Monday, March 31, 2014

~Happy Monday~

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?

Knowing that K is safely back in Ghana. It look about 18 hours of flying but she's landed and is on her way back to her village (or might already be back in her village!).
Hurray for safe, uneventful, (although looong) travels!

Friday, March 28, 2014

*~* daybook *~*

simple-woman-daybook-small    
FOR TODAY
Outside my window... the sun has just come up, the sky is the palest blue... almost white... and the tiny shoots of green grass coming up everywhere are covered with frost.
I am thinking... how quickly K's visit has gone. She leaves tomorrow to go back to Ghana. :(
I am thankful... to have had this time with her, and for her safe travel.
In the kitchen... it's been either feast or famine. Feast = making enough food for an army for the open house we had for K. Famine = eating nothing but leftovers for days afterward because they needed to be eaten, and after all the cooking I did for the party, I really didn't feel like cooking anyway!
I am creating... I'm working on a "secret" project... trying to repair an old family piece of furniture that has been in pieces for years.
I am going... to town later to visit an elderly neighbor who has taken a bad fall. I think I'll bring him some spring flowers...
I am reading... The Lewis and Clark Journals... again... still. I don't know why I am so intrigued by them, but I just keep coming back to them again and again.
I am hoping... M and R settle down again soon. K's visit has been wonderful, but also hard on them, too much emotion, too much lack of structure and routine, too much out to eat, too much everything... they are both pretty fried.
I am looking forward to... more time (and a little warmer temps) to work in the garden... I'm ready to get some seeds into the ground!
Around the house... I'm done with my big indoor projects for the year. If it didn't get done by now it's going to have to wait until next winter. The guy is coming in about 10 days to drill the postholes for the new fence around the pumpkin patch. The kids and I have a lot of work to do before he comes, and then we have a fence to build!
A few plans for the rest of the week... a few last things to buy today before K heads back to Africa tomorrow, one last family dinner tomorrow before she leaves, and then a bit of resting up and getting back to normal time.
A favorite quote for today...
My little dog—a heartbeat at my feet.
-- Edith Wharton
A peek into my day....
Cody, a dog that knows how to snuggle in, after sneaking into the room where K is sleeping and curling up in her covers.
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thrifting Thursday (jar lamp)

Like my new lamp?

    

 Ok, it's not really a lamp... yet. It's a jar that's been hanging around the thrift store we volunteer at for weeks, maybe months. It's a little dusty and dirty but it will easily clean up, and it's wonderful, thick glass and I do love it's shape. The top is wood and seals with a rubber gasket...(There is a logo printed on the wood which will probably  be hidden under the light socket... or I could sand it off or paint over it.)

   

 I need to replace a lamp in the family room and I've been admiring jar lamps for awhile. I thought it would be fun to have a lamp I could fill with various things (pine cones? Christmas lights? sea shells?), but I wasn't willing to pay what seems like a lot of money for the ones I've seen in stores. I saw this one in Hobby Lobby the other day, but it's "on sale" for $49.99... that seemed a little steep to me. And I don't care for the shape, or the shade... and I really don't like the way the cord runs outside the jar down from the light bulb.  The cord running outside the jar looks unfinished to me somehow...   Clear Fillable Glass Jar Lamp with Burlap Shade   I like the shape of my thrift store jar better anyway, and think turning it into a lamp will be a fun little project. The first step will be drilling a hole in the glass for the cord to go through... I'll probably take it to the glass place in town, they've drilled holes in jars for me before... Hopefully (if the jar doesn't break when they drill it!) and I'll be back in a few days with an "after" picture of a finished lamp. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Kayaking

M and R just finished up an indoor kayaking class. It was offered through a therapeutic recreation program at a rec center about 45 minutes away. It was a bit of a trek to get them there each week, but they did have fun and learned so much. Watching them in the water, enjoying the kayaks so much, made me wish we had a nice pond or lagoon nearby that they could kayak on. They have seen video of their Uncle Steve in Ireland kayaking and at each class R talks about wishing he could see her... So here are a few kayaking pictures for Steve... ` M liked to just paddle around, he wasn't wild about getting wet.... `   R on the other hand, loved practicing rolls... ` ` ` And spent a fair amount of time working on building up strength to flip herself back upright... ` It was an awesome class, and well worth all the driving back and forth we did!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Paint it black." ~ Mick

Paint It Black, The Rolling Stones, 1966. 

 I hadn't heard or thought about that song in years, until R recently started learning it on her ukulele...  and playing it over and over and over and over (and over and over) again... 

 Without delving into whatever dark thoughts Mick might have had more than 40 years ago when he wrote it, I've decided it should probably be my theme song. 

 Not because I'm a depressed person wanting the entire world to reflect my emotional bleakness... ...but because I like to paint things black. :) 

 As I look around the house I see that this "paint it black" hobby goes back a ways and ranges from painting large things black... ... like this wall I painted with chalkboard paint back in 2009 (and still love!)...

   

` `

 ... to this little desktop organizer that I found just a year ago or so.

`

 This table came from the Salvation Army, and started off seen-better-days, beat-up maple..

. ` .

..I like it much better black. And this little tilt tray table (a Goodwill find) had been painted a dirty white with little painted flowers scattered here and there..

 

 ... again, much better black. And I can't forget my favorite $7.99 rocker... It started off with a bleached out birch, very light finish (with multiple red-juice stains)...

  ` 

It also got the paint-it-black treatment.

 I don't paint all our furniture black of course... painting furniture is usually my last, not first choice. Antiques, family pieces, and high quality furniture don't get painted. And sometimes I even remove black paint... like back in 2007 when I refinished my little roll top desk... (oh my, that was a job!)



 `

 But many of my inexpensive thrift store finds, if the wood isn't good, have ended up painted. 

 Recently I'd been looking at the big bookcase in the living room... It was the last bit of furniture with that dated reddish/mahogany stain left in the house. We used to have a lot of mission style furniture in the living room, most of it with that color of stain. But over the years it's been replaced with other things and this bookcase just seemed kind of stuck in the past. The bookcase isn't great quality... I bought it right after we moved here because I needed someplace quickly to put the books that had been on the built in bookshelves at our old house. No built in shelves here equaled boxes of books sitting everywhere. So a quick trip to Sam's got me this:

  
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`

 It does the job but it's not "good" furniture (not solid wood for sure...) and I was tired of the red stain. So out came the black paint... I just knew it would look better black. 

 It was only a two day job to empty it, drag it outside to give it a light sanding, and then paint it. (And putting the books back was a good time to clean out a few to donate!) After the sunroom re-do I LOVE jobs that only take two days (and nothing weird happens like nasty colors bleeding through the paint, or finding that things...that shouldn't be... are stuck together with liquid nails!!) 

 I primed it, then gave it a couple of coats of paint and a light distressing on the edges.

    `

 I really like how the black paint seems to age it and make it look more current at the same time, and the distressed edges highlight the details of the bookcase... `

 It's kind of like getting a new piece of furniture without spending anything but a little time. Better, yes? ` 



  `

Monday, March 24, 2014

~Happy Monday~

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?
As if you couldn't guess...
Having my African child home again for a visit!
K having thumb wars with our grandsons~
`
The past week has been a whirlwind of going, and doing, and sharing, and catching up...

All of us out for lunch at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant~
`
K's "two-yard" (combination dress, blanket, towel, baby sling, etc) hanging in the bathroom~


Sharing an African snack of little flatbreads K made dipped in groundnut paste (peanut butter) and honey K brought home from Ghana, along with a little Colorado honey and cinnamon sugar~
The beaded bracelets she brought home for us ~

She looks good... happy... and that makes me happy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I couldn't believe my eyes....

I'd never really known what that phrase meant until last night when K, our daughter who is serving in the Peace Corps in Ghana, "dropped in" on our family St Patrick's Day dinner. Our oldest daughter, E, was in on the surprise having arranged her travel and picked her up at the airport and brought her to the house. 

I honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing when I first saw her... It was an amazing, emotional, evening 

 Here is R and baby E (our youngest granddaughter) and K... still teary faced from the reunion. 

` 

 K and baby E during dinner (corned beef, potatoes colcannon, and soda bread of course...) 

` 

 The two "partners in crime"... they worked very well together planning K's surprise appearance and keeping it a secret from everyone.

` 

 I may not be blogging much for the next couple of weeks (the length of K's stay) but I will try and pop in now and then and share some photos...

Monday, March 17, 2014

~Happy Monday~

Crazy Casa K

What makes me happy?
The first signs of Spring in the garden...
`
...and a lovely green shirt, direct from my brother in Ireland, to wear on St. Patrick's Day!

`
(The shirt says "the far away hills are green" in Gaelic...)
Thank you Steve... and Happy St. Paddy's Day!

If Cody could talk...

I came in from working outside this morning and kicked off my crocs at the back door. I hadn't even left the room before Cody had grabbed one of them and started running wildly around the house with it in his mouth, shaking it furiously and growling at it. I've learned that chasing him to get it back only accomplishes his goal... and I can't catch him anyway... so, since he never damages anything he steals I just let him take it.

I went into the bedroom and as I came back out the door I almost stumbled over this...

... in the doorway.

My imagination ran away with me and I wondered... had Cody finally come around?

If he could talk would he be saying something like this? "Oh human master, I'm so sorry I stole your shoe... I lay myself at your feet asking for mercy... and giving your shoe back as an offering to you for your kindness in rescuing me from the shelter and putting up with all my naughtiness for the past year. I prostrate myself before you most generous of  masters... please forgive me."

Or maybe my dog of very little brain just got tired of waiting for me to come out so he could grab my shoe and run away again and fell asleep...

...completely forgetting he'd been playing keep away with my shoe.

Friday, March 14, 2014

*~*daybook*~*

simple-woman-daybook-small*~    
FOR TODAY
Outside my window... the sun is just coming up, the birds are singing, and the air smells like spring!

I am thinking... about how we managed to run out of milk without me noticing (I'm tired this morning, no deep thoughts here. ;)

I am thankful... for the lovely spring day that stretches out before us.
In the kitchen... at M's request I made daughter E's Spanish Rice recipe with dinner last night. Mmmm...

I am creating... a little music, a little order, and a little beauty as I am able

I am going... to town later to buy milk. ;) We're also working at the thrift store today... we missed our shift yesterday due to a homeschool group field trip, so will make it up today.

I am wondering... what to use to cover the old footstool I'm restoring. It was my grandparent's and has been in pieces for years. I've fixed the wooden base and it's strong and sturdy now but I can't decide on a fabric to use to recover the top.

I am reading... The Lewis and Clark Journals. I've read parts of them before, and recently decided it was a good time to pick them up and journey a little farther with Meriwether and William.

I am hoping... we get to have S for the weekend. I still need to call her foster mom and set it up. I should have called earlier, but the days just got away from me. (And I really dread calling, the foster mom can be tough to deal with, so it's a job I tend to put off!)

Around the house... I've been working on a project that I'll share next week. It's turning out great, the only downside is I now have a Rolling Stones song stuck in my head....

One of my favorite things... a game of Yahtzee with M and R. We played a quick game after dinner last night and it was so much fun. I do so enjoy spending time with them.

Some photos to share...

This photo is one of my favorite older photos, it was taken in March of 2007... the horse is Chance, a Tennessee Walker that used to live next door. He was an awesome and amazing horse, and we loved him. He had a tough life though and I would have bought him and given him a better life if I could have. Unfortunately, his owner was asking a couple thousand more than we could afford. The house next door was foreclosed on 5 years ago and Chance was gone, but I still think about him and hope he is happy and well fed where ever he is right now.
`
R and Chance in March of 2006...
______________________________

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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Resources...

We are incredibly blessed to live in a community that is rich in resources for young adults with disabilities. There are honestly too many educational, interesting, or just plain cool things for M and R to participate in... I've found I have to pick and choose activities and classes so we have a good balance of down time mixed in with busy times. (A good balance keeps us all feeling good!) 

 This past month was a little busier than usual though, M's having a busy basketball season (his team is doing to the State Games this weekend!) and the kids had the opportunity to take an indoor kayaking class at the rec center (and we couldn't pass that up!), and they've been going to the "Access and Functional Needs Citizen's Police Academy" down in town. The name of the class is a mouthful, but basically it's a citizen's police academy designed for young adults with disabilities. They went last year too and it was such a great class they decided to do it again! 

It was a five week class and here's what they learned each week: 

 Week One they toured the Police Department, seeing everything from the dispatch center to the holding cells, got their police academy ID's, lanyards, and T-shirts, and played some ice breaking games to get to know each other better. 

 Week Two they learned about about Disaster Preparedness, 72 hour kits and "shelter in place". They filled out emergency information sheets to keep at home, and, for homework, we had to make an emergency plan for our family. 

 Week Three was Basic First Aid and Fire Prevention and Safety and they really practiced the first aid skills they were learning.. splinting "broken" arms, applying pressure to "wounds" and even using a blanket carry technique to pull their instructor to "safety" (down the hall). An instructor from the Fire Department taught the second half of the class and they learned what to do in case of fire, how to put out certain types of fires, and even practiced putting out a grease fire by smothering it. 

 Week Four was Crime Scene Investigation and they learned a lot about the tools and techniques that are used to investigate crime, then they learned to take fingerprints (their own and someone else's!). 

 Week Five was 911 Dispatch, where they learned more about what dispatchers do, and how and when to make a 911 call. They got to practice with the 911 simulator phone, making 911 calls on the simulator and answering the questions the electronic dispatcher asked them. 

 Week Five was also graduation... The kids worked hard during the police academy and they were rewarded with a really nice graduation ceremony. The mayor was there, as well as several police department supervisors. (Unfortunately the police chief couldn't make it, although he was at graduation when M and R took the class last year.) I was running late that evening and forgot my camera at home.... but M did remember his. :) His camera doesn't take great photos but they are ok, and I'm glad we have a record of the graduation. 

 Here's M receiving his diploma from his instructor, with the Mayor, police department supervisor waiting to shake his hand, and his RCC adviser taking a picture

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 R receiving her diploma...

` 

 After graduation... from the group shot of all the students together.

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R and M with their instructor, she was their instructor for the police academy last year too and she's just awesome... She so good with the kids, and isn't afraid to have fun with them. 

They are both crazy about her...

 

 Both kids are happy and proud of the work they did at the Police Academy, and even though it was a repeat for them I know they learned... having the skills reinforced is always good. I'm so grateful that our police department spends the time and money to do this for our community...