Life

Simplifying

If you were following my tweets, then you know that we had a garage sale this past weekend. We remodeled our living room and our dining room (we’re not done, obviously), and we had a lot of furniture we wanted to get rid of. In addition, Kevin has been bugging me for quite some time to have a sale so we could get rid of some junk up in the attic … so, having no choice (because really, our junk was starting to own us, not the other way around), I caved and we had our garage sale.

Once I gave the green light, Kevin went berserk – he wanted to sell everything. He was on a mission to simplify our lives. Which I don’t have a problem with, per se, but … but nothing, I guess. I’m not exactly the kind of person who has a problem with getting rid of things and I’m not exactly the sentimental type, but still … it feels weird to have your stuff on display, stuff that you’ve had for years, that have memories attached to them, and have someone examine that stuff with disdain before deciding they want to buy it or not.

I made a list. And it was quite an impressive list, if you want the truth. And the items that topped that list? Our camper Cub and our canoe.

I listed our garage sale on Craigslist Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, I had two emails waiting on me – one wanted to know how much we wanted for the camper, the other one was interested in the four mountain bikes I had listed. (Yep. We got rid of our bikes. We never rode them – though we have had some great times taking them on the trails, but we hadn’t used them in years and they were just taking up space).

The guy interested in our camper wanted to come over right away and take a look at it. We told him to come over and I immediately went out to the camper and started clearing it out. We hadn’t opened the thing in two years and I wanted to clean it up and sweep it out before the guy arrived.

And the guy arrived, right in the middle of me carrying out a laundry basket full of crap.

To top it off, it was terribly hot Thursday, so I looked pretty rough (though had had the foresight to at least take a shower and put on my face, thank goodness).

The guy looked it over pretty thoroughly. Kevin and I made sure to tell him all about the tiny flaws with the camper. (The canvas leaks if it rains really hard – be sure to keep it saturated with waterproof repellent. It needs to be covered, or water will pool on the canvas and be a mess when it’s opened again, the shower had a crack and we never used it, though the toilet seemed to work just fine …etc).

Though the guy listened to us, he acted a bit annoyed that we were telling him all of this stuff. I think he loved it right off the bat and didn’t want to hear the bad stuff. But we didn’t want to get a phone call weeks down the road from the guy complaining about something that went wrong – we loved our camper, but it had problems. He needed to know what those warts were.

We tagged behind him as he checked it out (he even got on his knees to look underneath it – the guy had on dress slacks and a tie, I hope he didn’t get too dirty), and after about fifteen minutes listening to us spout off the pros and cons, he said, “I’ll take it.”

He didn’t even try to negotiate the price. He said he needed to go to the bank to get a small loan and would be back later in the day to seal the deal.

We were ecstatic, and just a little shell shocked, to be honest. We hadn’t been prepared to really show the camper until the next day (hence the reason it hadn’t been cleaned out yet), and we hadn’t been ENTIRELY sure we wanted to get rid of it, but it was a done deal and there was no turning back.

We had sold our Cub. *sniff*

The guy came back, as promised, with the cash and wanted to check out the water system.

*Side Note – we also had hooked up the electricity so he could check to make sure the lights came on and the fridge worked – which it did, beautifully, by the way. We were rather impressed that everything worked so good considering it had been sitting idle for two years in our backyard.

Fine. We hooked the water hose up and I turned on the water. The cold water came out fine, but the hot water … nothing. The guy said fine and Kevin suggested he check out the pipes under the sink.

So, I opened up the doors and was HORRIFIED to see there was about two inches of water under the sink!!! Kevin turned off the water and I got on my hands and knees and started mopping up the water using a roll of paper towels while the guys started investigating the cause of the leak.

The verdict? The hot water tank had burst because someone had forgotten to winterize it this past winter.

OOPS.

My heart sank. I was afraid the guy would call off the deal, but Kevin offered to knock a few hundred off the price so he could buy a new tank and the guy accepted. So even though we didn’t get as much as we wanted out of the deal, we still got more than we expected. I’m just SO GLAD that Kevin had the foresight to have us look under the sink because we would much rather have that happen in front of all of us than for the guy to get it out in the boonies somewhere and discover it then.

Again, we wanted all of the flaws well known to all parties.

He brought his wife and two small girls (who were SO CUTE) back with him to haul it away. He had his father-in-law’s Suburban because he wasn’t sure his blazer would be able to pull it. We cautioned him that it would probably pull it, but it would put terrible strain on his transmission and he might end up having to replace the transmission at some point (that had happened to us).

His wife and two girls were so excited!! The oldest little girl asked, “Can I play in it, daddy?” She was so sweet.

We had left some goodies for them in the camper. We had bought some globe lights to string on the awning, but had never used them, so we let them have it. We also had a small propane BBQ grill that we let them have, too. Oh, and we had bought a cover for it (the last one disintegrated) and we had thrown that in with the price, too. In addition, we gave them the toaster, a picnic table table cloth, and other small odds and ends that would make camping a little easier.

It really warmed our hearts to help this young family out and though we were sad to see our camper go, it was nice to see it would be enjoyed by others.

(However, our camping days are not likely over. Kevin and were talking today about possibly doing a cross-country trek after the kids got off on their own. We’d buy a small, compact camper [NO FOLD OUT BEDS] and would store it at a facility so we didn’t have to worry about protecting it from the elements. Oh yes, we have this all figured out. Well, I do. I still have to convince Kevin that it’s a good idea. *grin*)

After the guy and his family left, Kevin and I worked on organizing the rest of the stuff we wanted to sell. His mom, dad and uncle came by and Kevin and his uncle got the canoe down (Kevin had stored it on some joists) and moved it outside. Not thirty minutes later, I received an email from a neighbor who had seen the canoe and wanted to buy it.

Yay! We got rid of our canoe!

*Side Note: That canoe was a total surprise to me. I came home from work one night and came upon it in the garage. We had been looking at them, but we hadn’t been serious about buying. So, when I was gone, Kevin went and bought the sucker without me. I was quite annoyed with him and it’s been the subject of jokes between us ever since. The stinker.

At 9:00 Friday morning, we opened up shop. Nearly all of our “good” and “big” items sold within the hour. We were flabbergasted and thrilled to get rid of so much stuff. We sold quite a few things on Friday and though we opened up Saturday, we didn’t sell nearly as much as we had. Granted, everything that was left was rather junky, but still, we were a bit disappointed.

Kevin had had a bunch of left over wood from various projects in the shed and he put the wood out by the side of the house with a giant FREE sign next to it. We went out to buy dinner Friday night and when we came back it was all gone!

He hurriedly took the FREE signs down saying he didn’t want someone to try and take our house! ha!

All in all, we got rid of a ton of things, but we still have quite a stash to discard. We’re thinking we’re going to take the reusable, “good” stuff up to Goodwill, take the TV’s to a recycle center and call 1-800-GOT-JUNK to take the rest off our hands.

I have to say, I loathe garage sales, but I’m really happy we went through with this one. We made some money and got rid of a lot of stuff.

Now we have room for more stuff.

Did I mention that our new entertainment center and TV are due to arrive on Tuesday?

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Life

His Senior Picture

Dude’s senior pictures finally came back …

I’m pleased with them, but I wish he hadn’t been sick when we had them made.

Dude suffers from allergies at this time of year: ragweed just kills him. He had the sniffles and his eyes were itching the week leading up to this picture, hence the redness around his eyes. He looks like this the entire month of September. I could have had them touch it up a bit, but I opted out of that. You can’t tell in the black and whites and that’s what will be published in the yearbook, so we’re good.

Dude was a reluctant participate in this picture. He didn’t want his picture taken at all, let alone take part in one of those fancy-smancy senior portrait packages (you know, where you change clothes and do several poses). I was lucky to get this out of the boy, quite frankly.

I went out and bought this black shirt for him. I even took it to the dry cleaners so they could launder it and spray it with light starch. The tie is Kevin’s. I think it looks quite dashing with the black shirt.

*Side note: I went through last year’s yearbook to see how the other guys dressed and to my surprise, most of them wore a dress shirt and tie. In fact, an impressive number of guys even wore a suit, though I didn’t think Dude would want to wear a suit, not to mention, we didn’t have a suit jacket that he could wear – Kevin’s would have been too big.

I can’t believe how grown up he looks. He looks … like a man, like an individual, like his own person … definitely not the boy I raised. I can’t believe our oldest son is now a man.

*****

I’m nervous about his future. But at the same time, I’m looking forward to watching him pick his destiny. For example, I asked him today how he did on his Business Law test …

“I got a “B”.”

I was surprised. And yet, I wasn’t. This kid is smart. He has the potential, he just lacks the motivation.

I can’t imagine where he gets that trait from.

“So, answer me honestly,” I said. “Is there anything about this Business Law course that interests you? Do you think you might like to pursue it as a career?”

“I don’t know,” he said. I was surprised that he actually considered the question before answering. “It’s pretty boring.”

“I want to be a Band Director,” Jazz piped up. (We were having this conversation while eating lunch together).

“That sounds like fun,” I said, “but you might not make much money doing that.”

I’ve been trying to gently (or not so gently, you decide), dropping hints about the future to the boys. They need to start thinking (especially Dude since he graduates this year) about their futures. What do they want to do?

I don’t expect them to make a concrete decision now, but it would be nice if they at least knew if they wanted to go to college, work, or maybe both.

Kevin and I plan on sitting Dude down in the next month or so and have a serious talk with him about what he wants to do after graduation. Dude brought some papers home the other day from a senior meeting he had at school and it recommends that if the kids are planning on going to college next fall, NOW is the time to start applying.

I’m not exactly panicked by this, but it’s definitely something to think about. I think we’re going to take Dude on a tour of MSU (Missouri State University – that’s where Kevin and I graduated), and OTC (Ozarks Technical College – a great place to go to get the required courses out of the way for MUCH cheaper) just to get him used to the idea of going to college somewhere. We’ll also pick up some catalogs and talk about various fields he might like to pursue.

We will also have a heart-to-heart talk about our expectations for him if he wants to continue living with us after graduation. We would love to have him around, but there will be rules he will be expected to live by. What those rules are are still being discussed, but the bottom line? The boy will DO something with himself. Whether that’s get a job, go to school, or more preferably, work AND go to school (either full or part time, whatever he feels like he can handle).

*****

The photography session didn’t last that long. We only purchased the senior picture package because it was the cheapest. We really just wanted one really good picture of him to put in the year book. We’ll likely take him out for more pictures later – like in this next month when the leaves are turning. We can easily take some really great pictures of him with our Canon Rebel and save ourselves the hundreds of dollars we’d spend having it professionally done.

He’d likely be more relaxed anyhow.

While we were waiting for him to be called back, we sat down. Dude sat in a chair, and I sat on the sofa, right next to a curled up black cat. I ignored it. I don’t dislike animals, I can just take them or leave them.

But, as usually happens whenever I’m around animals, the cat took an interest in me. (Probably because I ignored it. Do cats have the alpha-male thing like dogs do?) He climbed onto my lap, and I petted it, but wasn’t really into it. I was trying to look at samples the studio had laid out. So, the cat walked across my lap and into Dude’s lap.

Dude loved it. He loves animals. In fact, I’ve suggested to him in the past that he might look at going to veterinary school. I think he’d be so good at that job. He’s such a gentle soul and animals really respond to him.

The people at the studio were shocked that the cat was sitting on his lap. They said that he didn’t usually behave that way and was, in fact, sometimes aggressive with people. (Which begs the question, WHY allow the cat around customers in the first place??)

The cat served to calm Dude down. I don’t think he was terribly nervous about having his picture made, but he wasn’t exactly happy about it, either. I suppose I should thank the cat for that relaxed smile you see up there.

While Dude was having his picture taken, the cat climbed back onto my lap and instead of curling up on my lap, stretched out on my chest. I think it was a test of wills from that point on. Again, whatever. I don’t dislike animals – I’m more indifferent to them. I petted him, and softly talked to him, but he didn’t bother me overly much.

The studio people were a bit horrified by the cat’s behavior, actually. They asked me if they wanted them to remove him from my person (and honestly, if I worked there, I wouldn’t have asked because if the cat was aggressive and could potentially scratch/bite a customer, I wouldn’t take the chance to begin with), but I said he was fine and there we both sat until Dude came back out.

Dude was QUITE amused that the cat was using me as his sofa.

And that was it. The session was over. We got to look through several pictures, which were all good, quite frankly, and Dude picked out the pose he liked the best. We ordered our prints and we left.

The whole thing didn’t even last twenty minutes, tops.

I went back a week later and picked up the prints. They gave us two black-and-whites for the yearbook and Dude turned them into the journalism department.

And that’s it. This part of the senior experience is over for Dude. Like I said, Kevin and I will take him somewhere pretty and take some more pictures of him (whether he likes it or not – heh) because this is such an important time for Dude. It’s his last year of high school …

It’s his last year of high school.