Friday, February 26, 2016

What Are You Going To Do With Your Extra Day?

This month, we get an extra day: February 29th.  Since it is a Leap Year, and all.  :0)

So, I've been thinking, wouldn't it be nice to do something fun with my extra day?  I mean, who wants an extra day of blah, drudgery, same-old same-old?

There are two problems with this idea of making this 'extra' day a 'fun' day:

  1. I can't take the day off from work (well, I probably could if I really pushed the issue, but it wouldn't be fair to dump all the work of 30+ horses on my co-worker alone.  On a Monday. . . I wouldn't want her to do that to me.)
  2. Monday is the day of the week that I clean the master 'suite'--change the sheets, clean the bathroom, restock the t.p. and other hygiene supplies, sweep the floor, etc.
Since I can't get around #1, I'll just put in my 4ish hours of work that day (and really hope it will be a quick and easy day, not the long troublesome work days I've had 3 out of 5 days this week--argh!).  

But, I can get around #2 by doing those things this weekend!  So we'll end up with 8 nights of sleeping on our sheets before they get changed the following Monday, oh well. I really don't think DH will notice.  So I'll have to take a half-hour or so of my Sunday to swish the toilet bowl, wipe the counter, tidy the shower, change the towels, scrub the sink and clean the floor.  No biggie.  Not if it means I can play all afternoon on my extra day!!

Now, to decide how to handle cooking Monday's dinner. . . something crock pot-able, maybe?  And to decide which items on my Fun List I want to designate for which time slots on Monday.  It's so hard to choose. . .

Ride my horse I think is my obvious first choice

Go for a walk in the woods is a possibility, depending on weather and how wet things are, seeing as we just got about 15" of snow in 24 hours and the weekend temperatures are supposed to be in the 40's and 50's.  Sounds like a lot of mud and standing water to me. . . 

Knit I'm nearly done with the socks I've been working on this month, have my next project picked out and am itching to start on it.  It will be a new technique, but a fairly small piece so hopefully will knit up somewhat quickly.

Sew is another thing I've been wanting to do lately.  Several project possibilities there. . . a couple of UFO's I want to finish as well as a few quickie projects that would get some gifts made for later in the year.

Work on the cross stitch that never ends is also very appealing.  Part of why it 'never ends' is because I had to cobble together a big enough piece of waste canvas to use, and my cobbling really didn't go well.  As soon as I get the 'joints' stitched over and am working on one non-shifting non-raveling piece this project will go so much faster.  I really should have thought this one out more before beginning, but, well, live and learn.

Go antiquing at one or more of the nearby antique malls that I have never been to.  About a year ago, I decided that rather than buy newly made for quite a few items on my wish list or gift list, I was going to seek out sturdily made antiques that were still in usable condition.  I'd rather pay a hundred dollars or more for an 'old' wooden dresser of good craftsmanship than go get a brand new one from IKEA or Art Van. . .  Likewise a cedar chest for DD2, a kraut cutter so I can stop trying to thinly slice cabbage with my butcher knife, pieces of my wedding china pattern that have been discontinued almost as long as I've been married. . .

Watch a favorite movie possibly Dances With Wolves, in the evening, with DH (one of the movies we saw when we were dating, and still our all time favorite).

Read, always love to read.  (Did I ever mention that my Dad was an English major in college, and that my mother was a librarian for over 30 years?  That I knew how to read before I was old enough to start kindergarten?)  Reading has always been a choice way to pass time.

Bake something, probably an angel food cake, or something else to use up lots of eggs now that the hens are laying nearly a dozen a day.

Make some candles in canning jars or tea cups to give as gifts later this year.  It's quick, it's easy, and if I put in some scented oils, it makes the house smell good.  

As you can see, I have lots of options of how to spend my extra day this year.  What are you going to do with yours?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.8: More Cadence

Happy snowy Wednesday!  We are in the midst of our big snow storm for this week.  Started with bare ground this morning, began to snow around 8:30 a.m., and now at about 1:30 p.m. we have a good two inches or so of snow on the ground and another half foot or more predicted to fall before tomorrow morning.

I am joining with Ginny this afternoon for the Yarn Along.

I've done quite a bit of knitting since last Wednesday.  I have worked a lot on sock #2 of my Cadence socks.  The leg is done, the heel is turned, and I'm about halfway through the gusset decreases.  All this in spite of taking a short break to make my dish cloth for February (one of my goals this year is to knit a dish cloth/wash cloth each month).

For this month, I chose to make the Chain Link that is a free pattern from Knit Picks. No special reason I picked this pattern; it just happened to be one I'd printed out last fall but hadn't made yet, and I am still without a printer.  So, it was just convenience that won me over, LOL.

It was a quick and easy knit, I'd say it took about three hours total (I worked on it while watching a video with DH, then finished it the next night.)

Once I'd satisfied my dish cloth making desire, it was back to working on the Cadence sock.  And also reading about cadenced riding (in other words, dressage).  I'm currently reading two books I got from the library, and will probably end up hunting down a copy of at least one of them to purchase for my own collection.

The first, underneath my yarn bowl, is The Athletic Development of the Dressage Horse by Charles de Kunffy.  It was published in 1992, right about the time my riding time (and funds) became greatly diminished by motherhood (as in, finding out DS2 was in the oven as it were), and I had not read it when it was new.  Doesn't really matter, as the principles in it are quite old and classical, which is right up my alley (being a classical dressage rider and all), so they are still quite relevant now that my kids are grown and I have my riding time back.

The second, with the photographs, is 101 Dressage Excercises for Horse & Rider by Jec Aristotle Ballou. Not nearly as old as the de Kunffy book, published in 2005, many of the exercises in it are ones I remember riding in 1991 and 1992 back when I was a working student at a place that started every horse with dressage, no matter if that horse were destined to be a western pleasure horse, a jumper, or actually continue a career in the dressage ring.  It's nice to have those descriptions of how to execute each exercise, and the goal/benefit of each exercise, in my hands since it has been so many years (ahem a couple of decades) since my working student days.  The trainer I rode under most recently--and still nearly ten years ago--did not use very many of them. This is the book that I believe I will be purchasing in the near future.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Ten Things I Love About Being an Empty Nester

It has been not quite two weeks since DS1, K2, K3 and Toad moved into their own home.  And, while they still have a few things here, so pop in and out a couple times a week, I've moved on to the empty nest phase of my life.  So far, here is a list of ten things I've found in the last week or so that I am loving:

  1. It's so quiet!!  Being an introvert by nature, I am absolutely loving the fact that I have the house to myself all afternoon, every afternoon, once I get home from work.  The peace, the calm, the solitude. . . 
  2. I can do laundry any day of the week I want!  For years, since my kids got old enough to be responsible for their own laundry, I have had two assigned days each week in which to wash my and DH's laundry.(Because, after much bickering among the kids, I made a laundry chart and each child had one day, I had two days, and there was an OPEN day each week for catching up.) And if I happened to be sick, or out of town on one or both of those laundry days of mine, oh well, had to wait until my next designated day rolled around or hope someone else didn't need the washer on the OPEN day.
  3. The groceries I buy aren't mysteriously disappearing before I can eat them!
  4. I have more time for riding my horse.  Because, when I get home from work, I have about six uninterrupted hours to get tasks done before DH gets home from work and it's time for dinner.  Daily housework does not take that long, so why not ride?
  5. Without so many bodies at home, the house stays cleaner longer.  Which means less time spent in housework (and more time for my interests).
  6. I can leave my knitting bag next to the couch, and my knitting project--and needles--will still be safely in it the next evening when I sit down to knit while DH watches TV.
  7. Likewise, I can leave a sewing or quilting project in-progress out in my work space until I have a chance to work on it some more.  No more safely stashing things from little hands after each session, then spending a portion of the next session hauling things back out or wondering where I put them!
  8. Dinner is always something I like to eat!
  9. The afghan that resides on the back of the couch is never found wadded up on the floor (a multiple time per week occurrence for just about forever. . .)
  10. There is always toilet paper on the roller in the bathroom!
I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the 'rewards' of having all my children grown up and moved out.  After only a couple of weeks, it's hard to see all the ways in which having only DH and I at home is beneficial.  I mean, we won't know the impact on the electric bill (or the trash removal) until next month.  But, we're anticipating some extra money being left once all the bills are paid from now on.  And, since he and I don't generate much trash--since we compost the biodegradable, recycle the recyclable, and burn the burnable--we are probably going to cancel the trash service and just take a bag into the township collection site once a month. That right there is a savings of over $150 a year.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.7: One Done (and some sad news)

Joining with Ginny for the Yarn Along today. The weather is slowly warming up (after being absolutely frigid over the weekend), but it can't decide whether to be snowy or sunny today.  We've had spells of both in the last six hours.

I finished sock #1 of my Cadence socks Monday night.

Last night, I cast on for the second sock. The ribbed cuff is finished, and I'm ready to start the lace charts.

This morning, I read some sad news.  An online knitting friend of mine, the young lady that I had knit this shawl for just a year ago, passed away of cancer yesterday.   I'm not sure of her exact age; I do know that when she got the bad news just over a year ago that her cancer had returned (when I first 'met' her about three years ago she was finishing her first go-round with cancer and chemo) she said that she really really wanted to make it to her 30th birthday.  Although we never met in person, this courageous young lady was an inspiration to me (and many others) in her determination to make the best of what she had, fight for her life, and not let cancer and the treatments she was enduring because of it get her down.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.6: Marching Along

I'm later than normal, today, in joining Ginny's weekly Yarn Along.  It's been a busy day, and I still have Ash Wednesday service to attend at church this evening.  So this yarn along post is going to be brief.

My Cadence socks are marching along.  Sorry, I couldn't resist making a pun.  I do love a pun.

I got the leg finished and the heel done in this past week.  Now I'm on the foot, done with the Chart A repeats (three) and about a quarter done with Chart B.  Then it's Chart C repeated until the foot is the desired length.  Just a few more evenings of knitting, I think, and the first sock will be done.  I've never been one to suffer from second sock syndrome, so I anticipate that next week's yarn along photo will feature a completed sock and part of sock #2.

a not quite there, but getting closer, representation of the actual yarn coloring

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I Forgot How Messy It Is. . .

. . . when I restuff feather pillows.

I love a good feather pillow to sleep on.  I gave up on pillows with synthetic fiber fill years ago.  Probably a good fifteen years ago.  I had lived with your standard non-feather pillow all my life up until that point, but had fond memories of the feather pillow I slept with as a child when staying overnight with my grandparents.  When my bed pillow again got to the lumpy can't-beat-it-into-a-comfortable-shape state of being, I sprang for a feather pillow to replace it.  ("Sprang" because feather pillows are not nearly as affordable as the standard kind of pillow).

I loved it.  I could punch it and fluff it and make it exactly the firmness I wanted; even firmer in one spot than another.   If I wanted more under the back of my head than the front when sleeping on my side, so be it.  I could just reshape my pillow with a few pushes and pulls.  If I wanted a whole lot more fill under my neck than usual, well, I could rearrange my pillow to suit for a night or two, until I desired to go back to my normal pillow structure.

After a number of years, though, feather pillows do get worn down and 'flat', similar to how the synthetic pillows wear to the point of lumpiness.  And then it would be time to purchase a new one.

BUT, unlike synthetic filled pillows, the 'old' feather pillow still has usefulness.  It can be saved to bolster it's replacement once the replacement starts to get worn and lacking in fluff.

For nearly a year now, my pillow has been on the downhill slide into flatness.  I've known that sooner or later I would need to restuff it.  But there just never seemed to be a good time to do that with K3 and Toad just about always being around when I'm home.  Opening the seams on a couple of feather pillows just did not sound like a good idea in the presence of small children.  I mean, can you imagine the temptation to pull out and play with all those feathers?!?  It would be like having ducks exploding everywhere (minus the guts, of course).  Feather confetti!  This Grandma ain't that brave.

So, now that they are moved out, I took my 'spare feathers' old feather pillow from it's storage spot.  I took my and DH's feather pillows from our bedroom--since I was changing sheets yesterday anyway, seemed like a perfect time to restuff our pillows.  I got my seam ripper, a needle and thread from the sewing room.

Then I sat down on the couch in the living room and proceeded to carefully open about 6" of seam on each pillow.  Just enough to be able to get my hand with a fistful of feathers through.

Carefully, I transferred feathers, a handful at a time, from the 'spare' pillow into my pillow and DH's pillow.  I would stick my hand in the spare pillow, grab a handful of fluff, carefully shake to remove loose feathers, then withdraw my hand and immediately stuff it through the opening of the pillow I was trying to make more plump.  Once each pillow was refilled to the firmness I desired, I stitched shut the seams that I had previously opened.

Despite my attempts to keep the feathers contained,  I ended up with a whole lot of feathers on my lap, on the floor, on the couch, in my hair, on the cat, even fine little feather particles six and eight feet across the room.

What a mess!  I swept up (I thought) most of it, but looking around today and spotting fine little fuzzes stuck to the couch still, and little feather particles dusting the floor, I think I'm going to have to bring the shop vac in from the garage.  This job calls for some major suction!

But, from one old pillow (actually, only about 2/3 of the old pillow) I have taken two pillows back to a comfortable amount of stuffing rather than having to go out and buy two brand new pillows (the only option when 'standard' kind of pillow goes flat ).  That probably gives me another three or four years before I have to outlay money for new feather pillows.  I'd say that's worth having to clean up a small mess.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Who Buys The Toilet Paper?

In retrospect, there were a whole lot more details about living together that we should have hashed out before DS1 and family moved in with us.

At the time, we didn't want to be too nit picky, and it seemed pretty straight forward.  We had a few simple rules:

1. Clean up after yourself and your children.

2. Both DS1 and K2 needed to attend school full time (after all, that was the whole reason for them moving in with us; to save on expenses so they could both concentrate on school rather than working full time).

3. We would provide housing so they would not need to pay for heat, electricity, garbage pick-up, or internet access in addition to rent.  Anything else (food, personal care items, clothing, auto expenses, etc) was up to them to provide for their family of four.

All adult parties (being DH, myself, DS1 and K2) agreed to these terms.  So we spent several thousand dollars moving them from South Carolina to Michigan (plane tickets for DH and I to get to SC, the moving truck, fuel for the moving truck, meals on the road during the move, a hotel room --so we didn't have to try to drive 16 hours straight through after spending 12+ hours packing the moving truck).  And, for the first four months DS1 and K2 were here, we did not charge them rent, absorbing the extra cost of the increased utilities, etc so that they might be able to pay off their remaining bills from SC (last electric, internet, broken rent fee, etc).  When we did require rent, it was barely enough to cover our extra costs per month of having their family live with us.

The idea was that we would be two households in one house, sharing the kitchen, the laundry room, the dining and living rooms, and the mudroom.  They would have their own bathroom(s)--they had access to a full bath and also the 1/2 bath off the mudroom--and a large portion of the basement as their 'bedrooms'.  Cooking would be shared as much as possible, with them expected to provide food in the same quantity as they consumed.  Their laundry and personal care products (including diapers for the grandkids) were their responsibility. We--and they--wanted them to be autonomous as much as possible, yet sharing the kitchen to cool six meals rather than three each day seemed crazy, so meals where we all were present were to be cooked by one person at a time on a rotating schedule. Kitchen clean up and dish washing were also to be done on a rotating schedule--a volunteer schedule, no less, where no one was 'forced' to cook or clean on a day that conflicted with their work or school schedule.

Sounded simple.

In hindsight, sixteen months into this whole three generations in one house thing, we should have went into a whole lot more detail and been nit picky right from the start.  Because running out of things, especially food and toilet paper, was a constant issue.

Now, it has been years, possibly even a decade or more, since I ran out of any regularly used item such as laundry soap, shampoo, toilet paper, or food staples. In fact, I had a system where I knew what our monthly consumption was, and did a large stock-up type shopping trip once a month.  With that system, I even had a 'stash' of enough of our regular staples to last a month or two if needed. (And, in the past, had used that stash to avoid spending money on groceries during times of unexpected large bills--such as car repairs).  To have this stash used up and never replaced, to constantly be running out of necessary items, and to have my grocery bill almost double just was not cool. Especially since they qualified for both WIC and food stamps, yet rarely did they go to the grocery store to buy the milk, bread, fruit and veggies that they were allotted freely by those government programs.

The agreed upon chores were rarely done as scheduled either, even though the schedule was based on what and when DS1 and K2 wanted to do certain tasks. And even though DH purchased a new dish washer after they moved in--our old one had died over three years before--getting dishes washed on a nightly basis (in order to start each day with the maximum amount of clean dishes and cookware available) was an ongoing frustration.

I don't want this post to turn into a long winded rant, so I'll skip most of the specific irritations that have come up in the last sixteen months.  Instead, I'll just say that I am looking forward to getting back to 'normal' now that they have moved out.   Should they, or any of our other adult children, need to move back in with us again, DH and I will be sure to lay out the terms in a whole lot more detail.  And in writing.  Probably with signatures of all parties at the bottom.

Something like:

Rent Includes

  • water--but not half-hour long showers!
  • trash removal
  • heat
  • electricity
  • parking for 2 vehicles if married, one if single
  • internet service historically used (fee for upgraded service will be responsibility of person desiring the change)
  • use of kitchen and laundry appliances
Rent DOES NOT Include
  • groceries
  • toilet paper, laundry soap, and other personal items
  • premium tv services
  • maid/housekeeping/laundry service
  • unlimited child care
All Adult Occupants WILL
  • clean up after themselves and their minor children
  • assist in lawn care/snow removal/household cleaning and maintenance
  • share meal cooking and dish washing duties
  • replace any items they or their minor children break

You would think that last item (well, all items) would be common sense.  I sure did.  Based on the past sixteen months, apparently that is not so.  Dishes, glassware, coffee mugs, food storage containers, a refrigerator drawer, spatulas and wooden spoons, a deep fryer (that was $75 brand new less than a year before their arrival), storage bowls, and many other items got destroyed or 'mysteriously' disappeared, not to be replaced.

So, live and learn.  And be more detailed and business contract-like in the future.  And look forward to building my grocery stash back up so that I never run out of anything again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Yarn Along 2016.5: Keeping Cadence

Welcome, friends. This first Wednesday of February is warm and windy here.  It rained pretty much all night (oh, the snow we could have had if only it were 20 degrees colder.  Probably enough to ride the snowmobiles through the field. . .)  This morning was foggy, then sunny, and now that it's afternoon more clouds are moving in and the wind is picking up.  Doesn't seem much like February so far; more like the beginning of March.

Either way, I'm joining Ginny's Yarn Along now that I'm home from work.

I've gotten quite a bit done on my Cadence socks in the past week.  I even knit an extra repeat of the first chart (this pattern has three charts) in order to make the leg portion a little longer--I'm planning to use these as boot socks under my dressage boots--and I'm still within a handful of rows of dividing off for the heel.

I know I say this about nearly everything I knit, but I really like this pattern.  I love the way it looks, and I love how quickly it is knitting up.  Seeing not one, not two, but three separate charts in the pattern (and no written 'translation' for the charted portions) I was a little intimidated at first.  I'm glad now that I decided to forge ahead and just knit on faith.  Because the charts are very very easy to follow and I am going to have a pretty impressive pair of socks when I'm done.

Chart A 4 times, then chart B once, then chart C twice, 
a slight rotation in needles and most of chart B for a second time.
Heel coming in 5 rows or so . . . 

This pattern is definitely a keeper. I wish my camera would pick up the true green color of the yarn; these are not blue socks!

Last week I mentioned that I had just started reading Plain Truth.  It turned out to be a very gripping story (in a good way, not a scary one if you--like me--are not into horror stories).  I finished the book on Saturday, I think.  Anyway, I recommend it if you like mysteries and/or stories about the Amish way of life. Actually, some of the portrayals reminded me of my own Germanic upbringing and the standards I have.  In that way, it was not only entertaining (the reason we read fiction, right?) but also insightful.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Coming to an End

DS1 and his family have been living with us since late September 2014.  Other than talking about the move itself (from southern South Carolina to mid-Michigan), I haven't blogged much about the whole living-with-an-adult-offspring-and-their-family situation we've been in.  It's had it's pros, and it's cons.  I think, for the grandchildren, mostly pros.  But for the four adults involved (me, DH, DS1 and K2) I think maybe the cons have outweighed the pros.  Other than DS1 and K2 now being on their fourth straight semester of school (which I think is a record for K2, who started and stopped college several times in SC), there doesn't seem to have been a whole lot of recognizable positives from living with us.  Or, at least, not many things they admit. There have been a lot of complaints, and, from at least one of them, increasingly sulky teen-like behavior, in the last four or five months. We're not looking for thank-yous.  But to listen to more and more complaints, when the terms were all spelled out pre-moving in with us and agreed to by all parties, gets to be a little much. (Terms like clean up after yourself and your kids; take care of your kids; be in school full-time. . . )

But now that living situation is coming to an end.  For good or bad (good for DH and I, we believe; but timing-wise probably bad for DS1 and K2), they have signed a lease on a place of their own about 5 miles away, and will be moving out this week.

It will be good for DH and I to have our home to ourselves.  It is not easy living with your adult 'children'.  It's hard not to give unsolicited advice, but it's even harder to enforce the rules of the household--rules that we've had for the nearly twenty-five years we've been a household--when the other adults in the home are ignoring them. Or flat-out defiantly refusing to follow them.  I mean, you can't ground a twenty-something or take away their cell phone or computer like you can a child or a teenager when they don't do their agreed upon chores. Or leave lights on for 10 hours when no one is home to need light.  Or disregard an unfinished task they had volunteered to do.  Or clean up after themself and their children. Or, heck, ignore their children while playing games/Facebooking on their phone.  Plus, our monthly expenses will be less (it is unbelievable how much our basic utilities jumped when DS1 and co. moved in).

DH and I, however, are not so sure their moving out right now is a good thing for them, both short term and long term.  Their rent/utilities/etc will be 400% to 500% what they were while living with us (and they rarely paid us on time for the token rent we charged to help offset our additional costs in having them live with us).  Plus they will now have to do all of their own cooking and cleaning.  And go to school full time while both working full time (to afford the rent/utilities on the new place).  Plus, with a twelve month lease newly signed, DS1 will not be able to transfer away to an engineering school in the fall once he's finished all the pre-engineering classes the local community college offers.

As parents and grandparents, we're quite worried that one or both DS1 and K2 will drop out of college after this semester (or, worse, during this semester they just started last month).  We're worried that they will get behind on their rent and get evicted, needing to move back in with us (and putting a bad mark on their credit).  We're worried that the grandkids' needs are going to get lost in the increased responsibilities of their parents (work + school + housekeeping + homework + taking care of children).

So what is a Mama to do?  (Meaning me, of course)

Do not give my opinion unless expressly asked for it.

Not burn bridges.  Let them know that we are here for them (even though we think moving out right now is a disastrous idea).

Pray. A lot.  Near constantly.  Trust that the Lord is watching and guiding them. Pray, pray, pray.

Think positive.  Think of how much less housekeeping I will now have to do.  And how much less cooking.  Think of how much less crowded and cluttered my house will feel once their belongings are out of it.  Think of how I will now have the ability to go in and out of certain rooms without unlocking doors or climbing over a baby gate.  Think about now having the ability to leave projects-in-progress out in my workspace instead of having to stash them safely out of little hands' reach after every single time I do a little more work on said project.

Realize that it is finally here: My empty nest.  The thing I have dreamed of, and looked forward to.  Twenty-six years (plus a few months) of having my children at home is now concluded.  Now is the time to fondly look back on the longest phase of my life thus far, and joyfully step into the next phase.

Despite my doubts about DS1 & K2 being ready to move out, I am looking forward to being an empty nester.  I have never been an adult without children in my home (that's what happens when you are 17 yrs and 11 months old when the first one is born).  DH and I, in all the years we've been together, have never been 'just the two of us' (being as we met when DS1 was 14 months old).

I'm ready .  Bring it.