My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

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!

 

 

 

 

Time off for good behavior August 26, 2018

 

 

I am fully aware that it’s been a year.  I timed it that way actually.

 

This last year has been a doozy.  Crazy.  Exhausting.  Productive.  Frustrating.  Amazing.

 

I’ll just cover the instigator of my time off here though.  It was this time last year, that we began our process of selling “that house”.  The bane of my existence.  What kept me up at night, and crazy by day.

As of Nov. 15th, after three, very VERY long months, we had a sold house.

 

You would think we would be ready to shout it from the roof tops – party like crazy!  Instead, it felt more like a limp to the finish line where we fell over it instead of a victory lap.  Our victory lap instead came as a year long recovery.  Well, it may actually take a bit longer than that.

The process itself to sell it, was about as pleasant as it was to own it.  But the people who helped us were amazing – complete blessings!  They got us through it and it’s still kind of not real to us, even a year later.

 

But the year to follow has been an absolute whirlwind.  Seeing so many blessings come after the sale lifting us back up, has been the best part of the whole process.  From nearly no money left in the bank account the day of the sale and still needing bills covered – to the money coming in right on time.  And money to cover the actual completion of the renovations instead of our east coast money pit.  Yes, we’ve finally started.  A stove again.  Floors going in.  Sinks and tiles and faucets that we’ve been without.  It’s exhausting work, but it feels so good to finally see progress, and to walk on real floors again.

 

While this isn’t a long one, it is the beginning of being back.  Not totally sane, but back again.  With lots of craziness to share.  Pictures to post.  News to announce.  And creatures to show off.

 

So… thank you for your patience.  It paid off.  Let the stories begin…

 

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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No excuses… July 16, 2016

 

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I know it’s summer, and I could easily use this as an excuse for why I haven’t been here.  I could tell you fibs that we’ve been away on amazing trips, or laying around reading, or out hiking the near-by canyons.

We haven’t.

We’ve been mostly home.  We’re poor.  We aren’t even having a “stay-cation”.  Poor people don’t do that.

Oh wait, my dentist man had his two-week-tour, becoming my sailor man while away at 29 Palms.  Just the vacation every man wants. (read sarcasm)  100* at night, 120* during the day.  Peering into marines mouths that haven’t brushed for two weeks, or bathed, or washed their uniforms.  Let’s just say he was a little more than excited to be back this year.

 

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I have gotten a few projects finally completed.  A child almost moved out, picked up a part time job (see above about being poor), and some projects for the clinic and the house.

I’ve also been “torturing” my children with continued math tutoring through the summer.  While we did end up taking July off so the tutor could take her needed trips, that still only gave them a month off, and she left work for them to do while she was gone. HA!

Ok, we did get a mini trip out to my dentist man’s practice for a few days, but mostly it was because we had dental appointments, and it was Independence Day.

Summer time is a slow time in the dental world, people vacationing, beautiful outside, and having fun makes them not want to be in the chair.  And so is our budget then, when you’re still paying off student loans and a practice… and repairs from your former renters… still.  And the renovations… oh the slow, slow renovations.  But we are making progress.

Here are a few things I’ve completed during my time away –

I do believe I’ve mentioned before that I volunteer at a medical clinic, where our mission is to just love every person who comes in to see us, no matter what.  I teach parenting classes once or twice a month, and was recently asked if I could help out with some updating.  While we’re still in the middle of updates, here are a few things we’ve gotten completed.

 

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All forty weeks of pregnancy up in our classroom.  So the parents who come in can see where they’re at.

 

One picture was taken by one of our new dad’s and the other was taken by my son’s girlfriend.  The boards on the adjacent walls were made a few weeks ago.  I didn’t even realize it until I saw them all up that the colors matched the pictures!

 

The rooms have been newly painted.  Pictures up on the walls.  New furniture and decorations and more to come…

 

And around here –

 

(No looking at the mess – I can either renovate or clean.)

I have the stained cabinets back up and the new lights finally installed!  Ok, I admit I did end up having to call an electrician when I couldn’t get the flexible drill bit out of the wall.  Once he came out we realized it wasn’t my fault.  There was a stray piece of wood left in the wall that neither of us anticipated.  His bit slid right passed it and within minutes, we had the cord up the wall.  He left the rest up to me.  Great guy – he’ll be back out for the bathroom fan during the winter when it isn’t 120* in the attic.

But here are our new lights!  We’re actually thinking of changing them to brown bottles.  I’ll keep you posted on that.  But they’re up and working and the was the main issue!

And just as an FYI, clear bottles cut the easiest, followed by blue, brown and green very. dead. last.  I have no idea how red cuts.  Couldn’t find them anywhere?

I also learned that I don’t like champagne on this project.  After six bottles of it.  Bleh!  (Not in one sitting.)

And finally –

 

Today I managed to get the spare bathroom counter and sink finished.  From the 1980’s to the 21’st century… except we’re going for an old pub look, so… I’m not sure how that one works out?

During any down time, I’m still plugging away on a dear friends memory quilt.  You know, it’s only been a year.  But I did warn her that I was very slow, so hopefully she didn’t think I was exaggerating.

As for the remainder of the projects, I have taken up a part time job in the natural food dept. at the local grocery store to help pay for said projects, while my dentist man pays off the remainder of the repairs for “that house”.  (Yes, we’re still paying off repairs two years later – that’s how bad it was.)  Together we might get this life thing tackled.

 

Someday, we’ll take an actual vacation.  But now is not that time.  For now I’ll take my quiet, morning bible studies with the fur-babies.

 

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Two down… May 23, 2016

 

 

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Our second-born, also known as Michael, turned 18 today.  We wouldn’t dare say it’s been a breeze, because he was definitely our challenge.  The one where if it was going to go wrong, it went wrong… and yet, he still came out amazing!

From about the 5th month of pregnancy I knew something wasn’t right?  Born two weeks late but induced due to a slowing heart rate, he was literally pulled out by our midwife because his shoulders had become stuck.   He was already challenging us!  After delivery though, his little heart came back twice as strong.

He was quiet and strong.

After a couple of weeks with this perfect little bundle, his jaundice set in.  “Pumpkin” the nurses called him when we headed back to the hospital for the light therapy.  His bilirubin count was so high they nearly took him in an ambulance.  That’s when the quiet ended, but the strong didn’t.

For over four years this little man cried.  Cried like his fingers had been closed in a car door.  We went to doctor after doctor, all the while being told he was just fine, it was just who he was.  Four years of no sleep.  Four years of rashes everywhere.  Listening to screaming for the majority of the day.  Four years of having strangers whisper, or tell me straight to my face what a terrible parent I was because of his screaming.  Four years of not knowing how to fix his hurting.

 

 

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But when he did stop, if only for an hour or so, he was so happy, and so beautiful.

 

 

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After four years, we decided to take him to a therapist to see if they could help.  “Take him to a naturopath if the doctors won’t listen!”, he said.

Best advice ever!

Our son was allergic to several foods – corn, wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein).  All of his favorites of course!  After cutting those out, we were still left with a kid who only knew how to get angry, but could now at least function.  Four years of therapy to correct the damage that had been done and all the time lost, and some very caring church leaders, coaches, naturopaths, family and friends who stuck it out with us, he was a completely different kid.

 

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Always challenging.  Always pushing.  Always trying something new.  I couldn’t imagine what life would have been like without him, his energy, his mischievous giggle from the other room and the lessons he brought with him.  Still strong, sometimes quiet.  Always a challenge.

Scary delivery, jaundice, food allergies, night terrors, stitches, multiple goose-eggs, Poison Ivy, two broken arms, and none of it slowed him down!

 

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Yes, he still has his allergies, albeit less intense now.  Yes, he manages quite well with them.  Yes, it’s changed everything in our life, mostly for the better.  Not so much for out pocket book, but definitely for our bodies.  And I am thankful for that!

 

 

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Our computer nerd through and through, he’s graduating high school with a certificate in Computer Technology, and is about to leave home for a new adventure.  I’m sure however, we’ll see him grocery shopping our pantry and finding his way home for the wash machine.  This strong willed, energetic, enthusiastic, kid is ready for the world… I hope it’s ready for him because he doesn’t knock down easily!

 

 

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March-ing on March 26, 2016

Filed under: Family,Hubby — blankenmom @ 11:59 pm
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I have been wanting to post for weeks now, but to be fully honest, this has been a truly terrible month.  And I don’t mean that lightly.

To start the month off, we realized our mortgage company, Seterus, lost several thousands of dollars in escrow money (money they put aside to pay for things like taxes and insurance), and hasn’t been paying our hazard insurance, in spite of collecting for it.  Insurance we have to have to keep our mortgage for “that house”.  Both of which are illegal.  After several, multi-hour conversations, with them attempting to blame us for the lost money and their inability to pay the insurance they’ve been collecting money for, they told me to call back a few days later while they try to straighten it out.

 

I called our lawyer instead.

 

A few days later, my brother-in-law who has been battling bi-polar disorder/schizophrenia for nearly 20 years now, ended his life while his mother made his birthday dinner, leaving behind his heartbroken 15 year old son, older and younger brothers, and parents that he had been living with, and whose birthdays were only a few days later.

He stopped taking his meds when the program that delivered them, and helped insure he took them, ran out of money.  I’m so glad my taxes go to pay for dead-beats who choose not to work, but not for people who are truly ill and would still be here, working, if only for that same money.  I wonder if the large amounts of money we lost to our crappy state-aid renters would have helped keep him with us?

 

I guess that’s one way to solve their budget issues.

 

And this is all while I was gearing up for the first anniversary of my sister’s sudden passing.  My sister who had been battling alcoholism and depression for as long as I can remember, killed herself, accidentally, and left behind her heartbroken husband and 16 year old son, our older brother, myself and three sets of parents (divorce people, we’re not complete freaks).

 

The month is almost over, and hopefully this feeling of overwhelming pain, sadness, confusion, anger and frustration, all wrapped up in one little month, will be also.

 

My biggest consolation here is that tomorrow is Easter, the biggest day of hope possible.  I will see them all again, healthy and whole.  The mortgage company, whether we get this fixed or not, will fall away.  God’s promise through Jesus’ resurrection is that all this is defeated and the pain is only temporary.  While it hurts and frustrates us now, there is still hope.  Always hope.

 

Onto April please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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