Tag Archives: writing

Have Kids, Will…Make a Fort (No Boys Allowed)

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Having a space of my own became an urgent priority a few years ago.  As the only female in my household for the past 20 years, I’ve desperately yearned for a place to call my own.  Our sweet little, old farmhouse only has one bathroom upstairs that we ALL share (go ahead, ladies, gasp!).  So while I’ve semi-patiently tolerated all sorts of bathroom issues that come with five males peeing all over the one toilet that I, too, have to use, I hit a breaking point when I was trying to work/write from home.  Having a home-based business has many upsides, but too many distractions for this lady to function well.

Much too long after man-caves became a “thing,” women have now been allowed the same accommodation… a little escape from the shared household spaces.  It never did seem fair that the fun, casual drinking spaces were reserved for the guys–a space that didn’t need to be cleaned very well or used to entertain guests other than more guys who also sought refuge from those damned feminized rooms within the home.  I like drinking and relaxing as much as the next guy (or gal) but I needed a space that didn’t require me to look around and think, “Oh, so-and-so didn’t put his laundry away.  I’ll just do that before I get to this article.”  Or, “Gosh, those dirty dishes in the sink are going to stink if I don’t load the dishwasher before I work on this floor plan.  Better take care of that.”

Obviously, if we’re only working with one upstairs bath we also don’t have a spare room to use as an office.  Eventually, I was able to wrestle this space above my garage into my own private fort.  Or, as one of the boys calls it, my tree house.  We painted the whole thing glossy white to maximize the light that comes through the fabulous round window that a client couldn’t use.  Then, I found these great light fixtures from Cedar and Moss, a lighting company in Oregon.  They’re way cool and great quality!

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Even though the furniture is all upcycled, repurposed, and second-hand, it came together nicely to provide a very comfy mom-cave work space that I absolutely love.  And it has a bathroom!

 

 

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Have Kids, Will…Backpack Through Germany (Alone!)

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You might be wondering how, exactly, a mother of four young children can pick up and travel solo to Europe.  All I can say is I owe my husband–big time!  As much as I romanticized the notion of backpacking through Europe when I was younger, I never had the chance to do it.  I love to travel, but the “backpacking” part of it got old pretty fast and is much better suited to the younger set.   That part was purely accidental anyway since the airline lost my luggage, and my backpack was literally all I had in addition to the clothes on my back.  Given my propensity for mishaps, this isn’t surprising.

Going to Germany all alone wan’t the least bit intimidating.  I knew I could figure things out, like train schedules and restaurant menus.  I got really good at asking “Sprechen sie English?” as soon as I needed help with something.  Most Germans seem to know at least a little English.  When they don’t, a few hand gestures work just fine.  Of course, I had a few hiccups along the way.  Aside from my lack of luggage, which was remedied with a shopping trip after twice having washed my underwear out in the bathroom sink, I did misinterpret my train schedule one evening.  Without realizing that all trains to Aachen stopped at 11:20 p.m., I had a late night rendez-vous with the station master in Belgium.  He was kind enough to call a taxi for me once we established, with cave man talk and hand gestures, that I had missed the last train and was stranded.  Alone.  It was an expensive mistake, as I ended up paying 55 euros for the taxi back to Germany.

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I really enjoyed my day in Belgium and would love to go back soon.  Brussels and Antwerp were both amazing cities to visit.  The beer, the chocolates, the waffles–all delicious! Brussels, especially, will hold a special place in my heart since this is where a handsome, young waiter generously gave me an ego boost which, at this stage of the game, is a gift.   At 38, with four children, I’m pretty sure my sex appeal has fallen away like the leaves on my ficus tree that never gets watered.  After chatting with this fellow for a short amount of time, relying on his suggestions for food and beer, he asked what hotel I was staying in and would I like to have some company!  As creepy as that might seem, I was flattered and will be eternally grateful to him, even though I did decline…I swear!

Antwerp is an energetic and eclectic city, where I talked to a Hassidic Jew, a Texan expat, an Irishman, and had lunch in a pub owned by Russians who served Croque Monsieurs.  There are really great jazz clubs and museums, breweries and restaurants, and many, many bicyclists.  I loved how the city center has bike lanes that were more crowded than the actual streets.  Even ladies in dresses and heels were commuting to work on bikes.  No wonder they’re so thin!

The whole reason for this trip, which took me from Washington, D.C. to Aachen, Germany and Antwerp, Belgium, was to conduct research for a book I’m writing.  It will be loosely based on my great-grandmother’s experience emigrating from Germany to the U.S. in 1904, as a 16-year-old girl.  Her story has always intrigued me, so I’m taking bits and pieces of it, adding my own imaginings, and turning it into a historic fiction novel.  Stay tuned!

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Have Kids, Will…Write!

This is the launch of a new blog for me; it will focus on all the things I’m struggling to do outside of my duties as MOM.  Most of these can and should coincide with motherhood, as many women function as wives, mothers, and employees (or members of the self-employed).  I’m currently maintaining a blog and doing some marketing for my husband’s general contracting business, of which I am technically a partner.  However, I have other interests and activities unrelated to home building for which I scrape together snippets of time.  I hope you’ll join me on my journey to explore some of  life’s offerings,  while I also work to shape my four sons into kind, compassionate, self-sufficient men.

A little background information: my husband and I have known each other since high school, but didn’t start dating until we were in college.  We have four sons, whose ages currently range from 6 to 16.  I think we are good parents, but our boys might think otherwise.  We are strict about working hard in school, doing chores, and being kind.  We are not-so-strict about using curse words, listening to loud music, or getting dirty.  Welcome to our chaos!

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