Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Father's Day Snapshot

My internet hasn't worked at all for the last week. Now the Badger has it working but it's slooooooow.

So many things I wanted to blog about! You'll just have to wonder.

The Badger had to work father's day, but he came home in the evening and ate the strawberry pie I made him. Then he read the traditional father's day book to the kids.

Now you have seen both the view out our living room window (which shows our closest neighbor) as well as the couch I bought on Craig's List for $100. I love the style of this couch but it's pretty beat up. But it's better than the $200 couch we bought last time we shopped Craig's List for a couch. And it's got good bones so it's reupholsterable, if I ever decide to fulfill my destiny and take up upholstery. Anyway, it works for now. We have somewhere to sit and I theoretically have more money to spend on things that are more important.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mud Hole

We had something like six inches of rain fall at our house earlier this week. There's a low-lying spot in our yard that turned into the most terrific mudhole. The kids had fun with it.

I'm sure it will normally get muddy here, but I don't think it will usually get this bad, since I think six inches of rain at once is unsual for these parts (maybe?) The only difficulty I'm having is that it seems that this red dirt does not wash out of clothes very easily. I have had a lot of red-dirt-stained clothes to wash over the last few days and they haven't come out very well. Bean pretty much ruined a cute shirt of Roo's by planting a red dirt handprint squarely across the back. I shall have to ask the locals what the secret stain remover is for iron-laden soil.

PS-- notice Fish climbing the pasture gate in the above photo. Of all the kids, he's the one that most likes to roam the property aimlessly. I love to watch him do it.
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Here is half of my galley kitchen, half unpacked. This was probably taken a week ago and it doesn't really look much different at this point. There are still boxes in the way.

This is probably the most forlorn kitchen I have ever had-- it really does need a lot of work. It's hard to tell from this photo, which doesn't make it look half bad. The formica is in sad shape and the cupboards are grimy. As it is not a terribly large kitchen, we estimate that if we were to use the ready-made cabinets and countertops at Lowe's we could gut and rebuild the whole thing-- including sink and appliances-- for about $4,000. This is cheap for a kitchen remodel, but we don't have anything like $4k lying around at the moment. At the moment we don't even have a couple hundred extra to replace the kitchen sink (which is only 5 1/2 inches deep!) but hopefully we will within a month or so. The Badger and I both agree on that being the very first home improvement we will undertake.

The kitchen may not be a very pleasant workspace for me at the moment, but at least we own it and can do with it whatever we wish. And over time it's going to change dramatically.
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We finally have internet here at the house. Because we're rural, we had few choices and we ended up with an air card that runs off the cell phone towers. It works okay, but it crashes our computer frequently. So this will probably be short.

Things are smelling better and I'm getting used to them. I also hope I'm getting past that ucky stage of pregnancy-- I ought to be past it at 16 1/2 weeks, but this is how it always goes for me. More on this later.

I'm actually starting to get a little bit excited about the house. Okay, I feel guilty for not being excited about the house from the very first, but I'm blaming pregnancy hormones. They squelched my usual attitude of "isn't this a wonderful adventure?" Everything has turned out more complicated than we expected and I haven't coped very well. But things are going better now, or at least seeming more familiar, and that helps.

I absolutely LOVE our rural setting. I had no idea Oklahoma could be so enchanting. The area we live in is gently rolling and forested and SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Plus, we have seen a lot of interesting wildlife. So far my list includes deer, snakes, toads, turtles, and an opossum. The opossum was casually strolling across my neighbor's lawn late one evening like it was a house cat. But it wasn't. It was definitely an opossum. Very cool.

We have a ton of birds too. There are a lot of cardinals and bluejays on the property as well as something that I didn't recognize which turned out to be mockingbirds. I had always wondered what mockingbirds looked and sounded like (being a big fan of the Harper Lee novel) and now I know because they're living right next door to me in my elm tree. Yay!

Speaking of birds, I was driving home the other day and I saw a bird running across the road. I'd never seen one before but there was absolutely no mistaking it: it was a roadrunner. Someone had mentioned that they had them in Oklahoma and I'd been surprised but now I've seen them for myself. They're charming.

I'll try to get some more pictures up soon. The house is still a disaster, but there's no hurry. I've got everything fairly functional so all the boxes cluttering the floors are things like books and decorations. So I've set myself a goal of one box a day. Gradually this place will turn into home.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Making it Home

At last, our stuff is all here and we can turn this house into our home.

This is such a tedious stage though. Every room looks like this:

And that was after I'd worked on that room all day. I'd unpack some things and get rid of some of the boxes and tubs and then I'd go down to the garage to see what was next and find MORE boxes and tubs for that room.

I've done this before, I know eventually it ends, but I'm not thrilled about doing it in my current state of nausea and fatigue and I don't ever want to do it again!

Having our stuff in the house has helped with the smell. The upstairs smells MUCH better now that the carpets are thoroughly dry, and though the house still smells like "old house" to me at least I have stuff to do in the house instead of just stand around and say "yuck, it smells in here."

About the carpets: it's actually fairly new carpet in quite good condition and it's only in the upstairs-- the downstairs is ceramic tile. The seller was supposed to have the carpet professionally cleaned before we closed. Well, when our appraisal came back it was $11,000 less than the agreed purchase price. The seller agreed to go through with the sale anyway, but we were asked to make all kinds of concessions because now she was losing all this money. We certainly felt for her, but we weren't exactly planning on all this sudden up-front cost financially. Anyway, we were suddenly in charge of cleaning the carpet, among other things. I should have researched different carpet cleaning companies in the area, but time was short so I just called the guy my realtor knew. He said the carpets would be dry in an hour. They certainly weren't.

But now they are and they don't smell anymore so I think we can live with them for awhile. We have such a long list of things to repair/replace in this house and the carpet is pretty low on that list so I'm glad it's stopped stinking.

I've got to go get back to work, but I'll post more pictures and info soon!
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bean's Flower Bed

Purply-blue salvia, pink vinca and white vinca. The white lavender was already growing there.

It's really interesting to see what kinds of plants they sell in different parts of the country. The big thing here seems to be heat tolerance, though the vinca here must be a different variety than I'm used to. It says it's a full-sun annual-- I always thought it was a perennial groundcover to be planted in the shade.

There are a lot of things that I grew in Idaho that I think would do well here. I tell people that and they say, "oh, but it's much hotter here than in Idaho." Then I say, "but I lived in WEST Idaho, where it's 100 degrees for days on end in the summer" and then they say "oh, okay, you do understand how hot it gets here." The difference seems to be that in Idaho it's an absolute given that you irrigate everything whereas here irrigation is looked at as a desperate measure. I think if I'm willing to irrigate a little I can have all kinds of fun trying out new kinds of plants here. And I certainly have plenty of space for experimentation!
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The House

Finally, I found the camera cord!

Here is our house:

This is the back view showing part of the pasture, before the yellow flowers had to be mowed:

Please notice the lovely lovely elm tree next to the house. It shades our back patio and makes me so happy!
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The New Toy

The first thing we had to buy after buying two acres was a riding lawnmower. The Badger thinks it's a blast. So do the kids, when they get to ride in the cart. I haven't seen Fish this happy in ages. I love it when he smiles like that.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Ducky Potty

My little Roo has big-time public toilet anxiety. I can't tell you how many times I've stood by her in gas stations or at church waiting and waiting and waiting for her to do her business only to eventually give up because she's too scared. This is especially true if it's a self-flushing toilet or if there are noisy air dryers running in the bathroom. And it gets a little tedious when we're on a long trip with a tight schedule. Luckily she can hold it for hours, so potty accidents with her are really rare.

At home she does fine, but it's because she has one of those little seats that fits on top of the toilet. Hers is the cheapest one Walmart sells and it's white with yellow ducks on it. We call it the Ducky Potty and even a year and a half after she potty trained it's still really important to her.

It finally dawned on me that I could bring the ducky potty along in the car on long trips. When my sister and I went down to Goblin Valley a few weeks ago I remembered to stow the ducky potty under the back seat of the van before we left. At our first potty stop I had her carry it inside the gas station. And, Bingo! We were out of there in no time.

It worked so marvelously well that she even went potty on pit toilets without batting an eye (and FISH even makes me hold him on pit toilets!) It was like a miracle.

So when we went down to Zion and Bryce just before we left Utah, I again made sure the Ducky Potty was in the car with us. Once more it worked perfectly.

Late in the evening, we were looking for a motel. We were out in the middle of nowhere and it was going to be awhile before we got to the next town. Bean and Roo started informing us that they had to go BAD. When it became apparent that Bean really couldn't wait, we stopped for him to go by the side of the road. Then we realized that if we set Roo's Ducky Potty down on the ground she could go too.

However, the Ducky Potty was NOT in its normal location. It was getting dark and cold and Roo was constantly informing us of her discomfort as we combed the car, but to no avail. Finally, it dawned on me:

I had left the Ducky Potty hanging on a hook in the bathroom stall at Bryce Canyon.

Oh, the trauma!

As we drove on, I told Roo a story to make her feel better. I told her that another little girl had gone into the bathroom at Bryce Canyon and had been scared to use the potty but then she had seen the Ducky Potty hanging on the wall and used it and it had made her happy. Then she took it home with her and they lived happily ever after. And someday Roo would meet her when they became college roommates or something and she would thank Roo profusely for sparing her the extreme anxiety of having to use the Bryce Canyon potty without a potty seat.

It actually worked. Instead of crying for her poor lost Ducky Potty, Roo was happy for this other fictional little girl. But then she started insisting that we buy her another Ducky Potty immediately. We would have been happy to oblige, but there were absolutely no Walmarts in that neck of the woods, let alone any other store that might possibly sell a potty seat of any kind.

Luckily, our toilet at the motel in Orderville was a bit on the small side and she was able to use it without too much fuss. The next day at Zion we had the same old issues with her, but we got through it okay. And that evening we stopped in Cedar City and bought an exact replica of the poor lost Ducky Potty.

It's here with us now in Oklahoma. Long live the Ducky Potty!

Roo still talks sometimes about her lost Ducky Potty, but she likes to tell the story of the little girl that found it.

Who knows? Maybe that's exactly what happened.

Flowers and Cupboards

This happens to me a lot lately: I am so tired when I put the kids to bed that I fall asleep with them and then I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep!

This evening I went back over to the house. The smell is gradually getting better-- don't know if I'm just getting more used to it or if the carpets are finally drying out from last weeks pre-closing shampoo or if the vinegar/baking soda solution I washed the walls with helped. Anyway, I'm more hopeful.

I apologize that I don't have pictures yet. I've got them, I'm just not sure where my card reader is at the moment.

Bean and I cleaned out the front flower bed and planted some annuals there. He's working on his World Conservation award for Cub Scouts and he has to do a bunch of gardening, lucky kid. He didn't enjoy the weeding/soil prep phase-- he kept running off to go play with sticks in the pasture-- but he really got into the planting and watering and he did a good job.

Then we went inside and I painted the shelves of my lower kitchen cupboards. They were just bare particle board and they were stained and scary. A fresh coat of off-white semi-gloss paint has made them much more appealing and should make them easier to clean. I was surprised though at how much paint that particle board sucked up-- I should have known better and primed first. I used up almost all the paint so I hope it doesn't desperately need a third coat.

I was hoping that the smell of the paint would help with the overall house smell issues. However, I chose an environmentally-friendly "0 VOC" paint that was so "Low Odor" that I could hardly smell it. As much as I want the house to smell better, I think this paint is the absolute bomb and it's all I'm buying from now on.

Tomorrow I would like to paint the kitchen. I just have to figure out a better way to keep the Rabbit occupied while I paint.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Putting Things Together

First of all, I have something important to say:

This Birrd is incubating.

Sprout #5 will make a grand entrance around Thanksgiving time.

This was very much intended. We're desperate to have this marvelous person in our family. So desperate that I'm willing to go through debilitating morning sickness again, and in the middle of a major move this time (the timing was not exactly intended, but that's just how things worked out).

Luckily, the worst of the morning sickness occurred during our last few weeks in Utah. There were days when I could barely get out of bed and if my mother-in-law hadn't fed the kids no one would have. Now we're at the point where I still feel yucky a majority of the time but I can usually keep functioning through it.

It's a little tougher for me to roll with the punches when I'm pregnant. I'm much more emotional. The ups and downs we've been through the last few days with the house have been pretty hard on me. We had a lot of drama during the whole closing process and then there have been many little things since then. For example, Monday evening I arrived to find water leaking into the downstairs bathroom. It was coming from the pipe on the furnace that drains the condensation that forms when the A/C is running. There was a big wet mess in the furnace closet upstairs around the disconnected pipe. I put a bucket under it and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to find that we had no running water in the house (except for the leak) and Roo was sick.

So of course I cried.

Some women from church were supposed to come over and help me clean Tuesday morning. We couldn't do that without water, but one of them came over with her husband to see if they could figure out what was wrong with my well. He showed me how the well system worked and where the circuits were on the well pump. Once we reset them, we had water again. Then I figured out how to reconnect the pipe on the furnace and stop the leak. And then my cleaning crew came over. It's much easier to be excited about living somewhere if it's clean!

Brother L who fixed my well was an angel. Not only did he get the well working again, but he was just a really happy, cheerful person and that did a lot for me. He absolutely raved about what a beautiful location we were in and what a great little house it was. And he reassured me that country living would be a blast once we got the hang of it. That did so much to lift my spirits!

So things are coming together at the house. There is just one major thing that I am struggling with right now (there are several minor things, but I can deal with them.) My big problem is the way the house smells. My nose is so sensitive when I'm pregnant and when I walk into that house a wave of nausea goes over me. It's pretty hard to get excited about a new place to live when walking in the door makes you want to puke.

I've been working hard and the smell has improved some, but it's still very noticeable to me. I'm going to try doing some painting this week. I hope that will help. And things should be better when we get our own stuff in there and I can start cooking. But I still have to survive one more week before our moving truck gets here.

I really have been blessed though. The company apartment we've been staying in is still available and we can spend most of our time over here. I only need to be at the house to work on projects like painting...

...what do you think the Badger would do if he came home and found a leaf green kitchen?