Saturday, January 30, 2010


I'm always a day or a week late to the party over at Funky Junk. She recently did a take-your-blogging-buddies-to-work post. That was fun. While most of us will never get to paint a firetruck as she did, at least some of us will get to dress like a fireman at work. Nananabooboo.  Is that how you spell that?
When I am not cooperating with the training on the highly-technical sprinkler system, I can be found right in the middle of the mess below.   It actually does look worse in pictures.  I should have tidied up first.  Let me just say that I am highly productive most of the time at this desk.  And every now and then, it slows down enough for me to organize it.  It hasn't been now and then for a long time though.  Actually I have two desks to keep neat at this time. 
Oh, you can see the second desk right there past the three filing cabinets.  I can just roll in my chair back and forth, back and forth.  Fun.
desk area
Even in the chaos or should I say especially in the chaos, I must have my happy places.  One is in my rolodex.  It is a very happy place for me.  Not only does it contain everything I need to know at my fingertips, it also makes me smile.  That is important at my job.
rolodex 3
Anytime I am bored--which is never--I can just flip through and find a great thought or quote.  I can also find the number for the fire department--just in case the sprinkler training does not pan out.
There is also something fun and comforting about running my mouse all over the faces of my grandchildren and daughter.
And what would a home away from home be without a potted plant and a famous bird?  Nothing, I say.
And finally, this about sums up my attitude when visitors come by asking for something. 
pitch a fit
Oh, and one more thing that is plentiful around my place of employment--kids, lots of them--even right there under my feet.


You might have noticed that there are a lot more before photos on my blog than after.  There is a good reason for this.  It is because I am married to a man with ADHD.  Seriously.  I kid you not.  And as funny as this post may turn out to be, sometimes it is just not that funny in real life.

There was a time when I wondered what made someone think like my husband does  or more importantly, do the things he does in the order in which he does them--or not.  There was a time--not so long ago--that I  took the things he said and did way too personally.  That was before I read the book, Driven to Distraction.

Now that I know for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he does, in fact, cope with this disorder every minute of every day, I am nicer to him.  I think.  At least I try to be.  I am telling you that it is not always easy. 

For instance, last Sunday, Michael and I were having a conversation.  That in itself is rare because of our schedules and his disorder--I didn't call it that, it just is.  He mentioned that "one of these days" he was going to build a shed in the backyard.   He was going to build a shed because he is going to turn the garage into an apartment.  Note here that there already is a vacant apartment above the garage that is in need of some work.  The *new* me showed a small amount of interest--not really excited about it and not really against it.  I know the effect of both extremes.  I was trying to keep the conversation going while keeping my *real* opinions to myself.  As if he didn't already know them.

When we were finished talking about the shed that would *someday* be built in the backyard, I understood *someday* to mean when he had all the materials (which we can't afford right now) and the jobs that were already started around the house were completed (ceiling, bathroom, hole in wall, the rest of the shutters, etc.). 

On Monday, I came home from school to this:
shed framed
This is exactly what ADHD looks like.  I hope you are laughing.  I think it will help me if you do.  I am told that these walls have been built for some time and stored in his shop around the corner.  He knew very well that *someday* would be sooner than I thought.  And therein lies the frustration.  Throughout the entire conversation, he knew the walls were already built.  That would be because he had built them--instead of finishing the ceiling or bathroom or hole in the wall or whatever else he had started.

And that is just the way it is.

Day in and day out.

Year in and year out.

And hear me when I say that I know that it is not personal--even when it feels that way.

 I am not a professional and cannot begin to explain the disorder the way the authors of Driven to Distraction do, so get the book if you live with or know someone who copes with this.  It is chock full of personal stories and insights that will help you cope with it as well. What I can do, though, is share some of my personal experiences in hopes of encouraging others to make an attempt to understand it better.

lawn mower in snow
I want you to know that I did not get mad or even upset on Monday when I saw the new construction started at my house.  I actually laughed and grabbed my camera.  To me it is just one more confirmation of the diagnosis.  And that diagnosis is no worse than diabetes or near-sightedness or high blood pressure.  They all require something to help the person survive and thrive in this world.  They are conditions or disorders--but unfortunately, the last three are more scientifically understood and therefore more respectable and able to evoke understanding and compassion.

I intend to tell just a few personal stories about living with ADHD over the next few weeks, but today I want to start at the beginning. 

I have often wondered why God called me to work at Cornerstone Academy.  I had been a stay-at-home mom and was not really looking for or wanting a job outside of the home.  I had homeschooled for 14 years and would have been quite content to do so until Tessa had graduated.   While I do believe I am appreciated and needed at the school, I honestly think that one of the main reasons God called me there was to show me  what my husband's world looks like through the life of a little girl.  I will from here on out refer to her as LG for little girl, and  although I may include random photos of the students for interest, she will remain anonymous. 
I knew LG before she came to the school, and I genuinely liked her.  You might say that I had a soft spot for her.  She was just a little girl--with a sweet face and a big smile.  Yes, I knew her reputation: impulsive and energetic and talkative.  So?  To me that made her interesting.  Of course, I had never seen her in a school setting.  I really didn't have any idea.  It was a good thing, because I loved her before I knew what she was capable of or incapable of as it turned out to be. And I loved her family as well.

LG motivated me to research ADHD--a disorder that up to this time I kind of pooh-poohed.  After watching her struggle and witnessing what  were very appropriate consequences again and again for her actions, my heart broke.  They rarely helped the situation or changed the behavior.  I wanted her to succeed, and I made it my personal mission to help her succeed.  In doing the research, first online and then through books like Driven to Distraction, I unlocked the mystery of my own family.  It was quite clear to me after just the short online test, that my husband had severe ADHD and my son, ADD.   Yes, I know that an online test is not a professional diagnosis, but stick with me.  My son actually was ecstatic to learn that just maybe there was an explanation to why he had focus issues.  If I had only known sooner, perhaps I would not have taken all his resistance in high school so personally.  But that is another story.   
What God revealed to me through the process with LG was that at one time my husband was just a little boy with a sweet face and a big smile.    At one time he was just a little boy who was impulsive, energetic, and talkative--a little boy who deserved to be understood and loved.   He didn't understand why he did the things he did any more than LG understood why she did what she did--again and again.  And that changed the way I looked at him as an adult.

In the case of LG, I took a big risk when I approached her mother with the information that I had learned.  Armed with just one quote from the book, I prayerfully, presented my case in hopes of encouraging her to get LG whatever she needed to succeed--eyeglasses so to speak.

"They don't inhibit their impulses as well as other people.  They lack the little pause between impulse and action that allows most people to be able to stop and think."
In her mother's defense should you be inclined to judge, she had been told by *professionals* that LG's problems were discipline-related.  Don't get me going on that one.  Discipline was being consistently applied, and it was not working.  All were miserable--including me, and she wasn't even my child.  Let me just say that you cannot spank ADHD out of a child.  You cannot time-out ADHD.  You cannot withhold anything that will make ADHD disappear.  You just can't.  Yes, I know I'm not a professional.
I also shared a specific incident with her mother that I had witnessed, and I encouraged her to read more and seek  another professional  evaluationShe agreed to read and pray about it.  I will include the incident here just to show you what I am talking about.  I was observing a class in which the teacher was having the students glue beans to a surface.  She explained what they were going to be doing and then specifically told them what they were not to do with the beans.  LG was engaged in the activity and was enjoying herself.  This was, after all, a hands-on project that would normally appeal to a person with ADHD.  Out of nowhere and unprovoked in any way, LG picked up a bean and threw it in the direction of the teacher.

Since I was nearby, I asked her with my eyes about bugging out of my head, "What were you thinking?"  To which she replied, "I don't know."  She looked as shocked as the rest of us.  And I do believe it was totally  sincere.  The thought went through her mind after the teacher said it, and then--lacking the pause between the impulse and the action--she threw the bean.
County Fair 017
Imagine how a child feels when she receives a consequence for something that she doesn't have any control over.  Imagine how you would feel.  I go back to the eyeglasses.  Why do we think it is okay to give a child with vision problems the tools for success, but we don't give the child with attention and focus problems the tools for her success?  Can you tell this is my bandwagon?

Let me wrap this up by telling you how the story ends for LG.  Mom and dad took her to another professional and received an official diagnosis.  It was difficult--very difficult.  It was also freeing.  I cry as I write this because today, LG is experiencing greater success because she has been  given the tools she needs for that success. And when she struggles, the first question isn't what consequence should we give, but are we sure she has what she needs to succeed in the situation.  That does not mean that she doesn't misbehave; she is, after all, still a child in need of much training.  It does mean that she is no longer punished for her disorder.  And that is reason enough for me to rejoice in my calling to Cornerstone.


It snowed in East Tennessee today--not a lot, really--but more than it has in about seven or eight years. You would have thought by the news coverage that we were preparing for a natural disaster. I know, I know, it's the way it is done in the south. I can still laugh, can't I?

I love snow, by the way.

Because it doesn't snow here much, we don't invest in *proper* outerwear.  By proper, I mean outerwear that actually coordinates.  The boys are not all that happy about having to wear Tessa's hand-me-downs.  And I think that Tessa has on my boots and Kelly's pants and gloves.  It's all good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Because you asked--and only because you asked--I will tell the abbreviated story of our move to Tennessee.  The year was 1998--the year my first born would get married and my second born would  graduate from high school and my third born would turn ten and my baby would turn two.  And it would be the year that the chatter about Y2K would reach my ears.  But more importantly, it will forever be the year that God led us out of the wilderness into the promised land.  I can't believe I just wrote that.  It didn't really *look* like the promised land at the time.

Sometimes the opportunity to be courageous and adventuresome is thrust at you whether you want it or not.  But sometimes it is the result of a decision to not walk in fear, but to walk by faith and not by sight.   Y2K did not panic us or make us fearful.  It gave us a reason to chase a dream, to try something risky, to learn something new.  I do believe that all those years of watching Cinderella had its affect as well, and quite honestly,  I was not about to be caught with my coach turning into a pumpkin when the clock struck midnight.  So, like many others, I stashed away some supplies and learned a few new skills--which I have never regretted even though  my coach did not, in fact, turn into a pumpkin. 

I hated did not prefer living in Florida.  Terrible circumstances, that I will not write about at this time or probably ever, led us to the wilderness of the south.  And while I know that our time there was part of God's plan, I was more than happy to move on when our 40 years time was up.   And in 1998, our time was up.

What appealed to me about the Y2K chatter was the idea of eliminating debt and living in the country and simplifying.  I was a homeschool mom feasting on books like Little House in the Big Woods and Heidi and The Girl of the Limberlost.  And I wanted to hike the mountains and grow the beans and catch  luna moths with my children.  And not in the Florida heat.

I made friends with other like-minded friends on the Internet--this was way before blog world.  We got to know each other on message boards with no photos.  What folks looked like and how they really lived was left to your imagination.  And this is where my Tennessee story really begins.

A movie that my family and I had feasted on until we could practically recite it word for word was Anne of Green Gables.  If you are familiar with it, then the picture I'm about to paint for you will make sense.  Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are brother and sister.  They never married, are older, and live together in a lovely home, Green Gables.  They are proper kind of folks with a charming home on beautiful property.  You have the picture, right?  Hang onto it.

Okay, so I hook up with this couple (brother and sister) on a homesteading message board.  Let's just call them by their names so I don't confuse you.  Oh, that's right, they shared a name--you know, trying to stay anonymous and all.   It was The Survivors.  I learn that they are older and living together in the mountains of East Tennessee.  Wow!  I had visited the mountains of East Tennessee and was quite fond of them.  In fact, if I could have picked a place to move to, it might have been the mountains of East Tennessee.  There was only one problem.  There is always that one problem.  It is called money.  Wherever we were going to move to had to be within our budget--our cash budget.  And I doubted it was going to be found in East Tennessee. 

If you remember, we moved to Florida after something dreadful.  That something dreadful affected our finances a bit, so we were not going to have oodles to spend on this new home in the country.  We first looked at property in West Virginia.  It was definitely not it.  So the invitation was extended by Matthew and Marilla The Survivors to visit East Tennessee.  They assured us that beautiful land was available within our budget. 

I can't believe I convinced my husband to actually do it, but just days after our daughter's wedding and the selling of our Florida home, we were headed to meet The Survivors in East Tennessee.  We hooked up a 28-foot camper to the back of our Suburban and headed off into the sunset.  We were actually homeless at this point so the stakes were pretty high.  Twelve years later it sounds more crazy to me than ever.  For those of you who care to know, I do believe I was walking as closely to the Lord as I ever have.  Really.  He was leading me. I have my prayer journals to prove it.

Imagine the feeling in my gut as we traveled across the mountain--I mean a real mountain with windy roads with no shoulder and very steep, one-way cliffs in which to fall off of to your death for sure.  Oh, the looks from my husband and sons.  Thank goodness Tessa was too little to realize the danger.  The only thing that kept me going was the thought of Matthew and Marilla The Survivors greeting us with a glass of iced tea and a big southern smile.  I imagined their sweeping porch with rocking chairs and potted mums.

I'm going to cut to the chase because this is turning into a novel.  I'd love a book deal, by the way.  Let me mention that this was before everyone had cell phones and digital cameras.  Olden days.  So we pull up to their house.  How I wish I had a photo.  How I wish I could have called my daughter, Kelly.  It was literally built into the side of an East Tennessee mountain.  The road was narrow and there was a river down below on the other side.  And we were in a Suburban with a 28-foot camper behind.  I thought my husband was going to shoot me.  Thank the good Lord that we had convictions about guns back then.  There was no big porch or even a place to park.  There was no sweet tea.  There was no Matthew and Marilla.

There was, however, Gail and Ed.  Just plain Gail and Ed, The Survivors.

One was an ex-hippie with a pony tail.  Don't let that bald head in front fool you.  And the other was-- interesting. They did, however, open up their home to us and even cooked up some venison and spinach for us to eat.  It was quite good in spite of the fact that I was feeling sick to my stomach having just brought almost my entire family to The Twilight Zone.  One thing that I forgot to mention is that another couple met us there as well, so, you see, I was not the only trusting, crazy person who hung out on that homestead board.  They were from the Washington, D.C. area--and normal and smart.  I ended up visiting them as well a year or so later, and Ann made lovely soap and spun wool--but that is another story. 

The Survivors were convinced that the government was out to get us.  They had stockpiled all kinds of stuff.  I mean boxes and boxes to the ceiling.  There is no point to going into all that, but suffice it to say, we were not really kindred spirits as Anne of Green Gables would say.

While trying to turn the camper around to park right smack up against the mountain, my husband blew out two tires.  And then the next morning the pipes froze.  And then the next morning I demanded that he take me off  of that mountain and back to civilization.  He did.  We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.  And I cried.  I was homeless.  My little girl was married.   And we might have to move in with the newlyweds.  It just couldn't have gotten any worse.   And my dear husband said not a word.  He didn't dare.  We eventually found a campground and hooked up with a realtor.  Her name was Sandra, and she was great.  Sandra lived a daring life.  She had faith for the impossible.  And she proved it by what she took us to see.

Just in the nick of time, she found the property on Speedwell Road for us and negotiated the deal.--the cash deal.  She also negotiated the cash deal five years later when we sold the property to the folks with the jaguar.  We loved Sandra.

We made the deal and returned to Florida where my husband deposited me and our two-year-old on the newlyweds' doorstep.  How awkward is that you ask?  Very.  He and our two sons then headed back to Tennessee to begin their first renovation project ever.  Oh boy, oh boy.  We had never really seen this type of construction before.  We had just spent twelve years in a brand new home in Florida where the building codes are ridiculous because of the hurricanes.  Before that we lived in Connecticut where the standards are also way above average.  It was shocking to say the least.  We were so stupid.

As I told you in a previous post, there was no central heat or air.  There were not even any real ceilings.  See those ceiling tiles?  On top of them was the insulation.  And how about that kitchen.  Did you even notice the light fixtures?  Did I tell you that one room was wallpapered with the daily newspaper?  I have to stop or I'm going to be ill.  What were we thinking?  It didn't matter because it was just going to be temporary.  We were going to build a log cabin.  That's right.
At this point, I think it finally hit him that we were in over out heads.
01-22-2010 09;50;51PM
There is so much more that I could tell, and so many pictures that I could post, and maybe I will another day.  I do want to end this post with some after photos. My guys tore out every wall and every ceiling and taught themselves how to put it back together again.  They learned how to frame and wire and install cabinets and hook up sinks.  We paid cash for everything and turned that shack into a charming home that served us well in spite of its substandard conditions for five years.

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

You can see the tail end of that saying which I stenciled on the wall in the photo below.  It was the first thing you saw when you walked in the door. 
We celebrated holidays and birthdays and life together in that house.  We homeschooled in that house, and I read to Tessa--a lot--in that house as she swung inside--because she could.  And I painted the OSB floors instead of putting down carpeting because we lived in the country with chickens and goats and horses and dirt--lots of dirt.  And we didn't worry about a thing.  We owed nobody and it felt good.
And when the spring came, I planted my first square-foot garden.  And I hung my clothes out to dry.  And I watched my older son build his first structure, a two-story garage/apartment.  And it was nicer--much nicer--than our house.  And I was so proud of him.  Today he is a licensed contractor.
And we built a well house/potting shed.  And I painted it happy like.
And we planted a butterfly garden.

And we did so much more, but I am tired and emotional, and it's time to quit.  If you've made it to the end, I thank you.  I hope you have enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.  It took courage for me to post this, but I'm glad I did it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

IT'S A . . . IT'S A . . . IT'S A . . .

It's about the cutest little thing I've ever seen.
Look at that face!
I don't know about you, but I can hardly stand it.
spring bird
I'm just loving this new spring bird of mine--which was made from the most darling summer dress I picked up at the GW Boutique. (That would be the Goodwill for those who do not know.) 
Anyway, I made this bird especially for the big event being held over at Funky Junk.  She now has over 1000 followers,  and has thrown a big ol' party to celebrate.   I  just want you to know that I was a groupie follower long before she hit the quadruple digits.  And that's because I've always been a big fan of funky and junky and anything that makes people say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  It only took me about three years and the viewing of about a gazillion blogs before I found *the* kindred spirit.  Not *a* kindred spirit; there are lots of those out there.  I mean *the* kindred spirit when it comes to the stuff that makes my heart skip a beat.  I mean l.o.v.e.  I mean f.u.n.k.y. and j.u.n.k. together.

Funky Junk Interiors' 1000 Followers Event

But let's face it, junk alone doesn't get you noticed like that.  If so, I'd have a thousand followers as well.  I am definitely not lacking in the junk department.  Donna has carved out her niche in blog world with her SNS event each weekend and her ability to make visitors and participates feel welcome, while giving them  a platform to showcase their creativity.  I just love that girl!

So, if you are here from Donna's party, and you want to win a bird, your choices are as follows:
Spring Bird
Map Bird
You will choose the map location.
That makes it a custom paper bird.
Logo Bird
Your blog button will be applied to the bird.
logo bird 3
If you are not here from Donna's party, head on over there tomorrow (1-21-10) and follow her directions for your chance to win.   You can enter up until January 30!  Once I get the information from Donna on the winner of the bird, I'll get busy creating.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Funky Junk's Workshop Series

I love how Donna at Funky Junk inspires me to take chances with my posts. This week's challenge was to post your most risky project. It was hard to choose since I'm such a risk taker. Why not live dangerously, right?

The story of how we ended up in Tennessee is a long one.  It could keep y'all entertained for hours.  It has twists and turns--literally--and involves a 28-ft. camper and flat tires and people with names like "The Survivors."   If the whole experience was made into a book, some of the chapter names might be  What Were They Thinking?, Homesteading with the City Slickers, Square-foot Gardening on the Mountain Top, Snake in the Bedroom, Mice in the Linens,  Mail-order Chickens,  and Guns and Neighbors.  And that's just what popped into my head without really trying.

We were living in Florida at the time and wanted out.  My husband had lost his job and had temporarily taken a job installing insulation. It was awful.  Our goal was to find a piece of acreage with a water source that we could pay cash for--not in Florida. The short version is that we were charmed by the Tennessee barn and the fall foliage on the  bottom part of an 11-acre piece of property that we ended up buying.  
We were not charmed by the house at the top of the long, steep driveway,  but we didn't really care because we wanted the land to build a log cabin on. The fact that we had never built a thing in our lives didn't deter us. No sirree baby. My husband and son flew to Washington state and went to a build-a-log-home workshop--not to be confused with a Build-a-Bear Workshop. If only.

If there was a structure that we could live in in the meantime, all the better.  How silly were we? By far, taking on this house has been our riskiest project to date.  My husband figured out pretty quickly that there was no way the females in the family (Tessa and I) would be living in that house in that condition for even one night.  Could you blame us?  And you haven't even seen the inside.  I don't think I feel secure enough in blog world to show y'all that--yet!  Isn't the tree lovely, though?  You do have to understand that we had lived in Florida for 12 years  and had not enjoyed the fall colors for some time.  That tree probably sealed the deal for me.  If only I could have lived in it.
The specifics:  1000 sq. feet, no central heat/air, drop ceilings, four rooms?, leaky tin roof, moldy bathroom, crooked everything, built by who knows who in a county without such a thing as building permits.   I was once told that they don't care if you build a bowling alley on your property.  It is after all, your property.    It is how it is done in the Twilight Zone country.  I might mention that up to this point in my married life, I had only lived in nice *new* homes--in suburbs or cities.  I had never owned a canning jar or a shotgun.  Looking back, my life must not have been that interesting.  Enough said.   By the way, it did have an outbuilding.
The projects:  new walls, new ceilings, new bathroom, new kitchen, new roof, new siding, new everything.  We never really got around to the new floors, but I'm saving that for when Donna challenges us to post our risky paint projects. I should have a contest to see who could guess how many trips to the dump we made before we dug a fire pit.
01-19-2010 08;02;14PM
I am feeling a bit insecure about now.  So I think I'll just show you a few way-after photos and bypass the in-between ones.  Maybe another day, another post. If anyone is really interested.  Which I doubt.
The driveway was a huge job--that never ended.
The barn was to the right of Tessa in the photo below.  
The house was up, up, up, and to the right.
The house looked much better after a ton of TLC!
It was still a shack, but we learned a lot there.
It prepared my husband for the business that he would start.
It sold for almost three times what we paid for it--the first day on the market,
for asking price, cash, to someone with a Jaguar.  Hilarious.
I have never been so shocked in my entire life.  Ever.  It was a God thing.
It gave us the courage and the cash to tackle The Boxmoor.
The Boxmoor

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I just can't stop talking about this product.  I just can't stop making my irl visitors stand in the little pink bathroom to listen to me ramble on and on about it.  After this post I will stop.  Promise again.
kaboom before
I had absolutely no intention of saving this floor until a commenter suggested it.  Just to prove that I was making the right decision, I cleaned just a little section.  I was sure the finish would still look terrible, and I would go on with my plans.  The more I did, the more I did.  And then I called Kelly on the phone and asked her to walk up the stairs to see my progress.  I could not leave the room to get her.  Watching that product work is that amazing.  I kid you not.

Kelly said, and I quote, "Oh crap, that looks good!"  And then she said it again, "Oh crap, that looks good!"  She does not usually use the *c* word, so I knew she was impressed.  Needless to say, the other flooring went back--which is going to make the re-do cost pretty impressive.  I didn't get to work much in there this weekend because of other pressing things like end-of-year tax stuff and frozen pipes.

There is a good time to take down a drop ceiling and there is a bad time.  When water is pouring through it at 12:30 a.m. is a good time at a bad time.  KWIM?  Just ask Kelly and Travis since it was on their side of the house.  
Of course, it was a pipe on our side that actually busted, so who is actually responsible?  Thank the good Lord that my husband does this kind of thing for a living.  He usually does pretty well financially in his line of work after freezing weather and natural disasters, but not this time.  He got the work all right--just no payment will be coming in.
And the one room that did not need any work done to it right now has a lovely hole in the wall.
And yes, we had insulated the pipes when we renovated the bathroom.  Go figure.
On a happy note, I will include a little peek at the bathroom progress that does not involve Kaboom.  Lots still to be done so stay tuned.  Yes, the tin will be painted much to Funky Junk's dismay I am sure!