spectating participant

June 29, 2008

titles are lame

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 4:22 pm

I hate coming up with titles for posts sometimes. I think I’m finally getting over being sick for the past two weeks. it’s been a very long two weeks where breathing seemed to take all the possible energy I had. i thought something was wrong with me for a while because everything was just way too exhausting, but now that I’m finally feeling like my sinus thing has passed I have more energy. guess i was too tired to put two and two together - Ive also kicked up the vitamin intake, so maybe feeling better is a combination of not being sick and the vitamins.

of course, this new burst of energy is more mental than physical. walking between the living room and kitchen isn’t as exhausting, but I’m still not up for any real type of exertion. i think this is just par for the course until i’m no longer waddling around with a life-draining-parasite devouring me from the inside. of course, I now realize that I’m saying all this after waking up exhausted around 9am, going back to bed, sleeping until 1pm, and being up less than 2 hours before wanting to go back to bed. But, I have some energy now and thats all that counts I guess.

this is supposed to be a pretty quite week. i’m dropping off my last diaper order tomorrow and life should be good after that. since i’ve only been getting about 1 hour of usefulness a day out of myself lately, I can now put that one hour towards things that have needed done but I haven’t been able to get to. that should seriously reduce a lot of stress and then I can just sit around and wait on baby.

oh wait, we’re having a huge party on friday — scratch that quiet week comment. guess I’ll be running around a lot this week getting things together - but I’ve gotten pretty good at planning my outings so hopefully it’ll only take 2 days of errands to get all the last minute stuff. I’m not making any food for the party and am just picking up some grill-able items and chips - screw the healthy stuff, I’m going for super easy at this point!

I think I’ve decided to not buy another car either. while thats not an ideal situation, I just hate spending money on the unknown and another used car feels like a huge “what if” situation that I don’t want to get into. Plus, I really don’t want to be a 4-car family, where would we put an extra car? And then there is the increase in insurance costs and well, I’m cheap, I’m broke, I don’t want to deal with any of that. So, I think we’ll pretend to be a 1 car family to some extent - Chris will keep driving my car to work but when I need to run carefully planned errands, he’ll drive one of the other vehicles and leave me my car. The other option is that I get used to driving the finicky blazer, but that just doesn’t sound like fun to me. It’ll be here if I have to go somewhere, but otherwise, we’ll just trade off using the fuel efficient car. maybe we need to get another car seat base after all.

June 24, 2008

where did all the time go?

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 7:49 pm

I swear that life has been on hyper drive for the past few months or so. Each week just vanishes, poof, like that. So here are just the random collection of thoughts and whatnot…

  • We’re only 1-4 weeks from having a baby - thats very scary. stuff isn’t ready. i don’t think I’m ready.
  • We still have 10 chickens, I don’t think they’re ever gonna get big enough to slaughter — maybe this is some cruel livestock joke.
  • Our garden is doing well, but we still have stuff that never made it in. I think it’s too late now.
  • Our July 4th party is a week from Friday - eeeegads! I don’t think we’re ready for that either.
  • Trying to buy a decent, cheap car is a pain in the butt.
  • I have two more sewing orders to finish and then I’m taking a month off - so I can sew up the things we need for the baby.
  • I seem to have forgotten how to plan meals and cook - I’ve also developed a huge aversion to going anywhere to eat.
  • I come up with long lists of things I want to post about, and then forget everything.

June 13, 2008

chris the wonder man

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 6:58 pm

I love my partner, he constantly amazes me at how many things he’s capable of doing. He’s managed to pull us through homeowner hell and get us back where we need to be, always with some creative maneuvering and problem solving. When I declined the annual service contract with our heating oil company, I insisted that we had someone to take care of our boiler and maintenance needs (chris!). I’ll admit that I wasn’t 100% convinced that was true, but figured it was worth saving a couple hundred dollars a year to test it out. Twice this year our boiler has stopped working, at least it isn’t 30-degrees out this time, and twice he’s gotten working again.

I will toot my own horn in being able to help out this time. As we were getting our ‘new’ tank inspected, the tech asked if Chris knew how to get the boiler restarted and such. I said sure but also mentioned that our boiler currently wasn’t work and we were still working on solving that (and that it’s failure wasn’t related to the lack of oil). Just the day before, Chris had finally pin-pointed the actual problem, but was somewhat lost as where to go from there since getting replacement parts is tricky — most companies only sell to contractors/heating companies and these parts aren’t just sitting on the shelf at your local plumbing or home improvement stores. The tech asked what the problem was since he might be able to help and I gave some lame description. Since he still had some paperwork to fill out, I called Chris to get the real description of the problem (because mine probably made no sense at all) and as soon as I relayed what Chris said, the tech went to his truck and handed me the missing piece! Viola, next hurdle solved! Chris came home and got the boiler going again in no time.

Like I said, I love this man’s ability to figure things out and fix them. Sometimes it takes a while, like the boiler which involved lots of head scratching as well, but it usually gets fixed in the end!

June 12, 2008

homeowner hell?

Filed under: house, life — suzanne henderson @ 9:37 am

Yesterday, Chris called into work saying that he was in homeowner hell and wouldn’t be in that day. This is after staying home Tuesday morning, and then working form home in the afternoon, for our annual termite inspection (no termites, the annual inspection is just to keep the warranty on the $1,000 treatment that was done before closing on the house). It seems this hasn’t been the best couple of weeks for home stuff.

Earlier this month, I mentioned an invasion of bird mites. That was a pretty horrible experience, but I’m excited to report that we are finally free from mites and can use our upstairs bathroom again. Having the bathroom available is a huge plus, in my book, and not stressing over mites is a huge relief. We’ve not opened the bathroom window up just yet because we want to be very, very sure they’re gone on the outside too because I do not want to go through that process again.

Before, this problem was solved, we ran into yet another problem - our boiler stopped working. You’d think that having no boiler in the summer would be no big deal, but it also supplies our hot water. Chris has spent hours working on it and finally discovered the actual problem yesterday afternoon. But, in this process, we ran out of fuel oil (but this isn’t why the boiler isn’t working). We’ve been working on running out of oil since January because we wanted to switch out tanks. But, we weren’t quite ready to make that switch since the ‘new’ tank still needed painting and because it was 100 degrees outside. We decided to get the tank filled, partially, and wait until fall to make that switch.

We’ve had oil deliveries on hold to switch out tanks, so I call to get a delivery but they insist the tank must be inspected. I argued that it’s the same tank they’ve been filling but they insist and I don’t push it. Well, of course the old tank fails inspection and suddenly we now have to change them out - great. We get this news Wednesday afternoon, so Chris stays home yesterday to make this happen and did. Today I wait for it to be re-inspected and hopefully we’ll have oil again.

In all of this, we’ve even had a service fellar come out to help solve the boiler problem. Over the phone I’m sure he’d said he works with fuel boilers and well pumps (to address yet another, non-serious issue we were having) so I was excited about killing two birds with one stone. Of course, he gets here and then we find out that he doesn’t really do anything more than routine maintenance on boilers and can’t help solve that problem - crap! - but does trouble shoot our well pump problem. So, we send him off with $75 for the visit and still have no working boiler and the same well pump problem (the solution will be several hundred dollars and he even suggests living with the problem would probably be wiser). Chris talks to another plumber that I’d called as well, got a better lead on boiler problem and eventually found the actual issue. Of course, we don’t know how to fix what is broken, but hopefully he’ll call the other plumber back and get some good advice and we’ll have hot water again soon.

In the meantime, Alex is getting the pool bath method while Chris and I went up to the gym to shower last night. Guess there are some perks to gym memberships. tried the cold shower thing and it may be super hot out but the well water is damn cold and I couldn’t force my body to walk under the stream of water. In all of this mess, we’ve had another round of serious storms roll through and again all our neighbors lots huge limbs and some lost entire trees, including the apple tree I kept pretending could possibly be ours (its right on/over the property line). But, our sad maple still stands and this time just lost one dead branch that I’d already foretold to be coming down soon.

I guess the house saw fit to gift us all of these experiences in honor of our one-year anniversary of buying the house (June 7th). Someone remind me why I wanted to buy a 140 year-old house…

June 7, 2008

Growing Chicks

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 3:54 pm

Baby Chicks - 10 Weeks Old

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Our chickens are pretty big now (10 weeks old). They’re getting pretty fast and not so interested in hanging out around us, so I’ve not had a chance to get pictures of them lately. Even in this picture, Chris had to herd them toward me, but they took off pretty quick to a better area.

They seem to like their tractor, in fact, after being out for a few minutes this afternoon, they headed right back into on their own. Guess that’s a good sign. But, they’re also having a hard time in the heat, just like we are, and perhaps they felt it was a little cooler in there.

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]

June 6, 2008

fresh starwberries from our garden

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 3:35 pm

fresh starwberries from our garden

Originally uploaded by xixstar

Oh these are oooooh so very, very yummy. I’m not sure chris is ever going to get a chance to try them because I imagine I’ll keep gobbling them up as soon as they’re ready to pick. These were wonderfully warm from the sun and perfectly sweet! Yummmmm.

[posted via BlogThis on flickr]

June 5, 2008


Filed under: family, life — suzanne henderson @ 10:49 am

I’ve been obsessing over homeschooling Alex again for the past couple months. I am very committed to the idea, but I’m the only one. Alex enjoys school, though it often amazes me when I consider all of her negative comments about the classwork and other students. Homeschooling without her support would be a challenge, but I’m hoping to get her interested in at least trying the idea for a year. My first plan was to give a test run over the summer, and I might still do something like that, but I’m really more interested in the student-led-learning approaches that we didn’t do last time. If we go that route, there isn’t really a lot to “test run” in the summer. Also, since she’s been in school so long, I agree with the idea of an extend period of “deschooling” to break out of the mental mindset that school has built up. This means that we could have many months where it seems like nothing at all is happening. Bracketing that on top of summer break seems counter intuitive since she’s expecting a break from all things school anyways.

There are lots of arguments against homeschooling and whether or not we’ll have the time to do, especially with the little one arriving soon. But, since I’ve never really supported the “school at home” approach, I’m not as worried about that. Alex is old enough to do mostly self-driven work at this point, though I’m sure she’ll need some motivation, and that is a lot less time intensive than sitting down to math, reading, spelling, writing, science, ect, every day. Instead, I’d like to take the approach that we didn’t take last time - unit driven studies that really let her dive into topics. I’ve noticed her doing this independently more and more lately and would love the opportunity to really support her interests and help her find even more ways to gather information.

Alex’s biggest concern against homeschooling is the lack of having gym every day. It’s pretty odd that she has gym every day now, but I guess Carroll County is one of the few school systems that still value daily physical activity. I’ve yet to verify that this will still be the case next year. But, if that is the only argument she has, it’s not a very reassuring one, from my point of view. Especially considering how we can add more physical activity to her schedule - including archery that she’s been wanting to do - if so much of her day wasn’t filled with being in school.

As school is winding down, I’m wondering more and more if this is going to happen for next year. I really want it to, but also won’t force it on Alex either - that’d be an invitation for disaster if I tried. Hopefully, she and I will have a chance to talk some more about it and also reassure her that it won’t be the same as it was the last time we tried it. Maybe I can get her interested in giving it a try for a year at least.

June 4, 2008

Fast Furious Storm Damage

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 4:05 pm

I was trying to rest upstairs in front of the fan when a recent storm system came through. It started out with your typical gusty winds and heavy rains and then seemed to jump up a few notches in an instant. I reluctantly got up to check the open windows in the house, see if any needed closing, and made it to the craft room when I heard a huge bang/crash/crack/pop sound out front. I wasn’t sure if it was lightening or breaking limbs or what - seems it was probably a combination of both. A glance out the front window showed:

06.04.08 Storm Damage

Okay, that must have been the noise I heard. I kept wandering around the house and then looked out our side door and it looked like there was a tree across the road at the other neighbors house. Wish I’d snapped a picture of that, but ended up tossing on some better clothes (ie. not a long skirt) and went out to help the neighbors clear the road. This picture is the semi-neatly gathered pile of limbs, which was a significant amount and thank goodness for strong, non-pregnant neighbors because several of the limbs were way beyond my lifting power - even with the extra hands helping.

06.04.08 Storm Damage

Once back inside and back into dry clothes, I went out on the porch to snap these pictures. I also noticed that our other neighbor across the street lost the top of one of his pine trees — that damage is pretty hard to see in the photo though. There are actually 3 pine trees there and the far left one is now topless.

06.04.08 Storm Damage

Amazing thing in all of this — our sad maple tree lost one measly little branch and other than taking out the power line, none of these limbs caused any damage. One neighbor even had a motorcycle out by the road for sale and all the downed limbs managed to just miss the bike somehow. I wanna go check on our neighbor across the street, but am worried about the loose power line between us — maybe I’m being overly paranoid, but will call and touch base with Chris first. Not too worried about her, she’s quite the lady at 70+ and I’m sure a little loss of power isn’t causing her much grief at all.

ETA: Neighbor is fine, as expected.

June 2, 2008

crazy weekend recap…

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 12:49 pm

Last week I spent mostly recuperating from the insane two weeks prior, which means that I did a whole lot of nothing. The rest was needed and my body thanked me for it.

Saturday morning was an AP-yardsale in Glen Burnie that had been advertised on a local forum I frequent. Since it was targeted at momma’s likely to care about things like cloth diapering and buying local, I figured it was a good event to attend even though I wouldn’t have any yardsale-priced items. Thankfully I’d already decided that I wouldn’t spend any energy on making more stock for this event. I was comfortable taking whatever I had left from the prior weekend’s event at the MD Sustainable Living fair. Since I really needed that week of rest, I was more than happy to leave everything from the show packed and waiting for my next trip out.

The yardsale was very successful. Lots of local (maryland-local vs carroll county-local) stopped by and chatted about diapers and several fliers went home with new faces. I sold several items, much to my surprise, including the playsilks that didn’t sell last weekend much to my disappointment. One of the big perks from the Sustainable Living fair was having a mom stop by and tell us that her child was currently wearing one of my diapers! Imagine my surprise when that happened again this weekend! This mom had purchased one at the show last weekend and we got to see her little one running around in it - thats such a simple pleasure to have.

Good Food
After the sale, we stopped in to visit Chris’ mom in Bowie. I really enjoyed our visit, though I was completely exhausted following the sale. After hanging out and watching the food channel for hours, the subject of dinner approached and I was dying for some good BBQ thanks to the tv. We ended up going out to a place in Bowie, Smokey Bones Barbeque, an East Coast chain with only one location in Maryland.

I didn’t have high hopes for the place. Getting good BBQ is always a challenge, in my book, and I expected to find skinny ribs drowning in too much sauce. But I was wrong. This place had impressive food and great service. Our waitress was on the ball and always bring exactly what we needed, when we needed it, and the food was fabulous. I’d even say it was probably the best rack of ribs I’ve had - tons of meat full of the perfect meat flavor. Chris’ mom and I got the combo platter which was a half-rack of two different style of ribs ($19), Chris tried the pulled-pork platter ($11), and Alex happily ordered a decent sized steak ($14). Alex’s steak was perfectly cooked and also full of flavor. Unfortunately, I missed out on trying the pulled-pork which looked yummy. We all left with full tummies and a just a little bit of leftovers. All evening long I kept commenting on how impressed I was with the food - that just doesn’t happen all that often these days, much less at a chain restaurant it seems.

Deer Strike
We finally headed back home around 7pm, I think. Along the way we, we saw a car lose control along 32. They did a couple spins and went flying across the highway, into the median. Thankfully the other drivers were paying enough attention that the sudden flash of break lights prevent any further accidents. I had Chris pull off into the median and we hopped out to see if they people were okay. Half of their windshield was busted in (in the spider-web way, not busted all the way through) and we quickly learned they’d hit a deer. There was a husband and wife pair in the car and the fellar was already on the phone making necessary calls while looking at the damage. I sat down in the drivers seat to check on the woman who was very upset. The deer had hit the windshield right in front of her seat, that combined with out of control spinning and stopping, was understandably upsetting. Luckily, she wasn’t physically injured, so I just sat and talked with her a bit as she started to calm down. I encouraged her to step out of the vehicle so she could brush off the broken glass. The shock of the event finally wore off and she was calm enough to start processing the whole event a bit more.

Chris ended up taking lots of pictures of the scene, including ones of the vehicle damage and the deer. He also made sure the deer was dead as well, as the idea of a suffering animal is just too cruel, and pulled it out of the roadway. We stayed and chatted with the couple for a while, making sure they were doing fine and they had a plan of action as well. Luckily, they had local friends/family with a two truck to call upon and seemed to be pretty set. We gave them our contact information, turns out they’re local to us. None of us had called emergency services — but a passerby must have. At some point, an ambulance, two fire trucks, and police officer arrived on the scene. Alex ended up being questioned first because she was closest to where they stopped and she let them know it was just a deer that was hurt. After the quick scene survey, the ambulance and fire trucks were prompt to head out and we verified with the office that he didn’t need us for anything and took advantage of the emergency vehicles blocking a lane so we could get back on the highway safely.

Bird Mites
Once home, we were exhausted, but the fun wasn’t over. On heading to bed, I noticed our toothbrushes covered with specks — moving specks. Looking closer, I noticed they were all over the counters. But, it was late and I couldn’t deal with it then, even though I spent the entire night obsessing over them. The next morning, further investigation was overwhelming - they were all over everything in the bathroom. I cleaned every surface in the bathroom and washed everyting - all the while getting these things on me. Google gave me a few leads, but nothing promising: clover mites or bird mites. When Chris got home from picking up a ladder that I swear is gonna be the death of him, we inspected around the house and finally concluded what the bugs were - bird mites. Some birds had nested in the eaves near the bathroom and we’d not gotten rid of them yet — we could see a steady stream of mites all over the area near the nest and up to the bathroom windows - but none anywhere else around the house.

I’ve been washing the bathroom down twice daily with a borax solution but it’s no use, really. I’ve sprinkled boax on the carpet and will vacuum daily for a while. And we’ll be washing our bedding daily too - what fun. We’re picking up some pesticide stuff for the outside today and hopefully that will help. Chris ripped off part of the house to get to the nest (and found more termite damange, oh joy), but hasn’t been able to get in far enough yet and the birds are still there. Argh. This is really overwhelming for me because I feel like I can’t do anything to solve this quickly and having tiny bugs on you is really freaky. I’m just trying to not go insane in the meantime. But, stopping them from getting beyond the bathroom is my biggest goal. At the moment, I’m seriously hating my old house and the delusions of owning an old house - why did I want to buy this damn place?