Pool, Day 11

Nothing happened on the pool today, probably because we had a ton of rain last night and the yard is a soupy mess!  However, I noticed something new…water appears to be coming from somewhere else in the yard and pouring into the pool through one of the pipes.  It’s like the pool is trying to fill itself up, now!

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Matthew’s Birthday Party And A Few Of My Favorite Things

2014-09-06 12.38.30We recently celebrated Matthew’s 11th birthday.  I have a few pictures from the party but not much to report.  It was fun and I bribed my kid with promises to decorate the house to the hilt and thus save myself the cost of a party at Main Event.  And so I delivered…with a little help2014-09-06 10.24.38-2.


2014-09-06 12_56_582014-09-05 16_35_24Besides the party, we’ve been busy with school.  Samuel did get two more brackets put on his top teeth.  The teeth just on either side of his front teeth finally came in enough to add the brackets so we are hoping things move along quicker now.  He’s got a long way to go before he’s 2014-09-11 16.17.22done with braces.  He just came in while I was writing this post and said that he wished there was a cloud that followed him everywhere – with a hole in it for the sun to shine through – that constantly rained down candy on him.  When I said that wouldn’t be very good for his teeth, his solution was for there to be a cushion of vegetables around each tooth so that when you ate the candy, the vegetables would be against your teeth but you would taste chocolate instead.

2014-09-16 13_47_31And then there was the dog.  Today, while I sat in the chair and worked on my laptop, Snickers used my iPad for a pillow.  A little later, after digging outside in the mud, Samuel noticed her paws were muddy.  Before I could tell her to get off the couch, she started to clean them herself.

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I could write more, and I would love to fix the formatting of the pictures and the link to the video but I’m falling asleep with my eyes open and the kids aren’t even in bed yet.  When did I get so old???



I’d Like To Take a Moment To Brag on My Boys

Dave Ramsey would be proud.  My boys are growing up and learning the value of a dollar, and for the past two weekends, they’ve sold lemonade on the street for 50 cents a cup.  Here’s what their stand looks like:

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Here’s what it takes for them to get it down the street and set up:

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Meanwhile, here’s their competition:



Samuel in his new headgear

Samuel in his new headgear

When I was growing up, we used to wait with bated breath for the Sunday paper and the part we called the “Funnies”, aka the comic strips.  I haven’t seen a printed paper in so long, I have no idea if they still include those or not.  Do they even still print and distribute papers?  I assume so, since I still see paper stands around town.  Anyway, I loved the Funnies and have recently read in an article that comic books are now called “Graphic Novels”.  They are publishing textbooks in this format, even, for kids who aren’t strong readers but who enjoy comic books (mostly boys, I would think).

I don’t know how any of this relates to my topic, except that these days, we don’t need comic books to make us laugh – we live on a proverbial funny farm.  And yes, I am aware that a funny farm is a colloquial term for an insane asylum.  Most of the time, I feel like that’s exactly what I’m running here.  But then there are times when the inmates (aka, “the children”) are also just plain funny.  Here’s one example.

Peter gets out of school roughly half an hour after the other two, so I will often pick him up alone, after I drop the other two off at home.  I have found this to be one of my favorite times of the day, since it’s practically the only time my almost 13-year-old talks to me about school stuff.  And generally, we start off with me asking “How was school today?”.  He typically answers “Good” then launches into whatever he wants to talk about – a class or a friend or homework.  Today, when I asked my question, he answered “Weird”.  So I started probing further, until he finally admitted that they are studying the endocrine system in Science.  I started laughing and his face started to redden.  I asked if they learned anything about girls and how hormones affect them.  I thought for sure he was going to tell me something that embarrassed him greatly – which was, of course, why I was asking in the first place.  Instead he said “Let’s just say there was a lot of ‘Huh???  What’s that???’ followed by Ms. Miller (a first year teacher who was just married over Spring Break) saying ‘Ask your parents when you get home’.”

Finally…The Vacation Post!

For Spring Break, we rented a little cabin in Arkansas, at a place in the Ouchita Forest.  It was amazing.  I loved sitting on the back porch, feeling the cool breeze and looking out at the trees surrounding us.

I could also see a horse and hear it whinny from time to time. They offered horseback riding there – really trail riding – but unfortunately, you had to be at least 9 years old to ride alone, and Samuel is only 8. He could go, but would have to ride double with me or Brad, and having been there and done that before, I wasn’t about to spend all the money they were asking for the privilege. And it was a ridiculous amount of money. To sit on a horse and watch the back of the horse’s behind in front of you for an hour. I’d rather walk the trails, thank you.

There was an interesting mix of Cedar and Pine trees there. And Oak. We saw all a lot of cool things during our hikes. Our first was just on the property. We had a little hand-drawn map and what appeared to be a trail – although I use the term loosely. We walked down to the river, then followed a harrowing trail with one edge that was a sheer drop-off to the swollen Ouchita River and the other a steep hill. Or mountain, as the boys described it. Eventually, we had to move up the hill and the trail, which involved grasping at tree limbs and bushes and whatever you could reach to pull yourself up and keep from sliding down into the water. The boys scrambled up like it was nothing, of course, while I was just glad I kept from spraining an ankle or rolling back down into the water. That hike, which was supposed to be a short jaunt around the property, ended up taking around two hours and probably a few miles. Funny thing is, by the time we realized we didn’t want to make the entire round trip, we were through some of the worst parts of the trail and didn’t want to backtrack.

The boys quickly grew tired of walking, just about the time we realized we were going to have to make the entire trip. They started acting like they were going to pass out, complaining of thirst and hunger and anything else they could think of.  I was contemplating putting Samuel on my back when Brad whispered that I just needed to wait until they found something to take their mind off of it.  Sure enough, they found a fallen tree to bounce on and took off running as if they hadn’t a care in the world.

When we got back to the cabin, we had a “rest time” (aka, “give mommy a chance to nap time”), then took off for another hiking trail that was nearby. This time, we knew where we were going (sort of) and how long the trail was (1.8 miles out and the same length back). And again, we forgot to bring drinks. Thankfully, I brought my cellphone. It turned out to be invaluable because it has a compass app on it. I honestly never dreamed when I saw that on my cellphone I would ever have need of it, but lo and behold, I used my compass.

We didn’t hike the full way because, hello??? 1.8 miles!!! But we went a good distance – further than we had planned, in fact, and Brad and I sprinted part of it when the two little boys disappeared ahead of us and didn’t respond to our repeated attempts to call them back. I was proud of myself for not panicking for a full minute or two. But then I started imagining them missing the trail and getting lost in the woods and it getting dark and they wouldn’t know where to go and they would be cold and I could just picture the people volunteering to come sweep through the woods…and then we found them, running merrily along the trial ahead of us, splashing through mud puddles and having a blast. They were very sorry. They are even sorrier the next day, when they lost all screen time for the day. You wouldn’t think screen time would be a big deal staying in a beautiful cabin in the Ouchita Forest of Arkansas, but then again, you wouldn’t expect to find a hot tub on the back porch either. Or a flat screen TV with Dish Network. But there you have it – I agreed to vacation in a cabin in the woods, so long as there were proper amenities.

No one enjoyed the hot tub as much as Samuel.
No one enjoyed the hot tub as much as Samuel.
Driving to Arkansas, we went through some rain and fog, just about the time we got into the mountains…and some pretty winding roads.  Even Samuel was complaining of feeling car sick by the time we found a place to stop and catch our breath.
Our first night there, it rained.  And since every meal I planned involved the grill, my man did what he had to do – he grilled holding an umbrella.
Inside the cabin, the rest of us stayed nice and dry.  In fact, we had a fire every night we were there – the place replenished our supply of wood whenever we ran low.
FireplaceThe upstairs loft had two twin beds and the boys took turns sleeping up there – and one night, Samuel slept on the floor between the beds.
LoftBut once Matthew had a turn on the couch downstairs, he decided he preferred it to the loft and that became his new bed.  That was fine at night, but during the day, when we all wanted to use his bed, it caused a lot of conflict.
Here’s some nature pics from our trip, in no particular order:
On our last full day in Arkansas, we drove up to Queen Wilhelmina State Park.  Unfortunately, we didn’t bother to look at the website and see that it closed in March 2012 for major renovation and will not reopen until early 2015.  That was kind of a bummer, but we got to see some pretty spectacular views on our way down the mountain, so we weren’t disappointed.  Plus, there was a train!

Someone built this as a summer home years ago. It had something like 4 stories, including the basement.

different side


Mountaintop view2014-03-10 15.26.11 2014-03-10 17.05.20