Define Family: Is It Blood Or Is It Loyalty? South Amherst, Ohio

I’m from small town America, in the true sense. And I graduated from a country school…literally…in the middle of a corn field. We even had tractor day…still do. That’s where you drive your tractor to school . Generally this was and is led by FFA. Future Farmers of America, which is a credit class offered by the school.

As a kid, it was next to impossible to just go ‘next door’ and find a friend to play with. It more or less required a phone call, a scheduled play date…and even if your buddy lived three houses away….that could be several miles down the road.

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My daughter on a morning hike.

And yet even tasked with such a feat as getting to the nearest house, there was a unity. A mindset, if you will. One where given that we were all out in the middle of nowhere….it was common sense, to help thy neighbor.

Many years ago, Firelands (my district), merged with South Amherst (the neighboring district). And we became one unit. To give you an idea of how Firelands is set up, it’s one of the largest districts in the state, with the smallest amount of students. It covers over 100 square miles. But given that it’s farm country, it’s so spaced out, it brings the actual student ratio way down.

And one thing that comes with all those fields, open space, the  occasional deer carcass  and …well….that ‘fresh’ country air…is a sense of family. Blood doesn’t even have to be part of the equation. It’s the common ground that unites people.

My dad is originally from West Virginia and my mother is from a neighboring small town in the area. Neither one has ever had an itch to live in the city. Dad grew crops and he was an electrician by trade, until he retired. He was a graduate of the South Amherst District long before the merger.  My mother worked at that country school I just mentioned. She was the counselor. They both retired a few years back. My Aunt and Uncle, live right smack in the heart of it all as well.

And way back when, I didn’t really notice what was going on around me. I was caught up in trying to find a car to get me ten miles down the road to my friends house….or a tractor…either would do. Or even Cinnamon…{that blasted batty horse that would run you straight out onto the road and under branch, just to get back to the hay}. But outside  my own little teenage thoughts, I drew a blank. I failed to notice the quiet, but insanely strong  heartbeat that echoed all around me.

Smack in the heart of South Amherst, there are two pubs. They’re directly across the street from each other. Train Wreck Tavern and Whiskeyville Still & Grill (formerly Wiley’s)…..or “The Hatfields and the McCoys”…no seriously.

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The funny thing is, while there’s always been a competition….there really isn’t…and there is….I know…weird. These aren’t your ordinary pubs. In some towns, there’s so many bars and restaurants, you’ll never see the same face twice. That might be good for a night of bar hopping, but there’s no real unity to it.

In South Amherst, these two bars...are it. There’s a couple further out into the country, still within the district and but part of the original Firelands prior to the merger. Crossroads and Czech Point; but they’re not lined up like the other two are. However, they have the same heart. When I tell you there was a tractor parked at Crossroads last month, I mean there was big fricken tractor…parked out front. And while those pubs require a further drive, the locals are more then willing to make the trek, pull up a stool and catch up on old times.   When the folks  come in to Whiskeyville and TrainWreck, they park at one and walk back and forth. As a result, there’s always been competition. And of course…..the occasional prank.

(Although…the lawn chair and work boots on the roof of Train Wreck last week…well….that was done by one of the locals….I have it narrowed down to one of two…and both have a heart of gold, a never ending supply of laughs and would give you the shirt off their backs. But they’re ornery as hell!

In a place where people are so far apart, the local pubs serve as a gathering  place. To catch up, help each other out, talk about Riddler’s baby soft fricken hair (how does he get it like that?!?!) and to share both sorrow and joy. It doesn’t seem to matter what may be going on in their own personal lives….in that momenttime stands still…they will set it all aside to be a source of comfort for friend in need. If someone had a bad day, the whole pub rallies around them. If someone needs shelter…they provide it. If someone needs a ride? It doesn’t matter if the driver’s going the opposite direction, they’ll get’em home.

I’ve seen both tears and laughter emerge on any given day. Mostly …..laughter. These are people who work their fingers to the bone. They bust their ass  and they don’t quit until the job is done. The pub floors during happy hour, typically have remnants of drywall, sawdust, roofing material, dirt and sweat. It’s blue collar America through and through. Many are Ford workers, who believe ‘Made in America’ truly means something.  These aren’t people who are looking for a free ride. These are folks who know the meaning of ‘blood, sweat and tears’.

And this is so much so…..that these folks make it a damn POINT…to go to BOTH pubs…..EACH AND EVERY TIME! Why? Loyalty to all the pub workers and friends on each side of coin. I’ve seen it time and time again. “ok….I’ll be back….gotta run across the street….don’t want the barmaid to think I forgot about her”. But they actually mean EXACTLY that, when they say it. It’s not a joke! 

At Train Wreck there’s a lovely barmaid the regulars call mom. She’s a shoulder to cry on when you need one. She watches out for basically….everyone.  A few times, the barmaids have switched bars. Like the one at Whiskeyville now, used to be across the street at Train Wreck. And whenever there’s a Poker Run, both bars are on the list.

And of course…..whenever there’s a feud ….both bars are involved. Now mind you…by feud…I mean the good old fashioned kind. The kind where folks are alive and shaking hands the next day. These men aren’t cowards. Cowards fight with guns and knifes. These folks…prefer hilarious pranks and ok…the occasional ‘duke it out’ match in the parking lot. Followed by an instant replay of the cameras the next day…just for another round of laughs. And in all honestly, it’s probably one of the safest places to hang out…anywhere! Hell, if you set your wallet on the counter at either pub and walk outside…it’s got a pub full of honest townsfolk keeping an eye on it. If you set your cell phone down though…that’s a different story. You’ll get home and find a ton of ridiculous photos in your gallery. I’m not saying that happened to Jason last week…cuz I didn’t see anything…. (Bob).  But hey…at least you’ll have something for Instagram.

There was that time that one of Whiskeyville’s barmaids took off for a few days and decided to leave her jeep in the parking lot. Of course nothing was stolen, but the guys had a grand ole time filling her car with their empty Budweiser cans while she was away. Yeah…we all know who did it….but it’s like Vegas round these parts….Brad. Actually, I think they were considering renting out the jeep as a motel for a couple days there…but that’s another story entirely.  AND EVERYONE…I mean EVERYONE knows your name. It’s like “CHEERS”….but country style….times two.

Whiskeyville is the larger of the two pubs. It has two bars, a catering hall and they serve  food. Both Whiskeyville and Train Wreck,  have outdoor patios/decks. And Whiskeyville holds a Sunday liquor license. Since the bar has recently come under new ownership, it’s getting a remodel. So they’ve added games, slots etc…while keeping the old town feel.

TrainWreck is the smaller of the two, but it has a cozy atmosphere. They also serve food and just like Whiskeyville, run  decent beer prices. Both bars have a jukebox and have live musicians etc…

Of course, both pubs have the some of the best people I’ve ever met…ready to greet you with a smile. And one thing they both have in common, besides the amazingly strong group of people that frequent them….is the revenue they have the capacity, to draw to the town. And if there is one thing the townsfolk love above all else….it’s their kids. That’s everywhere…in the heart of us all.

South Amherst Middle School sits about a half mile down the road from the pubs. And while the merger with Firelands was able to keep South Amherst school district afloat, the school buildings themselves are in serious need of repair. The South Amherst building literally has holes in the floor.

“You drive by at 35 or 40 mph, it looks fine,” he said during a tour of South Amherst Middle School, 152 W. Main St. “Come inside and I can show you a couple of things.”

Von Gunten praised school custodians for their upkeep of the 81,210-square-foot middle school built in 1910, but said it’s falling apart. The school was grandfathered in to meet fire codes, but lacks a sprinkler system and smoke detectors.

Some windows don’t open or easily stick and the building lacks air conditioning, leaving students broiling on hot days. The second floor is creaky and the hallway is too narrow for the 420 students at the school.

The cafeteria kitchen is clean, but it stank Thursday from raw sewage leaking out of rusty old pipes. Von Gunten said water in the pipes over the weekend comes out discolored from the rust. He said tests show it’s safe to drink, “but I would argue otherwise.”

Von Gunten said the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission in 2006 determined renovation wasn’t cost-effective. It said renovation would cost about $13.2 million, and replacement would cost $18.7 million.

The commission made the same determination about Firelands High School, 10643 Vermilon Road, Henrietta Township. It said the 91,400-square-foot school, built in 1954, would cost nearly $16.4 million to renovate. The school, which houses about 600 students, would cost $22.3 million to replace.

“We’re talking about buildings that are pretty much at the end of their useful life,” School Treasurer Brad McCracken told about a dozen residents who took part in the tour. “We’re struggling with the middle school and the high school.”

Von Gunten said the high school would probably be demolished. He said asbestos in the middle school would be abated and school officials would discuss with South Amherst officials whether to occupy it or raze it.

http://www.chroniclet.com/education/2015/10/30/Old-Firelands-school-buildings-falling-apart.html

 

In this village, lies the answer.

A while back, Amherst had the same problem. For those who don’t know…Amherst borders South Amherst, but they are not part of the same district.

Amherst wouldn’t approve of a merger with South Amherst way back when, so Firelands agreed to do it. (That’s that beating heart I was telling you about earlier….) And when Amherst couldn’t pull the revenue from the voters for things in need of repair,  they found it another way. They may not realize it, but they did. The Park Ave strip brings in thousands of dollars of revenue daily. And the revenue from the strip, was instrumental in restoring the city to it’s former glory. So while on multiple occasions, levy’s were voted down…the people paid regardless, just by going out and having a good time.  They paid into their own town businesses,  thereby returning money to the town.

The same idea holds true for the pubs in South Amherst. While the competition and feuds come and go….the people are a constant. They’re a given and the life’s blood of both pubs. Just like Amherst was able to do, South Amherst has the building blocks to do the same. The owners of both pubs, could in all reality, join together and create something incredible. And just like Amherst was able to do with their yearly ‘Dancing In the Street’ event, South Amherst could potentially bring in a massive revenue, by simply working together and paying back into their own town. They have the main ingredient at their disposal….the hearts and minds of some of the best people you’d ever meet….(yes…even the crazy ones….Clow…cough, cough…Seth…excuse me…had to clear my throat…lovable bastards)…in spades! 

And I use the pubs as the catalyst for the revenue, because quite simply….it’s where people gather. And I’d tack the gas station smack in the middle of town in there….if they ever actually had gas! (Could someone tell them to actually put gas…in the ground….so that fuel….can actually be pumped into the vehicles past say…3pm? ….yeah…that’d be great.) And there’s the town pizza parlor, the Karate Studio, Piggy’s and a few other places scattered throughout downtown. Of course further out, you hit all the produce stands. Homegrown and priced just right.

Over the past few months, I’ve met some extraordinary human beings. What started out as  just another simple chapter in a book….became so much more. I’ve seen true unbreakable bonds…..Sisters at heart….Faye and Sharon.  Shattered stereotypesWayne Strength through great sorrowT-Bone. A gentle soul beneath a father’s voice...Frank.  Dedication through charitable work (Don’t let him catch you throwing out those beer tabs. Those are funding Ronald McDonald House.) ….Gallagher. CommitmentLarry. Courage in the face of the unknown….Ray.  That ornery smile at just the right time...Mark……and so many more.

If just a handful, can radiate that much compassion…what can the voices of many accomplish?

It’s time pull up our big boy panties, pull together and get’er done. And….if someone could stop throwing rolls of paper towels in the toilets …yeah…that’d be great. And where are the rest of the lawn chairs from Whiskeyville?!?! Do I even want to know?

 

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Just because it’s hilarious…

This was at Tower City in Cleveland, Ohio. Included are photos of the Cleveland Public Square Ice-Skating Rink. But the true comedy was the Choo Choo Train.

As a giant toddler at heart, I  wanted to ride the Christmas train with my kids.  My daughter is  a teenager, so I naturally had to force her. And…it went well…yeah ok. She’ll probably run away screaming the next time I ask.

Just keep replaying it…for some reason it gets funnier :D:D (For the record, that isn’t my kid in the back…I have no idea whose kid it is…but the whole thing was hilarious. Just a little guy, enjoying the trip!)

…the ENTIRE trip…. Click here for the Instagram Video. It will open in a new window. WordPress may not allow the EMBED feature without premium, but I still want you guys to see it.

If you don’t see the video below, just click the link above. And keep scrolling for the pics of Tower City and the Public Square Ice-Skating Rink.

#lmao @http.courtneyyy #video @towercitycenter #christmas #train 😁😁😁😁😁 The WHOLE RIDE!

A video posted by D.s. (@homefreekids) on Nov 27, 2016 at 12:24pm

Here’s a few more pics from that amazing day….

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She loved the view. At Christmas, Tower City is absolutely stunnin.

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Naturally, the little musician found her spot.

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He was in awe of the height.

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Of course….

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Large Jawbreaker…

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Tiny Jawbreakers

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My daughter & I

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He was dancing…

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Getting their skates on.

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Hallelujah! #coffee !!!!!

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A fabulous end to the perfect day!

 

To keep up with our travels:  #homefreekids @homefreekids

 

Top 20 Valentine’s Day DIY Projects

Top 20 Valentine’s Day DIY Projects

 

The Pinterest bug hit this morning with a vengeance! As a result, we’ve created a few things and surfed the net to keep our minds in the Valentine’s DIY spirit. Here are a few things we found. By ‘we’, I mean my daughter and I. Of course… one can only surmise at this point, that I yanked her into my crazy crafting hot glue obsession. At least…she liked the throw blanket that we picked up for a  whopping $5…. Go us!

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So we of course…hot glued a bunch of stuff. The best part about hot glue, is the fact that you can PEEL IT OFF! You can re-use all your dollar store goodies for other DIY projects.

And we went nuts on the fireplace…..

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So join us in all of our gluey, crafting, Pinterest obsessed glory! Here’s our Top 20 Valentine DIY ideas….

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 debspin

The Art Studio …Thanks Grandpa

We have been having a lot of fun in this little room in the basement….


And since we technically don’t have to cleanup …. I’ve decided this messy little corner of the world, is my new favorite space. When we originally left this room in the basement unfinished, the plan was to use it for storage. However, I then later realized…. I hate messes and therefore don’t keep anything!?!

Last week , I was able to take some photos in a beautiful spot  downtown. And one kind of stood out. Maybe it was the conversation with my grandfather a few weeks before he died. He died this past December 2015. One of his favorite things to speak of, was his youth. My town is rather small, and my family was part of the group of original families to take part in making the town what it is. So when my grandfather would tell me his stories, I hung on to every word.

One of his last stories, involved the town hall. Which, as luck would have it, can be viewed from this upstairs room.


And the decor up there… Well… It’s right up his alley….


Called “the Sinatra Room”, it intrigued me from the start. But what really hit close to home, was the realization of where I was standing.

According to grandpa, this place used to be an old warehouse. They used it as storage. Sometimes it was a go between space for the extra stuff from the Town Hall. And my grandfather liked to tell me about how ringing the bell in that old building, was equivelent to taking your life in your hands and chucking it out a window, in hopes that you could fly. And the kids who made it up the staircase, were mighty brave indeed.

But here’s the irony… The day we said goodbye forever ? We came here, to this old warehouse. It’s a restaurant now. Well, technically 1/2 is. While they’re joined, one part is a casual pub and the other is on the higher end with a large wine selection. It’s a wrap around, joined by the kitchen in the center, both sides owned by one person. And the upstairs  from the photo also has a banquet hall. The bonus is, one of the original doors from the warehouse is still in use.

So somewhere between taking the photos and finishing the editing… I found this one to be my favorite….


And then, I sort of thought… How can I stick that spot… That spot that my grandfather probably stood while moving things about ( he was also a police officer , a mason, tool and die maker and on the town council)… How could I stick that spot in my living room?

We’d just built and art studio in that stole little space, in our basement.. That tiny little waste of space…that is now….my heaven….

  
And pulling elements from the photo onto a canvas was probably the most fun I’ve had swimming about in my own brain, than I’ve had in over a decade.



So I guess for now… I’ll sit right here and glance towards that old town hall. Maybe I’ll even hear that old bell.

I really hope  you’re watching back…

Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent: Review

As always, my reviews are unpaid.


Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent


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If I had to give it a star rating….****. And I only say four, rather then five, just due to time it took to  set-up.  It’s better to have two people….one makes it a little hard. Especially when it’s it’s time for the rain fly….you’re pretty much at the mercy of where the wind takes it while you are throwing it over the rather large tent. Two adults, easily…..but I was only with my children…they’re shorter 😉

Cost: Depending on where you buy – 175$-200$

Weather proof: YES.  At least ours is. Being storm season around here and a week long down pour, the tent didn’t leak one tiny drop when we went camping last week! I did, however, spray it with a waterproofer prior to leaving.

All the poles are pre-essembled, so they simply spring together. And there are PLENTY of windows! You can even keep the fly off during a dry spell, and the whole tent would be extremely well vented.

Power Port: YES.

Again, this is a very LARGE tent! If you are intending to set up a canopy as well….better get a large site.

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Sleeps 10. We used the room dividers. The dog was in the center, my daughter and I shared one room (we fit both a queen size and single air mattress in there) and my sons (each on single size mattresses) had their own ‘room’ as well. We all had room to spare.

Storage: There are several pockets, located throughout the tent. They’re off the ground to prevent water damage to any items inside.

Would I get another Ozark? Sure.

How Do You Catch A Cloud And Pin It Down?

“She climbs a tree and scrapes her knee
Her dress has got a tear
She waltzes on her way to Mass
And whistles on the stair
And underneath her wimple
She has curlers in her hair
I even heard her singing in the abbey”

~ The Sound Of Music, with  Rodgers And Hammerstein, How Do Solve A Problem Like Maria

My youngest daughter….the curious sprite. In so many ways, she boggles me and yet delights me, all at the same time. From her requests for an endless supply of journals and assorted writing materials, to ‘Mom…what does it feel like to be a sunflower?’

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(I imagine it feels better then having dried paint stuck to your face, while on the quest to find out….)

Always watching, always trying to work out the grand design…she’s quite the riddle. From music, to books, to art….

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I can’t recall a time that she EVER had any interest in dolls! It wasn’t that I didn’t buy them….I did. She just found them boring. Especially Barbies….even at 10, she said they were an  ‘unrealistic depictions of girls’. So naturally, we just stuck with the journals. I can’t even tell you how many there are. And the words….so teeny tiny. She says it’s so she can fit more on the page.

This child who spends endless hours trying to solve algebra problems…ummm…for fun! It used to leave me feeling perplexed, however, now I find that algebra is a rather nifty skill. Her constantly calculating mind,  came in handy when we were measuring for the garden.

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“But Mom…it’s a ‘natural’ red…”   yeah…that’s the look. The one that comes about if I question her ‘freedom of expression’. And honestly, I do encourage self-reflection and experimentation on the way to discovering one’s inner self.

Her ability to see my own vision and mesh it with hers, for the sake of art…astounds me….

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She who adds so many  goofy quirky mismatched moments of sheer gentle madness…

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Everyday there’s a new strange glorious path. Filled with music, poetry, math, art and ‘through the looking glass’ moments.

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There’s always a song, radiating from beneath her bedroom door.

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Or a masterpiece on the horizon.


And a question about her current reading materials typically leads to a debate on the Constitution….

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And an outward expression of her thoughts on the matter.


For the record, I don’t censor books, unless they’re ‘too adult’. However, when I tried to voice my opinion on War and Peace, I was met with “Your argument is invalid”. Mmmmkay.

As I walk the path of her childhood, steady at her side, I know without a doubt, she’s been an absolute influence on my life. And while it’s my job as her mother, to help mold her into some politically correct, fit for society model of human social adaptation….It’s a curious thing….she’s the one molding me. That whole “what would mom do???” voice, that I pray is somewhere in her brain….is paired with “what would my daughter do?”, deep inside my own.

I realize….yes…I am completely aware, that this is of my own doing. Let’s face it…I was always waist deep in my own head, maybe I still am. So it stands to reason, that this child of mine, would inherit a bounty of reasons not to flow with the status quo.


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For instance, keeping the ER docs in stitches, yes…I do see the pun there.

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She never does anything halfway. It’s complete or not at all. When she decided to take up archery, little did I know….she’d go and go and go and go…until she hit that mark. Summers around here, are marked by trips to the sporting goods store to get more arrows. And I’ve never been big on cramming a child’s day chalk full of so many activities, they have no time to explore their own minds. In a way, that’s a dangerous game. They need to figure that out while we’re there to watch safely from the sidelines. Too much, too young, creates conflict when they finally get to venture out into the world all on their own. She chooses her hobbies, nothing is forced.

I don’t think she’s met a hobby she didn’t like. Especially on the water….

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If I had to pick my favorite part…the best of who she is…I could not. There are so many. I love her humor, her curiosity, her argumentative way of getting that darned point across, those eye rolls I get if I try to add mushrooms or tomatoes  to her food…the constant desire..no…NEED…to try something new. The casual tossing aside of  the laptop or phone, for an interesting read. The outer beauty that she doesn’t know  she has….

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Combined with an inner beauty that would  overshadow a  Paul Ce’zanne, GEORGIA O’KEEFFE or Vincent Van Gogh . She knows when to hold back and when to push forward. Her heart isn’t plastered on her sleeve, but it’s not hidden in the shadows either. With just the right amount of emotion and logic, the ease with which one can listen to and comprehend  her constantly changing complexities…it’s absolutely flawless.

For this child, my hope is a life of adventure, love , questions, knowing when to go against the grain, when to lead and when to follow. With a child like this one, it’s not the  parents job to lead, it’s only ours to follow.  Knowing how to quiet her mind and when to let it explode with everything she has. Fire and snowflakes, her mind collides and yet does not collapse. It has a meter, a tempo….an unwritten song waiting to be played out. And oh how I hope I’m there to hear the finished ballad….

Between Legos and LOLs

HOMEFREEKIDS.COM

“What’s a conundrum?” …..”ummmm, ask your sister“.

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So my youngest turned 10 this past December. He’s in that ‘inbetween’ world. The one where fantasy begins to slowly slip away into reality. Mind you, there’s still plenty of fantasy….but not quite as much. I’d say around a 10% decrease in the past year. Functioning at a good 90% and still roaming the maze in ‘the Labyrinth’, along with Sting (yes…I’m that old), my son still clings to his childhood. And somewhere between legos and trading lols with his bff, there’s a tiny glimpse into his future…lurking…..

For quite some time, I’ve been quite aware of his ‘all boy’ psyche. Caution to the wind, shoes unlaced, to heck with the proper safety gear, ‘Mom, you’re paranoid!’, ‘this is gonna be AWESOME!’, ‘Mom…has anyone ever died skydiving with an umbrella?’, barreling full speed ahead, who really needs bones anyway? and…

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De-Cluttering Your Life

Anyone who has been in the midst of a mess, can tell you, concentration and the overall ability to multi-task goes out the window. And as the little messes pile up, the mound of junk forming Mount Everest over there in the corner, can truly harp on one’s self-esteem. Having had multiple children, lots of messes and moments of temporary insanity, I had to come up with a hobby that would both boost my ‘mommy-esteem’ and make my life generally less ‘EEK’….

 

This is where that song ‘Clean Up, Clean Up Everybody Everywhere…’, came in handy. And I don’t mean for the kids. I had to face it, the kids could  pretty much throw toys in box, but my idea of clean and they’re idea of clean…well, those were  two different things. I’d come to realize, I rather enjoyed the ‘appearance’ that ‘clean’ created, but I’d hated to whole ‘cleaning process’.

And that’s when it came to me. I stopped seeing my home as chore and began to see it as art. What can I do with this canvas? How can I create a masterpiece? And rather than collecting mass volumes of useless junk, I realized…I prefer ‘minimal’ decor. Less is More. In this way, whenever I’m bored, I just change out a few things and I’ve got a whole new canvas. My new obsession was now ‘Changing With The Seasons’ and ‘Color Schemes’….maybe one month: tea pots and the next month: abstract art. But I knew, in order to make it work, I’d needed to quickly de-clutter. And minus the basic household needs…and I MEAN BASIC….everything had to go. For over a month, the garbage men hated our guts. Piles of this and that…gone. Not playing with toys? See ya….Haven’t worn those clothes in a year? Buh Bye now….Too many useless little figurines, with no rhyme or reason? Out you go! I went completely ‘blank palette’.

Over the years, since this obsession:  with not living in a mess:  began, we’ve had many different styles and themes. We’ve had greens, reds, browns and blues. A fresh paint of coat changes the interior of a home  real quick. Then just change out a few items and viola…whole new house. This year, we’re going with blues, yellows, lime greens and pinks. We’ve kept the furniture a very neutral color and this allows for simple room make-overs, in just a few minutes.

One thing that I’ve seen folks get hung up on….is the small stuff. Filling boxes, organizing boxes, moving boxes…here’s a tip…if it’s going in a box….you probably don’t need it. Find a garbage bin! Grandpa’s old pants from God knows when….ummm…seriously, say goodbye. You’re only holding on to them for you, not future generations. Trust me….nobody wants to inherit a mess. Your kids will have their own styles, they don’t need boxes of old stuff waiting for them when they buy their new homes. Furniture…sure…maybe. If you have kids headed off to college one day or maybe to their first apartment, that old kitchen table may be of use. Otherwise…minimize. Keep TWO shelves of decorative change-out items, in the basement or garage. These are items that matter. Glassware etc…or maybe an old antique watch. No…you really don’t need to keep every single thing that used to belong to grandma. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow….but what exactly do you think will be happening to her stuff, combined with all your stuff….who are you saving it all for? Keep those things that have  special meaning only.…just because an old shirt was found in her closet, doesn’t mean it was her favorite…especially when surrounded by BOXES upon BOXES of her old shirts. She couldn’t possibly have had a special relationship with each and every one. Or every single kitchen utensil…really? Here’s the thing kids…when I’m gone, you have my permission to throw out all the stuff that has zero meaning to you….yes, you may throw out my toothbrush and my bathrobe…I have no problem with that. Just keep my heart….it’ll be there…I promise.


 

Kitchen Tips:


 

Keep the top of the fridge BARE of FOOD! Piles of half eaten bags of chips on top of the fridge… it’s not a very welcoming site. Try standing in the entrance to your kitchen…what unique items are your eyes drawn to? If the answer is ‘a whole lotta God knows what’….maybe it’s time to put some stuff away.

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Then you can show off a couple eye-catchers. Thrift Stores are great for this kind of stuff. Or  pull from those two shelves of ‘change-outs’.

 

Use the cupboards! That’s what they’re there for. If you can’t fit anymore in….that means you’ve got too much.  Or of the kitchen is small, shelving units come in handy. Unless you’re feeding an entire dorm of teenagers, you don’t need 10 frying pans laying about.

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Just keep a few items that match your color palette. One or two shelves of  ‘change out items’ in the basement or garage, is all you really need.

 

Fruit! Ahhh…bliss….If you don’t have flowers, fresh fruit and veggies make fabulous centerpieces.

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Family Room:


 

Instead of throwing those remotes, batteries,  etc… all over the place, keep only the ones you actually need. If you’ve got remotes for items you no longer own, cuz…hey… “might need’em someday”…pitch’em! Only keep what you NEED!

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Find a way to hide cords. This can be as simple as behind the furniture, to using tape, hiding them  under the carpet or using an entertainment system with doors. Also, it’s a safety issue. Have a toddler? A very chewy cat or dog? Yeah…might want to make them  ‘out of sight, out of mind’. 

 

Stand in the entrance of your home…does it look inviting? Can you spot a mess? Is it cluttered? This is the first view guests have when entering your home. Take a picture…what would you like to change?

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Coats tossed about? Hang them up. Shoes don’t belong in a pile by the door. It’s rather nerve wracking to spend the first couple minutes in someones house, just trying not to trip on a mound of shoes.

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Bedrooms:


 

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Make the beds…honestly..everyday. Keep some large toy bins in the bottom of the closet. If they haven’t played with that toy in a year and you aren’t saving for another baby, get rid of it. If it’s broke and you ARE saving for another baby…get rid of it.


 

 

 

Laundry:


 

Ahhhhh…the most boring job ever. Unless……you make it fun. Make it about the decor. Yes…laundry can be about decor. I’m actually currently in the process of redesigning my utility room.

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My plan (and I’ve already ordered a couple of things…)

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I’m going with bins that have straps…they’re easier to transport when I’m doing laundry. Since the color changes in our home, I’ve had a strong desire to play with this room. It’s often overlooked. But for us, we have to walk through it, to get in the house. So it needs to be cohesive with the kitchen.

I do a load a day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! Sometimes two. There are five of us, so it can pile up quickly.


 

Side Note: Another really nice thing about using thriftstores or garage sales….there’s no sentimental value there. So if it breaks or get’s boring, so what? It’s cheaper and the variety never ends. Most thriftstores update their stock daily. Get there early. Flea Markets and Garage Sales fall into this category as well. However, watch it with flea markets. Know your stuff. It’s easy to get ripped off. That antique, may not be an antique. So don’t overpay. Do your research.


 

Things to do :


 

Pick up the clothes, put them in the laundry baskets.

Pick up the overall clutter.

The dishes…don’t let those sit all night. They just pile up and get harder to clean.

Toilets! YES! DAILY! Especially if you have boys! Wipe off that pee!

Remove hair and anything else that may be growing in the tub.

Wipe up spills…doesn’t take long for mold to form in a bathroom.

Make the beds.

 

Clean out the pet dishes. Don’t make them drink out of dirty dishes. USE soap and CLEAN them.

Vacuum

Dust

Mop…this can go every 2-5 depending on how many kids and pets you have.

Dust the vent fans in the bathroom. I like to remove them and use a vacuum extension on the fan blades.

Baseboards…lots of icky stuff lands there.

Furnace filters….that’s an important one.

Foam, vacuum or wipe off your couch, depending on fabric or leather fabric preference.

Pull out everything and wipe down cupboard shelves. Discard what you don’t use.

Wipe off light switches and glass covers.

Wipe off doors…Ever looked at the back of your bathroom door?

Scrub tubs and showers.

Windows…ahhhh windows. We do this every spring….so not fun, but I’m always relieved when it’s done.

Mop or Steam the bathroom and kitchen floors.

Pull out the tv…see all the dust in those vents? The brush extension on the vacuum is great for that.

Pull out the fridge, stove , washer and dryer….vacuum and scrub..it can get pretty nasty under there….


 

Honestly, I could go on for ages…..the important thing is, start with what you see. Go large to small. Not the other way around. I’ve seen that fail…a person can spend hours working on a box. Clear the big stuff first. Then when you can focus, because you can now see the floor, you’ll have a better mindset to tackle one thing at a time. Maybe a closet. But don’t over think it. Remember the new hobby is ‘playing clean-up’ and building a ‘masterpiece’. Are you a Monet? A Picasso?  Or maybe a poet….Once your pages are blank…you decide the prose….so who are you going to be today?

 

So You’re About To Have Two In Diapers…

With my oldest daughter about to have her second and the first still in diapers:  I was up a better part of the night, trying to recall a couple of the most interesting (if not colorful) years of my life. Having had four beautiful children, I’d have to say, the two in the middle were clearly the most challenging. Being a year apart, things were stuck on full speed ahead…damn the stop signs.  And any expectations I had prior to my third being born, flew out the window, dragging my sanity along for the ride.  While I had read and re-read every single parenting book on the market, nothing prepared me for the real thing. I had been given plenty of advice, both wanted and ‘will you please shut up!!!’  And in the end, flying by the seat of my pants, I finally found my own flow.

My ‘OMG! I’m losing my marbles!‘ moments, were lessened, when I discovered the Holy Grail of ‘Two In Diapers’. It was really a rather simple solution to all my woes. A Safe Room! Just one room that I had gated off, that was the epitome of peace and quiet. A room that became, for all intensive purposes, my hole of blissful slumber, story time central, please aim for the center dear, no…don’t shove those cheerios in your diaper, OMG! What the heck is that?!?!?! and could you have that tantrum one foot to the right…I can’t see Oprah?!…… This room was my saving grace.

Basically, the concept was rather simple, it just took a couple of hours to get it just right. And it can be done in any room you choose, except the bathroom or the kitchen…those two rooms are never 100% safe when you’re sleeping. All that’s required is a baby gate and a childproofing kit.

For me, it was the family room. After I’d gotten to the point, where even the toothpicks that held my eyelids open, began to break…..I knew I needed to come up with something, that allowed me a moments peace. So I went through the family room and removed pretty much anything breakable, I made sure every single cord was tied back and unreachable to tiny tots, every outlet was plugged up, nothing heavy could be pulled on or tipped over, nothing tiny or choke worthy was to be found, free standing lamps were anchored behind the larger furniture….this room became void of EVERYTHING but the basics. I had a couch, my TV (this was a free standing large screen attached to a very large bottom wide base…nothing to pull on), one large lamp behind the sofa, one large wooden coffee table and lots of toys…lots and lots of toys. Everything from blocks, to push’ems, to a tiny play garden….books etc… And on the coffee table, Sippy cups (yes…both juice and mooky 😉 I kept a small stash of diapers and wipes at the ready, a couple of blankets and an endless supply of gerber graduates. There was also a lovely life saving portable pack-n-play, quite useful in a pinch and baby swing.

And don’t forget a phone….I recommend having poison control on speed dial…seriously. And mom…I can’t even begin to guess how many hours I spent on the phone with my mother. Sometimes to cry over how much hair I’ve ripped out in one day….didn’t even know I had that much! Sometimes, to laugh….ok…I know it wasn’t funny at the time, but taking your tot to the doc to have a ‘Dora The Explorer’ stick-on earring, extracted from the nose…well, that there is funny!

Once my safe room was complete, I was finally able to catch a few Zzzzz’s. I could lay on the couch and catch a catnap with both tiny tots and myself, holed up safely inside. And apart from having the occasional Cheerio shoved up my nose, while I was sleeping, all went well. Even potty training! This room made it possible! I literally plopped the toilet in the center of the room and let the little guy feel the air on his bottom for hours. He was so pleased with himself when he accomplished his task 😉

Now obviously, it’s not safe to leave a newborn with a tot, alone in a room. Toddlers are naturally curious and babies are about as interesting as it gets. So when I needed to use the bathroom etc… I could easily place the baby in her crib, while leaving my little Superman in the Safe Room. This room also helped keep the dog out. We had a very large Doberman, named Max. He was quite a handsome lad, but HYPER as all HECK! One good jump and his claws would have probably blinded an infant or toddler. He was huge. We loved him like crazy, but that dog just could NOT sit still. Needless to say, he didn’t hang with the babies alone. So our safe room, allowed Max to roam in the rest of the house, but kept the babies off limits, until they were old enough to play. It also taught Max boundaries. He was a lovable pooch, but in the end, he was a pooch. He wanted to jump, romp, chew, pee, poop and cuddle…without being aware of his own strength. This kept both the dog and kids, from annoying each other…and it kept me SANE!

Apart from the usual tot injuries, like tripping or bumping their little heads, a safe room is just that…a SAFE room. All you need is one. It’s hard to keep up with every single room in the house, when you’re on full time mommy and wife duty. And you don’t have to. So don’t think large scale, endless hours of overwhelming work,…on top of two babies. Minimize. For the immediate need, just think one room. And the beauty part is, once you have the one room all gated off, you have a place to put the most active one, while the baby sleeps in their bed and the freedom to tackle the rest of the house at your own pace.

Don’t fret the small stuff…showering is over-rated. Sleep comes first. Without it, the world just stops. So think Zzzzzz’s.

Is it worth it? A thousand times over…YES! These years are honestly, too short. They go by at lightening speed. Enjoy every single moment of it. Every tiny hug, tear, squeal, funny face, silly phrase, chubby cheek, ‘kiss-my-booboo-mommy’…every single second….Every One….Completely and Unequivocally….Worth It!  

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*My daughter and My First Grandson

 And to you, my dear daughter: YOU GOT THIS!!! You are strong, You are brave, You are intelligent, You are beautiful, You are talented and You are AMAZING! I Love You Peanut! Make sure you keep Grammy and Me on Speed Dial! Call Me Later…I’ll give you the Local Number…for Poison Control! LMAO