Friday, April 21, 2006

let's make a deal...

Confession: right now I should be scrawling prices on pieces of masking tape and affixing them to mountains of junk that will be in my garage sale tomorrow. What am I doing instead? Sipping a berries & cream Dr. Pepper (note: it's brand new and pretty tasty) and cruising the internet. I have massive piles of stuff that need to leave my home forever so I had that moment of temporary insanity where I mentioned to my uber organized best friend that we should have another garage sale. She thought this was a great idea. So she did all of her spring cleaning, cleaned out every closet and room, sorted, priced and neatly stacked her garage sale items. I am still staring at the same boxes overflowing with toys and shoes from the night I first tossed the idea out. I am quite convinced that she doesn't sleep or is really a feminized Stepford-bot of some kind.

I think it might be almost more entertaining to not price any of the stuff, mix up some margaritas and just throw the crap in the middle of the drive-way. Watch people wrestle over my diaper genie and fisher-price piano. This is definitely the last garage sale for a while. It is so much easier to just haul it all to the Goodwill or DAV. I don't make any money that way but it takes way, way less time and effort.

Have I mentioned that I really don't want to do this? ::sigh:: Can't wait until the sale is over. You may wonder why I dread it so much. We live in the perfect garage sale location. I have never advertised or put up any signs or banners. All we ever do is haul things onto the driveway and people swarm. Our street becomes packed and there are nearly wrecks on the major street bordering my house because of the traffic to my place. And then there is the negotiating. Ugh.

I suppose I should be psyching myself up. But it's just more work. I'm so not looking forward to it. Better go find my masking tape and marker. And my happy face. I'm off to battle the garage sale beast.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Home, dirty home

My family and I are fortunate to live in a very large if slightly eccentric home. This home belonged to my husband's grandfather and has seen almost every member of his family live here at one time or another. This home was built somewhere in the 40s or 50s and has some very unique design features. It has a very open floor plan with a large kitchen as well as a pretty darn big living room which are both wonderful features. Some of the more "unique" design features to this home are the geometric, wood trillis which divides the entryway from the dining room, the linoleum in the kitchen which features ships with sails and windmills (all in the ever stylish and current shade of harvest gold) and the bathroom which looks like something out of a high-end vegas suite from the 60s. This bathroom doesn't have sheetrocked walls. Instead it is covered in some kind of thick plastic like substance that comes in large sheets. The lower portion is black while the top portion is the same black but is flecked with pink, peach and white paint splatters. Except for the one wall which has green plastic sheeting. I guess they ran out of black for that one. Or maybe it's a "design feature." This bathroom has generated more comments than any other room of the house. My friend's little daughter saw it for the first time and was in awe. "Wow mommy, this is like a hotel bathroom!" I'm not sure where they have been staying while on vacation since I haven't seen a hotel bathroom like this except on early James Bond films.

The other rooms feature windows of non-standard sizes which are off of the ground in non-standard measurements. The walls are sheetrock with about 1/2" of plaster over it. When my husband was attempting to do some computer networking and needed to drop a cable down a wall through the attic (before wireless networks were readily available) our friend came over to help. They drilled the hole in the attic and tried to drop the cable down. Only it wouldn't go. It was stopped. Why? Because the builder but cross beams between each stud all the way down. And I can't forget to mention the mysterious Light Switch to Nowhere. We don't care when the kids play with that one. We let them flip it to their little hearts content. They could be turning lights on and off somewhere in China for all we know.

But perhaps the single most frustrating design feature of this house are the built in planters. These are large limestone planters filled with dirt, inside the house. Yes, inside the house. When I first laid eyes on these planters while dating my husband I thought they were quaint. After we were married and I moved in I even tried to use them. I went to the nursery and bought some cute little flowers, brought them home and planted them. They really did look cute--that day. Then the next day I went to check on them and the little flowers had all turned their pretty little heads straight to the window and the sunshine that steamed in. Which looked cute if you were outside of the house looking in at them. Which of course no one can do since there is a huge flowerbed on the other side of the window. So I had all these cute flowers that no one could really see. But that wasn't so bad. At least we had cute flowers growing in the house! How cute! How Martha Stewart!

Until the aphids came. I noticed these tiny little bugs all over the plants. Ewww. Sprays didn't work and just made the house stink. People would walk into our home and were instantly assaulted by the smell of insecticide. Then they would see the strange little anti-social flowers who wouldn't even dignify my hard work to keep them alive by even looking at me. After the aphids returned again, I caved. I pulled up the plants and tossed them. This left me with the dirt. It didn't look great but there wasn't much else to do with it. We joked about it but grew accustomed to it. Eventually we had children. Now the planters are no longer jokes. They are evil design features placed here by an obviously childless architect. Every child has each, at their own time, discovered the dirt planter and delighted in playing with it. They throw the dirt on the ground, they sprinkle it on the piano, they bury things in it. They eventually learn that playing in the dirt inside the house is not allowed. The first two children (both girls I might add) would occassionally make a mess but for the most part were very careful and tried to leave it alone.

Now we have our son. He is almost two. Living in a home with a large planter filled with dirt must be his equivelent to a college age boy at the playboy mansion. If there were a tiny milk and cookie pub for the male toddlers to frequent I'm sure he'd be there everyday bragging about his dirt playland.

And really, I can't blame him. I'm sure it's a huge temptation and great fun. I'm just getting completely worn out with all the dirt and the vacumming. We've racked our brain trying to figure out how to fix this problem. We've looked for tile to tile in the middle of the planter but nothing matches. Let me describe it. It is probably around eight feet long and about three feet tall. The front is limestone and each end meets up with a wall. It's about two and half (or so) feet wide and has windows that run the length of it. The top of the planter is marble and has an opening of somewhere around 6-10" by about 7 feet which is where the dirt is.

My best guess is that the marble needs to be removed with crowbars (some of it is in bad shape) and then the dirt would be removed, the surface prepared and then we could tile the whole thing over in something nice and put some throw pillows up there. Of course this all takes time and money, both of which are in short supply. At this point I think I'm going to get a really big, ugly piece of plywood and lay it over the hole to keep the munchkins out of it.

Until then it's just me and vacum.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A little adventure

Yesterday I did something I don't think I've done since college. Or maybe ever. I went on a little adventure--by myself.

My in-laws took care of our three darling children while my husband and I went out of town. He had a tournament to go to in Topeka and I had, get this, NOTHING TO DO. Seriously. Nothing to do. Several hours of empty time stretched out ahead of me. Oh the possibilities! He asked me what I was going to do. Hmmmm. No idea. This is very unlike me. Amy of the "We Must Plan Everything" had no plan. Well, I take it back. I planned on not hanging out at the bowling alley with him and his team mates. That was definitely part of the non-plan.

I decided my nails were looking pretty sad and in need of a manicure so I grabbed the phone book and looked up a nail salon. Kissed the hubby good-bye and took off for the salon. Only there wasn't a salon. There was urban blight and bars on windows. Not my idea of a girly afternoon out. So I turned the truck around and headed back to the safe side of town. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm all for some adventure but blocks of bail bondsmen, pawn shops and seedy bars is more adventure than I'll ever be wanting.

So, back to square one. I go to gas station and buy a map and decide I'll drive into Topeka and find a shopping center. And then I remember, The Yarn Barn! I had heard about that little store and it was in Lawrence, not too far from where I was. So, I grabbed a Dr. Pepper and set off on my own little adventure to Lawrence and the rumored yarn heaven that is The Yarn Barn.

It was a beautiful afternoon, a rare Kansas day of a light breeze, vivid blue skies, perfect temperature and no humidity. The drive to Lawrence was scenic and lovely. It was marred only by my realization that I hadn't grabbed one of my cameras to take with me. In our rush to pack five bags for five different people and grab all of the necessities (Did we get her Night Night (translation: her special blankie), what about Carson's pillow? Did you pack enough diapers? etc.) I had not grabbed my camera bag. And I was so sad about this. Especially when I drove past the quaint cemetary on the hill with the tall, ornate headstones. I so wish I had remembered the camera. But I suppose if I had I would have made that into work and maybe not have completely relaxed to do nothing as I ended up doing.

I drove into Lawrence and stopped at the visitor center and asked for directions to the Yarn Barn. Drove over and was shocked at the amount of traffic and people out shopping. I hadn't been to Lawrence in years and had never been in that area of the town before. It was so cute! So many shops to visit and hundreds of people walking up and down the sidewalks shopping and socializing. Who knew? Took a while to find a parking space but I managed to find one a block away from the main drag and went back.

At this point I have to confess. I have never spent much time with just me. As a kid I always had my sister around. As a teenager and early adult I always had friends with me. I'm a bit social and always think anything I want to do will be more fun with friends. I admit, part of me has always been a little scared of doing things on my own. I felt like I needed friends with me. If I didn't know anyone who would I talk to? What if no one talked to me? What if I was all alone? Over the past year I've been doing more things on my own. And I like it. It's not scary like I thought it would be. It's peaceful and calming. Don't get me wrong, I love my family. I love my crazy kids and my sweet husband. But sometimes it's nice to be by myself and not have anyone need one single thing from me for an hour.

I browsed through the shops. Looked at toys for upcoming birthdays. Smiled at baby furnishings wistful that I would never need to shop for them again but relieved all at the same time. Admired hand made jewelry and artful blown glass sculptures. I went in the stores I wanted to see and stayed as long as I wanted to stay. I didn't feel rushed, I went at my own pace.

And then there was the Yarn Barn. How is it possible that such a small town can have such a fabulous yarn store? My own town is hundreds of thousands of people larger and our yarn store is a fraction of the size. I had the best time taking in all of the colors and textures. There was just so much to see. I spent a fair amount of time just looking at it all. I almost bought some yarn to make something for my sister. She now lives in Seattle and I was so tempted to by the beautiful hand-dyed $30 skein of red silk that was called "Ruby Red Slippers" but I resisted temptation and put it back. All told I think I spent under $4 for my afternoon shopping but the experience was worth far more than that.

On the way back I saw a sign for an apple orchard and stopped on a whim. They had fresh apple cider donuts and cold apple cider. I picked up the little treat and headed back to town. Normally I want to stop at those little places but my husband doesn't. And I can't say I blame him. If we stopped everywhere I wanted to we probably wouldn't get very far.

I drove back to my husband listening to jazz and realizing that I'm starting to discover more about myself this year--who I am, what makes me happy. I'm a bit more introspective now that I'm in my 30s. I'm surprised at how I feel about things that I thought would make me feel fulfilled. After all, I had planned it all out. The 30s feel like I'm finding the glove that fits and putting it on and getting comfortable. Not picking out the one that I want to fit and trying to squeeze it on.

I like jazz and chocolate and stretching my creative muscles. I enjoy driving to a new place and trying new things. I get frustrated when I get interrupted doing anything--I like to start and finish things all at once. I love my family with all my heart, but I'm a better wife and mother when I take a little time alone. And that was time well spent.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

time flies...

Wow! Can't believe it's been so long since I've posted. Time seems to just go a little faster every year.

Things have been busy as usual. My calf is doing ok. I've been off crutches for a while but it gets tired quickly and has been hurting a little more than usual since yesterday. My sister recently hurt her back and her chiropractor recommended pilates to help her strengthen her back. I thought I'd look into it for myself and ended up signing up to take classes here at the local pilates studio. I've only had one class so far and I am really enjoying it. I've also renewed my effort to lead a healthier lifestyle, lose weight and get in shape. It's going to be hard work but it's something I need to do.

On to knitting! I started knitting a teddy bear for my son's birthday and it has gone fairly well. I now have it all knitted and just need to assemble the knitted/stuffed parts. I had to set it aside temporarily though while I started a baby blanket for a friend's shower. I saw a post on another blog about the pinwheel baby blanket and wanted to give it a try. It is now going well and I'm making good progress on it. Unforunately I don't have time for pictures today but will get some up soon on these works in progress.

Oh, and I did get a fun new knitting tool! Went out and bought the Needlemaster set which I *love*! It's awesome and so fast to knit with. I used my 40% off coupon at Michael's to get it and am so glad I made the investment in it.