My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Up in the air July 8, 2019

Filed under: Growing,Home improvement,Moving,Renovations — blankenmom @ 12:53 am
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A couple of years ago, I put in trellises for our raised garden beds.  My beds aren’t anything amazing, you can’t really get to fancy when you know you’ll be moving again, but for us, these are working pretty well.

I wanted something that even my 6′ husband could walk under, that was inexpensive and would accommodate changes.  With twine attached, this did all those things.

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However, the trellises were leaving something to be desired.  They kept flying away.

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We get pretty strong winds out here, and for the last two years at least one has been going down on a monthly basis.  Very frustrating.  After two flew away into the neighbors 20 acres and the 4th born and I had to run after them, I was done.

After constant repairs, readjustments, even bolting them down –  I needed to rethink the whole thing.

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These have been amazing!

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A little more than we had planned on spending, but, we can take them with us when we move and reuse them.

I’m very, very pleased with these so far after a couple of months of 40 mph winds – I haven’t had to catch even one!

If you’re looking for trellis idea’s for your garden, I highly suggest these.

At 4’11” I was able to pound the cattle fencing poles in rocky ground myself.  I was able to put the panels up myself.  The birds love them, and the plants are doing much better with these.

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How are your gardens growing this year?

 

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Time is relative July 1, 2019

Filed under: Church,Places,Random thoughts,What's happening — blankenmom @ 1:43 am
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This last weekend I helped a mom host a baby shower for her daughter.  She had never thrown one before, so I obliged, having thrown a few, and attended more than a few.

Keep in mind, I will give extra gifts to the expecting mom if she leaves me off the party list.  I genuinely do not enjoy these types of parties.  Give me a few friends, a quiet place and good food and that’s what I call a party.  I truly am not offended by not being invented if of course it wasn’t out of malice, in which case, you’re just going to get boring gifts – so there.

But I get her stress at trying to figure out the scheduling and invitations, and all that goes into one so I said of course.

Here is where things get more interesting…

Ok, the family is Mexican.  As in, straight up from Mexico.  And if you’ve spent even one event with a family of Mexican’s you already know, they’re going to be late.  And not like, 15 minutes late.  No, they’re going to be 1-2 hours late.  Usually two.  So when I was helping her get out the invites, I suggested giving them a two hour difference on their invitations, and she whole heartedly agreed specifically because we only had the room for two hours.

However, in all the chaos of the baby arriving very early, she forgot this step.

The baby shower turned into a “Welcome Baby” party, and the absolutely adorable 5 lb baby girl was adored by all!  Of course, mom arrived an hour late and new mom arrived an hour and a half late.  And all the guests arrived 15 minutes after that.  Leaving us with 15 minutes to swoon over yummy baby scent.  Thank you to the venue allowing us the room even after our time, since there were no more parties booked after us – that was awesome!

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I have a friend from Nigeria who is notorious for being 30 minutes late every where she goes.  During her cancer treatment, our bible study took turns taking her to her appointments.  Which in turn, also had the added benefit of getting her there on time.  “I’m on African time” she’d say in her thick musical accent.

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When we have parties with some friends out this way who are from various places south of the border, and a few of us North American’s, they will accordingly invite us all at different times.  We’ve had a good laugh over this –

White folks show up 15 minutes early.

Asians show up exactly on the dot.

Black folks show up about 30 minutes late.

Latinos show up 1-3 hours late.

Plan accordingly.

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For the first year we knew them we never met their family because we always left for church on Saturday night before their families even made it!  But once we got the schedules figured out, and we switched churches, those were the most amazing parties!

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The same was definitely true for the baby shower.  Once the waiting was over, for those of us who showed up 15 minutes early… or somewhere in between, meeting all their friends, trying out new foods, getting to hear their stories of how they know each other and them teaching about what their culture does with new babies, it was an excellent time.

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Every culture, and family, learns different customs.  It would be so boring to ignore them.  The more people I meet, the more interesting the world becomes.

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I was glad to be reminded of “African” time from my Mexican mom’s.  And see that time, is relative.

 

 

Getting …. stuff done! June 24, 2019

 

 

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I have honest to goodness, seriously been getting a ton of stuff done!  I mean, like, super duper getting things done!

Graduating children, of the male variety in our house of course.

Growing kittens to their maximum size – can we say giant kitties?!

Working on the house – which includes several new skills!

The garden of course – ’tis the season.

Teaching the last child to drive – (“But did you die” should never be the theme of a drive.)

I’ve gotten so much done, that I finally have things to post!  Good things!  Things you’ll actually want to see – ’cause they’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

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We’re at a pause, we can’t move forward with some of the bigger changes until the water softener is put it.  So… we wait.  Until then, I have time to set aside my hammer, nails, glue and bandages to finally sit down and type.

I’ll start with the simplest tonight.  The graduating third-born.

 

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At his graduation party at church, they asked for a small bio of each kid – this is a slightly edited version of his –

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“Harrison, middle name is after all three of his grandfathers. The third son of four. Our “Pooh-bear”. And known as his dad’s “mini-me”. He started his life the way he continued it – relaxed. Nearly three weeks late, he decided the night before induction that maybe he should in fact, make an exit and came out on his own. But what he lacked in promptness, he made up for in expedience. Something that continues to this day.

At 10 lbs even, he made a big entrance into our family. Over the next few years, his quiet and relaxed disposition, chubby smile, demand for exactness and the love of ALL foods made him stick out from his brothers. Often times making sure even his older brothers stuck to the rules, but also protecting what was his by any means possible – heaven help the brother that moved his toys from their carefully aligned position!

After discovering him hiding his toys, and food, in his diaper so no one else could touch them, he was given a rolling backpack that he was known for for years by anyone who knew him. Carrying it every where he went with all of the life possessions that any a small boy could ever need. Most notably – his snack and the Honey Baked Ham catalog he learned to read with. To this day he still protects his most prized possessions and favorite books, but on shelves thank goodness.

If you were to ask his four year old self to help out with chores you’d be greeted with a “sleeping Harrison” with his head tilted back and a fake snore – “Honk-shoo, Honk-shoo”. Today, he still has an uncanny knack to “not hear you” if necessary, but he’s also one of the first out the door to get his chores done.

As he got older and started to read something other than his catalogs, his love of learning leaped ahead of his brothers and he started school two years earlier than the rest. The only one to never argue about or skip an assignment, or send one back undone, he was a breath of fresh air to teach. He will gladly share his love of history, geography, languages and politics with anyone near. And will try just about any food offered for the sake of the experience.

While his insistence to be right can sometimes make you want to bang your head against the wall, his dimpled smile and soft hugs make all things right again.

He grew up in church, and going to church camps. But made his commitment the summer of 2015 getting baptized. Jumping into the lake with 100’s of people watching, with all his clothes still on – he was ready! Then he learned he could share his faith, and meet new people from around the world, and that’s when his faith really took off. His passion to spread the word has been ignited!

He’s a military brat from birth and has enjoyed, or not enjoyed, several places in the US. With each move, he quietly discovered the world around him.

As we watch him make his next move, this time on his own, we can only imagine what he’ll discover. Whether he decides on law, pastorship, military, teaching History, all of the above or something he hasn’t even thought of yet – what ever he chooses, his relaxed disposition, thirst for knowledge and ability to casually lead those around him will take him to places he could never imagine and we can only dream of.”

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He’ll be with us for a few more months – rent is high in our house.  But we’ll enjoy him while he’s still hanging out with us.

 

And while my dentist man and I chant “Three down, one to go!” I am also very well aware at how much I’m going to miss each and every one of them.  “The days are long, but the years are short” is all to true.  But we don’t discover that until it’s too late.  But with that said…

…three down, one to go!

 

 

 

 

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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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…

 

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Cross, to wild, blue yonder April 29, 2017

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

 

 

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