8/21/16

September 6, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Well hey! It’s been too long, I know.

It’s been a good summer. No kids were grounded! The middle child is strutting her stuff cuz she’s a senior this year. Thankfully, the school sells a “senior package” which includes their parking pass, reserved parking spot, prom ticket, and yearbook. Maybe, just maybe, I won’t be nickel-and-dimed all year. She has a schedule issue to fix, but she’s all set. She now says she wants to be a veterinarian. I’ve asked her “Have you seen your grades?” She needs to step it up, big time.

The oldest is enrolled for the fall semester at the county college. She still doesn’t know what she wants to do, so she’s pursuing general studies. Neither of the girls have found work yet, though they’re not trying too hard. The oldest does some commissioned digital art work so she has a little bit of pocket change, but she needs a real job.

Travis is his usual happy self. He got glasses on his birthday and I swear he looks more like Jeff. We just had his birthday party yesterday. Thirteen kids came, most of them girls!

Travis is registered for fifth grade again. That’s been a really tough decision on my part. We had meet-the-teacher Friday night and I really like his teachers. Maybe fresh teachers, special education, and an extra year to grow, mature, and expand his vocabulary will get him on the right track.

We had a great vacation to Gulf Shores. The drive was not terrible and we stayed in a nice condo on the beach. Middle child started getting bored by about day 9, and I wasn’t able to arrange a kayak trip before we left, but all-in-all we had a good time.

My house project is nearing completion. The plant ledge is gone, the closet is finished, things are painted; I just need to put the stone around the fireplace. I’ll probably be painting this week while the boyfriend is gone. With Travis’s party over, I can go back to making messes

6/4/16

June 4, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

BIG POST!! Nothing earth-shattering… just a LOT of content, since I haven’t updated in so long.

This must be the year the house goes to shit.

BOTH HVAC units have been completely replaced. Only the ductwork is unchanged. In that process, the city has to come out and inspect. Well, the overflow pans had backflow, so it didn’t pass inspection. The AC guys came back out, rerouted the overflow drains so they could be lower than the AC units. The city was to come back out to reinspect but the inspector said they were short-handed, that they are familiar with Reliant’s work and he was confident that he could just pass it without reinspecting. I made sure he knew it didn’t pass the first time and this was to be a reinspection. He was still okay with passing it sight unseen.

Next the roof shingles were replaced. The roofer had to access the attic because one of his guys broke a standpipe and once he pulled the attic ladder down, he smelled gas. Knowing that the AC was recently replaced, he suggested I call my AC guys. I called and they came out that evening. The house reeked of natural gas by that point. The AC guys were very apologetic and said that one of the gas lines was not as tight as it could have been and they tightened it down, checked for leaks and said everything was good.

That was on a Wednesday. By Saturday (Memorial Day weekend), the house still reeked of gas so I called Atmos, not sure if it just takes forever for that smell to dissipate or if we still had a leak somewhere. The Atmos guy came out and did a pressure test and said there is a leak but he couldn’t find it. So he shut off the gas. (Luckily I had already cooked dinner.) He said I needed to call my plumber to find the gas leak. On a Saturday. Memorial Day weekend.

Have you taken a cold shower? They SUCK!

I called my usual plumber and left a message. Then I looked for an emergency plumber. Though I could get a plumber out, he wouldn’t be able to do anything with it because he would need a permit from the city. Of course city offices were closed for the Memorial Day weekend so nothing could be done until Tuesday. (The worst part of a cold shower is cold water down your back!) Finally the plumber came out, found the leak (a roof nail punctured the gas flex line running along the underside of the roof), did the repairs, and $1100 later (thank you, boyfriend)… we still had no gas. (COLD SHOWERS SUCK!)

The inspector came out Wednesday and okayed the repair, with the caveat that we ground the main gas pipe. (This was a mercifully easy thing to do.) He was to let Atmos know electronically that it was okay to turn on the gas. I was told by the plumber that since this is an electronic process, Atmos should know within an hour or so. I fully expected Atmos to automagically show up and turn on the gas. Late Wednesday, no Atmos. No gas. No hot shower. I called first thing Thursday morning and was told that the homeowner is supposed to call Atmos to set up a time to turn on the gas. >:\       Though the Atmos lady I talked to said it would normally be the next day (Friday), she would override that and get someone out the same day. By early afternoon we were taking HOT showers again.

The back fence was replaced on Memorial Day. It is absolutely georgeous!! It’s nothing fancy. Just upright. All one color. And in one long, straight line.

The kids have wrapped up their 2015-2016 school year. Travis did not pass his second attempt at the STAAR Reading test. He understands what this means and is accepting. He really is a resilient kid. I am confident he will do fine, probably better, getting a chance to catch up. Kristen has been… Kristen. Let’s recap this school year:

  • October 2015, shortly after getting her license, goes to a friend’s birthday party but winds up at another kids house with boys and alcohol and no parents. After progressive revelations about this, lying, and sneaking out in the middle of the night with a friend WHILE GROUNDED, her final sentence: grounded for three months.
  • April 2016 – was past curfew getting home. When she finally answered my call, she was upset because she was stuck in traffic and low on gas. When I asked where she had encountered so much traffic, she said she had been at a party in a not-so-great part of town and was stuck in night-time road construction traffic. I talked her through getting to a gas station. When she got home her friends called her to see where she was. They were still at the party and stuck there because a friend lost her car keys. Her car was holding some of their work uniforms hostage. They were messed up. Some had been drinking and eating special brownies to excess. The boyfriend, Kristen and I drove to the party and brought home two of the kids to crash in the living room. Only one stop on the way home for one of the girls to puke. Kristen and her boyfriend had broken up fairly recently, so I took it easy on her; final sentence: grounded for one week.
  • Late April 2016 – was caught skipping class with three of her friends. They were in her car in the school parking lot, the idiots! I got a call from the assistant principal. I no longer felt sorry for her, so her final sentence was grounded for two weeks.

Even with all this, I still say Kristen’s a good kid. I know it could be worse!

I started a little project while the boyfriend was gone for three weeks. (See what happens when I get bored?) I have long hated the giant plant ledge in the living room. So, I seized the opportunity to hack away at it. This is the original monstrosity:

Hideous plant ledge

Hideous plant ledge with random crap on it.

 I just hate the way the plant ledge butts into the fireplace wall.

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This is the goal. Crappy photoshop skills but you get the idea.

The idea is to get rid of the plant ledge abutting the fireplace wall, put the stone on that I’ve had for over a year, and build a closet on top of the remaining archway which would be accessible from the landing. Can you see it? Don’tcha love it? It’ll be so much better right?

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This is the current state.

I’m fortunate to have a wonderful guy helping me. (Or I’m helping him?) He’s one of Jeff’s buddies from the guard. He just shakes his head at me and my projects. He’s a sweet guy, but I know he’ll be glad when I’m gone on vacation!

Alex, Travis and I participated in an American Cancer Society Relay for Life event last month. I was on a team with some folks from work. We walked, and walked, and walked, and walked… I think I counted 25 laps around the track. It was an interesting experience. I didn’t even cry much. I’d like to do it each year, if possible.

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Sno-cones in hand, the kids were ready to walk!

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Still smiling toward the end of the night!

My computer’s power supply got zapped in one of the storms we’ve had over the past couple of months. Being the wife of an IT guy, I was often exposed to computer guts all over the floor and paid attention to what was going on, so I was able to buy a power supply, install it and get my computer back up and running.

We celebrated Jeff’s 48th birthday this year with a strawberry cake. I did the writing with cookie icing – not meant for cakes. Just a few hours after taking this photo, the heart and flower became mere blobs and the writing started to blur together. Jeff would have loved it anyway!

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Maybe I need to learn to make more manly cakes?

 

This morning I went to open the microwave door and half the handle broke. I’m laughing on the inside.

4/13/16

April 13, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

There have been quite a few changes since the last post — mainly, the boyfriend’s deployment fell through. I’m somewhat relieved but I know it was something he really felt compelled to do so I’m disappointed for him.

The girls and I are no longer excited about going to Italy; all the kids would rather go back to Gulf Shores! I have until May to make a decision about canceling the trip, but it’ll cost me a pretty penny.

The downstairs AC finally bit the bullet. I’m getting quotes. (First quote $4600-$8200.) The roof needs to be repaired/replaced. I have the insurance dude coming out next week. The back fence is crumbling and with the last storm several panels/posts gave way. I have a guy lined up to take care of that, or should I say I’m in line behind the other fence jobs he has scheduled. No rush. Fingers crossed we don’t have a major appliance failure too!

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Pardon the poor picture quality.

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It was brought to my attention that the flowerbed border looks like part of the outline of Texas, at least from this angle.

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These bizarre things are called “kangaroo paws” or “joey paws”.

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Close-up

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Pile of branches (still hasn’t been picked up).

I got one fun project mostly done. I think I said last year (or was it the year before?)  that next year I would work on the flower beds/outdoor projects. So I did most of the flower beds and trimmed trees. Certainly gives me a sense of accomplishment and I’m very happy with the results.

I’ve been very busy at work lately too. Lots of nerdy fun stuff is keeping me occupied. I just had my 20th anniversary with the company on March 1st! I started when I was just a wee girl of course 🙂

The boyfriend and I went to a funeral yesterday. I REALLY hate funerals.

Such is life…

February 23, 2016 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Just when you’re sitting back, sipping the lemonade you made out of the lemons you “stumbled upon”, things take a turn. I’ll soon have more free time to work on projects around the house, focus on the kids, exercise, and do whatever I damn well please, I guess. I’ll do lots of painting, maybe even tackle my home office. THAT is a major project! I’ll get myself and the girls geared up for our trip to Italy this summer.  I’ll nudge the girls ever so slightly forcefully to get jobs. We’ll see movies, go to the park, do fun stuff. Oh, wait, the girls drive now. They may not want to hang out with me. Sooooo, maybe it’ll just be me and Travis. I’ll dream up great, fun, exhausting things to do in my forthcoming free time.

The reason for my impending free time is that the boyfriend, aka my fourth child/Travis’s playmate, is taking a deployment. Don’t worry! We’ll be fine! Good grief, we were fine for a year before he came along. It’s just that he’ll be gone a long time. I worry for him because of where he’ll be. Travis is very resilient so I don’t think he’ll be terribly heartbroken, but things have been going well with him and the BF. And with me and the BF. (The girls and the BF? Notsomuch, but they’re tolerant.) We’ve settled into some semblance of domesticity. It’s like my glass of lemonade has been knocked over. My fault, I put it down. One of the cats likely toppled it. I have enjoyed having a partner. Someone who cares about me and Travis and even the girls. Wow. The girls sound like monsters, but they’re really not. They’re just naturally resistant. I know it could be a lot worse. It’s nice to have someone in my corner. A sounding board. A voice of reason. A cheerleader. A shoulder and warm hug. Well, he’s not dropping off the planet for Pete’s sake. We’ll still talk. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Anywho… Travis had an appointment with the wonderful folks at Texas Scottish Rite today. His funky little feet were deemed normal for him. He walks with a bit of a sashay, which was also deemed normal for him. He runs with flare – again, normal for him. He’s doing very well from his initial days of very tangled feet.

Art

December 22, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

For the past few years we’ve made sugar cookies at Christmastime. Well, I make the cookies then we all decorate them. Now, if you haven’t figured out by now, we are pretty non-traditional. This is evident in our cookie “art”. You can see some traditionally-decorated cookies, but you’ll also see an octopus, a ghost, a heart, a couple fish, a “dragon”, a hot-air balloon, a guitar, a crocodile head, two spiders, a cat, a squirrel, and two handguns. There is also my feeble attempt at an AR15 bolt face. It’s fun to be creative and laugh and point at our less-than-stellar results. They’re still yummy, though!

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It’s that time of year again

December 5, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

This is the time of year for hustling and bustling about, planning and attending holiday parties, Christmas shopping, traveling, and seeing friends and family. A time for giving to one another. A time for togetherness. (These should be year-round, but people are people, and we have stuff to do.)

For me, this is the time when those intensely sad feelings bubble to the surface. Those haunting memories come to the foreground. They’re there, in the crowd of other memories, jumping up and down and waving hysterically, begging to be noticed, but not like a best friend who can’t wait to be reunited with you and give you a big hug, then excitedly rambling on about all the things that have happened since your last meeting, and then swearing to not let so much time pass between get-togethers, and maybe next time we should do a cruise. These memories, if given attention, seem to want to swallow me whole and keep me in a dark pit.

The memories and images of two years ago can’t be ignored. I try not to dwell on them because they’re still so painful. I try to change focus to the kids, the boyfriend, work, and house repairs. I go to the gym (since I’m a wuss and won’t ride my bike in temps below 60). I’m doing okay. This is just a difficult time of year. Every year. It’s harder to choose happy. It’s harder to get out of bed. It’s harder to keep the tears at bay.

Still, I get out of bed. I do my damnedest to choose happy. I’m not stifling the tears today and am thankful for the release that comes with shedding them.

10/7/15

October 7, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

I logged in to add a post and found this draft from a few weeks ago, so I’ll go ahead and post it.

We’re back into the swing of school and schedules and homework. The big change is that the girls are driving! They’re sharing the car, but they’re making it work. Alex has started a class at the community college and will start two more later this month. Travis is doing very well and continues to blossom.

What I logged in to post is this:

Have you ever annoyed yourself with something you do, but you can’t seem to make yourself stop doing it?

Every time I see a date in 2013 or earlier, I relate it to what Jeff was doing. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes definitely NOT good.  “That was the year we went to the Grand Canyon.” “That was our last trip to Galveston.” “He really loved that truck.” “Jeff was halfway through chemo.” “Those nurses at Harris Fort Worth treated Jeff like a rock star!” “That was our first trip to Houston.” (F*ck, I hate Houston! I know some of you poor souls live there and some have had to seek treatment at MD Anderson like Jeff did, but it holds not one good memory for me. The entire city is forever tarnished. I don’t think I’d blink if it was wiped off the map.) “Jeff was in ICU then.” “That was his first day in hospice.”

Facebook memory posts are the worst. I see what someone else was doing in 2013 and it is in such stark contrast to what our family was going through. It makes me envious, maybe a little bitter. It’s so unfair. I know, I know… life isn’t fair.

I know all our memories are supposed to make our lives richer, complete – you can’t appreciate the good without the bad… blah, blah, blah – but if you could erase one memory, maybe a whole day or even a week, would you? I think I would. Jeff doesn’t have to live with the memories, thankfully.

Queen headboard

August 8, 2015 in Projects by Reta Reed

Note: I did this a while ago and didn’t post it, but, dammit, I’m proud of the headboard so here it is. Pardon the goofy layout of this post!

So, I down-sized from the humongous king headboard and footboard to a queen-size bed. I knew right away I wanted to make my headboard. I found this tutorial and knew it would be easy. I surveyed my materials:

  • Big piece of plywood, OSB, or particle board – CHECK! I’ve been bumping the car door into it for years as it has been leaning against the wall in the garage.
  • Fabric – CHECK! The mile-long window scarf will be perfect. (A la Carol Burnett’s Scarlett O’Hara  “Ah saw it in the winduh and Ah just couldn’t resist it.”)
  • Staple gun – CHECK! What self-respecting DIY-er doesn’t have a staple gun?
  • Circular saw – DUH! Of course I have a circular saw.
  • Jigsaw – Double DUH!

I had a thin twin mattress pad but I wanted the headboard to be really cushy so I ordered another 3″-thick twin mattress pad from Wally World for $25. It was convoluted, but I figured I’d just put the bumpy side toward the wood or to the thinner twin pad.

I bought a set of decorator needles ($2.97) that are super long for pushing through lots of foam, wax thread (because she said so) ($3.47), and three packages of make-your-own fabric-covered buttons ($1.77 ea).

To hang the headboard easily, I discovered French cleats. If you’ve never heard of them, you’ll be glad you’re discovering them now. They make hanging large, heavy items so freakin’ easy! I bought two of them at Big Orange for $7.97 ea.

I also discovered I needed something better than boxes of tile to serve as support for cutting the wood to size, so I bought a two-pack of sawhorses at the Big Orange store. (I don’t count those in the cost of the headboard.)

A grand total of $52.69, plus a little tax that I didn’t feel like calculating.

THE DETAILS

Safety first! I donned my reading glasses (nerd alert!) so that a) I can see what I'm doing and b) flying crap doesn't get in my eyes.

Safety first! I donned my reading glasses (nerd alert!) so that a) I can see what I’m doing and b) flying crap doesn’t get in my eyes.

I love my fancy sawhorses. They extend up and out too.

I love my fancy sawhorses. They extend up and out too.

Cuts done. I cut the big piece of OSB down to 61" long and 34" wide, then used a paint can lid to trace the curve on one corner. I cut the curve with the jigsaw then used the scrap wood to trace the curve on the other corner.

Cuts done. I cut the big piece of OSB down to 61″ long and 34″ wide, then used a paint can lid to trace the curve on one corner. I cut the curve with the jigsaw then used the scrap wood to trace the curve on the other corner.

Holes for buttons. Even I can't see the holes in this picture.

Holes for buttons. Even I can’t see the holes in this picture.

I again used the scrap wood to trace the curve to cut the foam.

I again used the scrap wood to trace the curve to cut the foam.

Foam sammich

Foam sammich

The fun part! I brought everything inside to add the fabric. Since the window scarf is a light color and since it is a mile long, I doubled it so there wouldn't be show-through of wood or whatever.

The fun part! I brought everything inside to add the fabric. Since the window scarf is a light color and since it is a mile long, I doubled it so there wouldn’t be show-through of wood or whatever.

I used a spongy sandpaper block to soften the corners so it's easier on the fabric. I didn't cover the wood with batting like others have done.

I used a spongy sandpaper block to soften the corners so it’s easier on the fabric. I didn’t cover the wood with batting like others have done.

I don't care what the back looks like! You just pull and staple the heck outta everything. Again, I sat on top of the whole thing to compress it a bit as I stapled.

I don’t care what the back looks like! You just pull and staple the heck outta everything. Again, I sat on top of the whole thing to compress it a bit as I stapled.

It's already gorgeous!

It’s already gorgeous!

The buttons are stupid easy to make.

The buttons are stupid easy to make.

This extra long needle was essential!

This extra long needle was essential!

Be sure to cut enough thread that you don't lose it in the foam.

Be sure to cut enough thread that you don’t lose it in the foam.

Feeding the needle back through and finding the hole was a bit tricky. Just try to keep the needle horizontal to the floor and perpendicular (Google it) to the wood.

Feeding the needle back through and finding the hole was a bit tricky. Just try to keep the needle horizontal to the floor and perpendicular (Google it) to the wood.

Once I had the needle to the back of the wood, I put one of Travis's Play-doh containers on the floor, centered under the button I was attaching, so that as I pressed on the wood, the foam would be compressed and allow me to pull the button tight. Staple the thread ends to the wood. Pound those staples in good and tight and knot the thread to keep them from relaxing.

Once I had the needle to the back of the wood, I put one of Travis’s Play-doh containers on the floor, centered under the button I was attaching, so that as I pressed on the wood, the foam would be compressed and allow me to pull the button tight. Staple the thread ends to the wood. Pound those staples in good and tight and knot the thread to keep them from relaxing.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Fancy hangers. (French cleats.)

Fancy hangers. (French cleats.)

I found the horizontal center of the wall where the headboard would hang and marked off with tape the general outline of the headboard. I then measured down from the top of the imaginary headboard to place the wall piece of the cleat.

I found the horizontal center of the wall where the headboard would hang and marked off with tape the general outline of the headboard. I then measured down from the top of the imaginary headboard to place the wall piece of the cleat.

It even has a handy-dandy level bubble that slides into a groove.

It even has a handy-dandy level bubble that slides into a groove.

Place the other piece of the cleat on the back of the headboard and then slide it into place. So easy!

Place the other piece of the cleat on the back of the headboard and then slide it into place. So easy!

6/20/15

June 20, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

Wow, it’s been a while since my last post. Things are going well I guess. The kids are out of school, kinda. (Kristen managed to pass all her classes by the hair of her chinny-chin-chin.) Travis is in summer school, aka Summer Intervention Program, though he missed most of this last week because he was sick. Just one more week, then he’s done. The girls are with their dad for the next ten days for Father’s Day and his birthday.

Father’s Day… It’s another rough time for me. My relationship with my dad is pretty much non-existent, so I feel a lot of loss there. (I was invited to his birthday dinner last month [after not seeing him for…years] with my brother and his wife and it was the ultimate non-event. No great revelations. No reunion. Just dinner. And heartbreak.) And I feel loss for Travis because his dad is no longer here. I took the girls shopping for Father’s Day cards for their dad and it hurt to look at the cards, so I quit looking at cards. The boyfriend is such a good guy and very much wants to be a dad for Travis, but it’s just not time yet. I can’t explain why. It just doesn’t feel right yet. So there’s not much to celebrate.

I’ll meet the boyfriend’s parents soon. I don’t know why that terrifies me, but it does. I’m not great at small-talk. I don’t keep up with current events. I’d love to be charming and likeable, but I’m a tattooed, pro-choice, pseudo-Republican, atheist, potty-mouthed widow who is afraid of appearing stupid. Certainly I can’t screw up too much in the course of one dinner, right? Right?

Maybe we’ll go to the park and shoot rockets tomorrow. That sounds like fun.

47th

May 3, 2015 in Lymphoma by Reta Reed

It’s certainly not a manly cake, but there’s love in every crumb. Happy Birthday, Jeff.

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