My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Not proud or anything July 23, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Church,Family,Hubby,Military,Navy — blankenmom @ 9:56 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

0618172044-1[1]

 

After finally fully recovering from the excitement, not only from my first trip on my own, but seeing my second-born graduate from basic, I can finally boast… eh er… post about it.

 

After our three conversations totaling 30 minutes over six weeks, it was nice to just see him again without interruption.  He graduated from the same place his dad did, 20 years ago, but his dad wasn’t able to revisit due do his own military duty.  I missed my dentist man’s graduation, so it was great to see what he did too, but from what I hear, the ceremony is a bit different now.

 

TWT 2017

 

First-things-first – after the first and second days ceremony, you have to go out onto the field to “tap out” your graduate.  That means, finding someone who may or may not have completely changed, AND all the men look the same with shaved heads and uniforms!  On top of that, there were two recruits with the same last name.  So, walking through the whole crowd of graduates and families, all taller than I am, looking at name tapes for matching last names and then looking under their pulled down brims probably entirely too close for their comfort, to find the one you hope is yours… tapping them on the shoulder so they can relax.  THE ONE YOU HOPE IS YOURS!  Otherwise you’re tapping some random person!   Not that they might mind, that means they get to go relax… maybe I should have just “tapped” random people – bwahaha!

(After feeling horrible for several days, picturing my husband standing there at his graduation, without anyone to “tap him out”, I sheepishly asked him about it, and told him how sorry I was for not making it.  “We didn’t do that?  Sounds stupid.”  Oh thank heavens!)

Just in case you were worried – they do the buddy system.  Anyone who didn’t have family to tap them, their buddies came and got them.  No one is left behind!

 

Watching the pomp-and-circumstance was neat, and he was excited that so many important people happened to show up to his graduation.  Including the governor of Texas and the head of the Air Force.

 

0616170926a

 

That weekend ended up being incredibly hot – that Saturday topping out at 118*.  And of course that’s the day we picked to go to Six Flags.  We didn’t last long.

 

The San Antonio river walk was amazing – unfortunately I have no pictures.  Heat and humidity apparently don’t help old phones work well.  Which also made for some comical directions.  The guys weren’t allowed out of uniform, so while we enjoyed our walk, we also enjoyed the wonderful people giving all the newest graduates their thanks and congrats.

He showed us his dorms.  It was the first time in 19 years I’ve ever seen his bed made.  We did all the touristy things.  He enjoyed some local go-cart/race track time with his fellow graduates.  And lots of food!  We just basically ate where ever we went.

 

My favorite part of the whole trip – Sunday church service.  (No pics allowed)

This is everyone’s one hour of rest per week.  Where they don’t get yelled at.  Where they get to dance, or just relax a bit.  They get sat according to their weeks in, different services (this base trains all services), and graduates and their families.  Every week they call the groups out by week, service or graduates – and that group sounds off with a big “WHOOOP”.

And then they worshiped.  Marines, lifting their hands in praise.  Three weekers dancing in the pews.  Army guys in front of us, on their knees saying their prayers.

I loved every minute of it!

 

And then it was time to go.

 

He’s currently at tech school, where his dad and I had our first apartment together.  And then off to two other bases for training before his final duty station, where he’ll be diagnosing problems to be repaired for F-35’s.  He’s loving it so far.  Well, he loves most of it.  No one enjoys a 6:00 am death-by-power point, or 3:30 am workouts.

 

Here’s the deal though, less than 2% of the US population has ever joined the military.  Knowing someone who has been, or is in the military, may not even be something people do on a daily basis.  Him signing up, even if he hadn’t made it through, made me proud.  It’s not everyone who understands that it takes a big person to give up their attitude; their ability to be in control.  That takes a lot of self control – a lot of strength, to willingly give up, even temporarily.

So am I proud – heck yeah!  I’m proud of my husband, and my son (and hopefully a few others in the future).  They proved just how strong of men they are, not only possibly handing over their lives, but also by allowing someone else to be in charge, at least temporarily.

 

Plus… they just look so good in their uniforms, don’t they!  (Totally not biased.)

 

0616172107

 

Mostly staying out of trouble July 15, 2017

 

0219171221~2

 

It’s summer – my favorite season!  I really do enjoy them all, but summer means three months of goofing off.  And by goofing off I mean doing projects without having to stop to grade schoolwork, or getting to take a trip without changing due dates.

 

This summer, after three years without flooring, we finally brought it home.  It’s acclimating to our home still, but it’s home.  2000 lbs in the back of a 30 year old truck for an hour and a half on a 100* day was a bit comical, but the truck came through!

 

0626171204a

 

We’ve decided to color the pine with coffee.  It’s the only thing that provided the color we wanted.  As of right now, we’re trying to decide between polyurethane or shellac.  With the dog drool however, I think the poly may win out.

 

A couple of side projects that I’ve fit in between the our other engagements –

 

0709171719

 

A bird that had made it’s home in a flower pot out front had hatched its chicks and left it’s home behind.  It was so perfect, I couldn’t just toss it.  So it is now home to some plants I’ve been nursing back to health from last year.

 

0706171854

 

This box, sadly, has sat in my bedroom holding random construction items to be tossed, for about 2 years.  I don’t even remember what I used the stuffing for?  But I got tired of looking at it and one morning, decided it needed to be upgraded.

 

0711170937

 

And so, I got to work upgrading it.  It got another plant pot up off the floor and can be used for storage.  Even better, that ugly box is gone.

 

I’m also working the kinks out on the trim – I should be able to post a few pictures of our soon-to-be trim by next week!  But so far, it’s just a lot of saw dust.

 

Summer is definitely the busiest time of the year around here.  And I only have a month left to get my plans done.  But I love the whole thing – even the limited time.  Lack of time, just like lack of money, often makes a person that much more creative.

 

 

 

 

Busy doing nothing June 7, 2017

 

 

IMG_3321

 

 

School for us ended last week.  In typical fashion we ended with one child finishing at the very last moment.  1:00 am, on the final day.

These are my final two – one becoming a sophomore and one a junior, but heading off to college (not uncommon in our state – and something his oldest brother did also).  So I’m down to one.  I’m sure he’s thrilled at the prospect of being the only one left for me to hover over.

 

With their “finals” done for school, and the third-born done with testing for college entrance, I am off on my summer schedule.

 

Redecorating the clinic I volunteer at.

Renovations coming along quite nicely (picture coming soon… it’s a looooong tedious project I’m working on).

Some summer schooling (I don’t want them going brain-dead after all that work).  But it’s a light schedule.

Getting ready for the third-born’s mission trip to Costa Rica this summer.

Camp.

Family reunion.

Two-week-tour.  (In Hawaii… ppffffttttt – that’s camp!)

And, of course, my trip to see the second-born’s graduation from basic next week!  Eek! Not only do I get to see him follow in his dad’s footsteps, but it’s also my first trip alone.  I am both looking forward to it, and nervous.

 

So much to do, and only three months to fit it all in.   Along with all the usual stuff like yearly testing, working on the quilt still and babies showing up at the end of the summer.

I am enjoying the weather, and the schedule.

 

 

Office photo

 

 

I love being busy doing “nothing”.

 

 

 

 

Cross, to wild, blue yonder April 29, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Family,Military — blankenmom @ 8:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

 

easter-cross-sky-M56707

 

 

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster around these parts.

 

Happy (late) Easter, btw, for those of you who celebrate it.

 

We had a nice dinner at home with double the amount of food I normally cook.  Which is double the amount of a normal family.  It was gone within hours by the three sons home and one husband.  Can’t complain though – must have been good!

 

The weekend that followed found the second born and myself getting the last bits of his life put together before we shipped him off to Air Force basic.  And I swear – if I hear one more civi tell me “Oh, it’s just the AF.  My cousins, brothers, sisters, fathers roommate was a Marine, and theirs is much, much harder.”  I will have to start shouting “Yes.  I know it is.  The Air Force isn’t looking for brute force, they’re looking for brains.  And unless you want to sign up yourself, shut-it or give them props for doing it for you.”  ... did I say that out loud?

I took him in to the same MEPS station I took his dad to 21 years ago.  There is just something very strange about hearing the same thing, but with your child.  You also get treated very differently as the mother, than as the wife.  Short of the bag check at the door, I knew the routine.

 

And no, he won’t be flying a plane.

 

It’s also the first time since he was four, that I went grocery shopping without having to arrange entire meals around his diet, read ingredient lists, and budget for specialty foods.  I was a bit lost.  Hopefully the next trip will go a little smoother.

For basic he’s just sucking it up.  He’ll be fine.  Grouchy, but fine.  He’d be grouchy anyways though, so no one will even notice.

 

The paperwork given to me said he’d be calling in two weeks with his address.  The day his plane landed he said he’d be calling in three days.  The first day in, he called and my first thought when I saw who was calling was “Oh no… he broke his arm.”  Just the address.

 

The rest of the week has been a lot of catch up after the last two weeks.  Work on the quilt, planting the seeds for the garden, knitting up a baby gift, and a few home projects.  Tomorrow we’re taking his bed down.   Makes it sort of final, in a good way.

 

Readjusting to a new life, is our life in this family.  Glad we’re used to it.

 

 

0510161324

 

 

 

Bottled up April 11, 2017

Filed under: Boys,Made by me,Sewing,Simplicity — blankenmom @ 2:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

.

.

20170410_234213

.

.

I promised a review on the new batting I got this weekend, but a snag (pun intended) delayed it a bit.  Snag removed, review presented.  (And yes I know that me being so excited over batting makes me a huge nerd… I’m ok with that.)

.

The person I’m making this quilt for works in a laboratory “knocking up ocean animals” (slightly cleaned up) as she once said.  (Her company helps ocean animals.)  Needless to say she cares a lot about the environment.  The ocean environment specifically.  So when I was putting her quilt together, I thought it would be great if I could find a batting with that in mind.  One that was made of recycled plastic more specifically.  You know, the kind they find floating in the ocean, or stuck on ocean animals?  Yeah, that kind.

Don’t get me wrong.  Plastic has it’s purpose, just not floating around.  Its much better tossed in the recycling bin after it’s use.  Less garbage to pay for too!

Low-and-behold there are actually a few companies out there that make it!

.

.

 

batting

 

.

.

You can look up recycled batting and find a couple of companies, or go to Amazon.  I got this one at Joann.com on discount (they always have some sort of coupon).  Unless you have a larger quilt store in your city, you’ll only be able to buy this online.  Even Joann’s doesn’t sell this in their store, and I have no local quilting stores nearby, so buying local isn’t an option unfortunately.  Maybe if more people start buying it?

.

According to one of the companies, the size that I bought 90 x 108 inches (229 x 274 cm) saves approximately 20 bottles.

Ok, not a huge amount, especially with just one quilt, but if more quilters and more quilt companies start using it, it could save a lot more.  And the price difference isn’t much more that buying the cotton.

.

.

20170411_002427

.

.

Ok, enough with the greeny stuff, how does it feel?

.

.

20170410_234411

.

.

I will admit, I’m more of a cotton girl, so I wasn’t expecting much with the feel.  I have the standard polyester batting that I loath, but use when I know the blanket won’t be used often or will be used outside.  And I do tend to use it with baby blankets.  Mostly because the poly won’t hold smells and liquid quite as well.  And lets face it, baby blankets rarely get used for family heirlooms, so I don’t want to add cost where it isn’t necessary.

So when I opened the package and this batting was actually soft and smooth I was very, very surprised!  It felt nearly as silky as the cotton.  It still catches on any rough spots though, which makes it a little tougher to work with if you don’t have baby-butt soft hands.

It’s still a bit thinner/fluffier than the cotton, more like the poly, however, it is a lot stronger than the poly when I tried pulling on it.  I’ve had far too many poly quilts and blankets pull apart inside, no matter how closely I tie it off.  It just can’t hold up to the abuse of a family of all boys – it’s just not cape/parachute/fort/tug-o-war/stair-sledding/whipping/climbing material I guess?  Go figure!

.

This would be great for outside blankets because it won’t hold water or mold like cotton, but will hold up to the elements better than the poly.

.

From what I can tell, this is the only thickness it comes in.  Low loft, which I believe is about 1/4″, so if you’re looking for thicker, you’ll have to double up.  And working with it so far is a bit more like the poly when putting in the stitches.

.

.

20170410_234356

All of these are considered “low loft”.

.

.

I will definitely be using this again.  I still prefer my cotton, but when I need to use the poly, I’ll be getting this instead.

.

.

Now… on to the next step we go!

 

Two down… May 23, 2016

 

 

IMG_20160523_00011

 

 

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.

 

 

IMG_20160523_0001

 

 

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

 

 

IMG_20160523_00014

 

 

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.

 

IMG_20160523_00013

 

 

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!

 

Michael 1

 

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!

 

 

0520161122-3

 

 

 

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!

 

 

0520161126a-3

 

 

 

 

Get growing! May 14, 2016

 

0510161324

 

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?

 

0507161236

 

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!

 

0510161254b

 

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.

 

0512161744

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.

 

0512161705

 

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!