Compulsive hoarding is a mental disorder that is just beginning to be understood. As a hoarder, I have acquired things over the years with a specific purpose in mind at the time of the acquisition, used some of those items for their intended purposes, forgotten the goal for different objects, but now that I find that they have outlived their purpose in my life I am struggling to rid myself of those same things.

You can read the start of my journey here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

We interupt this regularly scheduled post...

The Hubster has a lot of books. Maybe not as many as some, and certainly not as many as his dream library would hold, but he still has close to 1000 books. Maybe more. And we are trying to figure out a place for him to put them all where he will have access to them when he wants to read them instead of having them stored in boxes.

We did find a solid oak entertainment center on Craigslist several months ago that we have in the workout room to be used as a bookshelf. Several weeks ago, I cut extra shelves to put in the cubby areas of the unit, so the space for books within the unit was tripled. However, there's a little space to the right side of the bookshelf that's empty. A space that could ideally hold a lot of books. The area is only about 12" deep from the edge of the bookcase to the wall but almost 3' from the back wall to the edge of the door, so we'd really like to utilize that space.

We considered several different options like: hanging shelves on the wall to accommodate more books, just stacking books back in the empty space between the wall and the bookshelf and maybe adding a skinny tower bookcase in the empty space leading up to the door, or we could just use it to store the vacuum cleaner or something. However, we came up with a different solution.

Last year, when we were thinking that we were going the route of shelves on the wall, we got some solid oak shelves that were not quite 3' long and 12" wide on Craigslist for $5 each. We wouldn't have been able to have gotten those laminated shelves they sell at the home improvement stores for that price, and they would warp anyway. So they were a good price, and we picked up some for this project and a few others for me to use in my craft area.

However, we realized that putting the shelving on the wall wasn't ideal. First of all, we didn't want to hang the shelves without studs, but the area is so narrow that there would only be one stud we could use for shelf supports. The other would be hung on drywall with drywall anchors, and there would be a chance of the shelves being heavy enough after we added the books, that they would pull the brackets out of the walls. So we weren't willing to take that chance.

We recently came up with a solution that we think is perfect.

We bought a couple of 6' long 1"x10" pine shelves, some heavy duty casters that can take some weight and still roll freely, and a metal handle that can fold out of the way. We will be making a bookcase that we can roll back into the empty space between the wall and the edge of the bookcase. It will have a handle to make it easy to pull it out to access the books toward the back, and the handle will fold out of the way, so it's not sticking out for us to bump into.

Today, I got the shelves cut down to the appropriate size, since they were just a couple of inches too long and too wide. The top and bottom will be fixed, and we'll likely have one fixed shelf toward the middle of the bookcase, but the rest will be adjustable. The problem was trying to get the holes to line up so the shelves would be level. They would not only have to line up front to back but also side to side.

I knew there had to be some sort of a jig or template to drill holes for this type of situation, but they were definitely worth more than we wanted to pay. Today, I found the perfect solution, and it didn't cost a thing. I was able to clamp a piece of pegboard tightly onto each piece of the pine shelves and drilled rows of holes that will be perfectly level from front to back on each piece and from side to side when they're assembled to hold the adjustable shelves.

We've really had a problem remembering to keep both batteries for the drill charged, so we can use them for bigger projects. And you wouldn't think this would be a big project, but it was. One battery was completely charged, and the other had about half it's charge left. We were barely able to drill all of the holes before both batteries were dead. So we're charging the batteries tonight, so we have them available for putting the thing completely together in the next few days. I'll post pictures when we're done with it.

Right now, I'm going to bed. I should have been asleep hours ago, but poor Scooter woke up with gastrointestinal difficulties that resulted in needing her needing showered, her clothes bleached and her bed stripped of all bedding. The worst load of laundry has been finished, but thankfully the other 2 can wait until tomorrow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Swirling thoughts aren't necessarily rambling.

I sit here tonight with words swirling in my head not knowing where to start. I want to be able to talk about how I was affected by hoarding growing up, but I want to do it with respect for those in my life who have tendencies towards hoarding. So I'll work on it when I can and probably think about it for awhile before I push the publish button.

I was able to be a bit productive today in spite of the back spasms that have been bothering me for the last several days. I was able to get 2 full coats of paint on the cubbies that will go above the stove and refrigerator in the kitchen. I'm using latex paint on them, so it dries much more quickly than the oil based paint does. I think I may still need to paint one final coat tomorrow, but I'm thrilled that they'll be done, and I'll be able to get stuff put where it goes very soon.

I'm not really satisfied with how the baskets we bought last year to go in the cubbies fit, but we'll use them for now. Eventually, I'll likely replace them with something that fits better and use the baskets I currently have elsewhere. In the post I linked to above, I commented about how it's harder to build a box than it may seem. At least for us. And there really were only two ways we could build this. They both had their downfalls. We had to choose one and get started on it, so I didn't take the opportunity to really think it through like I should have before we started.

We could either put the back on in between the top and bottom boards, or we could put it in behind them. We put it in between. However, the back takes up about 3/4" of space that the baskets needed to fit properly front to back this way. As a result, the larger baskets hang over the edge of the cubbies about 1/2". If we'd have done it the other way, it would have taken space out of the height of the cubbies. If I'd have thought about it a little more clearly, I would have done it the later way, so the baskets would fit more properly, but we can live with it like this for awhile.

We didn't do a perfect job on the cubbies, but we did well enough that we'll be able to live with it. Up close, I can see all the imperfections that would normally drive me insane. But we won't be up close to these on a regular basis, because they will hang above the stove and refrigerator in place of the cabinets we tore down. They won't be viewed up close, and they'll likely look just fine from a distance. I can live with that.

The Hubster took care of some problems we were having with the tarps on the back porch, today, too. The strings and duct tape weren't holding them at the top quite as securely as we were hoping, so they allow for a lot of leaves to blow in when the wind picks up. He put some hooks through the grommets and attached them to the metal awning of the porch. It made all the difference in the world. I'm feel so fortunate to have a workshop I can use to finish up on projects over the next few months!

I was able to get a couple loads of laundry done today, too, so I feel satisfied to have accomplished as much as I did today. Often, when my back is spasming like it was today, I can't seem to get anything done. So I won't complain about today's accomplishments.

I'll take what I can get.

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's all in the genes?

I know it's been said there might be a genetic component to hoarding. That at the very least, it does appear to run in some families. Whether it be a learned behavior, it's in the DNA, or it's a combination of the two, there is definitely hoarding in my family. But just because a person has a predisposition to alcoholism, drug addiction, hoarding or the like, it doesn't mean a person should just surrender and say, "There's nothing I can do about it, so I'm not going to fight the urge, and I'm just going to allow it to control me and use it as an excuse for everything that's wrong in my life." So I will continue to fight with every breath that is within me to get through this dehoarding process. I don't want to leave a mess for my husband and children to have to deal with and fight their way through when I am someday gone.

My grandmother was a hoarder. She was an antique dealer, and she owned gorgeous pieces over the years. But she also had a difficult time getting rid of useless things and often lumped some of her best pieces in boxes that also contained clothes, both dirty and clean, dirty dishes, newspapers, brand new towels, mail, jewelry and curlers as well as the occasional dried out piece of dog poop. Each box seemed more horrifying than the next, and we would literally just shake our heads in disbelief, as we'd try to make sense of her thought process as we filled trash bags and sorted through boxes of stuff.

Several of us, usually aunts, cousins, my mom and I would get together and go as fast as we could to clean as thoroughly as we could, so she could have people over for the holidays. We would spend several days cleaning, sorting, and purging as much as we could get through before her out of town company would show up for the holidays. We would do what we could to make her guests feel comfortable, but we were in it alone. She would sit in her chair with a cup of coffee often looking off into space, sometimes engaging some of us in conversation or answering the occasional question.

She would have bags upon bags of unopened things that she'd gotten for gifts for her kids, grandchildren or great grandchildren that sat waiting to be wrapped and sent off to her loved ones. There were scores of items she'd picked up at garage sales or thrift stores and lots of gift wrap that never seemed to be put away. There was just tons of stuff everywhere.

I wasn't there for any of the last holiday scrambles where we'd gather to clean, as we lived several states away, but I'll never forget what it was like. It was hard to catch your breath, because the air was always thick with the smell of rotting food, dog poop and urine, since the dogs had free reign of the house and frequently used the floor as their personal restroom. We'd occasionally find maggots and mold in the rotting food in the kitchen, and there were always moths of some sort in the canisters of flour or in the tins of cookies.

Needless to say, we didn't eat anything at her house unless we brought it or prepared it from fresh food we opened ourselves. We went through the cupboards each and every time and emptied out all the old food and the bulging cans. And we thoroughly washed and dried every canister in the house before replacing the flour, sugar and other baking goods. We cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer, bleached all of it out, so it was nice and clean, and then went shopping to get fresh groceries, so she'd have something to eat.

Once all the major cleaning was done, and we'd vacuumed as well as possible, we'd shampoo the carpet. At some point, someone talked her into getting a carpet cleaner. We'd scrub the carpet until the water came out as clear as possible. We'd use a commercial carpet shampoo like are used in restaurants to get some really heavy duty stains out, and it helped tremendously. I don't think we ever cleaned the carpet with fewer than 5 passes per section, and even though we would try to get to the point that the water that we were extracting from the carpet came out clear, a dull gray was as close as we ever got.

I know that toward the end, many of her issues stemmed from her age. She was over 100 years old when she died, and she lived alone well into her 90s. She'd had several mini strokes over the years, so it was harder for her to keep things up, and she probably should have been in a home years before she was. But the hoarding started decades before the incidents which I write about happened. Horrific and indescribably atrocious things happened to her when she was a little girl, and I'm sure much of her mental illnesses stemmed from those things. I don't feel at liberty to discuss them here, but I honestly don't know how anyone could be 'normal' after going through what she endured.

I have no doubt that my grandmother's house would look like those on the hoarding shows, if we didn't intervene on occasion. It still took no time at all for things to pile back up and for the carpet to need to be scrubbed again. I'm in no way condoning the way she kept house, but knowing some of the things that happened to her as a child I can understand where the mental illness began and that this was her way of somehow trying to maintain control over her life. It was a coping mechanism that failed her.

I'm hoping that by recognizing the tendencies I have to hoard, like my grandmother did, and consciously choosing to address those tendencies on a daily basis, that I'll never fall into the trap that so tightly ensnared my grandmother.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hi Ho. Hi Ho.

It was a bit too cold to work outside on the painting today. The weather wasn't too cold to actually paint. It was too cold for me to be out there. The cold makes my back spasm. So I decided to work inside today.

I got a couple loads of laundry done and got caught up on the dishes. Well, almost. There are a few dishes that wouldn't fit in the dishwasher, so I'll stick them in tomorrow. Or I'll just handwash them. I'm not sure. The only thing I am sure of is that I'll be doing them tomorrow and not bothering with them tonight. I've been busy with other things.

Several days ago, I decided I was going to rearrange the furniture in the living room, but then things came up, so I put it off. I've been working on it for the last several hours. I've been cleaning and dusting along the way, so what I have gotten done looks nice. I even took the Swiffer to the top edge of the wall and the ceiling to take care of any cobwebs that were haning around, and it looks so much better. However, the couch and loveseat still have stuff piled on them that I need to go through. A lot of it is just Scooter's stuff that she tends to pile, and there's some of Hopper's stuff, too, but some of it just stuff I need to go through. DVDs that are out of place. Little bits of Christmas stuff that never actually found their way to the rightful box when the decorations were put away. Just. You know. Stuff.

I moved the fireplace to the wall perpendicular to where it had been and moved the couch to where the fireplace had been, and I switched the lamps around, so now there's light in ever corner of the living room, instead of having one dark corner. It's much easier on these old, tired eyes. It looks good. I like that there will be plenty of room for the Christmas tree on either side of the fireplace. We'll have to move a lamp and a plant out of the way, but we should be able to get it up without much of a problem.

I'm just glad I'm getting a good start on the holiday cleaning now. It will make it so much easier to not have to rush around and do deep cleaning right before Thanksgiving or Christmas or even right before the surgery. I hate waiting until the last minute to do the cleaning, and yet it seems as though that's what I've done ever year in recent memory. It makes the holidays exhausting and not as fun as they should be. I'm looking forward this year being different.

I will likely try to get the curtains washed before my surgery, if I can. I hate dusty curtains, and I try to wash them at least twice a year, but sometimes I'm lucky, if I can get it done once a year. I did at least get them vacuumed off, but they're still pretty dusty. Eventually, I'd love to get new curtains or drapes for the living room, but for now these are okay. At least I can toss them in the washer and dryer when they need cleaned.

I'll do what I can to go through some of it tonight and finish up what I can, but I'm okay, if I have to wait until tomorrow. My back is spasming again, and I don't want to push it tonight and cause even more problems, so I'm not able to function tomorrow, so I may just be done for the night. I'm okay with that, too.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Normalcy.

I had to go re-read what I wrote last night, because I couldn't remember. I remember leaving keyboard drool on my post where I'd fallen asleep, but I couldn't remember what I posted.

I was tired. Really. Tired.

I woke up a bit after I got off the computer and spent a little time with The Hubster. Filled out my mail-in ballot, which hubby dropped off today, (it's nice to have VOTE crossed of our lists!), and went to bed. Where I proceeded to sleep. Twelve hours. Straight. Getting up only once. To go to the bathroom. The girls slept 18 hours straight. It's wonderful to be able to catch up on your sleep when you're running on empty, and we were definitely running on fumes.

Hopper and Scooter could not seem to sleep at all in the hotel room, and of course as parents we couldn't fall asleep with them being awake. Especially in a hotel. We always have one ear trained on the door at all times for fear that one of the girls will try to go for a stroll in their sleep. It's been known to happen at home, so there's no reason to believe it wouldn't happen in a hotel, either.

In other words, hotels just aren't that relaxing for us, even though we had a lot of fun on Monday.

Hopper really did do amazingly well, all things considered. She did have a 10 or 15 minute meltdown when we finally got back to the room where she had to change into her gown, and the surgery became real for her. Poor thing. She really did try to hold things together, though, and she did well for the most part. Even when she was being wheeled away with her daddy by her side to go back in with her while she was put under, she was doing great.

However, The Hubster reported that she started freaking out over the anesthesia mask, and the doctor couldn't keep it on her long enough to help her go to sleep. It ended up taking 5 people to hold her down, so the mask could do it's work. This is nothing new for Hopper, but it's never an easy thing. I'm sure the lack of sleep exacerbated the situation, but she did make it through. She didn't have the post anesthesia rage that she's had in the past, so that was good. She was a little grumpy, but we'll take grumpy any day!

We're just so glad that when I asked the nurse last week how soon Hopper could get her flu shot after the dental surgery, she suggested that maybe we could have it done while she was under the general anesthesia. It's just so nice that she doesn't have that to worry about. The rest of us got our flu shots when we got back into town. It's so good to know they're done and out of the way.

I think things will be back to normal tomorrow for all of us, since we'll all be caught up on our sleep. I'm glad. I'm hoping to get to painting tomorrow again. I need to get started on the mirrors and on the cubbies that we'll be putting above the stove and refrigerator. As much as I'd have loved to work on them today, it was impossible. It was just entirely too cold.

I know that 22 states had wind warnings yesterday. We were one of them. The wind blew in a cold front and the first taste of winter. It didn't snow at the lower elevations, but there were a few feet of snow on the mountains. The wind blew all body heat away, and it felt much colder than the air temperature really was. I have to admit that I'm not quite ready for the cold just yet, and I'm very, very thankful that the highs won't be in the 40s again tomorrow. The 60s just sound so much better, don't they? And with 70s expected over Friday and Saturday, I should be able to finish up the mirrors and the cubbies.

We might not get the cubbies actually installed this weekend, but I'm okay with that. At least we'll have them up there soon!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's 6:30pm. Do you know where your kids are?

I know where ours are.

They're in bed asleep and have been since about 4:30. It's been a really long day.

Hopper had to be at the hospital for her surgery at 5:30 this morning, so we had to get up at 4:30 and forego showers in order to make it to the hospital in time, in spite of the fact the hotel was only minutes away from the hospital. I'm so glad we stayed in a hotel instead of driving from 100 miles away. We didn't get enough sleep as it was.

Hopper had a couple of small and short-lived panic attacks last night, but she was able to get herself under control and sleep. Sort of. I heard both her and Scooter in the night making noises or whimpering all night long. Plus it took forever for them to fall asleep in the first place. They tossed and turned, even though it was hours past their bedtime, and they didn't fall asleep until well past 11:00 last night. So it's no wonder they were in bed and fast asleep within 30 minutes or so of us walking in the door.

I've been dozing at my computer off and on while trying to finish this post. I got no more sleep than the girls, although I did fall asleep doing the head bob in the car on the way home. My neck being sore is so worth the 30 minutes or so of sleep I got, but once again I find myself bob bob bobbling along.

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Shoot. I feel asleep again.I'm just going to bed.

Oh yeah. Hopper did great. Took a little while longer to get her to wake up after anesthesia than normal, but I think that's because of the total lack of sleep last night. They were able to save the tooth and were able to just replace the crown. She grinds her teeth in her sleep, and she ground all the way through the crown and tore the edge of it up like a the top of a tin can, and it hurt her tongue. Poor thing. We're so very thankful that they were able to save the tooth.

And the other good news? She had no cavities.

Yay Hopper!

And fade to black. As in the back of my eyelids.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hopper. My hero.

Spent the day running around Denver to help keep Hopper's mind off the surgery. She was doing great until just a minute ago, but she's still doing better than she ever has before when she's had to have dental surgery. She's trying so hard to be brave, and it just breaks my heart when she's scared like this. I'm just so very, very grateful for the Theanine. It's worked wonders. The meltdown she had tonight only lasted 3 minutes or so, and she was able to pull herself together. That's huge for her!

We didn't buy a lot today. For the last several years, I've tried really hard not to bring anything home that we won't actually use, so it was easy to pass up things that years ago I would have just had to have.

We bought the girls a couple of bracelets each that were on clearance, they each got a t-shirt, and I got a lined sweatshirt that is really warm. Other than that, we got some calendars and a transistor radio for Hopper. We've looked for one for her for years, but we haven't been able to find one. Seriously. Who'da thunk a day would go by that transistor radios were impossible to find? They're one of the most handy little things you can have around, and it's not like they use a lot of battery power. Sometimes, simple is just nice. Plus she'll be able to carry it around. Can do a lot worse for $13!

Hopper loves listening to Country and Christian music, talk radio (she loves listening to politics of all kinds - she's a funny kid), and sports of all kinds. She's had a few boombox-type radios over the years, but they don't seem to last. They get dropped once, and the antenna breaks off or the CD player stops working. Something always seems to happen to them, so she starts tuning my radio in the kitchen into her stations, and, well, let's just say we don't listen to the same things. We have the same taste in music, but that's about it. I think this will be the perfect solution, and we won't have to worry about her plugging it into the outlet. She always does fine, but it's still not something we care to have her doing. So the little transistor radio we picked up today should be the perfect solution for her.

I need to go to bed. It's early, but we have to be at the hospital at zero dark thirty in the morning. That means a quarter to the backside of dawn reveille, since the crack will be nowhere in sight. :)


Sunday, October 24, 2010

You know, it's harder to build a box than it might seem

We had to replace our refrigerator and stove about a year ago. Before we could put the new refrigerator in, we had to tear out the cabinets that were above the stove and refrigerator. The new refrigerator was so tall it wouldn't fit under the cabinets that were already up there. For the last year, the space above the stove and refrigerator has been empty and barren and ugly, and we've had boxes that have moved from room to room that held the small appliances that we'd stored up there.

Our kitchen and dining room are really small. Actually, I suppose the dining room isn't all that small, but the kitchen is tiny. The stove and dishwasher are on opposite sides of the kitchen, but they can't be opened at the same time, because there's not quite enough clearance. Given that the stove, refrigerator and dishwasher take up floor space, we have are sorely lacking base cabinets.

We have the one under the sink with extra storage to the right of it, but the only way it's accessible, is if we pull stuff out of the cabinet under the sink. I finally put an under the bed storage box in there and filled it with quart and pint canning jars, so I can pull it out when I need to get to them, but they're also not something I use much. It's a good storage area for stuff that's not needed often, but that's about all it's good for.

To the left of the sink, we have a skinny little door where we can slide cookie sheets, but that's about it. However, on the other side of the peninsula that contains the dishwasher and this little door, is the dining room. And there are two doors that open to the storage area that is to the left of the sink, but they're in the dining room. And while it's nice that we have access to the storage, it's inconvenient that we can't use access it from the kitchen and that it's basically just for storage and not for functional use.

We don't have much for upper cabinets either. We have one double cabinet over the dishwasher, a double to the left of the sink, and a single and a half to the right of the sink. So even though the cabinets over the stove and refrigerator were only half the height of the other upper cabinets, they were vital to the kitchen, and let's just say it's been a really long year without them!

When replaced the stove and refrigerator a year ago, we also bought four 1"x12"x6' pine shelves to make into cubbies to put above the appliances for a replacement solution. We went out and boughtt baskets to put in the cubbies, and I even began painting the shelving. Then everything sat. For a year.

Today, The Hubster and I finally got the cubbies made. And it was hard to think straight enough to figure out how to cut things just right and assemble it, so the baskets would fit properly and it would fit above the refrigerator. Now that we've done it once, we'd be able to do it again without as much trouble. It would be on the verge of easy, even. Today? Notsomuch. They definitely make it seem a heck of a lot easier on TV than it was for us, but we did eventually get it.

I'm going to get the painting finished on the cubbies this week and we'll hopefully be able to get them installed next weekend.

I can't wait. It's been a really long year!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Back in January when Bugster took the Christmas tree down for us, we set up the card table, so I could put the decorations she wasn't sure what to do with away, and they'd be at a more comfortable level for my back. After the decorations were put away, the card table went into the corner of the living room and was promptly filled it to overflowing with stuff. All sorts of stuff. And today I got the itch to tackle it.

I was able to sort through most everything, and what I didn't get to I was able to stack neatly in the study. I was able to go through a lot of paperwork and ended up with 2 more bags of shredables to add to my overall total as well as a huge black trash bag full of, well, trash. I will hopefully be able to get to to the paperwork I put in the study fairly soon. I'm not counting on getting through it all before I have to go in for surgery, but you never know. Hope springs eternal.

I'm absolutely thrilled with The Hubster today. We've had a broken handle on the toilet for a couple of years. Something happened, and it never flushed correctly. We had to hold the handle down to flush it, because the float didn't work right, and the flapper would snap shut and keep the water from flowing to the bowl, if we didn't. It killed my back and drove me nuts, but there was concern the water intake would leak, if it was turned off, and that was the last thing we needed. Hubster decided to take his chances today anyway and replace the flapper and the handle, and we didn't end up with any sort of a leak. Did I mention I am absolutely thrilled.

He did the heavy lifting today, too, and brought the mirrors up and put them on the back porch, so I can hopefully start working on sanding and painting them tomorrow. I can do the etching anytime, but the painting can only be done when it's warm enough outside for the paint. It will be good to get started on them.

We'll hopefully also work on the cubby that we need to get together up above the refrigerator and stove. One of the boxes that was under the card table was a box of things that had to come down from there when we tore the cabinet out. I've got a few similar boxes sitting on the floor in the kitchen just waiting for the cubby to be put up. We just need to make a few cuts and assemble the box. I painted the boards a long time ago. We'll hopefully be working on getting it together tomorrow. I'd really like to have the things put away before I have surgery.

It seems like every year before the holidays, I have every intention of getting things done early enough that I'm not trying to make the house presentable the night before we have our celebration, but it never happens. This year, it's going to happen. I need for it to be finished this year more than years in the past, but the biggest thing I have going for me this year more than years in the past is motivation.

With starting this early, the holiday stress will surely be at a minimum. I'm looking forward to that!

Friday, October 22, 2010

If you go down to woods today...


Teddy Bear Picnic

words by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932,

music by John W. Bratton in1907

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Ev'ry teddy bear who's been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There's lots of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
Cause that's the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

If you go down to the woods today
You'd better not go alone.
It's lovely down in the woods today
But safer to stay at home.

For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today
Watch them, catch them unawares
And see them picnic on their holiday.

See them gaily gad about
They love to play and shout;
They never have any care;

At six o'clock their mummies and daddies,
Will take them home to bed,
Because they're tired little teddy bears.

We've listened to this rendition of Teddy Bears' Picnic by Anne Murray hundreds and hundreds of times over the years:



It will always be near and dear to my heart, and I will never tire of hearing it. It brings back so many wonderful memories of the girls dancing around or tapping their toes to the song and squeezing their 'babies' a little bit tighter.

In Scooter's case, she didn't tap her toes. She couldn't. It's pretty hard to tap your toes, when you can't stand up, and Scooter stood up for the first time when she was 6 years old. But she did an amazing job of getting her happiness for the song across.

Scooter has "Happy Feet".

You know how when a dog is happy you can see it all over their body as they quiver in excitement and happiness?

That's how Scooter's feet are. The happiness travels from the top of her head and exits her feet in swirls that can't be replicated or explained, and eventually, her feet look triple jointed as she twists and contorts them lickedty split. It really is something to behold.

Tonight, when Bugster came over for a visit, she grabbed the doll furniture I'd painted. It had been hers when she was little, and she had loved them, and her babies did, too. And I wanted her to get to see Scooter's reaction when she saw them and got to use them with their fresh new look. Scooter didn't disappoint.

The furniture was in pretty poor shape when I started painting them:


They cleaned up really well. They had water and mud stains from being stored on the back porch for a few years. It's amazing what rain drops landing on dusty, unfinished wood can do to destroy it. A couple coats of Kilz and a few coats of oil based paint later, and they looked pretty darn good:



And when Bugster brought them in, and they caught Scooter's eye, her head whipped around to look at them so fast I was afraid she might have whiplash! Instead, the excitement and happiness traveled all the way down to her toenails, and her Happy Feet were writhing in double time.

Hopper went into the bedroom and got some of Penelope's sisters. Penelope is Scooter's favorite bear in the entire world. Penelope was actually given to me by my mom and my sister for my birthday one year. She started out with a little pink hat that had purple and pink flowers along with a little netting for decoration and a little lacy collar that tied around her neck. Penelope's fur started out lavender with a white undercoat, and she was adorable. When you pressed her little paw, she sang You Light Up My Life with a soothing and adorable lilting voice.

About 5 years ago, shortly before she had her spine surgery where her back was fused together from the nape of her neck all the way to her tailbone, we realized Scooter had fallen head over twitchy heals for Penelope. She would sneak into our bedroom and we'd hear Penelope singing every once in awhile, and we'd smile. It didn't hurt a thing for her to listen to Penelope. Scooter enjoys a good voice a little more than the next person, especially when it comes packaged in a cute little bear and is supposed to be off limits, because it belongs Mommy. So we had to laugh when we kept finding that Penelope disappeared from our bedroom with a certain frequency. We would put her back in her place, but it got to the point that she preferred spending the night with Scooter more than she liked staying with us, so we realized that Penelope had chosen Scooter for her owner, and I was merely a temporary babysitter.

Penelope made Scooter very, very happy. Soon, she was accompanying Scooter to doctors' appointments and x-rays and scans that were necessary for her to have before she had surgery. And when the day came for Scooter to go in to have her little back straightened out, Penelope was right by her side. She helped Scooter stay brave and know that everything was going to be okay. She soothed Scooter to sleep on restless nights when we can only assume she was thinking about the surgery. Penelope never left her side.

Then one day, when we had gone to The Children's Hospital for a follow up visit, Daddy and Mommy each thought that the other one had gotten Penelope loaded in the car with Scooter, and we headed back home 100 miles away. We felt absolutely sick when we got home and we couldn't find Penelope. We cried. All of us did. Penelope was part of the family, and we'd left her behind. You never leave family behind.

So we drove back up to the hospital the next day. Penelope was that important. We needed Penelope as much as Penelope needed us. We checked every hallway and clinic Scooter had visited the day before. We checked in the bathrooms, just in case another little girl had tried to help Penelope use the facilities. We checked the lost and found and checked it again. And we called every single day for a couple of weeks to see, if anyone had found our Scooter's beloved Penelope.

We were heartbroken when we realized we had lost Penelope forever.

I scoured the Internet for days trying to find another Penelope. Scooter needed her. The problem was that we'd had Penelope for many years, that she was no longer sold in stores. I did the only thing I felt I could do at that point. I turned to Craigslist. I posted an ad on our hometown's boards, knowing that people where we grew up were special kind of people, and if anyone would come through for us, they would. And I posted another ad on the Denver boards explaining what had happened and pleaded with anyone who may have seen our cherished bear to please contact me. I never heard a thing.

Then one day, just days after I asked for help, but after I'd already given up hope, an email popped up in my inbox. A wonderful lady from our hometown, whom we'd never met before, had tracked down another Penelope. She bought her in a gift shop somewhere on the East Coast, and had her shipped directly to Scooter. She refused any sort of payment for the most amazing of gifts, and I don't know that any amount of money could repay her for what she and her family did for ours.

We didn't mention a thing to Scooter about this lovely woman, and what she had done. The day came that the package arrived and The Hubster and I could hardly contain ourselves. We all gathered around Scooter, who was wearing her back brace and sitting in her wheelchair and presented her with the gift that had been sent by an angel. She pulled the new Penelope out of the box and couldn't believe her eyes. Her whole body started twitching as she hugged her beloved baby and Penelope sang her beautiful song. There wasn't a dry eye among the adults in the house, and everyone's cheeks were sore from smiling so much. It was such a beautiful moment that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Penelope is still much loved. She no longer resembles the pristine little bear that made her way into our lives so many years ago when my mom and sister sent her our way. She hasn't sat idly on a shelf for many years. Instead, she sits with Scooter on the couch when she's watching TV, she often hangs out with her sisters that have come into the family over the years, and she still often sleeps with her beloved Scooter.

But tonight, for the first time, Penelope got to join some of her sisters along with her mama, for a tea party in her very own chair. Scooter had some firsts of her own tonight as well, as she entered the World of Pretend. She shared a bowl of cereal with her babies and then even took the bites out of their mouths and ate them herself. She petted them and loved them and petted the furniture. She was in Heaven. Her little feet didn't stop moving the entire time. She was one happy, happy, happy little girl.

When Scooter went to bed tonight, she left the girls at the table. I'm sure they're anxiously awaiting the parties they'll have with her all weekend long, and I doubt they'll get a moment's sleep.

For tonight, they'll be planning their next picnic.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dropping pounds.

My back has been spasming off and on all day, so I wasn't able to do much today.

I did at least finish up the painting projects that needed a little touch up done. It's nice to have it out of the way. I still have some paint in the tray that's fresh, and I'd totally forgotten about some mirrors I'd gotten to paint for the girls' rooms a year or so ago. They've got oak frames, but I wanted to paint them when I bought them, so I might just use the last of the paint in the tray on them. I'd love to etch something on the mirror to personalize them for the girls.

We got them for a great price - $6 each. But they're nice and heavy duty. They're much nicer than the typical cheap mirrors you can find for the back of your bedroom door. They're wider. They've got thicker glass. They're pretty nice. But I don't care for the oak. It doesn't look clean enough. They'd been used in motels and were put up on Craigslist by someone who bought all the things the motels got rid of when they remodeled. So I'm thinking that painting them will seal the wood and any germs, so there's no way the girls can get sick from them, and it will make it easier to keep them clean.

I'd planned on doing one for Bugster, but she told me she didn't need a mirror for the back of her bedroom door. There was one in the house when they bought it. It's too bad. I'd planned on etching ladybugs all around the edge ... or maybe just at the bottom. I hadn't decided yet. I'll be using it for our room now.

For Scooter, I want to eventually make butterfly wings to go on either side of the mirror. She's crazy over butterflies. And I thought it might be sort of cool to put some wooden wings up on the sides of the mirror, so she can look like a butterfly when she checks herself out in the mirror. Then on the wings, I'll put hooks, so she can hang her jewelry. She has a lot of necklaces and bracelets, and I think she'd love to be able to have a place to hang them that would make it fun for her to put them away when she's done using them. And I'd have to etch a butterfly or two on the mirror for her, of course.

I'm not sure what I'd do with Hopper's mirror. She has some flowers and polka dots in her bedroom. It might be fun to cut circles or flowers out of wood and attach them here and there around the frame. They would show up well and look cute on a bright white background. I might etch a flower with a bee flying away on it or something. Just not sure yet. At any rate, I should probably use the rest of the paint in the trays for the mirrors rather than let it go to waste. Plus there's plenty of room on the makeshift workbenches on the porch, so they'd be safe from breakage. Just seems like the timing is right.

Worked on laundry and in the kitchen today. It was about all my back could handle. We're hoping to close on the refinance tomorrow. It will be nice to have it out of the way. Plus I'll be able to get more laundry done or rearrange the living room furniture or something.

Seems as though every little thing that gets done takes a little more weight off our shoulders.

That's the best weight loss ever.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

.....and.....exhale....

Am I the only one, or does anyone else find themselves exhausted from a trip to the doctor/dentist's office and a day away from home?

Things went better this morning than we anticipated. When we got up to get ready for the dental appointment, I gave Hopper a second dose of Theanine. I'm glad I did. Hopper did start ramping up for a meltdown, but it didn't have time to materialize before the Theanine kicked in. She was downright jovial on the way to the dental clinic. We were really hoping it would last, but we've seen her in similar positions in the past, and it hasn't lasted, so we weren't sure what to expect.

Knowing that the clinic only allows one parent at a time back with the child, we asked Hopper who she wanted to go in with her. She thought about it for a moment and said, "Daddy." We knew there was a good chance she'd change her mind, but we wanted her to have some control over the situation to help ease her anxiety.

Once we got to the clinic we were a bit concerned. The waiting room was absolutely packed. One of the hardest things for Hopper is waiting. It gives her anxiety a chance to build to monumental proportions. So we were absolutely thrilled and relieved when they called her back before I had finished filling out her paperwork. Hopper was finished rather quickly, and we were back in the car and on the way home within 30 minutes.

All they were able to accomplish was to look in her mouth and see that the crown had indeed broken. The gal apparently thought she was going to get a chance to clean Hopper's teeth, but that didn't happen. Then again, we knew it wouldn't. Theanine works wonders, but it falls a bit short of working miracles. She goes in for surgery Tuesday when they'll take x-rays, do a deep cleaning of her teeth, and take care of any cavities and the crown. We're hoping that they'll be able to just replace the crown and that they won't have to pull a tooth. She's already missing one of her molars that broke down into the root, so we're really hoping this didn't break that far down. We'll find out soon enough.

When we were done, we took the girls shopping for a little while. We have always tried to end days like this on a high note, so the day isn't all about a negative like going to the dentist or going to the doctor. When I was pregnant with Scooter, and we had to see specialists that were 200 miles from Camp Lejeune in Norfolk, VA Bugster was 5 and was old enough to be scared over the fact that Hopper was supposed to have heart surgery. It was too much for her little shoulders to carry.

So each trip to VA, we'd go to the Lynnhaven Mall. It had a giant carousel that we let the girls ride it each time we were there for appointments. We'd play the 'claw' game in the mall's arcade and actually got pretty good at it. The girls came home with a new stuffed animal after every trip. (I think we finally got rid of the last ones when the girls' room was cleaned out several months ago).

The visits to the specialists in Norfolk always took a few days, because we saw more than one each time, so we would stay at a little motel right on the beach in the outskirts of Norfolk. I can't remember the name of the bay it overlooked. I just remember it was a little one and not Chesapeake. Of course we'd look for seashells, (I have 3 or 4 shoe boxes of shells and sand in the garage somewhere that we collected on these many trips), we'd have tea parties on the beach, and we'd get our feet wet in the waves. We'd bring our table top grill and grill burgers and hot dogs to make it more special. We even went as far as bringing the electric ice cream maker and made ice cream one time. We wanted to make it as fun as possible.

Because if we were scared as adults, we couldn't imagine how scary it was for the girls.

Life needs to be about more than visits to doctors and dentists and what's wrong and being scared.

It needs to be about what's right in the world.

It needs to be about family and fun and those you hold dear.

And sometimes, hoarding isn't about placing humongous amounts of value on things that have no value at all, but it's about the memories associated with those things having so much attached to them that you're afraid to let them go lest you forget those moments that were wonderful. Because if you forget those wonderful moments, all that's left is the terror of knowing your child is sick and needs heart surgery or the nightmares of bringing your baby home in a body bag, because she's really that sick, and the judgment you see in others' eyes, because your child looks typical but acts very nontypically and the people assume you're not a good parent when you're doing the very best you can to hang on, but you can't keep up with all the doctors' visits and breathing treatments, and diapers they used until they were 8 and 10 years old, add the ADHD and anxiety to that, and the therapies, and the laundry, because your youngest can't eat solids and throws up every bottle she drinks until she's almost 4, and they find that she's missing the sphincter at the top of her esophagus and goes through 12 changes of bedding on her crib on a good day and at least 20 on a bad day.

Sometimes, hoarders are great parents who are so overwhelmed by the lack of control they feel in their own lives that they're afraid something bad will happen, if they get rid of stuff. Because somehow hanging onto physical things that spark the good memories has worked for them. When they see the toys from the claw games in the different rooms of the house, it comforts them. It reminds them that they tried just as hard as they could to make the very best of horrible, impossible situations.

The things are a reminder that they've mattered in their kids' lives.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of fibro and pictures and teeth.

I had a day with bits of productivity, but I didn't feel like I got enough done. Granted, I rarely feel like I've gotten enough done, even when I've been productive, but I think aches and pains make it worse. And I'm hurting tonight.

I strained my back last night when the pipe sprung a leak. I had to clear the shelves that sat under the leak of the things that were sitting on them. The top shelf had an 18 quart electric turkey roaster. Unfortunately, the water had leaked through the cardboard box and had filled it part way. I'm not sure how many gallons of water were in there, but there were a couple or three at least. And while that might not seem like a lot of water, it weighs quite a bit when it's on the top shelf, and I'm in a hurry to get it down from over my head, because the plumber is on his way, and hubby hadn't made it back to the house yet.

After the girls got home from school, we ran over to my friend's house (the same friend who gave me the little dresser and hutch some years ago) to take some baking dishes back to her. She gave me a tour of her house and showed me all the projects they have in the works. She and her husband do an amazing job at renovations, and I love talking to her about what they have planned. I love seeing the picture she paints in my mind, and even though I can see what it is they're doing in my mind's eye, I'm always so pleasantly surprised when I see the reveal. They always do a better job than I can even imagine. They are absolutely amazing!

Before I went over to her house, my back was hurting from what I did to it yesterday, but I felt pretty well overall. Tonight, however, my fibromyalgia is in overdrive. I hurt from head to toe, and I think it could have to do with being around her dogs. I wasn't around them a lot. I only sort of pet one on it's head, but it was apparently enough to make me ache all over. I'm going to take some Benadryl before going to bed in a few minutes. I'm thinking, if the firbro flare is from my allergy to dogs that it might help. I guess I'll know tomorrow.

Yesterday, Sherry C. commented: Those looks great! Your always working so hard keep it up. Your house looks great in the photos can't tell you have any clutter must be a thing of the past now.

Unfortunately, I'm just really good at taking pictures with as little clutter showing in said pictures. I've had years of practice. Still, the basement is still mostly empty, and we're doing everything we can not to add to what's already there until we have a place for everything, so things can be put in their place immediately upon unpacking them. There are boxes of movies and books downstairs that need to be unpacked and put away, but we need to get some things done before we can do that. I'm hoping it will happen in the next few weeks. I guess we'll see.

Scooter's room is still looking good since I finished it up 5 months ago. It is in horrible need of a paint job and some decorating, but it's still clean and sparse. I'm thrilled with it. The porch is also still in amazing shape, and like I wrote the other day, I've got my very own little workshop out there now that the tarps have been hung and it's somewhat weatherproofed. So the progress we have made hasn't come undone, but the house still looks like it threw up in several rooms. It seems the rooms we live in look the worst, because they're the first to get messed up, if our attention is elsewhere. And with the painting projects and such, our attention has definitely been elsewhere lately.

I had finally gotten enough courage to post before and after pictures of the porch and Scooter's room, but my camera battery is dead. Of course. And for the life of me, I can't seem to find the charger. I'm hoping to borrow Bugster's, since we have the same kind of camera. It may take awhile to get the pictures up, but it will happen. As embarrassing as the before pictures are, I'm proud of the after pictures, and I need to allow myself to feel good about what I've accomplished so far.

I'm off to bed. Tomorrow's going to be a long day with Hopper having to go to the dentist. It's always a very stressful thing for everyone.

I hope she does okay and isn't too scared.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just a typical day. And pictures.

Woke up this morning to Scooter having gastrointestinal difficulties. She stayed home from school, took some Immodium AD and rested. She was feeling better by this afternoon but still tired. Not sure, if she'll go to school tomorrow or not.

Made an appointment for Hopper to go into see the dentist. She broke a crown. Not a porcelain crown, but a
silver one! I would think it would be difficult to break a big old chunk out of a metal crown, but I'm thinking there's a good chance that the teeth grinding that happens at night may have contributed to it. We take her in Wednesday to show them that there is no way they'll be able to work on her in the chair and will instead have to put her under general anesthesia to get her dental work done. We're hoping the surgery will be as soon as next week.

Finished up on the last of the paperwork today for the refinancing. Looks like we'll be closing this week. It will be nice to have it out of the way. Really looking forward to saving a bit of money each month, too. You know. Just in case we need it...

For instance like today when I thought I heard water running, went into the laundry room, and noticed water all over the floor. And all over the ceiling. A pipe had sprung a leak. We now have a neatly repaired pipe and our credit card balance is $320 higher than it was this morning. It could be worse. It could have happened in a room that didn't have an unfinished ceiling and a drain in the floor.

On a good note, I finished up the painting today. I think. I have a little left in my tray that I'm not going to toss out just yet. I'll wait until the current coat on everything is dry and then use what's left for touch up - just in case something needs it. The headboard and footboard may need a little more. I guess I'll find out soon enough.

I took a few pictures today...

To the left is the bookshelf turned entertainment center I've been painting.

To the right is the dresser and hutch I've been working on the last few weeks.

We got the bookshelf at a local catalog store that was going out of business for less than $25. I can't remember, if we paid $20, or if we paid $24 for it. Whatever it was, it wasn't much.

The dresser and hutch were given to me by a dear friend years ago. They were in desperate need of a new paint job, and I have to admit I love how they turned out! This would so go in my kitchen, if I had the room. I'm not sure, if I'll be using it to store games or tea party dishes or both, but it will be used. I still have to make little curtains for it or add glass to the doors.

This is what the wall looks like with them on it. We haven't installed the door to the workout room yet. It will obviously be in between these two pieces. It will be a light oak, and it has 15 little windows in it. It's one of the next projects. I just have to finish up the doors first. I'm hoping to stain it soon.


So there you have it. More pictures to come in the next day or two. You know. When I have enough time.

Hopefully.

Ha.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

T.A.R.P.? Nah. Just tarps.

Goodness gracious. I'm tired tonight. I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open to finish my post, so this will need to be quick.

The Hubster and I were able to take the furniture I'd painted downstairs, so we've got a lot more room on the porch now. The pieces of furniture look amazing. I really like the way they look downstairs. I didn't get pictures take of them today. I decided to wait, because the drawer and doors for the hutch that sits atop the dresser are all still tacky. It might be a few days before I attach them to the hutch.

I was able to get a little of the painting done today, but I wasn't able to finish it. I didn't want to have to move the items I was painting, if they had wet paint on them, and we moved most of the stuff on the porch today to put up the tarps. We were going to try to use a single sheet of plastic, but when we felt the plastic we were concerned that it wasn't heavy duty enough to withstand the winds we might get. We decided to go with tarps instead.

I'm thrilled with how it all turned out. The wind had picked up some, and it had gotten significantly cooler in the time we were on the porch hanging tarps, but by the time we were finished, it felt much warmer on the porch than it did in the yard. The tarps seemed to cover quite well. We did overlap them a foot or so, so we won't have to worry about seams coming apart and stuff getting blown through them.

I'll try to post pictures tomorrow. I'm falling asleep as I type this.

Tomorrow then.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why am I still awake? Sheesh.

Isn't it funny how the aches and pains you get from hard work feel so different than those aches and pains you have when you're sick? I'll take those that I earn, thankyouverymuch.

We got the entertainment center/bookcase finished up and put together in the basement today. It took awhile to get it together, because the top half of the unit comes apart. As in the 2 shelves, the 2 sides, the very top piece and the back. And while we didn't put the shelves in until after it was all assembled, we'd forgotten how difficult it can be to get the other 4 pieces put together and squared up. We had gotten it all together and then had to install the stabilizing bar that also squares it up to the back of it. It took a few minutes before we got the top of it square enough we could line the screw holes up for the stabilizing bar. We eventually got it, though, and I'm thrilled with how it looks. I'll be taking pictures soon and posting them. I'll probably wait until I get the other little unit done and downstairs, though. It may be as soon as tomorrow.

I was able to get the first coat of the oil based paint on the majority of stuff I have left to finish up. The doors for the hutch are a little tricky, if I want to paint the insides of them, because it means painting both sides, which would take 2 days per side to finish up. I just got day 1 out of the way on them. I guess I have to figure out whether or not I need to paint the other side. It won't show unless the doors are open, so it's not entirely necessary. Hmmm. What to do. What to do.

I was also able to get the primer on the back of the headboard we'll be cutting down to use as a footboard and the second coat of primer on the last piece of Bugster's old doll furniture I'm painting for Scooter. While I may not get these two pieces finished up tomorrow, I should be able to finish everything else, and I'll put the last coat on the footboard and doll furniture later in the week. The temperature is supposed to be 20 to 30 degrees cooler Monday than it is tomorrow, and it won't warm up until the end of the week. If there's anyway I can finish them up sooner, I will.

I was thrilled to be able to get one last thing finished up today. Several years ago, we were given a super heavy duty air cleaner/purifier. The people who gave it to us used it to clean the air in their home where they bred birds. When I brought it home, I took it apart and vacuumed it thoroughly. I've taken it apart a few times and cleaned it out with the vacuum over the years, but it needed it again. We'd had it on full blast when the basement was being drywalled and textured. It was absolutely full of dust. So I pulled it apart and used the air hose on it until I no longer saw any dust coming out of the filter. It took about 20 minutes. Did I mention it was really dusty?

Now that it's clean and ready to use, it will be turned on full blast to run for a week or two downstairs. It does a pretty good job at removing odors in the air, so I'm hoping it means we can bring in the furniture I've painted for the basement, even though it still smells a bit of the oil based paint. We'll let it run for a few days with just the bookshelf/entertainment center down there and see, if it makes a difference. I'm really hoping it will.

I really should be in bed by now. I've got so much I'd like to do tomorrow. Not only do I have finish up my painting projects, but we'll be hanging new plastic on the porch, too. What we have out there right now is a hodge podge of different sizes of plastic and a couple of tarps. Unfortunately, it's not real conducive to keeping the dust out, because the plastic flaps apart where it overlaps with the next piece.

The Hubster bought some plastic today that is 10ft wide by 100ft long. We will only use about half of it, but it will be so nice to know that it will cover from floor to ceiling and all the way around in a single piece. Not only will it keep the dust out, but it will keep the rain and snow out, so we should be able to use the porch as a work shop all winter. We might not be doing a lot of painting, but if we need to use the table saw or the router, we'll have a fairly good place to do so. And if nothing else, we'll have a covered, dry place to store some of the stuff that's in the pod until we can get to it.

Works for me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I always ask to hear the bad news first. I'd rather get it over with and end things on a good note. I've always been a 'glass half-full' sorta gal. I have always tried to look for the silver lining in the dark clouds of life. Still, I'm having a hard time finding the silver lining today. I know it's there. I just won't be able to see it for a few months.

I went to the doctor this morning. The surgery I had back in August was a complete ... failure. My particular situation has turned out to be on the wrong end of the spectrum of success. It now appears I will be going in for yet another surgery. Unfortunately, I'll need to get it done before the end of the year, just because we have no idea how much our insurance will go up next year, but we're assuming it will. It will likely be most affordable for us, if I have it sooner than later.

I don't normally talk about certain things that are of a personal nature on my blog. Some things I have no problems talking about, but certain things are out of my comfort zone. Certain things that happened in my childhood I will never discuss on my blog, because I'm just not there. I thought this was one of those things that was off limits for me, too. However, I feel like I could really use some input from anyone reading who personally may have gone through this for reassurance. So...anyone out there have a hysterectomy? And if you have, can you either email me privately or leave a comment (without real graphic details, please) about your experience?

I'm a little freaked out about it, even though I've seen this coming for months. :::sigh::: I just don't want to take the time for it. You know? I have too incredibly much to do! Then again, not having the surgery is preventing me from getting done what I need to accomplish anyway, so...

On a good note, not only did I go to the doctor this morning, but I also stopped at the DMV and got my driver's license renewed, and stopped at Sam's for a few things we needed on the way home. After fixing lunch for The Hubster to take to work and fixing lunch for myself and the girls, I was able to get some painting done.

The only thing that isn't primed and ready to paint tomorrow is the back of the headboard we'll be cutting down to use as a footboard for Scooter's bed. I look forward to getting the last of the painting finished this weekend. It will free up my spare time to get as much done as possible before having my surgery. I'd love to have the pod of our things on the driveway completely unpacked before I go in.

It would really be nice to park in the driveway again!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The one where I juiced.

I'm tired tonight but inspired.

Got up this morning at 5:30 to get the girls ready for school when we realized Scooter wasn't feeling well and would be staying home. I'm glad she didn't have to deal with tummy troubles at school, but I was exhausted. I ended up with only 4 hours of sleep, and I desperately wanted a nap. That didn't happen. I couldn't take a nap, if Scooter didn't, and there was no talking her into it. So I got busy.

We've had a Jack Lalanne Power Juicer for several years, but we've rarely used it, because, well, life got busy. I remembered it the other day when I was trying to decide what to do with the all the apples we'd picked in our backyard. I lent it to a friend over the weekend and got it back yesterday. So after Hopper took off for school, I washed and sorted about 3/4 of a bushel of apples. I started with the ones that Hopper had picked herself a few weeks ago and had put in the crisper drawers in the fridge and then made my way to the 1/2 bushel box that was overflowing.

It was frustrating to see where a worm had gotten into the middle of an apple and practically hollowed it out. Of course they tended to make themselves at home in the larger apples. Stupid things. Almost makes me want to spray for bugs next year. Seriously. Thankfully, the apples that weren't usable only made up about 10% of the total number of apples I cleaned. Of those that were left, I kept probably 60% back for us to eat whole or to use in pies or to make applesauce, and I chucked the rest.

I love this particular juicer, because you can put entire apples, oranges, cucumbers, etc. in them without having to cut them up and spits the unused seeds and pulp into a collection thing. The fruits and veggies only need to be washed and fed into the hopper. It also gets so much juice out of the fruit when it's being juiced that the pulp is practically dry to the touch. Needless to say, I really like the thing.

We ended up with just over 3 quarts of apple juice today, and it was the best and freshest tasting apple juice we have ever had. It was incredible! We'll definitely have more. Not only do I still have a full bushel of apples to sort and juice, but we also have several hundred apples on the tree that we weren't able to reach last weekend. We'll be working on getting as many down as we can Saturday and Sunday. We're not willing to give them all up to the squirrels and birds!

It was also warm enough today that I was able to get some done on the painting projects out on the back porch. I was able to sand several of the things I still had to work on and get the first coat of primer painted on them. I'm hoping to finish up with the primer tomorrow on all of the things I have left, so I can possibly get the first coat of the oil based paint on them tomorrow, too. Weather permitting, I may still be able to get them finished within the limits of the deadline I made for myself a couple of weeks ago.

I'm hoping my day tomorrow is as productive as today has been.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Poor me.

I didn't start this post out as a 'poor me' post, but it appears to have morphed into one. Sorry about that...


I'm so discouraged.

My back has been killing me the last few days once again. It's nearly impossible for me to accomplish much of anything when it's hurting like this. Twenty six years ago, I ruptured a disc in my lower back. I've struggled with pain from it ever since. Then three years ago when my dad died, I ruptured the one right below it. I also managed to move one of my vertebrae forward three to four millimeters at the time of the second injury. The only toe I've felt on my left foot in the last three years is my big toe. The other four are numb due to pinched nerves.

I have gotten several cortisone shots in my lower back to numb the pain for awhile, and while it works for a time it's not ideal. I don't like the fact that the shots lower my immunity. It's the last thing I need during the winter months when I'm already apt to catch everything the girls bring home from school and hubby brings home from work. I purposely didn't get any cortisone shots last year, because we were so sick the way it was. There just wasn't any use it making things worse. So it's been almost two years since I've had one. I would really love the relief, but I'm not willing at this point to put my health in jeopardy to get one.

However, if things don't change, I may have to give in. The way it is, I'm taking medicine daily for the pain. I fluctuate between three different pain medicines and a muscle relaxer, so I don't get addicted to any one medicine, but often times the meds knock me on my behind. I don't like taking medicines that mess with my head when the girls are home unless The Hubster is available to take over. I feel like I need to be 100% available, should they need me. As it turns out, the most effective pain meds for my back are the ones that knock me out, so I'm in pain most of the time.

It's discouraging on so many levels, because when I'm in pain, the dehoarding pretty much comes to a full halt. I feel like I've accomplished something on high pain days, if I get a shower in and am able to feed the girls and do the dishes. Lately, I haven't been able to do any dehoarding or working on paint projects or anything, although the painting came to a halt because of my asthma and the weather.

It's supposed to be much warmer tomorrow than it's been over the last few days, and my breathing is much better, so I'm hoping to finish up the painting projects tomorrow or at least work on them. I can sit down to work on it, so I can give my back a bit of a break. I'd just love to get it finished up.

It would at least help me feel like I'd accomplished something.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

Mom said that when I was a kid I was fastidious at keeping my room clean. Everything had a place, and everything was where it should be. I was a neat freak. I would apparently get very frustrated with my sister who was more lax in her efforts to keep the room clean. Now, however, it would appear as though my sister and I have changed places. She is the neat freak, and I am...well...not.

What's funny is that I remember having problems with keeping things well before I even made it into my teens. One of my brothers had won a 6ft long stuffed snake at the fair for me. Actually, we had two of these snakes. He gave one to me and one to my sister. Mine had yellow and light green spots on it, so of course it was the one he picked out for me given my affinity for yellow. I remember having a love/hate relationship with it. I loved the fact that my brother had thought of me when he won it, but I never really knew what to do with the thing.

I believe I hung it from the ceiling at one point, because it didn't take up as much room up there as it did on my bed. I'd try to get creative with it and coil it up, but the thing was so stiff it didn't coil. . And it was so full of stuffing that it didn't even bend in half unless forced. When I finally got a toy net, it hung along the back of the toy net so it's head hung out the one side with it's tongue sticking out, and that was as close as I ever came to having a permanent place for it. As a toy the snake was rather useless. I couldn't cuddle with it, because it smelled dusty. It always made me want to cough, which I'm sure is because of the asthma I've had my entire life. We'd hang it outside on the clothesline to try to air it out, but even that didn't help much. It didn't really work as a weapon, although it may have, if Mom hadn't put an end to our attempts at battery. It was simply a thing to display.

The thing is...I think I may still have it. I think it's out in the storage pod in a box of things I didn't know what to do with that I packed up several years ago. If it is in a box, it's because after 30 years it is finally creased in places it was never meant to bend. If it's not there, then I may have finally donated it after agonizing over what to do with it one too many times over the years. I do know that I hung onto it for far too long, because I didn't know how to give it up. I didn't know how to let it go, because it symbolized the love my brother has for me.

I still have the Orange Blossom perfume another of my brothers bought me when he went to Ft Lauderdale, FL for Spring Break one year. I was probably about 8. It doesn't take up very much room. The bottle is only about an inch high and 3/4" wide. I kept the seashell it was wrapped in for years and years. I have no idea what happened to it, but I apparently parted with it somewhere along the way. The last I remember seeing the shell was before we moved into this house 9 years ago. This summer I finally parted with the long sleeved Ft Lauderdale t-shirt he got me the following summer, but it was really, really hard.

I guess my point in all this is that I've had hoarding tendencies all my life.

Even when I was a neat freak, I had trouble letting go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shhh. Don't tell The Hubster I'm seeing someone else.

Not sure, if it has to do with the paint fumes I've been inhaling over the last several weeks, cold germs the kids brought home from school, dust from picking apples over the weekend, the colder air outside that my body isn't used to, or all of the above, but my asthma has kicked into overdrive. I'm so frustrated. I have things to do, and I don't like not being able to do them. Still. I know that in order to get over this attack, I need to cut back for a bit.

So. No painting today. Probably no more painting for a couple of days. Just when I was so close to finishing up. Ugh. If I do any painting in the next few days, I'll definitely have to wear a mask. I probably should have been all along, but masks make it harder to breathe, so I have a tendency to go without them when I'm outside, if I can. I don't know how much a problem adding the plastic to the porch was, because I haven't been out there painting since we put it up except for maybe 10 minutes yesterday. Still, the ventilation isn't as good as it was a few days ago. When I start painting again, I'll make sure I roll as many shades up as I can to increase the airflow.

If I could just increase the airflow in my lungs. Meh.

Unfortunately, I think it's just a combination of things, and I'm going to have to take it a bit easy for the next few days.

Looks like the laundry and I have a date.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some things just aren't meant to be...

Like the high school football game we were going to try to go to as a family? Yeah. It didn't happen. When it was time to get dressed and go, Hopper had a panic attack. And while we know it would be good for her to try to work through her anxiety issues, it's not feasible.It's so stressful when she has the panic attacks which always result in a meltdown. We decided not to put her, or any of us, through it and instead stayed home, picked apples and hung out with one another. It ended up being a much more relaxing weekend than it would have, if we'd have tried to go to the game.

And now I remember why Hopper hasn't gone to but one high school football game in spite of the fact that this is her last year of high school. It all came rushing back to me when her panic set in.

Finishing up the painting projects today/this weekend? Yeah. That didn't happen either. It was too cold to do much painting today. I tried. I did paint the 2nd coat on the headboard that we'll be turning into a footboard for Scooter's bed, but it was cold enough the paint was pretty thick. I decided not to refill the tray, since I'd finished using up the paint that was in it. I tossed the aluminum foil I'd lined it with, since it was getting sticky and decided to line it when I go out to paint again. Hopefully, that will be tomorrow.

Trimming up the apple tree? Yeah. Didn't happen, but I bet you knew that was coming by now, didn't you? By the time The Hubster finished his run, the wind had picked up a bit, and it was too cold for these aching muscles to head out into a brisk breeze to try to get more apples. For the next week, the squirrels and birds will have an all you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner bar. If there's anything left, when we trim the branches next weekend, we'll gladly pick them, but we're not expecting anything.

While my husband was out on his run today, I noticed that the 2 pears on the pear tree turned yellow overnight. They finally ripened! I was so excited! This is the first year the pear tree has produced any fruit, so we've been dying for them to ripen, so we could savor them. I could practically taste them, and the mere thought of them made my mouth water.

Hubby had to run to the store shortly after he came back from his run, so I asked him, if he could grab the pears. Then I decided to go out and take a picture of our first pears hanging on the tree. We were both more than a bit disappointed to see that in the short hour and a half or so from the time I saw them to the time we went out to pick the pears that a squirrel had gotten to them. The squirrel knocked one down to the crook of the tree and decided to help himself to the other one. Of course the squirrel's eyes were bigger than his stomach, and he ate 2 or 3 bites off the bigger
pear (of course!) and then left it to rot. :::sigh:::

If, by chance, painting is not meant to happen tomorrow, like us having 2 fresh pears from our pear tree wasn't meant to be, I'll find other things to do.

I may be meant to do laundry tomorrow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I think our paint has gnat pheromones in it.

The weather wasn't quite as cooperative today as I was hoping. It was overcast all day, so it didn't get quite warm enough to dry the paint on one of the headboards. I won't be able to put the second coat of paint on it until tomorrow. However, I was able to finish up the other headboard and get 2 coats of black paint on the feet of the dresser and in the squares at the top. I'm just hoping the weather is a little sunnier and warmer tomorrow. I really want to get this stuff finished up.

Took down more of the apple tree today. The branch The Hubster cut off was quite dry, so it came down, and we got as many apples from it as we could. It was frustrating to find that a large percentage of the bigger apples would have one or two bites out of them yet still be hanging on the tree. We'd go to pick them, and turn them around to see a big hole with teethmarks in them. We actually watched one squirrel sitting in the crook of the tree eating his apple and turning it like a corn on the cob while staring us down. I wish I'd have had my camera at the time. It was cute.

Hubster helped me hang some more plastic on the porch, so it's a bit more weather proofed. We don't want any of the freshly painted furniture getting wet or having little bits of dust blow in and get caught in the paint. I've picked out less debris in the fresh paint than gnats. They start buzzing around when I'm painting. They get closer and closer to the fresh oil based paint like they just can't get enough of it. Soon, it's though there's a huge magnet that sucks them right into the paint. I then have to wait for the paint to dry, scrape what I can of the carcass off hoping it doesn't smear too much, and then paint the surface again.

Stupid little bugs.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fifteen hours of sleep and a nekkid headboard.

I was a little off on my timing yesterday afternoon when I posted that I started the post a bit after 3:00 and would be in bed by 5:00. The clock on my computer was off, so it was actually after 4:00 when I wrote my post, and I was a little late getting into bed, but I was asleep by 5:35. Out. Cold.

Aside from waking up to use the restroom, I slept through until this morning when the alarm went off shortly after 5:00 to get the girls ready for school. I didn't actually get out of bed until 5:25, though. I had a really hard time getting up. Once the girls were off to school, I sat on my heating pad for a few minutes while The Hubster was off on his run. When he got back a couple hours later, he woke me up and asked, if I wanted to go to bed. I remember looking at the clock around 7:40, but that's the last thing I remembered before he came home. I ended up going back to bed for awhile, and I didn't wake up until 11:00.

My body obviously needed the sleep.

And while I'm not as sleepy tonight as I was last night, I am tired. I'm sure I'll sleep just fine tonight. I decided not to take the new pain medicine today. Just in case it was the cause for the fatigue, I figured I'd let it get completely out of my system before I try it again. If it happens again, I'll know I need to stay away from it. I really can't afford to be sleeping 15 hours a day when I have so much that needs to be done!

Speaking of things needing done...I'm almost finished with my painting. I painted for several
hours today, and I'm thrilled to have gotten so much done. While I gave myself until next weekend to finish everything up, I think I'll be done before then. Yay!

I took pictures of the headboard while it was still nekkid and then after I got the first coat of paint on it (after the 2 coats of primer had dried). I love it. The paint totally changed the look of the headboard! I think it looks almost elegant now.



I finished painting the bookshelf/entertainment center awhile back. It's in the left of this picture but facing forward. I just have to add the black knobs between the black lines on the drawer. The dresser that's on the workbench is done except for the black I'll be adding to it.


This is the top of the dresser. It might be sort of hard to see the squares, but I'll be painting every other one of them black tomorrow for a bit of a checkerboard look. Then, I'll be painting the feet black, too.

Once I'm done with that, I'll be adding the hutch to the top of it. It's the one on the right in this picture below the writing. There's a drawer that goes in the bottom, but I realized I really need to paint the inside of the drawer. It's too dark. In fact, the entire inside of the hutch was that dark stain before I started painting it. It would have been such a nifty place for spiders with a death wish to hide, but this way, I can find them more easily to help them on their way to find their Maker.


This last picture shows what I have left to paint over the next few days. I should be able to get it all primed with 2 coats tomorrow and possibly get the first coat of paint on it before I'm done with them for the day. The little garden gates go on the bottom shelf of the book case that's to the left in the last picture before this one. It will go in Scooter's room. Then the drawer, which is all the way in the back behind everything else in the picture, and the door frames that are in the front will go on the hutch that's in the right of the picture above. I'll be putting fabric panels up inside it instead of windows. And the last stuff I'm going to paint is doll furniture that Bugster used and doesn't want anymore. I'll be painting them for Scooter to use with her babies.

I'm thrilled I'm nearing an end to all the painting with the oil based paint. I love how it looks when it's all done. I just don't care for the smell. Once all of these are done and out of the way, I'll work on painting the four doors we bought for downstairs. They're all in varying states of paint at this point, so it shouldn't take too long.

Hopefully.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Choo. Choo.

The doctor put me on a new pain med yesterday. I'm not sure, if it's what's causing the fatigue, or if it's my fibromyalgia. I just know I'm having a horrible time staying awake and I hurt all over. My arms in particular are very sore. I'm pretty sure it's the fibro with them. That, and I overworked them painting this morning.

If I paint tomorrow, I should be finished with all the larger pieces of furniture, and I'll only have the last table top, the headboard and footboard as well as the doors for 2 of the larger pieces of furniture left to paint with the oil based paint and then the doors with the latex paint. I'm glad I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm even more thankful it's not a train.

Medically, I feel like it is the train at the end of the tunnel, though. I'm a bit frustrated that the surgery I had at the beginning of August didn't do what we were hoping it would and in fact appears to have made things worse. Unfortunately, I'm afraid it may mean more surgery, and I really don't want that. It would be a more serious surgery, and I'd be laid up for several weeks. I'm really hoping we can figure out an alternative to surgery. I'll be seeing my doctor again next week. Hopefully, I'll get some answers.

I'm exhausted tonight, so I think I'm going to go to bed as soon as the girls go to bed tonight. My body is obviously telling me it needs rest, so I am going to listen. It's a little past 3:00 in the afternoon as I write this. I would be surprised, if I'm up past 5:00. It's days like today I appreciate that the girls go to bed so early during the school year.

I'm hoping I can get caught up on things tomorrow.

I'll be back then.