Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (a child's rocker)

This is a project I did a little while ago, but just realized I'd never blogged about... so, since nothing new is in the works I thought I'd blog about the chunky little rocker I picked up at a thrift store for $4.99.

I'm not sure why I was drawn to it, it's not like I needed a child sized rocker for anything... but I really liked the solidness of it's construction. It's proportions are off, if you think about it... for it's size it's construction shouldn't be so "heavy"... but I liked it... I liked it's square, no-nonsense, last forever lines... and the price was right... so I bought it.


It was DIRTY... as in the wood had never been stained or sealed and had just gotten grimier over the years. The rush was usable, but had red Kool-Aid stains and purple marker lines and also needed work.

The first thing I did was to sand the dirt off. It wasn't a hard job, I used my little mouse sander and before long the dirt was gone... replaced with clean, but raw, wood.

At that point I decided to stain it. I like to paint furniture, but only if the wood isn't good enough to salvage... and this wood looked good. So I stained it (the rush is taped off to keep the stain off it, at that point I wasn't sure if I was going to redo the seat, so I didn't want to accidentally get stain on it.


It looked good stained... much better than it had looked coated with grime... but it was kind of boring. Kind of too-much-tan-matches-the-log-walls boring.

So... back out to my
backporchworkshop it went...  I decided to paint it my favorite barn red paint (it is literally the same paint that's on my barn... should be durable!), then I distressed it a little bit and gave it a coat of dark wax. And as long as I was at it, I replaced the seat at the same time. The old rush seat was kind of nasty (you should have seen the cheerios and other stuff that came out of the seat when I took it apart!) and needed replacing, and I had enough rush leftover from the last seat I'd done to do this little rocker.

Ah... much better. For some reason this house calls out for red, nice happy barn red... I think it must be that the log walls, so much wood, need something bright to catch the eye.

So...that's my little $4.99 rocker... it was a fun project and went pretty quickly (and with the new rush seat and heavy construction it doubles nicely as a step stool... I use it all the time to reach up high to clean! ;) )

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You are the book I did not write...

This post has been rattling around in my head for months... but I'm not sure if I can write it out in a way that makes sense...

I'll try.

Yesterday, I was thinking how incredibly blessed I am to be part of my children's lives. To share their ups and downs... to learn from them about places, people and events I wouldn't know about otherwise... and to just be a part of their world.

And I thought of this poem that E (dd#1) sent me when K (dd#3) left for the Peace Corps last February. E sent me the first verse or two, and in researching who the author was I found the last verse. The author is Anne Campbell and I especially love the first two verses... (The last verse doesn't touch me in the way the first ones do.)

Here it is...

I have learned so much from my children, experienced so many things I wouldn't have otherwise... from traveling vicariously along with the older three on their wanderings here and there, to understanding the brain in a totally different way thanks to M's schizophrenia, and being part of, even though it's second hand through R (dd#4), the experience of  growing up Black in a primarily White society.

So while I've never had the money to travel much (and M's schizophrenia keeps us close to home anyway) and my jewelry box is filled with costume and homemade jewelry, and baby teeth collected by the tooth fairly (am I the only one who can't bear to throw them away?)... my life is immeasureably rich, even though (I'm sad to say) I sometimes get so caught up in the day to day minutiae of life that I don't fully see it.

Yesterday however, was a day I saw it clearly... and I couldn't help but record it, and the poem, here.

But enough rambling... we have a busy day today... a doctor's appointment for R, maybe helping E with some running around she needs to do, and the RCC book club and a zumba class downtown (these last two are scheduled for exactly the same time, different locations... so unless R is willing to give up zumba, the kids are going to have to split up!) Oh, and I'm going to try to take a nice picture of the house... our trees are gorgeous right now and I'm hoping to get a really good picture before all those brilliant leaves fall to the ground. ;)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

foggy mornings

Foggy days lately... It's unusual for it to be foggy in Colorado, sunny days are more the norm here... so we are enjoying the novelty of the fog. I especially like the cocooned in kind of feeling it gives, almost as though we are wrapped in a layer of cotton. The kids love the way the lights look, after dark, shimmering spookily through the fog.

It doesn't take much to entertain us, I guess.


"Mr Barn", always smiling, despite the weather... and Tucker watching me suspiciously while I walk around taking pictures.


The road out front... almost hidden in the fog.

It looks like the fog is already starting to lighten... maybe we'll get our sun back today. :)


Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

Old family pictures...

I love looking through them.

Here are my parents, very early in their marriage (1948 or so).

Here's another one... Joe as a baby. I love his grin...

I need to figure out my scanner and scan some more pictures in to post...

they are just too much fun. :)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Miss me yesterday?

I've been trying to keep to a good blog schedule lately, and I really enjoy posting regularly... but despite my good intentions, no blogging happened yesterday.

That's because the kids and I were busy wrapping up the fundraising drive we've been doing for our Special Olympic team. The fundraiser started about a month ago, after I'd done the research and choose a company that promised pretty good profits. I passed out the order forms to the kids, explained to them and their families what the fundraiser was for, and begged asked them to help.

I underestimated the kids in our Special Olympics team... I expected a smallish order with a modest profit. But they went out and SOLD cookie dough! (A funny story... the order form I gave to each of the kids to collect orders on had space for 18 orders. One of the boys on the team thought he had to completely fill up every single line... So he sold cookie dough until finally his mother made him stop (with 16 orders!). He got a prize for being the teams top seller. ;) )

Our order was delivered early yesterday morning and it was a lot bigger than I was expecting. I spent virtually the whole day sorting, packaging, checking and rechecking the kid's orders. This morning we packed the car full of cookie dough and took it with us to bowling practice so the kids could pick it up and make their deliveries.

It was a LOT of work, but so worth it... we ended up making about twice as much profit as I'd anticipated. Yay!

With the fundraiser done, I'm spending the rest of the day relaxing, taking it easy, and trying not to eat my cookie dough order right out of the freezer... :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thrifting Thursday (shed interior)

I haven't posted anything about our shed project for weeks mostly because there hasn't been much going on. Joe has been using bits and pieces of scrap lumber and plywood we've had laying around to build shelves within the shed...a slooooow process.

He's almost done with the shelving now though, and so it was time to clean up and finish off the floor. Meaning paint. Meaning me.

The floor is made of sheets of exterior grade waferboard, it was just raw wood, and had never been painted or sealed that we could tell. Because the shed's main function is that of a garage for the snowplow (which means lots of snow and wetness on the floor), I felt like we really needed to seal the floor well. So I started by painting a fairly thick layer of primer on the whole floor, then came back a week or so later and gave it two thick coats of porch and floor paint.

It was a pretty quick, easy job and now the floor is done, except for a piece of metal trim across the edge of the floor boards where they meet the door. Because the snow plow has chains, we need to protect the edge of the floorboards of they'll quickly get torn up. (Or, more accurately, they get more torn up than they already are... the floor was in rough shape when we bought the shed, torn down in pieces, last summer.)

Joe put some open shelving high on the south end to hold extra wood (2x4's etc) up and out of the way...

We keep all of that kind of scrap wood as it always ends up being used somewhere. ;)

The shelves on the sides are mostly all made from scrap wood we had laying around. He spaced them the way he did (not evenly spaced) to hold specific things...

What those things are I have no idea, although I do know he placed the bottom shelf on the left side at just the right height for a plastic 5 gallon bucket to slide underneath. (We keep those too, both for storage and to use at the barn...)

Here's the interior now...

And our little snowplow, sitting patiently out in the sun, and wind, and rain, and snow... waiting to finally get put away again.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a quiet week...

After feeling like we've been bustling around most of October (and September too!), we are having a quiet week this week. Only one appointment (tomorrow evening) and M's regular worksite tomorrow afternoon are on the calendar.

It feels wonderful to look at the calendar and see several empty days in a row...

So the kids and I took some time Monday to do some major stock up grocery shopping. I always grocery shop a month at a time, trying to only go to the store in between trips for milk, bread and produce. And I like to keep the pantry in the mudroom stocked with the basics... Over this past summer I let the pantry empty out a bit, but with winter almost here it seemed like time to restock. I learned the second winter we lived here... the winter of blizzard after blizzard from December through February... that it's best to head into winter with a barn full of hay, a good stack of firewood outside the door, and a well stocked pantry. We get snowed in at least a few times every winter... usually just for a day or two... but it's miserable being snowed when the pantry is bare, or close.

Here's our mudroom pantry...


And with the doors open...Yes, it looks like a crazy amount of food but much of it will last through the winter. (Fitting it all in is kind of like a real life tetris game!) I generally stock up BIG like this only a couple of times a year.

Anyway, back to our quiet week... I painted the shed floor yesterday and with that little job done the inside is almost finished. It feels very good to have all the shed construction behind us!

We've been getting plenty of school done, which is also nice... Although I'm not at all happy about the direction M's coursera class has taken. It's a class on Comic Books and Graphic Novels, and so far the lectures have been pretty good. There has been a lot about the history of comic books and about various writers and illustrators, which M loves... he eats up trivia and there has been plenty of trivia. But yesterday's lecture involved the professor dropping several F-bombs and showing and reading pages from a sexually explicit comic book. As soon as I saw what was going on I had M stop the lecture... I guess I should have previewed each lecture, but I thought it would be ok...  Hmm... what to do? I hate for him to drop the class, but I think we have no choice.

I'll close this not-much-of-anything post with a picture R took with her new camera the other day.

It's me... doing what I most enjoy doing when I have a bit of free time. (Note to Loren: I just bought another Allan Alexander book, this one is his Celtic Music one, do you have it? I'm loving it because it has so many O'Carolan tunes in it!)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

a special night... and a homecoming queen

Friday night was M and R's homecoming dance. It wasn't through our homeschool group, it was sponsored by the RCC club they belong to, with lots of help from the United Methodist Church in town. The RCC dances aren't huge (there were just over a hundred at the homecoming dance) but they are so much fun! They always have a great DJ, and Doug, R's ukulele teacher does the lights. There is plenty of food but the kids are often too busy dancing to eat much.

I let R buy a new dress for each "big" dance and this year she picked a blue (teal) dress in honor of her friend who recently passed away.

M with the corsage he bought for his date... (He got a new tie, like the plaid?)


And the two of them together... (they met their dates at the dance)

R dancing with her date. They've been a "couple" (in a loose sort of way) for a couple of years now, and love going to the movies and dances together. They've known each other (through our homeschool group) for probably 10 years, since they were just little kids...

These two LOVE to dance...


R and her ukulele teacher, dancing "gangum style".

About midway through the dance they announced the nominees for homecoming King and Queen... and R was nominated!

I love this picture... it's the moment she realized she had won.


She was an absolutely beautiful homecoming queen....



Unfortunately, M was a bit lost at the dance. His long time girlfriend moved to Utah a couple of years ago and he did ask another girl to the dance, but still just seemed lost without the girl who is so special to him.

They stayed and danced 'til the end and then, once we got home, had to tell Joe each and every detail before they could sleep. It was a LATE night for us... but what good memories they'll have.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

Old barns.... paint peeling, added onto, filled with mice and history barns.

Like this one we saw at 17 Mile House on Saturday...

We were there for their fall festival...

We had a million things planned for the day so we couldn't stay long...

But we'll be back...  :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

the Cody Channel (all Cody, all the time)

Mid-afternoon siesta.

A sunny window on a cold afternoon...

A nice soft window seat...


Thursday, October 17, 2013

swallow study

M had his swallow study yesterday and it was, I'm sad to say, a disappointing waste of time. His PCP ordered the study (where he eats food coated with barium, and they x-ray his throat as he swallows, looking for problems) because he's been choking more often lately.  He's had a tendancy to choke on food, to feel like his throat is closing, for a long time... years... but it seems to be getting worse lately.  (Lately, he's even choked on rice, and bananas!) So I took him to the doctor (pediatrician) to get her take on things... I'd been thinking it might be his tardive dyskinesia getting worse (moving down from mouth to throat muscles) and she thought it might be the gastroparesis... moving up to effect his throat.  So this study was a first step in trying to figure out which of these ideas (maybe neither!) might be what's going on.

We got to the hospital way early... in part because traffic was light and in part because they sent me paperwork saying his appointment was at 1:30 and had it in their computer as a 2:00 appointment. So we hung around Children's Hospital for awhile... just killing time. When it was finally time for the pre-study interview they said they thought we were probably scheduled for the wrong kind of swallow study. That the study the doc ordered is too limited, it probably woudn't give us the information we were looking for but, after a call to the PCP's office, said they would do it anyway.

The study itself went well... M ate the things they asked him to eat and they had a clear view of him swallowing. They did see that his throat tends to hold onto a bit of "residue" when he eats... not enough to choke on... just enough for him to feel like he needs to clear his throat. (This tendancy was also found during the first swallow study back in 2008 and seems not to have changed... it's very unlikely that it's connected to M's choking and feeling like his throat is closing up.)

Unfortunately, as they had anticipated, the study wasn't comprephensive enough to really answer the "why" of M's troubles with choking. After the study, we talked to the  OT's who did the test, and got their recommendations. They were overly simplistic... have M swallow hard and take a drink of water.  Helpful if the problem was the funny feeling in his throat from a little food residue sitting in there... but no help at all when faced with an adult sized person seriously choking on food.

So basically the three hours we spent at TCH was wasted time... They are recommending another type of swallowing study and possibly some other testing as well.  Luckily ;) M's pediatrician is out of town for the entire month of October... so we won't have to start scheduling the extra testing for a couple of weeks.

Today starts a marathon of busy-ness... a neighbor get-together today, followed by M's blood draw (dropped off at the hospital), his shift at his worksite and a trip to the doc's for flu shots. Tomorrow we'll be getting ready for the homecoming dance in the evening...(R has her dress, but M has nothing but a tie! He's lost enough weight that I will probably have to buy him all new clothes for the dance). Saturday is bowling in the morning, then driving north to pick up S, R's big family birthday lunch, and St Joe's Coffee House in the evening. Sunday is the "Celebration of Life" for R's friend who passed away earlier this week. Monday we collapse... (I'm looking forward to Monday! :) )

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

game table update...

Thanks everyone for your thoughts about whether I should paint my thrifted game table or not, and suggestions for getting rid of the large iron shaped heat mark marring the top.

I did buy some Old English Scratch Cover (thanks Cheryl!!) and it helped, the tabletop looked better in general, and the scratches were less noticeable... but the white spot was still there.

The day after I posted about the table, a small package from Amazon showed up on my doorstep. My daughter E had seem my post, found the wipes she used to use for white spots and ordered me a package.

Wow, what a difference. The wipes seemed to fade the white spot... It's still there, and in certain light you can definitely see a difference in the wood in that spot, but it's obvious only if you're looking for it.

Here is a before and after:

Before... a glaring white iron shaped mark!

And after... it's hard to see the spot that was so white before, it's almost faded away... (I can see I need to work more on the other round heat mark... with the big mark almost gone, it's suddenly really noticeable.)

And here's the furniture wipe E got for me (Thank you so much E, I'd been looking for these, what a very nice surprise!!)

So... at least for now... the table will remain "natural". I'd rather not paint it, it's such good wood, and E says the more I use the furniture wipe the more that spot will fade away...

I love it when something I thought would be a big job turns out to be quick and easy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013




Outside my window... it's still dark, and I can see a few lights twinkling along the horizon.

I am thinking... of a friend of R's, a very special young woman from our homeschool group who just passed away. Despite living with constant pain and a body that greatly limited what she was able to do, she truly lived her life.  I'm happy that she's free from her pain ravaged body, but so sad too... she will be greatly missed.

I am thankful...that R had a good birthday yesterday, and for the neighbors who stopped by during the day, bringing gifts... such a nice surprise for R.

In the kitchen...we are drowning in sweets! A neighbor brought over some yummy banana muffins for us, R requested a birthday dinner of chocolate chip pancakes, and instead of birthday cake she wanted lemon meringue pie....yikes! Quick, get the salt and vinegar chips, it's way too sweet around here!

I am creating... I'm working on E's old dining room chairs, so I guess I'm creating (or re-creating) something functional.

I am going... maybe nowhere today... what a shock. ;) I thought M's swallowing study was today (so I kept today open) but when I double checked the date I see that it's tomorrow.Yay!!

I am reading... Deadline by Sandra Brown... I found it at the library the other day and it looked good.

I am hoping... M is more settled today.

I am learning... some new tunes in a mandolin book my brother got me.

Around the house...I should give the bathrooms a good cleaning, and need to get the laundry caught up... today might be a good day for both those things.

One of my favorite things... sweater weather, like today.

A few plans for the rest of the week... M has a swallowing study tomorrow, Thursday is his worksite and a get-together with the neighbors, and Friday is the kid's RCC homecoming dance.

Rather than share a photo I thought I'd close this with a favorite quote...


Visit Peggy's blog for more about The Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Monday

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy today?

That's easy...

I'm happy that it's my baby girl's birthday... R is turning 17 today! :)

(This was taken last summer at the Miss Colorado Pageant. R was able to participate as an escort through her Special Olympics team.)

R is an amazing person, and is such a blessing to our family. I don't know what I'd do without her! No matter how grown up she gets she's still our little miracle baby though... 

We're not doing much for this birthday... Last year she had a BIG party,  so this year will be pretty quiet. A special "at home" favorite dinner tonight (pancakes, bacon, sausage...Mmmm!) and a big family dinner on Saturday.

Happy Birthday sweetie.... I hope your day is wonderful!

Friday, October 11, 2013

morning barn chores...

Each of my days starts exactly the same way... in the barn doing the morning barn chores.  It makes me happy to start each day with my "boys" Murphy and Tucker, we have nice little talks in the morning and I never get tired of the rich warm barn sights, sounds, and smells.

Here is a peak into my morning...

Murphy waiting at the gate... as soon as he sees me he starts pawing the ground to make sure there is NO doubt in my mind that he is hungry... No matter how early I go out to feed, in his mind I'm always "late". :)

With his ground pawing message delivered, he heads towards the barn... sure that I will follow and feed him. Tucker usually hangs around a little longer being sociable... but then he too heads towards the barn.

More ground pawing, this time in his stall... This morning, when I didn't feed Murphy right away, and took some pictures instead, he started  moving his hay bucket from side to side with his head, banging the big empty bucket on the stall walls. He communicates quite well despite his lack of words...

The ground pawing, hay bucket rattling and banging both stop the instant the first flake of hay lands in Murphy's feeder... He's happy now, I've done my job (and I'm free to go, thankyouverymuch!).

Tucker's hay gets tossed into the feeder in his stall next, but he waits... I'm acting differently this morning... I'm taking pictures. Tucker doesn't like "different". He waits outside, looking away from me and the different thing I'm doing but with his ears pointed towards me... he's not looking at me but he's acutely aware of what I'm doing. Just a moment after I took this picture he looked back over his shoulder at me... unable to look away any longer, too curious about what I might be doing with the strange little flashing box I brought to the barn.

A look back at the barn. I love the way the warm light makes the barn glow in the dim early morning...

Next I fill the water troughs... Tucker also stays well clear of that process, he hates water and would rather go hungry than chance getting wet. Murphy, on the other hand, lets nothing keep him from his breakfast....

By the time I'm closing up the barn, Murphy has already scattered his hay looking for and gobbling down the "best" parts... Tucker's hay is still untouched, and if he doesn't hurry Murphy will (after eating all of the "best" parts of his own hay) head next door to Tucker's stall and eat the best parts of his.

Morning work done, I head back to the house... As soon as I start walking back, Tucker heads into his stall to finally eat his breakfast. Such a creature of habit, he always takes that first bite of hay then turns around and stands in the stall door, looking out while he chews. (Surveying "his" pasture... he's all about keeping track of everything that happens there.) I knew if I waited by the fence he would look out...

It didn't take long.

I love early mornings... it's so beautiful outside and is such a blessing to have the grounding of taking care of the animals each day, keeping me in tune to their wants and needs, their gentle strength, the quirkiness of their personalities, the way they live entirely in the moment. They waste no energy in worrying about what's going to happen tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now. They both just trust that hay will land in their feeder, water will be refilled, and they will be taken care of.

It kind of puts things into perspective... you know?