Category Archives: Family Times

The List Goes On!


The shed finally gets painted!


I think “The List” has become a sentient life form!  It started as a punch list of 100 items when we purchased the house.  My beloved whacked it down to 75 before he fell ill and died.  I have continued to hack away at the list.  Friends, family and sometimes hired help have helped me to whack some more off the list.  It was at 28 this morning but I allowed myself to add to it.  I have found myself arguing to avoid any additions, to just finish what we originally listed.  I lost the argument today and added eight window replacements.  They are all poorly hung, leaking, single pane windows.  Only one should be a problem replacement because of its location.  Three I might be able to do by myself, if Dahve will assist in the selection process.  Who knew there were so many different flanges to windows?

The List now sits at 36 with seven items to be completed before December 31, 2016.  The total estimated cost is between a conservative $10,000 to a possible $13,200.  “The List” is the reason I may work freelance for a few hours after I retire.  I have a couple of post retirement offers of work.  I will be fine with Social Security if I keep the income under $17,000.

I didn’t get any work done on the loft room or any of my could of, should of, or would of’s.  I did get the tool shed painted and is ready for winter and the sprinkler system is finally repaired.  The connecting pipes were disconnected from the main pipes.  The general belief is this happened due to the tilled soil settling and/or running over them with heavy weight.  We deep tilled the soil before installing the pipes due to the problems in the yard with chunks of debris buried in it.  We removed several truckloads of trash and concrete before the yard was ready for seed.  I would rather repair the sprinklers than have toxic trash and bits of concrete work their way to the surface, ewww.  The side yard was not tilled and I am still digging out trash from inside the house six years later!  Six heads repaired or replaced and my dead lawn is good to go again.

I feel like this was a good weekend.  Sprinkler system repaired, shed painted and a great talk on Sunday from Andy.  No Elvis impersonator this Sunday, but a great version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.  My take away this week is to love on purpose, to think before I speak and to bear with those irritations in life.  (Co-workers come to mind, 468 days to retirement!) More positive thinking and positive talking!  I also spent time with the beautiful daughter, son-in-law and my stolen son’s daughter.  The four of us walked through IKEA, (g-daughter and I did it twice) so daughter could get design ideas for their new house.

P.S. Could you use some relationship help?  The current Thrive Church-CA series is all about relationships, some good talks with usable information from Andy Bernard and Jeremiah Aja.  Check out Thrive Church-CA!


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Filed under Family Times, Foster Children, Garden, Homeowner

100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

Dear Reader, I advise you to do these things on rainy days (I’m not talking about the weather). Bookmark this article or link it or whatever the kids are doing these days, and open it when you’re f…

Source: 100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration, PTSD

Lost – Brussels

At least 30 dead and more than 220 injured

20 dead and up to 130 injured

There will be more, it is so sad but the numbers will continue to roll in.  ISIS rushes in to claim responsibility and Muslims rush into the street spewing hatred.  I find it so hard to understand that kind of hatred.  (I know I am naïve, most of the time it is quite alright with me to be the butterfly with wings.  Please don’t think you have to pull them off so I am no longer naïve).  Harder still, I fail to understand how individuals can believe that their wants, beliefs and “rights” supersede or come at the expense of another human beings.  Have they lost all common sense?

The religion of hate marches on.  How are we to react to them?  I caution you not to get down in the dirt with them and return hate.  I believe in self-defense and even a good offense.  I believe in my constitutional rights.  I practice those rights.  I believe in a strong military and healthy boundaries.  I don’t believe in the right to hate!  Forgiveness might be the right thing to do but, it is certainly the harder and less traveled path.

God left us with two rules, all of the old testament rules are rolled into these two.

Love God.

Love Others.

Take this time to examine your own religion.  Does it judge a group of people?  Does it condemn rather than redeem?  If it does, RUN as fast as you can from them.  Remember the rules, there are no “ifs” in there.  Set healthy boundaries but show love for others.  Love as a verb and not as a noun.  The hatred coming from this religion did not grow overnight, be vigilant with your own, ever watchful so evil cannot grow there.

There is nothing we can do for those that are dead.  The remainder however, need our prayers and love.  Grief is a terrible thing, I’ve seen it twist good people into unrecognizable, mean people.  My prayers today go out to the remainder touched by grief as family, friends and neighbors go through the burden of living while loved ones cannot.  I will also pray for those men and women who took to the streets directly after the attacks spewing hatred.  Lord heal their hearts and pour out the hatred and fill it with your love.

I challenge you to find a way to show love to someone this week in memory of those lost in Brussels.  Honor the dead not with hate, but with love unexpected. Pay for someone’s lunch, take a homeless person a clean pair of socks, clean someone’s house, go the extra mile in your own “house”.  Let our response be swift in love, as it would be in might had it happened here.  In this sad day, remember…

Love God.

Love Others.

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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration

Keep on Flooring


So what do you do with a 55 plus year old widowed granny.  Put her to work on the chain gang installing flooring!  I am my own taskmaster and the end to this epic 1,300 sq. ft. project is on the horizon but not quite in sight.

It all began back in October when I completed my research on what type of flooring I wanted.  I decided on a sustainable product that was readily available and on sale.  I ordered it from my local big box store in person and oopsie the store employee checked the wrong box.  It was an easy mistake, I wanted click lock and not solid.  Arrgh, it took multiple managers and three months to correct the mistake.  I received the flooring in mid January and had to put the project on hold for my daughter’s wedding.  Needless to say I was not happy to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s as well as wedding festivities on an ugly slab of concrete!

I have officially passed the halfway point and am almost to two thirds.  Yea me!  I go home from work almost every night and try to do 2-3 rows of installation.  I usually have a quick lay down of thirty minutes to relax and detox from the stress of the day first, grab a bite for dinner and then get cracking!

It is not especially hard work and I occasionally have help from a friend who has even more trouble getting up and down than I do.  Fortunately DaHve has the experience of being a retired contractor.  The daughter has dropped in a time or two to swing the rubber hammer as well as one or two grands.  Almost everyone has had a small hand in this project.  My “son” ish and his wife as well as 4 of their children did all the carpet tear out for which I am soooo thankful.  That was a dirty awkward job I am glad I did not have to lift a hand for.

Soon my floor will be this beautiful expanse of wall to wall bamboo!  I can’t wait.

If I can do it, you can too!

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Family Times, Foster Children, Projects


system failure

I haven’t posted in a few months and have spent my energy recovering after mono and strep.  I am back to work and have built up enough stamina to do one or two activities after I get home.  I take care of the fur and feather needs, my own nutrition and then try to lay some more flooring.  I usually manage two or three rows of boards before something starts to ache or I just run out of energy. I’m tackling 1,300 sq. ft. of flooring one row at a time! It will get done just not fast!  I have not planted a single vegetable in the garden either.

While my body may be slightly worn down, my heart is absolutely broken.  I cannot help someone who does not see the problem and we all know that “fixing” someone else’s problems is at best hypocritical and condescending and is not healthy behavior.  I do not want the responsibility for controlling or making someone else’s choices.  That being said, I cannot keep the tears from falling.

I have met a young mother of three, I will name her Phoenix here.  Phoenix comes from the most heartbreaking childhood that was splashed across inter-national media when the details became known.  Both of her biological parents are now in jail, her mother for at least 15 years and her father on consecutive life sentences.  I am grateful they are out of their now adult children’s lives but the terror and havoc they wrecked still continues as it is ingrained into their very DNA after so many years of continual abuse.  Because all of the victims involved are “aged out” and poor, they have exhausted all social services has to offer.

The father of Phoenix’s three children also comes from an extremely dysfunctional home that barely borders on legal behavior.  Phoenix looks to me as a mom figure because we are both domestic violence survivors.  I have made my own personal success my revenge and for years my mantra was “living well is the best revenge”.  I caught on early in my recovery days that getting even or snarky would only further hurt me and not the person I wanted to hurt.  I let it go, it was squealing like a piglet when I let go, but I was able to do it.

Phoenix has been to counseling, she has overcome so much.  But, this family is trapped in an economic cycle of poverty.  It is like trying to scale the wall of the Grand Canyon without climbing gear.  She doesn’t even know she can climb much less what a carabiner, harness, belay or an ascender is.  Telling her she can climb makes no impact on her.  Opportunities have presented themselves to her in the last few weeks but she does not take advantage of them.  Phoenix professes she is not afraid of the opportunities, just not interested.  She does not see a better way of life for herself and her family.

You have heard of the Stockholm Syndrome where the captive begins to love the captor.  Similarly, Phoenix is trapped in extreme poverty and poor living conditions because she cannot see the opportunities or where it will take her.  Where she is at now is better than before.  She passes on opportunities because she cannot see how they will benefit her future and presents indifference to the world.  It is possible that she just does not believe she could be successful and it may even be mixed up with some survivor guilt.  It would take a full time team of psychologists to unravel this depth of damage.

At times like this, I truly miss my beloved.  He understood this so well.  He came from this type of horror but moved past it.  He loved me in spite of my own past. He would know what to say to comfort as well as to motivate someone to invest in themselves.  He could convince people into believing in themselves because he could share his own story in a way that gave them hope.

Please pray for me as I make myself available to Phoenix when and if she ever decides to take the next step.  Please pray for Phoenix, her partner and their three children.  Pray that I will remember to love her in a healthy way in the hope that she will someday see better choices and opportunities.

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Grief, Life Lessons

Formerly Insignificant

I am so humbled. Here I was bragging about my kids like any mother would do. I met S as a very active fetus who was strong willed even back then. J, J & M are what I call my stolen children. They came into my life as young teenagers. It was not through any active choice of my own, they were simply kids that needed some loving and I had some to spare. My beloved mentored the young men and stayed close to them until he died; he is still close to us in our hearts.
I’m not a better person by any actions of my own but, I am a better person simply by knowing these four and being allowed into their lives as they have all grown into amazing people. I am so proud of my four kids as they have grown into adulthood. They have all faced some pretty bad things but have taken the high road. I was never faced with the kinds of things they were bombarded with as children and young adults and am not sure that I would have been even a little amazing.
So…bragging comes naturally for me. Sitting somewhere in the room was a young woman who I had never met until it was time to leave. She walked up to me and tried to tell me how wonderful I was. I set her straight as gently as I could, don’t you see, it wasn’t me on the giving end; I was on the receiving end. I received all the love that should have gone to absentee parents. I, I, I,…I explained. She smiled and understood what I meant and then said something that has haunted me for several days.
“I was in high school before I understood that I mattered. One of my teachers told me. You did a good thing.”
Does that stab straight into your heart as it did mine! She is with a wonderful family now; I assumed wrongly that they were her birth family.
I see all these silly Facebook challenges all the time. Dear Reader, I challenge you to tell someone they matter this week, someone you wouldn’t normally uplift. It is such a little thing to be kind and could mean so much.

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Filed under Family Times, Foster Children

Foster: to help something grow or develop, to nuture

I never seem to be able to understand the cruelty of man, nor do I really want to. For in that understanding, it would forever change me. My beloved saw such cruelty as a child until he reached his majority. It made him not a cruel, but a kind man. He taught me the value of mercy, not getting what you deserve. I struggle with extending mercy where it is not deserved. I cannot save every child, just the ones brought into my life by plan or circumstance.

This weekend one that “got away” returned. I will call her Grace, she is graceful and in spite of all that has happened to her, kind and tenderhearted and more than a little bit gullible. I worked with her as a young girl but, she had so many years of damage. She had been in the foster system for years due to serious abuse and had several siblings. Her little sister was kept with her. The foster parents were train wrecks. (Thank you to the good ones out there!) They could pass a home inspection; answer all the test questions and looked good on paper. The constant verbal abuse and the difference made between the “good” biological children and the two girls was devastating. Would you be surprised to learn that both girls made bad life choices and have trouble with relationships? The little sister is strung out on drugs and bad relationships. Grace hit relationship bottom after three children and their parental abduction by the father. Grace is working with the police to find her children but decided to travel three states to come “home” to the last place she felt truly loved and accepted. I am so glad she did. She had one or two friends in town, my adult daughter and me. She remembered the kindness here and returned to us. I am a flawed person and to quote Patsy Clairmont, “God Uses Cracked Pots”! I hope we can make a difference for this one who needs to be loved on. I pray that God covers my mistakes with grace and mercy so we can find a way to help this beautiful woman to be happy.

Grace is actually the child who sparked a writing project of mine I’m passionate about. A guide for young adults who are about to or have “aged out” of the foster system. There is so much that they miss out on and don’t know. Their time was spent worrying about safety, where they would sleep, what they would eat, attending hearings or court sessions. They didn’t learn the how-to’s that you would expect them to know. Grace learned how to properly fit a bra at age 24, after three children, while we were shopping last night. I looked at her feet and realized, another day, too much for today. She was overwhelmed.

I hope this post travels far and you can comment on what basic things you wish you had been taught, even if you were never in the foster system. My beloved encouraged me to write this because he was raised in extreme poverty and saw many similarities in missed education and training as he tried to figure out what was normal and what he needed to know to be successful.

I would love to consider your comments to add to my guide: shopping, economics, personal hygiene, balancing a checkbook, food preparation, clothing, relationships, etc. Sometimes it is the little details that can derail you in life and keep the better opportunities away. Many foster children do not even realize they have missed the opportunities because they don’t know and there is no one to tell them. Your experiences could help someone. Thanks!

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Filed under Family Times, Foster, Writing

My Life is a Circus!

My life is a circus and I have a tent to prove it! It has been a little crazy lately. My beloved was a wonderful man. He could leap tall buildings, fix anything, reverse engineer or design engineer almost anything. I’m not exaggerating, he was a genius and had the IQ scores to prove it. He would give you the shirt off his back and had literally done so on at least two occasions I can recall. But, ah yes the but! He could not say no! Even when it caused his death. A close friend and former mentor had a heart attack and it turns out he was a hoarder. This could have been filmed for a reality show. The hoarders’ adult daughter called and pleaded for help. Mind you she had her family, her husband, her church, her father’s church and many friends in town. We lived over an hour away. But hey, she knew this close friend who could perform miracles and who wouldn’t say no….

My beloved should have been in intensive care with a fatal case of pneumonia. He was resting at home because he feared and hated hospitals. She knew this, you could hear it in his voice and as he coughed up liquid.

The call came and he went on Friday. I went with him on Saturday and Sunday and helped toss over a ton of belongings into a roll off dumpster. I begged, I cried, I watched him bend over and cough out water from his lungs. He came home Sunday night, could not get out of bed Monday and died on Tuesday morning. He was 52.

I do not bear her ill will, I am not angry with her, I think I have forgiven her, I may have to again, but I am not ready to talk to her yet. Maybe when the circus has left town and I can find some balance in my life again. Maybe these relationships just need to gently fade into the past with the pain as time goes by.

It has been one year and I have been fighting the bugs that came home with him all this time. The cockroaches were easy to kill, the silverfish a little harder but not impossible. The bed bugs won. Until I declared nuclear war and called in the fumigators. Food had to be removed and frozen. Anything taken out of the house had to be frozen or heated to over 130 degrees. We had to find homes for our three cats and ourselves for a week. My adult daughter is spending a few months with me to help me with the chaos of my life. We are both chemically sensitive and Vikane gas with a Tear Gas precursor is a very nasty chemical cocktail. It kills EVERYTHING! We have tossed and replaced one mattress and one box springs and had to destroy a lot of food that we either missed or just wouldn’t make the transfers. The tent alone cost $2,640. and other costs are still mounting. The biggest cost has been the life of my husband so the material possessions pale in comparison.

Clean, toss out, reorganize, sanitize…boxes and bags everywhere. I think it is the residue from the tear gas that is giving us sore throats and sore nasal cavities. It is better after washing all the bedding. The hundreds of little black bodies all over the house…who knew how many house flies and spiders we really had, even after a grocery store type of chemical bombing. The vacuum is busy and so are my daughter and myself!

My advice to you, say no when it is appropriate! Take care of your own health first! Regift, REDUCE, reuse, recycle! And so very important to avoid some of this mess….go to Wal-Mart and buy mattress and pillow cases for bed bugs. Put your box spring, your mattress and every bed pillow in the house in one! Strip all bedding, including the blankets, off your beds after visitors and wash and/or at least heat up in the dryer.

The folks at Clark Pest Control have been as wonderful as they could possibly be. They were very aggressive with the process (a good thing) and their sales person, Vincent, called me almost daily during the process. Sometimes three and four times a day. Now that I have “come clean” about my experience, others are confessing their own stories and what we have is an epidemic of bed bugs, especially areas that do not freeze over. Think about it….someone will pay the consequences of our actions, maybe not ourselves, but someone will.

Fumigation Tent

Fumigation Tent


Filed under Family Times, Grief, Travel

Chickens and … Teenagers?

Soup, Sally, Jensen and Concrete are fully feathered now so this weekend we will need to provide them with an outdoor run.  I have the wire and the stakes ready to go but I keep forgetting to soften up the ground so the stakes will pound in.  I’m not 25 anymore and have to respect my body more these days if I want it to last!  The girls seem very happy in their roomy hen house so I’m not too worried, there is some room to run and lots of places to hop up on and roost.  We keep it clean and give them grass clippings and treats to play with.  In another month or two when they are fully grown, it could get ugly.  Overcrowding leads to hen pecking, just check any high school if you want to see what that looks like. Standard pre-teen and teen behaviour!  And they think they are being so original.

We introduced the chicks to the apricots that fell to the ground and they were very enthusiastic in snapping them up and fighting over them.  This was new to my grandaughter, her docile friendly chickens all of a sudden became pecking monsters!  I let her know that in the future, she cannot combine cuddling her feathered friends with food.  Not without a serious pecking or two!

They are still too young to break the skin of any other fruit we have given them.  Apples were a challenge but apple cores, chicken fight!  There was plenty to go around, really ladies, show some class!  I made some yummy blackberry jam last night and wasn’t satisfied with the texture.  I pulled out my sieve and ran the jam through it to get as much of the pulp out as possible allowing only about one cup of the seeds into the jam.  The rest of the seeds will go to the chickens.  The jam tasted yummy and I called home to find out how it set up but was met with, not now grandma, auntie is dying my hair red.  K…… does your mother know? “yeah, she said it’s only hair.”  I can see her point of view in a day and age when kids have so much trouble available to get into.  Hair is not forever.  Back to School should be interesting.  I’ll have to wait until I get home from work to find out how the chickens enjoyed the seeds.

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Filed under Canning, Family Times, Urban Farming

Happy Birthday America!

Traveling outside of America has made me a better American!  I spent a short time in Croatia and learned to love my liberty in a way that no classroom or textbook ever could.  I have a friend who is Croatian and I affectionately call him a Cave Man.  He has a gruff demeanor about him and protects his soft marshmallowy center.  My time in Croatia taught me that there is a whole country out there (probably many more) of people who are fearful.  I traced the bullet holes in the many buildings with my fingers and witnessed the efforts to restore their infrastructure. I saw the results left behind years later in a village that was ethnically cleansed. Communism has been over for them for years but they still live with the residual fear of someone knowing too much about you.  My first trip to a modern grocery store was a real eye opener.  My hosts were so proud of the choices they had.  I smiled and agreed with their obvious excitement.  The vast choices they happily showed me were not choices by American standards.  The one brand of laundry soap now came in plain powder or liquid, no other scent or brand choices. 

I have had my early days of being a starving college student and an impoverished young married.  I never lived with the reduced liberties that these folks live with every day.  To my Croatian friends and readers, no disrespect has been meant in this writing.  I loved your country and the people and their spirit.  Trust won too easily has no value and I will always value my days in your beautiful country.

This 4th of July we put out our flags (yes that’s plural) and invited family and friends.  The Italian’s were cooking!  My daughter made Arancini’s the way Nona made them, we BBQ’d ribs and steak, had corn on the cob and potato salad and of course apple pie and ice cream for dessert!  A big thank you to the vets and service people who paid for my liberties.

God, please continue to Bless America!

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Filed under Family Times, Travel