Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daycare Cubby Storage

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It was getting out of hand and my frustration was growing.  Toys.  Because I own and run my daycare business from my home, the kids live here daily and they come to feel that it's their home as well, which I love.  The big issue is dealing with the things I need daily to use for my daycare.  Things are stashed here and there.  Mats, cribs and blankets in the spare room, puzzles and kitchen type toys in the hall bench, but the majority of items occupy a space in our living room, or Playroom as the kids refer to it as. 

The Bin system I found at a yard sale years ago was not really working and the space was not being utilized very well, but alternatives were expensive to purchase and they were not made of real wood. I got some inspiration after seeing a cubby system that Honey's nephew had built for their home, and began researching.  After talking to Honey about it, he told me to draw out what I was thinking and he would take it from there.  He's a keeper!  He quickly drew up the plans and confirmed that is what I needed and off to Lowes for a date night we went.  Are we the only ones who spend a date at a home improvement store?  We spent one Saturday morning building the Cubbies with really nice quality pine and I'm so happy with the results.  
Hand sanding
As Honey cut the boards, I began hand sanding with a block sander because Honey couldn't find his palm sander.  It was a ton of work, but we are both pleased. The boards were almost as smooth as a baby's bottom!  

There are two sets of cubbies: Set one  has six storage spaces and Set Two as four normal spaces and two double spaces.  The double space will allow for a hidden space in the corner.

I was able to find fabric baskets at Target just the size and price I needed.  I looked at Amazon, but was wary of the thin fabric that so many seemed to be made of. After going through, sorting, getting rid of some, and putting other toys in plastic and fabric bins, I still have organizing and rearranging to do, but I'm pretty pleased with the results. I love that I have such a wonderful space now to store and organize toys, puzzles, and things I use for daycare, but I LOVE the nice flat top surface to place those bulky toys that won't fit in the baskets or plastic bins. I originally planned to paint it, but I'm not sure if I'l do that now.  Running out of time and steam for completing projects this summer.
Set one
Set two

Told you it was a mess of toys! 

without backs so you can see the hidden space

Adding backs to each cubby cabinet

Finally finished  

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mowing by Osmosis

Growing up, I was expected to help out around the house.  I never got an allowance or was paid to do those jobs, but incurring the disappointment of Mom by not doing them or doing them not to her expectations was not a good thing.  Typically resulted in completely redoing the chore or a really good chewing out. Being a single mom most of her Mom years, meant she needed help and I needed to learn these things. I wasn't always the brightest star in the sky.

  Webster's Dictionary defines Osmosis as this: :  a process of absorption or diffusion suggestive of the flow of osmotic action; especially :  a usually effortless often unconscious assimilation 

Smart Tutor states: “Learning through osmosis” is an analogy for natural, organic and  indirect way of learning. To learn through osmosis means to learn by immersion an exposure. For example, children learn their family’s native language through osmosis.
So if you want your child to learn something, immerse them as much as possible in whatever it is as a way of learning seamlessly. Learning a language is a prime example of this, however it can apply to anything, through a gradual, unconscious process... You never know what they will pick up and what connections they will make."  
While I do agree that kids pick up on things they have observed, some things just need to be outright taught.  As a mom, I understand this completely. It's the countless hours of doing and folding laundry, vacuuming and moping the floors, putting away dishes, brushing their teeth, making their beds, driving to them to various functions and so much more.  You think they would observe you doing these things daily, but these are things we've had to teach our kids. Sometimes, they pick up on things we never knew they were observing, and it befuddles us. 
Mom, brother, and myself (at the wheel)
Every time I help Honey mow the yard,  I am reminded of my mom.  In fact, I remember the first time I was allowed to use the riding mower and it was not good.  My mom had mowed the yard hundreds of times, but I didn't sit there observing her while taking notes.  That's where she went wrong.  That red Snapper mower was a work horse, but the secret to a nicely mowed yard and making it work efficiently was due to my mom's persistence to details and taking care of her equipment.  I remember standing by her side as she showed me how to clean the under carriage of the mower, scraping off all the moist grass and dirt, hosing it down with a strong stream of water, and leaving it clean and ready to go the next time.  She showed me how to add gas, oil, check the spark plugs,  lower the mower deck, etc, but I not ever remember her teaching me specifically how to mow the yard.  
similar to my first mowing
Disaster in the making. We had over 10 acres to mow of our yard, grandma's yard, and pastures, and she couldn't do it by herself.  She told me what section to start on, made sure the deck height was just right, told me to stay on speed 3, and walked off.  I wonder if she watched from a distance or just hoped I was listening.  It was pretty fun and I thought I was doing pretty good until I heard her yelling at me while waving her arms.  Her face conveyed she was pretty upset and I had no clue.  Did you know that you're not supposed to mow your name in the yard, do great spiral designs, and not run over her favorite blooming flowers?  Yep, I told you it was a disaster!  After I got a fantastic chewing out and precise instructions that I wasn't to nick the trees, to follow a pattern, not mow in the center to a wide piece leaving a small section on either side of the mower, to set my eyes on a marker in the distance and mow straight towards it, so I would mow in a straight line. You get the picture right? With instructions, I actually did pretty well, but I'm not an osmosis learner by any means.
  I love mowing actually.  It's me time.  I put on my earphones, set my Mamma Mia music to play and sing madly along as I go, but I always am reminded of my mamma and that first time I ever mowed.  I now set my eyes on a marker, as I make each turn, but every once-in-a-while, I am tempted to mow my name in the yard... 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Magic little word of purging

It all started with nine little words: "I'm having a garage sale, want to join me?"

Honestly, I've wanted to have one for so long.  I feel like I live in clutter, and it really does bother me.  Some of the clutter has come from 27 years of marriage, three kids, two parents passing away and acquiring some of their belongings, and having an in-home daycare. I was pretty giddy when Honey suggested we work on cleaning out the garage.  So we only cleaned out 1/3 of the garage, but it's a start!

When the garage sale came up, I was so excited!  I'd not had one since the kids were little and there was so much I wanted to purge.  First was the antique china cabinet and former front storm door sold, then we wanted to get rid of our Big comfy Couch.  We attempted to list it on a local on-line garage sale, but we found that people want to low ball, no matter what something is really worth.  Something for nothing.  Grrrr...  It didn't sell at the garage sale, even though we had a live model sleeping on it.  Eventually it did sell and we were beyond excited.  We were so tired of hauling that thing back and forth.

What I did love was the openness that we suddenly had in the living room.  We have been longing to replace the old massive entertainment center we purchased over 25 years ago.  I knew we wouldn't be able to re-sell it, so re-purposing was perfect. Some of it became a new storage center in the now empty bedroom after Oldest moved out of state.  It still needs to have a cap put on the top, but I'm pretty happy.  I may use another portion to make another storage bookcase if needed.
The search began for a new entertainment center and we wanted to go small.  We are working towards the empty nest and paring things down.  It's really kinda exciting!  I found a cute antique dresser for $50.  I can't figure out why someone would paint over the beautiful pulls, but after cleaning up the beautiful handles, Honey reconfigured the drawers, and drilled two holes in the back for cord access. I repainted and distressed it, before setting it up.  We're quite pleased with the final look!

Hidden beauty

We have since purchased brand new couch and recliner, and filled up that wonderful open space we made. My mom's piano now occupies part of one wall, and a major tuning needs to happen, but I am really looking forward to playing it once again. I plan to purge the daycare toy area, getting rid of needless toys, and hang some pictures before I'll be finished, but it's a start!

Now if I could only get the spare bedroom cleaned out!!!!  Guess we need to hold another garage sale!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Crazy like a fox?

Destroyed Fuse 

It was such a crazy day for April 21.  We had two rounds of storms, trees down all over the area, lightening stuck the fuse just outside our home.  Thankfully, we never lost power but everyone south of us did.

Youngest texted me with a picture of a puppy that was found at church between some storage buildings, between the crazy storms.  He has a bit of a soft heart for critters like the rest of our family.  Said it was going to be taken to the pound if someone didn't take it. I told him to send it home with Daddy and we would care for it until it was Adoptable age.  Poor thing still had it's eyes and ears closed.  A lady, who works with Gerber Baby foods was at the church preparing for a special Mom and Baby event they do each year at our church, rushed out and bought a bottle and some puppy formula.  Youngest had already named it Bear, cause that was written on the box he sent it home in.

Honey said it was up to me because I would be the one taking care of it all the time, so while the kids napped, I fed the pup from a medicine dropper and kept it warm.  Can you see a "but" coming? As I was holding in, I started to notice that it didn't look like a normal puppy, at least not one I had seen before. It's nose and toes looked different, it was larger than a normal puppy, and it wasn't soft.   I called my cousin who raised Golden Retrievers, and as we talked, and I shared a few pictures of it, she said "Oh, I think it's a fox cub!"  That started a fury of research and googling (that's a word right?), and it did look like a fox pup.  I found out that foxes are legal to keep as pets, so I started to get excited a little bit, until she texted me that she didn't think it was a fox after all.
Lady was NOT impressed nor happy
Yummo!  Feeding time! 

Funny toes and nose
I found a lady in Austin that runs a rescue organization for wild abandoned/injured critters (raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes, ettc.) and after a 45 minute conversation with lots of pictures and questions, she determined it was indeed a coyote pup!!!   That started a debate what it's name should have be:  Todd, from Fox and the Hound Disney movie, or Carl, after a man from our church who's last name was Fox. What do you think?

Since they are predatory to small children, and it was a COYOTE, I knew it couldn't stay.   Oldest and I ran back into town and returned it where it was found, and decided to return after dinner to check on it.  We knew it couldn't crawl off on it's own, but it was hard to leave it there defenseless.  I know, I must have been crazy to be worried about this critter. The hard thing about returning it was I knew that at some point, someone would probably shoot it when it reached adulthood, due to coyotes in the city.  So sad!

Thankfully, when we returned, it was gone.  It's momma had returned and claimed it, which was an immense relief.  I really wasn't looking forward to trying to keep this one alive and find a place that takes in coyotes.  So there is my yarn about the day I held a coyote pup, loved it, and was in total awe and wonder about the sweet and rare opportunity we had.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Time and Memories move in two directions

"Time moves in one direction, memory moves in another." -William Gibson

Some of my earliest memories are flashes of the late 60's and muted colors- greens, reds, a friendly Irish setter, snow (lots of snow),  a lighthouse, and a friend who wore an eye patch.

Pretty random, but all of those memories have one thing in common - my Mom.  She was the one that built a snow igloo in Boston and giggled with us as we froze, took us to the lighthouse and romped with us on the Massachusetts shoreline after exploring Plymouth and the MayFlower.  She was not afraid to be silly, take us on adventures, chew us out, or make things fun.  She worked hard to make sure we knew how to do chores, do our best in school, be responsible for our decision and actions, and learn about Jesus.  She taught me how to fly kites, fish, hunt for pheasants (yes, with a gun), make things that we couldn't afford, save for what we wanted or needed, and know that we were loved.

In 2009, we began seeing changes in Mom and eventually, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  On October 20, 2016, my Mom changed her residence from earth to Heaven, and is forever free from the horrible disease that robbed her in so many ways.

Mom would have been so horrified to know how the Alzheimer's had left her.  I know that's why she tried to hide it so long from us.  She learned early in life to be independent, and I feel she knew something wasn't right. She knew things were changing.  She would have mourned
Momma and Sister

Missing her grandchildren getting married, and having babies of their own.
  • Not being close to Sister and the closeness they shared. 
  • Not being in her own home, church, and with her friends
  • Taking care of "her birds" and helping others like she did. 

In the midst of all this, I knew I was losing the Mom I always had, but I didn't want others to think less of Mom or forget who she was.  I didn't want the Alzheimer's to define her or us.  It was just a final speed bump and challenge that she would experience and endure. There are a few things I am thankful for during these last few years:

  • For the first time, we spent an incredible amount of time together that we normally would not have had.  It wasn't easy, but we did have some laughter, many tears, challenges, and memories.  It was a strange, but rare gift I am so thankful for.  
  • Momma would not remember all the hurts, frustrations, anxiety, the health issues it presented, nor how it made her behave.  
  • It brought our family closer through the challenges and gave us experiences that helped us to empathize with others walking through this journey. 

Our family has been "fortunate" that we have not experienced grief and loss, but we knew that it was coming.  With Mom, I grieved with each visit and memory that would pop up, and with her disease, there is a dual grieving time and I didn't quite understand that completely, but I live it almost daily.  

It's in the still of the night, when all other distractions of the day, are quiet, that the only thing moving is my brain.  It's then that the memories and pictures start playing in technicolor, and somehow, my brain starts adding to those memories. It doesn't matter how tightly I close my eyes or try to think of nothing, they rush at me like waves on the beach, constant, inching closer and closer, till I'm left with a restlessness that is resolved only by filling the void with quiet nighttime distractions.

I wanted to share with you what I shared with family and friends at Mom's celebration service following her death. It is about things I learned from Mom, but I wish I had added one more paragraph - what I learned from Mom about Faith and God, but my brain was attempting to put a whole life into five minutes, and I just couldn't do it. Mom would not have liked all the attention and people talking about what a great person she was.  But we did. We tried to honor Mom during her service, so Elvis, Alan Jackson, and Cat Stevens "came" to sing, and at Mom's graveside service we shot off fireworks.  Yep!  Right there in the cemetery we lit her favorite "One Bad Mother" and the 100 Missile shots. I think she would have been delighted, but she would have made sure we picked up every bit of trash because that's how she was.
Mom taught me a lot of lessons growing up.  They weren’t through lectures or even those switches I had to cut from the tree out back, but they were through daily life.  riding a bike down a dusty gravel road, learning to balance without holding on to the handle bars while clapping and singing about Peter and John healing a lame man.
“If you fall off, you get back on and don’t give up.”  This is what my mom told my 8-year-old self when my new birthday gift, a palomino, decided to bolt and I didn’t have my feet in the stirrups. When she finally caught up with us 5 blocks later, I was shaking and couldn’t wait to get off that horse… But she wouldn’t let me and made me ride that horse, with corrected stirrups, all the way home.  We later had the best memories riding our horses in the country.  She didn’t once tell me I couldn’t break or train my colt, but encouraged me to work every day, sharing what she knew from growing up on the farm, showing and checking to make sure I wasn’t missing any important steps.
Don’t quit… Mom never let me quit anything, just because it was hard or I lost interest. The first day of college was always the hardest for me, and exactly three times, I called her from the payphone, begging her to come get me and let me come back home.  She would drive over two hours to the college, help me settle in and then drive all the way back home.

Be frugal and Creative – She had many interest - wood working, crafting, taking care of wildlife birds, and taking care of others. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but from the time I was a baby, mom created clothing for me until the time I married.  Side-by-side, she taught me to read patterns, make short cuts, and pattern alteration. Hands on learning at it’s best!  When I was growing up, she created the cutest and fun birthday cakes that looked so professional. This only frustrated me when I attempted to do the same for my children and they ended up looking like something a child would do.

Plan and know!!!  She was a planner… She would research anything she wanted to purchase, pros and cons, or plan to do.   That is something I inherited from her.  She always knew the day of the month of the year that she would pay off any bill or save for what she needed.  Sometimes I think that may have been a curse she tossed my direction.   As the sign changer for TCC, she prided herself at not using the same saying more than once.
Life is an adventure – Have fun and laugh!   We used to play tons of games growing up, and whether it was Candy Land, Gin Rummy, or Yahtzee, she never went easy on me and let me win.  A win against her was earned!  When my brother graduated from college, she drove to Joplin to stay with me so we could go to his graduation.  The night before the ceremony, she decided she wanted to TeePee and fork his yard. It was a ton of fun to sneak over there and decorate, but a little instruction on holding on to the end of the roll when you throw it was needed.  She loved being silly, holidays with the family and making a big deal of accomplishments, small or large, but she didn’t like the focus to be on herself.
 Grandkids – She was an awesome grandma and loved seeing them when she could, creating memories and traditions as she went.  We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on how she wanted to spoil them, but she loved them like crazy.  From creating giant bubble solutions, teaching them to drive stick-shift, holding tea-parties, shooting off works, chase fire-flies, sticking a coffee packet on her nose to get the kids to laugh, listening to them play their musical instruments together, or always having waffles with homemade blueberry syrup when we stay with her.  

I would also like to share what my sweet cousin and friend, Raine, wrote,  because she shared her heart and memories from a different perspective.
Many family gatherings were spent at Aunt Betty’s.  As a young child, I was always excited to go to Niotaze to spend time with my many cousins, Aunt’s, Uncle’s and Grandparents.    Since Aunt Betty lived right across the road from my Grandparents, it was always a bonus because I would get to see Aunt Betty, Lynnet and Bryan every time I would visit my Grandparents.   After my Grandparents passed, Aunt Betty’s house became the place for all the family gatherings.    At Easter, the cousins would gather to hunt Easter eggs in her yard; a tradition that continued with the birth of her grandchildren and great nieces and nephews.    A yard that was always neatly manicured, adorned with beautiful Japanese Maple trees around her patio to the peach trees and grapevines growing on the east of her property and a large garden to the south.   
4th of July was always spent at Aunt Betty’s – A family tradition that my children always looked forward to attending.   It seemed each year, the fireworks show be better than the year before.   Because 4th of July was her favorite holiday, she saved money just to go shopping at Jakes in Coffeyville with her sister Jerre, my Mom,  carrying the list of which fireworks were her favorite -  A list that was created from the previous year.   You see, there was a rule we had to follow.  Us kids gradually learned the requirements it took to be able to light ANY of the fireworks with Aunt Betty’s satisfaction and for people that knew the rules, we would secretly laugh at the ones that broke the rules or were unaware of the rules.   1.) You first had to announce the name of the firework you were getting ready to light.   2) You also had to make sure she heard the name of the item that was going to be lit.  3.) You then had to make sure she had time to write it down.     THEN she would way ‘OK!  I’m ready!”    Afterwards, she would give the item a rating as to whether it was worthy of being part of next year’s fireworks show!    New comers to the gatherings, such as friends, or impatient and anxious teenagers that wanted to hurry and shoot off some fireworks, were often scolded for not announcing what was being lit and sometimes had to retrieve the already shot item and try to read the name of firework.   Words like “Wow!”  “Alright!” and even “That was a dud!  I’m marking that off the list!”  were the comments she would make! Aunt Betty was serious about her fireworks and we all were thankful to be able to share this love with her.   A love which resulted in creating memories with three generations of family.
When I was 12, I was in the hospital because I broke my leg and Aunt Betty came to sit with me.  The following year, I had my tonsils removed and because of some complications, I didn’t go home right away and again, Aunt Betty came to sit with me.  At one of the visits she cheerfully stated “I brought you something from home that is much softer than anything you have here!”  I look over to see her pulling a roll of toilet paper out of her bag!  She always had a way of making me laugh!   Always a caring heart.   
At Thanksgiving she always made her famous pumpkin pies adorned with a crust leaf in the center and a cranberry dish that was always in the same white stemmed milk glass bowl.    She always remembered our birthdays, sending a card in the mail, being there for my children’s first birthday, graduations and wedding.    Aunt Betty was a stranger to no one, always being fascinated or interested with the people around her and making them comfortable.   She worked hard for everything she had, took pride in her children and grandchildren and loved life being in the outdoors.   She will be greatly missed by many and I can imagine that when she saw Heaven the first time, she said her famous word “WOW!” 


“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” Vicki Harrison

Friday, March 17, 2017

Here a chick, there a memory

I have a confession.  I love going to Tractor Supply or farm supply stores.  I love the smell of the leather, the salt blocks, livestock food...  

I know it goes back to my childhood of having critters around.  The smell of the hay, which occupied half of the barn, permeated every nook and cranny, often housed small gray mice and rats, which scampering one could hear upon creaking open the heavy wood door.   I have memories of standing as still as possible, in the middle of the barn, waiting with baited breath, to see if I could spot of the  critters, stomping on the wood floor to send them to their hiding places again.  It was like a game, but in reality, they weren't really that scared of us.  A large hay hook enabled one to pull a bale from the tower of hay, sectioning off a few squares of hay to fluff for that day's winter feeding.  Plunging the huge metal scoop into the 50 lb bag of horse food.  The pellets spilling about as the horses crowded close to snatch the first bite before the plinking of the falling pellets hit the wood trough.  Their velvety soft noses exploring coat pockets for special apple or carrot treats if you didn't act fast enough.  Tromping to the north end of the pasture, water from the cistern was pumped into the white chipped and dilapidated claw-footed tub that served as a water trough. the horses scattered droplets of cold well water with their noses, shaking their heads before plunging their noses under and blowing bubbles.  

Hefting the 40 lb bag of grain-free lamb dog food in the basket, I glanced towards the back of the store, drawn by the glow of heat lamps in the middle of the aisle.  I was instantly propelled back to my childhood, as I glanced into the huge galvanized feed troughs, from which chirping, fluffy balls of yellow huddled beneath the warming lamps.  If it weren't for the locked enclosure keeping people from handling them, I would have been in the middle of them. 

Growing up, we didn't have a farm implement store close and ordered our baby chicks through the mail. The second you walked into the doors of the post office, the much anticipated peeping of the chicks filled your ears...  Looking back, it was such a wonderful time building memories.  I actually have felt sorry for my own children, that they did not experience the same chores and memories that Honey and I have growing up in more rural settings.