I realized the other day that I talk a lot about my garden but have never really posted pictures of it. So today, rather than bore you with my mundane life of crime... uh domestic activities, I am posting pictures of my front yard. It's particularly spectacular this year and deserves fifteen minutes of fame. Enjoy!
I admit, I've been slacking off this year and not been taking my morning walks. I don't know why; I always feel better when I get exercise. However, one of the reasons I don't walk as much in the summer is the sun is up earlier than I am. I can't stand walking in the direct sunlight even if the heat of the day hasn't begun, nor can I walk in the heat.
Anyway, I've determined I just have to get up by six if I'm going to get a walk in. So this morning marks the third time this week that I've walked.
On my way out the door every morning, I jot a note to the girls that I've gone walking, with the time I left, in case they get up and wonder where I am. Or if I don't return then they know where I went. Then have a good laugh to start my morning off right; like either one of them would be up that early to read the note before I got back. It only takes me about 40 minutes to walk my mile and half route, I can assure you neither of them will be out of bed any time before the sun has fully reached it's peak.
So yesterday, after my walk, I ate breakfast and decided to make a list of everything I wanted to get done. Purely for myself; another small goal for my summer to go along with the new walking regimen. By the time my kids got up, I'd accomplished much of the list. Here's what I had done:
Load dishwasher (I like to keep these related there own line to give myself full credit where credit is due)
Scrub old camping grill
Put old camping grill on free pile
Weed rock garden
Wash towels (I folded them too, my mistake for not having that on the list, too)
Clean the rest of the kitchen
I was out in the backyard finishing my weeding when my oldest sat down on the back patio to eat her breakfast around 11:30. I decided it would be a good "lesson" to show her the list I had on my phone and how many tasks I'd crossed off already. I wanted her to see how much a person could get done if they got up early.
She high-fived me.
It wasn't exactly the response I was looking for. I'm the parent - I don't need a high-five for getting my chores done. That's what parents do. When the youngest got up a few minutes later, she also held up her hand for a return slap.
Wait. No, no, no. It's nice they were proud of me, I was proud of myself, but they weren't listening. I was trying to impart my infinite wisdom and all I get is a high-five? Shouldn't they have stopped for a minute and basked in the glow of a lesson well learnt? Sitting at my feet, looking up adoringly, admiring my persistence, and vowing to move forward with their own lives and better themselves from then on out?
I'm trying to set an example here; pay attention. I tried one more time, "Get up earlier, you can do more than one thing a day, go to bed earlier, be responsible for some of the household..."
Oh, never mind.
The A/C is back in business and it was relatively painless. Of course, I can always figure out better ways to drop a couple hundred dollars.
We are having the technician come back and give us an estimate for a new system this week. It kind of helps to have the hubby around when repair people come so he can get an earful of what I get when I'm the only one home during repairs and understand how we are living on borrowed time with the whole thing. But he's the suspicious type - everyone is out to make a buck (yeah, and?) - and it would be amazing if he actually acquiesced.
A huge upside for him and a factor that could sway the decision to upgrade was that The Guy said the air conditioner fan could be moved to the other side of the house - away from the driveway that runs from his shop to the street. That got my husband's gears a grinding. That big unit has been the bane of his existence since we moved in here twenty five years ago. Trying to maneuver cars around it is a pain. It's the biggest factor in why I scratched his new truck against the flat bed trailer, I was trying not to hit the air conditioning fan.
If we do decide to replace it, however, it would be nice if it could wait until the end of the summer so we're not in complete upheaval during our normal travel, parties, and company. But I really don't want the kids to have to be the ones to make decisions and deal with installers while we're away. Though the perfect time would be when my Florida friend is visiting. The house is usually in some sort of upheaval when she's here, so it would make her feel right at home.
But we'll see. I have to admit, now that the A/C is working again, my mind has calmed down and I'm resting on the laurels of the workhorse of our old, old heating and air system. Because I can also think of more fun things to spend a few grand on, too.
I've learned how the other side lives. Our A/C went out over the weekend. I didn't call it in as an emergency, though. I mean the low 80s is not that hot and the evenings cool off so no one is miserable; except my oldest who actually has an freestanding A/C unit in her room and is just a big whiny whiner and has the gall to complain about its age and struggling state these days.
Plus, every one of us now has a ceiling fan in our bedrooms thanks to the ingenuity of my adopted middle daughter. Though she has moved on to bigger and better things, she has left a lasting legacy.
Last winter I made a smart move in spite of my husband's protests. When I had a guy come out to look at our furnace because I didn't think it was running properly and it hadn't been serviced in years, I signed up for the furnace company's "club." It was a fairly low rate and I figured it was a good insurance policy. So when I called this morning, I found out that because I'm in the club, I'm guaranteed same day service and a $79 discount. Not sure why it's $79 and not $80 or $75, but there you have it.
I did give my husband the chance to figure out what was wrong with it. But after he installed my youngest daughter's fan, which made a grinding noise, and he had to uninstall it, buy another one. Then he used the motor from that one hoping it was quieter. It was, but then the light didn't work and he had to take it all the way apart again. He discovered he hooked up the wiring weird, fix that, then put it all back together, then returned the bad motor back to the store. After that frustrating incident, he decided I could call The Guy.
That's our name for the furnace repair man from here on out. Everyone needs "The Guy." Even if The Guy turns out to be a female, I her fate is decided.
Our heat pump is old, old, old. I believe The Guy said it's from the 80s. But in spite of its age and inefficiency, I am hoping he can just fix what ails it. Although I've felt we should have upgraded years go, this is an inconvenient month to have a complete overhaul of our heating and cooling system. My husband has never been on board with the idea of replacing it before it craps out.
I predicted, because of this decision, there would be a point in our future when we'd be too hot or cold and here it is.
I have high hopes The Guy can put a large bandaid on it and bring it back to life. Although, the last time he was out here and looked at our system, he was squelching his laughter.
Well, an intervention was inevitable, I guess. My house was beginning to look a lot like an episode of Hoarders again (after last year's huge room swap), but it had hopelessly stalled. My oldest was wandering around yesterday morning shell shocked, not knowing where to start; her sister had run off to enjoy the High School Takeover at Wild Waves. So I decided if nothing else my efforts would be a teachable moment.
I really wanted the girls to do all their own moving and planning, but apparently they haven't reached the maturity level it takes to complete or even start such a massive task. They had a little plan the other day when they were both home for the evening: they swapped shelf belongings. That's all fine and dandy, but in doing that they clogged up the hallway making furniture moving impossible. At least they had some sort of a plan; baby steps.
To be honest, when I start a huge task like swapping rooms, I'm not initially sure where to start, either. It takes walking back and forth between rooms several times, observing what there is and what has to be done in each room before I can formulate a plan. Once I do, I jump right in.
However, the tendency gets me in trouble. Once when my youngest was going to help her friends clean out their guest room; she didn't know how to help them start the task, I decided to go in and observe and "give my suggestions" on how to best accomplish it. I ended up staying all day, laboring right along with them. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't without much pleasure on my part. I love doing that kind of stuff, especially when it's not my own house.
But my desire not to get involved in their room swap this time was my hope that some of my knowledge had rubbed off on them and they'd know exactly what to do. It's not like they haven't seen me do this several times over the course of their lives. Though they aren't quite there, I am satisfied that they did came up with the first plan on their own, and I was willing to pitch in.
I was excited that my oldest had insomnia the night before and used her wakefulness wisely by planning out the layout of her new room. That gave me a target to work with.
She was grateful when I told her I was going to help her and she'd be sleeping in her new room by that evening. What I didn't anticipate (there's always something), is that we'd have to thoroughly clean the room before we could move anything out. I figured a little sweeping, mopping and dusting, but there was stuff everywhere: garbage under the bed, a whole village under the couch, unidentified sloppage in other places (I don't ask). It took a good portion of the day to find the floor.
Then there was moving my youngest daughter's humongous bed, which required moving the furniture in the family room around to get the thing out the door. If my husband had come home after work it wouldn't have been such a pain because he knows how all the furniture pieces come apart and go together. He was getting a car part built for the '30 Ford. I hate it when my agenda and his don't match up, but at least I think we get to drive it during our 4th of July camping trip. When he did finally get home at 7:00 (in my mind my daughter and I would finish by 5:00 - right), I told him he couldn't tell me I did anything wrong.
But I had - done something wrong - I stripped a screw that was holding part of the mattress platform together. After my husband got home and started helping, he gave me another burst of motivation that we could accomplish everything I had anticipated for the day. We set up my oldest daughter's bed, nightstand and closet unit (which looks very cool freestanding against a wall in her room).
And a good thing came out of me messing up the screw. My husband suggested he take my youngest daughter's bed completely apart and we put her mattress on the floor for the night. He will stop by IKEA and get some replacement screws on the way home from work today. By then it was 9:00 and I was grateful for the idea and the fact I didn't think about it shows how tired I had gotten by then.
My youngest walked in the door just when her mattress went down and she and my oldest did a little bonding before they went to bed.
I woke up this morning feeling pretty good. The house is still in a shambles, but I hope to have most of it settled again by this evening. But before you think I really have it all together, I realized a few minutes ago that my shorts were on backward. They were already zipped and buttoned; I just took them out of the drawer and pulled them on. Though I wondered why they fit so weird, I didn't think about it.
Teachable moments, indeed. Here's another great picture to sum up my day:
I cannot believe how much stuff my youngest daughter has. The thing is, when she moved from her tiny room into the large room with her friend for the last school year, she purged her whole childhood.
I didn't think she'd accumulated a bunch of stuff in the past ten months. I'm fairly aware of what comes in and out of the house, especially anything large. Now looking at everything, I have no idea how she is going to fit it all back into her little room.
An intervention may be in order soon if anything substantial is going to get done. I'm very good at reorganizing rooms and I think the key here will be as it was with all the others: take everything out, then sort it as you put it in.
The problem being both the girls need to be here at the same time. My youngest is attempting to enjoy her first summer as a free agent out of school with her first job and my oldest is working part time. Their schedules are not coinciding well. Today they are, but my youngest's high school got free admission to Wild Waves, and well, we know where she'll be today. I don't blame her for wanting to go, but then I look at my house and think, "Really?"
The girls need to be together to get this huge room swap done. The one evening they both landed home at the same time, it looked like productivity. But don't be fooled. As my youngest was arranging one shelf in her new old room to her liking yesterday afternoon, I was looking at the explosion of her clothing drawers in the room she's supposedly vacating. I guess whatever makes her feel like it's her room again is important, but really?
The elephant was wandering the house.
We're doing another big house flip. With my middle, adopted daughter moved back to her parents' home, my two bio daughters want to switch bedrooms.
My youngest has come to appreciate her former little bedroom and wants it back. When she was young and would visit friends, she'd come home and complain about her tiny bedroom and extrapolate the advantages of having a large bedroom like her friends. I'm not sure what it was she wanted us to do about it; our house is small, the bedrooms are small. She was just lucky to have her own bedroom in my opinion. Though I'm sure she suggested her sister move out and we bust out the wall between their rooms and make her one big bedroom.
But now, after living in the spacious bonus room for ten months, she longs for the coziness of her tiny bedroom. She feels more secure wrapped in the cocoon of her little room.
I would have reluctantly moved my office back to the bonus space if my oldest wanted her room back, but I wasn't super excited by the idea. Mostly because of the actual physical moving and figuring out how I'd arrange it with the furniture I bought specifically for the room I'm in now. But also because I've really enjoyed having my office in the main part of the house. It's more convenient for me and though I appreciate the friendliness of my youngest daughter's cat, I'm not really interested in having him in my face while I'm working.
Fortunately, my oldest isn't emotionally attached to her childhood bedroom and liked the idea of having the bigger room. A bit like an apartment situation. We may never see her again, except to squirrel away food like a phantom in the night or the occasional flush of the toilet.
But I don't really care what they do. I just don't want to have to do any of the labor myself. It took some time for them to figure out how to get rolling on the idea. My youngest needed to kick up her heels this first week out of school and play with her friends. My oldest worked a lot, but was totally lost on how to manage the huge task of switching rooms.
Because I didn't want to be involved, I probably nagged more than I helped. My youngest felt her sister was the clog in the sands of time, I felt my youngest was because her room was a mess and how could she expect her sister to move in when all her crap was spread all over the place. My oldest was just stuck in her head with how big of a job it would be.
They finally pulled together yesterday and made some decisions on how exactly they'd handle the switch over. Now my hall is littered with books and there is some small furniture scattered in between. I did suggest they wait until right before our Florida friends arrive. That's what we did last year when my middle daughter moved in and we had the whole house in upheaval. Our friends showed up and we were hard pressed to find a place to even sit down and eat dinner, much less for them to sleep.
But they don't want to wait. My youngest is really excited to be settled back into her old digs.
My middle daughter left her queen sized bed, because her parents bought a new bed for her bedroom in their home. My husband and I were excited to use it in our RV, because the mattress in there was just a foam pad. The previous owner had added one of those large gel pads from Costco and it made it tolerable. But we were wanted something a little stouter. So my youngest and I switched the mattresses while my husband was at work, which was one of the cogs in the wheel of the move. Move the mattress out and they'll have space to work in.
What none of us knew was that the RV mattress is about six inches shorter than a normal mattress. Now there is only about six inches of space to step around the end of it when moving around in the RV bedroom. It might be okay, but it's one of those things we're going to have to try out until we can decide if we can tolerate it.
The free pile will just have to wait until after Fourth of July weekend to have one of the mattresses.
It's just all another switcheroo in the life of my household. Does anyone expect anything less? I think we'd all be bored if we weren't always rearranging or building something. Except my husband, he would have fine if we still had the two, gold, velour rocking chairs and the small side table in the middle of the living room when we moved in this house twenty five years ago.
Yesterday had to be the weirdest Father's Day on record. Both the kids were working so it was up to me to acknowledge my husband's fatherhood. But we had just gotten back from a camping trip specifically for mapping out his club's poker run and if that's not honoring him I don't know what is. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I do it for him.
It's a lot of pressure on me to come up with something creative every year. The problem with having a poker run in Westport, is there is no west. West is the ocean and I'm pretty sure none of the street rodders want to end up in the ocean. It was nice to camp, though, because the day we got there we kind of just ran around the area and got an idea of the route, then the next day did the actual mapping.
Every year, when plotting the poker run, I go through all the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, until I come to the last stage of acceptance. It is what it is and I've done my best and let's be honest, the poker run is not a life or death event. My reward is when the participants get hopelessly lost and it gives them something to talk about for the next year.
Anyway, back to our Father's Day. My husband ended up making me breakfast because I made him a couple delectable breakfasts during our camping trip, plus I woke with a huge headache. But even in his mind it was going to be a working Father's Day, because like many things in life, tasks we need to get done only surface while we're actually using something. So I made a list on the trip home of the most urgent tasks we'd forgotten about all winter.
Not the least was fixing the barbecue. On our Memorial Day trip, we discovered that not only had I not remembered to clean it before we put it away, but the gas regulator was plugged. It didn't work anyway.
It was also a septic day for my poor hubby. What a way to spend Father's Day. Our home septic was clogged, which he discovered when one of the kids was showering and the toilet blurped. I was so glad it was him who discovered it and not me on laundry day today.
The handle on the black water in the RV also needed to be replaced. We went to the do-it center and they had the cutest little barbecues. They were colored and there was even a purple one. They were kind of expensive, so we figured we could find one online cheaper and get it before our Fourth of July trip.
Apparently, it's one of those items that is the price it is no matter where you find it. So I Googled regulators and found them for around forty dollars. Then the problem began with my husband's passive aggressive nature. I usually handle it by doing what I want, but the grill was expensive and I told him to decide. I was fine with whatever.
He kept saying weird things like, "put that forty towards a new grill," "it's the money that gets me," "I could probably clean this regulator if I tried," "we could put the old one on the free pile," "it's a lot of money."
I was exasperated and went out to wash the filthy motor home. He followed me and decided to put the handle on the black water drain before I got the ground all wet. It stopped me in my tracks and I sat on the porch and surfed Facebook out of frustration.
Much of the morning was gone and I had yet to accomplish anything. My husband decided we'd order a new regulator. So I went in and found one for thirty four and with shipping it came to around forty. I was just about to hit the order button and my husband said, "last chance to get a new grill."
"&$@&%!&(#" Are you kidding me? I didn't push order.
Really, I had no idea what he was thinking and by the time I took him out to lunch at his favorite Mexican place, I was practically in tears. I was so confused and he wasn't helping matters any by trying to explain what he was trying to explain.
I just said, "Give me your final answer."
He chose the new grill.
Once home he put it all together and fired it up. Finally, it was time to wash the motorhome. I was emotionally drained. It was good to do something as mundane as scrubbing the RV, but we were both wiped out by the time we were finished.
It was the weirdest Father's Day on record. It was totally my husband; my kids' father. This photo about sums up my day.
Hey, who you callin' a dip?
Last weekend was my daughter's graduation celebration. My oldest had a huge blowout with family and friends, but my youngest was reluctant to have one. She doesn't like to be the center of attention and just because she graduated it didn't make her feel any better about it.
She said the grandmothers could come and then just our family. Well, if the grandmothers could attend, we'd need someone to drive her, so we'd need to invite her aunts and uncles. If we're inviting aunts and uncles, we may as well invite her cousins, then my husband's cousins, and my cousins, too.
She still wasn't super comfortable and said if she was having a huge party she'd rather have it with her friends. I asked what her friends were doing that day and none of them were having their parties after the graduation ceremony. I offered to have one huge blow out for all of them and our family, then all attention wouldn't be on her.
I tried to get the kids to coordinate the party with their parents and have each bring something, but if you've ever tried to get teens to coordinate anything, you know it's an exercise in futility. Not only that, they couldn't even tell me who was actually going to come or whether they were even bringing their parents. Then I mentioned it to a couple of the other mothers who I knew well, but they weren't in a position to commit or plan for it.
Finally, to take the stress off myself, I just told my daughter I was throwing a party at noon after graduation and she should tell her friends. Then I could get to planning it myself. Initially my daughter wanted to have cold cuts and salads, but then one night we were having tacos for dinner and I suggested a taco bar. She and my adopted middle daughter thought that was a great idea. Tacos? Easy peasy! I sent out FIESTA invitations because it was a template already set up in Publisher. It was getting easier by the minute.
But as I was flipping through my recipes one evening, I came across Seven Layer Bean Dip and thought it would be a nice addition to our Fiesta. Then Pioneer Woman posted a Hot Corn Dip and I got more excited. The snowball, or should I say hot tamale, started rolling from there and by the time I got to cooking for the party the menu had grown:
Seven Layer Bean Dip
Hot Corn Dip
Spinach Pasta Salad
Green Salad with spring mix, feta, cranberries, and pecans
Oh I was out of control. So I started eliminating, re-adding; totally confused and stressed as any good hostess is. When I started cooking Friday afternoon, I did not know where the food would take me. But it all eventually fell into place. Once I made the Seven Layer Bean Dip and Hot Corn Dip, I decided that was enough cream cheese for anyone and eliminated the Artichoke Dip.
I took out the Spring Mix salad, then added it back in after a quick consult with my neighbor about leaving something green to the mix. The Spinach Pasta Salad got the boot because it was too much food, didn't fit the theme, and I was pretty wiped out by the time I could even think about it.
The whole party turned out fantastic and for once, not only was there plenty of food (there usually is), but I didn't have tons of leftovers. It was all just right. The Hot Corn Dip was the star of the show and a bold new recipe for a party (that is how I roll). I hope you enjoy it as much as my guests did. This is Nacho Mama's Dip (see what I did there?).
Hot Corn Dip
I decided not to pack the RV until this morning because we were having issues with the coach (living space) battery and my husband had not yet addressed the problem. Which means the refrigerator wasn't on in. I could have packed around it, but without the fridge I felt dead inside. Besides, I'm a bit of an RV packing pro these days.
After years of forgetting things, I now have a routine where I pull stuff from their normal locations and make piles around the house. I piled pillows (because we need to have our specialty pillows), my sleep apnea machine, and clothes on the bed.
In the kitchen I grabbed the laundry basket and load it with available food items, planning meals as I load. There's a couple baskets in the RV that hold meds and fruit and I fill those. I found that I really don't need to go grocery shopping before we go on a trip, we just eat normal food when camping anyway. And once the RV is packed for the summer with staples, which I had done for Memorial weekend, any subsequent trips are easy.
With the ease of my morning, I think I will never pre-pack again until the first trip of next year when I'll need to load the staples back in. Unless we plan to get up and leave early in the morning on some trip. That usually doesn't happen, though.
I know making a list would be smarter, but because this newer RV has so much storage, we store all the equipment inside it all year around. I just add clothes and food. I never know what's in the fridge until I start packing. We don't eat all that I pack anyway, but it's nice to know we have it and won't starve.
And let's be honest here, we never go anywhere that civilization isn't a short car ride away and we can buy anything we're missing. It's funny, though, every time I pack for a trip, I just picture us crouched in a corner with a shirt wrapped around our heads like wild beasts because we've run out of toilet paper.
My mind gets a bit over dramatic at times.
Coffee with Gleigh
These are my morning musings. Have a cup of coffee with me and we'll solve the problems of the world, or at least laugh at them until they make sense!