Sunday, June 29, 2008

There's a Garden in there Somewhere!

Somewhere, amidst the knee-high weeds, there really is a garden... somewhere.... right?!!

We got back from vacation to find the weeds already taking over. Then, between the late start, working, and motorcycle class, we're about 3 weeks behind on weeding the garden. I've gotten the peas untangled from the non-peas. The peppers and most of the tomatoes are free of weeds. There are about 3 rows of corn still lost somewhere in there, and about half the rows of green beans are being taken over. The watermelon, pumpkin, and cucumber plants are sweetly nestled among the maple tree forest growing where a garden should be.

We definitely have our work cut out for us if we intend to reclaim our vegetables!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Whoa... Life Got Crazy!!

Ok, so things got a little away from me here! Between working and riding and being a wife and mom and church and... and... and... I sorta let this blog slide a little. This is still better than my other blog about my son, to which I haven't posted in.... oh.... months?! Gotta work on that! Poor kid...

Honestly, though, I've been working really hard to stay caught up around the house now that I'm working 3 days a week. The laundry seems to take on a life of its own. I think it breeds down there in the basement. I swear, how can 3 people wear that many clothes in a week? For real?! I have gotten the kitchen cleaned all but one day this week, and I even cooked dinner a few times this week! (Ok, ok, scrape your jaws off the keyboards now... you're just embarrassing yourselves! I am capable of cooking! I'm working on dinner right now! Ok, maybe not right NOW, but the meat is thawing in the microwave as I type this, and I know what I'm going to do. Its a start, right?!) I've not been known to always have a tidy house, so this is a big push. As a matter of fact, I realized today that I think I have a new condition--I am domestically challenged! Anyone who has seen my house can attest to that. But I'm getting better. Really, I am. :-)

At work, I'm trying to squeeze 40 hours of work into 21 hours a week. Its not going so well, as you might imagine. Of course, it doesn't help that the person I'm replacing (who has been training me) has been gone for 2 out of the past 3 weeks... :-) Talk about being ODF! (Out Der Flappin' for those not fluent in southern-speak)

And now I'm working on my first real order for my custom window covering business. I have 9 relaxed roman shades due in a week and a half. I don't have them done yet. I have a lot of sewing to get done in a short time! Ohhh... speaking of which... dinner and sewing! Gotta run! :-)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heading out for my first ride...

Went to the license branch today and had the motorcycle classification added to my license. The Boy is down for his nap and I have a babysitter coming to sit with him. So I will be free for a couple hours to ride!! I'm really looking forward to this. :-)

Friday, June 13, 2008

I love motorcycles!!!!

Had another class last night. Wow!! The more I ride, the more I want to ride. I know that probably sounds like crazy talk to anyone who doesn't ride... but I also know that those people out there who do ride know exactly what I'm talking about!

Last night we were practicing cornering, sharp curves, swerving, going over objects, and stuff like that. It was such a blast. One exercise, we had to make a 90 degree corner, speed up, then slow and make a 130 degree curve. It was just exhilarating, being so in control of the bike that when I went around the sharp curve, I was hitting exactly where I intended to go. It sounds like bragging, but I really am one of the better riders in the class! (At least according to what the teachers are teaching--several of the guys have a lot more road experience, which definitely gives them an edge.)

Anyway, we are definitely going to end up with a bigger bike once we can afford it. Let the countdown begin! :-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Class, Another Spill

Tonight was another motorcycle class night. Wow, I'm totally getting addicted to riding! We had one exercise where we were actually in 3rd gear, engine braking (shifting down to 2nd to slow down), going around a 180-degree curve while shifting back up to 3rd, and repeating that process! We were getting some speed. It was GREAT!! In another exercise, we had to accelerate into 2nd gear, then stop suddenly without skidding. I was up first and wasn't so sure about it, but it turned out to be one of the best exercises of the night! A third exercise involved turning very tight turns at a very slow speed using a technique called counter-balancing (putting your weight on the outside of the bike while it is turning). I'm not so great at that one, so I'll need to practice. But I can definitely understand how this can become a habit.

We had two spills in class tonight. One, the guy had his wrist too high, so when he tried to brake, he was also opening the throttle. He lost control and slid across the pavement a ways. Luckily, he was ok. The bike, not so much! Then the lady who dropped the bike last class took another spill. This one was very controlled, from what I hear, and she even had the presence of mind to shut down the engine before she let go! She told us her goal for next class is to not drop the bike... LOL

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vroom, Vrooooooom!!

Long before I knew about my new job at Cat, a dear friend and I had signed up to take a motorcycle safety class through one of the local colleges here. The class is $20, and you get 20 hours of instruction both in the classroom and on a motorcycle, spread out over 5 nights--4 hours per night. My class is Tues and Thurs evenings. They even provide motorcycles there! (Which makes sense if you think about it--we're all taking the class to get our motorcycle classification on our licenses, so to drive our own motorcycles there would be illegal!)

Last Tuesday was my first night of class. I rushed out of work to pick up the Boy from the babysitter, then rushed back into town to switch cars with Hubby. He ended up meeting us at the school. (By the time I got home, the Boy was sound asleep... that's really hard for me!) My friend and I walked into class together, and you could see the speculation on the faces of all the guys there. However, my friend ended up not getting to take the class, as she had to go out of town for work one of the class days and would be late to class. Apparently that's just not ok. :( We were both pretty sad about that.

There are twelve people in the class. The first night was all classroom instruction, and our teacher split the class into three groups of four students. I ended up in a group with three college-aged guys who all went to high school together. The teacher named us "Tammy's Angels." I feel like a den mother! They are great kids, but they are most definitely in a different time of their lives. When we went over the drinking and riding portion of the class, I just wanted to shake them and make sure they were listening!! I didn't, of course, but I really wanted to. Anyway, one of them has already taken the class and is just along for the ride to watch his buddies. Another has had a bike for 2 years but has never gotten his motorcycle classification on his license and has been pulled over too many times without it. The third one has never ridden. Its an interesting mix!

Thursday night was our first night riding. I have to say, I'm quite proud of myself!! I was getting pretty good by the end of the night! And my Angels were so relieved that I wasn't the one who dropped the bike the first night. Another woman (there are only 3 of us out of 12) in the class had that honor. They almost asked her to drop out of the class, but she stuck with it and was riding pretty well by the end of the class, herself! We have such a great group of people with a HUGE range of riding skills. Its a lot of fun! I can definitely see why people do this all the time!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 3)

Wednesday morning we awoke to a gorgeous day. The weather was forecasted to be just about perfect--sunny and 80's. Hubby and I decided to try our hand at some bass fishing. He collected some shad from the shore with a net, and we used that as bait. We caught nothing. But I ended up with a shad with the personality of a much larger fish. That little guy (I named him Lou) swam all over that lake! He didn't seem to be affected by the very large hook pushing through his jaw and out his nose. He just kept swimming!! We dragged him from place to place, looking for the bass, and he just kept swimming! We dragged him back to our campsite, and he just kept swimming! So we stuck the pole between some rocks and left him out there to see if anything would be tempted by him. And he just kept swimming!!

Meanwhile, we had left the Boy with Nana and Gramps. We were mostly in sight of our campsite the whole time we were out, and the Boy was having a blast! He drove his Power Wheels around and around and around for quite a while, and then when he was done with that, he started throwing rocks into the lake. He was quite proud of the splashes, plops, kerplunks, and other sounds he was making!

When we got back to our camp, I parked myself on the boat most of the rest of the day and fished. The bluegills were biting. And while reeling in a 1/2 lb bluegill doesn't even come close to the thrill of pulling in a 2 lb bass, the frequency with which I was catching fish made up for the difference! I went through several tubs of bee moths on my own. The Nana even came out and fished with me for a while. It was so relaxing!

During naptime, I ended up sitting at a picnic table, working on a Bible study and doing some other reading. We stayed in for lunch, making sandwiches. All in all, it was a very low-key day.

Sometime around dusk, I mentioned to Hubby that I thought we were probably going to have to set Lou free, as he was still out there swimming! About 30 seconds later (I am telling the truth here, I promise!) Lou's bobber went under the water! Hubby jumped out of the boat and raced to the pole, but by the time he got there, all that was left of Lou was his head. A turtle came by and decided he looked like a tasty snack, I guess. Poor Lou! I was pretty sad. But he was a bait fish, after all!

Gramps cooked us steaks on the grill, and Nana made baked potatoes. It was a nice meal to end a lovely day (aside from Lou getting eaten, of course). As the sun went down, I got the Boy settled in the tent, and a while later, Hubby and I joined him. It was nice to have a "normal" night in the tent!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Back to Work

As some of you may know, I have recently re-entered the workforce. About 3 weeks ago, I received a call from Caterpillar, asking if I would be interested in a part-time temporary position with Legal Services. (I worked in Legal Services for almost 2 years before Trey was born and left on good terms.) I interviewed for the job and was offered the position. I started work less than 2 weeks after I got the call.

I reported for Orientation Monday morning, bright and early. (Like, 7:30am... UGH!) When I walked in the entryway, there were several people waiting ahead of me to check in. Once I checked in and was sent down the hallway to the waiting area, I noticed that a few people ahead of me weren't in that room, but I didn't think much of it. After waiting for over half an hour, someone came and collected all of us who were waiting for orientation. She took us up to a room and told us to find our names at a seat. My name wasn't there. Turns out that was the full-time management orientation, and I was supposed to be at the part-time orientation that had started half an hour earlier. I guess they came and got the part-time people after the girls ahead of me checked in but before I got down to the waiting area. Great. Just great. I did get there in time to have my badge photo taken and to sit through Prohibited Harassment Awareness Training. Yippeee.

The next day I reported to work. Again, I was on time! My boss had told me to just come to our building and he'd meet me and take me upstairs. Only there were no security guards in the lobby of that building to let me in. So I reported to the next building over. But they wouldn't let me into the building, because no one had called to let them know to expect me. So on my first day of work, I was locked out of the building. They wouldn't even let me into the lobby where the chairs are. I was stuck in a glass foyer, or out on the sidewalk. My boss wasn't answering his phone. His assistant wasn't answering her phone. The Paralegal Manager wasn't answering her phone. I was out of ideas. So I called my good friend A, who came down to rescue me. But by the time she made it, I was in tears and the security guard was about to have a nervous breakdown. I just wanted to report for work. I was in the computer system. I had my badge identification number. I could show proof of my identity. But I couldn't get in the building. I was pretty frustrated.

After picking up my badge (so that I could enter and exit at my leisure), I got settled at my desk. The first project I was given was to make up file folders. I had about 60 folders to make, and each one required about 10 stickers. About 50 folders into the project, I realized that they had given me the wrong folders. No, I'm not kidding...

The next day, I got out the door, but I was running behind and was more than a little harried. About halfway to dropping off the Boy with his sitter, I realized I had left my badge at home. Without my badge, I wouldn't be able to get into the parking lot or the building. I don't think I could have handled that again. So I dropped him off and turned around for home. When I pulled into the driveway, I saw that I had left the front door of the house wide open. Really, its a good thing I had to come back, right?

I had serious thoughts about hanging up my hat after the first week... :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 2)

Wednesday morning, after we thawed ourselves out, the day turned out to be pretty nice. Our campsite was surrounded on 3 sides by water. The rocks on the shore make for great spawning beds. On one side, we had shad. On the other we had bluegills. We weren't much interested in the shad, but we had fun catching the bluegills! Trey and Dada went out on the boat and fished for quite a while. Nana Grape (Hubby's grandma) came over to the campsite and was really tickled to see the next generation of fisherman emerging in our son.

We met up for lunch again at the restaurant, and afterwards boated over to Hubby's aunt and uncle's new house on the lake. They will be retiring there in September. It is a really cute little cottage-type house with the most gorgeous porch! They have a dock, a large garage, and an area where Nana and Gramps can park their RV when they come to visit. It is really beautiful. Before we left, I ended up inviting everyone over for a cookout. Hubby had brought 7 1/2 lbs of hamburger with us, and there's no way Nana, Gramps, Hubby, The Boy, and I would eat that much on our own. After the (delicious) burgers, we had s'mores over the campfire. Oh man, they were good!! Even Nana Grape had to have one!

Sometime that afternoon/evening, we were informed that we would be sleeping in the RV with the Nana and Gramps that night, as the temperatures were supposed to drop to the 40's again that night. Fine by me! I don't ever want to be that cold again. Ever! It wasn't exactly the most comfortable setting, and Trey rolled off the couch at one point, but we were warm and dry. It could have been a heck of a lot worse!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 1 Con't)

I told you about our boating adventures our first day at the campground. When we finally got back to our campsite, Hubby and The Boy went to the tent to take a nap. About that time, the weather turned bad. Really bad. Like, sheets of water and wind slamming into the RV bad. Like MIL and I watching out the window to make sure the tent was still there and the boys weren't floating away on the air mattress bad. Like park rangers coming around with sirens and flashing lights announcing a flash flood warning bad. Did I mention the weather was a little rough? :)

Turns out the cell that went over us was reported to have gusts of wind up to 60 mph. The wind was driving the rain through the zippers of the tent (which Hubby had completely closed up) and under the rain tarp to fall through the ceiling. There were puddles of water in all of the corners, and one side of the air mattress was soaked. The boys emerged from naptime rather soggy.

We knew the temperature was supposed to drop that night, but I had packed lots of blankets and we figured we'd be ok. What we didn't realize until we were crawling into bed is that the bag containing all of our bedding was sitting in a puddle. A few of the blankets were ok, but the big blanket I had brought to cover all of us was wet. Too wet to use. So we were left with a sheet and a couple lap blankets. Some time after midnight I woke up, almost frozen. Hubby was awake and cold as well. The Boy was sound asleep, snuggled between us. Hubby and I shivered and shook and dozed the rest of the night. At one point, I dreamed that the three of us were frozen to the air mattress by our blankets. Every gust of wind through the tent was like being pierced by icicles. It was cold. By morning, we were popsicles. The Boy even said that he was cold overnight, though if he had woken up at any point, we would have taken him to the RV.

It made for a long, long night!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sandy places

Have you ever found yourself getting involved in a situation that you know, in the back of your mind, will get you in trouble, yet you do it anyway, trying to help? Some days I just forget that there are mean, petty people in the world. I guess I stick my head in the sand and ignore the fact that there are people out there who really don't like me. Which is fine, most of the time. But from my hidey-hole on the beach, its hard to remember those people are out to get me when I do try to help them. What other reason would a person have for complaining that I notified our church that her little newborn son was in the hospital, when she herself was trying to reach someone from the church and couldn't? She obviously doesn't care that the church knew--or knew at least part of the information. But she obviously does care that I was involved. I just don't get it. Really. It makes me want to bury myself deeper in the sand and never come out.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Boats and Bugs and Tents, Oh My! (Day 1)

Twice a year, my husband's family journeys to a place in southern Indiana to camp and fish. The last time we met up with them was two years ago, when our boy was not quite one. Last week we journeyed out to see them. We had a fun time, but it certainly wasn't without... how shall I explain this... adventure!

We left Tuesday morning, about 5:30am. (Yup, I was actually up, dressed, and out the door, complete with everything we needed to camp out for the week, by 5:30am! My hubby almost fell over.) The drive took about 5 hours, which isn't too bad unless you have an almost-3-year-old in the car. Then it gets a little hairy. The little guy was pretty good, though, when you consider how long he was strapped into that carseat. He even told us when he needed to poop! We had a setup so that he could watch movies if he got really bad, but we never had to pull it out. Personally, I was impressed. Its not exactly easy for an adult to sit still that long. A little guy like him? Almost impossible.

We got to the campsite before lunch, so we started unpacking. We pitched our tent underneath two trees on a point of land about 10 feet from the water. It was a gorgeous site! We got everything all set up so that when we got back after lunch, the hubby and the boy could lay down for a nap.

Lunch itself was relatively uneventful--we met up with the whole group... the in-laws, hubby's aunt and uncle, hubby's grandma, and a couple who comes down with the aunt and uncle every trip. The boy traveled to the restaurant with Nana and Gramps (the in-laws) on their golf cart. Hubby and I took our boat, as the restaurant is right on the water and has a dock. When I stepped onto the boat, I noticed standing water INSIDE the boat. Concerned, I pointed it out to hubby (not that he really could have missed it!). We weren't sure exactly what had happened, but we were relatively certain it had something to do with the "repair" hubby had done on the bilge pump.

See, back at home hubby had been concerned that the bilge pump wasn't working. After finally locating the pump and figuring out how to remove it (that took quite a while of reaching into a small, dark spot inside the boat before he realized there was a clip holding the pump in place... once he moved that clip, the pump came right out!), he realized two things: 1) the motor was burned out and there was no place open to purcahse a replacement motor at that point before we left for the trip; and 2) the amp for that pump was burned out and required a special amp. Let the Macgyver-style rigging begin!

Our boat has 3 identical pumps for 3 different uses--a bilge pump, to remove water from inside the hull of the boat; an aerator pump, to pull water from outside the boat into the live-well; and a recirc pump, to move the water in the live-well around so the fish in there don't end up belly-up prematurely. The aerator and bilge pumps are pretty close to one another. The aerator pump was working just fine. The bilge pump was not. We can use a bucket to put water into the live-well, but there's no way to remove water from inside the boat without a bilge. So hubby removed the bilge pump and replaced it with the aerator pump. No biggie. Except the aerator pump in its proper spot provides back pressure on the hose it uses to pull water into the live-well. With the aerator pump in the bilge position and nothing in the aerator position, water was free-flowing into the hull. That's a problem...

Hubby plugged what he thought was the proper hole to keep water from coming in, and we started pumping out the water in the boat. When we got some of it out, we decided to go ahead and start for the restaurant, thinking the motion would help clear out the water and the motor would charge the battery to run the bilge. My fingers were almost in the water when I rested my hand on the side of the boat. When we finished lunch and returned to the boat, there was more water. Hubby had plugged the wrong hole! So he and his uncle removed the recirc pump and put it in the aerator spot, which stopped the water from coming in. We then pumped out the water inside the boat. On the way back to our campsite, my hand was a good 7 or 8 inches out of the water, but we were still sitting looooooooow! Hubby's mom thought we weren't going to make it when she saw us plowing water!

So as it turns out now, the bilge button does nothing. To run the bilge, you have to turn on the aerator switch. To run the aerator, you have to turn on the recirc switch. And if you want to run the recirc, you're just out of luck!

Hubby is planning to get a new pump and put everything back in its proper place before we take the boat out again. Thank goodness!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Civic Car!

We picked up our new car a little over a week ago. We ended up with a 2008 silver Honda Civic EX. It is a really fun car. We weren't sure (ok, I wasn't sure) about driving something that small. I mean, I started my driving career with a Pontiac Sundance, but ever since then, I've driven big cars. I had a Chevy S-10, then a Ford F150 extended cab, then the Durango, then the Jeep. Now a Civic. Its small. But the interior is surprisingly roomy! (Man, I sound like a cheesy commercial!)

Really, though, its a pretty comfortable car. And with the sunroof, power windows, power locks, power seat, cruise control... it is a HUGE step up! Even as I step down into the car... :)

Gardening

This spring we broke ground for a garden. We planted 7 rows of corn, 6 rows of green beans, 2 rows of sugar snap peas, watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, around 60 onions, 12 tomato plants, and 8 pepper plants. It is a pretty big garden. Since we planted a few weeks ago, nothing much has been happening. Then we went away for a few days...

When we returned, I was amazed to see how much the garden had changed. Yes, there were (and still are) weeds, but the plants!! It is so exciting to see those little sprouts pushing up through the soil, struggling to come out into the light. It really makes me happy to know I had a hand in helping that happen. So even as I toiled over the garden yesterday, pulling weeds and pushing those silly little helicopter things (seeds from maple trees) off of the rows, my soul was bursting with joy to see each tiny little green sprout!