Monday, July 27, 2015

Where I've Been and Where This Blog Is Heading

Wow. Three months since my last post. I shouldn't be surprised as that seems to be normal for me, but I don't like my sporadic posting schedule. (If you can even call it a schedule!)  I'll get to my ideas for this blog in a minute, but first, I want to update you all on where I've been.

As most of you know I am a full time special education teacher in addition to being a wife, a mom, and a doctoral candidate. With all of the budget cuts education has faced in recent years, my workload increased significantly this past school year. From April through June I struggled to keep my head above water. Add to that the pressure to finish my dissertation and prepare for my defense on July 1 and I wasn't sure I was going to get everything finished. I will admit that I was not the ideal wife or mother. Of all the hats I wear, wife is the one that seems to be the one that has taken a back seat. The Hubs has been amazing and really patient with me as I struggle with all that needs to be done. I truly don't know where I would be without that man.

I seriously don't know where I would be without this amazing man.  I feel blessed to call him my husband!

 On July 1st I (successfully) defended my dissertation and became Dr. Wilt! Despite that brief victory I had a massive amount of corrections and revisions to make to my work so that I could resubmit for my committee's review. I can't begin to tell you how sick I am of looking at that blessed research paper. I hope to be on the tail end of finishing so that I can have my life back!

What's up doc?  Me with my amazing (and very patient) committee.

Of course, now that I have finished, I have decided that maybe school administration is where I want to be so I start more classes in the fall to add that endorsement onto my license. I'm pretty sure I've lost my mind, but I really believe this is the path I am meant to follow.

Babycakes is no longer a baby. This independent-minded little girl is now FOUR!!! I seriously feel it has gone by so quickly. She gives us a run for our money but I love spending time with this little lady.

I can't believe this kid is FOUR!!!
Now that I am wrapping up my doctoral work I want to spend more time on my blog. I've been thinking about what I should blog about (other than my awesome little family). I picked up Emily Matchar's book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity at my public library and found that I am really enjoying it. (A lot more than I expected too, actually.) I have always enjoyed what folks these days call the "domestic arts." Ever since I can remember I have enjoyed things like sewing, cooking, organizing and crafting. Some things have come with time (canning and gardening) while others have never appealed to me (spring cleaning anyone?).

Over the past couple of months years I have really let my house go. I mean, the cat actually runs from her own furballs! Not really, but it's pretty gross. I can't stand living in chaos. I feel like everything I am responsible for is in a constant state of disorganization. Oh who are we kidding? I am in a constant state of disorganization. I mean, look at this...

In my defense, I had dumped the tub to go through all of the stuff.
That dumped tub has been under my desk, waiting for me to go through the contents for at least 18 months. I can't claim time because I have plenty of time to sit on my patootie and watch YouTubers clean and organize their spaces, but heaven forbid I do anything like that here!

I also have a terrible habit of buying planners. I think I currently have 5 different "systems" I keep juggling between in an effort to get myself organized. Clearly it's not working. I miss stuff because it's written in another planner and I clearly need to focus on one and get on with it. But my planning woes are for another post.

Back to Matchar's book (blogger ADD anyone???). One chapter is about blogs that are dedicated to what the author coins, "the new domesticity" and their increasing popularity. One quote that resonated with me was this, "blogs can give emotional value to housework." Maybe that's what I need to get myself together, some sort of value on what I need to do. So I started thinking, maybe I can blog my disorganized self into a more organized life.

There are certain blogs I started following and enjoyed until they got to the point where it seemed more like a magazine than someone's actual house. While they are fun for getting ideas, I prefer blogs that are written by folks who live in REAL houses with REAL messes. I don't discredit those folks who have beautiful homes that appear to be professionally decorated. I might have a home like that too if circumstances were different. But I have different goals, dreams and a much tighter budget than some. I love me some Restoration Hardware but I don't live anywhere close to one and couldn't pay for that stuff even if I did.

So here are some of my goals for this blog...

1. Post weekly about my journey to reclaim my house from all of the junk I have accrued.
2. Admit my mistakes and failures so that you can see I am human and will (hopefully) make you feel better about making your own mistakes and helping you to move past them.
3. Provide budget friendly ideas for cleaning/organizing your homes.
4. Have FUN!

I hope you will stick around as I begin this new phase in my blog.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Small Scale Spring Cleaning

Spring is finally beginning to make an appearance here at Wilted Acres! That being said, I wanted to share a quick organizing project with you. 

We have a tv cabinet in our master bedroom where we store all of our DVDs. Babycakes loves to get in there and play or "clean."  Our TV cabinet ends up looking like this...

After a quick trip to Dollar Tree and an investment of less than $10 our tv cabinet now looks like this...

Babycakes helped me organize this and loved every second of helping me. While I know it won't last forever (the organized cabinet or my little helper) I plan on enjoying it while I can!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Time to Tighten Our Belts...

      When the hubs and I started dating in late 2004 I immediately fell in love with his house. Wood floors, oak trim, metal kitchen cabinets, old house charm. He was told it was built in 1952, but when I did a little research, I found that it had actually been build around 1946. Right after the end of WWII when the house boom was in full force. While I am not a big history buff, I find the 1940s to be one of the most interesting time periods in American history. So much change in the world and there are still people we can talk to (like my beautiful Grandma) who can remember what is was like to live in that day and age.  But I digress from the purpose of this post - belt tightening.
      Unfortunately, time and water have wrecked havoc on our little house and is now in need of some serious TLC.
Here you can see the paint peeling off of the wall. There are also some white crystals growing on the wall as a result of water filling the chambers in the cinder block of the walls. Apparently it's not harmful, just gross.

Here is an idea of the bowing the walls are encountering.

And the cracks that are going along with the bowing.

This is the worst area in the basement. It's in a corner and until the Hubs called someone in to look I had never seen it.

This REALLY shows the bowing of the walls.
      We have had several companies come in and give us their opinions on what to do. Estimates have been upwards of $60,000!!! After speaking with a structural engineer we have a plan - steel I-beams to reinforce the walls, a backhoe to dig around the outside of the house, power wash and seal the outer walls, and backfilling with a material other than the clay soil that is currently surrounding the house. That being said, we have to come up with the cash to do this.
      Like many folks in today's housing market we are upside down in the mortgage of this house. Unfortunately we are also upside down in the mortgage of the house I bought before the Hubs and I got married.  After meeting with a financial planner and discussing our options we have decided we are going to have to sell the house I own and am currently renting out. Here's the rub, I owe WAY more than it would sell for (think about $35,000 more). We are struggling with how to handle this. The Hubs is one to face a problem head on and deal with it ASAP while I tend to bury my head in the sand and hope it will go away (even though I know this just makes it worse!). So we need to combine forces, take our time to research the options available, and make the choice that will work best for our family.  
     We considered selling our current home and moving into the house I am renting but decided that was not what we want for our family. After all, this is where our family began. Our first date was a BBQ the Hubs invited me to held here at Wilted Acres. Not only that but we have a host of family memories here!

                                        We had our wedding reception in the backyard....

                                This was the house we brought Babycakes home to live...

                                     We had our first family photo taken out by the pear tree...       

                         We laid my old friend to rest in the backyard when it was time to say good-bye...

celebrated LOTS of holidays...



...and Christmas.

And then there is just everyday living...

....storytime with Uncle C,

....a summer day with my favorite girl :-),

...or just swinging on the back porch.

      So while this old house has brought about some stress, it has also forced me to really look at all that it has provided to us. I have a tendency to complain about how incredibly small this house is and it's failure to meet our needs. However, I have come to realize this house has become a part of our family. As a member of our family, we need to take care of her and give her what she needs. So it's time for us to tighten our belts and live with less so that we can give this old house what she needs. I'm going to try and start a "Frugal Friday" series. Hopefully this will be a way for me to document the frugal changes and choices we need to make so that we can repair our house.

 So tightened your belts! It's going to be quite a journey!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Who Has Time for New Year's Resolutions???

I just finished reading one of my favorite blogs, Homemakers Daily. In it, Patty shared that she doesn't make resolutions because "her plate is full" right now. I don't know why this resonated with me, but it did.

Since the week after Christmas folks have been posting their resolutions/goals/"word of the year" all over social media. I've seen great resolutions and goals (I really can't grasp the whole "word of the year" thing, but kudos to those who make it work!). Despite a lot of inspiration nothing has really resonated with me as far as resolutions. Sure, I have more, get in shape, eat better, be a better mom, be a better wife, etc. - but nothing measurable. Nothing I want to make a full blown resolution.

I've noted some things that I need/want to do to make better use of my time. The biggest thing has been giving up my knitting hobby. While this may not seem like a big deal I can't recall giving up a hobby as an adult. I've boxed up my yarn, needles, everything to give to a family member who is just getting started in the hobby. I'm not going to lie, it's going to be hard to send all of that stuff out the door because I spent a lot of money on it.  But it was getting to the point that I didn't enjoy the craft anymore. Unfinished projects loomed over my head and I had a hard time getting myself into a mentality where I enjoyed picking up my needles to knit. Life is too short to waste time on something that doesn't bring me joy.

I've also pared down the blogs I follow. Each time I fired up my laptop I would see 400+ blog posts I hadn't read. That stressed me out. It felt like one more thing I was falling behind in doing. I read blogs because I LIKE them. They shouldn't cause me stress. So I pared down my RSS feed to five blogs. That doesn't mean I don't read others, I just couldn't manage the number of posts on my feed when I was following 25 different blogs. Next on my list is to reduce the number of channels I follow on YouTube.

So what about you? Do you make resolutions? Goals? Have a "word of the year?" I'd love to hear your thoughts on my resolution to not make a resolution. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Struggles in a Vintage Era Kitchen

I've just about had it with my kitchen. Built in the 1940s I continue to struggle to keep it organized in the new millennium. While I love the vintage charm of the oak trim, the original metal cabinets, and enormous size I hate the layout. No cook's triangle in this space!  

Case in point, I came home from the grocery store just as the Hubs was putting supper on the table. He is a rock star in the kitchen and I must give a shout out to his culinary skills. 

Anywho, after supper this is what the kitchen looked like. (Be warned, it is not a photo for the faint of heart!)

In all fairness, this picture was taken was not long after I decided I couldn't take things the way they were organized anymore. I had actually put it on my brain dump list earlier today and was surprised myself when I got the burning desire to fix this mess once and for all. So with label maker in hand I got to work. 

The corner cabinet by the stove now has Babycakes' dishes as well as all of my baking tools and mixing bowls. 

This semi-circular cabinet houses the cat food, chips, and other miscellaneous food items. And the area I am most proud of....  Next to the refrigerator...drumroll please...

In full geek fashion I used my label maker in this cabinet. I'll label the others at a layer date but wanted to show off what's been done so far. It took me a little over an hour but I think it will save that time and more in the long run. 

Here's to an organized kitchen!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Thoughts on Having an Only Child

I'm going to tell you a secret...I didn't always want to be a mother. Between the ages of 18 and 20 I was going to be a career woman. No kids for me - just a smokin' hot husband! ;-)  

In my early twenties I decided that I wanted kids, but not until I was at least 30, so that I could travel, advance my career, and enjoy my youth.  This was not a bad plan for me. 

At 23 I got married and we decided to wait until we were married for five years before having children. Between the ages of 24 and 25 it started. That desire for a baby. I knew I wasn't ready, and neither was my then husband. We traveled, we moved around a lot (he was in the military), and we enjoyed our youth. As the years passed my desire for a family grew stronger while his desire grew weaker. Then, at the ripe "old" age of 30 it happened. 


By 31 I was divorced and living with my mom. I was devastated. Not one to be kept down I decided to earn my Master's degree and begin my new life. It happened while I was grieving the loss of my first marriage.  It totally snuck up on me when I wasn't looking. I met HIM. My soulmate.

We were both mourning relationships that had gone south. We comforted one another and talked about our dreams for the future. During this time of our blossoming friendship and companionship we fell in love. (Insert AWWWWWWW!)

We dated for more than three years before we got engaged. We were both gun shy - afraid of the pain from our previous relationships.

 I truly believe in God's perfect timing. I needed to go through the joy and the angst of the first marriage to truly appreciate what I have now. 

We agreed right away that we wanted to have children. Two was what we wanted. A boy and a girl (so cliched, right?) We waited until we had been married for two years before we started trying for a baby. Within three months I was pregnant. We were overjoyed! For six amazing weeks I rested and enjoyed the "glow" and attention given to me as a new life was growing inside of me. Then, like a light switch, it started. 

Morning sickness.

I'm not talking eat a couple of Saltines before you get out of bed you'll feel better in a little while. I'm talking nausea 24/7. I tried everything - vitamins, ginger ale, sea bands, Saltines - nothing helped. But because I wasn't losing weight medication was not recommended. People told me I would forget all about being sick once the baby came.  Four years later I haven't forgotten.

While the nausea subsided around Thanksgiving of that year, I still didn't feel any kind of blissful glow. I felt more of a wretching green. I wish I could say I just woke up one morning and it was gone. But it lingered throughout the pregnancy. While it wasn't constant, it would sneak up on me when my defenses were down. Like in the middle of the state mandated writing test I was giving. I won't give you the details of that one.

After 40 weeks and 3 days I went into labor...for 43 hours. No, I was not one of those women who wanted to have a "natural" childbirth. I wanted to give birth in a medicinal haze with a big, goofy grin on my face. Little Miss was ready to make her debut but my body was not cooperating. In addition to the contractions (which I don't really remember) I had back labor (which I remember in vivid detail). Worst. Pain. Ever. After the 43 hours of labor my amazing husband told them they had to do something. NOW. So off to the OR we rolled where, after just a few minutes, Babycakes made her debut. I was exhausted but I was finally in that medicinal haze with the goofy grin on my face!

I nursed that beautiful girl for 10 glorious months. I was tired all. the. time. Making milk is hard work. They don't tell you that in the books. I made the choice to do it because my mom did it for us. I cherished those times together. I also cherished the bottle times that followed. I still cherish the times when she lets me rock her in the chair.

I LOVE being a mommy. I can't think of anything I would rather do with my life. But I can't do it a second time. Physically or emotionally. I did get pregnant just before Babycakes turned 2 but God needed another angel. He took that sweet baby's soul on my late father-in-law's birthday. I know "Daddy Gene" is rocking that baby until I meet him/her one day after my work here on Earth is through. Many have asked if the miscarriage is the reason we have decided not to have another baby. The answer is, "No." 

I am now 41 years young and the Hubs is 47. We will be approaching retirement age when Babycakes graduates from college. I love our family just the way it is! While my "plan" was to have at least two children, God has led me to the decision to only have one child. Am I sad there won't be another baby? Sometimes. Do I wonder if Babycakes will be okay without siblings? Absolutely! But I have to trust in my heavenly Father and the choice he has led us to in this. I have a feeling He has other things in store for our small family. We just need to trust in His timing and His choices for our lives.