"Not all those who wander are lost" J.R.R. Tolkien

Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, #2!

Today is #2's birthday.  You might think that having a birthday this side of Christmas would help to alleviate some of the seasonal antsy-ness that most kids succumb to.

You might be wrong.

As soon as the calendar rolled over into December, this kid has been a stressed mess.  Sticky notes in various sizes, colours and editions have been appearing by my bedside for several months, including order of desire and cost at Target with his father's discount factored in.  Always an early riser, he has been seeing the dark, dark side of the morning for a couple of weeks now.

You can see from the stack of 3 (count 'em) gifts that we do not go crazy at birthdays or Christmas.  The top package is from his big brother, paid for out of his own money.  We don't schedule dozens of holiday events.  We don't shop for dozens of people.  We watch Christmas movies and listen to lots of Christmas music.  We have a basket of Christmas books we haul out every year and re-read.  We have suppers with friends.  We try to keep a peaceful and hopeful Advent season.

No matter how calm we try to keep life, #2 cannot stand the wait.  I think this is normal of any kid but when you add Christmas right on the heels of a birthday . . .

Today dawned grey and wet.  Luckily, no asteroid/meteor/apocalypse struck or we would have had one distraught birthday boy!  Tops on his list this year was a crossbow.  What on earth would an urban kid do with a crossbow?  For starters, he has his eyes on the escaped-but-domesticated rabbit living on the empty property across the street and the feral cats that roam freely in herds.  Clearly, we couldn't give this crazy kid a real crossbow so we did the next best thing.

Bass Pro did not fail us in a scaled down, NERF type crossbow that shoots foam darts 60 feet.  But you have to have a target, right?  Enter a small, inflatable buck complete with a decent rack and a velcro target over his heart and you have two boys spending most of the day in the back yard pretending to be Great White Hunters.  We only paused to have a Sushi lunch, as per a sticky note request, and to make birthday Cream Puffs, as per another sticky note.

We've had a quiet but a good day and I suspect he may sleep a little more soundly tonight.  Or do I mean, I hope?

Ah yes, the annual birthday photo-in-your-underwear-because-you're-too-excited-for-clothes!

I'm not sure why he is wearing Don's military issue, Icelandic parka!

This will see us through the long winter, I'm sure!

Even Don had to give it a try.

Bringing home the meat.
Birthday Cream Puffs.
Don't look at the chocolate -  I didn't get it tempered properly
but it didn't stop anyone from eating them!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Worst?

Today I am reminded of Shakespeare (the Bard, this time, and not my neurotic dog) who said in King Lear:

"The worst is not
So long as we can say,
'This is the worst.'"

I wonder when one know that the worst is actually the worst.

We were dealt the death blow by the US Navy today.  I arrived home from a long day working for my lunatic boss, who is convinced that by having the internet we are at risk for people hacking into our dental files.  Never mind that we don't accept credit/debit cards of any kind and the only personal information we keep on the computer is possibly (but not always since we don't require them) a social security number.

The look on Donald's face was not good but then, given our particular circumstances, not exactly unusual either.  He handed me a letter and I saw the certified envelope in which the devastating missive had arrived.

Let me preface.  When last I blogged, Donald was on his way Bremerton, WA to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.  Her notes indicate that while he is showing some improvement, her recommendation was that he continue as before and come back in a year.  Remember, when Donald was medically retired in 2010 we were told he would have five years to remain as such before he was formally re-evaluated.  He has been officially retired 1 year and 355 days.

Back to the letter.  A team of three 06's (read:  high ranking and important) decided that he no longer had PTSD or a major depressive disorder.  He only suffers from anxiety but as such is unfit for duty and can no longer receive his retirement pay, his health insurance or commissary/exchange privileges.

Merry Christmas, Lieutenant Twist.

Oh, and he has fifteen days to sign the letter and return it to the powers that be.

I wonder if these 06's know what it is like to live with someone who may or may not speak to anyone in the family for weeks on end.  Someone who can barely get out of bed some days.  Someone who, after giving everything at work, has zero to give at home.  But what do I know?  I'm not a doctor or a high ranking military officer.  Empirical evidence is obviously of low import to the "experts."

Yes, we can appeal.  But we've been there, done that and Do Not want another t-shirt.  Two appeals and one official hearing before the Washington Navy Yard.  Nearly ten, emotionally exhausting months upon the Navy Roller Coaster of Not So Much Fun.

So.  We looked at each other in sadness and said, "Is this it?  All those years?  For what?  To be injured and just released?"  We agreed we cannot go through the appeals process again.  It was too much the first time.  The Navy will give us a small severance and we are going to take it.  The money, while not large enough to be worth the damage, will be helpful in small ways.

Then, this will all be over.  A beautiful Naval career cut short by an unforeseen injury, one brief day in which my husband went to work and came home an entirely different person, changing our family 180 degrees.  It seems small but it broke my heart when he said to me tonight, "I can't even keep the title Retired anymore.  They'll even take that honor away from me."

LT Donald Twist, USN CHC, you faithfully served God, Country and your Family.  "You don't need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy (belated) Halloween!

Another sugar fueled Halloween has come and gone and with it, the two year anniversary of the blog.  And, by default, the two year anniversary of being out of the Navy.  Except that we've recently discovered, we sort of aren't.

Let me esplain.  No, let me sum up.  (Princess Bride, anyone?)

Donald is on temporary retirement for five years, at the end of which he will be reevaluated as to whether or not he goes on permanent retirement.  He's been diligent about jumping through the yearly hoops, seeing mental health and tracking with his meds.  About a month ago, the Navy called.


Two years and not a peep but when they call and say you need a full physical and mental evaluation, asap, you really have no choice.  Furthermore, when they refuse to accept either your local doctor or the doctors at the VA, you have no choice but to haul yourself to the nearest naval facility.

Does the Navy not realize that Oregon has a VA hospital but not a single naval installation?  Going to the army hospital at Ft Lewis, WA wasn't good enough either.  Absolutely had to be the hospital at Bremerton, WA where his complete breakdown originally happened.  Oh, goodie.  Let's stir up the PTSD pot, shall we?

So, Donald complied, staying in Bremerton less than twenty four hours.  And really, we aren't even sure why it was necessary or what will come of it.

Happier topic:  I thought I would post photos of the boys from last night.  #1 did a reprise of the Headless Horseman, last seen in Portsmouth, VA.  He had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction while trick or treating (apparently not being able to see ruins the fun just a tad) so he came home to hand out candy with me.

I tried to convince him that I could nip up to the attic for the costume box we've lugged all around the world.  The conversation went like this:

"You could wear my coconut shells and my grass skirt!  It would be hilarious.  Come on, just Do It!"

He turned very slowly to me and said, "Yeah, that would be really funny.  But my DIGNITY is worth more than a sucker!"

Have I mentioned that I love this kid?  This is what I get for trying to talk him into being a transvestite hula dancer!

#2 went as a Werewolf, which only got as elaborate as a mask.  But hey, I am not into spending a gajillion dollars on costumes worn once.  I try to emphasize the creativity aspect of Halloween.  After searching dozens of youtube videos to make our own wolf costume, we discovered that a.  the most authentic one was worthy of Hollywood and took over 300 hours and hundreds of dollars to make and b.  gluing hair all over my sensitive skinned kid was probably not a great idea.  He actually had the nerve to roll his eyes at me when I suggested he just draw a werewolf on a brown paper bag!  So, we bought a mask and that's as far as that went!  He insisted on carrying a pillowcase after hearing about childhood stories fed to him by his father and he came back with a serious load of candy.  I don't know if I should be embarrassed or glad that I work part time for a dentist!  And he was a little disappointed to find out he would be sharing with his brother.  Oh, the agony of living with unreasonable parents!

Savor that tea!


Why does this photo frighten me?

Pretty relaxed for being headless!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My parents finally made the loooooong schlep from Wyoming to Oregon and back again this past week.  Donald was gone for school but the boys and I had a great time showing them our little stretch of the Valley (as they say at the Willamette Valley Vineyard:  "It's Willamette, Dammit!").  They got a decent taste of Salem, including our favorite beer and burger joint, Boon's Treasury, as well as an overnight at Cannon Beach, the Tillamook Cheese factory and a soccer game that was half downpour and half sunshine.  Typical weather this time of year.  There being only pine trees and cottonwoods in Wyoming, my mom was understandably in raptures over our  beautiful kaleidoscope of fall colors.

It's been nearly two years since we've seen them and I think they were slightly startled to find that #1 is almost taller than them and #2 is not far behind.  They were concerned that the adult sized University of Wyoming sweatshirts would be too big.  They took one look at the boys and their appetites and soon realized there was nothing to worry about.  And, being parents, they insisted on helping me redo the cracked and leaking breezeway roof between our school room and the house.  Okay, so Bill did it with my mom instructing from the ground and I ran back and forth to Home Depot and kept everyone supplied with  food and adult beverages.  I know how to keep my workers happy!  Thanks, again, Bill!

Farmer Denise with a sick Cow

Oh No - it's the "I'm nearly a Teenager Mug!"

Only an Oregon cheese factory uses a VW bus!

Haystack Rock.  Remember the Goonies?  Filmed just north of here.

Aw, young love.

Seems like a lot of bottles and glasses on that table. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nailed It!

If only I would be more faithful in blogging I wouldn't find myself playing catch up.  Of course, it would also help if I were more "techie" and new how to scan photos (and then find them again!) into my computer.

So the above photo is a super cool, framable x-ray of the latest Twist family emergency room visit.  A couple of Friday's ago the boys were having a water fight in the backyard.  Fairly benign and a great way to cool off during an Oregon heat wave, which is anything above 85 degrees.  Feeling victorious at having dumped a bunch of water over his brother, #2 did a primeval jump in the air and landed on a random, sticking-straight-up-in-the-grass, six penny nail.  

We had no building projects going on.  Our backyard has been water fight central for many boys over the course of the summer.  No one has ever even seen a nail.  Yet, somehow, #2 managed to not just step on what may be the only nail in the yard but jump on it, driving it all the way into his heel bone.  If you look carefully at the entry point of the nail you'll see the skin of his heel dimpled in.  The nail is solid in the bone.  

#1 was the one who raced into the house with the information because #2 was on his hands and knees, yelling.  And, sadly, swearing.  I had a little chat with my spouse about that part!  My first inclination, as always, was to waffle about the severity of the injury.  I really thought I could just pull it out.  So, poor #2 is still on his hands and knees, soaking wet, covered in grass and his father and I are calmly discussing what course of action to take.  

Donald finally decided to carry #2 inside while I phoned the ER who told us to definitely leave it in.  When we arrived at the ER, wet and grassy, we were met with a wheel chair which #2 LOVED!  They put us on a fast track, which meant three hours instead of six, apparently.  He was started immediately on IV antibiotics because the doctor, who took one look and knew the nail was in the bone, was worried about bone infection.  They did x-rays and started an IV sedative and pain med and, after a three hour wait, the doctor took a pair of standard pliers from a tool kit and yanked out the nail.  Just about 1/2 a second!  I seriously could have done that.  And with the way #2 got nauseous from the sedative/pain med, he informed me that he wished it would have been done without the drugs since it was so fast.  This is also the same kid, at age 5, who denied having his head numbed before receiving staples because it was one less poke.  Aaah, a child after my own heart.  Just get it over and done and stop mucking about with my insides, I always say!

By noon the next day he was thoroughly disgusted and bored with being sore and swollen and basically couch bound.  I finally gave in and let him watch an obscene amount of Netflix cartoons.  You'd think that a nail in the calcaneus would keep you limping for days but not him.  Within three days he was walking normally.  We went camping the following weekend with several families and he was running and being as wild as normal.  Oh, to heal like a child!

On a different note, I finished the novel at the end of July and spent the first few weeks of this month editing.  It's amazing to print out 325 pages of your own original work.  It's also a very large stack of paper to keep from blowing around the house whenever someone turns on a fan.  I have a working title but I'm not married to it and am still trying to come up with something better.  I've begun sending query letters to publishers which is basically like baiting a hook with a fat, juicy worm.  I'm just hoping to find a hungry publisher!  And while we're on the topic, don't you think a trip to England for a cover shoot is something that could be a tax write off?  Not that I can afford to go.  Yet.  I'm just dreaming . . . 

And now I'm off to get an Oregon driver license!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shameless Advertising (Reprise)

I've done it before and I'm doing it again.  This is the motorhome for which we traded our 5th wheel.  We love it but would love being debt free even more!  If you know anyone interested . . . 

PS:  The Mini is NOT for sale!!

Obviously, the back!

Large slide out on this side.

Couch folds flat.  Slide is not even out and there's tons of room.

Dinette folds flat as well.

The bathroom is large enough to host a party!
Whole wall of cubbies and wardrobe space.

Queen size bedroom, nightstands are brilliant!
Tons of storage above and below the bed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'm beginning to think that Twists and Turns was a propitious choice of name.  While the blog started out with a singularly specific intent it has evolved along multiple rabbit trails.  I mean, really, where else can you find a blog about full time RV travel, home buying and home renovating, vintage cars, neurotic Weimaraners and PTSD?  This blog is a veritable cornucopia of information!

I've been thinking about PTSD lately and that I should maybe fill in some blanks with regard to my husband.  It seems like we've become a normal American family busy with jobs, school, sports and church.  I haven't written about PTSD in a long time because honestly, I forget about it.  Chronic depression is not something I want to dwell on for any length of time.  It comes and goes and the three non-depressed family members live our lives around it, accommodating when we can and moving forward despite it when we can't.  It doesn't rule us and thankfully, its presence is usually short lived compared to the old days.  After all, Donald is now employed as well as a full time student.

But it ain't easy.

For instance.  On Saturdays, after I run and after Donald makes pancakes, we bicycle to the Salem Saturday Farmer's Market just to have coffee and to buy whatever produce and cheese catches our fancy.  Blissfully, we are now able to leave the boys at home to watch Netflix cartoons in their underwear.  This past Saturday we had a beautiful sunny morning and we enjoyed ourselves at the Market.  Then we decided to go pick up the motorhome because the dealer was fixing a few minor things.  By the time we came home, Donald was done in and had to go to bed.

At 11:30 am.

I get really frustrated when he goes to bed in the middle of the day because we're not talking a 15 minute power nap here.  The only thing that gets him back up is that he has to go to work.  Sometimes I get downright angry, other times I do a lot of heavy sighing and eye rolling.  This past Saturday I was actually well behaved and didn't say anything until he woke up.  When I asked him why he went to bed he explained that his depression was cycling through since picking up the RV.  So I asked him to pinpoint why.  Turns out the dealer and the DMV have messed up our license and it's not taken care of yet.

No big deal, right?  In a normal family this is an inconvenient hiccup.  Not in our family.  Inexplicably, this is the type of thing that sends Donald over the edge and straight into bed.  Honestly, don't try to think it through or rationalize.

Trust me.  I've tried.

This is where I find my lack of patience an extremely unfortunate character flaw.  It's my Achille's heel.   I'm not compassionate in the best of circumstances and even less so when confronted with the same old thing, day after day, for nearly five years.  Sometimes I do okay but other days I'm a horrible companion to the man I swore to love in sickness and in health.   I wonder at God's sense of humour;  I'm positive He has one.  "Oh, yes, let's give the least compassionate woman on the planet to the man who is going to need bushels and bushels of it!"

Still, here we are, warts and all and just glad that we are given a new 24 hour period as a do-over for the previous one.

And it's not all bad.  Donald is being promoted for the second time in less than a year at Target; he is moving out of security and into a senior leadership position while being groomed for an executive position back in the security department for the coming spring.  His confidence level is not what it used to be but I see his potential and, maybe more importantly (because he doesn't listen to what I say!) so do the folks he works for.  He's excited about the new position but also nervous.

He's also performing a wedding for a Navy shipmate the end of this month and he's nervous about anything to do with ministry.  He'll be fine and it's a fairly low-key affair, as far as wedding go.  He's also been hard at work on his dissertation and I'm very proud of him because he is not the scholarly type, never has been and never will be, and this puts him a year ahead of schedule.  Really big deal for a lifelong procrastinator.

Just another Twist and Turn from my end of the world!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Since I dropped the bombshell about writing my first novel I thought it would be appropriate to perhaps give an update on the process.  First of all, I began March 21 and since then have written 21 chapters and 260 pages.  That, in itself, far surpasses my dissertation and feels like a heck of an accomplishment.  Come to think of is, it's been a heck of a lot more fun than my dissertation!  Marginally less research though, which, for me, is never work. Geek is not skin deep with me; it goes clear to the bone.

If I could sum up the writing process in one word (and I can because this is my post!) it would have to be:  Surprise.  Everything about writing this story has been a surprise.  What I am about to reveal is going to sound certifiably crazy; I recognise this and, after coming to grips with it, I'm now quite comfortable with it.  Here is my dirty, little secret:  these people are real.  They talk to me (only in my head, duh!); I dream about them; I wake up at 2 in the morning with ideas and have to get up immediately and write.  They say and do things while I'm writing that I never planned for them to say and do.

What, you say?  How is this possible when I'm the author?  My response:  I have absolutely no idea.  But I tell you true.  I recently introduced a new character to the story with just the barest notion of her purpose.  I wrote a full paragraph describing her without once stopping to consider what I was writing and now I'm twiddling with the notion of a second novel with her at the center.  I have pictured particular scenes and then when read over what I had written I discovered everyone did what they wanted to do and I was utterly charmed with the results.  Hopefully some publisher will be equally charmed and offer me an obscenely amazing contract!

The story is set at the end of World War II in one of my favourite villages in northern England.  It's definitely a love story (never my genre of choice so another huge surprise) but there is heartbreak, huge life choices to make, a poisoning mystery, a lot of history and a blue Great Dane named Keeper.  The characters are people who say and think things that depict, I hope, real life in a real time, which means mistakes are made and life is far from perfect but they have to learn to change, grow, and maybe even love again.  Keeper has to learn that shuttlecocks are not his special chasing privilege.

I leave with you my protagonist's musings about returning to her childhood home after five years at war and after her husband has left her for a French woman.  This a vulnerable thing to do but I'm interested to hear thoughts and/or similar writing experiences.  (Someone please tell me I'm not alone in the universe!)

          Oldfields had been a lovely place to grow up.  Aside from its fabulous proximity just west of the Pennine Moor, a fantastic place for a ramble, on a clear day from the back gardens one could just see the purple heathered Penistone Hill, from which one could walk to Top Withens, long thought to be Emily Bronte’s inspiration for Wuthering Heights.  Liz loved everything about the Yorkstone constructed country house, especially the way its appearance altered according to light and shadows as well as the weather.  During an early summer sunrise the traditional rusty red and brown stones blushed shades of pink and deep mauve; if the day should darken into a thunderstorm, those same stones appeared darkened and stained as though by the Viking blood that was the genealogical inheritance of most of Yorkshire’s long time residents.  Yellowish inside, Yorkstone has concretion lines of orange running through the stone, only seen after an experienced delver rives it in two, thus, during a sunset, many times the house smouldered in a blaze of fiery colours.  Liz was astonished at how often the inorganic stone seemed to breathe and change across the moods of a day, as beautiful as its surroundings of living flora and fauna.

            Yorkstone was also liberally used to divide the pastures, surround the garden and hedge off the drive.  The massive, dry stone walls had been present for hundreds of years and Liz marvelled at the half-moon capstones of yellow sitting as sentries on the top of the wall, silently keeping watch over Oldfields, aglow in the moonlight.  As a little girl, on bright, sleepless nights, Liz would lean out her open window trying to count each capstone, losing count and starting again, until the seemingly never ending wall drifted out of sight in the encroaching darkness.
          It was good to be home, a place Liz missed deeply and loved fiercely.  Perhaps more importantly, it was a place where she was loved fiercely in return.  Such a haven is exactly where one takes a broken heart, broken not so much for what Liz had lost in her faithless husband but for the dreams she harboured of her future.  At Oldfields, Liz would find rest, and, sustained by serenity, support and fresh, moorland air, she would heal. 

So, no idea why the last paragraph won't double space and it won't let me fix it even though I cut and pasted directly from the book.  It's sending my perfectionist tendencies into overdrive so I'm going to walk away and feed my family now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's been brought to my attention by various means that I have been seriously neglectful of the blog.  Honestly, what can I say?  Starting blog because you are planning a yearlong RV trip and want to keep everyone informed and hopefully entertained is purposeful.  Continuing the same blog when the RV trip is done and you've bought a house just doesn't seem exciting.  Not enough alligators, breakdowns, lack of hot water and sewer hoses spewing over your spouse, I guess.

Not that I'm complaining about the sewer hose thing!

I suppose the purpose of this post is to play catch up once again.  I'll feel like a more responsible blogger to my (20???) followers if I tell you what we've been up to and post the photos my mom has been asking for.  I'm such a good girl!

So, for starters, I got a job.  A real live job where I wear a dress sometimes.  And heels.  Don't get shocked; it's just Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I'm doing bookkeeping and general reception for a tiny, old fashioned dental practice here in Salem.  Really old fashioned.  No fax, email or internet.  I actually print out the billing statements and seal and stamp them the way we did in the good old days.  Apparently the practice just graduated from an appointment book to a computer system in the last few years.

Shucks.  I would have loved pencilling in appointments!  There is just one dentist who does her own cleanings.  No hygienist.  There is an assistant who helps with the surgical stuff.  And me.  The job fell in my lap in an odd way.  I met the dentist through a mutual friend back in February; we spent about two hours together but didn't really hit it off.  For who knows what reason, when her bookkeeper resigned, she sent me an email asking if I wanted the job.  Truly bizarre.  When the email came, I didn't even remember who she was!  I asked her why me and she literally said, "I wanted someone I didn't know."

Okay.  Really weird but it is good to get out of the house and make a little money.  Don arranged his schedule to be home on those days so he is doing school with the boys.  That's also a big change because I'm learning that usually school doesn't get done the way I would do it, but it does actually get done.  I just have to take a big breath and let it go.

We were sports crazy this spring with weekly swimming and nightly soccer/basketball practices.  Back to back games on Saturdays but we really loved it.  We've reached a time of life where our Saturdays are devoted to whatever the boys have going on but actually enjoy it.  It must be my previous life as a cheerleader (how on earth did I ever do that?) but I absolutely cannot watch a game quietly.  I'm nice, not a crazy critical, screaming parent.  But I'm sure noisy!

Another new development is the discovery that with all the sports going on and having pre-teen boys, our food bill has skyrocketed.  There is just not enough food in the house, according to them.  It's astounding what they can put away and still be hungry.  Just another new phase of our lives!

A big change has been the acquisition of a class A motorhome.  Our 5th wheel has been on consignment since December and we got rid of our pickup shortly after.  The RV was generating zero interest so we decided if we have to owe money on something ridiculously useless, we may has well have something useful.   We were able to trade straight across for a 2000 Four Winds Infinity (35 foot).  We took her out this past week for her maiden voyage and had a great time discovering one of Oregon's state parks.  Having found out that as a disabled vet Donald can camp for free, we plan on getting familiar with as many state parks as we can until we can (please, God) sell this RV.

Maybe the last big news is that I've decided to write a book.  I'm a little hesitant to say that because it's one thing to do a blog.  A full blown novel is such an entirely different story (HA! -- get it?).  Many people have told me to write about the whole PTSD thing and I've tried.  Truly.  But it just gets depressing.  I think I need another decade or two for emotional cushioning.  However, in March an idea literally just wandered into my head and I started writing.  And writing.  And writing.  It's become a bit obsessive, actually.  I hear the characters in my head all the time and sometimes they say and do things on paper that I never imagined.  I have about 100 pages so far; I started chapter 9 this morning.  I find myself feeling impatient, the way I do with a book I'm reading and I want to know what happens but I don't want it to end.  It's a bit the same with writing.  I want to know what happens, because I don't have it all worked out yet but I know I'll be sad when the whole thing is finished because the characters are becoming real to me, having lived with them for several months now.  Sounds crazy, I know!  Feels crazy to say it!  Anyway, my brother-in-law encouraged me to use the blog as a platform for the book so maybe there will be excerpts along the way.

Now, I'll get on to the photos.  We cut down every tree we had because they were hideous eyesores or one windstorm away from being an insurance liability.  I've been busy gardening and repainting my kitchen walls and floor.  Both turned out remarkably lovely, if I do say so myself.  Sadly, we forgot the camera at every sporting event we attended this spring, so none of #1 and #2 in action!  Aside from cutting down trees, we tore out the last of the carpet to discover some really beautiful wood that needs some professional refinishing and the boys and I ripped out three layers of linoleum in the kitchen in order to redo the floor myself.  What I thought would be a few hours project turned into four twelve hour days and some very, very sore muscles.  You decide if the finished floor is worth it!

There used to be six trees along this fence.  The stump of the huge maple was fashioned into a throne of sorts!  And yes, redoing the fence is this month's budgeted project.

My Craigslist find, a 10 x 10 gazebo-turned garage.
Too bad there is now a 35 foot motorhome in this spot!

The new wood in dire need of help but oh-so-much-better than the nasty carpet.

My friend had a surprise 40th in May and I did a half sheet cake. . .

. . .almost 100 fairy cakes. . . 

. . . and four dozen regular cupcakes.

That same weekend, while tied to the kitchen making and decorating cakes  . . .

I decided I may as well paint.  Crimson . . .

and Brown Bread.  Countertops are in the near future, too!

The boys' creation from leftover homemade fondant.

And then #2 woke up 3 weeks ago and wanted a David Beckham haircut!

Ripping out 3 layers of lino.

It took a whole day just to eliminate the green paper backing from the bottom layer.

Then there were all the tacks and nails to rip out!

First coat of Brown Bread.

The squares took another whole day of measuring, masking,  and painting.  My knees were killing me!

Less than $100 and I have a brand new floor!  Nice, right?