Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Big yellow Taxi: You don’t know what you got till its gone!

It’s been 41 days 22 hours 14 minutes since my wife and mother of my children left me… but who’s counting? Me! that’s who!


I can count on one hand the number of meals I have actually fix for the kids and me since my wife left. My wife and I usually divide and concur when it come to doing things around the house. My tasks involve the morning routine, which includes waking and feeding kids and making lunches and the nightly routine, which includes doing homework, reading, and chores. The remainder of the “other” things she does.

I say “other” things because I think that is how most of us see what our significant other does… I do all of this (see above) and they do the “other” things… hence significant “other”. Right? It sounds kind of bad when you say it that way, and well, frankly it is! I am not even going to try and attempt to write all the “other” things that she does… it would take too long and I am certain I would forget something.

Please don’t feel sorry for me though… I am a very capable person. For any of you that know my wife’s cooking, I can hold my own right up there with her. I was a product of a single dad with two older brothers and two older sisters and in that house we had chores and had to learn how to do everything: cook, clean, and sew. I am not sure how many people can actually cook, clean, and sew now a day… well I say I can, but in all actually reality, I don’t!

What do I do? You may ask.

Well… I work! We are a single income family. I like to think of us as a 1950’s family with all the modern day problems families experience with kids and technology. Ninety nine percent of the time Shannon makes dinner and has it waiting for when the kids and I come home from work and school. We eat at the dinner table and try to pry out of the kids the events of the day.

How was school?
Good?

That’s it for school. The topic most often turns to world facts from Alonzo – our very own little Poindexter. We often talk about world events and see what the kids think about what is going on. You would be surprised what kids think.

Since my wife left, less than three percent of the means have been made and dinner is never waiting for the kids and me when I get home. But we do still eat at the table and we still have our conversations. It was tonight’s conversation with Alonzo that brought me to writing this post.

Me: How’s dinner?
Alonzo: I can’t wait to see mom.
Me: why?
Alonzo: I can’t wait to eat something healthy!
Me: You don’t like what we are having for dinner… you picked it!
Alonzo: I know. I just want moms food. She cooks it from scratch.

It was at that point that the other two started to chime in about how much they miss their moms cooking.

*note: the kids chose dinner and it was pizza from Papa Johns.

To me this was profound. My kids finally realized that they missed their mom and enjoy eating healthy.

I too cannot wait to be back with my wife! She cooks!… from scratch!… and it’s healthy!!!

I have come to have a great appreciation for Shannon and all the “other” things she does. I can tell you other stories from earlier on in our marriage where I learned appreciation, but will save that for another time.

I am grateful for my wife and everything she does for the kids and me.  I am so blessed to have her and a job that allows her to stay home and do what she love to do… taking care of her family.


You don’t know what you got till its gone!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tape, Miles and Miles of Tape

It's another kitchen reno update.  I know I'm obsessing about the kitchen, but seriously it is all I am doing morning to night right  now, so it's all I've got to blog about.  And if you've ever lived in government housing where you have no choice in furnishings, curtains, or even the house itself, then you understand  how excited I am to be playing with my own little house.

Today I got up and decided I would knock out the backsplash on the second side of the kitchen,  I figured I could do it all in one day, no problem.  I already know what to do since I did the other side of my little galley kitchen last week.  Yeah, that worked. Either I am an incurable optimist when it comes to DIY projects in spite of being a glass half empty kind person in the rest of my life, or the paint fumes have gotten to me. I didn't even come close to finishing up today.

10 am blocking in the area to be painted with wide tape to protect the cabinets, counters, window and what ever I can possibly splash paint on while creating the faux tiles.


At this point I thought I was making good progress. Paint fumes I tell you, paint fumes. I worked pretty steadily until around 2:30 or so when some family dropped by to see the progress.  I love being someplace where family can just drop by.  We visited for a while, it was great.  You never realize what a luxury that is until you live some place where it takes a couple day's travel for family to "drop by."

After they left I got back to work, but realized fairly quickly that I probably won't be painting today, but I was confident I would finish up the taping at a reasonable hour (paint fumes!!) and have a relaxing evening.  Yeah, that didn't work either.

6:00 still have the part of the area behind the fridge and most of the area around the window to do, plus all the little vertical pieces that make it look like tile instead of stripes. At this point I'm starting to think it's going to be long night, but I was still confident I would finish up before I headed to bed. Yeah, riiiight! It has to be paint fumes, no one is this delusion, I mean optimistic. Yeah, I totally meant optimistic, not delusional. Whose delusional?  I don't know what you are talking about.


9:00  The window.  Oh the window.  At this point I should probably apologize to my high school geometry teacher.  Perhaps if I had paid more attention to Ms. Lange that window would have been easier to tape. Suffice it to say that stupid window was taped and untaped and retaped several times today.  There has to be an easier way than the way I did it. I measured, marked, and taped only to find when I got to the top of the window the two sides didn't match up.  Starting at the ceiling and working down didn't work either, apparently the ceiling isn't level. The result were even worse.


10:30 VICTORY!!!  The window is finally taped.  Whew!  I finally taped the very top of the window, and then worked up and down from there.  Several rows are a tiny bit wider or narrower than the rest to make it all work.  The difference is so small I don't think anyone will ever be able to tell unless they take a ruler to the wall.


I still need to add in most of the little vertical stripes. I will be spending several hours in the morning doing this.  Yay, more tape.  I'm so excited. No really, I am.


I am confident that by bedtime tomorrow I will be done with the backslashes, except for applying the polycrylic sealer in a few days. Please don't let this be paint fumes talking.  I really want to be finished with this step.

In the meantime I am going to enjoy some beer and brats with a side of salad for a very late dinner. Good night y'all!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

It's Starting To Come Together.

All of my cabinets have doors again.


Finally I can see how it's going to look when it's all done.  The little space above the microwave will be a wine rack which David will install when he gets here, along with crown molding, handles, and shelves.  I think it is going to look amazing.

There is work for me too. The opposite side of the room still needs the backsplash painted, and both sides need to sealed with polycrylic to make protect the faux tile and make it scrubbable. The wine rack needs to be sanded and painted to match the cabinets.  I still need to  clear away the the painting gear and pack it up for another day. And I probably should mow the lawn before David shows up.


It looks so plain without the backsplash painted. I can hardly wait to see how it looks when it is finished.

In the dining room it is out with the sawhorses and in with the carpet, table and chairs.  It feels like a house again, instead of a disaster area.


I am wrapping up another busy day with a celebratory dinner.


Yes, Oman friends, those are pork chops. Pork chops, baked potato, and salad...Yummm!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Kitchen Update

I had planned on blogging the kitchen as I went a bit each day.  What I hadn't counted on was the amount of work, and the amount of time it would take to do that work solo.  It all sounded so easy.  Move the cabinets up a bit, slap a little paint on the cabinets add a few shelves and viola a whole new kitchen!  Yeah. Not exactly.  The only easy part of this was moving the cabinet, and that was easy because I paid someone to come move them for me.

Just to review my kitchen started like this



Not bad, a little generic but not bad.

By the next day it looked like this.



I call this stage the Oh My Gawd!  What have I done?? stage. It is too late to turn back, but there seems to be no end in sight. It just goes on

And on



And on.

And just when you think you are making progress the Mother Nature decides to make things more interesting.

I am using oil paints even though they smell horrible and are awful to clean up.  They give the most amazing hard smooth finish, perfect for kitchen cabinets.  I learned something else about oil paint. If it's raining they don't dry.  I had all the doors set up in the garage to keep the stench in the house to a minimum. A friend who has done this a time or two told me to move everything into the house and drop the A/C to help control the humidity.  It worked like a charm.  Of course now my house looks like this. And it smells.

But I finally started seeing thing slowly come back together.



 At last I could start on the back splashes. The tutorial I found on line said it took her 2 - 4 hours depending on the complexity of the design. Add 10 hours to that and thats about right.  I started at 10 in the morning and finished up at 11:45 at night.  By the time I cleaned up and realized I never ate supper (not too sure if I ate lunch come to think of it) it was after midnight.  I ate my sandwich while staring at the wall.  It makes me smile very time I walk by it.


Yes that is all painters tape.  Miles and miles of skinny tape.

Paint in progress




Finished product.  I love it!!!


There is still plenty to do, like the backslash on the other side of the kitchen. Today I put the last coat of paint on the top doors, YAY!! I am waiting for them to dry completely so I can hang them in the morning. Here is a shot of a finished door.


I love the way the wood grain shows.  I can't wait to get it all back together.  There are a few things David will take care of when he gets here: new light over sink, shelves at the height of the cabinets before I moved them and of course some cabinet jewelry (handles and drawer pulls).  Then it will be finished.  And totally uniquely ours.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

This and That and the Other Thing Too

Well despite my vow to post at least twice a week, it looks more like I am managing twice a month.  I could make all kinds of excuses, but why bother?  Just chalk it up to being a lazy blogger and move on.

There is a Blog Rejuvenation going on in the FS blogosphere.  I signed up for it then managed not to actually do it.  Click on the words Blog Rejuvenation for a link to those who are a little more on the ball and managed to get their acts together and participate in a timely manner. I am counting this post as my very much belated first entry, and yes i know prompt 2 should already be published.  I'll try to get to that tomorrow, and maybe I'll get promo three up on time. Don't hold your breath.  I'm choosing Prompt 2:  Do something wonderful for yourself and tell us about it, no matter how small.

My something nice isn't small at all, it's is huge.  Momentous even.  It is like nothing I have ever done before.   I am currently in the states enjoying my little house in the hood.  David is still at post with the kids finishing up the school year.  Yes you read that right I am temporarily single. Since Navy boy is 22, (??!??) this is the first time in 22 years I have had more than a few days to myself.  And like most domestic engineers I work 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  22 years with no real vacation, I think I'm due. There is nothing in the world I love as much as my kids and husband, but I really needed this break, and I think I will be a better mom and wife for the time to myself.


For a vacation I am working pretty hard.  The original plan was to deal with the floor. Remember this post from ages and ages ago?  Yes, we bought a bought a little vacay/retirement house and then the week before we left post the floor exploded.  YAY! Exploding floors...how fabulous.


I had initially planned on stripping and painting the floor.  I  researched and obsessed and planned. Then after looking at perhaps the 10,000th revised plan for painting the floor David said he thought maybe it would be better if we just held off  for a few years and put in the hardwood we both really want, instead of trying to make due with a painted finish.  Ummm....Okay? All that planning and obsessing for naught. And really as long as you don't move the carpets who would ever know what a mess is hiding under there?


Still, I have a house, a little house to be sure, but it is our house and I can paint it pink with orange polka dots if I want to and GSO can't say a thing about it. HA! The HOA probably would have an opinion about polka dots if I put them on the exterior, but inside I can do what ever I want.  Enter the new and revised and even better plan.  THE KITCHEN!!!

The kitchen was standard builder grade ugly.  Golden oak builder grade (cheap) cabinets, laminate counters, plain white appliances. Very boring. We could, and probably someday will, yank everything out and start over new cabinets, new appliances, upgrade everything, make it totally mine.  Someday however, is not this year.  This year is all about the cosmetic.  A little paint, a little creativity, a whole lot of sweat and tears and I will have a new(ish) kitchen.

Before Pictures


Looking at those pictures makes me slightly hyperventilate, because that's not even remotely what my kitchen looks like now.  I think I am having an "OMG WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?" moment.  But I think that is a post for another day.  I'll be posting updates on the renovation as I go.  Wish me luck!







Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Not so Wordless Wednesday - Dave's New/Old Toy

Last week was Spring Break - 10 days of kid free-for-all with very little house cleaning.  Sometime during the fun I managed to catch a cold. During the day it wasn't too bad, just the sniffles and the occasional cough, nothing major.  In fact I'm still not totally sure it's a cold, and not some sort of allergy. It hit just when the haze rolled back in killing our ocean view.  Maybe there is something in the haze my body doesn't like, plus nobody else is sick which makes me think allergy, not cold.  So during the day it isn't bad, but at night as soon as I lay down the coughing starts.  It's this horrible tickle in the throat that just won't stop that makes me cough and cough.  It makes falling asleep almost impossible, and it wakes me up over and over.  For more than a week now I have been existing on 2-3 hours of cough interrupted sleep.  Needless to say I have turned into a slug.  The house looks like a pack of hyenas have moved in.  Today I am cleaning the mess. So fun.  I hope I don't find any hyenas hiding out in the kids room.  Or spiders.

Ok enough whining.  With no further ado here is the Wordless Wednesday photo:
Dave's New/ Old toy.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Still Here

I'm still here, although I am having a hard time blogging with any regularity, or even at all.  I think about writing, them I go have a cup of coffee instead.  Maybe having a Starbuck's AND a Costa in walking distance does have it's downside. I'm not sure why I'm not in the bloggy mood lately, and in truth I'm not exactly in the mood today, but I finally decided that if I wait until the mood strikes it could be a really long time before there is another blog post. I guess at this point I have two options: 1. Let Cyberbones quietly disappear or 2. Fake it until the bloggy mood comes back.  I'm going with the fake it until you make it option. My new goal is to get something, pretty much anything,  up on the blog 3 times a week.

Things are going along as normal here in Oman.  The kids go to school, Dave goes to work, and I spend my days cooking, cleaning, crafting, hanging with friends, and lately taking a few courses on line.  A few weeks ago I finished my first ever Coursera course, an introduction to paleontology through the University of Alberta.  I really enjoyed it and kinda wish I lived near Alberta so I could take a few more paleontology classes.   I'm hoping to take more courses in the future and explore some other areas of interest.  I'm also using Duolingo to work on my (sadly lacking) Spanish skills, mostly so I don't feel like a total idiot when the 6th grader needs help on his Spanish homework.  So far all I've proved is I am not smarter than a 6th grader, and I still have no idea how to say that in Spanish.

The heat has set back in with a vengeance.  It's only in the mid 90's today, but the little desk top weather app on my computer says it will be in the 100's the rest of the week.  Yippee.  That was sarcasm if you missed it. The winter here was so lovely that for a few months I forgot about the heat, but it came back anyway.  Yesterday while buckling my seatbelt I accidentally let the little metal thingy hit my arm.  It was so hot it left a red burn mark that lasted for a couple of hours.  At least Texas is going to feel nice and cool by comparison. Oh, and all you people that keep telling me "But it's a dry heat."  No, no its not. I can see the ocean from the 3rd floor balcony.  It is a very very humid, walk outside and have to take your glasses off because they instantly fog up kind of heat.  It feels like a sauna out there.  A very hot and sandy sauna.

That about covers things here.  I'll be back later this week with an update on our plans for summer.  Now I think I'll go have a frap as a reward for getting a blog post up.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sick Kid, Funny Kid

Grayson is home sick today.  Poor thing is running a fever and has a nasty cough.  Don't feel too sorry for him though because mostly he is sitting around relaxing, watching TV and playing with his iPad.

Every once in around he will say something random and very funny, or at least I think it is funny.

Grayson was watching TV and playing on the iPad at the same time so I asked, "Do you want me to turn the TV off?" to which he replied "Nah, I'm multitasking."

Okay then. Multitasking.

Later he was still multitasking when he asked without looking up, "Can I build a bomb?"

??!!!???

You know, all things considered I'd rather he didn't.  Thankfully it turned out he was talking about a mentos and coke bomb. Still no. Ditto for the baking soda and vinegar idea.

After watching some documentary about coral reefs in Micronesia he looked up and very seriously told me, "We need to tell Dad we are moving to Pulau when we leave here."

Oh, if only bidding were that easy. It does look pretty though, wonder if the schools are any good.  Wonder if there are schools.

On the occasion of me telling him he needs to take a nap because he is running a fever. "Yeah, because you are putting too much stress on me, that's what happens people get sick because you put too much stress on me."

No idea where he heard about stress, or multitasking. Exactly what is stressful about laying around watching movies and playing mine craft? Oh, and he is still going to go take a nap, I hear napping is good for stress.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thursday, October 31, 2013

When I Grow Up....

So I am, in theory at least, a grown up.  Thing is I don't especially feel grown up.  I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.  The last few years in Malawi were busy ones.  I ended up homeschooling 2 of the 3 years.  If you have ever home-schooled then you know it is a labor of love that can simply eat your life.  I am soooo glad that I did it and if circumstances demanded it I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I think it's good that the boys are back in school.  The school here is wonderful and the boys are getting to do things academically, socially, and artistically that are far out of my teaching abilities. But now that I have all this free time I am finding I have a bit too much time to think.

I have had many dreams of what I want to be over the years.  Some of those dreams were discarded as I grew and changed, and some, a few, have come true.  For instance I've always wanted to be a mom, and I am, four times over.  And once I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I managed to get a degree and then a paying job doing exactly that for 7 years or so.  I took a break after having a couple of kids because day care costs were outstripping my income.  Teachers don't get rich, they should, but they don't. Dave and I agreed that I would go back to teaching after the youngest started Kinder, and if we had stayed in the states I'm sure finances would have forced me back into the classroom even before then.  Now after being overseas for 7 years, and and out of the classroom for more than a decade,  I can't imagine teaching again, I don't even want to be room mom.  That dream is the dream of a past me, a me that doesn't really exist anymore.

Some days I think I want to write, to be a writer.  To have an answer when asked what do you do?  I want to be able to say, "I'm a writer." but then I really don't seem to have the self discipline or possibly confidence it takes to write for hours a day, every day, and we won't even talk about the evil that is revision and proofreading. And I'm not really all that keen on somebody reading the stories I write.  Stories are different than a blog post. Stories are spun only out of my caffeine fueled imagination, so they feel more personal, more private.  I still write, not just the blog, but actual stories, so maybe someday this dream will become something more than a dream, maybe someday I will say "I am a writer" or maybe not. In the mean time it will continue to be something I do for me, because I enjoy it.

Somedays I think I should just go get a job at the embassy as a security escort or something, to contribute to the family income.  We don't need me to work, and that is such a blessing, but sometimes I feel a bit guilty about spending and not earning money.  (My husband is rolling his eyes as he reads this!) Yes, if I went to work full or part time outside of the house it would upset the balance of the house.  I am currently the chief maid, cook and bottle washer.  The boys (all of them including my husband) come home expecting a clean house and dinner ready.  I (usually) provide that service.  I actually like being a house wife, and I am good at it. Somehow these days that doesn't seem to be an acceptable occupation and I don't so much like people who ask me "What DO you do all day?"  I have noticed most of those people have a maid, possibly a nanny, and spend most of their time volunteering someplace or meeting with like minded people to "do lunch" and are shocked that anyone would ever consider cleaning their own toilets.  My husband has been known to refer to them as "Ladies who lunch" which is a little mean and condescending but then their question "What DO you do all day?" and it's implication I should be doing something more is a little mean and condescending too.

A long time ago, so long ago it seems like another life, I talked a lot about doing something with plants.  Maybe a small farm, possibly herbs, or maybe landscape design.  At the time I was drowning in dirty diapers, so it was just a fond dream for someday.  I did spend a lot lot of time playing in my own yard and even did some landscape work for friends. In fact one of those jobs ultimately led to us moving overseas.  I wouldn't take any money because she paid for all the supplies and I was having so much fun.  But the friend insisted on giving us something for our work, so she gave us a gift certificate to a local chinese place knowing we hardly ever got a chance to go out to eat.  When we went we were  the only people speaking English and the food was amazing.  Now my husband is an army brat who grew up mostly overseas in Korea and Japan.  Somehow after that dinner, listening to others chatter away in another language and eating great Asian food, it became imperative that Dave make it back overseas. That his children have a childhood filled with travel and international experiences.  It took a few years but we made it and the rest is history. That was Dave's dream and he found a way to make it come true.

Which brings me back to what I want to be when I grow up.  Plants are still my passion.  I love plants of all kinds, but most especially those which smell good, and taste good, and look pretty.  I thought I had left behind my dreams of farming or landscape design, after all those are not exactly portable careers.  I began to remember how much I love playing in the dirt in Malawi where I had a huge yard with a massive vegetable and herb garden.  I also had two gardeners who had been with the house through a few rounds of embassy families.  They were slightly baffled at my wanting to play in the dirt.  They often drove me absolute batty by trying to help, like the time they "weeded" my herb garden pulling up and throwing onto the compost all the "weeds" including my oregano, curry plant, tarragon and sage.  I was never able to replace the curry plant or sage.  All the same I enjoyed spending hours weeding and planning, composting and harvesting.  It went a long way towards making Malawi home.  It also re-awakened long forgotten dreams.

Lately it seems the universe is refusing to let those dreams return to long forgotten status. A few weeks ago one of my favorite author blogs Jill Shalvis linked to a friend's blog Chickens in the Road, a writer turned farmer, turned writer again. I read her blog and thought "That's what I want to do! I want a little farm"  Then I spent the better part of the day blog stalking her, reading every blog post about her farm.  I thought, "Isn't that lovely? Someone is living my dream." Actually her farm and life is far beyond what I previously thought to dream of, but now it has expanded my dreams, and isn't that why we read? Then I put away my computer and my blog inspired day dreams and went back to unpacking boxes, cleaning, cooking, and creating a home here in Oman.

Recently  I have discovered a TV series on Hulu Plus called Chefs a Field where chefs who are committed to cooking organically and sustainably visit the local organic farms that supply their produce.  Some of those farms are as small as half an acre.  Others are huge.  Most are in-between. None of them are getting rich farming.  It's kinda like teaching that way.  But all of them are finding a way to  make their farms work, often in unusual ways. I think that in the future it will be those farmers that think outside the box that are able to continue to exist, perhaps prosper, and supply our food needs.

A few weeks ago I tuned into Ted Radio Hour podcast while cooking and heard an amazing talk by Ron Finley about the food desert in his South Central LA neighborhood and how he planted a food forest to supply fresh produce.  Amazing!  I first learned about food forests while taking a permaculture course in Malawi.  At the time I thought how much could we alleviate hunger if we could just get more people to plant a sustainable food forest instead of sweeping the dirt away or planting a lawn.  And here is a self-styled guerrilla gardener using the same principals to fight hunger in LA.

Even my cooking shows seem to all be doing special segments on the farms that supply the produce. It seems like everywhere I look someone is taking a little plot of land and turning it into a place to grow something.  Bees, or chickens, or beets, or goat cheese, or Romanesco broccoli.

So now I think someday I might want to be a farmer, of sorts. Not when I grow up, I think I am safely past that stage, but maybe when Dave retires. Not next week, or next month, or even next year, because there are a lot of years between now and retirement, and a lot or research and work if this is a dream I really want to pursue.  Not growing rows and rows of corn and soybean in rotation, but maybe more a hobby farm with a couple of acres of organic gardens and produce sold at farmers markets or maybe the local CSA (community supported agriculture).  When Dave envisions this dream it has a B&B or possibly self-catering vacation cottages on part of the property, and I think there is room in this dream for that too, as long as HE cleans the rooms, not me. I'll be out back turning the compost to aerate it and keep it hot and picking my micro-greens and heirloom vegetables.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Unpacking: Making Progress and Dreaming of Floors

I am finally nearing the end of the cardboard boxes. YAY!!  By this time next week the artwork will be hung (I hope), and I can post some finished pictures of our home here in Oman.

The house has a few quirks, like who thought it was a good idea to put the kitchen light switches BEHIND the fridge, seriously.  But what FS housing doesn't have quirks? It's beginning to feel like home, quirks and all. And so far I haven't found a single spider  large or small, so it's all good!!  By the way karma, this is not the signal to send hordes of giant spiders heading my way. Nope I am really good with no spiders!

Unpacking an entire house can be mind numbingly boring and tedious.  While I am unwrapping the bazillion and one dust collectors we seem to have accumulated I am only half focused on finding a place for them here in our new home, mostly I am thinking about flooring options.  Hardwood, or tile, or natural stone?  Polished concrete, or acid stained, or painted? No the house here isn't getting a new floor, our floor here is all shiny, slick marble.  I am thinking about my little vacay house in the 'hood.  When we bought it the floors looked like this:


But then just before we left Malawi for home leave this happened:


I know right? What a mess.  All total we lost 24 tiles in 2 rooms. 24 oversized 15 inch tiles.  That is a lot of floor.  We had the foundation checked, it's fine.  Apparently what happened is that there was a heat wave that lasted for about a week and with the house unoccupied at the time and not air conditioned the tile expanded a lot faster than the foundation.  That combined with a bad DIY tile job and POP exploding floor.

Dave and his brother Paul chipped away all the loose, broken tiles and mortar, cut plywood to fit the holes, threw some carpets over it and called it done for the summer.



It looked good, really good actually, but at best it's a very temporary fix.


The plan is for me to head back to the states ahead of the rest of the family and take care of the floor so that the summer would be relaxing and fun. There is not much relaxing and fun about living in a construction zone.  Originally we were thinking I would just supervise the contractors, that plan was great until we started getting some quotes. OUCHIE!

I really want black slate tile but the quote to get that done rules out the possibility of going to Thailand, or Zanzibar, or China, or pretty much anywhere really.  And you know one of the major benefits of the FS is the chance to travel.  Why would I give that up for a floor, even a really pretty floor? There is time for that slate floor when we retire and by then I will probably want something different anyway.

So began the search for affordable flooring options.  First thing that came to mind was laminate. I don't like laminate floors.  They feel fake.  Probably because they are fake. And it's a lot more expensive than I thought it would be.

I really like the look of this plywood floor, and it wouldn't be that expensive.  That really is plywood. Gorgeous isn't it? I might like this better than slate, maybe.

Plywood Floor
But this is out my skill level, and since the new plan is for me to head home early and do the floor by myself, what ever we choose has to not only be cheap, it has to be something I can handle as a solo DIY.

Enter the painted floor. Do a quick internet search and you come up with some really cool looks.  I love the way this floor looks painted solid robin's egg blue.

Blue Floor
Simply stunning, and I would imagine it shows every blessed piece of dirt that comes by. With 3 boys who spend the summer roaming from house to house with their pack of friends, that can be a lot of dirt.  So maybe not for me, not right now anyway.

How about faux bois?  I may have to do this just so I can say I have a faux bois floor. Isn't it fab?

Faux Bois Floor 
I thought about simple diamonds in grey and white.

Diamond Painted Floor
It's classic, and probably not too hard to do.  Sounds like a winner, BUT if I am going to go to all the trouble of chiseling up all that tile, scraping, sanding and painting BY MYESLF, I think I want something different.  Something fun and maybe a little funky.

So I looked at stencils.  Wow are there some cool stencils out there.

Stenciled Floors
Check out this all over floral stencil from Royal Design Studios.

Lace Stencil by Royal Design Studios

I love this!!!  It's a little funky.  It's fun.  Done in grey and white it will make a lovely background for my rugs and furniture and brighten up the room.  BUT I live in a house of men.  I showed this to my husband and the boys. Four men looked at all those flowers and simultaneously broke out in hives. I'm guessing door to door flowers are out.  Of course I will be in the states and they will be in Oman, so it's not like they would know what I was up to until it was a fait accompli.  Would that be too mean?  It would, wouldn't it? I thought so. Darn it!

I like the organic look (exactly what does that mean??) of acid staining, but doing it professionally is not cheap, albeit a whole lot cheaper than slate, and it's out of my DIY range.  Plus it seems like 99 out of 100 acid etched floors are brown.

Acid Stained Floor
Not a big fan of brown.  If I wanted brown I would just leave the plywood and broken tiles there for a few more years.

I have a freind who's the queen of DIY and faux painting who tells me I can totally get this look with paints, and it's cheap and I can choose my own colors!  Cheap is good. Colors are better. Mottled floors are good for hiding dirt. With 3 boys and their pack of friends in and out of the house all summer hiding dirt is a very good thing.  I am thinking something like this

stained concrete floor
Mostly grey with hints of blue and green and touches of brown.  Nice and bright and fairly neutral, but still fun and funky.

And then I found these really cool stencils.

Fossil Stencils
I am not sure exactly what I want to do with them but they do seem to suit our family to a tee.  The boys are forever dragging home skulls and bones and rocks, shells and fossils and feathers. In fact right now there's a goat skull on the front steps, a cat skull on the book shelf, what we think might be a fox skull in the display table, and sea shells everywhere.  Somehow stencils of long dead critters seem entirely appropriate, I just need to figure out what to do with them.

I have months yet to figure out, and research exactly what I want to do. In the meantime I am having a ridiculous amount of fun day dreaming about all the possibilities.

Does anyone else out there day dream about DIY projects?



Sunday, September 29, 2013

House Hold Effects

Our Household effects, otherwise known as HHE, are scheduled to arrive this morning.  I don't know if I am excited, or if I just want to crawl under a rock and hide.  Either way approximately 7200 pounds of boxes filled with I can't quite remember what will be here shortly and then chaos will ensue. I will be updating as I get a moment throughout the day.

10:30 Three crates unloaded.  You can no longer walk in the kitchen due to the number of boxes.  We will not discuss the number of boxes labeled books.  Dave says I may have a problem, or two.  I disagree.  It is not a problem to like to eat well, or read.  Nope a problem at all.

11:40 Last crate being cracked open.  We have too much stuff.  I have NO IDEA where we are putting all of this. The house reeks of cardboard and I am hungry.  The guys have started coming in the door and telling me where they are putting stuff.  I am not inclined to argue.

11:51 last box in in the house.  We have too much stuff.  Going to go eat lunch and then start unpacking.  Oh the fun.

12:35 Back from Subway (YUM) and ready to begin the unpacking.

4:57 Kitchen unpacked, mostly.  I should say all the boxes I can find so far that are labeled "kitchen" are unpacked.  There are thing missing though, so there is more stuff around here somewhere that will have to be shoved into a cabinet when it does turn up.  Not quite sure how I am going to fit anything else, but I will manage.

Meanwhile Dave has made all the beds, except ours.  Our sheets are missing. I guess they're in a box with the missing kitchen items.

I haven't touched a box of books yet.  I'm afraid to.  I might start reading instead of unpacking and then would be lost.

Kids are home from school and in spite of repeated requests to start on homework they are taking turns making a horrendous amount of noise on the trumpet/coronet/noise-maker-from-hades.  Why couldn't one of them take up trumpet so they could actually learn to play the darn thing?

Back to work.

6:05  Kids fed, decided to call it a night.  Everyone needs to do their homework and then I just want a long hot shower and a cold beer.

We made good progress today.  While I did kitchen Dave tackled the bedrooms.  Clothes are put away in the proper closets, beds are made, the welcome kit burlap sheets are washed and folded ready to be packed away. Bookshelves are put together and ready to be loaded with books for reading.

Tomorrow the kids have early release so we will work hard in the morning then take a bit of a break when they get home then try to put them to work as well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Perfect FS Spouse? NOT!

Yesterday a new friend here at post said I seemed like the perfect FS spouse. I had to laugh. I am so far from the perfect spouse it isn't even funny. Don't believe me? Let's look at the evidence.

 I hate change, so we choose to live a life of eternal change. Yes I know, everything changes all the time. Time, after all, refuses to stay still. However I am talking serious change, change of house, change of friends, change of country and everything that goes with it: culture, food, language, people. Did I mention I hate change? I want, really want, to be a creature of habit. I want to go where everybody knows my name, Ok maybe I don't want to go to a bar in Boston but I do want to go someplace where I feel like I belong.  That's one of the reasons why we bought our little house in the 'hood. We had barely pulled up this summer and were just unloading suitcases when I started hearing "Hey Shannon! Welcome home!" "Hi Miss Shannon!  Can Colin and Zo come play?" Totally music to my ears. For me it's comforting to know there is some place that I belong. One of my happy thoughts is knowing that our little house, and the whole 'hood are waiting for me to come back next summer. There will be changes there too, of course, but there will also be a sameness that feeds my need for continuity.

 I hate airplanes, so we fly here there and everywhere with me white knuckling it all the way. Don't even suggest that I have a drink to help me chill out. When I was a kid I got violently motion sick all the time. It happened in cars, on airplanes, merry-go-rounds, boats, anything that moved could potentially make me barf. I can remember many airsick bags when we flew to visit my grandmother. Now I have this overwhelming fear that if I have a glass of wine on a plane I will barf. I know it is illogical, and I haven't been motion sick to the point of barfing in years, but I am still terrified by the thought of it. Lately my new minted teenager (he's 13) has figured out that I don't like flying and has taken to asking me things like "Mom what happens if the plane is stuck by lightening?" and "What if the wings fall off?" and my personal favorite "Mom! Look out the window, do you think that is a crack?"Do you know that is is impossible to not look out the window after that question? This last summer David finally had to make sure that he was sitting between us so that I wouldn't murder the kiddo in midair. Teen boy thinks he is funny, but he is  exactly one episode of Air Disasters away from being used as a barf bag.

 I don't do well with waiting. Waiting at a red light? Torture. Waiting in line at the store? Awful. In the FS it feels like we wait for everything. Wait to find out if you will get in, wait for the bid lists, wait to find out where we are going next, wait to see if the kids were accepted at the new school, wait for HHE*, wait, wait, and wait some more should be the motto of the foreign service.

 I can't seem to learn a foreign language. I have tried, but languages are not my gift. Even English spoken with a heavy accent, any accent, might well be Klingon or high Elvish for all the sense it makes to me. I must drive accented people that come in contact with me absolutely nuts asking them to repeat things over and over until, if we are lucky, something suddenly makes sense. Often they just go through my husband rather than deal with me. I admire those who speak two, three, four or more languages, but I am coming to realize that will never be me, if I can learn enough language at each post to ask "Where's the bathroom?" and understand the answer, plus a few polite phrases like "Good morning", "Please," and "Thank you," I will be pretty happy.

I am not very adventurous. I know what you are thinking: "But you went on Safari!  Slept in a tent with hippos right outside!"  Yes, but you weren't in the car with me as I moaned about how I was sure the lions were going to eat us on that first safari trip. I'm sort of surprised my husband didn't leave me on the side of the road halfway across Zambia.  I resist doing almost anything outside of my comfort zone. Even basic things.  I'm terrified of driving in a foreign country.  I NEVER drove in Jakarta, not even once.  It took me almost a year to drive in Germany, and a little longer than that in Malawi. In case you are wondering no, I haven't driven in Oman yet, but now that we have a car I am not going to be able to avoid it much longer.

 I don't like having staff in the house, I like my privacy. I would rather clean my own toilet than lose my privacy to having someone in the house all day, every day. There are exceptions, I would hire the driver and pembantu that we had in Jakarta if we went back, in a heartbeat. Otherwise, no thanks! I'll clean my own house. I do have to add that in an ideal world someone invisible would show up once a week or so to clean the toilets, sweep, mop and vacuum, and them quietly leave. Sadly we don't live in an ideal world.

I can take forever to make close friends. Years in fact. Although I may make lots of casual friends and acquaintances at every post, I can count on one hand the number of friends that I have made that were the kind of friends that I would feel comfortable calling for a sympathetic ear and cup of coffee on a bad day. It takes time for me to make those kind of connections, and since we move ever few years time isn't exactly on my side.

 So why on earth would anyone think I am the perfect FS spouse? What do I have going for me? Well the main thing in my favor is that I actually like being a housewife. I don't much like the title, but I do like the job. I am not driven to go out and find a job at the embassy, or pursue a career. I am content to stay home and take care of the house and family. I think it's a special skill to take a house and turn it into a comfortable home. It takes talent and a certain amount of creativity to turn out healthy, yummy dinners night after night. Especially if you can't run to the store for a rotisserie chicken, pre-shredded cheese, and frozen veggies. I like the challenges that come with trying to make all my favorite dinners from back home without all the ingredients readily at hand. Want lasagna and can't find ricotta? No problem I can make that. Dying for some potstickers? Gotcha covered. Want tacos but don't have tortillas? I can tell you how to make your own, it's easier than you think.

I know it isn't the popular thing to enjoy being a housewife.  It's sort of the ideal of a bygone era.  In fact my husband has been known to refer to me as "his 1950's wife."  No, I haven't stabbed him in his sleep.  I know, I'm a saint.  The thing is he thinks it's a compliment, and I am willing to take it in that spirit, as long as he doesn't expect me to wear pearls, shirtwaist dresses, and heels everyday. Jeans, t-shirts and bare feel will have to do.

In many ways being content to be a housewife makes me ideally suited to be a FS spouse.  Those who've had to leave behind careers they enjoyed and excelled at to become a "trailing spouse" can have a rough time of it, trying to find meaningful satisfying work at post after post, each time having to reinvent themselves anew.  So maybe I'm not the perfect FS spouse, I actually don't know if there is such a creature, but I'm happy to hang out at the house, trying new recipes, blogging, and quietly chasing my own dreams of someday writing a book, and that makes me a pretty good fit for this life.

*While I was typing this post I received a test from Dave HHE will be here SUNDAY!  Next week is going to be super busy with boxes everywhere!!