Sunday, September 26, 2010

Clean Slate Sunday: 9.26.10 edition

Whew. Back in the school routine, back in the quiet Sunday night meditative routine, back to sitting down and making plans for the next few days and trying to get the calendar situated before the week begins.

Steve has been around all weekend and it feels great to have him here. He was able to take Sam out hunting yesterday and today for the special youth hunt weekend. I smiled to myself when Sam came in to kiss me goodbye before heading out to the woods with his daddy Saturday morning. That kid was on Cloud 9. Poor Steve, he can't even get up out of his chair without Sam asking him where he's going. Uhhh, to the bathroom, kid. Just out to the truck to get something. Over here to the kitchen for a beer. 

And Rachel. At church on Sunday mornings we're always asked if anyone has any good news to share during announcements. This morning when that request came Rachel looked up at me and whispered, "Yeah! Daddy's back in Michigan!"

Good news, indeed.

Steve is on standby now. He expects to get a call to go to work before the end of this week. He'll still be working a couple hours away from home, but two hours of driving versus 10 hours of driving to get home is a big difference. Plus, I think just being in the state of Michigan boosts his morale a bit. When he came home from safety orientation Friday he said he has a good feeling about this new job. I like to hear that. I feel ... I don't know ... safe when it's obvious to me that Steve is feeling confident.

So it's been a great weekend topped off by hearing a message at church that really touched my heart. There are Sundays when I feel like the sermon was written just for me, and today was one of them. Today we were reminded of how rich we are, that if we have food and clothing and a roof over our heads, we are rich beyond measure. We were also reminded that it is our duty as Christians to be good stewards of all God has given us, and to use our good fortune to touch the lives of the poor - poor in belongings, poor in health, poor in spirit. We must be willing to identify and acknowledge those people in our lives who need a boost and do something for them.


That seems like a good note to end on tonight.

Have a great week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The times they are a-changin'.

It never ceases to amaze me how life can turn on a dime.

Last week at this time I was happy to have Steve here at home providing some much-needed backup in the parenting department and taking care of some other business, but the recovering anxious control freak in me was a little concerned that we didn't know when he would leave.

That is, when he would go back to work.

And no workie = no money.


Not that he didn't have a plan. He did. There for a while, though, I thought the universe hadn't gotten the memo outlining the details of his plan.

And by "a while" I mean two or three days. Eternity.

But sometimes the memo getting stuck on the server turns out to be a good thing.

I suppose the details don't matter now, but I can tell you this: This pipelinin' thing? This lifestyle of constant change? This hurry-up-and-wait business? It's not for sissies. It's not for the faint of heart. Over the past week Steve kept reminding me of a Bible verse in 2 Corinthians chapter 5, "we walk by faith, not by sight." That particular passage is also mentioned in the movie The Book of Eli which Steve and I both watched recently, myself just Wednesday night. It's a great (albeit somewhat violent) story about having faith, pushing forward, following God's voice, and not allowing yourself to be overcome by worldly things along the way.

It was a timely reminder.

Today Steve is drug testing and attending safety training for a new job. Once again he is making the shift from the construction side of the pipeline to the inspection side, which is what he had been doing in 08'-09'. It will provide a nice boost in income, but the even better news is he will be back in Michigan. I can't even put into words how happy that makes me.

The Pipe Life is all about change and being flexible. It's not always easy for me to go with the flow, but with every change and every bend in the road and every dip from the hills to the valleys, I learn. It sometimes means riding a roller-coaster of emotions. It means never getting quite comfortable with how things are. It means making a point to enjoy every day because we just don't know what struggles tomorrow might bring.

And yes, it means walking by faith and learning to give up a little of that illusion of control. For a gal like me, sometimes that's the hardest part.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quiet Monday.

Wow. I had big plans for the blog last week. Lots of pictures, updates on projects around the house, and perhaps a little waxing poetic about the change in seasons and the beautiful fall weather we've been having.

How quickly life gets in the way.

Tuesday morning I met a friend for coffee, met another friend for lunch, then made my fall trek to Sam's Club. Wednesday and Thursday mornings I had the pleasure of babysitting for my friends' 5-month-old baby boy. I had so much fun with him, but boy had I forgotten how exhausting it is to entertain, feed, rock, sing to, bounce, change diapers for, and ogle a baby for a few hours! So in the afternoons I chilled out at home and did pretty much nothing. Thursday night Steve came home, between jobs and waiting for A Phone Call.

Before I knew it the weekend was here and we had things to do. We visited with friends Friday night, Rachel walked in the annual Harvest Festival parade with her Brownie troop on Saturday, then Sunday we all went to church followed by an ice cream social, then we stopped by for a quick visit with my mom, and Rachel had her Girl Scout meeting Sunday afternoon. We finished up the day with dinner at my in-laws'.

Whew! I was so glad to fall into bed and get a good night of sleep last night, but sleep wasn't in the cards, apparently. I woke up at 3 a.m. sneezing and with so much pressure in my sinuses it made my teeth hurt. Stupid allergies! I never did get back to sleep after that.

So I was really happy to send the kids off to school this morning.

Check that. I was happy Steve was still here so he could wake them up and get them off to school this morning.

God bless that husband of mine.

Tonight Steve and the kids got to spend some fun time together making apple dumplings from scratch. I know Sam and Rachel enjoyed that time with their dad; they don't get to do that very often. And bonus - the dumplings tasted awesome! The perfect end to a quiet fall day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Progress report.

I had a pretty productive weekend.

Saturday it rained much of the day, so what better time to sit indoors and sort through mounds of photographs?

Boxes, albums and frames, oh my! You can't see it in this pic, but there is a pile of discarded photos on the floor next to my chair that just about equals the number of photos on the table.


I am happy to report - thus far, with about 85 percent of the sorting complete - the stack of photos for Child #1 is not much larger than the stack of photos for Child #2. Most mommies of two or more children will understand my relief.

The sorting continues today, with the goal of clearing this stuff off the dining room table as quickly as possible.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bargain bin(ge)

I am on a mission.

As I work on this ongoing process of getting rid of clutter and all the extra "stuff" we don't need, I find myself looking around the house and thinking a table here or a corner there could use a little something. Not just anything (because wouldn't it be silly to get rid of stuff just to fill the space with more stuff?), but something pretty ... something useful ... something that would add to the beauty and comfort of our home.

So I have this mental list of things for which I keep my eyes open as I'm out and about. And of course I'm always looking for a deal.

Yesterday I hit the jackpot.

I found a slip cover for our couch marked down to $54 at Walmart. And it fits! And it looks OK enough that I can stand to put off buying a new couch for a while. Score.

I also found a hurricane candle holder marked down to $5 (from $21). I'm using it as a decorative item to help me hide the phone cords in the kitchen. Another score! (I'll post pics next week.)

At a garage sale I picked up a few more picture frames for my picture project ($4), and a cute lamp for $5. Oh, and some math flashcards for Rachel for 50 cents - perfect, because earlier this week she asked me to make some for her out of construction paper and I hadn't made very many before I got bored.

But the best deal of the day (*squeee!*) was this small dresser/chest of drawers for $22.

Charming! OK, not yet, but she's got potential!
(Pictured with aforementioned lamp.)

I have no idea how old this piece is (and it makes no difference to me). It's not solid wood, but the drawers are dove-tailed, which is a nice little detail. I am so pysched about giving it a makeover and putting it to good use in our home.

The chipped paint on top has two layers: light green, then this light blue ... it was well used and then it got stuffed in the back of somebody's poll barn until yesterday.

It's cute! I love the legs and the simple detail.

Three of the four drawers will need some sort of repair with wood glue, some tacks, and maybe even replacing the bottoms. I'm going to let it sit here for a few days and dry out; I have a feeling there's a little moisture in the wood because the drawers are a little sticky.

Oh, it's fine. I've got plenty to do to keep me busy in the meantime.

Like planting all these perennials I picked up on clearance. Score!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The picture project.

One of the projects on my One Of These Days When I Get To It to-do list is sorting through and organizing our family photographs.

Fortunately for me, I did a partial sort and organize when I cleaned out the master bedroom's walk-in closet a year or two ago, so there is not a metric ton of photos and they are at least stacked somewhat neatly in boxes on a shelf in the closet. It won't be a monumental undertaking.

Oh, who am I kidding? When is sorting through boxes of photographs not a monumental undertaking?

I'm actually looking forward to it, though. OK, not the sorting part so much, but that part is just a means to an end and what I hope will be a really cool decorating project.

Instead of leaving all these great pictures in boxes on a closet shelf, I'm going to choose the ones I really love and display them as art in our home. I'm going to start with a section of wall space in the dining room. It's a long, narrow, vertical space that is just perfect for what I have in mind.

 See that empty, sad-looking space? Like a blank canvas, isn't it?

And even after I swore I would stop getting ahead of myself on projects like this (Right. That was sort of an empty promise to myself anyway), I went ahead and visited Goodwill yesterday to start collecting picture frames.

I can't wait to get after them with some spray paint!

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A moment to savor.

There are moments, many of them with my children, when I think to myself, "remember this" and try to etch it into my brain as one of those memories I can recall when I need a little lifting up.

One of those occurred last night.

Yesterday was the first day of school for our children. I expected tired kiddos when they got home and the usual homework madness and bedtime struggles. What I got was a relatively smooth evening during which Sam and Rachel did the chores I asked them to do, took care of their school work, helped me make dinner, and prepared for this morning.

The pleasantness of the evening was enough to make me very happy. But my favorite part came just after supper when we were all done eating.

The kids lingered at the table. And they talked to me.

I am so used to them jumping up and clearing their dishes so they can get back to whatever it was they were doing before we sat down together. It felt good to sit and listen to them tell me things they were excited about. To laugh together. To just ... be together. No raised voices, no quarreling. Just a conversation.

Who knew something so simple could feel so good?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's that fall nesting thing.

I am in stock-up mode. I am in full-on, list-making, let's get this place organized and ready for winter mode.

This fall nesting thing is two-fold for me.

One, I want to be prepared. If we get a crazy wicked snow or ice storm and can't get out to get to the grocery store for a couple of days, I don't want to run out of toilet paper or basic food staples. Hence, this time of year I take some extra time to study sale ads and pair them up with coupons to stock my pantry (which is really a set of sturdy shelves in my laundry room) as cheaply as possible.

Here's a glimpse at how it looks today:

I also buy items in bulk at Sam's Club to stock up for the kids' school lunches. It's like ripping off a Band-Aid; it hurts big time, but only temporarily, and then I'm not eating up my grocery budget buying juice boxes and fruit cups every week.

Also along the lines of being prepared, I like to have enough in the cupboards that if we invite someone over for dinner last-minute, or a friend is injured and can't get around the kitchen, or whatever other instance might call for sharing some comfort food, I can whip something together without having to run to the store.

And then there is the remaining sting, however faint, of months of joblessness last year and the concern over whether we would be able to pay all the bills from week to week. We did not worry as much about whether we would eat because we had taken the time to stock up. I don't need any more experiences like that to show me this is a good idea for us.

The other main reason I do this nesting and stocking up thing is because it helps me stay organized, and when I'm organized the mornings and evenings with my children run much more smoothly. Lunches can be almost completely packed before the kids go to bed at night. When they ask me in the evening what we're having for dinner, I have an answer. When they get off the school bus in the afternoon I can have snacks waiting for them so they're not rifling through the cupboards.

I am willing to sacrifice a couple of hours on the weekends to plan our menus and my grocery trips if it means I'll have a little more time for doing other things during the week.

Now if I could just convince the kids that just because we have 12 boxes of cereal doesn't mean we need to have them all open, life would be sweet indeed.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Babies, babies everywhere!

Steve and I have been out of the baby business for years.

Wait. That didn't sound quite right.

Let's just say we made sure it was not physically possible to have any more children after our Rachel was born. It took me a couple of years to convince Steve it was in his our best interest to make sure it wouldn't happen. And - God bless the man - he took care of business. We love our children and I adored their sweet baby faces, but both of them just about killed me when it came time for labor and delivery (OK, that's a slight exaggeration for Child #1, but not so much for Child #2) and even the doctor who delivered Rachel asked at my six-week postnatal checkup, and I quote: "You aren't going to do this again, are you?"

I was 26 and felt blessed beyond measure to have one boy and one girl. I am now 34 and I have never regretted the deliberate decision to not have any more children.

Sam, age 3, and Rachel, 5 months.

You know what makes it easy, though? Friends who have babies!

I have been so fortunate to have plenty of girlfriends over the years who, as my babies grew into toddlerhood and beyond, have had children and who have been willing to share those babies with me so I can sniff their precious heads and squeeze their chubby little thighs. Usually 20 minutes of bouncing playfully with a laughing babe or cuddling quietly with a sleeping babe is enough to fill any void I thought I might be feeling about not having any more wee ones around the house.

In the past year alone, at least four families close to us have welcomed new babies into their worlds and I have just about burst with joy for each of them. Having a baby - or another baby, or a third or fourth baby - changes our lives forever and I am so glad to be able to celebrate with friends as they become parents.

The latest of the new additions occurred just this morning, and I am elated for our friends A & J. I can't wait to hold their sweet baby girl and hug my friends and welcome them to the most rewarding, exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, heartwarming, insanity-inducing, blessed job in the world: parenthood.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


There are certain things I really enjoy about camping.

I love the communal feel of a campground where the neighbors are friendly and will let their dogs stop by to say hello when they're out for their evening walk.

I appreciate the opportunity to spend time outdoors relaxing, cooking on the grill, listening to the insects chirp at each other into the evening.

The smell of campfires.

The way all that activity wears out the children.

Steve has been living in campgrounds all summer long. When the kids and I go to visit him it's a vacation for us, but it's just another week of work for Steve. It's just that when we're there, the people he loves most are waiting for him when he gets "home" for the night. And invading his personal space.

I'm sure there are things Steve still enjoys about camping, but there are probably other things he has gotten used to that he doesn't think twice about now.

Like the teeny-tiny shower in the travel trailer (not very conducive for a woman needing to shave her legs).

Or the lack of counter space in the kitchen area.

Or the necessity for one-ply toilet paper. (It's useless, isn't it?)

Or not knowing your way around town, or the layout of the best grocery store - or even which one is the best. Or not knowing where the nearest Starbucks is. (Kidding. He hates Starbucks.)

Or not having a washer and dryer handy. 

Six days away from home and I couldn't wait to get back. I wanted to sit in my comfortable chair and wash my clothes without having to dig up a handful of quarters for the machines. I wanted to shower in a full-size shower and know that it is very unlikely I would run out of hot water. I wanted to close my bedroom door and get dressed in private without my elbows bumping the walls or accidentally pushing the door open.

As much as I hated to end our visit with Steve, I'm not sure I ever looked forward to coming home as much as I did after this trip.

We don't have much, but we have a place we call home and I like to be here. It's not elaborate. It's not showy. But it sure has all the basics that make for a relatively comfortable existence. I thought about this a lot on the way home; how easily we overlook so many of the everyday things that make our lives easier. That can mean anything from the hot shower and fluffy clean towels to the friends and relatives who live nearby and often make our days a little brighter.

It's a perspective I need to be reminded of now and then, and it always seems to come at just the right time.