do you wanna build a pantry?

The dust is settling…actually there seems to be much less dust uptown away from the orchards, dairy farms, pumpkin fields and major thoroughfares here at the new Big Top. But yes, the dust is settling somewhat here; and it remains quiet uptown, save for the trains which one can hear anywhere here in Manteca. Boxes are quickly being unpacked and our home is feeling much more like our home. I can park the Dory car in the garage because my darling husband loves me and wants me to be happy which means organizing the garage so that I can park my car in the garage. It’s the little things y’all.

My darling husband walks into the house from the garage feeling very accomplished as he smiles and says:

You know, I’m really liking this quirky little house.

Yes, The Big Top is a little bit quirky being the 80s built house that she is. I thought we did a great job downsizing until we moved our downsized circus into this 600 square feet smaller Big Top. This circus of mine literally has too much stuff still! So we adjust and adapt and downsize a bit more…and we discover that yes, we are liking this quirky little home of ours as we make it our own.

Well, except for the reality that there is literally NO STORAGE in this kitchen; like no storage at all! And so, for the first time ever for us, we find ourselves exploring IKEA and finding what we believe the perfect pantry and shelves to meet our circus needs. And because the only other alternative is our pantry foods stored in boxes, we make our very first IKEA purchase.

We might be unicorns.

Friends laugh and tease us with the horror of putting together anything purhased from IKEA. My darling husband is not phased recalling all the disposable and not so disposable furniture and Barbie dream houses he has assembled for this circus over the last three decades. This will not be hard, he laughs.


Three giant boxes full of all kinds of IKEA fun. This might take awhile.

There might have been moments of self doubt and what the fresh hell is this piece and why??? But I press on with my handy little IKEA tool thingy along with a Phillips screwdriver and a level and my youngest daughter, my son and my darling husband.

There was quite a bit of sweat…no tears…no cursing, which might be a miracle…voices were raised once or twice or a few times more.  But eight hours later…


Yeah, we are feeling pretty accomplished right now because IKEA assembling badge achieved.


And yes, we are really liking this quirky little house that is our Big Top.

Want to know the key to a long-lasting relationship? Don’t go with your loved one to Ikea. One psychologist says the stress of a visit to the popular furniture store can cause serious friction between couples, whether it’s disputes over what to buy or spats while you assemble the items that you bought there.

Juan Williams

the adventure of moving

Walking through The Big Top this afternoon, passing the boxes in the sitting room and the kitchen that have yet to be unpacked, Hazel declared that it looks like we are all done with moving…and in her nearly eight year old wisdom and mercy, she pronounced it all to be good. It was then that I pointed out that regardless of all of the unpacked boxes and the big to-do list on the refrigerator and the pantry from IKEA that still needs to be delivered (and assembled), Papa STILL needs to get the garage organized because Mima needs to park her Dory car in the garage. So no, we are not all done moving.

Oh. …You’re right, Mima. You’re not done yet.

Such is the almost never-ending adventure that is moving and setting up the new Big Top. There is always something that needs to be done, to be hung, to be put away, to be fixed, to be tossed, to be ordered, to be installed. At least I have begun pounding holes in the walls a lot sooner than last time. Perhaps because this feels more like a place to stay, a place to live and place that doesn’t remind me of the dream that we lost in a short sale. 

It felt that way when we first saw this place and walked through it and tried to imagine all of our stuff most of our stuff in it…even the laundry room, because I do still live for laundry.

Hmmm…looks like there is no gas hook-up for our dryer, honey. That is going to be a problem…

Our dryer is electric.

I’m pretty sure it’s a gas dryer…

No. I installed it. I should know. We have an electric dryer.

Okay:::moving on to the next room and imagining, planning:::

Then, moving day, the end of the day as the last load is being loaded off of the truck and brought into the new Big Top:

So honey, guess what?


About the dryer…

What about the dryer?

Well, our dryer is a gas dryer.

Like I told you that it was.


That’s a problem.


It’s a good thing I budgeted a little extra for this move. :::mentally erasing the plans I had for that little extra:::


And that, boys and girls, is how I had a new dryer delivered today. No, not cherry red, like it’s older partner. Shinier, newer, very white but promises to work just as hard and as efficient and green. And today I find myself to be super excited about doing laundry because it has been two weeks since I was last able to do laundry. Two weeks makes for a lot of laundry here under the new Big Top.

I don’t mind.

I was right…

as I often am.

And I have a shiny new electric dryer.

On to the next adventure that is making this new Big Top home.

We shape our dwellings, and afterwards, our dwellings shape us.

Winston Churchill

it’s quiet uptown

Uptown, it’s quiet. It really is,

Well…except for the evening s’mores fueled entertainment and shenanigans…it’s quiet uptown.

Inside the new Big Top it is messy and crowded because in spite of aggressive downsizing, we haven’t downsized enough…and because there are boxes EVERYWHERE…and disorder…and mess…and I can’t park my car in the garage; which anyone who really knows me knows that this is a problem…a big problem.

But all will be fine here under the new Big Top…eventually.

For now, in between the unpacking and organizing and downsizing and making room in the garage for the Dory-car, and all the other stuff that must be done, we are going to enjoy the quiet uptown.

Right here, right now, I’m thinking the best decision ever in moving The Big Top was to have this sweet oasis set up…to escape the chaos and endless to-do list inside The Big Top…to enjoy the quiet here uptown…here…home.

life as the plumber’s wife

A mid-day text message conversation between a plumber and his adoring wife:

So the faucet in the kitchen sink has been leaky the past couple of days and it is getting worse. Zelda likes it.

But it has literally filled up a cup within the last half hour just dripping.

Do you know a good plumber?


Try Angie’s List.


I’ll correct the aforementioned defect when I get home.

Are you a good plumber?

Well, I’m cheap.

That’s what she said!






where I just said oh feck it and pounded some nails into the walls

We moved into our current Big Top in June 2011 and until today none of my photographs or art hung on the walls…none. Sure there was the very much needed calendar and clock on the wall…and in Jodie’s room are boy bands all over the walls surrounded by dance and school spirit posters…but nothing else was hung. And until we hung that ruler I made for Daniel in the sitting room, I really had no desire to do anything about it. All my treasured photographs and art remained boxed up and stored in the little cupboard under the stairs; which is supposed to be for my grandgirls to hide their toys to play in…after I paint over the hideous, half-assed fuschia chalkboard paint job. I have no clue about that. But yeah, we have had naked rental white walls and after losing the Big Top we built and made into a home, I just could not bring myself to hang my pictures.

I had a lot of good reasons:

  • The interior of this house needs to be painted…properly. I like my landlord a lot. He’s agreeable. He took a chance on us in spite of our sad financial state of affairs when we lost our home. He let us keep our dogs even though he had originally said no to pets. He looks the other way when my grandbabies’ cat, Bagheera comes over to visit. He let me paint the bannister. Yes, he is a pretty decent landlord…who did a craptastic job of patching and repainting the walls in this house. So I told myself that as soon as I had the money…and the time…and the energy I would paint these walls. Of course that would mean climbing a giant ladder for the 20 foot high ceilings in the sitting room and dining room. I look over at my darling husband and he shakes his head no..
  • I had babies and toddlers underfoot a lot. I don’t watch the girls full time anymore but they are still here a lot…almost everyday.
  • the greenhouse that is this house would ruin my treasures for sure.
  • and all kinds of other lame good excuses.

Truth be told I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Michelle pretty much hit the nail on the head (yes, pun intended) when she shared with me that she hasn’t been able to do the same thing in her current home because it would be as if she has set roots in that house…something after a few years she doesn’t want to do…like me, for a lot of reasons.We’re planning on a shared shrink session to delve into these issues of ours.

Losing the original Big Top was hard on me. There was so many different kinds of feelings that held me down in such a way that I could not move to make this house, this rental, into a home. A home for me, for my darling husband, for my children. Of course I was so wrapped and bound up in my depression and grief that I couldn’t see the effect that it has had on my family…

until Abby came downstairs as I hung up the first picture, a lovely print of a field of poppies, and said, “You’re hanging up the pictures! Now it will feel like we’re home!

You know what? She was right.

It was feeling less hollow.

A little more warm and not in that it is as hot as a freaking greenhouse way.

I still want to paint because this is just stupid. Later.

I will say that this pinterest idea really worked out well.

Oh but there is so much more left.

But it’s a start.