Friday, July 31, 2015

seesaw tree

 In our campsite this year,
there was a fallen tree trunk,
perched on the hilltop in just the right way to make it a
perfect see saw teeter totter tree.

With enough people balanced on each end, they could sway it back and forth and up and down,
and Ellie giggled her overjoyed goat laugh for hours.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

camper #3

I think the best thing to say about this camper
is that she was the wackiest.

We've got mood swings galore going on with Ellie lately,
and camping was no exception.

The lows?
The panic first thing in the morning when she had to go potty exactly that minute but of course she's  just too sad to move. Every morning.
Being forced to wear coats.
Being forced to wear underwear.
Being forced to wear shoes.
Walking around the lake with very little very tired legs.
Any and every mealtime.
That time that her pants felt weird.
Forgetting to bring her cup of acorns ("my nuts!") on the walk around the lake.
Her blanket not being straight enough on her legs at bedtime.
Brushing teeth.
Having teeth at all.

The highs?
Giggles and dances walking back from the potty each and every time.
Shivering (aka "dancing" according to Ellie) in the lake for hours on end.

Cuddling with Nate and Jonah in the hammocks.
Eating licorice and fruit snacks to her heart's content.
Getting nuts to feed the squirrels from my uncle Kevin.
Catching a fish with LOTS of help.
Walking around the lake with "the very nice boy" (cousin Eli) who had yummy watermelon candy.
Playing in the dirt.

This girl. When she's happy, gosh she's adorable! 
We'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

camper # 2

 The easiest, happiest camper award goes to 
my Bubs. 

Seriously, guys,
Christian was stellar.  He napped in the Ergo carrier, slept just as well as he does at home (which isn't great, admittedly... we're working on it), and never made a fuss.  He loved staring at the trees, endless snuggles, watching the fire as the sun went down, and always being close to Mama.

But really, he's always a dream baby. It's like he got out ALL his tears in those first five weeks, and now? Nothing left to feel but happy.


 But still happy.

Camping with a baby was a lot of work,
but I don't think I could've had it any better.

Monday, July 27, 2015

the campers--

 Our annual Tony Grove camping trip was last week.

We had so much fun. Sleep-deprived, smoke-drenched, sticky-fingered fun.

Let's break down the campers, 
by enthusiasm:
First up--the most excited.

Almost six is a fantastic age, guys.
Nicholas is awesome. He's sweet and thoughtful and obedient and self-reliant.
We occasionally struggle with his need to challenge authority, but overall, he's just the sweetest.

And camping is probably his idea of heaven.

 This is his goldfish trail, designed to
"Make the chipmunks not so scared of us, Mom. They'll come to the trail and I'll teach them to come closer!"

 Tuesday afternoon was warm enough for the kids to do a little swimming. 
My aunt Rachel taught Nick how to use this mini kayak, and after a few moments of circling,
he got it.
And then he spent the next three hours (no joke!) paddling around the lake. 
He tied the little red tugboat behind him and paddled around, picking up floating toys, chasing the other kids, and being very careful about not going past the big log to where it was too deep.
 When he finally tried to stand up,
his little legs were so stiff he walked around like a skinny old man,
hunched over and crook-legged for a while.
I laughed until I cried.
Kids are awesome.

The best thing about Nicholas this trip, though, was how diligent he was about obeying the rules.
I made it clear the first day that I needed to know where he was at all times,
and that it wasn't safe to wander off without a grown up. 
(Because when he and Sam get together....they kinda lose sense of the real world)
So every time he wanted to go somewhere else,
he was so good and so careful to find me, explain where he wanted to go, and make it very clear that "There's lots of big kids and grown ups there and I'll be sure to look for cars."

He's a good boy, this kid.
And a wee bit silly.

Just a little.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

the tale of a showing

Once upon a Thursday, we had a house showing.
Usually, we'll get about 24 hours advance warning,
which gives us enough time to get the house cleaned up again.

Thankfully, we'd had a showing the night before, so the house was in a 15-hours-mess state instead of 75-hours-mess condition.
A 75-hours-mess would have been impossible.
As it was, I'm not sure the day could have been any funnier.

Let me tell you about it.

Thursday morning we started at swim lessons. 
Nicholas swam like a fish. Ellie sat on the steps and retrieved diving rings (with her hands---heaven forbid she get her face wet!), sprinkled with several crying tantrums when other kids would splash and get her nose wet.
Christian chewed on my hand.
When we got home, Kent called to tell me that the AC guy was coming to do our tune-up. And the kids were restless, so I texted my friend to see if her little boy could come play.

We got in a groove. The kids were playing, I cleaned up after our lunch. Christian was napping.

Then the AC guy showed up.
And guys, he looked and sounded and moved just like Jim Gaffigan. Seriously.
Like Jim Gaffigan, but in slow motion.  
After about ten minutes, he apologized for how sluggish he was....apparently he'd taken too much of his high blood pressure medication.
I began to pray he wouldn't pass out on my carpet.

While I was talking to Jim,
our kids' little friend showed up.

And then I got a text message.

We had a house showing. In 1.5 hours.
As the AC guy got started, I informed him that we had a house showing and I would be running around the house cleaning while he was working, and to just come find me if he needed anything.

Turns out,
he did need something. He needed to chat.
For 30 minutes.
We talked about Texas, humidity, Android, smart phones in general, the Nest thermostat, kids growing up too fast, the job market,
and I wanted to scream---"I've got to clean my house!!!"

As soon as he left, 
Nicholas and Ellie decided they should give their little friend a house tour.
Beginning with barging into the baby's room, naturally.
So much for napping baby.
Now I had 45 minutes to clean and I needed to do it with a 15+ lb baby on my hip who doesn't like to bend his body to make it easier for me to hold him.

Board-baby and I cleaned the house.
I finished with mere minutes to spare. 
Shoes on, dirty dishes stashed in the trunk of the car, snacks and water for the kids,
and then 
Ellie had a potty accident.
I got a puddle cleaned up and clothes back on a very emotional three-year-old in just 120 seconds.  I have to say I'm pretty proud of that. Not so proud of the tone of voice I might have used towards said emotional-three-year-old, but it could have been worse. 

We backed out of the driveway. We had an hour to be away from the house, and I didn't really have any idea where we were going to go.
The kids wanted to go to a park, but it was about a billion degrees (aka 105) outside, 
so we went to shave ice instead.
 And we ate veeerrrryy slowly.
They finished up with just ten minutes before we could be back home.
I drove home.  We were a couple of minutes early,
so I left the kids in the car to run inside myself to do the light-check to determine whether the people had come yet. 
(We can always tell if they actually came based on remembering which doors we left open/closed, and which lights we left on.  As people walk through, they always turn off at least 2 lights and leave doors open that I had left closed.)
It didn't look like anyone had come at all.
Confused, I proceeded to turn off all the lights and the movie projector in the basement, 
then I went back out the car to get the kids out.

That's when I got the call. The realtor had been running late and they wondered if they could come right now instead? 
He was in the driveway.

So we backed out and parked across the street, 
cranked the AC, turned on Curious George (thank you, beautiful van, for having a DVD player),
and Nicholas jumped out to play with his friend out in the yard while we waited.

The people didn't like the house.
They wanted a 3-car garage. And RV parking.
(And I'm pretty sure they could've seen from the pictures online that we do not have a three-car-garage. Or RV parking.)
But I got proof that even with a 3-month-old who refuses to bend his body when I hold him and a very emotional three-year-old, 
I can get my house show-clean in 45 minutes.
So there's that.
Although I am hoping I don't have to repeat that skill. Ever.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

favorite hits #1: the canyon

 Because we're moving,
I thought we should take this summer to do our most favorite things in the area again,
take pictures, and record a little bit about what our lives have been like while living here.

So, our favorite hits.
First off, the canyon.  We've been so lucky to live so super close to the mountains in this home. We can make dinner, pop it in some tupperware, jump in the car,
and be at a picnic site in the mountains while the food is still warm.

It's been a perfect place to get together with friends, build a nice campfire, and roast s'mores while the kids play and explore in the dirt.

I think my favorite memories are of our autumn drives.
The canyon is glorious in the fall.
We take snacks--apples, crackers, pudding,
and pull off the side of the road, sit in the back of the van, and eat pudding while we look over the valleys and marvel at the colors.

We went up again last week with some of our newest friends from this neighborhood.

It was HOT. 98 degrees there at our picnic site. And we didn't get to bring a picnic dinner because we had a showing that night so instead of cooking I was cleaning.
We grabbed Kneaders on our way up and had a makeshift picnic while we dripped in sweat.

I think this favorite hit deserves another chance before summer is over.....hopefully on a night a little less sweltering.

But, we had fun anyway--the kids threw rocks and dipped their toes in the river, and we had fun chatting and getting to know our new friends a little better.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

birthday 4th

 For Kent's birthday and the 4th of July this year we drove up to my parents' house.
It was a fantastic weekend--
Kent and I got to go on TWO dates on his birthday, (thanks Mom!)
lots of fireworks,
beautiful sunsets,
shave ice,
building castles in the sandbox,
Texas brisket and creamed corn,
Oreo mud pie,
and lots of hours practicing swimming skills in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard pool.

 I always feel like birthdays should be a big deal,
especially this year---he turned 30!!
But Kent's favorite kind of birthday is one where we don't really do anything special for him.
He just wants fireworks and good food,
and so that's what we give him.

I do have the kids pick out their own presents for him each year. This year Nicholas gave him poptarts (the fudge sundae kind because "they look the most birthday-ish") and Ellie gave him these super fun foam airplanes that only got stuck on the roof twice and in the tree once. 

Watching Kent and my brothers and Dad attempt to get the airplane out of the tree was almost more fun than watching the airplanes themselves.
 Ellie started off afraid of the water, not even willing to let us let go of her,
but after much patient (mostly) practice and work with me and Kent, 
she finally realized that she could float and that it was actually fun.
 And then we couldn't get her out of the pool without many many tears.
We'll have to go back again before summer's over.

 Christian also loved the pool, but he liked sitting with Grandma Murray just as much.

 The night of the fireworks, I stayed home with the kids so I could put Christian to bed 
(our children, all three of them, are terrified of fireworks. We tried to help them like it better, but after so many episodes of screaming and terror, we've given up and just put them to bed before the fun begins)
while I nursed my baby in the quiet calm house, I got to watch a most beautiful Fourth of July sunset.

Monday, July 6, 2015

magic tricks and knock knock jokes

 To say my kids like jokes and magic tricks is a bit of an understatement.
This morning I spent forty-five minutes watching Nick's "tricks,"
and on a daily basis Ellie tells this joke:
"One day there were two muffins in an oven. 
One muffin said 'whew it's getting hot in here.'
The other muffin said, 'ah! a talking muffin!"
Oh, about thirty times.
Every single day.
And she laughs hysterically each time. And I'm expected to laugh each time too, naturally.

If I don't laugh at their jokes, they're offended.
"Why didn't you like my joke, Mom??"
And if my laugh is too forced, too fake, they notice right away.
"You're just pretending! You didn't like my joke?!"
I'm getting to be a professional fake-laugher. I'm adding it to my resume.
It's super duper fun, guys.

Today Nicholas gave us a show. He makes things "disappear."
We have to close our eyes. Of course. The magic won't work if we're looking. 
 He also makes things get "hard and strong."
He'd smush the pillow, then wave his hands over it, and magically, the pillow was then too hard for him to press his hand into! 
And hilarious.
 He told me that he learned how to do magic in preschool.
The only way they could get to the next level, he said, was if they learned how to make themselves disappear.
He was the first one to make himself disappear. His teacher, he said, told him he's the best at it.

But he couldn't show me that trick today.
"It's still loading.
I can only load two tricks a day, Mom."
Of course. What was I thinking?

This is the life, guys.
Little kids are the best.