Crazy Fall Days

Life has been kind of crazy around here since I last posted. I started a new job at the end of  October, which makes my days much busier. For the first few weeks, I would literally get O to school, head off to work, pick O up and then finally get home just in time for dinner most days. We were able to enjoy some of the beginning of fall though, even going to a cider making party one day. We’ve also been able to enjoy seeing lots of fall colors again after barely seeing any during the last ten years. Then there is the family of deer that regularly comes into our yard. We’ve been seeing them since springtime, but this is the first time I have been able to get good pictures.

Backyard

The berry bushes are slowly being removed.

The end of October also brought our first official guests. It as lots of fun to show the house property to our friends while they were in town. We enjoyed spending time with them again and hearing how much the love what we are doing both inside and out. After that we were able to plant some trees and bushes where G had already cleared lots of berry bushes. We are finally able to see the ravine that runs through our property and all the trees close to the house. After that we had to get ready for a visit from G’s mother this past week. We ended that by having an early Thanksgiving with G’s cousin and his family who live close while my mother-in-law was able to join us. Now we can start getting back to projects for a few weeks until we rest a little for Christmas.

Outdoor Fireplace

Now we can enjoy nights on our porch!

This project is my birthday present from G. His idea of gifts are generally projects that he knows I will appreciate. This will probably go down as one of the top three projects he ever makes for me. We’ve already been able to enjoy the warmth from the fire in the evening. I’m sure we will be able to do so for at least most of the next month. Hopefully it will provide enough warmth to use it year round.

So far this holiday season is starting out to be the most enjoyable and least stressful one that we have had in years. It feels a little weird to say that while living in a house that is in various degrees of demolition or renovation, but it is true. Our life is so much calmer no that we live in a much smaller city and can enjoy nature again. I’ll leave you with some more pictures of deer and fall colors to enjoy.

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#whyshestayed, #metoo

 

Today’s Monday Musing is a combo post on Domestic Violence and Sexual Harassment/Abuse. With all the talk about sexual harassment on social media and the news right now, I wanted to address it a little. I also wanted to talk a little about the #whyshestayed conversation that was going on a few years ago as I think that there are similarities between that conversation and the current #metoo conversation.

I’ll start by saying that sexual abuse and domestic abuse are often interconnected. It is not uncommon for an abuser to practice a form of sexual harassment. Many abusers limit their partners attire due to perceived sexual misconduct. Many of them also accuse their partners of things like flirting as a reason for the abuse.  Many abusers also are sexually abusive, ie: don’t take no for an answer. Obviously, domestic violence is different from sexual harassment as it happens in a committed relationship instead of just any relationship, but I strongly believe that the incidences of both happening are interconnected. If we don’t acknowledge sexual harassment as a culture, then why are we surprised that people don’t want to acknowledge domestic violence?

The other thing I believe is significant when it comes to the interconnection between Sexual Harassment/Abuse and Domestic Violence is how we react to the victims coming forward. In both cases, many people are afraid to come forward because they know that they will have to be on the defensive even though they DID NOTHING WRONG. NO ONE ever asks for any kind of harassment or abuse. NO ONE asks to feel shameful or like they are only valued for their sexuality. NO ONE asks to be hit or ridiculed because they wore something that made them feel good or smiled at someone who was nice to them. Yes, women (and men) might dress in clothes that some consider revealing or flirtatious, but that does not mean that someone has to the right to treat them like a sex object. e all have different ideas of what is considered sexual attire. For some people, it is exactly the opposite of most peoples idea of  revealing. For others, it is as simple as an outfit that fits well. Abusers and harassers generally don’t need any more provocation that someone who fits their idea of a victim.

I do believe there are some ways we can help change these realities for the next generations though. As the mother of two daughters, the first one I firmly believe in is to STOP expecting our teenage girls to do things that to keep teenage boys from noticing them. It is NOT a teenage girls responsibility to keep her male counterparts from noticing her breasts, whatever size they might be. It is also virtually impossible for her to do that, as there actually is a scientific reason for a pubescent male to react to that. Believe it or not, the sexual urges that most experience for the first time in adolescent EXIST TO KEEP OUR SPECIES ALIVE. We can teach our children, male and female, how to respect each other, though. The best way to do that is to practice that same kind of respect for ALL of our counterparts, regardless of GENDER. When we teach our children to feel shameful of their bodies, or genders, we keep the cycle of harassment and abuse going. If we teach them that one gender is better or more powerful than the other, we create the believe that they do not deserve the same level of respect as someone else. When we judge someone for how they dress instead of their brain or heart, we create the idea that gender is what gives you power. Ironically, if we were to look at which gender is biologically more powerful, it would probably be females. They may not be physically stronger, but they generally have higher pain thresholds, live longer, and multitask more efficiently than men, and oh yeah, we are still essential in creating the next generation.

I hate to say it, but honestly, is it really men that keep things like abuse and harassment going, or is it women? If we were to really take the time to focus on who judges women more for how they dress or how they act around the opposite sex, would it really be men, or would it be mostly women? I don’t believe I actually know a man who would ever say that a woman asked to be harassed or abused because of how she looked. Maybe, it’s just that I have mostly known men that actually respect women, or maybe we don’t give most men nearly enough credit. Obviously, there are those men out there who feel a need to harass or abuse women, but are they really the majority?

In closing, I ask everyone, no matter their gender to treat others with respect and dignity. I also ask everyone to talk to each other, and maybe even more importantly to their children about what respect really means. The more we stay silent and keep these things secret, the more they will continue.

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The Unseen Victims of Domestic Violence

This post will talk more about the unseen victims of Domestic Violence. These victims rarely get talked about or make headlines, but they are victims nonetheless. Some of these victims are doing their jobs, some are trying to help, and some are related to either the abuser or the victim.

I’m going to start by touching a little more on the children who grow up witnessing domestic violence. Last time, I touched on the ways that kids from abusive relationships often have messed up relationships themselves. Even when they end up in a healthy relationship, most children who witness abuse suffer with mental health problems at some point in their lives. Depression, eating disorders, addiction, and suicide are all more common among the children of victims or abusers. When you grow up around abuse, you often have a hard time trusting people, especially in relationships. It can also be very hard to trust or express your own emotions, especially anger. Children who grow up in abusive situations are more likely to end up in abusive relationships themselves, which often leads to more children growing up around abuse. Even when children from an abusive relationship are in a healthy one of their own, it is often hard for them to believe they are safe.

That leads me into other family members and friends of the victim or abuser. Whether they are connected to the victim or the abuser or both, they are still affected by the abusive relationship. Sometimes it is because they lose their loved one either temporarily or permanently because of the abuse. Other times it is because they have to make a choice between what they believe is right or wrong. After learning the truth about an abusive relationship, family and friends have to face many new realities. Sometimes that means that they get their friend or family member back, but the relationship will never be completely the same. If they lose their loved one permanently, they may suffer from mental health problems as well. When a victim with children is killed, it can also affect both sides of the surviving children’s families as they try to figure out how to keep those children in their lives and safe. Again, whether permanently or not, it is also possible for friends or family members to become victims of the abuser themselves if they try to help their loved one.

That leads to the next set of unseen victims I would like to discuss. These victims can be anyone who tries to help, whether because it is their job or not. Police Officers, and EMTS are the two most likely victims when an abusive relationship reaches its boiling point, but anyone who gets in the way of an abuser can also become a victim at that point. It could easily be a friend or family member who tries to help the victim leave, or even a stranger who takes on the abuser. Counselors, social workers, or shelter employees are also at high risk of becoming innocent victims as they help the victim get away.

The final unseen victims that I will talk about are definitely the most controversial ones, they are the abusers themselves. Whether it is through incarceration or death, abusers can end up as victims of the abusive relationship. Although incarceration may be appropriate, it affects abusers in multiple ways. While an abuser is incarcerated, they are at greater risk of being killed by other inmates than the general prison population. If they are released, not only will they have a felony on their record which affects job prospects, but they are likely to have lost friends and loved ones due to their crimes as well. The death of an abuser may be the only way to resolve the situation, whether through self defense or police action, but it is still a death.

 

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Who Is Affected By Domestic Violence?

One of the first things that I believe needs to happen when it comes to understanding Domestic Violence is to understand who is affected by Domestic Violence. I will start by saying that although I am mostly focusing on the female and young victims of Domestic Violence, men can also victims of Domestic Violence.

I’m sure we all think we have an idea of the type of women who ends up in an abusive relationship. I won’t try to guess what any of you picture when you think of a victim of domestic violence. Everybody’s preconceived notions of the women who end up being abused are going to be influenced by their own life experiences. Some of you will picture someone who is poor, and some of you will picture someone who is rich. It’s possible you will only see a woman from a minority, while others of you will only picture a Caucasian women. Most of you will probably think of someone who is insecure or emotionally weak. Others of you will know that even strong women can be victims of abuse. You might think you would have to be stupid to stay with someone who abuses you, or you might realize that high intelligence can also be a weapon that an abuser uses against you. None of those are right, but none of them are wrong either.

There is no stereotypical abuse victim. Women of all races, and all socioeconomic levels, and religions can be victims of abuse. Your intelligence level does not protect you from abuse, nor does it set you up for abuse. Women who are strong, either physically or emotionally, can still end up being involved in abusive relationships. For some abusers, a strong victim becomes a challenge. For  others, a victims confidence can make the abuser feel more insecure, causing them to use emotional abuse to keep the victim from leaving.  Abuse exists across all socioeconomic levels because stress is generally prevalent reason for abuse. Sometimes, that is because of other substances that the abuser uses putting them in an emotional state that they can’t handle. Sometimes, it is the way the abuser deals with their stress, and other times, the abusers blame their victims for everything wrong in their lives. From the outside, it is always hard to understand why someone becomes and stays a victim of abuse.

Growing up around abuse can make you more susceptible to being in an abusive relationship yourself, but it can also teach what you don’t want in a relationship. An example of that would be me and my own 2 siblings. We all grew up watching what I would classify as an emotionally, and mildly physically abusive relationship. Out of the 3 of us, one of my siblings ended up in a very similar relationship to our parents, one of my siblings ended up in a relationship that in the beginning was very dysfunctional and heading toward potentially being abusive, and I ended up in a strong, healthy relationship after realizing that many of the things I saw growing up and was starting to do would destroy my relationship. All three of us grew up in the same household, and with the same parents, but due to things like age and gender differences, we all saw their relationship differently.

That leads me to the people who I can consider to be the ultimate victims of domestic violence, children. I would never say that anyone asks to be in an abusive relationship, but children aren’t given a choice nor can they leave on their own normally. Children who grow up watching abusive relationships learn many things about relationships. Sometimes, it leads them to continue the cycle, and sometimes it helps them realize that they want something better. Most of the time, it teaches them to be afraid in one form or another, especially if the abuse leads to the end of the relationship whether through divorce or an unfortunate death. It can also teach them not to trust their own feelings or even that their feelings don’t matter. All of these things often lead children from abusive relationships to have a hard time figuring out how to have a strong, healthy relationship themselves.

There are more victims of domestic violence that I will talk about in a future post. I think of them as the unseen victims. They too can come from either race, religion or socioeconomic level, they just get forgotten about even more quickly than those who are actively involved in abusive relationships.

 

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31 Days of Purple

This Monday Musings and all of them throughout October post are going to be a little different than my normal posts. That is because I am very passionate about raising awareness about Domestic Violence. Most people are not aware that October is not just Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One of the ways that you could look at it is that October is really Keep Women Healthy Month, since most people who are affected by both Domestic Violence and Breast Cancer are women.

The statistics indicate that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. I have known at least 3 of those women already in my life, and possibly more. That is why I have chosen to do what I can to help raise awareness. One of the ways I do that is by wearing purple in some noticeable way everyday in October. For the last 3 years, I have also died my hair purple for October. Although it may not seem like very much, even just doing that has helped start the conversation we desperately need to be having about Domestic Violence.

There will be random posts throughout October to help raise awareness, and all of my Monday Musings posts this month will be focused on domestic violence. Although I do not plan to make this blog into a fashion blog, I might post pictures of my hair and outfits along with facts about Domestic Violence as well this month. I hope that maybe by doing so I can help continue the conversation about Domestic Violence.

Laura

 

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The ‘joys’ of Remodeling

Since we are slightly crazy, instead of being deterred by a house where the finished floors had been removed almost everywhere, G and I saw it as an opportunity to install radiant heat. Ever since G installed radiant heat at a friends house around 15 years ago, he has wanted to have it in his own house. This house seemed like a great place to do that, both because of the lack of flooring and also our relatively mild climate.  Both of those reasons still exist, but unfortunately we have had to make some changes to our original plan for how to go about doing it.

The original plan was for G to install the tubing and then finish the floors throughout the lower level room by room. Obviously, there were going to be a few issues with that plan, but since we got rid of a lot of our furniture before moving, it didn’t seem that bad. Due to having plywood subfloors and a crawl space instead of slab on grade, we are limited to using certain kinds of concrete to cover the tubing with. Unfortunately, the companies that make those products will only sell to the companies that they have chosen to partner with. What that means for us is that to do radiant heating, it is now only cost effective to have all the concrete poured at once. That means that for at least a week, we will not be able to use the lower level of our house like we normally would as G puts down the tubing and then the concrete goes in and cures.

It also means that until we are ready to do that during summertime, we will be living with subfloor, and that our house will still be in significant disarray until while we wait to replace the pieces of furniture we left behind. Since we live a place that is often wet or muddy for most of fall, winter, and spring, we also have to figure out how to keep the floors from getting ruined between now and then. Luckily, we do still have tile throughout the hallway and kitchen, so we have at least one easy surface to clean. Now we just have to figure out if there is anything we can do with the subfloors that won’t end up either costing very much or being problematic when we put the tubing in. We have a few ideas, but need to do more research to see if they are actually viable.

Even though it is very frustrating to have this setback, there are a few positives to this development. One is that at least this time around we don’t have any toddlers living in the house to make it even harder to keep the floors clean. Another one is that since the floors will be finished by more experienced concrete people, we might like the concrete floors enough to just go with them. It also means that we have at least the next six months to explore flooring options which is very good because G can be incredibly picky.

Since it has been less than a year since we replaced all the carpet in our old house before putting it on the market, I am definitely not thrilled about going through something like that again. Experiences like this are the main reason I keep telling G that I am going to die in this house. We are both getting too old to go through another major remodel after this one. It’s a very good thing that making a house our own actually brings G and I closer together instead of tearing us apart.

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Living Room Plans

Living and Dining

Original Layout

When we originally bought the house, we planned to knock down both the wall between the formal living and dining rooms and the one between the dining room and kitchen, and make it into one big open great room. G thought that with the dining and formal living rooms having both south and west facing windows it would always be full of light. After living in the house for awhile, we discovered that surprisingly that is not the case. The only thing we can come up with is that it is due to the roof of our wraparound porch.

Because of that, we decided to change our plans and instead make the dining and formal living rooms into one big open living room. We also plan to add French Doors when we redo the exterior in the future. With it being right off the kitchen, we decided that it makes sense to have easy access to the porch from the living room as well. We hope it will be good for entertaining in the future.

Wall between Living and Dining

Living and Dining Original Framing

The first order of business after getting the drywall off was to take out the weird slanted soffit in the dining room. Then we had to move the plumbing, electrical and HVAC which unfortunately meant cutting into more drywall. After all that was done it was time to make our temporary wall so we could install the new beam.

After putting in the temporary wall and cutting down the old one, we were ready to put in the new beam.

Once we had the beam in we could take down the temporary wall. It was amazing to finally see the new space. We think it makes a lot more sense now than it did before. We have never understood why anyone needed a formal living room, especially in a house with an office as well. Now that the room is twice the size, we have a lot more freedom in the overall design and planning of the room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Wider entryway

Although we decided not to get rid of the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms, we did want to open up the entryway, so G had the idea to use the beam from the old wall to accomplish that.

The next step in the project is to put the drywall back up. Hopefully, that will actually happen soon.

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Moving Part 2

 

In my last Monday Musings post, I talked about my experience of moving a lot during childhood, and also chronicled the moves that G and I have done since getting married. I had planned to write more about the emotions connected to moving, but as often happens in my life, I got a little sidetracked. I’m going to try to stay focused on the emotions of moving with this post.

Fear-I haven’t had a move where fear wasn’t a significant factor since I was two years old. It’s always scary to pick up your life and leave everything behind. Even when life is hard and causing you pain or frustration, there is an element of fear when you leave it all behind. There is no real way to know whether a move will make things better or worse. Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, though,  it can be used to help us to figure out what we really want out of life.

Excitement-Generally, I feel at least a little excited whenever I move. It can be very exciting to thing about ho your life will be different in your new place. It can also be very exciting to explore new places, and meet new people. Sometimes that excitement can be a bad thing, though. I know people who seem to be addicted to that kind of excitement, who need it to feel alive. Sometimes we get caught up in that excitement to avoid dealing with the things in our life that are hard or scary. That cycle can be very hard to stop, so I advise against starting it if at all possible.

Sadness-Every move I can remember has involved a certain amount of sadness, even the ones that I desperately needed to make. For me, the moves that needed to happen have actually been the hardest. I find it incredibly sad to feel like there is nothing truly connecting you to a place and time in your life. It’s definitely sad to leave behind friends, family, and a place you love, but at least you will have happy memories. When you leave a place that you have no connection to, it can feel like that part of your life was wasted and that you can never get it back.

Growth-Anytime you make a significant move, it is an opportunity for growth. It doesn’t matter whether it is a completely new place where you don’t know anyone or if you are moving back to your hometown. In a new place, you can start over and be someone different if you want to. When you move back to your hometown, you are bringing with you all the experiences you had while you were away. Whether or not a move lives up to your expectations, it will still offer a chance for growth.

To move or not to move-If you are questioning whether or not to make a significant move, I suggest looking at how all these emotions are influencing you. For a move to be successful they should generally be felt equally. That isn’t to say that sometimes your need to move isn’t more important that the emotions involved. For a move like that is important to remember why you are doing it. It may be because of a job, or it could be because the need to start over is greater than anything else, but it won’t be successful if you don’t remember why you are making the move in the first place. Regardless of why you move, try to remember that life takes time. Most people don’t make a big move, and automatically feel like life is perfect. Moving is hard and stressful, but can also give you more than you ever anticipated if you let it.

moving-away-quote-1-picture-quote-1

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Sewing Table Project

I have always loved the look of antique sewing machines and their tables. There are multiple reasons for that. One of them is that I absolutely love wood and metal together. I also love the craftsmanship that was put into so many things back then. Hundred year old sewing machines were both practical and decorative back then. They may not have been able to do nearly as much as the current ones do, but with their intricate metalwork and paint jobs, they could help make a lackluster room feel more upscale. The fact that the majority of intact vintage sewing machines are still functional today is a testament to the pride and workmanship that went into them as well.  I think what I love most about them, though, is that when I look at one, I feel connected to my great grandmother even more. My great grandmother, Nellie, will always be one of my greatest influences. She may not have been the one who taught me how to sew, but when I sew I feel that connection again. I also feel it when I play Gin Rummy, but that is a story for another day.

Table Project

Table Project

That is why when I saw this table at my local Habitat Restore for a reasonable price, I had to get it. The picture above is actually after I had already cut off the damaged lip and started the sanding process, but it should give you an idea of what I was working with. The top of the table wasn’t in really bad shape, there were a couple of water stains and a cherry stain that hadn’t aged very well, but it was nothing that sanding and refinishing wouldn’t fix.

Table Top partially sanded

Table Top partially sanded

After completing the sanding and trying the remove the peeling laminate off the sides, I decided to paint them black to match the base of the table. After they were done, it was time to refinish the top. I wanted the grain of the wood to stand out while still being able to have a functional table that would only need minimal upkeep, so I went with a wipe on poly for the finish. Before doing that, I cleaned the top with mineral spirits to get rid of dust. Then I put on five coats of satin poly. I wasn’t able to completely get rid of the water stains, but I think it looks beautiful now. Now I just need a place to put it in the house. I’ll still probably keep looking for a vintage sewing table complete with machine and drawers, but those are generally more money than I want to spend, so it may never happen.

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Moving

Merriam Webster has multiple definitions for move/moving. These are the two I am referring to today: b :  to start away from some point or place  c :  to change one’s residence or location. 

I should start by explaining that during my childhood I moved 10 times, and lived in multiple different climates and types of locations. I have lived in large cities, small cities, towns with only one stoplight, and even overseas. For most of my life, when people asked me where I was from my response was usually nowhere and everywhere. That would usually lead to a conversation about why I moved so much. Unlike many people who moved often throughout childhood, I am not a military brat. I do refer to myself as a government brat, due to my father working for the federal government which often impacted our moves. As an adult, I learned that both of my parents also moved a lot as children, again not because of the military. I am sure that impacted their willingness to move their family around regularly.

G, on the other hand, lived in the same small town until he met me. As newlyweds, we moved from that state to a neighboring state. That move was not very successful, which might explain why we bought our first house in the country outside the town he grew up in. We might have stayed there forever if it hadn’t been for two factors. One was a wintertime car accident that made me want to go to a warmer/less icy climate. The other was the beginning of a steadily declining job market in the area. The first couple years of that move was very hard for G as he both adjusted to a new location and living in a rental house again. Before buying our second house, G also had a 45 minute commute which was hard on both of us, especially with young children.

During the early parts of our marriage, I routinely said I wanted my children to be able to have the kind of childhood that G had, and that I didn’t. I wanted them to be able to have most of the same friends throughout school. My plan had always been for my children to have the opposite of my upbringing. I had known many people in my early life, but can’t really say that most of them are my friends. I didn’t want my children to have that reality, I wanted them to have the kind of friends that G had, ones who knew each others lives. With both of the two significant moves my family has made, that has been my biggest concern. J did get to go through most of her school career with the same group of kids, but she still didn’t end up with most of them being her friends in adulthood. O spent the first half of her school career with the same group of kids, but didn’t have any really good friends until the year before we moved.

All of the things I talk about above influenced our desire to make our most recent, and hopefully last move. The main city and suburbs where we lived were also growing at astronomical rates, causing the area to become very crowded, and also more dangerous in multiple ways. The most significant things we were looking for though were a slower pace of life and a different climate that would allow us to grow things again. That climate does bring some irritations with it, but it is still much more moderate than where G grew up.

Although I am glad that we made the move, it was definitely that hardest move I have made in more than 20 years. This move was really only the second move where I left a place that had started to feel like home. It seems to be a very good move for all of us though. J and D both found better jobs doing things they love since moving. G has not only found his dream job, but is also looking forward to when we get the outside projects started during the next year. O is loving living in a place where things grow so easily, and feels like she fits in much better with her classmates here. I am still largely focused on getting things settled, but am looking forward to what the future has to hold.

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