Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of Sunrises and Sewer Smells

I woke up early this morning and made coffee. While the coffee was brewing I looked out my large kitchen window and could hardly stand the beauty outside.

The tall grass in the field behind our house seemed to be made of gold standing there as it was covered in frost with the suns first rays shinning through its blades.

I took my freshly brewed cup of coffee and went and sat out on my back patio, marveling at the beauty that surrounded me. I am so blessed to live in this place.

As the sun made its way over the horizon, the mist started rising up off the ground and the pool. It was a sight to behold.

There was no sound except the birds chattering. It’s so quiet out here. Even Violet seemed to appreciate the majesty of the moment, and just sat and looked, and listened.

I sat for a while, in awe, marveling at God’s creation.

Then I heard a faint sound. A car or truck, perhaps? It got louder and finally, I could tell it was in my driveway. These guys. Here to fix the septic tank. At 8 am. Killing my ambiance.

Now, a mere 30 minutes later I sit in my living room, drinking my coffee to the sounds of men yelling, machinery running, and the smell of sewer in the air.

I could do nothing but laugh at the juxtaposition of these two situations.

I guess a properly working septic system is worth the loss of solitude…and the smell.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas

We are moving to this house...


The Saturday before Christmas...

Yes, I am insane, why do you ask?

Merry CrAzY Christmas Everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In the last two weeks… (And this is only the highlights folks.)

This is the entire crew we had at our family gathering. Everyone except my Father in Law. He was not feeling well and went home. It was interesting feeding this many people but many hands do indeed make light work, and my sister in law who headed it all up is amazing. It was fun.

And now...the reason my hair is falling out and I am bleary-eyed.

1. We were scheduled to close on our house and the one we are buying.

2. We have packed pretty much the entire house and have a stack of boxes almost to the ceiling waiting to be packed with the rest of the stuff.

3. The loan for the people who are buying our place hit a snag.

4. The loan for the people who are buying our place came to a complete halt.

5. My husband had to get involved with their loan guy to get some documents about an easement behind our house (The same easement that was not at all an issue when we bought the house btw) so they could get their loan.

6. We are still waiting on one document from the notoriously slow power company, so they can resume the loan process, and we can resume the loan process on the house we are buying.

7. All the contracts expire Friday. Cut it close much?

8. My Sister was diagnosed with a rare and scary form of peritoneal cancer. Major surgery was scheduled and a LOOOOONNGG recovery assumed.

9. My aunt was diagnosed with a brain tumor and major surgery was scheduled.

10. My uncle (not the one married to the above aunt) had a heart attack.

11. Thanksgiving happened. Much cooking.

12. My sister’s surgery happened and there was NO cancer. Miraculous. Recovery not so long now.

13. My aunts tumor was benign.

14. My uncle only had a ‘small’ heart attack, they got to the hospital in time and he is now home resting comfortably, albeit with a sack full of new medications and a long list of must do’s and must not do’s.

15. I have taken up drinking.

16. Just kidding on that last one.

17. Kinda.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why I'm twitchy with grey hair.

I received an email last week saying the college campus one of my sons was on, was on lockdown. I promptly texted my son to see if he was okay.

This is why I have grey hair and a permanent twitch.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh happy day.

We got some good news on the house front yesterday. I’ll spare you all the details, (you’re welcome) but basically, after some back and forth, we agreed on a revised contract with the sellers on the house we want. They did not come down as far as we were asking, but they came down far enough to make my husband happy. We should close on both houses around the end of November. We may move right away or we may wait a few weeks depending on how long the repairs take.

I am very excited!

We’re going from this little, tiny house…

…to this not so little, tiny house with LAND!

When I stand outside my current house, I can hear the highway. When I stand outside my new house, I can hear the sound of goats and sheep in the field behind the house.

I like the sound of goats and sheep much, much better.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh the stress of it all!

Buying and selling a house is a wee bit stressful. So stressful that I have had a flair up of shingles. Seriously? I thought I was handling it all fine, but apparently my body thought otherwise.

Our house sale is moving right along. That's nice. A lovely young couple is buying it. I actually knew him growing up, though not well. His parents are quite a bit older than Dave and I, and their kids (this young man and his older siblings) are younger than us, but not so young as to be the same ages as our children. Even though we all grew up in the same church, we've never run in the same circles.

He is military, and she seems like a sweet young lady. They have one toddler and another on the way (I think. No way am I asking though!)

All things related to the sale are progressing. The house we want to buy? Notsomuch. We got the inspection report yesterday. Seems the septic system is a mess. It's leaking, it's against code, and it even has unresolved violations on file with the city! EEEK! The chimney is also falling in internally, and will need extensive work to make it usable.

So we're re negotiation the contract. We're asking them to significantly lower the price of the house to cover the cost of repairing the fireplace and replacing the septic. There are other small issues; minor drainage issues, windows that have a leaking seal, etc. But we're not really worried about that. It's not a new house, we expected some minor repairs. But replacing a septic? That's major.

The price to fix/replace those two things is huge. If they don't agree to lower the price to cover it, we'll have to walk away. This makes me sad, but I don't want to buy a house and then have to drop huge money to fix it. NOt at the price they're asking.

So...our house could sell by the middle of Nov and we may have no place to live. We may end up staying in our RV until we find something. OH SWEET MERCY I hope that does not happen. But if it does, it does. What can you do?

Buying and selling a house is not for pansies, that's for sure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Family Photos!

Last weekend my family and I had our photos taken. It was REALLY time for a family photo.

Misty Colvard Photography did our little photo session. This is a little sneek peek of her work. It was so much fun to have them done. She got some slightly grumpy, I-have-better-things-to-do-than-have-my-photo-taken teenagers to smile and look happy!

This was our last family photo. Holy cow, why do children grow so fast!?

This is one of the photos Misty took. She even got the dog to look alert and interested!

Um, yeah. I think it was time for a new family photo.

I can't wait to see the rest!

If you're anywhere near the Dallas area, give Misty a call! She did a great job! (and I've only seen a sneak peek of our photo session!)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Number 3 and the Letter H

Today’s post is brought to you by the number 3 and the letter H.

The number 3 is for how many contracts we’ve had on our house. The first 2 have fallen through due to the inability for the potential buyer to get financing.

We expect to be receiving the 3rd contract Monday or Tuesday.

The letter H is for the Hope we feel that this is the one. That the 3rd time’s the charm. Please, please let the 3rd time be the charm!

The reason we are Holding out such Hope is the other reason this post is being brought to you by the letter H.


This House.

The House with this living room.

The House with this kitchen.

But mostly the House with this backyard.

With this pool in it.

I want this House.

Holding out High Hopes this 3rd contract will be the one so we can get this House.

This post was brought to you by the number 3 and the letter H.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Shows. What's Worth Your Time?

Last night Sir D and I watch Last Man Standing on ABC.

Frankly, my expectations were very low. I set the DVR to record most of the new shows that came out this fall. I didn’t even know what most of them were about, but I figured we’d watch the first episode and decide. Well, most of the shows didn’t make the cut. In fact, most of the shows didn’t make it past the first 15 minutes! Sheesh there is a lot of trash out there!

In the first few minutes of Last Man Standing, I was not sure if it was going to make the cut. There was an annoying laugh track in the back ground. I hate that. It’s distracting. But here’s the thing, after the first few minutes, either the laugh track went away or I was laughing so hard I didn’t notice it anymore. Seriously, this show was hilarious! And also it was a little refreshing. The man in this show is not stupid. The show is not all about making the man look stupid! I mean, yeah, there are stereotypes, and they exploit them to get a laugh, but they do it for all the characters, not just the man.

The whole premise is that there is a Mom and Dad and three daughters. One daughter is working as a waitress and has a toddler (a boy) and no husband. The other daughters are in high school, one is sporty and one is very girly. The Dad is a very manly dad who works in a sporting goods store. His daughters are dating girly men who get pedicures, can’t change a tire, etc. The Dad is wondering where all the real men have gone. He starts a Vlog for the sporting goods store (at his boss’s request) but instead of being about the things they sell, it usually ends up being about the girly men.

I hope this show lasts. It’s funny. The family really loves each other. The parents love each other. Yes, they poke fun at stereotypes, but somehow it’s different. I am so tired of watching shows that make strong men look stupid.

This show was just want Sir D and I needed last night. A good, hard laugh!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Christ, the Ferocious Lion

My son Gunnar has a friend named Bethany who is an incredibly talented artist. She has, at 16, already sold several of her pieces at galleries. She's amazing.

She drew this photo for my son. It's a huge photo. probably 15" by 15".

Gunnar wrote this about the Lion.

For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory! -Deuteronomy 20:4

In my mind, this is what Christ looks like when he is fighting for us. Not some soft cuddly cat, but a ferocious lion defending His children.

Amazing. Both Gunnar's thoughts and Bethany's art.

I thought you all might like it too.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some Easy Yummy

Today I did something I found out about on Pinterest. This is really something blogworthy. Normally, I look at all the crafty things on there and go, "Cool! I'll do that someday!" and of course, never do it.

Today I made these! Okay, I know, it's not that amazing. Baby steps.

I took some eggs, some pre cooked breakfast sausage, and added some onions and salt and pepper. If we didn't have a dairy allergy, I'd add shredded cheese.

You mix it all up and then put them into (WELL OILED) muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 min.

Then pop them out and freeze!

When you're ready for breakfast, pop them into the microwave to defrost and then put it in an English muffin or a bagel and smush them down a bit to break it up. Instant, easy, and cheap Egg and sausage muffins!

See? All that time spent perusing Pinterest was not wasted!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning.

School has started here on the Hilltop. We are in full swing. EMT classes, Community College classes, Co op classes, homeschool classes, jobs, youth group and bears OH MY!

Every year, when we start our school it's as if someone picks up the top that is my school and sets it to spinning. We wobble around a bit here and there at first, but eventually we find our pace and things even out.

You'd think that as long as I have been doing this I'd be used to it, but every year is different and every year it seems the schedule gets more and more crazy.

I am no longer in control of the schedule. Bryce is a grown up now. He has his own life and works hard and is taking EMT classes. He comes and goes. Sometimes I remember where he is, sometimes I don't.

Gunnar is taking classes at co op, and the local community college, getting private tutoring and meeting weekly with his Anatomy lab partner. Oh, and he runs his own landscaping business and works afternoons for a local Auto Shop.

They drive themselves and run their own schedules. Sometimes, I have to really think to remember where they are. (Yes, please, I'd love the 'Mother of The Year' award)

It's been 3 weeks and the spinning is starting to level out. It's getting a little easier when I wake up in the morning for me to remember where my boys are.

We're falling into a rhythm. It's a crazy rhythm, but it's a rhythm none the less.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget, Again.

***This is a repost from last year. There really is nothing more to say. Every year that goes by more changes, and yet so much more stays the same.***

A few months ago Gunnar and I watched a Nova program about 9/11. This was the first time he’s ever really gotten to see the extent of what happened that horrid day so many years ago. He was just a little boy of 7 when it actually happened. He and the other kids were too young to understand so Dave and I tried to shield them from as much of the media coverage as we could.

But this day, a few months ago, he saw it all. He was very quiet as he watched. At one point during the program they show a single firefighter standing on a giant pile of rubble. The sky was grey from all the dust and this firefighter stood on what was once a building, but was now just a pile of cement and debris. It was as if he was standing on the moon. There was no background noise, which is strange for New York. No cabs driving, no people talking, no horns honking, there was only one sound. An erie, high pitched sound that I didn’t recognize.

Gunnar looked up at me and said “That sound is the alarms on the SCBA tanks the Fireman wear.” That firefighter was standing on who knows how many bodies of his fallen brothers. Their alarms still ringing, and there was nothing he could do but stand and listen.

It made me cry. It still makes me cry just to think of it. It was the most haunting thing I’ve seen in my lifetime.

President Obama, and all other presidents who follow, please, we can NEVER forget. We can never forget, in the name of tolerance, that there is an entire group of zealots out there that wish us all dead. They’d happily give up their own lives to see America destroyed.

Let’s not put politics over America’s safety. Over my children’s safety. I don’t ever want it to be my sons who are standing on a pile of rubble listening to the sounds of their fallen brothers.

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. “
- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001

Friday, September 2, 2011

Year 15.

One week into the school year and I can see it’s going to be an interesting one. It’s been a little like Grand Central Station here at Hilltop Academy. Bryce the College Boy is taking EMT classes Monday and Wednesdays, and then he works all day for a Construction Company Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (and sometimes even Saturday).

Gunnar has classes at the local community college for duel credit on Tuesday and Thursday and he has afternoon co op classes on Thursday. He also works every afternoon (except Thursday when he’s at co op) for a local auto shop. He also runs his own landscaping business which he works on, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. (When does he do his homework, you might ask? Excellent question!)

Evelyn has classes on Tuesday and Thursday at our co op, and she does not drive, so I am up at the church where the co op meets twice a week this year.

So far nothing for Annika, but she’s really pushing for voice lessons which will be another thing to add to our calendar. Seriously, I need charts and graphs to keep up with everyone’s whereabouts!

I always feel like a terrible mother when someone asks me where Gunnar is and I have NO idea. He is still under 18. I really should have some idea of where he is. I usually have to think about what day it is and what his normal schedule is and guess. Good thing he’s a good, responsible kid!

I guess this is what homeschooling looks like it the upper grades. No more sitting on the couch together reading books. Or sitting around the table with our paper and pencils. Now our education takes place here, there and everywhere!

I think this new school year, our 15th, is going to be a crazy one. Good. But crazy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Using My Powers For Good

Social media is a blessing and a curse. One of the benefits of social media is that the regular guy has a voice. A powerful one. We can put out there, in Cyber Land, a complaint about something and have a real impact on their sales or enact a change in policy. For instance, I have stated several times how chapped I am that the City of Dallas has lowered trash pick up to only once a week. Do you think my bill was cut in half? Um that would be a NO. And when I asked them about getting another can because ours is ALWAYS overflowing now, they said that would be an extra $10 charge. So I'm still on the Bad City Of Dallas bandwagon.

The problem is, often we get wonderful customer service and we don't say anything. We get a company that goes above and beyond and we just move on to the next thing in our day. But I don't think that's fair. If we're going to put our complaints out there in Cyber Land, then we should put our compliments too.

Back in May, I bought this from Christian Book Distributors to help me teach Annika math this year. I bought it back in May because that is when Saxon has their big sale. Once I got it, I stuck it in a box with the rest of the stuff for the next school year and didn't think about it again.

When I pulled that box out to organize and prepare to start school on Monday I realized that Christian Book Distributors had sent me the wrong thing. They sent this...

It had been WAY past their 30 day return policy. I no longer had the paperwork that went with this order. I only had the order # that I got by getting online and going to 'My Account'. This was an expensive item and I really didn't want to buy it twice. How did I not notice 3 months ago it was the wrong product? UGH!

I called CBD and told them they had sent me the wrong product...back in May. The lady I spoke to asked for the order # and told me it would be no problem, they'd send the correct product right out, and I could just stick the wrong product back in the box, affix the return postage sticker to it and send it back. No charge. AND she even asked me when we were starting school and how soon I needed the product so she could be sure to choose the proper shipping to ensure I had it when I needed it.


I was so terribly impressed with CBD.

I just thought you all should know.

Oh, and one other little known secret when dealing with CBD. Often if you call them and ask them if they have any coupon codes available currently, they will give you a one time, free shipping code. I've done that several times.

So there you have it. Today I chose to use my social media powers for good. Now if I could just get the City of Dallas to give me another trash can...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today I Point You Elsewhere

I posted some homeschool stuff at my homeschool blog today. Because that's what it's for, after all.

GO. Check it out. It's riveting.

The Homeschooling Review

Monday, August 22, 2011

Annnndddd here we go.

I am getting off the sauce. Yep, I have an addiction, a terrible one. I started drinking when I was very little and it quickly became a 2 or 3 a day habit.

Yep, you guessed it. I am addicted to Diet Coke. Actually, to be more precise, Coke Zero is my drink of choice, but Diet Coke will do in a pinch.

I have known for a while that it was time to quit, but I was avoiding it. I don't think Diet Coke is evil or anything, I just think I was drinking too much of it, and not enough of anything else healthy. Not to mention, I read some things that concerned me about theories on Diet drinks leaching out Vitamin D and Calcium. EVERY time I go to the Doctor I am told I am very low on Vitamin D. It's odd because I take a boat load of Vitamin D and I try to get some sun every day. And yet...low. It makes me wonder if it's the Diet Coke.

Today is day 3 of no soda. I started with the headaches last night. I didn't expect the headaches because I'm not going off caffeine, just the diet drinks. I had a cup of tea instead. It did nothing for the headache. So this should be super fun.

Hi, my name is Tricia and I have a problem...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Finding Joy in the Small Things

I had to go get a few new keys made last week. Now that all the kids have such busy social lives, I really need for all of them to have a key to the house. No one wants to be locked out when it's 107 outside!

I went to Walmart to do this chore, and I saw this.

It was $4 instead of the .87¢ you pay for a regular key. I bought 3 regular keys and the green one for $4. I love green. Green makes me happy. I spent an extra $3.13 to have a little happy hanging on my keychain.

It makes me smile every time I have to use my keys. I think it was well worth it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Letting Them Grow Up

I like that title. It implies that we have a choice. That if we don’t like it, we can somehow stop it. Today is one of those days that I realized that my little boys are not little boys anymore, but men. And pretty darn amazing ones at that.

We got word last night that a missionary family that is good friends of ours was having a problem. Their 3rd son was visiting their 1st son, who is married and living in Alabama. On his way home, 3rd Son’s car died in Eastern LA, about 300 miles away from home. The family has one car already down and does not currently have the funds to fix it. The Wife and Son #4 were planning to drive the 5 hours to go get Son #3 and tow back the broken car on a car dolly attached to their Toyota minivan (currently their only working car).

I told this to Sir D and his immediate response was “Call them and tell them to take the Excursion.” My Excursion is a diesel and is made for towing. A little Toyota minivan is not.

I then called Gunnar. I told him of the situation and he said, “No prob, Mom. Tell Mrs. Missionary that Son #4 and I can do it.”

So my Gunnar, and Son #4 (who is a lifelong friend of Gunnar’s) drove off at 4am to go pick up Son #3 and his car and tow it back home.

The amazing thing to me about this is that Gunnar didn’t hesitate for a second. Even though today is the day he makes the most $. He handed his mowing work off to a friend, and he is missing an afternoon at work at the Auto Shop (the boss was okay with it). All tolled, I think he’s missing out on making about $100 today. $100 he really needs to get his motorbike up and running again and various other things. But he didn’t blink. His friend was in need and he jumped at the chance to help even though it meant lost wages and getting up a 4 am to drive for 10 hours.

It makes a momma proud.