My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Softer side July 29, 2019

 

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When we bought our house, we used a VA loan.  They go through extra steps to ensure your house is sound.  Some people won’t sell to people using the loan because of it.  And honestly, sometimes the extra steps can seem a little crazy.

When they did their testing, they almost didn’t allow us to buy the house because of the water.  We didn’t understand it at the time, but soon figured it out.  They fixed the “stale” water issue with bleach before we moved in, but they were still on the fence due to the hard water issues.  We didn’t quite understand.

A few months ago I finally found a water softening company that would actually call me back.  (Nice to know business is so good, you can ignore phone calls.)  When they tested our water, it was 25/411.  For those like us, who those numbers mean nothing, the healthy zone is under 10/180.

 

WOW!

 

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Which would also explain why everything in our house is crazy crunchy.  Including our skin and hair.

We recently finished our spare bathroom renovation.  I turned on the water once to test the new fixtures and it stained it with that one use.  There was no way I was going to actually use my fancy new bathroom with this issue happening!

But that left me at an impasse.  We still have the kitchen and master bath to go, but then wouldn’t be able to use them.

For the last few months I scrimped and saved (kids don’t actually have to be fed right?), and Friday we finally got our water softener installed!  A surprise to my dentist man.  Part of his Father’s Day gift.  He’s been a dad a while.  We’re running out of idea’s.

 

So far it’s been interesting.  The first night our normally sweet tasting well water tasted more like the plastic water softener container.  That made us a bit worried.

They did tell us to use *a lot* of water over the next 2-3 days, a bit of a challenge since both of the boys remaining in the house left for the week.  But the fourth born did what he could before he left.

A few showers and dishwasher and laundry loads later and I’m glad to say the plastic taste is gone.  The salty taste still remains.  Not like, salt lick salty, more like… “is that salt I taste?”  But I think the only reason why we notice, is because we’re used to good flavored water.  Something a lot of people don’t have the luxury of.  We won’t be complaining.  (Our outdoor spigots aren’t connected, so if we’re really desperate for that sweet well water flavor, we can always fill our glass from there.)

 

I am happy to say though that our showers have been *amazing*!  As in, they felt so good we were a bit weirded out when the softened water finally made it through the system.  My dentist man came out of his first shower and said “The water feels slippery?  Slick?”

 

Well it’s water… of course it’s slippery?

 

I took a shower.  He was right.

 

So, can I say I would spend that much money for salty water again?  Yes!  Our dishwasher is already getting cleaner.  Our clothes are already coming out cleaner.  And my hair feels amazing!  And the fact that we didn’t know water was slippery says a lot about how long we’ve lived with the hard water.

 

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My entire next week will be spent updating the kitchen counter, sink and faucet (back splash will come soon).  Finally.  Do I know how to party or what?!

 

 

Floored July 15, 2019

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If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know that we’ve been attempting renovations for the last 6 years.

We bought our house knowing it would need massive updating from its original 1979/1980’s interior.  It was a challenge.  It was made even more of a challenge when “that house” started to take over reality.

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Reality fought back for control and we’ve started to actually get things done!

The family requested floors first.  (If I had to do it over again, it would be far, far lower on my list… like after plumbing.  Seriously.  Do plumbing first.)

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For 5 years, we walked around on subflooring.  And I have to admit, it started to grow on me.  You could spill anything and it didn’t matter.  I even started toying with the idea of just sanding it down a bit and leaving it.

Yeah, I was getting desperate.

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But we got a break after I quite work and had a little extra money left over to finally buy some flooring.  It took about a year to get it in, but… it’s in.  And it’s fantastic!

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Let’s start with the fact that we have two dogs.  Two dogs that NEVER leave my side.  Seriously.  If I leave the house, when I get home, they are up my keester.  The big dog actually left a nose print on my “crack” last week after I got home.

So, I had to do the floors creatively.

We’ll start off with the boards.  8 ft by 8″ pine from Lumber Liquidators.  They were amazing through the whole process!  We paid in installments and when I came to pick it up in my old truck, they had me call when I got home to make sure I made it all the way (an hour and a half drive in a truck with a broken speedometer.)  We wanted lots of knots and weird marks.  I would have preferred just boards, but they came interlocking.  We rolled with it.

The “stain” is coffee.  We used free coffee grounds from the local coffee shop.  (We’ll also be using it for the trim now too because we can’t get a good color match with actual stain.)  The darker you want the color, the more coffee “brew” you “paint” on.  Our floor took about 11 coats.  (The trim is taking about 13.)

The final protective coats were Tung oil and Waterlox.  I was trying to keep it as natural as possible since the pets would be on it all day long and we’d be smelling it for weeks before it dried.  I don’t have babies any longer, but it would be safe for them also.  Tung oil is what they used to use to waterproof boats.  It smells yummy!  Like chocolate.  So when I used D-Limonene to “water” it down for the first few coats it smelled like a chocolate-orange factory!  Fantastic the first few days, not so much after a month or so.  And finally Waterlox for the final two coats.  It’s not completely natural, but it’s about as natural as you’re going to get for durability and shine (along with it’s waterproofness for the big drooly dog!)  My dentist man wanted it “super shiney” as his only request and Waterlox has that!

I spent 5 years researching.  I am very satisfied with my choices.

To be honest though, I didn’t want perfection.  I wanted cracks between the boards.  I wanted scratches to happen.  I wanted discoloration over time.  I could have put on a few more coats for perfect protection, but I really didn’t want that.  I wanted an old, lived in look.  It was going to happen with any floor we put it, so we might as well make it a feature!

I picked underlayment that was recycled, “slightly” natural and helped cut down on the noise between floors.  A huge issue we have.

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Because of the dog/butt issue, I couldn’t just put the floor down and then stain it.  No.  No that would have been entirely too simple.

So, instead, I did 15 stained/coated boards at a time, and then tilted them up against any available wall.  ANY wall, while they dried.  Boards were everywhere.  The family loved it…not.  But they could at least see progress.

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I am VERY satisfied with the final product!  They turned out great!  And other than a massive flood in the bathroom, they’ve done perfect!  The dogs drool all over the floors, new kitten accidents, leaking plants, a leak in the kitchen, it’s taken it all without any issues.

The only thing I’d change – I wanted nails for the “authentic” look, but should have just put the holes in for the look instead.

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Our final touch, before sealing everything up, was of course…

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I managed to get two boys to let me paint chalk outlines of them before laying the underlayment.  It’s awesome – love my boys!

 

 

Just me September 23, 2018

Filed under: Boys,Dentist,Family,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 11:32 pm
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Picture this –

Me, pulling out of my long, multifamily, gravel driveway, onto the winding main road into town.  The road is 40 mph (64 kph), and we pull out behind a blind corner.

This is also the same corner that several car accidents have happened since we’ve been here.  I’ve called on two myself.  One guy clipped a power pole about 3 feet from the top.  Quite the sight to see.

For our neighborhood, besides the risk of getting hit when pulling out, these accidents cause power outages, which is frustrating because we can’t use our toilets (or anything using the well) when the power goes out (pretty much the only downfall to living in the sticks for me).  For the people living on that main road however, it could mean their fences, livestock, or even house or family could be taken out.

 

As I pulled out a few days ago, one of the people on this road jumped out from behind her fence to start screaming at me to slow down.  Looking down at my speedometer, I wasn’t even going the speed limit yet.  Actually, my ancient vehicle really can’t make it to the speed limit by her driveway, but I appreciate her faith in my van.

I fully admit, in my startled state, I stopped, turned around and may have exchanged word with her.  (No cursing!)  After she tried her best to insult me – calling me a young mother – at 42, I drove away.

After thinking about this though, I realized she did have a very valid worry.  She was however, going about solving it in a very poor way.  Causing another accident by scaring the pants off of someone probably isn’t what she was going for.

 

Here’s my bigger issue –

 

I realized after this happened that, on any given trip out of my house, I fully expect someone to either yell at me for some random thing, or expect me to explain myself for some random thing (that’s usually none of their business).

 

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Like what you say?

I’ve had a teacher yell at me for cheating, after she said I could ask for help.

I’ve been yelled at for asking for my child’s blood type.  “If you wanted to know who the father is, you need to pay for that yourself.”  (The pediatrician was NOT happy about this.  Same nurse later yelled at me because said child pooped while I was changing him.)

I’ve been yelled at walking my (very young) boys down the street to “Stop having kids” from a passing car.

I’ve had someone stop me and my (very young) boys so they could tell me what a horrible mother I was because one ran ahead of me, and threaten to call the police.

I’ve had a random person walk up and ask if all the boys are from the same father.

I’ve been asked if I was done having children while shopping for an oven.

I once had a customer ask about a recipe I make, and after I told them the recipe, they said they couldn’t make it because “they work”.  I literally had to check my outfit to see if I was wearing my uniform.  (Apparently working at a grocery store wasn’t actually “work”?)

I had a checker yell at me for taking too much of her time with the amount of groceries I had…  (that was seriously a weird one).

“You have to work and your husband is a dentist?  He must not be very good.”  (Someone who apparently thinks dental school and dental practices are free.  And who has never experienced a flood/bad renters… or, real life.)

 

This is just a *very* small sample of weirdness.

 

This can’t just be me, right?  Other people get yelled at randomly?  I know people say stupid things.  I know we ALL say stupid things.  But I seem to be a magnet for weird, bizarre, rude, intrusive behavior.

 

So what happened with the lady at the bottom of the hill?

 

I came back the next day with flowers and a note, explaining the situation better –

  • I dealt with the situation poorly, however… popping out to yell at people isn’t very wise.
  • I wasn’t even going the speed limit yet.
  • We have to speed up quickly so we don’t get hit from the blind corner.
  • It’s NEVER “young mom’s” causing the accidents, it’s dudes in their early 20’s (but I appreciated the compliment).
  • I wanted the problem fixed too, so I called the police to see what they could do to help the situation – they’re working with us now.

The comical sad part, was her sour-puss face and angry hands on hips as she stood behind her screen door, when I dropped them off.  I then realized she’s just not a happy person.  No note, or flowers can fix that.  But I’ve done my part.

 

As for myself, I refuse to let the sour-puss, cranky, rude, intrusive people of the world to make me the same way.

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But I could really do without the yelling…

 

What weird, rude, intrusive questions have people felt they needed to ask you?  Or things people thought were appropriate to randomly yell at you?  (Keep it clean please.)

 

 

A purrrrrfect way to end the summer September 9, 2018

Filed under: Animals,Family,Hubby,Moving,Pets — blankenmom @ 11:36 pm
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Among our other comings and goings of the summer, most of which all came in August, were a several sets of animals.

 

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Spare – the cat that adopted us, and helped ease out our much loved cat of 21 years, disappeared late last Spring.  Not uncommon where we live.  Coyotes, various eagles, large owls, skunks and other bigger, grouchier animals make it a dangerous life out here.  He was one handsome fellow – and an amazing hunter.

 

He is very missed.

 

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Sammie the Bearded Dragon – I was totally in love with this girl!  She roamed free around the house during the day.  Having a ton of windows paid off  with her – she sat in each one!  She got along great with the dogs.   And kept me company in the kitchen (not on the counter – lots of hand washing).  She came outside with us to do yard work and gardening.  Her favorite place of course was the open pasture outback of our house – where she was nearly impossible to find.  She was about 3-4 years old by the time we got her, and we had her about 6 months when she passed.  She died very happy I’d say though – running back and forth through the soaker hose out front.  Vet said is was just her time.

 

She is very missed.

 

Come August.  When we were scheduled to be gone every weekend.  (For people who rarely take trips other than to move, this was a crazy concept!)  A kitten popped out of our bushes near our house.  We looked for more, but none could be found.  We got ourselves a new cat!  One very brave little boy, about 4 weeks old, who adores the dogs, even if they don’t appreciate him quite the same way.  We had been himming and hawing over getting a new one; the cost, a 20 year commitment when the boys were going to be moving out soon, a smaller place in two years.  That sort of thing.  But we also had a major mouse problem thanks to the people behind us doing massive construction out in their field.  So, I prayed on it a bit.  Be careful what you pray for – God is a generous giver!

We left for a family reunion.  Big dog, little dog and new kitten in tow.

When we got back, we could hear at least one more little one in the bushes?!  And when I went to look – there were several bodies moving through the branches of our huge evergreen.  I bought a trap ASAP and first thing we caught was mama.  And BOY was she thrilled with this!  We didn’t intend to catch her first, but we rolled with it.

Mama cat will be getting fixed here shortly and released back into our yard.  Not friendly, but didn’t rip my face off either.  And she’s an excellent mouser, so we didn’t want to lose that.  She’ll be well taken care of as a “barn cat” on our property.

Two days later, two more kitties.  One boy and one girl.

Next day, two more kitties.  Two more girls.  One completely different than all the others, and the runt (runts are always my favorite).

That evening, the dad.  We’d never seen him in our yard before – stealthy big guy!  And we had no intention of catching him, seems as how we didn’t even know he was there.  But he was promptly fixed the next day by our awesome vet and released back into our yard.  Hey, we need all the help we can get with those mice!

 

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While all this was happening, we needed to leave again for the weekend.  The thought of spending two nights in a hotel room with two dogs and five kittens was just a bit much, and we couldn’t call off our trip.  We managed to find some poor kid at the very last minute to come watch the whole herd without so much as a plan!  “Just keep everyone alive until we get back and can figure out what to do with them.”  And he succeeded.  He even picked up the dad cat from our vet and released him for us, and found a home for one of the kittens.

One geriatric mastiff, one asthmatic pug, five 5 – 6 week old kittens, one ticked off mama stuck in our garage, and one probably not so happy dad.  All still alive and (mostly) happy.

Not bad for a 16 y/o!

I’ve never seen my husband become such a moosh before?  But really, five puff balls are hard to resist!  (Unless you have allergies.)

But if we’re going to be honest, four remaining cats is a bit much.  Especially when we move to our studio in a few years.  So we’re looking for homes for two.  In the middle of “kitten season”.  No worries – they will be taken care of no matter what.  Like I said, we need “barn cats”.

 

Instead of a mouse problem, we have a kitten problem.  Which is not too bad of a problem to have.

 

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Our trips are over.  School has started back up.  Pitter-patter of tiny paws can be heard all over the house.  And not a mouse to be found.

Not a bad way to end the summer!

 

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Not proud or anything July 23, 2017

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

 

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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.

 

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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.)

 

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Busy doing nothing June 7, 2017

 

 

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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.

 

 

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I love being busy doing “nothing”.

 

 

 

 

….aaannnddd I’m back. February 11, 2017

 

 

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“From where?” you may say.  From working outside the home 30-40 hours a week, on top of babysitting our mortgage companies antics – away from my boys and all that keeps me, me.

Not to say I didn’t enjoy my work – I have a secret – I LOVE WORKING!  And there lies my problem.  I love working so much, that I tend to over due it.  Family… what family?

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So, after 6 months, and the majority of our repair bills paid off (would have been more if Seterus would stop screwing up our mortgage… but I digress..), I’ve come home again.  And four hours after being out of work, I was going nuts!  But that’s ok.  I had plans….

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…two days after that, I sprained my wrist severely on our lovely, lovely ice/snow/ice combo.

*There goes my plans*

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I enjoyed my very active job.  I enjoyed helping people feel better.  I enjoyed helping them find what they needed.  And I enjoyed “owning” “my section”.   I loved my co-workers, and most of the people I met.  (I’m talking to you crazy woman who commented on my parenting skills!)

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Beforehand I thought God had given this to us just at the right time to give us the extra cash we needed to get these bills paid off.  But I started to realize He gave it to me at this time to help tire me out.  Spin my wheels a bit.

I’m a doer.  A fixer.  I want something; I make it myself.  I want something done; I get it done myself.  And I keep trying to fix this problem myself.  The last few years though, I’m slowly starting to get that I can’t.  I have to give it to God – AND LEAVE IT.  And for someone like myself, that. is. excruciating.

Yes we got some extra cash to pay down the repair bills, but He threw in a few extra kinks to show me that there will always be something, if I allow it, to keep me from enjoying my family and the life He’s set out for us.

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And my plans for getting the whole house cleaned and the renovation started back up, got kicked out from under me with a sprained wrist.

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*ARE YOU FINALLY READY TO REST AND GIVE IT TO ME*

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What my bible study ladies, my dentist man, and God have all been trying to tell me for a very long time.

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And as I’m arguing…. eh er… praying this morning in frustration over not knowing our next step.  What I should be doing.  Feeling like a flopping fish out of water.  My daily bible verse showed up.

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Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

– Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
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Ahhh… I love it when that happens.
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Will it be easy for me?  Oh heck no!  But it is the guidance I was asking for.
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Sometimes doing nothing, takes the most strength.
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So, I’m back.  There will be sewing again.  There will be renovating again.  There will be comical stories about my insane family again.  A few life lessons thrown in between there again.
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And thank you for your patience, again.
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