My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

5 feet and several thousands under water May 13, 2017

 

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We get a lot of phone calls for “that house” from companies wanting us to renovate or do something new.  Our usual response being “Well, we hate the house, we’d like it to burn, but we like our renters and don’t want them dead, so… no, we don’t want (insert their product), thanks!”  Their usual reply is a laugh, “Gotcha – thanks!” and that’s the end of it.

The last company that called, all I heard back was “You don’t want your renters dead?”

 *EGADS*  

That’s all she got out of that?  I guess we won’t be using that one again.  I’m on some watch list now I’m sure.

 

I have great news… sort of?

 

We’ve been told “that house” has finally broken even, which means we could, possibly, maybe, sort of, *shrugs* sell it?

It’s weird though.  For ten years, this has literally been on my mind almost constantly.  Sad, I know.  But when you’re losing more than the house itself costs, and you *cannot* afford to just walk away (plus, we don’t think that’s ok unless you **really**, really can’t keep it any longer), and your previous renters have been dirt bags to the extreme (they left people poop in buckets ya’ll) it becomes this looming beast over your head.

We got in touch with our favorite realtor man who gave us our most recent, most epic renters; I mean, they pay on time, don’t do drugs, don’t bug the neighbors and, as far as I know, haven’t stolen anything from the house – I mean c’mon – can you get better than that?  He says the market is slightly turning in our favor, even though the house is built 5 feet below sea level two blocks from the ocean (seriously, what THE heck!) and may be a tough sell.  Ya think!?

While I hate to do this to our amazing renters, we need this.  We need this so bad.

 

Here is my bigger problem.

 

I am developing a relationship with this house like an abused spouse.  Not making light of those situations, but honest-to-goodness it is the best comparison I can make.  Realizing we could actually be done finally.  I started panicking.  The thoughts of what could go wrong, how much will *this* cost us, OMG’sh I think I may actually be too beaten down to go through this!  (If you’ve ever bought/sold a house on the east coast… you feel my pain – it’s crazy!!)

What do you do when you’re so tired of something slowly killing you, that you’re too tired to even stop it?

 

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The realtor has been amazing so far.  He lets me freak out.  He makes sure the paperwork is done.  He talks me down out of my panic.  He may not fully understand, but he does a great job of faking it.  And right now, that’s what I need – just little nudges, or maybe a giant push, off the cliff to get things going.

 

Now to hopefully get our ending started…

 

Light-at-end-of-the-tunnel

 

 

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Sitting…. February 18, 2017

Filed under: Broken/Repaired,Family,Knitting,Pets,Sewing — blankenmom @ 8:16 pm
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After severely spraining my wrist two weeks ago, I was told not to use it, or at least as little as possible, for three weeks.  “No sewing, no knitting, no renovations, very little housework or walking your dogs on leash.”  (I was walking them when it happened.)

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Well why not just shoot me now!  Let’s add no breathing to that list too.  Sheesh!

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So… here I sit.  Bored out of my ever living gourd and driving my family nuts.  The two remaining at least.  Two went very happily to camp for four days.  The other two poke their head into my sewing room every few hours to make sure I haven’t started smacking my head against the desk in boredom.

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I give a shout out to the ladies put on bed rest for months – I am losing my mind!

All my plans for deep cleaning.  Getting back on track with the renovation and my sewing machine humming again.  Making the dogs a new fluffy bed.  Gone.  Here I sit.  Staring at YouTube, Pinterest and Netflix.  Window shopping yarn, fabric, pattern and remodeling stores.  I officially loathe them all.

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The grey soggy skies slowly melting the still foot deep, now slushy snow.  Not even the sun to cheer me up, or the sparkling clean snow to look at.  Just the repeated dripping off the roof.

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And on top of that – sitting apparently makes me tired.  Which then makes me even grouchier.

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I think I heard my dentist man talk about leaving to his practice early tomorrow?  And the second born has asked to go with him?  Pffftttt – wusses!

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Apparently I’m not a good sitter.

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…one more week to go.

 

Battle lines October 9, 2016

 

 

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*Sigh*  I know, I know it’s been a while; to be honest, I’ve been too exhausted to do much of anything as of late.  When I left you last, I had just been hired to work for a grocery chain (to remain unnamed, but they are pretty awesome) in the natural department – right up my alley!  Between the wonky schedule (I work 2 am – 10 am’sh some days, and others 4 pm – 10 pm’sh… but it’s a job, so I don’t complain) and sometimes long hours – this schedule is not conducive to good sleep, or creating an over abundance of extra energy.  Along with continuing renovations, homeschooling, a few more sewing projects and time at the clinic, there is little down time.  But, they work around our school schedule (thank you boss man!), and it’s only temporary until we get the last of the repair bills for “that house” paid off.

 

*I can sleep when I’m dead.*

 

But what prompted me to sit for a few minutes between laundry, ironing, chores, reminding children of their chores, plotting dinner and the Dave Ramsey class my dentist man and I are about to leave to…

…the pastor said something that caught my attention this morning.

 

~ Fight for, not against ~

 

Hmmm….

Back during WWI and WWII the generals knew that their men would fight harder, if they knew what they were fighting for, as opposed to what they were fighting against.  After all, you knew what your mother, sister, wife/girlfriend, country looked like, smelled like and felt like.  What does the enemy look like?  What do they really believe?  Are they really that bad?  But, if you could tell those boys that their families were at stake, you could bet they’d fight twice as hard, against who ever, or what ever they were told the enemy was.

 

Since we moved into “that house” in 2007, I have been fighting various battles.  Between neighbors that decided they didn’t want us there, borough workers that agreed, judges and police chiefs that were too lazy, or too corrupt to do their jobs for everyone equally.  Government that enables, someone else’s drug habits, and insurance companies that didn’t want to cover… anything.  Or mother nature herself – that wench!

To be fair, there were many people through this that were amazing – and they are still helping us fight these battles!

Today’s words in church made me pause though – I’ve been completely exhausted working to clean up the mess brought on by other people’s mistakes (and a few of our own).  I’ve been fighting for a house I loathe, in a town that has repeatedly shown me they didn’t want us there.  I have been fighting against them for far too long.  I’m tired.  I really want to be done.

But… what if I fought for it?  What if I fought for my family?  Fought for the town?  Fought for a real change?  Fought for our future?  Such a small change makes such a huge difference!

So much easier to work for something, than against it!

 

Are you fighting against alcoholism, or fighting for your future ?

Are you fighting against depression, or fighting for your health?

Are you fighting against divorce, or fighting for your marriage?

Are you fighting against corruption, or fighting for honesty?

 

When you are for something, you have a future, hope and something to dream of.  When you fight against something, you just have a struggle.

 

This worked perfectly with the bible study we recently finished about the Armor of God.  Using our armor – fight for what God has given us, not against what the enemy has put in front of us.

The battles will never go away, but we can fight them in the right way.

 

So…

…what are you going to stop fighting against, and start fighting for?

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
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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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Freaky Friday October 24, 2015

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This Friday was a bit more eventful for me than most.

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Every week day morning is usually the same, like most peoples, while the rest of the day usually goes wherever it decides, but usually pretty laid back.  Friday started out pretty normal.  Get up, take second-born to his tech class, come home.  Take the dogs out, bible study, shower, yadda, yadda, yadda….

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Once I left to go pick him back up, that’s when things got weird.  At the end of our collective driveway, at the bottom of the hill, there are several tree’s blocking the view left and right and another dirt road, with a “major” street between.  To the right is a rather large, sharp corner.  As I slow down and approach the cross street to turn left, a car from the right *literally* flies passed me.

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When I say *fly* here, I mean, it was about 20 – 30 ft off the ground, and going right towards the top of the power pole across from me.  The driver’s side of the car takes out the top of the power pole, flips right-side-up and the two drop to the ground.  Having cleared the fence around the hay field on both sides, the car sat there, smoking and sad.  Parts dropped around it, tires squashed and pushed out, and the top mushed flat.

After my initial shock at what just happened, and my exclamation of “HOLY SHITZPA” (apparently I become Jewish when in shock?), I begin calling 911.

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Cars are now starting collect to make sure everything is alright and that no one drives through the now downed power lines.  Amazingly, the guy opens the door and walks out.  *He walks out!*  Not even a scratch!  I watched this car do two flips in the air and drop from the height of a power pole, and not a scratch on him!

Having gotten the call in to the police, and see that he is fine, and taken care of, I ask permission to go get my son.  After telling my husband once we got home, we realize that they way the corner comes around, he should have landed exactly where I stopped when I saw him flying.  Some way or another, after he hurled around the corner, instead of going straight to the left as he should have, his car flew off to the right, into a pole instead.

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I was feeling very lucky, safe, and protected.

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So hey, why not take your sons out for a drive?  Sure, why not!

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I’m on my second and third driver.  I’m “seasoned” at this point.  No problem.  Except that the second-born likes to go fast… in our mini-van.  And the third-born seems to just not have the knack for this whole driving thing.  The first two seemed to get it, short of a minor few “Don’t pull out in front of them again” moments.  My third-born just doesn’t have this.  When taking him out, I feel more like I’m in a National Lampoon movie.  Herky-jerky, grabbing the steering wheel to save on coming traffic, a few tears – usually his, and mystified at how one can’t turn a corner without tipping?  However, he is progressing.

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Our drive was to and from the tutor’s.

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The second-born get’s to drive to the neighborhood she lives in because he’s ready to be out with other people now.  But as we pass the police officer going 10 miles over the speed limit, I hear “Oh crap – I should probably slow down?”  Ya think?  And no, you slamming on the breaks wasn’t noticeable at all by him.  *rolls eyes*  And then proceeds to speed back up to round the corner with those lovely squealing noises he thinks are requirement for good drivers..  “It wasn’t *that* fast mom!”

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*Switch*

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It’s the third-born’s turn now.  He does great through the neighborhood, ok, good… well, we didn’t hit anything, until we get to the cul-de-sac.  It’s gravel.  At the top of a hill.  And facing the sun.  We progress around the turn, the whole time with me telling him to slow, Slow, SLOW!  I realize we’re already sliding sideways on the gravel and now have three options: Slam into a cement and metal electrical box, taking out everyone’s power and the front of the car.  Go over the side of smallish cliff.  Or go hurdling down the street at breakneck speed, taking out a few cars and possibly a house.

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Lovely.

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I go to grab the steering wheel to attempt control of the car (parents don’t get a break pedal) and take the closest, safest option, when he finally figures out the break pedal.

Don’t get me wrong – I love a good cookie in the car.  One that’s planned, not near a steep drop off and not when death is an option.

We finally slide to a stop, now on our second turn of the cul-de-sac.  I turn to look at his brothers in the seats behind us and their eyes were the size of cookie we just made in the gravel.  Not a word was said.  Silence.  I turn to the third-born to calmly *I swear* explain the difference between slamming on the breaks – causing sliding, and gently slowing.  Neither of which mattered I guess, since he was actually pressing on the gas for most of it.  Only hitting the break at the very end, sending us into our final, glorious tail spin.

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Very much, not my day.

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We turn the car towards home, looking down the hill we’re about to go down, and take a collective deep breath in hopes that the third-born get’s the whole idea of going slowly.

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Oh, but we’re not home-free yet.  We still have to pass through the electrical repairs from the earlier wreck.

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They have flaggers out controlling the traffic.  In my homeschooling, drivers-ed mind I think “What an excellent learning moment!”  (Apparently I have lost my blooming mind!)  We wait for the first of the three flaggers to tell us we can go.  We pass all the electrical trucks no problem and I tell him to “Eek out into the street.”  Eek is a technical term for “Don’t peel out” btw.  

We “eek” up to the stop sign, no problem.  And that’s when the two other flagger’s, left and right, tell us we can proceed, which ever way we’re going to go.  I tell him “Go.”  Nothing.  Flagger’s begin to wave more emphatically.  “Go!”  He slowly rolls forward.  Flagger’s are about to lose their arms as they fling them wildly as cars are piling up in all three directions.  “Son GO!”  He peels out on the gravel, spraying the workers behind us with rocks, making a small squeal as we crossed the paved road on to our drive, where he is now spraying the other two flagger’s with gravel from our side.

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*sigh*

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A glass of wine is acceptable on a Friday early afternoon right?

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Not feeling like we should end that way, I let the other two boys out at the house and take another quick trip around our property, to let him end on a positive note.

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If you don’t hear from me next week, it’s because I’ve died.  Either from a plunge off of a cliff, a mail box impaling, or fright from no break pedal of my own.

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In all, we ended safe and sound, and knowing what we’re going to work on for the next week.  My freaky Friday left me feeling very blessed that my guardian angel is, in fact, faster than my teenagers.

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