Sunday, February 27, 2011

Clean Slate Sunday: 2.27.11 edition


It's been a long week. I'm ready for some down time - some me time. Ready to get back to the routines of school and housework and taking the dog for walks and whatever else my typically-boring everyday life entails.

I know I need to do some grieving. The fact that grandma is gone is starting to sink in. Her passing and then funeral, along with some other family- and friend-related stuff that came up last week, has me needing to take a few deep breaths, turn inward and just ... relax.

There is a lot of processing ahead for me. Lots of feelings to sort through. And that will take time.

For now, rest. A good night of sleep in my own bed after spending the weekend away.

Time to bury myself under the covers and look forward to a fresh start in the morning.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No regrets.

My grandma died this morning.

It's hard to know what to say after that. I could tell you about the life she led and what a great mother and grandmother she was. I could tell you what I loved about her and what I will miss most about her. I could write about how tough she was - a strong-willed woman of Dutch and German decent - and how we joked about that stubbornness when it seemed grandma was hanging on longer than any of us thought she would.

What keeps running through my mind, though, is a picture of grandma's smile. The sound of her voice when she would fuss at me for not wearing my coat in the winter. How she would tell me about the latest happenings in the lives of her housemates at the rest home, and how much she grew to care for them in such a short time. The way her favorite pink blouses set off her white hair and blue eyes. What we both said in our last conversation together, and how she squeezed my children when she told them goodbye.

These are the things I think of. Not so much my childhood memories of summers spent at my grandparents' home - those days that felt like they would last forever and no one would ever leave. Rather, I think of recent days and weeks and the pictures painted on my mind of laughs shared, tears shed, and love grown.

I will forever cherish the time I had grandma all to myself, when the roles were reversed and I could care for her and return the love she gave me all my life. It was a blessing and a privilege to do so much for her. Knowing she had lived a full life and was ready to move on, and that I had done all I could do and said everything I wanted to say, I was able to kiss her on the forehead this morning, tell her one more time how much I love her, and walk away with no regrets. I am rejoicing that grandma is now walking in God's light strong and healthy, and I am sharing that joy with my children in hopes someday they will understand.

As an added bonus to having spent so much time with grandma lately, I have gotten to know some amazing people. From nurses in the hospital to hospice workers and volunteers, residents at the rest home (at least one of which I would like to adopt and will definitely make a point to continue to visit) and especially grandma's caretakers who were with her until the very end. When you are standing watch at your dying loved one's bedside around the clock, it is a beautiful thing to have someone offer a kind shoulder, make extra scrambled eggs for you for breakfast, or put on a fresh pot of coffee at 2 a.m. I watched person after person treat my grandma - and all my family who were there - with dignity and compassion and respect. So today when the tears fall it is not over sadness that grandma is gone; that will come eventually. Today the tears are because I am so overwhelmed by the generosity ... the selflessness. The love.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Rest in peace, sweet lady. Until I see you again, rest in loving, beautiful, holy, eternal peace.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A do-over.

Go figure.

I had just about gotten everything how I wanted it on my new laptop and something went awry. It wouldn't boot up for me the other day.

One stinkin' week with the new thing and something was already on the fritz. Gah!

Nobody's sure what happened, but whatever it was, it's fixed now. Some quirky thing even the computer gurus couldn't figure out. Leave it to me.

But it's all good 'cause we're back in business. Again. With everything wiped out and reinstalled clean. Again. So I get a do-over. Back to setting preferences and marking bookmarks and transferring files. It's the perfect kind of day for it though - rainy and dreary - and I spent most of yesterday cleaning house so I have a nice, cozy nest to just hang out in today.

Maybe I'll even throw in a load of laundry.

I have a feeling I will eventually end up with a paint brush in my hand, or pulling out the sewing machine, or otherwise finding some way to check something else off my to-do list.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The dresser makeover.

I found this little gem at a garage sale last summer.
Actually I found both of those gems - the dresser and the lamp - but today I'm going to tell you about the dresser.

Consider it a Valentine's Day love story.

It was obvious the dresser had been well-loved at some point, but she was looking pretty shabby by the time I found her (yes, I've taken to calling the dresser "her" because I saw some personality there right from the start) under a bunch of other junk in the back of a poll barn.

I imagined a father or grandfather carefully cutting and sanding and gluing the pieces together in some bygone era.

And then staining the wood a dark, rich brown. Because yes, under a layer each of (probably lead-based) blue and green paint, there were drips of wood stain.

I had dreams of grandeur. Of restoring this piece to her original beauty. Or better.

Actually, I was just looking for a little more storage near the dining room and this sad-looking, dusty, musty-smelling relic had the perfect bones.

Turning this baby from her current state into a simple, cheerful, cottagey-type chest of drawers would require some fresh paint. I carefully considered several options, but in the end I chose the color I had originally planned on using. Can you guess which one?

Oh, and somewhere in the process of peeling off those old layers of paint and revealing a beautiful wood grain on the top of the dresser, I heard a voice in my head. 
"You want to paint that? You're not going to paint that are you?"

And so I relented. I left some of the wood bare and stained it, then primed the rest of the dresser for paint.

The stain actually looks pretty decent here, right?
Well let me tell you, I hated it. I painted the rest of the dresser in the color I chose and I hated how it looked with the stain. I had a vision in my head of what I wanted and that wasn't it. And there was no way I was going to live with something I didn't like just to save the look of some wood grain.

Someday when I sell this piece at a garage sale, the next owner can curse me for the layers upon layers of paint I put on it.

But I don't see myself parting with this baby anytime soon.

Orange! I painted it orange. Dutch Boy's Bouncing Ball, to be exact. 

I painted the insides of the drawers with the white primer to smooth them out and brighten them up a little. I also put a layer of orange on the sides of the drawers because they don't fit quite perfectly and I didn't want the imperfections to be really obvious when the drawers are all closed.

In a last minute wild card decision, I even decided to paint the rusty old casters a glossy white. My other option was to cut them off, but I decided the fact that the wheels are wood adds a little charm.
This photo washes out the color of the piece, but shows the cute pewter knobs I found at Lowe's on clearance for $1.02 each! They weren't what I originally had in mind, but a sweet clearance price made me fall in love with them.

So I took it from this:
 To this:

From this:

 To this:

Ain't she purty?

What you don't see here is what a time-consuming job this turned out to be. And what a complete mess I created in our front room (because we don't have a garage or basement, and I couldn't go outside in the snow). It was a little more than I bargained for, but definitely worth the effort. I ended up replacing the bottoms of two of the drawers with some wood glue and an inexpensive, thin sheet of wood from Home Depot (I asked and they took me right to the stuff I needed) that I was able to score and snap myself.

I used an eco-friendly paint stripper that I could use indoors. I ended up buying a second can because the paint on the top of the dresser was pretty stubborn ... and I am not patient enough to let the stuff sit and do its magic. For the pieces I sanded (the fronts of the drawers) I wore a dust mask because I really don't know how old the thing is and I wasn't interested in inhaling any more lead dust than necessary. Safety first, ya' know. When the weather outside hit ... oh ... maybe 27 degrees, I cracked the windows open just for good measure. That was a must on the day I applied the doomed-to-fail stain.

All in all I invested about $60-$70 in this project, and I'm good with that. I bought the dresser for $22, two cans of paint stripper, a quart of primer (and I have some left), a quart of paint (and I have a little left), and the knobs. I'm not counting the stain, the paint rollers, or anything else I can now consider part of my general decorating/sprucing up stash.

And of course, I can't put a price on my time. I'm guessing if I scrunched together all the hours I worked on this it would add up to a good three days' worth. I'm totally happy with that. I luuurve this piece! I'm doing my best to be patient and give it a good week to get really really really dry before I leave the drawers closed and actually set something on top.

Did I mention how much I *heart* this ORANGE chest of drawers?

I did?

Well then. Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clean Slate Sunday: 2.13.11 edition

I'm starting this post later than I wanted to tonight, but that's actually a good thing because it means the kids and I were enjoying some quality time with my in-laws after a nice Sunday dinner. And since the kids don't have school tomorrow - a day off for mid-winter break - it was nice to not have to watch the clock too closely.

It feels like this past week flew by. The weekend and Steve's very short visit home went even faster. As Sam and Rachel are getting older and more involved in things, we spend more time running them around than we do just being here, together, as a family. There was a moment Saturday night after Steve got home when we were all here, lined up in a row watching TV together and just chit-chatting and it felt like heaven. It didn't last very long but it was nice while it did. And this morning we chose to skip church so we could wake up a little later and not have to rush around and be out the door too early.

Alas, we had to begin our busy-ness eventually, and before I knew it another Sunday was gone and Steve was packing up his clean laundry and leaving again.

Boy, do we need a vacation.

Not so much to get away from things, but to give us some time to focus on each other, just me and Steve, as well as the two of us with the kids.

So I guess that would be two vacations, huh?

Whatever. We'll get there one of these days.

In the meantime, life goes on as usual. Tomorrow I'll have some pictures to show you of the garage sale dresser I refinished (I'm so excited!!), and who knows what else will strike my fancy this week.

Goodnight for now!

Friday, February 11, 2011


Nothing glamorous about that. Nothing at all.

I have suffered from migraine headaches - and various other symptoms that accompany them - since childhood. Long enough that I often know a day or at least several hours in advance of when one might occur. I guess if a person has to be pegged with migraine, it helps to have some time to get to a "safe" place before the serious nastiness hits, so I am thankful that I at least get some warning. I am also thankful for medications that make it so my migraines come less frequently, and are less severe when I do have them.

But even with a body that is in-tune enough to warn me of roadblocks ahead, these ridiculous headaches and the junk that comes with them still sometimes come out of nowhere.

That happened last night.

I had been working for two full days on finally refinishing a dresser I bought at a garage sale last summer, and each of those nights when I went to bed I was exhausted in that way that makes you feel great because you accomplished so much during the day. Last night, the second night, I got all cuddled into bed with my covers pulled up to my chin ... I was pleasantly tuckered out ... the house was quiet ... I turned on the TV to wait for one of my favorite shows to start ... and within five minutes I started to see the aura. Like someone turned on a strobe light in front of my face. Gah!

It felt like I had been duped. Just when I thought things were going great and I had it all under control, my body informed me otherwise. And when my body tells me I'm going to get hit with a migraine, I listen. Whenever possible - and thank God last night it was - I also pull out the big guns: Dark, Quiet and Sleep. A little medication to make the sleep come faster helps, too.

What stinks about migraines (well, besides the make-you-crazy pain and the fact that I'm often rendered useless until it's all over) is that I never really know if I could have done anything to prevent them. Fortunately it's been a while since I've had to think about it because I have them less often than I used to, but today I am thinking back over the past week or so and wondering what triggered this one.

Paint fumes?
Too little/too much caffeine?
Change in the weather?
Processed foods?
Too long since my last visit to the chiropractor?

This is the part that stinks. It could be physical, emotional, environmental ... or none of the above. Or all of the above. Sometimes I know exactly what causes them; sometimes I haven't a clue. Isn't that just like life? A total grab bag. Ya' just gotta' roll with it and find something to be thankful for.

Tonight I am thankful that it feels like I will be completely recovered from this (sometimes it takes a day or two) just in time to get started on another busy weekend of running kids here and there and everywhere. I am thankful for the opportunity to sleep off this headache hangover and wake up refreshed in the morning. I am thankful for good drugs.

And I am thankful that I will see my sweetheart tomorrow night.

Here's to a great weekend! Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Back in the game.


I picked up my new laptop this afternoon and I am way more excited than a person should be about any one technological device.

The fact is, I rely heavily on my computer for a lot of things from budgeting and on-line banking to storing and retrieving all kinds of digital information to keeping me company (and sane) through streaming music and social networks during the day when the kids are at school. I use the Internet to look up recipes, garner inspiration from music videos, look up Bible passages while I read my daily devotions. I post here and read a handful of other blogs each day. I check my son's grades and homework schedule on-line. Steve and I keep in contact throughout the day via e-mail and text.

And for nearly three weeks I haven't had any of that.

Wait. I could send and receive texts, and could at least check e-mail on my cell phone, but service at our house is spotty at best and I could never be sure whether my e-mail responses actually made it out to cyberspace, much less to the intended recipient. My apologies to anyone who expected a reply from me over the past couple weeks but never got one.

I'm still figuring it all out - starting from scratch adding all my "old" stuff onto this new computer and tweaking all the settings to my preferences. I had my old laptop for almost three years and it's amazing how technology has advanced so much in that amount of time. I'm excited about exploring it in more detail when I don't have kids hanging over my shoulders asking if they can check out the webcam.

Several times these past few weeks I really missed the opportunity to sit down at the keyboard and share my thoughts with the world. I'm so glad to be connected and able to do that again. Boy, do I have lots of catching up to do.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Technical difficulties.


My computer has been out of commission for ... well, since the last day I posted here on the blog.

Today I finally decided she is too old to put any more money into, so I asked my computer guru to recover my files (which thankfully he was able to do) and quote me a price on a new laptop.


I did not want to buy a new computer right now, but it has become one of those conveniences of life that I would just rather not live without. Like a microwave. Or a dishwasher. Do we need them? Not necessarily. But they're sure handy to have around.

So hopefully sometime in the next week I will have a new setup. Until then, I'll take advantage of the lack of distraction and finish up a few things I've been working on around the house. I've been getting a lot more reading done lately, too, which is always a good thing.

By way of update for my regular readers, I should mention that my grandma is hanging in there with us. She's weak, becoming more confused as time goes by, and this week started seeing people who weren't really there - or at least we couldn't see them. But for several days she was doing well enough that my parents and aunt and uncle felt comfortable going back to Florida, so for now I'm back to being the primary contact for her.

According to the weather man we have a heckuva storm coming our way in the next few hours. School has already been called off for the kids for tomorrow, and I will welcome the chance to sleep late in the morning.

I see hot cocoa and homemade cookies in our future.

Here's hoping I'm back in business and posting regularly again soon.