Sunday, August 21, 2016

Home thoughts.

I tend to underestimate the time and muscle a job will require. I also tend to procrastinate doing the projects I really want to do because I never feel like I have a large enough chunk of free time to make the effort worthwhile. It is a conundrum.

Hubby, Firstborn, and Intensity are not here. They went to Baton Rouge yesterday to try to help my in-laws, who are just a few of the thousands who were flooded this past week. Grandma lost everything, but my in-laws got lucky...their house had four feet of water in it and they lost almost everything inside, but they have power, water, gas, and air conditioning already. With my husband and kids' help, they found some things to save. Their house is fixable, their car replaceable, and they still have one working vehicle and all three cats. It's still terribly terribly hard on them, though...they've lived in that house for almost 40 years and it has never taken on water. They had so many nice things gathered and saved over the years. Just gone. For my family here, a total flood would lose us a lot of irreplaceable photos, a precious quilt, and.....well, mostly, a whole lot of nothing important. We don't have heirlooms, antiques, expensive important stuff...our home is mostly furnished in beat-up hand-me-downs and curb finds. Which is awesome, for a family of 11 with 9 boys and two big dogs and a wanna-be farm. It's hard for me to imagine what it is like losing a lifetime of carefully gathered and cared-for items. Having to see them destroyed and physically toss them in the trash pile with your own two hands. It must be heart-wrenching. Not just the memories or place they held in your life, but also your plans and hopes for them in the future. My mil lost things she'd imagined her great-great grandchildren would cherish someday. FEMA can't help with that. No one can. Lord have mercy, and thank You that they are safe.

Anyhow, Hubby is on his way home now. He has to be at work on Monday. Firstborn and Intensity are staying. There is still a lot of work to do and those two are great workers. So is Right-hand Girl. I need to work on the younger boys. They got off easy with the olders doing most of the work for the past few years, and I didn't train them as well. It's harder when they are older. But they'll get there. Or else.

So, school has started, again. We are playing a bit of catch up with the olders, but they are handling it. I have 3 high schoolers now! How strange. We are part of a new homeschooling group this year, it was going to be two but life suddenly crunched down on us (it tends to do that) and shows no signs of letting up so just one homeschooling group it is right now. It has a co-op, which my 6 youngest are doing. The boys are very excited. They've missed having homeschool classes to and field trips and social events to attend. My olders are joining Key Club. It looks like it will be great. I'm excited. Our homeschool has been too fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants-all-by-our-lonesomes the past couple years.

And I'm taking on a diy home improvement project, finally! I'm very excited. I've been planning and thinking about what to do in this place since we moved in here 3 years ago. I did a half-baked job on the kitchen (which is SUCH NEED of a complete redo) but now I'm getting serious about my oldest son's bedroom. I only have him for another couple of years or so, and he's always lived in a barely put together room with with little brothers that destroyed everything. So he gets the first fix-up, as well as the guinea pig room. Ha!

Today we washed 3 of the 4 walls and oh boy they were gross. The carpet and its padding was torn up and tossed. Hundreds of staples have been pulled out of the floor with pliers. Nails and screws have removed from walls. This week my plan is to replace the broken window (its been blocked with plywood for months now), wash the 4th wall and inside of the closet, cut a larger hole around the closet door, and pull up the wall strips.  Also, paint the bed frames.

The final plan includes industrial-type lighting, a corrugated metal ceiling, planked walls, a faux brick wall, a pegboard, a polyurethaned osb floor, and a home built desk. I've got it all written out and planned. I'm excited. I'm also glad the kids took the camera to BR so I can't take before pics. It looks awful in there. I will try to get progress pic after they get back though.

After this room is done, the living room is next. Whee!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Up and at 'em

It never really grew straight anywhere, but it did get it's job done.
Angel Oak

My kids are still alive and my house is still standing, but other than that, I've pretty  much been a failure these past several months. Like Paul in Romans 7, I have been spending my time doing what I don't care about and neglecting what I do love and desire. The internet and food has been my "soma."

There is a reason my tattoo is of a phoenix. No matter how burnt out, ashy, cold and dark I become, I always need to get up and try again. Even if I know I will just burn up and fail again. Over and over and over. It's discouraging. REALLY discouraging, lately. I struggling with thinking "what's the point?" Motivation usually gets me as far as writing a new schedule or plan and sometimes I even follow it a day or two. I have very little endurance or perseverance.

I need routines, good habits, or as it helps me (a little) to think of them: rituals. I know all about what they should be, how to create them. I dream of them, write them out, tell the kids how well our lives will go if we could just do it "this" way, and set them up like a beautiful castle of cards. A castle of cards on a rickety tv tray in a living room with 10 other people running around, pets, angry bankers, and demanding dentists breezing through the room every hour or so. Not to mention my hands shake badly.

I keep hoping there is a magic pill, book, website, fancy timer or other doodad, prayer, or plan that this time! will make me stick to it!! I haven't found one yet. I keep looking.

At this moment, though, not a great moment, not a motivated moment, not a prepared moment, but just this one right now, 7:45 am on a Monday, I'm writing in my sadly neglected blog, taking my morning supplements, and next moment I will be dressing and making my bed. That's already more than I do some days. I'm not going to sweep through the house today, making everything bright and beautiful and organized, I'm not going to do a fun craft/activity with my kids, I'm not going to finally restart my budget or write my novel. I'm going to eat breakfast, make sure my olders start school and teach my youngers some reading and math. I'm going to do my short and easy workout that barely counts as anything other than being off the couch. I'm going to go at least one full hour without being online. I'm going to light my altar candle, and pray one Jesus prayer.

I'm good at flaming up, or I used to be. Maybe that's part of getting older, having less enthusiasm for trying again. Maybe that's what I've needed all along, a slower burning spark. Maybe being charcoal is better than dryer lint. Maybe I'm not going to worry about that right now, I have no expectations of suddenly doing well regularly. I'm just going to do okay for a few moments this morning. We'll see what happens next.

(Edited to add: My life isn't bad. It isn't even particularly hard. This is just my own mental/emotional struggle. To paraphrase Jack Sparrow: My problem are not my problems. My problem is my attitude about my problems.)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Janessa Lawyer Moore

We were so very much alike and yet so different. She was a talented writer and artist and fellow geek and browncoat. She introduced me to Stargate SG-1 and Pandora Radio.

She had a wonderful laugh and truly the best version of a Southern accent in the sweetest voice. She was over the top proud of her kids. I know, all moms are supposedly, but she really was.

Her joy was in caring for people. She was always interested in medicine and helping people and she fought hard to finally become a nurse. She had just started a job as a nurse in a nursing home and she was so excited about it.

She was in the middle of making me a quilt. I'm insecure enough that I spend a lot of time second-guessing whether people really like me or not, but I never ever doubted she loved me. Every conversation with her, silly ones or hard ones, short or hours-long, she made it clear. I hope she was as sure of me.

 She is one of the few people as crazy about cheese as I am. I don't know what the weather was like where she was when she died, but here we were having the kind of storms we both loved.  We sat on her bed and folded piles of her laundry while visiting, or just watching tv...we could spend whole days together because we could just be ourselves with each other. She showed me around Miami.  She wrote me HAPPY BIRFDAY once a year. She encouraged my writing. She refused to let me invalidate my own feelings, and I still think of that whenever I am tempted to rationalize away the way I or others feel. I totally failed at helping potty train her oldest son. My oldest son and her third boy are just months apart, and I remember them lying next to each other on the floor as babies. Hers was older, but mine was huge, so I joked that mine looked like the "dumb jock" next to her boy. Two of our daughters are close to the same age. We wanted them to be friends, but with 600 miles between us, that never happened. She was without reserve ecstatically happy for every single pregnancy I had, and completely over the moon about her unborn grandson.  I named my oldest daughter for her. I remember her reaction when we told her over the phone. She was speechless. That didn't happen often. She cried. That did.

She loved the whole idea of my mini-micro farm and was so encouraging about it.

She fought so many battles in her life against horrible demons, and she didn't always win, but she never ever stayed down.

She was looking forward to getting old and being "covered in grandbabies" and she planned on carrying butterscotch candies to pass out to all the kids.

I missed her terribly, but didn't talk to her nearly as often I would have liked.

We made so many plans to visit each other and they always fell through. I've imagined her meeting my friends here so many times; they would have loved each other. She really wanted to attend the Pascha service at my church, and she was excited about being my "bridesmaid" when we celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary. We were going to get tattoos together. I have hundreds of pages of conversations with her saved on my computer. Our hundreds of hours of phone conversations are fading but precious in my memory. We always talked about hopefully seeing each other again SOON and how great the hug would be when we finally did.  Now I've finally made it to her home and she's not here.

Her life changed my life and made it brighter, fuller, warmer, more thoughtful, and more exciting. 600 miles away, my life isn't going to change much with her gone, except for the new emptiness that's just everywhere.

"In the days after she died, the world seemed filled with a harsh, caustic, almost shadowless light that it hurt to see."--from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sixteen Years

I feel too young for that number, but that number also seems way too small. It feels longer, not necessarily in a bad way.

Sixteen. Years.

10 children, six boys, four girls, one dead.

 5 hospital births, 4 birthing center births with a midwife, 1 home birth.


 100 more pounds and then 60 less....that's just me. You'll have to ask the Time Lord Ninja about his weight if you want to know.


More than 100 various small livestock/poultry, and about a dozen different pets or so through the years.

10 years homeschooling with another 18 or so to go.

Eight different homes in six different towns in two different states.


Two different religions.

More jobs than I can possibly count, but never much money.


Lots of friends, old, new, lost, kept....


A million failures but zero giving up.

It's been quite a ride so far. I think we are getting better at it, at life together, at loving together. Sometimes it doesn't feel like we've made any progress, but looking back....we sure have. I'm looking forward to the next 16 years and beyond.

(Sorry for the  light non-existent posting lately. This "part-time" job has eaten up all of my time.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

I either have no personality or an awful lot of it.

I took a shortened free version of the Myers Briggs personality test, due to my Right Hand Girl's excitement over discovering her own, very rare and wonderful, personality. I am not what I thought I was....either I remembered wrong or I've changed or something, but instead of being an ENFP like I thought, supposedly I am an ENTP. Barely. Kind of sort of. Maybe if I took the full test (I'm never spending money on a personality test, whatever the benefits may be) the results would be a little more confident. This short version's results sound very much like someone is trying to cover their rear:

Extravert(1%)  iNtuitive(22%)  Thinking(1%)  Perceiving(28%)
  • You have marginal or no preference of Extraversion over Introversion (1%)
  • You have slight preference of Intuition over Sensing (22%)
  • You have marginal or no preference of Thinking over Feeling (1%)
  • You have moderate preference of Perceiving over Judging (28%)
So the only thing sure about me is I value perceiving over judging. In the structure of this test, that means I prefer to approach life in an open, flexible manner, keeping my options open, being adaptable and tolerant, and having a wide range of interests and information. Or, I play it loose and easy, not doing what I ought when I ought because I am caught up in something else shiny, that I am surrounded by old half-finished projects, I have no standards, no focus, no aim, and no future.

I'm currently in a bad mood, having just completely wasted a whole 3 day weekend dreaming about what I would like to do in a someday that will never happen.

Minneapolis trip was great. I walked at lot. Now I want to move there, but not really because I love here, but I want to be near my sister, and that's there.

I started working part-ish time last week. It will really help with our bills. That's a good thing. I'm thankful for it.

Two more geese magically appeared here at Stumble-On while I was gone. Well, not really. My friend Katie dropped them off. They are gorgeous and cute and fun and people say that guineas are loud?? They have nothing on my geese. I have to get a working camera.

I'm reading two books right now, neither of them fiction, which is a bit odd for me. One is The Path to Salvation, A Manual of Spiritual Transformation. Wow. This one is mind-blowing and enlightening and hopeful and totally discouraging, at the moment. I'm about halfway through, and I'm hoping so much that before I reach the end he says something about salvation being possible even if you can't find a place of solitude and shrug off all earthly cares. He doesn't actually say you can't, exactly, but he does talk about solitude's importance. I've been wondering how I could arrange for some solitude in my life without, you know, leaving my husband and kids to a dreary highly structured goal-oriented motherless life.

I was going to say they wouldn't have enough money, either, but considering I'd be gone and not spending any, they'd probably be fine. I do most of the spending. Not that it's a lot, but without me there would be no poultry, much less driving therefore gas buying, much less variety of food, less social my part-time job is probably mostly making up for just what I spend.

I have now talked myself into quitting my job and everything else I do. Told you I was in a bad mood.
This is not the fault of the book mentioned above. I haven't read it since Thursday. It's a good book. I'm looking forward to finishing it, and then starting it over again. I will probably repeat that cycle indefinitely. It's a good book. I would like to write more about it someday.

The other book is 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. It came highly recommended, but I haven't read very much yet so I don't know if it is good or not. I'm afraid it is just going to make me feel bad. It sounds like a book for less open and flexible person. I need a scheduling book for ADHD people. There probably is one out there. The book I found on home organization for ADHD people was great. 

Anyone out here read either of those books? I'd love to talk about them with someone. I hope y'all had a great holiday weekend.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Leaving for Minneapolis!!!

It's 11:47 pm and we're about to head to Atlanta to fly to Minneapolis!! Yay!!!!

(btw, Frontier fixed everything and I'm much happier with them now. Still don't like the long hold time, but otherwise their customer service is pretty good.)

I don't recommend Frontier Airlines

I'm packing for a trip to see my little sister and my brand-new niece! I've been pretty stressed out lately with thinking about everything that needs to be done, and for a while this trip was just another thing to stress out about. Not anymore; I'm just pure excited now!

On the other hand, this airline's website stinks, and don't get fooled...they have cheap tickets but they get you in every other way possible. I'm trying to check in online right now but the website isn't working, and of course I've been on hold for about 45 minutes right now. I'm supposed to leave to get my car from the mechanic and pick up my husband, but I need to get this done too....

Ah well. I've had two friends mention to me how much stuff I must be packing to take Sir Dex with me. I'm really not. He is exclusively breastfed and he can sleep on a blanket right near me. My sister is borrowing a car seat for him and I'm carrying him in my Ergo. (LOVE the Ergo. My sister is the one who bought it for me 3 kids ago.) He needs a few outfits and a couple of blankets, some small toys and diapers and wipes. That's it. It's been quite a few years since I've needed to carry a diaper bag, too....I leave a small bag with emergency supplies in the car and my purse holds a wipes container and some diapers. On the other hand, I've just gotten used to always having a blanket hung over one shoulder. I don't try to look dressy when lugging a 18 pound poo, spit-up, and smiles machine. No one is looking at me either.

My son asked if he could toast some taco shells in the oven and I said yes. I was distracted by packing. So now when we get off the plane and unpack everything is going to smell like smoke. Our oven has a toasting setting, but of course he didn't use it, and had the oven set at 550 degrees.

Why do ovens have a 550 degree setting? What do you bake at that temperature?

Taco salad is still good without the shells..

Oh, hey, my call just got answered.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The weather is nice today

We live in the Southeast USA. In the Southeast USA, the school schedule makes no sense. Does it make sense where you are?

Think about it. We have four seasons here: comfortable-but-yellow-everywhere, too-steamy-hot-to-breathe, comfortable-with-colorful-leaves, and slightly-chilly-with-occasional-ice-storms. When do the kids start school? Just before the beginning of one of the comfortable seasons. When do they end? Right at the end of the other comfortable season. The kids holidays are too hot or too icy.

I'm not feeling bad for the kids here. Well, I am, actually, but really, I'm feeling bad for the homesteaders/small farmers. When are the best months for the garden/animal chores? While the kids are in school. For some this might be helpful, but I (finally) have more helpers in my home than hinderers (awkward word, that).

Other homeschoolers are confused right now, trying to figure out what my problem is. We homeschool. Do school when it's not nice outside and do outside stuff when it is nice! And count the farming work as school! What's my problem?

I don't know. I haven't figured it out yet, I guess. I'm really trying to have a very good school year...I have kids in high school now with futures to consider, futures that need nice looking transcripts. How many times can you have "built a fence" or "dug a hole" or "caught a runaway rabbit" listed as a school activity? Not to mention "washed dishes," "vacuumed," or "did laundry."

I'm sure you've seen this graphic:
Most people would probably agree that just three options would be nice, but there are a lot more than that. Mine would look like a star: Kids & Pets, Clean home, Garden & Livestock, Homeschooling, and I'm about to add Job to it. I'll manage it, or push through it.

Oh, wait...I forgot the sanity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Two good Longfellow poems from my son's schoolwork

The Rainy Day
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.
My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart, and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

As a fond mother, when the day is o’er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Apparently there's this restaurant in California that makes "Vegan Soul Food"

That makes absolutely no sense to me.

We've been busy busy busy.

Intensity had a birthday, and went to her best friend's lake house. Sweetheart had a birthday. Octavia is about to have a birthday.

We got new ducks.

We processed a bunch of ducks and chickens with our Farming Enabler friends. (The lovely ladies at Homesteading Housewives, check them out!) Processing, for the non-farmers who don't know, means: chasing, catching, stuffing in a cone, slitting the throat, scalding, plucking, gutting, chilling, and bagging. Then chilling some more. We have more to do tomorrow and Sunday.

Ninja Timelord had an attack of gout. That's some nasty stuff, y'all. Everytime he has it, it is a little worse. This time it moved up from his big toe and included his ankle. It's very sad and hard when he gets it. Apparently it feels like a never-ending red hot screw is just twisting right through you. An then when it starts to get better, all the muscles in your leg seize up and give you awful cramps. It's never a fun time.

We also all had a cold, but we got over it.

Firstborn accidentally jammed a fork tine under his big toenail, and then hopped around shaking his foot so hard he kicked the door jam and split his little toe away from the rest of his foot. So yay for another ER trip. He's better now.

I ran 3 miles in under 47 minutes! Once. Then I didn't do anything for the rest of the day. Y'all laugh all you want, but someday in the distant future I'll actually be a real runner. Who can run a straight mile at least without doing intervals.

Sir Dex has learned to both sit up on his own and he is up on all fours rocking. Crawling is any minute now.

I got some more new ducks. Muscovies this time. They are gorgeous and I'm so excited! If they live up to their reputation, I should have plenty of eggs and baby muscovies running around here in no time. Their names are Vincent and Monet (the drakes) and the girls are Vivian, Hester, Hazel, Jemma, Melinda, Freckles, Agnes, and Demeter.

I drove a friend to Rock Hill and back. That was kind of fun. I know I'm weird, but I really enjoy driving. Less so when we get pulled over for not being buckled when WE TOTALLY WERE, but the completely mistaken officer let us off with a "warning" and that was that. I won't even put a vehicle in drive if there is someone in it not buckled, and if he had gone to the effort to actually look, he would have seen that it is impossible to see the seat belts from the side due to where they were mounted. But whatever.

School started! Being homeschoolers, we get to start whenever we want. We chose to school year round, taking breaks when we want as we go. We do 180 days, which when broken down into 12 months, means only 15 school days out of every 30. This is our first year doing Easy Peasy. It's a totally free completely online curriculum. It looks really great; I have high hopes. I bought two cheap tablets so we have a total of four computer-type things my seven kids can use. I may need one more.

This year I have two high schoolers, Firstborn and Right Hand Girl, both in 9th, and I basically told them to get 15 days worth within every 30 whenever and however you want. They can do just about everything on their own. I just check up on them. It seems to be working so far, but it's early yet. At the moment, they are both excited and motivated to rush through their schooling and have a bunch of free days near the end of the month. Or Firstborn is...Right Hand Girl wants to rush through and get done early. As in graduate early. Whew. She is hard to keep up with. Of course there are a couple of subjects Easy Peasy doesn't have that my kids want to take, so this semester I'm getting the fun of creating my own Home Ec course and Fiber Arts course. I'm nervous, but this is so much better than trying to come up with a whole curriculum on my own. We'll see, we'll see.

I also have two middle schoolers, but one of them is at the lake house so Happy Face is just doing half days till she gets back. He's doing okay. A little hard to keep on track, but he is getting his work done for the moment. We'll see when his sister comes back and the both have to start doing their program work together.

Then there are the elementary kids. Warrior has been having difficulty with reading, so we are massively focusing on that. I've completely ditched the phonics method and am just teaching him sight words. I don't know if he's finally developed mentally enough, become interested enough, or just understands sight words better than phonics (probably a combination), but he is picking it up fairly quickly now. Not as quickly as some of my other kids, his little brother Sweetheart passed him up by quite a bit and Little Big Boy is catching up quickly. Warrior isn't bothered by this, though, or if it does he doesn't let on. He says, "I don't mind being different! I'm different in lots of ways. I like different things, I think different things, and I'm good at different things." He is totally right. He has mechanical/spacial talent that is really something, he loves bugs, and he (seems to me) to have an above average talent in drawing.

But anyway, so I'm working with the elementary boys, reading, numbers, American History, fun science, lots of lapbooks. Octavia is participating, or not, as she likes, but I have a feeling she won't be waiting till age 5 or 6 to learn to read. So far she has had someone to play with during school time, because her little best friend has been spending her days here. But she starts private school this Tuesday, so I'm going to have to make sure Octavia has stuff to do!

Oh, and our back porch sliding glass door shattered suddenly last night. It was likely shot out, and we know by whom, but we have no proof and aren't inclined to chase neighbors down for an accidental ricochet. We did speak to them and made it clear how very very lucky it was that no kids or animals were in the room at the time. They seemed properly shaken up. I guess. It could have been a bird or stray rock. That suddenly shattered a double paned glass door with no previous cracks or chips. It was very exciting in a completely not good way.

Apparently I just got a job as well, so life isn't going to get any less busy! I don't want to share more till it's for sure...I'll write something Monday.

I wish I had pictures for you, and I might soon, but right now for some reason none of the ones we've taken are on this computer, and if I wait to post this it will never happen. So, this is my long boring imageless post. At least I wrote something finally!