Archive for November, 2007

Corner work

Another homeschooling, blogging mom had the wonderful idea to de-clutter her life one messy corner at a time. I look around my house, and every conceivable place has piles of junk. Our office is now so bad that the piles have oozed off the desks and onto the floor. They have been kicked toward the walls, so that there is a pathway to get from the door to each desk, but it truly feels like the walls (I mean piles) are closing in on me.

I am overwhelmed by trying to de-junk the whole house or even a whole room, so today I tackled one very small “corner:” the top of my dresser. Most of the dress looks okay, but there is a basket on one end taht has become a catch-all for anything I can’t figure out where to put. Today I emptied the basket, ditched much of its contents, and actually put the rest of A-WAY (a foreign concept in our home).

Now I am trying to decide which “corner” to tackle next. It’ll have to be some aspect of this office.

The pictures are done!

I wanted to put a family picture in with this year’s Christmas cards.  Getting all six of us together in one place (that looks Christmas-y) at the same time can be difficult, but when we went to Silver Dollar City a few weeks ago, I had my trusty camera in hand.

First thing upon arrival, we arranged ourselves in front of something appropriate, and sure enough, someone volunteered to take our picture.  Now, you can’t be too demanding or discriminating when someone you’ve never met and who has never used your camera offers to take your picture, so we sai, “thank you very much,” reviewed the picture strolled a little further and did it again.  On the third try, we ended up with something we can use.  Thank you to the unknown grandmotherly lady who did us this service!

Needing a LOT of copies of this picture, I decided to use that self-service photo-printing machine at Wal-Mart.  I cropped the photo nicely and asked Jessica to put it on a CD.  Then, on our next Springfield run, we stopped at Wal-Mart in Ozark and I addressed the machine.  This should have been easy but was not, because the machine will only make prints that are 5×7, 4×6, or “wallet” size.

There are actually two machines.  One is the spiffy Kodak machine, and the other is the less spiffy Wal-Mart machine.   The spiffy Kodak machine costs $0.28 each, but it allows you to crop the picture and move this nifty little 4×6 box around to print just the part of the picture you want.  I don’t think the  less spiffy $0.16 Wal-Mart machine has that nifty little box, and I was pretty sure I needed that box. . . because. . . my cards are going to already-purchased invitation envelopes, which are exactly 4.375 inches by 5.75 inches.  It’s the 5.75 that’s the kicker.

So I played around with the spiffy Kodak machine, trying to pick out the right part of my already-cropped picture to go into the nifty box, but no matter what I did, in order to get the width under 5.5 inches, some, most or all of Josiah’s and Scott’s faces were excised.  This would not do, and I was frustrated.  I could not ask for help, because this happened to be after church on a Sunday, which is the ONE time in the week that any person with even half a brain knows s/he should avoid Wal-Mart like the plague.  The lines at the photo center were long and the rest of the family was waiting for me.

I went home, ready to cry.  Then I began playing around more with the original picture, and I figured out that what I needed to do (but did not know how to do) was to crop the picture to about 4 inches by 5 inches and then go print it at Wal-Mart in the 4×6 size (which would show more of the picture than I wanted).  I would then come home and cut off an inch of the picture – leaving the men’s ears intact – and all would be well.

After about 45 minutes of failure and frustration at the computer, Scott suggested I ask Katie – the Queen of Crop and Print – to attack the problem.  I did, and in less than five minutes, she brought me a CD with the properly sized picture on it.  It had a white stripe down the right side, and she said all I’d have to do after receiving the 4×6 prints would be to use the paper slicer and whack off the white stripes.

So, to day on the way to church, I returned to the less spiffy Wal-Mart machine and quickly and easily ordered a huge quantity of these pictures.  After church I went back and picked them up.  They are all 4×5, the look great, and here’s the bonus:  they have no white stripes!  When I asked the lady if she cut them off, she said, “well, we looked at them and we said, ‘surely she doesn’t want that white stripe on there,’ so we have this neat machine that does that and we just cut all the white stripes off.”

I am so happy!  Now the cards are ready, the pictures are ready, and the newsletter only needs a few minor corrections before I can print it.  Yee hah!

A question to ponder

If line “a” goes through point (-4, 3) with a slope of -3/4, and if line “b” goes through point (-3, -4) with a slope of 4/3, and if lines “a” and “b” intersect each other, then WHY in the name of all that is logical can I not solve a system of two linear equations in two variables – each in the form of y-y1= m(x-x1) – to find the point at which the two lines intersect?!?!?!?

I hated algebra in 9th grade and I STILL HATE ALGEBRA!!!

My life is too cluttered.

Today I looked around the house and realized that there was stuff piled in every corner and on every available surface.  I am SO TIRED OF ALL THE MESS!  So, after I vented to Scott, he and the kids worked really hard to get some areas picked up and cleaned up.  Now I am motivated to continue the process, so if I can do some little thing each day to de-clutter, or at least throw out some piece of junk, I will be making progress.

Updating the past five days

1.  After waiting almost three HOURS, Jessica passed her driving test with flying colors.  Yay, Jessica!!!  She did not parallel park, but the examiner said she didn’t care about that.  I guess that woman dislikes geometry as much as Jessica does.

2.  True confessions; I ended up driving 80 mph to get Josiah to his psych appointment in Mountain Grove, because we had to wait at the library drive through for almost 20 minutes, and the clinic has a no-exception policy of re-scheduling you if you are more than 10 minutes late for your appointment.

3.  We spent parts of three days at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, which we also shared with my brother and my niece.  As always, it was fun and relaxing, the food was yummy, I ate too much of it, and I have no regrets.

4.  While there, we were treated to a mini-concert by my dad.  I asked him to show the kids his accordion (he took accordion lessons in grade school), and he unearthed it and played for us.  That was very special to me.

5.  We came home to tear out carpet.  Friday night, we all worked as a team to rip up the dining room carpet.  It took a lot of effort to get the tack strips and pad staples up, and it was a royal mess.  There is wood floor under there (never finished), but glued onto parts of it is linoleum.  We are not sure how to get that off.

6.  Scott called the man who may be doing the floors, and he said that if we were going to paint (someone will) we should paint before pulling up the carpet.  Oops!  So we have not yet pulled up the living carpet.

7.  The need to paint before flooring means we must choose paint colors.  Hence the marital challenges mentioned on the “things I’ve learned today” page.  Actually, we have agreed on a general base color (a light, buttery yellow) and we think we will go with white-ish woodwork.  We just can’t figure out what to do with the  (currently puke green like the rest of the woodwork) massive mantle.  Scott can’t envision it in white, we’ve considered dark green, and we don’t know what to do.

8.  We asked our artisty friend to come over and give us her opinion, and she thinks our buttery yellow with white trim will work, although she suggests perhaps doing it in both white and yellow, a la Eureka Springs houses.  Hmmm…

9.  I looked up “refinishing pine floors” on the internet and found a very useful 25 page forum.  It sounds like we need to get several estimates and make a lot of decisions.  If we can’t even choose the paint color. . .?

10.  We are waiting for a painter friend to call back.  Since we don’t even own a paint brush, roller, or pan, and since neither of us have ever used said or have and desire to learn how, we are hoping we can pay someone else to do the painting.   We shall see.

11.  Katie is steadily writing contest essays and college application essays.  I am proofing them and trying to slice them down to size.  I don’t know WHERE that girl gets her tendency to be verbose.

12.  Josiah has been fighting Singapore math tooth and toenail, but after two intense meetings with his teacher and principal, we are hoping things will improve between them.

13.  As usual, it’s Saturday and since Andrew didn’t finish his laundry, chores, and academics, he got no lunch.  I guess that helps a bit on the ever-increasing grocery bill.

The big day approaches. . .

Tomorrow morning at about 10:00 AM Jessica will take her driver’s test.  Who is more nervous; Jessica or Mom?  I think Mom, because I have been her driving instructor, and I am concerned that there may be something I have not told her or have not emphasized.  You know – all those things one never thinks about except on a driving test; like which way to turn the front wheels when you park on a hill; or how many feet your taillights should be visible on a foggy day in February; or when to turn on your headlights in the evening (and by the way, if you’re just tooling down the road, how on earth would you know when 30 minutes before dusk IS?!?); and how to turn on your hazards; etc., etc., etc.

I can see that we’d better do a little review in the morning!

Sight Unseen

There was an AIM presentation on Thursday, in the middle of their Christmas song training camp. The kids said it went really well and that the older Methodist ladies really liked the evangelistic songs they did.

Josiah does his laundry on Mondays. The girls alternate doing the family ironing every Monday afternoon. Josiah is frugal with his limited funds, and he flatly refuses to buy any clothes he deems unnecessary. Therefore, he owns exactly one (1) pair of dress pants. They are black, and he wears them every Sunday for church and also for any AIM presentations.

I knew Saturday night that Josiah would try to get dressed for church this morning and realize that his black pants were wadded up in a heap in his dirty clothes hamper. Because he is a responsible young man, I chose to say nothing.

This morning, while I was doing the breakfast dishes, Josiah came down to the kitchen and said, “I wore my black pants for AIM on Thursday and I completely forgot to get them ready for church today.” I said (as he got out the ironing board), “Hmmm. . . I don’t think anyone is going to iron them this morning – unless maybe you pay her a lot of money.” He replied, “Oh, I know.”

He set the iron to five and I told him to put some distilled water in it. He did so and then proceeded to iron his pants. He didn’t ask me how to do it, and I didn’t tell him. The pants were ironed well enough, and he wore them to church.

I was VERY proud of the fact that he took full responsibility for the situation. He didn’t holler at anyone, or get angry. He didn’t blame anyone else. He didn’t ask anyone else to solve his problem. He just ironed his pants, and a man ironing is a sight that had never been seen in this family before.

Lowering my standards

Christmas cards are a big deal to me.  I enjoy sending them and receiving them, and since we send a lot of them, I usually shop for Christmas cards on deep discount in January.  I didn’t do that this year, and when October rolled around and I started looking in catalogs and online, I couldn’t find anything I really liked.  I like to really like the Christmas cards I send.

In the past, when I haven’t been able to find just the right card, I have ended up at CPO, a Christian bookstore in Springfield.  There, I have to pay a bit more, but I can always find something nice.  So I went to CPO this week, and I was very disappointed.  I couldn’t find anything with a good, meaningful message.  Not even among the really expensive cards that I would never consider buying.

I came home and thought and thought and thought.  Finally I thought a new though:  I could make my own cards, and then they would say EXACTLY what I want them to say.  Thursday night I lay in bed, unable to sleep, working out different wordings for Christmas cards.  I finally hit on a sentence I liked, so I hopped out of bed and went in the bathroom to write it down.

The next morning, I got on the computer at 11:00 AM and spent almost my whole Off Day working on The Card.  There were ongoing fights with Publisher, searches for non-copyrighted clip art, new printer challenges, and a veto on wording by 33.33% of the family, but FINALLY, I had The Card looking the way I wanted it to look.  We even had almost enough cardstock to print them all.  Now I just need one more pack of card stock and a bunch of envelopes.

As far as lowering my standards, I finally decided NOT to sign all the cards by hand.  We are talking almost 200 cards, and with my carpal tunnel syndrome and time limitations, writing something like “Merry Christmas with love, Scott, Patty, Katie, Jessica, Josiah and Andrew” 200 times is a chore that I don’t relish.  So this year, I had the computer sign all the cards.  That’s right.  If you are on our family mailing list, you will be receiving a lovely, meaningful card that is NOT signed by hand.  It will also have a mailing label on the envelope and a wonderful newsy newsletter within, but it will not be personalized.

My mother taught me that cards should be signed by hand, and ideally contain a nice, hand-written note.  She is right, of course, but I have decided that it’s a higher priority to me for more of our friends to receive card and letter with news of our family than for fewer of our friends to receive a card (and letter) that is signed by hand.  So, yes, 2007 marks the year that I have become slovenly in the hand-signing-of-Christmas-cards department, but it doesn’t mean I don’t know better or don’t care.  It just means there are a lot of things I’d rather do with my limited card-signing time and energy.  Like blog.  = )

I should be making my grocery list

or practicing the piano.  So I guess I will discipline myself to do the first and then maybe the second.

NO walnuts on my windshield

Not one. And none in the grass, either. This is truly amazing, because all the other ten falls we have lived here, we have been inundated with copious quantities of walnuts. They fall off the trees, and bounce onto to the roof – sounding like golf balls – then roll down to the gutters, where they either stop (creating multiple mini waterfalls during our predictable November rains) or plop (onto the ground or whoever happens to be walking on it at the time).

However, the greatest risk of walnut-induced injury is actually not a concussion, but a broken ankle. In every previous year, the entire area from the breezeway door to the driveways is completely covered with walnuts. Getting to your car is like roller skating on tennis balls. Avoiding the walnuts is not possible, as they are inevitably buried under six inches of leaves. Stepping on a relatively ripe one will cause it to squash open and dark brown (well, walnut-colored, duh) stain will stain your shoes, which will then stain the carpet in your car or in your house, depending on which way you are headed as you cross the mine field.

We were out raking the other day, and I chose the area between the driveways. If you haven’t been here, it’s kind of hard to explain how/why we have two driveways, and if you have been here it’s not necessary, so I won’t try. I selected that area to rake because its boundaries are clearly defined and it is small. Halfway through the job, it suddenly dawned on me that I was standing upright with no greater effort than usual. Something was clearly amiss, and I realized with a start that there were no walnuts on the ground.

I paused, I pondered, and I surveyed the situation carefully. No walnuts on the ground. No walnuts in the gutters. No walnuts on the roof. And no walnuts in the trees. No leaves up there, either. Where on earth had the walnuts gone? And if all our walnuts were gone, what about everyone else’s? Were other homeowners skating on walnuts while we blissfully sauntered? Did anyone have walnuts? How much would a bag of walnuts cost at Sam’s if NO ONE had walnuts?

My lightning quick mind finally turned on. Last spring, after the tulips came up and the daffodils bloomed, after the pear trees blossomed, and after I planted both my flower beds, we had a hard freeze, with the result that, the iris and the peonies never bloomed at all, I had to re-do all my bedding plants, and in August we had a lot fewer plums than usual. Aha! Maybe that same freeze did something wonderful terrible to the walnuts.

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