How has it been six days????

I last posted about the demise of our bathroom. It sure doesn’t feel like so much time has passed, but . . . 
Mike, Tim, Ian and Andy (and even a few of Andy’s friends who really wanted him to finish his bathroom chores so he could ride bikes) have been working diligently.  By Saturday, most of the old drywall was torn out, all the fixtures (‘cept the nasty tub) were removed and Mike started the dry-walling.  Woo-hoo.  He and the boys tried to convince  me to go with an “open concept” bathroom.  (see picture)  One, I must watch WAY too much HGTV if they all even know what “open concept” is and two, HELL NO.  
I don’t have new pictures, but the discussion ended shortly after I shrieked “HELL NO.”  The drywall is up and Mike is putting the finishing touches on the seams and the tape and whatever else.  Then, it becomes my problem.  At least it’s easy to pick out primer.  I think I have a greenish-bluish paint for the walls.  Still thinking on the tile and debating if we can maybe afford glass shower doors.  While I think, I’ve been painting the base of our old sink, the medicine cabinet that hung over the toilet and an old light fixture shiny, shiny black.  WOW – they look really great.  Much more upscale than we could have afforded to buy.  I think the effort was worth the spray-paint-headache!  (We’ll see.)  
In other news, I went into the FAFSA (national financial aid database) to put in the boys’ information and our information.  Apparently, they are linked with our insurance companies (past and present) who are baffled when you enter information about twins.  Honestly?  Twins are that uncommon?  Go to the grocery store, you’ll find at least one set of twins.  I kept getting error messages about having too many kids in college.  Well, duh.  Finally worked through it, I think.  Now we have to see what each school offers and figure out if we can avoid student loans.  Ugh . . . the whole college thing makes my head explode.  
For Danny, right now, college makes sense.  He KNOWS what he wants to do and he is far ahead in his pursuit of doing it.  (engineering)  Ian and Tim are still “iffy” on what they want to do.  I do not want to push them into a four year school only to have them switch majors three or four times.  
For now the plan is for Ian and Tim to finish up their AA’s at the community college (now a ‘state’ college – go figure) they’ve been attending.  They both need another semester and possibly an extra class or two after.  Maybe then we can figure it all out.
Until then, I find myself reading articles like “Why Skipping College Was One of the Best Decisions of My Life” and Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and other “hot” college courses and Tuning In to Dropping Out and Today’s college degree is the equivalent of the 1950’s high school diploma.   I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Obviously, for the student focused on engineering, math or science, college makes sense.  I am wondering about the rest, though. 

And . . . for those of you who have made it all the way through my weird update . . . this is my 1700th post!

Keep Voting

I have pictures – step by step, no less – of my new project – a quilt for our bed. A king size quilt is no small effort. I’d upload the pictures I have so far, but I cannot find the cord and the fact that my sewing machine and cutting table is set up directly in front of the the basket where I keep the cords is a problem. Pictures are on their way.
In case you’re bored, please go and vote for Dan as the best roommate in Tallahassee. If he wins, it means a free year of apartment rent + $1000. It would free up a lot of money for Ian and Tim as they start on their “adult journeys” in the fall. Here is the place to vote, scroll about 1/2 way down the page and pick Dan Baker: PLEASE!

Vote daily and often!

Expenses are tight here as I am sure they are for most of you.  Dan has done a tremendous job this year of working 25-30 hours per week while handling a full sophomore (as a freshman) load of school work.  Next year (still waiting to hear about the Naval ROTC scholarship) he will not be able to work as much and handle the course load.  But, being Dan, he found a solution.  A contest. 
An apartment-finding company in Tallahassee is sponsoring a contest looking for the “best” roommate in Tallahassee.  Dan made a video (with the help of his brothers).  The video is HERE.  Just click on the word here. Scroll down about 1/2 of a page and you can see Dan and his video.  It’s kind of funny.  If you’re so inclined, please vote for him.  AND share this with your friends, family, relatives who constantly send you stoopid email forwards and anyone else you can think of.  And, yes, you can VOTE DAILY from as many e-mail addresses as you have.  

The contest doesn’t last too long and this would be a HUGE savings for us – so bear with me if I re-post every couple of days or so. 


So, what would you do with $800?  I can configure that amount about 200 ways.  Each of the 200 ways would be helpful to us.  I imagine it’s the same for you.  
But, if you’re Danny, you spent that money on a required Humanities Class called “Ethnicity and Diversity.”  (I will spare you my rant on how much this is a NON-issue for kids in this age group – the school is making it an issue by making this a required class . . .) Anyway, Danny is taking this class.  He (and I) thought he’d finished all of the humanities credits for an engineering major when he was attending the local school.  Oh well.  We told Dan, Dan’s advisor told Dan to just suck it up and get through it.  
He called me Friday after his class.  Dan and I share a lot of traits, but one of the best things he got from Mike is his ability to be sane and rise above people who try to tick you off.  I fail that class every single time I take it. His E&D teacher has been taking the class through US History discussing the issues.  Friday marked the day the were supposed to start on the Civil War and then Reconstruction.  The instructor announced that she doesn’t like talking or thinking about war so they would be skipping those sections.  You know, because they have nothing to do with R&E issues in the late 1800’s or the entire 20th century.  GAHAAHAHAHHHHHH.  And, there you go, that’s about $800.  I’m happy that Dan at least realizes the gap in history and how important it is.  What about the other 200++ kids in Dan’s class?  Are they aware?  I wonder if she’ll skip WWII and the Holocaust as well – those are potentially upsetting.  @@  
Andy and I are losing our minds being quiet and housebound and doing so much sitting.  We have to do this until Thursday!!!!  I have to say that Andy’s best friend (since he was about 3) has been here everyday (and this kid is NOT a gamer or a sitter in any way shape or form).  It means so much that he’s here and he’s willing to tone things down.  (I do wonder what kind of nightmare his parents are facing at the end of each day – we’re all used to having physically tired kids); BUT, it’s working.  No blurring, no swelling, no bleeding.  We can do this.  Right?  

lt’s fall garden time.  Mike is building me a fence that is Cally-proof (as she ate most of the summer garden).  It should be done tomorrow..  I painted the first two panels last weekend.  I painted the next two panels tonight while enjoying the end of the audio version of Salem’s Lot.  (This was extra fun as it’s actually cool here – well, below 80)  Once I figure out what to plant, it had all better grow really well to match up to the fancy fences!!!!!  

Is anyone else on Pottermore?  Dan’s girlfriend got me a spot for the Beta testing.  It’s a total hoot.  I was sorted into Ravenclaw (me and Luna, doncha know?) tonight.  It’s fun, but hugely time-sucking.  I might put Andy to work this week

Mission Accomplished!

We were up by 4:15 (okay, Dan was up, it took me until about 4:45 to really put my feet on the ground and stop whining – early morning is EVIL).  We were on the road by 5:30.  Dan drove the whole way to Tallahassee – that early in the morning it took us about four hours and a lot of negotiating around trucks.  Fortunately, I had a scarf to knit that did not require my full attention.  I was able to watch the road and emit little shrieks as needed yet still remain focused (sort-of) on the scarf. My mom’s car was jam-packed with Dan’s possessions and some food.  Using the rearview mirror was out of  the question.  And, yet, we arrived alive!!!  Yay, Dan.
We found the apartment complex on the first try.  I’m SOOOOOO glad we went today instead of Saturday.  The place was packed full of people.  They could not find Danny on the list even though we did the paperwork a month ago.  There’s just something about us and paperwork.  Finally, a manager took over and found us right away.  He told us what we owed and I handed him my credit card.  “Uh, ma’am (the manager was Danny’s age with a 12-year-old face) we have new owners and we can only take a check or a money order.”  I stared at him.  “What is this, 1985?” I asked.  “I’m sorry, ma’am. Those are the rules.”  I think the last time I used a money order was about 1985.  I don’t carry checks with me because I never use them.  I was tired from being up at the crack-of-middle-of-the-night, shrieking at Dan for driving too fast and just being weepy about abandoning my baby.  The kid was nice and sent me in the direction of a place that would do a money order.  I made him promise we would not have to go back to the back of the line.  We got a money order and went to the head of the line.
Dan was so happy to finally get into HIS apartment.  It’s a perfect apartment for four guys.  Older, not too fancy but not too yucky.  Dan FINALLY has his own bedroom with a big closet, lots of storage and a built in desk.  Their apartment does not yet have a fourth roommate, so Dan has his own bathroom.  Talk about upgrades!!!!  He let me make up his bed.  We unpacked and put away all the kitchen stuff.  Next we went to the grocery store to pick up cold stuff.  Milk, meat, OJ, bread, etc.  Went back to the apartment and put that stuff away.  And then, I got the vibe.  You know the vibe . . . the one that says “Okay, you can leave now.”  Dan gave me a huge hug and a kiss.  He set the GPS so that I would only have to try to leave town once (*snort* – Dan DOES know me pretty well).   
Surprising to me, I was ready to leave.  Dan is good.  He’s more than ready to live on his own. He doesn’t “need” me on a day-to-day basis. When I left today I wasn’t weepy, well a little.  Mostly I was happy and excited for Dan.  I think he’s going to have a great year.  I am excited to see what he does over the next few years.  
The happy, excited feeling stuck with me during the five-hour drive home.  I will really, really miss Dan and our late night conversations, but I feel confident that he’s ready to be on his own.  It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities open to him.  
Mike is my most favorite husband – of all my husbands.  When I got home, there was a giant bouquet of white daisies (love the daisies) waiting for me.  :::sniff::: He’s definitely a keeper!
(Like I didn’t know that after 21 years, but sometimes he outdoes himself!)

Wow – to think when I started this blog, Dan was a whopping 12 and I was about 25 (grin)!!!!!  He’ll be 19 next weekend.  It’s so weird to feel surprised that our lives (mine and Mike’s) are going to change a lot now too.  Don’t even get me started on Ian and Tim graduating high school this spring.  I don’t think they are going to actually dig a basement to live in.  I think they might be thinking of leaving too.  Yikes.  Everyone pray, cross your fingers, whatever for Andy.  I will have way too much time and energy to focus on him in the coming years. 

I CAN do this . . .

The car is packed. Dan is so excited.  I’m feeling excitement for Dan alternating with feeling weepy for me.  My first baby – my test case – is leaving.  Sure, he’ll come home, but it’s never going to be the same.  We’re planning to leave here around 4:30 or 5:00 am.  Yes, I am going to bed.  I’ll be back tomorrow night.  Wish me luck in not making a scene in front of Dan’s new roommates.  How is this possible?  Aside from that crick in my neck, I don’t feel any older than I did when Dan was born.  And now he’s leaving …  I figure if I can contain myself while I get him unpacked (and make his bed for the first and last time), I can be weepy for the whole drive home, right?  By the time I get back here (4-5 hours), I should have it all out of my system. 

Need help – quick!!!!

OK – the plan was for me to take Dan to Florida State on Saturday, early in the morning.  Plans change.  He can get into his apartment on Thursday.  This will give him a couple of days to look for a job and get settled.  Gah. Fine, but my plan was to give him a notebook with some ree-sypes (what the kids call them) for one.  I have a couple of ideas.  I’m sure you all have more.  No allergies, no aversions to anything.  What did you live on when you were in college?  The good, the bad and the ugly are all welcome.  Any additional tips for someone living on their own the first time would be appreciated as well.  

I KNEW he was leaving.  Something about him leaving two days early is fuh-reaking me out.  He’s really going to go off and live his own life. I know this is what we’ve been working for, but it’s kind of a punch in the face.  It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was calling my mom all freaked out because Danny was taking books to park days and opening and propping open some of the other books and “reading” the books to the characters in the other books that were propped open.  Go figure.  No one beat him up. And, now he’s all living in an apartment and taking classes and having a job and just WHERE does mom fit in??????  (Everyone say I prayer that I don’t turn into the mom on Everybody Loves Raymond)

Hmmm. . .

Dan has been gone for the past few days.  His friend-that-is-a-girl’s parents invited him to join them for part of their vacation at a local beach.  Funny.  The house is so much cleaner since he’s been gone.  I think we’ve pin-pointed the problem of trails of dishes, clothing, and general detrius.  Poor Dan, his re-entry into family life is not going to be easy. The other boys are shocked and awed by how easy it is to keep a bathroom, bedroom,  living room and kitchen clean. 
Still.  I can tell I’m going to miss Danny when he’s gone.  Andy is REALLY going to miss him. I think the timing of Cally the psycho-dog joining our family could not have been better.  She clearly sees Andy as another puppy. Crazy as she is all day long, she follows Andy to bed and they sleep with arms and paws wrapped around each other.  It’s very sweet and I think she’ll be a comfort to Andy when Dan really does leave.
Andy wants to clear the room of all things Danny the minute Dan leaves.  That’s not going to happen, but there is much to clear out.  The boys all share small, small rooms.  Having a room alone is HUGE in this house. I’ve been measuring and mentally rearranging things all week. I still need another 400-500 sq. ft.  If you aren’t using your extra space, please send it here. 
In other news, Andy and I joined our neighbors on Sunday to see Harry Potter AGAIN. Yep. We’ve exhausted the “fun budget” for the summer, but we’re both happy that we spent our money on this. It’s better the second time. I actually cried more the second time around.  Really well done. (imo)
The gardens are officially baked and dead. I’m trying to work up my UMPHHH to get out there and remove the dead stuff and clear out the weeds to make room for a fall garden. Sadly, much of my gardening motivation has been lost because I cannot just stuff an I-pod into my overalls and listen to a fun book while I work. I have killed two I-pods.  The kids can make them work for me but if I have to pause or turn the story off . . . I have to find a kid to restart things.  It’s just too pathetic and needy for me.  Yes, silence and contemplation are good and I just have to embrace those things.  I will.  It might take a little time, though.  I’ve tried the rubber covers, pushing the buttons with a wooden skewer, wearing rubber gloves…. I’m just THAT electric, I guess.  Wish it translated into something income-worthy.
More on stuff you don’t really care about . . . I think I need some locks on my television.  News should most definitely be off limits to me.  It makes me crazy.. I actually have a degree in journalism! So little is news. So much is hype. So much is opinion.  HGTV is another channel that should be locked. I watch it and watch it and think one of two things.  The first thing is “I want to beat up these incredibly spoiled 20-somethings that NEED everything in their first house.”  I hate them.  The second thing is the redecorating aspect of the channel. I like watching the how-to’s and the what-if’s, but I come away depressed and convinced that we live in a hovel.  (We don’t.)  
Okay, let’s end on some happy notes.  Dan has an apartment. Furnished. Reasonably cheap. Yay. I’ll be taking him up to Tallahassee Aug 27.  Woohoo. 
Tonight was BLT night.  Dan is away. Ian was working. Tim was working. Mike had a Scout meeting and Andy was playing until the sun was completely gone.  I made the bacon.  Lots of grease.  I recently picked up a mandolin slicer thingie. I had potatoes.  Yep. BLT’s with homemade potato chips (fried in bacon grease) . . . Oh my. Good stuff.  I sliced up some apples to alleviate the guilt, but, to be honest, there was no real guilt. Even Ian, the resident vegetarian, scarfed up the chips. Mike and I spent some time reminiscing about the “good-old” McDonald’s french fries. 
Okay, that’s all I’ve got for now. It’s scaring me how I become less and less interesting as the boys get older and older.

It’s real.

We found Danny an apartment. He’s really going to just leave us and go to college. My feelings are mixed.  Mostly, I am excited and happy for him, but part of me is already lonely.  I’m going to miss him (and his mess) a lot.  Andy is going to miss him even more.  But, it’s real.  He’s going to leave. 
Such a strange feeling.  In some ways, I’ve been waiting for a couple of years for this.  In other ways, I’m stunned that I have a child this old and this ready to be on his own. The crow’s feet around my eyes are in a crazy battle right now about whether to sway up or down. So far, up is in the lead.
After we found the apartment, Danny casually said, “Well now you (meaning me) know what to get.”  Ummm, hell no.  I’m not going to IKEA alone.  We’ll be spending some quality mother/son time getting him stocked up and ready to leave. Danny wasn’t as excited as I was, but I think it might take some time for the thrill to completely engross him.
In other news, not much to report. The recent, nearly constant, rains have officially killed the big garden. It was going to go anyway as it’s getting too hot here, but we lost a couple of weeks.  My monster grape tomato plant is still going strong, though. I have that planted in my garage-side herb garden.  Best $3.50 I’ve ever spent.  My best guess is that we’ve gotten 20 pints of tomatoes out of that crazy thing.  It’s currently climbing on our ladder, multiple stakes and the backs of a couple of chairs.  Think Little Shop of Horrors.
In the news about people not related to me:
Kate!!!  (The royal one.  You know?  She just married Prince William???) had a bit of an uh-oh moment over the weekend.  Bet Queen Elizabeth was pleased. I bet even Diana wore granny panties.

Less government is a good thing if you ask me.  Given the house in the picture, if you lived in this neighborhood, would you object to what this woman is doing?  Are you opposed to a front yard garden? If you are opposed, odds are you took care to buy a house where there is a homeowner’s association. That way the rules are clear and everyone knows what they can and cannot do.  And everyone living there has agreed to those rules.  This, however, seems more like my own neighborhood.  There’s always the thrill of waking up each morning to see if your neighbor has painted their house pepto-pink.  I have to admit, I prefer this. I don’t think the lady’s garden looks bad, no worse than many unkempt lawns, and it has an actual purpose. What do you all think? I’m sore tempted to plow the front yard . . . muhahahaha

Let’s make some lists! #2 Just living . . .

I’m a slacker – this week has been insane.  I love that the older boys are working, but sharing one car between the four of us?  Not loving it.  Last night we actually made a flow chart to figure out who had to be where and who should drive… it made sense last night, but, like life, it didn’t work out.  Fortunately, the kids are reasonably patient and have learned to travel with a book at all times.  Everyone is home and accounted for now. Tomorrow is equally insane – cross your fingers!!! I like to think we learned from today.

And, now back to my list for sending Danny to college.  I’m calling this list “Just Living.”  I appreciated all of the suggestions on the last list, so PLEASE keep them coming.  

Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Paper Plates (and no, I”m not trying to destroy the planet, just keeping it real)
Laundry Detergent
Laundry basket/hamper thingie
Dishwasher detergent (since all the cool college kids have dishwashers these days)
Dish washing soap
Dish towels
Basic pots and pans
Real dishes
Candles (for power outages and/or romance – mostly power outages – I plan on ugly candles)
Flashlight (see above)
Duct tape – because, well, it’s duct tape
(Okay – I’m going to make school/office supplies a separate post)
SOS pads
A broom/dust pan and mop (depending on where he moves in)’
Scrubbing Bubbles for the bathroom
Toilet Brush
Light Bulbs

Good lord, this is getting expensive! I’m tired and I think I’m forgetting a lot of stuff. I had forgotten what it’s like to start with nothing.  Yikes!  More lists to come.