Thursday, June 28, 2012

Time to pay the piper

On Monday, the kids went to VBS, had fast food for lunch, played at the pool, went to Martial Arts class, had dessert, watched TV and read in their beds until past the usual bed time. On Tuesday, they went to VBS, had a picnic lunch, played at the pool, ate homemade soft tacos (a house favorite) for dinner, had dessert and watched TV. On Wednesday, they went to VBS, got new Fourth of July t-shirts, had lunch at the bowling alley, bowled with all their neighborhood friends, watched an in-van movie, (one of them) got a haircut, had slushes at Sonic, went to Martial Arts class, and had dessert. Today, they cried and screamed and melted down in a variety of dramatic ways. (After going to VBS, having lunch out with Dad and running a quick errand). So, in the end, it wasn't the heat that made us miserable, it was the fun. Today, we paid the piper. Tomorrow will be better, and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled summer fun.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. ~Russel Baker

It was 550 103 degrees today. We should have been miserable. But we weren't. The kids are attending a VBS this week and are loving it. While they have been there and Clay has been taking his morning nap, I have been doing things that need to be done, surrounded by blissful quietness and solitude. It has been wonderful. Our routine has been to leave VBS and head straight to the pool, where we've had a nice little picnic lunch and then laughed in the face of the rule that says you have to wait two hours after eating before swimming. There has been much splashing, frolicking, laughing, diving, dunking, and playing. I do believe our kids would never, ever leave that pool if we didn't force them to. Even with sunburned cheeks and wrinkly hands and feet, they moan when I tell them it's time to get out and act like all the injustice in the world has fallen upon them, because 5 hours in the pool just isn't enough for one day. And then they are starving, even though they have been eating snacks all afternoon. But, summer suppers insist on being easy and low-maintenance, so the kids don't have to wait long to fill their bellies. And during dinner, or after, we turn on Planet Earth. And, we have dessert. And, the kids go to bed early and without much of a fight, because they are completely and delightedly exhausted by this summertime routine. And, then Jeff and I can enjoy each other's company in the resounding absolute quiet. Ah, summer! Though you endeavor to make us miserable with your ridiculous temperatures, you do not succeed! For there is so much more to a summer day than the triple-digit number glaring at me from my dashboard.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More Faves

I have posted about other favorite things here and here. No one pays me to write about all these things. I just do it for my own (and maybe your) entertainment and edification. Please feel free to hit that comment button and share some of your favorite things. You may just know about something that I need to add to my list.

I was skeptical at first, but these really do seem to work.
And, this brand is cheaper than some of the others.

Love, love, love this little household helper!
Makes clean-up a cinch, is easy to store, and is small enough that my kids
can easily clean up their own messes! Now, that's a bonus!

I don't own my own Mahjong game yet, but I hope to get one soon.
I am only beginning to learn to play, but, so far, I think it's lots of fun.

You know a girl who has a favorite trash can is also going to have a favorite trash bag.
This is the only one I've tried that actually stays put.
And, as a bonus, it has a nice, subtle fragrance that keeps the trashy odor at bay.

Makes my face feel cleaner and smoother than just washing with my hands.
And it's travel-sized, which I love.

Not all underwear is created equal. And, that's all I have to say about that.

Don't take this to mean that one of my favorite things is running. Far from it.
It's just that, if I'm going to run, this certainly makes it easier.

Love my Kindle and my pink, lighted case!

I don't own one of these yet, but I think I'm a little bit in love.
It's perfect for a quasi coffee drinker like myself.
Just one cup at a time, in any flavor I choose.

I'm really enjoying my new camera, with the extra-long zoom.
The pictures are really great, even from a distance.

This is perfect for our concrete floors, which mysteriously always seem to be quite messy.

We discovered this little gem several months ago and have been frequent patrons ever since.
Sadly, the French couple who own the place have been in France for over a month, and we are in withdrawal.

Friday, June 22, 2012



Silly Max

Big Fish

Bravely diving off the board

You know you're a shorty when
your swim trunks come down to your ankles

Showing off the new summer haircuts 

Could this kid possibly be any cuter?!


Swimming makes a boy hungry

All my water babies

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Day, Another Bloodbath

Yesterday, the three big kids were jumping off of something they shouldn't have been (air conditioner units), and, not surprisingly, someone got hurt. It was Max. Weston came running in the house, yelling about Max losing all his teeth. I rushed outside to find Ruth sweetly carrying Max to the door. There was blood everywhere. And, Max was demanding I put a band-aid on it. Fortunately, no teeth were missing, even though he did have a nasty busted lip.

Today, the boys were jumping on something they had permission to jump on (the trampoline) and, not surprisingly, someone got hurt. It was Max. Weston came running in, saying that Max was dripping blood all over the trampoline. Max had tried to do a flip and had smashed his knee into his nose. I rushed outside to find Max in hysterics. There was blood everywhere. And, Max was demanding I put a band-aid on it. Fortunately, his nose wasn't broken.

Blood doesn't make me queasy at all, but I certainly hope to see much less of it tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Healthy Dose of Humility

Jeff and I started running in January. Slowly and steadily, we have seen ourselves make progress, and we are pretty proud of our accomplishments. Yesterday, we both did our personal best. I ran for 22 minutes straight, at almost 6 miles an hour, without stopping to walk. And, I felt pretty good about myself when I was done. But then, Jeff suggested we add some strength training to our routine. We decided to ease ourselves into it this morning, and I can tell you, it was truly a humbling experience. My arms still feel like Jell-O, and I pretty much feel like a pathetic wimp. But I think I remember feeling almost just like that when we started running. So, there is hope. It's good to have new goals to set and accomplish, and it's good to have a healthy dose of humility from time to time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Here he comes, my walkin', talkin' true love

It's official: My baby has become a toddler! And not only is he walking around all over the place, he's also talking up a storm. He says "bear" at one point in the video, as he's walking towards the bear. He has also been saying several other words and making some adorable animal sounds. He is absolutely the cutest thing ever!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Party People

This has been a big party week for us. We all went to a birthday party on Wednesday evening. Then, the big boys and I attended another birthday party on Thursday afternoon. On Friday night, we hosted the weekly neighborhood party at our house. Ruth attended her BFF's birthday party on Saturday afternoon. Immediately following that party, Jeff and I dropped the kids off with Jeff's parents and headed to Austin for a fun date night. And, then today we met up with the kids and Jeff's parents again for a Father's Day celebration. So much fun! And, we have a couple of more parties to look forward to this next week, as well. Woohoo!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Socially Awkward

I'm not a naturally gifted people-person. People--especially those I don't know very well--make me nervous. I think it's the thought of trying to put together witty, interesting, coherent sentences in a face-to-face, on-the-spot situation. I'm much better in written form, where I can collect my thoughts and rewrite whatever doesn't come out right the first time. But, people are a part of life, and in my on-going effort to "do hard things," I make myself interact with people regularly. Unfortunately, I think I rarely make a very good first impression, because I talk too much, and I talk too fast, and I don't make eye contact. It's my pitiful cover. When I know I'm going to be thrown into a socializing situation, I coach myself: "Be calm. Slow down. Shut up." It almost never works. But, I'm determined to continue to work on this character flaw. And, I'm determined not to grow up to be a hermit. I sincerely apologize if you are one of the unfortunates who has had to sit through my bumbling babbling. I'm awkward, I know, but I still want to be your friend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Tuesday Circus

I know I don't have to tell you that this day started with spilled juice, but in the interest of clarification, that is exactly where I will begin. So, the first thing that happened today was that Max spilled juice all over the inside and outside of the refrigerator, while trying to free it from it's chilly home inside said appliance. This, I realized, was my own fault for leaving the lid of the pitcher turned to the "pour" position when I put it in the fridge and for encouraging my children to be independent. So, I turned the lid (which is significant) and assisted in the clean up. That same child then proceeded to add milk to his cereal and slosh it all over the kitchen, as he made his way to his seat. Then, Weston entered the kitchen and made a beeline for the juice. He yanked the pitcher out of the fridge and began pouring. But, of course, nothing came out. So, instead of stopping to investigate, he just kept tipping the pitcher...until the lid just couldn't take the pressure and popped right off. The counter and lower shelves were doused, and multiple towels were tinted orange in the clean up process. Then, for reasons I can't even begin to understand, Weston decided to put semi-melted butter in his cereal, which, of course, made it taste disgusting. Which, in turn, caused Weston to attempt to sneak it into the trash when he thought I wasn't looking. Which then prompted me to declare him finished with breakfast and send him away from the table. Which sent him into a bawling fit (because, after all, he was in danger of starving to death, since he only got to have one bowl of cereal for breakfast, instead of two) that lasted an absurd amount of time and got him hand-delivered to his bedroom.

The rest of the morning actually went along fairly well, and was even somewhat productive. While I worked on laundry, the two oldest kids were given "special projects" to work on. Ruth was directed to the upstairs storage closet, with the incentive that, if we could get it cleaned up and organized, she could set up her new sewing machine in there and have a nice little sewing area all her own. That was motivation enough, and she eagerly set to work and had much to show for her efforts by lunchtime. Meanwhile, Weston worked out in the garage, transferring our Campmeeting linens from the oh-so-useless contractor bags they were stored in to some sturdy duffle bags and storage boxes.

After lunch, the action picked up again. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, Clay is obsessed with, well, everything that he shouldn't be. He is in to everything these days: cabinets, drawers, potties, shelves, trash cans, etc. He is especially enamored with the side table in the living room, where we keep the remotes, and where we often put our laptops and phones while they are charging. (Plus a variety of other things that just need a landing place). We have tried pushing everything as far back as possible, blocking the area off with ottomans, swatting his hand, redirecting him to another area and various other dissuading techniques. But, he is determined to get a hold of whatever lies on top of that particular table, which he can just reach by standing on his tippy-toes. It's maddening. So, today, I was sitting in my awesome zebra lounge chair near that table, working on some task or another on my laptop. Clay came over and started grabbing things like a maniac. I was trying to keep him at bay, while also trying to stay focused on the task at hand. Finally, he snagged something, and commanded my full attention. But, when I turned to reacquire whatever he had in his hand, my laptop slipped off my lap and hit the concrete floor with a sickening thud. Now, I'm no techie, but I do know that computers and concrete don't mix. And, that idea proved true when I recovered the laptop and found it rendered completely useless. And, this, after I was just telling Jeff that I might need to think about the possibility of getting new computer because mine was "being weird." (Yes, that's just the technical language I used.)

So it was with a knot in my stomach that I approached the next task before me: plantar wart removal from both Ruth's and Weston's feet. These kids run around barefoot all the time in the most unsanitary of conditions, so the fact that they had warts, while fairly revolting to me, was not surprising. Weston actually had seven or eight on the bottoms of his feet, and Ruth had two. I warned the kids that the stuff (again a technical term) would sting a little and then set to work. (I should tell you that the setting for this event was my bathroom, with both "patients" alternately sitting on the edge of and falling into the tub; Max hopping around, knocking decorations over; and Clay pulling things out of the drawers like his life depended on it.) Weston was to go first, according to the arrangement he and Ruth had made previously. He laughingly ouched his way through all seven applications of Freeze Away, and then it was Ruth's turn. She was almost in tears before I even touched her foot, and after one application, she ran from the room, bawling, and refused to allow me anywhere near her other wart. She cried for a ridiculous amount of time, and finally admitted to me that the reason she was crying was because she was so mad that Weston had gone through with it and she hadn't.

Not long after that, Jeff came home briefly--from a day of meetings in Austin--before heading out to another meeting in Marble Falls. He doctored my computer and got it somewhat functional, while I was trying to put together a lasagna and we were chatting about our days.  I was so distracted that I left out a layer of noodles and all of the mozzarella cheese (except for the very thick layer on top, once I realized my mistake). Fortunately, it's hard to ruin lasagna, and the kids all said it was delicious. (I haven't had any yet because I'm hoping to have a romantic relatively quiet, at-home date with my Sweetie when he gets in from his meeting). Since I wasn't eating dinner, I wasn't sitting at the table, and at one point the kids got up a rousing game of musical chairs, while I was out of the room. And, now, having finished dinner, I believe they are out rustling cattle on their bikes. If you think my life is boring, people, you are completely wrong. Your household runs at this level of insanity, too, right?! I'd love to hear some of your stories, so don't be afraid of that little comment button at the bottom of the post. I need to know I'm not alone here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Work Week

We spent a wonderful long weekend out at our camp in the Davis Mountains. Officially, it was "work week," but, personally, I didn't do too much work. (Except for that one day that I went in to Ft. Davis for a couple of hours to use the library's wifi to prepare for a meeting I have later today). I also helped a bit with cooking and cleaning up, but, really, I didn't do much of anything. Jeff was in charge of the food for the 20 or so people who were out there, and let me tell you, if you think you need a fancy kitchen to turn out gourmet meals, you are sorely mistaken. That man can flat cook! He impressed the whole crowd and insured that he never has to swing a hammer at work week again! (Which may have been his aim all along).

Aside from eating like a glutton, the big kids and I also learned how to play Mah Jong (the board game). I say we "learned," but really we just began learning. There is still so much I don't know. But, man, did we have a good time! We will definitely think about investing in our own board so we can play at home.

We took the kids in to Ft. Davis on Saturday for ice cream at the drug store. That never ceases to be a thrill. And when we got back out to the campground, the kids discovered a whole other level of fun: climbing up on the dumpsters. Do we know how to have fun or what?!

And on Saturday night, as we sat on our deck, looking at the billions of stars (which we don't seem to have in this part of the world), we saw two HUGE shooting stars. I don't know what they really were, but they lit up the whole sky and were amazing.

We did a little work, had a lot of fun and got very dirty. It doesn't get much better than that!

"What was your favorite thing about Work Week, boys?"
"Definitely climbing on the dumpsters!"

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Small Town Living

Though I initially offered some resistance to moving to a small town, I have grown to love it very much. I frequently run in to friends and acquaintances when I'm out and about, and no one is too busy to stop and chat a while. In fact, even complete strangers seem more friendly and helpful. My pediatrician issues her cell phone number to patients and has been known to make house calls (though, thankfully, we haven't experienced that first-hand). I know almost all of my neighbors and get together with them often. Most of the stores are closed on Sunday, and life just seems to move at a slower pace. At the VBS open house, the snacks and ice cream were homemade, which just doesn't seem to happen in the city. And, on Sunday, not only did we accidentally leave the van unlocked and the keys in the ignition while we were in church, we actually left the thing running, and no one touched it. Nor would we worry that someone would if we were to have another brain dead moment at some point in the future. I'm so glad we have the opportunity to live and raise our kids in a place like this. It reminds me of my childhood, and it feels like home.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Working Vacation

We spent the last few days in Austin at a CC conference, where I received some necessary training and the kids participated in some fun day camps. Ruth was in a writing camp, where she honed some of her creative writing skills and even got selected on the last day to read her paper in front of 100 or more adults attending the meetings. She never faltered. She just stepped right up to the mic, told her name and where she was from, and wowed the room with her well-written and equally well-performed paper. Weston was in a Geography Drawing camp, and his group got up to show off some of their drawings and to perform a little song about the continents. Max was in "Play Camp," but they did much more than play. They worked on some of the upcoming CC memory work and got up to perform a couple songs about the parts of a plant and the classifications of living things. Clay was in the nursery, but his teacher told me she thought he was ready for college because he was so smart! The kids had a blast, and I was so very proud of all of them. My training sessions were fantastic, so it was a good experience for everyone.

And when we weren't at the practicum, we were playing at The Domain--a fun shopping area, with lots of cool restaurants and a couple of neat hotels. The kids played in the pool at our hotel and enjoyed The Domain's play areas. And I enjoyed poking into a few of the stores while Jeff watched the kids.