Friday, March 26, 2010

Dare to Repair

When I was in elementary school I was enrolled in the T.A.G. program. It stood for Talented and Gifted. 

Now, before you start thinking very highly of me, this Dippy Do had to call the refrigerator repairman earlier this week to ask him how to turn the fridge on. (Fortunately, I discovered the "on" switch before he called me back.) So I'm not that Talented and Gifted. 

I'll never forget one of my TAG sessions. We were taken to this garage-type room of the school and asked to dismantle an entire push lawnmower. We quickly got to work taking all the parts off of it. When we were done the instructor said, "Okay, now put it back together."

Apparently it was their belief that smart people learn about things by taking them apart and putting them back together. 

I was not impressed. 

I was 10. Besides, my Dad used a riding lawnmower at home. I had no use for learning how a push lawnmower worked.

Though I was miffed at being asked to put an unimportant machine back together, that idea stuck with me for the rest of my life. All those times I saw my Dad fixing something or building something at our house suddenly made sense. So THAT'S how my Dad figured stuff out! I remember he always had a book in one hand, and a tool in another, whether he was fixing a car or the dishwasher or rewiring the house. 

My Dad is a self-taught man. He can fix cars like you wouldn't believe, yet he never took a single auto mechanics class. He learned how to wire the house he built by reading a book. He learned plumbing the same way. He hooked up furnaces, our wood burning stoves, everything, by reading and figuring it out for himself.  Right now he's teaching himself how to do body work and paint jobs on cars.

So today when the part arrived for my refrigerator it occurred to me that I could probably figure it out myself, instead of paying the repairman $100 for labor. He was set to come tomorrow. So I got out my tools while Olivia played in her room, pretending to give her dolly PiPi drinks of tea from her random toys. She does not have a teaset, but I'm totally getting her this one for her unBirthday (half birthday--why not?):

Nice plastic teasets are hard to find. Often they have garish cartoon characters on them or something. Not necessary.  As a bonus, this one is made in the USA from recycled milk jugs. Well done, Pottery Barn Kids!

Anyway, back to the fridge. I looked online to find out how to get to the part to replace it. Apparently there is a panel at the back of the freezer that I had never noticed before. So I opened it up and found the part that I had to replace, and replaced it. I had never seen the inside of a fridge before, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was pretty straight forward. And as long as you remember where everything goes, you can put it back together (without having any extra screws!!).

Then plugged in the fridge, sat back, and was thankful for my TAG pushmower experience and for my Dad's example.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Orange Juice and Grass

I am a clutsy person.

I know. Those of you who know me are saying to yourselves, "Whaaa? April, a clutz? I had no idea!"

It's not possible, I know. My whole life I've found the old adage, "Tuesday's child is full of grace," to be quite ironic.

In the last two days I've had two incidents. I find it truly amazing that I have not subjected Olivia to any major harm since she's been born. I'm sure that God assigned an extra portion of angels to watch over that little girl: not because of herself, but because of her close proximity to me.

The first accident was a result of our fridge breaking down. We ended up losing four gallons of milk (they kept curdling) and numerous other freezer and fridge items. We called the fixit man on Friday, who couldn't come until Monday. He then had to order a part and can't fix the fridge until this Friday. He told us that we could get our fridge going until he came back if we turned it off and let it defrost.

In the midst of this fiasco I ended up driving our frozen meat to our in-laws' freezer; putting any unspoiled cold things in our cooler, filling it with ice, and leaving it in our open garage for two days; dealing with a fridge that leaked all this water all over the floor when it defrosted; and more.

It seemed like I was never going to get an opportunity to clean the fridge, which I was excited to do since it was completely empty. I finally got to work on it during Olivia's non-nap. (She non-naps now, did you know? Some days she just sits in her pen crib and talks and sings and pulls on the bars for 2 hours. If hearing that for 2 hours does not fray one's last nerve, I do not know what does.)

I was rushing, trying to complete the job before I had to get Olivia. Since hearing her fooling around like that drives me crazy, I listened to my iPod while I washed. And apparently listening to music impedes one's sense of hearing, as I did not hear, therefore did not realize, that one of the shelves sitting on the counter had started to fall, crashing the orange juice container (which wasn't in the fridge! argh!) to the floor. OJ everywhere. All over the cupboards, all over the rug, floor, me, everywhere. So I had to stop cleaning the fridge to manage that mess.

It turns out that the OJ ran under the stove, and upon pulling out the stove's drawer, I discovered the oven's grody underbelly. It was about a 1/2" pile of red fibers from our old red rugs, interwoven with white Lucy hairs. So really it was more like a 1/2" gray carpet.


Now I had to spend my fridge-cleaning time on operation "oven underbelly." The fridge eventually got cleaned. So did my jeans and the kitchen floor and the cupboards...

Yesterday I actually caused bodily harm to myself while I was working in the yard. Olivia loves playing in the yard. She  mostly wanders around, leans over to pretend to smell the dead flowers from last year (she leans over, sniffs, and goes, "mmmmm!!!"), pats the tree, etc. Since she is so happy in the yard, I decided to do some pruning of said dead flowers, etc.

I couldn't find our actual yard clippers, so I was using this really crappy pair of "grass" cutters to cut our ornamental grass down. Apparently the grass cutters are for trimming simple lawn grass blades. I was desperately trying to snip the thick grass stalks in one hand, and pull away the clipped grass with the other. I guess I grabbed a clump that was not successfully cut, so when I forcefully yanked at it, the grass stayed put, and my finger somehow, in sliding along the blades, suffered a huge gash.

And that my friends, is how you cut your hand open using only grass.

It was one of those cuts that is so deep that it doesn't bleed right away. Then it started oozing out of my  hand. I couldn't just run in to take care of it because I didn't want to leave O in the yard alone. So I had to snatch her up in one hand while cupping a hand of blood in the other. Then I saw her beautiful blue and white polka dot hat laying on the ground (that girl loves wearing her hats!). I couldn't leave that out there!

To make a longer story shorter, I somehow managed to get the dog in the house (sans gate to keep her in the yard), the child, and the hat. I had to to this all without letting on that there was a problem, or else O might become upset and hinder my bandaging efforts. At one point I was trying to turn on the TV to pacify her and blood was running through my fingers onto the back of my hand. It was about to splash onto the floor, which would have caught her interest and caused even more problems as she tried to play with it.

I eventually got the mischief managed, thanks to Neosporin and a big Spiderman bandaid.

And now I'm leary about what today will bring. Don't things always happen in threes? I'm about to unload the dishwasher and mop the kitchen floor. Wish me luck...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Grandma Hunt is sick

Update on the following: last night I posted this blog and heard via emails that you were praying. And guess what? I got a call from Marian just now that Grandma turned a corner in the night and is doing much better today. One of the things she was suffering yesterday was kidney failure--and they started working in the night. And two other major things have righted themselves, too.

THANK YOU to those of you who prayed. THANK YOU...


Well readers, it's about time that I let you know that Grandma Gladys Hunt (JB's grandma) is sick.

I have put off posting on this because, while I am a very open person who will share anything with the public, this is Grandma's business, and it's not my place to blab.

Not that it's blabbing. I will keep the details simple. But I still feel weird broadcasting about someone else's problems. Though many of you either know Grandma, or know of her, and know what an amazing person she is, and would like to know what's happening with her.

Grandma is sick.

On February 22 she underwent surgery to replace the main aortic valve in her heart. (The put a cow's valve in there-isn't that amazing??) The surgery part went well, but her old lady body is giving her hell right now. It's not recovering like it should. She had anticipated being home within a week of surgery. That was probably being a little hopeful on her part, but still, it's been four weeks and she is not going home any time soon.

For those of you who pray, please pray for her and Grandpa. Grandpa is by her side all day, every day. He goes home at supper and returns every morning. He stands by her side, holding her hand a lot. Those of you who know him know that he's a tough, strong man. So he can do this. But even after I get home from visiting Grandma for just a couple of hours, I'm usually exhausted. It's just a tiring experience.

And Grandma, well, she's been on a rollercoaster ride, getting better one day, then taking two steps back the next. Grandma is a courageous woman, and has always been able to overcome whatever life has thrown at her by simply putting her mind to it. But this is different. She has to put her body to it, and it's not listening.

Today was a very tough day. Her body is backfiring in several places, she's in crazy pain, and to top it off, she can't communicate with us because she had a tracheotomy done (a breathing tube inserted in her throat). So she cannot talk. So a simple request like, "I'd like to lay on my side," takes several minutes to interpret.

When Olivia first visited Nana in the hospital several weeks ago, Nana was sitting in a chair. O walked over to her and patted her lap. She didn't know that Nana couldn't hold her. Now that Nana has been bedridden, Olivia likes to sit quietly next to her on her bed and look at all the tubes and observe Nana. Today O kept requesting to sit by Nana like usual, but it wasn't a good day for that. She couldn't understand why.

Olivia wants Nana to get better so that she can sit in Nana's lap again.

We'd all like to see that.

And your prayers can help.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Because Chuck Norris says so

Originally uploaded by BAD BAB
My friend Beth took this shot on MSU's campus last week.

Chuck's birthday is March 10. According to my friend Heather (aka Michigan Girl),

"Chuck Norris would be turning 70, but time is afraid of him."

(Yes, Michigan Girl, I saw that quote on FB because I had to check something, and it made me laugh and laugh!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Mother-lode

After seeing Olivia's new wardrobe today, JB said, "Aunt Rhonda made it in just under the buzzer!"

Olivia received a package from Great Aunt Rhonda on Saturday, containing what Rhonda hoped would be Olivia's first purse:

1.) It IS her 1st purse!

2.) Isn't it the cat's meow?? I love it! (And not just because the purse reads, "My Mother, My Friend." haha.) It's the perfect size for her, and as she loves containers, she's going to put some major miles on this thing. Thank you, Great Aunt Rhonda!! :)

3.) The reason JB commented on Rhonda's timing was that today Grandma Marian brought back The Mother-lode of clothes for Olivia, after her recent shopping sprees in Florida. She and her friend Lizzy (aka Nanny Liz) are shopping professionals. They hit all the right stores and know all the right ways to find deals, etc. And they never tire of walking the  malls. When I spoke with Marian yesterday she said that she bought so many things for Olivia that she to pack O her own bag for the flight. When I got to her house today, I saw that it was an Adidas duffle bag full.  Not, say, a plastic shopping bag. But an entire duffle bag. (Okay, so there were some pretty shirts in there for me, too, but it was mostly O's!) Included was another beautiful toddler's bag. Marian pointed out that this is a beach bag, though, so Rhonda's is still O's only purse.

Here is a shot of most of the clothes. I am amazed at and grateful for Mark and Marian's generosity. I won't have to buy O anything for Spring/Summer except for rainboots. Isn't that incredible?? The beach bag is in the top left corner, with a matching blue polka dot sunhat and polka dot outfit. There are polka dot sunglasses, too. I wish that half these things came in my size.

There is an outfit, a sunhat, and sunglasses missing in the above shot. But don't worry, you still get to see them, just on the model. O was so enamored with the pink sunhat that she insisted on wearing it at naptime:

Agh! I can't resist! Here's her in the polka dot hat. I wish they made this in MY size!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Remember Daddy

My Mom emailed me this article written by my Dad's cousin, Betty Jerrell, about her father, my great uncle. Betty's mom, Great Aunt Gladys, and my Grandpa Carl Teague (Dad's dad), were siblings.

It's a story of farming in Alabama during WWII. And Betty has a way with words, if you ask me.

My Grandpa Teague didn't get married until he was 25, which was "old maid" age back then--especially in the South (Alabama). And Grandma was an old maid, too, even though she was just 20.Today we gasp when we hear about 20-year-olds getting married, because they're so young, but back then they gasped because they thought they already had one foot in the grave.

Grandpa's sister, Gladys, Betty's mom, beat her brother to the altar by a decade, getting married when she was 15. When I visited her back in 2002, Great Aunt Gladys told me that she never had to learn how to drive because she was didn't need her drivers license when she was 15, and then she got married so her husband carted her around. Her brother, my Grandpa, died in 1979, but Gladys is still kicking around to this day. She lives with her daughter Betty, who is only 16 years younger than she is. Her other two children have passed on before her.

Betty's article recalls when she was 11, so her mother (Gladys) was only 26 at the time, and "Daddy" was 31. 

The same age as I am today.

Two different worlds. They had so much responsibility back then. They had to be so grown up so quickly. Not only the parents, but the children. Eleven-year-old Betty worked the fields all day with her Daddy, and her 7-year-old sister joined them after lunch. Amazing.

(You'll probably have to click on the image below to be able to read it.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Name that Blog!!

Thank you for all of your kind words and support regarding my job search. In addition to making a new freelance contact (thank you, brother!), I got word today that I get a 3-week extension on unemployment! Aaagghh!!! :)

During my job search I have learned something startling about myself: I am not a risk taker.


Not being a risk taker is like being a stick in the mud, isn't it? It always annoyed me to have to deal with someone who was afraid to try something new--whether it be an ethnic dish, an unusual outfit, a new haircut, etc.

And now I've realized I'm one of them!!! Please don't judge me world! I didn't KNOW!!

Okay, so I do take some risks. In fact, I'll take just about any risk that doesn't involve money. (...or dining on animal brains...come on, people--that's disgusting!). I never took an unpaid internship in college. I never took a job that couldn't pay the bills, but that might advance me professionally. In college I never claimed a major (of the 4 or 5 that I chose) that didn't have a relevant job attached to it (no English major for me! "English" isn't a job. But Journalism, well, produces Journalists! And ironically, journalism is now a dying profession, too. Boo.) I have wanted to take photography classes but since a photography profession is extremely risky, since everyone does it, I didn't want to make an investment that wouldn't pay me back. 

But life is SHORT. And I don't want to be a wimp. 

So I am starting out on a venture that could fall flat on its face. Because of that, sometimes I do not want to start it. I want everything that I touch to turn into gold, and it's easier if you only touch sure things. Yet, I am going to make myself do this. 

I am starting a quilting blog. 

I have done a lot of research on making money blogging. I believe that I have all the necessary skills: writing, photography, a passion for my subject, interest in good website layout, etc. One question potential bloggers need to ask themselves is: would I do this, even if I didn't get paid? 

The answer for me is YES!!!!

It takes about 2 years before you start making $$ on a blog, and I am willing to invest that kind of time.

But I need help picking out a name! If you want to be a part of quilting history (as this is going to be the most fabulous, amazing, quilting blog EVER), give me your two cents! I am also open to suggestions. What do you think? 

I personally wanted SassySewNSew, but it's already taken. Many sites are. And there is already a popular site, "Crazy Mom Quilts," so I should avoid "crazylady" names.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Name that Job!

Oh, beloved readers. 

I need a job!

Just over a year ago I was laid off from my job. I was very fortunate to be able to collect unemployment compensation since then. It has paid our mortgage. 

However, the money train is going to run out in a couple of weeks and my prospects are still bleak. Now, my aim is not for you to feel sorry for me. My life is fantastic, except for the "no money" part. Lots of people have it way worse than me. But I do want to be honest about what's going on in my life.

Finding a job in any part of our country right now is difficult, I would imagine. But finding a job in Michigan is near impossible. Especially if you are me, and your skills are extremely common. I can write, proofread, take photographs, and be an administrative assistant, to name a few. None of these skills are very lucrative, and the workforce is flooded with people with the same qualifications. Right now being a hiring manager is like a being fisherman looking into the ocean and trying to pick out the best tuna fish, when they all look THE SAME on the outside. 

My job situation is also complicated, as I need to either work from home, or work 2nd shift, when JB is home and can care for Olivia. I am not against daycare. But I am against paying at least $800 a month for it. (I priced it before I lost my job. This amount is not an exaggeration--in fact, it's on the low end.)  

I have learned that networking is what gets people most of their jobs. It's what got me my last two jobs, and what landed JB his. Networking makes me uncomfortable, but I have been doing it. Dead ends so far. But it feels good to practice it, anyway. However, I have not tried my blog friends. Perhaps YOU know of something that I can do! 

Here are my dream scenarios:

  • I can become a full-time blogger. Lots of people do this. It does take some initial investment though (like buying blog editing software), and I am not one to take risks and spend $$ on something that isn't a guarantee. I have started a quilting blog, though, and it would be awesome if that takes off. It usually takes about 2 years to start making $$ on a blog, though, and I have a long way to go to have a site even remotely as cool as my these two fabulous and useful quilting sites: Red Pepper Quilts, and Oh Frannson! 

  • I can work from home as a freelance proofreader. I have been exploring this option, though, and there are more proofreaders than there is work, it seems. 

  • A wealthy person paying me to raise the most beautiful, special little girl in the entire world. The one person to do that would be JB. Oh, JB, why can't you be a Sugar Daddy???

Here are my realistic options:
  • Working retail after hours and weekends. 
  • Working at Meijer 2nd shift. 
Here is what I will NOT do:
  • Sales.
  • Work in a nursing home.
Finding a job right now is very stressful for me. I know that God will provide, so that's good. But I have lots of questions: 

  • Why should I be subject to jobs that don't utilize all my skills? Why did God give me these skills if I am to be relegated to scanning someone's baked beans at the register at 1 a.m. every weeknight? 
  • Why did I bother to pay thousands of dollars for a f&^%ing degree that isn't paying me back??? 
  • What is my CALLING???
So, if you have a great idea for a job, let me know. Or, you can just pray for me. And while you're at it, please pray for the thousands of other men and women in my great state who have even bleaker prospects than I. Some families even have BOTH parents out of work. 

Oh Lord, save Michigan!