Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best Christmas Gift

When Gary's parents asked us what we wanted for Christmas, we had a really hard time deciding what to tell them. Then, one day I was driving home and it hit me. What we could use the most was a kitchen island. One of the things I love most about my house is the huge kitchen. Unfortunately, as much floor space as the kitchen has, it has very little countertop. We don't really need a lot of storage, but I'll be happy to have the extra storage. We'll put our food storage, wheat and oats, which are in 5 gallon buckets, in these cabinets. It will also have a bar and barstools. 


I am so thankful for this gift.


Plus, it gave Dad something to do while he is here.


If only I could put Mom to use too.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Iced Tea

I am from the south. For those uninitiated, this means that I drink iced tea. I drink a lot of it. In fact, I used to drink about 3/4 gallon every day. I only drank sweet tea. That means that I was drinking 3/4 cup of sugar every day. That's right. I was drinking 3/4 cup of sugar every day.

In September, I went to a new doctor. He is a naturopath. He suggested that he might be able to cure my health problems. One of the things he wanted to take care of was a persistent yeast infection. You know, the kind that shows up on your tongue. He put me on a strict diet. I was to have no sugar, no caffein, no gluten, and no dairy for 2 weeks. Then, at the end of that 2 weeks, we discovered some other indicators in my blood work that caused him to recommend I continue that diet for another month. I ended up being on the diet for a full 2 months.

I'm now able to consume all those things in moderation. However, during my time of abstinence, I unlearned my sweet tea habit. Don't get me wrong. I'm been drinking decaffeinated tea for about 3 years. I didn't give up tea. I just gave up the sweetener. Now, I've been off that diet for a month. A few days ago, I made a gallon of sweet tea. It just didn't taste right. Ah, the wonders of changing your taste buds.

And, thank you to my new doctor. I love him very much.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I'd Like to Thank the Academy

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And my instructors

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And Yoda (for teaching me not to try, but to DO)

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But mostly my husband

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The other new black belt

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Aren't they beautiful?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just Let Me Finish This Page


This is what I see when I go in to tell Dominic it's time for lights out.

By the way, he's reading Ranger's Apprentice. He came in my room the other day and started reading the second book, which was laying on my cedar chest. He stopped about halfway through the first chapter and said, "I think I should read the first book." He's loving it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Laundry Room

Have I told you what a wonderful husband I have? Well, if I haven't, know that he is wonderful. Today, he stopped on his way home and picked up some of my favorite candy in the world, See's Candies Peanut Brittle. Yum.

Last night, I started cleaning and organizing our laundry room at 8:30. Bad move. It got my brain working, which is really bad such a short time before bed. I only got 5 hours of sleep because my brain wouldn't shut off. Oh well. My laundry room is now clean. I forgot to take before pictures. I'm not usually so remiss. This is the finished product, though.







Thursday, December 8, 2011

Atypical

Last night, as I mentioned, Dominic had an allergic reaction to something. Our allergist informed us that his reaction was not a normal allergic reaction for an inhaled steroid, and the only reason they put those things on the information sheet is because they have to. I think I need to find a new allergist.

Here's the deal. My family has atypical reactions to things. When I have an ovarian cyst, I react with excruciating pain and vomiting, probably caused by the pain. It took doctors over a year to figure out what was wrong with me. They examined me for everything from STDs to pregnancy to being drunk. They refused to examine me for an ovarian cyst, even though we have a history of them in my family and a cousin suggested that as the cause, because that is a not a normal reaction to an ovarian cyst.

Xavier was 5 when he had his first asthma attack. It was in the middle of the night. He was transported to the hospital by ambulance. This happened twice. Both times, the doctors told us he had croup. I had heard his breathing. I took him to another doctor who agreed with me that he had asthma. "He has an atypical presentation," she told me.

When I started going to the doctor almost two years ago to figure out what was wrong with my brain, they refused to even consider vitamin deficiencies. Oh no. It had to be something neurological. I had MRIs, and more blood drawn than a person donating blood, just to find out I did, in fact, have a vitamin deficiency. My symptoms were atypical. It's not every day you hear about a person having tremors, memory problems, and fine motor skill loss from a vitamin deficiency.

So don't tell me it's not normal. I know that. We'll keep you on your toes. Be prepared. We're not normal. We're interesting.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

People of Walmart


Tonight, I had to make a run to Walmart. Dominic had an allergic reaction to the medicine the allergist put him on for his allergies. Oh the irony. I needed to make a run to the Mart and I wasn't modifying my clothing to do so. This is what I was wearing.


You see, this morning, I put on my pants and shirt. Then I realized all my cushy socks that I wear as slippers were in the laundry. So, I threw on my mukluks. After a bit, I decided I was cold and put on that lovely, attractive, clashing matching cardigan.

I went about my business, blissful in the knowledge that no one was going to see me in my outfit. I was walking through the living room when those mukluks saved my heels. I stepped on this.


It is a three inch needle that was straight before I stepped on it. It went into the leather on the bottom of my mukluks and stuck. Whew. If I had been wearing my socks it would have gone into my foot. Those mukluks deserved to be worn to Walmart. So, if I end up on People of Walmart, just understand that I was giving the mukluks a well deserved outing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gift Guessing

Blog Her threw out a writing prompt today that took me back a few years. "Do you like to try to guess your gifts ahead of time?"


Oh wow. When I was a kid, I always tried to guess. My mom use to switch the names on the tags so that we couldn't know whose gifts belonged to who. There I was, sitting at the schoolroom table. There were a bunch of wrapped gifts under the table. I was swinging my feet (I have short legs and I'll maintain to my dying day that's why I swing my legs and put my feet on chairs), and I kicked one of the gifts. It ripped a hole in the package and I could see plain as day that it was a Speak and Say. I knew that had to be for my two year old sister, but it had my name on it. Well. That ruined her plan to keep me from knowing the gifts weren't mine. But, I never went to the length my dad did as a child. It's my understanding that he use to carefully unwrap his gifts, then rewrap them in same paper. 


As an adult, I prefer not to know what I'm getting for gifts. I want to be surprised. I frequently know ahead of time what I'm getting, but I wish I didn't. I like the surprise. It just makes everything a little bit better. My mom has managed that for the last several years. I have had no idea what she was getting me. The anticipation is much better this way! What about you? Do you prefer a surprise, or do you like to know what you're getting?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Allergies

Dominic's new theme song:


We had allergy testing done on Dominic today. Well. He is allergic to life. *ahem* Following is a listing of things he's allergic to:

All trees east of the Mississippi, all southern grasses, all weeds, mold, tobacco, dogs, cats, dust mites, smut (decomposing leaves & grass), and has either a mild allergy or the chance of developing an allergy to the following foods: corn, fish, peanuts, rice, soy, and tomatoes. Yay.

I'm just happy that he doesn't have a lot of food allergies right now. Hopefully, we caught this all early enough to reverse it. We'll see what our naturopath has to say about it. Have I mentioned that I love my naturopath? He's wonderful.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Preparations

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Dominic and I decided we needed some Christmas art.

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He isn't quite happy with his artwork, but I prefer his. It seems more original.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Community Property

I live in what could only be termed a collection of houses in a rural environment. I want to live in a neighborhood. I have always wanted to live in a neighborhood.

Today, Gary and I were discussing the need for various things. One of the things mentioned was a lawn mower. We have a riding lawn mower. Most of our neighbors have riding lawn mowers. Those that do not hire someone to do their yard work. Do we all need riding lawn mowers? Could not four or five families pool their money to purchase a lawn mower? They could take turns using it. Not only would it save a lot of money, it would save storage space, which would, in turn mean that not everyone would need a garden shed. 

This was the most obvious object I thought of, but others are certainly possible as well. We have land for sell in our neighborhood. We don't have anywhere to gather, though. If everyone in the neighborhood pooled their money, we could buy one of the lots and put up a playground. Sure, that would mean that we'd have to have some type of liability insurance, and many people would equate this sort of thing to a home owners' association, but to be honest, I'm just talking about people working together for the betterment of their community, not throwing down a lot of rules, which HOAs tend to devolve into. 

One of the things I've noticed is the tendency to isolate our families in our own yards and houses. We fence our backyards and stick swingsets back there, isolating our children. We spend time on our computers, but not on our front porches, if we even have them. It is the rare neighborhood where people spend time together. 

I think it is time to step out of our sheltered independence and learn to rely on each other once again. It is okay to need help, and it is okay to be able to do things for yourself. Just because you can do something for yourself, doesn't mean you should. Just because you can afford to own something, doesn't mean you should. 

Please, don't misunderstand me. I'm all for independence. I'm a pioneer type person. But, if you notice one thing when you read books about the pioneers, it's that they depended on each other. When it came time for threshing, they went around to each other's farms and helped each other. When it was time for sugaring, they all worked together. And, when it came time to help a sick neighbor, they were there to do it. They had a community because they worked at it. We need that. We need less division in our country. We need to work together to build our economy, lives, and neighborhoods. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Toilet Paper Wars

This is a repost from my other blog, Kristina's Soapbox, which is no longer active. It originally posted on 3/9/2008. I can't believe I've been blogging that long! I encountered this problem again recently, and thought you might enjoy this.



It all started when I moved back in with my parents when I was 20. I was pregnant and had to get up to go to the bathroom frequently during the night. In the middle of the night, you need to know what direction the toilet paper if facing to make it a quick trip.

I was a "down the back" toilet paper hanger and my mom was an "over the top" toilet paper hanger. We had a silent war going on. Contrary to what usually happens in a household, we each longed to be the one to change the toilet paper. It was quite a coup to be able to have the toilet paper hanging your way for a change. Not once during that 5 month war did anyone say anything about it aloud. The only casualty was sleep.

When Gary returned to the US, and we moved to Florida, I was thankful to once again have control over the toilet paper, only to find out that, *gasp*, Gary was an "over-the-topper". Once again we had a silent war going. I won most of the battles because Gary was not home as often as I was. Then, one day, we got toilet paper that had a design on it. And, the design was printed to be right side up when coming over the top of the roll. *GASP* Well, my organizing mind had to deal with the fact that I was wrong. I became an "over-the-topper". We have had peace in our house for 7 years. You might say that the toilet paper company negotiated a peace deal successfully.

Now, hostilities have broken out again. "How?", you might ask. And, you would be right to ask that. The answer is, because the idiot man has become a "down-the-backer". There is no rhyme or reason to why he has done this. I know it is the influence of his new squadron. They are evil and I'm going to have to nip this in the bud. I think I'm going to have to take the war to them. Maybe I'll TP their desks on Monday.

Hmmmm..... That might not be such a good idea. No telling how they'd pay me back. I guess I'll just have to keep silent vigil over the toilet paper rolls. Maybe I can change them out when they start to get low.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Attempted Mooching Pays Off

Every year on Veteran's Day, restaurants all over the country roll out the red carpet for veterans. Gary and I decided to go mooch off Applebees this year. So, I dug through my files for my DD 214, and we headed to Applebees. We arrived, only to find out there was a 45 minute wait. We decided to patronize an establishment that was not giving out free food to half the county. We paid for our dinner, and we enjoyed it. 

We missed out on a free meal, but we have the potential for much, much more. When Gabriel was a baby, I applied to use my GI Bill and was turned down. At the time, we thought it was because of my length of time in service. On Veteran's Day, I read my DD 214, apparently for the first time. Yes, I know I should have read it closely when I separated. I will just say that I was pregnant, tired, and reeling with the news that I owed the Navy $1600. I didn't read it as closely as I should have. What I found out is that my DD 214 is wrong. It says that I did not contribute to my educational benefits. But. I. Did.

I'm very excited about this. I spent the morning on the phone with the VA and DFAS. I found out what I need to do to change my DD 214. Hopefully, I'll be able to acquire my old pay statements, and then have my DD 214 changed. If I'm able to do that, I should be able to get my GI Bill. That would just make my year.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dominic's Chorus Concert

Right before we found out Dominic had pneumonia (read- we sent him to school sick), he had his chorus concert. He has been looking forward to this all year. The school offers chorus as an after school activity. We paid $30 for a year's worth of chorus. I think we're getting a pretty good deal. My taxes didn't go up to support it, but my kid still gets to enjoy music.


This was Dominic's favorite song. He drove us absolutely nutters singing it, but after watching him perform it, I can understand why it was his favorite.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Under Quarantine

Last Monday, Dominic was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was the third kid in his class to come down with it. Today, Xavier got his formal diagnosis, although we had already figured out that was what he had. Gary is also sick, although he doesn't sound like he has pneumonia. We'll see.

Right now, I'm considering locking Gabriel in the basement with some MREs and a few cases of water until everything is cleared out of the house. I have been assured, via Facebook, that this would not be considered child abuse. It would be in his best interest, after all. For myself, I'm considering a chem suit. That should protect me while I take care of all the sickies in the house.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Have I Mentioned

how much I hate Scrabble? Since this post, Xavier and Gabriel have become big fans of Scrabble. Even Dominic has developed a passing interest. It's only been a couple weeks!


Even though he still reverses letters (and sometimes whole words) on the Scrabble board, he still won. I found it humorous that he misspelled "better" in his victory message.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In the Garden

Last winter I abandoned all garden plans. I knew that I did not have a good place to plant, and I was focused on providing a good permanent home for our chickens. 

We cut down trees, put up fences, and gave our chickens a permanent pen. Ah, but then we decided that we needed to put the chickens on hold. The chickens, you see, could not be left out past dark without putting them in danger. The number of days we're away from home during that critical time of dusk were just too many. We decided to give our chickens a new home. While I miss my hens, I know it was the right choice. One day I will have chickens again, this is just not the right time.

It is the right time for a nice big garden, though! I love gardening. It has been extremely frustrating not having a garden since we've lived here. I am spending the winter planning, growing, ordering, perusing. A few of the plans I have made so far include fruit trees, herbs, potatoes (oh my yes), tomatoes, peppers, corn... Oh, did I mention the garden is taking over the chicken pen? We never had someplace that had enough sun for a vegetable garden that we'd also like to fence. We needed to clear out trees in the backyard. I have planted a garden in the front yard, but the deer eat it. They eat all of it. It is very depressing. We do have to take a couple more trees down to reduce the amount of shade just a tad bit. 

We'll plant an herb garden in the front yard around the patio I am building out in the middle of the yard from river rock harvested from our yard. We will include a few apple trees. I'd love to have a couple plum trees as well. That will also be my cutting garden for flowers. I can't wait to get started.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Down Time

We are all gamers. For the most part, my video games consist of things like Plants vs. Zombies and Zuma. That's only because first person shooter games make me sick, though. Mine was the first Nintendo generation. We got a Nintendo when I was in fifth grade, I think. My older brother and I played that thing obsessively. I was good. I still am. I've got great hand eye coordination. My boys cannot even begin to come close to beating me at the original Super Mario Bros. And, when I can get over my motion sickness, I can hold my own in other games. But, for the most part, I just leave that to the boys.

Last week, Gary got an invitation to help test a new game. All of my boys were in alt. They spent Thanksgiving downloading it. 

Today, Xavier woke up at 3:30 and hopped in the shower. He had no idea it was so early. He woke up, thought it was time to get up, and started getting around. He hasn't been feeling well, so I thought he was taking a shower to warm up. Sure enough, midway through his shower I could hear him vomiting. Poor kid. Gary went and told him not to take a long shower so that he could get back to sleep. That's when he realized it was still the middle of the night.

When everyone was awake, the gaming started. I'm pretty sure Gary and Gabriel are still at it. I left to go to a friend's swim meet. I spent four hours chatting with a friend and watching her daughter swim. It was wonderful, and I was out of the boys' hair. Our family certainly did our part to test the system. I sure do hope the other gamers were as diligent. Oh, right, we're talking about gamers. Never mind.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Grape

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.- Soule Mama





Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Our Way

Our very first Thanksgiving together, we spent in the hospital. We had been dating for about a month, when I ended up in the hospital. Since we were in Greece, far away from family, Gary fixed me Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, candied yams, rolls, and two kinds of pie, all served out of little Rubbermaid containers. I have a picture somewhere. The nurses at the hospital thought he was so cute. I did too. It was at that point I decided to marry him.

Fast forward fifteen years. We have spent at least five Thanksgivings at my parents' house, four at Gary's parents' house (one which included my brother- Thank you family, for welcoming him!), and one at his sister's house. Two of the last four Thanksgivings have been without Gary, and my uncle spent his last Thanksgiving at our house.

This year it is just the five of us, and we were fine with that. Some of us stayed in our pajamas all day. One of us got dressed. One of us got partially dressed. We all played Settlers of Catan. Dominic is recovering, but is still tired. Everyone was happy to be together and, yes, thankful too.










Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Birth of a Friendship

I remember sitting in my best friend's living room. Her mother was sitting in one of the dining room chairs, and we were ranged around her on the floor. I was twelve years old. We were listening to her read Dragonsong. I fell in love that night. I know how old I was because I still have my set of the Harper Hall Trilogy that my parents gave me on my thirteenth birthday.

I still have that trilogy, and they have been well loved. They have been all over the world, and have introduced science fiction to my children. I quickly moved on to her other Pern books, and introduced them to my brothers and father. Fortunately, I had the forethought to write my name in all the books. My brothers were not able to claim them. 

(*ahem* These really were my books. Anyone who tells you that I had the bad habit of adding my name to any and all books that fell into my hands if full of bunk. And, if the random book says "Kristina Swan", ignore that. He was a childhood crush. It doesn't negate my claim.)

Throughout my life, I have turned to Anne McCaffrey's books. I have worked my way through all her Pern books, right up until the ones she wrote with her son. I have not started those, yet. I loved The Rowan series. Oh my. My father did not like them as much. He felt that she was too wordy. I do have a partiality to Pern. Who wouldn't? But The Rowan series speaks to me. 

Crystal Singer! Oh, had I only perfect pitch so that I could be a Crystal Singer. Sure, I could be a Talent, but there's no way I could even dream of being a singer.

And what sci-fi junky hasn't thought about what would happen if aliens invaded the Earth? The idea that humans could fight back, and even make a better life for ourselves on another planet, is what made Freedom's Landing so fascinating for me.

Then, as a homeschooling mom, I was introduced to something I didn't even know Anne McCaffrey had done. It isn't science fiction, this one. It is historical fiction of a fantastical bent that only Anne McCaffrey can accomplish. If your children have not read Black Horses for the King, I highly recommend it. It is one that will reside permanently on my shelf, just as her other books do.

I was sad to hear that Anne McCaffrey died. It hurts. I am so thankful to her for writing. You see, that night in C's living room, I was experiencing the birth of a lifelong friendship. Thank you to V for letting me be part of your family's read aloud. Thank you to Anne McCaffrey for introducing us all to Pern.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Swatching and Sick Babies

Joining Ginny for the Yarn Along again this week.


I am about 26 rows from the end of my tube top, and I ran out of yarn. Fortunately, the yarn store is local. I'll stop by and pick up some more yarn tomorrow. In the meantime, I am swatching for a last minute Christmas gift.


This is a beautiful alpaca from a local source, Moose Breath Alpacas. I've used their yarn before and been very pleased. I was so excited to see this yarn, since it fits the pattern I had in mind perfectly.


Now, I can't tell you much about the pattern, since it is a Christmas gift. I'll share some shots as I work on it. Of course, I haven't finished swatching yet. Do you swatch? I have become a diehard swatcher. I can modify a pattern to fit my yarn/needles. But, boy do I hate frogging or starting over!

I really haven't gotten much reading done outside the doctor's office. Dominic has been to see the doctor three times in the last week. Come to find out, he has pneumonia. He is the third kid in his class to get pneumonia in the last month. I am not happy. I do wonder if their parents would have kept them home longer, if the school didn't push attendance so hard. Of course, the doctor said I could send him to school tomorrow, since he's been on antibiotics and fever free for 24 hours. I wouldn't, though. He's still coughing, and at times, lethargic. I am of the firm opinion that he needs more time to heal. He's only just starting to recover a bit. Why chance a setback? Fortunately, I don't even need to worry about it, since there's no school for the rest of the week.

I did get to read a magazine that I'd been trying to get in between other things. I got a subscription to Hobby Farms Home Magazine. Last month's issue was my first one and I love it. There are so many great recipes and ideas in it. This month, they have an entire section on gardening, including ornamental and edible. They have information on canning and couponing (for organic food!). I spent much of the two hours of Dominic's doctor's visit last night reading to him from the magazine. We learned about opossums, working dogs, and planting seedlings in eggshells, all very interesting things for a perpetually curious little boy and his just as curious mother.

I hope you all have a wonderful week of knitting and reading, and, if the time permits, fun with family.

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