Another Week, Another Month…

Already this year is whizzing by. April is almost here and I've got big plans for things to do. Who knows how much I’ll get done, but I’m going to try.

Of course, the big event of the month is a trip to Canada. It will be a couple of long days of travel getting there and back, and no telling what sort of adventures I’ll have with flights and layovers. Things rarely seem to go as planned! But I figure me and my well-traveled laptop in its' new bright red case will just park ourselves where ever and wait for what comes next.

It will be interesting to see what kind of weather they have in Canada when I get up there. I don’t think we’ll be going on any picnics just yet, ha! However, I don't think that's going to make any difference. We'll have a good visit no matter what kind of weather they're having in the far north.

The other big project for April will be… you guessed it! The bathroom. By the time I get back from Canada, all the stuff I ordered should have been delivered, and we’ll be able to start work. We need to rip off wallpaper and take out just about everything in there but the tub, so it’s going to be a lot of work.

That’s just the big stuff. The usual chores will need done, and all kinds of other projects. So it looks like another busy month coming up.

At least I never have to worry about being bored!

Two Weeks until Canada!

I looked at the calendar today and realized it’s only TWO WEEKS until I head for Canada! All right! Look out Richard, Chrystie & Ellie, here I come!!!

Bwaaaa haaaa haaaa!

Sticker Shock!

Okay, I finally did it! After weeks - months even! - of thinking about it and researching, I went to town today and ordered a bunch of stuff for remodeling the bathroom.

Ouch. In more ways that one.

I drove down to Huntsville. That wasn’t so bad. It’s driving back after I’m exhausted that’s a killer! Anyway, I stopped at UPS on the way down to drop off a couple of boxes with some return items, then stopped at Foods for Life to pick up a couple of things. By then it was almost time for Jonathan to be off work, so I met him there.

We hopped in his car and he drove over to Park Supply Company. I didn’t know they existed until I was looking for a particular brand of toilet and looked to see who carried them in our area and up popped their name. Wouldn’t you know, when I told Jess about it, he knew exactly where they were, as he used to go over there and pick up some parts when Shelby Construction needed them. However, he never went in the showroom and had no idea they had all the residential kind of stuff.

And they had a huge selection. I was intrigued with the toilets that had lids which popped open when you walked by, and slowly closed a while later. Jonathan wanted to know what a "washlet" was, and when I told him it was sort of like a bidet, he did a great Crocodile Dundee impression, "It's for washing your backside, right!?"

However, I already knew what I wanted, and those were a little more uptown than our budget would allow. Once we’d looked around and ascertained they didn’t have anything else we wanted, I asked one of the sales reps how much that model toilet was.

She started going down the list of height, seat shape, etc. As fast as she asked a question I lobbed back an answer. She told me the price, I said, “I’ll take it.” Her mouth dropped open, and she said, “Well, that was easy!” I just laughed and told her I’d already done my research and knew what I wanted before I got to the store.

Then she surprised me (and herself) by discovering they had one exactly like I wanted in stock. I figured since we were ordering a gray colored one, we’d have to special order it, but she said they’d got several in so they could show customers what the color looked like. Well, we didn’t drive the truck because we didn’t expect to take it home with us, so Jess will have to go back and pick it up sometime.

From there we went to Home Depot and looked at base cabinets for a vanity in the bathroom, and for a valet cabinet to put over the toilet. They didn’t have a counter/sink top like I wanted, so we decided we’d head on up to Lowe’s and see what they had before buying anything at Home Depot.

We ended up ordering oak - a base cabinet for a vanity, a cupboard for over the toilet – in a light colored stain, and a one-piece cultured marble top with recessed sink in a gray and white swirl pattern.

Of course, even though I knew about what it was going to cost, by the time they tacked on taxes, I had severe sticker shock when I checked out. Ouch.

And by that time, my body was in full-blown rebellion. BIG OUCH!!!

On the bright side, Jess stopped on the way home from work – he was headed home before we were! - and picked up some KFC for supper. And he didn’t bat an eye when I told him how much I spent today. He just shrugged and said, “Well, we knew it was going to be expensive.”

Hopefully, it all goes together well. It’s so difficult to tell from those little bitty samples. Whatever it looks like, we’re gonna be stuck with it for a long, long time!

Too much for one day!

This morning we had a round-up on the farm, giving yearly vaccinations and other stuff. It went pretty well, all things considered. We have a lot less animals than we used to, so I figured I could get by with this, no problems.

As usual, I was wrong. I could barely walk by the time we got back inside. Oh well!

I rested a while, then got some dough started for pizza crusts. I thought I’d take a little snooze, but someone knocked at the door. There were the 4 kids from the trailer down the road, selling stuff for their school.

Once they left, I tried again for a nap, and actually got to sleep, when the phone rang and someone wanted to talk to Jess, and that someone wanted to come for a visit. So much for the nap!

It was a very short visit, but by that time I needed to finish up the pizza crusts, we had to go do evening chores, come back in and pop the pizza in the oven for supper. After all that, I’m ready to call it a day.

A day!

Three Week Countdown!

Guess what folks!?? I looked at the calendar today, and noticed that not only is it the first day of spring, but it's only THREE WEEKS until I go to Canada!


I'd better be thinking of what I need to take, but maybe I've got a while yet to worry about that.

In the meantime, I'm making out a plan for that blasted bathroom that is still waiting to be remodeled. We've got a list now of what needs done and the order in which we need to do it.

I already know what we need to buy. We went down to Huntsville last Saturday to order a vanity, and couldn't decide which color or model for sure, and couldn't get anyone to wait on us and answer questions so we could make a final decision. Both stores we visited were a madhouse. We finally gave it up and went home.

We can't buy just anything that appeals to us and stick in there. We are limited by space, fitting it under the present medicine cabinet, getting a color that doesn't totally clash with the gold colored tub and a few other considerations. Nothing's simple.

I'm giving serious thought to riding down to Huntsville with Jonathan when he goes to work tomorrow afternoon, and going to the stores again when they hopefully won't be so busy, and get this DONE.

Some people may enjoy this, but to me, there's NOTHING easy about remodeling.

Passing on the torch...

Back in my younger years, I used to decorate cakes. It all started with a panda bear cake for Richard’s first birthday: I reckon just about every year after that I made special cakes for Richard’s birthday, and then when Jonathan came along, his birthdays also. When I wasn’t baking and decorating cakes myself, I helped others just learning how to do it. A homemade cake tastes so much better than the store bought version! Then I branched out and made cakes for anniversaries, and cakes for weddings, including those of an aunt and a very special friend, Angie.

Recently that special friend, somewhere between an adopted daughter and younger sister, sent me a letter. We hadn’t touched base in some time, and she was telling me she went back to work almost full-time, and “Guess what I do!! I decorate cakes!”

Well, how about that!

Then along came Ellie's birthday, and guess who made her a special Elmo birthday cake?
Why, Richard did! How cool is that?

So though I no longer make fancy cakes, it looks like the torch has passed on, and two others have taken up decorating cakes.

You just never know what you do that might spark an interest in someone else!


It's hard to believe, but today is our youngest granddaughter's 3rd birthday!!! Yes, Little Miss Ellise Florence Kroeker Boggs was born 3 years ago, and so much has happened since then!

Here she is with Grandma shortly after she was born. Richard and Chrystie were living in the Dallas area at that time.
Hey you guys! Quit flashing those lights in my eyes!

Of course, I thought she was the cutest little baby ever! Doesn't every grandparent think that when they get a new grandchild???

Then before we knew it, we were down in Texas again, and Ellie was close to a year old! Wow! We all went for a family photo, and they took a few of Ellie by herself - I kind of like the punky hairdo she had at that time. Sort of the wind-blown look as it were.

Of course, when her actual first birthday rolled around a couple months later, there was an aura of sadness mixed in, as she had just been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Even when you have a pretty good idea the diagnosis is coming, it's still a shock to actually hear it made a reality.

Naturally that doesn't change the fact she's our little sweetheart. Ellie has to work harder to do things the 'average' kid does, and it makes us appreciate every bit of progress all the more! Like here on her 2nd birthday, and she's sitting up by herself:

Isn't she precious with that pretty dress and cute bows in her hair? (That's a rhetorical question - I know she's a doll, and if you don't agree, you must need your eyes examined, ha, ha!)

Today Ellie had a birthday brunch party with Mom and Dad and the Northern Grandparents (Arlene & Wayne), and tomorrow evening she gets to have a bigger birthday bash. I'm looking forward to getting up there in about 3 1/2 weeks and we'll party again. Whoo, whoo!

Since I don't have a 3rd year birthday picture yet, I'll close with a picture taken when Ellie was visiting here early November 2007.

Sitting on Grandpa's tractor is lots of fun!

Happy 3rd birthday Ellie!


Our family is scattered to all points of the compass, mostly in Manitoba, West Virginia, Florida and Oklahoma. Sometimes the best way to get from here to there is to fly, so we’ve been researching credit cards, looking for ones that give the best deal on airline miles. I found it all pretty confusing trying to figure out who had the best deal until Jess happened to see an ad for a website that compares all sorts of different credit cards. You can search by type of card, and one of the categories is for airline credit cards.

We decided to apply for their top pick, which happened to be a Discover Card. Jess filled out the application, and it was only a week or so before a couple of new credit cards arrived in the mail. I called to activate them last night, and figured we were good to go.

I had a purchase I needed to make online, so decided I’d give the card a test run. I got the information put in, pressed the “enter” button, and up popped red letters – you know there’s a problem when the messages are red. So what was the glitch? It seems that company didn’t accept Discover cards, only Visa or MasterCard.

Rats! I didn’t even think of that.

As it turns out, we already had a credit card with the company that is second on the “top pick” list for airline miles. Only thing is, you can’t just switch the type of credit card you have with them. Nope, you have to apply for a new one.

Well, fine, just be that way. This afternoon I filled out the short online application, and after a few seconds thinking it over, up popped a message that my credit card was approved and would arrive in 7-10 days, and with a higher credit limit than our old card. Alrighty then!

Hopefully we’re good to go now. I would think just about any place we shop would accept either Discover or Visa. Our plan is to pay for a lot of things by credit card that we would ordinarily use a debit card or cash for, then pay off the bill as soon as it comes in, thereby making our money do double duty as it not only purchases items we need, but builds up air miles. Kind of reminds me of when we used to get green stamps at the grocery store that could be redeemed for all kinds of things.

Okay, we've got places to go, so let the air miles accumulate!

My Heart Hurts

Last Friday I read the post Chrystie made on her blog about taking Ellie to the Spasticity Clinic. After examining Ellie, the therapist declared she was fairly certain that Ellie will never walk functionally because her gait is so affected by the tightness of the muscles in her hips -- that walking would be “completely inefficient, and a wheelchair would most definitely be her main mode of ambulation.”

Well. That’s not what anyone wanted to hear.

Chrystie asked them about several options used to treat kids with Cerebral Palsy and the resulting tight muscles, such as surgery, Botox and other meds. None sounded like particularly helpful options for Ellie.

Now, I don’t consider any therapist or doctor the last word on what Ellie will or will not be able to do, but I don’t think their advice can be totally disregarded either. I figure there’s a fine line somewhere between helping Ellie achieve as much as possible, without pushing her with unrealistic expectations. The hard job of deciding where that line is, and what treatments Ellie should get, is Richard and Chrystie’s responsibility. I can only imagine how difficult it must be at times to know just what IS the right thing to do.

Nobody in their right mind ever said being a parent is easy.

Of course my heart hurts for my grandchild Ellie, but my heart also hurts for my children, and knowing how hard it must have been for them to hear such things, and how hard it is to decide what is the best course(s) of action for Ellie.

You don’t want unpleasant things to happen to your kids. You wish only good things for them, and as always, I wish I had a magic wand I could wave and make it all better. However, as anyone knows that has lived very long, life just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes it’s just downright HARD and all you can do is hang on and try to make the proverbial lemonade from the lemons life has handed you. After the shock wears off, I know that’s just what Richard and Chrystie will do. We’ll all stick a Band-Aid over the latest “ouchie” and move on.

“... Weeping may last for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” My heart may hurt, but I’m going to keep hold of that joy, and wish for that joy to be in the lives of all my kids and grandkids.

"... And again I say, Rejoice!"

Reporting In: Spin Off , Llama Lunacy & Picture Not-Perfect!

I haven't written for a while, but things just keep happening. Here are a few updates:

Spin Off

Early in the week I sent out emails to several e-groups with an ad for my spinning wheel. I bought it after we moved here, having wanted to learn to spin for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a little kid I had a toy spinning wheel. (Anyone else remember the “Little Red Spinning Wheel”?)

Well, the lady I bought the Ashford wheel from didn’t keep up her end of the bargain and give me lessons. Then health intervened, and my thoracic neuralgia makes it difficult to hold my arms up for long periods of time. I finally decided there wasn’t much point to hanging on to an expensive item like a spinning wheel when I’ll never be able to use it, so I advertised it and by the end of the week it was sold.

I’d feel more depressed about that if it wasn’t for the fact I got an email this week telling about a new camera coming out in May. It’s the second-generation upgrade to my present camera, with fixes for most of the things I don’t like about it. And guess what? It costs exactly what I sold my spinning wheel for. I figure it must be fate and I was meant to have a new camera. (Picture me with a big grin here.) And I should be able to sell my present camera and still come out some ahead, so it all seems like karma or something, right?

Llama Lunacy

We’ve had a little llama for a long time. Her mother died while she was still young, so she thinks I’m her mother. Well, Thursday we finally got her a buddy. He’s quite handsome, and as soon as Blogger cooperates, I’ll post pictures on the Rural Ramblings site. The funny thing is, she positively refuses to acknowledge he exists.

Picture Not-Perfect

Saturday Jess and I got all dressed up in the middle of the afternoon and headed to church. No, it wasn't a party this time, they were taking pictures for the church directory. It's really neat that these days you can go right in after the picture taking session and see what pictures they have availalbe. The only problem I could see was the photos looked just like us.

We got an 8x10 free, and decided since we hadn’t had a formal picture of just us since the ones we took right after we got married, we’d buy a few. Even a few pictures costs a bunch! But I figure whoever we give a picture to will be so grateful to have such excellent pest control, it’ll be worth every penny.

I've got more updates to come, but three's a charm, so that's it for now!

More rain! & a general update...

It's almost 10:30pm, and the rain predicted hours ago is finally here.

It was a gorgeous day otherwise. I christened the screens on the new storm doors, and used them today for the first time. No heat, no a/c, just wind blowing through the screens. Right now it's 75°F. in the house, but if the temperature drops as quickly as the weatherman predicted, that sure won't last.

Jess is feeling poorly with a nasty cold and didn't go to work today. I've got a feeling he won't make it to work tomorrow either, unless he has a near miraculous recovery overnight.

Jonathan is feeling better and was off from work today. We took a load of 115# worth of magazines to the recycling center. Yes, I said 115#!!! They've obviously been piling up for a long time, and time to get rid of them. I'm on a mission to clear all the excess stuff out of this house!

Then we went grocery shopping - not one of my favorite activities.

I also spent some time this afternoon on Behr Paints website. They have a neat little program called "Color Smart" that allows you to choose one or two colors, and they bring up palettes with suggestions of complementary colors. I think after a lot of looking and getting some feedback from Jonathan, I've decided on the colors to paint the walls and ceiling.

I now know what toilet I want to buy, what sort of countertop/sink, the colors of the paint, and the type of vanity and etagere. Now all I need to do is get the wallpaper off the walls, and get all this stuff ordered and/or bought, and the work done.

Simple. (Imagine much rolling of eyes here.) Okay, I need to keep envisioning what it's going to look like when it's done. Lots of work, but big improvement.

Not so simple, but worth it.

Things I've Learned Recently

* If you take the paddles out of the breadmaker right before the last rise, and put little pieces of foil over the posts, you don’t have to stand there for 5 minutes shaking the pan like crazy, trying to get the bread loosened and out of the pan. It slides right out, pretty as you please, first try.

* If you stand in bathroom putting Clairol on your hair, and squirt the bottle too hard, it will go through the tiny crack between the open door and facing, and make big splashes on the wall behind, which you will not notice until your husband goes into the bathroom later in the day and shuts the door, and all of a sudden you see the wall in your bedroom that was behind the door, and “OH NO! Where did those huge blotches of brown come from???”

* Further, I have also learned that you can NOT clean hair dye off the wall, even though it is NON-permanent dye, by any means available to the average householder. No, the stuff just smears around making an even bigger mess.

* Another thing I’ve learned recently, or at least it’s been emphasized through some searching I’ve been doing -- it’s often hard to find addresses on a website that is designed to sell people something. Does that make sense to anybody? I’ve been checking out local CSA’s, and one even went so far as to give a link for MapQuest so you could put in the addresses and see how to get there. Just one problem, NO where on the entire website do they give an address, just a very general location. I even tried putting in their farm name, and still could not locate them. If you want people to come to your farm, why don’t you have an address that’s easily seen?

* Just last night, I learned that not all toilets are created equal. I was doing online research trying to find one for our hall bathroom, and discovered that:

  1. You can’t enter “commode” in the Google search engine and find the fixtures I was looking for. That brings up bedside commodes and portapotties. Nope, it’s got to be “toilet” to find the “permanent-put-it-in-your-bathroom” kind of fixture.

  2. There is some interesting engineering and fluid dynamics with getting toilets to flush using the new, smaller amount of water. Seriously!

  3. Recognized name brands do not necessarily get good reviews. In fact, one I thought would be good was trashed repeatedly in reviews, and one I’d never heard of got good reviews everywhere.
* It’s hard to find colors to match that weird harvest gold so popular in the 70’s (which our huge tub & surround happens to be).

That’s just what I can think of right off the top of my head, and I know there's more! At least I can say I’m still learning!