Tuesday, April 30, 2013

# 431 - The Forest and Family

This past weekend my niece came for a visit. Shaye is six years old and the two of us have an extremely close bond.

As for us moving, she's seen the process of selling a house take place. Over the past several months she's observed the For Sale sign go into the yard; she's heard us talking about people coming to see the house; and she knows that a family of six is moving into the house, but she's never been to our acreage. So, she really doesn't understand WHERE we are moving to, except through pictures.

But, right now, we live less than ten miles away from Shaye, so we get to see her at a moment's notice, if we want. However, most of our gatherings are scheduled in advance so all of us can make the best of the arrangement.
Having Shaye around is hysterical because a six year old is unpredictable and a straight-talker.
And when she's at our house, we keep that kiddo BUSY. I suppose I came from a background that encourages children to be active, to explore, to be challenged to use their brains, to enjoy heavy outdoor activity and hands-on projects NOT completed by the ADULT.
Over the past couple of long visits to our house, Shaye and I put in some heavy-duty time toward making a home-made felt story-board. Initially, we spent five hours cutting felt designs out, with the help of a pattern. Then, we went "artistic" and off-pattern.
The above story-board showed Shaye's creative imagination...she explained this story-board as a scene with one girl wearing a bracelet as she holds a duckie and her "imaginary friend" stands next to her. Who would've thought a six-year old would make a story-board with an imaginary friend?
The photo below she titled, "The Life-Cycle of a Tree" and when I first looked at it, I was a bit confused, but she explained. "The blue drop at the base of the tree is tree-seed, then there is sun, rain and growth so that the tree grows big with a beautiful flower!
I look at Shaye and wonder, "Are you really six years old?"
I attribute her Tree-Life-Cycle knowledge to the fact that her daddy is in charge of the church garden which grows vegetables and fruits for charitable purposes. Nearly every weekend, they are doing something with the garden, from sowing seeds to harvesting the crop.
My own children grew up helping me with a garden that I grew every year. For years, my husband would only help prep the ground for the garden and the rest was up to me. So, the girls really got to play a part in gardening. 
Yearly, I started seeds inside the house and soon my girls knew exactly how to pick a ripe tomato or they would be eager to run get a bell pepper needed for dinner preparation. My oldest daughter Heather is pretty awesome at gardening at her own house near Fort Worth, Texas. She has a beautiful ornamental garden, and every year, her vegetable garden expands.
Heather is pregnant with her first baby, so I hope that, one day, her little girl will also be given lots of outdoor time with her mother in the garden. Digging in the dirt with your mom or dad is really special. Those moments are so sweet. 
Anyway, Shaye loves to be at our house, and she loves doing projects, but in a few days, we won't have a house!

After a long day, Shaye and I were sitting on my bed looking at Facebook pictures her daddy had recently posted...he's a professional photographer on a stellar level...for real, he works for NASA.

So, Shaye and I were checking out some weird photos, laughing and acting silly, then in the middle of the hopping around, she accidentally put her foot on my face. WHAT?

Of course, I made all the sounds of disgust that one would make after a foot touches their face and this prompted a bit of foot/face craziness that had her laughing so hard that she collapsed into a torturous rolling fit of giggles.

Soon, we were taking pictures of the silliness, and I told her that this nuttiness meant my face needed a serious disinfecting.

Since we're moving in about three weeks, I hope that Shaye will adjust to the major changes. No longer will we have this house that she calls a "mansion."

Thank God.

But, I am hoping she adjusts to the country environment and doesn't miss this house too much. I have a feeling, with her personality, she is never going to want to leave our acreage. She's already been asking if we can get her a horse.

I keep trying to prepare her for the environmental difference she will small back yard or neighbors in sight. I explain that her aunt and uncle will actually live IN A FOREST. I don't think she'd be able to grasp the concept of this kind of life until she experiences it.

Since we don't yet have a house on the acreage, in three weeks we will discover the forest might be the only home we own!

Looks like RV shopping is again on our list of priorities.

Monday, April 29, 2013

# 430 - Car Shopping for Country Commute

Moving to the country means that we need a vehicle for the country commute. Currently, we own TWO trucks, not the best mode of transportation when it comes to gas mileage. And mileage is going to be an issue as Deputy Dave drives from his acreage/farm to downtown Houston during the week.

So, this past weekend we visited several car dealerships.

The Fiat is pretty darn cute, but Deputy Dave is pretty darn big.

We were laughing so hard. I realized that his arm span is so ginormous that he would not have to worry about power locks or power doors because he could access EVERYTHING in the car with a simple reach over.

He seems to think this vehicle would have PLENTY of room for him because the interior looked so spacious. However, we were making mad dashes to multiple car lots on SUNDAY so we could look at the body styles, car stats and prices without interruption; Sunday looking means no sitting inside the vehicles and no test-drives. But, our goal was to whittle down the choices and to waste less time later for our test-drive selections.

However, it was nice to narrow down the search for real contenders. Below, the Ford Focus is nice, gets good gas mileage, and has a decent price.

And then I stumble across this little baby --- oh this is SO ME! Maybe another day...

I believe the car below is called a Ford Spark, but it is REALLY SMALL. One claustrophobic feature is that the backseat is positioned directly against the back window. Essentially, there is no trunk space, so if you were rear-ended, you would be feeling it, and any back-seat passengers would be bumper-bait.

However, this car had a price tag of about $14,000.

Regardless, the wheels are so tiny that excessive mileage on long trips might have those babies burning from rapid rotations needed to roll the car. And I think the engine was a 1.2 and might be enough to be coaxed up a hill or two.

Then, we get to the Honda dealership and I feel as if we have ARRIVED! The Civic has amazing "standard" features that would cost major money to upgrade onto other vehicles, and this car has a great price-tag, which makes you take a double, triple, quadruple look.

The Civic has a nice body style, it's an established vehicle and it seems Honda has the manufacturing of this car nearly perfected, especially for the price. I believe this one is approximately $19,000 and is fairly loaded, except for leather seats.

The Honda Civic below is my favorite. It has a "Whale Tail" (or whatever that is called) added to the back/top of the trunk...I love it.

Okay, Deputy Dave finally found a car that fits him like a glove. I can see that Goldilocks expression that says, "This one isn't too big and it isn't too is MEGA FAST and is JUST RIGHT!"

However, the price tag of near $60,000 is NOT right at all.

I think the Honda Civic is the winner.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

# 429 - Accepting We're MOVING!

Easing into slight panic, again. Since our house is now RE-SET to close on May 15th. I have boxes to fill, drawers to unload, clothes to shuffle through, and...and...and...I need to get back on track.

Moving day is inching closer to us with each passing day. Sometimes I can't believe we're moving out of this home. My real estate agent and best-friend keeps saying, "I don't think you're accepting that your house is about to be sold."

It is hard to believe that it's really happening. Everyone knows this is what we've been waiting for, especially because we're wanting to get out of this heavily industrialized area.

However, today I walked through a few rooms in the house, and I had a moment of feeling nostalgic toward this home and the memories it holds.

To be sure, trials, tribulations and triumphs have happened at our current address.

Every place we live has stories that go along with it. Things happen. People play their parts and life sometimes takes you on an unexpected tumble. Then, there are the moments when your life is good and everything seems right in your little corner of the world.

These days, as I wander around going through boxes, reducing our possessions, I find that I have a strange affection for this home. It is beautiful, is full of character, is roomy, practical and each room carries a reflection of our personalities.

It's great that a large family of six will be moving in. The buyers told us they are more excited than they can express to be moving into this house as they desperately need the extra space. They live on the block behind us. Not exactly a long-distance move for them, but for us, we will be driving a couple of hours one-way to get outta here!

Yep, I can feel it.

Bit by bit, the house is becoming less ours.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

# 428 - Tea Bag to the Rescue

Yesterday I had a typical traumatic experience at the dentist for a couple of extractions that were necessary. My dentist is a long-time family friend and a big-fingered brute who loves his job. Of course, I walk in and he dreads the visit because I'm one of those complicated patients.

So, the shattered tooth is being removed and this one is the worse; the assistant has to stand behind me with her hands pressing under my jaw to stabilize my head/jaw as the dentist digs and pulls, then drills, then pulls some more, all while I am trying to keep my legs from doing the air-bicycle motions.

Anyway, I felt better once it was finally over! The dentist was wiping sweat from his brow. I was so numb that I couldn't feel my ear.

However, at home, later that night, my mouth came ALIVE. I kept gauze compresses in my mouth, kind of biting down to try to stop to constant bleeding; however, it kept going all night and that kept me up, mostly at the sink or at the freezer for a fresh ice-pack. Deputy Dave slept on the couch so I could do somersaults on the bed all night, as needed. Not fun.

My dad tells me, "Put a tea bag in your mouth, on the gum, and it will help the swelling." So, I tell Deputy Dave to keep the morning tea bag for me to use, after it cools down.

I decide, in my desperation, and in my exhaustion, to give it a try. Initially, I realize that my small mouth has trouble allowing the tea bag to fit into my mouth, so I leave part of it hanging out. After all, these are TEXAS-SIZED tea bags and I have a Rhode Island sized mouth!

I lay in bed, in misery, with a pounding jaw, a tea bag hanging out of my mouth, and Deputy Dave is laughing so hard that he has to turn his head to not see me so he can regain control of himself.

Thanks Dad! It worked for a while, but I think I need another tea bag. There's always tomorrow morning's tea to look forward to. Maybe that tea-bag-mouth-session will show the tag hanging from my bottom lip.

For the next two days, I don't think I will be packing for our move; I won't hardly be moving a muscle because my heart has re-located to my gum. Besides, there aren't ENOUGH tea bags to get me through this misery, so I am reading, watching movies and blogging...because crying doesn't help!

Ouch eey ya ya!

Monday, April 22, 2013

# 427 - Moving Process - Letting GO!

Getting ready to move with our re-set closing date of May 15th is bringing on heightened stress for moving day. The best thing we can do for ourselves right now is to reduce our household items so that we have less to load into the moving truck, less to haul, less to unload, less to put into storage, less to worry about...having less is best. That means we must LET THINGS GO! Or we must sell them or give them to a worthy family member who appreciates free stuff!

Most every room has been handled except for my oldest daughter's closet which has had boxes stuffed with her belongings for YEARS. I don't have the time or inclination to go through these things because I ALREADY have my "precious" items from her childhood on display. Besides, I believe some of these boxes have part of her college-life inside them, so these are hers to deal with.

My daughters, visiting each other this past weekend.

As for Stefie's things, I'll be storing those for a while because she's still officially a college-student which means a life of residential instability, it comes with the territory of trying to find student-housing each year.

During this process of scaling back and going through closets, drawers, under beds and crevices, I am glad to be doing ourselves this big favor of getting rid of excess. After twenty-six years of marriage and after raising two children who are now grown, we have accumulated excess.

Going through the excess!
Often, the mother is the keeper of things that no one else would ever care to keep or store. So, that is the difficult part...letting go of things that I know had been my right to keep, as the mommy, but that I must now either send to the curb or to the grown kid for their own accumulation dilemma.

Welcome to more FUN parts of being a grown-up!

I elected to keep certain gifts from our daughters, artwork or mementos that deserved a place of honor in the home, for display. However, the other stuff sitting in bulky boxes for years, taking up valuable closet space...uh...that's gotta go.

So, bit by bit, we are gaining ground in the house and reducing our "lots of crap" side of life.

I look around this house and know that my country home won't have all this livable square footage, but it will have the most awesome YARD I've ever seen! Yes, I'm partial and in love with that acreage!

Once we're on the acreage full-time, hopefully after May 15th, we'll also be able to FINALLY have an INCREDIBLE garden. Eventually, I will call a little greenhouse my second home.

In preparation for our moving date in just over three weeks, I sold our master bedroom suit.

It sent a pang of anguish to my bones to sell this beautiful furniture, but it felt good knowing it was going to someone who appreciated its grandness. Last weekend, we watched the furniture go bye-bye as it was loaded, strapped down on a trailer and towed out of sight.

Deputy Dave then decided to get on with re-finishing the hardwood flooring in the master bedroom. Since we have double French doors off the master, it is a high-traffic zone of the house. I go outside into the backyard through those doors to feed the chickens. The dogs come and go through those doors. Therefore, the floors in the master bedroom take a beating.

Also, our Australian Shepherd, Howdy, had loved his secret hiding spot under that big king bed that we just sold and his low-crawl methods found his claws digging into the finish of the wood floor under the bed. Once the furniture was gone, the floor's finish looked horrendous!

I cleaned the floor, scrubbed the floor and mopped it repeatedly. Then, I scrubbed the baseboards and parts of the walls that had been scuffed. Next step...I gave the walls a nice treatment of touch-up paint with left-over wall paint I kept in old plaster water bottles with a glass bauble dropped into the bottom to make shaking and mixing the paint a cinch. After the touch-ups were made to the walls, the room began to look much better. To pull it together, I painted the clean baseboards with a fresh coat of white paint. Ahhhh. Looks great.

But, the best part was to come. Deputy Dave began the tedious process of re-finishing the hardwoods. Cleaning, sanding, cleaning, sanding and finally he put on a fresh coat of polyurethane to give the floors their famous high-gloss appearance.

That said, we won't do high gloss in the country house.

After letting the lacquer dry, I unloaded furniture drawers from upstairs. This is where I basically began lifting things out of drawers and putting them into MORE boxes because everything in those drawers belonged to my oldest daughter. Lift, put into box, lift, put into box...easy peasy. Brainless activity that went fast. Finally, with my favorite light-colored antique furniture free of stuff, I carried each empty drawer down the stairs. Then, Deputy Dave carried the furniture pieces down the stairs, by himself. And I don't know how he does this stuff, but he managed to get our new queen bed-set down the winding stairway, by himself, and we set it up in the master bedroom downstairs.

NO MORE STAIRWAY CLIMBING! The new Queen mattress set FINALLY has a place in our bedroom downstairs!

Now, the master bedroom is without a king-sized bed, it has a queen, and the room is free of large furniture (that I had loved) so the room is looking pretty awesome and spacious.

And I realized that I've never been a furniture "set" kind of person. That didn't work for me. I like the eclectic appearance of things mixed together...modern, antique, country...I like it all. Good, solid pieces is what I am all about. Newer furniture is NOT better, and I can testify to that fact. Our most beautiful furniture are family heirlooms, Goodwill finds, or purchased after searching for quality used furniture that is made of solid wood or crafted with unique style.

However, I am back to the style I had embraced for the first twenty years of our marriage...straight-line simplicity.

Now, I just have to get my oldest daughter, who is approximately five months pregnant, to tell me what to do with her dance competition costumes. Since she's having a daughter herself, that might be something she will want to keep for her girl to have in her dress-up box. Those days are right around the corner for her; she won't believe how fast those days will arrive. Soon enough, she'll have her own daughter to dance around, so she might want to keep those costumes for herself to wear again!

So, tonight I am heading to bed in a room that is so free of bulky furniture and clutter. My spirit is rejuvenated!

Tomorrow, I am putting the formal dining room table set up for sale and that will be one more area of freedom and space acquired by letting GO!

Reducing my household belongings means we'll have less upkeep which means will have more times to be with family, such as our outing Saturday evening at a local Cajun restaurant. My dad, my sister and her family, then David and I enjoyed everything from raw to grilled oysters, shrimp po-boys, gumbo and bread pudding. Not bad. And getting to take a break was nice. It's great to be with the ones you really love...

Friday, April 19, 2013

# 426 - National Tragedies = Sadness

Having a post set to hit the blog at a certain time is nice, but I am in such a state of sadness over all of these events that have taken place the past couple of weeks, so many innocent people impacted.

There was the stabbing at the Lone Star College, here in Houston. Approximately 14 people were sliced with a blade by a deranged fellow student. This just goes to prove that anyone will lash out with an intent to hurt or kill, with any weapon.

It's more about our culture of violence that is to blame. What is causing this behavior? Drugs? Video Games? Mental illness? Lack of face-to-face socialism skills?

Anyway, then we had the bombings in Boston. We followed the events on television and Americans were sick at heart as we learned of the deaths and the terrible injuries that some people have suffered. And to know so many were hurt by the shrapnel that flew into many bodies; I believe the physicians felt as if they were treating patients in a war zone.

I was praying for the city as they called for a "Shelter in Place" which is something our area is very familiar with because of this industrial area and "regular" explosions involving hazardous chemicals. We have the siren warning system to helps us get to a Shelter in Place right away. But, to see Boston taking these measures because of a terrorist...for residents to be in lock-down in their made you realize that the city paralyzed as first-responders crawled around the city looking for the second suspect.

And good for the woman who noticed her boat being disturbed, she trusted her instincts and called the authorities. Eventually, the last hold-out was caught, taken alive.

However, yesterday morning we found out that West, Texas has a fertilizer plant in town that exploded. Since my father worked in a local fertilizer plant here in Houston, from my childhood thru my adulthood, we were always taught the extreme dangers of working in such an environment, so when we heard about the massive explosion in West, Texas, we were stunned and devastated for the entire town. There's no telling just how many people have been affected by that explosion.

It's difficult to fathom all of the emotional pain that area of Texas is experiencing.

What do we say to people who must find a way to put the pieces of their lives back together? Some lives cannot be whole again. Some lives will be forever altered or will never be the same because someone crucial to them is gone.

In Texas and in Boston, a little more innocence has left their midst, yet increasing strength has taken its place.

Typing this post from my little I-Phone pad was not easy, but I had to share thoughts with all of you because it's hard to be on track with ordinary blogging as these events take focus is on the victims of these tragedies. Any one of us could have been in their shoes; we rally behind them while knowing the days to come will not give many of the victims relief because their battles have just began.

I am finally going to sleep as suspect #2 is in custody for the bombings and the torturous thoughts that can run through your mind at what the bomber could do next has been eased with this capture...well, for now that is alleviated, but our hearts are still heavy with the knowledge that these kinds of things can happen in any of our towns and that the lingering after-effects are far from over.

As for West Texas, our hearts are heavy over the devastation that came upon them so suddenly.

Maybe later I can get back on track with writing about every day "boring" things that are meaningful to us regular folks because that's what we do in America...we do our best to stay on track and to live a regular life, even in the middle of irregular times.

God Bless America and I am looking forward to making a trip to Boston, hopefully THIS YEAR!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

# 425 - Conversation with a Chicken

Moving day has been re-set to May 15th. The same buyers got their stuff together and will be closing on our house very soon. I wish we would have met the close date this month, but life happens.

Meanwhile, I get to enjoy my backyard chickens. Howdy and my grand-dog, Thor had a wonderful time romping around as the chickens were fed scraps from the kitchen.

And how is this next shot for the ULTIMATE in chicken poses?
Belle the Yorkie was here with Stefie as well, and she is still a turkey and a half! She is every emotion rolled into one little hair-ball! Such personality!
Howdy was hogging all the doggie toys and Thor began to howl with displeasure.
And the chickens discuss the fact that they are happy they don't get sloppy kisses from the four-legged furry creatures because they've paid attention to the things dogs do with their mouths. The chickens are not impressed.

Some chickens are more arrogant than others.

So, I decide to conduct a political chicken interview with The Little Red Hen I refer to as "Lil' Red." In case you didn't know, chickens LOVE to talk politics; they are quite opinionated and wise, in spite of their bird brains.

I ask, "Since you've not been laying eggs on a consistent basis lately, I decided we'd have a little chat. What do you think about being able to vote...can you give me a secret as to how to select the best candidate for the position?'

Lil Red answered, "I vote for whomever provides the most guaranteed feed."

I asked, "But, don't you like to scratch around and work to find your own goodies in the ground?"

"Oh Yes!," says Lil Red with a head jerking around with delicious thoughts, "I love those big juicy June Bugs, dragonfly crunch treats, wormy worms, and all kinds of insects!"

I scratch my head as Lil Red scratches the ground with her chicken claws, then I ask, "Doesn't it kind of suck to eat the provided store-bought food that your masters provide every day instead of enjoying a diet based solely on all the lovely things you can work to provide for yourself?"

Lil Red answered, "Sucks? Yes, it sucks to not have a bucket full of bugs to eat every day, it sucks about as much as being an egg-bound chicken with a Pit Bull on her tail!"

"Well, why eat the grain that the master provides instead of just eating your own goodies?" I ask.

"That's a silly question," she replies, "I don't have freedom beyond this fence; And, I don't have to think about scratching too much because I know I can walk over to that feeder; I see you work harder, so I automatically work less. I know a hand-out is coming my direction, so I don't fret about things such as scratching from dawn to dusk. Besides, I am not free, I'm a chicken owned by you backyarders, so my main sustenance is no longer my concern, it's yours."

Lil Red seems to be too complacent with her provisions, "Aren't you concerned that all those hand-outs might come with a high cost? What if, tomorrow, the master decides you look perfect for the frying pan?"

Lil Red blinks a few times and says, "That's silly. Besides, I don't think about tomorrow, it's too far away. Who thinks about tomorrow when you can get freebies today?"

From the corner of the yard, I hear Big Momma screech, "Hey! The way I look at it, I am not getting a hand-out!" Big Momma runs up to me while squawking louder in my direction, "You come out of your big coop every day and since we're all running this company called a 'family' I know I've got to do my part to get that feed, so I lay an egg."

Good point Big Momma. You are contributing, indeed.

I look at Lil Red and ask, "Have you laid that egg today?"

Lil Red says, "He he ha he he ha...Who's counting? Uh, by the way, you're not cooking fried chicken for dinner tonight...Right?" 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

# 424 - My FIRST grandchild!

For all my regular readers and for the new people joining in on this roller-coaster ride of big changes in our lives...I have GREAT NEWS!

This weekend, we had a Gender Reveal Party and that meant on Saturday we all found out whether our families were going to have an addition to the "Girl" Team or an addition to the "Boy" Team.

Personally, all I cared about is that my daughter be safe during her pregnancy and delivery and that the growing baby be healthy. I also pray there will be no complications during the birth of this precious child.

That said and clear since I am the Mom of the Pregnant Beauty...I have always felt DEEP IN MY HEART that my daughter was carrying a daughter. Something just spoke to me, as if I'd already been told and had no qualms about that fact.

The moment the happy parents find out
that their baby is a GIRL!

But, it was thrilling beyond measure to find out the baby is INDEED a girl with a big group of people who love Heather and Henry and are eager to meet this baby on the due date!

Henry and Heather had the sonogram technician give a sealed envelope to one friend who was in charge of the party for the Gender Reveal.

So, the parents were extra patient in finding out if their baby-to-be was a boy or girl.

And I think there are always the what-if's with the potential of either gender, so there is a huge level of excitement when you have a better picture of the baby you will meet in a few months, but it is also completely natural to also have a little bit of mourning for the other gender you had long contemplated because you kind of feel like you lost a baby you never got to meet --- just those sweet moments of considering the baby to be a boy will be an adjustment. I know some family members had their heart set on a boy, but I think Heather and Henry will probably be blessed with a good-sized family, so the baby boy might still be around the corner!

Deputy Dave will be a first-time Grandpa and my dad
will be a first-time Great-Grand-PawPaw

However, for adjustment needed since we KNEW IT WAS A GIRL!! However, now I feel as if I have the green-light for BABY-GIRL SHOPPING TRIPS GALORE!

However, since the path is now clear --- it's all BABY GIRL --- there are so many fun, exciting, thrilling and fanciful things to look forward to enjoying!

And for those of those with video-watching capability, turn on the volume and join in the moment we ALL discovered the bun in the oven is super sweet!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

# 423 - Tree Changes

Since our house is in a Bay Community, our landscaping includes a lot of tropical touches.

A couple of months ago, the towering Palm tree at the front of our house had a shaggy appearance. The palm leaves needed to be thinned out and the peeling bark needed to the shredded off.

Deputy Dave shimmied up the tree, well, with the use of a very tall ladder and he worked all day on this tree to clean it up.

One thing is for sure, this tree grows extremely fast.

Another tree I've enjoyed in the city is the Magnolia tree that my husband planted for me. I wanted a Magnolia tree in honor of my mother who loved Magnolias. I was sad about having to leave this tree behind. Apparently, the people who were set to buy our house loved the tree as well.

Miraculously, while on our land, Deputy Dave was clearing a section of land and came across an odd looking little tree, which he realized was one of the wild Magnolias we have growing on our acreage. He transplanted the magnolia into a pot we'd brought from home.

I felt as if this Magnolia was a true gift from God. The one linked to my mother would be staying with the house we're selling, but this one appeared on the land and it will be nurtured so it can grow big and strong with gorgeous fragrant blooms.

I'm glad to have this free, wild Magnolia that made itself known during a time I needed it! No store was needed for this plant because it said, "Here I Am!"

I am hoping to find more wild Magnolias throughout the acreage so I can make sure they are planted in the best locations to savor the ultimate Magnolia happiness!