Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Time and the Livin' is Easy

A few weeks ago we jumped in the car and headed down some country roads to the suburbs of West Virginia for some easy summer time living.

Along the way we played John Denver - West Virginia, Mountain Mama, Take me Home Country Roads - it is required, by order of Nathan, that we listen to this song at least 10 times on the way to anywhere, but especially on our way to Auntie "Ya-wools" house just over the West Virginia border.

Laurel is my older sister by 7 years and the oldest of us 9 kids. We weren't exceptionally close growing up but since we're the only two siblings with kids so far and we're only an hour apart, we've quite gotten to like each other. It helps that our kids are totally in love with each other too. It doesn't help that she got all the good looks in the family.

Our little kids are total stairsteps of each other going Gordie 6, Ava 5, Nathan 3, Lydia 2, and Lias 1. Whenever either of us is alone with all the kids we shudder thinking that technically, these could all be ours. Laurel's got me beat by 1 though - her two older kids (11 and 9) missed out on the fun this time cause they were in California with their dad for the summer.

Laurel and her kids have had a rough patch in life over the past few years going through a divorce and a lot of uncertainty so it's been nice to just come and chill and chat while we let the kids go wild in her house. And go wild we did.

For 3 days we did nothing productive but....

play at the park....

chase kids.....

drink sugary drinks....

chewed gum....

A LOT of gum....

took advantage of all the pavement and taught our country kids about the beauty of cul-de-sacs - with only a few crashes.....

caught our fair share of lighting bugs and got more than our fair share of mosquito bites....

ran around half naked in our swimming suits until all hours of the night....

brought a little country brashness to the suburbs....

broke up our share of fights, real and pretend ones.....

didn't change enough diapers....

caught kids on camera....

even this Pidy one....

forced a few fake smiles....

and hopefully made a few family friendships that outlast this generation. Thanks for the fun Laurel and crew.

All Growed Up - Missing Teeth and Yellow Buses

Ava lost her first tooth yesterday.

I guess this shouldn't come as a surprise since she's only weeks away from starting kindergarten and already 5. She was playing legos with Nathan and used her teeth to pry something apart, then complained that her tooth hurt. Sure enough, when I looked in it was wiggly and loosey goosey. She got so excited and jumped around and asked for an apple to eat. Somehow she's got in her head that apples are required for teeth falling out. I milked it for all it was worth and got her to clean 2 whole rooms before she earned the apple.

After she won her prize she realized that it isn't too fun to eat apples with a loose tooth so moped around for an hour before I finally pushed on the thing and it popped out. From begining to end, it was about 2 hours of excitement.

The tooth fairy found her pillow just fine, even though the actual tooth was missing. She found it this morning, hidden in her safe spot next to the TV where she put it yesterday. The tooth fairy brought her a gold $1 coin and she's thrilled.


Ava started school last week. Well, kinda. The local elementary school has a week of summer school for the rising kindergartners so they can get familiar with the whole bus, get up early, listen to the teacher, raise your hand thing. How many little girls are lucky enough to have their bus stop in the middle of their dad's work route so he can walk her to the bus? Lucky, lucky.

She loved every day of it and came home full of rules she had learned about the playground and the proper way to do things like use the bathroom and stand in line. It's funny how school becomes the authority all the sudden.

I loved that she caught the bus just down the road and that she had such a great time.
I don't love the idea of my little 5 year old being gone all day and riding the school bus with teenagers (we're so rural that they only have one bus route K-12. I may end up driving her most days). I also wasn't quite ready for the rush of emotions that that school bus brought back about my own childhood and the nervous excitement of school starting and getting all your pencils, paper and bookbags ready weeks in advance and choosing which clothes you'll wear for the first day and all that stuff that comes with school.

It's very weird to be on the receiving side of the bus, waiting for them to come home and having all that anxiety run through you, for them to have a good time and be liked and be brave enough to ask someone to open their string cheese for them at lunch and find someone to sit by on the bus on the way home. And this isn't even real school yet so I hope I sort this all out in the next 4 weeks.

Because she definitely already has.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I've owned a digital camera for 5 years and taken 1000s of pictures. And played with them way too much and got nowhere but frustrated. I've tried Picasa and Microsoft's crap and finally settled on PSE 7 for now. And tonight I've had a breakthrough cause I can now do this.

That's right folks. I put a frame around one of my pictures. A big, huge shout out to Erin, who hooked a sista up with a free online PSE scrapbooking class and a big, big, huge, huge thanks to Chels, who hooked me up so much and I didn't even know it till tonight. I just realized what all the files are that she gave me over 2 years ago and I'm like a kid in a candy shop just thinking of what they can do. Hundreds of papers, masks, frames, fonts, etc. Wow.

But for now, I have a frame around one of my pictures (and yes, I know it's not centered -it's not artistic, it's just I'm too tired to figure out how to fix that.) Hallelujah. Lets see if I get anywhere now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Place to Play: Before and After

When we moved into this house, almost 3 years ago, I knew the time would come for this area to be transformed into a play area for the kids.

These old boxwoods knew it too, and tried to hold on as long as they could. It took about 2 years of pleading and about 15 minutes of backhoe work for them to go. As far as we can figure, there must have been a porch off the kitchen in this area but that was over 30 years ago. Until last week, it was a refuge for bugs, trash from the yard and the random bulb that bloomed behind those imposing boxwoods.

The kids still played back here but it was pretty rough. The weeds competed with the tree-that-attracts-flies (it has an official name but I can't for the life of me remember it) and Lias got covered in mud any time he went back there.

Please also note the nasty chicken waterer - sandbox that always looked like this. For some reason, the chickens thought this was their personal playground and always, always hung out in here. Probably because chickens are looking for buggy areas to dig and scratch and this worked perfectly.

Sorry chickens, we're reclaiming our backyard.

The river rock started with a trickle.....

then turned into a 5 ton downpour.

John happily spread it all around for us.

Nathan supervised from the air conditioned inside window.

5 tons of rock is a lot to spread. For the record, I helped too and we were both pouring sweat by the time it was done.

Muck boots are a way of life out here and we go through them like water. Just had to throw this picture and that fact in.

It ended up looking beautiful and being totally, totally worth it. Lias has figured out not to eat the rocks and so far we haven't had any issues with anyone throwing them. The other day I turned him loose for over an hour out here and could check on him from any of the 3 various windows that look out from the kitchen over this area.

The river rock is a great area to play in - it doesn't get too hot (only in the late afternoon) and Lias can even bum scoot across it pretty well. It can't be tracked into the pool and doesn't turn muddy when it rains. All in all, I'm very happy with the backyard and so are the little people around here.

Of course, this story has a little twist to the happy ending because we live in the country and have unpredictable animals around. Here's the latest in the dog vs. chicken vs. me saga. About 3 days after we finish this beautifully clean, sanitary and kid friendly area, we started to smell something stinky.

We thought we found the culprit when we threw out the goat leg the dog had drug up into the yard but the smell returned the next day. We thought we found the culprit when we threw the dog that obviously rolled in something dead out of the garage but the smell returned the next day. We thought for sure we found the culprit when we found a dead mouse in the room above the new play area but, yep, the smell returned the next day.

We finally found the culprit when we invited a new friend over to play and followed our noses into the little play house that Lias so cutely had been playing in just a few days before. There, in the back corner of the house, where only a little kid could get into, was an obviously dead and decaying carcass of something buried by the damn dog. My nice new rocks were swarming with flesh eating beatles, maggots and anything else distugisting that live on dead animals. John was summoned and removed the lump, which we identified as a chicken by the feathers that hadn't decayed yet. I poured gallons of bleach on the rocks but as of 3 days later there were still maggots if you dug in the area.

Needless to say, we haven't played in the rocks for over a week. The little house has been baking in the sun, trying to get rid of the stench. I think it's almost ready to play with again but I may never look at it the same.

Anyone wanna come play?!