Wednesday, July 27

Small Town Fun

Every summer, our little town hosts Concerts on the Courthouse Lawn. Granted, it's hotter than hades, and we live in the South. So it's like Hell, if Hell were humid. Obviously, we don't go very often. But we should. We have such a nice time every time we go.

The guy on the mandolin is the *son* of the guy on the far right. That blew us away. I don't know if it's clean living, or the mixed blessing of humid air that goes easier on the skin. But, wow. They were pretty good, and fun. They enjoyed being there and we enjoyed hearing them play. The guy on the upright bass (is that what it's called?) made it look Very Cool to play that thing. :-)

The Bigs enjoyed hanging out, chit-chatting, and listening to the music. They're cool to spend time with. I'm thankful for that.

The Littles had a harder time sitting still. I'm sure that's why they host it on the lawn, where there is plenty of room to run and dance without disturbing everyone who wants to hear. It's a nice family outing, and one of the many things we love about living in a small town.

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 25

Sweet Babies and Projects!

We got to kiss a baby today. All day! His Mama was off having a little sister, so he stayed with us today and tonight. Oh, so sweet. Oh my goodness so sweet. Also, I am old. I am old and slow. But he is so very sweet! And the picture of his baby sister? Oh, she's PRECIOUS! I can't wait to love on her in person, too!

John got to Scouts tonight, ready once again to sit his board of review. Third (fourth? fifth?) time's a charm, right? Well, not so much. The boys in the Troop have become very active lately, which is wonderful and awesome and all kinds of great. Unfortunately, that's put a bit of a pinch in the schedule for Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review. He's been "first on the list next time" every week since they got back from camp, the first week of June. For the most part, I limit my role in Boy Scouts to making sure they are there on time, have access to what they need to accomplish their goals, and general reminders to grab book/kerchief/shoes on the way out the door. The rest is up to them. Tonight, though, when it happened again, I had to point out that he keeps getting punted on this, and considering they've scheduled a Court of Honor for next Monday, I trust they'll make a point of arriving early so he can have his board *then* and not miss out on the Court of Honor due to no fault of his own. (Yes, he could/should/oughta say something on his own. He's young, and he's a little bit shy, and he's way too polite to tell an adult, "Really? You're doing this to me AGAIN?" Particularly when he knows it's not intentional. He'll get the hang of it, but tonight, he was just small. And disappointed. And I don't have those hangups. So, there you go.) We do have great guys leading the Troop, and one of them, whose son is sitting for his Eagle board tomorrow, volunteered to stay a bit longer so that they'd have enough adults and John could finally get this done. He's earned his Tenderfoot rank! He came out of that review absolutely beaming from head to toe, too.

The mailbox has been replaced. The boys helped with the design and the welding, and it's awesome! The mail lady also brought the mail with her today, so it's a good thing we got it up. I'll go in tomorrow and take the official hold off our mail.

James' bed is fixed and happy and he remembered to pull it out far enough that we don't have to stand on it to kiss Jacob goodnight in his bed.

Still doing the wash on the front porch, but I don't mind, as we've got thinset curing in the laundry closet! It'll have a tiled basin with a nice combing and a drain to address any future leaks and protect the floor. That's quite exciting, and completely worth a little Adventurous Laundry here and there.

Oh, and Zorak fixed the blades on the mower, so we mowed the front yard and upper meadow. We're feeling downright genteel at the moment. (Well, except for the porch thing, but like I said, that's not permanent. Please don't let it be permanent...)

In all, it's been a great weekend!

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 22

Well, there you have it...

Sometime Monday, folks got bored in the boonies and set out to play a little mailbox baseball. It was about time, truthfully. We've had this box for nearly two whole years, now. @@ Zorak won't let me rig the new one with paint capsules that coat the perpetrators in hot pink shame upon impact, though. James and I thought that would be kind of worth having to put up with replacing the box.

Meanwhile, we can't get our mail because our fruit loop of a mail lady keeps taking our mail on her route. She's not about to do anything ridiculous, like bring it to the door (she won't even do that when we have packages). The manager has told her to leave it because we'll be picking it up while we are hammering out the plan for the new box. They've had meetings about leaving it. Still, she takes it. No one can figure out why.

We broke a blade on the lawn mower. This isn't a big deal - you can only hammer those things straight so many times before they break - but the mower is parked in the un-mowed front yard at the moment. This comes into play here in a bit.

The boys' bunk bed broke on the trundle. Again. That trundle takes a lot more abuse than it was designed to take. We still love it, but we're getting adept at repairing it.

The drawer front on the bread box of the Hoosier came off. Just plumb came off! :blink:

Then the parts for the dryer came in this morning. WooHoo! It was the work of ten minutes to replace the broken bits and vacuum the insides thoroughly. We got the unit back into place, hooked it up, and started a load -- only to find the washer is leaking! There's no room to maneuver in the hallway, so we moved the whole thing out onto the front porch for troubleshooting. But then we had to head out. James needed to go into town to finish a project. I had made plans to meet friends with the rest of the crew. So the washer sat there...

With the mower.

And the mailbox post.

Amidst the tall, unkempt grass.

And that's when we remembered the rep from Window World was due out today! Ahhhhh. Naturally. Heh.

On the upside, we can do the wash on the porch, Buddy didn't get out again, and the inside of the house was picked up (gah, thankfully!)

Kind of anxious about what tomorrow's going to look like, though...

Kiss those babies!

Monday, July 18

Well that was a wild day!

Buddy has mastered the art of escape. He greeted us on the front porch early this morning with news that he only needs a cape and a gorgeous assistant and he'll be able to make his way in the world. Or he could have been wanting breakfast. It's hard to tell, really. In the meantime, however, we went on full alert trying to figure out his secret. He can't be getting out of the back yard at will, like that! Between the strays that loiter in the neighborhood and the cars that do 60 in a 45, it's just not safe to free range it out here. It took us about an hour, and four escapes, but we finally tracked it down. He watched us from the balcony, totally clueless about our intentions, as the boys and I hauled fencing around to bolster the area and get it blocked off. Then we stationed people in all the windows to watch and see if that was it. I let him off the balcony and he made a beeline for the one spot, then the other. Then, being utterly thwarted, he went to the back porch to hang out. *whew* Dodged that one.

Meanwhile, we were hanging clothes today, singing the praises of the clothes line and the sunshine. The dryer, however, was getting some hairy eyeball from at least two of us. It died last night sometime, leaving us with two loads of wet clothes and no warning. Zorak did the troubleshooting tonight while I took the Bigs to Scouts, and it looks like the problem is a $22 replacement part from Repair (love that place!) And then, because he loves me, he also chipped in for a new washer start knob (ours has been stripped for two years), and a new belt (because while you're in there, you know you might as well replace anything that wears out like that). It'll ship tomorrow, and should be in our hot little hands by Wednesday! Repair Clinic for the WIN! Boo-yah!

We hit the water park, then came home to prepare for the evening. John nailed the quarter mile improvement, which was all he had left to complete his Tenderfoot requirements, so he had his Scoutmaster conference tonight and will sit the board of review next week. It looks like we'll be having a Court of Honor in a couple of weeks, too! Very exciting to see the activity level ramping up in this Troop.

Man, I'm loving the water park. The kids sleep so deeply after a day there. And they're all improving on their water skills - far more than I thought they would, really. Jase is no longer afraid of water deeper than his ankles. Emily's not afraid of anything (kind of wish she was...) but she's comfortable putting her face in the water now (added bonus of making bath time significantly easier). Jacob can SWIM, now. Under water even! And James and John are both getting to be stronger, more confident swimmers all around. I just can't say enough how glad I am they have this opportunity. Good, good stuff.

However, the downside is that I'm about done, too. Still much to do, but this lady is going to finish yet another glass of water and hit the hay. They want to do it again tomorrow, and I'd like to be up for it! ;-)

Kiss those babies!

I'm too old for that!

Well, that was fun, but here it is, Monday morning, and I'm almost caught up on my sleep! WOW. I didn't think I was getting old. Well, no, I knew I was getting old - things have been giving out regularly for the last three years. But I thought... yeah. Moving on.

We went to Lacon Trade Day on Saturday to get chickens. Everyone says it's *the* place to get chickens. And lemonade. We got chicharrones and some cheap dodads. The weather's been too hot for the roosters to take care of business, so there were no chicks to be had. We missed the lemonade, entirely, but had a lovely time just roaming the place with the kids. Our kids are cool. I appreciate that. They were fun and funny and stayed close enough for us not to panic, and nobody came home with weird livestock. I really appreciate them.

Sunday, we made it to church (though not to Sunday School - that just seems to be a time hurdle we haven't managed to clear yet), then spent the rest of the day at the water park. That deal (skipping baseball and using the money on season passes to the water park) has turned out to be one of the best things we could have done. Everyone's having fun. Nobody has to sit in the hot stands. Nobody has to keep the littles from playing in the cigarette butts and sunflower seed spittle. There's none of that ridiculousness that goes along with Type-A parents trying to relive their own youths through yelling at their children. And we've eaten well all Spring and Summer. It's delightful, really.

Today, the dryer stopped squeaking. Actually, it stopped last night. I was so relieved it didn't dawn on me to check and see if something *else* had gone wrong. I should have checked. The wash this morning was still quite wet. The tub won't turn - not regularly, not even manually. It's completely seized up. I'm so thankful we have the line to fall back on. Aside from trying to time it around the thunderstorms, it's only a minor inconvenience, and at least it's not January! We'll take it apart tonight and hope for Something Minor to be the problem.

A friend of ours from Maryland is in town this week, so we're looking forward to seeing him while he's here. And, it looks like it's another week in the high 80's, low 90's, which is a beautiful reprieve and we plan to make the most of it! (Yeah, can't believe I'm saying that.)

Kiss those babies!

Friday, July 15

Milestone Fun

Last night we joined approximately half the population of Northern Alabama in attending the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. This was big for us, as we usually only see one movie in a theater in any given year. But added to that was that this was the first time Jacob had seen one of the Harry Potter movies in the theaters (he read all seven books in the last year, and then started over, just so he wouldn't forget anything important). And the first time any of us had gone to an opening showing of the HP movies. It was really great. For them, it was probably great for different reasons than it was for me. I so enjoyed spending time with them, doing something we can all enjoy together (so, not Victorian literature *or* video games). JK Rowling, for the win! Thanks!

We made wands at the last minute, thanks to an instructable a friend linked. You can find it here. And these are the wands they came up with:

From left to right: mine, James', John's, Jacob's, Emily's, Jason's. (The bigs helped design Em's and Jase's. The Littles picked their own colors.) Not bad for 40 minutes' work! Go teamwork!

The boys all created their own costume ideas and we managed to cobble them together without stressing out much. James, with his blonde hair, fair skin, and thin build, is just a natural to go as Draco Malfoy.

Jacob rounded up the much-used, much-loved Harry robe and accoutrements from the basement to reprise another round of Harry. His longer, wild hair was perfect for it this time. Zorak chipped in with an old pair of glasses (minus the lenses) when we couldn't find any in the thrift stores (and I'd bought what Z informed me were "not cool round Harry glasses", but were in fact, "thick nerd glasses". Huge difference. Funny, coming from the man who reads in a Ben Stein monotone, just to get out of ever having to read Harry Potter books at all. But when it really matters, he can nail it.)

John was going to go as Ron Weasley. We had this maroon sweater and had planned to switch out the 'G' for an 'R', a'la Mrs. Weasley's Christmas Sweater. One afternoon, John commented off-hand that it's too bad we couldn't do the ear or he could go as George. I remembered then that one of our friends does the special effects makeup for the haunted houses every year, and thought if anyone could do it, she could. So I got with her and asked if she could do it. She graciously said yes, and she. was. AMAZING! In less than fifteen minutes of work, she took off a good portion of John's ear.

We drove home from her place in a raging thunderstorm, and all I could think was man, if we're in a wreck I hope this ear doesn't cause any problem getting him diagnosed and treated! We made it home without incident. (Yay!)

Because of the last minute wand making, we were a couple of hours behind our planned schedule, but still set to be there early enough to get in line and have a shot at good seats. The storm set us back an additional hour, though, and we arrived at the theater only an hour before showtime. So our seats were not *great*, but that didn't dampen the experience.

The place was full of great costumes, happy people, high energy, and a fun mood. Some of the costumes were really fantastic. I wish I'd thought to take pictures. Luna in her roaring Lion's head, Mrs. Sprout, a snitch (he made several laps through the theater while people waited), Cho Chang, Voldemort, Neville... it was so much fun to see the creativity that went into people's costumes.

And the movie. Ah. Well, yeah. This is the first time I'm not the last person I know who sees the movie. I'll return the graciousness of those who just smiled and said, "Oh, you'll have to see it and then let me know so we can talk."

So. You'll have to see it, and then let me know so we can talk about it. ;-)

Kiss those babies!

Thursday, July 14

Summer electives

This week, in Science for Summer...

Spiders: some things really make you appreciate glass

Hormones & Bacteria: what they can do to you, why you should care, and what you can do about it. (It's accelerated course.)

Heat & Humidity: why you really don't want to do your Physical Fitness badge in the middle of summer. in the South. Let's just play in the sprinklers. Please.

Art: Hey! The basement stays cool! Let's play there!

Getting ready for the Harry Potter premier tonight! See you later.

Kiss those babies!

Tuesday, July 12

Heat Advisory

What do you do when it's too hot to be outside? Yeah, this is about it... Thrilling stuff.

Both of the bathroom sinks look lovely underneath, now, though. And still, the heat advisory continues. Today, they've added an "excessive heat warning". So, my goal for today is NOT to have to test the boys' skills at dealing with heat exhaustion or stroke. Better living through lower standards!

But we've been keeping busy, in spite of the heat. We've begun back to schooling and will continue to hit it hard for July, August and September. Probably most of October, as well. That gives us the leeway to kick back and enjoy the holidays without much stress or strain. Or fear of falling so far off the grid that we have to make up a whole new plan.

We finally (finally, FINALLY!) cobbled together enough adults for James to sit his board of review. He's now officially a 2nd Class Scout. And I think he's enjoying the feeling of accomplishment that goes along with it. It's a fight to get squirrels to run in a straight line, you know. But it's worth it. So very worth it. The only hurdle he has to clear to attain 1st Class is the 10-outing requirement. This Troop hasn't offered ten outings in the two and a half years he's been a Scout. :\ We're going to work on that. Later, when the weather stops with the hell-hound impressions.

And now, to tackle the day - water? check! books? check! children? Uh... gotta go round those up.

Kiss those babies~

Tuesday, July 5

The End of June, and Independence Day

We found a neat little spot to play in the river and enjoy the summer days with friends. It's not as POSH as some might like, and it's certainly no Destin, FL, but the kids had a blast, the picnic area is clean, and it's close enough to go regularly, so I'm going to call that a Win.

The rest of the week we've been trying to fix the back yard fence, which Buddy managed to find a way over (I think that's done), preparing for the Fourth of July Festivities (which went off without too many hitches), and gearing back up for Scout activity.

The Cubs made new neckerchief slides, and the siblings made patriotic necklaces, bracelets, and random dangly things. I love not having to worry about whether the balcony stays clean -- the kids had a wonderful time, and the other Moms are just fantastic! John really earned his stripes, too, helping with the littlest siblings as they painted with watercolors and made their crafts. He spearheaded the whole operation, stayed with them, handled the cutting and cleaning. Wow. I'm impressed, and proud of the work he did last week.

Today, the boys pulled a two-hour shift at the Spirit of America Festival. It was hot. It wasn't as hot as last year, and this year there was the faintest hint of a breeze, which was delicious. But it was still *hot*. The Suburban thermometer registered 108 there in the parking lot. ~ack~ Kids are tough, though, and we had to herd them back homeward long before they were ready. I have to admit, I'm kind of looking forward to the time Zorak and I can go do something else (read: indoors and air conditioned) while the kids go enjoy the sights and sounds and then meet us back home for a cookout in the afternoon! It's not that I wouldn't love to spend the day with the kids - it's that the kids are far more resilient than I am, these days.

Our next projects are a hike for the Boy Scouts, an outing for the Cub Scouts, and - God willing - another push on the house, to tidy up those little details that never quite got finished in the first place, so we can enjoy them before everything starts needing to be touched up again. I do wish we had these nice, long daylight-filled days in the fall or the spring, when it wasn't so hot outside (yes, I realize I'm wishing we could completely alter the laws of physics - short of being able to have a summer home in Nova Scotia, though, this is the closest pipe dream I can muster).

Happy Independence Day!
Kiss those babies!
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