Tuesday, December 31, 2013

When A House Becomes a Home

If you ask my husband this was the best Christmas ever!  I am inclined to agree with him.  It was magical and will never be duplicated.  By now you've read many posts about our beloved farmhouse.  It has been the topic of many a blog post and the place we have made many wonderful summer memories.  One of our wishes has always been to spend Christmas at the farmhouse.  We took a huge leap of faith this summer and agreed, as a family, to spend this Christmas at the farmhouse.  

She sits and waits 
We arrived on a cold but not freezing rainy night.   We immediately felt the small town love that we seldom feel back in Houston.  Our neighbor picked us up at the airport and drove us home.  Another neighbor had been warming up our house for us by building fires and turning on the heat in our bedroom and bathroom.  We love our neighbors!  The house was exactly like I left it and the next morning as I sat in my usual spot and drank my tea it felt so familiar!  Even surrounded by a blanket of snow!

Mother Nature had been very generous this year with her snow!  From what we hear, two feet of snow before Christmas is not normal.  We just got lucky!  We did have an ugly day of sleet, rain and ice which postponed our Christmas tree procurement, grocery shopping and the arrival of our son and his wife.  All others arrived and departed in a timely manner.

 There was one Christmas miracle at the Halifax airport when our daughter, her husband and 3 sons arrived and were waiting for our youngest daughter to arrive.  Their rental car was too small for their family and one more and there were no larger cars available....what to do?  When what to their wondering eyes should appear but neighbor Bill and his sleigh with room for one more!  They sent a passenger away with neighbor Bill who arrived at the farmhouse to applause and dinner with 20!

It was the best we could do!  No, that is not toilet paper wrapped around it,
 it's burlap ribbon with gold flecks....just can't tell from here!

Young and old waiting for Santa arrive on Christmas Eve!
Christmas Day was very different.  No early waking to see if Santa came...no gift opening either.  We all loaded up and went to church.  We filled an entire row and made quite the statement when we entered.  I was a bit teary when they sang the first song,  we really did feel the true meaning of Christmas.  We even had a blue sky to light up the white landscape!

It was magical!

I was a happy camper!

Our last arrivals came Christmas night and they completed our family!  The following days were spent eating....a lot, playing with the grandchildren, baking, playing in the snow, hiking in the snow, doing dishes, visiting, and generally having nothing to do but be together and enjoy our surroundings.  One other Christmas miracle was that our internet went down on day 2 because of the ice and remained down until a day ago!  We were forced to go dark and therefore had to let our cell phones and computers have a much needed winter rest.  It was a major blessing in disguise!  Christmas unplugged.

We used every inch of our farmhouse and the place stayed warm and cozy and none of us felt crowded.  It was as if our house had been waiting to be utilized to it's fullest and performed perfectly.  With 12 of us living here, and all the laughter and activity the house went from feeling like a place we visit to a home...where all of our hearts will remember this most special week.

In no particular order here are some highlights of the BEST Christmas ever!

These two had fun sliding down the hills!
The neighbors came to visit!

John thinks this is a great place to be!

Looks like Grampy fell in the snow...

The grandsons loved rolling in the snow!
We had more fun than humanly possible here!
On toys like this....

Jehnna was in her element in the many feet of snow!

We did a little snowga!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Year In The Life Of The Blog

Before I head north for the Great Mahoney Christmas Adventure I thought I'd steal an idea from another blogger and share some of the best of the blog this year.  How do you determine the best?  Is the best post the one with the most hits?  Is it the prettiest?  Is it the one that makes you laugh the most or the one that brings tears to your eyes?  Or... is it the rare one that does all of the above?  I think maybe one out of 50 posts covers all the bases and since I haven't even written 50 posts this year (I was a total slacker), there may not be that "one".  I also have my favorites which don't always match up to the statcounter.  They are all my babies and unlike with my real babies....I do have favorites.

There is one clear standout in the number of hits this year!  Which shows what happens when a post is reposted by several people with broader networks than mine!

1.A True Fairy Tale
Once upon a time there was a girl who loved the book, Anne of Green Gables.  She loved the story and the setting.  She spent most summers in Nova Scotia and like many girls, related to Anne in many ways.  She was headstrong, like Anne.  She also dreamed that some day she and "her Gilbert" might be married in Amherst Shore, Nova Scotia.  (read more...)

The perfect day!

This next post may be one of my all time personal favorites and also in second place this year for the number of hits.  Personally, it is an example of true inspiration that came in a flash.  It was also something I have wanted to express and struggled to express for many years.  A rare time when all the pieces fit together.

2.What Is A Cottage
 This cottage doesn't know it but it was the inspiration for this post. I was walking along the lane the other day and was inspired (I've been waiting...).  I have walked past this cottage so many times in my life I can't even count them!  I am always struck by it's beauty, it is still on the shore side of the lane and with it's weathered shingles and window boxes filled with red geraniums it strikes a lovely profile against the beach.  It was built in 1906 and has survived the test of time. (read  more...)

3.  How To Party Like A Scotia Woman
The third in the Scotia Woman series which has proven to be very popular!  Who can resist Scotia Woman?!  She may even make an appearance at the Great Mahoney Christmas Adventure!

read more here....
The next post is not the prettiest visually but if you use your imagination it definitely paints a picture.

4. Hindsight is 20/20
I remember back in 1985 when my husband bought our (his) first VHS! video camera.  It was about the size of a current microwave oven and probably heavier!  It was not coincidental that this purchase was made the same year our only son was born.  (read more...)

5.  The Boy In The Striped Sweater
Today I saw the light in the form of a bright rainbow striped sweater on a grown boy with special needs. 
(read more..)  

When I reread this post from very early in the year the memories flooded back and I am still in awe of the family who put things in perspective for me on that day.

P.S. One year later, my LG is doing quite well in the City of Brotherly Love!

Thank you, boy in the striped sweater!

Finally, this next one was not big on the "hit" list, it has no pictures and it is not funny.  It does however hold a special place in my heart.  Especially at this time of year, it's important for me....and you, to remember some special people in our lives who have gone before us.

6. Turning the Page
Two weeks ago we turned the page in a chapter in many lives.  We said goodbye to my mother-in-law.  For the last five years or so I have thought of writing about my mother-in-law and resisted..... 
(read more...)

There you go folks!  A little light holiday reading.....I'm sure everyone has their personal favorite post for one reason or another.  This is a combination of the most popular and a couple of my favorites over the past year.  Thank you for reading and for your kind words of encouragement.  I will continue to try to live up to your expectations!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

While We Were Away

While we were away eating delicious French food,

Delicious buttery flaky pastry!
 drinking French wine,

 and walking many beautiful miles in Paris,

my favorite bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III....
 there was a bit of funny business going on in our neighborhood with the mail delivery.  Apparently our substitute mail person went "postal"! I arrived home to about 15 emails from our neighborhood representative, aka mail fraud private eye, about the missing mail.  After many inquiries to the post office it was discovered that our mail person would just quit delivering the mail when it got dark and "hide" it back at the post office.  Like not one would notice getting no mail for days around Christmas time! No kidding! Guess our carrier just didn't buy into the Postal Service motto,  "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".  The mail delivery has been corrected and all is right with the world and the 5 a day emails from our neighborhood rep. have ceased!

Another thing on my mind while I was away
walking through Tuileries garden

enjoying the view from the top of the Ferris wheel

admiring one of my favorite buildings, the Petite Palais

and taking in the sunset from the bar at the top of Tour Montparnasse

 was whether I should put up a tree and decorate our house this year.  (First world problems here people!) We are going to Nova Scotia for Christmas, so why bother here?  My inner Scrooge lost out to my inner sentimental self and I have a mini Christmas tree and about 25% of my decorations around the house. I still have to laugh every time I pass our mini tree in the foyer...sorry mini tree.  We even put up some of our outside lights....I just could not let down the neighborhood and all those people driving around looking at lights.  People still do that don't they?  We do....but we are nerds who love Christmas lights.  

As far as Christmas cards go this year, they will be New Year's cards.  I am going to wait until we have the entire family together at the farmhouse to take "the" picture for the cards....and I'm going to wait until I get home to mail them, even though with the way the mail goes around here that might not be the best idea!  I'm also hoping the creative powers that be invade my consciousness so I can whip out that letter!

One thing I did not think about while I was away was the chance of running into someone I knew while I was away.  Thanks to Facebook and my need to let everyone know what I am doing and where I am going, one of my Boston cousins noticed I was going to Paris and let me know that her daughter was going to be there at the same time!  All this happened during my layover in the Newark airport.  Probably one of the few good things that have ever happened to me in that airport!  

Bonjour, Boston cousin and friends on the Champs Elysees at Christmas!
There is just no telling what will happen when you go away!  Stay tuned....for the great northern adventure in a week.  Yes, it will be an adventure!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Would You, Could You...in December?

Would you, could you... go to Paris in December?  That is the question.  December is the month of shopping, decorating, cooking, planning, preparing, nesting!  December has never been a month I would consider a big travel month, except to see family for Christmas.  I guess I've always had plenty to keep me busy at home during the month of December.  All this...coming from the person some people refer to as Carmen San Diego.  But, it looks like things may be different this year.

The City of Lights...all lit up for Christmas!

For the first time ever.....I will be taking a frivolous, unexpected, spur of the moment, totally self serving trip...in December.  TJ is going to Paris on business for a few days and far be it from me to turn down an invitation to Paris.  It is Paris after all!  I did deliberate over the decision to go for about 10 minutes before I said..."Why not?!".  After all, I did all of my Christmas shopping in August and we are going to Nova Scotia for Christmas, so I don't really have to do too much around the house here in Sugar Land.  This year is going to be a minimal Christmas, it 's all about family and fellowship!  Not shopping!  So...I conveniently find myself with a bit of free time in December.

I hear there are all sorts of Christmas decorations in Paris which will only add to the beauty of the city of lights!  I am going to ignore the fact that the weather forecast is cold and dreary.  I will turn to the millions of mini white lights to warm my spirit and put me in the holiday mood.  I am going with no particular agenda.  I'll be flying solo and will be on my own for half of the days there.  I'm OK with that.  What better place to be wandering around with nothing but time and a camera?  I have even cracked open my French textbook in an effort to refresh my feeble memory of the French I was taught over the last couple of years.  I sure hope I remember some of it!  Maybe I'll just hope everyone is in the holiday spirit and is feeling generously forgiving to this American tourist. I promise to try to speak as much French as I can remember! Anticipation.....

Meanwhile, back in Sugar Land, Texas it is feeling and looking a lot like Toronto in November!  The last five days have reminded me of the things I loved to hate about November in Toronto.  We have had as much winter weather as we ever get down here in the South!  Makes a person want to curl up with hot chocolate, a blanket, a fire, and a good book....or plan a trip to Paris!
Bonne Nuit!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tweet Tweet?!

After you read this my credibility may go down.  I consider myself reasonably capable using social media, some may beg to differ.  I mean, I am able to keep this here blog going, post pictures to the blog, change the background when the urge hits me and use most of the options fairly well. I have a Pintrest account, but will admit I rarely use it.   I am pretty good using Facebook (sometimes too good) and Instagram...unless you saw the last couple of pictures that got accidentally posted sideways.  That was all Instagram's fault!  They went and updated their site and changed the editing choices while I wasn't paying attention.  Ok, maybe it was a little my fault.  But....I have yet to venture into the land of Twitter.

Until last week, on an impulse....I hear that's how it happens to many people, I opened up a Twitter account. I figured it was time for me to see what all the fuss is about....a few years late.  My embarrassing ineptitude was immediately evident!  I unwittingly sent invitations, to join Twitter, to almost everyone in my address book....not once but twice! Sorry about that friends.  I think people are still getting notices and reminders to join... not from me but from the tenacious badgering of Twitter.  FYI, I am not sitting by the computer anxiously waiting for you to join Twitter!  Super embarrassing!

I can now be referred to as.... @lisadmahoney1  
Upon opening my shiny new Twitter account I decided to "follow" a few sites and individuals.  I sat and waited for the informative, smart, witty, sharp barrage of information/tweets to show up.  Maybe I am going about this all wrong.  What I did get were a few emails from long lost friends accepting or rejecting my Twitter invitations.  I'm going to just count that as a "win" since I got to hear from a few friends I would not ordinarily hear from.  Every time I run into a friend or acquaintance who is in my address book they mention the Twitter invitation and usually they follow up with, "I don't really do Twitter, I have no idea how to do it, or why I would need/want it."  Me either!

As far as my Twittering...well, I just don't get it yet.  What can I say that I already haven't said on Facebook, or Instagram or here on the blog...and who cares?  Does anyone need or want to hear anything else from me?  I heard that!
Swimming in the Deep End Without a Life Jacket

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's A Small World

Sometimes the six degrees of separation are too many.  In my ESL class there are between 8 and 12 people every day from all over Central and South America.  At the beginning of the semester none of them knew each other, except for the one husband and wife who attend.  Last week we found out that the couple's daughter, who is a nun,  was the teacher of one of the other student's child back in Mexico!  Yes my friends...it is a small world!

Yesterday was one of those days in my class that puts a smile on my face for the rest of the day!  The couple in our class was celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary.  They have only lived here for a short time and don't have many friends.  Their daughter, who has lived here a long time, asked if she could bring a cake and surprise them with a party.  Definitely!  One thing I have found out about Hispanic people is that they love a party!

"Teacher" and the happy couple and the rest of the class, Feliz Anniversario!

Everyone loves  party and tres leches cake!

When the party begins is when all of the students break into Spanish.  I think they love turning the tables on me and see me have that confused look on my face that says, "What???".  One benefit of my confused look is that it forces some of the more advanced students to be the interpreter and as a result improves their English.

My heart was warmed all day when I thought about this sweet couple and the tears that ran down their faces when they realized that all this was done for them.  I love this "job"!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hindsight is 20/20

I remember back in 1985 when my husband bought our (his) first VHS! video camera.  It was about the size of a current microwave oven and probably heavier!  It was not coincidental that this purchase was made the same year our only son was born.  His birth was the main impetus for this purchase but also playing into the decision were the "advancement" of the technology and the balance in our checkbook.  Suffice it to say, once TJ had the video camera, all we saw for what seemed to be years was him following us around with a small microwave oven on his shoulder pointed in our general direction.  We enjoyed watching the videos over the years and the kids loved laughing at themselves on TV.

 We recorded many special family moments along with some regular days and then the random "black screen with sound" that happened when TJ would forget to take the lens cap off and leave the camera on....those are particularly exciting.  Technology has come a long way and at some point we no longer had the ability to view our old VHS tapes so we tediously converted some of them to DVDs.  This conversion process provided us with hours of entertainment combined with a few moments of 20/20 hindsight.

One of the most glaring moments was the day after our youngest child was born.  We have a video of me and the new baby just home from the hospital when the older three children are meeting their new sister.  Daddy is recording the whole thing.  New mommy is gently sitting on the sofa while daughter number two is holding the baby and daughter number one is petting the baby's head.  Both girls are looking sweetly at their new sister and new mommy is watching attentively to make sure the baby is held properly.  In the background the only sound that can be heard is the voice of a little 3 1/2 year old boy saying, "Hey Dad....look at me, look at me!"....over and over and over!  I'll let you process this scene.

I am sure in the "moment"  I had no idea how displaced that little 3 1/2 year old boy was feeling.  Think about it...I just had a baby the day before!  What the heck was I doing home so soon anyway???  Secondly, I was coming home to three other children and a husband who relied heavily on me.  I was probably thinking, "Can I just go to bed for a while and rest?" or "HELP!" or " can you get him off the arm of the sofa and tell him to be quiet?".   

In hindsight, that little boy had been the focus...along with his sisters, of that video camera for the last three years.  He was used to doing flips on the sofa and having them be video worthy.  He could do almost anything and it would have been video worthy.  Suddenly this little baby comes in and steals his limelight.  It took me a while to catch on to this at the time, but boy it was glaringly obvious watching the video.  Hindsight...

There are several more videos in the following weeks that are focused on the newborn baby and they all include shots of a little boy balancing on the sofa arm, rocking on a bar stool, standing on one leg, jumping on the little trampoline or just running around in circles and always in the background you can hear, "Hey Dad....look at me!".   

I watch these videos now and wonder what other things did I miss because I was either not paying attention, busy putting out another fire, totally unaware of, or just too exhausted to notice?  My kids can probably shed more light than I'd like on this.  They can write about it in their books!

One more funny video I'll have to share, because it really gives some perspective on how crazy a house is with four children at times and how it can lead to bad decisions.  Picture this....Dad is taking a video of little baby girl who is lying on the kitchen counter.  The baby is crying.  The 3 1/2 year old brother is kneeling on a chair next to the counter in front of the crying baby with one arm on either side of the baby...I assume to keep her from falling to the ground when she rolls over for the first time!  Dad pans over to the kitchen sink and a pile of clean dishes and says "my accomplishment for the night". I think to myself ... "Wait!  You aren't watching the baby!  Go back to the baby!"  He goes back to the baby who is still crying and the little boy has a very worried look on his face...because the baby is lying on the counter and she's crying!  Dad tells him to talk to the baby.  Dad then pans the video to one of the older sisters who walks into the room.  Again I think...."THE BABY!!"  Whew, back to the crying baby still safe on the kitchen counter!  Sometime during the video Dad reveals that Mom is out taking a walk.  I think to myself, "I would have never left the house if I knew what was happening while I was out."  I guess what I never knew.. never hurt me...or the children apparently.   

I'm glad we took all those videos.  I hope my children can look back fondly on their childhoods and know that even though we may not have had 20/20 vision back then, we had 20/20 intentions.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Finding My Voice

Today as I read my favorite blogs I experienced a little blog envy. I only read a couple of other blogs regularly.  They are both moms and are younger than I.  They both have a sharp wit and  I love that about them!   I was wishing I had their voice.  This lead me to wonder... what is my voice?  Finding a voice was actually one of the key points made in the writing class I took last year.  I think I am sometimes serious, sometimes funny, sometimes reflective and sometimes spiritual, often sarcastic. I've been told I remind people of Erma Bombeck....a huge compliment in my book.  I loved her!  She had a way of saying things that were so true in a way that was humorous. For instance, one of her quotes on raising children, " I take a very practical view of raising children.  I put a sign in each of their rooms 'check out time is 18 years' "....gotta love that woman!  Another gem, " God created man, but I could do better.".  Alas, I am not Erma!

Another voice I enjoy, and don't groan when you read this, is Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and The City.  I could not watch the show when it first came out.  I wasn't old enough...I was only in my early 40's,  and we did not have HBO.  I only started watching it when the watered down version showed up on TBS.  I was actually somewhat shocked when I saw an uncensored version, especially when I realized my daughters had been watching it for years.  Carrie's life was light years away from mine.  My 20's and 30's were not spent in New York City, wearing designer clothes, working on my career and sleeping around looking for love in all the wrong places.  Nope, I was firmly planted in suburbia raising children, making a career as a room parent- carpool expert-high school sports fan, and believe me... there was nothing designer in my life!  At least I had found love!  Even though we had (and still have) nothing in common, I always enjoyed Carrie's narration of each episode.  I liked her "voice".
This is what Erma would have to say about the fashions in Sex and the City!

I guess this puts me somewhere between Erma Bombeck and Carrie Bradshaw.  Sex and the Suburbs?
No one is buying that one!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Back to School

Have you been to any of your high school reunions?  I went to my 10th and 15th reunions and enjoyed both.  I seem to remember my 10th was a bit of a challenge for me because I had just given birth to my 3rd child...and I mean "just" as in he was a month to six weeks old.  I lasted about an hour or two at the reunion and let my husband (who knew as many people at my reunion as I did) stay while I went home to my new baby.  Yup, I sported that awesome post baby belly to my 10th reunion...not the impression every girl wants to make to the classmates she hasn't seen in years.   The 15th was a lot more fun...no newborn baby to distract me from all the reuniting.  It's been a long time since those reunions!

Last weekend, we attended my husband's 40th! class reunion in White Plains, NY.  Where did the time go?  He was intent on attending and since it was October in the northeast I was happy to leave the land of no fall  for a place bound to have a little fall color and friendlier temperatures.  I'll admit it....I was not totally psyched about the reunion part.  He went to an all boys Catholic high school.  I know about 3 of the guys he went to school with and two of them were not even going to be there.  I'm a good team player though so I went to the reunion.

the hallowed halls.....

After going to his reunion, I really hope my class has a 40th reunion!  I never expected to see so many men so happy to see each other!  The weekend was filled with honest enthusiasm and a true appreciation to see so many of their classmates and to visit the hallowed halls of their high school.  There was the usual catching up and more than one walk down memory lane. It made me think this is probably the best time in life to reunite with high school friends.  The way I see it is, we are old enough to have a real perspective on this life and still young enough to enjoy a weekend of partying.  Most of us have raised our families and are comfortable in our careers and some of us are even retired.  We are able to look past all the stereotypes we held onto in high school and just be who we are and appreciate others for who they are.  I think after living in our own skin for 50+ years most of us are finally comfortable being ourselves.  We have lived through being teenagers and raising teenagers!  Life looks a lot different from this side doesn't it?

So...if you have a chance to go to your high school reunion...or your loved one's reunion, go!  You will feel young....and old all at the same time.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hello? Fall?

Hello? Fall... it's me, Lisa.  Remember me?  We've met before.  There were a few years when we were really good friends, back when I lived in Toronto. Where are you?  The calendar says you should have arrived by now.  I left you in Nova Scotia a couple of weeks ago and I thought you would be on your way down here by now.  I know it takes you a little longer to get down here but what is taking so long?  Your stubborn sister season, Summer, is wearing out her welcome.  She is still really hot, I thought she'd let up on us by now....but noooo. She decided she would add a lot of humidity because heat feels so much more miserable with a lot of humidity. I am beginning to think she is never going to leave. I need your help!

I promise to plant your favorite flowers when you get here.  You know...the cute purple and yellow ones?  I know they are your favorite colors. The leaves on some of the trees think you are here already because they are starting to drop their leaves.  The squirrels are getting ready for your arrival, they are hunting and gathering like you are right around the corner.  I have to believe they know what they are doing. The stores in town are ready for you too!  There are boots in the shoe stores and sweaters in the clothing stores.  The only problem is that we still need to wear tank tops and flip flops.  I love Fall clothes and I can't wait to comfortably wear my jeans and boots.  Send me some cool days and nights so I can finally put away my tired summer wardrobe.

Fall, I'll bet you are economically minded aren't you?  Just think of all the electricity you can save us by cooling off the south.  Being green is very important, help us be green by letting us open our windows and turn off our air conditioners.  The world will be a better place if you just get a little more aggressive and blow through sister Summer.  You can do it!  Stop being such a wimp!  Don't let that huge body of water, the Gulf of Mexico, keep bullying you back up north.  Push your way down here....for the environment!

I am looking forward to visiting you this weekend in New York state.  I sure would love it if you would jump into my suitcase and come home with me!  Think about it.

Your Sweaty friend,

Friday, September 27, 2013

Retail Therapy?!

Yesterday I found myself with a few hours to spare and in the general vicinity of the Houston Galleria.  I decided to treat myself to a little retail therapy after my long hiatus from shopping.  I don't get to the Galleria very often, it is not near my house and the traffic surrounding the mall is insane!  Anyway, I braved the traffic and the snooty people and tourists who usually shop there and headed into the retail mecca.

Since my daughter is getting married in seven months I figured I would start the job of finding that elusive mother-of-the-bride dress.  You know the one.... not too matronly, not too risque, not too big, not too small, not too bright, not too drab, not too cheap, not too expensive, the dress that makes you look like a million bucks but doesn't cost a million bucks....you know...the perfect dress!   They should have dresses I would not normally find in suburbia, right?  I ended up at one of the high end department stores that begins with "N" in their bridal/formal department.  I am sure I looked a bit like a deer in the headlights.  So many pretty dresses!  I began my search and noticed when I picked up my normal size dress they looked a bit small.  I would hold the dress up to my body and think, "there is now way this is going to fit!".  I chose about 20 dresses in "my" size and the next size up, because they really did look a bit small to me. Apparently in the designer section, size 6 is the new size 2 and size 12 is the new size 6!  Who are these dresses made for?!  When I say they were small I mean...tiny!  I am not a tiny person but I am not a Neanderthal either!  Keep your opinions to yourself here.

I know we are not supposed to worry about the number, just the fit.  But seriously?  I was forced into choosing sizes I have never brought into a dressing room before. I don't remember gaining ten pounds over the summer. I want to see the skeleton who fits into their size 0....of which there were at least four on the rack in each dress style...because 8 year olds do not shop in this department!  There were very few Neanderthal size dresses available...possibly because they had all been bought up by all the normal size women.

I left my retail therapy session needing some serious mental therapy, my ego had taken a huge blow. At this rate it will take me every one of the seven months between now and the wedding to find a dress.  I'm going on a diet....tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Here and There

I'm finally home.  The home that I live in for 9 months a year.  I got my welcome home gift when my 3 month old computer sat on my kitchen table, started clicking like a cricket and then rolled over and died.  Just died, "no operating system found".  The great Geek Squad diagnosed a dead hard drive, so she has been sent away for warranty repairs.  Along with her went lots of pictures and my ability to surf and write with ease.  I am now using a rejected work computer of TJ's.  I can totally see why it was rejected.  Like using an iPhone 2 instead of the new iPhone 5c, not that I'd know anything about iPhones, but apparently lots of people out there are addicted.  I'm so uncool!  So, I'll have to rely on my wit and writing skills to bring this post to life, no pictures.

It's time for a few here and there comparisons, because who doesn't get home from any trip and compare life at home to life....away?

Here, I can drive 2 miles and play golf with any number of friends...or my husband, in the comfort of a golf cart in the sweltering heat.
There, I drive 25 miles to play golf with some good friends...and my husband, walking and pushing my golf bag on a cart in the velvet air while I'm sure I must be burning hundreds of ill gotten calories.

Here, I have an awesome bathroom.  It is very large with walk-in closets and a shower that has amazing water pressure and a floor big enough to do those morning or evening exercises that keep old people in shape, or at least able to move the next day.
There, I have an awesome bathroom...by farmhouse/cottage standards.  I have an awesome shower with slightly more than a trickle of water pressure.  Washing this mop of hair is a challenge unless you have fire hose pressure coming out of the shower head.  I do have a view out of my bathroom window that is unmatched!

Here, I can get a pedicure any time I want at any number of salons for cheap!
There, I go 3 months without a pedicure....my poor feet!

Here, I have to buy my vegetables at the grocery store...and they taste like nothing.  I hope they have some nutritional value.
There, all I have to do is walk outside and I have my choice of delicious, nutritious vegetables in mass quantities.

Here, I drive on the roads with thousands of other people, all in a hurry to get somewhere important.
There, I drive with a few other people on the road in no big hurry to get anywhere.

Here, I have to walk my dog on a leash if I want her to get any exercise and not get run over by a car.
There, all I have to do is open the back door if I want my dog to get exercise.

Here, I can watch any of over 600 channels of television....and still sometimes there is nothing to watch.
There, if I want to watch a TV program I have to wait until the next day and watch it on my computer with variable feed success.

Here, I walk the same roads day after day and no one talks to me...some people wave which is nice.  I've been walking the same roads for over 3 years now and know a handful of people on my path.
There, I walk the same road day after day and can barely go 5 minutes without seeing someone I know or stopping for a visit.

Here, I sometimes find myself getting bored and have to figure out ways to fill time.
There, I don't think I've ever been bored...maybe once...why is that?

Here, I can go shopping any time I want!
There, not so much.

Here, we eat out at restaurants two or three times a week.
There, we have people over to eat two or three times a week and go to someone else's house to eat two or three times a week.  No restaurants!

Here, I sweat more than humanly possible between June and October.
There, I sweat a little in July.

Here, I love my house.
There, I love my house.

Here, I am close to some family and very far from other family.
There, I am close to some family and very far from other family.

Here, I feel like I belong.
There, I feel like I belong.

I could go on for much longer but you get the picture.  There is something to love about both places, the things are just different.  I enjoy being here or there!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

We Bought A Farm....house

Seven years ago we bought a dream or a nightmare depending on your perspective.  We were younger then and we both had plenty of energy.  Many said it was a foolish purchase.  Some said we should tear it down and start fresh.  They may have been right...but we did not listen.  We thought we had found a diamond in the rough... it was definitely rough!

Our dream house!  Circa 2007
I had always wanted to buy an old fixer upper and fix it up.  I had no idea what renovating involved but in my mind it was going to be a creative, fun process.  That would be the upside... watching the bank balance constantly spiral downward would be one of the downsides.  All the job would take was a good imagination, time, money, energy, patience and a few good men.  Not to mention a strong back and good knees, which we both had seven years ago....not so much these days!

One of the first things on the list was to properly insulate the house, put in new windows and put up vinyl siding  (there is no way we were ever going to paint this place!).  We have met many people who lived in this house throughout the years and their one consistent comment was that the house was always freezing.  The lack of insulation and good windows may explain.  Who insulated 150 years ago?  We are such wimps!

The same dream house, circa 2013!

We took on the project with the understanding that we would take as long as we needed in order to be able to afford to do the job right.  We figured we were somewhere between a five and ten year plan.  This is where the patience comes into play.  Imagination came into play way back in 2007 when we walked into the house for the first time.  It was nothing short of a total disaster!  The kitchen alone would have sent weaker souls running for the hills!

A stove and some firewood, that's it!  No sink, no counters or cabinets!

After completely gutting the house, the kitchen was one of the first projects along with the upstairs bathroom.  They were also two of the most dramatic changes.  We have our priorities....we wanted to be able to cook and use the bathroom!   After the kitchen, the bathroom was probably the ugliest room in the house.  It was a mish-mash of colors and textures!  I am sure every part of it was bought "on the cheap".  You be the judge.

Gotta love pink and green!
Maybe we could have kept the pink tub and toilet but instead we went with neutral colors.  The pink toilet still  lives though, next to our back porch as a flower pot!  We will never forget where we started!

The best view in the house is out of this window!
Hard to believe this is the same room!  We love our kitchen!
Renovations are such a leap of faith!  Choosing cabinet color, counter top, flooring, and paint color are somewhat daunting choices.  There are so many choices and then will they look good together?  Sometimes you just have to make your best decision and then throw it out there and take that leap of faith.  There are detail decisions too, drawer pulls, light fixtures, and molding.  They say the devil is in the details...they could be right!

Once the bathroom and kitchen were finished or at least well under way, we needed someplace to sleep!  The walls in the entire house had been torn down and we were down to the bare studs.  Turns out walls are easier than kitchens and bathrooms!  Our awesome contractor put up the walls and the ceilings all we had to do was paint them...all of them!

Wearing these clothes....
either standing on these lovely retro chairs or between them on a very long and heavy piece of wood...
my homemade scaffolding!

May 2009!  I also wore these yesterday....
 September 2013, they have served me well!

This summer I have been very motivated to "finish" the farmhouse.  The main motivator is that our family, all 12 of us, will be spending Christmas here this year.  I want the place to be as livable as it possibly can by then.  So, instead of packing and cleaning today, I am working on this post.  (I'll  do anything to avoid packing and cleaning!)  This is mostly for me to prove to myself how far we have come and that it will be very livable in December.  Looking back through the years, we have come a long way!

So....a little tour of before and after!  Finally!

Dining room and den....before
After.... still need to get those beams covered.
Master bedroom- before
Another view
Guest room-  before
Guest room-same wall-after
Retro room - before
Retro room - after

Another bedroom - before

And after

The floors....before!

And after!!!

Last, but not least.....the stairs...before

And after!!!

Yes, it was a happy day when these were finished!

And so on my last night here for the summer, I leave the farmhouse in a much better state than when we arrived back in June.  The big difference this year is that when I leave I don't expect to come back to any major changes or any massive dust producing renovations that require me to clean up after and then paint.  I finally feel like we are almost....almost....there.  The big question is, " whatever will I do next summer when I get here?".   Hahahaha!  I just crack myself up sometimes!

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