My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

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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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…..

 

Saying AMEN! Even when ice skating through the kitchen. January 17, 2015

 

 

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Things are settling into a groove for the new year here in our blankenworld.

 

My dentist man is working solely at his own practice now – even got a write-up in the local paper!   But I can wholeheartedly say it is a bit scary, but the man has never failed at anything, so between him and the good Lord, I’m not sweating it… too much.

 

The boys are back to school and staying ahead of schedule; even starting to talk about getting together with some friends.  Which is nice to finally hear!

 

 

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Trim and more flooring is being removed… none being laid, but we’ll get to that someday.

 

 

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The only thing really not moving forward is “that house”.  It’s actually headed in the wrong direction.  I know – you’re shocked!  I mean really, when is it not?

 

 

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While texting a very good friend out there who has been especially helpful after the eviction, a whole thought process started.

 

Through this whole catastrophe, we have found we have some really, really wonderful people backing us.  For someone like myself who trusts no-one (I mean really, why would I?), there really are a lot of people to thank!  However having these three people (and their spouses), bending over backwards for us has been such an eye opener that there really are people that won’t let you down.  And through it, I’ve found that stressing does no more than make me ill, grouchy, grey, wrinkly and not very fun to be around.

 

And those two items all combined this week.

 

Tuesday, one of them discovered a skating rink on the first floor due to the water company failing to shut the water off when scheduled, before the big freeze.  He just happened to be checking in on the house when he found water gushing from two locations.  He climbed through snow and mud to turn off the water valve under the house to stop the gushing water, in his business clothes.  Another one’s spouse, rushed over to try and remove as much water (now frozen) from the floor, counters and filled sink as he could before work.  But the damage from a week of flowing, and freezing water was already done.  The final person, after hearing this, came over to assess the damage for me as soon as he heard.  He is the one who replaced all this just the year before.

And that’s when he found it.  The former renter didn’t think it was enough to steal the power meter (which is why we still have no power) and the baseboard heaters, but he decided to take the pipe that catches the excess gas that comes from the intake valve (or some-such jargon).  Which was fine for their family, since the gas company turned the gas off for none payment.  But had we turned the gas back on before we had found it, the house would have gone up!

 

*BOOM*

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Good for us – we’ve been begging for that house to go away!  Not so good for the gas man… or if delayed, the workmen fixing everything the renters had broken.  Or… our next renters and their children.

I am learning, through this “lovely” house, that God does things for a reason.  It may not be pleasant, but if you’re paying attention even in the slightest (which unfortunately I’m usually not), He is yelling in His loudest whisper, what we really need to know.

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If we didn’t still have that giant money pit, I wouldn’t have learned that I can give, even when things get really hard.

If we didn’t still have that piece of crap, I wouldn’t have learned to trust Him in all things.  Like say, buying a new practice.

If we didn’t still have that stupid house, I wouldn’t have learned to trust people.  Well, not all people.  The renters proved that.

If we didn’t still have that freaking *&$, I wouldn’t have learned that sometimes, a seemingly bad thing, is really a blessing in disguise.

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If the water lines hadn’t of broken, the house would have killed someone.   That is the last thing I ever want to happen!

The water company is paying for the damages and so far are being great about it.  I am taking a deep breath and taking it as it comes.  Stressing isn’t going to change the wet, warped floors, cabinets and walls.  Nor is it going to get the utilities hooked up or the gas line fixed.  It’s not going to make us more money or bring a renter in any faster.

And as I’ve learned this last year, through court dates, nasty texts, repair jobs, skating rinks and theft; the more stink that happens – the more I should give.  The more I give – the better life gets.  The better life gets – the more I want other people to feel the same way.

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Yes, even the former renters.  (You know, once they stop stealing.)

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~So giving I’ll do~

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I’m smack in the middle of one of my friends blankets.

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quilt flowers

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I just finished another round of baby blankets.

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cat - blanket

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And I’m about to work on pillow cases for more foster kids.

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I’m going to say Amen – and start charging money for the skating rink in my kitchen!

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Tragic comedy of being responsible August 27, 2014

 

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My dentist man is back from his camping trip with the Marines out in the field.  For my former airman turned sailor, it wasn’t quite as cushy as he would have liked.  But he’s a trooper (or a sailor I should say) and sucked it up and made it through.  Nothing like working on mouths that haven’t seen a tooth brush in two weeks to make you yearn for the luxuries of a ship!  Let alone his excitement over a real toilet again.

 

As for me, my callouses are beginning to heal and I look less like a losing prize fighter each day.  Must be time to work on some more linoleum?  

 

The day after his return, we enjoyed our 19th anniversary in style.  A movie you can eat in.  As I tell him – it’s a date for married people.  No chit-chatting over dinner, we already know what’s going on with each other.  And a nice action flick, no unnecessary romance, he already knows he’s got a sure thing waiting for him.  What – it’s been two weeks people!

 

As we’re getting ready for back-to-homeschool, I thoroughly enjoy walking past all the frantic parents trying to shop their schools list, I feel a certain giddiness.  Until I realize I need to buy the boys all new laptops because theirs won’t run any longer with their school programs.  (No raised eyebrows please, we get netbooks.  The cheapest ones we can buy.  I can usually get 2-3 years out of them.  Then we wipe them, and give them to another family or two.) 

I hear “Pfffttt – but your husbands a dentist, like this is a big issue for you?”

Normally no.  Even with our ginormous student loans, cost of being a doctor (insurances, required on-going learning and what not’s), we do fine.  I’m a saver, so we do fine even in dry times, however we’re experiencing the most bizarre financial issues as of late?  Normally I wouldn’t discuss such things, but they’re just too bizarre NOT to talk about!

 

Our renters out in “that house”, or as I’ve started calling it “Goliath” to remind me it can be defeated, broke a window, lost several screens, ruined the shower/tub area and…. couldn’t replace the batteries in the smoke detector, all without informing us, causing the state housing authority to deny us payment when they came to do their yearly inspection, until we get such items fixed.  

 

I want you to sit and grasp this for a moment…

The same people that CPS keeps leaving children with every time they come out,

can’t even replace batteries in a smoke detector…

did you catch that?

 

Ok, easy enough fixes you say!  True, that is, unless your window company stalls for a month and a half and then closes overnight and runs with all their customers money.  Yup.  That would be us.  We are now part of a class-action suit.  Can you feel my enthusiasm? 

Frantically we run to another window company.  They understand our situation.  We’ve already lost 2 months worth of rent because the people we were kind enough to share our home with, broke it.  

The window company lost our paperwork, and thought they had come out already.  They told me they’d call me when they were done.  One month later when I called to check on it, they were very embarrassed.  That makes 3 months without rent because the state encourages sad, pathetic behavior.  

After asking daily for two weeks for the renters to make an appt. to go with their schedule, we finally made it for them.  They don’t show.  And because it’s summer – the busy window season, we can’t get another appt. for another month.  That makes 4 months without rent because our renters have no respect for anyone else.

I hear you – “Why weren’t you doing more to make sure this didn’t take so long?”  Silly me thought I was working with adults this whole time.  And yes I’ve learned my lesson – if it’s going to get done right, I have to do it myself, or ride some backsides to make sure it’s done!!

Now, as we’re realizing how drastic this situation is getting, I start calling around.  Oh yay – my good friend that helped with the deck and fence is back from the South of France – the lucky SOB –  when he hears how bizarre this has turned out, he is stunned by the situation and is coming to our rescue by this weekend.  

 

The bathroom had already been repaired, but they broke it again (it took them one month), so he’s fixing the bathroom for them again.  Installing batteries.  Measuring windows for new glass and screens. 

And the jewel – He’s installing cameras.

Yup, I’ll be able to watch the property.  All.the.time.

Like apartments survey their property ya big freaks – I don’t want to see what they’re doing inside *shiver*!

 

Lest you worry about *their* rights – they are being made fully aware of the cameras.  They should love that!  What with the cops having been there 5+ times since December.

 

And to pay for our newly adopted family of five on the other side of the country, my dentist man is working his usual two jobs.  His weekday job and his weekend warrior job.  The latter of which also ins’t paying him correctly.  I know, you thought it couldn’t get any more comical did ya!  

Apparently someone dropped the ball several years ago when we left the AFR and didn’t give us our release papers.  So now the Navy is requiring *us* to track it down if we want to be paid correctly.  We’ve been getting nearly half the pay we should for over a year now.  And we’re still waiting for the bonus we were promised.  

And just make good and sure we’re feeling it, the coming two weeks will be the slowest possible at the offices he works for.  Between rodeo’s, parades, holiday weekends, fairs, and yes, another reserve weekend, we’re feeling the glorious pain!

 

As I’m trying to keep up beat and find the good in all this, trying to learn to praise in all situations, I found myself actually coming up with the smallest of things.  The day he came back from his two week tour.  After cleaning the sheets for the 4th time that day because the pug felt the need to relieve herself only there (yes I closed the door – she’s freaking magical?!), I found myself thanking the good Lord that at least it wasn’t the big dog doing it!

 

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I had someone ask how I keep a good sense of humor through all this – 

You can laugh or cry.  Or cry till you laugh.  Which ever, it’s not bringing the money back.

And feeding your own family is over rated right?

 

 

 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

 

 

Liar, liar – my heads on fire! April 9, 2014

Filed under: Broken/Repaired,Family,WTFr — blankenmom @ 10:00 pm
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I’m not sure if the above statement is *really* true.  It’s more like…. I’d rather set it on fire, run through a gasoline factory naked, while in labor.  It would be easier, and maybe then the state would pay attention?

 

 

I know I’ve talked about “that house” before.  The house I would love to fall to the ground (while it’s empty of course).  I would add by meteorite, but then insurance wouldn’t cover it.

We had an aircraft carrier, two coastlines and several people in between hoping it would go down in Sandy, yet no.  The stupid thing lives.

 

After a year of no rental income, we were finally able to get renters back in – if you want to call them that.  FEMA in all their wisdom, placed people supposedly displaced by the flood into homes that were newly finished due to the flood.  We thought we were helping someone out.  Shame on me for trying to help – that’s the last time that will happen!

 

Since July, they have violated every line on the rental contract.  EVERY LINE!

Plus a few extra’s.

 

It’s lovely.

 

We took the long, drawn-out and costly steps to eviction after the final straw of leaving a cat to die under the house.  Last week  we were told by the judge that all the violations, on the contract they willingly signed, don’t matter because they have three kids.  It doesn’t matter that they, among all the other violations, don’t have insurance (in a flood area) to cover in their words, a dog that may bite that isn’t on the contract.  It doesn’t matter that they disturb the woman behind them with two kids of her own.  It doesn’t matter if the house falls down around them because we can’t finish our work from the flood because they won’t let workers finish.  Nope – they have three kids.

 

Never mind our four kids.  After all, we work.  We pay our utilities, loans, mortgages and taxes.  My husband works two jobs to make sure we can cover their needs, on top of ours.  A judge decided that their kids took precedence over our kids and the neighbors… and yours, because they’re on state aid.  Because they’re unwilling to work a real job and pay their own way, we have to cover for them.  We’re not talking, they’re trying to work and are having a hard time – nope.  I’d love to help with that!  Find me that family!!

 

Does that mean we get out of the contract?  No actually, it means they may get to stay in for six months longer than the contract because they told the judge they can’t find a place to live in the three months remaining.  REALLY?

 

Nope.  When you live on state aid, only you matter.  Not the tax payer providing your rent, the person who owns the house or anyone around you.  State and judge condoned…. and apparently encouraged.

 

Never mind the fire – my head just exploded…..

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Lest you think I’m a cold-hearted person who would throw children out on their ear…. it’s the kids that made me wait so long.  It’s the kids that kept me from shutting off their utilities when they didn’t pay them.  It’s the kids that kept me from kicking their backsides to the curb when they (unbeknownst to me) lied about how much the state would give them for rent and accepted less!

 

Oh the places you’ll go and the people you’ll meet. February 15, 2014

Filed under: Boys,Broken/Repaired,Family,Hubby,Places,Random thoughts — blankenmom @ 11:56 pm
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February is a big month in our house – 3 birthdays.  And now that the first-born is out of the house, things are a bit different.  No sleep overs or parties for him.  But we did meet up half way to get dinner together.

 

Our trip wasn’t an easy one though – three broken tire chains and a usual 70 mph limit brought down to 30, chains or not.  I’m still trying to feel my finger tips from changing them so many times!  Turning a usual three-hour round trip into almost a six long hours.

 

tire chains

 

The snow was beautiful though and it was nice to get out and about and do something new.  And while purchasing *another* set of chains, the guy selling the next to last set to me asked me about my address – which frankly took me back a bit since we were 100 miles from where we live.  He asked again and then asked if we knew “Maria” in the off-white house.  I looked at him with surprise and he said “That’s my aunt!”

 

Our next door neighbor, in this super dinky town that we just moved to, is the aunt of the kid who was selling us our tire chains 100+ miles from home – because ours happen to break.

 

This isn’t my first experience with this however.  While living in “that house” the man at the jewelry store selling my oh-so-attractive utility hoops recognized our phone number.  It ended up, we were both from the same smallish town on the west coast and had both moved to the same ridiculously small town on the east coast AND we both worked in the same store.

 

Why is this important?

 

It’s not really I suppose, but it’s just fun to get out, get to know the people we interact with and see the connections we may have!

 

So glad we went out today – even though we probably shouldn’t have.

 

Happy Birthday to my dentist man, first and third-born!

 

Somewhere to sit October 20, 2013

 

 

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It’s been a week since our furniture showed up and the boys and I  went full force to get everything unpacked and set up, between our modified schoolwork lessons of course.  I’m pleased to say, 95% of it is done minus some pictures on the wall….. and my sewing room.  It’s scary in there!

 

When our stuff left the last house in two giant mac trucks, I was expecting an extra charge to make it up the hill and around all the corners, or having them park at the bottom and shuttle it up.  With my expectations set for full-out catastrophe, I gave all the neighbors a note to let them know what might be coming their way on moving day and to please let us know if any problems arise.

Over kill?  Maybe.

However, on our move to Staten Island, the moving truck knocked down two phone lines.  When we moved into “that house” we managed to block one-half of a “major” thorough-fare (major as in, it was the biggest road in a town of 5000 people.  Not even a light or stop sign.) bringing out a police traffic controller to assist.  On our departure, we blocked an entire side road.

The neighbor’s were pleased with the heads up and I also got to meet many of them in the process.  The note also gave the low down on the newest people in the neighborhood – everyone wants the gossip on new folks!  (Can you call it a neighborhood if each house has no less than 2 acres?)

I also warned the moving company and asked them to come check it just-in-case.  A stuck mac truck was not my ideal lawn ornament!

What ended up showing up on moving day?  This “tiny” little truck!  I was shocked all our stuff fit in there – with room to spare?  Albeit excited that it did, since that meant we really don’t have that much crap…. eh er, stuff, I was still in shock!

 

 

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So moving day went off with-out a hitch… well, one minor sad hitch, but the company has been outstanding; it’s getting fixed and I’ll have my cutting table back shortly.  Probably before I actually get done putting my sewing room back together.

 

 

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I can honestly say, this has been the most unique and odd move since we’ve been married.  On previous moves, we’ve had stuff lost, stolen, broken, 2×4’d in front of us.  We’ve gone from 75* to -75* in a two-day move.  (Nothing like showing up to freezing temps in shorts!)  We’ve left not having any place at all to stay, but getting one along the way.  Leaving with a place to stay, and losing it on the way there.  But sitting with no furniture for 3 months, uncertain if we would have a home was a first.

 

Thank you to some awesome homeowners that allowed us to rent for a month and a half while waiting for the process to finish – that’s some trust right there!

 

But we were together, so it was all good.

 

Over the next few months, I’ll be good friends with my humidifier.  Over the next few weeks I’ll peek in on my sewing room to make sure it’s still a mess.  And over the next few days we’ll finally start our “real” schoolwork now that it’s finally shown up.

 

 

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After all, we finally have a place to sit!

 

 

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*I’d also like to say, tonight is my 3 year blogaversary.  Thank you all for joining me for the last 3 or so years!