Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This is How We Party!

We have a whole week off school and work, and our tax refund came in, so you know what that means/ right?

Yep, time to hit the honey do list!

A few things got done before Spring Break. The ceilings have been bare drywall for the past 50 years (No, really. 50 years.) Now they are taped, mudded, textured, and painted.

The floor got textured, too. 

Fortunately, the floor was the next project.



With a little artwork in between:

Now for the 'fun' project, the one we kept saying needs to be done, but which we knew was going to take more than a day, so we hadn't actually started it. There is a fantastic shop built into the house, about 12 feet wide and running the entire length of the house (a little over 50 feet). 

Unfortunately, the ceiling under that black plastic looks like this all the way through:

which means everything inside has been getting rained on for years. And there was a LOT of stuff in there. This is after I had already spent a day and a half pulling things out (I never remember to take 'before' pictures!):

But there are treasures!

Those were inside this:

Yes, a beautiful wood burning cook stove. That can stay where it is!

We rented this to help with the rest of it, which took much of the week to sort through:

While Mike tore the old roof off, I tackled an old shed elsewhere on the property. Unfortunately, some weather damage in there also, but there were more treasures:

Brian is now a married father of two. And still has lousy handwriting.

Canning jars! On the first day alone, I disinfected 197. 

My hands are TRASHED. I disinfected in bleach water, and everything I did all week meant frequent hand washing. I think my hands are rough enough to use as sandpaper, should I get around to refinishing the dining room table.

Meanwhile, back in the shop...look, plenty of natural lighting!

And new floor joists, at a slight angle to run water away from the house.

Next day, decking:

which will soon be covered in metal. For now they will be re-covered in plastic, but that should be enough to prevent leaks. Let the clean-up continue!

Once the new roof was up (and that part was all Mike!) I could start clearing off the shelves. I decided to freshen up and re-seal with old paint.

More treasures! 

Finally, ready to fill back up again!

A coat of fresh paint outside, too:

Now, to figure out where all of this is going to go., before it rains again...

We also did a few smaller projects, like putting flooring down in the upstairs hall:

Partway through (again, forgot to take 'before' pictures):

Blurry cat head not part of project.


New source of entertainment: watching the dogs take that corner to the bedroom each night.

We finished turning the old shed into a chicken coop, and moved our six ladies over from Grandma's house.

I also dug some irrigation ditches, painted the outside porch area, spent a day freezer cooking, and got everyone to a scout trip, a birthday party, and a Fire Department Auxiliary meeting. And 5 out of seven of us got sick at one point or another. Happy to be back at work this week, where I can REST!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fairy House (kid brag)

While Mike and I worked on home repairs (post coming) all last week, Sheridan and Logan came up with a project of their own. They spent three solid days on it. I have never seen them cooperate for that long before!

A very special young lady was turning ten Saturday, and I had already gone out and purchased a gift. She loves fairies, though, and the kids got it into their heads that she needed a fairy house. They asked me for a box, and I gave them some leftover blue paint and free run of the craft materials.

This was all them! I didn't give them any direction or ideas, they just looked at what they had available, and thought things up. The only assistance I gave was cutting the door and window holes at their direction. Here is the finished product:

Fairies need glitter!

Of course, they had to make furniture, too.

Sheridan had sewn pillows for both beds (adult and baby sized!), but the cats stole them, and we can't find them anywhere! Pom-poms worked just as well. And then we locked the house in a closet.

Table and chairs:

Even artwork on the walls:

Of course, they need books to read, too!

This one is titled "The Little Fairy". The Gingerbread Man gets a cameo too! The birthday girl seemed to like it, and her little brother was seen playing with it few minutes later. Hopefully her parents will forgive the glitter some day...

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review: The Family with Two Front Doors by Anna Ciddor


Meet the Rabinovitches: mischievous Yakov, bubbly Nomi, rebellious Miriam, solemn Shlomo, and seven more! Papa is a rabbi and their days are full of intriguing Jewish rituals and lots of adventures in 1920s Poland. But the biggest adventure of all is when big sister Adina is told she is to be married at the age of fifteen—to someone she has never met.

Reading this immediately put me in mind of the All-of-a-Kind Family books. Light, family-oriented stories perfectly suited to patrons asking for "wholesome" books, in which the major tension happens when the challa bread is dropped on the floor before baking. No sex, no drugs, no political upheaval.

Of course, there is the custom of arranged marriages, which may horrify some. I look at the whole book as a window into a different culture, not a promotion or condemnation either way, just a simple fact of this-is-how-it-was (and still is for some). Even as the customs of a traditionally observant orthodox Jewish family may be foreign, the feeling of finally being deemed old enough to help with an adult task is universal. (And the establishment of the groom's character is done very sweetly, in my opinion.)

The entire book is based on the stories of Ciddor's grandmother's childhood, and every main character quickly becomes distinct in the reader's mind. I am hopeful that there will be more stories to come (although the author's afterward tells us they won't be forthcoming from some quarters - skip that if you want to stick with the happy ending.)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: Without Refuge by Jane Mitchell


Thirteen-year-old Ghalib wishes his life could go back to normal. He wishes he could still hang out at the market with his friends, root for his favorite soccer team, even go to school. But civil war has destroyed his home.

As violence rages around them, his family makes the difficult choice to flee Syria. Together they start out on a dangerous journey toward Europe. Along the way, they encounter closely guarded borders, hardscrabble refugee camps, and an ocean crossing that they may not survive.

This is the title I would recommend to any upper elementary/middle grade student who is just starting to be aware of the conflicts and refugee crises going on around the world. Striking a delicate balance between not being too gory or frightening but not whitewashing the issues, Without Refuge can help answer some of the questions so many people (kids and adults) ask. Why don't people just leave? Why do they have to go here or there? Why do they take this risk or that?

Mitchell manages to include many different aspects of the refugees' journey, while showing that the refugees themselves are all distinct individuals, with individual choices to make. The story begins with Ghalib being a very normal young teenage boy in the middle of a life most American children cannot begin to imagine. I imagine most 13 year old boys will be able to see themselves in him, making a connection that will hopefully help them stay in his shoes as the journey becomes more and more foreign to them.

An excellent addition to any elementary or middle school library, with plenty of talking points to make it a great book study!