Category Archives: life

The Best Day Ever!

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Spoiler alert! If you haven’t see the new Star Wars don’t read this because it has nothing but spoilers in it. And elated¬†enthusiasm sprinkled with gushings of affection and ravings of a proud mama.

After far too many months since my last visit, I finally got a chance to see my kids in Memphis. Kelly and I usually make this a day trip since they are so close (but spending the night would be spectacular too). I was having serious Riley withdrawals. Jeremy’s work put him out of town a couple times, forcing us to postpone our visit. This weekend was THE trip and it was fantastic, stupendous, out of this world.

The day was astonishingly beautiful to start with. We watched the sun appear out over the horizon as it peeked through the swampland of eastern Arkansas.

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Driving past the flooded fields of this part of the state at this time of day is so breathtaking, stunning.

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After passing several trucks parked at the edge of the river and several odd bodies of water, all with a thin layer of ice coating them, mind you, we figured out what we were looking at.

Ducks!

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Lots and lots of ducks! It’s duck hunting season. It’s amazing how many were in the sky and in the water on the ground. Flooded fields fed scores of them. We take this route several times a year, but never at this season. How awesome to see this force of nature at work. Hundreds of birds migrating.

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Some of the scenery was just plain breathtaking. I’ve always wanted to take a shot like this. Perfect!

A beautiful start to a perfect day with these awesome people!

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We didn’t have any specific plans for the day. Just going to hang and visit and eat and play. Open some presents.

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and make Gramma beg to get him to face the camera.

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This weekend is the opening of the most anticipated, long awaited, stupendous movie of the decade…

STAR WARS!!

Jeremy had the great fortune to go see it the day before. That meant he couldn’t say a single word about it except that it was spectacular. The man came up with the brilliant idea we go see Star Wars! What about our baby, Riley? Jeremy would take care of our little sweetie. The rest of us were pumped! Me, I have wanted to see this movie with my son since I found out about its creation. Jeremy is the biggest Star Wars nerd ever. I created him. I saw all the movies when they hit the theaters all those years ago, Return of the Jedi six times. I bought him all the Star Wars toys I could afford and Nani bought the rest of the toys. This kid loves everything Star Wars.

We ate some lunch before the show and then off we went.

This movie delivered everything I expected and more! I loved it. They maintained the same feel and integrity of the original movies. The same type of thrilling fight scenes and space battles excited us. I don’t care if anyone thinks it might be redundant. Cleaver scenes and quips tiee into the older movies, making us react in response. Those of us who KNOW those movies love that stuff. I loved seeing the new crew peer out from under the grate inside the Mellinnium Falcon just as they did in the first movie. And when Rey pulled out a piece of electronics and said she fixed the (I can’t remember what it’s called) it was always broken in the second movie. She bypassed it! I wanted to clap for joy.

This movie has endearing robots and dark, scary bad guys and mysterious, mystical powers. Of course they kill off our favorite character. But! My all time favorite character shows up at the end – Luke. He looked awesome as an old man.

This movie delivers all the trappings of a fantastic epic saga. Thank you JJ Abrams for a movie I can’t wait to see again.

That’s my little piece of heaven and it’s a huge piece for me!

Love,

Jeannene

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Schmidt Family Reunion 2015

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This month Kelly and I celebrated our phenomenal family at our family reunion in Reading, Michigan. It’s the first reunion Kelly has ever attended and the first one in twenty years for her mother (a horrible example of family togetherness on my part). We had the BEST time of our lives!

I caught up with my cousins who enriched my life as a kid and Kelly found out there are a ton of people she is attached to at a deeper level than any other person on this earth besides her immediate family. And imagine this… they care for her just as much. She has longed to know her extended family and they are every bit as hilarious and crazy and fun and caring as she hoped.

We roomed with these wonderful, wacky people…
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These are the Frank Schmidt’s. My dad was one of eight kids and these are a good sampling of his prodigy.
I hope to God we didn’t shame him. (Highly unlikely). Dad helped institute a new family tradition with his two brothers, Tom and Gerry. It is now continued by Jamie Schmidt and Billy Caverly…. The Martini Club.

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I was too soused to get a really good photo document of this momentous event, but believe me when I tell you we honored our heroes valiantly with some damn good gin and recounting of the best memories. Love you Dad.

We were honored by the presence of the three remaining matriarchs of our family. The vibrant and vivacious Mary Schmidt, Emmy Caverly and Pat Smith.

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These ladies are incredible.

The camp we were at offered loads of fun activities. One of them was a giant rope swing. Easy peasy for Kelly.

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And here she is on the high ropes. This looks easy, but she is 40 feet off the ground. It is freaking scary!

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And hard as heck.

We enjoyed the company of some incredible people. I hope to post more detailed pictures. Heck, I took about 800 shots through out the weekend.

After the reunion we spent a few days in East Tawas. We couldn’t stay without capturing a few special pictures of my girl on the lake.

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We hung out with my mom and my sister (no good pics of Liz… sorry) and my nephew Sean. He and Kelly had a blast.

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Can’t believe how incredible the time we had and how much we enjoyed every moment, every person, every experience.

Happy Summer you all!!

Love
Jeannene

Weekly Remedy – Chicken Soup

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Winter is upon us. Cold, wet, cold and really cold. It’s the flu season. Stuffy noses and coughs, congested chests… feeling miserable. The best defense against the illnesses of the season is simple.

Chicken soup.

There is something about chicken soup that shortens the life span of the common cold and/or a bout of the flu.

My favorite recipe is the one Pioneer Woman gives us.

Ingredients
1 whole Chicken
1 whole Bay Leaf
64 ounces, fluid Unsalted (or Low Sodium) Chicken Broth (you May Use Half Broth And Half Water If Desired.)
1 whole Large Onion, Chopped
3 whole Ribs Of Celery, Sliced
3 whole Carrots, Peeled And Chopped
3 whole Parsnips, Peeled And Chopped
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Ground Black Pepper
Preparation Instructions
Place all ingredients but the pepper into a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until chicken is done, vegetables are tender, and soup flavor is divine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve in a bowl, then sprinkle black pepper over the top.
*Note: Adjust broth levels and/or vegetable amounts as needed.

Thank you Ree for your gift of food.

If you eat this before, during and in the middle of your cold or flu, your illness will get better faster. Truly. Really.

Give it a try.

Nena

The New Year is Indeed Looking Bright!

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The New Year always holds such promises of hope and excitement. Fresh beginnings and the fulfillment of dreams is always my wish for my kids. I set my own goals for the year, but they are fluid and easily attainable, provided I actually apply myself. But my hopes for my kids are more important. I want for them what we all want… happiness and all their dreams come true. I pray for them every day.

This week I heard from two of the three not living at home. WHoo hooo!! Aaron has been struggling for the past year and a half with a severe health issue and a financial setback. The health issue was addressed and he is recovering beautifully. He started a fantastic new job this week. It will help him put his life back together. I am so grateful my Heavenly Father hears prayers. This young man has so much to give the world and he got a little side tracked, as most of us do. Now the world will stand in awe to have him back in it full force! Bless you son.

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Ben also called this week to tell us he’s thinking he’d like to transfer to Russellville campus (Arkansas Tech) next semester and finish his degree there. He’s at Fayetteville U of A right now and making a great go of it, but he is not in his comfort zone. The move itself was traumatic, this being the first time Ben had ever been away from home. The Tech campus is closer to home and both he and his roommate are considering the move so they can keep rooming together. Great teamwork if you ask me.

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Kelly completed a series of tests this week that give her a full scholarship to a local community college. She is beyond happy and releaved. Her plan to fund tuition is not a cramped as originally conceived. Her college dream really can be a reality. I’m so proud of her.

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I’m so proud of all of them. Life is hard and the challenges insurmountable at times, but we try to equip them to face them head on and not back down. My babies are beautiful people and strong souls.

I love you all. (That’s my mom with them. She is the glue.)

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Thank you for sharing my little piece of heaven because it wouldn’t be heaven without them.

Love,
Jeannene

End of Summer Stuff

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Whew! Long time since the last post. After our exceptional vacation we’ve been so busy. One of our things this summer was to make a decent senior picture for Kelly. This involved evaluating the weather, the time of day, the shade, angle of the sun, the location and Lord knows what else. We have this down to a semi-science by now. Lots of locations with several props in these.
Be warned. Excessive pictures follow.

After all the lake pictures we thought we needed some good ole Arkansas woods content.

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Great lighting this day.

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With some sturdy trees…

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And lots of underbrush…

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Cooper, of course, is our ever present helper, companion, best bud. We don’t do anything without that little guy. We loooovvve Cooper.

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And… in the midst of summer bloom, I had to get some of that vibrancy on film.

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This was just the bottom of the photo mountain. Take a gander at this sampling.

Lots of props… Have to have one with her gun… a real country girl.

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We can’t forget the girl with her guitar either. Have to say she looks like a natural and of course there are ton of these.

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With another close up. She hates my close ups, but I love ’em and I’m the one with the camera. Call me the camera boss.

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Not to be forgotten… a vehicle as a backdrop.

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More guitar shots. Love the late day light with her on this pasture.

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Great smile!

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Have to a ‘come hither’ shot to counter the ‘leaving’ shot.

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And another one of those cursed close ups. I didn’t touch these up, the light is funky, but I love that smile.

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The last backdrop is our old tractor. Finally found a decent use for the old guy. She really dresses him up!

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One last shot.

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After flicking through all these, do you have any idea of my pain? An hour and a half of juggling the light and a prop here and there started taking its toll on my pleasant demeanor. Somewhere in these hundreds of shots is a perfect senior picture – Kelly’s call. I love them all.

Thanks for sharing in another small tidbit of my little piece of heaven. You can see it around my girl. All shot on our farm.

Love,
Jeannene

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Our Last Day … Loads of Fun

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This was our last day. Four hours of it disappeared on the “fetch the rental car” expedition. A really nice drive to Bay City, but all the same, used up time. Kelly was stir crazy waiting on us and my poor mom was in her chair. We ran her ragged this week. Movie watching was all she had the energy for.

We gathered up Cooper, put on our walking shoes and talked Dad into driving us to the beach-bay-lake. It was time for a walk and Cooper was part of it, though the early morning ride in the car made his day already.

The walk through the city park, a beach side venue, started very nicely. That was until I hit a patch of shade. Yikes! Cold!! The temperature had barely warmed from the day before. The sun was out, but a brisk breeze still kissed our fannies with every step we took.

Shivering through every shady spot we passed we finally made it to the marina/pier.

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Cooper was all frisky and perky still.

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Because his favorite thing to do is scratch and scratch and scratch his back and head on the wonderfully rough texture of ever-loving, marvelously simple concrete.

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Even here he was pulling at the leash. Kelly kept wanting to carry him, thinking his little legs had worn out already.

That was until we took a good look at the trek back. This is a loong pier. You don’t realize how far you’ve walked until you look back down to the return trip.

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I think Cooper felt the same way… his legs gave out before the end of the pier. We can tell because his tongue starts hanging out and he starts lagging behind.

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By the time we reached the last 100 ft of the walk way he was totally wiped. What a wuss. Short legs just aren’t conducive to long walks. See his tongue hanging out? Notice his limp little body? Pooped out.

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And then Kelly took a liking to this craft. It’s half the size of the ones we walked past, but every bit as nice.

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Then, because this was our last day and we hadn’t had enough of the lake or the water, cold as it was, we decided to do something exciting and reckless and dangerous. Did I mention reckless. It was scary to me.

We rented a skidoo thingy and ran the waves on Lake Huron. Geared up …

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… and hit the water. Did I forget to say I have to drive since I’m over 18 yrs? Yep, that’s me in the front. I wasn’t thrilled. I’m the girl who watches her kids as THEY ride the roller coaster. I live vicariously, I tell you. I don’t require first hand thrills. But here I am about to live the thrill. Bob watched Cooper and I had to drive. *shivers*

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Very tame here, on idle as we exit the marina.

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Then it was …. did I mention scary? The water was the deepest navy blue I’ve ever seen directly below me. I gunned it gradually. Then Kelly MADE me gun it again. We went 35mph easy over the surface of that fathomless bay, water spraying in our faces, the wind whipping around us. We traveled at least three or four miles along the shore… off in the deep area. Then we doubled back, skirting the shallower edge so I wouldn’t freak out over the dark, dark blue waters. Water sprayed us and we dried off in the brisk air as we sailed over the waves. I almost got comfortable. Almost.

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Then I glanced at the watch they gave me. We were only ten minutes into our hour.

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Twenty more minutes was all I could stomach. Not to mention my throttle fingers kept falling asleep. Not a desirable attribute for a skidoo operator.

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I couldn’t wait to idle us back into the marina.

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Does that look like a stupid grin on my face? Why, hell yes it is! There are no words to describe the relief pulsing through me as I made my way slowly to the dock. I think I’m getting too old for this kind of excitement. But… this will keep me young.

For the most part, this was an exhilarating day. It was still pretty chilly out there, but the way the skin on my face tingled from wind burn and the sun made me feel alive. And that is always worth the buzz it gives.

Bless you for enduring the updates of my vacation. I hoped to impart some my joy. Thank you for sharing in my little piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Day Three in a Michigan Breeze

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Wednesday started out cool… cold by Arkansas standards, and down right cool by Michigan standards. A brisk breeze blew off the bay, but the sun peeped in and out of fluffs of clouds. In the forecast, rain for the afternoon. No time waste for the day.

We took off for a bike ride first thing in the morning. A ride along the beach path was inviting, having never done it before. Kelly and I straddled those bikes like we did it every day and took off with Mom to the lake. It was a great ride.

We made sure we wore the appropriate clothing.

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The bay was quiet and calm. Quite a sight for a country girl unaccustomed to large expanses of water.

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We stopped into the local coffee shop/java hut and had a real cuppa in a real mug (mine was mocha, of course). Very gemutlich.

We had the sun on our side and still enough time to beat the weather. Then we dressed and packed up and made for the beach. Today was senior picture shoot day. I took a boat load of pictures. A few turned out really great. Here are a smattering.

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The wind blew and the sun winked at us from between and behind the clouds. I knelt in the wet sand and the cold water sloshed over my bare feet as I snapped a LOT of pics. But as you can see, the subject was exceptional. Then Cooper barked at us incessantly.

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We took more pics along the cold beach in the biting wind.

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And Cooper kept up his notes of displeasure. More barking and barking.

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We called it a day. It time to find shelter from the afternoon rains. Thank goodness for diligence. It really rained a lot this afternoon.

Thanks for sharing my little piece of heaven today. It really was a piece of heaven.

Love,
Jeannene

Good Times

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To my shame I forgot all about writing this post. Lifeinteruptus caught me up in its vortex. (That will be in another blog.)

In October my daughter and I took a day for girl’s night out. We had a blast!! We went to Luke Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries tour. It must be said… we are huge country music fans and Luke Bryan is the guy whose song dragged me into the country genre. (I was a closet classical music fanatic for a long time.) When I heard “I don’t want this night to end” I was hooked. There is a line in the song… “You’ve got your hands up, you’re rocking in my truck…” that threw me back in time to my 18-year-old self. I remember doing that. It is a powerful memory.

At any rate, we made this a girls night out. We started with an excellent meal at a local Italian spot. It has a top rate atmosphere, especially on the porch where we braved the fall breezes.

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Whoops! Wine. Drinking with my minor… It was a tasty Moscato. An excellent

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Sorry. Just like to put this girl up. She dresses up any place. Though this spot was fun all by itself.

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A selfie is in order here… barely. Probably the influence of the wine.

My hubby insisted we indulge in a great place to spend the night. Great room with a view of the Arkansas River.

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Us actually at the concert… this is the last shot of either of us because our attention is consumed by music. (The pictures stink because they are off my cell phone, by small camera died two days before this event.)

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First on is Florida Georgia Line… awesomeness in pants.

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Next on is Thompson Square.

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And then comes Luke…

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We sang every song. Really it was more like bellowed out every song, but it was so much fun. The music just goes right through you.

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This barely taps into the vibrance and thrill of all that music. Needless to say, we could barely hear when we got out and it took a while to wind down to finally sleep. T-shirts, expensive as they are, attest to the night and the fun.

Thanks for enduring the shoddy pics as you share in this little slice of HEAVEN.

Love,
Jeannene

Portrait

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During my time off I also had the opportunity to take some awesome pictures of my youngest. The time of day was perfect, she was perfect and the camera worked pretty darned well. I must confess, she had been after me to do this for some time. They turned out beautiful.

Just have to post a few…

 

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… this:
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How about this…

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This is for her dad…

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And then this one…

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I had so much fun taking these. Thank goodness for digital cameras. The feedback is instantaneous and the number of takes almost unlimited!

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That concludes one little slice of heaven for today.

Jeannene

Working Vacation

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This summer I indulged in a TWO WEEK vacation. I’ve never taken that much time off at one slot. I never had the hours to do it. My work schedule is so agreeable, I rarely have to take a day off to attend to family issues. I love that. That means vacation hours accrue and accrue and I have the time to use them when needed.

This year my plan was to reorganize the closet in the house. It sounds simple, but reality is a task involving a good part of a week. Mixed into this free time is the fact that Catboy underwent knee surgery the week before. and I needed to take him to several appointments. The timing couldn’t have been better. Poor kid gimped around as his sister and I ran circles around him.

We had Rubbermaid shelves erected into the closet, organizing the mess so beautifully. We used their Configurations product.
The learning curve to erect one wall took a couple of hours, but once it was up we had the process down. I ordered another wall to get here a couple days later. Before we knew it, it was erected with little effort.

Our closet was transformed.

The next week I cleaned out the shed. I pitched so much junk. Sold and gave away all the big bulky stuff so we can walk inside the thing. I feel like a free spirit! Whee! All the family photo albums have a safe place in the shed instead of the barn. This was harder to do than the closet. My helper had tennis camp all week and the other helper was only good for moral support. But I did it! It’s all done and I got the house all cleaned up before my sister and nephew arrived.

Liz and Sean Ragan:

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This was the first visit my sister ever made to my house. We’ve seen each other other places, but never at my home. Our house is a little unconventional and I didn’t want to give her a bad impression. We had a great visit.

And we have to have a group picture. Even Aaron came to visit this weekend.

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Here is just us girls:

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Great conclusion to my working vacation.

Hope you all have a more relaxing vacation than I did, but just as rewarding.

Thanks for sharing my little piece of heaven.

Jeannene