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August, 2012:

A Place To Sleep

Hubby came home to the crude life-sized model of the desired triple bunk bed for Chelsea, Rebecca, and their Guest. Of COURSE Hubby and Princess had to get right to work! After inspecting the bed and making a list, we were off to Home Depot! Hubby and Princess made some expert measurements on the 4×4 piece of wood we purchased, and headed outside for a lesson with the table saw (as Princess says, it’s a little bigger than the sewing machine).

 

Then, it was time to actually cut . . .

 

**I love how my Princess is always put together and looks wonderful no matter what she’s doing 😉

After all the cuts were made, it was time to glue and screw the bed rails onto the beds before painting. Princess learned about wood to wood gluing and clamps – very interesting stuff 😉

 

She couldn’t wait for the painting part, so she already changed into painting clothes before the clamping of the bed rails. When the glue dried, it was time to PAINT – woo hoo! She picked out some wonderful colors. Notice how I’m the lucky person who gets to hold the board while she spray paints. Yes, that’s a blue stripe on my hand – in hindsight, gloves might have been a good idea!

 

 

The head board, foot board, and 3 bunks painted and drying. I’m not quite sure the bed will be colorful enough for the girls 😉

 

 

After a night of drying, Hubby and Princess headed down to the laundry room (yes it was laundry day!) to assemble the bunks. This time, a lesson in measuring, leveling, and drilling.

 

And, TA DA! The finished product!

 

The girls apparently have pets that like to sleep with them 😉 Princess used some of my scrapbooking stickers to add the girls’ names to their bunks. She also added some glow in the dark bugs and butterflies as well as some hooks so the girls could hang up their robes (that they don’t own – is this a hint that we need to go to the store???).

 

The whole project was a lot of fun for all of us, and Princess got to learn about sewing and using the table saw all in one week :-) I’ll have to check the Girl Scout book – she’s got to be able to check off some requirements for badges with that!

Thirteen – The Aftermath

I was sifting through some photos this weekend of our trip to Alaska. I came across this one. I must’ve completely blocked it out of my brain. This is what your laundry room looks like when a family of 4 comes back from a 2-week trip to Alaska.

 

Thirteen loads of laundry. And that does NOT include the 2 loads we did the night we got back so Jason could have his stuff to pack for Boy Scout summer camp!

Waldo Canyon Fire – From A Distance

As many of you may know, our city and residents experienced a devastating forest fire that started June 23rd and is still burning in small spots. While I am thankful our house was not in danger and my family and friends are safe, it was an amazing thing to watch Mother Nature let all of us know just who is really in charge.

On the morning of June 23rd around 11:00 a.m., Hubby, my Mom, and the kiddos were driving on I-25 to downtown COS. We noticed this tiny plume of smoke rising out of the foothills. It was quite interesting. We checked the news, and what we found was an article stating there is a tiny fire burning in Waldo Canyon, and that the Fire Department has had eyes on it for some time. They were sending crews in to contain it.

About an hour later, we saw this come over the buildings downtown.

 

By the time we’d finished our shopping about 2 hours after saw our first tiny plume, we were on our way home, and this is what it looked like. Much darker and spreading.

It was a beautiful sunny day with very warm temperatures. I took this shot of the smoke from my cul de sac, quite a few miles north and east of the fire area.

 

 On Sunday the 24th, it was time to take the kiddos up to the mountains for summer camp. The smoke was so thick on highway 24 and the fire was quite close (AND they wanted to keep the road clear for emergency crews), so they closed the highway. At first I was a bit nervous taking the kiddos to the mountains for a week of summer camp given the circumstances, but then I figured they were going to one of the safest places in the state. The YMCA camp they were going to was right in the middle of the burn area from the ginormous Hayman fire of 2002. There wasn’t anything left to burn. So we headed out on the long back way to camp.

Hubby was gone flying, and I had to drop Mom off at the airport on our way back through Denver. I spent the next 5 days by myself, with a giant fire burning far enough away that my house was safe, but close enough that I still had to close the windows at any given moment because the campfire smell was too strong or that I had to sweep the ash off of my deck. A number of neighborhoods had been evacuated and many more were on pre-evacuation orders. Woodland Park was starting to feel the effects of being isolated with gas stations running out of gas and fast food restaurants closing.

On Tuesday the 26th, the smoke was heavier and blowing more toward my house – that was a hot day in the house with all the windows closed! The entire state was “closed for business” as far as fire. 100% complete fire ban (ours was not the only fire burning!). No fireworks. All the parades and fireworks shows were cancelled. Why the parades? Because all the emergency personnel were working the fire.

I made plans to meet QT and Ed for happy hour at 4:00 p.m. As I headed out, of the neighborhood, I heard on the news that the fire had started burning in Queens Canyon, which meant it had gone over the ridge and out of Waldo Canyon, one canyon closer to the city. So far, only one campground building had burned.

I backed out of the driveway and saw this from my cul de sac.

 

As I drove down the road toward my “Happy Hour” destination, it was difficult to be happy when I was looking at this.

Darker smoke and LOTS of it. The wind was picking up – a lot! I wasn’t excited about being home alone, so I answered QT’s call and said yes, I still wanted to meet. As we sat at the bar eating wings and drinking beer, our eyes were glued to the news. We heard reports of the entire Mountain Shadows neighborhood being evacuated QUICKLY – no time to grab anything. We heard of the weather that was coming – windy weather without any moisture whatsoever. We heard the firefighters talking about their worst fear – a huge gust of wind that would blow the fire over the ridge. We watched firefighters talk about how they were doing everything they could to hold the fire line, but the planes and helicopters had been grounded due to the huge amounts of dark smoke and windy weather.

Then we watched as the unthinkable happened. A giant 65 mph gust of wind blew. And it blew the fire right out of Queens Canyon and over the ridge. Once the fire was on the downhill, it was unstoppable. Fire crews were pulled out just in time. The fire engulfed the neighborhood.

Homes were burning. We were checking Facebook to get reports from friends, coworkers, acquaintences we knew that lived in that neighborhood.

We watched as homes burned right on TV. We watched as people crowded into the quickly set up shelters. We watched until we couldn’t watch anymore.

On the way home, I decided I needed to pack up our necessary stuff – birth certificates, business files, jewelry, photos, laptops – and find a storage shed for it so I didn’t have to worry about it while we were gone in Alaska. As I packed up stuff, I listened to the news. When I heard how bad it had gotten, I watched the news. In all, 350 homes burned to the ground, although we wouldn’t know that number for a good 24-36 hours while authorities assessed the damage and noted the addresses of the houses that were lost. 2 lives lost – they were found in their home the next day.

It was devastating. It’s difficult to be happy that your house is still there when so many people have no idea what they are going to do and have been completely devastated.

Personally, we only knew one family that lost their home. The graphic designer that we hire to do stuff for our business lost her home. The next day, she sent us some files she was working on for us. When we asked about her home, she said it was “toast” and sent us an aerial photo with an X marking the spot where her home had stood a mere 18 hours earlier. She’d been up all night at a friend’s house – working. Working to keep her mind off what was happening.

In the following weeks, there was an amazing outpouring of support from the community. Care and Share organized a food/supplies donation drive for the firefighters and evacuees. It was refreshing to have to wait in line for 30 minutes to drop stuff off! The Care and Share lady said that they were overwhelmed – that they can spend 4 months organizing a food drive for Thanksgiving or Holiday or anything else and not receive 1/5 of the donations they received in a few days.

We went on vacation a few days later, with the fire still raging and the homes smoldering. In the two weeks we were gone, we tried not to think about it, although we did keep up a little. When we came back, the skies were clear, the campfire smell was gone, and the fire was contained. We still don’t know how the fire started. It’s difficult for anyone to accept that it could’ve been lightning when the fire started so early on a clear blue day.

Many thanks to all the firefighters and emergency personnel who spent days upon days fighting the fire to save as many homes as possible.

Just this week, almost 7 weeks later, the fire restrictions were lifted in 20 counties around the state. Here’s to hoping for wet skies and smart people out enjoying our beautiful state.

Rugby

I strongly believe that when you reach the age where you can compete in sports through/for your school, you should do so. Why? Because…

  • School spirit! Go Thunder!
  • Sense of school pride.
  • You get to meet kids from school and get to know them outside the classroom.
  • You get to know teachers/coaches outside the classroom.
  • You occassionally get dismissed from school early for “away” meets/games/showdowns.
  • You get to meet kids from other grades.
  • It’s cheaper than “club” sports.
  • Chicks love a guy in uniform (which are free!).
  • Mom loves not having to drop off AND pick up for practice and games. Just pick up – yay!

Really, I could go on and on.

But, my Dude wasn’t really interested in fall baseball since it would be in a different league (whew – that would’ve been a lot of running for me!).  He did not want to play football (the only other school-sponsored sport for 7th graders). He was actually OK with cross country. He’s good at it. He was going to do it.

UNTIL his buddy H discovered a rugby league in town! It’s a spring sport, but they do run a fall mini-league.

Yes. My son has decided to play Rugby this fall. A sport I really know nothing about. Except that at the end of the match/game/set (???) the large men are very dirty and bloody (at least that’s what they show on TV – and we all know everything we see on TV is totally true).

Neither my Dude nor H are large – by any stretch of the imagination. They might be considered large for 4th graders, which is really no help since they’re 7th graders.

I don’t like to see my Dude bloody.

I may have to take “loaded” water bottles to the practices and games ala college, to get me through the fall “sampler” season.

4th and 7th

Well, they did it. Against my pleas and begging, they both started a new grade this year. While I’m happy they are both smart and able to advance through the grades, my BABY is already a 4th grader, and my Dude is in the middle of the middle school! ACK!

Here’s my beautiful Princess ready for her first day, looking more like she’s ready for a cocktail party than her 1st day of 4th grade . . . but it’s SO her! I love it :-)

 

Today, on her second day, she wore black calf-high sweat pants, a purple t-shirt, a black hoodie, a ponytail, and glasses – yes, my girl can rock all kinds of looks;-)

And then there’s my Dude. When I asked him a week or so ago if he needed to go shopping for anything, he said “No. I’m pretty good to go I think.” When I asked him last weekend what he was going to wear his first day of school he said “Mom! It’s only Saturday. School isn’t until Thursday. I have no idea!”

When I asked him Tuesday what he was going to wear his first day of school he said “Mom! It’s only Tuesday! School isn’t until Thursday! I’ll probably think about it Wednesday night before I go to bed.”

When I asked him Wednesday what he was going to wear his first day of school, and suggested some things like his Twins jersey or his button-down AE shirt, he said “Na. I’ll probably just wear shorts and a t-shirt like all the other guys in the 7th grade.”

And here you have it – my Dude ready for his 1st day of 7th grade. As you can see, he put a lot of time and effort into his choice (and clearly pulled this t-shirt out from the bottom of his drawer!)  :-)

 

There they go – day 1. 181 more to go . . .

Slow

I’ve always been a working mom. I never thought it would be any other way. I need adult interaction every day (not always possible with a traveling Hubby). I need time away from the kids. I need to feel my brain challenged. I need to feel like I’m contributing.

Until last July . . . when I quit my contract job and started “working” at home. Yes, I do work for our little business. And yes, I do a little work for the big business and have quite a to do list at the moment (entirely my fault!). But this summer, I haven’t really done much work at all. Since the day the kids got out of school last May, I’ve been playing with them, toting them around, planning vacations, setting up play dates, etc. I got to sit on the deck and watch them play airsoft and tag and whatever else it was they did with their friends all day. All kinds of stuff I never got to do over a summer before. This was my first summer as a non-working parent. I must say that I LOVED it.

Dude and Princess are both at awesome ages where they’re so fun to do stuff with, and they can totally be relied on to entertain themselves if I need to get some work done.

I will continue to work at home for our two businesses, and while it does not satisfy my need to feel like I’m contributing, for adult interaction, and for keeping my mind busy and learning, I’ve got enough volunteer gigs to last me until the kids graduate to fulfill all those needs.

If you ask my family, I think they’d all agree that I’m much less stressed than I was a year ago. If you ask me, I KNOW I’m much less stressed than I was a year ago.

But what have I noticed most about my new setup? I’ve slowed down . . . physically and mentally. I ran some errands today – had to return some things, pick some things up. I was walking into Sports Authority, and as I was walking across the parking lot, it hit me. I was walking slowly.

I wasn’t speed-walking.

I wasn’t mapping out the store in my mind so I could get what I needed and get out as quickly as possible.

I was enjoying a leisurely walk across the parking lot on a beautiful day.

I realized how good the cool breeze felt.

I recognized how comfortable my tennies were :-)

I noticed how happy it made me to see them putting up the Sniagrab tent!

I realized I was actually thinking these things!

It was a nice feeling, to slow down and take in what was around me.

And even with all of the travelling we did this summer, it’s been really nice to be able to slow down and take in what’s going on with my kiddos, rather than just trying to figure out how we’re going to fit it all into each day.

Now that they’re going back to school this week, I’ll get back on my work horse and actually start contributing to the businesses and making a little moolah . . . wish me luck on getting back to work!

Duct Tape

Duct tape can fix anything. Really! Like when I was a kid and our boat got a hole in the bottom of it, we patched it up with some duct tape until we could get it fixed. We used the boat to pull skiers leak-free for weeks! Like when my friend’s VW Bug lost its back bumper, and we taped it on with duct tape. It lasted through an entire MN winter!
So when Princess informed me that ever American Girl doll NEEDS a bed to sleep in, because there is no way a plastic doll could be comfortable enough on a foam sleeping pad inside a fleece blanket, we decided to build a prototype. If I HAD to build a 3-bed bunk bed, I could do it. But I’d rather get a lesson with the giant saw before I teach my daughter how to use it 😉 So anyhoo, Princess and I pulled out some old cardboard squares I had from scrapbooking along with a roll of duct tape. We measured and tested and taped and wrote down everything for when we could actually buy wood and make a 3-bed bunk. ***If you’re wondering why 2 dolls need a 3-bed bunk, it’s just in case McKenna comes over for a playdate and sleepover 😉
THIS is what we came up with!
We did end up cutting off about half of the top of the right board to make it more like a footboard, because our prototype HAD to be accurately measurable (Yes, my daughter has been cursed with my perfectionism!).
After reinforcing some of the cardboard, we put the sleeping pads and sleeping bags on the bed to see how they looked. We think they look pretty good!
Chelsea and Rebekkah liked it, too (they are modeling their $8 outfits), and they can’t wait for the real thing!
Now all we have to do is wait for Hubby to get home from Brazil so we can go wood and paint shopping and start making a 3-bed doll bunk :-)

Sleeping Bag Saturday

Quick background . . . Princess has a couple American Girl Dolls that she’s received as gifts. Clothes and crap for them is ridiculously expensive at the AGD store! Which is why we have gotten clothes at Target for a reasonable price, and why we were elated when we saw a booth at the Farmer’s Market yesterday selling homemade clothes for AG dolls for $8 each!

Princess wanted a sleeping pad and matching sleeping bag and pillow for each of her dolls. I told her I would NOT take her to the AGD store and buy this . . .

agdstore01

 

It costs $30! Cute? Yes! But not $30 cute. So yesterday, Priness and I spent the day making sleeping pads and matching sleeping bags/pillows for her dools. We did have to make a quick trip to JoAnn fabric for some fiberfill for the pillows and 1/2 inch foam for the sleeping pads. Cost? $12 – with enough foam for 3 pads and about 47 pillows :-)

Then we went through my left-over fabric stash. We started with this old white sheet and fiberfill . . .

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We cut the sheet the size of a doll pillow (~6×8), sewed it together with the machine (Princess almost remembered all the steps to fill a bobbin and thread the machine by herself!), and then Princess filled it.

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Ta da! Once complete doll pillow that cost maybe 5 cents :-)

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We made 5 of these before we decided to move on to the pillow cases. Once again, we used old sheets, this time some of Princess’.

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A few cuts and a few stitches later, voila!

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We made a couple pillow cases before we decided to move on to sleeping pads and sleeping bags. We’d found a remnant of foam at the store, so it was way cheap, and perfect to cut into 3 sleeping pads that were ~10×22. Then we used a different patterened sheet that used to be Princess’. We cut it to make a bag that would be tight around the pad (~22×25 folded in half the long way), stuffed the pad in, then sewed the top shut and trimmed the extra fabric. Dunno know why, but no photos of that!

Next, we moved on to sleeping bags! And really, what is a doll sleeping bag other than a pillow case? So, we used the pillow case that matched the sheets we used for the pads.

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We measured the pad again, then guesstimated now much extra we’d need to fit the sleeping pad and an American Girl doll inside it. Modifying the pillow case to the right size was easy! The first version turned out to have a bit of extra room width-wise, but it was a success! Here’s Rebekkah enjoying a nap on her new sleeping pad, pillow, and sleeping bag :-)

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We knew this would just be a prototype, because really, sheets are not an appropriate sleeping bag – not nearly warm enough or soft enough for a plastic doll to sleep in :-) So we dug around and found some more fabric in the bin. It was a piece of leftover blue fleece from when we made Daisy Scout uniforms! the great part? It was cut to almost the exact right size already – it was just a little too long. So we changed the thread, Princess sewed, and we ended up with this :-) Chelsea enjoying her blue fleece sleeping bag.

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Turns out, it was the perfect width, so we used that as our new template size (~26×26 folded in half – the extra on top allows for foldover at the top). We’d done our testing and figured out our dimensions for very little moolah. Yes, I could’ve said we are done, you have sleeping pads and sleeping bags with pillows, but we were having so much fun, we ran to JoAnn again to let Princess pick out some fabric. She found some really fun fleece in the discount bin, so she chose more than we had planned, but it was fun! We bought 3/4 yard of each pattern, which was not quite enough to make 2 bags and pillow cases out of each fabric. 2/3 would’ve been perfect for 1, and a full yard could’ve produced 2. Anyhoo, here are the cute fabrics she picked out.

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$50 for 3 covered sleeping pads, 5 pillows, 7 matching pillow cases and sleeping bags, a bunch of extra fleece*, and an entire day spent with my Princess . . . totally worth it :-)

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*We just decided that since we don’t have enough of each individual fleece for another set, we’re going to combing fleece patterns and sew them together to make one side of the bag one pattern and the other a different one – reversible! Time to get out the sewing machine!

Twelve

How did this happen???

j_12c

 

Just yesterday, he looked like this!

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The day before that, he looked like this!

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The day before that, I don’t remember what he looked like because I do not have ANY photos from August 2009. MOTY, right here!

But, the day before THAT? This is what he looked like!

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5 days ago, he looked like this!

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The day before that, he was doing this!

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But one week ago, he looked like this!

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And 8 days ago, he looked like this!

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The day before that? This!

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The day before that, he looked like this!

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And the day before that? This!

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And not even 2 weeks ago, my baby looked like this!

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How did this happen? How did my little spud grow up to be such a wonderful, kind, smart, funny, sensitive, talented, loving, compassionate young man?

I love you, Dude!

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TPLO

Here’s our wonderful awesome Duma. The only lab on the planet that would choose to lick her Boy’s face BEFORE eating the peanut butter sandwich the Boy is holding in his hand :-)

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My poor Duma has had a rough couple of months. In early June, the neighbor’s rotweiller got out of it’s yard and attacked my baby. Duma had a puncture wound in her left writst, and her left ear swelled up so huge that it stuck straight out. She’d torn the cartilage in it. So she had to go on prednisone (ick!) forever. And when you give a dog that already has incontinence issues steroids, it only gets worse.

She was doing really well on her predinisone – it was helping her ear, her writst had healed, and we were getting used to letting her out every our for potty breaks. The awesome thing about the prednisone is that it stopped her from itching all the time – her allergies weren’t bothering her! In the last week of June, we were getting really excited for our 2-week trip to Alaska when we let Duma out for her nightly duty before bed. When she came back in, I knew the limp. She’d torn her ACL. I have no idea how she did it, but she did – I recognized it from when our previous lab, Maggie, tore hers. Ack! It was Wednesday, June 28th and we were leaving on Friday!

Luckily, the vet made time for her on Thursday and confirmed what I already knew – torn ACL that would require surgery to repair. I explained about the prednisone and our trip, and the vet said that was fine. Duma had to be off the prednisone for 2 weeks before surgery anyway so it wouldn’t interfere with other pain meds. So we put my baby on an accelerated schedule to get off the prednisone – even then it would take 5 weeks! Vet assured me it was OK to board Duma for the 2 weeks we were gone because she couldn’t injure it further. We love the place we board Duma, so we called them to chat about the situation and they were more than happy to have her and give her extra lovin’ and downtime when needed.

When we got back from Alaska, I took her to the canine orthopedic surgeon (yes, they exist) that had done Maggie’s surgery. We had the chat, he noted the prednisone dosage and our NEXT vacation to MN for a week. We settled on an August 7th surgery date – that way Duma would be clean and clear of the prednisone for the required amount of time and we’ll be back from vacation with no other trips in the near future.

We picked Duma up from boarding on Monday when we got back from MN and took her for surgery on Tuesday the 7th. All went awesome. My baby has a plate and 5 screws in her knee and I have a much lighter checkbook :-) With the epidural and anesthesia, she was so droopy when she got home :-(

duma_droopy_eyes

 

Because of the epidural, Duma was expected to pee uncontrollably the first night until she could feel her legs again, so we confined her to her wire kennel we used when she was little (not that she was going anywhere anyway!). Princess felt bad for Duma, so she hopped in the kennel with her and was petting her and icing Duma’s knee. Then Princess got quiet … and decided to sleep with Duma last night :-)

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Duma is doing great today! She’s walking without us helping her with the sling. All we have to do is leash her to take her out to pee – other than that, she’s good to go. We have to ice and do physical therapy 3 times a day for a week, then PT turns into short walks outside on the leash. And Duma is happy as a clam about her meds! She may be the only lab on the planet that won’t eat peanut butter, but she LOVES herself a hotdog :-) So twice a day she gets 6 small pieces of hotdog with her 6 pills in them :-) I’m sure she’ll be quite bummed when the hotdog goodness stops abruptly in 10 days!

Dogs who tear one ACL have a 50% chance of tearing the other . . . I told Duma I did this surgery because she’s only 4, but I also made it perfectly clear that while I believe she is a $3k dog, she is NOT a $6k dog! Here’s to hoping she has a long happy life with her other ACL intact.