Saturday, February 22, 2014

Oh, My Poor Neglected Blog

I'm dismayed that it's come to this. Over two months without one post. 

I've followed blogs before that quit posting and I'd think, "No, please don't quit. I enjoy hearing about your life." Unless your blog friends are in-real-life friends or Facebook friends, once they stop blogging, you have no other way to know how they're doing.

2014 has been crazy so far. We visited Keith's sister who lives nine hours away and our kids who live five hours away for the Christmas holidays. Upon our return, we took turns sharing the cold that our relatives had shared with us at Christmas. 

A week later, My mother was hospitalized with pneumonia. She had COPD, assorted other health issues, and had been bedridden for two years. We'd had similar phone calls like this over the last 12 years, so while concerned, we assumed she'd bounce back like all the other times.

She died January 17.  

Even though she had been sick for a long time, and I'm glad she's in a better place and is no longer in any physical or emotional pain, that for the first time in her life, everything is right, it was still hard. I don't think we're ever ready to say good-bye to people we love. 

The upside of a sad time, is spending time with family and friends. My daughter Kiah and I took the train from Minneapolis to Portland for her funeral. 

Despite the circumstances, Kiah and I had a great time. We enjoyed connecting with family we hadn't seen for agesI was gone 12 days. 

On the train ride home, I got the message that my husband's 89-year-old mother had suffered a stroke. This took me by surprise because for the most part she had been in good health. 

She died three days later on January 31. Exactly two weeks after my mom.  Double whammy! Ouch! I hadn't processed my mom's death yet before Keith's mom died. 

She was ready to go. She said at Christmas that this was her last Christmas. She often said that she just wanted God to take her. She's in a much better place and we wouldn't wish her back, but she was dearly loved and we miss her. 

First time our family had all been together in over a year. 

Our granddaughter lightened everyone's hearts. My son said people should rent out therapy babies for funerals.  

Good to mourn together, share memories, family stories, hugs, and tears. Good to say good-bye together, but in our own way. 

Because Keith's mom had been in assisted living, we had to immediately clean out her apartment so we wouldn't be charged for another month. Usually after a funeral, you don't have to deal with their stuff right away. This was a mixed blessing, as it was hard, but it's done. It could easily have dragged on for years, like it did with his dad's stuff.   

The first week home I felt numb and sluggish and didn't feel like doing much. We're for the most part back in the saddle and trying to get back into a routine. 

All this to explain where I've been the last two months.  If you still read my blog, thank-you. I appreciate your concern for me and my family. I'm thankful for all my family and friends, virtual or otherwise.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Confused Oak

I drive by this tree at least twice a day on the way into our garage.

I don't whether to admire the tree's leaves' tenacity for hanging in there through strong winds, rain, sleet, and snow. Especially when all the other leaves fell weeks ago.

Or should I pity the tree for being in denial? 99% of local deciduous trees have shed their leaves. Snow looks beautiful on evergreen trees but doesn't look as nice on dried brown oak leaves.

All I can say is that one shouldn't have to rake leaves and shovel snow at the same time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sound Sleeper

Today is my son's 26th birthday. In honor of his special day, I'm sharing a favorite story from the Vik Family archives. 

When our son, Andrew, was little, he was such a sound sleeper that he barely moved. We'd often watch to see if his chest rose and fell to make sure he was still alive. 

The worst time was when he was 13 years old.

In 2000, Keith and I had gone on a date, while fifteen-year-old Christina, our oldest daughter, babysat our six youngest children. We enjoyed a peaceful, relaxing evening away from our busy family, only to return home to an astonishing turn of events.

10:15 p.m. We walked in the house to find Christina downstairs reading. We assumed the other kids were upstairs in bed. When asked how things had gone that night, Christina said, "Okay."

Eleven-year-old Kiah walked downstairs and said, "Has Andrew come back yet?"

"What do you mean?" Keith asked. "Isn't he here?"

Christina sighed and put down her book, "I'm not sure." Seems while the cat's away, the mice will...fight. Christina explained that she had  a big fight with Andrew and he had grabbed a sleeping bag and stomped out of the house, saying that "He was going where no one could find him."

We left Kiah inside with the sleeping younger children, and took Christina outside to help look for Andrew.

Our eight acres were surrounded by 160 acres of soybeans. There wasn't much moonlight and our big yard light only illuminated so far. We looked for thirty minutes then called a neighbor who came over with a searchlight. We yelled and shined our flashlights all over the place. No Andrew.

We hoped he hadn't gone into our three-acre grove. Navigating our thick, tangled, overgrown grove at night would be nearly impossible. After an hour of searching, thirty minutes by ourselves, and thirty minutes with the neighbor, we started to panic. Where was he?

11:30 - The police wouldn't help until we had called Andrew's closest friends to see if he'd gone to their houses. His friends lived five miles away. Surely he hadn't walked to town?

We felt foolish calling people that late at night, but his friends hadn't seen him.  We wondered what they thought of us? How do you lose a child from your house?

11:45 - Andrew had been missing for two hours. A police officer showed up with a bigger, more powerful searchlight. He grilled Christina who had been the last person to see him. We all yelled Andrew's name, shining lights everywhere.

12:15 - We were panicked. Was he hurt somewhere? Perhaps unconscious? Was he hiding and purposely not answering? Had he run away? The policeman offered to call in a bloodhound.

I rested my head on our van's steering wheel and prayed, "God, you know where he is. Please help us find him."

I shone headlights into the soybean field again. Between the van and soybeans stood an old white picnic table. I looked hard at the table and thought it looked thicker than normal.

I walked over to the table, overjoyed to see Andrew sleeping on it. I drove off to find Keith. We drove back and parked five feet from the table. Keith honked the horn a few times to alert the searchers that we had finally found Andrew. We kept the headlights shining on him, amazed that he was still sleeping.

How had we missed him before?  Andrew was small for his age and very skinny. Wearing a black stocking cap and snuggled down inside a black sleeping bag, his small size and black bag had made him almost invisible.

I called his name a couple times, thinking he should go inside and sleep in his bed. Since he was obviously in a deep sleep, totally oblivious to the activity going on around him, Keith said to let him sleep where he was.

What was more unbelievable? That we had looked for two and half hours for someone who was sleeping fifty feet from the house or that Andrew had slept through people yelling his name, cars driving on and off our property, lights shining everywhere, and the van's horn honking five feet from his head. 

We thanked our neighbor and the policeman and sent them home, everyone relieved that the lost had been found. A few hours with a missing child was awful. I can't imagine what parents who never find their children go through.

The next morning was sunny and peaceful. Keith watched out the kitchen window as Andrew woke up. His little head poked out of the sleeping bag and he looked around, disoriented to where he was and why. Andrew walked inside and Keith asked how he had slept.

Andrew yawned and said, "Fine." He had absolutely no recollection of all the chaos he had caused.

I was reluctant to go on future dates. Keith thought it vital that we take time for us and sternly warned the kids that there would be no more monkey business while Mom and Dad were gone.

Unfortunately this episode didn't cure the kids of fighting. They had a few more "incidents" but I am happy to say that our kids have grown up to like each other and are good friends now.

I see Andrew watching his four-month-old daughter sleeping and when he leans closer to make sure she's still breathing. I smile and think, "What goes around, comes around."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cheap Fun

Our family is easily entertained. I think it's fun and cool to open a new brick of yeast. I buy my yeast from Sams Club. The savings on a two brick bag at Sams over the price of buying yeast in packets from the grocery story will pay for the membership. 

For 20 years, I have asked my kids, "Who wants to open up a new bag of yeast?" Invariably someone will. If not, I get all the fun to myself. 

The vacuum-packed yeast starts out very hard. 

 Once the air hits the yeast, it immediately gets soft.

This 21 second video is of my daughter Amy. My husband didn't realize what we were doing so is talking to our dog at the end. I don't know how to edit his voice out. We couldn't do a retake because once the yeast goes soft, there isn't a way to make it hard again unless it would get re-vacuum-packed. 

If you're looking for a cheap way to entertain your kids, this is the ticket.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Seeing Double

My youngest daughter, Lani (on the left), got quite a surprise when she got to church Sunday morning. A friend's wife had the same outfit. 

What are the odds that two girls in the same town would unknowingly buy the same dress from the same thrift store and accessorize it the same way and, without consulting each other, wear it to the same church on the same day?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cheap Decorating

My daughters talked about moving out for months. This August they finally did it. Kiah and Anna moved five hours south to LaCrosse, WI. I understand the need for independence, but wish they could have located two hours away, not five. At least they're in a town with three Taco Bells. 

Kiah came home for a week this summer and we worked like crazy getting things ready for their apartment. I sewed, Lani painted, Kiah cooked, and Anna floated from station to station, helping as needed.  

The world's most patient Wal-Mart fabric clerk helped us figure out much fabric we needed for five sets of curtains. These are for the living room.

Moving day was beastly hot and muggy. 95 stinking degrees. The girls' upstairs apartment doesn't have AC. Only love made us spend three days in miserable heat helping them set up. 

We're all pleased with the results. They turned this...

...into this.
(chair from used furniture store, suitcase and doily from Grandma Vik, 
bookshelf from my youngest daughter's furniture stash.)

The kitchen went from this... this. 
(homemade curtains, blue paint, dishes from thrift stores and garage sales.)

I showed Kiah an old brown spice rack I'd bought at Goodwill, saying I'd seen fun things done with spice racks on Pinterest. After I listed a few ideas, she asked if she could have it. I said yes and then asked how she would use it. She smiled and said, "As a spice rack." 

What a concept. There are so many Pinterest articles on repurposing things, that it was unusual to hear of someone using something for which it was intended. Their spice rack now sports a new pink paint job. 

They got this free old brown table from someone's storage 
shed and transformed it into a fun dining table/checkerboard.
(Chairs were purchased for $15 from a Consignment store. 
Paint was free from a local free paint exchange.)

Painting one wall is cheaper than a whole room.
(Yellow shelving was an $8 Goodwill entertainment center 
painted with free paint from the paint exchange.)

$1 Wall decal from Dollar Tree

They turned this...

...into this.

$30 Goodwill desk, light green paint, homemade curtains

Couch from used furniture store, coffee and end 
table from an uncle, pillows from Goodwill.

View from Living Room back towards the Kitchen.

I loved that getting them set up was a joint effort, a true family affair. I sewed, Lani painted, Amy and Erica helped carry boxes up the stairs to their apartment and unpack. Keith helped clean and organize. Kiah is a third year nursing student and Anna just graduated from high school, so they had a small decorating budget that we stretched pretty far. Now they're on their own, though another sister and their brother's family live ten blocks away. 

Needless to say, we miss them and Thanksgiving is a long ways away. 

“It is always sad when someone leaves home, 
unless they are simply going around the corner and 
will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.”
                                       -- Lemony Snicket --

"A house is built of wood and beams,
A home is built on hopes and dreams."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Prize Winning Blanket

It has been brought to my attention by my daughters, my husband, and his aunt that I haven't posted for awhile. I don't have a good excuse, other than a lot was going on in August and blogging slipped through the cracks, along with other things like cooking and cleaning. 

I wanted to share my 19-year-old daughter, Anna's, project. I dragged her to a quilt show last fall. Very interesting but these quilters were light years ahead of my beginner quilting skills. To our great surprise, Anna won the door prize of a Jelly Roll and backing fabric. 

I might not have the terminology right. A Jelly Roll, as I understand it, which means I could easily be wrong, is a roll of pre-cut three inch wide strips that can be assembled into a quilt.

The plan was for Anna to make a quilt for her new niece. First Anna needed to learn how to sew. She caught on pretty quick. I pinned, she sewed, and Lani pressed the seams. 

Anna got busy and the quilt lay unfinished for months until Cailin's birth motivated her to give it another go. 

She was inspired by this picture we found on Pinterest. 

After Cailin's arrival, Anna went on a sewing binge. She wanted an appliqued heart instead of a flower. I had never appliqued before so was thankful for Pinterest tutorials. She took the finished quilt top to a local printing place and had them embroider Cailin's name on the quilt. 

I took over from there, dismayed to find the embroidery had pulled the heart tight so the edges were fraying. I restitched the heart a few times (any real quilters reading this will most likely shudder at our quilting greenness and mistakes.)

Here's the finished product. It's pretty big so she'll be able to use it for a few years. 

The name shows up better in this picture. 

We didn't mean to sew a cross but think it's fun that one showed up.

I'm dragging Amy and Lani to this year's quilt show this Friday, hoping lightning strikes twice and we win another door prize.