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?

 

train

 

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

 

 

 

Scewed perspective March 7, 2017

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no parking

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I know it’s not Saturday, but something has been on my mind all day.  Sharing usually fixes that right?

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One of the last few days of work, I came in at later than usual (5:00 am if you care), so the parking lot already had cars in it.  Because it had been snowing all night, the lines weren’t visible.  People parked the best they could, but inevitably some were parked a little off… or more than a little off.  The whole row was actually tilted the complete wrong way on a one way row.  By the time I got out of work, the snow had melted enough from people driving on it, to show the correct position to park.  I of course, was now the only one parked incorrectly because every one else that was there before me, had left work already.

Someone was nice enough to leave a “clever” note written with the winter grime on my back windshield, along with their less than creative drawing of a penis.  Which, had nothing to do with what they wrote.  I mean, if they had said I parked like one, I would have at least gotten the reference?!  But no, it was a random penis, along with the fact that I don’t park well (paraphrased).

My point.

We don’t always know why people do what they do.  They may actually be doing something because they really are just that screwed up, or uncaring.  Or life’s circumstances may have brought them to that spot, in that way.  Someone else may have caused the position they’re now stuck in.

Most things we can avoid by just being proactive – I could have come out on my lunch break to move my car, but the thought never even crossed my mind while I was doing my job.  I was focused on doing my work well, not on where my car was parked, or if the snow was even melting.

The next time you see someone doing something that seems totally bass ackwards, or even parked strangely for that matter, stop to think before leaving that giant penis.  First, does the penis make sense with what I’m writing?  And second, could they maybe, possibly just have been screwed over by the people before them?

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hummer

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Ok, some people really are just jerks!

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Simplicity February 25, 2017

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(If you’re not a faithful person… stick with me here.)

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In Genesis 2:15, as I read it, God is telling Adam that He has given him a great gift. A gift that he is to take care of.

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“ The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. “

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God gave Adam, Eden, along with all the animals in it with the great command of taking care of it.

Easy in a sinless world.

And then our sin came along, us deciding we know better than God, the creator of our environment. Once we decided to live contrary to how we were supposed to naturally live, we had to make unfortunate sacrifices. Taking the lives of plants and animals to live, being a major one. But having an impact on the environment around us, being another big one… among many others.

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“I have a hard time with the idea of the K cups. All that waste?” I mentioned.

“I don’t!” a fellow Christian neighbor exclaimed. “Like an elderly southern-woman once told me ‘I throw it in the dump, like the good Lord intended!’”

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I was a bit taken back by the last part of that comment. “Like the Lord intended.”?  I get people who say “The Lord will take care of us.” That’s trusting in Him at least. Or even “I don’t worship the Earth!” from fellow Christians. True and wise. But “As the Lord intended.”?

Let’s start at the basics of this. The Lord never intended us to “need” caffeine. He never intended us to “need” a machine to make the coffee to get to that caffeine. He never intended for us to work hard at all!

Our garbage and excess, is a symptom of our sin. Call it a T(ransmitted) D(isease) of our day to day busyness and having to work after we messed up. He never intended for dumps to be necessary. He would take care of our every need, with no excess. And while He still takes care of us, our sinful needs brought with it baggage.

All things I am guilty of myself.

I have always been a bit “earthy”. Growing up part time on my dads small farm, your life depends on the land itself. On the animals you take care of. How you and your neighbors take care of what they were given. There was a cost to what you put on your hay, to what you feed your animals, the practices you use to farm. When I would go back to the town my mother lived in, I would take those idea’s back with me.

Many of my fellow Christians have a hard time with this. “It sounds like worshiping the Earth, instead of the Lord.” Which is the furthest from the truth – I want to honor what God has given me. Is it a commandment? Well no. But neither is the advice not to abuse your kids. God has given them to you, so you wouldn’t dream (I hope) of beating them. But the place He gave you to live is perfectly fine to abuse?

Jesus’ command of loving your neighbor would be a perfect example of this. Would you want your neighbor damaging his property so much that yours is damaged?  So why would you leave a bunch of garbage behind for them to clean up? Or for your children to clean up, they are after all, your neighboring generation.

So how should we live then in this sin-filled world, with this in mind?

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Simply.

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Talking with several customers, I realized that a lot of people are trying to eat healthier, to take care of themselves more, get back to basics and live better. A lot of them were driving themselves crazy in this attempt though. I had to point out several times that while I applaud and encourage this, they have to balance that with not killing themselves in their venture. “Are you making your life miserable, by trying to make your life better?”  I found that with this small amount of permission, a lot of people became more comfortable with their attempt. Baby steps. After all, Jesus was more about the heart, than the law.

People should always come first – we are the whole reason for all of this anyways. But if we’re sick, and our home is sick, we can’t take care of the people around us.

All this encouraged me to get back to even more simplicity in life, now that I’m back home full time.  Having the craziness of “that house” dragging us down – the extra baggage that we don’t need – I know first hand what carrying garbage means.

With this in mind, every so often, when I find something that I think may be useful in this attempt, I’ll post about it under “Simplicity”. Something that helps eliminate waste, or a healthier choice by just doing less, making a small change or making life a little simpler – I want to share it. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, renovating or even moving.  Living simple should touch your whole life.  And a side benefit to living this way – it tends to be budget friendly. (Listed this way, you can also skip it, if it’s of little interest to you.  I’m not here to beat anyone over the head with this, but encourage.)  If you’ve got something to suggest – please let me know!  I would love to hear how you are living a simpler, cleaner life.

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Deep breaths. Prayer (or meditation) and bible (or book) time. Healthy living. Simplicity. And life’s garbage – gone.

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We were intended to live a clean life, with no garbage, inside and out. To use what we were given, including our lives, to the fullest. We can’t do that with garbage around us, or in us.

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snowflake

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Simplicity

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

 

 

tree

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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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mountains

 

 

 

Flying time December 21, 2015

 

 

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Do you realize how long it’s been since I’ve sat down here?  I don’t mean to write, I mean, just to sit.  I’ve even been standing to eat the last few weeks while I attempt to fit every last thing in.

If it’s not Christmas related, it’s school related.  If it’s not school related, it’s drivers-ed related.  If it’s not drivers-ed related, its youth group.  If it’s not youth group, it’s renovation related.  If it’s not renovation related, it’s “that house” related.

I’m so tired of relations and we haven’t even seen the real ones yet!

Christmas presents have been bought, knitted, sewn, made, and wrapped (or shipped) and were even under the tree for a few nights before being sent off with the big man himself.  Yes, that’s right, my dentist man.  I sent them off today in his big red, all wheel drive sleigh since we’ll be over on his side for Christmas, and we couldn’t fit the gifts and the dogs.  Our tree is a bit saddened by this, but the quiet will do it some good.

 

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The boys have two weeks off, which so far the one day they’ve been officially off, has been pretty awesome!  We’re one of the few places in the country getting snow this year I hear, so the boys spent their day sledding down our hill.  No tutoring this week.  And no youth group.  Just a really long drive to the “wet side”.  But, they both get drive time in, under snowy conditions, so I guess it’s still school time?

 

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I’m taking this week off from renovations.  It’s a short week for us anyways since we’ll be gone, but the feeling of not working on it tonight is actually throwing me off a bit.  I even worked on it the former Saturday, like I said I wouldn’t, so my dentist man wouldn’t come home to a pulled apart bathroom.  So far the cabinets are the exact color I want, I just wished the laundry rooms were also?

 

(No picture – I’m not letting  you peek yet!)

 

This Saturday was spent cooking, baking cookies and watching Christmas movies.  (Ok, yes I do hate cooking, but a magical thing happens when you do it.  Your children pop out of all sorts of nooks and crannies and talk to you and help and watch movies with you.  It’s worth the loathsome act of cooking.)  Seriously, could life get any better than that?  It was a small reprieve for my overly stressed out brain.

 

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Two weeks ago we found out that one of our student loan bills would be going from $400 a month to $1800.  That means we’ll be paying about $3000 a month total.  That’s about $2000 more than we have to pay them.  But you know what – we could have had that payment go up while dealing with the renters and losing $3000 to them, so, God *is* good!  *I keep repeating to myself as I try to figure out how to pay the new payment*

Today *I* spent the day standing out in front of an insurance company that sells Travelers (not to be confused with travel insurance) insurance with a big sign in protest of them not covering last January’s burst water pipes at “that house”.  Why yes… I have lost my mind.  Thank you for asking!  Claiming that it was our fault for not being there when the water company *didn’t* shut the water off as promised.  I stood out in below freezing temps, in the snow, on a street corner with my sign and fliers.  I even handed out candy canes when people would stop at the lights.  It is the Christmas season after all.

 

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When I got home, there was a note informing me that there is a letter waiting for me at the post office for me from said insurance company.  It’s either the check they owe us, or a court order.  So tomorrow will either be spent paying off repairs and sledding with the boys, or standing out front of another insurance company.  As long as I tell the truth, they can’t tell me to stop.

 

So neener.

 

I guess time really does fly by when you’re having… um… fun?

 

But this Christmas looks to be a good one, with snow and family.  Can’t beat that.  I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Wonderful Hanuka, Festive Solstice or just a plain old Happy Holidays!

 

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Driving me crazy! November 7, 2015

Filed under: Boys,Family,Homeschooling,Hubby,What's happening — blankenmom @ 11:38 pm
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teen-driver

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I’ve already stated that I now have the middle two children in drivers-ed/teaching them to drive.  And I realize when I say this, that this statement doesn’t sound all that threatening.  However, when you put two hormonal children behind the wheel of not just a little car, but a big ‘ol mini-van, things get a bit interesting.

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I was also explaining to a friend the other day how I was a bit thrown off by the fact that I’m not constantly fielding raging text messages from people stealing from me, scheduling repairs, and court dates.  Something that consumed over 3 years of our lives, in various forms.  24/7.  I know, very Pavlovian of me that every time a text message comes in my stomach sinks, we’re working on it!  The fact that I’m not being “yelled” at several times an hour has left a strange void.  Albeit a nice void, but oddly you get used to even stupid things.  And I’m finding that I’m not sure what to do with myself.  No worries, my dentist man has made sure I’m kept busy with renovation tasks to “help”.  This same friend, making sure she was fulfilling her duties, was nice enough to begin insulting me so I didn’t feel unloved.  Good to know I can count on her when the chips are down – but in the absence of true disdain –

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Enter my children.

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I now remember, not just my first-born learning, but also myself.  That nervousness of having really no clue what you’re doing and wielding tonnage, with what seems like no help from your co-pilot.

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*Insert dirty looks*

“Well telling me after wasn’t very helpful now was it?”

“That’s just a stupid rule!”

“I know mom!”

“Could you just not, please!”

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You laugh, but if you think back, you know you did the same thing.

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So literally (and I mean literally) every time I go somewhere that my children can go with me, they are there.  Driving.  And cursing my name in their best 15 and 17-year-old, homeschooled profanities.

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Gosh boys – thank you for filling that void in my life!  I was wondering what I’d do without being told I suck on a daily basis.  And yes, you’re welcome for paying for lessons, and/or teaching you how to drive.  Yes I could have had the one in drivers-ed pay for it, but since they can’t get jobs in this area, that seemed pretty cruel.  Please no messages about that part.  Well, heck, never mind.  I have enough people poo-pooing me, go for it!  

Plus, this almost guarantee’s they’ll be able to leave my house once they turn 18!

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I would like to state however that my best curse word to fly yet has been fricking!  I know, you’re impressed with that kind of language!  Between turning left at 20 mph (about 32 kph google says), and nearly hitting the curb with my just-put-on snow tires, I wasn’t messing around!  This also happened to be the first time my dentist man has driven with one of these two.  After his mini-me was somewhat safely delivered to his drivers-ed class, I asked him how he did in the back seat and he only had to close his eyes a few times.  Not too bad there third-born!

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To add to this awesome experience, they’re each going through their own phases of hormonal changes.  (For mom’s of girls out there scratching their heads at this comment – yes boys still go through hormonal changes.  A lot less screaming and crying, a lot more “chest thumping” with a wee bit of anger rolled in, but not before the flighty-as-a-bird stage that I’m pretty sure girls do to?  Maybe?  I hope so – I would hate for you to miss out on this experience!)

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While the fourth-born completely hit the flighty stage at 13 – nice of him to stay on schedule, the third-born, I thought, was going to miss it, but ohp – nope!  He turned 15 and it totally hit!  Right as we start to teach him how to drive!  Maybe he could do me the favor of skipping over the angry phase then?  And the 17-year-old, as I’ve already experienced with the first-born, knows all, and doesn’t need his parents for anything.  He’s already a man and insert chest thumping is ready for the real world!  Bahaha… oh.  Ahem…

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Yes we’ve already gone through this.  You just sort of back up and wait.  They turn 18 and amazingly they need you again… or at least your money.  And then… your advice.  Especially when they realize that you really *have* done this already and maybe… possibly… might know what you’re talking about… slightly.

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Between the two, I have one that can’t remember to head check, turn their blinker on, and which pedal is which.  And another who thinks he should be able to bi-pass this whole process and just get his license already, in spite the fact that I keep hearing “I’ve never seen that before, that’s just not normal!” and “Why didn’t you tell me that faster!”.

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This too shall pass.  *Insert zen pose here*  It’s because we love our children so much that we go through all this craziness, and if I survive their driving, I know I’ll survive just about anything.  But in the mean time, they’re driving me straight to crazy, leaving me on the curb, to wait for their younger brother to send me right over the cliff.

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~Serenity ~

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Drowning in DIY October 17, 2015

I have been thinking of you non-stop, but that doesn’t translate into actual sit down time.  When you haven’t had time to check your email for 3 days, blogging doesn’t even have a chance.

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With our new, *paying*, non-crappy, non-psychotic (literally), actually leaving their house on occasion, fixing it when it needs it and allowing repairmen in, non-state-aid renters, we’ve sort of had money to start the renovation we began last year.

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Well, sort of.  We think we finally finished the last of the repairs the last renters caused.  After they stole the utility meter, copper piping, copper wiring, soaked the carpet in dog waste, left human waste in buckets on the deck, broke the fridge, caused a minor flood… the last repair (we hope) was to fix the re-wiring they did on the third floor.  The *entire* third floor.  And our current renters – total champs about it!  I could seriously hug these people!  The first two months of rent money went to “that house” still, but this month – all ours!

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Well, sort of.  Being a (new) dentist isn’t cheap, so after paying a lot of insurance(s) (yes there is more than one we have to pay) for the next six months (on top of student loans, taxes, business fee’s, advertising, on-going education, new/updated equipment, etc) it will be ours.

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Well, sort of.  We have to start Christmas shopping.

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I could go on, but I’ll spare you….

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I do know that I save *tons* of money doing majority of the repairs myself.  The new spigot I put in myself saved us about $350.  The new outlet outside, about the same.  The 9 outlets that were already wired, but just needed the actual outlets, another $500 (was the lowest quote).  Sometimes it’s totally worth having someone else do the job though!  The windows will be done by pro’s.  I’m not even remotely big enough to get a window in, especially when it comes to the 5′ x 12′ windows.  But I *can* hunt down the best price for them.  (Or, in the case of the big windows, a company that will just make them – very hard to find item.  Thank you Fleetwood!  The only company we found that could make the windows in that size, or at least call us back about them.  Either way, they get our business!)

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What I can do?  In the last three months I’ve:

  • Painted 1800 sqft, including the ceiling.  With four different colors.
  • Added one new spigot.
  • Added one new outdoor outlet.
  • Repaired the faulty outlet in the covered area that is about 12 ft up.  (No I have no idea why.  And yes we use it.)
  • Hooked up 9 new outlets in the garage.
  • Replaced 11 lights in the house.  With three remaining.  (Can’t quite decide on what I want?)
  • Rewired the kitchen light so it’s actually grounded.
  • Replaced 3 switches.  Switching from toggles to fancy/shmancy dimmer switches.
  • Discovered you can spray paint switches/outlets to get any color you like.  (Very carefully!!)
  • Kitchen ceiling tiles.
  • Removed a hanging kitchen cabinet.  (Looks so much better now!)
  • Repaired where we took down a wall.

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What I still have left to do feels a bit overwhelming though?

  • Trim.
  • Cabinet re-staining in the kitchen and bathrooms.  Also the bedroom doors.
  • Floors.
  • Kitchen and bath tiling.
  • Windows/Doors.
  • Shower plumbing.
  • Kitchen and bath sink replacement.
  • Painting the fireplace doors.
  • Possible ceiling fan in living room. (still deciding on that one?)
  • Pendant lights over the stove.

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It’s all about finances and how much I can fit into my daily schedule now.  On top of our usual schedule of schooling, tutors, youth group, volunteering and normal projects, we now have two permitted drivers that I have to teach to drive and I’ve got very little time left to do much else.

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However, I have designated Saturdays as my “No working on the house” day, and “Don’t bug me, I’m not even getting out of my pajamas” day.  Maybe if I stink enough, they won’t even come into my sewing/office room?  Did I mention I moved my office down to my sewing room?  This designation gives me a chance to breathe, and get here each week.  Along with some sewing time and a little time for my hands to recover – so many blisters!

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The most comical part in all this, is that the people at Lowe’s are actually starting to learn my name!  I have been there at least once a day for the last three months.  The place I used to love to just wander around and get idea’s, I’m starting to sort of dread.  Just send our paycheck to Lowe’s please.  They’ve been pretty awesome though.

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I know, first world problem!  But after the last 2 1/2 years of dealing with the insane renters and their, well… insanity, this is a huge blessing.  And thanks to an ever working dentist man and some actually decent renters, at the end of most days, my biggest worries (now) are what color the floor should be, if I’m going to shock myself again and if I’ll survive today’s drive with the boys.

I get to take a pause from remodeling the next few weeks, so our finances can catch up with the projects list, but I by no means will be idle.  A requested memory blanket, Christmas gifts to be made, and *hopefully* (if I can pick out the right color finally), cabinets to be redone.  That’s free right?

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Pictures coming soon…..