Thursday, June 27, 2013

Chasing Butterflies


These pictures are actually about a month old but I couldn't bear to let them go un-blogged.  Something about those blue sparkly wings paired with the blue dinosaur t-shirt on William.... This was a fun afternoon - those butterflies were hard to catch, but squealed delightfully when chased. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fishy Business

It's hard to know just how the day is going to go when the first thing I hear from William, who went downstairs a few minutes ahead of Amy and me, is "Mommy, there is water on the floor!" 

Last Thursday started out in this way - the three of us had been up for a short while, doing all our usual morning dressing/brushing/bed-making, which we always do before setting foot downstairs.  When William made his announcement I hurried downstairs to discover a quickly spreading puddle of water on the floor - coming from the 10-gallon fish tank.  Not good.  But with some fast thinking and some surprisingly helpful children we were able to avert a major crisis.  I grabbed the siphon hose and cleaning bucket and started draining off the water and got the fish moved to the bucket.  We grabbed the other play buckets from outside to catch the rest of the water as it drained off from the hose and used every spare rag towel and two bath towels to contain the water still leaking from the corners of the tank.  Amazingly the only damage to all our papers and art supplies stored below was a few soggy coloring books that were mostly used up anyway.  

After moving the shelf and cleaning the floor we had our breakfast, and all the while I started thinking about the opportunity for some new organization of that area. 

But first I got out the older, smaller fish tank and moved the poor goldfish to a better temporary (permanent?) home.  This was pretty much the highlight of Ollie's week.  


That paper behind it is Amy's quickly-drawn rendering of the morning's fish adventure - "so that the fish would understand what happened to them," she explained. 

Then, as part of my ongoing crusade against Too Much Stuff, I started rethinking just how necessary the shelf was at all.  I really liked how the big tank looked there, and it functioned well, but could all those art materials be either reduced or relocated?  So I had Don haul the shelf upstairs to my closet of misfit furniture and that left me with... 


A lot of stuff stacked all over the counters.  All weekend. A few things like the paints were easy to find new homes for, as there is storage under our easel that wasn't being used well.  But the more I tried to find drawers or other shelves for the paper or crayons or glue the more it just wasn't working.  

So after the kids went to bed last night I slid the shelf back downstairs, refilled the baskets (after ditching a few things), and restocked the shelves.  Decided that trying to eliminate this particular storage area and its stuff fell under the category of "cutting off my nose to spite my face."  


As for the big fish tank - there doesn't appear to be a crack, it seems the seals simply gave out.  We might try to reseal it, but I'm not sure if I'll bring it back or not. 10 gallons of water poised to spill all over the floor does give one pause.  

And on a more philosophical note, all I could think about while cleaning all this up was not anger or even frustration at the leak, but rather how grateful I was that it happened when it did. I can only imagine the horror our poor neighbors would experience if they discovered an empty tank, dead fish, and a flooded living room while cat sitting for us only the week before.  The mess would have been 10 times worse if had started in the middle of the night, or even an hour earlier.  The way I see it, s*** happens, and for the most part I am just grateful when it happens with such good timing.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Victory/Cozy Truck/Father's Day


This is a story about one of William's birthday presents.  It should be a simple story, but turns out there were a lot of themes wrapped up in this one large box.  

William adores cars and trucks of any kind, and when he received about $100 in birthday money from assorted family members I thought it might all be put toward a ride-on of some sort.  I refuse to get into the Power Wheels business, and spent a long time researching pedal-operated tractors and a lot of other cute vehicles on amazon, all of which were quite expensive.  Then I revisited the good old Cozy Coupe (or rather, the new version - the blue truck). I was worried he might already be too big/old for this, but was assured by some friends with bigger kids that it was plenty roomy (and it is). 

So, with two quick clicks I had a big box on the doorstep just in time for the weekend.  Saturday morning was spent outside on the shady front porch with two eager kids "helping" put together William's new truck.  Now, I had read warnings of the difficult assembly of these devilish plastic products but I have put together a lot of things in my day and was not deterred.  

Well, they weren't kidding.  After 90 minutes of assembly the thing was together and functional but something wasn't quite fitting right where the roof supports joined the front, and I had made a blatant mistake and forgot to put on a hubcap (though that I could blame on the neighbor boy stopping over to sell me something for a fundraiser... or the kids moving the pieces around on me... anyone but myself, of course).  But William was thrilled all the same and I was spent so we left well enough alone for the rest of the day. His outfit even matched the truck. 


By the time evening rolled around I'd had a chance to read some of the reviews and comments other people made on assembly, and realized that my issues were pretty typical.  So after the kids were in bed I took on this beast with renewed enthusiasm to make it Just Right.  


In addition to the suggested tools of hammer and screwdriver I also busted out a can of Pam, a utility knife, an old steak knife, and (not pictured) a rubber mallet, pliers, vice grips, and some WD40.  Phew. While the cats circled nervously I sat on the floor in the kitchen at 10 o'clock at night chiseling plastic out of the misaligned front support joints and lo and behold, the thing actually went together.  I did a little happy dance, and spurred on by my victory decided to take on my axle-hubcap mistake.  That proved a bit more challenging, as I had to remove the little "acorn nut" from the axle which is, by design, not supposed to come off.  I struggled with it for half an hour, cursing, pep-talking the stupid thing, and wiggling it just enough to give me some hope.  But in sheer exhaustion I called it a day at 10:30, and as my last act I soaked the nut with some WD40 and left it for morning.  

Sorry, this is getting to be a long story.  Anyway, sure enough, a fresh approach in the morning and I had the nut off after 5 minutes with the vice grips.  I don't think the kids have seen me that happy in awhile - I may or may not have sung a few notes of the Hallelujah chorus.  

I put the wheel and hubcap back on as they should have been and that was my Victory for the weekend. 

All of this seemed like a fitting Father's Day weekend activity.  I wrote back here about how much using tools and making stuff always makes me thing of my dad. And with Don gone a lot I my handy-manny skills are often called into service.  

So, it was a nice weekend - a satisfying one and a fun one and the weather was pretty. Now we are chugging through a cloudy afternoon and crossing our fingers that Daddy will be rejoining us sooner rather than later.  Will keep you posted! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trip Summary

Ollie and Humphrey
the goldfish
my little garden; a few (but not all) of the tomatoes
taking a shower of consistent water temperature
driving my Subaru
some pen pal correspondence from little ones to little ones (we'll get right back to you!)

Did Not Miss: 
95 degrees
fire ants
driving around in a hot car with kids whining about the hot car
nasty over-chlorinated drinking water

Sorry to have Missed: 
the mimosas in full bloom

Was glad to have Missed:
weather that, had we traveled a day later, would have made for an irksome flight home

Have not Missed, but might have liked to Miss:
C-130s buzzing our house tomorrow to spray for mosquitoes; last year this took 5 years off my life, I swear. Hopefully the advance notice will prevent the heart attack triggered by gigantic aircraft skimming the treetops unexpectedly at bathtime.

Continuing to Miss:
my husband, but not for too much longer (we hope)

Seem to be Missing: 
any interesting or appealing dinner menu ideas

Will Not Miss:
searching for (and often finding) deer ticks on my kids each night

Am Most Definitely Missing:
mountain laurels in bloom
strawberries from the garden
shade, and hills
big trees
creaky stairs
someone else doing the cooking
turning the kids loose outside; watching them discover all the things I loved growing up
bluebirds (any birds)
small town (home town) charm; little stores
endless conversation with my mom - over breakfast, late at night, and in between
hearing the kids exclaim "Pa!" when my dad got home from work each night


Each time we make a trip to my parents house (which has only been twice in the last 18 months - I guess three times if you count that we stayed there for a few weeks before moving) it launches me into all sorts of deep thinking about the meaning of home, qualities of a house, qualities of a town, what it means to belong somewhere, wondering why such loving families need live so far away (or, more accurately, why do we live so far from them), where I would live if we could choose, what's next for my family, what's next for my parents, how many more years will there be for my kids to make memories in the house I grew up in, why things change, how things stay the same, what is important, what is not.

And all of that is really hard to turn into a blog post without getting all sappy or predictably nostalgic. I have never been able to make it work. Sometimes home seems better posted in images, like I did a week or so ago.  Sometimes all the bumping and rattling in my head can only be made into a list (or a run-on sentence).  None of this is super heavy or anything, it's just thinking for the pleasure of thinking (something my mom and I do really well together)... trying to "figure out the perfect system," as we often say.

I don't really know the answers at all, I just know that it was a truly wonderful trip.

Saturday, June 1, 2013



The inside has changed many times over the years, but the outside of home looks very much the same as it always has.