Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter Holidays

We have been taking advantage of the beautiful weather we are having to decorate our home for Yule. It is great to finally have a house where we can decorate and not have to worry about the neighbors being upset with our decorations. I remember one year we put lights on the bush in front of our apartment. We had deer in front of the bush. It looked very nice. Our upstairs neighbor knocked on the door a short time later. She wanted us to come out and look at the toy soldiers she had added to our display. She just couldn't understand why we did not like her little soldiers in front of our place. I tried to explain that we are pacifists and don't approve of soldiers, toy or otherwise. She just didn't get it. Turns out she didn't know what a pacifist was. I don't know what happened but sometime during the night those toy soldiers moved over to the other side of the sidewalk away from our apartment.

Now we don't have to worry about such things. Our yard is truly our yard and no one is going to add to our display. I like the simple look of white lights. Bob likes all the brightly colored lights. But this year he humored me and put out white lights. Our tree from the last few years died so we had to buy a new one. We found a package that had two trees instead of one. I love it. Two little deer, two little trees and one Happy Holidays sign. In a couple of weeks we will add a tree inside in front of that big window. But for now this is it. The packages are all wrapped and ready to tuck under the tree.

Happy Winter Holiday of Your Choice Everyone.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


My friend Jenna over at Harm None Kynd Creations is having a great giveaway. You can check it out on her facebook page. You can also check out all of her great stuff on her Etsy store or on her web page. She is a wonderful artist and a great person. I really really want to win this so please don't sign up for the giveaway. Just go buy something from her. Remember, it's small business Saturday. Do as much of your holiday shopping as you can from small businesses.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black Friday

We will soon be celebrating a fairly new holiday in the Winter Holiday Calendar. The day after Thanksgiving has come to be known as Black Friday. Black Friday is the day that traditionally the holiday decorations come out and the holiday sales go up. It used to be the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It seems though that lately those sales have been starting earlier and earlier. And the holiday shopping season has begun. A few years ago a few stores, mostly the big box stores, began opening early in the day on the day after Thanksgiving. It was not unusual to see the stores open their doors at 5:00 or 6:00 am. As the years have passed that hour has moved earlier and earlier. Now many stores are open at midnight on Thanksgiving night with big sales going on. I've even heard of a few stores that are opening Thanksgiving evening. All of this is to convince you to spend more and more money on holiday gifts.

There are people who just don't buy into the whole "more is better" philosophy. We have declared that the Friday after Thanksgiving should be called Buy Nothing Day. You should take this day to relax and spend it with your family at home. Do not contribute to the corporate greed that seems to be taking over this wonderful holiday season.

So I have been asked what my Black Friday shopping tips are. Here is my opinion:
1. Stay home
2. Do not buy anything on this day to contribute to the greed of the big box stores and general corporate mindset.
3. Take the time to enjoy shopping for your friends before this season of greed begins.
4. Shop local whenever you can.
5. I know I don't have to say this, but, Buy American as often as possible.
6. Buy handmade as much as possible.
7. Shop from the mom and pop businesses that are struggling to stay afloat.
8. Shop from small independent stores or handcrafters such as those on
9. Make gifts whenever you can.
10. Give from your heart, not your wallet.

If you still have holiday shopping to do, a wonderful homeschooling mom over at Not So Average Mama is having a great giveaway. She is offering a $50 gift certificate for Check out her blog and enter her giveaway. THen come back and let us know if you win.

Happy Winter Holiday of Your Choice,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homeschooled Kids Play So Well Together

Today was homeschool soccer day. We love going to homeschool soccer. It is so much more than just an hour of soccer. The moms get to sit and chat for hours. After soccer the kids play all afternoon. Usually the little ones play on the swings and the slide on the playground. The older kids go off to play "in the woods." It's not really woods but a few trees that go down into a small valley. The kids like it because the moms can't really see them. You have to walk over to the edge of the hill to see what they are doing. They think it's a great place to play.

A few days ago we had a really bad storm. The aftermath of the storm is that there are tree branches down everywhere. Today one of the kids got an idea to drag some of the branches over to an area where there are a few trees in a circle. Pretty soon another child saw what he was doing and decided to join him. They had a branch that was too heavy for the two of them to drag so they called some of their friends over to help. I looked over to see ten kids dragging this huge branch across the little valley. They placed it between two of the trees. I saw that they had drug other branches between the other trees.

I went back to my conversation until one of the moms called another mom over to look at the kids. That's when I saw 20 or 25 kids dragging branches toward the circle of trees.

The little ones were carrying small branches. The bigger kids were carrying larger branches. They put the biggest ones in a circle between the trees. Then the put medium sized branches on top of the biggest ones. Then the little ones brought their contributions to the circle.

They held them up while the bigger kids put them on top. These kids had build a wonderful fort in the middle of the woods. My son said it was a hotel and they each had a room. Someone else said it was a big nest. I'm not sure what it was supposed to be. I was just so impressed with the way this large group of kids from 3 to 15 were working together to build this thing. They didn't have any adults giving them advice or telling them where to put the branches. They were working together and figuring it out themselves. It wasn't long until all the parents there were standing around looking at the creation their kids were involved in. Of course it wasn't long until cameras came out and everyone was snapping pictures. I felt bad that I only had cell phone camera. But I was so pleased to see that the only thing the parents were doing was taking pictures. No one stepped in to offer advice. No one stepped in to tell them how to do it better. They just let the kids work on their creation.

At one point the park ranger stopped by to see what was going on. He stood there amazed at the way these kids were working together. Have you witnessed a time when your kids worked together to create something awesome? What wonderful projects do you have to share with us? I know we are all so proud of our little ones. Please share with the rest of us one of the many awesome things your children have done.

Oh and that boy who thought it would be fun to drag the branches into the circle of trees, his name is Dakota. I'm his mom.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winter Is here Already?????

I really really really hate winter. My favorite time of the year is fall. I love the sound of rain on the roof and the leaves blowing all around. I love the smells of a newly lit fire and the aroma of pumpkin pie baking. Fall is my favorite time of the year. The only drawback with fall is that it leads into winter. Well yesterday we had our first taste of winter a bit early. They first started forecasting snow in the higher elevations. Then they brought it down to where we live, but they said we would get a dusting to an inch. And they said it wouldn’t start snowing until late evening. And would stop well before morning. You can imagine my surprise when about mid morning there was already snow mixed in with the rain. By noon time it was entirely snow. Soon we started hearing things crack and pop outside. There was a huge limb in the back of my husband’s truck. I told him I thought he should move his truck into the driveway so it would be further away from the trees that lined the street. About ten minutes after he moved his truck a very large limb came down. Only minutes earlier it would have gone right through the windshield of his truck. Now the truck was safe in the driveway away from the trees. A few minutes after that the lights blinked and then went off. It seems that the heavy wet snow falling on trees that still had most of their leaves was just too much weight for them to bear. As the limbs started falling down, so did the light wires.
We were without heat. Again. On Wednesday, a pipe coming out of the furnace developed a leak. My husband had to shut the furnace off and drain all the water out of the pipes and the radiators to keep the basement from getting flooded. He ordered the parts right away that night and paid extra money to have them delivered by Friday morning. On Thursday night he was able to remove the old pipes and get everything ready to put the new ones in place.
On Friday we were hosting a party for 50 homeschoolers. I kept apologizing to everyone about how cold it was in the house. We had one little electric heater that we kept on in the dining room. That is where most of the people hung out for the afternoon. The kids of course didn’t mind. They were running in and out the doors all afternoon. They had a great time. At one point in the afternoon they all lined up and went up and down the street Trunk or Treating to each car as the moms stood by their cars handing out treats to everyone. They had a great time with that. Finally all the families went home and I was able to start a fire in the fireplace. I was afraid to have a fire with so many little ones in the house.

When my husband came home from work Friday night he was able to put the new pipe pieces in place, fill the pipes up with water again. And we had heat. It was the first time I was warm in 3 days. Little did we know that in just 18 hours we would lose heat again.

So when the power went out on Saturday we immediately lit a fire in the fireplace so we would stay warm. We spent the evening laying around the living room relaxing. We finally went upstairs to bed. Since Dakota had no nightlight in his room he slept on the floor in our room. The water bed was quite toasty so we snuggled in for a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately by morning the waterbed was starting to lose it’s toastiness. We put an extra blanket on the bed and snuggled for a while to stay warm. When we got up there was still no electricity or heat. So we light another fire and hung out in the living room. I was able to make breakfast using the gas stove. I just had to light it with a match instead of the instant on feature.

About 2:30 this afternoon the lights came back on. We still don’t have internet. I’m hoping they get it fix tomorrow. I hate not having access to the internet. Especially when there is an emergency situation like this storm. When I finally get internet back I will post this article with a few pictures.
Carrying the downed branches out to the street so they can be picked up.

It's now Tuesday and we still don't have phone, internet, or tv. I am at a local restuarant with WiFi right now. I don't have the pictures on my computer yet. I'll have to add them later.
Pictures added on Wednesday. We now have all of our services restored.

Friday, October 7, 2011

We are finally settling in to our new home. All of the boxes are unpacked except for the ones hidden in closets and in the basement. I still have not ventured down to the basement. I told my husband that I have made it my life's work to never go down there. e thinks I need to to learn where things like water shut offs and things like that are. But I think I'll be fine.

Now that the main work of moving is over with I am beginning to think about my garden. It has been years since I have had a place to grow more that just a couple of pots so I am really excited about beginning this process. I want to do a few raised garden beds. I know I want one with herbs in it. I'm just not sure which herbs yet. I want another with a few plants like tomatoes and cucumbers and maybe some beans or something like that. I want to make a small area, maybe a tire or something like that for mint and maybe lemon balm. I know that those two things could take over the whole yard if I'm not careful. That's why I want to confine them. There is an area in the front of the house that has been used as a flower bed. There is also an area down the side of the house next to the driveway that has been used as flower beds. I don't have any idea what to plant there. I want something that looks nice throughout the growing season. I don't want plants that look nice for a couple of weeks and then the flowers die and the plant fades away. I'm planning on spending a lot of time this winter going over garden sites and such to get ideas. I am hoping that some of my faithful readers will also add suggestions to the comments for this blog. I'm really looking forward to posting pictures next summer of my gardens. I want my husband to plan out exactly where in the yard he wants to put his garage. Then I will be able to plan play space for our son and garden space for me. I'm sure I will be putting some potted plants around the deck as well.

It is so exciting to be able to plan for what I want to do next summer. I'm sure it will be a lot more work than I am used to but I can't wait to get started.

I think I'm going to go make some candles today. I haven't been able to make candles since we started this whole house hunting thing. My craft supplies were among the first things to get packed up. I got some yummy holiday and winter scents in the mail the other day. I think I'll make some Santa's Whiskers and maybe some Rendeer Poo. Okay, enough chatting for today. I'm off to stir the wax pot.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What a month it has been. Right after we moved in to our new house we had an earthquake. Then a few days later a hurricane. Of course there were several tornadoes that came along with the hurricane. Two weeks later we went on vacation to visit my daughter and her family and my middle son. We had a nice visit. The kids did a lot of fun things together. We went to the zoo. We went to a windmill. We went to Ms. Effie’s Country Flower Garden. We had a family reunion. We went to dinner at my brother’s house. It was a wonderful trip. But like all good trips, it had to come to and end. I was so regretting getting up at 5:00 in the morning to drive for an hour and a half to catch our train. All week I tried to convince my daughter that she should drive us to Chicago instead of to Galesburg. I was dreading the seven hour layover in Chicago. By driving there we wouldn’t have to get up early and we wouldn’t have a long layover. But she just wasn’t in to driving for six hours.

So up we were at 5 in the morning. We made it to the train in plenty of time. The trip started out pretty uneventful. Then all at once it felt like someone had slammed on the brakes. A few seconds later we felt a huge crash and then debris was flying everywhere around the train. We could smell smoke, a lot of it. But they weren't evacuating the train. Soon they announced that we had hit a trailer full of telephone poles that was trying to cross the tracks. They said we would have to sit there while they cleared the debris and checked out the train. They said it would be fifteen or twenty minutes and then we would be on our way. About an hour later they announced that a telephone pole had went through the engine that controls the air brakes for the train. They said someone was coming to fix the brakes. Then they said that another train was coming to tow us in to Chicago. We waited and waited. Eventually we started to see buses pulling up not far from the train. After four hours of sitting on the train they came through and told us that they had to fix the brakes enough to get us up to a train crossing that was a few hundred yards down the tracks. After another fifteen minutes or so, the train started to slowly inch it’s way up the tracks. And I do mean slowly. I could have walked faster and everyone knows I can’t walk at all.

We finally got up to the crossing and they took everyone off the train. Those of us who were going to Chicago got on one bus. Those who were going to places between Kewanee and Chicago got on another bus. There was a third bus for those who wanted to go back to Galesburg. So as I sit here writing this I am on a bus to Chicago. I’m sure this won’t get posted to my blog until sometime Thursday. But I wanted to share our wonderful experience. We have in the last month survived an earthquake, a hurricane, a few tornadoes, and now a train crash. What a month it has been.

Here's a link to the news article about it.,0,1968433.story

When I get home and can publish this post I will add a few pictures from our trip.

Three of my grandbabies and my son at the zoo.
The beautiful Mississippi River
At the Park
A beautiful windmill. We bought a bag of cornmeal that was ground at this very windmill.
Family Portrait Grandaughter Kennedy, Me, Son Dakota, Son-In-Law Grant, Graddaughter Ciencia, Grandson Damien, Sister-In-Law Yon Hi, and Brother Glenn.
The teacup tree at Miss Effie's Country Flowers and Garden Stuffs.
The bed in the woods at Ms. Effie's.
Angel Cat

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, What's Next?

Well we have survived our first bad storm as homeowners. We ended up with a small amount of water in the basement and a large tree limb in the backyard. No other damage. And we never lost power.

We have been in our house two weeks now. But what an eventful two weeks it's been. We were here a week when Bob went on vacation. He had planned this trip for a year with a group of friends. And they had paid for the whole trip already so he couldn't really get out of it very easily. So with boxes stacked everywhere and some things still in the apartment, he left last Sunday. On Monday I hired two day laborers to help move the rest of the things out of the apartment. They helped with some of the work in the apartment and then came over here and helped sort through some of the boxes. That went pretty well.

On Tuesday I stayed home to work on unpacking. I was working away not really thinking of anything. Dakota had been out playing with the neighbors across the street. Suddenly he came in and said, "Did you feel the earthquake?" I thought he was just playing around. But when I stopped working and went on facebook, that was all they were talking about. Apparently there was a huge earthquake in Virgina that was felt all the way up here. Apparently it did some damage in New York City. I didn't feel a thing. I guess because I was walking back and worth I didn't notice it. I did notice a cabinet door that kept coming open. I guess if you were sitting down you noticed it more. I'm so unsteady on my feet that it would take a pretty big earthquake for me to notice.

Then on Thursday they started talking about a hurricane. By Friday, that was all they talked about on the news. A big hurricane was coming and it was gonna be bad. I sent a text to Bob to tell him that they may want to head home a bit earlier than they planned. Late Friday night I told Dakota that we needed to bring in all the things that had been sitting on the front porch. He was great about helping with all of that.

When I got up Saturday morning I turned on the news to see what the updates were about the hurricane. One of the first things I heard was that all mass transit was going to close down at noon. And that the bridges were going to close as soon as the wind speed got up to 60 mph. They didn't know how early that was going to happen. Now Bob and his friends had to cross the George Washington Bridge to get home. I sent him another text that the bride might close soon. He told me they were leaving New Hampshire then. Usually when they go on this trip they hang out until late in the afternoon before they start driving home. This time they left at 9 in the morning. All day long he would text for updates and let me know where they were at. The news kept getting worse and worse. But when I looked outside it was a beautiful calm day. It was cloudy but no breeze at all.

He finally got home around 4:00 in the afternoon. The skys were still calm. Well, the first thing that happened while he was unloading his stuff from the car, we got locked out of the house. The latch on the screen door decided to quit working on Friday. I had put a lego piece in the latch so it wouldn't lock us out but Dakota saw one of his precious legos in the door and pulled it out. We were locked out of the house. Bob had to put Kai through one of the windows that I knew was unlocked. (Because the neighbor had put Dakota through it the day before when the lock stopped working.) He then walked around to the back of the house to put his camping gear in the basement. That's when he noticed all the stuff in the backyard. While I had cleaned off the front porch, I had left three coolers, a watering can, two trash cans, a recycling can, and numerous flower pots in the back yard. So after driving all day, he had to bring all of this stuff into the house. He was not happy.

After watching the news, Bob decided that he needed to go get a pump for the basement. We called Home Depot to make sure they were open before he went out. But it was a waste of time. They were totally sold out of pumps. They were out of water also.

We kept watching the news all evening. But by the time we went to bed there was only a gentle rain and no wind. We kept waiting for the power to go out. We got up this morning to find that the rain had ended. But the wind was really bad. We put some of the bigger things back outside. But the small things will have to wait until tomorrow. He went down to check the basement and found one area had about an inch of water in it. He used the pump that we use in the fish tank to pump the water outside. It was small but worked great to pump out the basement. I'm really glad there wasn't any more water than that.

While Bob was putting the trash cans back outside, he noticed a large limb laying across the neighbors fence behind our house. He went out and pulled it off the fence. Fortunately it didn't really do any damage. The fence could be straightened back out pretty easily. So we now have our first supply of firewood. Yes I know, it will have to dry for months before it will burn. But hey, it's firewood.

I feel really lucky that our damage was so minimal. A lot of people that we know had a lot worse damage. So we have survived our first two weeks as homeowners. We have survived an earthquake. And we survived a hurricane. I guess we will do alright as homeowners.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Unpacking We Go

The last few days have been a whirlwind. We closed on the house Thursday morning. We moved the first things in on Thursday afternoon. It's been busy busy busy since then. By Saturday evening we had almost everything moved in. We still have a few odds and ends left at the apartment. But we have until the end of September to get everything out.

Right now we are tripping over boxes everywhere we turn. We finally tonight got the living room so that it looks like a living room and not a warehouse. Almost everything in the kitchen is put away already. The dining room continues to house a mountain of boxes. The mountain does seem to be getting smaller though. I think there is hope that we will eventually settle in here. I actually have enough dishes and things unpacked that I am going to try to cook dinner tomorrow night. It's really getting old ordering out every night.

I've had a great time buying all the little things that we needed for the house. My husband will never trust me to measure anything again though. I measured our bedroom as 11 feet by 15 feet. I thought that would leave enough room for the bed with a nightstand on each side and a little extra space. Well, he started to put the bed together and realized that it just was not going to fit. Apparently the room is only 8 feet 8 inches wide and not 11 feet. There is no other space the bed can go because of the radiator and the closet. Even if the radiator was not on the one wall, there would be no way to walk around the end of the bed. Remember I said the room was 8 feet 8 inches wide. Well our bed is 8 feet long. So I have a nightstand on my side of the bed. Bob will have to build a shelf on his side. You have to open the door and slide past it and then close the door to get in to bed. I'll try to post pictures soon so you can see how crowded it is.

The library upstairs is wall to wall books. Instead of stacking them in the closet like I told them to, the guys who helped us just dropped them in front of the door. So you can't really get in to the room. Anyway, the library will be the last room we put together. I had to stop calling it the Man Cave. Bob decided he didn't like that. Oh well. We do have 35 boxes of books sitting in the middle of the floor up there.

I'll take some pictures in the next few days and get them posted so you can see out new house. I totally love it here.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

We Got The Call

Tonight we got The Call we have been waiting to receive. Everything is finally in one place and approved for us to buy our house. We have a closing date of August 11 at 11:00am. It's really happening.

This whole experience has reminded us of another time when we were waiting for The Call. About 12 years agao Bob came home from a camping weekend and said, "I want a baby. I want a baby now." We had talked of adopting a child but had never really done any more than talk about it. So we sat down that night and started making plans. We thought we would adopt a baby girl from China. My husband had been to China with his best friend so he knew what to expect there. So this seemed a logical place to begin. After weeks of home inspections and interviews by social workers and gathering all kinds of legal documents we were finally approved. All of our documents were sent off to China. Now we had nothing to do but wait. I'm telling you right now that I'm not a very patient waiter. We had to wait for nearly a year. That's what the backlog was for people who were adopting from China at that time. Finally in February, 2002 other folks in our group began getting their referrals. But we still waited. Our agency called China every night for weeks to try to find out where our referral was. Finally someone said that we had been denied. They never gave a reason just denied.

We had to back off and regroup for a bit. We then decided to transfer all of our paperwork to Guatemala. Again we began to gather paperwork and start the process all over again. This time though we got a call before we even had all the paperwork ready. They had a newborn baby girl they needed to place. A couple had applied for two children and received referrals for a boy and a girl. They did not know that they would have to pay double for the attorney though so they decided they would only take the boy. This left the little girl with no placement. We quickly accepted her referral. In May we flew to Guatemala and spent a beautiful week with the most adorable little girl you have ever seen. The day came when we had to return home. But the attorney assured us that we would be coming back within the month to bring her home. Two weeks later we got the call that the adoption had fallen through. Apparently the grandparents did not know about the baby. When they found out, they wanted her. We were devastated. It felt like we had now lost two babies but we had no funeral for either of them. I still have the pictures of this little darling packed away. Six long weeks went by with no word from the agency. We finally got a call that they had a little boy. We decided to accept his referral. Now we had to wait for all the paperwork to be processed. In October, to celebrate our fifth anniversary, we flew to Guatemala again to spend a few days with this baby. I tried really hard to not get as attached as I had to the last baby. But I did. About six weeks later we got The Call. Dakota Garcia Was now our son. When could we come and get him. A few days before Christmas in 2002 we brought our five month old son home.
This time The Call was not about a baby. This time we were waiting for a call about the house we want to buy. But so much of the process has been similar. This time we had to find the house we wanted. We had to gather all kinds of documents. Then we had to wait for them to be processed. Then we had to get more documents and wait for them to be processed. And we have waited and waited. It seems like forever. But it really has only been a few weeks. We made our offer on the house on July 2. I am just so excited about this move.

With our first wait, I spent the time making baby clothes and buying baby furniture. This time I'm making curtains and buying things for the house. And packing. We have boxes piled to the ceiling in the dining room. One more week and it will be ours. One more week. It feels so much like that last week we had to wait to go to Guatemala. It seemed like it was an eternity. A week from today we will be homeowners.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Packing, Packing, Packing, Keep them boxes packing

Yes, We're still packing. I think we ended up with 35 boxes of books before all was said and done. We did finally agree that the stuffed animals can live in plastic bags if you leave the top loosely open so they can breath. Oh and we found a new law that says that sticks, rocks, and pine cones from Ridgefield can not be moved into Teaneck. They are forbidden to migrate and will die if you try to do so. Wonderful law if you asked me. It allowed a large grocery bag of pine cones, a bag of rocks, (not fancy rocks, just plain old garden rocks,) and three arm loads of sticks to be taken outside and dumped. The fancy rocks, colorful, fouls gold, and things like that were all packed. I got everything in Dakota's room packed yesterday. But today I found several things out that I thought I had packed yesterday. It seems he is unpacking almost faster than I can pack. We are getting the work done though so we will be ready to move when the house closes.

I have rearranged the furniture in the new house in my mind a dozen times already. It is hard to imagine where things will go. I look at the pictures and try to imagine how it will look with our stuff instead of what's in there now. I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of something else that I need to measure. Currently I am wondering how much space is left at the end of the cabinet in the kitchen. But the next time I will be in the house is when we do the walk through the day before we close.

The things I will miss about this apartment:
1. The long walk up the hill from the parking lot which includes many many stairs. (NOT!)
2. The upstairs neighbors waking us up early in the morning or in the middle of the night with their noise. (NOT!)
3. Teenage parties right outside our bedroom windows all night long. (NOT!)
4. The people behind us who seem to be forever under construction all day and then party all night. (NOT!)
5. The landlord stealing or cutting down plants that we have outside. (NOT!)
6. Maintenance people who try to steal Dakota's bike if he leaves it outside even if it is chained up to the porch. (NOT!)
7. The parking lot that fills up by 4:00pm so you have to park a long ways away if you come home after that. (NOT!)
8. Friends of the upstairs neighbor who look in our windows while they are waiting for them to answer the door. (NOT!)
9. Maintenance men looking in the windows while they are working on the front of the building. (NOT!)
10. Maintenance pouring toxic chemical on the lawn to remove unsitely "weeds". (NOT!)
11. Someone to mow the lawn for us.
12. Someone to do snow removal.
13. A great hill for sledding.
14. Dakota will miss his friends.

Gee, I guess there really are a few things that I will miss. But so many more that I won't miss. I can't wait to get in to our new house.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Resign

We are getting ready to move so I have been packing and sorting things out that haven't been touched in ten years or more. I came across this poem and thought I would share it with you. It was date 4/22/2000.


I am hereby officially tendering my resignation as an adult. I have decided I would like to accept the responsibilities of an 8 year-old again.

I want to go to McDonald's and think that it's a four star restaurant.

I want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make a sidewalk with rocks.

I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to lie under a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple; When all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you, because you didn't know what you didn't know and you didn't care.

All you knew was to be happy because you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to think the world is fair. That everyone is honest and good.

I want to believe that anything is possible. I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and be overly excited by the little things again.

I want to live simple again. I don't want my day to consist of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, how to surive more days in the month than there is money in the bank, doctor bills, gossip, illness, and loss of loved ones.

I want to believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreas, the imagination, mankind, and making angels in the snow.

So... here's my checkbook and my car-keys, my credit card bills and my 401k statements. i am officially resigning from adulthood.

And if you want to discuss this further, you'll have to catch me first, cause.................

"Tag, you're it."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I have been packing the last few days. I can't believe how much stuff we have. I packed books today. I think I packed 12 boxes and I haven't done half of them yet. And that does not include Dakota's stuff. He probably has four or five boxes of books.

I tried to get Dakota to pack up all of his stuffed animals last night. I was promptly informed that stuffed animals can not breath in trash bags. They can not be packed until the night before we move so they will have enough air to breath until they are unpacked again. Okay. I did not know that stuffed animals need air to breath. I guess you learn something new every day.

This used to be our dining room. I think for now it's Storage Central. Oh well, I have to go get more boxes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Buying a house really is a lot of waiting. After scouring the internet for listings we finally made an appointment to look at a house. When we got to the guy's office he wasn't there and no one seemed to know where he was. So we sat and waited for him. He finally got there and took us to the most disgusting house I had ever seen. The kitchen had a sink in it and nothing else. Nothing. And the sink looked like it was from 1820. The only thing good about this house is that it looked like it would burn easily so they could start over and build something else.

We went to look at another house. And again we waited. The guy finally showed up and took us through the house. It was nice enough. It had everything that we were looking for except a bathroom on the main floor. But there was space to build one. Oh but wait. They didn't tell us it was on a flood plain. Not a great idea. So we waited.
I sent off an email about another house I saw on the internet. And I waited for a response. Someone finally got back to me and set an appointment to look at it. We got to the house and guess what??? The realtor was waiting for us. When she knocked on the door, they said they were having a birthday party. Could we come back another day. The realtor told them we had an appointment and we needed to see the house. It was an okay house. It had almost everything we were looking for. But it would need a lot of painting and minor repair work. The biggest problem was that it was a block from the busiest street in town. And it was three blocks from the projects. No I don't think I want to live there.

So we waited. We had an appointment to see two other houses. Then the realtor emailed us and said she had a house she wanted us to look at. So we waited until Saturday to look at the three houses. The first one was perfect. We loved the way it looked. It needed very little work done to it. The only thing it didn't have was a garage. But we loved it. The house on the flood plain was no longer the top house on our list.

But to be fair we decided to go look at the other two houses. The first one had nice size rooms. The master bedroom was on the main floor of the house. The kitchen had been redone. Looked like a very nice house. Oh except for the fact that the bedroom ceiling was falling in. The lady said she thought the roof might leak. Okay, so we went to look at the next house on the list. It was on the busiest street in town. Putting on a new roof right away? No I don't think so. It had no yard. The first bedroom had a large hole in the floor. It was about five feet across. The kitchen was way too small. Oh wait, what is that, a dead roach. Hum, I'm not so sure this is a good house. Well, maybe it's not a roach and it is only one and it is dead. Then my son opened the refrigerator. The roaches that came out of it were not dead. And not just one.

Oh well. But let's talk about the other house we saw. It has everything we want except a garage. Garages can be built. So we made an offer on it. Within two hours of offers and counter offers, we had settled on a price on the house. But it was Saturday night of a holiday weekend so we waited.

On Tuesday we hired an attorney. And by Wednesday evening we were out of attorney review. No waiting there. Next we waited until Friday to meet with the mortgage person. We signed the papers before we left her office. Again no waiting. That part went really really quickly.

Now we are waiting again. We have to wait until next Tuesday for the house inspection. I really don't like waiting. I can't wait until the day they put the keys in my hands. At least we should know on Tuesday if there are any major problems with the house. Then we have to wait until the bank has the house appraised. After that we wait for the closing.

I guess as far as buying a house goes, this is going pretty quickly. But I really hate the waiting. I want out of here now. I have wanted a house for so long. I have lived in this apartment for 14 years and it is about 20 too long. I need to be able to plant flowers by my deck and watch my son play in our backyard.
I have started packing. There really isn't much else I can do. So I pack and I wait. Please let the waiting go quickly. Please let me be in my new house very soon. I don't want to wait any more.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Our House

Well, we are about to start a brand new adventure in our lives. We are buying a house. We looked at a few houses. One had holes in the ceiling and nothing in the kitchen accept an old sink. Another had a five foot hole in the floor. One the ceiling was falling down and the girl said she thinks the roof might leak. (Gee, ya think!!!) We found one house that we kind of liked. I was not sure about the long narrow living room. And it did not have a bathroom on the main floor. (I just can't make a dozen or more trips up and down stairs with these worn out legs.) But it was in a flood plain. (There are a lot of areas around here that flood.)

Our wonderful realtor Lila said she had a house she wanted to show us. Let me tell you. It is wonderful. A fireplace in the living room. A kitchen that is bigger than a bread box. (If you haven't seen my current kitchen let me tell you, two people can not stand in it at once.) A nice size dining room. A half bath on the main floor. The upstairs has three bedrooms and a full bath. It has a basement but it isn't finished. Bob wanted a finished basement so he could have a "man cave". He thinks he can make it work for some of what he wants to do down there. The only problem is the low ceiling. Gee, that's not a problem for me. Oh yeah, he's a bit taller than I am, (like 10 inches or so.) He will get the third bedroom for his space along with the books and computer equipment. And there is no garage. So I guess next year's tax refund will go toward building a garage.
The biggest thing I love about the house is the huge backyard. And the beautiful deck. I can already see the plants growing on and around the deck. And the parties we will have. There is a nice picnic table built in to the deck. And an archway over the steps to go down into the yard.
There is a place for the washer and dryer on the main floor. But our brand new washer and dryer are too big for the space. (You know, the ones we bought in April with our tax refund.) So I will move a small desk into that space to make it my sewing area. And the washer and dryer will have to go to the basement.

I am so excited about this. It was so much fun the night we made an offer on the house. The realtor sent the information to the owners. They called her back in like ten minutes with a counter offer. We went back and forth a few times and finally settled on a fair price for the place. Now the paperwork will be turned over to the attorneys tomorrow. After a week or so of attorney review we will be under contract. Then it is just a matter of finalizing the financing.

I can't wait to move. I have hated this apartment almost since the day I moved in. With each passing year I hate it more. I can not wait to kiss it goodbye. I've already started packing books and things we won't need for a while. Can't believe this is happening.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Nine years ago today a tiny baby boy was born in Guatemala City. She was very poor and decided that the best thing she could do for this little one, her twelth baby, was to put him up for adoption. We were well in to our second year of adoption hell when this little boy was born. We wanted a baby girl. You see I have five other children. Four boys and one girl. I really really want a baby girl. I had decorated the nursery for a girl. I had tons of cute little dresses and lots of ruffles and pink. I was ready for a girl.

When our first referral fell through I was devastated. We had already spent a week in Guatemala with this baby girl. She was very much our daughter. But the grandparents did not know that their young daughter had a baby. When they found out, they wanted their granddaughter brought home.

After that we were in regular contact with our adoption agency. One day the social worker called. I got so excited because I was sure they were calling to tell me that they had another baby girl for us. No, she said she was just checking to see how we were doing. They had ten babies born that month. One was a girl, but the mother took one look at her and decided to keep her. The others were all boys. Then she said, "We even have this little boy that no one wants." How could no one want a baby? I didn't understand that at all. It seems that the other families who were with our agency were also waiting for baby girls. I thanked the social worker for calling and went back to my meeting.

I had a hard time concentrating on the meeting after that. I kept thinking about this "little boy that no one wants." How sad was that. I finally went back out in the hallway and called the social worker back. I asked a bunch of questions like, was he healthy? How old was the birth mother? (We didn't want another 18 year old mother.) Are you sure no one wants him? She patiently answered all my questions. Then I went back into my meeting. But five minutes later I jumped up again and went back out to the hall. This time I called my husband. Now we had planned to name our baby Dakota. At first it was Dakota Rayne. Then it was Dakota Ariel. I called my husband and asked, "So what do you think of the name Dakota Garcia?" He said, "That's a strange name for a girl." Then I said, "She's a boy." Immediately he reminded me of all the ruffles and lace and pink that filled our nursery. Finally he asked if I got a picture. He said we would talk about it when we both got home. I called the social worker back and asked her to send a picture.

When I got home from work that night, there was a picture of a baby boy waiting for me in my email. We both took one look at him and said "He's ours." The very next day we drove out to our adoption agency and signed the papers to accept his referral. We still had to wait through five months of paperwork and bureaucracy of two governments. In October we flew down to Guatemala and spent a few days with our new son. Then in December we got the phone call we had been waiting for. All the paperwork had cleared, the adoption papers were signed and five month old Daniel was now our son. We got on a plane as quickly as it could be arranged and went to get our son and bring him home.
Flash forward now nine years. That beautiful baby boy is now a handsome young man. He is busily playing with legos as I type this, his favorite toy. He loves math and does not really like reading. If he is not playing with legos, he is on his DS or working on a rocket with his daddy. He loves to build and launch rockets.

Nine years ago his favorite foods were bananas and formula. Today his favorite foods are chicken nuggets and mozzarella sticks. He was wearing a size 12 months. Now he wears a size extra large in children's sizes or a small adult. Nine years ago today his future was pretty unsure. No one really knew what would happen to him. Today he is happy and healthy and wants to be an astronaut when he grow up. He is a great kid at times and he shows us his Latino temper at other times. He has a stubborn streak a mile wide.

Today is a good day to reflect back on the last nine years. A time to say thank you to the wonderful woman who decided that the best thing she could do for her son was to place him for adoption. A time to say Happy Birthday to my baby boy. You're not such a baby any more.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Aviation Hall of Fame

The other day we went on a field trip to the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame. It was a great place to learn some of the history of aviation in New Jersey. I had no idea that our state played such an important role in the history of aviation. One of the things I learned is that the only two astronauts to be related to one another come from New Jersey. They are identical twins, Scott and Mark Kelly. Many of you have heard of Mark because of the horrible shooting incident involving his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Mark just recently returned to earth after commanding the space shuttle Endeavor on it's final voyage into space where he was able to visit with his twin brother Scott who is the commander of the International Space Station. They grew up in West Orange, New Jersey.

After watching a short video about aviation history in New Jersey, we took a short tour of the museum.
Of course we had to get a picture of Buzz Aldrin who is one of my son's favorite astronauts. He is from Montclair, New Jersey. They had a whole room filled with plaques like this one honoring astronauts and aviators from New Jersey.
There was a nice display about Women in Aviation.

And a real airplane to go in.

After the tour, the kids broke up in to teams where they designed and built a glider. Then they went outside to see which team's glider would travel the furthest.
Dakota's team came in second place.

This was a great tour full of history and science. How can learning be any more fun than this?

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Busy Week of Homeschooling

We have been pretty busy the last few days. Starting with last Wednesday, we went to a Lenape Indian Village. It was a long hike up the hill to where the model village is located. First we sat while the tour guide showed us various tools that the Lenape would have used to garden.
The kids were especially interested in the Guardian of the Garden. If the guardian was a young girl, she would sit up in her shelter with a basket of rocks. If any animals came along trying to have a snack, she would throw rocks at the animal or bird to chase it away. If the guardian was a young boy, he would have his little bow and arrow and practice his hunting skills while he was protecting the garden. If he got lucky, he might bring home dinner as well as protecting his garden.

We went further up into the village where we learned how the Lenape built traps for fish. We saw the houses where they lived. We saw a sweat log where they would take the sick. And we saw how the women worked around the village.
The kids all played games that the Lenape children would have played. One of the games was similar to soccer. They called it football. The somewhat round ball was made of leather and stuffed with wool. They stood in a tight circle and kicked the ball around the circle. If someone missed the ball, everyone had to take a step backwards. They had a story about how the sasafras tree got it's name. Then everyone was given a piece of clay to create something with. Dakota made an arrowhead shaped piece that he wanted to turn into a necklace.

On Saturday we went to Cooper's Grist Mill to learn about sheep shearing.
She was practically laying on top of the sheep during part of the shearing. But he just lay there and let her work. He seemed so comfortable with the whole process. Of course the most exciting part for the kids was when he decided to poop. They were fascinated with that.
With the haircut all done, we walked around to see the other exhibits. One of the first places we went was to see the woman who was dying wool.She was using all natural materials to dye the wool. She used marigolds for yellow and onion skins for orange. She also had some beautiful purple that came from a tree in South America. Then we went to see how they washed the wool. The water was pretty cold. Put the kids still had fun playing in it. After that we watched them card the wool. The kids got to try their hand at carding.We watched the spinners as they spun the raw wool into yarn. And then the kids got to try their hand at weaving the yarn into cloth.It was a great day as we saw the wool come off the sheep and then follow the process through to see it become a beautiful cloth.

Today we visited the Israel Crane House. We learned a lot about what life was like in the late 1700's.They are having a beautiful quilt display right now. We loved all the wonderful handiwork.The best part of the whole day for the kids was the tour of the summer kitchen. She made biscuits and eggs with sausage. The kids were so excited about the sausage that they ate every bit of it before the eggs were even ready. She also had biscuits made from acorns.Everyone had to try their hand at making butter.And here it is all ready to eat. Sometimes they added salt to the butter but my son thought it was great without the salt. He informed me that this was the best butter he had ever eaten in his whole life. Now he thinks we should make our own butter at home.This was the old post office that Israel Crane had built in the General Store. Until he built this General Store, the closest store was seven miles away. That doesn't sound like much today. But if you were walking, that's a long way to go to buy something. With this new store, people could shop right in their own neighborhood.While at the General Store, everyone got to make a sachet. Dakota put his in his pj drawer.They also got to write a letter with a quill pen. Then they sealed it with wax and a special seal.I think it's fair to say that everyone had a great time today. As we were leaving I saw several families stop back by the summer kitchen for another tasty treat.

Tomorrow we are going to a class about building model rockets. Actually my husband is teaching this class. He's taught it before so this will be old hat to us. But it is another busy activity for the week.