming over to me, they ask if I’d like a little help? 

Well ya!  I want to surf that way too!

We swim out to where the waves start.  Holding my board to keep my feet steady and shouting out just the right advice that seem’s to be exactly what I need to hear, the next wave comes.  With them holding on to me, this time, I glide – it feels so perfect!  All of a sudden the water feels satisfying against my salted skin again and the sun gives me energy like it did before.  I still shake, and wobble, even fall, but I hear their words behind me that tell me what to do next, to keep steady and holding out their hand when I need help up.  Not only do I have their advice – but they’re encouragement too!  They point out what I do well, what I could improve on.  They remind me how great the water is again.  

From this, I become more steady on my own, with each passing wave I feel stronger and more confident, but always referring back to those words, to this friend, to this time.  Knowing how to ride out the big waves makes the little ones seem so easy now and seeking out the next big wave, exciting – so I can learn something new.  

It wasn’t the waves, the ocean or the sun that had changed, it was me.  Becoming stronger and better able to see through the sting is what makes the ride worth while.

Knowing what I know now, when I see the others around me falling, struggling, going under, I will be able to swim to them and show them how to be steady through the strongest waves.  I can cheer them on.  It’s no fun to be on the water alone; I want to stand as many people as I can on their boards so we can share the fun back on the cool beach when the sun goes down.  With a beer in our hand, a fire in the sand and music in the background we can share our stories like warriors of the past.







Surf’s up!









Not *MY* child! January 13, 2013

Filed under: Family,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 12:16 am
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Oh, you remember when…



perfect mom1



……you were the best parent there was!

  • You knew how to get children to clean their rooms and to love cleaning their rooms.
  • You knew how to keep children quiet.  To sit perfectly in every situation.
  • You knew how to get your children to listen to your every word and obey, even when you weren’t there.
  • You knew how to get a child to eat the fancy meals that you liked, so they’d be cultured and intelligent.
  • You knew how to teach every child to read by 3, be a math genius by 4 and a master at your favorite sport by 5.
  • You knew how to keep your laundry done, no matter how many kids you had.
  • You knew how to get any stain out.


  • You would never have a yard that looked like that because your children would always pick up every toy when they were done.
  • You would never have a van that looked like that because you wouldn’t allow food in your car.
  • Your child would never behave that way because you know how to discuss things with children.


My all time favorite of a “never been a parent, but still the best at it” comment: “My child would never do that!”  (Btw – since you said that, that’s the first thing they’re going to do!)






I remember this when my boys were still very young.  Majority of my friends, family and people we were around hadn’t had children yet and I would hear all these and more, frequently.  It used to bother me until they started having children and it became entertaining.  All those things that they insisted would never happen or give me “expert” advice on – out the window!


This popped into my mind today as we were talking with a new mother as she was cleaning up a mess.  It wasn’t from her child, but from other children playing at the facility we were at.

“I can’t believe these kids.  They see the sign that says no kicking the ball and do it anyway?  I wouldn’t let my kid act this way?”

“Wait about 15 years and you’ll see.”

“Oh no – My son will not act this way, I know what I’m doing!”




Parenting reality is harsh man.  It takes no prisoners…..


Toys get left out.  Tantrums are thrown at the worst time possible in the worst place possible.  Food is thrown out because it’s “yucky”.  Sand thrown at the play ground, no matter how much you discuss being nice.  Words you’ve never used, come out of your child’s mouth – usually at the check-out stand.  Mystery stains show up and ruin entire loads….. that have been there for two weeks, because you’re still trying to find the weird smell coming from the room that hasn’t been cleaned since…. well, who knows?  Walls get colored on and fibs get told.  And french fries will show up at some point in time at the bottom of that car, because you just. need. some. quiet.






Now that my boys are older, I get to sit back and watch the people with younger kids tell me how to parent, and giggle.  Just as the grandparents get to sit back and giggle when I tell them my grand philosophy on parenting teenagers.  (I have none – I’m lost.  I admit it!)


So those of you with no children – enjoy your time in the sun as the perfect parent!

Those of you with small children – enjoy your time in the sun as an excellent parent!

Those of you with older children – enjoy your time in the sun as a good parent!

Those of you with no more children – enjoy your time in the sun and giggle at the rest of us!




“Teenager time” January 12, 2013

Filed under: Boys,Family,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 1:20 am
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It’s a curious phenomena.  Around the age of 12 or 13, children – better known at this age as teenagers, slooooooow toooooo a craaaaaaawl.  I don’t know why?  I don’t know what causes it?  And I don’t know how to fix it?


I’m quite sure I did it too, but I can’t remember it for anything.  Probably a good thing!


When telling my 17, almost 18-year-old son that we’re leaving at 9 am, he will wait until 8:55 to start getting ready.  Whether he thinks he can actually brush his teeth, shower, dress, pack and eat in those five minutes or he just doesn’t care that the rest of us are already sitting in a 30* car, I’m not sure?  But there we are….. sitting.


When telling my 14, almost 15-year-old around noon that I need the dishes done or he can’t play video games at 4, he waits until five minutes before and then barks at me that “the chore” is keeping him from his game time.


When asking my 12 1/2-year-old to get dressed, because that’s what normal people do on a daily basis, he has to read another chapter, punch his brother, find something to eat and then maybe, just maybe, he’ll get dressed.


And now, when asking my 10, almost 11-year-old to get ready for soccer, which should only take 10 minutes tops when everything is set out, I’m standing there at the door 40 minutes later wondering what the heck went wrong?  And why he’s walking out to the car with all his clothes in his hands so he can dress on the way there?  “What were you doing this whole time?”  








Recently my oldest needed to pay for his college classes.  They gave him two days to get it paid or he loses his spot.  He delayed until the last-minute and then finds out that the website closes early.  Now what?


“Mom, I asked you to do it!  Why couldn’t you get it done?”


My usually self-sufficient, well-behaved, energetic, bright son became whiny,  incompetent and unable to function in normal society?  And somehow the cause of his downfall is my lack of compassion and inability to move fast enough for him.


While I know this is normal and am fully aware of the humor in all of this, I just wonder how our civilization has survived to pass beyond the teen years?





There’s a pattern here (cutting through) January 5, 2013

Filed under: Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 11:46 pm
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Great – you’ve got your pattern all cut out from the original paper!


Now you can lay your newly traced pattern down on the fabric OR use your actual tissue if you don’t want to trace.  You can follow the layout in the directions or you can lay them so that they fit tightly on the fabric.  I find that the layout directions tend to waste a lot of fabric and I don’t have that kind of money to waste.  But if you’re nervous on your first try – definitely use them, we want you comfortable!  You do however, need to follow the grain lines and these are shown to you by the arrows on the pattern.  The pattern pieces need to all be going in the same direction and all in the correct direction (unless otherwise noted).  Usually from top to bottom.  *There are some patterns that will have you going side-to-side or diagonal, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.  For the most part, you’ll be going in this standard direction.



Making sure the grain-line lines up with the edge.

Making sure the grain-line lines up with the edge.



Make sure the patterns are as flat as you can get them on the fabric.  You don’t want any wrinkles, crinkles or rolls under them or you’ll cut the pattern incorrectly.




I would usually iron the fabric, but since these are pajama pants and the fabric is heavy enough to lay flat, I didn’t bother. It won’t affect the lay of the pattern in this case.



You’re now going to pin…. lot’s and lot’s of pin’s.  You want to pin parallel with your cutting lines, not against them and make a good attempt at making them straight (If your pins aren’t straight with each other, this will make your cutting less accurate because of the puckers it causes).  You’ll end up at some point in corners, you can choose which line you’ll go parallel with when you get there – not an issue!  Make sure to pin corners, curves and straight lines.  You’ll want to pin about 1-2 inches, so that when you cut and slightly lift the pattern and fabric up with the scissors, the fabric has a hard time moving and shifting.  Don’t pin over the little triangles on the cutting lines since you’ll need to clip those and cutting your pins is a bad thing!









Start cutting!  It doesn’t really matter which lines you cut first, at least in my experience.  As you go, keep the fabric as flat as possible.  Don’t turn the fabric to cut it, but move your body around the fabric.  Each time you move the pieces, it changes how the fabric lies under the pattern, even with the pins in.  When you get to a triangle, make a very small, but noticeable cut in it.  It doesn’t have to be the triangle, just a snip will do.  If there are two or three, make two or three snips.












Once you’re done cutting out each piece, you need to lay each piece to the side and move on to the next.  Make sure to keep the pattern on top of the piece of fabric you just cut out or you’ll forget which piece is what, especially with pieces like fronts and backs that look very similar.  If you don’t have enough pins to keep in the patterns AND to hold your fabric together later when sewing the other pieces, you can take all but one or two out – enough to keep the pattern attached.


Once the pieces are all cut out, you’ll need to go back and make the finishing marks.  Tailor tacks, washable or air dry markers or chalk are all perfect for this task.  Tailor tacks are free, washable or air dry markers and chalk all work very well – just make sure not to iron over them before they disappear and chalk works nicely if you remember to wash or dust off before ironing.  (I still have a bit of blue chalk on one of my favorite dresses because I ironed before I dusted the chalk off.)


When using a tailor’s tack, use contrasting thread.  Make a small loop in the fabric on the mark you need to show.  I tend to use tacks.  These can be cut out later once you’ve sewn everything together to your satisfaction.


When using markers or chalk, use the closest color to the fabric as possible that will still show up.  Markers will not work on darker fabrics however, which makes chalk a nice choice for them.  I have been known to use a matching color of marker on dark shades and just looked for the contrasting shade in the light.  Tailor’s will often use white chalk on dark colors and I will do this if I must, but I prefer to avoid it since the chalk can travel a bit.  Make sure if you’re using these that you mark the inside of your fabric!



Going left to right: Chalk "pen", tracing wheel and chalk paper, sharpie (only in the hem allowances!!), tailors chalk, tailors tacks.  I don't have any disappearing ink pens, but don't let that stop you from getting them!

Going left to right: Chalk “pen”, tracing wheel and chalk paper, sharpie (only in the hem allowances!!), tailors chalk, tailors tacks. I don’t have any disappearing ink pens, but don’t let that stop you from getting them!


*I will go over how to use these in more detail later on.


With all of these marks, make sure to get both sides of your fabric pieces.  Get boxes, dots, and fold marks, marked.


Now that you are done cutting and marking all your patterns, you can start to pin them together according to the pattern and sewing them together.


Hey, hey, hey – good bye! January 2, 2013

Filed under: Family,Pets,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 2:12 am
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Na, na, nana.  Na, na, nana.

Hey,hey, hey – good bye!








I am so glad the year is over – 2012 sucked…. rocks…. big time!

However, I did learn a few things…..

~ Bad things don’t always come in 3’s.  Sometimes they stockpile and gang up on you all at once.

~ Just because you try to make it a great time, doesn’t make it a great time.

~ Traditions can be broken.

~ Sometimes it is ok to cry.

~ Dog’s really can be sad.

~ Just because a town called “Highlands” doesn’t mean it’s above flood level.

~ Cleaning is very therapeutic.  So is alcohol and sex.  Neither of which I have gotten any of this year, so I guess it’s back to the cleaning.

~ Kids grow up faster than you can figure out how to raise them.

~ Being quiet is nice sometimes.

~ Turning the phone off for the day, can really mess with people’s heads.

~ Paying the bill and thinking you paid the bill are two different things.  Always check.

~ Deployment curses are real and evil.

~ Take kindness from strangers.  But don’t take their issues – we have enough of our own.

~ “It’s about quality of life.”


By working so hard to keep the girls around for Christmas, I had forgotten why I wanted them around for Christmas.  The piddling, the groaning, the seizures, the meds, all were starting to get to me.  The vet had said this last quote about 20 times, I’m quite sure he thought I was a complete dunce.  He finally gave me the look of “Hello!” and said it again.  OH…. you mean MY life, not theirs!  I was sacrificing my quality of life, to keep them going for a few more weeks.  And why?  That’s when I had to decide if it was worth it, and if it was – hush.  If not, let them go.  I decided to hush.


It was worth it.


How many times do we do this with our lives though?  Try so hard for something, that the meaning get’s lost?  Keeping the fancy car, the bigger house, the nicer clothes, but missing our family, working to keep those things.  Is it worth it?  Is the homeschooling worth it if it’s driving me nuts or do I just need to hush and enjoy it while I can?  Is keeping “that house”, this house, the carpets straight, the car clean, the grass perfect, and my hair brushed worth it?




This was a big lesson for me.  I think this is what I’ll choose to carry into the new year.


“It’s about quality of life.”





And just to let you know, the girls did both make it through Christmas, being the good girls that they are!  

The old lady dog passed on the 26th.  She’s in a far better place where her joints don’t hurt, she doesn’t piddle, the big dog isn’t there and the squirrels are slow.

The big dog took a turn for the worse after her sister passed and won’t be with us by next week.  She too will be in a far better place where there is no cancer, the water bowls are higher, couches are bigger and the squirrels are huge.  

They will be terribly missed.