It’s been quite a year . . .

I had such plans for my blog this year. I had great thoughts of what I was going to write about, how life was going to go, and then things started to spiral in all sorts of directions. Hmmm. . . I guess that’s how life works, isn’t it?

plans

A run-down:

January: After nearly 14 years of living in the same home, it was time to move. There were too many not-so-good memories in that house and I wanted to downsize. I met with a realtor, determined a time-line in which to get her recommended improvements done, and started the work.

February:  The goal was to have the house on the market by the end of February. I had to repaint the entire ceiling (kitchen/dining/living room/hall/entry way) due to changing out the light fixture in the kitchen.  It took 6 GALLONS of paint and a lot of time & energy. I didn’t meet the deadline. I wasn’t even going to even start looking at other homes yet as I didn’t want to get my hopes up in case my own home didn’t sell in a timely manner. My teenage son didn’t help matters any when the hallway had to be patched, as well as his bedroom wall, and the bedroom door replaced. Ugh.

March: House finally hit the market after spring break and a lot of sweat equity!

April: Let me tell you that trying to have a house ready for viewing with 3 kids, 2 dogs, 3 guinea pigs and working full time was just crazy.  However, on our 3rd last minute showing, the house sold —  in only 4 days!! Uh-oh, now I have to find somewhere else to live AND pack! I had already started purging things left and right and even managed a yard sale in an attempt to earn some $ instead of just giving it all away. That was a nice surprise as I earned about $300 for one day! Then there was CraigsList and Facebook Marketplace to help get rid of some of the other stuff. . .

May: I ran the Spring Prairie Fire Half Marathon and, amazingly, somehow managed a PR in spite of all of the craziness! I finished in 186th place, 4th in my age group out of 67 women with a time of 1:53:49. Soon after, my nephew graduated from high school. We found somewhere else to live but the home inspection came back with horrible issues so we backed out of that deal and luckily didn’t lose my earnest money. In the meantime, my teenage son got angry in the bathroom and punched a hole in the bathtub. Another costly repair. Closing on my existing home was scheduled for May 15 and I didn’t have anywhere to live!  The rush was on to find another home! This entire time I’m praying for God’s guidance and his direction on all of the plans. After all, He’s got this under control, right?! My stress levels were off the charts . . .

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trust in god

May continued . . . I found another home but they couldn’t close in time with mine so we moved all of our house into a storage unit and moved in with my parents. A week after closing, school finished up for the year and we headed to Sanibel Island, FL for a week with my parents. Perfect timing for a break, that’s for sure! I ran miles on the beach, biked across the island, relaxed poolside, and enjoyed time with my parents and children. I also got to see my aunt and uncle that I hadn’t seen in ten years! The very next day that we returned from FL, my oldest son moved to Lawrence, KS. Well, he IS 20, but nothing can prepare you for your children leaving home.  And it’s not like he was just around the corner — it’s a little over 2 hours away!!

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Bikes and beaches. Ahhhh . . .

 

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I loved running on the beach!

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My beautiful children at various locations on Sanibel. But then again, I’m biased!

June: My mortgage company was giving me issues and dropped the ball on the purchase of my new home, delaying the closing date to mid-June. Praise God, though, as the sellers were willing to let me move in on our original closing date! If that hadn’t have happened, I would have had NO help to move all of our belongings AGAIN, this time from the storage unit to the new house. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in my mortgage company.  What makes it even worse is it’s the same company that carried my previous loan! Crazy. In the meantime, my younger brother and his family were planning a move out of state. They had put their house on the market and my sister-in-law had already moved to FL. We settled nicely into our new home and it didn’t take me hardly any time at all to unpack. I still have work to do with it (the previous owners REALLY liked the color gray and couldn’t paint worth a darn) but it was mine with fresh memories ready to be made in it. Refreshing, I tell you! I also managed a quick weekend trip to my parents’ lake house. A change of scenery can do one good, that’s for sure, especially with someone you love!

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Here we go again! Between moving from 1 house to the storage unit, Taylor moving out, then moving all of this out again into a new home, I was sick of moving!

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In the outdoor gardens at Crystal Bridges. We couldn’t resist having our picture taken by the LOVE art!

July: Even though I was feeling less stress than I had all year, my ocular migraines returned. I have been suffering with these migraines for more than 6 years and they’re actually quite strange.  They come on suddenly, rolling in behind my right eye, feeling like a knife is piercing me. I had already had an MRI in the past and tried medication, to no avail. After more than a week of excruciating and debilitating pain, I opted for daith piercings.  My niece also suffers from migraines and she said they really helped her. Once I got through the pain of the actual piercing and the healing of the cartilage, I am pleased to say that they have most definitely helped. I would highly recommend them! By July 7th, my brother and his family left for their new home in FL. In the meantime, I’m supposed to be training for 2 more half marathons and a 10-miler so my training has been suffering.

Still July:  I spent two days taking a class working for graduate credit in order to renew my teaching license by January. Next up? Homework! Then I went to my parents’ lake house and enjoyed time with my younger two children as well as my boyfriend and his children. The water was lovely and floating around in the hot sun was refreshing!

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Still July: Fast forward a week and I awoke with a sore throat. No big deal, right? Except for it got progressively worse. And worse. And worse. The Dr. visit said mono or strep, yet all of the strep tests came back negative! The white sores in my mouth told me otherwise, however, so after waiting too long on test results, I finally got a prescription for an antibiotic. Let the healing begin! Once again my training was derailed and I felt like I’d been run over by a truck. Argh!

So, what do you do during all of these types of fiascos? Dare I say that I’m actually glad that it’s now August and I’ll soon be back at work? Well, maybe I’m not THAT desperate. Cling tightly to His hand. I do believe in what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! God always has a plan. . .

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It All Came Crashing Down

Yes, I AM a fighter!

Yes, I AM a fighter!

The weekend following my first full marathon and my last blog entry, my life as I knew it came crashing down. It wasn’t something I had envisioned happening EVER. I was blindsided and the emotional roller coaster I have been enduring since October 19th has been no less than brutal. But I’m not one to quit anything I’ve started. Never have been and never will be. Unfortunately I wasn’t the only one that had a say in the matter.

So true.

So true.

I have been adjusting to a different way of life with my focus on my precious Lord and Savior and an incredible support system of the best family and friends a woman could ever hope, not to mention my wonderful children and fur babies. I’m making my life simpler – by canceling my Facebook account, limiting who are my true “friends” are on other social media (I love the pics that people post on Instagram), decluttering and (hoping) to do better at not being so materialistic – and finding new inspiration or building on what truly matters (quality time with my children & finding time to do what I enjoy like home improvement, crafts, reading, for example). I had thought about taking down my blog but decided on a hiatus instead. That and I enjoy going back and looking through my posts. Maybe someone else out there may like them. If not, I’ll enjoy this little bit of selfishness 😉

One of my many favorite Bible verses that helps keep me going in this crazy place of a world.

One of my many favorite Bible verses that helps keep me going in this crazy place of a world.

Oh, and P.S. I prefer not to be too personal in this blog post so I have not divulged any specifics. Please don’t ask. Feel free to infer if you must, just know that I’m human and doing my best to cope in this new life that was not of my choosing. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you manage it the best way that you know how. This is my way of handling it. Oh, and I’m covered with meds & counseling, thanks 😉

Take 3? Or 4?

I’ve lost count how many times my daughter has redone her room. Hers was the first room we painted when we moved in, a soft pastel pink (she WAS 3!)  Since then we’ve done white with purple, and white again, not to mention how many times we’ve changed out the bedding and accessories. This past year she’s been itching for a loft bed to give herself more room but she didn’t want to downsize her full size bed. Her birthday was at the end of November so she got yet another redo!

Before - She'd gotten a little excited and already taken her box spring and frame out of her room before I could take the proper "before" picture. But you get the idea!

Before – She’d gotten a little excited and already taken her box spring and frame out of her room before I could take the proper “before” picture. But you get the idea!

After searching around town, we ended up using Site to Store from Walmart to get her bed. She specifically wanted a metal one and the only ones we could find in town were the clunky wooden ones with huge drawers and extra beds or even a slide(?!).  She chose one that had a desk already built in underneath. Very streamlined and open underneath, as long as she doesn’t bonk her head on the ceiling fan! Her walls needed a fresh coat of white paint (which we already had) and we had already replaced the curtains with the black, room-darkening, insulated ones, also from Walmart for less than $10 each  (much better for west-facing when it’s summer!). Even better, when we ordered the bed through the website, I was able to use a 5% cashback reward through my credit union. Woo hoo!

Building the bed!

Building the bed!

We ordered a cool bead curtain from ebay in black that she liked so much, we decided to order another one. It gives a little partition between the main door and her space under the bed. It had to be trimmed because it was so long and we used an existing tension rod that we had to make it fit nicely.

Next up, she got the idea that she wanted to splatter paint one wall for an impact and add some shelving. So in early July we did just that, taped off the adjoining walls, stirred a bit of water into a free sample of paint that we’d already used to paint a shelf for her bed (gotta love Lowe’s Valspar coupons for sample paint!) and let her go to town! (Personal Note: yes, this freaked me out a bit and I wondered if I should let her do it. But really, what harm can it do? I did the prep work with her help and it’s just paint – something that can be repainted if necessary. In the end she got a few dots on the white popcorn ceiling and that was the only damage. Whew!)

We purchased the interlocking shelves at Ross and she had a specific idea of what she was going to put on them – pop bottles with flowers (maybe painted, maybe not) and candle holders (warned that she can’t light them on the shelf – eek! fire hazard!) She also lined up all of her cologne sprays from Bath & Body Works on them as well. She had a wall mirror before but somehow managed to crack it so we got a new one (less than $5 from Walmart). She wanted a table of some sort to put all of her make-up and stuff in it that didn’t jut out too far and settled on a rolling cart that we got from Menard’s ($19.99 but I used a rebate that took $5.99 off it from a previous purchase).

Before with walls taped off.

Before with walls taped off.

Working on the splattering part . . .

Working on the splattering part . . .

These sample jars from Valspar at Lowe's are only $0.99 but I had a coupon for mine. Perfect for testing colors or using them for accents.

These sample jars from Valspar at Lowe’s are only $0.99 but I had a coupon for mine. Perfect for testing colors or using them for accents.

AFTER: splattered wall with shelves, new mirror and rolling cart.

AFTER: splattered wall with shelves, new mirror and rolling cart.

Did I mention that my daughter is sewing her own quilt to go with her room?  Well, she is, and I’ll say that she’s doing a wonderful job of it as well. My mother has taught her how to do it and this isn’t her first attempt. Now that we’re really getting a roll on putting the finishing touches on things, she’s been working hard on her quilt, too.

Here's a part of her quilt so you can see the colors.

Here’s a part of her quilt so you can see the colors.

Sewing away!

Sewing away!

Jocelyn originally had a foldable purple chair in her room but since it’s molded plastic and probably hard to paint, she wanted something different, preferable a stool.  That can also be tucked under her desk area much easily. When I was cleaning out the storage area this summer, I discovered a short stool that had a padded but torn seat. The legs will need to be trimmed and painted and then we’re going to use some leftover fabric from her quilt to make a cover.

The stool - BEFORE

The stool – BEFORE

She also wanted a plush chair of some sort to go underneath her loft bed to lounge in instead of up on her bed.  She decided on one from Target that was $44 but I used my red card to get a discount. She said it was her “human sushi roll”.  Say what?! She looks very comfy in it, though! She also spends more time under her loft instead of in bed!

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Other than finishing her quilt and covering the stool, there’s just one more thing to make the room complete – a rug. Unless I get the urge to rip out the carpet and I doubt that’s going to happen.  We have yet to decide on the color and size so we’ll hold off on that for awhile.  We have one very happy gal with her fancy room!  Hopefully this will keep her happy for awhile so we won’t have to redecorate it again!

My Quick Cedar Chest Refresh

Have you ever had a project that you’ve been wanting to do FOREVER but never got around to doing it?  Then, when you’ve finally done it, you’re wondering why you hadn’t done it earlier?  That’s me with this project.

My senior year in high school I received this cedar chest as a gift. My mum had one that she kept her sweaters in and I just loved the idea of a “hope chest” to keep my memories in.  I started out putting my sweaters in it.  Then I used it to store all of my wedding things in as I was planning my wedding.  Now it’s full of miscellaneous memories from wedding pictures to my pencil collection to medals to baby memorabilia like videos and pregnancy books and lots, lots more. It probably needs cleaning out, too, but I’ll save that for another day 😉

My original cedar chest.

My original cedar chest.

So my project was to recover the top.  This is the original fabric and since I’ve been out of high school for 25 years now (gulp!) it’s had some wear and tear on it. Literally.  There are 3 tears in the fabric but fortunately they’re not huge and from the picture you can’t see them.  Besides, there’s usually stuff on it as my hubby uses it to put his clothes on.

I finally went to Joann’s yesterday with my measurements and found a lovely piece of proper fabric in a brown with a pattern to it.  I found lots of patterns that I liked but since I change out  my bedding twice a year, I wanted something more neutral.  I have the main wall behind the bed that is painted a chocolate brown color and the rest of the walls are a latte off-white/beige color.  This was on sale at $9 per yard; I got 3/4 of a yard and used a 15% coupon that I had so it was quite inexpensive, about $6 with tax.

My gorgeous fabric!

My gorgeous fabric!

The top of the chest was easy enough to get off – just 8 screws.  I already had a staple gun and staples so all I had to do was cover and go!  This took me less than 30 minutes.  The hardest part was the corners (took a couple of attempts to get them less bulky) and putting the darn thing back on.  I couldn’t line up the screws properly which took a lot of time but I LOVE the results!  So much nicer and freshens up the bedroom. I really don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier . . .

My update cedar chest!

My updated cedar chest!

See how the browns mesh nicely? Beautiful, if I do say so myself!

See how the browns mesh nicely? Beautiful, if I do say so myself!

Summer School Projects

I looked at the calendar today and realized that I have less than 2 weeks left of my summer vacation.  2 weeks!  Where did the time go?  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time off this summer and have been reflecting on my teaching from last year, writing down ideas, pinning more ideas on Pinterest, filing and tidying out files, and making some new projects.

Last year I had my crayons, colored pencils and markers in labeled, colorful bins. I hated the way they were thrown back in there or put in the wrong bin so I made something new using what I had on hand with existing drawers, scrapbook paper and stickers.

My new drawers for student supplies.

My new drawers for student supplies.

Last year I also made a really cool game called “Flip It” using lids that my students really enjoyed, thanks to Pinterest!  The object of the game is to roll 2 dice and flip the cap with the sum.  The first one to flip all of them over in their row wins!  I made some more sets with the milk and water lids that I’ve been collecting all summer, labeled them, and put them into sets.  I then put the sets into baggies which were put into a Party Pail ice cream bucket (recycle, right?!) with a label made of out an index card with multi-colored letters.

Flip-It Math Game

Flip-It Math Game

I have wires that run across my entire room above the desks and across my beautiful windows.  I tried large paperclips last year to keep the papers attached and it worked for a short time until I needed to close the blinds or open a window.  Clothespins work way better!  I had some that I used for a behavior chart last year that had students’ names on them so I painted over them to use on the wires. I bought a small bottle of paint from Walmart for $0.50 in Admiral Blue to match my primary colored classroom.

My freshly painted clothespins/paper holders.

My freshly painted clothespins/paper holders.

A teacher who was leaving our school left a bunch of these yellow paper pads in the teacher’s lounge before the end of school last year.  These have so many uses!  They’re more like a card stock so I thought I’d turn them into notes.  I could use these for thank you notes to the students or notes home for parents. In the past I sent home what I would call “sunshine notes” as they were positive notes on a sunshine paper. I used my existing stamps and ink to make several of these.

My "Sunshine Notes"

My “Sunshine Notes”

At the end of the school year I received a huge packet of new math vocabulary for the classroom.  I guess with the new Common Core Standards things like wording in definitions and pictures to go with them change, so I recycled all of my old ones and have spent many hours highlighting and coloring in the new ones.  I could’ve left them black and white but that’s boring. Besides, having some color attached to them can aid with students’ learning.  They do look cool! And I’m grateful for my daughter helping me with them, too. They took FOREVER! (In case you didn’t know, coloring is a good stress reliever!)

My thick stack of new math vocabulary. I need more wall space in my classroom!

My thick stack of new math vocabulary. I need more wall space in my classroom!

I used another idea from Pinterest for random sticks last year.  One end of the stick is painted (or colored) a different color.  Once you’ve drawn the stick, turn it over so you don’t choose that student again.  They’re none the wiser that you’ve flipped it so they’re still on their toes thinking they may be called on again.  I bought a small bottle of red from Walmart for $0.50.  I have an apple green already but I wanted something different for this year. I’m sure I could have gotten them cheaper at Michael’s with my teacher discount but I was already at Walmart and is it really worth the few cents it would have taken to go to yet another store.  Probably not.

Red Random Sticks

Red Random Sticks

I believe I’ve had a busy yet balanced summer. I feel good that I’ve gotten these things done as a head start to the new year. I’m sure once I get back into my classroom I’ll find more to do before the year officially starts with students on August 12th. For now, I’ve at least done these things!

Boys & Bathrooms

Forget spring cleaning. Summer is my time to get the house organized again after a busy school year.  After spending time surfing the ‘net and Pinterest, I had a few cleaning “recipes” I wanted to try.

Yesterday morning I decided to tackle my teenage sons’ bathroom.  Gross would be an understatement.  It doesn’t ventilate very well, even though I recently cleaned the vent out and the smell is unbelievable.  I avoid it like the plague. Even my son is aware of it as he burns incense as well as a plug-in scentsy and it STILL smells disgusting.

I began with the tub.  It gets cleaned every two weeks anyway (we have a lady that comes in to clean every 2 weeks but I just canceled her) but the build-up was pretty disgusting.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for tub cleaner that involved 2 ingredients – dish soap and vinegar.  I combined the ingredients in spray bottle and followed the directions – spray on, let sit for 1 hour, then wipe clean. Fabulous!  Very impressed with the results and the smell was yummy!

Tub cleaner ingredients. I bought the spray bottle at the Dollar Tree.

Tub cleaner ingredients. I bought the spray bottle at the Dollar Tree.

Next up, the grout.  That HAS to be part of the smell, right?!  I mean, boys can’t seem to aim very well and grout is porous so that’s just not a good combination.  I started with the area along the tub as it was the worst (not including around the base of the toilet, of course!).  I mixed my recipe that I found here on Pinterest (bleach and baking soda), donned my old clothes and rubber gloves, and went to work.

Before grout picture with my bowl of cleaner.

Before grout picture with my bowl of cleaner.

The directions said to put the paste on the grout, let sit 5-10 minutes then scrub it with an old toothbrush.

Along the tub and other tile area coated with the paste.

Along the tub and other tile area coated with the paste.

I was holding my breath (not because of the fumes) and hoping that this would work.  I scrubbed it in the toothbrush, let it sit again for another 5-10 minutes, then started the wiping up.  I’ll admit, I didn’t want to waste the paste so I scooped up as much as I could and put it back in the bowl to use again on some other sections of the bathroom. I continued to do other sections as I went along, following the same directions and frugally scraping up the paste.

AFTER: Can you believe the difference!? Amazing!

AFTER: Can you believe the difference!? Amazing!

I am absolutely thrilled with the results.  Since there was 11 years worth of grime and yuck on the grout, I’ll need to redo other areas.  It’ll also look different once it has dried.  A little labor intensive but the results are well worth it.  Cost?  I spent $0.52 on an entire box of baking soda from Aldi’s and about a dollar for an entire bottle of bleach. This recipe only took 3/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of bleach so there’s lots left to use!

Following the floor success, I scrubbed the counter and was able to get the rust stains off using Comet and deep cleaned the toilet (thankful for rubber gloves!).  Next up I’ll be fixing the popcorn ceiling and painting and, most likely, replacing the vent for a more effective one!

Bonus – Snow Days!

A partial view of the front steps of my house. You can't see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

A partial view of the front and steps to my house. It didn’t accumulate on the bench but you can’t see the bottom step at all due to the snow!

What would you do if you were given the gift of extra days off from work due to the weather? I was hoping for one – yes, just one – but ended up with three.  I had a great time catching up on my to-do list. The children? Not so much. They didn’t want to go outside (too cold and actually the wind chill the 2nd day was not safe) and electronics dominated their days.

Day 1:

  • a minimum of 3 hours catching up on grading with several cups of hot green tea. That was rewarding enough- just getting caught up!
  • made 2 wheat beer breads from Tastefully Simple mixes and a double batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the children.
  • went through younger son’s closet to find clothes that he didn’t like/wear any more for either a consignment sale or for the garage sale this spring
  • did son’s taxes so he could get his refund – still need to do the state 😦
  • organized basement and cleared off one bookshelf for oldest son who was voluntarily cleaning and reorganizing his room.
  • shoveled the driveway – 6″ minimum of it with some drifting. At least we can get the cars out now!
  • organized the laundry room cabinet, wiped down the units, made new dust rags from old t-shirts.
  • read an old Eating Clean magazine looking for ideas for new recipes

Day 2:

  • slept in – yay!
  • made a batch of banana muffins with the last 2 bananas I had in my freezer (a first for me – usually I clean them out during summer!)
  • made a from scratch brownie recipe for the children
  • taped off and primed the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • posted 3 items on Ebay
  • painted the first coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • did some touch up painting in the same bathroom
  • painted the master bath door to get ride of the scratched off paint from my parents’ dog that passed away 2 years ago (yeah, I know that should have been done a loooonnnnggg time ago. . . )
  • ran 4 1/2 miles on the basement treadmill
  • watched one of my favorite shows, Modern Family, while knitting a new scarf project
  • read my new Runner’s World magazine before bed

Day 3:

  • slept in again! I could definitely get used to getting up at 8 am as opposed to 5:45 am!
  • painted second coat on the vanity in the upstairs bath
  • organized linen closet and added more things to the sale pile
My wonderfully organized linen closet!

My wonderfully organized linen closet!

  • completed 2 loads of laundry (washed, dried AND put away)
  • ventured out on the roads to go to Lowe’s so I can get the towel rack for the bathroom as well as knobs for the painted vanity
  • also went to Michael’s for more yarn for my knitting projects
  • also went to Walmart for a photo I had delivered there to go in my new Keystone frame as well as pick up some more fruit
  • painted the vanity AGAIN including the doors AGAIN
  • lined the vanity and the drawers with new liner – love the red!
  • took Buddy to Lillie’s house to play in the snow. He loves play dates with my Mum & Dad’s dog!
  • went to a Girl Scout cookie meeting – yes! Cookies!! We can start selling Saturday, February 8th!
The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

The painted vanity without the doors. Can you see the red liner? Still have to put up the towel holder and knobs. VERY pleased!

I have accomplished a lot these past few days while the snow was a-blowin’ and the temperatures droppin’. It feels good to have gotten something accomplished and I’m more than ready to go back to work again . . . even if it is just for a day before the weekend!!